The Legend Of The Yew Bride

A Runescape Folktale By

Black Waltz 0

A/N: This short tale was spawned when myself and a group of other woodcutters were chopping away at the three yew trees situated outside of the church in the Seer's village. I gave one a name, then began to tell a little story to pass the time. It eventually, with some input from others, turned into this tale.

Dedicated to Inme444555.

xxx

Listen well to my tale, friends, for I shall not tell it to you again for a long while. Put down your axes and give your victims rest, as they too play a part.

Long ago, before Runescape was flooded with adventurers coming down from every point of the compass, Seer's Village was a tiny hamlet that clung to the swollen underbelly of the forest. Back then the forest had not a name, it needed no name. It knew what it was in its collective consciousness, it was everything - a world unto its own. Seer's Village was the village destined to watch it grow and shrink with time. Some old mages even believe that it was the very will of the forest that gave the men of that town the ability to see through the ages. Perhaps a time will come when that ability will allow the forest to breathe and expand again.

Between the girth of the forest and the boundary of the town inhabited by men, there lived in a diminutive wooden hut a man named Trevor Draven, who stood as tall and as splendidly as a young elf, though he was undoubtedly human. His father had been one of the few men able to enter the forest without inciting its wrath and Trevor had inherited that same ability by placating the forest with offerings that so delighted the forest God. He was permitted to cut down the weak and sickened saplings and trees in mercy, without trouble in return. He did this solemnly and sadly, yet sold the wood to the town and lived off the land. It was a simple life, and overall, he was happy. The forest was happy, and so was the town. A fragile equilibrium had been reached without any suffering, thanks to the Draven family.

Yet as it so commonly occurs in folk tales, such a life was not meant to be. Trevor, who was as handsome as could be, perfectly capable of ensnaring any of the most beautiful women in town, as well as any forest nymph he wished, fell prey to one of the worst failings of mankind; jealousy. But what on Runescape could such a man, one who had everything he desired, be jealous of?

Trevor had inherited his father's archaic gift. It shone from within him, notable in his long golden-waved hair, his elfin features, and his beautiful blue-grey eyes. This same gift lay cold and dead in the body of his older brother, Gary Draven, which had died within him the moment his mother had given life to his younger brother. The power could only survive in the youngest blood, the youngest heart.

Gary had often thought about the power that had died inside of him when he was just a child. He felt that he had suffered no great loss from it, as he could not remember carrying it in his memory, and was privately relieved that the great burden he had been fated to carry now rested on the shoulders of somebody else. As for how life had shaped him, Gary was a bigger, broader man, a rugged ranger with dark hair and coal black eyes that held a good-natured humor. He was not tied-down to the forest and rather hunted in the grassy plains to the south of Seer's Village, securing food for his belly and for sale to the local inns.

His life was a happy and fruitful one, made even happier by one fair maiden of the barley and hops fields, the daughter of the brewery's farmer. She was not the most beautiful woman in all the lands, or of tales written down as ancient legacies, but she had about her a simple charm and appeal, one that had ensnared the ranger Draven's heart.

Time passed, as it was wont to do, and Nancy Bale, her hair like straw and barely malt, her eyes gentle as a doe's, her form as lithe and as beautiful as the yew tree, eventually agreed to succumb to her feelings and become Nancy Draven. Her father, who was a short and dwarfish, yet elderly man gave the couple his blessings, for it was Gary's gifts of sublimely salted meats that had kept their bellies full during the colder changes of winter. He found he was happy to give his daughter away to such a generous man.

And this was how Trevor chanced to hear about it, sitting alone outside of his hut, listening to the news of the birds and the animals. He smiled upon the information, gladdened that his dear brother had found what he had been searching for. Trevor felt that he had a duty to visit this woman and deliver to them his good tidings, so that they could start their new lives together with the blessings of the forest on their side.

So he took up his walking stick and made the short journey into town, into civilization, a place usually foreign to him. He was willing to endure it this time. Besides, the citizens there loved him anyway, because he protected them from the powers of the woods.

He walked along the main street that was framed by maple trees and cozy little cottage houses, whistling a merry tune. It was a slightly windy day and many people chose to stay indoors, but one couple was walking up to him from the other side of the road, arm in arm, smiling and laughing. Trevor looked up to them, smiling and offering them a greeting.

