Your imaginary friend (hematite_cross) wrote in taraleebarker,
Your imaginary friend
hematite_cross
taraleebarker

STORY, part 5

It's been some time, but I think I finally have the next section of the written story finished. Really trying to work on this writing...



Reave spent a long time getting ready in front of the mirror.

Tara liked his outfit. He didn’t wear the black leathers today, instead choosing a royal purple shirt with fancy cuffs and almost form-fitting black pants, both of smooth silk. She liked the armor he wore under the finery better though, an incredibly fine mesh chain shirt of a silvery metal she didn’t recognize. His hair looked different displayed against the chain. Longer. One didn’t notice its length so much next to his dark-colored clothing. But the silks were nice too, especially once he accented them a little. He already wore a silver and onyx ring, and he added to that by drawing out from under his chain shirt a fancy silver and gold necklace displaying a raven clutching at lightning bolts. It looked somewhat heraldry-like, though Tara didn’t think Draevarkin had shown her any crests like that one. Then he strapped on a black sword belt holding a long curved sheath, and matching black leather boots. He drew the sword a short amount, experimentally, revealing a blade of what looked like pure iron. Then it was back to viewing his appearance in the mirror, making certain that everything hung correctly.

He should wear blue instead, she thought, to match those piercing eyes. She loved blue.

She was going to get to travel through space! The thought popped into her head and she shifted around until she found her haversack, laying on the bed with her since she hadn’t remembered to take it off before diving into the pillows. Lady Ai had mentioned that they needed things to keep them entertained. She could shop for new things a whole lot better if she remembered what she already had. With this in mind, she began rooting through the pack, spreading its contents about the bed and floor below as she sought ideas for things she didn’t have, but might want.

She glanced up from this activity to find Reave finished with his own preparations. “What should I wear?” she wondered, thinking appearance might be important today for some particular reason. He moved closer and, after a moment looking over the scattered clothes on the bed, indicated her entertainer’s outfit. She smiled happily. She liked that outfit. It was so bright and colorful.

Clothes chosen, she half-climbed, half-tumbled out of the bed, then turned her back on the god to change. She wondered if there was a bathing chamber of any sort on the therian ship. Probably not, from what little she knew of ships. But that’s what magic was for. A quick cantrip left her fresh and clean. Another took all hints of knots and tangles from her hair. Then a thought made her glance to Reave for potential censor. He, however, seemed to find nothing wrong or wasteful in her use of magic for such matters. Which just proved yet again that Draevarkin and Master Canor had been far too uptight about such things.

She turned back to her haversack, and frowned at the next problem that presented itself. Her side pouch, and its little quirk.

“Does it rain in space?” she wondered aloud.

“I do not believe so,” came Reave’s reply.

Her frown deepened. She’d have to figure out some solution. Most of her fun little items were in that side pouch.

“Why do you ask?”

“Oh, well, when Alathorn got this haversack, he was only really interested in the main bag, cause of the one he had not being big enough to fit an entire body, so he was okay getting one with a side pouch that didn’t work quite like it should. Actually, neither side pouch does, but the other is great, cause it makes apples. Ten every day. I love apples! But this one won’t let you open to take things out of it—though it’s easy to put things in—unless it’s a rainy day. So if it never rains, then I won’t be able to get into it at all, only I’m sure I have lots of interesting things in there.” She contemplated the pouch, thinking hard. “I’ve tried just pouring water over the bag, but that doesn’t work. Do you think maybe I could make it rain enough to fool the magic? I can’t do weather spells, but maybe I could do something little. I know how to create water from the air. And I can do some mist. There should be some way to mix spells like that into something like rain.”

“I suppose it would be worth a try,” Reave agreed, after she’d waited a moment for his response.

