The Tome and the Tree Myth in Game of Tomes | World Anvil

The Tome and the Tree

Written and illustrated by Melody Relody. Melody streams at and served as our social media manager.

The Tree

The Realm had been dwindling for as long as all could remember. The once vibrant world had turned sour and rotten.
At first, it was just the edges but slowly the decay crawled its way in. At the centre of it all stood a garden.
At the centre of this garden stood a Tree.
This article is a work in progress, and may be subject to changes.
This article is part of a series related to streaming the Game of Tomes. For more information, see Streaming Game of Tomes.
Date of First Recording
The earliest recording was roughly 3200 BC in Early Dynastic Egypt, where the leaves are described as papyrus
Related Items
A Tree of intertwined branches with parchment sheets for leaves
The Tree of the Tome with Leaves by Melody Relody
The Tree was old and weathered, with knots in its trunk and roots that spread for miles around, often peaking above the surface before quickly sinking below the ground again. The Tree was tall, tall enough to be seen even in the valley below. However, this Tree was not green, nor orange, nor pink, nor any of the usual colours a tree is. Instead, the dark branches of the Tree were home to thick leaves of parchment which grew from the branches as naturally as any other sort of vegetation.   The garden, unlike the rest of the Realm, was bustling with life and so over time became known as the “Warped Garden,” for the reality of decay seemed to ignore it wholeheartedly in favour of other parts of the world.   Due to its warped nature, the creatures of the Realm could often be found gathering within it, if only for a few days, before taking the fruits of their labour within the garden back home. The creatures of the Realm ignored the looming and ever-present Tree. It was not a source of food, and as such was of little use to them. In fact, the only use it did provide was its shade in between rounds of harvesting fruits and seeds from the garden.   Although the Realm was dwindling, the Warped Garden acted as one spot of consistency, one place of hope as the rest of the world fell away around it.   However, as with all tales, one day something happened which altered the fate of the Realm forever.    

The First Literomantic Act

  Now then, depending on which House of Literomancy you ask, you will always get a different answer as to who exactly did it. Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things.   A leaf of parchment came loose from the Tree. Had it been ripped off, or simply knocked away? Ask a Molluscan and perhaps they’ll point towards Lapinities; ask the Lapinites and perhaps they’ll point towards the Chiropterans. Either way, it is known that a page came loose.   The page fell to the ground and upon inspection was deemed worthless and handed off to a child. There was much work to be done in the garden and ample time for the child to make the discovery.   For years, the child had accompanied their people to the Warped Garden each moon to collect more food and supplies for their home. Bored, they would often sit in the shade of the Tree and entertain themself with ideas of stories or drawings in the dirt. Their stories would often pertain to the journey to and from the garden, which was a perilous one.   Taking the page, which, by this point, had been folded and drawn on several times, the child began to write a story detailing their journey home and how they wished for the distance to be shorter. How they wished the Great Lake had a bridge they could cross, how they hoped one day they would have the resources to fix the stone stairways along the route. It was a nice, simple story, but would hardly come true even in the child’s lifetime.   Or so they thought.   The day began to set, and the child was called away, page in hand, as it was time to return home. After only a few steps out of the Warped Garden, the group of creatures realised something was different. The usual dirt path overgrown with thorny plants had been replaced with one of carved stone grooves, allowing for the carts laden with produce to travel down with ease.   Whilst this change was met with some caution, the group needed to journey home before dusk and so made their way along the path. However, the usual route of the path was gone. Rather than curving away from the Great Lake, the path continued on until at last, the sight of a stone bridge came into view. Dumbfounded, the group stood taking in the sight of the bridge, which stretched all the way to the shores of their home. There was a low murmur followed by an exclamation.   “My bridge! My bridge! The one from my story, it’s real!” the child cried, waving around the piece of parchment.   “This can’t be so,” the adults of the group thought. Surely this bridge had always been here? But on inspection the stone, was pristine and unweathered from years of contact with the lake. Had it really sprung from the idea of a story? As questions were asked it became clear that this strange page must be investigated.   Along the journey, the parchment was filled with various tests, as the group wrote of other bridges, of carts to carry their goods and of foods which stopped growing years ago. It was soon discovered that one could not simply make a request on the page but rather one must tell a story. For these sacred pages one did not need to be a proficient author. The pages would always concoct a literomantic act of perfection even with just the smallest ounce of creativity.   All these initial stories were rather pragmatic, and the small settlement began to thrive. One page had produced so much wealth just for their settlement they began to wonder … Could the Tree save the Realm?  
A drawing of a line of pages with neatly-spaced writing on them
Pages of the Tree 1 by Melody Relody

