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Deal 1027: The Tower

Distraction is always lying in wait around the next bend.

Sydney set out for the town clearly visible in the distance. His old life was seeming less real by the hour, and a chance of meeting something not out to kill him seemed like a good idea. The road was paved, and must go somewhere to be worth the effort. So that much of the plan seemed reasonable.

A few miles later, Sydney was no longer quite so sure. He hadn’t walked that far in a long time. Sure, he used to get around LA on his bike, but that was really just his immediate neighborhood. Real travel in LA required borrowing a car, or taking the metro, and both options had costs attached. So he usually just stayed near home.

About four miles, when his feet were going to give out, he noticed a narrow track leading off the main road, through a pleasant glade and around behind a hill.

He took it.

It led to the base of a four story tower, atop of where there was a woman leaning on a parapet, and bemoaning her fate.

Her name, it developed, was Raven, clearly for her long black hair. She had wandered into the tower, then found her way to the top, after which the stairs vanished.

Sydney circled the tower. There was no door, and no exterior stairs. Something was definitely amiss here.

What he was facing was yet another manifestation of the “magic” of this place, and it made him uncomfortable. As far as he knew, he had no magic of his own. He might as well wish for an infinite number of saws…

Oh. Wait.

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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.

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Deal 989: No town town

He was not a humble man, that much was obvious as he strode into town from the deep woods.

He stood six feet or more tall, slender, with long blond hair. The bow he carried was nearly as tall as he was. His quiver was empty, however. He walked steadily, as if accustomed to walking long distances.

This was a man who demanded attention. He drew the eye and held it.

His partner, however, was opposite in every way possible.

She was short. Short temper. Short hair. Short of breath. And clearly past the end of her patience for long walks. She carried a great battle axe strapped across her back, and clearly had the strength to use it. She also had no desire to be seen or noticed.

This couple was trouble incarnate. And my peaceful town was about to become the center of some chain of events that had followed them across the lands. Unless I took action to deflect it.

I acted alone, the need was too immediate to call for the others.

I cast the first stone in the pond, and muddled the reflection and by extension of my will, muddled what they saw.

If my will prevailed, they would not see the town spread out before them, and would walk on through, seeking shelter further along their trail.

This was the prudent thing to do.

It was not necessarily the right thing to do.

It was what I did.

As the town watched silently, they made their way through.

His confident strides missed every pothole, every small animal, every picket fence.

Her furtive pace nearly caught us out, but she was too intent on keeping up.

He held the attention of everyone as his tall bow and blond hair disappeared over the ridge and back into the deep woods.

I would pay for my actions tomorrow.

But for today, we remained safe and hidden.