Author Topic: The Misadventures of Mattermead Gold  (Read 415 times)

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goate

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on: October 08, 2019, 01:53:28 PM
The Misadventures of Mattermead Gold
By Matron Soppira Hinkley
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 02:11:46 PM by goate »



goate

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on: October 08, 2019, 02:11:19 PM
Mattermead Gold awoke suddenly one day in ring 100.  He sat there a few minutes in stunned silence, wondering at the world about him.  It did not take long for the thoughts to come racing though his head.

"Where am I?  Where have I been? How did I get here?  How awful, I must start my life anew..."

And then elation.

"I must start my life anew!  In this place, nobody will know what a huckster I am!  I need not worry ever again of my reputation, for it no longer exists!    I shall use my guile, my wits, my wizardry, and none shall know but to dance to my song!"

Holding himself in rather high regard, the charlatan picked himself up off the ground and began his long journey.  Not far from him stood the gate to ring 99....
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 02:16:16 PM by goate »



goate

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on: October 09, 2019, 02:01:06 AM
Now, Mattermead was not unintelligent;  far from.  He did despise hard work and earnest labor, it is true, but what he lost with indolence he more than made up for with memory and cunning.  Wizards like he do not lack intellect, but their other shortfalls come in spades.

This is how Mattermead conducted his studies.  This is how Mattermead conducted his life.  "Effort is the path of the fool", thought he to himself, "the man who would get what he wants must take shortcuts, and ride on the backs of his inferiors".

And so Mattermead effortlessly solved the puzzle of the hundredth ring and crossed into the ninety-ninth.

He was not dismayed by what he found.  Two settlements, one driven by tradition, driven by emulation of the city's mysterious monarch, the other motivated by all matters mercantile.  Both valued prestige, and so prestige would be his carrot.

Now every good con artist knows that one must play to their strengths, and Mattermead's strength was wizardry.   A society of magi would be just the thing to capture the attentions of the ring.  He would find those with great power and little common sense to be his orchestra, and he the conductor.  Their victories would become his victories, but their failures would be their own, for such is the privilege of leadership without responsibility.

But a name, a name, what for a name?  A name is of vital importance to a charlatan.  The minds of the sentient respond to appearance first and substance later, and a name is often the first impression.  He said to himself "I need something just barely outside the grasp of the common man so as to  give a taste of superiority and mystery, but well within the auspices of the learned and powerful so as to avoid contempt and breed fraternity".

And he thought on it for some time.  He worked far harder than what was normal for him, for a failed con is much more work down the road - he did so despise earnest labor.

And so his fraternity of  magi was born, and he did name it "Chao Maleficarum".   Perfect.



goate

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on: October 10, 2019, 01:19:21 AM

Word of mouth was the bread and butter of the successful con artist.  Mattermead did not wish to starve.

What he needed was a publicity stunt;  a ritual with little risk, but something that would tickle the base moral sensibilities of the common man (he of course was not common) and push copies of the Rumor Mill and other common rags onto the streets.

The demographics of Chao Maleficarum were quite mixed.  Mattermead really was not concerned with the details of who was a member, so long as he could claim them as a person in his official roster - if he could tell the Rumor Mill rag-writers that membership was twenty, would they have the intellectual curiosity to wonder how many were gnomes?   And if they did, was it not something that greasing a few palms with fresh-pressed groats couldn't solve?

And so it was that a gnome gave Mattermead the idea for Chao Maleficarum's first publicity stunt.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 04:53:11 AM by goate »



goate

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on: October 12, 2019, 01:46:17 AM
The  diminutive sorceror Kensington Schwiffletartsengraft - who had one foot firmly planted in reality and the other flying free in a hellscape of elemental chaos, not unlike your average gnome -   had discovered a most peculiar seam.

Within it was a rather plain cave, plain save for the fact that within the cave lived a puppy of appearance most adorable.  Around its neck was a strangely-runed metallic collar, and attached to the collar was a hefty chain, and attached to the other end of the chain was a  steel spike hewn into the solid rock floor. 

