Tom D03s09

TheTale: Day Three - Evening.
TheTale: The walk through the Denmarche is calm, untroubled. The night wind stings a little, kicking up biting dust, but… well, as long as someone pulls up dog's bandanna for them, it should be okay.
Shiba: Probably Luc.
Dog‘ was certainly helped by their boy! 100%.
TheTale: And then, it’s just the long trail. Sometimes it goes over an ancient high road. Sometimes it doesn't.
Shinzou sings something- an ancient song, a Monstery song, one with a melody that isn't entirely human- as they walk.
TheTale: Out in the night, there are Holmat camps, red-bannered. Ykare's messengers go out to them. Some of them pull up stakes and go home.
TheTale: If you were to just watch the dancing lights behind you, it might just seem like the march spans the whole width of the desert.
Shiba: "So what're the odds you think the king's gonna take it?"
Shinzou: "One hundred percent."
Shinzou: "I know, I know, never use probabilities of zero or a hundred."
Shinzou: "But that's the privilege of a pure heart, isn't it?"
Dog: "If we do our best, I'm sure he'll listen to us!"
Shiba: "Street fighting math."
Shinzou: "Who would have ever thought that -this- was possible," -and he extends his hands to take in the sweep of the desert and the marching-home armies.
Shinzou: "Certainly not I, and I had the bias of hope on my side."
TheTale: Eventually, the ground firms up, to scrubland.
TheTale: Eventually, the lights of Sycorax, its stone steppes and spires, come into sight, lush with greenery, heavy with flowing water.
Dog: "Smells like home…"
Shinzou: "It does, doesn't it?"
Dog: "Yeah!" Tailwag. "It's been nice to explore, but I kind of missed it."
Shinzou: "I wonder how many are like me, back in Prospero. Who'd smell that air, and recognise it for home."
TheTale: The lights at the Spark-Kickers are off.
Dog: "I think there must definitely be other people who would! They've just never gotten the chance."
TheTale: But, further in -
Shinzou: "That's always seemed like such a tragedy, to me."
Shiba: "I dunno. I've never really felt like I could call a place here home."
TheTale: On the streets lining waterways, past the sleepy residences so packed with monsters there's rat-boys sleeping on window-sills -
TheTale: You can hear music! There must be a night-market tonight!
Dog: "Is that because your home's by the Mana Tree?"
Shinzou: "Well, that's fair enough. You're- damn, I can't actually call you an alien, because we've got those, too." He smiles.
Shiba: "Not even there."
Dog: "Well… I guess that just means you get to see a lot of new places as a stranger, right?"
Shiba smirks. "Damn right."
TheTale: A pack of shadows carrying goods - seven of them struggling to carry one pallet with their incorporeal forms - elbow their way unnoticeably past Shiba, rushing up to the market streets.
Dog: "Like the night market! Which is going on, um… why is the night market going on?"
Shiba: "It's night."
TheTale: It's hard for seven people to crowd around one pallet, but I mean - it gets easier when you can overlap.
Shiba mutters to herself. "(Hmmm … no god-beasts to tackle, so no need to go hunting on a deal for coins. - wait, this isn't there.)"
Shinzou: "Surprised they don't all chip in and buy a wheelbarrow."
Dog: "Maybe they're saving up for something big?"
TheTale: It's night. That's why there's a night market.
TheTale: I mean, during the day, you buy ordinary things. Money and clothes and useful sundries and washing-machine repair.
TheTale: But sometimes! Sometimes a horn sounds, and the musicians barrel in, and the night market kicks in, and that's when you sell… unusual things. Like origami ducks, and lucky bricks, and love charms, and music jugs!
TheTale: Nobody…
TheTale: Nobody actually knows whose horn it is.
Shinzou: "Hmm, that could be."
Shiba: "I blame Yesker for this. Lights are out at the Spark-Kickers, so…"
Shinzou: "Generally a safe bet, let me tell you."
Dog: "It's pretty suspicious!"
Shinzou: "What can I say, he's a suspicious fellow!"
TheTale: High on a mountain overlooking Sycorax is the palace of Yhe Holmat. Higher than the sky itself.
TheTale: You'll have to climb up there eventually. But you could, on the way, swing by the Night Market.
Shiba: "Hella suspicious. But anyway. I'm gonna … go peruse the stalls a bit. See if there's a coin collection."
Dog: "We might find something important!"
Dog: "… but I don't have any money, because I'm just a dog."
Shinzou had already started following the Night Marketers.
Dog‘ trots along behind!
