It's been an eventful past few days for the ladies three. Some independent intelligence gathering has yielded some information and hinted at some paths. Gibson has been scarce, but not out of touch… it seems he's been working on retrieving the steel-bound tome and Anisa's pendant from the Museum's labyrinthine network. Evening finds them gathered again at the gym, the place closed down for the night, only Naomi still around busying herself with tidying up.
"So, you see, he's in Darkside. And, he's probably crazy," Lilac explains as she paces back and forth across the floor. "You don't have to go, you know? I could go, I'm used to rough areas."
Dressed back in her common clothing (with the gash in the back roughly sewn shut), Kin settles down onto one of the exercise mats. And as usual, the reptile is armed with her two swords. But this time she's also carrying to two chitin boned fans as well. "I do not fear a 'rough' area," the Kiriga notes, "it should fear me."
"But you also don't know the area very well," answers Anisa, sitting on the edge of the sparring ring with her legs dangling. "And like I said, its not the type of place you want to be alone in after dark. It'll be better if we all go."
"Very true. I was going to do it my way, which usually involves me hiding a lot," Lilac explains. She pauses in front of a rack of jump ropes, bending over to peer at them. "I think being subtle is our best bet, at least. I really don't think Darkside will fear you, Kinny, and definitely not the rest of us. Guards are afraid of Darkside."
"Then you have people who are unworthy of the title of guard. To die in service is honorable; therefore dangerous areas should hold no fear, only honor," Kin notes as her snakelike tail curls lightly around her legs. "But, if you prefer to be subtle, I will not argue."
Anisa idly plays with an ear tip, shrugging at the reptile. "The people in Darkside are anything but honorable. Thieves and crime bosses mostly."
"Would either of you wish to carry the Floating Blossom? Its beauty and grace are unmatched," the Kiriga asks. She looks between the two for a moment, then directly at Anisa. "Well, would you like to? I forget that Lilac is not skilled with weapons."
"And worse, I've heard. Slavers, press gangs, rapists … " Lilac shakes her head before snatching up a jump rope. "At least it's not the old city. The Darkside might be bad, but the old city is said to be desperately bad, the place people who can't stay in Darkside go. Anyway," she uncoils the rope and places the extended strand behind her feet, "safety in numbers; I like that. And, you know, it'd be good to have someone with me if my dark side comes out."
Lilac opens her mouth to respond, then makes a 'hrmp' sound and begins skipping. "She says it like I'd cut my own head off, or something."
"I am more concerned you would cut my head off," Kin says dryly.
"And while I know you wish to get ahead in the world, I would prefer if it wasn't mine," the Kiriga adds after a bit of thought.
"Another joke! Could it be!" Lilac stops her jumping to make an exaggerated amazed motion, holding her hands to the heavens as if to ask the gods, "Why?"
Anisa hops down from the ring, and begins to walk into her office. "No thanks. I'm not much for swords either. Besides, I'll be taking this with me." Ducking inside the cluttered room, a few rummaging noises can be heard, followed by the Lapi reemerging with her Skedat Whip. "A little more fuss, but not as much muss, if you catch my drift." She nods to Lilac. "All sorts of baddies are there, so none of us should go alone."
"As you wish," Kin says with a small nod to the Lapi. "If you are ever inclined to learn to wield a sword, I would gladly teach you." Folding her hands in her lap, she asks, "How 'open' is the area? I would prefer if we move in places where our backs and above us is exposed as little as possible. I do not wish to die at the end of an arrow."
"Well, it looks pretty narrow the kind of place where people build where they can, you know?" Resuming her skipping, Lilac switches feet back and forth between hops. "And, well, I need to find someone who can find the man we're looking for. Or, I suppose, something that belongs to him. If I only knew what he smelled like, I could maybe find him."
