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23. Old friends, new enemies

The party find themselves in Celephais under the roof of the Implausible Geographic Society.  With two ways ahead, follow the Lang or heading to London 1890.  Now they discuss what to do next with the old and new friends of Noel Hagan and Maximillian Von Candlestick III.


“What I don’t understand is why you spend so much time and effort chasing down this herb?” Algernon was still talking to Maximillian when the others, their interrogations now complete, joined them in a makeshift study and workspace.  Maximilian had been a font of information for the young man who was willing to sit and listen to the bombastic but insightful lectures of the older man.

“You see, though for many, the herbal concoction are completely harmless, there is a small number of the population that, when taking the herb in sufficient quantities, will…well let’s say it’s not so harmless.”

“So, they disappear.  But, I understand that adults get the right to choose on Earth.”

“Ah, well that is true, and if it were just the small numbers affected then we may let it go as a bit of harmless fun. Unfortunately, the Lang, for reasons of their own, are encouraging the addition of other drugs into the mix.  We know for a fact that they are paying James Moriarty and his group to do just that.  We don’t know why or for what purpose, and that’s what we’re here to find out.”  Maximilian gesticulated, pointing out into thin air to accentuate his point.

This is seemed logical reasoning for tracking down the suppliers of the drugs to Algernon who nodded  quietly before asking another question, “Why do they use the drug?”

“Escapism mostly, “ Bruce entered into the conversation followed by Rain. “Some find the realities of life hard to bear.  They find comfort in these alternative lives.  Forget their troubles for a while.”

“Like alcohol.”

“Yes, alcohol can be…”

“Like television.”

“I guess…”

“Like roleplaying.”

“I wouldn’t know….”

Rain changed the subject.

“So there’s a native herb of the Dreamlands, is that Bywandine?”

“No, not strictly.” Maximilian continued, “Bywandine is a concoction of the variegated leaf of the Dreamlands and opium.  Then, for reasons of their own, another additive is being incorporated by the Lang.”

“Is it addictive?”  Algernon asked, now grasping the essence of the problem. 

“Opium is, “ Bruce replied, “In itself and for the effect it has.  And the problem with addiction is you cease to have a choice.  These suppliers become…puppeteers, controlling their…customers.  They are no longer free, but enslaved  by the drug.”

“Okay, so why don’t we tell the authorities on Earth.  Let them deal with it?”

“When it comes to the opium, we do.”  Maximilian said, “They are usually better equipt to chasing down the drugs on Earth.  When it comes to the more exotic ingredients, especially this new development, we find it more convenient to investigate ourselves.”

“I see, I think  I understand.”  Algernon finally said.

This led to a lull in the conversation as Peggy walked up, flushed with victory over her captive, “So, where are the stork and the Lorax?” She asked before spotting Maximillian.  Behind her, Noel sauntered and looked around the group, a well-natured smile on his face.  She took one look at him and turned away, her expression a confusion of anger and loss.  Noel’s smile dropped and he took a place beside Maximilian, across the room from Peggy.

“You know Algernon, “Peggy turned her attention to Algernon so suddenly, Algernon nearly jumped and ran, “I’ve just realised I have no idea why you’re here.  You didn’t understand the implication of the drugs on Earth, nor would you care.  What is your motivation, Algernon?”

Algernon just stared back through his shaggy black hair,  his eyes large and unknowing.

“What do you care about?”  She asked again, not to be put off.  


“There’s got to be more to life than survival.” Rain interjected before being hushed by Peggy.

“Is there anything you’d give up your survival for?”

“Not willingly,” Algenon admitted uncomfortably.

“Okay.”  Peggy was now warming up to the subject. Algernon had remained inscrutable as the day the group first met.  Usually, he found an excuse to leave or just ran away.  With neither option open to him, he had to face the questioning.

“What if it wasn’t your life at risk, but the quality of your life?  If Rain or Bruce were in danger, it would be a loss to you, wouldn’t it?”

