The Imbalance...




"P-pardon my intrusion, High D-d-druid Naen." an awkward boy's voice stammered slightly. The shadow emerged from inside the tangled shadows of the forest to the High Druid's left and approached him tentatively, constantly dipping his narrow head in a show of respect.

"Yes, what is it Morghan?" the old man sighed wearily. Yet another interruption during his meditations in the grove, he bemoaned. The Order was getting lax in its respect of the rituals.

"It... it is the Im-imbalance. The Ovates have f-finished their studies of the t-text and know they come n-now!" Morghan rapidly managed to stutter as he absently fiddled with the draw string on the collar of his blue hauberk.

In a seamless movement the elder rose, robes swirling about his legs as he strode rapidly towards the forest path.

"We must go. Now. Hurry," he forcefully commanded the young Bard. "Before it is too late."

The Druidic Council was already assembled in the castle's meeting hall upon High Druid Naen's arrival. Arriving at his place at the head of the table, he noted the nervous movements and worried glances of his colleagues as they fidgeted in their stone seats.

"We must be clear," he began, with no formalities. "The Bard Morghan informs me the Ovates' studies reveal imminent action on behalf of the Imbalance. Is this assured and verified?"

"It is both, High Druid Naen." An austere figure spoke up to his right. "We know now the undead army moves against us, this very moment. We may be too late to act now."

"Nonsense. It is never too late!" Naen thundered. He paused momentarily, dipping his head into his hand as he collected his thoughts. He could hear the ragged breathing of the other Druids at their places before him. How could they have waited too long to translate the texts? He sighed.

"Listen to me and listen well. I command these actions to be taken with all due haste." Naen settled his brown eyes on each Druid at the table in turn, making sure they caught each word. "The Bards are to gather in triples and guard every entrance to the castle. Hold each entry point as long as possible but they are to retreat to the sanctum stairs and are to follow the tunnels out into the forest to regroup at the Order grove.

The Ovates shall guard the inner sanctum, bottom entrance and top. Form pairs, and watch each other carefully. If odds become overwhelming, retreat as the Bards did. No heroics, do I make myself clear?" He paused only long enough to get a round of nods from the council.

"The Druids shall guard the library and defend the Druid Tomes. The Imbalance must not get ahold of the spells within or we have lost everything. It is up to us to make sure they do not find the entrance nor gain possession of the books."

He considered his last command carefully. "Which demon is the focal?" he glanced at the lead Ovate in attendance.

"High Druid, it is a Hyloth demon of the third tier. Scaalnazum by name. I'm afraid it is quite powerful indeed." Ovate Aehir nervously reported, concerning the leader of the undead army.

"Very well." The High Druid mused silently for a moment. His powers were not the strongest, but he had the most experience of the Order. His role in the coming battle was vital. But the question was, which role was his to take?

"I will confront the Hyloth, High Druid Naen." a steady, quiet voice exclaimed from the far edge of the massive granite table.

Naen started as his eyes settled on the voice. "Druid Corentyn, your offer is truly brave but not necessarily the best course of action. You are needed to defend the Tomes with the rest of the Order."

"I feel my abilites would be the best suited to defeat the demon, High Druid." The young Druid shifted in his chair, leaning in slightly to gain a better line of sight to the table head. His dark, forest green robe absorbed the ambient light and created a perpetual aura of shadow about him. "My skills are well known to be the strongest at this point in time. Allow me to serve the Order the best way I can, given my talents."

Naen sighed and considered his options. The young Druid was correct, but he was always saddened sending another to an inevitable doom. All present knew this was naught more than a diversionary tactic. "Caydyn," he began slowly, "you fully understand what your assignment would entail?" his eyes searched the Druid's face meaningfully.

Caydyn Corentyn nodded. "I am fully aware and can succeed." he replied with no hesitation, and perhaps a touch of arrogance.

"Very well. Everyone immediately proceed on the plan I outlined. Caydyn, you must seek the council of the Animal Oracle prior to your battle. Attend me." Naen stood as the rest of the Council quickly vacated to begin action on the High Druid's plan. The Druid Corentyn followed the elder wise man has he made his was through the meeting hall and through the castle interior. They arrived in the inner sanctum, and proceeded down a set of winding stairs into the depths of darkness.

