Armoured Bears of Avalon?
Armoured bears are one of the most striking feats of imagination in Philip Pullman's trilogy "His Dark Materials", The friendship struck up between Lyra and Iorek Byrnison, one time leader of the Panserbjorn or armoured bears of the frozen wastes of the north is certainly one of the most deep and touching of the whole story as Lyra instinctively knows the respect armoured bears hold for truth-tellers. The friendship first develops in the first book of the trilogy "Northern Lights" ("named The Golden Compass incorporating 'armored' bears in USA and subsequent film release in 2007) and lasts throughout the whole story unto the bitter, bitter end.
Panserbjørne or Armoured bears are bears with opposable thumbs who make their own armour from metal taken from meteorites (known as star-metal in Avalon). Armored bears have the capacity for speech, even in human languages, a deep sense of honour and tradition, and, unfortunately, a great weakness for alcohol. Their armour is so precious to them that it is perhaps the equivalent of a human soul or to the daemon of Lyra's world.
Rangers are members of a guild in Avalon. Like armoured bears they are most at home in their natural surroundings, in the case of the Rangers that is the forests of Avalon, especially the central and vast Greenwood forest. A Ranger has many, many skills, but perhaps the most coveted of all is his or her ability to take on 'bear form'. The greatest of the Rangers are at their most formidable fighting best when they take the form of the bear, though it should be noted that only a relatively few Rangers reach the skill level within 'Forestry' to achieve this feat. All armoured bears are polar bears, the Ranger bears of Avalon have been known to take on other forms of bear, including polar bears like the armoured bears, but also brown, black and grizzly bears amongst others.
Traditionally Rangers have tended to be a force for good and allied to the southern city of Mercinae, however, over the years darker forces slowly talked and tricked them into a more neutral stance and eventually morals were so corrupted that some Rangers stood openly as supporters of Thakria and there was even an attempt at a break-away guild. It was at this time that Avalon first felt the terrible clash of two Rangers in bear form fighting one another in real earnest and although conflict has lessened today, it does still exist within the guild.
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