26 Jan 1998. Francisco deals with an embarrassing condition. Galand aids Buran.
(Rephidim Bazaar) (Buran) (Francisco) (Galand) (Rephidim)
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Francisco's 'Guy Fox' Booth
A new stall stands in the Bazaar, of sturdier (and less temporary) construction than most to be seen anywhere nearby. The booth sports a large sign, hand-painted, depicting a smiling Kitsune, and a depiction of a fiery explosion in the background. In the booth are numerous dolls, most of them alike – They look like gray Zerdas, just with not such big ears, and with five tails to make up for the shortcoming … and garishly-colored shirts.

A number of boy cubs of varying pre-adolescent ages congregate around the booth, some of them clutching their own Official Francisco Dolls. Normally, stuffed clutch-toys would not be popular among young boys, but they seem to regard this as a sort of "action figure". "Ugh! Urgh! I think I'm gonna – *KABOOM!*" Another five-tailed vulpine toy is tossed into the air, to the applause and laughter of the other cubs nearby.

Francisco, however, still doesn't appear to be getting into the spirit of trading in the Bazaar. Right now, he's just tending the stall, just making the sales and not going in for any of the hawking like the other traders. In truth, right now, he's not feeling so great anyway.

Galand wanders by, idly flipping a coin on his thumb, and chuckling softly to himself, watching the antics of the youngsters…

One of the cubs runs up to Francisco, squealing, "Do it again! DO IT AGAIN!"

Frowning down at the cub a little, the Kitsune says, "What makes you think I do that by choice, anyway?"

The cub says, "Well, GARTUK… " He is cut off as he looks to see a foppish-looking Fox walking up to the booth. The attire prompts a number of giggles and chortles from the cubs, though the Fox seems to be fairly oblivious to it all, what with the dumb smile plastered on his face.

Francisco thinks . o O ( How rude. )

The Fox bows to Francisco, "A fine day it is to be alive! And so good to see that business is booming, Sir Francisco!"

A put-upon lady Khatta walks up to the booth, stepping in front of the short foppish Fox. She does not look enthusiastic. "I need one 'Boom-Fox', please." She wrinkles her nose distastefully.

A kitten tugs at the edge of her skirts. "I want one TOO, Mama! I WANT ONE TOO!"

"Make that TWO," 'Mama' says. "And I'd like a pink ribbon tied onto one of them, if you can manage."

"FIVE!" corrects the kitten. "I want FIVE ribbon bows! One on each tail!"

Galand glances at the Fox with the frills and suppresses a small sneer of contempt… however, a mischevious twinkle tries to creep into his eye.

Francisco turns to look at the fox at the booth. He smiles, but groans inwardly. "Hi," he says to him, then: "Excuse me a moment." The Kitsune turns his attention to the Khatta. "Certainly," he says with a forced smile. "That will be 80 shekels."

The Kitsune pauses for a moment. "The bows normally cost extra, but I will throw them in for that price."

The Khatta mother winces a bit, but says, "All right, okay… " She pulls out a purse and starts digging through it.

Francisco waits while the Khatta sorts out her money, and gets that bad feeling he's been having recently. He starts to shift on his feet uncomfortably.

The foppish hmphs and leaps up onto the counter, swinging a lute around from behind his back. "Another sale! Ah, the sweet smell of shekels! I think this calls for a SONG!"

"Um, no… " Francisco says. "Please, no. At least, not right now."

The lady Khatta casts a glance over to the Fox, and then produces the amount asked for in tenners, fivers, singles and bits, counting them out again on the counter before pushing them toward Francisco.

The Kitsune takes the money quickly, and puts it in what passes for a register. (A drawer in the booth)

The well-dressed spotted feline continues to watch the proceedings, then groans inwardly at the sheer thought of an improvised song. Granted, he knows not how good this particular Fox may be, but based upon previous listening experience…

The foppish Fox gives Francisco a hurt look. "But I composed it especially for YOU!"

"After all, you're the most FAMOUS Fox in Rephidim now! You're even more popular than that 'I'm a knight' fellow," the Fox adds.

Francisco smiles wanly to the foppish fox. "Er, thanks. Knight fellow?"

The mother Khatta, meanwhile, drums her fingers on the counter. "And don't forget the bows."

Francisco ahs and nods to the Khatta. "I'll just get them," he says, and bends down to get them from under the counter.

