Madame Zelena nods uncomfortably. “Yes, well, perhaps it might…but, well, you’ll see soon enough..." Though the sliding, pressurized door, Arno follows Madame Zelena into the shiny-orange interior of the “Triumvirate of the Copper Camel”…
The place is gigantic, and ridiculously ostentatious. Overhead, a dome of tinted glass hangs over the main lobby, traced with gold and letting in just enough of the afternoon to wash over the entire room in warm, orange-tinted light. Lush chaise lounges, velvet-sewn recliners and ottomans, bowls of fruit and pitchers of liquor atop every mahogany table. This place is opulence.
“Yes, then…right this way please.” Madame Zelena guides Arno through a maze of stairs, corridors, and draped silk sheets. Up, down, left, left, right, another left. The winding, dizzying path Arno finds highly disorienting, though Madame Zelena seems to navigate the halls with ease.
The stern woman, still holding her clipboard tightly to her chest, turns and engages Arno in sudden, unprompted small talk. “…you said your name was “Arno”, correct? I thought it sounded familiar, so I checked over our reservations…it seems, you already have one?” Madame Zelena shows Arno the clipboard: sure enough, right there on the fifth line is Arno’s name, description, room number (8-C) expected arrival date (today’s date), and the duration of stay (three days, according to this). “I apologize for my rather…off-putting manner from before,” the stern woman says, rather simpering. “We get a fair amount of riff-raff, trying to bust down the doors. If you give them an inch…well, you understand. In any case, I certainly didn’t know we were being visited by another esteemed guest of the Sun Prince today!”
“Ah, and we’ve arrived!,” Madame Zelena says, coming to a door at what must be one of the extreme corners of the ship you’re on. “5-D” is marked upon the plaque. The maître-d raps on the door once, twice. “Captain Arabella?” she says. “Can you hear us? Are you still in there?” Five seconds of silence from the other side of the door. Madame Zelena looks over to Arno with concern. “Ma’am? The friend of yours I mentioned is with me. We’re coming in, alright?” Withdrawing a thick bundle of keys from beneath her belt, the maître-d rattles through them with aged fingers, finally coming upon the right one. She places the key, and the lock pops with a loud *CLICK*. “Captain Arabella? We’re coming in now. If you’d rather we didn’t, now seems to be the best opportunity to speak up?” More silence from the room. Madame Zelena shrugs sadly, and pushed into the room with Arno…
Arno steps into a room hanging thick with incense smoke. The drapes have been pulled tightly shut and clasped, to keep out any of the daylight. The bed, closet, changing room, all seem to be untouched by the occupant.
Captain Arabella sits atop a chest at the foot of a large, king-sized bed, legs crossed beneath her. The sole source of light in the room (besides the odd sticks of incense scattered here and there throughout the room) is a candelabra she has placed on the floor beneath her. In her hand, she holds a small, blue glass tumbler cup. She very occasionally fills the cup from a bottle of Absinthe, tucked nearby between the bedpost and mattress.
Captain Arabella has pulled three mirrors across the length of the room (two from all the way over in the changing room), and has pointed them at herself. She stares into the reflective surfaces, eyes blinking purposefully, glance moving from one mirror to another as she searches for something. As the door opens behind her, she doesn’t seem to react to Madame Zelena or Arno’s presence. The Captain taks a small drink from her cup.
After a long, awkward silence, where Madame Zelena paces nervously from one foot to another (she clearly thought Arno was going to take the lead, and now is at a loss for how to proceed), Captain Arabella finally seems to notice others are in the room. Her voice comes for a far off place, as though in a trance. From her voice, Arno can’t tell if she’s drunk, possessed, or caught in a trance. She doesn’t turn from her watch, but addresses the Changeling in the mirror. “Arno? What….what are you doing here? I thought I said I wasn’t to be disturbed…”
“You did, ma’am!” the maître-d says, straightening up now that the silence has been broken. “I attempted to check-in with you and let you know your Ship had experienced a, hrrm, “Code-Lucky-Jack”, but you had troubles responding…and when I did get a response from you, you seemed to misunderstand. You kept saying “Lucky Jack isn’t here, he’s up on Deck”.”
