I can still hear the echo of her final breath. Faint, nearly forgotten. These lands are broken, like her body. You see? They are the same. A candle in darkness. Once lit, now extinguished. The wick glows dimly, but no hope of light. A thin line of curling smoke marks her last breath.

This is the Hunger, my child. The Hunger is not a thing. It is no “thing” at all. What means "darkness" where once there was light? What is "cold" where once there was heat? What is the Hunger where once there was life?

Can you hear it, the silence? Once, our world had a pulse. Her blood, that molten rock which once flowed so strongly through her veins… it slows now, and thickens.

My brothers, sisters and I cannot heal your world. Dead stays dead. Unlife is not life. This is the way. I weep, but it matters not. When the last warmth is gone, I will weep no more for I, too, will be cold.

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Raising her staff, she quiets the woods with a gentle wave of her hand. The fallen stag will die, that much is clear. The arrow is lodged too deep within his neck. She lays a hand across his face, smiles sadly, and with a word drains the life from his eyes.

The Wood Elf Shaman lifts his face to the sky, regarding someone unseen and chanting in a language unknown. Smoke begins to swirl around him, taking shape, sculpting the moonlight like clay. A figure emerges, an enormous ghostly bear. It rears up before him and soundlessly roars.

The young Half-Elf pauses. Her human mind rejects the logic, but her Elven heart can feel it: the energy of life and death, flowing in the air above her and the ground below. She can feel it with her mind: hold it, harness it, push it with her will, like dragging her fingers through a cold stream. The forest has a heartbeat that is powerful and dangerous. She shudders and the trees around her tremble.

In life, the order of the Druids were the followers of Gaea, the Earth Mother. A cult of forest dwellers, the religious took root first with the Wood Elves before spreading to the Fey and, rarely, took hold with those who share both Human and Wood Elf blood. In the time since Gaea’s death, the Druidic cult has largely disbanded. Druids who choose to fight for the gods in the afterlife do so for their own reasons. Some seek vengeance, others are on a quest to find purpose. Many feel a doomed sense of loyalty to a goddess who is no more.

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