Friday, November 12, 2010

[WOD] The Hedge Tales, Week 3 - The Race

I look myself over one more time, checking to make sure I didn't miss anything or leave anything out. I pay special attention to my tail. It took me over a year to get used to- I kept tripping on it, or stepping on it, or finding it in my food. Over time, I was less and less surprised by my tail, with its shock of white at the end; and I began to accept it as part of myself.

I finally got accustomed to the thing when I started learning more about my adaptability and talent for fitting into new environments. The first few times I invoked the contract, I forgot my tail. Clarice tipped me off the first time. (Why I think of lambs when I see her, I don't know. She's a fiery efreet, with nothing gentle about her.) I wasn't so lucky after that. I spent a few nights in Ms. Wintour's cool embrace, learning to pay very careful attention to every detail around me. Even the slightest change might mean something important; or it might mean nothing and be her way of toying with me. Either way, I remember my tail now.

I wear my “suit” with pride. It's an important part of the race, and I play my part with purpose. The glittering diamond mantle, the white roses and the flowering dress give me a completely different look, much to the point.

I quietly trot over to the gathered throng. Some wear numbered placards and others hold old-fashioned racing forms. There's a starting line of sorts, and Mouse, the clockwork being, rustles around the group. Soon we divide into those racing and those observing. I slide into the group about to run at the line with a passive confidence. Mouse's metal gears squeak as he points us to our places. In a moment, we hear his precise little hammer bang, and we're off.

The point of the race is a nebulous thing at best. There is not always a specific end. There is not always a way to tell a winner from a loser. Sometimes, the idea is to lose rather than win. There are about five of us running and each of us is different. Often, the race is aimed to challenge one of our aspects in unexpected ways. Yet we run with purpose and sometimes pride, motivated by our own thoughts and concerns.

I keep pace with the group, running with a solid stride. My long legs are meant to run, and I work hard to rein them in. I am not intended to win this race, and I have to keep my personal tendencies firmly in check. I keep an eye on the others as I run, determined to give a good showing. If I'm going to throw the race I may as well look good doing it.

The finish line nears, and I shake my head to clear the visions from my eyes. I know what I see is not real (nothing in this place is real except denial and pain), but it's still hard to resist. I recognize the mirage for what it is; a test of my will and my submission to this world. It’s sitting on a small podium next to the finish line. I can’t take my eyes off it, but I know it is not for me. I grit my teeth and keep forging on to the line, careful to lag just a bit, but of course not in an obvious way.

We cross the line, with Terrance in the lead. The spectators mutter and tear apart their forms, while we patiently wait for the official announcements from Mouse. I chat with the others in the race, and Terrance is proclaimed as the winner. His puzzled look tells me everything I need to know as he is handed his prize. He holds a beautiful leather pump, with its red sole standing out against his obsidian facade. I drop the contract as I walk away, with a flash of white following behind me on my tail.


  1. My apologies folks, Blogger decided to turn off comments.

  2. Ah, I wondered what was going on. This is a very nice piece of writing. It makes me think that I need to find the time to do a whole heck of a lot more reading. I can't think of another game setting where characters can be so multifaceted.


  3. Great story. After playing WoD, it's hard for me to go back to D&D. There is so very often a lack of depth and character to the adventures. Your stories remind me of how rich a Chronicle can be.

  4. Nicely done as usual- you're Changeling sessions must be sweet.

  5. A very well written piece, Loq! Me like. I can't imagine how it'd feel to find my tail in my food.

    One thing I'm realising more and more as I read these pieces, is that C:tL isn't a game for me. It simply reads too high on the Weird-Shit-O-Meter.

  6. Thanks so very much, guys.

    Harald, you crack me up. You're ok with sacrificing cats, Nazis from space, Elves and places that can't be found on maps; but Changeling is too weird? I have to laugh, but with you, not at you.

  7. Sacrificing cats? What a ludicrous notion. Goats are what you want, sweetie. Better if it's black, but a white'll do in a pinch.

    As for C:tL, I think I've played myself out on the angst and personal drama of vanilla WoD. I love the system, but I doubt I'll go back to running vampires in Porches. That ended for me when they stopped the oWoD-lines, I think.

    I've read a few of the nWoD books, but the mythos just doesn't grab me. As you can see in the BoW, I've chopped Mage down to the bare essentials, and most of the rest is borrowed, stolen, or invented.

    But this is what I'm thinking now. I know that the winds of nerdery may change, but that's a bridge I'll burn once I've crossed it.