“Up on Deck…” The Captain repeats dreamily, sounding half confused and half dog-tired.
“Y-e-s, Captain,” Madame Zelena replies, clearly annoyed as she feels that she’s losing her again. “When I couldn’t roust you from your...observations, I became concerned for your well-being. Arno, here, claims to be from your Ship, and knew that you had placed the room under the sobriquet “Valtari”. They also have a reservation, so, rather than contacting the Camel’s in house physician, I thought it might be more discrete to let them communicate with you personally…see if you’re, alright?”
“I’m fine,” the Captain says, without emotion. “I’m just looking for…Arno, you’re here too?” Arabella, in her strange mood, seems to have temporarily forgotten the other person in the room. “Look, tell this lady I’m fine. And what are you doing here? Didn’t I tell you all I wasn’t to be disturbed?”
Urixes, Jack, and Oak hang around the Kelp Carts, keeping a low-profile and discussing the curious nature of their situation.
The streets are fully packed at this time of day. Pirates push through the crowds, shoulder to shoulder, the more aggressive types wading through the fold while others are crushed beneath. The last of Gorgeous Grigmar’s mob left the area fifteen minutes ago, carrying a struggling and cursing Man-Shark bound tightly atop them towards the north end of town. Small rowboats around the water ferry the lazier/more affluent pirates from one end of town to another. Business mostly seems to continue as usual.
A fierce discussion is occurring between two people of authority nearby, each encircled by a group of their own. From the sounds of it, there’s been a stoppage in the North Marauder’s Market. Goods, already lined up ready to be delivered, are being held up by the dock workers, and a handful of ships which are refusing to move.
“This is bullshit!” A man with an eyepatch shouts, *SLAMMING* his fist against the railing. “You’re extorting us, is what you’re doing! Rule has always been, once your lot’s sold, you move on and cycle out fer’ the next group…”
“And I’m saying, we’ve purchased our rental spaces, and plan to sit in Market as long as we bloody-well like,” The unsmiling Changeling says. “You’re more than free to buy the contracts out from us, of course, but otherwise, I don’t care if the deliveries sit out there until they spoil. That’s business, my friend!”
“You’re a sonuvabitch-bastard, Lupo!” Eyepatch says, shaking a finger an inch from the Changeling’s face and standing close enough to be spitting on them. “This wouldn’t even be happening, if you fucks hadn’t gone an’ killed the heads of the Trader’s Union!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The Changeling says without flinching. “I do know that time is money, and I’m finished with you wasting mine.”
“Now look here, you piece of…” Tensions seem to be boiling. Both groups are at each other’s throats now…
Arno takes in one final look of Captain Arabella’s chamber, quietly concerned but wanting to give her proper space. All this endless conflict and pressure has been getting to her too, and with the loss of her dear friend Valtari and all the other crew these past weeks, she maybe just needs some “me” time…
The pair departs down the halls (up, left, right, right, up again…) Madame Zelena provides from a different set of keys upon her belt the Guest’s Key: a gold woven, beautifully designed work of art, labeled within a wreath of flowers at the center: “8-C”. “Hold onto that tightly!” the maître-d informs the Changeling. “For as long as you possess it, you and I are the only ones with the ability to get open its door!” (Holding the key makes Arno feel a bit better about the long trek around these velvet draped halls: they feel like they could better find their way around this place alone, if they had to)
As Madame Zelena flips through her clipboard with the speed of a hummingbird, she nods along to each of Arno’s requests and questions, displaying the efficiency and professional demeanor of a personal assistant:
“Yes indeed. We have our very own on-site, lockboxs, guarded and barricaded at the front of the Ship! Absolutely secure, and 100% guaranteed! You’ll find that your room key will work for your lockbox as well, as long as it is provided in conjunction with my own! I’ll come back around with the Bookkeeper and the representative from the Vault, once you’ve made yourself feel fully at home in your spacious accommodations! They will take a full account of your valuables, and transport them for your convenience. Your items be awaiting you upon your departure!”
