Broken Time 1:
by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file
A spray of water, the roar of waves and the raucous calls of seabirds were the first things Razor noticed as he became aware of his surroundings. He could feel hard rock underneath him, which suggested that he was lying near on a rock promontory near the ocean. That didn't make much sense since the last thing he remembered before T-Bone shot the PastMaster's device was fighting the little troll in the badlands east of MegaKat City.
The device had exploded from the damage, which left him with a aching head and a bad feeling he wasn't in the twenty-first century anymore.
He groaned and pushed himself up, trying to take a mental and physical inventory of himself and his surroundings as he did so.
His own inventory seemed reasonably good, nothing seemed to be broken or otherwise not working. Looking around he noted that he was indeed on a rock cliff overlooking the ocean, and the water he'd felt was ocean spray from the waves crashing against the base of the cliff. He was rather wet, and gathering from his surroundings it had rained just recently. About fifty yards away the grass and stone of the cliff edge gave way to temperate forest, and rising above the tree tops he could see smoke plumes.
What troubled him was the distinct lack of his partner. In sight or in sensor range. Sensors that also informed him that he couldn't connect to any of the satellites he normally could.
"Not good," Razor muttered to himself and looked around one more time before mentally marking the relative location of the smoke plumes and began to head that way, careful to avoid the larger trails so he wouldn't be seen before he had a chance to figure out who was looking.
It wasn't long before he spotted a team of four horses pulling a wagon loaded with fresh produce along a packed dirt road headed away from the smoke plumes. The team of horses was being driven by a large brown and black striped burly tom nearly as big Commander Feral. Sitting next to him was a smaller grey and white tom who was still pretty muscular, though it looked to be from hard work, not from hours in the gym. Both wore clothes of rough brown cloth, with wide leather belts and wide brimmed cloth hats.
"Definitely not in MegaKat city anymore," he muttered quietly and tried to think if anything like this still existed when technology did. A vague memory brought up a few small groups, usually far away from anywhere he'd want to be.
The reality was that he was almost certainly back in time. PastMaster did send you places, he sent you to when's of the place you were at. So at some point this was near MegaKat City's valley. It wasn't a comforting thought without the jet or his partner around.
He sighed and made quick work of removing his helmet and mask. By the time this level of commerce got going, anyone with a mask on would be assumed to be a highwaykat. Towards the smoke plumes was likely a farm, a place he could get local clothes and if he was *very* lucky, maybe some information. It was probably better than showing up in a town dressed like he was after all.
As he got closer he could see that the farm was a fairly large one as low tech farms went, and it appeared to handle livestock as well as the products of the large fields Jake could see far across the central square of the farm. The two largest buildings were a large stone building that was probably the homestead and a large wood and stone building that likely housed the horses and livestock. Smaller buildings ringed the square, and from the sound of the hammer on metal, one of them was a smithy. Kats of various sizes and colors could be see working, along with an assortment of kits either doing chores or too small for chores and just playing.
"So much for the kind of farm I was hoping for," he murmured and carefully worked close enough to listen in, praying to every god he could think of that the language was close enough to his to understand. At first it was anything but, unlike anything he'd ever heard before, but as he listened it became more and more clear until he could understand it. Something like it was like tuning in a distant radio station and pinning down the frequency so that most of the static went away.
It was quite possibly one of the most unsettling experiences he'd had in a long time. Magic, it all but had to be magic, used *on* him was something new. It may be the result he wanted, but not know who or why it was being done wasn't something he liked at all.
Still, at least he got some useful information. 'Here' was the Island of Mordesha, which put it *solidly* into the 'never heard of it' category. He had a serious hike to get to the closest thing that they called a town, a port named Keshia that the wagon had headed for.
Magic was common and respected enough that magi could come to a place and have their pick of those there, given the amount of grousing mixed with the pride of having the blacksmith's journeyman leave at harvest time.
What was best is that he also found where the laundry was hanging to dry, unattended and well away from the main buildings no less. He felt a little bad about stealing a set of the simple clothes, big enough to wear over his uniform, a course napsack for his helmet and a couple apples in case he couldn't catch something for dinner, but everything about this 'farm' unsettled him.
He felt a deep shudder pass down his frame as he slipped back into the woods to follow the road, though he stayed off of it for some distance, not the least bit eager to be spotted by a local as he made his way to the town.
The pair of hunters had been following the talton's ermine for a good half day. Normally, the pair wouldn't spend so much time on one creature but the elusive mustelid was worth an impressive sum of gold if they could catch it. As they passed a large oak tree where they'd last seen the creature, the Dire Wolf male put up one hand causing his black and white tom partner to stop and look where his partner's other hand was pointing.
(A fire,) the tom mouthed silently, as he bent to examine the recently extinguished blaze. (Recent)
The wolf nodded agreement and sniffed deeply, letting his sense of smell take over, carefully ignoring the smells of himself, his partner and ermine that had passed through recently. It wasn't anyone he recognized, though he could place the male feline as smelling *very* unusual. Even more so when he followed a small breeze and looked up to catch the tip of a light brown tail hanging down from a large branch well above reach.
(Up there,) He motioned to his partner.
