A Stranger in the Traddlebow Arms
Prologue to “The Book of Grumby”
By Rick Merriman as Grumby
“The name is Grumby, but I ‘spect the barkeep already told you that.
“No, no, I dinna have any form of the magic arts. I ‘eard ye ask some questions when you came in, and naturally, since the Traddlebow Arms employs a scribe, they would send yer to me.
“I must say, stranger, that ye do look familiar. Mayhap we have met in the past?
“No. I see. Well, I ‘spect the cereal in me head is getting a might soggy. Comes with age, don’t ye know, and I be near 400 Seasons. But I must say this forgetting thing seems to be recent… can’t ‘member when ‘zactly. Well, who knows how the Mothers and the Fathers work their magic on us, but are ye sure we have not met, mayhap in Hob… or Permia?
“Nay? All right then, if ye say so.
“Yes, yes, ye can ask yer questions now. But before ye ask ’em, I should let ye know that the seven Mothers must be looking out for ye, because I not be the typical scribe that ye would ‘spect to find in any tavern across the land. Nay, I am Sage. The Sage of the Sap Wars, if truth be told. Or at least, I will be if I ever finish ‘The Book of Grumby.’ But never you mind ‘bout that, ye had some questions. What be they?
“What! Did ye ask what a Sage is?
“Hmmm. I must say that I’ve been asked many a question over the seasons but ‘ave never been asked that one – just what part of Cathall do ye say you hail from?
“Aye – ye didn’t say, did ye. I see. But not from Cathall I ‘spect. Mayhap that ‘splains it. But I did think that Scribes and Sages were found in even the furthest reaches of all of Mernac.
“Never you mind that, I am a Sage, or will be, and it is my duty to answers yer questions – with a tale or legend. You see, that is what the class of Scribes do. They research, record, and then tell the tales of all of what has happened in all of Mernac. Aye, that is what we do. Now, there is more to Scribes than that o‘course. I’m sure you’d be interested in finding it all out – but first I must get a drink, me pipes are a bit parched, if you know what I mean.
“Ummm, yes, a drink would be good.
“I say a drink would be… yer just not understanding, are ye?
“Hmmm. Well, it seems the first thing I need to tell you about Scribes and Sages is that if they ever say anything about wanting a drink – it is our polite way of saying, buy me a drink. It is how we are paid, don’t ye know.
“Ah, the sunrise travels to the mountaintop, as they say. I see ye are understanding now. And yes, thank ye, I would like a drink. Kind of ye to offer. A lavender honey mead would do nicely, a Permian Brandy would be even better if ye can spare the coin.
“Oh, one of each would be lovely! Thank ye. ‘Course, Permian Brandy is best served at the end of a fine meal, don’t ye know. And as luck would have it the Traddlebow Arms serves the best White Doe Loin in all of Greater Gilmore.
“Oh, what an unexpected offer, you are a kind patron aren’t ye. I’ll be sure an’ give you a few of me finest tales tonight – and as the Sage of The Sap Wars – or soon will be, I have some wonderful ones. First things first though. Let me get the serving wench.
“Well Sallion, my, my, don’t ye look fetching tonight! By the Mothers, if I were but a few seasons younger I think I would…
“All right, all right, Sallion, I’ll get to the point. This kind soul has offered to buy me your finest White Doe Supper. Aye, make it well cooked, I want the skin to be as black as cinders; ye know how I like it. And Sallion, top it off with a bottle o’ Permian Brandy and let’s start off with a couple o’ Lavender Honey Meads, one for each of us – better make that three of the mead, me pipes are a bit parched tonight.
“Yes, yes, Sallion, ‘parched every night,’ go on with ye. By the Fathers, wench, it’s no wonder yer not married! You’ve got quite a sharp tongue on you, don’t ye, now. Aye lass, matches yer fiery hair. Hair not unlike me own daughter Nola, but by the Fathers yer temperament is five-fold more fiery than my Nola’s, and she be a Dwarf like me – we are the ones that are s’posed to be curt, not Elves like ye!
“Now friend, where were we?
“Hmm, I see where yer eyes have found their mark, and a nice one it is. O’course with Sallion I understand, the only thing more attractive than that ample Elfin bosom of hers is the sway of those wonderful hips as she walks away from ye, if ye see what I mean. Praise be to Kanola I wish I was a hundred seasons younger, ten even, because ye know what they say about the single women of Gilmore. I remember one time, there was this raven-haired wench who…
But I d’gress. So what tale would ye like to hear?
