Being a Part of The History of the Wyvernesse writ by Solon the Wise included with respects by Cirades Rymon
Each of the guardian companies belongeth unto itself. Thus stands the first and most important truth regarding those we call the Rangers, the Men of the Mace, the Axes of Uzdun, or the Forest Keepers. Not one of these bands hath origins in any of the others. They do stand separate and unique, but this truth mortal man doth often miss.
Man hath not the creativity of the Elves and Dwarves, neither owneth he the nearness to life which the Half-Elvish folk may claim. Yea, much of the inner life of the other races is bereft to us. Lacking what they do hold, we assume that they are like us. Therefore, many a human 'historiographer', such as doth claim wisdom and lore where none may be found, giveth to the several bands a common lineage and a common mockery also.
Mark this, that he that sayeth that all such bands are branches of a single tree doth insult even men, much more so the more fair and more stout kindreds. I say truly that our kind partaketh not fully of the inmost life, but even so, we do yet hold some powers of creation. From these seperate powers of eye and mind did the Men of the Mace get their task.
How much more so then did the Dwarvish Zhotul'Uzdun, which are called Axes of Uzdun, and the Forest Keepers, which company welcomes both Half-Elvish noble and Human peasant, and the High Rangers, by which name are the Elvish companies known, come forth of several needs and visions? Shall we impugn one and all, ourselves foremost, when we are named through all the world as fools and children?
Of the Elvish companies, little can be said by mortal men. Their true name they do jealously guard, and much more so their ways. Legends do speak of them, but nought doth Man see of them in these days.
Likewise, little but the name is known regarding Zhotul'Uzdun. Like unto the Elvish folk, the Dwarvish peoples are taciturn, and jealous guardians of their secrets. Zhotul'Uzdun guardeth the mountain halls of the stout folk, therefore every Dwarvish guardsman wield an axe cunningly fashioned, with mighty runes inscribed. Rare is the soul that moveth against the axes and cometh back to tell the tale.
Much more may we say regarding the mixed company, which is the Forestkeepers. The Forestkeepers, which the common man calleth Rangers, are oft found in the wild and wooded places of the world. In brotherhood do certain Men and Half-Elves walk together. They speak a language which none others know. Much have I heard of this forest tongue, but cannot tell what was said, for to secrecy am I bound. Their tongue is neither the tongue of Half-Elf, nor of Man, but of the forest which all Keepers love. Many times have I heard it, and thought I heard a wild beast's call.
Among the Forestkeepers, all strife, such as one doth find 'twixt races in the great cities, is forgot. Half-Elf and Man, each accepteth the other as a brother, for each hath chosen one common life of toil and beauty. Though their gifts and powers are several, so that the Human guardeth by cunning and prowess that which the Half-Elf guardeth by power drawn from nature, each standeth with the rest as with a brother in toil, in battle, in victory, and in wonder of the woods.
The Forestkeepers wear many guises, but two things mark them all. Each, whether a prince of Half-Elves or a common Man, is moved to awe and song by the woods of the world. By this one may know them. Like unto their awe of the world, great also is their skill with bow, with blade, and with mount. There is no Ranger who is not an archer of skill, a bladesman of measure, and a loving husbandman of his horse, for he that wandereth the wide world and faceth many kinds of danger must ride well, fight well, and aim truly.
For all these graces, the Keepers are oft mistaken for mountebanks. They are men and women of the wild world, sleeping more often beneath a tree than a roof. Little heed do they give to seemings or their own apperances. They are oft distrusted by the folk of Human towns and cities, for the Ranger out of the wild seemeth as lean and strange as the common thief. Of their status among the woodland peoples I shall not speak, for do so would my confidence break.
Last of all, and sometimes least of all, standeth that company which is the Men of the Mace. Few secrets can they keep, for their young and foolish ones will often boast of things better honored by silence. The Maceman guardeth the towns and cities of Men, just as the Keeper doth guard the settlements in the wild places. Though a few of the wisest of the Men of the Mace once traveled with Rangers, this company too came forth in its own way and time.
When Men did the first of their cities establish, the makers of the place gave orders that some should stand apart to keep the law and give it force. The first such company of guards bore weapons of all kinds. After a time, the lord of that place saw that spear, sword, and axe were as fell in the hands of the law as in the hands of the outlaw. He decreed, therefore, that first the guard should not kill without great need and second that it should wield not weapon such as could cleave or pierce a man. They that had borne always the mace, club, staff, or hammer saw that they had followed the decree before it was made. They grew boastful in their choice of arms and named themselves "the Men of the Mace" and also "the Men of the Law". Many that had borne axe or sword before joined them then, but a few, angry and dark of heart, turned away from any law save greed. They called themselves the Men of the Knife.
The Men of the Knife and the Men of the Mace did often feud. Each company killed among the other, for the Mean of the Knife turned to robbery and murder and so brought down on themselves the wrath of the Men of the Mace. Each hated the other, but the Men of the Mace departed seldom from the decree against killing needlessly.
As the race of Men spread across the world, the men of Mace and Knife spread also, though the latter sought places to pillage and the former sought places to guard. Their feud also spread, until each of the other companies knew of it and had marked for death any Man of the Knife.