The black and white tom gave it some thought and then decided to see if the stranger wanted to be sociable. After all, they hadn't been pounced on and neither of them had heard the distinct sounds of a bow or crossbow being drawn back. "I say, hello up there." He shouted in the direction of the tail.
The pair glanced at each other in a mixture of amusement and curiosity when the tail vanished with the scramble and falling leaves of someone being startled out of a sound sleep and scared half to death by the fact.
"Hello," a lean cinnamon-brown face with huge amber eyes poked out of the foliage to look at them with something between a glare and respect that they'd managed to sneak up on him.
"So sorry to wake you." The black and white tom said politely. "I'd rather been hoping you were awake, and had seen which way the talton's ermine went." He smiled, as his larger partner watched silently but alert for danger. "You're not from around these parts, are you?" He said, quite confidently. After all, he and his partner knew everyone who frequented these woods on a regular or even semi-regular basis.
"No," the stranger admitted warily. "Just passing threw."
"That makes sense." The tom nodded, though it really didn't. The nearest road connect a handful of farmholds to the nearest port, so it was unlikely someone was really 'just passing through'. "So which Island are you from?" He asked conversationally, and knew instantly he'd hit on something. There was way too much hesitation before the tom answered.
"None, really." He admitted. "I go where the winds take me."
"Well, if you don't want to say I've got no problem with that." The tom said easily. "But even Zephyrs are from somewhere originally." He said, wondering what the stranger was hiding. Then it occurred to him that the stranger might be from the strange lands at the very edge of the Sea of Abalon. There were rumors of people settling there, but mostly of the unsavory sorts.
"MegaKat City," he finally shrugged and settled back, sort of in view on the thick branch he'd been sleeping on. "If you've heard of it, I'll be surprised."
"Nope, can't say I have." The tom shook his head. He was familiar with all of the cities on the Islands, at least by name, and that one he'd never heard of. That again made him suspect the edgelands were involved. "So, what brings you to this little Island? Hunting or trading?" He asked, going with the two reasons that brought most of the few visitors that the Island saw. He and his partner were trappers by trade, specializing in live game for very wealthy clients.
"Accident," he shrugged. "Magic doesn't always go as planned when others get involved."
"That's true enough." The hunter nodded. "So, the Magi who dumped you coming after you, or she leaving you to find your own way back home?" He asked curiously, knowing that a good share of the Magi had no qualms about leaving their warriors to find their own way across the Islands.
"He'd be ecstatic if I never did get back," he snorted. "He's not about to get that lucky."
"Got on his bad side, huh?" The Wolf chuckled quietly. "Well, you'll probably want to get to one of the larger islands if you're going to get back. Not many ships come here, not counting the occasional rich folk hunting party."
"I'll keep that in mind." He nodded slightly.
"This way, Garuth." The black and white tom as he spotted some distinctive fur caught on the low-lying brush and took off through the undergrowth.
"Sorry to wake and run, but we've got an ermine to catch." The Dire Wolf apologized as he crashed through the underbrush after his partner.
Jake sighed as the strange pair got out of earshot, cursing himself silently at drifting so deeply asleep so quickly. It wasn't even midnight yet. He glared up at the sky, filled with more stars than he'd seen since the trip to the Dark Ages. That was another moment in time he'd have rather managed to avoid.
The only good part of that had been Queen Callista. She was very much like a touch of home, a reminder of Callie, until she got *way* more direct than Callie had even considered. He still wasn't all that sure about that night, whether he had really agreed or not. Just the doubt he still had was the really unnerving part. It even affected his reactions to Callie for the worse.
He shook his head, trying to clear it of those thoughts and dropped to the forest floor. He was awake, he might as well get moving again.
Jake wrinkled his nose at the smells of a port town that still had a serious fishing industry going and medieval sanitation. It was enough to make him glad he had little on his stomach, though he knew he'd have to fix that soon enough. Even with local clothes he knew he stood out. He didn't walk quite right, his eyes and ears were everywhere, his body language too tense as he explored the streets and listened to the locals haggle for goods. It was all in coin too; copper, silver, gold.
The signs were written too, enough of the population was literate to make picture-only signs obsolete.
Of course, the primitive conditions also meant that he had better odds of getting a meal and place to sleep without any money that he would have in post-industrial locations. He may not have the raw strength and mass Chance did, but he was strong and fit, quite capable of menial labor when it came right down to it. It was better than a homeless shelter, assuming such a thing existed yet, and definitely better than sleeping in the open again and stealing his meals while he worked out how to use this system to get what he wanted: to that island that had the university.
The bright flash of steel caught his eye as he passed the blacksmith's shop. When he turned to look he realized that the flash had been sunlight reflected off the bright steel surface of a sword that the owner, a grey and white tabby tom, and a finely dressed Dalmatian Kantin were haggling over.
"Fifteen silversteel, for you'll find no finer work in the Southron Reaches." The blacksmith said firmly.
"Eight and I'll refrain from telling everyone what a thief you are." She said, beginning to haggle in the style the locals seemed to prefer.
It was enough to get him to pause and watch from across the street, an instinctive eye taking in the weapon for quality of material and workmanship and the bitch for how much combat training she had.
"You wound me, Milady." The blacksmith protested. "This weapon meets the standards for truesteel set by Cirdanos himself. Anything less than 13 would insult the weapon." He countered as he handed her the blade so she could test the balance.
