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Krigslive XIV – Giving Danish LARP a Shot

Krigslive Sollands Sidste

What’s this? Krigslive? You mean a LARP write-up that isn’t about Witcher School?

Strange days, indeed!

Krigslive is a Danish LARP set in the Warhammer universe with focus on military life and huge battles. This year, the setting revolved around a religious conflict between the armies of the North – the followers of Ulric – and the South – worshippers of Sigmar.

My regiment was Solland’s Last, and we fought for the South. The regiment’s backstory revolved around most of us being descendents of the inhabitants of Solland, which was destroyed around 800 years ago. Our ultimate goal was to reclaim Solland as an independent territory. This was made rather interesting, since Solland is occupied by Nuln, and Nuln had a whopping three regiments fighting for the South.

This will come into play later.

This being the first Krigslive, not only for me, but for Solland’s Last as a regiment, there were a lot of growing pains in the beginning. I will skip over all the parts where we were tired, frustrated and outright growling at each other, because I don’t want to distract from all the fun we had in-between. Solland’s Last is filled with great people, and I hope they know I believe that, even though I ended up heading out on my own a lot of the time.

And even though I handed in my resignation on that last day…

But more on that later!

Krigslive Sollands Sidste

 

Setting Up Camp and Getting Kidnapped by Boozy Monks

We all arrived on Tuesday – the day before the game started – to set up camp. I think my fellow soldiers realized how absolutely incompetent I am at putting up tents, so I was quickly sent out on a scouting mission to locate water stations and bathroom facilities.

Turns out, I’m not any good at that, either.

We did eventually get everything set up, and in the evening we settled down around a fire.

And this is when things got weird for me.

You know when a monk – robe, shaved scalp, the whole nine yards – hands you a bottle of homebrewed beer, extends his hand and says “Let’s go on a raid”…?

Don’t take his hand. Be smarter than me.

During this Krigslive, I often had times where I wondered how the hell I had gotten myself into whatever situation I found myself in. The first time was when I was waltzing around the Nuln camp with a strange monk – neither of us actually knowing how to waltz – bottle of beer still clutched in one hand.

I wasn’t even drunk. Yet.

This was until my new monk friend decided we needed to go on a mission to locate cups for beer pong. And, obviously, the only place to acquire cups for beer pong was all the way over in the North camp.

Why did I agree to come along…?

Well, it was damn good beer, for one thing.

So, me and the monk ended up with our arms around each other, walking through the dark fields towards the North camp. We picked up another straggler along the way, and the monk started telling us a story about some guy who got attacked by a werewolf while out for a piss.

Eventually we got to the North camp, and since we weren’t officially in-game yet, I was introduced to half of the people there, only a couple of whom threatened to shoot me. I also met Frieda the Flexible.

Frieda was a ballista with a built-in compartment for beer. I was immediately in love.

After taste-testing whatever dubious alcoholic concoctions the men of the North offered me – and reminding the monk to get the cups we were actually there for – a few more drunkards joined our little entourage and followed us back to the North camp, where it turns out that everyone had long ago abandoned the idea of beer pong. A couple of Solland’s Last members managed to wrestle me away from the monk (who hadn’t let go of me for more than a couple of minutes at a time all night) and get me back to our camp where I was promptly asked to go to bed, since I was clearly not as sober as I had been the last time they saw me.

The Game Begins

I was feeling alright when I woke the next morning. I never get hungover, but my body usually punishes me harshly for not sleeping and eating enough on previous nights.

Turns out, my body was just waiting until after I ate breakfast to make its point.

The rest of the morning was a shitshow, basically. Not literally, luckily (those toilets were nasty enough as it was), but the stress of getting everything ready for the game to start is pretty hard to handle when you almost keel over every time you try to do something more strenuous than moving a cup.

Add to that the fact that my armor had been misplaced and no one could find it, and that I didn’t have the info I needed to make my character work in relation to the rest of company, and it’s safe to say that I was not feeling particularly ready by the time we were supposed to go in-game.

I was supposed to play the drill sergeant in charge of the recruits (though I eventually decided that this was not going to work out and demoted myself to Private), but at that point I just felt a desperate need to get away from the camp. I also felt a need for food, and I had heard rumors about people selling sausages during my scouting mission the day before, so I set out towards the in-game trading post placed between the North and the South camp.

This was the decision that would end up defining the rest of Krigslive for me.

At the trading post, I met the merchants, Alex and Owen. I’m going to blame everything that happened to me for the rest of the game on them, and there’s nothing they can do to stop me.

I ordered a sausage, only to discover that I was supposed to pay with in-game currency, not the actual money I had on me. Since I hadn’t been paid in-game yet, I made a deal with merchant Alex to spread the word about the trading post’s services and getting them some firewood, since they were running low.

I got my sausage, and – feeling a lot better already – I went back to my camp to find the rest of my company getting ready to head out for the first battle. Since I still didn’t have any armor, there wasn’t much else for me to do than to sit this one out, so I helped getting everyone else strapped into their armor, then waited for them to leave…

…so I could make one of the recruits left behind help me steal firewood for the merchants.

The Descent into Iniquity

Firewood theft aside, I would probably have been alright if that was where it had ended. I might still have been simply “Private Adler” by the time this LARP came to a close, but Alex just had to go and pay me extra for the firewood so that I had money on my hands at the very moment Owen put up the board with the Blood Bowl bracket.

I had decided to play a responsible character this time around, I swear. I was going to be a good little soldier who took her job seriously, and not the same kind of chaotic misfit I tend to play.

I hadn’t even thought of reading up on Ranald when I was trying to get into the Warhammer lore.

But alas, even the best-laid plans are doomed to fail.

This is an overly dramatic way of saying that I bet all the money I just earned on a deadly sports tournament.

My bets were as follow:

  • 20 marks on Owen’s Eagles
  • 30 marks on Middenland’s Killer Whales

Stay tuned for the following day’s results.

 

Invading the North Camp with Song

Having missed out on the first battle, I volunteered when the South camp’s Quartermaster asked for people for a reconnaissance mission. We were simply going to check on the various holy altars placed around the area.

Simple, right?

Well, it started out simple. There were a few skirmishes with patrols from the North camp, but all in all it was rather quiet.

Until the Quartermaster decided on going to the North camp.

He told us that the Northlingers had three relics in their camp, and that we should try to steal them. Obviously we couldn’t just walk in there in our Solland uniforms and take off with their artifacts, so we hatched a plan. It was the most stupid, foolish, suicidal plan we could have come up with.

It really shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.

We stripped three of our soldiers of the recognizable parts of their uniforms and sent them off by themselves. Then the rest of us took up position in view of the North camp.

And then we started singing.

We couldn’t have been more obvious if we tried. But as one of my comrades would later describe it: “Nothing to see here. Just me and fifteen of my heavily armed friends out for a stroll.”

We were marching so slowly that we barely lifted our feet, and singing so very loudly, that no one could have doubted we were trying to attract attention.

And we did.

At first, the North camp soldiers merely looked at us as if we were idiots, so we started singing even louder. The enemy soldiers were now approaching us slowly, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Behind them, completely unnoticed, our three incognito agents entered their camp, and we raised our voices once again. Luckily, Solland’s Last has marching songs with plenty of verse.

 

Hvis Sigmar gav os et tegn, var det ik’ så skidt endda
Hvis Sigmar gav os et tegn, var det ik’ så skidt endda
Hvis Sigmar gav os et tegn, var det ik’ så skidt endda
Åh, Sigmar, frels os nu

Bare Solland ville rejse sig igen
Bare Solland ville rejse sig igen
Bare Solland ville rejse sig igen
Åh, Sigmar, frels os nu

 

And that was about the time the North brought out their rifle regiment.

I firmly believe that you have not lived life to its fullest until you have been chased by half an army while still singing at the top of your lungs to drown out all the yelling and the rifle fire.

 

The Victory of Sigmar’s Sirens

I’m a little fussy on the details of our escape, but somehow we ended up at the road leading towards the tavern. We had a lieutenant with a bullet in her leg and absolutely no idea what had happened to the people we sent into the enemy camp, but as stopped by the side of the road, desperately trying to catch our breath, we saw a running figure in the distance.

It was one of our operatives, and she had succeeded.

Our victory cry as she dramatically fell to her knees with the relic raised in her hands could have been heard all the way back in the North camp.

We went back to report our success and hand over the relic to our general, the Arch Lecturer.

Then we went to the tavern.

The tavern at Krigslive was a neutral space, so soldiers of both camps were drinking together as we arrived. Some of us settled down by the fire with some guys we didn’t recognize, and it was only some time later one of them went:

“Wait… Were you the ones singing?”

“Yeah, that’s us. Were you the guys chasing us?”

“Nah, we were behind the rifle guys.”

This was when the North guys dubbed our party “Sigmar’s Sirens” and made us do an encore by the fire. Since most of us were so tired we couldn’t remember which verse came first, we just started making up lyrics, but nobody complained.

I ended up sitting with some lieutenant with a great hat. It soon became my hat, and I was informed that I was now Lieutenant of the 19th Hockland regiment of the North, because obviously the rank goes with the hat. I handed over my own beret and informed him that he was now Private Adler of Solland’s Last.

I’m not exactly sure who talked us out of just returning to the other’s camps and claiming our new roles in each other’s regiments, but it’s probably just as well.

 

Joining Together Against a Common Enemy

Another day dawned, and since I still didn’t know where my armor was, I decided that I wanted to take a break and relax a bit during the first battle of the day.

Clearly, the weather gods had other plans.

While the properly armored soldiers were out hitting each other in the head, those of us left in the South camp got to do some inter-regiment bonding when a storm hit and we had to spend the entire time running around saving everyone’s tents before they took off. I believe one guy taking a nap in his tent got a nasty surprise, but his company must have managed to fish him out.

We had just about managed to secure everything against the wind by the time the fighters got back.

That’s when the sky opened up.

