The other thing we want to do when stressed out is hide away and play video games nonstop. So even though we have been making sure to be responsible and get some work done (in the hopes of being able to afford things at some point), we're also making it a point to not work overtime. (One of the biggest stressors of this whole thing is the idea that we really can afford it, but we miiiiight have to keep working nonstop overtime in order to do so. And the thought of that makes my chest hurt.)
But the point is, we've been playing Labyrinth of Andersen. So let's talk about that.
First, I left out a seemingly important plot point from when the Little Match Boy and Thumbelina escaped their hometown, which is that the big lizards that were attacking were commanded by the Black Knight, and there's a Dragon Knight and his dragon friend who suddenly showed up the day before and seem to be, like, the opposite of the Black Knight or something, and after Thumbelina's mother dies and Lars (the Match Boy) has been struggling to fight the lizards for a while, the Dragon Knight finally shows up to help. When he and the Black Knight are locked in combat, Lars takes Thumbelina and runs.
...into the forest! Where they keep running into more and more obstacles, including a toad who wants Thumbelina to marry her son. It was revealed in the prologue that Charlotte is deathly afraid of frogs, so she's not too keen on this idea. Lars rescues her from being eaten (he had run off to lure some goblins away--seriously, there's like no rest for these people), and the toad loses her tongue and gets burned to a crisp, and all of this prompts her son to turn evil and seek revenge against the match vendor who did this to his dear mother.
Meanwhile, Lars and Thumbelina (Charlotte) are wandering the forest and keep getting loster and loster, and hungrier and hungrier, until eventually they run into Rune (I'm guessing on the spelling for this). We have no idea what fairy tale he's from, but later on they hint at his past and lineage and maybe he's an original character based on something else that we might get to later. For now, he's the hippie ranger guy, the guy who talks to the wind, knows everything about the forest, and hates people. He's nice anyway, though, despite hating people. He's just one of those laid-back, go with the flow types. And he seems to know, like, everything, which I guess we should have known because he has a pointy witch's hat (it's green), and anyone with pointy hats has to be some kind of learned person. And at first he just wants to help Thumbelina and Lars get out of the forest, so he shows them the way and says 'kay, bye, but then this troll attacks and Lars almost dies (several times, based on how long that action sequence went on).
The wind tells Rune what all's going on, so he comes back to help, but he doesn't help that much, he just tells Lars to use the Force or something, and eventually Lars figures out how to use his other magic fire (he has magic matches that make a lot of fire, but if he uses a different spell, he can make extra hot white fire that I think shows illusions to the victim but mostly is just blinding? I have a hard time following the action sequences, so I don't know the exact specifics of how it works) and finally the troll is defeated. (Of course Thumbelina wanted to help, but what can a girl the size of a thumb do against a troll that's basically just a super-armored tree? She did use her courage spell to empower Lars, though.)
So now Rune figures he might as well stick with the party, and he takes them to see the witch of the mist (I don't know if she's from a fairy tale, so I don't know if her name is usually translated differently), who looks like an owl. Not really, though, she just looks like a woman with a cloak that's rather owlish. Anyway, she tells Thumbelina that, sorry, you're not actually human and that's your real size! Aw, man, Charlotte thinks, I don't like being tiny. She's also a little shocked that she's not human, and that gets her a little down. But there's hope! because there is a very specific kind of potion--the kirika no shizuku (mist flower drop?)--that can make people big without killing them (apparently enlargement magic is very dangerous). So Thumbelina decides to go look for that and oh, by the way, a very evil person is hunting for her.
Speaking of which, his soldiers are on their way! Well, Lars is having none of that--he is sick and tired of those stupid lizards and he's not a fan of being a fugitive. So he fights them and burns down the whole forest (oops), and everyone is devastated, especially the little baby weasels whose mother died of horrible burns after struggling to get her children to safety, so Thumbelina accidentally summons all the magic in the forest to her to revive it (I forgot to mention, she learned a healing spell at the beginning of the game). But the magic is too much for her, so it kind of knocks her out, and the witch of the mist has to help redirect the magic so it doesn't destroy Thumbelina from the inside.
So the forest is saved (except for the weasels' mother, who's still dead, but the witch will take care of them), and now Rune figures he's supposed to go with the party so he does. But before they go anywhere, he's all, "I need to take care of something," and he shoots the magic arrow the witch just gave him at the moon, which until now had had a creepy evil face and was what was tracking Thumbelina so Mr. Evil Face knew where she was. But now the moon is purified from its curse and has a creepy nice face instead, and Thumbelina reports to him every night before she goes to bed.
