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Thread: D&D Snippets II: The Snippetting

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    Default Re: D&D Snippets II: The Snippetting

    Barnabas Of Hollow Soul.

    Artemis Of Brewing Storms

    The Beginning
    In the small Halfling forest of Heart-Grove every child’s birth is cause for celebration, but this one’s was a particularly special occasion.

    His mother’s family, already overflowing with shape-shifting mages aligned with nature’s will, saw potential in their new scion the likes of which none had achieved in decades. Merely carrying this baby had increased his mother’s power tenfold; so much so that she could barely contain her own magic, which reached out and invigorated all simple forms of life for miles every time she rose from rest and every time she lay down to sleep.

    The small ‘town’, a few dens and tree-homes arranged around a handful of shops, knew from her child’s quickening onward to care for their own wounds privately if they did not wish for a stray spell to catch them off guard while she passed by; it became something of a joke that she belonged more to the healing tribes found living in the wild territories of the three prophetic dragon-gods than in the forest among those who knew her best.

    None commented on the small silver locket she carried, a relic of the days long past where she adventured out in the savage lands with persons unknown.All who knew her politely held their curiosity at bay whenever she took a moment to caress the strangely scarred and smoothed trinket with the timid touch of a person who had seen all that they loved vanish in the wind. That she chose to return to her homeland to birth her child was all her family needed to welcome her back with open arms.

    Early in a frigid fall morning she brought her child into the world. Seeking glory through the prodigy, elders humbly offered her their own names for the infant. They reminded her of many small favored from years past, subtly suggesting that her child would carry on their legacy when they finally fell to age.

    She rebuked each of them, her locket held in hand and her baby to her heart.

    “Barnabas.” She whispered to her midwife, one of her many siblings. “…His name will be Barnabas.” And that was the end of that.

    No one noticed or cared about the sand wrapping around the roots of their eldest trees. What, in all, is a bit of odd dirt to those who take false forms to relax after a long day; to those who mark the passage of time by growing closer to trees rather than their own beautiful brides; to those who sup with the great personalities of the forest and later name them as “The Young Doe, the Great Horned Owl and the Clever Finch. Oh, and also some man who wandered by.”?

    Celebration gave way to quiet, as is the natural way, and then celebration and quiet again in endless cycles as seasons passed and new occasions arose. Indoctrinated to accept life as it is from before his first thoughts had even formed, young Barnabas witnessed as much of the obvious parts of nature as he was allowed; when the Clever Finch grew too old and too slow he watched it land and take a final rest, witnessing greatness pass without a way to put words to his feelings; when the Great Horned Owl brought home a fresh kill Barnabas watched it take a life to sustain its own; when the Young Doe gave birth he watched a new life begin, paid for by effort and pain and the energy of the forest.

    His first words were lost in a flurry of activity, more celebrations and quiets passing him by. Now, though, he could marvel aloud at each wonder, asking again and again the name of each action or actor and the why behind it all. At four years old, with his mind assured of the fullness to his knowledge and with sand secretly slithering under his home, Barnabas took the study of nature into his own hands.

    When nature turned against itself, when powerful creatures preyed upon their weaker cousins, he was there to grant mercy to the weak. When the Great Horned Owl struck down a mouse Barnabas was there too, shooing the bird away so he could tend the rodent’s wounds…or give it a place to rest eternally, if need be. His aunts and uncles laughed. “We’ve a little paladin in our midst!” they exclaimed. “Better play nice with that grass, miss Young Doe, or he’ll stop you from eating that too!”

    This was a village of close bonds and kindness, so him rejecting the natural order was merely a child misunderstanding how things had to be; this was something to be chided gently, but immediately forgiven…If, of course, you exclude the teasing this attracted from more learned children. “He will learn…he will learn…for now his heart is almost too large. But he will learn and we will all be the better for his kindness.” many elders said, still watching over his progress closely.

