After about a half an hour of getting lost several times, Fujitsu finally made his way to a broken-down shell of a building. Rotting wood, sub-par repairs, faulty building design. It was a wonder the place was still standing.
Now, Fujitsu normally would just go right on in and sit himself down and chug a tankard as he listened to the conversations around him, but as he saw quite clearly running around the city, Snowdrop was obviously a major city, or at least well-known. This meant that there would be people who would be suspicious of him if he went in alone; they'd know that he was up to something, even if this was the gutter of the city.
Therefore he needed a cover-up. In this case, a drinking buddy.
He looked around the outside for a good person to snatch. Not many people, though, and they all looked like they'd like to beat the crap out of him (that made Fujitsu a "sad panda", as he liked to call a sad him). However, he spotted something sleeping in between two barrels. An old man with only shorts and a beard to cover himself up.
'A bum!', Fujitsu thought gleefully, pumping his fist. Any bum he found always asked for booze money, or just stole his money, so he thought this person would be no different.
Without a moment's hesitation, he grabbed the poor guy, shouldered him, and pranced right on into the pub.
It was very dimly lit, smelled strongly of mold, and the floor creaked with a vengeance. This place was probably here for a century or two, from what Fujitsu could remember of similar places. That was good. This place then must have a reputation, and therefore regular customers with good intel, he inferred. The pub was filled, too. Both stories.
Fujitsu walked up to the bartender, who looked like he belonged in a sumo wrestling match. Or a barn, with his pig-face. He didn't want to see what was under the counter.
"Why, hello there, stranger," he greeted politely, continuing to wipe off some glasses. "My name is Mr. Artery. How may I serve you?"
"Three tankards for me 'n' my friend, here!" Fujitsu requested, in his usual cheery voice.
Mr. Artery took a look at the man Fujitsu had slumped over his shoulder, a bit concerned. "My... are you quite sure he's alive?
As if in response, the old man jolted up, mumbling, "That's my sweetroll, and this ismy birthday...." Fujitsu held in an urge to laugh as he went back to sleep.
Mr. Artery chuckled and shook his head and said, "Well, I'll get him a little special something to wake him up. And you can have that table in the middle there."
Fujitsu couldn't have hoped for a better spot. Plopping the old man down at the said table, Fujitsu had started taking in the talk around him.
"Hey, you hear about Mismer...." "Oh yeah, hahahah. Served him right...."
"Goddamn Noodle and his "exclamation point!"...."
"Yammer yaddayadda radda yammer..."
The bartender came back with the three tankards and two buckets. He slammed the drinks down, fully waking the old man up. As he sputtered, trying to take in his surroundings, Artery placed the buckets to the side of them. "If you can't hold it in, please do dispose of it in those, please."
"Yessir!" saluted Fujitsu, immediately, chugging down his first tankard.
"Damn Ulric." "What now?" "Picking fights again. Shouting at everybody he sees. Nobody even knows why."
As the old man calmed down, Fujitsu pushed his drink closer to him, grinning ear to ear. "Drink up, man! I'mma already payed for it, so ya' gotta 'njoy it."
Fuijtsu finished up his first round already. Aside from a little shakiness, he seemed relatively unaffected.
"I'm afraid I don't understand," he replied, looking blankly at Fujitsu.
In response, Fujitsu grabbed his shoulder, pulled him close to him, and whispered in his ear. "Look, frien'- can I call ya' friend? Ya got dis big-ass cup-thingamajig in front of ya', full'a da good stuff. What's da good stuff? ... Hell, I dunno. Could be poison for all I know. But more importantly, it's free 'n' probably da best thing you'll get'n a long time. So who cares? Drink up. Fuji, b'th'way."
After Fujitsu pushed him back to where he was, the man considered this, scratching his beard. After a minute, he replied, "Well, one, Xectix. And two... ah, who cares about the logic, I'm with ya!"
Both cheered and hit each other's tankards (Fujitsu started on his second one). Xectix was knocked to the floor because Fujitsu didn't bother to contain his strength. They seemed to pass for normal drinkers by the others in the pub, and payed no mind to them, other than to laugh at their foolishness.
"Oi, Dolby, get a load 'a these gois!" "YAH, THAY LOOK LAIK THAY'D BEH FUN INNA HOEDOWN."
"By the gods, can't a family man get some rest around here?"
"That young one looks kinda hot..." "You can't even see his face, Marty, and you're drunk."
Fujitsu helped Xectix up and back into his seat while Artery cleaned up the mess of the spilled brew. "See, ain't this fun?" he laughed.
"Indeed, although me and Henry have a problem, so it isn't as much fun as it could be."
"Who's Henry?" Fuji asked, not caring about the said problem.
Xectix pulled out the twig from his beard. "Behold!"
He stared at this "Henry", as if mesmerized, or like he was being enlightened, only to be broken from this trance as the old man tucked him away moments later ("Good-bye, Henry...").
"Well, in any case, we are in need of help. To return home. We are to find help here, in fact."
Fujitsu scratched his head. "Huh. Coulda sworn you were a bum. Well, if ya' need an escort, once I'm done visiting this place, I could help you."
Shaking his head, Xectix replied, "Oh, nonono. It's not that simple. See, me and my friend are not of this world. Where I'm from, there is no place known as 'Escartes', let alone 'Snowdrop'."
"Oh yes," confirmed the old coot, nodding, "We stumbled into an archway, through a portal, and ended up in this place."
"Really." Fujitsu was now curious. This man had gone straight from bum to most-important-lead-ever. Forget the useless ramblings in this dreary place: this guy was gold. He didn't even consider the fact that he could just be crazy. "And d'ya know anything other'n that?
Xectix finished up what was left of the beer. "Well, the one who supposedly brought me here said I would find help here. Oh! He's from that college in the up-"
Fujitsu stood straight up, interrupting him. 'A'course! The college must be regarding this as important research and must be covering the trails! IT ALL MAKES SENSE...."
The old man laughed. "Well, certainly I must have excited you with this story. Not sure if you believe me, but-"
Fujitsu once again interrupted poor Xectix's thoughts and grabbed him by the shoulders. "You need to take me to this man."
"... So you believe me. Oh. Well, what's in it for you?"
"You get me something that goes 'P'CHOO-WAAAAAAH...'" Fujitsu described an explosion with his hands.
Xectix thought for a second. "But wouldn't you rather have something that goes 'VWOMP-WOM... vwop.!'?" He described an implosion with his hands.
Neither of them knew why they were bargaining for help that would get them both what they wanted, but they payed it no thought and clasped each others' hands.
And a strange pact was born.