Mam'marree's Belt - A Heavily Armored Fable
This is the tale of an elf and her armour... but it was no common elf, and no common armour. It happened long ago, far ahead, and miles away from here... but the tale affects us still. And much more than many of us will be willing to admit in public, no doubt.
Many years ago, in a time yet to come, the universe tore. It was a small tearing, of the sort that occurs half a hundred times within a single day. Normally, such a tiny rip would not affect anythingï¿½ but this particular rip caused a single personal shieldbelt from the Atreides residence on the planet Caladan to fall through the ages, tumble through galaxies, and finally end up at the feet of a vain female elven warrior named Mam'marree on the world known as Toril.
The self-centred, well-endowed, curious elf experimented with the device, and soon discovered that it was a strange type of armour. To her amazement, it proved more effective than mithril field plate at deflecting slings, arrows, and overly ardent admirers. Delighted with her lucky find, Mam'marree cast off her confining, unflattering chainmail, hid the shieldbelt beneath a whisper-thin robe, and pranced proudly into battle displaying all her charms.
The shieldbelt was a huge success for the young beauty. It kept her safe in battle, of course, but more importantly, it let her show off her thoroughly impressive body. Male elves soon clamoured for the honour of her hand, bards praised her beauty to the skies... all were literally on her. Many of her fellow female warriors soon became intensely jealous of Mam'marree, and tried copying her style. Not knowing the secret of the shieldbelt, the misguided maidens fought heavily armoured opponents while wearing silks, velvets, or even nothing at all... with disastrous (though predictable) results. Mam'marree's more sensible comrades-in-arms ignored the minimalist look... but to their dismay, few male elves would even deign to look at them. And the men who did only mocked their bulky, unattractive armour, then resumed their worship of Mam'marree.
Mam'marree herself eventually matured, at least physically. She lay down her sword, and took up a husband (a wealthy merchant of a noble house). The couple settled down, and Mam'marree gave birth to two beautiful children - both girls, and both copies of their mother in mind and body. Both were also determined to become scantily-clad warriors, like their famous mother.
Mam'marree was torn... how could she give her shieldbelt to one child and condemn the other to a miserable life of plate and chain? How could she choose which child to give the shieldbelt to? Then, with a flash of revelation: how could she get another shieldbelt? The answer came to her almost instantly: she could make a copy of the original.
She carefully sought out the finest craftsmen in the land: the gnomes, the tinkers, the halflings with their small, clever hands. Eventually, she found one who was ideal for her purposes. He was a gnome, and a genius, but his genius was not the popular type. All who knew him distrusted him. His own people had cast him out, his family was long dead... he lived alone, and was very poor. Mam'marree set up a workshop for the gnome, and poured half her husband's fortune into it.
For six months, she paced in nervous anticipation, never daring to leave the area of the workshop. Her husband thought her mad, her children complained of her absence, but Mam'marree ignored them all and waited. Finally, late one winter night, the craftsman emerged from his workshop. In one hand, he held the original shieldbelt... and in the other, he held a slightly larger device, fashioned of gold and set with precious gems.
With trembling fingers and mounting excitement, the gnome explained his creation. It was, he said hesitantly, not as effective as the original... but he quickly added that its effectiveness could be drastically enhanced with the addition of just a few pieces of conventional armour: some chain here, and strip of metal there, a couple of small metal plates placed just so could enhance the natural power of the device to make it stronger than mithril again. Even more important, he whispered, was the modification he had made to the mechanism within the device. He had simplified it so any skilled artisan could reproduce it. His modifications also hid the purpose of the device: unless the user knew exactly how to enable the forcefield, it would remain inert, and the device would seem like nothing more than a pretty toy.
Mam'marree gazed at the golden belt with a smile of pure happiness on her face. Her children would never have to wear armour again... and neither would their children, or their children's children. An endless future stretched out before her... a future ruled by her sword-wielding, shieldbelt-wearing, beautiful offspring.
An insistent tug at her sleeve interrupted her visions, and she looked down to see the little craftsman. "I have done as you asked, mistress,ï¿½ he said in his small voice. "Where is my reward?"
A sly smile was on the gnome's face, and Mam'marree did not care for the look in his eyes. She reached slowly down to her bodice, watching the gnome's smile spread wider... then with a practised flick of her wrist, the former warrior sent her concealed dagger spinning into the craftsman's left eye, killing him instantly. Lifting her silk skirts high, Mam'marree stepped over the widening pool of blood, picked up both shield belts, and returned to her family.
She arranged for another belt to be made for her second daughter - Mam'marree was unwilling to part with her own. The beautiful, arrogant young elves were presented with their new armour, and the Mam'marree explained the power of the devices. Both of her children swore a solemn vow to never tell anyone except their future daughters about the shieldbelts.
Over the years, the Mam'marree clan grew, spreading across the land. The females of the clan were invariably beautiful, and always armoured with the revealing shieldbelts. There was never a shortage of wealthy men eager to marry them, ensuring the continuance and power of the line.
Eventually, a small group of Mam'marree's distant descendants left Toril through the Astral Plane, taking their shieldbelts with them. From there, the women and their belts migrated to every corner of every universe. They travelled to the distant land of Norrath, and the female elves eventually mingled with all the taller races. The tier'dal, the humans, the fier'dalï¿½ all were infiltrated by the shapely shieldbelted women. Within a few centuries, all of the women in those races were distantly related to Mam'marree, and all wore shieldbelts in place of armour. Of all the light races, only the halflings and dwarves were not affected, since no child of Mam'marree would ever consider marrying one of the little people.
Mam'marree's children settled in other lands as well. From the tormented bowels of the Abyss to the great forests of Krynnï¿½ wherever there were men who loved beauty, the elves of the shieldbelt flourished. To this day, they can be found in every known world. And when new worlds are discovered, the daughters of Mam'marree are the first to explore itï¿½ clad, as always, in a shieldbelt and a chainmail thong.