The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Player created stories and roleplay; please be respectful
Locked
User avatar
warped
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:17 pm

The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by warped »

[Feel free to jump in. Timeline thoroughly dis-connected with in-game events, to keep things here simple. As always with this feller, there may or may not be a point. Smart money is betting on the latter, but you can't win if you don't play...]

An old, old man clad in undyed clothing hobbles in to the Cat's Lair, Britain's premier waterfront tavern. He proceeds to a table at the back of the room and looks around. Setting his hat on the floor next to the chair (with a Stern Glance at it to make sure it stays put), he stretches, then winces. Quite unconcerned with the other patrons, he strips off his grey tunic followed by his chainmail tunic.

Bare-chested, he holds up the chainmail with a sombre expression. He gives it a shake. It jingles. It jangles. It is decidedly lop-sided; More or less in tatters, the majority of the links are unlinked, and those still joined to their neighbours are holding on by the proverbial thread. In disgust, he casts it on the table in front of him, dons his grey tunic, and sits (He bumps his hat with his heel in the act, sliding it out of sight under his chair).

He orders a bottle of Whisky and, when it arrives, takes a long pull straight from the bottle. He then carefully pours a third of the bottle over the chainmail, exhibiting remarkable steadiness in what had been shaking hands moments before. The operation ends with no link left un-wetted. Such was the precision of the pour that only a very tiny amount begins to run off the table. A tiny pool forms near the chair.

Pulling a dirt-covered turnip from his pocket, he begins to gnaw on it while watching the armour soak in the strong liquor.
..-. .. ... ....
User avatar
Valonia
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:19 pm

Re: The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by Valonia »

On this particular touristy exploration of Britain, Valonia decided to visit The Cat’s Lair. She hadn’t heard much about it, but it was in the area. She wasn’t visiting the Cat’s Lair for any official druid business, of course. Just a drink, perhaps a meal, and some ambiance. So when she walked into the tavern, she could not have anticipated seeing a half-naked elderly gentleman lurking in the corner and eating a turnip. And a small puddle on the floor near his position.

She shook her head a little and let out a long sigh. Maybe an Abbey red to go with the old man’s turnip crunching? She wasn’t a wine aficionado by any means, but one could not spend as much time around Empath Abbey as she had and not pick something up. Even if she imagined the monks would probably dispute her choice of a red. They’d probably suggest a white. To go with the turnip, after all.

Valonia stopped by the counter to put in an order for a glass of wine, as well as a plate of cheese, meat, and bread to pick at, making sure to get enough for two. Collecting her meal, and juggling her staff in the crook of her arm, she headed toward the old man’s table.

She noted he was not wearing his hat, and scanned quickly for it. It was on the floor, apparently? And judging by the smell, the puddle on the floor was NOT the old man’s micturition, and rather a portion of his drink (for which Valonia was grateful).

“Coyote. Mind if I join you?” she asked simply. “And… uh... Did you want something other than a turnip?”

She nodded toward the plate in her hand.
ImageTeam Druid aka The Justice LeagueImage
----
🔥 Fire Mage Fanciers Guild - You had me at "I cast fireball!"🔥
----
☥ 0-Part Avatars Club ☥
1 of 8 Shrines visited
User avatar
warped
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:17 pm

Re: The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by warped »

The old man looks up quickly. A myriad of expressions cross his face with inhuman speed: a shrewd glance, complete confusion, rage, pleasure at seeing a known face, cold calculation, befuddlement. His countenance settles on a smile with a conspiratorial cast to it. This is a man with secrets to share.

He glances idly 'round the large common room, as if seeing it for the first time. Taking in the high ceiling, sturdy windows, and well-built walls, he musingly remarks: "Most pleasing when the outside stays on it's side of the line. An inversion is no place for conversation."

Deftly flipping the chain tunic over on itself, he makes space on the table and gestures for her to sit. A quick wipe with the sleeve of his tunic renders the table reasonably clean and dry.

Casting a considering eye over the plate in her hand, he pulls another turnip from a pocket in his cloak and, with some rummaging, three carrots, setting them on the table.

