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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 5:51 pm 

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
Posts: 875
Poetic License
by RavenoftheBlack
Status: Public :diamond:

Raiker Venn was sitting in his corner booth, casually sipping his Hissvine tea and scratching quietly on his roll of parchment. He was carefully, if lazily, constructing the lines of his next poem, but he was in no hurry. He would not be able to finish it for about a week anyway, due to a minor miscalculation on his part. He had simply returned to this plane too soon. But it hardly mattered. The reception of his poem at the Lark’s Fable had been good, and his night with the lovely Lunora had been inspiring, to say the least. He had written a poem already for her that very night, and he needed to stay on this plane (although admittedly a few towns away) until he could return and present it.

The Gentleman Poet was struggling for a satisfactory rhyme to “sorrow” when he was approached by Timdrin, an impossibly friendly and optimistic fellow who did odd jobs for this tavern to put some money away for his family. The “Oar and Acorn” tavern, a name Raiker thoroughly despised, was generally a nice, quiet little place, except around mealtimes, when it became impossible to get any work done. But it had a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, where locals and travelers alike would gather and gossip. And there was no one in the “Oar and Acorn” more friendly and talkative than Timdrin.

“Sorry to bother you, Mr. Venn,” the other man started with an honest smile, “but would you like some more tea? Yours must be getting cold by now.”

Raiker glanced at his half-filled cup. It had gotten cold, although Raiker hadn’t truly noticed it. He smiled broadly at Timdrin and nodded. “Yes, and a hearty thanks to you, my friend!”

“So what are you working on now, Mr. Venn, if I may ask?” Timdrin said as he poured the Gentleman Poet a fresh cup.

“Oh, nothing much, my boy!” Raiker replied as he moved instinctively to cover up the words. “Just my latest poetic masterpiece, that is all.”

Timdrin laughed slightly at the reply as he slid the cup carefully across the table, sure to keep it as far away from the poet’s parchment as possible. “You know, Mr. Venn, I’ve always been amazed at the things you write. I mean, most of us folk here can barely mark down our names, but the way you string your words together, it’s a magical thing.”

Raiker smiled at the praise, and the wording. “Again, I thank you, my boy. Surely, you are overly kind. Perhaps, if your Mr. Maloric allows, I might do another reading here in several days’ time. My new poem will not be ready until then, you see.”

Timdrin nodded enthusiastically. “Everyone would love that, sir, and I’m sure Mr. Maloric would agree. He always makes a lot more money on nights you read.” Timdrin caught himself then. “Oh, and I’m sure he loves it as much as the rest of us do.” He paused again, afraid he had insulted the poet. “I’m sorry.”

Raiker laughed with honest amusement. “No need to worry, dear boy! We artists are used to such things, and for a living, we often depend on them!”

Timdrin seemed relieved. “So what’s this newest one about?”

Raiker considered acting offended, covering up his desire to not ruin the surprise, but sometimes, a little foreshadowing was a masterful thing. It would make that eventual, poetic moment that much more poignant. “Well, Timdrin, I do not know whether I should tell you. It might get around if I did, and then what of my performance?”

“Oh, I won’t tell anyone, Mr. Venn, I swear!” Timdrin’s look of almost childish excitement was almost too much for Raiker to take. So innocent. So tragic.

“Very well, my boy, very well!” Raiker said with a grin as he moved his hand just slightly away from his parchment. “It is a tragic poem, which as you well know is my specialty. It is about love and loss, about innocence, and unimaginable grief. It is about perhaps the greatest gift of all, and then fate’s cruel theft of that prize.”

Timdrin looked as though he were going to burst into tears merely from the description of the work. Inwardly, Raiker smiled. This, he thought, would be among his greatest works. Timdrin sniffled as he regained his composure. “It sounds powerful. What’s it called?”

Raiker’s smile widened. “It is named ‘The Neverborn Child.’ And truly, powerful is an apt word for what I have planned.”

The young man’s face turned a little pale when he heard the title. “I…” he started, but did not manage to finish.

The planeswalker, with his greatest thespian airs, donned a mask of concern. “Why, my dear Timdrin, you look ill. Whatever is the matter, dear boy?”

“I’m sorry,” Timdrin managed, shaking off his reaction. “It’s just that Nhari and I are expecting our first child, and you sort of touched a nerve” he said with a weak, thin smile. “No fault of yours, you understand.”

