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Early History & Correspondence

Author: Aeston Stromgate
Date: 1000
A Brief Introspective into the History of the Forest Runners

Written on September Second, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan;
By Squire Aeston Stromgate, of Chimeron;
Under the tutelage of Arkan Jermyníson, Elder of the Forest Runners;
For the education of all interested parties in the Realms;
As requested by the Muniko of the Kal en Dral, for trial under the aspect of To.


For those of us who are mortal, and can accurately measure time in a way that alludes to the birth of our forbears, it can be said that the saga of the Forest Runners began a hundred generations before our grandsires were begotten. An era of history so long removed from us is this, that it cannot help but be shrouded in mystery and misconception, perhaps more so in this case than any other. I am about to impart to you the history of a people who would come to call themselves the Forest Runners. As with any examination of a peopleís past, one may take away from such learning both the information that is presented, and perhaps a greater understanding of the now and even what the future may hold, should we be strong enough to shape the course of fate with our deeds. Leviathan teaches us that the path to knowledge provides us each with the opportunity to know ourselves better, and through that knowledge to grow and find happiness. That said, I pray that you find learning this information as rewarding as I have.

If one was to look at the southernmost coast of the realms, in an area nestled in-between the Southern Wastes and Gwenethlin, oneís eyes would come upon an area of land simply referred to as The Lost Kingdoms. Our story begins here. Once, in a long forgotten time, six great kingdoms stood in that land. Most of their names have been lost to history, but it is known that the greatest of the six was known as Old Sothron. Those many generations ago, a being known only as the Erl-king visited upon the land. It is not known where this creature came from, or from where he channeled his might. It is only known that somehow the men and women of these lost kingdoms were responsible for his coming. His power was great, and the mighty armies of the six kingdoms fell before him in what would be known as the Spirit War. The surviving forces, some seventy men, made haste for the northern realms, hoping to escape the ascended kingís vengeance.

It is no small surprise that men who themselves were robbed of everything they had and loved, would be more appt to take and rob from others. In truth, the Erl-king had corrupted each of their spirits, and the forty who most easily succumbed to this corruption became thieves and brigands. The others, who still possessed a soldierís honor and ideals, opposed this outrage, and the argument soon came to blows. The battle was short but brutal, and the Erl-kingís vengeance tread close behind. Rottlings, the foul apparitions that were the foot soldiers of the Erl-king, were drawn to the fighting in countless numbers. The men who were still soldiers, luck and great leadership on their side, were able to win the battle against the brigands in time to flee from the Erl-kingís forces. The land died in the path of the Rottlings as they chased after what was left of the soldiers. The once seventy men who had escaped to fight another day had become four against countless thousands. Too exhausted to flee any further, the men stood their ground, the leader of the four about to make a sacrifice to save his comrades and avenge what he has lost.

It cannot be said exactly what transpired in those dark woods, in that moment of desperation. Somehow, these men were able to fight back using the merciless power of fire. From sunrise to sunset a ferocious blaze ripped though the entire woods, devouring all life, but especially that of the Rottlings. In the aftermath, the leader of those men lie dead, and the three that remained, the sole survivors of a mighty kingdom lost to the foulest kind of corruption, made a pact. It was a vow to fight the Erl-king and protect everything in this world from his corruption. It was that evening, in the light of dusk filtered through black smoke, over the burned body of their great leader, the Forest Runners were born.

One hundred generations later, in the here and now, the Forest Runners still wage their holy war against corruption and the timeless Erl-king, still spreading his disease from within the lost kingdoms. Much has been learned about the evil king and his armies. And rather than try to recount that knowledge to you in my own words, I have included in these writings the bulk of the missives that I have undergone with the honorable Arkan Jermyníson, Elder of the Forest Runners. In reading these you will come to learn all I have about the formidable enemies of these people, and what obstacles and dangers they have overcome in performance of their duty. I entreat you to study this knowledge well.

Every day of our lives we wage war against the things that would harm what we have come to love and cherish. Every day we give of ourselves to fight back the enemies of our lords, charges, and friends. All of us, through our deeds, and our victories, and our losses, can understand with grim reality the struggle of the Forest Runners. A struggle that, I believe, we must soon join. A time will come, perhaps sooner than any of us can know, that the Forest Runners will call for our aid against their great enemy. I know that I will see you there.