Since we had had enough people left behind in the camp to secure things during the battle, we were also able to withstand the heavy downpour that followed in the next hours, but we soon heard that the North camp hadn’t been as lucky. Not only had they left almost no people behind, they were also located at the bottom of a hill and their soldiers had a longer walk back after the battle, so the rain had already started by the time they got to their camp.

A few of Solland’s Last suggested ceasing hostilities for now and went around recruiting people for a humanitarian mission. I stayed behind to make sure our camp was secure, but I hear that the South delegation was welcomed with open arms when they went to the North camp with coffee, hot chocolate, and some helping hands.

Did Someone Say Gambling?

The downpours kept coming with impressive regularity for most of the day, but I eventually managed to get to the trading post to check on the Blood Bowl results.

Neither my Eagles nor my Killer Whales let me down, and I won 160 marks.

Well, I had to keep going, right?

My new bets were:

  • 40 marks on Owen’s Eagles
  • 40 marks on Middenland’s Killer Whales
  • 20 marks on Nuln’s Cannons (in the Biggest Loser bracket)

By this time, the merchants had already dubbed Private Adler as their “first, best and worst customer” and this was a title that would stick for the entirety of the game.

They were also running low on firewood again, so I took the chance to earn some more money. And by “earning” I mean “discreetly trying to haul a wagon of stolen firewood out of the camp under the noses of the officers”.

The agreed price for the firewood had been 100 marks, but obviously Merchant Al tried to haggle. We settled on the original price, and me putting 20 of it on Reikland’s Reavers. The Reavers were fighting the Eagles (who I already had money on), but the Eagles’ sudden popularity had made their odds go up vastly since I placed my bets, so I thought I might as well cover all my bases.

Obviously, this meant I had to put 20 on Hockland’s Harpies in the Biggest Loser bracket as well, since it was the only fight I didn’t have a stake in yet.

This was when Alex handed me a strange, black coin and gave me an invitation to an “event” the following night.

Ranald coin Krigslive

I wonder what kind of event this little kitty could possibly grant access to…?

On an unrelated note, I spent the next four hours playing dice with the merchants and an assortment of soldiers from both North and South. At one point, we were playing with a captain and his sergeant from one of the Nuln regiments. The captain casually grabbed the sergeant’s pistol and informed us that he would have to shoot us if he lost.

Looking back, I really wish I had remembered this man’s face, because I might have made better decisions the following night if I had…

Fortunately, no one ended up getting shot. I did, however, both win a lot of money and lose it all again. I also learned that smutty artwork was valid currency when making bets, a fact that everyone except me seemed to know. I then said the words I would come to swallow within a few hours:

“We don’t have any smut in Solland’s Last’s camp. It’s all very boring.”

Croquis Sessions and a Wedding

It had somehow slipped my mind that the captain of Solland’s Last was getting married to the captain of another South regiment, Sortensol, and that my hours long absence might be noted if I was late for the honor guard, so in the end I made my way back to the camp.

Weirdly enough, I couldn’t find any of my fellow Sollanders, so I ducked my head into the main tent.

I’m not sure what I had expected, but I feel I can confidently say that it wasn’t a half-naked Nuln soldier posing for an art class against the tent pole.

Since there were no words that seemed suitable, I just sat down on the nearest bed, where Solland’s Last’s herbalist proudly showed me her artwork of the North army’s general. For the sake of keeping this blog post somewhat family friendly, I will say that at least he was still wearing his fur cloak…

The rest of my company were drawing the Nuln soldier (who I’m still not sure wasn’t being held against his will) while he posed in various ways. At one point, an NPC stuck her head into the tent, looking for someone, and I jokingly told her she could come in if she stuck some money in the model’s pants.

She tucked 30 marks in there and made herself comfortable.

Her partner poked his head in looking for her at one point, then quickly backed out again. He was still waiting outside awkwardly about thirty minutes later.

Also, I have photographic evidence of this entire thing, but out of respect for the poor man’s dignity – and the desire to hang on to blackmail material – I have only posted it in Solland’s Last’s private Facebook group…

We eventually had to wrap up this bachelorette party – then there’s that much smut, it’s still a bachelorette party, even if the bride didn’t have time to attend – and get ready to escort our captain to her wedding.

Krigslive Bryllup

We walked in formation to the altar of Sigmar and took up position with the soldiers of Sortensol to create an arch with our weapons. Our captain went to the altar to await her blushing groom, warhammer and shield by her side. Sortensol’s captain was escorted, modestly wearing a veil, so the bride would not see his moustache until they were officially wed. As is only proper.

The Arch Lecturer performed the ceremony, and it was a very beautiful occassion.

Any choking sounds heard can be attributed to this, and had absolutely nothing to do with the members of the honor guards trying not to burst out laughing whenever they made eye contact with each other.

We then marched the happy couple to the tavern for the wedding feast, which I soon had to leave to go chase zombies in the dark.

You know how it is.

Some More of Me Doing Basically Nothing

I think I might have gone into a coma that night, because I woke up to discover that part of the tent had collapsed on top of my face at some point. I got up, got dressed, ate some breakfast and fixed the tent, just in time to head inside to wait out another bout of heavy rain. I decided I was just going to lay back and rest until the weather cleared…

I woke three hours later. Apparently one of the others had been going in and out of the tent a dozen times, and accidentally knocking stuff over, but I had been dead to the world.

Suffice to say, I had skipped out on that morning’s battle as well.

With my Post-Larp shutdown out of the way several days early, I set off toward the trading post. Owen saw me coming from far off, spread his arms, and yelled, “Ah, Adler! My favorite customer!” I mimicked the gesture and yelled back, “I’m here to take your money!”

As you can see, we had a beautiful friendship going on.

And I put my money were my mouth was. Or, rather, his money. Looking at the Blood Bowl bracket, I concluded that I had won as many bets as I possibly could have. The only reason I had lost on anything at all was because I had bet on both teams in one of the matches. I won 310 marks in all, and – since this post is basically just a glorified gambling ledger – here’s the winning teams:

Main tournament – Semi finals:

  • Reikland’s Reavers
  • Middenland’s Killer Whales

Biggest Loser – Semi finals:

  • Nuln’s Cannons
  • Hockland’s Harpies

It was almost nostalgic placing my last Blood Bowl bets of this Krigslive, but the next two matches were the finals. I put 100 marks on the Killer Whales, since they had yet to let me down, and 50 marks on Nuln’s Cannons.

Then I sat down next to Alex and didn’t leave for the next four hours. One of the North guys I had gambled with the day before came by and asked if I just lived there now, and the general consensus seemed to be that, yes, I was now a semi-permanent feature of the trading post.

The rest of the afternoon passed quite peacefully, apart from Alex yelling at a plane flying low over the field.

“Get off my fucking lawn! Fucking dragons…”

Krigslive Merchant Al

I have no other photos that fits in this part, so here’s a picture of Alex after he nicked the hat and cloak of the North’s Inspector. 

Running Out of Luck

I did eventually head back to the Solland’s Last camp. But that was mostly because I had finished up eating the merchants’ food and drinking their beer, and now figured I would go and eat the camp food I had actually paid for. Besides, I needed to get ready for the event. At this time, I knew that at least one other member from Solland’s Last had received a coin and an invitation (in-game name of Katrine) and I wanted to pick her up so we could go together.

Just in case it was all a trap and we’d be getting ambushed, you know.

Oh, and I also wanted to get my pay for all that soldiering that I most definitely didn’t do. I needed all the money I could get my hands on. I might not have known much about what was going down that night, but I was pretty certain it would involve coin changing hands.

Repeatedly.

The next few hours went by with Katrine pestering every officer she could find about when we would be getting paid, and me casually asking people if they wanted to bet money on whether or not my luck would last. Fiona, our herbalist, handed over 20 marks, and Lau – another Private – carved me a small wooden die as a lucky totem.

The rest of Solland’s Last just pointedly pretended not to hear me making obvious plans to indulge in activities outlawed by our lieutenant.

The very second said lieutenant handed over the day’s pay, Katrine and I shot off to go check the Blood Bowl results before we had to go to the meeting spot for the event.

But we were both out of luck there. Me, because I had lost on the Blood Bowl for the first time despite my frequent previous bets – and I lost on both matches! – and Katrine because she had asked Owen to put her money on whatever I – who, at that point, had a reputation for winning everything – had bet on.

This didn’t bode super well.

Alex must have thought the same thing, because he sidled up next to us and asked us how much money we had brought for tonight. We told him.

Honestly, if this had been real life, we would basically have served ourselves up for a mugging by going to this thing.

Not quite confident in our chances with our current finances, Alex offered to sponsor both of us, in exchange for half of our potential winnings. As I had a total of 370 marks, and Katrine had 120, he said he would cover the difference that would bring us both to 500 marks.

I pulled Katrine aside, asked her if she wanted to sponsor me with her 120 marks and then accept Alex’s deal for 380, so that we could both play, but only give the merchant a stake in one of our victories.

As I told Alex later that evening, it wasn’t cheating. Just good ol’ trickery. Ranald would approve.

Luckily, Katrine was up for being my partner-in-not-quite-crime. She handed over her money, went back to accept Alex’s deal, and off we went to the meeting place.

Quite Possibly the Weirdest Night of My LARP Life

We approached the meeting place and quickly spotted a shady looking individual, who waved us on after we presented our black coins to him. We walked up to the secluded spot by the woods – a marvelous place for an ambush. Just saying – where several of our buddies from Sortensol were already gathered. Including their captain, who looked rather sheepish as we were joined by a third member from Solland’s Last, and said, “You didn’t bring my wife, did you…?”

Well, guys, this is when things get properly weird.

Once everyone had arrived, we were herded a bit further into the forest. There, we were all asked to put on blindfolds.

You know the night won’t end well when this is how it starts.

Now all blindfolded, we were made to hold on to a long rope and follow. The next 15 minutes were us being led around blindly in circles, constantly stepping on each other’s feet and – though I can only speak for myself here – wondering if we were going to get murdered. These fears weren’t completely laid to rest once we arrived at our destination and removed the blindfolds to find ourselves in a dark room, dimly lit by red light.

