Taxson has stopped keeping up with Miss Hart. She’s been running from passer-by to passer-by, asking about any recent party, which is silly, as this is the Ruby District and there are likely a dozen parties a day and a dozen more at night. Really, the “clues” that tiefling gave was nothing more than basic information. A person at a party has it! Wow! So special!
They stand next to Mx. Satchi, waiting for Miss Hart to tire herself out, if she has the ability to do so.
She’s been at it for an hour, seemingly determined to ask every person in the Ruby District. While waiting, Taxson takes out a gold coin and hands it to Mx. Satchi. Mx. Satchi stares at it, confused.
“To make up for the ‘seer’,” Taxson explains. “It’s not fair for him to take advantage and scam you like that.”
“Oh! That’s all right,” Mx. Satchi waves the coin away, smiling sheepishly. “Even if it’s not true, I don’t think it was a scam. It was interesting to listen. Besides, he probably needs it more than I do.”
Taxson cocks an eyebrow, genuinely confused. “Aren’t you here on scholarship?”
“Oh, uh…” Mx. Satchi looks away, blushing even more, and it’s only just now that Taxson realizes how rude he must have sounded.
“Sorry,” he says quickly.
“No, I mean,” Mx. Satchi stutters. “I just, I don’t know. I’m well off now, so I don’t need it as much, I feel like. Also, it’s kind of nice, spending money on something a little more fun…”
They grow quiet at the end, avoiding eye contact, which is fine, because Taxson has a hard time with eye contact anyway.
“It’s a bad habit to get into,” he tells them. “Spending money willy-nilly. You have to be careful with it.”
“Right, of course,” Mx. Satchi nods. “I’ll try to be less stupid.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Oh, I know! I just—Golly, let me shut my trap.”
Sure enough, they stay quiet after that, and Taxson doesn’t push them any further. This always happens—he tries to say or do something nice, but ends up putting his foot in his mouth and insulting the other party instead.
Slowly, he reaches out to Mx. Satchi, trying to slip the coin in their pocket without being noticed, but their eyes give the quickest glance. Even so, they don’t fight against it.
It takes another hour, to the point that the sun is starting to set, before Miss Hart comes running back with a smile on her face.
“I got it!” she exclaims. “I think I know where the flute is!”
“Really?” Taxson asks, doubtful.
“Yeah, okay, I admit, the whole ‘average human height fella at a party’ is a bullshit clue,” Miss Hart confesses, the swear causing Taxson to wince. They weren’t used to someone so young using such language, but it’s not too shocking for someone of her status to say it. “But remember, that guy called it a name? The Queen’s Tongue? So, I asked about that instead and, lo and behold, I got several people to confirm that the flute was lent to a certain Myers Anakim, who routinely plays at the Tick Tock club.”
Miss Hart finishes with a smirk and Mx. Satchi claps their hands fiercely.
“That’s great!” Mx. Satchi beams. “So Merrill did help after all!”
“I dunno who the fuck that is, but yeah!” Miss Hart starts jogging in place, ready to go. “C’mon, Tick Tock’s not far!”
And just like that, she’s running off without them. Mx. Satchi gives Taxson a hopeful smile before rushing off as well. Taxson sighs, then takes off after them before he’s left behind.
By the time they reach Tick Tock, the sun has more than set, which is when the Ruby District truly comes alive. Excited laughter, joyous screams, upbeat music, tap tap dancing, any noise associated with jovial parties and fun times is pouring onto the streets, and it’s giving Taxson a headache. They’ve been to their own fair share of parties, of course, but they’re much more subdued and never so many different kinds at once.
Tick Tock specifically is packed, seeming to be the club to be in. The three of them have a difficult time pushing their way through, and an even harder time keeping together. How in the world were they going to find Myers Anakim here?
They try looking at the stage first, where there’s a swing band playing. But no doubt that Myers is not there; every member is either a dwarf or a halfling, nowhere near human sized.
“Should we try asking around again?” Mx. Satchi’s normally quiet voice sounds strange as they yell to be heard.
Miss Hart stands on her toes, scanning the crowd. “Let’s not just ask anybody. Find someone who works here. They might know more.”
For once, Miss Hart has a good point. Taxson’s eyes immediately glance over at the bar. If anyone would know, the bartender would.
He wordlessly makes their way to the bar, Miss Hart and Mx. Satchi having only the briefest chance to share glances before following.
The bartender, a female gnome, glances up as they approach and shakes her head.
“You’re not old enough,” she tells them.
“We’re not here for drinks,” Taxson says.
“And if we were, you have no idea if we’re old enough or not,” Miss Hart cuts in.
“You’re baby faced and you’re wearing those feather uniforms.” The gnome gestures with her head at Miss Hart’s clothes.
“Speaking of uniforms,” Taxson says tersely, trying to stay on task, “we’re actually here on an assignment. We heard that a Myers Anakim works here. Is he around at all?”
“Right, I think he mentioned something about that.” The gnome turns and snaps towards a dwarf. “Hey, Auda! Take these kids in the back! They’re the ones Anakim’s waiting for.”
“Alright!” The female dwarf puts down their drink and nods her head towards the back. “This way.”
The three of them follow Auda to the backstage of the club. In the corner, whistling to himself as he’s at the mirror applying makeup, is a human man with tanned skin and white tangled hair.
“Ana!” Auda calls and the human looks back, smiling at the students.
“Well, you’re finally here,” he says, before looking to the dwarf. “Thank you. I’ve got them now.”
Auda nods and leaves them.
“Good evening, sir,” Taxson says, offering his hand to shake, which Mr. Anakim takes. Eye contact. Remember to make eye contact. “I’m sure you’re aware, but we’re students from Fetherbane Academy. We believe you have an item we need for our assignment?”
“That, I do,” Mr. Anakim confirms.
“Excellent,” Taxson says, allowing himself to grin as well. “If you can just tell us where it is, then we’ll go grab it and be out of your way.”
“Ah, I’m afraid that part of your plan may not be so easy.”
“I beg your pardon?” Taxson says.
Miss Hart gives a deep sigh. “Don’t tell me you fucking lost it,” she says, earning herself a sharp hit in the chest from Taxson’s elbow. “Ow! You dick!”
Mr. Anakim gives a low chuckle. “It’s not quite that simple,” he says, and pulls out a scimitar at the same time.
Immediately, the three students are on their guard. Miss Hart turns around. “Shit, behind us too.”
Taxson follows her gaze to see that the band that was on stage has finished and has come to the back—with their own weapons.
“I think any good adventurer should know that no treasure will be given up without a good fight,” Mr. Anakim states, the smirk still on his face. “So, which of us should take the initiative?”
Slowly making my way through this! Fetherbane requires a lot more world-building and creativity, plus it adheres to the D&D rules more strictly than Stolen House does for the CoC rules, so it takes me a bit to write each chapter. Still, though it’s slow going, I’m excited for it! I really wanna explore the world more and also use this to get some practice for homebrewing items and creatures. I have so many ideas, but I’m always worried about getting the balance right.
NO idea what I’m going to post next week. I think another Stolen House chapter could work, but I kind of want to share a short story—maybe even write one between now and then. Sometimes it’s nice to let loose on a one-off story and share it~
Anyhoo, thanks for reading!
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