Mar. 18. Chiaroscuro, Envoy, Kaela, Vielanika and Rawrii run into each other in the Bazaar.
(Rephidim Bazaar) (Chiaroscuro) (Envoy) (Kaela) (Rephidim)
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In that fuzzy border between the city proper of Rephidim and the run-down near-ruins that are better known as Darkside can be found a constant circus known as the Bazaar, full of colors and scents – some pleasant, some not to pleasant.

Oases of calmness in the bustle of the crowds are often occupied by street performers who provide welcome distractions for passersby of high and low station alike, earning a few shekels to be tossed in their hats or cups or other convenient containers. (They also seem to provide welcome distractions for the everpresent pickpockets.)

To one side, someone has made up a rickety contraption that seems to be intended to pass for a stage, complete with patched curtains, and a tent nearby, presumably for dressing (or as a place for retreat for those performers who were not quite so well received).

A loud-mouthed hawker announces the next act with a bunch of vague adjectives which really give no indication as to the name of the performer or what exactly he DOES, except that he's really, really great, and you've just GOT to see.

A brown bat and a brown-shelled Vykarin are among those suckered into taking a closer look.

Envoy sits down crosslegged close to the stage.

Rawrii sniff-sniffs about, then looks down just in time to see a six-legged rodent scurrying along. *CHOMP* He looks back up, a satisfied expression on his face, while Vielanika demurely looks the other way, a faintly sick one on hers.

Rawrii barks, "Rernite!"

Suddenly, a manic-looking Kavi jumps forth from the tent… twisting around in a double somersault before landing. What appears to be black and white fur is streaked and dyed in a dizzying array of colors, and his clothes are no less bright. The effect of the clothes is comical, but not clashing.

Vielanika nods, "Yes, yes, I know… " She looks away again, sighing, but grateful at the distraction provided by the Kavi.

Envoy blinks, and breaks into a wider grin than usual at the acrobat's antics.

Several of the younger and smaller members of the audience giggle and clap gleefully at the appearance of the acrobat, while the hawker clamps his mouth firmly shut, letting the present act do his thing.

The bright-dyed Kavi bows to the audience, and other Kavis stream from the tent, doing other flips, tumbles, and jumps. Their costumes are more muted, but still bright, and the display is quite colorful, and distracting. Shiny headbands on all their heads reflect the light dazzlingly.

A couple of Vartans take a keener interest in the proceedings. "Shiny!" one squawks.

The dyed Kavi raises his foot, and begins to stomp out a dance beat. Soon, the other Kavis join in a vigourous, acrobatic dance, stomping, whirling, and tumbling. The dizzying flow of color brings even more passers-by to watch…

Envoy thumps her tail, and starts adding silly sound effects to match each bump and stomp.

A few cubs giggle all the more at the sounds, and start looking around, trying to figure out where those sounds are coming from.

The main performer then enters the dance himself, doing high jumps, moves which seem spine-wrenching, bright-dyed body whirling, flowing, dancing.

Several "ooo"s and "ah"s emit from the crowd.

Envoy claps along to the antics as well.

Suddenly, half the Kavi jump upon the shoulders of the others, and continue the dancing there!

"Oooooo!" Vielanika says. "Only a Kavi could do that… " she shakes her head.

Envoy blinks at the new antics, and practically bounces in place!

The dancing isn't vigourous as before, and after a bit, some of the Kavis fall off… landing in positions so comic one suspects they might be falling deliberately. But not the main performer, who is moving as nimbly as always… flipping from hands to feet and back in wild dance!

Rawrii notices Envoy, and his tongue lolls. "Rnroy!" He slips away from Vielanika and starts wriggling through the crowd, working toward Envoy. Most folks know to keep clear of a wagging Vykarin tail, so he is making pretty good headway.

Vielanika notices the departing Vykarin, and quickly slips in behind him, traveling in the "wake" of his passage.

All the Kavi are off of shoulders now except the main performer, who jumps from shoulder to shoulder in crazy spins and flips, sometimes wobbling, but never falling.

Envoy looks over her shoulder to Rawrii, and points to the stage with a big smile.

Vielanika is so distracted by this that she accidentally gets within tail-range. *whapwhap* "Ow!" She's more careful next time.