"Your workmanship is more true than your prices, thankfully." She shook her head as she swung the sword experimentally testing the balance. It was clear that she was no stranger to swords, and that the weapon was probably crafted for her judging from the way it seemed just right, neither so heavy as to require extra effort or so light as to fly around. "And ten would be a truer price."
"Milady clearly knows swords better than she knows merchant trade." He objected watching the ease with which she handled the blade. It was clear that the rumors of her being a swordmaster had more than some truth to them. "But the sword favors the Lady, so I will go so low as eleven."
"You are a scoundrel, but the work is excellent." She smiled. "Eleven is acceptable, assuming you have a decent scabbard for it."
"But of course, Milady." The tom said as he handed her a scabbard of dark red leather matching her vest that appeared to have a number of engravings. "Acceptable?"
"Wyvern hide." She nodded. "Very nice, and quite acceptable." The bitch nodded, as she sheathed the sword and then slipped the scabbard into a waiting loop on her belt. "Eleven silversteel as agreed." She finished as she counted out mirror bright coins into his waiting hand.
The interesting part over Jake moved on, searching out a place to sleep and get a meal he might be able to trade his labor for. He'd have too much time around this town as it was to worry about anything but the basics. *Then* he could start working on where he was and how to get home.
The inn that Jake found first seemed a little 'pricey' for his current finances, as the clientele seemed to be more well-to-do townfolk and visitors. Some further searching revealed a less imposing place that seemed to double as a tavern for those more likely to spend silver than gold. The sign proclaiming it 'The Dancing Griffin' was probably quite magnificent when it was originally painted, but now it was worn by long years in the sun and rain. The clientele Jake could see through the door was mostly Kats, a mix of farmers and lower class townfolk along with a number of more shady looking types.
It was the kind of place he'd normally have avoided, Chance would have fit right in, and was at least a place to start. He gave another look around and walked in, making a fairly direct line for the large matronly marmalade shekat that had the bearing of being in charge.
"Girl, try to get the food to them before its cold." The matron sternly directed a young looking brown and white shekat who obediently moved with more dispatch while being careful not to drop the heavy tray she was carrying.
"Hello, ma'am." Jake said as she turned her attention on him.
"And what can I do for you, young warrior?" She said politely, looking him over with eye long-practiced in telling who was going to be real trouble and who wouldn't. "A room, hot meal, bath perhaps?" She suggested helpfully.
"Right now, I need work to pay for them." He admitted. "Doesn't need to be as a warrior," he added, "just legal."
"Well, I just happen to have some work that needs doing." She said easily. "Can you handle a hammer and nails?" She asked thinking this might be a quicker and cheaper way than waiting for the carpenter's apprentice to get to the job.
"Well enough," he nodded, sure that nothing *here* would be past the skills developed keeping the Yard's buildings habitable. He wasn't a crafter or professional carpenter by any stretch, but he was good enough at fixing just about anything. "With paint, I can make that sign look good as new too."
"Then I got a job you can do." She nodded. "That storm a few days ago took some boards off my roof, and I need somebody to put them back on. Carpenter's got more work than he's got apprentices with the storm damage and I'd rather not wait. It's worth a few days food and lodging if you do it, maybe a few coins if you do a real good job." She offered. "Want it?"
"Yes," he agreed easily. It was a good deal as far as he was concerned, likely for them both. "Do you have the supplies needed for the repair?"
"They're in the shed." She nodded, pulled out a ring of keys, removed one and handed it to him. "Ladder is in there too."
"Yes, ma'am." Jake nodded and accepted the key. "Shed's out back?"
"Yes, just remember to lock it when you're not in it." She said firmly. "What's your name, warrior?" She asked, as an afterthought.
"Jake," he nodded in understanding and headed for a back door just visible beyond the bustle of the kitchen.
"Come see me when the job's done." She instructed, before turning to instruct another of the serving girls.
Whatever storm had come through had been a fairly big one, Jake concluded as he worked on nailing the boards back in place. About half the roof boards had been ripped clean off and had to be replaced. The matronly shekat who ran the place clearly wasn't hurting for money as the nails and the boards were good quality for this era.
"Jake!" A young female voice called from the ground. "Mother says you should come down and eat something." She added, as though the fact that 'Mother' said it made it beyond questioning. Which around here, likely was true.
"Thanks!" He called back and glanced over the edge of the two-story building towards the petite light brown shekat in wearing a serving girl outfit that was decidedly more modest than most he'd seen here. "Down in a sec." He added and made an easy, and slightly showy, leap to the ground with the powerful grace he usually reserved for Razor.
"My brothers all did that when they were younger." She smiled warmly, and handed Jake a woven basket that had clearly seen better days. "Mother doesn't want you fainting from hunger and falling off the roof. It's a good solid working lunch." She said simply, trying to look Jake over appraisingly without letting him see that she was doing just that. Like most teenagers, she wasn't all that good at that level of subtlety.
Of course, neither was Jake when he was interested in someone.
"Thank her for me," he smiled, surprised at how easy it was to talk when there was no chance at a romantic interest being involved ... or his boisterous partner around. "I should be done with it all by dusk if there aren't any surprises."
"Mother will be pleased." She said with a smile. "She was worried that it might rain again before the carpenter's apprentice had a chance to repair it." She explained. "You're not from around here, are you?" She asked curiously.