Mister Schwiffletartsengraft was instantly besmitten by the odd puppy and - being a gnome - had taken what he deemed the most sensible and expedient approach to freeing it, which is to say that he broke several of his teeth trying to gnaw the chain in half.   Assailing the chain with the vilest gnome insults was also surprisingly ineffective.  And so the poor gnome had no other recourse than to take the problem to the other equally competent magi of Chao Maleficarum.

And so a moot was held, presided upon by the most honorable Mattermead Gold.  The gnome told his story of the poor puppy trapped in a cave, held to the ground by fell collar and chain.  The pupper's plight pulled on the strings of Mattermead's heart - wait, no dear reader, no, that was a small fib, for Mattermead cared not to help a lowly unthinking creature, no.  Mattermead smiled inwardly to himself but wore on his face a mask of compassion, for he saw opportunity.  Finally a chance to show ring 99 the power and grandeur of his guild of mages, for who did not love puppies?  Who did not defer to the valiant saviors of youthful canines?

"Oh dear", said Mattermead as he addressed those he thought his lessers.  "We must rescue this poor creature;  however shall we go about it?"

There was silence for just a few moments as the gathering of talented mages considered the problem. The word started as little more than a whisper, and then it spread like fire amongst the council, growing steadily in volume until it was a deafening roar:

Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al. Rit-you-al.

RIT-YOU-AL!

The entire chamber erupted into screams of celebration and mirth as the various mages pumped their fists in the air.  Many injuries were sustained that night from wizards in fairly poor shape patting themselves on the back.

And so Chao Arcanum led by the brilliant Mattermead Gold agreed upon the rather unorthodox solution of using a ritual to free the mysterious pup.   For Mattermead the future was bright indeed.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 01:56:51 AM by goate »



goate

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on: October 12, 2019, 10:05:24 PM

The appointed day for the ritual did soon arrive;  Chao Maleficarum had gathered an impressive collection of reagents to fuel the wild magics the were to attempt to wield.

Mattermead Gold himself had seen to the preparations.  Impressive arcane diagrams written with the blood of various creatures surrounded the pup, focusing what would be the routes of arcane energy upon it.  The various magi stood just outside the diagrams in a circle, preparing to contribute their individual powers to the task at hand.

Mattermead had been very meticulous in designing this ritual.  He had spent quite a lot of thought into making sure the strange collar could be removed.  He'd given absolutely no consideration on if it should be removed.

Why were the runes upon the collar of celestial origin?  How had the puppy survived so long here without eating?  Why was there no defecation?  Who would bother to trap it so here in this lonely seam, and for what reason?

Mattermead had asked none of these questions.  For such an intelligent mage his intellectual curiosity failed him now.  A conjurer after all cannot be bothered to guess at the nature of beings from other planes.

A simple hand gesture from Mattermead indicated the beginning of the ritual.     The circle of mages channeled the weave, drawing their arcane energies into the magical glyphs before them.  The fabrics of reality began to visibly bend and stretch around the wizardly members, threatening to wound the barriers that held the void at bay.

Mattermead directed the powers of the ritual, utilizing them with the utmost precision to undo the runes of power upon the collar one by one.  Though the effort took a toll on him he managed to maintain a neutral visage, not allowing his lessers  to see weakness.

One would have expected the puppy to cower in fear amidst the maelstrom of arcane energies apparent around it.  One would be wrong - it yelped with evident excitement, jumping and moving around as much as the chain would allow it.

And finally Mattermead proceeded to the very last rune.  The channels of power he directed at it seemed to glance off it uselessly, but he prodded and tested and finally... yes, it was broken.

