Thursday, February 11, 2021

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

Nobody tried to get me off Ody. I growled at anyone who came too close, until Secondus knelt beside me and shook my shoulder. He helped me stand while Primus and Tertius picked up Ody and escorted him away.

The remaining storytellers shooed the gathered crowd of players and NPCs back to their campsites.

-

"What are you going to do?" Secondus asked, when we were finally alone.

"Finish what I started. Go back to bed."

"Do you need to borrow a tent?"

"No. All I need is to be released from my story."

"It's done. ...What are you going to do?"

"You don't want to know."

He patted my shoulder. "You know where to find me if there's anything I can do." Secondus turned from the ashes and headed back to camp.

I stared at what remained a few minutes longer, before heading back into the woods.

-

Panna was more or less where I'd left her, though she shuddered as I approached. "I didn't know, I'm sorry I didn't know."

"What did you know?"

"He was angry and wanted me to follow you and make sure you make it back to your tent. I didn't know he was going to burn down your stuff."

"And me inside it."

"I didn't know," she cried.

"What did he pay you?"

"The purse you already took from me, plus another one just like it after he was done with whatever he was doing."

"Anything else?"

"That's all he told me."

"What didn't he tell you?"

She was quiet for a long minute, tears streaming down her face. "I can't."

I sighed. "Turn on your light."

Panna flicked on a small flashlight and I poured the contents of the purse into my hand, examined them, before putting them back.

"These are counterfeit. They're not game currency."

"How do you know?"

I glared at her. "Turn off the light."

"How do you know they're not real?"

"Because I know who minted the real ones. --You're going to owe me."

"What? But that's all I got--"

"I don't care. You're going to work for me to pay off every coin you thought you were going to earn for setting me up, and I'm not paying Ody's rates either."

"That's not fair."

"Would you rather I turn you in as a co-conspirator? You'll never play here again. Ody is done, he won't play anywhere once this gets out; do you want to risk the same? Do you want a lifetime ban too?"

She stifled her objections, her sobbing, and merely shook her head.

"Do you have any reason to believe I am less than honorable to the game or my ethics?"

She shook her head again.

"Then this is just. You know the cost. It's your choice."

She held her tongue, thinking. "Can I have the counterfeit coins back?"

"Not a chance."

"Okay," she nodded reluctantly. "What do you need me to do?"

--
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