Apr 27, 2010

Adventures of a Young Messenger - Called by a God (Part 3)

Part 3 - Called by a God
(Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)

There was no sign of the fox for the next few days, and I began to feel disappointed and somewhat foolish. Perhaps it had just been a normal wild fox and maybe the amber had just appeared there by sheer random chance? I sincerely hoped not, but it was possible (and little did I know, I was dealing with a Trickster). On the third night, however, I found the fox sitting in the same spot waiting for me as I strolled with my retinue of stray cats and the odd squirrel. Feeling strangely happy about this, I grinned and said hello. Once again he gave me an odd stare, but this time I didn't feel uncomfortable; if anything, it felt like I was being greeted by an old friend. The fox then rose and, supplanting one of the cats, took his place at my side where he stayed for the remainder of my walk. This same thing occurred for the next few days: I'd reach that spot and the fox would be there to join me. He turned out to be an even better listener than the usual animals I met in my nocturnal travels because, while most animals would sit still while I talked to them, he actually appeared to understand. I must have shared my whole life's story with him in that short time, although what interest that was to a fox, I had no idea.

Unfortunately my birthday soon arrived, bringing with it the accustomed unusual attentiveness by my family for the next day or two while they recalled my existence. I don't remember much of what happened on that birthday, it being spent trying to avoid the usual lectures by my parents along with the added problem of being anxious to get another chance to see the fox, but I do remember Kendric's gift. Unlike the rest of my family who only ever gave me things I neither wanted nor needed (daggers, bits of armor, a sword, books on subjects that didn't interest me... I passed them all on to Ken who could use them), my brother always knew what would be appreciated and this time was no different; he had noticed that I'd begun wearing that piece of amber and had gotten me a strong gold chain for it. This he gave to me along with the cryptic comment, "Good luck". Looking back, I probably should have asked what he meant, but I think I just assumed he was giving me another warning to not let anyone else know what had been happening. It turns out, though, that Ken may have been having one of those psychic sibling moments that occasionally popped up between us.

I wasn't able to sneak out of the house again for a few nights, much to my frustration and impatience, but when I finally did, I was disappointed to find that the fox was once again not waiting for me in his usual spot. With a sigh, figuring that it must have gotten bored with waiting and wandered off somewhere else, I continued on my walk. It wasn't until I'd reached the last part of my wanderings before I'd turn to go back home that I noticed him sitting up on the small hill at the edge of the property. I almost called out to him, forgetting that yelling out would be a bad idea, when the full moon came out from behind the clouds and shone a brilliant beam of light onto the fox. Confused but curious about this sudden show of dramatics focused on an animal, I climbed the hill to investigate. At the top I noticed that, although it was the same fox, he appeared even larger and more vividly-colored than usual, and he seemed to be holding something white in his mouth. Before I could get a better look, he padded over to me and dropped what turned out to be a scroll at my feet. Grateful for the bright moonlight, I saw that it had a small winged fox emblem embossed in the wax seal and was addressed to me by name. (Even then, overwhelmed as I was, I was curious about how an animal could know that the words "Cyneric Conroy" belonged to me. Now that I'm a Messenger, I realize it's quite simple for even an unintelligent animal to carry a message, but at that moment it added to the unearthly atmosphere.)

Breaking the wax and unrolling the scroll, I saw that it read in neat, even handwriting:
"Dear Cyneric,
Congratulations! We have learned at the Woodland Mosque what you have likely deduced some time ago: you have been Called by Hermes to become one of His Messengers. I asked my four-legged friend to convey this message to you as I know that he will get this scroll to you safely. Please conclude whatever needs to be completed and set out as soon as you can. The fox has agreed to stay by your side until you arrive and I hope that he will help convince your kin that you are serious.
We hope to meet you soon,
Armand, Head Messenger- Order of the Fleet Fox, Woodland"

Flipping it over I noticed the words:
"PS. This letter will self-destruct in five seconds upon reading this sentence."

Then further down:
"Just kidding!"

After staring in befuddlement at the bizarre mixed message from this letter and wondered how whoever this "Armand" was knew what my parents' reactions would be, I looked down to see the fox gazing at me intently. Guessing that he wanted some sort of answer, I nodded. The fox nuzzled my hand affectionately and ran off, which puzzled me greatly; he seemed to like me and the note did just tell me he would stay, after all. I shrugged, figuring that he was probably just hungry, and hurried back home to show the letter to Kendric and, with his help, plan out a good way to break the news to my parents.

(Part 4 can be found here.)

Apr 23, 2010

Yay, presents!

I had two awesome, Cyneric-related surprises yesterday. One is this awesome drawing done by my friend Niere:

(Click to view it larger)
I love it so much! That's definitely Cyn- winged fox staff, smirk, and all; she portrayed him perfectly. Thanks so much, Niere! That drawing is going up on this sidebar of this blog, as soon as I can figure out where to adjust everything around.

