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Deal 1044: Cat has a Dragon, Dragon in Denial

The message keep piling up. First, it was a steady stream of carrier pigeons. Then owls. Now, little cards are simply appearing in a basket. I caught one in the act, it looked like it was falling through a slit in reality. Or that strangely malleable substance that passes for reality around here.

Not that I can read them, mind you. I can interact just fine with nearly anything that crosses my path, at least verbally. But apparently the language I know how to read and write is not spoken here. And what is spoken here might as well be Greek to me when written. I really ought to ask Gwen for help with this, but she has gone so far out of her way for me already. At the pace I’ve been learning from her and her friends, I should be able to upgrade my own translation spells to include written words soon.

Raven dropped in for a visit the other day. Apparently he’s been trying to get in to see me for a while now, but Gwen keeps chasing him off. I’m not sure if she knew he was here or not, but he did get in. He’s up to something, and Gwen is right that he likely does not have my interests at heart.

I’m not sure she does either, mind you, but she has been very upfront about that. Raven just changes the subject and makes oddly nonspecific promises. And I’ve caught him trying to manipulate my memory too. So that one is staying at arm’s reach. I couldn’t resist testing my growing powers, though, and snapped a birdcage around him. The look on his face was priceless. Then he quorked something that likely would be obscene if translated, tore a raven-sized hole in reality, and stepped out. He hasn’t been back.

The toad has tried to visit, but the cat I’ve seen around the place just steps out of a shadow, picks up the toad, and steps back into a shadow. I’ve asked Gwen about the cat, and she insists that she does not have a cat.

I asked the cat, but he didn’t answer. At least not in so many words. But he did strongly imply by gesture and deeds that as far as he’s concerned, he has a dragon that he lets have the illusion of free will.

Cats and Dragons. Probably not a good idea for them to team up.

The Harpy that came by for an afternoon was interesting. She was adamant that her (and her sisters) were misunderstood. I’m pretty open minded, but her case was not entirely persuasive. I found it telling that Gwen didn’t actually give her unfettered access to me, but chose to remain in reach. Cat just twitched and wrinkled his nose when I asked him about the Harpy. Gwen just shrugged and said I had to make up my own mind in due course.

Time for another crack at the message pile. Perhaps tomorrow we can begin work on my eventual goals. Perhaps I should ask the cat for help.

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Deal 1040: Gwen muses

Interesting times indeed. This latest adventurer or victim (it is so hard to tell them apart) has potential. He might yet live to prove himself.

He survived his initial trials mostly unscathed. Since that usually involved a visit to the labyrinth, that is no mean feat. There are enough deadlies in there to give even me pause.

He ignored the taunting of the frog, or at least broke away from his attempt to control him. That at least shows an innate stubbornness that will prove valuable. The frog is a slippery critter, however, so he could very well return. We’ve seen him attempt to crash my garden already. I expect more.

Sydney has not attempted to make a pass at my human form, also a sign of innate or latent capability. Or perhaps he’s just not interested, although I get the sense that he sees through my form more than is typical. I wonder how many of my forms he can recognize?

Our next few days together will be interesting. I won’t have many more days to work with him before others take an interest. So he needs his strength tested soon. After that, assuming he passes, we shall see.

But for right now, he’s getting much needed rest, and while this form needs less of it, I should take some rest of my own.

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Deal 1016: A Surreal Visit

“We begin our tour today in the postmodern surrealist collection with a study of frogs. The pedestal here supports nothing, but is held together by a series of fancy knotted closures up the face. The artist notes that the emptiness atop the pedestal reflect the immediate departure of the frog. If you look closely, you can see its froggy footprints in the dust. Of course, there is no dust because the museum is kept scrupulously clean.”

The class dutifully takes turns to peer at the empty pedestal. I doubt that many of them recognize the significance of the knots. It is probably just as well.

“A favorite pieces is La Grenouille par l’Avion, a frog that has been flattened into a postcard and was delivered to the museum as you see it here today. Note the stamp features a fancy game hen, a breed well known for hunting and eating this particular variety of frog. Both predator and prey, flattened, and glued together. Now hanging as inseparable companions.”

The class looks slightly disturbed, but then curiosity wins out. They have to stare at the very flat frog, addressed in ink on its pale green belly skin.

In the distance, a phone rings. I take a moment to verify that it isn’t my group that has committed this sin. The ringing cuts off abruptly, as if a heavy weight has enforced the purity of the museum experience by removing the offender. Exactly as you would imagine that to sound, as that is exactly what has happened. Visitors are warned at the door, and second chances are given, but only after they survive the first removal.

There is a sudden bout of covert rustling as my group swiftly checks to make sure all of their phones really are turned off.

I keep my face set firmly in the proper museum docent’s mask. It wouldn’t do to start chortling and give the game up. But the sign on the door combined with that clever device which projects sounds right into the visitor’s head has become a most effective tool. Sure, the effect wears off in a while, but a skilled docent can run the tour all the way through before they realize that if we were actually killing our visitors, there might be some repercussions. Even a news story or two.

“As we continue, this alcove provides an opportunity to observe a rare example of a hobo caught napping. You will note first that he is, well, a he. The few examples we know of women riding the rails all assumed male identities. It could be a product of their time. It may also have been that rail cars were not hospitable places at the best of times, and the long skirts and petticoats that were obligatory for women would have been far too dangerous to wear. You will note also that there is a frog perched on the brim of his hat. If asked about it, he would invariably have denied it. If you asked the frog its opinion, you would likely be accepted by the other hobos. A prime tenet among those riding the rails was to never question another man’s sanity.”

About this point in the tour is when visitors usually notice that there are no exit doors. The really observant have also noticed that the door through which they entered is missing. This is a gallery of the surreal, after all. We wouldn’t want them to get too complacent. This group is reasonably observant, so the quiet muttering and peering around has begun. Finally, someone catches sight of the teddy bear on a plinth in another shallow alcove holding a sign that says “Exit”. The muttering continues, with occasional glances my way. But I’m once again frozen behind my mask, waiting for the right words to proceed.

It might be a long wait.