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Oskaar
04-17-2005, 10:24 AM
I'm sure all of you have noticed how many very excellent posters we have, and how creative they are in relating their recipes, experiences, observations and methods for all of us to enjoy. So I think it might be fun to start up a story for everyone to pitch in their own creative additions and some twists and turns. Just pick up from where the previous poster leaves off and add your two cents worth. I'll start things off and hopefully we can have some fun with this.

So . . . here we go:

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A Mead Tale

The camp.

“By the gods, I’ve gone blind!” Kryvak roared and heaved to his feet only to stagger and careen into the jackass tethered next to his bedroll. The normally docile beast protested braying wildly and bucking violently enough to break his tether. Pots and pans clanged loudly and the din brought everyone else to their feet, weapons in hand as the frightened ass wrecked havoc in the camp.

Kryvak was in an ugly mood now that he realized his beard had been pulled back over his face, and his legs had been loosely hobbled with a leather thong. Invariably, after a long night of drinking mead and trading barbs with Dwyden, there would be some sort of mischief at Kryvak’s expense, and this morning was no different. That damnable elf was probably laughing at him right now. Well, he wouldn’t laugh for long.

“By Moradin’s beard I’ll have your bob-eared head on a pike you prancing Woodie!” he bellowed and fingered the haft of his axe. With an indifferent flip of the axe he cut the hobble, and shook his beard loose to look about for his tormentor. Brother Malcom, and the rest of the camp were all laughing and trying to manage the bucking donkey which only managed to darken Kryvak’s mood. . .

lostnbronx
04-17-2005, 01:33 PM
I'm sure all of you have noticed how many very excellent posters we have, and how creative they are in relating their recipes, experiences, observations and methods for all of us to enjoy. So I think it might be fun to start up a story for everyone to pitch in their own creative additions and some twists and turns. Just pick up from where the previous poster leaves off and add your two cents worth. I'll start things off and hopefully we can have some fun with this.

So . . . here we go:

================================================== =====================


A Mead Tale

The camp.

“By the gods, I’ve gone blind!” Kryvak roared and heaved to his feet only to stagger and careen into the jackass tethered next to his bedroll. The normally docile beast protested braying wildly and bucking violently enough to break his tether. Pots and pans clanged loudly and the din brought everyone else to their feet, weapons in hand as the frightened ass wrecked havoc in the camp.

Kryvak was in an ugly mood now that he realized his beard had been pulled back over his face, and his legs had been loosely hobbled with a leather thong. Invariably, after a long night of drinking mead and trading barbs with Dwyden, there would be some sort of mischief at Kryvak’s expense, and this morning was no different. That damnable elf was probably laughing at him right now. Well, he wouldn’t laugh for long.

“By Moradin’s beard I’ll have your bob-eared head on a pike you prancing Woodie!” he bellowed and fingered the haft of his axe. With an indifferent flip of the axe he cut the hobble, and shook his beard loose to look about for his tormentor. Brother Malcom, and the rest of the camp were all laughing and trying to manage the bucking donkey which only managed to darken Kryvak’s mood. . .





(Neat Idea! Here Goes! -David.)

A sly laugh, like the tinkling of tiny bells on the wind drew Kryvak's angry attention to a branch directly over his head. The elf, Dwydenbel'h'yania, or just Dwyden to those friends of his he'd made outside of his own people, grinned down at the red-faced, sputtering dwarf, his uncanny crystalline eyes sparkling with shameless merriment. Malcom, "Brother" now in secret only, and only among those he most trusted, guffawed in spite of himself. The dour holy man had had precious little to laugh over these bleak days of late, with his order smashed, his gods forbidden.

Young Arno, who dubbed himself Arno of the Pike, and who'd so recently been just a farmer's son (and, in truth, still ignorant of the real purpose of their quest), came around a stand of raspberry bushes (not yet in season, unfortunately) with a massive armload of fallen branches and gathered wood for the fire. This obscured the scene for him, and he dropped the pile unceremoniously.

