"The red ones offend my aesthetic."
-the Cthaeh, explaining its reason for killing butterflies.
The Cthaeh is generally regarded by the Fae as the most terrible and malicious being in existence.
The Cthaeh is a creature who dwells within the branches of a great tree, located in the middle of a clearing in the Fae Realm. It is either trapped or forced to stay there by the guardians of the tree, The Sithe. It sits hidden amongst the branches and foliage of its tree, and though it will converse with those who approach it, it never makes itself seen from the ground. It has a habit of killing butterflies, either out of boredom or pure spite, and the ground around the tree is littered with thousands of butterfly wings.
According to Bast, the Cthaeh is poisonous, hateful and contagious. It can see all possible futures with perfect accuracy and clarity, branching out from a single moment. It uses this knowledge to cause the worst possible outcomes for as many people as possible. In doing so it often reveals information that will hurt and traumatize those who speak to it. It is said that the Sithe kill anyone who speaks to The Cthaeh, and leave the body to rot. If a bird picks so much as a morsel of flesh from the corpse, it is also killed. This is apparently done to thwart any influence the Cthaeh might have on the outside world.
Place in the StoryEdit
"I swear it by my tongue and teeth. I swear it on the doors of stone. I am telling you three thousand times. There is nothing in my world or yours more dangerous than the Cthaeh."
-Bast to Chronicler and Kvothe.
The Cthaeh is supposedly responsible for many of history's greatest tragedies. It is believed to have spoken to Jax before he stole the moon, which in turn caused the Creation War. It also spoke to Lanre shortly before he betrayed Myr Tariniel, which is possibly the event that created the Chandrian. It was also apparently responsible for the Fastingway War. Besides being able to lure people with its perfect knowledge of the future, the flowers of the Cthaeh's tree, called the Rhinna Flower, act as a panacea. They are able to cure any disease or heal any wound.Kvothe came to the tree of the Cthaeh quite accidentally during his stay with Felurian. Strangely, the Sithe were seemingly absent during this encounter. After introducing itself, the Cthaeh went on to tempt Kvothe with its knowledge of the Chandrian. It revealed that the leader of a group of bandits that Kvothe had recently routed was in fact, Cinder, one of the Chandrian who killed Kvothe's parents.
After dropping several vague hints to revive Kvothe's memory, the Cthaeh turned its voice to Denna, revealing that she suffered cruel physical treatment at the hands of her patron. During this time it is also suggested the Cthaeh has an animosity toward the Chandrian, Cinder. The stress of these revelations caused Kvothe to flee the tree, his mind shaken and damaged by the experience.
Bast later revealed, during the frame story, the true nature of the Cthaeh, causing both Kote and himself to seemingly sink deeper into depression.