Friday, May 27, 2011

Fantasy and D&D

I think these two things go hand-in-hand for me. Being the geek that I am, a good game of D&D is close to my heart. Perhaps that game is what draws me to the genre, who can say.

Along those lines, often I shed light (here and there) on my D&D world--one I have not exposed to players (yet); and I thought it might be fun for you (if you care) to see the kinds of things that exist in this world I have made. Below, you will find the introduction of Gnoh, a Beos--which is like a minotaur, but larger, beefier, shaggier, and more bison-like. Take a look, and if you like, or don't, feel free to comment. Enjoy.

There was a blanket of thick, wet, snow on the rolling hills that ran up from the plains to the base of the great mountains. Around the rocks, and between the powerfully large fir trees, white death flowed like lava when the avalanche came weeks ago, obscuring everything and destroying all in its path. The cold had not abated yet, even this late in the year. Spring had come, but this place was too far north for the snow to recede much further, and it was not a typical winter that had just passed: strong winds, devastating cold with storms that battered man and beast alike for days on end--it was as if there was a wicked, frozen hand at play, making dismal ice its plaything, torturing the living with unending, unyielding, agony forged from frost.

But now, in the sun, those terrible nights seemed remote, though they were only weeks since past. The sun shone bright like a thousand torches; its glittering rays flooded the air, and bounced playfully off rock, snow, and tree. It was a beautiful sight, nature displaying in all its wonder, arrayed like never before. Each spring day was like the world renewed; and the sunbeams were the first witnesses of each new garment of life.

In a runway from the mountain, in a clear path where few glacial stones remained, and even fewer trees would grow, clearly standing he could be seen in the mid-day sun. He was called Gnoh--a Beos. His impressive size and bulk, nearly eight feet tall, was hunched over one of his fallen kinsmen. In fact the body was that of his sister, who had been slain only a few moments ago by things unseen and unknown.

Beos are, as some have said, like a Minotaur, but much larger, bulkier, and wooly. With impressive strength and resistance, they ignore the cold air, ice, and snow with which their native home mountains rage; yet they migrate like wild herds to green pastures in the South when winter comes, returning only when Spring compels them to head North--to where cooler winds may still blow. They are peaceful unless provoked, steadfast in friendship, yet slow to befriend; untamable in might, yet serene in nature--preferring the wilds of the land to the streets of the cities that men build.

He stood there on sandaled feet that sank deep into the snow from his massive weight. Wearing only a knitted-wool kilt of red and blue that was edged in gray, he shrugged off the freezing temperature that would slay any other beast. Powerful breaths from equally strong lungs filled the air with white mist that quickly blew away in the breeze. His deep chestnut fur ruffled in the wind, yet did not allow cold to reach his skin that remained completely hidden beneath. With one hand, he checked her body and found no life. There was blood upon her, and her eyes were open in fright, capturing the last images of what it was that slew her. With the other, he held what appeared to be the very end of a large, thick, ornately carved walking stick, the bottom of which was buried nearly two feet into the snow near where his sister lay. Yet it was no normal rod of wood, for an eerie purple glow could be seen coming from the snow where the bottom of this monstrous rod must surely rest.

But he paid the glow no heed, for he knew it well, as it had been with him for many summers. His weapon, though no source of pride, was sturdy and cruel: a maul of iron, with a great, broad head that was emblazoned with runes and enchantments. This was a fell hammer--imbued with hatred and evil; but no evil being was he, for the Beos do not see good or evil, rather they see usefulness or waste, and this hammer, called "Soulshaker," had use even if men might call it evil.

He let the handle slip from his thick, strong, fingers, and it slowly slumped to the ground, becoming fully hidden in the white, cold, wet snow beside his dead sister. Four arrows protruded from her hide. Long and slender, with black shafts of ebony and adorned with black feather fletching. This was the sign of Men--Humans had come to the range of the Beos, as they had many times in the past; but this time it appeared they had came hunting.

Gnoh bellowed in grief over his sister, "No!..."

Sinking to his knees, he reached for her with both hands, leaving his weapon where it lay, he held her close, and pawed at her face he hoped there might be a hope of life. Weeping, he caressed her cheek, and howled lowly, mournfully, and he rocked her in his arms as if she was but an injured child and he the parent. Great wells of tears could not be held back by the dams of his eyes, and water flowed down his face to his broad chest.

Animals mourn, as do all intelligent beings such as him. But for all his sadness, he could not deny nature its pull; as he held her body, it became cold as the warmth of life faded away like a distant memory. Memories of childhood running together on the open plain, wind rifling through their fur: gone. Remembrances of gathered meals, full of family and friends: lost. Days and nights around the campfire with the shaman, hearing tales of faraway places that exist not only beyond the realm of their graze-lands, but as if magical, mystical, and unreal places of escape all at the same time--stories told and heard faded into the abyss of darkness and death with her passing.

All these past days were forever gone when her spirit, like the mist from his mouth, floated away on the wind as it swept down from the treacherous peaks. With her spirit fleeing, he let loose the traditional death-wail of his kind--and it echoed through the mountain chasms, across the rolling hills, and through the trees--silenced only by the howls of the wind with which it merged and became lost.

Yet through in his despair and sorrow, he was mindful that he was exposed, and he kept guard even as the tears from his heart chilled and froze upon his chest. So it was no surprise for him when a human stepped out into the clearing perhaps only fifty yards away...

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