The Ship In The Great Tree Picture

This is a nice fable, that I hope, would resonate with fans of the Elder Scrolls series.


The kinship of the Bosmer elves with their green, woodland trees and lush forests is well known. They revere their natural environment, and they sing many folk tales about the forests and their denizens. But there are some amazing mythological stories that have echoed from their distant mythical past, whose validity even the Bosmers are unsure of, but they love retelling these stories during the warm nights leading to the Wild Hunt.

You must have heard the weird tales of The Wild Hunt, rumored to be a collective ritual performed by many Bosmer folk, causing them to shape-shift into a horde of feral, supernatural beasts. These monsters stampede, changing their form constantly, and slay all in their path in their feral fury.

A relatively unknown yet even more fascinating tale, is the legend of The Great Tree.

*** The Legend of the Ship in the Great Tree ***


In the long-forgotten age before recorded history, the Aldmer were a proud and flourishing race, said to be the first inhabitants of Nirn, the First (Elder) Folk.

The Bosmer (Wood Elves) and Dwemer (Deep Elves) were some of the progeny races of this ancient civilization. The Bosmer lived in Valenwood, which was a huge, sub-tropical forest. The Bosmer were hunter/gatherers and were said to be able to magically tranform into any wild animal. The Dwemer inhabited the region of Vvardenfell, and were renowned for their scientific accomplishments. Some of the Dwemer inventions are still said to exist as special artifacts in obscure corners of Tamriel.

There are some vague myths about the giant moving trees of Valenwood, magical semi-sentient beings that could walk at will and even converse with the Bosmers. It is said that these moving trees even attacked the city of Elsweyr, and some of this information is recorded in books such as Mixed Unit Tactics.


This is a story of one of these ancient trees, one that was destined for a special place in history.

This particular tree was young, wild and curious, just like any teenager (if you can call centuries as teen years). It was fascinated with everything around it, and displayed an outwardly scorn (and grudging respect) for its ancestors, the most famous of whom was Falinesti, who was said to be a mile-high tree holding a entire city in its branches, whose magic was created at the dawn of recorded history.


As it became more intelligent and sentient, the young tree became fascinated with the celestial objects. The Dwemer were already advanced enough to be able to build flying ships that soared across the skies, and the young tree used to gaze with wonder at these unique objects that wafted amidst the clouds. It longed to touch them, and dance with them. So, it decided to grow tall, just like its forefather Falinesti.

The curious tree stopped walking and talking; it just dug its roots deep into the ground, and soaked in the waters of the mighty river flowing through Valenwood. It look upwards to the sky, and grew. And grew. As it went into a semi-hibernation sleep to conserve its magical energy, it just kept growing taller and taller for centuries, with a single-minded subconscious focus to touch the heavens.

And one fine day, it touched its first white fluffy cloud.. and woke up.

Oh, what a feeling! It was like caressing some fleeting tufts of the softest moss, and at that great height, the tree could see beyond the borders of green Valenwood, to the golden shores of Summerset Isle in the west, the interesting architecture of Ayleid cities in Cyrodiil to the north, the great Elsweyr lands to the east, and the endless blue ocean to the south. The tree was no longer young, but it was still as curious as always and overjoyed at waking up to this miraculous sight.

It peeked above the clouds into the heavenly skyspace above Nirn, where even the air breeze felt ancient and thin. It swirled the clouds in its branches, the early morning sunlight glistening like dewdrops on the misty clouds, and it sang a glorious heart-song with the exhilarating feeling of ultimate freedom. A heart-song that even the Bosmers could hear down below, even as they paid homage to the greatest tree they had ever seen.


And then the tree became still - it saw them, the heavenly objects in the clouds. The flying ships.

It reached out its huge tendrils. Taken unawares, one of the ships got caught in its branches. The tree felt the celestial object, which reminded it vaguely of similar objects it had seen floating on the blue ocean. It felt the alien wood of the ship, scraping on the living wood of its boughs, it felt the thrumming hum of the ship's mystical engines, the silvery sheen of the great sails as they reflected the sunlight and puffed with the steady breeze.