A first Missive Written on August Fourteenth, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

Greetings Arkan,

There is much I wish to speak to you of. First, however, it is prudent that I introduce myself and make clear my intentions.

My name is Aeston Stromgate. Foremost among many things, I am a scholar and a seeker of knowledge. You may be familiar with my Knight, Sir Lucas of the Knight Avatars of Chimeron, to whom I have been squired for almost a year.

I am on a knowledge quest currently, given to me by the To Muniko of the Kal En Dral... basically the spirit and embodiment of knowledge. My task was to learn of your people and learn of your great enemy. I have been charged to spread this information among my peers, that we may all learn of this threat, and therefore aid you in your constant and coming battles.

I have, so far, been able to familiarize myself with the aspects of your history and your enemies that you have made public. I have read about the corruption, and the Erl-king. I have read of the Limbs and the Rottlings. But I know there is much more to know about these foes. I ask of you as detailed an explanation as you can give of these creatures, of each of the limbs, of the disease that they spread. Any knowledge you see fit to give me I will happily receive.

I know not how you have been received by the Realms so far, nor what your opinion of it and its peoples may be. I am, in essence, a foreigner to these lands, and in my time I have observed that the people here are always willing to join in a fight for the greater good. Therefore I believe that spreading this knowledge will gain you many allies, and many swords raised beside yours when the time for battle comes.

All my life I have pursued knowledge, just as diligently and ceaselessly as you have fought corruption. Let us join each others' fights. Speak to me of what I wish to know, let the Realms know of your noble sacrifices and your quest.

In knowledge we find life, hope, and purpose.

Leviathan with you,

Squire Aeston Stromgate


The Reply, Received on August Fifteenth, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

My apologies Aeston for not sending a messenger to you sooner. My journey and the battle at Kerah-Rime finds me quiet tired.

I will start with a little about corruption and nature, then perhaps I will turn to you. Any questions you have I will do my best to answer.

Nature has six aspects. Spirit, Mind, Flesh, Water, Stone and Magic. They break down in two different ways. First, and most obvious are the triads of Humanity and Earth. Humanity is comprised of Spirit, Mind and Flesh. Earth is Water, Stone and Magic (in the order of creation). Some say that the six aspects can also be broken down into pairs. Spirit and Water are the fluids of the natural world. Mind and Stone are the Rigid Aspects. Flesh and Magic are the Syntheses of nature. There has always been much debate over which of these philosophies holds true - the triads, or the pairs. However, we do know that symmetry is a very important part of the ancient belief system in Old Sothron. For example, it would seem likely that Flesh and Stone would be the rigid aspects and Mind and Magic the Syntheses. Also, it is quite plausible that the order of the Creation is misinterpreted.

Each of these aspects has been corrupted by the Erl-King. Understand, I am not saying the Erl-King has corrupted each mind or body. He has not corrupted each chunk of stone. The way it was taught to me is with this metaphor.

"It is like poisoning a river where it begins in the mountains, yet the poisoner has tainted the water before it bubbles up from the ground in a spring, indeed, before the water that will be a river is even water yet;
before the mountain is yet a mountain. Such is the evil the Erl-King has wrought upon the world."

He has tainted the very essence of each aspect of Nature.

Before I send this message I will tell you this about the limbs. For each aspect he has soiled with his touch, there is a limb. Most who know me, know I refer to them as his Warlords. Their are six limbs, just like a fly. As you may have seen in Reeve's sketches the Erl-King appears to posses the head of a fly.

Now you know a bit about what exactly the Erl-King corrupted. Next, I will probably describe to you what I know of the Limbs. Before I do, however, do you have any specific questions about the corruption? Or the limbs?

I must rest now.

Arkan


Written on August Fifteenth, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

My thanks, Arkan, for your willingness to help me with my task.

I find your people's philosophies very interesting. And your metaphor about the Erl-king's corruption I well understand. Sine you will permit me questions, I will ask for some more detail:

Is there a 'source' for this corruption besides the Erl-king himself? Will the death or banishment of the Erl-king stop this corruption, or is his existence independent of the spread of the corruption?

