Archive for August, 2010

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Five: The Very Bad War

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , on August 31, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

The Twelve Children of Alatia had children of their own, and thus did the race of man thrive upon Coventra. But just as wherever the fengra mushroom sprouts, eventually will grow up a grove of occa trees, tensions developed between the Twelve’s descendants as their numbers grew.

It was a delegation from Anders’ marshy territory that started the unpleasantness. They had journeyed to the western lowlands, where Jaara’s tribe had flourished, hoping to convince them to abandon reason and trade the prodigious fruits that their orchards produced for the bitter mush that was all that grow in the swamps.

Negotiations never even began, however, for the delegation viewed what clever Jaara’s tribe had built — the magnificent monuments, the stately temples, and the peaceful parks that seemed to glow from within — and became insanely jealous. Upon gaining an audience with Carry, the chief of the tribe, one of the envoys named Serrer declared: “It is clear to us that you are unworthy of what you have wrought, and that we are. Therefore, we are at war.”

Without awaiting response, the marsh delegation turned as one and marched out of the frescoed town hall.

Word spread, and each of the Twelve tribes found themselves on one side of the dispute or the other, or both simultaneously, (as happened with Liekei’s tribe, which had followed Colm’s and supported Jaara’s tribe, but with an undercurrent of dissatisfaction because many thought this would be an issue that would let them break free of their mountain cousins‘ influence) or sometimes creating brand-new sides (as Cavin’s children did; by declaring that war could only hurt their fishing and attempting to remain neutral, they made enemies of all.)

Throughout Coventra, all effort went toward fashioning weapons, and training armies, and planning strategies, and posting guards to defend against the invaders who had once been brothers and sisters. This went on for many months, while fields lay unsown and fruits unharvested. People grew hungry and starved, and buildings fell into disrepair, and society seemed on the verge of crumbling.

Eventually, the mischievous sprites grew weary of watching the race of man waste away like this. “If you wish to be at war,” they said, “it is not enough to merely prepare for an invasion. Eventually, someone must actually invade.”

But the race of man was not accustomed to taking direction from sprites, and declared that it would conduct this war on its own terms. While most of the tribes were satisfied to say that, Bax, the wise chief of the tribe of Marion, and a direct ancestor to our beloved Baron Brange, wanted more. He gathered representatives from each of the Twelve tribes together under a banner of truce and made the following appeal:

“We must put aside our differences, if not for ourselves than to prove that we shall not be manipulated by sprite or goblin or any other inferior race. I propose that we achieve peace.”

This statement was so full of wisdom, and Bax so persuasive, that the representatives of the Twelve tribes unanimously and immediately agreed to it.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Four: The Twelve Children of Alatia

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , on August 28, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

Alatia, the Mother of all creatures, was also a mother in the more traditional sense. She raised the twelve boys and girls to whom she had given birth conscientiously, and few could claim to have happier childhoods. But she also trained them diligently, for she knew that they were destined to populate the world, and they would have to do so without her constant guidance.

When her children were fourteen, she gathered them together. “My beloveds,” she began, “It is time for you to know your higher purpose. It is your duty to spread the race of man throughout the land.”

Her children all nodded, for while they had not been told this before, they were each possessed of intelligence and had suspected something like this.

The next day, after embracing their mother, and each other, the Twelve Children of Alatia set out. Rawz, the eldest, headed to the eastern forests to make her home among the trees, where her industrious nature could find magnificent raw materials with which to work. Zacharai traveled through those forests to the eastern shore, from whence he planned to stage great explorations of the seas. But he was as lazy as Rawz was industrious, and he never got further than dreaming while relaxing along the shore—a trait shared by his descendants. Cavin too settled along the shore, in the west; he made no pretensions of exploration, but instead established the beginnings of a thriving fishing industry.

Colm opted for the northern mountains, for he enjoyed wearing luxurious furs. Liekei chose for herself the highlands at the foot of Colm’s territory, which would allow her to appeal to her brother’s goodwill for whatever needs she did not wish to provide for herself.

Elba selected the inhospitable central deserts, for she enjoyed the solitude afforded by the harsh landscape and felt sympathy for the creatures that lived there and were so unfairly despised. Zoological pursuits also shaped Naiar’s decision to live in the southwestern jungle, for he loved all creatures, and nowhere else were there so many of so many types.

Quend claimed that the fertile plains of the south matched her flaxen hair, which was true, but she also had the greatest connection to the land and the ability to coax from it the greatest bounty. Anders was quite the least liked of the siblings, and it was suggested that he might find friends among the snakes and lizards of the eastern marsh.

The Salty Shemork Lake (named for the sound a female sprite makes upon discovering the pleasure of the touch of another female) in the northwest became the home of Uutra, who developed it into a peaceful idyll. And surprisingly, this feat was nearly matched by the western lowlands, which was made first habitable and then beautiful by a series of cunning engineering works on the part of Jaara.