"What? What did I miss?!"

"Not a burning thing, youngster," Kryvak growled, as he reached for the still-grinning elf over his head, who danced out of his grasp like a moth in a summer's breeze, "You're just in time to see me swat a pest! Stand still you leaf-lover!"

"Ah, Kryvak, my earthy little friend," Dwyden taunted with his grin unchecked by the dwarf's furious attempts at capture, "wasn't the mead last night simply divine?"

"Aye," the stocky warrior replied simply and through gritted teeth, his battleaxe suddenly flashing in the morning sun with truly uncanny speed. Like a scythe through grass, the enchanted dwarf blade, Grat Mot-Dagga (or Goblin Splitter in the tongue of men), cut through the waste-thick oak branch which the self-amused elf danced upon. Kryvak stepped just a hair to the side as the huge branch crashed in a cloud of dust and reeds. With inhuman reflexes, the elf jumped clear at the last moment, though he landed hard, and sprawled in a manner most un-Dwydenlike. The violent end of the joke settled silently over the group, as Dwyden looked up from his fall with utter shock.

Finally, as if breaking a spell, Kryvak cocked an amused smile on his broad, scarred face, and offered his old friend and tormenter a hand up.

"Aye," he repeated, as he brought Dwyden lightly to his feet, "'twas fine mead, at that."

Oskaar
04-17-2005, 07:01 PM
He looked askance at Kryvak and grinned sheepishly, “When will you ever learn that you can’t win a drinking contest with an Elf?"

Kryvak smirked, "Losing is the sweet reward in drinking that fine mead Brother Malcom and his Acolytes brew at the Abby laddie. The aim is to get drunk, and thusly I stand undefeated in our drinking contests!"

"You know elvin-kind are not affected by mead, or any other alcohol that has not been worked and enchanted by our own immortal hands.” He dusted himself off dancing a jig and singing in the old tongue as he did so.

Al leuta kod dar
M’eyar lantra mobar
Padee te drushe le
Mallenne bo lley!

From the tree I did fall
In front of you all
By the axe of a warrior
Who isn’t too tall!

“Now there’s a catchy ditty that will no doubt burn through the land and be sung in every inn and tavern from Barak Mor to D’un Hdrath.” Brother Malcom quipped, looking about as if he expected someone.

“Everyone’s a critic!” Dwyden chuckled, “A true artist is never appreciated in his own time.”

“Master elf,” Arno addressed Dwyden with a quizzical look, “Aren’t you well over a thousand years old?”

“And . . . ?” Dwyden asked, raising an eyebrow and regarding the young man who stood over the firewood he had been gathering.

“Wouldn’t you say that would be enough time for people to appreciate your work?” he grinned.

Kryvak roared with laughter, the various bangles and jewelry braided into his beard jingling and jangling as he cackled and chortled with delight. Dwyden for his part deftly strung his bow and set off toward the woods calling back over his shoulder “I’m going to find Ghilad and Bregor, they’re probably sleeping instead of finding us something for breakfast.”

"Please hurry them along brother Dwyden," Brother Malcom instructed, "we've honey to gather and many meetings on the morrow. Time is a luxury we do not have."

But Dwyden had already faded into the lush woods as quickly as the blinking of an eye.

lostnbronx
04-18-2005, 12:22 AM
The mirth of the moment hung about the clearing of the travellers with determination, but soon enough, it faded like a color-splashed sunset, and the darkness of their troubles settled in once more.

Kryvak, as stubborn as ever, chortled horsely and said, "Good t'hear a bit of laughter outa you at last, Malcom. Can only do you good."