Happily, Tara plopped down on the floor and began working out in her head, and occasionally directly with the magical energies around, exactly how to make such a spell work. She’d have to concentrate… First a mist. But push a bunch of it together, try to make it a tiny cloud. Okay, that wasn’t working. More mist. There! Now water. Not a deluge. Just enough to make the little cloud thick with it, until it’d start spilling out of it… There! That was a fine little sprinkle! Eagerly, she grabbed up her haversack, and reached a hand into the depths of the quirky little side pouch. And her hand caught hold of an item! She laughed with joy and began pulling everything she could find from within the pouch, careful to keep the rain going so that the effect would last.

“It is becoming quite soaked,” Reave commented, his tone off-hand.

She glanced up at him, only now noticing that he had stepped near, occupying himself with shifting the items from her pouch further away so that she had room to pull forth more things. “I think it’s almost empty,” she told him. Very quickly now, she rooted through the bottom of the pouch until she was assured that it was, indeed empty. Then she allowed the magic to depart, and the rain and mist began to dissipate.

The room was a sodden mess. Puddles of water soaked the wooden floor. The bed dripped small streams of liquid, its cushions partly deflated from moisture, many of the materials looking near-ruined. Tara’s own things had faired little better. Clothes and blankets and a myriad of various knick-knacks and toys, all covered with water. Oh! Her little journal! She grabbed up the small book, but by luck it had managed to be protected by all but minor cover damage.

She looked up again to Reave. He was dry, and seemed not upset in the least. A small giggle escaped her lips. “Want to see what Lady Ai thinks?”

“Very well.”

They ventured out into the hallway, discovering that Tara’s mist had crept outside the confines of the stateroom. It made a neat effect, the little wisps of fog. Already fading, though. Tara wondered if there might be a way to make it stay. She glanced at the stairwell, knowing quite well that Lady Ai’s rooms were one level up behind the large ornate door across from the doors leading out to the deck. But the stair went both directions, not to mention the narrow passageways leading off on this level. And they’d been warned not to stray from the guest areas.

Would Reave allow them to ‘accidentally’ get lost, trying to find Lady Ai?

“Do you think that Lady Ai might be down near that in-gin room she mentioned last night?” Tara tried. “It sounded like an important room that she might want to check on personally…” She looked at the god with wide eyes, wondering—should he be upset with her about the suggestion—if it’d be alright to pretend she hadn’t really intended to go against Lady Ai’s instructions.

Although… she wasn’t really going against anything, now that she thought about it. When showing them to their rooms the night before, Lady Ai had mentioned a number of ‘sensitive’ rooms contained within the ship. And during the brief tour of the deck, cargo hold where Paug was staying, kitchen, quick passageways past the crew quarters, Lady Ai’s rooms, and the staterooms there had been an implication that these were the only allowable areas for guests to wander. But the cat-lady hadn’t precisely forbidden them to explore. She’d just made references like how it would disturb the crew, or interfere with the ‘smooth operations of the ship,’ if they entered those sensitive areas. All diplomatic talk that probably meant the same thing as orders, sure, but was Tara really expected to understand diplomacy-talk?

“She could be anywhere on this ship, I suppose,” Reave allowed even as Tara was finishing up her mental justifications.

Really? He was going to go for it? Tara grinned hugely and skipped towards the stairway.

“Tara,” the god’s voice, slightly chiding, made her freeze in place. “Lady Ai seemed… concerned that we might disturb her crew. As guests then, it is only polite we make some effort to be quiet.”

If she’d had any doubts before, Tara knew it now. Reave was the best god ever.

Unfortunately, they had barely reached the stairway to look down the curving descent before the cat-lady of mention appeared, descending the stairs from the floor above.

Ah well. Maybe another time.

“Oh! Lady Ai!” Tara called out. “I got things a little bit wet on accident. See, I was trying to get into my rainy-day pouch, and for that it had to rain and…” she went on with explanations for a few minutes, while the noble lady contemplated the hallways and what she could see of the open stateroom beyond.

“It is fine Tara,” Lady Ai noted at length. Her voice was calm. If she were upset, she hid it very well. “Though I will ask you not to do such a thing again. If my engineers were to see this, it would upset them greatly, thinking something wrong with the ship. Much of it is run off of steam, you see, and the mist looks very like a leak. As to the mess, I will have someone bring down a couple of mops. We’ll see what there is to be done once you have the water cleaned away.” It was very clear that she expected Tara to take care of her own mess, though her glance also included Reave.

