Genesis Scrolls Round 2: {The Other Shoe}

Name/Pseudonym: {Ticklish}
Contact Info: {https://twitter.com/ticklishart}
Ethereum Wallet Address: {0xB1b3751834646fb999EDd18CA62C69663071cF43
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{The Other Shoe}

Baron Buggery von Cunninghamshire played the lead in the performance that night. It was a classic tragedy, a thorough account of the historical events surrounding the founding of the Order of the Twins. Across five densely-packed acts, the play constructed and deployed a blistering satire on the most notorious sibling of Plutarch Gemini.

Baron had not performed The Terrible And Astonishing Betrayal Of The Sibling Whose Name Need Not Be Mentioned, Prologue: A Pestilent Mouse Is Caught In The Trap Sprung By Herself since college. They were playing the titular Traitor Sibling, a role made famous by their most respected ancestor, the great Horseteeth Bumbo Fellatio. Baron had always been told, and had often repeated to others, that the role was in their blood.

They certainly felt the power of heredity when they had their feet planted firmly on the stage under the signature beehive wig of the Royal House of Gemini. When they drank the poison and made the closing soliloquy of penance, they felt like they had been born to play the Traitor Sibling. It could even be that they were a reincarnation of that lost, tarnished soul. The soliloquy was written in alliterative verse and spanned the entirety of the final act. The speech laid out the core philosophy of the Order of the Twins and the rules by which an adherent should conduct one’s life, deeds and conscience. Baron whispered the closing couplet and felt a terrific lightness, as if the recited prayer of repentance had washed away their own sins. They sank to their knees and, by slumping forward in death, gave their final bow to the audience. There was silence.

The children did not applaud. Those that had remained gave, instead, only a glassy stare. Most of the group at the back were busy being cruel to a chicken. Tambourine, the most junior member of The Esteemed and Wonderful Troupe of Players Touched by the Divinity passed the velvet hat among the children. Few of them cooperated. As the audience drifted away, the hat was passed to Baron, still lying prostrate at the foot of the rickety forestage that folded out from the troupe’s wagon. Baron rose on their knees and inspected the hat. There was nothing in it except half a sausage.

Tambourine tried their best to catch Baron’s eye, but Baron’s eye was not to be caught. They wanted to be alone so they could eat the sausage. Five hours of melodramatic treachery on an empty stomach could make a wretch of the strongest ringmaster. Tambourine wasn’t having it.
“No money!” Tambourine said to Baron’s wig, which was angled towards them, drawing a curtain between the two.
“Tscuh,” Baron tutted, “The requests for private performances will come rushing in. We staged the raciest version of the kidnap scene.”
“They won’t,” snapped Tambourine. “Nobody was paying attention during the kidnapping, or during any of it, Baron.” Baron tipped their beehive up by a degree, revealing to Tambourine a sliver of painted eyelid and a speck of black pupil. “They only wanted Wazzer last time we played this crowd, which was two weeks ago, and only Wazzer again three weeks before that!” Baron hid their eye under the wig again and directed it to gaze once more at the sausage in the hat. A solution of white greasepaint and sweat from Baron’s face had spotted the sausage like bird shit on a windowsill. Wazzer Quimpile Burgermeister was the Troupe’s brightest star, its highest earner, and Baron’s dearest love. Wazzer had left them quite recently and Baron had not yet allowed themself the time to process the enormity of the loss. Tambourine agitated the hat to demonstrate that it did not jangle.
“We’ve bled them dry, Baron. We’re not even playing to adults any more, we’re just babysitting their brats. The whole of Taq-rot-Rut has dried up on us. While we’ve been going around in circles, they’ve seen everything we’ve got. We need to move on.” Baron put the sausage in their mouth without thinking and their wig bobbed at Tambourine as they chewed. Tambourine took the velvet hat before it was filled with white tears and stalked off into the evening to check the snares laid in the woods.

