• Published 16th Sep 2018
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Timberwolves: Guardians of the Everfree - Keystone Gray



A research paper on the timberwolves, exploring their creation, purpose, and their connection to the Everfree Forest.

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2. Introduction of Relevant Species, by Blackthorn

Introduction of Relevant Species

By Blackthorn


Lament for the Lost

Quantem, nyei kie leken destra,
Iy krahtt na nyei drema, sketra.
Quar 'yuut nyali loktat nyu tem?
Leka nyu eva in chel fehm?

Nai smosha soh sah yeletkai
soh sikna messta fror nyx nyu.
Bel nai reptem pishva na qua
nyu'uut na nyeli vel Vorku.


Origin of Wisps

To truly understand a Guardian of the Evavrai, one must understand the food they eat.

When the life of the forest fell under Sombra's darkness, all creatures were trampled, be they magical or otherwise. Our ancestors watched helplessly as their lands were ravaged bare. The vessels of their kin were pierced, and our life oozed into the mouths of our enemy. Holy sites and burial grounds were defaced, blackened, and ruined by the tantabus army, lost forever.

As we were driven to the edge of extinction, our sacrifices mounted. But in the wake of our humility, we found that the sacrifices were not for naught. For in unleashing the Guardians, the Teikyun, many lost spirits were reclaimed, returned to the forest for all of eternity.

In the wake of the final battle, the ghostly white wildlife that fled the specters gradually manifested, wandering the forest and becoming permanent fixtures in our territories. They appeared to be all of the creatures once slain by the enemy. The will-o-the-wisps were born. But unlike the dark specters before them, these ghostly rabbits, foxes, birds, and others only gently fed upon the magic of the forest. They were not aggressive, but passive, retaining the mannerisms of their former selves and preferring to avoid others as any wild creature does.

As they travel the forest, they collect its energy. When appropriately gorged, the wisps turn from white to ethereal blue, becoming more lively, active, sometimes aggressive, and finally tangible, capable of interacting with our world once more. This was similar to the Ursa, the two gigantic bear-like wisp creatures which had roamed the Evavrai before the war. Most curiously, the Ursa themselves had returned as well, but their behavior had drastically changed.

Soon, all wisps began to drain the forest's power with increasing speed. The shadow had returned.

As we stood witness to the creation of tens of thousands of creatures of all shapes and sizes, we were at a loss about how to respond. They exhibited traits analogous to our darker foes, and so these new beings thus terrified our two nations, challenging our very belief systems and ways of life.


Study of Prey

Consider the tale of Hemlock, the last Priest of the Ursa Minor.

The deer of old worshiped the two Ursas, seeing them as oracles of change. Behavioral analysis of these creatures had always revealed when something was amiss somewhere in its territory. The prestigious position of Ursa Priest was one of only two; Minor, and Major. Hemlock's charge was to follow his appointed Ursa, to chronicle its travels and habits, and to note any changes in their behavior to the Kahl at once. Because these Ursal observations often led to sweeping changes of national policy, Order records have been exceptionally well preserved through the Old Ages, and so we have come about the journals of Hemlock.

After the death of his Ursa Minor by Sombra's horde, Hemlock was distraught, for his duty was his life's work of fifty some years. To express his anger and allay his depression, Hemlock immediately turned to documenting the Dark War. After, when the Ursas returned as wisps, Hemlock was elated, happily resuming his charge. He followed his appointed Ursa as before.

Curiously, it began small, though it was unmistakably the Minor, positively identified by the star-like constellations visible in its ectoplasm. But despite its small size, it grew as it fed, and it grew, and grew... and Hemlock followed, watching in confusion as it outgrew even its former size. Left unabated, he noted, it would soon rival the old Ursa Major, and in its wake, the forest began to wither once more. Hemlock knew in his heart of hearts that something was wrong, that something must be done, but at first could not accept this, blinded by the sheer joy of his Ursa returning from the grave.

Then, on the fourteenth day of his resumed duties, Hemlock watched helplessly as the great Ursa Minor was challenged by a dozen Vorku. They were united in purpose, barring its passage, attacking relentlessly as soon as they had arrived. The Ursa was rent asunder before Hemlock's very eyes.

His fury was matched only by his confusion.

"There I stood," Hemlock writes, "in the presence of my god, which had turned on us and consumed the Forest's Soul. There I stood, watching the Vorku teeth dig into its pelt, gnash at its constellations, and shatter them into sparking flashes that dazzled the eyes. The Minor roared with a fury and pain unlike any other, helpless as a wounded bird before rats. The Vorku pulsed green as they ate, no doubt satisfied. I called out to them, begging them to cease, but my pleas were ignored. In that moment, a conflicting feeling frightened and challenged me: Of relief, for the Ursa's betrayal was over. Immediately distraught at this feeling, I wanted to resign my Priesthood and to leave the Order in shame. My entire life's work was challenged, and now seemingly invalidated for the second time this year.