Rawrii plops down beside Envoy, his tail thwapping on the ground behind him. Vielanika slips up as well. "Hello there! Oh my, I'll have so much to tell you about my adventures today. But … " She looks to the stage. "That can wait. Wow. Who IS that Kavi?"

Envoy bobs her head as she watches, and says to Vielanika, "Oh, he isn't a Kavi. His hands aren't the same."

The other Kavi start to form a pyramid structure, wilkd-costumed bodies scrambling above other bodies… and atop the pyramid is the dyed 'Kavi', still dancing… then suddenly, as the pyramid forms completely, all motion stops.

A sudden hush falls over the gathered crowd as they gaze upwards…

Vielanika's eyes are glued to the now-still Kavi pyramid.

The lead performer jumps up, high into the sky… seeming to fly as he reaches the apex of his jump…

Vielanika gasps … She sure wouldn't want to be under him when he comes back DOWN!

The 'Kavi' spins downward, curled in a ball, brightly whirling colors and shiny headband flashing in the air, spinning faster than would seem possible…

Envoy blinkblinks at the light flashing into her eyes.

The performer breaks from the spin and lands, feet on the stage, arms upward and out, triumphantly!

Vielanika gasps again, then stands up, and begins clapping fiercely. "Wonderful!"

Envoy claps enthusiastically!

Rawrii's tail THWOCK THWOCKs against the ground loudly, his own contribution to the applause and cheers from the crowd.

Behind him, the other Kavis jump down from their former pryamid, and they all bow to the audience, smiling proudly.

Many of the crowd show their appreciation with a rain of shekels that clatter on the stage and in conveniently-placed collection bowls.

Envoy talks to Vielanika while she applauds, "Look at his lower jaw. I don't think he is of mustelid extraction."

"His lower jaw?" Vielanika wonders aloud. "Envoy, how do you take the time to NOTICE things like that?"

The Kavis all grin widely, continuing to bow, doing small tumbling tricks that conveniently happen to scoop up the shekels, and steadily depart. The main performer stays the last of all, bowing to a fresh round of applause, and tumblespinning off.

Vielanika says determinedly, "I've got to meet him."

Envoy nods to the batbat. "We'd better hurry. They could all be heading for another stage elsewhere in the Bazaar."

Kaela patters along through the avenue between booths, carrying a thick ceramic cup in one hand. Her gait is unsteady, favoring one leg, as the muscles of the other have begun to seize up. Finally, she permits herself the luxury of a short rest, panting softly and glancing about, her gaze finally settling on that troupe of acrobats.

Vielanika tries to work her way around, for the tent, and almost stumbles across the kit. "Oop!"

Envoy smiles, "Hello, Kaela! You look worn out."

A look of recognition sweeps across Vielanika's face, and she seems torn now between chasing after that mysterious Kavi and checking after this cheetah kit. "Kaela – Yes, my, they've been working you hard, haven't they?" She smiles. "I think that scarf rather looks nice on you." Vielanika has a new one of her own, a brighter blue.

From inside the tent, Kavi voices can be heard, mostly mutual congratulations at the performance and the take.

Envoy rattles off a rapid string of Vykarin to Rawrii, asking if he could carry Kaela so they won't miss the acrobat.

Vielanika bites her lip. "I'm glad to see you again … but if you'll pardon me … well … maybe you could come along … there's this acrobat, you see… "

Kaela makes a steady stream of gestures towards Envoy. "I have to find some sugarfir leaves," she signs, "I've been cleaning all day… they need it for a recipe for company." Her mind, it seems, is still a little scattered.

Rawrii's tongue lolls, and without bothering to ask Kaela's permission … the cheetah kit soon is perched on the back of a happy-looking Vykarin.

The brown bat rushes over to the tent. "Hello? Mister Kavi Master Acrobat? Are you in there?"

Envoy signs back, "Rest a bit, and I'll help you find your leaves."

Kaela smiles at Envoy gratefully, looking simultaneously relieved to be off her feet and nervous at her detour from her errand.

Inside the tent, one Kavi voice calls out, "Hoi, Chipper, you've got a groupie!"

The Vykarin barks up to Kaela an introduction, "Rawrii!"

