The months after

Honestly, Nemissa changed nothing when the refugees began filtering in. Her city did it for her and she allowed it. Truly she could have asked for no better people than those she could claim to be Baroness of.

“Ma’mer, what?”

It was her son’s favorite thing to do: ask questions. She lifted him up in her arms so he could better see the construction going on around the harbor. “Construction. A new dock, for the new workers. New knowledge of the water, combined with our old knowledge. They’re building a shipyard there. See?” She pointed toward it, watching his eyes light up. Nemissa didn’t know how much of it he understood, but if he kept asking she would keep answering.

He looked to take after her much more than her late husband. In some ways she regretted that. In others… she hoped he was more her than the Baron. She pushed the thought away. Gods, she missed him. All what he had done while ill… not so much.

“Ma’mer?”

She snapped out of it. “That’s where they are going to build a trawler,” she continued. “A big ship that will catch a lot of fish with a net. Shall we go see where the trawler will be?”

He smiled and laughed. Whatever he understood, it cheered him more than anything else could cheer others.

“Then let us descend, my son.”

With her son in arms, Nemissa would walk out of her castle and see the changes of her lands.

The next day, they would thank the dragon for it.

“It appears that my shoes are missing.”

Shui rubbed his eyes. “Not just you, buddy. Mine aren’t here either. What the hell.” He was too tired for the absurdity to hit him yet.

Kun searched their room for any pairs of their shoes, still quiet as to not wake up Jin. Ling was nowhere to be seen.

“I bet it was the kid.”

“My, aren’t you quick to accuse,” Kun teased.

Shui rolled his eyes, rising to his feet. “Well he’s not here.”

Jin grumbled. Both of them quietened. Shui gestured that he would check for Ling. Kun nodded. Shui left his friend alone with the non-early bird and tracked down Ling. It didn’t take long to find him, he was outside with the dragon.

“Where are our shoes?” he asked Ling without any preamble. Ling glared back at him, then pointed at the dragon. “Why did you give the dragon our shoes?”

“I didn’t!” Ling scowled. “I woke up and they were gone!”

“Then why are you blaming the dragon?”

“Because I saw it eat them!”

Shui and Ling stared at each other for a few moments. Then they both looked at the dragon. Shui sighed. “You’re serious.”

Ling nodded.

“I’ll get Kun.”

Missing Persons

“How can I help you?” Jay asked, opening the door for his latest client. The girl who entered looked familiar, with her rodential features. Jay searched his mind for the correct moment. Ah, the reason it took him so long was because of how dark it had been when he had met her, how dark it was when he went to see her the second time. “Vlora, wasn’t it?”

She appeared taken aback, flushing slightly under the thin coat of hair that covered her cheeks. “Y-yes.”

“Come in and sit down. I’m afraid my assistant isn’t here right now, so I will have to leave for a moment to prepare the tea myself. Would you like tea? Or coffee?”

Vlora took a few steps in, looking from his face to her feet on the floor. “Actually… just water right now, if that’s all right.”

“Water? Of course. I’ll be just a moment.” He returned with her water, seeing that she had set herself in the correct place, though she seemed uncomfortable with it. “Here you are. Now, how can I help you, Vlora?”

She held the glass with both of her hands, trying not to chew at her lower lip. “I-I don’t got much to pay with, but…”

Jay waved that off. “Tell me what the case is, Vlora. We can talk about that after.”

Vlora nodded, a few too many times than she should have. “My sis’s gone missing. People say she’s left the city like she’d always say she wanted to do, but I don’t think so. I think she’s kidnapped.”

Jay sat down across from her. “One moment. I do need to call my assistant in for this.”

She swallowed. “Is… is there something wrong?”

Jay shook his head. “Well, your sister is missing. But I’m taking the case, so I’d like him to be here.”

If there was one thing Jay wouldn’t turn down, it was a missing persons case.

The Professor

When the substitute walked into the room, the students felt a variety of different emotions.

First of all, they knew the substitute. Today was going to be a relaxed day. She would still lecture and expect them to take notes, but there would be no impromptu quizzes, no homework. Discussion and lecturing. This was what the substitute would give them today.

Relief. The professor was a very strict man. He expected complete attention. He handed out homework on regular intervals and had a no nonsense attitude towards life, not simply the subject he taught. A break from him was always needed. There was no student who didn’t feel tired after his class, whether they liked him or not.

Discomfort. The professor would expect something of them that the substitute would not prepare them for. Even though she would go through all his notes and cover absolutely everything he had on the docket for the day, it wouldn’t be enough. She could say something clearly, more clearly than the professor, and cover more ground than him, yet for some reason she never could drill it the same depths in their brain as the professor. For some reason.

