Reckoning 12, 6106 RTR (14 May 2006) Layth and Tasha share their insecurities and fears, and comfort each other.
(Amazonia) (Layth) (Tasha)
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Ritual Bower
Surrounded by tall hedges for privacy, this gazebo is used for special rituals and nuptials. The ornate latticework of the structure is all but invisible, covered by years of creeping vines. The vines even provide curtains of a sort, hanging down over the open spaces in the lattice. Two low, wide benches hug opposite sides, with weatherproof storage cubbies beneath them for keeping leather padding and blankets. An altar of sorts is opposite the entry, combining a table top and storage cabinets with the corners being carved into the likeness of pregnant Lapi.

Roland assured Tasha and Layth that nobody would be using the bower for the day, and told them to just head back to Lucia's room when they were finished. That is, assuming they can find their way out of the hedge maze that surrounds the gazebo.

Tasha strides in and drops her butt down on one of the benches, crossing her legs. "It's abou' time we 'ad somewhere private. I've seen enough conies an' bunnies to last me a lifetime," she complains.

"Ah, then you wish me to leave you in peace?" Layth asks and starts heading towards the doorway. "I'm very sorry for bothering you."

Tasha quickly gets up and grabs Layth by his tail. "Oi! No no, no' you! You're no' a bunny! I mean, you are, but you're not!" She tries to haul him backwards. "You're no' like the others."

"Ah, not like the Amazonians," Layth says as he stops and looks over his shoulder. "I am, you know. Well, at least I was born here. Lady Aisha isn't very comfortable here either. I did try and warn her against coming."

Tasha releases Layth's tail, then strides back to reseat herself. "I though' it would be this big adventure, aye? An' it is bu' … It isn't, either. Everyone's jus' odd! Tradition an' cultures an' what-not – makes my 'ead 'urt! Don't think Amazonia would know a good time if it fell out o' the sky," he says.

"The wilder areas are not as structured; but they are also more dangerous," Layth notes as he finds a bench to sit down on. "Though, the definition of a good time does vary vastly by culture, you know. For example, the Khatta in Abu Dhabi like to be complimented and preened."

"I like to be complimented and preened! More than I like to 'ave to kill people an' have babies," says the woman. She leans back against the framework, folding her hands behind her head. "Plus, I don' even know wha' I'm doin' 'ere or supposed to do. I'm no' anythin' to anyone 'ere, an' I'm no warrior – no' like Calli an' the rest. At least with The Rake I knew where I stood. Here … Well! You know wha' I mean, don' you? You don' look any more comfortable than I do. Miss the desert, is it?"

"I am … well, possibly in more danger here than you are. I'm thankful they haven't decided I should be killed because I'm contaminated by the outside," Layth admits with a small shrug. "And … they do know how to have fun and enjoy themselves. But, we're outsiders, so we don't see that aspect. It's all part of their family structure where the 'fun' is. As for having babies … if they didn't have rules and arrangements … the land wouldn't be able to support the population size that would occur."

Tasha's eyes drift as Layth talks about population sizes, but she looks back at him when he finishes. "I guess I'm no' much for family. S'not like I 'ave much o' one, aye? I 'ave me mum, back in Rephidim, me father – where 'ever 'e is – an' Cap'n Eyeshine, who's like me dad. Tha's abou' it. All this big lovey-dovey family business makes my fur stand on end. Same with you?" She raises her brows, questioningly.

"I remember my mother vaguely. She was harsher than Calli. Other than that, I just remember the Khatta who raised me. Not much of a family, just myself and him, but such are the ways the wind blew in my life. But, to answer what I believe is your question, yes, the large families make me a bit uncomfortable. It's alien to me," Layth admits and pushes back his hears.

