Chantal Days Two and Three, Part One

So, there we are on a ship headed to a harbour the elfies say is “safer” than the one the ship had docked at before. I don’t know how the pixie petes reckon “safe” but we’ll get to that a little later. Pointy-eared pollies. [snort]

Once upon a time in a land far, far away…no, wait, that one’s been used before.

So, there we are on a ship headed to a harbour the elfies say is “safer” than the one the ship had docked at before. I don’t know how the pixie petes reckon “safe” but we’ll get to that a little later. Pointy-eared pollies. [snort]

Apparently sometime during the brawl in which we arrived the ship captured some uberassassin’s baby boy. He taught us a lesson in how to get a good nap, but his acupuncture technique was a little high velocity for me. Still, nothing along the lines of a good mechanical girl, so while the innovation would have surprised some of my previous employers I maintained that I was less than impressed. Still, the mark of the beast was on us now. I think Callidear

scrubbed half her skin off to get rid of it. I yawned. If he had wanted to kill us, we’d be dead. If he wanted to go all Jigglypuff on us that was his fetish. Heck, I would have (and, um, HAVE) done worse.

It was a little spice in a few days which had become exceedingly dull. Let’s see. I learned the length of the deck, the weft and weave of the wood of my purring table…and that Cap’n Millypoo was at some sort of trial. I hoped it had to do with walking on hot coals, but I was determined to find out why I was here rather than leave and have the hand scoop me up and place me back again. I hoped it didn’t have anything to do with my albatross…erm, amulet, but I only expected it anyway.

I was about bored out of my mind when Karr-Neevorus offered to Show Us the Sights. I was so happy I just about kissed him, but, um, you know where pirate lips have been.

On pirate faces, of course.

Sheesh. What DO you think of me?

Callidear got all dressed up. Or, at least I’m assuming she did; it’s not like we’ve had a chance to gussy up our wardrobes, sitting here on the boat. Karr-igible brought along his own pus–the ship cat.

Suspicious. Still, with twinkle-toes around it could be a cait sith or something mystical. Darn elves can’t leave anything alone. It’s not like my tutor couldn’t shift a shape or two. (Two, I think.) So, cat in tow, we went off to find mischief, pleasure, and, um, whatever it was Calli was searching for.

Nasty perfumed men, I think.

Still, she got paid for it, so I don’t have a beef. We all sell ourselves ; it’s just a

matter of enjoying the bargain, right? I prefer to be paid in cold currency and hot blood. If you’re the type who likes to stain the sheets with sweat, well, more power to you.

The bar was busy. Looked like it was my kind of place, but no insult to the proprietor, I was in a bad mood because someone called me “babe.”

Yes, me.

Babe.

[scoff]

I threw him back.

Shopping List 02/20/05

Chantal’s eclectic “end of the Shallow Sea” shopping list.

  • 1/2 pound catnip.

  • a variety of sanding discs with different grits

  • a spring, a cog, and other various components as would improve the needle grenade device

  • books for the voyage, including some elven romance novels, kid astronomy books, and, um, maybe some other things that catch her fancy

  • ink, writing inplements, paper

  • one yard of silk cloth, preferred black

Chantal Day One, Part Two

Black bodies, blood spilled, someone trying to do WHAT?!?

I don’t think so.

I only play the rope game when it’s consensual, thanks. Or at least bought and paid for. I slowly squeezed until I heard bones creak. I squeezed a little more and focused on the mouse girl in front of me.

OK, not literally a mouse girl, but mousy in some way. Funny thing is, she gets paired with this snake (mmm, ‘sgood eatin’) and she has this whippet kind of fighting fury around her. Pretty hostile, not sure what to do with us.

Yeah, “Us.” Apparently I’m not the only one the hand of fate decided to dangle between worlds. So was this monochrome ninja (as opposed to the day-glo kind, of course) sitting next to me. Tall, something about it spoke feminine to me, but that didn’t mean it didn’t come from some girly-man shadow.

Mouse girl is named Mil. Captain Mil. I guessed the ship’s name was “Run of the Mil(l),” but didn’t say it aloud. I was busy being big and blustering, and didn’t think my humour was going to be picked up. Some of ’em can be pretty bright and quick and then absolute molasses when it comes to a joke. Mil, huh? Probably a Millicent or a Camilla or maybe the mouse was that she was actually a man, and it’s a Mel gone wrong. Or maybe it’s a nickname for some rich kid. That kind of suited her image.

Odd. She went silent in “that” way. The way my mentor would at times when he was communicating into quiet. Mage? Probably. Maybe something more. I made the decision then to stay on the ship a little longer. No flashy, “Running to the store for some milk, be back in a millenia.” I started carving “Mil was here,” into the wood of the table out of sheer boredom.

Only to be told, “Don’t do that.”

Well, duh. That’s why I did it. Except it seemed to be healing. Um.

I took a breath. Um, indeed.

So, OK, living table, living wood… I’d heard of this kind of stuff from a fellow Traveller, one who had this funny animate box with lots of legs. I didn’t quite understand his accent, despite him telling us of the Liveships. Maybe this was a–well… hmmm. I pet the table.

