Nigel took us to a secret tunnel under the city. The trip to the Resistance hideout was mostly uneventful, though Nigel and I were both engulfed by a floating acid-cube. Luckily, I was able to misty-step my way out of the cube and Nigel managed to crawl out.
Soon, we arrived in a large room full of interesting people. I wandered off from the group, hoping to find a new friend. I met a strong, ruggedly handsome blacksmith (Drako) and a short yet muscular woman with a lovely midriff (Braenria). Both let me know that this was the place to get reasonably-priced black market weapons.
At that point, Nigel called me over to the group which (minus Grok) had been discussing jobs we could do for the Eel of Gold to earn a referral to the merpeople. They took my blood in order to punish me if I told anyone the location of their hideout. I find that very disturbing, but I felt I had no choice, despite Eel saying I had one.
The three jobs that he had suggested were 1) to steal an item from the Blackwaters, 2) to save a Blackwater lady whose family has her locked up, 3) to get rid of the guards who keep the Blackwater lady. We chose to rescue the Blackwater lady.
The Eel of Gold was creepy. He, quite impossibly, knew my name and implied he had spies on the surface. He had a chest which he claimed could send items to the surface, and urged us all to write a letter to someone on the surface. I was a little suspicious that he was going to read them for nefarious reasons. I’m not sure what reason, though.
Here is the letter I wrote to my lover Oneida:
I long to see you. I hope this letter finds you. I know you are traveling on your own adventure, looking for heroes to save your people from the evil mongooses ravaging your young. I was on my way to find you when I found myself shunted without ceremony into the depths of the underdark. I am trapped here, but my group and I are working to get back up to the surface. In the meantime, I am searching for more soulmates, hopefully to join us in loving embrace. I have found a wonderful bunny of steel. His name is Bouncy Inferno. I love him dearly. I hope he will return with me to the surface.
I am not in a rush to get to the surface, but my group is – and that’s fine by me. As soon as I am up, I will begin making my way to you again.
Oneida is a tortle wizard from the Snout if Omgar. I have been friends with her since we were both children. Here is a painted miniature I have in a locket around my neck.
Strangely, I forgot to ask any of the people I spoke to about Giovanni. I will ask Nigel in the morning.
Anyhow, after we had completed our letters, we were taken to a large room filled with magical items. We were able to borrow some items to help us on our quest. I borrowed some Boots of Elvenkind, which make me stealthy and the Rod of the Pactkeeper which makes me a more powerful warlock.
Then, we were allowed to decompress and rest for the night. I had to take a soak to get all the cube-goo off of me. I met a nice minotaur who was a great listener…though strangely he never seems to leave the baths – no matter how long he’s been in there.
Saturday, I worked later than expected because the person who was supposed to relieve me forgot she was supposed to work. By the time I got home, I was going to be 45 minutes late to D&D, but surprise, surprise there wasn’t a time change in Denmark yet, though it had changed in the US. So I was actually early.
We played a lovely game of D&D. Immediately followed by my having BBQ with a friend. After that, I spent a little time with Aaron and IL4 before going out with my friend Todd to a club. I didn’t really want to go out, because I wanted to sleep, but his mom texted and asked me to hang out with him because he was having a hard time.
Sunday I had Olive Garden with IL4 and my friend Liz and we discussed Sixteen Scandals, by Sophie Jordan. M10 went to rehearsal for his musical production. IL4 went to swim lessons. Then we had family day. It was D13’s choice, and we watched a few episodes of Psych. Afterwards, I went to work – starting my nasty 60 hour work week.
Monday D13 had an appointment. Then I ran errands with dad, then went to Perkins. At work in the evening, my client really wanted to buy me dinner, and I felt bad telling her that I’d eaten my calorie fill for the day, so I ate it. Oh well. I’ve been doing well recently. One bad day won’t hurt. Except that eating a lot always makes me hungier the next day.
Tuesday was ok. My throat started to hurt AGAIN and I was going to go to Urgent Care because it’s been 5 weeks (if I’m remembering correctly). But then dad wanted to go to Perkins, and for some reason I prioritized that because I figured he asked because he was lonely.