“Of course, my boy, of course,” Raiker said, resuming his jovial expression. “I had not heard of your good fortune,” he lied. “May I offer you my sincerest congratulations? When is the child expected to arrive?”

Timdrin beamed at this change of tone. “Quite soon, Mr. Venn. The healers expect it will happen in perhaps a week or so.”

“A joyous thing, truly!” Raiker said as he nodded. “Surely, you and I must have a drink to celebrate this occasion!”

But Timdrin politely shook his head. “I’m sorry, Mr. Venn. Perhaps another day. Mr. Maloric would be upset if I were drinking on the job. And come to talk of that, I had best get back to work!”

“Ah, indeed,” Raiker replied with a certain tinge of feigned regret. “Perhaps tomorrow eve such an opportunity will avail us. I plan to remain here a while yet. If fortune is with me, I may even be able to remain here until your most happiest of days.”

“Thank you, Mr. Venn,” Timdrin said with a simple, excited grin.

Raiker smirked as he returned to his poem and his tea. Yes, this was truly going to be a masterful work, he thought to himself. By this time, the tavern was beginning to grow noisy from the influx of travelers and locals. The midday meal was approaching, and people were preparing for it by their traditional gatherings to exchange stories and pleasantries and other banal expenditures of time. Raiker Venn attempted to work on his poem for a while, but the increasing noise within the “Oar and Acorn” soon proved too much for him. With a heavy sigh, Raiker rolled up his parchment and stuck it back into the inside pocket of his cloak, which was resting on the bench next to him, alongside his black and silver cane.

The loudest of the groups making conversation in the "Oar and Acorn” was also the closest, and Raiker decided to listen in on their conversation, if only for a simple distraction. The group was made up of an even mixture of townsfolk and travelers, and the conversation was primarily on gossip from the surrounding area. Locals were always interested in the goings-on of the towns near them. The people in these nearby towns had become something like well-known strangers. Locals knew their names, their appearances, their place in society, but had rarely ever met them in person, except on those rare occasions where the mostly sedentary villagers were themselves forced to travel. Because of this, gossip about the nearby towns was always a hot topic.

The first several stories that were told while Raiker was listening were frightfully boring. Some child had gotten into trouble at a farmer’s stead, some livestock had gone missing somewhere, someone had had an affair with someone else. None of it mattered; none of it interested Raiker Venn in the least. It was the same sort of meaningless drivel he had been hearing throughout his entire life. Raiker fought back the urge to scoff out loud. Did these people have no idea how to live? Did they have no grasp of a properly told story? Did they have no sense of the tragedy of life whatsoever? But then, someone mentioned Lunora, and Raiker Venn’s attention snapped back to their otherwise mindless conversation.

“The scholar, over in Tratstown?” a local woman was saying. “No, I haven’t heard. What happened?”

The original speaker, a travelling merchant by the look of him, leaned in closer, but did nothing to lower his voice. “Poor woman hanged herself in her home a couple nights ago, they say.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” a few locals muttered, shaking their heads.

“Does anyone know why?” One asked.

“Not that I know of,” the merchant answered with a shrug. “I just heard her brother found her there.”

“I heard about that,” another traveler, some sort of mercenary, said. “I heard they found a note. She said something about being a fraud or something, I don’t know.”

“Such a shame,” others agreed.

Raiker nodded his sympathy. His poem, “The Scholar’s Façade,” would be a tragic hit at her funeral in a few days. The conversation moved on to other topics, and Raiker was just preparing to settle in for his midday meal when a new local burst into the “Oar and Acorn” with unusual energy. He scanned the crowd for a moment, then seemed to locate someone in the group Raiker had been listening in on. He rushed over and practically yelled as he spoke.

“You’ll never guess what I just saw! I swear, just guess, you never will!”

The others in the group attempted to calm the excited man down, with little effect. Finally, one of the women said, “You’re right, we won’t guess, so just tell us!”

The man nodded enthusiastically. “A walking statue!”

Raiker Venn’s head snapped up at those words. He tried to be subtle as he listened, and while he failed by his own lofty standards of the word, it was doubtful anyone else in the “Oar and Acorn” noticed his reaction at all.

“You’re crazy,” the woman replied, but with an interested tone.