But one region of the entire world was left, and that was the difficult territory of Aathenaar. Alatia called to her Marion, the youngest and most beloved of her sons.

“You will live in Aathenaar,” she said, “and you and your descendants shall make it great, for you are truly the finest of my creations, and so you are the best for the hardest job.”

Marion bowed in silent acknowledgment of this speech. When he got to Aathenaar he immediately began shaping the land, turning it into something hospitable, though even the fiber of the dirt tried to fight back.

Like all tasks worthy of effort, this one was greater than one man’s lifetime. It endures today, continued by the people of Aathenaar, with grace, fortitude, and aplomb.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part 3: Names from the Vine

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , on August 25, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

With their fast speed, ability to fly over rough terrain, and utter lack of discretion over where and how they lived, the ancient sprites were the first to explore Coventra fully. It is for this reason that so many places on our world bear names from their language.

Some of the names that they gave were logical, such as the great mountain Eeren, which in their language simply means “great mountain.” Other places were given a whimsical name, or they were named after their discoverer, or perhaps the discoverer’s beloved.

And many places went unnamed, for the race of sprites is prone to flitting about and not finishing tasks.

But one sprite lord named Ator saw the rest of the animals spreading across the land, and realized the opportunity the sprites were on the edge of losing. Ator gathered the sprites of the world together, and they brought drawings of all the places yet to be named, in hopes that by combining their abilities they might finish the task.

After a few unproductive moments, a sprite named Zelda suggested that wine might aid the process.

This suggestion was more successful than anyone might have predicted. The first place named under this scheme was Leondara, which comes from the sprites’ word for the particular sound a cork makes as it comes out of a wine bottle. Names such as Gyagyagya come from the peculiar glugging sound that wine makes as it comes out of the bottle, and Chajji, their term for a sprite who believes she is flying between two trees, but is actually bouncing off of one tree into the other.

Dances were invented in this state of intoxication, both aerial and terrestrial, and their names became place names as well. And when they grew weary of dancing, many of the sprites broke off into pairs, or sometimes groups small or large, and allowed the drink to guide their friskier urges.

This segment of the meeting was particularly productive, giving names as diverse as Yarbadou, which means, in our tongue, “Fasterharder”, or Pinge, which means “wrong hole!”

In fact, only one place on all of Coventra remained unnamed after this night (and day and night again). It was a difficult territory, rough and rugged, with land fertile enough just for survival, where only the strongest and most noble of people could live. This last land was named some weeks later, when one of the youngest sprites discovered that, much against her wishes, she was with child. And so she screamed a lament, such as any young woman in that situation might, and that lament comes down to us today as “Aathenaar.”

No doubt it will not be long before a man of courage and vision realizes the wisdom of changing Aathenaar’s name to something more appropriate.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Two: The Birth of All Things

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , on August 22, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

The land was dark, a brown mass, devoid of life apart from Alatia. But she grew hungry, and as she had no other option, she tasted the dirt.

But the dirt’s flavor was painfully bright, and Alatia was forced to sneeze it out, and each piece flew into the heavens, forming the suns and moons and stars.

One of these stars grew dim, and it teetered and flickered in the sky before falling lifeless to Alatia’s breast. Alatia wept for the dead star, and she continued for a thousand days and nights, and when she finally stopped she discovered that the world was now possessed of rivers and lakes and streams and oceans.

Exhausted though she was from her tearful ordeal, Alatia felt she must do something for this fallen star still clinging to her bosom. And so she ran throughout the world, kicking dirt into mountains and valleys as she went, until she found a stream whose gentle burbling reminded her of all the songs yet to be written. It was here that she dug a shallow grave for the star, and buried it, and finally collapsed from exhaustion.

When Alatia woke, the world was covered in all of the plants of the world: tall grasses made the land bright, and tiny algae gave the oceans breath, and the flowering shrubs painted the world with joy, and trees–the mightiest of which grew from the spot where the star had been buried, provided it with strength.

Ravenous with hunger, Alatia feasted on the grains and fruits and vegetables and tubers and legumes until she was quite rotund with satisfaction. she rested against the star tree, pregnant with joy.

Within a few moments, her stomach began to rumble, and the contractions of labor began. She had turned one of the beans into a tiny lizard, which she delivered without pain. It coughed wisps of flame as it scurried toward a mountain to build its lair.

Alatia was still engorged with life, however. A sprig of garlic had grown into a fisherbird that sped out of her left earlobe. A pear became a baby rhinoceros that grew in her femur and charged out from between her toes. A lion roared out from her stomach, and a trout flopped out of her forehead, and a clam emerged from the small of her back. In this way, over the next several hours, were the animals of the world born–save one.

For in all of these deliveries, not once was Alatia delivered of a person.