Rain watched from the sidelines of the conversation, fascinated and uncomfortable forAlgernon at the same time.  At the mention of either Rain or Bruce being in danger, Bruce’s eyebrows raised in interest as he turned to also pay attention to Algernon’s response.  Algenon remained silent, seemingly unable to make sense of her question.

“Maybe something more general, “Bruce suggested, “How about the Trolley problem.  There’s a trolley out of control on a set of tracks leading to a switch.  If the trolley were to continue it would hit five people working, but on another connected line, there is only one person working.  Do you  let the tram roll through the five or do you use the switch and move the tram to the second track killing the one?”

“Ha, that’s easy you send it down the second line.  Unless of course, Noel is part of the group of five then let hell rain down on them, I say.” Peggy replied her fury bubbling to the surface.

“You seem bitter,”  Noel said unprepared for Peggy’s wrath.

“I seem bitter?  I lost the last ten years of my life and not a peep from you.  I thought I could trust you, I can’t believe how wrong I was.”

Noel and Maximillian made themselves scarce and watched over the captives.

“Yeah, I’m scary now,”  Peggy said low after the retreating geographer.

“Now,”  Algernon replied quietly so she didn’t hear.

Rain tried to forget Noel’s discomfort and steered the conversation back to the problem, “To the one.  There’s no way I could move five people alone, but one I could…I think…sure, I’d do whatever I could to save the one from the trolley.”

“I of course, “ Bruce added his own opinion, “have worked too long in industrial safety and see too many die and get hurt.  It is always what is safest for the majority that matters.”

The group turned to Algernon who looked completely unsure what to say next.

“Look, let me make it simple,” Peggy said when it was clear Algernon was not going to give an opinion, “Who would you save, me or Rain?”

At this Rain pulled Peggy aside a little and said, “ Are you so sure I’m higher in his estimations?”

“Of course, he seeks you out, you work on projects together.  Not once has he willingly joined me in my lab.”

“As if you’d want him there…”

“What does that matter…”

“Stop it, both of you, “ Bruce said and Peggy and Rain fell silent, “It’s like watching parents fighting.  He’s just a kid, he’s still working out this stuff.”

“Okay, forget it, Algernon, it’s not important.”  Rain sighed himself, “What is important is what we’re doing next, go to London 1890 or find a way to the Moon?”

“I want to go to the market.”  Algernon countered and Rain couldn’t help but smile.

“A good short term goal, I like it.”

All ethical discussion put on hold, the group informed Maximillian and Noel about shopping for cyphers and anything else of use.  Noel instantly offered Maximillian and himself to stay and look after the captives. 

“That’s very chivalrous of you, Noel, thank you.” Rain made a point of the gesture.  Peggy scowled and started walking out of the warehouse.  

“She seems…so bitter.  She’s not how I  remember. She use to be so full of vision and big ideas,” Noel said quietly when Peggy was out of earshot.

“I admit I find it hard imagining the Peggy you knew.  When we found her she was dressed in ugg boots and a homemade hazmat suit, paranoid about creatures from underground coming to get her.  You know, she set up a static blast mine beside her front door?  Wouldn’t let me help her with her invention for fear of what I’d do to it.”

Again, to the soft-hearted academic’s credit, his expression showed the utter grief that Rain’s words had,

“I had no idea.  I was told I couldn’t go back, that the world was better believing I was dead.”

“I don’t blame you.”  Rain comforted him, “but your absence did not help.  Besides, the old Peggy full of ideas is still there.  In that garage, out of scrounged and stolen parts she made a machine that connects to The Strange.  It’s how we came together, being pulled into a recursion by her machine.”

“I see she is a real asset to your group.”

“Truthfully, I think she’s the only reason I’m allowed into the Estate at all.”  Rain grinned sheepishly, “Look, just be your best self.  She can hold a grudge but not against common sense.”
“But she’s so angry…”

“She was this angry with us, not so long ago.” Rain laughed nervously, clearly remembering how close they’d come to losing her in the ruins of Sarkomand. “The magnitude of her anger is only an expression of how much you meant to her.  Give her time and she’ll remember the good as well.”

