Friday, 10 September 2021

Cinniúint Mc’ill'Oig

Cinniúint Mc’ill'Oig

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats

A farmer's son, Cinniúint desired more than what appeared his due. Life in the foothills of the Rakers was tedious, at best; truth be told, he thought it a prison of drudgery and toil. He gazed out upon the flats below from his high, windswept perch, imagining he saw the distant coast, and dreamed of far-off lands, and deeds of daring-do and maidens fair, like those in the sagas Isin sang, and Riichi preserved on his parchments, tales of evil wizards and dragons that ruled frozen landscapes.

Why do you listen to such foolishness, Gurrda Mc’ill'Oig argued? They are nothing but lies, his father claimed. We Flan have always been as we are, he said. And: Be content with what bounty Beory hath bestowed on us.

But Cinniúint was anything but content. He was destined for better than a life of tilling soil and dirty fingernails, he believed. He had a quick and nimble mind. And he knew that his father was wrong about their people’s lot. Isin and Riichi had said those tales of ancient Flan heroes and villains were true, and Cinniúint believed them. He had seen Riichi’s parchments with his own eyes, even if he could not read them. They were old, near crumbling. Ancient, Riichi said; and Riichi should know; hadn’t the hedge wizard travelled to Marner and read the Aerdian histories that told those very same tales of Vecna and the Ur-Flan, and of the hero, Gethrun Shoiraine, who had delivered the Flan of fabled Tostencha from Keraptis’ tyranny?

He hounded the hedge wizard to teach him letters. But Riichi rebuffed him, knowing Gurrda’s mind. Cinniúint would not be dissuaded. The boy snuck into Riichi’s hut and found his books of alchemy, and somehow taught himself to read. And then recited what he had learned to the astonished Riichi. Riichi relented, reluctantly. He quickly discovered the boy's abilities surpassed his own, and sent word to the only true wizard he knew, who promptly arrived and took the boy away to Marner.

Young Cinniúint
Cinniúint was inducted into the Scholars of the Arcane, under whose rigorous tutelage he learned discipline. And there he remained until word arrived that the northern borderlands were being raided by the euroz, and that adventurers were being gathered to put an end to them. He asked the deans if he might be given leave to answer the call. They advised him against the enterprise. You are not ready, they said. He persisted. They relented.

Cinniúint travelled north, finding companions in need of a wizard once he arrived in the small town of Riverport: an elven and human rogue, two fledgling fighters, and an acolyte, each as bent on adventure as he. They set out into the Rakers, but instead of daring-do and maidens fair, they found danger and death in the ancient temple that had pressed a menagerie of evils to their design. Only three survived their adventure into those caves of chaos. Three Fools, they named themselves for their folly. And it was that name that they came to be known.

Never Again...

Cinniúint vowed he would never venture into the wilds so ill-prepared again. Who had built the red temple in the depths of the caverns where his companions fell, he wondered? They had kept silent about their aims and beliefs, fanatical they surely were, as they neither asked for, not gave, quarter or mercy. He returned to Marner and studied those ancient texts available there. Half-remembered names from his childhood flew off the pages: Tostencha, Skrellingshald. Vecna, Keraptis, and Acererak. Slerotin. Zellifar. Roghan and Zelligar. Merely mentioned in those tomes, he discovered more perusing weighty, dusty, tomes in Red Mord and Rel Astra and Rauxes. Clues led he and the other Fools, Jondhan Amar and Scáthú Urithi, into the Timberway and Loftwood forests, the Rakers and Griffs, and up and down the Grendep and Solnor coasts, raising ever more questions. He dove deeper, and learned the names of supposedly long-lost gods, The Elder Eye, and the Elemental God. They were far from dead, he discovered. And far from forgotten.

And then, one day, the deans called him into chamber. A son of a Fruztiian jarl, one Hradji Beartooth, had arrived with questions about fabled Skrellingshald.

They asked if Cinniúint might meet with him.

Skrellingshald, he asked? Did he say Skrellingshald?

"Apparently wizards poke their noses in everywhere!"
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Umber Hulk Ambush, by Dean Kotz (?), from Into the Borderlands, pg. 334, Goodman Games, 2018

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