Order of the Heartblossom

From the rotting remnants of what was comes the beauty of something new. Strive for life, as do the great trees!
  The Order of the Heartblossom is a largely divine order that operates in Kohana Forest, Tsukirai. Though largely being an order of monks, clerics, and gentle samurai, the order does not centre itself around a core philosophy, nor does it enforce the worship of a particular deity. Instead, heartblossom trees are at the centre of the Order's religious veneration, and form the basis of their entire system.   Heartblossom trees are a rarity, being trees that grow only from the corpses of those skilled in magic. That there is an entire forest of them speaks to an ancient disaster, war, or perhaps even genocide - it has never been clear what truly caused this influx of trees.   The lack of mentions in the far past suggest that it was created by one of the Empire of Meihua's many atrocities, but the potential disasters of the past matter little to those in the Order today. Instead, the Order focuses entirely on renewal, rebirth, and rejuvenation.  
Order of the Heartblossom by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  The order's headquarters are a series of wood and stone temples and structures nestled among the grove; much of their greater complex is located within the mountains to prevent damaging the trees. Any wood used in construction was either taken with permission from the land and replanted, or harvested from naturally-fallen trees over the years.

History

In the tall peaks of the Talmian Range that rest against the outer edge of Tsukirai and peer across the sweeping rivers and rolling hills of the Tulaant Steppe, brilliant pink blossoms herald the coming of spring. The rare trees from which these flowers bloom grow only from the corpses of magical beings, and founded their mountainous grove whilst the Empire of Meihua still reigned. In the years since Meihua's fall, they have grown tall enough to snatch the breaths of even the most experienced travellers.  

Heartblossom Tree by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

It was their presence that inspired the Order's formation. An exhausted mage of significant power, Kaede Yamawara, and her cohorts stumbled across the grove when a teleport returning them to Tsukirai failed spectacularly. Kaede, as the group's mage, had suffered a deep injury as she teleported her cohort away from battle, and collapsed against one of the heartblossoms.   Much to the surprise of her allies, she did not fall unconscious and pass away. The tree instead absorbed the dying mage into its core, and fearful of supposed demon tree, her allies camped nearby and planned to attempt a rescue. Before they could act, however, their friend approached them.   Kaede was much changed from before her fall into the tree. Her dark hair and eyes were now as scarlet as the blood that had stained her dress, and whilst she had formerly been human, she now bore the telltale pointed ears of one touched by the fey. She was more vibrant, too, her energy at an all-time high, and yet her memories were all the same.   The trees, she explained, could grant rebirth to those they saw as worthy - and her actions had stirred the hearts of the mages they had been once, long ago.
  Though her allies were uncertain, Kaede continued on with them in battle and used the heartblossom trees to save a number of her friends in similar ways. Through her bravery, she made a name for herself as a powerful sorceress, and when the wars had ended, she decided to thank the trees. She led a veritable army of those she'd saved and those she loved up to the trees and established the Order there, declaring that from then on, those seeking rebirth or rejuvenation could come to them for healing, rehabilitation, and renewal.  
Over time since, the Order's duties expanded, With the significant magical knowledge and martial ability they had, it was an easy thing to transition parts of the Order into a training academy with a strict code of protection and loyalty.   Knights of the Heartblossom would return to Tsukirai and aid the druids of the land in their restoration of areas damaged by magic and war, or would spread extra of their harvests to the common folk in the harsh winters.   Eventually, Kaede passed away. Her body was buried in the grove as she had decreed, and from it grew the largest heartblossom yet.   Thus was a final line added to their decree - if the heartblossoms had offered you renewal, the greatest honour you could give would be to then offer them the return of their power when your time came to an end.
Heartblossom Temple by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  Though this has not always been respected and is not mandated, the grove has still grown significantly since the Order's establishment. A voluntary donation of power to the wellspring of the land - and one that has ensured the Order's prosperity.

Tenets of Faith

To see the Heartblossoms in bloom is to know that your sacrifices were worthy.   You are granted renewal in their branches. Cast off what ails you, and breathe with the trees.

To see bright petals swaying every which way in the brilliant light of the sun is to know that you are much loved.   Spend time with your cherished ones, and find your peace.
Shrine of the Heartblossoms by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
To see the blossoms turn red and fall down is to know that they are a gift to you, their caretaker.   Be responsible with this gentle trust, and think through every decision with great care.

To see the chill of winter steal blossoms away is to know that not all of life will survive, and that some sacrifices are worth making.   Give up what you must, and stay strong through the winters.

Ethics

The edicts of the Order of Heartblossoms are not complex.  
  • Do no harm, unless harm was done to you;
  • Guard the innocent from needless violence, protecting land and people from wars that they did not start nor wish to fight;
  • Protect the natural world from unnecessary damage, preserving its state as best you can;
  • Forgive yourself for your failures, and accept that the past cannot be changed;
  • Share freely in your love, care deeply with all emotion;
  • Sacrifice if you must, but know that you will be remembered;
  • Think clearly in times of strife, and grant clemency when needed;
  • Evil is a poison, but not all evils are irredeemable;
  • Like a tree, you must grow in all ways possible;
  • What is given must be repaid;
  • At journey's end, return home and rest.

  • Visions beyond the Heartblossom Trees by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

    Altar to the Heartblossoms by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
    Type
    Religious, Holy Order
    Demonym
    the Heartblossoms
    Parent Organization

    Cavalier & Samurai Players

      The Order of the Heartblossom has produced many cavaliers and samurai over the years.   Players wishing to select the Order of Heartblossom must follow the edicts listed in the main article, but may choose the benefits of the Order of Blue Rose, Order of the Green, or Order of the Blossom.   Once chosen, this choice cannot be changed.
     
    Scroll depicting a heartblossom tree by Hanhula (via Midjourney)



    Cover image: Heartblossom cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

    Comments

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    Journeyman TheDumbOwl
    Alex (TheDumbOwl)
    16 Jul, 2022 23:04

    God this is so beautiful and lovely and I love it!!   I know for certain that Burdyr would, too.

    19 Aug, 2022 19:58

    Burdie can learn about it at some point in the future and be wistful over the idea of it! Maybe he and Tal can visit one day; Tsukirai is not *too* far away from Galasthin.

    8 Aug, 2022 20:06

    I love the origin story of this order!   I was wondering... what sort of fruit does this tree give? And do people of the order eat it or do anything with it?

    19 Aug, 2022 20:00

    My original concept had them consuming the fruits and losing their minds, so, er, something lighter than that. I suppose the trees give plum-like fruits - soft, sweet, and juicy - that likely give a small boost in casting spellpower, maybe with a seasonal bonus to certain skills; in spring, they aid healing, in autumn, they aid with understanding nature etc.

    22 Aug, 2022 14:55

    How you create such a detailed, stylized and well-written article for summer camp is just amazing. Really enjoyed reading the history. Great work!