Things had changed so much, so quickly for The Esteemed and Wonderful Troupe of Players Touched by the Divinity. Baron’s heritage aside, it was not a group accustomed to melodrama. The company specialised in breath-taking acrobatics punctuated by short, bawdy skits. Wazzer worked the crowd beautifully as principal player, always light on their feet and sensitive to the mood of the audience. Sometimes they needed sharp jibes and close-up magic, sometimes they needed scatological poems told through Wazzer’s wooden dummy, sometimes they needed a stern and stately compère to play off against the others. The troupe had a deep cache of talents and characters that ran on and off the stage to bedevil and delight Wazzer’s host character with quickfire songs, illusions and burlesco.
With Wazzer as host, and the other players as mischievous servants, Baron played the show’s antagonist. They provided the sizzle, performing stunt after death-defying stunt in opposition or harmony with the antics of the rest. Baron bounced from tightropes to water barrels, from the roof of the wagon to the middle of the audience. They would pirouette straight up into the sky in angel costume, then return to earth in flames dressed as a demon. Wazzer’s instincts directed the thin plot of the shows towards a scenario where Baron was either an uninvited guest at a rich feast, a fickle diplomat who must be pleased, the final judge of the Earth or a demon to be banished, but in every permutation of every show Baron was everywhere, unlimited by space or gravity or the laws of nature. It was a dazzling show, beloved by every audience, and Baron’s flea-like jumps and stunning feats brought the company renown, fame and riches.

But then Baron lost their Trick and the renown, fame and riches disappeared in a poof of smoke.

This Trick was a pair of shoes, comically large, and striped in marvellous enamel colours of azure and mustard. They had been presented to Baron, along with Baron’s True Name and True Face, at their graduation from the College of Players for the Order of the Twins in Opepis. They had been custom-made by the most celebrated artisans of Usilupus to bestow upon the wearer the astounding bounding magic that was Baron’s trademark. When Baron’s mentor bequeathed the travelling stage wagon to them, they founded the troupe and their act became a sensation across ten Realms.

Then came the night two months before the troupe’s staging of The Betrayal. The wagon was parked on a plain of volcanic glass quite close to the treeline of Heaven’s Woods of Fury. The woods were part of an ongoing project by the people of the neighbouring Realms of Taq-roq-Rut and Nuinnuin to restore some part of the black glassy desert of Tattoq. The earliest settlers of the Realm had believed the forest to be a bestower of great gifts, but then had absent-mindedly logged it to nothing. The reforesting project was in its third century and the Heaven’s Woods had grown to be vast and formidable, a deep cloud of conifers and birch floating above the obsidian ground.

It was late at night so Baron was sat on the roof of the wagon reading by candlelight. Baron had learned early in life that they could not sleep after a performance. Over the years they had cultivated the habit of buying paper books of all sorts from every town they toured. When they finished a book they would creep about the town before sunrise and donate them to windowsills, granaries, empty tents and sleeping churches. Baron’s taste in books, like their taste in everything, was omnivorous. The Order of the Twins furnished their adherents with literacy in as many languages they could fit in their heads, so Baron’s only consistent reason for not devouring a book was if it was too heavy or had an unpleasant smell. On that night, the stars were reflected as blurry splotches in the obsidian glass of the plain, and Baron was reading a loose-leafed and very tedious book about demons. Baron had never seen a demon, but was about to.

Most of the troupe were away from the wagon with customers for their post-show duties, but Tambourine had twisted an ankle during the show and was unable to work despite the many requests Baron had fielded for them. So when Baron began screaming about an evil bird, it was Tambourine who sprang to the aid of the ringmaster.
“We have to catch it!” yelled Baron half to Tambourine and half into the darkness, waving their arms about. Their bedclothes were scant and the night was cold. They were barefoot on the glass, which could be razor sharp in places.
“What’s happened?” asked Tambourine, trying to rein in Baron’s arms and navigate them towards as dull a patch of ground as they could see in the dark.
“It’s taken my shoes!” Baron gibbered through clenched teeth. The horror ran down Baron’s arm and entered Tambourine’s body like a jolt of electricity. The livelihood of everyone in the troupe relied on those shoes.
They spent the moonless night running around the Heaven’s Woods of Fury searching for Baron’s shoes. When they found composure, Baron contributed some details - the shoes had been snatched from inside the wagon by a flightless bird, possibly a parrot or lorikeet, that moved with unearthly speed. By the time the sun rose they had recruited the rest of the troupe into the search and won a thin victory - one shoe had been recovered, quite close to the wagon. It was no worse for wear.

During that daytime, Wazzer wandered the town to ask the locals if they had anything to share about a delinquent bird. The locals of the town could not identify anything natural that fit the meagre description so the only conclusion that Baron could draw was that they had been robbed by a demon. They instructed the wagon to circle the edges of Heaven’s Wood, and they stopped at every town on its outskirts - from Guinpiuv to Klatlap, to tol-Gloylap, to tol-Qlamnel, then back. Baron would spend their sleepless nights setting snares for the demon bird while the troupe sang songs that urged it to return what it had taken. While the songs were sad and beautiful, the demon did not respond to them and the snares caught only rabbits.

