Perhaps you have heard the tale before, perhaps not. In either case, you would find it wise to listen to my words, and let the story of Jardenyre’s cup treat your mind.
You see, Jardenyre was the Spirit of the trees. Forests would bow their branches toward him, and the leaves would fall to make a carpet as he walked by. This tale is not about the trees or the forests however, but about the cup Jardenyre created from them.
Where men in those times made their tankards from pot or horn, Jardenyre sought something else. He crafted his own flagon from the very heart of an oaken tree. The red of its wood was deeper than scarlet blood, the handle more fairly golden than the leaves of autumn’s hand.
Of this chalice, men grew jealous. Why should the dead have such beauty, when they were shunned of it? So they tried to copy the masterpiece. They felled forests and split trunks. They whittled and they carved, so much that their hands blistered and tools dulled.
Each time they finished their craft, however, the wood would turn to ash! As though they had burst into flame or fallen to weary age, the cups would crumble and float into the breeze.
Where many gave up, one refused to give up his chase. Hormen. Grand craftsman of Reigar, Hormen had created so many masterpieces, that Spirits had even grown jealous of he. But even he knew that he could not recreate the esteemed chalice of Jardenyre. So he came up with the most cunning of plans.
Whilst Jardenyre was wandering the distant forests, Hormen felled a tree in secret, stealing its heart and carving a cup of his own. This cup, however, he made already broken! Two halves he held, as though the very cup of Jardenyre had split in two. When he finished creating the halves, Hormen was much relieved to see they did not turn to ash, instead the two halves remaining whole.
So, when Jardenyre had finished wandering and settled beneath the bough of a heavy ash tree for the night, Hormen snuck up on him with the quietness of a stalking cat. As carefully as he could, he snatched up the cup of Jardenyre, where he had laid it after drinking his fill, and replaced it with Hormen’s own broken tankard.
As dawn broke, and Jardenyre woke, Hormen hid silently in the bushes nearby. As Jardenyre’s eyes fell upon the broken cup, he bellowed in sorrow, the very trees shivering like winter had quickly beset their limbs. Mourning his loss, Jardenyre quickly set to fill his heart. Turning to the very ash he had slept beneath, he plunged his hand inside, tearing out the tree’s heart with one hideous tug. With quick hands and quicker fingers, he turned the heart over and over, whittling away the shards of wood, littering the ground with chips and splinters. Hormen watched with wide eyes, the craftsman ship far beyond anything he could dare hope for, until at long last in his hand, where had once been a heart of wood, Jardenyre now held a new tankard.
Hormen could scarce believe, but the cup was more precious than the one he had already stolen! It glowed with a light more delicate than the drifting clouds before the sun, and yet its handle looked as heavy as the haft of a deadly axe. Gold rimmed its lip, and where the light hit, it spilled off as rainbow reflections!
Wishing he had that masterful cup rather than the oaken cup he had taken, Hormen followed Jardnyre as he stepped through the forest. As sun set once more, and Jardenyre’s eyelids had crept down from the ale he drank, Hormen stalked up upon him once more. In his hurry to take the greater chalice, Hormen did not notice as Jardenyre’s oaken cup fell from his pocket, clattering to the ground with a hard and terrible thud!
Jardenyre quickly jerked awake and, spotting the thief and his stolen cup, flew into a fit of rage. Grasping the ash wood tankard in hand, Jardenyre brought it crashing down of Hormen’s skull, splitting both the cup and Hormen in two! Leaving the broken cup and Hormen, Jardenyre took back his old oak tankard, and set to walk again through the woods at peace.
And so, do not think that Hormen such the hero, for greed may play at the heart of all men. Still yet, do not forget that he still did succeed where others had but failed, for he, if for just a moment, did hold the greatest tankard of these lands, and bested even a Spirit with his such cunning of mind. For that is the tale of Jardenyre’s cup, and the death, of the craftsmen Hormen.