Back into the dusty bustling market streets of Celephais, the group split up.  Algernon and Rain (on Bruce’s insistence that the ‘…kid needed a chaperone…”) and Bruce and Peggy. As soon as it was convenient though, he split from her as well.

Algernon searched the stalls for things that spoke to him of The Strange.  There were silks and bright coloured fabrics, exotic animals and unusual foods, but nothing that could be a useful cypher for Algernon’s collection.  

“There’s nothing here.” Algernon finally admitted as Rain looked about at the buildings around them.

“Well, you know when I hit a dead-end, I look for a new perspective.”  He said pointing up to the rooftops.

“Alright,”  Algernon replied and followed Rain to one of the many alleys that lead from the markets.  Here Rain started a quick sprint, running up the wall a couple of metres before grabbing a terracotta guttering and throwing himself up another metre.  He was about to grab for another handhold when an invisible force pushed him up and he clattered onto the terracotta tiles, a child dumped by a parent’s strength.  

“You know I’m already insanely jealous of your abilities.”  He chided Algernon from above as Algernon dropped his arms from levitating Rain and pushed them both down to the ground.

“You’ve not seen anything yet,”  Algernon replied as a shimmering ball of force encircled him and he started to rise from the ground.  With a level of control he hadn’t shown before, he levitated up to the roofline and dropped down beside Rain, who applauded.

“Right!  Flight and shield.  You do know that’s like one and two on the superheroes most wanted superpowers list.”  

Together they took in the breathtaking vista that is Celephais. Algernon noted where the gates and harbour connected to main streets. Where the cluster of large civic buildings stood and the shortcuts in between them all.  Rain took in the beauty of the white walls, the bronze rooftops and the blue sea and sky.  

“You know, you’re right about this place.  It never ages or spoils.”  Rain finally said, “Nothing lasts forever.”

Though only early afternoon, the moon was  large in the sky and it attracted the currently philosophical Rain.  It looked no different from the moon back on Earth, though its dominance of the sky, even in the day, was unusual.

“We might be going there soon.”  He said, glancing over at Algernon who seemed to be memorising the city.

“Yeah,”  Algernon replied.

“Just yeah, Not wow, amazing, exciting or scary?”

“It’s just another place.”

“Exactly, new place, new start, new everything.”

“New dangers.”

“Those too.”

While the boys overlooked the city from on high, Bruce was working his way back to the stall where he’d found the journal.  That there was an artifact at all was incredible, that he should find it seemed to be a type of miracle.  Bruce believed in miracles and wasn’t about to waste this one with wondering.  

When he found the stall, the stall owner was packing up for the day and had time to chat to a customer, especially one who had paid so well.

“Where did you get this book from?”

“Let’s see, a few months ago.  A military man came by and sold me a few things, one of them being that journal.”  The merchant turned to his packs and started rummaging.

“Can you remember if he looked like me?”  Bruce asked, interrupting the searching, “Older obviously.”

“No, he was shorter than you and held himself very stiffly and correct, military.”  

The trader pulled out three items, a set of rusty tools, a folded map and a military uniform. The tools were nondescript, but the folded map was of the trackways of Railsea and the uniform was also familiar from Railsea.

“Remember anything else about the guy?”

“Yes, we chatted for a while.  He was selling all this because he’d found himself a new employer.  Oh, which reminds me…” The merchants went back to his packs and pulled out a small worn book, “He was joining a group called The Found Gentlemen and said he wouldn’t need this stuff any more.”  He handed Bruce the small book which was stamped in worn gold leaf, Manikiki Fero Navy Recruiters’ Handbook.

“I’ll take the lot.” Bruce pulled out his collection of gems without quibble and paid what was requested.  Picking up the uniform he noticed a name stitched carefully into the collar of the jacket.

Rundat Tu Vin

It meant nothing, at the moment.  Bruce carefully packed the motley collection of Railsea items and started back.  Now he had secured all he could about the journal, Bruce scanned the stalls for interesting items, something to show for his time in the markets.  At one stall a black featureless cube caught his attention.  It was too plain, but also far too finely made to be local.

“What is this thing?” He asked the stall owner who was quick to spot his interest.

