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Deal 1124: Tanka

on the scent swiftly
much like the loyal bloodhound
tracking hidden prey
once caught philtre against bites
chewing his beloved stick

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Deal 1077: Double Nonnet

gather your roses while you may but
avoid those luscious saw-toothed weeds
for when touched without care you
will pay for days I say
cut and slash you may
freely indeed
but touch not
or they
STING!
and yet
treated right
they are tasty
a traditional
herbal restorative
cut, cleaned, blanched and shocked with care
then steeped in boiling water makes
a hot pot of stinging nettle tea

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Deal 1041: Cat knows a way

Sydney’s frustration was mounting. The exercise was described as simple. All he really had to do was get from one side of the garden to the other. But the garden kept changing shape, and occasionally he’d turn a corner and find himself in another part entirely. Solving a maze without a view from the outside is hard enough. But solving it when the maze is constantly changing and is not simply connected is even harder. He knew that if he could only calm down and focus, his growing ability to draw on his sword’s powers would assist. But that is always easier to say than to do. And his score on the exercise will include the time spent as well, so he needed to hurry up and solve the maze. The more he stews about his dilemma, the worse it gets, of course.

He’s currently in a spot with a politely bubbling fountain at the center, and a continuous ring of hedge around the edge. There’s no sign of where he stepped in, and the dry flagstones are not showing any footprints. There are stone benches on four sides of the fountain, each offering a similar view of the fountain and the hedge beyond.

He drops onto one of the benches, and considers his next move. He forces himself to close his eyes and clear his mind, then draws the sword and lays it across his lap where he can see reflections in its blade.

The reflection of the fountain is subtly wrong. He shifts a little, and realizes that the reflection of the far wall is also wrong. Wrong in the sense that it differs from the reality he perceives with his eyes. Which may not be a surprise, lots of things he’s meeting now that Gwen is training him hide differences between perception and reality.

In the reflection he sees a cat walk nonchalantly into the fountain area, take a drink, and walk out again.

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Deal 1026: Sydney takes stock

After the encounter with the cockatrice, Sydney was a still a little nervous. This was not turning out to be his usual Saturday off. Accidentally falling into a swimming pool filled with burn gel was a lucky break, but he couldn’t help but wonder what else could go wrong.

He also wondered seriously what had already gone wrong. Had he been killed in that musty warehouse in Los Angeles this morning? His memory of his previous life was growing hazy as time passed here in this absurd place. It didn’t matter much however. He was here now, and had little choice but to press forwards. And wherever “here” is, it clearly is no longer in Los Angeles.

Since he clearly had a moment of calm, he took inventory to see what he had managed to carry away. His sword, of course. Despite his injuries in the encounter, his sword did feel more substantial, almost as if it had gone up a level as a result of the cockatrice. He too felt stronger than he had this morning, but the dip in the pool of balm might explain that. His belt bag still had his usual supplies, asthma inhaler, gaming dice, cell phone, notepad and pencil. It used to also have an emergency Snickers bar, but was already gone. But in its place was a leaf wrapping a bar of a similar size and shape. He unwrapped the leaf cautiously, and sniffed the bar it contained. It smelled faintly of sawdust, old socks, and desperation, so he wrapped it back up and put it back in his pouch.

Not for the first time, he wished his new place in life had come with an instruction booklet.

Or at least a hint about the rules.

The maze had let him out onto a grassy knoll, with a building nearby and a village in the distance down the road. Nothing Sydney could see in any direction looked the least bit like California.

He sat down on the grass to take think, and decide on a goal.

The town in the distance was the obvious choice. The road did go on as far as he could see in the other direction, but he couldn’t see anything to temp him.

So that settled his goal. He would walk to the town and hope he still had feet when he got there.