The History of Pak’Cafan
The wolves are baying. The sounds reverberate through the trees, their echo’s seemingly playing a game of hide and seek as the tendrils of sound slink and slither through the dense underbrush of the forest. Yet the sounds are barely noticed by those gathered in a well cared for grove of trees in an unremarkable corner of this vast forest.
While the tendrils are quickly chased off by coarser sounds, darkness wages its own battle against the wisps of firelight surrounding the edges of the campsite. But this night, the darkness will not gain a foothold here, for tonight the bonfire crackles with energy not seen in these parts but for once a year. Tonight they gather.
The wisps and embers of fire dance and leap into the cold nights air away from the bonfire and those near it for warmth. The light of the fire embraces the people surrounding it, illuminating many different faces, colors, and sizes. Singing the edges of hair or bread with no discrimination or care, but such is the way of fire.
It is the nature of the people gathered here tonight to celebrate. The sounds of boasting and bragging are quickly followed by quips and laughter as the listeners cajole the boisterous celebrants. Where as silence descends on various other pockets of the campsite as mugs of ale are raised for fallen compatriots. Such juxtaposition is only found in places of great history and great legacy. This is such a place.
This grove has been the home of these people for many years, and has seen many footsteps crush and protect the underbrush in turn. Those here tonight make up but a small gem in the mosaic history that was there before them. Called by various names in various places of the worlds, those here go by a simple name and hold to a very simple truth. They are called Pak’Cafan, and the truth they hold by is Honor. Guild by name, family by deed, tonight they gather to celebrate the past histories and memories of their time.
The telltale clamor of a dwarf well into his mug can be seen attempting to attract attention near a well-lit corner of the festivities. While eliciting more laughs than he intended, he does garner enough attention that he finds need to prop himself on top of a table. Considering his celebratory nature and the number of drinks that he has put away tonight, it wasn’t a surprise to those who were sharing the duck that now had a metal boot as the main dish instead.
A few sets of hands quickly reached up and tossed the dwarf head long into a nearby water trough giving the dwarf a refreshing, if not sudden, sobering experience. Thankfully the laughter that followed created a barrier of sound that protected the gentler folk from hearing the stream of obscenities flowing from the dwarf who resembles a drowned rat in armor.
Much like the quiet before a coming storm, the laughter was no longer there, leaving the dwarf sputtering looking at a field of backsides. With water steadily falling from his matted hair the dwarf stood up to gaze upon a tall, cloaked figure crouched upon the table he recently vacated.
Whispers through the crowd seemed to echo the same sentiments. No one had seen this person before. How did he get through the sentries? I can’t see his face. Who is this? Is he saying anything? Yet as quickly as the whispers started they died out as the figure stood erect.
In a gentile voice, as soothing as it was enigmatic, the figure spoke, his voice covering the gathering with ease although seemingly to lie right at the sword’s edge of hearing. To speak would mean missing something, and even the sputtering of the dwarf quickly silenced.
“…for while I hate to step on the toes of the song weavers gathered here today, I bid you patience with me. For this night I bring with me a story that I think many of you will enjoy. It’s a story that many of you might have heard over time in snippets. Tonight I intend on telling you the entire story.
“However, before I begin, please take a moment to arrange yourselves and take a seat, as some of you look quite uncomfortable in your current predicaments.” With that a spell was seemingly broken and people picked up where they left off, although still taking a glance or two over their shoulder to the cloaked figure.
As the dwarf was hauled off to sit by the fire by some of his brethren, he could be heard complaining about the proper way to handle a dwarf. Although a well timed mug by a ranger quieted him up some.
A pair of High Elves, Paladin and Cleric by profession walked around the area the stranger had made into his auditorium and made sure everyone was settled in fine. Making sure that the Gnomes and Lurikeens present were all going to stay out of trouble. However they did give the group of Trolls a wide berth, much to the enjoyment of a particular Halfling who was stowing away his tradesman’s tools.
One of the Wardens was beckoned to the side of the stranger, who quickly bounded off into the forest. Shortly returning with the Rangers, Wardens and few Druids who drew the short straws for duty tonight.
In seeing this, one ranger with crimson hair rushed up to the platform attempting to admonish the stranger for leaving the camp defenseless. The stranger tilted his head twords the incoming elf and folded his hands across his lap waiting for the elf to run into the Ogre that had interjected himself between the two. The Ogre crossed his arms in a protective stance, his blades showing much signs of wear and tear as the firelight reflected off them in eerie patterns. The elf quickly decided not to attempt adding more scars to this Ogre just to tell this stranger that this was a stupid mistake. He turned around making sure his bow was near and quiver was full.