    Many trees, denied the much needed touch of soil by the grasp of sand, came to complain of the problem to their keepers. This was considered so minor a problem that a single acolyte of magic was needed to correct it, shifting dirt and sand around until she could get at large pools and return much of it to a fertile state all at once. That was that and no further interest was paid to the matter, not even to discover how or why it had happened; No one has time to ponder what had probably been a minor spell gone wrong, after all, when they could instead laugh as a prodigy of magic rescues flies from spiders or worms from shrew.

    Within months though, the sand returned to choking life from the forest.

    Some were amused. This was slightly less bothersome than that odd prank which changed the gender of every beast in the forest, but it was still a matter that needed little attention. An elder tree-keeper resolved the issue without even leaving her bath, adding a touch of extra magic to keep the ground as healthy as ever before.

    It only took days for the sand to return. And now it did not merely hide out of sight; rivulets of the stuff blossomed under every tree, around every home and through every den. Now those who tended to these things grew annoyed.

    Seven of the mightiest mages from the forest joined their magic and collectively purged the land of this not so subtle blight. Within seconds it was back, dripping from every creature and plant like morning dew disturbed from its place upon a leaf.

    Barnabas’ mother finally caught wind of these strange goings on. With her son missing, hidden behind some tree or shrub looking for a chance to be a hero, she took up arms and clad herself in the best of her old armor. Many asked what was happening, if she knew more of these events, if this was her doing, if this was something that could easily be stopped; her answers were always vague and cheering, but her body-language spoke of a horror none would survive.

    As the sun set and Barnabas came home to ask another round of questions about the ‘Why’ and the ‘How’ of life, his mother drew her sword and roared a challenge to the first stretches of darkness. Many took to their trees or homes, retreating to watch from afar…but nothing happened.

    Barnabas tugged incessantly at his mother’s arm, begging her to lower the life-harming sword in her grasp, but his strength was that of a child’s and hers was that of a warrior; she did not at all seem to hear his wailing as she waited for darkness to fall and roared out another challenge. The sand below them quivered and danced, but her stance was strong and her footing sure.

    Many sent their companions and close friends, plants and beasts of the forest attuned to night, out to scout the darkest reaches of their territory. Those who allowed the wolves and owls and foxes from their side never caught glimpse of their companion again, nor did they hear the last cries of their favored beast as it fell.

    In the dead of night Barnabas lay at his mother’s feet, voice cracked from his pleas for her to lower her weapon. Her ears were not for his cries, but instead for some silent enemy yet to appear before her; again she roared a challenge, no more using words than the ocean does during a harsh storm.

    Their common methods and divinations failing, elders and knights of the land prepared themselves for battle within their hiding holes. A brave minority came to stand beside the warrior woman and her young. All of them had passed the test of battle before, but none knew of war as she did; at her side they looked to be children playing soldier, each unsure of themself even when their age was three or four times that of hers.

    With the coming dawn not far some considered lowering their weapons and allowing the defensive spells they had prepared to return to nature. But again she roared her challenge, waking Barnabas at her feet which had not once moved even though the sand now flowed like water over her boots.

    They then heard a laugh, a deep, warm laugh; one that put some of them at ease. Only the last warrior still standing –for many took a seat to rest their legs or doze against a sand weeping oak – found a foe in that voice.

    Barnabas and his mother alike hissed, instinct won by birthright awakening within him and instinct carved from lost flesh and spilt blood stirring within her.

    Immediately she roared another challenge into the darkness. The darkness roared a challenge back.

    Sand swept away from her, receding as the tide would before an earth shattering wave. She strode after it with Barnabas crawling at her side, motherhood forgotten as she searched for her foe. Again she roared into the darkness. Again the darkness roared back, its voice magnified tenfold by a fear it instilled that only a species of former prey could possibly know or understand. Some elders ran, forgetting oaths to serve the village in favor of saving themselves. Some swordsmen lay down their arms and fell prostrate, hoping for mercy from the foe they could not see but they knew to be there. None followed her though, favoring the limited light and well known territory of their own streets over once or twice-walked paths in the forests depths.

    The darkness did not wait for her to roar again. What must have been thousands of foul beings rose from sand and shadows and portals into the ether; Barnabas, ignorant to the world beyond his forest, instinctively knew these were not victims, not weak, not afraid and definitely not alive. For once he approved of his mother’s weapon.

