A Disturbing Account
By Sir Vincent Arthur Dryden III
Never before have I seen more strange an event than during my expedition through the Glimmering Forest. It is well known that the Glimmering is filled with ancient and majestic beings, but none are more puzzling to me than the Kites. I know not a thing pertaining to Kite culture, but they must have the most obscure civilization of all, if any. I know that they have several factions, and are grouped into these according to color and strength. Nevertheless, their shaman seem very meek in comparison to even the scrawniest of Elven youth. Their bowmen are dreadfully inaccurate, and I can safely say they would not be able to hit the backside of an Ogre if one were waved in their faces. Their warriors swing punches and slices with puny arms, incapable of severely harming even the smallest of Halflings. The secret to their flourishing and thriving presence within the Glimmering, and in truth, all throughout Arcanum, is not in strength and accuracy, but rather in numbers. Never will one see a lone Kite warrior prowling the plains of Morbihan in search of meat. Never will one see a lone Kite Shaman trying to match magickal wits with a Human or Elven Mage. The only other creature in all of Arcanum that I can compare them to is the common sewer rat. They flourish because of their vast numbers. If ten die in a battle there are one hundred or more waiting to take their places. These creatures called Kites are ancient, yet possess no discovered written language. They seemingly have no females, and I often ponder their methods of reproduction. Their weapons are crude, fashioned out of finely carved branches of wood and short pointed metal shanks. I couldn't begin to imagine how they obtained the metal for these blades, as there is no ore deposit known to man in the Glimmering. Mayhap they stealthily raid Dwarven mines during the twilight? Ah, I seem to be digressing off topic as I usually do. Allow me to begin anew.
The morning of the fifth of September was cool and gray as I stepped forth through the first dense patches of trees that marked the Glimmering Forest. My party of four, myself included, was aptly eager to get out of the muddy glades on the northernmost flats of Arcanum. Accompanying me was my Elven navigator Sel'Aren, my Half-Ogre bodyguard Gerald Stonefists, and my Human cousin Joshua Steine, who was a mere eighteen years of age. We set out from Ashbury as soon as the last snows of winter melted into the green grass of spring, well prepared for several months of trekking. Finally our arduous journey led us to the glorious lands of the Glimmering Forest, a forest more beautiful than the most valued of paintings, or the most jewel encrusted of statues. We had studied a vast amount of text appertaining to the fauna of this great forest, and we were readily prepared for the most foul of beasts the land had to bring upon us. I came in search of Kites, and I brought with me no mighty Arcane Sword, no Blessed Bow, no Sharpshooter's Revolver; only a pen and many pads of paper. I came ready for weeks of diligent note taking. The rest of my crew was not along for that reason however, as they fancied themselves a group of adventurous travelers, seeking out the strongest animals and monsters of the forest so they could not study and document them, but instead kill them and adorn their viscera as neckties and other fashionable items. I suppose it was the immaturity of young Joshua that swayed the others, but it was of no concern to me. I needed only a comfortable spot in a shady tree, my trusty goggles, and my notation documents.
I had been watching groups of Kite scouts wandering about below my observation nook in a large green tree. Every afternoon they would come scampering out of the bushes squealing and shaking their tiny swords, and every evening they would return with the hide of an Enraged Boar or Ailing Wolf. Every few days they would all congregate in a clearing and have festivities. I observed as they feasted on the carcasses of the boars and wolves, and rolled around Will-O-The-Wisp Essences like bowling balls, playing gleefully and care free. I took great pride as I studied them, realizing I was the first Human to be witnessing these events in all of Arcanum's vast history. Not many a successful expedition came from the Glimmering Forests, as we know all too well of the tragically ending tales of those in search of the infamous Dark Elves. I had not a care for these trifling matters, only for the Kites and their strange ways. I watched for what seemed to be an eternity, in awe as I alone witnessed many events in Kite culture that were never thought to take place. I watched their shaman dance around flickering flames, performing ancient holy rituals. I saw their warriors practice battling, swinging their minute swords around like powerful melee masters. One day the green canopy shook as my cousin Joshua climbed the tree I nested in, with Sen'Aren close behind, and Gerald Stonefists standing guard at the tree's mighty base. Joshua had a look of bewilderment in his eyes, and he told me to come quickly, and that there was something I should see. Sen'Aren informed me that they found a strange group of Kites, and that I should gather my papers and fill my pen with fresh ink. Most ecstatic, I quickly gathered my belongings and shimmied down the tall oak giant.
