Friday, January 31, 2014

Day Six-Twenty-Five: Blorp


Garble snop snap.

What is in a bug's mind if a bug is not in a man's mind?

Holy crumbs, I do believe we are on some sort of a space odyssey.

Long john sorts with a weed whacker. What is a weed whacker? You need not question the simplicities of science, my friend. Gabba long sorts of a ten ton mile, you are not going to rub my crumpets. Left of the right to the up to the down, I have shat my jimmies.


The longest road takes ten journies unto the lost way, and in those journies I dream of men and women in sheets. I dream they are hanging until they are dead, and when they die, I fall into despair.

Yet I love it. I like it and I love it.

Oracles! Behold the oracle, his head full of post-ponderations. He sends them to the bridge and they fall to their deaths. Good lords above, all life is a game. The mind goes ill, and with it the mysterious is revealed. All hail the globular snot bag of worldly possessions.

A neck is a deadly place to go. To be. Do you understand the fruition of my loins? How can cows dream of sheep when sheep dream of cows first? Fuck me, I do believe Mr. Quincy has grabbed hold of the deadliest daggers.

The green man will go. But the brown goes first. It is a promise, a declaration, a feeding of a dream of a hope of a nightmare, and when all is said and all is done we shall all be left alone, we billions upon billions. I have seen this thing, and it is not good.

Not good.

Not good. 

Flowers are the sweetest fruit of the longest road.

The sweetest.


sweet treat



Tales of Elsewhere copyright Aegis Games, all riiiiiiights res







help me


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day Six-Twenty-Four: Lunatics of a different stripe

Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit.

I was afraid Libby might be gnawing on my head when I woke up this morning, so I spent the night with Bora and Plato. They didn't improve at all in the hour after I wrote the last diary entry, and since everyone else seemed... 'healthy'... I figured it would be best to tend to them in the morning, first thing.

I woke up with Plato's butt in my face. 

Pushing him violently aside, I stood at once. I'd been laying on the ground in a sleeping bag, and I'm frankly amazed I managed to get to my feet without actually removing myself from the bag.

Bora, draped across her bed, began to laugh. "Ahahahaa! You look like a bu-hu-hu-hug! I love that word! It's FABULOUS! BUG FLUFFERS!"

Plato, who'd rolled off to one side, leaped to attention. He saluted both Bora and I, then crawled under Bora's bed. His tail slapped the floor about a dozen times. Bora continued to laugh, bouncing on the bed and spitting on the floor.

Then Plato's rat leaped at my face. It bit my cheek. I tossed it aside - gently, mind, gently - and ran.

Edmund jumped at me next. He was not quite so easy to throw off.


"FUCK! ED! GET OFF ME!" I wrestled with him, mentally noting that, yes, that was still kind of a rhyme. "AGH, SORRY, GOTTA DO IT!"

I decked Edmund in the face. He fell back, eyes whirling unnaturally. He mumbled something about prefectures, shook his head, and came at me again. A knee to the groin put him down.

It also alerted several other crew members to my presence. A few moments later, Logan whipped around a corner and grabbed me by the throat, his sister at his side. She screamed something about pamphlets, waving a book in my face, and poked a fork in my arm. I only managed to get away when the two of them began to argue over kidney stones.

I ran through the corridors, clutching at the fork holes in my arm, looking for an empty cabin. No such luck. In each one I found another crazed crew member, engaged in some lunatic agenda, their eyes rolling and their mouths foaming. They seldom seemed to turn on each other, but whenever they saw me they leaped straight into attack mode. 

I got away, obviously. Not without a few wounds. And I'm sorry to say that I wounded a few more people in return. No deaths, but...

I mean, I don't think there's been any deaths...


I eventually found sanctuary in my own room. I figured Libby might be inside, but aside from a rabid Nagi Command was devoid of people. Most of the noise was coming from the cabins or below, in Engineering. I can only imagine the mess down there right now. It'll be a miracle if we can get the Dauphine rolling again.

Of course, it'll also be a miracle if I survive this. Assuming tomorrow's a further escalation. Just imagine what these 'people' will be like tomorrow. It's like the werewolf shit all over again, only this time there's no explanation.

All this leads me to question something rather important: Why am I not crazy? What's kept me safe?

Didn't think about it at all until maybe an hour ago.

That's when I got the chills. Now... now I can't stop shivering.

I hope I at least get an answer as to why this is happening before I lose my mind.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Day Six-Twenty-Three: All the shenanigans

Dammit, I had that dream again. The one of the Neck and the people and the woman and the pulling of the lever and the badness happening. I fucking HATE that dream. It needs to stop haunting me, 'cause on a day like today I'd love to have some sweet relief when I close my eyes.

Seriously. Today was a weird fucking day.

As I bedded down beside snoozing Libby last night, conscious that she'd managed to wet herself for the first time in our marriage (SEE I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO DOES IT), I went to sleep hoping that she'd be up and about when I opened my eyes again. Her, and Fynn, and Grylock and Edmund, and Bora, and Logan and Nagi and Jeffrey and Daena and everyone on this freaking crew. I wanted to get up and see them at work, as always.

When I got up, well, yeah, they were up. And at work. But not in the usual sense. No, sir, not in the usual sense at all.

First up was Jim. Jim's the other chocolate dude on the Dauphine. He's a nice guy, is Jim, and hard-working. Doesn't complain, is always cheerful, likes to join Edmund in singing even though his singing voice sucks. We all like Jim.

Jim was running around Command with no clothes on. I had to tackle and forcibly pin a tunic on Jim. He wriggled free, tore the tunic to shreds, and ran down to Engineering. Haven't seen him since.

Next was Nagi. Mysterious Nagi, the rude half-human half-snake. She was plastered against one of the windows of Command, attempting to lick it clean. When I tried to reason with her, she spouted a slew of words in what I hope was a foreign tongue and continued licking. Now the windows are all smeary.

When I tried to go downstairs to the Neo Beefiary, Fynn bolted past me. He screamed something along the lines of "I'M A HEFFER I'M A HEFFER". I didn't even try to stop him, 'cause he ripped the planning table out of place and balanced it on his head. I'm pretty sure he's still doing that.

Suffice it to say that the Dauphine is a fucking mess, and everyone here is utterly crazy. Grylock's lecturing the rhino on ethics; the rhino's lecturing back, I think; Logan won't stop dancing; Daena looks drunk; Edmund is attempting to mop the Neo Beefiary with a block of cheese on a stick; Jeffrey picked a fight with Libby and is now unconscious. And Libby, well, hells, Libby's doodling on the walls with a paint brush. Perhaps the least crazy thing I've seen anyone do.

Only two people are still cogent. Kinda. 

I found Plato and Bora huddled together in Bora's cabin, beneath a blanket. My first thought was of Bora being a Non-lover, hence her weird behaviour and unusual knowledge of 'the bad guys', but I quickly concluded that they were clutched together to stay warm. 

"H-h-h-h-hi, Dragomir," Bora stuttered as I walked in. "S-s-s-sorry, we're a-a-a-a-a bit tied u-u-u-u-u-p."

Plato nodded. He pressed his face into Bora's bosom, eyes twitching. She hugged him close.

"What the hell's going on?" I demanded, closing the door to block out Ed's wild screams of laughter as he whirled about on the floor nearby. "You can understand me, right? You're not crazy, right?"

They shook their heads. "N-n-n-no, just... just... really... really... c-c-c-c-cold."

After some convincing on their part, I agreed to slip into the bed with them and provide some extra body heat. They couldn't tell me what was going on with the rest of the crew, though, and despite constant forays to check on everyone I've drawn no conclusions. This shit is random, and it's crazy, and in some cases it's getting dangerous. I had to bar the door to keep Ed from getting in, as he kept flopping against the wood and professing his love for goat's cheese. Apparently it's great for cleaning your breeches of hoarfrost.

