The reason our party left in such a rush was due to the nature of the Hopping Port. The Hopping Port, you see, had a very useful method of transport. It could transport you instantly to anywhere in the Gnome Archipelago. However, when the moon was full the Hopping Port itself would hop. It would vanish for a month and reappear with the next full moon in an entirely different location. In this way the Hopping Port would (probably) never be in the same place twice. It was the fastest method of transport around but it was also the most exorbitantly priced. Furthermore, the attendants were perpetually in a bad mood. This was of course due to the fact that there was no job stability. One month they’d be kicking back and relaxing on the beaches of the West Coast, other times they’d be in the far reaches of Jul-controlled desert territory and everywhere in between.
Currently the Hopping Port was in a tree, specifically a jumboom. It was a fair distance from the Squid Ink Teavern, at least a day’s walk and that night would be the full moon. Fortunately, Felix knew a rather talkative land-whale that could speed up the journey. For a price…
But, how did our party know where the Hopping Port was? You see, the Hopping Port had the strange habit of attracting bakawks (known as the most delicious birds in the Gnome Archipelago although not the most widely eaten, the most widely eaten are reticent ducks which are eaten more out of spite than out of preference). Whenever bakawks wonder they wonder toward the Hopping Port. Because of this one can often find great migrations of bakawks heading toward it and one need only follow them to find the Hopping Port. They made for the tree that was surrounded by bakawks trying in vain to ascend the large jumboom with short-lived, impotent jumps and attempted flights. They waded through the crowd of ruffled birds and began to climb. It was actually fairly easy and rather fun (jumboom trees are highly favoured by those that love to climb). Felix’s body swiveled and twisted as he climbed up the sinewy branches of the tree. There were plenty of paw holds but of course his claws were the ultimate climbing tools. He couldn’t help but feel alive as the leaves brushed his coat and tail.
“Gah!” Dojima yelled.
“Watch that branch just there!”
They climbed and climbed until finally they found something that wasn’t wood or leaf.
The Hopping Port was made of some peculiar material not seen anywhere else in the Gnome Archipelago. Its pale walls glowed and exuded the occasional sparkle of mysterious light that gave one the impression that the Hopping Port was from another world. It seemed quite impossible to describe the building from outside, it bore the closest resemblance to a three-sided square. So, the party went inside, which was rather ordinary by comparison. It was a large empty room with a row of kiosks against the far wall. There was only one attendant on duty who was engrossed in a small box in front of him.
“Jack, why do you have a bakawk?” Dojima said.
“He looked like he really wanted to be here.” Jack explained.
“She’s female.” Siphokazi pointed out.
“She looked like she really wanted to be here.” Jack said.
The bakawk, having finally arrived at the place she had longed so intensely to be, looked around gave a small feathery shrug and proceeded to nest atop Jack’s head.
Felix stepped forward.
“Greetings.” he said cheerfully. The attendant remained engrossed.
“Hello?” Felix said.
“Mm?” said the attendant unconcernedly.
“Good evening. I trust you are well?” Felix said most politely.
“Funthangsanyu.” said the attendant robotically, not taking his eyes off the box.
“Yes, quite well, thank you.” Felix said. “If only the weather could start warming up.” He added with a chuckle. The attendant didn’t respond.
“I was wondering if…”
“Waldine!” the attendant cried suddenly.
“Mm?” said Waldine unconcernedly.
“Alexandria betrayed Venter!”
“Get out!” Waldine said, running over to the box.
“It’s true! My word, she broke his heart.”
“Oh, and his ribs by the look of it.” Waldine grimaced.
“Excuse me.” Felix said.
“I can’t believe it. I thought there might have been something going on between them.”
“What? No way, Venter’s too professional to have a relationship with his vice-captain.”
“Excuse me.” Felix tried again.
“Mm?” said the attendant instantly losing all enthusiasm.
“We’re hoping to get to Eye Land.”
“You’re lucky the episode just finished.” the attendant tutted.
“In my day the attendants were polite and helpful.” Dojima said and instantly regretted it.
“Mm? Well, in your day the people were probably too busy discovering fire, my love.” the attendant shot back. Dojima stunned.
“Okay.” the attendant said. “Eye Land will cost you… what’s the nearest city… 1500 Flockboast Dosh”
“1500!” Dojima exclaimed.
“Each, my love.” the attendant said.
“In my day I could buy a house and small farm with that kind of money.” Dojima said and instantly regretted it.
“Fear not.” Jack said and produced a massive purse of money.
“Jack, where did you get that?” Siphokazi said. Jack looked taken aback, the bakawk eyed Siphokazi severely. “Jack will have you know Jack found it at the beach.”
“I was talking about the butler suit.” Siphokazi said.
“Oh! Also at the beach.” Jack said.
“Well, at least we got something useful from the Flockboast Arc.”
The attendant worked lethargically. Every action appeared an offense to his very being. He occasionally shot them a distasteful look.
“Now listen, my love, I’m only going to say this once. Step onto the moon on the floor, ‘mkay. Strike your transport pose, ‘mkay. Announce loud and aloud where you want to go, ‘mkay. Don’t get it wrong or you might end up in Knockturn Alley, ‘mkay.”
“Understood.” Siphokazi said with a slight smile. She evidently got the reference.
Siphokazi had to pull Dojima away from the death stare he was giving the attendant.
“I remember when there used to be respect!” Dojima ranted openly as they walked over to the moon. The attendant stuck his tongue out and went back to his box.
“Alright team!” Felix said. “Activate Transport Pose!”
“YEAH!” they all said as they struck their poses and then in unison they cried:
Upon learning of their destination Dali hired a muey and headed for the Hopping Port. The moon would soon be full so he didn’t have much time. He did, however, still have a squid in his hand.