A Lost boy somehow gets even more lost.
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His mood sinks slightly as he wonders if he's going to revisit the hedge again, in his dreams. The silvery scratches along his skin prickle just from the memory of the one he had on the ship, and a jolt of panic goes through him as he lies there staring at the ceiling of the barn.

Where is this, really? This impossible solar system, with its weird behaving gravity "rounds" and its air-filled space and its people who apparently come to life, fully grown, with any knowledge they want, including languages they'd have no way of learning?

Why is he just lying here, completely vulnerable, trusting them? Trusting all of this?

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Because he's tired. That's why.

Tired from a long day of walking and hunting.

And tired from years of learning to relax only by accepting that constant vigilance would only kill him a different way.

At least here, the world stays still when he looks away and back, and a squirrel is just a squirrel.

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Sleep claims him quickly, once he has that thought.

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The hedge is waiting for him, an endless golden field whose wheat rises just above his eye level The wheat whispers and murmurs as it ripples in the wind, and he looks up to see a too-bright sky full of clouds that swirl between a tangled dome of branches.  When he stands on tiptoe he sees that titanic trees dot the horizon, the closest one as big around as a skyscraper. The wheat-is it wheat?-prickles as he walks through it, tugging at his clothes and skin with tiny barbs, and he struggles not to run to get out of it more quickly, knowing it would catch him more firmly, tear at him more ruthlessly, instead walking slowly and steadily toward the nearby tree trunk, for lack of anywhere else to go, but wanting to be less exposed, ducking his head down even though it exposes more of him to the prickling wheat as he trudges for hours through the field. Every time he pops his head up, the trees on the horizon are in slightly different places, even though he walks in a straight line, but he can't keep his head above the wheat forever, and the whispers of the rustling wheat is sounding more and more like voices the longer he walks, voices he can almost recognize from the ship and the round...

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When he finally wakes, it's with a gasp and a spasm, hands batting at his skin to clear the lingering sensation of the wheat from him.

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It takes a few breaths before he recognizes and remembers where he is, and he sits up, palms covering his eyes as he takes deep breaths, waiting for his shaking to stop.

It was just a dream. No monsters. No obvious threats.

But it still takes ten minutes for his pulse to level out, and the world feels slightly less real when he finally stands, gathers his things, and goes to find some water.

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After he's done his "morning" necessities, he puts the rocks from his pockets and puts them in his new bag, then heads for the forest for some more hunting. He eats the berries and nuts he saved yesterday, choking down the unpleasant textures and muted flavors that he's fairly sure are just in his head. This time he stays long enough to get a few animals on either end of his stick, filling his bag with mushrooms, nuts, and berries.

When he finally returns to town to sell his bounty, he gives himself some time to rest, asking around for any place that people might normally sing so he can pick up more of the language as he enjoys an off-tasting but very filling meal of stew and bread.

Then he returns to the barn for another sleep, wakes up, and does it all again, then again. Each night, he returns to the golden-field-Hedge in his dreams, and each day, he takes another huting path through the forest to find new forage until he has enough nuts saved up that he can plausibly cover his own meals on the trip toward Rabbitround, especially if he spends some of his now-decently-sized pile of money for extra food before he goes (he's not sure if it's cheaper in town than on the ship). He only breaks another arrow in that time, which brings him down to three, which is low enough that he spends some time before sleeping to carefully craft a new one.

In the "afternoon" of his third wake, he heads back to town early to sell a rabbit and squirrel, then goes to the towers where the ships dock to check if the one heading to Rabbitround is here yet. If so, he'll ask to talk to the captain about the cost of a trip, and what work he might do to pay his way.

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The one that goes to Rabbitround isn't docked yet but it's in sight! It's up there, see? Shouldn't take too much longer to waft itself into harbor.

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He'll find a comfortable place to watch from, arms crossed as he pays particular attention in the mechanics of how the round's gravity works. He's had a lot of time to think over the past couple days, to pay more attention to what he's found here and what it means, and his questions have become harder to ignore... particularly with fewer immediate concerns ton his mind.

