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Deal 1075: Toady Typer

The old toad sat at his table, lost in thought.

Big and warty, and not so much green as a sick yellowish brown, he almost vanished into the woodwork around him. What fabulous woodwork it was, though. Fine walnut panels, stained clear grained red oak floor, and hand-floated plaster-work above the wainscoting on the walls and ceiling. Even the paint was exquisite, a base color rag rolled with several lighter tones gave the walls an interesting depth and left the eye unsure of its actual color. This was not the room of a poor frog. But then, the old toad was anything but poor.

He’d made a fortune twice over from his tales of an imagined faraway land filled with feuding families, warring tribes, magic, mischief, dragons, and thieves. But his readers always wanted more. More bloodshed. More treachery. More surprises. More chances for the lost to be discovered and reclaim their birthright. He had spent a lifetime on his stories, and he no longer knew how he had intended them to end. If he ever had intended them to end, even.

But the millions of fans demanded an ending.

And here he sat, an old toad at his typewriter, trying to find the knot that could tied up all his loose ends and put an end to it all.

The old toad sat at his table, lost in thought.

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Deal 1049: Fishy

This morning we set out on a test run. If it goes well, we might just press on from there, but we also planned to return to Gwen’s palace and regroup if needed. I’ve been soaking op knowledge about this world. Hopefully most of what I remember is true and useful. I also feel like my memory is about is reliable as a birdcage. It captures things, but possibly only the big, flashy, important bits. The small bits tend to find a way to be unaccessible when I want them.

We are back to the river as a start. There’s a fish here somewhere who worked with one of the last successful visitors. If we can find him and get him to talk, we might learn a few tricks. Tricky bit here is that all anyone seems to remember was that there was a fish. Not what kind of fish, how big a fish, how mean a fish… just fish. At the same time, saltwater fish are a lot fussier to keep alive, so the smart money’s on it being of the freshwater persuasion.

Our pattern at each stop on our journey is simple: first dodge any indoctrination efforts, then continue on our way in search of fish.

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Deal 1037: Breakfasted

Six cups of strong coffee later, Sydney was feeling rather more able to face the day. Of course, the coffee was punctuated by refills of his plate. He felt like he hadn’t eaten in days, so a chance to sleep, eat, and enjoy some coffee was certainly welcome.

When he surfaced from the first plate, Gwen was sitting opposite him and smirking a little. As before, there was a hint of smoke about her, and a faint hint of scales to her complexion. Her eyes were not the least bit human despite all appearances. Sydney had the impression somehow that others would not see as much of the dragon showing through her current guise when they looked, but wasn’t sure why.

“I hear you met the rooster? He’s rather infamous in these parts.”

“He was kind enough to break a fugue. I was at least seven layers deep in dreams within dreams when I happened on him.”

“Infamous but not always welcome. He and I have not always seen the world the same way.”

“I can respect that. But your orchard is a powerful place of its own. It tried to own me, and I resisted using what I could find at hand. I did have to seek him out.”

“Like you sought me out?”

“I—”

Sydney suddenly realised that this conversation was built on a foundation of quicksand.

“I seek the wisdom to find my way home. I hope sincerely that my mission did not interrupt your business. I’m quite sure that you are not the one responsible for my inter-universe transference.”

“Well, I knew that. Next step, lake, and fish. Several fish, actually.”

They made their way to a little lake, and spent the rest of the day fishing, with exactly as much success as you would imagine.

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Deal 1022: Double Nonnet for Sallis

Man of depths unfathomed, still unplumbed
Optimist, attacks mystery
Rocket or sheepwash, it works
Ever faithful Gromit
Constructed at home
Hotpot and tea
Even space
Extra
Smart
Expert
Gaffer and
Rescuer all
Overcoming odds
Muddling through everything
Indeed, but not as yet love
Totty, Wendy, Piella, gone.
Wensleydale preferred over the moon