"I've never actually been there, myself," Anisa says, strapping the shell onto her wrist and pulling it tight. "Most people avoid it if necessary especially women. From what I've heard, its more or less like the rest of the city, just a bit more run down and chaotic." The rabbit pauses, and stares at Lilac. "You mean… you don't know where this guy is? Dagh, we can't just go into Darkside blindly, you know. Unless we want to get gacked!"
"Would it not be simplest, then, to visit the drinking establishments and request information as to the location of the person? Surely someone will be reasonable if properly motivated," Kin suggests.
"I guess it's different for you," Lilac muses, glancing at Anisa. "I mean, I'm used to stumbling around in the dark trying to find something, and that usually by my nose. But, I'm not totally blind here." The woman lets the rope rotate once more, then catches it. She then hunkers down and straightens her ears. "He's called 'the whippet.' Renee DuBlanc. A Gallisian."
Anisa swivels her ears out in curiosity. "A Gallisian? That's kind of rare for Darkside. But then again, I guess it takes all types. Still," she hops back onto the ringside, fiddling with her weapon, "that's just a name. Do we have any more to go on besides that? I'm all for bar hoppin', but doing it in Darkside isn't my idea of a fun time."
"We have a name, nickname, and species, that should be enough," Kin says with a curt nod and gets back to her feet. She smooths out her robe with a swipe from her tail, then says, "And the sooner we look, the earlier we get back. I would assume the place gets worse the later it gets?"
The rabbit nods to Kin. "Good point. We can talk more about this one the way there." She hops down from the ring, and walks to a small closet in the side of the room, pulling out a long sleeved jacket.
Lilac replaces the jump rope on the rack, then nods to the two others. "I'm ready when you are," she replies.
Kin tilts her head for a moment, then asks, "I have a question regarding the laws of these lands. Am I allowed to kill in self defense? I wish to know the level of force I can apply."
"Ummm, I hope we don't have to kill anyone," Lilac answers, sounding uncertain. "I mean, I've never really thought about it before. It's not something I do, you know? Or, well, maybe I do, and maybe I should." The woman shivers. "Now there's a scary thought."
Anisa pulls on the jacket, making sure the sleeves hide her chitinous weapon. "Well, yes… kinda. Even if its in self-defense, if the Templars arrest you, you could get lost in the bureaucracy for years. Plus you're a foreigner, so that doesn't count in your favor." The rabbit closes her office door, locks it, then starts towards the front door. "Then again, its Darkside, so there probably won't be much in the way of Temple patrols. Still, it's probably best if you try to hide your swords as best you can."
"Then … are there any large coats that would fit me I could borrow?" Kin inquires, "It is hard to conceal a long blade."
"Oh! That reminds me, can you get me a jacket or something, too? Um, you know just in case. I do NOT want to wake up naked in /Darkside," Lilac insists, ears back.
Anisa pauses at the door, then heads back inside. "Lemme rummage through the coat racks and see what I can find… "
"I would prefer that you do not end up naked at all," Kin says dryly. "It is difficult to explain; unless perhaps you wish to claim you a specialized nude performing artist or an artist's model."
The trip into Darkside takes the trio surprisingly close to Snowshoe's, and past it. Still, it's quite evident where the patrols end and lawlessness begins. It's still Rephidim's urban styling, but the the streets become tighter, and begin to wind and twist, as if contorting in pain. Buildings huddle against each other with small gaps for alleys and rain runoff, and it's evident many have been rebuilt over old foundations several times, more ramshackle each time, some leaning precariously or looming over the street. The roads have numerous cobblestones missing, and carts unfortunate enough to break a wheel or axel here are picked clean soon after. Vermites are a common sight, of surprising size, and most everything here is stained with a what looks like a layer of soot… a grim reminder of the day Darkside burned.
For a place of such destitution and despair, Darkside seems… populated. 'Busy' isn't really an appropriate word, but where one would think such a place would be deserted, it teems with people that have fallen through society's fingers. Beggars, addicts, lunatics, and other forgotten souls linger around, sometimes victims, but mostly ignored by the more predatory looking people that lurk here. Tough sorts roam at will with weapons worn openly, while others slink about much as Lilac has the group do. The human woman seems capable of moving them all along at a pace and with a posture that doesn't draw attention to the three. They're all dressed shabbily enough to fit in, with Kin wearing one of Naomi's old overcoats that she used to keep blood off her clothes.
