Archive for Aathenaar

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part 18: A Well-Deserved Opulence

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

The Baron caused to be raised the most magnificent of edifices to house the unicorn. It was a round building measuring 40 cubits across and fully 140 cubits in circumference. It featured twelve stately turrets on the roof, spread as close to equally around the edge as could be arranged, and outer walls made of stone reinforced with gleaming bronze. The interior was decorated tastefully in the style of the Marwani school, with its brightly colored overstuffed pillows and ceilings of silvered glass.

The unicorn ate from feeding bins lined with real bone accents. (The bone came from one of the builders who was tragically killed during the construction period. We must insist that the death was not related to any of the three major collapses that befell the building, for the Baron personally ensured the safety of the work site. Instead, the man was killed by his wife in a purely domestic squabble, and his remains were utilized in this way to honor his memory. When it was discovered that his bones were not quite enough to complete the bins, his wife was brought to justice and her bones added to the supply.)

The stable opened into a delightful field with plenty of room for frolic and gambol, as well as a collection of cuttings from the Baron’s trees where the unicorn could achieve a measure of solitude.

To those wags who suggest that it might be unseemly to provide so much to creatures simply for their beauty when simply surviving in the area was so challenging for so many, it must be made clear that the value that this unicorn provided the village of Aathenaar more than justified it. We dare not justify this attitude with further comment.

The unicorn was very clearly satisfied with its new home, as it ate contentedly and rested with a sense of utter peace. It felt not even loneliness for others of its kind, for soon others began showing up, completely on their own volition, looking wistfully at the luxury offered within the fences of the stable. The Baron ordered that all such unicorns should be welcomed into the stable and cared for as his own flesh and blood, and in this way did their number reach eight or twelve.

To this day does their noble spirit imbue the town of Aathenaar, brightening its spirits as the blinking of the Western Leafstar brightens the night sky.

And so, as this history approaches the standings of the current day, I humbly submit it to the good Baron Brange. In hope that he may find it informative and delightful, and that others might as well, and that the Baron remain in fine health and spirit with nothing untoward befalling him, I remain:

Repatia of Rookwood Falls

[her signature and seal]

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Seventeen: The Approach of Light

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , on October 12, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

It is commonly claimed that the unicorn—that finest, most perfectly noble of all beasts, whose spirit did imbue Alatia to enable her to give birth to the first of the race of man—will only approach the most virtuous of maidens.

While we must acknowledge the comfort that this legend can provide the listener (for in a world where cruelty does exist and often goes unpunished, we ought to celebrate those situations in which virtue is rewarded), we must also insist that it is not strictly true.

Like most legends, however, this one is based in truth. Unicorns are not, in fact, particularly concerned for the sexual proclivities of those they honor with their presence, and while their contact with people is limited overall, that contact is not strictly limited to those of the female gender.

No, the unicorn’s sole concern is purity of heart. And that fact ought to convince you of the veracity of this seemingly shocking tale:

Baron Brange was taking a constitutional through the Jungles of Anaria, when suddenly he noticed a beautiful, gentle glow through the overgrowth. Drawn to it he was, and he approached it with due caution, but also an overwhelming sense of security.

In a small clearing, he discovered the source of the glow: It was a unicorn, and one that was every bit as glorious as the poems might suggest.

It noticed the good Baron and gazed upon him. What the unicorn might have been doing—whether examining the Baron’s manner, or his physiognomy, or perhaps performing its own magical arts to determine the Baron’s character—the Baron can tell us nothing, for he stood transfixed, simply cherishing this most rare of opportunities.

Knowing the purity of heart that the good Baron possesses, it is hardly surprising that the unicorn eventually approached the Baron (who would like it to be known that he has had a number of romantic partners that demonstrates his virility, tenderness, and mastery of technique).

And it approached him so enthusiastically that he needed not give the order for his party to deploy the ropes, nets, and sleeping drugs they had brought solely for defense against the aggressive owlbears known to stalk the area.

The unicorn nuzzled the good Baron with its horn, filling him with a sense of supreme well-being and joy. “I salute you, noble Unicorn,” the Baron declared, “and I thank you for allowing me to grace you with my presence.”

So moved was the unicorn by this speech that when the Baron gave his party the direction to turn for home, he found that the group’s number had increased by one: The unicorn was following him.

Having already demonstrated the generosity of his spirit, it is hardly surprising that the Baron’s response to this was to heartily inform the unicorn that “Of course my household has room for you!” But even the Baron could not overlook the differences in species that might make his manor house ill-suited for a unicorn’s domicile.

