Sunday, July 31, 2016

Papillon, Dragon Hunter Extraordinaire, pt. 5

Papillon and the little dragon headed into the forest. Even with the dragon lagging behind, it felt different today, more like friends walking together than follower and followed. Papillon found he enjoyed the little one's company.
When they came to the stream, something caught Papillon's eye. It was the cloth sack he had abandoned yesterday, looking like the wind had blown it onto the rocks.
"What do you think? Should I go get it? You never know when it might be useful."
Papillon took the dragon's grunts as a Yes and picked his way across the rocks. Lucky for him the ties had snagged on a rock, which kept the sack out of the water.
Returning to the path, he stashed the sack under his other supplies. The dragon seemed disappointed that the sack contained nothing to eat. They resumed walking. They hadn't gone far when the little dragon ran ahead. Did he sense that home was near? Would that big oak tree turn around and reveal itself to be the talking tree Papillon had met a few days earlier?
Nope. Not the talking tree. The dragon rooted around the base of the tree and then sat down, chewing on something.
"What did you find, little fella? Another shoe?"
It wasn't a shoe, although it smelled a bit like an old shoe. It was brown and sort of round. A chestnut? Not at the base of an oak tree. It looked too chewy to be a chestnut in any case. Suddenly Papillon knew what it was.
"You've found truffles! Are there more?"
There were, and Papillon greedily gathered them up.
"You know, I've heard of truffle sniffing pigs and truffle sniffing dogs, but I've never heard of a truffle sniffing dragon. You're pretty special!"
He didn't say it aloud, but Papillon wondered if Madame Peapod would accept a bag of truffles in lieu of dragon meat. He would have turned around right then and headed home with his treasure except that he still had a task to perform.
"Come on, little guy. Let's deliver you to the nursery."
Papillon honestly didn't remember how to find the nursery. He was hoping the dragon would home in on it like he did the truffles. Papillon knew when the little dragon quickened his steps that he was right. Suddenly, there was the clearing with the oak tree and the stump people. And two other baby dragons that he could see. Maybe more.
The tree greeted him. "I see that you have allowed the little gray to return to us. Thank you."
"I never meant to take him away. He followed me home yesterday, so I've brought him back."
"And he is unharmed."
"Of course. He has special talents, this one. You should keep him safe."
The little dragon seemed to sense a farewell in the air. He began to cry.
"Don't cry, little one. You belong here, with your kind. And who knows? Maybe we'll see each other again. Maybe for a little truffle hunting?" Papillon didn't care how many creatures were watching. He leaned in and kissed the dragon's forehead.
Papillon turned to leave. He almost wished the little dragon would follow him again, but knew the tree would keep a closer watch this time. Besides, he needed to make good time if he was to deliver his truffles to Madame Peapod.
She was standing in her doorway when he arrived, as if she had been watching for him.
"Good day, Monsieur Papillon," she said. "Is that dragon meat you're bringing me?"
"I come bearing something more precious than dragon meat, Mme. Peapod."
"More precious? Show me."
Papillon opened the sack. He beamed. "Truffles, Madame!"
"Yes, I know what they are. Well, well. You are full of surprises, Monsieur Papillon."
A funny-looking animal came up beside her.
Papillon said, "What is that?"
"It's a cria," she said.
"A what?"
"A cria. A baby alpaca. Her mother is grazing in an upper pasture. The baby is very tame. See? I can climb on her back and ride her."
The penny dropped. This was the herd Mme. Peapod wanted him to tend. Surely that wouldn't be necessary now?
"Mme. Peapod. I know what truffles are worth. I believe they are more than adequate exchange for the few provisions you have advanced me. If anything, you are in my debt instead of the other way around."
"That's only if I accept the truffles in lieu of dragon meat."
She wouldn't...she couldn't...refuse?
He thought quickly. "If you don't accept them, I will sell them at market myself and bring you the exact amount of money I owe you. How's that?"
"You drive a hard bargain, Monsieur Papillon. Very well. I accept the truffles."
"And I extend your credit for their full worth."
 "We have a deal, Mme. Peapod."
Ah, but victory is sweet!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Progress on the Elf Costumes

