In the cold, ever snowy land of Elcon, there are quite a few snowmen.
Though one that mostly everyone knows about is the Giant Snowman, which is at least as big as a couple of mountains stacked on top of each other. This Giant Snowman has a load of denizens and other things living in it, around it and beneath it. The general rule is that it is the higher up the Snowman you get, the more dangerous it gets. There are however beings that natively live that high up and those who wish to mine the Snowman’s coal buttons, eyes and his huge carrot nose.
You’d think it’d be bad for the Snowman getting mined, but since he is a being of magic, it isn’t surprising that his buttons, eyes and carrot regenerate. Though it is in part this regeneration that makes it hard to mine the Snowman’s bounties. He does not easily give up his plenty, for before one can mine these things, the snow must be mined through and the servant snowmen and beasts subdued.
Approaching from the outside is madness, as one would have to mine through a covering of an ice and then the desired materials themselves, all while hanging from the outside of the snowman, exposed to all the elements. Of course, given the nature of the denizens of Elcon, and people throughout the many dimensions, there is a number mad enough to mine the outside of the Snowman.
From these brave and/or mad miners come many fanciful tales. Some are probably not true, like the one that claims that the tip of the carrot is actually filled with orange and not more carrot, or that the Snowman will grant you a wish if you dance on the very tip of his nose.
One thing about the very tip of his nose is quite true.
On the tip of the Giant Snowman’s carrot nose lives the Hargle.
The Hargle is one of a kind, in that he isn’t completely uncommon, Elcon has many beings that there is only one of. A lot of these uniques are brought in by the magic inter-dimensional Train, which runs along tracks in tunnels that lead to most places.
The Hargle was brought in very early on in Elcon’s time. He was there before the Giant Snowman was made, watching.
Not everyone can agree what the Hargle looks like, but most accept that he is a kind of bird thing.
The most commonly given description goes kind of like this;
The Hargle’s black feathery head is a bit like tetrahedron, that is to say made up of four triangles, with a single emerald feather sticking up like a blade, and supposedly it is as sharp as one too. He has a three eyes each a different shade of blue. These eyes are set in wide dishes on his head, like an owl and his beak is much like that bird’s beak.
His azure wings are like a cloak spreading out from his neck, covering his body. As for the rest of him? Well, denizens agree that he has at least two feet, but they can’t agree as to how many more than that he has, or how many arms and hands he has, if any. Some even believe the Hargle has tentacles for upper limbs. Like many things it is a source of argument that leads to barfights.
Now, as for the nature of the Hargle, few are sure, as next to nobody has ever gotten close enough to strike up a conversation, if such is possible. Some believe the Hargle is unthinking, others that he is a genius hermit who could answer any question, if only you ask it right. Some just believe that the Hargle is a savage being that eats those foolish and strong enough to survive the extremely boisterous play of the four winds up that high. A lot however think that the Hargle is an eternal. An eternal who watches.
The eternals are beings in Elcon that cannot die, if they seem to, they only return from the swirling snow. Many believe the eternals are protectors of Elcon, champions who fight against all things vile and send the wicked to lament in the great Lock. Many think the eternals are cursed harbingers of disasters, or worse, bringers of misfortune. A few posit that the eternals just simply are. It could be said that as many people have hope in the eternals as there is those that dread them.
Regardless of what denizens believe, the Hargle was indeed an eternal, and he watched. There wasn’t much he missed, anything within his vision he remembered, each little detail. A few denizens actually lived in the ground partly because they worried too much about the Hargle’s gaze.
They needn’t have worried that much. The Hargle just liked watching, and it was very rare that anyone ever came to ask him about anything. He did however talk to the Giant Snowman from time to time. At first the deep voice of the Snowman rattled his bones and hurt his earholes, but he got used to it.
Now, the Hargle did sometimes get visitors, and one day, like a few other rare days he got a visitor.
The Hargle was perched on the tip of the carrot as he usually was, minding his own business, his own business being peeping on everyone else’s business. He would chuckle when he saw something funny, groan a bit when he saw something bad and so on.
Then, he saw a presence behind him. It was a black robed figure, the robe had a ruby clasp at the neck, a ruby that had swirliness inside. The eyes of the figure could not be seen, and the shape of the robe did not at all make it clear if the inhabitant was humanoid or what. What was clear was the two red eyes that glared out from the robe, they weren’t wicked or evil, there was even a strange softness to them. There was also an unreasonable amount of anger.
The robed one held what looked at bit like a lampost, It was a bit of an ominious thing, all funny uneven angles. The lamp was red, red like the robed one’s eyes.
“Good day to you, Wizard of Death” The Hargle said politely, not moving his head.
The Hargle thought the Wizard of Death was a find enough chap, but it was hard to be close to such a grumpy person with such a distasteful job. The Wizard of Death was a strange sort, there had in fact been many Wizards of Death, it was a position that technically anyone could hold, and while they held it, they were an eternal. It was possible for a Wizard of Death to not give up his position, but so far, not one had managed to stick it. The job was really quite distasteful.