The elegant but rugged-looking Khatta steps up to the counter and says, "Good sir, I think I'll have one of those dolls… with one of the lucky people here being the recipient."

"If you let him sing, sir, you'll never forgive yourself." A voice drifts on the breeze from a short distance down the street. A Khatta with gray fur, black spots, and … wings (?) eyes the foppish Fox warily as she walks past various booths.

As Francisco stoops down …

( This line has been omitted for the sake of maintaining some sense of civility in this log. Suffice it to say that the cubs are now giggling and shrieking their heads off. )

Galand blinks a moment, then steps back, wrinkling his nose. "Pardon me for asking, sir, but are you well?"

"Well, I NEVER!" the lady Khatta exclaims! The kitten holding onto her skirts giggles loudly.

Galand spies the winged spotted Khatta, and looks speculatively as she wanders past… then snaps his attention back to the scene at hand.

"Oh dear!" says the foppish Fox. He looks a bit woozy, and then falls off of the counter, fainting. *THUD* His tail flops into the air, then falls back down again. His lute makes a dischordant "SPRANG!" but somehow miraculously manages to stay in one piece.

A rather embarrassed Francisco looks up from behind the counter. "Special effects?" he tries in an attempt to explain himself.

The male Khatta smiles, chuckling softly. "Of a rather convincing nature, I'm sure… Now, about that doll… "

The cubs nearby are guffawing and shrieking. Several multi-tailed dolls are flung into the air, and then cubs run all about, trying to catch them – and engaging in a few tugs of war as there is, of course, the inevitable dispute over ownership.

The lady Khatta blanches. "Just … just give me the dolls and the ribbon. I'll … ( gasp ) … tie the bows myself, thank you."

She waves her hand about, trying to dispel the oddly green haze that has permeated the area, though it is slowly dispersing thanks to a light breeze coming down the street.

Francisco, still almost underneath the counter, puts two dolls and enough ribbons on the counter.

Galand smiles at the lady. "Look at it this way, madame… the color matches your eyes."

The mother Khatta grimaces at Galand, grabs the dolls and ribbon in one hand, tugs her giggling kitten with the other, and stomps away from the booth indignantly.

The foppish Fox slowly rises from the ground, standing on wobbly legs. "Colorrrrssss… "

Buran has paused at a booth that is selling finely-cut wooden strips. An ear swivels toward the commotion, and a brief glance is directed that way. But apparently she's seen worse, for she resumes her close inspection of the merchandise.

Galand chuckles, glancing at the retreating mother, then turns back to the beleaguered Kitsune. "Now, sir… if you don't mind, I'd like to have a doll now… "

The Kitsune sighs, and ponders remaining under the counter for the rest of the day. This… whatever it is, is not fun. But since he's still got customers, he holds just a hand up above the level of the counter and says, "That's forty shekels."

Galand tosses the coinage on the counter, then steps back, gesturing dramatically to the gathered customers. "Ladies and gentlemen… in a moment of generosity, I have decided to play a little game… whoever can guess where I've hidden the fox-doll can have it, free of charge, for their very own… "

All of the cubs at once stop their squabbling, and Galand most certainly has their full attention. "For FREE?" "FREE?" "WOW!" "GIMME GIMME GIMME!"

Francisco huhs? from underneath his booth, and pokes his head up a little.

The smiling kahtta twirls his cloak dramatically and grins. "One moment, please, and I'll conceal it on my person. Name where you think I might have it, and we'll see who's the lucky recipient."

The foppish Fox looks about woozily. His ears perk up, as he adjusts his hat. "Free?"

A cub squeals, "It's under your CLOAK!"

Galand mrrowls, "A moment, young friend. I have not yet concealed it!"

The cub pouts. "But… " He is glared down, however, by his comrades.

Galand turns, whirling his cloak about himself, as he does something with the doll…

Galand turns back around, cloak draped about himself, his paws behind his back. He looks at the assembled crowd, and nods at the vociferous youngster. "And now, young sir, it is your time to guess."

The little fuzzy-headed cub says, "You're holding it behind your BACK!"

A nearby Jupani whispers, "That's too EASY! No fair… "

The Kitsune just watches silently, feeling a little better.

The Khatta smiles, then holds out both hands. "Sorry, youngster." He glances at a young ladycub. "And you, young miss?"

