An Unusual Request

An Unusual Request

"Excuse me, could I ask you to accompany me to Oggok? I need your help to turn in a few items."

I turned around - expecting possibly to see a lost ogre child, hopefully one that did not view me as bite-sized treat. Halfling druids like me are certainly not welcome in Oggok, home of the ogres - unless we're coming to dinner of course, as the appetizer or soup du'jour.

An unusual request from the mysterious half-elf ranger.

What I saw when I turned my head to look up startled me even more - a tall half-elven ranger in full green chainmail named Willam, and from the expression on his face I could tell he was dead serious. "Don't worry, I have made some inroads befriending the guards at the entrance, but not as much with the ogre shamans." Willam explained. "If you would be willing to help me with your abilities to present myself in wolf form, the shamans might be willing to start accepting my offers for assistance as a forager."

Ogres have perfected the slow-roast technique.

Druids can share the ability to turn into the actual form of a wolf, granting the ability to others run even faster than those blessed only with the spirit of the wolf.  There is no greater feeling of freedom than running through the Plains of Karana as one of  its own creatures, surrounded on all sides by the infinite horizons, with powerful clouds rolling overhead across the vast open skies. However, this is also a power to be used cautiously - for example, a barbarian in the frigid tundra will simply look at an approaching wolf as a new fur coat to drape around their necks, regardless of the ability of the wolf to communicate. Willam assured me that ogres have no such appetite for wolves, and in fact were fascinated by talking wolves - also he said that I looked much tastier as a plump halfling.  I sucked in my gut and vainly tried to tighten my lizardscale belt at his comment.

Playing with fire.

Not one to turn down adventure, we set off together for the jungles of Feerrott. Willam approached the entrance to Oggok as himself, while I disguised myself as a wolf as he suggested.   My heart beat a little faster as the two ogre bouncers rushed forward to greet us. "Halfdark, gud to see youz - that new pet?", Bouncer Prud asked, as he reached out his huge hand to pat me on the head, while I did my best to avoid accidently relieving myself.  "Oh yes, you'll have to excuse Pihole here, he's a bit sleepy after finishing off a halfling stuffed with pies." The other bouncer replied, "Tell him to share wid' us next time, Halfdark!", as they all roared in laughter.  I know Willam was only trying to explain my scent, but honestly it did not allay any of my fears.

Playing fetch with the ogres inside Oggok.

Once inside Oggok, I turned Willam into a wolf and he left me near the entrance as he ventured deep into the heart of the city to talk with the shamans.  At first I stayed as far as possible from the ogres guarding the entrance, but slowly I ventured closer. Bouncer Skon suddenly threw an object at me, which I instinctively leapt up to catch - I retrieved it for him, and he patted me and smiled. We did this several times, and I discovered that ogres are actually quite playful behind their toothless grins, when they're not scowling at you or trying to eat you.

Willam returned in half elf form, just in the nick of time, as I realized I was likely gnawing on the fresh bone of the latest trespasser into the city to be caught.  I noticed he had a fresh meat pie in his hands, a recipe that I had never seen before. "Unfortunately the shamans still don't trust me to forage for them, but I did pick up one of Chef Dooga's freshly baked famous HEHE pie on the way out", Willam said, while he sliced the savory pie for us to share, still piping hot inside.  "Willam, why do all the ogres call you Halfdark?", I asked him as I messily scarfed down the slice with my canine teeth.  He replied non-chalantly, "Oh, it is because I am half Teir'Dal."  I froze immediately.  I had already ingested at least half of the meat pie, and started to worry if I had been used as a pawn, or if I had been poisoned by the half dark-elf, the sworn enemy of the Leatherfoot Raiders of Rivervale, to be delivered as the next platter for these ogres.

Willam, sensing my fear as I had stopped eating, sat down to explain.  He was indeed a half-elf born of human father and dark elf mother, thus earning the scorn of not just one, but both cultures.  Unable to fit in with life in either Qeynos or Neriak, he picked the solitary life of a ranger where he could stay away from civilization for months at a time.  

"For the longest time, I was resentful of who I was.  Others defined me by either on their assumptions of my other half's nature, or what they thought I could never become, solely based on my heritage.  And I bought into those lies, thinking that I could not escape my fate, or amount to anything worthwhile ." Willam stopped to take another bite of the HEHE pie, and continued, "It wasn't until I met these ogres here that I realized that I was given the opportunity to shape others perception of who I really am, through my actions. But I had to realize and accept the cards I was dealt at birth, and use my abilities to earn the trust of others, while learning about their cultures. In realizing this, I've discovered a new richness to living life here in Norrath - but only if you're willing to take that step forward."

I started to nibble at the HEHE meat pie again, reminded of the fun that I had playing with the ogre bouncers earlier once I looked beyond my fears.  "Yes, I guess you're right.  Much like this Ogre meat pie here, the individual ingredients would probably be considered quite rancid and disgusting, inedible by others.  But I can tell Chef Dooga really used her strength to soften up this meat filling, and spent quite some time simmering it in her slow roast, which truly brings out the hearty flavors.  And combined with the crispiness of the flaky crust of baked froglok skin, it really makes for quite the savory experience.  It's not apparent the individual ingredients in this recipe would have any redeeming value at first glance, but it is how they're are prepared, used and combined that matters."

"That is true, my lupine friend.  We are indeed more than the sum of our parts", Willam astutely observed.

I paused for a minute to reflect.  "If that is the case Willam, I would think half-elves would have the advantage, since you are already starting out with double the ingredients."  Willam chuckled at the thought, as we finished the last of the pies.

"One last question - what exactly is HEHE meat?  Sounds kind of funny, like a good laugh", I asked. Willam quickly changed the subject and refilled my cup with ogre swill to divert my attention. Perhaps some things are better left a mystery.

Oggok turned out to a true center for culinary delights.