The first question the people of this land ask of me is my name. They give freely of theirs, as if the free knowledge of it were not dangerous. They say this is the reason why the lands of Caledonia (of old our neighbour) became the barren and lawless wastelands upon which the monster and the slaver prowl, indistinguishable from one another.
If you must know my name, then I will give it: Sable. This is not my true name.
It is not the fear of magicians which imposes such secrecy; magic is not true knowledge and thus does not frighten a student of the Seeker. Mages and priests alike bleed and die when run through by the blades of murderers. I was barely a woman when the sea-borne raiders barged into our peaceful homes and laid them to waste; taking all they could find a use for and discarding the rest without care.
Much time has passed since then; but I have not been able to drive the memory of that evil day from my mind.
I’m back from another LARP adventure – bruised, mud-splattered, thorn-stung and still wiping various colours of face paint from my eyes; but guess what? I’m loving it.
This LARP business is fast becoming an obsession for me. When I first dipped my proverbial toe into the world of Durholme and its surrounding environs it was an incredibly strange experience. Though it was definitely entertaining I still felt overwhelmed by and separate from the action, like a cinema-goer who’s wandered through the invisible barrier of the screen. At first all I could do was gawp. Now I’m finding my feet and getting into it a little bit more, I can honestly say there’s nothing quite like LARP for filling your Saturdays.
Two weeks ago Sable returned to Durholme and went on an expedition into the surrounding area of Rovac, in which she met the True Elves of the Hidden Valley, helped to free them from the tyranny of invading dwarves and tried her best not to get killed. Climbing up and down the wooded hills surrounding Durham, I must admit I was impressed by the system; a huge crowd of extras playing NPCs or ‘non-player characters’, who did their bit and then quickly ran on ahead to the next designated encounter spot, then changed character completely. The thought and depth which is ploughed into the game behind the scenes is staggering. Thus I was overjoyed when I arrived this morning to be told that I was to be part of the ‘monster’ crew and playing an NPC.
Last night was, well… interesting. Last week, I would never have imagined that I would spend the evening in a darkened tavern, playing a wooden board game with an orc, a warrior monk and a high priest of the Sordanite faith. We struggled to see the dice under the feeble light of a single candle. With our counters mostly captured the orc roared his approval at a game soon to be won; that is, until a cold breeze and shrill cackling on the air announced the presence of air demons! One swirled around our table and blew out our light, then disappeared into the darkness as the sound of chairs scraping backwards and swords being unsheathed left our game completely forgotten.
Oh, and did I mention? I was an elf.
Here’s a simple test. Answer yes or no to the following questions.
1. Do you have a tendency to collect technically worthless objects?
2. Do you crave any kinds of food that could be described as ‘hearty’?
3. Do you live in or near places which include the words ‘borough’, ‘ham’, ‘bourne’, ‘shire’ and ‘bury’?
4. Have you ever eaten a family meal at a local public house?
5. And finally, does the above picture in any way resemble your mental image of the country in which you were born?
Tomorrow I am off to the deepest wilds of Somerset to attend a party for ‘Hogswatch’ – the Discworld equivalent of Christmas. The Discworld, of course, having been created by the inspirational and downright hilarious man in the video below. This week Terry Pratchett gave his first lecture as a professor at Dublin’s Trinity College, a feat which makes his other achievements (such as the Carnegie medal and the knighthood) pale into insignificance.