His response to this was to order the construction of a stable: A stable of such grandeur and luxury that this unicorn would never want for anything but could instead live a fulfilling life of ease and abundance.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Sixteen: Against the Winged Serpent

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

But while the Baron’s efforts removed the wicked witch Wajida’s presence from Aathenaar, nothing could remove Aathenaar’s presence from Wajida’s mind. It is a believed fact that she obsessed over this fair village, yearning constantly to conquer but being forced, by the Baron’s efforts, to chew instead on the gristle of failed attempts and hate.

There was the time a cloud of locusts settled in the town’s fields, no doubt a conjuration of the witch’s, if not pets that she decided to sacrifice in her lust for power. The locusts proved to be trivial in the face of Aathenaar’s resourcefulness. On, perhaps, a dare, a peasant one day bit into one of these insects—and declared it delicious. The news of this discovery spread among the people of Aathenaar, and before long dozens of clever and tasty recipes had been developed.

Upon seeing how popular the locusts were as food, Baron Brange immediately decreed that the townspeople could keep every one they caught for themselves, instead of submitting a portion as tax to the Baron for the services he rendered. (In exchange for this arrangement, the Baron agreed to accept a larger share of the perfectly nourishing but significantly more mundane grains and meats that the town produced.)

But Wajida is single-minded in her wickedness, and she refused to take the clear message that setbacks such as this offered her. And so, when the peak of Naliar Hill rumbled with rage, there was little doubt what had caused it: Wajida had summoned a dragon to threaten the town.

It confirmed its scaly green existence a few days later, swooping into town and devouring three of the Baron’s cows that were grazing in the field of a peasant who cared for them as companions. With a roar of flame that severely handicapped two professional young ladies by singeing their enormous golden bouffants, it took flight, returning only to grab a pair of lads playing round-o-fours by a large rock for dessert before retiring to its lair to sleep and digest.

The Baron knew that this must not be allowed to pass unanswered. He strode to the top of Naliar Hill confidently, for the Baron had always had a certain rapport with snakes of all kinds. “Dragon,” he declared. “You are not welcome here. Leave at once.”

The dragon, by the Baron’s report, opened one of its eyes and squinted it in a manner that failed to show the proper deference to the Baron’s station. The Baron, however, felt full confidence in his position, and so he did something that would be foolish for anyone without such confidence: He slapped the dragon across the nose.

The beast was shocked, as are all seemingly terrifying individuals when they are stood up to. Now having its full attention, the Baron repeated his order: “Dragon, you are not welcome here. Leave at once.”

The dragon considered, if whatever its reptilian brain did might be called that. But before long, it decided that the Baron clearly had the wherewithal to carry out his implied threat. The dragon meekly lumbered out of the cave and took to the sky, never to be heard from again.

The Land of Coventra

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

Coventra is the world where Unicorn City is set. (Specifically, Unicorn City is set in Aathenaar, one of the southwestern cities.)

For your orientation-related amusement, we offer this map of Coventra.

Full map of Coventra

Map of Coventra

Click on the map for a larger version, or see details of the northwest (including beautiful Pinge Canyon), northeast (home to the famed Salty Shemork Lake), southwest (where you’ll find Aathenaar) and southeast (dominated by the Paquerine Swamp).

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Fifteen: Wicked, Wicked, Wicked

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

One day a most unwelcome visitor came to Aathenaar.

There can be no doubt that she came—invaded, even—from one of Coventra’s distant city-states; perhaps the central Vakid desert, where the antisocial thrive, or the highlands of Crandide, where one is free to pursue knowledge of the heinous and unnatural without the restraints of decency.

She rode into town on the back of a terrible black goat, who belched flames from its nostrils at regular intervals, much as the noxious gases of the Paquerine Swamp bubble to the surface every six minutes.

“I am Wajida!” she cackled, punctuating this seemingly simple declaration with a terrifying display of pyrotechnics from the tip of her hell-spawned wand.

“I yearn for ale!” she demanded to a lad of no more than six or seven. This poor boy, scared witless at the sudden intrusion into his secure world, nevertheless sketched a bow and promised to procure some, though he had no money of his own and would have to beg it at the Red Dragon Tavern.

This was hardly enough for the wicked witch. “Faster!” she insisted, but it was clear that she had no concern for patience; the boy had barely raced across the street when she brandished her wand and incanted a set of foul words that have not come down to us and that we would not repeat if they had. The effect of these words has come down to us, however: A beam of shot forth from the wand and struck the running boy in his back, and then he disappeared, and on his spot was a rather shocked-looking ferret.

