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Naiads

Naiads.

Before the Earth was fully formed, there were guiding spirits upon it. They worked in concert with natural forces to direct the development of the world and to engineer, in part, the advent of complex creatures. These beings lived long lives, but as the world began to grow and change on its own they found their energies waning. The arrival of such creatures as humans was fortold, but as time wore on the guiding spirits realized that they would not persist to see men awake. As they faded from the world, they built a fountain into which they poured the water of their life, scarce as it was, and it flowed from there into northern lands through a lush valley paradise to split into four rivers before its power dwindled and the Water of Life drained, through many mouths, into the sea. From this fountain and from these waters drank the first of the new spirits that were born into the world at that time, and they took the shapes of the animals and other natural things which the guiding spirits had had a hand in forming, and were imbued with some of their power. They became guardian spirits, Wardens of the World, and they were many, and they watched over the newly emerging race of men, though not all Wardens were benign.

They are distinguished according to the forms they took, which are listed here:

  • Owlings - spirits of the wind, the trees, and night, who took shapes like owls.
  • Faeries - mischievous spirits of wish and will, who took the shapes like those of butterflies and moths.
  • Naiads - spirits of rain and deep water, who took the shapes of fish and water birds.
  • The Gog and the Magog - spirits of heat and earth, the former of which took shapes like stones and the latter of which were the largest wardens, having shapes like hills.
  • Dryads - spirits of growing things who took shapes like those of plants and trees. Many of these chose to remain formless.
  • Chiron - spirits of the fields and of fertility, who took the shapes of horned animals and horses.
  • Nahual - the most diverse group of Wardens. The Nahual were spirits of speech, the hunt, and community, though they counted among their ranks certain spirits of chaos. The Nahual drank first from the fountain of the Water of Life, and they received the greatest part of the guiding spirits' power. They could change shape at will and took many different forms, though the preferred those of dogs and cats.
  • Ondine - spirits of battle and song - the strongest of the Wardens. On land, they walked often as great bears of the mountains and deep forests, but at the shores of the sea they were sometimes called selkies and took the forms of sea lions.

The Wardens lived sometimes among men, and as humans grew into thinking creatures, many came to worship the Wardens as gods. This, the Throne of the Celestial Plane saw as an offense toward their king, god, who decided, as he saw men developing, that he wanted dominion over all the Earth as well as Heaven. There was a long and terrible war. Angels crossed onto the Material Plane and were eventually successful in purging the Earth of the Wardens. Most of them were sent back into the dark from whence they came, but a small number were able to hide and escape the wrath of Heaven. Now, the Wardens are rare, but their numbers are growing again, and there is hatred in this last remnant for the power of Heaven and a sadness for the depths to which men have fallen. There are a few secret places where the Wardens have refuge, but Eadsville boasts the largest concentration of them. Rocky, an ancient gog and an advocate for waging yet another war against Heaven, has opened a bar and built a garden along the edge of Dream and the waking world in which Wardens can live and flourish without the otherwise constant fear of persecution.

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