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Interview with Nathan Longbow of the Shadow Rangers
by Galen Wilding (Stratics Catskills Reporter)
Wed, 7 Mar 2001, at 6:52 p.m. EST

I arrived through the moongate near Yew, eager to be about the business I had come to complete. The unrest in Yew and the surrounding regions of the realm had given me pause to contact the Shadow Rangers, the protectors of the woodlands around Yew.

I was greeted with both friendliness and a sense of immediacy that could not be denied. The two rangers sent to escort me to their leader were named Edgar and Brutus. Both were dressed in traditional ranger garb, sporting weapons native to the woods. They handled their bows as well as they did their manners, and before long we were on our way to meet Nathan Longbow, the leader of the Shadow Rangers.

We passed through Shadowmoor Village, an impressive city nestled near the moongate, and while I had want to look about and see all that it had to offer, my guides made it clear that we were to be away, for there was an urgency in the air that seemed to repress all other concerns.

I followed the rangers through their fair city, when something caught my eye. It was a smallish crystal set in the ground itself. It seemed to glow and pulse with a life of its own. I was drawn to it almost as though it had reign over my desire and dominion over my want.

I was pulled from my revelry by Brutus, who simply shook his head and moved us forward out of the city. We walked in relative silence for what seemed to be hours, though the rangers not once showed signs of confusion or misdirection, until finally we reached our destination.

Beside a flowing waterfall there stood a man. He was six foot tall, clad as well in ranger garb, though there was an air about him that could not be missed. He held his posture rigidly, his eyes set upon me with either relief or suspicion, though I could not discern the truth of it.

As I moved to stand before him, Brutus spoke, though his voice was an ominous whisper. “We will guard the perimeter.”

Without taking his eyes from mine, Nathan Longbow nodded and motioned to have me sit on the small wooden chairs he had brought for the occasion.

I was preparing to form my first question when he spoke, his voice almost a panicked shadow of his calm and rigid demeanor.

“The balance,” he spoke, the words almost violent in their intent. He seemed to read my confusion and he walked as he completed his thought. “All things in this life and in this realm are in balance. Good. Evil. Righteousness. Sin. All things. This balance is being threatened by the vile of the realm.”

“Threatened,” I asked, reticence edging my voice. “How? Can you be more specific?”.

He seemed to chuckle lightly. “Fellucia. The lands there offer more evidence than I could ever provide. Once we, and others like us, made our home there. We thrived and were happy. Now we are forced here. Driven back over the borders of the facets themselves.”

“By who?” I asked, sensing his distress but not yet his reasons.

“The Shadowclan Orcs. The undead, and not alone are these. Those that would most benefit from such a happening. They live for the blood shed and the chaos the has claimed Fellucia, and now they seek to plant their vile seed here in Trammel as well. If you doubt my word on this, seek out city of Satamarin.”

“You said they are not alone,” my head tilting in casual curiosity, though Nathan Longbow’s answer was anything but casual.

“Drow,” he whispered, as though the mention of the name would bring a horde of them upon us.

I could not believe the words I was hearing. “The Drow have allied with the Shadowclan Orcs and the undead?”

Nathan laughed again. “No, I would not call it allied. I would call it…manipulation. The Drow are master diplomats and betrayers. People underestimate their threat. I am certain they entered into agreement with the orcs and undead, and soon will seek to enslave even them. Would that such would happen this night...”

“Your numbers,” I asked, curious about their chances for victory. “How many fill thy ranks?”

He pondered for but a moment. “I would say fifty in all, including Rangers and Guardsman.” This time it was his turn to nod in anticipated derision. “I know. Not enough to defeat the evil that faces us., but we are strong. We will not see the decay and chaos that has gripped Fellucia infect these lands as well.”

I nodded slowly, not sure what to say. His words were thick were portent and ominous concern. “You saw the crystal, I assume.”

I nodded simply, not having had time to accommodate my curiosity, though in truth I was no closer to the truth that I had been when I arrived.

“It is called a Conversion Crystal It is a symbol of their decay, set in the very ground of our own village. I have had the Druids of the village examine it, in an effort to understand its power, but so far they have revealed nothing, save for that there may be as many as five other crystals scattered through the realm and across the facets themselves, though they had little to say about its purpose.”

“Is it a tool of the Drow? Or the undead?”

He simply shook his head. “I do not know to be certain. But I do know this; it bodes not well for the righteous of the realm.”

“What is your purpose here then, good Ranger? Do you seek to restore the balance to what it once was?”

He shook his head again. “We are too small in number and too late for that. Fellucia is gone. Our efforts must be directed toward safeguarding the balance here. We must stop the spread of their disease now, before it infects the forests and the people of Trammel, as it did in Fellucia. Perhaps one day, when Trammel is safe, we will fight our way back into Fellucia, and return them to the pit where they were born.”

The conviction in his voice made it clear that in the war that was coming, there would be no quarter asked, nor given.

I nodded my understanding and rose to leave. Nathan Longbow nodded his conviction in the words he had shared. As I made my farewells and turned to go, he spoke again, though his voice carried to me as though on the wind.

“Tell them all of the danger. They all have to know the truth. And tell them as well that Shadowmoor always shall be a respite from the vile intentions of those who seek our deaths. Tell them…”

I turned to answer, and Nathan Longbow had vanished into the woods, with only the rustling of leaves to tell the tale of his presence.

As I made to leave, I noticed a small parchment on the ground where he had stood but a moment before. I slowly unraveled it and read the words that were written there.

The Shadow Rangers will face the coming darkness. And they shall set the balance right once more

 

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