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Royesland [Full]

Dice System


probably from space

He frowned at her then moved further down the shelves, and pulled out several more case files and putting them back quickly, his frown ever deepening. Her turned and showed her the cover of one in his hand with a year almost a hundred in the past and pointed at it angrily.
"The data does not agree, Nicola."
This was perhaps the first time he had acted like the Tom she knew, in both body language and disposition, since they had arrived in Port of Pearls.


life's too short, so spread the love!
She stared at him, her heart sinking. "I don't… I don't know, Tom. I'm so sorry."

It wasn't unheard of for a really good capital-w Wizard to live a few hundred years, if they managed to keep outwitting any challengers to their position and not have too big an experiment backfire in their face. Could Tom, their dumb, brilliant Tom, really be over one hundred years old?

That's so much life to forget, Nicola thought.

For once her empathy triumphed over her mouth as it occurred to her that might not be the best thing for him to hear right now. He finally seemed more like the Tom she knew but this was not how she'd wanted to bring him back. Nicola hugged the file she'd been reading to her chest, finger tucked in the place she'd left off, filled with regret for not getting to know the people she called friends very well at all. "I'm sorry," she said again in a very small voice.


probably from space

"Thanks ..." He said then "....Man," with all the disapointment and inflection of a west coast stoner who's just realize his bikes been stolen. He was just ging to have to read it all, get an idea of what he'd done. He had sort of put together an idea of what his life was based on how long jackie said they'd been kicking around in the Kingdom of Peaches, and based on the town folks opinion of him. He had apprenticed here, he had been born here and assumed he'd given up a quiet country aprenticship to go to war- but no. Apparently he was OLD and busy. And this infuriated him. Tom was not the most emotive man so mostly he looked like he could smell something unsavory as he continued to flip through book after book, looking for the first one. And then he pulled out one written in a different hand- "Hey Nicola- This guy was probably smarter than me, Maybe check these ones all in red down on the bottom?"


life's too short, so spread the love!
"...Sure?" As reluctant as she was to ever deal with emotions, that Tom more or less dropped the subject worried her even more. He seemed upset, though it's not like anything she could do would really help anyway. Nicola shuffled her weight from one foot to the other awkwardly. "Well… if you want to- I dunno, talk about it? I guess? I'm… here for you."

Nailed it.

Nicola's cheeks flushed and she cracked the file she'd been holding open once more. "And also I will definitely look at those in just a sec, but I think I might be onto something here!" She brought it over to him, pointing to a few lines. "See, look. Seems our old friend Tuesday likes to use basically the same intangibility curse Xanthielex dropped on Jackie for anyone who tries stealing from his court. And apparently it's a semi-regular occurrence: this case is within the last year- er, or so." Nicola balked, again uncertain of the date.

"Uh, but anyway, this happens enough-" She shoved the file at Tom, going to grab a tome from where she'd been sitting on the floor. Nicola leafed through it, a grin spreading across her face. "-That you have a potion all done up and ready to go for it!"

Triumphantly she held up the recipe for a potion that was several ingredients long. "We'll have to search around to find all this stuff of course, some of it's kinda rare. But if it's something you made on the regular, I'm sure you've got sources for them around someplace."

There was nothing Nicola loved more than a good puzzle, and while the stakes were high, that made solving it ever more satisfying. She was positively beaming as she held the list of ingredients up where Jackie could see it too. "I knew if we came up here we'd find good info! Handwriting notwithstanding, I could just about kiss you for keeping such good records, Tom."

She did not kiss him, however, going instead back to her spot on the floor where she started copying the potion recipe from his spellbook into her own journal. A few ingredients in, though, she paused, squinting again at the page. She mouthed a few words to herself, trying to discern what he'd scrawled there.

"'One blossom of a moss orchid'," she finally read aloud. Nicola looked up at her friends, bewildered. "I think. I think that's what it says. But I have no idea what the hell a 'moss orchid' is."
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life's too short, so spread the love!
A warm spring wind picked up around Molly as she crossed the bridge to the other side of the fjord, surrounding her with the scent of wild blossoms. She smiled and stretched; she loved the feeling of wind on her face, tangling her already-messy hair. Few things make me feel as alive as this, she thought.

