31 Jan 1998. The New Year is rung in at the Bazaar Clock Tower.
(Bambridge) (Rephidim Bazaar) (Envoy) (Francisco) (Galand) (Jynx) (Kira) (Rephidim) (Wynona)
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Clock Tower at Night
The Clock Tower is the most readily recognizeable landmark of the Bazaar, an island of stability amidst the everchanging madness of this carnival atmosphere of goods and entertainment representing cultures from all over Sinai. It points upward at the jewel-like Procession, which bathe the streets of Rephidim in a faint glow.

As it does every night – or day, for that matter – the hands on the face of the Clock Tower point directly upward, indicating the time as midnight (or noon, if it weren't for the fact that the sun is nowhere in sight).

This night, however, is a bit different. It's New Year's Eve, as the years are measured here in Rephidim City. And so, while much of the Bazaar would be deserted at this late hour, approaching midnight, it is more alive than ever – not only the Eeee are staying up late this evening!

Of course, the Bazaar merchants are making the most of it, selling noisemakers, silly hats, and all sorts of knick-knacks (and snacks) for those staying up to ring, squawk, yell, clack, yowl or howl in the New Year.

Weaving their way amongst the booths is a family of Khattas – the Kurai family.

Not far away is another Khatta, this one a warrioress, alone, accompanied by neither family nor friend.

Jynx reluctantly wlks along with his family. He would have rather been out with his friends tonight, but Dominic insisted that he come with them. "Okay, now what Dad?"

Dominic glowers at Jynx. "Sometimes I wonder why I bother taking you along. But, some day, you'll look back and appreciate these … special moments together as a family." He does his best to look like he means it, but Jynx's complaining takes its toll on Dominic's already short supply of patience.

The black Khatta just grumbles under his breath.

Lylia, a calico, pats Jynx's shoulder. "Now, now, Feli. You won't have any fun if you MAKE yourself not have fun. Just relax and enjoy!" She smiles as she looks about. It's not much different than the Bazaar is any day, except that the action is taking place at night … and Jynx's mother really doesn't get into the Bazaar all that often for the novelty to wear off.

Eve, a white kitten who looks even younger than she really is, bounds along, grabbing onto the tip of Jynx's tail. "Look!" She points off at whatever has gotten her interest this time. "Jynxie, LOOK!"

Jynx OUCHES as his tail – once again – is yanked upon by the little white terror, "What?" Gripes the Khatta as he snatches his tail back.

"LOOK!" insists Eve, pointing again, grasping for Jynx's tail, but so far failing to grab it again.

The older Khatta sighs, and glances over to where Eve points to.

Eve's attention seems to have been caught (well, relatively speaking) by a Kavi who is juggling wooden wands which burn with blue and green flames on each tip. He deftly twirls each one into the air, catching them in the middle and then launching them again, making a whirling display of flaming light.

Weaving between various booths looking for something properly "festive," Kira spots a juggler.

Lylia turns around, giving a concerned gasp. "Isn't that dangerous?"

Dominic says, "Of course it is. Otherwise, we wouldn't be staring at a Kavi. Come on, now… "

Jynx's tail twitches in annoyance, and he crosses his arms, "Big deal, so some dumb kavi knows how to burn his hands." He still has a dislike of fire ever since that 'pole' incedent.

"… before the vendors home in on – " Dominic continues, but is cut off as another Kavi thrusts a wooden clacker in his face.

"NOISEMAKER!" cries the Kavi holding the clacker, demonstrating. *clackclackclackclack*

Eve squeals, clapping her hands together. And then, she utters those dreadful words: "I want one!"

Jynx groans at his little sister, "You already have a ton of toys, why in Dagh's name do you need something like that?" ( Probably to drive you insane ), Jynx's mind reasons.

Eve pouts. "But I don't have one of THOSE!"

Jynx looks at Dominic pleadingly, as if to say "Do you ever want to sleep again?"

