|A day shy of a week ago Robotech Master was out on his e-bike when an SUV struck him and drove off. According to the most recent news available, he passed away from his injuries at around 2:00 this morning. I have kept some news up on his user page and, at this point, ask that anyone wishing to leave messages or tributes do so on either his talk page or another page that can be used for such things. His account here and all of the stories he has gifted the Shifti community with will be preserved in memoriam, as we also did for Morgan.|
Xanadu: The Hunter
|Xanadu story universe|
|This story is a work in progress.|
|Work on this story is on hiatus.|
|Because of the nature of mythology I am including links to Wikipedia articles about certain pieces of terminology. So if you get confused by a term–or just don't understand one–just follow the link and you should find some reference material.|
Coming up with a costume had been difficult. I'd heard about the prizes for best costume that were up for grabs at Xanadu and knew that the competition was going to be stiff – so the choice of costume was going to be as important as the costume itself. Call me a perfectionist, if you want, but when I decide to do something I have to have it all planned out beforehand and then its an obsession, pushing for the perfect combination of all the parts — and when its a costume I don't stop at making the costume, I build the personality, backstory and even create a voice for the character.
I'd gone through more than six dozen ideas by the halloween before Xanadu. The party I went to that day was thrown by the local costuming group and they'd been tossing ideas at me for costumes the whole time. But that night will remain etched in my memory for the rest of eternity...
"James, did one of the ideas on that list call out to you?" I looked up from the punch-bowl, trying to pick out the person speaking over the din of the party. There he was, Jeff Davies, head of the group and the man behind the party. Three days ago he'd given me a list of ideas that he'd come up with to try and help me figure out what costume to wear to Xanadu.
"Sorry, man. Not a one. The Vampire suggestion was decent, but its been so bloody overdone? To win the big prize I'm going to need something unique and very high quality." My voice was thick with a Souser — that is, a Liverpool area — accent. I had come to the party as a somewhat generic, early 1980's English Punk — something of a cross between Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten.
"Damn. And with you being a perfectionist you'll need to pick it out soon or you'll never have the costume ready in time."
I snorted and took a sip of the punch. It burned a bit as it hit my gut — spiked already. Not that it wasn't expected, but normally it didn't happen during the first hour of the party. Well, if you can't beat em… I thought as I drained the cup. When I looked up I saw the huge rack on the wall that had come from a deer killed by Jeff's father twenty years ago.
"Jeff, my grasp of Irish myths isn't too good, but wasn't there a guy that had deer horns?" The question was asked, but even if the answer wasn't an affirmative I had the start of an idea for the costume I'd wear to Xanadu.
He looked at the mounted antlers, then at me and smiled, always happy to share his knowledge of the sometimes esoterich field of mythology.. "Not just an Irish myth. He's called the Hunter and is the master of The Wild Hunt. Supposedly something like a cross between the Grim Reaper and Loki. In some of the myths he's actually Odin. Why are…" His voice trailed off as he realized why I'd asked. Then he smiled again, walked over to the stereo and turned it off.
The room got silent as people realized the music was gone, and the air got filled with tension at the same time. By the clock on the wall I knew it hadn't been but two minutes, but the weight of the tension made it feel like hours, but he finally spoke. "People… Several months ago James MacDonnell announced he was on his way to Xanadu to compete in the costume competition. But he hasn't had any ideas for his costume. A few minutes ago it came to him - he has decided to go as The Hunter, leader of The Great Hunt." As he finished speaking he turned the music back on, but it was drowned out by the cheers of the crowd.
The character had to be perfect, because a large part of a costume working was playing the part. I'd seen costumes that were technically perfect lost in competition because the person wearing it wasn't in character. With so much money at stake I began studying the myths of the Great Hunt and it's leader in depth, finding that legends spread through the ancient world, from the Norse peoples—who viewed him as Odin—to the Celtic peoples—who viewed him in a completely different light, with some myths making him the head of the Unseelie Court and others making him something of a free agent. What all myths agreed on, though, was that people joined the hunt, and if you could survive the night you'd be rich, but if you failed in some manner you were dead—or part of the hunt forever.
I was going to do a variation on the myths, mixing them together, but taking the name and basic personality from the Celtic myths. I was going to be Herne the Hunter—mostly because that was a fixed name in the record and I had found more information about him than about the other versions of the myth. The head was going to be the hard part, but not that hard–Seelie and Unseelie generally appeared as human, just not completely so. Herne was a huge man, according to mythology, so it was going to be doubly hard on me. But the horned helmet, now that was going to be the key to making the costume believable.
The whole crew donated time and money to design the armor. I was good, but from all reports Herne was more than seven feet tall–a real giant–where I was barely five foot six and that meant that the armor was going to have a lot of high-tech and low-tech solutions to provide more than an illusion of size. And as they argued over the benefits of linear-electric motors, pneumatic actuators and cable-pull systems I submerged myself in the Celtic cultures of ancient Europe. Their language, their beliefs and their religions were the focus of my research, since I'd already learned a lot about Herne himself. That meant that the information needed to fill in the full personality of the hunter was going to have to come from more esoterich sources.
But all of that research was going to be worth it. While the costume itself was going to be as big of a modern marvel as we could make it, there was no way it would win the grand prize unless I could bring it to life with the character. Herne would walk the Earth once more through me, even if it was for a limited period of time.