Group: Crows of Albion
Died in a lethal game run by unseelie fae at the Great Erdrejan Fayre
My dearest Orthorien. Although some do not believe that family can be forged from ritual circles, I am not one of them. It is with a heavy heart I mourn your departure from this plane, crying as when I lost my own family.
Your thirst for knowledge, your companionship, your enthusiasm and your curiousity will not be forgotten. You are in my prayers.
A biography by his own account:
I was born a traveller, right in the middle of a crisis. My mother, Jalani, always said that she never noted which town we were most near, but we ended up in Selby for my first few days. The crisis was an attack by a bunch of demons of some sort, and my mother went into labour just as the camp had been struck to get out of the area quickly; so literally I was born on the road, in the back of a hastily cleared wagon.
My mother and father, Toran, were both Rangers from the Greenwood, attached to the Albion Military. When I was born they served Lord General Hunter, leader of the Hunters and the head of one of the Great 3 families in Albion. As with many Albion Elves, my parents were from one of the small villages scattered throughout the length of the Greenwood. It was not uncommon for a pair or a small group of Elves to join the Albion military for a time, both to simply travel and to serve. It was not completely unusual for children to be born on campaign; it was rather more unusual for them to be born in the middle of a fight. I often have wondered whether this is what gave me a different outlook on some things.
My mother returned to the Greenwood and once I was weaned, she was off again to her duties as a ranger, leaving both me and my older sister (who had been born in more usual circumstances) to be reared by extended family. Again not unusual, because elves tend to be long lived, they have a different attitude to children, in that they are often raised by the community. Love and featly are owned to the extended family, less focussed on parents specifically.
As I grew older I became fascinated by stories of the world outside the Greenwood. When any of the Rangers returned, I would press them for news and stories. I was particularly interested in news of the court, of the Nobles who served (or were supposed to serve) the people of Albion, which was unusual for one of my people.
I was particularly eager for visits from Elemmhir Lanatrae, some sort of distant relation, but importantly scribe to Elspeth Karlennon, who became Speaker for the Harts of Albion, and eventually the Queen. The stories that Elemmhir told were particularly fascinating, and she always made sure I received a copy of her writings and researches.
Along with the other children in the village, I was trained in some fighting arts and some magic. As with virtually all Albion children of any talent, I was able to channel the plane of life as a healer, but as I matured this became harder and I turned to the elements, to spellcasting.
I definitely had a wanderlust, as soon as I was old enough I would tag myself on to any who were travelling, initially within the Greenwood, and then once I was recognised as a youth, not a child I was allowed to travel further afield. Having the desire to travel was not so unusual, but being so insistent to go beyond the Greenwood was rare for one of my age. It was not as though I was unhappy, just not settled, I had a feeling of wanting more somehow, feeling that I had not found my place in the Land.
So aged at about 15 elf years, I began to move throughout Albion, often with some Rangers, or traders or in truth anyone who would take me. And I have seen some of the changes in Albion over that time.
I was a witness to some of the battles, as sometimes a water carrier, maybe a messenger or just part of the ‘baggage’ for which ever force I had tacked myself onto; I just helped in any way I could. I regularly returned to my people, normally the large fights happened in the summer, and so autumn through to late spring would generally find me in the Greenwood. Some of my friends and family would laugh at me for wanting to go off. One of the elders told me that I was unnatural; it was like someone craving strawberries in the depth of winter. Elves should not wish to spend so much time outside of the Greenwood. When I was young this did not bother me, but in the last few years it has become to irk, why did I need to wander, to try to find something more or different, and why could I not be satisfied with being the same as the rest of my people?
I started asking this question, and at midwinter celebration, 4 years ago, I had the opportunity to voice my worries to both of my parents. They appeared a bit uncomfortable when I had finished explaining my feelings, and a look passed between them. They really worried me when they said they needed to speak to the elders before talking more, and that they should wait until daylight…
So the next morning I was taken to the elders’ hut, by my mother. My father was already there, with some of the elders and once everyone was seated my understanding of my history was dismantled. I was born in the back of a wagon in the middle of a fight. But not to the person I knew of as my mother, the elf who gave birth to me had been found by the forward scouts as my parents’ (as I still thought of them) force had just quickly broken camp due to an impending attack. She was on the side of the path, heavily pregnant and quite ill, she gave her name as Lelderien and was from the Greenwood. She said that the father was not from the Greenwood, and before she could say more, she went into labour. Giving birth to me a short time later, she named me Orthorion, nursed me and slept.
