Postage Due

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The sun is low in the sky over dragon bay as a tired griffin lands to rest before continuing her trip over the small sea to reach Turning Point. The rocky shore is not very inviting, but the forests that line it seem to be full of game. Not a bad place to rest for the night.

Picasso looks around and decided she'll rest here for the night but first she needs some food.

Picasso settles down and waits while scanning the tree line for possible prey

The light is fading, and some of the animals active at twilight are stirring. Some rustling can just be heard a few hundred yards into the forest. Something decent sized is moving around slowly.

Picasso takes off over the water, gains some altitude and then circles around to see if she can make a kill from the air

The foliage is pretty thick, with gaps here and there from old tree falls. On one pass, a glimpse of something furry and deer sized can be seen pulling on a branch with it's mouth. Getting it's own dinner apparently.

Picasso decides to try for the deer sized creature. She comes in low making sure her shadow won't give her away and then purposely stalls out just above the animal hoping to drop right on top of it.

The animal feels the slight movement of air as the hungry griffin is nearly on top of him, and with a bleat of warning to his harem, moves to bolt into the thicker brush.

Picasso drops to the ground, quickly folds her wings and lunges after the beast.

Picasso manages to catch one of the beast's hind legs in her beak and hauls back on him. She flings him around a bit and while holding him down with a taloned front leg, snaps his neck with her beak

It's a succulent meal for a large hungry predator. This critter has been eating well. As Picasso tears into her meal, she hears a clank, and notes a bell dangling from a torn collar.

Picasso stops eating suddenly and looks for the source of the sound. Upon seeing the collar, she quickly looks around to see if anyone else is about. She's in a bit of a dilemma. If she stays to try to make this right she might well be too late with her delivery but if this was somebody's herd animal she wouldn't feel right leaving no compensation.

The only sounds so far come from some of the rest of the herd as they slowly wander back.

As the griffiness stares at the collar of the herd beast, the rest of the herd has settled down to eat, with only the occasional clank of the bells at their neck.

Picasso looks around quickly to see if there is anyone tending the herd.

No one is in evidence, but a moment later the faint sound of music can be heard traveling on a light breeze.

Picasso is unsure of what to do. but thinks if she's going to meet the one in charge of these beasts, she'd best do so not standing over the body of the one she just killed.

Picasso listens to hear what direction the music is coming from and walks that way

The pipe music gets louder, until finally Picasso sees a bipedal figure sitting on a mossy rock. It looks like a bearded man, but from the waist down he has the legs of a goat.

Picasso wanders slowly in the direction of the creature playing the music

The music stops as the satyr sees the griffiness. He also notes the blood stains at the edge of her beak. He carefully moves to get to his hooves and reaches into a pouch at his waist, softly saying, "Nice beasty. No need to leap at me."

Picasso chtorrs, "I didn't plan to leap at you actually"

Picasso chtorrs, "I did wish to talk with you however."

The satyr blinks, "You can talk?"

Picasso chtorrs, "Well yes. Most of my kind can but then I'm the only one of my kind here on this world."

Picasso chtorrs, "Are you in charge of this herd?"

A startled nod is the only response, though the satyr still has his hand in his pouch.

Picasso chtorrs, "Then you are definitely the one I need to talk with. I seem to have made a bit of a....mistake. I spotted a lone beast from this herd from the air and as I'm used to hunting my own meals I'm afraid I killed it before I realized it wasn't a wild animal. I do have some money and can hopefully pay for it."

The satyr nods, "I noticed the blood on yer beak, and I had a feeling it wasn't yours. I'm Sylen, and my mate, Arcadia is going to have my hide for losing one o' the herd. We don't have much use for money out here, we avoid the cities."

Picasso chtorrs, "I don't know what else I could offer other than maybe offering my services for air delivery. I'm in the middle of a delivery run now actually which is why I needed to stop and eat. "

Picasso doesn't mention it's also her first delivery job

Sylen sits down grumpily, muttering about polite predators that apologize for killing your herd. Finally he hmms, "Another talking flying kitty. You wouldn't happen to have some verdant would you? It's a lovely green stone, probably the only thing my mate would accept in apology?"

Picasso chtorrs, "I haven't heard of that before though I might know it by a different name. If it's something I might find in Haven or Turning Point I might be able to pick your mate up a sample."

Sylen smiles, "Turning Point. I've heard o' that. They dig holes in perfectly good mountains. Must find plenty of verdant. Course, how can I know you'll keep your word and come back with the stone?"

Picasso chtorrs, "I don't suppose you have any reason to take my word though I could have simply flown off after killing your animal. The only thing I have of value are some coins. While you haven't much use for them, I do as I'm in cities often. I would leave enough with you that you knew I would return."

Sylen hmms and strokes his beard, "Well, if you throw in a skin of winter wine, which they have there, I'll consider a deal. Keep your coins. Now, is there anything left of my beast that I have to bury?"

