The Mug of Balldrick, Vol II – by enderandrew – narrated by Sharm
Hello everyone, this is Asclepius. Once again I am delighted to welcome Sharm to the mic; she is bringing us the conclusion of a fabulous story by enderandrew.
The Mug of Balldrick: Vol II
By Zoe Marie the Bard
I wished my story ended there with King Reginald content and the rangers safe at home in the woods. Sadly, it does not. Everyone knows the fabled Mug of Balldrick is lost, waiting for someone else to claim it. If they knew why, perhaps they would not seek it.
There is power and value in a sword that can slice through a dragon’s hide like paper, or a lute that can sate the appetites of deadly serpents in the sea. Most of these treasures become forgotten trophies in a vault, or only have particular worth when they are used by the king’s armies far from his home. But there is also great power in appeasement. This mug was designed to be used by the king. Always was it in his sight or grasp, and quick was it to bring King Reginald to a sleepy and content state with the whiskey contained within.
His armies slowed their conquest. More frequently they were called home for banquets, parades and revels. Their ruler wanted cause to celebrate and for everyone to see his favorite trophy time and time again, firmly in his grasp. The soldiers were thrilled to return home to their families and see an end to war they thought they might never see. Sages and bards alike praised their benevolent royalty for the foresight not to overextend their reach until they finally lost a major battle.
New maps were commissioned as this mighty empire now seemed to have stabilized. Lines were no longer being redrawn every day. When the cartographers were done, a giant framed tapestry of this new empire was prepared for the royal banquet hall.
But as the king stared at his new empire, his smile faded. There was one stretch of land he surrounded on all sides, but did not claim. There was land within his borders that was not his own. No one knew why, but it led people to question. Furthermore, the surviving neighboring kingdoms were now emboldened and proud. Their lands were too formidable to conquer where so many others fell before them.
Reginald would stare at this map every night while sipping from his precious mug, knowing it originated from these woods he had not yet claimed. If the woods produced his favorite trophy, then what further treasures lay unclaimed? Was he a fool to ignore them?
He commanded his armies to battle one last time. He would claim those last woods and end any debate as to why his empire did not seem whole. King Reginald traveled with his army, ready to use his unique talents to spot any hidden magical treasures.
The armies amassed outside the woods, but they saw no rangers prepared to fight them. For all they knew, there were only the small number they encountered years before. Victory was assured and King Reginald wanted to mark the occasion with a toast to show off his prized treasure once more to his entire gathered army. As he commanded the invasion to begin and then brought the mug to his lips, he uttered “that is quite cold.”
That chill spread from his lips until his entire body froze. A wall of ice began spreading towards his court and army. It bore the mass of a growing glacier, but moved like a hurricane. It became the new inevitability of conquest, replacing the army that once had a similar effect. Within seconds, his entire army was trapped in ice, unable to move.
The small band of rangers emerged from their woods, with a small stampede of animals in front of them. The frozen army shattered before them, ice and blood flooding the edge of the forest. There was another stream of torrential tears from the eyes of the rangers as they laid waste regretfully to the army who had broken their vow.
Some say this led to the name of Bloodriver, and these rangers were the progenitors who would someday become the Elves of Vertas Pass under Obsidian magic. I do not know that.
Nor can I verify the claims that the cursed mug was thrown into the fires of Blackblade Pass, hoping to quench the neverending chill made more potent by the ever-present sense of the grasp of death itself. But I can say that story continues that the reason the mug never ran dry is it contained a portal to an elemental plane of whiskey. The flames of Blackblade Pass supposedly set fire to the entire elemental plane, leading to angry whiskey elementals invading, in turn leading to the cataclysmic Fall.
All I can say for certain is that if this mug is real, the story is quite clear. It was a prized treasure in honest hands, and a deadly curse in dishonest ones.