Disclaimers: Don't own it. Please don't sue, I don't have money.
The world was flat. Not only was he stuck in a primitive, pre-industrial revolution world, they still believed their world was flat. The worst part about it was that they were right. Whatever kind of world this was, it really did seem to be flat. Laws of physics need not apply. When the sun came up in the morning, Xander swore that he could see the sun before the light actually arrived. When it did arrive, it seemed to crawl across the ground in a lazy curtain. Such a strange place to be stuck. Inter-dimensional travel really took it out of him. He had tried a few times since his arrival to transport out of here, but to no avail. He simply needed more time to recharge. That and find a pool big enough to transport him. While Yuuri had been transported through small pools of water, Xander was simply not comfortable enough to try that. So, in the meantime, he decided to explore his new world.
His first impression was not entirely favorable. Having spent all of his life in Sunnydale, Xander was simply not comfortable with this level of nature and countryside. His only previous experience with camping had been the times he spent Christmas outside in a sleeping bag. Now, he was really having to rough it, sleeping next to the road, or under a convenient tree.
After a day or two, Xander reached a small village. With a half-dozen houses, and a rather dubious looking inn, calling it a village was perhaps a bit generous, but it was the first civilization he had seen in a while. It wasn't much, but he might be able to get his bearings and figure out something to do to occupy his time until he was able to leave. Besides, he was getting tired of the MRE's in his pack. While the SGC had been generous in supplying him, he didn't really care for possibly-meatloaf and chicken flavor mystery meat.
The inn was a small building, somewhat primitive in appearance. The sign at front had a picture that, if he squinted, looked like a pig playing some kind of flute. He shrugged and went inside. The place had few customers, elderly men sitting down to lunch at rough-hewn tables. As one, they turned to stare at the newcomer. Xander gave a bit of a grin and waved. With a few raised eyebrows, the customers turned back to their meals, but he noted an undercurrent of whispered gossip. Most likely, in a village this size, newcomers were a rare, or even unknown, occurrence.
Xander took a seat at the bar and contemplated. His cash from home would undoubtedly be useless here, but he had some change that they might accept, even if it did look strange. He smiled up at the barmaid. “So, what's available for lunch?”
The barmaid, a somewhat homely-looking girl in an old-fashioned dress and apron, looked him over and gave him a wink. “We've got some soup and bread. I made it myself.” She giggled. “It's one copper.”
“Well, miss, I've been traveling a bit, and I've only got foreign coin. Would that be ok?” Xander handed her a penny.
“Oh, a well-traveled man! Have you seen many foreign places? I've always wanted to travel!” She took the coin. “Oh, this will be just fine, I always like to see different coins; it makes me feel like I got to travel.”
Xander smiled. “So, miss...?”
“Julia, if you could go anywhere around here, where would you go?” Xander took a bite of the soup she dished up. While not that great, it was still better than MRE's.
“I've always wanted to see Ankh-Morpork,” she replied in a dreamy voice. “They say all roads lead there. The big city, where anything can happen! Anyone who gets the chance goes there.” She sighed. “The farm carts go there every couple of days, and they let people ride with for a couple of coppers, but I don't have enough start-up money to get a place to live there. They say everything costs more in the big city.”
“Don't lose hope, there. If you plan it out, work hard and save up, I'm sure that you'll get there one day. Now, about this farm cart...”
* * *
Two days later, Xander stood at the gates of Ankh-Morpork. His wallet was lighter by a few pennies, but luckily he was the type of person who always ended up with handfuls of change, so he would probably be ok. That would be the LAST farm cart ride he ever took, though. His ass was one massive bruise. He could make a fortune if he invented shock absorbers in this world. First things first, he needed to find a place to stay, and a job to tide him over until he could leave.
Following the crowd as it poured into the city, he aimed for the more rundown areas. While it wouldn't be as safe, the costs would be lower. Passing a small sign that read 'The Shades,' Xander got a little nervous. It sounded a bit ominous, and somewhat lower than he was aiming for. Still, he decided to press on. The streets were narrower, and far less clean, twisting this way and that. Suddenly, Xander found himself in a dead-end, definitely NOT the kind of place he wanted to be, even in broad daylight. He turned to leave, only to find the entrance blocked by a hulking figure.
“Hullo, mister,” said the grimy man, twirling a knife, “I am a member of the Thieves' Guild, and this is an official robbery. Hand over your money, and you won't get hurt.” He paused for a second. “Since you look like you're a visitor to our fair city, I can throw in a beating, and you'll fill your quota for this year. Just make sure you keep the receipt.”
Xander was confused. This had to be the strangest thing he had seen since coming to this world. “Um, excuse me, but did you say receipt? What kind of thief gives receipts?”
The thief beamed at him. “Oh, you really ARE a newcomer, aren't you? Lord Vetinary, the Patrician, made all the guilds legal, you know, Thieves, Assassins, 'Seamstresses,'” he leered on the last one, “so everything's legal, so long as you belong to the guild and give a receipt. A person can only be robbed so much in any given year, and any...unauthorized crime is dealt with by the guild. Harshly. So, once you've been mugged to a certain amount, you can walk the streets in safety.” His face hardened. “Now that we've got that out of the way, give me your wallet.”
To the thief's consternation, Xander doubled over in laughter. “You've got to be kidding me,” he managed to get out, “As if I'd just hand over my money.” He straightened up, eyes glowing and cat-pupiled. “I think you need to be taught a lesson. Plus, you should really take a bath before you go out. You stink.” As the thief slowly backed away from this strange man, Xander raised a glowing hand. “Justice!” he cried. A pillar of water formed and swamped the helpless thief, carrying him high into the air. The water turned into a twister, the sloshing noise drowning out the man's screams. Finally, Xander relented and let him down, barely conscious. “Think about this the next time you try and rob someone. I won't always be so forgiving.” He turned on his heel and made his way out of the alley. No need to stick around and find out what the cops in this reality were like. If the thief was telling the truth about legalized theft, there'd be no telling whose side the cops would be on. Discretion, after all, was the better part of valor. Now, to see about a place to live...
Author's note: Thank you to everyone who reviewed. Stay tune for the next episode: settling in.