Caught Between Worlds
7th Entry James
Several more long nights, I wish I could say that I was getting used to them but I’m not. Fortunately they have coffee here, it’s no Red Bull, but it does the job. On an interesting up note I had one of the most impacting and beneficial conversations with the crazies. They were all settling into city life but still expressing frustrations about Klaus, various threats of hazing to physical abuse, same as before. I believe they actually heard and understood me when I explained that the rules of the wilderness they had been living by for so long were out of place in a city, especially this city. I explained how there would be significant consequences to their actions, things that they wouldn’t be able to fight their way through. They were not aware that “law & order” in this city are more dictated by coin than justice. The Britt chimed in with a “We weren’t really going to do those things to Klaus,” and ROTC threw in a well timed, “Well…” My point was made once they understood that a simple form of organized crime was prevalent in the city and that I was not sure what influence Klaus had with them.
It did not become a topic of conversation, but I did have several days of interaction with Klaus. It was… interesting. He never truly got under my skin as I have still been interested in sizing up his position in the city, which I now know is non-existent, as several others had muttered under their breath. He is certainly part of the upper crust so he wasn’t misleading us there. Personally I’m formulating a theory where Klaus inadvertently sold himself into slavery through bad gambling practices. He owes several people money and he does not seem to have any liquid assets in the city. He does have apartments which aren’t too bad and if nothing else I will keep his company just to sleep in this level of comfort. The time will come when he will outgrow that usefulness however. He did arrange for me to get a discount at a local tailor, I am grateful for that. I would be more grateful if I hadn’t needed to pay off Klaus’s tab before I could get the discount. So far the bakany have not been much trouble either, considering they are all poster children for ADD and they are now experiencing “Vegas” it is not difficult to understand.
We were just getting together the day we were going to meet Klaus for the payout from his father, I’m not holding my breath there, when the random events caught up with us. Barreling out of a nearby building came two men. They ran directly through our group and plowed into Baseball Goth grabbing his satchel of books and continuing to run. Petty thieving is rather distasteful to me, but I know other’s do it. When it happens my response is akin to a shrug, there just isn’t much motivation for me to give chase, not when I can replace everything I own in fairly short order. My motivation to give chase came in when a group of militiamen came charging out of the same building shouting, “STOP THIEVES!!! Wait now there are more of them. ALL OF YOU STOP!!” I might have mentioned it before but I am not a fan of jail back on Earth and I can only imagine jail here. So I found my motivation to stop the thieves and deliver them to the militiamen.
I must say, even in a city, chasing someone on horseback is much preferred to foot. We had a plethora of obstacles from a slippery surface that made my horse stumble, to dense crowds, unobservant wagoners, and decorative hedges. The latter three posed very little trouble to Capitalism. Ah Capitalism, my horse, I haven’t explained why I have a horse. Let me step backwards a few days…
The morning after I arrived in town I awoke early for my morning annoyance and the dawn workout. Instead of the normal yelling, I was greeted almost as a peer. I would say that was shocking except I am still well aware of how shocking having a ghost who is “bound” to my shield is in general, so his behavior is normally just a foot note. After a formal greeting he told me that the time had arrived when I would pass from squire to knight and that I would need to visit the local Order house to accomplish this. He guided me through the city as if he had been there many times before, very directly and quickly, to a very large… pile of rubble. Apparently the Order of the Emerald Falcon did not do so well in this city. That did not stop him from carrying out the ceremony though, which was apparently a very important step for me. Personally I’m just hoping that he will stop waking me up by yelling, the rest… well the proper internet vernacular is “meh.” He then directed me to the nearby stable and let me know that every knight must have a horse. Up to this point I have been avoiding beasts of burden for two reasons. Back home my preferred method of travel was either foot, walking or running, or plush overstuffed leather bucket seats. Walking has been easy to do, and comforting in a way, the idea of riding an animal that may or may not want you on his back for extended periods of time was not appealing. The second reason was Snap, protecting my investment in travel would have been difficult. He really has a thing for, well anything with four legs. I think I remember lyrics from a recent Marilyn Manson song that describes his focus perfectly.
