The Blackwood Campaign Setting
The Tale of the Elder King
A very long time ago, when half of the Blackwood was still saplings, a child was born in the east of the forest. He shined with a great light when he was born, and the sun rises in the East every morning to remind the world of that auspicious moment.
As a child he roamed the forest from one end to the other. He stopped at every campfire so he could talk with the people that lived there. He loved to learn about people, and in time he knew the names of everyone in the Blackwood.
On his journeys he met a great stag with fur as soft as a cloud. Its eyes shone like stars, and glistening moss hung from its antlers. “Climb on my back,” it said to the boy, “and I will show you all the trees of the forest.”
And so the boy did, and they ran together over stick and stone. From the stag the boy learned the languages of every plant and animal. Every animal took the boy as their king, except the wolf, which is too angry and proud to worship anything.
Of all the words the boy learned, his favorites were the words of trees, because they were soft and slow and very beautiful. When an animal would please him, the boy would write his name on the animal’s forehead with the words of the trees. “You are my dearest friend,” said the boy. “Thank you for protecting me and helping me grow.”
When the boy grew up he was beautiful and strong and wise, and flowers bloomed in his wake. Elves would come from every tree and pond to trick him, but he was too clever, and they tired of such hard sport. Before long, the man looked around and said “I have learned everything about the forest, and the people and animals who live here. It is time for me to rule the forest as a king should.” So he patted the stag, his closest friend and servant, on the back and left for the river.
He went to the river, where a great dragon rose to greet him. It coiled like a snake and spread out wings of sparkling mist. River weeds hung from its antlers, and its eyes were like two polished gems. “Climb on my back,” the dragon said, “and I will show you the path to your home.”
And so the man did, and as he looked around he said “This is the Way to my home, and word of all I do will travel down it towards the forest people.”
The dragon carried the man to the very end of the Way, high up in the mountains, to a long lake that reflected the stars even in the middle of the day. “This is your home, my liege,” the dragon said. “You grow old while we are young forever, so you shall be our Elder King.” And the dragon bowed down to the Elder King, and the Elder King wrote his name upon the dragon’s forehead.
And then the Elder King walked to a great cleft in the mountains near the lake. With the help of the trees, rocks, and water, he made a great palace for himself. But he grew very lonely, so he would often visit his friends in the forest.
And all the animals and trees and flowers and people that worshipped him were very sad for the Elder King’s loneliness. They searched through the whole forest, and they found a woman who was wise and confident. All things shined when she looked upon them.
So the Elder King fell in love. He said “If you will be my Queen, we will watch over all of the forest together forever.”
And the woman curtsied and said “You are the wisest and greatest man in the world. I love you dearly, and I will stay with you for all time.”
And so the Elder King and Queen were married, and from that day they have sent their wisdom down from their palace to every corner of the Blackwood.