Not all legends emerge from the mists of antiquity. A simple annecdote, something that happened “to a man my friend knows,” can sometimes become a groatin tale.
The term requires a bit of context. Groatin is a vine with a small, tasty purple berry. It’s seldom cultivated, however, because the vine is one of the most vigorous and invasive plants on the islands of Sevrin. Children are admonished not to eat wild groatin berries, since they are almost impossible to distinquish from a toxic look-alike. Since groatin spreads so enthusiastically and is so difficult to erradicate–and may not, in fact, be a true groatin vine–it provides a handy metaphor for swiftly-spreading tales of dubious origin.
Tales of the City Fox are becoming increasingly common on the main island of Sevrin, particularly in the city itself. Most stories deal with a cunning young thief who pilfers curiosities from the museums and private collectors. There is much speculation about the purpose of these thefts, which is not surprising when one considers that many of the items are ancient weapons and long-dead magical devices. There is also considerable debate as to whether or not these thefts actually occurred. City officials deny rumors, and none of the items reputedly stolen have been put up for sale, much to the chagrin of those who make a living on such transactions.
But whether or not he actually exists, the City Fox has become a folk hero, particularly among the younger set. Herb merchants do a brisk business in charil, a plant dye made from a bitter cherry-like fruit and guaranteed to turn a young blade’s hair a rich auburn shade that will last a moon or more. This is an act of defiance as well as a fashion statement, and like many such styles it draws the attention of those who enforce the law and keep order. When something goes missing, any would-be Foxes in the area are likely to be included in the order to “round up the reds.”
Some of the more daring girls have taken to clipping their tresses and dying them red. Most parents of these Vixen sigh and shrug and consider it a stage, but that attitude is changing due to an increasing number of groatin tales that suggest the City Fox might be female.