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We were the first.
We will be the last.

The awakening was gentle. We awoke to changes. Some we expected, some we did not. The Grove was intact and the Bidden had kept their vigil. For that, we were grateful and forgave them for building their homes in the Walking Lands and Hunting Lands that surround the Grove on all sides.

At first, we remembered little of the time before the Great Sleep. We even forgot why we went to sleep. We explored the world with refreshed eyes. Some of us had grown gold leaves and silvery skin markings (Your PC may have these, but doesn’t have to.). We do not know why this has happened, but we find it remarkable. Someday we will remember. There is a storm raging around this land, through which we cannot reach much of First Forest. Hopefully our siblings have awoken safely as well.

That is why we are working so diligently on translating the Tome of Terra, written by Elder Terra, who has not yet woken, or has not made her presence known to us. The stored knowledge of our race is there remembered. But there are very few who can read the old writing, and even for them it is a monumental task. I have copied what has thus far been translated. It is how we will know ourselves.

Our Ways

We rejoice for the turning of the Great Wheel, the stages of the life of the world. To celebrate the seasons is to celebrate life, death, and resurrection. The sun will rise and set and rise again. We blossom, go dormant, and flower again.

In the Warming Time we begin our yearly revels. During the day, we wear special shoes with spikes on the bottom to run races in the fields and stir up the dirt that has become packed over the Winter. Then in the evening, we light bonfires and fill our pockets full of seeds. We dance, spiraling around the fires and scattering seeds with our hands, fall as they may. This is how the year begins. This celebration is open for all to share.

In the Hot Time we celebrate privately in the woods. During the longest day, the children are brought around the forest and shown the variety and usage of all the plants and animals they encounter. We give the children pigments with which they paint everyone’s faces. They are then taken by the older children for honey cakes and story time. Meanwhile, the adults bring the casks of cider that we fermented in the last Cooling Time up from the cellars to open. As the cider flows throughout the evening, adornments are shed. Once the night is dark, we laugh our way to the nearest body of water and swim until the moon is at its zenith. This is often when bondings are taken up, and the happy two or more people steal off back into the woods...

The Cooling Time holds another party where all are welcome. We go into the groves and the fields for the harvesting in the week before the occasion. This day is for celebrating the bounty of the land. People spend the day (sometimes two days) preparing a sumptuous repast to share. There is a neighborly competition for who makes the best fruit pies. In the evening, apples are pressed and the juice set into casks to ferment.

The Cold Time elicits feelings of trepidation. This is natural. When it is cold and dark, we revel in our own warmth. A huge pyre is lit. On parchment or stripped wood we write about things we are ready to let go of, things that need to be culled from our lives, such as resentments, sometimes debts, and this is often the time when a romantic relationships will officially end, and we burn the wood and parchment on the pyre. When the pyre has burned out, we take the ashes and scatter them on the forest floor to send these things we no longer have need of back to First Forest. Then we drink to the rebirth of life and the good new things we have made room for with our ceremony. Outsiders may attend if invited, but they do not often do so. The juxtaposition of solemnity and joy discomforts some.

Birthdays are celebrated in myriad ways depending on the proclivities of those honored. Our dead merge with First Forest and become part of the Great Wheel themselves. We do not bind to one another with contracts, as some races do with what they call marriage. Bindings are celebrated, though privately, and also their dissolution is a time for a tender ceremony as we let go our bond.

Our Laws

When in strife, we speak. It is our custom to settle disputes with words. That is not the time for blood to be shed. In matters that cannot be resolved, we defer to our Elders’ guidance. However, mostly we heed the Rule of the Golden Ones; Do as you will, but cause no harm.

Assault none, but defend yourself and your family as necessary. Speak truth. Do not take unto yourself that which belongs to another. Be fair in your dealings. Remember that you speak with the voice of First Forest, with all the dignity, grace, and mystery you find there. We are not punitive by nature. Encourage and foster gentle ways. Sit your siblings down and speak with them. If they will not listen, gather their friends and family to you, and sit you all down with them and figure out together how best the community may be served. This method is effective with most of us. Once in a great while, you may need to remove someone from the forest. Pack them well with provisions and send them off with love. Their journey will be difficult.
You may awaken knowing what is good and right in the world, yet heed my words. If you learn nothing else from these pages, harken here to this; Necromancy is an abomination. Defend yourself and your home and all the creations of First Forest! If you see anyone casting Necromancy, smite them! If any Child of Autumn or any Bidden is caught calling upon Chaos, woe be unto them! This is the time to shed blood! Obliterate them! If they survive, shun them!

