A Tale of Companionship

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A Tale of Companionship is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

A Tale of Companionship

Chapter One: The Muntjac and the Dwarf

Some 500 years ago, the first dwarf laid eyes upon the muntjac and fell in love with it. Was it something in the noble brow ridge that arched elegantly upward into spikes? Or perhaps it was the toothy grin of its long fangs? No matter what it was, the two species were befriended and a connection was made.

Beyond aesthetics, the muntjac was sure-footed and quiet. This proved to be an excellent trait when moving supplies over mountains. While other races were working on things like speed and grace, the dwarves started working on ways to breed the animals to be sturdier, broader, stronger, and eventually able to carry a dwarven body’s stout frame.

The muntjac of modern Elanthian is vastly different from their earlier ancestors.

Chapter Two: The Gazelle and the Sylvan Child

Gazelles and sylvan have been synonymous for eons, the pair complementing each other’s nature so adroitly that it is hard to imagine the sylvan nomads not being accompanied by their gazelle friends. There are rumors as to how the pair came to be, each one as varied as the other, but the one myth that sticks out the most involves that of a wandering child.

At some point in sylvan history, before the Silver Veil, a child wandered out of her hyrrad in the early hours of the morning before the rising of her family. It is said that she was called by some birdsong that was new to her, while others say that it was the scent of a sweet flower. Whatever the case may be, the child wandered from the security of the forest towards an open glade.

It was a hot year and so the fair-skinned child would run between the shadowy shelter of acacia and bushwillows. She was resourceful in her ventures, her lessons with her patron consisting of that of the land and survival. She knew where to move so that she could always be near water, and how to draw food from the land. She traveled slowly, but very far and eventually found herself in a savannah. She climbed into a tree to rest, the heat of the day making her sleepy.

That was when she saw her first gazelle. Hopping through the tall grasses, the animals were graceful and majestic. She leaned forward, her belly resting upon the limb of the tree, and watched as they elegantly bounced around. Eating off of the land, taking water from hidden resources, she watched the herd for several days.

Long about the fifth day, she was chewing on a bit of acacia bark when she saw the signs of something moving through the tall grasses. It was a lioness. Filled with distress, the sylvan slipped from the tree and began to move towards the herd opposite the lioness. Both predator and child reached the herd at the same time.

Interposing her small body between that of the lioness and the youngest of the gazelles, she stood before the feline as it made to attack. Armed with only her belt dagger, she was no match for the feline, but her distraction had saved the young gazelle's life, and she was ready to let the lioness have her.

Exhaling, she gazed at the lioness and waited for her to pounce, but to her surprise, one of the larger gazelles returned and offered her a way out. Lowering his shoulder to her, she didn’t think twice about it and jumped on his back. He leapt through the air, and her heart soared. She laughed with glee as they easily evaded the feline, who eventually gave up its chase. Yet something in her laughter and glee caused the gazelle to continue to carry her, and the pair raced across the savannah. Eventually, they joined the herd, who surrounded her, each touching her with their noses that they might know her.

Despite knowing that they could not possibly understand her, the child told them who she was and where she had come from. She thanked them for saving her and was so very pleased when the tiny gazelle she had stood before came to her side and rubbed against her in thanks. A bond with the animals was formed, but as the day faded and she watched the family units reunite, she realized that her time here had to come to an end as well.

Thanking the gazelles and wishing them luck, she began to make her way back to the shelter of the trees that dotted the savanna and eventually to the forests where her family was camped.

The gazelles followed.

The one she had ridden on kept close to her side, offering his shoulder to her as she moved, and leaping higher the more she laughed and giggled.

When she returned home, her family was overjoyed at her return and mesmerized by the herd that had followed her. The graceful animals moved through the encampment, respectfully, and quietly, each watching their reception with keen interest that hinted at a vast intelligence.

And so, the herd decided to stay.

Every morning, the same gazelle would meet her at her tent and offer his shoulder. The pair became inseparable.

