“Man or Beast: the Drolvarg”
By Larinia Thistlemore
Edited by Bellor Heartsbeck
This tome dates from before the Cataclysm. It is written by a human woman who traveled to Firiona Vie and had a rare look at the inner workings of the Drolvarg. Though it is hard to say what may have changed about them in the recent tumultuous passing of time, there are still important insights to be taken from the text What is the link between human and Drolvarg? To what extent does humanity carry weight of responsibility? The text addresses these issues in an astoundingly frank manner.
By the hand of Larinia Thistlemore
In traveling to Kunark, I knew I was embarking upon a rare adventure. I thought the elves of Firiona Vie incredibly kind in allowing me to establish a base of operations in their fort from which to study the local flora and fauna, and expressed to them my gratitude daily. The elves warned me of the danger brought about by the Drolvarg, but I naively assumed them to have no interest in harassing a simple researcher.So long as I didn’t threaten their territory, I would not be a target of their violence. How very wrong I was.
It was my second day of study that they found me. The first day had passed rather uneventfully, and I had filled pages with sketches and observations of the many new species and variants I had come across. It was only a few hours into the next thy, but I was growing frustrated with not finding anything new So I pressed in deeper, moving further away from Firiona Vie.
The elves had warned me to stay close so that I could run to the safety of the fort’s walls if anything went awry, but I wanted to find some of the fabled variants this continent was said to possess. I had heard, though I now long regard as a story, of a ferm the turquoise shade of a clear ocean on a sunny day that was larger than an elf and sometimes thought to snack on them, and of many other similarly aberrant varieties of plants and animals.Searching for such fables, I went far beyond the line of safety, and though it should have come as no surprise that when I looked up from studying a peculiar colored lich, I found myself surrounded, it still did. And I still screamed quite wonderfully.
But who could hear such a scream? I was miles from Firiona Vie. Only my captors heard them, and it elicited nothing but some hoarse, guttural breathing I can only assume was laughter.
I then froze completely. What else should I have done, The tallest of them stood more than three feet taller than me, and even the shortest stood was well more than a foot and a half above me. I was armed only with a pair of short swords, and though I was not an incapable fighter, I would never call myself a warrior. I threw myself to the ground. supplicant, and begged for their mercy. It was mercy, truly, that they didn’t kill me.Instead, I was bound and dragged to their encampment There I was bound tighter still and left prone. I awaited, terrified, for my fate. In time, one of them, a scrawnier one wearing mismatched armor came to my side and fed me some gristly meat and water. I was surprised that he was not altogether rough with me, making sure the food actually found its way into my mouth and even sitting me upright for the whole thing.
I thought perhaps I had something of an ally, as much of one as I could hope for, at any rate.
I managed to exchange a few words with him. He was the lowest of the lowest peons in the camp, which is why he was commanded to deal with me. From just a few vague observations, it seemed to me that they were regimented very severely. Simply the way they carried themselves and interacted suggested a stark hierarchy. I picked out ranks such as “Ravishers” “growlers” and “gnawers,” and all spoke with reverence about their General.It spoke volumes of what they thought of me that their lowest ranked individual should be given the unwanted task of seeing to me. Still, I was encouraged at his willingness to converse with me and his thoughtful manner. More and more, watching their organization and interactions, I began to recognize things. I remembered a rumor I had once heard, that the Drolvarg were in fact lycanthropes, a creature that is both dually human and wolf, and began to believe the truth of it.
The Drolvarg that came the next day and the day after that to feed me were not so kind as the first. They shoved the food in my mouth roughly and didn’t seem to even glance at whether it stayed. The water was mostly spilled upon my face, and they kicked me if I coughed or even really made any sounds. I began to grow weaker from hunger and thirst and the beatings only hurt more. Finally, on the fifth day, my first Drolvarg returned.He once again treated me well, and for the first time since in days, the world stopped spinning as I took in sustenance. Looking upon my sympathetic captor, I couldn’t help but see something there that felt very familiar, and that sense of humanity returned. I decided to be bold, staking everything on appealing to that humanity. “Your people,” I said finally, “were you once lycanthropes? Men and wolves mixed?”
I knew my mistake immediately. With that, ge growled and his eyes went cold. I shrunk back, not quite knowing what l had done. “We have no connection to your weak race,” he snapped at me. “We are Drolvarg. Not human. Innoruuk created us as we are in the image he wished for us.” With that, he threw my remaining food on the ground.
And with that, I lost the only ally I had in that place. But fortunately, within a week I was finally rescued.I thought the elves would have disregarded me completely. They had warned me, I hadn’t listened, and that was my fate. But they tracked me to this spot and assaulted the group of Drolvarg. After a long battle, the remaining Drolvarg fled. When they released me, I could barely stand, and so they made me a litter and carried me back. As we were leaving the camp, I saw my Drolvarg ally among the bodies. I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sorrow. Even later as they loaded me, still not fully healed, on a boat for Qeynos.
One would think I’d have emerged from this quick to declare them beasts, to denounce any link some may speculate they have to humanity, but with what I have seen of humanity, I am not so sure. We all have in us the capacity for brutality. Man and beast alike. The only difference between a man and a beast is man is his awareness of this capacity and the subsequent formation of personal identity. Our identities justify our actions, our brutalities.My captors were aware of themselves, and of their actions, and whether or not they were once tied to the race of men, they are, without a doubt, humanoid. They are not beasts, because they know what they do, and they do it for their own reasons; regardless of whether or not I can understand them.
Does this mean I forgive them, No, beasts can be forgiven because they don’t know what they do, but humanoids bear responsibility for their actions. Their humanity only makes them all the more culpable.
I have not yet returned to Kunark, but I plan to some day, so that I may finish my research – provided the elves will let me. Should I be allowed back, I will go far better armed and prepared to deal with cunning humanoids, not monstrous beasts. Anyone preparing to fight them should understand that they are clever and brutally militaristic.They sometimes trade with others for weapons and armor, but use almost exclusively bronze weapons and armor of their own, wicked designs. On the battlefield, as in all they do, they are in complete control. These lessons I carry with me, and would pass on to any others who may encounter them.