Buran, meanwhile, seems to have made some kind of choice. She indicates a small pile of planks, then looks up at the merchant. "These, please."

The Jupani hmphs, and gives the fuzzy-headed cub's head a Naga Scrub. "OW!" says Fuzzy-Head.

The little girl cub wrings her tail in her hands as she swings back and forth, chin down, looking up at Galand with wide eyes. "Uhm … In your ear?"

The Jupani stops scrubbing Fuzzy-Head's scalp and nods. "Yeah. Great Woodrow keeps lots of coins THERE!"

Fuzzy-Head mews, "Ow."

Galand sticks a finger in his ear, and wiggles it about. "Sorry, little lady… " He looks at the foppish Fox. "And you sir? You look like an intelligent fellow… how about it?"

The foppish Fox puffs out his heavily-laced chest and says, "Well, it's hardly FAIR, compared to cubs, but … all right!" He squints one eye, scrutinizing Galand.

Galand shifts a bit… There's a noticeable bulge at his left hip.

The foppish Fox blinks, stopping his concentration, and abruptly points at the bulge. "There! There, there, there!"

Galand smiles and brings out the doll, handing it to the Fox. "There you go, sir… and rightly won." He backs away, smiling even wider. "Enjoy… "

The foppish fox laughs loudly. "Bah hah! MINE! I WIN!" He bounces up and down, waving the stuffed fox around, and squeezes it.

The celebration is abruptly interrupted by a loud *BANG* from the foppish Fox's prize toy, and he is soon obscured in a cloud of smoke. Bits of stuffing and five little Kitsune tails fly in random directions.

The cubs squeal loudly … then scamper after the debris, giggling. "BOOM!" "KABOOM!" "BLAMMO!" "DO IT AGAIN!"

Francisco ducks down under the booth again, as a piece heads in his direction.

The Khatta looks totally taken aback… He mrrowls softly, "Oh… my… "

The Khatta takes advantage of the chaos to slip the Kitsune shopkeeper a sly wink.

The smoke clears enough to reveal a very startled-looking foppish Fox. His hat has been knocked back, and the feather tucked into his cap limps heavily. His face is marked with soot, as is his shirt. "… all mine … " he whines.

Re-emerging from the booth, Francisco looks back at Galand. "Um, you do realize that the exploding model costs more than forty, don't you?"

The merchant and Sphynx haggle with one another. Finally, "Gehnoh?" is heard and echoed. Goods and payment change hands. For one reason or another, the Temple-robed Sphynx is now the owner of … a small bundle of wooden planks of varying size and finish. Buran looks once more toward the commotion, then pauses, clearly taken aback. She shakes her head in disbelief.

Galand smiles at the shopkeeper. "Just tell me the difference, neighbor, and it's yours."

"They're sixty, so I'll need twenty shekels more," Francisco says.

The foppish Fox, meanwhile, whimpers loudly.

The Khatta digs in his moneypouch, and tosses the Kitsune thirty shekels. "Keep the change, neighbor, as recompense for my error."

A Guard patrol consisting of three Jupanis and a Zelak marches down the street. They look in the direction of the booth. One of them says, "Oh … It's just the Fox again. Nevermind." With that, they walk along.

Francisco catches the array of coins tossed at him, and his ears perk up a little more. "Thank you!"

Galand goes over to the Foppish Fox and brushes a bit of stuffing off his shoulder… He peers at the vulpine's soot-stained face and body, as his ears flinch slightly at the whimpering. "You know, friend, you really ought to have that looked at… it might get infected if one isn't careful."

The Fox says, "Whine."

"NEBO!" squeals one of the cubs. Immediately, the pack of cubs and kits loses interest in the foppish Fox's distress, as they charge after the Guards, zeroing in on one of their number that is conspicuously larger than the rest. If he weren't so big, he would be bowled over…

Galand goes over to the counter and murmurs quietly to the Kitsune, "I do believe that soots… err, suits him… don't you, neighbor?"

Buran crosses the street to a booth selling, of all things, string and fabric. She exchanges a few words with the merchant and shows a sketch of something. The merchant eyes the sheet, then begins to sort through his stock.

Francisco tries not to chuckle too much. "Perhaps a little."

The foppish Fox whines, "I'd like to return this, please." He puts an unrecognizeable wad of soot-covered stuffing and fur onto the counter.