"You can almost hear the land weep and the pained cries of the lost souls. Sorrow, a palpable taste upon the fouled air," Kin comments quietly as the reptile slinks along with the group. She has the coat pulled closed and it for the most part does conceal her swords.
Lilac makes a vague gesture towards the center of the street as she walks along. "Traveling with Lilac is never boring," she insists, right before stepping over some vomit. "Ugh, I think my nose is going to weep."
"Or something," adds Anisa, her ears darting nervously this way and that as she follows behind the human. She rubs at the sleeve of her green jacket, over the area that conceals her skedat whip. "Where should we start? Did Tinsnip give you any info on what part of Darkside this guy is in?"
"Not a word. he actually didn't want me to go said it'd be too dangerous for a delicate flower like myself," the human answers. "I guess we start where information gathers, and that's where people gather. Kinny's right: a bar would be a good choice. Let me know if you spot one, and I'll keep my noise peeled."
"Finding a bar should prove a simple task; follow the trails of vomit," Kin points out. The Kiriga too keeps her eyes open and is constantly looking around, taking in the people and what species reside here.
Anisa own nose twitches furiously, both at the cacophony of odors wafting through the air, and also indicating her nervousness. She strains her ears, listening for the familiar bar sounds clinking mugs, raucous crowds, and the like. "I think vomit may be a naturally occurring resource here, bar or no."
With a glance to the Lapi, Kin says, "Are you nervous? I find it difficult to tell with other species. If you are, simply find your center and it will melt away."
"Do you know, I've actually played at dives like the ones that'd be around here? I thought being a bard would be glorious, but it's a lot harder than it looks. Not that my life isn't glorious." Lilac looks back at the two, and winks, tail wagging, "It just takes a little work."
Species are varied, though there seem to be a good many of the bigger built sort around. Kavi are quite common, rag pickers mostly, but a few roving packs seem to have the numbers needed to defend themselves. Further up ahead, there's a dim glow of lantern light, wan yellow against the black outlines and deepening blue of the evening sky. A battered swinging sign hangs over the entrance. A man lurches out into the street from the door, puts his hands on his knees, and pukes noisily into the gutter.
"I'm just on my guard, that's all," Anisa says to the reptile. "And I don't want anything to melt away, get too relaxed, and that's when they get you. Aha, I think we hit pay dirt." The rabbit points to the man tossing his biscuits.
"Being centered is not the same as being relaxed. You must become one with the world around you; then all things will become known to you and no foe can stand in your path and fear will have no power over you," Kin recites. Her head swivels towards the man, then the nearby door. "And I believe you may be right," she adds.
"I just punch people standing in my path, gravity takes care of the rest," Anisa says, popping her knuckles for emphasis. "Well, shall we?"
"Here we, well I, go again. Want me to go in first?" Pausing, Lilac glances over her shoulder for confirmation. "And, well, don't accept any drinks."
"If you wish. I can go first," Kin offers.
There's a crash from inside, and a cheer.
Anisa's ears swivel forward at the crash. "The door looks wide enough, so we'll go in at the same time. Sounds like the fun is starting without us."
"On second thought, I can't always have the stage," the human woman says, head tilting. She steps aside waits for the others to join her, rather than going first.
With a bow of her head, Kin starts forward along with Lilac to enter the bar. "Into the very gates of hell we must walk, let no fear grip you," she says.
"Does she always say stuff like that?" Anisa whispers to Lilac, walking along to the bar.
A glance at the weatherbeaten sign gives the trio a name for this place: The Missing Shekel
"And I thought I was the dramatic one," quips Lilac as she walks inside. For added flair, she flicks her cloak back over a shoulder. In a quieter voice, she replies to Anisa, "All the time."
