The Shiny Shoppe
Perhaps none but a Vartan could fully appreciate this sizeable store dominating a block in the Scholar's Quarter of Rephidim City … but with all the dazzling, shiny curios, it's enough of an attraction that not only winged clientele are found here. Crystal chimes dangle here and there, and shelves on both floors and several platforms in between sport all manner of shiny oddities … whole or broken. The windows are a mismatched collage of stained glass, polished horn, glass mosaic, and other designs that entice the eye and cast odd lights about the interior. Just to one side of the main entrance is a sectioned-off "Play Area" for children of customers, and quite often a couple of spotted cubs can be seen making use of the collection of cheap baubles in a "treasure chest" in one corner of the area.
A weary Vartan with a rather large pack that leaks dust now and again steps up to the closed door. He reaches out and touches the wood, smiling wistfully and then turns to his companions. He raises a finger to his beak in a 'shush' gesture and winks, backing away from the door.
A Korv alongside the tall black Vartan stands to the side, his movements causing a faint jingling from the sabers on his hips. His head cocks to one side.
The Vartan adopts a stern demeanor and braces a hoofed foot against the door. He noisily kicks it open and bursts through, scrawking at the top of his lungs, "Alright everyone! Stop you slacking and gets back to work!" His scowl melts into a big beaky grin.
Inside, a couple of crashing noises can be heard, as something (hopefully not very expensive) is dropped to the ground by startled employees and customers. Off to one side, in the play area, a little spotted boy cub is circling a pile of glass and ceramic bits spread out in what might be a mosaic pattern … if only it had a pattern to it. He jerks his head up at the sound of the Vartan … and it takes a split second, but his eyes alight, and he lets out a high-pitched SHRIEK as he barrels toward the black hippogryph!
The Korv pokes his head around the door to look inside, then slips to the side to stay out of the way, the corners of his beak quirked upward slightly at the unfolding scene in the shop.
*padpadpadpadpadpadpad* The little cub charges toward the doorway, squealing the whole way.
Zoltan drops to his knees and scoops the cub up in his arms, hugging him as tightly as he possibly can without hurting the cub. He buries his face in the cub's yellow fur and sniffles a little. "Enos, I missed you sooooo much!"
Enos shrieks some more, then stops, looking Zoltan in the eyes. He starts babbling very conversationally, except that not one word he utters makes a lick of sense. Perhaps he's trying to relate all of the events that have happened in the intervening time.
"Heh, heh… 'ow long's it been, then?" rasps the gaudily dressed avian near Zoltan. "Ye never told me 'ow long ye'd been driftin' 'round Abaddon when we first met."
A door pops open where the old alleyway access used to be, and in comes a female Savanite in dirt-stained work-clothes, and a leather headband binding back her hair. Another spotted cub squeezes past her legs, popping past the doorway. She takes one look at the black Vartan, then squeals, "PAPA!" and imitates Enos' dash.
A second black Vartan steps into the Shoppe, standing behind and to one side of Zoltan. He scans the place, then gives Enos a wary glance, as he furrows one brow.
Zoltan nods his head enthusiastically at the cub. Sure, he can't understand it, but the words are still the most beautiful words in the world to him. "Too long, Kensington. Much to much too long." He gives the cub another hug, blinks at the sight of the Savanite, and nearly lets himself get bowled over by the second cub. "Pouncer! My little star! I miss you too!" She gets a treatment similar to Enos.
Kensington claps his beak twice, and chortles to himself. Rather than interrupt the reunion, he un-shoulders his duffel near a table, and leans up against a doorjamb to watch and grin.
Puling himself back up to his feet, Zoltan balances a cub in each arm. He nervously turns to the other Vartan at his side. "Pouncer, Enos… this is you grandfather. He one I tells you abouts."
Pouncer has quite a few smudges of dirt on her work-clothes as well, and she has a headband, too, making her look almost like a more compact version of the female Savanite. She and Enos look up to the other, older Vartan, with a mixture of disbelief and awe. Enos breaks the silence by shrieking again, and LEAPING from Zoltan, at Herbir!
The older Vartan's eyes go wide in surprise, but he's too slow to avoid the little cub's assault. For a moment, there's a flash of something in his eyes, and his arms jerk as if to perform some ingrained reflex … but he swallows it down, and slowly brings his arms around to hold the cub clinging to him. "Enos," he croaks.
A male Savanite and a female bat make their way into the Shoppe, standing to one side of the entrance, not stepping into the "spotlight", so to speak.
Zoltan's smile drops a bit and he nervously rubs his tongue across the underside of his beak. "Say… say hello to you grandfather Herbir, Enos." His hand pets Pouncer's head.