I had two people come in to give me an estimate for asbestos removal. One quote not only came with the better sales pitch, but also with a lower quote by over $1000. I’m going with that guy. Even if he were slightly more, he also seemed more competent. Now I just need to figure out what to do about my cats during this project. One of them is close to death, and I don’t want the stress to kill her. My client offered to take her for the day, but I’m concerned about her bladder control issues in someone else’s house. I’ll probably box her up in my super-large cat cage and sit in the car with her all day. The other cats can be locked in a room upstairs. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the stuff in that room. being our storage space, it’s a lot of stuff.
Wednesday was a bust. I spent the whole day sleeping on and off because I’d taken NyQuil the night before, which makes me drowsy. D13 and M10 had their first production of Willy Wonka in the evening.
Thursday was a good day. 15 hours of paid work, plus I got my cross stitch organized for starting. I didn’t get my scrapbooking stuff organized as I had hoped. I got lots of audiobook listened to. The kids were off from Willy Wonka rehearsal for the day, but D13 had middle school play rehearsal.
Friday I spent a lot of quality time with IL4 after his speech therapy. We had lunch with Aaron, played shuffleboard, and spent two and a half hours at the library (which he chose over the park). D13 and M10 had a Willy Wonka production in the evening.
Reading to IL4
The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet, by Kevin Sherry
The Yeti Files: Monsters on the Run, by Kevin Sherry
The premise of this book is that Jesus was not a peaceful man who was snarky about the Romans – he was actually a militant fighter for Israeli rights. It was well-researched and an interesting alternative point of view, but I found the evidence Aslan presented that he was militant rather flimsy. It was reading a lot into the situation, and not using the Bible’s account of Jesus at face value at all. I do agree that Paul changed Jesus’ message to say things Jesus didn’t actually say, but that’s as far as Aslan’s evidence convinced me. Still worth a read, though.
In this adorable story about fitting in, Boo is a new friend. But he has trouble fitting in because he can’t play a lot of their games since he can’t touch anything. So his friends find a game he can play. It’s a wonderful book about inclusivity.
In this delightful story, an egg is busy trying to encourage his fellow eggs to be good. Then he starts to crack under all the pressure of paying attention to what everyone else is doing. It’s a good moral about worrying about yourself and not what other people are doing. Great for many adults in today’s society, as well as my older two kids.
Saturday I forgot to do anything. I worked in the morning, vegged until it was time to go to laser tag with M10, then went to work. The kids didn’t do anything interesting (besides M10’s laser tag), either.
Sunday was fun. I cleaned the livingroom – or tried to. I got the floor half swept and then didn’t have the energy to do more. I guess I needed to take it easy despite feeling a lot better. Aaron finished sweeping for me, though.
In the afternoon, Aaron and I took IL4 to swim lessons. After that, we played a couple of games, had dinner delivered, and watched Psych as a family.
Monday I was super, duper tired. Apparently I’m still sick. 🙁 I took D13 to an appointment, and then IL4 to Urgent Care. He’d had an ear infection the night before, with a fever that didn’t immediately respond to Tylenol. (Suppositories apparently take longer, and he refuses oral.) He still had an ear infection in the morning, but it didn’t hurt anymore. 🤷♀️ D13 had Willy Wonka rehearsal, as well as rehearsal for her middle school play. M10 graduated from Cub Scouts to BSA, so he missed Willy Wonka rehearsal. I took IL4 to the library in the city of D13’s rehearsal while waiting, and it was HUGE.
Tuesday was frustrating. It started with me taking M10 to an appointment. But the appointment didn’t exist once we got there. The woman seemed quite certain I had made a mistake and wrote it down on the wrong date, but our last appointment was two weeks before, and our next appointment was two weeks after, and none of my other recorded appointments were wrong. Logically, that seems more like they made a mistake in scheduling (told me they made an appointment but didn’t finalize) or that it had been cancelled and only biomom (not me, the stepmom) was notified (that’s happened more than once in the past.) The rest of the day was strangely open, too, because I moved an activity from Tuesday to Thursday.