You may remember that a few weeks back I showcased WithDoll Angela's unfinished elf outfit. Since that time she has acquired arm guards and boots, as well as a metal sword that she discarded for a lighter weight resin one. I remade her belt from some suede trim that is already embellished with contrasting stitches. The boots are from Iplehouse, purchased when I still had JID girls, so you can imagine how delighted I was to find that my WithDoll girls can wear them. In addition to the tall brown boots Angela is wearing, I also have short boots in white and dark red. Emma will get the white ones and Elf Ruby will get the red ones. The boots fit flat feet. JID girl high heel shoes fit the WithDoll heel feet, which means I won't be hunting for shoes for some time to come.
I made the arm guards from imitation leather that I've had for years. It's just thick enough and has what I suspect is a polyester backing, so there was no need to line it or finish the edges. I simply measured around Angela's wrist and just below her elbow, measured for length and then drew a paper pattern. One of my paper punches makes a 1/8th inch diameter hole, so I used it to punch four holes on each side of the guard, then threaded 1mm leather cord through the holes to tie the guards on.
Lumedoll Meissa (whose elf name is Sylvan Oakenbough) and Model Delf Avalanche (standing in as a fit model for WithDoll Egon Elf) both got leggings made from the Petits Riens pattern by MHD Designs for 14-inch Kish girls. I have variations on this pattern in 3 different sizes. It includes most essential underwear pieces for each size doll and comes in especially handy when I need a basic pattern to adapt. Both Sylvan and Avalanche are closer to 18 inches, but in comparing the corresponding pattern pieces I saw very little difference between them. If anything, the 14-inch pattern has a longer crotch which I figured would work better for the guys. Avalanche's leggings are too tight to go all the way over his well-muscled legs. They should work fine for Egon, who has a slimmer build.
The guys' shirts are variations on the knit top in Adams-Harris Pattern Company's Just Kickin', a pattern designed on the old SoulDoll Kid boy body. I gave Sylvan long sleeves and a collar, while Avalanche got a short-sleeve tee. Avalanche also got arms guards from the same pattern as Angela's.
I wanted both boys to wear tunics over the shirts and leggings. I chose the Adams-Harris Brummel pattern for the purpose. It was designed on the old Iplehouse YID body and fits similar 60cm boy bodies. One of the first things I did when I bought it was to reduce the pattern on a photocopier for use with my Limhwa Limho Mono. (I'm having a strong sense of deja vu as I write this, probably because I incorporated parts of Limho Mono's Brummel outfit into Sylvan's Steampunk costume earlier this year.) Knowing that the shirt fit Sylvan with room to spare (so it should also fit Egon) I used the front and back pattern pieces as the basis for my tunics.
I wouldn't be me if I didn't run into a few problems along the way. Avalanche's version of the tunic turned out just the way I wanted. Sylvan's didn't, and I blame my fabric choice for it. The fabric I used for Avalanche/Egon is supple and has wonderful drape. The suede-like fabric I chose for Sylvan is too heavy to drape much at all. I slit the front panel up the middle to make it more like a coat. Because there are no hooks or other closures, it hangs unevenly. In the end--after the bulk of the photos for this blog post were taken--I slit the back up the middle and removed a half-inch of fabric, which then decreased the back by an additional half-inch (in the seam allowance) when I sewed it up again. Unfortunately, even with one inch of fabric removed, it still fits like a coat. I may go back to the drawing board on this one.

In the photos, Angela is wearing the short resin sword that came with Iplehouse Kid Lisa's The Addiction full set outfit. The original sword I gave her was so heavy it was pulling her belt out of shape. But that sword was too pretty to give up on, so I have used it here as the sword in the scrying bowl (actually a Celtic candle holder). The sword symbolizes the unity of all the families in the elf clan, and each elf wears his or her family badge prominently. Each outfit will eventually have a cloak. I think I'll wait until all the outfits are done and then make them all at one time.
It occurs to me that Dark Knight Priscilla (on order) may not be an elf. WithDoll doesn't show a photo of her without a wig, and I can't see the tips of her ears. Egon, on the other hand, is identified as Elf Knight, so I suspect Priscilla is human. I'm working on a way to bring Priscilla and Emma into the elves' world, perhaps as spirits of the forest and water. And that means--costumes!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Papillon, Dragon Hunter Extraordinaire, Part 4

[In case you missed it, Part 3 ran yesterday.]

Papillon dreamed that he awoke to find the dragon gone. When he woke up for real, the dragon still slept in the doorway to his house.

Papillon stretched. He could use some breakfast. He looked around. The dragon must have eaten his loaf of bread--or else something had carried it off during the night. There was no other food in the house. He would have to visit Madame Peapod again.

What do baby dragons eat, anyway?
He found Mme. Peapod outside her shop and wished her a good morning.

"Monsieur Papillon. Back so soon?" Her tone suggested that the large milk bottle and huge loaf of bread she gave him yesterday should have lasted longer. As they would have, if not for the dragon.

"I must beg your kindness once again. I need milk. And something to eat."
"Where is the dragon meat you promised me in exchange?"

"Ah, I don't have it. I mean I didn't kill one. Yet. A dragon, I mean. But I know where they are. I just need another day to hunt them."

"I'm not sure how far I can extend your credit..."
"Only one more day! I ran into difficulties yesterday. I lost the food and had to come home early. But I'm good for it. If you let me have milk and bread, I'll repay you tomorrow." Cheese would have been nice, too, but he wasn't about to press his luck.

On principle, Papillon hated begging. But Mme. Peapod obviously had spent the early hours baking, for the air was filled with delicious aromas. Papillon's empty stomach rumbled. He was so hungry he nearly fell to his knees and wept.

The shopkeeper had a good long think about it. "You are running up debts," she said, not unkindly. "How do I know you won't take the provisions and disappear on an extended hunt, maybe never to return? Who would pay me then, hmm?"
Papillon's stomach rumbled louder. "You mean, if a dragon kills me..."

"Or you run away."

