9.45 GT – The Wandering Inn

9.45 GT

(I am releasing a chapter a day rather than one every 3-4 days. Make sure you’re on the right one and you haven’t missed one! –pirateaba)



The beach never ended.

Three days and the beach endured. Oh, there were challenges.

Late night beach sex.

Trash that people left around.

People banging on the door to be let in after-hours.

One person trying to invite thirty-six guests with them.

Erin Solstice dealt with these problems very simply. She put up a sign saying ‘no littering’, she kicked out anyone who interrupted the beach experience, and she started to ban people from her beach.

“I’m not dealing with it. If you act ‘smart’, then think your way out of a ban. All of you—banned!

She shook a fist at the culprit, for once uncharitably annoyed.

“But Erin—”

“Shut it, Menolit. You’re banned! And you’re banned! And anyone else?

Erin pointed at him, at one of her Drake regulars, Classie, who wore a stricken look, and aimed her banning finger around.

In truth, she got why Menolit had done it. First it had been people from Liscor Hunted, but then he’d begun parlaying her inn for social credit. Then just…money and favors.

She stomped off as he looked woebegone and didn’t tell him that he was only banned for a few days. As for the beach…

“Well now, pardner. Looks like you’re in a right state of mind. Reckon my crew should get back to work. We were just askin’ about draining the water out so we could clean the garden a spell.”

An amazingly accurate southern accent made Erin stop and close her eyes. But she turned and wondered how an Antinium had decided that every time he put on a silver mustache, he should wear a huge cowboy hat and put on the accent and moniker of Silverstache.

Was this racism? Erin smiled at Silveran’s alter ego anyways.

“Good idea, Silveran.”

“Silveran? I don’t know who that is. Silverstache is the name—”

“Right, right. I’ll drain the water since we need to clean it. Valeterisa’s generously said she’ll purify it. Because it’s gross, and people keep peeing in it.

A number of children—and adults—avoided Erin’s gaze. She had the crazed look that all pool-owners inevitably developed. Erin had never understood it.

Crap in the water. Literal and figurative. You needed…chlorine. Something to keep it clean enough. You had to clean the sand. People kept littering! And the sand got tracked into her inn…

Silveran was happy. But Erin Solstice prowled around, actually growling at anyone who dared to annoy her, and those with dubious permits of entry because they weren’t actually her friends kept a low profile.

Here was the thing. Erin was different from Larracel the Haven. She had an oddly bad personality as an [Innkeeper]—which was her dislike of sharing her most private, magical experiences with anyone but her friends.

The beach had been meant for the Order of Solstice. It had been the definition of a private beach, and Erin resented sharing it to the public, despite the hefty business.

In that way, Kevin made the mistake of comparing her to Earth.

“Erin, you’re like those uptight people with their private beaches who want to close it off instead of sharing it. It’s public, chill.”

Her eyes flashed.

“Oh, really? Then you can be the one who cleans up the couples’ section of the beach from last night. Silverstache, give him a rake. No gloves.”

“No, wait, waitwait—

He vanished through a door that opened under his feet with a shout, and several guests stared at that.

She was getting…very adept with her inn. Imagine how she could use that in a fight.




Imagine the fight. If Erin was behind Larracel for the ability to be, well, less personal and more commercial, to be a host regardless of how well she knew someone, she was ahead of even Larracel the Haven, a Named-rank adventurer, in one area.

And that was her ability to war. That was her ability to get one’s blood pumping and call forth the consequences.

She had a way with words. Not in the fancy way of Calanferian prose, but a directness that made blood race and spike.

‘You are invited to the fight of your life.’

It was the feeling like when she had ordered the Knights of Solstice to take on Elia Arcsinger. It was…a hum in the air. Like Zeladona unsheathing her sword. The feeling of distant thunder rolling, a storm brewing.

It was why some of her guests just couldn’t quit on her. Like Chaldion of Pallass.

He couldn’t sit still. He felt his age, in every line of his body, as he paced, because he wanted to be young.

Four decades younger! If only! He was panting from just walking around. But he was giving orders nonstop.

“6th to 8th Armies are no good. We’re out of position for all but three. My disposition is this: 1st Army will reinforce the city’s checkpoints. General Edellein’s 4th Army to hold ground outside of Pallass.”

“Two entire armies, Grand Strategist? It might alarm some members of the city.”


The nervous subordinates tried to raise an objection, but the three [Generals] knew better. General Edellein was gnashing his teeth, Duln was holding his head under his arm, and the third [General], Shirka, was silent.

They were the ones closest to Pallass at any given hour, and the commanders of the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Army had been summoned to an emergency meeting by the Grand Strategist this morning.

“Grand Strategist. Are you certain this intelligence is accurate? And are we really going to—”

Help Liscor? Those bastards that minced us up at the Trial of Blades?

Edellein broke over Duln, his voice terse with anger. But Chaldion just glanced at him and snorted.

“You’re not going, and I cannot march an army to Liscor even if I wanted to. Erin Solstice will have to be satisfied with a fraction. General Shirka, you have roughly two weeks to get into position.”

That was all the time until the end of the month. Less, really, but Shirka gave him a lazy salute.

“Via door?”

“It’s four hundred miles. I still want to visit that beach, and I have no intention of alarming anyone—yet. March. Duln, Edellein, I want supplementary battalions. Contribute six thousand each to Shirka’s force. She will ‘appear’ with only a thousand, the rest to deploy in the High Passes.”

“This is insane.”

Edellein didn’t just mean how many [Soldiers] were coming. Camping in the High Passes was dangerous. Even if they just bunkered down close by to Liscor—the cost of this was high! And for what?

But Chaldion was still giving orders.

“Shirka will assess the inn today and deliver me a request for any supplies. We can adjust via the door. Now. Send a Class II order to Manus. They’re too far, so tell them I want [Wyvern Riders].”

He was going insane. His staff were looking at each other. All this because an [Innkeeper] gave him an invitation?

Chaldion knew they were asking themselves if he’d gone senile again. But he had looked Erin in the eyes, and if anything, he wondered if he was under preparing.

She had meant it. She had never asked him for his armies, not like this. Begged, yes, not asked. Never summoned, nay, invited like this. Challenged. All without thinking of the price? Erin had been famously uncooperative in owing him any favors.

And she had said the fight of his life. He hoped, in some twisted part of him, that she wasn’t exaggerating. He was not the only one she’d extended the invitation to either. The adventurers and individual warriors could make their choices. But Chaldion thought at least one far-flung friend could make a move.




Niers Astoragon was just sighing at his table. He could sit still, but he looked so morose as he put his feet up that even the person he was talking to didn’t upbraid the sad Fraerling.

“I just can’t get there in time. Even if I abandoned the entire push across Baleros—I can throw Skills, but as we saw, someone can nullify that. Ideally, if I had months of prep—well, I’d like eight.”

“Eight. Pray tell, why eight?”

Fetohep of Khelt slowly took a drink from his cup. The Titan and King of Khelt had never really exchanged words before this. Right now? There was some civility to be had, and Foliana was dying to ask Fetohep about his favorite food. But the sad Fraerling just flicked his fingers up.

“One. I send a force to Liscor via my new [Castling] Skill. Then I swap them out to Khelt to reinforce—it’s a four-month cooldown on my Skill. We bury them, and then I’m ready for my own play.”

Ah. Naturally. Though your Skill presumes command over my forces, Titan.

Niers flashed Fetohep a smile, and his eyes were alight when he pushed his hat up. He was not sitting still, for all he was sitting…still.

“Perhaps not yours, Your Majesty. But if you were to sell the Forgotten Wing company a royal division of your finest warriors—”

Hrmph. A ploy that would cost Eternal Khelt its finest undead. Very well. That may be an option, though I would trust to your company in this case. A rare failure of Khelt’s abilities.

Fetohep acknowledged the idea with a nod, which surprised Niers. He would have assumed Fetohep would demand to do the trade anyways, on the basis that his forces were better.

Perhaps the lack of Skills was that telling. Niers pulled up a sheaf of paper.

“Here is my full kill-team roster. Depending on the situation, I would prefer to send only a hundred or so and hope my Skill doesn’t take long to come off cooldown. If need be—I will send a full army.”

The laws of equivalent exchange demand there be as many soldiers there as you exchange. Which forces would you trade? I have but six [Spies] who have been ridding Erin Solstice of pests. At least one has indicated a willingness to do battle, but I have been vetting local mercenaries and adventurers.

Fetohep was displeased at his inability, but Niers lifted a hand.

“Chaldion of Pallass has agreed to drag enough chaff close to Liscor and hide them in the mountain range. He’s happy enough to have a Drake force in Baleros if it comes to that.”

This could upset world politics, if an entire army of Drakes traded places with Balerosian mercenaries. Fetohep nodded as he consulted the document.

—My understanding of the foe indicates ranged superiority is preferable to hand-to-hand combat. Superior artifacts. Fraerlings?

“It answers both your requests, Your Majesty.”

One shall hope that it is enough for the foe. I cannot speak to any…six. However, I have faced Seamwalkers. Let us discuss, then, the possibility of one emerging outside Liscor.

A Seamwalker popping out of the air. Niers’ heart hurt as he imagined it. Oh, and the carnage, and he had to safeguard Mrsha and the others.

But it called to him. That day. He and Fetohep were distracting themselves, really. Wishing they could be there. Conceivably, they could if they dropped all their responsibilities, but—no. They were both too aware of their duties.

For a second, the Fraerling and Revenant locked gazes, and a golden flash and mortal eyes met.