As the light dimmed and their sight grew difficult, the High Druid lifted his hand and rolled it palm up. A clean, white light began to radiate from his palm, rays springing from his hand like a hundred thousand arrows into the heart of the darkness around them. They walked several hundred feet through the dank passageways prior to arriving at a great set of double doors. With no hesitation the elder Druid threw them open and turned to his disciple.

"Go. Perform the meditations. Find your true name and accept the desires, wills, and gifts of Nature as She chooses to bestow upon you in whatever form they come. Only then will you have a chance of success in your conflict." The High Druid looked into the eyes of his friend. "And...good luck."

Caydyn nodded, and clasped his hand against the older man's shoulder. "I won't fail the Order." He turned and strolled into the sacred meditation grove, the doors slipping shut behind him.

A vague haze drifted through the room, a cavernous location that really did not feel like indoors at all, but rather more like the Order's grove found outside in the heart of the forest. The floor was dirt, and vegetation was abundant everywhere you looked. Flowers and grass grew healthily and in the short distance a small grove of tall trees loomed high into the darkness above. Upon reaching the grove he passed through the sparse woods into a clearing where a menhir formation stood in a circular fashion, the stones old and worn, but clear of any moss or other disruptions.

The Druid Corentyn approached the center and with a practiced motion whisked his robe away as he smoothly settled into a kneeling position in the center of the meditation circle. Concentrating on his breathing, he slowed his heart rate and began to clear his mind of everything else in the world. The only thought in sharp focus was that of calling out to nature, of asking for guidance from the forces that control the very world about each living being. He sat this way, lost in himself and his lack of thoughts for several minutes.

He didn't even flinch when the first sounds of the battle began above him.

<continued part 2, next>



His world swam in a blur of bright white light, and the mist about him began to close in all around him. It thickened more and more until the world about him was nothing more than a haze of grey and the occasional tree branch above him or blade of tall grass below him. He stood, his dark robe outlining his figure, the deep green awash in the murky grey. A small noise alerted him to his right, and he turned quickly to face it. A lone wolf slowly strolled into view, emerging from the mist and fog as if born of it, and settled into a tentative stance a few feet before him. Unsure of what to do, he studied the wolf, but his eyes settled on one feature only- the wolf's eyes. They glared into his, piercing orbs of sapphire, however- they lacked irises. As unsettling as this was, he continued to study the blue spheres, almost hypnotically.

The two continued to stare at one another, unmoving, until a swirl of mist engulfed the wolf momentarily only to be revealed again as a hideous beast straight out of the legends of Hell. Standing no less than eight feet tall, the horribly mutated body bore scar upon scar and dripping scraps of skin all over itself. Blood oozed freely from seemingly all points on its torso, only to trickle back in through the skin at another point below. The eyes of this beast were no bright blue, but rather a conglomeration of fire, smoke and ash. Warped horns twisted about each other and pointed down into massive spear-like instruments at the neckline of the beast. Saliva dripped profusely from the jagged spikes it used as teeth in its vile maw.

The Druid's hand quickly turned upwards, as if to gently catch a falling leaf. "You shall return to the hell you belong in!" He proclaimed, as fire lanced up from his palm in a sudden foot tall incendiary explosion of flame. "Die, and return nature to its natural balance!" he screamed as he hurled the flame towards his foe.

The beast rocked back as the flame pummeled it, roaring in anguish and frustration, then shook itself as if to regather its focus, and charged forward at the tiny annoyance before it. As he approached his target, he tilted the points of his horn-spears towards the chest of his enemy and lunged forward. With a quick implosion of air, the Druid suddenly disappeared, reappearing ten feet to the side of the beast, as it skidded to a stop and roared again, even louder. Turning towards the robed figure, the beast more cautiously approached this time, ready for more trickery. "Hhhss-- iii knoww thessee trickkks, Drrruiid. Yoou willl nottt winnn..." it spat in the direction of the nature guardian.

