The three brave squeep hunters inquire an old retired explorer (on recomendation from Fenter) about his experiences with squeeps.
(Envoy) (Fenter) (Jaundice) (Rephidim) (Squeep Quest)

The three brave squeep hunters, Jaundice, Fenter, and nowEnvoy, find themselves at a rather decrepit looking brick building – a building that seems to be inhabited entirely by very very old men. The raccoon nimbly guides his two companions into the building and up a twisty set of stairs until they finally reach a gnarled wooden door. Without even bothering to knock, Fenter bursts open the door and ambles inside… gesturing for the two to do the same.

The room of Mort Delantra is nothing more than a collection of junk. Maps of continents (with great sea serpents peering from the oceans) litter the walls, trinkets – some so corroded that one can only speculate as to what they look like or functioned as – litter the floor and overflow from shelves. The air has a general smell of mustiness about it, and also a hint of medicine. This is a room where one goes to contemplate one's life during after the important bits are over with. Sunlight (what little of it there is outside) filters through a pair of curtains that are tattered and in disrepair. The beams land perfectly square in the center of the room, on a hunched over figure sitting on a wheelchair amidst a mass of blankets and pillows.

Envoy follows along.

Envoy peers around at all of the interesting artifacts!

Jaundice quirks an eyebrow at the sight. He glances up at Fenter, holding the door open…

Old Mort sluggishly looks up from his chair at the new arrivals. He's a very old Jupani, quite gray around the muzzle. "Are you here to deliver my pickles?" he asks Envoy.

Envoy smiles, "What's a pickle?"

Jaundice lets the door shut gently, trying not to disturb the strangely serene setting, or the old men who are part of it.

Fenter says, "Mortimer! My good friend! How have you been? How's that gangrened toe? Did it finally fall off?"

Mort sputters at Envoy. "You don't know what a pickle is?… harumph. Kids these days."

Jaundice's eyes widen. "Fenter… what is this place?" He looks almost horrified at the old wolf.

The old Jupani digs around in the nest of blankets and pillows and pulls out a horn of some kind of animal… He promptly sticks it in his ear.

Jaundice suddenly feels very self-conscious, being so young. . o O { He needs that to hear? } He shudders and withdraws a bit into himself, hoping Fenter can do most of the talking to start off.

Fenter blinks at Pe'er. "Oh… here? This is where all the… er… great explorers go when it's time for them to be put out to pasture. Old Morty's been everywhere… I'm sure if anyone knows what a squeep is, it'll be him."

Envoy comments to Jaundice, "Is that the same sort of horn the librarian used?"

Jaundice gestures with his hand to Fenter. "You know him better. If you think so, ask." He shifts his weight on his sandals slightly, glancing around the room at the furniture.

Mort squints his eyes at his three guests. "I've told you already. I don't want any Temple Scout cookies! You're always bothering me with your darn sugar cookies."

Jaundice nods in reply to Envoy. "Old age… I don't see it respected the same way on Rephidim like it is in my home village… " He waves the thought aside, as though he'll talk about it later.

Envoy looks around, "Cookies? Where?"

Fenter says, "Morty… my dear old friend! We need your help!"

The wolf looks nervously to Envoy. "You can't have them! They're mine!"

Envoy blinks, and nods.

"And you!" The grayed Jupani sputters at the raccoon. "Why are you in a dress? I don't believe I know any women… "

Jaundice stares wide-eyed at the elder, reminded of an unpleasant scene from his childhood with an elder scholar who was half past retirement.

Envoy grins, she knew it was a dress!

Jaundice thinks, . o O { A lot of unused experience can be a dangerous thing with an unstable mind. }

Fenter says, "I'm not a woman, you old codger! This is a magician's robe! Oh… fiddlekins."

Jaundice nudges Fenter. "Ask him, already." He sounds like he's ready to GO.

The wolf looks past Envoy and Fenter to rest his baggy eyes on Jaundice. "Ask me what? You there… in the pup tent. Ask me what?"

Fenter steps aside and shrugs, "It seems he wants to talk to you, Lad."

Jaundice raises an eyebrow. "Pup tent?" He glances down at himself. "This is my native dr- er, clothing." He stares at Mort without the merest hint of wanting to speak with the wolf.

The wolf grumbles. Talking to a raccoon in a dress… the very idea.

Envoy blinks and watches the old wolf curiously.

Jaundice turns to Fenter, hissing through his teeth. "You know him, you ask!"

Fenter uncorks a bottle with some purplish liquid inside and sniffs the contents. He promptly sneezes.

Envoy asks the wolf, "We're trying to find a squeep."

Jaundice breathes a sigh of relief as Envoy asks the question.

The Jupani tilts his horn towards Envoy, "A what? Did you say a gleep?"

Fenter smiles sheepishly. "He's just a tad hard of hearing."

Envoy shouts, "A squeep!"

Mort pulls out the horn and blows into the end. A cloud of dust swirls out and envelops Envoy.

