Author Archives: Dennis

Skint

Sometimes, I feel like watching something that brings me back to the dysfunctions of my family. The fighting, the yelling, the accusations, the schemes and scams…

There is a long running television problem on UK TV called Skint, which follows several families or individuals, for a period of time, while they try to survive on minimal budgets, in neighbourhoods where work is scarce.

Inevitably I come back to documentaries like this. Partly to remind me, partly to warn me, and probably partly as poverty porn. As much as I like to distance myself from the people on display, I know each and every one of them. I know them well. It sometimes gets to be too much, as a result.

I heard you were telling lies. I heard say you weren’t born of our blood. I know we’re the crooked kind. But you’re crooked too, boy, and it shows.

Anticipation and Trepidation

Previously, the heroes were preparing for the arrival of Epidemius, gathering support, and rallying a defence of the city. Quentin wrote a letter, bound by steel, to his father, which was delivered by Neamhan. Céleste, the socialite wine merchant, came to the Careless Wanderer to buy up any surplus wine stock, but the heroes had no time to find out what had happened. And Quentin and Neamhan visited the Seat of Friendship, at Neamhan’s insistence, and attempted to restore Quentin’s memory of his betrothed, which was taken from him by the Sisters of the Grove. They were confronted by the sisters, but were at least partially successful. But at what cost?

Third Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waning, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waning)

It was the late morning when the heroes were nervously awaiting the confrontation with Epidemius they expected to happen the next day. Chakuq returned to Steward Square once more to investigate its layout and find any helpful vantage points.

Luca attempted to read Aurion’s tome, but found that the pages were blank. He turned to Blackstar, knowing this to be the source of Aurion’s disapproval, and tried to break his bond with the weapon. To Luca’s surprise and further disappointment he found that Blackstar refused to break the bond. Frustrated by being caught between the weapon and his master, Luca pivoted and started to prepare a ritual of protection ahead of the confrontation with Epidemius, for which he needed the true names of his companions. He knew it to be a gamble, considering his master had forsaken him, but Luca tried anyway.

And Emrys checked and double checked his belongings, more to keep himself occupied than anything else. He found some letters the crusaders had written while they were in Old Llygad. The heroes had them translated by an elf that was among the crusaders and it had given them insight into the Silver Crusade during the Age of Fear. Emrys stumbled upon a letter which wrote about how to treat certain wounds with a demonic origin and he decided to pay a visit to father Devon at the Temple of Pholtus to share the knowledge ahead of the confrontation with Epidemius.

At the clinic, Emrys found that the beds were full, and the patients were afflicted by the burden that Epidemius had put on the city. The patient that father Devon was tending to was the almost unrecognisable form of Pip, the halfling accomplice to Céleste. Father Devon explained that he had been the victim of a brutal attack on her wine shop. Looking over the notes, Emrys found that she was horribly wounded, and that the burden of Epidemius was making her recovery even more unlikely than it had been under normal circumstances.

Emrys returned to the Careless Wanderer after sharing the treatments with father Devon and found that Quentin and Neamhan had returned from their trip to the Seat of Friendship. Quentin was sullen and morose after the confrontation with the Good Sisters and after Neamhan had restored his memory of his betrothed, being left with a feeling that something had been returned to him which he had willingly parted with, and for Neamhan to pay the price for that, one way or another.

Quentin and Neamhan have a falling out, and Neamhan goes to cool off upstairs. Quentin admits feeling overwhelmed and betrayed. Emrys assured him that he has friends that will help him carry the burden. Astrid, tired of watching Quentin’s frustration, told him that if he wanted to determine the course of his own life, he should stop letting others direct it for him, giving a pointed look at Neamhan walking away.

Dame Pauline and the Morvrayne riders arrived at the Careless Wanderer, and were reunited with Quentin, their lord and commander. Dame Pauline was given a room, while the Morvrayne riders found beds in the common room. Wojciech, the stablemaster, took the Morvrayne mounts to be cared for and bumped into Chakuq on his way across Steward’s Square. Chakuq joined the stablemaster and helped him with the horses at The Bridle, north of the square. The two Silesians found a kinship in their common heritage, despite Chakuq being a mountain tribesman and Wojciech a plainsman.

A message was delivered to Quentin by a courier from the rookery. It was a letter from Lord Dorian:

My son, there was an attack on the camp last night. Highlord in critical condition. Your father, Lord Dorian.

Quentin wrote a hasty reply, indicating that he was unable to send help due to the impending arrival of Epidemius. Neamhan took the letter and promised to deliver to the hands of Lord Dorian. As she is set to depart, Dame Pauline wishes her a swift and safe trip.

While the heroes continued to wait for tomorrow with some trepidation, Chakuq shared a story, with some measure of pride, about stealing the horses from an enemy encampment. All the while, Luca was wondering where his friend Falka had been all day.

Red Eye

Last week, I flew to San Francisco for a couple of days to hang out with Eva, Scott, and the girls. The flight over was eleven hours, but went by smoothly. The flight back, however, was another matter. I knew it would be a rough one (flying west to east always is, for me), but the girl sitting next to me deciding it was okay to use me as a back rest, and the guy in front of me thinking it was completely appropriate to throw his seat back, spill my drink, and then continue to lay his head in my lap for the next nine hours, was a bit much. It’s 2024; I thought we had all stopped putting our seat back without at least having a conversation with the person behind you first.

It was worth the fun time in San Francisco, though. Seeing Eva and Scott was really nice, playing video games with the girls was great, and taking a driverless taxi was cool too.

Mourning the Loss of a Number

When I moved to the UK I switched my Dutch mobile subscription to a prepaid number so that I could hold onto the number. I had that number since 2001, so I would want to keep it. One of the stipulations was that you’d have to use it at least once every six months or so. Unfortunately, I must have missed using it, and it got disconnected and assigned to a new subscription.

Goodbye, +31 653 212 414, you will be missed.

A Fun Day

My passport is expiring soon and I was offered two choices; for a renewal, I could either go to the embassy in London or return to the Netherlands and do it at the airport. A quick investigations of those two options showed that doing it in the Netherlands was about three times as expensive, but it would afford me the opportunity to go and see my family, which I had not done since early December. So I booked two tickets, one to fly round trip to Amsterdam on the same day so I could submit the application, and a second for a weekend the next week in which I could pick it up. Today I went to submit the application.

I got up super early in the morning, drove to the airport, flew over and had a pretty smooth time submitting the application. The only snag was that the passport photos which I had made in England were not in the right format (despite the photographer assuring me that it would be valid for Dutch passports.) The lady who helped me apply told me that my photo was rejected because of my “cage fighter ear”, which I thought was funny. Luckily I could get new ones made at the airport, which took five minutes, and are actually better photos, despite getting very little sleep.

I took the train into Amsterdam, met Moulsari, my brother, his new girlfriend Kataryna, my friend Mounir, and Ruurd and my sister for a big, steak lunch. Had a blast. Ruurd and my sister dropped me off at the airport. The airport was quiet. I breeze through security. Flew back to England and drove home. I’m pretty tired, but I’m feeling good about it. It was such a fun day.

Next week I fly back on Thursday evening, pick up my new passport on Friday and fly home on Sunday. I’ll have a bit more time, and if it’s half as fun as today was, then it’s worth the time and effort.