"So, what's she planning with all this yarn?" Vaeld gestured to the skeins of oddly-colored yarns that he and Niami's apprentice, Agnor, were loading into a cart. "I mean, not that I mind her taking some of my experiments with dyes off my hands or anything, but I have to wonder what mischief she's up to."
The sturdy coldain didn't even bother looking up from the basket of yarn that he was placing in the cart as he responded,"Knitting."
"Yes, but on the morning of Bristlebane's high feast day, and all these odd colors, it can't be "just" knitting that is on that Maven of Mischief's mind!" Vaeld persisted.
"Mum said knitting. So, knitting it is." Agnor's impassive blue face stared flatly back at the alchemist.
"Come on, it has to be something more than that. Didn't you get anything more out of her?" Vaeld knew the apprentice was close-mouthed in the best of times, but the desire to be one of the first to know what new pranks Niami had up her sleeves this year led him to push a bit more.
"I'm her apprentice. It isn't my place to pry. When she wants me to know more, she'll tell me." Agnor turned to grab another basket, throwing a comment over his shoulder as he went. "If you're so all-fired curious, ask her yourself."
Vaeld frowned thoughtfully. "Perhaps I should accompany you -- just to be sure that everything meets with her satisfaction, of course!"
"Of course," Agnor dryly replied.
Which is why Vaeld found himself heading into Qeynos with a cartful of multicolored yarn. When Niami had placed the order a couple weeks before for "any odd dying experiments that weren't up to par, or where the colors were fading unevenly, or just not suitable for normal market", he'd been more than happy to clear out some of his spare inventory. It had also given him an excuse to experiment a bit more with various berries, barks and fungi as dye ingredients while using a variety of different mordants to try to make various shades colorfast in wool yarn. When he'd noticed the significance the date however, he'd had a suspicion that he was looking at one of her biggest Bristlebane Day pranks yet. After the one Bristlebane day where all his sheep ended up with their wool dyed various colors, he decided he'd rather know about Mum's pranks in advance, so he could either avoid them, or be on the pranking end, NOT on the victim's end again. She wouldn't prank someone who was helping her out ... would she?
The two men and the cartload of yarn made it to Niami's in record time, to find her her setting up for a full-fledged knitting party on her front lawn - chairs, cushions & pillows, temporary awnings overhead for shade, empty baskets, baskets already filled partially with skeins of yarn, snacks. Surely, with all this preparation, Vaeld thought to himself, there was more to it than "just" knitting.
Best to butter her up a bit before prying, though, so he helped unload the yarn from the cart, placing several skeins into each of the waiting baskets, while listening to Mum greet several women who had just arrived.
"Ah, Masako-lass. Thankee frae all th' wooden knitting needles! They're th' perfect size frae this project, an' nary a splinter tae be found in 'em. Care tae stay a while an' test 'em out wi' us? An' Ginjhur-lass! I'm sure yuir nimble fingers will fly through th' skeins! Naughty fancy, mind ye, jus' 33 by 33 squares in whate'er color suits yuir fancy first. Yuir dulcet voice will make th' hours fly, Naotia. Thankee frae stopping by." Mum greeted every arrival with obvious pleasure, making sure they knew how much she appreciated them stopping by. "Ribbita, ye'll find some colors in those baskets that will e'en rival yuir bright pink skin, lass! Mizzyrose an' Naiya! Pick a seat, an' a basket! 33 stitches by 33, please. An' help yuirself tae some refreshments, ladies. An' speaking o' refreshments, bless ye, Arabella, frae offering tae help in th' kitchen while we knit."
The cart was finally unloaded, and Vaeld could contain himself no longer. "So, what is all this for, Mum?"
Mum sat in the tiny rocking chair she'd brought out side, and picked up a pair of the fat knitting needles and a skein of yarn that could only be called puce in color. "Why, what does it look like, lad? A knitting party, o' course!"
"Knitting what, though? That's an awfully lot of yarn, and some of those colors are pretty horrible, even if I made them myself!"