And he seemed not at all pleased, though he didn’t actually do anything but quirk an eyebrow towards the noble-lady.

Lady Ai should be more careful talking to the god, Tara thought. But at least the cat-lady wasn’t sounding all upset about the water. It would be such a pain to travel with someone who got uptight about every minor little incident. Especially since things like this were so very easy to fix. “Mops?” she giggled at Lady Ai. “Why use mops? Why not just use magic?” It shouldn’t be any more trouble to dispel water than it was to summon it up to begin with. The same cantrips she’d used to clean herself could be used to clean what was left of the mess when the water was gone. Maybe a modified mending spell or two, if something was trying to be stubborn about showing water damage.

It took a great deal of concentration and a number of spells, but this was hardly the first time Tara had used magic to clean up after herself. In only a short time, she had the hallway and room looking very similar to before she’d started, though the room now lay littered with her items, of course. “There!” she announced joyfully, ignoring the momentary dizziness when she spun to face her companions.

“Impressive,” Lady Ai noted, and the comment did not appear condescending. Her glance towards Tara actually showed some measure of respect.

That did confuse Tara. “It’s just easy magic,” she shrugged.

“Magic users are not so very common among my people,” Lady Ai explained, “and most are specialized as core artificers. On this ship, the head engineer has what magical knowledge is required to work with the core—again, highly specialized—and I believe the Captain knows some small magics. I would be surprised to find any other magic users aboard.”

“Really?” Tara blinked. “What about healers?”

“The First Mate is a doctor as well, for when there is need.”

“A doctor? You mean someone who stitches up wounds and uses herbs and medicines? Oooh! I always wanted to learn about things like that. Do you think she’d teach me?”

“The Dolosus has only a small crew, relatively. She will be quite busy, I fear.”

“But I do magical healing! I learned basic healing magic first thing back when I was a Shrine Maiden. We could compare!” One of the best things about knowing how to heal, Tara had decided long ago, was it caused more people to be willing to talk to you. The theory did not fail this time. Lady Ai nodded, and promised to see that the First Mate take some time to speak with Tara.

“That is, of course, assuming that you have decided to join us on our return to Theria.” The cat-lady turned to Reave, her expression inquisitive.

“We have decided to accept your invitation,” he replied with a slight incline of his head.

“Excellent! I will so enjoy the chance to converse with you longer. For the moment, however, I do have some preparations I need to attend to. Do you have any other concerns for me?”

“Just shopping!” Tara announced. Remembering the reason she’d emptied out her haversack to begin with, she bounced back into the room and being sifting through everything, trying to gain an idea as to what she owned.

“Very well.” Lady Ai’s voice carried in from the hall. “If you’ve any particular necessities that my supply chief might miss, please let her know so that she might include their purchase while she sees to the ship’s needs. But I’ve always found individual entertainments best to search out oneself, so I highly recommend a hunt through town to see what might interest you. We have, not quite the entire day to explore. The Duke has bowed out of a second meeting, so the Dolosus will lift off tonight.”

Once Lady Ai had departed, Tara and Reave climbed the stairs and exited through one of two smaller doors across from Lady Ai’s large ornate room. Tara bounced across the aft side of the deck to the large cargo hold doors in the center, calling down the open hole for Paug. After a moment, large clawed hands appeared on the sides of the opening, and the weren pulled himself up to join them.

“We’re going to the city to shop!” Tara told him. “You wanted books, so you should come too. And anything else you might need for the trip, Lady Ai said, except for food. Oh! That’s if you’re coming along. Are you? Reave and I are going with Lady Ai. Don’t you think it’d be so neat to fly through space and visit other planets? I’m glad we’re leaving tonight, even if it will make less time to explore the city. But maybe we should get some breakfast before going out. Or we could eat in the city, though city food is expensive. Which reminds me, I gotta get some money before I go shopping,” she pondered that for a moment before putting it from her mind as a problem that would be solved later. “But you are coming, aren’t you Paug?”

