I is for Iron Pact

travelers-SymbaroumThe true nature of the Iron Pact, its extent and true purpose, remains elusive, an idea at best steeped in innuendo.  In our world, this Pact served as inspiration for the name of this website.

In the Symbaroum Core Book, the text makes scattered reference to the Pact, but nothing especially concrete – no more so than might be understood in the game world by the average Ambrian.

It is also said that the human rulers gave the elf lord Eneáno a gift to seal the treaty – six thousand rings of iron.

The elves who make reference to it refer to the Iron Pact as an ancient agreement between the two races. The swearing of the agreement appears tied to the close of the Symbaroum Empire, which suggests that the Pact served as a means to agree not only upon the downfall of that civilisation but the measures needed to sustain its disappearance.

For Queen Korinthia and the colonists of Alberetor, the Iron Pact functions as an invisible line in the dirt beyond which the elves cannot promise safety.

What slumbers in the murky deep of Davokar must not be awakened!

The Iron Pact states, so the elves claim, that human and elf lords agreed, one thousand years ago, to settle the great forest under the watch of the latter. As referenced elsewhere, I believe the extent of the forest at that time would have been significantly smaller, scattered woodlands splashed across the land. In the intervening centuries Davokar has extended, the heart darkening around the centres of corruption.

In that light, Korinthia perhaps has the basis for complaint. If the Pact set to protect all through the elven guardianship of the forest, we might construe the expansion of that forest as exploitation of a loophole. Clearly, the Queen and her advisors have decided to test the limits and play down the agreement as little more than legend and hearsay. The elves can, afterall, choose to say what they want when only they have the lifespan to claim direct awareness of the wording of an agreement – assuming anything existed to begin with.

Treasure-seekers in Davokar have perhaps uncovered evidence that shows that some alliance existed between elves and humans in ages past. The woven and lacquered silk armor found in hoards along with weapons heavier than commonly used by elven soldiers suggest a use of elven craft skills for the benefit of humanity.

The elves – especially sages, bards and glib-tongued faerie – say the Pact promised support from the elves to humans to battle the parasitic darkness of Symbaroum. In light of the events in the last twenty years, such a battle against darkness rings too true to completely ignore. The enemy’s use of dark and forbidden magics to corrupt the land and turn the very dead against their friends and families hints at what might have been.

Scholars with access to Symbarian ruins hint at a history almost too alien to grasp, but almost certainly anathema to a common and peaceful existence with other races. The elves tell their tales and the dwarves speak nothing of it at all – but both show cultural and spiritual scars firsthand, which humanity cannot.

Among the barbarians there are some legends which could be interpreted as proof of the existence and legitimacy of the Iron Pact. On the other hand they could as well be based on lies told to the barbarians by devious pointy-ears.

The Iron Pact extends to more than a half-forgotten oral agreement between distant ancestors. Beyond just words and a threat of retribution for trespass, the Iron Pact has form in the cloaked guardians who travel across Ambria, Davokar and beyond. The members of the Pact appear few in number and focussed primarily amongst the Summer elves and a few human representatives. Naysayers consider the human members little more than brainwashed cultists who have given in to the silvered words of the Elder Races.

Whatever the case, the members of the Iron Pact carry one of two signs to signify their agency – either one of the iron rings or a lacquered multi-colored amulet with the appearance of a leaf caught between each of the seasons. A few tales claim that human lords gifted the former and elven lords the latter, and in that union of gifts founded the ancient pact. One or two of those tales tell that the iron rings themselves originated from a suit of mail worn by a titan of the ancient world slain by agents of the Symbaroum Empire.

Whatever the nature of the pact or the history thereof, both humans and elves alike seem uncertain at this time how far to press for fear of sparking a war. Neither side would fare well nor benefit from such a conflict. For the moment, most blades of the Pact quench their thirst in the blood of Abominations rather than in the acrimonious slaughter of those bound by this ancient agreement. Occasional treasure-seekers and travelers do not return from the forest – but the Pact cannot claim responsibility for all such deaths; though human propaganda certainly paints it that way.

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