She failed to weep at this sadness, which was more profound than tears could express. But the wise and true unicorn, the last of the animals she had born, understood. It trotted to Alatia, lowered its horn, and touched her stomach, and she was pregnant once again, this time with the twelve men and women who would found all of civilization.

Alatia smiled at the unicorn as it trotted into the forest, knowing she would not see this highest of creatures again, but also that its spirit would reside in all people forevermore.

The Glorious History of Aathenar, Part 1: Of Creators and Dreams

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

by Repatia of Rookwood Falls, high bard designate to Baron Brange Aathenaar

Translated by Greg Landgraf

Translator’s note: Unicorn City takes place in a small village known as Aathenaar, on a world known as Coventra. We have discovered and translated this work, commissioned by Baron Brange of Aathenaar shortly before the events related in the play. Three Legged Race offers it here, in 18 parts, in hopes that those who attend the show will find it of interest to learn how the town came to be. The history should be valuable to scholars due to its wide scope–covering a period of time from the creation of the world to modernity–but the reader should keep in mind that as it was commissioned by a significant player in some of its events, certain stories may be less reliable than they would be if told by a truly independent historian.

One might, if he or she desired to dabble in abstraction, visualize the Universe as a great expanse of stone or brick or wood, stretching in all four directions to dimensions only limited by the mind’s conception. And perhaps one could stand–mentally, if not physically–in the center of this expanse, and wonder at its bigness, but one would not.

For this expanse is dotted by holes, some tiny and some massive, and it is the indelible nature of all persons to notice such holes, and to wonder what can and must be done to fill them. And in such way are all works, great and tiny, created, from the mother preparing a bowl of stew with love for her brood of children and pets, to the construction of mighty cathedrals, to the recording of great Histories.

If mere mortals may find these gaps in the Universe and do what they must to fill them, then why would we expect the Gods to be any different? The answer is simple: We must not, for we are Created in their image, and They in ours, and our minds are therefore intertwined like a black-and-redfruit tree and its slinkervine.

Our Gods, beloved Letitia and stalwart Harvey, conceived of our world Coventra in sadness. They lived for tens of thousands of years amongst others of their kind on a massive spinning dirt square known as Earth. Harvey had a deeply industrious nature, while Letitia was more light-hearted, so Harvey fed Letitia’s body, and Letitia fed Harvey’s soul, but Earth provided for both needs in abundance, and both knew joy.

But one day a God was found dead, and they all gathered in one tiny field to discuss this unprecedented event. The only agreement they could reach was that they must discover the perpetrator of this act, but none knew who it was.

The discussion lasted for sixty-seven hours, until one of the Gods named Ralph decided to speak. “I believe I know who did this to us all,” he declared. He pointed directly at Harvey’s eyes. “It was him, and let any contradict me who have better evidence!”

But none did, and the Gods immediately agreed that Harvey must have been the actor. Only Letitia kept any faith in her friend, but her cries were drowned by the roar of the rest of the Gods.

The Gods immediately decided that Harvey must be removed from Earth, and in an instant, he was. All was blackness and cold, and Harvey wept tears that did not fall and were not wet.

And then a tiny light appeared, and it grew and became blindingly bright, and from it burst beloved Letitia, for Paradise without Love is not Paradise, and so her choice was simple.

The light exploded with dirt, and our Gods spent many days assembling each grain into the World that we know. They created but one bit of life, however: The first person, Alatia, was the last of their works that we know of, and as they breathed life into her they disappeared into heavens of which we cannot conceive. But we know that Harvey and Letitia are still working, for they promised Alatia that one day they would bring her, and all of her children to Earth with them, where they could revel in all of its Four Corners.

And it is that which drives all of our actions today.

Unicorn City Cast Named

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , on August 17, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

I’m delighted to say that Unicorn City is cast and rehearsals begin tonight. The cast is:

Laura Korn – Xandra the Unicorn

Alison Logan – Brandy the Unicorn

Charlsey Miller – Laila

Paul Rigano – Ek

Emily Adams – Emmaline

Tiffany Taylor – Wajida

Greg Landgraf – Pinchal

Doug Albers – Baron Brange

Derick Hawksworth – Zeb

Domenic Macsis – Bert

Also, watch this site for a special series, The History of Aathenaar. Commissioned by Baron Brange shortly before the events of Unicorn City, the series starts at the creation of the world and describes how the town, and its unicorn stables, developed. It might not be 100% accurate — it was, after all, commissioned by the baron and a bard must be mindful of who is paying his or her wages — but it should be interesting and amusing nonetheless.

The History of Aathenaar will begin tomorrow and run through the opening of Unicorn City October 15. That’s 18 parts, if you’re keeping track. (Not that you have any particular reason to be.) And while it’s independent of the musical, reading it may well give insight that will heighten your enjoyment of the play that much more.