"The sustenance-prospective cried out for balance," he explains with a nod at the plate.

"What brings you to the waterfront?" he asks, and takes another bite of raw turnip.
..-. .. ... ....
User avatar
Valonia
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:19 pm

Re: The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by Valonia »

Valonia did not truly need an old man’s carrots or turnip. On any given day, she was perfectly capable of supplementing her nutrition intake both with what she foraged and from various teas created from the weeds she found in people’s yards. (Not to mention that she was in fact a druid and thus had some knowledge and training in herbalism and woodscraft, and the support of her organization should she have been in actual need.) Still, given the spirit of intent with which the vegetables were offered, she nodded with the utmost solemnity, collected the vegetables, and placed them in her satchel with care.

The old man might be more than a little odd, but he was not entirely wrong about what he said. There was balance in this. Not that Valonia had actually expected payment for a simple kindness, but this way no debt, real or imagined, was incurred. She would not have asked for anything if he had not offered, but she would not insult him by refusing his gifts either. The exchange was not some sort of cosmic rightness, but it seemed fair enough to her sensibilities.

She propped her staff along the wall out of the way, then began the reorganizing of the things she was carrying: the plate she set on the table an equal distance between them, her glass of wine closer to herself, her satchel on the floor (carefully out of the wet places), her cloak atop the dry satchel, and herself in the proffered seat.

“Tourism, mostly,” she explained, pulling a portion off the bread loaf and picking at some cheese, and gesturing for him to take his share of the food. “I have not previously spent very much time in Britain, though that may change in the coming days. Britain will still have its normal judiciaries, but I may be tasked with monitoring situations here.”

She took a bite of bread and cheese and chewed before continuing. “I imagine it is easier to get clearer images of situations if you have someone you can send directly.”

It was a glorified go-fer position, but it suited her fine. Not only was she young enough to be able to handle the road work, unlike most of the greyhoods, but she was probably a little more capable of handling danger than someone who had spent their life in academic study.

And though Valonia had spent most of her time in isolated areas, and still looked to the solitude of the woods for comfort and solace… she found she was starting to enjoy the city.

“Besides. You are right about the, hm, ‘inversions’. Things have been dangerous of late,” she added.

The danger of the roads ebbed and waned, but it was clear things were still… odd. She herself had seen mindless dead things in the woods. It was highly unsettling, and she did not know how to handle such things. While her instinct was to attack such things until they stopped moving, she neither had the skill to handle the numbers of such things, nor did she have the knowledge to ensure they stayed dead. She had reported it as best she could, but that was the limit of her abilities. She was no necromancer, and she lacked any applicable knowledge of the magical arts.

She highly doubted a magic arrow would dispel such creatures, even if she’d had the reagents to attempt it.

Now that she thought of it, that was likely the main cause behind her ‘reassignment’. She was proficient in some arms and adaptable enough for normal situations, but there were also many things beyond her capabilities.

“And, um, Coyote? I am no metal-worker, but I doubt the…” She sniffed the air briefly to identify the scent. “…the whiskey will piece it back together.”

She pointed to the old man’s battered chainmail.
Last edited by Valonia on Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ImageTeam Druid aka The Justice LeagueImage
----
🔥 Fire Mage Fanciers Guild - You had me at "I cast fireball!"🔥
----
☥ 0-Part Avatars Club ☥
1 of 8 Shrines visited
User avatar
warped
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:17 pm

Re: The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by warped »

The wanderer twitches, almost a violent shudder, then collects himself and snorts. "Bah! You young people. No imagination. Metal-work. Ha-rmph." He pokes at the chain tunic. The alcohol has mostly evaporated, leaving only the residue behind.

"This is an ancient magic. Before the eight circles, the eight Virtues. Before the eight Cities. Before Britannia-that-is coalesced from Sosaria-that-was. I remember..." he trails off slowly...

A vigorous shake of his head, and he's back to the here-and-now. Another bite of turnip, and it's gone. He swallows it before continuing. "It's an ogre trick. I've seem them do it, with their very own eyes, I've seen." A giggle grows to a chuckle. "With my own eyes, too." A strangeness shows in his own eyes, but he pulls himself together.

