Thursday, August 12, 2010

Marou and The Big Bitch

And so it was that I, Marou the Very Terse (the "very" part I added myself, "Terse" being a beloved nickname the people have bestowed upon My Self) was called upon to investigate TrollRock outpost, the furthest and least watched sphere of our great empire. Scoffers will scoff and underestimate the magnitude of this task but this comes from their prejudices and not from a genteel understanding of the real life facts surrounding the situation. People really should not arrive at a conclusion before they themselves see what they are talking about! I hate assumptions! True, decades before my quest began, I too had many a chuckle in a tavern amongst knight and bureaucrat, the dedicated and the less so, all expressing a wistful desire's wish to be reassigned to such a remote location.

Deeply beneath the joviality, there was something left handed, something sinister surrounding TrollRock outpost. To say there was evil there would be irregardlessly redundant for the outpost had famously defended the larger, main body of Re-Chord Empire, our beloved home many a time on numerous occasions. Very few assigned to work there returned and those who did were irreversibly changed with radically extreme attitudes and different ways of thinking.

Fresh from discovering and making contact with another race of intelligent blue lizard-men (these ones had frills on their ankles, a stark difference never before witnessed in Lower Continent blue lizardmen) From this accomplishment, had made quite a name for myself in round adventuring circles and social networks.

I am (or I started out as) a Druid. I am not into your face about it, no, I enjoy plenty a holiday vacation into cities and urban environments of dense population concentration, ethnic and species diversity, and huge stark differences in technology depending on location, local laws, and available resources. Our world is so large that the city and the forest can co-exist. There is plenty of room for both. If not, we can always create pocket dimensions for blocks and buildings that scrape the sky. Nature, in all its beauty is wonderful and complex, containing thousands maybe even millions of years of history, equilibrium, and balance. But a couple of Wizards on a good day, or a pack of pixies, or even some of the Druid greats like "Barking Tree Feather", or "Gulch, {the sound a wet tree makes when it falls into a 100% naturally occurring hole}" could raise up more or less the same thing if you gave them like a week or around 7 days. I have not hit that level yet and I have all the time in a heat filled universe to get there if I don't get myself killed (like most people do and will) before then, so I took up a little bit of Rangering.

I took to spending many a day with my hands on a long taut bow trying to penetrate stationary and later moving targets with my wood. There is something cathartically satisfying about it but I just cannot seem to articulate that into words. Not only that, but this allows me to adventure on my own and share the bounty with no one but myself and inevitably the merchants I will exchange (after converting into some sort of recognized currency unless they accept only bartering) it for goods, services, and services involving goods.

So the good, kind, wise, just king sent me on My Self way to investigate. He claimed my unique character and perspective will provide me with an immunity to TrollRock's ways changing ways. He promised My Self an advance upon My return and I'm not sure that's how its supposed to work but he is the King after all. There is no way he could have such authority unless he was supposed to. I mounted and then climbed on top and rode my faithful, trusty, reliable, steed, Trans-Po and galloped (with occasional bouts of trotting) to TrollRock. Marou the Very Terse was off to adventure once again!

I was not experienced enough to ride the wind or sink into the ground itself for fast travel but I had a few tricks that extended the durability of my magic horse. Every 6 hours or so I would shrink it down to the size of a fly. I would then use more magics to refresh its spirit, renew its lost calories, and remove any lactic acid buildup hindering the movement of its muscles in conjunction with its bones and ligaments. You know the natural way. A well rested horse means a well rested rider which is exactly what I needed to be.

After twilight and before sunrise I saw him. I was practicing drawing my shaft when I spotted him from my hat mounted vision-lens. There he was, a goblin, or maybe just a midget orc, it can be hard to tell sometimes. He was just kind of standing around. No doubt he was thinking of villages to raid or dirty, stupid, awful, intolerant goblin stuff to do. I lined him up in my sights, to snipe him dead alone. Acknowledged by none other in his last moments but his killer. Me.

