Crescentina Mahin

Druid of the Moon

Description:

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Gender: Female
Alignment: Neutral Good
Race: Woodelf
Class: Druid of the Moon
Background: Guide

Bio:

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Ithil Rana
(The Moon Wanderer)

With footsteps dampened by recent rain-soaked grass the creature paces forward a few steps before lifting its head towards the breeze. Sensitive nostrils flare, catching scent of hidden prey nearby. The juvenile bear had been stalking something for the last hour or so, frustrated that his prey was not so easy to catch as some had been before. He lumbered forward as stealthily as possible, nose bent towards the earth to follow a trail which lead directly to an old fallen log. Furred ears flick forward as a faint rasp from within catches the bear’s attention.

Standing as still as death, waiting for further evidence its prey was inside the log, the bear cocked its head and listened with strict attention. As if the creature within had sensed the malevolent presence outside, no other sound came for quite a while, but this bear was unnaturally patient and stood sentry far longer then others might. Another quick noise from within verified that there was indeed something hiding inside the log and with one mighty bellow the bear stood up and brought his considerable weight crashing down onto it. Dead wood and moss fly in great arcs from the blow, shattering with thunderous cracks as the bear digs his claws in and rips the remaining bits asunder.

Liquid brown eyes and furred snout shove in towards the far end, teeth bared in furious snarl that snap inches from terrified prey. The thing at the far end squeals in terror, balling itself tightly away from the marauding bear. Frustrated by the inability to shove his head into the narrow space the bear pulls out and reaches in with clawed paw to make a grab. Razor sharp claws flash in the moonlight and catch vulnerable skin, shredding and drawing blood, but unable to secure purchase for removal. A terrified scream rips through the night and causes the bear to pause, ears flicked forward with a confused tilt of head.

Prey did not usually scream in this manner and so the bear rocks himself backwards and plops onto his bum; back feet sticking comically forward. From within the log comes a whimpered sound of pain and snuffling sobs, all caught by acute hearing as the bear cocks his head side to side. It does not take long for the summons to travel and within minuets there is a third presence in the woods. Sing-song voice reaches the bears ears as the man enters the small clearing, palm upraised in greeting. “Desh’miriai. Deyash nek’tai?” Guardian, walk with me, he says, and the bear stands from his vigil to lumber over for a fond headbutt that nearly knocks the Druid from his feet.

“Desh’miriai. What have you found for me my friend?” Lithe footsteps follow the bear’s shuffled path and the man leans down to glance inside of the log, where he can hear the hurt whimpers of some small creature. Squinting at first there is a brief incantation that allows light to flare within his palm and a moment later the Druid’s eyes go wide with surprise. A small child can be seen within the log, curled as tightly as can be, but holding an arm rent with four long gouges that drip blood. Glancing back at the bear with eyebrow cocked, the Druid plants both hands on his hips “You should have called me sooner Desh’miriai. Look what you have done to the poor thing.” If the bear feels any shame or concern for the scolding, brown eyes do not show it.

Exasperated at his companions lack of guilt the man shoos the great bear away so that he may concentrate on removing the child in safety. Ice blue eyes lock with catlike green as the man reaches his hand forward to the child, calling softly “Come cugu, my dove, you are safe now.” The child does not move, eyes wide in terror and pain, shrinking back even farther. “The Guardian will not harm you cugu, he has gone away now. Come out of there so that we may have dinner together.” At the mention of food there is a brief spark of interest deep within green eyes and the child shifts forward a fraction. It is not until a crust of bread is produced that tiny hand reaches forth, covered in blood, to accept succor.

Moments later the Druid accepts frail hand within his own and helps the child crawl from the wreckage of the log. Pulling the small frame into his arms he brushes matted blonde hair from delicate elven features and smiles at the small female he has rescued. “There cugu, you are safe with me, you see?” But as the girl glances from him and away she catches sight of the bear sitting not to far off and shrieks in terror. All but deafened by the unexpected siren of alarm the Druid reels back and does his best to hold onto the child, who has become a flurry of arms and legs and is thrashing wildly to escape.

“Cugu! My dove! Stop that” he implores, grabbing hold of one arm only to lose it for a leg; the girl is as wily as a cat. Upon receiving an elbow to one eye in exchange for letting go of her ankle the Druid has had enough. STOP!” he roars, voice imbued with magical vibe that rings through the forest and causes animals to shift in their slumber. The child freezes, green eyes wide upon pale face. After a moment he sets her down, one hand over his bruised eye, the other stern and glaring. “The bear is my friend. He is Guardian to these woods, where I call home. You need not fear him. His name is Desh’miriai and I will call him to me. You will stand here by me and not move a muscle. Do you understand?” Eyebrows raised the Druid waits for a small nod before whistling for the bear.

