Archive for August 1, 1993

Rumble’s Cavern

Posted: August 1, 1993 in Writing
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After one great adventure, Rumble the good-natured half-Ogre decided to leave the life of a mercenary and become a businessOgre. He had enjoyed swinging his oversized weapons to save the kidnapped daughter of a Duke, but he was really in search of something else. And he hadn’t found it sliding down secret traps into spike-filled pits.
Upon presentation of the stolen princess or whatever she was, everyone had been awarded riches and presents. Even Rumble, as he admitted himself, who had been the butt of many insensitive Ogre or “half-breed” jokes all of his life out of fear of his size, strength and heritage, was awarded the same as his other companions. As his friends decided to pursue adventure and danger and riches, Rumble invested his money elsewhere. The big city he had come to was a far call from the small port of Nazbo back in Orcland where he had originally set sail for adventure. This menagerie was teeming with all sorts of humans and demi-humans with half-Orcs the most populous of the humanoid peoples. His half-Ogre bulk made it difficult for Rumble to get about without attracting stares, so he quickly went about his business and signed up to crew a ship leaving for home.
While in the bustling city of Chigoca, Rumble sought out a Sage of no little repute, who had a great knowledge of unusual things and was reputed to have the ability to blow smoke rings in different colors. Rumble was fond of smoking tobacco, a habit he had picked up during a week-long stay with the Halflings who had rescued him from being lost in Lurkwood, but had never been able to blow a smoke ring. Rumble had tarried with the Hobbits for a week, performing voluntary labors in thanks for his timely rescue from a spider of extraordinary size who had caught him in a well spun lasso of silk. Cutting him free in the nick of time were a pair of Halfling woodspeople, Nicholas and Anatina Merryfoot, who proceeded to help Rumble dispatch the bloated purple arachnid and then lead him out of the forest to their secluded and hedge-encircled town. After a week’s visit, Rumble was fondly attached to his small friends, and in bidding each other farewell, Rumble left his rescuers with a bone totem of his father’s which would be significant in bargaining with the local Ogre Stonethrower Union, and Nick and Tina gave him a furred tobacco pouch and a feathered oak and brier pipe, carved with big people dancing with little people, tailored to his respectable size. Rumble also recieved a half-pound of fresh tobacco and enough seed to grow his own patch. After this strange and happily-ending encounter, Rumble made his way by foot to Barrelton, and then sat smoking on the edge of a raft with his large feet in the water until he reached Walpurgis, where he walked to Nazbo and thence sailed into a short career adventuring.
After the rescuing-the-Duchess business, Rumble found himself running out of tobacco. The Halflings had an undiscovered luxury in a long cut and unique cavendish tobacco; the coarse and unrefined burleys that were available in Chigoca were not to Rumble’s liking. He quickly learned that the Halflings’ cavendish was much more potent and mellow, whereas the port’s tobacco was almost uncivilized. Wherever he went and smoked, soon a few dignified people would overcome their racist disgust and inquire about the beautiful aroma that arose from his pipe. Rumble was always as friendly as he could be; after all, his purse had been stolen or cut four times in the city, and would let his audience pass his pipe around and try some of the Halfling blend. Many offered to purchase his tobacco, but Rumble always declined; after his adventuring, he was well-off anyways and didn’t want to sell any of his gifts from his friends Nicholas and Anatina.
Inquiring at the door of a large basalt tower in the midst of a well-kept garden, Rumble was ushered into a small antechamber to await the arrival of the Sage. After a few minutes, he arrived in person. Balding, yet with a full grey beard, the Sage was dressed in flowing grey and white robes and carried a tablet of fine paper, an inkwell, and a white-plumed quill.
“I have yet to actually meet a half-Ogre,” the Sage said affably, sticking out his hand, “I hear that you require my services, and I decided to put off some of my studies in order to hear about your concerns.” Rumble hastily rose and bowed uncomfortably, then gingerly shook the old Sage’s hand.
“Thank you, your majesty,” Rumble didn’t know how to address a person of such magnitude.