I thought for a moment as my view focus close up to his face, spotting his pores and constant, uncontrollable micro-expressions,. Maybe he is one of the good ones, an exception. I started feeling for him. At the moment, he was just whistling as he walked through the dew. No doubt he was on his way to doing something bad or leaving the location of a vile deed, but at the moment, the very moment I saw him then, alive, he was harming no one. I flirted with sparing him as I let go of the string. It was too hard to resist feathering him, and right between the eyes too! Sweet! I do love headshots.

I was on the cusp of having just enough experience in the Ranger arts that I could take it to whole other level (like I had done previously and will continue to do so about 15 or slightly more times). As soon as he drew his last breath I felt it, the knowledge and the wisdom well up inside of me all at once. As I took a moment to process and organize this quickening I suddenly grasped a few other concepts and muscle memory routines to make me all around better in other Ranger ways not just directly related to the bow (but including and additionally too) . There was a slight pain in my chest as I felt a small but perceivable part of me leave. Something good and important had diminished within My Self. I made a note to make up for this (possible mind you) unprovoked act of goburder with a few random acts of obvious, nuance free positivity which I by now no doubt had hardily accumulated once I completed that particular quest. As I learn more about this world, our home, and the people (and slightly less) who inhabit it, I discover more and more instances of once acceptable forms genocide backfiring, even harming the good Hero's soul.

I took an extra day to relax, polish my dagger, tighten my string, sharpen my pole, clean my sack, and even to indulge myself a little. You do not want to walk into a dangerous situation with sex on the mind. It's distracting. Sometimes the foul but pleasing to the eyes villainsesses adorn themselves, lightly, loosely, in garments that are very distracting. When fellow champions of justice do the same it can lead to embarrassing situations, non-professional conduct in a professional (but non-conventional) environment, and starring on my part. Sorry ladies of valor. There is nary a spell for wondering eyes that tend to hover around cleavage. It takes a strength of character that comes less from adventuring and more from just becoming more mature and less creepy. This is a virtue I find little time to nurture when I am usually and mostly bouncing from dungeon, to cave, to tower, to town, and back again. It is all too a deeply profound way to live.

My equipment was primed, my body rested, my mind filled with spells because that's how they worked, somehow. I would later start looking at magic through the point system, it's much more convenient and flexible for your modern magic user. The idea of memorizing a spell multiple times and forgetting it after casting it while still having reserves of memory is pure fantasy. That fact that it still works for some is besides the point. I tethered Trans-Po with a rope attached to a large object he could not move despite his supernaturally augmented abilities that were already quite impressive without such fantastical modification in order to guarantee he would be there upon my return. Whoops.

Legend foretold and spoke of the current leader assigned to TrollRock outpost. The Terrible Big Bitch. Re-Chord is a progressive, forward thinking empire yet we are well within reason and a sense so everyday it is apparent amongst the commoners. It is rare to see a female in charge of such a dangerous, remote, far flung frontier. She kept the kingdom safe and the border secure since her placement there decades ago but she was infamous and negatively famous for her methods. She was well known for her terrible wraith and mighty rages.

I hiked up the narrow path. The mountains to My Self, nothing but a forest at an angle with less trees and more rocks. I knew I was close because the clouds gathered and the sky darkened which is something it tends to do when big, important, and interesting things (the kind worth a story) happen.

The first thing I, saw, in the distance was... a smith. A smith of... some sort. Meh. I never really bothered to learn which kind does or makes what. I just usually go by the picture outside their shopE (which is the proper way to spell it, I do not care how long you have been working) unless it says something completely different or needlessly, pointlessly, without meaningfullyness, ironic. It's so pretentious; I hate it when people try to come off as more sophisticated than they really are. Its really just a sign of insecurity.

"Hail, smith of wares. I am Marou, the Very Terse. I bestow upon thee a greetings of salutation"

He smiled a simple smile and gave a simple, basic answer.

"Hi Marou, my name is Peol"

Despite his abrupt, informal salutation, I sensed a kind, simple soul and shook his hand with my own. I felt sweat and common grease patter my palm. It took My Self about 7 years to do it, but I resisted my urge to instinctively wipe my hand immediately in front of him. I turned around first.