The Khatta father sighs. "Now, Eve, we don't want to go through this again. We AGREED that we weren't going to buy anything, except for some food."

Eve looks positively crestfallen. Her lower lip quivers. "B-b-but … " She makes sad kitten eyes. She's SO good at that.

"Yeak, so tough kyootcumbers kid!" Jynx taunts.

This brings Lylia into the argument. "Feli! That is uncalled for!" She looks at Eve … and Eve, knowing an opening when she sees it, focuses her sad eyes on her mother. Lylia is falling for it. "Oh, Dominic … surely it can't cost THAT much… "

Kira watches the Kavi juggle his flaming wands.

The juggler smiles at Kira, and, in mid-toss, let's one seem to drop, causing several onlookers to gasp –

– but then ducks forward, swatting the wand with his tail, knocking it into the air again!

Jynx makes the pleading face once again at Dominic, but he had seemed to have grown out of his kittenish faces…

The juggler deftly inserts the wand back into the circle, prompting applause from several onlookers. The Kavi juggler just winks at Kira and keeps on with his act.

The clacker-vendor waves his noisemaker in Dominic's face. "Don't break the heart of a child! Only ten shekels! What price for the love of a young kitten?"

( What price to sell a kitten… ) Jynx ponders…

Dominic's ears flatten back. His patience is dropping to dangerous levels. Things could get very unpleasant. If only there were someone in the family capable of defusing the situation…

Eve notices this too, and quickly drops the kitten look. She looks worriedly up to her father, a flicker of guilt and regret crossing her face. But she evidently doesn't have the guts to admit that she doesn't want the clacker that much after all…

Kira grins at the Kavi juggler, and pulls six small throwing knives out of her shirt.

Jynx crosses his arms at the vendor, "Take a hike pal, she's got enough stuff as it is!"

The Kavi gives Jynx a hurt look. "But you deprive the kitten of her chance to take part in the celebration, yes? It is an ancient tradition!"

As usual, Jynx notices Dominic last, "Uh, or something like that… " He shrinks back and lowers his ears.

A few of the Bazaar-goers avert their attention from the juggler, curious as to what Kira is going to do with those throwing knives…

"Guy fox dolls. Get your Guy Fox dolls here. Bring in the New Year with a bang!" calls out a voice from a nearby booth. The source, a multi-tailed fox wearing a shirt that appears colorful even in this light.

This is so silly, Francisco muses to himself. But he was told that he should use some kind of sales pitch.

"What? The tradition to drive everybody crazy?" mutters Jynx.

Kira deftly flips the knives in the air, sending them up in arcs to catch the and fling them up again.

"YAYYYY!" A number of cubs charge Francisco's booth.

The flickering firelight from the burning wands and from the (at least temporarily repaired) street lamps glint off of the spinning blades, making them flash in the night.

Francisco gulps. Well, the pitch apparently worked.

A foppish Fox in the booth with Francisco YELPS as he sees the oncoming crowd of cubs! (He's working 'pro bono' to try to work off his 'debt' to Francisco after the horrible failure of his last plan… )

Several Bazaar-goers watch Kira's display, "Ooo"-ing and "Aah"-ing. While the daggers might not be flaming, they ARE still an attractive sight, and have that element of danger. Plus, Kira is fairly decorative in her own right.

Looking over her shoulder as she hears Francisco, Kira misses one of the knives as it lands on one of the Kavi juggler's wands.

Jynx takes a quick glance at his father, "Uh… maybe we should eat?"

The kitsune looks to his assistance. "Um. Be brave?" he suggests. "I mean, how bad can cubs be?"

Several cubs and kits swarm the booth. Some actually have shekels to spend, while others badger Francisco with requests to make an explosion, a few try to tug at his tails, and others just hop up and down, clamoring for attention and begging for freebies.

The knife strikes the wand. There are several gasps, as the Kavi's wand goes spinning through the air…

Kira grins uncomfortably at her onlookers. "Oops."