“No,” he insisted, “I swear! I thought I was seeing things, myself, but she was real! I was at the other end of town, and she just walked in, a walking statue of some sort of cat-human! All in a kind of green stone!”

“Jade,” Raiker spat, louder than he intended to. This time, his reaction was not unnoticed, as the man looked at Raiker with a questioning expression.

“What was that?”

Raiker looked at the man and realized his mistake, but quickly corrected it. “Green stone, my dear man. It is called ‘jade.’ Unless of course it was translucent. That would be an emerald.”

The man just nodded. “Oh, yeah, a jade statue, walking and talking!”

There were murmurs of disbelieve throughout the entire tavern, but Raiker did not have time to wait them out. He quickly gathered up his cloak and his ornate cane and pushed himself out of his cozy, corner booth. As he passed the gathered group, the excited man turned to him imploringly.

“You believe me, don’t you, Mr. Venn?”

Raiker looked at the man, and then at the large group, then smiled broadly. “Why, of course I do, my dear man! As you all know well, I come from a far-away land, and in my many travels, I have seen a great many wonders that most would label as impossible. Why, I believe my memory even recalls having seen such a walking statue as you describe before!”

The crowd was awed that a wise and learned poet would agree with the man, and they all believed his story a little bit more. Raiker threw his cloak over his shoulders and produced his brimmed hat seemingly out of nowhere, placing it smoothly on his head. He then tipped it slightly to the gathered group and made for the door. As he reached it, Timdrin called out to him.

“Are you going to see this statue woman, Mr. Venn?”

But Raiker simply laughed. “No, my boy, I do not think I will. When you have seen one walking statue,” he paused, selecting his words carefully, as always, “you are in no particular hurry to see another. I have just remembered a pressing engagement I have in…” He paused again, realizing that if Jade were here, it was likely to find Raiker, and telling people he was going to Tratstown would be unwise. “In the northeast. Timdrin, dear boy, I am afraid we will have to wait on that celebratory drink. Please give my best to your lovely wife Nhari, and your child, when that time comes.” He turned towards the door, and spoke his last few words there under his breath. “All three of you are far more fortunate than you know.”

Without another word, Raiker pushed the door open and made his way outside, immediately turning down the road leading toward Tratstown, to the south. The fact that Jade was on this plane, let alone in this very town, was bothersome to Raiker Venn. It was not as though she were a threat to him, necessarily, but it did mean that he had underestimated her abilities. Other ‘walkers, younger or more naïve than Raiker, might have tried to comfort themselves in the belief that it might have been a coincidence that Jade had arrived there, but Raiker would not be so easily defeated by the insecurities of the mind. Considering the impossible number of planes in existence, and the impossible number of towns within those planes, the odds of it being happenstance essentially fall to nothing. Raiker didn’t like that.

In order to put as much physical distance between himself and Jade, Raiker rushed down the simple road at a rate he was very much unaccustomed to moving. Raiker preferred to keep things slow and deliberate, like the rhythms of his poems. The sloppy poet who speeds over his words creates a work that stumbles and falters, and ultimately never reaches its intended destination. Still, as much as it soured his mood, Raiker Venn had to admit that there were times when life did not behave like a poem. Raiker hated those times. Still, for the sake of his various agendas, he allowed himself to run for a time, until he grew bored with the action. Thereafter, Raiker simply walked at his steady, unwavering pace, allowing his cane to keep time with him on the hard road beneath.

The sky was just beginning to darken as Raiker Venn approached the simple little village of Tratstown. He was walking rhythmically along the main road, which was bordered on either side by a line of trees, all that remained of what had once been a thick forest. Now, they were simply cultivated for the shade they provided travelers. His ornate cane struck the ground with every other step, and he used it as a simple metric as he recited his own poetry to himself. He jumped from one work to another, allowing the words to flow from his memory without any conscious thought. The words brought back floods of memories, countless tragedies he had seen over his life. The memories fed into the words, and the words made Raiker Venn smile.

“Hold and attend!” a voice rang out from the trees to Raiker’s left as several men scrambled out of the trees from either side, surrounding the planeswalker. There were six men in front of him and one behind. Raiker came to a halt, and although his expression never changed, he was trying with all of his considerable will not to laugh.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” Raiker began with a wide grin. “This is such a lovely evening. I see you have been enjoying the pleasant weather yourselves.”

“Who are you?” One of the man barked roughly.