Great war. Niers had to know what it was like. And he felt drawn to Erin Solstice more and more, like a fly to the sweetest honey. It was coming, but for the rest of this long month, all the people that Erin had warned had to just—wait.

Wait and prepare. She had given them advance notice. Niers tried so hard, but he couldn’t help it.

He was definitely smiling.




Erin Solstice didn’t smile when she thought of what was coming. She grew tired and sad and frightened.

The beach was the transient, the temporary relief from winter’s cold. It was here because the Winter Solstice was here, like a balancing act.

If she was stressed and taking it out on people as her beach was cleaned this morning, well—that was mostly because Erin was mad about the poo in the water. She knew that some of the people at the beach had brought actual babies.

But still.

Come on. 

“Maybe I should just restrict access to the beach to only friends, real friends of the inn. That’d solve everything. Even if Pelt brings over the smiths, we’d have plenty of room unless everyone is there.”

Erin was spitballing the idea to her staff. Yelroan coughed as he tapped Erin on the shoulder.

“We could do that, Erin. Let me present you with a number. And this is the other number.”

“Hubwab. Is…is that gold?”

The [Innkeeper] stared at the first underlined number. Yelroan gave her a smile. Then he tapped the other number, which had a negative sign next to it.

“That’s if we keep the door running and charge premium day-tickets and keep selling as we have. And this one is if we don’t.”

“Why’s it negative? Oh, all the free food to the [Knights] and stuff. Alright. Beach stays open!”

Erin Solstice swiveled around with a huge, fake smile on her face. Then she sighed again.

“…Is Lord Whatshisface coming?”

“Lord Veltras? No one’s seen him today. But his sons are here.”

“Well, I’ll look forwards to that.

Erin grumped around her inn, then had a thought. She was most happy when her friends came to enjoy the inn, like Hexel, who had told her it reminded him of home, almost with tears in his eyes. Or his Lizardfolk assistants.

Or…Erin was thinking of all the people she knew who had attended. Most had come, even Grev, just upon hearing of what was happening.

“…I saw Pawn, I’m corresponding with Anand, and Olesm claims he’s busy, the beach-hating guy, Horns are in the Great Plains, even Halrac was there getting buried in the sand…I think that’s almost everyone. Even Captain Z herself is coming today.”

Captain Zevara jumped as Erin pointed over her shoulder without looking around. Several Drakes had made it today, and Desk-Sergeant Kel, Watch Captain Venim and his daughter, Zevara, and even Embria were waiting to be first into the beach.

Zevara was trying to play it very cool. She was just…inspecting the beach. Which was why she already had on a one-piece swimming suit she’d bought with her money and one of the Hedault beach tubes around her midsection. But she was watching out for rogue bicycles in this inn and keeping her tail well off the ground.

“That’s almost everyone, Erin?”

Lyonette herself looked ready for fun as she walked over, but perhaps that was because she was going to be with Pryde and Bethal, who had apparently been so taken with the sand castles of yesterday that their plan was to build a real castle. Grimalkin, Thomast, and all the [Knights] had been assigned to the project.

What the [Princess] and [Ladies] didn’t seem to realize was that their project was under threat. A scheming Nanette, Mrsha, Relc, and various anarchists were plotting their own project—building siege-ladders and sapping the walls when they went up. Even Tesy.

“See, if I paint some sand, here, and you all ‘help’ pack it into the wall, when I dissolve the Skill—the walls come down.”

Then we storm the gates!

“No, Mrsha, we storm the breach.”

Nanette corrected her, and Relc rubbed his claws together happily.

“Right. Can we storm both? Also, hot dogs for lunch? If we put in our order, we’ll get to the front of the queue, Calescent said.”

“I would prefer a more seafood-like dish. Some lobster would be better.”

“Lobster’s sit-down food, Klbkch.”

“Should we not be seated on our getaway raft at sea, dining upon the tears of our enemies? This is how it is done, Relc. According to the book on piracy I checked out yesterday. I have been doing my research. I recommend we skip the rapine, though.”

Klbkch was actually part of the silliness. If he had to be at the beach, and he definitely had to, he regarded this as good practice for the Walled Cities. He decided it was time to give everyone a speech.

“Actually, gathered associates, this reminds me of my own past, where the True Antinium and I once stormed a very similar structure underground. It was held by what I now know to be Golems, and the fortifications shot laser-beams at anything that moved. Sapping was ineffective on the rock, so we advanced under—”

Boring! Let’s go prepare ammunition! Mudballs!”

Ekirra slammed his paws on the table, and Klbkch trailed off as everyone ran towards the beach, only to be told it was being cleaned for another half-hour.




Klb, Relc, kids…Erin counted, then she realized who was missing. She turned swiftly to Rosencrantz, her Antinium staff-leader.

“Wait a second. I know who’s missing! Rosencrantz, almost all the Painted Antinium and friends are here—but where’s Garry?”

The [Adjunct Manager] turned around as Peggy, the [Floor Boss], perked up her ears. Erin grew excited as she realized Garry hadn’t been here.

He’d love it! The food, the beach—maybe not the water.

“Has no one told him in his shop?”

“I believe he would have heard via the Hive, Miss Erin. But perhaps not. I could go and check on him?”

“Yeah, do that!”

Garry. Erin would give him the card and tell him…stay away. Her stomach hurt a second, and then she smiled. She’d have a day with him, Pebblesnatch—heck, maybe even the return of the cookoff!

It was a brilliant idea, and it lasted until midday when Erin, after a busy morning of letting people in and making sure everything was running, realized that Garry hadn’t yet arrived.

There’d been even more busybodies with her special tickets she used to differentiate who was admitted and who wasn’t. Lots of forgeries, and Mrsha was grumpily helping fabricate more ways to stay ahead of [Forgers].

“Hey, Rosencrantz, where’s Garry?”

She caught the Antinium as he scuttled by with a platter of drinks. Almost as if he were trying to avoid her. Rosencrantz gave Peggy a helpless look, then he lied.

“Garry? He is well. Very good. He is just too busy to attend.”


Erin could tell Rosencrantz was lying. His antennae waved together wildly when he did, and he stared nervously at someone giving Erin a very worried look.

Namely—Watch Captain Zevara. She had stopped her beach escapades, and Erin felt the hair on her neck rising.

“Rosencrantz…where’s Garry? Don’t lie.”

The Worker hesitated. But faced with Zevara’s warning glare and Erin Solstice…he chose the less-scary option.

“U-um. Garry is in jail. Just for a day! He has paid off his fine, and he is not hurt. Just in trouble.”

Erin stared at Rosencrantz for a second. Then she exhaled, smiled, and patted him on the shoulder.

“Oh, okay. That’s fine.”

The Antinium flinched, but then Erin turned and walked off, whistling. Zevara stared at Erin’s back, tensed, and then at the Antinium, who looked just as bewildered. But Erin just walked into the kitchen.

“Hey, Calescent, we might not have that cookoff today. Can we bring out those skewers again?”

Aw. Okay.”

Erin vanished without causing a scene for a few minutes. Zevara hesitated. Was she really—?

Erin kicked the door to the kitchen open with a shout. She emerged from the kitchen with a knife and frying pan in each hand. She waved them overhead.

Zevara! Why is Garry in jail? Numbtongue, get your sword! Get the acid jars! Riot, riooooot—

Peggy had to tackle Erin as she ran across the common room of the inn, shouting. Zevara leapt to her feet and began to bark explanations at Erin.

But how had they gotten here? That was the real question.




The morning had begun differently for other people. Far more placidly, really.

“She has a beach? I did not hear of this! But then, I slept in my store the last two days. So this is why everyone was asking if I had time off.”

Garry nearly dropped some raisin bread he was pulling out of the oven when Rosencrantz came by. He smiled hugely.

“This is good. I must go and join in! If everyone else is—I will just open my shop to serve my regulars, then go. Please tell Erin I am going. Lastly, Rosencrantz, what is a beach?”

The Antinium explained, and Garry nodded happily.

“Sand? Warm sun. Water. I understand that I have no idea what it is. But it is pleasant?”

“Very. Everyone is happy, except about the poo in the water. It will open in twenty minutes. Oh! Oh! You are allowed in, of course, Garry. But take these.

Rosencrantz produced a sheaf of beautiful cards with delicate handwriting that Garry recognized was Mrsha’s, and they even had little pawprint stamps.

“They are very special—and slightly magical, so do not lose them.”

“This one says, ‘you are allowed into The Wandering Inn’s beach for a day’…and has rules. Oh, are they entry permits?”

“Yes. It is very hard to get them, but if you have any friends, you may give it to them. How many do you need?”

Garry was counting.

“…May I have fifteen, please?”


Rosencrantz was surprised. Garry was worried.

“If it is too many, I can have less.”

“No, Erin does not care. But how many people are you bringing?”

“My regulars. Hello, Comrei! Look what I have! And your regular order!”

The hot raisin bread was being wrapped on the counter, and he waved excitedly at a little Gnoll who was racing over with a big smile on her face.

“Baker Garry, what is this? Are you sure?”

The instant the Gnoll girl saw the card, her eyes turned round. Garry, smiling hugely, put the card in a basket. Then put another one in as he remembered.

“Your mother will also need one. Here. The beach is open all day, and I am going to close my store after all my regular deliveries are done.”

That was all the people who relied on his bakery selling his cheap products. Garry’s ovens were happily piping away, and he turned to Rosencrantz.

“I will take fifteen—oh, can my assistants also have two?”

“They are the Flying Antinium, right?”

“Yes. Pisca and Runel. I am sure they would also like to attend, if that is acceptable?”

The Flying Antinium were—odd—even for regular Antinium. But Rosencrantz reasoned that Erin would absolutely let them come.

