Cat Caught a Mouse … in a sense.

So, not too long ago I mentioned that my cat caught a mouse and I would post something about that on some later date.  Well, that day is here.  Here we have our two feline frenemies, Roxy and Wyatt.  Roxy, the fawn-colored, Siamese mix, is the focal point of our sorry tale of betrayal and woe today.*

Together in a rare moment of congeniality.

So I was working on something (I forget what) on my laptop, which I took out to the living room.  I have a desk there where I often write or edit while watching old movies or Youtube or whatever with my husband at night.  I got up to go do something and when I came back I found this charming situation.

My poor mouse!

It seems, according to my husband who witnessed the dark deed, Roxy jumped from the couch to a chair to the floor as she often does.  (She’s pretty agile all things considered.)  This time, however, she sort of used the corner of my desk as a springboard from the aforementioned couch to the aforementioned chair, and well, my mouse found itself in the soup, or rather my glass of soy milk.

Good as new along with its trusty back-up friend.

I figured my mouse was a goner.  Besides being in the soy milk, I have knocked it off my desk so many times that I had to put a piece of tape around it to keep the housing from falling apart.  But my husband, who is our resident Household Chief Technology Officer, thought it could be saved.  He dried out the mouse, did various other things to it – both arcane and mundane – and then even put a brand new piece of tape on it.

Much to my delight and amazement my old, soy milk-logged mouse was as good as new.  Heck, better than new, because it was cleaner and now had fresh batteries.

Thanks Roxy!

“You’re welcome, anytime, mortal,” Roxy says.

As you can see, Roxy was very concerned about the mouse situation and one of the/her human running about waving its arms and making high pitched, fluting noises (not chirps) and then running off into the kitchen.  All in a days work for our resident alpha Siamese.

Gold Cat Clip Art

So, quite a bit going on outside of cat-based shenanigans.  I have another book on the way, where some of my poems found a home.  I’ll post that when I get the author copies in the mail.  Also working on my next D&D game, which will be this Saturday, January 25th, 2020, and I visited a couple of local mystic shops here in Santa Cruz where I had a good time with such things as getting a tarot reading done, learning something about using a pendant (or wedding ring on a hunk of hair, perhaps, or whatever) for divination, and so on.

Be well until next time.


* Roxy has quite a vocabulary, ranging from polysyllabic, fluting chirps to the (my personal favorite) deep, echoing howls where if you are going about the house in bare feet you’ll feel the tingle of cat vibrations resonating up through the floorboards.

The Dragon Egg Gazette: Issue I

The Dragon Egg Gazette

Issue 1: January 17, 2020

NB: To anyone wondering what by the Emperor’s left <redacted> this is all about:  Greetings, imperial scum.  I recently started running a D&D game and thought it might be fun to keep track of the public parts of the campaign and my inveterate world building with a sort of in-character “newspaper.”  So The Dragon Egg Gazette is born and now I turn over the reins to that precocious (and maybe a little precious) dragonborn and elf duo, Biri and Thulunil.  


From the Editor’s Desk

Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Dragon Egg Gazette!  My name is Biri of Dragon Egg … of course.  I prefer to be called Wondermist by my friends, and I’m the editor-in-chief.  This newspaper is my required Outside Project for school and I’m really excited about it.

If you would like to contribute an article, please let me know in the comments.  You can also contact us through the email on the About page.  If you contribute articles at least once in awhile, I’ll list you as a contributing editor!  You can leave your letters to the editor in the comments too, and we just might print yours.

To business.

This is a really awful map of The Enchanted Forest.  They should get a cartography teacher so someone can make some decent maps, but for now this will have to do.  Who even knows if it is accurate?  You can click on the map for a much larger version, but I’m not responsible for broken crystal balls!

Yep, here be dragons.

In the next issue we’ll learn a little more about some of the towns and places like The Giant Statue and The Haunted Bridge!


The Dungeonmaster’s Corner

by Ann Wycoff

I just started running a Dungeons & Dragons (5e) game after taking many years off from roleplaying.  So far I am enjoying reading through the new books.  I see they brought player character “backgrounds” back from earlier editions so your alter ego was a tinker, tailor, soldier or spy before he was a protagonist.  The player comes up with, or rolls for, a personality trait, and some other basic stuff like a flaw or an ideal they have.  In return the character gets in-game benefits.