Envoy sneezes violently!

Fenter quickly offers Envoy one of the bottles on the counter. "This is supposed to help cure allergies like that."

Envoy blinks. "I don't have allergies."

The Jupani replaces his earhorn. "Now then… I'll notbother with people who mutter. You there… in the tent. You're looking for a gleep?"

Jaundice, meanwhile, is preoccupied with the contents of the room. Knickknacks scattered around, old faded pictures and maps here and there, and very worn furniture and wallcovering. . o O { When I get old… may I never end up in a place like this. }

Envoy says, "Nono, a squeep."

Jaundice looks to the side, figuring he can get out of talking for a while longer with Envoy in tow.

Fenter says, "Ah… even better!"

The wolf scowls and bangs his horn against the edge of his chair. This time a couple of foul smelling pebbles pop out. "There's no leaks in my room… I had the plumbing fixed just last week." He proclaims.

Envoy turns to Jaundice, "I don't understand him."

Fenter coughs to himself. "Speaking of plumbing… excuse me for just a moment… "

Jaundice gets impatient, and yanks the horn out of the old wolf's hands. "Excuse me, sir."

Fenter steps into a small room in the back, closing the door behind him.

Jaundice looks after the raccoon, shaking his head… then peers at the horn, shaking it experimentally.

"Here here! That's a Rughrat horn! You know how hard they are to come by these days?" The wolf grumbles. "No respect for elders… "

The horn does not rattle. Apparently that last bang freed any obstructions that seemed to be inside of it.

Jaundice reaches for the tail of his tunic and wipes off the narrow end of the horn, peering at it closely to make sure nothing's left on the end. Satisfied, he hands it back to Mort. "My apologies, sir."

There's a sound of churning water in the back of the room followed by a squeal of surprise. A small puddle of water forms outside the door.

The Jupani quickly jams the horn back into his ear. "Now then… You're looking for a leak? You don't seem much like a plumber… "

Jaundice turns towards the door, half-tempted to ask what the raccoon is doing in there.

"Eeeeeevrything's under control in here!" comes Fenter's voice from behind the door – followed quickly by a loud *SPLASH!*.

The Jupani seems oblivious to the noise behind him and fixes his moldy gaze upon Jaundice.

Jaundice takes a deep breath, then peers at Mort, his face a mere foot from the elder's.

Jaundice shouts, "WE'RE LOOKING FOR A SQUEEP."

"Oh!" The wolf exclaims. "Why didn't you say so!" He scratches his grayed chin.

Jaundice straightens up, looking expectant. He gives the old wolf space to think.

Fenter bursts from out of the back room and quickly shuts the door behind him. He makes a point to bunch up the rug against the door to sop up some of the water.

"Hmm… any specifics about the squeep? Red? Blue? Aquatic or arboreal?" The wolf asks.

Jaundice leans forward to Mort again. "RED. LEFT-HANDED."

Jaundice speaks in slow, loud, clear syllables.

The wolf brightens. "Ah yes!" He scratches his head a bit more. "I remember now… "

Jaundice does some of his own brightening. . o O { This is it, he's going to Tell us… }

Fenter nonchalantly walks behind Envoy. He's not hiding behind her… nope. It's just that the room is so interesting in this particular place.

Envoy swishes her tail. She's finally going to find out what a squeep is…

"There's no such thing," the wolf finally replies.

Envoy's tail droops.

Jaundice's face drops. "WHAT?"

The wolf nods. "I'm quite sure. No such thing. Never existed. Silly notion."

Jaundice holds his hand to his forehead, lurching forward. "I need to sit down… "

Envoy says, "Well, that should make things much easier."

Jaundice lets his legs give way, and flumps down on the floor next to the wizened wolf. "Not if my teacher told me to get one. What am I going to Tell her? That it doesn't exist?"

Fenter says, "Bah… now why would her grace send us to find a nonexistent animal. Hmmph… we should have gone to ask my uncle instead."

Jaundice waves his hands. "And even if I did tell her that, how would I prove it?"

Fenter yells at the old wolf. "YOU'RE CRAZY!"

Jaundice stares up at Fenter, sputtering. "You're one to talk!"

"Daisies? Oh… flowers would definitely brighten up the the room, I agree." The Jupani says happily.

Jaundice hefts himself to his feet, shaking his head. He walks straight into Fenter, pushing him in the direction of the door, then moving to his side and heading out himself. "We're leaving."

Jaundice looks at Envoy, and waves to her. "Say goodbye, Envoy."

Fenter blinks? "What? *YOU* ask *ME* to bring you to someone that might help, I do so… and THIS is the gratitude you show me?"

Fenter folds up his arms and does not move.

Envoy says, "Goodbye?"

Jaundice sets his jaw, then stands back to face Fenter. "You want to talk about this outside?" He folds up his arms likewise, staring Fenter right into those beady masked eyes.

