Druid Scapegoats

Author: Druid Nivienne
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An Examination of Druid Bias in The Tempest and the Sunflower,
By Druid Nivienne of the Eldertide Circle

Phoebe Pajaud has penned a historical romance "based on true events" meant to appeal to the hearts of romantic readers on holiday in the Systres Archipelago. It's even inspired a song of the same name. The story's quiet but undeniable success has provoked a response from Jacquois Dufort with claim to the "true story" of his ancestors, despite the work of FICTON not mentioning their real names even once. Interestingly, both versions do mention the very real Eldertide Circle, for whom I now speak.

Let us first examine the facts. Lisette Mornard and Arnoit Dufort were born in the Systres in the early Second Era. Lineage charts from their respective families are easily cross-referenced with tournament dates at Castle Navire. From the Castle Navire tournament records, we know that Lisette Mornard was indeed a knight, and that she was a tournament champion in the year 2E 42. Notably, there is one major piece of evidence missing from these tales: the letters! Why would such accounts of this romance be forever hidden away or destroyed? Bear with me as I get to that.

I've heard the Mornard version of this tale, similar only in that it has been passed down through the family. In their version, it was not the druids but the younger Dufort brother Andair who poisoned Arnoit's blade. It was the perfect way to fry two fish in one pan. He'd dispose of the noble Lisette and his ineffectual older brother in one swift move to weaken the rival family and secure his own place in his family's legacy. Arnoit is sent to Amenos, where he spends little time finding the highest cliff and throwing himself from it. The devious Duforts are painted as duplicitous villains who corrupted and killed a once-beloved daughter of Galen.

But indeed, even the Mornard version insists on the lovers being pushed to these lengths by druid interference. I've seen little dialogue on this matter, or even on the fanciful notion by Jacquois Dufort that Lisette Mornard was secretly a … druid? Witch? He can't seem to make up his mind on that front. Nevertheless, each version of this story contains sentiment that casts druids as faceless monsters, demanding that mainland Bretons quit the Systres.

And to that I say, why not? Is that really so much to ask when the druids occupied these islands first? It's a fanciful notion, to be sure, but not entirely unreasonable from the druidic point of view.

I also suggest that one might use what one can determine from non-druidic cultures to poke holes in the story of these two ill-fated lovers.

Given that Lisette and Arnoit were first-born heirs, are we REALLY to believe that the accidental death of one at the hands of the other would not have provoked an open war between the two houses?

And to that point, if these two died when the lineage charts say they did, WHERE are either of them buried?

And finally, I ask: WHY might both houses that despise one another AGREE that the druids were, in some part, responsible for the fate of Lisette and Arnoit?

Ah. But there's a simple answer to that question, is there not? See the title of this piece. We druids make convenient scapegoats!

Imagine the lovers' perspective: being together openly is not an option. Escaping together from the Systres is impossible, and given the Breton propensity for arranging fortuitous marriages, they must think quickly before one or both of them are sold like livestock to the coin-baron with the most jangly purse.

This is where I admit that in the oral history of my Eldertide Circle, we do indeed take credit for ferrying letters between these two lovers, and more. Perhaps we did perform their marriage, and secret them away from Galen and High Isle. There is, after all, an island in the Systres known as the inescapable island.

Yes, I speak of Amenos. Think of it: a pact taken together to unite their houses, wherein their parting would mean their probable death. They had branded themselves prisoners of conscience, you see? It was a good plan, sending a powerful message to their families.

Too powerful a message, in fact.

First-born heirs, refusing their family names and making themselves effectively irremovable from the one island where they might be together? Putting what I know of non-druidic Breton culture to use, I know that such a happening would be a ruinous scandal, strong enough to make waves that would reach mainland shores. A scandal like that is strong enough to make lifelong enemies likely to craft an agreed-upon narrative: their children died at each other's hands. And moreover, the druids drove them to do it.

As for the lives of Lisette and Arnoit, is it really so inconceivable that shedding their names, their mainlander habits, and their acceptance of their lives as druids of Amenos might have led to a long and happy life together?

I don't think so. But I expect few would agree with me.

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