Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Eighteen: Who is dumber, the voted or the voter?



Maybe it was the stress of putting together a community.

Maybe it was watching Grayson flip a cot with a flick of his fingers… while he was sitting ten feet away. (Thank gods no one else saw it.)

Maybe… maybe I'm just a nincompoop who's better suited to guarding cockroach cupboards.

I'm not sure what did it, but today was absolutely HORRIBLE.

I've been struggling with proper assembly of Pubton since day one. Just when things seem to be going well, people argue over priorities. I'm hard pressed to argue back, 'cause I can't figure out what's more important. Working the fields? Raising the animals? Building the houses? Establishing trade? Setting down laws and taxation and economical shite like that? I bop all over the board from day to day, and though my constituents are sometimes content with my orders and requests, they just as often ignore me and go about their normal business.

Take yesterday as an example. After I'd extracted myself from the realm of the rats, I went back to work. I'd decided that the watermill for grinding crops should take precedence, and I ordered five labourers to work on the foundation of the building. They would have to dredge up some rocks from the river or find a quarry or something to get started.

One worker, precious, happy-go-lucky Morris, agreed. He'd already finished with his cows for the day. The rest absolutely did not. They argued, saying the houses were more important than a watermill that would be frozen solid in two months. Then one said HIS house was most important because he was going to be the town tanner, and that sparked a debate with a passing noble who INSISTED that he have his personal quarters completed first. It ended in a fistfight, and nobody worked on the watermill.

And they were right not to. The watermill would be useless in the winter. Doi.

I stayed up much of the night in the pub's kitchen, where I could get some privacy, fretting over what the rats had said and attempting to draw out a Civic Progression Plan. Y'know, some formal document that would outline what, where, and when we would do things over the next couple months. This would not be a suggestion, it would be a cemented strategy with a big, official name.

I presented the plan to everyone today. It… didn't go over well.

"What the hell are you on about?!" Lonnie the Noble shouted from the roiling crowd surrounding the golden tree, jabbing a finger at me with the verve of a master swordsman. "You can't put everyone on a single project at a time! That's idiotic! You need to spread out the workforce!"

"Yeah!" yelled a peasant whom I couldn't identify. "Ain't no use puttin' lumberjacks on farm duty! Leave that to th'bloody farmers! 'n why the hell should tillin' the fields come afore buildin' houses?!"

"We need food!" I insisted, looking desperately for Robert, thinking the town's cook might raise a hand in agreement. "I'm sure you all don't want to eat grass soup forever -"

"I'm tired of sleeping in a tiny cot!" Robert bellowed, crushing my hope for support. "Me 'n Bora are jammed together every night -"

"Oh, yeah, complain about bein' squished up with that darlin', hey, you wanna give her up, I'll be a pair of warm arms -"

"Yeah? Yeah? How's about I show you MY warm arms, see how much you like a fist to the face -"

"Enough!" I shouted, trying to infuse my voice with the same spastic energy I'd used the week before, stomping on the ground. "Enough, enough, enough!"

It didn't work. Fights were breaking out everywhere. The overriding theme behind the Civic Progression Plan, bringing everyone together as a single community, had failed. Too many self-interested bastards forced it into failure.

"You're incompetent!" a noble shouted, shortly before his scraggly ruff disappeared into the crowd. "Incompetent, incompe -"

Libby pulled me away from the golden tree, out of harm's way. I was too stunned at the effect of political decision-making on this crowd of normally nice folks to protect myself. Barrel, who'd been watching from the boughs of the tree - he really likes that thing - swooped down, turned into a dragon the size of a grizzly, and delivered us from the crowd. Once we were safely out he turned to full size, roared, and brought everyone under control.

I hid the rest of the day, relegating my normal tasks to Harold, whom I've more or less hired as my personal assistant. I was too humiliated by the utter failure of my plan to show my face. Grayson kept me company as I sat in the rat warrens, staring at the roots.

King Jeffrey never faced disobedience like this while he was in charge. I mean, he did eventually, but for several years he ran his tyrannical kingdom without many peeps of complaint from the populace. His decisions were a HELL of a lot worse than mine.

How'd he do it?

I keep coming back to one word to answer that question.

Fear.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Mayor

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Seventeen: It's that darned plot again


Holy crap, diary. The rats made themselves comfortable in a damned hurry. A DAMNED hurry. And they're already back to their old tricks.

I didn't mention them at all yesterday, you may have noticed, and that's 'cause I didn't see them. Not a single peep from those furry little buggers. I wasn't surprised; they were probably busy setting up their new accommodations in the town somewheres. I figured it best not to tell everyone that the town is now home to a horde of super-intelligent vermin, and I'll keep that secret 'til the rats decide to show themselves in earnest.

Well, they DID show themselves. Today. To me. They've already been hella busy. I'd say their new home is even better developed than aboveground Pubton.

I was approached by one of the rats shortly after a visit to Morris' dairy farm. Morris is a friendly dude, and I like chatting with him while he brushes and feeds the cows. The rat crawled onto my shoulder as soon as I was he of sight, tugged on my ear to announce its presence, and, after picking itself up off the ground - yeah, I mighta freaked a bit - it guided me to some tall grass on the edge of town.

Wish it'd been more specific regarding where I should walk, though. I fell right into the giant hole the rats had somehow burrowed in the dirt.

I slid, the rat scurrying in after me. When I got my bearings I realized that I was in a narrow, but not too narrow, series of tunnels. They snaked this way and that, leading to dead ends and other entrances set up in a wide circle around the town's perimeter. I had to bite my lip to avoid crying out in horror, as the walls reminded me entirely too much of the hole where I died.

The rat, waving me ahead, led me through the darkness -

- down, down, around, along a weaving path -

- towards a golden light -

- and when I reached said light, I gasped most mightily. I was staring at the roots of the golden tree.

Up top, the golden tree isn't much bigger than a normal elm. Only way it stands out is 'cause it's golden, which is a hell of a way to stand out. Below the tree, however, the shining roots are absolutely MASSIVE, thickening considerably once they get under the dirt and spreading far deeper into the earth than I could hope to see. They also snake out in all directions horizontally, and in and under these roots the rats have made their new home, a series of naturally-formed dens and holes in the tree that look quite comfortable. Not quite as nice or developed as what they had back in the castle, but definitely impressive.

My guide steered me to a clearing in the roots where most of the rats waited. He joined the pack, they formed up into a cluster, and Philip appeared in their midst. He looked more annoyed than anguished this time, and far less human.

"Hey, Dragomir," he said, sneering as he waved. "The little pricks have a message for you."

I gawked. "Cripes. Philip? That you? Like, actually you?"

"Yeah." He paused to dig at his ghostly nose. "They used up a lot of juice makin' this dumb hole. I get to talk for myself for once. Great afterlife, innit?"

I nodded, slowly, tugging at my tunic. "Uh, yeah, sure. Hey, look, I'm sorry -"

"Ahh, shut up." Philip looked away. "What's done is done. Can't change it, not like with you, I guess. Not EVERYBODY has a save game."

"A what?"

"They want ya to know what's happening," Philip cut in. "They wanna tell you some stuff. 'bout the shadow things."

My throat tightened. I'd been fearing this. The bubble that had built up around my efforts - finding a place to live, settling in, creating a community, living like a happy family - faltered and burst. It was time to return to reality, crappy, shady reality, the reality where I'd fucking died on the point of my daughter's sword.

"What are they?" I asked, looking more at the rats than Philip.

"They're imbalance," Philip muttered. "They're things that weren't meant to exist. The creators locked 'em away, these little bastards tell me, and some treacherous asshole defied their wishes and set the lot loose on the world."