The weather-beaten sign on the door proudly proclaims the name of this run-down 'establishment', showing what is probably meant to be a gold shekel, but which presently looks more like it was copper or maybe wooden. Inside, the place looks as if it could collapse at any moment. The lighting is insufficient, all windows boarded over. Curtained booths provide some privacy for shady deals, but there are just as many done in plain view. So blatant (and chaotic) are the operations here that there are stacks of crates of stolen booty piled almost up to the ceiling some left unclaimed and pried open by curious patrons who help themselves unless stopped by a dagger in the back. Numerous artifacts hang on the walls, along with materials for the losing battle by the proprietor to keep up with damage caused by the latest brawls. Bodies of the latest victims of the bar's notoriously high death toll get stacked just outside the back door.
Inside, some space near the middle has been cleared away, though probably not on purpose. A makeshift table made from a barrel and some planks lays on its side, and a tall (is there any other kind) Rhian tosses the remains of a chair aside, the rest of the splintered wood apparently having been broken over the head of an Eeee now lying face down on the floor. The horse nudges the bat with one hoof, then wanders back to the bar, while a Kavi scurries out to begin dragging the Eeee away."
"Charming place," Kin observes with an emotionless tone. Her eyes flick to the fallen Eeee, then around the room. Her current interest is who may be looking at them; her secondary interest is for any gallee that may be present. And as a safety measure, her hands disappear into her jacket as they close around her swords, just in case.
"Remember, don't look anyone in the eyes. Don't ask questions you don't have to, don't act afraid. Mind your own business, and remember to duck," Lilac instructs. She casts a quick glance around the room, then sniffs. "I wonder how many times I survived places like this, because of a … dark side."
Once inside the bar, Anisa's nose slows down considerably, her bristling fur beginning to settle down. "Ah, there much better now that we're not out in the open." Looking much more confident than before, the rabbit walks to the bar, and begins to pull out some stools for the trio. "Don't worry, this is more my cup of mateh. Heh, even brings back some old memories."
The rest of the patrons seem to have since lost interest, going back to their dealings or simply their drinks. The barkeep, a very wide-looking Khatta, stands at the bar, not bothering to wipe any of the glasses in a row on the pitted bar's surface. Stained kegs line up behind him, and the Khatta tilts his head slightly to eye Anisa. "What'll it be?" he asks.
Satisfied that those gathered are not currently examining the group, Kin settles herself down onto one of the stools. Her head twists back around to face the barkeep, gold eyes narrowing a bit.
Anisa hops up onto the stool, her legs dangling like a child's. "One mug of beer for me, and a shot of Old Vermite for good measure." She looks to the others. "Anything for you two?"
Lilac joins the others at the bar, hoping on to a stool and grimacing as it creak ominously. Looking down, she blinks at a leg held together with what might be leather straps haphazardly nailed on. "Oh, um," the woman looks up, eyes the glasses, and then shrugs, "I'm just here for business."
"Would you have tears distilled from the rice of calm, perhaps?" Kin inquires of the barkeep. "The extent to which the rice was polished is not of concern to me."
"The business matters here's Camden's business," says the barkeep, narrowing his eyes at Lilac. "Y'buy or y'get out." He gives Kin a strange look, but just says, "Rice wine. Right." He retrieves a dirty mug and fills it from a keg without looking at it, keeping his eye on the barroom the whole time. Setting the beer on the bar, he reaches below the counter… and comes up with a crossbow. The Skreek that had been preparing to open a crate hastily stops, and Camden's crossbow goes back under the bar, a heavy fist coming up with a small black bottle with something insectish/rattish on the label. The drop of it he puts in Anisa's glass curls and distends, but disturbingly does not actually seem to dissolve.
"Hm, I suppose that would be what it is called in these lands," Kin says with a curt nod of her head.