The wolf scratches his chin a bit more. "Squeep… hrrm… "

Envoy blinks. She still doesn't see what the problem is.

Jaundice pays the wolf no mind. "He just told us there's no such thing as a squeep. Right now, I may have to consider the possibility he's correct."

Jaundice pokes Fenter in the chest. "But I can do that outside. Now let's go."

Fenter looks at the ceiling. "Not until you say you're sorry… "

Fenter whistles to himself.

Jaundice sputters, backing up a few steps. "Sorry? What have I got to be sorry about?"

The Jupani continues to mutter to himself. "Red… squeep… left… bazaar… hrrrm… pickles… "

Envoy calls back to Mort, "What about a left-handed squeep in a color other than red?"

Fenter sniffs. "You asked me for help, I provide it… then you accuse me of being crazy. No gratitude."

The Jupani looks lazily at Envoy, he appears to be in the verge of falling asleep. "Squeep… plumbing… wibble… kavi… cookie… turquoise… bazaar… " And other incoherent mumbling.

Fenter glances over his shoulder, . o O ( Bazaar? )

Jaundice stares back with a hangdog expression. His hands begin to shake slightly, and he brings one to the other to calm them. He breaks eye contact, fighting to control his thoughts.

Jaundice opens his mouth, as if to speak, but nothing comes of it. Apparently the idea of having to apologize in this situation is something difficult to manage.

Envoy puts a hand on Jaundice's shoulder, and asks, "Are you alright, Pe'er?"

Fenter glances back at Mort.

Jaundice shows no sign of awareness as to Envoy's hand. He continues to stare at Fenter, raising a hand level to the raccoon's face… and pointing a finger.

Mort snores rather loudly. "… left… wash… kavi… bazaar… squeep… " he burbles in his sleep.

Envoy suggests, "You could try the Bazaar. There may be a kavi who sells plumbing supplies that has squeeps."

Fenter backs away from Jaundice a bit. "Here now! I'm only trying to help." He accidentally bumps into Mort's chair, sending the wolf bolt upright.

"SQUEEP! KAVI! PLUMBING!!" the wolf barks loudly! Then promptly falls asleep again.

Fenter jumps at the noise.

Jaundice blinks as Mort shouts. He closes his eyes and takes a breath, lowering his hand and trying to clear what could have been… shudder frustration.

Fenter blinks at the wolf. "Eherm… perhaps it would be a good idea to move along outside. I think it's time for Mort's nappy-poo." He also glances nervously at the growing puddle of water near the bathroom door.

Envoy wonders why Fenter is so jumpy now. Perhaps it is in the nature of raccoons.

"Squeep… " the wolf wheezes between snores.

Jaundice gives his head a shake, looking up at Fenter. "Good. Thank you." He pads solidly out through the open door, not bothering to look back.

Envoy follows the Hekoye.

Fenter gingerly closes the door behind the group and bustles out as quickly as he can.

The threesome walk a good distance away from the decrepit building and finally into a park. The scenery is much cleaner and a great deal more quiet. The only noise seems to come from quietly chatting couples meandering down the twisted paths and the songs of Creens overhead.

Fenter plops down on a park bench. "Well… any ideas for what to do now?"

Envoy says, "It appears that a squeep may be a plumbing element, like a washer."

Jaundice sighs, shaking his arms out from under his poncho. "It could be anything… " He looks up at Envoy, considering what she said.

Jaundice says, "We only assumed it was an animal because of the 'left-handed' description… we've been assuming it was an animal with hands."

Envoy says, "Right-handed and left-handed are terms often used to describe thread orientation on pipe fittings or tools also."

Jaundice nods. "That's what I was thinking."

Fenter rubs his nose absently. "I don't believe I've ever seen small creatures used to clean pipes before."

Envoy blinks at Fenter. "Haven't you heard of a plumber's snake?"

Jaundice turns back to Fenter. "Doesn't matter. If we can find a plumber, he would know for sure."

Envoy says, "You could go to the Bazaar and shout, 'Who can sell me a squeep?'"

Fenter grins at Envoy. "That just might work. Although… "

Jaundice says, "… although what?"

Envoy says, "Is there a Plumbers' Guild building in Rephidim?"

Fenter turns to Jaundice, "Did her worship say anything about the condition the squeep had to be in? Most of the goods in the Bazaar are a bit substandard."

Jaundice says, "Don't think so. So long as it's red and left-handed, I think I can turn it in for credit."

Envoy says, "Shouldn't Credit turn it in himself?"

Jaundice opens his mouth as if to explain for Envoy, then just shakes his head.

Fenter says, "Well then… perhaps we should head to the Bazaar?" He rises from the bench. "If it's to be found anywhere in Rephidim, it shall be in there."

Envoy follows along, dolphin-grinning as usual.

Jaundice sighs, shaking his head. "Makes sense." He wanders in the general direction of the Bazaar.


GMed by Zoltan

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