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The Here & Now




I didn’t like hiding the fact that I was still drinking from Bast, so I didn’t. Instead, I just drank as I normally did and ignored her when she said that I was killing myself slowly. I knew she was right, but my problem wasn’t my problem, you know? It was like it was someone else’s life I was living at the moment, and it had felt that way for some time now. There wasn’t going to be any magical change of heart that would make me suddenly want to stop drinking, but I did sip from my bottle a little less often than I’d been doing for the sake of peace and quiet. In between bitching at me and giving me sass, Bast told me stories about things she’d seen that even I would find unlikely, and I didn’t doubt that the two moons above were actually different planets. It wasn’t true as far as anyone knew, but still.

 

Over the course of the three days it took for me and Bast to get to Coranett, we decided that it was best for her to come in the guise of a Humanoid so she could pose as my partner. Since she believed me about Stella leaving me rather than sticking to her assumption Bast didn’t really have a problem with it. She considered it helping me and so did I, which made it unanimous and got her off my back about my drinking for the most part. By the time we actually got to the city we’d run into quite a few groups of interesting people that were all shapes and sizes. I learned that Chorets weren’t as exclusive as I’d thought, but then again there weren’t many Humanoids if any wearing any of the jewelry associated with the Church. It took some cajoling and a few free songs, but I was able to get my freedom and liberty pieces out to the public so well that I could hear some people humming the tune as Bast and I got past the town’s main checkpoint. We weren’t searched or anything, but someone did question my companion and whatever the fuck she was. Apparently, cats don’t walk on two legs, but Dogs do. She played it off as being foreign and no one could correct her since they didn’t get a real country from her. Bast almost got herself detained until I told them that she was my Partner and that she was difficult at the best of times. It got us through, I’ll say that much.

 

There wasn’t much for us to do once we got into town. The streets were alive with the hustle and bustle of a big town, but religious symbolism and idolatry were everywhere. Triquetrae were splayed on almost any available surface in green, yellow, and pink while scripture verses were strung across doorways and alleys. It was honestly nuts with how deep they were into their backward religion, but I wasn’t going to judge them based on their idiocy. I preferred to judge them on the pure hypocrisy of their culture in and of itself, which low-key made me a racist. However, in my defense, even my own Partner had been taken aback by learning that I was bisexual, and my Guide from the River had left me to die for it as well. And they anally raped girls for the sake of letting priests steal their virginities. That was fucked up too. It actually inspired me. Inspired me with song!

 

Backwards FuttBuck by Gatian Gauner

 

O’ that chick was kinda silly, suckin’ on his little willy

Didn’t know that what he did was super wrong!

Oh he took by the waist an’ then he took her by the face

and then he kept on sinnin’ all night long!

 

O’ the Chorets are a race who are all ‘bout savin’ face

But they don’t stand up til you’re fuckin’ done!

Don’t you sell your Partner, partner,

End up somewhere darker, darker

Than the bottom of a Priest’s black he~art!

 

Now all them rapey Bishops be slackin’ on their push-ups

So why don’t you go an’ take ‘em down?

‘Cause they’ll surely rape your daughter

Throw her hymen to the slaughter

And call that horrid shit normal in this town!

 

WEEELL~

 

I for one am done right now this song is just ‘bout through

But let me tell ya partner, ‘cause here’s the plan part two:

Burnin’ down the churches then we hang him till he lurches

No more Priest gon’ tell y’all what to do!

 

And then you repeat the song until the churches get burned down, or at least that’s what I planned on doing. I never said I fully understood the Church and what it did, but I knew that parts of it were poisonous, if not straight up rotten. The best thing to do with a moldy piece of bread is to burn the whole loaf, so that’s what I planned on doing. There were other options, of course, but I’d told Stella that I was going to set her free, and despite her leaving me, I was a man of my word. Finally in the heart of the Church of Chorell, finally where I needed to be, I took up a seat in a tavern with Bast and started working on getting us some free drinks with costly entertainment. Apparently I was a little out of practice, but it was nothing that a few seconds of tuning and a brisk glass of water couldn’t fix. Before I knew it, I was pumping out Gauner’s Grovel like it was second nature. Mostly because it was, but you know.

