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Marmoset!

“Well…yeah,” I said, kind of lamely. “I didn’t know he belonged to you guys! He looked kind of hungry, so I fed him some chips, and he followed me home.”

“A likely story!” said one of the ninja. “I think you kidnapped him!”

“No!” I was starting to sweat. “He’s my friend! He was having a good time with me! He painted a really great, uh, impressionist abstraction…”

The ninja leader relaxed his iron grip on my shirt.

“Why should we believe this kid?” piped a ninja from the back of the pack. “He could just be making this up!”

“Silence!” said the ninja leader. “The Many-Handed One is a famed patron of the arts, and he loves to finger paint. Strange as this young man’s story may seem, he can only be telling the truth. And his face bears the purple markings of royalty.”

He released me. I rubbed my face. More paint. I was about to explain, but the ninja leader bowed low.

“My name is Steve,” he said.

“Er. Kevin. Kevin Dembling.” I bowed in return, hoping it was low enough.

There was an awkward pause as the other ninja shuffled their feet and stared at the ground.

Steve cleared his throat. “It’s been a long time since an outsider has entered our domain. And it is unheard of that the monkey has allowed himself to be seen by one who is not of the brotherhood.”

“I see.” I didn’t.

“We’ll have to wait for the Master to return so we can sort this out. In the meantime, would you care for a cheese puff while you wait? Miniature quiche?”

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