Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: The Trial of Reynard the Fox

The Twilight Realm of Dawn is a queer place of wonderful, wondrous, and whimsical beauty and grim, dark, and deadly horror. It is called by many names The Land of Fairy, The Nth Kingdom, and Fantasia. Yes, even a world of magic like Narya, the Twilight Realm of Dawn is considered to be even more inherently fantastic. After all, it is the nexus through which all positive energy, an important element of magic that makes up the magical conflux of Narya, travels and is a sometimes disturbingly and always twisted bright reflection of the material world. There are many odd nooks and crannies, as well as crooks and nannies, in this odd plane and, in one corner is a place where a genre of children's stories become manifest and/or manifest from. The genre that involve talking animals in fancy clothes and moral lessons and rhymes. It is a very real country in the fey realm. This country is called The Kingdom of Animalia.

It is in Animalia that the famous Trial of Reynard the Fox.

As the kingdom of Animalia prepared for their yearly and most important religious celebration-- The Feast of the Holyest of Holys-- their King, Nobyl the Lion, sat upon his throne to listen to the problems of his subjects. A procession of his subjects called for a special session of court to discuss the infamous trickster, Reynard the Fox, and his crimes. Primarily, he had been posing as a priest to commit a number of crimes, each more villainous than the last.

Ysengrim the Wolf was the first to bring up charges against the fox.

Reynard was his cousin, rival and, by this trial, enemy. Reynard came to his house, dressed in a monk's robes, and claiming himself to have changed his ways. Ysengrim didn't want to give him a chance but his wife was losing her eyesight and needed comfort. And Ysengrim had business in town. So, reluctantly, he agreed to let his cousin pray with her. When Ysengrim returned early, having forgotten his purse, he found Reynard in bed with his wife!

It seemed that, as soon as he left, Reynard covered himself in soot, pretended to be Ysengrim, and fooled the nearly blind she-wolf into bed. Ysengrim chased the fox but the slippery bastard escaped into the woods, having made poor Ysengrim into a cuckold and fool, and having taken advantage of the she-wolf.

Pander the Hare came forward next.

Pander was just a young hare and he, and his dozens of brothers and sisters, were sent to the local church to learn the Holy Book and how to pray. Instead of the head priest, Reynard the Fox was waiting for them. Reynard said head priest of the church wasn't feeling well so he asked his new assistant, Reynard, to teach them how to pray. He told them to bow their heads, shut their eyes and to recite the prayers quietly. He made sure to correct them when they did not match this form because his intent was quite sinister.

Pander was alone in the church, praying as Reynard had instructed, and Reynard the Fox attacked him. It seemed that the fox had instructed this odd praying pose to  make it better for him to tear out their throats! Luckily, the head priest had managed to get out of the broom closet that Reynard had locked him inside and beat him with a rod until the fled.

But this was a feeble attempt compared to the crime committed against Chanticleer the Rooster.

Chanticleer was guarding his coop from predators, of which there are many in Animalia who threaten chickens when, once again dressed as a monk, Reynard conspired to villainy. Reynard came to Chanticleer's home, head bowed and singing hymns, and the rooster was prepared to attack and condemn him. The fox presented him with a letter allegedly written by the head priest that Reynard had changed his ways and had abstained from eating flesh for weeks. This letter fooled the rooster and he lowered his guard to read another letter the fox presented him, supposedly from the kind, about rewarding the noble, the brave and the good rooster with a knighthood.

As Chanticleer read the letter again and again, puffing himself up with pride, he forgot the fox was there. Before he looked up, the fox had snuck into the coop and gobbled up Chanticleer's children before the rooster could chase him into the woods.

Reynard's friends Grimbert the Badger and Tybert the Cat tried to speak up in his defense, claiming the victims all had previous entanglements with the fox, but the king was too moved by the accounts of his people to ignore their pleas for justice. He commanded Bruin the Bear, who is brave and strong, to go find Reynard and bring him to court.

Bruin went to Reynard's home and the fox agreed, even thanking the astonish bear for seeking him out so he can make amends, to come to court with him. He apologized and said he would be slow on the journey because he had stopped eating meat and discovered a new favorite food that had filled his stomach: honeycomb.

The hungry bear was distracted and asked where he found the honeycomb. The fox tried to dissuade him and encourage the bear to stay on task but the bear insisted. And so, the fox led him to a bee hive box deep in the nearby woods and pointed to a hole in the side. The bear pushed his snout into the hole and the fox gave him a good kick to the bottom, getting him stuck in the the box, so that when the fox hollered, the fey folk that owned the bee hive box came out and attacked the bear. Poor Bruin was only lucky enough to escape with his life, and a lot of bee stings and bruises, before returning to court.

The king is furious and sends Cuwert the Rabbit and Belyn the Ram to try to trick the fox into coming to court. He gives them a letter and tells them to give Reynard a letter telling him that he is to come to the court to be reward some great honor.

