Emic Trunkheart does not know where he came from, nor does he understand the meanings of life and the world beyond his overpowering drive to serve and protect the Mistwood. Sylvan Watchers have yet to successfully communicate with this lone sentinel – though they sense him through the Rhythm, Trunkheart follows a different tune. Some speculate that he is a manifestation of the corrupt Rhythm, twinned with the virtuous souls of fallen warriors.
There is only one who claims to know the absolute truth, the Elven minstrel, Lila Stringpicker. She tells Emic’s story to the Sylvan from the smallest treetop villages to the grand halls of Nyresa.
The tale begins when the Sylvan lords ordered a counterattack on the corrupted Sylvan and Demonspawn that had infested the Mistwood after the corruption had driven the Sylvan from their sacred Hear Tree. Many years had passed since the establishment of Nyresa, but the Sylvan still mourned their lost woods and abandoned homes. An army was sent to reclaim the remains of the ancient Heart Tree and surrounding woodland and to purge the evil from its long-reaching roots.
The battle lasted for days. The Sylvan Watchers fought with such fierce determination that the Demonspawn could not afford to take any of them prisoner. In their desperate defence, the Demonspawn scorched swathes of land and thousands of Sylvan were incinerated in the flames. Despite the Sylvan warriors’ greatest efforts to cleanse the Heart Tree, the darkness that poisoned the land was unshakable. The warriors succeeded only in slowing the corruption’s spread before Demonspawn butchered so many, the remnants of the army were forced to retreat.
The sacrifice of these warriors was instrumental in the war against evil, buying time for the eventual halting of the corruption by Shadowkin, Sylvan, and Skyiron Dwarves years later, and their contributions helped to quell the malice from further ravaging the forest. None could retrieve their bodies to honour them, however. Their blood soaked the earth and their flesh fed the Heart Tree’s roots, and in time, their lives faded into stories of noble heroes told to children under starlight.
But the Heart Tree remembered them. Though the hatred and darkness of evil were so deeply entrenched that the Tree was to be forever scarred by its corruption, those warriors’ songs yet echoed in the roots. Through the Rhythm, they had once been bound to the Heart Tree, and in death, the Tree had snared a fraction of their souls in its roots. They had dwelt within the Heart Tree for many winters, slowly growing.
It is at this part of the story where the minstrel claims she herself played a vital role. Lila had been travelling the Mistwood’s scorched lands in search of long-forgotten symphonies. While avoiding detection from maddened Fae dwelling there, she heard a peculiar tune and followed it to the blackened husk of the Heart Tree. From beneath the rotten bark came a faint heartbeat that pounded in reply when she knocked on the soft wood. She dug into the Tree with a knife, pulling away dead mulch to find a small part of healthy, brown wood beneath. This twisted and shook, morphing into a figure of a warrior no doubt in memory of the Sylvan Watchers who had fallen at the foot of the Tree years before.
Lila tried to take this little warrior with her, but the Fae refused to leave its birth grounds, so she continued her travels alone. She ventured into the dangerous woodland for the remainder of the season and was awoken one night by a Demonspawn dragging her through the thorns. The minstrel kicked and screamed, knowing in her heart that none would come to her aid – yet something did. A creature of wood and leaf crashed against the Demonspawn. It slammed the Demonspawn away from Lila with its shield and hacked the Demonspawn to pieces with its axe. This unknown saviour resembled the little wooden figure she had found before. It was fully grown and resounding with not only a profound, noble will to defend, but also a frightful, vengeful power that would see its purpose through with no remorse.
Lila named it Emic Trunkheart and spread the tale of a creature forged from the scarred Heart Tree and heroic souls. How much of the minstrel’s story is fictitious remains to be seen but Sylvan Watchers have witnessed a Fae that matches her descriptions fighting threats from the corruption that still pollute the land, and felt its strange presence in the Rhythm. A silent, armoured-looking figure, appearing as if whittled from wood, patrols the regions surrounding the Sacred Grove, watching anyone who enters its domain. Whether or not it would attack Sylvan is unknown, none have been brave enough to get close. Unsettled by the mysterious creature, the Sylvan hopes it will strike the same fear in the hearts of any who dare to harm the forest.