but once upon a time there was a struggling village in an arid land, the people within barely surviving. One day, however, a wizard visited.
"Hail cater-cousin, what plagues this land so?" asked the Wizard
"A talking gib!" exclaimed the Farmer he addressed.
"Ay ay, but thou see I am actually a wizard trapp'd in a gib's form. nay less powerful f'r it."
"A talking gib!" exclaimed the Farmer, who started reaching for their hoe.
With a sigh, the wizard muttered a word of power- taking on the illusion of his original form- an older gentleman with a long white beard, hat and robe.
|Thrumbore the Nonplussed, who had accidentally turned themselves into a cat some time ago.|
The Wizard stared after a moment, then sighed and padded onward into the village. There he was greeted by the Village Elder, who was much less excitable.
They retired to the Elder's hut for milk as the Wizard listened to the woes of the village. Foremost, the Elder explained, regular droughts had made it exceedingly difficult to produce enough food by farming.
The Wizard, being a powerful man filled with good intent, resolved to solve this problem.
He set out from the village and summoned all manner of Fae counsel and together resolved to create a magical fountain and altar, complete with silver bowl to activate it. One splash of water from the fountain onto the marble altar would summon a gentle rain to nourish the land.
This was achieved without issue, and the Wizard journeyed back to inform the Elder. There was much rejoicing with fresh milk and a party was sent out to test the fountain. Their success was soon shown by rainfall and the village rejoiced as the party returned- silver bowl in hand.
The Wizard appeared to put a palm to their face and asked why they had brought the bowl back with them, for he had made it clear it was vital to the fountain's operation.
The villagers looked uncomfortable and mumbled something about shininess.
With a word of warning, the Wizard had them take it back to the fountain.
The next week, it had vanished again. After some scrying, the Wizard found it in one of the villager's huts. The thief turned into a frog for a week, the lesson- the Wizard hoped- had been learned.
The bowl disappeared again within another week, and the Wizard was forced to track it down now to another village some distance away, where a Chieftan's son had taken it. Said progeny turned into a hamster for a week, the Wizard left.
Lesson learned, he again summoned his Fae associates to forge a silver chain by which to affix the bowl to the fountain to where it might never be taken again.
Weeks passed and when rain was needed the fountain was used without issue. The Wizard, beloved by everyone who had not been turned into something else, set about to continue their travels.
Years passed, the village grew into a town and the lands prospered dramatically. Human civilization grew and spread.
In the Wizards absence however, the Fae whom had been employed to construct the fountain grew wary of Humanity's success as the people drew ever closer to contact with their secret places.
Eventually, they sent an emissary, disguised as a wizard themselves, to treat with the Chieftain of the settlement.
|Having only really known Thrumbore, however, they were subject to a misconception as to what a Wizard looked like.|
As Wizards, they offered to upgrade the Fountain, at no cost. They needed the consent of the people however, for only with such could the enchantment be altered.
They promised to make the fountain summon songbirds, to sing beauteously as few mortals had ever heard and thus make the Chieftain and his people famous throughout the lands.
The Chieftain was quick to agree, and with the commanded support of their people, the Fae went to work.
True to their word, now after every rain songbirds would be summoned to a nearby tree, and there sing much to the delight of the Chieftain and those in range of it.
But now the Fae, laughing, revealed the cost.
The Chieftain and his people would have to pay a tribute to the Fae regularly, a princely sum in valuables
The Chieftain asked them if this was necessary to keep the Fountain working. The Fae laughed even harder at this, for it wasn't. No, they explained, if the Chieftain should stop paying tribute- the fountain would summon not rain but instead murderous hail the likes of which would kill those caught in it.
Horrified, the Chieftain and his people strove to pay this tribute.... for a time.
The tributes ended, and a Fae was sent to ask why. The present Chieftain explained that the lands had grown lush and moist and rather than diminish their wealth it was deemed wiser to not pay and simply not make use of the Fountain further.
Wroth, the Fae resolved to use the Fountain themselves. Many people were slain- but by now Humanity had learned to work metal and the Chieftain rode out clad in iron to slay the Fae who made use of the fountain, often they could not flee- enrapt themselves by the songbirds that followed the storm.
The Fae were not incapable of being clever however, and thus resolved to trick others into using the Fountain on their behalf. They had their friends such as the Black Man tell stories of it's wonderous nature to wandering explorers, in the hopes they would be tempted to see it themselves. In this fashion they hoped to set the humans against themselves.
"But, what if they lock aroint the fountain?" asked one of the Fae.
"Shut up." answered another.
Initially the plan seemed to work. Why, for the next several years hardly a month went by that some bored Chieftain's son wandered by and used the fountain. Each time it happened, the local Chieftain would charge out to fight them- but finding them not to be Fae- spared them in victory taking their mounts as penalty.
Eventually an explorer came and defeated the Chieftain, taking their lands and spouse for their own. Now, those who used the Fountain were kept ransom and their price increased the wealth of the Lords of that country. Peasants died in droves of course, but no one cared.
The Fae were horrified, for while the Fountain killed many, it if anything only made the local human lords richer. So profitable was it that no one made any effort at all to 'lock aroint the fountain'.
The Fae cared not for all the dead peasants either of course- that was their goal- but the Humans had the sense to retreat to shelter swiftly, less so the animals of the wild for whom the Fae felt some affinity.
"Bugger this, we're out." resolved the Queen of the Fae at last and thus they departed for safer realms.
And when word of this reached the Human domain, no one terribly cared- as they were far too busy preparing for war, to carve up the domain of a missing Lord of the Fountain...
If you too would like to earn the passive hatred of your small domestic predator, you can do so here.