An old Ranger, a proud people. Stories stir the forest.
Farthwark used to be much safer. Oh, hush, Iím not that old. Sure, there were always monsters. The closer you get to Darkovia or the Scar, the worse it gets. I hear it was even nastier back when that whole mess in the West... Yeah, thatís the one. No surprise the Frogzard Knights werenít too happy with all the skirmishing, eh? Nobody wants a repeat of that.
But you know that Iím talking about. Weíre practically having to explore this place all over again. Iím not the only old Ranger swearing that the woods arenít the same anymore. Some places got all twisted. Same path winds differently to different people. Havenít found the trail back to my friends at Gul- Alright, alright, Iíll get on with it.
Just donít get creeped out if I sound all different. You might ask me for the stories, but itís the fire what tells them. I donít have that much of a say on which ones get told. Now hush.
They were many, once. Just as importantly, they were as one.
In long-gone days, it was said that nowhere where the light of day shone was safe from the vengeful gaze of the Umazen, for the righteous warrior-tribes were as numerous as the sunís rays and as swift as a fork of lightning. Their cities dotted the continent, and some even took to the seas, ever in pursuit of those who would dare to strip others of their freedom. Havens, bastions... Wherever they settled, the land itself became golden, bristling with energy. The more practically inclined would say that they instead settled where the land favored their power. If only more than ruins remained...
Some elders, and those who enjoy a longer lifespan than most humans, still remember the sight of the Umazen of old. A far cry from the lone roaming warriors of today, whose oft-unchecked aggression waxes aimless when the unending hunt grows long and solitary, these gilded ancestors moved with purpose. They knew when and where to strike, ending the vilest of trades wherever it dared hide.
Some respected allies hold a fainter memory, so much longer than four crowns ago. Respect and unspoken vows keep this story a secret, some holding out for the day when it is no longer relegated to memory. Painful as it be to admit, they must also take care not to let this story reach the ears of those who crave revenge.
For if raiders and slavers are the stuff of cautionary tales, you have the Umazen to thank for that. They did not merely hunt down the wretches wherever they hid - They drove them into their caves and forts in the first place. The Radiant Crusade. It was as if a storm spun from the sun itself marched across the land, a shining scourge to drive away those outlaws that preyed on the younger settlements and the budding sea trade.
Perhaps the Umazen were once themselves slaves, or a past coming of the Devourer birthed a culture of aspiring... if rather zealous... heroes. The farther back one gazes, the harder it is to find someone who can or will say with any truth or certainty. What is certain is that of those bearers of the secret, none foresaw that such righteousness could end in ignominy, secrecy and little but wrath and harried survival amid the remnants of a once proud society.
... Hold on. Play dumb, I think I heard them. We might just catch these bandits tonight. What? As long as you keep the fire going, I should be able to finish it. Now just act like a merchant drooling about the Chosen's coin, or something.