"A present frae someone." Mum's fingers flew through the starting row on the needles as she smiled placidly up at the human.
"But ..." Vaeld persisted, only to be interrupted.
"It be a surprise, lad. An' it will nae be much o' a surprise if I tell e'eryone, now, wuild it? I thank ye frae th' delivery o' my purchase, an' we'll be putting it tae guid use."
And that, was that, as Mum turned her attention to her hapless apprentice. "Agnor-lad, I've got a basket an' needles set aside frae ye right here, an' take one o' these, as well." The flame-haired halfling handed the bemused apprentice a long-handled wooden spoon, much like the one sticking, handle-first, out of her own knitting basket. "Ye'll know when tae use it," she continued cryptically.
All morning long, the party knit, and chatted, and knit some more, surrounded by good food, good music. Far more foot and horse traffic was on Mum's quiet side-street than usual, as word spread that "something" was up. They stood in small knots, talking among themselves. Once in a while, a bolder soul would approach and try to get more information on what was going on, only to be told: "Knitting, of course! What does it look like?" This was usually followed by laughter, making the bystanders even more sure that Something Was Up.
One lad, after eyeing the trays of snacks and such being shuttled from the kitchen by Arabella, even tried sidling up to one of the tables while talking to one of the knitters. He almost had his greedy fingers on a delicious-looking puff pastry when *KERTHWAP* The wooden spoon was practically a blur as Agnor rapped his knuckles with it. "None of that, now, unless you're here to help."
Mum beamed proudly as her apprentice showed that he did, indeed, know when to use the spoon, and nodded firmly at the lad who was now nursing his stinging knuckles. "If ye cannae knit, ye can help wi' th' knots." She gestured to a growing pile of knotted yarn that was being added to a large basket. "Salvage what ye can out o' that. Anything long enough can go back tae th' knitting pile. Anything th' length o' me outstretched arms goes in this basket frae tassels. Anything smaller, and hopeless knots, goes in this other basket frae th' children."
Mum beckoned to a few of the youngsters who were playing nearby, and soon had them making knot dolls out of the contents of that last basket. Then she went back to her own knitting and chatting. She had just finished showing another hungry volunteer how to stitch together the knitted squares into colorful rows of three, when a child's sobbing caught her attention.
"Och, lass, what be th' matter?" She peered at the woebegone-looking gnome-child, as some of the other children simply snickered.
"M-my d-dolly is d-d-deformed!" The little girl finally sobbed out, holding up something that looked more like a tentacled blob, than a yarn doll.
"Och! But that be perfect frae another project o' mine, lass!" Mum beamed at the child, coaxing her into a hesitant answering smile. Beckoning her over, Mum reached for a small pottery jar that had been sitting in her knitting basket and opened the lid, revealing crumbled-up pale green leaves and stems. "Put it in here. Guid. Now we put th' lid back on an' shake a bit." She bent her head to whisper to the child, whose tear-stained face broke into a huge smile. One finger to her lips, urging the child to silence, she retrieved the doll-monster from the jar, gently shaking off the excess leaves and such. "Now, jus' toss it out there, an' watch."
The child enthusiastically flung the coated dolly towards the street, where it almost landed on a watching barbarian's feet. The man jumped back as if the doll was alive, jostled into three other spectators, and fell into a mud puddle.
Mum rolled her eyes, shook her head, and went back to her knitting, as the giggling child went back to playing with the knots. Neither said another word about the discarded dolly, even when questioned.
They just snickered.
The watching crowd began muttering among themselves, as they edged closer to the doll. It was clear that none of the knitting circle volunteers had a clue what was going on with the doll, but they started laughing, nonetheless, when folks started inspecting the doll, with their hands carefully behind their backs. They went to great lengths to not touch the doll, as they had one of the magic-using elves cast detection spells on it.
