In the ancient days of Europe great cats came from the east into the dark forests. They were some of the most cunning and powerful creatures of the continent. The powerful lions reigned as the predators of the night. It wasn't long before humans began to call Europe their home. For thousands of years mankind struggled to stay alive in the harsh environments of the north. Over these years humans learned that certain animals had characteristics that were more powerful than their own. They also learned that properties are not immutable. Fire can burn, all things age, and things can be combined. It was this last revelation combined with the knowledge of nature and magic that combined in the greatest incarnation of European magic. The eldest woman of a tribe placed a bowl shaped stone gently on top of other stones arranged to hold it over a flame. Within the cup of the stone boiled a liquid with some debris floating and twirling through it. The water was taken from a bubbling spring. Blood was taken from the tribe's greatest hunter. A tooth was taken from a lion that the hunter had killed, and an egg from a shore bird was added. Herbs were sprinkled into the mixture. The elderly woman threw dirt on the fire to put out the flame. With an incantation and much hand waving, she poured the still steaming mixture on the first born of their great hunter. The baby screamed as his skin was scorched. His mother covered her face as she wept in tears. The father covered the child in an animal hide and cradled the nearly featureless babe in his arms. Over the years the child's featureless face became more and more lion-like. Although there were traits of the lion that man admired, there were far more that men feared. The eldest woman was then priestess, and she was being pleaded with to make the boy leave. The priestess made a small wooden statue of the boy, but looking much older than he did at the time. She made an incantation, which would curse the boy to forever live in the forest as long as the statue remained. The boy grew to be a man, living with the lions. The lions were hunted, but they protected the man who bore their face. They guarded him until the great invasion in which the land was invaded by thousands of people who spoke a strange tongue and worshiped bulls and bears. The last of the lions died, but the man lived on. He was the last remnant of their blood. He hid away from humanity only speaking with the most isolated of individuals. Centuries passed like weeks to the man-beast, who named himself Alder. He watched with disdain as the people of his own land began to worship Hermanubis, a Greek/Egyptian dog-headed god. Centuries later, he heard man speak of the gladiators who fought with lions. Hearing that lions were once again in his land, he disguised himself in a hood and cloak, which he had easily acquired from a passerby. He entered a building and saw several men kill the largest lion he had ever seen. Alder hid back into the forest. He traveled east until he met men who spoke differently from the Romans who killed lions. He told them that the men of Rome had great wealth and more land than they needed. Alder now lives in the Black Forest of Germany. He still awaits a time when his kindred spirits can once again roam Europe's forests. The picture was made using Poser 4, Spatch, Compressed Mesh, Vegetate, Plant Studio and POVRay 3.5.