"The Baron." My fists clenched.

Philip shook his head. "Nah. I mean, yeah, more or less, but nah. Not the first time. Something else set 'em loose the first time."

"The first time? This's happened before?"

Philip sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his wavering fingers. "Look, hell, I'll just let you talk to them. It's easier. They keep tellin' me not to say things, 'n it's bugging me. Stand by, here they come."

Philip went rigid, his face slackening and his mouth dropping open. I knew the look. Poor guy, he used to be so nice when he was alive. Death really changes a man.

"Dragomir," he said, and his voice was now overlapped by a thousand other voices, "they are the chaos of this world. They come from beyond, from a pocket of the void, where they were meant to remain for all time - because all they can do is destroy. They are imbalance, and we are balance. Do you understand?"

"Not hardly, no."

Philip paused, the rats twitching beneath his face, as if in contemplation. "Very well. We understand that our language is abstract -"

"Then why don't you talk plain, for once?" I felt a headache coming on. I'd forgotten that rats could be so wonderfully cryptic. Guess they were like that even before The Baron was fucking with their brains.

"- so we will simply tell you that you are on the right path. This community is the base of a great wave that will rise up and smother the darkness, one day, and restore balance to the world. All you need to do is build that wave… and when the time comes, lead it to victory."

That really got me going. "Oh, come on! You don't mean to say that I'm stuck in this destiny shit AGAIN, do you? Are you gonna mess up my life? I want things to be normal! I'm not a fucking leader, no more'n a mayor! I can't lead anyone to victory, or whatever! Just leave me alone!"

"We can't," the rats concluded as Philip faded. "The fate of the coming war is in your hands."

I muddled over that, cursing in the glow of the tree's roots, punching the ground. I'd been caught by destiny again, and I was fuming over the fact that the damned rats were the ones delivering the message. AGAIN.

I fumed for a moment longer before asking one last question. "Can you at least tell me what I should work on next? I can't make up my mind."

Philip didn't form, but his voice, caught by the rats, spoke out in the darkness. "Sorry, we don't understand the human concept of residential planning. Your homes are silly."

BAH,

Dragomir the Mayor

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Sixteen: Make up your minds



By the gods, we actually have a town underway. And I'm excited.

There's more than just the pub and the golden tree, here, now. We have pens and shelters for animals, and the rebuilt bases of several houses, and plans for a water wheel to power a mill, and the beginnings of roads connecting everything, and… and… people. People WORKING. People NETWORKING. People getting ALONG.

Kinda.

The pub's become something of a stifling place to live. Though two of the recent newcomers appeared with their own wagons, most folks need cots. We're running out of room, and when people don't have room, they get grumpy. There's still plenty of friction between the nobles, who think they deserve their own rooms and luxurious accommodations and such, and the peasants, who would at least like somewhere private to flop each night. There's so much fighting over the rooms upstairs that I won't even get started on discussing 'em. Libby and me don't get a room to ourselves, and I'm the freaking mayor.

So we need to expand. And we are expanding! Slowly, by rural standards, but we're getting stuff done. Barrel's become a great help in felling trees, 'cause he can push 'em over, and Libby's working overtime turning the trees into planks with her tools. She's got a team of four in-training carpenters who are shaping up nicely, and she plans on leaving them to the felling so she can tinker with traps. She's anxious to brew up another technical monstrosity like the Matriarch.

Man. I wonder if she could turn Pubton into a rolling town. That would be AWESOME.

Problem is… though we're expanding… I have the feeling that we're not doing it right. You know? I studied other towns, other villages, but I don't really know how to make one myself. There are so many things to consider, and I don't wanna mess up on town planning. These people need me, and, well, I need them too. So I called for a town meeting around the golden tree to discuss what direction we should be taking as we progress. What do the people think is important, and how should we implement that thing so it's not buggered up?

Shoulda known what would happen. Everybody had different opinions, and those opinions sparked arguments.

"Keep building houses!"

"Make the pub bigger!"

"Build a distillery!"

"I want an outhouse! I'm tired of pooping in front of everyone!"

"Make a hat store!"

"No, we need ditches!"

"The farms aren't producing any crops! Let's make some crops!"

"You can't just make crops!"

"Sure you can! Build some flowers or whatever!"

"You're an idiot!"

"We need a nursery!"

"A bakery!"

"A brewery!"

"That's the same as a distillery!"

"You take that back, ya wino!"

Squabbling. Barrel set things to right by stomping his massive foot and roaring. Didn't resolve any of the arguments, but it shut everyone up. Maybe I should make him Libby's deputy, if she becomes sheriff.

No consensus, no progress. After the meeting people went back to doing whatever they were doing before, either building houses or setting up pens or complaining that the weather is too damned brisk for this time of year, even though it's just about right for October. Sometimes we're a big, joyful family, others we're a more realistic kind of family.

The pub brought us together. We were all happy doing that. Now everybody's settling back into their cliques, or whatever, and work is slipping into sloppiness. We need something that'll unify the lot of us… or maybe I need to get more bossy and tell people what they need to be doing, rather than asking if they need any help…

Hrm. I need help. Seems like I ALWAYS need help.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Mayor

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Fifteen: That's not so baaaah-d



Oooooooooh. THAT makes sense. I guess. On multiple levels. Things were actually EXPLAINED, today, diary, and everything ended well! That's so RARE for a Friday, that I'd end the week on such a happy note!

Libby had more or less given up on surveying the valley. She was too busy cutting down trees and training people to make plank boards to go for another romp. I begged and I pleaded for her to come along one last time, but, nope. Everybody else was busy, as well, so I was left to go on my own -

- 'cept for my lovely son. Good old (young?) Grayson.

This whole week, Grayson's been handled by a string of babysitters. His mother's surrendered her death grip on his fate, and he's happily passed hands from one person to the next. Everyone was too busy to take him today, though, and while I made my rounds and checked on the overall progress of Pubton's construction efforts, he was in my backpack. So when I ventured into the forest, on my own, he was with me.

I will admit that this was a risky move. Probably something that could have come back to haunt me. Grayson may have… powers… which he may have used to blow my hat off my head a dozen times… but he's still just a baby. Nasty things with teeth and claws can hurt him. There aren't many nasty things IN the forest, grant you, but this still wasn't a wise move. Nevertheless, it happened, and all was well in the end.

I made it much deeper into the forest today before anything stopped me in my tracks. Hell, I was on the edge of the valley, looking down into the tree-filled bowl at the centre of the forest, noticing that, yes, there were many different trees here, when the steady tread of hooved feet caught my ear. 

I didn't bother to hide. I could tell it was another long line of animals, and when the first white head peaked into view, I recognized it immediately. Goats. I like goat's milk, and haven't had it in years, so I was totally cool with that.

Thing is, the goats weren't alone. There were… shapes… wriggling objects… on their shaggy coats. Crawling along then, hopping from one goat to the next, rather like ticks on a dog. But these, these were oversized ticks… familiar ticks… sharp-eyed, scraggly-furred, communal ticks…

Grayson cooed loudly, laughed and clapped, peering over my shoulder and pointing at the goats with one chubby finger. "Rats," he burbled, "rats, rats."

He was right. The first goat came to a stop before me, and perched on its head was a thin, shrewd rat, standing on two legs and staring at me. It nodded, and I nodded back, and a big, stupid grin broke my face in two. I nearly hugged the rat before realizing that I would squish the poor bugger into oblivion.

More rats came, pooling around the lead goat and forming a small mountain of joined tails. I could tell by their patchy fur and white coats that they were the survivors from the castle who'd fled Kierkegaard's purge. They stretched, their tiny limbs flailing, and the air above them whirled - there was a howl and a pop -

- and the head of Philip appeared. Philip the Ghost, the man I'd so long ago gotten killed.

