Author Topic: Jarmok's Sabbatical  (Read 193 times)

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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« on: July 29, 2005, 01:22:43 PM »
Duthash Albyr Basque [May 5th] (Evening)
Jarmok was freightened. And bewildered. And satisfied. And pleased.

It had been a day of reckoning for the rat-man. The children were once again safe, now in Ashe's care to have the poison sucked from them again. Jarmok was glad to have been a part of bringing Rawling to justice ? it should serve as a recompense to the people of Threshold for the sheep that he had eaten on the far side of this past Venric.

But he couldn?t escape the reality that he had turned himself into a wolf. The thought reverberated in his mind. He had turned into a wolf. The obvious connection between this happening and his recent odd dreams was immediately drawn, of course. It explained his awakenings in odd places. He supposed that the logical continuation of that line drawing was that he was not limited, as Rawling had appeared to be, to morphing into only one animal. Jarmok, in a dream, had been some kind of bird. That?s when he had awakened in the tree.

Another night he had been a wolf ? the tracks around his cabin bore mute testament to that. Once again, he was some form of cat; a lynx, perhaps? Whatever the case, the rat-man appeared to be only able to turn himself into a rat, and the sickened children likewise had only rat-like forms. Jarmok had many forms that his body might take, or so it seemed.

His first fear was that he had been sickened like the children. But cold logic washed that fear away like a chill waterfall. When Jarmok had turned earlier into the wolf, he still thought like himself. He was still aware of himself and in control. Proof of that was his returning to his own person in a time that he desired. The rat-kids had stated that they did not have control over themselves. They had likened their sickness and their actions to being trapped deep within their own bodies, unable to dictate their own actions.

Not so with Jarmok. In his waking moments, Jarmok was in control of his own actions, even while in animal form. He was not sick, then. This was just another aspect of his being, he supposed. He wondered idly if others of his kind could do that. There were some in Threshold now who might know the answer to that, he realized. The gypsy girl had indicated that she knew others of his race; he felt as though he could trust her?

The fact that Jarmok had turned into this wolf out of pure desire suggested that he might have control over this?ability. He would have to investigate that. But not now. The change had given him a rather severe headache, and left him nauseas and tired. He would rest until Kossuth should rest. Tonight, he will venture out of Threshold to investigate this new ability of his. He needed to learn to control it, and as it must be an aspect of his nature, he would surround himself in nature ? where he felt most comfortable anyway ? to learn of it. He would return to his cave home where Mercer had found him. In that isolated place in the mountains around Little Threshold he might find the peace of the earth to teach him how to control this shape-changing.
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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2005, 04:24:25 PM »
Wolves were remarkable animals, Jarmok thought. They were tough and tireless, their noses were keen to the point where he thought it must be preturnatural. Running through the forest in that form was in its own way as exhilerating as flying through the night sky had been.

The forest odors had been the most surprising flood that Jarmok had endured; one of the first things that he noted had been the scent of the stag that he had heard late the day before. Deer had always carried a bit of a musky smell to Jarmok, but in this form, the beast that had visited him smelled fresh and clean. It was a stag and it was huge too. He wasn't sure how he knew that, but he was certain that he was a magnificent animal.

But that was then and this was now. Now he loped easily down the mountainside through the thick fir trees; over yew saplings and around or under brambles. The morning breeze carried in the upper limbs of the various trees and Jarmok fancied they were speaking with eachother, almost as if he could hear a chorus that before had seemed like nothing more than noise.

New-born flowers and leaves released a scent upon the air as well. He supposed that this was how they attracted insects and birds.

Jarmok had a fair degree of difficulty in calling himself to his morning's task: to investigate the lightshow that he had witnessed the night before. Upon reflection he realized that it had to have taken place in or near Little Threshold, which meant that many people would have been witness to it. They would likely be looking for him this morning.

He heightened his pace.

As he neared Little Threshold from the westwall, another scent caught his attention: it was another wolf. A very large one. Jarmok halted and stood stone still, inhaling deeply. It was a large male wolf. Clean. Healthy. That small part of Jarmok's mind that took odd notes at odd times reflected inquisitively on how much information might be gleaned from a scent. He pushed the thought away for consideration at a later time.

But as he pushed at the thought, it mutated and poured forth in another, more tantalizing idea: he wondered if the wolf that he smelled could smell him? And if so, did that wolf know that Jarmok was not a wolf? Did that put him in more danger or less?