Madame Zelena’s eyebrows lower quizzically for a moment. She flips through her clipboard a handful more times, double-checking… ”You mean you’re not a direct associate of the Sun Prince, just an Honored Guest? I see, I see….” Withdrawing her quill, she gives a lick to the tip of the pen, and then makes a quick checkmark somewhere within the documents before her…(From the looks of it, Arno just gave Madame Zelena some valuable information)
“As a matter-of-fact, the person you’re interested in and the one who made your reservation are one in the same! Lieutenant Pom, or “Lupo” to those familiar with them. They are the Sun Prince’s chief diplomat and representative. Once I made the connection…well, I simply assumed you two knew each other! It’s no offense my dear, I can assure you…besides the fact that you two do look strikingly similar, they wrote their name on your reservation as “Dear Cousin”…”
“Hmmm….” Says Zelena, stopping to fully look over Arno. “…well, the height’s dead on for Lieutenant Pom, there’s no doubt about that. Eyes very similar…nose a bit less crooked…cheekbones basically the same. Their hair is possibly more…kempt? And your face, of course, is much less serious on the whole…you have a playful way about you, whereas Pom is strictly business. And obviously, of course, there’s the atire: your *eherm* “colorful” garb, compared to the very official and fashionable armors and cloaks that the Lieutenant is seen in...”
“Lieutenant Pom has operated in the Twilight Expanse under the Sun Prince for…I would say, roughly, fifteen years now. They have personally been with us at the Camel for this past week. Lieutenant Pom bought out the entirety of B-Deck for the duration of their stay, which is the floor of the Camel directly above yours. They keep to themselves mostly, with the rare occasional visits from…well-heeled visitors. They’re mostly busy on business about town…although, as a discrete provider, I try not to bother myself about what the might entail…”(Arno realizes this is clearly half a lie; they’ve just bumped up against “bigger money” operating within the Camel…)
Madame Zelena purses her lips tight, and clutches the clipboard to her chest like a life raft. Her eyes narrow at Arno once more, and she reddens ever so slightly. The flustered maître-d stares down at her files and pretends to check. “…no…no, I’m sorry. The only records I have on file for a “Urixes” and an “Oak” are as “High-Level Criminals, Wanted Captured Alive by the City of Chaff”. Unless, of course,” she adds suddenly hopeful, shuffling the paperwork around and looking up once more brightly at Arno. “…this is another Code, of course? If you’re looking for (whispered)Wanted Marks, I’m not the one to talk to…you’ll want to seek the Headhunters over at the Hunter’s Guild…”
Madame Zelena puts finger to the tip of her nose, and taps it twice knowingly. “I also have a friend or two, who enjoy “going to the big blue beach…””
“If you wanted to know more about its medicinal properties, proper uses, safe containment; you could bring it to Ozoro’s Restorative and Herbal Remedies. I’m sure their rather odd proprietor could help explain anything to sate your intellectual curiosities.”
“For moving “product”, there’s always…the Marauder’s Market, of course,” the maître-d says, uncomfortably licking her lower lip. “…a great demand has come in for that sort of experience recently. According to idle talk, it’s running worth three times its weight these days…err, or so I’ve heard!”
“And, of course, maybe “your friend” isn’t interested in knowledge or profit, but simply to make other-new friends? I’m sure sharing such a sought after taste could grease all manner of gear about town…”
“Of course, this is all just things I’ve heard….rumors.” Madame Zelena quickly explains. “And you know how I feel about rumors!” Her hand falls out casually, palm open, acting disinterested in this talk anymore…
Madame Zelena looks…disappointed, as she discretely deposits Arno’s “tip” into a pouch upon her belt. She nods softly, but the corner of her lip curls ever so slightly, and she now lacks the excitable fervor of just earlier (it seems Arno may have undersold her expectations):
“Yes, well,” the maître-d starts, a little slowly. “ “Honored Guests” are those on short-term contracts with the Sun Prince. Either odd on-call jobs, part-time seasonal work, or simply people…unaware or uncaring of the particulars of their employer or task. They are typically provided “day passes” by the Sun Prince as a token of good faith…although, I dare say, I’ve seen few enough taken out for three days at our own establishment!, which is why I had assumed your direct involvement with the group...”