Philip, as always when controlled by the rats, looked strained. His face was stuck halfway between ghostly and realistic, a strange, tortured blob with wobbly eyes and a gaping mouth. Philip spoke to me, the rats guiding his voice, and my heart fluttered nervously with each word.

"Dragomir," he said, "we are here. At last. Did you… miss us?"

I smiled shakily. "Uh, yeah. I guess so. Glad you made it out in… kinda… one piece…"

Philip nodded, the image wavering. "We are still weak. We expended much of our power getting out… and then more… more…"

"Getting here?" I offered.

Philip paused, ghostly teeth gnawing on ghostly lips. "Yes. Getting out. Es… escaping. We travelled… we hid… we tried to multiply, though without much success… The Baron's influence left our powers strained… we need a new place to call home… will you offer us sanctuary? We come bearing gifts…"

One of the rats distractedly waved towards the goats. I nodded, scratching the head of the lead goat. It, like the rest of the pack behind it, looked spooked. No surprise - Philip's a disconcerting dude at the best of times.

"Sure." I beckoned them back to the village. "Everybody's welcome in Pubton. C'mon, I'll get ya set up with something. Man, how'd you guys come all this way, you're so small -"

I turned, headed back towards town, and ran face-first into a nose I totally had not realized was there. A big, scaly, reptilian nose, pleasantly dry save for a few idle boogers. A tongue erupted out of its mouth, catching me square in the face and knocking my hat aside.

Barrel. Full-sized and beaming at me. He'd left Goblinoster, after seeing my wife and friends to safety, to find the rats. 

I cried, honest and true.

I led everyone back to Pubton, Barrel hovering in his tiny form at my side, playing with Grayson. The community, those who recognized Barrel, accepted him with open arms. A new farmer led the goats away to a pen, and the rats… well, to be honest, the rats pretty much vanished. Disappeared into the grass surrounding the pub, the woodpiles, the farms that are slowly but surely appearing. I haven't heard from them since, nor seen Philip at all, but it's just a matter of time. I know it.

When they do pop up again, I want some answers.

Playin' with my dragon buddy,

Dragomir the Mayor

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Fourteen: How Mooving


HoLY crap. We now officially have more animals than we do people living in or around Pubton. Today's unexplained flock confirms it.

You know the drill, diary. We went into the woods to survey the valley. Didn't get there. Stopped by animals that seemed strangely obedient to our whims. Wasn't boars this time, though, nor chickens, but COWS. A fucking FLOCK of COWS.

(What do you call a group of cows? Is there a name? I bet there is, but I don't know what it might be offhand. I'll just call it an 'udder'. Yeah. An udder of cows. Sounds right.)

I was… hesitant… to let in the cows. You may not remember this, diary, but I've had a bad experience with a cow. Or, more precisely, a bull. Remember when I wrote about that bull ripping off my dad's arm? I do. I did it while I was surrounded by zombies, stuck in that tree on the plains. A billion years ago, that, but my fear of big horns is as strong as ever.

There were two bulls in this udder. Two bulls, thirteen cows. All of them were nice animals, like the boars and the chickens, but I didn't enjoy leading them back to Pubton. I was certain that I'd be run up a tree or gored at any minute. Didn't happen, but that doesn't mean it won't.

Oh, and, yeah, there was another farmer waiting, a dairy farmer. No less than Morris, one of my old guard buddies! Good to see he got out of the castle in one piece. Nice guy, that Morris, and now he's Morris the Farmer. Hope he's better at that than guarding - was only one rung higher from the bottom of the guarding pole than me. Because, ah, I WAS the bottom. Sigh.

With the udder secured, the survey abandoned and most of the town at work felling redwood trees and making new boards, I decided it was time to meet with someone who has a track record of controlling animals. Didn't take much aimless wandering in the forest before she found me.

"Mayor's slacking? Tut, tut," June said, dropping out of a tree and floating to the earth with an umbrella over her head. "Shouldn't you be doin' something practical, young man? Or do I have to give that floppy hat and those silly socks to someone else?"

I frowned and reflexively tugged on my socks. I rather like how they look, now. I feel distinguished. "You hush. I'm here on business. I need to ask you about something."

"Ooooooh!" June swept behind a tree with surprising agility, considering she uses a cane, and vanished - but her voice kept going. "Business, eh? Business. How official. You almost sound like a leader. Orders, commands, decrees, all these are second nature to Dragomir. If'n I didn't know better, I might think you're tryin' to tell me what to do, brat."

I stiffened. "N… no. Wouldn't… dream of that. I, uh, just wanted…"

"… to know about the animals?" June asked, somewhere behind my back. I whirled around but she wasn't there. "Yes, that is a bit of a strange topic. Animals, aminals, aliminals, here there and everywhere. Whatever will little Dragomir do with all this from-the-blue charity?"

I waited. Didn't say a word.

"Awww, is the little resurrected boy sulking? What are ya, five?" This from far above.

Silence. I was tired of her weird games.

Sighing, June appeared at last. She stepped out from behind the original tree and jabbed me in the back with her cane. "You're no fun. The burdens of politics have turned you into a stick-in-the-mud. 'n not like the GOLDEN stick in the mud I planted when we got here. How's my tree doin'?"

"Fine," I said shortly. And it was. "Can, um, can you answer about the animals? Please?"

"Sure." June shrugged. "I dunno where they're comin' from. T'ain't me that's driving them. I have my suspicions…"

"Oh…?"

"… but they're not confirmed. Best not spread rumours that might be wrong, eh?" She cackled, shrugged again, and turned to leave.

"Wait!" I tried to grab her by the shoulder, but something wriggled in her hair and I pulled back. Gross. "Can't you give me a hint, or…?"

June shook her head. "Nope. Not much point, if'n I be wrong. I'd suggest you come out here one more time tomorrow, though, Dragomir - your answer will probably be waitin' for ya."

She slipped behind the tree and vanished. I didn't see her again that day, but I did hear one last thing, in response to my final question.

"Wait!" I called. "Again! Wait! Uh, wondering, how's Robert? The librarian, y'know? We have a bed set up for him, 'n… can he come out yet?"

June tittered, her voice cracked, dry and humourless, not much different from the old leaves under my feet. "Get a library set up first. Then we'll talk."

Her voice floated off, carried by the wind. Gone. As expected, not at all helpful, as I'd planned on coming out again tomorrow anyway.

Gah. Mysteries. I hate mysteries.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Surveyor

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Thirteen: Fowl Afoot



WHAAAAAT THE HEEEEEELL

The boars of yesterday - remember the boars, diary? - are fitting in nicely. When we do see them, they're either greeting we human members of the community or keeping watch over the amateur loggers whom Libby has appointed to start bringing down redwood trees. Damn mighty fine of them, assuming they don't have a hidden agenda. 

And they have friends. More friends. Feathery friends. Friends we met while AGAIN surveying the forest.

Grylock's been having too much fun riding around on his boar pal, so he agreed to come with Libby 'n me when we made another stab at the valley. I'd spent the rest of yesterday trying to deal with the boars and the new farmers, and we'd run out of daylight before we could continue the survey. Another day, another babysitter for Grayson, another foray into the wilderness. 

(No Edmund this time, though. He stayed at the counter of the pub, talking to Bora. SEE, they ARE meant to be together. Shove my dumb brother outta the picture, he's WAY too pale.

Sorry, bro. That's kinda mean. You'll never read this, though, so I'll say what I want. Yaha! You smell like onions and feet! Take THAT, you overweight slug!)

