Wednesday, December 13, 2006

tales old men tell when the fires are low and they are filled with too much drink

There is a forest at the edge of the world. A deep, silent forest of old growth trees that have been there since before the dawn of mankind. There is knowledge in this forest; and such memory. But few have ever treaded within its shrouded depths and with good reason.

Venture not to the center of the forest, lest ye perish. There is a single tree that marks the center of the forest and it is the Tree of Death. Counterpoint to the Tree of Life from which springs forth eternal life and wellbeing, this is a tree of such malignant nature that it will bear no fruit. No leaves or blossoms will grace its branches. Some would claim that it is simply another old dead tree in a forest full of old dead trees. But this tree is not dead. She pulses with unholy life; black sap coursing through her. The Tree of Death is home to the Devil’s own watchers, the First Murder of Crows. They are the gatekeepers. For this tree is the second gate of hell. Do not think the gate lightly guarded because no threeheaded beasts are extant. The First Murder of Crows are no mere birds. The Eaters of the Dead; consumers of both decrepit soul and pallid flesh.

There is a tree that stands alone in a barren wasteland at the farthest edge of space and time. There are no roads that lead to this tree. There is nothing and so very much of it. It is a gnarled tree, a serrate oak, utterly useless and completely out of place. There are many names for this tree, but the most popular name, the most well known appellation for this seemingly indistinct tree in the middle of nowhere is the Tree of Death.

The leaves and blossoms of the tree are ever and always black, petals falling to earth gently drifting upon the breeze, like a silent omen of destruction. The fruit, withered and unappetizing, is the color of dried blood. To eat of the fruit of the Tree of Death is to know Eternal Darkness; to dine with Lucifer and drink with Belial; to join the Great Hunt and the ranks of the thrice-damned Goatherds.

The Tree of Death was once surrounded by trees of every description; the centerpiece of the greatest garden ever known to man. But with the Fall of Man, what once brought the knowledge of good and evil could only now provide death. Its corruption spread until it destroyed the rest of the garden by its own damned presence and its root system ran all the way to the depths of hell where it found fuel for its insatiable nature. And so it stands alone, on the edge of space and time in a land long forgotten by the race of man.

Two roads meet in the desert. They travel just slightly off the cardinal directions, but only ever so slightly. This is no ordinary crossroads, this is the Crossroads. This is where Legba tuned Robert Johnson’s guitar and the blues were born for the price of his soul. In the southwestern corner there is a tree, a hangman’s tree. The noose hangs such that the dying may be framed by the arc of the setting sun. This tree is no ordinary lynching tree. This is the Tree of Death. The Devil’s own gallows, a direct conduit to hell and thinning of reality: one of the easiest places to cross beyond.

There are many stories about the Tree of Death. Some would have you believe they are only stories, myths not worth living by, superstitions not worth keeping. But those people would be wrong. The Tree of Death is as real as the Tree of Life, providing balance as all things in nature must. There are some that would say the Tree of Death is a cherry tree with black petals or an oak tree complete with a hangman’s noose. The truth of the matter is something else entirely. The Tree of Death is no ordinary tree and thus it cannot be classified by ordinary terms. It is much much more. To underestimate the Tree of Death, to dismiss it casually, would be rash and inadvisable to say the very least.

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