“ “Honored Guest’s” mainly just come through Chaff the once. We rarely see them again, whereas “Associates” are dressed garishly, carry themselves rather well-off, and regularly stop by to “check-up” on things in and around the area”
“Now, I’m afraid I must get back to my other guests,” says Zelena, leaving Arno at the door of “8-C”. “Please knock, the next time you should need me! And If you want my advice travelling through town, it is this, (she leans over and whispers in Arno’s ear) the only safe boat rides to rent around the edges town belong to the Orphans; the rest are crooked, corrupt, or killers”
With an odd curtsy, the prim woman departs down the hallway, clipboard upon and flipping before her…
...through the throng of bickering pirates, for a fleeting moment: the Tiefling and the Changeling incidentally make eye contact. There's a flash of recognition there. The Changeling turns to ask one of their companions a question...then, sudden yelling from a block over to the West. In the confusion, people start to push against each other. A defensive punch is thrown, then a scuffle breaks out! By the time the Changeling turns back to catch glimpse of the Tiefling again, he's vanished into the crowd...
At the corner of Cutthroat Alley and Drummer, the Wild Bunch come upon the dilapidated watercraft Crispin had described. A screen door, badly battered, hangs slightly off it's hinges. The place looks abandoned....
Arno twists the key in the lock and presses inside...
The room behind the door is massive. Arno makes out a bed the size of a longboat...a luxurious pool, in the shape of a clamshell...windows which provide a beautiful view over Chaff's Bay...
The crowds clear out as you all depart the Marauder's Market. The strangers on the street start to become less pushy, and more cautious. Overhead, Tick Tock Tower casts a large shadow over the boardwalk...
People don't linger or stare at the corner of Cutthroat and Drummer. They generally just want to move along about their day, and to each man his own. From the looks of it, Oak seems to be standing among a dense field of professional criminals, vagabonds, and desperate people. If they care at all about the big man wandering by in the strangely colored scarves, they don't show it. And despite his glances up and down the block, Oak doesn't feel any eyes on him, (or his crew) from the streets or decks around.
From the inside of the "craft", Crispin's Safehouse is an absolute shit-heap. The wood looks like it was purchased fifth-hand. Two areas have a rat infestation problem; one of the three small rooms aboard is a hastily-constructed outhouse, with two full purging buckets; a back room is leaking openly, and you doubt the craft would survive pulling up an anchor, if it even has one; it reeks of campfire smoke, within every single inch of the place.
The windows (four in total) are barred throughout the craft, from the outside. In the back room is a single dirty cot and sheet. In the central room, the purging buckets, covered loosely with towels. The main room (which the front door leads into) contains a fireplace upon the deck floor, where a cigarette butt still smoulders among the ashes, freshly tossed away.
Oak shakes the front door. The entrance, (which originally looked to be flimsy), is actually a decoy to disguise the real one with the double-lock-bolts on the inside, which is itself steel-reinforced. There's a murphy bed hidden in one of the walls of the waste room, and beneath it Oak finds a medium sized safe (a model known to be cheap, but efficient)
Besides the creaking front door, Oak finds one other exit from the craft: a hidden compartment beneath a rug in the back room, containing a secret, watertight exit to the waters beneath the ship. This crudely made door is sealed with a cheap looking lock.
Arno searches over their giant-sized, luxury room aboard the Camel:
-Giant Bed, Fireplace and Bar Area: The bed is draped in enough blankets to cover a full a third of the Curse; you could get lost in them. The thread counts on most of the covers must be easily in the 1,000 range. It's up on four posts, and beneath it you find a dense collection of pillows. The bar area is completely open,
fully stocked, and sits next to a fireplace which must be fitted into the exhaust pipes up above
-Giant Walk In-Closet, Floor-to-Celing Chest: For the fashionable traveller, or someone who needs a lot of storage space. Some of the empty chests are covered with moth balls at the bottom. Searching each takes some time, but Arno does find that their room key locks many of the boxes
-Kitchen Area: Hand-carved tables and chairs, tucked in around a pantry area. The shelves and drawers contain enough hardtack, dried fruits, nuts, and candies to keep Jack occupied for, at least, an hour or so...