We got a little bit further into the forest than we did the previous day, perhaps half a kilometre away from the valley. Then, again, we heard the interminable shuffle of many feet on the wet leaves. 

We hid. We listened. Grylock nudged his boar into hiding behind a log while he tipped his nose into the air and sniffed. Sniff, sniff, sniff… sniiiiiff… his mouth dropped open… drool…

"Grylock?" I whispered, a little panicked. "What're you…?"

"CHICKENS!" Grylock yelled. He spurred his boar onward, charging into the trees and towards the massive line of feathery brown and white that was winding through the forest. "CHICKENS CHICKENS CHICKENS!"

The birds scattered as the boar ran into their midst. Grylock, flopping off the back of his mount, jumped at the nearest chicken. His drool dripped on the ground. "Oh dear gods, it's been so long, so many shitty meals, c'mere, you delectable, you!"

Running after him, Libby grabbed Grylock and held him in the air while he swiped for the spooked animals. Most of the chickens ran over to me, clustering around my feet and clucking nervously as they watched the goblin flail and swear. For some reason I promised that Grylock wouldn't get them, and bless their hearts, they seemed to believe me.

So.

Yeah.

We now have chickens.

And another farmer. Says he specializes in poultry. Where do these people COME from?

And the animals, for that matter? Boars migrating through a forest, sure, I get that. But chickens? In the wild? Who's ever heard of that? They're strictly domestic birds. They also don't migrate. Why was a big flock of 'em walking through a forest where they could easily get picked off by predators like, um, Grylock, I guess? It makes no sense.

We're gonna try this surveying thing one more time tomorrow. Libby's determined to get into that damned valley. Right now she's too busy building a fence to keep the chickens contained, and I'm all for it. Dutiful though these chickens may be, I'm kinda looking forward to a nice, meaty dinner.

Om.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Surveyor

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day Three--Hundred-Twelve: What a Boar



Hey, diary? Remember how I came across a bear in the woods a few days ago? And it was rather a pleasant fellow? Turns out it's not the only creature out there to sport goodwill towards mankind.

As you may recall, Libby asked for a survey of the trees nearby. We need to figure out if they're appropriate for buildin' 'n stuff, and Grylock, Ed and me agreed to go along and defend her in case of trouble. Because, y'know, a bent goblin, a thin-limbed bard and a wimpy mayor are good bodyguards for a buff carpenter who single-handedly fought her way into, and out of, a castle full of monsters.

While pregnant.

Yeah. My wife, she is a tough douche.

We set out shortly after lunch, a scrumptious meal of deep-fried leaves covered in maple syrup. The noble with the animal hats took on the job of babysitting Grayson, as Libby was opposed to taking him into the forest, and the last I saw of the little tyke before we got back was a glimpse of the woman's hat floating off her head while Grayson pointed and laughed.


SO YEAH, into the forest we went. Libby took the lead, Grylock stuck to the rear, Ed and I wedged ourselves into the middle. We are unabashed cowards, 'specially when we're accompanied by a brute of a woman and a goblin who may or may not be some kind of assassin-diplomat. (Seriously, I saw Grylock peg a bird in mid-flight with a blow gun the other day. He's good.)

The forest was much as it had been the last time we visited, the leaves falling and the trees growing high over us. Libby seemed pleased almost immediately upon entering, as redwoods are apparently great for construction material. These ones were also in great condition, still relatively young and strong. She figured we'd have no trouble making a village out of 'em.

Could we make EVERYTHING out of them? Of course not. Not according to Libby. She's a connoisseur, y'see, and she likes a nice variety of woods in her furniture. She'd long ago pounded it into me that not all woods are equal: some are hard and sturdy, some soft and pliable, some aromatic, some smelly as shit, some pleasing to the eye, some purely practical. I dunno what the difference is between any of 'em, so I smile and nod and let her have her way.

Ed, uh, tried to argue that we needn't be so picky. She caught him one in the gut. Poor guy, he woofed so painfully. You don't tell Libby that trees are all the same, you just don't.

You may recall, diary, that the forest is on a bit of a slope. A shaded valley runs through the middle of it, and the trees get much denser the further in you go. Libby figured there must be some different trees further in, so she wanted to take a long trip into the valley to see what was available. Fine, dear, lead on.

… only we didn't get that far. We were stopped long before we hit the valley, stopped by a most unexpected sight that forced us to head back to Pubton.

We'd halted for a pee break - Grylock drinks WAY too much, and is always having to piss - when Edmund, strumming on his magical growing lute, suddenly pointed through the trees.

"There! There! 'tis wild movement over yonder! /
Let's hide, let's go, there isn't time to ponder!"

Ed and I ducked behind trees. Libby craned her neck to get a better look at whatever Ed had spotted, not caring enough to hide. Grylock came for a look as well, forgetting to lace up, and we all had to yell at him. Gods, he was still dripping. What a foul little man.

A few tense seconds later, we heard the light tread of feet on wet leaves. Grylock, sneaking forward a few paces, lifted his nose and sniffed. His eyebrow went up, and he looked back at us, lip twisting upward in what I imagine was bewildered confusion. 

"What is it?" I whispered.

"Uh…" He took another sniff. "A whole lotta wet fur?"

More movement ahead. The footsteps got louder, more pronounced, more numerous, accompanied by light squeals and snorts and hard breaths. We began to edge away, Edmund taking the lead, back towards Pubton -

- and then the first boar broke out of the trees ahead, its knobby snout sliding out from behind a redwood. It was sniffing the ground carefully, rooting through the leaves with its tusks. It rounded the tree, followed by another, smaller, perhaps younger. And behind that another. And another. And another. All carefully slipping through the forest in a long, graceful conga line, holding one another's tails in their mouths, as if to keep from getting lost.

Libby tried to duck behind a tree, perhaps finally sensing that boars were not to be trifled with. She was too late, though, and the lead boar spotted her leg. It lifted its head and squealed, and the whole pack went stiff. After several seconds of hesitation and careful observation, they charged.

But… politely so. Excitedly.

The boars, still in a line, trotted gaily through the forest, snorting happily as they came towards us. I swear the one at the head of the pack was smiling with that big, ugly mouth. It wandered up to Libby's hiding spot and nudged at her leg, presenting its furry ears. Carefully, after a moment of consideration - she'd been wondering whether or not to punch the beast - Libby reached down and scratched behind one ear. It purred.

What. The. Hell.

We left the forest that day with two-dozen boars at our heels, every one of them prancing merrily. The one in front even allowed Grylock to ride on its back. When we reached the outskirts of town we found three farmers waiting for us, all newcomers, who'd heard about our boars… and wanted to rear them for us, in exchange for a part of the community. How in the hell…?

I… I don't know what's happening today. We now have a population of boars living with us, for NO REAL REASON that I can figure out, and they're already cared for by farmers. Granted, most of the 'care' comes from the forest, 'cause one of the farmers told me that boars can be left to forage on their own, and only need occasional attention… but… still…

Still… 

What the helllllllll…?

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Surveyor

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Eleven: Trade you Booze for Wood



Wow. This pub is really working. We've got eight new people already! That's fantastic!

Newcomers have been trickling into Pubton throughout the day, one-by-one, always on the lookout for a drink. I don't know what it is about the pub that brings them in, but only one of them has since left, so I think this might be a good recipe for building the town. We're having trouble finding wood and blankets to make new cots, but we'll work on that. Don't you worry.

Besides! Two of the newcomers are MERCHANTS! That's good news, diary. One came in with a backpack busting at the seams with goodies, and the other showed up in a small wagon. Both have decided to set up post in the pub and sell people stuff, the one guy operating out of his cart in the evening. I recognize 'em both, as they used to live in Jeffrey's old castle. Remember? Logan ordered them all away when he was losing his mind? They've come back! In a sense! Yay!