Galand leans close to the shopkeeper and vaguely points at the winged lady Khatta across the square. "My dear fellow, do you know who that… lovely lady might be?"

Without waiting for Francisco's reply, the foppish Fox's ears perk up. "I could tell you PLENTY about her … for a modest fee."

Francisco looks at the fox bard, or attempt at bard from his reckoning anyway. "Sorry. I can't do refunds for the exploding dolls."

Galand smirks at the foppish Fox, and slips him 50 shekels. "Is that modest enough, friend?"

The foppish Fox's ears stand straight up. "Oh, yes! This should buy me a whole bottle of Eyerot Gin – er, I mean, well, that would happen to be Technopriest Buran. She's from the Temple, you see. She's a Sphynx. Except that she's not a Paradysian. She doesn't squawk, see, or call herself a Vartan."

Galand nods quietly, slipping the Fox another twenty. "Do tell… "

The foppish Fox hops back up onto his perch on the counter, which brings him closer to eye level again. "And, since I know everything about Exiles in Rephidim, I also happen to know that she was involved with a Titanian Exile named … ah … what WAS his name… " His eyes brighten at the twenty. "Oh yes! Now I remember. Jonas. Big Titanian barbarian. Dresses in a skirt. Most un-manly, don't you think?" The foppish Fox grins. "Now then… let's see… "

Various swatches of fabric are laid on the counter for the Templar in blue to examine. She compares them against her sketch, then indicates one. The merchant lays a bolt of that fabric on the counter, and haggling begins anew.

Galand nods quietly, listening as he gazes at the Templar…

The Foppish One continues, "Oh, yes, and she was in Sylvania or – no, no, no, wrong place. I think maybe Titania … no … well, she was in SOMEPLACE in Nordika, and came back while Rephidim was floating over that area. With the Titanian Exile she picked up, that is."

Francisco leans closer, listening too.

"Oh yes!" adds the foppish Fox with a flourish. "She fixes things. But not just things. People, too. She saved the life of that old scholar … uhm … sorry, I forget his name. Mead! That's his name. Ask For Mead. Or something like that."

Galand cocks an ear and looks strangely at the Fox when he mentions mead, then goes back to studying the lovely lady in blue…

The foppish Fox leans back, lowering his brows as he loudly whispers to Francisco, "Oh yes … and I just might have some information of interest to YOU, too!"

Francisco perks one ear a little. "Really?" he asks, unconvinced. "About what?"

The foppish Fox smiles mischievously. "Oh … I assure you, the information is totally USELESS." He makes an exaggerated wink.

Buran closes a deal with the fabric merchant and places shekels on the counter before settling the bolt of fabric in her tote-bag. Satisfied, she wanders down the street leisurely, pausing occasionally to peer into other displays.

Galand slips the Fox another twenty. "I like USELESS info."

The Fox smiles widely. "Well, well! Ahem." He glances to Francisco. "I take it this fellow is a trusted friend of yours?"

Realization sets in on the five-tailed fox. "Oh, who? Him?" he motions to Galand.

The foppish Fox nods. "Of course! You see, I figured you might want me to keep a lid on this information, since it'd be your discretion as to how to make the best use of it. Though, of course, I'm simply FULL of suggestions." He smiles even more widely, if it were possible.

Francisco nods. "Go on," he urges.

The foppish Fox tucks away the shekels, then says, in a 'hushed' but still audible voice, "Well, I happen to know you aren't too fond of a certain noble poodle, who shall go unnamed, except his first name rhymes with 'Eustace', and his last name rhymes with 'do Varr'." He blinks. "Er, I meant, it rhymes with … Oh, nevermind… "

Galand chuckles softly, "Ah, I see you've heard of His Excremence as well… then again, who on Rephidim hasn't?"

The foppish Fox ahems. "Well, in any case, I'm not ENTIRELY fond of him myself. Especially after that horrible misunderstanding in which he seemed to think that I would enjoy being 'flushed'." He sighs loudly. "Well, you see, what I think YOU want," he thrusts a gloved index finger at Francisco, "is dirt on Master do Varr. And I think I just might have something. And, since I've already been PAID … " He smiles to Galand. "I'll be happy to oblige."

Francisco uh-huhs. "'Dirt' would indeed go a long way," he notes.

Buran stops at a booth from which wafts the tempting scent of food.