The crazies have gone to sleep since then. I guess maintaining a constant level of activity wears 'em out quick. We're not missing anybody, so I'm thankful for that much. I can only pray that they're back to normal tomorrow - or whatever's causing this reveals itself, so I can get to work solving it. At this rate it seems as though I'm the only one who can make it happen.

What in the actual fuck,

Dragomir the Wanderer

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day Six-Twenty-Two: Sleeping Duty

Hrm. Maybe it wasn't the eel fondue after all. What's going on around here?

Though she was dead determined to see us back at full power last night, Libby gave up 'round 7. She looked utterly exhausted after a more-than-full-day's work, and she went straight from Engineering to our bed. Her only order before conking out was to find a safe place to park the Dauphine. Queen Daena wanted some family time with her kids - I think she's convinced bringing Logan and Jeffrey together for activities is the first step to mending fences - so she was fine with that.

I didn't think it unremarkable that most of the crew vacated the Neo Beefiary by 8. It was a long day. People weren't feeling well. An early bedtime is good. Gave me a chance to have a quiet card game with Ed, Grylock and Plato, refereed by Plato's rat. It's apparently picked up a few games in its time.

I went to bed late, fully expecting to wake up to an active, energetic crew the next morning. I did not expect to wake up and find no one.

The Neo Beefiary is a hub of activity. It's the passage through which one goes to reach Engineering from Command, as well as the Dauphine's many cabins, so it stands to reason that you'd see at least one person there. Bora should always be there, since that's her damned job. Yet when I got up expecting a light breakfast, nobody was there.

"Hello?" I called, stepping between empty chairs and staring towards the bar. "Anybody there?"

The echo of my voice answered me. Nada.

Bora's cabin is beside the bar, so I knocked on the door. She answered after a minute or two, looking a little groggy. "Hi, Dragomir. What's up?"

I pointed to the kitchen. "Uh. Breakfast? Hello? What happened to doin' your job?"

She sneered, obviously half asleep. "I did my job. Made breakfast and everything. Nobody got up to eat it. Stood around for an hour and a half doin' jack shit. So I went back to bed. Anybody out there now?"

I glanced over my shoulder. "Um. Well... not really, but..."

"Yeah." Bora shut the door in my face. "Come back when somebody needs me. I'm sleepy."

Irritated, I walked the corridors, listening at cabin doors. In some I heard very faint movement; in others snoring; in yet others complete silence. No one reacted to my gentle knocks.

I checked Engineering. Same there. The former royal family was dozing on Daena's patch of grass, not at all bothered by my calls. Daena's kicks continued unabated as she snoozed.

I checked Command, through which I'd come in the first place. I found Nagi sleeping atop our planning table, having somehow missed her on my first sweep. She hissed at me when I tried to move her somewhere else.

The only soul I found awake was Plato, at his post, high atop the Dauphine. He quacked a greeting as I stomped up the stairs, pulling a jacket on to ward off the cold and snow.

"Yo." I stood beside him, peering at the rising sun. "You're awake, right?"


"How about your rat? How's he doin'?"

Plato shook his head at that. He reached into a pouch at his side and pulled out the rat by its tail. It snorted out a tiny yawn as it dangled in Plato's fingers, then went back to sleep.

"Yeah, I'm gettin' that a lot today." I scratched my head. "This is really weird. By now I should've had Fynn begging me to wrestle with him at least twice. But he's still asleep with his mom."

Plato held a hand above his head, straining on his toes.

"Ahh, he's still a baby, no matter how tall he is. He can stay with us a little while longer." 

Plato shrugged.

I eyed Plato, remembering his shenanigans at the border. "You didn't do this, did you? Not pullin' any more hijacking business?"

An indignant, fearful shake of the head. 

"Yeah, I guess that would be pretty stupid." I tried to inject menace into my voice, but I knew Plato wasn't up to anything. "You... hrm. You stay up here for now, 'kay? Lemme know if you start to doze off. I'm gonna... try... to wake people up. I guess."

And I tried. Lords did I try. And to no avail! Though they seem otherwise healthy, the crew of the Dauphine is caught in a day-long coma. I hope it's only a day long. I have no explanation as to why this is happening, and I fear something beyond my sight is at work.

Why do I fear that? 

Because something beyond my sight is ALWAYS at work when this shit goes down. Always.

This place is really boring when it's this quiet,

Dragomir the Wanderer

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day Six-Twenty-One: Grunt Work


That didn't work.

I'd hoped bringing Logan and his father together would create a dialogue between the two. A chance for kid and papa to open up, air their grievances, and hopefully reconcile. And, in fairness, Logan did some airing... though hearing that he wanted me as a father over Jeffrey is not what I'd had in mind. 

Didn't help that Jeffrey clammed up almost completely, and spent the next half hour looking as though he wanted to pitch himself into the tide of walruses cascading past our rock. Improving though he is, that dude doesn't know how to talk to his son.

"Give them time to solve their woes," Edmund offered, wiping the sweat from his brow. "A third party just increases foes."

"I guess." I tugged hard on a lever. "I feel bad for the dude, you know? He's so friggin' nice now. Always helping out, actin' all contrite... he did a lot in the past, but you gotta leave the past in the past. That's what I always say."

Ed didn't comment, but I watched his eyes roll as he picked grime out of a gear.

"What? What'd I say? I saw that, spoony bard."

Edmund feigned shock. "Say not thou spoony! 'tis an insult most grave. / I thought you not a man of such wild deprave."

"Well, don't you insult me. I don't dwell on the past at all." I paused to pick some oil out of my nose. How it got there I've no idea. "Do I?"

"Those who write in diaries / Should not make such inquiries."

"Thanks for not being vague, Ed."

"Can it!" This from my lovely wife. She approached from behind, a giant wrench bouncing against the palm of her hand. "We're behind schedule. Get back to work. I want this bucket moving before we get buried again. That fuckin' snow screwed up the wheels. We're already crawlin' at a third our normal speed, rhino or no rhino."

"Yes, dear." It was my turn to roll some eyes. "Can I have a break soon? I've been in Engineering for hours."


I sighed. It was true. Ed and I were torn from our regular duties to work in Engineering for the entire morning. The Dauphine's moving at a rather sluggish pace, no faster than a toad hitched to an overloaded wagon, and Libby's determined to bring her beloved transport back on track. Hence all the whip cracking. 

I waited for Libby to wander away before I continued the conversation in whispers. "I dunno, Ed. I probably should let 'em do their own thing, but I feel kinda responsible. When a man says he wants to be another man's son, and you're that man who is the man who would be the father, you gotta be a man about it, y'know?"

"If that be your grasp of the vernacular, / The notes in your work must read so spectacular."

"I can't talk to you about anything."

We toiled away for the remainder of our shift in silence, only breaking through the din of Engineering with the occasional curse word when we dropped a tool or got our hand caught in the wheel gears. I came no closer to solving my problem.

That's all for today. I'm tired as shit, but I keep getting calls about crew members feeling ill. Bora served some overcooked eel fondue for breakfast this morning, and I suspect it's the culprit. Gotta cater to the wounded and the weary. Maybe I can mull over this whole Logan / Jeffrey / me problem while I'm running around the Dauphine.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Twenty: No, I am your father


My name is Dragomir.

This is my diary. And I'm reclaiming it now, before someone else starts writing in it. Bloody freeloaders.

Logan's been so self-involved this week that I think we require a teensy recap of current events. After fleeing Trademore - and the Non and bounty hunters therein - we remained in hiding for a day and a half, the Dauphine continuing to idle beneath a thick blanket of snow. We partied over Logan's return, we watched the mysterious Nagi treat us all like crap, aaaaaand eventually we left. Once we saw an opening.

We've been travelling the entire week with little of note happening, besides a buttload of snow falling outside our transport. That didn't change 'til yesterday, when the walruses arrived.