So there I am walking into the stable thinking about finding something to just appease Mr. Ghost, something that could be strung along behind the wagon, when this fairly large man is thrown over a gate leading into the back area of the livery. I was intrigued because the last time I saw a man fly like that he had been tossed by an experienced Judo instructor for “demonstration” purposes. As I approached the guy, he was cursing about never accepting trades on debts again and something about hating breaking new horses. I asked him what had thrown him and he pointed into the back area and said “that man hating monster.” I had to clarify, asking him what kind of monster it was, he then filled me in. Apparently he had several customers with outstanding debts; everyone in this town works the angles. One person had paid off his dept by negotiating a trade of fresh stock. One of the horses did not appear to be broken and was giving him a lot of trouble. I was intrigued, how could one animal give an experienced livery such trouble. I walked forward to see this man hater. I knew almost immediately that I had found the perfect horse. When I looked at it, it looked right back at me; more than that, it sincerely wanted to make me back away. He raised himself up, flexed and shifted his shoulder and neck muscles, flared his nostrils and stared directly into my eyes. I couldn’t help but laugh, an animal, more importantly a beast of burden, raised to serve man, and here he was trying to make me back down from just looking at him. His attitude was perfect.
I immediately asked the livery how much the horse would cost, without taking my eyes off the beast, we were in a contest of wills after all. To my surprise and delight he said it was free if I could get a saddle on it without it killing me. I hopped into the pen with it and was glad to see a saddle on the far side. The horse stomped one hoof and immediately charged. I was glad that it just planned to run me down because that was the attack I had anticipated. Just as he was on me I sidestepped out of line with him and delivered a sharp poke in-between his leg and belly area, letting him know that I wasn’t easy prey. He wheeled around several feet past me and bared his teeth, I didn’t even know horses did that… We continued this dance back and forth until I finally tired him out and got the bit in place. Over the next several days I spent many hours with him making sure that he knew he was serving only me, everyone else was fair game. And back to the chase, Capitalism had no trouble running people down in the crowd, or running around obstacles to catch in final thief. Nature girl and I reached the first thief at the same time and agreed to let her take him out alone. Right as I was on the second thief’s heals he dodged around a corner and grabbed a pole swinging himself into the prior mentioned decorative hedge. Capitalism and I crashed into the hole that he left behind, right into an elegant tea party of some sort. The main difference being that the focus of everyone’s attention was on a blue skinned ice crystal haired brute of a man who was holding the thief off the ground at arm’s length. Attention quickly shifted to me as I came to a halt. I began to introduce myself and apologize for the intrusion when the crazies started crashing through the hedge. Not all at once, not one right after the other, oh no, with just enough pause in between that I was repeatedly interrupted.
After I was finally able to introduce myself, the metaphysical crazies put together that the two figures in the center of the festivities were “old powers.” I really don’t know what that means but the way they said it told me that they were not to be trifled with. They asked some simple questions about the robber which I answered. They were curious why I would take the time to chase the man down and I explained that he had taken my comrade’s belongings. As I mentioned above, this was not really my motivation but I find when presented with unknowns it is best to say what they think you would say. Unfortunately they interpreted my comment strangely and took the bag off of the thief and said, “Well we have it now, what are you going to do about it?” I replied, “I will simple ask you for the bag.” “We will not give the bag back to readily.” At that point I bowed low, thanked them for their time, and apologized for the interruption. As noted before I do not see a point in hassling over items that can just be replaced so I was done with the situation. However, the others apparently really wanted that bag back. After a brief negotiation it was revealed that these creatures were incredibly bored and we could entertainment through contests to win the bag back. This world really is like a screwed up fantasy novel, I better hit the NYTimes best seller list with this… So the contests were chosen, baseball, marksmanship, rock paper scissors, performance, and “woo’ing.” Even with picking two out of three of the events, things did not go well. So baseball was first, fortunately we had the advantage of understanding how the process worked and we were able to belt one out of the erm… courtyard. That ends the highlights however.
Turns out their idea of a sporting marksmanship contest involved shooting at live targets. This ended up being a real problem for certain people in the group, people who have previously had no trouble dismembering humans with a large piece of steal. Apparently a volunteer target was too unsporting for him vs. an involuntary bug, guard, thug, mercenary, monk, or wolf, which were readily slain without hesitation. Okay the monks were imposters, but they still didn’t volunteer to be cut down where they stood, or ran too, from our assault on their stronghold. Maybe it is just me but there is something backwards here. So they threw the contest, taking the “higher moral ground” which brought us to a tied score.