Now, if only LOGAN would come back. Wonder where he is, these days… him 'n his mom 'n his sister… Jeffrey's free to rot in hell, but the rest…

I have to admit, I don't have much time to think about the old days. I'm too busy. Crafting a town is a lot of work. I'm either ordering people to do stuff or helping them do it. I try not to give orders for things I wouldn't be willing to do myself, 'n that keeps most folks satisfied. Hopefully it'll motivate the nobles to pitch in. I won't hold my breath on that hope, 'cause I'd die on the first try, but… I can hope.

Ahhh. So busy. Not like my old life. Guarding… all I did was stand around. Managed to get into some wacky adventures nevertheless, but… standing… standing. Preeeeeetty dull. Yet… still somehow better… never thought I'd miss getting an earful from Cedric each morning, a violent reminder from his fists that snoozing in the fish barrels ain't proper decorum…

Anyway! Enough reminiscing. All that stuff's passed, swallowed up by an unimaginable darkness of hatred and loathing and shit. You know the drill, diary. Gotta stop the evil, gotta save my daughter, yadda yadda. I know I sound pretty ho-hum about a serious issue, but there's only so many ways you can talk about this stuff before it gets stale. Diary is about NEWS; let's try 'n keep it that way.

Being a genius of social interaction, Bora installed something else in the pub that she thinks will bring attention to our bustling burg: a job board. She called it a 'quest' board, I'll grant you, but it really just amounts to a little posting spot where people can nail up requests, general mail from other town, and news bulletins. There're already a few small postings, mainly from workers looking for a bit of help in starting up farms or building houses or whatnot.

WHICH BRINGS US TO MY NEXT MAJOR POINT! In a sense the whole TOWN has a request, a need that must be fulfilled: we need wood. Lotsa wood. Almost every scrap of the stuff we had went into building the pub, and though people enjoy living in there, we all know that warm, fuzzy, communal sentiment won't last. We need actual homes, as well as buildings for shops and services. Y'know, blacksmiths and tanners and stuff. And while it's true that we've got lotsa trees nearby, what with there bein' a big forest surrounding us and all…

… we don't know if those trees are appropriate for building. I'd figure that one tree is as good as the next; Libby says that ain't so at all. I'll just agree with her.

SO! Tomorrow, Libby, Grylock, Ed 'n I are heading out into the forest to survey the trees. See if they're appropriate for puttin' together a town. We probably shoulda done this FIRST, buuuuuut June didn't give us much choice in the matter. If this doesn't work, I guess we'll have to trade for lumber with somebody else. Not my favourite choice, but we'll do what we must do.

Eesh. Hope we don't accidentally cut down June's new house, wherever it is. She'd kill us. Or turn us into newts or squirrels or spiders or something. Huh, wonder if that's where Julius came from…

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Surveyor

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Ten: Welcome to...?



We now have two things, diary, two very important things in this town, one of which I'd barely even considered up to this point!

Last night, after meeting with my advisors (Edmund 'n Grylock 'n Harold, while Libby played with Grayson and listened with one ear), I called a town meeting. I wanted everyone to get together, by the golden tree, right after dinner, to discuss a matter of importance. And, because everybody LOVES that damned tree, they all agreed. Even June and little Julius turned out!

Once I'd determined that everyone was there who was likely to show up (Grylock stayed in the wagon 'cause he'd started drinking too early that day), I climbed up on a pile of unused wooden planks and addressed the crowd. Then I fell OFF the planks, cursed a few times, told Edmund and Harold to hold the planks nice 'n straight so they wouldn't fall over again, and ACTUALLY addressed the crowd.

"My fellows!" I cried, turning carefully so I could see everyone without tumbling onto my butt. "We have been divided 'n stuff! That's bad! We need to be brought together or this town's gonna go shit-wise, like King Gok said! You don't want him to be right, do you? He was a prick!"

I threw my fist up at that last word. Most people agreed with me, some because they were genuinely annoyed at King Gok's long imprisonment of us, and others because they liked throwing their fists in the air.

"Right! We're gonna come together as a group and make this town, and we're gonna start that the way we shoulda: by making a single, LARGE building we can all live in! Like that stupid castle, 'cept without traps and shit!"

"Can we have traps eventually?" one noble yelled back. "I rather liked the Neck!"

"Of course!" I answered. "Better traps, even! Ones that are safe for us!"

The crowd cheered. I smirked, half because they were happy, and half because they'd gone along with the plan without realizing it. Most of them were busy thinking about all the awesome traps we'd some day install. I get the feeling the value of a home in this world is based on the number of traps set out around it.

Work began immediately. The workers set to pulling the piss-poor frameworks they'd started on down, pooling all of the wood and nails and tools together in one giant mass. Then, following instructions from Bora, who'd made this suggestion in the first place, they began laying out a new, large, multi-level building on the edge of the river, well within sight of the golden tree.

Work continued the next day, after most of the remaining wagons had been dismantled. Under Libby's undivided supervision, the labourers - who now included a couple nobles, yes, even they pitched in through small gestures - put up a base, and walls, and floors, and stairs, and more floors, and more walls, and some doors, and, eventually, a roof. They also included a long set of counters, and they brought in some rough stones pulled from the river to make a nice spot for Robert to cook.

Why counters? Why a nice spot for Robert to cook? Oh, it's so simple, diary: we made a PUB. A giant, live-in pub, where all of us can get drunk and flop down and sleep after a long day's work. All of the cots are laid out in neat rows throughout the pub, there are some tables and chairs for people to sit in, and we made a few rooms upstairs - contained rooms, LOCKABLE rooms - for, eheh, personal encounters.

If, you know, you're into that sort of thing.

I might be   

This is only a temporary solution, of course. The nobles won't tolerate living in close proximity with peasants for too long, and even the peasants want some privacy. I can relate, 'cause this setup is too communal for my liking. I may have been fine with no door on our old apartment, but by gods, I got USED to personal space. I want it BACK.

For now, though? We're one big, snugly family, tucked together under a single roof, sharing one another's warmth and kindness. Cold isn't a factor in an enclosed space with a roaring fire pit (don't worry, we used some stones on that too, the pub won't go up in flames), and even when the fire's snuffed in the morning, body heat and the warmth of farts will keep us happy.

Well. Warm. Farts don't please many people. Except Miguel the Labourer… he's a weird fella…

You may be asking yourself why we built a pub, diary. Why SPECIFICALLY we built a pub. I did when Bora first mentioned it the other day, and she made an excellent point:

"People are drawn to pubs. It's inevitable. You make a pub, 'n sure as shit you'll get some immigrants floodin' in. What better way t'build a community, eh?"

Her opinion was vindicated when, minutes after the last board was nailed down and the last cot put in place, a fist bounced off the front door of the pub. It was a man and his dog, both carrying shovels, and the man asked if he could get a drink. He also asked what our one-building town was called.

Raising a glass, without any hesitation, I answered. "Pubton, of course. C'mon in."

Salut,

Dragomir the Mayor

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Nine: Hammers are stupid anyway



I have what may amount to a solution, diary. MAY. And while I wish I could claim that it's my OWN solution, which I can't, I'll take whatever I can get.

The mood in camp today was poor. As predicted, I needed to send more than half of the population of the town to June for repairs. Most were too indignant to ask for medical assistance, or too afraid of June to ask, so I made it a command. Surprisingly, all of them complied when it was a command. Go figure, I have authority.

I'd planned on visiting June myself for an answer to my problems shortly before dinner. I was occupied most of the day with putting together the fallen house from the night before, and having a hell of a time persuading my hands that the tools were not weapons. They didn't listen, and so I had to hammer nails into boards using my armpits.