Dominic's ears are beet red, and he looks as if his mouth is locked shut … because the next thing to come out of it is likely to be fairly rude, if he doesn't have a chance to calm down first.

The Kavi keeps the rest of his wands going, sparing a glare at Kira. Meanwhile, the wand continues to arc through the air, now making its descent…

The kitsune tries to deal with the cubs requests as much as possible. Unfortunately, some still remember, or have heard, of the explosions he was making in the bazaar.

Jynx slowly shuffles over behing Lylia, like he used to do when he was a kitten, ( Oh boy, the old cat's flipped this time… )

Just as Jynx moves around to hide behind Lylia, he unwittingly spares his mother from being hit by the hurtling wand. How heroic! It baps him on the back of his head … and slides down the back of his tunic, the tips of the wand still sparking green on one side and blue on the other, though not openly flaming.

Kira runs toward where the wand was flying.

The Kavi selling the clacker sees the wand go down Jynx's tunic and lets out a shriek of fear … and quickly runs off, disappearing into the crowd. Well! That's ONE way to defuse the situation. Now for something ELSE to defuse…

"AAAAAAAAAAAH! GET IT OFF!" Jynx's fur stands completely on end, that which isn't being singed that is…

Lylia turns around and gasps in alarm. "Oh! FELI! Someone help my poor Feli!"

The black Khatta thrashes about like a wildcat!

Blue sparks shoot out from the tail of Jynx's tunic, while green sparks shoot out from the back of the neck.

Kira runs up and sees where the wand landed. "Oh no!"

Meanwhile, the foppish Fox whimpers as he is still beset by cubs and kits who haven't yet noticed the other display.

Clawing at his back (and really acting like a big baby), Jynx finally dives to the ground and rolls around.

Eve looks amazed and perplexed, unsure whether to scream or break out in giggles.

Kira takes one of her throwing knives and slices open the back of the Khatta's tunic.

As the tunic is torn open, the sparking wand falls out, rolling across the packed dirt and cobblestone street.

Jynx thrashes yet more; now he's having knives thrown at him?

Looking at his 'assistant' between sales, Francisco sighs. "No, no… It's sixty shekels for an exploding doll," he has to remind him on several occasions.

"Get it off!" the cat yells, oblivious to the fact that it is already off, not to mention he id now shirtless!

The foppish Fox nods, then remarks, "How do cubs GET this much money, anyway?" He nonetheless rakes it in. But, soon, the tide subsides, as the cubs either rush off with their own five-tailed fox dolls, or else realize they aren't going to get any free hand-outs.

Lylia gasps. "Oh my! DO something, Dominic!"

Kira looks down at the wildly thrashing Jynx. "The wand's not in your shirt any more. You can stop now. "

Dominic stoops down by Jynx. "Are you all right, son?"

The kitsune shrugs. "Do I look like I care?" he says, trying to catch his breath. "More I can make, more I can pay off certain debts."

The juggler, meanwhile, appears to have moved his act elsewhere. He is nowhere to be seen, having apparently chosen discretion as the better part of valor, leaving the errant wand behind.

"GET IT O- huh?" Jynx looks around, realizing that she's right. "Oh, uh, yeah dad, I guess I'm fine… " ( Wish I knew exactly what just happened though! ) The Khatta shivers a bit as he realizes he is without shirt.

Kira grimaces. "Sorry about that".

Dominic unclasps his evening cape and drapes it around Jynx's shoulders. "There. Ah … I'm sure they sell shirts around here somewhere." He looks over toward Francisco. "Hmm. Maybe we should go down a few blocks before shopping, though."

"Well, well, well!" exclaims a shiga in a gaudy cloak. "That is a trick indeed, worth of Woodrow the Wondrous! I've never seen anyone make a wand disappear in such a creative fashion." The grinning reptile gathers his cloak around him with a showy flourish.

Eve decides Jynx is unharmed, and breaks out giggling. "That was GREAT, Jynxie!"