The group gave her a little space, she would talk when she was ready. Weak after the birth, she spent her time nursing me or sleeping. After 2 days the party reached Selby, setting up camp, on the outskirts of the town and Lelderien was given a tent and everyone got on with their jobs. An hour or so later the camp was disturbed by the persistent crying of a baby, so Jelani looked in, to find me alone. Lelderien was nowhere to be seen. I was well wrapped and had been well fed before she left. Laid across my blanket was an amulet. And that was it, she was gone. My mother had only rejoined the Rangers a week or so ago, after leaving my baby sister in the village, and she was still able to feed me.
Toran and some others tried to find Lelderien but there were a lot of Demon Spawn about, and they had to be cautious and her tracks quickly disappeared. The Rangers waited a few days in the area, and then Toran and Jelani waited a bit longer without the rest. But after a fortnight it was clear she was not returning. So Toran and Jelani travelled back to the Greenwood, with a 2nd unexpected child. The elders decided it best not to tell me anything until I was ready to ask. I was much loved by Toran and Jelani, and in many ways she was truly my mother, never even considering not doing what she had done to look after me in those first few days.
Having told me the tale, Toran presented me with the amulet that had been left on my blanket. It did not appear special in any way. Quietly Jelani, Toran and the elders left me to my thoughts in the hut.
I probably should have been upset, or angry or at least a bit perplexed, but as it was I was sort of relieved that I had a reason to be different. It seemed probable that my father was not from the Greenwood, and so I had inherited something different from him. I was brimming with questions, who was he? Who was she really? Why was she in that place on the road? Why had she left, were either of them alive? Was I even fully Elven?
It only took me the rest of the day to decide to seek answers. I had the sense to realise that I was really too young to travel alone, I decided that come spring I would seek the first trading caravan; not of my people and see where that would lead me.
So it was that I started to truly travel Albion. Firstly I found, not a trader but a trapper. He was happy for me to travel with him; I had some woodcraft, and my magic and other skills made me useful. I stayed with him all through the spring and summer; quietly asking wherever I went, for news of an elf called Lelderien, but found nothing. Come the onset of autumn, the trapper was set to spend the winter in his home town of Lincoln, he invited me to stay with him and I wintered with his wife and children, quite comfortably. It was strange adopting some human customs but I was still fascinated by tales of Albion and the winter was full of tales and legends of times gone by.
Come the spring I decided that I would not find what I needed staying with the trapper, so his wife spoke to some friends, who spoke to some others and I was put in touch with an itinerant scribe, Kevin. He was a great raconteur and we two got on fine. I wondered how he survived travelling alone because he never seemed to have a clue about making a safe camp, or trapping or any lore of the wilds. He did know about potions, and that was very interesting, I taught him how to tell if it was going to rain, and which way to pitch his tent against the rain.
He spent his time going between small villages and holdings. He would draw up agreements between neighbours, write wills and dowry agreements. He was careful to listen to news of trouble, and ensure he went the other way, again wherever I went I asked for an elf called Lelderien, but nobody knew the name. What I did find, was that I almost did not mind. It was the travelling and helping Kevin that was more important. Yes, I was curious but that really was secondary to the rest.
Last autumn I decided to return to the Greenwood to join my parents and family for the winter. I parted with Kevin in Londinium, where he intended to spend the winter, and I headed for the western gate, thinking to join up with a group going vaguely in the right direction. I was a bit taken aback when someone hails you;
‘yo! Young elf! Are you looking for the refugees?’
I look around and it is clear that I am the only one who fits the description. Identifying the source of the information as a militia sergeant, I am about to speak when he comes closer and speaks again, softly this time;
‘sorry I did not mean to startle you, but I thought you may be with those who have left the Greenwood, they’re about a mile out of town at the moment, the Baroness is trying to find them all billets before the winter really sets in’.
