Saturday, March 7, 2015

Project Dragonwatch: The Greenshae

"Avoid it if you can, skirt it if you dare, tread Greenshae's Bog at your own peril."

Some maps mistakenly mark the marshes to the north of Sylvan Realm's Ietzirah forests "The Greenshaes." The Shiye smirk at the Outlander's blunder, while the elves of Grunalf are quick to make a ward against the evil eye, and breathe a prayer that there should not be more than one Greenshae.

It is immediately apparent, on setting foot in the swamps, that the land itself is warped. The generally temperate climate of the Sylvan forests gives way to a cloying, fetid humidity. Birdsong gives way to the grating call of carrion birds, the hiss and rasp of scales against rotting wood replaces the rustle of animals in undergrowth. It feels as if the entirety of the swamp holds its breath, waiting….

Grunalf hunters speak of the sweh’melevah, the breath one takes in before loosing the arrow at quarry. A party of them is said to’ve nearly come to blows around a meager campfire their first and only night in the bogs, arguing over which of them felt to be on the receiving end of sweh’melevah, for each was uncomfortably aware of a menacing presence bent on seeing them breathe their last. The Shiye, too, speak of the unnatural state of the swamps: the land and its shadows offer them no refuge, instead giving off a smoldering malice.

The swamp, and nearly all its denizens, share its queen’s abiding hatred of all that is verdant and vibrant to the south. From her lair in the center of the swamp, atop and below some of the only remaining solid ground, the hag known as the Greenshae fumes, the encroachment of her swamp stymied by the arrival of the elven nation. Through the eyes of countless ravens, reptiles, and vultures, she watches the borders of her kingdom, keeping most away, but allowing one or two elves through each year, separating them from their companions, guiding them astray, where their cries for help and mercy will go unheard.

The Greenshae’s newest allies are two tribes of kobolds, driven into the swamp by Grunalf foresters. The Greenshae has promised the two chieftains free reign over the northern woods once the elves are disposed of, as well as protection from the dragon Valkithiss. The hag, of course, has no intention of keeping either of these promises, but allows the kobolds baubles and trinkets and an occasional softened-up elven hunting party to keep them pacified.

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