25 July 2012

Grimm: Part 4 - Once Upon A Time

This is the fourth part of an ongoing series about Grimm. Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 5.

Actual Play


Once upon a time, there were seven very special children, though they didn't know they were special yet. They lived in what they thought of as a very normal town, but it was not normal; it was a very special town. This special town was located next to a very dark place, so dark all of the kids called it the Black Forest. At the beginning of this tale we find our very special children celebrating the eighth birthday of the youngest of their band, Charlotte, who very much so thinks of herself of a princess. In fact, that is all that she wanted for her birthday - to be a princess. On this special day she was granted her wish as she blew out all of her candles in one breath (even the trick candles). What none of these very special children knew on this special day is that it would mark the beginning of an adventure. One which would leave them all changed, for better or worse. One that would mark the beginning of Humpty Dumpty's Second Fall. One that would remind all of them, be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.

Cast of Characters

Roland, the Bully (4th grade)
Sophie, the Dreamer (4th grade)
Elena, the Jock (4th grade)
William, the Nerd (4th grade)
Quinn Valentine, the Popular Kid (4th grade)
Lance, Sophie's older brother (6th grade, NPC)
Charlotte, William's little sister (2nd grade, NPC)

When gathered together the kids of this town were much like any other: they would constantly dare each other to perform more and more outlandish feats. And no feat was more outlandish than to travel to the Black Forest and retrieve something as proof that you had been there. Naturally the more impressive the proof, particularly from deeper and farther off the path, the greater the fleeting respect from their peers. This was the situation that our special children found themselves in, and since it was Charlotte's birthday and she was a princess, she wanted the prettiest thing ever from the center of the Black Forest. She had heard that there was a ring of rainbow fairy stones. As every little princess knows, nothing is prettier than a rainbow fairy stone, whatever that may be.

The Black Forest has a sinister reputation for a reason, even if the children didn't know it. It isn't unheard of for animals and even people to go missing under its darkened canopy. Parents, even those without a superstitious bone in their body, always forbade their children from going into the Black Forest unattended. And children, even those comprised entirely of superstitious bones, wanted nothing more than to go into the Black Forest unattended.

And this is how our group of youngsters find themselves within the confines of the Black Forest unattended but for Lance, the eldest at 11, but far from the wisest. Their journey deeper into the woods became subtly more sinister as the boughs blocked more and more light and the path became less and less path-like. The peace of nature was replaced by the menace of nature and songbirds turned to crows. As is the way of things, it became pitch black before there was light again and the children began to suspect that they were no longer in the forest they had entered.

Continuing their travels, Sophie, always prepared for arts and crafts, decided it was an excellent idea to mark their way. Applying a day-glo yellow washable marker to a nearby tree lead to series of startling discoveries: trees can talk, they are surly, do not enjoy fine art, have awfully toothy maws and are hungry. Also slow. Capitalizing on the final trait, the children made their escape to a road with hungry but slow tree giving chase until it became too discouraged by how slow it was and how not slow the children were and soon the children found themselves at a crossroad.

At the crossroad was a large hanging cage and a signpost pointing in the four directions. To the left was "Princess - In Peril", forward was "Princess - In Peril", to the right was "Princess - Safe In Peril" and finally, the way they had come "Seven Children - In Peril". While deliberating their options, they were verbally accosted by a severely emaciated character within the cage who claimed to be "Not Quite Dead Pete".

Not Quite Dead Pete also made some claims regarding the peril to the right (quite perilous) as well as the fact he was not alone in his cage, "Dead Pete" and "Really Dead Pete" were also in there. Not very good conversationalists, because they were dead. Except during the full moon, but they still didn't like to talk about the causes of their death, evidently a sensitive subject, though each had met their particular fate in a different direction at the crossroads.

Deciding that Dead Pete was obviously a man of vision during his life, these special children embarked in that direction. Which was to the left. As they traveled, they could not help but detect a rotten odor in the air as the night sky became visible. Nor could the man in the sky fishing for Pisces off of the crescent moon be missed. Continuing, the road sloped down and provided a commanding view of the area, including a castle in the distance wrapped in vines and flowers.