True to her word the small child remains completely still as the brown bear wanders over. He has lost all interest in the child and only lifts his massive head towards the Druid, ears forward in attention. “Desh’miriai, please take us to my home. I fear that your claws have caused great damage to the child, and we are not safe here without you.” As if he understands the bear settles down to the ground and allows the Druid to climb upon his back, drawing the frozen child along with him.

Without pause the bear stands and begins to pad towards where the Druid had first appeared, taking no notice of the added weight to his frame. Still unwilling to move, the girl locks her eyes onto the creatures head, noticing that the bear is missing half of his right ear; a long jagged scar running from there in lightning arc across his muzzle. Though she finds it curious, she is still in thrall to the Druid’s words and will not move a single muscle until told to do so.

Time passes slowly for the girl, whose terrified eyes dart side to side as the trio journey through the dark woods. Frightening shapes linger and lurk just outside of her eyesight, even though she can see quite well by the crescent moon. A pack of wolves encircle them at one point, furred snouts catching scent of blood and fear. The bear swings his massive head, twisting his ears towards the canine intruders and bearing teeth. The wolves move on, sensing that this prey is not worth tangling with the Guardian.

Eventually they reach a small clearing where a great sequoia stands sentry, its branches towering above the rest of the forest and spread like many hands reaching towards the moonlight. Though the bear wanders directly into the clearing, a pale shimmer of blue washes the three as he passes an obvious boarder. Feeling calm and rested the child chances a look around and marvels at what she sees. Moonlight filters down through the branches, catching many pieces of stained glass that hang from the trees limbs. Producing magnificent effect upon the ground, the colors shift and twinkle as if spirits of the forest dance here.

Feeling safe and happy, only then does the child twist towards the Druid, hand outstretched “The spirits live here” she announces. Disbelief and surprise war on the man’s face, his eyebrows shooting so far up they nearly fly from his face. “Yes cugu… yes they do.” Dismounting he brings the child down from the bear’s back and sets her upon her feet. No sooner is she on the floor then the girl darts off to be among the myriad of colors, arms outstretched; smile upon her face. Eyes closed she twirls, humming a strange tune he’s never heard before. “Desh’miriai, do you think this is a sign? Can she really see the forest spirits so young?” More musing to himself he glances at the bear, whose expression gives nothing away.

Days pass and turn into weeks, but no one comes for the small elven child. Haven taken to calling her cugu, the Druid mends her arm to the best of his ability, but she will bear the tell-tale scars of her fateful night run-in with the Guardian for life. Eventually the Druid can wait no longer, and settles upon a course of action: he will take her to the Raer’Run elves and find out if anyone would claim her. Nodding to himself he begins to prepare for the journey, wondering at an odd sadness that lingers over his soul.

The day of their journey dawns bright and clear, frost clinging to the forest floor just outside the magical ring which keeps it much warmer within. “Cugu, it is time to go see the other elves!” he shouts for her, but the waif is nowhere to be seen. Exasperated by her inability to stay still longer then two minuets, the Druid begins hunting her down. All through the massive tree he searches, finding hide nor hair of the girl. She has left small toys here or there, mostly leaf dolls she created, or sparkly rocks collected from the stream. Nearly tripping to fall down the long wind of stairs, the Druid pauses to glare at the twig man she’d left near the top. “The death of me, that dove” he grumps, the faintest trace of smile giving lie to the words.

Despite his considerable talents, the girl has eluded him and the man gives up with a sigh. He knows why he cannot find her, and that she does not wish to leave. But it is my duty to return her, he thinks, growing stern in resolve. “Desh’miriai, bring her to me” he calls silently, mentally to the bear. Within ten minuets, as he stands arms folded beside the great tree, the bear comes into sight. Grasped within his jaws is the girl, who suspends and rocks side to side with arms folded; her shirt firmly caught.

Though her face is pulled into a pout and green eyes implore, the Druid is resolved. Once set down she follows a silent command to grab her small backpack from where he points. “You disappoint me cugu. You know we have to go find your parents; that you cannot stay with me and Desh’miriai.” Scolded she remains silent, allowing herself to be lifted onto the bear and remaining withdrawn from them both.