But while I was pondering my suddenly open day, it occurred to me that my friend Todd hadn’t replied to me in two days, and in fact the last time I talked to him he had been pondering suicide, had the means to do it, and had packed up all his belongings so that it was easier to move them when he was gone. The last conversation had ended with me believing he was going to go to his mom’s. Besides, this isn’t the first time this has happened. So I contacted his mom, who also hadn’t heard from him in two days. After a bit of worrying, I finally sent a message to Todd saying I was going to send a wellfare check on him if he didn’t answer. He immediately answered and told me to go away after I suggested lunch. Very Todd. One sure way of getting an answer is to threaten to send the police. I should have thought of it sooner. I went to lunch with Aaron instead. Then I took dad to the doctor for what may be pneumonia.
Then, in the evening, I got this call from someone claiming to be a cop with someone he said was my sister. (The “sister” was blubbering incoherently in the background.) Not having any reason to doubt this story, I started driving to pick her up. Then, they changed their story and said they were The Mexican Mafia. (“Have you heard of us?” He asked. “No.” I honestly answered. Sounds vaguely racist, I thought. Is this a real thing? People call themselves the “Mexican Mafia? That’s kind of lame. He explained that they were a drug cartel.)
Anyway, so they told me they’re going to kill my sister and her kids if I don’t bring them money. I immediately pulled over. Because. Uh. Sounds like I would just get killed myself? What’s the point in that? And before you laugh too hard, keep in mind my sister has been arrested 4 times for dealing cocaine, so the ball wasn’t entirely out of the arena with the idea she’d gotten in above her head.
Anyhoo, I dialed 911 on my dad’s phone and let them listen in on the conversation with 911 operator muted. Hey, I thought it was a good idea and was under duress. The “Mexican Mafia” guy was threatening to kill my sister if I hung up. 🤷♀️ What was I supposed to do?
So the 911 operator hangs up and calls me back so many times that I finally hang up in mafia guy out of frustration. (I guess my sister is dead now?) The operator yells at me for not talking to her, telling me it was a scam. Well, now that she says it, the whole thing was rather suspicious. Howvee, she continues to rudely scold me for the way I handled the situation and I said “I thought my sister was going to get killed if I hung up, do you understand that?” The b**** said “No, I don’t understand that.”
You know what pisses me of? Her. She pisses me off more than the scammers. She is supposed to be a decent person to people under duress, and she was a b****. She’s paid to be patient. She’s supposedly trained to be patient. Training fail. Yeah. Still pissed off at her.
I adrenaline crashed the rest of the night and couldn’t stay awake.
END OF TRIGGER WARNING
Wednesday morning I had a tough discussion with M10. He wrote a short comedic story about summoning Lucifer. I told him that I know I watch Supernatural, Lucifer, and Good Omens, but that he has to realize when he writes something like that for a classroom, some people are going to be offended. He claimed no one he knows in his school is religious. I explained that he didn’t know that. He was offended. I suspect he was offended because he’d wanted me to praise the story. I didn’t much because I think I was a little offended, I guess. It took me a while to figure out that Lucifer from Lucifer and Crowley from Supernatural are likable, but they are evil. They are nuanced characters. And Crowley from Good Omens is even more nuanced that Lucifer and Supernatural. M10’s story lacked nuance, and left me with the icky feeling that he didn’t understand that devil worship entailed worshiping evil (as I understand it – never met a devil worshiper, I guess).
Other than that, I did nothing. D13 had middle school rehearsal. M10 auditioned for a solo in the musical production he’s in. He doesn’t have much skill at high notes, but good on him for trying.
Thursday was a lot of paid work, but no appointments. D13 and M10 had their first Willy Wonka dress rehearsal. IL4 took some toys from the school – he snuck them into his backpack when no one was looking. When he got them out, I said “Oh, an excavator!” This little man, who can’t even hold a conversation schooled me though. “Not excavator! This on back! Backhoe.” I Googled it. He was right. Does that count as a conversation? It almost felt like one.
Unfortunately, my sore throat and fatigue returned Thursday. I’m going to try to make a doctor appointment. Urgent Care wait times are so long!
Friday I decided to reassert myself in cross-stitch and scrapbooking once a week. This time, I watched a video on how to cross stitch instead of assuming it was easy. Although this nice Southern gentleman made it look easy, he also gave some tips (like how to thread a needle and how to tie off the first stitch) that would have been helpful my first time trying cross-stitch. 😂🤣 Next week (on Thursday) I will start sorting pictures for my scrapbooking.
