“They found that they were looking at a most extraordinary face. It belonged to a large Man-like, almost Troll-like, figure at least fourteen feet high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin. The large feet had seven toes each. The lower — part of the long face was covered with a sweeping beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends. But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light. Often afterwards Pippin tried to describe his first impression of them.”
—LotRII, p. 83.
The Ents are the Treeherds of the world and resemble their charges. Ranging from ten to twenty-five feet tall, and from three to six feet in girth, they have rough bark-like skin on their “trunks” and beards like a mat of thatch, twigs, and moss. Each Ent resembles the kind of tree he herds, and behaves the way one might imagine such a tree to act. But they vary every bit as much as trees do, having their own size, shape and markings. So one oaken Ent will be radically different in appearance from another oaken Ent, even as he would vary from a coniferous Ent. Even the numbers of their fingers and toes vary widely, usually ranging from two to eight. Only their eyes remain similar from Ent to Ent, deep brown, shot with green light, and giving the beholder the mystical feeling of peering through a window into the ages of the earth itself.
Very nearly immortal, they can still be slain by violence, especially burning; and as the ages wax, so the Ents wane in vigor and number. They do age, albeit very slowly, and by the time of the War of the Ring, only three were considered old even though the “young” Ents had been born early in the Second Age! They can move with surprising swiftness on legs that do not bend. Yet their feet are flexing roots that stretch and move like a wading long-legged bird. They can master many languages but have also evolved their own slow deep rumbling dialect that no one can speak or understand save themselves alone. They feed on the same resources as do the trees — the soil and the rain — but their favorite and most powerful nutrients are the Ent-draughts which they draw, mix, and brew themselves. Their strength is legendary as they are able to work in a few seconds the devastation which natural trees work in years, destroying rock and metal with their very hands and feet. Their strength is of ten compared to that of the Trolls, but they are, in fact, far stronger than the stupid Trolls. After shattering rock or steel with their hands, Ents can propel the rubble (or even the bodies of their enemies) very effectively as devastating missiles.
Day today, the Ents work and live independently of one another. Each walks through the forest caring for the damaged and blighted, removing the dead to make room for new growth, and planting seedlings. All the trees of the forest are treated as individuals by the Ents who love them as parents love their children. Ents mourn a tree’s death and feel pride in its victories over hardship. All dead trees are uprooted and taken to one of several special places in the forest. There the wood decomposes and serves as a supply of fertilizer for the living. The idea of burying a body in stone where it cannot replenish the soil would be entirely foreign to Ents. If the Onodrim knew of the Dwarven interment practices, they would disapprove and think the Khazâd foolish.
Certain spots in the forest serve as nurseries where young trees grow to a height tall enough to ensure survival. The Ents usually preserve the natural way of things, but they do have favorite trees and like to ensure that dominant species do not extinguish less hardy ones. Soft mists, gentle rains, frequent sunshine, and nourishing soil seem to bring perpetual springtime to the nurseries. No Ent will bring an outsider into one without a compelling reason.
Their strength, size, and magical skills allow Ents to relocate trees thirty feet tall without risk of the transplant suffering from shock. Trees damaged by lightning, shifting earth, burrowing animals, or careless axes can be healed by the Ents, so long as the tree still stands. And although some blights spread quickly and do serious harm to their victims, these, too, the Ents can cure.
Ents live throughout their forests in homes of their own construction, most of which would not be distinguished by a stranger as anything other than ordinary woodlands. Three things make an Ent house or hall. The first is water, whether from spring, stream, or well. Next is shelter, usually in the form of a cliff overhang or cave, but sometimes nothing more than a dense tree canopy. The last is a storage place for vessels and utensils.
Although Ents use few tools, as their hands can do most things they need them to, they still have need of a few items for storage of beverages and the like. The storage area in an Ent home is used for these items and for caches of food. These areas can be anything from a hollowed-out area covered with sticks to a small cave with a rock in front of it. These Ent-home storage areas will usually house an assortment of jars containing Ent draught of the three different types and an assortment of fresh or dried fruits, nuts and berries. Of course bowls are also present to drink from.