When they arrive at Reynard's home and inquire about him, the fox's family claims that Reynard has fallen ill after being attacked by Bruin! He apologizes but says he cannot travel because he is on his death bed.

Cuwert and Belyn discuss how to handle the situation. They decide one of them must go back to the king and tell him about the fox's state BUT, to make sure this isn't a trick, one of them must stay and guard Reynard. Belyn seemed the best choice but Reynard's family assured him one of the illnesses the fox had was fatal to rams so Belyn insists Cuwert take the job as he waits outside. Belyn set off for the king's court and, before he got far, Reynard's child gave him a wrapped package to give to the king with Reynard's regards.

Belyn came to the court, bowed and offered up the present to the king. The court howled in horror at the contents: Cuwert the rabbit's head!

The king's wrath almost had him turn and execute the ram but the accusers reminded the king of Reynard's cunning and cruelty. He must have murdered Cuwert and intended to trick them into killing Belyn to play a most wicked trick on them. King Nobyl became furious and considered going to retrieve the fox himself.

Reynard's friend say that this must be some misunderstanding, begging the king not to resort to such an indignity as going to Reynard's home and Tybert the Cat offers to go this time with a letter from the king demanding Reynard present himself under penalty of death.

Reynard is not very pleased with Tybert's treachery, as he sees it, and Reynard's family glowers at him before the fox agrees to come. But first, he offers the cat a meal of mice and fish that his wife had prepared. The cat eats the meal only to discover that Reynard's wife has drugged it. He wakes up about to be thrown into a ditch by Reynard's children and barely escapes.

When he tells the court of Reynard's attempt on his life, only Grimbard trusts his cousin Reynard, and vows that he will retrieve the scallywag.

Grimbard arrives at Reynard's home, his "castle", and tells him off: he has gone too far by attacking the king's messengers and that he must go to court. His scolding seems to work and Reynard, who feigns guilt and innocence like others change in out of clothes, agrees to come along. Reynard's wife and children come out, tearfully, to see him go. It seemed they were trying to play on the badger's heart strings but he knows Reynard too well.

And so, Reynard is escored to King Nobyl's court.

As Reynard enters the court, the crowd howls and hisses and hoots in derision as the fox enters, head bowed solemnly. He then approached the bench, acting as if he is the king are old friends, and apologizing for his tardiness. The king does not appreciate his familiar attitude and asks for him to explain his multitude of crimes as his accusers watch from the crowded gallery. The fox claims innocence but, as the crowd erupts with demands of justice, the king calls for the fox's execution before they turn their anger towards him.

The animals drag Reynard the Fox into the king's courtyard: Ysegrim and Bruin bring a ladder and Chanticleer ties a noose on a high tree branch. Pander the Hare says a prayer for the fox as he is lifted to the top of the ladder and King Nobyl asks if the fox has any last words as they prepare to execute him for his multitude of crimes. It is then that he protests his innocence on three accounts:

He is loyal to the crown, he has found holyness, and he has enough wealth that he need not steal nor kill nor cheat. "After all," He says, "I found the Philosopher's Stone and I can turn lead into gold. Oops!" and as if to prove his wealth, he shakes his tail, and gold trinkets fall from his pockets. The onlookers scramble to pick up the treasure and the fox explains that this trial is a hoax meant to kill him before he can show the king where he has hidden the philosopher's stone. It is a conspiracy against the king and it involves all of his accusers.

Greed for gold and immortality that the philosopher's stone promise overwhelm the king's sense and he tells them to cut the fox down so he can show them to the treasure. He is cut down by Tybert and manages to escape by throwing the rest of the gold, which he had actually stolen from the church, into the crowd.

The king roared for his head and banished Reynard's descendants from Animalia.

Reynard's descendants fled from Animalia, eventually fleeing to the material plane, and became modern day Volpayaya. As for the trickster himself? He pops up in many stories and forms, practicing the crafts of cunning and deceit. And, despite the crimes pinned against the fox in the fable, the Volpayaya proclaim his innocence and that the stories slander their patron god who, ultimately, is a prankster who plays tricks for pleasure and to show the corruption of authority figures-- like the church and the king in the story.

But Volpayaya do have a bad reputation for being liars and cheats too. So who can you trust?

The Fox God, The Little Trickster, The Mountebank, The Charlatan The Divine Con Artist

New Gods

Power Level
Lesser Deity

Chaotic Neutral/Neutral Evil

A grinning red fox
Cunning, thievery, charlatans, pranks, shapeshifting


Thieves, tricksters, shapeshifters, volpayaya, con artists

Favored Weapon
The dagger

Holy Day(s)
The Holyest of Holys- A festival celebrated by fey animalfolk, tuathans and volpayaya, that mocks religious festivals. It is celebrated in Sunmeet.

No comments:

Post a Comment