“Pretty isn’t it, such an unusual and rare item.”  The guy obviously had no idea what it was.  

“Not pretty, but Strange,” Bruce replied and paid full price and continued on his way.

Peggy had been doing much the same thing as Algernon, scanning the stalls. With her newfound ability, she was able to pick out items quickly and had found a headband and a hat that both shimmered with The Strange.  She was able to knock down the price on the headband, but the hat was too generally useful for the seller to bargain it down.  She was just stowing her purchases when Bruce truned up with the black cube. Peggy shared her cyphers with Bruce and together they started walking back to the warehouse.

“I’ve been thinking about the onyx that came out of the Lang, “Algernon said as he and Rain sat watching Celephais life roll on beneath them, “I think it would be worth a good amount in the local currency.”

“Do you want to find out what it’s worth?” Rain asked and shuddered, “It certainly bothers me that the local currency is made of people’s souls.”

“Yes,” Algernon responded grimly, perhaps finding something worth investigating. “So, what next?”

A childish smile lighted Rain’s face as he tagged Algernon and leapt away lightly, “Chase me!”  He said and recklessly sprinted across the rooftop for the edge.  Algernon flared his shield into existence and followed in pursuit.

On the relatively flat surface of the roof, Algernon’s longer legs had the advantage.  As soon as Rain jumped a gap between buildings, rolling on impact and landing on his feet, Algernon faltered.  Pushing against the roof with his levitation, Algernon propelled himself across the gap, missed the roof and smashed through the wall into a residential apartment.  

A couple, relaxing from the heat of the day in their loungeroom,  were showered in plaster, dust and bricks and Algernon.  Turning back at the crashing noise, Rain leaned out over the eaves to the disaster created.  Now weakened, the roof under Rain groaned and buckled and he too fell into the room with cascading tiles and roof beams.

“Wha….what are you doing here?” The owner said, gaining his feet in the midst of devastation. 

“That’s exactly the question I’d like to know,” Rain jumped up equally as quickly and looked down at Algernon, “What are we doing here?  Algernon, to the door, double time.” He barked before turning back to the homeowners a wave of The Strange penetrating his words, “ I suggest, as you were citizens, military maneuver in operation.”  He said and quickly followed the retreating Algernon out the door.

In the crowded market, the boys found a feeling of safety and a jeweller.  Algernon held out the gem and Rain, squeamish at its origins, took it up in a silk handkerchief that appeared from nowhere. With the cool gem now on his person, Rain stepped up to the stall as Algernon walked on a little, already scanning the surface thoughts of the shopkeeper.

“Ah, yes young sir, has something caught your eye?” The shopkeeper smooth patter washed over Rain who smiled politely and pulled out the silk.

“Good day to you sir, I have an unusual gem and I was hoping you could tell me its providence and value with the option to purchase?”  He replied smoothly back as he lay out the silk revealing the black gem at its colourful centre.

What the….no….it is!…oh the gods…

Algernon couldn’t help turning around the watch the shopkeepers face go through a mixture of emotions, mostly fear and anxiety.  Rain saw the same expressions and understood that knowledge of the origin of the gems was known to the public of Celephais.  

The shopkeeper cleared his throat and attempted to control his expressions before speaking again, “And where did you find such a specimen?”

“I travel extensively.  I believe that one came from ruins across the sea.”  

This is not safe, I don’t want anything to do with it…

“Ah, no I’m not interested, sorry.”  The shopkeeper pushed the stone back to Rain.

“What a shame. Could you advise me on who can speak to about this gem?”

The shopkeeper’s thoughts were a jumble of anxiety, he wanted the gem gone and quick.  And then a solution came to him.

He’s dodgy.  I don’t like him anyway.  Algernon picked up before he said to Rain.

“Well yes, there is a gentleman jeweller down at the docks who specialises in the…more exotic gems.  He may be interested in your bauble.”

Thanking the jeweller who physically relaxed as Rain stepped away from the stall and started down the hill to the docks.  Algernon soon caught up and they exchanged notes.

“He didn’t like it, did he.” Rain said sensing his friend beside him.

“No.  He knew what it was, but never even spoke it to himself.”