Caydyn quickly thought through his options. He summoned the Druid fire again, throwing it in waves against the demon, which did not slow its gradual advance. He teleported again to hopefully disorient the beast, but it just turned instantly and continued its approach. At a loss, he began to unconsciously backpedal a step at a time. His mind raced on a solution to this mighty demon who would soon end his life- and most likely the lives of all the rest in the order, if he failed. As he took a further step, his boot caught the edge of a root emerging from the ground, obscured in the haze of the mist about him. He fell ungracefully onto his back, a gradual sense of hopelessness sinking in.

Suddenly, he caught sight of the wolf he saw earlier. It was behind the approaching demon, still staring straight into his soul with those eyes of blue energy. He lost himself in those eyes, seemingly no longer concerned with the lumbering beast that would soon impale him most gruesomely. A voice formed in his mind, on the edge of awareness, echoing his mentor. "...Accept the desires, wills, and gifts of Nature as She chooses to bestow upon you in whatever form they come..." Losing himself in the moment, he took nothing else in but those eyes. The world was replaced gradually by shades of blue, the rest of the scenery falling away until nothing but blue remained.

The Hyloth was only 10 feet from the helpless Druid, who had seemingly gone into shock. A smile of sorts crossed the maw of the demon as it fantasized of the impending kill. Such enjoyment could not be a replacement for the real thing. It continued along, slowly and steadily, almost within reach. The head tilted down, the horn-spears at the ready, it began its lunge forward.

<continued, part 3 next>



An overwhelming force of fire barraged the demon backwards, knocking it several steps in reverse before it regained a tentative balance. The pain echoed its path through his body, a reflection of the scream it bellowed. Regaining focus, it glared back at the Druid, who now stood fully alert and calm in front of it.

"Hhhss- whhatt iiss thhisss Drruid? Iitt iss hhopellesss." the Hyloth reasoned with the wise man.

"You are too late, I know my true name now demon. You cannot withstand my powers now, as bestowed upon me by nature Herself as Her guardian!" the Druid intoned loudly. "I will vanquish you, and you will know eternal suffering for the crimes you commit against the natural order of things!"

"Hss- hss- hss- hss." the demon gave a chilling form of laugh that made the skin crawl and ears ache. "TTrruue nammme? Hss- hss- hss. Nnnothhinng buttt mmythhh. Hss- hss- hss. Nnno hhummann llearrnns theirr trruue nammme. Youuu arrre hhummann, anndd cannnott knnnowww thhhisss thhhinnng." The demon seemed to relish in the thought of the Druid learning it knew this fact.

A sudden change in the light flashed through the area, rippling across everything as though waves on a sandy beach. Colours rippled through the air, dancing among themselves in swirls of energy as they encompassed the world in a prismatic hue. The demon started in confusion, quickly looking to the Druid to see what games he was playing. Confusion settled in on the Hyloth as he watched the Druid's robes begin to shimmer and glow, dim at first but ever brighter. Suddenly, the colour that had seeped through the air about them raced back in upon the Druid in an impossibly fast rush from every angle, slamming together in a soundless roar that lit up the world so bright the demon was blinded even after closing its eyes.

The light subsided, and the demon looked upon his foe once more. The Druid's deep green robes now swam with movement- or at least, the colours within were moving. Within the deep green, swirls of deep blue, black, brown and white mixed in patterns some too beautiful to behold and some too painful to view. The robe was almost glowing, emmiting a half foot aura of deep blue around the druid.

The Druid spoke icily, "I am Blue nan Druidh. Blue of the Druids. I am your vanquisher, unnatural spawn!"

The Hyloth Scaalnazum could not believe the human had found its true name! How was it possible? It roared in confusion and launched itself towards the Druid. "Sssoo bbeee itt, Drruuidblluue!" it screamed in rage. It flew towards the puny human, so angry it could no longer care to reason its way into a cautious attack. Within two feet of the human, it slammed into an invisible wall of wind.

The wind lifted the demon up and back, swirling in a circle as the tornado threw the beast into the closest menhir, shattering it. The demon began to push itself up as fire suddenly slammed it back down to the earth. A ring of scathing fire soared from ground, blistering his skin and causing skin to slide off in small bits and pieces. The demon had one last chance to glance back to the Druid, now standing just beyond the fire and looking down upon him.

