Hail and Well Met, fellow travelers!
I am Lord Gregory Chaunticleer Malory; Bard Extraordinaire, Master of Audiences, Commander of Imagination, Lover of Intrigue, Grand Inquisitor of True Balladry. I awake in my attenders that which they never thought resided in them – may it be Awe or Horror, Love or Loathing – whether Supercilious or Serf! For this, and for many more reasons I care not to proclaim in quill at this juncture, I am also called Rooster!
It is by that name, and with a grand list of titles in Capital Letters, that I am known to the world. Gregory Chaunticleer Malory is the name I reveal to none save it be my heart-linked. If you are reading this, it means you have been included in such a company, and for this I say,
Hail and Well Met, fellow travelers!
I was born of a Princess and her Priest adviser. The liaison was one so besotted with intrigue, machinations, and political and religious maneuverings, that my destiny was to either become a politician or a bard! I chose the less demeaning of the two options – after all, ‘tis better to sleep in a pig’s sty for a night than to become the pig himself, no?
Cast off by my ‘family’ I adopted a new family. The Public! The Merchants, Soldiers, Workers, Beggars, Lords and Ladies; Any and All who deserve to hear my tales of Wonderment and Truth!
My current adventure started, as these things often do, with a search for truth! I had heard tales of a mysterious people thought extinct since the great war against the Old Ones. From the small amount I knew of them, I felt it must have been a Sulestan Tragedy; of the sort to shake the very foundations of mortal emotion!
The Ashada were a peaceful, loving people who had the misfortune to emerge from the aptly-named Lands of the Damned. Elfanoids of Rodentine persuasion, they had prodigious physical prowess and ability, as well as a hybrid Oligarchy-Psionocracy. Vivid and welcoming, their homeland flowed with milk and honey. But, as it always does to edenoid paradises, disaster struck! They were set upon by a legion of the Chaos Armies. The battle ended with all remnants of the Ashada being wiped from existence – or so I believed. I pursued every thread I could suss out of obscurity until I found the Golden Thread – Their true story!
I had heard a rumor that there was an Ashada maiden working in the fabled Library of Bletherad as a scholar. I played my way across the Hinterlands to a Wolfen Port, where I purchased passage for Y-Oda. I arrived weary of the incessant bobbing of the ship, and thankful Fate turned me to Bardish Happiness instead of Sailing.
Her name was as exotic as her parentage, and I learned much from her about the Ashada. They survived, and they had a thriving hidden community! I studied under her for a year, before I started to search more into the disappearance of her people on my own.
Unwitting delving into hidden topics opened a ‘warded chest of Graveyard Wurms,’ so to speak. I discovered magical arts hidden and locked away, only mastered by a very select few – the full list of which can be ticked off of a Rahu-man’s left side. Whether it was Fate or the Will of the Gods, my mind was opened, and I tapped the magical powers, thinking the sing-song incantations and instructions were some form of ancient bardic chant.
Studying a musty tome, and unable to understand the mysteries of it, I spoke the magic aloud, trying to sound it out. I also started picturing the curtains of which the description spoke, to see if that helped my block. As the last syllable left my lips, there was a feeling of waning health in my chest, and a giant wall of shadow made solid pinned me to the floor, where I lay paralyzed for hours.
I deduced that I was the one that created the wall, and it filled the hidden annex I was in for lack of space to grow. I copied the text onto a scrap piece of parchment, and practiced the magic in wooded seclusion, on the slopes of Mount Y. It took a month to recreate the effect – late one evening, as the sun set into the sea.
I didn’t believe the shaft of shadow was truly there, and I started to recite the incantation again, and would have finished the spell again, had it not been for a robin whose misfortuned flight brought it in contact with the Wall of Shadows. With a surge of black lightning converging on the six inch diameter space in the wall around it, its wings and call were stopped – though it sailed through the air at my face because of the speed at which it hit the wall. I stared at the poor creature I had paralyzed, and whooped for joy. There was the proof at my feet: I was a Mage!
I celebrated that night, cutting my beard short again, bathing in the river, and putting on clean clothes. I went to bed late, but the elation woke me early – or maybe it might have been the white-haired song mage. that appeared in my camp, playing a song he later called ’’Freebird’’ on some bloated version of a Lute.
“Ah, you’re finally up! You’re a lazy bag of bones, aren’t you? I don’t know if I want to train you, or if you even deserve to be apprenticed to the One and Only, Master of Music, Sir Thaddeus Quincy!!!” The aged man stood with deceptive litheness as he spoke, and shoved a stiff square of paper under my nose, the art on the card surpassing any craftsmanship I had ever before seen.
“Are you an artist, Sir? Or, no, you said Master of Music. But surely to be a ‘One and Only’ you must be famous enough to have copiers? I’ve never heard your name before.”