The rest of Friday was pretty laid back. I read to IL4, wrote two letters, got out my 20lb vest so on Saturday I can wear it all day for extra exercise, and took IL4 to the library.
Reading to IL4
Attack of the 50-Foot Fluffy, by Mike Boldy
Boo Who?, by Ben Clanton
The Bad Seed, by Jory John and Pete Oswald
DJ Funkyfoot Butler for Hire, by Tom Angleberger
Dona Esmeralda, Who Ate Everything!, By Melissa de la Cruz & Primo Gallanosa
Llama Destroys the World, by Jonathan Stutzman & Heather Fox
Fuzz, by Mary Roach
Dragonbreath, by Ursula Vernon
Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs, by Ursula Vernon
Dragonbreath: Curse of the Were-wiener, by Ursula Vernon
Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster, by Ursula Vernon
Dragonbreath: Revenge of the Horned Bunnies, by Ursula Vernon
Enraged by Giovanni’s sneakiness, I shot an Eldritch Blast his way, and we had an epic battle in which Bonkers and Haga tragically lost their lives. I, too, almost died but was brought back to health just in the nick of time by a beautiful albino minotaur named Raazmi Ironhoof. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my attack, because I suspect Giovanni is part of the Resistance, and I’m very fond of the Resistance already (more on that later). But maybe we can be friends again. I hope so. He was very charming.
Raazmi took us to the temple, where we were offered food and a clean room to sleep. But only a few hours into the night, a nothic started taunting us. He sneaked around and announced our deepest secrets to the whole room. (Raazmi has a crush on fellow cleric Nigel, but I don’t think he returns the interest.)
We tried to talk it into submission, but it finally irritated me by harming Adalene, so I Eldritch Blasted its ass. Another battle ensued, and we managed to knock him out. Nigel apologized profusely, and he and Raazmi sent him back to his original plane with an incantation. I was originally suspicious that Nigel had put him in our room to suss out our secrets, but I’ve since then decided he’s pretty cool.
In the morning, Raazmi let us know she wanted to join us on our travels. Nigel obligingly told us a few ways we could try to get out of Vlyn’darastyl, but he seemed to think it was pretty unlikely we’d manage, since all the routes seemed impossible. I didn’t really pay that much attention – I was people watching the crowds of people eating at the temple dining hall. I figured the others knew what they were doing.
After eating, we went to the docks to look for a ship that could go upstream. We spoke to the Dockmaster Captain Dirge Sunder, who was kind enough to set up a meeting with the merpeople who control these special ships.
The merpeople, Gold Lips and Kaza Mom, told us we had to be vouched for – and a good person to vouch for us would be the former politician Eel of Gold.
Now at a loss for anything better to do, Raazmi led us to a board with job listings. We saw some guards removing contraband fliers, and managed to grab one up – they were advertising the Resistance. There were a bunch of jobs, including a 5000 gp reward for dead Eel of Gold and 10000 gp reward for live Eel of Gold. Good to note.
We chose a job posing for a statue. Briefly as we were on our way there I had the fleeting worry that we were about to be petrified…and what do you know, the bitch had a basilisk. In our battle worthy of epic songs, we killed the basilisk and “artist.” Grok was almost petrified, but managed to crack out of the stone encompassing him just in time. Kinda serves him right opening his eyes. But I’m happy he made it. Losing Bonkers and Haga really shook me.
Feeling a little put out by the battle, and unsure of what to do next, we decided to go back to the temple and ask Nigel about the Eel of Gold. He was wary to talk to us, but we persuaded him that we only needed Eel of Gold to vouch for us to the merpeople – we didn’t intend on turning him in to the authorities. After all, it’s none of our business.
Turns out Eel of Gold leads the Resistance against the tyranny of the Blackwater family, who rule Vlyn’darastyl. And, much to my surprise, since Nigel seems so insipid, he is the right-hand man of Eel of Gold. I’m seeing that there’s more to Nigel than I suspected. I may have a crush on him, too.
Saturday, I worked till 11:30am, then immediately started playing a 5 hour session of D&D. Then I pretty much crashed for the day. M10 had a great time at the Pinewood Derby with his mom.