The short gruff behind him told him that the answers were not only moot at this point, but they would also be answered shortly. Jarmok turned his head and kept his tail down. There, standing not a dozen paces behind him, was the largest grey wolf that he had ever seen.

He was beautiful. Jarmok's nose told him that this newcommer was not a threat - the animal was calm and, while he was not overly friendly, neither was he menacing.

Jarmok turned towards the wolf, careful to not look directly into the animal's eyes, and gruffed back to him. He then sat down and looked away from his visitor. This was wolf language for "hello".

"Hello." The stranger replied.

"I don't mean to trespass." Jarmok told the wolf, laying down and making slightly apologetic near-whines.

"You are not." The wolf answered, also laying down and pawing at the ground.

Jarmok rolled upright again. "You do not live here?"

The wolf growled a little. "I am here newly. I think I am going to stay, though.

Jarmok sat up straighter. It appeared that the new wolf was the trespasser, not he. Not that it mattered. "I am here since before the cold."

"I travelled here through the cold."

"Welcome to this forest." Jarmok stood tall. "There is room enough here."

"Thank you." The new wolf answered, whining lightly.

Jarmok bounded away a step, then turned back to the new wolf. "I must leave." He said. "I have cares to tend to."

"As you will." The wolf answered formally.

"By Mahiya's will, we shall meet again." Jarmok barked at him as he bounded away towards Little Threshold.

The wolf barked back: "I have no doubt, wolfish."

Jarmok smiled: his question had been answered. There was indeed a wealth of information that could be conveyed in a scent.
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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2005, 11:36:30 AM »
The hare had expired upon impact, which was good as Jarmok was rapidly feeling less well and a kicking hare would no doubt imbalance him all the more. This night's peculiar happenings would bear some investigation, but not tonight. He was too spent tonight. He would look into it tomorrow and go and talk to the others in the Protectorate.

He began to waver in his flight, but it was not much further to his cave; he began his descent, lowering his tail feathers for stability and cupping his broad wings.

He glanced for one last time at the stars, now familiar to him as friends. His sharpened eye alit upon a particularly red star that he had never noted before. He pulled up abruptly, correcting himself: that was no star. He didn't know what it was, but it was moving, like a large, mis-colored shooting star (he had taken to watching those in the long Venric nights with Mercer). But this was more constant, not as fleeting as a shooting star.

He hesitated for a moment then, torn between keeping his eye on this visitor and landing at his cave, now just below him. A sudden cramp in his back made the decision for him: he had to land.

He dropped the hare to lighten his load, and came down more swiftly than he would have hoped, alighting with jarring force upon the ground and tumbling, shifting back into himself, he came to an unceremonious halt laying on his back and staring up into the night. Some of the stars that he saw were inside of his now aching head, he knew.

He was more exhausted than he could remember ever having been. His fire had burned down to a warm bed of embers and he forced himself to sit up (painfully) and rekindle the flames.

He poured water from his skin over his head and drank of the stream tumbling over his face. The cool of the water alleviated the throb in his head somewhat.

As tired as he was, he needed to eat, which is why he had taken the hare in the first place. Jarmok was the sort that needed a lot of sustenance. He would routinely eat four or five times a day, and would often snack as well. As of this moment, he hadn?t eaten anything since the previous evening near dusk, and it was now past midnight and into tomorrow.

As he mechanically performed the prosaic task of preparing his rabbit, Jarmok thought long and hard on this night. He couldn't recall ever having felt such joy. Flying was a sensation that everyone should experience, and, he came to think, that everyone had that ability within them.

Of course, he reminded himself, perhaps only his own people had it in them. He had never heard of such shape shifting before, and were it either commonplace or rare (in that someone in the area might have evidenced this ability in the past) he thought that Mercer would have spoken on it at some point.

Whatever the case, it was an experience that breathed new life into Jarmok, as much as it left him piqued. Despite that fact, he knew that he would enjoy shape shifting in the future. What it might feel like to run like a stag or to swim like the beaver. He settled down, the scent of cooking rabbit easing him into comfort again. His head throbbed less and his euphoria overtook his various aches.

Life, he thought, was good...now that he had one.
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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2005, 03:19:14 PM »
As a large night-bird, Jarmok's ears and eyes were phenomenally acute. He could hear small rodents scurrying about in their trees below him; he could see better this night than he ever could under normal circumstances by day. He pushed himself higher, slowly getting the feel of the wind beneath his wings and of the significant course redirections to be had by the merest flick of his tail feathers.

