Borden's Wild Coast looks like a fairly ordinary and aged hunting jacket. It is a patchwork of leather hides stitched roughly together, some still bearing scraps of fur from their original owners. Duster flaps attached to the shoulders form a loose sort of shoulder cloak. A hood has been attached, with a fur lining. The jacket is fastened with small horn toggles, with a more elaborate round bone clasp at the neck.
Once, some age ago, there lived in the Siogalish town of Torwyth a man named Bradán Barra. He was a hunter of renown, bringing great quantities of game meat and pelts into the town. He would stalk even the darkest parts of the Thicket, and Torwyth's taverns echoed with the stories of his hunts. Bradán grew rich and proud.
For all that, he was not proud of his son, Borden. Where Bradán was a man of boasting, drinking, and feats of strength, Borden was a quiet lad who preferred song and study. Bradán had tried training the boy since his smallest days in the way of the spear and bow, but Borden had no natural knack for the hunt. The skill had seemed to skip a generation.
This was a source of great contention in the Barra household. Bradán was ashamed of his son, and worried for the future name of the clan. Borden for his part wanted desperately to please his father, and by the time he had his first hint of beard he abandoned his own pursuits to learn his father's trade. He spent hours with a bow, but could hit only the ground. He'd walk the woods for hours following tracks, only to discover they were mostly his own. Gutting and cleaning game made him sick to his stomach.
Bradán eventually grew impatient. He gave Borden an ultimatum: "You have one last hunt, boy!" he shouted. "You bring back a buck, or you don't come back at all! By the Shades, my son will be hunt or I will have no son!"
And so Borden, a boy of scant fifteen summers, ventured alone into the Thicket, determined to please his father or die trying.
This he almost immediately did. Only a few hours walking in the woods, he sighted a brown bear mother with her cubs. When he realized this he was already quite close, and was terrified of running away for fear of making too much noise. Instead, he scrambled his way up a nearby rowan. He panted in nervous breath, waiting for the bear to leave.
"What are you doing?" came a voice beside him.
Startled, Borden spun around and nearly fell from the branch. Beside him sat a curious youth, appearing little older than Borden and perhaps younger, with a shock of thick black hair and wearing clothes of moss and leaf. Even in his state of surprise Borden recognized the being from the old songs: this was a Ghillie Dubh, a dark boy of the forest, fey who rarely showed themselves to men. Though Siogalish folk had a long history with the fey, they could still be dangerous. Now Borden was really caught.
"I- I- I'm hiding. F-from the bear," he managed to stammer.
"Bear?" The boy looked down. "Oh. Why are you hiding here? Bears can climb trees, you know."
"I- I know little of the forest."
"Oh. Then why are you here?"
Borden, sensing the Ghillie Dubh meant him no harm, and not having any other plans besides, told the fey his whole sad tale. The Ghillie listened carefully, showing no apparent emotion besides curiosity. Finally, when the story was done, he sat back thoughtfully.
"I am a protector of the forest, you know. Your father has taken very many of my herds and packs. But you seem not at all like him. You are more thoughtful, gentler. Perhaps we can make help each other, aye? If I can teach you the ways of the wood, I will permit you to reap from my herd of deer. But I will want repayment. Whatever you receive for this harvest, you must repay by the next nightfall. Are we sworn?"
Borden considered the matter. His father would likely sell the meat and hide, and keep the head mounted. The game would fetch a fair price - but certainly one he could repay. And worth the price to keep the elder Barra's good graces! Besides, the fae boy truly seemed sympathetic to his plight and surely bore no ill will.
Young Borden, seeing no real way out, agreed. The Ghillie Dubh handed him the coat, and Borden put it on. Instantly he felt different. He know knew the forest as though it were his own home: he could identify every bird call, track every scent, see every leaf and burrow. He looked down at himself, and saw his appearance had changed too. It was as though he were part of the forest, his skin like bark and hair like grass. Thanking the Ghillie Dubh, he climbed down and immediately caught the scent of a buck. He tracked the animal - a young deer with a proud rack on its head - and found it did not stir to his presence. Drawing his hunting spear, he knew exactly where to strike to make a swift and painless kill. The hunting knife seemed to separate entrails from flesh of their own accord. With the game over his shoulders, Borden left the forest, stowing away the coat lest his father ask from whence it came.
On seeing his son bearing the pelt, Bradán Barra was impressed, but skeptical. He asked his son many questions: "Where did you find the deer?" and "How did you track it?" and "How did you manage such a swift and exact kill?" Borden could answer the questions well, but he found he could not recall every detail. The wisdom of the wood he had in the coat seemed lost. Despite his answers, Bradán still doubted his son, and demanded more proof.
"You've done well with the buck, my boy, aye. I'll sell the venison and hide for a fair price at Torwyth market, and like pay you in advance like a huntsman. But a true hunter could fell a greater beast. Do you think you could bring down a cat-o'-the-wood? That would show the worth of the Barra clan."
Borden was torn. He relished the praise of his father so rarely given him, but he'd sworn to the Ghillie Dubh he would hunt no more, and he knew the fey do not take such oaths lightly. So which could he turn against? His own blood, or the magical folk?