"No," he admitted, knowing it was useless to try to deny it. "Thank you for bringing a meal, but I should get back up there." He tried to excuse himself and stepped back towards the ladder. He *could* make the jump up, but without knowing what was in the basket or the strength of the roof, he wasn't going to risk a hard landing.
"Of course, Jake." She smiled, with noticeably more warmth than was required. "I'll see you later." She said politely before going back inside, figuring that there would be more opportunities to talk then when he wasn't focused on something else.
Jake wiped his hands on his rough trousers after he'd put everything away and locked the shed up again just before dusk. He was sweating more than he usually did on the obstacle course, but then he had just worked hard for the better part of eight hours. The roof was as well-repaired as his skills and supplies permitted, which wasn't bad in his opinion. Not skilled carpentry, but likely as good as an apprentice would have managed and it would hold for years.
"Ah, I was wondering when you'd come in." Mother said as she spotted him coming in through the back door. "How close are you to finishing?" She asked, realizing that it might take a little more than a day for someone who wasn't a carpenter by trade, which she was sure Jake wasn't.
"Just finished, ma'am." He said politely. "Thank you for sending lunch out as well."
"And here I thought you were just bragging to Tyrella earlier." She smiled approvingly. "And you're just in time for supper. Would you rather eat back here where it's quieter, or out in the main room with the guests?"
"Back here is good, ma'am." Jake chose easily. He might get more information out there, but he was tired and a bit sore and really didn't want much more than to eat, get a hot shower ... bath ... and *sleep*.
"I'm not surprised." She smiled knowingly. "You sit down here, and I'll have one of the girls bring you dinner." She said as she guided him to a small room off the kitchen. "And then I imagine you'll want a good hot bath before bed."
"It would be very welcome," he smiled warmly and sat, not fighting the guidance at all right now and not worrying about that part of his brain that was screaming 'don't trust anyone'.
"I'll have Tyler draw you a bath, once you're done eating." She said with warm, maternal smile as she turned to leave. "One of the girls will bring your dinner shortly."
A few minutes later, the serving girl who'd brought Jake his lunch came in carrying a tray with a plate that contained more of the thick hearty bread and a well-seasoned meat stew. There was also a piece of fresh fruit, something orange that Jake didn't recognize but smelled sweet and citrusy. "Mother forgot to ask, did you want water, beer or mead?" She asked politely. "The mead is quite good." She suggested helpfully.
"I'll try the mead," he chuckled slightly and smiled as she set the tray down. "Thank you."
"I'll be right back." She smiled brightly, as she ducked out of the room and was back shortly with a large stoneware mug. "Here you go, Jake. And just stick your head out and let somebody know when you're almost done so they can have Tyler set up your bath for you."
"I will," he nodded. "What is Mother's name?"
"Everyone around here calls her Mother Abby." Tyrella said easily. "Except for those of us who are actually her kits."
Jake nodded and went to work on the meat stew, hungry and grateful that this place wasn't into spices as much as Megalith City.
"So, where are you from?" She asked, after a quiet pause. "If you don't mind my asking."
"Called MegaKat City," he said softly between bites. "I doubt it's anywhere that's known here."
"Well, I can't say I've heard of it. But then I've never been off this Island." She admitted. "The cartographer might know though, he knows all sorts of far off places."
"That's one of the shops I'd planned on visiting tomorrow," he nodded. "That and the docks, see what it'll take to get passage to the university."
"Oh, that's expensive." Tyrella said easily. "Sandbourne University is all the way over in Westmark, that's weeks away." She added helpfully. "So you're going to become a scholar?" She asked curiously.
"I don't have to make it in one trip." He said quietly and took a long drink of the mead. "Trying to get home, actually. They're probably the only place that has a shot at knowing where I should head."
"You don't know how to get home?" She asked, startled and a little confused how one could get somewhere and not know how to get back. "Well, they would be the ones to know. Well, either them or the Academy."
"On the same island?" He glanced at her.
"No, the Academy is located on the Isle of Syndri, near the Spire of Abalon." She shook her head. "It's where the Magi who are too impatient to learn from a single Master go to study."
"Which is closer?" He focused a little more on her now that she was giving useful information.
"I think the Academy is, but I'm not sure exactly." She admitted. "Both are far away, but either one of the ship captains or the cartographer would have better idea of which is closer. I think the cartographer has actually visited both places."
"I'll be asking them," he nodded easily.
"I hope you find what you're looking for." She said encouragingly. "I can't imagine not knowing how to get home." She added sympathetically.
"I'm half used to it," he admitted as he sopped up the last of the stew with the hearty bread. "It's still frustrating, but I always get back eventually."
"That's good." She nodded. "Did you want me to have Tyler start running your bath now?" She asked, thinking he looked close to done.
"Yes, please." He nodded. "Your cook is very good."
"Myra will be pleased to hear that." Tyrella smiled as she turned to leave. "I'll let Tyler know."
Jake nodded and concentrated on what was left of his meal, enjoying it despite the ache in his body and unease about the unfamiliar surroundings. About the time he had finished, a dark brown tom around sixteen or so appeared at the door. "Your bath is ready." He said very politely.