Jynx blinks at the tabby Khatta warrioress, "Sorry for what?" He then is distracted by that familiar annoyance, whom he glares at. "Yeah, you can do it next time."

Lylia gasps. "This is too dangerous for Eve to be about tonight! I'm taking her home right away!" She sweeps up the protesting kitten, and quickly heads off back toward the store. Eve squeals, "Byyyyyyyye!" as she waves a white paw at Jynx and Dominic.

Kira says, "Sorry for the flaming wand down your shirt."

Dominic frowns at Kira. "So, you are the one responsible for this? I hope you can cover the cost of a new shirt. And possibly the cost of seeing a healer."

"Good riddance," Jynx mumbles as his sister carried off. He then turns back to the warrioress, "You did that?"

Woodrow tsks-tsks, more to himself than at anyone in particular. "Is that any way to treat an old friend, Feli? And who is this striking young lady? You must introduce me to your girlfriend here."

Francisco looks around at the crowd around his booth, and considers. If it gets too crowded around here, I could always get my friend here to sing. That would make them go quick.

Dominic raises his eyebrows. "Your girlfriend? Feli, do you KNOW this … this … eh … young lady?"

Kira grimaces. "It was a juggling accident."

Singing seems to be unnecessary. The crowd around the booth begins to die out. Murmurings indicate that it's not much longer until midnight…

"Really dad, I'm fi- girlfriend?!" Jynx's jaw drops. "I've never met her in my life!"

The shiga grins, nudging Dominic with an elbow through his cloak. "Ahh, you're the father of this fine young Khatta, eh? He's quite the lady-killer, I hear."

The foppish Fox wipes his brow. "Whew! We made it! Just one – " He exchanges a five-tailed fox for sixty shekels, which he puts away. "That's the last one!"

Kira does a double take. "Girl friend?!"

Jynx glares at the shiga as recognition dawns, "YOU! You thief! What do YOU want?"

Dominic oofs, rubbing his side, and giving the Shiga a sour look. Upon hearing Jynx's accusation, he pats himself down to see if he's missing anything.

Dominic frowns even more.

Bambridge presses his pawpads to his chest, looking hurt. "Surely you must be mistaken, Feli, my lad. I'm a street magician, remember?"

Dominic NUDGES Bambridge. "Then if you're a magician … perhaps you can make my pouch reappear."

Jynx back away from the reptile, "Yeah, you've got a real knack for the slight of hand if I remember… "

Kira checks to see if anything is missing.

Jynx shivers a bit more, then looks to Kira, "I've never met her though, all I know is I don't have a shirt anymore… " ( She looks tough, probably best not to make her mad, ) thinks the Khatta.

Woodrow the Wondrous's hurt look fades, and his tail raises, a pouch dangling on a drawstring on the tip. "Well, you really ought to be more careful with it, you know. It was sticking right out of your pocket! Could have snagged on something!"

Kira attempts to make a quick, yet silent retreat over to Francisco's booth.

Dominic, scowling, snatches back the pouch. "Very … skilled of you."

The older Khatta looks at Jynx. "I think I'll be heading back now and check on Lylia. If you must stay and chat with your … girlfriend … don't stay out too late, or I'll come looking for you."

Kira mutters, "Girlfriend… "

The kitsune looks up from leafing through the takings, and notices Kira heading over. "Haiya there, Kira!" he calls out to her.

Jynx blinks at Dom as he heads off, "But- but-… " The words sputter out, "She's not my girlfriend! And what about my shirt?!" But it's too late, the gray tabby is out of range.

"Why, thank you! It does my heart good to see a magician's trade valued!" calls the shiga after Dominic. He turns to wink at Jynx. "So, showing your friend around town during the new year? You still haven't introduced me."

The foppish Fox looks up as he sees Kira approach, and waggles his eyebrows at the sight of the warrioress.

Kira eyes the booth, and then Francisco. "How's your head?"

Jynx wraps his father's cloak around himself and glares at the shiga, "My life's bad enough, why did YOU have to show up again?" He backs away some more, shivering.