“Me?” Raiker asked, insulted. “I am but a travelling wordsmith, a gentleman poet, wandering these long and lonely roads in search of a story and the fair words to tell it. And if you gentlemen are what you surely must be from your greeting, than perhaps I shall have to write a new poem this night. I shall entitle it ‘The Highwaymen’s Folly.”

One of the men in front of him took a step forward. He was a short man, and less well-armed than his colleagues, but there was something vaguely familiar about his features. It may have simply been the tired look in his eyes, which Raiker had seen over and over again in his travels, and yet it seemed much more. The man scoffed at the poet before he spoke.

“You must be Raiker Venn, then,” he said, his voice a mixture of dejection and satisfaction.

Raiker shifted his cane to his left hand and grabbed the brim of his hat with the other. He gave a flourished and exaggerated bow, replaced his hat, moved his cane back to his right hand, and grinned. “The very same,” he said.

The man’s expression soured. “Good. I have some words for you.”

Raiker huffed. “I assure you, my simple friend, there is no word you have ever uttered that I do not know.”

“That’s not what I…” the man began angrily, then forced himself to calm down. “I have some questions. And if you want to continue walking into town, you’d better provide me with some damn good answers.”

“I see!” Raiker said far too enthusiastically. “You are suggesting a bargain whereby I provide you answers, most of which you will likely be unable to understand, and you and your compatriots here will leave me healthy and unharmed, which I already am?”

The man clenched his jaw and exhaled loudly and slowly. “That is the deal, for now.”

One of the other men, the largest and the one standing closest to the speaker, stepped forward. “We don’t work for nothing, Lurun. We told you that. We get something out of this. What about that pretty cane of his, huh? That’ll fetch a price down coast-ways.”

Raiker could no longer contain his laughter. “This cane?” he said, holding it up slightly. “There isn’t a merchant or nobleman alive on this plane who could afford to pay this cane’s true worth. Do you simpletons have the slightest idea of what this cane is?”

The highwaymen looked at the cane and its holder with an uneasy greed. Raiker smiled, knowing they would at best grasp a small fraction of what he was about to tell them. He first ran a single finger along the lower, black shaft, about two and a half feet long from the tip to the silver decoration just below the handle. “Do you know what this is? I call it demon ivory. This is from the horn of a demon in a place called Sorphonach. The demons there grant wishes to foolish mortals willing to make bargains with their souls, or more valuable commodities. I cannot begin to explain to you the difficulty of finding a single piece this large.”

Raiker Venn then pointed to the black leather covering the handle, perhaps four inches long between the silver decoration and the ornate silver top which could also serve as a grip. “This leather was tanned from the hide of a rare raven-colored wishmonger on Mercadia. The handle it covers was crafted from her horn.” He paused, pointing to the silver at the top of the cane. “And of course, my favorite. This was congealed, hardened, and then smelted back down into a silver alloy from the blood of the Djinn kings on Arthogonia. The fight they put up to keep it is why no one has ever heard of that plane since.”

The highwaymen looked at each other with profound uncertainty before the largest again addressed Lurun. “He’s crazy, Lurun. Let’s just kill him and be done with it.”

“No,” Lurun shot back with a sideways glance. “I have to know first.” He looked back at the planeswalker with disdain in his face. “You may be insane, Raiker Venn, or you may be an exceptional actor. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I want you to tell me about Lunora.”

Raiker was momentarily surprised, but he realized almost instantly that he shouldn’t have been. The familiarity of this man’s face suddenly made sense to him. The resemblance was not overbearing, but enough that he should have seen it. “Ah, yes, Lunora! She was a treasure! You must be her brother!”

Lurun took an angry step forward. “Yes, I am. What did you do to her?”


Lurun’s face was beginning to turn red. “You heard me, poet! Two nights ago, you read your damned poetry at the ‘Lark’s Fable’. They said you left with my sister. Now what did you do!”

Raiker made a show of looking shocked. “My dear boy, surely you know that a gentleman would never discuss such things, particularly with the lady’s own brother.”

A few of the highwaymen chuckled at this, but Lurun was livid. “That’s not what I mean, and you know it, Venn! My sister was one of the happiest, stableist people I have ever known. She takes you home with her, and that very night, she hangs herself? I don’t think so. What did you do!”