One of the creases next to Kensington's beak rises enough to become a smirk, but laughing eyes betray a better kind of sentiment at the sight of Herbir's reaction.
Herbir looks at Zoltan, then at Pouncer, and then makes a clumsy, mimicking gesture of patting Enos' head. Then, he gets more into it, ruffling up the cub's head-fur, despite some giggling sounds of protest from the little jaguar.
Enos squeal-scrawks, "Pa-PAPA!"
The grinning Korv, meanwhile, slips farther into the shop, making a polite pretense of looking over some merchandise.
The younger Vartan's smile returns. He grasps Herbir's shoulder and holds his daughter up. "Pouncer, you wants to say hello too?"
Pouncer shrieks, "GRAMPAPA!" She doesn't perform the heroic leap over to the older Vartan, though. That could well cause a catastrophe in such close quarters (as she's learned from experience).
The female cheetah walks up to Zoltan, smiling broadly. She bows to the Vartan, and signs, "It is good to see you in good health. A very good friend of yours feared the worst."
Zoltan grins at Pouncer and gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. "You have NO idea… " he manages to sign with his free hand. "Tell you more later."
Pouncer starts babbling all about all the projects she's done with the Temple Scouts, the field trips she's taken, something about a big chocolate heist that an evil bat made in the Bazaar, something about a crazy Babelite ambassador bulldozing the Old Cemetery, and about a play that's going to be thrown for Unity Day … and several other things going by too quickly to keep up with.
The Vartan relocates the cub in his arms to his shoulders, he turns to address his employees. "Someone get some coppers from cash-box. We're goings to have celebration!" He starts pointing at some of the workers he recognizes, "You… go to Bromthen Heaven and get us some hogs… make sure they cooked and get some other things to eats as well. You, go to Little Babel and gets some noisemakers. You, go gets some drinks… includings stuff cubs can drink." He squeezes Pouncer's feet and laughs.
Enos drags Herbir over to the play area, and starts pointing at the roughly disc-shaped arrangement of … well … junk that he has arranged on the floor. He babbles incoherently but excitedly, and Herbir looks as if he's quite frustrated trying to keep up with it … but at last he just smiles and nods as if he understands perfectly, and pats Enos' head on occasion.
Pouncer, meanwhile, jabbers, "And there were alla these choco batbats inna Clock Tower, and this big busted thingawhazza and, and, and, then, RURP! They went all googly eyed and made funny noises! And, and, and … that's the vermites … You know what a vermite is? I GOT ONE!"
Pouncer continues, "And, and, and … Star! She's back! She … FLOWERS!" Pouncer shows up her dirt-smudged paws. "I can, too!"
"Where… on the roof? In the alley?" Zoltan grins at the Savanite. "They'll be the most beautiful flowers on Sinai, and I'm sure you'll do a good job at keeping the bugs from eating them."
Moon-Brow signs, "Since the adjoining buildings were purchased to expand the Shiny Shoppe, the old alley became 'land-locked'. Nicodemus and Red let me utilize it as a garden. I had a notion to decorate the alleys and the roof to make a display that only fliers could appreciate properly."
"Thank you. Thank you greatly," Zoltan signs. "And thank you for coming; I hope you stay long enough to enjoy party?"
Moon-Brow's eyes twinkle, as she signs, "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Zoltan bounces Pouncer and glances back at his Father. "Is Nicodemus anywhere? I… I woulds like very much to introduce him to my father."
Pouncer squeals, "Niccyniccy … up there!" She points upward. There's no sign of a Cervani-Vartan overhead, though.
The Vartan's ears drop sharply as does the smile on his face. He looks at Moon-Brow.
Moon-Brow looks questioningly at Zoltan, and then her ears flush. She waves her hands and shakes her head vigorously, then puts a smile on her face. She flashes the sign for "Roof" at Zoltan.
Kensington comes jingling back to the main room, tilting his head from the left, then to the right in avian fashion. "Looks like th' riot's settled down a bit."
A male Savanite near the doorway shifts his cowl, peering curiously at Moon-Brow. Before she can glance back at him, though, he lowers his gaze again, shifting his cowl back into place.
The Vartan lets his breath out explosively. "It come back up soon enough, but this riot feeds you good." He whistles at Enos. "Cambio, Kensington, everyone… let's go up to roof and waits for food and party stuffs."
"Heh, sounds agreeable 'nuff t'me. 'Aven't eaten nothin' but 'ard rations fer weeks, an' right now, e'en fresh squibbit sounds good." The corsair sniggers to himself, and falls into step to head roofwards.
