|Official Name||Brass-heart Tree|
|Common Name||Firebane Tree, Ellmår’s Bane|
|Common Use||Utility, Artistic|
|Habitat||Temperate to cold climates|
The Brass-heart Tree was once a symbol of paganism reviled by the Unionist Regalian Empire but celebrated among the faith of the Old Gods as a part of an ancient myth, and a symbol of the Union of Earth and the Union of Fire. However, with the rise of the cult of God Empress Elia, the beliefs in the Tree changed drastically. The faithful instead connected it to her nickname, the Brass-Fist, eliminating its Old Gods derived names, and it became commonly used in the worship of the Divine Being. While some of the Old Gods faith still keep to their old ways, ignoring the Unionist co-opting of one of their sacred plants, many others have largely ceased their religious attachment to the Tree.
What is now widely known as the Brass-heart Tree was once called a variety of other terms in many Ailor tongues across the Regalian Archipelago and the Proto-Velheim (later Velheim) world. Its most common name was derived from the Old Gods faith, where Handrin was given credit for having blessed the tree with invulnerability from Ellmår’s rage, after the goddess destroyed a chest of goods belonging to Julvira she believed contained poison meant for her Maarda. While the wider myth associated with this episode is equally as strange as this circumstance, Ellmår’s Bane, or Firebane Trees as they were known, were considered holy plants by the faithful to the Old Gods. This was why they were spread across the Velheim trade network, with many a shrine or site to the Union of Earth possessing such a plant within it. Boxes were kept of the material to hold valued items and to ask for promises of love and kindness from the Union of Fire. The Cataclysm alongside the warfare and conflicts that came soon after resulted in the plant’s gradual decline, but the birth of Unionism also did not help.
While none actually worshiped Brass-heart Trees, they were still seen as symbols of paganism, especially in relation to the Velheim and the Skagger Horde dominating Drixagh whose relationship with the burgeoning Regalian Empire rapidly deteriorated. Many of these trees located across the eastern forests of the Archipelago, as well as those in the colder reaches of Anglia, were destroyed though oddly the Breizh kept the trees as they were, while Highland territory did the same. In the broader north of Aloria, the tree continued to survive and even thrive, but by 200 AC, Brass-heart Trees were almost extinct in the Regalian Archipelago. However, the tree survived and even thrived in the coming decades due to the rise of Emperor Allestrain I (later God Emperor Allest) and his wife, the eventual God Empress Elia. As the worship of Elia grew in the years following her death, Unionist clergy involved in her worship as part of the Elin Cult attached importance to the Brass-colored tree known then as a pagan symbol. After many years, the tree finally stopped getting cut down, burned, or neglected by Unionists and instead was fully embraced as part of their own mythology. This was aided by reports that Elia had taken Brass-heart Tree wood during her campaigns, using it to make the boxes in which her special Bronze armor was kept. Since that time, Brass-heart Trees have been renamed and used in Unionist worship of this Divine Being, and are even more actively accepted across the Archipelago than they are in the whole of the north, whose use of the plant has waned since its co-opting by Unionists.
Brass-heart Trees stand at a towering twenty to forty feet when properly healthy, with a thick base of deep, hard-to-remove roots keeping its size stationary. The plant’s bark is rough and heavily lined with a deep, gleaming copper-brown tone to it while the Tree’s leaves are hastate in size with a bright orange color year-round. However, the tree’s internal woodgrain is its most unique feature as it is solid black, with a sparkling, golden gleam when viewed under the light.
Uses and Abilities
Brass-heart Trees have great religious significance for several Ailor faiths and groups, but the most notable are among the Unionist faithful due to its ties with one of the most well-known Divine Beings, Elia. As a result, Brass-heart Trees are planted by the devotees where it is possible for them to grow, while they are also used to decorate Unionist temples across Aloria. However, the tree’s lumber is what sees the greatest use due to the plant’s high resistance to fire, a strange trait found in the tree’s wood. This wood is often used in urban areas in chests or essential or important goods given the frequency of fires, but it also sees use in the small locket boxes kept beneath statues of Elia which are part of her worship. These hold notes from or about loved ones, as well as diaries or secrets with an expectation of protection, which has layered meaning. Some Old Gods faithful keep similar boxes, but they are devoted to the Union of Fire and are focused on protecting loved ones and also hoping that someone finds a loved one in the near future or that existing love remains. Most Old Gods worshipers instead keep the tree natural and as a reminder of the wisdom of Handrin, but others also carve artistic objects from the material.
- The box which supposedly held Elia’s unique armor is not in her tomb, but is said to have been inherited by an Imperial relative.
- There exist a group of Brass-heart Trees known as the Primal Hearts, dating back well over 500 years, with the three best known being Ironsoul, found in Morlaz in Kintyr, Ellmbarn, found on an island off the shore of Drixagh, and Förgylld-Tillväxt, on Cain.
- Velheim wood carvings made of Brass-heart Tree wood have grown in popularity over the past several years, as the destruction brought upon Velheim art by the Burning of the North is still a fresh scar in the minds of many.