The Rangers are a well-known organization within the Silver Moon Empire. They are not to be confused with the common woodsman, or ranger, an expert in the ways of forest and field; a true Ranger follows the ways of the "Balance" and the edicts of the Brotherhood of the Elders. Whether the order was founded by the Elves when they came to Arboria or they existed before their arrival is shrouded in the mist of ancient history. Many may ask, "Where have they been all these years?" In truth, the Rangers have been here all along, working behind the scenes to ensure their way of life could continue.
When Cornelius Dreven united the six Regions under the banner of the Silver Moon Empire (Shadokhan had not yet been formed), the leader of the Rangers, known as the 'Everleaf,' or Ais Senori, decided to bring certain of their activities into the light, taking a more proactive and public role in the hopes that the Balance Icaruss had so badly damaged could be restored and maintained into the future. The refusal of Balthazor's Archmage, Irma, to allow the Rangers into her realm meant that they had to lay low still there, and other of their activities have required secrecy and subtlety all along, but the Rangers became a known and respected faction swiftly.
Since that time, the secretive Everleaf has met with the Elven Arch-Mage, Tequin Shaldolf-Sundew, and the current High Druid to ensure the active role of the Rangers within Arboria and put things into motion to ensure Rangers throughout the Empire can stay vigilant. Thereby, they may fulfill their duties without any interference from the current regimes in power.
The Rangers of Arboria are perhaps the most open and accepting group in the entirety of the Silver Moon Empire. Their group consists of what some may call a misfit band of elves, humans, dwarves, gnolls, crossbreeds, and even folk from beyond the Portal. The order of Rangers does not shun anyone who wishes to join them on the basis of class, upbringing, gender, age, or magical gifts. What truly matters is whether the person in question has the true calling in his or her heart.
As with most orders in Lyran Tal, the Rangers have several levels of members. The common ranks are, from lowest to highest:
These titles are often used outside the order, since they are an indication of how skilled the Ranger is. Once the rank of Ranger is reached, he or she could be picked by Everleaf to become a Master Ranger. These Master Rangers make up the Head Council, and as such the leadership at this level is constantly fresh and shifting.
There are single Master Rangers assigned to "watch over" different regions of the Empire. Each of the seven Regions of the former Silver Moon Empire has at least one Master Ranger serving, while a few others may roam farther outside the borders of the known regions. The duties of a Master Ranger are rigorous, and since most Master Rangers come from Arboria, extended periods in less hospitable regions often tax the abilities of these Rangers, leaving them weary and in need of rest before their next assignment. Also, because most Master Rangers are not natives of the regions they are placed in charge of, while they are surely competent and able Rangers, they are not necessarily the most skilled in their new environment. A good Master Ranger, though, must have reasonable knowledge of all terrains, and as such appointment to this position shows an extra level of commitment and training. Out of duty to the Brotherhood, Everleaf assigns Master Rangers for no more than a few years to a given region at a time; after serving their time as a Master Ranger, the Ranger returns to Arboria and is assigned the duties of a teacher while recovering from their previous assignment.
The Head Council reports to the Forest-Keeper, who remains in Arboria. The Forest-Keeper is charged with recording the history and actions of the order. The Forest-Keeper in turn reports to a single Ranger known only to the Forest-Keeper, Geomantic Arch-Mage, and the High Druid. That secret Ranger is the leader of the Brotherhood of Elders, and is simply referred to as Everleaf (largely among elves and humans) or the Ais Senori (among the Rangers themselves). Everleaf could be considered to hold the same rank as an Arch-mage.
It is Everleaf's duty to ensure that all of the Rangers work toward the same goal. Everleaf works in close conjunction with the Arch-Mage of Arboria and the High Druid to protect the sanctity of life and order, but also looks beyond Arboria to Hyathis as a whole, and thus does not always see eye-to-eye with his or her colleagues in Arboria.
The selection of the Forest Keeper is one of popular vote of all members of the Rangers, from Woodsman to Master Ranger, while the selection of Everleaf is a guarded secret and only known to the current Forest Keeper and the ones who served before.
The Rangers believe there is a proper alignment to all things. There is an ebb and flow of good and evil, life and death, growth and decay which has to take place in the natural world and the nature of man both in order to preserve and protect the equilibrium of the world around them. The Rangers call this fabric of forces the Balance, and it is this essential, leveling power that calls forth a Ranger and leads them to join the Brotherhood of the Elders.
A Ranger's first duty is to watch for anything or anybody who disturbs their sense of balance. It is important that the Ranger not take any hasty actions in restoring the natural order. Everything has to be carefully weighed and measured, and everything taken into consideration before the Ranger will pass judgment and at times may take very active steps to correct matters.
While Geomancers are the keepers of earth magic and Druids the worshippers of the land and nature, the Rangers call themselves the guardians of the earth. Together, the Geomancers, Druids and Rangers are referred to in Arboria as the "Sacred Triad", because in the course of history all three societies have agreed on issues that deal with protecting the earth and its inhabitants.
