Chapter 3b: Songs and Stories

In the Spring, after coming back from recruiting Herman, Prochorus begins visiting the market place in Meden as well as a few places where townspeople and sailors visit, to sing and play for their amusement in exchange for stories about the island.

Things are fairly disheartening at first, as most of the mundanes look at him strangely and simply walk by without stopping. At the market place, some of the merchants loudly complain about his presence, saying he is scaring off potential customers. Once or twice, a soldier (presumably in the employ of the Danish lord) tells him to move along. The few times that people actually stop to listen to him, they just shrug as he asks for stories, or throw him a small coin instead. Or a bit of dried fish. "At least," laughs Dietlinde at his expense, "you haven't gotten too many rotten food thrown at you. Yet!"

The small magus perseveres nonetheless, for he gets the impression that a handful of townsfolk may actually be listening. After a few weeks, he gets a first story, although it proves to be nothing more than a joke about an Oberlander being too stupid to know the difference between his favored goat and his wife. Still, there is hope, so he forges on.

His main audience, after more than a month plying the market place, is mostly composed of children and older people. Most of the stories he gets seem to be much like the first, funny stories about those stooopid Oberlanders and their smelly goats. At how they cling to their rocky land 'up there' and don't earn a real living like most do in town. A few sea stories also begin to surface, as well as some tales of religious nature, mostly about Saint Ludger, the patron saint of the island.

Prochorus composes songs about the themes the audiences suggest. "An ode to the Oberland's fairest bleety", "The windy shores of Helgoland" and so on. He hopes to catch the locals' attention by singing about things they know about, and also to show that their stories will be songified if they only share them.

Most of Prochorus' limited audience seem to find the songs that ridicule the Oberlanders hilarious. Unfortunately, at one time you notice that one of those same goat herders passing by during one of his songs, and from the young man's face he didn't find it funny at all. He was gone before Prochorus could finish his song, so the bearded magus wasn't able to talk to him in any case.

Slowly, as the weeks go by, a few stories being to emerge as potential leads to vis sources.

One of those speak of a place not too far off shore where sailors throw offerings in the ocean to appease the spirit of the sea. These offerings usually take the form of baked food, often in the shape of a very small loaf of bread. This is said to decrease the hunger of sea monsters, so that they don't attack those sailing these waters.

There are some stories of such sea monsters. One is about Leviathan, a huge creature that can swallow whole ships. Another about half-men, half-octopi that eat the heart of sailors and are minions of an evil living beneath the northern waves. But also of dolphins that protect sailors from drowning or drive away sharks. Of gulls that made a fisherman rich by dropping a huge pearl into his boat.

Some more stories are about the island itself and its past. Tales of heroes of old who climbed the twin stone pillars, to warn the islanders of pirates sailing to their shores. Another, about those same pillars, saying that those commiting a crime against the King or the gods (sotires vary) would be chained at the top, to die from exposure or eaten by sea birds.

Other stories are more religious in nature. One talks about the Font of St. Ludger's Church, which supposedly can tell whether a man is guilty of murder. Or lifts curses. Or that an axe dipped into its waters can never be touched by evil. Or that one can glimpse a fatherly figure standing over the fountain, at the darkest hours of the night, if one has a worthy heart.

Some say that a witch lives in the marsh on the northern part of the island. Other say it is the burial place of Judas (the biblical figure) and that it is an evil place. Other speak of a strange creature living there, a roiling knot of intermingled snakes that can turn a man to stone.

Those are the tales that Prochorus have gathered at the end of the season.

Prochorus gets together with Herman and Japik. He tells them the stories he has so far.

Anything sound like a vis source? You met one of those octopus things, didn't you Japik? And I wonder about the bread. Seems like a strange coincidence. Anyway, l think the pillars are the best place to start. Once we gather our courage, we could look at the bread. Then maybe the witch. Although that could be a hedgie, and in that case I would rather not know at all.

"Sounds like we need to check the pillars, as we had discussed. And unfortunately, we really should check the Marsh. The bread coincidence is interesting. I wonder if we would get interesting results dropping the ghosts bread into the sea?"

I like that. I think I will focus on the bread first.

Prochorus composes "The Seamonster's Loafing" and goes perform at the docks as before. This time, he casts Posing the Silent Question and asks where the bread is sacrificed.