Envoy pokes her head in behind Vielanika.

Another voice, with a distinct and hard-to-place accent calls out, "A what? Oh, never mind, I'm coming!" The main performer bursts out from behind the curtain, looking slightly more sedate with most of his body make-up off.

Vielanika giggles. "That performance was absolutely … well … it was SPLENDID. Magnificent. Wonderful. And all sorts of other nice adjectives. I was really impressed. But then, I suppose, that's the idea."

Envoy watches the odd 'Kavi', hoping to get a look at his teeth.

Rawrii offers his own opinion. "Row!"

Kaela relaxes on Rawrii's back, vainly trying to stretch out her knotted muscles.

Envoy grins and nudges Vielanika, whispering, "He's a mongoose, I think, not a Kavi."

Chiaroscuro bows. "I must thank you, kind lady. It is my pleasure to help inspire others.", he says in a friendly baritone.

Vielanika, half-remembering Envoy's commentary, involuntarily gazes at the "Kavi's" hands. "What's a … 'mongoose'?" Vielanika asks.

Envoy blinks at the bat, and points to the Acrobat by way of explanation.

Envoy introduces herself, "I am Envoy." Gesturing to her companions, she introduces Vielanika, Rawrii, and Kaela.

Vielanika smiles and curtseys, though she's wearing trousers, not a dress. "With the exception of Kaela, we are bards, with the Rephidim Guild."

Chiaroscuro smiles. "A pleasure to meet you, Envoy, Vielanika, Rawrii, Kaela. I am Chiaroscuro Themyst, though most here in the bazaar call me Chipper… bards, you say?"

Envoy nodnodnods. "Are you an alien?"

Vielanika nods. "Yes, most certainly. I am proficient in the Paired Flute, while Rawrii plays drums. Envoy – " She looks to Envoy. "Envoy, that is an odd thing to ask!"

Rawrii barks, "Rawrii ruv rums!" Making the "m" sound is evidently an effort for him. It almost comes out more like an "n".

Chiaroscuro nods to Envoy. "I certainly am, I first walked this world in Ashdod. Though I'm glad to be making Rephidim my new home."

Envoy blinks at Vielanika, "Sorry." To Chiaroscuro, "Forgive me if I caused offense. I am an Exile myself, and have not seen anyone else of your species here on Sinai before."

Kaela glances into her empty cup anxiously. Things will not be pleasant if she's late getting back with the sugarfir leaves.

Rawrii somehow senses Kaela's distress, and whines a little, craning his neck upward a bit, though there's no way he could possibly look back at her.

Chiaroscuro nods to Envoy. "There are very few of my people, the Ichnuemoni ."

Envoy smiles, "That's a shame. I'm unique, so I don't belong to a people."

Vielanika smiles, turning to Envoy. "Well, that's quite all right. You're a bard now. And we don't really belong to anybody."

Envoy nods and smiles, letting Vielanika talk to Chiaroscuro again.

Chiaroscuro smiles at Envoy. "Well, we are all in Omnu Rikkorenutha… the Brotherhood of Rik's Blessed. So none truly can have no people."

Vielanika giggles, turning toward Chiaroscuro. "You know, from what I hear, a rumor circulating through the Temple is that Envoy is the illegitimate daughter of Inquisitor Melchizedek. Some have been calling her an 'Aeolun' – that's a cross between 'Aeonian' and 'Solus'."

"Of course, anyone in the Temple should know better, but you know how rumors are. I think it's more a joke than anything," the bat winks.

From deep in the tent, loud clanking noises can be heard, a voice calls out. "Chipper! Our next performance is going to be in a short while, make it snappy!"

Chiaroscuro nods to Vielanka. "The Temple does seem to be the source of all rumors here, does it not?" He calls back in the tent, "In a few moments!"

Vielanika sighs. "Well, I suppose I shouldn't delay you. Uhm … well … maybe we'll see you again sometime. I'm regularly performing here or there. Sometimes Envoy as well. She's good enough to work on her own now – You'd be amazed at how quickly she learns!"

Envoy says, "Perhaps we could perform together sometime, if music would suit your performance?"

Rawrii nods enthusiastically, shaking his rider.