The people of Aathenaar, wisely, gathered those dear to them and retreated to what security their homes could offer. (Even the boy-turned-ferret’s distraught mother, who managed to lure her rodent-son to the family home with a piece of moldy cheese.)

There was only one who dared brave the witch’s incursion into the peaceful town of Aathenaar. That man, naturally, was Baron Brange. Upon learning of the witch’s presence, he marched into town to address her.

Baron Brange found Wajida examining a flowerbox with much the same demeanor as a queen might inspect her new manor’s crown moulding. Baron Brange approached her silently, and he was at her shoulder while she was still unaware of his presence. He announced himself by bending down to the goat’s ear and commanding quite forcefully: “Bad goat!”

The goat, who was just rearing up for another expulsion of fire, reconsidered this course of action.

Wajida was unamused. “I am Wajida, and this is now my town,” she declared.

“I am Baron Brange, and I think not,” Brange retorted.

Wajida attempted her infernal magicks at the good Baron. Whether it was the same spell or one entirely different we cannot say, for the Baron was careful and wise, and understood that danger could approach at any time. He therefore wore at all times a rare and clever charm that protected him against witchcraft, and Wajida’s spell bounced off his person.

Brange laughed at this—a human, decent laugh, as distinguished from Wajida’s cackle, but deep and booming and resonant with power. When he finished, he intoned: “Your time here is done, witch. Begone, and return not!”

Even the ballistae of hell could not withstand such a show of force and fortitude from Baron Brange. Wajida bowed her head and directed her steed to carry her out of the village at its maximum speed, an order that the beast seemed only too happy to comply with.

Witchcraft has never again reared its head within the boundaries of Aathenaar, but the good Baron remains vigilant and will take whatever action proves necessary to protect the fair village.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Fourteen: The Dry Season

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

The village of Aathenaar is well-known for how it faces the harsh conditions of nature with grace and fortitude. But as with all things natural, such conditions ebb and flow in much the same way as the dancing rotabird’s mating cries can get louder and more desperate for up to three hours and fourteen minutes until they suddenly drop off.

One of the harshest periods in memory came a dozen years ago, as a drought settled across the land.

It started innocently enough. The town truly basked in the series of fair days that marked the springtime that year. They were a boon both to the farmers, who found their soil relatively easy to work and finished their planting in record time, and the merchants, whose efforts were aided by the dirt roads that remained firm and easily passable throughout the season.

How pleasant and carefree those days must have been! But all things pleasant and carefree must end, and for Aathenaar it occurred one day shortly after midsummer.

“‘Tis a lovely day,” suggested a peasant named Yog as he entered the Red Dragon Tavern after his day’s exertions—less, it must be said, because he desired the ale that he ordered than because he yearned to see the smile and exchange a few pleasantries with the pretty barmaid, whose name was Hox.

“‘Tis always lovely when you visit,” Hox said, with the clear conviction that only comes from uttering the same words at least a thousand different times to a hundred different people.

“Lurghmah nnch,” Yog replied.

Hox smiled and poured the besmitten peasant a drink. “Of course,” she added idly, “it has been quite a while since the weather has offered anything about which to complain.”

“Yaaah,” Yog said breathlessly. “My crops haven’t even sprouted yet.”

Hox became serious at hearing this. “That’s not good, is it, Yak?”

“Not precisely,” Yog acknowledged, though he was still a bit more delighted that Hox knew so many of the letters in his name than he was worried about the observation.

Of course, the rest of the village was not so lovestruck by Hox, at least not at that precise moment, and her observation spread almost instantaneously through the town on invisible roadways as if it were rumor.

Within a few minutes, people began showing up at the Red Dragon Tavern, and in an hour, every seat and every bit of standing room was occupied, with the most-destitute and worst-smelling at the door straining to hear.

“We must do something!” they cried as one.

“There is a pond near the peak of Naliar Hill. Perhaps we might dig channels in the ground, or create them out of stone, and thus deliver the water to our town where we might use it to sustain our livelihoods,” came one suggestion. Unfortunately, it was made by an ogre-faced young man dressed only in a sack who was standing outside the doors, and therefore it was not heard by the crowd in the main room.

Two loud knocks rang throughout the tavern, and crowded as it was, the assembled humanity split into to. The knocks were made by Baron Brange, and so esteemed was he that all gathered knew the importance of giving him a path to the front.