At first I kind of wrinkled my nose a little at all of this.  After all, back when I played I walked to the game up hill both ways in the snow (remember, I’m from Maine and couldn’t cast Fly then) and wouldn’t dream of playing a character with less than ten pages of history and background.  I certainly didn’t need to be bribed with free skills.

Anyway, I thought about it some and had a change of heart.  Now I like the idea.  As a DM I really enjoy world building to the point where I make up stuff that the players never learn about and I know they never will when I make it up.  I also enjoy at least some of the players having ties to the world outside of just “the party.”  I’ve found that there are some players, who I cherish as kindred spirits, who also enjoy a similar style of play.  For the ones that don’t, I have learned over the years not to force things.  Enforcing your play style and preferences on people is bad enough when players do it, but worse still when the perpetrator is the DM.

So what I’m going to do is provide in-game benefits for belonging to certain groups.  If you don’t want the benefits, you can happily ignore the group.  The benefits aren’t so great that your character is completely gimped if he doesn’t have them, though he may be inconvenienced.  That’s cool.  Some people will probably sort of go along halfheartedly with my nonsense to get the benefits while others will find they can tolerate (or even acquire a taste for) a bit more of the kind of thing that keeps my DMing energy levels high.

With that in mind I present the following, which serves as the starting point of the games I’m currently planning on running.  I made no attempt to balance it with the Player’s Handbook backgrounds since everyone has the opportunity to start with this background.

Unicursal hexagram 100 wide

 Dragon Egg Special Arbor Service (SAS) within the Militia

Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Survival.  If you gain these skills from another class, you may substitute one or two other skills.  Athletics, Animal Handling, and Nature are common ones.  If you want something else, make a reasonable justification/case of why your character might have that skill and I’ll say yes.

Tool Proficiencies:  Basic knowledge of Dragon Egg legal code.

Equipment: A good, green uniform cloak, wet and cold weather gear, two badges of office (a green dragon hatching out of an egg).  One is plain for the field, the other fancy for in town.

Notes for Active Members

  • Add +1 when you advance a level and roll for hit points. This cannot take you above the maximum for the die.
  • Authority to enforce Dragon Egg town justice on or around the settled areas and roads claimed by Dragon Egg. Other groups within the Enchanted Forest may look upon you with favor or enmity based on being in the SAS.
  • Your pay is enough to live reasonably comfortably so that you don’t have to account for mundane expenses between adventures.
  • You will probably be allocated resources, such as healing potions and the like to help with your adventures. Unofficially, you can keep whatever you don’t use unless it is rare or valuable.
  • You are part of the militia chain of command, though the SAS is viewed as an elite force. Also, you are viewed as part of a “special force” within this elite force and command usually involves a light touch.
    • Episodic Game: You’ll be given missions to complete each session.
    • Sandbox Game: Instead of missions, you will have a lot more leeway with the assignments because you’ll do the jobs other people don’t want to. After all, there may be better warriors out there but how many of them are willing to do the stuff that PC’s do without flinching?  Think about it.

Enchanted Forest as seen via Fly spell.  Click for larger version.

Did You Know?

by Thulunil Ummair

That a dragonborn’s ability to exhale poison gas begins to develop around the age of 12 to 13, and boys and girls take part in secretive rituals to mark their passage from childhood to becoming adults?  During this time a boy’s comb grows larger and fuller while girls of course develop their adorable cheek spines.

Did you also know that dragonborn consider it insulting to call their children “spawn,” or “a brood?”  They also object to their eggs being called a “clutch” or compared to chicken or goose eggs.  We elves don’t mean anything bad by it and we keep saying stuff like that by accident because of the translation of certain elvish words that are part of the Dracosindarin language.  I think everyone should just get over it and not be so thin-skinned.

However, during a recent interview, Galadriel Ummair, Dragon Egg teacher and noted linguist and arcane archer, stated, “While it is true that many elves can sometimes be insensitive of our dragonborn friends’ oviparous sensibilities, we must try to do better, for as any wizard knows, ‘Words have power.’  After all, we elves don’t like dragonborn calling us ‘Ears,’ in reference to what they, and some humans, see as overly large ears with the characteristic sharp helices.  Indeed, dragonborn do not have visible ears at all.”