Everybody else was out doing things this morning, even Tuesday, so she had decided to go exploring. Molly hadn't built the nerve up to try busking in Port of Pearls again just yet, and anyway it didn't feel quite appropriate what with the town focused on sorting the exploded fountain and settling the rat-men in. She still carried her guitar case on her back, partially out of habit but partially so she could perhaps find a quiet place to work on some music.

Her instincts had told her to keep the giant pearl Tuesday stole (repossessed?) from the wizard's tower on her at all times. But she'd decided she needed to stop being so damn suspicious of everyone all the time, and so had shoved it into the bottom of her bag and pushed it under the bed at the inn. They're all too busy to worry about it, she told herself; and nobody should need it for awhile, anyway, with the various and sundry curses placed on Cathal, Tuesday, and the others.

If she felt bad for Cathal before, she truly felt worse now. His lover finally returned after so long away at war, and he didn't even remember he'd had a boyfriend, much less recognize the big ginger cat (although Tom did seem rather attached to the cat, which Molly thought was a good sign). It just figured that he came back so quickly after Molly and Cathal got in touch with him, only to then be cursed himself.

But it couldn't be helped. Her newfound sister had taken her advice to heart and was out trying to find solutions. Molly was already proud of her, glancing up at the wizard's tower in the distance as she passed it. In a way her wandering was looking for solutions, too. Tuesday had told her he'd be fine, not to worry about him, and seemed to be semi-adjusted to his present fate. But thinking back to their conversation at the waterfall, she was pretty sure he hadn't explicitly asked her not to get more involved...

It was going on a week now that she'd known him and his friend Truffle still hadn't put in an appearance. Molly was concerned something may have happened to stop her from coming to rescue Tuesday as he was so certain she would. She wasn't stupid enough to walk directly into the faerie woods (she hadn't survived this long traversing the wilds of Royesland on luck alone), but figured it was probably a long shot to encounter anyone or anything dangerous if she just walked around the edge of the woods.

This was what had set Molly on her present course. She slowed briefly, adjusting her guitar on her back. If it came up, she was in her own way armed. It also wouldn't be too bad to barter perhaps one song for answers if the opportunity arose. Her repertoire included perhaps a hundred songs, maybe even more. One was a very small sacrifice in order to help Tuesday. On top of that it was a beautiful day in Port of Pearls, and it would be foolish to waste it moping around town instead of seeing some of the area's stunning natural surroundings.

The trees were full of birdsong this morning. Grinning to herself, Molly wondered what they were gossiping about. It was too bad she couldn't know, as perhaps they were discussing the very information she was looking for. A pair of juncos chased one another around, zipping past over her head. It must be very wonderful to be able to fly, she thought. The freedom of a traveling musician was one she was sure many humans dreamed of. But it couldn't match these little birds, speeding to the top of a tall evergreen faster than she could blink.

Ah! As they often did, a song came into her head suddenly. It was serendipitous that a fallen tree came into view at that moment too. Hefting the guitar case around, Molly was soon comfortably cross-legged on the log, guitar in lap, finding the right key. Once she had it, she started to daydream.

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kawaii in the streets, senpai in the sheets
”I-I-” Lockette stutters - she stutters - through her thoughts, feeling a sharp stab of panic. She could insult Riley's intelligence and play dumb, but in the silence that stretches after Riley's words, she knows that option has flow out the window. Despite what should be a shock - she's a woman with bonafide reptile scales, shock would be reasonable - but Riley's tone is even and maybe even self-conscious, which is absurd, considering that it's Lockette that has the deformities. Removing her gloves and tucking them into her back pocket, she feels along her arm, feeling under her sleeve where her skin ends and the scales begin, and feels her stomach sink. She didn't realize a new patch had started, and now, Riley knew. Or at least knew she was a freak of nature.