“How about the recommended jeweller?”
“Not trustworthy.”

“Well, that’s fine. I’m not trustworthy.”

“So, we’re going?”

“We have to go that way anyway.”

“Do I have to ask, is it safe?”

Rain smiled and did not reply.

Bruce and Peggy were almost to the docks when both were stopped in their tracks by a sight they hadn’t expected to see in Dreamland.  Eldin Lightfeather and his goon in a bowler hat talking to a vegetable seller.  Peggy slipped on her latest cypher, a hat, and touched a local walking the other way.  Instantly, she looked exactly like them, clothes and all.  Bruce stepped back behind some stalls to watch the two known denizens of Crows Hollow, haggle with the farmer.

“Do you  want to sneak by him?”  Bruce asked as they watched a bag of gems being exchanged for a basket of leaves. 

“What!?  Are you crazy?” Peggy rounded on him using the face of another, “I can’t go near them, those are the ones that stabbed me!”  

Peggy stared at the two supposed men in front of her and their forms wavered and dissolved.  Past the form taken in Dreamland, their true natures were revealed, that of bird-headed men.  Men just like the skeleton she had found with Noel ten years ago!  Her mind boggled at the implications that the people of Crow’s Hollow had been interfering in humanity for millennia!

“Can’t we hide or go around through the side streets?” She asked.

“But you have the perfect disguise right now.  We should sneak back and see what he’s up to.”

“But I’m not that good at stealth.”  She whined, uncharacteristically.  

Bruce tapped her on the arm, connecting them together telepathically.

You just have to follow them, trust in your disguise.  I’ll be right behind you.

Fine, but you owe me. She replied, as she stepped back into the flow of the crowd and headed towards Lightfeather and his companion.

Hanging back, Bruce kept his bulk well hidden while still keeping in touch with what was going on.

Stiff and unnatural, Peggy as the local walked up to a stall nearby and pretended to sort through the wares on offer.  She could see now that the leaves exchanged were purple with orange variegation to them, just like the ones described by Maximillian.  So this is how Lightfeather picked up his supply of Bywandine.  It seemed odd even to Peggy that someone so respected was doing such a simple low-level task.  But, she was unable to bring herself to step closer to hear what they were talking about.

I wonder where his hideout is here?  Bruce thought, startling Peggy.

So I have to follow Lightfeather?!  Can’t I just follow the farmer instead?

He’s not going to tell us what we need to know.  Do what you can, Peggy.

As soon as Lightfeather and companion looked to leave, Peggy steeled herself with a deep breath in and followed at a distance.  She could see them chatting, but once more she was too far away to hear and couldn’t bring herself to move closer.  Soon the duo turned down an alleyway that was relatively unpopulated compared to the markets and Peggy didn’t feel she could keep up the tail.  

Okay, double back.  I’ll meet you at the farmer. Came Bruce’s resigned reply.

The farmer was unloading produce to a market stall when Peggy and Bruce finally met up again.  Bruce, leaned on the cart and waited to be noticed.

“Er…can I help you?” The farmer asked, a little concern in his voice.

“You had dealings with a friend of mine.” Bruce replied cheerily, “You gave him leaves and he gave you a big bag of gems.”

“I…I have a lot of herbs.” The farmer gestured to his handcart which was full of many varieties of herbs and fresh vegetables.

“This would be a specific herb. Where did you get them from?”

“My farm…out of town…”
“There didn’t seem to be a lot of herb for a lot of gems.  Are they rare?”

“No…they grow wild…just no one else seems to want them.”

“What are they used for?”

“They’re said to be medicinal.  They’re used by some who Dreamwalk.”

Though he knew the herb was for Dreamwalking on Earth, Bruce hadn’t considered it could be used from this side too.

“Can you use it to Dreamwalk?”  He asked the farmer who shook his head.

“Never tried.”

“Do you have any more, I could pop by your farm to pick it up.”  Bruce smiled and scared the farmer even more.

“Why would I want you at my farm, you scare me.”  He said clearly putting his cart between himself and his brute of a man.