This writer would like to point out that his girlfriend and editor of this newspaper says that his ears are his “cutest feature,” and I say the same about her cheek spines.  I do agree that words have power and that it costs nothing to be kind to one another, but they should still get over it.  Thanks for the quote, Mom!

Coming Attractions

  • Feature article on a new group of constables in the Special Forest Service.  Hopefully we can get some quotes or maybe even an interview.
  • The Dungeonmaster promises to write about some of the points of interest in the Enchanted Forest.  Maybe even some of the ones marked on the map with little skulls!
  • Did you know in ancient times there was a vampire king to the south, who tried to invade the Enchanted Forest?
  • Possibly some interesting art from a talented human artist from another plane!

Staff

Biri “Wondermist” of Dragon Egg, Editor-in-Chief
Thulunil Ummair, Assistant Editor
Ann Wycoff, Contributing Editor
Your Name Could Be Here!

An East Egg SAS Dress Badge

 

Classified Ads

  1. Goblin family looking for situation in Dragon Egg.  We are skilled at most farm tasks and have excellent references.  Ask for the Gloo Family in East Egg.
  2. Looking for help raising barn.  You would need to provide team of horses.  I have good pelts, liquor, and a few low quality gems for trade.  Some might be arcane.
  3. I represent a dwarven concern interested in the excavation of certain, forgotten burial sites.  There is some question of the site causing harm to the forest both by attracting undesirable elements and by the presence of certain energies or forces within the catacombs themselves.  Who knows what effect errant and misunderstood magic is having on the ecosystem.  Leave a message at Levar’s Eyeballs, West Egg or reply to the Gazette.
  4. To whoever has been stealing my chickens.  Stop now or beware.  I know who you are and I know that in a few months you wouldn’t want to find yourself holding a changeling.  Keep stealing my chickens and we’ll see if we can make that happen for you.
  5. Our father disappeared near Ogre Hills.  It is feared he is senile and cannot take care of himself.  Reward for return.  Contact via Dragon Egg Gazette.

Scary Snippets Christmas Edition Released

I’ve had a bounce in my step for awhile now what with getting some of my very short fiction out there in the world.  One of those putting-bounce-in-my-step moments was placing a short story called “Turkey Day” with the good folks at Suicide House Publishing for their holiday offering Scary Snippets: Christmas Edition.*

I received two copies of the book the other day and am looking forward to reading it.  All of the stories are very short (hence “snippets”), between 100 and 600 words.  Naturally, being a Lady of Chaos Undivided I went for excess and made sure I used all 600 words.

Reindeer is tired of being used as a book rest and thinks duck needs to take a turn.**

Monsters and mayhem, by a goodly number of authors, include such things as cannibalism (tasty presented of course), Yule Cat, Revenge of the Christmas trees, and I am pleased to report that mine wasn’t the only story with zombies.

I must confess that my zombies were an oblique feature rather than the main attraction of Turkey Day.  One possible theme for my story might be that people are just a little too hard to impress these days and it’s a damned shame.  Whatever the case, I’m one of those people (currently anyway) who usually looks for a theme after I’ve finished my work rather than when I’m writing it.

Bird thinks the Thanksgiving Day ones are the scariest for obvious reasons!

In other news, I was the dungeon master for a Dungeons & Dragons game yesterday, which went pretty well.  I haven’t DMed in many years and I was a little nervous going in, but everyone said they had fun and are looking forward to once again visiting the Enchanted Forest, so I’m pretty pleased.

Finally, I have a sorry little tale (pun not intended) about my cat catching a mouse.  That will be for next time.  I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

Christmas Bird Clip Art

*  Suicide House Publishing has since changed its name to Nocturnal Sirens Publishing.

** My mother made the little clothespin angel, which I thought was cute, and put it in this year’s Christmas box.  Thanks, Mom! 🙂

Christmas 2019: Gaming, Writing, and Twist Yo’ Wrist!