Paug paused for a long moment before replying. “Paug would like to visit new places. “

“Oh yea! That’ll be even more fun. Let’s get some food and go explore then!”

“Food is good. Paug wonder if all kitty-ladies have names. Paug never taste kitty-lady before.”

Tara blinked towards the weren. He really was serious about this whole eating people thing, wasn’t he? It hardly seemed—real—that someone would just stand there and mention such a thing so casually. But one thing the squirrel-people had taught her was that you couldn’t really expect someone not human to quite understand how humans thought, or expect them to think the same way as you did. So you just had to speak carefully to them and make certain they understood you by whatever ways of thinking they did have. “It’s very rude to eat people when you’re going to be taking a trip on their ship,” she tried, shaking her head at him as her mind raced to figure out a way to convince the weren to agree.

“One might consider it lacking in diplomacy as well,” Reave added, though his voice sounded more amused than serious. Tara flashed a grateful smile his way. She’d forgotten that she was teaching Paug about diplomacy.

Paug turned his head to one side. “Dip-lo-ma-tic not much fun.”

That was very hard to argue with. “Can you just be diplomatic until the ship lifts off then?” Tara wondered. She figured she could mention to Lady Ai the importance of having all the cat-ladies introduce themselves to Paug before then.

“Paug will be dip-lo-ma-tic until ship lifts,” he agreed.

“I would think the kitchen would have something prepared,” Reave commented. “Though the crew likely ate some time ago, a good hostess would have something ready for her guests.”

So it was off to the kitchen. Narrow passageways connected the kitchen both to the stairs in front of the staterooms and to the side doors of the cargo hold, but the passages near the stairs were wider, so for Paug’s sake they went that way. Once they found the kitchen, there was, indeed, food ready, though mostly dried or highly salted, food that had been stored for some time. Still, Tara and Paug dug into the meal vigorously.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Tara asked the god, wondering if he was just being generous to Paug’s appetite. At first glance, it seemed there was more than enough for all of them, but the weren was going through it at an alarming pace.

“I have no need to eat,” Reave replied, “and no desire to sample this fare.”

“Yea, my apples are better.” Remembering that her pouch would be refilled by now, Tara happily pulled out an apple and munched on it along with the meal.

“We’ll have fresher food for a while after we restock,” the cook mentioned. “Then it’ll depend on how long we go in between ports. Just in case, we’ve always enough stored food to keep us going, but it does get boring on the tongue.”

“What’s your name?” Tara wondered, smiling brightly at the cat-lady. A quick set of introductions commenced, after which Tara decided there was no real reason to wait until she saw Lady Ai again to mention Paug’s particularity with names. After all, what if she forgot? “Could you please pass around word to everyone on board to drop by and introduce themselves to Paug here at some point before we lift off? See, Paug thinks anyone without a name is food, and Lady Ai probably wouldn’t like it if he accidentally ate one of her crew.”

The cook stared up at the weren. “Ah… I will make certain to do that.”

That was taken care of then. Tara smiled happily. She hated having to try to remember something important. It was much more fun to do things when you thought of them. “How long do you think we have to explore the city before the ship takes off?” she asked the cook.

“I… couldn’t say precisely. I have been told that the restocking will be complete in six to eight hours.”

“Okay. Come on Paug. We’ve got six to eight hours to find what we want and get back here.”

“Paug hurry then.” The weren appeared somewhat alarmed at the time limit and immediately rose and headed back out to the deck, wide steps moving him along quickly. By the time Tara and Reave reached the deck, he was off the ship, and as they made their way more slowly down the plank, they saw Paug all-out running through the docks towards the wall that separated them from the main city. He didn’t bother curving around to the main gate on this side, instead leaping the wall itself in his hurry.

Tara giggled. “I guess Paug’s afraid the books will run out.” With her magic boots, she figured she could have kept up with the weren up to the wall at least. But since Reave was coming along, she decided it better to keep to his pace. That’d make it easier not to get left behind. “Do you have any place you want to go?” she asked the god.

