Friday, May 17, 2024

Music: Thunder Rolls

Okay, so the song was originally by Garth Brooks, and you probably remember it. But when I added it to the Country Music Road Trip mix, it turned out that... it wasn't the whole song. There's a whole verse missing. The dude comes home, she smells strange perfume on her husband and knows that he's having an affair, and... 

...nothing. The song winds down, and that's it. 

This was deeply weird to me, because I distinctly recall her shooting the cheating sonofabitch. So I started pulling up versions of it on YouTube and... nope, it's just not there. I was seriously starting to think I'd imagined it. 

...And then somebody pulled the lyrics for me, and yeah: that really was part of the song. I wasn't hallucinating, and it wasn't some sort of weird Berenstain Bears split-multiverse event. Armed with that knowledge, I went looking again, and found this version, which I rather like:

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Debriefing, part one

"Ah, Chris." Magus Frummelt looked up as Chris entered his office. "Do close the door, if you please."

Chris closed the door, then turned back and waited until the magus motioned for him to take a seat. He was learning. 

"How would you say that your last assignment went?"

Chris settled into the lone chair in front of Magus Frummelt's desk and considered that for a long moment. "Successful, obviously. The young lady Carterhaugh is back with the Hargraves, and no harm appears to have been done. There were things that we could have done better, but for a first outing in dealing with one of the old families and a venture into the Grey..." He hesitated. "Well, it wasn't a disaster."

"No," said magus Frummelt. "It wasn't. Antoinette and Elyssa conducted themselves quite well, and Peter and Morrigan... well, they aren't your concern except perhaps in how they report your actions." He paused, studying Chris for a long moment; Chris, curious, returned his study. "RO Morrigan recommended that we make more use of magus Gillespie and her team, and magus Saldivar largely supports that recommendation. They both think that you're more... assertive than is strictly proper for one of our ROs, but neither of them seemed to think it was a problem."

"Assertive, sir?" Chris thought he had a pretty good idea of what they meant -- that he was stubborn and prone to trying to do what he thought was best -- but this was an area where he didn't trust his own impressions of the situation. 

"Materfamilias Amelie Hargrave made sure to express her concerns that you didn't 'know your place', though she didn't specify any particular events or circumstances. Coming from her, that sort of complaint could mean anything..." Frummelt put on an inquisitive expression and raised his eyes to meet Chris'.

"I'm not sure, Sir," Chris told him, which was honest enough. "She seemed worried that I might be intending to form some sort of attachment with Tammy Carterhaugh; she also said I wasn't afraid of her the way I should be."

Magus Frummelt chuckled. "She would think that, and by her lights she'd be right. Still, you must have done something right, or I'd be looking at a much more specific complaint-- or a demand for action. The old families need to be handled very carefully, even -- or especially -- when they're wrong."

"I do know how to shut up, Sir."

Frummelt's smile widened, so that had been a good answer. "That's an excellent skill, and I recommend you cultivate it around the families. Let your magus do the talking; even if she's uncouth, it'll be more acceptable to them."

"I understand," Chris told him. He really did; it was just that he was still, despite his best efforts, having trouble adjusting from what he'd been to what he was now. "Antoinette and I talked about it too, and she plans to start us training to work as a group. It's her decision, of course, but for whatever it's worth I support it."

"She mentioned that, and I approved it." Magus Frummelt sat back and relaxed. "You'll see it reflected in your training schedule in the coming weeks. I take it you aren't looking for a transfer, or unwilling to continue venturing into the Grey as needed?"

"That's correct, Sir."

"Then that's all for now. If you have any questions or concerns, you know where to find me."

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Lithos: The Rival in Repose

"Um... Lithos?" asked James, stepping aside so he could see. "Why is there a kobold sleeping in your blankets? Is there something you need to tell us?"

"Darkstabber's sacred vulva," Lithos muttered, and Archibald shot him a look. "That little shit."

Lithos wasn't usually so vehement, so he immediately had the others' attention. "You know them?" Whisper signed. 

Lithos sighed and then nodded. "Lissorkalkin. Kalkin for short. He's... His family are tinkers. They come into town in their wagon train maybe once a year, looking for work. Kalkin's different, though. He's got dragon blood. He's a sorcerer." Lithos sighed again. "And he's been trying to prove that he's better at magic than I am ever since we met."

"Okay," said Amergin slowly, "but why's he sleeping in your bed?"

"He was probably trying to steal my grimoire," Lithos admitted. "Like I said, he wants to prove that his way of doing magic is better than mine. That's one of his arguments: he doesn't need a book to do magic."

"Okay," said Archibald, even more slowly, "but why is he sleeping in your bed?"

"Because I trapped it," Lithos admitted. 

