He looked forward to his plans coming to fruition.
His conversion from frog to prince had worked well, but left him itchy and uncomfortable if he strayed too far from his origins. He worked that problem for the last year, and finally had success with an ointment that relieved the itching in short-term, and after a few months of use he was finding he no longer needed it at all for days at a time.
So now it was time to put the band together, and go win himself a princess.
A banjo, a washtub bass, and a jug would be a start.
The Inn at the Bridge was well placed to see all sorts of folks pass through. Not everyone stopped, of course, but many did to pass a few hours until the bridge was clear.
That also made the Inn a popular place to lie in wait. Even parties that don’t stop are visible as the road turns to approach the river. Not that the innkeeper was ever willingly a part of such a plot. But a recent episode involving poisoned beer was the last straw. That killed many innocent travelers while apparently not actually killing the target who at the last moment declined to stop for a drink. Meanwhile, the poisoned keg was tapped and served to all comers.
The Inn has turned over several suspicious kegs for investigation, as well as several transient workers who may have had access to the keg room.
Further, the Inn now has a standing challenge that any concerned customer may demand that staff taste any draft.
The Inn’s owners are confident that these measures will reassure the traveler that the Inn remains a safe and convenient stop on the long dusty road.
The trick with any disguise, as with any plan, is to get it to survive first contact with the enemy.
Once you are used to walking calmly past the guards armed only with a clipboard filled with blank paper as your authorization, you can go anywhere. But that first time, it is so easy to be overwhelmed by the apparatus of security theater, and to automatically assume you have been caught.
The secret is that all security theater fundamentally depends on the guilty party feeling guilty.
Then the world is your oyster.
Bob’s your uncle.
And you can keep the apple a day you were planning to sacrifice to fend off the medical profession.
With a new year upon us in the real world, it is time perhaps to consider a little mental housecleaning. It is time to put out the old, and welcome the new. Exchange new lamps for old, as the classic tale has it.
Old to New Spread
Deal a concrete card to the center as the pivot.
Deal two concrete cards to the left as the old.
Deal two abstract cards to the right as the new.
The pair to the left stand for things to throw out with the changing of the year. Cherish them or hate them, their time is past. Let them go.
The pair to the right stand for things anticipated to come. Await them eagerly or fear them, their time is upon you.
The card at the eye of the storm is the pivot on which the whole turns. This might be a main character, a place, a prop, or a theme. It might not need to be mentioned by name, as events will turn about it regardless.
The Old: Mirror, fowl
The New: Prudence, Loyalty
As the dancers moved around her, the Princess finally relaxed into the moment and just let herself enjoy it.
All that business with the mirror, the old hag, the poisoned chickens, and the five extremely tall men was over and done. She had survived, and even perhaps learned a few lessons. The hag was no longer a threat. The chicken flock was once again healthy. And the mirror knew better than to offer any opinions. For now, at least.
Tomorrow was another day, which she would deal with then. She imagined that more care was needed before accepting help from just anyone. And she expected that her new council members (all unusually tall and thin) would be loyal to her before all else.