Early Forest Runners Text
Author: unknownBy Steel,
Place/Gathering Discovered: unknown
Transcribed by: Aeston Stromgate
by Reason, by Magic,
by Fire, I Vow to Protect and
Sanctify the World with my Every
Breath. Let the Purity of Body, Mind
and Spirit Sustain me in my Quest.
This I Swear by what was Lost;
by what can Never be
This is my Oath.
My Life is Sacrifice,
My Sacrifice is for Life.
Ancient Creed of the
A Raed is a Council of War in which the highest ranking noble of the land calls all his loyal vassals as well as anyone else that will fight for his cause. Needless to say a Raed would lean more towards the chaos of "Twelve Angry Men" or the nobles of Scotland in "Braveheart" than toward a peaceful gathering to plot war.
"Wisdom can be gleaned from every fact and fiction, but the greatest wisdom of all is in understanding that alone."
There is little about us that cannot be gleaned from our Creed. We are warriors from many walks of life. We harbor many philosophies and races. Sorcerers and Healers, Rogues and Seers, Teachers and Soldiers we all bear one thing in common: We exist to stand against the Corruption that eats away at our world. We relinquish all forms of allegiances when we accept the responsibilities of the ForestRunners. Our faith alone is sanctioned within the Order. Many of us have shrugged off, as some say, the burden of the Gods. Indeed the Gods have not been kind to our people. Some still maintain that there is divinity in suffering. Such matters are beyond the scope of the ForesetRunners. We shun only the worship of Corrupting Gods. There was a time when we numbered as many as five hundred men and women, now we are much, much less. Here are a few of the ForestRunners that have travelled among the northern Realms by the invitations of some of the Lords of the Outpost.
Reeve - Elder
Arkan - Elder
Blayne - Initiate
The Great Enemy
The bane of our existence is also the reason for our existence. We ForestRunners are not some holy order of knights that wait in the wings until such time as our homelands are threatened. The length and breadth of our lands has been Corrupted. We throw that word around quite a bit, do we not? Nearly as much as the word evil is tossed around by others. We know evil, but where many assign a consciousness to that aspect of the world, we simply know it as the decay of the world.
The bringers of this Corruption were the magi of old who worked their magicks for the lords of the Lost Kingdoms in hopes of conquering the northern Realms. They are dead and gone but their madness lives on. Our foe is called the Erl-King. Reclusive, but by no means a phantom of our imaginations, he haunts our lands like a vile plague. Alone we are powerless against him. Indeed armies have been raised against him only to fall prey to the least of his minions. The Erl-King champions Corruption the way some might champion a God. Though it is our firm belief that he is, in his own right, a god.
The Erl-King draws his vast power from the Corrupted aspects of nature. These aspects are Flesh, Stone, Water, Mind, Magic and Spirit. In the war that spawned the ForestRunners' ideal the Erl-King succeeded in Corrupting each of the six parts of nature. This victory is what made him a god, and though we have yet to bring any considerable defeat to his door we reason that if he can ascend to godhood then he can be knocked down from it.
The Erl-King seldom does battle outright with any of the factions that oppose him. For that purpose he sends one of his Limbs. The Limbs would be better understood as his warlords, for they are generals in his army. There are six Limbs, and they each represent a different, Corrupted part of Nature. Together they can act with nearly the power of the Erl-King himself. Alone they can level forests or slag mountains, or poison the waters. They are hardly ever alone. Each of the Limbs heads a contingent of the Erl-King's army. They are not prejudiced. They take any who will fight for them, alive or dead.
The most often encountered, and perhaps the most feared extension of the Erl-King's power are his pets. We call them Rotlings. They are not terribly intelligent, though many of them were once human. They are feral, rabid creatures capable of passing on a plague like disease even as they die. The one saving grace to them is that they still fear death. They will fight with weapons mostly and seldom outright seek to die in order to
pass on the disease. Unfortunately, the Rotlings are driven to a frenzy by the sounds of combat. In this frenzy they all too often will throw themselves at their enemies, heedless of their lives.
Though we seldom see the Erl-King we know him to be, in his true form, a human-like creature with the head of a fly. It is said that he merely has to lock eyes with a whole and hearty warrior to turn him into a Rotling. Among the other rumours are that he can use magic of any sort, he can fly, is completely immune to physicalweapons, and commands the disturbing ability to travel wherever he wishes. There is one piece of knowledge
about the Erl-King that is all too true. Though he may not need to eat, his appetite, insatiable as it is, is for the children of all races.
Deep into the Winter not so very long ago there came a small army of northerners to our woods. We have often wondered why the northern Realms spent no effort in trying to seize the lands of Old Sothron for themselves. But then, we are enamored of the labor that goes into farming these lands. And Old Sothron commands no major trade routes that cannot be bettered by sea travel.
