Thursday, May 7, 2020

Revolting Nature

Some post art on their blogs and preempt reader complaints by calling these "Lazy Art Posts"
- Me, I can't offer any apologies - this is what I want to post today...

Trdelniky, not so much the pastry as the odious fictional beasts, the trdla, have been obsessing me of late.  They were the monster baddies in my big fat recent story:     

                                                               The Terror of the Trdlo

I will purge the trdlo soon, but ease out of this obsession gradually, with a Lazy Art Post on the theme of Nature in Revolt, a subject adjacent to the trdlo.

"The Hunter's Funeral Procession" - Mortiz von Schwind via Wikimedia Commons
From Tereza Papamichali dot net
Laibach - The Hunter's Funeral Procession (From the Wunderhorn Trilogy)

And then there is the Third Movement of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1.

Josef Vachal, The Discussion of the Animals With People.  From what I understand -very imperfectly: The animals kvetch that they act as watchdogs, they help people, they taste good to people (!) but what all of them are looking forward to is humans kicking the bucket (lower right corner).

These emotions and situations are asking for gameable treatments.

1. At the dying of every Old Year, the beasts of the Ancient Forest, which is itself only a remnant of a remnant of the archetypal Urwald which stretched over the entire continent before the ascendency of humans, are granted three days grace to travel to the umbilical stone at the absolute center of the wood.  From dusk until dawn on the final three days of the year, all regional animals (and bestial monsters) can speak the Common human tongue (which belongs to no animal, and is thus neutral ground for all animals).  They meet in the clearing around the stone and confer on important matters.  A human without recourse to other magics, who needs information from an animal eyewitness to a dastardly deed, or to the secreting of fabulous treasure, or who wants the answer to an important question, could consult the animals during their rare loquacious interval.  Certain legendary heroes did so.  But the legends also warn that animals are unwilling to speak to, or be seen by humans at this sacred conference, or even in transit. Transgression is likely to rouse the collective wrath of the entire Forest, in all its beasts and spirits.

2. The disunited beasts of the Ancient Forest, and even those of the farms and hamlets of men which border the woods, swell a larger and even more excited congregation around the stone at this year's Year-Turning than any previous gathering.  This year, a leader is rumored to be using the temporary grace of a common language to unite the beasts, despite their differences, and lead them in planning a murderous simultaneous coordinated mass attack and overthrow of humanity's dominion.

3. If the party are animals, elves, or other non-humans, they are, or are mistaken for, expected attendees meeting around the umbilical stone.  Cyrus, the would-be-unifier of the animals, is assassinated in the midst of a rousing anti-human revolutionary speech by a crossbow bolt that "looks and stinks of human manufacture."  The party is slandered as being the culprits, and of being traitors in league with humans.  They have to make their way to their home turf on the outer edge of the Forest, and have to cross thousands of acres filled with now-hostile groups of beasts and monsters to get home.  Yes, this idea is stolen from The Warriors (1979).

4. During the three last days of the Dying Year, farm animals at the Manor Farm at the edge of the Ancient Forest can be overheard plotting in human Common to murder the drunkard minor human noble who runs the place with his human staff.  The pigs seem to be taking a leadership role, and say they have a plan, which requires eldritch magic, large quantities of human blood, and unshakable faith in the animal revolution, to extend the ability of the animals to speak Common for all time.  If that does not work, some of the pigs admit, all animals will have to learn to speak Porcine as a plan B.  Cough! - Animal Farm.

5. During the last three days of the year, animals from all corners of the world stream by moonlight to the clearing at the heart of the Ancient Forest.  They will dance in vast concentric circles around the sacred umbilical stone.  It is said that daring sorcerers can extort terrible knowledge and powers from a forest being kidnapped en route to this Grand Sabbat.  The powers and knowledge to be gained increase in proportion to the ferocity of the beast and difficulty of its capture.  The potential consequences to the red-handed sorcerer for discovery by the assembled animals are even more terrible. For a human to even witness the animals' moonlight transit at this time, much less the sacred circle dance, is forbidden under penalty of death.

6. In the primeval woods, in the deepest night of the autumnal Turning of the Year, the party sees a row of torches approaching through the darkness and trees and hears a peculiar dissonant musical wailing coming closer.  The song sounds like a funeral lament, but it seems insincere.  There is a mocking, festive undertone.    The animals marching on hind legs and singing, some wearing human clothes, stop nearby in a previously unseen clearing (or a clearing which uncannily didn't exist in the daylight) and begin to set up a torch-lit funeral feast. If the party's actions permit, the animals will explain in human Common that they are celebrating the funeral of a greatly-feared, very successful human hunter of the local district.  They will wonder at his foolish arrogance, that he chose to go hunting at the sacred Turning of the Year, when animals' power is greatest, when it was easiest to arrange his demise.  They will go on to say they have nothing against other humans, and invite the party to feast with them.  The meat at the midnight dinner will resemble spit-grilled boar, and will be explained away, if inquired about - "natural lifespan, etc." but if the coffin the animals were carrying is opened, it will reveal the human hunter's body field-dressed like venison, and with several substantial chunks sawed off.  On this discovery, or in any case, when relations with the party deteriorate, or the animals deem the moment ripe, the full community of beasts will attack.  The animals will lose the ability to speak Common, stop using weapons and wearing clothes, and fall back on all fours at daybreak.  They become afraid of fire (even the fire they have been using) and attempt to flee.

No comments:

Post a Comment