Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gore Worms: A Deep Red Vintage (Wermspittle)

Down and Out in Wermspittle
Norrivy lives on the third floor of the Black Tambourine in Wermspittle, a notorious tavern that was mostly burned-out during the riots last winter. The owner was killed in the course of settling the matter of who was responsible for the repair of the place a few months ago. Since then it has been pretty-much abandoned as no one is paying the night watch or anyone else to keep an eye on it, which makes it questionable on a good day and very dangerous on a not so good night.

So far Norrivy has been okay. Mostly because she takes precautions. Also she spends a lot of time locked away down in the cellars beneath the place.

She's discovered the second cellar. The one the old owner used for their clandestine alchemical experiments.

Norrivy was raised among farmers. She learned how to pickle and preserve things at an early age. Looking through the beer-brewing set-up, and the small (mostly unused) wine-press, what little remained of the stock of already-brewed beer and wine left behind by the looters, and the well-hidden alchemical apparatus gave her ideas. Norrivy began to experiment herself.

At first she tinkered with adding different components to the stouts, porters, ales, lagers and beers she brewed, adding-in things like medicinal herbs, fruit rinds, even small quantities of resinous incense. Some things worked better than others. Then winter came in and it became far more difficult to collect suitable cast-offs and spoilt produce to work with, even barley and oats were getting scarce and she was running low on hops, herbs and other supplies. Starvation stalked the streets and alleys of Wermspittle, as it did every winter, preying upon the weak, the old, and those who were just plain unlucky.

But Norrivy considered herself lucky. She was smart. Determined. A survivor.

All she needed was a little help.

Can You Take It?
Norrivy doesn't have a lot to offer, aside from the promise of some beer and pottage or bread made from the mash left-over from the brewing process. But it is food. Winter is here and people are only going to get more desperate as what little reserves, stocks and stored provisions there might be are quickly depleted. Already there are rumors of butcher-boys snagging fresh meat from among the shanty-camps.

Stealing grain, herbs and rotten produce might not sound like much of a start for a young thief, but it could make the difference between starving or getting turned into winter-sausage and surviving to see the next Spring.

Outside the patrolled areas of Wermspittle there are lots of unclaimed, collapsing and abandoned warehouses, manors and other places where scavengers are always finding stuff. Norrivy is sure that there are caches of grain, waxed or pickled roots, just about anything one could ever want all lying there in the basements and burned-out buildings just past the gas lamps and regular patrols.

Perhaps she will craft a simple root-finding charm, if you ask.

Will She Make It?
One of the local underground surgeons will eventually learn about Norrivy's use of the old Black Tambourine as a makeshift den of thieves and unsanctioned brewery. He is an old associate of the previous, legitimate owner, or so he claims. He approaches Norrivy about distilling a very special vintage using his alchemical knowledge and her 'inherited' apparatus.

The surgeon's name is Grimaden. He wishes to distill down the essence of certain special ingredients in order to create a rich, red elixir-like liqueur that he has only read about in the pages of a moldy old grimoire that he had discretely stolen from Aldrich the book-seller by a pair of thieves who've since disappeared.

The two thieves are locked away in a basement. They have been immobilized and are now hosts to specially-treated Gore-worms that Grimaden has been treating with various rare medicinal decoctions, bizarre formulas and other-planar salts.

Will Norrivy acquiesce to Grimadens' strange proposal? Will she have any choice? What happens if some young thief discovers what happened to their two comrades? What happens if Grimaden succeeds?

1 comment:

  1. Even beyond the character and situation - which are pretty rich in potential - there's a real insight into the wider landscape there. Potent stuff.


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