Nobody asks to be a monster. Nobody asks to look others in the eye and see only revulsion, loathing, and fear. Nobody asks to be unwanted, outcast, ostracised because they will never be more in the eyes of others but the monsters others think them to be. Nobody here asked for lycanthropy, it was something inflicted upon them.
I wander how people would act towards me if they knew I had no soul; would they fear me, hate me, shun me? Would I end up in a prison like Kerbol’s Hollow? For this village is a prison, but it is also a sanctuary; built to keep the innocent people safe from the monsters within, and the innocent monsters safe from the people without.
Kerbol’s Hollow lies hidden in a valley east of the Silaseli ruins in Northern Bangkorai, and is only accessible through a small cave in the hills. I’ve listened to many camp-fire tales about this secluded village, the most intriguing being that it holds the secret to curing all sorts of ailments. Of course these tales are rarely more then bruit and fable, but usually there is pith of truth to be found at their heart.
As I carefully traverse the wending path down into the rustic village below, I am warned not to stray into the woods beyond, with little more explanation offered then it is for my own safety.
The village square itself is far busier then one might expect for such a small hamlet. The villagers however are wary of my arrival and the mayor offers little more then crisp hospitality and breviloquent responses to my inquiries. The whole village is reticent to outsiders and their questions, yet makes little effort to hide that it has secrets to be kept.
The thing I’ve noticed about secrets is, people rarely want to keep beauty hidden, only ugliness and immorality.
The Voice of the Forest, an aged and wise Spriggan whose power and influence over the beasts of the Viridian Woods should not be underestimated. Yet she is bound by a pact older then even herself, so when the Viridian Sentinel requests a bud freely given from her branches to save the life of a princess, she, albeit grudgingly, accedes.
The Wyrd Sisters too, despite believing the pact broken by the Sentinel’s misuse of the forests powers, play their part in the ritual. And finally the Sentinel himself gives up the last of his power, his final essence, and passes from Nirn forevermore. Yet it is still not enough, and I must help the princess become the new Sentinel, lest she too will die.
Yet both the Voice of the Forest and the Wyrd appeal to my conscience to destroy the enchanted Spriggan’s bud. For they say man was never meant to have rule over the wilds, for he cannot know the will or the needs of nature. To them the pact is unnatural, a centuries old abomination of nature’s true spirit, that I could end here and now. For they argue the princess was destined to die anyhow, and what is one life weighed against the subjugation of so many.
Perhaps a week ago I might have agreed, but what is our conscience but the the fruit of our perception. Having seen what the Wyrd sister did to the Sergeant’s daughter in front of him, and their willingness to let this innocent die without compassion… nature by its very nature knows not pity, knows not remorse, knows not empathy and knows not the value of a life.
Perhaps these wilds are in need of a gardener after-all.
To most of Tamriel the Viridian Sentinel is little more then a fairy tale Bretons tell their children to help them sleep at night. But to the peoples of Northern Bangkorai, he is very much a living guardian that walks amongst the trees to keep the wilds at bay.
Whilst the Sentinel guards the people from the wilds, it is the Wyrd Sisters who guard the wilds from the people. As such the two share little trust and there is a constant tension, a silent conflict that only an ancient pact keeps in check.
Yet when the Sentinel uses the power of the forest to save the life of a girl, the Sisters consider the pact broken, and as the guardians power begins to wane, the wilds are gathering upon the forest edge… watching and waiting.
I tread soft, for the flowers are at my feet,
I bend low, for leaves hanging upon the bough;
gentle pollen, like incense breathed upon air so sweet,
grass, thicket, tree and bush, I protect and endow.
To man I am a vision, or perhaps a waking dream,
I hath my hiding places among a thousand trees;
across meadow, up hill, and over still stream,
guarding shoots yet to dance upon summers breeze.
Yet from taproot to bark, I feel only regret,
that our saplings and seedlings never have known;
where our bowers once blossomed, and now I fret,
that this dance be our last, before we are stone.
Grass, thicket, tree and bush, I protect and endow,
gentle pollen, like incense breathed upon air so sweet;
I bend low, for leaves hanging upon the bough,
I tread soft, for the flowers are at my feet.