The Crown of Fools, Chapter Twenty

Finnen and Fawcett, both experienced outdoorsmen, dressed the unicorn very quickly while Chaim sat in the torch-lit bar and studied a very old book in one of the rooms in the inn above the pub. And despite the fact that it was always dusk- always sundown- a cooler wind started to blow, as if (maddeningly), the weather didn’t obey the stoppage of time either. It was quite unsettling, and even infuriating to Petka, (though he always kept his temper), in that one could not possibly guess just which rules of reality applied, and which didn’t. The governance of such laws seemed completely lax and arbitrary, and as Petka would learn, was actually quite cruel in its application.

“It’s like that here,” said Finnen quietly, cooking four thick unicorn steaks, “Nothing makes sense. We don’t age. We don’t get sick…but we do get hungry. We get hurt here, our body mends itself with medicine, and bandages. If we get really hurt, we die. It’s like not everything in nature agreed to pause in this moment. Crops still grow, it rains every now and then, unicorns hump with a disturbing zeal, we still need to sleep…but the sun never moves; there’s no perception o’ the time passing…

“Let’s get good and sloshed- no, no- not that gnome dreck- somebody brought in a bottle of whiskey. Was savin’ it for when Creighton and the Missus returned but… well, how often do I have polite company? An’ this is as special as an occasion could be now I s’pose.”

And so the Petka, Chaim, Finnen, and Raksha ate king-cut sized unicorn steaks (medium rare is simply the only way to enjoy such a “magical” feast, for the interested), and halved the bottle of whiskey between them (save Raksha, of course, who only water)- it should be noted that Chaim could not drink whiskey, nor, for that matter, become drunk, but Finnen’s somber mood and Petka’s relaxed frame seemed to ease some of the chaos from before, so he feigned sipping on his tumbler.

For dessert, the group enjoyed some thinly sliced, fragrant melon that tasted of blueberry bubblegum- even Chaim could eat it as it was grown in the esoteric soil of the neither-here-nor-there plateau, and he enjoyed it immensely.

When the forced-feeling, humdrum conversation ended, Finnen (who, like Petka, had sobered up considerably) excused himself, walked to a room directly behind the bar, and returned with his bird Charon perched on his shoulder. Under his arm he carried a little glass tank containing a bakers dozen of the little gnomes who were currently snickering, and giving the outside world a row of “pressed hams” (naked, rosy-cheeked gnome rears squeaking against the glass, for the uninitiated).

Charon, was a bird with a scaly, bald head, one milky eye, and a shriek that could make Satan weep. Finnen sighed, plucked up a little pants-down gnome and tossed it in the air where it was immediately snapped up by Charon, who extended her disturbing, pink, snake-like neck and grabbed the rude little thing with a clack of her beak and a satisfied, guttural chirp of clear satisfaction. And despite Finnen’s earlier assertion, Charon was not remotely like a parrot; she was no garishly colored, talking bird, but was rather an obscenely ugly carrion thing- an enormous vulture, likely weighing close to 25 pounds, perched securely on Finnen’s shoulder with her scaly, clawed feet.

Charon, as it must certainly seem obvious, lacked absolutely the outward beauty of even the homeliest parrot. Instead of intelligent grey eyes, Charon’s non milky-eye was a beady, doll-like black, devoid of sclera. Her impossibly long neck seemed to have the texture of untreated serpent-leather and was entirely absent of feathers, save for a circle of white down where her neck met her torso. The plumage of her body was thick and black, with the stray white highlight just beneath her wings when spread, as if to indicate great age.

Her squat, roundish body was significantly larger than Finnen’s head. And though neither Fawcett nor Chaim hadn’t seen the beast’s full wingspan, they would have hardly been shocked to learn it was very nearly six feet long from tip to tip. Every now and then, Charon would click her beak, and Finnen would casually toss another bare-bottomed, curse-snickering gnome into the air for her to gobble up. She never missed.

“Well, nothing surprises me anymore.” pouted Chaim, “Here I was, expecting a bird of paradise, and instead I am greeted by a grizzled carrion-monster.”

“That’s because your lookin’ at her outsides,” said Finnen, stroking Charon’s head, “You need to see the parrot in her soul.”

“Yes, Irish, I am certain that you see a heart of gold beating beneath that dead-shark eye,” with this Chaim shuddered and reclined in his chair.