Are there other ways that the corruption can be stopped or slowed besides the death of the Erl-king? Is there some way the corruption can be 'cleansed' rather than simply stopped from progressing?

As to the limbs, please tell me all you can. Specifically, I have heard rumor that one of these 'generals' carries a specific disease which I wish to learn about.

My heartfelt thanks,

Aeston

The Reply, Received on August Sixteenth, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

I would say that without truly understanding the Erl-King or the extent of his powers, that he himself is the only source. There are of course the limbs. As you know they each represent an aspect of the tainted aspects of nature. They themselves, as his lessors, all have the ability to corrupt the aspect they represent. I myself have seen two of the limbs defeated, killed more specifically, just to arise again. I also know that Reeve has killed the one called Maggot. Which places Maggot on the repetive death list.

Its also quite curious to note that the Erl-King has never ventured out of the Lost Kingdoms. It is not know what he was after in conquering them, or if he has yet accomplished this goal. There is much we do not know about the Erl-King, and I apologize that I can not give you more answers.

As far as purification, we have our ways. Mainly through the use of Fire. 'Fire brings destruction, and destruction begets life'. When a corrupted creature is felled, or a comrade dies in battle, the corpse is put to the flame that way in death it cannot be corrupted and used for evil means. Forest Runners also have the ability to purify the disease you ask of from those infected through special torches.

Now, on to the disease itself. It is called 'Rotling Disease'. Spread by Rottlings, minions of the warlord Maggot.

Maggot is the most seen of the warlords. He, as I've alluded to, is the most vulnerable. He is the limb of Corrupted Flesh. His skin is covered in poxes, blisters, sores and other signs of decay. The Rottlings are his army. Feral, and stupid they are drawn to sounds of battle. They attack to the death, no to defeat, but to infect. Even when they die their disease is often passed to those around them. They look like rotted and blackened humans (humanoids) because thatís what they once were. They can be defeated by the special torches mentioned above. Torches that only Forest Runner elders and Lieutenants can make. They can
also be harmed by weapons that harm their Warlord. We also know that if a Forest Runner purifies the body of a Rottling immediately after its death, it does not transmit its disease to anyone.

I must go now, I have spent to much time in these woods. I'm afraid other ventures I am making at this time may endanger me. This messenger is trusted and will know where to find me.

Arkan


Written on August Seventeenth, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

Friend Arkan,

A couple more questions if you will...

Has any direct attack ever been attempted on the domain of the Erl king?

Have these magic torches been shown to have any special effect on the limbs? Maggot especially? What exactly is the nature of these torches that makes them so effective?

You speak of Fire as your method of purification? Is this more than physical fire? Is it a metaphor for a larger concept? How would one 'purify' the very *essence* of Spirit, or Magic... or the other four aspects? For isnít that what the Erl-king has corrupted? Am I failing to understand a basic concept here?

What hope of victory is there? Can the whole of the mighty heroes of the realms stand against the Erl King? Is it even feasible that he can be defeated by mortal hands?

Can you elaborate more on the other aspects and limbs as you have on Maggot and flesh, or is he simply the one you know the most about?

I am eager to hear your words.

With thanks,

Aeston Stromgate


The Reply, Received on August Seventeenth, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

Aeston,
No attack has ever been launched against Fell Sothron. The Erl King has taken the field himself against armies of warriors, and Forest Runners, and laid waste to them all. An attack on his stronghold would be suicide in my opinion, and as an elder I would never sanction such a thing. Now as to the torches, I have never myself attempted to purify one of these other warlords with the torch. But I would imagine that fire itself would not injure one such as Kytstim or Errod, due to their physical make-up. Unfortunately, I can't say this in a way that does not sound rude, and I mean no disrespect - but if we knew how to purify the aspects of nature then we wouldn't have to be Forest Runners.

I guess quite simply put is, fire works against purifying physical things, like dead flesh, trees. If you burn down a Forest, does new and greener plants not grow after it. The fire in the torches that gives them healing properties, we suspect is more of a spiritual thing, but the practice is generations old. It is believed that only those truly pure can make the fire, that is why it is reserved for those in the higher ranks of the Forest Runners, those that have done the most to fight corruption.