"Thank you," Jake nodded and stood. "What should I do with the tray?"
"Just leave it here." Tyler said easily. "Someone will take care of it. If you'll follow me, I'll show you where the bath and your room are."
"Thank you," he nodded and easily followed the youth along the back hallway to a warm room containing a large iron tub. The tub showed no sign of rust, and had blue and red crystals set into it along the edge and at each end. Sitting on a table nearby was a pile of clean fluffy towels that seemed almost out of place with the times and several brushes to work his fur smooth once he was dry.
"Did you want your clothes cleaned while you bathed?" Tyler asked politely.
"Yes, please." Jake relished the idea of having clean things to wear after several days, even if they were rough. He set his small pack down, his SWAT Kat costume carefully concealed inside. He finished pulling the shirt off when he realized that the teen was still in the room. Despite his best effort not to react, he knew his discomfort was clear in his body language.
"Just set your clothes outside the door." Tyler said easily, as he picked up on Jake's discomfort, and stepped outside closing the door behind him. Once in a while a guest was uncomfortable with him, and he knew his job well enough to know that meant that he should wait outside. The good thing was that the uncomfortable customers never wanted extras with their bath.
Jake let out a small breath and quickly finished stripping, opened the door enough to put the clothing outside after a moment of hesitation about loosing them, then quickly shut the door again. He could smell the heat of the water, and it was a call to give in for at least a few minutes of bliss in its depth.
The water was hot, hot enough to soothe sore muscles and relax the rest of the body and he sank into with a groan of pleasure. There was a ceramic jar on a small end table next to the tub labeled 'Fur Wash', which smelled strongly of herbs and flowers and something Jake wasn't quite sure of, but was probably the local soap.
He stayed in the luxurious heat for several minutes, then sank under it to wet the last of his fur and reached for the fur wash to pour some onto his palm and lather it, pleased that it seemed to work at least close to what he was used to. He happily took his time, giving his entire body a good scrubbing, then an even more complete rinse in the still hot water.
"Gods, I've missed being clean," he murmured with a throaty groan and sank under the water again, enjoying the heat after four days in the chilly air.
Despite it, he couldn't shake a lifetime of training and soon pulled himself out of the still-steaming water and brushed the worst from his fur before stepping out to pick up one town and laid it out to stand on while he went to work on drying himself with another. It wasn't quite as good as going home after a few days in the field, but it did feel good.
His eyes flicked towards the door when his eyes caught a ghost of a sound and smiled to see his clothes on a shelf by the door. It was enough to speed his drying off and smoothing his fur with the brushes provided, then dressed and grabbed his pack before stepping outside again.
"Was everything to your liking?" Tyler asked politely, as Jake stepped into the hall.
"Yes," he nodded easily, clearly pleased and physically relaxed.
"Would you like to see your room now?"
"Yes, please." Jake said agreeably, looking forward to a good rest in a relatively safe location.
"This way." The teen replied, leading the way upstairs to a room at the end of the hallway. The room contained a bed with what looked to be reasonably warm blankets, a pillow and what appeared to be a reasonably well-stuffed mattress. A small chest sat at the end of the bed, and there were hooks on the wall, apparently for hanging clothes. "It's not the fanciest room." He said, quietly apologetic. "But it's comfortable. The oil lamp is full, just turn the handle to light it if you need light."
"Thank you," Jake nodded as he took in the space and smiled at the teen. "It's quite good enough for me."
"I'm glad you like it." Tyler said with an honest smile. He was half expecting Jake to ask if he was available for the evening like a lot of the single male guests did, though he wasn't going to be surprised if the lean tom didn't. This one didn't seem to be inclined towards company of any kind. "Was there anything else you require?" He asked politely, leaving the usual opening for unusual requests.
"No," he shook his head slightly, noting the single small window and it's closed shutters with interior latches as he calculated the escape and entrance paths of the room while he set his pack down by the bed. "I'll be down for breakfast when I wake up."
"See you in the morning then." Tyler nodded, and backed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Jake sighed softly and stripped the course shirt off. As much as he wanted to strip completely, to be in his underwear for the night, it just wasn't safe yet. Still, the bed was nicer than his at home and the blankets were exquisitely warm as he snuggled under them and curled up, wanting nothing more than to be warm in this soft cocoon and undisturbed for enough hours to call it a good night's sleep.
Jake woke to the sound of his own purr, the warmth all around him a luxuriant comfort that held him in bed for nearly twenty minutes before his need to be active won out over the pleasure of where he was and he got up, pulled on his rough shirt on and made the bed with his habitual perfection. He was sure he could hear activity downstairs, likely the staff given it was not long after dawn.
He put his pack under the bed in a place he could grab it quickly but it was concealed and headed downstairs.
The activity was indeed the staff, bustling about with various morning chores as Mother supervised everything with startling efficiency. Both Tyrella and Tyler greeted him with a quick 'Morning Jake' as they went about their duties.
"You're up early." Mother observed as she noticed Jake. "Not many guests who rise before breakfast is almost ready. Did you sleep well?" She asked with an almost motherly concern that perhaps he was up because he couldn't sleep.
"Very well," his smile was clear that he was probably understating things a bit. "I'm normally up a few hours after I go to bed. This is sleeping in."