A moment passed, and the words died on his lips. One could never be sure where or when that speck of darkness had crept its way into Trevor's heart, but I do believe that it is a speck of darkness that every human being carries, as gifted as Trevor was or not. On that windy day the seed of darkness took root and began to grow. It was Gary and Nancy before him, coupled together as perfectly as possible, as if Saradomin had placed them together himself. That scene was frozen perfectly in his mind; it would be many a time when he would conjure it up again.

And for the first time Trevor felt the urge, the desire for Nancy. He wanted her. He needed her.

Just because.

Because, possibly, just because his brother did.

This streak of red jealously for Nancy, and hatred for Gary was nothing more than a quick blip of feeling through his mind, but it had been strong, nonetheless. It faded, yet remained there quietly, calmly, biding its time. Trevor spoke sweet words of praise to his future sister-in-law and laughing comments of false envy to his brother, which were far more real than they seemed to be. The golden-haired woodsman bided his time as well, retreating back into his hut on the edge of the forest and town, always pondering, pondering, thinking.

The plans for the wedding were drawn up and decided in the spring, but Nancy expressed a desire to be wedded in the church on midsummer's eve, a time of enchantment and delightful magic. It was spoken between the two lovers with excitement and secrecy, but Trevor intercepted the news through his animal friends again, now uneasy, acting as spies rather than informants.

His interests turned away from the forest that he had so loved and taken care of, and soon the forest grew dark and moody, brewing with anger and hurtful confusion. The leaves and soil became dark and twisted, rotting and stinking of mildew. It was from this warped forest that arose a man draped in black, muddy and smelling of the earth. He had been birthed from the forest itself by some unknown power and as he walked along the greener turf it withered and died beneath his feet. Animals and birds flew from him as he approached Trevor's house and knocked on the door with a gloved hand, loudly and rudely.

The door swung obediently away from his fist and he stepped inside, bringing his stench of rotted earth into the cabin. Trevor was sitting by the fireside, lost in thought, as he was doing more and more often these days. The young woodsman hadn't even heard the stranger come in.

The stranger spoke with a purring, sweet voice. Almost coaxing him with a strange kindness. "Do you seek her?" He asked from underneath his hooded cloak.

"Whom do you speak of?" Replied Trevor as from seemingly far away, too engrossed in his own mind to see or comprehend what he was speaking to. It was almost as if he was under a spell.

Smarmily, the dark man smirked. "The bonnie lass from the east, do you not seek her? Speak, lad."

Trevor nodded absent-mindedly. "I do indeed seek a woman denied to me by that whom I should feel faith for the most. I am not sure if it is love that I feel for her, though she is a striking lass, but I am certain that I desire nothing else but to have her in my possession. I know this is a terrible sin to feel and understand, but I want… I want to ignore it. I feel that I must have whatever it may be that is my birthright!"

"Is your birthright an entitlement to all that your brother possesses, as according to the power that has been granted to you? Even if that power itself was given to you by your own flesh and blood, the brother than you desire to destroy? Has he not done enough for you? Or…" It was at this point the man in black leant forward a little, so that a small portion of his face was visible. It showed strong cheekbones, a powerful chin. A toothy smile from within the darkness. "Do you still require more?"

"Dear brother…" Whispered Trevor. "He does deserve more. I love him, that I do. But I do deserve more. I want more! He cannot have what I do not possess!" The woodsman glanced up at the stranger from the fire. He sensed an incredible power from within him. A power as great, no, perhaps greater than his own. But his mind was closed to wonder where this man or that power had come from, and whether it was benign or not. "Friend!" Trevor cried, "I implore you for your aid!"

The cloaked man nodded gravely. "If you ask for my aid, then I have no choice but to give it. But are you sure you wish for my services?"

"You are a man of the cloth! A holy man! A priest! Surely you can do something for me! I demand it!" It seemed like the cloaked man had given Trevor a chance to back out of any association with him, as many men who dabbled in the black arts were required to do. It allowed them to perform whatever mischief they wanted, whilst stating that they had the consent of the subject.