We were asked to sit down at the tables placed around the room and we awkwardly did so. I ended up separated from my fellow Sollanders, but beers had been placed in front of us, so I figured I would be alright.

I’m not sure why, but I feel convinced that you serve wine at ritual mass murders.

A man in shabby robes, who I vaguely recalled to be the keeper of the tavern – and, if I hadn’t been gambling elsewhere, would have known to be a priest of Ranald even before that evening – called for us to be quiet and started speaking. In case we had held any doubt about who the patron god of the event was, the priest called attention to the altar of Ranald placed at the far end of the room, and told us about how the Givers of Coin (and that’s when I noticed Alex and Owen lurking in the shadows) were working towards creating a church for Ranald and his followers. He gestured Alex forward and the merchant began telling us why we were there.

We were going to have a dice tournament. It was going to be an all-or-nothing game, though we could bow out at any time if we wished. If we chose to leave while we still had money, we could chose to donate whatever we had left at the altar of Ranald. Otherwise, in Alex’s words:

“If you leave here with coin, we’ll allow you… but we can’t guarantee your safety.”

Do I need to tell you that every single person made sure to donate their remaining money before leaving the game that night…?

To the future winner, Alex told them that they could choose to donate all their winnings to help build the church of Ranald, but unlike the others, their safety would be guaranteed if they decided to leave with the money.

Time to begin the game.

Alex was the dealer for my table, but the familiar face didn’t bring me much luck. I lost round after round, rolling the crappiest numbers I ever have outside of healing critical fights in Dungeons & Dragons. I was convinced I was going to be one of the first to leave.

Oh, and when you left the game, you had to leave the room. A couple of guards very helpfully ‘escorted’ you out the door…

I was almost out of coin when my luck finally turned. And when I finally won a round, Alex started the next one by saying,

“Solland’s Last goes first.”

That might just have to become my new catchphrase, because once he had said this five rounds in a row, these words now just made everyone else at the table groan. And unbelieveably, I was still going by the time the other tables had emptied and the last-standing players came to join us for the final part of the game.

Believe it or not, but despite every single one of my roleplaying characters having gambling problems, I don’t really gamble in real life. Had it been real money on the line, I wouldn’t have been able to handle how utterly intense this game got. We were 6 or 7 players left – a majority of them from Nuln regiments – and the game constantly changed in a new person’s favor.

I think we were 4 players left when the final round came, but honestly, I can’t be sure. A mixture of disbelief at still being there, the pressure of the game, and those very strong, sweet-tasting cocktails they had started serving us instead of beer, makes the entire thing a little bit hazy.

But I do remember a few crucial details:

The buy-in for the final round was 3200 marks.

I only had 620 left.

The Ranald priest lurking behind me said that the church would sponsor those of us left who couldn’t afford the buy-in, so we all remained at the table. I was the second to roll.

And I rolled great. Something between a cheer and a groan came from the rest of the players, but I was still convinced that my luck couldn’t last. However, the Nuln soldier next to me made an awful roll. In the end, there was only one guy left who needed to make his roll. I was vaguely aware that I had seen him before, but I didn’t manage to place him until around 5 am when I was lying in my tent, trying to go to sleep.

To give you guys some insight I really would have liked at this point, I’ll refer you back to the earlier part of this post about the Nuln captain who threatened to shoot me.

Moving on…

This guy picked up the dice, held them in his hand, looked me intently in the eye across the candle-lit table, and told me that if he lost this roll, he would be okay with losing to me. Then he said this,

“If I do lose this roll… Will you take my hand in marriage?”

I wish someone had been taking photos in there, because I’m kind of curious to see the look on my face at that moment. It took me a moment to find the words to reply,

“I’m sorry, what? You’re saying I should marry you if I win everything?”

Gotta respect a man who looks you straight in the eye at a time like that and just goes, “Yes.”

I think my brain gave up on me at this point, because I don’t really remember what he said next, just that he kept going on and on, until I eventually shouted, “Okay yes, I’ll marry you. Just hurry up and lose already!”

He rolled, and the rest of the table started cheering when they saw how bad the numbers were. I just leaned back in my chair, and I think there might have been a slight bit of hysteria in my voice. “Wait, does that mean I’m getting married?”

I can’t even tell you how much money was in the final pool. The stack of notes was so huge that no one really wanted to count it all. However, half of it belonged to the church, as they had sponsored me. I had also vowed that half my future winnings for the rest of my life would be donated to Ranald, and at that moment I decided to also give half of my half of the evening’s winnings to fund the building of the church. I think it might have been because my overheating brain couldn’t quite figure out how I would fit all that money in my belt bag, anyway…

But it didn’t end there. At this point, the rest of the players had left the room, except for my new fiance, who was hovering by my shoulder like some captain-sized fly. The Ranald priest looked at me and asked me if I wanted the church I was helping to found to be an open church, as opposed to be secrecy of the traditional cult of Ranald. My to-be husband kept talking in my ear, telling me that I absolutely should not agree to create an open church.

I looked at him.

Then I looked at the guards by the door and said,

“Is he still supposed to be in here?”

I think it was this moment, as my future husband was physically thrown out of the room after a few words from me, that I realized this night might not have been so bad after all.

The priest watched dispassionately as the guards returned, then casually said that if I wanted to get rid of him – meaning my fiance – it could be arranged.

This was probably why I accepted when he offered me the chance to be in charge of the new church as its High Priestess. After all, every little girl dreams of growing up to have henchmen who will assassinate the guy she agrees to marry on a whim.

I also said that I wanted to create an open church of Ranald. Admittedly, at this time it was mostly out of spite, but after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that I could make it work. Because I never said everything had to be out in the open, right? As I would later try to explain to my husband – who was way too drunk to listen to a word I said – Ranald is also the god of con artists, and every good con artist knows the value of misdirection. Make sure people see what you want them to see, and you can keep doing all kinds of things unnoticed in the shadows.

But, yeah… Mostly it was out of spite.

Another Wedding (Because I was Too Slow in Accepting an Assassination Offer)

Once again, most of what follows is kind of a blur. I’m not sure what was in those drinks they gave us at the high-roller table, but they hit like a sack of bricks.

Or maybe it was just the hysteria. Who’s to say?

But I do know that my new fiance was let back in the room after the priest and I finished the details of our agreement. Since I was actually supposed to keep a fourth of my winnings, but nobody wanted to count out how much this would be, the priest just handed me the 700 marks he happened to have on him, which was fine with me, since I just needed to pay my ‘other’ sponsors. Now, I finally got the chance to ask my husband-to-be his name and found out I was marrying Captain Wilhelm Kessler of the 8th Nuln regiment*1.

I also found out that it was happening now.

I had barely stashed away my stack of money before the priest made an announcement and told everyone to prepare for the wedding.

It’s safe to say that I was not prepared.

But no one cared what I thought. Suddenly I was sat down by the altar of Ranald, my index finger wrapped around that of Captain Kessler, while the priest performed the ceremony. I’m not even sure when he arrived, but suddenly my husband dragged me forward and offered our joined hands to the Arch Lecturer – to the general for the entire South army – who kissed them and gave us his blessing.

If I hadn’t already lost the last of my sanity, I just gave up and allowed it to flee for safety at that point.

I was now married and stood around blankly accepting congratulations from various people. I was rescued briefly by Katrine who had reappeared at some point and was now trying not to break down laughing. Apparently she had been waiting outside with one of the Nuln soldiers that had been playing at my table, who kept talking about how he was “in love with my dagger-shooting eyes” and she found it absolutely hilarious that I married his captain in the short time between he was thrown out of the room till they were allowed in again.

I never did find out which Nuln soldier she was talking about, but dagger-shooting eyes is the kind of compliment I appreciate. So thank you.

I also found out that my new husband was rich. Apparently I had married some nobleman’s son and he was absolutely thrilled with how pissed-off his father was going to be that he had married some peasant (who was now also the High Priestess of a god his son should probably not be affiliated with).

Later that night, I did wonder out loud to Katrine who of us would get the other assassinated first. Either way, our marriage seemed to have an expiration date.

For the rest of the night, I just went along with the whole thing. My husband led me by the hand around the tavern (did I mention that the super-secret event location turned out to be in the tavern?) and made everybody kiss my hand as he introduced me as Frau Kessler, and then, the new High Priestess of Ranald. I would have preferred it the other way around, but I was still too shell-shocked to offer much protest. My husband – it feels bizarre every time I write that word – also demanded nearly everyone we encountered give me a wedding present. Trying to live up to my new position, I made all who tried to give me money donate it at the altar of Ranald instead, but I did end up having to accept various other items. A surprising number of people gave me smut as a wedding present, but I also ended up with a wooden die and a box of “bad schnapps” – courtesy of the Ranald priest – which I made one of my husband’s subordinates carry back to the camp and never saw again.

I was also introduced to another guy from the Nuln regiment – I think he might have been a corporal – whom my husband told me would do anything I told him to. He told me to make him do something, and I just looked at the man and told him to give me his hat. He obediently handed it to me.

I think one of the last things that happened before Katrine helped me convince some of the Nuln soldiers to take their captain back to their camp – so I could flee from the man who hadn’t let go of my hand for more than 30 seconds at a time – was that the Quartermaster and the Tactician of the South army asked to talk to me and my husband. The Tactician gracefully congratulated us on our marriage, but also expressed a desire to hold a ceremony where we would be ordained under the “right” god – meaning Sigmar – the following day. My dear husband was already beginning to sprout more half-drunk demands, so I told him to shut up, then kindly informed the Tactician that we had already been married under the god of whose church I had now been appointed High Priestess of.

I do hope I managed to use my ‘dagger-shooting’ eyes here, even as I smiled.