Our Lineage

We were the first sentient beings. There are whispers about a Golden Elf civilization far to the North that might have arisen shortly after us, but we do not know them, nor who they are Bidden to.

We have distinct natures, Barkskin, Reed, Thorn, and Spore. We are many different kinds, yet we are one. The fruit of two may be of a different nature than its parents. The Barkskins, who have affinities with trees, live the longest, up to four centuries. Thorns, partial to flowering plants and grasses, live about a century. The Reeds embody plants that make their homes in and around water, and they too live for approximately one century. Then there are the Spores. Finding home in dark places like fungi, the Spores live but half a century. We do not know why. Nature’s ways are mysterious.

Our families are small. The young are raised by a Guardian Pair, which need not be the parents, but can be. Fostering is common. Guardian Pairs stay together until the child(ren) reach(es) adulthood, then they may separate, should they choose. Relationships follow the cycles of First Forest, and endings are as deeply honored and cherished as their beginnings.

Adulthood is marked by a child’s ability to care for its own needs and leave the home of its Guardians. Living as an adult is its own trial. There is no failure. Children often stay in the home they were raised in until somewhere in their 18th to 22nd year. During that time the child will learn a trade, how to keep a home, and how best to care for First Forest.

Our homes are built from the materials which surround us. We build our homes from woods, mud, stone, and reeds, with varied constructions. It is often difficult for the other kinds to tell our homes from the surroundings and they may stumble up to our doors before they realize that a door is what it is.

We eat of the world around us. Some of us eat flesh and some do not. Nature is not all buds and blossoms. There are thorns and stings and claws. This is true of all peoples, who are iterations of Nature’s workmanship. We have learned the secrets of fermenting apples into cider. Be careful of giving the cider to others; it can open their minds to the breathing of First Forest, the majesty of Nature, and connection to the Great Wheel. This effect is not hallucination, but a clearing of mind that shows the deeper realities of the world...not everyone wants to feel this. (RP only effect)

We Share the World

We have a complex relationship with the Bidden, called Elves. When we rise, there may be some struggles, and we must be ready. The Bidden have pledged themselves to our service, but they may forget us in time. Let not the guardians think to command their masters. First Forest is our home, and they the caretakers while we sleep. The Bidden live in the forest, but they do not speak for it. Yet grant them room and kindness, for they are wise and love First Forest as we do, and First Forest loves them.

Cherish the Yellow Ones. They will not suffer a Necromancer to live, and that soothes our hearts. They are loyal companions and First Forest communes with their Elders. That is no trifle! They do not live long enough for guardianship, but never forget that they are honored by First Forest. Care for them.

Humans must be handled with caution. They do not share affinity with First Forest and their motives are malleable. It takes 10 years to know a human’s worth, and by then their entire being may have changed. A human can be anything. They can be taught. If they are taught incorrectly, it is difficult to change their minds.

Wild creatures have a place in the world. Their natures are birds, beasts, fish, even insects. Kin to the animals, yet with stronger spirits and greater natures, these people can be trusted to exhibit patterns of behavior similar to those of the animal they are attuned to. Know the animal, and it will give you insight to the person.

The Getregen are troublesome. Their nature is that of ambition (which they have taught to many of the humans). Some have been known to cast Necromancy in pursuit of their goals. They are brilliant at what they do. They build and build. They ought learn about the cycles; what is built will one day topple.

What we are to First Forest, the Dwarves are to the Mother Mountain. Hard and hearty, they can be steadfast and stubborn. They have tempers and long memories, but can ultimately be reasoned with.

There may be new peoples by the time we awaken. Be kind, yet cautious. We will seem new and strange to them, as they will seem to us.

Your Author

My name is Terra. May this book find you intact. I am of the Spores, so they call me Elder, though I have seen but 40 turns of the Great Wheel. Hopefully when I awaken, I can remember myself. But I leave this tome in case myself should be lost in the Great Sleep. I do not seek to tell you what to do, only to tell how things are done, so you need not adopt ways that do not suit you. And now I will relate the words given me in my dreams:

Autumn’s Children waxing strong
With all Nature’s prowess
Yet their might must be contained
Power held in promise

Gold and silver tucked away
In dark times resurface
A fitting gift to bestow
On those pure of purpose

So sleep we now will rest in
A necessary pause
For future’s health and mercy
We softly wait the cause
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