The Barrenfield Oaks were created by an Alchemist who also dabbled in botany. His goal was to remove all the precious minerals from the ground without the need for mining.
To this purpose, he created the first Barrenfield acorn. It was to prevent the wanton destruction of the environment by wasteful mining procedures. It was never meant to work as well as it did.
The first trial run seemed to go as planned. The alchemist went to a very remote location, where he knew there was something to be mined, gold to be precise.
He planted the acorn, and added some water. Immediately, the tree sprouted from the soil. As it grew, several tendrils erupted from the soil nearby, planting themselves in the soil further away as roots. The tree grew larger, and this happened again and again. The more it grew, the larger the new tendrils which shot out, and the faster the tree grew. As it reached its summit, the tree slowed in growth. It gave an immense shudder as it halted, and a barrage of acorns erupted from its branches in all directions.
The acorns it produced hit the ground at various distances. They too began to grow similarly, destroying whatever other flora was there previously. Curiously, only occassionally did an oak reach the size of the original. The oaks inbetween were a normal size, and when they created their acorns, they didn’t spread very far. And the products of those were even smaller, and the products of these smaller still.
Acorns rained down all around, the ground was coated with them, and shortly after, countless shrunken oaks, no higher than an ankle. These produced no acorns, however.
The Alchemist was astounded and horrified. His creation had both wreaked more damage than mining ever had, yet at the same time had produced a wondrous forest. Indeed, the trees seemed vibrant with a life not seen in any other forest he had been to.
He decided to sleep on it, and set up camp.
What he found when he arose was not so lively. The forest, previously so full of life, was dead. It already decayed, and even petrified, the valuable metals glittering from within the solid wood. The soil within the forest seemed dead. The Alchemist took soil samples, which only confirmed what he already knew in his gut. The soil was dead. Ruined. It wouldn’t recover for centuries, if at all.
Fearing the worst, he set off to the highest nearby point. From there, he surveyed the damage. His relief was audible as he discovered that his creation had a limited size. Investigating this, he discovered the reason. As the oaks reached a certain distance from the tree of origin, they began to grow smaller and smaller, until they reached the shrunken state of producing no more acorns.
The Alchemist pondered whether a system of tree roots could have been to blame for this effect, and, on investigating, found that this, indeed, was the case. The roots of the original tree had spread themselves far and wide, linking up with the roots of the other trees on the way. As the roots grew more distant from the tree, however, they grew smaller, the links to the other trees less strong.
The Alchemist then proceeded his long work of trying to removed all trace of this dead forest, and all the acorns along with it, and he was successful in this, almost. He would later spend a great deal of time devising a way for the destruction to be reversed.
There was one man, however, who lived out in this remote location where none others did. He was an exile of civilisation. A man of great resource, who had once been a power in the lands to the south. He’d used his power poorly, and others had stripped it from him.
This man was fascinated by the explosive forest as it sprang into existance around him, and he caught some of the acorns in his cap.
He was more fascinated, however, by the wilting and eventual death of the forest and the ground beneath it that night. His next act was to discover the limits of the dead area, finding a clean cut of living normal forest, and the dead Barrenfield oaks. Armed with acorns, and the knowledge that they did not destroy indefinitely, he hatched a plan.
The men who had caused his downfall were now powerful rulers in their own right. They possessed lands, and wealth, and everything that goes with it.
The man has long since resigned himself to never regaining power, but he saw here a path to revenge. If he ruled nothing, then so would they. He would bring about the destruction of their lands.
The man, in fact, had seven of these enemies, though once five had had their lands destroyed, the group found the exile once again, this time slaying him without mercy. But one acorn remained hidden.
Unfortunately, the acorns also fell into the hands of others. They were used as a weapon throughout a great deal of the world, destroying much of the arable land. Eventually, they were put aside by those groups who remained, as a weapon too destructive to be used.
The land has since been made workable again. The horror of the Barrenfield Oaks is largely forgotten, except in very old history books. Almost nobody has laid eyes on an acorn, and those who have know them to be tucked away securely, just in case someone else uses them first.
This one, however, has just been sitting there, waiting to be found by anyone who happens to stumble into the cave and open the box.
The acorn, when planted with water and sunlight present, will rapidly grow into an immense ‘source’ tree. This tree will be the centre of a new area of destruction as it creates new Oaks up to a distance of 700 leagues from itself.
All previous flora is destroyed, either from the relentless growth of the forest, or by its greedy removal of all nutrients from the soil. The acorns that hit the ground are capable of putting down roots even while resting on top of the soil.
Initially, the Oaks seem wondrous. They have a sort of joyful energy about them, in much the same manner as a Miracle Forest, which grows in a similar fashion. At night, however, they will die off, leaving the precious minerals they have extracted hidden inside their trunks, the land coated with their debris, which, when touched, disintegrates into an unnourishing dust. The land is left barren by this process.