The Realm of Forest and Death
Tales By Bob
This realm is the setting for my dark fantasy stories featuring the wolf hunter, Valko Nayden. In feel I hope that it works to fuse more traditional eastern and western European traditions, rather than the strictly western European feel of most traditional fantasy. This is a mostly forested realm, isolated from the rest of the world by the ocean to one side, and fearsome mountains on the others.
Hundreds of years ago the Mayur people (tribes of nomadic horsemen) fled across this ocean from the 'Tormic Invasions.' They found this land empty, though it clearly had once been inhabited by man. They were forced to abandon their traditional ways of life in order to carve out a land for them to live. The fiercest battle came against the massive, supernaturally intelligent wolves of this land. When their king, Boris I, slew Valko, the wolf king, a pact was made banishing these wolves to the distant mountains, enabling the Mayur to create the Konislund. To this day though the forest is filled with all manner of terrors, of which wolves are but one. The Mayur battle daily to survive, creating a hard land of hard people.
In the year 44 the Forest King Vadim the Lawbringer formalized a long held tradition amongst the Mayur, that of the Nayden. It is to this that many attribute to the stability of the Konislund more than any other reform in its almost 500 years of history.
In more barbaric times it was simply that orphans were raised by the chief of whatever Mayur tribe they belonged to. However in the years after the Flight and the founding of the Konislund, the traditional structures of the Mayur broke down. The two dozen or so tribes that made up the people were so scattered or intertwined that it became impossible to delineate the usual tribal boundaries. Add in the massive numbers of orphans created by the Tormic invasions, and the system had become untenable.
Vadim, recognizing this set about the various legal reforms that truly transitioned the Mayur from a group of warring tribes into the nation they are today. One of these was the establishment of the royal family as the ‘Fathers to the Fatherless.’ All orphans, from anywhere within the realm, are given over to the court of the Forest King. It is they who raise them, seeing to their needs and education.
Those who do not know their last name, or cannot find it out are given the name Nayden, which means ‘found’ in the old tongue. They are used as simple servants until the age of 7, when as is traditional among the Mayur, their hair is cut for the first time and they are given their Age Name. Once they have their age name, which marks them as half adults under the law, they are given over to the various guilds and organizations at the discretion of the Master of Tasks.
Most males are given over to the army, while most females become servants to the royal family. Those who are especially clever however might be given over to more prestigious bodies, such as the Kornisburg College or the Guild of Scribes. They are required by law to serve the Forest King until their 25th birthday, at which point they will be given a small monetary award and released from service if they so choose. In truth however very few take this opportunity, content to carry on in service.
The Great Wolves
When the Mayur crossed the sea to land in the great forest, which would become the Kingdom of Konislund they faced many challenges. None however were as fearsome and dangerous as the Great Wolves.
Wolves as smart as a man, and almost twice the size of a normal wolf, these beasts were the bane of the Mayur tribesmen who sought to carve out their settlements. Easily a match but for all but the most able of warriors, and surrounded by packs of lesser wolves, they were capable of destroying entire communities if left unchecked.
The Mayur might have had to seek some other land had it not been for Bors, the first of the Forest Kings. He set out into the forest alone and sought out the lord of the Great Wolves, Valko. Facing each other across the great peak of Kornismount, where the castle of Kornisburg now stands they made a wager. They would fight to the death. If Bors lost, the Mayur would leave the great forest, never to return. If Valko lost, the Great wolves would leave the forest to the mankind, and retreat to the mountains.
It is said that the fight lasted a day and a night, but when dawn rose the next day Bors walked down the peak wearing the great black skin of Valko as a cloak. A fearsome howl tore through he forest, as each wolf sensed the death of their lord and mourned his passing.
The Great Wolves have kept their pact to this day, though they prowl the edges of the mountains, waiting for the day that the blood of Bors no longer rules in the Great Forest, and the pact no longer holds. And as ever, the forest is full of the lesser wolves, a constant thorn in the side of the kingdom.