It's quiet, Riley working diligently and Lockette absently covering the patch of scales with her hand, until Lockette says, "If like attracts like, then maybe that's why you showed up again."


kawaii in the streets, senpai in the sheets

Lockette huffs a chuckle, the replies, "Can't say I asked specifically, but maybe the fae decided to take mercy on the blind hermit living in their backyard. It's... yeah." Lockette rubs the back of her neck, cheeks suspiciously red where the burns don't reach, "You're nice to have around."


kawaii in the streets, senpai in the sheets

Throughout the whole search for answer's through Tom's tower, Jackie stayed uncharacteristically quiet. For the past couple of days, eighty percent of the time she tried to touch anyone or anything, her hands passed through it, and it was driving her a little insane. A little? A lot. It constantly felt as if she were hallucinating the object she intended to touch, and it disconnected her from reality so much that she often felt she was robbed of her words. She was useless without her hands. She could barely fucking read if it wasn't simplified writings. She wasn't smart or magical, as Tom and Nicola were, and even cursed Nicola could walk circles around Jackie with her knowledge, and Finn had his hands even if his feet were absolutely cursed content she hated to see. Without her hands, she had nothing to offer.

Nicola and, on occasion, the amnesiac Tom that didn't have the good sense to make fun of her over this, were kind enough to feed her when she couldn't touch cutlery. Which was almost as humiliating as shoving her entire face into a plate. Almost.

When Tom asks about his own age, Jackie, having given up on helping the search on the tenth occasion her fingers slipped through the tomes of the library, speaks from her perch in a large, worn leather chair, "You told me once that you were close to one hundred and forty years old. Dunno if that's accurate, because there was a lot of cocaine involved in that conversation. Wouldn't be surprised if you were, though. I hope that helps. Or maybe it doesn't. But yeah. Sorry, hombre."

Nicola pipes up with having found something, so Jackie unwinds herself from her seat to approach. She peers over Nicola's shoulder, but the words swim over the page in complete, incomprehensible squiggles, so she resigns to propping her head up on Nicola's shoulder until Nicola explains the potion recipe that she's located. Jackie feels a small glimmer of hope that she could hold something in her hands again, but tempers it down when Nicola mentions she's never heard of some of the ingredients. Jackie purses her lips, then offers flopping her arms over Nicola's shoulders and slouching on the smaller woman, "There might be an alchemist in town that could help us out."


life's too short, so spread the love!
"One hundred and forty?" Nicola echoed in disbelief. "Good night!" She gave Tom a once-over, thinking how other spellcasters she'd known who were around that age usually looked like… well, adults. Not too-thin, could possibly still pass for college-age assholes who did a lot of cocaine with their best friends. And then Nicola rolled her eyes. Actually, lots of spellcasters probably did a lot of cocaine.

She hadn't even registered Jackie's head on her shoulder until her arms followed, and she could blessedly actually feel the weight of the other woman resting against her. Needless to say Nicola's face heated up, becoming a practically fluorescent shade of pink. She resisted leaning too much back into Jackie's embrace, ruining the moment by A) reading more into it than she should or worse, B) putting too much pressure on Jackie's briefly corporeal frame and passing right through her.

"Um, yes, absolutely! You are absolutely right, Jackie. Very, uh, very good point, there's sure to be an alchemist in town," she stammered. "Yes. Shouldn't be too hard to get someone to point us in their direction, and they'll surely know about all the local plant life, and, er, it'll be great! Good- um, good point. I'm glad you thought of that." Nicola clamped her mouth shut to avoid further stupidity leaking out.

She forced herself to start thinking academically again. While she wanted to run back down to the Port and find an alchemist right now immediately, this potion would still likely take some time to put together. The day was still young: it would probably be better if they kept researching for awhile, tried to find more answers for the others.

Maybe we can have Jackie and Finn back to normal the day after tomorrow, she thought with relief. It had been so painful these past few days, her friends present but just not themselves. Tom for obvious reasons, having no idea who he was. But Jackie had been so uncharacteristically quiet, and while he could still glare daggers through things, Nicola actually missed Finn's sarcastic drawl too. "Okay," she decided. "This is fucking awesome progress, you guys. Thank you for your help. I think I'd like to keep looking awhile longer, see if we can find anything to sort poor Finn out. And then we'll go find an alchemist." Some of the color faded from her face, replaced by that hopeful smile again.
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Cloud-based Magitek Compendium

Remembers his expense and comes to a cat's defense

The Silver Prawn was surprisingly bustling at this hour. Pol said his hellos to fellow regulars as he meandered towards the bar and its current tender, the Innkeeper who, much like when they first met, wore a bemused expression.