Migrations are a little rarer in the Imperium than they were back home. Animals still move about out here, of course, but they seem more inclined to choose habitats and remain there. I find such behaviour radical and weird, but you have to adjust to the times. And they're not all stationary, given that, y'know, we were surrounded by walruses.

Ever since Logan came back - hell, before Logan came back - I've been contemplating the manner in which we should heal the breach between father and son. Logan and Jeffrey are two very different people, especially now that Jeffrey's reverting to a nerdy penitent, but they have one thing in common: they kinda suck at expressing how they really feel. I needed to find a situation in which they could open up to one another.

I hate to say it, but I eventually drew inspiration from my dad. Jeffrey and Logan would bond over a round of hunting.

I don't like hunting. I recognize the necessity of it, mainly because I love seeing a fresh, hot pile of beef and gravy on my plate, but I don't like it. It's barbaric. Necessarily barbaric. So necessarily barbaric that I encourage my hunters to do it, but I won't do it myself. I would starve to death if I had to kill anything on my own. Killing just ain't my bag. I would be scarred were I to kill anything.

Nevertheless, I figured getting out into nature with two good buds and hanging out in the cold while trying to kill something would be a peachy idea. Juuuust peachy. As far as expression of emotions goes... well, I was half right in the end.

Jeffrey's pretty good at waking up in the mornings, but Logan still sucks at early rising. I had to knock on his door a dozen times before he would even get up, and then it was just to tell me to get lost. Only got him out of there when his girlfriend (the snake tail conflicts me) kicked him out. Yes, yes, I know she's not really his girlfriend, but you have to tease young men. It's part of growing up.

We'd pulled far ahead of the walrus pack the day before, as they're pretty damned slow on land, and on the advice of my hunters we found a nice, big rock to sit on, spears in hand. And there we sat, in silence, for three hours, waiting for the migration to arrive.


Threeeeee hours.

It's amazing how those two can shy away from one another. Fear and loathing permeated our rock, and I was caught in the middle.

To my surprise, Logan broke the silence first. He sounded bored and annoyed. "So did you ever figure out why you can't hold a weapon, Dragomir?"

"Oh! Oh." I stared at the shaft of the spear, curled against my bicep. "Uh. Yeah. I, um, have a... thing. A red thing. In my... hands."

"A red thing."

"Yeah. It... it's... it's like a weapon. Already. So I guess my fingers... I guess my fingers figure that I don't need another weapon. Would be... like... overkill."

He picked at the snow at the base of our rock. "You have a red thing and it's a weapon and it keeps you from holding other weapons."

"Thaaaaat sums it up."

"... can I see it?"

"Nnnnnnno. I, uh, I dunno how to make it... go."

"Oh." He tapped the rock a few times. "What does it do?"

I scratched my head. "I... I don't really... know? I think it's bad if it hits things..."

"It's usually bad if a weapon hits things, Dragomir. That's the point." 

"Y... yeeeeep."


"Well..." I spat off the edge of the rock, hoping it would give me inspiration. Somehow, it did. "Well, hey, the last time it came out, at least in public, your dad saved me! Saved my life! It was pretty amazing."


"Yeah! He, he, he, um... he, um..."

"I shot Eve in the face with a cannonball," Jeffrey added quickly. He shut his mouth as though it'd betrayed him.

"You what?!"

"It's okay!" I blubbered, acutely aware of where this was heading. "It's fine! She's... she's fine! I think. I'm pretty sure. She doesn't, y'know, send letters or anything -"

"You shot my fiancee in the head with a cannonball?" Now Logan was on his feet, yelling and pointing at Jeffrey. "You're a psychopath! A lunatic! Hells, you were crazy enough for bethrothing me to an infant! She wasn't even a year old!"

Jeffrey cringed. "I... I... I... it seemed like a good idea... at the time..."

"YEP! AT THE TIME! EVERYTHING SEEMED LIKE A 'good idea' AT THE TIME!" Finger quotes flew like daggers. "You know what? You know what, 'dad'? YOU CAN TAKE YOUR TIME AND SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!"



"I didn't say anything!"



"... oh."

Broken out of the moment, we three turned. A sea of walruses looked back at us from all sides. Their jowly whiskers twitched in disapproval of the ruckus, and their sizable muscles - much bigger than I'd remembered, gods are they huge! - rolled threateningly.

I slowly pulled Logan back onto the rock. "Easy, now. Don't provoke 'em."

"Don't provoke 'em?" He hissed back. "I thought we were gonna hunt these mofos."

"Yeah, well, that one ate your spear. And your dad's." Which was true.

"He's not my dad. I'm fucking disowning him. He's an idiot."

"Doesn't change the fact that it ate your spear." I scrambled back as a walrus nipped at my heels. It snorted at me and continued shuffling past the rock, the pack on the move again.

"I... I think this was a bad idea," Jeffrey mumbled. He'd not provided much of substance to the conversation, and this tidbit didn't help. "Really bad."

"Everything about you is a bad idea." Logan spat out 'bad' as though it was staining his vocal chords. "I wish DRAGOMIR'd been my dad instead."

My name caught the attention of more than just a small knot of walruses that was passing by. All three of us, yes, including Logan, seemed shocked at the admission. The boy with a man's face rocked backward, eyes wide, then shook his head and glared at the sky.

I checked Jeffrey. I figured he'd be on the verge of tears. Instead... hell. He looked as though he's expected as much.

The walruses parted. Eventually. We didn't bag a single one. I guess I'm not surprised. 

I have three kids. Now another one wants to be adopted into my fucked-up family.

Thaaaaaat's just great.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Nineteen: Broody prince is broody

Sigh. Why did I agree?

Everyone on the Dauphine has a job. I figured that out on the first day. No one's tried to foist a job onto me, not just yet, but I know they're itching to put me on duty. Nagi, too, but she's still too aloof to let it happen. Probably milking this free ride for all it's worth 'til we reach another town and she can disappear.

I didn't feel like waiting for a job to come to me, so this morning I voluntarily took up guard duty after Plato finished his shift. They call it 'watch' duty, mind, but I prefer thinking of myself as a guard.

Why? Because it's a job with value. It has worth. A guard's a guy you can trust to watch your back, and when you're a guard you feel the weight of the responsibility. You know your role. More, you make a demonstrable difference in people's lives. If you spot and stop a would-be murderer from killing an innocent bystander, you know who you saved. You're on the front lines, so to speak.

I like being on the front lines. Where the action is. Sitting in the back? On a throne? That job's shit, man. Get your hands dirty.

I can't say that I was getting my hands dirty when Dragomir found me on the observation deck of the Dauphine, considering they were clad in big, woolen mittens, but the metaphor stands.

"Howdy, Logan." He patted me on the back as he pulled his hat down over his ears. "Thanks for helpin' out. Appreciate it."

"Yeah, no sweat." I tossed him a two finger salute, but kept my eyes on the rolling countryside. Snow, snow, everywhere you look, from lowest glen to highest peak.

"Nice, isn't it?" He leaned up against the edge of the deck, inspecting the Dauphine's sails. "The weather, I mean. Pretty nice out. Not too cold."

"Stay out here for a few minutes, your opinion'll change." I pointed at the frozen boogers on my upper lip. "I need a thaw, pronto. This is gross."

"You've been up here a while. Can take a break, if you want."

I considered it. Going downstairs would mean entering Command. Entering Command would mean seeing my mom... and probably my dad.

"Nah. Not yet." I sighed and grabbed my blowgun from the frozen deck, using it as a mock spyglass. "All I see is white, cap'n. Might be we've strayed into the clouds. Consider firing your navigator."

"Can't. I'm pretty sure he delivered my boy. It'd be impolite of me."

"Oh yeah? Weird." I fidgeted. "So why's he black? Fynn, I mean."

