AR 1209-07 Krunch's Journal
The first month at the academy has flown by. I could have sworn that one moment I was introducing myself to classmates and the next we were failing a test. According to father it was my fault we got separated in the danger room. Some day he’s going to have to accept that I’m just not the leader type, no matter how much he wants me to follow in his footsteps.
But we got great news – the circus is in town again and all we had to do was win a contest for extra tickets! We tackled the wall with ease by tying a rope to Quock and throwing him over the wall which gave Yari and Rissa a rope to climb with. Wolf and I of course had no problem. I was in such a rush I forgot to check for traps – again – but at least this time it was just a shock with a little more kick that you get from static electricity, not stinkbug spray. I think I tasted stinkbug for a week after that episode. I do not recommend it as a seasoning.
But maybe it made me a bit tougher when I had to walk through a gas-filled room. The smell was even worse because Yari went first and was yacking in the corner. Having grown up with his mother’s cooking I would have thought he’d have a stronger stomach. Oh, and next time we should try emptying a water skin and breathing from that … not sure if it would work but it might for the half a minute we needed.
The great thing was that working as a team we made it through first. We made a pretty good team, even if Yari was still a little green. I wasn’t surprised that Pegasus was last, I don’t think they know how to cooperate very well.
With bonus tickets in hand we headed off the circus the next day with a whole three days off to enjoy ourselves. I was a bit surprised to see Sparky hanging out with Verona and Quinellia but she is a girl so I don’t understand how she thinks half the time. When we got to the gate ourselves, we were asked to help with mucking out animal stalls (something the gals had apparently dismissed). Getting to see the inner workings of the circus and seeing the animals up close would have been enough payment for me but fortunately we have some better negotiators in the group and got paid in tickets too.
Most of the day was fun but uneventful. We mucked out some stalls, I won a stuffed animal for Tizzy, and the Pegasus crew harassed me about the rumors concerning my heritage. I didn’t really care much about the latter since it’s something I’ve heard my entire life. As far as I know it’s true. Pegasus is going to have to try a lot harder if they want to get under my skin.
Oh, and we ran into a talking squirrel. Apparently this happens to Quock all the time, but for the rest of us it was a bit odd. The squirrel turned out to be a kid around our age that had been polymorphed after making fun of an old woman who turned out to be a hag or witch. The squirrel’s name was Geo and his brothers Sardi (a cat) and Beckum (a toad) had also been changed into animals. It’s never a good idea to cross grandmothers or any other old women even when you think they can’t see you. Eyes. Back of head. Just sayin’.
We then violated the first rule by splitting the party. I know, I know. How many time have I heard about stories of adventuring companies that split up only to have someone die needlessly? But we were just at the circus, we thought splitting up wouldn’t cause a problem. So while Rissa went looking for Sparky, the rest of us went looking for the Squirrel’s brothers or just some random cat and toad.
I was the first one to come running in response to Yari’s cry for help, so I grabbed a shovel and went running to find a cat straddling a toad surrounded by some oversized rats. I started womping rats with my shovel and after a few seconds Wolf came charging in and belly-flopped on top of the rats. I was admiring his … enthusiasm … so much that between trying to protect myself from rats and watching him I’m not sure what everyone else was doing. If he had spikes on his armor it might even be effective. I’ll have to draw something up and show it to mother when I get a chance.
After talking to the rat and the toad (something I never thought I would say) we found out that they needed to be kissed by a princess in order to revert back to their normal form. I didn’t think Verona would volunteer so we set out to find Sparky. Besides, the thought of Sparky kissing a toad was too good to pass up.
Turned out that Sparky’s little performance at the gate to the circus and refusing to help out had gotten her into trouble. I think this may have been the first time she got into trouble without my help, so she was pretty upset when we found her down in the garden caves. Not only did she have to spread the manure in the caves, but couldn’t attend the rest of the circus. After a bit of cajoling and agreeing to get signatures from the various acts at the circus she finally agreed to kiss the animals. The lads were all without clothes, but other than that seemed to be ok. There was also a nest of cave-snakes that we had to clean out.
Before heading supper I let Laris know what was going on. If a witch was running around turning kids into animals, somebody needed to look into it. I suppose we could have looked into it but the thought of having to be kissed by my sister made that notion last about as long as the last tankard of ale at a dwarven party.
I stopped by Sparky’s room after supper to try to cheer her up. I know how much getting the signatures means to her so I gave her the stuffed animal I’d won for Tizzy. Apparently it’s a stuffed “puffin” which is a bird I’d never heard of.
Later that evening as we were getting ready for bed I mentioned to the guys that maybe I could ask if our new friends could join the academy if Rissa and Yari’s folks were ok with sponsoring them. I should probably take advantage of what I’m sure will be a very temporary halo of being “the good child” and talk to my parents soon.
