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On the Life of Grr - courtesy of fitz

by Greywolf-ELM

I do not remember what my kind call me any longer, but I do remember the day of my passage to manhood. Eight of us stood there waiting for our chief and his adviser to ascend and tell us our task. Slowly the chief's headdress could be seen rising from the valley towards the bonfire, spiritual adviser at his side.

Excellent, I see all the younglings are ready, let the festivities begin. shouts the chieftain.

With that, food and liquor are consumed in mass quantities. As the first stars begin to twinkle in the sky the shaman suddenly turns ice cold for many moments.

It is time! shouts the shaman and he begins to dancing around the fire throwing in herbs of all sorts and chanting very loudly.

Smoke begins to fill the sky such that both the setting suns and rising stars are completely blocked from view. The shaman continues to chant for what feels like an eternity, the reality of what is coming beginning to settle in, soon we would be men.

The old grizzly! shouts out the shaman.

The roar of the crowd is intense, everyone knows what this means, when we return we would be revered within the tribe, the females of our choice. The spirits this day had truly blessed us. Quickly we all grabbed our spears and morningstars, packed our bags, and finished up any last details.

That night we set out, our singular purpose driving all of us to our goal; the Grizzly. As we got further from the camp and deeper into the forest, the creatures of the forest began announcing to each other our presence as we crashed through the dense foliage. As the adrenaline of our trials began to creep out of our systems, the need for sleep became more pressing.

Let us make camp in this small clearing; we'll setup guards of 2 in 2 hour shifts, said one whom I do not remember.

The night passed uneventfully, the next morning we continued our search for the old grizzly. It would take several days before we would finally find that old bear, what followed was a slaughter, that old bear fought as if the spirits of the forest fuelled her on, One by one we began to drop, but with each one that dropped the wounds in her side became more and more grievous.

The battle raged on until the only two surviving where myself and the old grizzly, exhaustion was settling into every one of my bones and I could barely keep my weapons up to defend myself if she were to attack, but as I looked across the field to my opponent I could see the pain of the wounds she had taken were also beginning to take it's toll. If I could just muster enough strength for one last charge I would bring her down and be a men of men in my tribe.

Slowly I drew in every ounce of strength I had left, I looked up at my opponent again preparing to charge in and smash its skull. As I gazed at the grizzly bear and watched her preparing to defend herself one last time I raised my morningstar let out a scream and ...

WHAM, out of nowhere she leapt, slamming me to the ground and knocking the last breath of life out of me.

Slowly the darkness left my head, I could feel the cold stone against my fast, but how could this be? I had seen her leap and kill me, but there was no denying the stone either. As I opened first one then another eye I could see the black and white outlines of two bear cubs licking their wounded mother. But something was very different with my surrounding, I could see shadows of creatures and plants and everything else imaginable shifting in and out of my vision and creepier still, they appeared to be talking. What was this, who were all these silhouettes, panic was setting in, fear overwhelming everything I knew.

Greetings hobgoblin, I am Baknir and what you are seeing is the spirit world.

The spirit world, that was a place only shamans dared venture, and I was no shaman.

Why can I see you, why am I alive, where am I? I furiously screamed, trying to make sense of it.

You have been awakened, probably the trauma of your last fight. said Baknir.

Finally I was beginning to get some focus, and I began to realise Baknir was a spirit that seemed tied to the old grizzly.

I will be your guide and mentor as you learn the ways of spirits, but it comes with a cost, the old mother has taken many grievous wounds and her cubs will need tending to and care, you must help them or this forest will have to endure a change in it's balance as these are the last of their kind here.

So you grace me with this 'gift' in exchange for slavery? I challenged.

I offer you no 'gift' as you would call it, but without guidance the spirits will devour you and leave you nothing but a shell. If you wish not my help, then I will ask none of you.

With that the spirit turned and went away from me. As I watched, I could see the spirits moving in my direction, but then all of them vanished, all I could feel was my body being assaulted, all of my senses collapsing around me.

Fine! I screamed, I will help in exchange for your help.

Nothing, everything was going black again, I couldn't even feel my nose.

More time passed, how much I will never know, but when I awoke the sun was barely lighting the cave entrance and the cubs where both curled up against their now dead mother.

Remember this young one, spirits are not forgiving nor do they have the same sense of morals that you and your kind might or might not have. I agree to help you and you agree to help me, let it be well understood.

I understand was my only response.

Many seasons passed, I kept my end of the bargain and in return I was taught how to deal with the duality of existence between my world and Baknir's. During this time I would gain the attention of a few spirits including the spirit of my grandmother. Through her I would learn some basic healing gifts that would help to keep the cubs and myself healthy against the perils of life.

Another spirit that I would capture the attention of was that of a treant who was cut down in his prime. Knuck as he called himself was very prideful and often hard to negotiate with, but through him I was granted strength beyond any measure. He would often demand in return that I would attack those who would harm the forest, but I never really had a problem with this.

Crackle, the last of my current spirit companions, showed just as the last embers of a campfire set by some foolish humans was burning out. The humans made for an excellent dinner that night, and despite his fiery temper Crackle has made for a constant companion since then.

Eventually the bears grew to full size, and I had completed my obligation to Baknir, but in the time we had been together our relationship had shifted from an agreement to a true friendship. So even after they left to go out and continue the circle of life, Baknir, Crackle, Ma'In'Gor, Knuck and myself continued to work to keep the forest safe from intruders.

One night all of us could sense something very dangerous and powerful had entered the forest. As we set out to investigate, even the spirits seems to be uneasy at what was out there. Before I even knew what happened all was dark again.

Grr! Wake up! screamed Baknir.

The pounding in my head was horrible, and Baknir's screaming wasn't helping. I could again feel cold stone pressed against my cheek. As I worked to regain some consciousness I opened my eyes just a crack and could several feet, the bodies attached seemed to be trolls of some sort. Screams of pain could be heard occasionally as well.

The spirits of this place are tainted Baknir whispered,
I sense a powerful and ancient influence is somehow involved.

What would you have me do? I asked somewhat rhetorically as I could also feel the shackles around both my arms and legs.

Wait for now, there is another nearby who commands much attention from the spirits as well, I sense he will be here shortly.

And so for now, we wait.

Next Up: Trolls with a Vacuum? - June-ish-2006