It was really mostly for show. As a follower of Ranald, I felt it was my duty to make this high-ranking posh boy sweat a bit, but as I wanted a public church of Ranald, getting the general to bless its High Priestess in front of the entire South army would help to cement my position.

Plus, it would be hilarious.

After getting corrected about four times, the Tactician finally surrendered and changed his wording from right god to Sigmar, and ensured me they wanted to work together with my new church. So I agreed to be married (again) by a Sigmar priest, and my husband offered up my hand for the Tactician to kiss, which he did gracefully. Then Captain Kessler turned and offered up my hand to the Quartermaster, who just looked at us with a stony face. After about a minute of this stand-off, my husband literally shoved my hand in the Quartermaster’s face, so he didn’t so much kiss my hand as my hand kissed him.

Good thing Kindra Adler doesn’t get easily embarrassed, because Michelle Louring is still slightly mortified when she thinks back on this scene.

But as I mentioned, after this, Katrine was able to rescue me and bring me back to our camp. I don’t think we had been out of earshot of other players for more than a few seconds before we both went off-game and broke down laughing. It didn’t help when I realized I was still wearing the Nuln corporal’s hat and that I had no idea where my own had disappeared off to.

We were still way too giddy from the bizarreness of the evening by the time we got back to the camp to go to sleep, and we could hear people still up and about in the Freiburg camp next to ours, so we decided to join them for a bit. Lo and behold, who would we find there but my dear husband, sitting together with Alex the Merchant and a few other people?

My husband grabbed my hand as soon as he saw me and pointed to the guy sitting next to him, telling me he was awfully grabby and asking me to make him stop. I put a kind arm around my husband’s shoulders and told him that he was a grown, independant man and that he could handle this himself. Captain Kessler turned to the grabby guy, and said flatly,

“The wife says no.”

Eventually, Katrine and I dragged him off – after he had decided to pay off Alex (who was not happy after learning about the little sponsor arrangement between me and Katrine) so that he would stop threatening me with retribution – and made him go to bed, before turning in ourselves.

It was about 4.30 am by that time, and both me and Katrine’s off-game counterpart would start randomly giggling uncontrollably with regular intervals for a long time after we had both gone to bed.

 

The Morning After (or, ‘What the Hell Happened Last Night?’)

I don’t really drink that much, and when I do, I have a hard time getting truly drunk, so my real life hasn’t offered many mornings where I have woken up and wondered what exactly I had gotten into the night before.

You get so many new experiences with LARP!

I remember making eye-contact with Katrine, who asked me – quite gleefully – if I was ready to tell the captain, and I just let oout a pitiful groan.

I did mention that gambling is outlawed and that Solland’s Last hates Nuln passionately, right?

I stumbled out of bed, got dressed, and then put on the hat I stole (does it count as ‘stealing’ when I was just grossly abusing my new position…?) the night before, then exited the tent with a grinning Katrine behind me. Solland’s Last’s lieutenant looked me up and down as I was eating my breakfast. She asked me where my beret was, and I truthfully told her that I had absolutely no idea.

I believe Katrine was still trying not to burst out laughing.

As I sat there, trying to figure out how the hell I was going to break the news to my company, one of my fellow soldiers set me up more perfectly than if we had planned it. She sheepishly called for the regiment’s attention, then hung her head in shame and addressed our captain.

“Captain, I have an admission. I, I put 10 marks on the snail race last night.”

Her display of utter contrition, and the captain’s reluctant forgiveness of her transgression was all the cue I needed to stand up and clear my throat.

“Well, while we’re at it, I also have an admission. Or two. Possibly three.”

I then turned to the captain.

“Captain, I regret to inform you of this, but I will have to hand in my resignation.”

Captain Aria Fux of Solland’s Last raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Yesterday, I was offered a new position and I decided to accept it.”

“What kind of position?”

Once again, I could see Katrine grinning in the background as I answered.

“I have been charged with leading the new church of Ranald as its High Priestess.”

At this, the captain blinked a few times to compose herself. “You have what?”

I bowed my head, grimacing slightly.

“It gets worse. I have also married Captain Kessler of 8th Nuln.”

The captain just shook her head, clearly not prepared to deal with this madness first thing in the morning.

“We’ll talk about this later.”

And so ends the story of Private Adler. There was still the last battle between the armies before the game was officially over, but not much more interesting happened roleplay-wise. But I did run into my “husband” by the restroom a little later, getting a chance for a brief off-game chat, that mostly boiled down to him telling me, “Bloody hell, you’re mean. But it’s awesome!”

And as we all know, that’s my aim in life.

Fast forward to that evening at the afterparty, where I spent most of my time glaring at young people and wondering how much alcohol was needed to enjoy techno music, until eventually Owen the Merchant (or his off-game counterpart, that is) made it his mission to make me stop acting like a grumpy old man. I don’t know that he had much success, but I appreciate the distraction.

And it was almost worth suffering through the terrible, for a lack of better word, music*2, just because I kept running into people that would bow as they greeted me, because they had been around when I was made High Priestess. I definitely need to stop playing characters of low standing, because I could get used to this.

I also ended up talking to my monk friend from the first night. I don’t think he was any more sober than he was back then, so our conversation went something like this:

“Oh, I got married.”

“To whom?”

“Captain Kessler of Nuln.”

“I’m sorry, but I might have to kill him.”

It’s truly heartwarming how many people are offering to kill my Krigslive husband.


And that’s it, really. I honestly hadn’t expected to get enough roleplaying experiences for a write-up post from this, because Krigslive is mostly seen as being about, and I quote, “Getting drunk and hitting people with foam sticks”, so I’m pleasantly surprised at how much roleplaying I got to do at a LARP where the roleplay aspect is such a minor part of the game. Of course, I got to roleplay this much because I barely got to do any fighting, but in the end, I’m pretty sure I had more fun like this.

Maybe I will give soldier life another try sometime, but for now I’m content with being the Queen of Gambling.

If you’re new to the blog and enjoyed this rambling mess of a LARP write-up, be sure to check out my other geeky posts. We got more LARP, a bit of Dungeons & Dragons, and some video gaming. I probably have some ramblings about swords as well.

 

Footnotes:

*1 It could be 13th Nuln. Hell, it might even be 32nd. I was both so intoxicated and sleep-deprived that it’s a wonder I can even remember the name of the guy I married!

*2 I’m the oldest 28 year old you will ever encounter at a party. 

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Adventures in World of Warcraft Shadowlands

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Bastion Statue

We’re taking a break from our scheduled book content to give you a gaming post. This is, of course, in celebration of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, the new expansion to the game I have been playing for 15 years, like some loon with game Stockholm Syndrome.

Even though I have not played for more than a year – and though I actually missed the (first) release date announcement for Shadowlands – I had to come back. More out of habit than anything.

I reactivated my subscription a couple of days before the Shadowlands launch, so I would have time to do the pre-patch content. I’ll sum it up like this:

“Not much is going on here, I’ll just–ARRRRGH, ZOMBIES!”

…Which brings us to Shadowlands.

Basically, Sylvanas steals the Lich King’s hat, breaks the world, and then kidnaps a bunch of Horde and Alliance leaders, forcing us to do something about it.

It sounds lame when I tell you about it, but the cinematics are pretty damn cool.

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Cinematic Trailer

By the way, is nobody feeling guilty about leaving Bolvar sitting on a block of ice since 2009…? If we’re going into the realm of the dead to rescue Jaina and Thrall, surely we could have at least tried to find a way to save the Highlord from the Lich King’s influence without everything going to hell (literally).

He seems cool with it, though.

Cool, heh…

Yeah, I’m just going to roll with this, and not edit out unintentional puns. You have been warned.

The Maw

World of Warcraft Shadowlands The Maw

I don’t have that much to say about our intro into the Shadowlands. We go in, we kill some poor, tormented dead people, we find Jaina and the others rather easily… and then completely fails at rescuing them. ending with Anduin sacrificing himself to save us.

Damn it, Anduin, why do you think we went here to begin with?!

Oribos

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Oribos

We arrive at the center of the Shadowlands, and amazingly we’re not executed on sight. We meet the Arbiter, who’s supposed to be judging every soul entering the Shadowlands, but she’s been sleeping on the job and allowing everything to go… well, to hell.

And, really, what is up with these shady as fuck headless traders everywhere? The inhabits of Oribos admits to having no concept of possessing stuff, so what are all these foreign traders doing here? Where did they come from? Why don’t they have heads?!

I think I need to go lie down…

 

Bastion

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Bastion Statue

Bastion is the first leveling zone we get to. There’s a lot of blue people there.

My initial impression of Bastion was that it was reeeally pretty. Utterly gorgeous, really. And then…

“Owl creatures… There are owl creatures here…”

These ‘stewards’ seem to have been created from my nightmares. They’re ridiculously cute and eager-to-please, with squeaky, happy voices, but I have lived with a cute-looking owl for far too long to fall for the innocent facade.

Obviously, these things are the main villains of this expansion.

 

Maldraxxus

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Maldraxxus

The Kyrian of Bastion were very welcoming.

The Necrolords in Maldraxxus threw me into a free-for-all melee within five minutes of arrival.

Different attitudes, you know.

I liked Maldraxxus. It’s the kind of place where everyone – from tough warrior women to slime-obsessed plague doctors that lost their minds long ago – can rise through the ranks.

The crazy necromancers trying to kill you is just part of the deal.

 

Ardenweald

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Ardenweald

Ah, Ardenweald… A beautiful, tranquil forest filled with happy Fae and… you know, the horrible corruption that makes everyone go insane and kill their friends.

Happy people makes for poor quests.

Speaking of quests, could I please get the option to say no when I’m traveling through an empty forest and happen upon a crying girl asking for me to help her sick granny? My only thought was that this was a trap.

It was indeed a trap.

My last comment on Ardenweald is this:

Oh my god, ghost otters! <3

 

Revendreth

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Revendreth

This place is all vampires and gargoyles. I love it.

Also, I’m really digging the Venthyr’s fashion sense. If you’re going to be arrogant assholes involved in corruption, you should do so while looking fabulous.

