Friday, January 10, 2014

Spin the Globe: The Old Forest

Yes, it’s been some time for this particular category, my fine fellow freeps. But not to worry, this time we’ve got a very action-packed adventure headed your way, featuring…*drumroll*...The Old Forest! (Specifically, the parts designed to keep you up at night. No Tom Bombadil here, sorry!)
Miri: Really? The Old Forest? You do realize how creepy that place is, right?

Coda: Well, yeah. But we’ll be warding off the creepiness.
Miri: ...How?
Coda: With these! *presents clothes*
Miri: I am not putting that on.
So! With our special circus-themed, darkness-warding garments firmly in place, we bravely set out on our most colorful steeds for the eaves of the Old Forest.
Now this is a thing unheard of: a hobbit walks freely into the trees when an elf dare not.

Now, a little bit of history before we begin our trek to particularly frightening bits of this place. The Old Forest (along with Fangorn Forest) is all that’s left of the ancient, primordial woodland that spanned most of Eriador in the beginning of Middle-Earth. During the First and Second Ages, the elves taught parts of this forest the power of speech and movement, a power that they have kept to this day.
The forest came under threat of destruction during the Second Age from men using their wood for building and crafting, but especially from Sauron’s declaration of war on the elves. Most of the forest was decimated from the fires of Sauron, but the Old Forest is one pocket that has survived. Over time, the trees have become wild and corrupted, the forest infested with evil creatures that thrive in its depths. The forest is bounded on the east by the equally horrifying Barrow-Downs and on the west by the Hay (or the Hedge) built by the Brandybucks as a border of the Shire.
Yeah, it’s creepy and very, very old; we get it. Now, let’s go!

We didn’t get very far before we got a little turned around. That tends to happen in this place quite a bit though…
We stopped to ask for directions, but the wolf seemed just as lost as we were. Oh, well. Onwards!

Originally, we were aiming for the Withywindle as a mid-way point, but we somehow ran into several dead ends in the bat-infested corner of the forest, where we came across...what is that anyway?
We still have no idea. There are older and fouler things than walking trees in the old forests of the world, apparently.

As we neared the river (we think, anyway), we ran into a fellow adventurer taking on...yes, that is in fact a walking tree. Oh, stop gibbering, Miri, this is exciting!
Codella practices cheerleading while Miri whimpers on the ground. Somehow I feel this adventure has reversed our roles…

Not content with scaring the pants off her fellow adventurer, Codella decides to scout ahead...without telling her comrade. This is what she returned to.

After promising on pain of...something very painful not to leave her again, the two continued down to the Withywindle and on a whim, began following it to the south. After passing a couple of ruined campsites and other increasingly twisted trees, the scenery began getting rather misty. Ah yes, the Withywindle Crossing. Home of bears.
Lots of bears.

Enjoy this pantomime by a somewhat stressed-out Miri while Coda looks on in amused concern.
Here, bear. Have a pretzel.

C’mon, it’s tasty, I promise!
Look, I spent the better part of a week learning how to make these. The least you could do is try it!

Fine, I’ll just force it in then! See how you like it stuffed down your throat! *hysterical laugh*
Just eat the stupid pretzel!!!
Coda: Okay, I’m cutting you off.
After getting Miri calmed down and back on her garishly colored horse, we finally headed out to our next stop, the spider den!
With some lovely scenery along the way, of course.

Once again finding ourselves a little turned around, we stumbled across something that pretty much screamed: “You! Yeah, you! This is the Spider Den!”
You know you’re dealing with insects of unusual size when you find things like this in creepy little corners of the woods.

But of course, being the seasoned and marginally insane travellers we are, just entering the spider den wasn’t enough for us. Oh no, we had to find the biggest, the baddest,’s a huge spider, guys. You can’t get much creepier than that. (Unless you’re a Kergrim.)
Lebrennil, mother of the Old Forest brood. Your friendly neighborhood bloggers act accordingly.

After leading the beastie on a merry chase, Miri finally managed to bring it down in a stirringly dramatic fight that Codella would have sung about were she a minstrel.
Codella hangs back to watch the battle and unwittingly provides an amusing sense of scale. Tiny little hobbit!

The beast brought low. Codella had to take this shot, as Miri refused to go any closer after the fight.

After this battle, we turned to go home, when what should capture our attention, but this:
A tree stands alone in the farthest glade of the forest, covered in sticky, corrupted webs…

‘Tis the Haunted Barren-Oak! Run, Miri, run!

After a thrilling chase back through the spider den, we finally managed to strike back upon the Withywindle, and (yes, we know you were worried) made it out in one piece.