Kaela ooofs…

Chiaroscuro smiles. "I would be pleased to see one of your performances, I am sure." He nods to Envoy. "Perhaps. Though you should talk with Piti, the showmaster about that. But I'll be free this evening, if you'd like to talk further."

Kaela fidgets nervously and tries to catch Envoy's eye.

Envoy notices Kaela, "Certainly, Chiaroscuro!"

Vielanika bows again. "It's been a pleasure to meet you!"

Envoy excuses herself and signs to Kaela, "Where do you get sugarfir leaves?"

The brown bat slips back out, and tug-tugs on Rawrii's tail.

Kaela signs, "I have to find a merchant who's selling them."

Rawrii barks, "Rye rye!" With that, he trots backwards out of the tent.

Envoy waves to the busy performers and follows the others out.

The tent itself starts to wobble, as holding posts are removed by other 'Kavi'. Chiaroscuro smiles, and says "Meet me at the Southern end of Sure'lian Street, in the Tavern there. Until later, Ladies, Gentleman." With a bow, he returns into the tent.

Kaela bounces slightly, jostled as Rawrii trots.

Vielanika whispers to Envoy, "What's up? What is the little one telling you?"

Envoy whispers to the batbat, "She needs to get a cup of sugarfir leaves in a hurry."

Vielanika hmms. "Sugarfir leaves? Those are from very far away right now. Your chances would be much better if this were a time when Rephidim was over the continent of Ur. They have those in Ashdod, you know." She licks her lips, thinking of those fabulous Babel candies…

Kaela looks between the two, worriedly.

Envoy says, "Somebody must have them. Chiaroscuro said he arrived here from Ashdod, so maybe other things have arrived as well."

"If we're going to find some … we'll have to find someone who specializes in a wide variety of exotics, and it won't be cheap," the brown bat frowns…

Behind the group, the tent collapses, Kavis hustling to gather it up and tote it off to another location down the Bazaar.

Vielanika snaps her fingers. "Certainly! Oh dear, he's gone already, isn't he? Maybe he'd know if anything else came over. Oh well. Hmm."

Rawrii licks his chops. "Rurarrir!"

Envoy says, "A lot of Eeee come from Ashdod, don't they? Is there anyplace that caters largely to Eeee?"

Vielanika smiles. "How silly of me! Yes, there are plenty of those. I just … ah … well, that's another story." She looks around.

Kaela pulls out a small handful of coins she was given. She signs, "This is all I have to purchase it with."

Vielanika cups her hands around her mouth, and lets out a high-pitched squeak that is on the very edge of audibility. Several Jupani nearby whine and shuffle away.

Envoy smiles and signs back, "Don't worry about it."

After a bit, Vielanika's ears swivel as she picks up something. "Aha! This way… "

Envoy follows along!

Rawrii trots along as well, bouncing the cheetah on his back, prompting passersby to keep well clear of the wagging tail.

Kaela remains upon Rawrii's back. Riding instead of walking is something of a novelty to her. And probably provokes more than a few incredulous stares.

It does provoke a few looks … but then, Vykarins aren't exactly held in high regard, either, so it's more an amusing sight than anything else.

The bat's path winds past several booths, and into a stretch in which several vendors are hawking mysterious gizmos.

"Squeeps! Get your squeeps here! Right-handed, left-handed, we've got 'em all!"

"White squeeps! Don't settle for red! Only the finest – made from Bromthen ivory from the distant Savan!"

"New! Improved! BLUE squeeps! They're blue! Need we say more?"

Envoy blinks at all the vendors. It was so difficult to find a squeep a few days ago…

Past the shouts and howls of the hawkers, there are some clustered tents up ahead … and there are many more bats than elsewhere.

A sign reads something in a foreign tongue. Vielanika smiles and translates: "Little Babel". She frowns, saying, "But let's not stay here for very long, okay?"

Kaela blinks slowly but nods. "I have to get back soon," she signs.

Envoy nods, "Kaela is in a hurry anyway."

Under a canopy, several bats are gorging themselves on steaming plates filled with … bugs. Big juicy bugs. Yum. Er … that is, if you're a bat.

Envoy's eyes go wide at the sight of the strange bugs, trying to make out features.

