The Ffolk Return
Origin of the Olwythi
The events which led to the formation of the Olwythi were associated with the Keoish invasion in CY250. This invasion started as a gradual occupation and was expected to be met with little resistance. The initial idea was not as much to conquer Geoff as it was to simply annex it. The Keoish had observed Flan to be primitive and easy to subjugate or push out. In Gyruff this did not prove to be the case, as skilled woodsmanship and a tradition of stubborn self-reliance led to resistance in the form of an ongoing guerilla action.
The slow commitment of Keoish troops gave the Gyric culture the time it needed to invent defenses appropriate to fight the invasion. The Druids, recognizing that the last stronghold of Flan culture was being threatened, saw the need for a unified defense of the Gyric people. They put their reservations with centralization aside and engineered the creation of The Brenin.
The Druids spoke to the clan chiefs, using their role as advisors to encourage cooperation and foster the idea of a single war chief. The clan chiefs provided cavalry and heavy infantry. When a war chief was selected the Druids spread the word and created religious symbols for the steadings to rally around. Men filled rank as longbowmen and boys, common infantry. The hunters, trappers, herders, and woodsmen who had been conducting raids against the Keoish incursion gravitated toward this force and were recruited as leaders of skirmish strike teams. This position that they earned as a result of their proven experience caused them to be known as The Rangers of Gyrff. In Flan, the Olwythi gan Gyruff. Olwyth is not a formal title that was created by the Druids or Brenin. Olwyth is a Flan word that came to carry such respect that it became a proper noun.
The Formalization of The Olwythi
For the duration of the war, the olwythi were not a formal entity. They were a collection of individuals who shared common characteristics. You know, “That’s Strider, he’s one of them olwythi”. As the war continued, there were many a youth that joined the Brenin’s army or roamed the countryside with their head full of stories about the rangers of Gyruff. The rangers were the ones who saved hearth and home by outsmarting Keoish troops, slowing them down or turning them away. These were the strangers who came out of the woods, warning families of incoming Suel and sneaking them away to safety.
The rangers became well known as a Gyruff resource. It was not uncommon for the war chief to seek out the knowledge and skills of local ranger for operations in a given area. Many joined the Brenin’s army, serving as leads for specialized reconnaissance and strike teams. The majority who joined the army were Flan or Half-Human. There were rangers in Gyruff from other races, however the majority of them did not actively join the army or initiate hostilities. The Keoish war was between Oreidian-Suel and Flan. The Elvish, Dwarf, and Gnomish states were strong Gyric sympathizers, but they were officially neutral. Non-human rangers who joined the Flan struggle were thought of as Gyri, and the term ‘olwyth’ applied to them. Non-human rangers who did not join the struggle were seen as being part of the non-human states about Geoff. They were friends, but not kinsmen. Since the word ‘olwyth’ was coming to mean more than just ‘ranger’, they were not olwythi.
The war with Keoland lasted 50 years. During this time new generations replaced the original rangers. The new generations grew up with stories and legends of olwythi. They believed in an Olwyth ideal and began to identify with the ideal and with each other.
In CY 583 the Giants invaded Geoff. A majority of the Olwythi in central and southwest Geoff died distracting giant forces so Gyri could escape capture. Most of the Olwythi in the Dim died helping the elves against a shadow dragon that seized the forest as its own. The surviving Warders escaped to Keoland and the Gran March, escorting refugees out of Giant occupied area. The Brenin, being mortally wounded, was unavailable. They convened with Darlon Lea, half-elf, First Ward, and Arglwyth of Ffwythlon Dol, to see what could be done for Geoff. As a noble, Darlon traveled between the refugee camps to establish communications between surviving Gyri and re-establish the Geoff military. As First Ward, Darlon worked with the Olwythi raid Giant slave pens and obtain intelligence on occupied Geoff.
Sterich and Hochoch
The Sheldomar Knights of the Watch spearheaded a counter-attack against the Giants invading the valley. With Keoish and Gran March support they took and held Sterich. Without their support they took the Stark Mounds. During this time the surviving Olwythi successfully freed many captives and established communications with the elves of the Dim.
The following year the Gran March formed the Army of Retribution. Geoff citizens were conscripted or forced to return to the refugee camps. The army and the Knights of Dispatch launched an attack on Hochoch. The Olwythi provided reconnaissance and led the remnants of the Geoff army to stop a Giant relief force. They did not stop the relief column, but damaged it sufficiently that Hochoch fell. This was a hard-pressed fight and more Warders died.
The Olwythi moved their base of operations to Hochoch. Darlon Lea assigned the half orc Lilly Gellsblood to carry out his Olwyth duties while he pursued rebuilding the army. The few surviving Olwythi reacted poorly to this, expressing intent to cast her down if she was presented to them for approval as the new First Ward. The difficulties Lilly experienced convinced her to decline the role of First Ward. Darlon Lea presented Cuthalion Longbow as his replacement. The Olwythi accepted.
The Army of Liberation
The Gran March made Hochoch a protectorate, preventing the restoration of self-rule. They began logging to build fortifications, which prevented relations being restored with the Oyt elves. The Dim elves were not sufficiently organized to resist Marcher incursions.
A general levy was announced in Hochoch, conscripting Gyri into the Army of Retribution. This led to diplomatic problems which resulted in the levy being restructured. In place of a levy, there would be a tax. Those who did not pay the tax would be conscripted into a Gyric military unit. Those who could were exempt, their funds would be used to pay the Gyri conscripts. This military unit enjoyed little popularity until it was fully nationalized. The unit was combined with the few surviving members of the army of Geoff and later became Geoff’s Army of Liberation. Command was given to Darlon Lea. In his capacity as commander, Darlon reported to the Gran March Marshal. In this time, the Brenin healed and moved his court from the Gran March to Keoland.
There was much speculation that the Gran March wished to annex Hochoch and had no intention of invading giant occupied lands and freeing Geoff. Darlon Lea was convicted of working with Oyt elves to sabotage Gran March logging operations and border forts. It was claimed that he desired to preventing the March from establishing a fortified position, thus forcing them onto the offensive. Darlon Lea fled to the Dimwood.
The Brenin left Keoland and returned to Hochoch. His installation in power increased the confidence in the Army of Liberation and recruitment efforts improved. He re-assigned officers to run the army, including the Cadofyth Parn. Cuthalion Strongbow volunteered the Olwythi to formally act as a reconnaissance briach within the army. He established officers for the Olwythi so the briach would be compatible with the army’s command structure. Cuthalion was assigned the rank of Briachdyn and reported to Cadofyth Parn.
Army members who proved themselves to be exceptionally qualified were allowed to transfer into the Olwythi unit. Transfers had to be approved by the Briachdyn (who happened to be the First Ward) or whomever he delegated. Individuals who were not interested in becoming part of the Olwythi brotherhood were not approved. Recruits gained in this method took the oath upon transfer and were immediately assigned independent missions. The tradition of mentoring an Olwythi candidate to an experienced Warder before approving them for membership was not followed.