Dragomir covered his eyes. "Haven't a clue, kid. Not a damned clue. Stopped askin' that a while ago."

"Ooookay." This is where I made my fatal mistake. "Must be rough. Father of three. Dunno how you get by, Drag."

"Yeah... yeah. Bein' a father's tough." He straightened, trying to catch my eye. "Real tough. Maybe tougher than a son would know. 'specially when the son won't even talk to the father. Yeah?"

The temptation to smack Dragomir in the face with a snowball flared. A snowball as a starter. I permitted a growl to percolate at the back of my throat. "Don't start with that. Just don't."

"I gotta, Logan. He asked me to."

I whirled around, furious. "He asked you to? The hell kind of spineless -"

To my surprise, Dragomir wasn't cowed by my princely aura. Sometime in the last two years he must've grown a pair of balls, because he stood up straight and jabbed a finger against my breastplate. "He asked me to talk to you because you keep avoiding him. He'd love to chat, but it's tough to catch up with a brat who can run faster than a gazelle. Don't think I've forgotten that crazy battle ya had with my daughter two years back. I know what you can do, Logan, 'n I know that you can avoid anyone you like. Your dad included."

I pulled away, cheeks red, staring moodily over the edge of the Dauphine. "Oh. Yeah. I guess that was a thing. My 'bride to be'. Great times those were."

Taking a breath, Dragomir draped an arm over my shoulder. "Look, Logan. He just wants you to give him a chance. Hell, he'd like you to express yourself. That's all. You can do that, can't ya? To his face?"

I pushed the arm away. "I can do whatever I want."

"So you can, then."

"... if I feel like it."

"Do you?"


"Ain't no answer there, son."

"Oh, shut up."

We argued an hour longer, though the heat left the conversation after a few minutes. Eventually, eventually, Dragomir convinced me to accompany him 'n my dad on a little hunting trip tomorrow. Just three guys, the open wilderness, and... uh... something. I can't remember what Dragomir said we'd be hunting, and I've no doubt the real reason to do it is...


Bonding. Ugh.

Yay. Killing animals with my bloodthirsty, self-loathing father. Sounds like a grand time.

I can't believe I agreed.


Logan the Thief

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Eighteen: Slappity Slap, Don't Talk Back

My mom slaps hard. You wouldn't think so, but she totally does. My cheek is still stinging. wtf.

I spent most of Monday and Tuesday avoiding mom's tree. She's been busy carefully steering us away from Trademore anyway - don't want the Imperium's troops to catch on to an enormous, moving pile of snow - but she's not been busy enough to note my absence. Hell, she is outright pestering my sister to drag me to mumsy's side.

Like I've said before, it's tough to say no to Celine. She's kind of a freak. With... ninja escorts. I'm faster than one or two of them at a time, but all... uh... however many there are? Sadly not. So, yeah, today I was forced to visit.

The first thing ex-Queen Daena did was slap me. And hug me. And cry. Not the first time this has happened in the past week.

"Why are you avoiding me?" she blubbered, tears rolling strategically down her cheeks. "Why, Logan? I've missed you so much!"

"Yeah, I missed you too, ma." I patted her on the back. "I'm, uh, sorry. Again. Really. Sorry."

"You don't sound so sorry." She sniffed and pushed me away a few steps, watery eyes turning cold. "You sound like you want to be out of here as quickly as you can manage. Do you have any idea how long we looked for you, Logan? How many places we searched in that rickety old Matriach? Gods, the trouble we endured..."

"I bet." I shuffled my feet, looking bashful. "I... had issues. Needed to work 'em out."

My mother scanned me for a moment. The only sound she made came from the thump, thump, thump of her legs, forever in motion. You'd think after so many years I'd be accustomed to my mother being embedded in a tree - hell, I was born from this tree - but, nope. Just too weird. Her analytic gaze, coupled by the inate weirdness of her situation, forced me into legitimate foot shuffling. Discomfort and all that.

"I remember that." She brushed the last of her tears away. Seemed almost casual about it. "That look. Whenever you or your kangaroo did something wrong, that was the look. Full cheeks, little rosy pricks under the eyes...  I bet you practiced it all the time. Didn't you?"

Even more discomfort. "Uhhhhh... maybe. You... you know I wanted to be an actor."

"You wanted to be something different every day of the week." A sly smile split through some of the coldness. "When you were growing up, you wanted so badly to be king. When you first met The Baron, may he rot, you wanted to be a bureaucrat. When you got the kangaroo -"

"Just so you know, it was a werewolf, ma."

"I know it was a werewolf, but you wanted to be a kangaroo." She shook her head. "And when you met Dragomir, you wanted to be a guard. I thought that was adorable. You're even dressing a bit like him these days! Or the way he used to look, anyway. I like the pants."

I heard a faint scuffling from somewhere behind us. Dragomir himself, of course, no doubt grinning like an idiot. He can't keep his nose out of other people's business.

"They're comfy." I dug my hands into the pockets. "Much better than that stuff you guys used to make me wear."

"Ah, ah, that was your father. I wasn't around to dress you up. It's difficult to enforce clothing when you're attached to a tree."

"But you would've decked me out in finery. Admit it."

"Well, yes, obviously. You were a prince." Her smile remained, but the edges of her eyes tugged downward half an inch. "One of the few things you never wanted to be."

I felt like a little boy again. It hasn't been that long since I was two feet shorter and curly-haired, mind, but... 

"And now," she continued, a few moments later, "you're a... thief. Logan the Thief. Mr. L, I hear. That's... so wonderful, Logan. I couldn't be prouder."

Each word, a jab at my pride. I puffed out my chest, scratching at the stubble on my face. "Yeah. I am. So what? Everybody has to earn a living somehow. That's how I do it. And I'm good at it. Helluva lot better stealing things than I ever was at being a prince. At least it's something I enjoy."

Mom could've broken down crying again. She could have cited my 'moral obligations', or told me I was a profound disappointment, or threatened to have me arrested. By whom? I dunno. Imperium officials, maybe, or, hell, Dragomir. I guess he's kinda in charge of security on this tub. What she ultimately chose to say, though, cut me to my very soul.

"It's so nice to see you taking after your father." Her tone was light, conversational, and biting. "He was deluded, too. Perhaps ethical bankruptcy grows along with facial hair in our family."

That was the hardest slap of all. I haven't spoken to her since.

I want off this thing. Right now. Why the hell does it have to be snowing so hard outside?


Logan the Thief

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Seventeen: Hey girl

"Why did you leave?"

Because I was unhappy.

"Why didn't you tell anyone?"

Because they would have stopped me.

"Where have you been all this time?"


"How's it feel being all grown up?"

Better than being small. 

"Are you going to stick around?"

I'll think about it.

"Can I have my diary back?"

Maybe next week.

No, I haven't seen him. That's for the best. Stop looking for the guy. He's a catastrophe.

"Is your partner a lesbian?"

... I'll get back to you on that.

Actually, no. Wait. Maybe I'll address it right now.

Once I'd been caught up on current and not-so-current events, I fit right in with the crew. Was a bit uncomfortable, maybe, given that I'm not sure if I wanna stick around, but I know these people. I remember most of them from back home. Shared laughs with 'em, gave 'em ridiculous commands, played pranks on 'em... I'm surprised they don't hold it all against me. I was quite the bratty prince.

(Promoted from a brat to a thief. What progress I've made.)

Nagi lacks these bonds. She knows Plato, and his rat, and... me. That's all. Wasn't exactly best buds with Plato, either, 'cause she hated Traveller, and they hung out all the time. She's just some stranger who wandered onto the Dauphine one day, and she's not going to great pains to fit in.

Nagi's an odd duck. She's pretty much what I want to be: free. She has no ties she'll speak of, no home to go back to, no affiliations with any groups. She cons, she collects her due, she moves on. The first time we met she was trying to con me. Turns out I was just good enough at the game to be a partner rather than a target. I suspect, once she gets bored of me, that she'll take off without a word.

