Kale Frumpus (A Micro Short)

This piece of microfiction is a follow up to Secret Santa.


Trefor’s face blanched. It was just as he feared: another shiny red present with a fluffy green bow. This was the third one. He looked up and down the hall, but there was no one there.

Trefor picked it up, and held it as far away from his body as he could, and carried it down the stairs and around the back of the building to the dumpster. He looked around again, lifted the lid of the dumpster and tossed the perfectly wrapped present into the bin.

He made it to work on time. He’d hated the job when he started there eighteen months ago. His boss at the time was a penny pincher, a real scrooge. But he’d showed her. He’d showed them all.

It was Christmas Eve, and it seemed everyone was out of groceries. The shift should have passed quickly, but Trefor was on edge. Everyone looked sinister.

After several hours, he clocked out and got on his bike. He breathed a sigh of relief as his apartment complex came into view. Only a few hours left. He’d almost done it.

He secured his bike in the rack outside and made his way to the elevator. The hall was empty. Trefor pressed the button and waited. He heard something down the hall and turned to look. The elevator pinged and the doors opened. His eyes focused on the strange shadow that rounded the corner, and Trefor stepped backward into the elevator. The doors closed.

Trefor realized he wasn’t alone. A tall figure peeled himself from the shadows in the corner of the elevator.

“Hello my little elf. You haven’t been accepting my gifts.”

The voice sent a chill down Trefor’s spine. He punched the elevator buttons, desperate for it to open.

The figure produced a box and held it out to Trefor.

When the elevator doors opened on the third floor the only thing inside was an empty red box and a green ribbon.

Secret Santa (A Short Story)

A vehicle pulled into the driveway. It was another SUV with roof racks and tinted windows. This one was white, and it was spotless. Not an easy feat in the current weather. He supposed she must have taken it through a car wash today.

He watched as the driver climbed out. She was a curvy woman in her thirties. She put the strap of her leather purse over her shoulder and made her way to the rear hatch. He watched, tucked behind some bushes on the property two doors down, as she picked up several paper bags and closed the hatch. The bags all had different store names on them. As he’d suspected, she’d been busy shopping.

This was the fourth house he’d done this week. There were three last week as well. He had more packages to deliver before Christmas, but he liked to watch as the recipients found them.

The woman walked up to her door and noticed the small package. It was wrapped in shiny red paper and had a wide band of green ribbon tied around it. The ends of the ribbon formed a big fluffy bow. Presentation made all the difference, and he was proud of his new-found wrapping skills.

She grinned and bent over the box. From behind the bush, he smiled.

She read the tag.

Don’t open until Christmas. Happy holidays. From Kale Frumps

The woman looked around. Her eyes scanned over the bushes. He knew she hadn’t seen him. She unlocked the door and opened it, and then bent down. The handles of the paper bags slipped down her arm, but she scooped up the box and went inside.

He waited a moment, then slipped out from the behind the bush and started walking down the street. He could get one more delivery in today. The convenience store owner. It had been tricky to figure out where he lived. But he knew now.

He would have loved to see them open the gifts as well, but this would have to do. He could imagine the look on their faces Christmas morning.

The next few days were busy. He stole moments where he could and stayed up late to put together as many more as possible. By the time Christmas Eve arrived he had managed to visit everyone on his list.

Trefor lay his head on his pillow and smiled. He’d gotten rid of the last of the materials today. Just before bed he’d placed what remained of the roll of green ribbon at his mother’s wrapping station.

The last delivery had been close. His former gym teacher had almost seen him. The man had spent last year telling him all the ways he could improve his form.  It was ironic that he moved fast enough to avoid him now.

It had been worth it. No matter what came next, it would be worth it.

*                                             *                                                       *

“Christmas Morning Disappearances: A Dozen Missing ” read the headline on December 27th.

There were no leads. All evidence suggested they vanished. One man said he’d gone to refill his cup of coffee in the kitchen and when he returned his wife was just gone.

Each of the missing people left behind several gifts, both wrapped and unwrapped. At each home a shiny red box lay empty on the floor, its long wide green ribbon nearby. Don’t open until Christmas. Happy holidays. From Kale Frumps read the tag.


Read the follow up Kale Frumpus.

What’s in the Bag?

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts detail the contents of such magical bags.


A Minion’s Bag of Holding

This worn, brown sack is about four feet deep. Its exterior is stained with dirt, and possibly drool. It has a faint musty odour to it.

