This week we played Around the Realm by Randy Lubin, in which childhood friends Nella and Bly begin a journey around their fantastical land, the Whirl. Nella is street smart, cautious, and gregarious while Bly is book smart, courageous, and shy. If they can make it back home after circumnavigating the whirl before the summer solstice, they will win untold wealth from a friend who wishes to challenge them.
The first leg of their journey is among a flotilla of small craft making their way across the sea. Bly antagonizes the captain of another boat, who sidles next to us and unleashes his elephant seal onto our deck. He crashes through our rigging, but Bly manages to use the loosed ropes to tie up the seal until it calms down and we can release it back into the water. Across the sea, we enter the city of the undead, where skeletons ply their trades and live everyday lives. One day, the animals escape the zoo, and we’re surrounded by skeletal predators. Luckily for us, a skeletal zookeeper comes rushing into the middle of the animal circle waving his arms and blowing an airhorn and manages to drive them away. He encourages us to leave the city as soon as we can.
Next, we join a diplomatic delegation of elves returning to their citadel to report on their building of relations with Skeleton City. A massive storm arises with driving rains and winds, stranding us on the open plans. We stick close together until we find an empty shack where we can ride out the storm, but some of our horses are lost in the night. After the storm passes, we encounter the great tent city of the plains, full of the sounds of hawkers selling their wares, the smells of roasting meats, the sloshing of tankards of ale, the gabbling of many tongues, and the hum of multifarious peoples intermixing. As we’re navigating the markets, a tent begins to explode as fireworks are ignited. People try to escape the fire and the noise, creating a huge chaotic mass, trapping us deep inside the tent city. But Nella uses her gregarious street smarts to negotiate a way through people’s tents to avoid the overcrowded pathways and get us safely out of the mess.
We must leave our friends at this point on their journey, as we had to end early. Will they ever find their way back home? And will it be in time to win the prize?