“They may need to wait a tiny bit if there are excitable Humans or other guests around, but Erin is sure to let them in. And there are quieter hours, especially at night.”

“That is very fine, Rosencrantz. They only get off work serving the Free Queen at night. Thank you for the cards. Should I bring some food? Is food a beach thing?”

Rosencrantz had to smile at that. His mandibles rose as he gestured excitedly.

“It is absolutely a beach thing. In fact, in fact! C-can you make some buns for us?”


Garry was puzzled, but he was the only Antinium baker capable of rendering wheat into a product that other Antinium could eat without digestive problems. Rosencrantz was almost drooling as he nodded.

“Yes. There are hot-dogs and hamburgers, but we can only eat them without buns. But if you brought enough for the Antinium, you would be very popular.”

“I shall do this. It will only take me a little bit to make up the dough and bake it. I will see you soon!”

Excitedly, Garry hurried around his shop and chattered away to Comrei, who was hefting the basket and waiting for him to put little cookies shaped like Gnolls in there for her.

By now, Garry knew Comrei and her hardworking mother, Hisnis, the street-kid Drake, Miss Biscale, who had all kinds of traditional Liscorian recipes, and his other regulars.

The number of them was growing. Many people were not regulars—yet. They didn’t like Antinium, and told him so, or were wary of his bug-related foods, which he was really making less of.

But more and more had come by to buy the things Garry sold for a single copper. Word of mouth was spreading, and Garry should have been creating such a huge net-loss that even the Free Queen would object.

However, he wasn’t. Garry was a Level 36 [Baker of Presents, Gifted Chef] now, and the Free Queen was so happy at how fast he was levelling that she had doubled his budget.

But he was in the black these days because of his new Skill.

[My Pantry Overflowed With My Deeds].

Every morning, Garry would wake up and check the store’s inventory, and sometimes he would find things in there that he could buy in Liscor at a local [Butcher]’s, like a cured ham. Other times, he’d find a prickly fruit with semi-sour flesh inside that Imani called a ‘pineapple’. She’d shared recipes with him and then proceeded to dice up a number of pineapple slices onto a pizza, which she served Kevin.

That was, apparently, a prank and made Kevin very angry and happy.

Cornucopia Skills were exceptionally rare, but Garry’s class was arguably the rarest of all the Antinium aside from Pawn. Also! He was working on his latest Skill.

Not [A Magical Gift].

He only got one of those per week. Every week, Garry would think of someone who needed help, like Miss Biscale, and a gift would appear in his store with her name on it, wrapped in bright wrapping paper that vanished when the gift was torn open by its recipient.

Garry never knew what was inside. It was always a little gift, something the person wanted.

Like a cream that took away the pain in Miss Biscale’s side or a pair of shoes for Hisnis.

These were the things that made Garry happy. He had levelled twice already since the Santa-Christmas, and he still wore the red hat when he felt extra-happy or wanted to cheer someone up.

This felt right. His class and Skills all felt like what Garry should be doing. And Erin’s tickets were just the thing for the cold today.

“These tickets will let you into Miss Erin’s garden.”

Garry’s loud, cheerful voice made a Drake stomping past the Antinium street and the entrance to their Hive look over. Comrei’s eyes were round, and her tail was wagging.

“R-really? Can I have them, Mister Garry?”

“Yes, and I will see you later today, as soon as I bake up enough hot buns. Tell your mother it would be good to take the day off too. Oh, but do not lose them. I only have enough for the other regulars, and they are valuable, apparently.”

Comrei hugged Garry as he bent over, throwing her arms around his neck.

“Thank you, Mister Garry! You’re too nice!”

“No, I am not nice enough. There is no limit I have observed.”

She shook her head, sniffing, then ran off with the basket, clutching it tightly in the snow.

Do not fall!

Garry went back to work, humming, but stopped as someone rapped urgently on his counter.

“Excuse me. Did I hear you have tickets? To the beach?”

The Drake was unfamiliar to Garry, and the Antinium saw he was cold, miserable, but considerably more upscale in wealth than many of Garry’s clients. His boots were shiny with tar, and he had a heating stone glowing in his jacket’s lapel, an indulgence.

“That is right, sir, but they are not for sale. Can I interest you in some baked goods? I have cookies.”

That was his best normal product. The Drake glanced once at them and wrinkled his nose.

“People buy from this place?”

“That is right, sir. These are only one silver per bag. Very cheap compared to other places in the city.”

The Drake’s brows rose. A silver per bag of small sugar cookies was cheap. And Garry had just doubled its normal rate because he didn’t like the Drake and the potential customer could definitely buy them.

“I don’t—fine, one bag. And the ticket. I’ll pay you a gold coin for it.”

“I am sorry, sir. That is not for sale. I am keeping them for my clients.”

The Drake hissed.

“Come on! You have to queue for a chance at them in the inn! Fine, I’ll pay double the rate after the resellers. Four gold coins!”

“Four…? I am sorry, sir, but I would not have enough if I did that.”

Garry doubted Erin sold these tickets for even two gold coins. It seemed that her fairly private beach was so hard to get into, people were reselling the tickets? But he shook his head because he didn’t need it.

The Drake bothered him for the next half-hour as Garry handed out the tickets and his regulars their food. But he eventually stormed off, and Garry began packing up his hot dog buns and hamburger bread for the beach. He was happy, and once they were in his bag of holding, he closed his shop for the day.

He couldn’t wait to see this ‘beach’. Garry hurried up to the inn, but waited by the magical door that connected the inn to Liscor.

It was very snowy, and he, for one, didn’t fancy trudging through the wet snow. Plus, he had told all his regulars to come by and meet him so they could be introduced to Erin together.

It was just eleven o’clock when Garry saw a huge line of people gathered around the door in Shivertail Plaza. However, there was a distinction of three kinds between them.

The first group were travellers, going to other cities. The second were people headed for the beach, like Jeiss and his family. Garry waved at them as he looked around for his regulars—and noted the large, unhappy third group.

“Come on, let us in, Liska! We’re friends!”

A Drake was whining to the open door, and Liska’s voice snapped back.

“Shut it. I’m working. Only people with tickets go through! I’m not wasting mana turning you lot away! Thank you, thank you—that’s a forgery. Get out!

A Drake got kicked out of line, and he cried out.

“But I’m a Councilmember!”

“Take it up with them, then! Next!

Councilmember Tismel slunk off as Garry hopped up and down, looking around. There were a number of people for the beach, actually, and Liska grew surprised.

“That’s real, that’s real…huh. I guess Yelroan is selling more tickets after all. Okay, go on through. But read the rules! Erin can and will kick you out if you’re annoying, and you have to pay for food. Other than that, enjoy. Today’s all about sandcastles. If you don’t want to be part of the siege, there’s a quiet beach on the right.”

The excited Liscorians went through, and Garry saw The Wandering Inn was fairly crowded with people waiting for transit or just banned from the beach proper. Including a Human man, pacing down the long corridor.

A few Liscorians recognized him, and one had to be held back from charging the door.

“Why is that bastard—I thought Erin Solstice hated him!”

Nobles. I bet he threatened to attack her inn if she didn’t let him in.”

Lord Tyrion Veltras vanished as Garry looked around. Well, he would stay away from the [Lord]. But where were his…

“Comrei! Comrei, over here!

The girl jumped as Garry waved at her. He was excited and waved all four arms.

“There you are! Let us go to the beach already! It is cold out here. And snowy.”

Comrei came forwards, but oddly slowly, and Garry saw a few more of his regulars, but they were hanging back. They looked…embarrassed, but he didn’t understand why. Not at first.

“Hallo, Mister Garry. Um. I don’t feel like going to the beach today. My mother’s busy. Can you—? You should go.”

“What? Me? But you were so excited this morning.”

Garry was surprised, and the Gnoll’s ears and tail were drooping. She looked about to cry and incredibly guilty. Garry saw Hisnis duck back.

“Hisnis? Are you ready to go?”

“I’m not going. Sorry.”

Hisnis wasn’t going? Garry grew confused, then spoke.

“Oh, if it is the beach apparel, I was told anything is fine, and I can buy you—‘

“I’m not going!”

He ran off, and Garry was shocked. Indeed, even Miss Biscale looked red as she came over.

“Garry, I think you had better go. Comrei, why don’t I treat you to something at a restaurant today? I—we—can’t join you.”

“But why not? You have the tickets. And they are only good for today, I think. Unless you want to go tomorrow?”

Perhaps he should ask for more tickets. But then Garry realized something was off, and his happy mind suddenly turned analytical.

Strange. None of them seemed to have the shiny tickets that Garry had seen them clutching. They all seemed guilty, and as Garry looked around, bewildered, he saw a familiar face.

The Drake tried to hide his face behind his collar when Garry turned—but he was in line, and Garry stopped.

“You. I know you. You were asking for my tickets, but you didn’t have one.”

“What? I don’t know you. Get lost, Antinium.”

The Drake hissed as people turned, and the door flickered back to Liska. She saw Garry and began to wave him to the head of the line, but stopped.

“Why do you have a ticket? That is not possible. And where is…Comrei, where are the two tickets I gave you?”

An unpleasant realization was trickling down the back of Garry’s shell, and the innocent [Baker] stared at the Gnoll as she turned away. The Drake sighed, loudly, as the jig was up.

“I bought them, idiot. See? My wife and kids and I are going to the beach.”

He indicated a group of five, and Garry stared at him.

“You bought…from…?”

He looked at his regulars, and none of them met his eyes.