In the end, Borden decided blood was thicker than magic. He would ask the fae permission, aye, but he still intended to follow through with his father's wishes. What would the Ghillie Dubh do to him if the oath was broken, besides take the coat or banish him from the wood? Neither would be of much loss to him. But expulsion from his own family and becoming clanless would be a fate he could not bear. On the morrow, Borden again donned his coat and went into the Thicket.
Finding easily the same tree as before, Borden began to search for the Ghillie Dubh. Just as he began to look, the fae appeared as though it had always been there. "I saw your hunt. It was a good and true strike. But my buck's shade wants for repayment of its blood. I hope you have what you owe."
Borden nodded, paying the Ghillie Dubh the coin his father had given, which quickly disappeared into its cloth of foliage. The boy gazed up at Borden, eyes piercing his. "Is that all, then?"
Borden's face paled. He looked with doubt and mistrust on the fae. "Aye, that's all of it."
The Ghillie looked coy. "Very well then." He smiled gently. "Our business is done, then?"
"Well..." Borden scratched the back of his neck. "I was hoping you would permit me to hunt once more. My father seems to doubt my hunt in spite of the very fine buck. He wants me to bring back the pelt of a cat-o'-the-wood."
The Ghillie gave Borden a hurt look. "I see. I'm sorry my finest deer underwhelmed. Your demanding father wants one of my fine cats now? They are mighty hunters, I could not part easily with them. What do you offer?"
"I- I thought perhaps the same as before," Borden ventured. "I will repay whatever I receive for the hunt."
The fae eyed Borden coolly. "Very well. I will abide, that you may earn your father's respect. You will repay what you earn from the hunt tomorrow eve'n."
"Yes, of course. Thank you!" At once Borden went again into the Thicket, and quickly found his quarry: a huge she-cat with a brilliant coat, patrolling her den in a grotto. Borden approached cautiously, but on seeing him, she seemed resigned, sitting back on her haunches patiently. Once again, the boy's spear struck true and she was dead in an instant. The cat's pelt seemed to glide off the flesh as a glove. Leaving the flesh and entrails, Borden carried the claws, head, and pelt home to his father.
Again, his father was shocked. Bradán half expected the boy to be killed. "A fine hunt, boy! Caolan said a she-cat such as this had preyed on his sheep - I expect he'll pay a fine price for her." He placed a bag of coin in Borden's palm, but paused. "Yes, such a fine kill... Almost, too fine, eh, boy?"
Borden blinked. "What do you mean, father?"
Bradán crossed his arms. "Come now, be honest. Who helped you, hm?"
The boy was hurt. "No one! I did it on my own, I - I swear!"
Bradán grew angry. They argued hotly, the successful hunts giving Borden a confidence and pride he'd never felt before. In the end Borden stormed off, heading straight back to the Thicket which of late felt more a home for him. He instinctively went to the Ghillie Dubh's tree, and instantly the fae appeared.
"I will miss that fair she-cat - may her grown cubs bear many descendants! Did you earn what you sought for her?"
Borden flung the bag of coins at the Ghillie. "Here," he said gruffly.
The fae boy weighed the bag in his hand. "Is that all, then?" he asked quietly.
Borden swore. "Is that all?! Of course it's all, you hound! You and this coat have brought me nothing but trouble! Why do you keep asking 'Is that all?!'"
The Ghillie Dubh nodded, his dark locks bobbing. "Aye. Your debt is paid." He began to walk away. "If you no longer care for the coat, you may leave it here."
When you are under siege, you have nothing but time. But the abundance of time is just as much of a weight as the enemy outside the gates. It is time for the Citadel to develop a creative Stimulus Package to support the Strolenati during this unique time. After no deliberation and no votes, the following will be the procedures followed through the the Citadel Stimulus Quest. (Subject to change, amendment, and adjustment as needed.)
- Every Monday a minimum influx of $40 will be added to the Stimulus Package to keep the Creative Citadel Economy out of a Recession.
- The Stimulus Package will accumulate $40 weekly until there are 5 unique author submissions.
- Authors can write as many submissions as they like and each will be considered on their own merits.
- On the Sunday after the 5 author requirement is met, the 5+ submissions by 5+ authors will be weighed and measured by the Strolenati.
- Whomever is determined as the winner(s) will receive funds (as determined by the Strolenati) that have collected in the Stimulus Package.
- On Monday, if winners were awarded, the Stimulus Package will be re-established at $40 and the quest will restart.
- The quest will continue in this cycle until such a time that the Strolenati Council has deemed the siege over.
Current Stimulus Package: $40 Next Update: Jul 13 Contributors: Strolen, Murometz
Round 1 completed May 10: 7 Weeks - $280 in Stimulus reserves. Since it was the first round, and the amount was enough to pass around, we decided everyone who took the time deserved something. So sayeth the Strolenati.
Round 2 completed July 6: 8 Weeks - $340 in Stimulus reserves. Incresed funding and a stabilized creative force has allowed some increases in most awards. So sayeth the Strolenati.
|1. Scrasamax - $115
2. Ted - $75
3. manfred - $50
4. Siren no Orakio - $20
5. valadaar - $10
6. Aramax - $10
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