Another stand nearby has all sorts of fruit. A black bat brushes by, wearing long robes, and the top of his head is rather dishevelled, looking badly in need of combing. As he turns to look at the group passing by, his eyes open more widely for a moment – seeming to glow red in the waning sunlight. He smiles fangily, then disappears into the crowd.

Vielanika points up ahead. "There!" Another booth sports all sorts of candies.

Kaela fidgets nervously. "Let's hurry," she signs, her gaze drawn towards the setting sun. "I'm going to be late… "

Envoy signs, "One of us can fly the leaves back for you."

Candied fruits, sweet-coated bugs, translucent lollipops that look like amber … complete with little multipods suspended inside.

But there are also several pinkish candies … and what look like pink leaves.

Vielanika waves to get the proprietor's attention. "Sugarfir leaves! I want to do some cooking."

Kaela climbs off of Rawrii's back and holds her coins towards Vielanika, letting her do the requisite haggling.

A bat with tired, pinkish eyes and a flanged, oversized nose, squeaks back at Vielanika, not bothering to use Rephidim Standard. Soon, there's a high-pitched exchange, with much hand-waving and finger-pointing.

Vielanika takes just a moment to whisper to Envoy, "How much does the kitten need?"

Envoy looks over the other candies with with Rawrii. "A cup full," she whispers back.

Envoy points to the little china cup Kaela is carrying.

Vielanika reaches to get the cup from Kaela.

Kaela gives the cup to Vielanika, making a quick sign of "pressed".

Envoy says, "Pressed?"

Vielanika takes the cup and returns to haggling with the bat.

Kaela signs, "Pressed into the cup. Not loose."

Envoy ohs, understanding now. "Pack them in tight, Vielanika."

Several loud squeaks and threatening gestures later, the group is trotting away with a cup filled to the rim with a dense packing of sweet pink stuff … and then some, with plenty more piled on the top. And Kaela has change. Still, this is pretty pricey for just a cup…

Nearby, a Naga hawker on a stage waves around a bottle containing some sort of brownish fluid. "Doctor Kural's Wonder Oil! It fixes what ails you!"

Kaela reaches for the cup. She signs, "I need to hurry home… "

The Naga, who speaks remarkably hiss-free Rephidim Standard, says, "Cures the common cold! Relieves aches and pains! Kills fleas! Protects against rabies! Soothes swollen joints! Restores your fur or scales to a new and lustrous sheen!"

Envoy says, "How fast can we get to the Mikide Estate, Vielanika? Should one of us fly the leaves?"

Vielanika hmms, looking at the cup. "Well, I suppose the cup should be covered so it won't spill… " She gets out a clean cloth (She has several of those … for bandages, maybe?) and secures it over the top of the cup, wrapping a string around and through the handle.

"Restores vitality! Keeps your fur from falling out!" the Naga crows in a very loud and un-snake-like manner.

Envoy eyes the hawker, and calls, "Does it use nanotechnology?"

The Naga blinks, "Nanowhozzis?"

Envoy shakes her head, "Nevermind."

The Naga recovers his composure and barks out, "Yes, it can even cure you of the dreaded bane of nanotechnolosis!"

Kaela watches Vielanika nervously.

Vielanika frowns. "I can't carry the kitten. I'm too light for that. But I could get the cup there pretty fast. Uhm … just where is 'there', anyway?"

Envoy shrugs. "I've never been there."

Envoy looks over Kaela, seeing if she has recovered her strength yet.

Kaela swallows a bit. After a moment of pondering, she shakes her head. " They wouldn't like it," she signs. She reaches for the cup, standing up again, though placing most of her weight on one leg.

Kaela pauses, though, as something clicks.

A lady cheetah dressed in white walks along, wearing a collar that marks her as Temple property. She glances in the direction of the cheetah riding the Vykarin for just a moment, a curious expression quickly lost as she turns away and heads over toward a far booth.

Vielanika asks, "Is it in the countryside, or is this at his townhouse?"

Kaela looks back towards the Naga. She signs to Envoy, "Buy me some of that wonder oil?" She holds the last of her money towards Envoy.

