The sun had barely started its ascent when Marlowe Mismatch, having successfully and most urgently distanced himself from Melbourne’s metallic allure, found his way to Brisbane. Brisbane, he thought, would be safe. Brisbane, he thought, wouldn’t care about his absurd series of misadventures. Brisbane, as it turned out, had a plan of its own.
As the last of the evening’s amber liquid dwindled from his glass the previous night, Marlowe had been completely, wholly, and categorically certain that his one evening out would be entirely free of magical mishaps. There’s nothing in the ‘Adventurer’s Handbook’ about tattoos being even remotely magical, after all. Alas, Marlowe always had a penchant for getting into the most unanticipated of scrapes.
Waking up with a throbbing head was expected. Waking up with a large, intricately detailed tattoo of a map on his back? Less so. Squinting in the morning light, Marlowe tried to make sense of the reflection in the mirror. Coastlines, mountains, and peculiar symbols adorned his skin, seemingly leading to…well, he didn’t really know where. And how could he? It seemed that with every move he made, the map shifted and changed, as if mocking his attempts to decipher it.
“It’s probably just a Brisbane thing,” he tried to console himself, donning a shirt. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that this was another level of misfortune. Perhaps a bit of guidance was in order.
A quick search for tattoo removal services in the Brisbane area landed him several results. But Marlowe hesitated. What if the removal process made it worse? What if instead of a map, he’d end up with a large neon sign pointing to his rear?
While pondering his options, his thoughts were interrupted by a whispering voice. “New in town? Looking a little…mapped out?” A tall figure draped in black robes, with tattoos peeking out from every conceivable place, approached. The man’s fingers, too, were inked with delicate symbols. “Saw you searching. My cousin does removals, but between you and me, I’d recommend seeing the best tattooist close to Brisbane. Goes by Inky Isabelle. She’ll have some answers.”
Marlowe raised an eyebrow. “And you are?”
The man winked. “Just a messenger.” And with that, he melted away into the crowd, leaving Marlowe even more befuddled than before.