Brange not only reached the front, he climbed atop the bar and turned to address his subjects. So tall was he that when he stood erect his head produced a hole in the thatched roof, but the tavern owner knew that his words would be of vital importance and did not mind.

“My people,” Brange said. “I know of your concern for the lack of rainfall that Aathenaar has faced of late. I have also taken steps to counter it. I have just finished communing with both Letitia and Harvey, they whose spirits imbue the Four Corners of the Earth. I have informed them of our needs, and they have assured me that they will turn their attention to our village as soon as possible.”

The tavern erupted in cheers, and the good Baron was delivered out of the tavern and back to his home on the shoulders of those assembled. And the Baron’s words proved truthful, for the rains arrived a scant two months later, when all who still lived gathered to dance in the moisture and praise the Baron’s name.

The Countdown is On

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , on September 30, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

After more than a year, we’re finally on the verge of opening Unicorn City. (Two weeks and two days left, if you’re counting.)

There’s a fair amount of new stuff on the site that I’ll be highlighting over the next few days. And the first one is the new Glorious History of Aathenaar page. It contains all of the parts of the bard’s tale (story, not old computer game) that have been posted so far (13 out of 18), all in order and conveniently arranged on a single page. If you haven’t been following, I hope you’ll take a look; you’ll meet several of the characters from Unicorn City, and gain some insight on the town and how it got to be the way that it is. You’ll also get a bunch of propaganda—it is written at the baron’s behest, after all—but I’m sure you can work it out. (Or at the very least, learn about the Salty Shemork or the horrors of Pinge.)

Enjoy!

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Ten: The Magnificent Baron Brange

Posted in After, Life, Shows with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

Aathenaar’s Modern Era began nearly seventeen years ago. On a windy, cold early spring day, a horrified cry arose from within the domicile of Baron Bindek. Bindek’s servants, showing loyalty if not good sense, rushed to their master’s side to discover a horrifying sight.

Bindek was dead, and gushing with blood. At least, most of him was; his head was roughly separated from the torso and sat across the room, glaring at that one uneven brick in the hearth that had caused him so much consternation for so many years. That brick was the least of his problems, though, as a bloody axe head had managed to lodge itself in some of the hearth’s ancient mortar, and that was clearly causing structural as well as cosmetic damage.

Bindek’s body was not alone. The servants arrived to discover Brange, his younger and kinder brother, covered in blood.

“Woe betide Aathenaar on this day of great tragedy!” wailed Brange, overcome by grief at the loss of his beloved sibling. “I was just arriving for a lovely visit with my elder brother when I discovered him in this terrible state. Naturally, I went to embrace him, in hopes of somehow preventing his life force from escaping forever, but alas! I was too late!”

Out of respect for his late brother, Brange waited a full two hours before ascending to the position of Baron of Aathenaar. And what a wondrous ceremony it was! Townspeople marched through the town, shouting slogans of love and pride for their village. Many carried signs as well, although many who did lacked the ability to write and so the slogans those signs bore cannot be considered representative of the humor of the people. The towns bakers produced mountains of pastries and breads as if they had been preparing for weeks. Even a double rainbow could be seen in the air above Brange’s head as he swore the Oath of Baronship. (For this reason, the baron’s first official speech in his office was: “Oh wow, aaaaahhhh! Double rainbow all across the sky! Oh my Harvey it’s so bright and vivid!”)

And so did Aathenaar continue and thrive. From ashes always come new growth, and from the ashes of the tragedy of Baron Bindek grew an era of prosperity and development such as Aathenaar has never seen before.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Eight: Bovine Intervention

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , , on September 11, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

Cilla explained her plan to the crowd that had assembled, and they agreed as one to carry it out at once.

Such a flurry of industry was seen that day! The town divided itself into rudimentary committees. Some took on the arduous task of drawing water from the town’s well, coming dangerously close to draining it. Some of the older or less fit townspeople helped by mixing supplies, while a great many took shifts at transporting materials.

Young children got involved in the labor, and those who were truly too young shouted their encouragement to their friends and parents. Even babies too young to walk or speak seemed to understand the momentousness of the town’s activity, and they collectively put a moratorium on crying and screaming and soiling themselves for the day.

At the end of the long day, the people of Aathenaar had produced bucketfuls of their finest, purest mud, and delivered it to the field containing the town’s finest livestock. A ballot was held to select the finest of the cows for use in Cilla’s plan; each resident put his own cow first and an enormous Northern White named Staf second. With no clear winner, a lottery was held, and a noble brown-and-black cow, also named Staf, was chosen to be the centerpiece of the plan.