Vielanika hmms. "Of course, if it's the countryside, maybe if we could get it to his townhouse, if he has any fliers there… "

Envoy takes the coins, and signs, "Are you sure?"

Vielanika looks quizzically at Envoy. "I HAVE to learn Savanite sign someday, I suppose. What now?"

Envoy says, "Kaela was very tired when she reached the Bazaar."

Kaela nods quickly. She signs, "My mother has fallen ill… and the healers can't help her."

Envoy turns to the Naga vendor and purchases a bottle of snake(Naga?)-oil.

The Naga grins and hands over the oil, taking the remainder of the shekels. "Ah yes. This should cure all that ails you! You won't regret it! If it doesn't work, I GUARANTEE twice your money back!"

Envoy hands the bottle over to Kaela, and signs, "I hope this helps your mother."

Vielanika pouts. "What's she saying? What are YOU saying? OOOO! I hate being left out… "

Kaela smiles up at the Naga, then to Envoy, tentatively. She holds the bottle close, hoping. Quickly she signs, "I have to go. Back to the townhouse. I'm already late."

Vielanika looks to Envoy expectantly, for the translation.

Envoy nods and smiles to Kaela, then turns to Vielanika, "She's going to run to the Townhouse. Her mother is sick, and she hopes the bottle of medicine will help her."

Kaela turns and hurries off in the general direction of the townhouse, her limping stride quite pronounced.

Envoy frowns, "I think she's strained her leg."

Rawrii rrrs? He bounds off, barking and making a fuss, at the very least plowing a path through the crowds to make way for the cheetah kit – who otherwise would get no such consideration.

Vielanika sighs. "Let's fly along. After all this … oh dear. Why would they send out a kitten alone this late in the day, anyway?"

The brown bat spreads her wings and goes airborne, using her keen hearing to zero in on Rawrii's barks and the protests of Bazaargoers who get out of the way of the stampeding Vykarin.

Envoy spreads her wings and follows as well.

Envoy thinks, o O { Send a kitten? Kaela is a Princess… of course she can take care of herself. }

The white-garbed Temple slave smiles faintly as she watches the bat and Exile leave to help a lowly Savanite kit. Then she lowers her green eyes and returns to the errand she had been sent on by the Inquisitor…

Kaela moves along as quickly as she can. A fairly impressive pace for one her size, though she's somewhat hampered by her limp. She continues in what her memory tells her is more or less the right direction…

The crowds thin out as the Bazaar gives way to a better area of town. Yes, this is the right way.

Rawrii trottrots alongside Kaela, whining. "Ru ranna riie?" he barks in query.

Kaela pauses, then clambers up onto Rawrii's back, content to ride until just outside the grounds of Lord Titus' townhouse.

Rawrii's tongue lolls. He barks, "Rez ro!" With that, he clippity-clop-clops and then breaks into a gallop all the way down the street.

Envoy flaps to keep up.

Ahead can be seen the grounds to the townhouse … more like a mansion, really, just not as big as Titus' estate out in the countryside. It would look rather nice, but that huge horned shakahr skull hanging over the doorway just gives it an edge of tackiness that spoils what could be described as grandeur.

Kaela climbs off of Rawrii's back, gives him a quick smile, and then turns and hurries towards the servant's entrance to the townhouse.

Vielanika swoops down to perch on a rooftop to watch from a safe (and semi-concealed – Who spends their time looking up at rooftops, anyway?) position.

Rawrii barks, "Rye rye!" And then he looks about for Vielanika. HE'S one of those persons who spends his time looking at rooftops. After all, that's where to find – "Rieranika!"

Envoy lands near Vielanika, standing right out in the open. "That's a neat looking skull over the door, isn't it?"

Envoy waves down to Rawrii!

Rawrii trots back away from the estate grounds, and waits in the street, since he evidently is not about to start flapping his stubby arms to come up to join the two winged bards.

Vielanika surrenders her hiding place to flutter down to the street.

Envoy hops off the roof and glides down as well.

Kaela reaches the servants' entrance and limps inside, making some amount of noise as she enters.

Lianna sees Kaela. "Well, it's about time!" she signs, then looks worried at Kaela's limp. She rushes over, and gets the cup, handing it off to another cheetah. She doesn't sign it, but her expression says "Oh dear!" as she helps Kaela over to a bench.