“But they were tickets. We were going to the beach and I…”

“They’re worth gold. I’m sorry, Mister Garry. But I was offered two gold pieces and—”

Miss Biscale looked wretchedly sorry, and Garry knew that even though he gave her almost-free food, there were other things like rent and—but they had been a gift.

His pain about them selling the tickets was replaced by another feeling. Which was—when he turned and stared at the suspicious line of Liscorians who had tickets. None of whom knew Erin Solstice.

They all avoided Garry’s gaze and tried to hurry through the door. But Garry called out.

“Liska, do not let them through! They bought those tickets from my regulars.”

She halted the line with a Skill.

“They what? Aw, Erin won’t like that. She already threw a fit when she heard about the reselling—hey! Give them back!”

“What? Mister Garry, no!”

Comrei protested in horror, and the surly Drake whirled on Garry.

“You can’t do that!”

“Those are my tickets. They were not intended for you.”

“I bought them fairly from that girl! She decided to sell them, and if I can’t use them—I want my money back. And a refund for all the beach clothing we bought!”

The Drake pointed hotly at Comrei, and she turned pale. Garry turned to stare at her, and another Liscorian added.

“That’s right! It was a fair, legal transaction! Guardsman, help!”

She turned to Jeiss, and the Senior Guardsman looked completely unwilling to weigh in as a [Guard], a member of Liscor’s Council, or as a guest of Erin Solstice. The Drake sneered as he jabbed a claw at Garry.

“This was all fair, Antinium. Don’t try to take it out on us.”

“But you bought the tickets because Comrei does not have a lot of money and needs it.”

Garry felt bad about saying it loudly, but he was slowly piecing it together.

“So? I helped her out. It’s legally fair, isn’t it, Guardsman Jeiss?”

“—Legally. Garry, this isn’t going to be simple. Why don’t you bring it up with Erin…?”

The Drake was groaning over the complexities, but Garry just stared at the Drake.

“So you bought Comrei’s ticket because it was legal and you had money and she does not.”

“That’s how the economy works. Thank you for getting that. Can I go?”

The Drake was pointing at the door, and Garry stared at his regulars. He thought, in his head, that the simplest thing would be to go to Erin, let the regulars keep the coins they’d earned from selling them, and invite them in without tickets.

That was the simplest thing to do. But he was hurt.

Hurt because they’d sold his tickets.

Hurt because he understood why they’d sold those tickets, but other people were using that to get into the beach.

Hurt because they had to sell the tickets. And mostly hurt by the sad, guilty, ashamed look on his regulars’ faces and the contempt on the Drake’s.

The family of Drakes was about to enter into the inn and avoid the stares and attention they were not happy with when Garry moved. He reached into his bag of holding and brought out the basket that he used to carry some of his baking goods around.

Then he smashed the wicker basket into the back of the Drake who’d bought Comrei’s tickets.

“Wh—help! Help!

A furious Worker began hitting the Drake with all four fists. Jeiss whirled and shouted.

“Garry! Get off of him! Get—”

The Drake punched at Garry, but the Worker kept attacking even as people tried to pull him off. Then someone shouted.

Antinium attack! Aberration! Ab—

And then a brawl started in the streets. Whether or not someone believed Garry was actually becoming Aberration, several people saw the Antinium attacking a Drake and jumped into the fight at once. A man ran at Garry with a builder’s hammer in hand, and a fist laid him flat before he could bash Garry’s brains in.

Even Lord Tyrion Veltras stared at his fist as the man went sprawling onto the frozen flagstones. Liska stared—and Tyrion punched someone else as they came at him. Then Garry was getting up, punching with all four arms, and Tyrion hesitated a long second—then kicked someone in the side who was running at Garry.

But how had they gotten here? 




That morning, Tyrion Veltras was sleep-deprived, a terrible thing. It could lay even a [Lord] low.

He’d been having bad dreams of late. Nightmares, almost. He told Ryoka Griffin about them.

She visited the inn in Invrisil where he and his sons were staying quite often. Every morning, Sammial and Hethon would at least go on a walk with her in the City of Adventurers, but half the time, Ryoka talked with Tyrion.

“I’ve been dreaming of the siege of Liscor.”

She stopped, half-swallowing the cereal she was eating.

“…Go on.”

Tyrion was staring at something he’d almost forgotten in the aftermath of the battle. He recalled it fairly well now. The frustration of such a long campaign, the anticipation of seeing the Goblin Lord almost pushed at Liscor, and envisioning fighting Antinium and Drakes alike—then the betrayal of Magnolia threatening his children.

That was how he remembered the battle. If he laid it out, it was the plan working, the Goblin Lord advancing in the mud, then the other Goblins fighting him. Attacking Liscor’s gates as well as the Goblin Lord—then seeing the Goblin Lord fall.

Disastrous—and deciding to charge the field and rout the Goblins completely if his plan had failed. He had failed even that—he’d taken most down, but a single Goblin had stood upon the slopes and refused to die.

Then, as he prepared to attack Liscor anyways, Magnolia had threatened his sons, and he had vowed vengeance.

They were old memories. Old and felt like a lifetime ago, before the Circle of Thorns had become his nemesis. He had not forgotten Magnolia’s threats, but perhaps it was his proximity to Liscor.

“I was remembering the start of the battle. There was…something before the Goblins began their final battle with each other. I almost forgot. It was such a silly thing that, back then, I didn’t know what to think. A girl. Seeing Lady Bethal and Lady Pryde reminded me of Maviola El. Which reminded me of her, because they both had the same thing.”

“What was that?”

Ryoka gave him a strange look. Tyrion murmured as he stirred his porridge and sipped at his tea.

“A white flag. She was waving it before the battle. A Human girl—I remember thinking it was a ploy. I keep remembering that.”

“You didn’t stop and parlay?”

Tyrion glanced up at Ryoka’s intent look.

“It was a war, or one in all but name. A Goblin Lord was moving ahead of us, Ryoka. Even if I intended to—that was no officer or high-ranking member of Liscor that I could tell. There are rules in war, but they are not dogmatically followed. If someone waved a single flag in an ongoing battle, I would not immediately order a cessation of hostilities.”

“But that was before the battle began.”

“Yes. Still. It wouldn’t have changed my mind. I just keep thinking of her. We’ve been talking about…Goblins. Antinium. You talk a lot about your world’s history, and we’ve even had dinner guests.”

He did not mean Goblins or Antinium. Absolutely not. But Jelaqua Ivirith, and even a Drake, Selys Shivertail, had all been guests of his.

Selys had been as cold as Cenidau to Tyrion, but the other guests had warmed to Sammial and Hethon. He knew what Ryoka was doing, or suspected, at least.

She was still a mystery to him, but he thought she was trying to endear him to members of other species. The dream of that girl with the white flag, though…

Perhaps Erin Solstice’s letter to him and being told he could actually enter the beach was what had caused it. Tyrion himself still felt a chill when he read and reread the letter.


You, Tyrion Veltras, are invited to The Wandering Inn. I will never forgive you, but I need even your help.

You are invited to the Winter Solstice at the end of this month. You are invited to the fight of your life, and your death. If you think this is a joke, come unprepared. The last Summer Solstice at Emperor Laken’s party?

It will be nothing compared to this one. Either come ready or stay away.

—Erin Solstice


He did not feel a rush of excitement at the invitation. Tyrion imagined part of him would have, a while ago. But today? Now? He felt concerned.

I’m not ready. I should take Sammial and Hethon far, far away before the date. But should I stay?

If Ryoka is there—I must. 

He had called for more [Soldiers], but Ryoka was actually taking time from the beach to plan for the event, too. She looked stressed—she had been stressed, and she was breathing hard, even for just eating breakfast in the morning.

“The dream you had. In that battle.”

“Hm? Oh, yes.”

Tyrion re-focused on his morning conversation. He looked at Ryoka, then sat back in his chair.

“I have a thought, Ryoka. I hope you won’t laugh at me for bringing it up.”

“I make no promises.”

She laughed at him, sometimes. Which he found hurtful when he was serious. But then, they were flirting.

Flirting, not dating, certainly not engaged, and perhaps never more than that. That was the clear, outlined area of their relationship. Ryoka had told Tyrion it was all she’d commit to. She didn’t want to just run away—again—but if you piled up her reservations, she could create the 7th Walled City.

He needed her. He needed someone to talk to, especially who’d tell him he was wrong—someone he could talk to without getting unreasonably mad, like Magnolia Reinhart. Someone who wasn’t a subordinate.

However, even Ryoka had limits, and she stared at Tyrion, twitching, even more sleep-deprived than he. She’d been practicing with her Faeblade, talking about preparations, and ‘freaking out’ for the last week despite his assurances he was bringing more soldiers.

Tyrion tried to be equitable. He lowered his voice in their private dining room where they were eating breakfast.

“I have a suspicion…that the girl with the white flag might have been Erin Solstice. What do you think, Ryoka?”

She stared at him as Tyrion raised his brows. It made a lot of sense now that he thought of it. He waited for her response.




Tyrion’s cheek still hurt two hours later. He hadn’t been slapped in a long time. Only Magnolia could tag him—at least before he’d lost his levels.

Ryoka had apologized for that. Sort of. She definitely reminded him of Salva right now, and he decided not to poke the hornet’s nest.

Then again, the proverbial hornets in question were drinking Potions of Growth and setting themselves on fire. Ryoka Griffin was not in a good mood, and the next person that had agreed to talk to her was getting the evil eye.

He was having a second breakfast. But the instant he saw Ryoka and Tyrion, Lord Xitegen Terland stood up and motioned his Golem servants to get the bill.