The foppish Fox, looking quite assured of himself (despite the fact that he's still soot-covered), leans back against a supporting post, and cracks his knuckles. "Welll … Have you by any chance heard of Inquisitrix Vindicta? Underling of Arch-Inquisitrix do Varr … the latter of which happens to be the father of our young Master do Varr?"

The male Khatta nods slowly. "Yes… I think perhaps when I was growing up, my parents mentioned her once or twice… was once an underling, perhaps in more ways than one, to Ex-Arch-Inquisitor Moffat, wasn't she?"

The foppish Fox grins wickedly. "Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Though she's since moved about in the department, of course."

The Khatta smiles just as wickedly. "So I've heard… I've also heard she's managed to 'move' a few department members… "

"Vindicta… Vindicta… ," Francisco thinks. "I've heard that name before – oh yes! That garden we did – that was her's, was it not?"

"Well," the foppish Fox says, and then clears his throat. "Yes, that was her garden. When I decided to take a break one of those days, I got thirsty and decided to check and see if she might have any hooch stashed away in the house so I … ah … well … the door just HAPPENED to be open, and there wasn't a 'no trespassing' sign and … "

Galand blinks slowly. "You worked in Lady Spikeheels' garden? And escaped with your neck, not to mention your virtue, intact?" He whistles lowly. "You two are a pair of lucky foxes."

The foppish Fox clears his throat again. "Anyway, Inquisitrix Vindicta happens to be good friends with your friend and mine, Little Master do Varr."

Francisco glances at the foppish fox. "Some are. Others are lucky to have others around."

The foppish Fox just smiles, oblivious to any thinly-hidden meaning in Francisco's remark.

Galand blinks at the Fop. "Sir… though we have only met today, you have already considerably altered my standards of estimation of intelligence for aberrations from the norm for your species."

"Oh! Why, thank you," the foppish Fox grins. "I used to have amazing super powers, too, back on my homeworld."

Galand glances at the smiling Fop-Fox. "And perhaps even for those who only appear normal."

Buran is finally able to obtain lunch after waiting in line for an overwhelmingly long time. Apparently, the booth only serves a single plate, for everyone else in the line received the same item. Sighing, she sits down to eat.

Francisco says, "Oh yeah – that's right. You did say you were an exile, didn't you?"

"In any case, would you perchance have heard of Mage Kelsey van Kabril?" the foppish Fox says, adopting a thoughtful pose as he places his soot-stained fingers against the side of his chin and glances upward.

"ALL Foxes are Exiles," the foppish Fox says, sighing as if this were PERFECTLY obvious…

The Kitsune merely 'uh-huhs'. "As for that mage, never heard of him."

The Khatta shakes his head, sneaking another glance at the lady Sphynx. "Vaguely rings my chimes, but nothing solid."

The foppish Fox blinks twice at Francisco. "That's funny. She's the one who's supposed to blow you up!"

Francisco blinks. "Okay, she. Eh? She is? I told that countess I hadn't decided whether I'd go through with that or not yet."

"Oh, do, do!" the foppish Fox says. "I mean, you're halfway there ALREADY!"

The five-tailed fox gives the other fox a scowl back.

The foppish Fox says, "Well, if you're going to shoot dirty looks at me, I don't see why I should tell you another thing! If you can fill in the blanks, I'm sure you can find twenty shekels' worth EASILY. HMPH!"

The foppish Fox crosses his arms indignantly.

Galand appears to have tuned out somewhat, still gazing at the blue-clad Templar across the way…

"Oh, fine, fine, I'll go ahead and give you the punchline," the foppish Fox says. "You see, KELSEY seems to have an interest in Young Master do Varr as well. Why, I even saw them both converging on him at Alysin's Auction House, whereupon, rather than being seen with BOTH of them – or, rather, letting either of them see him with the OTHER – in public."

Francisco sighs and holds up his hands in apology.

The Fox runs his finger through the air, tracing out a triangle. "Don't you SEEEEE? Two very deadly lady poodles. One is an Inquisitrix, and the other is a Fire-Mage. One likes to inflict pain, the other to obliterate large sections of real estate… "

The Kitsune shakes his head. "I don't see quite what you're getting at yet."

The foppish Fox blinks a couple of times … then smacks himself on the forehead. "WAHHHHHHHH!"