Herbert Hearthson reminded Apollo of his tab. Pies weren't as expensive as the alcohol he

Stars, he needed a drink. Through some device, he ended up with a neat little snifter of mead.

"Not after the pies again, then?" Herbert Hearthson asked, placing the glass on the bar.

Apollo shook his head. He drained nearly half the amber liquid, remembered that it wasn't exactly budget booze, and eased most of it back into the glass.

"I need to speak to a shipwright. Does this town have any? If not, perhaps a carpenter?"

Herbert tipped his head thoughtfully.

"Lockette knows a great deal of woodworking. Practically built her own house on the outskirts."

Pol took a daintier sip, "Oh?! Might you know her whereabouts?"

"Haven't seen her about in some days. Reckon there has to be one fisherman at the docks who knows. Better run if you want to catch one today though, most of them have set sail by now."

"I suppose I ought to take this one to go, then," he quipped quick as lightning, pouring the mead into an empty flask from his robe sleeve and slipping out of his chair, "Thanks muchly, Herb. I'll pay down my tab...oh tomorrow I suppose. And also, expect to be bothered about the hand pies then. You're missing out on twice -no, thrice- the sales you could make if your pies grew legs!"

Apollo hoofed it out of the Inn down towards the docks, mind miraculously devoid of the fact there was a big, scary ocean near his destination. His slippers' soles slapped against the cobblestones. He couldn't hear the A sharp cry diverted his on-track quest.

He saw illustrious town cat, Lord Bath, fly a few feet into the air. Stopping just in time to avoid a collision, he fussed at the tomcat in his customary manner.

"What could send you soaring in such a manner, Milord?"

Pol whipped his head to and fro once he was quite certain Lord Bath had landed on his feet.

A certain former plate thief all but frolicked on the other side of the market boulevard. Pol did not care for his smugful face. Not one bit.

The wizardling squinted at the shoeless peasant pretender. A few strands of orange fur wedged between his bare toes. Evidence!


Apollo pointed accusingly at the notorious Tuesday, alleged King of Magpies.

"What cur would profit by kicking a town cat? Have you no better business?"


the once and future twink
While Pol was distracting Tuesday, Cathal leapt forward, sunk his teeth into the napkin still wrapped around the pearl, and yanked it as hard as he could around Pol's legs, putting the little illusionist between him and the man who was once a magpie. He didn't have to be faster than Tuesday anymore. He just had to make sure Pol was still in the way.

Flicking his tail in the air, he trotted away, faster than he'd like with the pearl, but not as fast as he'd like to properly escape from Tuesday.


life's too short, so spread the love!
Stepping out of Jackie's embrace rated in the top five most difficult things Nicola had ever done in her life, and she had supported the weight of an entire tower earlier this week. Maybe if we can get this curse of hers broken… maybe we can try that again later, she thought (needless to say at this point), still blushing.

Thus bolstered, Nicola's search continued. The red files belonged to Tom's old mentor, Port of Pearls' previous wizard. This was the kind of stuff Nicola expected when she pictured a capital-w Wizard. But, though clearly the notes were made by an older and more experienced wizard than Tom was now, she didn't think they’d actually been smarter than him. Nicola came off as rude because she spoke bluntly at times, but she was just as honest in doling out praise when she thought it deserved. So when she picked on Tom it was because his methods could be wildly unorthodox; it didn't mean he wasn't still really good at his job. And now, reading his professional notes, she could see he was extremely well-rounded with all orders of magic. I’d almost say he’s more of a fairy doctor than a Wizard at this point, she mused.

Fascinating as it was, though, the old wizard’s work likely wouldn’t have the information she wanted. “See, the essentials of magic haven’t changed, obviously,” she explained to Jackie (whether her friend was listening or not, she hadn’t actually noticed). “But the specifics of the region might have. I’m thinking, perhaps which plants grow in the area, and certainly what alchemists or apothecaries are in town. Possibly even which fae are operating nearby that enjoy putting tricks and curses on the locals.”

