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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 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.

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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 1033: Much to learn.

“He was just going to lie to you, you know” explained Gwen after chasing the talking frog away.

“I know. He’s been popping up now and then. He told me he was lying. Which could have been a lie. But he’s just a frog, isn’t he?”

“Sydney, you have a lot to learn about this place.”

“I know.”

As we look away for a while, Gwen and Sydney chatted for about many things that Sydney would need to know. Gwen didn’t give him many direct answers, just told him things he should seek to learn more about. And suggested ways to do that. By this point, it was getting on towards sundown.

“You should camp in the orchard for the night” offered Gwen. “I need to change, and attend to a few things for a while. The orchard and this garden are under my protection, so you will be safe here tonight. We’ll talk more in the morning.” Gwen disappeared in a swirl of skirts, leaving Sydney somewhat overwhelmed.

He decided that his best course of action was to do as she suggested. She hadn’t quite come out and said that she was the dragon he met earlier, but he wasn’t stupid either. He was a guest in her domain, and she might very well be the most powerful entity he had met so far.

The orchard was just beyond the garden, with a clear space suitable for camping surrounded by fruit trees. It extended as far as he could see in this part of the valley. He made himself comfortable near a grand old apple tree and settled in to contemplate all he’d learned.

He really hoped that he’d wake up a little wiser.