Greetings and Felicitations, Dear Readers, I hope you are doing well.  If Christmas is your thing, then have a merry one, and if not then best wishes for whatever it is you celebrate this time of year, even if it is simply making it to the end of another year.  Some years are better than others and I hope that 2019 was a good one and 2020 is even better.

I had a nice time at a Solstice celebration where there was a big fire and I got to don a robe and everything, and an equally fun Christmas with my tiny tree that I bust out for a month before banishing it back to the dungeon, along with the tiny reindeer and bird, in their green and red plastic bin.

Reindeer wants to be a ranger or barbarian.  Naturally the bird wants to play a dragonborn.*

Received some pretty nice presents this year, which touch on my three favorite hobbies:  gaming, writing, and working out.

It has been quite a few years since I’ve played roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, and I happened to mention to someone I’m getting the itch to DM once again.  The result was a Players Handbook from Jolly Old Saint Nick.  Now all I have to do is find some like-minded people in my area.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel is apparently a guidebook for plotting novels.  I feel pretty confident with short stories and such, but I feel like 2020 is going to be the year where I educate myself more with structuring longer fiction.  So I’m going to read through this book and see about applying what I learn to going back and revisiting the Gabby novel I was poking away at on Wattpad.

The metal thingie is a wide-grip wrist roller.  For anyone not familiar, you attach a weight to it and roll the rope up and lower it back down.  It targets the forearms and especially the grip.  Nice and heavy duty too.  Can’t wait to take it to the gym.  With the Twist Yo’ Wrist device I’ve been using for some time now, I’ll never meet a jar of pickles I didn’t like.

I updated my About page.  I thought maybe it was time considering I haven’t touched it since about 2014.

Take care and have a great 2020.

— Ann

 

* I’m fairly certain that the tree wants to play a Druid, though I’ll have to build back up to where I’m high enough level to cast Speak with Plants to be certain!

Book Review: Stories We Tell After Midnight

“Here, the shadows keep their secrets and the moon hides from deeds cast in her glow.  In these pages, the Fae walk as human, the dead burn with their anger at the living, the creatures that live in the dark places of the wrong zip code creep out of the shadows and into the kitchen.”  — Crone Girls Press

Stories We Tell After Midnight is the debut anthology of short, horror fiction from Rachel A. Brune’s Crone Girls Press.  This book was my bedtime literary companion for a few nights and I found it an enjoyable read.  The stories varied in length from flash fiction to longer short stories.  Like pretty much all anthologies, the quality of the tales varied.  Some of the stories were excellent, some average, and a couple didn’t work for me.  Even with the stories that I thought fell flat, I did appreciate that the authors were taking chances.

This authorial taking of chances is something that I haven’t seen much of with the short fiction I’ve been reading lately, and made for an interesting change of pace.  This is probably because I have been reading a lot of fiction online.  Such work often tends to play it safe for reasons such as restrictive terms of service and risks the risk of feeling sanitized or politically correct.

Stories We Tell After Midnight is a refreshing alternative and gives us none of that.

The stories “go places” I haven’t seen lately.  Children in dangerous situations, terrors that seem familiar from recent headlines, unsavory culinary habits and sexual manipulations, to name a few.  Brune chooses work by authors who can sojourn into this dark country but do so without crossing the border into bad taste, even if in one case the author does drag his toe along that line, in my opinion.

Sometimes, Horror has to sojourn down twisted, borderland roads.

I also enjoyed how the stories took place in different eras and places.  There were tales set during the mid and late-19th Century up to the present day.*  I liked how the horrors varied between the entirely mundane to the magical/supernatural, and I appreciated the magic realism that permeated many of these evocative settings.

My favorite three stories in no particular order were:**

  • “Kitchen Spirits” by Nicholas Belardes
  • “Gobbl’uns” by Thea Rachel Brune
  • “It Has to Cool First” by Carol Gyzander

I just realized my top three picks all involved food one of sort or another!

“Kitchen Spirits” by Nicholas Berlardes introduces us to the recently widowed Pascual, who is having nightmares of his “re-animated wife” and seeing “a thing with crab-like legs” with “a corpse-colored tongue” sampling dead rats in his driveway.  Mostly, he wants to be left alone with his sorrow, microwaved refried beans and Netflix.  He also doesn’t want anyone messing with his cat, Panchito.  I can understand that, though one feels sorry for him as a man who has lost his old life and his purpose.