And you should definitely get a crossbow… Even if you might end up in a three-way crossbow stand-off where you all eventually shoot each other.

…If anyone asks, that wasn’t my fault.


If you want to know what Covenant I ended up with: I went Night Fae on my mage. I’m not entirely sure why, but I cackled manically throughout the entire “Azeroth play” quest and I couldn’t stop. It’s not like the comment “You can’t just stab a planet!” is even funny, but for some reason it had me in stitches.

I’m a bit broken.

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The Bookish Owl – Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights

Dragon Age Tevinter Nights

Let’s get geeky with Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights!

This is a collection of short stories from the Dragon Age universe by several different authors. So many, in fact, that I’ll just list them at the end of the post, instead of at the top like usual.

As regular readers will know, I’m obsessed with the Dragon Age games and the lore behind them. So I had to read the antrology that’s clearly meant to create hype for the upcoming fourth Dragon Age game.

And guess what? I’m hyped.

The stories turned out to be much darker than I expected, but that is in no way a bad thing. There’s also some funny moments between all the horror, and I think Lessef from the story An Old Crow’s Old Tricks might be my new favorite character of all time. A tiny old lady, who’s a scary and professional assassin one moment, and the next jumps onto her servant’s shoulders and yells “Onward, to cookies!”

Definitely what I needed, after the nightmares The Horror of Hormak gave me…

Tevinter Nights include the following stories:

Three Trees to Midnight by Patrick Weekes
Down Among the Dead Men by Sylvia Feketekuty
The Horror of Hormak by John Epler
Callback by Lukas Kristjanson
Luck in the Gardens by Sylvia Feketekuty
Hunger by Brianne Battye
Murder by Death Mages by Caitlin Sullivan Kelly
The Streets of Minrathous by Brianne Battye
The Wigmaker by Courtney Woods
Genitivi Dies in the End by Lukas Kristjanson
Herold Had the Plan by Ryan Cormier
An Old Crow’s Old Tricks by Arone Le Bray
Eight Little Talons by Courtney Woods
Half Up Front by John Epler
Dread Wolf Take You by Patrick Weekes


Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights

Ancient horrors. Marauding invaders. Powerful mages. And a world that refuses to stay fixed.

Welcome to Thedas.

From the stoic Grey Wardens to the otherworldly Mortalitasi necromancers, from the proud Dalish elves to the underhanded Antivan Crow assassins, Dragon Age is filled with monsters, magic, and memorable characters making their way through dangerous world whose only constant is change.


Dragon Age Tevinter Night

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Top Ten Tuesday – Non-Bookish Hobbies

Witcher School Archery Class

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, and for once, the prompt is not book-related.

It’s Non-Bookish Hobbies, and while I don’t think I can list 10 of them, I do have quite a few.

…And they’re all ridiculously geeky.


Cosplay

Yes, I enjoy dressing up as fictional characters. It’s frowned upon to be pretending to be a dragon at most workplaces, so I do it in my spare time instead.

I make most of my costumes myself, literally pouring blood, sweat and tears into them (as well as some burned skin). Every once in a while I “cheat” and raid a thrift store in order to put together an outfit, just so I will have something comfortable to wear once I get tired of people knocking into my horns at conventions.

Dungeons & Dragons

The heading says Dungeon & Dragons, but I really play a long range of tabletop RPGs. Currently, I have been roped into campaigns for D&D, Vampire: The Masquerade and Dragon Age RPG.

Of course, these terms will mean nothing to non-geek readers, so in short: I’m still pretending to be a fantasy character, but instead of flashy costumes, I’m using flashy dice.

Dungeons and Dragons Player Book and Dice

LARP

I’m seeing a theme here, considering this is yet ANOTHER hobby where I pretend to be a made-up character. But hey, at least this one gets me out in the fresh air!

And quite often beat up in a forest in Poland…

(For non-geeks: LARP stands for Live Action Roleplaying.)

Cat School Witcher School Season 4

Gaming

Surprise, surprise, I also play a lot of video games. My favorites are fantasy games like World of Warcraft, The Witcher and Dragon Age, but every once in a while I’ll also exercise my God-complex in The Sims.

Demon Hunter Level 1

Archery

Not much to say here. I just like to shoot stuff.

Witcher School Archery Class

Falconry

Since I couldn’t really put “I own an unruly owl” as a hobby, let’s go with ‘Falconry’. I know I have some pictures somewhere of me training various Harris Hawks, but since I can’t find them, we’ll just have to feature aforementioned unruly owl.

Owl Bite

While it bothers me not to be able to find ten things for a post titled “Top Ten Tuesday”, I simply don’t have time for anymore hobbies if I’m ever going to get any work done. So this is it!

Any of you guys share my passions? If not, tell me of your hobbies, since I so rarely get the chance to talk about things other than books in my comment sections.


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book (usually) blog prompt hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. They’re a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to discover and connect with other book bloggers!

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Witcher School – Where I Made a Deal with the Devil and Developed a Hatred of Spoons

Witcher School Group Photo

Spoilers for episode 2 of Witcher School. 

Oh, I have been longing to write another one of these posts!

(Which is why I have no idea why it has taken me so long to finish…)

I got home from Episode 2 of Season 4 of Witcher School, my third WS episode, a couple of weeks ago. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it, because I could already walk again by Monday evening.

If you want to read my account of Episode 1, you can find it here.

Witcher School Group Photo
Photo by Piotr Müller

Covid-19 Notice

Before any of you rush to the comment section to talk about how irresponsible it is to go ahead with a LARP event in these times, let me tell you this:

I felt far, far safer during the event than I would have on the street back in Denmark.

The organizers took our temperature before we even got on the bus to the castle, then again once we arrived, and then at least once every day during the event. We had to cover our faces at all times unless we were eating or outside with no one within 2 meters of us. We were all given a spray bottle of hand sanitizer we had to carry with us at all times, and there were organizers making sure we used it before going inside the castle or entering the dining hall. We were not allowed to touch each other’s drinks, and all weapons and the like would be disinfected immediately after use. We had designated spots in the dining hall, and our table was shared only by members of the group we spent the most time with during the day.

Before the game, we were also taught discrete hand signals to remind people if they forgot to put up their masks or disinfect their hands, and they worked great.

It also helps that witchers are used to being yelled at and made to do push-ups if they don’t follow orders. On the plane back home, I couldn’t help thinking that the Covid safety would have been vastly improved if we had had Master Harlav up in front of the aisle, yelling at every idiot who thought a mask didn’t have to cover the nose…


Now, on to the fun part!


My Character

Witcher School makeupThis episode I was returning as Stella of Nilfgaard, one of the nine witchers from the School of the Cat who went to Kaer Tiele in Episode 1. Stella is a bit of a bitch and can be rather condescending, but beneath that – and her tendency to mess with people – she’s not a bad person. And that turned out to be her downfall this episode.

Like all the Cats, Stella’s Trial of the Grasses left her with a lot of side effects from the mutagens. Kaer Tiele’s mage, Cosimo Malaspina, was supposed to help, but, well… if you read about Episode 1, you know how that turned out. So, out of desperation, Stella went to Malaspina’s terrifying assistent, Master Meinard. He agreed to help her, but the first attempt only made her symptoms worse. However, Meinard had another idea, but for that he would need herbs that could only be found in Redania, so Stella went with Master Dirk and his group when they escorted Princess Liva back to her home. Making a detour away from the group, she found the very last herbs of the season, but as she journeyed back, she came by a group of crying villagers. Spurred by that tiny decent part inside of her, she asked them what was wrong and they told her all the village’s children were dying and that someone had taken the herbs they needed to cure them.

See where I’m going with this?

Stella gave them the herbs, got absolutely no thanks, and returned to a Master Meinard who berated her for her decision, telling her how it was much easier to make more children than to make a new witcher. He now considered Stella to be a waste of his time.

So, basically… Stella was screwed.


Witcher School

This was Season 4 Episode 2, and took place during 1.- 4. October.

I won’t go into too many details about the setting or the workshops this time, but if you want to read about the amazing job the organizers do to make the game immersive and safe at the same time, read the post I did after my very first Witcher School event.

Let’s just go straight to the game, alright?

The Game Begins

It should come as no surprise that our return to Kaer Tiele started with something exploding.

We were all gathered in the courtyard on Thursday evening when we heard a loud boom from the direction of the alchemy lab, and we all ran to see what was going on. A master told us to cover our faces in case of toxic fumes or whatever else could be waiting for us (see what they did there?), and a group went inside to locate Master Meinard, while the rest of us went inside the forest, because someone had seen something flee the lab just after the explosion.

At this point it was raining fairly badly, so it won’t go down in history as my favorite night hunt. But the things we found in the dark were wonderfully creepy.

They were wearing witcher medallions, but it looked like someone had cut up their faces and then melted their flesh like candlewax. They were yelling like madmen and screaming in pain, but I could make out phrases like “Look what he did to us!” and “Meinard must pay”, before they rushed forward and Master Dirk decided enough was enough and made us kill them.

So glad I wasn’t the NPC who had to lie in the mud and pretend to be dead until the rest of us went back to the castle to get dry…

A Familiar Face… Just Not to Stella

After getting back to the castle and hearing that Master Meinard was alive – but didn’t know what had happened – we all got in line to enter the dining hall for dinner. While waiting, Stella noticed Kaer Tiele’s steward (and unofficial Grandmaster, since no one knew where Grandmaster Gregor had disappeared off to), Bertram, talking to this odd bald man that she didn’t recognize.

But Michelle did.

He was dressed in the clothes of a simple merchant and holding a spoon, of all things, and everyone who’s played The Witcher 3: Heart of Stone knows things are about to get messed up when Gaunter O’Dimm shows up.

But alas, Stella lives in a world without video games and left Bertram to make bad decisions.

