When I said that I might not be posting daily for a while, I’ll admit that I was thinking “I might miss a day or two here and there,” not “there will almost immediately be a nearly week-long dark period split up only by reassurances that I haven’t wandered away, I’m just really busy.” The .pdf text for Petals and Thorns is now locked in, though, and I don’t have any more deadlines to hit except to get the Pathfinder conversion done by the end of December so I can get it presentable by the end of January. That’s not a trivial task, but the deadline is generous enough that I will hopefully not be busy for several days straight anytime soon.
Now that we’ve taken care of the explanatory paragraph that people reading through the complete series in the future don’t care about, it’s time for…
Threadbare and Dark Threadbare are burying the raccants while Pulsivar hangs out. The soap thing from earlier comes up again: The familiar scent from when Pulsivar was a well-cared for pet and not a wild animal fighting for survival has a calming effect on him, so rubbing some on Dark Theadbare convinces Pulsivar to trust her (it also came up when Threadbare first reunited with him, but I couldn’t find a good place to mention it).
It was hard to tell, but he thought she looked sad. Had the raccants treated her well? She’d gotten that broken spade from somewhere, and the tiny knots in the twine that bound the fork to the remnants of the handle were small enough to be of raccant doing.
Perhaps it was best she didn’t know that he and Pulsivar had killed this bunch out front. Yes, that seemed wise. Threadbare was glad his wisdom was getting up to large numbers quickly, life would have been difficult or short without it.
I’m trying to figure out what this book is trying to say about Threadbare having completely wiped out these raccants and I’m coming up empty. Mordecai had a line in the previous book about specifically not doing this, but the reasoning behind it was incredibly discordant with his “wisdom of nature” paradigm.
Threadbare begins sorting through his cave loot. He gets a few stat boosts out of the deal, recovers one of Celia’s old stuffed animals/animated attack golems, and hands some weapons off to Dark Threadbare, but there’s also this:
The fourth item was a red octahedron the size of one of his paws, cool to the touch, and glowing with flickering green numbers. It looked very much like a miniature version of the the red crystal, that had been in the strange place with the green pillars and the blackness all around. He’d thought it a crystal for enchantment at first, but… the appraise hadn’t worked right. All it had turned up was the name of the item.
That translates to “dungeon seed class one,” although I’m not sure why this one’s in hexadecimal when the other one was in binary.
Threadbare also entrusts his little sister with the clown horn he got from the circus-themed boss gauntlet:
“Here, it does this.” Threadbare pressed his paws against the bulb of the horn, and squeezed.
She took it almost reverently. “So if you have to make noise—”
“Not all the time, please—”
HONK HONK HONK HONKITTY HONK HONKLY HONKS
Threadbare was starting to see a flaw in his plan.
Threadbare’s ability to deliver a joke certainly isn’t waning.
Our hero animates the recovered doll as a permanent toy golem so he doesn’t have to burn sanity on putting her on her feet every hour. She’s not a greater golem, though, so she isn’t sapient. Threadbare knows that very few golems are like him and little sister and most are like Emmett, but he wasn’t there when Caradon had his revelation about the nature of the greater golem spell, so he doesn’t know why they’re different. As such, he’s a little disappointed when the doll turns out non-sapient, even though he knew it was probably going to happen.
“Why are you like this?” Threadbare asked her in his tiny voice, and she didn’t answer. Missus Fluffbear, sensing his confusion, tried to cheer him up.
HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK—
She was interrupted, as a piercing scream shook the heavens. And before any of the little toys could react, a screaming eagle drawn by both the shriek of the horn and Fluffbear’s abysmal luck plummeted from the heavens and snatched her up, just like that!
This begins a string of random encounters brought on by Dark Theadbare’s abysmal luck score, which leads the party to the cemetery where the ancap vampire used to hang out. She’s not around, and Pulsivar runs off for bobcat mating season, which I’m mostly sure is just an excuse to get him out of the party while Threadbare follows his tracks to what’s left of Taylor’s Delve, the village where Celia’s friends (and, unfortunately, their mother) used to live. It’s all a wreck except for one tavern.
It was a big room inside, with a staircase going up to another floor. Candles lit the room, and a big bar filled the back of it, with stools lining the run of it. A mirror behind the bar had been thoroughly broken, and a pale man with overlarge fangs polished a glass.
At the tables, a rough-looking woman in a breastplate arm-wrestled a sturdy-looking man wearing a miller’s apron. They too were pale, and their fangs stuck out inches from their lips as they grinned at each other.
So if it’s a vampire bar then presumably they’re serving blood. Where do they get the blood, though? If the gravestones are any indication, the ancap vampire killed her victims, but is that because vampires can’t drink sustainably in this setting, or because she just had a general habit of killing anyone who stumbled into her graveyard?
There’s no one passage I can quote to demonstrate, which is too bad, because I’m not sure how much of the vibe I got from the next scene was just me. There’s loud screaming coming from upstairs, and for a bit I thought maybe these vampires were holding the ancap vampire hostage and Threadbare was going to have to shank them. The vampires are all getting suspicious that Threadbare might be an adventurer, what with all his class levels and such, and then:
“You!” A voice squealed, and Threadbare turned, to see the mysterious girl he’d met so long ago! She still wore the green-and-poka-dotted scarf around her head, but now she had a ragged black dress to go with it, and some big black boots that stomped as she charged him, scooping him up into a hug. “Mistah beah! Gahd, it’s been so lahng, how ah yah?”
Sew You Want To Be A Hero has so far not had Stuff and Nonsense’s problems with pace or with dialogue, but apparently we’ve still got the accents. Also, I say it doesn’t have the problem with pace, but things are beginning to feel a bit aimless since he rescued Dark Threadbare. Threadbare has a pretty clear to-do list when the book started: Save Dark Threadbare from the raccants, figure out what happened to the half-orcs, and find Celia. Now that he’s finished objective the first, he’s just aimlessly wandering, though. Which is weird, because the obvious thing to do would be for him to try and start tracking down the half-orcs right here in Taylor’s Delve where he ends up anyway, since that’s the only lead he has on them or Celia (except asking someone where the evil King Melos lives, which is also something he’d be able to do in Taylor’s Delve – provided it hadn’t been pillaged, but it’s the only village Threadbare knows about, so hoping it’s been resettled is a perfectly good lead to follow).
There’s some kind of spooky free-for-all going on in the area, but since the clearly untrustworthy vampires (one of them uses a class skill to deceive Threadbare despite obvious falsehoods) are the source of the information, it’s a bit hard to keep track of what’s going on. The vampires are at war with a cat queen, who is allegedly killing the cats (the narrative makes it clear that the vampires are actually responsible for the cat murder), but there’s a ghost witch cursing their “most powerful fighter,” without which they can’t defeat the cat queen. They talk Threadbare into killing the ghost witch so that they can kill the cat queen, “save” Pulsivar, and coincidentally end up the last spooks standing.
“If only someone could go out and kill that ghost witch,” The bartender said, clapping his hands to his chest. “Someone who didn’t have life to be drained away by her shuddering touch, or dead flesh that withered at her grasp…”
“I could do that!” Threadbare said, completely buying into the narrative.
Impressed, the Grifter and his master shared a glance. They didn’t even have to offer a quest!
“Yeah, let’s talk about that. My name’s Madeline, by the way. What’s yahs?”
Oh, good, we finally got a name for Ancapula, just about a full book after she was first introduced.