I can respect freedom like that. I've tried to emulate her. A shame that's seemingly gone down the tubes now.

Back to my point, though. Nagi's not treating these folks like potential friends. They're... I dunno. Pedestrians. Complete strangers to be ignored. Marks, even. Target practice. I'm not sure I appreciate that. Already made her return at least three  coin pouches people didn't know were missing. Stealing from strangers, yeah, but folks you know? Hrm.

The only exception seems to be Bora, which brings us back to the lesbian thing. When we were, uh, 'traveling' with Traveller, he hit on her all the time. It wasn't a full day without Traveller expressing his undying love for her. (Or any woman. He is horndog supreme, that man. Good thing he doesn't use his ungodly strength to enforce his affections.) Nagi couldn't have been less interested in him, and indeed, she spent every waking hour trying to fight him off.

I can understand that, of course. Traveller was a smelly lunatic. Nice, cheery man, but a lunatic. But... he wasn't the only male she turned down. During cons she turned on the charm, yeah, but after? Disinterest. In the time we spent together, Nagi's rebuffed the advances of:

- Several dozen peasants, human and snake person alike
- Three Weekendists
- An assortment of guards who hadn't seen her wanted poster
- A guard captain
- A rich merchant (I robbed him blind while he was trying to woo her)
- A boxer (Good ol' Antonio, wonder how he's doing)
- Me (She's pretty attractive, y'know...)
- And at least five giggolos (We hang out in a lot of bars in our line of work)

This in and of itself is not evidence of lesbianism. No, it requires evidence of Nagi actively hitting on women, and I've seen some of that. Not much, but some.

Such as, you know, Bora. The bartender. She doesn't feel quite right to me, but Nagi? Nagi spends most of her time in the Neo Beefiary, absorbed in flirtatious conversation with Bora. Waves off anybody who tries to ask Bora for food or drink, too, as if the barmaid's her personal property. Kinda makes you wonder.

So, yeah. She might be a lesbian. I'm thinking so. Wish that wasn't the only question people would ask me about her, but there you are. Sex is a thing to adults. I've learned as much.



All this might be a way of deflecting discussion about more serious topics. Like friends. Or parents. Moms and dads, you know.


This is only Tuesday?

Man. Maybe I should give the diary back to Dragomir. I don't know if I wanna discuss three more days of emotional turmoil. There's too much to say.


Logan the Thief

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Sixteen: Long time, no write




It's been a while, diary. Does he still call you 'diary'? I always thought that was adorable. And maybe a little gay. But he's married, so, hell, he can't be gay. Not manly. Right? I'd be surprised if Dragomir even knows what 'gay' is. Probably figures it's a fruit.

Which... it kind of is? Ha ha, wordplay.

Anyway. Hello! It's Logan! I'm back! Sort of! Maybe for a little while! I haven't really decided. Hadn't planned on rejoining everyone, but they had to go and get in heaps of shit... sigh.

Looks like that brown-skinned chick (pretty hawt!) explained the week from her perspective. Now that I've stolen Dragomir's diary, perhaps I'll have a go at my side of the story.

Nagi and I - that's my partner, the formidable Ms. N - have spent the last... oh... ten months? Eleven? Plundering. We steal stuff. I know, I know, I should find a more eloquent way to put that, given I'm a former prince and all, but it's true. We steal stuff! We run scams, we sucker suckers, we nab anything that isn't nailed down and sell it to the highest bidder. I have more money than should be legally allowable stuffed into my tiny coin purse.

Seriously. There's thousands of gold in the thing. It should be bursting at the seams. The physics of this world boggle.

We got word of an enormous, roaming transport maybe three months ago, and I knew at once it was Libertine's work. Under The Baron's influence or not, I recognized back home that she was a mechanical genius the moment she carted out the Matriarch. Doesn't surprise me at all that she's put together a rolling town in the Dauphine. My gods, it's beautiful.

Did I ever wanna see it? No. No I did not. If I'd wanted to see the Dauphine, I would have tracked it down earlier. I would not have run off in the first place. Life on the road has been great; returning to my family... my dad... was not on my priority list. So when I first spotted my kid sister roaming Trademore, I decided to skip town. Immediately, pronto, tout suite. Get the hell OUTTA there.

That's when Dragomir got caught. Best friend, snagged by bounty hunters. You don't run out on that, you know? You just don't. I owe that dude a lot, if only 'cause he treated me like a normal person. I owed him.

Despite Nagi's protests - girl's even more selfish than I am - we tracked down my sis, rejoiced briefly at the reunion, and settled on a plan. Hunt down the hunters, spring the captives, and part ways again. Celine wasn't happy at the prospect of me running off with a strange half-snake person, but she agreed to the idea. I'd help her and she wouldn't tell a soul about it.

Yep. Good plan. Solid.

'cept there was a hitch. We also needed to spring my dad. Imprisoned, because he looks like me. Celine insisted that she couldn't do it alone. I know better - she can do whatever the hell she puts her mind to - but dammit all, she insisted. So when I broke into dad's cell on Thursday, he fucking saw me.

The shame. Oh my lords, the shame in his eyes. I felt so miserably justified.

Mom would've killed me had she known I'd run off again. She would find me and run me over with her ride. I didn't have a damned choice. Friggin' Celine, she knew exactly how to bring me back into the fold.

Soooo... yeah. Nagi and I led everyone out of Trademore, and... now... we're on the Dauphine. The pair of us have a cabin 'n everything.

People are throwing parties.

Grylock insists I drink with him, now that I'm old enough. 

Edmund - I barely know the guy! - keeps asking if I've 'tapped' Nagi. She's not a keg, for pity's sake.

Dragomir is absolutely, positively overjoyed at my return.

Dad can barely look me in the face.

Mom... mom slapped me. And hugged me. And kissed me. And cried.

There are so many emotions floating around... I can't leave. Last time I took off, I did it on a perfectly mundane day, knowing it wouldn't cause me any emotional scarring. This time... now... I can't.



Time to get caught up. Everyone's slinging stories at me 'bout the past two years so quickly that I can hardly keep up. Pubton... the witch... Dragomir's son... a dude called Pagan... the Non... The Baron... it's too damned much. Toooooo damned much.

At least I know Plato already. That's something. Guess he really was looking for Dragomir.


Logan the Thief

Friday, January 17, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Fifteen: The Great Escape

I had an idea. 

Two ideas, really. One was a backup plan. A backup plan I really didn't want to use. So desperately did I not want to use it that I won't even mention what it was, and by the end of this entry you'll have forgotten that I even brought it up. Just watch.

I've taken great pains to mask my face since Libby's 'departure' yesterday. I can take care of myself against horny retards, but there's no point flaunting your looks in a crisis. Only adds to your troubles. Consequently, I had no trouble procuring a bottle of beer from the Bushmaster and leaving unnoticed.

The setup of our antagonists was pretty simple: they'd shacked up in the living room of an abandoned house. They must have figured that their reputations and sheer numbers would keep them safer than any other precautions, and I suppose they were right. When I checked in on the situation, Dragomir, Edmund and Grylock were just as tied up as the day before.

And, uh, so was Libby. She looked... unhappy. But healthier! I'll give her that, she looked a lot healthier.

Doc was still there when I first arrived at the window, but he and his bodyguards left pretty quickly. I waited a short while, and, after a quick card game, the bounty hunters had a nap. The purple goblin stood watch awhile.

I waited. And waited. And waited. 

No one noticed me.

Except Grylock. 

His nose snuffling, he very discretely peered towards the window when he knew no one was looking. I offered him a reassuring thumbs-up, wondering why the other goblin couldn't smell me. Stuffed nose? Who knows.

An hour passed. The goblin kicked at the old man, who was nursing an empty bottle even in his sleep.