He prods the chain links again; they clink, and clank. "A whole cave of them. One of 'em passed out, dead drunk. I spared him for that; Drunken Ogre tastes like you'd expect, it's not fit for consumption." He frowns, remembering. "He had a chain tunic. Huge, it was. Armour for a horse and to spare. Wasn't in any better shape than this is" *a sharp poke at the tunic on the table.* "But the next time I smelled him? Tunic was tip-top. Not a rent to be seen. Could've been new."

He snorts again. "Pre-post-rous. Ogre's haven't the wit for speech, nevermind the art and intricacies of metal-working. It was magic. Ogre-magic. I don't recall exactly the spirits used..." the old man trails off, musing to himself. "Rum's no good. Ogres haven't the patience for sugercane. Vodka? Not even an Ogre would waste a stewing-potato on that. Wine? Neither the red, nor the white.. and damn those monks for their questions! But whisky..."

He gathers himself together, fixes a steely eye on Valonia. "Whisky! Everyone has access to cereal. Even the rats can grow grain. Even the ancient ones, the lizardfolk. Whisky will do the job."

He maintains his gaze a few moments longer, then his eyes sink to the tunic. His shoulders sag. "No one in this city will repair it. Replace it, right enough, but not fix it. The magic will work. It must work."

He takes a small slice of cheese from the platter, washes it down with another drink from the whisky bottle. Whispers, "it must." His eyes don't leave the tunic.
..-. .. ... ....
User avatar
Valonia
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:19 pm

Re: The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by Valonia »

As the old man told his story, the woman kept her expression neutral, and nodded slowly. Her initial thought was that he was more nuts than a field of oak trees.

Still… she had been around Coyote enough now to suspect that most of the things the old man said had some hint of fact within it, some kind of something that could be puzzled out. The problem was trying to pry out those the facts from within the… well, nest of acorns.

Valonia believed it was possible he could be old enough to have seen ancient Sosaria. It was not unheard of, after all. Lord British himself was such a case. And there were several notable individuals throughout Britannian history. Especially if one was some sort of weird foreigner. Coyote did not appear to be foreign, but his strangeness certainly made a case for it.

But even assuming Coyote was indeed that old posed another problem: finding a frame of reference for anything he alluded to. For one, it was difficult to even have a base of knowledge on something that distant in the past. That far back, information became spotty. Valonia was of course not that old herself, and had no first-hand experience with such things. And even the Druids, Valonia’s own chosen profession, did not keep complete record of all things relating to pre-Sosarian times. Yes, they were one of the oldest record-keeping professions on Sosaria/Britannia, but there had been a few cataclysmic events here and there. Things got lost, or forgotten, or intentionally destroyed for one reason or another.

In short, it was difficult for Valonia to verify whether he was actually referring to a real and genuine form of magic, or whether all of this was the conjuration of an addled mind. Likely the latter. Ogre-magic was a ridiculous concept, clearly.

Valonia knew she shouldn’t encourage him to keep trying this foolish ‘ritual’ of his. Humoring him on this wasn’t going to help him or his well-being. But at the same time… he really did seem invested in this ‘ogre magic’. Maybe she just didn’t want to accelerate his inevitable disappointment.

“I… highly doubt they would be using distilled spirits in the magic you are talking about,” Valonia said carefully, feeling a little guilty for indulging an old man’s delusions. “Probably the more, uh, metaphysical kind, real or imagined. Or perhaps the kind of spirits they called upon no longer exist? After all, too many things have been lost over time.”

She shrugged, then considered the problem.

“If –I- were attempting to summon ‘spirits’ to assist with magic older than Britannia itself, I would probably go out into the woods somewhere, meditate, and attempt to commune with whatever spirit inhabits the land,” she offered. “You know, that kind of spirit? But then again, I am druid-y so I would do such things anyway. What do I know?”

Well, it was true. It wasn’t just a stereotype that druids tended to like nature, and Valonia expected many of her colleagues would enjoy such things too. Besides, druid or not, taking a nice camping trip sounded like a rather pleasant getaway anyway, to be honest. Or would be nice, if the undead and other creatures weren’t such an issue of late.