 

Bast bobbed her head along with the rhythm of the music and we started to garner a crowd before long. Some people gave us drinks, others gave pieces of money. Some threw ripped underwear, which I think is actually a Choret thing because the Ponies and Sotans don’t do that now that I think about it. Outside of the things we were given, nothing got thrown at me and people seemed to enjoy the tamer songs. I figured they would appreciate some Jewish hymns if I could remember them, but I was pretty sure I needed a balalaika to make the songs sound right. In any case, Bast and I secured ourselves a room for the night with neither of us choosing to sleep in the bed. I wanted to sleep on my bed roll and Bast wanted to sleep on me, so I helped us both out and we got a good night’s rest. Well, I say that, but the clock on the wall says that I’m up past midnight and I need a drink, but my pack is across the room. Guess I’ll have to do this one sober.

 

☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽

 

Our first day in Coranett started and ended much the same as the next two. It took a little while, but I started to lay the groundwork for a fanbase in Chorell with Bast by my side at the inn we were staying at. I didn’t know the name of the place, but I recognized the symbols well enough, so I was able to get to and from the inn with little to no problem. Bast, however, needed to retrace my scent if she wanted to get back to the inn in her Human form. I found it amusing enough, but after a few days more of making music and collecting underwear, it started to get less amusing since it always took her hours to come and go from wherever she was going. That being said, I could have probably found a wife if I wanted one. I got enough fucking offers for it, for no real reason other than my musical talent. That wasn’t what I wanted someone to want out of me, so no suitor was really appealing out of the lot.

 

After a full week of not writing in you, I’ve come back to say this; I hate Chorell and everything it stands for. I hate its people, and I hate its food. Chorell food always tastes like fat and nothing else, and their people? So closed minded that none of my songs have any lasting effect. I’ll come back when I have more information and something to go on, but for the time being, This is it, Booksy. If I don’t write in you again, I drank myself to death or otherwise found a way to get it over with.

 

☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽

 

Still kicking and… Well, let me just tell you about it.

 

I woke up a day or two ago in a fog, my drinking finally catching up with me. Bast was in her human form, resting on my chest while watching me, so I closed my eyes and rubbed her arm because her fur was still soft. After a while of just laying there, we heard a knock on the door, but I was a little too hungover to deal with anyone at the moment, so Bast answered the door. A pleasant female voice asked to see the River Man with the gray Cat Partner, but Bast turned her away, thinking she was just some groupie. I was listening during the conversation so I picked up on a few nuances of the woman’s voice, citing her as an Expatriated Choret from her accent. It was a little familiar, but it wasn’t like Valens, which confused me since I knew a lot of Choret people and didn’t care to remember anyone else. Bast still got the woman to go away,but not before I heard her say something interesting.

 

“I must see Gatian! He is in grave danger!” The woman whispered urgently from the doorway.

 

“Then tell me so I may make him aware of his peril.”

 

“He is without his Partner…” The woman said softly.

 

“I am his Partner.”

 

“No, you are not! I know his Partner.

 

That piqued my interest, so I picked my head up and took a moment to look at Bast’s tail. That was about all I really saw before I laid back down and started wondering about who knew my Partner situation. The only person I could think of would have been one of the women I was traveling with so I said, “Bast, let her in. I probably know her.”

 

I saw Bast lean forward before looking back. “Gatian, this woman knows you.”

 

“I figured.” It wasn’t like I meant to be sassy, but it just came out like that.

 

“No, Gatian, this woman smells like home.”

 

“Then she probably knows me, Kitty.” I sat all the way up and started rubbing sleep out of my eyes.

 

“Gatian? Is that you?” The woman asked.

 

“Yeah, it’s me. Who are you?”

