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The Lengths We Go To

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...If you are reading this, it made its way through the screen test for the paper, and is hiding among the classified. I'm sorry if you were expecting another illiterate 'missed connection' or vexing advertisement for feminine company...


The woman at the desk sat upright quickly, releasing the pen. It rolled off the desk and struck the ground. Ink spattered across the floor, a handful of dark droplets on a dusty floor. Eryel was already gone before it went into free fall.

Her garments swished audibly as she stepped quickly through the hall into the back room, moving past the only chair back there and towards the only bed back there, as well, in the only room besides the store front. 

Sitting in the bed--not really a bed, but a mattress, tucked shamefully into the corner and draped with fabrics, blankets, rugs and whatever else they could muster--was her father. Her Pawpaw. Her family.

He was sitting up again, and she immediately took offense, sinking to her knees by his side. Her hands reached for the rag in the shallow bowl of water on the side of the bed, wrang it out, and pressed it against his forehead.

"Eryel, please. Please." He lifted his hands up in defense, but she dutifully washed his features, cooling his face and cheeks. He eventually caught the rag, and she let her hands drop into her lap. She blinked at last, realizing she'd been abstaining.

"But Pawpaw, your fever--" She barely even got four words out before he spoke over her. 

"It will pass, Eryel. Please. Don't worry so much." He took a sharp breath in, then coughed harshly. Her resolve broke, and she reached forward, as if to comfort him. He recovered eventually, and pressed her with a question; a familiar one at that. 

"Our things?"

She thought about her note, still unpenned at the table. She hadn't left the store yet, hadn't left her father's side. She couldn't; where would she go? Hyperion was a massive city, too large for her to navigate quickly and easily. She lacked the familiarity of her surroundings to know where to go, where to check. In the time it would take her to get the things back, hours would have passed. She often worried that a few hours would be all it would take for her father to grow worse.

She gnawed her lip. She had to tell him the same answer to the same question, again.

"Pawpaw, I'm sorry, but I can't find out--" Again, cut off. It was amazing she still chose to try and speak.

"Eryel, listen to me." He leaned forward. It pained him. It pained her.

"I will be fine, but without our belongings we have nothing working for us. For me to provide for you, for us." He took another breath, and didn't finish his thought. She clung to it, as if it might fade away. 

"You need to find out where it's been put," He told her. Again. "Just, please. Eryel. Be safe." 

He gave her  mild pat, and the dutiful guardian got back to her feet. Her garments swished with less vigor on her way back to the storefront. Before she even made her way back behind the counter, however, familiar moving shapes in the shop itself caught her attention. She paused, dusted herself off, and put on a smile. None too big, but genuine enough. She stepped through the curtain hiding their small home from the storegoers, and extended her hands in greeting.

"Hello there! Just browsing today?"

Alisaid Emmingwether had never appeared to age a day in his life. This was normal for many nonhumans, but less so for humans.

You could attribute this to many things about his life, from the way he chose his diet, to the way he spent his money. He was a knowledgeable and thrifty salesman, selling cheaper than most merchants could, and buying pricier than most merchants would, as well. From an outsider's perspective, you would assume he was either perennially in the red, or had some secret stash of money.

Looking at his shop, if you could call it that in Hyperion, you would never guess.

Perched behind the till, Eryel rested on her elbows. Her head was still propped up, proud and kind, but it was all on the surface, a facade put up as she watched the various folk browse their meager goods. The only things she had on offer were straightforward items, things she'd managed to keep in the wagon with them; a smattering of tasteful clothes, extra rations, and perhaps a knife or two. Beyond that, the rest of her offerings were mundane and overexpensive; easily found cheaper elsewhere.

They weren't her prices; Pawpaw was the merchant genius of the two of them, directing prices, negotiating deals for bulk shipments and arranging caravans, back in their home in Ashville. Eryel was the face of the business, certainly, with a knack for being straightforward and charming, reciting anything she was told on a whim.

But not even she could spin what they had in front of her into a meaningful purchase, even when if she was paying attention.

