Noh

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Small Book.pngThe following article is a /tg/ related story or fanfic. Should you continue, expect to find tl;dr and an occasional amount of awesome.
Noh 4.png

Noh is an adorable young girl with a magical rapier and chainmail shirt. The character originates from a story from a DM about how his players approached a puzzling challenge in a rather unorthodox manner, and found so much resonance with /tg/ that much drawfaggotry was inspired and many fa/tg/uys include references to or variations on the character in their own games. She is named for one of her catchphrases, which is simply "No."

The Story of Noh[edit]

My group was in a dungeon where, unbeknown to them, they were being tested by the spiritual forces that resided within, in order to see if they were worthy of... bla bla bla, the same old shtick.

They find a secret door, and inside is a pedestal with a highly ornate and obviously magical rapier (which two of the characters used), resting upon a similarly ornate/magical chain shirt that the two other characters used.

Next to them, a young girl, with a blank expression, simply requests, "Please do not take these items." Of course, my players didn't want to pass up such great items, but they knew that something bad would happen if they just took them, they decided they needed more information before they could make a decision. Pretty standard method of action. And, the only way they could get more information was from the girl.

I didn't want to spoil everything, and more importantly I wanted this to just be a short test so we could go on to the next part. Also, since she was just the physical manifestation of a minor spiritual entity, she didn't need to do any more than fulfill her task as a test giver. So, I decided she would be like a NPC from a video game. She would only respond with "No" or, if a negative answer would confuse the players or the players decided to get crafty and ask something like "Can we NOT take these items?", she would simply reply "Please do not take these items."

The conversation was pretty much:
P1: Can you tell us about these items?
DM: No.
P2: Can we ask your name?"
DM: No.
P1: What are you doing here?
DM: No.
P3: Are these items important to you?
DM: Please do not take these items.

The players kept at it for a few minutes, until the bard decided to use a perform check to "Awaken her dormant soul etc." and rolled a 19. As such, I decided I might as well say that she shed a single tear.

At this point, my players could no longer stand it. And they ended up doing something I was completely unprepared for.

One of them scooped her up, put her on his shoulder, and decided they were going to take her. They quickly began to argue as to which one of them was going to carry her, completely ignoring the amazing magical items less than an arm's reach away, and talking about how she was the cutest thing in the entire world. They decided to name her "Noh", since it was what she replied when asked her name.

They then carried her through the dungeon, risking themselves many times in order to keep/protect her. After the third time she slowly walked back towards the items when she was left alone during a battle (accompanied each time with each player screaming her name), they decided to go back, put the items on her, and then continue carrying her around.

I had added this whole test as a bit of a side thing, and didn't know what to do. At the completion of the whole thing, their reward was to have a spirit bound to one of their magic items, corresponding with what virtues they exhibited the most through out the dungeon. As a bit of a side bonus (since she was practically a construct anyway), I decided that a spirit would also be bound to Noh, but the complete binding would take some time, and that the players would be able to take her out of the dungeon. My players were so happy, and they concluded that along with the rest of the adventure (which they seemed to enjoy), this was the best session they've had in years.

I feel bad.

Writefaggotry[edit]

Some chaps felt inspired to write their own extensions to Noh's story, which can be found below.

Good End[edit]

Sunlight filtering through a canopy of leaves, a young girl resting beneath the trees.

She just lay there thinking... thinking. Another new experience. She had more thoughts in her head now than she’d ever imagined before... mostly because she didn’t have much of one up until now, she thought. So many things to see, to think about, to experience.. it was almost overwhelming at times. This must be the way they feel all the time! she thought. All these thoughts, ideas, decisions- and she knew she barely understood anything yet! Having a self is more difficult than she thought... or would have thought, she guessed, if she did any thinking back then.

It was so... different. For so long, all she knew was one room, a pedestal, two items. Her purpose was to be a test, nothing more. She fulfilled her function with no concept of time, no idea of want, not a thought, not a care, not a need; a construct like her had no need of such things.

So then, why?

She was barely aware when it happened, as she was taken away. The feeling of strong arms lifting her, carrying her. The familiar pedestal and its contents dwindling away in the dark. She had struggled weakly, then; her nature forbade her from leaving her charge, her purpose. But then, they took her back, gave her the items- her own charge! Gave them to her!-and took her, and them, along. For the first time, in her whole existence, she felt something, a sense of shock, mixed with fear, mixed with wonder.

