Caesin: History and Rumors
No one truly knows where the first hint of the lycanthropic disease on Caesin came from but ancient cave paintings discovered by the satyrs on the island suggest that the island was once inhabited by a primitive race of men. It's quite likely that these first humans on the island were the carriers of the dreadful disease or came into contact with it somehow.
For more than a few centuries, the western end of the island contained a race of lycanthropes: werewolves of the basest breed that rarely if ever left the natural form of a wolf. With time they were basically inbreeding themselves into extinction or being hunted by the numerous feys, treants, minotaurs, satyrs and other such races that shared the island with them. What saved these lycanthropes from extinction and gave rise to an even more sinister menace was the increased trade between Alindor and Mistone.
When trade increased between the port of Mariner's Hold on Alindor and those cities and towns situated on the southern half of Mistone, a fierce storm, one of many that often arose in the Sea of Scales, drove a ship towards the island of Caesin. Through the strength of the storm and the height of the waves the ship was thrust upon one of the few beaches that appeared from time to time on the island's coast. It was the first but was not to be the last vessel driven upon the shores by wild weather or landed deliberately by eager merchants drunk with the excitement of cutting down the island's massive trees.
In this instance it was one of the western beaches and the werewolves, wary at first, approached the beach hesitantly. It was not long until their instincts and the smell of blood drove them forward and they descended upon the corpses that washed up amidst the wreckage on the beach. They did not know, as they came to feast upon the bodies, that a score of those who had been aboard had actually survived.
As fate would have it, several of the survivors were members of a mercenary company that were traveling to Alindor to take up services with one of the nobles in the Sagewald Kingdom. These highly trained men and women soon found themselves trapped on the beach quickly being surrounded by the vicious werewolves.
Used to combat situations, they grabbed what they had at hand in order to defend themselves. Some still had their weapons after the storm and they tried to hold the creatures at bay while their companions tried to find a way off the beach.
What followed was a terrifying and bloody ordeal; the werewolves, in their bloodied frenzy, followed and attacked them as they tried to escape the beach. Again and again the frenzied werewolves were driven back but each time they took with them several more of the group or at least some wounded so that their progress was hampered.
Before long the remaining survivors, exhausted and bloodied with not one of them having avoided being injured in some way by the wolves, finally managed to climb into a cave several statute miles north of the beach. During the night many of the werewolves who had pursued them to the cave remained in vigil outside the cave while others returned to the beach to feed once more.
In reality, there were no survivors of that day. Those within the cave suffered for days as a disease came over them and changed them physically. Lycanthropy took hold. In the months that followed, this new breed of werewolves'smarter, tougher and with the skills of their former lives'emerged from the cave and began taking on the other werewolves. Thus began years of bitter fighting between two breeds of lycanthropes: the True Bloods and the Pack, as they now called themselves.
As mentioned, at times other ships were beached in similar storms or expeditions launched to secure timber from the island but the newer breed of werewolves always made sure they were the ones who reached these rare landings first. Instead of killing any survivors they changed them as they had been changed so that their numbers could grow. They learned from their new victims, they survived, and they grew even more powerful.
The fey that had lived on the island suffered as well with the introduction of the Pack. Their primitive weapons were no match for the size and ferocity of the new breed and slowly their numbers dwindled and most were forced to flee to the eastern reaches of the island, far from the constant battles occurring between the different creatures.
It took several centuries but eventually the True Bloods were hunted into extinction. The last few of their kind approached the remaining satyrs and centaurs and were allowed to pass through their lands and sail across the narrow straight from Oak's Landing to the island of Aryte where it is believed they found a place to dwell.
The Pack then began to break down into more official clans under various alpha male pack leaders. In their drive then to become the dominant clan, battles raged whenever any ships landed on the island, either deliberately or because they were unfortunate enough to be driven ashore in storms. It wasn't long before ships began to give the island of Caesin a wide berth, for no ship that was ever thrust into its treacherous reaches left any survivors and the folk stories that abounded about the sounds that echoed from the island across the sea on a warm night were enough to set the most hardened sailor's soul quivering. If that weren't enough, the sailors were also wary of the numerous sightings of huge trees moving of their own accord along the cliff edges.
In the 14th century, one clan grew to power over all the others. They were led by a werewolf alpha male called Brarg and his mate Firarlg, a werewolf female who had been a priestess of Mist before her ship was dashed against Caesin's rocky shore. In truth, it was the added advantage of her powers and Brarg's sheer size, strength and intelligence that led their clan to dominance over most of the others. Neither, however, was satisfied with simply commanding the clans; both hungered for more. These years were hard for many of the remaining fey creatures on the island as they found themselves hunted as food for the ravenous wolves. Only the minotaurs had any real success at holding the wolves at bay. Prior to this, the wolf packs had tended to fight each other and the fey had survived and rebuilt many of their communities.
Then, in the year 1396, the day came for which Brarg and Firalg had been planning for years. A ship arrived from Fort Vehl, intending to try once again to harvest lumber from the massive forest. Brarg and his strongest males swam out to the ship and boarded it, easily capturing and locking the crew and laborers in the ship's hold while securing lines from the ship so it would suffer no further damage.
The crew met the same fate that befell any who found themselves on the island and were captured by the packs. Several days later, they were commanded by Brarg to sail the ship to the nearest land'the coast near Fort Vehl'so they could collect more victims with which to bolster their pack and bring them back to the island. It was a week later that the ship was run ashore at the cliffs below the Battlehelm Moors. Brarg was furious with them and forced them to scale the cliffs to the marshes above. It was here amongst the creatures that dwelt there that Brarg tried to spread his deadly infection. Rather than contracting the disease, the creatures went mad; soon, authorities from Fort Vehl and as far as Port Hempstead realized that something was amiss and had to be investigated.
Aid was called for and a group of adventurers set out to pacify the maddened creatures from the swamps. Through their subsequent investigation they discovered the truth behind the problem and after a serious of violent encounters with Brarg and the members of his pack he had brought with him, he was eventually brought to heel.
With Brarg's death they were able to create a cure for the disease plaguing the creatures of the swamps and marshes while back on Caesin, Firarlg assumed leadership of Brarg's greatly weakened clan and the hunt continued again as each clan challenged others for supremacy over The Pack. This has also given the fey and other creatures on the island renewed hope that they can one day drive the wolves into extinction.
With the news in Fort Vehl of the defeat of the terrible werewolf menace, a consortium of merchants, eager to get their hands on the vast timber resources of the Caesin forest, immediately dispatched several ships to the island in order to commence harvesting.
A small but serviceable dock was built with an arrangement of huts and shelters for the workers. Unfortunately for the merchants, their venture once again failed; the denizens of the forests drove away any who brought axe or fire anywhere near the ancient trees.
There have been tales of trees falling on workers when untouched by axe, great creatures with huge claws tearing laborers apart, and vines coming alive and dragging men under the loamy earth never to be seen again. Add to that the occasional attacks by lycanthropes, mischievous pixies, angry centaurs and the occasional satyr, and those laborers who were promised large bonuses to work there soon decided it was not worth the effort. Thus the small township of Fort Wailing lost its appeal overnight to those in Fort Vehl.
A few people did remain on Caesin in order to maintain the small settlement after several groups inquired about making studies of the surrounding forest. Those who remain now make a living out of the research groups that travel there, the occasional adventuring party seeking imagined treasures deep in the forest, and from several large garden plots near the settlement that grow anything planted in them in abundance, especially herbs, fungi and exotic spices.