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”
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”
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”
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”