Since then, things were... different. There must be another word, she decided, but she must not know it yet. So much happened, and in such a short time. Time. Another new concept. Every day, she understood something more. Suddenly, there was more than a dark room, a single task; suddenly she was more than a test, more than a simple construct. They freed her from her duty, gave her things to call her own.

She even had a name...

It was all so confusing. She had learned so much, in the past few months, but still understood so little. What was she to do? Her purpose was already gone, the items taken from their resting place, even if she was the one who took them. Now, she could think, could feel, but for what? For-

“Noh! Hey, Noh!”

Noh looked up, across the clearing, to where the rest of them stood. A small group, ragged adventurers all of them, packing up gear into well-used packs. To some, they would be an unwelcome or unpleasant sight, but to Noh, they seemed to be the smartest and the strongest and the bravest...

“Come on, Noh, break’s over, we’re moving on!” one of them called.

Noh jumped to her feet. Thinking was nice, she decided, but you can’t just sit and think forever. After all, there are plenty of places yet to see, things yet to learn, new things to think about. So, with a small smile on her face, she ran over to join the group, to join her... her...

Family?

Yes. That was the word, she thought. Family. Another new thing she’d gained since that day. Perhaps there was a better word, she thought, to describe her feeling, but for now, as she joined them once again, that was enough.

Bad End[edit]

And as the pain in his body escalates, he turns to his 'daughter'... the little girl with a blank stare whom he just saved from certain death.

Noh looks at the wounded warrior, curious and seemingly looking for an emotion. The warrior coughs up blood, further increasing the party's anxiety as they look upon him.

"Noh... I'm so glad you're safe. Do not cry for me, for this is another facet of life you must learn." He reels in agony as he speaks. "Before I go, I want you to know that I, no WE love you. You are our daughter, our family."

Noh's gaze pierces the warrior deeply, taking him great amounts of strength to hold his tears back. "Alas... this is the end. Noh... can you smile for me...?"

The little girl looks around, confused and troubled. She then looks straight at the poor warrior and says

"Please don't take the items."

He then died painfully.

Best End[edit]

"Well, Noh, it's been a long year, hasn't it?"

Noh nodded, and Kharazon Malakath, the Lichlord once feared through all four corners of the world, ruffled her hair. He was rather glad they'd taught her nonverbal responses, when even the best magic they could buy couldn't teach her new words.

"I know you have a hard time remembering dates..."

"No."

"Yes you do, and we both know it. However, this is a very special day, Noh. Do you know why?"

"No?" Inflection, another thing she'd had to learn.

"Just take my hand, and trust me." He hated to do this, to use his powers on her, but he couldn't have her knowing what she was getting into. The second their hands touched, he funneled dark power into her, stealing her sight...


Thomas Lightfoot, the Realm's Rogue, was having far better success with his underworld contacts.

"So this will work, guaranteed, as long as the target knows what it does?"

The 'street rat' he was chatting with was far from it, but they both knew to keep up appearances. In truth he was a Mercane, an interplanar merchant that always had whatever you needed. "Oh, yes sir! I bet my savings on this working exactly as advertised. Do you need anything else?"

"No, this will do nicely..." The mercane took a step back, seeing the look on Thomas' face.

A few seconds later, Thomas walked out of the alley alone, whistling to himself and running his fingers over his new prize. Behind him, under a pile of trash, lay the Mercane.

All through the Outer Planes, favors were being called in. Something momentous was going to happen soon, and no-one wanted to be caught unprepared. Asmodeus, as was his habit, paced circles around his dark throne while he thought.

"I can't afford to bungle this. It would simultaneously make the girl mine, turn the tide of the Blood War thanks to favors gained, and force those damned Good-gods to admit my power. Ranbar! Go fetch me..."

Pelor was in a panic. He'd known that it was the right thing to place that thing in Asmodeus' care at the time, but he'd had no clue how much power it would give him. He called for a meeting of the Gods; they HAD to get it back before tonight!


Brightsword Darkbane, Champion of Pelor and Light of the Sun, held his blade to the corrupt merchant's throat. While he lived, such injustice would not stand.

"What do you mean you're out of Elven Sweet Bread?!" He demanded. "Do you have any idea how important today is?"

The merchant made an open-palm gesture, knees knocking together. "I can have some for you, maybe, next week if I hurry. Elves don't rush, sir, I'm sorry."