It purred. Not on the aural resonance, but the mental.

OK. Be nice to the ship, Chantallacious.

Ship was called the Blowing Leaf or the Wind of Fate or Shoot the Breeze or something like that. Of course, I ran into a gang once that called themselves the Pale-Faced Black Silence. Had to kill ’em, of course. They gestured weapons as a form of conjuration. I had too much respect for the Order of Clowns to keep mimes alive.

So they seemed to waffle back and forth on whether or not we got the ol’ protective custody or just protected. Apparently we’d beamed in during some sort of tough spot with some target practice being done on elves. I don’t have anything actually against the pale-skinned, tree-hugging, star-gazing, mead-drinking, night-dancing, pointy-eared, bright-eyed, feather-footed, arrow-jointed, anorexic, moon-watching, flower-sniffing, giggling, meretricious, weak-chinned, delicate-browed, nature-happy, glamour-ridden, tip-toed, fairy-dusted, fragile-boned, pipe-playing, enigmatic, gem-craven, niminy-piminy, overwrought, haughty, ethereal, prattle-prone, paradisiacal, braggardly, strepitous, narcissistic ones, but it might be some kind of natural prejudice. For one thing, unless they were wee things indeed, they were usually taller than me, and could never be bothered to hang around as portable ladders.

Besides, the ninja kind of looked like one, and she was pretty cute. She called herself Callidora, but I was betting she was named after Kali Durga, the whirlwind of destruction. Where are people to take this kind of bet? Somewhere out in the Worlds there just had to be a sort of Potentials bookie. I’d probably find him in Graustark, though.

So, while we were waiting I gave her a bland sort of pick-up line. Hey, I still had some rope, and, well, just because I said no earlier didn’t mean it hadn’t planted a seed in my head. She rejected me. I fantasized not the act, but the look on Mil’s face when she caught us in it, while keeping the table happy. Huh. At least it didn’t start that funny thumping its leg on the floor.

We waited with some pointless banter. She had been, apparently, an acrobat, but never a mechanical woman.

We met, briefly, a fellow named Karr. I mentally made his last name “toum” or “toon,” depending on if he turned out to be funny or not. He whipped up some eye of newt, and toe of frog, eool of bat, and tongue of dog, adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg, and jowlet’s wing, (if I remember the ingredients correctly) for us. Yum. Heck, even gruel is fun food.

Apparently the ship liked us, so we were given a room to share. Kalidearie played with the propensities of the ship. I noted that at least having some privacy together would allow us to work on turning that “No,” into a “Yes! YES! YESS!!!” given enough time and my natural charm.

But, alas, nothing interesting happened, and thus, I fell asleep.

Chantal Day One, Part One

Pirates.

Pirates AND circuses.

Could my day get ANY better?

Oh wait!

Elf Ninjas!

Pirates. Circuses. Elf Ninjas… and…wait for it… MECHANICAL WOMEN.

Of course, it could be a set-up for one of Droppa’s bad jokes. The punchline seems to be a purring table. Oh, and elves. You know, the “other white meat.” Maybe it’s “How many surrealists does it take to light a lantern?” No giraffes and no bathtubs full of multichromatic monkey wrenches.

So, where to begin… I’ll just pick a random spot and call it the OUAT. You know. The “Once Upon A Time.” To thine own self be true, right?

Once Upon A Time in a Golden Circle Kingdom with a name like “Dirt” or “Paradise” or “Blessings Be On This Sacred Land Where We Were Seeded By An Alien Species And Told To Grow Into Maturity,” I ran into the D-man for some lunch (he picked up the bill, promptly dropped it, and then paid it) and some spying. He knows I’m good for a strong arm, but this job seemed to be a bit more of a loose bodyguarding role, something where I make more observations as to who (or whom, I can’t ever remember which) will require a good introduction to a brick wall later. I’m a matchmaker that way.

It’s a thug thing: you wouldn’t understand.

So, minutes after I’m making my pouch for expenses disappear (um, that is, from the eyes of would-be thieves, not spilling the coinage on ye old sweettooth), draining the mug, and gesturing to the cute serving lad for a refill, I get this hag in my face. A real runner-up in the snaggletooth sweepstakes, with a driving desire for the kickbacks of her vaunted position. Rather than giving her the literal boot, I played it miserly, and figured if things needed doing elsewise, I’d look her up. Hey, she impressed me, if only for her unpleasantness. Sweet are the uses of adversity.

Looked like we had a hooter in the corner. Kneeslapping and paddywhacking, I’d bet. If I knew, of course, what kind of a knick-knack a paddywhack was. I raised my mug to him, and got to know him later. Old Ben, caricature artist and people observer. Furniture. The kind of fellow you don’t notice until he’s gone.

Muriel. That was her name. Her son raised a bit of a squawk that evening, until I suggested that his collarbone was far more fragile than he’d like. I expected I’d probably rate some community grievance for it, but once you extend said neck out far enough, it’s people like myself who are known to chop first and ask questions later.

Yeah, you can do that here. Weird place. I’m getting to it.

So, after interrogating the locals, flirting a bit with the server boy, and probably setting things up for the local “connected” to decide I was taking sides, I went ahead to bed.

