Freedom Park lies within the less used parts of the Crafters' Quarters in the city proper as a walk goes, it's a considerable way from the College Esoterica in the Scholars' Quarter, but it's much easier to find. Within its cozy spaces trees shade people as they walk its maze-like paths. The only pond or indeed, any kind of body of water to be found within is the crickhen pond, where a few passing Kavis and mice stop to give crusts of bread to the small birds with rainbow-colored bat-wings that float serenely on its surface.
In the early afternoon, a tortoise-shell patterned Khatta walks alongside a bat carrying a sloshing bag that swings somewhat more in her grip than would be accounted for by motion. "So if the mage will not come to the mountain," Haskalah quips with a wiggle of her ears.
Wynona cheerily walks along, though occasionally squeaking at the thrashing of the fish. She's not very large (unless you count the wings) and even for her size like all Eeee and especially the females she's not terribly strong.
Wynona looks to Haskalah, "… then the mountain will come to the mage? Surely you don't mean you're going to move all of Rephidim over there, with chaos magic, do you? That would be terribly unlikely… "
The elderly brown-furred Khatta continues to snooze beneath a tree. His crude fishing rod dips into the water, nearly touching, and a little bit of something tentacly wriggles on the hook. It's a wonder the bat-winged mallards haven't had at it already.
"I was thinking more of fish and Khattas," Haskalah admits with a smile. "But who can say where Rephidim will go? Not I."
Wynona's voice drops to a whisper. "Okay, fishy. Be a good fishy! Look! Nummy tentacle! Dunno what it's part of, but I'm sure fishies would find it nummy! Mmmm-mmmm!"
Haskalah watches Wynona curiously. "So, have you a plan then, Journeyman Wynona?"
The fish splooshes around in the bag.
Wynona looks to Haskalah. "A plan? Mmmmmm… I guess I'm hoping for dumb luck, really. But, I figure, if there's just one fishy in the pond, and only one source of yummy munchies for it, then SURELY the two should get together. Eventually. I hope this fish lasts a long time."
"I'd try to move the fishy toward the hook … but air is my element, not water," Wynona grins.
Wynona goes "Shhhhh!" and then tip-toes toward the slumbering fisherman, scouting out the area and trying to see how far the fishing line goes into the water.
Haskalah smiles and watches.
The line dangles perhaps six feet into the small pond. It's not really a very big pond… Sediment obscures the deeper parts, where it turns into liquid blue-green, and closer to the shore the green resolves into colorful stones packed close together to provide pleasant distracting colors.
Wynona makes sure the bag is secured so the fishy won't dance about as soon as she lets go (or, at least, so she hopes it won't), and sets it down next to her, as she tries to draw in the line without pulling on it from the fisherman's direction and giving it any tug that might alert him.
A little tentacly thing drips wetly from the hook. It smells terrible.
Wynona wrinkles her nose, and goes for the bag. She mmms quietly to herself, realizing the fish isn't likely to be aiming to get food while it's in a panic state. She pauses a moment, regarding the stinky tentacle and trying to sort out how to introduce Mister Fishy to Mister Slimy-and-Stinky.
Haskalah just watches with wiggling ears.
Mister Fishy thrashes around in the bag.
Wynona sighs quietly, and drops the hook back into the water. She decides step one is to get the fishy into the pond … and then worry about coaxing it later.
The white bat takes the bag over to the edge of the pond … then struggles to try to untie the knot she so securely worked into the opening. "… rmph… " She mouths an "oh" and glances back to the fisherman, hoping she wasn't too noisy.
The brown-furred Khatta's ears perk up a bit, but his eyes stay closed. An almost-tufted ear swivels left… Then right.
Wynona gulps, then hurriedly works the knot free. At least with her time on airships, she knows her knots. Water gushes out, and she holds the bag low, trying to dump the fish into the pond without too loud of a splash.
The fish drops into the pond… Then whooshes immediately into the depths, disappearing from view. The bat-winged mallards set up a loud chorus of squack-calls and begin to float over to Wynona en masse.
Wynona mouths an "uh oh", and backs away from the pond edge, waving her wings and mouthing "shoo! shoo!" but daring not to say it out loud just yet.
"Squack! Squack!" The mallards give Wynona spiteful looks for not bringing bread to feed them, and raise an even louder chorus.
Wynona gulps and hastily flutter-runs off, trying to get out of the fisherman's line of sight before he wakes up!