"What brings you to TrollRock Outpost?"

"I have come to speak with the commander, your commander, the commander of this outpost, though on an academic, chain of command, and situational level I could fulfill this function wonderfully. It is a rare, uncommon thing indeed for such a thing to be left in the care of a woman, heh. So as you can see, she must be given guidance periodically in regular, multiple, numerous, intervals"

"I see"

He looked around, nervously pensive and I wonder if he did really see? It was as if he was worriedly concerned that my words would endanger us into a perilous situation of clear identifiable threat.

"The Good King has sent me to investigate her. The Big Bitch"

His eyes widened. Or maybe the iris shifted a little bit. It's hard to tell but what was apparent was shock on his part. I can read people very well even when its subtle body language like this.

"The Big Boss. The Big Boss! That's what we call her. Or 'Miss' Some of my elders have earned the right to call her "Estrella" which I think used to be her name. Back when she first started here a few decades ago. I think I've been here long enough to call her that but I'm going to wait an extra year to play it safe"

I could see that I could not get an honestly objective account of her skill based competence from "chuckles" over here. So I extended my hand once again to meet his in a shake and I moved on, proceeding forward.

As I walked his voice trailed off, a last minute appeal. "She does a fine job. Aye, she's tough, but she is fair. Most commanders are just the former". He called out a parting word. A pathetic plea to the prideful vanity of his femthority figure of position.

I continued to continue. The air grew cold, harsh, and biting as I ascended upwards. There were these little huts where the employee's families lived. A wise man would have kept such weak links like husbands, wives, children, and loved ones far away for they are weak links in a solid chain of defense. It is better to allow the workers infrequent but large chunks of time with them for the annual or bi-annual break. Here it seemed to be the opposite with the guards, archers, wizards, smiths, and cooks working in shorter shifts. This would give them frequent, daily, but shorter breaks for their time off.

I spotted a fair maiden in the distance. She was casting spells upon a large square of crops divided into four sections. They were harvested and later rotated to enrich the soil. She was completely focused on her task. Her face, pleasing to the eye, her figure, the same but more.

"Hail and greetings fair maiden"

She turned to me, surprised.

"¡ßѧ! what?"

A corrupted, malformed spell screeched towards me. I recognized what it was going to be and let it hit my arm. A patch of grass replaced the hair once on it. It made My Self feel calm and a whole lot less hungry. It spread to the other arm too, over time. I still have it and its kind of nifty and I do not know if I want to have it disenchanted.

"I'm sorry, are you alright?"

"Yes, for I knew your spell would prove harmless and incapable of doing damage"

She wrinkled her brow. It was cute and endearing. No doubt this would be the only wrinkle she would allow with her vain magics.

"If you give me the chance, good sir, I can prove to you not all of my spells are harmless"

"Of course"

"I can tell by the small patch on your arm that you are an investigator for Rec-Chord"

"Observant and beautiful, you are quite the commodity"

She gave me a most unladylike sneer.

"Well, good sir, I can tell you, Miss Estrella, you may know her by the unfortunate and unfair title..."

"The Big Bitch! Yes, I am quite informed, thank you!"

"Shhhhhh, keep your voice down. Please call her Estrella, if you insist"

"I do I do insist on not calling her Estrella!"

"Estrella is tough but the fairest commander I have ever had"

"So she is as lovely as you?"

"I meant fair as in just, wise, evenhanded, competent, that sort of thing. I'd hate to go on for no reason. It really should not matter what she looks like. I have never seen her when she's not working but I hear on her off time she's quite pleasant. She's never not working though"

I could see this one was biased as well. Probably even more than the simple smith for there is an insidious feminine brotherhood of sisters who cover and accommodate one another to make up for their obvious womanly deficiencies.

Like the simple smith before her she called out to me with her voice speaking words as I continued on my way.