“You’re quite shallow, you know that, Canid? She’s a proper, lady.” Finnen gestured to a ring of flowers, very much resembling a Hawaiian lei at the base of her pink neck.

“Can I… pet her?” asked Petka cautiously; he tentatively reached out a shaking hand towards the bird.

“Ehh, I wouldn’t Fawcett. You’re a stranger. She won’t go for the eyes, but you’ll lose whatever digits you put within bitin’ range, so choose wisely.”

“Perhaps I’ll abstain,” replied Petka with a little cough, slowly withdrawing his hand.

“I pegged ye for a wise one,” said Finnen with a smile, tossing another gnome into the air, whose string of obscenities were suddenly cut off but the snap of Charon’s beak. “Ya know, she took a piece of my ear off when we first met. When was that? How long ago? Ah, impossible to answer I s’pose. But feed somethin’ enough gnomes and apparently you’re best mates for life. I know she’s a carrion bird, but what can I say? She loves these peaked-cap bastards.” Finnen sighed, drained his glass, and looked at the bottom mournfully, biting his lip slightly.

“Well, story time.”

“Please,” said Petka, not without sympathy, “Tell me exactly what happened to this place.”

Finnen nodded silently, tossed another gnome to Charon, and began.

* * * * *

“Well I had been here for… Jay-sus, it felt like a year, but who the hell knows exactly. Back then, er, whenever, this plateau still had a functioning settlement- some old man volunteered to keep track o’ ‘time’- which I guess is to say that if time somehow passed in some measurable way, how much would have gone by? And his name was- ah, you’ll never believe this- it was Harold Minute the 2ndhad a long white beard and everything!” Finnen shook his head, barely containing his laughter.

“But I guess it was good. We painted the insides of all the blinds with some nighttime imagery- stars, a full moon- an’ all this was the old man’s idea. I guess it had its place- gave us some semblance of normalcy. But- ha! The name… can you imagine that? I guess some people grow into their names. And it just so happens that Harold Minute the 2nd grew up to be a livin’ grandfather clock who looked like father time.

“One day, H. Minute, the 2nd , up an’ announces that about a year had passed since he arrived. The buildings you see all around us? All alive like my little pub. All holdin’ families, just like a normal little village, ‘cept the sun just hung there, only just peaking over horizon like a curious little one who doesn’t want to go to bed. And it’s by the wise council of Mister Minute the 2nd that we learned that time was decidedly inconsistent in its application.

“In one sense, you were locked in the moment- families came as families, and you can’t conceive children here. You don’t age here, either. If you came here healthy, then you stayed healthy- couldn’t catch a cold, or pneumonia for example. For a long time, people came to the Rest were mostly healthy- maybe a slight cold or cough, but it never spread beyond the carrier- must have been quite the pain in the arse for them though- imagine having an eternal tickle in the back of yer throat. Anyway, the real trouble didn’t start until later.

“Creighton’s Rest was, originally, a kind of paradise- you don’t age or get sick, there’s always a beautiful sunset, plenty of food, good company. Basically, for all intents and purposes, we were in a moment- the moment; a good one too- and it stretched on forever in all directions, like it was all that ever was an’ all that ever would be- but such an alien set of circumstances- well, we humans can’t perceive that right, so we just carried on, happy as you please. An’ I can see why he thought this was some kind of earthly paradise. It was like some surreal, but pleasant dream– and who would want to wake up from that? We didn’t get bored or restless, which made a sort of sense- I mean, boredom is the passage of time unoccupied by something fulfillin’, and that didn’t apply. There was just a sense of… peace. Contentment.

“Creighton did mention that crown of yers every now and then- some hidden city with boundless treasures… and a number of people did go after it, but we never saw any of them again. They descended the ladder built into the cliff, an’ simply never saw ’em again. Guess that’s why they called it the ‘Crown of Fools’.”

“How did things work here?” asked Petka, twisting his beard out of habit.

“Well,” replied Finnen, placing his feet on an ottoman he had placed in front of his chair, “It was Creighton’s rest, so naturally Creighton was in charge. He was a soldier in a far off place or time…or both. Had seen some terrible things. And the Missus- name of Johannah- a real hellcat, temper an’ all- but had a bleedin’ heart to help the sufferin’ under her care, and was a beyond competent nurse- set bones, bandaged wounds- you name it. We loved ’em like a king and Queen, but they hardly ruled as a monarchy. Wouldn’t ‘ave it. An’ the people that found themselves here were at worst annoying- no murderers or thieves– nothin’ like that. Creighton never brought that kind o dreck back here. He could tell jes by lookin’ in yer eye what ya were.