The collar fell from the pup, and it changed before the eyes of the astonished magi.  And oh how it changed.   Its torso elongated and it grew to the height of two or three men, standing upon its hind legs.  Its front legs became a pair of humanoid arms, adorned with hideous pincers in place of what had been paws.  From just above its abdomen grew an extra pair of arms, with hands.  A pair of horns grew from the of the head, and razor-sharp teeth extended from the gum line.  In its black eyes were malignance and cunning.

It quickly stepped forth from the center of the circle - for Mattermead had completely neglected to ward for the containment of planar beings - and grabbed Mattermead by the throat with one of its massive pincers, lifting him from the ground.   It opened its great jaws as if preparing to take a healthy bite, but then seemed to think better of it and sniffed Mattermead up and down, drooling upon him as it did so.

"Most pleasing, mortal", it spake.  "Most pleasing indeed - I can see it shall behoove me to allow you to live.  You have freed me from my prison and for that you have my gratitude.  Do keep up the good work.  I shall see what your world has to offer a being with my exquisite tastes."

And with that the fell thing threw the choking Mattermead to the ground and walked unopposed through the seam to ring 99 .   It would have  a long and illustrious business career and come to enjoy the consumption of many human babies in the course of its stay.

The Chao Maleficarum mages were understandably quite distressed, never having considered the various possible consequences of their actions.

After some few minutes Mattermead again found his breath.  With the help of some of his lessers he was was brought back to his feet.  He proceeded to dust himself off - being seen in such a disheveled state simply would not do.

"Illustrious custodian", said the gathered "What shall we do now?  For we have released a great evil into the rings."

And Mattermead said "Do not say such things ever again.  If anyone should bring this up to you, you shall respond thusly:  Not our fault.  Not our problem."

"We have more important things to see to."
« Last Edit: October 13, 2019, 06:31:01 PM by goate »



goate

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on: October 13, 2019, 05:59:46 PM
And so Mattermead Gold slept like a babe while not far away in Ticker Square a hideous demon dog bartered for souls and drank of the blood of innocents.

After all, the past is past, and the present could be ignored.  He had to turn his attentions to the future.   Under Mattermead's careful supervision some skillful damage control had been applied with regards to the horror that Chao Maleficarum had released into 99, but somehow word had still seeped out of their involvement.  This had resulted in a tarnished reputation, and that would not do at all.

Another publicity stunt was required to make people forget the recent blunder.

There was a sorceress of Chao Maleficarum whose name was Nora;  a very sweet and kind young lady, she was beloved by much of the 99th ring for her sunny disposition.  Strong chaotic magics ran in her blood and one day they crested, culminating into a most unfortunate transformation.  Beauty was twisted in upon itself and became deformity.  When next Nora peered upon her reflection, she saw a beastly bugbear peering back at her.  She was relegated to live among the changelings and other foul denizens of Pauper Ponds until such a time that her form could be restored.

Where others saw misfortune, Mattermead saw opportunity.  He ordered the preparation of a well-publicized ritual to see dear Nora returned to her natural beauty.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2019, 06:06:15 PM by goate »



goate

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on: October 16, 2019, 04:47:11 AM

Once again the magi of Chao Maleficarum got to work procuring a most impressive amount of reagents for the upcoming ritual.    To their credit they bartered and traded of their own wealth,  they searched and they quested shedding their own sweat and blood.    Their efforts to save Nora were not insincere.

Again Mattermead designed the ritual.   He put much thought and skill into the ward that would hold chaos in stasis.   He consulted with transmuters to refine a method to force controlled reverse change.   Using his experience from the previous ritual he even planned for conjurative  containment.    Mattermead was not about to allow a second - possibly fatal - blow to his already reeling reputation.

Even more effort went into publicity.   If the second ritual was to make up for the first, its success would have to echo across the rings.  Everyone must know of the power, grandeur and generosity of Chao Maleficarum and it's illustrious custodian Mattermead Gold.

Now most anyone with common sense knows that physical security is crucial to an event's success - and make no mistake, this ritual was to be an event.   Many a wedding has ended in disaster when the dwarves in attendance have had a bit much to drink and started cracking heads, or a mischievous, thieving gnome makes off with the wedding cake.    To  neglect guards is to leave the door open for the unthinkable to happen.

