Little Things: (Mis)Adventures in Harvesting
Niami was in a bit of a jam. When she'd gone on her chocolate binge, she had totally forgotten about an upcoming party she had promised to cater. She had gone through her foodstuffs with wild abandon as she experimented with different ingredient combinations, and now she was critically short on several vital ingredients.
She needed harvested resources, and she needed them fast. Failing to reach any of her normal suppliers, she grabbed a few empty sacks and went looking for a harvesting buddy or two. After all, four hands were better than two, right? The extra help might even mean she could scout for rare materials to get some fancy furniture made later!
Spotting a tall kerra, she let out a happy coo. "Coyotee-lad! Do ye hae time tae help me wi' summat?"
The small woman's voice hit the cat man like a crack of thunder as he looked up in alarm. One hand unconsciously moved to his elbow as he rubbed away the phantom pains of remembered injuries.
To say that DenMother was loved was an understatement. Her wares nevered failed to bring smiles to the faces of those who had sampled them, and even the most fiercesome and glowering warrior was instantly transformed into a child dancing in earnest for a treat.
Outside of her kitchen, sharing her goodies and baked foods, she was almost a mythical figure - an angel upon sugar doughed wings...
... but in the kitchen she could be as fierce as an Ogre and somehow twice as large as small fingers cracked like a whip over sneaky hands, or worse - the dreaded Rolling Pin of Doom.
Wincing slightly and still massaging his elbow, Coyotee recalled a slight misunderstanding involving Mum and an accidentally-consumed milk tin of a particularly delicious imported Tunarian Cream as he forced a cheery smile and waved in greeting to the Halfling woman.
"Denmother! You look as lovely as ever!" The Kerran smiled in geniune affection as he picked up his things quickly and nodded towards the far road.
"I would LOVE to ahh..."help wi' summat"...but I have this ..uh..thing with a guy in that place." He laughed nervously as he moved rapidly away and hurried towards the nodded-to road.
"I'm sure you understand!" He finished with a wave as he grew smaller in the distance with each bounding step.
As she stood frowning and watching the cowardly cat sprint towards the distance, Niami became aware of a faint buzzing that grew increasingly louder. Turning towards the source of the sound, she was surprised to find herself no longer alone.
An Ogre stood quietly by her side as he joined her in observing the fleeing Kerran. Fresh honey coated his face and hands as he swatted absently at a cloud of angry bees that swarmed his head. Dipping a mammoth paw into a badly battered hive, he pulled forth another fistful of honey and shoved it into his gaping mouth.
"Fast kitty." The hulking brute said in appreciation of the departed Kerran's speed as he slurped loudly on his stolen treat.
Jumping slightly, as something that big shouldn't be able to move that quietly, Mum responded without thinking. "Guid day, Krunnk-lad! Aye, that kerra be a quick one all right. Ah well, I was hoping he could help me, but I guess I'll jus' go alo-"
"Oooh! You baker COOKIE GIRL!" The giant Ogre said excitedly as he peered down at the small woman, recognition lighting a fire of excitement in his eyes.
Hopping up and down happily the honey coated monster danced from side to side as he quickly wiped his hands on his already badly stained pants.
"Krunnk HELP!" The Ogre roared with laugher as he continued his impromptu dance. "I get you stuffs, you make Krunnk COOKIES!" He grinned widely as his tongue darted out of his mouth, chasing wetly after a lost morsel of the golden nectar.
Now it was Mum's turn to ponder a tactical retreat. On the one hand, tales of Kruunk's (many) misadventures were near-legendary, and asking him for help could be opening a rather messy can of worms. On the other hand, they were just that, tales. She had never personally worked with Krunnk, and it could be that he was just the well-meaning victim of bad press.
Soft heart battled common sense, and once again common sense fled in the face of an overwhelming "nice" attack.
"O' course, Krunnk, I'd love tae have ye help. Why don't ye go rinse off th' rest o' that honey an' such while I grab some more harvesting bags. We can meet at th' docks in Enchanted Lands in half an hour?"
Mum, conscious of the bees and the very visible signs of the ogre's sweet tooth, then added, "An' when we're done, I'll make ye a batch o' cookies frae all th' help."