"Never! I am Papillon, Dragon Hunter Extraordinaire. I kill dragons; they do not kill me. And I pay my way," he added with all the bravado he could muster. My reputation is at stake, he thought, not to mention I have a baby dragon to hide and feed. Oh, I'm in a real pickle this time.

"Certainly you will pay, if not in dragon meat then in some other way. I will give you until tomorrow at this time. If you return without dragon meat, you will agree to work for me until your debts are paid."
Work? How could he hunt dragons if he was forced to work?

"What kind of work, Madame?"

"Nothing a dragon hunter cannot do. I have the beginnings of a small herd. They need tending: feeding, brushing, cleaning out their enclosure. Watching so that no one attempts to steal them."

What kind of herd? Cows? Sheep? Goats? "It sounds like shepherd's work."
"Too hard for you?"

"Of course not."

"Then we are agreed."

Agreed? When had Papillon agreed? She drove a hard bargain, did Mme. Peapod.

"Until tomorrow morning," said the shopkeeper.
And that was that. He had milk for the dragon but nothing for himself. How was he to hunt dragons on an empty stomach?
At home the little dragon waited, wide awake and no doubt hungry.

"Good morning, little one. I trust you slept well. I have your milk here. As soon as I pull my things together, you and I will go back to the forest, where I will return you to the nursery and find some meat for Mme. Peapod. If I fail, she expects me to turn in my sword for a shepherd's crook. The shame of it! Oh, I'm in a pickle, all right. A jam of a pickle. A true pickle jam. But I am Papillon, and if I'm not the greatest dragon hunter that ever lived, then I don't know who is. Right, little one?"
By the time Papillon finished this--for him--lengthy speech, the wagon was packed and Papillon's mood was much improved. He headed down the forest path, the little dragon trailing behind.

"To the dragons, little one. Adventure awaits!"

 To be continued...

Papillon is a FairyLand RealPuki Papilio
Madame Peapod is a FairyLand RealPuki Pupu
The dragon is an Aileen Doll Pico Baby Ashes

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Papillon, Dragon Hunter Extraordinaire, Part 3

[This part of the story has already appeared on Den of Angels. Part 4 is in the works. Coming soon, like maybe tomorrow?]

Papillon waited two full days for Hakkon's return. When the giant didn't reappear, Papillon loaded his wagon with food, his bedroll and his sword, and set off for the forest alone. He wanted to find the dragons again before he forgot the way.
Pulling a wagon through the forest was a lot harder than riding on Hakkon's shoulders. Papillon's arms ached and his feet hurt. Things looked different at ground level. Would he recognize the dragon place when he came to it?
When he found himself walking beside a small stream, Papillon decided it was a good place to stop and rest. He took off his shoes and soaked his dusty feet. He might as well open his sack and eat something.
With his back to the wagon, Papillon couldn't see that his sword had begun to glow. The stream tumbling past the rocks muffled the sound of nearby chomping.
At last he caught a slight movement out of the corner of his eye. In surprise he jumped into the stream. A dragon! Eating his shoe!

"No! No, no NO! Put that down!"
The little dragon ignored him. Maybe Papillon could reach his sword. It was a long shot, but the greatest dragon hunter that ever lived would be a laughingstock if he didn't try.

He climbed up on the rock and jumped, landing on the wagon. The noise startled the dragon, which dropped the shoe and faced him.
Papillon inched forward. Almost there. Uh-oh. The sword's glow had attracted the dragon's attention. Edging back, Papillon felt the bag shift under him. Going down!
Now, this is a predicament!
Visions of hand-to-hand combat danced in Papillon's head. The dragon, however, had other ideas. It tugged the milk bottle out of the food bag. Good. That gave Papillon a chance to get back on his feet. As far as he was concerned, the milk was a small price to pay for his shoes and sword.
While the little dragon sat down, apparently puzzled by the bottle cap, Papillon mounted the wagon and stepped into the first shoe.

So far, so good. He climbed onto the rock. He could see the edge of the sword in the water.

Papillon grabbed the sword and used it to hook his other shoe. The shoe was slimy but luckily had no new holes. The dragon's milk teeth must not be strong enough to pierce the leather.
Stealthily, Papillon loaded everything he could reach into the wagon. He wasn't about to wrestle the dragon for the milk bottle. It could have the cloth sack, too. Keeping one eye on the dragon, he backed out of the clearing.
It's hard to walk quietly while towing a wagon that creaks with every rock and root it bumps over. So it was no surprise to Papillon that the noise drew the dragon's attention.
It's following me, isn't it?
Clutching the milk bottle, the little dragon trailed not far behind.
It followed Papillon all the way home.

"This is the end of the line, little guy. The milk train stops here. You should go home before your mama misses you."

No response. How could there be? The little dragon didn't speak Puki any more than Papillon spoke Dragon.
It must have understood something, though, because it crawled into Papillon's mushroom house and curled up in the entrance. No way could Papillon get in there now.
Papillon opened his bedroll and lay down in the open. There would be no sleep for him this night, only questions. The great dragon hunter had brought home a live baby dragon. What was he supposed to do now?
To be continued...

Papillon is a FairyLand RealPuki Papilio
The dragon is an Aileen Doll Pico Baby Ashes