The Cutthroat’s Promise, Part Two

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”

The Cutthroat’s Promise, Part One

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 Soul of Skymoore, Part Two

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”

“We Will Weather the Storm”

“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””

Heart’s Desire, Epilogue

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”

Heart’s Desire, Part Seven

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”

Heart’s Desire, Part Six

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”

Heart’s Desire, Part Five

The First Bank of Skymoore, Also Called the Last Bank of Seamoore, Formerly Called the Second Bank of Seamoore was easily Skymoore’s longest building, with a walkway as wide as its name and a garden fit for royalty of a particularly decadent nature, containing more unique flowers in its expansive lawn than the bank had customers (and as it was Skymoore’s only legal bank outside the Mish Mash…it had many, many customers).

By the time Donovan and Hega neared its illustrious walkway, half a dozen guards were frantically trying to place a number of flimsy-looking sandbags to obstruct it, lacking both the manpower and the bag quantity to sufficiently stop an excited toddler, let alone a rampaging rodom. Hega told them as much. Continue reading “Heart’s Desire, Part Five”

Heart’s Desire, Part Four

As Donovan rung up pairs of size-changing shoes, mirrors that reflected the past, and lipstick that imbued the wearer with temporary omnilingual capabilities, Donovan’s mind was not on the present much at all. Physically he was on autopilot, engaging in polite conversation that he did not remember moments after they occurred, and ringing up products in memorized motions. He wondered how these things might change the lives of the purchasers, and how that might reflect in the magic labyrinth below. Would non-Skymoorians even impact the Soul? Were his theories about it even correct? Would these rash choices be worth it? Continue reading “Heart’s Desire, Part Four”

Heart’s Desire, Part Three

As panic properly took hold of Odd & Ends’ unaffected patrons, Malleus Silverscale positioned himself to protect those hiding in the Wonders of Solkin exhibit and ensure nobody got in or out of the back room. With Linda using her similarly powerful stature to block the front door, this left the exhausted Nestor Pinkly to jump into the fray to retrieve the brooch that was causing all the mayhem.

All around him noses were bloodied, customers were shoved, and merchandise was destroyed. Nestor blocked out all the horror and focused on the brooch as best he could – if only he could get that, he could end this. The troll at the center of the brawl was no match for the enchanted Karessa’s practiced second story work, and she claimed the brooch after a brief struggle. Now if Nestor could just manage a containment spell… Continue reading “Heart’s Desire, Part Three”