The Vartan nods. "Calli an' Aisha ought an' be used to it, bu' I'm not. An', what's worse, everyone thinks I'm some sort o' bunny too! I s'pose it's nice to fit in an' all, for once. Never 'ad anyone think I fit in, exactly – no' even the Vartans. But, it's no' right, like. I feel like a big fake 'ere. Never felt less like I belonged anywhere in me life." As she talks, Tasha reaches over and takes up a strand of vine, which she twirls idly as she watches it tangle around her finger.

"Do you really need to belong?" Layth asks and tilts his head curiously. "You're not a fake. It's just that here people don't realize there are different species, so everyone is just considered a version of Lapi."

"I don't know if I need to belong, bu' I rather wan' to. Somewhere, you know? Maybe I only belong back on me ship. I don' know." Tasha shrugs her shoulders, making her thick-braided hair fall to her side. "I guess you're righ' about the Lapi business. Lapi's everywhere. Never been anywhere where there were so many o' the same species. It's a bi' unnatural, it is." She laughs a bit, then glances at Layth. "So, wha' do you wan' out o' 'ere?"

"That's easy, get out with my skin intact," Layth answers simply. "You realize I'm in danger here of some warrior deciding that they want me and just taking me? I would be stuck here forever if that happened." He shakes his head and considers something for a moment, then adds, "And really, also make sure Aisha gets out of here in one piece and unmolested. I owe that to her father."

"If some warrior says she wants you, I'll feed 'er 'er puffy-butt tail," Tasha promises, smiling. "At leas' 'ere I can smile. I smile anywhere else 'ere an' they look at me like I might eat 'em. Strange people, they are. Anyway, you like Aisha's father tha' much? She's no' bad 'ereself, bu' a bit too nose-in-the-air, if you ge' me message."

"It is not that I like him. It is what I owe him for him helping the one who saved me," Layth answers and sits back, looking up at the ceiling. "It is a matter of family honor."

"You're one o' them honorable types. I thought so from the beginnin'. It's kind o' nice. Weird, bu' nice." Tasha smiles again, this time very widely, to show she can. "I don' think my family has honor, an' if we did we'd 'ave probably sold it for somethin' more useful. Like an' ale." The woman sighs. "I could go for an' ale. Or an' airship. No airships! These people are barbarians."

"And to their eyes, you are. Much in the world is just perspective," Layth quips and looks towards the woman. "And I'm afraid you won't find much ale here. The wine is also pretty weak. What you might want to do, though, is see if you can condense some of the wine to make it stronger. Otherwise, well, all it will do is make you need to visit a tree frequently. You won't get drunk off it." He then considers something and adds, "And you know, I suspect you would actually be more comfortable outside the cities. Things are much rougher and less structured. And, well … less mannered."

"I'll 'ave to try tha' – the wine an' outside the cities. 'Course, we're in a storm wit'out a wheel if we run in to anyone tha' want's a fight. In a challenge, I'd cheat. Against a real warrior, in a real fight, I'd die. I like livin', aye?" Tasha shifts her legs, switching one leg over the other. "Want to see these temples, too. They go' pictures o' me. Lots o' places 'ave pictures o' me – ain't tha' weird? Ever 'ave that 'appen?"

"Pictures of me? No. I'm not exactly one who stands out," Layth points out and shrugs. His head tilts and he then asks, "You've never had to kill in a fight?"

"I 'ave, bu' I don' like it. I 'ad to shoot a pirate with a crossbow once. No' sure I got 'im, bu' Cap'n Eyeshine ran 'im through jus' a bit later. I'm jus' s'posed to drive when we're attacked." Tasha shrugs, ears back, as she eyes the vine she's playing with. "I don' mind a good fist-fight, bu' I don' like to kill people. Tha's goin' too far. Sometimes they ask for i' though, an' what can you do?"

"They don't enjoy it here either, you know. It is simply a way of life. And yes, there are times when you cannot help but kill. I've had to more often than not when brigands attacked the caravan," Layth says and idly plays with one of his own ears. "And with the challenge tomorrow … you understand why it works that way here, yes?"