Mallards swim to shore and… up onto it! Their feet are webbed with sharp-looking little clawtips, and ungainly on the ground, but nevertheless they seem intent on pestering Wynona until they get food. Haskalah, watching, wiggles her ears again and then begins to walk off to a nearby vendor.
Wynona eeps. "I don't have any! No fair! Ooo! You little MUGGERS! And somebody stole all my munchies, so even I don't get any right now… " She hurries away, looking for something to hide behind.
At length the mallards give up; they can't run as fast as a batbat on the ground after all. Having lost the trail, they mill about the park aimlessly, most heading back to the pond.
Wynona whews and then looks at the bag she's carrying. "Oh. I wonder what I'm going to do with this BAG now. Can't just throw it on the ground. And it smells like fish … Hmm. Maybe when the fisherman catches a fish, I can offer it to him to put the fish in… "
"Would you care for a sausage on a bun?" Haskalah says behind Wynona. "The bun is a little stale, so I'd suggest eating just the sausage." Her ears wiggle.
The white bat grins to Haskalah. "Why, thank you! Doesn't everybody just feed the bun to the little pests anyway?"
Haskalah gives Wynona a black-lipped smile. "Do as you like, dear."
"Squack!" The mallards at the pond seem to be getting excited over something.
Wynona sticks the sausage in her mouth, and holds the bun, intending to use it to appease the mallards. She jerks her head back toward the pond to see what's up, the tip of the sausage still sticking out of her mouth.
Something silvery flashes over the blue and green stones… The fish! The bat-winged mallards have taken notice of its piscean presence and are dipping their necks after it, trying to snap the thing up as it flickers and swivets wildly.
Haskalah munches on a sausage for herself and follows Wynona with curiosity.
Wynona RKS! She hurriedly chewchews the sausage, and frets over what to do. Those mallards are going to get her FISH! No!
Wynona grumbles. "Should have bought a snapper. Except I probably would end up missing a couple of fingers… "
The white bat gulps down the remainder of the sausage, covers her mouth for a moment, then coughs, and rushes over for a better view of what's going on. "Oh, pooh! Maybe if I could scare them away… "
Haskalah munches on her sausage unhurriedly.
"Squack!" "Squack?" "Squack squack!" Mallards gather, attempting to get in on the proceedings, some snapping at each other's downy feathers. There is a great deal of wing flapping, indeed, so much noise that it's a wonder that the Khatta fisher hasn't awakened.
Wynona resorts to her standard solution in moments like this try to make use of her magic. She begins murmuring a chant under her breath, keeping her eyes on the spectacle.
Power responds sluggishly to Wynona's call… But it is there. A little weaker than she's used to on airship voyages.
Wynona strains, her face looking like a pout that the magic won't do her bidding just on account of sheer desperation (and, she might add, a cute batbat doing the requesting), but she keeps at it, though having to go through the whole sequence for about four times as long as would otherwise be required.
A moment… And then the wind picks up, turning into a steady gust while Wynona chants. The pond developes a definite tide, and the mallards squack and flap their wings startledly, now trying to resist the wind with furious paddling. The fish flickers in the water undistractedly.
The white bat waves her arms and wings, a crumbling, stale bun still clutched in one hand, and continues chanting, slowly building up … then thrusting one hand forward as she finishes the basic incantation's fourth iteration. Oops! She ended up flinging the bun in the process. Oh well.
"Squack!" The mallards pounce on the bun as it lands on the water's surface, tearing at the floating bread. If there were any blood in it, it would be leaving a mile-long swathe fortunately the carnage is purely in the form of flying crumbs.
The fish sniffs at the tentacly thing…
Wynona's expression says "Oh pooh," fearing that she's just given the mallards a reason to STAY, rather than fly off.
The wind tousles Wynona's hair around her face just then, her concentration on control gone.
Wynona's eyes go wide. Definitely an "oops!" expression.
Haskalah's ears wiggle as she watches the bun being devoured. "An interesting approach to casting bread upon the water, Journeyman Windcaller," she says.
The fish nibbles the tentacly thing…
Wynona "lets go" of the spell to let it (hopefully) die out naturally on its own and the natural air currents to regain control. Best to try again rather than struggle to regain control.
The wind dies away to its usual quiet rustle, letting Wynona's hair down… In time for her to see that the wily fish has nibbled the tentacly thing off the hook, leaving it bare, and is now sneaking away into the depth of the pond.
Wynona has one thing to say about this. "OOOOOOOOOOOGH!"
