Forestals are - or were (things get a tad confusing what with all this time travel) - powerful nature spirits, or perhaps more like tree elementals that have tasked themselves with preserving the great forests of the Land.
Appearance and Character
All original Forestals manifest themselves as elderly men, silver of hair and long flowing beard (a thing which may make rampant feminists cry blatant sex discrimination, but however). They are typically clad in robes of the purest opalescent white samite, bedecked with living garlands of woodland flowers and carry staves formed from the living boughs of the trees that they have pledged to protect with all their might and main.
Despite being of common purpose, Forestals do vary in personality, ranging from the relatively engaging to the downright murderously grumpy. However, any Forestal will instantly turn truly psychopathic with hatred and rage if confronted with any of the three Ravers, those unclean spirits that serve the Despiser, which have been named as slayers of trees by the leafy guardians. Forestals also may
decide to take destructive action against any human who does not respect their laws while wandering through any of their domains. Vegan they may be, flower-loving they certainly are and tree-hugging is one of their favourite pastimes, but despite this hippyish aspect of theirs, never EVER upset a Forestal, even by accident. Don't forget - they are rampaging eco-mentalists (with the emphasis on both rampaging and -mentalists). Anyhow, these beings are so green that they make even Al Gore look like a cross between the chief advocate of India's oil-fired power station expansion program and an obsessive baby panda hunter.
Forestals draw their considerable theurgy from the vast semi-sentience of the forests which they have entrusted themselves to ward. Much of their sorcery is enacted via song, with such lore-wise and long-lived entities being capable of deeds of much wonder... and, on occasion, of much dread.
The origins of the first forestals are lost in the mists of time - however, here is what is known, or at least believed.
Eons ago, long before the arrival of the first people, the entire Land was covered in trees. This unimaginably large one forest was equally unimaginatively known as the One Forest... gee, whoda thunk? Such was the vastness of this expanse of arboreal life that it achieved its own form of semi-sentient consciousness - utterly unlike the ephemeral self-awareness of humanity. The mighty forest's 'thoughts' (if so they may be termed) moved far slower and reached far deeper than that of mankind, with seasons, years, decades, centuries and even millennia passing in what must have seemed like the merest blink of an eye, from the trees' point of view.
Then mankind came to the Land and, prompted by the malign whispering of the Ravers, started to fell huge sections of the One Forest in order to build their habitation and farm the land. The One Forest was in the process of being split apart and divided into differing smaller (yet still vast) sections by such slash and burn activities. It was then that the Forestals came into being, incarnating from the trees' own hazily perceived yet urgently pressing need. However, the Elohim add a little to this tale - the haughty fey-folk maintain that the One Forest was only able to call the Forestals into being because it acquired mystic knowledge from the Elohim imprisoned within the Colossus of the Fall. Mind you, those airy-fairy snobs do like trying to take the credit for anything worthwhile that occurs, so it is unknown how credible this additional claim is.
The following list comprises the names of all known Forestals, the domains that they protect (or protected) and their origin. All but the last two are no more by the conclusion of The Last Dark:
- Caerroil Wildwood - Garroting Deep - original Forestal.
- Cav-Morin Fernhold - Morinmoss - original Forestal.
- Dhorehold of the Dark - Grimmerdhore - original Forestal.
- Syr Embattled - Giant Woods - original Forestal.
- The Magister - Andelain - original Forestal.
- Caer Caveral - Andelain - formerly Hile Troy. Created as a Forestal by Caerroil Wildwood.
- Caerwood ur-Mahrtiir - the entire Land - formerly Mahrtiir of the Ramen. Created as a Forestal by Caerroil Wildwood.
- The remnants of the ur-viles and the waynhim - the entire Land - transmogrified into Forestal apprentices under Caerwood ur-Mahrtiir via absorbing the souls of lost women previously trapped within She Who Must Not Be Named.