My favorite things include ancient forests, medieval history, shared worlds, and people who have the ambition and imagination to start a small business. So when Allen Drees of small-press game company IPG asked if I’d be interested in writing a story about the forest elves of Kingdoms of Legend, a Pathfinder-compatible setting based on Europe in 1415, of course I said yes.
I soon found another reason to love this project: the elven Forest Kingdom shares a border with the Kingdom of Poland. My father was born in Poland, and I’ve always felt a strong connection with the culture, history, and folklore. This story takes a new approach to a famous Polish legend: Smok Wawelski, the dragon of Wawel Hill. It also features other spirits and creatures from Polish folklore, which cross over into the Forest Kingdom to complicate the lives of two less-than-perfect elves.
The ancient city Krakov is situated on the Vistula River. It was the royal seat in 1415, with the palace atop Wawel Hill. Caves beneath this hill are the purported lair of Smok Wawelski. In the fantasy version, the caves extend far beyond the real-world caves (shown on the map, below), venturing south into the Tatra Mountains and westward into a primordial forest. Humans no longer remember these caverns, for in past centuries, elves summoned magic to block off human incursions into their lands. We can still get a glimpse of these priomoridial woodlands in Białowieża Forest, a preserve that protects ancient oaks as well as the last herd of wisent, European bison. In 1415, the oak, elm, ash and linden trees formed a canopy nearly 150 feet high. In the deep shade grew ferns, swamp alders and huge fungi. The elves shared the Forest Kingdom with herds of wisent, wolves, wild boar, tarpan (a species of wild horse), badgers, bears, moose, lynx, and eagles, as well as creatures and spirits we know only from legend and folklore. Psotniki, small fey creatures who love mischief, lurk in the underbrush. Woodland ponds might provide a lair for wodnik, a froglike humanoid. Powerful wards keep away most of the spirits and supernatural creatures that haunt the Kingdom of Poland, but the elves remain vigilent against invasion of any kind.
“A Single Thread” provides an introduction to the Forest Kingdom. I hope you’ll enjoy this tale and consider venturing futher into the Kingdom of Legends setting.
This story is available for $.99 at the following online bookstores:
Barnes & Noble