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Nuada knew before he arrived that he was in trouble. He saw not one troll, one boggert, one glamoured creature of the realm, when there should have been dozens moving unseen by human eyes, or cloaked in human guises.

He had forgotten the scents of Venice in this time period. The filth dumped into the waterways to act as sewers, the lack of hygiene, the drunken smells of vomit and piss. All around it mixed with the scent of wine, beer and street foods, frying or charring. Humans wearing too much perfume to hide their own scent pushed and swayed all around, laughing and occasionally fighting.

When he reached the Palazzo Barbarigo the slowly sinking feeling in his gut hit bottom. The stones he pressed in sequence did nothing. There wasn't the slightest trace of a feeling of magic.

"Ciach ort, mac an striapaigh agus an duine ghalraithe!"** He slammed his hand on the unmoving masonry.

Nuada made it to a bench and sat heavily. This was not his Earth, not the Venice he knew. It was almost exactly like it. How many mirror universes were there in the multiverse? What were the chances of ever getting back again?

There was a potted plant beside the bench and he tugged off the black glove he wore and placed his fingers in the soil. It was close to his Earth, indeed, but there was a distinct lack of the mystical in the soil. It was not yet so polluted by chemicals, and the waste in it was fertilizing instead of harming.

Just feeling this gave him a headache behind his eyes, and he should not need to touch the soil to do this much. The plant itself was a clean spot of purity. Refreshing to his mind and soul. But as the headache grew stronger he withdrew.

No, he was not home. That meant he had to find the others and return to that thrice damned station. His first thought was to return to the costume shop they had all come from. But he recalled so many people talking about a major party. At the very least he'd wager on finding Klaus there. As well as any of the others seeking to lose themselves in festivities.

Dusk was starting to fall and he gained his feet once more and pulled on his glove. At least he had a place to start seeking the others.

*Poem by Philip Larkin
** Damn you son of a whore and a diseased human.

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Prince Nuada Silverlance

July 2012

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