Campfire Tales: The Rock Ferrets

I feel like Virens has been alone in his tales around the campfire for too long. Now it’s time Rowan to share one of his own.

“So is that your… pet?”

“Ramal?” Rowan asked with a small laugh. “No, he’s a companion mostly. Mentor sometimes. Student others.”

Rowan could see the confused looks start to form amongst the fellowship and gave a weak wave of the hand to forestall further questions.

“My second master in my training to become a magister was Rashan Beastlord,” Rowan said and with the wave of his hand, the campfire slowly shifted into the face of a stern old man with thinning hair and a short, patchy, stubbly beard. “He taught me the first magisters long before the Council learned their abilities by communing with the great beasts of the low lands when their kind were immortal and like gods. He also said that his beastshaping magics where the purist form of magic, so I think there was some self-aggrandizing there.” At that, Rowan clenched his hand into a fist and the image dispersed back into the flames.

“But he did tell me that there was still must to learn of magic from the beasts of the land, so when I took my leave of the Tower I lived in the wilds for a time. And he was quite right. The rock ferrets of the southern deserts like Ramal here use an innate form of earthspell to shape stone and dirt around them. It’s quite elegant in its efficiency and subtly. And they were quite kind, treating me like part of their busyness before long.”

“After a few years, I decided that I had learned all I could from them and told them that I planned to rejoin civilization. They were sad to see me go, but Ramal here was the only one who asked to join me.” As if on cue, Ramal darted up Rowan’s coat and perched on his shoulder. His rock-pitted chest was puffed up with pride. “He was young then and full of excitement of the stories I told the busyness, of cities that spanned as far as one could see and towers that rode on clouds. He wanted to see these stories, and so we’ve been companions ever since.”

“He’s probably the wisest of his kind now. He can read letters, do arithmetic, and has seen almost as much of the world as I have. I’ve asked him if he ever feels any sadness for leaving his people behind, but he says he would not give up this life for anything.” Ramal nods at this and lets loose a high-pitched squeak. “Yes, yes, and you are very courageous. They know now.”

Ramal lets loose another series of short squeaks and Rowan nods along. “Yes…. Yes…. Very well… Now Ramal would like me to relay the tale of his fight against the Purple Hound of Lockstead…”

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This plus orcish shamanism makes it feel like there’s a life cycle of animal souls - an animal dies, but its spirit can live on, learn and grow like a person does, and perhaps return at some point to educate, enlighten, or uplift their mundane kin. The orcs cultivate part of this cycle for their own purposes, but there’s more to it.

I had a thought about bringing up something along these lines but couldn’t seem to get it to work without being kind of awkward. Perhaps in another Campfire Tale.

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I thought about it because Virens called out the spirit animals of Acutus’ group. It felt like Rowan could do something with that.