Spend some time beneath the boughs of Azuria’s magical trees in this excerpt from Story Magic, the newest novella in the Age of Azuria series!
One of my favorite activities when I’m in the drafting stage of my fiction writing is to research folklore and fairy tales for inspiration.
If you’re already a fan of my fiction, you know that I love to include magical trees and plants and their legends.
Sometimes I wind up really far afield from anything I read. Other days, I don’t look up anything at all and write from pure imagination.
But then there are days, like today, where there’s a confluence of fiction and legend. And it’s from one such occurrence that I want to share.
This morning, I was working on a scene for Story Magic, an upcoming novella starring Persephonie! As I was writing, I dove into some of the lore around elms and researched different types of maple trees.
Excerpt from Story Magic, an Age of Azuria novella by Beth Ball
Rennear took both of Persephonie’s hands and guided her over the row of tulips toward the third elm tree. He covered her eyes for the last several steps, holding her against his chest as they neared the trunk. Rennear turned her around, leaning her back against the rough bark. The stubble of his beard scratched the side of her ear. “We’ll need to wait for the clouds to pass.” …
Countless stories wound around the roots of the elm, weaving about her and Rennear now and holding them tight in their embrace. To the saudad, it was a guardian tree, symbolic of the wide wings of Apollo. Rennear’s heart pounded against her hand. She ground the other into the gray-green bark of the tree. …
The elm was said to be powerful enough to maintain a lover’s bond, even after the beloved had journeyed on to Astralei. “There’s a reason the elm graces both The Lovers and Death, Persephonie,” Mama had said.
Rennear pulled away suddenly. He caught her hands and held them close against his chest. They both breathed quickly. Rennear didn’t take his eyes from her. Behind him, a silver glow bathed the branches of the elm. It reflected against his skin. “And then, the soldiers came to this garden. Here, for just a moment, everything changed.”
The silver gleam grew brighter as they rounded the wide trunk of the tree, shining through the sweeping branches of the elm. Persephonie gasped. Behind the gateway tree was a hillside covered in argent maples. They glowed pure silver, basking in the light of the moons. She stopped, staring. Never before had she seen so many of the trees blessed by the lunar goddess Selene all in one place. The glow of their collective was as bright as a third moon, hung low in the gardens, coating her and Rennear in their light. “I can hardly believe it.”
His eyes shone in the treelight, sweeping from her to their glowing leaves and back. “Will you walk beneath their branches with me?”Story Magic, by Beth Ball
Myth and Legend, Azuria and Earth
Ancient Greek and Celtic mythology both viewed elm trees as connected to death and the Underworld. I wanted to evoke that in this passage, especially the elm’s connection to Orpheus and Eurydice’s story.
Instead of an Underworld, most residents of Azuria believe in Astralei, both a plane of existence and a goddess. The goddess watches over the souls that have passed on, and guides them along the starry sea of the afterlife.
The story Rennear’s telling is about the empress of Andel-ce Hevra. There are a few references to her in Genevieve’s adventure in Buried Heroes, but her history is much more present in Hadvarian Heist.
I hope you enjoyed this preview from Story Magic!