This army fought hard to get a very short way into the lands north of Tantarill and south of the Realm youknow as V'erai. Their camp has now been made modestly permanent. The ForestRunners have no quarrel with them. Foreigners, even hostile ones, pale in comparison to what we face day and night.
We kept our distance at first. But by the second day of their camping they were so beseiged by Rotlings and brigands that common folk feared the fighting might draw one of the Limbs, or worse the Erl-King himself. They beseeched us, put an end to the fighting. Our reluctance at that point was fired only by the difficulty of such a task as stopping a small war.
The Norn showed us the way. That fact, in and of itself, is enough to give nightmares, for the Norn never offer any gifts. All things given are paid for sooner or later and usually the former. The Three Sisters appeared to our two Elders and bade us ferociously attack one of the larger brigand camps just a mile to the east of the Outpost. The merit of this idea was immediately apparent to the Elders. Rotlings, are drawn to combat. The more violence the more Rotlings will come.
To make it all worthwhile an emissary was sent to the northern camp to beg them to put up their swords at precisely sundown. She was of course, laughed at. But then as even more enemies began to filter into the battle a single leader among several took her side, arguing that they would not surrender but merely cease to fight for a few risky minutes. After all they did have their make shift stockade amongst the trees.
When sundown arrived we sent a Lancing Party into the less than disciplined camp of the brigands. The chaos they brought with them allowed a contingent of thirty ForestRunners fell on them from the east, setting up such a powerful war-cry that the foreigners heard it a mile away.
The ruse worked. As the battle faltered at the Outpost the Rotlings sensed the unfortunate brigands fighting for their lives and went with all haste toward the real battle. There were too few brigands at the camp for us to take more than a few minutes. We made our retreat into the woods in smaller groups. Fearsome, the Rotlings are, smart they are not.
Our Elders met with the leaders at the Outpost that night and spent some time exchanging knowledge. For agreeing to abide by a few of our rules they have valuable knowledge about our lands, as well as our allegiance here in Old Sothron. In return for our aid in the battle we have been invited to the north tospread our cause. A mutually advantageous agreement, no?
The Lost Kingdoms
To our knowledge there is no accessible creature who can remember the name of the land we are from. We, in our lifetimes, have seldom had cause to refer to it as anything other than the world. Once we Forest Runners left the area of the Erl-King's doimination we learned that some of you, bards mostly, called it the Lost Kingdoms, which is appropriate though a little dramatic. Another name oft used in the northern Realms is Old Sothron. What it lacks in drama it makes up for in understatement. Sothron was reputedly the largest and most powerful of six kingdoms that are now lost to the Corruption. Its loss would be remembered more so than the others.
What we know of the Lost Kingdoms is sketchy. There were six of them, we believe. Each had a capital city or fortress which more or less shares the name of the old kingdoms. Remnants of five of the six capitals still exist. The sixth kingdom has utterly disappeared from memory and history. We are unsure as to where its capital once stood though we surmise that it was either northeast of Cruen't or north of Nalfaerishii.
The many who fall under our protection are not always pleased by the knowledge. We do not claim to rule over them, nor even discourage them from any paths they may choose. We are teachers; we are the sentinels against the Corruption that eats away at our world. To the best of our skills and hearts we are there for those who need us."
The Common Folk
Some of our ranks have travelled through much of the Realms and to the credit of nobility of the other realms we have not encountered such depravity as that which festers in Old Sothron. The land is harsh and the Corruption still worse on them. And yet the common person perseveres. The familes must be fed. Gold has little meaning in our homelands, and less in the minds of the commoners. They know richness only in their offspring and their daily bread. It is the goal of we ForestRunners to protect them at all costs.
Permanent structures are almost completely abolished, good fields too precious to waste on seasons of fallowness. This almost nomadic life is further forced by the near constant harassment from the agents of the Erl-King. The ForestRunners are too few in numbers to protect all the commoners from His threat. That too is our shame.
True, Druids are found no matter where you travel. Each sect worships in its own ways. But the Druids of Old Sothron, we fear, have been tainted by the Corruption. The Sacred Groves are many in our lands and the Druids walk immune to all but the Erl-King's wrath. They do not serve him, but they do not serve humanity either.
When our people lost the Gods in deference to the Erl-King's power the Druids lost many of their benefactors as well. Now there is a sharp dichotomy between the Druids. There are those that worship Life and those that worship Death. If they have Gods of Life and Death and these Gods have faces and names we of the ForestRunners do not know them. The Druids guard their knowledge fiercely. It has been our experience that the Druids are
never without a hand in any turmoil be it for good or ill. Their best weapons are their mystique and theircunning use of the common folk's superstitions.
As with any land where honest people try to survive there are others who would live off their labors. Bandits abound in Old Sothron, working as often with the Erl-King as for their own ends. It troubles us to know that many of these individuals come from the northern Realms. Men and women who are running from the law, or who see opportunity in our lack of law. Their numbers are many.