"I think I do. Makes my 'eart ache – an' don' you tell anyone," Tasha glares at Layth to make sure he understands. "Makes me think o' me an' Zig, an' wha' might 'ave 'appened. Me own kids, killin' each other to 'ave a family! I ought an' march in to tha' temple, call meself a what-not of Abaddon, an' 'ave this 'ole thing stopped. I could change i' all! They'd listen to me! They … " Tasha shakes her head, then herself, out, and sighs. "Oi, they'd just stick me with a sword an' call i' a day."

"Yes, they would. One person can't change an entire world in a day. It's like throwing a stone against a wall; all you do is break a stone. But the wind over the years will do what that stone could not. Understand?" Layth asks. "It takes time. All things do. And I'm sorry for your date with Zig falling through. I know you were looking forward to, ah, bedding him."

"So I should throw the … oi, wind at 'em? Or … get more stones? A bigger stone! An' years! I … I 'ave no' idea wha' you mean." Tasha shrugs again, then tugs on the vine wrapped around her pointer finger. "As for Zig, well, e's a looker, 'e is. An' e's got confidence – I like tha'. Bu', e's odd. Odd like the lot o' 'em. If, skies forbid, 'e actually got me wit' a child, I'd 'ave to stay 'ere or somethin'! I'm no' leavin' my kids behind, no' 'ere. I'd steal 'em an' run for it."

"You also should know this … I doubt you would have enjoyed the experience," Layth admits and rubs his ear-ridge. "They don't bed for fun. It's a business. But, I should also point out that if he did get you pregnant, we'd likely be gone before it showed."

"They wouldn' 'ave kept me 'ere? Calli – or was i' Aisha? – said I'd 'ave to stay until 'e got i' right. I'd ruin 'is streak or record or somethin'." The Vartan laughs grimly at the thought. "Poor Zig. He'd think e' los' 'is touch. Course, if you're righ', I didn't miss much anyway. Like I said, odd people, aye." Tasha tilts her head, then rolls it to look around at Layth. "Anyone you fancy? Aisha? Calli? I saw you wit' those slaves."

"Fancy? In what manner? I like Choe, Callie, and Aisha as people. I'm used to trying to make people smile so I try to work with all of them equally," Layth says after he considers the question for a bit. "Given my … position, it's better if I don't form any real attachments to them. I'm not sure if that adequately explains it, sorry."

Tasha thinks about it a moment, head tilted, ears askew. She taps her chin, then shakes her head. "Don' explain it at all, though it's nice you like to make people smile. You ought an' become an entertainer, play music, go aroun' the world. You could sign up wit' me – I'd make sure Cap'n Eyeshine got you in. You could cook, an' rub backs, an' sing or somethin'. Beats killin' people an' watchin' some noble's daughter."

Layth laughs at that. "Matter of honor, Tasha. I'm duty-bound to Aisha right now," he reminds her. "Until that debt is paid, I cannot do something else, I'm afraid."

"Though, I do have to admit, Chloe is cute in her own way. Shy," Layth adds … rather quietly, at that.

"Well when it is, you give it a good thought an' you tell me your answer. The Rake'll be aroun', an' if we're both lucky, I'll be the cap'n by then." Tasha grins. "Ol' Eyeshine doesn't think I'm ready. Says I'm too loose wit' the crew! S'not like 'e ever said anything before. Says they won' respect me." The woman hrmphs, tugging the vine until it snaps. She shakes the tangle off and adds, "You ought an' tell 'er that. Give 'er a backrub. Sing an' cook. Jus' you be careful, or else you may never leave 'ere."

"And that is exactly why I won't. I do not want to stay here," Layth says, getting up now and starting to pace some. "So, are you going to go to the fight tomorrow?"

Tasha nods slowly. "I guess I 'ave to. Don' expect me to like it, bu' I've pro'ly seen worse somewhere. I 'ope I can get a contract with Calli's mum an' get out o' 'ere soon," answers the Vartan.