"Yes I saw one of those octopuses with a manface when i was diving for the sunken ship last summer. The sailors called him Iku-Turso, some sort of demon, or perhaps it was his spawn that he sends out to eat the hearts of sailors. They were very frightened and one of them ran away when I described it." Japik chuckles. "It was quite scary though. It tried to grab for me... but no no. My heart belongs to someone else." the Bjornaer laughs loudly.

Getting more serious again he agrees with the plan his sodales suggest. "I will continuing checking the waters. I'm trying to get some information out of the dolphins living a few miles out of here. Sometimes they know a lot more than you think."

Prochorus perks his ears.

Iku-Turso? That ... is a thing for my tradition, you know. I once met an angry Aquam specialist who worships it. He took the shape of a big pike.

Prochorus pauses, gathering his thoughts.

Some Tietäjä stories say Iku-Turso is a fish-like monster who fathered Väinämöinen himself. This means it is really old - in the order of titans. If Iku-Turso, or something posing as it, resides under the water here with its heart-eating octopus minions, we had better tread carefully.

Japik gives Prochorus a strange look as if he didn't understand half of what the Ex Micellanea said. Then he eases up. "Alright it's quite dangerous. I'll go for a swim then. See ya."

I couple of days or a week later he turns up looking for both Prochorus and Herman. His hair still wet from sea water.
"No sign of the octopus, but it's there or maybe there are many of them. The dolphins fear it, it seems like the octopi like their meat just as much as human hearts."
He contiunes. "I went to check the pillars as well. One red, the other white, straight out of the sea floor. Naturally from what I can see but I think there must be something magical about them. Herman you're pretty good with Intellego Vim aren't you? How about we take a trip out there in a boat? I'll talk to Hjalmar so he can help us borrow a boat and get us there."

"Prochorus, any news from your singing?"

[OOC: Not sure if I should put this here but we had a discussion all three of us here so I thought it might continue.]

(OOC: I'm fine with it. Since this is the thread where all the legends and stories are gathered, it makes sense that it would be shared here. Note, however, that it is late in the season by the time Prochorus has gathered enough stories to share them with the other magi. This may have happened gradually, but it still took him over a month before he was able to get anything of interest.)

Herman listens to to Japik's explanations. "Definitely sounds like we should take a look at those pillers. It sounds like the hard part is going to be getting to the top. While there may be a Vis source at the base, I doubt I can manage to look for it." Herman starts musing almost to himself "The top is the other likely place for accumulation. Maybe a regio entrance, or a pair of entrances, to different aspects of the same regio?" I wonder if there is a hidden access path up the side? Well, I can look." He looks up and nods to Japik.

He then turns to Prochorus. "Just what is a Väinämöinen and do we have to keep an eye out for him?"

Prochorus chuckles.

Väinämöinen is a little like me, I like to think. Whether you need to keep an eye on such characters, well, who is to say. I do know, though, that I could fly you up that rock if you want.

(Not sure where to continue this, maybe a new thread or continuing the Swimming Around thread?)

Japik looks for Hjalmar and asks him to go and find a small-sized boat than can take 4 people at least. Rent it or borrow it for a few days, maybe buying one if it is affordable.

(Is Prochorus planning to look into any of the other stories he gathered?)

(Actually, I think I'll have a look at the gull with the pearl. That sounds like a non-dangerous vis source. I'll try to find out who this happened to. I'll try to remember what the people said, and if they didn't mention anyone in particular, I'll ask more people. If I don't get anything, I'll try to get Dietlinde's gossip about it.)

No one seems to actually know who the sailor would have been, or when that took place. "Probably a tall tale with no reality behind it," Dietlinde says.

Probably. Would have really preferred gulls to tooth octopi and petrifying snakes, though, Prochorus says wistfully.

I'll give a shot at the bread. Did I catch who does the sacrificing?

Sailors. Apparently they throw their offerings into the sea at the based of a rock off some way to the north (beyond the pillars). Mostly in the spring, before the busier sailing season, but some do the same at various times of the year.

I fly over there and see if I can find the spot by myself.

It takes him a few days to find a spot that seems to corresponds to the descriptions he's heard. It's a fairly small outcrop of rock, beaten by waves, at the limits between the deep waters of the sea and the shallower area closer to Denmark.