Mattermead had a very high opinion of his common sense - he often reminded others  of their foolishness - and wasn't about to let a little thing like reality spoil his day.  How important could the mundane details be?  The true glory lay in the arcane.

The day of the ritual grew ever closer....



goate

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on: October 31, 2019, 02:08:23 AM
Mattermead had selected Pauper Ponds as the location for the ritual that would see poor Nora restored to her prior form.   The area had a potent arcane footprint from which Chao Maleficarum could draw power for the ritual and, more importantly, plenty of open space for public spectacle.   No feature of the ponds contributed in any way towards enhancing the physical security of the ritual - parties could come and go with little to no challenge.

The reagents were distributed to magi who had been charged with implementing a subset of the wards that would be necessary for the ritual.  Runes of power were marked on the ground in exotic and highly volatile inks, configured to create fields of magic useful for transmutative manipulation.    Again Mattermead would orchestrate the many mechanisms that culminated in the ritual's entirety.

There was an air of apprehension among the crowd of magi, spectators and the few who were indeed present to prevent interference from attendees.   Mattermead Gold signaled the beginning of the ritual with his effeminate hands and promptly the stronger arcanists among Chao Maleficarum's number began chanting words of power in tandem with the somatic gestures of their hands.  Their combined channeling began to fuel the mechanisms of the ritual, activating the various wards and fields.   Nora stood ensnared by a spiral of potent glyphs just east of the ritual's central locus;  it is difficult to read a bugbear's snot-covered, savage, furrowed face, but one might have guessed at seeing a mixture of anxiety and hope in its black, beady eyes.

The energies of the ritual visibly ebbed and flowed, bathing the eager spectators in gentle multi-colored lights.   Here and there one could see small tears forming in the fabric of reality from the use of wizardly powers;  a small team of sorcerous conjurers ran from seam to seam, sealing them as quickly as they formed.

Mattermead conducted quite expertly, making small corrections and redirecting the eddying powers.     The transmuters, attentive to Mattermead's subtle gestures, focused their attentions upon Nora, words of mutable power flowing from their lips.  The monstrous bugbear's form began to obscure, stretching into unreality.

Mattermead smirked;  everything was going to plan.  Soon ring 99 would be singing the praises of his wizardly prowess. 

Nobody saw the scoundrel in time.  The retainer of a noble house of dubious origins, his heart was filled with discord and had no room for outmoded sentiments such as altruism.    This day he craved to make a mess of the lives of others, so that they might taste the chaos that was his own life.  Unchallenged by the absence of physical security he approached a reagent key to warding against the powers of contagion and took it, removing it from the mechanisms of the ritual.   His action was noticed, but too late.  The perpetrator drank a vial of retreat and was gone.  The damage had been done.

Energies of sickness and disease began to infest the ritual ever so slowly. Gradually, gradually they gained purchase.  Henceforth  their propagation accelerated beyond reasonable expectation.

The mages of Chao Maleficarum struggled to regain control.  Sweat beaded Mattermead's face as he grappled with the myriad of intruding arcane threads.    There was little he could do, even the most capable of sorcerers would be powerless in the face of such unfathomable variation.

Nora's form began to anchor again in the material world.   To look upon her just minutes prior one would see naught but a gestalt that avoided the direct observation of the eye, portraying instead infinite possibility.   Now one could see the outline of being, of reality resolving.

The maelstrom of energies about Nora culminated, giving off a sickly green light.  It grew brighter and brighter, blinding all spectators.

Mattermead had lost control.  He did not know what to expect.  In a final bid to capitalize on the possibility of success he announced victory to the assembled, heralding the salvation of Nora.  He signaled the end of the ritual.  The channeling stopped.

When the blinding light faded, there stood in their midst a being most foul;  an elemental of the seam of contagion, of bile and pus.  Nora.  Its stench turned the stomachs of all present, forcing them to evacuate their contents entire.

