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"When no living thing was left within the sacred bounds except the trees, they withdrew, and forbade entry. As if to bury their own sins along with us. And the rains came, and the snows of many winters, and men died, and forgot Holytree, and all the glory that had passed there."
―Earl Horseriver recounts Audar's treatment of Holytree[src]

Bloodfield was the site of the climatic battle between Audar and the forces of the Weald, ending with the slaughter of 4,000 Wealdean warriors, spirit warriors, shamans, and camp followers, including the hallow king and his heir. Bloodfield was also the site of the shrine of Holytree, thought of as the heart of the Old Weald. At the time of The Hallowed Hunt, the lands containing Bloodfield/Holytree were part of the dower of Ijada dy Castos and the area was known as the Wounded Woods.

The rite at Holytree[]

During Audar's conquest of the Weald four hundred years before the time of The Hallowed Hunt, Wealdeans used aspects of the forest magics to aid their cause. These included human sacrifices intended to ask for favor, but the five gods refused these sacrifices.

As Audar moved against the heart of the Weald, the hallow king and many of the kin shamans devised a rite to make the Wealdean spirit warriors invincible by binding the bodies and spirits of the warriors to the Weald itself until the battle was won. To ensure that if the king fell in battle that the hallow kingship would not be lost, the rite included a binding to pass the kingship to the next heir immediately on the death of the king. The rite took place at Holytree, and the strength of the forest trees there was also included in the binding.

The rite was planned to take three days. However, Audar's forces arrived at Holyfield the second night of the rite and attacked immediately, when the hallow king was fully bound to the Weald but the warriors were only partly bound. What was created by the interrupted rite was a three-way binding of the hallow king's spirit animal (a horse) and his power as a shaman, the trees at Holytree, and the spirit warriors. The spell itself as well as the will of the hallow king also excluded the gods from Holytree/Bloodfield.

Audar's forces overwhelmed the Wealdeans despite the binding of the spirit warriors, and slaughtered all. The spirit warriors were beheaded and the heads buried separately from the bodies to defeat the spell, but their souls remained bound to the trees at what had become Bloodfield. The trees were blighted, and continue to be stunted and deformed until Ijada's time. The binding to immediately pass the hallow kingship on to the heir succeeded, but in the manner of the making of spirit animals: the personality and soul of the king merging with and overwhelming that of the heir.

Horseriver's goals[]

Wencel kin Horseriver, the blood-heir of the Bloodfield hallow king and thus the merged personality and souls of the line for the intervening four hundred years, wanted to die and to deny the gods the souls of the warriors bound to Bloodfield. To finally die, he needed a shaman who could separate his soul from his spirit animal during the brief time between his death and his passage to his next heir. To deny the gods those other souls he needed to continue to bar them from Bloodfield until he could break the three-way binding by his death and leave the souls of the warriors sundered.

References[]

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