Short Stories

Möri, Björi, and Russ

Mori Bjori and Russ

Forc’d from their homes

To a new lande they went,

Due to the rising

Coste of rent.

Dearest reader, the tale that begins our journey into the fyne hist’ry of the Realm tells of the first peoples to travel west o’er the mighty Rumpback Mountains and into Realmland. Uprooted from their homes, and with none but the clothes on their backs and the will to survive – or at least to not die painfully – they braved many a danger to establish their bloodlines in this new land.

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A long time ago, in the Elderlands east of the Rumpback Mountains, there lived three brothers by the names of Möri, Björi, and Russ. This was a time before kings and castles, when all the inhabitants of Realmland were but barbarian tribes, uncouth in manners and not yet enlightened by the civilizing Hand of absolute monarchy.

Nevertheless, they lived in a fertile country called the Idyll Plains, which was abundant of food, drink, and women, and bereft of enemies who could take these from them. They lived many a year in harmony with the land, happily frolicking with their women and growing their clan in number.

But one day, their tribal chief decided that Möri, Björi, and Russ’s humble corner of the Idyll Plains was perfectly suited for the construction of a sporting arena. In this arena would be played the tribe’s favorite sport of Ox-Jumping, which involves multiple competitors jumping over an ox (though the particular rules used at that time are now lost to us). The chief thusly invoked the power of eminent domain and plowed over the land ‘round their homes to build his arena. For a while, the brothers fought back and held onto the last scraps of their property, until finally an influx of artists, craft alewives, and lastly, a Starbucks, caused the price of rent to skyrocket. They could no longer afford to resist and determined to find a new home. Thus, with their possessions, their wives (which were not yet legally considered possessions), and their progeny, they set off westward.

Ox-Jumping

The ancient sport of Ox-Jumping hath been among the moste popular in the Realm since the tyme of the Elderkin. Whilst the original rules of the game are lost upon us, the modern rules, as recorded in the Royal Rulebooke of Tournaments and Jousts, are as follows:

A large and vigorous ox bull enters the arena to the sound of great music and fanfare. Then the players – eleven from each side – follow suit. In the ensuing hours, both teams compete to see whomst can jump o’er the ox more tymes and amass more points. A jump sidewise o’er the ox counteth as one point for the team, a jump lengthwise counteth as two points, and a player being trampled underfoot or otherwise kilt counteth as three points for the ox. Only three substitutions are allowed, so if more than three of a team’s players are speared on the ox’s sharp thrashing horns or crushed by its mighty stomping hooves, they cannot be replaced. The match ends when the crowd generally loses interest or is otherwise too drunk to comprehend what is happening, at which point a winner is declared.

As per tradition, the surviving players and the ox retire to the pub afterwards to drink turnipwine and nurse their wounds. To date, no fan, player, or ox has been sober enough following a match to remember who won.

Many hard months into their journey they climbed the mightiest peak of the Rumpback Mountains to survey the land and see where they would make their home. Looking south, Möri saw in the distance an infernal and wretched swampland. The place appeared to be ablaze in ever-burning flames, and on the southerly wind he could smell faint hints of decay and death. Being driven from his homeland had made Möri cruel. So in this forsaken mire he determined to make his home. He set off down the mountain with his followers, whereupon he established the race of vile swamp creatures that now inhabit the Flaming Infernal Swamplands, adopting Fyre as the symbol of their race.

Looking north, Björi gazed upon a frozen tundra of ice and snow. Björi was a lover of work and profit, but was of a rather somber disposition and was also an introvert. He figured this would make the perfectly desolate location for him to establish his home, where he and his descendants could toil in isolation, uninhibited by the woes of social interaction. Thus, he set off with his followers and established the race of Snow Elves, who to this day still toil endlessly in their frozen Northlands. They adopted the Gift as their banner to represent the grossly capitalistic and materialistic nature of their kind.

Being rather dull and inattentive, and always considered the black shep of the family, Russ continued wandering west without fully comprehending the events taking place around him. He didn’t notice his brothers had parted ways until many weeks later. By then he had already descended from the mountain, and it was a long way back whence he came. He was quite saddened at the loss of his brethren, but his feet hurt and he didn’t really feel like walking anymore, so he established his home right where he was on the Flaxene Plains.

After many days of just sort of lying around idly and drinking turnipwine, Russ’s wife finally approached him and said, “Thou needeth to fynd a jobbe,” whereupon he said, “Nay.”

This back-and-forth continued for some weeks ‘til it just so happened, as he was lying drunk under the shade of a Hickleknob tree, a wild asse trod up to him.

“Lo, there stranger! What a pleasant surprise,” said the asse. “Be that a satchel of turnipwine thou art wielding to whet thy whits?”

“Indeed, it is,” said Russ, taken quite aback by the talking asse before him.

“Well, then, let us have a sip,” said the asse. “My kind are built of hardy stock, and are among the hardest workers on this side of the Rumpback Mountains. But even so, I have wandered many a day without foode or drink and would be much indebted to a companion who could relieve my aching asse-throat.”

“What luck!” cried Russ. “For it seems our paths have crossed at a most opportune tyme. For, thou sees, thou art a hardworking beast of burden who lacks good foode and wine. At the same tyme, my wench of a wife won’t stop nagging me about my lack of zeal for physical labours, but I have all the turnipwine an asse could drink and all the asse-foode it could eat.”

Seeing the great opportunity for a mutually beneficent relationship to form, Russ and the asse quickly worked out a deal. They agreed that if the asse would do Russ’s work for him, he would provide for it food, shelter, and all the she-assen it could ever desire. Their pact thus signed, Russ adopted the Royal Asse as the symbol of his kind, who became the race of men. (It is known today that peasants and other lowborns are descended from Russ’s humble stock, whilst the nobility are of different, much fairer bloodline.)

Since that day, man and beast have been bound together. Both sides have continued to honour the agreement, though many hold ’tis a one-sided affair, hence the saying, “to get ye asse end of ye deal.”