-Pool and Grooming Station: A bathing tub big enough to swim in. A massage table and chairs and cabinets with beauty supplies sit nearby. The pool is filled from overhead with copper pipes, similar in design to the ones you saw that filled the Grey Maw's water locks
-Indoor Garden: A walking area within the room, dominated by a grove of trees and an indoor flower garden. Copper pipes, identical to the ones which hang over the pool, fill a complicated series of troughs which run down around the interior and water the plants periodicallyVerdict: The room seems clear...for now. But, it took Arno the better part of the last twenty minutes to make sure of it...er, twenty-two minutes.....
Arno’s keen disguise and ability to blend in wherever they are help them make their way quietly unnoticed between the packed crowds of pirates. So surely does the Changeling find their way through the City, that they even manage to make back some of the time they had lost taking in the splendors of the Camel’s Garden Room…
Swiftly enough, they arrive at the west end of Murderer’s Row, and the docked Galleon which makes up the “front office” of the Hunter’s Guild. The gangplank has been thrown down at the back of this Ship, and a gradual walk up finds one entering into a den full of chairs, mounted weapons, and (most notably) pictures placed all upon the walls.
Upon closer inspection, Arno sees that the pictures are mugshots. Some of humanoids, some rough sketches of giant sea animals or fell beasts. Noticeably, the pictures are not drawn or painted, but hole-punched, by what is clearly a skilled and accomplished artist. Light flickers through the backs of some of the portraits, as the sun catches the spaces between the planks. To the Port side, the mug shots contain contact information jotted down in black ink, while the pictures hanging on the Starboard side are covered over in thick, red Xs of splashed paint, and include a small note about the responsible hunter painted in a different, more delicate hand at the very bottom of the picture.
Arno takes note of some names: Big Bertha, the Sea Dragon; Gofari Bloodspiller; Berhain the Slavemaster; Captain Macniva of the Simmering Seas. Oh, and here your friends are on the Port Side! Oak the Beasthide Barbarian…“Lucky” Jack…Urixes Oceanlord of the Deep Dark. Hmmm. Maybe the artist isn’t so talented after all…Urixes is a spitting image, but Oak’s hair is usually much longer and more tangled than that, and you don’t think you’ve ever seen Jack look so brooding in the entire time you’ve known him.
There are three figures aboard the Ship who watch Arno as they approach: a black-robed priest, currently polishing a large silver rifle at a table; a pale, haggard looking woman behind a desk, reading a book and nursing what looks to be a bad jaw wound; and, what Arno is entirely certain (after a second glance), is a pile of bees, *BUZZING* and vibrating in a chair near a rollout desktop, the “owner” of the bees so covered as to be completely obscured from view.
The priest doesn’t acknowledge Arno as they arrive, and its rather hard to tell whether the pile of bees (shaped like a Gawky teenger? Mutant badger without a head? Maybe a Lapine, if it cut its ears down?) has noticed anything at all. However, the pale woman smiles brightly at Arno, and puts her book down upon the desk. “Welcome, to the Hunter’s Guild!” she says, her voice sounding like a box of chain-smoking gravel, and her tendons flexing visibly through her injured jaw. “I’m Fig Guerra Number Eight…how can the Hunter’s Guild assist you today? Or maybe,” the death rattle adds, hopefully. “You’re here to put in an application?”
Fig Guerra Number Eight sighs noncommittally. She produces a paper from a thick stack of copies beneath her desk, and presses it and a quill over towards Rak’ta*Arno. “Sign these, please,” the grey woman rasps at the Changeling. “We’ll need your name, address within the Expanse, full length-complaint…relation to the offenders. As well as the names and current location of your witnesses, of course. After that, your petition will be put under prompt review. Gotta warn you, though…I heard *these* three were fresh back in town. It’s the Queen who wants em’ taken in alive, but if the mob catches em first, there ain’t a lot we can do!”
Nearby, the old priest *SNIFFS*, a loud, disbelieving sound. “..don’t think such a petition’d get very far, anyway. Paperwork can be forged, an’ there’s more than one way to get yerself around the Expanse in a jiff, if the needs must. No, lad….what you’re suggesting is an impersonation by Changelings, or maybe even Doppelgangers. Something that’s an explicit part of the no-aggression treaties the Queen managed to wrangle together from the peoples out here. Wild-Kind n’ Demons bothwouldn’t open up that sort a’ Pandora’s Box, less they were looking for a full blown war out on these waters!”