As she spoke she’d gone to shelve the red file, but in reaching down to the lower shelves the file of Tom’s tucked under her arm slipped from her grasp. It hit the floor, spilling open with a ruffle of pages. “Oh, son of a- dammit! Now I’ve lost my place.” Nicola grumbled to herself, shuffling the parchment back into some semblance of order until one page caught her eye.

“Hang on.” The page had a bit of jam in one corner, she now realized, and had stuck to another so she didn’t notice it on her first look through the file. It detailed a peculiar yet familiar case in which some poor sucker had been partially changed into a chicken (the partially being the eye-catching detail). Oof, she grimaced. The reasoning was vague; the guy had offended some fae or another and was cursed for his bad manners with, yes, chicken feet like Finn, but also a slightly horrifying description of a beak on a human face and feathers all over the body… with a shiver she skimmed on to find, to her great delight, references to some books up in his library somewhere. “Jackpot! Okay, I’m gonna go look for some books if you wanna come with!” Nicola was already halfway out the door before finishing her sentence.

At first it was difficult to not get distracted by some of the really good shit Tom had in the tower library. He was lucky that access to her enchanted pockets had been cut off or a few volumes may have disappeared into her robes. As it was, she ventured back to where she’d left the wizard himself with a stack in her arms which she dropped on the floor with a resounding thump.

“Hm, okay.” It wasn’t long before the thinking out loud began again. “So, I found a case where you mention this book specifically about fae turning people into animals-” she held up said book for reference, “-which is really well done, by the way, can I borrow this?” Nicola didn’t wait for an answer before continuing. “But the problem is, it ultimately says the best way to break these kinds of curses is to get a faerie to do it. And all the ones we know are a little short on magic at the moment, because of course they are.” It was just their luck, both the king of magpies and queen of cats were also presently afflicted. She was starting to think bad fortune was the only kind of fortune this crew had. “Looks like you sent this guy over to the priestesses at the shrine since their whole deal is with the goddess the fae tithe to, anyway. Although... there’s something…”

Scrawled in the margin was a note. She turned the book sideways, trying to read it. “‘Try the nymphs question mark? JK can’t swim’.” Nicola gave Tom a look that was half disparaging, half pitying. “...You don’t know how to swim? Thomas. Please. What am I going to do with you?” With a shake of her head, her thoughts returned to the puzzle at hand. “But that’s a few options to try out, I suppose. We can see what Finn thinks when we get back. Perhaps her royal purpleness will have an opinion on what would be best, too.”

A good few hours had already passed by this time, and though all things considered she’d come out with quite a bit in her searching, another couple passed as Nicola got more frustrated with what she was finding. Practically hissing under her breath, she snapped another book closed and rejoined the other two. “That miserable fucking faerie king stole Finn’s voice,” she spat by way of greeting. “At least, that’s most likely what happened. And we could’ve stolen it back, except he’s now a puddle of salamander squish under a pile of rubble in the Kingdom of Peaches.” With a heavy sigh, she pulled the ribbon out of her hair and ran her hands through it, massaging her head. “So the alternative then is to get Finn a new one, which I’m sure he’ll be just thrilled with. Did find instructions on how to fish lost voices out of seashells, which is a fascinating and hilarious prospect. If he finds one he likes he can keep it, and apparently we could actually sell other ones?”

Had the situation not been so close to home, she would’ve found this extremely amusing. It was also surprising what kinds of strange and unique magics she was learning about so far from the halls of academia where she’d gotten her training. Nicola had left Royes sure she knew nearly everything about magic, or at least everything worth knowing. Perhaps not being able to actually use it was humbling her. She was a scholar at heart, too, and truly pleased at how a day in the tower had already taught her more than she could’ve anticipated.

But now she was hungry, and tired. “I’m about ready to wrap it up. Collect anything you want to take with you, Tom, and we can get back to town?” Nicola briefly looked up from the various books and papers she was stuffing into a bag she’d found, meeting Jackie’s eyes with a grin. “Our next quest: to find an alchemist!”


Cloud-based Magitek Compendium

Gives 'em the ol' razzle dazzle

Lord Bath seemed rather grateful for his rescue. He wound himself around Pol's boots. His little mew was soooo kitten cute that Pol just had to reach down and give him a few scritches around the ears.