"Another one like my late husband." She chuckled. "Well, I'm glad to hear you slept well, and you do look better for it. Sammy should have the fire in the common room going by now if you want to go relax in there until breakfast is ready." She said, with 'and stay out of the way' left unsaid, it was rather startlingly like listening to Commander Feral tell civilians to stay out of the way.
Though she was much easier to take it from.
"I will, Mother Abby," he nodded and easily disappeared into the common room to find a nice spot near the roaring fire to watch everyone come and go and enjoy the lazy start to the day.
After a while, the smells of breakfast began to waft through inn. Cooking meat and bread along with some fruit scents made for a tantalizing aroma that began to draw other guests downstairs and a rumble from Jake's stomach. The first was a colorfully dressed Red Fox Kantin who wasn't much taller than Jake. The almost garish colors of his clothes were a contrast to the earth tones favored by most that Jake had seen so far, but they were clearly of a more expensive cut and cloth.
"Good morning." He said cheerfully, as he sat down across from Jake near the fire. "Nothing like a warm fire on a chilly autumn morning." He observed conversationally.
"Very true," he nodded and assessed the Fox. "Especially after the warmth of a good bed."
"Makes morning much easier." The Fox chuckled lightly, as he considered the lean tom opposite him. The Fox was lanky like many of his breed but there appeared to be muscle on him as well. Something about him didn't seem like a warrior, save perhaps by the necessity of the times. "Though the breakfast here makes morning quite pleasant." He grinned.
"If it's anything like dinner, it will be most welcome." Jake nodded.
"Better, at least I think so." The Fox smiled easily. "There's something about warm bread just out of the oven that just makes everything better." He said lazily. "Oh, where are my manners?" He chuckled. "I'm Eustasious Windtalker, traveling minstrel and scholar." He said with a polite nod.
"Jake Clawson," he returned the introduction. "Jack-of-all-trades for the most part."
"A very useful skill for traveling cheaply." The Fox nodded. "A minstrel is a similarly useful set of skills, as playing for one's supper is a long standing tradition in much of the Isles."
"True," he nodded. "So are you moving on soon, or here for a while?"
"I was just resting for a few days before making a small trip inland to the see the twelfth shrine of Abalon in the Crystal Caves." He said easily. "I'm studying the various myths, legends and theologies of Abalon as the scholarly part of my promotion to Master Bard."
"Sounds like an interesting trip," Jake acknowledged. "Maybe I'll see you on your way back."
"If you're still here in a couple weeks, you probably will." The Fox nodded. "I'll stop here on my way back to the port."
"Well, from what I've gathered, it'll take me a while to pay for passage to the university. Two weeks, I'm sure I'll still be around."
"The University? Yeah, that'll take a while, it's a long trip and jobs on this Island aren't high paying."
"I'm hoping for a shorter hop to somewhere that pays better," Jake chuckled softly. "But it'll still be more than two weeks, most likely. Room and board can eat up a good bit of what you earn anywhere."
"Very true, though I'd avoid the islands of the Eastern Shoals." The Fox cautioned. "The nearest island to this one is the first one in that territory, but the Xantin rulers are not very enlightened."
"How so?" Jake raised an eyebrow and leaned forward.
"They started out as slavers and they still allow the practice, and they aren't always too fussy about who they take." He grumbled. "Slavery as a penalty for crimes is one thing, but the involuntary enslavement of free beings is uncivilized."
"Definitely staying clear of them," Jake shuddered. "I get into enough trouble as is. Tempting fate is not in my plans."
"A very good idea, since they tend to view anyone smaller than themselves as fair game, and since a short Xantin is over six feet tall that's most outsiders." The Fox nodded.
"This one of those 'if you can beat them, you can own them' systems?" He asked curiously.
"Not exactly that simple, but close enough." He nodded. "There's actually a complex set of laws and traditions that regulate it, but its far better just to avoid getting personally involved with it."
"No kidding, but at least it gives me a fighting chance if I end up there," Jake nodded.
"Avoid any of them with manes." He said simply, and then nodded to a male and female lynx who had just entered the room. The pair were wearing fairly plain black and grey tunic and pants with large grey cloaks. "Good morning, Sartha, Martok."
"And a good morning to you, Stasi." The female Lynx said politely. "Perhaps you will introduce us to your companion."
"But of course." The Fox smiled. "Sarth, Martok, this is Jake. Jake, these are Sartha and Martok of Sirocco."
"A pleasure." The female nodded politely, as did the male who remained a step behind her.
Jake smiled and inclined his head in return. "Good to meet you as well."
"Breakfast is about to be served." Tyrella announced politely from the archway that separated the common room from the main dinning area.
"Best news all morning." The Fox grinned broadly as he stood, and headed for the dining area followed by Sartha and then Martok.
Jake was grateful for a full belly and good night's sleep as he worked his way towards the docks where the cartographer kept his shop. It wasn't his favorite kind of work, but it wasn't dangerous and it paid well locally.
For as close to the docks as it was, the shop was in very good repair and the sign appeared to have been done recently. Inside a middle aged female Red Wolf Kantin was behind the counter finishing up a sale of mapping supplies to a burly Labrador Kantin.
"Will there be anything else, Captain Martos?" She asked politely.
"No, my dear." He smiled. "This should be plenty for the expedition, but I'll be wanting to see your mate when I come back."