"To your hell, beast." Druidblue commanded the demon. He rose his hand gently and fire consumed the grovelling demon, which began to scream so loud the Druid closed his eyes and reeled backwards a step, falling to his knees on the ground. He shook his head from the pain, and opened his eyes.

He sat in the center of the grove, the mist seeping through the air about him. He glanced quickly to his side, to the spot the beast had fallen. Through the haze of the mist he made out the form of a wolf slowly dematerializing into the fog. The last sight from the lupine was two blue eyes.

The doors burst open to the mediation chamber and a lanky figure ran in. "Druid Corentyn, the Hyloth is here! We need you now!" the Bard Morghan gasped, out of breath from his message run downstairs.

The Druid became aware of the sounds of the battle above him, echoing down from the upper levels of the castle. He had successfully completed his mental preparations. He was now ready to have a chance against the Hyloth. He stood and began to walk out of the room. "Morghan?" he quietly said the Bard's name.

"Y-yes?" Morghan quickly replied, following the Druid in his wake.

"It's Druidblue, now."

The doors closed behind them.

<concluded, next>



The remains of the demons lie on the ground before them, along with several members of the Order who had disobeyed the High Druid's order and gone too far in defending the castle. Naen shook his head sadly, though not in surprise. He knew very well the members of the Order would not retreat so easily. He mourned their loss briefly, then decided to wait for a more appropriate time. He glanced at the Druid beside him, who was kneeling and inspecting the marking on the Demon's left forearm. He stood quickly and smoothly, sure of his movements as never before. Naen recognized the new confidence in his disciple and nodded.

"What tier-realm mark does he bear? We must pursue this conflict to its natural end and see the destruction of the Imbalance in its entirety as Nature has commanded." Naen spoke, quietly. Today had been a large battle, and unexpected one, but their victory gave them the opportunity to catch the undead army off guard. They must turn their defence into offense and finish this once and for all.

"Morghan ran the information gathered to the Ovates for research in the Tomes, Druidraven. He should be here momentarily with that information." Druidblue commented softly. "I am just trying to make sure we miss nothing more." He knelt and resumed his studies of the demon's corpse beneath them.

Naen nodded to no one in particular, as his thoughts closed in on himself. He had not missed Druid Corentyn's reference to him by his true name, Druidraven. Only one who had passed the test earned the right within the Order to refer to others by their true names. The meditation had been successful. Each Druid must pass the test of the true name at least once in their lifetime. It is never an easy task, and many fail numerous times, unable to see the truth in front of them. Success, however, results in their true name being presented to them, a source of magical power derived from a spirit animal. From this point on, they serve as Nature's guardians in all things, strengthening their natural magic and power with incredible force in order to succeed at such a broad task.

He glanced towards the door as he heard the young bard running their direction with the news they sought. He glanced back at the young Druid before him, and reflected on what had occurred. Every Druid in the past 2700 years had a true name given by spirit animal, based on that spirit animal. His own, the Raven, came to him and told him his true name of Druidraven. But Caydyn Corentyn had not received such a true name. Though delivered by wolf, he had received the name of Druidblue, a colour. The thought both intrigued him and sent a shiver down his spine. There had been 2 other recorded Druids given true names of colour.

Those two had been the most powerful Druids in the Order's 5300 year history.

Morghan the Bardic grade Druid ran into the chamber and up to the two waiting Druids. "T-the Ovates found the m-mark in the texts, High Druid. They say it is from the Circle of Thorns." he revealed, quickly and unevenly.

Druidraven looked at Druidblue. "Circle of Thorns? We are aware of this group and their location. We must resolve this. We must seek out the Imbalance remnants. It appears the Circle of Thorns is a starting point. Do you agree?"

"Indeed." Druidblue remarked. "It appears I am off to Paragon City."

(end of story)

Since I was asked, yes, of course, please feel free to post commentary on this thread concerning this story.
I hope you enjoyed this character Origin!

(The short story above is an original creation of Druidblue. All names and characters above are fictional. Any resemblance or use of existing names is purely accidental. The names Druidblue and Caydyn Corentyn are protected by sales trademark and are not permissible to use in other media without my written consent! Thanks!)