The Bitter King
For a setting-sun tale
Open the vaults of mourning
For those who cannot weep
Yew-harp, take my hands
For I alone cannot play
Full true the Caonach song
One will binds the mists of the Caonach vale. All the birds, beasts, even the trees themselves heed its desires. The pounding of his wrathful heart is in the peals of thunder over the vales; the winds that howl through the trees rise and fall with his breath. In the darkest recess of the valley, where no mortal has tread in living memory, between the twilight world of Faery and the human world, there lies the court of Ri Searbhas, the Bitter King.
It was three mortal lives ago that his father died in combat against Isbrand, champion of the iron-clad intruders. Huldra blood slaked oak and ash, and lands the wood elves called home for centuries were lost. Untimely soon the crown prince of Caonach took the throne, and his reign has had a single purpose, a sole byword: Vengeance.
Every vale and cove of Huldra land has its own master—they are fiercely independent. But the mightiest of the Dusk Elves has always ruled from the Caonach Vale. It is tradition for this monarch to have many children by many parents. When the previous ruler dies, the Vale itself chooses from among their offspring, imbuing one of them with mystical power and authority. The new master of the Vale casts aside and forgets their old name, donning a new title unique to their reign.
Ri Searbhas means “The Bitter King.” He chose this for himself when the fertile lands outside the Caonach Vale were stolen from his people by iron and blood. As Isbrand I drove a sword through the old king’s heart, the mantle of the Vale fell on a new ruler. Because the land and the ruler are one, the young Huldra inherited all the grief, the pain and rage of his slaughtered people. This fire fuels his already terrible power over nature, and drives him forward in his purpose.