Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Keep your wits, tenderfoot..."

Independent-minded gentlemen adventurers at their seasonal cabin.

Things aren't the same in Wampus Country as they are back home, kid.  And it ain't just 'cause we're livin' on the edge of unexplored wilderness, neither.  You want cobblestone streets and the comforts of home?  Then head due west, back to the kingdoms, and never look back.  Far as I'm concerned, your precious 'civilization' can hang.  So long as we can head back in to River-Town once or twice a year to sell our haul and pick up some new guns; that's about as close to the old ways I'm content to go.  I got no problem tradin' with barbarians or hill-folk or giants - least they'll kill you outright, not cheat you out of your silver like some cosmo-politan dandy back on the coast.

Just look at the bounty!  These hills and valleys are full of pelts and gold, laid out there for a courageous man to take; and if you're smart enough to draw an accurate map along the way, there's money in that, too.  There's fertile valleys, and piney mountains, and scrublands and swamps.  It's as if, out here, the earth is still young and hasn't made up its mind 'bout what it wants to be sometimes.  And the wildlife's the same - all manner of fearsome critters call this country home.  Some of 'em's dangerous, but that's all right, 'cause most of 'em are decent victuals, and we harvest the skins and feathers and scales and what-not.  Someone'll buy it, a furrier or alchemist.

But you gotta keep your wits, boy.  This country eats weak men alive - both bodies and minds.  Besides the feral beasts - the snollygosters and owl-bears and perytons and such - these hills are full of old magic, too.  The sorta thing that'd make one of your city-type wizards soil himself and drop his star charts.  Witches in the forests, and shadow-goblyns, and the restless dead; men of living stone, and sleepin' gods beneath the heath, not to mention occasional visits from ol' Mab's people.  Best to watch yourself.  And your associates.

The surest way to get dead in the Wampus Country is to think, for even a moment, that you're back home.

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