Of Creatures, Wood and Vale
By Aislinn ..A'mar Tsariae .. in Dark Ages
In honor of the Azure Moon .. may our order prosper
Part I -Darkness: Influence
The darkness came. There is no use to dispute that fact, nor the fact that it had devastating effects. It is the extent of its influence across that land that in the end, truly counts.
What history and lore that has been preserved over the years describing in detail of the happenings of the coming of the darkness revolves around mundanes. It centers on the cities, the towns, and the provinces. It tells of the rise and fall of empires, and the despairs and hopes of mundanes, and later on, Aislings. There is no need to argue the fact that the whole world crumbled under the blow of the shadow. But there, forgotten, lies other races, who too trembled beneath the towers of the blackened sky.
It is vain and selfish to think that the darkness affected only the mundanes. It is laughable to think that the other creatures were not impacted, and that in our investigations of the world, we neglected to include detailed studies of the creatures that lived in the woods and mountains. As Chadul raked his fingers throughout the land, claiming the souls that he yearned, is it not plausible to think too that a wolf would have howled and died, and also lost his soul to the darkness?
Yet, despite these claims which some believe as true, and some curse as blasphemy, there are indeed very few accounts of the changes of the creatures within this world during the coming of the dubhaimid. There were reports of aggressive attacks from the records of Loures, but other than that and a few moth-eaten manuscripts, the changes of the animals and creatures coexisting with us were passed by unnoticed. However, when an event is unnoticed, it does not necessarily mean that the event never was. In this situation, that becomes a fact of existence and survival.
Part II - Transformation: Wax and wane of power
When the darkness flooded over the vales and valleys of the world, the animals, if not in a great way, at least in a small affect felt its shadow change them. Their instincts told them to flee, and so they did, but in the end, the object of the fear was everywhere. It is logical to conclude then that the animals went mad as a terrified wolf becomes enraged and insane when cornered and trapped with no possibility of escape. There was only fear, and degrees of fear, varying from the presence of the dubhaimid to a trace of its passing. Some of the woodland creatures turned against each other, desperate for a shred of sensibility that their instincts would not give them, and some fled as far as they can, blind in the suffocating darkness.
The exact causes of the changes of the animals were not clear, but they changed from natural predators and gentle prey to snarling beasts, trembling at every flickering shadow. The darkness rose in such a degree that those close to the surface were tainted beyond imagination, and those that lived below the earth, or deep within mazes of forgotten halls and rooms were only spared from the worst of the taint by a very small degree. They slashed and clawed and screamed along with the mundanes, although their cries were at best, only momentarily noticed.
Soon enough, the darkness began to manifest itself in physical forms, breeding as though it were a disease, which preyed on the creatures of the world. The animals, thought to have no human thoughts, felt within them the same element, which their instincts had sought to flee from. They tried to destroy themselves, to rid themselves of the fear and darkness they smelled within their own bodies. Pain was merely a dull drumming, but weariness eventually dragged them to a halt.
Out of a portion of the mad animal population, there were those that strangely accepted and adapted to the taint coursing through their blood. Nevertheless, they were beyond all the boundaries of their normal race, and as they were as rabid as the rest, destroyed all that remained which did not destroy themselves.
Although the reason for their abilities to reason and form strategies, as well as those to command the elements are mostly accounted for a deranged state of mind in which they found while held in the increasing stages of madness, it is sensible to conclude and affirm in the few writings that creatures stumbling out of the dead woodlands and land, had drank the potions and ate the spoiled food out of an insatiable thirst and hunger. Those that had the fortune, or as some might say, misfortune to consume enough, or to happen across one particular kind of food, mutated and grew. Others died, but those that survived gained perverse skills and strength not seen yet in their respective species.
Evolution thus took its hold. Those that did not possess the new powers and strengths died at the claws of those that did. They bred, and spread as the darkness did, eventually filling the woodlands, valleys, and abandoned structures left by mundanes. Strangely, they stayed away from the mundanes, perhaps out of fear of the dubhaimid that ran rampant through the streets of the empires, or in terror of the origin of the sources from where the darkness first came.
Eventually as light was discovered, the darkness was pushed back. With its defeat, the darkness over the creatures lessened and dimmed. However, that only seemed to happen in places and situations in which the habitats of the animals are close to civilization. There is no reason to conclude that while darkness can change the creatures for the worse, that light can not also do the same for the better. Indeed, those closer to the element of light which is gathered within the cities and towns grew fainter in their corrupt power. Those that survived the change in the environment near the cities lost their control of the elements, and those that were changed the least by the darkness regained their innocence and seem to bear no inclination for attack.