    The forest fell silent as the warrior woman roared one last challenge; unlike the others it did not fall when she drew breath, instead feeding upon long hidden rage. Her pace quickened and Barnabas could barely keep up. She barely noted him, senses trained against actual threats lurking just beyond sight. The laughter sounded again, but her rage drowned it out. Her thunderous footfalls crushed the weaker voice of the legion born from darkness as she charged them and they hesitated, afraid for the first time since their lives had ended and began anew.

    With her son only a stride behind her she fell upon the many monsters wearing the skin of men. Her sword resonated with her unending roar, her unceasing challenge for the army to find her even ONE opponent that could be her match. Five or ten beings fell to each of her blows and she struck out with all the anger of a woman widowed, of a warrior isolated from their comrades by the ennobled deaths upon the battlefield. Her charge slowed only long enough for her to reach behind herself to drag Barnabas closer, just as her lucidity waned and her fury grew.

    Those clever enough to see her child as a weakness found themselves at a loss for what to do; her constant attacks drove the army apart by felling some and keeping fresh a once forgotten sense of mortality in others.

    But still the laughter persisted, too quiet to be heard over her roar but still there; even if only she heard it, that was enough to keep her movements quick to ensure none that even managed to lightly scrape her side survived to brag about it. None cared if Barnabas still had a voice or even that he was there in the first place.

    The first hints of dawn peeked over the horizon as her cried finally fell silent, a path of barely illuminating fallen foes stretching too far beyond the limits of sight. Ahead and around the pair an army of undeath loomed. Barnabas choked silently, his body too drained to sob, his legs weak after running without pause and his arm bruised by a berserker’s strength hidden behind a mother’s guiding grasp.

    His mother stood tall in the growing light, looking the part of the knight who rescues a princess; while her thick armor had found itself scuffed and scratched and bloody, she seemed stronger for it. If not for her slow panting, Barnabas might have believed that strength would never fail.

    And then they heard the laughter once again. She answered the unknown foe with a battle cry that rustled trees and rushed into the fray again, Barnabas still carried along in her wake.

    Denizen of the forest – oft without flesh upon their bones or with their bodies frozen in the earliest stages of decay – came forward to fall to her blade. Massive creatures without names stooped to strike at her and learned of their mistake only when they backed away without an arm. Beings that were almost men and women maneuvered around her, employing complex tactics that afforded them true death by her hand half a second after their peers. Even spells washed over her, painting the landscape but unable to slow her beyond the minor effort of shifting to weather magic meant for her son.

    Hours later her voice broke and her pace slowed. The sun refused to rise into the sky, only the first touches of its light illuminating the battle. Her sword and gauntlets were filthy with blood and ichor; the coating of crimson so thick one could barely tell where metal ended and leather began, or even if there was a material to it besides the blood of those who dared oppose her.

    The laughter did not stop but finally she did. Cursed ghouls considered her weakened form warily, unwilling to approach she who had slain oh so many of them already. Some others, vampires perhaps, licked their lips at the blood streaming from the rare few cuts in her armor, but stayed back knowing what became of the others who were more daring. Even the simplest of undead were held at bay by the sheer force of her anger and strength; zombies swayed in the softest of winds, their connection to their dark masters weakened momentarily by her mere presence.

    None wanted to approach her first. Truth be told, most wanted to simply run away and hide in some dank corner of the universe where they would never cross her path ever again. Her panting slowed as she regained a measure of her lost strength and stood proud once again; several of those upon the front line took a step back, pressing themselves into their brethren undead to stay just a little farther out of her reach.

    “Impressive.” A man chimed in, so jovial one could easily forget for a moment that life eating monstrosities openly stood in every direction. “I expected much from you…but this? All of this? Magnificent!” Barnabas whimpered as much as he was able, the voice as terrifying to him as his every nightmare combined and yet somehow pleasing to the ear. His mother shifted her stand slightly, her head slowly turning in hopes of pinpointing the source of the man’s voice for her next charge.