"Fine, maybe across the way..." Lightbringer, the sword that had retaken an entire Circle of the Hells, was sheathed again, and the great paladin started out.

"Can I ask you what this is for, sir? Just simple curiosity, you understand."


Everything was in readiness. The call had gone out through the Realms, and it had been answered several times over. The ones that sent it out knew what sort of a group they were assembling, but it was the only way to make this work.

Noh didn't know what was going on, just that one of her fathers had taken her hand and the world had gone away. Any attempt to find out what was going on brought 'ssh'-ing, which reminded her somehow of something...far back. Before the cave, maybe? She entered a new room, and felt the cold, bony hand on her shoulder, somehow still paternal.


Brightsword Darkbane was a patient man. He tried very carefully to remember this, at the sixth bakery in town. "So...you're saying..."

"Yes, sir. The last of our Elven Sweet Bread got mice-nibbled, and since there's been no call for it, we haven't replaced it."

"THERE'S CALL NOW, DAMMIT! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT TODAY IS?!" His hand twitched for his sword, and only his oaths to the church and to his god saved the bakery that day.

"S-Sir, I can't help you! It doesn't matter what you do to me, it just isn't here!"

"Dammit! There has to be someone in this city willing to sell it! I CAN'T let her down!"

"..."


Thomas walked along again, whistling and flipping his new treasure in the air, when something happened that made even him stop and take notice. One of the Celestial Host appeared before him in a brilliant corona of light, its mere presence enough to sent the common folk to their knees.

"Oh, hey Cevis."

"Thomas, I've told you not to be so informal. I come before you today to give you a proposal."

"What's that?" Wasn't every day Heaven came to you, after all. Best to at least hear them out.

"At the...event you have planned, Asmodeus will appear. He's going to make a very tempting offer to your young charge. If you can get her to say no to it-"

"Not that hard."

"Har har. If you can get her to REJECT it, I will guarantee both your soul and hers go to Heaven and skip the petitioner phase of development. I don't expect you to say yes right now, but..."

"Got 'ya. I'll see what I can do."


Asmodeus paced down his domain, carefully allowing every soul that saw him just enough hope to make his walk double as a tasty treat. Among the souls, he found the one in particular he needed, ignoring the rotten hands of the greedy grasping to take one last coin. "You." He said, pulling it from the eternal muck. "You may give your daughter one last service."


Noh was indicated to sit down on something, and there were a few shuffling sounds around her and the muffled pop of dozens of teleports. Suddenly, sight was returned to her, and she saw that she was sitting at a table in their dining room, looking out at her fathers and everyone who she'd helped save. "SURPRISE!" Went out the cry, then in perfect sync "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear noh! Happy birthday to you!" A particularly dramatic Satyr stepped forward. "And many moooooooore!" Noh looked around, shocked, not sure what to say or do, at all the faces. There was the leader of the Water Genasi tribe they'd saved! And here, the djinn they had freed, in sync with each other as always. A moment's pause, and the table, previously bare, filled up with all sorts of presents in front of you. "Happy birthday! It's been a full year since we found you in that cave, and woke you back up. We'll let you choose whose present to open first!"

Noh looked around, and saw the ambassador from the Heavens, when they had beseeched them for aid against the Fell Beast Densador, trying to hide himself. "Please, do not take these items!" She demanded, pointing at him, and the beautifully wrapped but modest box in front of him.

"Noh, maybe you should choose someone else fi-"

"Items!" She demanded, and Brightblade sighed, heading down the table and picking up the gift, then giving it to her. She set into it with the fervor only a greedy child can, and found under the paper a copy of 'prayers for the mute' as penned by one Homer E. Oneous.

"The bosses insisted! I wanted to get her a necklace." It's a rare thing, seeing an angel pouting, but he was.

The Satyrs laughed, sparking a ripple that went around the table at the poor Hound Archon's expense. "I mean it. it was going to always glow." He muttered. "Besides, at least she opened mine." "Please!" Noh pointed at another box, this one held by a halfling princeling who had tried to woo her and only been drawn up into the world-shattering event her parents always stayed involved in.

"Well, nothin' for it but hopin'!" the halfling laughed weakly, pushing the box down the table at her, passed along by a multitude of hands. This time, she opened the box to find tissue paper, and carefully pressed it aside to find a beautifully tailored dress, at her size, with a pattern of white clouds on its blue material. "It'll make 'ya float, so you can be on eye level with everybody else! We use them in negotiations sometimes. You know, to get a leg up?" He waited for laughter, that didn't come, as nobody else thought it was funny and Noh was admiring the material.

