After the fun and games over the summer, I was due some good game at Empire’s last event of the year; although things worked out a little different this time, for a few reasons.

This is going to be a bit of a mixed post; because, thankfully, not much of note happened this time, I can afford to write a bit more on prep work before-hand. Namely:

Coconut ice: Time to experiment, children!

In a bid to cheer myself up a touch over the summer, I decided to have a play with coconut ice flavours. I fancied seeing how coffee flavour would work, so I got together some ingredients – and was half-successful.

I had the condensed milk, I had the coconut (because I bought a fresh pack), I had the icing sugar – or so I thought, until I measured it out. Instead I was left with half what was needed – at which point I remembered I still had some golden icing sugar from when I was experimenting with chocolate. Only problem left was colouring; having looked for tips online, and having no way (at the time) to get the needed colour, I decided to try the coffee method.

I needed a fair amount of the colouring, and combined with the clash of white and brown icing sugar, I’m not entirely convinced. More experiments needed, methinks.

A change in direction

As E12 approached, it was time to dispense with the playing and make it properly. I’d wanted to try apple and cherry flavours for a while, so this was a great opportunity for Marches and Navarr varieties. Except, while red and green colouring are easy to find in the supermarkets, apple and cherry extracts are nigh impossible. I had to look online for these.

Introducing Uncle Roy’s Natural Flavours!

At first glance, they look pretty expensive. When they arrived, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how large the bottles are. These will last quite a while.

I was also impressed with the smell. I have a sensitive nose, and the aroma from the bottles was so rich and natural-smelling, it was tempting to down the whole bottle. That would have been a bad idea, though.

The resulting sweets were the best tasting so far, if I say so myself. Texture-wise on the other hand… Marches fared fine, but the supermarket colouring was a big let-down for Navarr; in order to get the rich, blood-red colour I was after, I went through about a third of the bottle, and even tried adding a bit of orange to add a bit more depth. It tasted fine, but took ages to dry; it was still not as dry and crumbly as it should have been by the time I brought it to Empire. I’ll scrap the colouring idea completely next time and go with gel instead; more choice of colours for one thing.

Marches-Navarr Coconut Ice
The finished sweets, waiting to be packed and brought to the last Empire of the year.

Working for your play

In the run up to E12, I’d noticed someone was asking for crew to help restock the toilets; not a pleasant job, but one of the most important on the field. I’d heard about the position from Ferrero, who’d started doing it last season, so I decided to put myself forward for it this time. Thankfully it didn’t matter how early or late I arrived, which was the main reason I hadn’t offered to crew before now.

It was of special importance this time, because Autumn is also when the school year starts. Us degree students may get a later start than school-children, but there was still the potential for times to clash; enrolment for college was on the same weekend of E12, and it was on a Thursday. Best practice for these trips is to leave on the Thursday to set up camp, then chill until time in on Friday. Time would just about allow for me to enrol, dash back, grab stuff and head straight out again – and I was still pitching my tent in the dark by the time I arrived.

The next day I was straight into the crew side of things as I got shown where things are kept. I got maybe an hour or two after that for breakfast and chill time, before we were out re-stocking.

I was working with Ferrero and someone else from his in-character group. I knew right then, that crewing was going to be a blast. What I didn’t know at the time, was that crewing would be the only chance I’d get to see a certain person…

New Empire game: Hunt The Ferrero

We were expecting to have a meeting regarding in-game business. I’d been preparing for it, even looking forward to it, for months. I’d missed the first one in summer, so I was hoping to make up for it this time. Instead, I’d resigned myself to the potential goose-chase that was tracking down the chairperson for this meeting.

Ferrero is the most notoriously elusive character in Anvil. So much so, that when I last asked members of his IC family of his whereabouts, their response was to erupt into laughter. Steeling myself for a repeat performance, I made my way to the League – although at least this time I wasn’t alone. My IC cousin-once-removed fancied a wander, so we headed to the League’s tavern as a first port of call.

No knowledge from anyone there of a meeting, but we did get to chill with a couple of drinks, bought with the profit from her marshmallows and my coconut ice! The fact they were already selling well was a great feeling.

A dazed Ferrero arrives ready for a past life vision

While we were there, I spotted one of his family members, and wandered over to have a little chat:

Me: “Hello; if I ask you a question, do you promise not to laugh?”
Him: “Is the question funny?”
Me: “[others in family] seemed to think so when I asked them.”
Him: “What’s the question?”
Me: (turning serious) “Have you seen Ferrero?”
Him: “Okay; I won’t laugh…”

I had a similar turn of luck when we found their camp and a few members hanging out there. We did have a bit of a laugh before giving up and heading back to base – and found him in the square, being escorted by a couple of people. Not thinking anything of it, I gave him a wave, then got told by someone that he was in the middle of a Past Life Vision.

I remember him talking about that last season, but had no idea when they’d do it. Well, I certainly did now. Having been told by my family priest that it could be nasty if he was brought out of it abruptly, I was left watching helplessly as he was led along the road, at times staggering as though blind drunk, but thankfully still under the influence; before walking back to camp muttering angrily that the meeting was plainly not happening.

That wasn’t the only meeting I was expecting that would later be cancelled. In fact that became the running theme of the event; nothing went to plan. Still, there was always Broken Wheel…

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery


Chasing the virtues out of camp for Broken Wheel

The Feast of the Broken Wheel is the Brass Coast’s religious festival. It’s also when the rest of Anvil await sundown on Saturday with bated breath. This was my first festival as a Freeborn, but according to others, most of the other taverns barred anyone from the Coast last year. It’s a time when all virtues get turned on their heads, which means much mickey-taking, debauchery and generally making as much of a nuisance of themselves to other nations as possible. And the best I could come up with was having some fun with my old League outfit.

Well, the idea was just to assume my character’s old persona as Ferrero’s apprentice – she’d been given a League name during her time there – but while changing, I eyed the burgundy headscarf I’d donated a couple of seasons ago, and a sly grin crept across my face…

To kick off the festivities, we “chased the virtues out of camp” – a puppet of the most virtuous Emperor we’d ever had – and ended up in Navarr, where we had a leaving gathering for someone moving there. In true Freeborn spirit for this time of year, our Egregore saw him off by mocking Highguard customs; acting solemn and ringing a little bell.

Witnessing someone move from Brass Coast to Navarr. You can see the back of my burgundy-wrapped head on the bottom right.

The fun really started when I returned to camp. I managed to be “Emiliana Sanguineo” for all of five minutes, before the guests at camp greeted me with a resounding “It’s Mrs Ferrero!” I wound up doing my best (worst) impersonation of the guy for a while instead, including a dance with one of them.

When I caught up with the man himself during loo duty the next day and told him about this, he burst out laughing. He thought the whole thing was hilarious 😀

Back to reality

It wasn’t all good, however; in fact the ending was the worst I’ve had so far.

I left particularly late due to lift timing. That wouldn’t have been so bad in itself, except on the first train back I came over feverish. With no seating free, I tried to sit on the floor – and was instantly pulling myself to my feet with a churning feeling in my stomach.

By the time I eventually woke the next day, I’d thrown up three times – twice on the way back, and again while trying to sleep. I discovered later that there was something going around Anvil, as quite a few people had come home sick. Sleep is great medicine though; thankfully I’m only in college twice a week, as I spent most of the following week in bed – and I was still feeling a little off when I went back.

I’ve now broken up for half term, which is why I’m only now writing this up. Next post will be more costume diary as I get my winter project finished.


Photo credits: Tom Garnett, Martin Mann