The troupe’s performances suffered immediately. Rehearsals with the single shoe were a disaster. Without the counterbalance of its partner, the shoe was dangerously unpredictable. Baron was nearly killed when trying to experiment with the shoe tied to their back. They experimented with building a rig of pulleys and ropes around the wagon in order to replicate some of their famous acts through mechanical means, but the result was limp, slow and more embarrassing than entertaining. So the troupe took to the stage with a modified act that swapped the superhuman antics for traditional acrobatics. While Baron was a skilled acrobat with a deep repertoire of truly impressive stunts, the audiences weren’t prepared to part with as many coins for an act that was merely impressive. The troupe had to get by with what it brought in from private performances, and the show was therefore altered to be more overtly titillating. This turn was fine with the players, since Baron organised their pay by the law of the Order. This meant that, while the ringmaster took fifty percent of the velvet hat, they took only a small portion of personal earnings. So Baron shed weight over the weeks while they directed the wagon around the outskirts of Heaven’s Woods of Fury. The troupe played at every settlement along the way.

But then, one night after a diminished show in the tiny village of Saitau, Baron was combing the portion of the Heaven’s Woods that intruded upon the west of Nuinnuin. A whistle from a thumb-size reed pierced the cold air, an ominous call that the troupe had seldom heard. It was Tambourine’s first time using the panic signal. Two customers had overstepped their bounds during a private performance, and so Tambourine had escaped their house and wedged themselves in the privy, using their feet as a desperate barricade, and whistled away to bring the ringmaster to their aid. But the canopy of the woods scattered the sound, and Baron did not hear the call to duty.

It was fortunate then that Wazzer did. Wazzer had been working in the neighbouring wood house on the same quadrangle as Tambourine. They loped out from their customer’s chambers, rapped a signal of reassurance on the wall of the outside privy, and rounded on the two men who were standing, drunk and confused, at the door of their house. Wazzer, whose soul was as gentle as a moth’s wing, could be terrifying if the situation required it. They shouted the Law of the Twins to the offenders at the top of their booming voice, so half the village could hear it.
“Any hand laid unduly upon a player sent by the Order of the Twins will be severed by the Order of Fury!” said Wazzer, a rehearsed fury radiating from their face. The effect was only dampened a little by the fact that they were dressed in a dog costume, and was carrying the wooden dummy by one of its spindly arms. The dummy was itself dressed as a rabbit. The ‘hare and hound’ act was one of their popular bits and the characters were often requested for the private performances.

The offending customers did not believe that the troupe was part of the Order of The Twins, because they knew that such troupes had magic powers. They had decided that the troupe was fair game - an unlicensed outfit that should be grateful for the money. Wazzer’s hound costume did not allow them to carry about their person their diploma, whose seal bore their True Name, and neither could they present Tambourine’s Writ of Apprenticeship at that moment, so they broke with protocol and struck both of the men with the wooden puppet until they fled their own home. With Tambourine rescued from the privy, Wazzer’s next instinct was to rescue the rest of the troupe, and they beat a hasty retreat into the night, leaving a coded message to Baron to meet them at the nearest Sheriff’s outpost.

Iikaan Nishki-Aminkii was the Order of Fury’s Sheriff for the Tattoq region, headquartered in the old barracks built on top of the ruins above the Waterfall of Fury. He had waited a handful of impatient days for Baron to make the rendezvous with the troupe. Nishki-Aminkii had already been to Saitau to investigate Tambourine’s complaint and had returned to await Baron’s arrival. In the Sheriff’s opinion, events were badly out of control.

