The story so far:
I climbed through the window into the bushes where the monkey had found me. There was my pack, just where I had left it and I stowed the map in a front pocket. After a cautious look through the bushes, I stepped out and headed toward the brightest lights. I passed the door of an inn. Some good food smells were wafting out, but it was so very noisy and busy. Somehow I had to get some more information about this place without running afoul of any more unlikely denizens. There looked to be another inn or gathering place of some sort at the other end of the street so I started that way.
As I passed a variety of shops and businesses, most of them closed and dark, I noticed what looked like a bookstore with a few lights shining inside. In the window, was a tumble of dusty-looking books and a faded sign saying “GO AWAY”. I hesitated briefly, but the door was ajar and I walked in. The interior was lighted, but dimly, by candles burning in sconces on the walls and I stood, looking around for the proprietor.
“Can you read,” spoke a voice from the shadows?
“Of course,” I replied, “What else would I be doing in a bookstore?”
“Then you must be remarkably stupid,” the voice continued, “because ‘go away’ is a pretty simple concept.”
Hot words sprang to my tongue, but before they could escape, a figure shuffled into the light. I don’t know how to tell you why I felt so threatened, because, on the surface there was nothing really frightening. He was an average height with a slight stoop, probably from hanging over many books. His build held muscle, but it looked unused, his age was indeterminate and his dark hair was flecked with silver. Then I looked into his eyes. Something there sent a chill down my spine and when he smiled, I could feel my name appearing on the endangered species list.
“Stop gaping and spit it out. You’re in, now, so what do you want?”
“Uh,” I had to think for a second and stumbled over my words. “Something that’ll explain a bit about this place – history – news – anything??”
“I think I have just what you need.” That smile again, oh man!
He turned to gaze at a disorganized looking bookshelf and then he reached up and pulled out a leather-bound book. Turning back, he held it out to me.
“This will keep you occupied,” he said “and if it doesn’t, go somewhere else to complain.” With that, his ungentle hand, at my back, guided me to the door, through it and into the street. I turned to say something about payment, but the door was closing. He was muttering something about “- - think you’re confused NOW - - “ as the door lock clunked.
I stood there, a bit shocked, for a moment, then moved to a street lamp to examine my prize. What a strange cover! The soft red leather was embossed with a weird combination of gold-edged, black lightning streaks, purple explosions, assorted body parts, pink and yellow roses and a pile of odd green blobs. Tiny bits of glitter seemed embedded over all. Across the center were the words THE LAND THAT IS NOT A Visitor's Guide. Wow, if the cover was any indication, this thing could get me into more trouble than guide me.