Raiker rolled his eyes. “It is ‘most stable,’ dear boy. When you address a master poet, please do so with a certain respect for language.” Lurun was about to move forward, presumably to attack Raiker, but the planeswalker held up his left hand to stop him. “Please, we need not be enemies. I have only just today heard of your sister’s death, and I have returned to pay my respects.”

Lurun’s eyes narrowed. “My sister’s not dead.”

Raiker’s eyebrows shot upward. Now that was a surprise. “Beg pardon?”

“I walked into my sister’s house through the back door, presumably moments after you walked out the front. I cut her down. She’s been unconscious ever since, but she still breathes. I put out the rumor that she died because I wanted you back here.”

Raiker exhaled sharply. He rarely allowed himself to get upset, but this just simply wouldn’t do. “This is distressing,” he said, almost to himself. Then he locked gazes with Lurun. “This is truly disturbing news.” Then, in an uncharacteristic fit of rage, he growled slightly and cast his head to the side. “I cannot believe she would do this to me!”

“She…to you…what?” Lurun was almost too confused to be angry. “What are you talking about?”

Raiker regained his control and looked back at the shorter man. “Your sister claimed to be a great fan of my work. She said that she loved my poetry. So I ask you, how could she do this?”

“Do what?”

“How could she ruin my poem?”

“Your…” Lurun stopped, horrified. “Your poem? What about your blasted poem?”

Raiker sighed once more. “I told your lovely sister that I would write her a poem. She inspired me to, just two nights ago. And so I wrote her a haunting and tragic ballad, ‘The Scholar’s Façade,’ and then she just ruins the entire thing? This simply will not do. We will need to make a revision.”

Lurun was aghast. “My sister nearly died, and you want to revise your damned poem?”

Raiker shook his head and brought his left thumb and forefinger up to massage the bridge of his nose. “Unsurprisingly, you have missed the entire point! The poem is perfect! Flawless! It is the heart-wrenchingly tragic story of a brilliant but hollow woman who could no longer live with her deep, mental anguish! The poem is flawless. It is reality that needs the revision!”

“You are insane,” Lurun spat.

Raiker scoffed. “I would not walk onto a farmer’s field and expect to understand the finer points of plowing his field, and so I do not expect a dullard such as yourself to comprehend what I am about to say. I have been a poet for more lifetimes than you have lived seasons. I have written every sort of poem you can imagine, and a great deal more than that, and I have learned two very important facts. The first is that there is no poem more affecting than a tragic poem. The second is that tragedy is only poignant when it is real. Lunora’s poem is incomplete without her death!”

Lurun staggered back a step, convinced Raiker was thoroughly insane. “Enough of this. Kill him. Make it painful!”

Raiker rolled his irritated eyes as the three foremost highwaymen advanced on him. Imbeciles, he thought as he pressed the small button on the base of his cane’s handle, sliding the concealed silver sword out effortlessly. The highwaymen hesitated, but only for a moment as they advanced, the largest of them in the center. The one on Raiker’s left attacked first, and Raiker casually batted his sword away and sliced him up the chest, killing him. The man on the right met with an identical fate while Raiker watched him fall, his face expressionless. The larger man, apparently the leader of the highwaymen, attacked to Raiker’s left. The planeswalker simply blocked the blow with the demon ivory cane he still held in his left hand, then brought it across the side of the big man’s head. The highwaymen flew off the street as though he had been hit by a giant and struck a nearby tree with a sickening thud.

The remaining four men stared at the poet in shock and horror. Lurun, more concerned with his vengeance than his life, charged forward, as did the lone man behind Raiker. The planeswalker yawned as he deflected two of Lurun’s strikes and then thrust the demon ivory backwards into the gut of the other attacker. While easily parrying Lurun’s sloppy attacks, Raiker brought the cane down on the back of the other man’s skull with a twisting of his wrist. The cracking sound it made was louder than the reverberations of steel on silver. Raiker focused once again on Lurun and, between a small flurry of strikes from the boy, he jabbed him in the stomach with the cane, as well. With a quick motion, Raiker brought the cane up, catching Lurun in the face and sending him flying backward, landing hard on his back on the road.

The remaining two highwaymen took one look at one another before turning around, one of them distinctly shouting “I’m leaving!”

Raiker, not even breathing hard, shook his head. “No,” was all he said as he held out the sword. He called forth a burst of pure æther in the form of a pure-white lightning bolt and sent it careening off the blade and into the back of the further of the two men. With a quickly-silenced scream, the man vanished completely. The other highwayman tossed down his sword, fell to his knees and held up his arms.

