AN: Heh, well, it's been a while, hasn't it? I just hope the people who've been waiting for this chapter still sort of remember what happened in the last one.
Capricorn's village is infested with cats. I don't know if it's because Capricorn likes cats or because cats like Capricorn, but the fact remains that the flea-bitten feline flotsam are everywhere. As in, one can hardly throw a rock without hitting some spaced out cat. Not that I recommend throwing rocks at cats as a productive, respectable way to pass the time.
As afternoon began to turn to evening, I decided that I should probably find out what happened to dear old Dustfinger (I do worry about him, he tends to attract trouble) and it seemed to me at the time that the obvious way to get information would be to ask a devil's village native—i.e. a cat. So I sauntered casually up to the nearest specimen and addressed it as politely as I could manage.
"Good evening to you, I was wondering—"
"Egads! A talking behemoth!"
There was a short pause.
"I'm a marten, actually. Now would you—"
"Oi! Ferdie! C'mere an' look at this behemoth!"
I should mention that cats are generally a dignified, elegant and highly intelligent species. As is evident, there are exceptions.
Ferdie, a splotchy white and marmalade creature did not actually come over so much as raise his head slightly and open his eyes.
"Ain't no moth," said Ferdie, "Looks more like a small, flesh-eating mammal, like a weasel but larger."
"I didn't say moth," snapped the first cat, "I said behemoth. There's a—"
"I heard you and I say he be no moth. A moth is more like a gloomy butterfly. They taste horrid, like a centipede. Say, have you ever read that book, the one about singing with the centipedes underwater?"
"I've…heard of it," I was beginning to realize that this would be a complete waste of my ever so valuable time. "I was just looking for someone—"
"Oh yeah? What color was they?"
"Color?" I thought that was an odd sort of thing to ask. "Err, sort of paleish-orange, I guess…"
"What? No, I'm talking about a human."
"A human? What do you want one of them for? They smell."
"This one's okay. He's a bit beat-up looking and wears a long coat of indeterminate color."
"What color is 'indentered-minite'?"
"Oh! I think I've seen 'im! Was he carrying a big balloon shaped sorta like a tentaculed monster, with 'happy birthday Marian' on it?"
"Are you sure? Well, then, never mind."
After what felt like another millennia or so of extracting such fascinatingly useless information from my two new friends (I won't bother you with any more specifics) I finally got away using the excuse that I thought I heard my behemoth buddies calling me and slipped away. Soon after, I managed to find Dustfinger without any outside help other than the large, ominous cloud of angst floating three feet or so above his head. He was sitting on the steps outside the back door of Capricorn's unspeakably fancy house (yes, having his own church was just not enough) accompanied by a somewhat distressed looking Resa. I say she was distressed-looking because she was obviously trying to communicate with Dustfinger via some interesting charades, and Dustfinger was not being the most responsive audience. She was also managing to do this without putting down the large basket of laundry she was holding.
Upon the sight or yours truly, Resa the incredibly talented mime-woman tapped sharply on my favorite pet human's shoulder and made a gesture that said very clearly "Look, there's your marten friend."
Dustfinger looked up and said "Oh."
"Where've you been?" I asked, jumping up onto the step alongside them, "And yuck, what did you do to your arms? Reach through and inferno?"
As usual, he didn't answer me, but picked me up and tickled me under the chin. He does that when he's feeling miserable about life and everything in general. You know, fuzz therapy.
"It's all over, Gwin," he murmured, "We're stuck here. Forever."
"Yeah well, I warned you before not to get your hopes up, but did you listen?"
"Hmm." He looked at Resa, who was standing a little ways off so that the angst-cloud would drip on her basket of freshly washed black-jacket style underwear. "I'll see you around then," he got up, "There's some things I should…take care of." He smiled gloomily (yes, he can do that. He's Dustfinger, he can do anything gloomily.) Resa stood and watched us slink down the alleyway, until someone from inside yelled for her to hurry up.
"Um, where are we going?" I asked, a little nervously.
"Listen, if you're going to commit suicide by jumping off a building or something, remember to put me down first."
But we didn't jump off a building. Instead we made our way to Basta's house, where we casually let ourselves in. You might be surprised to discover that Dustfinger actually spends quite a bit of time hanging around in Basta's house, usually for no particular reason other than to mess with Basta's brain. You know, we do things like change all the clocks to the wrong time, put snakes (and the occasional singing centipede) in his boots, hide all his socks, ect. You know, fun stuff.
This time, however, we were on a mission. We crept up the rickety old staircase and slid into Basta's bedroom. Basta keeps his set of keys under his pillow, which would pose a serious problem, except that Basta happens to be one of those people who hugs their pillows while they sleep (I'll bet you didn't know that. He just doesn't seem the type.) Anyway, he hugs his pillow and then rolls over every once and awhile, which leaves the ring of keys exposed and unguarded on the corner of the mattress, unless they've already been pushed onto the floor.
After pocketing the keys, Dustfinger also picked up the infamous and oh-so-prettily sparkling switchblade from the bedside table. Then, before leaving, he paused, glancing at the oblivious (and quietly snoring) Basta.
"Hmm… What do you think, Gwin? Should we take his good-luck necklace, too?"
Dustfinger crept closer and leaned over the bed, just as Basta rolled over and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like "Off with his ugly scar-faced head…"
"…" Said Dustfinger.
"…Or let's just leave," said I.
We slunk back down the stairs and on our way without further ado, although Dustfinger's cloud got stuck in the foyer on the way out.