The sign outside the door shows a mug and a turkey leg, and reads, "The Three Thieves Inn". It's nestled in with several other buildings in a slightly seedier part of Rephidim, though not quite in Darkside … about two blocks away, if you to guess at an exact boundary. Inside, the main room is warmly lit by a roaring fireplace, and high on the walls hang mounted heads a macabre touch that gives the place its name … and a slightly sinister ambiance. Behind a wooden counter, perpetually polishing glasses that rarely need it, is a grumpy-looking hippogryph Vartan. Near the bar can be seen stairs leading up to the rooms. It's a nicely-kept establishment not fancy, not grimy just somewhere in between respectable and not.
The Inn shows signs of hasty patching, too, from a slight altercation the night before. Perhaps partially because of that, conversation tonight is muted somewhat. Several groups of patrons cluster around the bar and tables, in various states of inebriation.
Being a fairly regular patron, as well as a participant in last night's altercation here, Lochinvar is back sitting at the bar with a mug of… something, conversing with a couple of others.
A wolf at the bar gets into a heated discussion with the Vartan behind the bar, about a smudge on his glass.
The door crashes open, admitting a cocky-looking bird bearing a duffel, a pair of swords, and a jovial grin around his beak. Does he ever just open doors normally? The Korv jangles across the barroom to the counter, crowing, "Hoy there, Jakka! Remember yer favorite customer? How much credit 'ave I gots left?"
Jakka raises an eyebrow, "Hoi? Credit? Still owing for last night, I think!" She cracks a slight grin, "But drink, for now."
The winged Heyoke at the bar turns around to look at the Korv, and grins at him as well as raising his mug in greeting.
The Vartan pours up a mug of hard cider, and pushes it towards Kensington. "You behave tonight, yes?"
The bird clacks his beak cheerfully, and occupies a barstool next to the winged 'yote. "Hah, yer the sweetest Vartan I know, Jakka! I'll make good, ye 'ave me word. Hey, there, it's the dock scrapper from last night! How're ye doin', lad? Never did catch yer name… "
Jakka scowls slightly, "Your copper good. But you be more careful!" She taps a claw on the bar, then goes back to her polishing.
"It's Lochinvar," says the unusual Heyoke. "Though I don't recall yours either?"
Kensington grins, rubbing the puff of feathers beneath his beak. "Kensington St. Germain, me bucko. Swiftest sword in the skies, 'member? I be back lookin' fer Sasta, 'ave ye seen 'er? Khatta about this tall, wearin' an eyepatch, and carryin' a couple ugly-sticks?"
Lochinvar takes a swig from his mug, and wipes his muzzle. "Ah, that would be the lady from last night you were talking with? 'Fraid I've not seen her yet this evening."
The door opens again to allow a cougaress to saunter in. Her silk shirt is surprisingly colourful, as if something prompted a recent cleaning. The rest of her leather gear is worn and scuffed. She moves confidently, except for frequent glances to her left side. The Kattha gives the door a shove behind her, to swing it open long enough for whoever follows her.
A mostly-white Lapi follows closely on the tail of the Kattha, wearing a few bandages on some minor scratches.
"Gah… ah, well. She'll turn up sooner' later, I 'spose." The corsair drops his duffle to the side, and dips his beak in his mug for a draught of cider. When he looks up again, he spies the Khatta, and hurriedly shakes the drink off his beak, his grin widening. "Why, speakin' o' the very Khatta, 'ere she is now!"
Aaron says, "Are you sure you want to eat here, Sasta? I know of some really nice restaurants."
A small fox sits down at the bar, and orders a beer.
"Yaa Aarron, gots neet soneone, ane therre he is." The cougar says to the Lapi following her, then heads for the bar.
Looking over Kensington's shoulder, Lochinvar notices the Khatta and rabbit enter. "So she is. With company too."
Kensington's grin fades as he spies the Lapi, his already black face darkening all the more. "An' if it ain't the bunny too. Did 'e find yer 'ealer fer ya, Sasta m'dear?"
The rabbit sighs slightly at seeing Kensington.
Sasta grins, taking a stool that keeps her left side to the wall. "I fine the healerr; Once forr pleasurre, once for business."
Lochinvar arches an eye at the Korv, wondering what was meant by that.
The cougaress takes a moment to stare at Lochinvar, apparently she still hasn't decided just what he is, or what to make of him. She lets her gaze move on to the Korv.
A gravelly mutter from the Korv can be heard by those with especially sensitive ears. "So, 'e ain't totally useless… " He speaks up, his demeanor lightening somewhat. "Glad ye took care o' that, Sasta. I gotta feelin' we might be in fer some business in not too long. Jakka, a round fer the warrioress here!"
