1223.2 The Story of Tam Lin

The woman in red ran through the forest, and the Elfqueen followed.

Her name was Janet, and she was a virgin mother. Her belly was round and heavy with the babe, and to her bossom she clutched the soul of her husband.

He had found her in the forest, all those crazy months ago, and pushed her into a thorny bush, lest she be seen by the elven host that dallied in the clearing just beyond. He had pushed her, had fallen atop her, and the thorns had made her bleed. In the stories of the Fair Folk, sometimes that was all it took.

Not that any of her family had believed her. Not even when she told them that she had found the elf-guest again a few weeks later. Bastard wouldn't even touch my hand, she thought grimly to herself. Nine moons of this hogswallop and I ain't even been kissed yet.

Behind her, hounds brayed and horse hooves beat the ground, in strange rhythm to the Elfqueen's laughter. The soul she clutched to her chest transformed again, this time into a ravenous wolf that tried to bite at her face.

Janet grabbed the beast by the snout, wrapping her fist around it's maw. All the while, she held it tight to her chest and ran forward down the path. "You had better be good in the sack, Thomas Learmont!"

She had hoped that running water would stop the beasts that pursued her, and so she had turned away from Cill Chuimein and the small church, and headed east, hoping to catch the creeks there. Alas, the fae creatures behind her did not even pause as they splashed through the chill water.

And now her feet grew numb beneath her on top of all her other woes.

The wolf clawing into her belly transformed once more, this time into some sort of lizard-like creature. It was much smaller, and it nearly slipped out of her bloody arms. Janet gripped it fiercely to her body, feeling the warmth of the creature press up against her bare, blood-slick breasts. For a brief instant, she was greatful.

Then the salamander in her hands began to glow with her, and even this she was at first grateful for as her wet feet pelted through the wet grass. She could smell her flesh beginning to sear and char, but still she did not let go.

Perhaps those who hear this story one day will think she it was bravery or pride that kept her from screaming in pain. The truth was that she just didn't have the breath to spare.

Ahead, she saw lights, and could almost make out the sounds of a revelry over her own panting breath. A village! A village, and still awake, celebrating the solstice!

She could not think past the pain to know the name of it. She knew she must be close to the Loch now, but beyond that....

Crushed rock bit into the soles of her feet like a thousand needles, and she fell.

She fell, and her husband fell out of her arms, transforming back into human shape as he rolled across the ground.

Thomas Learmont looked up at the startled covenfolk before him. He had felt himself pass through an Aegis, and that could only mean one thing. "Asylum!" he cried out in Latin. "By Hermes' Oath, I beg you. Asylum!"

Behind them both, horses were stopped short, and hounds let out mewling complaints. Figures in the dark, silhouettes on horseback, brief glints of metal in the firelight behind the recently-completed Aegis.

A voice out of the darkness, sounding like sweet wine on a summer's night purred out its pleasure. [color=grey]"Most unexpected, child. And bold, too. This may cause you as many problems as I would have. Still, fair is fair, and you have won your little prize. Give the wizard his clothes.

This last was said to one of her compatriots. A small bundle of cloth and armor was thrown across the gravel path.

[color=grey]"Fare thee well, young lord and lady." The horses began to turn away, and as they slipped back into the dark chill of the Inchnacardoch, her voice spoke once more. [color=grey]"Ah, I nearly forgot. I pronounce thee: wizard and wife."

As she spoke the words, rain began to fall, growing quickly heavy.....and Janet's water broke.

((her wounds will turn out to have been faerie illusions, rather than create a demand for more corps vis needlessly))

((other players are encouraged to join in now. This wasn't meant to be a prelude thread.))

RET CON! This chapter is now happening in 1223.2 Summer. Ignore all references to snow. She's cold because she's...um....wet. From earlier in the chasing. Yeah, that's it.

Talia cries out to the startled covenfolk, "Get a midwife." When no one moves right away, "The woman is in labor, we have to help deliver the baby. Get. A. Midwife!"

((Perhaps the chiurgeon? My impression was that the covenant was smaller than even Cill Chuimein, so it's possible that we don't even have a midwife. You'd have to run to Cill Chuimein, which is only about a mile, but it's in the direction the Elfqueen just went.))