"You know, being highly pleasing to the eye of those who's nethers are too close to their hearts is not always a good thing. Maybe if I just wanted to bounce around, giggle, pose, and be gawked at for millenniums things would be easy but that's not me. I wanted to work, I wanted to be good at something and often it seems like you can't be beautiful and competent too"

I cared little for what she had to say but I record this for the sake of this yarn. I'm sure it bores you too. I was fairly far away but her voice carried, augmented by witchcraft like, no doubt, her visage. Not that I minded, in fact I prefer it in general and encourage all females of acceptable intelligence to enhance themselves visually. Why wouldn't they? Its great.

"I thought it was just the males who would dismiss a comely witch of prowess but the females do it too. They are even worse! Maybe its jealously or some other base absorption of the toxic folly around them. A self defense mechanism that attacks the innocents around her! But nay, not Estrella. She's tough and she's fair. That would be okay with the scoffing public if she were a heeeeeeeee!!!"

Of course for that is the proper role in the grand scheme of things. The big picture, the subconscious narrative, a tried and true trope. A theme for thought, if you will possibly consider this fancy into your mind's brain.

"eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

She had overestimated how long she needed to extend the sound and it accompanied my ears for maybe half of a whole, complete hour encompassing a rough estimatude of 30 different sequential minutes. Including the seconds too.

"eeeeeeeeee"

Wench, please! Enough. Does not one and all of us together collectively as one even though we are many detest unnecessary, repetitive, redundancy? That was my name of nicks given to me when I was a wee lad barely over a century in the highest of schools. Not the most advanced but the last level of that particular part of publicly provided by the state common education. Alas, that is my biggest, deepest, largest, most personally profound weakness in my life. True, my family could afford to send me to a private one but I did not have the "aptitude" at the time. I am a late bloomer, if you will, and such a turn of phrases of words into a meaning beyond their specific, literal combination of subject, verb, and noun, is always quite the hilarious tickler of ribs to Druids and Rangers like myself (or double self) and if you give me time I will turn out alright. It was also an accurate statement of truthfulness in accordance with facts that exist that I attend a Kollege of Druidery that was very exclusive and more importantly, expensive. Not to me personally from my own account of currency, property, and contacts but the parents in my family that I came from.

Come to think of it, did I not have an instructor with a name like Estrella back when I was a wee lad?

"eee...."

And so did I come to the actual border, where the empire's land did truely end at this specific spot, right here, or there, because I am not longer "here" with "here" meaning "there" as in the end of TrollRock outpost the one specific most important part that is guarded by the Big Bitch and her crew of brainwashed sycophants. I saw him standing there. Tall, mighty, muscled, thick, and Barbaric. I mean I found him quite rational and lucid but clearly this was a Barbarian of a very advanced level. They say the human who chooses not to extend his years makes the best Barbarian. The dedicated hitting their peak and holding onto it for longer than you'd think. Being neither of those I never found much appeal in that class (in the loosest term, no doubt, huzzah!) of adventuring.

"Hail.."

"Stop right there".

His voice was loud and bold, like it would be the sort of thing you express into written words with extra ink.

"I know why you are here and I will allow you to fulfill your duty because we are all loyal children of the Empire"

"Many thanks, I see you are one of the good ones, all too rar..."

"Shut your mouth of fornication and listen, squishy wizard..."

"Druid with a lot of experience in Rangerin..."

He growled and it felt like a slap across the face. My face. The face that tells you the story you are listening to unfold sequential with the occasional colorful and necessary interruption to provide flavor and content. You know! His voice somehow was so strong that he could in bursts simulate a percussive attack from a distance.

" You will soon have experience with my axe if you do not allow me to finish my thought"

I stiffed a giggle when me mentioned the concept of cognition.

"I here, Hudson Rock, the Barbarian, am telling you Estie is the best boss anyone could have. I, someone as uncommon as myself too scoffed like a scoffer at the idea of working for a woman. But she is tough and she is fair. I'd say she is just as tough as she is fair. Its a perfect combination. She doesn't just tell you what to do, she works with you. Sometimes literally working with you"


Clearly the female has no concept of delegation.

"She could do this job all by herself and at first, she did! But that's too much and she does not want to go through that Hell. She's more valuable looking at the whole operation. I get frustrated, Barbarian rage frustrated at the false idea that she can't do this job because she's a she. And it makes me madder when people give her a hard time for doing it so well. Why she's the only boss I ever had who could look past my buggery and judge me based on my work...."

