It is said that our tribe was in their thirty thousandth moon cycle when men first came to the valley. This chronicle hopes to detail some of the history, so that all generations to come can know of the tale. We were there when they came, savages into the hills and valleys, and we were there when one of them was raised above the others, granted the eyes to see. This is the story of that happening.

They changed the landscape in every way. While those of our tribe in the hills were merely observers, there were sprites that fled the arrival of mankind. The lumbering creatures destroyed their lakeside abodes and tore down the trees surrounding them in order to build their own crude wooden shelters.

We helped all those we could, but a hilltop life is not for most sprites, and as the homes of man grew more in number, those of our dearest cousins dwindled and many left us. It is said that there are still some Loch sprites beneath the waters, but now, more than three thousand moon cycles later, they are lost to our eyes.

There were also those who adapted and changed with the arrival of man. The Kelpies chose to fight. Still dwelling close to mankind’s settlement, they picked them off one by one, luring them to their watery halls. What began as a way to run the men off, evolved over time. Their original intentions forgotten, the Kelpies who live among us today live for blood and death. No longer fighting for freedom, they simply revel in the pain and suffering they cause to the creatures around them; the only ones among us, who allow themselves to be readily visible to mankind.

From the moment man arrived here, it was as if he was blind; unable to see us. While some of the tribes debated whether or not to reveal ourselves, it was agreed that we should live apart from man. Their behaviour showed them to be brutal and cruel, and the loss of so many of our kind still stung too much for the elders to consider peace.

There were those, of course, who did not pay attention to such an edict; whether through hatred, or purely curiosity, there were always those who chose to reveal themselves to man. So to the two-legs, we became myth, and as times changed and they developed, we vanished completely. We lived around pools and waterfalls in areas the large bumbling creatures would rarely tread.

Life continued like this for many cycles. We grew to accept our new neighbours, even though they never seemed satisfied with their existence. They constantly seemed to be changing, expanding their influence throughout the valley.

No longer killing the animals in the hills for survival, they began to hunt for sport. This caused a great animosity for the humans, which still exists today for many of the magical peoples. For our own tribe however, things began to change. As a race, we Nuggies have always been curious. Not as mischievous as the Brownies, we were fascinated, but preferred to watch rather than steal into man’s houses and make fun.

Through our observations, we noticed changes in them that the others did not. While they did have savage traits and seemed in some ways incapable of living in harmony with nature, there were those among them who seemed different. One among these was to be chosen for a higher purpose. Before this purpose can be fully explained, it is necessary to detail some history of the land itself which surrounds us.

As any Nuggie from a spratling knows, this land in which we dwell is charged with magic. From the rocks beneath our feet, energy flows, making it an ideal dwelling place for many of the creatures who live here. Back when the earth was young, such magic was very strong, and it is said that the trees themselves were alive with it. Not alive in any sense that we can understand, but conscious and awake, listening to the world and learning from it.

When man came, this began to change. As he tore down the noble trees around us, many of them, grief stricken, chose to simply go to sleep; to close their eyes to the horror they saw around them. There were those however who thought there should be a different path.

It was said that a mighty oak chose to find ways to communicate with the valley and its creatures. He chose the fairies as his allies, and as a gift, gave them the grove in which he and his children grew as their home. He knew that this would be a binding pact. Having given the fairies a place to thrive, it would also use their magic to protect his children for the rest of time. Even we cannot find this grove easily, the fairies home can only be found, should they choose to show it to you.

This same oak decided that it was necessary to commune with man. In return for his glorious gift, the fairies were to communicate with man on his behalf. He had listened for many cycles to man and believed that their thirst for knowledge could be both terrible and wondrous. His wisdom told him that mankind could bring a great many dangers to the valley, that they would struggle to understand its magic, and that such exploration could be the end of all.

It was because of this that he decided a certain man should be chosen. This man should be given a gift. The gift would open the man’s eyes to the magic that surrounded him, but it would only be given, if he would agree to respect the magic of the valley, and also pledge he and his descendents to the protection of this place.

So, it is told that the fairies approached this man, chosen for his strong mind and love of nature. He was led by the fairies to the grove where the oak and his children dwelled. The man was terrified by the prospect of what the tree was proposing, but was assured by the mighty oak and the fairies that this was necessary if the place they had all chosen dwell was to survive.

The man agreed to make a blood pact with the tree. Offering some of his own blood to nourish the roots, the oak responded by shedding one of his branches. As the tree sang, the fairies swarmed around this branch and fashioned it into a mighty staff. The markings upon the staff are said to detail the rules of this pact; although today, there are few with the knowledge to understand the sacred lettering. Even those who now bear it have lost the language which was used.

In this way, the man was given a part of the mighty tree. This was to be his guide; a tool, with which he would be able to use the magic of the valley. Bound with his own blood, this staff could never be used except by the man and his descendants. So the oak hoped it could never be used for evil.

It was with this act that the Staff Wielders came to be amongst us; a line of men who defended the valley from the attacks by his own kind, and was able to commune with all magical creatures. A shield against the dark, he would help to maintain the fragile harmony within the valley that allowed us all to co-exist.

There have been times when we have found it necessary to communicate and even work with the Staff Wielders, but that is another tale, for another day.

A Nuggie Buy on Olida
Graphics by Paul Gildea