Happy Friday! Another week, another flood of terrific entries! Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all who submitted.
First Place =a tie
Elijahiel and Sir Darkchild (EU1) - 'The Power of Jingle Ding and Prince Showercap'
Mia de Zweede (EU2) - 'Pelog' (A hand knitted keyring!)
Second Place = Ren Shae (EU1) - 'The Great Furry Protector'
Third Place = Jolon (US3) - 'The Villagers' Build: A Story of Possibility'
By Elijahiel and Sir Darkchild
By Mia de Zweede
By Ren Shae
The Villagers’ Build: A Story of Possibility by Jolon
Stepping out from his freshly painted house in Oceanside, what colloquially was known as Lakeside, Jakk reflected on the feeling of accomplishment stemming from the table, chairs, and wardrobe he had crafted over the last few weeks. He had just finished putting the finishing touches on them, a bit of scrollwork that the locals could identify as his personal stamp. He couldn’t wait to show them to his partner Jolon. That thought elicited a frown because Jo was off on yet another exploratory adventure with no definite return date. Jakk would be more cross, but Jo had brought home the stunning teak wood that Jakk had lovingly refined and turned into these pieces, plus the slew of items that were even now being loaded onto the ship at the new village quay. A shipment of refined ingots had gone out via the trade caravan the day before, and though it wasn’t the chests of goodies and exotic ingredients Jo was apt to bring home, it still brought a tidy sum, easily paying for the new seeds he planned to plant under the next moon in his garden and in the communal garden.
Violet sheep peeked at him from her regal perched position under the new barn Jakk and Jo had built for the many nonhuman animal friends Jo had been making in his travels. Jakk always felt like her look harbored malicious intent, as if he was trying to take her place. It may not have helped that a few months back some sheep of splendidly colored wool had come back with Jo, though Violet had wasted no time making sure they knew she was boss. Come to think of it, all the residents of their homestead Erania Farm bowed to Violet, including Eira the yeti, who dozed peacefully next to Coinín the giant rabbit. Somewhere in the rafters Ocht and Wyth spiders had settled in nicely, and from the screaming out back Gil goat was vociferously complaining about being left behind with the rest of the crew, or else yelling at the horses and pigs and boars.
As Jakk wandered to his garden plot, thinking of all the interesting things the village weaver could teach him to make with the variegated wool from the new sheep residents, he noticed that several of his neighbors had stopped by recently, offering his thirsty growing crops a bit of water and one had even sprinkled a bit of a special fertilizer blend. He mentally reminded himself to drop them thank you notes in their mailboxes as he tended the plants.
Turning toward town center, passing by the shipwrights hard at work on enlarging the trade fleet of the village, opening up new markets for the many goods the thriving locals like him had started producing, Jakk saw that the new dye maker’s shop was already a hit. The dye maker had perfected a method for tinting not only woven cloth, but also, mysteriously or magically, a way to change the hue of metal armor pieces and barding. The gnomish figure behind it was all smiles for the many humans clamoring for her attention.
The market stalls were all hustle and bustle, people moving too and fro with baskets of herbs, vegetables, and fruits. The herb vendor had a sign that the verda sprouts had gone bad again, and Jakk added another mental note to bring some of the dried stash they kept
since the herbalist always paid a fair price. He may even be interested in a few of the exotics that had started to sprout, another returning home gift from Jo after a harrowing expedition in some marshy lands far to the east. One such magical herb they had managed to cultivate hailed from a land Jo described as perpetually thundering and arcing lightning. The plant made a constant, low, sizzling sound and had an odor akin to after a rain. Their best friend Jenalya was practically frantic to start experimenting with it in her potion lab.
The baker had new muffins to sample, and it was clear she had been infusing her clerical magics into the dough, for even a whiff had Jakk smiling and feeling peaceful. Her normally dour sister even had a smile on her face, though whether it was the muffins or a final success with the sticky sweets she had been infusing with shadowy spells the last month to combat a magical infestation affecting the orchards, Jakk couldn’t tell. He suspected those potent sweets would find uses beyond pest control.
The Eye of V was already well into raucous activity, the popular tavern having absorbed spill over from the Legends guild hall next door after a rousing game of chance or mayhap the local dart team the Legendary Drunkards had concluded their latest practice session. Their forthcoming competition with the Divine Orphans of Divindi had been all anyone could talk about this week.
