Friday, 9 March 2012

Redwald Magic Items: Trueshot and The Coat of Leaves

Part 2: Berbénancasul

When the moon was full the tribe gathered ready to witness Ábies’ humiliation. When they saw his rough made arrow they laughed and all the hunters of the tribe puffed out their chests and boasted how they would be the one to claim Wíðie once Ábies had shamed himself.

Wíðie stood by her father and could not look upon, Ábies for she knew if she did her heart would break. Soon her father would name a target that even the best of their hunters would struggle to hit. Ábies and his ugly arrow would fail, their love would be doomed, and she would be forced to marry one of the strutting, boastful hunters.
Under he moon’s light they gathered in a forest clearing as Ácléaf stepped to its centre ready to name his target.

A hush fell over the tribe, but before Ácléaf could speak the silence was broken. From all around them came the blood-lusty war cries of men. Before the hunters could knock arrows iron-shod oak-shafted war spears tore into their ranks and then with axe and fire the Eastlund men came screaming into the clearing. The moon glinted on mail and axe, flaming brands lit bearded faces and eyes full of hate and killing.

They fell upon the startled Ælfcynn and slew them most bloodily. Then seized the elfin maidens, threw them over their shoulders, and ran from the clearing.
In mere second the attack had laid waste to the tribe. The young women had been taken, Wíðie among them, and all the men save Ábies and Ácléaf were slain. Of those two Ábies’s scalp had been cut, his skull cracked leaving him bloody and terrible to behold, but alive.

Ácléaf was dying. He took his great bow and offered it to Ábies. “I name my target,” he whispered. “Pierce the king of the Eastlund men with your arrow and you may marry Wíðie with my blessing.” With that he died.
With Ácléaf’s bow, and his arrow Ábies was determined to do murder to the king of the Eastlund men, rescue Wíðie, and return to the forest to marry her.

First though he returned to his spirit tree. One by one he stripped the leaves from it. With each leaf he picked a little of spirit died as his spirit tree also began to wither. But his need was great, for he was no warrior, and alone against all the iron clad men of Eastlund Seax he was no match.
Singing a spell of the forest he crafted the leaves from his spirit tree into a coat of leaves. In the deepest thickest parts of the forest the Ælfcynn moved swift and silent, invisible to the forest-blind eyes of men, but in the open fields and hills of men, so alien to the Ælfcynn, he would be easy to see. The magic of his cloak of leaves let Ábies walk the world of men as silently and as stealthily as if he were stalking through the depths of the great wood.

Magic, as all know, is a doom as well as boon, and though Ábies could now walk the world of men as silently and invisibly as he once walked the woods, he would now be as loud and clumsy in the forest as any iron-clad man. Worse he would never be able to remove the cloak. For what remained of his life he would be as a stranger in his own forest.
Ábies did not care though. His spirit tree was dying and when it did he could no longer bear to dwell amongst the living trees of the forest. Not even for the sake of Wíðie. Swearing by the Mother of the Woods, he vowed that before that happened he would rescue Wíðie and have vengeance on the men of Eastlund.

The Cloak of Leaves wrapped around his shoulders Ábies moved silent and invisible through the open and barren land of men. Past the ploughed earth, and farmsteads, where the trees of his people burnt in their hearths, he walked until he came to the great hall of the king of Eastlund Seax.

From within torchlight shone and the sound of drunken singing stung his ears. In the hall the men leered an jeered shamefully at the imprisoned elfin maids. The King himself, a grizzled scar-worn warrior more bear than man, was taking his pick. His mead-lust upon him, his eyes glazed, he pawed at the Elfin maids, until his gaze fell upon the beauty of Wíðie and he reached for her laughing.

“Hold! Touch her not,” Shouted Ábies his spellsinger’s voice ringing clear and wrathful above the din of the mead hall.

The silence of fear spread across the hall in a heartbeat. If there is but one thing the warriors of men fear it is magic.

“Free our women or hear me sing the song of your doom.”
No one moved. Ábies kicked a burning ember from the the fire pit. It flew across the room and hit the kings throne in a shower of sparks. In fear of this invisible intruder the Eastlund men cut the bonds of the Ælfcynn women and let them run free.

When Wíðie had fled from the mead hall Ábies lowered the hood of his Cloak of Leaves. To the King and his people it seemed as if a bloodied and fierce Ælfcynn bowman had appeared as if from nowhere.

Men gasped, a woman screamed, people whispered of omens, and made the sign against evil.

As Ábies knocked his arrow Sóþscot the Eastlund warriors snatched up their shields and stood before their king.
Laughing Ábies turned away from them and loosed his arrow. Even though Ábies had his back to him, even though he were protected by all the shields of and men of his warband, the arrow twisted and turned and sped through the air, over the shields, around the men, pierced the king in his heart and killed him dead.

Ábies raised his hood once more and vanished from sight. The king fell, panic erupted in the hall, Ábies escaped.
Wíðie was safe in the forest with the rest of the Ælfcynn, but Ábies knew he could not join her. In the woods the magic of the cloak would betray him to the Eastlund men should they come seeking vengeance. To return would put Wíðie at risk again. Even if he could he knew his sprit tree, leafless and withered, was dying. No Ælfcynn could bear to live in the forest once this happened.

Broken hearted he roamed the lands of men, invisible, wrathful, and murderous until the day he died.

Berbénancasul: With the hood down The Cloak of Leaves looks like a normal cloak made from golden and red autumn leaves. When the hood is raised in open lands the wearer becomes invisible and silent (enemy’s attack at -4 to hit). In forest and woodland, whether the hood is lowered or raised, the wearer not only can be easily seen and every footfall heard, but every living creature in the woods can sense them. Whoever wears the cloak cannot take it off, neither can it be taken from them. At least not while they live.

Current Owner/Location: The cloak is under a the largest Pear tree in an orchard in Eastlund Seax and still worn by Ábies. When he tired of life he found the orchard and lay down to die. The cloak has preserved his body as well as kept it hidden. If the cloak is somehow found then removed from Ábies’ corpse his body will turn to dust within mere minutes.