Apologies to all for any wild inaccuracies in this fiction
Sam stood on the edge of the world. Behind him there rose dark clouds of smoke from chimneys. When money loses value there is still great wealth to be found beneath the earth. Before him plunged the Saskatchewan Canyon. Deep enough that he could see clouds drifting through the depths below.
In the distance on the far side of the chasm, he could see people working. They were trying to establish a bridge. What gods had broke asunder, men would try to rejoin. It was a brave effort and that stirred within him. But futile. Clouds were not the only residents of the canyon. Most were quite hostile. The bridgeworks would be gone by the next morning.
He knew that stirring in his chest though. Bravery was never a problem, but rather a curse. He’d chosen a new way. A way of service that meant sometimes you left in the middle of the fight. Not to run, but because you were called away. Sam examined the box in his hands. He worried that Crow had played a role. Crow was so quick to find opportunity.
He’d stolen the box. Twice now. Sam turned it over in his hands. Into the pit? Or back where it came from?
Sam tucked the box away. There was time to make up his mind. First he would speak to the brave people across the canyon. He could guide them to a better way. He stepped off the edge. He shifted smoothly and rose up on thermals. But putting off a decision is a decision in itself. Come morning the box would be back where he had taken it.
The Crow would find him standing sentry.
Anders shifted the gold and silver coins in his enormous hands. They look like dimes. But they were solid and heavy and real. They were assayed in his office and then stamped with a W3 on one side and a clawed hand on the other. They were the only accepted currency at the Phase X Saloon and Casino.
Anders suit was finely tailored, but it was getting tight. He was letting his fur grow out. The result was that instead of hanging properly on his frame he looked a little like a stuffed doll. A giant stuffed doll.
Nefer wanted things. Information of course. But other things as well. Anders convinced him that the casino and the gold were the way to get those things. But a dragon and his hoard are not easily parted. Every coin was tracked. Once Nefer had what he needed, he would go out and recover them.
Anders generally stood at the door. They had swinging ones put in for the ambiance. When things got out of hand, he resolved them. Most thought he was just a bouncer, but he also handled all the money after closing and tracked the transactions in huge ledgers where he could write clearly and not be cramped.
He dropped two silver ones. They landed on the chest of the man lying at his feet.
“Take your friend home. No one leaves the Casino empty handed. But he isn’t welcome here anymore. If the is one thing we can’t abide is a cheat.”
Xin was tired. He looked at where his shop used to be and he was exhausted.
Oh, he could find the energy to go out and save the world one more time, but at some point he wanted to come home. meditate and get 3 hours sleep. But that required a home to come back to. How often had he repaired that place? Many, many times. Each time he was happy to do it.
But there was no rebuilding it this time. The city was behind him. Ahead of him were dark tunnels and caves. This is where the city ended. And he couldn’t rebuild in a cave. He hated even standing here.
But he wasn’t actually here to mourn the shop. He was looking for information about his family. There were rumours of some descendants here and there, but most of them were apparently just gone. Even more than a structure, he knew that family was home. He needed others. Family, companions and allies.
Xin didn’t work well alone.
The city was bright behind him. The lights were always on. Otherwise they were in complete darkness. Even with the towering building all illuminated it was oppressive here. Oppressive and dangerous. Dangerous to be out alone. But most that roamed the streets did so in packs. Often very hungry and wild packs.
Xin clenched his fist. Dry skin stretched over muscle and bone beneath like saran-wrap – tight and fragile. Xin was tired. He was alone. But the packs were the only dangerous things in the city.
So was he. Xin turned to go. There were miles yet to go before he slept.