The Wizard of Death harrumphed at the Hargle.
“Good day? Hardly. I’ve a particularly troublesome case this time, another Lost”
The Wizard of Death’s job was not to shepherd all the dead into the next, but rather to deal with unusual cases. People living when they should have died, people dying when they should have lived, people half-dying, and all manner of far stranger situations.
Not even the Wizard of Death knew if his job was necessary, but it existed. His current case was as he said a Lost. Lost would be dead that have, somehow or another, often due to terrible sense of direction, become hopelessly lost, until they are found by the Wizard of Death they can get up to all sorts on nonsense, and eventually if not found, become a rather mean and unpleasant beings capable of traversing dimensions. They get many names, but the Wizard of Death before the Hargle called them the Forgotten.
They are pretty much the dead spirit equivalent of that thing you leave festering in the back of the fridge. Sooner or later it becomes a problem to everything fresh.
The Hargle was pretty sure why the Wizard of Death was visiting, but he disliked people visiting just to get answers from him, so he played dumb.
“What brings you here, nobody up here but the Hargle” He said.
The Wizard of Death’s eyes narrowed.
“You know rightly why I’m here! I want to know if you’ve seen the Lost”
The Hargle made a show of humming and hawing and shuffling his feet.
“I don’t see what this has to do with me” The Hargle said.
The Wizard of Death’s eyes twitched in a disturbing fashion, then he slowly let out a deep breath and sighed. It seemed he had been trying to keep a lid on his temper lately.
“If you tell me if you’ve seen him, I could save a lot of time you know”
“What about my time, do you think I can just spend all my time watching for your troubles? I’ve better things to watch like uhh…”
The Wizard of Death’s grip tightened on his lamppost.
“You watch everything you can see, it is your thing, what you do. I am in no mood for games!”
“Well, you aren’t ever in the mood for games!” The Hargle complained.
“THAT’S BECAUSE I HAVE NO TIME TO PLAY GAMES!”
“You could take breaks” The Hargle suggested.
“I spend those sleeping”
“Well, why not do something else instead?”
“I’m constantly tired and fed up, I don’t want to do anything else”
“Ok, for your own good, I’ll tell you where to find the Lost, just play a game with me after that”
The Wizard of Death was silent for a time.
“You aren’t going to tell me anything unless I do this are you?”
“That is right” The Hargle affirmed.
“Ok, I promise to play a game with you after I’ve dealt with the Lost”
“Splendid” The Hargle said.
The Hargle beckoned the Wizard of Death over and pointed out the Lost, explaining where the spirit was. The Wizard of Death did not thank the Hargle, instead he just blew away and vanished.
The Hargle watched the Wizard of Death deal with the wayward one in his usual brusque and irritable manner. It didn’t take long, a few details written down in his floppy orange notebook and everything was in order.
Then he was back on the nose of the Snowman.
“Right, what do you want to play?” He asked.
The Hargle thought about it for a while.
“I spy?” He suggested.
The Wizard of Death was not at all impressed. He took out a pack of cards so worn down that they were barely legible.
“How about cards instead? I learnt a new cardgame recently”
The Hargle agreed to this, not at all thinking about the force of the winds.
The Wizard of Death however managed to remember he was on a giant carrot that most of the force of the winds whipped around.
“Hey, winds, think you can settled down long enough to play a cardgame?” He asked of the winds.
The North, South, East and West winds merrily wrapped around him, so he dealt them in too.
It didn’t take long to explain the rules to the Hargle or the winds.
As they played, the Hargle and the Wizard of Death talked about this and that.
“The Firelord’s rage has been at its peak lately, he’s been especially bad ever since Wolfhiem was rebuilt, I think he is planning something” The Hargle said.
The Wizard of death harrumphed.
“His days are numbered, a number of the others have been working away at something”
“Hmm, that would be good, but I’m not sure it is just the Firelord that is the problem, I feel there is more at play here.”
“Everything will be fine, a strong king has risen in the north, and the Firelord’s power wanes”
“Actually, I might move over to the northeast, things have become difficult for me see there, the ground there has been shaking a lot”
“Well, there must be something if even you are thinking of moving, but don’t bother, I’m sure something will come up that’ll bring me there”
The Hargle ruffled his feathers, but accepted this.
The Hargle talked about some of the more unusual things he had seen and the Wizard of Death spoke of happenings underground, where the Hargle could not see.
Unfortunately the game ended abruptly when they discovered the South Wind was cheating, so the Wizard of Death got back to his job, the Hargle got back to watching what he could see and the winds had a nasty fight and split off their separate ways
They’d get back together though. They always did.<< The Heart and The Obsidian Orb Part Twenty-Three The Shadowsmith of Talvharn >>