Fellowship of Leaves
Deep in the woods, the whispers of elves linger. Ancient protectors normally above the affairs of men, some men have shown enough loyalty to them to be taught their magic and even gain the assistance of the elven archers.
All followers share a respect and delight in natural places, and seek to spread the sphere of life’s vitality; however there is little concern, officially, for any particular individual lives. The Fellowship will fight for their own lands, and crusade to end wide-scale corruption of nature, but rarely intervene in any conflict otherwise, or at least rarely sanction such intervention by the tenets of their creed.
Personal ethics in The Fellowship vary dramatically, from emulating the care of a mother hen to the ferocity and guile of a starving hyena.
Neutral/Chaotic Neutral/Chaotic Good/Neutral Good
Kithra’s father was an elven hunter and his mother was a human, a merchant’s daughter. Their families were accepting of the relationship, and Kithra’s father left his people to move into the small human village. They got married and seemed to defy the belief that these relationships would always end tragically.
The villagers were very tolerant, even happy, to have an elf living in their village. But though the humans may have accepted him, their diseases didn’t. After just three years spent in the village, he caught a stomach flu that had been going around the village, and, unaccustomed to such illnesses, it killed him.
Kithra was raised by his mother. Still accepted and loved by the village, he grew into a quiet and friendly half-elven young man. He worked in the inn stables and seemed to have a knack for calming and caring for the horses that travelers would stable there. That was all he thought he would ever do.
A soldier was staying at the inn for a few weeks, and he had asked Kithra to exercise his horse at least once a day. It was a magnificent horse, and Kithra looked forward to riding it each day. He was running it in the small pasture by the inn when a new guest arrived, a mage named Hemah.
Hemah watched the young half-elf ride before going inside. Kithra tried to ride up and talk to him, but the mage waved him off, tired from his travels. The caravan Hemah was traveling with had been attacked by orcs, many were killed and all of the travelers were exhausted.
That night the orcs attacked again, but strange dark versions of orcs. Some ran through the walls of buildings like ghosts, other fought battles in the streets with guards who had been killed earlier that day. Yells and the sounds of battle echoed in the air, as if it was nothing more than a vision, but this was real. The orcs turned on the village guard, killing them.
The soldier from the inn commanded Kithra to get his horse ready and grabbed his sword to keep the orcs back. By the time Kithra had saddled the horse, the soldier was already dead and the orcs were breaking into the inn.
Kithra saw himself ride through the orcs, bow in hand, firing deadly arrow after arrow into the orc horde. He heard the orcs dying before he remembered ever performing the act. He was confused and then he was on the horse, but the horse had changed, it was stronger
and faster than it was that day. The tail was untied and combed out, hooves were polished, and it was fearless. The horse charged through the orcs, trampling any that got in his way. Kithra was terrified, silent witness to his own hands as they used the bow and arrows he had never seen before to fight off the orcs.
An orc broke into his mother’s house and she ran out into the street. Kithra stopped being a puppet and grabbed the reins, forcing the horse to turn toward her and the orc bearing down on her. If she was shocked and terrified by the orc attack, she was even more so by the sight of her gentle quiet son slaughtering the orcs and turning to charge toward her.
He aimed at the orc, and his arrow caught him in the chest. A second quickly followed and a third sunk into the orc’s head. No longer a puppet, Kithra still had no idea what was going on, but there were many more orcs to kill. He told his mother to hide by the well while he then turned back towards the orcs; there was more fighting to be done before morning.
Kithra still doesn’t know what happened that night. The orcs’ bodies simply disappeared, but the effects of their presence didn’t. Some of the villagers were killed, as was the soldier who owned the horse. Evidence of the attack was everywhere, broken doors, tracks, the orcs had even eaten some of the livestock. But the orcs themselves, along with their weapons and gear, were gone.
Kithra’s bow remained and the horse kept the changes that had occurred during the night. Kithra had changed too, his sandy blond hair was now golden blond, his eyes were greener, he seemed taller and more fit. Thinking that his elven heritage may have done this to him, he left the village and traveled to his father’s former home where he asked for advice from the priest of the Temple of Leaves.
They weren’t able to answer his questions about that night, but they did tell him that he was a hero now, and had an amazing gift bestowed upon him. He stayed and trained and learned at the temple, adopting the elven traditions and the worship of Cernunnos. He has been one of the Fellowship’s most powerful heroes ever since.
Yvain is the first and greatest Treant, imbued with tremendous magical powers, created by Cernunnos after the ‘horned one’ ascended to godhood as Angel of Nature. Yvain’s eccentric nature leads him across Erebus, visiting secluded glades, talking to exotic animals and chasing nymphs across pebbled river banks.
Even some within the Fellowship question if Yvain has the sincerity his respected stature would seem to require of him, but none doubt that he is the favored child of Cernunnos. It was Yvain who first dreamed of the Ancient Forests and who is the first to face every newly discovered wilderness. To everyone who delights in finding the wonders of this world, know that Yvain has walked through these places before, and that they are all the more amazing because of it.
The smallest patches of grass are more wondrous than the greatest monuments of rock and metal.
—The Green Rites, Chapter IV, Sermon VII
A druid stands in the middle of the disciples like an oak surrounded by saplings. They are inside a circle of rose petals that have been dipped in water from a spring blessed by a priest of Leaves. So warded they can observe the forest without interaction. In this case, their attention is quickly drawn to an injured old wolf, apparently having been driven from his pack. Having spent several months immersed in the subtleties of nature, their sympathy is drawn towards him. The weakened wolf is soon set upon by a mother cougar training her cubs, and some of the aspirants flinch as it is felled.
“Do you still not understand?” chides the druid. “Why do you side with the wolf over the cougar?” Each gives a different answer, trying to justify his instincts. “The wolf was weak—it wasn’t fair.” “The wolf is a higher animal.” “Where two were alive, now only one is.”
“Trust the wisdom with which the world was created. We are not made to judge nature, but to study it, from the inside. Nature does not favor weakness, and so our task is not to protect the helpless. It does not judge one life more worthy than the next—let all struggle, and if the winner is a plant, a wolf—or an elf or a human, so be it. And nature does not prefer life over death. Every creature gets both given once, and will in return deliver each as much as it is able. Your duty is not to preserve life over death, my blossoms, but to expand the scope of the struggle. Spread the seeds of the green plant, that it may grow, and die, and give its essence to the entire web of life.”
Their lesson complete, the disciples followed the Druid through the forest, ancient trees parting for the aged man like curtains in the wind.
—From Chapter 5 of Reflections on the State Cults, by Elder Methyl of the Luonnotar