Let me tell you, by Sunday I was sick of being sick. I understand the lingering cough, but the 2-week-long sore throat? The shortness if breath? I wonder if I had the flu…but I had no fever. It’s not strep or COVID, that’s all I know.
Anyway, Sunday I relaxed through the first half and had family day through the second half. We played Uno (IL4 is really getting to understand the rules!) and Charades for Kids, which has pictures of what you’re supposed to act out so that kids who can’t read can play. About half the time, IL4 would tell us what it was before acting it out. Then we watched Hunger Games while IL4 hid in his blanket fort with the computer.
M10 had rehearsal for his musical show. D13 had been with her mom, and was feeling a bit glum after leaving her. ☹️
Still sick on Monday with this never-ending virus. I’d been hoping to go to Urgent Care, but the daycare called and said they thought IL4 had pink eye. I didn’t agree. Yes, he had eye crusties, but his eyes weren’t pink. So he, dad, and I went to Perkins for lunch.
Before that call came in, D13 had a doctor appointment and I had someone look at the basement to give us a quote on fixing the flooding. His quote was very reasonable considering the gigantic quote we got from the other guy. I’d been thinking of cancelling the basement guy due to illness, but decided two weeks in I’m probably not contagious, and I could just wear a mask.
In the evening, D13 had middle school play rehearsal followed immediately by Willy Wonka rehearsal. M10 skipped Willy Wonka rehearsal to go to his dress rehearsal for his graduation from Cub Scouts into Scouts BSA. IL4 slept most of the evening, and I crashed early.
Still sick on Tuesday. I wanted to go to Urgent Care, because I’m sick of this, but I had IL4 home due to the maybe pink eye. Instead, I took him to the doctor, who decided to treat the eye just in case. Aaron, dad, and I went to Outback Steakhouse after D13 got back from rehearsal. She didn’t want to come, and neither did M10.
I guess one benefit of being sick more than two weeks is that I’m not hungry, so I’m losing weight. Probably just dehydrated and have an empty gut, but I’ve lost 6lbs in 2 weeks.
Still sick on Wednesday. Ugh. IL4 had an audiology appointment since they had trouble testing him at his Well-Child visit in February. The older kids had Willy Wonka rehearsal in the evening.
Thursday. Guess what. Still sick. M10 had a play at school based on the story Fly Away Home, by Eve Bunting. He did great. Then D13 had an orthodontist appointment – another “few weeks” of alligners upcoming! We thought we were done. We pick those up in a month, so we have a break from scanning her mouth weekly, at least. It’s a hard task with IL4 around, and we both hate doing it. Then I napped for 2.5 hours, and awoke with a worse sore throat than when I went to sleep. We ended the evening with our family game of D&D.
Friday was excellent. Despite a slightly sore throat, I felt almost normal. I even got some cleaning done! If this keeps up, I’ll be able to start exercising again on Monday. I took the day to read and relax. M10 had rehearsal for his special villager part in Willy Wonka.
Reading to IL4
Tiny T Rex and the Impossible Hug, by Jonathan Stutzman and Jay Fleck
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, by Ryan T Higgins
Don’t Feed the Coos, by Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox
Little Good Wolf, by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
Off to See the Sea, by Nikki Grimes and Elizabeth Zunon
Eva’s Treetop Festival, by Rebecca Elliot
The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken, by Doreen Cronin
EXPLANATION: I have separated my productivity time into life, body, spirit and mind. My goal is for the month of March is 60 hours mind, 12 hours body, 80 hours spirit. I don’t have a life goal, because the purpose of this exercise is to spend less time on life, and more time on personal development. I consider all structured necessary productivity to be life. I make the goals challenging, and reward myself for 80% or more completion.
When Prim turns 16, she expects to be put “out” in society by her mom. But, alas! Her mom has other plans. So Prim decides to take her life into her own hands by sneaking out of the house and going for a night on the town. Romance and comedy ensues. This was a cute Regency romance-style book for teens. It’s clean humor, sweet, and fun. It would be a good way to introduce young teens to Regency romance.
Brian is invisible. His teacher only sees the loud students. His classmates only see their friends. But when a new kid joins the class, Brian is kind to him. And suddenly he’s not invisible anymore. This is a cute story with wonderful pictures and a good moral for kids to empathize with.