“I have no particular goal at this time.”

“Oh.” What did she want to do then? “Should we try to catch up with Paug? It’d be more fun exploring together, don’t you think?”

“If that is what you wish,” Reave replied with the barest shrug of shoulders.

“Okay!”

It wasn’t hard to spot where the weren had gone. All along his path, morning traffic was scattered to the sides of the road, people staring or gossiping at his wake. Tara and Reave followed, the path leading somewhat sporadically towards the main market district. They finally caught up to the Paug where he’d apparently stopped to purchase a huge tub of beef jerky from the rather nervous proprietor. Here in immediate view of Paug, the morning crowds were much worse at their stopping and staring.

“It’s awfully rude,” Tara frowned. “Sky ships from other planets land here all the time. Shouldn’t people be used to strange creatures? And it’s not like Paug is all that strange. He’s just kinda big and hairy and maybe a little scary looking with the claws and tusks and all, but not so much that people should keep acting like that.”

“I believe most of the travelers to this planet, since the time of the Champions at least, have been either human or the occasional elf. I doubt the majority of the populace has seen even a dwarf or goblin. Or is it gnomes in the Empire?”

“It’s still rude,” Tara maintained. And rude people deserved lessons. Especially rude people who allowed themselves to become easily distracted away from the things they should be paying attention to. “I need spending money!” she announced. “I’ll be back, okay?”

Reave looked down at her for a moment. “Be careful.”

“Of course!” With that, she skipped off into the crowd, searching for, and quickly finding, an out of the way nook where she could tuck herself away while no one was watching.
Temporarily out of sight, Tara cast a simple illusion, dulling her hair to a common shade of brown, and muting the colors of her clothes. Bland meant unnoticed. How many times had Jonus drilled that into her? But whatever spell or make-up or disguise one used, it was the acting that made it or broke it. Which brought her to the difficult part. Tara took a deep, calming breath and carefully schooled her expression into a calm, blank mask. Then she walked out of the hiding nook, not trying to hide, but with no spring to her stride, no obvious excitement or lack thereof. Just a nameless city dweller going on basic everyday errands in her boring pointless life.

It’d be downright depressing if she hadn’t already spotted a likely target: a somewhat better-off looking manservant with a fancy purse and beady eyes glued on the nearby weren. It was simplicity itself to step up next to him, neck stretched out as if she were merely staring at Paug as well. A flash of knife and manservant’s purse was in her hand, then up her sleeve. Such a nice looking cloth. She sighed softly as she walked away. But Jonus had been very particular on that point. Never keep the pouches or anything inside them too unusual to call your own.

Which was stupid, Tara decided suddenly. At least when one had a convenient rainy day pouch in one’s haversack that seemed completely empty except when it rained. It’d be much more likely for someone to catch her stuffing the empty pouch through the cracks of a crate or some such hidey hole than it’d be for them to discover her bag’s secret. Jonus hadn’t agreed when she’d pointed that out to him, but she wasn’t with him anymore, so there was no reason to follow his silly rules.

So, Tara tossed the pouch entire inside the side opening of her haversack, and in much less time than normal was searching out other rude gawkers far too distracted for their own good.

After the third take, Tara decided that she was getting bored. Of course, the longer she pressed her luck, the more likely things would get much more exciting. But she really didn’t like jail, and what if Lady Ai and Reave took off without her?

Anyway, hadn’t the god told her to be careful?

So, Tara followed Reave and Paug a bit longer until she found an empty bit of alley where she could drop the illusions. Relaxing, she flounced and skipped out again to Reave’s side.

“Red suits you much better,” was Reave’s only comment on her return.

“Tara Lee Barker!” Paug lumbered over to her, carrying a large crate full of green apples. “Paug buy apples for Tara Lee Barker.”

Tara blinked as him. She hadn’t told him that her haversack gave her new ripe apples every day. And it was off-season for apples, so he had to have paid a lot for an off-planet shipment. “Thank you Paug! I love apples! You didn’t pay a lot for them did you?”