I manage to smile and thank him and of course head in that direction. I don’t find people I know well there, but a few familiar faces make me realise these are Greenwood elves. They tell me that for the last few months the forest itself has been turning on them, and others who live there. There has been no explanation. Some are still able to live on the edges of the wood and they have heard that there may be a few areas that are still safe. None of them knew where any of my own extended family were likely to be, but it is suggested I head to one of the areas near to the Greenwood and ask there. The circles of Chester, Huntingdon or Ellenbrook were the ones to aim for. One of the elves, Garad, offered to transport me since he was running messages for the Baroness later that evening.
I meet him somewhat after dark, and he has a bunch of messages and another 3 people with him, he has several sets of dispatches to deliver and has to go to several circles before the Greenwood. I’ve travelled via transport circle a few times, but that night we seemed to go between half the circles in Albion with Garad delivering and collecting messages at each.
Finally his last stop before returning to Londinium we head for Ellenbrooke. This is the closest circle to my Greenwood village, and his best chance of picking up other news, and if necessary any other people who are leaving the Greenwood. Unfortunately we bounce.
I feel the magic pull me towards another circle, Garad looks scared at this point, because the nearest circle to there is Forest Glen, far too deep in the Greenwood for safety. As we arrive in the circle we immediately sense something is wrong. The forest is angry, it is seething, fierce and resentful. The circle is totally deserted, very unusual for Albion circles and just as we take all of this in there is a ferocious cry, creatures try to swarm over us.
The others were fully ready, I was not far behind, but a bit of my mind registered my gratitude that they were able to fight off the first wave. Staying within the circle, Garad prepared to move on, it takes a full minute to transport, and that was probably the longest minute I had experienced. All sorts of feral creatures were trying to mindlessly claw at me and the guards, I was able to throw a few spells, striking them down, which gave the guards some respite. In the background I was aware of Garad getting close to the end of the transport rite;
‘… and transport all within this circle to Edwin… ‘ was what I heard before the worst pain I have experienced exploded in my head and caused the world to turn black…
..I woke… the pain was gone. I became aware of my surroundings, clearly not in the forest, several of the feral creatures are lying around me, one of the guards is still on the ground and a lady with red hair is tending to him.
The woman finishes tending the guard and behind her come a couple of people in black tabards, both with curling white dragons on them.
I was almost struck by a thunder bolt, I have seen this Dragon almost every night of my life, in my dreams, watching over me. It is so familiar and so personal that I don’t understand how it can be anywhere else, it is my dragon, the healer actually puts a hand under my elbow, worried that she has missed something as my head reels and my knees wobble.
With words of thanks the whole group are ushered along, to some buildings a few 100 yds away. ‘It’s far too late for you to be going on tonight’ says the woman with red hair. ‘you’d best stay until daylight. Welcome to the Curling Dragon, I am Scarlet’.
In the morning I find out that the circle at Edwinstowe had been sealed and I ended up in Castleford. Everyone in my group was fine, and what had hit us was a magebolt. This was not something that ordinary spell casters could perform and Garad says he must get this report to someone in authority, because that is not what was expected of a feral creature. He and the guards head off after breakfast, but I am reluctant. Looking at me very directly, almost knowingly, the landlady (as the red haired woman turns out to be) says that I am welcome to stay on.
At Garad’s request I spent the day writing a report describing what was so unnatural about the Greenwood, which he will collect in the evening. Scarlet tells you that she often takes travellers in for a while, if I can afford a few coin great, if not she’ll soon put me to work.
Part of me is burning to ask about the white dragon, but it feels too personal, it is (or was I mentally correct myself) a personal image, my protector, and something I have never shared with anyone, so how could people be wearing it on their tabards… ? I try to be casual and ask Scarlet about the symbol but something in her green eyes tells me she knows why I’m asking.
Scarlet tells me she is travelling to the Gathering and that there is someone there that she would like me to meet. We travel together and she introduces me to a woman named Rowena. Over the course of the next few days Rowena helps me to understand some of my dreams but for every question answered another 3 materialise. She is busy with her duties a lot of the time but she tells me that we will talk the following day and suggests that I spend some of my time in the guilds honing my skills. I am there when I learn of a battle, I rush to help defend our encampment but to my horror Rowena was killed in an attack before I arrived.
I was devastated by this turn of events and decided to put some space between myself and the Hwyt Draga. I had formed an alliance with some young warriors during the battle and decided to travel with them. They tell me they are Crows but call themselves Lutonians and sing a war song which makes me feel strangely comfortable with them.