The Great Hunt
The Great Hunt
The Great Hunt is essentially a blood sport. Killing, trapping and clawing your way to the top earns you, and whatever kingdom from which you hail, great honor in The High King's court. Plus riches, and a chance to ascend the throne at Princess Merlara's side.
Most people know only a few things about The Hunt when they jump in, starting with the fact that it was an elf by the name of Aelharran that ended the first massacre. Years had passed, all the world under the onslaught of monsters, our societies on the brink of utter destruction, many of them already in ruins, when an orphan of no particular note slew The Great Beast.
It had taken the form of a terrifying blue dragon, had slain countless kings' men, and the fight is now the stuff of legends. None who witnessed it yet live, but they say it was a single arrow, which glowed as brightly as the sun, that felled the monster.
Aelharran Ironbow, as he was named, ascended quickly to power and was crowned High King for his achievements, leading the six kingdoms, now united under his rule, into an age of prosperity. He settled King's Landing on the shores of Barg ta, the desolated land where he'd won his epic victory, and began construction of the wall that separates the port city and the High King's palace from the wilderness.
Construction was completed under the rule of his eldest son, Aelharran II, and it is now known as Aelharran's wall. It is the ultimate structure of defense in the six kingdoms, spanning as far as any mortal eye can see, from one coast of the continent to the next, and standing an astounding sixty feet tall, and half again as wide. It was erected over the long rule of two elven kings, through magic, mass labor, and some say, cruel determination.
All of King's Landing stands in its mighty shadow, and those who have never seen the destruction of a hunt wonder what exactly it is the High King wishes to keep behind such a wall.
Legends say such attacks of monsters on humanity, and all the races of the six kingdoms, were once frequent, avoided only through sacrifice, and that it was Aelharran's bravery that ended them for once and for all. But only a few years after his father's passing, Aelharran II called for the first High King sanctioned Hunt. After two hundred years of peace, High King Aelharran died tragically and suddenly, and not long after, monsters rained terror from the skies, crawled from within the earth and below the seas, as though word of the hero's death had reached them, and they now knew no fear.
Perhaps Aelharran II did not mean for such a dreadful display of hunter on hunter brutality to arise when he called for the Great Hunt, beseeching every warrior, wizard or bowman in the kingdoms he commanded to seek out and destroy the monsters, find a way to end the terror, as his father had. He promised great reward, any price to be paid to the hunter that brought him the head of the terror leading this beasts against his people.
From every corner of the world poured forth word that these hunters, mad with their desire for this promised reward, were slaying monster and competitor alike. Kings and Queens from all the six kingdoms beseeched the High King's interference, some sort of regulation, and it fell upon deaf ears. Aelharran II allowed the slaughter to continue, in mass, until one champion emerged, carrying the head of a dire wolf, and the monsters retreated, disappearing into the wilderness from wence they came.
The champion, a monk of Tanzirin, retreated back to her monastery, asking no reward.
High King Aelharran II redoubled efforts on the wall, swearing what of it was built to be the only thing that kept the people of his city safe, and finished construction of it in 8 decades, three hundred years before the second monster incursion of his reign. The second hunt under Aelharran's guiding hand was every bit the massacre of the first, and then some. It spanned nearly ten years, claiming many innocent lives, and, toward its end, resulted in slaughter of farm animals, monsters, and even monstrous humanoids alike as people grew more desperate, and more brutal, with every passing moment.
The champion of this hunt was a brute from Za'an Shi, who slew the beast, a Gynosphinx, in his homeland. He was rewarded with gold, women, and a position in the High King's court as ruler of his people — a position that the people of Za'an Shi have since murdered each other for on a regular basis. The champion supposedly went mad shortly after he established his new life and position, murdering his wives, his children, and then being cut down himself shortly after, by a competitor who say the weakness of his mind through his eyes.
The third hunt was not for another four hundred years, toward the end of Aelharran II's long, and some say brutal reign, was every bit as chaotic as the last, but the shortest monstrous incursion on society in any noted history. Not much is known about this most recent champion, but that he was knighted, supposed to marry one Aelharran II's many daughters, and took his own life before the eve of their wedding.
This brings you to the current hunt, the fourth of its kind. Many scholars, and some priests and societal leaders, have apprehensions about the coming state of the world, and in an effort to appease them, Aelharran III has decreed no violence may be committed against innocents or other participants in the hunt within city walls. He has dedicated the force of his mystics to finding the beast, and although they cannot determine its path or its form, they believe it to be wandering the wilds of Barg'Ta.