Picasso chtorrs, "That I ought to be able to get for you. As for the beast, you need not worry. There won't be any traces left. No reason to waste it as long as I already killed it. I'll carry it away first so the herd isn't spooked though"

The satyr slumps and nods, "Might as well, la...lad or lass?"

Picasso chtorrs, "Lass. I apologize again and will return though it may be a week or so before I do."

Picasso takes a good look around and will do so again from the air so she can find her way back here.

Sylen nods, "I must admit, it's gettin odd when the predators that raid your herds come by to apologize for it. Between those flying catbirds, talking mountain cats and now you...sigh, maybe I DO drink too much wine."

Picasso turns and walks back to the carcass of the beast she killed. Getting a good grip on it she leaps into the air and flies away. She lands at the first promising spot to finish her meal in peace

To sensitive ears, a low rumble can be heard from across the small sea, in the general direction that the griffin was heading. It lasts about a minute, then fades.

Picasso blinks and wonders what that sound was. In any case she needs to be on her way. She doesn't want to be late with this delivery

The small sea that lies between the Haven Peninsula and the mountains of Turning Point spreads to the horizon. A small sea maybe, but still a sea, and even for the griffiness, a good 5 hour flight.

Picasso decides to get some rest after her meal and to make the flight over the water in the morning

Picasso settles down to sleep

Before you know it, the sun is coming up and pestering the sleeping griffin as it plays amongst the leaves above her.

Picasso stretches and yawns. She knows she has a long flight ahead.

Picasso mutters to herself "Well, might as well get going."

The clear scent of salty wind beckons from the waters.

Picasso takes off and aims skyward. The more altitude the better. That way she can glide occasionally to rest.

Only a light breeze pushes back this day, and within 3 hours, the mountains become clearer, and after about 5 hours the rocky shores pass below, and the small set of buildings in the valley ahead is the only sign of the "city".

Picasso takes a look around the area as she spirals down for a landing well away from the buildings

The city of Turning Point is rather small. One central "road" where most of the buildings are lined up, and a few small structures to the side. The hills are dotted with small holes, but right now a cloud of dust covers most of the sky, getting darker as it heads east. One building has a large sign, "Claims and Assayer".

Picasso walks toward the building with the sign as that seems as good a place to start and the papers will likely end up there in any case after Beratis gets them.

The people in the town are a mix of foxes, skunks, goats and other bipedal types. The town seems very agitated, and the looks towards Picasso are not all that friendly.

Picasso keeps her eyes open and her guard up. She doesn't really want any trouble but she is tired and wants to finish the task she agreed to.

The door to the Assayer/Claim office is open, and several angry miners are shouting. Something about a mountain caving in yesterday evening?

The place is so crowded, the griffin might be able to fit her head and shoulders inside, but just maybe.

Picasso pokes her head in and in a rather loud voice so she'll get some attention....

Picasso chtorrs, "Excuse me. I'm looking for Beratis. I have a delivery for him."

The gathered assortment of furs turn first in annoyance, then in a mixture of fear, amazement or just sheer surprise. Finally, "What the heck are you?"

Picasso chtorrs, "The name of my race doesn't translate to this language very well. In any case I just finished a rather long flight and would like to find Beratis so I can deliver the papers I have for him."

From amongst the crowd a voice chirps, "The papers? Kyrimis got them to me? Please, I need them now." and someone kind of small forces his way amongst the taller furs, until a short otter stands in front of Picasso, seeing her basically eye to eye. His excitement over the possibility of saving his mine erasing most of his fear.

Picasso chtorrs, "Well you know who sent them so you're likely Beratis. If you'll step out here, the papers are in my side packs. It would be easier for you to get them. Less holes in the paper that way."

Beratis nods and quickly pulls the papers out and then races back in, shouting to the clerk, "Here are your stinking papers. My claim is properly registered, so tell those other miners to stay clear." He hmmfs as the clerk grumbles, but the claim is registered. It seems some folks had hoped to get the otters claim. Finally, the otter pads outside with his official claim papers and looks at the griffiness, "Umm, I'd like to thank you Mr. ?"

Picasso chtorrs, "That would be Miss and the name is Picasso. I'm glad I got these here in time."

The otter blinks then nods, "A lady. My apologies. You've saved my mine. I know my brother paid you, but is there anything else I could do to repay you? Oh, and I think we'd best leave from here. With that mountain being destroyed, and some spacers seen fleeing it, someone you may not be treated well. And I KNOW I just annoyed a few people who were eyeing my mine.

Picasso chtorrs, "From the looks on some of their faces I think leaving would be a very good idea"

Picasso follows Beratis

The otter pads down the street and rifles through his documents and hmms, "Oh, the approved form has to be sent back to be filed in Haven? What a pain, we should declare independence from Haven. So, can you carry this back to my brother? And what can I do to repay you."