"You what?" asked James, looking at him. 

"Magical trap," said Lithos. "I'm a wizard, I can do that. Master Flyleaf showed me how." 

Whisper was scribbling on his slate, and they all waited for him to finish. When he turned it to Lithos, it said: You can set magical traps? 

"Sure," said Lithos. "It's not hard. Kalkin could too, except his magics don't include the right spells. Which is why my way of doing magic is better."

"Should we report him?" asked Archibald. 

"Or kill him?" asked James. She was smiling the sort of calm, imperturbable smile that had always made their classmates take a long, involuntary step back.

Lithos shook his head. "No, we'll do something worse."

Amergin, almost reluctantly, asked: "...Worse?"

Lithos nodded. "Yeah. Muzzle him and tie his hands. Then I'm going to make him listen while I explain how much his sorcery sucks compared to my wizardry. Dumbass thought I'd keep my grimoire hidden in my bed, and that he could sneak in here invisibly and take it. Instead, he gets to listen to me lecture."

"Diabolical," Archibald said, in a tone of soft awe.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Writer's Block

So yeah, writing -- even low-stakes writing for the Blog o' Doom here -- hasn't been going well lately. This is not a huge surprise; I've mentioned before that May is basically the worst month of the year for me. Sometime I cope with that by writing more, but I've been trying to take a sensible, low-stress approach this year and...

...Well, frankly I think I'm just extremely burned-out. I think I have been for some time, and when I finally made a real effort to slow down it all caught up with me. And there's not much to be done about that except keep trying to take things slow and sensible until I get back to feeling like myself. 

Things are going to be a little slow around here, is what I'm saying. They should get better -- I should get better -- once we're done with May, but in the meantime I'm just going to try to get through without burning out completely the way I usually do. 

See you on the other side, friends.

Friday, May 10, 2024

I think I'm broken again

May, as usual, is trying to kill me. 

I'm back to having sinus drainage and a persistent cough/upper-respiratory tickle again, and it's making me kind of crazy. On the plus side, I'm still negative for both covid and flu, so it looks like this is just the worst allergy attack I've had in years. Which ::gestures around at everything the weather has been doing:: I am perfectly willing to believe. I've got some more medications, which should be enough to keep me on my feet through the next two weeks; after that I can afford to collapse. 

Work has also been making me crazy, mainly because I've been trying to work out a schedule for a big event that's coming up at the end of next week, and everybody has decided that they need a piece of my time for something. (Often fairly critical somethings, like the fact that the document attachments don't display correctly in our financial/ERP software, and the tech support for that is... slow to respond. This is not a good combination.) On the plus side, Facilities just replaced a belt that had broken on the air conditioning and fired up the fan motors again, so we're coming down to a reasonable temperature inside the building here. 

The plan for this weekend is to rest up as much as possible, and try to stay sane next week. There may be writing; there may not. There'll be a lot more sanity if we manage to play D&D. There'll be even more if I can shake off this cough. 

Wish me luck, y'all.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

More Wholesome Children's Songs

Following up from the Weekly Blogging Challenge two weeks ago...

Don Gato: 

And, if you'll indulge me with a couple of... atypical arrangements...

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly:

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider:

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Lithos Foundingstone: Mornings

"Wake up, Lithos." One of his siblings was prodding him, but at the moment he wasn't even sure which one. 

"No," he said, and curled up tighter in his blanket. The blanket had been made for dwarves, of course, so there was plenty of it to burrow into. 

"Lithos, come on," the voice repeated. That would be Amergin, which... Still no. Amergin usually knew what was going on and what to do about it, but even mostly unconscious Lithos was completely certain that he wasn't working the inn today. If he wasn't working, then he didn't need to wake up. Q.E.D.

The caves were smooth-walled and comfortable, and he had his own little nook with just room for himself and his blankets, very cozy once he'd warmed it up. Nobody would bother him all the way back here, not even the other goblins...

Someone was tugging on his blanket. Whoever it was wasn't saying anything, just pulling the blanket up and letting gravity do the work of unrolling Lithos. "Hey! Hey! I'm slee--" That was as far as he got before he tumbled loose, unwilling awake. 

Rubbing at his left butt-cheek, where he'd landed on a stone floor, he looked around. Oh. Right. They put us in their jail. It made sense, after a fashion. The Senator was dead, after all. Though the idea that the group of them would just walk in to accept the Senator's dinner invitation, poison the man -- if it even was poison -- and then just stand around afterwards beggared belief. Still, he supposed the Lictor had to be thorough, even if the Senator's idiot son had been inclined to execute them on the spot. 

"Do I really need to be awake for th--?" He finally focused on the door of the cell. "Oh. I guess I do."