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"Hickory, dickory, dare,
The pig flew up in the air.
The man in brown
Soon brought him down;
Hickory, dickory, dare."
---Old nursery rhyme
I mostly have enough Weird West stuff to resist the temptations of Dracula's America, but I'll be expletive deleted if the Salem Sisters and Guardian weren't exactly what I needed for this early modern project. The Guardian's trousers are a bit anachronistic, but that buckled hat and kerchief more than makes up for it.
Our Sisters--Maiden, Mother, and Crone--are tremendously full of character, and those bonnets and collars sell it. Again, I tried for colors that are not quite black and grey, but still look dour and joyless.
The Man in Brown, the parson, is from NorthStar's 1672 line, part of their Civilian pack; a perfect fit for this setting. (He comes with a foppish aristocrat and two ladies in fine silks--the sort of thing that would be Frivolity and Idleness in this region. We'll see them later.) I didn't intend to make the parson so sinister-looking or surly, but it's a happy accident. There are definitely multiple ways of parsing this scenario. Perhaps he's the warlock, trying to get some hard-working women accused of witchcraft so he can buy their land. Perhaps not! Perhaps it's poltergeist activity from the worryingly intense child. Who can say?
More agricultural laborers, these ones more suited to the early modern and modern era.
Here is a Midlam Halfling Farmer in a cider orchard, accompanied by a faithful pig (from 77567, Pig and Cart).
"Aye, that do be true what they say, one bad apple WILL spoil the whole barrel, right enough. You soon get an eye for the bad ones, and a nose too. But that's what the pig's for."
"Spoil the whole barrel. aye, but a bad apple do nowt to a pig save make 'em better eating. Apple's a good food for pork, and the apple wood's good for the bacon in the smokehouse."
"Apples within and apple without, as you might say, and then a glass of cider to wash the pork down. That's a good meal of a cold night."
Another Midlam farmer, this one human. (This fellow is 28mm scale or so, not heroic scale). Those farming togs could fit in anywhere across three centuries or so.
"Been working this land, man and boy, like my father and his father and his father before 'im, as long back as folks these parts can remember. And there's one thing I can tell you..."
"...One thing, aye, that'll keep the crops bearing and the well full, and that's keeping on good terms with the Gentry. Nay, not Lord Bastard as lives up in the manor, I mean the Gentry.
Them as live under the hill."
"Oh, a sharp sickle and manure on the fields, and driving the furrows right, can't do without those, but that's just work as needs doing. No, there's no amount of work will make good if the Old Ways aren't held up. That's why I've called on Brigit here. She'll walk the rows, sing to the soil and the water and the seeds. That's how the Gentry like it."
"And then, o' course, stand up Mister Mangel to oversee the work and keep away the crow. New clothes now and then, and new stuffing or a pole now and then, but old Mangel has been here as long as we have. I fancy the Gentry have come to see him as part o'the family, like. They wouldn't be pleased if he weren't out in the field. Not pleased at all."
"Aye, Mangel will see to it no harm come to the rows nor the field nor the fences. Always looking out, he."
Bridgit here is one of the May Queens from Crooked Dice. I tried to give her a sheer shift but could probably push it a little more. Tips and advice welcome.
Mister Mangel is also from Crooked Dice, and there's a wonderfully sinister aspect to him. Now, I'm a fan of scarecrows, but this here, without bone claws or a face, just has such latent menace. You know that while that sickle is rusted, the edge is still shiny-sharp. And I tell a lie there; you can make out a face pushing out of those rags and tatters, or in the gauze of that veil. And you can imagine the squeak of old twine-bound timber and the soft thudding hopping sounds tap-tapping behind you on a windy night, tap, tap, tap, the sound of rags flapping, the breeze whistling off that sickle's edge, closer and closer, now almost upon you, TAP-TAP-TAP as wheeling crows in impossible numbers fill the air with dark wings and blot out the moonlight, cawing and flapping so no one will hear your screaming if you dare harm the wheat in the fields before harvest time.
Which you wouldn't do, of course. But not because you believe such things.
"VVhen I grew in the VV O O D / I vvas vvater'd with B L O O D."
Such would be the witness of this ancient tree, could it speak. It has been the site of rural justice and rural "justice" for generations. Tales of such are told to the youth by grey-haired elders, tales they learned as children from their own aged grandsires and grandmothers.
