I'll Take You to the Parashops
rating: +19+x

ANNOTATION: A record of that time Liss first introduced me to the Parashops. May this memory remain even after my Light has gone. File this in my favourite section, will you?

-Wanderer Lampyra

"Are you really looking to throw all this out, Lissie?"

Lampyra picks up a large glass jar filled with rotted rose petals, frayed pink ribbon, and chicken-scratch love notes written on scraps of loose-leaf.

Lissie slips it up and out from between her friend's palms as she blitzes past. "Don't read it!" she snaps, putting the jar on an already overcrowded desk. "If you want, I'll let you smash it on the way back to the Door."

Lampyra twists her head and furrows her eyebrows in faux quizzicality. "What's it supposed to be?"

"A tchotchke. From an ex." Lissie narrows her eyes, knowing full well what's behind the curious expression Lampyra now shoots her with. "You really, really wouldn't."

Lampyra laughs. "Come on! Can't I read just one? You and I both know that's ancient. Even the fake petals they stuffed in there are wilting. Whose was this — Petalfall's? It literally has her name all over it."

"Y'know, when I asked you to help clean my old junk, I didn't mean for you to read it all."

"Liss, hellooo, you're supposed to be focusing, here! Don't you have anything the Youth Centre would actually want to take?" She scans the room.

At the far wall sits Lissie's collection of self-developed photo-clairvoyant photo sets. There are hundreds of them, all bearing different memories. They range from generic memories, like bright sunbeamed strolls spent in woodsy ravines, to more specific ones, depicting ghastly dark and misty scenes showcasing terrifying beasts prowling forbidden Ways. It's the product of quite a hobby. Each photo is laminated and quietly filed away, labelled and colour-coded. This is in utter defiance of the rest of her woodside bungalow, which sports goods mixed with garbage going back decades before Lissie was even born.

Lissie now sits on the desk, her back to a site where a veritable micro-tornado seems to have torn through, leaving behind a mess of papers and knick-knacks. She props up her scuffed high-tops on an old mahogany creaker of a chair and nibbles on the tip of her left thumb.

"We've barely made a dent." Lampyra stands, stretching. "Why aren't you helping me?"

"Oh, you just like to annoy me, don't you?" She smirks. "Say, Pyrie…?"


"… Have you ever been to the parashops?"

The Parashops: Eponymously named, The Parashops are a Free Port marketplace with connections to sites across the anomalous world, Library included. Within are conventional shops holding wares and everyday products. The place is also home to a massive weekly Really Really Free Market, where anomalous items change hands freely. The Parashops have no true terrestrial location; the only way out and in is through Ways and other paranatural transportation methods. There are Doors on all seven continents — but they are ever-shifting mysteries known only for a month at a time.

Lampyra and Lissiefang1 stroll down a cobblestone courtyard with equal parts purpose and pressing haste. The former, carrying a rather hefty case of those same pretty pictures from before, and the latter, barely holding (so much as miming the act of holding) the blue-green apparition of a large phantasmal feline — Buckwheat — on her shoulder.

"Liss, what is this place?" Lampyra whispers.

"We are in a Free Port, Pyrie. No need to act so suspicious."

"Oh. It's like a children's fantasy book in here." Lampyra catches a look at an assortment of small boutiques, restaurants, and other tiny businesses lining the edges of an expansive plaza. It spans a dizzying distance, leading in every direction and cutting around winding medieval courtyards into small, dim alcoves. People looking all sorts of ways mill in throngs. Warbling winds bring in wafting scents of sweet and fiery cinnamon. "Say, Liss, it reminds me of that one place — the street with the wizard pubs? From those old Harry Potter books?"

"I've never read 'em. Besides, isn't the author a T–"

"DIAGONALLY!" Lampyra bellows in a fake, gruff voice before splitting into guffaws of laughter.

"Lampyra!" Lissie hisses. Buckwheat laps up the positive energy and purrs, curling tighter into the air beside her.

Without skipping a beat, Lampyra asks, "So, which was it? You said you knew a place interested in seeing your cryptids." She rhythmically taps the case with her fingernails.

"Sure do," Liss replies. "We're almost there. And I think you'll love it."


Lampyra can do nothing but slouch like a goldfish awaiting pellets when she enters the shop. Cathedral-like vaulted ceilings letting in golden light run the length of the building, and there are framed prints galore. Paranatural fauna and flora depicted in their (un-)natural habitats line every nook. There must be hundreds in this very room.

Lampyra doesn't realize how long she is standing agog until the man beside her — who has been waiting for all of five minutes with saintlike patience — politely announces his presence. "Them little creatures sure do seem like modern wonders once you catch 'em outside the Jailor's watch — don't they?"

She jumps, still firmly grasping the photo case. "Oh — they're spectacular! And– and you took all these?"

"Heh, well," he says, taking the moment to readjust his spectacles. "Not quite so. Most of 'em are volunteer donated. We source them from keen-eyed amateurs just about anywhere there's wildlife."

"Oh, wow." She glances about, eyeing specific close-ups. There are glow-in-the-dark honeybees with sparkler stingers, snakes with translucent balloon-like sacks which secrete a whisky-like substance, a pair of giraffes almost fully camouflaged in an exotic jungle, and alligators with naturally occurring tailbone spears. She laughs in earnest at some sights. "It's actually phenomenal."

The man has his arms crossed, looking where she looks, taking in the critters as she does. "Would you ever have thought common folk might achieve all this out the goodness of their own hearts?"

A small nod. "I would, actually. I have a friend who'd be over the moon for this sort of thing…"

As if on cue, Lissie steps out from the far back of the large room, arms out and beaming. "Clarence! There you are. Oh, have I got something for you today."

Clarence grins. "I'm quite aware your friend, Lampyra here, has been waiting on bated breath to show me your latest finds."

"Huh? How–how'd you–" Lampyra stops, giving Clarence a curious eye.

"Liss and I go back many, many years, you see. Thirteen, in fact. Her gifts have been gracing my walls ever since, well…"

"… Since Clarence here gave me a foot in the door," Liss finishes.

Lampyra blinks. She had known about the anomalous for less than three months, and while she knew Lissie was experienced, she would have never expected her friend devoted so much of her life to it all. "So, wait, what are you saying? Some of these are yours?"

"Lissie has donated one in every five snapshots you see here," Clarence answers matter-of-factly.


The three spend hours poring over the photos Lissie has kindly donated. At the end of it all, Clarence shows a piece he had commissioned for their own take on the Serpent's Hand:

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