His current, strongest guess is that this whole world is as fake as a terrarium. Maybe it's the fae, maybe it's some alien species with vastly powerful technology. But even if he wasn't told about the  glaringly obvious nonsense of people being made fully formed (which he has to remind himself he has not seen yet and may not actually be what happens)... he expects the various rounds' physicists, historians, and philosophers to get regularly kidnapped (and replaced with a fetch), assassinated, or mind controlled so they don't notice anything wrong in the course of their careers. This is a testable prediction, but only if he finds a way to spend a lot of time around lots of academic types, which may be on rounds he won't have access to.

If he's right, the obvious question is of purpose. He would guess it's a human farm for the fae, but they seem to be putting people in rather than taking them out... unless, again, everyone here is just a really well made fetch, which would be even more confusing. Maybe the people being put in are mindwiped from elsewhere, with extra skills and knowledge implanted by magic, and something about their lives here eventually makes them a better fit for some alien purpose than they would have been if just used directly.

Another guess is that it's a playpen, a way for some fae, aliens, or even really advanced humans, to live out a fantasy of theirs. One where, maybe, people just live mostly wholesome lives in a world without nights and everyone is pretty and healthy, and you could have safe space adventures if you want. Hell, maybe it's a theme park and one in every thousand people is secretly a paying customer.

His last major guess is it's an experiment, and of all the guesses this is the one he's most worried about, because it implies the most scrutiny. He's going to stick out like a sore thumb unless he resigns himself to a quiet life in the forest, and he has no intention of doing that, as appealing as it sometimes seems.

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The round's gravity appears to not exist at all for the ship, which might not hold up if it tried to land and accordingly doesn't. It gets close enough to throw anchors and get lashed to the dock. This one has a sort of rope net cylinder which, when attached at a few points to the top of the tower, serves as a tunnel for parcels and boxes to be shoved through, floating down till gravity ("gravity") seizes them at the bottom of the tunnel and a ground worker moves them off.

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Stowaways would have a hard time not being seen. His mind suggests trying it at night before he remembers that isn't a thing, here.

Is the crew going to start coming down, after everything is unloaded? If so, how different do they seem in dress and attitude to the ship he came on? And is one identifiable as the captain?

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The crew is smaller. They seem to know people in port and greet them by name. The clothing styles are pretty similar, though. The captain's that old lady.

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Danny walks over to her once she's finished greeting people. Is she the oldest person he's seen, here?

"Hello. I'm hoping to go to Rabbitround, when you leave port again. I can do some work, and bring some of my own food, and was wondering if this would pay the rest of the way for me." He shows her about half of the money he's saved up, having asked around for reasonable prices to offer.

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She's not the oldest person he's seen; a few of the round-based folks he's spotted shopping and selling in town are older.

"What kind of work?" she asks, counting up the cash.

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"I helped clean the last ship's hull, once. Other than that, mostly kitchen work and other chores. I learn things quickly."

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"Do you have a reference?"

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Uh oh.

"No, I wasn't a sailor officially. My current trade is a hunter. I just helped to repay the captain and crew for bringing me here."

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"Which sail were you on?"

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"The Quick Sun. They left a few wakes ago, heading to a different round than Rabbit."

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"Where'd they pick you up?"

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Hoo boy. He knows how this is going to sound, and was hoping it wouldn't get asked... she'd think he's some defectively made person with no memory, or that he's a liar that some other crew chucked  overboard for being dangerous, or both.

He tries to think of what he could say that would be truthful without being quite so damaging, but just the thought of it makes his stomach squirm, and so he reluctantly says, "They found me floating between rounds. I should also say... I sleep almost twice as long as most people." Better she hears that now rather than finds it out mid-journey and feels cheated.

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"Oof. ...I think I have room for you if I don't have more people wanting berths than usual, but I'm going to want to see how many inquiries I have, all right?"

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Was the oof to the first part, the second, or both? He considers trying to strengthen his case, but isn't sure there's anything relevant he can say. He can offer more money, but probably not enough to take up two "shifts" in a hammock... if he gives her all his money, he may not have enough to survive on Rabbitround, if there isn't an easy way for him to make more. Plus, what if he wants to come back?

Once again the thought of selling one of his Hedge stones comes to him. But it still feels safest for everyone if he keeps them close, for now.

"Yeah, that's fair. Where can I find you to check, before you depart?"

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"Ask anybody with the ship colors on their scarf," she indicates a scarf, "where I'm at."

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"I will." He watches her walk away, then sighs and asks around to see if any other ships in the next dozen wakes is known to be heading to Rabbitround next.

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