 

Bast let the woman in and no one said anything until I looked at the silver-haired temptress. With her short locks and full bust, I was surprised to see that she was Choret after all, even if I’d assumed so in the first place. Then I saw her generous hips and let my gaze wander back to her clear, ocean blue eyes and found myself staring into the face of someone I very much wanted to forget. Stellara Inova stood before me with a concerned look on her face and a certain amount of unfamiliarity behind her own gaze. Standing up, I saw that she was a little different than I’d seen before. Slimmer by a good margin and a bit taller, I had a funny feeling I wasn’t looking at the woman I’d known, or at least the woman I remembered. However, there was the slightest bit of something in her that I felt. I didn't’ know what it was, but there was something that I liked about her, and it wasn’t her figure. Then,m just to seal the deal, I saw that her eyes leaned more towards a blue-violet that I’d never seen rather than Stella’s beautiful ocean blue eyes.

 

“Who… Who are you?” I asked uneasily.

 

“I am Stellara Cosma,” the woman said softly.

 

“... So you’re Stella’s sister.”

 

“I am.”

 

“... You’re not welcome here.”

 

Panic crossed her face. “Gatian, please, we-”

 

“Stellara left me like that.” I snapped my fingers for emphasis. “What do I owe you? Or her, for that matter?”

 

“... You owe us nothing [Mister] Gauner, but we need your help. Stella needs your help.”

 

I shrugged. “Tell her that she should have stuck with me if she wanted me to lend a hand.”

 

Cosma wrung her hands. “... I can’t see her.”

“And? You have been given your answer,” Bast replied for me. “Leave. You have no place here.”

 

Stellara’s sister dropped to her knees, spread her arms and hands out wide, and touched her forehead to the floor. “I beg you. She’s all I have left…

 

Bast looked to me, somewhat nonplussed. I raised a brow. “Your input?”

 

“It would be bastardly to ignore her completely. Hear her plea then cast her out.”

 

I looked back to Cosma, her head still down. “... That’s not who I am. That’ll never be who I am.” I saw Bast nod out of the corner of my eye. “Cosma, get the fuck off the damn floor and face me like a woman. I can’t say anything in good conscience like this.”

 

She got up and looked at me hopefully. “Please, you’re our only hope of-”

 

“After this, I want you two to leave me alone. Stellara chose to leave and that was all that needed to be said between us. She didn’t want me. She divided us.”

 

Cosma nodded. “When first we met again, she spoke of you, Gatian Gauner. She spoke of a kindness that-”

 

“She helped corrode. What are you getting at?”

 

“... Stellara said that if she were to ever come into trouble that I was not to come to you.”

 

“I wonder why she’d say that.”

 

“From what she told me, I wondered as well. The man she described was… Different.”

 

I rolled my eyes. “Then here’s to more of the same. Where is she and what does she need?”

 

That seemed to dampen her spirits. “... Stellara is being held at the [Church of Solitude] here in Coranett. I came to appeal for her case to no avail, but surely her Partner would have a hope of exonerating her…”

 

“Stellara was a slave before she met me.”

 

“... Yes, she was.”

 

“What happens when I release her from her duty then, hm? Is all forgiven and she just goes free? Carries on as she sees fit?”

 

“Well… I don’t know.” Cosma admitted.

 

“So you don’t know if I can even help?”

 

“... I thought it was-”

 

“Whatever, we’ll give it a shot. Just don’t tell Stellara if you can manage, and point me in the direction I need to go.”

 

Hope entered her gaze again. “I can lead you to the church if you’d like!”

 

“Yeah, that’ll do.” I nodded toward the door. “Wait outside while I get ready for the day. If I’m going to do something important, I’m gonna look good while doing it.”

 

Cosma smiled before Bast said, “When do you ever look good?”

 

“Shut up, pussy.”

 

“Bite me, Human.”

 

“I will.”

 

“It is far more threatening when I say that.”: She huffed.

 

“But it’s kinky when I do it, so ha!”