“Oh, bosh!” said the Sage good-naturedly, “I saw you admiring my gardens and you looked intriguing. Being a Sage pays well but can be extremely dull. What can I help you with?”
“Well, your holiness,” started Rumble, “I would like to know more about smoking a pipe and growing tobacco.” The Sage lifted a grey eyebrow, and several blue twinkles escaped and dropped on to the rich carpet.
“Yes,” said the Sage, “I smoke a pipe upon occasion. Go on.” Rumble proceeded to tell him the story of how he was lost in Lurkwood and saved by the Merryfeet and came to smoke a pipe through the Halflings of Orcland. “And I haven’t been able to find any other tobacco quite as pleasent to enjoy in my pipe,” finished Rumble lamely.
“But you stated that you had seeds to grow your own tobacco,” reminded the Sage.
“But I’m frightened to plant them,” said Rumble, “I’ve never farmed before – all I’ve been told I’m good at is fighting.”
“Ah, now that,” intoned the Sage, “is complete nonsense. I can tell you many tricks about farming and the tending of plant life and will be happy to do so. But first I ask a favor of you, Mister Rumble.”
“You can just call me Rumble,” the half-Ogre said shyly, “I’ll give you all the money I have if you want.”
“No, no, my boy!” laughed the Sage, “No, nothing like that. I have enjoyed just listening to you and studying a half-Ogre up close. And I must say that you are much more pleasent to speak with than most of my snobbishly rich clients anyhow.
“No, the favor I ask for is a bowl of this Halfling cavendish that you have made my mouth water with in your descriptions.” Rumble was taken by surprise; he hadn’t been expecting this, but he knew he should have been. After all, the Sage had said that he smoked a pipe now and then.
“Of course, your lordship,” said Rumble, hesitantly bringing out the last of his tobacco.
“Stop with that ‘lordship, holiness, majesty’ crap, Rumble,” laughed the Sage again, losing a few more twinkles which flew about his head for a few seconds, “I only yesterday entertained a man who offered me a good sum of money to find out where a certain half-Ogre obtained his wondrous tobacco. I can only assume he meant you. Of course, I don’t do detective work like that and refused him; you paying me a visit is just another humorous coincidence that I’m sure I will fondly recall in the years to come. Now, pass me that golden Hobbit cavendish!”
Rumble peered into his tobacco pouch, which was more like a normal man’s satchel, and sighed. His last bowl. But if the Sage would tell him how to grow what he had, then he could be happy, and live a peaceful life as a tobacco farmer. He passed the bag carefully to the Sage, who looked into it and then at Rumble.
“Judging by the size of your pipe, this is your last bowl, son,” said the Sage slowly, “I won’t take your last bit of tobacco.”
“No, please, go ahead,” said the half-Ogre, “I’d just like to learn to grow the seeds as best as I can so that I can have my own Halfling cavendish to smoke and share with other pipe smokers.”
Looking out from under his craggy brows, the Sage looked quizzically at Rumble, and then deftly packed himself a small bowl of Halfling tobacco in a long-stemmed platinum pipe that he had shaken out of his voluminous sleeve.
“Thank you very much, Sir Rumble,” said the Sage gratefully, firing his pipe with a aimless wave of his hand. Handing the pouch back to Rumble, who found he had most of his last bowl remaining, the Sage sat back in his high-backed armchair and puffed.
The Sage raised an eyebrow, then the other one came up to meet it. He readjusted himself a little lower in his armchair. He put his feet on the coffee table. His eyes shot little fireworks of blue surprised twinkles that lazily fell like feathers into the valley of his white robes between his legs and stayed there, dancing little jigs. The Sage smoked in silence for ten minutes; Rumble patiently waited, though his back was beginning to hurt from sitting straight up for so long. Then the Sage knocked his pipe out on the sole of his shoe and conjured up a little whisk broom and dustpan to clean it up.
“This is amazing. I have smoked everything available on this continent and three or four imported aromatics, not to mention my share of fascinating substances and magickal reagents, and nothing is as purely enjoyable as this Halfling stuff,” he whistled, “You’re wishing to grow this stuff?”