"I bathed with her. She was … nice. I feel duty-bound to go for that, if nothing else. Pretending it isn't happening doesn't change things," Layth notes and starts pacing faster, agitated. "And heh, we haven't even spoken with the Queen yet. I suppose if all else fails, just get Master Lightfoot to please her until she signs the contract, eh?"

"Haw, poor Aaron'd break before that. 'E jus' ain't built for the rough stuff," says Tasha, laughing. She hops up too, fluttering her wings and putting a hand on her hip. "Might do, though. 'E's always givin' me a bad time o' it – serve 'im right."

"Better him than me, I suppose. I doubt she'd find much interest in me, thankfully," Layth notes and looks towards Tasha.

"Oi, don' look at me. I don' think she'd like me either, an' she's a bit scary," insists the woman.

"I don't find her scary. No moreso than her daughter," Layth notes.

"Calli's a bi' scary. No' like a monster scary, bu' scary in 'er tradition." Tasha begins stepping with Layth, trying to keep face to face with him while he moves around. "I wonder if she'll give i' a go – the contract I mean. Lots o' money to made 'ere, even if they are barbarians. It'd mean a lo' for Cap'n Eyeshine, an' 'e could retire sooner – which'd mean I get me own ship jus' as fast."

"My gut tells me … no. Because Master Lightfoot will stop it. He doesn't want the outside mixing with this place. For good reason, really," Layth says and looks over to Tasha. "Would you want their armies trying to take over the world?"

"I don' mean 'ave 'em know abou' the world. I mean, Calli's out an' about, an' you don't see 'er sendin' ships an' armies 'ere and there. I jus' wan' to trade as Calli does, an' I'd be better at it. Calli's a dear, bu' she don't know the outside world like I do," Tasha explains.

"And you don't know this place. Either way, there's a problem," Layth points out.

Tasha stops following, folding her arms. "Well wha' am I to do then? I 'ave to try, otherwise I'm jus' waitin' to leave 'ere. There 'as to be somethin' to get out o' all this," she insists.

"I'm just saying don't be hurt or surprised if it fails, not to stop trying," Layth says and holds up his hands. "You do need to relax. I can nearly smell the tension."

"'Ow can anyone no' be tense aroun' 'ere? I smile; I get weird looks. I say anythin' about meself, an' I could be shiskabob. No one drinks, an' a roll in the hay is for jus' 'avin' kids! It's like some Lapi 'ell, made 'o gold an' marble." Tasha shudders, tail flicking.

"And here I'm thinking of what Master Lightfoot said earlier. About how it looks so civilized and beautiful on the outside," Layth notes, looking a bit amused for the moment. "What would relax you?"

"I do know. 'Ow 'bout a backrub? You said you'd give me one, an' now's a good time for it," suggests Tasha, raising a brow.

"Well, you'd have to sit down, then. It's rather hard to give someone a backrub while they're walking around, looking like they want to chew through a post," Layth notes with a grin and then points to a bench. He then looks around and says, "I do have to wonder if we're being spied on in here."

"Roland said we'd be alone, an' it's no' like we're in a public place. I may 'ave to fly out of this maze if I'm ever to get back to our rooms," Tasha states. She glances around, then walks back to her bench and has a seat. "You're goin' to 'ave to 'elp me with this armor. I like 'ow shiny an' leather it is, bu' it's a trick to get on."

"The buckles in the back do make it difficult to remove, yes," Layth notes and goes over and behind Tasha. Before he undoes anything, though, he asks, "I assume you are clothed underneath, yes?"

"No' really, bu' you've already seen the goods anyway, back in the bath 'ouse," answers the Vartan.

"Er, yes, well, it's not like we have a door here. And I don't want anyone who wanders in to get the wrong idea," Layth notes and looks around. "You can imagine Master Lightfoot walking in, yes? He'd either pass out or start laughing."

