You have entered the Lorehall of the Circle of Rangers. Situated under the giant redwoods of the forest, the roots of the great trees can be seen bursting through the ceiling. This is a natural place, unmarred by the touch of mankind, guarded eternally by strong warding spells to ensure that only those true of heart and purpose may enter. The chamber is roughly circular, with pedestals around the perimeter, each one a repository of knowledge and advice handed down from generation to generation of Circle members. Occasionally, another member of the Guild will enter, and silently peruse a tome. As you wander the hall, you see the following tomes.
The hoarse cries and whoops of the orcs pierced the stillness of the forest. The young elf dashed through the trees, branches whipping at her face, and drawing thin streaks of blood. Where the huge roots of the giant trees bit up through the soil, the elf leapt nimbly over them, and carried on. Her grace and fleetness of foot was uncanny, but her pursuers were relentless. The scalp of a young elven princess would bring great prestige to the leader of the warparty, and he wasn't going to let up the chase.
Onwards she dashed, dodging down narrow deer tracks, and climbing steep embankments, but still the orcs came - drawn to her scent like a pack of hounds to a fox. Eventually, she reached the banks of a fast flowing river, and skidded to a halt. The orcs swarmed out of the forest to surround her.
Raising a slim silver staff, she chanted an incantation in the elven tongue, and a burst of lightning spat forth, charring the nearest orc to a cinder, but the warleader stepped forwards and viciously slapped her across the face. She lost her grip on the staff, and it fell tumbling into the waters below. Wiping blood from her mouth with a delicate hand, she looked up in apprehension at the orc, who grabbed her roughly by the hair and pulled her to her feet.
"You die. But before you die. Orcs have fun," he grunted in stilted common. Suddenly, there came a mighty roar from the forest, and the orc spun around, throwing her to the floor. From the line of trees, two huge bears bounded forth, rising up onto their hind legs, and advancing on the party of orcs. Two spears promptly flew from the hands of two of the band, but they were batted and deflected away by the bears' thick hides.
"Taliesin, Myfanwy. I'r gad!" came a commanding voice, and the bears leapt to the attack. As they did so, a mighty forest stag charged from a gap between two trees, bearing a figure clothed in green and brown on its back, bearing a bow - nocked and ready to fly. He loosed an arrow into the nearest orc warrior, then stood up on the stag's bear back, in perfect balance, and leapt forward, clean over the huge antlers, drawing his blade from his back in midair, and landed cleanly in amongst the orcs. Slashing left and right with consummate speed, he dispatched two orcs in a matter of moments, before backing away, interposing himself between the band and the elven mage.
The orcs advanced, but the warrior stood his ground, blade flashing as he blocked, parried, and replied in kind, leaving another orc dead. The warband hesitated, unused to such challenging pray.
"Ar ugrek tor mak normat!" thundered the voice of the party's leader, and the remaining members of the band thundered forwards.
"Garthen, I'r cefn!" the warrior called in response, and the two bears charged forwards into the rear of the party, hurling bodies aside as they trundled forwards towards their master. The warband's numbers dwindled quickly between the onslaught of the bears from the rear, and the skilled swordsmanship of the green clad warrior. Soon, only the leader was left, and he howled his anger at being denied his prize, striding forwards bearing a mighty war axe.
He swung down towards the man, in a vicious blow, but the warrior's blade flashed up, batting the axe aside, but not fully, as it bit deeply into his shoulder. With a grimace of pain, he dropped to the floor, but as the axe came free of the shoulder, and the orc smirked in victory, the warrior leapt to his feet, seemingly ignoring the blood dripping from his shoulder. He swing his blade in an impossibly fast arc, shearing straight through the warleader's burly neck. As the body hit the floor, the warrior turned around to the elf, who'd been watching the fight with wide open eyes. He sheathed his blade, and offered her a hand. Unsteadily, she accepted it, and he helped her to her feet.
"I am Katan, Master Strider of the Circle of Rangers."
"Aerdhel, mage of Anthril."
"Mage?" he asked skeptically. He knew enough of elven lore to know that a true elven mage would have little trouble dispatching these orcs.
"OK, apprentice mage," she smiled.
"That's better. Anthril is a place. One of your villages?"
"Yes." she offered no more information than that.
"Then come. I shall take you there. This part of the forest is dangerous, as you found out."
She paused for a moment, uncertainly.
"You don't have to show me the village if you don't want to."
"Very well," she replied.
"Baerdwen, dere," Katan called, and the huge stag padded slowly forwards."