Don't do that, diary. If you ever have to build a house, don't do it like that. It hurts your skin something fierce. Wooden handles chafe. 

I had finished hammering my first board using this method - it only took me three hours to place two nails, go me! - when a shadow fell over my head. I looked up and drank in a hell of a view.

"Hiya, Mr. Mayor," Bora said, kneeling down beside me. "Why do you have a hammer stuck there?"

I shrugged and began to explain. The hammer fell out and smacked me in the toe. I swore instead, rolling onto the grass and clutching my foot.

Bora laughed. She pushed at the board I'd nailed, and it quavered like a jelly custard and fell over. "I think you need somebody else to do this, boss. Or you need t'use your hands."

Sliding carefully away from the hammer, I tried to pick it up. It slipped out of my fingers and plopped onto the grass. Then, waving my other hand like a magician performing a trick, I tried again. No dice. 

"Huh." Bora picked up the hammer, inspected it, set it down again, and stared. "I... I don't get it. How…?"

"Always been like that. Anything remotely like a weapon, it happens" I bit my lip and sat back on the grass. "Frustrating as fuck for a guard, y'know? Damned… DAMNED frustrating." 

Bora laughed and joined me. She grabbed at my left wrist, pulling the hand up to the sun for an inspection. Her subtle touch sent little crackles of excitement down my arm, more cascading across my bones and into my heart every time she moved her fingers. I know I shouldn't be writing about this, diary, but by the gods, it happened, and… yeah. Yeah, it happened.

She dropped my arm. "Well, I still don't get it. But that's okay. We all have our faults, right?"

"Right." I straightened, smoothing my tunic and socks. "Um, so! What can the, ah, mayor do for you?"

She smiled. "Actually, it's more something I can do for you, boss."

I twitched. So many insinuations. "Oh… oh yeah?"

"Yeah. I have a suggestion, actually. Might help you with your problem. Y'know, with the nobles and the peasants killin' each other 'n all. Sound like something you'd wanna hear?"

I did. And she told me. And, by the gods, it's something that I think might work, something that will put the whole housing issue to rest for at least a little while. By the time Bora stood up and went back to check on Robert, I was already formulating a plan - a plan that went into action this evening.

I won't say what it is. I'll keep it stowed in the pocket of my brain for tomorrow. Sounds like a great diary entry. The rest of today… I want to explain something. Or at least get it off my chest.

… chest…

I AM FAITHFUL TO MY WIFE. I love Libby, I love all she's done for me, I love that she's given me TWO BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN, even though one is also a mass-murderer whom I need to rescue, I love that she's willing to stick by such a nincompoop. She deserves better 'n I give her. That's why I want so badly for this town to work. She should have a home.

But…Bora…

There's something about her. Something… so… personal. Intimate, even. I don't know how to explain it… whenever she gets close, or whenever she's laughing or kissing Robert… it's… it's like… hell, I don't know what it's like. It's weird, that's what it is.

I'm sticking with Libby. You be damned sure of that, diary. She's my wife, I love her, 'n that's that. Done deal.


DONE FUCKING DEAL.

Plan tomorrow. Didn't have to see June today. All in all, an improvement over the rest of the week.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Mayor

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Eight: Soup is srs bsnss



DANGIT, THEY'RE AT IT AGAIN

Yesterday's nonsense with the fallen house and the squabbling people and the 'highborn are better than lowborn, no wait no they aren’t, go fuck yourselves' debate reached another peak today, 'round dinnertime. We were gathered around Robert's steaming cauldron, waiting for Bora to ladle out grass soup in small bowls (we REALLY need food), when one of the nobles sneezed in the pot.

"Ewwww!" most of the nobles in line exclaimed, speaking as one. "Dump it out and start over!"

"You kiddin' me?" Robert rolled his eyes and dipped his ladle into the cauldron, approximately spooning out and dumping the affected patch. "Don't be such tightasses. Right, lads?"

Robert lifted his spoon to the workers in the crowd. They cheered, some of them mischievously elbowing the nobles. 

"We apologize for enjoying pure soup!" one of the nobles cried, a mousey fella named Bartleby. "This is why nobles are of better stock than you putrid commoners!"

"Go fuck yourself!" Turner the Cook bellowed. "You think you can survive without us, you bloody fart? Just try it!"

"We'll see who" was all Bartleby managed before the crowd swallowed his words. Punches flew, noses collapsed, and, ultimately, Libby waded into the lot to restore order. She was hungry, and wanted everything settled. There are a lot of wounded people in camp as a result, my wife included, though her skinned elbow isn't nearly as bad as the black eyes, twisted noses and strained limbs that she doled out to the rest. I wonder if I should turn her into a sheriff…

The crowd settled down for a little while after that, grumbling over their wounds and soup, though the issue flared up AGAIN when Bartleby purposefully sneezed into the bowl of King Jeffrey's old bannerman. The bannerman retorted by clocking Bartleby in the face with his trumpet, and, once again, Libby set about restoring order with her fists.

Unfortunately, in her haste to get back to her soup, Libby accidentally hurled Harold, who'd been trying to hide from the battle, into one of the framework houses. Down it went.

That was it for me. I'd been watching over the line at my brother's side, and I'd stood by and watched both skirmishes with fear and loathing. The loathing won out over the fear when that house came down.

"SHUT UP!" I yelled, flailing my arms. "SHUUUUUUUUT UUUUUUUUUP! GODS, CAN'T YOU FUCKING PEOPLE LEARN TO GET ALONG?! IT'S SOUP! DRINK YOUR SOUP! STOP TRASHING THE TOWN OR WE'LL NEVER HAVE HOUSES! FRIGGIN' LORDS OF MERCY!"

Everyone stopped in mid-brawl and looked at me. I imagine I was red-faced and fuming, my happy baby tugging on my hair from a backpack slung over my shoulders. (That was almost adorable enough to abate my fury on the spot, but I held on for the sake of solving the problem with my constituents.)

Grudgingly, people apologized. The nobles took their bowls and set up a little campfire around the golden tree in the centre of town, staunching their bloody noses with their napkins. The peasants went back to eating where they'd been, many of them looking quite satisfied with themselves. They, after all, had not been forced to relocate, and that meant a victory.

For them, maybe. Not for me.

I know the problem. The sneezing that started all this is a literal symptom of the problem. People are getting cold. Autumn in these parts is relatively temperate during the day, but it gets hellishly brisk in the evening, and the wagons aren't good enough to warm frozen bodies. We need roofs over our heads, not canvas, and if houses keep getting knocked over half of us are going to freeze to death before we get those roofs.

I need action. Quick, decisive, fearsome action. But what should it be? 

Ugh. Tomorrow I have to order a bunch of people into the woods to see June 'bout getting their wounds fixed up. Hell, maybe I should visit her myself. She's a crazy weirdo - maybe a crazy weirdo answer is what I need.

Flummoxed,

Dragomir the Mayor

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Seven: Nighttime boobery



Gods. This workforce is impossible, I tell you what. IMPOSSIBLE.

I woke up this morning to find one of the buildings, or rather the framework of a building, in a shambles. The wood had been ripped apart and tossed haphazardly in many directions, some of the planks floating happily on the edge of the little river beside the town. I hauled the planks out of the water and inspected the building site. It was being watched over by Harold, his fingers knitted tightly together in a nervous arc.

"Harold," says I, patting him lightly on the back so I wouldn't freak him out too much, "what in the hell happened here?"

After screaming lightly, Harold composed himself, straightened his cap, and stared at the ground. "There was a fight last night."

"What kinda fight? Musta been a danged weird one, for the bones of a house to fall apart."