“Yes,” answered Rumble simply.
“Well then, Rumble,” said the Sage as he stood up, swirling his robes around him as Sages do, “Let us take a walk in my garden and discuss the nurturing and growing of plants. Especially tobacco plants.”
For a week, Rumble and the Sage researched and spoke and talked. Rumble tried many of the special tobaccos that the Sage had tried and agreed that the Halfling cavendish was by far the mellowest and most relaxing. They discovered that tobacco was unusually resistant to duplication spells and other magicks of that sort, and on the sixth day, the Sage called upon the Grand Druid of Wolvesbane Forest through his magickal apparatus, and spoke at length with him. The Grand Druid also sampled a small amount of the Halfling tobacco, and proclaimed it another miracle of Nature. After the week was up, the Sage came to Rumble and spoke of an answer.
“Between the Druid and I, we have researched many ways to insure your tobacco crop,” started the Sage.”I have placed a short piece of advice on each of the pages of this book…”
“But I can’t read!” stammered Rumble.
“Don’t worry; they’ll speak to you,” replied the Sage testily, “Anyways, there is your research. And there will be no cost for you to pay except for the generosity which you have already demonstrated.” Rumble stood waiting.
“Of course, Rumble,” said the Sage gently, “You know how I love my gardens.”
Picking five seeds out of the secret pocket of his now empty tobacco bag, he handed them to the Sage and shook his hand gingerly again.
“Thank you very much!” Rumble said as he turned and made his way out of the lush gardens, through the stony gates and to the wharf to find passage back to Orcland.

* * * * *

Hiking north from the Keep at Gronk towards Noland, Rumble stopped at a small wooden homestead where Grizzle Road meets the north-south Madonna Road.
“Howdy, stranger!” said a man in leather overalls from the porch. He was in his early thirties and had pleasant crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes. He introduced a woman sitting next to him. “This here’s my lovely wife, Rebecca. Do we have any coffee left?” he asked her.
“I’ll go see, sugar,” she said, getting up and disappearing inside.
“Hello, sir,” said Rumble.
“My you’re a big guy,” said the man, walking down the steps towards him, “Might I ask who and, sorry about this, what you are?”
“Of course,” said Rumble, who was used to explaining his size, “My name is Rumble, and I’m part Ogre.”
“Well, now; that expains a lot. Care to have a cup of coffee?” The man walked up and shook his hand warmly. “ “Becca’s always got coffee on. My name’s Rump. I’ve opened a sort of stopping place – a general store, you see. I figure that there should be a town around here sometime soon, this being halfway between Gronk and Tadox, which is just a speck in the eye of the Maker, anyhow. Where’re you travelling to, Rumble?”
“I’m looking for a place to plant some crops,” said Rumble a little bit guardedly.
“Well, I don’t want to make you stop here, but there’s a pretty patch of land just up beyond the circle of the two roads, over yonder past those big trees you might want to look at,” Rump pointed up the road about 400 yards, “There’s a little spring right past those trees on the grassland side, and a gentle valley that gets good sun all day.” Rebecca came out with three cups of coffee and they stood in the road in the late morning, talking.
After a while, Rumble said he would go look at the land; he was tired from a long journey, and had had a bad experience in Paddywak with a gang of brigands. Rump and Rebecca were sympathetic, and they told him he could leave his belongings at the house while he traipsed around.
The trees that Rump had pointed out were huge; they were all massive oak trees with great histories enscribed in their bark and in the boles of lost limbs. The spring Rump mentions sprang from the roots of one of the great trees and bounced merrily down through the grassy slopes into one of the many small riverbeds in the mild rolling fields of the Jumpback Grasslands. Sitting down in the shade of one of the oaks, Rumble took out his tobacco pouch, which now held the book the Sage had given him. He opened it up and leafed through the pages to the section on proper land. He held the book up to the scenic view of the valley, and it exclaimed immediately: “Perfect!”