“Ah, Lord Tyrion and the Wind Runner. Or is it Courier Ryoka? I’m pleased we could meet. I rather thought civil talk was impossible.”

Ryoka Griffin gave Xitegen a weak smile. Tyrion rubbed at his cheek before bowing stiffly.

“Lord Xitegen. I’m pleased to see you hale after your encounter with the Raiders. I had heard you were winged in the battle.”

“That? Shrapnel. Barely made it past my Ring of Protection. Heirlooms.”

Xitegen waved it off as he stood. Ryoka gave Tyrion a look of warning, and he wondered if she was going to cause an incident.




Ryoka was afraid of the Winter Solstice. Nevermind Shaestrel telling her it was inevitable and she had better spend time preparing or doing something useful—Ryoka knew that.

But how could Erin face down those six, knowing their powers, and calmly go about her day when they would be at the zenith of their strength?

Each Solstice had been worse than the last. Ryoka had had another night of waking up half-screaming again, imagining she’d taken someone’s hand by accident, and so she’d lashed out at Tyrion for being stupid.

She was trying, very hard, not to do that now. Actually, Ryoka was trying not to do two things. Ryoka smiled weakly as Lord Xitegen strode through the streets briskly.

“I was minded to go to Celum, actually, but if I’ll cause another commotion at that inn, let’s exit the city and walk out there. It’s fair weather for it.”

It was snowing. And cold as shit! Ryoka herself was shivering a bit, but Xitegen had shorts on. His weight doubtless helped, but he got them up to a trot as he spoke.

She—eyed his thighs. Ryoka’s intuition about Xitegen’s physique had been proven right when the Raiders attacked.

The man could run. He gave her a quick look as well.

“I confess, I might wish to pace myself with you two. It’s not every day I get to even so much as jog with a Courier. Mihaela Godfrey humored me back in the day, and I never lost the feeling.”

“You run—um—well, Lord Xitegen.”

“For a fat man, you mean. I refuse to slim, and I refuse to stop running. My one joy in life aside from Golems is running down skinny men who think they can outrun someone just because they’re half my weight.”

Oh, dead gods, it’s already happening. Absolutely not! You cannot do this, Ryoka. This is worse than a pattern; it’s becoming a fetish.

The second thing Ryoka was trying to do was…her mind raced frantically.

He hates Goblins. He nearly wiped out the ones at Riverfarm. You will not befriend another monster. No! Absolutely not!

The problem was, Xitegen was completely unapologetic and said as much.

“I hope I can at least use that inn and you, personally, won’t hold anything against me, Miss Griffin. It was business; I lost my bet on Adventurer Arcsinger, and that has been a personal blow. I should hardly like to go against House Veltras’ main family either.”

“Why—would House Veltras get involved with my grudges?”

Xitegen stared at Ryoka—then Tyrion pointedly. He coughed.

“One cannot imagine. Lord Veltras, were you allergic to something at the restaurant? Your cheek is swelling up.”

“No. It was a slap.”

Ryoka added a sharp elbow to it, and Tyrion grunted. Xitegen gave them another look as they passed out the gates, close to his restaurant of choice.

“Well, just so long as you keep everything else in the bedroom, I shan’t comment. We’re abed with Drakes and Antinium and everything it seems these days. Myself, I liked the Gnolls most if we had to choose one bedfellow. They know how to run. Will I persuade you two to run with me?”

The snow was deep, but not too bad outside of Invrisil, and Ryoka had Nama’s magic footwraps on, so she shrugged. If this was what it took to talk…


Excellent! But give me a second, and if you want to laugh, kindly turn your head. Hwua! Ha! Hwua!

With that, the man began doing something that made Ryoka’s eyes bulge.

He began doing squats. He would bend down, posterior extending, and execute a perfect squat, back straight, and do it again, quickly, as some of the nobles now in the Xitegen-camp—who had come to be hangers-on—gave him looks of horror.

Ryoka just stared, and Xitegen took it as disapproval.

“Don’t—mind—me. A Courier once told me that this was good for my legs, and I copied him! Lancrel the Leaper! Poor fellow.”

“No, I, uh—have you met Magus Grimalkin? Because he’d love to talk to you. You stretch?”

“Does a Terland kiss Golems?”

At this point, Tyrion spat out some water he’d been drinking to wash a faint taste of blood out of his mouth. Ryoka closed her eyes.

Don’t befriend him. Don’tbefriendhimdon’t—

“How about side-stretches with your leg? High-knees? You know, dynamic stretches are what these are called as opposed to…”

She and Xitegen began comparing leg warmups, because they were, in the end, running freaks. Tyrion Veltras, as a horse-guy, was less impressed, but he dutifully copied Ryoka as he was glad it seemed like Xitegen was business, not flirting.

Indeed, the [Lord] set such a fast jog after their warmup that the sycophants literally were left behind in their heavier, winter gear and poor form. Ryoka kept up easily, and Tyrion wished he were on horseback, but kept up as they ended up running and talking.

Hardly noble-like at all! But Xitegen was one of those men who had been born into the Five Families.

“If I cared what anyone thought of me, I’d be the model of some weak-jawed Terandrian [Prince]. Terland is in my blood. Therefore, everything I do is the de facto image of nobility. New-to-blood aristocracy is so self-conscious. But we are a reclusive lot. Expect to see more of us, Miss Griffin. That [Innkeeper] of yours had better brace if she dislikes me.”

“Erin? Why?”

Xitegen pointed north, then south to the High Passes in the distance.

“Because we are coming. The land rush, all the unrest—some for wealth, others because they’re conscious, like I am, that the south is unruly. Why else are Lord Tyrion, Bethal Walchaís, and the rest…? Well, Pryde and Magnolia’s famous circle are the ones who went south and made fortunes. I shan’t pretend she didn’t clear the way. But I will take Celum.”

Ryoka nearly tripped over a stone.

“You what?”

“It’s defensible. I thought Esthelm, but it’s too close and too friendly to Liscor and Goblins when I inquired. I plan on moving Golems to Celum. People, too. House Terland isn’t swarming with people, but I plan on inviting immigrants from as far as Illivere. Anyone who wants Golems.

Xitegen was smiling. He was also open about his plans.

“The one thing about making Golems is power. Golem Hearts require expensive resources, and the non-permanent ones eat mana, which is why only House Terland has an abundance of them in any one concentration. But I’ll take Golem-manuals, too.”

“Can—can you just claim Celum? Magnolia has a mansion there.”

Xitegen nodded reasonably.

“And if she wants it, she may. But I plan on renovating the city, pouring security and gold into it. Their [Mayor] is very receptive to the idea, especially after all the attacks nearby.”

Certainly, having those dangerous Golems about would be a boon, but what might the Drakes do? A [Lord] like that…would be a bulwark against an invasion from the south.

Xitegen nodded at Tyrion, and the [Lord] agreed it was sensible. So, more noble families?


Only the Golem servants and Tyrion’s [Guards] could keep up in the snow. Ryoka was gulping.

“Lord Xitegen, I—thank you for telling us your plans. But I’d rather, um, talk about the Winter Solstice, if you don’t mind. Would you consider a truce between yourself and the inn? Something’s going to happen then, and we need everyone to work together.”

Xitegen’s broad face didn’t exactly darken, but his eyes glittered with the same wrath that had shone in his eyes when he had stood against the Bloodfeast Raiders—and Laken’s Goblins.

“Join forces with Goblins? Only if Lord Tyrion joins with the Drakes first. Let me cut off a toe and think on it. But I’ll engage with the premise. Tyrion, if I may be informal, which I know isn’t your way, what are you doing flirting around with Liscor? Even for love, which moves mountains, yours was a mountain range of solidarity I could get behind.”

Tyrion jerked uncomfortably as Ryoka flushed and opened her mouth. He felt defensive.

“My position on Drakes hasn’t changed in large.”


“But I am listening. That’s all.”

Xitegen glanced at Ryoka as they jogged around the city’s walls, watched by the bemused Watch, who shook their heads at the doings of Couriers and [Lords].

“Ah, and are you changing for the look of it or genuinely going to trust them? Trust the Antinium? Trust the Drakes who are such wonderful allies to the Gnolls? Come now, Tyrion. Magnolia Reinhart may be a bleeding peace-lover, but you’ve seen how willing their High Command is to come to the table. And how we are. Let’s just leave well enough alone and kill each other every year.”

His eyes glittered, and Tyrion saw in them a very similar attitude to his own. He did not even disagree with the other [Lord]; they knew the south. Xitegen was someone who regularly sent Golems to the yearly Bloodfields battles. Ryoka had to know how much of a wall she was arguing against, but credit to her—she did try.

“Can’t there be change, Lord Xitegen? What’s wrong with engaging with Magnolia’s idea?”

He chewed that over thoughtfully.

“None at all, Miss Ryoka. And I was not one to send around black flowers or get in her way. I was not part of the Circle of Thorns, and I kicked the idiot in my family who sent Lady Bethal a black flower. Shame on it. Let her try if she wants to risk wrath on both sides. But let us not be silly. If the Walled Cities, tomorrow, sued for peace, I would wonder ‘how long’ and ‘what are they planning’? We hate each other. Let us not downplay that. Let us not downplay how much losing a loved one hurts, and we have generations of it.”

Tyrion could name countless members of his family who had died in war with the Drakes. He avoided Ryoka’s gaze as she protested.

“But—damn it—it has to stop somewhere.”

“May it! May you succeed, but if you are asking me to genuinely smile at a Goblin, I would rather pull out my teeth. If you are asking me to trust them—heh. Gnolls have been ‘peaceful’ with the Drakes. Look at what happened. I wouldn’t put it past us to sap the Walled Cities if we got the chance. I’d think about it.”