The Barren Tree

  News of these magical pages began to spread between the settlements, and by the time the group returned to the Warped Garden pages had been plucked from the Tree. Although stories vary as to which settlement, which creatures began this practice, it doesn’t matter. As the Tree became more and more sparse, panic ensued, and the various settlements of the Realm began to hoard pages and utilise them quickly to protect their homes. During this time, much of the literomancy in use was rather unextraordinary, with simple stories being utilised to make mundane requests. Nevertheless, each story was fulfilled to perfection by the pages of the Tree.  
A barren Tree of intertwined branches
The Barren Tree by Melody Relody
However, as each of the settlements experimented, they discovered different literomantic techniques. Each crafted their words in ways to bring about the most bountiful rewards.   Eventually, all the pages from the Tree were torn away and filled with stories. The creatures hoped for many years that the Tree would leaf again, but no new pages emerged. The Realm was still falling apart, and whilst they used the pages to protect their own settlements, none had considered the rest of the Realm.   And so, a meeting was called and the pages of the Tree were united once again within the Warped Garden beneath the now barren Tree. The pages were compiled, but alas, not a single settlement had left enough space for such a story as was needed.   Nevertheless, a solution was found. The pages were bound together and, in between the lines, the greatest storyteller of all the settlements wrote a short poem which envisioned a bright and safe future, where all who dreamt could re-write the world anew.   The tale was complete, but nothing about the Realm changed. Disheartened, the pages were discarded beneath the Tree, these once precious items now useless.   However, as we all know, this is not how the story ends. In the days that followed, it was discovered that the creatures could produce similar effects to those of the pages of the Tree. Although these acts of literomancy were far more complex, and required years of practice, discussion, and technique to fully master, the creatures of the Realm slowly changed and manipulated their world piece by piece. Often they united their small efforts to produce a narrative of change, as the decay of the world slowly slunk away.  
A drawing of pages with somewhat crowded writing on them
Pages of the Tree 2 by Melody Relody

The Iron Tome

  And so the Realm tumbled, maintained by the literomancy of the settlements, each of which favoured a different literomantic technique. Whilst their powers were far lesser than those of the pages, they nevertheless had the potential to warp reality to the will of the author.   Centuries passed. The literomantic powers of the settlements grew into Great Noble Houses, which developed their own literomantic techniques. Soon the Warped Garden looked like the rest of the Realm, flourishing with life.   One day, a child - again, their ancestry is debated - was out looking for fruit when they stumbled on the roots of the ancient knotted tree. However, it wasn’t a root that had caused the child to fall, but, rather a Tome.   The child was familiar with tomes, which, whilst expensive, were plentiful within the daily happenings of the Realm. However, this Tome looked like none of the ones the child had ever seen before.   Over the centuries, the roots of the Tree had grown around the discarded pages and forged them into a Tome of Ironwood. Its roots had compacted themselves around the pages, protecting them from the earth. The Tome was old and worn, its pages thick and heavy with ink, which the child discovered they could easily scratch off.   The words made little sense to the child. They were written in ancient characters the child had never seen before, and so they scratched off a few of the words to make space for their own writing. However, in doing so, they erased the literomantic act which brought into the world a bridge allowing for the connection of the settlements to the Warped Garden so many centuries ago. The loss of the bridge disrupted trade between the settlements, paralysing the region.  
A drawing of an open Tome with writing and drop caps on the pages
The Iron Tome by Melody Relody
  It was soon discovered that the Tome was to blame. Stories had been exchanged over the years on the origins of literomancy and the last story that had been written within the Tome.   As such, whilst the Noble Houses were overjoyed to have the Tome in their possession, war quickly erupted as each House believed they should be charged with the protection of the Tome. Desperation drew many to erase passages of the Tome in a bid to end the war, but this only caused more destruction. Land masses shifted, natural disasters ravaged the Realm, and whole species were extinguished.   Eventually, a peace treaty was signed and it was agreed that the Tome could only ever be used in a dire circumstance.   Over the centuries, the literomantic powers of the Houses progressed, with a handful of scholars being given the opportunity to study the Tome at some point in their life. Attempts were made to decipher its secrets, but little is known as to what stories actually fill its pages.   The location of the ancient Tree is now unknown, lost within the forests of the Realm. Many keep faith that the Tree shall blossom again. Until then, the Iron Tome is held in safekeeping amongst the Noble Literomantic Houses, a looming threat to reality that anything can be undone.  
A drawing of pages with extremely crowded writing on them
Pages of the Tree 3 by Melody Relody

Cover image: Iron Tome by Misades


Please Login in order to comment!