Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Urim and Thummim

At the monastery my love for the written word flourished. I was 8 when I entered the order. Half starved and abandon there by my siblings, I hold no grudges you see. Our family fleeing wild men of the sea, had no time for my infirmities. Strangely I don't recall my first taste of bread, remember the first drink of wine, not even my first wrap of clothing. All orderly ritual and regiment has diminished those meager gifts in my minds eye. I remained silent for months, I did not speak. Not out of vowel or edict but simply awe of the unearthly realm I had entered. . 

when I was ten a hospitalar requested shelter in route to the Romano Basilica, obliged to the grace of our order he set my leg strait by God's grace and bound it to brace for 4 seasons. 
It was the first time I cried out in two years. 
"Brother Equines!" the healer exclaimed, "he has a voice! By the majesty of our holy father, he who is lame may now stand and he who is mute may now testify." 
With a chuckle Brother Equines whispered to me, " be glad you spoke, his methods to make people speak are no joy to witness." 
The clergy never acknowledged the first words I pierced the still chamber with, the language now lost to me like the faded first taste of bread. The dialect disturbed them deeply and it was never spoke of again. 
Please forgive my boldness, I do not boast out pride, if taken so, I confess it is not the deadliest of the sins. Language to me is a divine gift, my ears a tune so young to the voice of my brothers from lands beyond my reckoning. When I took to the quill and parchment, days past like grains in an hour glass. My eyes devoured the scriptures, parchment, the Gospels. I read of places, men, and ideas long past and nearly forgotten.
When I was christen with the name Samuel, I spent countless hours in the oldest manuscripts. In reverence to Paul once Saul of Tarsus, I desired to understand our spiritual transformation. But with no blood clan to define my sires I felt as if I the soul was given to the name and not the other. 
This name, judgement, Seer, and Kingmaker would haunt my reading. 
This burden was a calling I felt I could not carry.
When I close my eyes I see the stones.
God's Judgement I know.      
Guilt and Innocence 

Brother Samuel

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Völva spoke of what has been and what will be

 Naglfar Rotting 

I remember Ole'Mâ telling us about her Ma's mother. Sis claims she can hardly picture some one that old. I hush her to say, "she is gone to Heaven now." Ole'Mâ wrinkles her nose at this notion. It's more for sis than my elder, for children like short explanations because they are easy to repeat. Ole'Mâ is the eldest in our village, no living man remembers her birth and the church scarcely ascribed trivial things in those days as the birth of a baby girl. Most never survived their first winter. Her words now are few and she tells Sis and I what she can recollect in hushed tones. Her words are crafted under the strenuous labor of breath and she naps sometimes between sentences. My younger sister sometimes looses the story as she rests, I've corrected her to not interrupt for fear of precious stories fading in her twilight. Our history is a lie. I know this because the words of truth fall from her lips like leaves in the autumn, and I know she will not survive this winter like her first. Sometimes in the night I hear her voice softly singing in strange words from her weathered elm limb chair lashed with hog leather straps. I have crept to the window to listen closely but I do not understand this strange tongue. When my mother died of the fever, Ole' Mâ sat by her bed side and would not relinquish her to the grave till her song was complete. My father died that night also, but his corpse still tends the fields, eats at our table and withers in our home. His anguish erupted after mother's burial sum three nights and the violence has left black roots in our souls.
Ole'Mâ tells me that she remembers when stones could speak if you knew how to listen. The wisest of the stones were adorned with wreaths of honey suckle, holly, and ancient symbols. This communion could wake the stones to reveal their secrets. Her Ole'Mâ could make the stones sing and the village would build great fires and dance around them till dawn. Sis and I sang to the stones in the abbey yard but no one danced and we were scorned away. Ole'Mâ wheezed a chuckle," The dead's stones are silent girls, nothing to offer to you, we don't already know."                     

Our older brother brings broth for our meals. The fields share little with us these days and winter is coming. When his clever snares lay empty he turns to other means of forbidden prey for our barren hearth. He teaches me the way of the yew. Her nimble reflex and patient strength. We made a bow together, it's taunt limbs snap the sinew tight leaving welts on my wrists. It stings but it makes me feel strong. When father found it, he broke the golden bow across his knee and beat my brother down with it. He did not beg for mercy, he just took the lash till he fell before our father.         

~Uliza of Fjord Manor~ 964AD

Friday, August 14, 2015

Heroes tried and found wanting.

About 6 years ago I gathered a small band of gamers together to write one of those Epic realm-saving-heroic-Homeric-tales of valiant deeds and noble sacrifice.  I labored over a manuscript, maps, dialog, and character development that was more intense than a doctoral defense, then one evening in a climactic moment the players just failed. Dice, timing, and tactics aside they just blew it. Completely emerged themselves in the fountain of stupid and drank deeply. 
(editor's note: There was no actual fountain of stupid, it's a metaphor, but in reflection it was same effect.)

Dead campaign.

Prophetic apocalypse manifested and doom fell on the lands. No Geatland Funeral Barrow for a fallen hero, no return to Ithaca to slay suitors, just the rotting corpses of 6 adventures tossed unceremoniously in the mulch pile of a fire giant.  

Two years past, seasons changed, life took us all in different directions. One thing remained, a lack of conclusion to a work that around a dozen people pored time and effort into fruitlessly. Imagine the one-ring if at the crimson maw of Mount Doom was just snagged by the Dark Lord and popped on his bling finger. "Thanks for the key to middle earth Hobbit!"  

"Nazgul Please......"
 Our campaign's theme was bloated with Norse myth and not the low hanging fruit of Yggdrasil, but the obscure references to runic origin and the building of Naglfar prior to Ragnarok. Despite my best bludgeoning of the players with my plot-bat, they skipped merrily to the precipice of oblivion and flung themselves in like lemmings with a death wish. I guess I could have had Heimdall himself magically appear to explain their ill fated choices but he would have to beat them with a detour sign to make a point. I'm sure he saw it coming anyway.  Now a world  that submerged in the wake of the Gods' War, a wasteland in a dark age, is little more than the forensic corpse of a high fantasy realm torn asunder. This concept fascinated me. Our collective mythologize provide little to support the bad guy's coming out on top in a divine cosmic ass-whoop'n to come and who's going to get on that hay-ride of pointless piety.       
SO I thought, I provided a world with glamorous magic and mythical high fantasy settings to a party of powerful heroic characters and they bombed like a fat sorority rush pledge. 
 What happens if I propose this: 
Welcome to the dark ages. Your an illiterate serf bound to the inbred will of a noble lord. Your skill set ranges from farming to basic scrounging in a land that is a harsh as the vassal your bound to service. Crop yield of this ash poisoned soil barely keep enough food to support the 30 people you know alive.Although the Church choreographs every aspect of your life you still realize they keep you safe from the countless never witnessed evils your told exist beyond your manor's walls. The high points of your existence are the bland meals you thank god continuously for and that your immortal soul will ascend to a undefined promised paradise shortly after the venerable age of 27. 
 No body can mount a campaign without surplus grain.
You can't even understand the Latin Mass, little-lone Hermetic script.
Elves? Dragons? Dryads? Gryphons?
Try Wolves, robbers, weather and starvation. Then we might work up to a wild boar.
I've made my point....

Here's the cheeky part:
 4 players jumped on this story.

Now I have to start a story,,,