Mahiya certainly designed this animal well. Jarmok thought. He supposed then that she had designed all animals well, each according to their needs.

Dancing in the late-night light of the three moons, Jarmok rather suddenly became comfortable within himself. It was certainly odd, he thought, that it should take a complete change of physical form before he would become comfortable with himself. Perhaps Kit could use a brief change of form. He chuckled to the night.

The trees looked rather odd from this side. He had long since gotten used to seeing them from the ground; one might, from the top of a tall hill or mountain, look down upon the canopies from above, but this was remarkably different. This had another flavor altogether. It might have been for the secondary sensations that blessed him in flight ? the wind in his face and under his wing, the weightlessness that he felt as he soared through the night. It might simply have been that he was an owl ? that would certainly account for any unordinary sensations. He was sensing some energy that was decidedly supernatural, in the strictest sense of the word; Mahiya ? nature herself ? seemed to be integrated more seamlessly into Jarmok?s soul.

Whatever the case, the experience was exhilarating. His over-finely honed sensed suggested to him that some kind of storm was on the night air. He flexed his tail feathers and tacked, turning about and headed back over the westwall. As he crested those tall peaks, he espied something odd.

Far to the south, but still north of Threshold, a deep green light enveloped part of the land near the edge of the forest. It was diffuse, and other than its brilliant green color, reminded Jarmok of sunlight filtering through the vestiges of a thick fog.

Rather suddenly a stiff, cold wind blew in off the mountains, buffering Jarmok toward the emanation to the south. An orange light flared from within the enveloping green light, undulating as if trying to escape from a large green cocoon.

The wind blew stiff, the lights fought with each other, and somewhere, over the din, Jarmok heard the elemental call of a wolf, impossibly loud, but utterly unmistakable.

He was nearing the cacophony when a bright white light burst forth from within the green one, and of a sudden the night was again calm. The wind had died, the noise had quieted, and the only thing that Jarmok could hear now was the beating of his own heart.

Despite this experience, Jarmok was left at ease. The air was crisp and clean. The night was velvety and quiet once again. But something told Jarmok that he needed to return to his cave. He was getting tired, and it would not do to fall asleep way up here.
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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2005, 01:57:15 PM »
As if in confirmation of his newfound convictions, Kossuth dipped below the westwall and plunged Jarmok's cave into twilight shadow. Day changes to night. He thought amusedly. It really was that simple.

Akadi, Grumbar, and Istisha climbed into the sky together, and Jarmok saw yet more evidence that he was on the right path this night: Istisha, the green moon, was full. Jarmok's sense was that this should not be; it seemed to him, as he visualized Mercer's plaque on the wall in his living room, that the green moon should be just about gone from the sky.

That the moon itself should thus change spoke loudly to Jarmok of omen. Nature changed, and as he had found himself a child of nature, then he too could change.

He smiled then, barely containing a laugh born of new knowledge. More so of a recognition of something that was now so obvious he wondered why he could not see it before.

Jarmok meditated on this for a long while. He cleared his mind and breathed evenly as hours slipped by. At some point ? it could have been minutes or hours later ? the sounds of a treading deer reached him from the nearby woods, but he ignored those unseen footfalls and the large deer to which they must belong; tonight he hunted for nourishment of a different sort.

He emptied his mind and breathed deep in through his nose, the cool, clean air intoxicating to him. Something unusual was on the air this night. He fancied that the mountain air was charged with mystical energy - a childish notion, he knew, but he had no better way to explain it.

The deep breaths he took stretched his lungs and chest to their fullest and tickled at his sides. He could hear and feel the hammering of his heart. Perhaps it was his hunger, or his last few sleepless nights, but he began to feel dizzy and his nerves flitted playfully in his gut.

He stretched his arms wide and his head hung backward, the muscles and ligaments in his neck pulling tautly at his lower jaw. Somewhere in the back of his mind a question formed: "What do you want?" An answer formed quickly, without thought: "I want to fly through the night."
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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2005, 09:06:55 PM »
From nowhere particular the thought of the Southern fox and the big-footed hare entered his mind. Both of these animals changed their hair color when Venric stalked. Both became white, presumably for camouflage in the snow, and at Sythus' thaw both of these creatures shed their white in favor of a tawny coat, again for camouflage.

To Jarmok, this late day, it seemed obvious that many, if not all creatures held within their own power the ability to affect certain changes to themselves. It was time for him to do the same.