Galand quirks an eyebrow. "I think what he's getting at is… big boom."

The foppish Fox holds both hands out to Galand. "YES! YES! THAT'S IT!"

Francisco looks lost. "Big broom?"

Galand smiles slyly, "In other words, my friend shopkeeper, young Monster – err, Master do Varr is likely to find himself between two rather fiery and feisty young ladies… ladies who might very well have the ability to decimate Rephidim's population, habitable area, or both."

Galand sighs. "Lucky dog."

The foppish Fox sighs. "Yes, well, in a way of looking at it, I suppose so… "

Francisco just says, "Oh."

The Kitsune attempts to ponder over this.

Down the street, the robed Sphynx has been idly watching the Bazaar's many patrons. The stall's food is apparently not too bad, for most of it is gone. As yet another Kavi passes by, though, she suddenly leans against a stall and lets her bag of newly-bought goods drop to the ground next to her.

Galand blinks, gesturing to the foxes. "Pardon me, sirs… duty calls."

The foppish Fox follows Galand's line of vision. "Aha! A damsel in distress!"

The male Khatta lunges toward the Templar, moving nimbly through the crowd with the ease that comes from years of practice, until he reaches the lady Khatta.

Galand lays a gentle hand on Buran's shoulder. "Milady, are you all right?"

The foppish Fox leans back. "Now, if you're STILL lost … I have been pondering a positively FOOLPROOF way that a resourceful Fox could perchance get even – er, play a friendly prank on our dear friend, Young Master do Varr… " He winks.

Francisco leans over to the foppish Fox. "I'm listening," he says.

The foppish Fox puts a hand up beside his muzzle, and then whispers, "Normally, I would charge a MODEST fee for my services … but I am, of course, eternally in your debt for saving me from that horrid plant thing."

Francisco chuckles to himself. ( I'll remember that ) O o . he thinks.

"Now," says the foppish Fox, forgetfully dropping his hand and raising his volume, "I figure, one good flush deserves another, don't you think?"

Buran blinks, then shakily raises her head to look up at Galand. "The food… was too … spicy." Her voice is almost a whisper. "Shock. Find blankets… " She's shaking.

"You mean… Flush him?" asks the Kitsune, not sure if he's on the right track here, but hoping he might be.

The foppish Fox nods his head up and down several times, causing his floppy hat to … well … flop … and creating a small cloud of soot. "YES!" He pats Francisco on the back. "You're right there with me, all right!"

Francisco grins. "Well, it will do for starters, I'll say."

Galand nods, gently touching Buran's cheek, then he goes to a nearby booth and grabs a handful of blankets, saying hurriedly, "Pardon me sir or ma'am, but I'm afraid I must borrow these for a few brief moments. Medical emergency, I'm a doctor, government business, you never saw me, thank you, have a nice day or night, goodbye!" He then dashes back towards the incapacitated Sphynx and starts laying blankets over her.

The foppish Fox, oblivious to the incident with Galand and the Sphynx, continues, "You see, I happen to work in the sewers. I know it like the back of my hand!" He holds up his glove, then frowns as he sees how soot-covered it is … and wipes it off on Francisco's sleeve. "And I know all SORTS of accesses. Ways to get out … and IN."

Galand gently moves Buran to a position on her back. "Now just lay here, and I'll get you some help. I won't leave you, milady."

The Kitsune grimaces at the smeared mark on his shirt. "Uh-huh."

Buran's forehead feels cold and clammy to the Khatta's touch.

After making sure Buran is snugged in her blankets, the spotted Khatta stands up, and bellows, "I need a Healer over here, NOW!"

The foppish Fox is momentarily broken off of his train of thought by the shout, and as a bit of a stir is caused in the Bazaar.

Buran also appears to be a bit paler than usual – that is, where her thick fur doesn't hide that fact.

Galand looks around, then mentally wincing, he shouts, "I'll triple your fee!!"

Three Jupani Guards (and a Zelak) come to the scene, followed by a troupe of cubs. One of the Jupanis starts pushing back some of the gawkers. "Give them some room, please."

Francisco cranes his head to try and see what's going on. "What's happening out there?"

The largest Jupani rears back his head … and makes a very loud HOWL that makes the glasses in a nearby booth rattle on the counter.