Harold picked up a board, brushed some dirt and wet leaves off the knotted surface, and set it down again. "It was… ah… kind of a dumb one, I suppose. Lonnie the Noble - you know Lonnie, right? I share a wagon with him - got up in the early morning, grumbling that he was tired of sleeping on a cot. I think he was half in the bag, if you know the expression."

"Not really. Was he stuck in a bag? Did that start the fight?"

"No, no, I mean he was half asleep."

"In the bag?"

"No! Forget…" He sighed, shook his head, and started over. "Lonnie was sleepwalking. Sounded like he was. He left the wagon, went over to a different wagon, one of the ones with the peasants, and ordered them to wake up and build him a house. Immediately."

"Aw, hell," I muttered. I picked a bit of earwax from its resting place and flung it into the air, hoping the sight of something headed skyward might improve my now sinking spirits. No go, joe. "What'd the peasants say? Who was it he bothered?"

Harold shrugged. He still doesn't know names outside his social class, aside from Libby 'n me. Maybe Edmund, as well. "I was almost fully asleep myself, so all I heard was a lot of yelling and ruckus. I think one of the low folk called Lonnie a yuppy. Any idea what that means?"

"Nope." I kicked the board at our feet. "How's asking for a house turn into a heap of wood, Harold?"

Harold looked at the ruined building. "By the time I'd fully woken up and peeked outside the wagon, the peasant was ripping the boards apart. Kept saying 'You want a house? You want a house, you greedy sumbitch? Sleep under this pile, then! Nice fuckin' roof! Nice fuckin' roof, you see!' And he was pointing and growling, and Lonnie kept hopping up and down, and eventually they both gave up and went back to their wagons. Lonnie was swearing in his sleep the rest of the night."

"Uh huh." I scratched the light stubble on my chin and breathed deep. "This's… this's a sucky setback. Gotta tell you that, Harold. Why didn't you wake me up last night?"

I knew why before Harold said anything: Grayson. That boy's a happy marvel, he is, but his happiness carries on throughout the night. Libby and I had a hell of a time putting him down the last couple nights, 'cause he wants to stay up and play. When we start to fall asleep, he patiently coos and burbles in our ears until we wake up. Adorable, but bloody irritating. Everybody knows we're up WAY past our normal bedtimes dealing with him, 'n they let us get sleep once he's out. Very nice of 'em.

But, yeeeeeah, not when something like this is happening.

I called a town meeting in the early afternoon, just after lunch. Lonnie maintained that he'd made no request in the night, and none of the peasants spoke up about the ruined house - though all of 'em were happy to trot out the ol' low class vs. high class debate. I called the meeting to an end when that nonsense started again, ordering everyone to put the building back the way it was as a first priority. Most grumbled, but with Libby's help they had the framework looking the way it was yesterday within an hour.

Yay. Small amounts of night time violence. Even if it's violence against a structure, this doesn't bode well.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Mayor

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Six: Honesty is the best atrocity



I've decided not to tell Libby about Grayson.

That may seem dishonest, diary, and I'm big on honesty. Honestly! Honesty is honestly a GOOD THING. Honesty gets you far in this life. Honesty keeps things like The Baron - yes, I called him a THING - from hiding in the shadows. HONESTY is an HONOURABLE, NOBLE IDEAL.

But so is keeping your wife happy. Happier than she's been since you first married her. And if I was HONEST… if I told her what Grayson can do… she'd flip. She'd think her womb is cursed and fall into an angry depression. I KNOW her, diary, and I know this'd happen. For her mental health, I won't spill the beans on Grayson until it becomes an absolute necessity. A bit of harmless… floating… doesn't count.

how the hell did he do that

I'm not convinced June was telling the truth. I think she can mess with people more than she lets on. She must've been keeping him aloft. She's done lotsa weird shit before - blew through steel doors of a prison, shunted her hut around, tucked poor Robert into a closet-sized library and convinced him it was the real thing, brought me back to life - and levitating a child doesn't seem to be out of her power. 

Yeah. That's it. Not Grayson at all.

'cept it is. I know it is. How do I know? I don't know. Which is to say I KNOW, but I don't know HOW I know. You know? I'm not sure I do. UGH

On to normal matters… construction has begun on houses! Seven of 'em! Granted, I don't know if they'll wind UP as houses, but they're surely startin' out that way. Nothing fancy, just a couple single-floor cabins that look to have enough room for three or four people apiece. We can transfer the beds from the wagons into 'em, and voila! Instant settlement.

Problem is… I'm not sure this is what we should be focusing on right now. There's another, more important thing to worry 'bout: food. We're running outta food. Gok gave us a ton when we left, and we've been picking up provisions along the way, but now that we're stationary we can't survive on our meagre stores alone. We need to start harvesting our own, grown food, and pronto. Winter's just around the corner. Wish we'd started earlier in the year…

Winter in the castle was kind of a non-factor. Sure, it brought lotsa crazy new creatures outta the woodwork, and I froze my ass off guarding useless bits of property, but that was okay. There was always somewhere warm we could go, and with the rats around food was plentiful. But now… now, we got nuthin'… we're starting from scratch… how many of us will flat out DIE 'cause we can't survive in cold weather? An honest number would be nice, but I know life won't give me a tally, and that uncertainty is somehow worse than knowing what'll happen.

Bah. We need hunters, is what we need. Honest, strong folk who won't mind taking out a few critters each day so the rest of us can feast. 'least until we have sustainable farms set up, 'n I bet those'll take two weeks or so to get running. And that's assuming I can get the nobles to help with the construction.

Un-fuckin'-likely, diary. Soooo unlikely. Even worse, Libby has been so intent on caring for Grayson that she's neglecting her carpentry! She's THE carpenter! How the hell can I get anything done when the only willing workers are cooks and general labourers? And not many of either, to boot?! Yargh.

Food. Food. Gotta find some food. Gotta make homes. Gotta create a community from almost nothing. Not cool. Unless you're talking about the weather, in which case, too cool for words.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Stumped

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Five: No Dig


I had suspicions. After the screaming… thing… I had suspicions. Now, though, after… today… I know. My wife has given birth to another abnormal kid.

Dammit. Things were off to SUCH a GOOD START

I concluded yesterday with the decision to bring June in on the whole village-building thing. If she's gonna live here, if she's gonna force US to live here, with her magic golden tree 'n stuff, then she should help out a LITTLE bit. All I wanted was some damned advice on getting started, and with the wagons mostly stripped by lunch today, I knew I had to search fast.

Grabbing Edmund, I waded into the forest that June's calling home. Everyone else was busy, 'n Ed's had experience travelling through tough terrain, so… y'know… figured he might be able to keep me on the right track. In retrospect I SHOULD have brought somebody who knows how to FIGHT, as Edmund's almost as useless in combat as I am. Guess he could beat people with his lute, if he wanted… you should see him try and fight raccoons with a club, it's almost funny…

The forests 'round this part are nice, and the thick one to the north, where June vanished, ain't no exception. It's much more spacious than near the castle: there're tons of tall redwood trees, and the brush is minimal. The gaps in the trees aren't so great that you can see clear through to the other side of the forest, mind, 'n it's on a downward slope that creates a little valley in the middle to further obscure matters, but it's much less daunting than that shitty swamp forest back in Goblinoster.

Doesn't mean we found June, of course. Wandered in that stupid forest for three hours without a peep from the old woman. I figured she would leap outta nowhere and scare us to death, saving us the effort of finding her, but noooo. Trees, some indigenous lizards, a passing grizzly bear… no witch.

