Loving Mother Oak
There was once a young elven girl who lost her mother and father to a great fire. She had no other family or friends to care for her and no home to return to. With nowhere else to go, the young girl wandered the forest, feeling very sad and alone.
However, the woods were not a safe place for someone as young as her. Where would she get food? Where would she sleep? How would she stay warm during the cold nights? As the young girl realized her troubles, she began to cry.
The young girl wept as she continued walking, until the skies darkened and she became too tired to continue. Teary-eyed, she found a place to stop, in front of a great oak tree. She curled up by the tree's humongous roots, shivering. The young tried to make herself rest, but she remembered how her mother and father would stay by her side, which only made her weep more. There was no one to comfort her then. Only the forest could hear her sobs.
With her heart heavy, the young girl closed her eyes...Then, she heard an echoing voice ask, "Little one, why are you crying?"
Her eyes bleary, the young girl sat up and searched the dim forest for the voice's owner. "I am alone now. Please don't hurt me," she answered through teary sniffs.
The voice came again, "Do not be afraid, little one, for I shall not hurt you." This time, it sounded soft, sweet—not unlike her mother's voice had been each night.
The young girl thought it came from very nearby. She stood up to search around the great oak, but she only managed to step over one of the roots around her before she had to lean against the tree's trunk. Her legs felt too weak from her wandering throughout the day.
"You are tired..." the voice softly spoke to her. "You must rest."
"I want to, gentle voice...but, the ground is hard." The young girl felt her tears coming once more.
There was silence for some moments. Then, the girl saw leaves falling from the great oak. One after the other, the leaves fell upon the ground. She watched them pile into a bed within a wide space cushioned between the roots.
"Rest here, for now you may lie upon the soft leaves, little one."
The young girl laid on the leafy bed. "It is very soft, gentle voice...but, the night is still cold."
Again, leaves fell from the great oak's branches, but this time, they fell perfectly over her small body like a blanket.
"Rest now, for here is warmth, little one."
"Thank you, friendly voice," the young girl called out. She closed her eyes to sleep. Minutes passed, but she only tossed about in the bed of leaves.
"What is the matter now, little one?"
"This bed is soft, and this blanket is warm, caring voice..." the young girl began. "But I still feel very alone."
Then, the young girl watched, awestruck, as one of the great oaks branches began to move. Like a lithe arm, it lowered towards the roots and stopped just above her head.
"Do not feel alone, little sapling," the voice crooned. The branch gently caressed the young girl's head. "For I shall be with you."
Comforted by the tree's touch, the young girl closed her eyes. With a soft smile on her face, she finally drifted off to a peaceful rest, murmuring, "Thank you...mother...oak..."
The most poular version of "Loving Mother Oak" tells the story of an orphaned young girl who wanders the forests alone. During her first night of solitude in the woods, the young girl encounters a friendly voice that seemingly belongs to a sentient, magical great oak tree. The tree provides the young girl with the comfort of a leafy bed, warmth, and companionship to help her rest through the night. From that point forward, the Mother Oak becomes the young girl's guardian. More subtly, the story touches upon the caring and beneficial relationship between the elven girl and the natural world.
"Loving Mother Oak" is based on the story of Queen Xolara Ke an Eri's beginnings. Xolara's tribe had been destroyed by the haenkrul, fire-based extraplanar creatures who destroyed swathes of the western Feylands during the Building Times. Orphaned, Xolara mysteriously survived in the surrounding forests for years on her own, though she claimed to have been cared for by the surrounding nature. The queen's fantastical origins were then adapted to be told to the youth of the Kingdom of the Evergreens. The great oak tree, typically considered an avatar of the goddess Visarias Eri, mentioned in the story is considered to be the same oak where the wood elf Aelt chieftess Seane later found the young Xolara before adopting her.
The children's tale is known in practically every household within the Kingdom of the Evergreens, though Queen Xolara's prominence in Feylandian history has seen it spread to other regions. Since the end of the War of the Scourge, the story has also permeated in some areas of the continent of Varia.
Variations & Mutation
The central plot of "Loving Mother Oak" has remained unchanged throughout the Kingdom of the Evergreens' tens of thousands of years of existence. Other versions of the story have emerged, however; they typically detail the young girl's time spent in the care of Mother Oak. In these other tales, the young girl learns to search the woods for food, navigate the woods based off natural signs, and other survival lessons. Sometimes, the young girl also encounters dangers in the forests, though she is usually saved by the magic of the sentient tree. Mother Oak serves as a helpful guide, parental figure, and protective guardian for the young girl but still gives her the freedom to discover herself over their time together.
Within the Evergreens, "Loving Mother Oak" is among the first stories that any child will hear. The tale portrays the origins of the Evergreens' first queen Xolara, the kingdom, and the Eri dynasty. High-elven and gnomish focus on Xolara's characterization and typically connects the tale with the first queen's divine connection to Visarias Eri. Wood-elven populations tend to focus more on nature as both a powerful and caring force.