Janet begins sobbing hysterically and Anne[1] rushes over to comfort her while a midwife is sought. After a second of murmuring, Anne calls out to the other newcomer, "Are you the father? She'd be much eased by your presence." (In Gaelic, assuming that is the local language)

Meanwhile, Thomas picks himself up off the ground, shivering and taking delicate steps, as though the ground hurt his feet. He puts on his clothes as he mumbles to himself, quietly enough that only those nearest can hear him. [size=85]"It's quite natural for them to be more focused on the birth, as I have no visible wounds. My irritation is completely unjustified. Did I just say that aloud?"[/size]

He buckles on a pair of exquisitely polished silver vambraces to his arms as Anne calls out to him. When he responds, the accent of Borderlans nobility is clear in his voice "Madam, I am only their father in the truest sense of the word. What? What I mean is, the girl is half my age and I've never touched her. Which I suppose might appear to be gentlemanly as we've only just been married, given other circumstances. Ah, I see now. I understand."

He steps into the light towards her, and we can see that while his clothes are that of a Laird, his face is covered in the tattoos of House Criamon.

[1]Not claiming the grog, just picking her up for this post. Feel free to use speak through her in yours.

Talia gave birth out at sea with no one but sailors around, and she had to order them about, she'll assist if necessary, and can possibly do some Creo Corpus effects to make the birth easier, or recovery easier. Talia was calling hers out in Latin.

What languages are people speaking?

((I was assuming Gaelic, as the local language. Anne (and, apparently, many of the covenfolk) speaks Latin, but only at 3, so I figured in the stressful event she reverts to native. Thomas replied in Gaelic as well.))

Hearing Talia speak, he crouches down beside her and informs her (in Latin), "This is a completely inappropriate moment for me to introduce myself. Can we get her indoors somewhere, preferably far away from me? What?"

He seems somewhat perplexed.

"I really don't give two shakes about who you are, but as far as going somewhere private, for your wife, we can certainly do that." Talia looks on the unnamed man with something close to scorn, and mutters under her breath about men and babies and how it's always about their needs.

"You're right of course, I'm a complete git. What am I? It's just that I'd like to check on my wife's condition and I am scared to leave the boundaries of your home. Terrified, really. Here, you take her feet, and I'll get her head."

As he lifts her up by the arms, her head tilts back and Janet sees Thomas's face in the firelight. For a second, a look of pure terror crosses her face and then it is gone.

((Com 5 + Guile 3 + Specialty adults 1 + die roll 1 explodes to a 10! = 9 + 20 = 29))

In a truly amazing display of grace under pressure, Janet says loftily, "Pardon me, sir, but I'm quite capable of walking on my own. Be a good lad and put me down, please. Has....has anyone seen my husband?"

((Does Janet/whoever suffer a -3/-6 penalty on Folk Ken rolls to properly understand us? Is that how the mechanic works?))

After a few moments of everyone milling around and looking at each other in confusion, one of the women finally speaks up. "Our midwife left a couple of years ago, before the magus was damned."

((Doesn't seem to be a midwife in the covenant, although it looks like Anne has the skills to get by as one. Checking the covenant build points, we do have an as-yet-unnamed healer, though.))

((It is...that, and (at least in the covenant), a dialect of Latin that many of the covenfolk speak at Level 3.))

Anne looks at Thomas with a look on her face that says "I understand the words you're saying, but they make no sense when you put them in that order." After a moment, she turns back to Janet. "Let's get you out of the rain, someplace warm and dry," she says softly in Gaelic, then guides her toward the Revel Hall (which is more or less right there).

((That's fine. Abandoned grogs are open-source, as far as I'm concerned.))

((Talking about the social effects of the gift? I don't think it applies to Folk Ken.))

((Also, I went ahead and edited the second post in the thread to switch it from winter to summer...hope it's okay.))

((That's who I meant. The leech specialist, who I now realize has higher medicine than Chirugy.))

After Janet dismisses him so incredibly politely, he just stands there in the rain, looking lost in thought.

Janet takes Anne's arm in a "I deign to let this woman help me, but I really don't need it" sort of attitude, and then calmly walks into the Revel Hall, as her contractions begin.

((Yeah, that edit is fine. And yes, I was asking about the social effects of the Gift and his Disfigured Flaw. I'm trying to determine some useful metric for figuring out how Janet reacts to Thomas, beyond my own inherent sadism.)

Thomas notes this for future reference, but says nothing at the time.

