Thursday, May 8, 2014
The Ballad of Milo Gutherie and the Ship of Fools (part 1)
Preamble to the Lamentation of Little Bear
Tucked in a forgotten corner of the South Province is the village of Kimber. It sits between the northern most tip of the Garnet mountain range and the Valley of the Three Wolves, just south of everything that matters in the world of Krynn. During the Great War the village did its part in the service of humanity and sent three of its sons to fight and die in foreign lands. Jack Hoffler was captured outside of Nightlund by a raiding party; what was left of him was sent to his mother. Tim Coulter became something of a hero after he held Hill 224 north of Elmwood for seven hours by himself. There wasn't anything of him left to send home after the black dragon took the hill. Then there was Milo Gutherie who didn't have the common decency to die and never come back. Milo was an angry little man who never met a bottle he didn't like or a person he did.
Reports from the front had him fighting in every major battle along the Nightlund boarder. He'd killed more than his share and most everyone in Kimber had prayed to gods they didn't belive in that he wouldn't make it back. For three years they prayed that he wouldn't come home only to wake up on the third of November and find him stumbling into town with a mule pulling a cart behind him. From what could be seen it looked as if he had looted every brothel, pool hall, and beer hut from here to Solace.
He crossed the town square where he paused just long enough to pee on the commemorative plaque the city council had erected in the memory of Tim Coulter and Jack Hoffler. The good people of Kimber were righteously offended. They had a meeting and issued a proclamation denouncing Milo's desecration of the Heroes' Memorial Plaque. They even went so far as to hold a vote on forcing Milo out of town; it would have passed, too, if they could have found anyone willing to enforce it. In the end they decided not to speak or even acknowledge Milo Gutherie and elected to not give a damn.
Milo went back to his old property, where his father, and his father's father, and a line going straight back to old Posey Gutherie who had settled the spot for prospecting before the good people of Kimber had ever even been a glimmer in their forefathers' eyes. Fifteen generations of Gutherie had resided on this property and to the man they had all been cantankerous sons of bitches. Tig Gutherie had robbed the coach heading for Solanthus and run from the Knights for seven years before he died up in Beggar's Gultch. Robert Gutherie killed poor Tom Meadows on the town square for blocking his sun and the story goes that when they hung him his only regret was that he couldn't do it over again. Marlo Gutherie poisoned pastor Megan Strong for not liking her Sunday dress. While Anna Gutherie skinned Micheal Gamble after he accidentally struck little Alice Roberts. Yet not one of that Gutherie line could hold a candle to Milo.
It should come as no surprise then that as Milo erected his still in Little Bear creek that not one person dared to tell him not to do so. Sheriff Gamble and his deputy knew about the still but even mentioning Milo's name would send the Sheriff off to Stilton's Pub so he could calm his nerves, and that cowardly deputy would head out towards Milo's but never seemed to make past the edge of town. For his part Milo liked living alone. Alone you didn't have to worry about people dying next to you in a foxhole while some ugly lizard slit his throat. You didn't have to care about the kid who laughed at your jokes burning to death in dragon's fire; and you didn't have to miss anyone when they were gone.
So Milo built his still and spent the spring planting corn and the fall harvesting apples and corn for whiskey. He burnt apple wood to heat his still and sang dirty songs about naked elven women and horny dwarves that echoed down into town. The old men were scandalized, while the old women asked their sons what Milo meant by a Gully Steamer. This went on for two years and during that time not a soul saw Milo when he wasn't drunk and spoiling for a fight.
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