A Surprisingly Uneventful Evening

After dinner, Stella met up with her group, the Ashes, though it really lived up to its name this episode. Out of the original 16-17 members, only 3 were present for this episode, but there were a lot of newcomers for Stella to not bother learning the names of. Master Gunhild upheld her tradition of hosting a tea party for the Ashes, and this time she told us the tea was known for giving you the ability to see your future.

So, basically, she drugged us.

At some point during the evening, fellow Cat Adrian located the rest of the members of our school, telling us he had found another Cat master. This was a big deal, since Kaer Tiele’s only Cat master, Master Reinicke, had disappeared somewhere, and we were only 4 Cat adepts left. Considering our talent for pissing people off – and our frequent need to cover up murders – this didn’t leave us with great odds. So we were all thrilled to meet Master Fausto, the flashily dressed new fencing master, and we immediately told him about the Blue Stripes sergeant that had accidentally gotten himself killed the year before, in unfortunate events that Adrian in no way could have prevented, and about how Adrian definitely didn’t threaten to cut off the balls of an adept who witnessed the whole thing, but also about how it’s slightly problematic that this adept had now joined the Blue Stripes.

Master Fausto was very understanding.

I doubt Master Reinicke will be, once he finds out that we replaced him with an ACTUAL cat we named New Reinicke…

Classes Begin… For Some

As always, the following morning brought a witcher master yelling outside our doors for us to get our asses up for morning warm-up. Somehow I made it without being late, even though I had to do the hellish makeup I decided on to show Stella’s sickness. Master Aaron led the morning warm-up this time, and Stella quickly decided that morning people like him needs to be executed.

Morning announcements followed the warm-up. They were mostly about how Grandmaster Gregor had disappeared and how we would need a vote to choose his replacement, but I think most of us were more interested by the weirdly shaped burn mark on Bertram’s face. Once again, there are things that Stella doesn’t recognize, while Michelle does…

Slightly worried that our dear steward, whom Stella is rather fond of, might have sold his soul to the devil, I nonetheless went to check out the Ashes’ schedule for the day and was rather surprised to discover my first class of the morning to be Etiquette with Philippa Eilhart.

Stella was not so much surprised as she was horrified.

What kind of witcher school wastes their adepts’ time with etiquette? However, Stella has a healthy amount of respect for Philippa – or at least for her ability to reduce someone to real ashes – so she planned on attending long enough to learn which knife it was appropiate to kill yourself with.

However, her plans were spoiled when Adrian tracked her down and said he had gotten Master Meinard to agree to help him out with his mutagens, and that the alchemist only had time during the morning. Seeing as I didn’t want to have to do my messed-up-mutagens makeup forever, and as Stella would rather be strapped to a table and cut open than endure a lecture on etiquette, I had no choice but to follow Adrian to the alchemy lab.

The Doctor is In

As mentioned above, Stella and Meinard had a lot of story that went on between the episodes. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that the guy who plays Meinard didn’t remember this. I can’t blame him, considering he was playing the most central character of the episode and had to be involved in countless small storylines, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I wasn’t able to play on that backstory. If he had remembered, he would have told Stella that she had already lost her chance, and I would have had to do something drastic to convince him to help her again. And it’s always fun when you have to do something drastic in a LARP.

As it was, he merely brought Stella, Adrian and three Wolf witchers that also had problems, down into the crypt that he had turned into his personal workshop. It was still dark, covered in giant spider webs, and creepy as hell, but – apart from the spider webs – that could also be a description of Meinard himself, so it felt fitting.

So did the trays with entrails on the table. And no, they weren’t props made of plastic.

When Stella explained her issues to Meinard, he told her he suspected the problem to be her liver and made a big deal out of grabbing a liver from a tray and showing her what he would have to do to hers if he were to help her. He told her it was quite possible that she was going to die in agony, but that if she was up for it, she should bring him a blood sample the next time she started coughing up blood.

On the way back to the castle, James (aka Adrian) discreetly slipped me the vial he kept blood capsules in, so I could make a show of it.

Searching for Fun

Since there was still some time left of the first classg, and since none of us wanted to stroll in late, Meinard’s five new test subjects decided to go into the forest to find something fun to do. We didn’t have a lot of success, but we did meet a Noonwraith, and Stella tried to convince Adrian to get a dress like that.

It got a little better once we were heading back to the castle. As we reached the edge of the forest, we saw three elves approach us. An older-looking man, franked by two scary looking women with swords. Honestly, we were all rather surprised when the man told us they came in peace and asked to talk to the steward of the castle. One of us quickly fetched Bertram, and the elf told us he was the original owner of the castle the Wolf witchers now called home. However, he was not there to make problems for us. He merely wanted to return to his childhood home, seeing as he was nearing the end of his life and wanted to perform the elven Ritual of Passing. Then he requested Bertram to bring him three items from the castle: A golden burial shroud, a painting he once made of his brother with a squirrel on his shoulder, and a doll of an elf with a sword.

Bertram, being the good guy that he is, agreed to try to find these things. Stella, being fond of Bertram and knowing the steward was awfully busy, offered to help.

Obviously, it had nothing to do with getting an excuse to skip Signs class…

She asked Bertram where to start looking for the painting, and he said he didn’t keep track of how many paintings in the castle contained squirrels. Stella pointed out that she didn’t know his hobbies, and actually managed to get a chuckle out of the overworked steward.

Raiding the Castle

Stella went on her search and quickly found a piece of golden cloth lying across a table in the library. Tracking down Bertram, she asked if that could be the shroud, or if she had just stolen a tablecloth. Bertram felt it was likely the right one, and Stella rushed off again. She ran into Adrian and they went to grab Halvar, who were talking with a new Cat master, Master Elinor. Elinor was curious about what they needed Halvar for, but since many people are hostile towards elves, Stella wasn’t going to just tell everyone there were elves walking around the forest. Instead she just told Elinor that she was looking for a painting of a boy with a squirrel, and Elinor, being a Cat, didn’t ask too many questions and instead just started telling everyone who passed to go look for a painting of a squirrel.

Stella quickly grabbed Halvar and Adrian before things got out of hand.

Going to the tavern next, Halvar located the most terrifying doll in history, and while Adrian went off to his next class, Stella and Halvar broke into the Grandmaster’s quarters where they found the squirrel painting. We showed Bertram, who told us to hide the items somewhere safe until we met up with the elves after lunch.

Gunhild cornered Stella after this and asked why she wasn’t in class. For once, Stella actually had a good excuse. But seeing as this excuse involved her voluntarily helping other people without getting anything in return… Gunhild didn’t believe her at all.

Going to a Funeral

After lunch, I went out into the courtyard to wait for the meeting with the elves. I had wrapped up the collected items in my cloak, in an effort to be discrete, but there’s nothing more interesting to people than someone carrying a bundle of concealed items.

Plus, since Stella is a Cat, everyone just assumed she was smuggling stuff.

I went off to the side to be out of the way, but this backfired as well. Master Gunhild marched up to me and told me to “stop skulking in the corner”.

I just don’t know why she doesn’t trust dear Stella…

But eventually a group of us, including Halvar, and accompanied by Master Ylia, Master Elinor and Robin the bard, went to meet the elves. The old one was very grateful and invited us to witness the ritual, so we went into the forest together.

I must say, it was the most lovely suicide/funeral I’ve ever been to. Master Ylia and Robin sang a beautiful song while the female elves covered our gracious host in the golden burial shroud – which Stella had neglected to mention had been used as a tablecloth when she found it – and the elf slid open the veins on his arms and bled all over the place.

And when asked by Master Gunhild why I missed her Monster Knowledge class, I could honestly say that the only one who died was the one who was supposed to.

Well, I guess that’s not strictly speaking true… On our way back, we met one of the mutants we had first become acquainted with on the first night. This one was just as out of his mind as the others, but we did manage to find out that his name was Hans and that he had gone through the Trial of the Grasses, performed by Master Meinard. Through all the rambling, we could also gather that Meinard had kept the failed witchers that survived and that someone had let them loose. Hans wanted to kill Meinard, and while Stella couldn’t really blame him, the others were not willing to let their only mutagenist get murdered. We offered to bring Hans back to the castle to try and help him, but that freaked him out, so kind-hearted Master Ylia ran back to the castle to fetch someone that could help. Master Elinor also wanted to help poor Hans, but her methods were a little more… Cat School. Surprisingly, it was the Wolf adepts that ended up killing the wretched thing, but not before being given a letter to bring back to their non-existant Grandmaster.

Somehow, two bodies turned up in the presence of three Cats within an hour, and the Cats were not to blame…

(Not directly, anyway. Elinor might have egged the Wolves on…)

Sabotaging Democracy and Getting Defeated by an Acorn

After getting back, I was informed by Adrian that Master Toriel had invited the Cats to a meeting before dinner. Seeing as Toriel was one of the candidates vying for the role of Grandmaster, we figured she wanted to buy our votes. And seeing as we were Cats, we were alright with that.

With that out of the way, I finally went to a lesson. It was Fencing with Master Fausto, and I needed to see what kind of witcher our newest Cat at Kaer Tiele was.

What I didn’t need was to lose all my dignity to an acorn.

We were training in the shade of a small group of trees. This meant two things: We spent more time swinging at demon mosquitoes – no mosquito should get as big as the ones at Moszna Castle this autumn – than at each other, and, the ground was covered in acorns.

I quickly learned that my beloved boots did not have the right soles for fencing on a layer of acorns. Halvar noticed my trouble – it would be hard not to, as I kept yelling “Fucking acorns!” – and told me not to fall on my ass. Which is why, when my foot slid from under me in the middle of a fencing move, I landed gracefully on my wrist.

Somehow I only bruised it and, though I did have to sit out the rest of the lesson, I was alright come the hunt later that night.

But my pride still hasn’t recovered.