As he was leaving a Firbolg caught up to him as he was scurrying away catching him in his well calloused hands. Observers thought they heard him trying to tell the elf that if anyone was stupid enough to attack this gathering that they would deserve the ass kicking they got. The elf shrugged in resignation as the Firbolg replaced one of his two maces he had extracted for emphasis during his talks.
On the other side of the camp a Mage was being admonished by one of the elven druids for having his pet out still. Behind those two a Lurikeen Enchanter is finishing up a conversation with an Elven Wizard about the finer points of PBAE spells. Nearby them a soft-spoken Celtic druid finishes bandaging a Barbarian rogue who got a bit to close to one of the earlier demonstrations.
Two long term friend Elven Enchanters are finally able to breathe a sigh of relief as they can now be rid of the Eldrich who’s woes of void are foreign to them. A dark elven rogue settles in for a story holding the hand of his Paladin companion. A Celtic Blademaster, Firbolg Hero, and a Firbolg druid roll up their torn parchment outlining their current supplies of rams and catapults for later campaigns, all the while a Gnome rogue watches from the sidelines for more knowledge knowing his debating skills are unmatched.
An Elven bard playing with various masks and doing an odd dance winces as a Barbarian Shaman hits him upside the head with a paw as large as a bear’s. A Euridite Paladin watching from the sidelines chuckles as the Barbarian walks off, almost missing the sudden flash as a Wizard teleports in bringing a few latecomers including a Beastlord of renowned experience with all races present.
His comfort level is matched only by an Ogre sitting on lavish cushions surrounded by women, who he is having to subdue at the moment. The Elf nearest to him hardly wears any clothes while a Dwarven Paladin looks away in disgust, only to turn around into a Dark Elven Necromancers skeleton disintegrate in front of him.
A Half-Elven ranger sits down, noticing a Bluebird on the fringes of the camp, not sure if what he is seeing real, or a memory of what he once saw and loved. An Elven Wizard makes herself as comfortable as possible while reminiscing of her own loves of the past. In contrast, a well armored and well equipped Dwarven Cleric settles himself in the midst of the roughest looking fighters around ready to listen so he can get back to the killin.
A Celtic Champion looks on without speaking as another Champion busies herself with trinketing near him. A Lurikeen Enchanter swats at a Lurikeen in blue, who until swatted was sitting out of view of eyesight. On cue one more Lurikeen, an Elven Nightshade, and an Elven maiden wielding blades pop into view.
Another corner reveals a Firbolg Heroine in pink putting away the mugs of her companions, an Elven Mentalist, a Celtic and Firbolg Blademaster, and a Firbolg Druid. A tissue is lowered from the corner of an eye of a Celtic Heroine of renowned talents, while a Firbolg Druid, a Celtic Champion and a Lurikeen Mentalist standby in remembrance.
As if on cue a single wolf bays in the distance, calling to his pack as wolves are want to do. Only when the last echo of the wolf’s cry is silenced does the figure begin to talk. “Tonight I will tell you the tale of the origins of Pak. Some of you might have heard tidbits here and there, and maybe even some of you were there yourself, but as oral tradition tends to go, the stories are almost never the same. I have been charged with providing you all with the story as it was, of how you all came to be sitting around this fire this eve.”
As the figure stood and talked, it seemed as if he could cover the entire audience with his shrouded gaze, looking at nobody and everybody at the same time, yet revealing nothing of who he was. “The story begins in the world of Norrath many years ago, yet as you here will know it did not end there nor limit itself to that. But it did begin there. Specifically it began in the home of the elves and the dwarves there, in Greater Faydark and Butcherblock mountains. These were the times when traveling was dangerous and dark unknowns lined every corner and campsite.
“But the call of adventure was strong in these lands, and the use of magic was encouraged. A potent combination when treasure, danger and excitement lure youths from their sleepy existence. The blacksmiths were alive with the sounds of metal ringing, knowing that this time their creation would be put to more use than on the side of royalty. The economy boomed with the sale of spell reagents and items for the traveler. And mother’s wept for their children, male and female alike, who answered the call.
“Of these early adventurers four come to mind immediately. Kinek, the dwarven cleric who was always looking for his baseball. Ainin the Paladin of Butcherblock who, in his early years, couldn’t get enough of rolling around on the ground as he ran. Ashirae, the Wizard who was able to leave the confines of her personal torture to adventure and meet new people. And Cougar, a quiet Elven Druid who lost his mother to a Dark Elf attack that would take years for him to get over his innate hatred for their kind.