The ancient symbiosis between the Orders of Fury and of the Order of the Twins relied on the adherents of the Twins to provide culture, art and levity for both bodies, and to tour about the world, gathering intelligence and practising spycraft. In return, the Order of Fury protected the fragile initiates of the Twins in the form of swift, overwhelming and unambiguous justice. The certainty of this vengeance, and the zeal in which the Order of Fury preferred to administer it, had cemented the idea among people that the strange bands that the Order of the Twins threw off into the world were always to be treated as honoured guests. So effective was this invisible aegis that Baron’s troupe had never had to interact with a Sheriff of Fury before. When a bedraggled Baron at last staggered over to the barracks at the Waterfall of Fury, Iikaan Nishki-Aminkii was ready to give the shivering ringmaster some very stern words indeed. He was appalled that Baron had abandoned their troupe, and told Baron that the loss of the shoe, their sacred Trick that marked them as the best in their graduating year, would be reported to the Order of the Twins back in Usilupus. Baron said very little during the Sheriff’s remonstrance. The Sheriff had let Tambourine’s attackers off with a warning, as Wazzer’s assault upon the men had clouded the issue and so spared them the full weight of justice. The village of Saitau was to be blacklisted by both Orders. It would not again know the joy of The Twins or be protected by the might of Fury. Throughout this, Baron quietly signalled agreement with nods while they thought of food. They rejoined the troupe in the barracks with a quiet greeting and avoided a conversation with Wazzer by pretending to sleep.

The troupe limped on to complete the circle of towns around Heaven’s Woods. Baron made it clear that nobody was under any obligation to accept private performances and Wazzer offered to share the take from their own work with those who were now reluctant to take any. Baron wore their shame like a lead overcoat. They spent their savings on large dinners for the troupe, until all the savings were gone. They avoided Wazzer at all costs, until Wazzer found them in the woods one night. Baron was checking if the snares they’d set had caught the demon, or at least something they could cook. Wazzer told Baron that they were leaving the troupe. Wazzer was going to go to Zhuzh, on the East coast where the weather was warmer and the pickings were plentiful, to rejoin their old troupe. Wazzer had hoped to convince Baron into following, to steer the whole wagon to Zhuzh. Together they would face whatever punishment the Order decided for losing the shoe and join the waiting list for a new Trick.

Baron could not be moved by heartbreak. They said they would find the shoe very soon, and shuffled deeper into the woods. In the morning, Wazzer was gone. They left a pool of money, their costumes and the wooden puppet. It was holding a wax tablet, and scratched into the tablet was a set of dates and places where Wazzer’s old troupe would be likely to play.

The money went towards a refit for the troupe’s show. Baron would move on from the high-energy stunts and treat the people of Taq-roq-Rut and Nuinnuin to the classics. Baron resumed the role of principal player they had gladly abandoned years ago. The troupe was uneasy performing the vintage tragedies, comedies and dance forms which they hadn’t practised in years but Baron, now stick-thin, was well past the point where they could be reasoned with. The wagon continued its circuit around Heaven’s Wood. Each night the velvet hat returned less and less with each performance until half a sausage felt like a resounding success.

In the two months that had passed between losing their Trick and the performance of The Betrayal, Baron’s habit of searching Heaven’s Woods had become increasingly abstracted. At first, they had been systematic and crafty, attempting to outwit the thieving bird by leaving riddles and clues that would lead them into a trap. Then they had morphed their methods into that of the huntsman, carefully cataloguing every spoor and scent they found in the dirt. By the time they wandered out under the dark canopy in the streaked facepaint and beehive wig of the Traitor Sibling, their method was to find somewhere to sit and have a good cry. On that night they found a soft wet patch by a brook and stared into the silvery water. The image of their gaunt face appeared on its surface like a ruined moon. Despite the make-up, they did not recognise themselves. They supposed their life was over now.

Baron’s misery was split in two by an almighty thunderclap. They splashed into the brook as they scrambled to their feet, now soaked. Before they knew it, the thunder was followed by a string of repeats that rang their brain and hollowed out their skull. Baron covered their ears with the meagre straws of their fingers and ran with an urge to escape the source of the noise, knowing this was futile as the core of the Earth had become a bell that sounded out the midnight hour, and there was surely no escaping it. The direction they chose took them directly towards the source of the noise, which they then tripped over. This silenced the thunder and blessed the mud with a broad white streak from their face.

By Baron’s feet was a small rabbit. It had one leg caught in a snare and was using the other to thump the ground. The harmless timpani of the rabbit’s foot was almost inaudible after the cacophony that Baron had survived. They watched the poor creature struggle, its feet made suddenly useless by the cruelty of an indifferent world. Baron realised at once that they simply did not have the steel to kill and eat the thing. They contemplated going to find Tambourine, who probably did have that steel, when they saw the necklace. It was just beside the rabbit. The thin haze of moonlight that reached the ground reflected off of its metal clasp. Baron moved over to it on hands and knees and scooped it into their trembling hand. The thunder returned, but slightly less loud and more distant, as if coming from above the trees. The booms sounded perfectly in time with their racing pulse. They dropped the necklace and the thunder stopped. Baron licked their lips, which tasted of greasepaint and sausage. They helped the rabbit escape from the snare.