Aaron's ears droop as he's forced to sit on the other side of the Korv.
"You fine anything?" Sasta takes up her mug when it arrives, blowing some of the froth away, "I just see an explosion."
The coyote looks past Kensington over to the rabbit, and asks him, "Still looking for your Eeee friend? Or did you find anyone who knew if she got away on that airship?"
"Not too close, flap-ears," sneers the bird, with another swig of cider. His feathers puff up considerably. "Yer errand's done, aintcha got a shop t'look after? This be a shipman's conversation." He regards the cougaress again. "Nah, nots yet I ain't. The war wit' Babel be crampin' trade vessels, but escort shippin' might be pickin' up soon."
Aaron ignores the Korv and answers Lochinvar, "No new leads yet. Did anyone find out what those two Savanites where doing here last night?"
Lochinvar looks back to his drink as he replies, "I've got no idea. I only saw part of what they said."
Sasta nods, putting her mug down for the moment, "I prreferr being on the offensive, but thats sonething. I no k'rre to wait forr the battle to cone to ne."
A kavi silently sits at the bar with the others. He is very large for a kavi, and wears a thick cloak. One arm wears a long, black glove. He orders a beer, and sits, listening…
"Aye, it suits me a bit better too," muses Kensington, shifting a saber slightly. "There don't be much in the way o' that sorta work around Rephidim, I don't think. I dunno if yon Temple be much fer mercs, what with the bugs an' lancers. Still, I could be wrong."
"I no too surre abouts the Tenple airrships," Sasta confides, tracing one finger around the rim of her glass. "I hearr they will, ane I hearr they won'ts. It varry if they think the job is a securre, orr risk on ah? Obviously, they no wants lose any loyal trroops."
The kavi seems to come to a decision, and turns in his seat. He addresses Kensington in a quiet voice, "You were in that brawl last night, weren't you?"
Kensington cackles, "Aye, why waste Temple flunkies when 'ey kin chuck scrubs like us at problems?" The bird cast a sidelong glance at the kavi, dipping his beak once. "Aye, an' what o' it? Were thet yer Savanite I whacked around, or were ye just thet Rhian's boss?"
The coyote nods to the Khatta. "Sometimes that's true. Sometimes not. Of course, you are talking about the Temple here, so who knows?"
Aaron nurses his ale, trying to think of some way to keep Sasta from running off on some suicide mission.
The kavi's expression doesn't change, "Neither. Just an observer. But I also believe I overheard that you work on the docks?"
Once more, the door swings open. The figure is framed on the threshold: a brown Khatta with a nearly-black tailtip, wearing the uniform of a captain of the air. Her long black whiskers twitch as she surveys the scene carefully before making her confident way to the bar and perching upon a barstool. "Ale," she tells the barkeep, slapping several coins onto the counter.
Lochinvar chuckles also at Kensington's question. "A Kavi? Owning a Savanite? That would be the day."
The corsair lifts his bill just a smidgen. "Aye, yer right, Lochy, but might as well humor the fella." he caws, smirking. He looks back at the kavi. "I be into crewin' ships. Captained one fer four years."
Aaron turns to the new arrival, recognizing the airship captain from his shop and the hospital-raising. "Good evening, Captain. Fancy meeting you here!" he smiles.
The kavi nods, "I know, I followed you. Pardon me, my name is K'ale." He offers the gloved hand to Kensington, "And I have a business proposal for you."
The Heyoke's ears swivel slightly at the voice of the new person at the bar, and he grins broadly. "Why, Captain Mira, is it not?" he says, addressing her. "Decided to look up my services after all?"
Kensington looks suspicious, but grips the kavi's paw anyway. "Fair eve'nin', K'ale," he rasps guardedly. "Ye already seem t'know 'oo I be, s'let's cut straight to it, aye? Whadda ye want?"
The kavi nods, "Let's indeed. I need to charter an airship. Can you help me to pull that together?"
Sasta leans forward, listening to the offer.
Mira inclines her head slightly in recognition of Aaron. Lochinvar's question is met by an arched eyebrow, but a slight smile touches her face. "Good evenin'," she answers. "Not yet, but ye never know what will come up. It's been slow for th' last few weeks."
The corsair opens and closes his wing-claw, eyeing the kavi's gloved paw oddly. After a few moments, he nods. "Aye, I could do thet wi'out any trouble… but what what's innit fer me?"
Mira pauses, then adds, "Tho' I hear I missed somethin' big here at the Three Thieves t'day. Th' dockhands're all a-buzz." The Khatta scowls at the barkeep. "Where's that ale?!"
