Aurora Snowmane (right)
'Nocturnal creatures are not so prudent
The moon's my teacher; I'm her student..."
Shakira Ripoll; 'She-Wolf'
Her packmates always found Aurora rather odd. She did not have fur across all her body like the others did, but parts of her were pink and raw and easily scratched during the play-fights. And she had difficulty running on all her legs. But their den-mother Anesha told her cubs that Aurora was special, and they must treat her with the same respect they would show any other packmate.
In time, Aurora came to know the truth - she was not merely a wolf. Anesha told her she mated with a great grey wolf who walked on two legs, a powerful being who could take many forms - and Aurora was his cub. By the time she came of age, her brothers and sisters had litters and had passed to the Black Wolf with their mother. Sorrowful to leave her pack, she set out to find her father in the world of the two-legs.
She found the mighty druid, Tor Snowmane, and he taught her the ways of their people. The Longteeth were as much wolf as man, and though they remained few, some tribes still dwelt in the frozen forests of the world. Most humans remained suspicious of them, fearing the depredations of werewolves or worse, but they remained a proud, independent people.
Aurora learned their ways, growing taller and stronger than most of her folk. When her father thought she was ready, she was made a Warden, one of the elite defenders of the wild, sacred places. It was her duty to subtly shepherd the humans, to nurture the wild beasts, and to slay the monstrous creatures and unclean races like orcs and goblins.
Like her father, she could take many forms in battle, drawing upon the Dreamtime to wear different skins. She was the only member of her tribe to weild a metal weapon, the Sylvan Scimitar once gifted to her folk by the elves.
With her father's passing to the Black Wolf at last, a new High Druid has risen to lead the Tribes. This leader, Keira, speaks of a time when the Tribes and city-folk alike will be threatened by the horrors of the Far Realm. Now, the best of the Wardens have left the Wilds, to form new packs with the city peoples, to grow strong together and face this menace. Aurora has left her forest home to take the fight to the abominations.
Kuori Wildrunner (left): The histories of the mountain-folk are extensive, but alas, entirely oral. So it is not written how the Goliaths came to be, though most assume they are the union of men and stone giants in ancient days, when magicks made such possible. The goliath people somewhat resemble the stone giants, but are also unique - the patterns etched in their skin are found neither in giants or men, and the goliaths see themselves as children of the gods. They are a rare, secretive people who keep to themselves, dwelling as nomads in the aloof mountain valleys and passes of the world.
Kuori was rare in becoming a totem warrior - the thunder spoke to her and gave her its fury from a young age. Instead of becoming a tent-mother or training as a priestess, the young woman fought alongside the men growing tall and strong.
But the high peaks her people call home are as treacherous as they are beautiful. One day, Kuori was wounded in a rockfall that claimed two others of her tribe. A strange fever set in as her clan nurtued her, and she would not wake. The time came for her tribe to leave the valley before it flooded, and as she did not rise, they performed the funeral rites for her, and mourned her. Then they left, as was custom - the flooded river valley would be her tomb.
But Kuori did not die. As the waters flooded the vale, and thunder rang in the peaks, she woke, and scrambled to safety. But she saw the tomb cairns, and realised she was now dead to her people. Frustrated, she knew no good would come of following them now - she had been painted with ash and was forever dead in their eyes. Shouldering her stone maul, she set out for the lowlands and the tribes who lived there.
There, she found a new home among the humans, elves and shifter-folk who still held to Primal ways. A hammer-swinging giantess would always be welcome in a battle, and she proved her worth slaying many corrupt monsters and orc-kin. When the call came to send warriors to join the city folk against the Far Realm, she answered gladly, happy to roam and meet new peoples.
Kuori is surprisingly calm when outside of battle, far from what city-dwellers think about barbarian warriors. Even while raging, she fights with a fierce, steely focus rather than savage fury. Like most of her people, she is curious, plain-speaking and very competitive, often measuring herself against the warriors with whom she now fights.
The Primal Power Source
Although the great empires have fallen and are recalled only in tales, most cultures nowadays revolve around the few city-states that remain. Only a handful of races cling to the old ways, the path of the spirits and nature. Humans are a young race, still attuned to the ways of their ancestors, though many still dwell in cities and have forgotten their roots. Those who have not dwell in small nomadic tribes, far from high walls and crowded streets. The wood elves, of course, have never forgoten their past, and dwell in small bands in the Wilds still. Unlike their high elven kin, they chose to remain in the natural world, rather than retreat to their faerie home. And tribes of Goliaths still dwell in the high places of the world, caring little for events outside their distant communities. Finally, the shifter people - the Razorclaws and Longteeth - continue to dwell in the remote fastness in family clans, observing the ways of the Wild. Few other races ever connect with the Primal flow. Dwarves and Deva are claimed by their gods, though rumours persist one of the Deva did manage to break their eternal cycle. The high elves and leprechauns are tied too strongly to magic, and the faerie realm. The Dragonborn hark back only to their great empire, and disdain tribal ways. Tieflings, cursed with infernal blood, and the artificial Warforged can never connect with the Primal flow. Strangely, a handful of half-bloods, orc and elf outsiders alike, find homes among the tribes, and become strong in the old ways. The savage races like orcs and goblins never connect to the Primal - although many dwell in the wilderness, they are despoilers of nature, not protectors. They pay homage to evil gods or even demons, not to nature and the spirits.
Though all manner of professions can be found among the tribes, five heroic paths dominate the legends. Barbarians are totem-warriors, who use fury, passion and huge weapons to fight their foes. The Wardens are the elite protectors of nature, who defend the tribe and the sacred places. Shamans comune with the spirits and ancestral ghosts, and are great healers and mystics. Druids are the lore-keepers and tend to be the leaders of most tribes, commanding nature magic and the gift of many forms. Finally, the Seekers are inspired hunters - not of animals for food, but of unnatural horrors and the savage races who would despoil the wild.