Privacy did not play a large part in the life of a travelling player. They lived always in public. The wagon that was the transport, stage and home of the The Esteemed and Wonderful Troupe of Players was only used for sleeping on the coldest nights. The players lodged in the houses of townsfolk, or were grouped together in an empty hall or Order-house if one was available. Otherwise, they camped under the sky with their bedrolls nestled close to each other. Baron had discovered privacy only recently, on their nights in the woods, so it was to the woods that they took Wazzer’s dummy with them to help unlock the potential of the Trick that the Heavens had sent to them.

It was a fairly tight fit when worn. The embellishment sat close to the larynx, and was a rectangle of flexible material quite similar to leather. Punched into that were square holes, hemmed with gold, threaded through which were wires that felt very much like the whiskers of a cat. The embellishment would amplify the sound made by anything pressed against it. The level of amplification was determined by the arrangement of wires looped through the holes of the leather-like rectangle. The necklace had made thunder out of a rabbit’s thumping foot. It had also thrown the sound of that thunder away from its origin, projecting it directly at Baron’s head. The sound of Baron’s pulse had been thrown up into the sky. Secluded under the blanket of the forest, Baron sat the puppet on a fallen trunk and used the necklace to make it talk.

“Hello Baron,” said the puppet. Its voice was too quiet and seemed to come from within the trunk. Baron pulled the necklace loose.
“Hello little fellow, are you behaving yourself?” murmured Baron as they fiddled with the wires.
“Of course I am! It’s you we ought to be worried about! He he he!” said the puppet. Its voice originated from about the right distance but had a strange echo to it.
“You don’t need to worry about me, I know what I’m doing,” said Baron, feeling for the wire that might modulate the echo.
“NO YOU DON’T!” boomed the puppet from ten metres away. Birds burst from the trees. Baron cursed and reset the wires.
“You’ve been driven mad, nobody trusts you,” said the puppet. That was the right volume but the distance was too close.
“Tambourine trusts me,” said Baron.
“No they don’t, they rely on you to approve their graduation,” said the puppet.
“Reliance is a form of trust,” said Baron, fine-tuning.
“No it isn’t! When is Wazzer coming back?” that was good - it sounded just as though the voice was coming from the puppet’s mouth. Was there a way to make the mouth move?
“Wazzer will come back when we put on a show worthy of them,” said Baron, looking for a stick.
“Well this show is terrible,” said the puppet. The character of the voice was becoming clearer - a stuffy, upper-class critic, with an Eastern accent. Not quite Zhuzh, but close.
“Oh no it isn’t,” said Baron.
“Oh yes it is!” said the puppet, its mouth moving in time as Baron pushed the stick against its jaw. This was something.

Baron emerged from the woods with an effervescent energy that must have come from somewhere outside of their starving body. They held the puppet on their shoulders as they practically skipped up to the wagon. The players drifted towards them, curious about this change in their demeanour.
“Baron, are we putting on Treachery tonight?” asked Tambourine. There had been an argument among the troupe about this. There was the faction that had gotten dressed and made-up in the hope that the work they had put into learning the lines and blocking of the infamously wordy classic would be used again. Tambourine had joined the other faction, which had bet on Baron changing course again due to the diminishing state of their mind and so not bothered to prepare for anything in particular.
“Treachery is retired,” Baron said, handing the dummy to Tambourine. They took several large steps backward. “Today we’ll make a new show,” said the dummy. Tambourine looked at the dummy, tilting it around in their hands to examine it for clues.
“Why does it sound like Wazzer?” they asked.
“Be a dear, Tambourine, and fetch the ropes,” said Baron as they snatched back the dummy.

The town of Klatlap, which had paid the price of half a sausage to see a rare performance of the timeless story of the Traitor Sibling, was shortly thereafter the host to something entirely new. The Wronged Players That Were Robbed Of All Dignity opened as a matinee show under an overcast sky to an audience of three goats, a bemused shepherd, the ever-hopeful members of Wazzer’s fan club, and an unattended baby. But sitting before that genuine audience was a false one, made up of half of the players from the troupe. This false audience was led by Tambourine, and was there to be vocally critical of what was happening on the stage.

