When hunting ghosts, there were a few things Nestor Pinkly liked to keep in mind.
First of all, ghosts were people, too, you know, and ‘hunting’ was a rather distasteful term, which is why he preferred to use the phrase ‘removing.’ Though make no mistake, the process did very much kill the ghost and rid the universe of its presence for all of time. No joining Sol, no going to the Infinite Hells, just gone. It was very brutal stuff.
Secondly, most ghosts were nice and just trying to have a conversation. Unfortunately, the ghost word for “hello” was similar to the corporeal action of throwing a vase or a valuable plate across the room, and it was easy to confuse the two. One time a ghost sank one of the great waterborne cities of the ancient minotaur empire of Grothal because it couldn’t remember the ethereal words for “excuse me, sir, which way to the nearest library?”
(Sometimes Nestor worried he may have confused the book “Clearly Communicating” with the book “Ethereally Communicating” since he read them on the same day, but he was pretty sure he had it right.)
Lastly, ghosts were just as afraid of you as you were of them – or did ghosts not know fear? As he stood outside of Linda Arterford’s house, preparing to remove a ghost, Nestor realized he knew very little about ghosts and was almost certainly the wrong man for the job. But he liked trying new things, so when Linda stood in the doorway, looking down at his ghost removal gear skeptically, Nestor flashed her a smile of confident reassurance.
Continue reading “Housesitting with Nestor, Part One”
Author’s Note: In the city of Skymoore, as you are likely aware, there is a neighborhood or perhaps a sub-city called The Mish Mash. In the neighborhood or perhaps the sub-city called The Mish Mash, as you likely are not aware, there is a sub-neighborhood or perhaps a regular neighborhood called Easel Street. As you are likely aware at least in part if not in entirety, there is a once-abandoned art museum in the sub-neighborhood or perhaps regular neighborhood called Easel Street. This once-abandoned museum is now occupied by Teyla Eastwind, and as you likely do not know, there is a secret basement in this museum which contains a portal to the Infinite Hells. Specifically the slice of those Infinite Hells reserved for Teyla.
This is all to say, when in the ensuing scene Teyla walks into the basement and something strange happens to the geometry of the museum, that the strange geometry is not the work of the museum’s builder or previous tenants, who are all perfectly fine people who have never created portals to the Infinite Hells. (Not that no perfectly fine person has ever made a portal to the Infinite Hells. Things happen, and life takes all of us to unexpected places.)
Continue reading “Housesitting with Nestor, Prologue”
When Roland awoke, his world was fuzzy. For a Far One, this meant that the world looked and felt the way a crowded store sounded; a meaningless cacophony of noise. Feelings powerful and weak blurred together to form an incomprehensible soup of raw emotion. It was like a ringing in one’s ear, but everywhere.
Gradually, things came into focus. He could separate feelings into things like impatience, anticipation, boredom, and fear. Eventually he could place the general direction of those emotions – boredom directly in front of him, fear and anticipation far to his left. After nearly a minute he could figure out how many people were around him – six – and which emotions belonged to whom. After that, it was only a moment before a clear picture of his environment formed in Roland’s mind.
Continue reading “The Cutthroat’s Promise, Part Three”
Skymoore’s government district was a maze of false fronts, twisting corridors, and shady organizations. Navigating it and finding something as simple as the post office’s administration department could be a weeklong affair, unless you were willing to pay the price. A few scales here, a piece of your soul there.
The powers that be realized, of course that this could be a problem for public relations. So, they created the government subdistrict, a gated community in the fancy part of Skymoore, where the aristocrats hid from the poor and any signs of those who suffered for their comfort. Roland had never been an especially political soul, but he knew when something was unfair. That the aristocrats could live in mansions while the Mish Mash could exist in squalor, ignored by all, well that would be a crime if the perpetrators weren’t the ones making the rules.
And that is to say nothing of the Shelter for the Unusually Homed. “Unusually homed” is what the powers that be called those who slept on the street, under bridges, and in old warehouses where the leftover Majicite dust caused irreparable damage to eyesight and structural integrity of all your favorite body parts. It was a terrible misnomer. The Minitoa who lived under Roland’s desk while they searched for a way back to their homeworlds were “unusually homed.” The former categories were victims of a societal illness upon which the government was content to place a band-aid. Continue reading “The Cutthroat’s Promise, Part Two”
It was a quiet day at Beyond Investigations. The pile of cases on Roland’s desk was empty as a church on Friday night. His office was still, save for the flickering of the lantern that hung just a bit too low in the center. Indeed, Roland was anticipating a slow day today, and that was just fine; you didn’t get a lot of days off as a set designer who moonlights as a private detective and sells baked goods on the side. It’s a hard life, but someone’s gotta do it.
