Disclaimer: Chapter one.
It's been a while, hasn't it? The movie even came out (the screenwriter should never be hired for anything again) and more stuff had happened. I've been busy with other fics (obviously), but I managed finally to trudge this back up. Hurray!
"Don't change color to match the walls. Look like you belong and the walls will change color to match you." --- Kender Proverb, Legends 1: Time of the Twins.
Ah, hotel beds are glorious!
You wouldn't think this of me if you saw my room, which depicts about three steps above the bare essentials, but I love luxury hotel rooms. They're so thoroughly decorated, there are little utilities and various things for your personal use, the bathrooms are always clean, and they're fully furnished with so many comfortable things. And the beds! Sheets and covers and comforters and pillows, so clean and plush and comfy and warm, all on a big bed with a nice mattress and a spring system that doesn't squeak when you so much as breath on it. I suppose if you were the sort of person like Mabon, who has trouble sleeping in strange beds and brings his own pillow from home, the luxury would be meaningless to you. Doesn't bother me, though. That allowed me to take the hotel pillows from his bed as well.
I decided to wash and grab a bite of the now cold breakfast crumpets before I jumped into my bed and burrowed myself in. I mused silently for a while before I drifted into sleep, very content and feeling, very familiarly, like I did with my empathic link to that cat. I think at some point, in that dreamy, somewhere between states of consciousness mindset, I decided that I was more like him than I thought. It was a passing thought, however, that was only on a string leading to the next dream sequence.
It was twilight before I finally awoke to the feeling of four miniature weights plodding about my bed over the covers before settling in a sitting position. I blinked and squinted up at my damned familiar before I pulled myself up and proceeded to berate him.
"By the planes of torture, where have you been?! You insane feline, I've been worried as sick as an elven widow with a mercenary son! What were you thinking, running off into the night on an island that sits on a waterfall! Oooh, I have half a mind to take you back to that shop for how much trouble you've given me!"
Raistlin ignored me. "Yes, yes. Perhaps, now, you could tell me what the kender is doing here?"
I would have flown into a proper rage if I hadn't just woken up and felt, outside of Raistlin's insubordination, in a particularly pleasant mood. Instead, I merely responded, "You mean Burrfoot? He says he was catapulted here… by an actual catapult. A dwarf made it, and it was apparently magical." I rubbed my eyes some while my mind warmed up enough and let everything click in place.
"Do you have any idea how reckless he is? Especially in a place like this! No, of course you don't know, but we need to take care of this immediately!"
My hand dropped and I stared at him, deadpan with seriousness and the fact that I just woke up. "Why don't you tell me how reckless he is, Majere?"
He shut up, and didn't have a chance in hiding his shock. Those yellow eyes flew wide and his whiskers quivered. "How…!" He even got up and started pacing on the bed, then stopped and looked straight at me with his most oppressive glare. "…What did Tas tell you?"
"A lot of things, but most of it went by so quick, I couldn't keep up. But I'm sure that I can have him tell me everything about you that he knows. He's a chatty little bastard, and I believe he said that the two of you were personal friends."
Those eyes narrowed more, in unveiled anger, and I knew that I hit the jackpot. He looked like he would slowly burn my skin off with a lighter if he had the chance (and the thumbs) to do it. He was probably having trouble pulling back his burning rage to let the wheels of his mind work unhindered, thus the cat was quiet for a long time. A sudden urge to yell "checkmate" came over me, but I squelched it with a sardonic grin of my own that said it all for me. That's right, you unruly little furball! No more moves for you!
"Fine! I'll explain everything—"
"Damn right you will. From the beginning."
"—But don't let that kender know about me, you understand? I can't let anyone from Solace know what's going on here. All of this is difficult enough, and it would complicate things. Besides, I certainly have no wish to have everyone back in Absalon is laughing at me!"
"Prideful grimalkin," I snorted, but I agreed to his terms…if only because it seemed excessively cruel to Raistlin (its true, I do have something like a conscience) to tell someone like Burrfoot these sorts of details. I could just imagine the reaction Tasslehoff would have, and I could certainly imagine my familiar being dead from pure mortification.
He found himself a comfortable and dignified position on the covers after I got out of the bed and started getting dressed. The tale started from the very beginning, going slowly and as matter-of-fact as he could muster, looking in an obscure direction at nothing in particular the entire time. And even though he hadn't gotten far before I was ready to leave and the history had to pause for a little while, his story already seemed nothing less than fantastical.
"Hold that thought," I stopped him after he finished talking about his mother's death (I finished getting dressed before that, but he seemed rather sensitive concerning the subject of his mother, so I allowed him to finish that far). "We'll need to go out and meet the others. I'll warn you if you haven't already figured it out; Burrfoot knows your name and that you talk, but he doesn't know that it's you unless you let it slip while I was asleep."
He made a grunt. "That makes things troublesome."
"How troublesome? Was your voice the same before you turned into a cat?"
"Close enough to raise questions. And if those two friends of yours are about, then I wont be able to disguise it without raising suspicion."
"Burrfoot doesn't strike me as hard to fool, and Quitha and Mabon are naïve enough. You could disguise your voice and claim you have a cold from being out in the cold and wet so long—"
"Colds don't work that way!"
"—Or you could simply say that your voice is how you obtained your name. Just think up something. You're a smart grimalkin. I'm sure deception is one of your most honed skills."
As it turned out, he didn't have to; Tasslehoff had wondered off at some point and my friends had lost track of him. Now having a deeper understanding of what a kender was (Raistlin wasted no time in explaining that to me, and I believed every word because of the chase earlier), I was a little concerned about what sort of repercussions his presence in a world that he didn't belong in could occur. Especially since I saw what happens when caffeine is added to his system, something that Raistlin admitted he had not seen himself while on Krynn.