After threatening Halvar with a slow and painful death if Master Reinicke were to ever hear about the incident, we returned to the castle to meet up with Master Toriel. Masters Elinor and Fausto, Adrian, Einar, Halvar and Stella all listened patiently as the small archery teacher explained how she wanted to help the Cats and create a friendship between our two schools. However, the other candidates might not feel the same way, and our place at Kaer Tiele could be in danger if a witcher like Master Arlana became Grand.aster.

Obviously we assured her that we would vote for whoever offered us the best deal.

Cats are simple creatures.

We were given time to discuss our terms in private, and we quickly agreed on the following:

  • We wanted the Grandmaster to promise us protection against Temeria and the Blue Stripes.
    (Not that any of us had done anything that could possibly get us in trouble with the Blue Stripes…)
  • We would take on the Temerian contracts that Master Gedymin usually took care of.
    (The ones that might not strictly speaking be legit witcher work…)
  • We would get to recruit up to 5 new adepts for the Cat School every year.

Master Toriel agreed readily.

She had probably expected a lot worse from us.

Spoons and Mirrors

After dinner that night, Stella was sitting in the tavern with Halvar and one of the new Ashes adepts, Jade. The tavern was mostly empty…

Save for a certain mirror merchant.

He came up to our table, this shady character that Bertram had described as ‘evil’. And Halvar… asked him about spoons.

What followed was the most surreal conversation I have ever been part of. Gaunter O’Dimm, heavily hinted to be the Devil himself in the Witcher games, happily started talking about his collection as he pulled a dozen spoons from his bag, overjoyed for someone to share his interest.

This must have gone on for at least twenty minutes. At one point, Stella mentions that no one can have use for that many spoons, to which O’Dimm replies:

“It’s not about using, but about having. I don’t use– well, sometimes, I use them…” And this is where it comes in handy wearing a mask, because no one noticed me choking and falling out of character as I recalled a certain scene from Heart of Stone.

O’Dimm finally departs, with a promise to Halvar of providing advice if he wants to start collecting spoons himself, and the second he’s gone Stella turns to her fellow Cat and tells him that he’s not going to start collecting spoons.

And this is where it all goes downhill, because Stella is in the same group as Halvar, and Michelle is sharing a room with his off-game counterpart.

And neither is letting go of the spoons. 

After about ten minutes of Halvar and Jade rambling about spoons, Stella spots Adrian and runs for safety. Because while insanity might follow Adrian, it’s an insanity she knows how to deal with.

After ascertaining that Adrian also finds the idea of collecting spoons to be idiotic, Stella decides to pull out the big guns once Master Elinor enters the tavern. A quick explanation of the situation has Elinor marching up to Halvar’s table and yelling at him until he agrees that maybe he should start collecting coins instead.

If only it had ended there…

Night Hunts and Cat Diplomacy

I got a break from spoons once it became time for the nightly hunt. As there were no loose werewolves or the like, the masters had prepared some tests for the adepts out in the forest. I went with Master Gunhild and some of the other Ashes, and for some reason, a Blue Stripe tagged along, as if he didn’t know what happened to Stripes that went into forests with Cats…

Our first encounter was a demon who was fond of throwing boulders at people. It was guarding the magical sigils we needed to banish it. Stella, ever the diplomat, tried to communicate:

Demon: “Fuck off!”

Stella: “You fuck off!”

When they didn’t reach an agreement, Stella spent the rest of the time dodging boulders that ended up hitting her teammates instead. Somehow, we managed to banish the damn thing and went further into the forest where we ran into more of Meinard’s angry friends. They wanted Meinard, and we had to explain to them that we hadn’t thought to bring him with us. One of them asked where Hans was, which confused the rest of the group who told him they didn’t know who Hans was.

But unfortunately, Stella did.

They weren’t really happy to learn of Hans’s death – even if it totally wasn’t Stella’s fault this time! – and they didn’t listen when Stella very reasonably tried to explain to them that they wouldn’t win if they forced the witchers to fight. But no one’s ever happy when Stella tries to be a decent person, and soon we had three dead mutants on our hands.

By now, Stella was having serious doubts about getting help from Meinard. And it wasn’t like she had been all that thrilled about the idea to begin with…

But the hunt must go on. We were nearing the cemetery when we heard noises coming from the darkness. Judging from our location and the wordless snarls, ghouls were a pretty safe bet, but we couldn’t see them. It sounded like there were two of them, but Stella would rather try to draw them out than to rush into the darkness after them, so she tactfully tried to get their attention:

“Hey, fuckers! Come out and plaaaay!”

No takers. Master Gunhild was getting impatient with how long it took us to finish the various encounters, so another member of our group engaged the unknown assailants head-on…

And that was obviously when we were attacked from behind.

Good news is that we were right: Two of the monsters were ghouls, and they were just chilling with a grave hag. Too bad we didn’t have young Victor with us, because the old gal looked like she could use a hug.

That’s it for the night hunt, really. Wish I had something more exciting to offer you, but it was mostly just us running around like headless chickens and Stella yelling insults…

Bard-offs and Catfights

Later, back at the tavern and drinking a beer courtesy of Master Gunhild, we all got to warm up by the fire, safe and sound.

Well, except for Adrian, who was dying.

As a fellow Cat, Adrian also struggled with his failing mutagens, and one of his worst side effects was an inability to cast witcher signs. Turns out he tried to cast just one sign during the hunt, and that’s how he ended up dazed and covered in blood after he managed to stagger back to the tavern. Stella, being a good friend, told him to come tell her if he died and went back to the Ashes, just in time to get a front row seat to the Bard-off between bards Robin and Severin.

The audio is rough, but that’s what happens when the cameraman has to hide on the balcony and pretend nothing like him exists.

All in all, it was a good night. But what kind of Kaer Tiele evening would it be without a little drama…?

At one point, I went upstairs to use the litter box. Everything was well when I left, everyone drinking and laughing. I was gone maybe ten minutes, but when I got back down to the entrance hall, I was met by shouting. Rather puzzled by the sight of all the tavern-goers gathered in the hall, I watched as Master Elinor and Master Fausto – the Cat masters who had been joking together when I left – faced off against each other, Elinor yelling something about Fausto betraying her, while Fausto tried to calm her down.

Elinor was not about to calm down, and when the two Cats rushed outside to the courtyard, we all followed to watch the following duel, which ended with Fausto accidentally killing Elinor.

This is when the shady shit started.

After the other masters checked that Elinor was, indeed, dead, someone called for her body to be taken to Master Meinard. This caused a lot of protests, but the Cats had other concerns at that moment. Concerns mainly about getting the traumatized Fausto into a chair in the tavern and getting him a beer, while we tried to assure him that Elinor had left him no choice and that we didn’t blame him. When Bertram showed up (seriously, I don’t think that guy ever sleeps), we told him the Cats wanted to give Elinor a proper funeral instead of leaving her with Meinard, and he promised we would talk about it in the morning.

Eventually, Halvar and Stella went up to their room and Halvar nearly died as well when we went off-game and he exclaimed:

“Now Elinor’s dead, I get to collect spoons!”

Dying Cats and Deals with the Devil

I promised you some shady shit, but bear with me for a while.

Despite actually wanting to try out a class with Master Dagmar, I decided to skip Survival after the morning warm-up, since I needed to prepare for a scene and, honestly, I could use a break.

Besides, there’s only so many times you can be told you’re crap at making fires before Survival classes lose their charm…

So I spent half the class lying in my bed, listening to the sounds from the courtyard below. I thought I heard Master Elinor’s voice at one point… but of course that’s ridiculous. I finally got up, fixed my makeup so I looked extra sick, got partly dressed, and then I popped one of Adrian’s blood capsules in my mouth.

Why did they make these things taste like real blood…?

Anyway, I made sure to get the stuff all over my lips and chin, then smeared it on my throat and over this shirt I’ve never really been that fond of, put on the rest of my costume, and then waited just long enough to be late, before I staggered downstairs to go to Fencing with Master Edwin.

I had wanted to do this scene at the tavern where I could create more panic, but coughing and spitting up fake blood in close proximity to a lot of people seemed like a very bad idea, considering the whole Covid thing, so I had to improvise. I put the last blood capsule under my tongue and staggered toward the spot where the Ashes were already doing exercises, and once they noticed me, I fell to my knees, rambling and spitting up blood when they asked me if I was okay.

…And then they went back to fencing practice, and I realized I hadn’t thought further than this point.

So I was laying there in the grass, staring at my shaking, bloodied hands, rambling about how I didn’t get a blood sample for Master Meinard every time someone approached me, but it eventually became awkward how little concern people paid me once I told them not to fetch anyone. I guess I have to work on my acting skills, because I might need to be more convincing as a dying person in the future.

In the end, I shakily got to my feet and staggered back to the castle, looking for one specific person. Luckily, Gaunter O’Dimm is somehow always around and Stella cornered the mirror merchant inside the castle and told him to fix her. He brought her upstairs to a table in a shady corner and made her explain her situation, and in the end he promised to look into it and come find her later.

So while waiting, she found Halvar who told her Elinor was back and that he gave her the spoon he had planned to put by her funeral pyre.

At this point, Stella was reaching her limit for what she could deal with.

Stella Witcher School

Fortunately, O’Dimm found her before the fucked-upness of that day got to her and she started stabbing everything out of pure frustration, and told her he could help her. He told her she would be strong and healthy, a proper witcher, and that there would only be one tiny downside. Stella didn’t care as long as she got fixed, broke the crappy, disposable spoon O’Dimm offered her in half, and then let him lead her down to the off-game area, so he could tell me about this tiny downside, before he brought me to get my new makeup done.

And this is how Stella ended up with a paralyzing fear of musicians.

Let’s hope she can renegotiate her deal in a future episode, because screaming every time she comes close to a bard is going to be problematic…

So, knowing my character was pretty screwed, but still excited to get rid of the veiny makeup I had stuck myself with, I went to the makeup room and let the experts replace it with O’Dimm’s brand. Since I was now going to be playing a vain and newly healthy Cat, I asked them to do my hair as well and while they were doing that, I made eye contact with the ‘person’ in the makeup chair next to me…

I suppose even Noonwraiths need someone to do their hair.

