Once upon a time, there was a small, poor village called Theed. They were located high on a lush, green plateau, isolated from the rest of the world. Not one tree grew in the expanse of the place, earning it the common name Treeless. Only about seven families lived here, but even though they had no money, they were better off because of the fertile farming soil.
Nevertheless, they were never completely content.
But one day, their situation would change completely
Mr. Makninin was leading his team of ox, plowing his property for the next barley crop. It was a sweltering day, and enormous beads of sweat dripped off his brow. I could do with a nice break, not to mention a servant doing this for me. He thought wistfully.
But Mr. Makninin could not afford to take a break, if he stopped now and waited for tomorrow, he would not finish in time for sowing day.
So he trudged on through the dirt, his oxen grunting with effort.
Suddenly, the plow jerked to a stop, even though the animals were pulling with all their might.
There must be something stuck in the blades. Mr. Makninin thought.
He walked around the oxen, patting a couple on the back. He carefully investigated the spiral blades, and it did not take long to find the source of his trouble.
Tangled in the plow was a single sapling. Just one.
The farmer was astonished. But how? A tree! This plow must be broken. But still! A tree in the Treeless land!
This did nothing to improve the farmers mood. But Mr. Makninin continued to investigate the plant. He tried to pull it out of the ground, but it stood firm. He untangled it from the plow, and signaled for his team of ox to continue.
But when he was done for the day, Mr. Makninin went back out onto his field to find the odd sapling.
Sure enough, it stood right where it was left.
I am glad we have a tree, and I cannot wait to tell the others, but right in the middle of my field? I am not very sure about that.
Mr. Makninin cupped a small, fragile looking leaf in his hand. He noticed something. No, it couldn't be... Was it? But it was. On the leaf was writing. Writing that had not been there a second ago.
It must be magic! thought the farmer.
He squinted very hard to see the tiny letters that he could barely interpret.
They read: "I am your new wealth. Submit to me, and you will never need to plow again."
Three years later...
Arnak Makninin woke up earlier than usual one Monday morning.
Ah, yes! Today is pumpkin cake breakfast!
No food could compete with the Makninin's chef's cooking. Nothing in the world could compete with her cake.
Arnak rang the bell that sat on the desk that was arranged conveniently by his bed. The desk was made of cedar wood imported from the far corners of Brathing'dae. The exquisite piece of furniture had the most delicate carvings, carvings that depicted swirling tree branches, and at places were painted carefully silver.
Arnak drummed his nails on the polished wood, and looked around the room. It was rather large compared to the room he had last owned as a poor farmer boy. Throughout the room were cushions, pictures, chairs, and dressers that each carried a hint of far exotic lands and unimaginable wealth.
Arnak heard footsteps going up the stairs to his room.
Through the door burst a skittish servant boy dressed in green silk robes embroidered with silver leaves and fruit. He carried a gold (and silver plated) platter of round, savory pumpkin cakes drizzled lightly with honey. Arnak had and inner burst of pride.
Even our servants are dressed like nobles.
Yes, the moment Arnak's father came across the strange sapling things got better for the Makninin family.
The days following the sapling's discovery, Mr. Makninin found many oddities concerning the plant's apparent intelligence.
Occasionally, Mr. Makninin would ask himself a question, and would find the answer written on a leaf nearest to him. The farmer told the whole village about the miracle, and soon every villager had come to try their luck with the small tree. They would ask every question they could think of, but they would never get an answer. Only people in the Makninin family line could communicate perfectly with the tree. So, you can guess they often resorted to a Makninin to ask for them. People from far and wide heard the news of this wonder, and some traveled to see it, making the village a bit wealthier.
But that was not all. Not in the least.
One day, Mr. Makninin was sitting by the tree, which had grown a bit, when he saw something shiny in the branches. He stood up, and searched until he found it. Hanging from a stem was a silver fruit. And by it was a message. "Here is your newfound wealth. Be happy, for I will only let your family possess it."
So from then on, the family became the most wealthy in the known region. Every month, a new batch of sliver fruit hung on the tree. The family also found that if you give the tree complements, it would grow a bit faster. It was huge now.
One day Arnak took a walk out in the streets, and stopped by the tree.
"How are you?" He asked it. He reached out for a leaf for the tree to talk back.
"How would you like to rule completely?" It asked.
Uh, not what I was expecting. Arnak thought.
"Sure." He said, and a bit bewildered, continued his walk.
He had rounded a corner, and was walking back home. It was oddly quiet. Nobody was in the usually bustling streets.
He looked around.
Then he noticed.
Huge roots covered every door. Including his own. The tree was bigger than ever. He rushed towards it.
He snatched a branch, and saw writing cover some leaves quickly.
"I will soon make you ruler. But when you are ruler, you will have to let me get what I want too. I helped you, right? Whatever I do will make you greater. You, and only you."
Arnak did not answer. But he nodded ever so slightly.
He ran to his home and looked through the carefully shined windows.
He saw his family trapped inside. He saw his father, bound inside a gnarled root. He could not hear him, but he could see him begging, pleading that somehow, Arnak could get them out. The roots looked like they were slowly squeezing tighter. This was not what Arnak had asked for.
Back at the tree, he read another leaf.
"Arnak, my friend, this is just the cost of gaining control. It's only one part of town."
The idea of supreme rule pleased Arnak, but he knew he couldn't.
"But my father..."
"No. This is the only way."
This is not what Arnak wanted at all. This was wrong. Arnak suddenly knew what to do, but loathed the idea. The tree had served his family faithfully for years now.
He walked to the old farmer shed, and found an axe they had used once to cut off an diseased branch of the tree.
He went back to the tree. It said nothing. He sized it up one more time.
"Let my family go."
There was no movement in the tree.
Arnak took a deep breath. He couldn't. Not now.
He ran back to his house, aching from the lack of exercise.
Inside he saw his mother too, she was pulling frantically on her bonds, and yelling.
That was it.
Arnak stood by the tree.
He gripped the axe and swung at the tree with all his might.
He had only made a small dent.
He continued to chop at the tree for twenty minutes. All every moment was agony, physically and mentally. He was cutting down the tree that had made his house bigger. The one that and made his life easier, and gave him the fruit of its branches.
But it was either his wealth, or his family.
My.... My real wealth is not in silver.
As the graceful tree fell, Arnak caught a glimpse of a leaf.
"It is done."
The tree instantly turned an evil black as it hit the ground. Before Arnak could whack it for good measure, it turned to dust, including the roots prisoning his family and friends.
As he saw his family rushing out to him, alive, he knew he had made the right choice.