Sunday, May 27, 2018

Updates, and More Excerpts from Hraela's Homework.

((Hello, Burrowers! I'm still alive, and I'll add some length to this smallish post by tacking a few things on here. Yes I've had a super slow month this month, but this month my slow month is somewhat more understandable than other months. Month month month.

... Anyway, I managed to graduate from my college earlier. As in, officially did the walk and received the piece of paper covered in Latin that I wouldn't think to be a degree except for the fact that it has my name on it and I sort of recognize the word "Baccalavrei".

In addition to freeing my mind from a lot of mental and emotional tethers, this changes how I'll be able to approach my blog for the foreseeable future. I won't be pumping out the level of content I did last year when I started the blog up in the dead of summer, since I'll actually be working this time around, but I will feel comfortable enough to do more, and hopefully do it better.

Additionally, I'm inching out of my electronic isolation by interacting with other blog-smiths.

Head on over to Unlawful Games to check out some cool new content created by TheLawfulNeutral, whom you might recognize from a few of the comment strings down here in the Burrow. Or literally any of the free advertising he's giving me on the larger internet. He recently decided to start up his own more OSR-oriented blog to house his menagerie of terrifying and creatively visceral ideas.

He doesn't have a huge library of posts yet, but that means you don't need to fear archive binge. If you still don't know where to start though, maybe try his monster conversion of the Longfolk from beyond my very own Axebitten Woods.

Now, let's see how our sneaky little giant fencing student is handling this whole ordination fiasco.))

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Completely unintelligible, impenetrably obtuse(sp?), poorly-written garbage.

I've watched Litte scribbling like mad since before we departed on this journey. Is this all that he has produced since then?

I have reproduced an excerpt from his "writings" as well as I can above, and I write that meaning that I've done a fairly accurate job of repl. This is not the script of Ersuut, or any other language in the world that I've ever seen or heard of. And there are dozens of pages of this. Hundreds and hundreds of lines scrawled front-and-back across sheaves identical to but completely different from the above.

I honestly cannot believe that this is anything of substance. I begin to suspect that this man is actually deeply mentally unhinged, and the University was simply getting him out of their hair for a time while mercifully humoring his illusions of grandeur and countless other exen ecsen eccentricities. Fools that we are, we agreed to join him on his romp through his own imagination. I wonder if he even told the truth about there being a delegation waiting for us at our destination in the mountains.

But despite the fact that these pages are worthless for my original plan to practice field ordination, I believe I should continue to curate them, and copy them. There is just enough reuse and regularity between tortured curves and line segment snarls to give some vague sense of anti-logic to Litte's writing. Even the manner in which some characters transcend their lines of text to join with others seems somehow preder predetermined and deliberate. I can't say what the reversal of brush stroke direction in the last line means. Maybe he just adjusted the angle of the quill in his hand. This all leads me to admit that there is a (very) small chance that what is written here might actually say something to anyone else but he. It could be a code or a cipher, and if he is trying to hide something then my mission is even more important than I could have imagined. I must make a breakthrough on this before he does or says anything to damage or embarrass the University, or worse.

From the sounds of drunken rioting across the drinking hall from where I've hidden myself, I don't have a lot of time.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Excerpts from a leather binder inscribed with the pyrograph "Hraela's Homework".

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Hraela Hlegazteng
Senior Editor Professor Onsaro Adelbramp
Historical Ordination 101
Winter's Rising, 294 AR

A Field Exercise in Ordination
In Preparation for Litigating Litte
Observations on Space & Censorship
[Title in Progress]

Thanks to his surprisingly agreeable nature and unsurprisingly desperate lack of volunteers, the infamous Roberick Bertrum Litte has taken me on as one of his expedition's undergraduate assistants. Besides gaining a stipend and some field experience, I will get the chance to work on my own personal studies. Litte is tight-lipped about himself and anything other than the archaeology objective, but he can't stay that way for long. When the time comes and he opens up, I'll be within earshot, prepared to catch and record any seditious ideas and casual sacrilige sacrelige hearsay heresy he may spout about the Ivory Tower University or its accepted curricalcum curriculum.

