Friday, June 14, 2013

Pokies and Wullies...With a Bonus Dwarf Murder Mystery

Goats (males) are known as pokies, sheep (females) are simply wullies.
They come in various colors: black, spotted, brown, and white.

White pokies/wullies are usually found only in the snowy mountains where their hide acts as a natural camouflage. In the spring and/or lower altitudes, the white mountain pokie’s coat turns an ashy gray to better hide it against the rocks. An extremely rare mountain pokie is the Great Black Pokie, with long horns and a thick black coat. Black pokies and wullies are much more common in the domesticated, flatlands breeds, but to have one be completely black (not a mix of color or spots) is almost unheard of.

 For some unknown reason, pokies climb trees – at least shepherds have never been able to figure it out. This odd behavior has never been observed as it occurs. Shepherds simply wake to find that a pokie has climbed a tree. This has led to the belief that pokies can fly - there are even fairy tells of chariots being carried aloft by flying black pokies. In all actuality, it’s a defense mechanism. The male pokie does this so he can literally watch over his flock and genetically speaking, even if the rest of the flock is devoured by a predator, the male’s genes survive to potentially gather another flock and reproduce.

Shaggy ones with long horns are called Great Pokies. They are rare because they were hunted nearly to extinction, by the dwarves, for drinking horns and/or helmet ornamentation. Their long coats also make excellent robes. A black great pokie is 1 in over 2,000. This exceedingly rare specimen has only ever been seen on an exceptional handful of lucky occasions. Dwarves believe it’s a sign of good fortune to come. But if one goes hunting for a great black pokie and either doesn’t find one, or worse, finds one but cannot kill it, these are bad omens of a life of toil, pursuit, and missed opportunity. 

King Ovid Cleft-Foot – so named because once in a drunken, capering reverie he dropped his war axe, splitting his right foot several inches above his toes. He was lucky enough not to lose the foot entirely, but the wound never knitted back together because he wouldn’t stay off it like his physician told him to. He forever walked with a limp. To this day there is a dwarf admonishment to “never dance drunk and barefoot with a battleaxe”.

A pair of dwarf brothers (Hairn and Gote) are in competition for the throne/pokie crown of their father. He challenges them each to find and kill a great black pokie for their coronation feast. Doing so will result in them becoming king. Gote is the eldest and feels that he shouldn’t have to earn the crown; it should be his by right. But the king knows that Hairn would likely make a better ruler because, being the younger, he always understood that people aren’t going to just give you respect, you must work to earn it.

They leave the unterholm by different doors, but end up fairly close to each other in their hunts. Hairn amazingly spots one and fires at it…but misses. The pokie fleas (unbeknownst to Hairn) toward his brother, Gote. Hairn is much disturbed by the omen that he had the crown within his grasp and it slipped away due to his haste. He pursues the pokie. Against all odds he finds it again in the driving snow. This time he steadies himself, takes a deep breath, and fires into the wind. He fells the great black pokie. 

The only reason he was able to hit it is because the pokie’s attention was diverted. Upwind of it was Gote readying his kill shot as well. Because Gote was firing with the wind, and Hairn was on the leeward side of the hill, Gote’s arrow passes over where the pokie was standing. Had it not fallen to Hairn’s shot, Gote may have hit it. As it was, Hairn killed the pokie, and Gote’s arrow struck Hairn in the chest. All Gote sees in his excitement is that the prey fell. He rushes to claim it and finds his brother’s arrow buried in its lungs. Hairn lays gasping and bleeding in the blizzard. Gote has a choice: he can leave the trophy, knowing full well he did not kill it, and try to save his brother (the rightful king) by getting him back to the unterholm. Or he can pull his brother’s arrow from the pokie and replace it with his own. He chooses option B. Hairn cries out in pain and rage as his brother betrays him, pulling the shaft from the black coat. Gote approaches, silences Hairn by stabbing him in the throat with his own arrow. As Hairn dies gurgling, Gote plunges his arrow into the pokie. He then shoulders his brother’s still warm corpse and dumps him in a deep, narrow ravine – ne’er to be found. Then he obscures the tracks of the bloody scene and returns home with his ill-gotten prize. 

No one ever knows what became of Hairn the Lost. Some think he never came back because he couldn’t stand to live under his dark brother (they whisper Hairn’s the lucky/smart one to have left). Others think he left to found a new unterholm where he could be king. 

Gote the Black – named for his rare black robe, is a horrible ruler and a drunkard. He is brooding and sullen and constantly tries to drink away his brother’s murder. His hands were cleaned at the coronation after he skinned the pokie and ate its heart in front of witnesses, but he can never get the blood off his conscience. In drunken fits of rage he’s heard screaming “I’m king! My brother missed his chance! I’m king!”

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