 

Cosma nodded a couple of times and waited until Bast and I were both looking at her to leave. It was a little while before I was actually ready to do anything, but awhile by my standards when it comes to getting prepped doesn’t really mean anything. It could mean ten minutes or it could mean nearly an hour, but either way you get my fucking point, right Booksy? What am I saying, of course you do. Anyhow, after I got ready and shit, we got moving and it turned out that the Church of Solitude was actually a fucking prison. It was a bit of a surprise since it was also a courthouse, but the thing about the place was that it also counted as an active place of worship and that was a bit of a trip. The Chorets really knew how to multitask with their buildings, and it showed in the sections of the Church. When we entered, I was given priority as a River Man visiting his Partner since the relationship was viewed as matrimonial or marital or something of the sort. I figured it was for the best that we get things over with quickly, so I didn’t fight the flow at all and barely had to say anything until I was standing in front of a Judician.

 

The old man doubled as a Priest, garbed in plenty of idolatry, reeking of sin and subterfuge. I already didn’t like the fucker, but still. When I was behindthe desk where I was supposed to make my case, the Judician took his sweet time in getting to the hall or whatever it was. It was set up kind of like a normal American courtroom with a witness stand and a dais for the Judge-guy-person, but without jury seating. That was a little worrying, but then again, I also didn’t like Chorell in the first place. However, I’d been faking it for the better part of a week, so as I stood with a cat lady and a regular lady, I considered what brought me to that exact moment. It didn’t take long to blame Stella for everything and I settled on that attitude for the duration of our wait for the person we were there for to be brought out. It took the better part of half an hour, but Stellara was eventually presented directly in front of me, and was she ever a sight to see.

 

She’d traded her generally fashionable get-up for some prisoner garb that looked uncomfortable. The tunic and breeches looked like they’d been made by someone who didn’t give a damn about personal comfort. With the way Stellara was walking I didn’t doubt that the thin lines of red that were striped across the back of the light green tunic consisted of blood, though I have to admit that seeing a bloody trail of footprints behind her was disheartening. I barely even recognized her face. She was hard to look at in a lot of ways and I’m not talking about the zig-zag patterns on her clothes. There were plenty of things that I saw in Stella’s appearance that I didn’t like, but seeing that she was freely bleeding from an eye and the other being swollen shut? It hurt to witness and I wanted nothing more than to end Stella’s suffering as the plan had been all along. When they made her stop in front of me, I slowly reached out to her until I was reprimanded.

 

Halt! Contact with prisoners is strictly forbidden!” The Priest-Judge shouted loudly.

 

I withdrew my hand. “... Why…? Why did you do this to her?”

 

“We punish those who break laws.” Old Guy scoffed. “She broke a law, she was punished. I believe you would seek to take her from the Chorell lands?”

 

“I believe I would seek to take her back under my wing, yes,” I replied firmly. “Whatever you’re punishing her for, I want it known that I don’t want this. She was supposed to have wronged me, right?”

 

He nodded and stroked his thin, wispy beard. “I see. So you would accept someone who abandoned you so coldly just because they are being punished for their crimes?”

 

“It was a singular crime and I don’t think it merits being brutalized.” I snapped. “Your laws are either broken or draconian, and I want my Partner having no part of it.”

 

“Then take her and leave.” The guy said simply. “That is if you can abide by our laws long enough to do so.”

 

I narrowed my eyes. “Bring it on, butterball.”

 

If he wasn’t aware of his chub previously, then he should’ve been after that. However, after he decided to stroke his beard some more, he gave me a look. “Then there are two ways that you may go about this. You may either purchase the freedom of Stellara Inova from the Province of Chorell, or you may compete in a contest with my chosen champion.”

 

Stella started shaking, so I asked, “How much is the price of freedom?”

 

“A finger of my choosing as well as ten thousand silver Choret pennics.”

 

“And I’m guessing I don’t get to pick my own weapon if I choose to fight.”

 

“That would be incorrect. You may use whatever weapon you so choose.”

 

I unslung the weapon I’d used for months upon months, my skill with it tuned by battle after ‘battle’ that really didn’t count as fight. I held up my undlegar and said, “Then let’s get this shit over with. I’ve got my weapon, so can we get the show on the road.”

 

I got stared at by everyone in the courtroom, including the Judician. “... Are you being serious right now?”

 

“Yeah, bro.”

 

“You intend on fighting a man far superior to you in combat with… An undlegar.” He said, his thick accent getting thicker. “An undlegar.”

