[Lore] Week 227: Tales of Terminus

Bat Cthulhu

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Jun 18, 2009
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I sat at a table by myself, as was my preference. The bar was not empty, but it was no where close to crowded. The usual mix of regulars with a few first timers sprinkled in. I enjoyed the background noise. Such sounds of joy and fun, the voices of stories finished and stories left to unfold. It got the creative juices flowing.

The book in front of me, similarly, was closer to empty than full. Blank page after blank page stared back at me, seemingly finding some delight in the manner at which they could torment me. They seemed to taunt me and dismiss me. They ignored the heaps of pages already created and focused on the hauntingly high number of pages left unwritten. I wished, not for the first time, that I could order a stiff drink. Some ‘liquid courage’ many called it. Alas, I was too young, a fact that the barkeep had reminded me about many times before, usually while also mentioning how much trouble I could get them in and how I should run home to my mother. It was our ‘thing,’ I guess.

My table shook slightly, pulling me out of my inner monologue, if it could be called such. A woman had sat her food down at my table. Without a word or request. Her body followed suit, sitting down across from me with only a smile to tell me that I was, in fact, a being and not some statue.

I requested information from her. Why this table? Were there not other tables? I was confused, understandably so. Her response was to laugh and tell me the absurdity that was myself. A boy, no older than twelve, sitting in a bar alone with a book almost as large as I was. It demanded an investigation, she had proclaimed.

I told her the truth. It was simple enough, really. I was a writer, and this place was where my dad used to write. It was his “muse” as he said. And also I made sure she knew I was thirteen, thank you very much! I even strove to write the same topics he did. The legends that strode this world! The people that lived in it! The individuals that made what we called Araevis, no matter what creature that they happened to be.

What she said next… triggered something within me. I am still not sure what. I could just feel my eyes growing heated, like small little suns inside of me. My mouth started moving. Was it my doing, or someone pulling the strings from outside of reality? I am still not sure. I only know that I could not help but obey the woman.


“Writers tell stories, don’t they?” Her voice was hypnotic. “Tell me a story, then. Tell me a story of Nostrum, the Wanderer.”
 

Bat Cthulhu

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Jun 18, 2009
696
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The Tale of Nostrum

In a time long ago, there was a man. He was tall and he was strong. He was simple, but he was determined. They called him Pistos, for he had never abandoned anyone, and he prayed to the Vis every night and before every meal.

They called him Pistos, for he was faithful.

Pistos started every day the same. An hour of prayer followed by an hour of physical training before breakfast. After that, he would start his day in the forge, creating swords and shields for the local army. Each day, he could make ten swords and ten shields working by himself, and he always did.

The heat from his forge was great. So great that only he could stand to be around it for any length of time. It was always this hot, so he said, because this will attract the spirits. And he was right. Every day, as he started his work, over a hundred echrum would find their way to his forge, dancing in the heat and growing fat off of it. The man named Pistos would always wait for them to start. They were the blessing of the Vis, he would say, and the Vis must approve of his work before his work could be done.

After he worked the forge, Pistos would eat a small meal with his wife and child, and they would have a small prayer, and after that, he and his child would deliver his goods to the army. They would arrive back home at sunset, and with one final meditation and reading of the word of Vis, they would sleep.

Every day for years, Pistos would do this. Never once did he complain. This was his life, and he was happy. The Vis had blessed him with a beautiful wife and a sharp-witted son. They had given him a great task and the strength to complete it. The Vis showed him beauty in the world and in their world. What more could this man, named Pistos for his faith, ever want?

Then, one day, as the man named Pistos delivered his daily shipment, the general came to him. He declared that, while Pistos was doing a great job, they were at war now, and thus needed fifteen swords and fifteen shields each day in order to stay equipped.

“But how will he have time?” Pistos’ son exclaimed, “He already works so hard to get what he does!”

“Now now,” Pistos calmed the child, “I’m sure we can find time to make a few extra swords and a few extra shields. With all the extra exercise, I am sure that I can stop doing my training until the war is over.”

And thus it was. Each morning, Pistos would eat breakfast after his hour of prayer, and then start his work as soon as the echrum made their way to his heated forg. Each day he would make fifteen swords and fifteen shields then, after a brief prayer, he and his child would deliver the weapons, eating on the way.

One day, as they were delivering the new load, the general spoke to Pistos again, saying that they needed twenty swords and twenty shields each day to support the war effort.

“But there is no way he will have time to do that!” The son exclaimed as before, “He already works harder than everyone else to get fifteen swords and shields made!”

“Now now,” Pistos calmed the child, “I’m sure I can find time to make a few extra swords and a few extra shields. I will simply make the pommels and handles for everything the night before, while you read the word to me and your mother.”

And thus it was. Each night, as they went about their meditation and reading, Pistos would listen to his son read scripture as he prepared weapons to be made the next day. Without fail, the son would read as if he was reading from a pulpit, and Pistos’ heart would fill with pride as his son continued their ways.

Then, one day, as they were delivering the daily twenty swords and twenty shields, the general spoke again. He stated that the war would end soon, but there would be a big battle and had to prepare. As such, they needed thirty swords and thirty shields each day.

“Father! You must say no!” Pistos’ son proclaimed. “You have already given up your training and your reading! There is no more time in the day to make any weapons!”

“Now now,” Pistos replied, his hand on his child’s arm, “I’m sure we can figure out a way. We must stay faithful, after all. Maybe we can turn down the heat on the forge so that you can help me make a few swords and shields.”

