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Back then, the wars we fight now were simpler : there were the ravenous Centaurs, the harrassing Harpies and the fierce Quillboars. There were no demons from the Dark Beyond or undead to poison the water and wound the land itself. The Spirits guided our path and we knew a sort of peace.
But this is a story about Barsooth, and he knew not of our ennemies to come.
While out hunting in the Great Woods – which are gone now... Destroyed or twisted by the demons and undead, its Spirits tortued and driven mad...
But this is a story about Barsooth, and he could wander all of the Earth Mother's forests.
As he was hunting in the Great Woods, he came accross the tracks of a great bear. Eager to prove his courage, if not his wisdom, he tracked the beast to its cave. The groto was immense – surely the beast that called it home was mighty indeed. Impressed by what he saw, he did not notice the other tracks that lay everywhere.
Indeed, for while he had followed the tracks as truly as a spear's throw, he had not bothered to check around the tracks; see what else had come to this place. Had he been less intent in his hunt, he would have noted the many large feathers that lay about; as if a great many huge birds had passed not long ago.
Carefully he approached the cave's entrance. The area was void of trees and the noon sun was hard on his back. So intent was he on his approach that he did not notice the shadows that passed on the ground.
A sharp cry pierced the quiet. He turned and realised too late his imprudence. Harpies decended from everywhere.
He fought as he could but the nets they threw over him where strong and full of thorns. Barsooth bleed heavily and his war cries, earlier deep and strong, became panicked and laced with fear.
This was to be his end. Caught like a yearling. But the Great bear herd the cries and woke.
The great bear was named Anakan – a name given by the harpies for they had long fought and feared him. And so, to warn others away had carved the word ANAKAN in the cave face.
The harpies wicked and cruel had kept vigil over their foe over the years. That is why they discovered that Anakan had birthed two beautiful young bearlings. Wanting vengence for their sisters fallen at Anakan's claws, they hatched a cruel plot. When Anakan would leave to hunt and search for food, they would lure the younglings out of the cave and snatch them.
Bringing succulent fruits and rare birds at the cave's mouth, they lured the young ones outside. Only hearts as black as theirs could think to do as they did next. Wanting Anakan to suffer, they killed one of the pups. They mangled the body and desecreted the corpse and left it at the cave mouth. They took the other one, knowing that the slim hope of finding her other child again would keep the pain alive forever.
After a great rage that tore century trees from their roots and sent boulders flying, Anakan succumbed to grief; for their is no greater pain than that of a mother that looses her children. She slept more and more, until she did not wake for weeks at a time. Only dreams brought her children back to her; and she refused to leave them.
The harpies came often to gloat and tell their daughters of how they had bested a great beast. And so, many were watching the cave from high among the trees when Barsooth approached the cave.
Hearing the cries of pain and fear, Anakan woke in a frenzy. Thinking her young ones returned and under attack, she burst from her den. The laughing and taunting harpies were ripped to shreds. Such had been Anakan's madened fury and such was her size and strength that a single strike from her paw killed three of the wicked harpies two of them broken in half. A few managed to flee, but none escaped unscathed.
Weak from his wounds and struck by the force of Anakan's roar, Barsooth could not remain conscious.
He awoke to find himself surrounded by warmth and fur. Something was gently nuzzling his head. Anakan, in her great grief, had immagined he were one of her young ones. Barsooth, of course, did not understand any of this yet; confused but reassured by the bear's obvious affection, he fell into sleep once more.
And so many days passed with Anakan carring for Barsooth as if he were her stolen young one returned. This is not to say that the first days were easy; for one, it took some time before Anakan understood that Barsooth could not eat the raw meat she often offered him. But soon, she brought back only fruits, nuts and other things he could eat without a fire.
Finally well enough to leave, Barsooth left the cave. At first Anakan tried to keep him inside, and it took many more days for Barsooth to convince Anakan that it was safe for him to leave the den. For you see, Barsooth came to understand what had happened. His desire to slay the creature as a trophy had completely left him and he wanted for nothing in the world to hurt this great animal. This meant that he could not steal away when she went out for food, but instead, he had to bring her back from madness and allow him to leave the den; as all young bears must eventually do.
It took many moons for Anakan to heal; not her body, but her spirit. And in time, Barsooth found he could understand more and more of the great bear.
When, finally, his time to leave came, he shouldered his spears and went out, hunting. This time, he would be weary, this time, he would take heed. For he had learned his lesson well and this time, his quarry was not for his glory alone...
Barsooth would find the harpies and deliver the bearling and find he had made a more powerful friend then he had thought; but that tale must wait, for the moon is high and little hunters must sleep if they want the strength to catch their prey.
This peice of Lore was written by Movanic on the old WoWd20 forums
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