"I stopped drinking when I suspected I was having far too much," Lilac confides in whisper to her compatriots. She then flashes a smile at the bartender, and pats the bar top. "Well, of course then. I'll have what my friend, here, is having. I'd offer to play, but, well, it looks like your have enough entertainment around here," she tells the man.
"She'll have a half-pint of ale," Anisa says, motioning to Lilac. Taking the mug, she swirls it with her finger slightly, then takes a big swig. Giving a smack of satisfaction, she nods to the barkeep, then turns on her stool to look out at the bar. "So," she says in a low voice, "who looks like a good place to start?"
Kin gets a clay bottle. That's all it really is, just a clay bottle full of strong-smelling stuff. No saucer. Another mug gets thumped down in front of Lilac, the contents slopping over the side. "Six shekels, and three bits."
Kin reaches into her jacket and sets 2 shekels and a bit on the counter for her drink. Then with both hands she lifts up the clay jar and takes a sniff from it. The reptiles muzzle skews slightly from the strength of the liquid, but she takes a small drink anyway. Her expression is … well, let's just say she's tasted better. Her attention returns to the room and she looks for gallee or similar.
"I guess it's safe to drink now, I mean, I know why I black out now." Lilac eyes the drink in front of her then shrugs, reaching to take a sip. "In fact, I think that warrants drinking." She takes another sip, then sighs. "Well, that mystery is solved. At least I can drink again. Woo-hooooooo." The woman caries the "ooo" as she twists around on her seat, surveying the room for a likely mark to question.
Swiveling back to the bar, Anisa digs in her pants pocket, and pulls out a ten shekel pieces. Adding it to Kin's cash on the counter, she pushes it towards the barkeep. "Keep the change." Lifting the mug off of the counter, she takes another deep gulp. "Whew! That's good stuff. What year was the Vermite, 6101?"
There's some Jupani throwing dice in the corner, but they're about as close to Gallah as the bar currently has. The rest of the customers are slouched over their mugs, some talking in low voices, though occasionally a voice gets raised. For the time being, everyone settles back down without any more cheap furniture being smashed. A Rath'ani is picking at a lock on a small chest while a shiga looks on impatiently. Some fellows dressed like airmen smoke up a storm around a circular table while they play cards.
Camden snatches up the tenner, glancing at it for a moment before pocketting it with a nod of approval. "Juiced a year earlier," he says, with a gruff tone that sounds about as amiable as he's likely to get. "I get the good stuff."
Unlike the others, Lilac doesn't pull out any money. In fact, she seems quite intent on not seeming to notice the money being put down. She stares straight ahead, ears perked, as she looks around. "I think we need a regular, but not someone who'd be afraid to break neutrality … Someone who needs money, though. Hmmm." She continues to scan the room.
To the Barkeep, Kin asks, "Have you seen a gallee called 'The Whippet' recently? We're trying to find him. The bard, Lilac, wishes to hear about his travels. She desires to weave epic new ballads."
Keeping one ear focused on Camden, and the other towards the common area, Anisa downs the rest of her drink, plopping the mug back onto the counter. "Good stuff is right. This is hard to come by. Fill 'er back up" She palms another tenner, and places it on the bar, keeping her palm over it to ward off prying eyes. "Ever heard of the guy?"
Camden takes up the second tenner, and it disappears as quickly as the first. "Not gonna get anything epic out of that guy," he says, lowering his voice. "Looney. Wanders around. Must be cagey though, hasn't turned up in the gutter yet. Must run pretty fast." He draws another sickly yellowish mug, and another black drop of ooze stretches out languidly in it.
"Hard to tell what she would find epic; she's a bit unusual," the Kiriga notes and motions towards Lilac's ears. "Does he come in here with any frequency or do you know of anyone here now who might help us find him?"
Anisa leans forward on the bar as her mug is refilled, elbows propping her up as she takes the mug, finger swirling as before. "He's looney? How so?" The Lapi takes another hard swig from the mug, setting it back down a bit harder than before. Oddly, her ears look slightly redder, and her expression looks more relaxed much more relaxed.