"I imagine he'll probably meet you at the dock." She smiled, as Martos turned and left.
"Is there something I can help you with?" She asked, noticing Jake.
"Possibly." He nodded. "I'm looking for work. I've got a good eye for detail and steady hand when drawing."
"You'll be wanting to talk with Jareth then." She smiled. "He's the actual cartographer, I just mind the shop when he's busy with a new map. Wait here and I'll see if he can tear himself away for a moment." She grinned and stepped through a door in the back. A few minutes later she came back out. "Looks like you picked a good time. He's just through there." She indicated the door behind her.
"Thank you, ma'am." Jake nodded and followed her directions into the back room. It was fairly good sized with several drawing desks and one large map table in the middle. Books, scrolls and rolled up parchments were everywhere; shelves, tables, desks, but nothing was actually on the floor except for pieces wadded up paper thrown here and there. It reminded Jake a great deal of his own workshop once he overlooked the lack of electronics and machine parts. A wiry golden retriever Kantin was busy examining a set of maps. He looked up as Jake entered, sharp blue eyes measuring up the newcomer. "Thestra says you're looking for work?" He asked brusquely.
"Yes, sir." He nodded, his eyes taking in everything without even thinking about it.
"You didn't ask her about apprenticing, so I'm guessing you're not looking for long-term work, right?" He asked, though it was more statement than question. The large map spread out across the map table might have been a map of the MegaKat City valley, if one filled most of it with water and pushed the surrounding mountains out a ways. The shape was right, and there was even a piece of land roughly where the city should be.
"Long enough to earn enough for passage to the University." He nodded, his voice level and simple.
"A few months at least, as that's no small journey you'll be making." He nodded. "Especially if you plan to have money for your studies when you get there. Have any experience with maps?" He asked simply.
"More with reading them than making them, but I can copy anything." He told the old Kantin with a certainty that wasn't faked. "I have a lot of experience drawing for accuracy."
"You have time now to copy a small one for me, just so I judge for myself?" He asked casually, intrigued by the younger Kat's confidence. Most who made such claims mentioned having worked as a scribe or for an architect or shipwright. "By the way, I'm Jareth Eveningstar, and you are?"
"Jake Clawson, and yes, I have time." He nodded easily.
"Excellent." Jareth nodded, and cleared off one of the drawing tables. He set ink, quills and parchment up on the desk and then pulled a small map that was labeled 'Mordesha' from a pile and handed it to Jake. "We can always use another copy of this one." He smiled. "Tourists. So concentrate on accuracy and appearance, speed is nice but not as critical."
He nodded and sat down, studying the map carefully first to memorize it, then set it on the top edge of the desk. He began with one side of the parchment, dipping the quill in the ink lightly and made a quick sketch of the Enforcer insignia, MegaKat City seal and a few letters to get a feel for the completely unfamiliar tool and paper.
With a satisfied nod he flipped the parchment over to it's good side and began to make short work of a perfect reproduction, only glancing at the original a couple times to check himself.
Jareth discretely watched Jake work, without staring as he knew that some of the best copiers didn't take well to being stared at while working. He continued examining the new maps to determine where they lined up with the existing maps, as Jake worked on the small map of the island.
"I'll get better when I'm used to a quill, but it's serviceable." Jake stood up and carefully handed his copy to the cartographer.
"Quite serviceable." Jareth nodded, impressed by what this Kat substandard work. "What tools are you used to working with?" He asked curiously, as he thought everyone worked with quill and ink except for maybe the Inventors. One could never be quite sure what you'd find them doing, but it would always be unusual and would oft-times explode.
"Pencils and drafters tools," he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "I'm not sure they even exist around here."
"You didn't happen to apprentice with one of the Inventors, did you?" The cartographer asked curiously. It was unheard of for Inventor apprentices to leave before at least making Journeyman.
"No, sir." Jake shook his head. "Back home I was something similar, but that's a long ways away."
"You're not from the Islands, are you?" The older Kantin said, more curious than anything.
"Nope," he shook his head. "Got dropped here by magic. There's no real telling where home is from here yet, other than no one's heard of it."
"Well, I've traveled more than most." Jareth said thoughtfully. "What's it called?"
"MegaKat City." Jake answered quietly. "If that map is even remotely accurate," he motioned to the large one the cartographer had been working on earlier, "then it's not on this world. We've mapped the planet and that is not anywhere."
"Well, that map is definitely real." he said thoughtfully. "But maybe your problem isn't where, but when." He added, as he started looking through piles of books and papers. "I know I've heard that name before, but damned if I can remember where."
"I wouldn't be surprised." He nodded. "Enough time and natural disasters could turn that map into mine. The basics are there."
"Ah, here we are." He said as he pulled a small book out and dusted it off. "The basics of the Time Cycle Prophecies." He grinned. "Never did have the patience to study the full text, but most of the priests don't either. Assuming you believe in such things, the basic premise is that everything that is happening, has happened before and will happen again." He explained, though it was clear that he wasn't entirely sure about it himself.
"That's one of several time-space theories I'm familiar with," Jake nodded. "It's not in favor in my time, but it's still taught to those who are interested in the history of the theories."
