So now there is a mystical/magical/mysterious Gate between Rook’s Hill and Mystery Hill. Iowa discovered it by following a black chicken (a black rooster, actually). It was an easy step to decide that the black chicken has been a minor character in Kekionga folklore the whole time. (Kekionga has a lot of weird folklore, most of which was invented specifically for plot purposes, or because it would be fun to draw or both.) This adds a bit of atmosphere and also gives a reason for Iowa to follow the chicken even though it is probably a bad idea (particularly if it’s a dark and stormy night in the thickets of Rook’s Hill).
This suggested a bit of backstory. Wouldn’t it be cool if Bone Joan’s familiar had been a black chicken, and it continued to be seen around Mystery Hill long after her death?
Bone Joan is a character who has been present in the Kekionga background– one of the very first European inhabitants, long before the area was widely settled, a wise woman and herbalist who lived alone so that people thought she was a witch, blah blah blah. I know more about how and where she lived (in a hut made primarily of mammoth tusks and bones on the far slopes of Mystery Hill) than I do about how she looked, so I don’t have a great drawing of her to share here. I have a feeling that is going to be corrected soon. So picture her as a tall, thin woman with long brownish hair, wearing a combination of Puritan or Colonial and Indian clothing: perhaps a long black dress and a calico apron, with moccasins and a fur or leather cap. And accompanied by a black rooster.
If the chicken was occasionally seen around Mystery Hill, and had a reputation for leading people into trouble in the marshy parts of the Woods. maybe people in Kekionga have always said “never follow a black chicken”, meaning the same thing as “never shut yourself in any wardrobe”. (Retroactive folklore is the best folklore.) So Iowa should have known better, but when she saw the chicken on campus, all the way across town from its usual haunts, you can’t blame her for being curious. All in all, she is glad she followed that chicken that day in the story that hasn’t been written yet. Mostly glad, anyway.
So that’s all we know about the Black Chicken Gate right now. There are many more questions than answers– we haven’t even started setting up the Gate’s rules and conditions. But it’s still pretty amazing, considering that none of it existed at all five or six days ago. Plus, now if anyone ever asks me where my worldbuilding ideas come from, I can send them here to read this essay in four parts. It’s better than shrugging and saying “it just happens”.