“Well, then I’ll scare you and still pop by.  Why not make this easier and faster and just give me your address.”

The farmer gave directions to his farm.

Peggy and Bruce walked away now back to the warehouse with what they had discovered.

The jeweller worked out of a small shop front at the docks.  Algernon and Rain had already walked by once and glanced in to see a figure wearing a turban sitting at a display case.  Algernon stationed himself just outside the window to the store and scanned the individual’s thoughts.

Ah, the black ships.  I wonder if they’ll bring me some of their lovely rubies, It thought covetously.

“Are you sure you’re okay going in alone?” He asked Rain.  

Rain actually thought for a moment, straightened up a little and smiled, pleased to know that someone had his back.

“Don’t worry, this is what I do.”  He replied, and entered the shop.

Behind the counter, the turbaned individual displayed a creepy smile as Rain entered.  Rain thought nothing of it, the room was dark and the reputation of the individual did not lead him to think he was dealing with an honest gentleman.  He put his best and most charming face on and stepped up to the counter.

“Good afternoon, you have been recommended to me by a fellow jeweller in the marketplace.” Rain started, buttering up his target who didn’t seem that interested in the praise.

“Indeed, and how can I be of assistance today?”

“I came across this interesting gem, and the last dealer refused to identify it for me.”  Rain pulled out the silk hanky and lay out the black gem in front of the dealer.

But how! Algernon instantly picked up from the jeweller’s surface thoughts, I must save them!

Rain too noticed the pause and was ready for the fake smile and brush off when it came, 

“I’m afraid this is just a rather pretty onyx, common in certain parts.”

Rain took a breath and drew on his link with The Strange to suggest a new course of action to the shopkeeper, “I suggest, you could buy this gem if you’re honest with me.” He said quietly without menace or threat.  To his frustration, the shopkeeper seemed to brush off the Suggestion.

“But I am being honest, friend.”  The jeweller replied simply, but Rain could see the avarice, he wanted the stone.

“What a shame, I guess I’ll just keep it then.” He said, Sleight of hand the gem and silk back where it had come from before turning to leave.

“Oh, don’t leave so soon.  I am still interested in your…bauble.  Please, sit and drink with me a moment while I consider an offer.”  The jeweller said and Rain smiled quietly to himself before returning to sit down, return the gem to the counter and accept the offered drink. 

Outside, Algernon picked the surface thought of the jeweller and grew concerned.

He’ll give them to me after a few of these, no one has tolerance for the drink like me.

Inside the cherry coloured liquor was poured from a small cut crystal bottle and handed across the counter to Rain who accepted it gladly.

“What an unusual cordial, “ He said, breathing in the drink and noting it’s potency.  He took a good sip of the liquid before dabbing his lips with another silk handkerchief, allowing the liquid to absorb into the cloth.

“Yes, it is a personal favourite,” The jeweller grinned again and started a waffling tale of where the onyx is mined in mountains…

“…North of the Lost City of Zin…”

Rain listened patiently, sipping and palming the liquor as he thought through what he could do next.  He’d finished the glass before he’d thought of a new plan.

Outside, Algernon heard the frustration of the jeweller and his concern rose.

He should be more affected by now.

“Would you like another?” The jeweller offered up the cut crystal bottle, and Rain held out the glass with a smile.

“Love one.”

Inside, Rain’s mind was going through all the options.  

What I want to happen,  He thought, Is for this guy to get so drunk that he sees me as his best friend and tells me what I want to know.  Amongst the thought, The energies of The Strange played and twisted working subtly on the scene.

Outside, Algernon listening to the thoughts of the jeweller, was dismayed when the signal became faint and distant.  Looking in through the window he could see both Rain and the jeweller still sitting at the counter, perfectly still.

For Rain and the jeweller, it was a lovely afternoon chatting with a friend.  The jeweller was significantly more drunk than he thought he should be, but the man across the way was harmless, charming and completely sober.    The jeweller looked at his glass and tried focusing his thoughts.

“Don’t…don’t worry about the gem… I’ll keep them safe.” He said

Them?  “They’re people?” Rain asked, pleased that somehow his wild imaginings had become real.