Staf was about to become the Aathenaarian Cow.

The townspeople applied copious amounts of their fine mud to Staf’s body, until he was coated so thoroughly that one could only identify him by the particular calmness in his soul. Then they added more mud, and some more, until it was all applied. Cilla took her finger, and using it as a feather quill she wrote in this mud the words “Ha ha.”

Barely able to contain their high spirits, the people of Aathenaar brought their candles to light the path to Freedampton. Outside of town, they hid behind a hill while Cilla entered and raised a crowd.

“Good people of Freedampton!” she cried. “The people of Aathenaar believe that friendship is a far more noble path than antipathy, and we therefore desire to end our town’s rivalry. We wish to present you with a gift to show our regard.”

This said, Cilla led the assembled crowd to the base of the hill behind which Staf was waiting. She gave a signal to the lookout waiting atop the hill, who in turn gestured that the crowd should bring Staf up.

Staf was a quite compliant beast and climbed the hill with little struggle. When he reached the top, the people of Aathenaar waved mirthfully at the Freedamptonites, and several of the children used their candles to illuminate the carefully crafted message.

After a brief moment of silence, during which Freedampton processed the multiple layers of the prank that had been perpetuated upon them, its people began to laugh. First titters, then giggles, and finally the cathartic guffaws of those who realize that they have been bested.

The people of Freedampton climbed the hill and embraced the people of Aathenaar as brothers and sisters, and swore a new bond of friendship between the two towns. And that is why, to this day, the people of Aathenaar are respected by the people of Freedampton above all others.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Seven: A Tale of Two Rivals

Posted in Shows, Unicorn City with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Greg Landgraf

With peace instituted throughout the world of Coventra, civilization had the opportunity to flourish. And so it did for thousands of years, as war never again dragged its bitter claw across the land.

But, as such things sometimes transpire, tensions settled below the surface, so that neighboring regions would grin to each other’s faces while awaiting the opportunity to stab each other, in a purely metaphorical sense.

Such a thing happened with Aathenaar and Freedampton. The two towns were each other’s nearest neighbors, standing less than two leagues apart. But in temper they could not have been more distant. Where the people of Aathenaar were humble, those of Freedampton were haughty. Freedamptonites were lazy while Aathenaarians were industrious. And Aathenaar’s populace lived in homes made of the district’s fine mud, while Freedampton’s had to live in houses of garish stone or wood, with windows that exposed one’s most private moments to the entire world.

“How many Freedamptonites does it take to play a game of backgammon?” went a popular Aathenaar joke at the time. “Thirteen: two to play, two to shout out their instructions, four to roll the dice, two to move the pieces, two to pay everybody’s wages, and one to work the doubling cube.”

Freedamptonites would counter by facetiously claiming that Aathenaarians were so fundamentally subnormal that they found it impossible to deliver a joke in fewer than five breaths—a patently absurd suggestion, since so gifted were the Aathenaarians in the art of joke-telling that they could deliver the entire backgammon punchline in no more than two.

Of course, this rivalry had implications beyond mere hurt feelings. In trade, for example, both villages were fierce competitors, with Freedampton’s merchants claiming superiority of their occa wood and tocic stone to Aathenaar’s excellent selection of muds, while Aathenaar made the obvious questions about Freedampton’s offerings’ permanence and about the ethics of extracting those materials whatsoever.

Despite the wisdom of Aathenaar’s position, other merchants were dazzled by the Freedamptonite’s glib words and tawdry showmanship. Freedampton experienced a boom of wealth such as had never been seen.

Occasionally a Freedamptonite, no doubt drunk from his revelries, would make the trek to Aathenaar, dressed as quite the dandy in the finest silks, for no purpose but to gloat of his wealth. The people of Aathenaar would typically greet this boastfulness by reaching down to grab two handfuls of mud and splattering it across his garments, but as often as not, the immodest Freedamptonite would simply strip his muddy clothes and declare “Keep it! I have dozens more at home!”

While Aathenaarians agreed that they always got the better of these exchanges, the intrusions were nevertheless a distraction from the peaceful and efficient life the town had become accustomed to.

Early one morning the town was awoken by a cry such as no one had ever heard before. Most residents grumbled at this new turn that Freedampton’s incitements had taken, but those who investigated discovered that the noise came from a very different source: A young Aathenaarian woman named Cilla.