Lochinvar nods. "Yeah, so I've heard," he says. "Not much coming in or out. It tends to be like that just before New Years, it would seem."
"Just you Kenny?" The cougaress asks.
The kavi smiles for the first time, thin-lipped and fast, but it was there, "Why, shekels, what else? I am quite prepared to pay. An organization fee, for starters, or more if you wish to join up as crew."
"Hey, Jakka," the Heyoke calls to the barkeep. "Ale for the captain here, right?" He waves a note at the Vartan as well, like he's offering to pay for the drink.
Jakka caws in frustration, and rushes over to Mira's part of the bar, "Ya, heards you the first time! Not all easy, knowing, eh?" She clunks a mug of ale onto the bar, sloshing some over the sides.
"Ah, beggin' yer pardon, Sasta," rasps the corvid, with an apologetic grinding of his bill. "It's been a long time since I travelled wit' more'n me own thoughts fer company." Kensington bobs his head at K'ale, cawwing, "This be me associate, Sasta, a mercenary what knows 'er way about. She'd be in on it… if we find yer deal to be square."
Jakka takes the payment from the Hekoye without question, and trundles back off again.
K'ale nods, "If you need proof, I can give it to you strong, aye. But not before a sign of good faith on your part, for I have interests to protect."
"I guess that one's on me," Lochinvar says to Mira, chuckling softly.
Aaron has one ear turned towards the Kavi's conversation, and turns to ask, "And just how dangerous will this trip of yours be?"
K'ale doesn't even seem to notice the Lapi, still gazing intently at Kensington, awaiting an answer.
Kensington casts a glance sidelong at the cougaress. "Well, whatta ye think, Sasta? Do ye find a tale o' kavi's wit' shekels t'be too tall?"
"Prretty harre to believe, but k'n listen forr frree ah?" Sasta replies, hiding her grin with her mug as she takes another sip.
K'ale's smile reappears, more icy this time, "If it is too much trouble to believe, I can quite easily take my business elsewhere."
Airships are always neat and clean, everything stowed away. Nothing can be ill-cared for. Mira eyes the overflowing mug disapprovingly for a moment, then finally shrugs and takes a drink from it. The captain murmurs thanks to Lochinvar for the drink.
"Right!" caws the bird. He levels his own easy grin back on K'ale. "Well then, kavi… show us a little metal, an' ye'll keep our attention."
Aaron turns back towards the genuine airship captain… not that he distrusts Kensington's tales, but the crow did admit to losing his ship. "Surely business can't be that slow, Captain Mira, even during wartime? There seem to be plenty of other ships hauling cargo."
Sasta puts her mug down, and fixes a stare at K'ale with her sole eye. "You just a kavi, ane you asking us to prrove we interrestee. What kine of rreaction you expectings to get? I interrestee in the job, but I no everr hearr of a Kavi having one, let alone offerring. I thinks we neee to hearr sone norre."
"Suprisingly, not that much cargo," Lochinvar pipes in, replying to the rabbit's question. "I've not seen that much work the past few days."
K'ale chuckles and nods, "Very well." He flashes a silver coin before Kensington, which disappears just as quickly. "I assure you, that I have the means, and if you come through, I will give further proof later."
Sasta winks, "Okay, I believe."
The Khatta sips again from her mug, perking an ear toward Aaron. "Th' Glutton's rarin' to go, now that she's just been refit from stem to stern. It be hard to haul anythin' if ye're undergoin' anythin' like that. But she's ready to do whatever you might be wanting. More efficiently than before." Of course, Mira can't keep captainly pride from her voice.
The feathers over Kensington's eyes shoot upward, an incredulous look on the bird's face. "Well!" he caws. "Ye certainly gots our attention. Alright then, we're intristed. Whatcha want in the way o' an airship? Tasks it'll need ta complete, that sorta thing."
Aaron says, "Except for one whole wagonload that people were fighting over?"
"No will have to look too farr forr you airrship hnn?" Sasta says quietly, leaning closer to Kensington, and giving a thrust of her jaw in Mira's direction.
K'ale nods, "Good, businesslike. I need a small, fast airship. I have little cargo, it is mostly passengers. You will be transporting myself, and three others, in addition to any crew you get together. The journey will be to the desert lands, the Himaat. I will need a small expedition team willing to assist me in searching those lands."
Lochinvar shrugs, the motion exaggerated by his wings. "None of the regular dock hands I know were even contracted for that load."
Kensington nods at K'ale, and starts to reply, but cocks his head at Sasta. He looks down the bar at Mira, apparently having been oblivious to the rest of the conversation. "She be a captain, ye say? Findin' an airship though, it don't be like shoppin' in th' bazaar. It'd be too easy t'just… just… well, mayhap a lil' test." The Korv raises his voice. "Ahoy! Ye there, the Khatta!"