A tree like that...well, after a while it develops a taste for it. Don't burn the fallen branches, don't take an axe to it, and have a care how you use the lumber when it finally falls.
As happens from time to time in small communities of "good, law-abiding people," an angry mob has formed.
These citizens are Concerned about their community. Many of the worst atrocities in history have gotten started when someone brings Concerned Citizens together.
The mob makes way for the accused.
Duly constituted authority is present, to ensure this is "properly done."
"Order! Order! Hear ye, that VVarden Knochengard and I, Sheriff of thif countee, are affembled in the prefence of divers VVitneffes, to try Goodman Ezra Jacobs againft allegations brought againft him, the same beeing VVITCHCRAFT, CIVIL DISORDER, and POISONING of LIVESTOCK, and to pronounce sentenfe thereupon, to be carried out forthwith."
"Let hif accusers speak and make their case againft him!"
(here follow reports from Farmers Wentworth and Hogbein of livestock falling sick, crops failing, etc., the same saying they saw Ezra walking to and fro with a book some days before, shaking his head back and forth while muttering and laughing; Deacon Abraham dilates on the fact that the accused pleads no contest to finding a book hidden in a secret place, the same book being one of DARK MAGICKS and BLASPHEMOUS RITES)
"Hath the Accufed, Ezra, anything to say on his own behalf, or be there any member of the Communitee willing to fpeak in his defense?"
(here Goodman Carter, his sometime employer, appears as a character witness to the effect that Ezra is a kindly soul and a good farmhand, also that it has been a wet year and Farmer Wentworth built his privy uphill from his well; Brother Hammond notes that the accused is almost a simpleton and never learned his letters nor the use of them for reading and writing; Mother Hildegard attests that the book found in Ezra's possession is illustrated with disturbing woodcuts that could upset an unstable soul.)
"Having weighed the Evidence thus provided, it is the Judgment of this Affembly that the Accused, Goodman JACOBS, is GUILTY of dabbling in DIVELLISH ARTS, yet the Severitee of the offense be Lessened by his Lack of Wit, and we find no evidence of Malice directed againft his Neighbor; nonetheleff, harm being done, he muft suffer punishment, and learn better thereby. He shall HANG FROM THE TREE for a period of two days, to be cut down thereafter; let no man provide Succour or Comfort in the meantime, neither let any man harm him further for the Duration."
The record does not state what exactly became of the book the unfortunate Goodman Jacobs happened upon, or whose possession it was remanded to.
It does, however, record a very similar trial less than a year later. The tree does not like to be kept waiting.
(Guest appearances from the Dwarf Butcher 77460, Calbach Greatclub 03231, Village Rioter 77140, a Peasant 77655, the Gravedigger, Abram Duskwalker, Brother Hammond, Sheriff Drumfasser, and Jakob Knochengard, among others.)
Robes? Check. Horned skull mask? Check. Air of furtive evil? Check! Dulkathar here is a perfect fit for the cult of the Piper in the Woods, last seen HERE.
The word "skulking" was made for this character, He'd be a great Wizard Whately stand-in for Call of Cthulhu, too. Even more tattered than his co-conspirator and co-religionist.
Together, what mightn't they call up? or Whom?
And with such an ally, what vengeance might they not visit upon the settlements nearby? Are there any punishments those Puritans don't deserve, and that full well?
Guest appearance by a nearly-finished Tree of Despair, of which more later.
While going on my Midlam cultist and puritan bender, I knew I would regret not getting these holy sisters from differently-sized misters. They fit perfectly into the setting. I also figured it was the perfect time to drybrush up a cheap craft-store Halloween decoration (double discounted as it was broken inside the package. Statuary with extra cracks? that's a feature, not a bug!)
So the abbey has a statue of "the chiefest and greatest of terrorf, which is KING DEATH" gracing its cemetery.
Here's the Abbess herself, Mother Superior. I'm afraid she has a rather severe strabismus, and I'll pretend that was on purpose.
And here is Sister Pancake, a name taken in humility (she is a bit of a short stack). Played around with lighting focus on this one.
I'm happy with the Mignola-inspired framing on this one.
Here's another shot of the good Sister with a few other halfling townsfolk:
And a monastic bonus picture with Brother Hammond, Friar Stone, and Fra Ximenez (from Black Cat).
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