Location: Arbola Forest
Timeline: Sixth Age, 44th Year
You’ll probably be relieved to know that the entire story doesn’t center around me. Although personally I think it would make for a more interesting read, I must defer to His wishes so I guess it’s high time I introduced you to some of the other story lines in our tale.
At the time these events occurred, I didn’t know much about them. In fact, I was completely unaware of pretty much everything that was happening in Arbola Forest until much later in time – it wasn’t until I became a slave, er, servant of A’H that I was ‘graced’ with this information.
Luckily for you, the Amorosi historians apparently wrote about these events in their History of the Ages – those famous texts are by no means as interesting to read as my diary, but they’ll serve our purposes.
To be honest with you, whenever I read this alleged ‘history,’ I feel like a bit of a fool – looking back now there is so much I would have done differently if I’d only known about the elfess Nathily and her pesky little friend Emcorae Azop (whom you’ll meet later). For starters I would have simply disposed of them both early on – that would have saved me a LOT of heartache later. But, alas, how was I to know that two mere mortals would end up changing the world… and nearly destroying ME in the process?
It sickens me to realize that I missed so much — and that all my plans failed because of my lack of attention to detail. But there’s nothing I can do about it now, so I suppose I might as well get started telling you this tale…if only to get it over with faster…
Once upon a time there was an elfess named Nathily.
She was one of the many Amorosi elves who lived in Arbola Forest during the early years of the Sixth Age of Substance.
Even I will admit that Nathily was also one of the most beautiful creatures who ever lived upon your world.
She was statuesque and beautiful, with golden hair that flowed in waves like silk, and a golden body to match — lithe and slender, Nathily had perfect muscle tone and goddess-like features. (1) Her thin and softly chiseled face seemed as if it was the vision of a dream, but most compelling were her eyes — light green, emerald jewels — so bright they sometimes seemed to glow in the dark. (2)
At the time of our story Nathily was forty-two years old – yet she was still considered to be barely more than a child by her people (3). Despite her seeming immaturity, very worldly events were about to take place for the elfess – in fact, Nathily had already spent the last few months of her dwindling youth preparing for the physical and mental trials she would have to endusre once she began to train as an Azora. And although it had been some time now since she had first learned that it would be her destiny to become one of these famed warriors, still her official training had yet to begin, still she had yet to be assigned a mysstro, and she had yet to even pick up a weapon. For Nathily continued to await the decree of the Arbola Council, while that governing body continued on with their endless meetings in the Great Green Hall – trying to decide whether or not they would actually allow a female elfess, an Amora, to actually attempt to become an Azora! (4)
An Amorosi named Rian was the current Regent of Arbola Forest at this time. His people considered him to be capable and wise. (5) He was also the adoptive father of Nathily. This meant that Rian would ultimately be deciding the elfess’s future.
Do they really expect me to give my blessing for Nathily to become an Azora? The regent sighed to himself as he listened to endless debates on the matter.
For Rian these were tough times — as a pacifist by nature, it would have been hard enough for him to see his only child serve for a short term in the regular defense force of Arbola – the Amorosi Protectorate (6). Amorae can and did fight in the Protectorate and if Nathily wanted to do it, Rian could not have stopped her – for it was the right and duty of all the people to protect the realm and Amorosi women were more than capable fighters in the elvish armies.
Even still, Rian hated the thought of his daughter wielding an instrument of death.
Throughout Amorosi history, their people abhorred violence, except during times of dire emergencies. Rian himself had never served in the army because his father had professed a belief that a non-violent life was the path to wisdom and Rian ascribed to this belief too. As Regent he had ever tried to guide his people along the paths of peace (7) and, but for agreeing to let his army join the Allied Peoples in their fight to defend themselves against Gwar’s mobs during The Last Great War half a century ago, the citizens of Arbola had enjoyed peaceful times throughout Rian’s leadership.
But now they want me to condone Nathily walking The Way of the Azora? Rian closed his mind against the vision. The girl is but a child. She’s not ready to make the life-long commitment required to become an Azora. It’s simply unthinkable!