"I can hear you, you know," Lilac tells Kin as she looks back. "As it turns out, he's been places. Lots of places. I want to know about his travels." She leans back towards the barman, twirling a finger against the side of her head. "Crazy places, but you know hot the crowd likes a good tragedy."
The Khatta gives Lilac's ears a brief curious look before his face goes impassive again. "Don't got no money, the Whippet. Seen him pick over the chumps in the alley, picks up a coin or two we missed I guess. Real skittish, that one, like there's something after him all the time, but comes out when he's hungry enough. Guess that keeps him alive." He pauses to think. "Don't like Korvs much." He shrugs as if that's looney enough.
To the other two women, Kin suggests, "Perhaps we should search the alleyways then."
"Yeah, that won't take about a million years or anything," Anisa says to Kin with an exaggerated eye roll. She takes another gulp of beer, then leans back heavily on the bar. "He got any alleys in particular that he likes? Any good trendy trash bins or anything?"
Kin arches her brow ridge at the Lapi. "I think you have had enough to drink," she observes to the Lapi.
"Maybe we should bring him some food, he sounds like he'd be easier to handle if we had a meal to give him." Lilac glances at Anisa, shrugs, then takes a sip and then a gulp. "On a amber sea, sail forth worry, travel far doubt. Away, away, unto the sunset waters. Ahh." Her tail wags.
The Khatta man rubs his chin. "Try the butcher, throws out scraps. Whippet's been seen there coupla times, might be hard up enough to eat what the vermites don't want."
Anisa grins to Kin, and raises her mug as if in toast before throwing back another belt. "And I don't think you've had enough. Besides, Camden here's got a business to run, y'know." She winks at the feline, then takes one last gulp. "Ahh, much better. Where's the butcher at? Near here?"
"Not far. Grouse and Blackberry, 'cross from the tinker," replies the broad feline.
"I woke up near a butcher once. That was an awful night," Lilac confides. "Oh, how did I get in to this mess, anyway?" Rolling her head around, Lilac raises an eyebrow at the bartender, and tells him, "I'm a dog, you know that? It's only fitting I should be finding another dog. Oh, and I can smell my breath. Ugh." She takes another gulp.
Kin sighs and shakes her head. "And these two were talking about how dangerous it was here and now they're babbling," the Kiriga mutters to herself.
A Kujaku bolts for the door. Sprak! Something buries itself in his back with a thunk, and he sprawls halfway through the doorway, face down. A Skreek calmly gets up and retrieves something the Kujaku had been carrying away, and goes back to sit down, reloading his crossbow. A few people the Kujaku and Skreek had been sitting with shake their heads, and the body-mover trundles out again. Business as usual.
The rabbit finishes off her drink, then pushes the mug back to Camden. "Just making conversation, it's thelife blood of the bar industry-" Her comment is cut short at the commotion, which she swivels to face. Only catching the aftermath, she frowns. "Guys," she whispers to the others, "I think its time we took off… "
Kin sniffs her still mostly full clay cup. Frowning, she just slides it down the bar to one of the other patrons; it apparently really didn't agree with her. "Then let us leave," she comments to Anisa and gets to her feet.
"Babbling? I don't babble, I express." Lilac polishes off her mug, then blinks. "Well, we should be off, then. Off, before I drink anymore and really do black out," she tells the others." She turns, following Anisa's gaze. "Oh, well, there you are then. Dangerous, like he said. Always listen to scholars, they're very wise." The human woman slides off the stool and stands, licking her lips. "Butcher, was it?"
Camden has resumed leaning back against the kegs. "Watch yer backs," he says.
"I always do. Good evening to you," Kin says with a respectful incline of her head. The Kiriga then heads for the door.
Giving a small smile and nod of thanks to the cat, Anisa hops down from her stool and wobbles a bit. She catches Kin to steady herself, and laughs. "Dagh, that was a good year!" Standing back up straight, she smooths her ears back, and follows the reptile towards the door.