Days roll by without much concern as the Druid walks along beside his companion. Expertly packed bags contain many medicinal herbs and rare poultices the Druid plans to trade with the other elves, tied deftly to the massive bear. Lumbering along at his own pace, brown eyes constantly scan and are ever diligent for threats as the Guardian escorts the two towards their destination. It is only about a week from the tree when the three come upon a raging river, white foam splashing with liquid fury.

“Desh’miriai, I thank you for your assistance my friend. From here cugu and I will need help of another kind. Please wait for me here, and I will meet with you as soon as I can.” Impassive brown eyes glance towards the Druid as he lifts the child down and spends a few more moments to untie the other satchels as well. After the Guardian wanders off the Druid turns to find the girl dangerously close to the river. With a shout of alarm he rushes over to pluck her from the bank, eyes wide with concern. “Cugu, this is the Arirua river, the Silver Stair. You do not touch its waters without proper magics; it will freeze you to death in moments.”

The two spend an uneventful night camped by the river, a blue ring of magic keeping them warm while the ice-bearing water rushes past. Still not having spoken a single word since they left, the girl watches the Druid in silence. He tries a few times to engage her in conversation, but gives up trying eventually. Right before drifting to sleep the Druid sighs “Cugu, I wish you would not hate me for this. I am trying to help you find your people. I don’t even know your real name” he muses, expecting no answer and getting none.

Morning dawns cold, flakes of snow falling from the clouds that lurk above and swirl ominously. Glancing up the Druid lifts his hands and lets out a clear, loud whistle. Birds and other animals wake with alarm, all ears honed for the following whistle, which comes moments later. From the sky descends a creature, its hooves touching the earth as massive white wings backdraft to settle it. The pegasus bears a rider, who is armored and aiming a knocked arrow at the Druid. After elven eyes squint and take stock, the arrow drops and half a smile forms across otherwise impassive face. “Harani a’kaheyla de’shanuay Ekar’Ela” the guard says, nodding to the man before him.

Green eyes wide at the sight of the winged horse, the child seems mesmerized and starts forward without hesitation. While both men are busy exchanging formal greetings the girl lays a hand upon the creatures neck as pale grey eyes roll towards her. Twisting an ear the pegasus leans down to nudge its muzzle into the child, sniffing and snorting at her in amusement. When the two men notice the scene there is immediate alarm, and the Druid rushes to grab her from petting the pegasus. “Forgive her trespass Thoron, please, she does not know our ways.”

Deep blue eyes stare down at the girl with stern anger, glaring at her with reproach. “She has touched the sacred Gwairoch, a crime most serious! Why have you brought this woodelf with you Ekar’Ela?” Though he has not raised the bow, there is dangerous tension between the two men. Taking a deep breath to respond, the Druid is cut off when sing-song female voice asks quite clearly “Why is your name Eagle if you don’t have wings?” Both men glance towards the child, who stands with hands on hips and head cocked. A moment ticks by, then another, and still the silence lingers as they decide how to respond. Finally the rider shakes his head and glances up to the sky for a moment “The Gwairoch is my wings and I fly with him like an eagle. That is why.”

“I like your skyhorse, he is very nice and soft and white. He wants some of the berries in my pocket.” Eyebrows raise as the elven guardian glances towards his mount, a silent link between them confirming what the child has just announced. “That is true indeed, small one. How did you speak to him?” he questions, curious light replacing the anger from before. “I just know” is all the child gives away before reaching in a pocket to produce a handful of small red berries which she presents to the pegasus. With utmost care the animal takes the offered gift from the girl’s outstretched palm, happily munching and then nuzzling her for more.

“You have found a very interesting child Ekar’Ela. I suppose you are bringing her to Council” but the rider does not wait for an answer, he tugs lightly upon the reigns and turns his mount away. With a short running start the pegasus sweeps its massive wings up, leaps as if into the river, and with a mighty gust down, takes flight. Stunned into silence, the Druid can only blink at his small charge, who is standing there waving and calling goodbye to the “skyhorse” — who responds with a loud whinny.

It takes several more days for the pair to travel by foot to the elven settlement. They cannot bring Desh’miriai with them, and the loss of the great bear weighs heavily upon the Druid’s heart. He is only distracted from his negative thoughts by the many questions the girl has finally begun to ask of him. “What’s your name? Why? What does that mean? Why? What is that plant? Why? What does it do? Why?” and so it goes for the entire week. So lost is he in showing the girl the wonders of the land that the Druid nearly forgets his whole purpose for bringing her here to his people. Upon reflection of this cause, the darkness returns to encroach across his soul like an ink stain.