Rian well knew that no Amorae had ever set foot in the Glade of Gazza – that secret training ground for Azora warriors. Even he didn’t know where The Glade was located – nor did he want to. In spite of the Azoras or the Protectorate, blood and death were not often spoken of in common elvish society. In fact, most Amorosi never knew the need to fight and they tried to avoid anger at all costs – for they well knew the dangers of both.
Besides living in a peaceful locale, the Amorosi as a people were a rather elegant race. Their peoples had physical charms – fine features, tall, slim bodies, beautiful, flowing hair, and dark, earth-toned eyes. They were highly cultured – enjoying the creation of art, the spinning of a sublime poem, the pursuit of Harmony with Nature, and the composition and production of pleasing music. And they produced valuable goods – shipping their wares throughout TerrVerde – to include clothing, pottery, art work, and even furniture. (8)
If Rian could have is way, he would have preferred to see his people live in carefree peace, apart from the world, and focused on harmonizing themselves with their forest world while paying tribute to their chief gods Pan and Alyssa. The regent was not alone in this belief – for many of his people felt the same.
Yet Rian knew this was not possible – like the rest of his people, he respected the command of their matron Alyssa as it was recorded long ago in The History of the Ages. The goddess proclaimed her people to be “Protectors of the Light” and she beseeched them to not shirk their duty to protect the goodness of the world she loved – a world she’d specifically chosen to abide in. That meant that while elves like Rian might detest violence and discord, they couldn’t deny the fact that Baal-Zebub and his godlings (like me!) had brought evil to their world and if the Amorosi did not oppose these masters of destruction, then Alyssa warned that, in time, all would be lost, including their beloved forest havens. As a result, the Amorosi taught themselves the ways of warfare. (9)
Wars may be a necessary evil of this world. Rian lamented. But that doesn’t mean I have to let Nathily be a part of them. And he resolved to do whatever he could to stop the Azoras from getting his daughter.
For her part, Nathily continued to await the official sanction that would grant her the ability to train as an Azora pupil. Although the time was dragging, she trusted in her goddess Alyssa and believed that all would be well in the end.
As part of her communal upbringing she spent long hours studying her people’s History of the Ages, particularly with her grandfather Dallegheri – who, besides being Advisor Emeritus to the Arbola Council, was also the Librarian Extraordinaire of Arbola and Lore Master General.
Wise but withered, Dallegheri was the oldest known Amorosi in recorded history – having recently passed the eleven century mark! (10) It was only natural then that this sage would seek to impart this knowledge to his only grandchild and (when he wasn’t reading or sleeping), the ancient elf regularly sought Nathily out.
Frail and small, with gray eyes that peered out from a wrinkled visage, Dallegheri was in fact so old that his hair had actually faded from white to a more ancient-appropriate yellow-white. His skin, brittle to the touch, had begun to sag on his face – it had long since lost its “elvish glow” — and in truth, now seemed to match the faded colors of the librarian’s beloved parchment papers he was ever reading.
Dallegheri was, in short, a living relic. (11)
Truth be told, sometimes young Nathily grew weary of listening to the ramblings of her grandsire and his meandering history lessons — for the budding elfess was just starting out on her life’s journey and like most youth, she assumed she had more than enough time for lessons like this in the future. Unfortunately for Nathily, while many of the friends were frolicking their days away in the forest, she oft found herself saddled with her grandfather — for when the most learned person in your culture is a member of your family, it is sometimes impossible to escape.
Even without the private teachings of Dallegheri, Nathily knew how special Arbola Forest was to her kind. Like the rest of her close-knit community she had always tried to cherish the woods in which she lived – so alive with the many animals and ageless trees that surrounded her and gave her people shelter. The innocent young elfess could not imagine a better place in which to begin her life’s journey, for, as Dallegheri had always said, “Arbola in the east, the land of enchanting peace.”