As if daring him to try, a white-headed eagle screeched at him from among the lofty crags.
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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2005, 02:41:53 PM »
As the sun arced across the sky, filtering through the burgeoning fronds and upon his little cave, Jarmok noted how his perceptions changed with the incidence of the light.

Colors changed slightly depending upon how the light struck the area and a given object therein. A tree branch might seem gray in the depths of shadow but golden brown when bathed in rich sunlight. Fir needles seemed to seethe bright green under the light, but very dark green under the shade.

Change was a constant in nature, he thought. Not only in appearances either. Physical, bodily change was everywhere one might look. Plants were the most obvious things to exhibit dramatic physical change over their lives: acorns turned into mighty oaks. The maple seed, bourn within such a clever design of transport, which might spin erratically over miles before alighting in some hopefully fertile soil changes from the smallest speck into a great tree. Brambles looked fairly ugly in the dead of Venric but bloomed powerfully come Sythus, bearing lovely flowers and tasty fruits.

But this manner of change was not the sole province of plants. Insects underwent marvelous change throughout their lives. Caterpillars changed to butterflies, maggots to flies. These were testament that life was not a static thing. Form need not be static.

Frogs and toads changed from limbless tadpoles to tailless amphibians (and just the thought of amphibians - who could breathe air and water - bespoke profound facility to nature's designs). Bears change also, although somewhat more inwardly; hibernation, Jarmok thought, was nothing more than an inward change. The mighty bears of this very forest were awakening now from their winter sleep, but why did they sleep? Mercer had said that they slept because in the winter they could not find enough food to support their massive selves.

But if this were true, then at some time, they must have come to the conclusion that there was not enough to eat, and they must then have decided to go to sleep, setting some internal signal that they might awaken upon spring?s thaw. The animal must have affected some kind of change to himself, and taught all his brethren to do the same.

This would speak to the animal?s ability to change itself (less dramatically than Jarmok had, to be sure, but to change nonetheless) to satisfy a need. Again Mercer?s words returned to Jarmok: ?Out of need is born ability".

As far as people went, you need only look at the population of Threshold to see how need affected the people of the town, and how they changed to suit the needs of their businesses. The blacksmith, from swinging his great hammer endlessly upon the anvil begot huge arms and massive chest. The thinnest of fishermen, from the work that he needs to do develops surprisingly strong hands. People, it seemed, would adapt according to the pressures placed upon them.
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Offline Johan

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Jarmok's Sabbatical
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2005, 04:07:13 PM »
Taking only his knife, battle axe, and bow (and arrows) Jarmok made his way through the inky night that permeated the forest north of Threshold. His nocturnal journey was neither far nor long; within a few hands he found himself once again at the cave where he had settled when the cold moons had begun to stalk last year.

The air was sweet and fresh. A perfect place, he thought, to pursue this new talent he had discovered.

His shallow cave, he noted, had been occupied a night or two earlier. The tracks that littered the area told him that some large dog and a small person - perhaps Laren's size - had stayed within the shelter for a night or two, but had moved on. It was clear that they had not been there today, at any rate, and given the hour they would not likely be back tonight.

He settled into scrounging firewood amidst the limbs that lay on the forest floor and set snares for small game. He might not eat much this morning, but his empty stomach would bring him closer to Mahiya, and she would likely show him how to control himself.

Kossuth burned the night away in short order. Jarmok never tired of seeing that great orb round the eastwall. This was the only time of day, it seemed, when Jarmok was not restless and at least a little agitated.

As he watched dawn stretch into morning he considered himself. He considered his fair but fickle mistress - Mahiya. He tried to recall the emotion that had welled within him yesterday when he thought that Rawling would escape his companions and himself. It seemed to have been a mix of anger, and despair. But it occurred to him that it was not perhaps anger, or emotion at all, that had allowed for him to shift his form as he had, because masked within his emotions he had also found resolution.

He had determined that Rawling would not escape. He had wreaked so much damage and evil, and would continue to do so. Jarmok, even before he had set eyes upon that vile person, had determined that Rawling must not be allowed to roam the valley. Determination, he thought, was the right characteristic that had borne him from one form to the other.

He wondered idly what he had been dreaming of on those nights when he had changed into other creatures. Perhaps, in his dreams, he had perceived the necessity to be a wolf, or a bird.

He had heard Mercer say more than once that "Out of need is born ability". Perhaps Jarmok had never understood that, although he thought he had.

He let his thoughts wander, like an unfettered wind.
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