However, this is not entirely true, for the Elven geomancers have their own politics and beliefs, philosophies, rituals; the worship of Gaia goversn the Druids; and a Ranger answers only to their own hierarchy and the edicts of the Brotherhood of the Elders and are not bound to the same codes of conduct as the other two groups. Their laws and missions are rarely discussed outside the Order. The Archmage of Geomancy and the High Druid are the only non-Rangers who truly understand and know of all the motivations of the Rangers. If time of great distress befalls Arboria, the Archmage and the High Druid have been known to call on the Rangers to join forces to defend the region.
Since Rangers do not take interest in politics, power, or money, it is hard for outside forces to sway most Rangers from their convictions. This neutrality has become legendary over the years. Often, it is the Rangers the Arborian Archmage calls on if he is in need of an objective observer in delicate matters. Rangers also can find themselves summoned by the locals in the areas they are "serving" to settle conflicts between parties, because indeed Rangers hold the epitome of objectivity in their outlook.
Many theorize that the belief in the Balance may have derived from similar ancient philosophies held by the Druids and Elven, but history is unclear on the true origins of Rangers and the edicts of the Brotherhood. Some say they have been a part of Arboria even before the first tribe of the Elven ever set foot on the continent.
Many scholars in the Empire try to theorize just how the Rangers have trained themselves to learn their uncanny "sixth sense", and how it is tied in with the instinct the Elves have about nature. How it works and who teaches it is a closely guarded secret of the Order.
Druids say that the Rangers have learned to listen to the whispers of the Spirits. Rangers simply say that they follow the call of the Balance. It is true that the Rangers have learned to recognize shifts in sprits and shifts in the ley lines.
Unlike a magic user, Rangers do not draw on the ley lines themselves unless a Ranger is born into one of Gifts of Magic. It is rare for a Mage to join the ranks of the Rangers, but it has happened in the past and the Brotherhood of the Elders welcomes all who hear the calling.
Rangers are expert trackers and fighters in their own terrain; they know how to use the advantages of the land about them and its resources to give them the best advantage. Once a Ranger makes a land his own terrain, he becomes the foremost expert of it. It is the only way that they are able to detect and preserve the Balance of all things within it. For example, most would not be able to outrun an Arborian Ranger through the woods, nor dodge the pursuit of a Thermadorian Ranger in the vastness of the Desert. Many are stuck in the mindset that Rangers are creatures of the forest; this is not so, for the Order is everywhere and a Ranger must be versatile and well-versed in his or her region to maintain it.
Rangers sometimes seem empathic with animals. This is due to the knowledge gathered over years spent in close observation of nature and extensive training received from a Master Ranger. An experienced Ranger may be able to sense the mood of animals and in rare cases may be able to convey his or her intentions towards the creature.
A new apprentice to the Brotherhood is paired up with a Ranger at arrival. His or her teacher will spend the next 6 cycles training the newcomer in basic survival, test them for basic weapons skill and start teaching the philosophies of the Order. Once the six circles are over the Ranger will present the trainee to the Forest Keeper, at this point he or she will take the oath to join the Order or be given the opportunity to leave.
The Forest Keeper will select the next teacher and the newcomer starts to work towards the first Rank. At this point of the training stage weapons skills are honed, and the other main focus is the art of learning how to read the Balance of Life and all things. There is no set time limit for this first real stage of training and a trainee may have more than one teacher since the Rangers may be called out on missions at any time.
Once the Head Council finds the new pupil ready, the first rank is awarded and he/ she becomes a Woodsman. With this first rank, the trainee will become a full member of the Rangers and it also opens the door to a deeper understanding of the Balance and the edicts of the Elders.
It is said that the Rangers do not offer any teaching about magic or spells, just as it is said that a Ranger never tells a lie. Both are untrue. The Order of the Elders do use limited magic and a Ranger will tell a half-truth or a white lie to protect this secret with his or her life.
Experience, training and being aware of one's surroundings are a large part of reading the Balance. But even an Elf, with his longer lifespan and a natural sense of the magical forces of the land, cannot sense every shift in the Balance or in the nature of men. Since the vast majority of the Rangers are not born into any of the seven gifts, they do not have the advantage of a Mage in sensing the ever-shifting leylines.
It is the guarded secret of the Rangers how it is possible to have this uncanny "sixth sense" about the world. With every completed stage of their rigorous and harsh training a Ranger receives a mark on the body.
These symbols have been passed down from one Forest-Keeper and Everleaf to another. They are as old as the Order and could only be described as Rune Magic. Outsiders may only think they are body adornments and will never know the truth behind the delicate markings.
With each rank the Ranger reaches, a little more is added to the tattoo. And as time passes the Ranger gains a deeper understanding of the Balance which governs the world around them.
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