The booth sports a big banner with a painted, jovial likeness (or at least facsimile) of Francisco, greeting the viewer.

Francisco rubs the top of his head a little. "It's fine, and I think it was always fine, still. I think that doc you took me to was a real quack," he replies.

The foppish Fox blinks at that. "A 'real quack'? Isn't that contradictory?"

The kitsune looks at the fox with an expression that says, Huh?

"Because it's a day for revelry, my friend!" exclaims the reptile, patting Jynx on the shoulder. "This is a perfect day for street performers all over the Bazaar. You just happened to show up after my act concluded. Come, come, my boy, why don't I buy you a drink, so there's no hard feelings? You should be enjoying yourself."

Jynx continues to back away, right towards the kitsune's booth, "Last time I spent any time with you, I found my pockets lighter!"

Kira looks back at Jynx, and sighs, "I'll be back in a second."

Woodrow wanders toward the booth, since that seems to be the direction things are going. "Tut-tut, Feli. The Bazaar is full of pickpockets. Your father could have been victimized if I hadn't noticed that problem there, and anyone could have gotten to you the other night, with all that excitement over the old man, eh? Look out for the booth, you really ought to watch where you're going, son."

Kira sprints over to Jynx. "How much would it cost to replace your shirt?"

The shiga leans over to Jynx, his eyeridges waggling. "My, she really seems to taken a shine to you… "

"I can take care of myse- OOF!" Jynx bumps into the side of the booth. He blinks at the other Khatta, "Uh, I-I dunno… " He then glares once again at the shiga, "Shut up!"

The foppish Fox wags his finger. "Now, now, that's TERRIBLY rude, young Khatta!"

Francisco watches Kira head off. "Think they've got something going?" he says to his foppish assistant, nodding towards the black Khatta and Kira.

Jynx groans, "Not you too!"

"Tsk! Such disrespect. If I weren't such a friendly chap, I'd be insulted." The reptile nods at the foppish fox, dressed even more silly than he is. "Tragic, isn't it? Today's youth, so temperamental."

The foppish Fox nods to the Shiga. "I agree entirely!"

The foppish Fox then turns to Jynx. "Well, you ARE a fairly disagreeable young Khatta. Nobody's ever going to like you if you keep on saying things like that and going on and complaining. Why, you never see ME whining!" He gingerly rubs at a bandaged ear.

Kira looks over her shoulder at Francisco, "You wouldn't happen to have one of the dolls you were selling left, would you?"

"But at least they have money… " the foppish Fox muses.

The foppish Fox looks at the display model, then back to Kira. "Sorry. Not a one!"

"I'll take a look," Francisco says. "It's been pretty busy tonight." He takes a look underneath the booth…

Jynx rrrs, getting more attention than he really wants, ( The reason he can't whine is because his jaw is broken half the time )

"Unruly youngsters with coin, now there's a frightening thought," Woodrow chortles to himself. "The kieltan is right, young man. You'll never impress this lovely… Kira, was it? This lovely Kira with your sulking."

"And I'm sure you'd like to get rid of that thought by taking the coin, huh?" Jynx retorts, "And for the last time, I don't know her!"

"This is the last one," says the Kitsune, pointing out the display doll. "And it's not an exploding one either. I could let you have that one for, say, 30 shekels?"

"He is not my boyfriend!" Kira yowls.

The shiga's fingers wriggle like big green caterpillers for a moment, and then pluck a pair of wooden spheres from the air. "Well, you certainly won't if you keep that attitude up, Feli m'boy," hisses the grinning reptile. The other paw produces a short nub of charcoal pencil while the left rotates the wooden spheres wari-style.

"See?! Even she says so!" Jynx yells at the shiga, "Now just leave us alone!"

The foppish Fox sniffles and looks like he's got something in his eye. "Engh. I think they're starting to set off the Guy Foxes… "

Francisco perks an ear at the fox? "Do you want the display model then, Kira?" he asks, trying to get in this one last sale.