"I have to watch my back, I always get my wings caught in doors." Lilac's comment might seem odd, considering she has her wings folded well under her cloak, making her look a tad less unusual. "I'll call this bar stay a success," she tells no one in particular.
It's Kin's turn to look skyward and look as if she's praying to the Gods as the group leaves. The Kiriga actually looks minorly frustrated and upset for a moment, but it quickly eases back into her regular emotionless expression.
"Kinny is soooo stuffy, Anisa. We should take her dancing, or something. I mean, if we didn't have to save the world or whatever." She reaches over and pats Kin on the shoulder, as if to show no hard feelings. "But she's got a good heart. It's probably full of, I don't know … something about songs and flowers. I'll think on it."
Some of the hoods at the tables eye the three as they leave, but nobody moves from where they are. Outside, dusk has deepened. The pool of chunder has congealed, and its maker seems to have long staggered off. Some common-looking folk hurry past, looking in quite a rush to get home. Blackberry, it was indicated, is a few streets away, and then can be followed to Grouse.
"I am not stuffy; we have a duty to perform. You two were so concerned about the dangers of this place and then you go off and dull your senses," Kin hisses, then waves a hand as if to brush it away. "Let us find the butcher's place."
Anisa cracks a grin at Lilac, but doesn't add to her comments. Stepping over a pool of upchuck, she shrugs to the Kiriga. "Actually, we were getting information," she says, seeming to sober up much quicker than expected, although her ears are still somewhat red. "Camden wasn't gonna tell us squat unless we greased his palm a bit, and looked relaxed enough to let down his guard. Besides, I never turn down a chance at some good Vermite that stuffs hard to find." She follows down the street, and grins to the reptile. "I have been around the bar scene a bit, you know."
"My senses are as sharp as ever. Why, I can smell the both of you, and half the people who left the bar recently. I can smell everything. You have no idea what it's like. The first time I could do this, I had to hold my nose all day," Lilac insists. "AND I can fly, except, I always forget that. Do you know, I don't really like to? It makes dizzy, that's why, and I've walked most of my life … " Lilac goes right on along that line of thought, expressing her various unpleasant discoveries and traveling oddities with much rhyme or reason, talking as she walks.
"I do not understand why coating the hand of a rodent with lubrication would make him talk; besides, it looked like you bribed him," Kin comments flatly as they walk.
"It was a tip there's a difference," replies the Lapi. "In any case, we better keep an ear out, and a nose. Smell anything useful yet, Lilac?"
As the three move along, Blackberry hoves into view. Not that there's a sign or anything saying so, that was defaced a long time ago. But it matches the description, and following the cross street brings them to a place that, according to Lilac's nose, is indeed a slaughterhouse. The building across from it has a sign advertising blade sharpening, no questions asked. The butcher's looks closed, but the alley behind it seems to be well traveled, judging from the streaks of gore leading to and from it on the pave stones.
"So, that's it. Really, I can definitely smell it. I'm getting a little hungry, but I think I can wait!" Lilac sniffs at the air more, standing and eying the shop curiously. "All this meat smell is making it hard to scent anyone, and, well, just look. There's a lot of travel going on behind it. We'd best be careful."
"I would not wish to buy anything from that place," Kin comments as she eyes the grisly scene. "One could easily murder here and not be detected, as well. It would blend in," she adds and starts looking around, watching for movement. She also repeatedly checks behind the group to see if they are being followed.
As the smell and the sight of the butcher shop becomes apparent, Anisa's pace slows considerably, and her ears slacken back a bit. She covers her nose and mouth to keep out the smell, and her reddish ears almost become… green? "Dagh… now I wish I hadn't had those drinks. You guys uh… you go ahead, I'll wait here." The rabbit's nose twitches frantically.
Fortunately, nobody lurking behind them, as far as Kin can tell.
"I do not with to leave you alone out here," the Kiriga says with a glance towards the Lapi. "Lilac, you can sneak, so can you check the alley for him and bring him out here?"
