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ID: 3419


December 8, 2006, 9:37 pm

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Cheka Man

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The Vintage of Despair


The Connoisseurs of the land would remember Vigo Telaggio’s masterpiece, but not in the way he’d intended…

None could stand against them, for their foes ate of the food of bitterness and drank of the wine of despair…

Crowds thronged the streets as the victorious cavaliers returned, their high-stepping palfreys resplendent in bright, new barding.  Behind them trundled wagons, each loaded with captured arms and other booty.  As they rode triumphantly through the streets, cheering crowds threw boughs of evergreen before the hooves of the returning heroes.

At the head of the bright column rode Captain Beorht, the resourceful leader of the returning company.  Slumped in his saddle, forlorn and devoid of hope, he came home a broken man.  In the heart of the battle, the captain had ridden forth alone to face the enemy’s champion in single combat.  Treacherous and wicked, the minions of the foe had rushed forth to overwhelm the solitary captain before he could finish off their weakening champion.  In the end, they had paid a fatal price for their treachery, but rescue came too late for the captain.  In the hands of the enemy, they had forced a bitter draught down their foe’s throat, the terrible Wine of Despair.

A Vintage of the Damned
This dark burgundy liquid, redolent with the scent of wormwood, may appear to be little more than a dry red wine, but even a sip is enough to curse the drinker for months afterward.  Those drinking this accursed vintage will be unable to feel joy, satisfaction, or triumph; they are instead possessed by feelings of regret, depression, and hopelessness.  Bitter and frustrated, many of the wine’s victims end their own lives.  Others lose themselves through drink or indulge in increasingly damaging diversions, desperately seeking to recapture some hope and excitement in their lives.  Consumed by despair, it is common for victims to pine away, doing nothing but sleeping, barely eating, spending months withdrawn and alone.

Love’s Embrace:  Not a Good Year
The Wine of Despair first appeared long centuries ago, when the master vintner Vigo Telaggio had first purchased the famous vineyards at Vilgres.  Already renowned for wines almost magical in their effects, Master Vigo was sure that he could bring the world an even better vintage.  Announcing his plan to brew the best wine ever tasted, he worked tirelessly to produce a vintage superior to anything ever known to the vintner’s art.  Developing a new hybrid grape, he carefully selected a few extra ingredients that would go into each vat, thoughtfully balancing the herbs and spices so that, once aged, his wine would be amazingly subtle and flavorful.

He named this new wine “Love’s Embrace” in the extravagant fashion of his time.  Inspired by the beauty of his lovely betrothed, a damsel renowned for her grace and sweet nature, he slaved night and day to prepare his masterwork.  Connoisseurs throughout the land gossiped eagerly of this legend among wines; all could see that this was a labor of love.

Then his beloved suddenly fell ill and died of a strange fever.  In the delirium of her final hours, she did not even know him, instead calling out in her fevered visions for a childhood love that had passed away years before.  The vintner was crushed; he prayed that the gods would grant him merciful death before asking him to live without the beautiful maid he had loved.  He fell into a black despair, but his sense of responsibility was too strong for him to remain away from his life’s work.  Even as he pined away for his lost love, growing weaker and more haggard with every passing week, he labored to complete the perfect wine that he had poured his soul into.  As the last vat was filled and put away for the long process of aging, the broken-hearted vintner died, his wasted body falling to rest among the vats.

Years later, when Vigo’s successors decanted the resulting wine, they were shocked to discover what had been wrought in that dark time.  The wine was not the perfect wine that had been expected, but instead had an unusual and subtly bitter taste.  Despite this, there was massive demand for “Vigo Telaggio’s Last Vintage”.  They had distributed many bottles of the vintage to eager nobles and connoisseurs before they realized the true potency of its curse.  Even after it became widely known, some still sought out the terrible beverage:  The jaded, romantic, or melancholy, who hoped that its dark magic would somehow touch their souls with inspiration.