Mattermead turned a shade of green, and not only because he'd just vomited in public.  He knew that this result was the end of Chao Maleficarum, and an even greater blow to his reputation.    How could he possibly hope to recover?

And then arbiters began to stream out from the surroundings, violently overwhelming the little physical security that was present to protect the ritual.  Blood was spilled with savage efficiency.

Nora's form liquefied and became rivulets of pus and bile that flowed into the water of the ponds, securing escape.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2019, 02:05:26 PM by goate »



goate

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on: November 14, 2019, 04:54:26 AM
Nearby in Ticker Square the dog demon chewed the remaining flesh off the bones of a hapless beggar whom it had wandered across in the shadows of the clock tower.   Mattermead didn't know this, for he made it his business to be ignorant of the pursuits of the demon he had freed.  And if somebody had asked him, he would respond as he always had "Not my business, not my problem."  After all, what was a conjurer to do about a planar evil loose in the prime?

And besides, Mattermead was very, very busy.   The Arbiters had taken quite an interest in his second failed ritual.   Dear readers, I can only guess what happened in the cube that day, and my imagination would likely pale before the truth.   But I can tell you this:  Mattermead stayed strong.     When faced with the prospect of turning away from a life of endangering the rings with his wizardry and instead engaging in earnest labor and clean living he took the high road and doubled-down on chicanery.  Nobody could break Mattermead, for his soul was made of the most pliable rubber.  He would not stop playing the game, he would just play it better.

When our hero departed the cube, he left a different man.  He held within him new determination - to never get caught again.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 04:57:34 AM by goate »



goate

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on: November 18, 2019, 12:29:55 AM
Since shortly after his awakening in the city of rings Mattermead  had heard of the Wizard Warrens, a (very dangerous) place where wizards dwelt in large numbers atop their soaring towers.   A place where wizard magics constantly strained and twisted to undo the fabrics of reality. Warrenwatch, located in said warrens, was the seat of the Court Wizard.

Now, we all know that there is nothing our heroic Mattermead craved more than prestige and the deferment of others to him, and so he had of course set his eyes upon the position of Court Wizard.

However, this would require ringrunning, and ringrunning requires work, perseverance, and effort.   In short, all of the things Mattermead hated most.  He had taken shortcuts all his life, why could he not do so with ringrunning?

And so, Mattermead had long ago bade the magi of Chao Maleficarum to open the way to the Wizard Warrens for him so that he may travel there in relative ease and ascend to the position of Court Wizard.

Thus it was that while Mattermead pondered his next action after the catastrophic failures of two rituals and the future (or lack thereof) of Chao Maleficarum he received word that one of their number had reached the Wizard Warrens and made his home within Warrenwatch.

This person was Atasorii Tur-Man, an unapologetic necromancer and former member of the renowned "Mostly Red"  ringrunning company.

Now, you may ask "Did Mattermead truly allow filthy necromancers to join Chao Maleficarum?  Did he care nothing for the sanctity of the line between life and death?  Did he not respect goodness and despise the nothingness of beyond the rings?"

Well, dear reader, perhaps you have not been reading carefully,  but Mattermead had little care for scruples.  To him a necromancer was a useful tool just as any other person.

When  Mattermead did hear that Atasorii had claimed Warrenwatch, it broke his heart.  Now, that is not to say that Mattermead had some sort of symbiotic emotional attachment to Atasorii; no, symbiotic is quite the wrong word.   It was more that Mattermead wished something that would grant him the prestige that he so craved, it it was taken from under him by a supposed inferior.  Twas quite the same sensation a toddler has when his most beloved toy has been taken by his covetous younger brother.

And this "betrayal" did so infuriate Mattermead that he found within himself the strength to ringrun.  And so he joined a random band of ringrunners, and put forth the effort to make his way to the Wizard Warrens.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 01:51:52 AM by goate »