It was around this time that a beam of moonlight was cast down and illuminated a sword within a stone. All being familiar with the Disney classic of roughly the same name, the very special children decide to have a go at pulling the sword from the stone. In the end, it was Lance that claimed the silver blade as his prize. Written in moonlight, an inscription read "The child with this sword shall herald the Fall of the Rotten King." Feeling very satisfied with their acquisition, they continued. Their satisfaction was to be all too short-lived.

Not long after claiming this treasure, a strange sound could be heard approaching. The clanking of metal, but not the sound of hooves. A group of horses mounted on knights rode forth and at their lead was a twisted figure in horrifying armor to match the horrifying form underneath - the Ugly Duckling. He brought his horses to a halt and demanded the sword and in return he would spare their lives. Full of the bravery that only children that have never felt fear can possess, they rebuked the Ugly Duckling, particularly Quinn who remarked on just how ugly he was. The Ugly Duckling is not one to suffer such an insult without retaliation, and after a great deal of impotent sputtering ordered his horses to slay the bearer of the sword and take the others alive for the king.

The Bully's threats had no effect and Elena's fastball was no use against their armor. Even the magic of William and Sophie (and something very strange happened with Sophie's magic, something that would come back to haunt them) did little to stop the Ugly Duckling and the king's horses and the king's men. Lance bravely stood before his charges, as he was the oldest and also had a badass sword and was some kind of hero of legend. Unfortunately for Lance, he was not the hero of this story. The Ugly Duckling's lance pierced his chest easily and he fell to the ground as the Ugly Duckling squawked in triumph, ordering the king's horses to seize the other children.

Sophie used her chalk to draw a door on a tree to somewhere else and opened it for other children to escape. Brave Elena ran back just in time to snatch the sword and through the door before it closed on her. It was then they found themselves being regurgitated from a suddenly very full and even more upset tree decorated in day-glo yellow. Again they ran as the tree sought to regain its senses regarding the sudden reappearance of what it had hoped would be dinner, just moving the wrong way out of it. Again, the tree learned a valuable lesson about being so very slow as the children escaped its maw again, quite literally this time.

Hearing the Ugly Duckling and the king's horses and the king's men approach, the children hid within the woods. "I can smell the sword, it is here somewhere," the Ugly Duckling pronounced (poorly, he has quite a speech impediment). "It is of no matter," he continued, "they will come to us with the sword because this one is still alive and he will be in the dungeon until I have flayed all of the skin from his bones." Knowing that the children were near, he laid his trap for them. Also, the Ugly Duckling was tired and a little lazy and he does not get paid for overtime.

Breathing a collective sigh of relief, the realization dawned upon our special children of what just happened. Gritting their teeth, they soldier on and after some travel in a direction, they see a cheery camp on the road. William, with the aid of his trusty binoculars, identifies the camp as belonging to jolly dwarfs with food and drink. Motivated by their stomachs and a desire for safety, the children move to greet the encampment.

Upon arriving, they see the noses were a little longer than was initially thought, with awfully long ears, red bowler hats and rather large, pointy teeth. Now correctly identified as redcaps (a particularly ravenous and messy breed of goblin), the children once again find themselves in a fight or flight situation. They run with a slim head start and find the crossroad once more. Deciding that another body certainly couldn't make anything worse at this point (right?), Sophie "finds" a key. Using this artifact created by her over-abundance of imagination, she quickly frees Not Quite Dead Pete and the children make an escape with their new companion and the redcaps close behind.

The chase seems to come to an end when the children and Not Quite Dead Pete reach a clearing with a large stream that turns rapidly into a waterfall as it goes over the very steep cliff. The redcaps, sensing victory at hand, let loose a great cry and charge the children. It is then that Quinn opens her parasol and hops off the edge of the cliff to float down slowly and safely under the power of her imagination. The other children quickly grab onto her, forming an impromptu and dangly ladder of sorts, descending enough that they plummet safely into the water as their strength gives out. Quin and Charlotte, naturally, land safely on the shore.

Upon surfacing, the children cannot seem to find Not Quite Dead Pete. However, there is a beautiful man in a white woolen long coat with golden piping, white breeches, black riding boots, a white vest trimmed in gold, a white silk shirt and crimson cravat, and long platinum blonde hair tied with a red ribbon who is more than happy to help them out with a charming smile. He introduces himself, or more correctly re-introduces himself, as "Prince Peter Charming", and a hint of madness dances in his blue eyes.

To be continued...

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