"'Kay!" Krunnk shouted happily as he suddenly ran off, the earth shaking with each thunderous step as he focused on his single duty, his mind filled with thoughts of Ogre sized cookies. The swarm of angry, but easily-annoyed bees shot after the happy giant, their buzzing fading into silence as the Ogre was lost in the distance.
Scampering off on her short little legs for some extra large (and sturdy!) harvesting bags, Mum continued to justify her actions. After all, harvesting was time-consuming, but extremely simple. Even if the bad press about him was right, surely there couldn't be much about harvesting that Krunnk could mess up, right?
It was a disaster.
First came "basic" harvesting instructions. Accustomed as she was to simplifying complex instructions, Mum was still not ready for how hard it was to even get the concept of "rare" harvests across to Krunnk. Finally, she gave up and simply said, "Normal stuff in th' big bags, shinies from nodes in th' little bags ... ye can keep any other shinies, ok?"
Leading the ogre to an area that had quite a few visible resources ready to be gathered, she pointed him towards some fallen branches underneath an apple tree, while she rummaged through some roots.
A sharp "KRRRRRRRACCCKKKKK" made her jump and turn to look.
"Och! Krunnk-lad! Nae th' whole tree!" She tried to control the shriek bubbling up within her, mentally repeating "He means well. He means well."
Controlling her tone with an effort, she continued, "We need th' tree tae stay where it is so we can get more apples from it later, ok? Really, jus' th' fallen branches an' th' RIPE apples."
"It not me." Krunnk said defensively as he looked around for a scape-goat, but finding none.
Stony silence answered him as the tiny woman stared back with swiftly narrowing eyes.
"Um..it just FALL OVER!" The Ogre continued nodding his head in affirmation of his own story, but still facing the unsettling silence of a disapproving DenMother.
"It was a DRAGON!" He said with wide eyes as he threw out his arms in a hail of twigs and apples to give example of the imaginary beast's size. "An' Krunnk say NO! BAD! BAD DRAGON! You not RIP UP TREE! An' then him bite me an' fly off an...an...Krunnk DIED!" Krunnk finished dramatically as he pointed to the sky giving direction to where the beast fled.
A skeptical look and crossed arms gave way to an uncomfortable silence disturbed only by Mums's silently tapping foot.
" 'Kay." Krunnk said with a sigh as he shrugged helpless. "Won't rip down trees no more." He sighed sadly, earning a slight smile from the tiny Baker.
"AN' Krunnk watch for more DRAGONS!" He added dutifully, emboldened by the tiny grin.
"Och. There's a guid lad." Mum tried to control an inadvertent grin at the ogre's antics before turning back to the task at hand.
They lapsed into quiet harvesting once again, with Mum randomly spot-checking on Krunnk's progress.
Then a seamist sprite flittering by caught the Ogre's eye.
Bounding happily after the fairy-like creature Krunnk came to a skidding halt with a frown as he examined it with a critical eye.
"You not fairy." The ogre growled with some disappointment as the sprite turned defensively and took an aggressive stance.
"SKEETO!!" Krunnk howled in horror as he quickly clapped the small pixie between his meaty hands and watched as it spiraled unconscious to the ground.
With a mischievous giggle the ogre looked around quickly to make sure that no prying eyes would bring angry scoldings for his actions.
"SKEEEETOOOOOS!" He roared in a battle cry as he began chasing down sprite after sprite and laughed in glee as he stuffed them into his bag. With what Seamist scholars would later deem the largest mass sack stuffing ever recorded, Krunnk quickly harvested the shrieking Fae folk and ran back to Niami proudly displaying his prowess.
"Big bag'a SKEETOS for you!" Krunnk announced as he puffed out his chest in pride and thrust forward the moaning bag of still twitching sprites. Glitter and dust rained from the bag as it bounced in the happy hands of the not-so-gentle giant.
"Och! Nae, Krunnk! We don't use sprites as food, or decoration, or anything like that!" Mum wailed, wincing in sympathy for the contents of the bobbing bag.