Enter unusual event.

I sleep with the window open. Old wizard pal of mine used to say he’d prefer knowing which way his enemies were coming from, and I always figured that at the very least, it gave me a quick escape route. Never get caught in a place without a back door, is what I say. Besides, I’m a light sleeper, and anything coming in has to risk me. The place had a balcony, anyway, so they’d have to be determined.

I was most wroth to discover that whatever it was, it only left a heavy mechanoid. Probably pricy, and they dropped it in my lap. I waited a moment to see if it would go off. I prodded at it, played with it, and saw that this amulet of sorts was etched with what’s probably a fortune cookie fate, and a compass pointing someplace other than north.

Hoofbeats in the background, and I dreamt that the tooth fairy brigade had an enforcer arm. I remember threatening to tear off wings if they tried to take any extra teeth.

Morning and I figured I’d drop by the treehugger, erm, “local druid” to see if he was going to make a fuss in having a big ol’ party in his backyard. I was going to buy a few treats from the local sweet vendor (yeah, well, money burns a hole in my pocket, which is why I love to gamble), when I was addressed by a fellow telling me the wheels on the circus wagons were going wonky. I hailed a wainwright, found out they made wagons, not just wheels, and went to find a specialist. I would escort the group in… or find out what mischief was eating at them.

Mischief indeed. I should write a few libelous versus with a chorus about a tall man, a beared lady, and a midget. Sounds like a carol. If I could hold a tune, I’d sing it. I’m no trobairitz, though. I’m just a casual ale-house and shower singer. And yes, if you’re wondering, there’s a difference between the two. Ale-houses and show–oh, just forget it. I will be free, even to the uttermost, as I please, in words.

So, I was introduced to the Major or the General or the Sergeant or the Mercenary or whatever his name was. Something militant. The Ringmaster. The Gatekeeper. I don’t know. We know what we are, but know not what we may become. Anyway, he was in charge, and totally giving me the shoulder. The chip on it, at any rate – I couldn’t tell the temperature.

I don’t think I ever got the name of my shadow travelling friend.

Indeed, the wheels had snapped through, and we were going to need wood to replace them. You have no idea how much I could have used a roll of duct tape, but I try to use the stuff that holds the universe together somewhat sparingly.

Some of the natives watched as happy horse man and the Tall Thin Man (HHM and TTM if I have to refer to them again) and I rode down towards timber. Or up towards timber. Whichever way lumber was, we lumbered.

Nevermind.

We rode through a deserted town, the kind of silence that unchallenged imaginations fill with ghosts. I’m not so superstitious, but I made a bunch of noise in case something needed to be disturbed.

I tried to keep up a dialogue at TTM (see, I get a chance to use the short form!) [and at, rather than with, if you know what I mean] so as to point out he’s going to be able to see someone a lot faster than I am. Kind of weird how that works: the taller you are, the quicker your sight.

So, we find a great deal of wood just lying around. I’m working up an “IOU” note that I don’t intend to pay (after all, it’s just borrowing the stuff of the universe from place to place) when we’re harassed by some geezer with a projectile weapon. After you’re on the wrong end of a few, you learn to recognize ’em quick. We follow him down, down, down this totally renovated mine area so he can get the OK on us “borrowing” a few beams. It had a kind of Area 51 look.

So this little man runs through some divination hardware, heavy on those special cards and a couple of television screens, and decides we’ll go back for a drink and a meal. Hard for me to turn them down; he could have spiked it with truth serum or something, but once you’ve been in the business like I have you realize the smart ones just kill you if they’re going to…and something about Lovelace or Loveless or Lovelass or whatever his name was didn’t seem the dumb type.

That’s when he told me about the mechanical women. I looked but I couldn’t see anything clicking, any gears turning, and I figured it’d be rude to ask if I could take one apart. They looked like women, but then, so do sirens, harpies, Stepfords, and a variety of vampiric nymphs (until they want to eat your flesh.)

Um. Story for another time, maybe.

I humoured the fellow up until he started asking me questions about an amulet. Since I was already pretty sure the amulet was meant for me I played dumb. It’s easy, especially if you get practice at it. You think “blank.” Blank, blank, blank. White, empty rooms, that stretch on for infinity. I sometimes practice feeling bits of danger, not just oppressiveness in the white & empty, but like something invisible is stalking you, the viewer, stepping into the white room. It’s a survival technique. I especially hate things that try to get into my head, so I’m definitely not pulling out the welcome mat on those.

“I guess I’m supposed to get one.” What, the amulet fairy was going to visit me? Well, of course…

He offered me an opportunity to deal if I got one. I wasn’t going to switch my story right then, as I was still thinking, “white, blank, dull” and letting it rise to my eyes. I told him I’d duly consider it. Maybe he’d give me a mechanical woman. Wait, two…because I’d need the extra after I took the first apart and she broke.

The tall thin man had great strength. I looked up at him and considered how I’d phrase my offer to climb him and see how well he twisted into knots…er… we rode back in relative silence.

It wasn’t until the bearded lady and the midget went back and made some

noises, getting things all heated up that the hand of some god picked all of us up and placed us…

…into black.