“Could be talking about Twinning, too, Barnabas” replies Fig Guerra playfully, who’s been listening to the exchange with a subtle sort of admiration for the crotchety holy man. “When’s the last time we saw one of those?”
“Hush your mouth, girl!” Barnabas says with a frantic hiss, signing across his chest to ward off evil.
Barnabas and Fig are shocked at Arno’s sudden transformation. Barnabas stops fiddling with his gun and immediately strides across the deck to place a consolatory hand on Arno’s shoulder (while, at the same time, checking down the gangplank to make sure no one is looking this way). He turns to Miss Guerra with a throaty rumble, which immediately gets the pale woman moving. Fig mutters something that sounds like half an apology to both Arno and Barnabas, as she dashes over to pull a mechanism which begins to raise the gangplank. The pile of bees, intrigued by this development, *BUZZ* over from their chair to more closely observe the newcomer.
“Sorry fer the scare, lad…didn’t mean to frighten you.” Barnabas says, consoling Arno with a few measured pats on the back. “And “Changings” not illegal…least, not so long as it’s just the one of you, and you en’t pretending to be somebody’s Captain, er’ Wife ‘gainst their will and proper knowledge. An not as long as I have anything to say about it! All the same…ye’ should maybe keep your lizard-shape, fer the time being. Might be safer.”
“You’re gonna warn her about the Expanse-shit, right? Because if *you* don’t, *I* will!” rasps Fig Guerra through rotted teeth. Barnabas waves her off without looking back, and returns to comfort the Changeling:”PURGE OF THE FACELESS”
“Listen…little bit o’ wisdom and history fer’ free, child,” the priest tells Arno with gruff sincerity. “A while back…near two decades back, now… there was an incident. Turns out, yer’ kind had been slowly climbing into places where they oughtn’t…seats o’ power, chains o’ command. Replacin’ loved ones an’ friends all around the Expanse. It was later confirmed, that they’d been working in concert between the factions out here, to sabotage any one group that managed to get a leg up and keep them from growing too powerful on their own. Conspiracy o’ the faceless. It wasn’t all of the Changelings, mind...was maybe a fraction of em’, and even less if you take in to account that a lot turned out to be Doppelgangers…”
“What happened next was an alliance between disparate factions within tha’ Expanse. Queen’s Men; Slaver’s Faction; Red Dragon Legion; many others, working together for the first and only time. They managed to somehow discreetly contact and hire out “specialists” from the Observatory…men and women with the True-sight. They had them brought in to subtly identify the sleeper’s within the ranks, see who was on the up and up.”
“…Then things started to get out of hand. Some groups the history will judge more kindly than others. The Queen’s Men simply brigged’ interlopers, then drove them out to the middle of the sea and made em’ pick a direction. Most others…weren’t so fortunate. In many o’ the cases, not only were the “traitors” executed, but they’d find other Changers among themselves as well, that weren’t involved. Friends, strangers, lovers. Sometimes whole familes of em’. It were’…” the priest looks off into the middle distance, his voice becoming husky and a small tear coming to his right eye. “….a dark time.”
“It became known as the “Faceless Purge”. Lotta’ changers died, and what didn’t disappeared. Changelings, Doppelgangers. Even some Wizards an’ Shifters that got misidentified, either because everyone was so worked up by the moment, or just because someone had an excuse. The story is, the Changelings that made it out scattered to the winds. Most found a home with Wild-Kind…or with the Sun Prince’s Dogs. Others likely left the Expanse, as best they were able...”
Barnabas shakes his head with disgust at mankind’s cruelty, while Fig Guerra and the bees stand nearby listening, nodding sadly along.
