As kids moving towards adolescence, young Billobi and best friend Tristan often had their former heroes replaced for new, more exciting sources of inspiration - like fifteen year old Donnchadh Maclure.
Donnchadh was the only child of the Maclures, a renowned butcher family specialized in rare meat from overseas. Hard work and superb quality had made them quite famous not only in Badgerbrough, but throughout the country. Their son, on the other hand, had no interest in pursuing his parents business. As a matter of fact, he had no real interests besides sleeping and gambling - school was naturally out of the question. This gave him the nickname of Deadfoot, after his slow, indolent way of walking.
Tristan and Billobi used to follow him around town (as often as they dared to skip classes); at first, sneaking and hiding, peeking around corners, awing at a distance, but after a while they noticed that Donnchadh didn't really bother, so they started walking next to him, talking about life and school. It didn't really matter that their hero didn't respond or participate in their discussions; just walking next to him was good enough.
Donnchadh's gambling habits had gotten him tangled up in an unfriendly circle of "friends", mostly people demanding money from him. Billobi and Tristan witnessed quite a few occasions where people with scars and bad intentions dragged Donnchadh into dark alleys and asked him about overdue debts with their fists - e.g. times when school seemed like a perfect, if not better, alternative.
Time passed, and after a couple of months this monotonous lifestyle started to bore both Billobi and Tristan. They agreed to spend one last day with Donnchadh, before looking for more exciting things to follow.
Said and done, this day played out as all of the other days, almost. Donnchadh went to the park and sat there for two hours, after which he went to the docks and sat there for two hours (falling asleep four times, according to Tristan). At last, he went up and started walking home, much to Tristan and Billobi's disappointment.
Halfway home, crossing a particular notorious street, a nasty looking bully popped up from nowhere and hit Donnchadh right over the nose, knocking him to the ground. The bully started raving about unpaid debts (as usual) and pulled out a thin knife. A second later, it was buried deep inside Donnchadh's chest, probably right through his heart. A muffled sound slipped through his lips, after which he went completely silent.
The bully pulled out the knife, pointed it at the two friends and whispered: "You've seen nothin'!" He then took all valuables he could find on Donnchadh's body, except for a beautiful, golden ring worn on the middle finger. Reaching for it at first, he suddenly pulled back; he grinned badly, as if he felt nauseated just by the looks of it. He went up and ran away.
Billobi and Tristan stood there scared, and had unconsciously reached for the other's hand. Hand in hand they walked up to the body of Donnchadh, uncertain what to do. Just about then, Donnchadh rose up from the ground, gasping for air as if coming up from under water.
He sat there, breathing heavily, and said without looking at the boys: "I think all three of us learned a lesson here today, yes?"
The boys nodded slowly, mute from being scared to death twice in a day. School sure felt tempting now...
"Yes, a very good lesson indeed", Donnchadh continued with a smile. He looked at the boys while holding up his hand: "Thank the gods for magical rings!"
Many, many years later, Billobi happened to stumble upon Donnchadh Maclure's obituary in Badgerbrough's local newspaper. He had died in his bed from a narrow but deep wound in his chest, that apparently had appeared out of nowhere.
A ring of postponement does almost exactly what it says it does; it postpones one physical wound for an unknown period of time. No one can for certain say what kind of wound the ring will postpone, or for how long; that's a decision left for the ring to take. But the more severe the wound, the more likely it is that the ring will postpone it.
After the right amount of time has passed, the postponed wound inside the ring will be brought back to its wearer.
The ring will only postpone a wound if currently worn on a finger. A ring that's been triggered (e.g. carries a postponed wound) can't be taken off, and will plant a uncomfortable feeling in anyone who tries to take it.
Chopping off one's finger will not only make the postponed wound come back immediately - it will probably hurt as well.
The 2016 Cartographic Review!
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