January 6th, 2007

GoPlay

Who's Afraid of the Big Black Cat? (A Faery's Tale Actual Play)

Once upon a time an evil hag lived in the dark woods near the land of Brightwood. This was the foulest sort of creature, a being that stole the breath of children to extend her own life. Her pet, The Black Cat, was fearsome in his own right and often terrorized the faeries that lived nearby.

The witch watched the signs. She cast the bones, observed the stars, and scattered the entrails. She knew a nearby family had given birth to a mortal child who would grow up to be a great leader. Where a normal child would extend her power and immortality for months, or even years in some cases, a rare soul like this could enhance her abilities in undreamt of ways. One fateful night she stole into the home, into the baby's room, and prepared to suck the child's breath away.

The child's spirit was strong, its soul did not want to leave. The witch huffed, and pulled, and tore the child's spirit away - breathing it in like a fine, sweet scent. But then something unexpected happened. The child's breath, its spirit, rebelled and fought the witch from within. The old hag struggled, but in moments was struck dead. The child's spirit escaped her body, evaded her loyal feline servant, and fled to the land of Brightwood. There the spirit grew up, became a great leader of faeries and their animal ken, and wrought the wrongs of the world.

While the child grew to be something more than he was, so did The Big Black Cat. He stole away the breath of small creatures at first, much as his master did, but he quickly progressed to fouler sorceries still. One day he even traded his fine tail to a creature so foul I can not tell you its name. The Big Black Cat became the terror of Brightwood and many noble faeries fell to its magic and fangs. Only one person, the child spirit turned Prince and leader, could stand up to The Big Black Cat. And stand up he did, with all of his strength. It might have been enough, we'll never know, for in a moment of desperation the child Prince grabbed hold of the same dark power the Cat used and gained the upper hand. The Cat was defeated, banished to the land of nightmares, but the Prince was changed. Where he was the Prince of Moonbeams, a noble leader, he became the Prince of the Mists and chose to eschew the people that had once loved him.

Years pass. A great Castle of Mist arose out in The Bog. Dark, corrupt faeries journeyed to the Prince of Mists and asked for purpose. He Knighted them, gave them dark power, and set them to guard his lands from any noble soul that dared to draw near.

Many years pass.

Gertrude, Duchess of Mice, sends out a call for help. In one night every mouse dwelling in The Family's house has had his or her tail cut off and taken away! She offers many Boons to anyone who can resolve this mystery and protect her subjects.

(Begin Faery's Tale Actual Play)

Goliath, a Sprite, and his cat Fuzzy responded to the call. Silyrien, a Sprite, and her falcon, Sebastian, responded to the call. Chime, a Pixie musician, responded to the call. Zib, a female Djin (Arabian Pixie) from lands far away currently visiting Brightwood, responded to the call.

They begin by interviewing Bill, a house mouse, about his missing tail. Bill has trouble keeping his balance now, but he manages his trauma well enough to tell them that he woke up from a bad dream and was missing his tail. Foot prints from some sort of quadruped are found going away from Bill's mouse hole, prints made from a substance that resembles the bog water but seems to be made out of dream stuff.

They then journey to the bog to verify this where they meet a knowledgeable but trick some black snake who offers knowledge in exchange for a favor - the snake wants to be taken to a place where it hears the mice are fat and tailless, easy and tasty prey. Having none of that, our heroic pixies trick the snake and tie it into a knot. With little choice left, the snake agrees to give up the information in return for help straightening itself out. The snake tells them that they must learn "Who's afraid of The Big Black Cat?" The faeries, being honorable, fulfill their bargain and free the snake.

They journey back to Brightwood and consult with Chime's grandmother Melody, a Knight of Acorns. She lives in a great old oak tree, and a Sprite named Horace refused them entry. He could not be certain they were not squirrels, you see, for the local squirrels had been growing more clever in their attempts to steal the acorns kept there. Fortunately, Chime was able to charm this valiant protector with her flute. Unfortunately, the charm was a little too good and soon Chime had to evade the romantic enthusiasm of the besmirched fairy.

The meeting with Grandma Melody was a success, however, and the faeries learned the story of The Big Black Cat. Next, they traveled into The House to consult with Crib, a Brownie, who also happened to be the Count of Toys. Evading the evil Daschund The Family keeps inside, the group finally made their way to the baby's room where Crib dwelt. As they entered they witnessed a titanic battle... between stuffed toys and wooden soldiers. Crib had once again animated the toys in the child's room and bid them to war in his name. Evading the animated toys, the group asked Crib if he could share information with them. Sadly, he had little to share. While the others were speaking to Crib Chime went to the baby and threw pixie dust on him to give him happy dreams. Little did she know that The Big Black Cat was stalking this child's dreams, trying to find a way to steal its breath as the witch had. The magic was its conduit back to the waking world, and in short order The Big Black Cat was there again.

Count Crib took this moment to turn invisible and get away while the other faeries fought with The Big Black Cat. The battle was furious. The two pixies used their dust to animate a great many toys in order to guard the baby and protect the exits. The Sprites and their animal friends took this opportunity to do battle with The Big Black Cat directly. The Cat, facing so many opponents, was swiftly defeated and sent back to the dream realm. The threat had passed... for now.

By this point the faeries realized they had to face the one who fears The Big Black cat, for they determined The Cat was feeding off nightmares. They realized the Prince of Mists is the one who fears The Cat, and that they must defeat him. For someone so powerful, they would need some sort of help, They asked Melody if she could share stories of any powerful objects that could help them, and she told them of a lock of hair (from Red Ridinghood, buried with the woodcutter) and a wooden board stained with tears of joy that might help them. One group retrieved the hair, with the help of some night crawlers, from the woodcutter's grave. Another faced down Demosthenes, Myrmidon of Rats, and stole away a splinter of the wood.

Goliath, not just a warrior but also a skilled craftsman, built a bow out of a strand of the hair and created four fairy sized arrows out of the splinter of wood. Armed, the group set out for the Castle of Mists. On the way they met a pair of goblin scouts, Knights of the Mists, astride their war crows. Feigning assistance, the goblins led the group to a magical glen of lilies inside the swamp where the good faeries faced a Lilly Dragon. Fortunately, the attacks of a Lily Dragon can not harm a faerie with a good heart and the group escaped unscathed.

Eventually they arrived at the Castle of Mists, where they defeated the gate guards and cowed the remaining goblins with a great show of strength. Making their way to the inner chamber they met the Prince's daughter, a being made in part from both fairy stock and the cold mists themselves. She bade them enter her father's domain, for he had been expecting them.

The good faeries begged the Prince of Mists to abandon his evil ways and come back to the land of Brightwood. He told them his fate had been preordained, that he was made from an evil act and could be nothing more than what he was. A great battle ensued, and while the hopes of the good faeries flickered they shined through the mists. The Dark Essence was drained from the Prince of Mists and, when he was at his weakest, blows from the magical bow shattered his evil deeds and restored his good heart. He thanked the victorious faeries from freeing him from a prison of his own evil, and bid them to call upon him should they ever be in need. Today, a Palace of Moonlight dwells in the bog offering help to any traveler in need.

The fate of his daughter, and the cat, are another tale.