Their time among the elves of Raer’Run goes by quickly, as the whole town comes to see the strange woodland elf the Star Master has brought to them. None can lay claim to her though, for Wood Elves do not typically cohabitate with the High Elves. Speculation begins to run amongst the community as stories come forward of wandering bands of the Wood Elves making their way through Mymai Forest. The Druid begins to believe that perhaps she has been abandoned or lost by one of these such tribes. Several of his life-long friends offer to help find the girl’s people, and set out by foot and by Pegasus to scour the land. None return with any information, as it seems the wandering tribes have all disappeared from Mymai.

If he was being totally honest with himself, the Star Master is quite pleased that his cugu’s parents are not found. Though the life of a Druid is, by nature, quite alone, he believes he has found something unique within the girl. She is without guile and seems to truly belong to the forest, as he does. After making profitable trade with the Raer’run elves and catching up with family and friends, the Druid takes his leave. There are fond farewells for the pair, as the child has grown on many of the elves who are sad to see them both go.

Lighter of heart then he should be, the Druid takes his charge back through the dangerous forest with barely a whisper of their passing. Massive dire creatures seem to ignore their very existence, and nothing turns malevolent eye their way. It is a journey full of story, song, and conversation. Eventually Desh’miriai comes to take the girl’s attention and she asks what happened to his ear. That night, under the stars and shrouded from the cold by a blue bubble, the Druid tells the bear’s tale….

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“Well you see cugu, Desh’miriai was not always my friend. When I first came to these woods I was not immediately accepted by the many creatures who live here. Some of them resented my intrusion and did not want a two-leg on their land. One such creature was an enormous wolf; so large his shoulders spanned far above my own head. He was the king of this forest at the time, for no other beast could best him. Many boney plates covered his graying body and his hide bore many scars from long-past battles. He was the original Desh’miriai of this land and he reigned here from when the star beings first arrived.

One day the great wolf came to me, one eye clouded with age, the other bright as the night sky. He told me I was not welcome upon his land, that I had not gained the trust of the beasts he protected. When I asked how I was to do that, the wolf bared his teeth at me — whether in snarl or smile I am still unsure. He told me only a great act of compassion would win me any favor in this harsh land, and that I had one week to prove myself, or remove myself. I was quite scared cugu, let me assure you! I sensed the wolf was not really of this world, that he was tied to it by magical means, but he was not truly a being of breath and flesh.

I worried day and night about what the wolf had said. How could I show great compassion to animals who did not want to be anywhere near me? This question plagued me as I wandered, lost, through this land. Then one day as I stopped by a stream to refresh my waterskin I saw a small bear cub hanging from a tree. It looked as though the little one had gotten caught in a trap by his back foot. Without heed for a mother lurking nearby I rushed to retrieve the cub, who was listless from starvation and lack of water. No mother came to tear me to shreds, so I made camp and set about nursing the baby back to health.

Weeks came and went, but I did not realize it — so focused was I on saving the small brown cub. When he finally could lift his head, I sensed a great love from him, a thankfulness and trust behind brown eyes. I named him Seran, which means “Newborn Star” and took him everywhere with me. Eventually Seran grew too large for me to carry, and soon he was carrying me. We would hunt together and I was mostly put to shame. Seran was a great hunter and he took care of me most nights, so my belly did not go unfilled.

Then one evening as we settled down around our fire, the great wolf appeared just outside the glow. Seran got to his feet with a growl, head low and eyes wary. I was terribly afraid, for I thought the wolf had forgotten me; he had not. Eye dark as death rolled over Seran without concern, a speck could do no harm to this great monster. He settled to look at me, discerning and all-knowing. I bowed very deeply to him I assure you, for one does not look upon the God of the Forest without great respect. “So you know who I am now child. That pleases me.”

The wolf laid down then, his head held proud and ears pricked forward upon me. As I rose to my feet I could sense a change, no longer willing me to begone, the wolf wanted to listen. I started telling him of my wanderings, of my day-to-day doings, and then of Seran. As my words came to a stop I looked to the wolf who was not pleased. His ears dropped backwards slightly, head tilted down in disapproval. “Still you must leave this forest two-leg. You have not proven yourself to me. I will escort you back to your people.”