The white batbat collapses to the ground. "I can't just stay here and keep driving the mallards away, until the fisherman gets it right. OOOGH! No fair, no fair, no fair… "
Haskalah wiggles her ears again. "Ah, the principle of willfulness of the animate at work," she comments.
Wynona crosses her arms. "Well, I'm animate, and I'm pretty willful, too. SOMEHOW, that fisherman is going to get a catch."
"Indeed," Haskalah says with a warm smile.
Wynona adopts a "Thinker" pose, the gears grinding in her head. Figuratively, of course.
Wynona throws out her hands, gesturing toward the fisherman. "Look! He hasn't even woken up yet! Wouldn't he feel a little tug or something? He'll wake up and it'll never even OCCUR to him, that there's one that got away. Grrrr."
The mallards, finding no fish and no bread left to devour, continue their quest around the pond in search of more food.
"Spoiled little fat squacks," Wynona pouts, looking at the mallards.
"That they are," Haskalah says with a smile from where she is sitting on the grass by the pond. She crumbles bits of her own bun and tosses them to the mallards one by one, leading them a merry chase.
Wynona hmms. "I wonder if he's ever really caught anything before, anywhere? I mean, would he even know what to do with a fish? Maybe if I got a cooked fish and, you know, sort of put it on the hook … Or maybe not a cooked one, but one that was sufficiently dead. Not the kind that would float, though. That'd be real bad."
"… but then, how could I tug on it and get away before he saw? And he certainly wouldn't get to struggle with it… Oh, pooh… " Wynona furrows her brow, deep in thought, doing her best to squeeze any ideas out of her bat-brain.
Wynona stands, and gulps. "I guess … uhm … he needs to re-bait his hook. Maybe I could just sneak up and … hmm. No, that wouldn't do. I don't know where he keeps his bait … and … I do not want to touch the stuff."
Haskalah wiggles her ears.
Wynona looks to Haskalah. "Do you think he'd get upset if I woke him up? Maybe if I think of a really good excuse, and say I thought there was a fish in the pond … Oh, but he'll never believe me!"
"Oh, I don't think he'll be upset," Haskalah says with a smile. "But you should get rid of that bag first."
Wynona eeps! "Oh! You're right. Uhm… " She looks around for a suitable place to dispose of it without violating any ordinances.
As a convenience for the park visitors, a single trash can has been provided at the entrance. Naturally, trash accumulates in most places but this can, and is moved there only when a few civic-minded Kavis think to do so.
Wynona flutters over to the trash can to dispose of the smelly bag, then tries to think of a plan of attack to approaching the snoozing fisherman.
The fisher snoozes peacefully. His rod sags toward the water, nearly touching.
Wynona heads over to the fisher, looking him and his supplies over. She tries to judge just how grossed-out she might be by the prospect of handling smelly bait.
Fortunately for Wynona's peace of mind, the bait is packed into a stoppered jug. She can only imagine how gross it'll be when she pulls the stop and grabs one of the twisty things.
Wynona has a very vivid imagination. She shudders, even her wings getting into the act. Nope, that's not a course of action to venture into lightly.
The brown Khatta stretches his legs, yawning to show off his yellowed teeth. Then nestles back, apparently asleep all the while.
Wynona whispers to herself, "Would have been easier just to invite him out to lunch, but I wouldn't want him to get any ideas… " She sniffles, the smell of the bait not agreeing with her nose, and leans over toward the fisherman. "Uhm … Mister Fisherman?"
"Eh?" His ears twitch, and then he creaks open a sleep-blurred eye and looks up at Wynona. "Ah, it's the purty batgirl from earlier. Did ye find your mage?"
Wynona giggles. "Oh! Yes! Yes, thank you very much. I appreciate your help. I found her in the Bazaar. Or she found me. Well, it was a bit more complicated than that, but … uhm … thank you again."
"But … ah … I don't mean to be nosy, but if you're meaning to catch some fish, don't you need some bait on your hook?" Wynona points a wing toward the floater and the hook bobbing underneath the surface of the pool.
"Yer welcome, bat lady," the fisher says. He looks toward the pond, then starts to pull the string in. The little bit of cork that serves as a floater splurches free of the surface, and then the hook that dangles a few feet beneath it. "Why, so I do! Must have fallen off."
His hand moves toward the bait jar, repository of a thousand stenches all disagreeable.