Tasha laughs at that. "I think 'e'd get tha' broken, flustered look on 'is face an' then run off. 'E does tha' every time 'e sees me naked." The Vartan scooches back against Layth, then flicks her ponytail over her shoulder again. "You should 'ave seen 'im when I 'ad that picture done. Thought 'e might explode."

"I can only imagine," Layth notes, then remembers something and feels under the bench and pulls out a blanket. He reaches around and drops it into her lap, noting, "Something to preserve your modesty as necessary." The Lapi then starts undoing the armor buckles.

"Modesty, like honor, isn't somethin' I 'ave a lot o' use for. Leave it to them hoity-toity nobles an' their palaces. I ain't a noble, pro'ly never will be, an' I don' 'ave a palace." Tasha shrugs off the top of the armor when Layth undoes the last buckle, then sticks her tongue out at him before she tosses the towel over her shoulder.

Layth simply reaches up and catches the towel. "Be thankful I don't tie this around your head," he says with a smirk. The Lapi then takes a bit of time to actually get a good look as to how Tasha's back is actually built and where the wings go. This involves a lot of moving, poking, and prodding.

"My 'ead is one of me best features, it'd be your loss," Tasha insists. She blinks back at Layth when he pokes, prods, and generally squirms around. "Is somethin' broken back there? Are me wings not preened right? Me mum always said I'd 'ave problems preenin', wha' wit' not 'aving a beak."

"Except your head is attached to your mouth … which is not always one of your best features," Layth points out, grinning slightly. "And no, nothing is broken, I'm trying to figure out where all your muscles even are. It is a bit complicated."

"I 'ave 'alf a mind to show you 'ow good a feature my mouth is." Tasha grins, then pokes Layth back. "I've 'ad me share o' compliments on it. Course, I may jus' bite you. Or both." She flutters her wings, now, and resumes looking forward. "Never though abou' the muscles in me back much. I guess there's no a lot o' people like me."

"Oof. And thus the world sighed a small thank you," Layth says quietly, still grinning. After a bit more inspection, the Lapi shrugs and starts working on Tasha's neck. There are times the Lapi's grip is rather strong and somewhat painful as he digs into a muscle. "You are more tense then even you probably realize," he remarks, "You have the beginnings of significant knots in your muscles."

Tasha winces, bending forward a bit. "I do now tha' you're tyin' 'em in knots," she complains.

"For example, right here," Layth notes and one of his thumbs dig in, resulting in a rather unpleasant burning sensation. "This will hurt for a bit, I'm sorry," he says. "It will feel better afterwards, though."

Tasha glares over her shoulder. "I get i' now. You beat people up until they say you're good a' this."

"Depends on who you talk to. You don't take very good care of yourself and this is the result. Just breathe and try to relax. It should pass," Layth says and lifts a hand up to nudge Tasha into looking forward again.

"I'm relaxin', I'm relaxin'!" Tasha looks forward, then inhales. She holds it for a moment, then sighs.

"You're yelling," Layth points out and then just goes back to work. Points of soft fire seem to erupt all along Tasha's upper back and wing joints. But, thankfully that doesn't really last too long and it starts settling into a much more pleasant and enjoyable kneading sensation.

"I'm not yellin'," Tasha insists, loudly. A little bit later, she breathes another sigh – this one far less frustrated than the first. "Oi, I think I'm seein' it now. Tha's not so bad."

"See? I told you as much," Layth notes quietly. His brow furrows as he works and it becomes apparent again that he's stronger than he first looks. He goes about moving her wings and adjusting the joint positions as he tries to follow the muscle flow. "You know, there are potions that might help with the levels of frustration you've been feeling."

"I've 'ad 'em. It was depressin'. It was like me whole world was suddenly very clear an' very borin'. Ever walk in to a meetin' of port officials? Stuffy, humorless, energyless, fat men? Aye, they get the job done, bu' I wouldn't wan' to be in tha' room more than a moment. It's like a tavern wit'out beer!" Tasha shudders again.