From the number of aneurysms he's caused some of the older instructors, he sounds like there's nothing salvageable to him. But I think he might still be a tinmine of material for Ordination. He writes and reconsiders history passionately- his ideas just needs a bit of cleaning-up. I won't actively tease it out of him, nor do I want to hand him his own noose. But if my records are "juicy" enough to make Professor Adelbramp do more than offer me a passing grade, I won't be reluctant to hand them over to a committee or three. Their They're in the right to do what they need to with him. To be honest, I still don't understand why he even works at the University still- as the same old tired story goes again and again, he was expelled more than a decade ago.

This piece will include two main kinds of text: direct quotations from Litte and other relevant parties (including rough timestamps in talecks when possible), and observations or annotations on other parts of the journey in my voice. Heavy textual analysis will wait until after the expedition is concluded and I've returned home with my raw data.

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These milk-drinkers don't know what a real winter is like. Everyone but the fattest of the drivers is acting like they're freezing to death, and it's getting annoying. At least they're staying away or quiet after I gave them a glare. Except for the scrawny, pale boy from my Introduction to Foreign Languages class. I think his name is Kuudo or something else doltish. All I know is that if he tries to sidle up next to me for "warmth" one more time, I'll give him a lesson in speaking with the oldest language in the world: fists.

At least I can educate the lot of them in the finer points of Gertish religion. Smelling the child-fires in the lower city made me yearn for home again. The smallest of the men and older boys will be skating across the first black ice on the northern rivers and making it sing this time of year.

Litte still refuses to do more talking than he does writing. His scribbling is constant except for when he needs to switch to a new piece of partch parchment or an entirely new booklet of them. I wonder what he's writing, and if I can get anything more useful out of that.

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Expedition Director Litte's friend is insufferable. I've never had the displeasure of meeting a more smarmy, unclever, and casually dismissive man in my life. I was disappointed to see Sarq patch up his arm so smoothly after that vile "training" stunt he pulled.

I do at least respect his taste in knives, though. The blade has excellent edge geometry and was obviously oiled and honed to a fine edge just earlier this morning. His steadiness and stabability stability while delivering such a lengthy draw-cut to himself was also admirable, though not an indicator that he;d be any good at using it in a fight. I also recognized a few pieces of ornamentation upon the grip and small hand-guard which spoke to me of a marriage between Gertish and Esgodarran symbolism, but I am loathe to express my interest to him to find out more.

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Crimson fury.

The splintering of river-faces under crackling flames,

And the ruthless drawing of knives across beating blood-roads.

May every pint of piss in this kindling-house turn to adder's venom.

One thousand red-hot nails hammered in Goebno's name.

Two dozen stag-hearts for the hound at Nahlia's feet.

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Perhaps I was too hasty in judging the people of Janskurf's Place. It is a tourist trap, there's no denying that, and they make no attempt to. But they are actual Gerts. I counted ten Veezonders and at least twice as many people with a Hoehpleg accent. The brew-mistress herself saw kinship in me and greeted me in our own language when I came red-faced and frothing to them. She introduced herself as Machtel Protstra- I didn't think any of the descendants of Protjaas came this far south. She proved her authenticity with a bottle of malt wine. I wept to taste it. It brought me back home, to the odor of fresh fish giving way to the smells of cooking fires and sea salt at dinner time. She said drink like that was too good to waste on customers.

A long conversation followed. How they needed this alehouse, no matter how displeasing it was. No livelihood like this could be had in the towns, certainly not for a woman like her who enjoyed the power she had. The journey home was too great a task. She claimed, with startling accuracy, that the best her girls could hope for in Deneroth was a life of peddling and marriage to a fat old turnip-monger. Had my family not been so lucky to afford having me adopted into one of the tiers, I wouldn't have ended up much different, she said.