“Not a lot. Paug trade five coin.”

Five coin? Even in season, that was an awfully good price for that many apples. Had he scared the poor vendor that badly? Or…

“What… type of coin Paug?”

“Soft chewy kind.” Paug reached into his own haversack and pulled out a handful of coin to show her. He pulled a full-sized gold piece from the handful to show her.

The vendor had cheated him! Immediately upset on the weren’s behalf, Tara forced a small smile. “Thank you for the apples Paug. But I can’t carry a crate like that easy. Do you mind holding on to them until we get back to the ship?”

“Paug doesn’t mind.”

“Have you found your books yet?” Tara wondered while she tried to remember where there’d been an apple seller that Paug had stopped by.

“Scribe-man say books at pawn shop. Paug not find pawn shop yet, but Reave say he have directions now.”

“Okay. I’ll meet you there then!” With another flash of smile, Tara turned and back trailed towards where she thought the apple seller might be.

Now, how to teach him not to cheat her friends? Stealing from targets chosen for already being distracted was one thing. Taking something from a specific, presumably alert, vendor involved a more complex plan. When she’d run around with Jonus, his plans for such usually involved her playing distraction while he managed the theft. She was good at distraction. But she didn’t have Jonus now.

Tara frowned, still not having a plan in mind by the time she’d reached the vendor. It had to be the right one. After all, how many would really be selling overpriced off-season fruit? And the crates matched the one Paug carried, though there were smaller baskets as well.

Well, she decided, there was more than one way to steal.

Carefully, Tara fished around her belt pouch for the one coin that she did keep there. She blinked to find two instead. The gold she was looking for, and a small silver as well. With a grin, Tara slipped the silver into her money pouch. Then she turned to the vendor and demanded a crate of apples the size Paug carried for a single gold.

Fifteen minutes of haggling later, Tara walked away with two baskets (not quite as much as a crate) full of apples and short one gold piece. Awkwardly she tried one apple as she walked. Tart, as green apples always were, but not bad. But the two baskets were just too much of a pain to carry. She distributed the apples from one of the baskets to random beggars and children then ditched the empty container without a second thought. With an easier load, Tara had no trouble rooting through her belt pouch. This time, the gold piece had a copper along with it. “Just a copper?” she muttered. “Doesn’t anyone keep their gold next to other gold?” She shrugged philosophically. At least she had a few more apples for what Paug had paid. That was something.

Now she just had to catch up to Paug and Reave…

If he’d asked, Tara would have told Paug where the pawn shop was herself without Reave having to ferret out the information. She knew where every odds-and-ends type store in the city was located, such being easy places to sell off items of interest… though Jonus had banned her from them after discovering that she tended to end up trading for other interesting items rather than returning with coin. Thoughts speculated eagerly over what she might discover at the store today, as her feet quickly took her through a maze of alleys and streets. Almost before she knew it, she had arrived.

Tara pushed open the narrow wooden door, blinking to adjust her eyes to the darker interior of the somewhat ramshackle store, shelves and counters displayed in a haphazard manner, every surface covered in various items, both strange and mundane.

“May I help you?” A voice called out from across the room.

Tara frowned at the small balding man. Wordlessly, she stepped back out of the doorway, letting the door reclose. She stared about the city streets.

The shop was currently empty of all but the proprietor. And there was no sign of Reave or Paug outside. Had they already come and gone? She poked her head back inside.

“Is there something you want?” The man called out again.

“Was there a black-haired guy and a large… um… troll-like person just here?”

The man blinked. “Ah… no…”

She let the door close again. The scribe had said the pawn shop on the northwest side of the market district, hadn’t he? This was the only shop that she knew of that could possibly fit that description. She swallowed heavily, eyes scanning about in the hope of seeing the large weren’s head towering above the crowd.

Nothing. No Paug. No Reave. No signs that they’d been by this area any time recently.

Had they… left her?