The notice board in front of the guild hall had a few listings for materials needed, requests for some specific armor by one of the newer guild members, and an announcement of the next foray into the Mulgrew Swamps. There was also news about an impromptu crafting party on Ethos Island being held later that evening, and an update that the Legacy guild had gotten ahold of a powerful Crystal of Beneficence and would be breaking it over the weekend in their village and all were invited. Jakk made mental note number three to get the big cart ready and to sharpen his tools because the material gathering and refining under that crystal’s auspices produced some of the finest items and magically enhanced the amount able to be collected. The last time a village had unearthed one of these crystals, the celebration went on all weekend, and many goods, created at a magically accelerated rate, were of such esteem and quality that they ended up adorning the palaces and castles of many realms. A suit of armor made by one of the most skilled smiths started an intense and expensive bidding war, and later adorned one of the fiercest protectors of the Realms.
A tug on his sleeve pulled him from a reverie of ingots and fine cloth. Arrayed behind him were the eager faces of village children. Jakk knew immediately what they wanted. He hefted his small Bibelot Bag and pulled out a sphere of coalesced flame. One brave child cheered and held out her hand. When Jakk placed the sphere in her palm, she gave an excited shout as a puff of smoke wrapped around her and quickly polymorphed her into a wee spriggan of fire. A boy summoned his courage and pointed to the softly glowing seed that Jakk pulled out of the bag. The youngster took the seed with reverence, and then squealed and ran about the square as a trail of flowers followed in his wake. Lest the firework toys start an impromptu festival, Jakk smiled and shook his head at further pleas for more fun with toys.
The children’s attention was diverted from any expressions of dismay when a troupe of acrobats, musicians, and gamesters bounded into town center with aplomb. Their colorful garb and flags identified them as part of the Ardent Players. An impromptu festival was happening anyway! Market goers, heroes, children, and elders all gathered to watch, listen, and play games of chance and skill with the new arrivals.
A few vendors accompanied the performers, and Jakk found a few trinkets that would delight Jo upon his return. He also found a beautifully worked glass vase for Jenalya’s upcoming birthday. He had no doubt she would fill it, not with flowers, but with some bubbling concoction. He would be sure to sneak it into her mailbox as a surprise.
One of the trinkets he found from a slightly off kilter vendor had a strange and subtle vibration. A rather plain and unadorned wooden bowl, Jakk would’ve passed it over since he could make something finer with little effort. Yet for some inexplicable reason he bought the item. There was something to it, magical perhaps but not malevolent. He would have to take it to the Arcane Athenaeum in Ardent Castle to seek their guidance.
As the Ardent Players wrapped up their performance, a herald from the city arrived and announced to the assembled crowd that a great building competition was being sponsored by the crown. The village had just finished a communal effort to erect the transitory Statue of Harvest Fertility, and the local wizards, priests, and shamans had spent a fortnight imbuing the construction with magical energies that now seeped deep into the growing plots of all the residents. Jakk’s own garden was already rapidly showing growth since the completion of the statue.
The herald said this sponsored construction was for a statue of immense scale. Every village in the realm was to be tasked with portions of the building, and collectively the assembled pieces would make their way to Ardent City to be built high. All the Realms were engaged in this task, and the design was a newly discovered magical talisman of great potency that would aid all citizens in some undetermined way. The discovery was made by one of the greatest of magicians, the Mad Otter, whose skill and ingenuity was highly regarded.
This news spurred excited chatter from the crowd as the herald posted the list of building needs on the village notice board. Communal construction was not a new concept for any village in the realm, as each village maintained quite a few ongoing projects that benefited everyone, like the Wellspring, the seasonal statues, the community farmland, and another of the Mad Otter’s inventions, the Empyrean Machine that seemed to add some new twist to the village landscape like the time it made it snow in the thick of summer.
A realm-wide project was new and exciting however. Jakk would have to find a way to get a message to Jo quickly. His last missive had been quite dated, but there was a promising communication system being ironed out, something called Effective Mailings, or emails as they were shortening it, and the guild had been experimenting with using it to reach far flung members with some success.
Copying down the building needs in his journal he carried while mobile, to remind him of ingredients he would need, recipes he collected, and his own adventures, Jakk headed home. As he moved through the vine-covered pathway to Lakeside, he wondered if he really liked the new shade of aubergine he had painted the house, or if a periwinkle might fit better for the season. Violet was still perched and still glaring as if Jakk had just released a foul smell like that joke potion Jenalya had made him. He shook his head and wondered what megalomaniacal plan she was scheming next.
Entering into his home, flushed and happy after a full day enjoying village life, he was met with the unexpected and joyous sight of his beloved, dirty and tousled, yet glowing with news and stories and rhymes to share in their life of villager and hero.
A tale of Jolon of Greenhaven, Journeyman Explorer US3