They are the old ones, the hidden ones. Ensconced in their forests, safe from the eyes of men, the beast-folk alliance seeks nothing other than to be left in peace. Sadly they have not been granted this wish, and the disparate ranks of the minotaurs, wolfen and centaurs have found themselves pressed together, their unique talents working in harmony as they find themselves striving to hold back an increasingly hostile world.
The Beast Folk are an enigma among the warlike races of the world. Many speculate as to their exact nature, but few know the truth of the varied species that compose the Beast Folk Confederacy. The most popular theory holds that the Beast Folk are the descendants of a race of hybrid servants created by some long-forgotten race of sorcerers. No one knows for sure what happened to these mages, but their minions were left behind to fend for themselves and eventually banded together for safety, retreating to the hidden places of the world.
The truth is a bit darker. The Beast Folk were, indeed, the creation of a race of magically superior beings. However, they were created as slaves to satisfy their masters' twisted lust for war and violence. Armies of Beast Folk were pitted against each other in bloodsports that left rivers of blood and mountains of carcasses. Eventually, the Beast Folk turned against their vile lords and slaughtered them all. For a time, they lived in relative peace amongst each other…until the other races began to expand their empires.
Now, the Beast Folk Confederacy has been pushed to the edge of the world, claiming the dwindling Wilderlands and the western areas of the Forest of the Ancient Heart as their homelands. They live a tribal life of hunting and gathering, constantly on the watch for the encroaching armies of their surrounding neighbors who seek to carve out more land for themselves.
The Wilderlands and the Beast Folk Confederacy
The Wilderlands are the last refuge of the Beast Folk. Pushed to the fringes of the world by land-hungry Knights, elitist Elves, and the vile Dark Elves, the Beast Folk know their days may be numbered. Their ancient prophecies, spoken on the winds by animal ancestors, talk of a final conflict where the Beast Folk will be exterminated and join their fallen masters after death. Consequently, the Beast Folk have a somewhat fatalistic outlook on life.
The Confederacy, composed of Centaurs, Minotaurs, and Wolfen, share a magical atunement with the land they live upon. Their shaman claim that this is a gift from their animal spirit ancestors, though some speculate that it is a latent ability left over from their sorcerous origins. Regardless, this link to the Wilderlands, the Forest of the Ancient Heart, and the surrounding territories has allowed the Beast Folk to keep a watchful eyes on the doings of their enemies.
The Confederacy shares strained alliances with the Knights and Elves, while relations with the Dark Elves have fallen to outright conflict. To make matters worse, other Evil races have been making forays into the Wilderlands and the Forest. Everything from Orcs to Undead have been spotted by Beast Folk outriders, leading the Confederacy to believe that the Dark Elves have allied themselves with these races. Worse, the Dark Elves may have granted them access to their rumored underground tunnels, which supposedly stretch across the continent. If left unchecked, the tides of Evil forces may sweep the other races away.
While the Beast Folk just wish to be left to their ways in peace, the elders and shaman realize that the time is coming for them to stand up. If the forces of nature are to survive, the Confederacy may be faced alliances that prove a bitter pill to swallow.
“Bested by an Elf,” Warhorn growled as he ducked beneath a tree limb some twelve feet off the ground. The growing twilight cast the western border of the Forest of the Ancient Heart in a deep gloom.
Crell looked up at the Minotaur. “She was a sorceress. How was I to know?”
Shazzan, the Wolfen barked angrily. “You Centaur, Crell! Supposed to be smart! Beaten by girl-Elf.”
Crell stopped and stamped his hooves, frustrated. “Hello! Sorceress!” The rest of the Beast Folk war party passed him silently.
“Oh, I see,” he said sarcastically. “I guess I was the only one picked up by a tree! I guess it was just me hanging up there while she negotiated our 'surrender.”
He trotted back to the front where Warhorn and Shazzan trudged along dejectedly. “Look, what's the worst that will happen?” he asked. “So we agree to ally with the Elves. So what?”
“Not a bad idea,” a voice rasped from the shadows. The war party turned towards the sound, drawing their weapons and bearing their fangs.
Leaning against a large boulder, a Dark Elf clad in tattered black silks, a helmet like a scorpion's stinger, and a pair or wicked blades across his back casually watched them.
“I'm not here to fight,” he said wearily. “Had enough of that today.”
“Then why are you trespassing on our lands?” Crell asked.
“Returning a favor from my mistress.” The Dark Elf removed his helmet to reveal a recent slash that ran the length of his face on the right side. The hastily stitched wound still leaked blood. “I bring a warning.”
“Speak, then,” Crell said.
“The Dark Elves are allying with the Undead and the green skin tribes. They aim to bring an onslaught to this world the likes of which haven't been seen since the God War. Already they prepare to assault Farrenhall.”
“What do we care if the Human lands fall?”
The Dark Elf chuckled. “Do you think they will stop there? Next it will be the Hulestiathah Hills, or the rest of the Empire, or even the Wilderlands and the Forest of the Ancient Heart. They won't stop until they rule it all…or destroy it all.”
The Beast Folk looked to each other, feeling the importance of the Dark Elf's words. When Crell turned back to him, the warrior was gone, another shadow in the dark.
“What now?” Warhorn asked.
“Get back to the Confederacy as fast as we can,” Crell said. “I think that Elf sorceress may have had a point.”