Then the tree became aware of the pitching of the ship as its captain strained every ounce of the ship's engines to steer it clear from the tree, and it heard the cries of the ship's shocked crew as their ship flailed on the mighty branches. They somehow fled in mass panic to a nearby ship that came to rescue them and managed to escape before the giant tree could (innocently and curiously) snare one more victim from the sky.

The Dwemer Council met in a hurry. The Dwemer politicians blamed each other for not recognizing the enormity of the problem which has been looming for centuries, and accusations and counter-accusation flew thick and fast. Some said the giant tree grew suddenly in a matter of days as it neared the clouds. The ill-fated ship's crew claimed that the tree was enshrouded in a magical mist that seemed to cover it like a soft cloak, and made it difficult to spot amidst the clouds, despite all the advanced Dwemer technology.

The council made hard decisions. The flight corridors were changed immediately to avoid the giant tree, despite it standing right in the midst of their favorable tradewinds. And the Dwemer scientists worked in a frenzy to resolve the gigantic problem.

Cutting down the tree was not an option. If that giant tree fell from that height, it could wipe out a few of their cities easily.

So the Dwemer scientists, alchemists, healers, and mages worked together to concoct a secret alchemical recipe, a magical fluid, that was quickly tested to work with that type of tree (some of the fleeing crew had managed to grab a few twigs and leaves).


An armada of fast flying ships now set sail, outfitted with water cannons that were imbued with the magical fluid.

From a safe distance, right across the length and breadth of the giant tree, the Dwemer ships started firing the fluid onto the giant tree. It was like a swarm of angry bees buzzing around a tree and shooting their tiny stingers on it.

And then the giant tree started shrinking. Slowly at first, then rapidly, as hours and days passed.

It didn't retaliate against its attackers. It thought this was a wonderful new rainfall, sweet and salty at the same time, the raindrops made it feel tingly on the inside.

Through all the frenetic action, the giant tree just swayed the ship in its arms, like a mother rocking its newborn child, and sometimes reached out its curious tendrils towards the wily ships that immediately floated safely away from its reach.

The Bosmer watched with dismay as their god tree altered and shrunk in size. Their swift arrows could not even reach the flying ships, and all their entreaties to the Dwemer ambassadors fell on deaf ears. And thus they watched the downfall of The Great Tree (it had already gained legendary status due to its giant stature and peaceful disposition).

The great tree slowly shrank towards its original size, still clutching the ship (the Dwemer fluid somehow reduced the size of the ship too; maybe because it too was made of wood).

No one knows why the great tree still clung to the ship or why this incident affected the other sentient tree-beings. Maybe the tree was so enamored of the toy ship, that it refused to let go of its magical new prize. And maybe the tree-beings saw the downfall of their great veteran peer, and slowly they lost their will to speak, as they felt betrayed by the Dwemers and Bosmers. Or maybe the Dwemer scientists had rashly miscalculated the concentration of ingredients in the magical fluid, so it turned out to be a generic fluid that swept with the swift tradewinds and fell along with rainfall on the nearby forests, and over the centuries the sentient moving trees lost their special abilities, and became ordinary, ancient trees. Who can say?


Sometimes the lines between fanciful myth and irrefutable fact become blurred through the eons.

It is said that this incident sparked the War of Succession. The angry Bosmer tribes gathered together with the tree-beings, and went to battle against the Khajiits in Elsweyr and the Colovians of Cyrodiil, whom they accused of colluding with the traitorous Dwemers, in committing this dastardly act in order to destroy their beloved Valenwood.

And thus, the legend of the Great Tree was born.

The Tree with the Ship. The Ship in the Tree.

And it is said, on starry nights, you can still hear the Great Tree singing its heart-song, and softly caressing the heavenly toy clutched in its bosom.

Mod: Ship in a Tree ([link])
The mod of which the screenshot is taken.

Lore: Valenwood ([link])
The greatest forest-province of them all - the home of the Bosmer wood elves.

Lore: A Dance in Fire ([link])
Falinesti the ancient tree-city, has been described beautifully in this lore book.
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