In dismay I recall nodding and turning to gather my things. A roar unlike any I heard split the night and I turned to see Seran charge the wolf. With a lazy swat the great beast caught Seran across the snout, ripping into his muzzle and tearing his ear. Blood splattered everywhere as Seran slammed backwards into a tree and lay limp. I ran to him, ignoring the wolf’s growling threats and lifted my friends head. Brown eyes were fading away, already far in the distance, but he looked to me and I sense he had tried to save me.

I cried then, I will not lie, for my friends sacrifice had broken my very soul. Great sobs that wracked my body as I clutched the lifeless bear to me. “Why did you do it Seran? Why did you do it?” I think my despair touched the great wolf for I heard him stand and move forward. Grey muzzle dipped low, cracked and gouged as it was, moving towards Seran. I am not sure what possessed me, but I could not stand for the monster to touch my friend and so I slapped his nose away with all my might.

In a fury I stood to face the startled wolf. “You are not good enough to touch him! Stay away from Seran, he was a kind and gentle soul. Unlike you, you monster! I would have gone away as you asked, you did not need to cause him harm. I did everything to protect him and he was my brother and best friend.” I raged at the Lord of the Forest then, taking up my walking stick to wave him away with it, as if my flailings could have even disuaded him for a moment. I hacked and slashed then, until my arms gave out and my legs would not hold me up. The great wolf stood there, his head high above me and simply watching; I never hurt him, that was impossible.

Eventually I sat on the ground, tears and dirt staining my face. My limbs were limp and even breathing hurt. It was then that the Forest God laid down before me, his massive head settled on either paw. “You do the forest honor, to care for us as deeply as you do. You have passed your test this night, as seen by the forest and the stars. Not far from here there is a sacred tree and I wish for you to make your home within it for as long as you like. Seran will accompany you in all you do, as your friend and guardian for life. This I give you as my oath.”

I heard a rustle then as Seran sat up, dizzy and confused. We looked at each other in startled disbelief for a moment before I threw myself upon him in joyous hug. When I turned to thank the Forest God, there was nothing there but a trail of normal sized wolf tracks. In the morning we followed those tracks to the Great Tree, and we have made our home there ever since. I tend to the forest now, every creature my friend, every plant my ward.

Sometimes I sense that the Lord of the Forest still visits me, time to time. I find his tracks just outside the grove boarder. I know he could bypass the magical runes with ease, as they are not there to keep good creatures out. But he does not stay, for he is as wild and as untamed as the forest he protects. Seran too does not always stay, as he has gotten older. You see, he is a magic creature now, smart, cunning, and powerful. I believe he will continue to grow throughout our entire lives, not unlike the great wolf. Perhaps someday Seran will be Desh’miriai of the whole forest… not just me.

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After returning home the trio settle in to a life of normalcy. The Star Master begins to teach his pupil basic survival skills and how to communicate with the forest. Though she is an adept pupil, Cugu still has wanderlust in her soul. More often then not the child is no where to be found as she soon prefects ways to move through the forest unseen by beast or the Star Master. Usually it is Desh’miriai who brings the girl back, her backpack full of various trinkets from her adventures and the bear showing great patience with her endless prattling.

Every year the Druid returns to Raer’run to trade his herbs and other items, gain information, and stay a while among his people. Though the elves have accepted, and even come to adore his Cugu, the Star Master senses she is quite lonely among so many. It is only when they are back in the forest that she comes to life once more, prancing and skipping, disappearing amongst the trees with ease.

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It is many, many years later that the Druid, now stooped and showing his great age, senses a massive shift within the very fabric of time and reality. Woken from his sleep by an unearthly howl, he gathers his walking stick and shuffles outside. There, just outside the blue barrier stands the great wolf, pacing side to side with urgency. Quickly as he can he approaches the barrier and passes beyond it, coming face to face with the Forest Lord.

“Star Master, something is wrong. The world is wrong, the forest is wrong. You must help us now, for magic is failing and I feel that I am no longer securely bound to this world.” Sorrow washes the Druid’s face as the wolf collapses to the ground, head hitting the forest floor. “I will do whatever is in my power, this I promise you. I am too old to leave this grove, and should my power fail here, all of this forest will be vulnerable. I will send the dove, whose fleet of foot and young to this world, to find out what has happened.”

A great gust of wind blasts through the clearing then, hitting the Forest Lord and turning his furred body to leaves. Upon the whisper of the wind the Druid hears final words “Hurry Star Master. Hurry….”

Crescentina Mahin

Taris Aerte