Worry. The professor had been sick on only a handful of occasions. It was only ever for something very bad. The man never suffered from minor illnesses. At least, none that would keep him from teaching his class.

The substitute taught and the student struggled between their varied emotions, preparing for the professor’s return.

If he returned.

Real world solutions

“Three million.”

She looked up from her tablet, over the rims of her glasses. “I believe the meeting is over.” Her voice wasn’t sweet. It was matter-of-fact. She had spent a lot of time training her voice to be normal for humans.

“I got permission to offer three, instead of two point eight.”

Placing the tablet on her lap, she took off her glasses, folding them and putting them in her pocket. “The meeting is over. The offer for that transaction is rescinded.” Putting her hands on her wheels, she pulled herself back from the table.

The human was staring at her fin. Of course. Then again, she didn’t hide it. That would be pointless. She hated having it, but not every story was a Disney’s Little Mermaid solution. Some people had to learn how to survive on the surface without magically sprouting legs.

“Tell your boss that the next time this project will be offered, it will be for four million. No less. The meeting is over.”

The mermaid rolled away.

Consent

Beauty is a thing of
love
and there is nothing you can say to
convince me to
kill the notion that it has nothing to do with
artificial countenance.
Needless to say, when that shell is
disturbed and the
blood inside rises to the top,
life is
ugly no matter the previous image, unless
everyone agreed to the bruise in the first place.

to stop and stare

If there was something Deston had gotten used to, it was all of the stares.

When he was a stranger, they never happened. The new towns, cities, trade caravans… they didn’t look at him twice. At least, not until he had acted or something else had drawn attention to him. Only in the places that he stayed at for extended periods of time did this occur. The people who would look at him, try to confront him, try to be friendly, but all the while unnerved by something about him. Deston wasn’t sure what. He didn’t remember that being the case in his youth, but he had been a very different person in his youth.

It wasn’t the fact he didn’t say anything. At least, Deston didn’t think that had anything to do with it. That seemed to bother the people he’d been closer to before, like his sister. Or Shields. Then again, the two of them could talk like nothing. Deston didn’t remember Shields having been this talkative when they were younger.

Then there was Roland. “Morning, Deston. How are things?”

Deston nodded and Roland smiled in return. It had to have started with guesswork, but Roland had determined Deston’s general responses fast. Then again, Roland was the only one who didn’t seem to expect that he would be the same.

“Mom wanted me to ask if you and Temp would come over for dinner. What do you think?”

Deston thought that Temperance would be ecstatic. He nodded.

Roland clapped a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll let her know then. I have to go help Shields with a delivery, but I’ll see you tonight.”

Deston placed his hand on Roland’s wrist for a moment, with a final nod. He watched Roland leave, everyone greeting him as he passed.

After watching Roland until he was out of sight, Deston went to let Temperance know of their new dinner plans.

Time and Energy

Jin looked at the stairs that led up to the pinnacle of the temple and decided he didn’t want to climb them. It would take too long and too much endurance, when both time and energy weren’t things he wanted to spare.

“How fast could you get to the top?” he asked the dragon.

What Jin had been thinking was nothing like the dragon offered, as he watched the larger form lower to the ground beside him. It wasn’t the first time any of them had ridden the dragon, but without Kun… Jin didn’t recall there being an offer without Kun around. The dragon had a preference and all of them knew it.

Jin grunted. “Just between you and me.” That said, he climbed up on the dragon and made it up the mountainside in record time.

After the first case

“Hello there! Jay, was it?”

Jay paused, a moment before entering his office. There was that strange man, who had somehow managed to crack open the case of the Monsoon Pendant with what had appeared like sheer luck. It had been been obnoxious and a great relief. Sometimes, in the path of being a private eye, taking luck where it came was the best thing to do. However, putting certain common sense on the wayside was a bit grating.

“Robin. I’m surprised to see you here.”

“Are you? I know I am! I was surprised that when I looked around, I found your office not all that far away from where my apartment is! What were the chances?”

Jay looked over at the nearest residency complex. “People live there, so it only makes sense that I would meet one of them on a case at some point.”

“That’s true!” Robin had an everlasting energy that Jay wasn’t sure made him tired or made him want to get moving. “Doing anything interesting now? Or is that classified? Everyone works a different way-”

“I simply have some paperwork I need to get to. It was nice to see you again, Robin, but I must finish up some organization.”

Robin probably had more to say, but Jay made his way inside before the other man could speak. He had the feeling he would be seeing him again.

Whether he wanted to or not.