The man in black lifted a robed arm and tossed a handful of powder into the smoldering fireplace. The flames leapt into animated, corpse-like life, turning a coalish black. They danced like succubae at a deranged ceremony. "Very well." He said with finality. "I shall take the form of the priest during the ceremony on Midsummer's Eve. When the exchanging of vows begins, I shall secretly cast an entangle spell on your adversary and your woman, rendering them immobile. From this action, you must then step up to the altar and use your power of nature to steal his human form away from him. Then I shall wed you to your desired lass and you shall have what you wish."

Trevor may have been under the sway of this stranger from the forest, but he still had enough of his wits about him to sniff out a catch. "And what is your price for these services?" He intoned dreamily.

"Indeed there is a price. A great price." Lilted the man in black, regarding the blonde woodsman evenly. "I shall take from you your power over the woods, so that you will have no need to placate the God of the forest any more. My price is only to take a bothersome burden from off your shoulders. Nothing more than that. Will you not accept?"

"No more offerings?"

"No more offerings."

"But I… My father's legacy… My birthright…"

The stranger reached out and touched Trevor's face, caressing it carefully. It was a relaxing motion, one designed to loosen the other person's control. But it was also another way to rub a small spell into the mind of another. To the untrained eye, it seemed to be a gesture of great gentleness and love. "Let it lapse from your mind. Let your burden be lifted. Accept to Me and all will be well."

"I…" Whispered Trevor. "I accept."

xxx

On Midsummer's Eve the church was decorated with wildflowers from near and afar, stretching like a rainbow from the shining golden signet of Saradomin on the roof to the pretty blue blossoms lining the pathway leading to the street. The sky almost seemed to be raining flower petals of almost every hue. Everybody from Seer's Village had been invited, and the ones who had not been turned up anyway. The sky was clear and sunny, a blessing from Saradomin Himself. Small children danced in the flowers, farmers and villagers mingled and complimented the compatibility of the soon-to-be husband and wife, and the elderly smiled knowingly and wondered on the future to come.

It was indeed a joyous occasion. With a beaming smile the priest of Saradomin opened the doorways to the church, where the podium where he would preside from awaited. It had been decided by Nancy that the wedding should be outside, where nature could watch, but also be close enough to the church for them to be married on holy ground. It was a fine compromise.

Trevor was seated at the back of the congregation, in his finest attire of forest linens. His hair had been brushed, his face washed and cleanly shaven, but it was a secretive and knowing expression he showed to the world, a pale somberness that had caught the eye and disturbed more than one person that day. They did wonder where the charming, prince-like visage of Trevor had gone to, and who was this stranger in his place? Well, months of bitter jealously had gnawed away at his mind, deforming who he was inside. He looked up at the splendid priest at the dais, clad in holy blues and whites, bearded and immaculate with the power of Saradomin. Was that truly the real priest, or his mysterious conspirator? He was not sure.

Whether or not it was, he asked the congregation to rise, raising his staff at the same time the organ at the back of the church burst into life, controlled and beautified by his magic. It proceeded to play the wedding hymn and Trevor joined his smiling older brother near the podium, acting as Gary's best man. Oh, how often had the best man had ulterior motives, he wondered?

The blonde woodsman's eyes met that of the priest's for scarcely a moment as he lowered his staff, but that was enough for him. He could see- no, he could feel the magician in black working behind the mask and costume of a man of the light, pretending, puppeteering. It almost made him want to laugh for some strange, frightening reason.

But there was no time for that. The scent of white rose was in the air, and everybody turned to heed the bride making her first few steps down the aisle, flanked by two bridesmaids and trailed by a posy of giggling flower girls, scattering petals on the ground.

Such a fine flower, and soon, she will be mine…

A similar pang of emotion struck Trevor again, nearly the same from that windy day many months ago, right in the chest. He knew it was not love he was feeling, or appreciation for her beauty, but simple want and need, just as a child will want a toy that another child plays with, even though it would mean nothing to him even if it wasn't. Perhaps Nancy was just a new toy to him, but that was enough for him to fight for.

Besides, it was too late now. He couldn't go back.

Nor did he want to.

He heard Gary make a suppressed noise beside him. To his hearing it had sounded like something of a hiccup, but he could also see it was a suppression of much, much more. He was probably trying his hardest not to cry. How… pathetically cliché, Trevor thought.

"I envy you, my brother, for getting such a beautiful bride." He said softly to him, seriously to him, then was silent.

