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August 23, 2008

The Battle of the Forbidden Forest
by Noelio

Long ago, when the world of was young, the God Vryce created the City of Medievia. Soon, people began to arrive from all over the world to populate this great centre of culture and learning. As its population swelled, the city expanded into the densely forested wilderness surrounding it. Yet these forests were not empty, as the citizens believed. A race of elves had lived in these woods since the time of legend, and dwelt there still, in the shadows of the trees. The City's expansion brought its citizens into conflict with this ancient race over possession of the forest. While some men and women of Medievia city objected to the rape of the forest, they were few and had little power. After the battle, these people, calling themselves the Ungiri, were allowed to remain in the forest by the elves. This story is the account of the great battle that was fought between elf and man at the beginning of this world.

"Come now, lads, it's getting dark," shouted the foreman. Slowly the men around him ceased their labour and began to pack up their tools. With shouts and oaths, the foreman managed to get the troop of young lumberjacks into line and began to herd them back to the city. As the men lumbered out of sight, the grove where they had been working all day fell into silence. After a moment, a shadow separated from a nearby tree, and, glanced about the site, surveyed the damage to the forest. As the sun slipped beneath the horizon, the shadow slipped back into the undergrowth and vanished.

"Your majesty, a scout has returned and begs an audience with your highness." The speaker, an elf of strong physique, spoke into a great hall. Upon a dais, at the opposite end, stood an ornate throne, upon which was seated an old elf of regal bearing. "And he shall have it," answered the seated elf. "Send him in, Captain." With a bow, the captain left the throne room. Seated upon his throne, the king turned his thought upon the growing threat to his kingdom. These newcomers were destroying his forest with a brutality that shocked and appalled him. While it was ever the policy of the elves not to meddle in the affairs of men, the king felt that he could turn a blind eye no longer. Something must be done, and soon, before his people were driven completely out of their ancestral homeland.

The news from the scout was not good. Men were annihilating the forest far faster than the king had expected or even believed possible. His subjects were frightened, fleeing deeper into the forest. If any confrontation was to be made, it must be soon, before his people were driven from their homes entirely. With a sigh of deep sadness, the king summoned his captains to him. The battle for the forest was about to begin.

The sound of axes tearing into trees filled the air for miles around. Men shouted and cursed as they continued with their wanton destruction of the lush forestland. All throughout the clearing men were felling trees, chopping them into segments and preparing to transport them to the city beyond. Intent upon their jobs, no one paid any heed to the moving shadows within the undergrowth.

"Ugh..." The words died in the man's throat as an arrow pierced his chest. Beside him, another man stared in amazement as his co-worker fell into a crumpled heap in the dirt. Before his comrade understood what was happening, another arrow whistled through the air to land in his throat. All about the clearing, arrows were raining with precision to land into the soft, unprotected flesh of the lumberjacks. After a dozen men had died, the remainder began to realize their danger and run towards the horses tethered near the rear of the camp. Yet even as they ran, arrows continued to find their marks in the fleeing men's backs. None reached the safety of the horses.

The guard whistled softly to himself as he patrolled the edge of the clearing. For three days now he had been posted out in this forest with the rest of his company of Medievia Guardsman. Ever since the disappearances began, the Mayor had been assigning companies of guardsman to safeguard the lumberjacks while they worked. The guard continued his never-ending patrol of the perimeter, occasionally glancing into the dense forest to spot a small bird flying between the trees. Suddenly, a piercing scream sounded from the other side of the clearing. The guard spun around to see men running amok in all directions. Yet even as he took in the scene, several of the fleeing forms fell to the ground and did not move. Pulling his horn from his belt, the guard blew a resounding blast into the wilderness. Before he had finished the call, an arrow slammed into his back, bringing him to his knees. He lived just long enough to realize he was about to die, then saw no more.

As the last of the guardsmen fell, the ground began to tremble with the sound of hooves striking. A moment later a troupe of cavalry appeared beyond a small rise and came racing into the clearing. Seeing the scene before them, the horsemen skidded to a halt, taking in the massacre around them. Before any orders could be issued arrows began to rain upon them from all sides, glancing off armor or piercing the flesh of horse and man alike. As the effects of the first volley began to sink in, panic struck the remaining horsemen, who, wheeling their steeds about, galloped for the safety of the city.

The elven king sat upon his throne, listening to the most recent report from his chief captain. "Unfortunately, several of their cavalry managed to break through the ambush and return to the city. We can expect they will react with force now that our presence has been detected," the captain was saying. The king pondered these words with a heavy heart. While he earnestly wished to avoid unnecessary casualties, the conflict had developed too far for him to back down now. "Very well. Assemble what force you can and prepare to engage whatever troops they throw at us. We must use whatever means necessary to convince these intruders that their advances will not be tolerated," the king replied. He only hoped that it would be enough.

So began the great battle for the forest. At dawn the following day, a dozen companies of Medievia guardsmen marched out of the western gate of the city, intent on the destruction of these forest-dwellers. Stationed on either side of the advancing column, several troops of cavalry warded the flanks. Slowly, they advanced under the eaves of the forest, eyes peering into the darkness beyond when suddenly, without warning, a barrage of arrows slammed into the foremost troops. As the army ground to a halt, a swarm of small creatures rushed from the shelter of the undergrowth, throwing wooden spears into their enemies before closing on them with the sword. Shocked by the suddenness of the assault, the leading guardsmen fell where they stood. Yet as the first rank of men fell, the rest began to rush forward into the fray. Before long, men were locked in fierce hand-to-hand combat with elves. As more and more men began to push forward and engage their diminutive enemies, the sheer weight of the guardsman's assault began to tell, forcing the elves back under the eaves of the forest.

The men of the city poured after the elves into the forest, heedless of their peril. Before the commanders could reform their troops, another volley of arrows slammed into the now-unguarded flanks of the guardsman. Just as the men realized their predicament, the army was attacked from three sides by wild animals. Bears, gorillas and lions tore into the city guardsmen as eagles and bats swooped down upon them from above, clawing at eyes. As panic began to seize the army, the elves launched their final assault, charging into the guardsmen with fury as arrows continued to rain silent death upon their enemies.

Panic gripped the men of the city. Abandoning their weapons, they fled back towards the safety of the city walls, all thoughts of glory and conquest forgotten in their fear. The battle of the forest was over. When the scope of the disaster was realized by the men and women of Medievia city, the mayor refused to allow any men to venture into the forest. The gate leading to the forest was closed and locked, and a watch set upon the walls. >From that day forth, the men of Medievia city began to call the forest the Forbidden Forest, warded by the forest-dwelling elves. And so it was that as Medievia grew and prospered, the forest beside the city was left unmolested and un-invaded by men. And so the Forbidden Forest remains to this very day.


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