“Well, Creighton, havin’ a copy of Chaim’s book- found in France of all places- took to rescuin’ people from the outside. He got real good at navigating the tests that led here, so he would almost effortlessly backtrack through the little wooded paths that led here, and enter the ‘real world’. Only problem with the whole thing was that we exist as a sort of… well, ‘waypoint’ – so when Creighton entered the ‘real world’, there was really no telling exactly where or when you would end up. I don’t know how many books of ivory and leaves there are out there, but the little labyrinth that leads here connects to any time and everywhere- just a roll o’ the dice I guess where you’ll actually end up if ya try ta leave, an’ just who you might find. Creighton didn’t care though. He would stalk through the woods with his rifle, and if he found someone in danger with an honest heart he’d lead them to the Rest. Some real heartbreakin’ stories too- some men owned by others, some occult despot tryin’ to eliminate a people- Christ, I’m glad I got trapped here when I did, the future turned out to be real grim an’ dark.

“Things went well as could be for quite some time- almost a full decade if good Sir Harold Minute, the 2nd was to be believed. We came to thinkin’ it was something of a transitory place- some people decided to go back to the real world, rollin’ the dice on when an’ where it would spit them out; most decided to make Creighton’s Rest home…An’ others- the adventurin’ types? They tried for the crown an’ the kingdom- but like I said before, they just disappeared. An’ all was all very pleasant until one ‘day’ Creighton brought a group of people- 15 or 20 I think- into the settlement. And they were sick as dogs; sicker, even.

“Poor creatures coughed an’ sneezed, an spit up blood, wheezed and wept, covered in pussin’ sores and suffered unimaginably- an’ people were scared of them- afraid of catchin’ whatever torment they had- they couldn’t o’ course, we knew that, but to see sickness so cruel and stark…

“So Creighton and I build those little cottages- sick houses we called ’em- at the end of the prairie- an’ Johannah went over every ‘day’ to try to treat them- she wore no mask or anythin’, just carried bags of herbs and tonics and whatever medicines could be made or scavenged- tried absolutely anything that could have helped. An’ as the days passed, and Johannah never caught their illness, we realized the potential for the true horror of this place.

“Like I said before, the rules are unwritten an’ apparently loosely applied- you break a leg here, your body starts to mendin’ an’ you get better… But come here with a sickness…you’re deadlocked. See, we had no idea what the poor wretches were sufferin’ from, an apparently neither did their bodies because they were stuck- couldn’t get better an’ they couldn’t die. The sickness was ‘held’ for lack of a better word. Could wreak all the havoc it wanted, an’ the people couldn’t even die ta find peace with the Lord- they just suffered so hellishly…An’ nothin’ we could do made a God-damned bit of difference. No cure took- hell, we couldn’t even lessen their symptoms. They were in suspended animation– ravaged by the cruelest bug we had ever seen, but because o’ the nature of this place, it couldn’t end them. I mean, we’re in a moment, right? A moment forever stretchin’ in the past, and into the future, only those things don’t really exist- the past is gone, and the future doesn’t exist yet- it’s just now, and whatever is happenin’ now, and if you’re healthy, well great, but if not…well it can never end. Not even death could swoop in an’ save them, an none of us were murderers…

“Held, they were in sickness an’ misery- that’s hardly a ‘rest’ is it? It’s the literal definition of hell. It’s just until that point things were hunky-dory; but now the other side o’ the coin was starin’ us well in the face. Perfect weather, eternally on the cusp o’ eventide, plenty of food- an if you’re healthy, it’s near perfect. But if you come in sick, and stay sick in perpetuity… well, the place lost it’s magic; maybe had none ta begin’ with- jus’ what we gave it.

“So eventually, the leader of the group of the ill comes to Creighton wearing a mask over his mouth spattered in crimson, an’ tattered, sick-smellin’ clothes, an’ they asked to be let out- back into the forest- no, not into the real, proper one, but just into the forest maze, you know, with all the danger- the ol’ deathtrap outside. Hell, even with the book it was potentially deadly, an’ without one? Aye- make peace with your God.”

Chaim cleared his throat and asked, “Why didn’t they go back into the real world?”

