Terror of Terra

Welcome, adventurers, to The Ugly Stick pub. With a direct tap from the Hammerstout Distilleries, we’ve the strongest ale in all Sigil. But you seem the type of a different thirst, one for legends. Well I’ve a tale for you, of a treasure so grand, a man could set himself up as king a dozen times over. Guarded by a fiend so fearsome, the dragons have given up trying to claim its horde.

The Terrasque was designed by gods to defend their planes from other gods. As such, it was immortal and nearly invincible. Gruumsh, orcish god of strength and conquest, was undeterred by invincible. With strength that surpassed all, he beat the Terrasque into a broken, unconscious heap. Gruumsh’s shamans then banished the beast from the plane it was to protect. The lack of purpose drove it mad. It tore across the planes, seeking something of value to protect.

Deep in the heart of Terra (the Earth Plane) lies The Core, a spherical fortress with seamless adamantium walls a hundred meters thick. Within dwells Kroth’tak, the god-like earth elemental who donated the rock and minerals that would form the foundation of the material plane. The crazed terrasque coveted the riches within. Being not a true god, Kroth’tak was slain, and his elemental hordes enslaved.

The terrasque guards its ever-growing horde jealously, awaiting those brave enough to dare challenge it. Do you so dare adventurers?


Passing a Torch

My family is pretty widely spread across the USA, but we often gathered for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have dozens of wonderful memories of my grandpa telling (and re-telling) stories during those reunions. He loved nature and hiking, and was the leader of the pathfinders group in his town for many years (sort of like boy/girl scouts in their area). Most of the stories I remember from him center on his hiking trips. His favorite was one he had titled “Angel Shoes”. While I wasn’t there, I’ll include as many details as I can recall, and artistic liberty where my memory falls short(names and dates mostly).

Angel Shoes
It’s Spring Break, and time for the annual hike into the Sierra Nevada mountains. I gather the three teens of my pathfinder troop who didn’t take off for more exotic lands. Inspecting their gear as we packed it into the truck, it’d be unfortunate if someone forgot their mess kit or something. Backpacks check, canteens check, bedrolls check, food check, hiking boots ch…Joe’s shown up in his old black Nike’s.

-Joe, do really expect to hike for four days in your old cross-trainers?

-Yessir, they’re what I have. I’ll make do sir.

-Very well, I hope they hold up.
-Who said to stop loading? We need to get on the road if we want to get a good start today.

And with the packing complete, the journey begins. A couple hours later, we arrive at the trail head. We quickly unload to start up the mountain, I set a quick pace so we arrive at the first campsite before dark. These kids have been scouting under my lead since they started losing teeth, I know I can trust them to set the tents and gather wood while I prep supper. Day One, everyone is safely tucked in.

As my campers are dismantling tents and stowing gear, I notice a dark cloud on the horizon. I vainly hope it empties before it reaches us, but know it will likely pour on the mountain. I stow some tinder while it’s still dry. We pause in a pleasant meadow for lunch, and watch the storm approach.

No-one wants to be caught in the rain, but we still need to hike another few hours to reach the next tent site. No sooner do we cross the half-way point than did the rains burst forth. A mighty downpour quickly soaks our clothes and turns the dirt trail into a muddy mire. Joe’s size 14 shoes are sloshing so much it must be through sheer force of will they stay on his feet. The overwhelming downpour soon quiets to an uncomfortable drizzle. We reach the camp and set a new record for tent assembly.

The few drops of rain fall, and I amaze them all with my foresight and produce the dry tinder for the fire. We’re all happy to be drying out next a roaring fire, sipping hot cocoa and waiting for dinner. I start blessing the food when I smell the acrid stench of burning rubber. Joe’s left shoe has caught fire. We all rush to put it out, but it is damaged beyond repair. Joe says he’s not worried, that God knows he needs a shoe. Day Two, heavy rains demoralize the troops, but the only physical casualty is Joe’s left shoe.

We rise early the next mourning to bird song. The mountains seem revitalized by the rain. A quick bowl of oatmeal and we are on our way to the summit. Joe quietly smiles though his foot is soon raw. We reach the summit camp, where the trails from either side of the mountain meet. Now each of these camps is marked by a fire pit, and what we found by the fire pit at the summit astounds everyone but Joe. Sitting beside the fire pit is a brand new pair of Nike’s, size 14, white, abandoned with no sign owners. Joe calmly walks over and puts on the left shoe, leaving the unneeded right one where he found it.

God answers prayer, and Joe wore those mismatched shoes all through high school, telling the story of the “Angel Shoes” to whoever asked about them.

My telling probably falls short of my grandpa’s, but this is how I choose to remember him. I want to some day bare the torch of “family story teller” by keeping his stories alive, while I make a few of my own.