I enjoyed Pascual’s internal dialogue as he tries to cope with his current existence and broken heart while “visions of corpses infected his mind.”  If that wasn’t enough, throw in a pesky, teenage neighbor, who was given to “blabbing about some monster-filled dungeon he’d concocted for his stupid geek friends,” while delivering warnings about “bad mojo.”

As Pascual becomes more disturbed, and the environs around his house more sinister and seemingly unclean, one wonders if the kid might not have a point.

I enjoyed reading how Pascual ended up reacting once the full horror of the situation was revealed.  He seemed very human.  What made this a real page turner, of course, was hoping the cat didn’t take one in the neck.  You’ll have to read the story for yourself to find out what happens with Panchito.

Sure, take a big bite but watch out for your fillings!

“It Has to Cool First” is set in late-19th Century Atlantic City where two young orphans, Jeremy and his younger sister, Mary, try to obtain work.***  Any work so they might survive.  Jeremy is particularly appealing for his indefatigable willingness to strive, despite his tender years, to secure the immediate survival and possibility of a bright future for himself and Mary.

They end up at the Keuhnle Hotel at a bakery run by the sinister Herr Holdermann.

I enjoyed how Gyzander led me down the magical realism rabbit hole through addiction to a horrific outcome where the last line brings the story full circle to a satisfactory, evil conclusion, but with more questions and the possibility for alternative futures I can spin out in my head as a reader.  Horror that is more of the same?  A long and complicated Revenge?  What do the other people in the town and associated with the hotel really know about the bakery?  You get the idea.

You get extra evil monster points for taunting the kid when you know he’s hooked!

“Gobbl’uns” is a story of childhood jealousies and monsters under the bed.  Poor Charlie, on his sixth birthday, has to deal with the fact that his parents are much more focused on the needs of his younger brother than they are with the horrors that might be lurking under his bed, despite his father’s “monster repellent.”

What appealed me to most about this story was the masterful job the author did in capturing the essence of young Charlie through an adult, third-person voice.  I smiled at Charlie making a protective picket of his stuffed animals against the monsters and by the end understood (and sympathized a little) with his sibling rivalry, even while things didn’t work out quite like how the boy probably imagined or hoped they would.

Stories We Tell After Midnight was a dark, attractive read.  The plots were straight-forward, the writing crisp, and the settings varied and evocative, which makes for good bedtime reading.  I would only give this book a miss if you are highly sensitive or easily triggered, in which case I would respectfully ask why you are reading adult horror in the first place?

Congratulations to Crone Girls Place for a solid, debut offering.  As someone who enjoys a bit of horror tourism, I look forward to seeing the tormented landscapes Editor Brune takes us next.

This is an unsolicited review for which I received no compensation. All graphics used with permission of Crone Girls Press.**** 


* Would have been fun to see a story set in some sort of dark fantastic or science fiction future, though the lack of this in no way diminished my enjoyment of the anthology.

** Honorable mention to Elizabeth Donald’s “In Memoriam.”

*** It is fun when an author pulls from history, especially when they don’t tell you they are doing so.  (Several of the stories do this.)  Keuhnle’s Hotel, where Gyzander’s story is set, was built in 1875 by the father of Commodore Louis Keuhnle, who puts in an early appearance in the story.  According to Wikipedia, Keuhnle’s in Atlantic City was a “prime meeting place for some of the time’s earliest gangsters, racketeers, politicians, and unscrupulous entrepreneurs.”  Sounds to me like it was a place where people really knew how to party!

*** This I swear as a Chaos Lady and a supporting adept of the October Egregore, and upon the holy tentacles of the Dark Gods’ minions who handle such oaths as well as the ghost of Commodore Keuhnle!

As Promised, Again With WIP Poxwalker #17

As promised, I offer a couple of pictures of where work-in-progress poxwalker #17 stands since the last time I turned my proverbial painting lens on this worthy zombie.*

PW#18 waits with undead patience in the fuzzy background.

