Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Koldonberane, The Forest Dragon

I'm really quite happy with Monday's post about deities. You may have noticed that I really got into it, given that it's roughly twice as long as my average post. My own verbosity aside, in my opinion it's a pretty great post. So when I started thinking about what I should write for Wednesday's post, I remembered that a friend had recently encouraged me to write about Koldonberane, a deity I created a few years ago for a campaign which never ended up getting started. So not only do I get to make a friend happy, but I get to demonstrate the deity system I created in my last post! Huzzah!

The Tree Wyrm, Leafscale, The Rustling Wind

Lesser Deity (Divine Rank 4)
Holy Symbol A green tree with a dragon emerging from the leaves. More ornate symbols include tree roots, which entangle both a halberd, and a short bow.
Home Plane Arborea
Alignment Chaotic Neutral
Major Portfolio Nature, Animals
Minor Portfolio Adventure, Rangers, Balance Dragons
Domains Animal, Plant, Travel
Worshipers Rangers Druids, Barbarians, Hunters, Trappers
Clerical Alignments TN, CN, CG, CE
Favored Weapons The halberd, and the short bow

Koldonberane embodies the uncaring chaos of nature. She appears as a titanic dragon, with leaves instead of scales. These leaves constantly shift from green, to bronze, to red, to yellow, to black, then fall from her hide, only to reveal fresh green leaves underneath. Though she is a lesser deity, many rangers and other adventurers who revere nature follow her because of the favor which she shows to those who have great self determination.

Dogma Koldonberane teaches that nature is indifferent to good, evil, and law. It is a force beyond these limiting concepts. While a mouse may be beloved by nature, so too is a hawk. The hawk needs no permission, nor any absolution for killing and eating the mouse. So long as balance is maintained, nature is self-governing. And so long as chaos reigns, balance will always be maintained. The only true sin, in Koldonberane's eyes, is a disruption of the world's natural balance.

For this reason, Koldonberane favors mortals who live out in nature, separate from those of their kind who seek to dominate nature, rather than find their own place within nature's balance. She cares not if a man kills an animal for food, or fells a tree to build a boat. New animals will be born, new trees will grow. But Koldonberane becomes upset when a copse of trees is felled to make a cabin, and she becomes enraged when a forest is cleared to make room for a city.

Clergy and Temples Koldonberane's few temples are magically woven from still-growing trees, and carpeted with living grass. However, few followers of Koldonberane are compelled to build temples to their draconic goddess. Most prefer to travel, living in balance with nature around them, and ensuring that others maintain that balance as well.

Koldonberane is a young deity, having only ascended four hundred thousand years ago. Before that, she was a dragon. Of what color, she cannot recall, but she knows that she lived in a forest. There, in her forest lair, she went about the business of dragons: hoarding treasure. She viewed this too be quite good and proper, and had amassed a great and glittering pile for herself.

As winter drew near one year, she spotted a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. Being a particularly philosophical dragon, she likened the squirrel to herself. The tiny creature's hoard of nuts was a pale shadow of Koldonberane's hoard of treasure. And while the creature's taste in treasure was primitive compared to her own, Koldonberane speculated that the gods may have crafted squirrels as a tiny homage to their greatest creation. Which, of course, was dragons.

Koldonberane's forest was far to the North of the world, and winter was long. The mighty dragon slept until the spring came. When she finally awoke, she was greeted by the sight of the squirrel whose hoard Koldonberane had pondered the previous fall. Feeling spry and energetic after her long sleep, the mighty dragon approached the squirrel's nest, hoping to catch a glimpse of its tiny hoard. What she saw instead was nothing but shells. The squirrel had eaten its entire hoard!

At first, Koldonberane felt confused, but her confusion quickly became anger. She shouted and cursed the squirrel. She decried its mimicry as a mockery of dragon kind, and swore to destroy it and all of its kin, but it had fled. Still angry, she vowed to wait for its return, and destroy it then. But first she needed to find a meal, something to wake her from her long slumber. She took flight, and hunted through the forest for elk, deer, and other large sources of meat.

As she ate, she thought. Her anger gradually began to abate as she pondered the purpose of the squirrel's hoarding. She came to realize that the squirrel's hoard had not been an end unto itself, but rather a means to its own survival. It was something of a leap for her, but the more she thought about it, the more Koldonberane found she could relate to the squirrel's actions. And, being truly philosophical for a dragon, Koldonberane did something which dragons almost never do: she turned her criticism inward.

"Why do I, why does any dragon, hoard our treasures?" she thought. Numerous justifications presented themselves, but to her credit, Koldonberane dismissed each of them. The truth had been laid bare: her hoard had no purpose.

After that, Koldonberane continued to lay atop her treasure for several months. But now it simply seemed cold, and uncomfortable. Koldonberane tried adding to her hoard, which had always pleased her in the past. Now it felt empty. The sparkle of a polished coin no longer captivated her, and she resolved to be rid it all. She flew to the nearest city, and announced that anyone could have anything they were able to carry away from her hoard.

People came from miles around with sacks and carts, some even came with bags of holding. Koldonberane watched them take her treasures from nearby. She felt a panic, seeing 'thieves' taking her beloved treasure--but she did not interfere. She steeled her resolve to let her treasure disappear.

People had been hauling treasure away for less than a day when the king arrived. But Koldonberane's hoard was massive that ten such days would not leave a significant dent in her pile. The King, though, brought with him an army of carts, and ten times an army of soldiers. He demanded that all the treasure be his. Koldonberane told him he may take whatever his carts could carry, but the King was adamant. He wanted not only the treasure he could carry, but treasure which he would leave behind must be kept for him, and the treasure which had already been given must be returned to him. The dragon refused.

The battle between the king's army and the dragon was fierce. Koldonberane was, at that time, among the most ancient dragons to ever exist. She slew hundreds of the king's mightiest knights, but could not defend herself against so great a force. Koldonberane was slain, her body fell against the same tree in which the squirrel had made its nest. The King had his carts loaded, and took what treasure he could back to his kingdom.

When the King returned with more carts, he found many people around the corpse of the dragon, praying for blessings from the gold-giver. The King's men chased them off, and the king posted guards around Koldonberane's body to stop any others from worshiping the beast. The king returned a third time, now in late fall, for a third load of treasure. The guards he had left were camped nearby, and the dragon's corpse was gone! The guards explains how, in just a few short weeks, the roots of the tree had grown up around the dragon, and wrapped it in a wooden cocoon. The king said good riddance to the beast, and took his treasure, and his guards, back to his kingdom for the winter.

In spring, the king again brought his carts for the fourth and last load of treasure. As it was being loaded, he gazed at the tree which had consumed Koldonberane. Its leaves had sprouted a beautiful spring green, and he found the tree to be a pleasant sight.

Then, from amidst the rustling leaves, two eyes stared back at him. They did not appear to be fixed to anything, waving in the wind as the tree did. A creak sounded, and the wind-blown leaves momentarily seemed to form a gaping maw. Frightened, the king called to his men to hurry along, just in time for great leafy wings to sprout from the tree's bows.

The king screamed in terror as Koldonberane, the demigod, flew from the branches of the tree, leaving it bare of any leaves. But Koldonberane was now beyond such simple motivations as revenge, and ignored the petty human as it flew off towards the heavens.

Koldonberane's clergy hold that the tree which Koldonberane sprouted from still exists. It is said that green scales now grow on the tree, instead of leaves. What powers this mysterious tree might hold are unknown, however, as its mere existence is speculation.

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