Well… at least he isn't my problem any more.
Mabon and Quitha were already tired from the day that they spent with the kender, Mabon especially. Buzz chirped away, as energetic as ever, so I wasn't terribly worried about them. Actually, I rather preferred it to the chipper attitude they had before I went to bed. Even in their muted states I was able to convince them to go out and do things with Raistlin and I. I chose to go to a nice restaurant since I felt ravenous.
It was a nice meal, and no one was even acting up. At some point, I was even able to whisper to Raistlin to ask him where he'd been… since I didn't manage for him to explain that before.
He gave a low growl and responded, tone low, "I went to Krynn momentarily… following the smell of—" He paused for a while. "—of spiced potatoes. I don't know where I ended up; it was not Solace like I expected. But it was Krynn. I recognized the moons. I don't know how I came back, precisely."
I nodded and decided to leave it at that for now. So there seemed to have been some sort of gate or portal in Claripost to Krynn… either that or all those rumors about mist making natural portals between planes of existence was true. I didn't exactly have enough information to go on to discern exactly what happened, so I didn't know. But I did know that I wanted to be able to discern it, that I was intensely curious (as a cat maybe) about this whole situation.
Hell, we're going to be in Claripost for a few days, right? And I like it here well enough. Why not?
When the others retired to bed, I was able to have Raistlin continue his history. Meanwhile, I was studying in Claripost's public library, mostly through newpaper microfilm and such, about any strange happenings in the vacation spot. I was greeted with a wealth of interesting—and dubious—information. There were books and pamphlets and flyers detailing ghost story after ghost story, and with just a little comparison between sources, I could tell how different the same story can be told depending on who's telling it. Strange monsters, ghosts, ghouls and other random undead, astral plane creatures… the list goes on.
It was, admittedly, hard to divide my concentration between research and Raistlin. Several times I've had to ask him to repeat himself, and just as many times I've lost my place in what I was reading and had to start all over again. It was a little hard to get anything done, but I wasn't really willing to give up one in favor of the other at the moment.
Raistlin stopped his account of his Test in the Tower of High Sorcery abruptly while I was flipping through pages. "Wait! What was that picture just now? Go back!"
I frowned since I was flipping through a paper to get to the continuation of an article from the front page, but I flipped back since he was probably going to complain if I didn't. A picture of Doctor Verobsance, face painted with her favorite make-up, popped up on the display among some other people in wizard robes and Claripost in the background, not looking a day younger than she did when I turned my project in to her for the semester. My eyes grew wide with disbelief.
The newspaper was dated sixty years ago.
"By the gods…" I gasped and began reading the article accompanying it. She was with a group of wizards that were researching the mists of Claripost, and in fact she was leading the research team. The goal of the research was, apparently, to discern if certain entities in other planes—particularly spirits of the dead and even certain gods—could be contacted more easily through the use of the mists. I shook my head in shock.
"Nothing strange about her age, you'd said." I heard a smirk in Raistlin's voice.
"I don't understand…" I looked over the picture, trying to discern if maybe it was just one of her older relatives. No, she looked exactly like her. Every wrinkle and mark on her face was exactly the same. "This can't be… She's human!"
"Maybe she is, and maybe she isn't. But if she isn't human, Ives, then how isn't she hasn't been aging?"
"There are ways, I suppose. But most ways of humans continuing their ages are…" I paused. "Maybe she's had training as a druid or something similar. I've heard that after a certain point, their merging with nature makes them eternally young."
"Perhaps she is a druid, but I've known people who draw their powers from the wild, and she does not have the same sort of magical pressure as they do. Their magic is more divine and are affected by that which surrounds them. She, on the other hand, affects the Weave around herself. If she had done studies in druidic magic, it was abandoned long ago."
I went silent, staring at the old picture of Verobsance and feeling absolutely disturbed to my core. Sure, I might have feared Verobsance somewhat, but so did every other student in the university. When Raistlin had first raised questions concerning her, I just thought the air she gave off made him a little paranoid. Never had I imagined that there would ever be anything to it!
As the hours went on, I changed the trajectory of my search to the research that Verobsance had done in Claripost sixty years ago. The search didn't take me far; apparently, the team ended their search after a year of study due to budget problems. This frustrated me just enough to be tired of the library and announce that we were leaving. Raistlin didn't complain; I think he was tired of getting disparaging looks from the librarian while he recounted his past to me.
We spent the rest of the night seeing the sites until all the businesses closed, then I went ahead and went back to the hotel took a nap. The next several days in Claripost was spent similarly, bouncing between having fun with my friends, studying in the library, and doing personal investigations around Claripost. Raistlin seemed to have actually enjoyed it, even though he would never admit it (he would never admit that I was near running him ragged by being so active, either). However, I don't think I was really getting that much closer to an answer, and when it came time for us to leave, I was seriously considering staying behind to continue my search for the rest of the break.
Buzz convinced me out of the notion of staying, saying that I didn't have the money for it. Damn Venetian pigeon just had to be right, didn't he?
The train ride back was much calmer than the one getting there, if only because no one mentioned my gnomish friends this time around, and I wasn't in a flying rage, threatening bodily harm upon the others. Hell, Raistlin even seemed to be in a genuinely good mood, only darkened by the fact that he might have been just as disappointed in our having to leave as I was.
Back at the university, however, I went back into a flying rage. I had just bought food the night before we left, and some of it had spoiled during our vacation. Arg!
Yeah, I know it's been a year (and I also know this is a little short). But I (still) don't have my DL books with me save for one, and school was very intrusive… not to mention a menagerie of other things. On the other hand, there might be more updates since I'm doing a chapter of something on ff-net a week (every Friday).