Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Grizzly Mage

Let me start by telling you all how the Grizzly Mage came into fruition:
Last weekend, in New Orleans, some friends and I happened to catch the end of this particularly bad movie called Grizzly Rage. Which, as you've probably surmised, is about this big ol' angry grizzly bear's murderous rampage amongst bad actors. The bear was, in reality, just reacting to the quality of the script.

Anyway, short after viewing this monstrosity, we all went to the Audubon Zoo. There we saw actual grizzly bears. Upon finding them, we made cracks about the bears flying into fits of rage at the people watching them. And I made the comment:

Wouldn't that movie been so much more awesome had it been titled "Grizzly Mage"?

And that birthed this illustration.

But that's not all – I have something to report: Shortly after picturing the GM in my head, I thought "This seems so familiar..."

It turns out, I actually have this stuffed animal somewhere in my room at my parent's house. An actual bear in a wizard's robe and hat, pretty much exactly like what I have drawn up above. Crazy! So I'll take a picture of it and upload it when I can.

And now on to the fun part:

The Illustrious and Epic Backstory of the Grizzly Mage

During the Second Age of Great Green, in the midst of a violent social feud brought about by a particularly oppressive feudal system, there lived a bear.

In all of this green, great land, there wasn't a more content bear than Tuftuft. The often-violent spats between the land's green-clad knights and wily mages hadn't yet reached his secluded cave getaway in the Rockmelt Mountains. What does a bear care for these matters, anyway? As long as there were plenty of fish in his valley's brook and honey in his conveniently low-hanging bee hives, Tuftuft was definitely not going to raise a paw in complaint.

Unbeknownst to our content bear, quite a bit of action would soon find its way into Rockmelt and, in specifically, his valley.

Several of Great Green's big-name knights, along with a cavalcade of citizens from both Big Theremin and Bigger Theremin, had relentlessly pursued their quarry north across the Great Wrinkle, further north through both Arrow Pass and Windhollow (relatively famous for the wind-carved rockchimes that sound natural melodies on particularly windy days), and then a tad east to finally end up in the Rockmelt foothills.

Why all the fuss? The one being pursued was none other than the infamous mage Griswold Fourlegs, who earned the latter part of his name by polymorphing a third of Big Theremin's population into various farm animals for sport. Not taking kindly to this sadistic jest, Lords Mars Bolden and Thomas Shine of the Roots Guild took up arms and whipped up a flash mob of locals into action. Unfortunately for Fourlegs, the citizens of Big Theremin were in exceptional condition due to frequent competitions to prove themselves to their slightly-larger sister city, Bigger Theremin. It was a very long and unusual foot race. The several hundred farm animals following in stride only added to the spectacle.

Tuftuft first became alerted when some resounding vibrations knocked a fresh catch of fish off of his dinner rock-table. "Rrr?" he grumbled, as his furry ears perked up. In the middle of debating whether or not to leave his cozy cave to investigate the matter, the light at the entrance was blotted out. Anxious shots and angry threats drowned our bear's curious "Rrr?!?"

The Lords, the green-clad knights and the remaining two-thirds of Big Theremin had chased Fourlegs (huffing and puffing) all the way into the mouth of Tuftuft's dimly-lit domicile.

The din in the den was almost unbearable. Soon confusion was sardined in along with everything else. The mass of pursuers bottlenecked at the entrance, leaving Fourlegs to speed onwards unmolested, right into Tuftuft.

All that our bear had time to do was gasp in reaction. The frantic mage, however, didn't have time to do anything. Not seeing Tuftuft in the absence of a decent amount of lighting, Foulegs ran straight into the open maw of the bear, where the light was definitely not better. The villain's momentum made him an easy swallow, in terms of difficulty. Taste was another matter. You can imagine Tuftuft's disappointment, as he realized his yummy fresh fish was replaced by a sour, malnourished mage.

What happened next was a first in the history of Great Green. Or, rather, it was the first recorded incident of its kind. The following was later added into the Rules of Magick:

"If One who pracktises the art of Magick has been heartily consumed thusly by Another or any of the Beasts in the Realm, thine unfortunate One's powers shall be inherited by said Consumer, verily. Lo and behold, thus is thy Thirteenth Rule of Magick." - Coniperus XIV

Everyone wedged together at the cave entrance simultaneously gasped, allowing a little extra wiggle room with which to break up the bottleneck. The bear had just spoken aloud:

"My, that was plum awful."