It was when Noh was reaching for her third present, the one held by the satyrs, that things became interesting. All of the lights dimmed,flickering for just a second, and then standing at the foot of the table was a guest that nobody invited: Asmodeus, Lord of the Ninth and ruler of the Hells. Everyone was instantly ready for an attack, but he stayed still, letting them realize that he was unarmed and not trying to be a threat. "Noh...oh, sweet aberration of fate, glorious little girl whose speech has been shattered...I come offering you a proposal."

That was when they realized, as he had intended, that Asmodeus wasn't alone. "A certain soul wound up in my possession...you might recognize him. I rather hope that you do." An old man stared vacantly into the distance, floating in the manner of ghosts, next to the Hell-Lord. "I'm willing to offer you his soul back, Noh, and a return of all of your speech, if no-one here ever attacks my home again. What do you say?"

"Well? What do you say? Your father, and your speech, for my safety..."

Thomas realized precisely what was going on, as he looked over everyone who was assembled. Noh had wanted nothing more, for months, than to be able to talk again. He knew that if something didn't happen, she would accept that offer, and doom everyone there. Except...

"Noh...before you answer him, why don't you open this?" He handed her his present, smiling paternally, and Asmodeus' expression soured. It grew even worse when the box was opened and a golden medallion carefully carved in her likeness was revealed, its magic obvious to all. "Put it on!"

She did, curious, and he whispered something into her ear. Suddenly, clearly, in the mind of everyone there came the words <Like this, Daddy?>

"Yes, Noh. Just like that."

"Please, do not take these items!" She was overjoyed at what she'd just gotten, pulling the roguish man into a hug

Once Thomas managed to extricate himself, the group turned as one to face Asmodeus, who was looking furious and vengeful. The Ruler of the Hells raised his finger, as though to curse Noh, and...

<GO AWAY!> The shout echoed through everyone's mind, even some of those that weren't even in the room, and froze him in place for a moment.

"YOU dare order ME, the great..."

"I SAID GO AWAY! You're mean!"

"The great...Asmodeus..."

"I'd suggest doing what she says." responded Heaven's messenger, leaning on him with a sizzling sound and the smell of burnt ozone. "I don't think you can take all of us."

"FINE! I won't forget this, child!" And he, and her father's soul, dipped back through the floor and to their home. All that was left was a promise. "I shall see every one of you PERSONALLY flayed!"

"Well, that was an interesting diversion." said the lich-lord to Noh's right, trying to get things jovial again. "Why don't you open mine next?"

"Please do not take these items?"

"The amulet, Noh."

"Oh, right, sorry. I forgot. What is it, Daddy?"

"Well, open it and find out!"

She promptly did, to find a swirling vortex of magic, seeming to be a gate to another world. Confused, she looked back, seeing her adopted father nod, and reached into it. From it came...well...Flare, seeming to have been caught asleep and tied up by animate ropes that spewed from the vortex a moment later, left hanging from a convenient hook on the ceiling. It was rather obvious who had encountered her before, as every single one of them had looks of disgust. This changed to malicious joy when one word was said:

"Pinata."

Once everyone was finished beating up the 'innocent' dragon, they reassembled at the table, a few in different positions and a few in the same. Noh, of course,was at the head of the table,

"Okay, Noh, last present you're opening tonight. Some of us have to go and save the world tomorrow, and we need our sleep, and we still have to have the cake!" At the mention of cake, the Paladin cringed and shook his head a little, looking desperate to not admit his failure.

"Please, do not take THESE items!" She said, pointing to the druids, who snickered among themselves and pushed the box down the table. When it got to Noh, she tore into it with oblivion, finding a simple wooden box under the paper, with a hinged door on the top. She opened it, looked within, and immediately closed it with a deep blush. "No?!"

"For when you get a little older. I'm sure your parents will understand." The two druids there, a man and a woman, laughed among themselves while everyone else shared uneasy glances. "Right!" The rasping voice of the lichlord came. "Cake. and drinks. Sir Darkbane, you managed to find the sweetbread cake for her?"

Sir Brightsword Darkbane dipped his head in shame. "I tried. Everywhere in town was sold out, it seemed, and I didn't have time to check anywhere else..." An uncomfortable silence fell over the room at that, with even the usually-cheerful satyr-druids and the halfling prince being unable to find anything to say. There was no cake. how could the party move on without cake?

