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Friday, November 25, 2022

F³ The Brush Man 07

           Collecting hair from Ranger’s mane was easy enough, and I figured out pretty quickly that tying a simple overhand knot in one end was a convenient way to hold them together, at least for testing. But I wanted more than just the one brush to try out.

            The next day, I went back into town and visited Hans, the butcher. Like most people in the Realms, he was kind of a stereotypical figure. Fairly rotund, though also muscular, with a stained apron stretched over the roundness. He sported a trimmed beard and thick moustache, which somehow seemed to be two entirely separate pieces of facial hair. Whenever he talked, the moustache seemed more animated than his jaw.

            “Morning, Shamus, I’ve got some fine meats, today,” he said with a hint of a German accent. He gestured to some hanging carcasses. “And we’re about to make some sausage, too.” He pointed to the sausage grinder sitting on a thick block of wood. “They’ll be done smoking this afternoon.

            My stomach grumbled at the thought of some good sausages. They tended to be one of my favorite choices of things to eat in the Realms because they didn’t need refrigeration.

            I put in an order for the sausages, then made my other request. “I also need some hair. I’m making some brushes.”

            “Hmm, well, I sell the skins, hair and all to the tanner, Crispin, who lives outside of town to the west. He sends one of his boys in ever couple of days to take my skins. I toss them into barrels with water. They drop off empty barrels and pick up the full ones.”

            “Why is he so far out?” I asked.

            Hans wrinkled his moustache, which almost did a barrel roll around his nose. “Tanning is nasty business. Awful, awful smells. No one wants a tanner nearby.”

            I think Hans, and promised I’d be by later for my sausage.

            “You can’t go wrong with Marion’s bread to go with my sausage.” This time his moustache virtually winked at me.

            That comment was probably more innocent than I’m making it out to be, but that winking moustache is hard to ignore.

Friday, November 18, 2022

F³ Application Problems 06

           Ernst had written down the recipes, teaching me the notation system as he did, which was mostly just abbreviations. It kind of reminded me of chemistry class with the periodic table symbols, but now I had to relearn all the names according to the apothecary’s ingredient names. He kept copies of the recipes for himself, probably more because it was something to have than he’d ever have to make it for anyone but me, and I was able to leave the apothecary’s shop with half a dozen fingerprint powder recipes and several packets of what we had made.

            I was in a good mood as Ranger walked us out of town. I even bought an apple from the young boy with his basket of fruit. “Feed it to my horse,” I said to him. I fished out a copper from my coin purse and handed it down to him. In the process, I saw my stained fingers. I had washed them at Ernst’s shop, but hadn’t been able to get all of the various residues off.

            Application is going to be a problem. I lose too much shaking it off the paper, and it doesn’t disperse as well as it should. I need a duster.

            Ranger happily chomped away at the apple the boy held, while I continued thinking. The Realms, despite their many offerings, didn’t have a fingerprint dusting brush. Like with the powders, I would have to make my own. But out of what? Modern brushes were all of synthetic materials like nylon.

            Ranger finished the apple, even slurping the juices off the boy’s hand, who chuckled then went back to the little stall where his mother was. Ranger stamped a hoof.

            “That’s all you get, buddy. Got some oats for you back at the cabin. Come on.” I touched my heels to his sides and clicked my tongue.

            This time he stamped his hoof and tossed his head, shaking his mane at me.

            I blinked and ran my fingers through the long hairs of his mane, then smiled.

            I signaled the boy for more apples, and this time gave him a silver, telling him “Keep the change.”

Friday, November 11, 2022

F³ Perfecting Recipes 05

           Ernst and I spent hours working on refining recipes. Fortunately, the ingredients were fairly common and he already had an ample supply of them, though he did remark that he would need to gather more after all we had used. It helped that we could continue to tweak the recipes by adding a little more of a given ingredient.

            Early in the testing, I realized my fingerprint oils weren’t going to last through all the tests, so with his candle, we made very thin wax fingerprints of my left hand. The wax wasn’t a perfect replica, but it worked for testing purposes. We also were using the very imprecise method of just tapping the powder off of small sheets of paper when we scooped it out of the mortar—Ernst was kind enough to instruct me on which was which.

            The latest recipe used chalk, graphite, and just a little soot, or lampblack as Ernst called it. I tapped the side of the paper with my filthy finger, and let the powder onto the wax print. I gently blew the excess off to reveal a decent print. It was fairly easy to see the powder contrasting with the yellow wax. It didn’t clump, it was just sticky enough to the print.

            “Goal!” I raised my arms and began singing the Rangers goal song.

            Ernst joined in after a few words, as if he had always been a Rangers fan, too. About halfway through, I heard people outside joining in, and somehow musical instruments played the tune.

            I had never started up a song in the Realms before, usually the spontaneous songs annoyed me, but I’d make an exception in this case.

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