Gently, she freed the hapless sprites, taking several long minutes to reassure them that they were not about to be part of some cross-species reenactment of the great brownie massacres of the pre-Shattering era (before halflings learned a more brownie-friendly method of creating chocolate).
Realizing that she was getting very little actual harvesting done in between the ogre-supervision, she set to harvesting again with a small shake of her head. Ogres would be ogres, after all.
An odd snuffling sound heralded the next mini-disaster, as a moist nose poked out of a nearby den. With a sick dread, feeling like she was talking in slow-motion, she made a valiant attempt...
"NAE th' ..."
"RRRRRRRAAAAAUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGHHHH!!!" the shriek cut across her words.
"ME SAVE YOU!" Krunnk roared valiantly as he leapt forward with startling agility. Deftly sweeping Niami out of the badger's angry path Krunnk formed a living wall between the agitated creature and the small baker. Blinking in surprise a slight giggle escaped Krunnk's lips as he tilted his head in curiousity.
"Him so...so...CUTE!" He cooed as the snarling beast leapt forward, sinking its teeth into the Ogre's hide.
Laughing loudly Krunnk rolled with the badger as it tried in vain to puncture the monster's hardened flesh.
"Him KISSING ME!" Krunnk managed to squeeze out between fits of laughter as he rolled around with the frenzied animal whose "kisses" only increased with every futile bite.
"Who good puppy? YES HIM IS!" The ogre grinned as he held the snapping beast at arm's-length. "Me call you Mister Nibbles!" He decided as the angry badger renewed its attack and knocked him back to the ground where they continued their battle.
Being wise in the ways of badgers, and ogres, Mum didn't even attempt to intervene. Instead, she dragged Krunnk's surprisingly-heavy harvesting bags off to a nearby hillock and started sorting the contents into piles. The pile of "not remotely useful for crafting stuff whatsoever" was the largest, of course, followed by the "shinies for Krunnk", and a painfully tiny collection of "actually useful resources".
By the time Ogre and badger were done with their little to-do, Mum had the useful stuff rebagged in one bag, and Krunnk's goodies into another bag. Taking another look at the Ogre, she decided to withhold the lecture about what was useful and what was not, and just gave him back the bags, shoving the "junk" pile up against a nearby rock outcropping.
His clothing ripped and torn and his hair badly mussed, the jolly giant remembered his duties and set free the now out-of-breath and exhausted badger.
"If you loves it, smack a bee." Krunnk said solemnly as the now released animal ran with renewed energy, finally free of its good natured captor. With a sad sigh, but quickly remembering his duties, Krunnk ran back to where he last saw the tiny Halfling woman and approached her with bouncing steps.
Observing quietly, he watched as she rummaged through each bag, separating out the junk from his prized treasures and very carefully setting all of the "good stuff" at the base of a small rock cropping. He didn't fault her obvious poor harvesting skills because he knew that while he too was a Halfling...
Not all Halflings were created equally.
His treasures sat gleaming in the sun as Niami pulled out such relics as a broken seashell, three acorns that had grown together and a very frightened looking frog. Krunnk guessed at her embarrassment as she shoved her less than interesting apples and berries and sweet treats into a sack - more than likely to hide her shame.
Taking his now emptied bag back from her, Krunnk patted her hand gently and swore that he would try harder to be patient with DenMother's gathering skills.
Or lack thereof.
Gnawing her lower lip at how much time had passed, and how little they had in useful resources to show for it, Mum went into speed-harvesting mode, tiny fingers almost blurring as she deftly snagged various resources and stuffed them into her bags.
Five minutes passed quietly. Ten. Then Krunnk found a glimmering flower.
Mind you, Niami wasn't against the various magical items that were used for making hex dolls and imbued items. Not really. They served a purpose, after all. It was just that she always got all excited over seeing something special and shiny while harvesting, only to find that it wasn't a true rare item, per se, but more the consolation prize in the great game of find-the-rare.
The flower caught the Ogre's eye, instantly freezing him in place like a giant statue. Dazed and even stunned by the sheer beauty of the sparkling plant, a long line of drool dribbled from his bottom lip as his feet found focus, lurching him towards his prize.
