Another fortune-telling complete. Once the young woman leaves, Ane adjusts her veil and slips back into character for the remainder of her clientele. The narrative she weaves is a constant balancing act. Hopefully, she won’t have to dispense more herb-lore to them; it’s enough just to have to spin ways to relate cards showing oysters or cute little clap-voles to Paakoese notions of enlightenment and spiritual prosperity. On the bright side, they’ve been satisfied so far… Well. Most of them, anyway.
She redoubles her efforts, sweating under her veil in the midday heat. Much like the prior day, the number of customers is rather large. This time, though, the Teller of Fortunes gets into a nice frame of mind that lends well to local needs. The tips are more plentiful this time, and Ane takes home an astounding haul of gold mitres. By now, she could buy enough bleating vulre to fill her entire tent.
It’s just as well, too; this will probably be the largest take for quite some time. She’s heard word going around the caravan that this will be the last day within central Paakoponde. The troupe could probably stay for longer, but by now, everyone’s used to the place; if they get too comfortable, the group’s Grifter-in-Chief, Caravan Master Jarrik would probably get them into too much trouble. That’s what happened in Pellas, anyway. Fortunately, he should be occupied with refilling the caravan’s ranks of guardsmen…
Too many died on the last trail.
As the working day draws to a close, people are beginning to clump up into different groups based, looking for adventure. As Ane takes down her tent, she can easily ovehear some of them. One group, including Korin the actor and the dancing triplets, are interested in checking out tourist sights, like the grand Vault of Sojythus and its gardens. Others, like Nelea the animal tamer and Brair the fire-breather, are more interested in checking out the wildlife and the ancient ruins scattered throughout the woods. They are rather common out in the bogs…
Naturally, there are others that seem to be staying behind. Ane’s mind is drawn to considering the man with the twisted arms who appeared mysteriously days ago, tormented and displayed by the caravan master for all to see. He remains unseen, likely off in whichever wagon he’s staying within. A couple of the less-sociable caravanners seem to be clustered around that wagon. The klorrian magician, always a reclusive one, is wistfully contemplating under one of the large trees. He appears to be talking to his pocket at great length, with a pair of fuzzy smeerp ears sticking out. Then there’s the outcast clown and, well, he’s just kind of mucking around with junk in the clearing. He’ll probably run off to bother the locals after awhile.
Ane isn’t sure what she’d like to do — foraging might be nice, but it can get lonely at times. She’s curious about the man with the twisted arms, but isn’t remotely sure if he’d welcome visitors. She could take the time to relax and see where her herbs take her, maybe investigate the little stone slipshel some more, but she’ll have time enough for that while they’re on the road.
A half hour later, Ane’s kitted out with some sturdy clothing, her basket, and a small sickle-bladed knife. The caravan won’t need more medicine anytime soon, luck permitting, but it’s still worth seeing what fresh herbs she can find while she’s here. They’re always better and more potent when they’re taken fresh from their native habitats.
Fortunately, foraging in and around Paakoponde is rather easy. It’s a nearly trivial matter for Ane to collect some of her favorite hallucinogens, particularly more of the blue bolete. A simple stroll along the glittering riverside yields plenty, enough to really weigh down her basket if she were to spend the time on it. Ane’s familiarity with the mushroom makes it very easy to identify, even amongst its many peers.
As Ane walks, there’s movement in her peripheral vision. It appeared as if there were some sort of shimmering figure swimming amongst the river’s waves. Out here, who knows what it could have been?
There’s also another notion in the back of her head: There are a few breeds of insect that produce hallucinogenic honey. And in hindsight… Some of those “shardflies” looked rather similar. All told, since these creatures included everything from beetles to flutter-by’s, it wouldn’t be unheard-of for them to also manifest as bees. Honey would keep better than herbs, and wouldn’t be nearly as finicky about needing to be dried and kept cool. On the other hand, buying hallucinogenic honey sounds complicated and expensive, and, if she were to try to gather it herself, there’s no telling what the stings would be like.
For now, she contents herself with the basket of blue bolete. Between this and the couple of specimens she picked up the previous day, she should have enough to travel every day for the next few months if she was able. She just needs to clean out a few jars and procure some liquor from Brair, the fire-breather, to steep the mushrooms in.
Another fine day in Paakoponde.