Fortunately, such a large group wasn't without its talents.

"I suppose I could summon some, if nobody else can." Said the dragon-woman from before, earning surprised looks and murmurs.

"Isn't this awfully convenient?" whispered Thomas.

"Isn't that how mages always are?" whispered Brightsword, relieved. "Certainly, I see no problem with summoned cake, as long as it tastes the same. Summon away!"

A wave of her hand and a whisper of power, and a large cake appeared in the center of the table, pushing presents aside and leaving the gift-givers scrambling to grab them. Everyone stared in admiration for a moment...

and then from the center of the cake popped a rather dashing warforged...door? "I just got back from a stint in a hallway, so I'm sorry if my jokes are a bit RUSTY!"

"ROOD!" Okay, I seriously need sleep soon, so I'm going to pull this forward a bit.

Everyone enjoyed the party from there - well, once Rood was convinced to leave. He was last seen in the possession of one of Thomas' skeleton keys.

The less said there the better.

but over time, the party dwindled, as a good party always does, everyone taking their own route home either magical or non. After the party was done, only the parents and Noh were left, as well as all of her presents. "You know, it's really too bad."

"What's that, Daddy?"

"We're going to have to sell a lot of this to afford besieging hell and getting your father back. But you can finally have a real life, like a normal girl."

"D-Daddies?" Noh looked around, between the three smiling faces, sniffling a little. <But...I don't want to lose you!>

"We'll still be here, Noh! You just deserve to have some real family."

"Besides." Kharazon Malakath grinned, a gaunt thing. "What sort of adventurers go around endangering a young girl every day? People might start thinking we were Evil!"

"Th...Thank you for not taking these items."

Everyone but Noh looked shocked as she hugged them, crying a little.

THE END



Noh More Loki[edit]

And in the end, Noh and her items were returned to her mother, the goddess Idun. Which was a good thing, as there's a story to that, too. After all, once she wasn't Noh.

One day, Bragi and Idun, as husbands and wives often do wanted to spend some time together- alone. So Bragi gave his sword and mail to his daughter, and Idun her basket that she used to carry the golden apples that keep the Norse gods ever-young- and they went to a bower to do such things as any man who desired his wife would do.

Loki saw this and took the form of a raven and flew down to Noh, cawing and clawing at the basket of apples. The little girl cried out "No! Please, do not take these things!" as the Loki-raven snatched at Idun's prize, carrying away two apples and destroying the rest. To insure that his theft would never be told of, Loki cursed the child with a raven's voice-repeating, repeating the last thing she had said over and over again in a harsh tongue. And a raven's desire that she would want only the shiny things she had, and none would take them from her.

Bragi and Idun came back from their pleasures, and found their daughter sitting in the clearing, bits of apple and torn basket scattered about, clutching her father's armor and sword with a fierce glitter in her eye that no child should have.

"No! No! NO!" she cried when they tried to approach, and when Bragi came to reclaim his arms, she first said "Please, DO not take these items!". Of course, her father did and the curse made her like a wild thing, and she bit at her father's hand, dragging his sword and mail into the forest, into a hole in a tree. But that tree was in truth a branch of the World Tree, Yggdrasil and the godling-child tumbled into the depths with her prize, lost in the darkness.

Her parents wept for while they had been in each other's arms, their child had been struck mad and lost! Idun tore her hair and neglected her groves, and bearded Bragi spent each day hunting for his wildling child, and every night would only play dirges and sorrowful tunes fit only for mourning in the halls of the gods, for he searched all of the heavens, he did not find the little hole that had delivered his child to Midgard.

Even trickster Loki, who knew his guilt and would not tell did but one thing- his crime so great, a part of his curse rebounded. He could not cast off the raven's skin,and since he had given the raven's voice to poor Noh, he had none of his own. Every bird in heaven and earth knew that a bird with no voice was accursed indeed, and Loki was driven from every home, every perch or nest until he stole into Odin's hall to try and hide in the rookery where the All-Father granted Huginn and Muginn a home as fit for a bird as the hall of the greatest lord would be unto men.

Now, Odin's ravens are wiser than any bird and many men, and they figured out what beggar had snuck into their perch and pecked him half-bald until Loki found himself claws-up on the ground in front of Odin's throne, with one giant black bird standing on each wing.