I do not know if force and sword alone can defeat the Erl-King. He seems content to stay in Old Sothron for now. But, I have seen Errod his warlord of Corruption as far north as Verai. Perhaps even now he is pulling string to corrupt your lands, your leaders, your peasants. The Spirit War, was not one solely of sword and shield. It was one of the mind, a war whose weapons were fear, and greed, and everything evil.

What hope of victory is there?
I have never told anyone my reasons for learning the ways of the healer when I arrived in your lands, but I tell you now I fear this is a battle I will never see won in my day. But I will do everything I can to fight him, to protect and guard the lives of those who would join in that fight. I am a healer because every one life I save from the Erl King is a victory. I failed once, it will not happen again.

Now, on to the limbs... the other warlords, in no particular order are...

Ang. The warlord of corrupted spirit. We know very little about her. She appears always as a beautiful woman, usually dressed in armor. It gets kind of tricky because she doesn't always appear as the same woman, but regardless she always looks beautiful. She controls creatures called Laughing Dead. Forgive me if I will not elaborate on them. They are evil, vile, and killed only by a joke. Not just any joke. There is always a certain joke, only obtainable by magical means.

Polth, is the warlord of corrupted water. Again Polth appears to be a woman. A drowned woman that walks, talks, and kills. She is blotted, and smells of death. Her hair is always wet and tangled with water plants. She is strong and immune to all weapons known to us. She can create creatures called Skalds. These are fiercely intelligent creatures, that are powerful and extremely hard to kill. They are made of water, but do not appear so. They seem to be able to mold their features with great detail to assume human appearances. They relish mutilating bodies that they mimic, and always keep a trophy from such kills. Some have so many of these trophies that they wear them like armor. In the rankings of the Erl-King's armies they seem to rank just under the warlords.

Nasnie, is the warlord of the corrupted mind. She appears to be a plain woman in tattered clothing. She mumbles, cries, and shrieks like a mad woman, and for no obvious reason. She seldom, if ever travels with corrupted creatures. Instead she wanders through the lands causing chaos wherever she passes. She is strong, and immune to all weapons, and able to cast a number of different spells. She creates the creatures known as the "Lost-ones". All she has to do is touch a living being and they become a Lost-one. Lost-ones
are berserkers. Outside of her influence they will attack randomly at anything alive. The madness in them allows them to ignore all wounds. Then after a few moments they just simply die, leaving maimed bodies fit only to be purified.

Irrad, is the warlord of corrupted Earth. He is very illusive, though recently he has been seen as far north as Afaylkral, a town close to Verai. He appears to be male, and is made of solid rock. He is very powerful and is known to throw boulders. He is immune to everything except blows to normal maces, but those only effect him temporarily. He creates creatures called Rock Wolds. They are common, not as common as Rottlings though. They are large and made of rock. They seem to be immune to weapons, except those with
enchantments on them. Weapons that strike them tend to shatter. When last I faced him he actually made a Rock Wold around me...forcing my dead body into the creature.

Kytsim - the warlord of corrupted magic. Even more seldom seen than the Erl-King himself. He always appears as a bluish transparent likeness of an old human, dressed in the attire of the arch-mages of old. He is stronger than all the other warlords, immune to all known weapons, and wield powerful magics. He does not create a specific type of corrupted creature. Instead, his immense power bleeds faint, weaker versions of himself. They are known as Phantoms, and he has complete control over these creatures. Since
they are not wholly in the world weapons don't affect them as well as other creatures. They can, however, attack physically. As well as siphon off and use some of Kytsim's magic. Phantoms are sometimes controlled by other warlords.

and those are the limbs. Any questions?

-Arkan


Written on August Twenty-second, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

Friend Arkan,

These seem like formidable enemies indeed. I cannot think of any particular questions regarding these limbs. They each seem complex, and I could doubtlessly spend many days trying to understand each one in its entirety, but I think such detailed information can be left for a later time.

I have a new question for you, I do not know how free you are to answer it, but I believe it will give great insight as to your life and cause.

I have read the material that has been offered publicly, describing the life and history of the forest runners, but there is much left unsaid. You told me of your enemies... our enemies, now. But now it is about you and your kin that I wish information. Let us start with a simple enough question.