Kira looks at the display doll, and then back at Jynx. "Hmph, first I have to get him a new shirt."

Jynx blinks at the shiga, just now noticing the spheres, "What're you doing now?" He would back away more, but he's againt the booth.

The kitsune's shoulders slump a little. "Twenty, then?" he tries.

The foppish Fox leans forward over the counter, his chin falling on Jynx's shoulder. He whispers to Jynx, "She may not be your girlfriend … but she'd be quite a catch! She's a heroine, you know. She took out a Rhian thug over twice her size! Plus, she's a cutie! But don't tell her I said that… "

Having someone motion over to him attracts Jynx attention, and he slowly slinks around Kira, putting her between him and Woodrow.

The foppish Fox URKS as his chinrest departs. He baps against the counter, letting out a light squeak.

Woodrow stops rotating the spheres, pausing to scribble on each of them for a moment. The charcoal pencil drops into a pocket, and with a quick paw-movement, both spheres disappear. "I've heard rumours, you know. The bazaar was abuzz about this charming Kira gal's deeds. I only wish I could have witnessed that Rhian given his just desserts personally."

Jynx says, "T-twenty shekels? Thats about the same as a shirt. Comeonletsgonow!" The Khatta grabs Kira's arm and tries to pull her away from the shiga, ( Why didn't dad just let me go out with my friends tonight? )"

The foppish Fox leaps up on the counter, perching on it, as he swings his everpresent (and nigh-invulnerable) lute into his gloved hands and begins strumming a melody. "Loooooooove," he sings, "It makes the worrrrrrrld go round! Loooooove, it makes a young heart pound! … " He croons a sappy song, a goofy grin on his face, occasionally waggling his eyebrows at Jynx and Kira and winking.

Jynx's eyes and ears turn blood red as he eyes the fox…

Kira considers, "Well, maybe I could find a tailor to fix the cuts, and burns on his shirt."

Kira glares at the fox.

"Urrr?" Francisco says, and looks at the at fox on the counter. "Get off from there!"

Seeing that the warrioress is glaring at him, the Fox sings MUCH more quickly, and ends with, "And that's all!" Ba-dump-bump. He hops off the counter, disappearing into the booth, his fluffy tail the last part of him to be seen before it vanishes as well.

The shiga twists his wrist, and one of the spheres returns in his palm, with a bad, but recongnizeable rendition of Feli's face on it. He bobbles the ball about, trying his best at a Khatta voice. "Dum, de dumm-dumm… oh, why, hello there, Kira!" The other sphere shows up, decorated as one might expect, with Kira's face. At least, it looks sorta like her.

"Yeah, yeah, fix the burns n' stuff, whatever! Let's go!" Jynx just wants to get away from his antagonizers.

Turning back at the shiga, Jynx's family connection with Dominic suddenly becomes appearent, since only a Kurai could make THAT angry a face…

"Why, Jynx! Your shirt is ripped!" hisses the shiga in a falsetto, moving the Kira-sphere now. "We'd better get it off you right away!" He sniggers, and winks at the foppish fox.

Francisco looks back to Kira. He really doesn't think he's going to make this sale.

Jynx lets go of Kira, and grits his teeth while staring at the shiga.

Kira glares and fumes silently.

The foppish Fox isn't in sight to return Bambridge's wink. Perhaps he has decided the risk factor has gone above his liking. (Considering the Fox, that doesn't say much, but … )

A black-clad Exile weaves in and out of the crowd, pausing every now and then to look over her shoulder.

A few of the entertainers have stopped their performances, and have started cleaning up. Many other booths besides Francisco's are either closing for the night or just temporarily shutting shop as business takes a lull … as midnight draws ever closer.

"Hah, hah, ohh, poor Feli! Your sour mood has spread to the young lady as well! Remember, New Year's is a time for fun, live it up a little!" He clacks the spheres together, making some kissing noises. With a genuinely cheerful laugh, the shiga whirls his cape in a wide circle, a small cloud of brightly coloured beetles buzzing outward in all directions.