I realize now, with some shame, that those barbaric views of our people are in part perver preserved and reproduced thanks to certain artistic programs and portfolios found in the ITU itself. I was warned to keep in mind what I acculturate to. She also pointed out how very like the stereotype my fury could have seemed, if I had gotten the outburst I wanted. We parted on better terms, with an arm-shake and hopes to meet again on better terms.

I am still not happy. But I am not angry, either. Now, apparently, I must leave the backroom and look after my drunken companions. The greasy man even got Litte to try a mug.

Opportunity knocks.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Looking Southward and Backward, Part 14.

"Rob. Robber. Bert. Oi. Staircase Man. Litte!"

A voice finally penetrates my concentration, and a slap on the back of the shoulder punctuates my writing with a very messy scrawl of ink across the page. I look up and back from my isolated corner of a table to see--to no surprise--that Elrusyo is standing over me with four clay mugs of something frothy and dark-colored in each of them. He sits down immediately next to me, and I must pull my parchments and papers up out of the way of a slosh of the odorous liquid which falls to greet the worn old wooden surface.

"Are you going to sit there writing about the carnal exploits of other men all night, or are you finally going to do something worth writing about for yourself? Eh?"

One finger thrusts across the room a ways, toward another table which is mostly populated by women- apparently off-duty locals and members of the family, if the garish and historically inaccurate winged helmets and metallic braziers in their possessions are any indication. Several cups have been emptied already, and their giggling at the male patrons seems to have shifted from career-mandated to genuine. I look back to Elrusyo to see if he is being absolutely serious or not. The half-waggle of an eyebrow and the earnest grin tell me that he is in deed being serious- and that he is already drunk, despite our being seated here for less than an hour.

I ask him what he has done with the wards under my protection, which only causes his smile to widen and deepen in jolliness.

"Stitch Boy and Reed-Neck are currently enjoying the finer points of an education in drinking culture. Haven't you been hearing them?"

A few seconds after this, there comes a clinking of drinking vessels louder and more emphatic than the rest from further down the hall, followed by a mangled pronunciation of one of the many Gertish toasts to good health.


Elrusyo smirks in satisfaction. I take in a deep breath and tensely ask where the rest are.

"The big girl didn't take a liking to any of that, so she got up and said she's looking for the brew-mistress to give her a piece of her mind on all of this. I came over here because you just so happen to be in the perfect spot from which to enjoy the show, and dodge any projectiles."

I make the smudge across the bottom of my last parchment even worse with a resulting forehead-thump of defeat. He gives me another pat on the back, less roughly this time.

"Drink up now, or it's going to be a long night. The boys and their horses will be ready an hour after dawn tomorrow. Did you lot really get them driving through the frost at sunrise this morning? Your campus is run by slavers."

Elrusyo slides one mug toward me despite my protests. But before I am able to both sympathize with his observation and point out that  know better than anyone else the reality of the statement, something catches my eye.

Or rather, the complete lack of something.

In lifting up his mug in order to take a swig, Elrusyo's sleeve falls down along his arm somewhat. Across the inside of his wrist I see nothing but smooth, unblemished skin, interrupted only by a few spots where stitches have mostly been forced out entirely by new skin growth. I reach out to seize his arm, spilling more beer and evoking his protests in the process. Even as I question the directness of my own actions, I pull his sleeve down farther.

Sure enough, it is as if he never sustained a wound to the forearm.

He had been nursing a savage injury up until the very moment I had taken my eyes off of him earlier this afternoon. What could he have possibly done in the time between my sitting down and now?

I look up into his eyes in disbelief, looking for answers. Had he faked it? Was it all a ruse?

He plucks the twine from his skin, discards it, and tips his mug back once more. The glint from before remains in his eyes.

"Just drink up, Ber."

I stare down into the dark, foamy surface of my mug. The first sip feels like trying to swallow an entire loaf of seed bread.