The jeweller nodded drunkenly, “A black onyx such as this, is the soul of one of my countrymen.”

Countrymen? Rain thought, knowing full well the gem had come from the Lang Algernon had killed.  He looked again at the jeweller and physically blanched realising that under the turban, jeweller’s white gloves and the weirdly creepy grin, the jeweller was indeed a Lang.  

Stupid, stupid, stupid! He thought to himself as he pulled out a few of the red sapphires from his purse.

“So Lang soul’s make onyx, while my countrymen make these.”

“Stupid monkies….yes, yes.  But what do they matter?”  The jeweller replied completely oblivious to what he was saying.

“They matter, “Rain gestured to the red gems in his hand, “Because this matters.” Pointing to the onyx, “And they are the same.”

“A monkey would think that.” The jeweller mumbled, “The black gem…he really matters.  You…you’re just useful as gems and then meat and nothing more.”

“And why do you matter?” Rain asked now, all his attention fixed on the drunk Lang, “What is the purpose of Lang?”

“We are the true servants of the masters.  You’d be barely a meal.” The Lang giggled at his joke at Rain’s expense.  Disregarding the jibe, Rain continued,


“The Moonbeasts.”

“And their Master?”

“They serve the Dark god, Nyarlathotep.”

“Tell me about the  Dark god.”

Outside, Algernon was now very worried.  He could see that neither the jeweller nor Rain had moved for several minutes.  Finally, he entered the store and walked up to Rain slumped unconscious in his seat, a rye smile on his lips.  A across the counter the Lang was also unconscious seemingly talking quietly in his sleep.  Shaking his head, at the crazy abilities of the little conman, he leapt across the counter and quickly searched.   Tucked away for easy access were two daggers with serrated edges that he quickly pocketed.  Stashed away under the counter he found a small box containing three red gems of the sort they had become accustomed to seeing, and a small black sphere.  A tingling in his scalp made him aware of the presence of The Strange and he quickly snapped up all four with a free cloth and quickly leapt back over the counter and left Rain to whatever he was doing.

“So, is there any hope for your countrymen, for ones turned to gems?” Rain asked now realising that there may be more lives that could be saved than just the herb and spiral dust users.

“It is up to the Moonbeasts. If they are willing…” The Lang petered out, he was more than a little drunk now. Rain had heard enough anyway. This latest illusion had served its purpose.  With a release of The Strange the shared dream dissipated and he and the Lang found themself sitting across from each other, the onyx between.

“Well, what a charming afternoon.  I’m sorry we couldn’t do business today…” Rain said moving to take back the onyx and the silk it lay upon. With a violent suddenness, the Lang snatched at the onyx, too slow for Rain’s quick hands who made the gem disappear.

The jeweller, now reached for his trusty daggers kept for the purpose of thieves.  Neither was where he’d left them and his mind turned to the precious item he kept hidden in a box under the counter. Sure enough, those too was missing.

I the meantime, Rain had got up and had the door open as the Lang climbed over his counter and lunged at the retreating back of the human.  Dropping down and rolling forward, Rain dodged the Lang attack who was now on all fours and looking far more like the beast than the gentile shopkeeper.  Again the Lang went to chase after Rain, but this time Algernon was ready and caught hold of it midstride.  He pushed it out over the docks and as soon as he was over the water, let the levitation force go and the Lang dropped with a splash into the harbour.

Rain tipped his hat to Algernon and silently they left, making it back to the warehouse before dark. 

That night, the group debriefed on their afternoon out in Celephais.  Bruce and Peggy shared their information about Lightfeather that made Rain go so quiet he almost forgot to mention his adventure with the Lang jeweller until Algernon prompted him.  Algernon showed the sphere he’d found in the store to Peggy.

“I know this, “ She said, surprised to find it here of all places, “It’s what was left of thonic.  Hertzfeld has been experimenting with one for his phasing project.”

No mention was made of the book that had so taken Bruce’s interest, and Rain made a note to corner Bruce about it sometime very soon.

Published by Miztres

I'd just like to say a few words... nee phtang! fribble

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