Winter of Man: Part 1 of 6 [Realms of Pugmire]

Pugmire

Eddy here! The realms of Pugmire actually slightly predate the design of the RPG. Back in 2014 I wrote a short story called “Winter of Man” for an anthology, and the response to it was amazing. If you’re new to Pugmire, this story should give you a sense of the world. It’s a bit outdated — some world details changed to work better as a game world instead of a one-off short story — but about 95% of it is accurate. This six-part story is really where the realms of Pugmire began. I hope you enjoy it!

“It’s been snowing for more than a year,” Yosha Pug said. “I have a manuscript here that explains what we need to do.” She shuffled the books in her paws to get a particular one, and nearly dropped them all onto the keep’s stone floor.

Sister Picassa Collie adjusted her shepherd’s robes to free her paws, and plucked the errant tome from the middle of the young pug’s burden. “Is it this one with the glass screen, my lady?” she asked.

Yosha nodded, her ears bouncing on the side of her head. “Yes, thank you. In there is a legend about the Weather Tower. I think we’ll find something there that will end this long winter.”

Pan Daschund tried to snatch the book out of Picassa’s hand, but she raised it out of the hunter’s reach, touching the glass front of the book with her paw to advance the text. He huffed in annoyance and went back to adjusting his shortbow. “It’s weather, Yosha. You can’t…”

Rex Pyrenees crossed his arms across his massive chest as he stood behind the diminutive hunter. “It’s Lady Yosha to you, old hunter.”

Pan waved a graying paw behind him, dismissing the guardian’s correction. “Old enough to know you can’t just stop weather,” he continued. “It’s… it’s not a thing you stop.”

Picassa looked up from the book, casting a soft glow on her golden fur. “There is a story in here from one of the later ages of Man about how such a tower was used to channel the weather. Different stories from different ages conflict on whether Man predicted it or caused it to happen, but it is powerful.”

Yosha looked for a place to put the pile of books she was carrying. Not finding any space on the large wooden table or the velvet-backed chair, she placed the stack on the floor, where they promptly fell over in a loud crash. She gave a high-pitched yip, and started wagging her curly tail in embarrassment. “The tower isn’t far,” she said. “Just on the other side of the forest.”

“The forest is dangerous territory,” Rex said, rubbing the scars on his muzzle.

“And past the forest is cat territory,” Pan added. “I know the language of the cats, and they have seven different words for ‘betrayal’.”

Rex looked down at Yosha. “You cannot go, my lady. It will be dangerous.”

The pug looked up at the huge guardian, her eyes sad. “I have to. Prince Murra worries that another month of this snow will wipe out our stores of food. We may be at peace with the cats now, but our relationship is not good enough to ask them for more to eat. If there is a cause for this long winter, we have to find it.”

“‘We’? Surely your father did not mean that his daughter should be the one to find it?” Rex asked. “I will go instead.”

Yosha motioned to the books on the floor. “But this is a Man tower, and I know more of the incantations of Man than any other dog in Pugmire. I have to go.”

Picassa touched Rex’s arm. “You know the Code, Rex.”

“Obey the Master,” he said. “But the Code of Man does not forbid me from coming with you.”

Yosha’s tail wagged with pleasure. “I would be honored to have you with me, Guardian Pyrenees.”

Picassa handed the book back to Yosha. “I will come as well.”

Rex turned in surprise. “Sister…?” He left the question hanging in the air.

“What Lady Yosha is too modest to admit is that Pugmire is also low on medicine, and there are many sick dogs here. If there’s a possibility this tower may have some Man-tech medication, it will help immensely.” She brushed the long fur on her face, which always got matted by her robes. “Pan and I will go with you.”

“Oh no,” Pan said, sliding the shortbow over his head to sit across his torso. “I have enough problems with the cats of Korat. I don’t need to be poking my snout into that place anytime soon.”

Picassa frowned. “But the Code…”

“Man-damn your Code,” Pan said.

“Be a Good Dog,” Rex growled, stepping toward the hunter.

“Don’t you quote scripture to me, Rex,” he said, looking up at the hulking guardian. “The cats of Korat aren’t sane. Even other cats avoid them.”
“What do you mean?” Yosha asked, her eyes wide with innocence.

“They’re just rumors, mind you, but there’s one cat noble out there—Zola Mau von Korat. The pariahs around the forest say that he’s a neck… necker…a cat who talks to spirits.”

“Oh!” Yosha yipped in pleased surprise. “A necromancer?”

“Yeah, one of those.”

“I’ve always wanted to meet a necromancer,” Yosha continued. “My father has told me all about…”

“The Good Dogs of Pugmire know the skills of Vinsen Pug and his descendants,” Rex said, still staring at Pan. “I can only assume that a cat who claims such talents is a liar and a fraud.”

“Not necessarily,” Yosha began. “There’s another book here that explains…”

“My lady,” Picassa interrupted. “You must be careful taking the word of pariahs. They were banished from our kingdom for their violations of the Code. They are not Good Dogs.”

Pan snorted. Rex growled again, but Yosha stepped to Pan with wide-eyed innocence. “Master Hunter, you know much about the forest and the lands beyond. I would be honored if you would help us in our journey.”

The hunter looked down at her for a long moment before turning away. “I don’t know.”

“But I’ve heard all about your heroic deeds,” the pug persisted. “Is it true that the teeth you wear as a necklace belonged to the Badger King?”

It was Rex’s turn to snort, but Pan looked back at her with a smile. “You heard about that?”

“Oh yes. One of the minstrels came to court last year and sang about it. I’ve always been a fan of yours, and I don’t think anything as dangerous as a badger will be in the tower.” She sat on her haunches and looked up at the hunter with large brown eyes. “Please?”

“Fine, fine.” He flapped a paw at Yosha. “Just stop looking at me like that, kid.”

“Hooray!” Yosha jumped up and barked with joy. “I have to start packing!” She ran around in circles, grabbing books and papers as she went.