"They are keeping it from you!" The screams of the clanless echoed around the marketplace, loud enough to be obvious even over the sound of the merchants and their patrons. He crouched in the corner, green lion's mane grown ragged and wild. For a moment he panted heavily, as though the shout had cost him dearly, before he opened his mouth to cry an obscure warning once more, that was just as inevitably to be ignored. The people in the market did their best to ignore him, despite his attempts to garner their attention. As long as he stayed in his corner it wasn't all that hard of a task. But when he got up, began to try and tug at the coats of the people around him, they fled before him or turned aggressive and pushed and shoved him back into his corner. In a world where no person could guarantee where they would be spending the night, or what possessions they would have except for those things they kept on themselves, there were very few things taken for granted. But one thing that all people knew was that the clanless were mad. Whatever it was about being adrift in this shifting world without the support of a clan that caused it, it was as close to a guarantee as the people of this world could find. The only people who were considered even crazier than the clanless were those who would willingly allow themselves to be led somewhere by the clanless. After all, everyone knew that was the quickest way to die. Unless, of course, you had nothing to fear from death. When the distant shout first reached his ears Marek came to a sudden halt, the feathers on his back riffling, thus forcing his companion to come to a stop as well. Miroslav turned around, his irritation obvious despite the fact that his milky eyes were covered in a white cloth. The place they had been trying to get to for a good chunk of the morning, the place that had vanished from right in front of them three times now as the tiles had shifted before they could reach it, was once more within reach. Marek didn't care. That place meant nothing to him, and the fact that both his and Miroslav's combined will had not been enough to bring them to the place said something in and of itself. "Come on," Marek said, expression and posture making it clear that he would brook no argument. He had always believed that finding the source of any disturbance that was near enough to draw his attention was a worthwhile endeavor, wherever that might lead him. It had been a practice that had served him well over the course of his long life, because as often as not it was his own distant will that had brought him to the location. Marek turned away down a random street, listening for another shout, and Miroslav fell into step behind him, moth's antennae vibrating. The streets were simple, hard packed dirt, following along the cracks between the tiles. More than once in the past some confident individual, usually from the Cerebral or the Temporal, would come in and try and lay down a material to pave the streets and allow for easier travel. It never worked, because the shifting of the tiles would cause the road to bend and straighten continuously, and no material that had yet been found could tolerate that kind of change without breaking itself. Many people chose to make up for it on the tiles, with intricate stone and wood houses and neatly tended yards. Each of the clans had their own unique flair that they would add to the tiles, not to mention the bright colors and intricate symbols that would also mark their possession. It had a combined effect to make the street a riot of color, with no rhyme or reason because no house could be built to compliment it’s ever changing neighbors. Marek's bet quickly paid off. Even though the shout came from a different direction every time it came, it also got steadily louder and louder as they wound their way through the narrow streets, their goal clearly held in their minds. Never once did the sound vanish completely, and after only about five minutes, compared to the hours they had spent trying to get to their previous destination, the brightly colored fabric of a multi-clan market came into view. Miroslav and Marek quickly stepped onto the cobblestone market tile before it could disappear, slipping in among the mingling people. Even in a multi-clan market, the different clans still separated, with very little mingling. The Synergist, as per usual in most multi-clan markets, had the largest representation, covering a good third of the tile in the honey yellow that was their color, each stall also marked with the runic teardrop that represented their clan. As a matter of fact, the only one of the major clans that wasn't represented was the forest green of the Cerebral. Even Miroslav's former clan, the Dominant, was represented, although their pastel blue canopy only graced two stalls. "They are keeping secrets, and they'll let you all die before letting you have them! All of you!" Marek smiled. This sounded promising. It had been so long since he had found a new lead to pursue. Hopefully this one would end better. Marek's form was not the most physically intimidating on the tile, that honor belonged to the muscle bound hulk with curving bulls horns that was selling fresh vegetables under a wine red banner, and was glowering at everyone who dared shop at the similar stand just across the way, that only difference being its earthy orange canopy. Nonetheless, the crowd still parted for the red-haired man, unconsciously separating for his quiet power. Miroslav clung close behind