Ryoka was getting mad, and Tyrion hoped she didn’t explode. Xitegen could be more stubborn and blunt than Tyrion was, and he was not afraid of cheerfully defending his position. Tyrion tried to help Ryoka out and put a sword in her back. Verbally.

“I will admit, Xitegen, my position has shifted mostly because Ryoka Griffin saved my sons and I am—affectionate towards her. Is this swaying my judgment? Of course, but I have to believe that I would not change unduly without good, true argument. And Ryoka does point out that my grudge is against the High Command, not civilians.”

“…Fair enough. I can’t imagine you being easily suborned. And I do quite like the Drakes on television. At least, that Ser Relz fellow seems highly funny and knowledgeable about economics. Drassi reminds me of my nieces, and I can’t help but laugh every time Noass comes on. What a name.”

Lord Xitegen was an uncritical Sir Relz enjoyer. Ryoka’s horror was such that she had to slow and let Xitegen lace up his boots. Tyrion murmured in her ear.

“You look a bit unwell, Ryoka. Are you sure you wish to do this? Xitegen is unlikely to be swayed by debate.”

“I’m fine. What do you mean, I’m swaying you with affection?

“…That’s how it usually works. I’m just being truthful.”

He dodged away as she punched at his shoulder. Ryoka looked truly unwell with nerves as a sighing green blob flew around her. She glanced at ‘Shaestrel’, who buzzed in whatever language she and Ryoka communicated.

It was just another weirdness Tyrion was used to.

“I’m not panicking! I wish he were more of a bastard, but he’s honest and talks to me rather than, I dunno, threatens to melt me or locks me up in a dungeon with sock puppets.”

Part of why Tyrion liked Ryoka was because he was eternally entertained by her. He wrinkled his brows.

“He’s certainly a Courier’s type.”

Ryoka shot a glance at Xitegen.

“Oh, that? I’m amazed he runs. He is overweight, but—dead gods. Those thighs save lives.”


Tyrion’s brow was now one huge wrinkle of confusion, and Ryoka and Shaestrel gave him a flat look.

“That—was a joke, Tyrion.”

“What part was?”

He really didn’t get jokes, and he felt bad whenever they were uttered in his presence. Ryoka gave Tyrion one of those ‘are you serious’ looks, and the Spring Faerie made a groaning sound in the air.

It wasn’t even a good joke. Ryoka tried to explain it, cringing harder with each passing moment.

“It’s just a joke about his thighs. Because they’re large. That…that’s the joke. Thighs save lives.”

“How are they being saved?”

“B—because they’re huge and people appreciate big thighs? Or I guess you could save someone’s life just by, like, using it as a flotation device or…I’ve never thought about it. It’s just funny to say. No, it’s no longer funny. Someone kill me.”

The Spring Fae was trying, but Tyrion stared at Xitegen’s impressive thigh muscles as he straightened from his boots and gave them an expectant look. Then he thought about it.

“Those thighs. Save lives. It rhymes a bit.”

Ryoka was covering her face, and even the [Guards] of House Veltras were trying not to laugh—at her. But Tyrion was thinking about it.

Xitegen’s thighs saved lives.

“Heh. That is—heh. Heheheh. Hah!”

He started laughing. He was so unused to it that it took him by surprise. Ryoka, Shaestrel, and the [Guards] turned as he began chuckling—then laughing. Ryoka’s face turned uncertain—and Tyrion laughed. Xitegen looked over.

“Dead gods. Stone can laugh! If I thought this was just some kind of amazing trick…anything funny, Lord Tyrion?”

Ryoka looked almost happy at Tyrion’s sudden reintroduction into the world of humor, but it turned to quick horror. Because Tyrion walked over, chuckling.

“Lord Xitegen, your thighs save lives.”

He saw the [Lord]’s face screw up in bemusement—then a laugh exploded out of Xitegen’s mouth, half-propelled by disbelief.

“Is that—Lord Veltras, have I heard you tell a joke? My thighs save—”

The two men began laughing harder, and Ryoka’s face was red. And it only grew worse, because Tyrion Veltras, after finishing their jog around the city, told the joke three more times to the people he met.

“Those thighs of Lord Xitegen’s—save lives.”

He even waggled his brows. The people who heard it, Ullim, Jericha, the [Innkeeper], either laughed out of sheer disbelief or stared at him as if wondering if they were in a fever dream.




Xitegen was an immovable rock of hatred towards Goblins. Tyrion was not the unstoppable force, but a second immovable rock that told horrible jokes.

Ryoka was the one who had to be the unstoppable force, and she got stopped by both men.

“I cannot and will not be party to joining forces with the Goblins.”

“Nor will I look Chaldion of Pallass in the eyes and join hands with him. I can agree on that, Lord Xitegen.”

Wonderful! For me, not Miss Ryoka. Shall we have lunch too? I could do with some. You can tell Miss Solstice that, Ryoka. I can even be pleasant and a guest, if needs must, but I will eat nothing that Goblin of hers cooks. I hope she will never regret taking one in under her roof. But I believe she will.”

Ryoka Griffin was sitting at a table with Xitegen and Tyrion, the reasonable men.

“Can’t you acknowledge their basic…humanity? That they can think, reason, and are a people?”

Xitegen stared upwards thoughtfully.

“I can…in the way I look at the Bloodfeast Raiders, or Ogres, and acknowledge they have society and will and intelligence. To do otherwise would make me undervalue their danger.”

“They’re not the same.”

The [Lord] leaned over the table earnestly and never looked away.

“Miss Griffin, they killed my entire family under siege and decimated the north. Have you ever met someone that you would see dead, truly, utterly, without remorse or hesitation? Their entire people are that to me. Lord Veltras has no less cause for Drakes. I can let individuals sail on by…if I must. But when a Goblin Lord or Goblin King appears, I will see it dead. A Terland’s word on it.”

He sat back, and Ryoka realized Tyrion was very quiet. The [Lord] was, in fact—thinking.

Xitegen was actually leaving out the fact that he had met a few Goblins and hadn’t tried to murder them straight off. Which was, to Erin and Ryoka, not good, but to Tyrion, it was rather like him having Selys over for dinner.

This was such a departure for us that it is more change than we are willing to admit. Xitegen was actually denying that he’d shifted at all, but Tyrion was wondering.

I do, truly, hate the Walled City of Manus for what they’ve done. But individual versus a whole…that argument makes me uncomfortable. If all of House Veltras is not defined by me, then Goblins…

But they’re Goblins.

Drakes are not all one people. Liscor is not the Walled Cities. Do I truly wish Liscor gone?

…Not particularly. They have not wronged me in any way I can think.

It occurred to him, then, as he sat and heard Ryoka growing increasingly loud as she argued.

“I nearly wiped them all out.”

He’d been thinking more of the Antinium as a threat and Liscor as a beachhead. And as he had told Lord Yitton, he had planned on sparing civilians. But a siege of a city was never without casualty.

Tyrion grew uncomfortable suddenly. He was at war with an entire species. It had ever been this way; they had sabotaged areas of the north, like in Riverfarm where they’d burnt people to death or killed Gralton’s dogs.

War made monsters out of everyone. But still—Tyrion was glad when Xitegen raised his voice.

“Not to mention the Antinium. Magnolia Reinhart is right about them, Miss Ryoka. I was shocked when I saw the Free Queen in Liscor and this Seventh Hive…am I to ally with them, too? If ‘something’, quote unquote, is coming at the Winter Solstice, by all means, seek my aid. But in Invrisil. The north shall rally if Veltras calls, but not Liscor. Why must we, enemies, join hands?”

He was entirely reasonable. Tyrion was entirely reasonable. Even if he felt guilt—it was acceptable, realistic, and justified. If he had taken Liscor, he would put the dead on his conscience and weigh pragmatism against morality in war. As he had ever done. It was just—

Ryoka Griffin snapped as Tyrion felt like he was at the dawn of something in his head. She slammed her hands down on the table, and Xitegen jerked and the Golem servants moved forwards—but halted as he raised a hand. She screamed at Xitegen, then Tyrion.

Why do we have to kill each other? Why do you—why do you have to be so damn stubborn? Now? We’re all going to die even if we stand together, and you—and I—”

She turned dead white, started shaking, and, to Tyrion’s alarm, had tears in her eyes. Xitegen had recoiled, but now he looked alarmed.

“All going to—Miss Ryoka, what’s wrong?”


The normally steady Courier was on the verge of—no, she was having a panic attack. Was it—honesty, the change in Ryoka, or just the coming Winter Solstice that let her show it?

A Ryoka explosion was usually within and came out in anger or something else. This time—it was like Ryoka throwing open the gasket before it blew, and it came out as tears and fear and…she looked Xitegen in the eyes, and at Tyrion.

“They’re coming for us. Pallass’ armies? The Free Antinium? You’re all mad. An army of the fae couldn’t stop them in the oldest of wars. Elves and Dwarves and Gnomes couldn’t stop them. And here we are, fighting? I don’t want Erin to die. I don’t want to see more friends die. I’m af—afraid of the Winter Solstice. Erin’s holding it together, but I can’t. Not anymore! Why can’t you just—”

She burst into tears. For the first time, Tyrion saw Ryoka just weep. He sat there, stunned.

It was Lord Xitegen who began patting her arm.

“There, there. Did you just say…hey, get her a handkerchief, and someone get something bracing. Mayhaps I was too harsh.”

“Shut up. You don’t get it. They tore apart the lands of the dead. They ate Zeladona, don’t you see? They’re coming on the Winter Solstice, and they’ve eaten your ancestors. What chance do we have?”