And the other present was this necklace that my best friend and her mom (who's also a good friend) got/made for me:

A red fox on a green ribbon cord- that's so right for me! I touched up the eyes some since, as Care pointed out, they looked more like cat eyes than fox eyes, so I gave him larger pupils. I'll be wearing this around all the time, and probably get a few odd looks, but hey, I love foxes and my inner-Cyn heartily approves. Thanks, Care and Mary- I love it!

I have some really cool friends, let me tell ya. :)


Apr 21, 2010

Adventures of a Young Messenger - A Gift from a Fox (Part 2)

Part 2 - A Gift from a Fox
(Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)

A narrative telling of the events that occurred in August 689CC

It was on a warm, clear summer night shortly before my eleventh birthday when I first met the fox who was to become my companion for the short time I was barred from the outdoors. Why was I so forbidden? Because my fool of a father feared that one of his sons would become a druid, which he ranked just above musician and well under gardener, who he considered to at least be useful. You can't have a member of the aristocracy stooping so low, of course.

I had been staring into the distance at nothing, musing about how I could get away and become something other than what my family had planned for me (yes, tall thoughts for a child, but this was frequently on my mind), when shrill yipping pulled me out of my reverie. Looking around, I spotted a large fox barking at one of the stray cats that occasionally joined me on my secret walks. The poor cat looked ... well, when I later thought back to it, she looked confused rather than frightened, but my reaction was to scoop her up in my arms to put her out of reach of the much larger opponent. Shouting to the fox as loudly as I dared (not wanting to bring any notice to the fact that I was where I shouldn't be), I demanded that it go away. That sounds strange, but I've always had a way with animals and often just talking to them would get them to do what I wanted. This time, however, not only did I not scare the fox off, it sat down in the grass and stared at me with far more intelligence that I'd even seen in a wild animal. It was as if the gaze was reading me, or weighing me for something. That eerie action flustered me, and for some reason I tried to hide that fact by whispering soothing words to the cat and pretended to ignore the fox.

Time passed; it couldn't have been more than a few seconds but it felt like far longer, when suddenly, not sensing those keen eyes on me any longer, I looked up to find that the fox had vanished. He could have ran away, I suppose, but that didn't seem quite right. The cat jumped out of my arms and began sniffing where the fox had been sitting- that was when I noticed that the cat was confused, not frightened or worried. As I stood there, rather bewildered, the cat noticed something on the ground shining in the moonlight and began to paw at whatever it was. I walked over and picked it up, finding it to be a small, flat piece of amber. I held it up to the moonlight to get a better look and saw that inside was a tiny, flawless feather. I'd spent much of my life outdoors and never had I found a stone or the like to be so perfectly formed, so I stuck it in my pocket to get a better look at later. The cat seemed to approve of this action because she rubbed against my leg as I put it in my pocket, then followed me back to the house.

The next day, feeling like I should keep this treasure a secret but wanting someone's opinion, I revealed it to my brother Kendric and explained what had occurred the night before. Not knowing much (okay, nothing) about rocks or things found outdoors, he could only shrug, but added, "Cyn, that sounds uncanny. I wouldn't tell anyone else if I were you". Ken was well aware of what had happened when my family learned of me sneaking off to spend time with animals, and knew that telling them that I still did so would just get me into deeper trouble.

I began wearing the amber knotted on a length of cord tucked under my shirt where it has remained ever since, and, at the good advice of my older brother, told no one else.

(Part 3 can be found here.)

Apr 15, 2010

Adventures of a Young Messenger - The Black Sheep (Part 1)

Part 1 - The Black Sheep
(or is it "red fox"?)

(Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)

A narrative telling of the events that occurred in August 689CC

I don't often talk about my family and there's a good reason for that: I'm the black sheep. That idiom is oddly appropriate as it is animal-related, but I'll get to that later.

You would think that in a prestigious, aristocratic family, it would be a given that the youngest son would enter some sort of priesthood. In my family that was not so. Well, I suppose that it did work out to be the case, but it wasn't what my father intended, which was for all of his sons to follow in his footsteps and become warriors of some sort. His plan seemed to be working fine as my eldest brother, Osric, happily went off to serve as a page and just as enthusiastically became a knight when he reached the appropriate age, then slid gracefully into the position of landholder when our father passed the estate on to him. Next was Kendric, who, while not quite as enthusiastic as Os, managed to find his niche in the army and is now currently serving as a lieutenant at the castle town. Even our sister Bryn fit into the scheme by marrying an officer.