As she grew in height and strength, the gazelle seemed to grow to accommodate her. If one day her legs seemed to almost touch the ground, then the next his back was broader and his legs taller. Each time she changed in stature, so too did he. It was almost as if he grew to a size that always let them enjoy that first ride through the savanna. Indeed, many of the gazelles found companions of their own within the sylvan encampment. These pairings were so powerful and strong, that eventually, those animals altered their forms to match those of their two-legged companions.

One day, many years later, she turned to her gazelle friend and said, “I’m so happy that you decided to stay with us.”

“As am I,” she heard in her mind in reply. Or so the legend goes.

Chapter Three: How the Moose Saved the Wsalamir

When man came to the north, bringing fire, noise, and strife, there was a gathering of the animals. As was tradition, each of the animal clans brought with it three of its members. The smaller beasts were represented by the swift and cunning fox at such times as the small animals who were too timid and afraid to mix with the larger, more frightening of the beasts. This was always questioned by the others, for who can truly trust a fox?

The caribou, the bear, the lynx, the owl, the wolf, the wendigo, and the moose made up the rest of the council.

"Let them come," said the owl. "None can find me and many of the birds under my watch will not be harmed in their passage."

"You only say this because you can fly away, but those of us on the ground risk our lives." retorted the lynx in a hiss.

"We must befriend them," said the wolf. "We can teach them the way of the world and then we can live as one. They are but pups and do not understand the ways."

"You would betray us and this council?" challenged the bear. This was just another chance to fuel an old argument between their clans.

"Hush," ordered the caribou before the old arguments could be rekindled. "There may be wisdom in the wolf's words. Making friends will keep us safe."

"The world of men," spat the wendigo. "Is a world without compassion or understanding. They will subjugate the forest creatures, hunt those that don't submit, and then run experiments on the rest. They will steal your hides to wear on their bodies, break your bones to make their soups, and burn your homes to warm their young. Do not trust the world of man."

Murmurs settled upon the group.

Slow and ponderous, the moose spoke, and as was the way, the others listened.

"We are at a change. Each clan must decide for itself what is best for its clan. This may be the last time we hold this council. Whatever decision you make, remember that you are born of the wild and it will always be part of you." With these words of encouragement, the moose turned and left. One by one, the other clans left.

Over the course of a year, the northern wilds changed. The world soon blossomed with man-made settlements, but they did not encroach as fast as some had feared. As was predicted, the wolf came to be by the side of man and taught it the back trails, the way of the hunt, and to be alert. Several of those in Owl's clan joined with man and taught it to view the wilds from afar, how to plan homes in the cold, and the freedom of solitude. Those of Caribou's clan taught man how to forage in the dead of winter, what foliage could be safely preened back to not harm the wild, and how there was safety in numbers.

At every turn when someone from the Lynx or Bear clan met man on the trail, it attacked without provocation, and soon man began to fear them. On both sides, man and animal, it became a thing of pride to bring down the opponent, and whether from den or campfire the tales were shared.

Of the smaller clans, the Fox guided those with too few numbers to withstand a hunt to safety, and those with numbers that they couldn't sustain for the long winter were sacrificed to hold the peace.

Of the Moose and Wendigo, nothing could be seen and no one heard even a whisper of them. As far as the world of man was concerned, they did not exist.

This sort of peace between the wilds and that of man lasted for several generations. Each playing their part, each knowing their place. The predicted doom and gloom was largely staved off and both groups, for the most part, flourished.

Until the winter of the Snow Crone.

No one knows what brought the Snow Crone and her gaggle of cackling sisters to the north. No one knows what they were or how they came to be, but everyone knew that for ten winters the north was locked in the worst storms it had ever known. Like wraiths, they haunted the tundra, stealing everything and freezing what they did not take. They were formidable opponents, and soon they started taking out the small villages of man.




For the first time in several generations, the council was called. But only one member of each clan came, as the ties that used to bind them had spread thin and distrust was heavy.

Wolf and Owl asked the others to band with them, for the safety of all was at risk if the Snow Crone and her growing gaggle of sisters were left unchecked.

