Autumndale trees appear to be large and magnificent hickory trees caught in the full brightest turn of autumn color. This is their appearance all year through. They are never green, nor ever bare. They defy mortal weather.
The Autumndales, like hickories, are large trees which tend to form upright, cylindrical crowns when grown in the open. They have pronounced taproots which securely anchor the trees, so they are never displaced once grown (and they secure the soft soil so it will not slide if on a hillside).
The leaves are broad and somewhat round. These odd pinnately compound leaves which are aromatic when crushed. They change through the year, cycling between red, orange, yellow, gold, amber, and back to red. The leaves will occasionally drop leaves all year round, but the tree is never sparse or bare.
Unlike hickories, they bare no nuts. They create a tough seed pod that is 1” diameter (2cms) and covered in spiky points. These litter the areas under the trees, making barefoot walking anywhere near them painful.
The wood tends to be strong and resilient. Even with these properties, it is seldom used to build, but is used to make musical instruments. (A famous fiddle and string instrument makers, one Cepetius by name, made hundreds of instruments of this wood. They are known for their deep sad sounds.) Mostly it is used to flavor meat while smoking or barbecuing. It’s strong dark smoke adds a nearly perfect tang to meat.
The origin of the Autumndale Tree helps to explain its unique “everautumn” properties. These are fey trees from the other side of the veil. They come from the domains of The Autumn King.
The Domain of the Autumn King is much like you would expect. It is a place of eternal autumn, much like the IceQueen’s realm is every winter. It is a place of harvest and the sharp cold of transitions. While mostly filled with Satyrs and Fawns, there is a strong contingence of goblins and Redcaps there. Also many devious fey which world walk on Samhain make their home in the Autumn realms.
The Autumn King fancied himself a Grand Fey, a ruler of equal rank of the masters of the Seelie and Unseelie court. He despised the every vacillating Fey Crown. He felt it passed over others of great worth, such as himself.
In an attempt to solidify his power, he attempted to expand his domain into the material realms. He created trodways (pathways to the mortal realms, exiting in vague gates) to the mortal world and re-opened paths long closed. His scouts extended his power into the realms by spreading Autumndale trees. Within a decade or three, the areas around the gate points were filled with autumn power.
The trees are empowered by trickles of power from his domain, so they never have to bow to time or become mortal trees.
While the tree’s fed of his realm, they also empowered it by bringing in mortal energies to his realm. With that energy he became strong and cocky. He challenged the Masters of the Court.
Of course he lost.
His forces were dispersed. His powers diminished. He was banished from the Summer Lands. Most of the trodways were closed by the Fey Foresters, though some have found their way open since then. So now he broods in his realm, licking his metaphorical and physical wounds.
Yet unknown to any, his plan continues. The seeds planted in the mortal realm continue to spread. They continue to extend his “command” in that realm and mortal energies still flow to him. His followers trickle back to his domains. Someday, he will rise up again. A wiser and more cunning Autumn King will be victorious. The Fey realms and much of the mortal realms will be under his control. Some day… some day.
Note: Where is a large stand of Autumndale trees, it is more likely that there will be fey, odd creatures, and gateways/ trodways to their realms in the vicinity. Even if the gate was closed, some fey might still be trapped on the mortal side of the gate.
Inspiration for this post