Old Ones: first humans to settle the Tree, said to be both great Grafters and prolific inventors. They were the first to use dirigible technology and mine for hardwood, as well as obtain the mysterious shining orah, which adorned their houses and became a hallmark of their civilization.
Orah: generally thought to be a type of magical hardwood mined from the heart of the Tree. The secret of obtaining it has been lost along with much of the knowledge possessed by the Old Ones.
Jedda plucked the cord and the rod from Tymon’s outstretched fingers, and held it up to the moonlight welling through the shutters. There were no panes of hardened sap in the windows of the inn: a slight breeze stirred her hair as she swung the pendant in the light.
“They say all the orah in existence was mined by the Old Ones, from the heart of the Tree,” she said. “But I for one don’t believe it. Do you know what I think?”
“What?” His answer was distracted. He itched to hide away the bright sliver.
“I don’t think it comes from our world at all.” She glanced sidelong at him. “I think it comes from another.”
“Why do you say that?” he asked, taken aback.
She shrugged, the pale locks of hair sliding down her arms. “Because it isn’t like anything here. Think about it. Everything in our world is related. Birds, plants, animals, the Tree itself: you can see they belong to the same family. They’re natural. None of them have strange powers. Nothing behaves like this.” She jiggled the pendant again, rather disrespectfully in Tymon’s opinion. “This is as cold as ice, or as hot as fire. It shines like hardened Treesap but doesn’t break or melt. It helps a Grafter focus his ability. What else does that? I think the Old Ones brought the orah from another place, a magic place. And I think something we Grafters do makes it remember its old home.”
Under the hood…
Jedda is absolutely right. The ancient civilization predating that of the Tree-dwellers was technologically advanced, so advanced that their tools and processes allowed them to explore parallel worlds. The artifacts they left behind seem to Tymon’s contemporaries to be magical. But as the adage goes, magic is simply a kind of technology we haven’t understood yet; it may also be technology we were once familiar with and have now forgotten.