"Was I loyal to my beloved Ursa? Yes. Was I loyal to the Forest? Always. But would I dive into action to defend Her against the Vorku, hurling potions, locking antlers, surely giving my life to save my deity which had forsaken us? I could not, with my old bones. I was lost, despondent, unable to rise against the whims of this new force of nature, barely capable of comprehending its meaning. So I did only what was natural, and what I have always done. I watched and recorded, as was my duty."

When it finally died, the Ursa shattered into mist, and its magic was released back to the land.

The silver-blue energy exploded in all directions, blinding Hemlock for moments. It cast the grass up, the green blades growing three times their height in mere moments. The branches of trees were suddenly laden with fruit of all kinds. Flowers sprouted from the ground, bloomed, and blossomed in seconds. The sheer amount of power released by the mighty Ursa was so great that the forest absorbed it for nearly a full mile in each direction, and the path of decay wrought by its travel was immediately restored. Hemlock leapt with fright as the light came for him, his own body launched aside as a strawberry bush appeared from the dirt beneath his very hooves.

The Vorku could not eat all of the spectral magic, so full as they were, as their capacity was naturally limited by the size of their golems, and so the excess was returned to the land. With their duty completed, they left, bounding swift and silent into the night, returning home to their deer and pony caretakers that very evening.

Hemlock's study of this phenomena was the first of its kind. Soon, when he understood what had occurred, his fury faded away entirely, replaced by his own studious drive. Lacking his Ursa Minor, he was left with nothing to study but the wisps and Vorku themselves.

He came to note that this growth and propagation of forest bounty occurs each time a Vorku feasts upon a wisp, even those as small as a rodent. The larger the wisp, the larger the bounty. A small rabbit wisp might, upon dispersal, provide one or two pears or apples, perhaps even just one bush of strawberries if the wisp is sufficiently charged. All of the fruit is real, tangible, edible, succulent, safe, and well sought after for its flavor. Deer had begun to eat the fruit, as did the living creatures of the forest. The Vorku thus made collection of food simpler than it had ever been. All living forest creatures, both sapient and not, now thrived in the wake of our Guardians, our herbivorous hunger becoming a long forgotten concern.

When the Ursa Minor manifested for a third time, Hemlock did not resume his ancient and most revered traditional duty. Under the new order of the Vorku, he knew all had been changed. To chronicle the Guardians was Hemlock's new responsibility, so ordered by Kahl Alpine, restructuring the Order into its new and current form. In the final eight years of his life, Hemlock would dedicate himself fully to the study of these changes. From his writings, we drew much of our first knowledge of this new ecology.


Wisp Life Cycles

Formerly consumed wisps spawn anew under new cycles of the moon, casting awake at dusk and thriving until late morning. They will then absorb themselves into a tree to hide among its energy, safe from the sun and Vorku during the day. Vorku are thus most active at the same hours as wisps, hunting until they are either full or until the hunting period expires, though they may forgo a hunt if wisp populations are low or if the Vorku are at an energy surplus.

The intensity with which a wisp will feed on the forest depends entirely on the state of the moon. At full or waxing moon states, wisps grow rapidly and regenerate to a full state, turning full blue within minutes of manifestation. At a new or waning moon, the wisp population is at its lowest, and they will feed more slowly upon flora, first appearing as a white cloud for days or even weeks until they can gather enough energy to sustain a more steady form.

While we have a dearth of knowledge regarding wisps in their corporeal state, little is known of their regeneration process after they are fed upon. More strange to us is that deer or pony wisps have also never been observed, neither now nor in the records collected just after the war. Perhaps they are still out there, avoiding contact in some of the older ruins now long lost to time; others posit that their souls live on within the Vorku themselves, or perhaps have always been there to begin with. These are but two prevalent theories, each with their own issues and flaws, and so this topic remains a heated debate among deerkind.

No matter what that truth might be, this truth is certain: in the wake of the Dark War, the ecology of the Evavrai was indelibly altered by the relationship between the Vorku and their wisps. Today, there would be no forest without the Vorku, there would be no Vorku without the wisps, and there would be no wisps without the forest. Together, they now form a permanent and symbiotic connection with our homeland.

Author's Note:

[Michael Salvatori - Ikora]

All adult deer in the Dierkahl are competent militia, as their survival in the harshness of their land depends upon strong education in scouting and survival skills. Should the Dierkahl be called to war, every citizen rises up, every one a viable, dutiful soldier.

Conversely, the Royal Dierguard is small, consisting of around two hundred soldiers who safeguard royal interests, serving as the Dierkahl's only official military arm. In wartime, they function as regional officers, each assigned to command a different warren or district, with villages serving as units and community leaders functioning as unofficial non-commissioned officers.

In peacetime, each member of the Dierguard is a scientist in their own right. They commit fully to a study of choice, specializing in one or more natural management skills: alchemy, botany, ecology, geology, fire dynamics, and others. Personal research projects are often encouraged by the Kahl, for knowledge is life, making it a trait valued above all else in their kingdom.

Terms:

Vorku: Timberwolf.
Teikyun: Guardian or Warden.
Kahl: Heart, or King (when referring exclusively to the Dierkahl ruler).
Kehl: Another ruler who is not the Kahl, oft used by deer to title the Equestrian princesses.

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