"It's a matter of religious doctrine around here." Jareth chuckled. "Which is only important to those who take their religion seriously, or who happen to live in one of the cleric ruled territories. But MegaKat City actually gets mentioned a fair bit in one section. Always found that entertaining 'cause there was something about a ruler spending great fortunes building a tower that is destroyed almost as quickly as he builds it." He said as he skimmed a section of the little book. "I'd let you read it yourself, but the Glamour of Understanding doesn't cover temple script, and I doubt it's in use in your time." He said showing Jake the book.
"Nope, though I have seen something like it before." He cocked his head. "A friend of mine likes to study things from other times."
"As does my mate." Jareth grinned. "She doesn't have the hand for drawing, but she's much better at languages. She's especially good at the ones that nobody has spoken in tens of generations." He chuckled. "Well, assuming you still want the job it's yours. If you don't have a place, you can take the apprentice quarters in the back." He offered, but it was clearly up to Jake. "If you don't, I'll pay you a bit extra to make up for the fact that I don't have to feed you." He added casually.
"I'm staying at The Dancing Griffin right now, and I'll take the job." Jake nodded easily.
"Excellent. Welcome aboard." Jareth smiled and extended his hand. "And good choice, Mother Abby runs a quality place. You can start tomorrow, just be here right after breakfast. We usually take a break around midday for lunch and then work till dusk. Which'll give you plenty of time to get back to the Griffin for dinner." He grinned. "Any questions?"
"How long will it take me to earn enough for passage to the University or the Academy?"
"About a season, maybe a little more. That's for the University. It'd probably be a extra month or more for the Academy, not because it's further away but because you have to go indirectly." He explained. "That assumes you save most of your pay, of course."
"I understand," he nodded seriously, making some quick calculations in his head. "Any recommendations on who to go with?"
"Niles Searider of the Aurora Dawn would be my pick." he said after a bit of thought. "He's trustworthy, and if he's not full up on crew he's willing to let you work for at least part of your passage."
"Thank you." Jake smiled slightly. "I will see you in the morning."
"See you then Jake." Jareth smiled as Jake left, then turned back to the map he was working on.
Though not a large city by modern standards, the port was rather spread out and in the early afternoon Jake was finally getting a good feel for it. Places to run, to hide, where to grab weapons if he needed them, business of interest ... in short the important things to know.
"A warrior dressed as a common farmhand, how very curious." A familiar lilting female voice commented casually from behind Jake, bringing him almost instantly around on heal in a loose, ready posture.
He blinked when he recognized the owner as being the Dalmatian Kantin he'd watched haggle for a sword the day before. She was leaning against a building that Jake had just passed, and he was quite sure there'd been no one there a moment before.
"It's what I've got," he shrugged, though both were aware of the other sizing them up.
"Probably to cover your real garb." She commented. "Warriors of real skill and training are unheard of on this backwater isle, except as visitors. To get good takes training, and there's only one trainer on this island and you're obviously not one of Amarantha's students." She observed. "Which means you either got stranded somehow, or you're hiding from someone."
"Stranded." He said simply. "Though any warrior worth the title knows that experience is worth more than training."
"Both training and experience are necessary, as they are two halves of one whole." She said pragmatically. "But you were stranded by some twist of fate, not by common circumstances." She observed confidently. "You are from somewhere much farther away than mere leagues of the sea."
"What does it matter to you?" Jake abruptly asked, no longer taking this as just a curious local nosing into his life.
"Things happen for a reason." She said simply. "That someone should appear from out of the winds of fate on this island when a Guardian just happens to be present, suggests that something significant has either happened or is about to. I would be lax in my duty to not investigate the matter at least a little."
"Know anything about a undead little troll named PastMaster?" He asked. "He's the why and the how. Whatever I'm supposed to do, I'll probably do while trying to get my tail home."
"Though I have encountered the undead, I have never an undead troll much less one who called himself PastMaster." She shook her head. "And that is a most pretentious title, no one can master the Past or the Future. He invites the universe to prove him wrong." She said confidently. "Tampering with the flow of time is a dangerous thing even for the wise and the just."
"Hardly my concern at the moment." Jake shrugged, put off by the woman even more than by Commander Feral. At least *he* didn't bother with silly lectures. You knew what he wanted and that was that.
"Perhaps not." She said simply, beginning to think that perhaps she had overanalyzed the situation. It seemed unlikely that he would leave the isle all that soon, which left plenty of time to send an acolyte to keep an eye on things, in the unlikely event that he did prove significant. "My apologies for disturbing you. Medrona's blessings to you." She said politely, nodding before turning and walking away.
Jake shook his head a bit and continued his exploration, glad to be rid of the bitch that gave him the creeps. He just hoped she was not someone that he'd have to deal with again.
Broken Time 1: Landing Hard
53 KB, Story is in Progress, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written March 31, 2005 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Todd McCall
Setting: Mordesha, SWAT Kats
Primary Races: Kantin, Kat
Contents: Furry. Gen.
Notes: This is how far we got before Todd decided that Jake wasn't curious enough about the local culture to be worth writing any more.
Blurb: When a victory against the PastMaster goes very wrong, Razor finds himself in a world where magic takes the place of technology and hard labor is still the way of life for most. It does not make him a happy SWAT Kat, or one with much hope of getting home soon.
Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.
Page Hit Count from March 31, 2005