The aged man knelt in the center of a clearing staring down at the ground. After a moment, he gently pressed his finger into the inside edge of a muddy track, barely touching the pooling water in the paw print. He raised the finger to his mouth and tasted the water. “Stylo, here!”
A young boy behind him, who was scanning the area, stood up gracefully and weaved his way through the tangled grasses towards the call. His feet moved lithely as his silent feet carried his hunched frame through the afternoon drizzle. He would be tall if he stood upright and the lack of facial hair was evidence of his youth. He knelt next to the man facing the same direction.
“You can see the color shift of the grasses where the wolf came through, bending them off center from the rest. If you look closely, you can see some of the disturbances from the other wolves as well.” The elder man motioned and pointed to three other trails of disturbed weeds and grass.
Stylo stared intently at the evidence as it was pointed out. Rickso was the best mystic tracker in the area and Stylo heeded his words well. Stylo had shown a natural ability early but only became his apprentice a few months ago. Long enough to understand many things Rickso taught but not enough experience to do it on his own. So far, all the tracking he had done was natural. But such is the way you learn and he obediently nodded as he identified the tracks Rickso pointed out.
“But this one...” Rickso pointed at the muddy print as he stared at Stylo until he made eye contact, “This is the one we hunt. This is the one that killed. Normally we would track through this terrain using the knowledge of the land but sometimes, as this rain continues to obscure the signs, it can be difficult to keep up. One may have to stop and study the land for too long. It is then we will use the power. As you continue to learn the natural techniques, the mystic track can be used as often as you wish to enhance the natural. Combining both skills allows the natural to become more obvious and you will quickly gain mastery and easily exceed the skills of the greatest natural trackers.”
Stylo nodded silently as he slowly let the pressure build in his chest as he was taught. This could be it. This could be the moment when he is shown mystic tracking. Stylo knew the procedure and was thankful it was raining. Would save the time of filling up the track and waiting for it to absorb the magic. As it was, there was a fair bit of rainwater in the track’s depression. Plenty for a solid reading.
Rickso repeated instructions that Stylo almost knew by heart. “After you ingest the trail, you must concentrate entirely on the taste. As the various flavors are exposed you must concentrate on the lives that the water has touched. In some cases there will be a few, different animals in passing, you have to bring them forward and shift through your vision and dismiss those of no interest. Let them fade and enhance the next taste. The next texture. There will always be more than one and sometimes you might be surprised with what you see. Be prepared. When you start, you may miss it or let it go too fast, just allow the taste to wash over you again. Be patient.”
Stylo had practiced before on his own, without success, to prepare for this moment. He wouldn’t embarrass himself by choking or spitting any of it up. With a brisk exhale, he bent over, jammed his lips through the water and into the paw track and inhaled as much of the water as he could. The additional grit and dirt and pieces of grass jumped into his mouth as he made a couple attempts at slurping all he could. The more he could get, the more strength it would hold.
Stylo pushed himself up to his knees as he held the water in his mouth. He concentrated on the pressure in his chest. Adjusted the mixed liquid in his mouth. The hand of Rickso settle on his shoulders and suddenly the pressure in his chest turned into a warmth that flowed up through his throat. He could feel the magic inside him. The way it formed from below the sternum and pushed the power through his throat mixing with the water in his mouth as the first vision came into focus in front of him.
A small rabbit, barely visible nibbled on something invisible next to the track. Swishing of the fluid in his mouth. A new grit. It quickly faded replaced by a small male robin landing in the water filled print and pecking at the dirt. Just for a moment before flying off. Swish, a new texture. A giant stag with tips in the dozens was suddenly standing almost on top of him. Stylo’s surprise from the size, clarity and nearness almost forced him to back up. He maintained his concentration, barely. Concentrated on the next taste. The next texture. Then something did hit, almost an actual force. It appeared in motion running between him and Rickso. Through the grass. Not looking back. The taste of blood lingered on his tongue as it moved on. The black wolf.
Rickso reacted to the extended tension in Stylo. “That’s it. Concentrate on that. Feel the liquid, concentrate on the taste, the texture, and match that with the vision you saw. Connect them. The taste. The texture. The vision. Let them roll to your chest. Feed the sensations to the magic.”
Stylo concentrated on the taste as the black wolf passed out of sight in the tall grass. As his mind fixated on the specific texture and taste again, the large wolf arrived with a force, but smoother, and it retraced the same motions of a moment ago. Stylo smiled as he tasted the wolf yet again and it returned and repeated the motions a third time.
Stylo stood up, in control, and watched the black wolf move. He watched the grass fold away from him. Watched the weeds bend over to make room for his paws. He melded the motions and the actions to the real life foliage around him. The taste. The texture. The vision. Reality. It all folded together in a crisp vision of the black wolf’s path. Stylo stood up and followed it with confidence.
Rickso took a handful of mud from the wolf’s paw print, loosened the sword by his side, and followed close behind.
I imagined this as an innate power that somebody would have, but a spell would be just as handy.
Maybe hard liquor or beer can give an increase or a different kind of vision? Perhaps being drunk magnifies the vision...while making it a bit difficult to remain standing..
- The magic requires that the liquid is drank out of the tracks of the person or animal they are trying to track.
- The strength of the tracking can depend on many things; age of track, length of time the water is in the track, how much they drink. Overall: random.
- You could do it with dry dirt but it isn’t as effective.
- If you put water in the dry track and let it rest, the longer it soaks the more powerful and long lasting the vision works.
- Shoes limit it a great deal but a skilled mystic tracker can accomplish it. Skilled mystic trackers have the experience to get more out of less.
- The magic allows the person to see whatever made the track in a faded image that is more vivid based on the strength. As time passes the image continues to fade until they need to recharge by drinking from another print.
- It isn’t the amount of times or distance that causes the image to fade but the loss of the ability to pair the taste and texture of the magic to the vision. Longer in your mouth, the less the original taste can be separated from the rest.
- Keeping the water or dirt in your mouth longer can prolong the visions if you are skilled. Any talking will disrupt the spell.
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.
|Round 1||Round 2|
|1. Scrasamax - $115|
2. Ted - $75
3. manfred - $50
4. Siren no Orakio - $20
5. valadaar - $10
6. Aramax - $10
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? Responses (3)
Special concoctions to improve the ability - not just alcoholic beverages - seem an option. Perhaps the more powerful ones come with drawbacks such as toxicity which need to be considered. Has a bit of Witcher feel to it.
Actually got the idea a dozen years ago when I met Hurin in the Wheel of Time series. He tracked the smell of violence. I liked the premise of that so wrote a note about this. But I won't argue with you.
I enjoyed the tale, nicely written. And the concept is pretty original!