What was happening on the stage was an accelerated version of the company’s act after Baron had lost their Trick. Baron was flung slowly about on ropes while the cast tried gamely to run through their routines. The false audience panned it, and distracted Baron so much that they tumbled over during a stunt and cracked their head against the water barrel. The others on stage appeared to break character and rushed to Baron’s aid. The false audience jeered, and encouraged the real audience to jeer along with them. This drew in people from the outskirts of the stage to join the audience, so they could see what all the jeering was about. Baron laid quite still there on the stage.
Then Tambourine stood up, and told the crowd that the play was no good, and that these players were frauds. The players tried to defend themselves above the rising noise, and shouted protests that their magical Trick had been stolen from them, but this only enraged the fake crowd all the more. They mobbed the stage to confront the players, and very quickly this escalated to wrestling, where many items of clothes were removed. The real audience grew, luring in young men and women by their passions. The fighting on-stage became so pitched that some members of the audience considered whether they should intervene.

Then the voices of players past whispered in the ears of the audience. The disembodied moans testified to a thousand sad fates - the starvings, the exposure. They drank poison after bad reviews, they were hanged by a hysterical mob. They hobbled on after a career-ending injury until their hearts gave out. All for want of love, all for want of applause, and grinding toil and uncounted hours devoted to their craft were all completely forgotten after their passing. People in the audience wheeled around to look for the source of the voices to find only the faces of each other. They had been confused, then baited, enraged and titillated - and now they were frightened. A voice from the crowd cried out that someone ought to call the Sheriff. That seemed like an excellent idea.

And the Sheriff was there before anyone could react. He hurtled in overhead, suspended by a pulley, on a length of rope leading towards the stage. This Sheriff was about two and a half feet tall, and wore the traditional robes of the Order of Fury. As he ziplined towards the stage, he yelled at everyone to stop moving, to stop fighting, to listen up, and then they dropped from the rope, bounced with tremendous force from the stage and somersaulted into a cunning arrangement of wires that kept them held upright, standing on the water barrel, facing the audience, and directly below Baron. Baron was still playing dead, and able to operate the dummy’s mouth with a length of wire.

The Sheriff puppet ordered the crowd to disperse, and the players mixed up in the melee acted then as crowd control, guiding the real audience to a position where they could best see the puppet. The Sheriff told everyone that this troupe, The Esteemed Players, really did lose their Trick, but that they were magical nonetheless. These players deserved coins that would keep them going, as did all players. If the crowd was to persist in this bad behaviour then the wrath of the Sheriff would come down upon them all. At this cue, the water barrel exploded. It was full of the inedible molasses that was used to depict blood. The stage blood covered everything and splashed the front rows of the audience. The puppet was blasted back behind the backdrop.

Tambourine, who had donned a wig and coat during the distracting explosion sequence, now moved through the audience with the velvet hat. There was a rabbit riding along in the hat, chewing on a piece of hard melon. When Tambourine stopped to urge people to drop a coin in the hat, the rabbit said ‘thank you,’ and ‘bless you,’ to the people who contributed. When the hat was filled, the players rose to bow. Even Baron rose, to show that they were unharmed and grateful. Then came the showstopper - Baron told everyone that their kindness was like the shining sun, and they gestured grandly at the cloudy sky with one hand on their throat. This got a laugh, and then a gasp, for then the clouds did part. A perfect circle of blue sky had formed around the sun.

As the sun shone, the voices of the ghost players returned. They said they were satisfied, and would now be reincarnated as well-fed pigs. The troupe retreated behind the wagon, and the applause went on and on and on.

In the morning the wagon set out East, away from the Heaven’s Woods of Fury. There would be stops along the way, enough to replenish the coffers, sharpen the act and put some meat back on Baron’s bones. Baron spent the nights composing the dozens of apologetic ballards they wanted to sing to Wazzer. As the dawn broke, they would stand on top of the wagon and send the songs out towards where they fancied Zhuzh might be. Would Wazzer hear the sweet words as they woke in that far-off land? Baron was not one to calculate the odds, but knew that inevitable things had to happen.

And after that they would take Tambourine to Usilupus for this year’s graduation. If Baron had anything to say about it, they would be awarded a Trick of their own.

The Wronged Players That Were Robbed Of All Dignity became a new classic, and the necklace that Baron wore became one of the most treasured objects held by the Order of the Twins, though the path it travelled down the years had many more turns to it, yet to be told.

I hereby waive all copyright and related or neighboring rights together with all associated claims and causes of action with respect to this work to the extent possible under the law.

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