The male Khatta kneels down by the lady Sphynx and gently pats her cheek again. "C'mon, milady… don't fall asleep on me… stay awake, c'mon, stay with Ash… "

Buran pulls the blankets more tightly around her with a shaking hand. "Feet," she whispers. "Raise them."

Galand starts piling blankets under Buran's feet, as instructed.

The foppish Fox remarks, "Well, we're lucky! You see, that lady Sphynx over there just happens to be a heal – er … nevermind."

Galand's sensitive ears catch that remark, and his nigh-impossibly long tail starts to twitch madly in agitation.

The Zelak stays close by the Jupani guards. It swivels its head, scanning for illegal activities.

"Oh – has she not heard of the phrase, 'Physician, heal thyself'?" Francisco offers.

"SHUSH!" says the foppish Fox, his ears blushing red…

The tip of the Khatta's tail is clearly visible over the crowd… twitch… twitch… twitch…

A couple of Eeee in Temple uniforms fly overhead, shrieking, and then circle down into the street. "Help on the way!" one chatters.

Galand nods to the Eeee, and returns to trying to keep Buran conscious.

The Zelak's inscrutable gaze sweeps acrouss Francisco and the foppish fox…

The large bug settles its sight upon two small Kavis, one brownish and the other a light tan, who are running from the scene quickly. "Halt for questioning, citizens," it clacks, beginning to move after them.

Galand finishes adjusting the blankets, and returns to staring into Buran's eyes… "Better?"

The foppish Fox shudders as the big bug … LOOKS at him … but breathes a sigh of relief as it chases the Kavis instead.

Buran nods slightly, closing her eyes. "Th-thank you."

Francisco ducks down behind the stall at the same time, having thought the bug was looking at him!

An eagle-cry pierces the air, and then two Vartans in Temple gear descend from the sky, bearing a stretcher. The Jupani Guards move aside to make way … while one of the wolves mutters under his breath at the quickly-departing Zelak.

One of the Jupani guards looks to the male Khatta. "Your assistance in this matter is appreciated by the Temple. However, as a matter of standard procedure, I would ask you your name, in case you may be needed for questioning."

Buran lapses into unconsciousness as the Vartans descend.

Galand nods briskly to the guard. "Ah… yes, of course. My name's Ashur Galand… Call me 'Ash'… and you can usually find me at the Three Thieves Inn. If I'm not there, the innkeep will usually know where to find me. If he doesn't know, then try the Beggared Poodle Casino over in Darkside. They know me by name there as well."

The Jupani Guard nods, then motions to the Vartans.

Galand mrrowls, "Um, sir… "

"Yes?" The Jupani looks back to Galand.

Galand helps the Vartans move Buran onto the stretcher, trying to keep her wings clear from her back, so they don't get crushed.

The Vartans then lift up the stretcher, and, with powerful beats of their wings that buffet those standing nearby, they take off, and quickly clear the rooftops, flying past the Clock Tower … and toward the Temple.

As the Khatta helps out, he asks, "Might I possibly accompany you on the way back to the healer's center? I do not know this lady personally, but it would allow my heart to rest easier if I saw for myself that she will be all right."

The Jupani frowns, looks to the others, and then says, "They'll beat us there easily. And, I'm sorry, but she's from the Technopriesthood."

Galand nods slowly. "… And?"

The Jupani adds, by way of explanation, "She'll receive the best care, of course. But they don't generally allow others into the medical wing of the Inner Mysteries, if you catch my meaning."

Galand looks about to say something rather smart about 'Inner Mysteries,' then glances at the burly Guardsmen, and thinks better of it… He sighs greatly, then says, "Very well… but at the very least, if she makes it through, and asks who helped her, tell her what I told you?"

"Certainly, Citizen," the Jupani responds, then makes a hand motion to the others. "Show's OVER!" he calls out to the crowd.

Galand smiles. "And actually, I don't catch your meaning, but I'll translate that as 'No Admittance'."

Galand nods to the Jupani. "I thank you, sir… " He smiles and adds, "If you need anything while off-duty and in this area, seek me out. I never forget those who do me favors."

In the distance, a purple-shelled Zelak (accented by sections of pink chiton) clipclops back with two Kavis in tow, holding a familiar-looking bit of stuffed cloth. It quickly approaches the other Jupanis.

The Jupani guard gives the male Khatta a curt nod, then looks at the approaching Zelak. "Okay, what have you got here?"

