Rising from the center of Blackshire Swamp is a single tower, oddly constructed so that what was probably once a window is now a doorway leading out to a wooden dock. By the way the dock hangs out over the water, and by the water lines on the stonework, it would seem that the ten-foot clearance between dock and water is not part of the design. A few ropes dangle down from the dock, a wooden barge is tethered to the base of the tower, and the water-rotted wood of the dock itself just might break off if anyone is foolish enough to go and stand on the very end of it.
At the top of the tower is a parapet that forms a room, with a conical roof, each window housing a telescope that gazes off in each of the compass directions. At the base of the tower, pipes rise from the water here and there, and the top of a submerged castle wall can be barely seen just beneath the water's surface.
Some time has passed since Jynx's triumphant return from defeating Bakula and restoring the broken crystal whatever-it-was in the crater. The foppish fox was the first to spread the news around though, to his credit, at least he had the sense not to go telling everyone that Schoolmaster Bookman was one and the same with this bloodsucking monster. After all, it would seem that the old Schoolmaster had done quite well at endearing himself to the locals, and surely none would ever think him capable of such heinous acts. Being so secluded from the rest of the world, his odd behavior didn't seem so odd, the villagers not having so much "normal" to compare it to, after all.
Grandmother Martinette was fairly delighted with Jynx's accomplishments … and especially his success in winning points with the locals. Such was their enthusiasm that the old statue of Duke Kurai in the Fountain Square was cleaned off and polished up, and the fountain even worked for a short while until the pipes got blocked again.
Alas, Ysnor has mysteriously vanished, and the people have considered Schoolmaster Bookman to be a casualty of Bakula as well revenge, no doubt, for Bookman's sage advice that allowed Jynx to defeat the monster.
It's still dreary Sylvania, but the sun has actually come out of the clouds on occasion, and maybe it hasn't been raining quite as much. No fluffy terrors have assaulted anyone recently, and it appears that the forest animals have gotten to be as normal as could be expected of such strange little mockeries of sapient species. Just in case, however, Grandmother Martinette has been positively relentless in her training of Jynx in the ways of unarmed combat. After all … as she keeps reminding Jynx, she isn't there to stay. And, today, it looks like she's making good on it, as she oversees the moving of the last of her baggage from the wooden dock down to the bobbing barge that will take her to the village.
"But where do you plan to go?" asks the black Khatta, helping to haul some of his grandmother's bags. "Not back to that old tower?"
The foppish fox occasionally "helps" with the baggage … not really doing a bit more than to lean over and touch what's being carried, as if he's aiding with the load, but not actually helping in the least bit.
Grandmother Martinette shakes her head. "Now, don't worry your precious head about me, dearie. I'll get along just fine! You be sure and take good care of your castle! I wouldn't want to hear that you've gotten lazy and started leaving dirty clothes scattered about the floor, or that you've let the moat run dry." She winks.
Jynx gives a sheepish grin. "Well, I'll try. I guess I should invite Dominic and Mom down here someday, to give a tour and all… " The black Khatta's voice falls silent, and he looks to the ground.
Grandmother sighs and lightly scruffs Jynx's cheek. "Now, now. Don't let such things get you down. Someday, they'll see reason, and come pay you a visit. Just … don't mention that dear Grandmother Martinette helped with any of the tidying up, promise?"
A big Rhian helps lower a trunk into the barge. "That's the last of it, Mistress. We should have ample supplies for the trip to Northern Shore, and arrangements are clear for the airship ride from there."
The black Khatta gives a small smile up at Martinette, "I will." The Khatta keeps a shy gaze on the ground, then moves forward slowly to the lioness, giving her a kittenish embrace. "You be careful, o-on your way back and all… "
Martinette's eyes soften for a bit, and she purrs quietly as she hugs Jynx back. "I'll be fine, Feli. You just take care of yourself, and don't trouble yourself a bit about me."
Jynx just nods, holding the hug for a small time. He then lets go, and after a few awkward moments of silence, continues to load the baggage. "You'd better hurry if you're going to catch an airship before nightfall."
Martinette laughs. "Now, dearie, the ride to Northern Shore is just a tad bit longer than that. I'd invite you along to see me off, if it weren't for all the business I'd be distracting you from. Now then … take care!"
Two Rhians rig up what looks all the world like some sort of a sling for Grandmother Martinette to sit in, as they lower her down to the barge. Yes, the water level is most certainly lower than it was before, considering the ten foot drop off the side of the dock to the barge below. This is going to make docking a bit of a hassle, for sure.
"Yeah… business." The black Khatta waves a paw to the old lioness. "Be careful! And be sure to visit Eve, for what it's worth!"
The last of Martinette's lackeys get on board the barge, untie the ropes, and shove off from the dock. Martinette stands in the barge, looking back the whole way … until her form slowly becomes more hazy with the light mist that still clings to the waters of the swamp.
"Bye bye!" chimes in the foppish fox. "Don't take any wooden shekels!"
More quietly, the fox sighs as he confides, "I shall deeply miss her cooking."
The fox hmms, and ponders. "I know! Why don't you get married to someone who can cook really well?"
Jynx watches the barge dissolve off into the distance, then turns back to the castle, heading for the door. "Yeah, I'll be sure to remember to do that." He stops at the door, "Well? You gonna stand outside all day?"
The foppish fox ponders this. "Hmmm … tempting, but perhaps not. I think I'll go sing with the Mewses for a while!" He skips up to the door, the rickety wood of the dock shaking ominously with each step. But, he stops right at the door. "You know … I'm really going to miss Ysnor. It was nice to have a lackey about the castle." He snaps his fingers. "Make sure you marry a girl who comes with her own lackey, too!" And then he zips inside the door, leaving Jynx alone on the suspended dock.
The Khatta just rolls his eyes at the marriage talk, as he does with much of what the fox says, and heads back into the castle. A grimace comes to his face as he is reminded of Ysnor, along with the guilt he feels. "Perhaps we should have a memorial service for the old Skreek. I mean, he was a good guy… "
The Khatta then pauses, looking at the second wooden barge at the dock, and off in the direction of Martinette's departure. He has a thoughtful look on his face, as he ponders just how long of a journey it is to Northern Shore after all…