 

“Yeah, nigga.” I’d have hit him with a hard R if Mom wouldn’t slap my ass from Earth. “An undlegar. That’s what this thing is, right?”

 

“... Yes?”

 

“Then where’s your champion so I can kick his ass?”

 

“... One moment.”

 

The Judician brought forth a steward or something and talked to him for a second in Choresh, which really didn’t affect my understanding of the conversation. After they were done talking, the guards that were manning Stella took her somewhere else, A trail of bloody footprints following them as they left. Stella only looked back once, but I didn’t know if she caught my nod or not. Before we could be lead out back for the slaughter I was about to be the star of, Cosma took me aside and asked our guide if she could have a word with me for a moment. I had no qualms with it, but the gist of Cosma’s stop was that she was eternally grateful and that I didn’t actually have to go through with the fight if I didn’t want to, stating that she would happily take my place if I wanted her to. The thing was that I didn’t want her to, so I just played my instrument and sang a little song to pass the time, but there was a lot in it that nobody picked up. I translated part of Daft Punk’s Harder into guitar and played it to make myself feel a bit better about possibly dying.

 

We arrived to a large, flat grassy area behind the tall monument to the Chorets God or whatever where there was a ring set up with stone pillars on eight points. There was plenty of downtime between our arrival and the initiation of the contest, so I filled the time by playing more songs and singing along. I eventually got people to sing Bohemian Rhapsody with me and that was fun, so I went through a few more Queen classics and added in a few Beatles bangers to the mix. The set went over well as it usually did, but there was more on my mind than just playing to a nonexistent crowd. Well, a small crowd, I should say. The back of my mind was wrought with thoughts of Stellara and getting my woman back, but there were also plenty of doubts about whether or not I would ever be able to truly call her mine again without bringing the law into things. Of course, once I had Stella again I could officially set her free, which soon became the plan. If she wanted to live with Cosma in Chorell, then I had no problems with that whatsoever other than the ones I’d already had. The sheer weight of my choice was hitting me where it hurt and I found it less than pleasurable to see that someone’s life and liveliness literally hung in the balance of scales I could tip. Stella meant so much to me, but she’d also caused me so much pain… To be honest, I was tempted to lose the contest on purpose just to take the hope she’d given me away from her, but the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do it. Stella… She had a place in my heart and threw it away, but I’d kept it. Through gallons upon gallons of booze, days upon days of misery, and song after song of heartache, I still wanted Stellara to love me back like I loved her, and there was no one else in my mind who could take her place.

 

As the Judician brought out his champion and started with the contest rules, I barely paid enough attention to get by, too lost in my own thoughts to care. I know that when he stopped talking, the buff, well-muscled guy and I entered the ring with our respective weapons and faced off from opposite ends. I was nervous, but on the surface, I was calm and ready. I was about to drop a bomb full of Mom’s spaghetti, and by that I mean I was about to paint the ring with the guys entrails using the power of song! Terru was allowed for the duel, which was the only reason anyone thought I’d use my undlegar, but when the other guy pulled out a sword and buckler, I had a funny feeling that he was waiting for me to start slinging projectiles from my strings. Instead of doing the obvious, I did the not obvious and started playing Private Hell by Alice in Chains. I had to go an octave high so I could still get the bass notes out and make the song sound right, but I translated it well enough.

 

Unlike a lot of my performances, there was something different about that one. There was something on the line, something I stood to lose all over again if I didn’t come out on top, and the longer I played the more I fell into the music and its meaning. My heart started to ache as I lead into the chorus and a sensation I’d never felt before came over me. It wasn’t an emotion so much as a general feeling of… It was like I was getting high off of some kind of drug and now I was floating into the ether with my physical form being trapped in my meat shell while my anima went on to bigger and better things. Once I got my bearings in the new feeling I really settled into the song and the notes just… They resonated within me, making my heart pound and my face flush. It made me ache inside in a way that felt so indescribably phenomenal that all I could do was keep playing.

