Stories of Old Barabal
Barabal describes herself as a simple woman who likes to keep to herself. A woman who loves animals, and passing on her wisdom to new generations. In her prime, she was beautiful and beloved by all, and according to her, nothing has changed!
Now, her friends and neighbors would describe her as a crazy old bat who lives by herself in the woods telling tall tales to wolves and those foolish enough to visit her. For those who would take the time to listen, here lies a series of tales told by an old woman living alone in the woods.
*"Down in the deepest, darkest, depths of the world, a place of evil, where the hearts of giants still beat, where magic still flows like blood, there lives a man. He owns a shop, where demons dwarves and criminals will visit when they have nowhere else to turn. He’ll offer up charlatan remedies and potions unlike any you’ve ever seen. But beyond the facade, the man has magic, a magic unlike that of any other creature. You should only seek his aid if there ain’t no other option, for he’ll take your shadow as payment. He is the shadow man.
They say he lived as a man once, like you and me, but he was greedy. He sought power. He sought to be more powerful than anyone before or after him. His desires urged him to seek the power to create life itself, he wanted to be a god. He harnessed the power of giants and of nature! He toiled away all his days on his creations, until, at long last… the man succeeded! He created a small creature out of clay. But this wasn't any golem, it could feel! It loved its master but feared no god. And this, this was seen as blasphemy in the eyes of the gods! So they combined their powers and destroyed the atrocity! And in order to ensure no one would seek to reach their power again, they punished the man, as an example to all others who would try. The man was forced to live in shadow. And they cursed him to never die that he must suffer his punishment in darkness for all eternity! But the shadow man waits for his time to come again. He captures the souls of those who visit him creating an army of shadows so that he will truly rival the power of the gods! And he's coming for your shadow! If you don't beware you'll end up serving the mad shade for ALL ETERNITY!!!"*
Did I mention all of Barabal’s stories eventually end with a threat to take your soul for all eternity, or a promise of a bloody death?
“You all know of those evil Ants!?”
Barabal does not approve of the Myrmidons. You’d think their queen personally murdered her family the way she talks about ‘em. But if you ask her she’ll say she's never even met one!
“Well, the whole lot of em are evil beasts! But that queen she's the worst! A wretched giant creature. Eats 'her own babies!”
The gathered crowd rolls their eyes as she begins her tale of the evil queen.
“Once there was a sweet boy. He grew up normal, hoping to work with his dad as a fisherman! He had a bright future and a good life ahead of him. One day ‘e was with his father working in town. His father left him to go do some business and the boy began wondrn’ the square. Another young man approached ‘im. The other man didn’t look right, he was an addict. The boy though didn’t realize, he thought all was well when the man asked him for a drink at the pub. The boy agreed and the pair had a wonderful time drinkin’. The man offered the boy a strange liquid, a poison if you will. The man said the drink would change his life, make ‘im happier than he ‘ad ever been. The boy... Took the poison! He was hooked after the first drop hit his mouth! The poison controlled his life, he was now a slave to the evil ants and their horrible queen. His life and future, thrown away. The queen used him to do her evil bidding! He killed and stole in the name of the horrid queen! And it wasn’t enough! She demanded more and more! Until one day she demanded the boy go to her. And when he walked blindly through the Myrmidons’ town, down into the depths of their tunnels, he met the wretched queen. And she said in her seductive voice for the boy to come forward. And the Myrmidon queen ate ‘em! That’s why you can never trust ‘em, and never trust an addict!!!”
The children all shriek and scatter, running to hide behind their mum’s legs. The adults all roll their eyes, as they've heard her tale a hundred times.
The sun sets over the trees as Ambrosio crosses the bridge out of town holding a bowl of soup. He’s going to feed Old Barabal. He goes every day at sunset to give her soup, and at dawn to give her meat. She always chomps down happily and never says thank you. Sometimes Ambrosio stays and listens to her stories but he usually just waits for her to finish her food and then leaves. Ambrosio can hear her rambles from through the trees, he walks the thin path to see her sitting on her porch rambling about dragons to her wolves. He bends down and stares her in the face.
“Barabal,” he says, snapping her out of her trance. He places the bowl of soup on her lap and she begins happily slurping it up. Suddenly she stops and looks Ambrosio right in the eye.
“You know my name?” Ambrosio asks. Instead of answering, Barabal begins a story. One Ambrosio had never heard.
“Once, there was a girl. She was a powerful magician, working with a guild of the most powerful magic users in Candarion. Her brother was also in this guild. The girl had a gift, she could see the plains of time stretched across the world like no other, she received visions of events to come. Her brother though was jealous. He demanded to be the most powerful wizard there ever was or will be. He sought to become a god. And so he enlisted the help of his sister to perform a ritual. He told her she would gain the same benefits as he would. It wasn't until years later she realized her brother had lied about this too. So she, her brother, and a group of their closest friends left the guild of magic users and traveled to a land beyond the reach of sorcery. After aiding him with their magic her brother now had greater power than any man had ever seen before. The ravages of age would no longer taunt him, he was one step closer to his terrifying goal. The girl? She did not know the curse she had given herself. To age and age and age, but never to fade away to rest. She and the group of their friends were stuck in this life until her brother fell. He could have no other threat to his godhood. So he began killing her friends one by one. He fed her lies about evil and betrayals they had committed but in her heart, she knew her brother was lying. But she wouldn't dare question him, she had helped him to this point and the blame and blood were on her hands for the monster she had helped create. But she still followed him. She served her elder brother in his mission for conquest. And they did, her brother killed hundreds as did she. As they traveled the small land where her brother had assumed his power they began to assert their dominance. It started with the capitulation of the kings and lords of the realm, which by the end of only one leader did not comply with their demands, so they killed him too. Her brother took his place as the land’s leader but his appetite for power was not satisfied. The brother was still wary of his sister, even though she had served him faithfully, she would follow him to the depths of hell, but he didn't trust her. But even a monster couldn’t murder his own flesh and blood. So he instead he cursed her. First, he took her magic, just as he had taken other’s magic in the ritual. Second, he limited her foresight, she could see the future, but not what her brother had planned. Lastly, he cursed her thoughts. Her now brief visions were muffled in voices of madmen, and the memories that had once lived in such clarity were now muddled. And so, he abandoned her to live out her days alone where no one would listen to her, and laugh at her once-great visions.”
Ambrosio's mind turns the words over as he realizes what her story meant. It suddenly all made sense. When he was given the town to look over, Eternal stopped and gave him one last set of instructions before leaving.
“There is an old woman who lives on the hill, make sure she is fed and warm.” Ambrosio realizes that this crazy old woman was his aunt, the sister to the man that ruled over them. Barabal was not a crazy old woman, but was in fact, a wise magician cursed by a monster.
I also made an ambient sound mix of her cabin, to go along with her stories.
(It works best on desktop)