The Druids of the Bone March
The Bone March has a much longer history than most realize. The March's highlands were home to dwarves and gnomes before humans first explored the region and home to tribes of Flan dating back over 1,800 years ago. Unlike the Flan further to the south that established the kingdom of Ahlissa, the Flan that settled in what would become the Bone March preferred to pursue a semi-nomadic lifestyle intricately connected to the land.
These druids, while venerating gods such as Beory and Obad-hai, believed in the Old Religion, or the Green Way. In the religion of the Green Way, Beory and Obad-hai are as much a part of the cycle of life as are mortals. These druids that came to the Bone March formed a circle, the Circle of the March, and took it upon themselves to watch over the land and its peoples.
Within this culture, the druids acted as spiritual leaders and historians of their tribes. They used the potent ley lines that crossed the land, particularly a junction of two lines at a location called the Green Mouth, to weave potent druidic magics to aid their Flan brothers and sisters. The Green Mouth was a depression within the center of the highlands that was extraordinarily lush and overgrown. How and why this is the case in a moorland is unknown, but it is attributed to a connection to the lands of the Fey.
The Coming of the Oeridians
Around -190 CY, the Bone March saw the arrival of Oeridians settlers. Unlike the south of the Teesar Torrent, the Oeridians settled in the Bone March in large numbers. Those that trickled in before 100 CY were mostly families looking for a life outside the confines of the traditional Oeridian hierarchy. These Oeridians, while more aggressive than the native Flan, were welcomed, and the two cultures evolved over the next two hundred years into their own people.
The druids were at the forefront of welcoming the Oeridians, and the Oeridians appreciated the assistance of the Flan and druids that helped them become acclimated to the hills and Moorlands of the Bone March. Unfortunately, with the increase of settlers, so did the raiding by humanoids from the Rakers. This forced many to abandon the semi-nomadic lifestyle and erect more permanent and defensible settlements. At this time, we see the founding of what would eventually become the cities of Spinecastle, Johnsport, and Knurl.
The humanoids aware of these newcomers south of the Tessar Torrent began crossing the Bone March to plunder these lands. This would force the Great Kingdom to station troops in the Bone March. Moving in erecting forts, the Great Kingdom began making plans to turn the Bone March into a new province, or an extension of the Northern Province.
The druids of the Circle of the March, led by the venerable Kalamath, who had been a part of the circle since -701 CY, and leader of it as the Grand Druid since -542 CY, were not initially concerned by this. Those who had come to the Bone March in the past settled peacefully among those who already lived there. They were looking to help protect the people from the humanoids, a mission that all agreed was beneficial. While the druids and Kalamath were not fond of this new trend of the inhabitants giving up their more nomadic lifestyle, they realized it was necessary. The druids even helped in the construction of the early fortifications at the site that would become Spinecastle.
War comes to the Bone March
By 100 CY, the Great Kingdom had established several forts in the Bone March to help prevent humanoid raiders and the seasonal raiding parties of Suel barbarians. Kalamath was not fond of these developments but did not interfere. Openly the Grand Druid said his primary concern was for the people of the Bone March, but there was some mistrust brewing between him and other druids of the circle. It became apparent that Kalamath was more concerned with protecting the sacred sites of the March, like the Green Mouth, which some of the circle disheartening.
By 108 CY, whole armies were sent by Overking Manshen to stem the latest incursion of Barbarian raiders. The humanoids had been beaten back in several pitched battles between 40 to 65 CY giving the barbarians easier access to the Bone March. The Druids' response was almost nonexistent as Kalamath preferred to let the soldiers of the Great Kingdom do the work for them.
The Erosion of Authority and Importance
By 300 CY, the culture within the Bone March had changed drastically. The influence the druids had once enjoyed was eroded to the point that their importance only mattered to the few inhabitants of the March that remained living in small villages scattered throughout the March. The bulk of the Marches population now lived in and around the three major cities of Spinecastle, Johnsport, and Knurl.
Despite their diminished importance within the March's political structure, the druids were still highly respected and thought of almost as mythical remnants of the past. This mythical reputation had allowed Kalamath, who, despite his advanced age, still led the Circle, retain a level of respect. The number of druids within the March had also dwindled to the point that there were only the Seven druids of the circle left.
Starting around -542 CY, Kalamath would disappear for long periods of time. At first for a year, then two, but by 560 CY, these departures could last as long as ten years at a time. This would throw the circle into chaos as the old druid reappear and disrupt whatever order had been established in his absence. When asked where he had been, the only response that was ever given was that he had been sleeping.
Thus was the state of the Circle of the March when the next and most significant threat to the Bone March would rear its ugly head, the Cursed Invasion.
The Cursed Invasion and the Rescuing of a People.
Starting in 560 CY, the raiding of the humanoids increased in volume to such a degree that everyone was becoming concerned. The Marquises of the Bone March had grown more independent over the past two hundred years as the Great Kingdom's attention became more focused on internal matters. No Aerdi troops had come to the March since 443 when remnants of the Knights protectors sought refuge. Before that, the last soldiers assigned to this borderland arrived in 299 CY. The druids knew that the humanoids were gathering in the hills, but they didn't realize that another horde was gathering further up in the mountains. They alerted the Marquis, who took their warning under advisement. Whether due to arrogance or mishandling of the information, the warning went largely ignored.
At this time, most of the March was under the rule of counts appointed by the Marquises. While they had men-at-arms serving them, these were small personal armies and most of them mercenaries or ill-trained locals. The Counts at the best of times paid little attention to the druids, whom they regarded as little more than relics of a bygone age. But the people in the smaller villages, especially the more remote ones, still had strong ties to the druids, and they began warning and preparing them to move when the orcs invaded.
In 561 CY, the largescale raiding turned into an all-out invasion as not just one, but two hordes of orcs and their allies invaded the March. The druids, who had already been preparing, quickly gathered up those villagers that they had warned and took them to secret locations in hopes of riding out the invasion.
After taking those they could to places safety, the druids met and decided to go to Spinecastle to aid the Marquis. They were shocked to find the city had already been sacked, and the castle was under siege. A few druids made their way into the fortress at Spinecastle, where they stayed to help defend it and the Marquis. The rest hurried to help the army in the field. Those druids that stayed with Marquis Clement would die there when the fortress fell.
The druids fought with Sir Stermorn and helped him elude his pursuers when the remnants of his army escaped into Ratik. With no apparent army left to help the people of the March, the druids hurried to help in any way that they could. Stermorn wanted them to stay and help with the reorganizing of those that had escaped, but the druids declined. This was seen as a betrayal by Stermorn and his men. To this day, the remnants of the Knight Protectors and soldiers that survived, and eventually settled in Ratik, curse the Circle of the March.
In the end, the Druids saved thousands of civilians from slaughter and eventually turned those refugees into the nomad tribes that still wander the March. The Cursed Invasion also spelled the end of the Circle of the March. The rest of the Circle focused on taking care of the refugees and put all their time and effort into turning them into a proper nomadic people. Kalamath has yet to come back to the March, and many wonder if he ever will. Some Rumors say the Grand Druid is lying in a magical stupor and will return with the mythical Flan hero Stormano to free the March. Others believe that he was assassinated before the invasion started. Many still wonder what will happen if he does return. Chief among them is General Nar, Breka's hand-picked Successor of the Vile Rune orc tribe, and Gorsh, the leader of the Death Moon orc tribe.