Nature-speaking is one of the three gifts of language in The Books of Bayern.
When the world was created, everything spoke one language. Snails could speak to stone, trees to the wind, and so on. But as time passed, creatures developed their own languages and gradually forgot how to speak between species. However, a few rare people were born with the ability to learn a language of nature. Most of these people were apparently born in the desert country of Yasid, but even there nature-speakers were feared, mistrusted, and even attacked. Many of them escaped the hostility of their countrymen and banded together, living peacefully in communes and becoming primarily known as tata-rook, or fire-worshipers, able to speak both the languages of fire and water.
Yasid was not the only place to contain nature-speakers, however. A village in Bayern was home to at least one fire-speaker before her talents burned the place to the ground. She had learned the talent from a vellum that described how to learn the language of fire in great detail, but instead of destroying it, the woman buried it under a tree. Many years later, it was found by a boy named Leifer who brought it back home and learned its secrets. When Bayern was forced to go to war against Tira, he chose to use his talents in the first battle. Though he single-handedly ensured Bayern's victory, the fire wound up consuming him. Soon after his death, his sister Enna found the vellum and learned how to sense the voice of fire, also choosing to use her newfound gift to fight for Bayern. She eventually shared the knowledge to her best friend, Ani.
Princess Anidori of Kildenree was born with the language of wind resting on the tip of her tongue. Sixteen years later, she at last figured out how to understand the wind's voice. Unfortunately, as she became more aware of the wind and skilled in her talents, the voice of the wind became unceasing and she began to go mad from the constant noise at around the time Enna learned fire-speaking. Within just a few months, Enna's gift began to kill her and Ani was forced to drink a special tea that deadened her senses just so she could function. The duo decided to travel to Yasid, where the nature-speakers seemed to unlock the secrets of living in harmony with the languages of nature. The man they meet, a water-and-fire-speaker named Fahil, explains to them that they need to learn another language to balance their knowledge. Enna teaches Ani to sense fire, and Ani teaches Enna to hear the wind.
In Tira, at least three people had the ability to learn water-speaking. Dasha was secretly taught by her grandfather who was taught by his mother the art of "river fingers". Her grandfather ultimately succumbed to the voice of water and drowned himself. Knowing that the same thing could happen to her, Dasha sought out Enna to learn fire-speaking from her.
The knowledge of fire-speaking continued to spread in Ingridan, Tira's capital city. An army captain who was severely demoted following the unsuccessful war with Bayern and who lost a brother to a fiery death during one of the battles decided to reignite the war by teaching his own soldiers the art of fire. He used a book from Yasid to teach his men fire-speaking, but the book described the process very poorly and as a result, almost every soldier burnt himself up.
- Wind-speaking- A person who knows the language of wind can sense what a breeze has touched before reaching them. If it is not balanced, the voice of the wind will never stop speaking since it is nearly omnipresent, causing the wind-speaker to go slowly insane from the ceaseless noise. Speakers include:
- Fire-speaking- Those who know the language of fire can sense the heat that living things emit and draw it into a special place inside their chest, transforming it somehow and releasing it into any object as fire. Fire-speakers feel compelled to burn, almost as if speaking fire is an addiction that needs to be sated. If it is not balanced, heat will cling to the fire-speaker and cause the person to overheat, burning him or her to death from the inside out. It appears to be the easiest of the nature languages to learn, but the hardest to control. Speakers include:
- Water-speaking- Those who can hear the voice of water can sense the moisture in the air, in the clouds, and in rivers and the sea. When standing in water themselves, they can sense what else the water has touched. If not balanced, water-speakers will eventually become so enchanted with the soothing, calm voice of water, they will eventually seek to join with it completely by willingly drowning themselves.
- Speakers include:
- Dasha's paternal grandfather
- Dasha's paternal great-grandmother
- Tree-speaking- A person who has learned to speak the language of trees can "sink" into a tree's calm, slow thoughts. Trees see time without beginning or end, but as a continuous circle, allowing a tree-speaker to view their memories in the same way. It is unknown what happens if tree-speaking is unbalanced. Since trees are living things, it is possible that they know how to not overpower other creatures. Speakers include:
As many of these aspects of nature aren't technically alive, knowing their languages can be overpowering for a human. They have no concept of restraint and will continuously speak to the person until his or her death. Consequently, nature-speakers must balance one language with another so that their gifts will not consume them.
Traditionally, water balances out fire and vice versa. Heat will evaporate water if it becomes too overpowering, and the moisture in the air will suffocate the heat if it becomes too intense. Wind can also balance with fire. Heat can break up wind, and wind can scatter heat. This harmony prevents one element from becoming too overwhelming to a person, which would eventually kill them.