  • A sheathed and finely crafted dagger with an intricate motif at the hilt, worth 12 gp to the right buyer
  • Crumpled up sheets of parchment with lists of assorted items, many of which appear to be spell components
  • A bedroll
  • Lantern with extra oil
  • 50 yards of rope
  • Set of manacles, without a matching key
  • An old, bent copper piece 
  • Vial of pixie dust
  • 2 vials of bat guano
  • 5 small sacks, large enough to fit over a person’s head
  • Thieves’ tools
  • Crowbar
  • Flask of cheap whiskey
  • 5 rations
  • Portable ram

Silent Night (A Micro Short)

He knew he must keep very still. Footsteps moved down the hall toward him. He sucked in his breath and held it, hoping he was hidden by the shadow of the plush couch. The figure moved into the room carrying an oversized bag. They paused briefly and he wondered if they knew he was there. The figure moved toward the tree, which was still illuminated with tiny white lights. Slowly, they reached into the bag and pulled several boxes. Each one was placed gingerly around the tree. He took a small breath in through his nose and watched as the figure turned and walked back out of the room, padding softly in their slippers. He’d discovered the true magic behind Christmas.

What’s in the Bag? (Wealthy Artisan)

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts details the contents of such magical bags.


A Wealthy Artisan’s Bag of Holding

This plain, sturdy bag opens to reveal a seemingly endless pit. It is well crafted, but made of common materials.

  • 6 beautifully crafted paint brushes
  • 2 rolls of unused canvas
  • A roll of canvas featuring an exquisitely painted landscape
  • 4 gp
  • 20 sp
  • A flask full of brandy
  • Painting easel
  • Assorted jars of paint
  • Painting smock
  • One noble outfit, including jewellery
  • A coil of cured sausages
  • Sturdy wooden chair
  • Wooden stool
  • Palette knife
  • Bar of soap

What’s in the Bag? (Infernal Commander)

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts details the contents of such magical bags.


An Infernal Commander’s Bag of Holding

The edges of this meticulously clean bag are trimmed in a fine red ribbon.  The initials “RY” have been embroidered near the opening of the bag.

  • An unholy text
  • 25 gp
  • Black vestments for an infernal church
  • 5 candles
  • 3 vials of unholy water
  • A wicker basket with a handle
  • Patchouli oil
  • A series of unsent letters to “Father” signed “RY”
  • Family signet
  • Potion of healing
  • Case of 10 crossbow bolts
  • Silver whistle
  • Boot polish
  • Whip

Travels in “Uncharted” Lands

So often we think of adventurers wandering vast swathes of unclaimed lands. They find somewhere to set their bedrolls, maybe a tent, and set watches for the night. If they are reasonable survivalists they might forage for berries or root vegetables, perhaps hunt some game or set snares.

Only, how much land is truly unclaimed?

Has the land long been home to a tribe of nomadic ogres? Is there a hill giant homestead? Is there a village some miles away where the local earl may not appreciate people poaching on the land? Perhaps the patch of berries the adventurer’s found is a food source a local farmer relies on to feed his family.

This blog series provides encounters for your PCs, and an opportunity for them to consider is uncharted land really uncharted?

Ogres in the Mountains

Some distance from a small village, a tribe of ogres has made their home. Four of these hulking giants live inside a vast cave tucked into the bottom of a mountain. Some people from the village have noticed them in the distance and worry about their own safety, and that of their fellows. The PCs are asked to venture forth, exterminate the foul beasts, and save the village.

Complications

A homestead some distance from the village has been relying on the hunting the ogres do.  The local wolf population had grown substantially and threatened the livelihood of the farmers.  Their sheep have fared much better in recent years as the ogres have been attacking the wolves. If the ogres are killed, the farmer and his family fear the wolf population will once again surge, and they and their sheep will be in danger.

The ogres, while quick to temper, are relatively peaceful. They mean the village no harm, and are trying to live symbiotically with the locals.

Lord Alvin Cyris

old fashioned book with a house shield of a black elk on a green and white background

We are pleased to release Houses and Heraldry.

This book sketches out ten noble houses for your campaign. Each house is laid out on one page; the top half contains the house name, its motto, a representation of their heraldic device as it would appear on a shield, and an information block detailing important personages, numbers of troops, and vassal houses. The lower portion provides enough detail about the interesting characters of the house to get your imagination going, but leaves plenty of room for you to add your own details.

