Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Tale of Grandfather Carru

This is a tale I came up with years and years ago while playing ArmageddonMUD. This isn't the original. This is the thrice-forgotten and four-times re-created version.

I did a spoken word of it a while back, but have no idea where that ended up.


This is the story of Mocks-The-Void. A story more ancient, my daughter, than even I, older than any city you have ever looked upon. The sun above is indeed not the same as the one who looks upon this day. It has had three sons born and die since this story was an experience, and with the telling of it I impart to you knowledge of the power in your blood. This tale is one that any Sun Runner can live, for greatness is not so much the air we breathe, but the blood running through our hearts.

Back when nothing you know was as it is now, Mocks the Void ran. Hunting in his lands was never scarce, for the animals were great, and plentiful, as were the trees and the grasses. As such, he never had a true need to gather for his tribe. His was a hunt for sport, so far he ran in search of it, over the small purple hills to the west which lay nested in water, past the southern silt shoals and the fledgeling villages which squatted and sprawled, pregnant with dwarves. Up over the wide plains he ran, almost stepping on the jozhal and bringing such anger to them at not being noticed that they banded together and grew in to the first raptor pack. Through his favorite overgrown game trail he ran, the twisting length taking him ever onward, describing with each footfall a place where finally one of the bricks of North Road would be lain. Turning, he leapt and raced over the broken red stones of a small mountain, his mind dwelling on how nice it would be to not have to go over, but through such a thing. After many more steps, he came upon Ahtkadda, the tree he had planted as a child from a razor thin seed he had found on the southern beaches. Ahtkadda, the King of Plants.

Around Ahtkadda's base grew a jumble of twisting brambles, a thing new to his eyes since the last time he had visited. The thorns of the brambles rustled a warning, and Mocks The Void knelt, studying such a curious thing. His interest piqued, Mocks the Void asked Ahtkadda in the sacred tongue what was this odd thing, and Ahtkadda insured my ancient relative that all was well. Unknown creatures, large of tooth and claw, eyes jutting up on stalks, had taken up residence in a nearby den, and The King of Plants did not wish to give his fruit unwillingly. Before running on, water was spilt in offering to the guardian, and to Ahtkadda himself, and many warm words were said between the two friends.

Racing southward, ever on in his hunt, the feet so old found a large hole. Within it dwelt a long, low, black lizard, who gazed up pleadingly, begging to be helped out of the pit before her eggs were birthed. Mocks the Void, who did not have time to slow, explained to the lizard that this place would be a perfect place for her children to grow up. There were plentiful plants in the pit, bits of mushroom growing in the dark, and insects rustling about for them to hunt and eat. The only thing it lacked, he thought, was more shade and some trees. He insured her that, in time, a side of the pit would fall, giving freedom to her children to roam back on to the plains and be plentiful.

As he ran on, he noticed pit after pit within the ground, all alike in shape. Climbing a nearby spire of red stone he gazed down, eyes widening as he recognized the tracks which were clear from above. Deep as two men standing foot to shoulder, with tips like the pincers of a scrab, the tracks led across the entirety of the eastern grasses, leading up to the massive, mountainlike form that grazed in the distance. His feet as sure as any durrit, Mocks The Void turned and ran directly down the side of the spire, hitting the ground at a full sprint.

A diamond tipped arrow split the light from the sun as it was hauled free of the quiver and nocked loosely within the grasp of the ornate bone and ruby bow. As swift as the wind and as silent as a shadow, Mocks the Void covered the ground towards Grandfather Carru. The first of his mighty people, Grandfather Carru had antlers so high, and so sharp, that they ripped holes in the curtain of the sky, some of which you can still see on clear nights. His ancient hide was as thick as a baobab tree, and toughened by innumerable scars, some of which still surrounded the aged weaponry of thousands of hunters who had come before.

Slinking up, as silent as the sun, Mocks the Void watched in awe as old Grandfather Carru grazed on boulders with his mighty, sharp teeth, taking them up between his powerful jaws and devouring them with thunderous crunching. Standing in shock, Mocks the Void watched as the very rockblood seeped from that boulder, sliding down that massive throat with a quick twist of the neck and a toss of the horns.

Mocks the Void was brave, braver than any who have had a heartbeat, but fear was not what stayed his hand. It was wisdom, and cunning, that kept him steady. Settling into the crag of a short cliff, Mocks the Void hunkered down, his pet gyspy wasp ready to bite him whenever he began to doze. Playing games in his head, Mocks the Void waited, singing the old songs, keeping himself alert, day after day, as he waited.

And waited. And waited. And waited.

