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ATEE: Partners in Crime *Me (That Guy) and Alex64*

Alex64

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Ellie stood, brushing some sand from her clothes, and began to follow him down, though due to her high heels and therefore different stance, she slid, and so settled for sliding her way down to the bottom of the dune.
 

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He stopped to watch her pass, and, with a shrug, formed a disc of psychic energy at his feet, and rode it down after her.

The town didn't really have a formal entrance beyond a humble stone arch-like structure connecting the two outermost buildings, over the street that was formed between them. From here, it didn't seem to be hostile, unless one counted the climate, and even that became comparatively liveable after a few minutes of exposure.
 

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"Now... where is it we should start?" Ellie murmured, scanning about.
 

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"Stop me if I'm assuming too much, but, touristy or not, towns like these always tend to have a central...social space...thing, in the form of a cute little marketplace, or something." He caught himself after that choice of words. "...Ooph. And stop me if I start talking too much like Middy-- how's he been doing, by the way? ...If you don't mind my asking at a time like this."
 

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"He's doing well. He's met our version of Knuckles, and they've started dating. It isn't easy for him, and I doubt it'll get any better once Herbert succeeds the throne, but Middy's happy, so that's all that matters for now."
 

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"Aww, that's..." He took a moment to fully contemplate that mental image as he started to head down the street. "...That's actually adorable. Well, let him know I said hi when we're done, here."
 

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"That I shall."
At the end of the street was what Ellie assumed was a plaza. She could see some market-stalls in one corner, a fountain in the middle, and, in another direction, a path to what appeared to be a grand palace of sorts.
 

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"This looks pretty promising. Quiet, but not dead." He inclined his head, observing the scene as a whole, then settling his gaze on the stalls. "So, even if it's somehow completely taboo to ask questions of any kind here, at least it won't be a total social disaster."
 

Alex64

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"...That does beg the question, though... Is English even commonly spoken around here?"
 

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"If it's not, I'd wager that isn't much of an issue, but...well, we can hope." With all the confidence of someone acclimatised to social interactions out of necessity more than choice, he earmarked a stall, and tried, "مرحبا..؟"
"Good morning!" the stallholder replied with oblivious su--

"Hold on just a second. How did you do that?" Rex interrupts without a single concern for the continued fluidity of the narrative.
"Give me half a chance; the book does a fine job explaining--"
"No, I mean-- the text you're reading right now is in Arabic, right? How can you tell not to translate what story-you just said? How does it show that that's supposed to be a different foreign from everything else, but the same foreign as the actual text?"
Rex's father awards him a blank stare.
"...We're talking about a magic book that wrote itself, here, and, besides, I was there for this, so I can verify. Good enough?"
"Hmph."
"...Alrighty, then. So, as I was saying..."

"Good morning!" the stallholder replied with oblivious sunniness, as if he couldn't even distinguish between that greeting and his own tongue. "I presume, by your attire, that you're lost travellers, more interested in directions than buying spices?"
"That's, uh...pleasantly perceptive of you. Does this happen a lot?"
"Often enough. Head down that middle street, there." He leaned forwards to gesture, then back into his stall. "You'll know when you find him."
"Him?"
"An outsider who moved into our town quite some time ago, and has done a remarkable job integrating. If there's anything you need to know, as a tourist, he's the one to speak to. And I've never seen anyone who looks quite like him before or since."
"...Thanks, I guess?"
And so he left the stallholder to himself, and returned to relay the news to Ellie.
 

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"Another outsider...?" Ellie remarked, raising her eyebrows in surprise. "Well! I wonder who he might be."
 

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"A professional outsider, by the sound of it. ...Not that that narrows it down, really."
They started down the street in question, which took a slow curve to the right.

"...Can I just point out, that's true, but I have no idea why the book specifies that. It never really comes into play for anything. But, yes, slow curve to the right..."

"You know, come to think of it, I really should have asked for a name, or something." He shook his head. "I must have panicked. On the plus side, they seem to understand English here perfectly fine, so I won't have to translate everything for you."
 

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"That's good... The stallholder said we'd know when we saw the man, yes? Then he must stand out enough from the other citizens."
 

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"How so, though? I mean, how different do you have to be for someone around here to-- oh."
Evidently, he had noticed a rather strong candidate for their target dead ahead.
 

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Said candidate was a muscular red echidna who bore a passing resemblance to Knuckles; his long, spiky dreadlocks pointed back and down, save for two loose locks hanging over his forehead, he had white tribal markings along his arms, chest, and forehead, white gloves with two spikes on the knuckles, a white crescent mark on his chest, a red gem hanging from his neck, black tear-shaped markings under his purple eyes, and blue anklets over a pair of sandals.
Noticing them, the echidna remarked, "I was told to expect outsiders in the near-future. I assume you are them?"
 

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"Yes, that is...That is us."
Few words came readily to mind at the sight of him--

"--and I'd just like to take a moment to highlight that that's because he was an echidna-- and not just any echidna, either, but we'll get to that in a moment-- and not because of...anything this choice of wording might try to imply."
"If you thought he was hot, just f*cking come out and say it," Rex tuts. "It's the 2030s; nobody gives a shit."
Rex's father clears his throat, and completely ignores Rex's input.
"Anyway, where did I get up to..?"
 

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"This is Midnight Prower," Ellie introduced, "and I am Princess Elliana Tsukiko Blaze." She gave a small curtsy. "You may refer to me as Ellie."
"They call me Rakuryu. I was once a member of the Echidna Tribe of Hazaeia, until I and a select few others were sent here after the war... Tell me, would you happen to know how long it has been since then?"
 

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"...Huh. That does explain a fair bit." Midnight shook his head, refocusing. "At this point...At least, from our point of view, over 2,000 years. But if you're really the Rakuryu from the legends, I'm guessing the usual laws of time don't apply here..?"
 

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"Alas, I can no longer tell how long it has been. After long enough, time begins to lose meaning in this place."
"Speakng of... Would you know where we are?" Ellie asked.
"This town is called Al-Shahryar among the locals, and this world is the World of the One Thousand and One Nights... also known as Arabia."
 

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"Ah, so that'll be why we can all understand each other perfectly fine."

"Seriously? Nobody could be that well-adjusted! How are you just so...okay with finding out you've been shoved into a book of old fairy-tales?!"
"Eh. I've gone through stranger things than that."
 
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