The group led me into a winding maze of oak, maple, and beechwood, and through blades of grass as tall as two men. Finally, a large boulder marked the area they had discovered. Crouching behind the massive boulder, which could have easily rolled over and crushed the lot of us, I cautiously peeked over the tip with a keen eye, and saw one of the most obscure things I have ever laid my eyes upon. Over the boulder was a valley of trees, and at the foot of the hill sat a beautiful work of stone. There were uncountable myriads of Kites surrounding this magnificent piece of stone architecture, carving away strange obscure patterns and sketching out primitive shapes of animals. In the center, surrounded by the multitudes of grandeur carvings and designs, was what appeared to be a rough sketch of the mainland of Arcanum! They had constructed a map of the land using information gathered from literally thousands and thousands of Kite Scouts! This was a deeply profound reverent moment to say the least. All about this antediluvian altar were symbols and markings that could very well date back to the dawn of man. This stone masterpiece must have taken hundreds of Elven lifetimes to construct, and in an instant of sheer shock and utter horror, it was destroyed. The boulder which sat upon the mighty hill lost its bearings in the soil and with a low rumble, went rolling downward, exposing myself and the rest of the group to the Kites. It was one moment where I can truly say I feared for my life. There we stood, with millions of Kite eyes looking upon us, and a great boulder tumbling down rapidly towards the one thing they worked so diligently upon. I was certain they would attack, yet none of the Kites dared move an inch from their masterpiece. In one swift movement, all of them, in unison, raised their carving blades into the sky. My next assumption was they would try to divert the path of the boulder, presumably by throwing themselves upon it. How wrong I was! Instead of doing what any sane person would do, they all gripped their swords with two hands, and thrust the blades into their tiny chests. Hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of Kite workers jammed the blades into their bodies, sacrificing themselves to whatever God they worshipped. The sight was extremely disturbing, and I quickly leaned over a bush to expel a vile bit of sickness from the pit of my stomach. The shrill cries of the Kite workers still ring through my head to this day, and in my dreams I watch as the stone comes crashing down upon their altar, sending it exploding into splinters. We had tampered with an ancient Kite altar, the only known piece of Kite architecture, aside from their stick and leaf dwellings. We had desecrated sacred Kite territory, and I once again feared that it would incur a massive attack from the Kites.
And so, dear reader, we did what any man, no matter how brave and bold, would have done: we fled for our lives. Now as we trampled the forest floor beneath us, we prayed the Kites were not on our trail. We looked forward to the muddy swampy glades that would soon be beneath our feet. Upon arriving in Ashbury on November the fourteenth, we hastily boarded the first train to Tarant, hoping to get as far away from the Kites of the Glimmering Forest as possible. I purchased a reasonably priced haven, and with my bodyguard Gerald Stonefists at my side I drew out this tale of my disturbing and depressing account. I now lament ever having set foot into the forest, and would give up knowing of all the glorious festivities the Kites enacted, if only it would bring that beautiful altar back. I grieve as if I was of Kite heritage, and yet as I mourn I wonder if they do the same. Do they have the intelligence to feel badly and cry? Perhaps they are too stupid and ignorant to realize this has happened because of me! This invokes even more sadness within my heart, and now I shall never look upon these creatures with the same curious eyes, but instead with eyes of sorrow. I pray the Kites can forgive me, even if they know nothing of the meaning of the word. I am truly sorry to all of the Kites who worked for generations on that now ruined marvel of nature.
Library of Tarant
15 University Court, Tarant
Reproduced with permission.
Copyright 1885. All rights reserved.