him, riding in the wake of his passage before the crowd could fill back in. They found the screaming man on the far side of the market, hiding behind a yellow cart stocked to the brim with dates and other dried fruit. The shopkeeper glared at the clanless man, as it was clear his antics had driven away all his customers. Indeed, the moment Marek drew close the clanless lunged at him, halting scant inches from a collision. "Listen!" he bellowed. "Listen to me!" "Alright," Marek agreed calmly, not stepping back from the man even though his smell was more than enough to drive anyone away. Marek's response seemed to take the clanless by surprise. He stumbled back, panting heavily. His tongue lolled out of his mouth like a dog, revealing once sharp teeth that seemed to have been ground to nothing more than nubs. The shopkeeper watched this interaction with some surprise. "Come?" the clanless asked curiously. Marek nodded, and the shopkeeper's surprise quickly turned to disgust, mixed with a pinch of relief that the madman would finally be leaving, and some customers might return. The clanless turned, quickly scampering off the tile and into another narrow street, with Marek and Miroslav following closely behind. It was uncertain what exactly the clanless was looking for, because he came to a halt on a street corner that seemed identical to countless others they had passed. Marek did not question it, and once more stepped up to the green-maned man, waiting for him to speak. The clanless, though, only grabbed at the small stone amulet around his chest, clearly broken and carrying nothing but his own personal symbol, rather than the house and clan symbol that would normally accompany the personal symbol of the non-exiled. He shoved it into his mouth, biting down with a harsh grating sound that caused Marek to wince. At least now he knew what had happened to the man's teeth. "They're liars." "Who is?" But the clanless seemed to have forgotten what he was saying. The street shifted, sending the tile with a simple yellow house to somewhere else within the city, while, just further down the block, a rich green house came into being. The clanless tugged at his hair, whining faintly, before turning and racing away. Miroslav raised an eyebrow. Marek's only response was to sigh and shrug his shoulders. They chased after. He finally came to a halt on seemingly another random corner, panting heavily. At the very least, the clanless' strange actions confirmed this was not a trap to lead two unusually friendly strangers to their death. "Easy," Marek said softly, like he was talking to some angry stray. "Tell us what you have to say." The clanless looked around furtively, before he began to babble. "They tried to keep me away, but I was too clever for them. Oh, yes, far too clever. They didn't want me to know but I found out anyways." "What did you find?" "Pages!" The clanless laughed maniacally. "Pages and pages of pages, covered in scribbles. I didn't think much of it, didn't think it was important, but when they found out I knew they got rid of poor Goren. Then I knew it was important." "Who got rid of you?" "Them! The meanie sheanie greenies." Marek's brow bent in confusion, before things suddenly clicked. It wasn't a coincidence that the clanless had gone to one of only a few multi-clan markets that represented every clan but the Cerebral. Nor was it a coincidence that he had fled as soon as a Cerebral house had appeared on the street. The clanless was utterly terrified of them, and there was only one good explanation for why. That was the clan he had been a part of before his exile. "Pages?" Marek asked, trying to prompt the man further. Why would the Cerebrals care about protecting pages? "Pages and pages and pages. Covered in tiny little lines all over, but no words. No words. Just little inkwells and lines and lines." Inkwells? The clanless was speaking gibberish. Marek sighed in frustration. "This was an utter waste of time," he muttered, turning away indignantly. "No! Everyone must know." The clanless lunged for Marek, clearly intending to grab him and force him to listen. Marek whirled, slashing wildly with the sharp horns on the outside of his forearm, causing the clanless to fall back or risk being cut open. He whimpered, before turning and scurrying away, head bent low. "Come on," Marek muttered. "Let's get out of here." They walked in silence for many minutes, winding absentmindedly through the streets with no real destination in mind. Marek came to a halt again as he rounded another corner, seeing a well in the center of the street. It was a simple place, containing nothing but several buckets, a few benches to allow people to sit and talk during hot weather, and the pump well itself. He sat down on one of the benches before turning and pumping up some water into a shallow wood bucket. He dumped the freezing water over his head, soaking the simple brown tunic he wore and causing it to plaster to his chest. Marek had hoped the shock would relieve his sense of disappointment. By this point Marek should have gotten used to failure, but he and Miroslav had been drifting for so long now that Marek would have sworn that clanless should have guided him to a new lead, a new possibility. Instead, all he had done was babble about lines and inkwells. "Oh." Now that he knew it, the answer was so obvious. The clanless hadn't meant inkwells but ink wells, or rather, drawings of wells on paper. And wells and lines could only mean one thing. "They kept the maps."