|“||There were dreams. Endless, horrible dreams. Someday, if I live so long, if I survive what is yet to come, I may record them, for they were the story of a god that is a tree, and of the thing his roots bind... No. I think not. One life of struggle and horror is enough to report. And this one goes on.||”|
Father Tree, also known as Old Father Tree, is an immensely powerful demon entity located in the geographic center of the Plain of Fear. Father Tree was an indispensable ally of Darling and her New White Rose Rebellion (including the Black Company) against the Lady's Empire during the events of The White Rose. Just over a year later, he again commanded the sentient monsters of his Plain to aid Darling, this time against the Limper and in the endeavor to secure a powerful artifact, in The Silver Spike.
Introduction[edit | edit source]
Appearance and overview[edit | edit source]
Father Tree looks like a deciduous-type tree and stands twenty feet tall with a "trunk" ten feet thick. Worshipped as a god by the scant native human tribes of the Plain, he commands all the species of strange creatures that populate the region: the talking menhirs, windwhales, flying mantas, reversed centaurs, walking trees, several groups of very small yet intelligent creatures, and dozens of others. However, his role and even his sentience were not revealed to his new allies and guests, Darling and the Black Company, until more than 2 years after their entrance into his Plain (partway through The White Rose).
Abilities[edit | edit source]
The Tree is easily one of the most powerful surviving entities in the homeworld, and arguably, the mightiest in the Black Company series. No human (including both the Dominator and the unnamed prisoner kept captive within the Tree's own roots) exhibited comparable strength. The only being who could conceivably rival Father Tree is Kina, but her power in its prime was not witnessed in the Annals for comparison.
Father Tree is capable of projecting a perfectly audible voice, but does so rarely. On the occasion when he revealed his sentience to Croaker, he imparted some information in a direct mental link.
In a single, spectacular demonstration of his power, Father Tree:
- summoned a violent change storm to expose the true forms of the disguised demons Toadkiller Dog and Tracker,
- swatted the nearly unstoppable Toadkiller Dog three times with his branches, then blasted him with a massive lightning bolt,
- made Tracker a loyal subject with the powers of his voice and magic,
- used lightning bolts to strike Scorn and Blister out of the sky by destroying their flying carpets and to intercept their explosive spears,
- then, several minutes later, subdued the vastly powerful, Dominator-like prisoner who nearly escaped his subterranean prison.
Most of this was done while the Tree was at least partially within the anti-magical null of Darling; that is, he defeated all these enemies despite suffering a significant handicap.
Ancient origins[edit | edit source]
In the very distant past of the northern continent, a great warlord with power akin to the Dominator was overcome by forces of light, and buried alive deep in the ground. Old Father Tree (a sapling at the time) was summoned from an entirely different world to keep this ancient warlord interred. The Lady had heard legends of this event in her youth centuries ago; she says the summoning was so mighty that thousands died and entire counties were devastated, which is why the Plain is a largely desolate place. Beyond that, the name of this evil lord and the history surrounding him was long lost, but the immortal prisoner remained very much alive. Only Father Tree's roots keep him at bay.
The bizarre creatures which populate the Plain of Fear were all brought over from the Tree's home world during his summoning. These include the talking menhirs, windwhales, flying mantas, reversed centaurs, walking trees, and several species of relatively tiny creatures.
Before The White Rose[edit | edit source]
The Black Company arrived on Father Tree's Plain two years before the opening of The White Rose. Throughout that time, the Tree did not reveal that he was a sentient being. He deigned only to communicate a faint tinkling from his leaves. His enigmatic and taciturn menhirs spoke for him, but the humans did not know that he was anything other than an old, bizarre, giant tree.
The White Rose[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The White Rose
Father Tree decides to ally with Darling, for whom he has enormous respect, despite the fact that the two cannot be in proximity to one another. However, he does not expose his involvement for more than two years, and their alliance is handled by his loyal servants, the talking menhirs. His support is the backbone of Darling's New White Rose Rebellion, which is headquartered in a cavern called the Hole, not far from him.
After untold ages, the Tree's unnamed prisoner nearly escaped during the events of the third chronicle. When Darling was accidentally moved into close proximity to the Tree, her invisible bubble of anti-magic energy known as the null caused the Tree's strength to weaken. The ancient, unnamed prisoner beneath detected the opportunity to escape. His arm burst through the ground amid fiery chaos, but as soon as Croaker and the Lady carried Darling far enough away, the Tree regained enough strength to totally subdue his captive once more. The prisoner's arm still remained exposed for a time above ground, however. Croaker described the arm as greenish in color and leathery, with nails like claws; later, Croaker observed that Father Tree was slowly growing thick roots around the arm, to once again envelop the prisoner completely.
In response to Croaker's entreaties for additional help, and out of concern for the future safety of his Plain creatures, Father Tree concludes that the Dominator is too strong for the Lady and Darling. The Tree sires the Sapling, an offspring about eight feet tall resembling a silver-bark poplar, to assist them. As he does this, Croaker accidentally walks over the exposed arm of the Tree's ancient human prisoner. The prisoner nearly breaks Croaker's ankle, so Father True subdues his captive with furious energy. Elmo, a farmer in his younger years, has the Sapling dug out and properly tended; Tracker becomes the Sapling's primary guardian. Father Tree then commands his sentient creatures to ally with the Lady. Both women now combine their forces to finally kill the Dominator at the Battle of the Barrowland.
After that battle, the Dominator's body was incinerated and his disembodied power was trapped inside the silver spike. To guard the spike for eternity, Father Tree's Sapling son was replanted atop the Great Barrow in the Barrowland, and the spike driven into its trunk.
The Silver Spike[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The Silver Spike
Father Tree sent a vast army of his Plain creatures, ferried by the windwhales, across the north, over the Sea of Torments, and into the southern continent (as far as the Temple of Travellers' Repose) to help Darling hunt down the Limper and Toadkiller Dog. He urgently ordered them all back north, however, after the inexperienced Sapling lost the silver spike to four daring thieves. After the spike was returned by Darling and Case, Father Tree himself opened a cosmic abyss into which the cursed artifact was deposited.