Most people present, mystified by a talking bear, dropped their weapons. They could not quite understand what happened. None of their citizens-turned-animals could talk. Had Fourlegs turned himself into a bear and was preparing to eat them all? Some of the mob bent down to reclaim their arms.

Just then, Tuftuft coughed up one of Fourleg's shoes. A cheer swept through the mob. The two Lords approached the enlightened bear. "What is thoust name, noble beast?" asked Lord Bolden. Lord Shine nudged him with his armored elbow. "Ahem, pardon me, noble bear."

"I believe my name is Tuftuft, but I cannot be sure. I seem to remember being called by that years ago, but, as you can tell, I haven't been amongst the most chatty of fellows."

A titter went through the crowd. " Methinks 'ee means de animals, methinks!" guffawed some anonymous, yet still qite audibly pleased, citizen.

The Lords and knights supposed it was quite easy for everyone to warmly embrace the idea of a talking, magical bear, if said bear had just assisted them in putting an end to a vile excuse for a mage. Once the situation was explained, and much celebrating was had, Tuftuft was convinced by his new fans to join them in returning to the more urban parts of the Great Green. Tuftuft, quickly realizing that the ordinary bear-life would no longer suit him, and eager to explore his newfound intellect and reason, agreed to the request.

Returning to his den to pack his fish and other bear necessities, Tuftuft stumbled upon some items that he had never taken heed of before (remember, bears didn't really take notice of human this-and-thats). He was quite surprised to find that his den's floor was lined with manuscripts, loose pages, worn books, various trinkets, and even a portrait or two. Gathering up the items that were still salvageable, Tuftuft gently placed everything a large sheet that was provided by one of the Big Thereminians, and walked out into the sunlight.

He was greeted by another gasp.

One of the portraits, much too large to be fully concealed by the sheet, showed a much-younger Griswold Fourlegs standing next to another young mage. Fourlegs had on a look that could be likened to one of contempt, while the mage on the right looked genuinely happy. This may be attributed to the fact that the portrait also showed Fourlegs holding a Silver Maging Medallion and the other figure sporting a Golden Maging Medallion. The difference in medals was almost as clear as the difference in character. The goodly mage on the right, holding the Gold, had a smile that looked as if it could hold one spellbound in itself. Fourleg's scowl could only cast fear and spite.

Upon removing the portrait from the bear's to-go package, Lord Shine examined the nameplate at the bottom of the frame.

"The 101st Annual Great Green Mage-Off.
Silver Mage Griswold of Bigger Theremin.
Gold Mage Tuftil of Big Theremin.

"Tuftil? MAGE TUFTIL? Tuftuft? Is that you???" cried Lord Bolden.

"I've read about you in Great Green Heroes and Legendary Figures, Vol. 2, methinks!" cried the aforementioned anonymous citizen.

"Err..mayhaps?" Tuftuft puzzled his brain for a minute. "I do seem to recognize that shoe I coughed up."

So, in conclusion, that day was marked in the annals of Great Green as one of remarkable events and revelations. The town of Big Theremin had traded a most foul plight for the return of one of its heroes to its streets. Tuftuft, formerly Tuftil of maging fame, had been polymorphed by a jealous Griswold Fourlegs some time after winning the Maging Tournament. As a bear, Tuftuft had made a quiet niche far away in the Rockmelt range, ignorant of the atrocities for which Fourlegs would eventually become infamous. Remember, what do bears care for human matters?

Though this is the end of how the Grizzly Mage came to be, it is surely not the end of the Great Green tales that tell of his adventures. Remember, there is much to be righted, and there are plenty of skewed characters out there that need to be polymorphed into honeypots and such. I hope these tales some day find their way to you.


  1. i guess i would, too, spin into a rage if i was caught in night cap and gown. bravo on the back story. keep it up and i'll be forced to come up with a series of burt {insert clever nickname} durand responses.

  2. Mages love the nightcap/gown look!

  3. I love this bear Burt.
    So much so, I was inspired to do a bear of my own.
    I really love the language in your tale, also.
    Very nice!


  4. i love the illustration! the colors and textures rock.
    I won't lie, I didn't have time to read all that, but I can still like it, right?

  5. Haha, I'm very proud of that story, Elise!