Bear and Lynx argued that it was only man and its strange villages that were in danger of being swallowed and what did they care if that happened? It would give them back the wild.

The small clans watched on, in either aspect, they would always be prey and their fate was unchanged. Unnoticed, they left the council.

Wolf, Owl, Lynx, and Bear started to argue, as was their way. Each snarling and snapping at the other.

Slow and ponderous, the moose spoke and silence fell.

"There can be no agreement here. Each of you has gained something from your connection to man. Either a challenge to prove your prowess or a new home to call your own. With such a divide you will never be in agreement. We in the far reaches of the north will watch and should the balance that has been maintained be disrupted, then we will step in."

Nodding in agreement, the wendigo turned with the moose and the pair parted. The council was ended.

The Snow Crones had decided to try for the far north. They had ravaged the homes of both Wsalmir Clan, Wendigo Clan, and Moose Clan. All of them had fought bravely to stave them off, but many were injured. A party of wendigo tracked them to a village, the village that a great hunter Templeton was on his way to visit. When the wendigo arrived, the village had been frozen. Every soul turned to ice, even those of the Caribou, Wolf, and Owl Clan.

It was decided, though no words were spoken, that this is where the Snow Crones would be routed.

The battle lasted for days, each side sustaining heavy losses. Those that were frozen by the Snow Crones, both during the battle and before it was met, were shattered or destroyed by the sheer volume of power spent within the streets. As the number of fighters on both sides began to dwindle, the Wendigo and Moose Clans realized that the Wsalamir would die out if they continued to battle as they did. For it is well known that the Wsalamir fight as if it is all they are. Fearful of the extinction of their children, kin, and friends in the giantman's clan, the two clans came to a decision.

The Wendigo would stay behind and the Moose Clan would carry away the Walsamir Clan, for the Wendigo were better fighters, but who could oppose the will of a Moose?

It was not an easy decision for either pair, for both had roamed the north unchallenged for so long that they could not imagine a time without the other.

When night fell and all clans, including the enemy, fell into exhaustion, the Moose Clan placed bundles of herbs in the campfires of the Wsalamir Clans resting area. These herbs forced a deeper sleep upon the smaller kindred of the Wendigo Clan, which enabled the Moose to use their shovel-like antlers to scoop them up and carry them away.

"Watch for them," the Wendigo implored them.

"We will watch them as we do our own young." replied the Moose.

It was two days before the Wsalamir woke from their enforced sleep. The rage that they felt caused them to turn on the Moose Clan, but silent and unyielding, the clan stood as a wall and would not let them pass. For once a moose decides something, it can not be talked out of it.

For two more days, the Moose Clan stood guard over their angered kindred. It was around the eleventh hour of that second day that they all felt the air change. The deeper, more destructive chill that was filled with magic was gone.

"Come, we must unite and tend the injured," said Moose.

Knowing that the Moose Clan was far quicker on any terrain than a two-footed giantman was, the Wsalamir agreed. They climbed up onto the massive backs of the towering animal and departed for the village.

They met so few Wendigo on the trail, the other clan scattered and deeply injured. The stories were all the same, they had forced the sisters of the Snow Crone further south and west, scattering them into smaller bands. Moose and Wsalamir relieved the Wendigo of all their dead, for they had collected the bodies of all three clans as they had left the cursed village so that they might be reunited with their ancestors. As is the way.

Both the Clan Leader of the Moose and that of the Wsalamir continued on to the village. This is how they came to find that one Wendigo had been left behind in that village and how they came to know that man blamed Wendigo for the destruction that was found there. The tale of Templeton the Hunter and the torture of the Wendigo is well known and passed down in spoken lore.

What is not known is that for years Moose Clan helped to move the Wsalamir Clan through the north, guiding them on hard trails, carrying them through harsh weather, and keeping them from the hunter Templeton and his men.

Eventually, Wolf Clan would bind their path to that of the Grisknel and the two would forge a lasting alliance.

Eventually, the Wendigo would recede into legend, their numbers from that battle never able to recover.

But long before that happened, Moose Clan saved Wsalamir Clan from extinction.