The dying smile held on the monk's broad face long after the lightness had left his eyes. The effect was nearly heartbreaking to see, and Arno, for one, busied himself with stacking the wood near their fire. The robed monastic had less reason than any of them to laugh, and the farmer's son should know. That night, not yet a month past, when the bray of the mules and screeching of the chickens had brought him from his loft bed in the middle of the night, spear in hand, ready to deal with a rogue wolf or determined fox. But it was the light on the mountain above that had drawn his attention -- the same firelight that had panicked the animals. The Order of St. Loquin a Denn, Beloved of the Bees, a monastery that had been a permanent fixture in Arno's life, and that of his father, and of many generations of farmers before that; the social and political focal point of the entire Drandil Valley; healers and mediators without peer; and Meadmakers to the King himself, by Royal appointment. This sprawling place of stability and peace, perched loftily upon Deneth Mountain in plain sight of all the county was burning with unholy intensity. As Arno watched, the high stone walls themselves blasted apart as if from some unimaginable intensity of heat, and the high towers crumbled like anthills under the hooves of cows. A dark thing seemed to pass over him then, coming from the wreckage of the once proud Abbey, like a shadow blacker than night and vaster than the sky; he looked up, but could see nothing, and for that he was only grateful. An hour later, Brother Malcom stumbled in through the gate to his family farm...and his life changed forever.

"Can you eat, Kryvak?" Arno asked, to clear away the horror of that night. "I'll make the morning meal, if you have any appetite -- especially after all the mead you drank last ev'n. Moderation is a virtue, as they say."

Sensing the inevitable return of the heaviness they'd been travelling under for long weeks now, the dwarf sighed, and shook his shaggy head. "They also say, 'Moderation in all things -- includin' moderation'. I've been drunker than that in the middle of combat, boy. Don't let the boastings of the fae get into yer head...what Master Dwyden fails to mention is that only elves can get drunk on elf wine. Oh, I know you heard all kinds of tales about fellers gettin' lost in the woods and meetin' elves and such, and then drinkin' o' their wine and wakin' up a hunnerd years later. Pig droppin's, that is -- stories they spread themselves to seem mysterious. If we were quaffing elf wine last night, well, it woulda been ol' Dwyden hobbled this morn, believe you me. But, I'll eat your human cookery, if ye have a mind to make something. What o' you Malcom? Have ye something to eat?"

The monk made no answer for long moments, then shook his head. "No. I've no appetite. There's work to be done. Vital work. Eat if you must, friend dwarf, Arno, but time is short and growing shorter. We must gather the honey."

Oskaar
04-18-2005, 03:44 AM
Brother Malcom pulled the hood of his dun-colored cassock over his head and turned hastily toward his wagon. He was brooding now and didn’t want any unwelcome questions or queries about his feelings or the mood of the moment. He trudged the mud covered and worn wooden step up into his broad wagon and unlocked the plain wooden door with an equally plain brass key. As he pulled the door closed behind him, he softly chanted a reversal of the darkening he had left to conceal the contents of his wagon from prying eyes. The hairs on the nape of his neck snapped to attention and a chill ran to his marrow, something timeless and hungry called to him from the darkness. Sensual, enticing, inviting with promises of power and wealth he felt warm tendrils slithering out of the darkness enveloping and caressing him to his core, bidding him to open his soul. He shook his head violently and snapped back to lucidity. He was chanting loudly and working a calling in a tongue he did not ever intend to use again. He recoiled; angry now at his weakness, the screams and moans of the dying Loquinite Brethren filled him with guilt and revulsion. He hated himself for surviving and swore anew that he would complete this labor or die. He stopped and quickly reversed the darkening. The interior of the wagon leapt into focus, bathed in a soft white glow that illuminated everything.