Envoy stops when she spots Jynx, unsure if she should say hello or try to avoid contact altogether. She doesn't want to draw attention to people she knows, just in case she didn't lose her official stalker in the crowds.

Jynx looks to Kira, with a look known to all Khattas as "Shall we hurt him now?"

Some cubs gasp at the sight, and one of them sends a Guy Fox prematurely into the air, with a sparkling trail – a different color from each tail – only to explode with a flash just above the street. There are a few giggles.

The kitsune, on looking around, thinks that he should take the hint from the other traders, and nudges his foppish assistant to help.

When the last beetle has disappeared, it becomes evident that the Shiga is gone. Nothing is left of him, save for two wooden spheres where he was last seen standing.

Kira returns Jynx's look.

Jynx blinks… "Where'd he go?"

The foppish Fox yelps, then says, "Oh! Of course! Yesyesyes." He helps with the cleaning.

The alien's attention is suddenly drawn to the yelping Fox and the kitsune.

Kira looks at the wooden balls lying on the ground. "Do you always have such interesting things happen around you?"

Jynx sighs, "You have no idea… " He shivers a bit more. "Well, about that shirt… "

Envoy edges her way over towards the vulpines, and asks the foppish one quietly, "Victor? Victor Reynard, is that you?"

The foppish Fox nudges Francisco. "Say … that Khatta looks desperate. Maybe you should sell him YOUR shirt!" He begins taking down the banner, and collapsing part of the stall.

The kitsune merely frowns at the fox. A frown that clearly means 'no.'

The foppish Fox blinks a few times, then looks up at Envoy. "AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

Kira looks at Envoy, in surprise.

Envoy blinks and rears back, looking wide eyed from side to side to see if the scream drew attention. "I'm sorry, my mistake. The fox I was thinking of wore a mask over half of his face."

Jynx, while the mood is at least civil for the moment, picks up the wooden balls curiously.

The foppish Fox doesn't stay for conversation. He bolts off, away from the stall, weaving around Kira and Jynx … and disappearing, accompanied by the giggles and snickers of several watching cubs and kits.

Kira watches him go. "He was bit high-strung."

Francisco blinks? "Hey! Come back here!" he calls out to the departing fop.

Envoy blinks after the smaller fox's retreat, and apologizes to Francisco, "Forgive me, I didn't mean to startle your friend. Are you an Exile? I didn't know there were any kitsune on Sinai. My name is Envoy."

Jynx whoas! as he is darted around. "What's the matter with him?"

The wooden spheres are fairly ordinary, really, cut of an inexpensive wood to a smooth but unvarnished finish, about two inches in diameter each. Each bears a fairly simple scribble, one resembling Jynx's face (largely by being mostly black), the other of Kira's … though they are a bit smudged by Jynx's act of picking them up.

Being that it's clear that he's not coming back, Francisco turns to look at Envoy. "Uh, right. To be honest, he's not much help anyway. And you recognize me as Kitsune?"

Envoy points to Francisco's tails. "What else would have so many foxtails?"

A few kits giggle and wave around their Guy Fox dolls. Every one of the dolls is gray-furred, just like Francisco, every one has five tails … and every one has a gaudy, multi-colored "shirt" … and a goofy grin.

Jynx scrunches his nose at the balls and begins to throw them away. Then he stops, and shrugs, ( That's good material, no need to waste it. ) and sticks them in his pocket.

Noticing the little Francisco dolls, Envoy begins to wonder where the fabric for those shirts comes from.

"Um, yeah. Well, that's obvious to me," says Francisco, "though many people here seem to think I'm some kind of Zerda?"

Jynx draws the cloak around him some more, its getting even more chilly.

Kira looks at Jynx, "Do you know of anywhere we could get you a tunic?"

