2-02: I Don't Have It With Me...

Itchy gave another miserable mew from inside his cat carrier. Augusta tried to speak soft and comforting words to him, but the battering rain made her rather unconvincing. Biin skipped along gleefully down the street, stopping to splash in the occasional puddle while STEVE! attempted to get under Horatio's dainty umbrella in vain.   "Just a bit further," she said. She was looking at the poor feline, but she spoke loud enough for the rest of them to hear.   "EVEN ON STEVE!'S WORLD DOES IT NOT RAIN SO MUCH," the dwarf grumbled.   "Welcome to the Pacific Northwest," Augusta said. "I'm sorry that the time for your dimensional borrowing ended. I don't suppose you've got some kind of magical solution in the meantime."   "BESIDES A LEFTOVER VILE OF DRAGON FIRE, STEVE! HAS NOTHING. STEVE! STILL MUST RECOVER STEVE!'S ENERGY."   "Subtly is of the essence, my friend," said Horatio. "Don't want to disturb the local fauna now, do we?"   "STEVE! WAS PROMISED SOME KIND OF VEHICLE, PROFESSOR. NOW THAT STEVE!'S BEARD IS THOROUGHLY SOAKED, STEVE! IS NOW MORE THAN TWICE AS INTERESTED. A DWARVEN BATTLE MAGE WALKING DOWN A DARK WET STREET IS RIPE FOR BRAWLING. DON'T WE HAVE OUR MECHANIC NOW?"   "That we do," Horatio winked, smiling and gesturing at Biin who had his arms opened wide, head tossed back, and was drinking the raindrops.   "I thought you said you had a vehicle or ship or something already," Augusta agreed. She gestured at the end of the long line of people shuffling into the shelter. The promise of warmth made even the smell of hot dog water coming out of the same hall inviting. She looked over her companions and frowned. Subtle? Horatio sure had the wrong impression. Even without dragons breath potions, their little entourage was anything but subtle.   "I said I was in the midst of procuring one, yes."   "Well, now that we have Mr. Hejj here as a ...what did you call it?"   "An Orphic-tinker?"   "...orphic-tinker, why don't we start exploring the universes now? I think we'd all vote for a drier one at the moment."   "STEVE! SECONDS THE MOTION."   "I abstain," announced Biin in mid-leap, "on account of I don't know what that is!"   Horatio leaned up casually along the brick wall of the hall and flicked at it with his hand. "I don't have it with me..."   Augusta rolled her eyes. "Alright, Han Solo, where is it then?"   "Horatio," he corrected. "Professor Horatio." He accentuated his title.   Augusta sighed. "You don't have it, do you?"   He crossed his arms defensively. "I'm working on it. 'tis what I mean when I say I am in the middle of procuring it. If I were to have the aforementioned vehicle, I would have said so quite distinctly."   Augusta was about to protest, but realizing that the line had moved rather quickly to get out of the rain and they were up front, she motioned for their relative silence. She prayed in a somewhat nonreligious way that they would behave, and by some same nonreligious miracle, they did. The Salvation Army was on duty tonight at the public hall, handing out cheap but hot food. Augusta preferred this bunch. The alternate church group made the homeless and impoverished meal seekers go through a whole series of prayers and worship songs before handing out cold sandwiches and something that passed for weak soup. The four humanoids gratefully accepted their hot dogs, a bowl of something kind of like chili, and a dry-but-warm chunk of french bread donated by the closest grocery chain when it couldn't be sold at its day-old discount. They found themselves at a corner table where they huddled close together for both warmth and privacy.   Augusta stared at her food in a way that was completely different from the way STEVE! stared at his. She was looking in the direction of her meal while trying to form word in her brain. Meanwhile, STEVE! looked directly at his food trying to form words for how he felt by looking at it.   "STEVE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW THIS UNIVERSE CAN CONSIDER THIS FITTING FOOD FOR A HUNGRY DWARF MAGE. AND THE COMPLETE LACK OF ALCOHOL IS AN INSULT."   Biin, however, was gobbling down his portion with all the care of a pelican unaware of what it had actually scooped in its bill.


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