"Well, the only other potions I'm aware of tend to make desires worse. I don't think that would be very helpful for you, either," Layth notes absently. "Could be amusing to slip into Master Lightfoot's drink, though. When he gets obnoxious… "

Tasha laughs again, rich and loud. She really does laugh very loudly when she isn't trying to hide it. "Then 'e would explode. 'E's a flustered man, 'e is. Probably 'as more knots than a sail. An' you know, this really ain't 'alf bad."

"Of course, if you do that, I'll deny any knowledge of the idea," Layth notes quickly and still grinning. "I've never used either, myself. So I'm not really sure how they make you feel," he remarks absently and finally moves lower, under the wings. It's there he stops and hmms.

"Aaron gave me the one tha' makes desire go away. It was awful. Don' ever try it. I think the Amazonians drugged themselves right out of all their fun," Tasha insists. Blinking, Tasha looks over her shoulder to see what Layth's 'hmming' about. "I don' 'ave some deck tar there, do I? Could o' swore I got all tha'."

"No. Hold still," Layth says and places his palm against the small of her back. And then suddenly, his other hand grips her shoulder and there's a firm and quick pull and push motion. It's followed by a rather loud popping sound. "You had a slight shift of your spine," he finally explains.

Tasha makes a sound rather like 'ga-arwrf!' when he spine is adjusted, then she blinks before shaking herself out like a wet dog. "Brr! Tha' was odd. I better no' be a cripple now, or I'm eatin' your ears," she says.

Layth reaches up and flicks one of Tasha's ears for that comment. "Hardly. If I had broken something, it would have hurt," he remarks and then rolls his eyes a bit. "Can you reach one of the cabinets? If so, see what's in it."

Tasha flails a bit with a hand before she grabs the handle on one of the cabinets and pulls it open. After that, she has to strain her head forward a bit to get a good look without moving her back too far away from Layth.

Inside are two shelves. The upper shelf holds several small, deep bowls with intricate designs painted in them. Below that, the bottom shelf looks a bit like a wine rack, with small bottles – one colored white, one blue, and another red.

"Anything of interest?" Layth asks and sits up, partially leaning over Tasha's back.

"It's go' a bunch o' fancy bowls, an' some bottles. Red, white, an' blue bottles," Tasha answers. She grabs a red bottle and passes it over her shoulder.

Layth takes it and peers at it, trying to make out any writing.

Aside from the color, the bottle doesn't have any distinguishing features at all, aside from a wax-coated cork.

The woman picks up a white bottle and holds it at eye level, before sniffing it. "Amazonians aren't big on labels, aye?"

"So, care to taste each one to see what they are?" Layth asks Tasha, "no labels." He tries to see if he can pull out the cork and sniff it.

The red bottle uncorks with a pop, and the liquid inside is also red. It doesn't take more than a quick sniff to tell that it's some sort of fruit wine.

"Ah, just wine, I think," Layth notes and pushes the cork back in, then offers it to Tasha. "I imagine the others are probably the items you dread."

"Sounds good to me," agrees the Vartan. She puts her teeth around the exposed end of the cork, and tugs.

The white bottle contains a clear fluid, but it acts a bit 'thicker' than wine, and has a very faint odor that could be similar to spoiled milk.

Tasha peers in the bottle, sniffs again, then wrinkles her nose. "I think mine is some sort o' spoiled milk." She puts it on the edge of the seat, where Layth can get it if he wishes. "I'm all for wine, even if it is weak."

Layth picks up the bottle Tasha sets down and sniffs it. His head tilts and he says, "Think this might be the counter potion to the Tears."

"You mean, it makes you wan' to do it?" Tasha leans forward, eyeing the white bottle again.

"I believe so, yes," Layth notes and holds that bottle out of reach.