The irony is that most of these folks are hardly Corruption embodied. Many if not all could cease their theivery and thuggery in favor of a normal trade without harboring the human-bound afflictions of the Corruption. We of the ForestRunners are hard pressed to deal with the Brigands. Hunting them out of the woods and executing them is far from ideal, and worse it opens our own souls to the Corruption we defy.
The Sylvan Elves
We have met elves from every walk of life, and every clan. Elegant, intelligent, arrogant, powerful, hateful, whimsical, you name it and there is an elven embodiment. There is only one breed of elf in Old Sothron aside from the myriad wanderers that join either the Brigands or the armies of the Erl-King. Wild. That is the best term to apply to the Sylvans. They are well versed in human ways and reject them whenever possible. They war with the Erl-King incessantly, but lend no aid to we who claim to be their allies. Quite often they turn our people away when we offer help, but to their credit they persevere despite their dwindling numbers.
We respect these elves for many reasons, but none more so than that they feel the presence of the Erl-King on this world as any of us might feel a gangrenous wound over the heart. They are only a shade removed from Dryads, able to sense the very presence of the Woods and earth. They call it the Taig and hold it as their greatest asset and gift of the world to their people. Should, by any means, one of their own kind lose touch
with the Taig that person is banished. It is a sorry fact that none of these unfortunates go further than the closest blade that they might fall upon it.
"Our history is our shame. We are the children of those that brought Corruption into the world. Indeed we are the descendents of Corruption. As is human naturewe defy our forebears.
More than one hundred generations have past by our reckoning since the Erl-King came to our homelands. For all that time we have battled him on every front we are able...our numbers dwindle. We lose because the irony of the war is that in Corrupting the spirits of all life the Erl-king made it easier for us to live and let live. Those who fight him fight the good but fated fight for they are the few who are pure in Spirit. The rest need only be shown the path of least resistance."
In the aftermath of the great battle that came to be known by their descendents as the Spirit War, the surviving army of Tantarill fled into the wild woods. Hoping to escape any vengeance the newly ascended Erl-King might have in mind, they made preparations for a long fast journey to northern Realms. They numbered some seventy or more and could not quickly agree to anything, excepting only that they were allies. And in that they proved to be wrong.
It was during that brief rest that several among them took to hunting and then to raiding a nearby village. They left their friends seeking food, and returned to them as brigands, men who had turned on the vital strictures of the kingdom they had fought so hard to protect. For some this atrocity was obvious. For far too many others it was a brilliant innovation.
Before they could begin their flight to the north the seventy odd became twenty-odd fighting forty and more. It lasted only a few bloody hours buts its affects were felt throughout the land. For the Erl-King truly had taken a vengeance upon them. When he took Tantarill he began his Corruption of the Spirit. Some are quicker to succumb than others.
That Corruption led both factions to war on each other, father and son, brother and brother. And the Rotlings heard that terrible battle.
By wit and unrivalled cunning the leader of the lesser faction brought low the many who would live as brigands live, off the ill-gotten wares of those already oppressed. As they finished their unhappy work and were disgusted with their once allies and with themselves they saw, for the first time, what evil they had brought on the
forest around them.
The Rotlings had come, and in such numbers as were never before assembled. And by their multitudes and their insideous nature they had befouled the very trees around them. The few survivors watched in horror as the trees died quick but painful rotting deaths. Sent by their Corrupt master to spread his Corrupt might further still,the Rotlings charged at them. They would have been overwhelmed for a cerntainty had they not fled.
On foot and down river they fled until only a handful were left; until they were too exhausted to run any more. Always with them were the Rotlings, teasing, mocking, stealing away a comrade who lagged too far behind. As dawn first blazed out of theeast and violent and violent death snapped at their heels their leader played his final trump.
In the face of such Corruption purification comes only at the cost of Fire's ferocious appetite. By the light of sunset three men stood alone over their fallen leader, ringed
by consumed Rotlings and trees alike. The price of their lives was more than the deaths of many good men and women. It was more than the destruction of milesof forest. The price
was in the knowing that they and their bretheren had no one to blame but themselves for the coming of the Erl-King. Those three wept for their nightmare past and for their hellish future.
A pact was made that day between those three, and the the dead trees, and the fire-purged
land. They were the first of a hundred generations of protectors, guardians; warriors who stole harsh wisdom from evil's ascension and stood watch over humanity, over the essential goodness of Spirit therein.
Created by Aeston Stromgate (Jason Rosa) at 05-29-07 10:06 PM
Last Modified by Faelinn Shadowmoon (Leanne Micciche) at 04-04-08 06:40 PM
Last Modified by Faelinn Shadowmoon (Leanne Micciche) at 04-04-08 06:40 PM