Unremembered Loss


I would like to tell you a story of a remarkable young woman, a ruthless warchief, a town in peril – a story of hope and despair and war, and of several journeys of discovery.

The story is set in and around the beautiful town of Maple Grove, which is nestled between the towering Cragmoor Mountains on the east and the Darkwoods to the west. Maple Grove has lived in peace for hundreds of years and prospered because of its location on the major trade route between the city of White Water to the south and the cities of Eagle’s Rest and Torad’s Anvil to the north.

This picturesque town is built on a knoll that overlooks the Mallen River, which snakes down the valley of the same name. Stone walls, built by long forgotten dwarven masons, surround the town and it’s two towers. One tower is the home of Duke Rangefield, the magistrate of Maple Grove. The other tower is the home of the wizard Samuel Gees. Majestic Maple trees line its main street and many small green spaces keeps the town from feeling crowed despite its 2900 residents.

Being a stop on such a well-traveled trade route near the edge of the wilds, Maple Grove has had to protect its self from the occasional raid and must patrol the roads to the north and south. With a town guard of 40 men and women, and ten times that number available as the town’s militia, the citizens of Maple Grove have felt safe.

Being so close to the wilds, Maple Grove also attracts a large number fortune hunters and adventures. The Ranger’s Arrow, The Badger’s Den, and Zelda’s Tavern are filled with stories of adventure and riches, honor and courage, and monsters and heros. Most of the children of the town have been brought up on these stories and long to see the wonders of the world themselves.

Often these stories revolve around the local bands of turpes and their larger brethren, the foeturs. Around the town of Maple Grove there are at least a dozen bands of turpes: the Red Fangs in the hills to the south, the Black Hills to the north and east of them, the Wolf Riders to the north of them, and so on. Luckily for the town of Maple Grove, and civilized society in general, turpes don’t get along very well. Each band of twenty or thirty adult turpes fight more with the other bands of turpes over territory than they do with the well armed townsfolk.

Most mothers have told their children of the turpes of the Wolf Riders band when they want to scare their children into staying close to home. These stories are about turpes that ride giant wolves and carry off little children to eat for supper.

The wolves in these stories are eight feet tall at the shoulders and have matted grey fur on their backs. Their legs are powerful enough to leap over a twenty-foot ravine with an turpis riders gripping their backs. Their eyes catch the moonlight and glow a brilliant red as they search for prey. Their jaws are massive and powerful, able to snap a fawn, or a child, in two.

The turpes stand six feet tall and have brown and green skin. They weigh half again more than a man, but the extra weight is not fat. They are lean and muscular from years of running down their prey. Their skin is leathery and cracked. Their faces are flat and round, with a large snout, that some say resembles a boar’s mouth. Their mouths are full of razor sharp teeth, with two large tusks that protrude three or more inches.

Turpes are not modest, which mothers are quick to point out when their children are being immodest. They wear skins in the winter for warmth and armor for protection when they fight. Otherwise, their short black hair seems to suffice their daily needs.

The nature of the wolves is that of skilled and crafty hunters, while the nature of the turpes, on the other hand, is cruel and calculating. The turpes are quick to anger and even quicker to fight. They think nothing of killing a fallen and helpless foe.

One evening, on the full moon, the stories that the mothers had been telling their children stopped being stories. Bands of turpes raided three farms outside the walls of the town. That night three families were slaughtered and their cattle and sheep driven away.

The whole town of Maple Grove was shaken by the news. The Duke sent the town guard to investigate and reassured the nervous townsfolk that the turpes responsible would be hunted down and killed. Despite the Duke’s assurances that peace would be maintained, the previous night’s attack was just the first of many.

At first the foul beasts’ attacks were apparently random, a cow here and a farmhouse there. By the end of that first week, that seeming randomness was gone and the farms were falling one after another up the valley. There were reports of seeing members of the Black Hills and Garloth bands in the same raiding party.

By the next full moon there were no more farms or cottages surrounding the town. The turpes has successfully fturpised all of the town’s people behind the town’s walls. Patrols ventured out during the daylight hours, but always made sure to return to safety before evening.

Six weeks after the first attacks, on the night of the new moon, the ranks of the turpes were bolstered by a huge number of foeturs. Bigger and dumber than their turpis masters, the foeturs started to directly attack the town’s walls by throwing huge stones, while making sure to stay out of range of the archers atop the town’s walls.

The walls of the town were holding, but every night the turpes and foeturs were getting bolder. The turpes knew that a direct attack on the town’s walls would be costly, but it seems to the town’s folks like that cost might be acceptable to them soon.

The town had been dispatching scouting parties into the Darkwoods to discover the turpis’s plans and weaknesses. On the second full moon after the attacks began, one of those parties was returning from a raid on the camp of the turpis warchief. Being hotly pursued by dozens of foeturs, the party was trying to make it back to Maple Grove with the papers and other items they had taken.

This is where our story begins, but, before it starts I need to tell you a little about the people involved and why I feel the need to tell the story. The story centers around Annay, the remarkable young woman I mentioned. At the time of this story she was twenty-two years old and full of fire. She knew who she was and what she was doing with her life.

Annay’s life has always intrigued me, in fact I suppose that “intrigued” might not convey the impact her life has had on my own. Three years ago when I retired from my own adventures, I started doing research on Annay’s life. While there are many exciting and insightful time periods in her life, there are two months, at least for me, that are the most compelling.

In doing the research for this story I have talked to several very interesting people who where there during the attack on Maple Grove. I have also been blessed to have found Annay’s journals and those of the wizard Samuel Gees. The stories of the bard Jarred and the town records also shed much light on the events of those dark days.

As I try to tell the story of Annay and of Maple Grove, I will share excerpts from the oral and written records I have pulled together. There are times when I’m sure I will be tempted to guess what was going through Annay’s mind, but I will try to refrain and instead share with you her thoughts in her own words and let you decide for yourself.

For the sake of “story telling,” I will use information that Annay wrote down years later when she reflected on her journey. As I was taught in my profession, I will do my best to be honest to the story, to its message, to its passion and to its participants, which in the end I believe is my way of honoring Annay and all the townsfolk of Maple Grove.

My hope in telling this story is that you will come to know my heart, the hearts of Annay, Samuel Gees and the others the story is about, that you will come to know your own heart more clearly, and finally that you may glimpse the heart of God.

Give your heart to this journey, as I have given my in writing it, and I’m sure you will be blessed.