“You’re to be forgiven for that, of course, growing up in a backwater dimension such as this one. I have come to save you from yourself… and to teach you the proper way of the Song mage! Have you heard the tale of Osiris’ death?”
We spoke of lore for ages, and didn’t touch magic for a long time. He put a burr in my ear about a people’s hero that would be known by the name CrIsis.
As such things go, the stories would eventually attribute all deeds to a single being, or a single group, though the members would surely change, and some of the lored members in the future might actually be enemies of CrIsis in the present, their grand doings only adding to the novella that is CrIsis’ accomplishments. He told me to watch for them, and that they would be my path to greatness. How he presumed to know all of this, I hadn’t the inkiest inkling, but I promised to myself that if his predictions started to come forth I’d believe it all.
Finally, he touched on why he took interest in me – the Shadow magic. Its secrets had been hidden since the Chaos Wars themselves, and very few masters were alive today. Because of its nature, many groups will try to hunt me down and kill me, just for knowing it still exists! I love making pouty men work!
Thad did not expect me to be excited by the prospect of shady cabals hunting me, but of course most don’t have the spitfire energy of True Bards! The Heroes of the People! Bards dare to spit in Royals’ faces while making them laugh, and make fun of the muscle-bound hordes while giving them entertainment. A few measly assassins do not even curdle my stomach.
He helped me understand another of the Shadow Magic spells, the Shadeshield, which I copied down with the Wall of Shadow spell, and then taught me many other spells that would help me stay alive. He unlocked Song Magery unto me, that the secrets wouldn’t be lost from this world.
The next few years were dedicated to listen to his incessant prattle and big-headed boasting of his accomplishments. “Headlining at the Apollo,” and “Superbowl Halftime,” and “Buckingham Palace 2084 for HRH Kate Middlefield’s funeral,” whatever or whoever that is… But between his meaningless stories, he helped me learn about the Ashada and discovered a widely known but barely understood magic called “Bulwark Magic.” A discipline of its own, it afforded me all of the help I needed to be truly untouchable.
Two years ago, however, after CrIsis had been travelling Palladium for a time, Thad left me, with a small note saying, “I must go, The Nightbane Stir.’’ Since that time I decided it was my time to go, and follow in CrIsis’ wake, increasing knowledge of them, and of course of my fame!
Backalley Brawls, Fields of Battle and Brutality, Mindless Marching between cities… The last 2 years of my life have been more colorful than the previous 38, if that were even possible. In the process of proclaiming the good of CrIsis, I became converted to Thoth. “Ya ca’ne’ embrace a pig withou’ gettin’ dir’y,” as the saying goes. Besides, the story of a God forgetting who and what he once was – and ironically being the God of Knowledge – is one of the most interesting of all! I’ll be most excited to see how it plays out in my lifetime, with the rebirth of Osiris.
I was entertaining a rowdy lot near New Haven, on the waterfront. Late in the night – rather, early in the morning – I limped into bed. No sooner had I slumped down onto the edge of my bed, that a roaring fire leapt into being in my room’s hearth.
The dancing flames resolved into a woman’s face, if a living being’s face could be incandescant red, orange, and yellow, shifting colors as frantically as an ocean churns in a storm. Her eyes fell on me, as icy cold as her visage was hot. “Gregory Chanticleer Malory! If you trust in the Gods, stretch forth thine hand and plunge it into the fire!” As she spoke, her chin lifted, to show contempt for someone who doesn’t believe in beings such as her. Bennu’s voice faded, and her face stilled, save for the motion of the flames, waiting for my response.
Possibly for the first time in my life, I act without a single word uttered. Even I can admit it of myself – I speak at every possible moment. I stood, and strode calmly and confidently to the fireplace. I did, and you weren’t there so keep your opinions. I thrust my hand in the fire, and when I pulled it out, I was no longer in my room.
With a flutter of wings, and the roar of fire blown by wind, Bennu alighted on the grassy slope next to me in the full day of what I can only guess is Ma’ip. “Gregory Chaunticleer Malory, you have been summoned to join CriIis”
I tried to give courtly a bow, at home in any king’s presence, with a fitting flowery Speech of acceptance, but each time I moved or said anything that didn’t start with a ‘Y’ and end with an ‘s,’ she hit me in the back of the head. “Do you accept?” she said, her rage hotter than the fire dripping from her wings to the unscathed grasses at her feet.
Exasperated, I said, “Yes, my -”
“Good. Good bye.” she interrupted, and her liftoff spurred a gust of wind that knocked me backward – onto the floor of a Dead Giant’s Stronghold Throne Room.
>>A Travel Log – a new endeavor – written in the 5th Year of CrIsis, by Rooster; Lord Gregory Chaunticleer Malory; Bard Extraordinaire; Master of Audiences; Commander of Imagination; Lover of Intrigue; Grand Inquisitor of True Balladry, student of Thoth<<
>> Picture 1: Rooster by AZ-Rune Art, commission him at firstname.lastname@example.org