Maelkyth - Rivers Rest

Ah, but where to begin? I could tell you all about the physical trappings that identify "me", but they mean little. I don't wish to do that. I could speak of my birth and such, but most of these events reach back so far ancestrally that it'd be more a lineage history than personal insight, which this is meant to be. Perhaps the best thing would be to discuss all of life's little quirks with me over a cup of tea some time. Since we don't have that luxury, I believe I'll disclose a brief synapses of the events and decisions leading to my professional development as an empath. There is little distinction between my personal and professional choice, as you may come to realize. I pray you forgive me if I need first set the stage with a few backdrops

I was born into this world of my goodly parents, a sylph. A most blessed people are the sylvan, and I am grateful to have been born one. Our families had long settled the Wyrdeep Forest. I was fortunate to be born into a time of relative peace and harmony, sheltered from the expansionary movements of the human empire. A few hundred years of tense and watchful peace existed between my families and the human traders who settled the outskirts of the forest. Few of us yearned to travel abroad, and fewer still to mingle in the affairs of humans or their empire. We were left to our own, and that was fine.

I grew, a carefree sylvan whelp, nestled in the northeastern region of the forest. We lived within the bowl of Wyrdeep, sheltered on most sides by a jutting offshoot of the Southern DragonSpine Mountains. Coastal weather, slowed by the mountains, dumped their moisture onto the slopes and peaks of the DragonSpine, lending to a lush semi-tropical humidity. Freshwater run-off, rainfall, and an abundance of underground sources converged to provide us with a year-round river and water source. It also sustained the great many species of wildlife sharing the forest with us. Reptiles, birds, monkeys, rodents, and many more all lived in a delicate balance amongst the vast resources of this region. Perhaps my favourite were the peacocks, with their brilliant plumage and eerie cries. Often the playful brat, I would burst in amongst them, sending flocks screeching away in panic and frustration as we contended for places to lounge about. Of course, once they figured they were more numerous and nearly as large as I, they would collect at times to drive me off. It was terribly fun, and a mere game for the times we didn't share our preferred places, which was most often the case.

I would climb to roost in the graceful, leafy boughs of diverse species of flora prevalent in the area; though no throne ever held my fancy like that the linden offered. Its great boughs and dense foliage made for ideal comfort. Groundcovers hid the small communities of rodents and other ground dwelling creatures. From my perch, I could watch all and listen to the slow progression of wildlife all around me. The stirring leaves, gentle sway of the forest, and sigh of the winds as they sifted through the woods set my soul at ease. Leaning back to gaze into the skies, blue paling against the jagged profile of the ever-present DragonSpine, I felt my emotions swell until the pain brought tears to my eyes, spilling in great rivulets of joy. While suspended there, I might as well have been cradled blissfully at the center of all Creation. I was incredibly sensitive to Life, and it flowed about and through me with a fervor nearly maddening me. So it was that I heard a call to Aiea's lore, though I did not understand it as such then. To what end? I had neither age nor wisdom to shape any answer at this point in my life. Tragedy provided all.

I was too young to have lived through the last Cabalist incursion, remembered with dread and foreboding by many among our families, in the year 5020. While it did not directly affect our families, the sheer nature and movement of powers brought to bear were apparently astounding. The main thrusts of the undead hordes were aimed not towards our forests, but the southern cities of the Turamzzyrian Empire. A fateful miscalculation at the besieged Elstreth saw a great majority of the Turamzzyrian forces annihilated. Reinforcements arrived to drive back the Cabalists, but at such staggering cost!

I was still very young when rumours of impending war and invasion spread again. In the year 5074, a horde of several thousand undead minions again swarmed against the southern baronies. I was 17 at the time, a mere babe by sylvan standards, and understood little of what was transpiring. Most families remembered all too well the last attacks, and organized to offer what help they could, according to their skills. My father and uncles were among those who bent their bows for the purpose of striking whatever damage they could along the flanks of the encroaching undead armies. My mother, an herbalist, set about to preparing reserves for expected casualties. In short, our world was thrown into total disarray. Perhaps to aid in whatever capacity was needed, or to stay out from under foot, I found constant work in gathering herbal curatives from the region in anticipation of wounded. No amount of anticipation could have prepared me for the grim reality of what followed hard-upon.