And then there was me. I never had any interest whatsoever in learning how to fight, which caused no end of trouble. Ken is only a year older, so we had most of our lessons at the same time, and of all my siblings he's the one I'm closest to. He didn't understand why I wanted to sneak off, but he was always up for causing some sort of distraction (okay, trouble) so I could get away from the kinds of lessons that I hated. Eventually our tutors in those subjects stopped bothering to look for me, figuring that since I was the youngest son, I would probably just end up doing something scholarly anyway. That is what I excelled at; by nine I could read anything in the (rather sparse) library and was much further advanced than either of my brothers when it came to logic, reading, and numbers.

Although not pleased by my aversion to what he deemed important, my father would likely have let this slide (my having two more important brothers to occupy his time) if it wasn't for the fact that my family eventually realized why it was that I was sneaking off from the strategic and weapons-training lessons: to spend time in the wooded areas around our land, talking to the animals. Even then, when I couldn't speak with them in words yet, they were still better company than most of the humans around me. I suppose that I was fortunate to be so ignored that no one noticed this until I was ten, which was when the second shoe subsequently dropped. After my father loudly exclaimed things along the lines of "no son of mine will be one of them druids!", I was pretty much exiled from the outdoors. Life would have been entirely boring had I obeyed, but I found a way to sneak out almost every night (with Ken's help again, of course- I could have been found talking to a tree stump or a rock, and he wouldn't have thought any less of me). After a while a large, vibrantly colored fox began joining me on my evening walks and then... well, that's a story in and of itself, so I'll tell that later. Suffice it to say that just after my eleventh birthday I was Called by Hermes.

The next day during breakfast I proudly walked up to my parents and informed them that I was now under Hermes' jurisdiction and would be entering His nearest mosque in Woodland. The looks on their faces were priceless! There was some mumbling (mostly along the lines of "Hermes? Couldn't you have picked a more stately god?" by my mother and "What's this 'jurisdiction' thing?" by my father) of course, but my parents were at least smart enough to know that getting on the wrong side of any deity (even one they deemed "working class") would be a Bad Idea and so sent me on my way.

Over the years, I've largely patched up the relationship with my family, but I doubt I'll ever be particularly close to any of them besides my one brother; Os and Bryn are nice enough people, in their own ways, but they were too much older than me to really be anything more than distant acquaintances. As an adult, the main problem is that I'm still far too different from my kin; I have no interest in the small things that they consider important and they don't understand how I can be happy with the path I took. I do have to say, however, that I appreciate the fact that Ken enjoys a good practical joke. I suppose there is always one bright part to every family, no matter how unpleasant the rest may be.

(Part 2 can be found here.)

Apr 4, 2010

Observations from outside the mines

May 17th, 708CC, 3rd day of Bleakmoon

As always, most of my narrative can be found over in this entry I just penned in our group's journal.

~I love that Ayman wanted to get in on the mischief in the halfling village; I'll have to remember that he enjoys a good practical joke- I'm sure I can use his help in the future. And speaking of mischief, who knew Linora is so afraid of fish? I always thought the ocean was full of random sea creatures, so surely she's come in contact with a live and wriggling one before? I suppose her shipmates just never pulled any pranks on her.

~I'm wondering about this amulet that's been talking to Dallas. If it really is Ayman's, we really should get rid of it as soon as possible since it does not sound like something we want near us.

~These randomly appearing and disappearing tattoos are not becoming any less disturbing. I really don't like things appearing on my skin and I'm not sure if I trust The Master. It was bad enough when we got the tattoos from Khrom-Vel; at least the dragon we know to be trustworthy!

~Speaking of dragons, I'm wondering which one that was we saw take out that army of strange creatures? It seemed to be on "our" side, but the enemy of our enemy doesn't necessarily make it our friend. I hope there are no more of those creatures, or if there are, my message gets to Logging Town (and noticed) in time for them to have fair warning. I wonder if those creatures had anything to do with the mines?

~And on the subject of the mines, I am so frustrated at my friends! Why, in the name of Hermes, would you run into a battle after the warning alarm has been sounded, when you know there are a lot of monsters in the area? Getting rid of them is all well and good, but not with that much risk! When a plan goes that belly-up, you should fall back and make a new one, not blindly go running into danger. I am glad SwampFox didn't go charging into that unnecessary fray; the group may have needed him to guard their backs as they limped away. It wouldn't surprise me if everyone is angry at me for not helping, but I am no fighter and had no fighting spells ready since I had been granted ones for our sneaky plan, not for a battle (not that my magic is particularly offensive to begin with...). Although, now that I think about it, what would have been useful would have been a lasso-type spell, so I could have dragged them from that insanity. And for that matter, it's one thing to go running into danger to rescue your friends from being kidnapped or from something not of their own doing; it's quite another to put yourself into a dire situation because of their own stupidity. Had the fighting gone on longer and things gotten much worse, though, I would have ran back (and sent a message ahead) to Logging Town to find some help in rescuing them. As it is, we're now short another druid...