“Please,” he said desperately. “I won’t tell anyone, I swear!"

“I know,” Raiker assured him as he sent another blast across the road and into the highwayman’s chest. After he disappeared into the vast nothingness of the Blind Eternities, Raiker held his sword straight upwards and called forth a third strike, this one forking into four and striking the bodies of the remaining dead highwayman. With a final, irritated sigh, Raiker slid his silver blade back into the demon ivory, and his cane appeared nothing more than a cane once again.

Raiker Venn walked over to the broken, whimpering form of Lurun and knelt down next to him. His face was cold and emotionless, but somehow his eyes were still filled with rage. He grabbed Lurun by the shirt and pulled him to a sitting position, which was obviously excruciating for the man.

“I abhor such base and inelegant violence, and you all needed to die for forcing me to engage in it like some common street bandit,” Raiker said, surprisingly calmly. “However, while they did so for the simplest of reasons, you at least, at the very least, did so for a reason that approximated nobility. For that, I will give you a gift before you join them in death. I will give you a gift that no mortal has ever seen.”

Raiker Venn pivoted slightly and pointed with the ornate silver top of his cane to a spot a few short feet from where Lurun sat. The silver of the cane glowed for a moment, and then there was a gust of wind. The air rippled briefly, and then a circular tear appeared in the very fabric of reality. Lurun looked in frightened fascination as he gazed on a sight he had no hope of understanding. It was nothing and everything, it was worlds upon worlds upon worlds, and yet an infinity of nothingness. Raiker watched the man’s eyes bulge as he stared.

“That, my dear boy, is the Cursed Blessing, and the Blessed Curse. That is the very madness of existence. Look!” Raiker yelled, pouring mana into Lurun’s mind, opening his perception to levels no mortal should know, forcing him to see everything at once, and nothing all the same. Finally, when Lurun began shaking uncontrollably, Raiker closed the portal and stood up. He walked a short distance away, looking up at the darkening sky of this one, simple world.

“Perhaps now you understand me a bit more, Lurun. That is the ultimate tragedy of the worlds. I am a poet. It is my purpose in life to put words to the concepts we see every day, or perhaps only once in life. But that?” He pointed to the place where the portal had been. He was angry now, but he calmed himself down with a heavy exhalation. “That is a concept that knows no words. All of the worlds I have travelled, and all of the lifetimes I have lived, they are nothing compared to that. It is everywhere. And there are no words for it.”

Lurun struggled to look over at the planeswalker, hatred merging with bitter understanding, but no forgiveness. Raiker went on. “I have tried, of course. I have tried to use my mastery of words to explain it, to circumscribe it, and there were moments when I thought I had! But then I would ‘walk through it, into it, and the words I had chosen were always wrong! It is different every time. The road changes for every ‘walker, and for every ‘walk. It has no meter. It has no rhyme. It has no meaning.”

Raiker looked almost as though he could cry. Lurun, despising the man, spat in his direction. Raiker Venn smiled. “It is so easy for you mortals. Very well.” He gestured with his cane again, and opened another portal, this one to a world that seemed to scream in blood and fire. “I will allow you to live, if only for a few hours. This plane has no name. It would forget it soon enough, anyway. Ultimately, Lurun, the only thing we truly have is our mind. This plane takes that. It will sap your mind and replace it with abject madness. You thought me insane, so you had best know what it is, to judge for yourself.”

Raiker pointed his cane toward Lurun, and the shorter man’s body rose off the ground and to a standing position just in front of the portal. Raiker walked over and stood next to the immobile man. He glanced at the chaos on the other side and then back at Lurun. “Do keep in touch, my boy. Yours is such a tragic story.” With one, quick motion, Raiker pushed him through the portal. “I will be sure to write.”

With a thought and a gesture, Raiker Venn closed the portal. He looked around the road, noting a few small patches of blood, a few instances of disturbed dirt to indicate a scuffle, but nothing that would draw much attention. With an unhappy frown, Raiker Venn straightened his suit and cloak, and made sure his hat was on straight and his garments more or less clean. He did so hate these little complications. Why was it that certain people just didn’t understand the workings of a true artist? Raiker Venn shook his head and continued off towards town. He had a revision to write.

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