Treatise to the Gathered (book)

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Treatise to the Gathered

An Address to the Great Gathering

by Peregrine Oisin Enoc

Greetings to you this day, Rangers and friends, I am pleased to introduce myself to you. I am Peregrine Oisin Enoc, originally of the Adamantian midlands and recently of the southland Domain of Ilithi. In my youth I was a student of the University, but I have come recently to join a group of experienced scouts to study the lands reclaimed after the defeat of the Dragon Priests. To the Rangers here Gathered, I present the fruit of our work: a treatise on the development of a grave threat to our south we have come to call the Dark Hand.

It is believed by some, and some of you no doubt, that this is not a concern that needs be shared by those beyond this Domain. It is my solemn hope that my words should change your thinking on this.

The first argument is quite simply that the rulers of this land have proven either unable or unwilling to deal conclusively with this matter. The second argument, derived of the first, is that if there is no defense of the southern lands the threat will move northward - and do not think for a heartbeat that the great chasm or a few rivers should give it any more pause than it did the armies of its creators.

But I shall start at the beginning, as all things should.

In the time before memory, a great river of tears is said to have run through the Stormfells, carving a deep canyon through the mountains and emptying itself into the lake on which sits the site of Shard.

Only the Elves recall the wet wood that grew in the moist and fertile wake of the rivers' passing. They tell of massive trees, close-growing and thick- trunked; carpets of moss in varieties unseen since; great masses of berry bushes and a wealth of animal life. Some of you, perhaps, will find this in your memory and tell of it to others around your cook- fires this night.

Just how the wet wood caught ablaze is still an issue of much contention between the Elves and Dwarves of this land. It is not my intention to open the debate anew, only to explain that the wet wood burned, scorching the basin to its bedrock and displacing its inhabitants to the forests north and west. Only ash and dust remained to greet the Dwarves who arrived as the stone cooled.

Until recently, natives of these lands knew this canyon as Silver Bowl for the ore seams and gem mines that the Dwarves found had been uncovered by the fire. Thick veins of metal and precious gems were bled from the land to build great cities and the fortunes of their rulers. As the spires of the crystal city rose, the mines emptied and the last breath of Life escaped the great mountain hollow.

You see how the land was stripped of her defenses and left to be filled with whatever came? The minions of Dzree came and made this place a well of shadow known as Blackthorn Canyon in which lives the Dark Hand. Here ends the basin's natural history and begins its most unnatural history.

During their reign of terror, the Dragon Priests' tinkered with certain "dark" elements of Life magic in seeking to create an army of living weapons to complete their conquest. These meddlings adulterated the land and created foul, distorted creatures to walk upon it.

Their first attempt involved the transmutation of a particular insect breed into an army capable of eating whatever lay in its path, be it wood, stone or steel. Once hatched, however, the army was uncontrollable and swarmed through the Whistling Wood. Though Priests set fire to most of their nests, our scouts have reason to believe some of these creatures remain.

Dzree then turned her eye to the fae, using her power to summon a form of frost fae to our Plane from another. Again, their creation proved beyond the Priests' control and they were imprisoned in the ice caves.

Following this dangerous precedent, the Dragon Priests endeavored upon their third attempt to create an army. Corrupting a local type of lizard, the Dragon Priests created an intelligent and powerful creature called the Adan'f. Many of you have never seen one, and may never, but each of you should know these might have been your captors were it not for the sudden death of their Priestess and the army of Eloths under Ferdahl Alec's command.

The Adan'f are with us still, though without their masters to organize their ranks they exist only in scattered bands throughout the Adamantian southlands fouled by the Dragon Priests.

Each of the Dragon Priests' forays with these "dark" elements caused greater shifts in the Balance, and none was more severe than the shifts still caused by the Dark Hand.

In her last days, Dzree created the 'Hand as a breeding ground for the Adan'f in the barren Silver Bowl. With the land so stripped, there was nothing left in the canyon to balance the "dark" elements Dzree employed. Her magics filled the mines and camps with thick tangles of bizarre flora and teams of deformed creatures that threatened even their makers.

As the Dragon Priest armies marched north, those remaining in the canyon were overcome and enslaved by the growing power of the wood. We believe it no coincidence that as the Dark Hand strengthened and matured, the Priestess' empire slid into chaos and crumbled before our armies.

Because we know disturbances in the Balance ripple outward like a stone cast into calm water, Dzree's legacy remains a threat to all of our lands. This day, the canyon writhes with unnatural flora and echoes with the cries of creatures born of the Hand as tortured corruptions of their natural forms.

A forest alive, the Dark Hand consumes light and warmth to feed its growth as it stalks our realms with a terrible certainty. There is a sentience to the wood that we are just now beginning to understand and each revelation seems more terrible. The defenses built by the Eloth Corik stand yet at the canyon's mouth, but stone will not alone keep back the wood's advance.

It is therefore my ardent plea to the Gathered that we resolve among our realms and races to cease all tampering with the magics of Life and stand united as Rangers against the results of such foolishness in the past.

With the sun's rise we will depart this Gathering for the slopes of the Stormfells to examine the Hand's growth from above. If you wish to confirm my reports with your own senses, then join us and proof will be yours.

I offer now my most gracious thanks to the Gathered for hearing our treatise this day.