As we were getting ready for bed Wolf snuck off to get something from the kitchen. That sounded like a really great idea so while Laris was busy with Wolf I headed to the kitchen myself. On the way back I heard Yari and Rissa whispering. I figured Laris would be in a bad mood with having to deal with Sparky and Wolf so I thought it would be better if one of the girls in the Gargoyle cave discovered him rather than Laris. Mission accomplished.
The next morning the group was talking about some strange dream they had. If they hadn’t all agreed on some of the details, I would have said they had gotten hold of some bad dragon poppers like Quock. It appears that the dream was somehow it was tied to the keep Ak’Abbar that Durin and Durina were from – it had disappeared back at the end of the God’s War when their mother was bringing Durin to see his grandparents (Durin was just a year old, Durina was three). Durin and Durina both had a small statue carved by their father in the image of the keep. Maybe that had something to do with how this “Tinneth” (the female elf in the dream realm) had summoned them (and apparently kissed Yari for some reason). They did initially appear in what they believed was the ruins of the old keep after all. Or maybe it was just bad dragon poppers.
In any case, we had to go get signatures for Sparky and everybody wanted to figure out if we could get our new animals-turned-human-boys friends scholarship for the academy. Sardi is going to study to be a priest of Odin, Beckum is a fighter and Geo is some kind of wizard. We went to find ma, but turns out she had gone to the circus already.
So we headed off to the circus. We split the party and for once it didn’t end in disaster. Yari was able to get the signature from the bearded woman without too much trouble, although I could swear that I saw a hint of lipstick on his collar, a long black hair and a red spot on Yari’s cheek. What is it with women kissing this kid? I found da, who told me where we could find ma. By the time we found ma (talking to some elf woman – Aerith Dawnfall, Darreeli’s mother) the other guys had caught up. They were too busy discussing stuff to help right then so we agreed to meet her later. Yari was slow catching up as we left, not sure why.
With half a glass to burn we went to the sword swallower. On they way we noticed that Guido was following us to I snuck up behind him and “accidentally” knocked him over into the mud. I almost felt bad about it but I know the only reason he was following us was to stop us from getting the signatures for Sparky.
While an axe swallower would have been truly impressive, sword swallowing was pretty cool. Getting the signature was pretty easy too, but getting Waldo the Magnificent’s signature was tougher. Wolf and I went in to talk to him (we had to sneak in the back while the others distracted the guard), but he wanted a rose mushroom, one of the rarest fungi around. They have to be grown in deep caves under strict conditions using special supplements only the elves can provide. I couldn’t just steal one, they are too important to the relationship between our clan and the elves.
While I really wanted to just charge off, I had to think of the clan first, so I went to find da. I explained the situation and he agreed to let us take a single mushroom except that we still had to get past the gardener, Odrek Rockfoot. Odrek is about as flexible as a piece of quartz and getting him to agree to let one of his precious ‘shrooms be used for something so frivolous would be impossible. We needed to sneak past his quarters, which meant going at night while he slept. By timing our approach with his snores and closing the door with the help of some fishing line, we had no problem getting in or getting the mushroom (and I made sure to take one from an area it wouldn’t be noticed). On the way out, we made sure to lock door behind us and drew the attention of a pesky spider. Since the spider was the size of a horse, we took the carcass up to the kitchens. I hear they taste a lot like lobster. Whatever a lobster is.
Somewhere in there we met with ma and she agreed that she would consider the matter. Would it have been so hard to just give us a minute when we first met her to tell us that?
Back at the circus the next morning, we gave the mushroom to Waldo who was so happy that he gave us all tickets to the show. It was quite fun, and I got some ideas for new uses for sleight of hand.
With the rest of the day to spend at the circus, we headed out to enjoy the it and ran into the members of Pegasus, with Guido looking for trouble. Fortunately after bribing Ox with a few tickets, Verona and Quinella weren’t exactly up for a fight so nothing happened. I did win a small stuffed dog for Tizzy, Wolf got something for his little sister Nalia.
After a day of playing games and buying as much food as we could, we returned back to the keep and gave Sparky her autograph book, which for some reason included Wolf’s signature.
The next day we talked to the folks and they were willing to sponsor one of the brothers. We also had visitors from the Hidden Valley, Ethan and Ally Crittenden, it turns out that the hag/witch responsible for turning the brothers into animals had kidnapped their children and had taken them to a gingerbread house (mmmm … gingerbread) and was about to cook them alive. On the other hand, if I find a gingerbread house I probably won’t be chowing down. No telling where the ingredients came from.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the sponsorship for Geo, Sardi and Beckum. The families of Lost Valley are joining together to sponsor one of them. We also managed to get of Rissa and Yari’s parents and they convinced the King in Milinar to sponsor another kid. So all three are taken care of. Oh, and Mr Crittenden is a blacksmith so he’s promised to make a magical suit of half-plate armor for Yari.