Huntsman Lore

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"Horned Hunter, hear my call,
Quickly let my quarry fall.
Straight make all my arrows fly,
Quick my foot and keen my eye.
Let me on the preypath go
Silent like a dark shadow.
By my stealth and by my aim
Shall my folk feast on tender game.
Horned Hunter, now I pray,
Aid me in my hunt today."

- An ancient Invocation of the Othikyur Clan, Centaurs of the Verdant Sea

Long Ago, as the Firstborn of the Elves raised their towers of crystal and alabaster in the deeps of the forests, the first Centaurs thundered across the open steppes like the wind, singing the praises of Kenaryn the Hunter, companion to the All-Father. Kenaryn taught them the ways of the Bow and the Hunt, and ever since the Horse-Men have roamed the vast plains, living like kings off of the bounty of the Hunt.

The Centaurs know many legends of Kenaryn, Father of Centaurs, Lord of the Hunt. Crowned with the antlers of a mighty stag, Kenaryn the Horned Hunter still races through the wild places of the World, faster than a hawk in flight. In his travels the Hunter has donned many shapes: the Horned Huntsman, a great Stallion, and the Silver Stag of legend. The Beasts of the Wild fear his deadly bow, or flee from the call of his mighty horn. The Centaurs remember how Kenaryn crossed the Endless Void at the All-Father's side, and battled the Hosts of Chaos who guarded the World. The All-Father fashioned hounds, first of all the beasts of the World, and gave them to the Hunter in reward for his stalwart service. They have served the Hunter and his children ever since. There are many songs and legends of the mighty Pack that always runs at the Hunter's side, dogs the size of ponies, with witchlight burning in their eyes.

The oldest and most well-regarded of all the Hunter's tales is the legend of his journey to Saederoth, the Silver Moon. Just after the First Flowering and the Birth of All Beasts, Kenaryn chased a great Silver Fish through the rivers of the newborn World. The Fish, craftiest of its kind, sought to escape the Hunter by leaping high into the air and swimming into the night sky. Kenaryn gave chase, firing arrows of fire after his quarry. Thus, the Centaurs say, were the stars created, either from the glistening water the Silver Fish left in its wake, or from Kenaryn's arrows that pierced the very dome of Night.

Kenaryn chased the Fish unto the face of the Silver Moon, and there the Fish escaped, for Kenaryn was drawn from his hunt by the wonders he saw. There on the Moon, in a vast palace of ice, Kenaryn found a beautiful woman asleep atop a bier of silver, trapped within a pillar of frost. The sleeper was none other than Saedron, Shining Goddess of the Moon, who Elves named the Fate Weaver. Kenaryn blew his great horn, and the ice shattered at the mighty sounding. Saedron woke from her enchanted sleep, and thanked the Hunter for her deliverance. And so the Hunter wed the Shining Goddess, and the Centaurs were their children. But even as the Hunter and his Silver Queen wandered the World in joy, a shadow grew in the empty wastes. Alas, the Fate Weaver had been taken too quickly from her sleep. Saedron's dreams had been dark and terrible, and as she woke, her nightmare was given form and life, becoming that formless Terror, Grallokur the Devourer. The Dream Beast swept across the Plains of Twilight like a curse, butchering the Centaurs and leaving terror in its wake. Kenaryn took up his bow and horn and summoned his mighty hounds, and left his children to hunt the Devourer. Saedron, stricken with grief, returned to the Moon, and still waits there for her husband's return. From that day to this the Long Hunt has continued, and so it was to continue until the ending of the World, when Kenaryn and Grallokur will finally meet and fight to the death.

In Kenaryn's absence the Centaurs have been left to provide for themselves, and their great Huntsmen have proved equal to the task. They taught Kenaryn's lessons to both the ancient Elves and the Sons of Men, and now among all the peoples of the World there are those who have answered the call of Kenaryn's horn and taken up the Hunt. Some Huntsmen hunt in groups like packs of wolves, while others run alone. Some favor the bow of their patron, while others use spears or craft cunning snares for their prey. Whether they provide food for their community or hunt simply for the thrill of the chase, all Huntsmen are masters of the wild, and feel more at home in a trackless wasteland than in any village or city.

To succeed in a hunt, a Huntsman must be able to first find his prey and then bring it down. The ways and natures of most animals are well known to them, and all Huntsmen are master trackers. Their keen eyes can read much in the lay of a footprint, a broken branch, or even a scattering of pebbles. Few things can escape a master Huntsman once he's found a trail, and legend has it that the Masters of the Hunt can even track their prey by scent. Hunters are also masters of stealth, quieter than an owl in flight. It's no easy thing to draw within bowshot of a jittery deer, but a Master Hunter can creep close enough to kill one with his knife. Huntsmen also learn to read the nature of a beast at sight, so they might cull the old, the weak, and the sick from the herds they follow.

All Huntsmen know Kenaryn's lore and revere him as their patron. Those who make worthy offerings to the Horned Hunter and prove their skill will gain Kenaryn's favor, but only if they can prevail against the greatest of beasts. Great hounds, sent by Kenaryn himself, will come at a favored Huntsman's call, and ancient tales tell of other worthy gifts that mighty hunters have received. The mightiest Huntsmen of all are sought out by Kenaryn, and turn away from their people to join the Long Hunt. These blessed masters join Kenaryn's pack, running with his Hounds on the trail of Grallokur until the ending of the World.

And now with the coming of the Turning, that time may be at hand. It has been long indeed since the Hunter has appeared to his children or his followers, and dread gnaws the hearts of the greatest Huntsmen. Can it be that the End of Time has come? Has Kenaryn caught Grallokur, or has the Hunter fallen in battle with the Beast? Some wonder how the Long Hunt can continue since the sundering of the World, and fear the Hunter's quarry has escaped to some distant world shard, there to revel in its dark nature. None know for certain, but the Huntsmen now chase the Hunter himself, looking for any sign of his fate.

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