What was plain, muddy and unremarkable on the outside of the wagon, played an understated and stark counterpoint to the contents within. A plush woven carpet of deep burgundy and amber patterns lay at his feet and on the carpet his dark walnut desk bearing the four proud beautifully rendered Deneth Lions, each supporting one corner of the ornately scrolled and carven pedestal top. The chalice of Loquin the Proud sat atop his desk, stately, elegant and confident. The inside walls of the wagon were draped with wonderful tapestries of azure, gold, crimson, purple and a penumbra of wild and muted colors depicting mythical tales and historical scenes from ages past. Scattered around this mobile cloister was a considerable collection of the remaining marvelously penned works from the library of Deneth Abby. There were ancient codices bound in hand tooled covers of soft, lightly tanned leather and deep golden filigree, others were bound in solid bright yellow gold and encrusted with jewels so plentiful that just one could easily ransom a king. A great silver mace, covered in ancient runes was set into one corner and leaned upon a suit of armor bearing the same runic symbols. Various relics, bracelets, rings, necklaces, torques and other bits of fine jewelry were secured on the shelves within this reliquary wagon.

Malcom was drawn to a heavy black wooden chest, alone and secured with leather straps to the floor of his wagon. Great black metal hand graven bands that were riveted together bound the chest permanently shut. Dragon scale of the deepest pitch had been hammered into the wood along with glyphs and symbols that wove in and out of the leathern covering as a cluster of snakes writhe and coil about themselves. Within that chest lay the accursed thing that brought ruin to Deneth Abby, and had been stirring ever since that fateful night.

There was no more time! By Loquin’s grace he had to get this collection to Patriarch Maneth in Dhuroc Tehremohr before they were found, murdered and these artifacts plundered by the enemy. His self-loathing grew as he thought about the others on this journey who did not know the extent of their peril.

Miriam
04-18-2005, 12:53 PM
Malcolm's eyes wandered to a portrait of a woman set in a simple wooden frame - so simple as to seem out of place in the splendor of illuminated interior. The painter had caught the lady lifelike. Her rich golden hair was caught up in a tortoiseshell comb; her subtly slanted eyes shone black as velvet, impenetrable and barbaric in the pointed, ivory-colored face. A pale hand held the edges of a heavy lace shawl over her bosom. On one shoulder was pinned a heavy intaglio brooch. Looking closely, the curious observer could make out the shape of a writhing black dragon in its center, encircled by runes.

"Mother", muttered Malcolm, "I did promise to guard Nimue. I have done the best I could. How could you or I have foreseen the destruction of Drandil and the Loquinite Abbey? All our hopes and plans for her, all gone to ashes. Yet there are many thanks to be rendered to the Great Ones, for she might have been one of the many maidens ravished and murdered. Your spirit must have intereceded for her safety, for her errand to Farmer Shmontse's house that night kept her far from Drandil. Now Nimue wanders in the guise of an Elf maiden, under their connivance and care, till such a time as I summon her to assume her natural and rightful place next to the Patriarch Maneth.

"Yet how, how bring my young sister, deer-like and fey, safely through the horrors looming? For my mission is above all else, and if I must sacrifice even old comrades, Mother; yea, even my own kinswoman whom I have brought up as a daughter, by the Ancient and Great Ones, Mother, I must do it."

Malcolm turned heavily from the portrait, but the curious observer might have started and caught his breath - for a second, it seemed as if the painted lady winked, and the ramping dragon in her brooch turned a somersault.

lostnbronx
04-19-2005, 04:15 AM
Arno busied himself with the fire, and then with the breakfast. He had no idea how many would show up to eat, since Ghilad and Bregor where themselves supposed to have caught something meaty, but were now overdue. Dwyden seemed to eat only when the fancy struck him; and, indeed, he'd told Arno not long after they had met that, for elves, food was simply a form of entertainment -- not a necessity. Brother Malcom, on the other hand was no elf. Though the monk had displayed little appetite in the weeks since Arno had met him, he was visibly losing weight. He was a tall man, and thickly built; but he'd be a skeleton soon enough if he went on like this. Mostly, he seemed driven by an obsession with a certain mead recipe, and continually reminded them all of its vital nature concerning recent events and the near future; yet when asked directly, he would elaborate very little, and that only in metaphor. The others either took this all on face value, or they understood things that he, Arno, did not. The fact that the rest of the group was composed of old friends and adventuring companions of Brother Malcom's seemed to indicate the latter.