A hush falls over much of the Bazaar … though there are, of course, exceptions. Several Bazaar-goers chant (in various languages and some in inaudible frequencies). "Ten! … Nine!"

Jynx says, "Well, there's a few shops down in the crafter's quarters and-" He stops as he hears the chanting.

"Eight! … Seven!"

Galand wanders in, drink in hand, lady on his arm, enjoying the good cheer!

Envoy notes, "You'd be a very strange looking Zerda. People think I am sort of hybrid Aeonian. Are you from Nipaw? Why is the crowd counting backwards?"

A golden vixen giggles, hanging on Galand's arm and patting his hand with hers. Bells on her tail *BING* as she walks along.

"Six! … Five!"

Francisco says, "Nipaw? I can't say I've heard of there. I'm from Earth, originally from Hokkaido Island."

Galand smiles and whispers quietly in his companion's ear, lightly flicking his tail up her back…

"Four! … Three!"

Envoy smiles, "Really? Which Earth? I think they are counting down to midnight."

The golden vixen's eyes go wide, and she fakes an offended look, batting at Galand, then quickly hides a demure smile.

"… Two! … "

The kitsune blinks. "There's more than one?"

Jynx stops shivering and shrugs, might as well join in, "Four… Three! … Two! … "

"Not in the same universe, no… " Envoy stops to see what happens when zero is called.

"… One! … "

Elsewhere in the crowd, a white Eeee with platinum-grey hair is in the midst of a ritual, muttering a chant to herself, surrounded by a few cub apprentices who make sure nobody bumbles into the middle of her spell…

Galand finishes off his drink, tosses the glass into a safe corner, and sweeps the vixen off her feet, planting a sounnd smooch on her lips!

Zero is never called out. Instead, in the same instant, a multitude of Guy Foxes and other fireworks shoot into the air, the crowd cheers (and howls and barks and scrawks, etc., etc.), and the air is filled with a steady staccato of thunderclaps that shake glass for blocks around. But, in the midst of the tumult, there is another sound – that of a gong ringing. *BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONG … BONGgggggg… *

Jynx gets caught up in the moment, and for once, cheers along, "Happy new year!"

Kira shakes her head, and cheers, "Happy New Year!"

Jynx's cheer is echoed many times over, in several other languages. And Galand's little "stunt" is repeated a few times as well…

Still caught up in the moment, and cheering like an idiot, Jynx grabs the nearest female of his species and plants a big smooch on her… only then does he realize his mistake…

A minute past the special moment, there is a quiet *click* from atop the Clock Tower. The long hand moves four degrees. *clack*

Envoy wonders if the crowd is making a wish for the new year, saying that the year is happy, or something else beyond her comprehension. But they sure are loud about it!

Francisco tries to resume his conversation with Envoy. "Um, Happy New Year. Oh, universes? I just kept to one, back home," he says.

Envoy nods understandingly to Francisco. "Are you stuck here then?"

The kitsune sighs and nods. "'Fraid so."

Kira's fur fluffs out, and her ears and nose blush red.

Jynx ends the kiss, then realizes he might have just made a huge mistake, "Uh, happy new year?"

Kira grins at the black Kattha, and grabs him in a headlock, "Yeah, right – Happy New Year. Let's go get you that new shirt before I decide to light that wand again."

Jynx ACKS! "Wait! No! N-no need! I'm perfectly fine without a shirt, see? Leggo!"

Despite Jynx's protests, Kira drags Jynx toward the Crafters' Quarter, the two Khattas disappearing into the crowd.

Envoy asks Francisco, "Do little exploding Exile dolls sell well?"

Nodding, the five-tailed fox replies with a little grin, "Pretty well, I'd say. After all, you don't see any left, do you?"

---

GMed by Greywolf

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(Bambridge)
(Rephidim Bazaar)
(Envoy)
(Francisco)
(Galand)
(Jynx)
(Kira)
(Rephidim)
(Wynona)

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Today is 12 days after Harvest Tide, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)