Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Enchanted Hedge-Mazes of Alfgrim

It happens that effete nobles want for entertainment and need must find ways to disport themselves - this has been true in all times and in all human and Demi-human societies. This is a chronic problem particularly in Alfgrim, where bored and wealthy persons are used to internecine warfare and plotting murder, and where time does not always pass as it does in other lands. Weeks can take months and months may take years to resolve, here, and it may be overlong until the next work holiday might justify a street fair or public flaying

So nobles in Alfgrim turn to something else that they have in abundance, namely hedges.  And mazes.  Each little town has a hedgemaze, in which industrious and bored persons may find themselves lost for a time.

In these, the strangest and most curious things may happen, varied regionally according to the whims of the proprietors and their customers.  They are often ribald and/or plainly sexually themed.  The nobles and landed gentry take their cues from ageless beautiful Elfin-kind that have aeons to develop their tastes in the fleshly pursuits.

Some are more prosaic, with simple Tea Gardens and Croquet Pitches strewn about casually, or elegant Ketsueki-style Koi Ponds.  Many are trapped.  The duplicitous nature of death in Alfgrim and the peasantry's strange willingness to be converted into un-dead or half-dead means that some foolhardy souls are inevitably trapped in wicked machines that slay them, and then turned over to necromancers and vivimancers for spare parts or rebuilding.

Wrought iron and beautifully carved wooden gates may open into extra-dimensional spaces, corridors of green holly and viburnum may seem to artfully expand into infinity, and privets and roses may suddenly animate and attack passers-by (although the appeal of these sorts of mazes is somewhat limited to the more bloodthirsty nobles)

Each calendar year, beginning on the feast day of Saint Christina the Astonishing and ending on the First Market Day of Dragonspawn, private charitable organizations send out rag-tag gangs of adventurous hobbyists to undertake to "solve" the hedgemazes of nearby rivals.  Bring back the Yellow Chalice, slay the Mechanical Wyvern, Seduce the Gynosphinx - the solutions are sundry.  The Fellowes of the Goat may find themselves clashing with the West End Brutes owing to scheduling conflicts and the permeable flow of time in these places, since the Yellow King dispenses with his endless work of repairing the chronological order within the bounds of the mazes.  It is not uncommon for luckless people to bump into themselves headed in the other direction, or even to find their own dessicated corpses (considered unlucky at best).  Sometimes parties of adventurers come out the week before they left, causing no end of trouble for His Majesty.  Thus it is common for Maze-Gangs to judge their nearness to the end of The Quest and vary their speed or diligence in overcoming obstacles, taking time to stop for tea, a few rallies of badminton, and other more flagrant delights.

the halfling haberdashers' guild keenly disputes lost points

Coincidentally, it was the task that the Yellow King set Sir Carredot upon to stymie his un-remembered rival that caused Alfgrim to blossom into the weird place it is at this time.  "The Solving of the Adventure" in QR 2600, which cracked the aether and brought the mists.  None now know where Carredot may really be - it is the official policy of the Court that he spends his numberless days making appearances at state events and private parties, but it is rumored that behind his ceremonial dragon armor there may be a string of handsome actors.

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