Moonlight on the Water
The North is a region nestled into the edge of a tremendous range of mountains, bordered at the north by the glacial tundras and shifting oceans and landmasses of the far-northern polar region, obscured below constant blizzards and partially frozen whirlpools. To the south, the lands around the edges of the mountains dip into the depths of the Shrouded Isles, which are barely more than rocky crags jutting out of the treacherous waters.
The High Forest of Tiavel, or the wolfswood to non-elves, is ancient and mysterious, it covers nearly a quarter of the North. Thick with sentinel trees and soldier pines, it is a dark and gloomy place. As the forest extends northward, the pines give way to oaks and hawthorns that grow across the stony hills. The Sunny Fields are nestled between the western coast of the North and the wolfswood. The Shrouded Isles lay just off the coast to the south.
A decade ago, the Grey King led an army of reavers on longships from the Iron Islands, an archipelago at the edge of the Shrouded Isles. They landed on the shores of the Sunny Fields, and mercilessly looted and enslaved any village they could reach by longship. Within less than a year, the Iron Kingdoms held the entire Sunny Fields region up to the edge of the wolfswood. With slave armies led by the brutal ironborn reavers, one of the Iron Kings marched upon the forest to the northwest. A mysterious host of fair, pointed-eared folk with armor of darkwood and blades of dragonglass met the army at the borders of the wolfswood and denied them access the wooded lands. The slaves turned and fled, while the ironborn charged to their peril. The host continued across the grasslands, shadowed by a surging thunderstorm. King after King threw his forces at the host, all to be denied even a single victory. The last of the ironborn reavers were destroyed by storms in their longships, or fled to the safety of the Iron Islands. The remaining heirs to the Iron Kingdoms were captured, and the Grey King yielded at last.
At edge of Tiavel was where the brief war begun, and it was there that an ambassador of the fair folk met with the Grey King. The man was golden-haired, and it flowed long over his robes of fine white silk, gilded with strange runes. He introduced himself only as the Lord of the Golden Wood, and held a magnificent staff of darkwood set with a glowing orb of amber light. The Lord of the Golden Wood decided to hold the nine heirs to the nine Iron Kingdoms for ten years, while the ironborn prove themselves by leaving the villages and towns of Sunny Fields in peace. The nine wards ranged in ages from eight to twenty-two. The Lord of the Golden Wood separated the boys among nine different settlements within his region of Tiavel, to be raised by the wise folk and to learn about and contribute to the societies which their fathers nearly destroyed. Nine elven protectors were assigned to the wards, and stayed with them as they traveled between the wolfswood and the grasslands for nearly ten years.
The Grey King, also the Rock King of Pyke Island, lost his own son as a captive. Drust of House Greyjoy would spend nearly ten years roaming the riverlands with a tree spirit named Saeruil, a strange spirit creature of the deep woods called an Alseid. The peace that this region of the North has known for nearly ten years was shattered, on a normal day in the village of Riverstone…
“Oh, my sweet summer child,” The old nurse said quietly, “what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the Others move through the woods.”