[This isn’t going to make much sense – shocking for my blog, I know. I wrapped up a Pathfinder campaign last night, and this was the framing device for the final game – the tale as told by a bard, long after the heroes have vanished across the dunes. Over the next few days I’m going to be focusing the blog into Self-Promote Mode to ramp up to the release of The Riddle Box – which means I’ll be posting more often and also not slapping down random, vague stories and odd snippets – so bonus both ways!]
Sleep in the sand and tell me what you dream
Dance in the air and sing me what you seem
Burn in the sun and draw me what you fear
Drown in the sea and remember me, my dear.
Riddle me lies and cry me bright truths
The unquiet shepherd is dead
Kiss me with cold and hold me with steel
The black and white book has been read.
At the heart of tomorrow in the shade of Forget
We danced in the Eye of the Dream
I see you and steal you and break you alone
Please tell me you hear me scream.
Drown in the sand
Burn in the air
Dance in the sun
Sleep in the sea
But please remember me, my dear.
Oh, please remember me , my dear.
Won’t you please remember me, my dear?
“That’s a strange song,” said the child. “What does it mean?
“It means I’ve had too much to drink,” said the bard, “And you should hurry to fetch me another.”
“But you promised me the tale, the tale of the Six Heroes…and the Titan!”
“Ach – that is a weak song, child. It is shorter than is proper, but still seems tedious. What little sense it has is brittle and shatters like sugar-glass if you lean on it. It has no proper villain, more questions than answers, and it muddles up more than it means. And the ending – sand and shade, child! – it is a preposterous hogwash that even an old talespinner like me has a hard time speaking with a straight face.”
“But…”the child insisted, “It’s my favorite story.”
“Oh, is it now?” the bard’s eye twinkled.”I suppose every story is some poor fool’s favorite story. Who am I to begrudge you yours? Sit down, child – and I will tell it then. I will tell the tale of the Descabellado, the Bastard Sands – of the Wind Thief, the Blank-Face Beauty, the Frog Knight, the White Wanderer, the Furious One, and the Unknown Gunner. I will tell the tale of the Titan, of the Red Sword. Now lean in close and listen, for this tale is not often told and the sun hungers for night…
[And here the whole campaign happened. Highlights include the party accidentally destroying two sites of holy power on the same day, a machine city ruled by psychic dragon cultists, awkward sexual liaisons with said psychic dragon cultists, a prolonged period of several weeks that may have been a dream, a robotic turkey mount with laser eyes, lots of talking, murder, unexpected betrayals, more talking, and a final battle against an insane Void Dragon where half the party died and continued to fight the beast in the Spirit World. You know, D&D stuff. ]
During the story, a group of children gathered to hear the bard. For all his protestations, he told it well and they were spellbound until the last words fell as the Titan vanished from the world of mortals.
“…and that is the end of my tale, if any tale can truly be said to end.” the bard concluded, and took a long swig from his wineskin.
“But, wait – I still don’t understand” said a dwarven child. “ What did it all mean?”
“It meant what it means,” the child who has demanded the tale in the first place retorted. “Stories don’t need to mean anything.”
“But what about the Heroes, what happened after?” an elven girl with red hair scratched her nose.
“Oh, so demanding!” the bard chuckled. “Proper tales don’t usually have epilogues, but this is hardly a proper tale. Tell you what – each of you can ask me one question. And I promise I’ll only lie twice!”
[Here the players took on the role of the gathered children and asked their questions about the future of their world. Their secrets are their own, and I will not share them here.]
The children quickly thought of more questions and they begged and pleaded with the bard to answer them, or to give them hints about which were the lies and which were the truths. He only took a long draw from his wineskin until the last dregs were gone and laughed all the harder as he pushed his way through the crowd of children.
“Decide for yourself, young ones. That’s the best way. If there’s any moral at all, I guess that’ll have to do!”
The halfling pulled up his ratty cloak and stumbled out into the street, still laughing. He left the children and the questions all behind and whistled a strange tune to himself as the shadows of evening settled on his back.