Cerunnos

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Cerunnos, the Horned Lord is an archfey from the World Axis cosmology of Dungeons & Dragons. A member of the Gloaming Fey faction of the Court of Stars, he is the leader of the Wild Hunt and is detailed in Dragon Magazine #428. He is, essentially, the World Axis version of the Master of the Wild Hunt.

Cerunnos's features are always hidden, either by the shadows or by a great hunter's helmet, but he appears as a tall, strong firbolg male, with great stag-like antlers and blazing green eyes. He wears little besides a hide kilt and wolfskin cloak, his own skin dyed in blue patterns with woad. There is a palpable predatory aura in the Horned Lord’s presence. An archfey himself, Cerunnos is an embodiment of vigor and violence associated with the hunt, a life-giver and a life-taker whose bloodlust is as legendary as his skill. He carries three distinctive items, which symbolize his power. His weapon of choice is a mighty black spear, representing his prowess as a hunter. A torc around his neck symbolizes his former place among the fey nobility, and it is believed to give the wearer dominion over mundane beasts. Finally, he bears the Horn of the Undying Hunt, a hunter's horn which reaches across any distance when used by Cerunnos. Legends say that one who knows the proper ritual can use the horn to summon and even control the Wild Hunt.

Born a firbolg, Cerunnos was an orphan presented to the archfey Oran, lord of the Green Court, by the mysterious archfey known only as the Witch of Fates. She prophesied that the infant firbolg would be Oran's greatest hunter, until the day he saw his true fate within the waters of the Lake of Destiny, at which point darkness would follow him. Oran took the boy in and Cerunnos, as prophesied, grew up to be the greatest hunter of all the Green Fey, tempering his expertise in tracking and killing with a deep abiding love for the animals; he never took more than he needed, and always showed respect to his kills. Though his adoptive sisters tormented him for not being Oran's blood-son, Cerunnos doted on his father and served him loyally, striving to avoid the Lake of Destiny, which he had been forbidden to approach.

Till one fateful year, when Cerunnos partook in the yearly Hunt for the Silver Hind; a mystical fey deer which Oran's court hunted every winter, but never was able to catch. Such was Cerunnos' skill that he became the first to ever hit the hind with an arrow. Obsessed with proving his love for his father, Cerunnos chased the Silver Hind for miles, right to a cliff overlooking the Lake of Destiny. He managed to grapple the creature, but was frozen at the last moment by the intelligence and emotion he saw in its eyes. At which point it bucked him off the cliff and into the lake. What he saw under the water before he pulled himself to the shore, nobody knows; theories include that he saw his destiny, his true parentage, or some cosmic truth of the hunt. All that's known is that, when he finally struggled home, Oran knew instantly that Cerunnos had been in the Lake of Destiny. He banished Cerunnos from his court forever, laying the first of Cerunnos' three curses: that he would forever wander without a home.

Distraught and betrayed, Cerunnos sought to redeem himself in Oran's eyes, entering the demesne of the archfey known as the Prince of Frost and begging for his help in finding the Silver Hind; after all, it only ever appeared in winter, so it must be a creature of the Winter Court. The Prince of Frost agreed, but only if Cerunnos would capture Oran's daughters and bring them to him. Bolstered by memories of their many years of torment and humiliation, Cerunnos agreed, and led a hunting party to capture his former adoptive kin... but, at the last, realized he could not see them harmed, and so he turned on the Winter Fey, slaying many and sending the survivors fleeing back to their cruel master. The Prince of Frost responded by banishing Cerunnos from the Winter Court forever, and laying a second curse on Cerunnos: that whatever he hunts will always be just beyond his grasp.

Desperate, Cerunnos turned to yet another archfey for aid; Tiandra the Summer Queen, ruler of the Summer Court. She agreed to summon the Silver Hind for him, if Cerunnos would declare which of the two fey - Tiandra, or the Hind - was the fairest. Despite the obvious risks of angering the powerful and rather vain queen of the faeries, Cerunnos agreed; lovely as the Silver Hind was, it was still just a beast, and could not compare to Tiandra. As they waited together for days, Tiandra became enamored of Cerunnos, planing to name him a knight in her court and to take him for a consort. Alas, fate played a cruel trick on Cerunnos yet again; when the Silver Hind entered the court, before the firbolg's eyes, it cast off its doeskin and revealed itself as another archfey; the fierce Maiden of the Moon, enemy of all therianthropes and one of the greatest hunters of all the Feywild. Bedazzled at the sight of her, lovestruck at first glimpse, Cerunnos immediately declared the Maiden to be more beautiful than Tiandra. Incensed and humiliated, Tiandra exiled Cerunnos from her court yet again, and laid a final curse on him; to forever be bound to the shadows as a bloodthirsty slayer of man and beasts. For added humiliation, she caused a pair of stag's antlers to sprout from his skull, so that he could be a "proper stag for his hind".

Ever since that day, Cerunnos has been a member of the Gloaming Court, roaming across the Feywild and the Mortal World alike with his Wild Hunt, seeking to end his curses and to win the love of the Maiden of the Moon - alas, to no avail.