She sipped from her glass, then set it down as a thought occurred to her.

“Oh, it is dangerous in the woods now, however. Maybe you should get a new mail shirt while you attempt to fix the old one.”

There. Maybe that would convince him not to be completely reckless. At least he would be protected during whatever it was he ended up doing. All the better if he accidentally-… oh wait.

“And maybe protect you from inadvertently summoning from any inappropriate spirits,” she added abruptly. “The undead have been a problem too.”

She inwardly winced. What kind of person was she, encouraging crazy old men to go out into the woods and try summoning spirits?? Not that she actually expected Coyote to be successful in communing with some sort of Britannian Spirit of Nature, but still! What if he ended up summoning a different sort of spirit like a spectre, liche, or a demon, or Slasher of Veils, or-…

“Or, uh, look… perhaps you should not listen to me,” she grimaced. “This is not my speciality by any means.”
ImageTeam Druid aka The Justice LeagueImage
----
🔥 Fire Mage Fanciers Guild - You had me at "I cast fireball!"🔥
----
☥ 0-Part Avatars Club ☥
1 of 8 Shrines visited
User avatar
warped
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:17 pm

Re: The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by warped »

The wanderer sits, listening to Valonia's suggestions. His mouth opens and closes several times throughout, protest stopped before it starts. Clearly, it was quite important to him that he repair what he has, not replace it outright. At the mention of 'undead', his eyes flicker. He obviously has an opinion on that subject as well, but it also remains unvoiced.

In the end, he sits silently, with a carefully neutral expression. A moment passes, and another. A deep breath.. and another. Having mustered what passes for his mind and applied it to what he has heard, he closes his eyes.

Several long minutes later, interrupted by a single half-snore and a twitch as he awakens, he begins to intone in a low voice: "Ye, though I passed through the valley of the shadow of death, I feared no evil".

His eyes open, aglow with a fell light. At normal volume, in a flat voice, he concludes: "For I was the most dangerous thing in the valley." The light fades.

His customary befuddled look returns to his face. He looks at Valonia. Looks at the chain tunic on the table before him. Glances out the window, at the cheese, at the tunic again, and back to Valonia. "It is rare to find a silver lining without it's cloud. Perhaps it doesn't care for the cheese."

Resolute decision replaces befuddlement. He rolls up the tunic and tosses it hurriedly in his pack. "Travel holds the lock, but the woods do not bear the key. There are Lords of the ogres in that dungeon. It is known. I'll have the secret out of them, if I have to drown the lot. I'll put them under the River one by one until I learn the truth of this matter." He shoulders his pack, and reaches behind him for the axe leaning against the wall.

He stands abruptly, tipping his chair over backward. "I thank you for sharing your wisdom, and food. As always, your clear thought speaks to the heart of the matter." He grins. "Thoughts don't speak, but a dog's tail wags. Isn't that odd? Good day!"

He leaves the tavern at a run, moving like a man a third his apparent age.

He heads north, to the Serpent's Spine mountains... and Dungeon Despise.

The hat lays forgotten on the floor, crushed under a leg of the tipped chair.

[Thus ends part one of the ogre-magic arc. Which I definitely planned out ahead of time and didn't make up on-the-fly, perish the thought. And part two is certainly already thoroughly considered, I'll swear to that on whatever's handy. Close it up, Val! And thanks for putting up with the coherently incoherent wanderer.]
..-. .. ... ....
User avatar
Valonia
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:19 pm

Re: The wanderer and the ogre 'magic'

Post by Valonia »

Valonia opened her mouth as if to say something, then sat there blinking in alarm, her mouth still hanging as open as the door of the Cat’s Lair. But she could start to feel the odd looks of the other patrons. So, snapping her mouth shut, she quickly donned her cloak once more and gathered her things.

While she did so, she noted the hat mashed under Coyote’s tipped over chair. With a worried frown, she righted the chair and collected up the hat as well. She didn’t know what discarding the seemingly innocuous piece of headwear might mean for Coyote. He had seemed a little… clearer while wearing it. But for him to leave it behind entirely…? That could not bode well.