After the fourth week, old Grandfather Carru put his head down and stayed still. Thunder rose from that nose, which was big enough for an elf to run through, and Mocks the Void knew from this that he slept. Creeping on silent feet, Mocks the Void selected from his deep quiver his finest diamond tipped arrow which had been hewn from one of the few steelbloom trees still alive. Feathers so black that they bled darkness into the air trailed gloom as they touched his dragon-gut bowstring, which quickly grew taught. His steel archery brace gleaming, Mocks the Void hauled back on his fletch, taking a trio of breaths before steadying himself as the stone alone is still.

Severing the life from the very wind it cut through, the arrow flashed, trailing light and darkness as it flew swift towards the heart of Grandfather Carru. Disappearing so deep within that even the eldritch blackness of the fletching was not visible, the arrow struck true.

And Grandfather Carru continued to snore, for his hide was too tough for even Mocks the Void's arrows, which had killed salt worms at two hundred paces.

So Mocks the Void crept away and found the King of Plants who was still verdant and now surrounded by several young saplings which were all interspersed in his thorny grove. Beseeching the King of Plants, Mocks the Void explained his state, and called upon the favors of the King's youth, before he had found such pleasant soil, and had gained such a true friend as Mocks the Void. In return for the gifts and deeds done unto him, the King returned to Mocks the Void a single seed so sharp and so vicious that it could pierce even old Grandfather Carru's mighty hide. Not wishing to take from the King a branch as well, Mocks the Void asked if there was a single tree that the King would like to see fall, and he was given the name of the foul southern blackwood known as Skyswallow. Two weeks later, after a mighty fray, the ancient, twisted thing of black wood fell with a mighty crash to the axe of Mocks the Void, and a perfect branch was taken. Another week, as Grandfather Carru slept, and the shaft was finished. Feathers from the last fire verrin fletched it, and Mocks the Void was ready.

Arrow in hand, Mocks the Void found his perch high upon the top of the low cliff he had hunkered in a handful of weeks ago. Staring into the face of Grandfather Carru, wanting to see the expression on the old beast when he awoke to his own doom, Mocks the Void readied his arrow. As silently as a quirri, he breathed in, and out, and in, and out, and in, and held it.

No more than thirty cords distant, his fingers flexed on the nock and string, Mocks the Void tried to deny reality as Grandfather Carru's left eye cracked open, followed then by his right.

Now my father's mother's father, and my fathers' mother come into disagreement on this bit, but my father's mother swears on my fathers' mother's grandfather's bones that Grandfather Carru winked.

And my father's mother's father, he says Grandfather Carru, well, he just lowered his head and charged, his foot plowing up the rocks and sending them rolling clear to the east, forming the grand cliffs we now know on the eastern side of the grasslands.

Mocks the Void was brave, if at this point a bit foolish, and he let his arrow fly steady and true right between old Grandfather Carru's antlers where it buried itself. Now as you know, when you shoot, your feet are still, and still means you do not run.

They say that Mocks the Void was hit so hard he flew halfway across the known world before he went into the After, and that they found his rantarri hide boots in the far valley of Xytrix Za about four years later.

But that arrow was in Grandfather Carru's forehead, and it took him two full weeks to realize he was dead as he plowed up the area, ripping stone from the ground in a hunting rage, for he had not yet noticed that Mocks the Void was no more. During the first days, a tiny sprout grew from the wound which quickly grew to vines covered in black thorns. The vines wrapped around the head and antlers of old Grandfather Carru, the thorns digging into his eyes as they grew downward, slowly flowing around the neck, clambering into the nostrils, and fighting into his lips.

When finally Grandfather Carru fell, the crash was so great that it threw up the stones to the south, rupturing from the ground as happens when one slaps water, and causing a great upheaval. The rowdy young boulders that were so suddenly put from the homes they had known became what we now know as the Shield Wall and have stood forever proud of whence they came. The cousins and brothers and sisters of Mocks the Void were watching as this happened, and when the ground calmed, they came to claim the bounty. More than even they could carry, they shared much with the King of Plants and his people, feeding the ground with the blood of Grandfather Carru, for though the vines and thorns continued to grow around the carcass, there was always a clear path for a Sun Runner to stride. The elven brothers of Mocks the Void grew plentiful and rich, and the King of Plants had many, many children for his family, which he began to call a forest.

No carru has ever forgotten this, and this is why carru, to this very day, continue to hunt anything that runs on two legs. This is why a carru, when you meet it, has only murder and rage in its eyes, though when you see it before it sees you, it seems calm and almost pleasant.

This is one of the stories of your blood, Shatuka, my daughter. This is how great you can be.

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