She took a deep breath. They couldn’t just up and leave. The ship wasn’t going anywhere for hours yet. Unless… what if Lady Ai had decided to leave early? What if a messenger had found Reave and Paug but not Tara? Lady Ai was obviously more interested in Reave than anyone else. She’d have no reason to ask the ship to tarry for Tara’s sake.

Reave had said she could come with him. And he was the god. The ship wouldn’t take off before he wanted it to.

But he hadn’t said he’d wait for her. Just that she could come if she wanted to.

She began walking, a fast walk that shifted quickly into an all out run. Yelps and complaints sounded around as her forgotten basket banged into the occasional passer, but Tara barely noticed. Noises faded into the background, overshadowed by a dull roar that seemed to sound in her ears. She had to get there. She just had to get back to the ship before…

“Tara?”

The world crashed back into focus as Tara found herself staring up into the pale blue eyes of her god.

“Tara Lee Barker say meet at pawn shop.” Paug lumbered up beside Reave, tilting his head in inquiry as he looked down at her. “Not at pawn shop yet,” he noted.

Tara blinked, shaking her head slightly to get her thoughts in order. “I already was at the shop,” she explained after a moment. “You guys are taking the main streets, aren’t you?” she realized out loud. She shook her head again. So silly! “Allies are quicker. But come on, we need to get your books Paug. Oh! And I talked to the apple vendor and he thought you might have overpaid for your apples, so he gave us these too.” Tara held up the basket, then blinked at it. Only half the apples remained. Ah well. At least the apple seller was out a more appropriate number of fruit for the price Paug had paid.

Paug placed the basket on top of the crate he already carried and they continued towards the shop.

“Are you alright Tara?” Reave inquired softly as they walked.

“Course. Why wouldn’t I be?”

He merely looked at her.

Her face heated, and she glanced downwards. “I mean, I was just… I wasn’t sure where you two were is all. So I was looking for you, and I found you.” With an effort, she brought her head up again to boldly declare, “So everything’s fine!”

Reave’s only response was a casual shrug of shoulders. He didn’t press further, and upon reaching the pawn shop yet again, Tara was able to distract herself with assisting Paug in his hunt for books. The proprietor of the shop was certainly no help, staring at Paug and gaping like an idiot to simple questions concerning his stock. It occurred to Tara that maybe the apple seller deserved his extra gold. After all, he’d actually been brave enough to cheat the large weren. Everyone else they ran into here seemed rather annoyingly timid.

Which meant that Tara felt absolutely no compunctions about using the pawn shop proprietor’s fear in gaining both her and Paug discounts on their purchases.

The shop had three books available. Only one was in a language Tara recognized, but that apparently didn’t bother the weren. When she asked, he simple pulled forth the metal cap he’d been wearing at the library, plopped it on his head, and demonstrated reading the titles to all three books.

Tara clapped at the display. She loved magical items. Thinking of that, she tried casting a magical detection spell in the shop to see if anything stood out. She noted a minor glow in the walls—probably a fire-ward. The only other magic, however, was that which they brought with them. Paug’s sack and metal cap. Tara’s sack and boots—she had more magical items, but they were shielded by the magical space where they were held. And Reave’s sword, the onyx ring on his hand, and something hidden under his shirt. Tara recalled the fine mesh shirt he wore under his clothes.

She had such interesting companions!

Tara helped Paug bargain for the books, then bought a music box for herself. The box had a broken note, but she thought she might take it apart and see if she could figure out how to fix it. “Aren’t you getting anything?” She wondered, skipping over to where Reave leaned next to a brass suit of armor. “There’s gotta be something here you can entertain yourself with on the trip.”

His eyes caught at hers and for a moment everything seemed… still. Then he smiled slightly, and Tara found herself smiling back blankly in response. “I require no items to entertain myself,” the god noted quietly.

“Oh,” Tara blinked as her thoughts started spinning in their normal babble. “Should we go back to the ship then?”

“Are you finished shopping?”

“Yea, I can’t think of anything I really want right now. Anyway, I kinda put the extra money I—picked up—in my rainy day pouch, so I’d have to make it rain again to get at it.”
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