Deal 560: There wolf

FF 16: darkness, Free Will, Typewriter, Transformation

If I had my way, this night would be my last transformation.

For too many nights, I’ve been completely at the mercy of the moon. I’ve seemed safe enough near the new moon when it is mostly damped by daylight. But the closer we come to the full moon, the bigger the risk to myself and others. In darkness, the moonlight stands in stark relief, and there is nothing to mitigate its effect on my body and mind. And then I transform.

My other form is too proud to be useful, too weak to be helpful.

When I notice the chance, I try harder to involve the people around us more.

I want to transform on my terms in the future. That means being more diligent about moonlight. More careful to be available to our neighbors when its safe. And a healthy dose of truth.


Deal 559: Eyes.

The dolls line the shelves and watch. Nothing normally creepy about a watching doll. But these dolls have eyes that seem to follow you around the room, and if you dare to make eye contact they will sometimes wink, knowingly. Nothing creepy about a watching doll. Unless it is watching.

Under the watchful eyes of the dolls, business is slow but steady. Customers come and go. Some adopt a doll for a time. Occasionally a doll returns, but usually when it known no one is looking. The dolls watch as business slows to a crawl, then a trickle. Under their watchful eyes, customers are increasingly reluctant to be seen by a doll, let alone their friends and neighbors in this shop.

The dolls are becoming worried, not that they can easily change anything. If this goes on, the shop will die. If the shop dies, the dolls don’t know what their fate will be.

Their owner leaves most operation of the shop up to the dolls. This may not be the usual way things are done, but it has worked for her since as far back as she can remember. She knows the dolls are concerned, she can see it in their eyes. These days she responds to that concern by opening another beer. The dolls are concerned, but their owner is more interested in the blood of barley flavored with hops.

It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, this was a premier shop carrying only the best dolls. Her clientele came from the four winds to find precisely the right doll, or more typically, to see if any doll was willing to adopt them. The dolls were happier then too, and started each day eager to meet the little girls.

The last time the shop was in decline could be blamed on a single clumsy girl, who came as they all do to find the right companion. But in a freak accident also managed to nearly get tossed into the shop stove, and managed to burn a number of the older dolls. All she would say about the experience later was that their eyes made her do it.

Nothing creepy about a watching doll, after all. But hundreds of watching dolls are a fish of another color entirely.


Deal 558: Does a bear fish in the woods?

“Once upon a time,” Steve began, “there was a hungry bear.”

“Not the bear story again!” yelled everyone.

“No, not the story you think you know,” Steve promised, “this happened just the other day.”

There was muttering, but everyone settled down to listen. And judge, because that is what they were expected to do, and had always done.

“Once upon a time, there was a hungry bear. He was such a hungry bear, but winter was dragging on, and nothing he wanted to eat was within reach. Then it appeared his luck would change for he had stumbled upon a humble fisherman at the side of the river working on luring the old trout. The bear knew the old trout was too canny to be caught by just any old fisherman, but this seemed like his best chance at a snack in a long time so he settled down to watch.”

“Now I–I mean the humble fisherman–cast into the deep water where that trout was rumored to live. The trout showed itself several times, a flash of silver in the dim light, but indeed was too canny to take the simple lure. One at a time, the fisherman tried every lure he had: big flashy chunks of bent metal to small brightly colored bits of plastic shaped like worms and crawly things. He even tried an actual worm, but since that only works in stories, it didn’t work this time either.”

Steve paused for a sip from his mug, but found it empty. After a meaningful stare at the empty mug and a hopeful stare at the crowd of rapt listeners, someone ponied up for a refill.

The crowd knew what to effect, and Steve came through.

“This time he brought out a lure that he had carried for years but never used. He tied the monstrosity to the line, and cast it out across the eddy, winding the lure back in fits and starts so it would resemble a smaller fish.”

“Suddenly, there was a hint of motion in the deep water. The old trout grabbed the lure and swam with powerful strokes towards the surface. It leapt out of the water, line trailing from its jaw. Leapt right in front of the bear, who as was previously established, was very hungry. The bear rose out of the scrub where it had been watching, and snatched the old trout right out of the air.”

“That old trout was huge. At least this big.” Steve gestured with his hands far too far apart to be believed. The crowd remained skeptical.

After a short pause, they realized that Steve was serious, and the story was essentially over. “Where’s the trout now?” someone prodded.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Steve responded. “The last I saw the bear had it firmly gripped in its jaws as it vanished into the woods. I may be a foolish fisherman, but there’s no way I was going to chase a bear!”


Deal 557: Idiot plots

The only way this plot was going to make sense was through the abandonment of all sense by at least one character.

It was obvious from the start.

Of course, I was forbidden to say anything of the sort. This script had the green light from higher up, in a way that strongly implied that someone had called in a favor.

As best as I could tell from the treatment I was given, the plot involved three old friends exploring an abandoned industrial site. Between the moon casting hidden shadows across the group, and the obvious need to separate the victims so that they could be attacked one at a time.

What they needed was for any one of them to say “Hey, stop a moment. My inner watchdog is going crazy. Are we certain we have safe access to the upper floors? I mean, it just seems that we should be prudent and avoid the obvious risks after what we’ve been through around here. That, and make sure we are all carrying lights. So?”

Of course, it is an unwritten rule that members of a film cast cannot have an inner watchdog, or common sense. Otherwise, too many film plots can be resolved far too quickly.


Deal 556: YASD

Stan the Barbarian glided restlessly around the dungeon level, knowing his days were numbered.

Everything had been going swimmingly. His little dog had grown up to be quite the companion. He’d found treasure behind every boulder, and even the kobalds were tasty after they got a taste of his club. But then it all went pear shaped.

He attempted to use his little dog to steal from shopkeepers. The first couple of shops were easy picking. But then the dog became less interested, and at the third shop got into a serious fight with a large mimic that set off a number of other booby traps. Including a trap door which dropped Stand down two levels while holding an armful of stolen goods.

At first that seemed like a stroke of luck, but then Stan realized that most of the stolen goods were also cursed. And that he was over-burdened and could barely move. So he did the obvious thing. He dropped everything he was holding as started to sort out his load.

As he grasped for maps of the deeper levels and other details that might help him survive, he put on the boots that he had inadvertently plundered, hoping for stealth, speed, better kicking, or at least a nudge in his armor class. Instead, he felt himself slowly float above the pile on the floor. That was when he realized his mistake. He had just put on a pair of -3 cursed boots of levitation.

Being cursed, he couldn’t remove them.

Being levitated, he could no longer reach the rest of his goods where they lay on the floor.

And at that point, there was little he could do.

All his food was out of reach.

There were unidentified scrolls, one of which could be a scroll of remove curse. Also out of reach.

His prayer to Crom was answered with anger for daring to disturb the great god Crom’s nap, but Crom did incidentally break the curse. When Stan noticed, he was happened to be hovering over the corpse of a cockatrice. When he foolishly removed his boots, he fell on the foul fowl, and upon touching its corpse was immediately turned to stone.

RIP Stan, 65536 Au, Killed by the corpse of a cockatrice.