Noonwraiths and Cats with Nine Lives

Stella, now healthy and with great-looking hair, went full-on Cat and skipped Alchemy with Master Lile to prance around and bask in the sun. Lounging on a bench, she listened to the nearby explosions coming from the alchemy lab, watched Master Dirk lead Pebbles the Earth Elemental out of the forest – since no other explanation was forthcoming, she assumed it was just Dirk’s girlfriend – and eventually spotted Master Gunhild leading the rest of the Ashes to a secluded spot for one of her sit-down meetings (thankfully without the tea). Cheerfully, she joined them and asked if they were plotting without her, and received the glare she believes Master Gunhild reserves just for her.

This meeting was all about who we were going to vote for during the election for Grandmaster, so it was an easy one for Stella and Halvar, since the Cats had already made their arrangements.

(Telling Gunhild this earned them another glare.)

Now it was time for Archery with Master Aaron, and neither Stella nor Michelle want to miss the chance to shoot stuff, so for the second time that game they turned up to a class on time.

Now, Michelle does archery casually at home, but all her arrows have one feather in a different color to the others, so she can easily see how to turn it as she places it on the bow. Witcher School arrows are not as idiot-proof, meaning they’re like USBs – two ways to turn them, always take three tries to get it right. This earned Stella a stab in the ass with an arrow – though I do believe Master Aaron was probably aiming to hit her on the side of the hip and just missed – when she didn’t get into a proper archery stance before she started fumbling to nock her arrow.

A little while later, when Master Aaron was correcting her draw, he also very politely punched her in the face to kill a mosquito.

(Again, I do believe it’s likely because it’s safer – Covid-wise – to use knuckles instead of slapping someone, but let’s be honest: it was just a matter of time before someone punched Stella in the face.)

Her arrows didn’t seem to like Stella either. Judging from the red tint to the white feathers, she had gotten the ones that liked to slice open the hand of their archer. But what’s a little blood, as long as you get to shoot stuff…?

Unfortunately, she had to leave the lesson halfway through. Apparently there was a Noonwraith that needed banishing, and Stella didn’t want to miss it, just in case something went wrong and it turned out to be fun.

On the way into the forest, she passed by Master Elinor and had just enough time to ask her if she wasn’t supposed to be dead before she had to catch up with the group. Halvar helpfully told her that it was apparently the 7th time Meinard had resurrected Elinor, that she and Fausto had made up and were now friends, and that everything was just fine.

Halvar is a ‘go with the flow’-kind of guy.

We arrived near the Noonwraith’s haunting ground in the forest. Each of our groups were asked to come up with a wish for the Noonwraith, in order to empower the ritual to banish it. Stella informed the rest of the Ashes that had come along that someone else better come up with a suggestion, because her only idea was along the lines of “I wish you would fuck off”. Our more sensible members came up with “I wish you to find happiness in the afterlife” and off we went to join the ritual.

Turns out that a lot of rituals around Kaer Tiele involves singing. The masters had located the Noonwraith’s sister, who also turned out to be the one who killed her, so we had a lot of lovely family drama while the rest of us sat around, singing a lullaby. Then there was a lot of smoke. At one point, I got attacked by another acorn.

It was all pretty weird.

Someone Finally Stabs Meinard

We hadn’t been back long before we saw a dying Master Meinard being dragged from the forest and into the castle.

Or maybe we had… I can’t promise I’m remembering all this Wolf School drama in the right order.

Needless to say, it’s dangerous to be a mutagenist at Kaer Tiele. I had to pierce the story together over the evening, but apparently the mutants from the forest had kidnapped Master Lile, and Master Meinard, a couple other masters and some adepts, went to rescue her, killed all the mutants, and then somehow Meinard got stabbed. And despite my jumbled-up memory, I do recall that the stabbing happened AFTER all the mutants died.

As, I said: Draaaaama.

So, we had a dying mutagenist, upcoming Trial of Grasses, and several masters who wanted the post of Grandmaster.

The election wasn’t as dramatic as Svar’s trial in Episode 1, but for once the Cats took part in the voting. After all, they were getting paid for it. Or they would have been, if Master Lile hadn’t suddenly announced herself as a candidate and won by a landslide.

Guess the Kaer Marter delegation has some bribing to do next episode.

Sorcery and Totally Sensible Murder Plans

By now, it was almost time for the Trial of the Grasses for the new adepts. Stella joined a couple of the new Ashes members as they waited in the courtyard, assuring them that she would erect a tombstone for them if they died on Meinard’s table. She would, however, need to know their names.

Stella doesn’t bother with those things before she needs to.

One of the adepts (the one Stella had been referring to as ‘Chatty’ for days, but turned out to be named Coraline) said she didn’t want to end up like one of those mutants in the forest and asked Stella to make sure she was dead if she didn’t emerge from her Trials.  And Stella promised she would come murder her if it was needed.

Of course, that was the moment Master Gunhild appeared out of nowhere, prompting Stella to quickly say “She asked me to murder her, I swear!”

Master Gunhild’s ‘What are you up to, you shady piece of shit?’-look got a lot of practice this episode. And about 10 minutes later when she returned and Stella had to explain why she was threatening to murder Halvar by shoving a spoon down his throat, she had to ask:

“Why is it that every time I pass you, you’re making excuses for murder…?”

Stella wisely didn’t respond with ‘Because you keep overhearing my murder plans’, and Jade and Coraline assured Gunhild that, spoons aside, Stella was actually just being helpful for once.

I do think the Ashes might be the reason why Master Gunhild has started spiking her tea…

Murder plans aside, she did request for Stella to be the one to go get the new Ashes witchers when (and if) they made it out of the Trials and bring them to the tavern safely. So either Gunhild is going senile, or she just really hated the new recruits. But seeing as Stella had nothing else planned for the evening, she agreed to help.

See how nice Stella the Cat is being in this episode, Gunhild? She’s being positively lovely.

Now, let’s get to the part where she hightails it at the first sign of trouble and leaves everyone too slow to catch up to die.

I still don’t know why, but the sorceresses Philippa Eilhart and Lytta Neyd wanted to do some kind of ritual out in the forest. I think it had something to do with what happened to Meinard, but Stella was like “Looks like fun, let’s go along for the heck of it” and she fell in with Halvar and Master Elinor, neither of whom had any idea what was going on either. But in best Cat fashion, we trailed after the group, hoping something interesting would happen.

This part is a little hazy. We were a LOT of people out there, and the Cats had fallen to the back, so I couldn’t actually see what happened, but someone started shouting and since Stella doesn’t mess with sorcery, she took off the second someone said ‘run’. No one seemed to know what happened, but Stella did notice that neither sorceress was with them when they returned to the castle…

So apparently we just left them there.

A bit harsh, even by Cat standards. But there wasn’t much time to dwell on it. A frazzled-looking and bandaged Master Meinard stomped out of the castle and into the courtyard and started shouting.

I have never heard Meinard shout before. And this time he totally lost it. He was calling all of the masters disgusting and yelling at all of us for abandoning the castle – with a wounded master inside – and leaving it unprotected. Then he stomped off to the alchemy lab and Stella couldn’t help commenting to the pre-Trial adepts that she was happy she wasn’t going to be lying on Meinard’s table later.

But the Trials were about to commence. And since it was such a lovely night, Stella found herself a spot in the shadows on top of a banister, and waited for the screaming to start.

The Game Comes to an End

Apart from all the people Stella scared the crap out of because they hadn’t seen her sitting on the banister in the dark before they passed her, the next few hours were rather uneventful. Eventually she went to wait together with the representatives from the other groups who had gotten the honor of escorting back their new witchers. Luckily, the one from Mindless was Adrian – why do these Wolf masters think it’s a good idea to ask Cats to calm down trauma victims? – so we had a lot of fun catching up. Mainly, we talked about how Adrian had been cleared of the murder he totally didn’t commit last episode – and obviously he didn’t lead the guy into a trap or anything, either (and that’s the story we’re sticking with) – until the first adepts began staggering out.

The first of the Ashes adepts was crying and shaking, so Stella assured her she was being escorted towards beer. She also made sure she had all her limbs and told her it was a good sign her head was still the right way around. Then she brought her to the tavern, found a witcher from the Ashes and told him to tell Master Gunhild that the adept was crying before she even got to Stella and that it wasn’t Stella’s fault.

In the end, all three new adepts from the Ashes survived and Stella brought them to the tavern, before hastily leaving, since a bard had sat down at their table, and for some inexplicable reason Stella had the overpowering urge to run away screaming…

Eventually, the Trials ended, everyone got together in the courtyard, Gaunter O’Dimm dragged off Bertram, Master Ian – who I hadn’t seen do much besides arguing with Dirk and working on armor – appeared to become possessed, and then… the game was over.

I’ll be honest here, I feel the ending was rather unsatisfactory this time. If it was discovered who stabbed Master Meinard, I certainly didn’t hear about it… and who let out the mutants from his lab? What happened to the sorceresses? And is no one going to save Bertram?!

I’m fine with the whole Ian-thing being left unanswered to make a mystery for the next episode, but I really felt like the Meinard-drama needed more of a conclusion.

But enough about that. It was time for the afterparty, which meant:

Food.

Not to mention seeing a smile on Master Gunhild’s face, since her off-game persona Danai gets along much better with Michelle than any of their respective characters ever do. And I got to find the guy who played Gaunter and ask him “Do you know what you did to me?! There are bards everywhere!” to which I received a joyful grin and the words “Oh, I know.”

But he made it up to me when he let me borrow his spoon, so I could go to the photobooth with Daniel (aka Halvar) and take a picture where I was about to beat the crap out of him with a spoon.

If it turns out good, it will be my screensaver forever.


As always, I will update this post once I get some pictures. I know this wasn’t the most exciting episode to read about, but I still had a good time, even if it was less intense than usual.

All that’s left for me to say is:

Don’t do spoons, kids. Not even once.