He trailed on and on, looking fairly sad. Right around when he started complaining about his parents I held up my hand in a false but necessary non-verbal body language provided apology of sorryitiude. He nodded and let me interject, with words that I had just thought of.

"Everyone here tells me how great she is and the empire has not been invaded. So this is working. But I still need to speak with the Big Bitch to properly review her, no matter what the results have been"

His voice cowered and shrank. The grip on his stone axe (yikes!) loosened.

"Shhh, she can hear you. Don't call her that. She hates that"

"I careth not for if the Big Bitch wishes My Self to address her properly she will stop hiding behind her underlings afford the same polite courtesy to My Sel.."

"YE FUCKING GODS I KNOW WHO THAT IS!!! I KNOW THAT VOICE AND IT BURNS MY EARS!"

"Is this a joke? Of all the idiots the Good King could send, he choose you"

"No one but 'Marou the Terse' could be this condescending and unnecessary"


All three heads laughed. One of those angry laughs. They spewed ice, fire, and lighting.


"Marou the Redundant. Really. Good. To. See..........................................................................................................
You"

"
YOU"
"You"
"YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!!"
"I heard everything you said. Every. Thing. And you say quite a lot"
"You are the same pompous little jerk as you were in High School. People like you have no sense of humor. You probably think they really mean it when they call you 'Terse'"
"BACK WHEN YOU WERE MY SHITTY LITTLE STUDENT AND FUCKING NOW TOO"
"Being better, much better granted, at casting spells and sniping one of the pretty rare innocent goblins doesn't make you a more complete person"
"It does not take your character to another level. It doesn't even make you more interesting"
"You are still an asshole! Stop being such an asshole!"

All three heads shot out their element once again. This time in a guttural rage. She pawed at the ground, grinding solid rock like it was dirt. It really hurt, burned, shocked, and froze My Self. It probably should have been fatal to my corpus bodily form but I suspect Estrella had such perfect control that she made it just as damaging as it could be without being deadly. She was huge. Like maybe the height of two elves standing on top of each other with a little extra dwarf at the peak.
All six eyes glowed. All three jaws were filled with razor sharp, pristine white fangs. They crowded her mouths. There was a spiked collar on each head. Her ears, which looked like they could be floppy in happier times, stood right up. Spiked. As in actual spikes not just straight up but they looked like another part of her gigantic monstrous form that could kill me. Just like her razor barbed tail. AND THIS WOMAN WAS A WIZARD WHEN I SAW HER SO LONG AGO, "NOW", OR AS IN "THEN", NOT "NOW" IN THE CURRENT AMOUNT OF TIME THAT WE ARE OCCUPYING BUT THE "NOW" AS IN "THEN" THAT I INSTANTLY BEGAN REMEMBERING AT THAT THEN THE "NOW" MOMENT, MY TIME WITH ESTRELLA. SOMETHING I HAD BLOCKED OUT OF MY MIND BECAUSE OF I BLOCKED OUT MOST OF HIGH SCHOOL FROM MY MIND BUT HER IN PARTICULAR BECAUSE OF HOW SCARY SHE WAS!

"Now I respect the fact you have a job to do. Ask whatever questions you need to. NOW"

"How are things going here?"

"FINE. Now get the fuck out and deliver your message, errand boy. And don't think you're fooling anyone. Everyone knows you've turned"

The last things I heard her say as she teleported me back was "You did a fine job Hudson but I do not need you defending me...."

I returned to the Good King with the truth. The border was defended by the finest person for the job, no matter what the "proper role" a sex should occupy. I had gained real experience. Not the accumulation of impressive effects that are not very useful in social situations but life experience. I resolved to be a little bit less of a bigot, day by day, for an epiphany is something that takes a little while to sink in or it will tragically pass you by. I also resolved try make great efforts to live up to my name. My real name, not the ironic one. I'm going to start getting to the point from then on. So how did I do? Be honest.

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