Coda: Whew! Remind me about this whole thing next time I say I have an idea.
Miri: *exhausted glare* Noted.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Halloween Party Aftermath

Yeah, yeah, it’s been a while. If we ever gave the impression that we were punctual and responsible, we apologize and wonder what insane conspiracy theorist you picked that idea up from.

So, last thing we mentioned was a Halloween extravaganza. We are pleased to report it went off without a hitch and we hope to host more themed parties at the Tavern in the future, so stay tuned if that’s your beef!

(A WILD HOBBIT appears!
Wild Hobbit: Where’s the beef?!
Codella: Er...)
A little open mic complete with refreshments. Try not to fall in the bear pool.

For a breakdown of the schedule, please see the previous entry, because we are not typing all of that up again.

After a suitable number of people arrived at our gates (mostly from Sons of Numenor, thanks for the representation, guys!), Chalse and Codella began the tour, with Miri noticeably absent. We trucked on regardless and eventually discovered her lurking in dark corners throughout the tavern, being generally creepy.
No, that’s not a disembodied lantern, that’s our kinleader. *sigh*

Anyway, after the ghost incident was sorted and the guests were suitably terrified, we settled down with some good old bagpipe/pibgorn music then took a break with an open mic.
Costumes as follows: Codella (left) as a goblin, Mirinaeth (middle) as Rowena Ravenclaw, and Chalse (right) as a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people-eater.

Next was the costume contest! And what a doozy that was. First place was the gorgeous Fionwyn, second was the indecipherable Fincin (!), and third was the adorkable Thompetti. Congrats, guys! Oh, but we’re not done. As an unannounced treat, we added two categories for scariest and silliest costumes. What we didn’t anticipate was the same person winning both: Benjimir the giant chicken in overalls! (We estimate he managed two sentences in Westron the whole night, and that was only after successfully completing the Inn League challenge.)

[Picture removed after complaints of frightening young children and hobbits...and elves. No matter what she says.]
And what do you follow up with after such a display of artistic talent and tailor-ish prowess? Musical chairs, of course. What universe do you live in? With four participants and a little confusion after Miri almost dropped her bagpipes into the reflecting pool, we believe Xandrin won this round...or possibly Vierra. It was a long night, guys.

After another rousing set of spooky music, we moved outside for the ghost stories contest. The rules were simple: two sentences in which the contestants tried to scare our pants off. With a unanimous staff vote, Thompetti won the first round with this chilling number:

“We had just begun to dance and I asked her name… Sara Oakheart was all she said…”

Kind of curdles the blood, doesn’t it? Fionwyn stepped up next with a historically frightening tale that won the audience vote by a narrow margin:

“It is said that Ungoliant came from the black void beyond the skies over Arda, some fell spirit of utter emptiness who took the form of a giant spider. It is also said she was a corrupted Maiar who drained the sacred wells of Varda and it is from there her ravenous hunger came to be.”

As if we needed another reason to hate spiders. *shudder* Miri threw her hand in as well, though the text has since been mysteriously lost. A-hem...I said mysteriously! Anyway, Xandrin finished out the night with a light-hearted story that lifted our spirits and earned him a consolation prize:

“The ghost howls through the Haunted Burrow at midnight. He would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those pesky kids!”

Finally, it was time for our Halloween skit, with our special volunteer, Vierra! She was a great sport, and we had a ton of fun gamboling around the stage. We had time for one more open mic before we played the night away and scared everyone off with more pibgorn and even moor cowbell. Haha, get it... get it? Once everyone was gone we polished off the last of the booze and wound up in some interesting corners of Middle-Earth.
“...I have no memory of this place,” the hobbit dressed as a goblin stated sadly, as she was led away to a comfy jail cell.

So! As an apology for the lack of pictures in this post, we’ve included a special behind-the-scenes look at what we went through to prepare for this monstrosity of a party. Have fun!
This was an early exorcism concept gone horribly wrong. ...We ended up keeping the turtle heads, though.

Picture taking is often a long and tedious process. But there are some fun outtakes to get out of it!
Wherein Miri plays the part of Gollum, Chalse tries to run away, and Codella is so done with this.

Wherein Chalse is creepy, Miri attempts murder, and Codella is still definitely not looking.

Wherein there are two equally terrifying things happening in Miri and Coda’s line of vision...and Chalse is oblivious.

Some more of Ghost Miri. Once she figured out it was possible to emote while using Silvan Shadows, well...the rest is history.

It’s not all fun and games though. This is just one of many days we spent fishing for dirty skulls. ...It seemed like a good prize idea at the time!

And my personal favorite and because I love you all and sleep is overrated anyway:
Miri’s nightmare closeup shot. You're welcome.