Kaela shakes her head a little bit. "It's okay," she signs. "It just got stiff while I was sleeping."

Kaela holds the bottle of oil in her hands, partially concealed beneath the scarf she's wearing.

Lianna smiles and pats Kaela. "Not to worry," she signs. She glances over, then back. "Looks like you got plenty of sugarfir, and just in time. Now, you can get some rest."

Kaela nods slowly. She signs, "Is Mama awake?"

Lianna signs, "Most likely, with all the ruckuss. But that's no fault of yours, kitten. It seems we grown-ups are making so much noise trying to get ready."

Kaela nods a little bit, taking out the bottle and looking down at it again. She signs, "I have to give this to her."

Lianna blinks, then looks at the bottle more closely. She looks as if she's about to ask … but then decides she doesn't want to know. "I have to get back to work," she signs, and shuffles off to tend to the preparations.

Kaela moves to hurry up the stairs, but slows her pace after the second step, as her leg complains. Slowly she works her way the rest of the way up, clutching the miracle elixir close.

Kaela slowly pads into her mother's room, doing her best to hide the stilt to her walk.

The room where Kaela's mother rests is dark – the curtains drawn closed, though the sky is drawing dark on its own now regardless. No candle is lit here, and the room is quiet save for the sound of the older cheetah's breathing.

Kaela's mother curls beneath blankets, her ears twitching in her sleep. Daylight filters through curtains to form strange light and shadows over the blankets and the spotted golden-orange of her fur, shedding white in places.

Kaela pauses. She must be sleeping. Unwilling to wake her mother, she gently sets the bottle of elixir down on the table near the bed, then turns and heads back for the doorway.

Abana makes half-formed signs as she peers about sleepily. Her joints creak audibly.

Kaela glances back at the noise. She signs, "You're awake, Mama?"

Abana signs, but the meaning is lost under the blankets. Wearing a wry black-lipped smile, she bats at the blankets until they settle down, then exposes her hands to sign, "Everything is so loud, I cannot sleep. Even silence has a sound, my daughter."

Kaela pads over and retrieves the bottle. She signs, "I bought this for you at the Bazaar. The Naga said it would heal you."

Abana signs. "Have you bought me Naga oil then?" Her ears wiggle. "Ah my daughter. Your love does me more good than any medicine." She motions for Kaela to come closer.

Kaela sits on the edge of the bed, at Abana's side. She still clutches the bottle protectively.

The older cheetah takes the bottle and sets it on a side table where she assures Kaela, she will take it as surely as the sun walks the Procession, then takes up a comb and begins brushing her daughter's fur. She signs nothing; she doesn't need to in her show of motherly affection.

Kaela shakes her head softly to herself as her mother brushes her fur. "Oh Mama," she signs, her hand gestures small, and more introspective than actually trying to communicate anything. "If I told you all I've learned… all I've seen… " She smiles slightly at the thought and gives her mother's side a gentle nuzzle.

Abana licks Kaela's ear. "They must have been most remarkable things," she signs. "You went away a slave and came back a shaman. But you are still my daughter, and a mother must fuss over her children." She smiles softly with brown eyes looking into Kaela's green.

Kaela smiles at Abana softly and nuzzles her. She signs, "I love you, Mama… "

Abana prrrs softly and signs back, "I love you, daughter." Her ears wiggle laughter as she drapes an arm around Kaela. "Even if it means I must take Naga oil."

Kaela looks up into Abana's eyes. She signs, "It'll make you better… " It has to.

Abana signs, "I wish that I could bottle your love, it would surely be far better a cure." Ears wiggling again, she laps Kaela's cheek and then with a smile bids her, "I will try and choke down some of it tonight. You should go and help the cook. Be joyous for me, daughter."

Kaela nods slightly, giving her mother a gentle hug. "Yes, Mama," she signs before standing and moving towards the door.

Abana looks after Kaela fondly until the door closes. Then picks up the flask of the snake oil and looks at a chamberpot with clear temptation. After a moment however, she sets the oil back down on the table. . o O ( Perhaps it will taste better than I remember. )



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GMed by Greywolf & Lynx

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