“Nay. I see that you are not. Well, I not only know of Mootill, I met him. Him and the other Champions of Mernac. We have shared many an evening fire together. By the Mothers, I even had some adventures with them during the Sap Wars. I ‘spect that’s why they chose me to be the Sage of The Sap Wars, or I will if I ever get the “Book of Grumby” finished! But on Mootill, that part is already written. Let me look in my bag – I think I have the parchment with me.
“Ahh, here it is.
“What did ye think? “Glad ye liked it. Did ther Bone dust ‘elp ye in the reading.
“What! Praise be to the Mothers. Ye never ‘ave been to a scribe before ‘ave ye. The bone dust is what make a scribes parchments ‘agical. Scribes parchments are all infused with bone dust when they be made. Makes it so the words or concept ye don’t understand glow a marvelous shade of teal. That way if you hover yer finger over them it pops a short description inta yer mind. And If ye press yer finger on the word it will give yer a more detailed d’sciption. Wonderful thing is Dragon bone dust. Many uses, but I think this is the best.
“So ye would like to hear more ff Mootill and Arumbus is it then? Right. Ye be in luck, that be my specialty and what I hope will one day be the set of tales that make me the Sage of The Sap wars. The Tale starts with Mootill, ‘course, we all know that. Now ‘fore I tell the tale we got ter know the ‘where.’
“The ‘where’ is the parchment that tells of the place where a tale occurs. Onus Brushstroke was fond of sayin’ “A Legend without a where, tis like a bard’s song without a tune”. He be right, too. We scribes and sages be ‘quired to always have the main ‘where’ written ‘fore we tell a Legend.
“I said the Oontrill Shrine… friend? Ah I see yer have spotted the young serving wench. Pretty thing, that one. But I see ye ‘ave a’ready noticed that. Here she comes with the mead you was kind enough to offer.
“Should I git the parchment on the Oontrill Shrine fer ye?
“Hmmm, I ‘spect I will just leave it on the table fer ye. I ‘magine ye will have an interest in it after the wench stands back up after deliverin’ our mead.”
“Now ye know the ‘where’ of how the tale of Mootill started. Least ‘tis where I think the ‘portant part of the tales starts. Aye, many a tale ‘sides this one also start at the Ontrill Shrine.
“So friend, if you are asking about Mootill I ‘spect you want to hear about the Sap Wars in general. It all started with but a single decision; a decision that Mootill had to make ’bout what was right! ‘Bout what he thought was right is more to the point.
“Ye, I am sure, already know it, but seeking your personal truth is always what drives your decisions and poor Mootill was no different, and at a young age he ‘ad a difficult one to make. Aye, quite difficult indeed.
“Now, I think we ‘ave enough time before our sup gets here to tell the tale. Would you like to hear how it happened? How Mootill’s decision that day changed his destiny, nay, the destiny of all of Mernac!
“Aye, I thought you would.
“Nay, I am not going to pull out a scroll on this one.
“Ye have never been to a scribe before, have ye? No, I didn’t think so. Well, we do document all the tales and history of Mernac and, aye, it is done on parchments. But for the important ones, the “Legends” us scribes call them, these are not to be read; these are meant to be told. ‘Course that is why Sages and Scribes are always employed by taverns such as the one ye are sitting in today. For there is nuttin’ better than ‘earing a good tale as ye whet your whistle with good drink.
“So are ye game? Good, let me show you how it works. Let me stand on the table here and get some attention.
“Good folk of the Traddlebow Arms, I be Grumby, the Sage of the Sap Wars. May I have yer kind attention. This fine new friend of mine has purchased a number of tales tonight by buying me sup and a few drinks. And as the tradition goes, all in the tavern are welcome to listen. Please pull up yer barrels and benches. Bring yer drinks and enjoy the telling! If ye feel the storyteller, that would be me – does a good job, by all means buy him a drink or leave a few pieces of silver on the table. But the most important thing is to enjoy and learn, for ‘tis our history.
“This night we will hear a Legend on making a decision. Nay, not one but many that had to make a decision. Ye that frequent this place know it well… tis one of me favorites. Aye, the decision that changed the world you and I live in is what we will tell tonight.
“It is the decision of Mootill, the Goldenfur and if he should become the leader of his people. From the best of my research it starts something like this…”