Aaron looks back to the Kavi, and asks, "Just a trip to the desert? Doesn't sound very exciting. And didn't you just COME from a desert, Sasta?"
K'ale seems to notice Aaron for the first time. He nods, "No, it doesn't, does it?" He seems to leave it at that.
An ear perks in Kensington's direction. Mira swivels her stool slightly. "Which Khatta you be talkin' about?"
"Eifferrent eeserrt. Worrk is worrk ah? I gots eo sonething Aaron." The cougaress replies, keeping her attention focused on the Kavi's presentation.
"The one I be glowerin' at!" replies the Korv, though his grin seems amiable enough. "I hear tell ye captain an airship. Whatta ye call 'er?"
Mira leans forward, peering around the Heyoke. "Her name is Poodle Engaging In All Possible Vices Simultaneously With Tremendous Satisfaction," she explains proudly. "The finest ship in the skies!"
"Good, good. I saw 'er in port, just the kinda clipper that might do," rasps Kensington, tilting his head a little more to peer around Lochinvar. "Tell me… what're the coordinates o' the 'fueling station 'tween a northern an' southern continent that refills yer ship's envelope fer the cheapest price?"
"Y'know, captain, I can't remember if I asked," Lochinvar says. "Does that all fit on one nameplate?"
Aaron coughs into his paw, to hide a smirk.
Sasta shakes her head a few times, and checks her mead. It can't be that strong.
Mira finishes off her ale. "Though," she finishes as if in anticipation of the question "th' crew an' I usually call 'er the Glutton. It's quicker."
Lochinvar just chuckles and nods. "Ah yes, I think you mentioned that before," he says.
Mira ponders. "I hear Bespin's got a pretty ready supply these days. They're right on top o' the stuff, so ye don't pay th' transport fee. Quite efficient, that."
Kensington waggles a wing indifferently. "That'un might not be too hard t'know fer a captain what's worth 'is salt… now then, which country won't letcha fly faster'n three knots if yer lower'n 2,254 feet, an'll actually nail ye fer it?"
Mira shakes her head, sighing. "If I could ram some sense into th' Chronotopians … but they be set in their ways. Somethin' about some machine, I hear."
Aaron watches Sasta. Maybe she'll get bored by all of the airship talk?
"Aaaall right… so ye've shown me ye've been as far as th' northlands," rasps the corsair, his smile broadening just slightly. "Now, one last one… as true a test as there e'er was fer a right'n'proper cap'n… what's th' name o' the only bartendin' bloke what can mix a "gooshurm slurp" witta twist o' pala-juice, IN th' middle o' a four Titanian brawl?" The bird folks his wings smugly.
The cougar Kattha is listening, but only partially. Her experience with airships was always more predatory and details like daily operation were left to other people. She swirls her mead around in her glass a few times, then swallows. Her tail flicks about idly.
K'ale looks from Mira, to Kensington, and back again, but doesn't say a word. He looks like he may be trying not to laugh.
The captain smiles, recalling memories of shoreleaves gone by and strange places visited once upon a time. "Ah! Ye mean Thresh!"
Aaron winks at Sasta, and whispers across to her, "Somehow I knew he'd get around to bars." Since he has to whisper across Kensington's seat though, it's not exactly a private whisper…
Kensington cackles, and pounds the counter with one wing-claw. He might've not heard Aaron's whisper, but his fist does come pretty close to where the Lapi was leaning. "Marty 'Jupi-Thrashin' Thresh! By th' crosswinds, K'Ale, yer in luck! This'un right here knows her stuff. Clue 'er inta th' details o' th' proposal, an' I bet we could get supplies stocked, a course laid out, an' all the trimmin's in no time."
K'ale nods, "I believe you neglected something." He turns to address Mira, "Are you interested in a charter, ma'am?"
Lochinvar throws down some coins on the counter, and beckons the Vartan barkeep over for a refill.
The mug is quickly refilled, and the coins scooped away for a quick polishing.
The Heyoke sighs a little. It's never nice having to part with things that can be made shiny with just a little polish.
Mira's other ear perks up. "A charter, ye say? Shall we discuss this … in private?" A slight motion of her head indicates the booths along the wall. "Bring yer friends, if ye like."
"A tiny o'ersight," rasps the corvid, leaning against the bar and winking at Sasta. "Airhands be in bars fer two reasons. They're either rich, or thur poor. Th' rich ones be whoopin', the poor ones just be chattin', so let's be chattin' about this job, aye?" He stands as the booths are indicated.