Ents are not a possessive race and are, on the whole, very considerate. Because of this, a hungry Ent near another’s home, would comfortably take what he needed and replace it as soon as he was able. Both owner and borrower would deem this common practice. The only reason that the Ents have secured storage areas in their houses is to keep curious animals from scattering or damage their belongings. Individually Ents usually have more than one of these homes or share them with others in the area for convenience’ sake. Treebeard’s home “Wellinghall” is unusual in that Treebeard has made a table and bed for it. These are not normal and only exist because Treebeard receives more visitors than other Ents and needs a comfortable place for them if he is to talk to them. There are other Ent homes similar to Wellinghall in furnishings, but the more common home would have a rock as a table and a bed of leaves and moss. Often Ents will plant a grove of trees or relocate some of their favorite trees around their house. Amid these natural furnishings, the Ents spend their many days quietly, sometimes standing in a refreshing waterfall for weeks without moving, enjoying the crystal clearness of the numing stream.
The Ents live mystically connected with the forests, and especially with the semi-sentient trees called Huorns. The Huorns can be awakened and summoned to work by the Ents, and they can serve as warriors nearly as formidable as the Ents themselves. Indeed, entire Orcish armies have vanished in the midst of Entish forests, gone forever under the strength of the Ents and their wards. Originally born in two sexes like all the speaking races, only the males remain in the histories of Middle-earth. The departure of the Ent-wives remains unsolved, one of the greatest mysteries of Middle-earth. With the Ent-wives (apparently) perpetually separated from their mates, the Ents are doomed to wane until their last number is gone.
Religion and Magic
Worship is primarily practiced by the Ents individually on a daily basis. As might be expected, their focus is on Eru, with homage also paid to those among the Valar, especially Yavanna, involved in the works of nature. It can be seen that the Entish love and care for nature is, in fact, the chief practice of their faith, and they live as stewards of the green and growing world. Ents do celebrate communally on an interesting schedule which works because of their extreme longevity. Twice a year, all available gather for a nature ceremony. These ceremonies fall in two of the seasons of one year, and in the other two seasons of the next. Thus, if the Ents gather on Midwinter’s and Midsummer’s days one year, the next they will meet during the spring and autumn solstices.
The festive sites vary according to the season being celebrated. The gatherings are informal, since, as in their Moots, there is no hierarchy, rule of order, nor institution. The ceremonies are founded in the relationships being celebrated: the Ents with Eru, with Yavanna and Oromë, with one another, and with nature. Thus, fellowship and relationship, communion in the best and broadest sense, is the means and the focus of their worship. Singing and symbolic ritual express Entish reverence, and very lightly in the background, can be heard the harmony of the Huorns, and indeed, even the trees!
On the other hand, magic plays a much smaller part in Entish life and philosophy of life. Ents do not appreciate the manipulative aspects of most enchantments, nor their potential to work against the divine Balance. But the Onodrim do use magic to some small degree to assist the healing of nature, the repairing of injured or blighted trees, and the making of Ent-draughts. Most things Ents wish to accomplish concent their work of the wild. And most of that work Ents choose to carry out naturally (so to speak), with a forestry impossibly advanced ahead of Man’s own.
Ents make several varieties of draughts (pronounced “Ent Drafts,” in preference to “Ent Drawts”) or broths that they use for nourishment. Each one has numerous recipes and different effects: i.e. there are hazelnut draughts, walnut draughts, and chestnut draughts; apple draughts, peach draughts, and plum draughts; etc.
The draughts are designed specifically for Entish needs, but can be used by other races for short periods with some strange side effects. The making of those wonderful beverages is an ancient, long, and complex art. The three listed below have names in Entish only and are not differentiated in other tongues. The names are quite long and include every ingredient and most of the preparation techniques; so to Men, they are merely Ent draughts.
It should also be noted that most of these draughts are somewhat toxic to the dark races, ranging from nauseating to fatal. The draughts have within them indeed some of the “essence,” some of the “dream and design” of the Ents, the earth, and Eru’s intention. This is extremely disagreeable to the wicked physiologies of the Trolls, Orcs, demons, and Dragons, for whom it represents a direct antithesis to their unintended design.