The next contest was simply rock paper scissors, and somehow I was brought forward to participate in this contest, and I’m still not sure why. I was required to explain how the game is played and then play against the nominated opponent. Apparently I did not explain the game well enough as in the end the other competitor flaunted his “solid rock” strategy. Sadly I was undone by a no strategy, strategy. We then moved into the performance category for which I was also asked to be part of. For someone mostly being treated as an outsider, they certainly ask for my help often enough. Once again my hope is that they see the value I represent and move past any issues they might have. So performing also did not go well, though my competition was a bard, musical instrument to accompany his story and all. Natural talents will only take you so far against professionals. And that brought us to 1 in 4, playing for best of 5.
The “old powers” decided to up the ante and throw us a double or nothing bet for the final contest instead of us just losing. The stake was service to them at some future point. Let’s reflect shall we, the “clan leader,” a.k.a. the stoner, volunteered to be shot by bow and arrow for this bag, and was, not once, but twice. ROTC was hit squarely in the chest by a hundred mile-an-hour fast ball, leaving a significant dent in his armor. They called for my assistance in two competitions, and the girls were planning some sort of strip tease for the woo’ing contest. While that last part would have been interesting, my understanding is that it takes a certain mental outlook to deal with using your body “like a piece of meat,” and they were willing to do this… for… a… bag… And after all of that, a little work at some point in the future was a deal breaker? WHAT? SERIOUSLY?!? I don’t even care about the bag and I’m offended. These people will never be truly successful in life if they aren’t willing to commit 100% to a goal. Donald Trump Save Me! These people are so frustrating. So yeah, the crazies, welcome to my life.
Since everyone gave up at that point we decided to head off to meet Klaus, though we were several hours late at this point. Sure enough he was no were to be found. He did leave a note expressing his irritation around being stood up. I still suspect he left the note within minutes of the meeting time but that’s neither here nor there. I left him a note explaining our run in at the tea party.
The crazies decided to move on from the “finder’s fee” they had been wanting to obtain for so long and run off to investigate some disappearances in a section of town. Fortunately riding a horse is less draining than walking through the crowds waiting to be pick pocketed so the travel was not too bothersome. That being said, standing around trying to look interested while they turned over every nook and cranny of deserted houses was exhausting. It was a bit out of character for everyone as well, up to this point they have been much more about head on aggressiveness not this detective nonsense. I guess if I were to seek some silver lining in all this bouncing back and forth between world view extremes, it would be that an FBI pych-profiler wouldn’t be able to figure out a modus operandi of the group.
So they determine that all of the disappearances are linked to a new establishment selling take-out dinners. Fortunately the clichés from our world have not completed followed us into this world, it was not a Chinese food restaurant cornering the take-out market. I was reasonably impressed that they had implemented a take-out service and that they were being successful with it, a simple marketing campaign with fliers & coupons was helping them. After some preliminary investigations of the place, a stake out strategy was decided on; apparently they have all watched enough crime drama to latch on to this. This was largely uneventful, as ROTC and I were the ones who were willing to stay out all night. In the early hours before dawn the shop received a delivery and I decided to break up the monotony of the evening by going to pressure the workers. They reacted suspiciously to my arrival which I explained to the others. I decided to adopt a little business strategy to pressure the manager into exposing what he knew. In the end I’m sure there were more effective ways of getting the information that they wanted to get from him but sometimes you just need to go with what is familiar. After all here was a manager of a business, responsible to an investor, dealing with a crowded market, trying to bring his product to the forefront. That is no small feat even with the theory, experience, and technology that I poses.
Considering that I can empathize with him so easily, you might be worried that I would ultimately help this potentially dastardly individual. Fortunately for the people I am surrounded by my philosophy here says that if this business can not stand up to a few days of artificially generated hardships then it isn’t worth my time. So I’m off to implement my plan, paying off enough people to flood this little restaurant with business while cutting off their normal supply lines and hopefully forcing some desperate actions.
This sentence contains enough words for a 3000 word entry.