Chapter Two: Greenwock’s Weird Words
The lore-keeper, who formally introduced himself as Greenwock, led Aibinn through the dim library to a small room behind a bookshelf where he slept. The room was furnished simply, with a short but finely carven bed, a singular bronze lantern (which looked quite fine for a man of such frugality), a rather large traveler’s chest, and a small painting of a young man and a woman. Greenwock opened the chest and begin to dig through it aggressively.
In order to break the rather loud silence, Aibinn asked how Greenwock’s late wife had come across such a curious object as a pyramid of translucency. Greenwock turned his head briefly from his searching and said, “The old coot was the town’s healer, after that witch you just read about left us for her ungodly marsh. She ran into strange folk under such an occupation, and this was her most prized item in a life of oddity. Some feller she helped left it to her, and she left it to me. Finally I think it’ll be put to practical use.”
Greenwock’s eyes lit up as his roving hand obviously found what it was searching for. He pulled a small object, triangular in shape and magenta in hue, from amidst a heap of clothes and tools. He blew on the pyramid and dust flew from it. Aibinn’s eyebrows raised as the newly stimulated pyramid gave off a wavy glow that cast long, dark shadows in the bedchamber, drowning out the warm light of the pathetic lantern. “Here it is!”, yelped the old man, “I was beginnin’ ter think I wouldn’t find it.” He extended his frail arm and dropped the object into Aibinn’s outstretched hand. “Go ahead, try it, boy,” said Greenwock, “It works, it works.”
As Aibinn focused his attention on the item (as he did with his orb) he felt a cold sensation up and down his form as its sorcery was manipulated. The Rook looked down at himself and found, as the librarian had promised, no visible thing. Even the pyramid had disappeared from view. Greenfock clapped and shrieked with glee like a small child watching a parent perform a rudimentary trick. “I told you she works! Now, now, if you want to use it beyond this room, heed my task!” Aibinn retrieved his concentration from the pyramid and became solid again. He took out his book-journal and briefly scribbled a description of the object and its wondrous effects.
Greenfock grew rather impatient with Aibinn’s scribe-work, and said, “Put that book away, boy, we have an engagement to discuss!” Aibinn looked up, turning more than a little red as he realized his rudeness, and putting his book back in its place behind his cloak. Greenfock took a scroll from under his shirt and unrolled it. He held out the scroll in front of the Rook’s face so that he could see it clearly. Peering down his rather long nose, Rook could make out on the yellowed paper a crude drawing of what looked like an upright log with eyes, legs, arms, and a mouth. “This vile creature is a Wyrdwit. It disguises itself as but a plain, rotten tree, but if you get too close, WHAM! It gives you a nasty bite! I know meself sir, I know meself. I’ve got a little cabin a few hours travel north of this town where I go to study in my leisure time, if you will, but a few weeks ago I was goin’ up there to read as normal, and one of these had taken up in my home! So this is my task. Rid me of this here cursed critter, and the pyramid is yours. To borrow, mind!” Greenfock added this last bit with a scowl. He seemed to know the value of his prize. “To get there, I’d likely need a way, if you understand,” said Rook, with a twinkle in his bright black eye. Greenfock unrolled the scroll some more to a blank place and produced an even more haphazard sketch than that of the Wyrdwit which was supposed to suggest a map. “Follow this,” spake he, and shoved the curious paper into the Rook’s free hand. Aibinn gave his companion a gracious pat on the shoulder and turned to leave. As he was bending down to exit the low door of the bedroom, he turned his head back and asked with a benign smirk, “Can I keep that Shroomuir book from earlier, Lord Greenfock? Consider it immediate compensation for what will undoubtedly be a difficult task.” The bent librarian was rearranging the items in his chest, but he looked up with a slight scowl. “I still think it were best if you stayed away from that abnormal place, boy. But I suppose, if you must have it.” He waved his hand as if swatting away a vexing relative.
Aibinn resolved to depart on his quest immediately; perhaps this Wyrdwit would be surprised if it were disturbed under cover of dark. He stepped from the library’s stoop; the night wind was sharp even in the warmer months here. The mists, so characteristic of this locale, had begun to set in under a thick cloudy cloak; no yellow moon warded them away. A small maple rooted but a few inches from the ancient book-house shook as a night-bird alighted on its lowest branch, crowing in the night hour. Aibinn studied the bird for a moment. Its eye was fixed exactly on him; there was no point in denying it. He then noticed that, unlike an ordinary night-bird, this fowl’s feathers were rich purple; richer than even a king’s cloak!
Something about this bird and its abnormality certainly bade ill for the Rook’s journey. Its eyes remained on Aibinn and did not waver or bling for several minutes. Convinced the creature was no friend, an unnerved Aibinn collected a handful of strange powder from a satchel beneath his cloak, and released it swiftly at the foul animal! “Begone!” Exclaimed he. The bird, to its peril, breathed in an amount of the odd powder before it could escape. It squawked loudly, and began to flap off into the night before it fell into a deep sleep and flopped in a heap upon a mossy hillock in the town’s centre. Certainly, this bird would not follow in Aibinn’s direction this night. Aibinn removed his orb from its case and began to float in the way the plain map directed; though the darkness made its translation rather difficult.
After traveling for two hours, over a large brambled forest and a swath of bog, Aibinn spotted the isolated cabin. The terrain was such that it would take any man on foot a day, if not two, to reach this place. As the strange man alighted on the shanty’s roof, a nearby herd of deer was disturbed by his black shape and deserted their miry grazing spot for a copse of birch trees. To his delight, Aibinn heard nothing from the cabin’s interior. Perhaps he would not have to make battle with this Wyrdwit. He looked to the sky; it was still night, but the stars had begun to fade into the velvety blue blanket as the grey dawn approached on its daily course. The Rook would have to be swift.
Aibinn crept on all fours to the ground and swept himself to the front door. The shack itself merits a description. It probably contained two or three rooms, and was made of some wood so old ’twas unidentifiable to all but the most learned carpenter, and its paint had long since been weathered away. It had a thatch roof like a peasant’s cottage, yet, strangely, it was not without ornaments and finery. The two windows Aibinn could see, one on either side of the front door, were of stained glass, dark as blood under the starlight. The door itself was hewn from red cherry, and finely carven with figures from old Myth. A large iron handle caught the Rook’s eye. Thankfully for his purposes, no light made itself available through the stained glass. He crept to the stoop and placed his grasp firmly on his powder-bag, then threw open the door! Inside a stranger sight than he had expected met his eyes; it appeared, to the Rook’s chagrin, that his sleeping spice had not kept its magical hold over a certain night-bird.