Then Tyrion and Xitegen felt a real chill, and Ryoka, quaking with fear, didn’t realize that she had said the one thing that struck a chord with the two men bound by tradition and heritage and…

“Would you kindly explain a bit more about what I’m invited to?”

Lord Xitegen slowly picked up Tyrion’s card, and now—he was focused. Ryoka gulped hard as, outside the private dining room, a figure stood and stared blankly at a wall.

He had never thought that Ryoka Griffin would break down in fear like that. But then—she had seen something. He had seen something, and that coil of fear…became something like embarrassment in his heart.

Grudges aside. Even his beloved dead companions aside. 

Rhissy muttered to himself as he slowly sank into the floorboards.

“They did it to Fithea. And to Dioname, in part. A good point. Why quibble over who to ally with? Kneecap your biggest enemies first. Then everyone else.”

He suddenly had a call to make.




So that was how Tyrion Veltras got to The Wandering Inn. He got a dirty look from the door-Gnoll, Liska, but didn’t celebrate his victory over her at last.

Ryoka was worn out from her admitting her great fears, and Xitegen had rushed off. He and Tyrion had taken her seriously, and Tyrion had told Ullim to pull a lot more [Soldiers] south.

Ryoka was right. He hated his foes, but if he considered protecting her or defeating a shared enemy—Tyrion could at least appreciate a good flanking maneuver.

He wished Pellmia were here to make sense of his feelings and talk to him. The old [Lord] had confessed that he thought Goblins had spared his son and that he himself was no longer the war hawk who had ridden onto the battlefield without more thought than victory.

Surely, his old friend would applaud Tyrion getting into the ‘flirting’ stage with Ryoka. This long war had turned into a swift engagement, and he’d nearly been pitted on the pikes when he’d brought up the long lances and risked a straight charge into them. In hindsight, he should have flanked with honesty from the start, but he’d won a bloody engagement that healing potions were mitigating.

…That was how Tyrion thought of romance, incidentally. But he had more thoughts spinning in his head as he looked into the beach.

Just looked. Erin Solstice was ignoring him very deliberately, and the [Chef] in the kitchen was glaring at him. Tyrion didn’t reach for his sword despite the Hob being at his back with a kitchen knife.

Who do I hate more? Goblins, Antinium, or Drakes? Let’s see. Drakes.”

How surprising. Goblins had killed members of his family, friends, and rampaged across Izril’s north under their Goblin King. But Tyrion almost regarded them as a foreign army under their own leader. The madness of Goblin Kings was documented.

It was easier to say that the Drakes had taken the one woman he had ever loved with all his heart and married, Salva, away. They had done it with an assassin, and that…that had broken him more, delivered more hatred into his heart, than even the Goblins.

The Antinium were a distant third place to the other two. They were just an unknown group of quasi-monsters that Tyrion had actually been glad of, one that had done great damage to the Drakes.

A possible, inevitable enemy. His father had ridden against them, but Tyrion was surprised to realize that his hatred was not one level for all species.

Second, now. Could he tolerate a single member of the species? Tyrion thought of Selys Shivertail. She was the niece of Zel Shivertail, a Drake he had actually respected for his acumen in battle and apparent honor.

He…still did not like Drakes. He felt a rush of actual dislike when he so much as stared at them passing into the beach.

And they gave him similar looks. Another odd thing he had never noticed. Tyrion tried.

“Let’s see. One Drake in this entire world I could stand. Or one Goblin.”

…He didn’t know any Goblins. The [Chef], the one who had stopped his lance-charge—perhaps he could respect bravery, but he didn’t know them, so the road to any reconciliation that Ryoka wanted seemed far.

Same with Drakes. He knew them not. He disliked them all. He had seen Jasi perform on stage, so maybe that was it. Neutrality at best. A non-member of the species. There was none that had ever done him a favor, aside from a rare Courier or something. No one that he resp—

Saliss of Lights.


Tyrion paced back and forth. Saliss of Lights was the most dangerous [Alchemist] in the world. He was an agent of Pallass, a nudist, and—he had saved Tyrion’s sons.

He hadn’t had to do that.

Tyrion hated Drakes. But honor told him that Saliss had saved his children. Duty was gratitude. But for Saliss of Lights, Tyrion’s sons might be dead. In fact, he had mixed up their antidote.

“Is it possible—that I have been ungrateful?”

Ishkr stared at Tyrion as the Gnoll fetched more drinks from behind the bar. Tyrion went back to pacing, harder.

He did not want to be grateful. He absolutely had not been. That made one Drake in this entire world that he owed a rightful debt to, that he should be…

I’m being unreasonable. I am being inconsistent with my values, like a child. What’s wrong with me?




His head hurt after all the pacing, so Tyrion just stared into the beach-garden and felt another emotion assail him when he saw his sons.

They were playing in the garden, trying to dig away at a huge, just ginormous sand-castle defended by Lady Bethal, Lady Pryde, Princess Lyonette, and [Knights] as a determined group of anti-royalists was trying to bring it down.

It looked…like fun, actually. The shrieking [Ladies] were dumping buckets of water and sand on the attackers, and Sammial and Hethon were there.

Tyrion was worried the moment he heard Sammial’s voice, and he was prepared to hear his son insulting someone or using his aura or just—causing a fuss.

When he saw Sammial passing a mudball to Mrsha, who passed it to a Gnoll boy who tossed it at the [Ladies] and hit Lyonette in the face—he was amazed.

He was doubly amazed to see shy Hethon making the ammunition with a witch girl, arguing about whether or not seashells or rocks constituted a war crime. Then he heard a shout.

“Grimalkin! Use the final weapon!”

A sighing Sinew Magus pointed a claw over the side of the sand battlements.

“Reduce spell. [Sand Avalanche].”

An outpouring of sand rolled downwards, and the screaming children fell in disarray. Relc, raising his fists, punching at the gates, roared.

“Don’t give in! We’ve nearly got them! Don’t—oh, shit.

A wave of sand washed him out to sea. The children immediately screamed the adults were cheating because they were using magic! The adults sneered back and never noticed Tesy sneaking around the back, having drawn a postern gate into the sand walls.

Saliss of Lights was going in—and he had stink bombs.

That wasn’t what Lord Tyrion was focused on. He was just…staring at Sammial.

Sammial, who was furious at being knocked into the surf, charged out. But a boy cried out to him.

“Help! Help! Don’t go, help me!”

Ekirra was buried up to his face, and Sammial turned and began tugging him out.

“Don’t give me orders! I’m a [Lord]!”

He snapped at Ekirra, flushed with adrenaline. Tyrion stirred. That was classic Sammy, and he almost stepped into the garden to say something—but the Gnoll just spat sand out of his mouth.

“Yeah? Well—I’m the Lead Striker on the Little Crab’s team! Ekirra!”

“Wh—what’s that? Does it out rank a [Lord]?”

Sammy was curious. Ekirra scratched at his head.

“I dunno, but I give the orders when we play soccer if the coach isn’t shouting them! So…I bet I outrank you! Wanna be friends? Let’s go stink-bomb them!”

Sammial Veltras hesitated, and then he screwed up his face, stared at the naked Drake waving at them as the adults celebrated, and smiled.

“Sure! I’ll let you do that.”

And he ran off. Lord Tyrion stood there, open-mouthed.

Had Sammial just made a friend? Or at least—had an interaction with another boy his age that didn’t end with one in tears?

Was this the power of the beach? Then he put a hand to his chest because he felt something, then. And it was called—fear.




Fear. It came in the instant Tyrion looked at his sons playing and wished for them to have another week here.

It came as he wondered how bad this Winter Solstice was going to be, and he suddenly understood Ryoka’s tears. Worse, it was not just a father’s fear for his sons. In a moment, Tyrion looked at the boy called Ekirra, who ran screaming out of the castle.

“You thought you had us? Take this!”

Bethal hurled a stinkbomb back at the screaming children, and the attackers looked up in horror.

“We were betrayed? Who gave the plan away?”

The castle-holders had turned the uprising against itself! Every war had a traitor, and one, the obvious one, really, appeared on the battlements as her companions screamed in wrath up at her. Mrsha shook a fist up at—Visma. But the Drake girl had a doll, and she was literally on top of a castle.

In that moment, Ekirra, in a last-ditch ploy, saw something Sammial had made. He took a breath—then kicked the mudball that Sammial had placed down.

The [Kicker]’s shot flew up, missed Bethal, hit Lady Pryde in the face, and took her down. Then the siege resumed.

In that moment, Tyrion felt, suddenly, a reasonable man’s desire that Sammial’s Gnoll friend, that boy, should not die. Not now, not ever. That little boy was laughing and high-fiving Sammial before fleeing the wrath of Pryde—and Tyrion looked at the other children.

Not this Winter Solstice. Nor war.

Would they have died when he rained boulders into Liscor? Would these coming days lead to destruction? Sammial and Hethon had been through enough.

Let it continue. Let this stay without changing, a moment of forever. Please. But he had no power to make it happen. Not even the [Innkeeper] could hold that precious moment on the beach.




Conflicted, torn, Tyrion had to leave his observation of the beach. Reality was still the same. He did not, would not change for watching someone nail Lady Pryde in the face with a mudball, however objectively hilarious that was.

He was still a [Lord] of House Veltras. He still was Tyrion Veltras. Salva was still dead.

But perhaps that was why he ended up pacing the hallway of The Wandering Inn, ignoring the passersby. That was doubtless why he saw the strange Antinium arguing about the tickets. Then Tyrion saw the miserable girl trying not to cry in the snow. And it occurred to him that that was unfair.

