The Eternal Guard are the guardians of the most sacred places within the domains of Athel Loren during the long winter months, where the forest is at its lowest ebb, made dormant and vulnerable by the cycle of the seasons. The Treemen slumber, and even the normally vigorous Dryads are sluggish and slow.
Only skill on the field of battle can earn an honoured place within the ranks of the Eternal Guard, for that duty is a difficult and dangerous one. Should the forest be assailed in the frozen months, the Eternal Guard can depend upon little or no aid from the spirits, and will be called upon to hold fast, no matter what threat comes to challenge them.[1a]
Sometimes, in the bitterest of weather when the shadow spirits stir from the Wildwood, the threat comes from within and not from without. Regardless of whether the foe be faerie spirit, marauding Beastman or lost Questing Knight, the Eternal Guard stand firm before it. Each Eternal Guard is a formidable foe in their own right, trained to a pinnacle of skill that other races cannot easily match. When assembled in numbers, they form a phalanx, their spears thrusting and cutting with a graceful yet disciplined efficiency. The Eternal Guard themselves refer to such a formation as a ‘fortress of boughs’.[1a]
They face the enemy with feet planted firmly upon their chosen ground, shields braced against the enemies’ attacks, and the fine of spears rippling as the leaf-shaped blades dart forward to kill. Though their chief duties are tied to the winter months, the Eternal Guard are called upon to serve all year round, whether as the watchmen and arbiters of the Elven halls, or as bodyguards for the greatest of Elf nobles. Indeed, it is all but unknown for one of the great lords and ladies of Athel Loren to travel anywhere without an escort of some hundreds of Eternal Guard, and this number can rise steeply if battle is expected at the end of the journey.[1a]
The Eternal Guard hold duty to their lord high above the threat of personal danger, and fight without thought to their own safety whilst their lord or lady has need of service. Thus have they often fought on, long into the night, steadfastly defending their charge from a terrible fate, even though their allies have cast aside their arms and fled or he dead upon the field. Come one foe or one thousand, it matters not, the Eternal Guard does not surrender. It is this undying loyalty that has preserved Athel Loren from civil war on more than one occasion, as it is custom for feuds between nobles to be settled through trial by combat between representatives of each other’s Eternal Guard. Combatants are chosen by the drawing of lots, making it in a lord’s best interest that all Eternal Guard under his command be trained to as high a standard as possible. To be nominated to fight such a duel is the greatest honour an Eternal Guard can know as, win or lose, they knows that their deeds in the arena of blades will save the lives of thousands.[1a]