Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Tale of Gruppik Stonebrow

Greetings, all! Prepare for oodles of text, for I have now finished writing the synopsis of my next HATCH project! I had to get it written down for Jane, so I thought I'd post it here as well for all to critique. ENJOY. And please, suggestions are welcome and encouraged.

About Gruppik Stonebrow

Gruppik is a small, impish lizard whose genealogy is unknown. For his size, however, his endurance is far from limited. His bones are extraordinarily thick, and the top of his skull is stronger than any stone or metal his clan has ever possessed. Because of this strange physical attribute, the leader of the clan that adopted him assigned him the surname “Stonebrow”.

About the Stegosaur Clan

Since his days as a hatchling, young Gruppik has learned nary a speck of his family history. As he is a creature one third the size of his adoptive kin, his difference in his ‘family’ community is not unnoticed and unquestioned; but the cultural standards of the Stegosaur Clan promote patience and faith. In said tribe, the virtues of wisdom are considered to be above the pursuit of extensive knowledge. There are, however, members of a particular Stegosaur bloodline who take the role of healers and shamans, and they alone consort with non-hostile clans, gathering news and critical knowledge in exchange for valuable iron ore and medicinal herbs. The Stegosaurs live off the land, cultivating their food and keeping mostly to themselves. They are, however, stalwart in nature, and capable fighters when it comes to self-defense. They use heavy, defensive steel weapons along with their deadly spiked tails, as their teeth are blunt and not capable of doing any spectacular harm in combat.

Story Synopsis

Gruppik, an early adult (by dinosaur standards), is informed that his adoptive father (who is also his tribe’s chief), has fallen fatally ill with an unknown sickness. The village shamans, however, have knowledge of an incredibly rare flower that blooms only in the harshest environments, drawing power from its unforgiving environment. Experts of medicinal lore, the shamans believe the flower to be capable of healing the deadliest maladies. Gruppik, being light on his feet and skilled with a spear, is charged with the deadly task of climbing the highest peak of a snow-capped mountain in order to seek out this flower. His concern for his ‘father’ being a key motive, he willingly accepts the task and sets out on his journey.

Following the great river that bridges many friendly tribes, Gruppik comes to a dense jungle that separates him from his destination. Knowing that time is a key variable in his quest, he decides to go straight through it. Using the flow of the river’s water as a makeshift compass, he presses on. The thick vegetation and numerous tree roots are not the only obstacles he faces, however. A gang of bloodthirsty raptors ambush him, but they are savage in nature and value brute force over the art of battle. A heap of now-still bodies left in his wake, he presses onward and leaves the forest, arriving at the base of the mountain.

The mountain is like nothing he has experienced before, but Gruppik’s fierce sense of determination, combined with his all-important sense of patience, guide him as he climbs higher and higher. As he nears the peak, he is attacked by a small swarm of flying lizards. Like the jungle’s hostiles, they seem to lack the mental capacity of the Stegosaurs, and know only violence. Gruppik is at a disadvantage, though. He is not on stable ground, and must adjust his fighting style accordingly. His muscles stiff from the increasingly cold air, and his joints weary from what seem like ages of climbing, he manages to fight them off, but he is badly wounded. An image of his bedridden father still fresh in his mind, he gathers his courage and presses on, finally reaching the peak.

He is greeted by a majestic heap of strange-looking vegetation, and as he stoops to gather the black blooms from the bush’s thorny vines, something else greets him. A humongous winged lizard, resembling those he had just managed to kill off, stands before him. Apparently blind because of its incredible age, the beast smells him, and states that he has not smelled blood like Gruppik’s for a very long time. This mystery is quickly cast aside though, because this beast is not a foolish one, and knows that Gruppik has killed its children. When the beast lunges at Gruppik for an attack with his outrageously sharp beak, Gruppik has no choice but to brace himself, for he is wounded and his weapons had been lost in the fight with the beast’s children. Miraculously, the beast’s attack does nothing but cut the skin of Gruppik’s forehead, and the beast shrinks backward.

“Then it is certain. You are indeed one of the lost race,” hisses the beast. “I have seen many ages. My sight has failed me in my old age, but my other senses remain true, as does my memory of the past.

Knowledge seems to fail me this day… for it has been well-known amongst the old ones that your kind has long since left our world. Your presence here leaves me confused… and it takes quite a bit to confuse one who has seen and felt the sun rise and fall so many times. I will spare your life, but only for the sake of pity… pity for the ones who were betrayed by the very land itself. Leave now. I may be old, but I am still quick to change my mind.”

A good supply of flowers stashed in his bag, Gruppik quickly does as the beast says, and begins his long journey home. His heart is light, but his mind is burdened by the beast’s words.

Weeks pass. The shamans prepare a drinkable essence from the flowers that Gruppik brought back, and all the while Gruppik discusses the beast’s cryptic words with them. They remain, however, silent in the matter. After some time, though, with the help of Gruppik’s treasure, the chieftain’s health improves. His selfless deeds finally acknowledged, Gruppik’s standing with the rest of the clan takes a positive turn, and our story ends with a reward from the village shamans. They reveal that the beast’s words confirm the fact that Gruppik is a survivor of a tribe of lizards that were once indeed betrayed by their very land when their watery climate froze over in a matter of days. Having been washed ashore in a block of ice himself, the notion that others of his kind might be revived enters his mind, and Gruppik realizes that this was not the last time that he would be traveling away from his childhood home.


Until next time.

- Maxburg