“These 4 formed an early friendship in those early years of their travels. They met up with a few other adventurers, some were but nightly companions with little impact on the bigger picture of the story, and others would have a more lasting impact. One such night of hunting found our friends together with another dwarf who spoke of the oddest thing.
“This dwarf’s idea, above and beyond sitting in the campfire in-between goblin raids, was to unite a common group of adventurers to form a guild. ‘Not just any guild!’ he would exclaim, but a guild that would unite all the races of Faydwer. This dwarf passed out shortly thereafter, nor was he seen much after that night, but a seed had been planted.
“Soon word came of a Half-Elven Ranger from Qeynos that had traveled to Freeport that went by the name of Feraldenar. He quickly proved his prowess in battle fighting the dervishes of the deserts of Ro with our companions and they found themselves fighting side by side frequently when Feraldenar was in from his duties to the Ranger’s Order.
“Feraldenar was courting a young Half-Elven bard by the name of Peregryn during this time, and he would bring her out to fight when she could be pried away from her witty discourses at her job in Freeport. Peregryn had the talent of lightening up the travel times and putting people in their place when they deserved it with that glib tongue of hers.
“As such, she was always welcomed by everyone, and in particular by Ashirae. These were the first two ladies of Pak’Cafan, and the founders of the ‘Rusty Daggers’. The implications of this I do not know the specifics of, but I do know that any of the men would quickly find another topic to talk of, or place to hunt at should any of the women bring out one of their Rusty Daggers they carried.
“Another ranger by the name of Nurgar, become frequent companions as well hunting the Commonlands around Freeport. However Nurgar always had a freeflowing spirit and came and went like the wind. When he did show up, he was always a welcome addition and would fight as fierce as any warrior.
“However, wanderlust soon set in on the companions and a few of them set out to travel to Qeynos and beyond. These travels took them the dungeon of Blackburrow, the home of the Blackburrow Gnolls, a dusty dank hole of the filthy dogs. Here they found a badly scarred dwarf by the name of Aalek, Paladin by name, slayer of gnolls by trade. His axe saved Ashirae many times while hunting here, and helped escort her to the chilly lands of Everfrost for the first time, earning her trust and a place among the companions.
“The constant travel become tiresome for some, and they returned back to their hunting grounds of old. To the island of their home and the area surrounding Freeport. Unfortunately, others stayed out adventuring, especially the druid Cougar. Cougar always showed the slight signs of a recluse and would wander off on his own, only to return a few weeks later much stronger than one would imagine was possible in such a short amount of time. His foray’s alone would quickly earn him the respect of one well traveled and he could quickly travel from place to place due to the skills the Druidic Order had taught him.
“The first problem that set in was when these early companions could not hire a courier to deliver messages to one another. The couriers would turn them down, saying they had too much business to handle with guilds that they could not support the extra work from individuals, let alone an individual who wanted the same message sent to various people.
“In voicing their frustration, the companions decided that the only solution was to form a guild of their own so that they could better communicate with one another. So a meeting place and time was decided, and the Town of Rivervale was chosen as a neutral town midway between the two shores as the ideal place to have a meeting.
“It was here, in Rivervale, that our companions got together and talked about what would become the guild you are all apart of now. The name they finally decided on was thought up by Feraldenar, Pak’Cafan. This name is merely an arrangement of the first letters of these eight people gathered there today. Peregryn, Aalek, Kinek, Cougar, Ashirae, Feraldenar, Ainin, and Nurgar.
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“Cougar came up with the idea behind the guild however, with the strong feelings he had towards Dark Elves still and from the seed planted long ago. He approached the companions with the idea behind a Faydwer only guild. One that would never assist, group with, or be guilded with any of the vile races of Norrath – Trolls, Ogres, and most importantly Dark Elves. Likewise, those Gnomes who practiced the dark arts of Necromancy would never be looked upon with the same distaste.
“Seeing as how many of the companions had traveled with Cougar for some time, his ideas had spread between them all and this was readily accepted. Although the exact reason or event that Cougar was chosen to be the head of this guild, I do not know. It just was a commonly accepted thing as things progressed and matured.
“The members then decided to register themselves within Freeport and set out immediately. Unfortunately, the registrars in Freeport told them they needed ten people, not eight, to make it legally binding. It was during this time that they decided that to restrict their guild to Faydwer only races would be a very limiting factor, and decided to open it up all good races and classes was a better idea, and less headache to boot. And so it was, for many many years.