And then they meet the Ugly Duckling, who is hilarious. I think in real life he would be one of the most annoying people ever, but in the context of the game, he's funny. He's just really full of himself and also always trying to hit on women. But also very pious. The party finds him when the menfolk are out hunting for breakfast, and the Ugly Duckling comes and practically begs the little match boy to eat him. But then when he takes him to show everybody, the duckling acts all put upon and stuff. I wish I could remember more of the exchange that happened, but it's been a very long week. What I do remember is that even easygoing Rune would have happily killed him for breakfast. But Thumbelina for some reason thought he was cute and funny, so she said no please can't he join us? And Rune's like, "Sure. You never know when we could use some emergency rations," and Lars was like, "Okay, I can get behind that idea." So whenever Match Boy gets mad at him, he calls him emergency rations, and whenever Ugly Duckling gets mad at Lars he calls him Jamu-yarou, which literally means "jam guy" but meaning-wise might be more of a Jam Face or Jam Head or something, but anyway it's a reference to the boy's red(dish) cloak that looks like strawberry jam.
So the Ugly Duckling swears fealty to Thumbelina, and refuses to eat what Rune caught for breakfast because it was also a bird (he's okay with boar, though), so Lars gives him some grass, which is like his favorite food ever, so he demands more, and Lars demands he get it himself, and he's all, "Fine!" so he eats some, and then he spits it out because ew there was a bug on it. The bug's younger brother is traumatized by the event, especially when the weakened bug is blown away by the wind, and the younger bug also swears vengeance on Thumbelina and her horrible duck servant.
Then the party goes off to meet the Snow Queen. Not on purpose. They went to a village and Lars and Thumbelina were so excited at the thought of sleeping in real beds...but the village was frozen solid! Oh no! So Lars uses his magic fire to thaw a dude who says, "A witch turned the whole town to ice! We're all gonna die!! Aaaaaaaaahhhh!!" and runs away. They continue to explore the town and see someone moving in the shadows. It's a girl mourning the freezing of a young man who was very dear to her. She wanted to give him flowers, but those, too, have been frozen solid.
...And I'm having a hard time with this summary because I'm not feeling the funny energy right now. I'm trying, but I'm kind of out of it today. It's been a long week. But I still have some time, so let's keep trying.
So they're in the frozen village with the frozen beloved and the mourning girl, and Lars goes to comfort her because they're on their way to see the witch and get everything all sorted out, so he reaches out to put his hand on her shoulder and she goes, "Don't touch me!" and slaps his hand away...at which point Lars's hand starts to be encased in ice. Oops. While he's slowly being frozen, Rune, who is very matter-of-fact, is like, "Oh, so you're the Snow Queen I've heard about," and we're all like, "Good idea, Rune, let's provoke the woman who apparently just froze an entire village." He knows a lot of stuff, but sometimes he's judgment skills are not that great. So she says, "You did this to yourself!" and touches him, and he freezes.
But Lars is still freezing slowly, because apparently accidental freezing is a slower process. But he's actually not too bad at thinking under pressure, because he drops his basket, throws Thumbelina onto the Ugly Duckling like he's some kind of chocobo, and tells him to go far, far away. And so Thumbelina and the Ugly Duckling (who of course is not opposed to running away in the least) narrowly escape an icy doom. But Thumbelina's like, "We have to go back and save them!" and Ugly Duckling is like, "Good luck with that!" ...Actually, he's a lot more attached to Thumbelina than that, because he tried to convince her not to, and she was all, that's okay, you don't have to come with me. So she goes off by herself, and then the duckling has a monologue about fine whatever if you get frozen that's your problem, but then he imagines her falling into a pothole or something and needing his help and he can't bear the thought of it, so he goes with her.
And together, they go to the Snow Queen's palace, where they find out that she basically has the Midas touch of ice. And she's very lonely because of it, and not only that, but people constantly say bad things about her on the internet. The Ugly Duckling can sympathize, because that's just how the internet is, but come on (he advises), if you know they're saying bad things, just don't read it. She points out it's not that easy--if you know people are talking about you, you want to know what they're saying. Oh, and apparently the Snow Queen froze her boyfriend, and so the whole town went angry mob on her and that's why it was all frozen. But her boyfriend said that this fancy wizard guy (whose name has been popping up rather frequently, but I don't know how to spell it Varfa, or Valpha or something) said that if someone truly cared for the Snow Queen with no...ulterior motives, or something? then they could touch her, and that's why they tried it, and oops.
