Tammin and Torregan

Started by Jubal, August 20, 2015, 10:58:31 PM

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Tammin and Torregan

Tammin had spent many years travelling upon errands and quests, doing great and heroic deeds – and he was beginning to tire of that life. Returning to the castle of Prester John, he asked him whether there was any further thing he could learn to serve him.

"You have learned," said the King, "the greatest of magics, the most powerful of sword-thrusts. But you have not yet learned the greatest skill of them all."
"And what would that be, my liege?" asked Tammin.

"How to make a hero." The King replied, and sent him on his way.

And so it was that Tammin was sent to a town, perched where two rivers met, somewhere in that sun-baked land. He was sent there as a governor, to dispense justice, to ensure that walls were built and bridges repaired and water supplies kept flowing. But this was no idyll – for this town was plagued by a monster.

The monster's name was Torregan. Torregan! The monster that even monsters feared. With two terrible heads, with teeth as sharp as razors, with great clawed hands. With eyes like burning coals, breath foul and heavy, and great warts all over his skin. Torregan, who prowled the edges of the town, taking the unwary animal or person and leaving them a pile of bloodied bones.

Tammin knew the lore of monsters, for he had toiled long as a hero; he had studied the learned works of the gymnosophists, and he had faced the dreaded catoblepas, and many other deeds too numerous and mighty to recount here. But Prester John had told him that under no circumstance should he go; for to lead is not to do deeds of heroism alone, but to cause the doing of them among others. And so Tammin thought, and considered, and at last he called for metal, and a forge, and he worked a night and a day to forge a sword – a sword with a heart of star-iron, a sword that had stripes of coloured metal alternating light and darkness. And he named it Vepkhidor, the Tiger's Gift.

It was announced to the people what Tammin had done, and a great hubbub arose as people discussed who should be given the sword, and who should have the duty of plunging it deep into the belly of the monster.

The people came to Tammin and they clamoured for the strongest man in the town to go and delive the killing blow. They called for the town's watchman, a great and strong man who had faced many a bandit and robber without flinching. Surely, they thought, this was the man to deliver the blow – and so he took the sword and left to do the deed.

The watchman climbed up the hill in the heat of the day, all the way up to the dark cave where Torregan lay in hiding. He stepped up to the cave's entrance, and peered into the gloom. He took one look – and there he saw the monster. With two terrible heads, with eyes like burning coal – and he fled, down the hill, back to the town, dropping the sword in the street, and he shut himself in his house and would not come out for anything.

Night fell, and the monster came out to hunt – and the people were worried, for who else among them could do the deed?

The next day the townspeople got together, and then clamoured to send the wisest man in the town – if strength would not help, perhaps someone of great intelligence and cunning would win the day. They selected the town's apothecary, someone learned in all manner of herbs and lore, and sent him up the hill with the sword that Tammin had prepared.

He climbed up the hill in the heat of the day, all the way up to the dark cave where Torregan squatted in the darkness. Carefully, slowly, he edged his way towards the cave entrance. There he saw Torregan, the monster that monsters feared. He saw teeth as sharp as razors, he smelt breath foul and heavy – and it was too much for him. he fled, down the hill, back through the town's gates, dropping the sword in the street, and he too shut himself in his house and would not come out for anything that was offered.

Night fell, and the second day ended – and the people were afraid for it seemed that perhaps nobody could destroy the monster after all.

Tammin did not listen to the people or their clamour; he sat in thought. Eventually, he went out to the riverbank where the children played, and there he found a little girl, little Natia, only six years old, and knelt down beside her and talked to her. She had hardly noticed the terror in the town, and was quite content playing make-believe games by the river. After a few words had passed between them, Tammin gave her the sword.

She climbed up the hill in the heat of the day – and kept climbing, for she was only small, until she came to the mouth of Torregan's cave as the heat began to cool in the late afternoon. She saw those great clawed hands, she saw the warty, gnarled skin – but she did not flinch, for she knew nothing of what the apothecary knew, and had never had to face the terrors the watchman had faced.

Torregan never even noticed her.

Meanwhile, in the town, the crowd had assembled outside Tammin's house. Word had spread about the little girl, and anger raged. How dare this governor throw the lives of their children away? Words were shouted, clubs found, and threats soon began to fly in the air. Tammin had barred the door, but some of the townspeople were already calling for a log to break it down.

But then, in the midst of all the anger, little Natia was seen coming back into the town. And she dragged behind her the blade – Vepkhidor, the Tiger's Gift – dripping with the thick blood of the dead Torregan.

"How is this possible? The crowd murmured "That one so young should have slain Torregan – the monster that even monsters fear?"

"Of course!" Said Tammin, opening his door at last. "For you see, fear was the very thing preventing the brave, or the wise. It took a child's mind to believe that such a deed could be done – nobody, after all, had told her it was impossible."

And so they saw Tammin's wisdom, and at last the night fell – and the town was at peace once more.

Tellers' Notes

I've changed this a bit since the one time I told it, mostly adding some embellishments - the naming of Natia as the little girl, and Vepkhidor as the sword (I like named swords, I may give Tammin his own at some point). My original note on this has it as "Tammin and Typhon", but I decided Typhon was both too well known and too cataclysmic for this story. The point at which I decided this was actually when I was on my feet, shortly after I started telling, and so "Torregan" was born very much on the spur of the moment as I panicked, gabbled some syllables and hoped they came out correctly! Certainly this goes to show that no plan or story survives contact with the enemy or an audience respectively - edits can be made as one is going along and in general few people notice.

I've also noticed that the more Tammin stories I write, the better and easier it is to add the impression of depth to them as a teller - because one can hint at Tammin's other deeds with more confidence. This is more or less filler unless an audience member knows the stories, of course, but it helps make the story feel rooted somehow by giving it a body of legend that it lies within (Tolkien's Lord of the Rings I suppose being an example par excellence of this effect).
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...