The Witch’s Brew

Golden Sky Stories is a game that I backed on Kickstarter… probably five or six years ago? And, uh, then never played. I decided that I wanted to change that, so I put an event out there for QCC. I knew I was going to like the game, and I really did. I ran a fleshed out version of a homebrew module I wrote for Golden Sky Stories when I first received the PDFs of the game. And this is why you never throw out any of your old notebooks, I swear.

 

The Party:

Akai, a fox spirit

Uroko, a fish spirit

Shima, a tanuki spirit

Heizen, a mouse spirit

Tobu, a rabbit spirit

Nyaru, a cat spirit

 

The Setting:

A small rural town in Japan

The woodland hut of the local hedgewitch

 

The Story:

One day, the henge (benevolent but sometimes mischievous animal spirits) received a message from the local hedgewitch, Yuki, inviting them over for tea. She did this every so often, wanting to check in with the animal spirits, making sure they weren’t causing too much trouble with the local humans. Yuki was well-versed in their henge magic and abilities, and had gotten them out of more than a few scrapes before. Eager for tea and the possibility of snacks, they converged on her cozy hut at the very outskirts of town.

Yuki asked them if they’d seen the new woman who recently moved to town – the town was small enough that newcomers were always remarkable. Indeed the henge had, though they hadn’t thought much of it. Yuki explained that the newcomer, Keiko, seemed… lonely. She wasn’t making friends among the townsfolk, she wasn’t going out to events, she wasn’t forming a new social life. As such, Yuki wanted to welcome her with a delicious dessert, and she needed the henge to help gather ingredients for her.

She requested that they find: milk, eggs, honey, oats, berries, and an orange. She also politely asked that they keep their human interaction to a minimum, as she preferred not to startle the townsfolk when possible. After all, it’s not every day you saw boys with gills or girls with tails walking into the grocery store. The group agreed and were promised their own share of the dessert once all the ingredients had been gathered.

Their first stop was a patch of berries that they knew was nearby. They stuffed themselves first, getting covered in sweet berry juices and picking up a variety of scratches from bramble bushes. Nyaru pointed out, however, that they’d want something to carry the berries in, besides the skirt she was wearing. Tobu agreed, and they decided to carry several armfuls of berries to the dairy farm nearby, where they would almost certainly have buckets or baskets or something they could use.

Nyaru used her powers to transform into an ordinary-looking cat – who would notice one more barn cat hanging around the farm, after all? She managed to snuggle her way into a couple saucers of milk, while Akai and Uroko grabbed some buckets to put the berries in. Nyaru happily lapped at her tasty treat until one of the farm’s actual barn cats scared her off from it, hissing and puffing up to a huge ball of fur. She left that saucer behind, returning the other two to the rest of the group.

Their next stop was the chicken coop, where Nyaru was a little too well-known to go in without being noticed. Akai and Heizen entered instead, causing quite a stir among the chickens, clucking and fussing over their nests. With the fox quite literally in the henhouse, the farmer came out of the barn to investigate just what was going on here, causing such a ruckus with the birds. Akai and Heizen had several eggs hidden in their pockets, and some inside the buckets of berries, where they would be cushioned.

The farmer was scolding the children, asking if their parents knew where they were, when Tobu approached, having waited for just this moment. Tobu appeared much older in her humanoid form than the other two, and played the role of the big sister who lost track of her siblings on the way home from school. She made their excuses to the farmer and promised to get the boys home safe, safely leaving the farm with their pocketfuls of eggs.

On their way to the horse stables, they passed by the berry patch where they’d acquired their buckets of fruit and saw several human children there, picking berries. Shima and Heizen noticed that they were about to eat some of the berries the animals knew were poisonous. They stopped on their way to discourage the kids from eating the bad berries, encouraging them to go for the nice ones instead. With the real children duly protected, they continued onwards to the stables on the other side of town.

They tried to persuade a horse to give them some of their oats, but most of the horses were wholly unreceptive to this plan. One of them revealed himself to be a horse henge and he objected most strenuously to their taking the oats. They tried to finagle a deal with him, but he wasn’t having it. Instead, Uroko ended up using his siren song powers to baffle and confuse the horse spirit, befuddling him into giving up some of the oats. They didn’t take much, just enough for the recipe, and the horse was left free, able to reach the enormous barrels of oats in the corner of the stable.

The next farm over was a winery, and they stopped in to ask if they might have some honey, so that they didn’t have to deal with bees. The group, as a whole, was quite afraid of dealing with irritable, stinging bees. They saw a couple of people mashing grapes with their feet in big tubs, and everyone thought this sounded like a great deal of fun. They asked if they could hop in, and the adults welcomed them, after warning them to take their shoes off. When they asked if they could have some honey, one of the employees went into the house to get some – after all, they could certainly spare some, and the kids had earned some reward from stomping the grapes.

Still covered in sticky grape juice, they were all stained purple to the knees when they returned to their animal or midway forms. With only the orange left to retrieve and the certain knowledge that oranges would not grow natively here, they had no choice but to head into town. They found a small grocery store in the center of town, and Shima grabbed a couple of leaves off a bush nearby to transform into money with his tanuki henge powers, tanukis widely known for their transformative abilities. They tried to sneak out without paying for the orange, but were caught, and had to give up some of the “money” that would turn back into leaves in mere hours.

They giggled as they ran all the way back to Yuki’s house to help her prepare the delicious tart. They used the oats to make a crust, and the eggs, milk, and honey to make a filling. The orange zest and juice gave the whole thing flavor, and they decorated it with attractive patterns of berries. The henge tried to make their own, following along with Yuki’s steps, but they ended up making something more like a parfait. Still, Yuki invited them along to come meet Keiko, who really could use some new friends.

Keiko, for her part, was pleased to see Yuki and very confused to see the henge. The hedgewitch explained the henge and their abilities, hoping that Keiko would come to an understanding – and possibly come to study with Yuki, in time. Keiko was quickly soothed when she saw that the henge meant no harm, and they all shared the delicious tart together.

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