"What do ye mean, ye want me tae eat ye? Ye're a cabbage, aye, an' that's what ye normally do tae cabbage, I'll grant ye that. But, but ... ye TALK!"
Mum waved her arms expressively as she stared at the odd little talking cabbage on top of her stove. She never, ever, EVER should have trusted anything that gnome Snoogle had a hand in, but he did have some mighty fine party juice, and she had been in need of something to lighten up spirits a bit.
The cabbage that came along with the party keg was another story, however. Food that talked just was ... gah! So, it looked like cabbage soup for dinner was right out of the question. Even her carnivorous plant steered clear of the odd little thing, probably because, compared to juicy bones and the like, cabbage just wasn't that appetizing.
"But, how are you going to grow big and strong if you don't eat me? You do want to grow up to be healthy, don't you? Maybe shed a few pounds, too? You're awfully ample for a gnome ..."
"Och! Just frae that, I may find some cabbage worms tae feed ye to, ye daft verbose vegetable! I be jus' right frae what I am, which is a properly padded halfling, auld enough tae have streaks o' gray showing in me hair. Ample gnome indeed! Pffft!"
The cabbage, wisely for once, stayed silent.
Muttering to herself, Mum started rummaging around the kitchen for something suitable for dinner, all the while shooting the cabbage dark looks.
"Mouthy bit o' cabbage." With one last grumble, Mum put the verbose vegetable out of her mind. She had a party to plan.
Brewday was traditionally a time to celebrate the ending of another winter and the coming of spring with copious amounts of beer. (Brell Serillis, patron diety of the event, loved a good drink or three as much, if not more than, the diminutive dwarves that resembled him.) Lots and lots of beer.
While Niami didn't personally see the appeal in becoming blind, stinking drunk, she could definitely see the need for an after-winter party. The trick was in throwing a party with the requisite amount of alcohol, while making sure that her home wasn't totally trashed by drunken revelers. She did not want a repeat of the mayhem caused by the Dwarven Moving (and Wrecking) Company" thankyouverymuch!
Remembering that incident, however, had given Mum an idea. Flinging one last exasperated look at the talking cabbage, she scampered out of the house in search of the local rental agent.
An hour later, she trudged tiredly back towards home. Flerbgump had initially been resistant to a (very) short-term rental of a fix-me-up house, and only the fact that she'd driven an equally hard bargain regarding the catering for his eldest daughter's wedding made the week-long rental a possibility. Now all she needed to do was scrounge up some party furnishings that wouldn't break if you looked at them crosswise, maybe some giant cushions and pillows to sit on and such, do a baking binge, and she'd be ready to ...
She stopped at the sight of a knot of city guards outside her home. Normally, they only clustered like that if they found an enemy of the city trying to slip through and wreak havoc. These guards, however, instead of looking calm, menacing, and capable, looked downright nervous and uncomfortable.
Quietly, she pulled her trusty rolling pin from the custom-made sheath at her hip, even as she tried to slip to the front door of her house unnoticed. Anything that made the guards look that nervous was likely nothing she could help with, and she'd feel a lot better in the safety of her home. Besides, whoever they had cornered was making a horrific wailing, and she wanted to get away from the racket before her eardrums shattered.
"Denmother! Just the person we were looking for!" So much for escaping undetected, with the way the guard captain was waving her over like that. What he thought she could do with whatever poor wretch they'd cornered was beyond her, especially one that sounded like they were in mortal agony.
"Mum!" The loud shriek coming from within the knot of guards sounded familiar, and Niami found herself moving forward, still gripping her rolling pin, even as the guards parted to reveal the source of all the commotion.
Sitting on the ground was one very large, very green ogress in one very skimpy outfit. Tears ran down her face, but there didn't seem to be any visible bleeding or the like. "Ngranna-lass! What be ye doing here?!"
A fresh round of loud wailing was her only response, so she looked up at Captain Pieters, eyes narrowed. The local guard all knew that the ogress was a friend of hers, not some spy for Lucan, so they generally turned a blind eye to her random rare visitations.
Recognizing the glint in Niami's eyes, the harried human hurried to explain in a low undertone. "We haven't laid a finger on her. She just popped up out of the sewers wearing that, and headed here, crying all the way. When she caught sight of us, she dropped to her knees and begged us to cut out her heart and put her out of her misery. I sent Jacoby to look for you, while we circled her to protect the populace from that sight." A small shiver ran through the man as he inadvertently glanced at the sobbing ogress. As if on cue, the guard who had been sent looking for her ran into view, breathing heavily from running around looking for her.
"Please, ma'am, can you get her inside before one of my superiors arrives and I have to do something about her?" Pieters was definitely looking nervous, although whether he was more afraid of the wrath of his superiors, or because he was afraid of Mum's wrath should ill befall her friend, was debatable.
Whatever response Niami had been about to make was replaced by a startled squeak, as the ogress grabbed the tiny halfling in a tight hug, sobbing loudly. "He said he loved meeeeeee, then he ran awayyyyyyyyyyy!"
"Ooof. Erk. Unfff!" Mum struggled for breath, swearing she could hear her ribs creak and scream for mercy. Worse, the Ngranna positively reeked of alcohol, so the tiny gasps of air that Mum was able to draw through her smished lungs were almost enough to get her drunk off the fumes!
Captain Pieters, trying to make sure the issue was "Someone Else's Problem" before too much of a crowd gathered, quickly opened the door to Niami's house, and gestured for his troops to herd Ngranna, still hugging Mum like she would some oversized rag-doll, through the door and out of sight.
