Longtooth Shifter Warden
My ancestors were plentiful and lived free in the mountain wilderness surrounding what is now Vyntra long ago before even the dwarves came, before they came to gorge upon our mother, thrusting swords into her womb with their artificial caves. My people were known as The Shrikthakari or Predators of the Mountain Pass in the Common Tongue and they hunted all creatures of the forest and the cave for food and for their sacred rituals. The dwarves were the first to call them Longtooth Shifters, and it was my people who showed them the hunting trails, natural springs and wondrous cave systems throughout this region. The greed and vanity of that first wave of little bearded people went unnoticed, so they were welcomed and my people’s love for Mother Wild was made known to them. But soon more came, and then more, and always they took out much from the belly of our mother, leaving nothing in return but dwarf-made carvings and forms dedicated to their own pride and to their gods…gods who abuse Mother Wild and forget that they are themselves merely projections of her. Eventually, my people, The Shrikthakari, were outnumbered and driven out of their underground homes and off the slopes and down into the valley.
Years later, when the Dragons and Demons came to claim the land, my people were not so naïve, and revenge like all natural things came easily into their hearts. Knowing full well that they could not stop the onslaught of brick and mortar that would become Vyntra, the Predators of the Mountain Pass (Shrikthakari) would make one final hunt before leaving the land within the mountains forever. Most of the strongest warriors and wardens would stay behind to claim their vengeance by helping the dragons and demons dig the little dwarves out of the countryside while the Shamans would lead the elderly and the young beyond the circle of mountains in search of a land free from all defilers where they could practice the old way. This band of refugees were my people’s promise of a future without cavern twisted by vain pride or spiraling brick pointing obscenely in the face of Mother Wild.
For some time, the Shamans sent scouts regularly to report their position to those fighting to punish the dwarves, but then the messages suddenly stopped without any reason as to why. Once the dwarves had been properly subdued, the Shrikthakari who had stayed to fight sent a contingency of scouts to find the last known location of the refugees, but there was never any sign of them. Eventually, my ancestors who remained began new lives in the shadow of yet another people who had little respect for the natural and the wild. And like that, nearly half of the Predators of the Mountain Pass vanished without a trace. Today, this missing group is known as the Shrikthakari Anoni. Some of my people think that in their effort to find a land free of aberration, the Anoni were forced to travel such a great distance that their messengers were lost or attacked. Others believe the entire group was destroyed by some dread enemy. Fewer still believe that Mother Wild took her children to a wilderness beyond this mortal realm where the bond between them and her could be complete. Now, more and more of my people either do not care to know of this history or dismiss it as myth.
As for me, I do not know what to believe. The only things that are certain to me are the mountains, forests, slopes, and caves. Mother Wild has infused these features of Herself into the flesh and blood of my people, and no Shrikthakari shall ever forget them. I may not live as close to Her unspoiled form as my ancestors did, but like my father and grandfather before me I have found a way to keep close to her despite the city. I am trusted by many private tower masters to serve as a guide and warden on excursions into and across the mountains. Often, I am hired to find certain artifacts or track down fugitives by City officials. And, it is not uncommon for me to take a contract for rounding up dwarves to augment a noble’s dwindling slave stock. I am always most at peace within the wilderness, bonded by blood to Mother Wild and her presence in everything. While in those ancient mountain passes, she reveals to me things that are hidden to others—thorns that arise and strike down foes, flesh that grows from the dust and covers wounds, fury that erupts and fills me with primal strength, and sometimes…the sound of children playing…elders gossiping…shamans praying.
From the Journal of Gorgoth
History Based on the Shrikthakari Bilathon
(Common trans. Tome of the Predators of the Mountain Pass)