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Lore:Systres History Addendum: The Druids of Galen

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Systres History Addendum: The Druids of Galen
A scholar's look at the Druids and their history in the Systres

As discussed by Dean Heladren in the main Systres History texts, the druids have played a critical role in shaping our understanding of the archipelago. The isle of Galen has been the heart of the True Way since the original diaspora from High Rock, with oral tradition stating it was the site of their first landing in 1E 330.

(As an aside, some ancient texts claim that before there were Bretons, there were a group of Nedes known as the Druids of Galen, but what we know of them is mostly legend. This document concerns the druids that eventually reached the Systres. Otherwise, it is a largely academic term.)

We can scarcely imagine what it was like in the early days on Galen. No doubt a beautiful, moving contrast to the experience of living on the Direnni-dominated mainland. Finally free to pursue their own spirituality and gifted with the boundless generosity of the Green, the first druid envoys reshaped the island into a paradise. Many of the legendary sites of power and unique creatures that haunt the deep woods appeared during these early years of druid occupation.

The last Druid King, Kasorayn, was the architect behind the stability and growth during this period. Contemporary accounts place the Druid King in a contemplative space, observing his followers from afar and only intervening when absolutely necessary. Despite this, he committed considerable resources both magical and mundane to reinforcing the druids' new home. We need only read modern accounts of the chimeras, the forest wraiths, and even more strange phenomenon stalking the ancient stones of Galen to know this to be true.

The Druid King's death is steeped in mystery, with some accounts stating he simply retired to the hinterlands of the Systres. In this version of events the Druid King passed away peacefully, still lauded and revered by his people but allowed his privacy and preferred isolation. In other accounts, something violent and foul put an end to his reign abruptly. Were some druids pushing for a return to High Rock in force to strike down their former oppressors? With few written records and conflicting oral traditions, we may never know for sure.

Over the centuries that followed the Druid King's death, the deep green was sacrosanct. While the Sinestral assault of 1E 660 destroyed many of the physical records of the time, it seems many of the druids themselves survived the invasion of the "Lefthanded Elves." By retreating to the interior of Galen, the children of Kasorayn were able to array the full might of their defenses against these invaders.

While Dean Heladren suggests that the eruption of Mount Firesong in 1E 668 may be somehow related to the Red Mountain disaster, I have found evidence the druids themselves may have coaxed the volcano on Y'ffelon to life. While druids died in the wake of the blast, to be sure, their sacred sites at the heart of Galen largely survived, and I have found ample evidence to suggest that was no coincidence.

Though the Draoife, the ruling council of druids, did not publicly participate in the formation of the All-Flags Navy many centuries later, I've found several contemporaneous accounts that attest druids did sail with the armada. They acted as weather-soothers and wayfinders on the journey to Thras, and may have even played a role in the sinking of the continent. Though, to be clear, that is merely speculation on my part based on what scant records survive. What is clear, however, is that the wounded and maimed among the Navy were tended to extensively by druidic healers upon Baron Admiral Olo's return.

Druidic faith and their facility for healing came into focus again after a second eruption of Mount Firesong near the end of the First Era. While the remaining local nobility and mainland dukes were happy to allow Systrean commoners to starve, the Firesong, Eldertide, and in particular Stonelore Circles deployed across the islands. They soothed the flames from the volcano, built shelters for the homeless, healed burns, and grew new supplies to sustain the displaced.

The use of druidic words like "vailte," "draigh," and "gaithe" in common parlance among the people of the Systres stems from this period in history, known colloquially as the Green Years. This marks one of the most vigorous, participatory moments in druidic history, where every member of the True Way left their sacred sites and the deep green to ensure their friends, neighbors, and families would survive.

This brings us to recent history, the endless procession of ownership that has seen the Systres Archipelago pass from House Guimard to various versions of the Empire to Bretonic Coin-Lords to House Mornard, and now, of course, to semi-independent stewardship by the Daggerfall Covenant and House Dufort. Throughout these changes the druids of Galen have maintained their ancient traditions, barely noting the passing of documents in a gilded counting house in some distant land. Most of the lords and ladies that manage these islands have seen fit to allow the Draoife to hold their own council, only interceding when needed. In particular, the somewhat disgraced House Mornard has a long history of tolerating the druid circles.

In fact, both groups represent mirrored tales on the isle of Galen. One foot planted firmly in the past, the other on the sands of an uncertain future.