The younger son of Duke Cyris is getting ready to branch out on his own. The exclusive blog content below details his family, servants and vassal houses.

Pick up your copy today on DriveThruRPG.


House Cyris

Steady On, A Dragon’s Dawn

 

Lord of House: Lord Alvis Cyris

Spouse: Lady Julianna Cyris (formerly Houghton)

Children: Jarle (son), Raoul (son)

Household Knights, Retainers, Servants: Hal Wainwright (butler), Fiona Wainwright (head housekeeper)

Bannermen: 425 (300 infantry [50 immediately available]; 100 archers [10 immediately available]; 25 personal guard)

Vassal Houses: House Houghton

 

Lord Alvis Cyris is the younger son of Duke Azin Cyris. His title is technically a courtesy title, though he does hold a small parcel of land his father his given him in the family’s duchy. The younger Lord Cyris is quickly securing relationships with other noble houses, and solidifying ones with House Drekyn, the family his mother was born to. He has recently revealed his family crest, which is an amalgamation of his father’s banner with his mother’s.

Lord Alvis Cyris
Alvis is a canny young man who aspires to lead House Cyris upon his father’s death. With his wife Julianna’s support, Alvis is gaining favor and support from his family’s vassal houses, and nobles further afield. Alvis is an accomplished duellist, and has taught his wife how to defend herself. He has a tactical mind, and understands the politics of nobility well.

Lady Julianna Cyris
Lady Cyris was born into a family with strong ties to House Drekyn. When a marriage between her and a grandson of House Drekyn was suggested, her family eagerly accepted. Lady Cyris has been well taught in arts of manipulation and subterfuge, and is eager to see her family rise to great heights. She is working closely with her husband to manufacture a series of events that would see them inherit all of House Cyris.

Jarle Cyris
A short, stocky boy nearing ten years of age, Jarle is already being groomed as the future head of the house. He is often present at his father’s meetings, listening quietly. Afterward, his father quizzes him on what was discussed, ensuring his son pays attention to every detail. He understands how to use various weapons and trains with them each day. He is also very well educated, and is encouraged to spend at least an hour of each day reading books he borrows from his grandfather’s library.

Raoul Cyris
Slighter than his older brother, Raoul is a charming eight-year-old with a cheeky smile and large blue eyes. He is quickly becoming a capable swordsman. He despises his studies, which causes them to drag on longer than he or his tutor wish them to.

Hal and Fiona Wainwright
A serious faced couple in their younger years, Hal and Fiona work as the heads of staff for Lord and Lady Cyris. Hal is the son of Herbert Wainwright, House Drekyn’s dedicated and loyal butler. While he worked for some time at the Drekyn estate, Duchess Gunnilda Cyris requested he relocate from her old family home and become the butler for her youngest son. He was honoured to do so, and arrived with his wife. The two have no children, and have been unable to conceive any. They are loyal to Lord and Lady Cyris, but also to Duchess Gunnilda Cyris and House Drekyn.

 

Pick up your copy of Houses and Heraldry on DriveThruRPG.

Download a PDF copy of the above. 

Sewing with Kids – Charm Class

I’ve worked on a few sewing projects with the kids, and they have enjoyed some more than others. With all of the hearts in the windows, I thought I’d use up some of the felt from our pig project.

I did this simple project with Rugrat #2 and Rugrat #3. (Rugrat #1 was happily working on something else.)

Spread the Love

  1. Cut out a heart shape from two pieces of felt. It’s easiest to use one heart as the template for the other. Folding the felt in half to make the two sides even makes things easier as well.

  2. Thread embroidery floss into a needle, stitch 3/4 of the way around. Leave enough space to stuff it. We used different stitching on some of the hearts, but the easiest was the whip stitch. I helped a fair bit with this part.


  3. Stuff the heart. The kids loved this part, and I didn’t need to help at all.

  4. Finish stitching. Close the hole up.

  5. Add a little bit of embroidery floss to the top to hang it from. Then simply hang it from a tree or a window.

Sewing with Kids – Jillian Jiggs Pigs

A long time ago, when I was a child

I sat alone reading while my sister went wild

Paper bag princesses, a jolly postman, and Jillian Jiggs

Oh how I desperately wanted my own little pigs

The cover of the Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs

 

For years a kept a little pig my mum made me. It had never turned out quite how I wanted it, but it was made for me. And then a couple of years ago Rugrat #3 got her hands on it and the poor little thing was never the same.

