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Deal 1085: Sofa detente

Every day, they sat at opposite ends of the room, studiously ignoring each other, like a pair of classical bookends. To one side, a giant shaggy white dog. To the other, a sleek black kitten. In between, a medium-sized grey sofa. A place to sit that should be comfortable.

And would be comfortable, except that each bookend was sure to be wounded deeply when any favor was shown to the other. This required that the only possible way to sit on the couch was precisely in the center, and to look neither left nor right.

Every day he risked all to sit in that one spot. A prince among men he was, attempting to build a bridge that many said could never be built.

The kitten knew absolutely that it was the ruler of the world.

The dog knew that it had no care at all about the thoughts of a kitten.

The prince just wanted his pets to get along…

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Deal 1043: Sydney, just Sydney

The illusion was very good this time, I could easily forget it was all a sham. Table games, the distant calls of slot machines, the steady sound of the house draining wallets over thousands of square feet, with me at a table near the center. I’m dressed to at least an eight, in a properly tailored suit. One hint at the illusion is that the actual game I’m playing seems to change every time I let my attention wander, but not the depth of the pile of chips before me. It continues to dwindle steadily, no matter what scheme I try.

But my winning streak hasn’t changed. I continue to win exactly often enough to keep me seated at the table. No win is large enough to be memorable to anyone. To a third party, like that indescribable lady at the next table, I must appear to be part of the scenery. She is definitely not part of the scenery. She is the reason I’m here tonight at all.

At first I thought my mission was to overhear the critical bit of information that would cause the downfall of a kingdom. Then I realized that was silly, no one was going to reveal anything that critical in a casino and even if they did, there would be no attribution attached that could be used to verify the story.

Then I came to realize the truth. No single fact will do. But the mystery and shuffle brought on by a kidnapping would be another thing entirely.

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Deal 1039: Interlude

Tired after the day spent sparring in the gym, Sydney had little choice but to drop into a deep sleep.

chaotic dreamlands
sleep prince relax digest learn
wander aimlessly

The magic sword shows potential, but its wielder is lacking in form, strength, knowledge, and strategy. This would be pathetic if the sword weren’t also his only surviving link to his home.

shiny sharp slicer
sincere survival symbol 
swish slash so touché

Sydney has much to stew about. Strangers are beginning to arrive at Gwen’s cavern, ostensibly to see Gwen, but clearly with an ulterior motive. So far, all have been on Gwen’s side, to the extent that she has a side. But she keeps reminding Sydney that her side is at heart a weak alliance. One that could break apart at the seams if the wrong things are dropped into conversation.

metropolis lost
cats rule all, no harm
kitties all staring

His sleep is deep but fitful. He won’t awake rested this time.