Tuesday called him a village idiot. Projecting much? And then, he made some sort of mad pointing gesture at the noble. Ugh. Pol hated when commoners made no sense. At least Lord Bath was a sensible creature.

Or so he thought. No sooner than Pol lifted his hand, the orange cat wobbled away, full of purpose. He wondered, in a vague, dreamlike sort of way, if Tuesday harrassed Lord Bath in the past. If so, the town cat's life wasn't quite as charmed as Apollo was led to believe.

Tuesday shouted at the retreating cat and looked at Pol as though he told Lord Bath to jog on. Seriously? He could no more control that cat than he could part the tides.

Pol realized that Tuesday wouldn't just keep shouting. He'd chase after Lord Bath. To do what? Kick him again? Something worse than a kick?

Apollo remembered all the ship's cats, from grumpy Yeoman Tots to stoic old Ser Relic, keeping him safe from the sneaky spiders, ruthless rats and harrying gulls. Occasionally weaving betwixt the legs of a sailor whose drunkenness got the better of his sense. Tolling like clocktower bells at every change of watch. They were goodly guardians and if they bit or scratched anyone, they usually deserved it. Was not this Lord Bath the same sort of guardian? Did he not deserve defence from a much larger foe? Standing up for the town cat wouldn't clear Pol's karmatic accounts, but it was a start.

Apollonius gathered the light, pulling and separating and shaping it as though it were the sweet-tart saltwater taffy of his home county. All light was his to command, he realized: sun and moon and stars. As long as it was illusory, and shaped in a way he could understand, it would listen to him. Funny, that. Since light doesn't have ears. Oh, but Tuesday has ears. Two in working condition, as a matter of fact.

Apollo could turn light into sound. His mind hooked on a memory: Qin rooftops, delicate footsteps, cool deep blue night, sparkling and crackling and screaming bursts of bright, beautiful colors. Awe and joy and smoke and shock. That last bit would make Tuesday think twice about chasing after Lord Bath. He wrapped the magic into the memory and closed his hand around it.

"I dab at thee, cat-kicker!"

Apollo made the slight of throwing ones arms asymmetrically at another, releasing the full seeming of a fireworks show in the face of his sometime nemesis.


the once and future twink
Behind him, Tuesday shrieked in agony, and Cathal was mildly concerned that Pol had actually murdered him, but not enough to stop. He kept running as fast as his paws would take him, until he got to the docks. He expected Sonia's boat to be gone for the day, and was surprised and delighted to find it instead docked. He hopped aboard and went off to find someplace small and cozy he could hide until the boat returned to the temple.


Cloud-based Magitek Compendium

Performs a disappearing act

In many countries, it was far from noble to cackle at the misfortune of others. Once he got over the sharpness of Tuesday's shrieking, however, Pol did exactly that and all but skipped down to the docks.


the once and future twink
Cathal McKay​
Cathal remained hidden in the boat until Sonia docked at the island, and then waited until the noises of docking and disembarking had quieted, before pulling the napkin full of pearl out of his hiding space and dragging it across the deck and to the temple. He slipped inside and brought it down the aisle of the temple, and the soft sound of the weight of the pearl pressing the cloth napkin to the smooth stone floor seemed impossibly loud as Cathal dragged it to the altar.

“You know, that was faster than I anticipated,” Said Kitty Mckay, the priestess of pearls to the cat in her temple.

Cathal shot her as dirty a look as he could muster, and kept dragging the pearl towards the altar.

“Do you want help with that or do you want to struggle?” She asks following him down the aisle.

Cathal stopped and frowned at her. “Are you going to? Help, I mean?”

“I have thumbs and I know how to use them,” She says wriggling her finger at him and then pointing at his bundle.

He sighed, and then decided at this point that rudeness could only hurt him. “I would appreciate help. Please.”

Kitty bent, picked up the napkin and the pearl inside with a smile. She strode to the alter and placed it there. Nothing particularly flashy happened.

“...When is something supposed to happen?” he asked, sitting at the base of the altar and looking up at Kitty.

Kitty scooped him up and walked him towards the front of the temple, “Oh I don’t know, If the goddess wills it,” she said and then dumped him unceremoniously out of her temple.