Over the years, she learned from her grandsire that Arbola Forest was a huge natural setting, dominating the lands of lower Pennal (12) – nestled against the eastern edge of the TerrVerde continent, Arbola was just south of the old but sturdy Tanner’s Bridge, a massive structure for its time that traversed the ancient River Eld. The bridge also divided the great Easton-Weston Road, and although Nathily herself had never traveled outside of her home woods, still, she knew from Dallegheri and others that the Easton-Weston Road was a popular travelers’ highway that ran almost the entire length of the continent – all the way to Gor. (13)
Yet, the possible dangers of that road had never mattered much to Nathily (or to most of rest of Arbola for that matter), for her home was so far removed from those ominous western locales that, to most Amorosi, these tales were too distant to cause concern. As for the River Eld, that ancient and slow-moving waterway cut directly through the center of Arbola, and therefore it not only assisted the commercial interests of the elves, but also provided them with a source of fresh water. Yet, more importantly to Nathily and her friends, it gave them a wonderful spot to while away their younger years in carefree play.
Once, Nathily had asked Dallegheri why her people had come to settle in the forests as opposed to other locations in the world. Her grandsire smiled sweetly, the lines of centuries falling away to smooth his face, then he closed his eyes and answered…
“Dear Nathily, it is because of the Arbols.”
In time, Nathily herself began to learn that it was indeed the many and varied arbols (the Trees) that gave Arbola Forest such wondrous appeal to elvenkind. She discovered that more than a few of the Amorosi had devoted centuries of their lives simply to the study of the various arbols that thrived in that wood; from the numerous pines and firs that were evergreen, to the mighty oaks, and the useful ash, pazziera and yu, they admired them all. Too, those same trees had not only given a home to her people, but also to their animal friends. In Dallegheri’s words, “it is the very confines of our forest that have helped the Amorosi to grow ever closer to our fellow woodland brothers and sisters.”
Initially Nathily had thought that all forests were the same, yet the lore master corrected her.
“Our home is a forest of light, unlike dark Chakor in the Stax,” Dallegheri taught her. “In Chakor, the mighty trees might reach incredible heights, yet their peril is grave, for the arbols there have lost their way. The hand of evil has stolen their essence and forced them to huddle together against their will to shut out the light from above. In Chakor, the arbols have no soul. It is very sad, my Nathily.” After a pause, Dallegheri went on, “Yet fear not, young Amora, for just like Regalis – with its countless orchards of cherry, apple and peach trees – and southern Meridia – palmy home of the High King of the Elves and Our Goddess Herself – your Arbola is a place that rejoices in the light. Here we bask with the arbols in the sun’s life-giving rays of peace and hope. Yes, Nathily, despite the cares of the outside, our three enchanted forests still remain safe havens for the Amorosi against the evil darkness of Zebub and his cruel godlings. But, it wasn’t always this way…”
Over the years, Nathily learned much from her grandsire, the keeper of the History of the Ages for Arbola Forest. On many at quiet night at her family’s home, did she and her foster parents Rian and Fara listen to the great Dallegheri speak of their people’s past. Sometimes because her parents forced her to, sometimes because she was actually quite interested, yet always, did she learn and grow with the stories of her elder.
Yet, it was during the turmoil that surrounded the time period when she first learned that she was to become an Azora warrior, that Nathily oft found herself searching for answers. For as she grew older, Nathily soon learned that she was different then the other Amorae — for Nathily discovered that she was to become the first female Azora!
All of which gave her a desire to study more about the history of her people. Thus did she search for her grandfather yet again.
- It makes you wonder, huh?
- I know what you’re thinking, “Hey Azazel, you have green eyes that glow too. Are you the father of Nathily?” Let me assure you that I am not Nathily’s father. While Nathily’s eyes were special, they were different from mine. They were also different from the other members of her race, for whereas most Amorosi had dark eyes that matched the colors of the earth – dark brown, forest green, or ocean blue being the most predominant shades – Nathily’s were unique. And even her adoptive grandfather, the infinitely wise Dallegheri, who claimed to have “seen it all,” was at a loss as to be able to explain how Nathily had acquired this difference. Yet it was a beautiful “mutation” for which Nathily was often admired, for her eyes were quite striking to any who looked her way. See what I did there to misdirect you? No. OK, let me take some pity on you and reveal this much at least – Nathily’s mutation did involve a god…or should I say goddess? If you can’t figure it from there, that’s on you.
