Young Billobi never understood why anyone would live in Badgerbrough. Despite being one of the larger towns on a large trade route that went straight through the country, nothing exciting seemed to happen. Yes, travellers from far away came to the taverns and told stories of bravery and fighting and underground cities inhabited by squid-like men - but, that was just the point: all things exciting happened far away from Badgerbrough. Although he suspected his head master to be a monster in disguise, that didn't really qualify. He needed to explore the country, not just his father's bakery or the school's detention room.
One particular cold winter, Billobi was sent out to buy some yarn for his mother because by some strange divine intervention, Billobi's mittens always seemed to be "somewhere else"...
"If you lose this new pair I'm about to make you", she told her son, "I'll tell your father to bake you a pair of gloves so you'll never lose them! Now go!"
Halfway to the general store, he met his friend Tristan "Hum" Beadle. Or, Tristan hit him actually - with a snowball. They spent some time declaring war on each other, tossing snow back and forth, until Billobi finally remembered his mother's words. He told Tristan about how his father would make gloves out of bread, with his hands inside. They agreed that it would be much better to head on to the general store instead.
After a couple of minutes they turned a corner and found themselves standing in front of an old building they'd never seen before. A wooden sign above the entrance had a rough drawing of a ball of yarn, with two crossed knitting needles underneath. Since the boys were tired of walking, they decided to enter.
The store felt much smaller on the inside. The walls carried loads of yarn in different colours and thickness, all stapled on primitive shelves that seemed to be an inch from collapsing. Next to the window - the sole light source in the room - an old lady in a rocking chair greeted them with a nod. She knitted intensively.
"Hello boys", she said kindly with a voice that sounded like an old hinge. "Did you walk into the wrong store, 'haps?"
"No madame", Billobi said and took off his hat. "Mum told me to buy some yarn."
"Did she now?"
"For my new mittens. Or else father will make loafs of bread of my hands."
The old lady laughed with a high pitched sound, until she had to cough.
"This is what you need", she said and tossed him a ball of yarn. "Don't want your little hands to become scones, do we now?"
"Thanks madame, how mu-", but Billobi was cut short when a tall man stormed in through the door.
"Cursed hag!" he cried, with his clenched fists up in the air. "Rid me of these cursed gloves, now! I demand you to!"
"Ah, I remember you. The prizefighter! Did you know, a long time ago I had a customer just like you. Dear mister Culver his name was, a promising prizefighter too. Disappeared into the woods, did he, but that was a long time ago... Handsome fellow, he was!"
"I don't care about your stories, witch! Remove these cursed gloves or I'll..."
"Who won the fight, young prizefighter?" she said with a mellow voice, without looking him in the eyes. "Who?"
"Me, of course! But-"
"I did what you asked for, did I not? Young man" - she turned to Billobi and smiled - "tell mum that's a gift from old nanna. Now, off you go! All three of you!"
Billobi thanked the old lady, grabbed Tristan by the arm and got out of the store under wild cursing from the tall man.
When he got home he told his mother all about the store, the free ball of yarn and old nanna. After hearing this, mother Rustfoot took the ball of yarn and threw it in the fire as quickly as possible. She made Billobi promise never to return to that store, and never accept anything from anyone calling themselves "old nanna".
Yarn sold by old spirits that call themselves "old nanna" can be found in any major city. They take over empty buildings, set up a store and sell knitted caps, gloves, and so on, or just simple balls of yarn. After some time, they disappear for a couple of years - or even centuries - only to suddenly reappear and start all over again.
Old nannas are never hostile.
The things they produce are cursed, and the most famous thing of them all is the Prizefighter Mittens. These knitted gloves look and feel just like regular gloves, with the distinct difference that they will grant a vast combat advantage to its wearer (both on to-hit and damage dealt).
The downside is that they will force the wearer to tie his fists, making him unable to pick up or grab anything at all as long as the gloves are on (which they will be until someone dispels the curse). This is how the gloves got their name; anyone seen with these kind of gloves looks like they're ready to pick a fight.
The 2016 Cartographic Review!
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