"Aww, you're no fun. Course, I 'ardly need some potion. Maybe you do," Tasha teases, poking Layth in the ribs again. She then turns back around and spreads her wings invitingly. "I'm goin' to leave tha' blue bottle alone."

"Me? Drink this? I do not think that would be wise," Layth notes and sets the bottle down on the bench near him. The Lapi resumes working on Tasha's back and asks, "When do you intend to visit the temple?"

"Whenever I can get there. Don't 'ave the mobility aroun' 'ere tha' I might 'ave elsewhere. If I tried flyin' back to the city, I'd get an arrow in me bum – or worse." Tasha lays her ears back at the thought. "I 'ear they 'ave some big weapon that can destroy an airship! I'm no' settin' meself up to see wha' that is. And oi, I bet you'd be all timid-like even wit' tha' stuff. You're a big honorable softie! Haw."

"How I would be is really not your business," Layth notes and pokes Tasha in both her sides. "And you're not going to talk me into trying it, either," he adds with a grin.

"It is my business. Everything's my business," Tasha insists. She actually giggles at being poked so much, then flops back against Layth. "I'll jus' 'ave to try 'arder."

"Try harder? What, get me to drink that? That would be quite difficult," Layth says as he goes backwards slightly and catches himself with his hands. "I'd rather not end up like Master Lightfoot, a walking frustration."

"You try it, an' I'll try it – 'ow about that?" Tasha squirms until she rolls over to face Layth, then smiles toothily and taps his nose.

"You're already a walking frustration," Layth says with a smirk.

"You're hurtin' my feelin's," Tasha mock-complains. "Don' wan' to 'ave some fun? We're in the middle o' nowhere, jus' abou', an' 'ave you seen this buildin'? I think they sort o' expect tha' thing."

"Ah, so that's what you're looking for," Layth says and grins slightly. He takes a breath and thinks for a bit. "I thought you were not thinking of Lapi like that anymore?"

"I said I didn't like Amazonian Lapi. You're jus' fine. I'm even' surprised you didn't take advantage when I was drunk back in Parthos. Course, I guess tha's honor for you. No' that I don't appreciate tha'," says Tasha. She winks, then folds her arms under her chin, before laying her head on Layth's chest.

Layth just gives Tasha a rather odd look. He then rubs his noseridge, thinking. "Are you sure you don't want to take Roland up on his offer? I … suppose not since it has requirements attached?" he asks.

"Roland's jus' like the others, fun as 'e is. Maybe I'll talk to 'im later. Then again, 'e has tha' woman ogling 'im all the time, an' I 'ate feelin' second-rate. I'd shake 'er up a bit, if she wouldn't kill me," answers the woman. Idly, she reaches over and begins playing with the end of Layth's ear.

"She and I are of the same heritage, more or less, you know," Layth points out. "And yes, I would recommend being careful with her. She has her intentions set on Roland." The Lapi sits for a minute, thinking. And then oddly, he actually reaches over and picks up the white bottle. His nose wrinkling from the smell, he quickly takes a big drink from it.

Tasha smiles, perhaps a little too widely. She really does have a lot of pointy teeth. "Well enough abou' them, this'll be abou' us – an' the res' of Amazonia can go do it too," she says in a laugh.

Layth shakes his head and makes a face briefly. "That does not have a great taste to it, but it certainly has effect," he notes and then reaches down and tickles Tasha's nose. "I figured, for all our sakes, someone has to keep you from exploding and it seems like I'm the most qualified. Plus, I can tease Master Lightfoot later," he says as he slides back a bit. "Just remember, Lapi have good ears. Try not to get too loud… "

Tasha snatches the bottle from the Lapi's grasp, then drinks down the remainder before giving Layth a white-smeared grin. She kisses the Lapi full on the lips, smudging him with white, too, then growls softly, "Maybe you'll be yellin' before I'm done – let 'em know what they're missin'."

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GMed by BoingDragon & Jared

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Today is 20 days after New Year's Day, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)