The Dark Elf

Neblina and her animals had brought the forest back to the light. Trees, flowers, bushes, and brambles all grew in their own right again, and the creatures of darkness fled. While the forest would still be feared for countless generations after this, a few brave souls ventured into the Neblina Forest to find their own way in life. Druidic circles around the world were in awe of the Neblina Forest and cherished the work that Neblina had done. Some druids made pilgrimages to the forest to pay their respects to their legendary hero. After centuries, one druid chose to remain in the forest and protect it. She wanted to ensure that the Neblina Forest would remain an honorable monument to the one who stood up against a dark power and died to save the world.

A tower was erected in the center of the forest atop the foundation of a ruined cultist temple. It was build of new stones cut from the mountains and blessed by the druid. Paths were made for travelers, though the druid cast powerful magic on these paths to keep them hidden from all except those she deemed worthy to enter. Her rubric for worthiness was simple: if you harmed the forest or its citizens, you would forever lose your way. Those that knew of her work called her the new master druid of the Neblina Forest and lauded her efforts to heal the land. When her time came, the druid passed the mantle of master druid to one of her children, charging them to protect the forest and help it grow.

Generations passed and the memory of the tragedy of Neblina was lost to time. Travelers permitted by master druids had occasionally found the ruins of the cult’s fortress, but none dared to enter. Even the master druids forgot the stories. The small coffer of disease in their fortress was never found.

After some time, a new master druid would take up the mantle and become the protector of the Neblina Forest: a dark elf boy named Deng. Deng and his parents had escaped the Underdark and its twisted religious zealotry. They unfortunately learned that he surface world was as unjust and unkind to them as the Underdark was, and Deng’s parents were killed in a skirmish. Deng fled to the Neblina Forest out of pure desperation, and was immediately lost. He collapsed in anguish, exhausted, and left himself to perish. Strangely, he noticed that as he wept in the rain, the leaves seemed to shift above him, and the ground at his feet became apparently softer. Berries were growing on the bushes near him, giving him nourishment. While he was astounded, Deng was found by the master druid of that time, a human woman named Elvanoria. Elvanoria nursed Deng back to health and offered him refuge. Confused as to why a human would aid a dark elf, Deng stayed with Elvanoria out of curiosity and fear.

Elvanoria taught Deng everything she knew about the Circle of the Land. At first, Deng’s interest was so that he could learn to speak to his cat, Tom. But as time went on, the value of nature became apparent to the boy and he felt an almost religious pull to it. The Neblina Forest had spared him. It gave him shelter. It gave him life. And now, after years learning with Elvanoria, it had given him peace. He devoted himself to the Neblina Forest, beautifying it wherever he stepped. When Elvanoria eventually passed, she conferred the mantle of master druid to Deng.

Deng’s tenure as master druid was met with an almost constant state of peace. The forest was still feared by many for its mysterious, ever-changing paths, but those who dared to cross its borders were quickly judged by Deng. They were either shown the way to where they needed to go, or the paths returned them to where they had come from. Deng believed that his race, the dark elves, were proud but bloodthirsty. He sought all his life to change that image, if not for his people, for himself. The denizens of the forest laughed and cheered when he passed them by. Their master, unlike any other before him, never carried weapons nor adorned himself in armor. Deng walked barefoot through the forest, each step creating flowers in his path.