Note: This follows on from the events of The Final Straw - if you haven't already, read that first.
"Why not go to San Francisco? It's great this time of year."
That's the last time I ever listened to Honi's advice on where to go. Fragging tourists everywhere, the place stinks of humans and I can barely see 10 metres in front of me due to all the goddamn fog! I love Honi to bits, but the damn Amerind really doesn't know this continent as well as she makes out. The twins, Chinua and Larentia, came with me but right now are off doing their own thing. Which probably means they want some privacy for a bit. Understandable, the pack can be a rough environment. Still, they've promised to meet up with me later so that we can browse some of the tech districts.
Somehow, despite the assault on my senses, I manage to find my way to a small shop that looks like a talismonger. I duck and dive through the tourists, barely avoiding crashing into a burly troll that seems to appear out of nowhere at the last minute. How these people manage to live here I'll never understand! Stepping inside, my nose and ears thank me profusely. The stink of metahumanity is replaced with the strong but pleasant scent of burning incense - without the usual burning wood that accompanies it. The owner of this place must be burning dhoop - a concentrated incense without the usual bamboo stick in the middle. The din of conversation from outside dulls as the door closes.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I scent the occupants - it doesn't seem like any customers have come inside today, bar myself. There's only one occupant, a female ork who smells strongly of spices and this same incense. I look around and spot her standing behind the counter. She's an Oni, a Japanese metavariant of orks which have blue skin. She smiles as I meet her eye.
"Rose dhoop. Not just normal incense. From Gujurat?"
"Unsurprisingly, the wolf has a keen nose." Her voice reminds me of dripping honey covered with fog. Suitable, considering the city we're in.
"You're projecting? I couldn't tell."
"Sadly, no. I have no special skill, I just have a friend to help me out."
As she says this, she motions to a side table that I hadn't noticed. On it lies a small, furry creature. Red eyes, long ears like a rabbit and two tails. I've never seen a creature like this before, and surprisingly it doesn't smell of anything. It looks a bit like a ferret.
"He calls himself Gacatar. He's a free spirit." Which explains why I couldn't smell him.
"That makes sense, I guess. I'm not good at this whole magic thing, vehicles are my jam."
"You're here seeking a refuge, I know. Gacatar can see the stress in your aura. You are welcome to rest here as long as you wish." She motions to an old but comfortable-looking sofa in one corner of the room.
"Oh, thank you, I really appreciate it." I curl up on the sofa, sinking into it. "It's so much more comfortable here than outside. I could just fall asle..."
Before I can finish, I've already drifted off.