What is the daily battle against the Erl-king and the Corruption like? Must you face such enemies and clash swords every day? Is most of your time spent waiting and watching for an opportunity to aid your cause?

In great thanks,

Squire Aeston

The Reply, Received on August Twenty-second, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

Aeston,
The battle against these forces of corruption is difficult. Everyday you wake knowing that today hundreds may die, acres will be destroyed, history and legend lost to time; and you can do nothing about it. As I have said most of the warlords are very rare. It is not everyday that I would raise swords against Maggot. There minions, however, are always there. Rotlings in the Lost Kingdoms are just as common as game in your lands. Most everyday is spent plotting, we strike where we can, when we can. Always being careful not to tilt our hand to much. The Erl King is not the only enemy in these lands. Like in your land, there are goblins, evil mages, and legends have it even some vampires. However, we must always be weary of the
people, the families, the men and women that live in the Lost Kingdoms. I have seen an entire "tribe" infected by Rotlings after one of them traveled to the Crease with news that the Forest Runners were aiding them. As you can imagine people tend to shy away from you after something like that.

We will never stop trying, however. Fighting bandits one day, Wolds the next. Spending months hiding only to be defeated in our next battle. We do what we have to to survive. We do what we can to make a difference. Its not much different than what I have been doing in your lands since I came to them. Always a battle to be joined. The differences being we never have time for feasts, or sleep. I wish I knew the words to describe it, so that you knew...so that you knew how hard it could be. I also wish I could convey to you in words, just how good it felt the first time I ever said the Oath. The first time I put on that baldrick. I imagine, it could possibly be the same fear and pride you felt when you swore to your knight.

To stay pure is difficult sometimes. To avoid so many of the temptations I have felt in your lands. Money, fame, power, and just being able to hide away. Generations have died before me, generations will die after to stop this Corruption. To carve out some purity and order in a world long forgotten. People are depending on us, even if they don't know it.

"My life is sacrifice, my sacrifice is for life."

See even if I wanted to quit its in the job description, I can't.
(forgive my levity)

Arkan


Written on August Twenty-third, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

Honorable Arkan,

I think, with your last missive, the bulk of my information gathering is at an end. This is not to say that I donít wish to learn more, but rather that I understand well enough to inform my friends and allies of the enemies you fight, and the battle that we must join. Soon I will retire to my study for a time, and try to do justice to your elegant struggle in my writings. Before I do so, however, I wish to leave you with a small piece of my own findings and understandings.

Would that I had another of myself to dedicate to your cause, I would do so. I imagine the same will be true of many of the men and women who hear what you have told me. But, as you have no doubt seen, we all have our own charges, purposes, and goals that we fight for. We can, of course, no more
abandon these than you can your duty.

The men and women of these 'Northern' Realms are a many and varied lot, but I have seen one thing to be ceaselessly true of all of them. They will always join the good fight. Some rightly call themselves heroes. Some are resigned to selflessly doing their duty to their people and their lords. Some simply
fight because that is all they know. But countless times I have seen these men and women stand together to face the dark, overcome impossible odds, and give of themselves until there is literally nothing left.

We will fight along side you. When you sound the call to arms, many brave men and women will rally to you, and will be prepared to die for your cause. You will find them to be worthy allies. You will know that their hearts are strong and their sense of purpose unyielding. And you will not be alone in your battles.

You have given me a great gift these recent days, as information is perhaps the most valuable asset in this world, and my thanks cannot simply be conveyed in words. We shall meet someday soon, whenever you are in need of my assistance. Until that time, I wish you victory and happiness.

May Leviathan protect you, in all the empty places you must walk.

In service and with thanks,
Squire Aeston Stromgate

The Reply, Received on August Twenty-sixth, in the Two-thousandth year of the Leviathan

Aeston,
It fills me with hope whenever someone asks me about the Forest Runners fight. Not because of their swords, however. But because they share the want to destroy this corruption. I hope your spirit proves pure, and when the time comes I will be happy to meet you and shake your hand. Not just as allies, but as friends.

Arkan
Tags: Personal Account
Created by Aeston Stromgate (Jason Rosa) at 12-18-06 11:05 PM
Last Modified by Faelinn Shadowmoon (Leanne Micciche) at 04-04-08 06:39 PM