I still have a bit more work to do, though I’m getting close to the end stages now.  The purple tentacles used to be blue, but I decided they were far too pretty in a wow-that-looks-like-it-would-look-great-on-a-blue-horror pretty and not poxwalker pretty so I hit them with some purple shade.  Upon reflection I might have hit them too hard and maybe I should have used some medium and/or tried blue shade or a blue and purple mix.  I still can, but I’m undecided.  I might leave them more or less as is and just highlight them a little.

Inertia and all….

After all, they are just a couple of belly tentacles and not really worth too much thought in the scheme of things.  Are there not whole regiments of guardsmen in the world who are still painfully bereft of the Grandfather’s multifarious blessings?

What kind of maggots to go with this time?**

I still have a few decisions to make such as what kind of maggots, and what kind of pox to go with this time.  Maybe Emerald Pox.  I’ve only done that with one other poxwalker, (one of the dreaded beach boy twins) so it isn’t overdone with this mob.***

I’m probably not going to rust up the mechanical arm too much.  Maybe a few Rhinox Hide patches and the like.****  I am thinking of busting out an old brush and the bottle of AK Interactive engine oil and experimenting with that.  I tried glossy Nuln Oil for a bit of fresh oil look, but that didn’t really work for me so far.

Next time I will post some pictures of the fully completed poxwalker #17, a work in progress no longer.  I’ll know it is done by my usual tried-and-true method, which is when my fiddling seems to make things no better and maybe even worse.  That is when I know it is time to stop with many things in life, miniatures and writing both.


“Promised” should be construed to mean a non-binding echo of a glimmer of a reflection upon said Humble Narratrix’s part to maybe put up some pictures of WIP-PW#17 if and when it is convenient to do so before becoming distracted by less important things.

**  It is a very good sign when you type “maggot” in the search box for your site and a whole bunch of pages come up!

***  I haven’t forgotten about my idea of having countless hordes of poxwalkers, plaguebearers, etc. and identifying each mob with a different disease.

****  Perhaps the mechnical arm was in good working order when PW#17 was gifted with the blessings of Nurgle rather than the usual state of affairs, which of course is that the rust and falling apart look is in fact a wonderful magic that makes the mechanism in question work at least as and probably better than when it was right off the forge world assembly line.

Death Guard Symbol 125 wide

Cthulhu Pie and update on Organic Ink

My husband has been on a pie making kick lately for his vegan/plant-based weight loss Youtube Channel.  I’ve been (not surprisingly as a confirmed omnivore) enjoying the fruits of his labors.  He sent me this jewel, which though he didn’t make it he said he sure wish he had.  I’m sure most of you reading this can see why and I’m sure glad he sent me this picture.  It’s Cthulhuicious:)

“In his pie at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu dreams for whipped cream.”

I had more than I wanted to share, but as it turns out I burned most of my time today working on my Wattpad writing and composing a little promotional doggerel to put in a section of the chapbook I’ve spent most of October and some of November working on:  Thirty-One Days of Darkness with the idea of having one offering for each day of October.

Someone suggested that I ought to shoehorn in a small advertisement for Organic Ink Volume Two so I did.  Actually I forgot but then was reminded when I was reading someone’s poetry collection in Wattpad and ran across an advertisement for their print chapbook.

So I typed up the usual sort of promotional stuff about pre-ordering it on Amazon, the release date being December 30th and so on, but thought that was kind of boring.  I kicked around a few ideas and then settled upon beginning with the lines:

I am one of the authors featured in this anthology

it’s far more interesting than a text on gnathology.

and goes from there for another nine or ten lines.  If you’re interested you can read the rest of it in my aptly titled, Organic Ink: Shameless Self Promotion, which I’ve sandwiched between some micro fiction concerning a superheroine’s first night alone on the job and a haiku involving tentacle fingers.

Click image for Amazon’s pre-order page for the Kindle version.

Finally, I did a little more work on poor, long-suffering poxwalker #17.  Alas, I don’t have time to take and post any pictures of my worthy zombie, but that will give me something for next time, hopefully before the weekend.  All I will say is that need to redo its violet belly tentacles because they came out too pretty by half.  Slaanesh will be making my poor poxwalker into an honorary daemonette if I’m not careful.  Oh, the pain, the pain!

Nurgle Blood Bowl Icon 125