The proceedings thereafter were tiresome, yet required. The congregation sat through several readings from the book of Saradomin, a hymn or two, and then a speech from the priest himself, before they got down the business. The day was cooling down, becoming softer. The forest was a dark blob on the distant horizon.

"Be seated." The priest said softly, and the congregation sat. Those more important to the ceremony remained standing. "I am indeed glad to be able to witness such a fine joining in this day and age, of two souls into one. You shall encounter much hardship on your journey through life together, but I must say that such adversity must be endured and overcome. Do you understand?"

"I understand, Father." Said Gary and Nancy.

"Then, do you, Gary Draven, take Nancy Bale to be your wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, to love and honor for as long as you both shall live, until death do you part?"

Gary grinned. "Of course I do."

Trevor bit his lip hard, but the priest continued onward unabated. "I see. Do you, Nancy Bale, take Gary Draven to be your husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, to love, honor and obey for as long as you both shall live, until death do you part?"

The bride looked like she was on the verge of joyous tears. "Yes, I do." She managed to say after a second of struggle. Her mother, somewhere in the congregation at this time then burst into tears herself.

The priest spread his hands outwards, the golden glint of the symbol on his staff sparking in the beams of light piercing through the trees. "If anyone can offer any reason why these two should not be wed, speak now, or forever hold his peace." As these words fell from his lips, his eyes slowly tracked their way over to where Trevor was standing. They were cold eyes, colder than the dead. The eyes of a stranger, the eyes of night. He could just picture dark hands, earth-clogged hands bursting from the ground of the forest…

Perhaps the puppeteer was beginning to shed his mask?

Then it was time to act, he thought, or forever hold his peace.

The staff-wielding hand drifted downward, a languid gesture which may have been regarded as the priest's arm getting tired from holding it high. But Trevor saw the slight glow of the stave, a curling tendril of green ether which symbolized a spell being cast. So too did the same green ether snake its way up the bride and groom's legs, holding them there invisibly.

"I speak." Said Trevor. "I object."

A general gasp swept over the gathered townspeople like a wave or a gust of wind. Gary glanced at his younger brother, surprised. This brought the young woodsman a perverse kind of glee, a deep warming of his soul that pulsed like a bubble inside of him. The priest nodded. "I did figure as much. What is it that you object to, Trevor Draven?"

"You cannot have her." He demanded, raising his hand in defiance. "Because she is mine. All that is yours is truly mine. It has been that way from the start, you know that, brother."

"What madness is this! Certainly you jest!" Cried Gary, astounded.

"I do not. But you no longer need to know any more of the human world, my dear brother. Your world shall be the soil and the sky. Yes…" Trevor seemed satisfied with his own conclusions and opened his hand, tapping into his inborn power. It was growing within him calmly, obediently, just like every other time he had utilized it to speak with the forest, or with the animals. To make a plant grow stronger or wither it swiftly in mercy. He would wither his brother and then cause him to grow again.

When he released his power, he was amazed to find that he was laughing.

Nancy screamed and tried to push him away, but her feet were securely bound to the spot and she had no power over the motion. Becoming aware of this and her hindrances, Trevor wrapped his free arm around her front and pulled her away from Gary harshly, causing her to cry out again. A strong villager from the crowd stood up in order to run over to them and stop the nonsense, but the priest rapped his long magical stave on the ground loudly, echoing out a booming; "BE SEATED!"

Th youth not only sat down again, but he soiled his pants at the same time. The Saradomin priest grinned. As for Gary, the magic of nature had struck him down into a new form right before everybody's eyes, to their horror, confusion, or manic pleasure. The magic had forced all that was human about him out of his shape, and now a mighty yew tree was rooted where the dark-haired hunter used to be, inanimate, inhuman. Trevor lowered his spell casting hand, finished.

Nancy was no long struggling against his front now, she had gone still from surprise and sheer horror, perhaps unable to absorb what had truly happened into her mind just yet. After all, only a minute ago she was experiencing the happiest day of her life. "You monster…" She breathed. "…Why?"

"That is a matter you will not be able to understand, my lady." Trevor said charmingly, with a grim edge. "Only understand that he was no longer necessary to me." He smiled gently. "Now please stand still, as you are. I do not think you can do anything else at the moment. On this eve you shall be wedded to me, instead. It has all been arranged."

