The Legend of the Moonshadow Glens

Colt could only remember shadows of memories of The Forest Home.  Most of his life was an eternal blackness in the orc mines.  Only the kind smile of his mother, and the concerned eyes of his father haunted his dreams.  Stolen by orc raiders as a child, he only knew pain and toil.  Yet the punishing labor of the orc mines granted him a strong body that made the orcs extra suspicious and harsh.  On some clear mornings, as he marched to the caves, he could see the distant ribbon of shadow on the horizon that was rumored to be The Forest Home.  But even the mention of this distant hope brought instant punishment, by the tears of flogs. 

As a strong fledgling elf, Colt had to escape.  Although concerned for the others, like Star, he knew his flight had to be quick and brutal.  The bloody night came when the shackles were broken, followed by the stab in the back, the smashed orc head, and then the terrifying high leap into the dark, raging river.  The orc pursuit was relentless.  It took three heart-pounding nights to reach the edges of the wild woods.  Yet the orcs knew many of the forest trails and paths, due to frequent raids.  As Colt plunged further into the dark woods, fewer streaks of sunlight could be seen.  His flight could continue without the betraying sun.  Stubborn to avenge Colt’s murder of the Tusk-Son, the orcs continued to search, but with less confidence the more they pursued.   

Colt awoke from the edge of a large black-water pond deep in the dark forest with no memory of how long he had been running.  He could no longer hear or smell orcs.  He felt safe, but not completely.  The forest was native his home, but the woods he now beheld were nothing like his faded memories.  It was an abyssal wood—no stirs of life except the heaviness of giant trees and darkness.   He shivered from the eeriness.  As he collected his wits he saw a glowing blue light emerge from the shadows on the opposite side of the pond.  A creature emerged.  It was not an elf or an orc.  It was a large ram with heavy curled horns.  The blue glow emanated from this creature, as it drank from the pond, looked across the water into the soul of Colt’s eyes, and then slowly retreated back into the woods from whence it came.  Colt felt impressed to circle the pond, and follow the ram.  On that side of the pond, there was a faint path he followed.  After following for some time, he came upon a mysterious cottage tucked partially under a rocky alcove and some giant trees.  There he met, not a ram, but an elf.  An elf wizard—a lonely wizard. 

To Colt’s surprise the mysterious wizard warmly welcomed him.  After feeding him the simplest and tastiest meal in his life’s memory, the wizard showed Colt a vision in the moonlit night sky.   It was Colt sleeping near the black pond.  He also showed a band of orcs still in hot pursuit.  The vision followed Colt awaking, circling the black pond, and following the path—however, with no sign of the ram in the vision—just in time before the band of orcs burst upon the scene of the pond.  The orcs came under the spell of the black pond and lost any memory of why and how they got there.  In confusion, they split up and disappeared into the abyssal woods.  Only doom awaited them. 

Colt spent the next few years as an apprentice of Stiv, the Wizard.  Although a warrior at heart, Colt learned many of Stiv’s token tricks and spells.  Stiv awkwardly tried to show Colt how to use bows, staves and swords too.  But also how to live in the forest, and manage the cottage.  Colt often thought and dreamed of his former life with the orcs, the mines, and Star, but he was happy in his new dark home, with his strange colleague.  Colt seldom met other elves.  They mostly seemed to prefer keeping their distance from Stiv.  Most wood folk didn’t even know Stiv’s name, but didn’t consider him a threat—just strange. 

The black day came when the orcs returned for revenge.  Scouts had been searching for years, and finally found the wizard’s cottage.  When Colt returned from foraging for mushrooms late one evening, he found the cottage smoking and charred, and the body of Stiv was hanging lifeless from a tree.  Colt once again awoke from a deep sleep from under the hanging body of Stiv.  No memory of how long he had been sobbing.  He lifted himself from the dark deep soil, now mixed with blood and tears.  Once again he saw a blue glow emerge from the charred cottage and once again it was an ethereal shape of a large ram.  The ram leaped into the air, and galloped into the heavens.  The wooded canopy was parted just enough for Colt to see the ram dashing toward a group of stars.  As the ram faded into the distance, the stars twinkled brighter and flashed at Colt in the shape of a ram’s head.  The Ram constellation.  Colt suddenly noticed Stiv’s body was gone from the rope.  He no longer felt the terror of his lost friend.  Courage welled within him.  Stiv was a wizard, and his powers clearly endured beyond death.  He was surely a very strange but powerful wizard. 

After Stiv’s departure, Colt rebuilt the cottage.  He employed Stiv’s spells to protect the cottage from further orc raids.  Colt was often seen speaking to the stars as he worked and traveled.  He changed his name to Ramcolt.  Ramcolt’s hatred for orcs never dimmed.  He hunted and ambushed orc trespassers throughout the woods.  Ramcolt collected new allies and friends among the other elves.  His territory, influence and combat skills grew quietly, but purposefully.  He eventually started venturing out and assassinating orcs in their settlements—former taskmasters.  He also rescued Star from her captivity, with a few other former friends he was surprised to find still alive.  His domain was named the Moonshadow Glens.  Spells upon the Moonshadow Glens only permit the faint light of moon and stars to penetrate the canopy of its forest giants.  Star was renamed Starblade and became a master-at-arms and a governess.  New elf wizards joined the throng, and learned Stiv’s spells beyond Ramcolt’s abilities.  The legendary Stiv was renamed the Shadowram, and his ethereal ram form could occasionally be seen strutting through the glens and along the streams.  Some keen elves speculate whether Stiv had planned all this fate from the beginning.   

The Moonshadow Glens have been a prosperous and formidable wood elf domain ever since.  Still with a strong distaste for orcs, they protect their dark home from all invaders.  They carry the Banner of the Shadowram into battle.  With the aid of moon and starlight, the dark woods have enjoyed enduring peace for many years, with Ramcolt and Starblade ever watchful.  Some whispers even claim that the trees themselves have been awakened and have converted the realm into a living nightmare. 

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