Nation of Legends
My name is Grimmroot (“Grimm”) Bitterleaf. I was cultivated from a distinguished lineage that has since fallen on hard times. While several generations ago my forebears were renowned artisans, famous for their woodworking abilities, my parents were humble compost farmers (affectionately known as “turd-herders”), tending the communal fertilizer heap and collecting animal waste to provide nutritional supplements to our people. While we did not have many material luxuries, my childhood was a happy one. We would have been lean from hunger, but being plantfolk, we don’t really need a lot of food. My skills as a warrior revealed themselves early on: while on a school scouting trip to learn more about some nearby mountain passes, I wandered off and got separated from the rest of my grove. I was lost for several hours, and the feeling of loneliness made a deep impression on me. To this day I dislike being alone. I was set upon by a pair of mountain goblins, wretched folk who have always hated the Elondra and thought they might enslave me. My classmates found me sitting calmly covered in my foes’ blood, their dead bodies nearby. I remember well the vivid exultation of battle, and also my first connection to a spiritual force that seemed to be guiding me in battle and enhancing my athletic abilities. Also this bond with the spirit world helped quell my misgivings about loneliness — in a sense I am never truly alone.
After that I was promptly transferred to our warriors’ academy in preparation of a military life. It was a big change, as well as a huge step up in social standing. I was trained in combat, and specialized in our traditional polearm fighting style. I grew especially close to our weapons master, a gnarled old root who turned out to be related to me, an uncle of sorts (plant genealogy gets complicated, trust me). Our shamans declared that I also possessed the abilities of a spirit-rider, and I learned to strengthen my bond with the otherworldly force. In time I learned to communicate with it. While I don’t fully understand it, it provides me with powers and abilities far beyond my own. I feel like I’m tapping into a raw, primal source of fury and wild emotion. It has a personality, too, and identifies itself as “The Prince of Thorns” — I believe it must be some avatar of the Worldspirit.
Uncle Mossbeard meant everything to me. He taught me how to fight, and the importance of protecting our homeland. I swore my graduation vows to protect Elondria under his gaze, and they were as much an oath to him as to our country. It was all the more crushing, then, when we were attacked in the middle of the night by a rival clan. Uncle Mossbeard, along with many of our other mentors, were cruelly slain that day. We quickly organized a counter-strike. I was given a position of leadership in the ensuing battle. We raided our enemies’ outpost at Hillsmere and conquered them on the field of battle. I was a force to behold, striking down our foes left and right. We took respite in one of our enemies’ holy shrines, occupied by nought but noncombatant priests. In violation of our terms of battle, I took my vengeance upon them and slaughtered every last one. While I was lauded for my acts on the battlefield, everyone knew of my deeds at the shrine as well. Thus while I am sometimes known as the “Hero of Hillsmere,” some also call me the “Butcher of Hillsmere.” I feel no regret for my actions. Mossbeard has been avenged. Sap pays for sap.
While I was praised for my leadership and valor, our military could not ignore my misdeeds. I was stripped of my leadership position, although privately everyone expressed their admiration for my acts. The Royal Court did not know what to do with me; while they could not officially sanction what I had done, my worth and merit in service to our people were beyond question. So they [sent me on a quest? into exile? to wander the world? You tell me what I’m doing with these strange weirdos!]