At any rate, Arno's mother (may the merciful Powers look after her soul) had always said that important work made everything else a person did important too, and that surely included little details like breakfast. An empty stomach was as sure a killer to a warrior as a sword point.

"So what put ye on the road with Malcom, youngster?" Kryvak asked, apropos of nothing, as he began the laborious daily process of grooming his forested whiskers. (Arno, who had never met a dwarf before Kryvak, had always heard that such creatures were dirty, hairy, and happily unwashed -- but the flesh and blood truth had been quite far from the fearful, ignorant tales of human farmers. Arno felt most unhappily unwashed next to the short -- yes -- but massively stocky and barrel-chested fellow who ritually displayed the fastidiousness of a cat.)

"I...I'm not sure, really...I guess I still haven't thought it through," the young spearman responded with an embarrassed shrug, slicing a potato into the small kettle that served as their sole cooking vessel.

"For creatures with so little natural time allowed to 'em on this earth," the dwarf countered as he re-braided a strand of his beard, "I'd think ye humans'd spend more of it doin', and less of it thinkin'. I'll tell ye why ye went with him, boy -- because ye chose to. No man nor dwarf -- dead, born, or yet t' be -- need ever have a better reason than that! 'Course, if you were a proper dwarf I could say that Moradin was a-guidin' yer hand in this -- but you were born unlucky enough to be a human, Arno boy, and that's about as sad a fate as I can imagine from the very start. I can offer ye no other words o' comfort than that."

The dwarf then continued his grooming in silence.

"Um...thanks," Arno said blankly, "I think."

Miriam
04-19-2005, 11:09 AM
Then his eyes brightened as footsteps were heard coming through the woods close to their camp ground; heavy footsteps, as of people carrying a load, accompanied by lighthearted Elvish whistling.

"Here come Dwyden, Ghilad, and Bregor with breakfast!" Arno shouted jubilantly.

"You betcha", said the gritty, old-man's voice of Ghildad, "we brought down hares, quail, and a young doe." Lowering his voice and looking around, he added, "Better not let Nimue see the deer, she'll give us hell for killing it."

"Now Arno, "Ghilad continued as the trio put their burdens down on the ground, "roast the quail right now before we eat them raw: we're dying of hunger. That is at least Bregor and I are; you never know about Dwyden. We will butcher the deer and salt it down for our journey. The hares, cook after breakfast with sage and onions and potatoes, that'll keep us going till tomorrow morning. Now give us a draught of young mead, we deserve that and much more for our morning's work."

"Talk you less, and pluck quail feathers more," implored Arno. "The coals are just right for grilling quail, and see, I have managed to bake good bread in the old iron kettle."

"Mead first," said Ghilad, Bregor and Dwyden together.

Soon a savory odor of roasting fowl drifted through the campsite. Even Brother Malcolm stuck his head out of the wagon window to sniff appreciatively. Rubbing hands, all the comrades gathered and sat down together on tree logs arranged around the cooking fire as seats. Bread trenchers served as rustic plates that soaked up the delicious juices of the roast birds and were themselves eaten when all the meat was gone. Early strawberries, gathered by Arno soon after dawn and drizzled with a little of their precious honey, rounded out breakfast.

The men, dwarf, and even the elf sighed with satisfaction and then stood up. Kryvak, who had laid his sword aside close to hand while eating, buckled it onto his belt again, looked around, and announced:

"Right, we'll deal with those hares and then break camp. No time to lose; we must find the honey of the jasmine-loving bees today, for as Brother Malcolm keeps reminding us, tomorrow we have many meetings to attend."

Malcolm's eyes darkened. Many meetings indeed, and much depending on his ability to brew the most fragrant, ensorcelled jasmine mead. Loquin help all of them!