“Expanse has moved on in the last twenty years,” Barnabas says somberly. “By now, pretty much any decent folk will agree that what happened with the Changelings weren’t right. But all the same…the feeling isn’t universal. Slaver’s will still snatch a Changeling on sight, same as finding a strawberry in the wild; Red Dragon’s’d set fire to your whole Ship, just cause’ they had the audacity to give you passage on it! Part o’ the reason Pom is so known and feared out here is that he’s willing to walk with there with his “true” face exposed: only Changeling’s making a point do that. For you,” the priest says, rubbing the beard beneath his chin. “…well, lad, best advice I'd give is keep a low profile. Don’t be out in the open in your Changeling form out here, less’n yer sure of the company ye keep. Don’t get caught impersonating anyone of high-status, less’ yer looking to draw a bounty or start a war, and’d like to spend all yer days working off the debt or dying in a sunken prison!”
“But once more, apologies fer’ the bad news, lad! I’ll tell you ‘hwhat,” the priest follows with a wry grin, looking over towards Fig. “…we can probably get in town and interview “The Love Revolution” now, right? Try to get this sorted out before their friends get pulled apart by drunk idiots?”
“I suppose there’s time enough for that on today’s schedule,” Fig Guerra purrs through destroyed lips. “Didn’t end up being need of security for the Professor today. And we can put out word for testimonials from the Curse fairly easy.”
“I believe that would be in order, for half scaring this poor lad to death” says Barnabas wryly, a broad, kind grin cutting across his usually angered demeanor as he turns to reassure Arno. “You take care out there, alright lad? And hey; can myself or one of our Hunters accompany where you need to go from here, to make sure you get safely through your travels in Chaff? Good chance its on the way to one or more of the interviews, and wouldn’t be a problem at all! I wouldn’t mind, and I know Fig and The Scurry would like a chance to get out and stretch their legs…”
As Oak observes the Escape Hatch, the thing begins to *QUAKE* from beneath. The lock twitches, before eventually clicking and turning over. The door presses inwards, and as Oak steps back, a stern looking man emerges from the waters beneath, his well pressed uniform now soaking wet from the swim.
Crispin, a satchel nearly the size of himself upon his back, steps up upon the deck. Placing down the bag, the drenched man secures a comb from a side pocket, and drags his hair into a perfect middle part. Nodding professionally at Oak as he drips on the floor (“Love what you did to Gorgeous’s nose, man!”), the sinister looking fellow takes his bag and places it next to the wall (where you know the murphy bed to fold out), sizing you all up.
“Gentlemen….welcome!” Crispin says, in a manner that is rather off-putting despite his best attempts to be congenial. Clearing his throat and trying once again, the barista says, “I’m glad you found the place well and in order! Made sure to leave the door open for you all to help things along. You certainly made your return well-announced: they’re even still now looking over the streets, for the “Funky Bunch” “. He turns to Urixes, a sly, self-satisfied smile upon his face. “Subsequently, *my* fee just went up to 30%!”
“This place is safe. You can all rest here, and lay-low long as you like: shit-buckets’ over there, windows are there, and there. Exit you just saw: swim the full twenty feet down an’ out, if you don’t want a face o’ kelp or rudder. Near no one except criminals and orphans comes around this end o’ town, less they have to. You can rest up, and when you’re all ready,” the man’s eyes light up with thought of treasure and gold.”….tell me where you put the score from Sport-o-Kings. I’ll either go with you to find it, or I’ll retrieve it while you wait here, as you like!”
“One more thing,” says Crispsin, addressing Oak and Jack. “You may’ve heard your friend say I poisoned him? Now, that is true; but, the antidote is nearby! I promise, once we retrieve your hoard, and I safely extract myself from Chaff, your friend will receive it!” Cripsin is adamant with the two shifters…and also, quick to turn cold. “And I swear that if either of you two tricksey’ canines try to turn on me or bug out, I’ll put a knife to ya’, an your friend will die drowning in his own swill! Choice is yours, obviously…”
“So,…” says Crispsin, sinking down to the floor where he drags a wrapped contained from his satchel. Inside a tin, a cold beer is revealed along with a steaming hot plate of sausage biscuit sandwiches. (Back to his murphy bed), Cripsin begins to *wolf* down one of the six sandwiches inside the tin, and *cracks* the beer open upon the side of his boot. “…how do you folks all like your second trip through town so far? Locals not quite so welcoming as last time?” He takes a sip of the beer, then rips a bit from the sandwich, grinning playfully at the group. “And hey, whose bright idea was it to walk around in broad daylight…or did the Sun Prince pay you all to do that…?”