"Hey. Get up, Wilhelm. I wanna sleep."

Hobo Wilhelm II - a grand name for a man who wears a box on his head - grunted himself awake. "Let us sleep, Chewtoy, that's a lad. Got a drink?"

Chewtoy booted Wilhelm even harder. "It's your shift, idiot. I'm tired'a starin' at a doorway. You're up for two hours."

"Nooo!" Wilhelm mimed tears. "Can we have a fresh drink, eh? A snifter would do us just fine, lad, a snifter -"

Chewtoy grabbed the empty bottle from Wilhelm's hands and hurled it out the window, nearly beaning me. "No! Do your fuckin' job sober for once! By the gods and their holy pooters, why do we keep you around -"


Hobo and goblin alike peered around at Umbro, their leader. He was sprawled across an old, creaky bed, his angry eyes peering out at them from under the brim of his hat. They both nodded, and that was that.

I know drunks. I've spent a lot of time around drunks. A drunk without a drink is surly, antsy, and open to relief. So when Hobo Wilhelm II stepped out of the house half an hour later, fidgeting and staring in the direction of the Bushmaster, I stepped out of the alley beside him.

"Hey, mister." I flashed my best smile, whispering. "Care for a cold... er, lukewarm, one?"

Wilhelm spun around, quite clumsily, and gawked at me. "Missus! Pure, angelic missus! Is that a pint for us?"

I held my finger up again, urging quiet. "Not quite a pint, sir, but a fair chug the same. Don't talk too loudly, yes? Your boss won't like to hear you've been at it again."

Anyone else would've grown immediately suspicious. Fortunately, I'd long ago pegged this man for an alcohol-obsessed idiot. He nodded, whispered 'shhhhhhh', and shuffled forward to accept the beer. The last I saw of him he was flopped against a wall, sipping away at sweet relief. 

The guard out of the way, I stepped quietly into the house, scanning to make sure the bounty hunters were all asleep. I did not anticipate what I found.

In the short time I'd spent coaxing Hobo Wilhelm II away from the door, two other people had slipped into the house ahead of me. They were kneeling beside Dragomir and company, daggers out, cutting away ropes. I recognized one by sight, and the other... the other largely by inference and reputation.

The next bit is all my fault. I was an idiot. I couldn't help myself, because for some reason, I felt cheated. Planting hands on hips, I yelled "Hey, this is my rescue!"

Prince Logan, aka Mr. L, peered around at me with wide eyes. He looked much older than I'd heard, his rounded, boyish face now that of a young man and covered in stubble. He pressed a gloved finger to his lips, cursing me with a death glare.

Too late. The damage was done. Chewtoy, curled in a ball on the floor, stirred. "Wh... what the...?"

Celine, Logan's partner in all this, swept forward and stomped hard on Chewtoy's mouth. Rather than quelling his speech, though, this made him scream, awakening Umbro and the big orc. The fight was on.

The results of it were largely a blur to me. Chewtoy was out for the count, but Umbro seemingly made up for the deficit by hauling out a sword and flinging himself at Logan. Logan slid away, ripping the last of Grylock's bonds in the process. Freed, Grylock tumbled between Umbro's legs and scrambled up onto his back. At some point he'd grabbed his poisonheart sword from the junk in the room, and he tried to stab Umbro. The orc plucked Grylock off of Umbro before the fatal blow landed.

Then a ninja flew out of nowhere and kicked the orc in the face, and, uh, I figured it was time to go.

I ran from the house. Dragomir and Edmund followed. Libby lingered a moment more to deliver an uppercut to Umbro, then joined us. Celine slipped out in her wake, and Logan came last, a grinning goblin riding on his shoulders. They high-fived as we regrouped, and once we were all together we dashed towards the marketplace, two irate bounty hunters on our heels.

We ran. And, remarkably, most of us laughed. I howled as I dashed past Doc, his back to us, arguing with a vendor over... something. Who gives a shit what it was. His enforcers saw us; they did nothing. I love having enemies whose lackeys are disobedient.

I led the pack blindly through the streets, not knowing where I was going, not even particularly caring. That moment... it was so free. So fun. Sure, the glory may have been stolen away from me by a brother and sister combo, but so what? It was exhilarating. And it carried on that way until someone caught me by the arm and pulled me towards an alley.

Shrieking as I skidded to a halt, I stared stupidly into a face I only vaguely recognized from a wanted poster. "Zuh? Let go? No! Let go! That's a statement!"

The face - young, female, half-covered in purple hair - laughed. "Okay? Better slow down, White. The cavalry's here."

I paused as the rest of the group caught up behind me, nearly tumbling into my back. Dragomir was shouting at me to GO, GO, HURRY THE HELL UP, but instead I said "White? I'm brown, not white."

The woman giggled and pointed at my hair. "I like it. Sexy. Nicely cut, too. Kinda jealous."

"Bet there's a better time for this." I looked down at her feet. She didn't have any. "Oh, hey. You're half snake."

"Yeah, I noticed that a while ago."


The half-woman slithered out of the way and beckoned me into a building. "After you. I'll watch your back."

I'm pretty sure she was hitting on me. I think that was a thing.

So, yeah. Thanks to the indomitable Mr. & Ms. LN, we've escaped Trademore. They sped us through some hidden corridors, ones never found by the pursuing bounty hunters, and took us outside the walls of Trademore, to an outcropping of rocks that masked a door. Jeffrey was there waiting for us, because I guess Logan saving him was also a thing.

They shared a silent moment. It was filled with regret and loathing. You can guess which side covered which emotion. Nevertheless, they're both coming home with us, and Nagi is, too. Uninvited, but, hell, the more the merrier.

Friends. Yes, we have friends indeed.


Bora the Bartender

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Fourteen: It gets worse

"I am goin' in there and you can't fuckin' stop me, bitch."

"Will you listen to yourself? You're losing it. Do that and our chance to save 'em is ruined."

"I do not fucking care. He's telling me not to but I HAVE TO. Get OUT OF MY WAY."

That was the last conversation I had with Libby before she decked me in the face and jumped through a window.

Let me backtrack. Surely this requires some explanation.

After the revelation that the Non were in Trademore's black market, Libby and I searched for their hideaway. It didn't take us long to find Doc and his entourage - following him is like following the sun in the sky, he's so damned obvious - but it took him a while to decide to stop.

Doc is one restless fuckhead. He wandered the alleys for at least four hours today, bickering with damned near everyone he came across. He seems to do it for sport, usually to the point of unnerving even the most hardened of criminals. I'm sure he would've been shanked long ago on his own, but his hulking bodyguards protect him at every turn. I kept hoping that Titan Blue would step on him or something, but, nope. She puts up with his rampant ego.

Though Doc was operating under the guise of a 'rich man' visiting the black market, he's such a loudmouth that he more or less spelled out his plans: he wants to dissect someone. Probably Dragomir. He thinks there's something fantastic residing in Dragomir's body, and he wants to know what it is. But he can't do a proper dissection until he's back in his lab, wherever that might be. So he's been window shopping in the meantime, looking for more 'inventive' tools to rip our fearless leader apart.

You can imagine the effect this had on Libby. Doc is disturbingly specific, and every time he mentioned plucking out Dragomir's blonde hair or 'inspecting' the scar on his belly I held Libby back. Her restraint is admirable...

... but worrying. She doesn't look right. She's... jittery. Tense. Something's wrong with her. Her face is ashen, there are bags under her eyes, and she's constantly shuddering, as though she's fighting something. I want to say she's sick, but other than her looks she seems healthy enough... didn't have any trouble walloping a dude who tried to steal my coin pouch...

Doc gave up shopping eventually, and we followed him back to a house in the east end of the black market. (I think it's the east end. Direction is sketchy down here.) There, peering through a window, we spotted three familiar (and glum) faces, all trussed up and pathetic. 

Also, surrounded by bounty hunters.