"…How long have you been plotting this?" The bride whispered, terrified.

"Long enough." Trevor looked towards the Saradomin priest. "Now priest, complete the ceremonial rite. The vows have already been exchanged, except I am now standing in for my brother, as his proxy."

It was at this point the congregation began to flee again. But…

"Wait."

The command was so powerful that it was instantly obeyed by all that was present, even the people getting ready to leave, sneak out and disentangle themselves from all this nonsense. Even Trevor's fine words faded from his lips. The priest in black, or, the man of Saradomin shook out the sleeves of his robes, and even as this action was made the holy hues of blue and white crept out of his clothing like draining water, to be replaced by the deepest and darkest black. As black as the crypt, as black as space. From underneath his robes, his skin tone was darkish and tanned, perhaps by fire.

"I have performed my duties up to a certain point, woodsman of the forest, but now, I ask for what is rightfully mine. What is now entitled to me from our contract. I am sure you understand what the laws of entitlement mean, do you not?"

"Death mage!" Nancy cried, shrinking away from the dais. "But how is it that you can stand upon holy ground! The will of Saradomin should not allow it!"

The hooded face creaked towards Nancy slowly, almost mechanically. "I can stand wherever I please, should a person belonging to the light invite me inside. That has already been arranged, as you can see, fair lady." His laugh had a false, metallic quality to it, deep and ringing like lead falling onto stone. "I request my payment. The power over the forest, over nature, what was promised by the woodsman of the light. Will you accept?"

Trevor nodded to the man in black readily, yet a little nervously. The new, eviler tone of his associate unnerved him to a moderate degree. He released Nancy from his hold and strode up to the dais, extending his hand. "A job well done." He said. "You did all that I asked you to. Please accept this gift."

He heard Nancy begin to weep as the stranger in black took his hand. He had expected to touch a hand as cold and as lifeless as a corpse, but instead grasped flesh that was strong and hotly powerful, feeling like the blood that flowed underneath the skin was heated like magma. It had not felt like that at all when the stranger had touched him earlier, in his cabin the eve before. Still, he felt a wrenching vice rip something out of his inner self mercilessly, and it hurt in a way that was not conceivable to the physical body, though he endured it. Was this what it had felt like to his brother, on the moment that he was born? Perhaps.

The woodsman could feel the accusing and unbelieving eyes of the townspeople boring into his back as the pale green light of his forest magic emerged from his body and traveled up the length of his arm, leaving his body bare and utterly, basically human. It did not matter. He was getting what he wanted anyhow.

It gathered in the fist of the stranger in black and faded away, sinking down deep into the flesh and disappearing. Trevor felt tremendously drained, yet still gladdened. That burden was off his shoulders now. "…Good." He murmured, winded. "Now, my friend, complete the ceremony."

"I thank you for this gift, Trevor of the forest realm…"

The man in black threw back his hood, bathing his face in the heated light of day.

They all should have screamed. They probably felt that that was all they should have done, or cried, or run away, but they were still fixed to their seats, or to their positions in front of the holy dais. The leaves of the newly born yew tree before them shaded them from the direct sunlight. It seemed to make things better, less horrifying, or perhaps it made it all worse. Trevor and Nancy joined the townspeople in their expression of fear.

The black robes bled. They literally bled, weeping tears of crimson blood. It was like a stain that dripped downward and re-dyed the fabric, turning the black to a perfected, angry red. Nancy had been wrong, a death mage this man was not.

Zamorak lifted his gaze to regard the future husband and wife to be. His robes still bled outward onto the floor and dripped forward, turning the bright blue carpeting they were standing on to red, creeping like fingers of liquid. Nancy squirmed as it pooled around her white wedding dress and turned the ends to an insane pink. "Indeed I shall finish the wedding rite." The dark God intoned with an air of satisfaction, just as the bright star of Saradomin on the steeple of the church melted and warped, reformed into the curved signet of Zamorak.

"I…" Began Trevor, stunned.

But the God before him held up a silencing hand, and he could not do anything but obey. Zamorak smiled thirstily, raising the Holy book of Saradomin in his hands. It was indeed a hard thing to witness, and an even harder thing to explain as the dark God turned the book inside out before the crowd of humans, a motion that defied nature.