Wynona shuffles one foot along the grass, clasping her hands behind her and looking up toward the trees. "Well, you never know. You're going fishing, right? Maybe it got nibbled o ahh AHHHH" She holds her finger to her nose. "NGH!"
"Could be, could be," the fisher agrees pleasantly. He pops the stopper off the jar, releasing an almost visible cloud of bad smell, then takes out a tentacly bit and closes the jar again.
Wynona dashes behind the tree, and then engages in a convulsive fit of rapid-fire sneezes! "WACHOO!WACHOO!WACHOO!(ugh!)WACHOO!WACHOO!"
The fisher puts the bait on the hook, then casts the floater out to the water and lets it sink. The mallards shrink away almost visibly from the awful-smelling (and tasting, to birds?) bait…
"Bit of a sneeze, that, girl," the fisher says. "You ought to see my cousin, Old Benjamin, in his 'pothecary, maybe he can prescribe something for that nose of yours."
Wynona sniffles, eyes watering. "Ogh. I'b deen ebybody. I dink I dust deed fesh aih."
The fisher gestures around. "Plenty of that, bat lady." He settles in comfortably and watches light play on the water.
A bit of silver flashes near the hook…
Wynona staggers off, waving her wings to try to drive away that wretched stink. "Oohhhh. Dot adymore!"
Blowing it around seems to help, indeed. Haskalah wiggles her ears, and then walks over to keep the fisher and Wynona company. "A nice day to fish," she says.
Wynona honks loudly on a handkerchief (she has an ample supply) and wrinkles her nose, waiting for her eyes to clear before she tries to add anything to the conversation.
The conversation is abruptly interrupted as a tremble runs up the rod. "Aha!" The fisher pulls on the rod, and then his ears go *sproing* as he feels resistance. "Got something! Better not be another Kavi kid." He grins.
Wynona gasps, "Oh. It'd be wonderful to have a nose that wouldn't work quite so hard. And for my ears not to be stopped up all the time… though they DO seem to be getting a little better… " She wipes at her eyes with a hand, not yet noticing the disturbance.
The fisher pulls on the rod. It bends… Creaks… A crack starts to form halfway through.
Wynona blinks a few times, then grins widely, watching the fisherman struggle … and then gasps at the rod. What to do? Oh no!
"Should have gotten a new rod," the fisher yelps as he clasps his hand around the break. "Ain't made one in three years. Give me a hand, kid!"
"Make a wind blow back? But I'd blow right in his face," she murmurs. "Oh dear!" She rushes forward. "How can I help?" She fumbles about, trying to find a good place to hold onto the rod.
With two furs pulling, the fish puts up a valiant struggle… but pops free of the water at last. *Whoosh!* *splat!* It lands right onto Haskalah's lap, then flies about in the air, dangling from the floater where the fisher has caught the string up. "Yee-hah!"
Haskalah goes, "Eep!"
Wynona goes, "Eep!"
Wynona tries to catch the fish, her wings fluttering about behind her. "Oh! Hold STILL! Oh, pooh!"
The Khatta looks at the fish with a slightly confused look. "Could have sworn the fish weren't biting today," he muses, looking at the bucking length of silver scales and diaphanous fins. "Nice big one too. Fresh." He grins toothily. "Want dinner with an old Khatta tonight, kid? You helped catch it."
Wynona tries to shake some of the splatter out of her drapes. "Oooo! I'm wet. And smelly, too. *sniff*" She looks to Haskalah. "Oh dear!"
Haskalah looks more amused than affronted, as she bats at her dress. "It will clean out, I'm sure," she says, standing and then smiling to the bat and her fellow old Khatta. "I'd accept, Wynona; Old Felamin is an excellent cook."
Wynona giggles, then curtseys to the fisherman. "It'd be a pleasure!"
Felamin beams. "Not that you'd ever admit it to my face, Haskalah," he teases. "Come on, let's go home and I'll cook. Butter-broiled, with slivers of almonds, and wild rice on the side, is that to your tastes, bat girl? Or would you like yours fried?"
Behind the departing Khattas and the Eeee, meanwhile, a number of Kavis have taken up shop, casting their own rods and strings into the pond…
Wynona licks her lips. The former option sounds SO much more poetic. "The former will be just fine," she squeaks happily…
"Bait! Buy your extra fresh bait here!" an enterprising Kavi yells.
Haskalah looks over her shoulder at the troubled pond scene, and then over to Wynona with a raised eyebrow. Then wiggles her ears again. "Yes. A very nice day to fish."