A glimmering flower. One of the most sought after and unique of plants that peppered the face of Antonica. Nervously and with a gentle touch that belied his hulking size, Krunnk carefully harvested the treasure as a smile slowly crept over his lips.
He had heard of, but had never seen such a plant. Its petals all but glowing in the afternoon sun, he took the perfectly unique flower and happily tossed it into his sack with three others just like it that he had somehow harvested and forgotten.
Skipping heavily towards Niami, Krunnk thrust the bag of flowers at her with another proud grin.
"FLOWER!" Krunnk announced happily as the small Halfling woman looked at him in confusion.
"FLOWER!" He repeated as he shook the bag grinning. "You use flower when you bake COOKIES!" He confided with a wink as Niami stood speechless.
She started to protest, to explain to the large monster that not only were such items not truly rare, but that they were a different type of flower altogether - but it was too late.
Skipping off happily, the sack of glowing plants delivered and explained to the obvious novice gatherer Halfling, Krunnk made his way back to his task of finding more treasures with which to teach the woman her craft.
Eventually, it was more or less quiet once again, other than Mum's random and increasingly snippy comments.
"One apple frae ye, then several frae th' bag, Krunnk."
"Several means more than two, tallstuff!"
"Nae th' whole plant, laddybuck, jus' th' berries."
"In th' bag, nae in yuir mouth!"
Forget about hoping for rare resources. At this point Mum was frazzled enough to merely hope that they came out with enough resources for her order and the promised cookies, without worrying about any extras.
Krunnk, sensing that the small flame-haired halfling lady was getting grumpy, tried really hard to find something to cheer her up. Then he found a glimmering stone.
The rock caught his eye and held it fast, as his hands danced nervously over the rarity. First a unique flower, but a glimmering stone?
It was too much.
Rushing happily back to the now frustrated DenMother, Krunnk held out his prize expecting both praise and admiration for his obvious skills.
"Jus' like th' flower, lad, put it in th' stuff bag, nae th' rare bag," Niami said with a heavy sigh as she shook her head at the rock.
"But it RARE!" Krunnk explained with wide eyes as he held the rock towards the sky to watch it glitter in the sun.
"Nae lad, it's jus' a rock." She tried to explain, but the Ogre was quickly growing impatient.
"It RARE." Krunnk growled, almost dangerously, as he thrust the stone towards the diminutive woman.
Tired, sore, and frustrated from an almost fruitless day of harvesting, Niami had quite enough, and no growling Ogre was going to intimidate her.
"It's jus' a ROCK." She growled back with an equally dangerous tone as she stared up into his enraged face.
"RARE! IT RARE! YOU SAY IT RARE!!" Krunnk howled as he hurled the rock angrily into the sky where it disappeared from view. Eyes widening in realization as his treasure was forever lost, he turned quickly to the DenMother and pointed an accusing finger.
"Look what you DO! Why you throw that?! Ooooh! Me Teeeellllliiiinnnng!" Krunnk warned in a sing-song voice as he looked around for the rock in vain.
Summoning her last bit of patience, the Halfling woman reached into her pack to retrieve something, ANYTHING, that might distract the Ogre so that she might get SOME harvesting done.
Pulling out her trusty rolling pin so that she could better see the contents of her bag, she was more than surprised to hear a howl of fear and a loud crash as Krunnk leapt away from her like a frightened deer.
"Nooo! NOT ROLLY PIN OF DUMB!! Me sorry, ME SORRY!" He screamed in pure terror as he turned and fled. Feet hammering the earth like a smithy's blows, Krunnk ran as fast as his tree trunk legs would carry him...
...stomping the carefully sorted contents and their bags into the earth as he made his frantic escape, leaving the astonished Halfling suddenly very alone.
Later that day:
An exhausted and bedraggled Niami trudged tiredly into the local market and raised her now-hoarse voice. "Buying: tussah roots, wild apples, cucumbers, green tea, everfrost ice beans! Paying well!"
Editorial note: Sometimes it really is all in the little things! GU36 will see the removal of the "rare harvest" notification for imbue materials. For details regarding this and other tradeskill-related items in GU36, check out Mum's "(Not So) Little Things" guide to GU36.
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