"This is Baerdwen," Katan told the mage.
"I know," Aerdhel replied, looking deep into the stag's eyes.
"A true creature of the forest."
"He'll carry us to your village."
Katan climbed onto the stag's back, and then reached down to help Aerdhel up behind him. He rested a hand on the stag's neck, then smiled.
"He's happy to carry us both."
The ranger then called to his bear companions, who came padding over.
"Taliesin, Myfanwy. Tan y tro nesaf."
The two bears promptly turned and padded off into the forest.
"You know the sylvan language?"
"Yes. I learned it from one of your own kind, a long time ago. Do you?"
"No, but I shall learn."
"Good. Sometimes I think it's more a magical incantation than a language, but I'm no wizard so I couldn't tell you for sure. Now, let's go, before more of their kind show up."
"A minor scratch," Katan smiled.
"Nevertheless, I can help."
She laid a hand on his shoulder and chanted slowly. Soon, the wound had healed up almost completely.
"See? Not totally useless after all."
"Indeed not," Katan smiled as the stag moved back into the woods. Once they were in the trees, Katan whispered a command, and leaned forwards into the beast's neck, urging Aerdhel to do the same. Baerdwen started running, accelerating quickly until the trees flashed by as a blur. Deeper into the forest they ran - it seemed that the stag knew the way to go without needing directions.
Soon, they came to a stop in a quiet clearing, and Aerdhel alighted from the steed.
"We'd best part company here. You understand of course - the way of the elves."
"Of course," Katan replied, wheeling Baerdwen around to head back the way he had come."
"Hold!" a commanding voice called from the trees, and Katan whirled around, his hand flying to the sword at his back. Quickly, he let it drop, as two elves stepped into the glade, bows drawn and ready to fire. He let his hand fall to his side as a third elf stepped into the clearing. This one was tall and proud - more muscular than the other two, with his slim sword drawn, but pointed at the ground in a sign of peace.
"Katan of the Circle of Rangers. Known to the orcs as Shadowblade. Come with us."
He slid smoothly off the back of Baerdwen, and the stag padded off into the forest. Stepping into the undergrowth, he followed behind the leader and Aerdhel, one scout in front, the other behind. He followed them along what seemed a familiar deer trail, but it opened out into an unfamiliar glade, and he started in surprise, then relaxed as he noticed the leader slip some sort of stone into his pocket. Elven magic no doubt. A wide, level forest path stood ahead of them arched by trees which had entwined themselves into a complicated knotwork above their heads. As they passed between two pillars, the blade on his back flared up in a halo of blue light.
"You bear a magical blade, ranger," one of the scouts commented, and he nodded in reply. Soon, they stepped into another glade, and Katan drew in a breath.
The grass was a lush, vibrant green, each blade sparkling like a tiny emerald. Tiny shapes flitted about in the air, like moths, but their fine gossamer white wings glowed with a strange amber light. The sound of birdsong was prevalent, but this song was unlike any which the ranger had heard before - powerful, and full of purpose. Dew hung in the air, covering everything with a mystic silver shroud, but Katan noticed that neither he nor the elves were getting wet.
"This is what the whole of the Silver Oak was like, before it became polluted and corrupted by the young races of New Moon, and the foul orc spawn," Aerdhel told him, snapping him back to reality - and to that, he had no reply, but his heart was filled with shame, for before him lay one of the most beautiful and breathtaking things he had ever seen in his life.
"Come." the leader of the scouting party commanded, as he started up a set of wooden stairs, winding up the trunk of one of the trees. Even the steps were remarkable, shining with a coppery light that made them appear more metallic than wood. Katan reached down to touch one, just to be sure.
"You are about to enter the village of Anthril. A sight very few rangers have ever seen."
Katan nodded at the young mage who spoke, but no words came forth, and none were needed as they made their way up the stairs.
Higher and higher they rose, yet Katan wasn't tired by the exhertion. Rather, he was excited beyond measure by what he was yet to see. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, it was as if he was transported into another world. The village had been built into the forest canopy itself, enshrouding the area in a sea of bright green. Thin beams of golden amber light eminated from unknown sources around the village, casting a strange, almost rustic, but strangely magical and peaceful light on the entire scene. Polished wooden buildings were linked by a complex series of walkways made from the same copper coloured wood as the steps he had just ascended, and a multitude of elves moved to and fro gracefully between them.
