“It’s the darndest thing, Ms. Bottlehelm!” said Mayor Gendry Dew, several days after the Parazoa incident. “I just woke up like this the other day! Do you think this just happens to potted plant people when they turn 189 and twenty-seven days? I’ve never met another one!” He was positively pleased with his new legs, so pleased that he was hand delivering all the mail in Skymoore this week.
“You know, I really couldn’t say,” said Gwendolyn, doing her best to be patient as the mayor went on for the fifteenth consecutive minute about his legs. She was happy, at least, that he was happy, but her empathy only went so far. “I’m just wondering about the letter?”
“Right, of course!” said the mayor, “your letter! I had almost forgotten if I’m being honest. Now I do feel obligated to share that the letter has been opened by yours truly, as is policy for all incoming letters from outside Skymoore, and this one is positively sweet as pie.”
“Then you won’t mind if I hurry on to reading it, would you? Just one more question: how did you know I would be at Linda’s house?”
The mayor tipped his tiny hat. “Now that information I don’t feel obligated to share, madam. You have yourself a great one, now!” And he was off, pursued by his floating, spherical attendant who carried a Bottomless Baggie containing a city’s worth of mail.
Continue reading “Housesitting with Nestor, Epilogue”
Nestor Pinkly, Gwendolyn Bottlehelm, Mayor Gendry Dew, and the elf hiding under his desk were all very upset about the door being open. None of them really knew what to do about the door being open, nor did they feel qualified to do any of the things they guessed might be the correct course of action. The elf had been thinking about it the longest and was the most qualified to think about these things, so he got up and started walking toward it.
“Wait!” Nestor cried. “We should all go together!”
The elf, who had a nametag labeling him “Intern 47B,” did not wait. “Cease your shrill demands, gnome. I’m only going to close the door.”
“Er, is that a good idea,” asked Gwendolyn. “Shouldn’t we try to stop them?”
“Oh, are you going to do that, miss? What are you going to do, yell at some teenagers until they fight the devil for you? They and their bird friend just stormed in here and had everyone accusing each other of betrayal and blasting spells at each other within about three minutes.”
“Don’t call me ‘miss,’” said Gwendolyn, folding her arms defensively. “Why’d they leave you alone.”
Intern 47BB stiffened. “Probably because of my status as an intern.”
“Can we stop having a wounded-pride-off and worry about what’s going on here?” suggested Mayor Dew.
“Right!” said Nestor. “What is going on here, anyway? What’s back there?”
Continue reading “Housesitting with Nestor, Part Five”
Parazoa wasn’t all that bad, the more Nestor got to know them. Their form was scary, but some people said that about Dovetail, and they wouldn’t hurt a fly! As they passed the evenings talking about their lives, Nestor realized that the pair of them had much in common. They both grew up in Barlagtelen, for example, and they both spent a lot of their time on the road.
But while Nestor had the pleasure of dedicating his life to entertainment, Parazoa’s family committed themselves to the art of carpentry, traveling Penscarop and making coin where they could. When Parazoa was about forty, still quite young for a gnome, they had made a favorable reputation for themselves, and were tasked with building a firewatch tower in the woods to the east of Castle Belmov. It was a matter of great importance, because fire season was just starting, and the old tower had been destroyed by brigands. Parazoa thought the job was too risky, as they were already tired from a long time on the road, and they might get caught in a fire themselves if they weren’t careful.
Continue reading “Housesitting with Nestor, Part Four”
For the next week, Nestor and Gwendolyn watched Parazoa in shifts. Gwendolyn took the mornings, because Luminous met in the evening and Odd & Ends closed around the same time. Because of the devil’s proclivity for manipulation, they agreed that the fewer people who knew about this, the better. At the same time, seven days in, Gwendolyn expressed her frustrations about the fact that she didn’t know when Linda was returning.
“It’s bad enough my girlfriend walked out on me,” she grumbled, “but now I’ve got to waste all my bloody days watching this cretin for who knows how long!”
“Cretin?” Parazoa had asked. “I thought we were having a lovely conversation!”
Continue reading “Housesitting with Nestor, Part Three”
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”
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”
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”
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”