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Perhaps its this Silverymoon mead, or perhaps it is simply the after-effects of months spent in the aberrants’ captivity, but once again I find myself having the strangest dreams.

This time, I’m in Sixteen String Jack’s having a pint or six with Uncle Reggie’s gnomish accountant, Rory McNumbers. This in itself is a bit strange, since Rory left Waterdeep some years ago, after developing a system for playing “Paladins In the Pit” that broke the bank at the Golden Moon Casino. Apparently, Khraz Cheapaxe, the casino’s irritable and tight-fisted dwarven owner, was more than a little perturbed at Rory’s mathematical skills. Consequently, he hired some dark elf assassins to make sure his technique didn’t become more widely known. Having successfully dodged one poison-tipped crossbow bolt, Rory wisely vanished from sight. The gnome is reputed to now be enjoying his retirement raising racing-badgers on a small private island that somewhere off the coast of Lantan, all purchased with his winnings.

Anyway, that’s not the strange part of it. In the dream, Rory and I are discussing Shen. Our brave monk has been much on my mind as of late, as we all wrestle with the thorny moral dilemma of how best to bring him back from the lands of the departed, and whether such expenditures as this would require on his behalf would violate the monk’s solemn vow of poverty. Why Rory would care, I don’t know, since he was never a big fan of poverty–but dreams are like that.

“Aye lad, ‘e sounds to me like a valuable asset,” says Rory, blowing smoke-rings from his pipe in the shape of small gold pieces, “and one who benefits well his shareholders.” Shen doesn’t have shareholders, of course, but I imagine Rory is talking here either of the poor and orphans that the good monk cares for, or his slightly bizarre, somewhat divine origins which make no sense to me in any case and I generally prefer not to think about. “And with a valuable asset, you’ve got to nourish it, and think long term. There’s no point letting its earning potential decline because you’ve failed to maintain its productivity.”

Increasingly I’m confused by his words, but confident that he’s talking about Shen, since–again, in the dream–the gnome’s unruly green hair is slowly being replaced by a bald pate. A few swigs of Gilmour’s Gilded Green-Apple Ale does nothing to alleviate the confusion. Quite to the contrary, large dancing cheese-wheels start to appear on the table—a rather bizarre phenomenon that I attribute to Prof. Sniddle once more injecting himself into my subconscious. Sure enough, one thought of a cat and they all disappear.

“So you’re saying… umm…?” I imbibe more ale, in search of greater moral clarity.

“You need to think of more of sustainability and future value, lad, and less of opportunity cost or the fungability of scarce financial resources,” the gnome responds, nodding. The ever-growing cloud of smoke-rings around him now increasingly resemble a huge grey city, perched between the life and death, its very walls made of lost souls… or possibly, of fine aged brie. I think once more of cats.

“Of.. ermm.. what?” I can’t remember being so confused since mom explained that the storks are just storks. The constant cheese references aren’t helping.

“The sustainability of capital investments, and the dangers of depreciation.” At this point, Rory’s usual garish flowered shirt has been replaced by a plain cotton toga.

“Depreciation of..?” I take an even larger swig of my drink. Perhaps I shouldn’t have skipped economics classes in favour of lock-picking as a youth.

“SPEND THE DAMN MONEY, LAD.” This latter comment comes in a much, much deeper tone than I’ve ever known the squeaky-voiced gnome to utter before.

I wake up with a start. It must be a sign. Possibly a sign that Rory now suffers from male-pattern baldness, has changed his taste in clothes, and had a much-delayed post-puberty change in voice. Or a sign that somehow the Shadow-invasion is related to fermented milk products. It seems more likely, however, that it was a sign about what to do about Shen.

So off to Waterdeep it is, to sell what’s left of our gems, and find someone who can bring our monk back to us, well and whole. I’m quite happy for that. Before we do it, however, I think I’ll find Prof. Sniddle and share a snack together.


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