And thus it was, or would have been. Pistos started the next day as usual, praying for an hour before breakfast and then heating up his forge. However, as he heated up his forge, he made sure to keep it cooler so his son could stay in the forge and work with him.

This time, though, no echrum made their way to the forge. It was not hot enough for them. But to raise the heat would cause his son to leave the forge, and without his son, there would be no way for him to make the thirty swords and thirty shields that the general needed. So, with a heavy heart, the man named Pistos started working, his son at his side. They made thirty swords and thirty shields each day, with no echrum to bless the weapons. Every night, as he listened to his son read scripture, Pistos would cry and ask the Vis for forgiveness for making weapons that had not been properly blessed.

One day, as he was delivering his shipment, he overheard the guards talking. They said that, with the war over, they could focus on making money by selling all the extra weapons that the smiths were making. Pistos was enraged. He felt betrayed and used. He was called Pistos because he was faithful and true, and they had taken advantage of that.
That night, when his son started to read, he stopped him. It was his turn to read the good book, the man named Pistos said, and he had wanted to read it for so long. His son started to object, but then remembered the guards’ words and simply smiled and nodded. Thus the family sat that night, reading the word of Vis together and making no pommels and no handles.

The next day, Pistos returned to his old routine. After his hour of prayer, he trained for an hour before breakfast. Then he heated up his forge as hot as it would go, and would only start making weapons after the Echrum came to it.

In the evening, he delivered his normal delivery of ten swords and ten shields to the general. The general was aghast. Were there not supposed to be thirty swords and thirty shields?

“But the war is over, sir.” Pistos said, “I heard it from your guards’ lips. You only require ten swords and ten shields now.” The general could not say anything, but his anger was plain on his face.

This continued for a time. Pistos relished his old life’s return. He spent time with his family and in prayer. He spent time with the echrum, making sure they blessed each and every one of the swords and shields that he made. Every day, he would deliver ten swords and ten shields to the general, who grew angrier every time Pistos made his delivery.

Then, one morning, Pistos woke up to find himself alone. His wife was not in their bed, nor was his son in the house. Thinking it strange, but not unheard of, he continued about his day, doing his prayer and his training, and spending an extra ten minutes praying for the safe travels of his family that day. He made his ten swords and ten shields, prayed again, and set off to deliver his weapons.

When he got there, he was shocked to find the general was happy and smiling. As Pistos’ unloaded his cart, the general started talking to him, saying that they needed forty swords and shields each and every day from now on.

“But we are in no war,” Pistos said, confused, “why would you have need of that many weapons?” The general told him that they just wanted them, but that Pistos would deliver them. Then he delivered his evil truth. The army had kidnapped Pistos’ wife and son, and they would be killed if Pistos did not make all of these weapons for them.

So, with tears in his eyes, Pistos did so. He was forced to stop his morning prayer and his evening meditation. He was forced to stop reading scripture. He only had time to eat and say a small prayer for his family. Every waking moment was devoted to making sword and shield. Each day, a guard would come in and pick up his weapons, so that he had more time to create them.

Eventually, worried that he may betray them, they sent a guard to watch him. The guard forced Pistos to turn down the forge so that he could stay inside with Pistos. The echrum stopped arriving at the forge each morning. Pistos cried at their loss. He had abandoned the Vis, or had been forced to it by the general. And every day he had to give the swords and shields to the very people that held his wife and son hostage.

One day, the man named Pistos woke up to discover he was out of food. There was no time, however, to go and buy any. He had to make his forty swords and forty shields each day to keep his family safe. So he worked without food, and without family, and without faith. The man named Pistos cursed his own name as he worked, having lost the right to have it.

The next night, as he slaved away making pommels for swords and handles for shields, Pistos crumbled from the pain in his empty stomach. He could go on no longer. He needed food, but had no strength to go and get it. So instead, he turned up the forge as hot it could go. Hotter than it had ever been. The heat burned him, blackening his skin, but it saved him, the pain giving him energy.

Eventually, the echrum found the heated forge and came from all over. Hundreds and hundreds swarmed over to the forge. Pistos looked at them and cried for what he was about to do. He had lost his faith, and this would seal it.

Pistos, named for his faith, ate the echrum. Every single one. He grew fat and full of strength, but did not stop eating. He grew and he grew from the power of the echrum, and kept eating and eating. Horns curled on his head, and his feet turned to hooves, physical signs of his turning from faith. The man named Pistos was no more.

There was only a demon in his place.

The demon grew and grew, and though it could not remember its life as the man named Pistos, it remembered that it needed something, and that it hated something. So it strode, growing taller with each bound, towards the base that the local army had set up.

When the demon arrived, it looked nothing like the man who had been called Pistos, and acted nothing like it as well. It took its hate and anger out on the camp, destroying everything it came across. It picked up the evil general shook him before crushing him in its grip. It could only see creatures running from it, but it had grown so tall that, after the general had died, none of them seemed to matter. The object of its hate was gone. It only knew that it needed something, but it could not figure out what.

And thus the demon, now called Nostrum, strode forward, crushing all under its wake. It searches for something that it cannot remember, and something that could never recognize it. One day, the demon vanished, walking from this world to the next, only to reappear years later. They say it will walk the planes for all eternity, never finding the family that was taken from it or the faith that it abandoned.
 

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