Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, and once again I’m delighted to have Sharm with us; she is bringing us a great story written by enderandrew. Background music is “Priscilla’s Song”, by Sharm.
Tales of trophies, kings and powerful magics are certainly as old as time. One such tale proves that idiom for it predates The Fall and persists today. As I travel from tavern to tavern, I hear boastful claims of adventurers confident that they one day can lay claim to the elusive prize that is the Mug of Balldrick.
It has been missing for so long, most have forgotten its powers. Not that I think they care. Everyone knows of its fame, and people hope to reap such fame for themselves. Equally they forget the mug’s fabled origins.
Thankfully, I am a bard and can share the tale with you.
King Reginald was a feared and respected ruler, not only because of the army he commanded, but because of his ability to grow and expand his kingdom. Where other armies sought to siege, subjugate and melt down gold treasures from their previous owners, he had more acquired tastes.
He knew each society had their own heirlooms and magics, frequently more valuable than gold. Try as people might to hide them, he could always ferry out what mundane looking object held untold powers. He would demand these items in exchange for sparing lives of the conquered.
He was not a cruel tyrant, and word quickly spread that he could take the totems and treasures of each town and add them to his own strength. His banner on the horizon represented the inevitable conquest that would come tomorrow.
So as his scouts entered foreign woods, they were stopped by an ambush of forest rangers. They surrounded the scouts, but did not draw blood. One of the rangers stepped forward to speak. “I know you by your banners. Where scouts may enter, armies will surely follow. Let us return together to your king where I might negotiate for peace before war ravages these woods I have sworn to protect.”
Return they did to King Reginald where the situation was now reversed. The small number of rangers had their swords bound in peace cords and now found themselves surrounded by a large contingent of the royal guard. Still the ranger spoke with confidence.
“King Reginald, your fame has reached my woods though your armies have not. You shall not enter my woods, and I will have you swear it.”
Stunned silence filled most of the hall, save for the King himself who guffawed. “Who are you to make demands of the most powerful ruler in all the lands?”
“I am but a humble servant who has made an oath, but I know you have an appreciation for powerful magic. I assure you, an unbroken vow is powerful indeed. Heed my words, and you shall be rewarded with a powerful boon that eclipses all your other relics collected to date.”
The King was not taken back by this boldness or warning. Instead avarice filled his eyes. “You realize of course that telling me you have such a relic just means I will double my focus on your woods. My armies will swarm them and you will not be able to hide whatever relics you possess from my grasp.”
This time the ranger smiled. “That is where you are mistaken, your highness. The powers of the forest will be extinguished by broken vows, striking out with great vengeance. The cost to your mighty armies will be costly and you will return with nothing but husks of the relics that once were. But if you make a vow to me, I can capture that essence. A wish is the second most powerful magic in existence. And since your word holds such weight, I promise you a magical boon unlike no other in your collection. Tell me your desires and I shall shape it!”
The King was curious now. “And what if this is all some ruse to keep me at bay?”
The ranger was offended at the mention of dishonesty. “Surely you can feel that my magics are fueled by honesty. I would not sully them with lies. Swear to me your army stays out of my wood, and I shall return in one month’s time with your desire. If I do not keep my word, then send your armies then.”
The king was somewhat skeptical and with so many powerful treasures, he did not want for much. He wanted a symbol, a trophy he could keep at his side at all times. He demanded a magical mug that would never tarnish or fade. It would always be full of the finest whiskey and remain cold in the hottest days. With it, he would always be prepared to toast and celebrate the might of his kingdom.
The ranger departed and returned exactly one month later with a gorgeous mug who truly had no equal. It was cold to the touch even in summer air, and as the king raised it to his mouth, it filled with the finest whiskey he had ever tasted. He gave an exalted “huzzah” as his court toasted to him his newest treasure.
The ranger departed without another word and merely retreated to his woods.