With an apologetic look at the front counter, she left the Cat’s Lair herself, shouldering her staff and satchel, and leaving her plate of food behind.

She scanned the streets of Britain quickly. She caught sight of a half-dressed graying man heading… north? But people and buildings got in the way and she lost sight of him in the mix of people.

Her instinct was to follow him, of course. If she had inadvertently caused some crazy old person to battle himself to death, then surely she-…

She felt a sudden chill, and shivered under her cloak. Those clouds and silver linings Coyote had mentioned were turning into some manner of a weather front, and the sudden gust of wind had the effect of giving her pause.

She could chase after him, perhaps. Probably track him down. If he sought ogres, one of the great dungeons lay north. Despise. Perhaps she could stop him before the weather showed up. Perhaps the weather itself would stop him.

And yet… If he had chosen this path, believed in it with a certainty Valonia was hard-pressed to find rival to, and made this decision, was it her place to tell him no?

She frowned. She could write off all of his decisions as the actions of a madman. But somehow, she didn’t entirely believe that.

Ancient names came to mind. Selzhanik. Alizarkanon. Names she’d come across in her studies. Differing schools of Truth from a different era. Both men had faced cataclysms as well, changes in the nature of their time. Both had reached beyond for solutions. But there the similarities had ended.

In response to the uncertainty of his era, Alizarkanon had chosen a different sort of truth, named himself some manner of prophet. His followers, which were numerous for the time, were initiated in secret rituals that supposedly gave them powers of life and death. And spells that never failed, for they called upon something beyond themselves. There was a limit to how much Valonia knew of the man and his Cult, as those were secrets reserved for his people alone, but she knew enough to have her suspicions.

Selzhanik, however, had been a druid. And though records of that era were scarce, a few of his letters had survived. The druids of old had studied both prayers and sorcery, according to ancient texts Valonia had seen. But by the time of Exodus, by the time of the Druid Selzhanik’s era, they had clearly made a choice. Selzhanik himself was also an archmage of the Ninth Circle (whatever that meant…). So regardless of whatever spirits druids had communed with previously, they had chosen the path of sorcery rather than… whatever Alizarkanon’s followers had.

Perhaps that was why the Druids had survived the changes, and the Clerics had… gone somewhere.

Valonia looked north, towards where she last saw Coyote.

So what did she believe? Did she believe the old man was crazy and in need of intervention? Or did she believe that this was some manner of test, and that he had to overcome it alone using the methods he clung to?

She leaned on her staff and frowned. That path, Coyote’s path, was not hers. Some things she couldn’t believe. Perhaps the ancient druids would have chosen differently, perhaps they would have sat on the fence as long as they could, but Valonia herself ultimately agreed with Selzhanik’s decision, and the direction he had taken for the future. This meant she could not see Coyote’s actions as correct.

Still, at the same time… believing what she did meant she also believed in self-determination. And she did not believe Coyote to be infirm enough to require restraint. Regardless of Valonia’s skepticism, he clearly had something he needed to prove to himself. He had to learn his truths his own way.

It was cold of her, perhaps. But the pursuit of truth was not always kind.

Valonia folded his hat as best she could, and placed it in her satchel. When she got back to her residence, she wrote a brief note she addressed to the guards/Order of Silver Serpent patrollers:
To Whom it May Concern:

I understand there are still those who adventure in the direction of Despise, but I am writing in regards to a particular individual: Elderly, possibly with a compromised mental state, answers to Coyote. If patrols are sent to the area, I would be interested in information regarding his status.

- Valonia of Yew
Journeyman Druid
She sent off the letter, but considered making her own patrols anyway. She believed that his actions were his to take... but that didn't mean she believed in abandoning him to his own devices entirely.

And maybe some part of her hoped that he was right on some level, and whatever ancient spirits still remained took mercy on fools and believers.

[Fin. Or is it…?]
ImageTeam Druid aka The Justice LeagueImage
----
🔥 Fire Mage Fanciers Guild - You had me at "I cast fireball!"🔥
----
☥ 0-Part Avatars Club ☥
1 of 8 Shrines visited
Locked