“Good question, Canid. If they were to leave the way they came in, there was no tellin’ just where or even when- they would, in all o’ history have ended up. An’ for all the mystery of this place, all the half- laws and contradictions, and utterly unreliable application of time an’ its effect on humans– the leader o’ that little band of sufferers understood the utterly unpredictable nature of leavin’– truly leavin’ that is, and he wasn’t willin’ to unleash some hellish pandemic on wherever and whoever they would have ran across.”

“So… what happened to them?” asked Petka with a pained look on his face, clearly anticipating the worse.

Finnen sighed deeply.

“The forest took ’em,” he replied in a low, voice, tinged with pain, “An’ that’s it. Left without Creighton, the only man who could lead em, and they just vanished into the trees. Without dat little map ya got there Fawcett, the forest’ll gobble ya up whole. But I ‘spose ya know that proper, don’t ya?”

Petka did not press for details; they were written in the pink-ribbon scars and the misty eyes of the Irishman’s face. Finnen took a long gulp of whiskey and continued, with more than a hint of anxiety in his voice.

“Creighton took the whole thing as his fault; the Missus felt it was all her fault, when of course it wasn’t either o’ their faults. This was the first time that they really couldn’t save somebody, or even alleviate their pain. I mean, it’s different, right? Somebody is homesick for reality and wants out? Fine. Some idiot wants to go after the treasure literally known as ‘The Crown of Fools?’ Fine. Can’t stop ’em. The former end up somewhere, some-when; the latter get ‘et up by somethin’ or killed by somthin’- can’t stop em. But those sick people, oh that was somethin’ entirely different. They came for escape, for rest, respite, succor- what they found were a bunch of kind souls and unmitigated sufferin’.

“It was then we realized something- Creighton’s Rest was truly a rest– but even that is a bit of a misnomer. It’s a place of suspended animation, where the rules are applied in a shotgun blast of unpredictable nonsense. And that cheeky sun at eventide, the occasional cooling breeze- it’s all a joke; a cruel one at that. This was never meant to be a home. It was s’posed to be a rest- stop. But we were happy an’ well fed, and just… didn’t see the truth.

“Then, one ‘day’, Creighton gathered everyone at the inn. He’s in his soldier’s garb, carbine loaded and shouldered an a look o’ grim, pale death on ‘is face, an Johannah, she’s right there too with all she can carry. Tells us their gonna find the crown proper, hopin’ to lead us, his ‘citizens’, for lack of a better word, to the end-game-promised-land- milk an’ honey, good an’ ice cream. Some dynamic place of night and day, laughter and tears, were things ain’t suspended forever.”

“A place beyond purgatory,” offered Petka quietly.

“Aye, a good way to put it. We were all fooled- Christ on a bike- we had fooled ourselves with the illusion o’ paradise- there was always plenty to eat, and we felt good- hell, it certainly looked the part. Sure, the sick couldn’t infect the rest of us for whatever backwards reason- well, not physically anyway, but with a different kind o’ bug that gets into your mind and refuses to let go, a sickness o’ perception. Our dusky heaven had suffering unimaginable and fathomless hopelessness, and in the end, the only thing we could do to make it go away was ta make them- the sick- go away–Christ, I can hardly say it- was to let the forest take them.

“ And now, this moment that stretched on in infinite wasn’t one of rest or happiness, but of uneasy fear, a place tainted by suffering an’ hopelessness an’ the impossibility of the mercy that would have been death for the poor sick bastards. They didn’t so much bring in sickness, as they brought in fear, and it clung to us as if it were to never let go. So as reluctant as we were to see Creighton an’ the Missus descend the ladder into the night to find some Fool’s head-ornament and with it, the vague promise of a kingdom, we really couldn’t argue. It was a ‘rest’ no more, and only forward motion could pull us out of the horrors we saw.

I offered, of course, to go with them, but they wanted me to stay- ‘Needed muscle’ they said, an’ I wasn’t in a position to argue. They put ol’ father time in charge, went down the ladder, an’ we never saw them again– but whatever they did, they stirred up somethinterrible.

“Creighton an the Missus must have woken up somethin’ the also-rans didn’t, because a day or so- at least accordin’ ta Harold Minute the 2nd, things started crawlin’ up that rickety old ladder an into our dusky little time-prison. Most, if not all were little more than sinew holding molderin’ bones in place all with a little glow from within, an’ they wore all manner of clothes; some in rusted, iron armor, others in khaki and camouflage; some had swords or clubs, others were swingin’ rusty rifles- there seemed to be no end to the ragged lot, all gnashin’ their teeth and thirsty for blood but nothin’ more than walkin’ bones. What made them into…them… whether there was somethin’ they said wrong, or didn’t say- I haven’t a bloody clue- but I would swear to Stella Maris an’ Agnes Dei that I was lookin’ at the walkin’ failures that tried for the crown an’ the kingdom before Creighton and the Missus climbed on down and some others besides.