As everyone else focuses on the pregnant woman and ushering her into Revel Hall, Thomas is left standing in the rain, completely appalled that everyone ignoring him after he finally managed to get free of the Elfqueen's clutches. It strikes him as ludicrously unfair. He opens his mouth to ask plaintaively What about me?

But instead, the words that come out of his mouth is, "I'm a completely selfish brat, I am. Thinks the world revolves around me. Which is both untrue mechanically and probably somewhat blasphemous."

Stunned and shamed by the words coming out of his own mouth, he bows his head, and enters the Hall.

((Does Talia do anything, either to try to help the woman in labor or to deal with the man standing in the rain?))

Is there a capable midwife substitute, she will step back and deal with the man coming in from the rain. Her Gift would probably make any help offered by her not highly desired.

((Anne has Chirurgy: 4, with a specialization in Children, that should suffice.))

Janet needs to make a Stamina roll, and Thomas and Talia can interact, if they want. Or stand there in the pouring rain...which, much to Thomas's surprise, doesn't seem to have any effect on Talia's clothes.

Talia is dressed in her now traditional imaginary garment, today is a deep royal blue. "What is your story? So far you seem to be a typical man, more concerned with himself than his wife about to go into labor. Had you two talked about how you'll help or had you just presumed she would pop out the child with nary a care? Talia regards the man, "Oh, that's right. You never touched her. She must have mounted you in your sleep and ravished you as you snored.. Talia is speeding in Latin. She doesn't care if he understands the words, the tone is what is important here, to her.

((Janet's Sta 0 + die roll 7= 7))

Thomas opens his mouth to speak but only choking noises come out at first. He pounds on his chest, looking very confused, and then tries again. "My name is Thomas Rhymer, fillius of Gregarious of House Criamon, scholar of the Order of Hermes." He adds this last bit as if uncertain if he needs to. "I have been a capt-..cghkk'ch'hk'kk a guest of the Elfqueen for time unfathomably. I know not even what year it is. The lady cough my wife I have seen only twice before."

((The first italics phrase should sound like the word was stuck in his throat. The second time, the phrase "my wife" gets forcibly ejected from his mouth, coming out like a cough. He does not actually say "cough." This next bit is written in a more flowery prose to indicate that his noble's habit of speech is coming back to him. I expect it sounds quite unnatural in the modern tongue, but the point is that these next few sentences clearly mark him as a member of the nobility by his habit of speech.))

"The first time was, oh it feels like centuries ago. I had stepped beyond the vale wherein her guests did dine and dance, to relieve myself of certain burdens I had acquired during the revelry. I caught the girl seeking to join the revel, and intervened, lest she be lost to the mortal world forever."

Then his voice changes altogether, as his visions take over.

"Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she's gone to her father as fast as go can she
Well, up then spoke her father dear and he spoke meek and mild
"Oh, and alas, Janet," he said, "I think you go with child"
"Well, if that be so," Janet said, "myself shall bear the blame
There's not a knight in all your hall shall get the baby's name
For if my love were an earthly knight as he is an elfin grey
I'd not change my own true love for any knight you have"

He shakes his head and clears his throat. "Sorry, what was that? Anyway, the second time I saw her, eons later, she tells me this preposterous (yet, undeniably true) story. I mean, it felt like years had passed since I'd last seen her, and now she's pregnant? I did not believe her."


Nearly forgot -- when he mentions his name, you get a Reputation Roll to see if you've heard of him. Unclear how Order of Hermes Lore would work into that. Success means that you've heard of him, obviously. Example things you might have heard suggested below. Feel free to make up something similar.

Reputation 5 + Stress Roll vs Ease Factor 9 , OR
Per + OoHLore + die vs EF (12 - Reputation 5) maybe ?

  • "Oh, hey, I think I read a lab text you copied once."
  • Or more gossipy might be, "Weren't you the one who spent 2/5/10/20 years at Durenmar getting paid minimum wage to copy a book? And it took you, like, forever, to finish?"
  • I suppose the book default one is "I heard you passed your Gauntlet and it took 2/5/10/20 years for you to realize you didn't have to do apprentice jobs anymore."

I try to use the "Order of Hermes as a Small Community stuff from the main forums. Haven't had a chance to really work it out yet, but it seems like it might fit for the purposes.

So that would be Int + OoHLore + Reputation 5 + die
vs the Ease Factors listed there.

Should we post that as a House Rule?