Around this time I stumbled on Jillian Jiggs. I came across her in a local consignment store and was thrilled. I brought the book home and read it to my Rugrats, only to discover for all the talk of pigs, the darn instructions weren’t there. I started to think my memory of the whole thing was wrong, but after some hunting I discovered Jillian had more than one book. And why wouldn’t she? If you haven’t heard of these books, or haven’t looked closely at the art, I recommend you do. The attention to detail is great and so much fun. The rhyming scheme of the book also makes it a pleasure to read out-loud.

After some hunting, I found the instructions in the back of The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs, which I also picked up secondhand.

I had been meaning to make these pigs with my own kids, but excuses.

Last week, just before Spring Break, I walked into Rugrat#2’s room and my jaw dropped. The state of of it was something else.

It was like a bomb had gone off.

A bomb filled with Lego, bits of paper and who only knows what else. 

Without even thinking I started to recite the words of Jillian Jiggs’ mother. And he stared at me blankly.

I dropped everything, found the books on his shelf and read the first one right then and there. He laughed and smiled and loved it.

And so I read all about her wonderful pigs. We looked at the collection of pigs in the pages. We talked about what they were wearing. And we made a deal to make our own.

Transmogrification Class

We are trying really hard to make learning fun around my house in light of everything.

Today’s lesson: turning pantyhose into a pig!

It turns out this is more difficult than I thought and I see now why my mum only made one little pig for me, and not a whole pig family as I so desperately wanted.

I highly recommend starting with an easier sewing project (like this dice bag) if your kids (or husband) have very little sewing experience. 

I also suggest if you are making this for three kids, you come a little more prepared. If your family is anything like mine, there will be a lot of impatient eyes watching you.

Stuffed Sausages or Toast

My boys (Rugrat#1 and Rugrat#2) laughed and laughed that the stockings looked more like food than pigs. Rugrat#1 insists his looks like a stuffed sausage (prompting a conversation on what sausages are made of!). Rugrat#2 says his looks like over cooked toast.

Rugrat#1 adding the stuffing to his pig

There was lots of laughter.

I loved that. But it didn’t last. 

a button nose on the first pig

This ended up being a two day project. By the end of Day One we closed off one end of our pantyhose, picked out buttons for our pig noses and I managed to get the noses on and the eyes made.

In the end, the eyes were a bit of a piece of embroidery thread pulled through and just tied than a french knot. 

Partially made pigs

 

Then they sat there. 

When I say “2 day project” I don’t mean one day, and then the next. Life got busy.

Teachers sent learning packages.

The house got messy.

I started rage cleaning.

The kids got distracted with screens.

My day job needed attention.

I had writing assignments due.

March turned to April, and that turned to June. But eventually…

“Day Two” came

We sorted through the pile of square felt I picked up on Amazon, and each of the rugrats chose their own ear colour. Once it was selected, I cut the ears into square shapes and sewed them on. I tried to encourage the kids to help with this part, but honestly, the project was a bit more than they wanted. They alternated between watching me and wandering off to play/find a snack/make a mess/frustrate a sibling. 

After stitching on the ears we realized we’d sadly missed adding the mouth the “previous day.” So we took care of that, and tied the ends of the stocking up into a little tail.

Make sure you squeeze and moving the stuffing where you want it first, and ensure it is as full as you want it to be. On the first try we had a sad underfed little pig and one that was a bit overstuffed due to which part of the stocking was used.  

The feet were probably my least favorite part. By now I was also done with the so called “wonderful” pigs. We sat down for a family movie night and I stitched away, making 20 sets of little pig feet. 

Eventually, the little pigs were done. 

Here they are, looking pretty cute.

Rugrat #3 picked out a broken hair clip to adorn her pig with. We cut the flower off the broken clip and stitched it onto the side of her head.

Rugrat #1 and Rugrat #2 wanted their little pigs just plain.

And Ken and I were so relieved to be done with this, plain was find with us.

I learned why I only ever had one wonderful pig

And I vaguely recall being as impatient as the rugrats were.  So a big thank you to my mum. 

I hope, in time, the rugrats look back on this somewhat successful sewing project fondly. I know they loved the end result. Rugrat #2 loved his so much he pulled the stocking. (I managed to stitch it back together, but the poor thing looks like he suffered a serious battle wound, or had his spleen removed in the 90’s.)

If, after this defeating tale, you are eager to try to make your own wonderful pigs, I present the instructions.

Make Your Own Pigs