Fruit draught is used by the Ents primarily as a thirst quencher after a hard day’s (or hard week’s) work. It is an exceptionally thin liquid concocted magically from fruit juices and fresh spring water. It satisfies Ents on a ten-to-one ratio; i.e., two quarts of fruit draught is equivalent to five gallons of pure water. Non-Ents are instantly refreshed, motivated and capable of another entire day’s labor or travel. The initial sensation will be a tingling and a feeling that the drinker’s hair is standing on end. However, if used over an extended period of time, troublesome side effects begin to appear. First, the imbiber experiences radically quickened growth of his hair and nails, and a bizarre craving for the somewhat toxic Goyan root found only in northern Fangorn Forest. Further use radically increases the user’s metabolism beyond any hope of satisfying it (although perhaps a constant diet of lembas or of cram might suffice). Eventually the individual will lose weight and finally starve. This process usually takes only one to three months under normal circumstances. The drainer’s eyes begin to bulge after a couple of weeks or so of regular use, and this uncomfortable condition is incurable, even magically; and will depart only after a year of abstinence from the fruit draught.
The nut draught is a food staple among the Ents, and even a single bowl can sustain a very large Ent for quite a while. It is much thicker than the fruit draught, likewise requires magic in its concoction, and is full of the extract and pieces of nuts, roots, and bark. Its effect on non-Ents is dramatic and involves an increase in size, strength, and constitution. This was the draught which Merry and Pippin imbibed during their association with Treebeard.
Note: Hobbits and Dwarves gain height at the rate of approximately 1/2 to 1” per bowlful. Hobbits gain strength and constitution at the rate of 1 point per 2 bowls (maximum of 5). Dwarves gain at the rate of 1 point per 4 bowls (maximum of 3). Humans gain 1/4 to 1÷2” per bowl, and their strength and constitution increase in the same manner as Dwarves. Other races, including the Elves, experience no side effects other than a considerably refreshed feeling.
However, this draught will terribly punish non-Ents for greed. There is an unknown ingredient in the draught which is toxic to the affected races, and which builds up over the user’s lifetime. This last point is important, as the toxic substance does not decrease over a period of time by abstinence. The poison drives the user into a coma, out of which he may never recover unless puissant magic is performed to extract the residue of the draught from his system, and reverse all its accumulated effects.
Note: As an option, the sufferer may he left in his coma for the natural comatose processes to rid the body of the offending substance, at the rate of 1/2 point per day decrease of the gained strength and constitution. This will continue until the temporary slats are reduced to five points below their value at the time of the first increase. Additionally, the person recovering from the coma will be 20% underweight, and bedfast for two months. To determine whether or not a past user suffers such a coma, every six months for the rest of his life he must make a RR (+25 + Con Mod + Racial Poison Resistance Mod) vs. a poison which attacks at a level equal to the number of bowls imbibed.
The herb draught is a potent Entish healing mixture. It is extremely thick and has been described as looking like very lumpy molasses. The herb draught can be used in three different ways for three different purposes:
- It will cure concussion hits on an Ent at a rate 10x normal.
- Mixed with fruit draught, it acts as 10-day lifekeeping.
- If made into a yet thicked paste with soil and bandaged on an open wound with moss, it will stop bleeding immediately, even from criticals, and leave no scar.
Non-Ents also may receive all these benefits, with the exception of the lifekeeping. It should also be noted that some folks who have been healed of a bleeding wound, later demonstrate some most unusual characteristics. When this rare phenomenon occurs, most often the treated individual simply becomes very hungry occasionally for recently fallen leaves. More rarely, the individual after satisfying his bizarre hunger develops nearly Entish strength, texture and coloring for several hours. The Istari Radagast has considered doing experiments on willing individuals to determine if it is possible to completely effect a transformation, that is, to evolve an Ent (or an Ent-wife!) in such a fashion. However, Radagast is loathe to either approach Gandalf, Tom Bombadil, or the Valar on the issue, or to do something so bizarre without their approval. It is likely that the phenomenon will go unnoted and untried since Radagast is the only one who has observed the few multiple occurrences during Middle-earth’s history.
The secret of how to make these draughts is known to the Ents only, and they can be made only in forests cared for by Ents where the ingredients are fresh. Nor do the Ents realize that their food causes side effects. Since most people never have more than a bowl or two, the side effects are not usually seen and noted. If an Ent makes friends with an outsider, he will gladly share his food because he does not know it can be harmful. However, the Treeherd will not teach the outsider to make the draughts himself.
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