To further enhance the lives of the people of Aathenaar, the Baron soon instituted a new policy of beautification. He started by sending an expedition of his wisest and most trusted advisors to each of the city-states to acquire sapling specimens from every region of Coventra.
This was not a simple undertaking. There is, naturally enough, the trial associated with a journey of any length, particularly when large amounts of cargo have to be transported. The expedition comprised experienced and wise travelers, however, and so it was made with minimal loss of time and only a moderate casualty rate due to accident, exhaustion, defection, and cannibalism. This must be considered a singularly triumphant achievement.
The second cause of difficulty was the representatives of the other regions with whom our noble emissaries met. Their reaction, upon hearing the Baron’s plan, was generally one of mirth. “Nothing will grow in Aathenaar!” exclaimed Feldspar, the lead arborist of Anaraia, the southwestern jungle territory. “The climate is inhospitable, the soils are riddled with poisonous salts, and the very sunlight is accursed!”
Brange’s representatives refused to accept this argument. “Our Baron is wise and determined,” they declared. “He can cause these trees to flourish by sheer force of will.”
“I should like to see that,” declared Feldspar, clearly convinced by the expedition’s fortitude and sound argument. And she agreed to gift several trees with which Brange could begin his planting scheme.
Similar outcomes occurred everywhere the expedition visited, and just under a year after setting out, it returned to Aathenaar hauling dozens of fine trees. The Baron was delighted by this, and he immediately set to meticulously planning where each tree should be placed, both on the grounds of his manor and throughout the village.
Over the next years, Brange attended to the health of these trees personally, trusting no one else to carry out a plan so close to his heart. He ensured that each individual received appropriate care—the proper amount of water, and offerings of nourishing meats, and the well-balanced ratio of praise and chastisement necessary to the proper growth of all things.
Under the Baron’s care, every single tree did flourish. It was commonly said that if one could brave the sharp protective needles and climb to the top of one of the Baron’s prized olaks, that person would be rewarded with a view of the great western ocean—a statement this bard would never dispute!
Of course, no act, no matter how grand, can achieve unanimous approval, and this famously successful beautification plan was no different. A small group of peasants, led by one Jik, began to publicly suggest that the trees could be harvested and farmed for industrial purposes.
This was, of course, absurd, as the Baron explained to these insurgents. The muds of Aathenaar were the finest industrial material in existence, and they would never run out. “No,” the Baron said, “We shall let beauty be these trees’ contribution to our lives.”
Sadly, the people of Aathenaar were not so magnanimous. They grew enraged at the suggestion of cutting down the beloved trees, and despite all efforts on Brange’s behalf to control the mob, charged Jik and the rest of the peasants. The violence that ensued was truly unfortunate and deeply bloody, resulting in an average of five appendages being torn from the body of each of Jik’s band.
Happily, the remaining townspeople agreed on the wisdom of letting the trees grow undisturbed from then on.