"Hellooooooo, my pretty pretty." Doc waved at his captives from the door, tearing bandages away from his face to reveal sharpened teeth. "Did you have a good day? Yes? No? Maybe? I hope so. I'm so, so, so sorry for the delay, yes, but we'll be off soon. Oh yes. Did you have fun?"

Dragomir, his mouth gagged, rolled his eyes and spat on the floor. Or, uh, he tried. The spit simply formed a little wet spot on his gag. Beside him, Edmund and Grylock silently laughed.

The big penguin, the one who beat up Libby last week, swatted bard and goblin alike. "Quiet. Quieter. Pay?"

Prancing over to the group of bounty hunters - a purple goblin, a beefy orc with shaggy hair, and an old human with a box on his head - Doc shook his head. "No, no no no no! I keep telling you, Umbro, my chap! We pay when we can leave, and not a second later! It's not as if you can leave, either, now is it?"

Umbro sneered. "Busy. Waste of time."

"Oh, you're getting paid for this overtime, don't you worry. Doooon't you worry." Doc hopped onto Dragomir's lap and tapped his chin so hard that it drew a tiny bit of blood. "Any more trouble with the, er, um, ah, locals?"

The old man nodded and cackled. "Weee hee! Nearly got in, they did! Tried ta bribe ol' Wilhelm, 'ere, they did! Pulled out th'drink, they did!"

"Worked, too." The goblin, who appeared to be missing one of his ears, grabbed an empty bottle near the old man's feet. "Fucking idiot let a little girl in whilst the rest 'o us were nappin'. I had ta chase her off."

"She broughts us a drink, lad!" The old man smiled with broken teeth, lifting a bottle of gin to his beard. "Hobo Wilhem II willna t'ever be called a man who refuses a drink!"

The orc looked tough and said nothing. 

"Still here," Umbro concluded. "Money. Pay up. Too much trouble."

"Soon, soon!" Doc continued to fondle Dragomir's head, pinching his cheeks and tapping his throat. "Ahhh, what a specimen. Worth every cent. Been tracking you a while, I have... my little pet kept an eye on you..."

Doc continued to rant while Umbro demanded his payment. I imagine their words were important, but I was distracted. Libby had captured my attention.

"I'm goin' in," she muttered, doffing her cloak.

Hissing, I pulled her away from the window we'd been watching through and shoved my face in her ear. "No. Don't you dare. They're stuck for now, okay? So long as that army's up there, they're stuck. We wait for an opportunity. I have an idea -"

"I am goin' in there and you can't fuckin' stop me, bitch."

I stopped. Couldn't help it. I was too preoccupied with studying my partner. The confused intensity in Libby's face fascinated me, formed of bulging veins and sad eyebrows. She was crying in her fury. She knew it was a terrible idea, but she couldn't help it. 

I put a hand on her shoulder. "Will you listen to yourself? You're losing it. Do that and our chance to save 'em is ruined."

She pushed my hand aside as though it was burning her shoulder. "I do not fucking care. He's telling me not to but I HAVE TO. Get OUT OF MY WAY."

I did the opposite. As she lunged towards the window I tried to step in front of her, despite knowing that her yelling had given us away. She punched me in the face, sent me sprawling, and dashed through the window. Moments later she was caught, pinned by a fat penguin and his cronies.

I'm by myself, back in our alley. My only defense is a dagger.

This is... troubling.

Despite the predicament I'm in, I'm forced to wonder about Libby. She's a... passionate... woman. She seems the type to fight rather than flee. This, then, begs a question: why did she leave Dragomir's side in the first place? It was a good idea, yes, but not in her character.


Why'd she do it?

And why'd she give up on good sense now, of all times?

Ah, well. This is all moot. We're kinda screwed.


Bora the Bartender

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Thirteen: Murderousness

Shit. Things have become complicated. Very complicated.

With Libby's leg pretty much mended and our plan well underway, we set out this morning to infiltrate Trademore's black market. The entrance we'd coaxed out of Dodger the previous day was right where we'd left it, and as we approached the rear of the bar a gruff-looking lad with greenish skin was stepping out of the trapdoor beside the trash bin. He regarded us warily.

"You cops?" he asked. Stupid question.

"We look like cops?" Libby rolled her eyes. "Outta the way. We're goin' down."

"Oh. Yeah." He moved aside. "Uh, I think there's... a password... I have to ask you for...?"

I shook my head and whistled a brief showtune, the only one I knew.

"Yeah, that'll do, I guess." He scratched his head. "Hey, though, you guys might not wanna go down there right now."

Libby, already halfway into the trapdoor, ignored him. I grabbed her shoulder before she could disappear. "Why not?"

"Rough folk down there." He scratched his head again. Too much dandruff fell out. "Real rough."

"Well, fuckin' duh, it's full of criminals." Libby yanked away from me. "'course it's rough."

"Yeah, but... extra rough, see?" He swallowed. "Some big shot is down there, lookin' at the stalls. Weird little guy. Won't stop talkin'. Has two huge body guards. Like, really huge. Seen 'em beat up a few fellas who tried to get too close already. S'why I'm ditchin' the place."

"Huh." Libby faltered, ever so slightly. "One of them a penguin? Big guy with a hat and a sword? Pigtail things for hair?"

The lad shivered. "Nooo, that's Umbro. Everybody knows Umbro. He ain't one of 'em. You stay away from Umbro 'less ya got business with him. The bodyguards're covered in bandages. No clue whether they're penuins or orcs or, hell, could be fatass sloths for all I know. Best ya steer away, ladies."

I went cold. A suspicion began forming in my mind. "We'll keep that in mind. Thanks."

He tried to invite us back to 'his place', surely a filthy rat warren of some description, but we ignored him. Libby seemed a little uneasy; I was quite uneasy. I didn't say why, though, because I feared Libby might charge right into battle if I voiced my fears. All I did was admonish Libby to 'stick to the plan'. 

The passage from the Sidewinder to the Bushmaster was long, poorly-lit, and cramped. Despite the entrance leading straight underground the actual path took us through a dozen cellars, basements and abandoned homes, some manned and some not. None of the occupants of these trash-filled rooms paid us any notice, and we took pains not to ask any questions. That led to some backtracking -

- but, after an hour of struggling our way through the guts of Trademore, we emerged in an alley. Beside us was a door leading into a room full of drunken merriment and drawn daggers. We'd arrived.

Sticking to the shadows - which is pretty common down here, I think - we made our way through the 'streets' of the black market and found the market itself. As Libby described, it's essentially a huge collection of underground alleyways filled with seedy-looking merchants. Banned weapons, narcotics, slaves, children's toys, you can buy anything in this place.

Most of the customers kept quiet. Most of the customers kept to themselves. Most of the customers are not all of the customers. One had a very big mouth, and he was exactly whom I'd feared discovering in the deep dark. We heard him before we saw him, and I IDed his voice immediately. He came into the pub back home too often for my liking.

"This is trash, yes, yes!" The sound of something flung against a wall. "Don't you have anything of use? A scalpel? A rusty hook? Something with which I may tear, and rend, and operate? I will need these things, yes, I need investigatory devices of the meanest order. Your wares are useless! THIS PLACE IS BORING! WHERE ARE ALL THE POINTY BITS!"

"Errrr... I sell baskets, um, m'lord. You might want to try down the street."

"Do not presume to tell the mighty DOC what to do, you low brigand! You foolish fool of a fool's goat! TITAN BLUE, GUT HIM!"

I peeked around the corner of a stall. Down the street, standing in front of a stall full of baskets (illegal baskets), tottered three distinct silhouettes. Two towered glumly around a third which skittered about crazily on the floor, shaking its sharpened fingers in the air.

"No," answered one of the bodyguards. Titan Blue. She looked very uncomfortable in the narrow passage, despite somehow being nearly half of her normal height. "Stop acting like a brat. You're making a scene."