    “Oh? Who is this little guy next to you?” From a thick wall of mummified priests strode a Halfling man in regal attire, every facet of his appearance inappropriately immaculate for someone surrounded by ugly undeath. A moment later a scaled beast took a place at his side, its form locked somewhere in the grey area between Dragon and Alligator, Crocodile and Drake. Sand rose from where their feet struck, the ground rippling under them as dirt and grass became dust and grit. “He looks quite familiar…doesn’t he look familiar, my widdle gum-drop?” The large reptile did not even seem to notice as the Halfling man, a full head shorter than it, reached up to stroke its neck. “Yes he does! Yes he does! You’re so smart! Yes you are!”

    She said nothing in response, barely keeping her anger in check. Barnabas said nothing in response, both because he could not and because he did not wish to. The undead shifted anxiously, knowing either of the mortal powder-kegs could easily be the end of them.

    “I think someone is supposed to introduce the proud uncle to his only nephew; don’t you think so gum-drop? Don’t you think it’s impolite to leave two gentlemen and a gentle-gator guessing at each other’s names?” The reptile slowly opened its mouth, releasing an overly long tongue tipped with sharp talons. The appendage, easily as long as the Halfling was tall, flicked up to scratch above the reptiles eye before receding into its mouth. Eventually the beast blinked that eye, the other orb gazing blankly into space. “You’re right! I need to take matters into my own hands! You’re so clever, aren’t you boy?”

    With a flourish the Halfling bowed. “Good morning, my youthful kin. I am your devilishly handsome, spectacularly clever uncle; please call me Artemis.” He waited a beat and then stood tall once again. “I don’t suppose Jenny has told you much about me. Nothing good anyway; she always was a stick in the mud, eh?”

    The conversation was distinctly one sided. No wildlife persisted to make a sound, no undead cared to wheeze and Barnabas had fallen silent once again.

    “She was never too creative either. Did you know that? I bet you knew that. That’s my silly little sister-in-law Jenny; boorish, stick in the mud, party pooper extraordinaire! Did you know that she once told me she didn’t have time for fun?! Everyone has time for fun…even when we’re falling into layer five hundred and eight of the Abyss. Boy was that a party for the ages.” His infectious happiness did not belong there, but it spread all the same. Ghasts cracked smiles against their will. Zombies released slow pulses of air that might have been giggles if produced by any other being.

    “That’s good though. You always know just what boring old Jenny is going to do, even when she doesn’t know herself. Like how she fell in love with my brother; who didn’t see that coming? Or like how she came home, after everyone else …” he struggled for words endearingly, looking to a savage and pale Gnoll for help. One of his hands swept outward, displaying two gaudy rings as he indicated the mass of undead around himself. “…Had fun. She’s so silly! Isn’t she silly?”

    “If you say it, I will kill you Artemis. You can still walk away from this. Do NOT make that mistake.” Jenny spoke her first true words in what seemed like hours or even days. Barnabas glanced up at her torn between disapproval and pride, fear and confusion.

    “Bah, like you’d ever hurt someone as cute as me.” Artemis winked at his nephew and Jenny yanked her son backward to better shield her son from view; all the same Barnabas smiled back at his uncle just the tiniest bit. “Anyway, everyone knows what you’re going to do before you do it, Jenny-wenny. And I just so happen to know whose life and name you prized above all others. Other than mine, of course. Boy I’d sure feel silly if you named your son after me. Wait…what if you made me godfather?! I’d just die of embarrassment! What kind of godfather comes to visit without gifts? Toys? Candy? Speaking of candy, what wouldn’t I give for a good--”

    “SAY HIS NAME AND YOU DIE!” Jenny released her son’s arm, letting him crumple to the ground as she took a more aggressive stance with her sword.

    “Yeah, I know my brother wasn’t too fond of his name. Come to think of it, he even asked to trade names with me once! But a good man’s name is a good man’s name and you’re just too…too obvious to name your son anything else. Besides, I just so happen to think ‘Barnabas’ has a nice ring to it.”

    Last edited by Doxkid; 2013-10-16 at 08:15 PM.