 

My eyes had been closed the entire time, but I knew that nobody had moved during the duration of the song, and that’s how I wanted my audience to be left. Even after the final words were sung, everything fell silent for the final notes of my soliloquy, the ending thrum sending electricity through my veins and filling me with a sense of completion that I hadn’t felt since… Well, maybe my first song, but even then I’d felt something was missing. Nothing felt like it needed to be added, and nothing needed to be said about the performance. I lead into Chop Suey out of nowhere and it had the effect that I guess I wanted. The champion guy, already having succumbed to the magic I’d pumped through Private Hell, was no match for the harsh reality inside of Chop Suey and the directed force I threw behind it. Within a few seconds of the song, the man was already cutting himself on the edge of System of a Down, but in a literal sense instead of a figurative one. While I played, he cut himself with his sword and roared along to the melody, oddly enough. I found it to be a strange occurrence, but I figured he’d bleed out with a sick enough guitar solo. It came and went, but the guy eventually stopped cutting himself once he was wearing a red shirt across his bare chest, his own blood being the cloth of the piece.

 

I came to a stop, both realizing what I’d done and who I’d done it for, quickly coming to the conclusion that I’d do it again if it meant bringing Stellara to a place where she could be safe. As it turned out my kind of magic was the wrong kind, because Armators swarmed the ring and poined blade at me with intent to kill. Shrugging, I played a soothing tune to lighten the mood, looking around as if I was completely innocent in all that had gone on. It was damning to be sure, but I’d won the contest as I’d intended to do and learned for certain something I already knew. My Terru could be channeled into song and literally change someone’s mind before my very eyes depending on my intent behind the song. I found it to be overwhelming, and I was tempted to break my undlegar and leave it in pieces for them. A lot was going through my mind, but I didn’t let it show on my face. The guards around me, the ones closest, babbled to each other about something or other that I didn’t pay attention to because I didn’t need to until I heard it; they were asking each other why I was smiling. It wasn’t a smile so much a a grin, but it coined the nickname ‘[Grinning One]’ that I wasn’t terribly fond of. I definitely didn’t feel like smiling, but that was when I realized why I was doing it.

 

I felt like I’d messed up.

Honestly, in a lot of ways I had, but I was still allowed to walk free as I’d used legal means to dispatch my enemy. The Judician was unhappy, but still personally handed the key to Stellara’s manacles to me once the Armators cleared out of the way. The look on his face was sour as he said, “Take your witchcraft and leave, River Man. The prophecy will not be fulfilled this day.”

 

“Prophecy?”

 

He glared at me. “The Minstrel’s Maladies will not come to pass here, you swine.”

 

I raised a brow. “At least I don’t rape kids or buy ‘em, but whatevs, nigger.” I hoped my Mom wouldn’t slap me. Apparently I was still black enough to get away with it. “You solve your problems your way, I do things my way.” Holding up the key, I said, “This means I own Stellara, right?”

 

“As a River Man, she was your right. As the victor, she is your right. Do with the sinful traitor as you please and leave.” He leaned forward for extra emphasis.

 

I shrugged and looked for my former Partner. “And my prize is… Where?”

 

He pointed and I walked off, shortly joined by Cosma and Bast, though I was tackled by Cosma. She was also crying which was a huge turn off, but she did have a nice chest and I can’t say anything against that. There were worse people and things in general to be trapped under, but I still needed to get free in the first place to get Stellara out of her chains. I carefully reminded Cosma of that fact, and by that I mean I told her to get the fuck off of me and help me up so we could get back to her sister. After that, she was all too happy to usher me over to Stellara and practically hopped in place while I looked the woman in the eye. There were still Armators on either side of her and she didn't raise her chains for me to unlock them when I stopped in front of her.

 

It took me five seconds to look at her chains, the key, and back to Stella. She wouldn’t meet my eye, so I held the key up. “Inova.”

 

She twitched, finally looking at me. “... Gage.”

 

“Do you really think Gage could do that to someone?”

 

“... Gatian.”

 

I tossed the key at her, landing it on her chest. It slid down until she caught it. “You left. That was your choice.”

 

“I-I’m… I’m sorry,” she murmured.