Since that time, some few vintners have tried to reproduce the infamous recipe of the “Wine of Despair”.  Many have produced inferior vintages, while others have brewed wines renowned for years afterward.  A few vintners, haunted by heartbreak of their own, have been visited by the phantom of Master Vigo.  Their hand guided by that of the heartbroken spirit, they too have produced the deadly vintage of Master Vigo.

Hope for the Hopeless
Those suffering from the terrible effects of this dark wine are not totally without hope.  If true love finds them while they are under the wine’s influence, or if they experience a joy as powerful as the vintner’s heartbreak that originally gave the drink its dark potency, they may be freed of its effects.  For most, however, all that they can do is endure its curse until time heals their wounded souls.

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Comments ( 10 )
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Voted the Wanderer
December 8, 2006, 21:52
Now we're talking! Subtle yet effective, and the delivery is excellent! Got another we could sample?
December 8, 2006, 21:58
You want a chaser with that?
the Wanderer
December 8, 2006, 22:04
Yes! Break out every bottle in the cellar!
Voted MoonHunter
December 9, 2006, 9:41
Nicely done. Good description, nice historical elements, nice dramatic hooks, and it all works for me. I am adding it to the Garage Sale from Hell codex, as it fits nicely into that.
Voted Cheka Man
December 9, 2006, 12:51
Not a wine to use to drink one's sorrows away.
Voted manfred
December 9, 2006, 17:43
Linked to Fantasy Drinking as well.

What a sad piece, never enchanted but magical in its own right. A subtle curse of utter desperation... I would imagine a villain administering it to some key person needed for a greater purpose, then withholding an antidote to make his friends do X. Saying that, there should be an antidote, but of course a hard to get one.
Voted valadaar
December 9, 2006, 18:26
I like it!
Voted Scrasamax
December 9, 2006, 23:44
superb body, the bouqet was as pleasing as it's color. An excellent vintage.
Voted Murometz
December 10, 2006, 2:46
In vino veritas
Voted Dozus
October 31, 2012, 6:01
Only voted

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Wet Faeries

       By: Murometz

Sages and naturalists frown at the common name given to these strange creatures by the small folk, but sometimes the silliest nicknames for creatures, places and people persevere in the minds of many. “Purifiers”, “Pond Jellies”, “Breath-Stealers”, “Lung-Ticklers” and “River Butterflies” are much less commonly heard appellations for these life forms. Wet Faeries are basically (and simply) a species of fist-sized, fresh-water jellyfish. Several traits steer them toward the peculiar category however. Firstly, Wet Faeries are nearly invisible in the water, much like their marine cousins but even more so. One can swim in a river swarming with these critters and not even notice their presence. Secondly, they possess the unique ability to clean and purify whatever body of water they inhabit. They do this via some sort of biological filtration process, sucking in all toxins present in the water, and releasing it back in its purest form. Needless to say, they are both a blessing and a curse to whichever folk dwell beside the rivers and lakes Wet Faeries inhabit. On one hand, no purer water can be found anywhere than a Wet Faerie lake or pond, and yet, in “pure” water “life” tends in fact to die out, lacking the needed nutrients to prosper. Thirdly, their “sting” is (unfortunately) virulently poisonous to all mammalians. Wet Faeries are loathe to sting anyone or anything, using their barbed fronds as a last line of defense, but if stung, most swimmers will suffer respiratory arrest, and die within minutes, usually drowning before they can make it back to shore.

Alchemists, druids, and less savory characters have studied these creatures over the years, and have predictably found all the ways Wet Faeries could be exploited. Morbidly humorous, some bards find it, that the Poisoners and Assassins Guilds as well as the Healer’s Union, all prize these creatures. The assassins use the extracted venom in obvious fashion, while the priests and healers use the still-living jelly-fish to sterilize other poison potions and to cure those already poisoned on death’s door.

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Encounter  ( Any ) | June 20, 2014 | View | UpVote 3xp

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