(Speaking of bears, don't let the name fool you. 'Grizzly' bears are damned nice fellows. This one waved at us as he sauntered by! How genial. Maybe I should invite him into the village as a protector or somethin'. Shame that attitude doesn't extend to the rest of the bear family… I'm looking at you, fuckin' POLAR bears.)

We searched for so long that we were quite lost by the time we hit the three-hour mark, and SO lost that we were on the opposite side of the forest, staring at a wide plain between the vegetation and the small mountain range. We DID find somebody when we came out of the trees, but it wasn't June.

It was Grayson.


Edmund saw him first. "By the gods, look! Is that your kid? / Who floats in the air / Without any care / As the wyverns of old once did?"

I don't know anything about wyverns, but mention of 'kid' brought my head around from staring at a bush, and sure enough, there was Grayson. He was floating three, maybe four feet off the ground, seated cross-legged on strong gusts of wind that swirled under him constantly to keep him aloft.

He looked at me, smiled, and pointed a pudgy finger at the nearest mountain, a sloping peak that might almost be better called a large hill, save for its size. "No dig."

His first words. 'No dig.' Subtle, sweet, spoken as though addressing a pretty kitty on a fence. What they mean I don't know.

I stepped forward carefully, quite aware that my son was in danger of bonking his head on the ground should he slip from his aerial perch. "Gr… Gray… stay still, okay? Daddy's comin'…"

"No dig," he said again, laughing. Pointing. "No dig, no dig, no dig."

"Sure, kiddo, whateeeeever you want… just… don't fall…"

"He won't fall."

My eyes twitched, and I had to strain to look away from my levitating son and address the speaker. "Are you doing this to him, you bloody b… witch?"

June, stepping out of the trees, her normally dun cloak covered in shrubbery patterns, smirked. She leaned on a new staff, almost identical to the old. "Pfft. No. I wish. Maybe some day… but no, not yet, not yet. This child does it on his own, doesn't 'e? Yes, yes he does, right, Grayson?"

Grayson beamed, giggling as he dipped dangerously close to the ground. Another gust of air tossed him back up three feet - about the same distance my heart dropped as I watched.

(Remind me never to tell Libby about THIS part of the exchange, she'd kill me for not catching him right off.)

"He knows," June continued, jabbing her stick towards the mountain. "He knows what I do. This's why we're here. This's what… what we need."

"A mountain high? 'tis but a jutting mass of earth! / What value be it to a village nearing birth?" You can guess who said that, I'm sure.

"Woo, you're a quick one, boy! Love that tongue o' yours, I do." June laughed, twirling her cane on the tip of her big toe. "There's something IN the mountain. Under it. I'm not sure what… yet… but I'm confident it'll help us."

"Yeah. 'cause the LAST hole was so good. You know what was in it, right?" I snorted loudly, stepped over to my son, and gingerly plucked him out of the air. The wind stopped. "I agree with this little guy. 'No dig.'"

June shrugged, but her smile didn't fade. "We'll see. You might think your life's gonna be roses 'n sunshine, boyo, but you're just getting' started with the shitstorm. You're on the edge - the eye's comin'."

"Be not the eye of the storm / the one place where calm doth form?"

June bit her lip, then sneered. "You shut it, bard. I don't like you so much when your logic crap's directed at me. 'n for your info, the eye is SOMETIMES the ROUGHEST part! So be prepared!"

"What kind of storm do we -"

"Can it, Ed," I cut in. I was tired, hungry, a little frightened from watching my kid FLOAT, and generally irritated. Didn't wanna debate storm patterns. "I need help settin' up. You game? Or are you gonna hide out in this forest for the rest of your life?"

June blinked at the question, seeming to consider it. Then, licking her lips, she smiled. "Oh no. No no no, I have lots of things planned… lots of things indeed."

Yeah. She's a bad guy. Somehow she's a bad guy. I could tell by her cackle. Fuck! 'least she agreed to come back with us - though she's not much better at town planning than I am.

I'm by the big fire pit we have set up, writing by the light. Robert's cooking up a late-night supper for everybody who's been working all day. A lot of people have already been setting up foundations for houses, digging out the ground, and I'm totally cool with that. TOTALLY cool. Things will happen, with or without my help… I just hope I can contribute SOMETHING. Kinda my job, as the mayor.

But…

Fuck, always a 'but'…

My kid can fly. A little bit.

And he can talk.

AND he seems to know something about the mountain that we all don't.

That's… that's…

Bugger. It's Eve all over again.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Mayor

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day Three-Hundred-Four: Party On, Dragomir



Last night was one of celebration.

Shortly after I finished that last diary entry, a cry of jubilation went up around the caravan. Somebody decided it was time to enjoy the fact that our long journey was finally over -

- and that somebody was Grylock. Yes, the pissy little goblin set off the festivities by grabbing a bottle of wine he'd hidden in a wagon and downing the ENTIRE THING in front of a bunch of nobles. That got one of the nobles, a portly lady, in a good mood, and she demanded some spirits of her own.

And so did a few more of the nobles.

And the Weekendist preacher.

And Robert, joined by lady-friend Bora, who began to slow dance awkwardly under the stars.

And the rest of the peasants, who haven't had to endure quite as much as the rest of us, but who love a party anyway.

Pretty soon the whole caravan was out by the golden tree, dancing and singing and carrying on in as merry a fashion as they could, downing most of the alcohol in the caravan. I joined in a little bit, marvelling that the nobles and the peasants were FUCKING GETTING ALONG for once, though I settled down with Libby and Grayson after an hour of fun. Last thing I heard before I drifted off to sleep was the gentle strum of Edmund's lute, the notes slurred by the drinks he'd imbibed.

I woke up with puke on my shirt. It'd been my turn to sleep with Grayson on my chest, and he left me a present. Thanks, kiddo.

The camp was a mess when I left my wagon. Few people had managed to crawl back into their wagons, opting instead to flop into piles of snoozing bodies for warmth. Drunkenness is the great equalizer, I guess, 'cause these flop piles consisted of peasants and nobles alike.

Oh, and they were in various states of undress. Don't know what happened out there last night, don't wanna know. Hope most nights don't end like that. This isn't gonna be the village of exposed thingers, this I vow.

After the majority of the hangovers had worn off (the sun was well into the sky, lemme tell ya), we held the first village meeting. It ran as usual: status report, air grievances, plot course. The course now, of course, is building a settlement, and the last part of the meeting was more an open debate than a dictatorial statement on my part. I dunno where the fuck to start. Would you, diary? Seriously? Figured somebody else might have an idea. 

Opinions were… mixed, to say the least. It was obvious that most people had their own affairs in mind. The nobles demanded opulent housing, almost universally, while the peasants were content with the same damned houses for everyone. Grylock and Robert demanded a restaurant, Edmund wanted "a single street corner / Upon which I might strum mine odes", Libby pitched a carpenter's workshop… I'm pretty sure Grayson asked for a crib, though his mouth is still a little twisty on words… ugh.

I still haven't made up my mind, so I stalled for time by suggesting we take apart a bunch of the wagons in preparation for setting up houses. We have more than enough wagons to house everybody, what with some of them being allotted entirely to supplies, and the planks of wood will come in handy for making huts. Most people agreed to that and got started, following Libby's instructions in pulling apart boards. She finds the process weirdly backwards, and thus it takes longer than usual, but it shouldn't require more than a few hours of work.

And then what? I dunno. Roads? Buildings? Farms? Fields? A freaking communal bathtub? I DON'T KNOW, diary, and nobody here seems capable of helping me. I need more advice… 'n sadly, I think I know where I have to go to get it: from the only person who didn't chime in at the meeting today.

Her 'n her spider.

Man, I hope she didn't settle too far into the woods…

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Mayor