Zoltan ducks a bit so as not to bump Pouncer's head on the stairwell and heads upwards. "Just mind you language while you here… "
On the rooftop can be found the beginnings of what must be Moon-Brow's project. There are many walkways, and, here and there, tables and perches, and several flowerbeds. As of yet, none of them are yet graced with flowers.
The overall layout of the rooftop remotely resembles a four-petaled flower … albeit a squared-off one, each "petal" consisting of one of the four main buildings on this block that have collectively become the new Shiny Shoppe, merging in the center. The dead-ended "alleyways", bridged over in various spots, can be seen to contain several empty crates … and further evidence of Moon-Brow's gardening attempts.
On the roof over the location of the ORIGINAL Shiny Shoppe can be seen a reclining Cervani-Vartan. He has a shiny glass mug to one side, filled with some sort of sparkling juice, and he has some dark chitin eye-covers on his face, shielding him from the sunlight. He looks fairly relaxed, basking in the warm glow of the sun. He sighs contently.
( This is going to be absolutely beautiful! ) The Vartan just ogles at everything, rather stunned at the changes made in his absence. Eventually he remembers why he came up here in as he spies the Cervani-Vartan. "Master! Master Nicodemus!"
Kensington nudges Zoltan with his 'elbow'. "O's that thur, then? *Rawk* There's so many folks millin' an' jumping about, me 'ead's about ta spin right off watchin' em all. Prob'ly Born-in-Shame too."
Nicodemus grins widely, then props himself up on an elbow. He removes the chitin covers, setting them aside, then scrawks, "Sorry I didn't come down to greet you. I could hear the commotion all the way up here! But I figured you'd be up here eventually."
Nicodemus' gaze drifts to a point just behind Zoltan a point which Herbir currently occupies, along with Enos. "Aha. My apologies that I don't get up … My legs have been giving me grief today. Weather, you know. What little there is in Rephidim still gives me the aches from time to time. Ah, enough of that. Anyway, I'm very glad to meet … bah! You're supposed to introduce me first, Zoltan!"
Zoltan laughs and carefully lowers Pouncer from his shoulders. "This is Master Nicodemus, he co-owns the Shiny Shoppe with me." The Vartan gestures to his Companions. "This is Kensington, I met him in Himar and… " he swallows, "this is Cambio Herbir."
Herbir and Nicodemus both nod at the same time.
"Glad to meet you," Nicodemus says first, finishing his earlier statement.
The corsair taps the bridge of his beak agreeably. "Ahoy there."
Zoltan looks over his shoulder at his father. "This is the man I told you about. I ended up on his porch after the Guntergang was finished with me and he put me to work after patching me up."
Herbir nods his head. "Quite an accomplishment."
The younger Vartan coughs and looks around at the flowerpots. "I'm putting together a party downstairs. Hope it won't disturb you too much? I'll make sure someone brings you a nice piece of Bromthen if you'd like." Zoltan grins and looks sidelong at the Korv. "I'm happy to be home."
"A party? It's about TIME!" scrawks Nicodemus. "I'd say now's as good a time as any for a proper bash!"
Kensington caws, "Hah! Now yer talkin', gramps. Yer spry fer an old guy. I was worried Zoltan's bunch mights be as tense as 'e was alla time, heh, heh!"
Nicodemus smirks. "Well … Let's just say I'm in higher spirits than usual. Welcome home, Zoltan."
Zoltan folds his arms in a mock 'harumph' gesture. He grins at Nicodemus, "For a moment I thought you were in higher spirits than that when Pouncer said you were 'up there'."
Nicodemus chuckles drily. "Not just yet, Zoltan. Not just yet."
A red-feathered-Vartan head pokes up from the stairwell leading back to the main room. "Do you want us to set up on the roof, or inside?" Red scrawks.
The corsair rubs the bottom of his beak thoughtfully. "I should 'elps out… mebbe I kin gets some kegs from Jakka… "
"Up here will do as long as people don't knock over any flowerpots." Zoltan looks back at Herbir, "I bet I can eat more than you can!"
Zoltan nods his head and grins at Kensington, "And some shiny cups if she'll loan them to us! Stars… invite her down as well if you can!"
Herbir grins. "More than I can? You're dooming yourself to a sore belly, if you try to outdo ME."
"Aye, will do!" The Korv clacks his beak, grinning. "I owes 'er fer that whole yiffle-stampede brawl alls those weeks past."
"You've been eating too many bugs! We'll see how you do against some real food then." Zoltan grins at his father and starts brushing off some of the tables.