(A continuation of the Oakwood lore here: https://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/topic/12704/the-legend-of-oakwood )
Every child of Oakwood has, of course, heard the Legend of Oakwood. How the town came to be, even the tree itself. How Ariel led her people away from the dangerous of a far away land, and with Watermelon's loving grace founded the beautiful town of Oakwood.
But Ariel's problems did not end when she arrived at The Mighty Oak. Nay; her problems were only just beginning. It's a lesser known story -- maybe not always lesser known, but stories with tragedy tend to only be passed around in hushed whispers.
I would go to my grandmother's every Tuesday after school to learn her trade. Most girls of Oakwood learned the trade from their mothers, but as the Countess mine was too busy to teach. Grandmother, who had given up her title years ago, rarely tailored anymore. In fact, I think she only tailored on the Tuesdays she taught me.
Despite not tailoring anymore -- at least not professionally -- Grandmother still had a shop, though she only sold goods made by other people who didn't have a shop of their own. I'd come over every Tuesday afternoon, burst into her shop, and yell "Grandma! You ready to stitch?" and she always always always told me yes, of course she'd stitch, she lived to teach me.
One Tuesday at school, the teacher had given all the students three bags of melon seeds each. She had explained that when they spot The Eye, that it was a sign all Oakwood children needed to learn to plant their own crops to harvest, as The Longest Night would soon be upon us I was excited to plant them, as I'd never had my own melon plant before, but when I got to Grandmother's shop and showed her, she was furious.
"Do you not know what happened to our people on our first Longest Night in Oakwood?" she had asked me. She screamed the question in a way that implied she thought I knew the answer, which I didn't.
"No, Grandma, I don't know. What happened?" I asked her. Little did I know, I was about to get the story of my life.
"I'll tell you," she said, "but let's get to work first. Henry needs a custom belt made, and that's more important than your seeds. First, I tell you the story; then you decide whether or not you want to plant them."
So we went back to her back room as we usually did, but this time with my mind eager to find out the story that got Grandmother so riled up. As we sat behind our workstations, Grandmother began her story.
Oakwood thrived for years and years after its founding. It was in a prime location along the river, and travelers stopped by on their way from here to there to buy, sell, and trade goods, and soon, a bustling city was formed. But the people of Oakwood did not heed the warning that The Eye sent them, and they would soon realize how big a mistake that was.
One fateful morning, the sun didn't rise. The morning light to bring hope and prosperity to the land was nowhere to be found. The town knew this wasn't good, they knew what it meant, and they were not prepared.
The first to suffer from the curse of the Longest Night was farmer Aaron. Aaron woke up one day to find his entire farm -- watermelons, cantaloupe, corn, and wheat -- all completely dead, frozen by the chill. He stood in his field, a cool breeze blowing through when there should be nothing but warmth.
Aaron salvaged what he could and took it to his warehouse. He went to Ariel, and asked if he she could spare some Melon seeds. Ariel kept some Airmelon, Earthmelon, and Firemelon seeds in her cupboard, but she was't ready to part with them and so she told him no.
The winds grew heavier, the endless Night grew colder, and the Earth hardened. Rations were low, and getting even lower. But Ariel refused to let her seeds go.
The town Hunter, Ramon, was out trying to find what little food he could. But instead of food, Ramon found himself in even more trouble when an earthquake hit and the cold, barren Earth tried to swallow Ramon whole. When he didn't return to town, a search party went to look for him. Dozens of torches lit up the forest, running this way and that. They searched for days and found nothing and they were about to give up when a young boy stumbled on something in the Earth. Barely sticking out enough to even get in his path was Ramon, who had fallen in a hole, holding on to the top for dear life.
When he came back to town, the Town Council voted and decided it was too dangerous to send anyone else out into the forest to search for food. They urged Ariel to plant her seeds. Even still, she held onto them.
Weeks passed by. Villagers left the town in search of other towns that might have food. People lost hope. They were desperate. They needed those seeds. Some people of the village met in private and talked about their options. They knew what they had to do. That night (or was it even night -- who knew?) they went to Ariel's home while she slept, and set it on fire. The beautiful mayor's manor was up in flames, burning for the whole town to see, lighting up the sky for the first time in months. The whole town saw this and gathered around.
Lucky for her, the fire woke up Ariel and she quickly ran to her cupboard, grabbed the seeds, and ran out the door. As soon as she did, the angry mob snatched the seeds out of her hands and took to the fields. They ran to Aaron's farm and planted the seeds in the cold and unforgiving soil. They didn't know if it would work, but it had to. It had to work.
Weeks passed by, and Aaron checked his farm every day, and nothing happened. He began to get discouraged. He told himself the next day he would just uproot the seeds and give them back to Ariel, who was temporarily staying at the Inn.
But the next day when Aaron went out to his field with his shovel, something was different. The wind wasn't blowing, and the Earth wasn't hard. He went to where the seeds were, and plants were there. The Earth was warm to his bare feet.
You see, overnight, Airmelon had stopped the wind, Earthmelon had softened the soil, and Firemelon had warmed the ground. And finally, Watermelon had watered the plants so that they could grow. A couple weeks later, just as the town ran out of food, they had a hearty portion of Airmelon, Earthmelon, and FIremelon to eat to keep them alive until The Darkest Night was over.
Ariel went to the Watermelon church. On the far wall was a small statue for Watermelon's other elemelon counterparts. Ariel kneeled before them and asked for forgiveness for not trusting them to help her through this tough time. She then went to the large statue of Watermelon and thanked her for her help, for if it weren't for all four elemelons coming together in their time of need, she wouldn't even be here today.
The children that went through that first Longest Night made sure to start a tradition on the next one. To this day, Oakwood still honors the tradition. Every family in Oakwood plants a bag each of Airmelon, Earthmelon, and Firemelon seeds. And each time, the plants successfully grow. The families have plenty of food to sustain themselves through the harsh year of The Longest Night.