- Recall that, as the children of the Goddess Alyssa and the man Adam, the Amorosi measured their lifespan in centuries.
- Besides the Myz knights of Kagor in the far west, the Amorosi Azoras were by arguably the best trained and most highly skilled fighters in the world. Granted, for the money, I’d still bet on the myz I created for Gwar, but I’ll give credit where credit is due – they may not have fought with the barbaric ferocity of the Pietromi dwarves or the wicked blood-lust of Gwar’s Myz, but the Azora were still badass fighters! They possessed not only the deadly speed inherent in the lithe, athletic bodies of their race, but also the finely honed skills that could only come when one devoted centuries to learning the arts of war – that gave them the chance to acquire knowledge and skills that neither the myz, dwarves, or anyone else on your planet had the time to learn and it caused the Azoras to become known as the masters of the battlefield.
- Personally I thought he was a bit of a wet noodle.
- The Amorosi had two main fighting forces – the Protectorate (made up of males and females from throughout their society who served for a decade or so at a time as part of their community service duties) and the Azoras (a far smaller group who devoted their entire lives to learning the Art of War). The Azora warriors had been formed long ago with the goal not only to protect the goodness and beauty of all of Terra – since the maiden folks (The Amorae) were part of the beauty they sought to protect, it was also decided long ago that only Amorosi males would be Azoras. Because The Way of the Azora was a life long committment it was a de facto loss of innocence as well – yet those who chose to walk that path did so in the belief that felt their sacrifice was worthwhile by saving the grace of their females. While that might sound all well and good, it was a completely sexist belief if you ask me.
- Given that Arbola Forest was situation in the far eastern portion of TerrVerde, and thus removed from the war-torn regions of the western side of the continent, no war had ever reached Arbola itself, thus Rian’s pacifistic policies were rather easy to continue.
- Elvish furniture was made with pazziera leaves – the inner materials that gave their furniture a softness unmatched in quality. Pazzierra leaves could only be harvested in Arbola Forest from Pazziera trees (now long since extinct) and because of their limited supply, Amorosi furniture was always in short supply – the elves sold it to buyer who visited them for a reasonable price, but once it got into human hands, that same furniture commanded exorbitant prices on the black market. Because their furniture was often ‘out of stock’ the Amorosi’ main trading exports were the garments they produced. From silky robes, to durable tunics, to hooded travel capes, their clothing was always in demand by the humans they commerced with. The elves shipped out the same styles that they themselves wore on a daily basis, and while the colors did not rank high on man’s fashion list — usually dark browns and greens, or tans, duns and russets meant to blend in with the forest surroundings — still all were well made, very comfortable, and long lasting. No human clothier could have ever competed with the quality of the Amorosi and therefore the elves’ clothes (although in greater supply) still commanded high prices on human black markets as well. In short, it was humans who got rich off the work of the Amorosi. Some things never change, huh? Yet the Amorosi cared not for wealth, nor did it matter to them who dominated the market for their goods – instead the elves engaged in trade to maintain good relations with their allies and to keep their information lines open in order to protect their beloved forest realms.
- Although pacifists like Rian did their best to keep all wars in check.
- 1109 to be exact!
- I actually found his appearance quite beautiful – I always loved people who started to look like me!
- In modern day spatial terms Arbola was around 60,000 square miles.
- From the exciting port city of Primcitta on the east coast in Pennal, the famous wayfare ran a route right through the heart of the main kingdom of the dwarves at Rhokii Pass, until it came out again on the far side of that stronghold, where it turned into the Drokka Passage roadway. That highway then led to the dangerous Antarez Ford crossing at which it finally merged with the Nazir-Gor Trail, which — among other fearsome destinations — led mainly to the Boogiti capital city of Babel on the very borderlands of Gor and Kra in the far west!