“The search was on then for suitable members to our guild that we enjoyed fighting with that held Honor, Truth, and Family as important things. Not to mention that they had pretty steep membership requirements in that members couldn’t group with any of the evil races or classes.
“A human monk that fought with us around the Unrest Mansion volunteered to assist in the creation, but he didn’t have any long term plans to stick around. Unfortunately, as oral tradition goes, his name has long ago since become unpronounceable as he truly didn’t stick around much longer than traveling with everyone to Freeport for the registration.
“Which led to the last member they needed. The companions knew who they wanted to join them, but this person needed a lot of encouragement. A Ranger by trade, an outcast by choice. He hunted the same lands Cougar was at the time, out in the Plains of Karana, and happened to fight with some of the other 8 from time to time. His name was Rumbler. After many weeks of convincing, he finally relented to the trip to Freeport.
“And so it was these ten that formed Pak’Cafan. Unfortunately, this same day, Aalek left saying that he was off to go back to his Gnoll slaying and we would see him soon…. the companions never heard from him again. The monk shortly left like he told them he would and they were back down to eight. From these eight came many more friends. From the enchanter brothers, Tempus and Sylvantas, to Cougar’s Childe Redleaf, to the Euridite’s like Ollie, the innocence of Nalance and many others too plentiful to name. Yet still, the guild grew slowly due to the restrictions that were proving cumbersome.
“It wasn’t until Cougar finally conquered his hatred for the Dark Elves that things started to really prosper for the guild, and finally those ‘evil’ races and classes who proved themselves were finally accepted as friends and family. Many victories were boasted about and much fun was to be had.
“By now the lands had been well hunted, and a few new continents had been found, even a new race, the Iksar. Things were good, perhaps too good and there was bound to be a change. Fortunately, this change was for the good even though it was a dark time in the guilds history. A new world had been found, the world of Camelot.
“Cougar was one of the first who had explored over there and returned with news of the new lands, and he was bound and determined to take Pak over there. He was going and he wasn’t sure if he would be back. While this saddened him deeply, he was overjoyed and overstressed with the details surrounding the logistical problem of moving so many people around like this.
“One of the hardest choices came when he had to choose a successor on Norrath. While he planned on retaining some hand on the guild, he knew he couldn’t administer the day to day affairs of the guild there. It was then he decided upon Nalance to succeed him, the innocent cleric who literally grew up in their ranks from almost the day she set foot outside of Felwithe. It was Nalance’s strength and leadership that held the guild together in Norrath as many of the guild set out with the promise of new excitement and adventure and maintained the guild in Norrath so that when those explorers returned, there would be a place to return to.
“Those who left for Camelot settled in the lands of Hibernia and quickly made a name for themselves. Under Cougar’s leadership and from a plethora of likeminded individuals, they quickly established themselves as leaders of the realm and made many new friends along the way.
“The strength of the guild prospers in both worlds today due to the individual effort of every guild member that has ever passed through this land. Be proud of that, and be proud of the honor that your founders instilled and ground into the name that you now claim to be a part of. While the world of Norrath now prospers under Derringers firm hand, and Hibernia follows Cougar, they both share the common history that I have told you today.”
And with that, the figure started to turn translucent and little pieces of him started to float away as embers flee from a fire. As suddenly as he came, he was gone, but an afterimage in the minds of those collected around him.
When asked later on, no one would be able to agree on what stood before them this night. Some would describe him as a sneaky, lithe, mischievous man. Others would say he walked with the grace of any born to the woods. And there were those who gave him as wide of a berth as they typically give to the trolls. Each person had a different image of this figure embedded in his or her minds eye.
But one thing was for certain, it was an accurate summation of the guild with very little emphasis from a single persons slant. The remainder of the night was filled with people discussing the various holes in the story that the figure left out. The various marriages inside the guild, the merger of Fists of Tunare, the dragon slayings, the guild emblem, the glorious come from behind keep defenses.
After some time had passed and the moon was very low on the horizon, the talk suddenly started to die out. There was a noise on the air that couldn’t be made out. Yet slowly, one by one, mugs started to be raised in the air. Each one for personal reasons, yet all for the common respect and in homage to the honor that they carry with them daily.
The sound was the lone wolf baying. Yet this time he was joined by his entire pack as they returned from the hunt, culminating in a harmonious communal sound that coincided with every mug at the gathering raised high.
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