Just as Roland gets up to call it quits for the day, in walks a dame whose every feature is like the night sky – dark, mysterious, but radiant all the same. Roland knows the look of trouble when he sees it, and sits right back down in his seat, ready to hear what she has to say, ready to accept whatever curveball she threw his way.
“Oh, hey Roland. Didn’t know this was your place.” Continue reading “The Cutthroat’s Promise, Part One”
The city of Skymoore was dark and snowy in the fortnight following Odd & Ends’ Heart’s Desire sale. Proper, natural snow that came from clouds rather than Aftermaj storms. Donovan typically took pleasure in observing the changing of Seasons, but the beginning of Winter was the last thing on the shop keep’s mind as the final Season of the year announced its presence.
The first thing on his mind, he was surprised to find, was that Hega had not bothered to check on him after their encounter at the bank. When he stopped by her home to make sure she was okay, she explained that she stopped by the day after, but Odd & Ends was full of people following up on the second day of their sale, and she didn’t get a chance to say hello. She cut their visit very short, as she was busy helping Jerun Pollin revise his security protocols. Continue reading “The Soul of Skymoore, Part Two”
“You’re really staying in Skymoore, Malleus?” asked Deyna dil Stillbreeze, a mountain elf whose dark skin looked purple beneath the night sky. “Couldn’t pay me to stick around there.”
“People were right,” agreed her twin brother Majorge, “that place isn’t of this world. Have you ever seen such catastrophe at a market in your life, sir?”
“That isn’t even to mention what happened at the bank! And the holes that open out of nowhere, and the complete lack of inns. Where will you even stay?”
Malleus Silverscale did not look concerned. His draconic eyes were fixed upon their campfire thoughtfully. He and his companions were hidden among a dip in the hills, but all around them, columns of smoke rose in the air as over a dozen separate camps settled in for the night, either planning to return to Skymoore the following day, or readying for the trek home. “There are always hospitable people, I’ve found. The peculiarities and dangers of which you speak are exactly why I’m staying; it’s true what you say, there’s something not right with Skymoore. I’ve grown fond of you over the course of journey, but I understand if you must go.” Continue reading ““We Will Weather the Storm””
When Donovan awoke, it was dark outside. The Pale Moon reflected its dim light upon western Skymoore, but it did little to alleviate the heavy cloak of night. Nestor Pinkly still slept soundly, holding his top hat like a child might hold a teddy bear, and murmured softly to himself about the high cost of pickle juice in the capital of Westergard. This could have been nonsense, or a memory from Nestor’s past on the surface, or maybe The Capital of Westergard was some kind of pickle juice bar in Skymoore with unreasonable prices. It was well and truly anybody’s guess.
It took a moment or two for the memories of the day to really settle in Donovan’s brain, and for him to separate dream from reality. As far as he could tell, it was all reality. It wasn’t often that the Suntouched had a day that stretched the limits of credibility, but it was happening more and more often in his forced retirement. Continue reading “Heart’s Desire, Epilogue”
It couldn’t have been fifteen minutes later that Donovan Allman awakened with a start. How could he have fallen asleep with the Cabal about to invade Odd & Ends? Donovan hadn’t quite assessed how time worked in the Soul, but it was still an awfully foolish thing to do.
The train was now in a tunnel, but it didn’t look like the part of the Soul he knew. The cave was too natural. When it pulled into a station, which seemed to lead further into this tunnel system, Donovan got out for a moment to assess the map of all the stops. A lot of them had meaningless smudges where the names ought to be, and empty space where the map ought to be, but it was still shaped approximately like Skymoore. The next stop would take him closer to Odd & Ends.
While he waited for his destination, Donovan took a quick stroll about the train. Like much of the Soul, it was a work in progress, but the basic shape of the thing was there. Naturally, a large entertainment car was the centerpiece, with a glittering silver stage in the center. Attached to that was a car full of unlocked dressing rooms. Feeling a little chilly after his swamp water mishap, Donovan pulled a green satin cloak around himself. It was one of the first new items of clothing he’d acquired in Skymoore, and the first new cloak he’d worn since Asylum gave him his old traveling cloak two decades ago. Continue reading “Heart’s Desire, Part Seven”
The first masked figure to reach them slashed at Donovan with a stained-glass claw, grazing the front of his tunic and leaving razor-thin tears. Donovan took a few steps back, and Hega barreled forward, slamming her shoulder into the figure’s knees and toppling them over. She smashed the glass claw beneath her foot, crushing the human hand beneath, and drew a heavy baton from her hip, daring the next attacker to come. And come they did.
Donovan hung back. He was certain now that everything going wrong with his day was the result of his curse interfering with his life yet again. He thought that by opposing the Cabal in this passive way, through the Heart’s Desire sale, he had found a loophole in the curse. But the rodom thieves and now this proved it; there was no loophole, there was only the curse.
Continue reading “Heart’s Desire, Part Six”