And still the knitters giggled (it couldn't just be from the songs that Naotia was singing, right?), and the spectators speculated and mumbled, and felt they were being laughed at. And the knitters knit and giggled. And the spectators started steering traffic in a large detour around the doll. And the kniters knit and giggled.
Eventually, another herb-soaked mutant doll, and then another, joined the first, more or less. They were a bit scattered about, thrown by enthusiastic children with bad aim, and the crowd moved further back out of the way.
The local guard finally came to see what the disturbance was, and upon seeing who was leading the knitting party, and speaking with a couple of the spectators, took over the job of steering folks clear of the dolls.
After a bit of discussion, an unwilling young recruit was sent onto the lawn to question Niami. His feet dragged as he walked towards her. His face was long, as if he was facing a firing squad. Drawing the DenMother's attention to oneself on the high feast day of her god, well known for pranks and mischief, was just not the sort of thing he wanted to do if even a quarter of the rumors about her antics were true.
A few minutes later, he trudged back to his commanding officer, waiting a safe distance down the street. He knew the response he was about to give would inspire the man's ire, but he'd rather face the captain, than ask Mum one more question. "Knitting, sir. That's all she'll tell me. Just knitting. She says it isn't her fault if the locals are getting their ... um ... knickers in a knot ... about some children's toys, and suggests that if they bother folks so much, then someone can move them. She, however, has a present to finish before the end of the day, and is busy ... sir."
Something Must Be Up.
The crowds ebbed and flowed. Randomly someone would wander up to help knit, hoping to pick up clues, but all they could say was they were knitting squares, and the squares were being stitched into strips that were 3 squares wide, then the strips were being stitched into a long column.
Something Must Be Up.
Nobody could figure out what was going on, but they were all positive that Something was going on.
Late in the afternoon, as Mum and Aginor were adding long strands of fringe to the edges of two of the strips of three, while others were stitching all the other strips together, a male halfling walked up to the knitting party, sauntered to the table of food closest to Mum, and snitched a cookie.
Aginor's eyebrows rose as Mum did NOT rap the new arrival's knuckles with her spoon.
"Well, Blat Berisen. I was wondering when curiousity would get th' best o' ye, and ye'd show up." Mum calmly finished knotting the fringe on her strip as she talked, then stitched the strip onto the long column of stitched squares. She caught Aginor's eye for a moment, telling him to stitch his fringed end to the other end of the column when it was done, then returned her attention to the man standing beside her.
His brown eyes were glinting as he finished off the cookie, and grabbed another. "Well, seeing what day it is today, I've been keeping an eye on things, naturally. And I noticed something odd. All sorts of pranks happening all over town. Yarn bombings. Shaved cats. Painted dogs. Rooms being rearranged, and the like. All without many noticing, because so many are gathered here, watching you."
"Meanwhile, you, who should be at the forefront of the pranking, given the personal interest that Bristlebane takes in you, have been sitting here ... knitting. Time is running out, if you want to earn the favor of your god, lass." He tried to look stern as he made this last statement, but Mum's secretive smile made him pause.
Mum rocked a bit more, smiling. "Well, lad, I've been knitting. Aye. I could tell ye I was jus' tired an' feeling my age, an' leaving th' pranks tae th' younger folk. I could tell ye that it was tae draw attention away from th' less-skilled pranksters, so they could get some practice in. I could tell ye that we've all been amusing ourselves watching folks make fools o'er themselves on account o' some catnip cat toys ..." With that, she gestured at the crowd, who had all clustered and quieted to try to overhear the conversation, and then at one of the "doll-monsters" that had just been carried off by a neighborhood cat. "I could tell ye that was enow frae one auld halfling tae do on this day, or any day. But I won't."
"Oh?" Blat raised one eyebrow.
Meanwhile, Aginor had finished making sure everything was stitched together, and just as he finally realized what they had made, the letters to Blat's name rearranged themselves in his mind. His mouth opened in a quiet "O" of surprise, and he held his breath, even as he started frantically waving everyone back to clear an area around "Blat Berisen".
