when the dreaming doesn't end

The Tapir
The Tapir blinked grey-green eyes, peering through the spiderweb cataracts at the young boy. With a long-suffering sigh, the small human explained the situation to him; the Tapir stroked his bare chin as if touching a beard and nodded subtly as he filed the information away.

"This is very helpful," he said earnestly. Pulling an apple pilfered from the market, Rede wiped it clean on the front of his chest before offering it to the other boy. Food was the preferred payment for information, after all. Surely this place wasn't so uncivilized that they didn't understand such a basic courtesy!

"Story book," The Tapir repeated curiously. He snapped his fingers in sudden realization. "Ah yes! I have seen those in Inari's library. She is most protective of them, so I've never been able to touch. Not that I'm afraid of her."

He blinked thoughtfully again as Loholt continued. "I don't have a home," he said, with all the nonchalance of someone discussing the weather. "Perhaps I will work here. Are there any vacancies, future ruler of this domicile?"

"Ahhh, a dog. Nice to meet you, Mort Dog," he said to the familiar, bowing in his direction.

"Oh, am I?" Rede paused to consider this. He squinted at Loholt. "Is it bad to be very strange?"

"Yes and maybe!" he replied delightedly. "A tapir is like this!"

Setting his jar down - and sloshing the water around in the process - the Tapir's form changed. He stood as a baby tapir, wiggling his nose for a moment before returning to normal.

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