It felt strange to be chopping trees, especially to one as inured to mindless tailoring as Musashi, but after all, that’s what he had come to Catskills for… something akin to retirement.  On a whim, he had given over his house and possessions to the somewhat dubious care of Maraxus and entered the shard as a newcomer once again, seeking a life free of care, free of worry, free of tailoring, free of Kagero… It seemed too much to hope for, but the fact that Magnus of Occlo dwelled in Catskills gave him a small bit of hope… surely the prolific tank mage would refuse to dwell in a shard rife with idiocy and violence *coughAtlanticcough*.

He was dropped off by the shard gate at Empath Abbey, hatchet in hand, ugly clothing at the ready.  His first moments were as unremarkable as anyone’s… walking around Yew, chopping wood from trees, failing to craft bows… yet it was somehow refreshing not having to worry about the 1200 gold in reagents he used to carry, or armor, or potions, or magical weaponry… he had literally nothing of value.  The knowledge that he had nothing to lose was a great relief to him, and soon he began wandering off into the woods, heading vaguely in the direction of Skara Brae… at least he thought it was Skara Brae.  Truth be told, he had grown so used to recalling everywhere from fear of being murdered that he hadn’t the foggiest idea how to walk anywhere.  Oh well… part of the experience, he supposed, as he stepped onto the road.

The texture of the earth surprised him a bit… it was a little too firm.  What could it be?  Suddenly Mu realized something remarkable:  the road was not soaked through in human blood!  Surely this was some oversight of the local populace, who no doubt would be out soon to rectify this situation thanks to Mu’s raw materials.  Remarkably, no one came out to relieve him of his bodily fluids, and a rather shocked Mu, with no idea what to do next, simply continued walking, pausing here and there to do battle with a mighty rat or chicken.  Occasionally a local would approach him while one of these great contests was joined, and while Mu steeled himself for the inevitable magical onslaught or crossbow bolt, the traveller would offer him assistance.  (Mu refused of course; if a rat and a chicken could have the best of him well, he obviously deserved it.)  Soon the gore of many a weak critter was dripping from Mu’s dagger, and he was looking fearsome as ever in some scaveneged orc ringmail.

The ettin was a bit more than he had expected… luckily it was already preoccupied with an armored young woman who was dancing in and out of melee range.  Mu remembered the power of ettins from the Atlantic shard… he may have been able to solo one relatively easily in his heyday there, but it seemed to be gaining a bit of an advantage against the young woman, and certainly would have had Mu for lunch.  Still, with nothing to lose, there seemed to be little reason not to offer to assist.  "Need help?" offered Mu.

"Please" replied ThoronGelda.

The extent of Mu’s help was to distract the ettin with some badly timed dagger thrusts, none of which connected.  However, ThoronGelda took advantage of the time afforded by the ettin’s pounding on Mu to heal herself, and soon was back to dispatch the creature.  Mu refused her offer of the loot out of a sense of courtesy towards someone who didn’t try to kill him on sight, until he remembered that he was absolutely poverty-stricken and actually did need the money.

"Thanks ma’am.  This cash should come in handy when I get to town."

"Are you headed for Kinship?" she asked Mu.

"Eh?  Nope, Skara Brae… never heard of this ‘Kinship’."

"It’s just outside Skara.  Walk with me," she said, and began stolling off towards the west.  During their journey, they stopped and sparred with some animals (for Mu’s sake… he could barely hold the damn dagger steady), visited a vendor, and basically had a *gasp* conversation, one that surprisingly did not begin with "Uus Jux" and end with "U Suck".

"I must say, this place is a fair bit more pleasant than the place I come from," said Mu.

"Oh, and where is that?"

"Atlantic."

She grimaced a bit.  "Yes, I’ve heard of it.  Doesn’t sound like much of a place to live at all."

"Welp, it does get exhilarating sometimes, but as for living… you couldn’t really call it ‘life’," he stated glumly, recalling endless hours of tailoring drudgery, followed by hours of magery practice drudgery, followed by minutes of looking for monsters that never spawned because someone had them in his house, followed by seconds of man-to-man combat before someone said, "Kal Ort Por".

"Give Kinship a try… you may like it," she said, as the two stepped into a village which was so well laid out, so subtly decorated, one would think it had been done by a Nihonjin instead of one of these Britannian barbarians.  Speechless, Mu gazed around like an idiot while ThoronGelda stepped off to have a few conversations, eventually giving Mu 500 gold when he left for Skara Brae.  Musashi was sure that what ThoronGelda had recommended to him would undoubtedly be true.

 

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