The creatures deeper within the woods and ruins, although their power also waned and faded, only grew weaker by lesser degrees the deeper they are. Soon, the creatures that were considered the weakest in the worst of the darkness, now are the greatest of the shadows, hiding within the deepest recesses of this world.
Part III - Darkness: Unlikely and perhaps likely fears
Perhaps the eager adventurers would notice that as they venture deeper into the woods and forests, the mantises that seemed to loom before them moons ago would seem to diminish in the light of the creatures known as kobolds, goblins, shriekers, and even the gruesomefly within the ruins of Piet. In all rights, they should not be called "animals" rather creatures or abominations from the ages of darkness. Perhaps they were created from the animals as the taint moved and distorted their shapes, or it might be that they were caught in the magical doings of the dubhaimid, and most likely, those of the mad wizards and priests. However, it is unlikely to note that they would have created themselves, or that the dubhaimid had created them out of fancy to place them deep within the world, although that is a guess no one has yet been able to confirm.
There has also been more disturbing interpretations arising from exploration of the deeper woods. Houses were found among abandoned villages where goblins and kobolds now roam and rule. Some with a darker view has implied that perhaps priests had used mundanes as catalysts for the dark forces they conjured, or that they themselves had used their own bodies for their experiments. In this view, it is not the animals, which are the origin of the goblins, kobolds and hobgoblins, but that men and women, whether mad or innocent, were their tormented descendants. This version has been rejected out of fear that the goblins once had logical thoughts and powers equal to that of the people today, and the unlikely fear that if that version is indeed true, then it is equally likely that perhaps they will, or as even darker views go, they still do.
Part IV - Oddities: Crypt and caves
Although the woods have the most widespread range in this world, the crypts of Mileth and the cave of the beach reachable by the southern port of Abel are places notable in the investigation of the creatures of Temuair. In these places, we find that sometimes even inanimate objects can hold life. Down beneath the dank levels of the crypt, we find within that maze a foe, which strangely resembles a chest with the legs of a furred creature peeking out from underneath. It is hard to say whether the chest is merely a cover for the creature, or simply a part of it, as no one has yet tried to uncover it during battles. Still, it is fascinating to note that even though there is no indication that it has any eyes all, it appears to hear, see, feel, and maybe even smell as normally as a creature can.
Within the sandy walls of the cave upon the beach, there appears to be creatures not unlike balls of fur bouncing about. However, they punch and hit much harder than fur ever can. Again, like the chests, they are alerted to your presence in an uncanny way, bouncing ever closer to unfortunately to send you to your doom. As they seem "cute" to some, it is highly unlikely that the dubhaimid created them ( some has suggested that the dubhaimid has a twisted sense of humor? ), and it leaves the option that it either was an aftershock or effect of the darkness, or that it was a dark priest's spell which backfired or succeeded beyond his or her wildest expectations, depending on who you ask.
Perhaps in years to come, when our warriors and Aislings explore further, we might have more insight into these strange creatures. One thing is sure however, and that is that they are alive, and us ignorant and unknowing of exactly why.
Part V - Beyond: Dreams of creatures
Although dwarves, faeries, and even the sylvan horses are only whispered legends that any would yet have to see, it has been said that indeed if they are aggressive, it would most likely be that we have evaded into their world without permission nor favor. It is hard to believe that they possess the same darkness which covered the animals and creatures and inspired such revulsion and disgust as the gruesomefly upon Aislings. They would be considered above such judgements, but only perhaps until one of our race truly encounters one again.
The other creatures, which lay rumored, are those that are reputed to lie at the very bottom of the ruins such as the crypt, and that which rests in the deepest vale of the forests, caves and mountains. It is suspected that they were lesser entities of darkness, and even though I have hesitated to use the word "evil", they were undoubtedly so. Perhaps they were of such revulsion, or maybe because the dubhaimid, when they came, looked down upon them with such disdain that they banished them into the darkest valleys and deepest halls. This, however, would fully bring to mind the enormous power of the dubhaimid for them to look down upon such power, and this is indeed not a thing that one would gladly contemplate upon.
And with this closing thought, I lay down this manuscript. Perhaps as time passes, these thoughts might disperse and with them replace ones of better comfort. And as in each deeper vale and grove of the woods, those creatures that held the most power become placid and weak, and are replaced with those whose strength towers above the rest, it is inevitable that we would grow as the foes we face pass and increase in power. Perhaps the weaker creatures in those vales recognize in some dim way the superior creatures, and leave to them to attack and to roar as they have done in the lighter vales. And that one day the greatest of the creatures would finally realize in vain that we indeed, in time, have become greater than they have.