(Cafe Istanbul)--Emiko and Tomoko, in their human guise, resembled slightly built Oriental ladies with masses of black hair piled atop their heads and held with two hairpins (which actually were slender daggers). Mingo knew they could shape shift into much more....fearsome....creatures. Emiko spoke rarely, Tomoko less than that. Emiko shyly asked Mingo (in her Southern drawl....wherever did she pick that up?) "Ah don know th 'Red Hat Gnomes' story Mr. Mingo." --"Ah so desu," Mingo said happy at the prospect of a new reader. "On the porch of the inn are many logs which contain 'Tale of the Red Hat Gnomes' Part 1,2,3." note: copy of the logs are back in Fire Lotus Tavern / Library / Tale of the Red Hat Gnomes. --"Arigato," Tomoko said with almost a smile, and the two ladies ventured out across the rapidly drying cobblestone lanes toward the White Raven Inn. --Arkah Empstrike at this point spoke to Mingo. "I saw my portrait on the wall behind your performing stage," he said with a smile. "I was honored." --"That was you in the portrait?" Mingo asked somewhat perplexed. Somewhat perplexed did not answer, but Arkah did, "Yes, holding the lute." --"Pirate loot?" Lilith butted in with the perspicacity of someone with intelligence beyond their years. --"I spent all mine building the inn," Mingo said shaking his head. --"Lute, l u t e, this thing I carry on my back, Mingo has one too. It's like a guitar, only harder to tune." Arkah explained --"Oh yes!"Lilith nodded. "Mingo spends half his time tuning his lute, and the other half playing out of tune." --Mingo grimaced. --At this point a rarely seen person appeared in the doorway to Cafe Istanbul. It was Chiasma, the mysterious master of the large castle on the hill. "I moved the shrines away from the stream," he informed those in the Cafe. "They are now up on the hill in a semi-circle around the big Sakura tree, and the Chaos, Gaia and other such shrines encircle the tree." --"Good thinking," Mingo said respectfully. ---Suddenly small explosions were heard outside, the Sakura trees were literally bursting into bloom. Spring had arrived.