As the sun set over Grantbrugge, Panama sat on top of his boarding house playing cards.

His room was on the top floor of a barely standing house far from the centre of town, it had been the only thing he could afford when he arrived almost three months ago, and it was the only thing he could afford now, really.

It was probably not going to be his much longer. With one thing or another.

An ace, a five, a four, a queen. Queen and Ace, exposing a five and a nine.

Four months ago he had woken up (New Years Day, he realised a lot later) in a ditch somewhere to the north. Advice, luck and a bit of magic had brought him to Grantbrugge, a place of knowledge. Knowledge was the key, and worth far more than the paper shillings his employers handed out on occasion. Knowledge absent (How had he lost his memory? When had he fallen in the ditch? Why?), Knowledge gained (Creatures of the dreaming. Facinating, but could now wait for futher study until after they stopped being able to almost kill him), Knowledge that was just _there_ (The dreaming. That was the key to the curse).

Knowledge of the curse.

The four and the nine left, exposing the the first overturned card, which was a… Three – damn – and a Jack.

The thing that had scrambled his brain, leaving him mangling every sentance he tried to speak, had been traced. The way to bring it back was geomancy – an art he knew a little of – but that would require a lot of research, an agreement with a couple of high powers in the city, and a litle luck. It would also require the uninturrupted use of the Nexus for a little while, which was a considerable thing to ask since…

Five, five, three, jack. Nothing. Another level and ace, seven, six, seven. Which seven?. What had been under there? Damnit. Six, Seven. Right. Ace five three seven. Nothing.

He’d seen it coming. If you form an army, you get a war. And a war they now had, he had seen them, his friends – or the closest thing he had to them in this twisted city – against what was percieved as the law-keepers of the city.

They had defeated the Children of the Light, eventually. Then they had patched them up, and those of the bar who had needed healing. And then…

…and then those damned creatures had started taking bandages *off* the Children, and people had started *squabbling* whilst others bled to death. He had helped – after the fight was over. He picked up what had turned out to be the leader – she was closest to the door – and as they were deciding who would take which bodies had carried her to the Ishmundi.

And now he had the wonderful oppertunity to find out what happens to a person when someone dies in his arms.

Nine, Seven, King, Ten, Take king, so Three. Three and ten, so Overturn, and six. Six and seven, leaving a gap, and another six, so Six and seven again, leaving another gap, and that’s eight. So two and jack. leaving two gaps.

They had taken his name and, after a while of him trying to explain, his address. He hadn’t done anything, hadn’t participated in the fight, but he had carried a dead child of the light though the streets. If he had waited, maybe one of the Johnites could have applied more bandages.

Four and queen, taking both the nine and the ace behind it, nice. The upturned card is an eight, three cards left in hand.

But if he’d waited, she might have died anyway. No way to change the past.

Or know it.

Eight and five cancels. One overturn and a clear board.

What was the right thing to do? Stay angry at Zak for casting the first stone? Lucie didn’t deserve to be arrested. Though staying angry at Zak for taking bandages off the CotL – they were misguided, not evil – seems fair. On top of that… display of impatience at the bridge with the bandits.

Ace, Queen, King. King out, Ace and Queen cancels.

Like it or not, he was was involved now, and in his current state was almost entirely defenseless. What could he do? Trip people to death?

No. Something more… dramatic. They want light? Light they will get.

Overturned was the last king, obviously.

Panama packed up his deck and decided to go to the Wessex.

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