The Turammzyrian forces were better organized and prepared to respond this time, but met with a more horrific reality still. The Cabalists came in droves, by the accounts, driven by five liches in possession of the "Sphere of Sorrow". Words fall short. Whether it was the work of this relic or of the dread Luukos, the Cabalists were able to raise the corpses of the mortal fallen to swell their own ranks. Another effect, intended or not, of this magick was to drain the resources on the soul. I could feel it, even from a great distant, sapping at our wills. At one point, a bitterly cold pain pierced my heart. I knew without confirmation that an evil fate had befallen my father. I needed no words, nor could my mother hide the self-same horror from her face. The sickness that lied, festering in her heart, claimed her life a mere month later.

Sickened or not, the wounded and dying came pouring in. The healers and clergy worked frantically to ease the suffering and reclaim those fallen lucky enough to have been retrieved from the battlefield. The horrors of such battle I have not known, but have seen its mark on many a body since that day. Never since that day so severe, or so many

Many of even our most inveterate healers and clergy grew strained beyond their capacity. Slowly, though, the sense of dread and sickness lifted, and the more natural fatigue of physical exhaustion prevailed. Still, the dead and dying piled in, though order seemed to be finally taking shape. Numbed with fatigue, though unable to rest (let alone sleep), I felt myself spiraling to a breaking point. It wasted no time in finding me.

The culmination of my horror lied embodied in the horrifically mangled body of a young human child. I could not take my eyes off her broken body. Presently, I understand her wounds to be inflicted by trampling. I suspect them to be inflicted by panicked refugees to this day, and not the armies of the Cabalists. Perhaps that explains the blight on her soul that I never saw lifted. I'll never know, I suppose but the following forever shaped my life and beliefs, irretrievably so.

As I knelt beside her, I felt moved to comfort her. I was, however, quite apprehensive to even touch her, as every inch of her body seemed covered in bruises and broken limbs, bandaged and oozing. A tough decision had been made by the over-taxed clergy and healers, and I knew she would receive no attention for some time. Those wounded and fallen able to contribute to the effort of healing, reviving, or fighting had, by necessity, priority in being tended to. Yet, I could not leave her side. The exhaustion seemed to seep into my bones and render me immobile. Her eyes, I recall, fluttered to open against the swelling which held them fast shut. Her every movement brought pain and ragged hissing, taken in over her parched lips. My ineffectual tears rose again, and I grew resentful of them. Gazing down on her, I sensed the struggle undertaken. As I grew still moreso, I grew sensitized to "her", as she fought to stave off death. Growing restless with her every effort to regroup, I felt certain that she must fail at any moment. I intended that she not go totally alone and afraid. So it was that I tenderly took her hand, and sent whatever reassurance I could, not even knowing if she knew I was there.

Gently stroking her head, I poured myself out to her, for reassurance and comfort. The sound of her breathing rattled broken in my ears, until miraculously, it steadied!

In the moment it took me to realize this, I opened my eyes to watch her face mend back to health. The oozing from under her bandages stopped, and she seemed to slip into a comfortable sleep, devoid of pain. It was incredible! It was like watching her being created from beyond hopelessness. This same intensity of childbirth and growth condensed into a single moment of wondrous health and repair. For a moment, I was lost in surprise and rapture. Then, intense pain set in A moment after that, I fell to my death.

I felt a warm touch upon what I felt was my heart, the icy chill driven back momentarily. I was in the hands of a competent and benevolent presence, soothing and comforting. From this vantage, I could keenly sense Aeia's presence, the land pooling energies and sustaining the efforts of our mortal attempts. A sense of well-being crept over me, and I rested in it. I awoke to an elder healer tending over me, his frown of consternation shattered by a jolt of surprise. Tears of pain, joy, and confusion poured from my eyes. Having regained himself somewhat, he peered at me with a gaze that meant an answer would be in order later. "You're lucky to be alive, lad." I agreed. I still do.

Years later, after many events which continued to shape and strengthen me, I eventually felt the urge to leave. I set out until I came to River's Rest where I've since discovered my extended family. It is my consummate pleasure to have, and devout wish to maintain these acquaintances for many years to come. Until we meet for tea and idle talk, Aeia keep you, and may your eyes always seek the beautiful

Maelkyth Loarne, esq.

Sylvan Empath