Teller of Fortunes

Teller of Fortunes 20: A Slipshell Endures

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Upon Ane’s return to the city, she’s able to easily find a puffroot cafe nestled underneath a spread set of roots. It bears a sign depicting a tankard and a puff of smoke, indicating that it has both sorts of refreshment. Inside, the atmosphere is very warm and relaxed, with some cushions strewn along the walls and windows for people to sit and relax. The ale is fragrant and relaxing, with some nutty hints; the puffroot is thick and luxurious, lending to an easy calm. It’s all pretty cheap, only costing a silver piece in total; plus, the contact high is free. 

The slipshell fetish is a rather relaxed presence in the basket. It seems to appreciate the atmosphere. The little guy would probably smoke as well, if it could. 

The entire stroll back to the caravan is similarly relaxing, all with that same pleasant haze. She finds the others of the troupe similarly pleased; at least, whoever isn’t still out carousing. Today, no one comes to Ane with any problems or concerns; for now, all of that is forgotten. There’s just the gentle peace of a group of friends, perhaps family, all enjoying their time in the land where little shards fly. 

Ane lets herself into her wagon, inhaling the incense-and-spice-tinged air with a relaxed, happy sigh. She sets her basket down, undressing and donning her robe before she sits at her vanity to comb her hair, rub a few drops of herb-infused oil into her skin, and tend to the other parts of her evening toilette. 

It’s not long before the little round-bellied stove is burning brightly, and there’s a cup of tea steeping beside her bed. She settles herself against her pillows, legs tucked neatly under her, with the little stone slipshell sitting on the bed in front of her. The more she hums over it, the more she notices the subtle details and nuances of the creature. It’s kind of cute, really, with its silly little face. If she didn’t know better, it almost looks relieved — happy to have joined the caravan by way of her basket. The Teller of Fortunes sips her tea while she studies the spots and swirls of the soapstone, dipping and darting into the etched lines of its shell and around the nubbly curves of its horns and clublike tail like the eddies of some strange river. 

The puffroot, as relaxing as it is, is not something she enjoys combining with anything stronger than some root coffee or geltsear leaf tea. Further investigation of the figure, herbally assisted, will have to wait. For now, she’ll sleep on it — if it was willing to call out to her in her sleep all the way from the river, maybe she can hear more now that she has it nearby.

She sets down her empty cup, nestles the soapstone slipshell under her pillow, and slips beneath her blanket to rest. The caravan will be getting ready to roll on soon, with all of the noise and action that attends moving the wagons and not-always-cooperative trumbas (even less so, now that they have to move the heavy wagons through several inches of mud). With luck, the mildly sedative action of the geltsear leaf and the puffroot will be enough to keep it from troubling her sleep.

Through the night, the memory of a dream happens upon her once more. This time, the feeling of “violet” returns once more, but less as a beacon and more as a presence. Peculiarly, the dream seems to consist of travelling around with an actual slipshell — the living, breathing, reptilian creature, albeit with the ability to stand on its hind legs. It mimics some of her doings through the day, whether it’s going to the market or visiting the puffroot den. At one point, the slipshell even shares a roll of puffroot with Ane. Its dopey, glass-eyed face makes a rather comical, relaxed expression. It’s  certainly a companionable presence.

Through it all, there’s a sense of friendly gratitude. Beyond the silly doings of this slipshell, there’s a sense of something ancient, perhaps something wise. It knows much, but speaks little, and takes its time with things. There’s a calm, unassuming sort of power to its stoicness. This calm is a far cry from its distress, back when Ane found it hidden in the swamps.

Even when people step upon it, the slipshell endures.