Odin, who has drunk the mead of wisdom and knows more than any of the other gods (and indeed, far more than a giant-kin trickster) was not fooled by Loki's plucked form, and quickly divined what the trickster had done. He sent Loki-Raven with a message tied to his leg to the hall of Skadi and Uller, telling of Loki's crime and bidding them find the lost child- but not that the raven was Loki.

Skadi read the message and grew filled with wrath, for no mother hates anything more than to see a daughter ill-used, and the jotun are often found to be quick to a terrible anger. She seized the messenger and smashed the raven Once! Twice! against her stone table and threw him out a window, then went to seek out the daughter of Bragi and Idun.

Loki would lay senseless in a snowbank for two fortnights, and so cold that all his feathers would turn white- when a true raven found Loki and took the battered raven to his nest, where the skin-trader would find himself mothering a clutch of eggs soon after! This is where white ravens come from, and why white ravens are always the greatest of tricksters- for they remember their parent Loki, and do always to please him.

Skadi is cunning in the ways of hunting and tracking that none, even a father and mother so desperate could equal. She found the child's trail and the hole and the deep dark below, where the wind spoke of Midgard and the mountains. Down Bifrost she ran, with Uller behind her and across the hills and valleys she hunted, telling every village and hovel to seek the child. But the raven-child, with a raven's cunning had hidden herself and her prizes deep beneath the earth, where Skadi's eyes would not find them. Many dark things were around her in the tunnels and caves, but they knew the smell of Loki, and would not touch her.

A winter passed, and Skadi returned to Asgard with her husband, where they would spend every day peering down with eyes that eagles would pluck out their own to have, but Idun wept and Bragi howled and their grief left even the other gods with ragged beards and sunken eyes, for no creature could hear Bragi's music so long and not grieve themselves.

Now, mortals only knew that the gods were sad, and any man knows that only great deeds will please them- so it was that in every village, the children of Midgard tried in their own ways to do such, for it was feared that such sadness was in truth an omen of the Ragnarok by the mortal folk. Some went and made war, others roamed the lands and one trio blessed by fate found their ways into the caves where the raven-child laired.

Night-beasts clawed at their mail, but their axes and swords were true and a trail of blood and glory marked their descent into a den of worms and worse. Behind the two walked a skald, who sang and played his harp as they traveled- and unknowing, lulled or scared far worse than mere worms, for Loki's curses drew fell things about the daughter to bask in it's power. Finally, they came to a black cave, hidden behind a stone placed so well, even a dwarf should not have found what laid behind it. But the bard's song reminded something in the child of her father, and she scraped her foot upon the stone and the heroes in turn moved it and found her.

The two warriors saw Bragi's mail and sword and wondered at how a child would have such godly gifts, but the skald (who surely was blessed with some of Odin's own wisdom) consuled them to take care.

They asked about the mail of shining silver and the gold-crafted sword.

"NO!" she croaked in her raven's tongue.

Fearing they had offended her, they asked her name.

"No..." she spoke, more in a harsh whisper than a croak. For not having seen mother or father, man or child in so long, even under her curse she was glad to know company.

What are you doing here, they asked, confused- for even in her dirt and filth, her dress marked her as easily a child of great parents, perhaps a jarl or merchant-prince.

But when she tried to answer, Loki's curse only allowed a sad "No..." to trickle out of the corner of her lips. The heroes thought that the poor child had been laid prison here by some wicked creature- perhaps the beasts they had slain - and asked of the armor and sword. Were they your father's? Some ransom?

"PLEASE, do not take these items!" she cried- though behind the words was a plea of another kind. Thinking her distraught, the skald sat down and pulled free his harp, playing lullaby's and bright songs that made the dank cave seem almost a warm home and moved the child so much that a single tear found it's way past the curse, filled with memories of a mother's lap and a father's harp.

No man worthy of the name would leave such a child there, and they took the girl and placed her on the shoulder of the skald, and went to escape the place. Not wanting to see their prize leave, a plague of monsters assailed the two warriors and the skald- revenants of the unburied dead, shadows and hungry worms as big as three men- and when they fought, the raven's curse would grip the child they called "Noh" and she would run back to her father's things and would not leave them.

Once, twice Noh would flee back to her cave, and never let the heroes touch them.

"She is a warrior, and would not leave this place without looking like one" said one of the warriors.

"Then she will walk out as a warrior" said the other, and the two bound Bragi's mail to her with lengths of leather, and bound the scabbard of his sword to her back, and the four walked the long road to the surface armed and armored as great heroes should be into a night filled with stars, fading into morning.

