(from the current story in progress, which is set in Tabat)
“This craze for exorcisms is a harmful fad,” Dr. Fantastik said to the man at his left. His tone was severe in a way that seemed at odds with the addressed man’s mien, for the lefthand man was wholely engaged in his newspaper, turning over the yellow sheets with an attention utterly untouched by Dr. Fantastik’s presence.
“A harmful fad!” Doctor Fantastik said, a trifle louder, and this time the man looked up, then left and right, as though trying to determine who the Doctor might be speaking to. Seeing an empty seat to his left and the Doctor to his right, he raised his eyebrows in a gently interrogatory fashion.
The Doctor nodded, and continued speaking as though the question of who his interlocutor was had never been in question. “It is a result of inflammatory and showy performers, whose “patients” are often accomplices and actors.”
This time the man outright shrugged. His attention dropped back to his newspaper, whose headline read (something clever to come).
Doctor Fantastik considered him. The Doctor himself was dressed in an out of heels velvet coat, of a style popular a decade or so ago. Although in neat repair, the hems were worn and shabby, and a darn spidered its way up one side. He wore ivory-framed spectacles that glinted in the tavern’s light. Like his vestments, his hair was neatly kept but had seen better days. Spots of wear shone on his scalp, uncloaked by the wisps of white hair that remained.
He seemed about to speak when his attention was caught by a young woman entering. He watched as she paused to cast an appraising glance over the clientele, which was sparse for an afternoon in Tabat, when most took to tea-shops and taverns to drink the spiced fish-tea that was the city’s favorite drink. Doctor Fantastik was not himself drinking such a thing; rather a mug of lemon and water sat before him as she picked her way across the uneven planking of the floor to sit down on his right side.
The newspaper man at first barely spared her a glance, but then he took her in more fully and began stealing admiring looks. She was worthy of such, her skin as fashionably pale as that of any upper-class maiden, her hair immaculate and well-brushed, shining as it fell over her slightly antiquated but quality silk clothes. Her doe-soft eyes were dark and lustrous, but they did not return the newspaper reader’s glance, but rather remained fixed upon Doctor Fantastik.
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