So Thumbelina's all, "I know you're not a bad person! I care about you!" And the Snow Queen's all, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" And Thumbelina's like, "You know what, I will!" and Ugly Duckling's like, "No, don't do it, are you crazy!" and she's like, "I will!" and he's like, "Noooooo!" so he dives between them and gets frozen. And then Thumbelina remembers a new spell and unfreezes everything. I should probably explain the spells. Thumbelina has this book that her mother had that she got from some fancy wizard dude (if you guessed Varfarella, you're right!), but nobody can read it. Thumbelina could read the first page, which had the healing spell and the courage spell, and then when Lars was fighting the goblins, the book happened to fall, and it happened to open to a page that he happened to accidentally be able to read, and that's how he finally figured out how to make his matches work on command. So when Lars dropped the basket earlier, it happened to open to a page that Thumbelina couldn't read, but when the Ugly Duckling froze (and I think there was some long thought process, or a dialogue between her and the Snow Queen or something), some photographic memory triggered or something, and she remembered the page and the spell that was on it, which was the warmth of spring spell.
And then she touched the Snow Queen, and they were all very touched. But they still had to rescue the village and Lars and Rune. So they did that, and the town was like, "There she is! She's a witch! Burn her!" And Thumbelina's like, "Tell them why this all happened!" so they told about the Snow Queen's boyfriend, and the town was like, "Yeah, like we're supposed to believe that!" and they were like, "Dude, just ask him!" so they did, and he looked back and forth between his girlfriend and the mob a couple of times (he didn't really; we embellished that part) and he said, "Uh...yeah...she tricked me..." and Svia (we think that's how to spell the Snow Queen's name) was like, "Fine, the cold never bothered me anyway!" and leaves town. Then outside of town the party's like, "So hey, you wanna join us?" and she's like, "But I'll freeze everybody," and Thumbelina's like, "That's okay; we know how to unfreeze!" And she wouldn't freeze Thumbelina anyway, because Thumbelina is immune.
Then there was a weird bonus chapter where Rune and Ugly Duckling (the two not-naive characters) went off to take care of something, and the rest of them got tricked by a random slave trader into getting themselves locked into his slave-mobile. It took some convincing by one of the slaves who wasn't quite so jaded as to be dead to the rest of the world that uh, yeah, that guy totally just tricked you and now he's going to sell you into slavery, before the truth dawned on them, and they were like, "So not cool!" so they broke out. And they said to the slaves, "You're free! Go! Be free!" And the former slaves were all, "This sucks. I used to have job security, now I'm homeless." And so they were all very sad, until Rune came by and said, "Hey, look, there's one slave that's not mad at you!" and it was the one that convinced them that they were in trouble. And he was like, "Thanks guys! First I'm gonna go home and grow some food and eat it. And then I'm gonna go see the world and tell everyone about you and all my fantastical adventures!" And we're like, "I think I know what your name is!" And then they were all like, "Oh hey, we never introduced ourselves!" so after learning Lars's name, he's all...can you guess? He's all, "My name's Hans." Yup! You guessed it! So I don't know if we'll be hearing from him later or what, but there you have it; Hans Christian Andersen had a cameo role.
...Oh right, before that there was a chapter where Thumbelina accidentally ate a memory mushroom that makes the eater fall asleep and relive their memories. I don't know if that's going to be significant later, but she liked it, because her mom was alive and she was normal size again, so she wanted to stay and enjoy it, but deep down she knew it wasn't right and at one point she saw one of her friends (you get to pick which one! we chose the match boy, because it seems like he should get to go first) and I don't remember exactly but she snaps out of it and they're all very relieved, because Rune heard that one guy ate the mushroom and slept for three years before he came out of it.
And then they went to meet the Little Mermaid, but I think I'll go into that later.
Today I'm thankful for having lemon white chocolate chip cookie dough, pudding being on sale (I know that at some point in this whole dental adventure we're going to need pudding, and I also know I would have liked to have some on Monday when it all started because I was starving (we missed breakfast and lunch thanks to stupid logistics) but I was afraid to chew on anything; also, I really like pudding), dental adventures giving us an excuse to buy pudding, the neighborhood black cat not being afraid to come back and visit even after Athena snapped at it the other day, and the fact that I think I succeeded in making that summary at least a little funny in some places.