From the Journal of Alpheth Lunseer:
I do not know what I expected, when I asked the Serenwilde to open the Henge to the others.
Certainly, I knew that it would be overwhelming. After all, I have had only the trees for companionship these past decades. I did not even know how long it had been until I was back within the forest proper once again. But I did not expect that it would happen quite so quickly.
Afterwards, Lalenna explained to me that the trace of vibrancy left by the Seralem had converged into a path. It led from the Mother Moonhart all the way to the southern edge of the Henge. ‘Twas not a simple matter to trace it, so it seemed. After some confusion, those gathered went through the forest, and it was then that they realised the vibrancy had shifted. Next, they saw symbols in its glow, which were recognised as Wodesigns – ’twas then that they sought Lalenna’s counsel, for at the time there were no Wodewoses walking the forest.
‘Twas quite the crowd gathered by the time that they made it to what would become the entrance to the Henge. The vibrancy had gathered there and was beginning to coalesce into that entrance, you see. But it had not quite formed in full, and it fell to the gathering crowd to assist.
Qistrel Strongleaf was the first to realise this, joining as she did to the earth. After this, other Hartstone joined her bond, their strength offering more to the vibrancy. Then, Lalenna discovered that offering items would also assist. Unfortunately, Llani Myeras’s offering of a piebald hamster was summarily rejected – but Essoheli’s offering of a garland proved to be acceptable, along with Lalenna’s moonhart leaf and more. ‘Twas the offering of the Regent, Tyrus Myeras, that completed the transformation. Perhaps ’twas the strength of his offering – his very own sword – or perhaps ’twas because he was, at this point, the only Wodewose there aside from Lalenna herself.
With the vibrancy now transformed into an archway of standing stones, the group entered the Henge.
Overwhelmed does, of course, not describe either their feelings nor mine. I recall keenly the first day that I flew here. The journey had been long, and I had felt as though I was lost many times, wandering as I believe I was within the Veil. Then, of a sudden, I was there – sat before a huge, towering stone, covered in script that I could barely comprehend even a portion of. Twas the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Just as I had once spent my time resting in each grove, so did the gathered Seren rush through it, overwhelmed in their own ways.
And, of course, at the centre of the groves, I sat. ‘Twas a flurry of greetings, which I fear were on my part not the most composed, and those gathered sought to learn what this Seralem-infused grove was. Almost immediately, I saw recognition in the eyes of Qistrel, the druid who had bonded the grove’s entrance. She recognised, as I had, the symbolism of the Hartstone within the Henge. Though I only had the chance once or twice to enter the Hartstone Grove, ’twas something that left a strong mark upon my memory.
Once we settled, I explained the reason I had called for the forest to open the way to them. For I had finally finished my work on the Bonding of Kith and Kin, the rite that for so long formed the means by which our cousins bonded themselves to the Serenwilde. But to tell them of this, I had also to tell them of the nature of our people – that we were known in the days of old as the Allied Folk, rather than the Allied Tribes. A mistranslation, I called it, and I find it hard to put it better. We have not been wrong, not wholly, but there is a way that is truer to us.
With this told, I led Tyrus through the rite…though not without difficulty. The spring he found easily enough, but ’twas Isotta who stumped the poor Regent. She rejected gift after gift that he sought to bestow upon her, finally accepting a brooch that had been made by Ialie Starfall.
At last, he aided Miakoda with a noble hunt, and then came to me with the bones needed. ‘Twas time to perform the Bonding with a far greater audience than I had ever had. The squirrels are, after all, far less imposing.
‘Twas exhausting, but I do not regret a moment, for all around were watching in rapture. ‘Twas not a rite of their guild, for all bar Tyrus and Lalenna – and yet they all remained, listening, watching, learning. Respecting. In this moment, I remembered what it is to be Seren. To be united in our love for all that the ‘wilde is, in our duty and devotion, our curiosity and care. To uplift one another howsoever we may walk through this world.
I wait, now, for the next Wodewose to seek me out. To learn of the Bonding, of the ways of ancient ritual, and of who they are.
When they come, I shall be ready. For now, at last, I know who I am.