Sprite Spruce or Sprite Wood is formed when a spruce (or any other conifer tree), is inhabited by a Winter Sprite. When a winter sprite hollows out an area of the tree for its dwelling, it will coat the inside with a dust from its wings, and then seal it in with sap. The sap and dust seep 1-2 inches into the wood to strengthen it and keep it alive despite the internal damage of the new dwelling. This is the only way sprite spruce can be made, so it is an extremely rare material only found in the woods of Koljorn.
Sprite spruce is an exceptionally beautiful material while also being durable and boosting the power of magical effects to a small degree. It naturally takes on a variety of colors, ombres and glittering effects which are enhanced in the refinement process. This makes the material extremely desirable and expensive. Sprite spruce is used for wands, weapon grips, religious symbols and magical focuses with leftover pieces turned into beads or small tokens.
A wand made from sprite spruce can cost upwards of 10,000g, while a string of sprite spruce beads can cost 500g-1,000g.
The hardest part of harvesting the sprite spruce, is finding it. Harvesters of the material will go out at twilight looking for winter sprites to follow home, but a suspicious sprite will lose a tail in the forest so harvesters must get creative. Sometimes it's just a matter of luck to run accross a tree with a sprite dwelling, but even then they can be difficult to spot if the sprite was smart and made their dwelling high up in the tree.
Once the tree has been identified, it is cut down. The section of tree containing the sprite spruce is removed and brought to a workshop for further refining. Sometimes the entire tree will be brought back, but not always.
Once in a workshop, the wood around the outside of the sprite spruce is widdled away until only a dark or colored, glittering wood remains. Depending on the coloring and variation of the wood, it may be charred, sealed with wax or treated in some other way to emphasize its properties. The refined wood is then cut to spec when purchased by craftsmen at a steep price.
Winter sprites obviously do not prefer this practice of tearing down their homes, and so this has led to poor relations between the winter sprites and other local peoples. Many winter sprites have become territorial of the forest, attacking anyone who enters a clan area or at a minimum sabotaging their gear.
One particularly prolific harvester was approached by a clan of winter sprites with an offer. He would cease hunting and would not teach his hunting methods to any other soul, and in return the clan would come and treat a small plank of wood with their method of dust and sap every week. The harvester readily accepted this deal, and is now one of the richest men in Ëlbjonkal. Other harvesters seeking a similar deal have not had such luck however.
After an incident where and entire section of trees was culled in search of sprite spruce, and left to rot, several laws were enacted by the council in Ëlbjonkal regarding sprite spruce practices. In order to legally sell the prized wood, you need to be a licensed harvester, with only a handful of harvesters permitted at any given time. Crafted items are also required to carry a seal of the harvester when sold in order to be sold as a sprite spruce product. Finally, Ëlbjonkal outlawed the sale of sprite spruce everywhere in the world except within its own city limits. While the council has no way to actually enforce this final law, it is used as a method of deligitimizing replica and fake sprite wood products outside the city.
Some elves in the area have been petitioning to outlaw the practice of harvesting sprite spruce entirely, however they have found very little support on this. Ëlbjonkal benefits financially from the material, and even expected allies such as Druids are not in favor of outlawing harvesting because Winter Sprites are not native to Estia and are considered invasive and damaging to the Ëlorn forest.
I really like this idea! A very rare material, made by fey to survive, and used by other people for their own benefit. Rainbow colored wood does sound really beautiful! A couple questions: Does the wood come in multiple variatons? Is it always this rainbow colored like in the image you used? Is it dangerous to cut down those trees? Do the pixies defend them in any form while someone tries to chop it down? As this material is so precious, are there rules about who may cut down the trees? Can anybody just take it when they find it, or is it under fine if you don't have permission? Seems like if anyone could regulate something this precious, they probably would? You are talking about someone making a deal with the sprites. Does that mean he is the only (or at least the cheapest) supplier now? Did that impact the availability of Sprite Spruce in general?
Thanks Satrium! I used your feedback and have cleaned up, done some reorganizing of the article and expanded a few areas (like regulation). Really appreciate the read and comments!!
C. B. Ash
This is a very, very fun idea! I like this! I can certainly see how this could easily become a cornerstone of an economy for an area! And how the elves would take offense at these getting cut down! Some questions and thoughts: Most plants, especially long-lived trees, have a risk of disease. Often this is based on the weather but not always. Is there a common disease, like say a type of blight, that can infect one of these trees, making it unusable? If there is a type of blight or illness that can infect this species of tree, has there been something that someone, say an alchemist, has come up with to cure a tree with this kind of illness? What about insects or arachnids? Is this type of tree known for a certain type of insect or arachnid? An example is that fig trees tend to be inhabited by a certain species of spider. Are any type of birds known to call the tree home? Like say a type of bird that eats insects attracted to this type of tree? Or an animal that uses the tree as a home because of the protection the sprite provides?
Thanks for the read and comment! It's funny you mention blight, because this material is partially inspired by Agarwood, which becomes more valuable after being infected with mold! I like where you are going with the questions, and I'll definitely be expanding this more with related articles!! Thanks again for the feedback!!
C. B. Ash
You're very welcome!
This is a fascinating material! I love how deeply you dig into the consequences of harvesting the rare wood, and how it affects interspecies relations. The detail about Winter Sprites being an invasive species is an interesting twist in the end - I see why the Druids do not object to people cutting down the Sprites' dwellings.
Creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source. My pledge for WorldEmber 2022 turned Worlduary 2023