You have been taken by the Mists

Author Topic: The Namesake Conifer  (Read 424 times)

Hemlock

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The Namesake Conifer
« on: January 29, 2023, 10:23:28 AM »
1.28.778

A man is camped in the woodlands adjoining the road to Zeidenburg. A swamp green cloak and small campfire offer him little respite from the cold night. He clutches a worn pack riddled with holes from briars and all manners of claw and fang. From this pack he removes two cloth wrappings, each containing a specimen from this vagrant's small herbarium.

He holds each cloth wrapping and watches water boil within a small iron pot nested on top of burning oak wood. He watches the steam form.

Earthmother, I have strayed far from the path.

One of the cloth bundles is bulky, larger than a Caliban's fist. From this bundle the main removes a piece of bark taken from a dying hemlock tree in the murky lowlands, the namesake conifer he was pleased to find growing in the marshes amongst the willows. With a small stone and little strength he scratches off pieces of the bark and watches them sink into the boiling water.

From the smaller cloth he removes a dried herbaceous plant with a pale inflorescence--the flower of a poison hemlock. Looking at the umbel stem, he plucks the flowers and pieces of rootmass and tosses them into the boiling water with the bark of the shared name. The boiling water is stirred with the twig of a nearby bloodberry bush.

Chauntea, there is such darkness here. And it is with deep shame that I loiter in these cold nights.

The man retrieves a small cup carved from a fallen maple and continues to stir the boiling bark and herb. He stirs and stirs, hoping the tannins in the bark will continue to render the poison inert. He watches the maelstrom and thinks back to the horrors to which he has witnessed this lunar cycle. Mutilation and dismemberment. Cannibalism. Infanticide. The scheming of dead things. His own transgressions against the land and its people.

With the cup he scoops out a few ounces of the boiling liquid. A separate trail of steam rises from the cup and he blows onto the surface, waiting for the liquid to cool. He sips the tea, taking in the earthy and citrine flavors, something familiar.

He recalls the conversation of a recent campfire, standing with arms crossed beside the gnome. Hem, Vallaki will burn. You know this.

The boiling water and what remains of the bark and herbs are dumped onto the ground and covered with the surrounding leaf litter. In what remains of the smoke he traces the figure of a rose in bloom with his index finger. The smoke holds no form, but he tries nonetheless. He smothers the fire with loose soil.

At dawn he moves east towards the outskirts of a nearby settlement.

Travel light. Learn the flowers.

Active: Sebastian Longfield & Piet Cixous
Shelf: Hemlock
Closured: Donatien Brinespeaker

Hemlock

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Re: The Namesake Conifer
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2023, 07:07:09 PM »


Quote
Quote
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, Part V: What the Thunder Said

Foundry beneath the City of Lights. Hide curing basin. Is Hemlock your real name? Metal is shaped somewhere in the distance. Molten. Another place to be a stranger.


Intruder in the Masked Grove. The growth, sickly and wilted. Fauna retreat from us. Traitors, he calls us. Thorns and fiber climb the empty spaces between kin, reaching, ascending. Had we only known.



Garda hanging a druid today. I watch the body sway in the gallows, back and forth until it slows and spins in place the way hanged men do. A broken pendulum. Crooked business. The cover night. A vrolock helps me retrieve the body. Another step off the path.



We ascended the stone staircase to a new doom in Berez. Beckoned forth. The green man watches. Dagger of the lich. The bloody mess, my hands, so bloody. Never before tried to contain such a mess. I buried her heart beside an oak tree. Deep enough to keep the scavengers away.



A rocky seaside bluff at the edge of the jungle. Scar tissue extending from my chest, root-like, lianas. Contemplating. The hubris of Degannwy. Tracing the scars with tired hands. A quick plunge. The nightmare could end, so simply, so swiftly, the nightmare could end.



A green gem, oblong, angular, and tucked away in my pouch of scarab cap. A final gift from Gareth Rex. Sometimes, I hold it to my eye like a spyglass. The world, perverse, an otherworldly green. How crooked they must have been, those eyes.



Governer's Hotel on an unfamiliar street. Never quite lived in a building before. Stone and wood all dressed up and set in place.

Her silhouette in the lamplight. Priestess of Mask. Golden eyes meet my gaze from across the room. That smile. In my own heart something stirs. 

Goodbye, Barovia. Have found a home.



Active: Sebastian Longfield & Piet Cixous
Shelf: Hemlock
Closured: Donatien Brinespeaker