TheTale: Strings of multicolored lights twinkle over the stalls. Strange goods change hands - things dredged up from the ancient past, misunderstood trinkets, The night is young, so sellers are gutsy, and prices are high: "Never lose your keys! Never lose anyone’s keys! Keep track of all the keys of the universe with this one-foot circumference blessed holy keyring! Doing you a favor at sixty
TheTale: talents! "
TheTale: …But most people just come here to browse, anyway.
TheTale: Over a mug of green tea, the Newt nods at Dog. "Evening to you," he says.
TheTale: And I mean, I had to look him up too:
TheTale: He's a knight! He holds the purse-strings of the knighthood, as its quartermaster! He's… sort of stodgy, and long-whiskered, and also a giant newt…?
Shinzou doesn't have anything to barter, although he's caught a few people staring at his earring. Nope, not for sale.
TheTale: …That's everything there is to know about the Newt.
Dog‘ wags their tail! "Good evening, sir Newt!"
TheTale: He stoops down - not really a kneel, just to be closer to who he’s talking to. His throat picks up quite a few folds in the process. "Good evening to you, Good Dog."
TheTale: "You've returned! With our itinerant sculptor still with you, and plus…" He looks at Shinzou.
TheTale: "You're of an unpopular caste."
Dog‘ happybark!!
Shiba: "Deal with it."
Dog: "This is Shinzou, he’s my friend!"
Dog: "So don't worry about him, okay?"
Shinzou bows, slowly and carefully.
TheTale: The Newt looks up at Shinzou with swivelling eyes, staying stooped at dog-level. "No, I won't."
TheTale: "Even if I would, I left my swords in my other eight coats."
Shinzou: "…I am. But I've been here before, and I've atoned for my sins. Not that I think that that erases them, except in the sense that they're no longer tromping around the Glozenfeld." He smiles, sheepishly.
Shiba: "Still more reparations to be done."
TheTale: He shakes himself upright, clutching his back.
TheTale: "Even if you've been here before, it's good you have a guide."
Dog: "I'm a regular guide dog, yup!"
Shinzou: "Well, that's why I'm here. Peace talks are wind without a human putting something on the line."
TheTale: "Diplomacy, is it? I shouldn't talk with you now, then. Snacks spoil a dinner."
Dog: "We just thought, since it was the night market… maybe we'd find something important for our quest!"
Shiba: "What, you thought that?"
Shiba: "Not everything has to be narratively significant like that. Sometimes just taking a stroll through the night life is good for its own sake."
Dog: "But it would suck if we got up there, and we needed an item we didn't find!"
Dog: "That's how this works, right?"
Shinzou: "I mean, the two aren't mutually exclusive, either."
Shinzou: "Maybe you needed [A Breath of Fresh Air], or something."
TheTale: "I, myself, came for the mud tea."
Shiba: "I've got a coin collection to fill out still."
Dog: "I don't really buy things," says the Dog, "because it's awful hard to carry them!"
TheTale: "It's hard to find coins, isn't it?" the Newt squints at some nonspecific direction.
TheTale: "There was one last night-market, but they turned out to be brass buttons."
Shinzou: "I mean, if you could convince everyone to treat brass buttons as currency…"
Dog: "I'd do it!"
Shiba: "Huh."
Shiba: "I was … thinking on a different line of thought entirely, but no coins is kind of in-theme."
Shiba: "Wacky."
Dog: "Huh?"
Shinzou just… chuckles.
Shiba: "Okay, how about this."
Shiba: "I need to fill out my dice collection because roleplaying games are hard!"
Shiba: "Surely the night market has some d2s."
Shinzou reaches over, pats Shiba on the head.
Shiba: "What."
Shinzou: "Can't I be amused?"
Shiba: "I will begrudgingly allow it."
TheTale: There is, indeed, a dice-seller.
TheTale: It's right next to a stall selling a clarinet (just one, but I mean, it's really expensive.)
TheTale: Carved from sugar-crystal, mostly ten-sided.
TheTale: The Newt gives a final nod to Dog and todders off.
Dog‘ wags their tail at the Newt!
Shiba was … she was mostly just narrating for effect. She had no real intention of actually looking for dice.
Shinzou: Too late now, buckaroo.
Shiba: Well, anyway: "So what would you use to represent 50-50 odds of something? My friend here was just going on about such odds not existing, just zero or 100%."
Shinzou: "I said nothing of the sort and you know it!"
TheTale: The proprietor rifles through a basket of dice and takes out a cube.
TheTale: It produces a sharpie marker.
TheTale: It crosses out all the faces except the one reading "1" .
TheTale: It hands it to Shiba.
Shiba: "I … "
Shinzou starts giggling.
Shiba hands over some talents rather than asking the proprietor to clean off the marker.
Shinzou: "There ya go."
Shiba: "Thanks."
Dog: "If it works, it works!"
Shiba: "Alright, Dog, will that suffice as our important item?"