Katan spun around, to see a figure descending from another level. Clad in shining silver chainmail, with long flowing blonde hair and deep blue eyes, the elven man before him bore himself with a grace and presence that surpassed even that of the elves he had encountered thus far. The three scouts bowed deeply, and withdrew, while Aerdhel ran to him.
"I am glad to see you back in one piece. Leave us now - I wish to speak to the ranger."
The young mage promptly left, skipping over a walkway and disappearing into a grand building. The elven warrior stepped forwards, and placed a hand on Katan's shoulder.
"I am forever in your debt for what you did for my daughter."
"I would like to think that any self respecting ranger would have done the same."
"True. The Circle is a valued ally in these dark times, but nevertheless, you were there, and you did what you did bravely and skillfully, and for that I thank you. I am Tyriel, Lord of Anthril."
Katan bowed his head in acquiescence of the other's rank.
"I am honoured to have been brought here."
"I am honoured to have been able to permit you here. It is a rare occurrence indeed that we let outsiders into one of our villages. Walk with me for a while."
The two turned, and walked side by side along a walkway.
"Tell me what occurs in the outside world."
So Katan did, about the Circle, about the recent attack on Heliopolis by the insect army, and about his own adventures to far off Tsan.
"Yes, I see that you bear a Tsanese blade, Stormsinger - the blade of the dragon."
He shook his head despondently.
"And to think one of the dragonkin would become one of our greatest enemies."
He offered no further explanation, and Katan did not push him for one.
"The orcs grow ever stronger my lord. It is becoming increasingly hard to contain them."
"Yes, we know," Tyriel replied.
"It is becoming harder and harder to resist the call to battle. Every time a tree is cut down, every time a forest creature or one of the forest people are slain, we feel it, and it brings sorrow to our hearts - but we dare not intervene. To live openly in the forest is tantamount to destruction for us now. We can only intervene indirectly, but occasionally, even that is not possible - which is one of the reasons you were brought here. You are one of the Circle's most trusted rangers, and I have this missive for you to give to Yarrow Fleetfoot."
He took a sealed envelope from his pocket, and handed it to Katan.
"Time is short. You must leave now, but take this also."
He removed an amulet from around his neck, and handed it to the ranger.
"It will allow you to find our village again in the future. Go now, your destiny awaits."
With a start, Katan realized that he had reached the top of the steps leading down to the forest floor, and slowly he descended them. He made his way across the clearing below, and turned to look back at the scene… The steps were gone. He looked at the amulet in his hand, dull and lifeless, but he knew how to invoke its power when needed.
He turned away, raised his oaken whistle to his lips, and blew.
The Dark Seer looked up from his meditations in his personal chambers in the Tower of Chaos. He walked over to his chest, and removed the amulet. A blue stone, pure and unblemished, tied to an elegant silver chain. He could lead a Draconian army into the forest, and lay waste to the elves…
But he found no wish in his heart to do such a thing. He failed to share the bitterness that others had towards the elves, and he still wished the great forest well. He placed the stone between his gauntleted hands, and squeezed. The stone crumbled beneath his hands, the particles transforming into blue specs of light as they floated out of the window. As they departed, he was sure he heard two words spoken in the elven tongue in his mind.
|History of the Circle||A history of our Guild, from its foundation to the present day.|
|Organisation of the Circle||An explanation of the organisation of our Guild.|
|Tome of Knowledge||Advice for advancing and various Ranger knowledge.|
|Battle Lore||Tactics and stratagems of fighting as a Ranger.|
|Herblore||How to make potions, and advice on finding the herbs required.|
|Creaturelore||Where to find animals to tame, and how to learn to do it.|
|Famous Rangers||Noteworthy members of our guild.|
|Notable Events||Stories written by the Circle members on New Moon.|
|Links||Links to other New Moon related websites.|
If you have anything to add to this site - if you think I've left something out, or disagree with me about anything in here and wish to put forward your own opinions, feel free to contact me (Katan) through mudmail or e-mail
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May 1st 2003 - Been a while, hasn't it? Nothing major, just added a new story to the main page.
November 22nd 2001 - Updated every page on the site, with information gained since the last update - also tidied up some of the tables, and added my 'History of the Circle' to the site. This work can also be seen on the ranger guild notice board.
September 29th 2001 - Updated the skill list, title list, and Noteworthy Members section. Added a short story to the index page.
|August 10th 2001 - Added this updates section|
|August 9th 2001 - Added a skill list and a list of ranger titles to the Tome of Knowledge, and added the Organisation of the Circle link above.|