And as they did, Skadi finally saw her quarry and raised a great shout, bidding Heimdall to lower Bifrost. Now, any mortal, no matter how brave he be would be set aback by the sight of a she-giant running down a rainbow from the heavens, pell-mell and soon followed by not only Uller, but Heimdall himself. But these are heroes, and they only did take one step back before Skadi came upon them, demanding the child- and brave they were to defy her, because no giant would kidnap their little girl!

Skadi, short-tempered but unwilling to risk her quarry's safety wound her hunting-horn of ash and wyrm-horn, and Bragi and Uller answered, armed and terrible as only the gods can be. Loki, white-winged heard the horn and knew what had happened, and flew down from Asgard behind them, perching on a tree to watch.

Gods and heroes traded words, and words grew like mountains with thunder striking between them- for the heroes cared greatly for their child, and would not abandon her even to those who claimed to be her parents for what parent would leave their little girl in such a foul place? Noh looked back and forth, ever more fearful "No!" "No!" drowned by the voices around her until she spied Loki-Raven, perched and thinking to himself that a quick fight would end all of his problems.

And she picked up a rock and hurled it with all of her might- and being the child of two gods, that is no small bit of might indeed, and Loki deserved it. Senseless, the white bird dropped to the ground, and little Noh pounded it with her fists as the gods and heroes looked on with astonishment. With a puff of yellow smoke, BOOM! they found a little girl punching a stunned Loki, finally in his own skin again as little Noh did her best to start taking it off with her father's sword.

Bragi, realizing what had happened rushed to his daughter and took her into his arms, weeping- and Skadi nearly killed Loki where he lay, but Uller held back her arm and prevented it. From that day, Skadi hated Loki like few others, and when the time came, was delighted to place a bowl of poison over Loki's head when he is punished for the slaying of Baldur, for she knew that if Loki would do such to one child, he would gladly do so to any.

The heroes found themselves taken upwards in the company of Heimdall himself, for the gods wished to know how three men had found themselves a child-goddess not even the most cunning of Asgard's hunters could discover. Loki found himself bound head to foot in chains and deposited in front of Odin's throne (again), where the All-Father compelled him to confess all.

Being true, the heroes and their skald spoke of their journey, with Idun seated beside Odin and little Noh staring wide-eyed from her lap as the skald recited. Pleased as the words rolled out in verse, as is the only proper way to tell such a tale, the gods rewarded them with great gifts. To replace their battered and notched gear, hauberks of shining steel and mighty smith-work were bestowed, with bracelets of gold as thick as a man's thumb clasped about their wrists and helms painted with runes of protection and honor.

To the skald who opened his daughter's heart, Bragi himself gave a harp of ash and apple-wood, with strings made from Idun's own golden hair, and garb dripping with silver and precious stones of many kinds, so much so that it nearly made the poor mortal bend double. And to each was given a sword, made from sky-iron and woven with spells worthy to pierce any foe, if they were not the gods themselves. And three days straight of feasting was had in Valhalla, the Odin-hall, where the einherjar fight and feast to prepare for the end of the world and the final battle.

And what of Noh, you ask? After all the feasts and heroes and curses and caves and such? Noh had beaten most of Loki's curse out along with a good bit of Loki's scalp, and most of the harm was mended with it, Well, one bit of Loki's curse did remain and never could be gotten rid of- little Noh forgot the name Bragi and Idun had given her, and only answered to "Noh", the one the heroes gave her in it's place. But they did not mind, because their daughter was with them again and full of laughter.

The tale of Noh came down with the skald, and men found it to be full of wonder, for few men could be said to know of what the gods did and how things were, and the skald spoke with lips that had touched Odin's mead, and such lips are inspired to legend-telling. The two warriors and the skalds did many other deeds as are worth telling, but they are not Noh's tale, so another will tell them.

And little Noh, who had proven herself quite good at hiding and being found, grew into a fine goddess herself- and Odin put her in charge of doing just that for him, hiding what the gods desired hidden as a test for men, and keeping them until they showed themselves worthy to be revealed. Many runes and secret things did Odin place in Noh's care, and her name would find itself eventually a charm for those who would seek and be the finder.

For when you ask a Norseman if he's lost something, he'll answer you "Noh", and keep looking until he's found it, for everyone knows that if you find Noh and keep to her, you'll have far better than anything else in the end.

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