It was annoying at first.
Caleb’s hand on her shoulder when he looked thru Frumpkin.
It meant she was stuck there.
And she had to watch over him.
Then it got less annoying.
Her shoulder would kinda lean toward him.
A couple of times she just grabbed his hand and put it there.
She didn’t know when she got used to it.
To expect it.
But they were the Empire kids, after all.
She had look out for him.
He thought hard about what he should wear.
Not only was it an important event, it was family.
He was going to ask for help, but no.
He was going to do this on his own.
He went to the fancy clothes shop and saw the vest in the window.
He had to make them make it bigger and that took longer than he thought it should. But they did it.
He found a hat that fit good enough.
When he was walking out was when he saw the lacey thing. And it stretched to fit over his arm just right.
He had to glare at them before they would sell it to him.
Then he was all set.
Grand Poobah de Doink of All This and That off to the Royal Wedding.
Somehow the stars look different out here compared to back home.
Is it the angle, not from out your bedroom window?
Is it cause the sea isn’t there to reflect them back?
Or are the stars the same as always, it’s just the eyes looking at them that are different now?
“You remind me of some other adventurers I know. They were bumblefucks, too.”
Adventurers from Wildemount, come back with Allura.
The monk has a bit of a chip on her shoulder, but it probably used to be bigger.
The paladin is quiet, polite, and taken says the cleric’s eyes.
The other cleric…well, he may be the calmest seen in a long time.
A goblin as rogue? Something else there?
And the wizard. Serious to a fault. Just a sliver like-
“But don’t worry. I excel in finding just what you need. Welcome to Gilmore’s Glorious Goods! Let’s talk shop.”
It was the last thing you wanted.
You were bent on getting to the Academy, getting trained up, and making Vandran proud.
A new-to-the-world Tiefling, with a phallis fixation, was only someone to look out for. Nothing else.
Bad enough when she started looking at ya.
Worse when she started talking like THAT to ya.
This is not what you wanted.
But you start looking at her when she ain’t looking.
Start liking what you see. Really see.
And you start saying little stuff around.
You don’t know when it happened.
You were too busy fighting it.
It was the last thing you wanted.
But it just might want you.
She jumps as she receives the message, sloshing her drink.
Some calculations, yes, she can be in Nicodranas by then.
She grabs her things and collects her horse.
It’s a little rough going but she’s leaving and not coming into the Empire, she makes it on time.
She’s anxious to show them her work on their story.
But she never expected to meet a famous
Even less to discover they need her help,
“Just a quick trip to Rexxentrum.”
You had last worn one, back then.
Before you lost yourself.
Hideous doesn’t deserve finery.
Best not to be looked at,
Keep to the shadows.
Was it the acceptance of your husband?
The growing power of your Caleb?
Or just you, making the choice?
For you to grow as you should.
It might not be being in the right city.
Or the right profession.
It can be the friends you choose to have.
They can be as the soil, sun, and rain.
They can shield you from the ill winds of others.
You grow with them surrounding you.
Caduceus pours the water into the pot; his staff underneath begins to heat it.
“Pride is the double edge sword.”
He crushes the flowers and lets them fall into the pot.
“It can keep you from hearing the words you need to hear.”
He blows into the cups to clear them and sets them next to the pot.
“It can keep you from seeing things for how they are, or are going to be.”
The water now hot enough, he pours the tea into the cups.
“It can seem like your best asset. Always at your side.”
He looks up at the stars, listening to the insects.
“But it can also be a good thing. It can protect you from those who would use or work against you. From those you want, or need, to make you feel less than what you truly are.”
With a smile, Caduceus hands a cup to Fjord.
“Pride can be the crutch. Or the walking stick. You choose.”
Wirh a groan from Fjord,
Jester and Nott decide the best way to show Zadash to Caduceus is shopping.
First they have to go to the Meal Hearth (even though Jester still complains about the lack of cinnamon)
A wave from Iva as they are leaving begets a quick look at Chasity’s Nook.
Beau nudges them to the Basic Clothing for a few fancy adds to her cloak.
For the last they leave The Invulnerable Vagrant.
Nott’s eyes dart from Caduceus to Pumat and back, sharp for signs of recognition between the two.
Pumat remembers them well (it took quite the while to restock after the last visit).
There’s no talk of the war, just a long breath taken and another memory shared with Caduceus.
For a day, they slip the burden off.