The Zelak joins the others and rasps, "Suspects apprehended in act of seizing merchandise belonging to this stall without previously paying for items." It holds up the gray… five-tailed… fox doll that it must have confiscated.

The foppish Fox squints at the doll from his perch on the counter, then leans back behind the booth, looking at Francisco's tails. "One, two, three, four, FIVE! Yes, that's him, all right!"

Francisco heys! "That's one of mine!" he calls out, then gulps, realizing he just spoke to a bug.

One of the Kavis protests, "He gave it to us!" The other looks outraged that they are considered thieves.

"No I didn't," the Kitsune says. "Besides, that's clearly a model for display only."

The Zelak looks back from the Kavis to the Kitsune, and then reaches across to hand the doll back to Francisco. "Stolen property is restored to you, citizen. Do you wish to file charges against the thieves?"

The foppish Fox says, "Maybe you could make them wear Guy Fox costumes and 'volunteer' for a demonstration… "

The Kavis struggle harder to try and yank themselves free of the Zelak's clutches. One wails, "We didn't do it!" "Yeah, it was just a harmless missake!"

Francisco takes the doll back quickly, and does his best to avoid looking at the bug, feeling rather ill when doing so. Instead of saying anything for fear of… mishap, he shakes his head in response to the Zelak.

Looking at the other fox, Francisco hmms. "That's an idea. Perhaps I can avoid that… being blown-up thing."

The Zelak shifts its mandibles, rasping. "Answer is not clear, citizen. Do you wish to file charges?"

Still managing to avoid looking at the bug, the five-tailed fox replies, "No."

The foppish Fox looks a bit disappointed. "Oh well." He shrugs.

The Jupani guard walks up to the kids. "Okay, so it looks like you're getting off the hook this time. But I hope you've learned that you can't steal without the Temple finding out about it. Crime does NOT pay."

Galand wanders back over to the booth. "Well, it does, but only if you're good at it. Most aren't."

The Jupani looks over to Galand, frowning. "Please, Citizen. I'll handle the moral of the day here."

The Zelak releases the Kavis to the custody of its fellow guards. "No charges filed. Stolen property restored to original owner." It clacks its mandibles satisfiedly. "Incident resolved."

Galand nods, smiling. "Yessir. My apologies. If you don't need me, I'll just go cower over there by the food stand."

Francisco looks back at the fox bard. "'Oh well'? What's what for?"

The foppish Fox shrugs. "Well, just the lost opportunity at gaining the benefit of two forced laborers, that's all."

Francisco sighs. "Judging by what I hear about Kavis, the opportunity may arise again."

Galand nods to Francisco. "It's like my dear old father always said… ' Never trust a Kavi as far as you can throw your house.'" He smiles wryly. "Considering that my father had a rather large house, that should say something."

The foppish Fox shrugs. "I just simply do NOT understand what motivates thieves."

The Jupani shoos off the Kavis. "We'll be going now. Good work, Citizen Francisco. It's good to see you showing initiative to pay back your Temple debt."

With that, the Guards head off, Zelak in tow.

"WELL!" the foppish Fox says, hopping down from the counter. "I think mayhaps I should be heading along. I'll tell you about my big plan to flush – er – amuse Young Master do Varr later, eh?"

As soon as the Guards leave, Galand mutters, "Not allowed into the medical wing of the Inner Mysteries… my fuzzy spotted behind!" He sighs. "I'll probably never see her again."

With that, the foppish Fox bows to Francisco, and then to the male Khatta. "A good day to you both! Ta ta!" And then he skips off, quickly disappearing into the crowd without so much as letting anyone respond in a timely fashion.

Francisco nods and waves farewell to the fox, very glad he didn't sing.

Galand nods to Francisco. "Well… it's been interesting, Master Francisco… If you'll pardon me, I'll just find a nice hole to drop myself into and drown a couple or three of my sorrows." He looks after the Fop. "At least I didn't have to endure that awful caterwauling he thinks passes for song."

Galand wanders off into the crowd, sparing Francisco a final farewell wave… he puts his arm around the shoulders of a passing Kavi and says amiaby, "Tell me my friend… Have you ever heard of a game of chance called sab'hak?"

Francisco, now left alone, watches around for any other customers, and seeing none approaching for the moment, ducks beneath the stall again. He's sure it's something to do with those pills…

---

GMed by Greywolf

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