Beratis turns towards the griffin and chitters, "So, do you need anything in town?" He still looks hopeful that she will carry his forms back to Haven?

Picasso chtorrs, "Yes I can carry it back. As for payment, your brother is paying me pretty well for doing this, however I met another on the trip here who I now owe a skin of winter wine and a piece of a mineral called verdant. I don't know it's rarity but if it's possible I need to find at least a small piece of it."

The otter blinks, "Verdant? A lovely green stone, not too common, but not much market for it, other than trinkets. How large a piece?"

Picasso chtorrs, "A piece large enough for a pendant or brooch would be perfect."

Beratis hmms, "I should be able to get a chunk that's more than large enough for a bit of silver. And we have some winter wine down at the general store, should that be ok? Here, let me put this document in your saddle bags."

Picasso chtorrs, "If you'd tuck it in there. I have some coins that would pay for the wine and the stone"

Beratis waves hands, "A pittance compared to saving my mine. There is a small field just to the north of town, near a stream. Give me an hour or so and I'll meet you there with your items."

Picasso chtorrs, "Thank you. I'll be waiting."

Picasso walks to the indicated waiting spot

The meadow is peaceful enough. One small wild rabbit does pass by, so the griffiness gets a small snack. Otherwise it's peaceful, and the cloud of dust is slowly settling, of course, leaving a small layer on everyone.

Picasso shakes the dust off occasionally as she waits.

Finally a small figure approaches, and up comes the otter carrying a large sack and panting softly.

Picasso takes the sack from the winded otter

Picasso chtorrs, "I will get that document back to your brother in Haven. It will take around a week"

Beratis nods his thanks then sits down against a small tree and pants, "Well, I have a fist sized piece of verdant, three wine skins, and a good sized haunch of beef. I figure we could both use some food and wine before you head off. Oh, that should be fine, but no doubt it'll be faster now that you know the way. ;)"

Picasso chtorrs, "If the sound I heard yesterday was that mountain collapsing, I'm amazed any of you survived."

Picasso settles down to share a meal and some wine with the otter.

Beratis shrugs, "That mountain that you don't see any more, well, I guess you see the dust cloud, is a good 10 miles away. Most of those crazy cultists who ran it are probably dead though. Distances can be deceiving up here."

Picasso chtorrs, "Considering it took me almost five hours to fly across that small sea, the sound here must have been deafening. I'll likely need to rest for the night before starting back. Given the mood of the towns folk I think I'll spend it out here under the stars or under the dust more likely"

Picasso shakes the accumulated dust off again

Beratis nods, "Broke what few glass windows we had, my ears are still ringing a little. Oh, as it is a bit cooler in Turning Point, there is a blanket in there too. Let me break out the wine skin and you can start at that leg of meat. ;)"

Picasso chtorrs, "You'd best take what you want of the meat first. I'm not the most dainty of eaters. As for the wine, any liquid would taste good with all that dust in the air."

The otter chuckles and tears off a few strips of meat, then takes a couple of swigs of wine from the skin, and offers it to Picasso, "No doubt. Dust should finish settling in a few days we hope. It's making it colder than normal."

Picasso chtorrs, "Thank you for the blanket as well. My homeland is much colder than this in the winter but it will keep some of the dust off."

Beratis smiles, "Well, I can appreciate what you must go through. Everyone expects we otters to be seafaring folk, not miners. They think I'm too small. So I guess I like to help out fellow misfits, if you understand what I mean?"

Picasso takes a wedge shaped bite out of the leg of beef

Picasso chtorrs, "I can very well. I was a bit of a misfit among my own people."

Picasso takes a small (for her) swallow of the wine

The otter's eyebrows do raise a bit as he sees the size of the chunk taken one bite, but he just takes another swig of wine.

Picasso takes another bite of meat.

Picasso tries some more wine "That's quite good"

The otter nods, getting rather mellow, "Winter Wine is wonderful. We wait till the grapes get frozen on the vines, then we crush them for fermenting. Great stuff."

Picasso takes another swallow. She starts to feel warm inside

Picasso chtorrs, "I probably shouldn't drink mush.....much more of that. I don't want to get drunk"

Beratis nods, while swigging down some more wine, "Yeah, flying with a headache must be a pain" and breaks out in giggles. The two finish up their meal, and after an hour the otter wobbles home, still chittering about HIS mine.

Picasso watches the otter wander off and pulls out the blanket to cover herself with before drifting off to sleep

In the morning, the young griffiness wakes up, with only a mild tension in her head. She checks her saddle bags and takes off. She finds Sylen on the way home, and he's happy to see the stone, and ecstatic when he sees the two wine skins. He hurriedly rushes her off when his mate's voice calls out, "Sylen? Are you talking to some lady?" He shoos Picasso off and shouts back, "No Arcadia. Just talking to my herd." The griffin chuckles, and heads back towards Haven, figuring her first job went fairly well.