“Hey!” he complained, and stalked back inside, tail twitching irritably. He made his way back to the altar and jumped on top of it. It was incredibly cluttered, though handsomely so, with tall candles and little statues and offerings of carefully folded prayers and wine and flowers. Cathal settled in on top of it all, as if he were the largest and most absurd offering.

Kitty stood at the door and threw up her hands and left, she had better things to do than try to herd cats. At least the pearl had been returned.

Cathal had been expecting something to happen sooner. Or maybe he had just hoped so.

Maybe he should pray. It might help?

He was not terribly sure how one went about praying to the Goddess of Pearls. Which was embarrassing considering he’d been raised in the Port of Pearls. But then he had been raised by a witch, and they weren’t known for any sort of particular piety.

“Um. Hello?” he began. “I’m sorry, for keeping your pearl for so long. I understand why you’re upset with me. But if it’s not too much bother, I’d really like to be a person again. I have a lot of people who need me. Please?” He waited, but nothing happened other than smoke from an incense stick blew at his face, smelling strongly of roses and sea salt.

Cathal sighed and settled more comfortably on the altar, and fell asleep there before long.

He was curled in someone’s lap, his claws caught in soft white fabric that shimmered in tiny rainbows when the legs beneath it shifted. Someone stroked his head gently, and he purred, feeling sleepy and content.

“Thank you for bringing my pearl back,” a voice said, and though it was soft and sweet as honey Cathal was wide awake. “I have been missing it for quite some time. Though it’s the natural order of things for it to have certain other caretakers.”

She seemed, impossibly, awfully, to be waiting for an answer, so Cathal said, “You’re welcome,” in a small voice. And then, “I should have had Tom bring it back a long time ago.”

The Goddess laughed. “Oh, he did no harm with it. Nor did the Fairy King. As I said. Some other caretakers are natural.” She lifted him up, and he meowed in alarm as she turned him to face her.

She was somehow even paler than Quill, and she smiled at Cathal like she had never once been angry with him.

“I knew you would come to me eventually, though not like this,” she said.

“Um,” said Cathal. She only smiled wider. She had very even teeth.

She tapped his nose with one slender finger, and said, “You’ll figure it out.”

The priestesses were used to a great many strange things being left on the altar, but a naked man was a new one for them. Several of them shouted.

“Come on, little brother!” Kitty said. Cathal jolted awake, shouted in alarm, and promptly fell off the altar.

“In my defense,” he said, in a very small voice, as disturbed offerings rained down around him, “I had a lot of fur when I fell asleep there.” And then, in a slightly louder voice, “Could I maybe borrow a coat, or something?”


the once and future twink
Sonia was deeply perplexed to find Cathal sitting at the dock waiting for her, dressed like a priestess in a robe of seafoam and gold with long, flowing sleeves that would not stay rolled no matter how much Cathal tried, and his attempts at explaining that he'd been a cat did not seem to make her less confused, but she brought him back to the port anyway. Along the way he made plans for what he'd do when he got home, and then revised them, and then scrapped them all and started over, before finally settling on going home first, to the tower, to get his own clothes, and shoes (the priestesses had not given him any), and Tom's guitar, and then after that he would go and find Tom and...

Well. He'd figure that part out when he got there.

The priestess' robes had been designed for many things, but walking wasn't one of them. It was two layers, and inner gown of cloth of gold with closely fitting sleeves that had little mother of pearl buttons along the inside of the sleeves, and an outer robe of shimmering white fabric with a hood and gold embroidery, and more mother of pearl as the toggle buttons on the front. The outer robe had long sleeves that trailed to the floor, and though he could pull the skirts up to keep them out of the mud as he crossed the bridge the the tower, he couldn't keep the sleeves from getting muddy, as much as he tried.

He'd never been so happy to see home as when he stepped through the front door of the tower. He placed his hand on the door for a moment before stepping inside, and even though he'd been here, and been living there as a cat, it still felt like the first time he'd been home in a long time.

"I'm HOME!" he bellowed, for the tower's benefit, and then swung his arms wide, the muddy sleeves swinging in a very satisfying way. "Did you miss me?"

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