But did the dark God not have the power over nature now, thanks to Trevor? Of course.

The book turned red and became the Unholy book of Zamorak. He regarded the congregation abashedly. "Please forgive Me, but I have written My own rites for this day. I do hope you do not mind. You shall be bound under My name eternal, and live as I see fit. To die as I see fit."

Nancy made a little noise of protest, one that could not be taken as proper words. Trevor exploded. "Wait!" He roared, "That was not in the agreement!"

Zamorak's dark red eyes flicked towards the blonde woodsman in bemusement. "I agreed to wed you two together, and that is all I am bound to do. You offered Me no details other than that."

The bride held her head in her hands. "How could you…" She wept, "How could you do this to the people that loved you?" She asked of Trevor. It was too late for him to make any kind of repentant reply.

The dark God was thoughtful. "You have given Me the power over the forest, the power to control the forest and the power to control nature itself. This is a princely gift. For this great gift, woodsman, I believe I shall make you one with your beloved forest- no, I shall make this town one with its beloved forest, just as you have done…" Zamorak grinned, flashing his fangs, "To you own loved brother. The irony, oh! It is delicious!"

"I cannot let you do that!" Cried Trevor, utterly powerless. It was strong words of which he spoke, but what could he do? His power had gone. That power was now Zamorak's.

With a laugh like a thunderclap, Zamorak raised his staff skyward, the green magic of the forest God bristling from his trademark signet.

The trees within the Seer's Village began to rock as sway, to a breeze that did not exist.

I cannot let you do that…

Nancy caught a glow in the corner of her vision. Wiping tears from her eyes, she glanced at the yew tree that had once been her fiancé. Was it just her, or did the tree bristle with the same faint green power that Zamorak had? "Gary…" She said, and forgot about the entangle spell binding her legs down. She walked towards the tree and touched it, once.

It all became apparent to her. The power of nature had existed in the youngest heart, the youngest blood, and Trevor had sold his heart and blood away to another. But Gary's power had not been taken from him, merely in a state of death. When the nature magic had been ripped from the Draven family, it grew again in Gary's wooden heart. But could something that was not even human face up against the God of darkness Himself? "I will help you." Nancy said, honestly, believing.

"HA!" Zamorak screamed and lightning stuck him from the sky, green lighting that sent a shock wave over the entirety of the Seer's Village. The congregation in the podium cowered as the raw energy ripped through their bodies all at the same time. Ordering them to obey His will, and to abandon human form.

Every tree in Seer's glowed with the power of the forest, with the will of the forest, and refused to accept.

The yew tree refused, and countered.

A great boom of thunder was the voices of a hundred thousand trees screaming all at once, crying out all at once, in a great shriek that deafened the great lord Zamorak. The forest itself opposed him, though He possessed its power. The power of protection was stronger.

Right before the flash of new lightning blotted out her vision and made everything dark, Nancy could have sworn she saw Gary's spirit walking towards the dais, the growing light of his power apparent in his bare hands. Zamorak recoiled from it.

And then…

Then there was silence.

xxx

Hard to believe, is it not? But the three yew trees in this church yard are supposed to contain the spirits of the ones who fought against Zamorak's power all those years ago. They were able to save the bodies of the villagers in the town, but had to sacrifice their own instead. You can disbelieve me if you want, legends aren't meant to be believed one hundred percent, but it's a pretty little tale, isn't it?

The three yews, they resemble a tall man cowed by his own inner jealously and fear, a proud man glorified by self-sacrifice, and beside it, a thinner yew tree that resembles the body of a beautiful woman. To me they are as human as you or me.

What happened to Zamorak, you ask?

Well, he took whatever power he had left of Trevor's nature magic and used it to create the Wilderness to the northeast of here, but it is a twisted place and you can see that the power he saved was a small broken one at that. At least he didn't get all that he wanted in the end.

But it saddens me to see these three spirits rooted here forever, witnessing marriage after marriage, eternally frozen in stasis. Yet, who knows? Perhaps they are happier this way. Perhaps they can offer their own blessings that none of us can see or know about.

So, young one, whenever you take up your axe against these trees again, spare a thought to the past and what these trees have done for this village, because without their sacrifice, such a place would not exist today.

-fin-