The Bjergrad

BARE-grad

History

Since the Sundering, men have been drawn to the mountains of Norhelm that offer shelter from the invading armies of Urdnar. While it is impossible to say at what time that men learned to draw power from the mountains, certainly druids have been safeguarding the passes and glens for centuries against the ravenous demi-humans of the north. In the early days, druids were generally loners who stumbled into their power, oftentimes men or women whose families had been lost and wandered into the mountains to live, and die, quietly. It was not until the mid-100s that their order began to coalesce, with the first Bjergrad held in 166 AB, a council in which the druids came together to report on the state of the lands they guarded and offer assistance to one another.

Bjergrads continued to be held infrequently until 292 AB, when the forces of Urdnar took Klaring. The druids, who generally only fought the demi-humans when they strayed into the mountains, realized that the day was fast approaching when they may be needed to stand with Norhelm to turn the monsters back. The first High Druid, Arnfinn Sone, was elected in 294, and founded a small, permanent camp called Brynolf in the mountains northwest of Ornulf. He began to expand the druids numbers by making contact with the freeholders who scratched out a living on the mountains’ borders, often accepting children for training from overburdened families.

When Deodor called for aid after his father’s defeat at the Battle of Vilgot, Arnfinn answered. He sent an embassy of senior druids to Deodor’s camp in western Norhelm while launching a hit-and-run campaign against the demi-humans that occupied the center of the country. Druids would leave the mountains in small groups and ambush the monsters’ scouts and supply trains, appearing in the form of merciless wolves and earning them their second name, the Ulvbroder, or Wolfbrothers. When Deodor marched in 305, Arnfinn and a force of 87 druids joined him in the Battle of Skalvor, where they played a key role in preventing the demi-humans’ vargs from routing Deodor’s cavalry.

However, 26 of the hard-to-replace druids died in the battle, and afterwards, Arnfinn withdrew back to the mountains. The losses, combined with the ebbing Urdnar threat, heralded a new and more reclusive time for the druids. While Arnfinn’s recruiting policies were largely kept in place by his successors, the powers of the High Druid waned and no united front was presented to Urdnar.

In recent years, the ascension of King Siggard has re-kindled hope amongst some druids that Urdnar may yet be defeated. However, the entrenched independence of their culture has proven difficult to overcome, and the current High Druid, Leontes, has made limited inroads in convincing his brothers. Siggard himself has sent an embassy to Brynolf to try to establish an alliance but Leontes’ own advanced years and ill health have complicated matters.

Culture

The Bjergrad are in many ways like the mountains they protect. They do not actively rebuff visitors but see no reason to accomodate them. They do not hide their knowledge but see no reason to offer it. They do not look down upon humanity but see no reason to elevate it far above nature as the rest of the world does.

Druids generally carve out a slice of territory which is ‘theirs’; they do not extend ownership over it, but rather take responsibility for it. They police this territory in matters large and small, from demi-human incursions to overhunting. Often, they live alone or with a partner, or with one or more students. Druids have no real conception of ‘marriage’ as the outside world does; while they do practice monogamy, partners simply have the right to leave when they wish without additional ceremony. They frequently work with druids of neighboring territories on matters of greater importance and can appeal to Brynolf directly for aid.

Once a year, all druids return to Brynolf for the Bjergrad, where they meet in a treeless glen in the shadow of Mount Owe to report on the state of their territory to the High Druid and officially raise students to the level of Brother. At the Bjergrad, some druids are selected to stay at Brynolf and serve the High Druid directly for one year, often in small bands that mirror the wolf packs of 301-305.

The Bjergrad

Greywall Senatorium