“At least alive, they weren’t bad folk- not gold-mad fools who lusted for riches- they just wanted to be safe an have a real life where time behaved, and not to rot in a single moment. But whatever the hell happened to them changed whatever good intentions they once had, an’ now they were out for blood, for viscera- they brought death, and a messy death at that, and they were hardly picky when it came to the application of their brutal trade. Anyway, now they were warbling around, attacking the livin’ folks in the Rest, didn’t spare for age or gender- not a shred o’ mercy, but why would their empty skulls have any concept o’ either?

“Now when it started, I was good an’ drunk, layin’ on me belly on the cold, stone floor of my little pub, writin’ a letter to Father Time, sayin’ that I would be going after Creighton and the Missus. Clearly, they were in trouble, and were hardly brash fools- they were tryin’ to help us- all of us find some peace in some far-away place, made sweet again by the passing of time. Then I heard the screams.

“I grabbed me gun an’ a club and ran out into the streets, an the town is full of walkin’ bone men, slaughterin’ the good folk indiscriminately, slashing or striking stupidly with whatever rusted tool o’ war they carried in their bony fingers. They hit hard, an’ over and over again ’til the victim was a pulp. They weren’t quick or smart or coordinated, but damnably strong- almost immediately cut down a fair number o’ folk they caught off guard an’ ones not fast enough to get away.”

“Gods,” said Chaim under his breath, wringing his hands, “I’ve seen some terrible things but… no, that’s all to real. Visceral. Tragic. I…I’m sorry…”

“It’s OK Canid,” said Finnen, spitting to his left, “You needn’t apologize for the mechanics of a screwed up world that you yerself are oppressed by.”

There was a moment of silence before Finnen started again, taking a deep breath, then exhaling slowly, and closing his eyes tight as if to aid in recalling a memory that must have been already far too painful.

“So I started shootin’. An’ swingin’. Crackin’ skulls an’ ribs, and shouting over the din to see if the others were OK- well, they wasn’t. Father time, God bless him, had ushered the survivors into the cave guarded by that pachyderm, the idea bein’ that the thing would let them out- after all, it had let Creighton out countless times; they would just have ta tug on its tail. And despite my pleading to for them to stay and fight between either delivering or taking a hammer blow from these bony demons, they ran into the cave, pulled on the elephant’s tail, beggin’ to be let out. Son of a bitch pretended to be asleep. Their are scratch marks on his back from the others- gouges in the stone. He says mum. Snores louder to drown out the cries.”

Finnen bowed his head, and wiped away a tear from his emerald eyes.

“Not one soul made it out of the cave. The dead had the people cornered, slashin’ and swinin’, and those carnivorous little bastards – the gnomes- tore them to pieces, ate them up. Between the dead and the gnomes and the blocked exit, the people didn’t stand a chance. Oh, an’ of course, the dead didn’t kill the gnomes, and the gnomes didn’t eat the dead- perfect charnel storm. It was a nightmare Fawcett, Canid. An’ once the people, the villagers, my friends were all dead, the skeletons filed past me as if I didn’t exist, gibbous posture an’ draggin’ their weapons on the ground, then stupidly climbed down that damnable ladder to the nighttime below. Guess they figured one man wasn’t worth it. Or maybe they wanted a witness. Can’t say.”

Petka piped in respectfully, “So why didn’t the elephant let them out?”

Here, Chaim shook his head, and answered in a hushed tone.

“The elephant thing is a guardian. His job is just as much to keep things in as out. It wasn’t that he couldn’t let the people out- it was that he couldn’t let the dead out. To do that would let whatever malign force that controlled them out in the world with them. You humans dream of, well living in a dream- and those things with wicked hearts and cruel little brains dream of leaving the dream and entering reality- and it can’t be allowed to happen- still, that rocky idiot could have said something- ripped asunder by the dead and skeletonized by those flesh hungry things… nobody deserves that.”

Stony silence hung in the air for a moment, then Petka spoke up.

“Finnen, I’m truly sorry for what happened. I can’t imagine that you’re anywhere close to rest. Why in God’s holy name are you staying here?”