Mum noted the clearing area, and grinned impudently at the halfling standing in front of her. "I had a present tae make."
"Do tell, I'm awash with curiousity over what gift you think trumps your duty to prank on this day of all days." Blat's voice was deepening, and he seemed to be growing in size as well.
She moved over to the huge snakelike heap of finished knitting, noting proudly the crazed color combinations and lifted up a tasseled end.
"Enjoy yuir new scarf, tallstuff!"
With that, she giggled merrily, and scampered up her porch, watching everyone scatter madly away from the now-giant halfling on her front lawn.
Without further ado, the avatar of Bristlebane picked up the eye-searing scarf and wrapped it around his thick neck, before sitting on Mum's lawn and laughing.
"Well played, Mum. Well played."
The celebration of pranks, jokes, and general mischief known as Bristlebane Day is returning to Norrath from March 27, 2011 through April 9, 2011, and will include a few quests, as well as another book of crafting recipes for all classes. (You will find the recipe books available on a special Bristlebane Day vendor in all home crafting societies). As with many other holiday event recipes, the books are no-trade and will only be available for purchase during the event, so make sure to grab your book(s) while you can.
The items require a mix of tier 1 and tier 2 common resources, as well as one of 5 harvests that can be found only while the event is running, from jester's garden nodes in Antonica, the Commonlands, Darklight Woods, Timorous Deep, Greater Faydark and the Frostfang Sea. (You can also find purple glowies in the same areas as the gardens, for the Impossibly Rare Objects collection.)
As with last year's Bristlebane's crafting, there will be the possibility of a rare Grand Prankster's Mischief crafting event that can reward you with some special item if you properly counter the event.
Due to my mailer throwing a hissy fit, I don't have final images of all of the items from this year's new book, but at least we have something in place!:
|Blue Tinted Impressionist Painting
||Bottle of Dessert Wine
||Bottle of Fine Red Wine
|Carnivore's Carving Board
||Patterned Blue Pillow
|Patterned Red Pillow
||Red Tinted Impressionist Painting
|Strand of Bristlebanesque Lights
||Two-Story Halfling Ladder*
*Cannot be climbed as-is, but if you use the layout editor to pitch it by 15, it is climable.
|Bottle of Mischievous Port
||Goblin Lunch Box
||Halfling Serving Tray
||Jester's Festive Bowl
|Jester's Festive Cup
||Jester's Festive Plate
|Thief's Brass Cup
||Thief's Golden Bowl
||Thief's Golden Plate
There is also a bright green Mischievous Mask appearance item from this book.
||Head of Cabbage
||Goblin Tasted Apple
|Bowl of Party Dip
||Rivervale Butter Churn
||Row of Bristlebane
You will find Dreak's Tin Spike in the home city crafting society areas (North Qeynos, West Freeport, Gorowyn, Kelethin, etc). The other ten items will be found down in the crafting instances (the cellar instances found in Qeynos and Freeport). The other collectibles are: fossil temper, dandy elm quill, abandoned tradeskill society ledger, wealthy alchemist's pocketbook, canine saliva tea, legendary pepper, fungus node, a homicidal forge, invisible alder bookcase, and pristine bonus.
For those who remember all of the above items, you will also remember when tier 6 common carpenter recipes were introduced, and we were given that super phenomenal recipe for ... a meat bucket. This meat bucket has now been lovingly reproduced in fool's gold as your reward for completing this collection.
The highest-rank reward, for 85+ snacks, will include a Brilliant Bristlebane Day Cloak as one of the reward options.
I know of a wee froglok, who goes by the name of Ribbitribbit, who refers to fireworks as "rainbow puke". I have to admit, I'm thinking of that wonderful little boy, as I eye this image of the results of 3 Bristlebane Fireworks Launchers all firing off at the same time:
Last but not least in the image lineup, is the one new buyable on the Bristlebane Day vendors, a Fool's Gold Treasure Chest