The Tale of the Greyjoy
Hear now, a tale of woe, the tragedy of the druid known only as the Greyjoy! He was once the leader of the Twilight Circle, an order of druids that championed the balance of nature. For without that balance, the natural order would collapse, and the world itself would return to the elemental chaos from which it was formed. Every member of the Twilight Circle was given a duty and an oath to fulfill and uphold. The duty of the Greyjoy was to contemplate, and perhaps, to end the dilemma of war and the pain it caused the earth.
Now the Greyjoy had a twin brother, known as the Greenheart, who was also a druid of the Twilight Circle. The Greenheart’s oath and duty was to protect the circle from harm. In order to learn the necessary combat skills, the Greenheart had to journey alone to the center of the forest and learn from the nature spirits themselves. So he went, and was gone for many years.
During this time, the Greyjoy became increasingly contemplative, endlessly pondering his duty. “How can he protect the earth, and stop the pain that was inflicted upon it every day?” Unknown to his comrades, this question became an obsession, a fiery ember burning its way through his soul. More often, he would leave the circle and ponder this question, determined to discover a solution. In his communion with the natural world, he learned from the fey spirits that this task had been given to countless others, and all had failed. The Greyjoy’s pride was great, and he swore to find an answer, no matter the cost.
When years had passed, the Greenheart returned from his training to discover dreadful news. His brother had forsaken the circle and had departed over a year ago. Even worse, his fellow druids feared that the Greyjoy had seemingly abandoned nature itself. The Greenheart was appalled by this news, and vowed to find his brother and restore him to the natural order. For over a season, he searched the world for news or word of his brother, but to no avail. One day, while travelling, the Greenheart felt a stab of white-hot pain tearing at his soul. He instinctively knew that a place sacred to the Twilight Circle had been defiled, and he raced back to the sacred site with all the speed of the west wind.
When he arrived, he discovered to his horror that an unholy devil named Nephiogresh and scores of his minions from the Nine Hells were feasting on the remains of many of his fellow druids and their animals. Luckily, the devil had not yet seen him and despite the Greenheart’s training, he could not face Nephiogresh alone. In a last ditch effort, the Greenheart reached out to the spirit world and begged for aid in finding his brother. The spirits would show him the way to his brother, but warned him that the Greyjoy was not the same brother he knew. The Greenheart was concerned, but had no choice, for the order would surely perish unless the brothers, the greatest druids of the order, banded together.
The Greenheart came to the clearing where his brother was, and approached the Greyjoy. As the Greenheart came closer, the Greyjoy turned and faced his brother. To his horror, the Greenheart saw that the Greyjoy’s eyes had been gouged out, and great strips of flesh and skin had been torn from his body. The Greyjoy slowly smiled.
“I have found the answer to my riddle, brother. How to keep the Earthmother from harm?! I must purge all inhabitants from this world, so there will be no more wars or destruction. Mankind itself is a plague that harms nature with its needless destruction! In order to ensure this can happen, I have made some . . . sacrifices. I know that the circle would not approve, so they were the first to feel the wrath of my new minions.” As shock and heartache overcame the Greenheart, his brother continued, “I am sorry brother. I can see that you do not approve either.”
The Greenheart brandished his magical staff and the two brothers fought each other with all the fury of nature. The Greenheart’s combat skills may have been enough for victory, but the Greyjoy summoned all the corrupted powers at his command. As the Greenheart made ready to strike his brother down, he felt a stab of pain in his leg. In dismay, he saw a dark red vine burst from the earth and pierce his foot, growing and pushing its way into his flesh. He dropped his staff and writhed in pain as the bloodroot continued to tear through him. The Greyjoy laughed as he watched his brother transform into an unnatural tree, to be imprisoned for eternity.
This tale was told to me by a nameless traveler, soon killed by a falling tree no more than five minutes after telling me this. It is said that the Greyjoy still wanders the wild places of the world, a madman stalking those foolhardy enough to defile nature.