It took several long minutes for a now-dizzy Niami to squirm her way out of Ngranna's grasp. It took a lot longer to get a clear understanding of what was wrong with the overwrought ogress. Eventually, however, she got the basic idea, and made a few alterations to her party plans.
It seems that Ngranna had been romanced by a dwarf named Gilin, who was supposed to be "cute, eben wid his funny goggles". Driven to show off her newly-earned title of "the Romantic", as well as fortified with a bit of beer, Ngranna had returned the unlikely flirtation. Her account was garbled by a fresh spate of crying at this point, but Mum got the idea that she really did not want to know more details, except for the fact that, at some point, Ngranna had removed his goggles, at which point he'd run screaming into the night, leaving the overly-sensitive ogress feeling rather bereft and unloved ... and saddled with Gillin's bar tab.
Earlier that same day, when the portal to Brell's bar had appeared, Mum had run into a dwarf seeking aid due to indiscretions while wearing a pair of beer goggles, and while his predicament had seemed amusing at the time, she was much less amused now that she was dealing with one of his several lovelorn conquests.
Eventually, she calmed Ngranna down, and suggested that she help herself to some of the food in the kitchen while Mum ran some quick errands. Best to increase the amount of her weekly grocery order, not only for the party, but for feeding one depressed ogress as well.
As she slipped out of the house to visit a local farmer known for especially fine produce, she heard a shout from inside. "Get in mah belleh!" This was followed by a choked-off squeal, quickly silenced.
"Och! Sae much frae th' talking cabbage!" With a philosophical shrug, she headed off on her errands.
Operating under the assumption that a distracted ogress was less likely to go on long crying jags, Mum ran herself, and Ngranna, ragged for the next three days, getting ready for the party. She also set up a room for Ngranna in the rental house, to "keep an eye on th' party supplies." This not only let Ngranna feel useful while she was patching up her broken heart, but also got her out of earshot when/if she started crying again.
Finally, the day of the party arrived. As she caught her breath a few hours before the event, Mum burned some incense in front of her small altar to Bristlebane and prayed, in her own peculiar fashion. "Bristlebane-lad, ye'd best appreciate this one. I've finally got her past th' crying stage an' intae th' righteous indignation stage. If'n ye can help me be sure he'll arrive here a wee bit late, an' a wee bit drunk, I'm sure we can hae a guid laugh or three tonight."
As guests arrived that night, she made sure to tell them all that they had free run of the party house "except frae th' last room on th' left". As expected, Ngranna had retreated to "her" room as guests started arriving, out of an odd mixture of shyness and embarrassment. Of course, Mum didn't bother to tell them why they should avoid that room. The Bristlebane worshipper in her decided that if they ignored her warning, they deserved a bit of a fright!
The softhearted part of her, however, led her to urgently flag down Elquinjena as she saw Jethal slip into that room. "Och, lass, ye'd best go resc-"
"ELFIE MAN!" the ever-so-dulcet tones of a drunken ogress rang throughout the house, followed by an elven shriek of pure terror. In the sudden silence that reigned amongst the party-goers, a slight *pop* could be heard as a wild-eyed and disheveled Jethal reappeared at the front door to the house. Evac had its uses, after all!
"Och, Jen-lass, bring th' puir lad a strong drink, will ye?" Mum said, eyes twinkling.
About 3 hours into the party, an already-drunk Gilin arrived. He'd been embroidering his tale of the magic brew goggles and his unintentional flirtations with ladies that he later learned were totally unsuitable, if not downright scary, and his tale got more fanciful and boastful with each retelling (and every beer that his avid audiences gave him).
" ... and it turns out she was a sarnak! Brell save me from that fate!" He waved his arms for emphasis, sending beer from his mug flying to drench his current listeners.
Alcohol abuse! Pfaugh! Mum suspected that even Brell would agree that this specific dwarf be taught a bit of a lesson, so she caught the eye of a certain redheaded lady-dwarf and nodded.
At the nod, the lovely Brasse, her glorious red beard glinting in the lamplight, sidled up to Gilin, using a napkin to mop up some of the beer in his beard. Her soft brogue was practically a gentle coo as she spoke. "Oi hear ye cut a fine figure o' dwarfdom in those goggles. Mind ye, ye cut a fine enough figure wi'out 'em, but oi would love ta see ye wear 'em."
It didn't take long at all for Brasse to not only cajole him into putting the beer goggles back on, but also into heading down the hall to "wait for her somewhere quieter" while she freshened up a bit.
As he opened the last door on the left and slipped in, Mum and Brasse both held their breath. Nearby guests, knowing something was up, even if they didn't know the full story, also fell silent.
The sound of the bolt sliding into place on that door was loud in the sudden hush, as was the not-so-dulcet voice of one drunken ogress.
"Gillin! 'Granna not happy wid yew! Come here, bad dwarfie-man!"
As various partygoers took hasty gulps of their drinks or made loud smalltalk to cover the racket coming from the far end of the hallway, Mum smiled to herself. Oh yes, Bristlebane would be pleased.
|ogress over a barrel image by Jethal Other images by Kaisha|
Brewday, which is the Norrathian equivalent to St. Patrick's Day, will be active in Norrath from March 12 through March 19! Along with quests from last year (Beers for Brell, Brell's Everlasting Brew, and Snoogle's Presentation), there is a new quest involving some embarrassing issues due to using some special Ale Goggles. In addition, look for new house item plushies from Snoogle's quest in the form of your choice of one of the four items that you retrieved for him. (Yes, Winter, there's really a pink elephant! :D)
As with last year, you will find special portals just outside major cities, as well as Brell's avatar running amok in the Antonican fields just outside of North Qeynos.