 

“Don’t be. You were scared. You made a hasty choice. Everyone makes mistakes.” I looked to Bast and jerked my head toward the church. “C’mon. We gotta get out of this country before we get shanked.”

 

Bast looked at Stellara. “... Are you not going to free her?”

 

“She has the key. I don’t give a damn what you or anyone else fuckin’ says. From now on, from this day forth, Stellara Inova is a free woman.” She met my gaze readily as I asked, “Is that understood?”

 

“No, but I don’t often claim to understand Humans.”

 

“Not my problem right now.” I looked over my shoulder to Stellara, tears cutting through the blood on her face. “Go home. Live your life.”

 

I didn’t take that moment to leave because it made me feel like a badass, but it did feel like the natural conclusion to the events that had unfolded until Stellara (Inova, I should say) called out, “Gatian!”

 

I didn’t bother turning all the way around and just nodded to show I’d heard her, stopping for what I hoped would be the last time before my feet carried me back to her. “What?”

 

“... I’ll repay you for this. On my life, I swear I will.”

 

“You already owed me your life once and it didn’t work out too well. I said I’d set you free eventually and I did it, so take my word for what it’s evidently worth and go home.”

 

And with that, Booksy, I left the woman I’d loved most of all with her sister and took a crazy cat lady along with me back to my tavern/inn combo. All in all I can’t say that I was sad to leave Stellara behind, but as I was packing up to head to the next big thing, I wondered if I would go to Stalfisk or Teh Se Bang next since Avalesce was fuckin’ dumb. This is written from the road on our way to Claytan, the heart of Avalesce itself. I know I literally just said that the country was dumb, but the biggest city in the whole shebang was supposed to be some kind of spectable to behold. If it was half as pretty as I thought it’d be-

 

Okay, so Bast just interrupted me for something a lot more important than what I was just writing about. When she changed into her faulain form for the night, she laid her head on my stomach inside our tent as per usual before asking, “Why did you let the Starry Ones stay behind? I thought you intended to save for previous Partner?”

 

“Didn’t I free her from being a prisoner?”

 

“Well, yes, but-”

 

“And being a slave?”

 

“Well, yes, but-”

 

“Also, didn’t she fuck me over in the first place? Dig her own grave?”

 

“I see I’ll get nowhere here soon.” Bast huffed and closed her eyes.

 

“So what do you mean by ‘Starry Ones’ anyway?”

 

She popped an eye open. “You would ignore my question and ask one in turn?”

 

I rolled my eyes. “I left the Stellaras behind because I didn’t want them to follow me. Drama Queen.”

 

“Why not? They were good luck.”

 

“Well, maybe Stella left for some crazy reason I don’t know and wanted to stay gone or some shit.”

 

“The stars and the moons belong together.”

 

“Oh, will you shut the hell up with the philosophic, mushy-malarky bullshit?”

 

“Is it not true? Are they not together in the very sky above us?”

 

“I’ll blow your brains into the sky with Clockly if you don’t shuddup.”

 

“You wouldn’t play a song to make me eat myself?”

 

It hurt more than I wanted to let on. “... Go to sleep, Bast.”

 

“I see. Good night, Moon River.”

 

I didn’t answer.

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About the author

Ringo Farr

Bio: Rewrites in progress; Pm for specifics, otherwise enjoy!

Ringtail is the Panda, I'm just the guy that translates for him. Call me Ringo.

Ringtail takes donations of bamboo, eggs, chocolate crickets, and constructive criticism. Don't be mean; I hate swearing while talking to the little guy. Especially since the swear jar gets expensive and Ringtail's a cheap fucker.

Yes, Ringtail is endangered. No, he is not a pet, and it's demeaning that you would call a sentient creature such a thing, even if his sapience is lacking.

No, I, Ringo, am not a furry. Ringtail is his own fuzzball, I have skin and I like other people that have skin.

If you need to contact me or Ringtail, PM's and Discord are the way to go. Ringtail#4665

Discord [ https://discord.gg/zGFD9KE ]

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Patreon [ https://www.patreon.com/ringtael ]

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