In her head, she was in the back taking care of her father. Was he able to lift the rag to his lips, or his forehead on his own? Maybe she should shoo the people out and go check on him again. She sighed audibly, and one of the shoppers stepping close by caught her attention, and she perked up, glancing over them quickly.

They had an outgoing look to them, the look of a travelled and weathered sort; the kind of person who goes far and wide, seeing and dealing with various things. Eryel supposed she could call them a mercenary, or a freelancer. An adventurer, maybe?

Her father in the back still beckoned to her in her thoughts, and she remembered that she had yet to hear about her belongings. The gears turned in her head, and she spoke, long before she even realized the words escaped her mouth.

"Excuse me, but are you perhaps an adventurer by trade?" She asked. She paused, and leaned against the counter, smiling at them.

"I may not have much available currently, but I am expecting more supplies. If you have a moment, maybe you could help me recover it. I'll reward you handsomely if you do."

Somewhere midsentance, she'd stopped talking to just the nearest visitor, and broadcasted her voice just enough to reach the others nearby.

"My name is Eryel," She introduced herself. Standing upright and smiling, she was a tall, graceful woman. Her layered clothing and tawny, rich brown complexion were elegant and warm, matching her kindly eyes and stilted speech, as she finished introductions. "My father and I have recently come to Hyperion from Ashville. With the rest of the migrants."

@vielle @Zashiii @Sanonymous @squid peanut @Peach 

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A small voice called out to Eryel from nearby.  "Wait what?  That's your pitch?!  Eryel nooooooo.  You have to make them want to help, sell them on the idea, not vague monetary promises!  I don't think they even know what you're trying to ask for"  The voice came from a large haphazard pile of overpriced products, more specifically a small alcove in the junk heap where a strange thing was sitting.

a young woman, no more than 4 inches tall, with messy purple hair and a green speckled dress.  She had long ears and insect like wings, and a thorny aesthetic to every bit of her.  She sat there holding a broken off piece of a nearby ration like she was a glowing, winged rat.  weirder still was that this small person hadn't been there moments before.  There was no lead up to the tiny person eating salted pork the size of her head, that just was today now.  Also of note was how even though the small person was calling out to Eryel with a remarkable clarity, they didn't seem to be heard by the rest of the store.  That, or they didn't feel the need to wonder, 'why is that pile of dishrags and rations desperately trying to coach the clerk about something?'

The small person, who was probably some kind of fairy if we must go there, climbed up mount Ration Dishrag and peeked over to look at the customers all facing Eryel.  Again, this fairy was either undetectable to everyone else in the shop, or such a common occurrence that no one cared at this point.  These two explanations were equally possible because Eryel probably didn't think she would see a fairy today either, so all bets were off.

"Ok ok, you can salvage this still.  You're random announcement of your name and refugee status has left them all temporarily stunned.  Now's your chance if you act quickly!  Come on Eryel, flip this pancake before it burns!"  The fairie's eyes were filled with 'believing in decent public speaking' that shot out like metaphorical arrows, straight to Eryel.

Edited by squid peanut
added a link to CS, also editted because super obvious typos

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It has been a rather long while but Tedimius has returned to her birthplace, Hyperion. Her venture with the cartel had been almost pleasant despite the unpleasant events she had to endure. Still, she was fortunate enough to be given a second chance at living and now she's putting that blessing to good use. Now that she has found a new purpose of life here in Hyperion, she will do her utmost to keep it that way.

So this brings her to this random store at this random part of the day. Her recent job here in Hyperion do have a lot of downtime between runs and she was happy for that. The nature of her work is too stressful for the common Hyperian but at least she can get by. Still, the enjoying the life of a common folk and indulging in commoner culture can be entertaining, at least for a short period of time. 

Just as she was about to leave the shop, this plebeian named Eryel tried to catch her attention. Oddly enough, the girl did catch it. Turning back to the speaker, Tedimius addressed the girl's concerns. "Tell more, peasant. What happened to your supplies?"

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