Dog: "Yeah!"
Dog: "I think if there were a more important item… it would’ve jumped out at us by now, right?"
Shiba: "Great."
Shinzou: "Probably so."
Shiba: "I dunno, there was also mention of mud tea."
Shiba almost immediately regrets mentioning that.
Shinzou: "You didn't know about mud tea?"
Shinzou: "A- anyways, it's… it's mostly a thing for people who are also glorious, catfish-whiskered newts."
Shinzou: "So we're… we're probably good?"
Dog: "Mud tea is…. well, it's good for the Newt!"
Shiba: "I was joking."
Shinzou: "I wasn't! Mud tea is serious business. If you're a newt."
TheTale: But then, it's time to think about the mountain, isn't it?
Dog: "We'd better start climbing, right?"
Shiba: "Yep."
Dog‘ starts trotting off towards that mountain, then!
TheTale: On the southern edge of the two kingdoms -
TheTale: The mountains of Hightower.
TheTale: When the wind turns, the smell of sulphur comes down off it. The holes pitted deep into it glow with an inner fire, the labyrinthine foundations of the palace of Yhe Holmat growing deeper with every day. Steel girders brace up undermined cliffs.
TheTale: As you approach, you can even see a river of gravel run down one distant, moonlit promontory as a sheet of it falls loose.
Shinzou hasn’t been here, before. Never seemed right.
Dog‘ has, and so they make sure to stay to the /middle/ of the path.
TheTale: It isn’t good to be too close to cliffs, you see. Either above or below.
Shinzou follows behind Dog, watching his step. Time to be cautious and careful, on several levels.
Shiba slithers behind, keeping up the rear. Maybe act as a makeshift rope if someone tumbles.
TheTale: At first, the trail is gentle - lined by shrubs, the occasional bench.
TheTale: There's a tiny park - complete with dedication plaque - at the end of the gentle trail, where the ascent to Hightower starts earnest.
TheTale: There, underneath a gnarled tree, on a bench, reclines the white serpent, Fal Silke, smoking gently.
TheTale: Bushy-eyebrowed, long-feathered.
Shiba: "Evening."
TheTale: "Evening."
Dog: "Hi!"
TheTale: She smiles. Her tone to Dog is very different: "Hello!"
TheTale: "It's time to save the world, isn't it?"
Dog: "Yup!" Tailwag.
TheTale: She seems as if she's about to say something - some prophecy, some great pronouncement - and then she stops, thinks better of it. A sheepish look as she taps out ash from her pipe.
TheTale: "…Need anything from an old sage?"
Dog: "Do you know any blessings for helping kings to listen to small dogs?"
Shiba: "No idea. What've you got to offer?"
TheTale: "I can bless that, certainly."
TheTale: A few words, a sparkle of magic.
TheTale: …You feel lucky!
Dog‘ wags their tail! "Thanks! We’ll definitely be able to do it now!"
TheTale: "As for what, beyond that…"
TheTale: "…I think our enemy might be sick."
TheTale: "When you get up to the Palace, in the treasury, there's another chrysalis, and…" She frowns.
Shiba: "Over in Prospero?"
TheTale: "No," she says. "Here, on this mountain."
Dog: "There's another chrysalis?" Dog whines, looks up at their fellows. "… we should go help, right?"
Shinzou raises an eyebrow, listening for now.
Shiba: "And what, then?"
TheTale: "See for yourself, I suppose. Decide what it means."
TheTale: "It's dead."
TheTale: "Whatever the enemy was trying to accomplish with it… it could not."
Dog: "I wonder if it's like the other one we saw…"
TheTale: "Yes, just like that."
TheTale: "…Except for the obvious difference."
Shinzou: "Well, now I'm just curious."
Shiba: "Single room occupancy?"
Shiba: "Or is this a thing obvious only to you until you state it?"
Shinzou: "Presumably, it's just hard to describe in words."
TheTale: She shakes her head.
TheTale: "It's dead. That's the difference."
Dog: "Well… at least if it's dead, it's not going to threaten anyone. But we should check it out anyway, right?"
Shiba: "Sure."
Dog: "If nothing else, the king should know!"
TheTale: "I think…" She looks up, again.
TheTale: "…I think that's all I can give you."
TheTale: "Take care on the mountain, now."
Dog: "Thank you!"
Dog: "We'll be careful!"
Shiba: "Sure thing."
Shiba: "And thanks for the heads-up."
Shinzou bows to her, once again. (And hides behind Dog, again. Which looks… pretty comical, really!)
Dog` doggy-bows, wags tail, straightens up. (Dog is an EXCELLENT choice to hide behind! Presuming you are tiny.)
TheTale: The trail leads upwards.

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