"YOU'RE MAKING A SCENE! Blah, blah, blah, blah!" Doc picked up a basket and hurled it into another stall. "Do you know how aggrieved I am?! My timetable is RUINED! I should be home by now! I should be dissecting by now! Instead... instead I'm bargaining with fools -"

"Not their fault you used your fast track," Titan Blue replied. "Will you hush? You've already got the guy. Stop freaking out. We're having enough trouble without -"

I didn't hear any more. I was too busy holding Libby back. She was trying to rush at them. She clearly came to the same conclusion I did.

After calming her down, we retreated. Found a back alley that wasn't currently in use and discussed the situation. It seems pretty clear-cut: Doc, the guy... Non, says Libby... who snuck into Pubton previously, is here. He's trying to - or already has - captured Dragomir. The chances are pretty good that he hired the bounty hunters. For some reason, though, they can't leave town.

I'll bet on the army outside being a big reason for that.

Libby and I have taken shelter for the night in the same alley where we first stopped. There's a delightful dirty mattress to sleep on, and we're taking watch shifts to make sure nobody stops by and robs us blind. I keep thinking of how nice my room at the inn is, especially considering how we've already paid for it and all.

But Libby won't leave the black market. And if I try to take off, she's going to charge into the fray solo. Can't let her do that. This twitchy-ass woman is going to be the death of me.

Goddammit. Can't things be simple with this crew? Just once?


Bora the Bartender

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day Six-Hundred-Twelve: Dat lust

See, woman? See? Playing the flirtation card does help on occasion. 

As I said yesterday, a black market such as the one beneath Trademore does not have a single entrance through which all traffic flows. It is not a water jug. That would be too suspicious. It's a gardening can, with dozens of small holes and hide-aways that lead to a single, central location. Traffic comes through in trickles. Trickles are easier to hide than large streams. Bribed officials can more easily ignore trickles.

We managed to track down another of those trickles today. Thanks to me.

Libby's brilliant. Okay? I admit it. Putting together something like the Dauphine with minimal outside engineering help is a hell of a feat. I admire the bitch for her technical prowess, as well as her innate toughness. But - and I say this with the utmost sincerity and goodwill! - Libby's about as subtle as a rampaging bull on hallucinogenic drugs. She doesn't do subtle.

I do. I do subtle.

Libby's plan was to recuperate, return to the Dauphine to fetch her Hypermole boring machine, and smash her way into the main entrance of the black market. As you may be able to tell, that ain't one bit fuckin' subtle.

I somehow convinced her not to follow through. It was some combination of ailing limbs and the Imperium army on Trademore's doorstep that ultimately held Libby back. She detested me for it, though, and when I went looking in my own way, she insisted on coming. As if to punish me for daring to make sense.

Grylock and Edmund tracked down the black market in the first place, and from what I'd overheard they got the location from a shady fella in a bar called the Sidewinder. You can imagine the clientele in such a place, though, fortunately, the dude we were looking for was not a snake person. Thank god, 'cause what I used on him probably wouldn't have worked otherwise.  

We entered the Sidewinder wearing very specific outfits. Libby was completely enshrouded in a cloak meant to show off the size of her muscles and naught else; I bought myself a skimpy little number that I'll leave mostly to the imagination. I looked pretty hot, though, and every guy in the Sidewinder knew it.

Or, er, the non snake people did, anyway. Snakes are notorious for not giving a damn about humans in that way. We don't fit into their sexual niche, I guess.

We scanned the bar as the bar scanned me in return. It was a dingey hole, as predicted, and most of the booths were shrouded in darkness. Fortunately, the guys I'd hoped to attract leaned out of their nooks to get a better look, and I quickly pinpointed the guy I wanted: short, stubby, ugly-looking, and leering like a mofo. Heart on his sleeve.

"That one," I said, pointing as I waved to everyone else. The catcalls came fast and furious as I passed through the Sidewinder. Pretty gross ones, you can imagine, but Libby's presence kept wandering hands at bay. 

"Why him?" she whispered as gruffly as she could. We wanted everyone to think she was a man. 

"He's the desperate type," I repled. "If he gave up info to them, he'll give up even more t'me."

"How do you know it's him, though? Could be any of these idiots."

"Trust me, it's him."

"But how in the hell do you -"

"Trust me."

"As if I'll ever do that." Libby shook her head. 

Ignoring her, I slid into the booth beside the man, smiling brightly at him. His eyes flicked from me - hungry, happy, gullible - to Libby. He seemed quite wary of her hulking presence as she leaned moodily against his booth. "Hellooooo beautiful. What, ah, what can 'ol Dodger do for ya, eh?"

I moved in a little closer, sliding my arm against his. He shivered. What a chump. "Just some info, ah, Dodger. I hear you're good for that."

"Maybe." He coughed a little. "Info's always got a price, tho. A... negotiable... price."

"I'm sure." I turned towards him. instant effect. His eyes wandered. "You were talkin' to a pair of guys last week. Human and goblin. Remember them?"

"Oh, uh, yeah, I think so." Dodger's fingers twitched on the tabletop. "Think so. One of 'em kept rhymin' like an idiot. They, uh, paid me some solid... gold... for some info..."

"Yep. That's them." I leaned in a little closer. Slight, small motions to keep him entranced. I wanted his eyes on a very specific spot, and he didn't disappoint me. "We want the same thing you told them. Only, ah, we want to know of a different point of... entry. One a little more private. Get my meaning?"

He did. The literal meaning and the blatant innuendo. "Gotcha... well... see, the thing 'bout them guys..."

I looped a hand around his shoulder, rubbing his neck. You wouldn't believe the shivers that sparked. "Yeeeees...?"

"See, I'm guessin'..." He swallowed, looking at Libby for the barest second. "I'm guessin' you're hunters. Like the guys I was workin' with. They were lookin' for those guys too. Them 'n onea their associates. And, uh, well..."

"And you sold them out?" I leaned so close that I was whispering into Dodger's ear. His flesh goosepimpled. "How else would those hunters've known where to be, eh? How else?"

"Y... yeah..." Dodger's smile grew huge and dopey. "Yeah. Pretty smart, eh?"

"Yes." I let the world travel hot and heavy against his neck. "Very smart. So smart that now you have to deal with us. So smart that now you're gonna tell us what we wanna know for free, or the blood in your body's gonna be rushing somewhere different than where it is now. Real fast."

Dodger frowned. The lust of the moment faded enough that I think he realized the heat of my presence was somewhat offset... by the cold edge of a knife against his throat. A knife I'd been holding there for at least a minute as I rubbed his neck. His shivers turned from excitement to fright.

"You're a worm," I explained. "And worms know secret places. They know how to wriggle in the dark. You're gonna teach my friend 'n I how to wriggle, Dodger. For free. Hell, you're going to give back the money our chums gave you last week. In exchange, I'll let you keep your life."

His jaw quivered.

I flashed him my brightest, happiest smile. "Whaddya say?"

Five minutes later, we had all the info (and gold) we needed. Dodger revealed that there's a route through the Sidewinder itself - specifically, by the garbage cans out back - that will take interested parties to a similar pub in the black market. One appropriately named the Bushmaster.

Once we were done with him, we quietly led Dodger back to the inn, knocked him out, and tied him up in a closet. The innkeeper has instructions to 'discover' Dodger sometime on Thursday, and to set him free. He also has a nice heap of gold to see the job through without alerting the authorities.

Once we'd disposed of Dodger, Libby removed her cloak and shook her head. "I thought you were gonna sleep with the guy. Figured for certain."

I laughed. "You kiddin'? He smelled like rotten cheese. I don't sleep with cheese. Too messy. Hard to dig it outta your bits. We sluts have some standards."

I think I earned myself the tiniest bit of respect with that line. Just a tiny bit.


Bora the Bartender