Finnen sighed, and shook his head, as if even he was in doubt of what he was going to say.

“Well, at first, it was to wait for Creighton and the Missus, but without Father Time, I had no idea- could have no idea- exactly how long I had waited, or was supposed to wait. I thought about going after them, but decided to stay. Part to keep the whole story alive, and part to warn any fools- an’ their wolves on two and four legs- to leave the way they came. The dead are gone, and a sturdy kick to the stony rump of that deviant will get him to move. To tell adventurers who find ’emselves ‘ere that anything further than this is death, and hell, it may just as well be death to stay. So take your Raksha and go- wolves have a sixth sense, she can lead you back to some safe time and place; forget about that stupid crown and forget about this God-damned fever dream.”

Then, after a moment Finnen added, “Chaim, you can stay or go- doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care whether you piss or go fishin’- but that being said… I… I do enjoy your company.”

“Thanks?” said Chaim, not quite sure if it was a slight or a compliment.

“Finnen,” said Petka with some urgency, “I mean, we’ve come so far! To just turn around? I-”

“No,” interrupted Finnen sternly, “You already had it right, Petka. Despite that the Rest appears beautiful, this place, an’ the people lost whatever ‘rest’ that was to be had a long time ago. It’s now nothin’ but agony- agony barely hidden behind an innocent, perpetual sundown. Leave.”

Petka put his head in his open palms, occasionally looking up at a stone-faced Finnen- he was deep in thought, mouthing words, occasionally whispering to himself and shaking his head.

“No,” said Petka sternly, slamming his fists on the table, “I am going onward. You’re right- this whole place is just a painted lie- your moment’s been blackened, and mine was never too rosy to begin with- just curiosity mixed with stinging bites. I appreciate you staying to warn people away from here, but there’s really no need. Creighton brought people here for rest- for safety, and out of the goodness of his heart. But without him picking up the distressed, the only people who will come this way are people like me- those who would rather die filling in the dark corners of the map with light, even by one footstep, than live a regular existence- even if that sleepy calm were to last forever.

“So I ask you Finnen, my recklessly brave friend,” started Fawcett, puffing out his chest proudly, “Will you take a chance- no matter how slim for the spectacular, or would you prefer to while away an eternity in malaise and misery?”

First, an expression of anger drifted across Finnen’s scarred face, but it was soon replaced by a look a sadness, mixed with a sort of manic determination.

“Fisk it,” he said, unflinchingly punching the adjacent stone wall, heedless of his bleeding knuckles, “Creighton an’ the Missus haven’t come back, an’ if they’re on their way now, we’ll either run inta them, or die trying. Fine, Fawcett, I’m in. But we look for Creighton and Johannah first– not just some God-damned Crown of Fools.”

“You’ve got a deal, Finnen. They will be- are- first priority. Chaim? What about you? Coming or staying?”

“What?!” replied Chaim with no little excitement, “Going, of course! Try and stop me! Besides, having a Spirit of the Lonely Hollows may come in handy.”

“Just how, exactly?” asked Finnen, bald head in his callused palms.

“Well, I can cast those two hexes. And I know stuff.”

“Good enough for me,” said Fawcett with excitement, “With that being said, we need your help. We need you to cast a hex on us.”

“Very good!” replied Chaim, “Though to be honest, I am not exactly sure how reducing the two of you to ash will help us in out cause.”

Fawcett was exhausted beyond words, and simply let his head hit the table. Finnen’s pale face and bald head grew quite red with rage.

The other one, Canid! You have two- just two hexes, and why in the name of everythin’ that’s holy would we ask you to reduce us to ashes?! Just what in God’s Holy name would that accomplish?! Honestly! Don’t ya think he wanted to be well rested, or in yer lupine heart o’ hearts did you think he wanted to hear the crackle of hellish flames, a moment of silence, then a ‘howdy!’ from Saint Peter!? Well

“I just wanted to make sure- different people are into different…stuff. And I don’t see why you have to yell at people,” said Chaim defensively and winking slyly at Petka. He then muttered something in an unknown tongue, and moved his hands and fingers about in a very strange way, and Fawcett and Finnen immediately dropped into a deep, undisturbed, restful “Eight hour” sleep.

“Goodnight my friends,” whispered Chaim, draping unicorn furs over their sleeping forms. He also took this chance to place Finnen’s scarred and calloused hand into a small bowl of warm water.

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