He was wavering about offering to pay for the girl’s tickets or not getting involved with an Antinium when Garry hit the Drake. Tyrion didn’t move for that, though part of him approved of the violence, if not the resulting brawl.

He moved when he saw someone running over with a hammer to bash the Antinium’s brains in. It was unconscious, a younger man’s leaping into action. It was just a thought of—not him.

The lone Antinium whose position that Tyrion could respect did not die from a blow to the back of the head. Unfortunately, the moment they saw Tyrion and Garry fighting, half of Liscor went for them. Tyrion, to his amazement, found himself punching and parrying wild swings as his [Guards] ran into the fighting, along with Jeiss and the Watch, and Garry was fighting left and right until a Watch Captain ran into it all and screamed.

Everyone, halt!

Then Lord Tyrion saw Garry turn, and the two, battered and disheveled, locked eyes. Garry stared at Tyrion with dislike and the [Lord], uncertainly.

“You are Lord Tyrion Veltras. Why did you help me?”

“I—just wanted to hit some fools.”

Garry hesitated.

“Oh. How oddly reasonable. I am Garry.”

“I am Lord Tyrion Velt—click.

The handcuffs closed around Tyrion’s wrists, and he stared at them. Garry looked down as two went over both pairs of his hands. He and Tyrion stared down as Watch Captain Zevara and five squads of [Guards] surrounded them.

“Uh oh.”




The enraged Erin Solstice wanted Garry freed. He had done nothing wrong!

Zevara maintained that Garry had done something wrong by choosing violence, however understandable, and that he wasn’t going to be jailed overnight. In fact, Lord Veltras was so dangerous to arrest, they’d be out in hours, but they were arrested.

His people were in the jail, making sure no one tried anything, but there had to be crime and punishment or else people were above the law.

“Either you are above the law, in which case I am useless, or you will respect my judgement, Erin Solstice! Don’t make me arrest you, because if you break out of my jail—you will break Liscor’s Watch, and I will resign.”

She actually talked Erin down, and the enraged [Innkeeper] finally lowered the frying pan.

“…Did you say you arrested Tyrion Veltras?”

Her lips quirked at that as Ryoka poked her head out of the beach with a look of horror. Zevara?

Zevara looked very pleased with herself.




The bread was so hard and stale that Tyrion didn’t even try it, just knocked it against the wall of his cell. Garry tried his bread; they were in the top-level cells with magical walls and Skill-destroying containment.

“This is terrible bread.”

“Mm. I’ve seen worse.”

Garry stopped gnawing on the bread with his mandibles, an act that Tyrion couldn’t tear his eyes away from. He waved it indignantly.

“How could it be worse? It is just flour and water and mold.”

“It could have maggots. I’ve seen worse rations in war.”

Garry the [Baker], who was not the most fond of Tyrion, had begun speaking after their first twenty minutes in the boring cells. He had realized Tyrion had saved him, and there was nothing to do but talk. Jericha was sitting with her face in her hands as Ullim patted her on the shoulders down the hall.

“I believe you and I are very different people, Lord Veltras. Maggots are tasty.”

Tyrion shuddered and turned to one side.

“The Antinium truly are a different…people.”

“Thank you. I dislike you quite a lot for sieging Liscor, but thank you.”

Garry inexplicably brightened up. Tyrion turned.

“Thank you for what?”

“Saying we are a people. Not many people do.”

“Oh. Well.”

The two stood there for a while, then Tyrion spoke.

“That girl who wanted to go to the beach and sold her ticket.”

“Comrei? She will go to the beach. I will make it so.”

Garry was determined as he folded his arms. Tyrion turned and realized their two hours were almost up. It was a slap on the wrist, which was why he’d agreed.

“Good. So you bake food? I had no idea an Antinium could do that. Tell me. Do you cater…dinners? My sons and family need food. I would invite you to eat with us.”

Garry gave Tyrion a long, long look as Jericha and Ullim turned and stared.

“I shall think on it.”




Erin Solstice watched as a nervous Comrei and Garry’s regulars entered the beach. She stared at Tyrion Veltras, but he was just standing in the water, knee-deep, staring at his sons, who regarded the shirtless [Lord] with the same strange look.

“Man, today’s weird. I’m just going to ignore him. Garry, why did you start a fight?”

“Because it was wrong that Comrei and the others had to sell their tickets, Miss Erin. I am sorry.”

Garry hung his head, then changed his mind.

“No, I am not sorry, I am mad!”

He stomped his foot, and Erin smiled at him.

“I woulda done the same thing, probably, Garry. But—okay, we’ll make sure they have access. And those jerks aren’t ‘out’ of the beach because they’ll bully your regulars, but they’ll pay.”

She cracked her knuckles, looking menacingly at the ignorant Liscorians on the beach. Erin might have been persuaded not to directly go after them, but she had put a bee in the ear of a few of the other beach-goers, and Lism had, for once, agreed to a team-up filled with petty vengeance that began with sending [Tax Collectors] to make sure all of their wealth was legitimately acquired.

However, Garry just stared at the wrath of Lism and Elirr, who was telling his cats where they lived and how much they were allowed to use that street as a litterbox, and shook his head.

“Erin. I do not want that. Well, I do want that, but it means nothing.”

“I dunno. Cat poop means a lot to me if I step in it.”

The [Baker] shook his head vehemently.

“No, Erin. Thank you for helping! And being nice. But that is not what I mean! Comrei will not be helped by making that one stupid Drake’s life poorer. Comrei needs more than my bread. I see it now. I see…I need something more. More than my shop. What you did for us. For me. For Pisces.”

Erin looked at Garry, and they both remembered an inn that was far less grand than this one. But no less magical. She sighed and put her arm around him, hugging him hard.

“Garry. You sweet thing. I feel like I’ve changed, but you never forgot how it all began. Can I help?”

She sniffed, and Garry hugged her back.

“Yes. I will need it. But first, I will enjoy myself, then I am invited to dinner with someone you will dislike, Erin. But change is good. Please do not forget, though, that there are a lot of Comreis. They are the ones who could be another Pisces. If someone just helped. Hopefully, though, with less sniffing.”

“I’ll try never to.”

Erin’s eyes were overfull, and the hugging two smiled. Then someone dashed over.

Forsooth! I have heard of the issue and come to help! Garry! If you need help—

Garry slapped the bag of coins out of Mrsha’s paws.

“Meh. Not that. That’s not how it works. I think. I will think on it.”

So he sat on the beach until someone banged on a pot, and Garry turned. Then someone threw something at him, and a poofy white hat struck him in the chest. He turned, wondering if he were going to have to drown someone—and a finger pointed at him.

“You. Is. Challenged!

An angry, little grey Goblin with a poofy hat stood next to a huge cauldron on the beach and hit it with a ladle.

Clang, clang. And she began screaming.

“Rematch! Rematch!”

Tyrion Veltras turned as Garry slowly put on the hat. The champion stood up as Imani, Palt, Lasica, Calescent, and everyone else who styled themselves as a good cook slowly looked around. Erin shouted.

That’s right! Roll on up! We’re having a cooking contest! And it’s a <Quest>! Aha. Ahahahahaha! But you have to make it with random ingredients, and you get a stupid non-cook partner!

Drassi ran for a camera. Pebblesnatch ran for a partner. Erin cackled harder when she saw the Pebblesnatch-Mrsha combo. Imani and Palt ended up competing as he chose Bezale and she grabbed Montressa.

Valeterisa, who fancied that she knew recipes, teamed up with Relc. Lasica was banned from using Rufelt, so the Drake raised an eyebrow.

“If I have to choose an unskilled partner—I’ll take Erin. Alright, alright. Stop screaming. Ape, let’s do this.”

Erek ooked as Bethal and Thomast qualified on the basis that both probably sucked. Grimalkin and Pryde. Octavia and Numbtongue. Wailant and Viceria…

There were a lot of contestants. Garry ran around until he realized there was only one logical choice.

“Miss Erin has hidden some ingredients all over the garden. Doubtless, some are wet or others are hidden in trees or underground. I am the reigning champion, and I need a capable person who can get things. Can you cook?”

Tyrion Veltras turned as his sons and Ryoka goggled at him. He hesitated as the Antinium [Baker] faced him, and he shook his head.

“I can grill meat.”


And then—and then the contest began, and if only it could last. Yet nothing lasted forever, and some stories just couldn’t be told. But it went on and on.

That endless story of the beach.





Author’s Note:

Wrote too much. I had a bit of fun, but I’m pushing…pushing probably too much.

Here’s a solution: I will push on one last chapter this week, and then I’m taking Sunday off. I may take Sundays off in general. Obviously, this is on my end; the chapter will probably come out on Sunday because I’m editing and such, but I will do no writing on Sunday.

I have a surprising amount of non-writing work these days, and unless I turn my Wednesday day off into a work day…Sundays off to outline and prep may be inevitable. I’ll experiment.

We’ll see.

I’m still on the one-chapter thing. One more tomorrow. Then rest for me, then more work, then rest, and on and on.

But how long does this beach go? Are you getting sick of it? Are you enjoying this? Let me know. I’m having fun. See you later!


Stream Art: Thick Thighs Save Lives by Fiore!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atlasphenomenon

Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/fiorepandaphen


Stream Art: Siege and Chaldion by Tatolord!


Erin, Rags, events from Volume 1, and more by Elora, (7 years old), The Wandering Inn’s (youngest) reader! No, but wait, is she listening to all of this? Because it gets sorta dark…


Garry’s Kitchen by Wowzabublord!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wowzabublord/

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