K'ale nods, "In private would be best. I believe I've made my case believable enough. I can explain everything best if you will agree to meet me at The Lanyard tomorrow night. I can introduce you to my associates then."
Sasta nods at the Lapi, and grins at the crow, "Sounes gooe to ne."
Khatta eyes flick from Korv to kavi. "Which will it be? Today or t'morrow? As long as ye've got th' cash, I'll be waitin'."
Aaron frowns slightly, not having heard of that particular establishment before.
"How I suppose fine that? I just gets into Rrephiein," Sasta asks.
Mira stands, absently tugging her uniform down slightly. Her tail indicates Lochinvar; she addresses the Kavi. "Friend o' yours?"
K'ale passes the silver he had out earlier to Kensington, "A token of my faith. It will be tomorrow, for I can't discuss everything in here. You are all invited, but no more."
The Lapi bites his lip. For once, his advantage of knowing the area is lost.
The winged coyote looks up from his mug. "Hmm? All invited? Where?" he asks.
K'ale smiles, "It's down by the docks… but don't expect a big sign for it. Ask around." He doesn't answer the Hekoye, as he gets to his feet, "I will be there after sunset. Can I count on your being there?"
The brown Kattha grins, her muzzle pulling back over her teeth, "Yaa, Sasta will be therres." She fills her grin with the rest of the mead in her mug.
Kensington snatches the coin, and flips it with a melodious ring. "Hah, we'll be thur! So, Sasta… didja say ye were still lookin' fer some blades? This coin be cut three ways, an' some o' it be yers." The Korv's eyefeathers waggle.
Mira nods. "As th' sun sets, so I'll be waitin'."
"I no woule say no to a coin, no natterr how it cut. I a little tirre of leavings just brruises." Sasta smiles at Kensington, but part of that look is shared with Aaron, mostly when she mentions bruises.
The kavi offers his paw to Mira, "I look forward to doing business with you and your vessel."
Aaron rubs at his arm reflexively.
Mira firmly grasps the kavi's paw. "Fly safely."
K'ale shakes the paw, "Be well." He takes his leave quietly.
Aaron frowns, "It doesn't pay to trust a Kavi."
The corsair watches his new employer leave, then leans his wings on the booth's table. "By Dagh, lop-ears, it sure paid this time. Well, ladies," he rasps, a glint in his eye as he regards the two Khattas. "What say we 'it a money-changer, and divvy this advance up, eh?"
Sasta purrrs, a deep bass sound just short of a growl that reminds people how big she is, even for a female. She keeps smiling to herself, looking at the empty bottom of her mug, rocking it back and forth on its base. "Well, we see how it looks in the norrning, ah Aarron?" Turning to the Korv her expression is equally warm, "ane I quite happy to go along forr thats rrights now."
Aaron crosses his arms. "Oh, it'll pay for the Kavi, I'm sure… "
Mira glances at the Korv. "Can ye vouch for these furballs? If ye say they're good, I say so."
Kensington thumps Lochinvar in the shoulder amiably. "'Owzabout it, Lochy? Ye were 'ere fer the whole shebang… I seen ye can 'andler yerself in a mix-up, an' it looks like th' captain 'ere could use another paw."
Lochinvar spills a little bit of his drink on the bar at that. "As I say, it's been slow around here," he notes. "Sure, I could do with getting off Rephidim for a bit also. Why not?"
"Plus," the coyote adds, "I've already spoke to the captain here about the skills I'd have to offer her on her ship."
Aaron says, "Well… I hear the Nohbakim have some interesting plants and animals out there in the desert. I could probably turn a profit with a few samples… "
Sasta slides from her seat, adjusting her cape behind her. She gives a wave to the Korv, "Well Kenny, you goings show ne the shekels? I out of errink ane therre no rreason to stay if we gots business… " Her last word trails off into her continuing purr.
"Then ye'll be back t'morrow," observes Mira. "Th' Glutton calls me she gets just a bit lonely sometimes." With that farewell, the Khatta makes her way to the door and back, one supposes, to her vessel.
"Goodnight, captain," Lochinvar offers to the departing Khatta.
Kensington bobs his head agreeably at Sasta, letting the silver glint in his paw again. "Aye, right ye are, luv!" caws the bird, looking briefly blissed at the purring. "Let's split 'er up, an' go t'town!"
Aaron figures he can trust the crow with Sasta for one night. He has other things to check up on… like just who is this Kavi, and whether or not the ex-pirate really does have a price on his head…
Sasta leaves with Kensington, to split up the coin, and 'go to town'. She's smiling just like the cat who has captured the canary or in this case, the Korv.