He meets 10

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He couldn't remember the last time his legs had ached. Bundled in all his rags one might think him out of shape, but the innumerous layers hid a lithe, wiry frame with muscles hardened by many years of travel. A short hero, but strong nonetheless. His legs ached today, and He was groggy. He had woken well before the Bright One, as always, and He would walk until it hid itself.

He --for that's all he was called, no one had ever given him a name-- picked his way comfortably through the darkness of pre-dawn, holding his brightburn aloft. Its glow was more than enough to see the broken path leading to the highhollows. Squinting at the horizon, judging how far away they were, the Bright One peeked over the horizon. The clouds it revealed were a burning pink... a storm was coming. The timer in his goggle's UI kept dropping, teasing him. He sneered at the clouds, then soldiered on.

It never got lighter than the Bright One's greeting. Skysnakes danced on and in the clouds, illuminating the sky and calling to each other with their long, low rumbles. It seemed they were especially active today, mating perhaps, and it didn't seem they would stop any time soon. He would need to find shelter, then. He glanced at the timer again and sighed at the wasted time. He was dissatisfied with his progress for the day.

The path had led him to a village of some size, but He was still hours from the highhollows. He was walking down a large road that seemed to stretch straight through the middle of town. Most of the buildings on the street were no more than rubble or a doorless frame. The first remotely intact hovel He saw had a flickering hologram on the door's cracked glass. He stepped closer, attracted by the light, and recognized the image as a wrench twisting a molar. As good a shelter as any, He supposed.

The immediate interior was surprisingly floral; plants grew on the chairs and counters and rusty holo-screen bases. A few potted plants in the corners had, with the help of a sizeable hole in the roof, claimed the space as their own. It was hardly better than being outside. He considered scouting out a different campsite when the rain started falling... pelting, more like, a deluge pouring down into the room. He would just have to avoid the hole.

This first room had just two doors, one in the main area aside the chairs and the other on the far wall, separated by a counter. He always ruled to take closer doors first, so He approached the right. The knob turned easily but the door strained when He pulled it. Vines grew thick along the bottom. He tore them away and the door opened easily. The room beyond was small and tiled. A reflective panel hung affixed to one wall above a wash basin, and in the corner was a squat seat with a hole in it. This room had stood up well to the test of time, but there was nothing useful beyond the dry floor. He retreated to the first room and approached the counter. Both ends connected to the wall in a semi-circle, with a break in the middle for easy passage. As He approached, a holographic woman appeared before him.

He slid his goggles up onto his forehead and swallowed hard. He hadn't seen a lady in a long, long time. "Hello! Do you have an appointment?" She chirped. His forehead scrunched in frustration... He couldn't understand her. "Do you have an appointment?" She repeated. He sighed and walked through her, feeling nothing besides a slight warming as her laser projector washed over him. The glow she cast changed from blue to red. She lost her cheery expression and instead became a wailing blank face with a "!" symbol as the room began to flash. He covered his ears and looked frantically for the source of the sound. There were no speakers that He could see, so her projector...? There! Small, and plugged directly into the ceiling. He reached up for it desperately but scrabbled at air. Panicked at the thought of what the siren could attract, He jumped onto the counter and then leapt at the device. His fingertips touched it, grasped it! It came out easily, the pretty lady disappeared, and He crashed to the ground.

He stood slowly, thanking his layers for cushioning the fall. He pushed himself up with one hand and cradled the projector in the other. It was even smaller than he had thought, practically just a lens and power prongs. He made to stow the device in one of his many tan pockets, stopped, then placed it in his only blue pocket, instead. He looked around the empty room, blushing, and coughed before opening the door behind the counter and moving on.

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