Anisa's ears reflexively swivel towards the alleyway, and she cringes at the sounds that emanate from it. "Well, someone is definitely back there… oh Dagh, that's disgusting… " She backs away a few steps, fur standing on end.
Lilac grimaces. "Oh, ew. Murder and get away with it? I just thought of … Ugh, sometimes a grand imagination like mine can be a curse." The woman shakes her head, as if trying to shake the thought out of her brain. Then, she tosses her hair back and takes a deep breath. "Oh, sure. Walk in to the gore-covered spooky back alley, Lilac. Good dog, Lilac. Oh, we can't trust you with a sword Lilac, no, no … " She heads right towards the alley, despite her complaints. "Hellllloooo? Mr. The Whippet?"
"What is disgusting?" Kin asks Anisa. "I hear nothing."
As Lilac approaches, she can begin to hear it too… a wet, meaty sound. Gulping and chewing and rending. It stops when she calls out."
Anisa stands so as to put the reptile in between herself and the alleyway, frowning. "I can her someone… eating back there. Either that, or they're taking a meat bath. Oh, Dagh, I shouldn't have put that thought in my head… " The rabbit starts to give a dry heave, but stops it short.
"Oh, I know you can hear me, so why don't you just come and talk to me? We can get you some real foooood," Lilac calls out as she walks in to the alley. "Don't be shy! I know all about scraping it together, let-me-tell-you." She peeks behind unfortunately aged side of something, then glances behind a box. "Mr. Renee DuBlanc?"
"Pull yourself together," Kin oddly, and suddenly, snaps at Anisa. The Kiriga glares coldly as well. "I thought you were stronger than this."
There's a pause… and a rattle in the alley of rocks and bits of wood pallets, followed by retreating footsteps!
Anisa gives a start at Kin, and then glares right back at the reptile. "Don't lecture me on strong, honey! It's not my fault you sickos have to make a meal out of anything that moves! Besides-" She stops, and focuses her ears at the alleyway. "He's running away!"
"Why can't this ever be easy," Lilac sighs, and then she's off! "Come back, Wippet! I need to talk to you! About Sylvaaaania!" Unable to run with her wings so close to her body, Lilac lets them unfurl so she can run flat-out.
"We'll have to go around since you cannot go through," Kin hisses, "Come on!" The Kiriga then takes off in a run, trying to avoid that particular alleyway and find an alternate route.
"No time for that! Dagh… " Grabbing the collar of her shirt, Anisa pulls it up over her nose and muzzle, making a make-shift mask. Setting her ears back, she sprints off down the alleyway, and after Lilac, wincing at the bits of meat she passes by.
Shaking her head, Kin diverts and goes after the Lapi.
Fortunately, the Lapi's speed gets her down the alley quickly, soon passing Lilac, with Kin bringing up the rear… and it's a good thing too, because it seems the scrawny dog ahead of them, as underfed and unwashed as he looks, is pretty quick on his feet! They catch a glimpse of him rounding the bend to exit the alley, racing as if Dagh himself is behind him.
"I knew we should have brought food," Lilac wheezes to Anisa as she passes by. "If he does anything exciting, tell me about it later!"
Kin just keeps moving, though not nearly as fast as Anisa or Lilac.
Once clear of the butcher's alley, Anisa pulls her shirt back down, and pumps her legs as hard as she can after the canine. "Wait! Mr. Whippet! We just wanna talk!" She skids hard to make the turn after the Gallee, her toenails scraping against the pavement.
Lilac jogs along after her Anisa, and, despite her wheezing, seems to be holding up. She looks around the alley, trying to spot some shortcut, something she might climb or fly over, to get head ahead of the man.
The grayhoundish gallee throws a glance over his shoulder, eyes wild. His long muzzle is streaked with rusty red from his 'meal'. "NO! You won't have me! NOT ME!" His voice is hoarse, hints of a gallesian accent mangled by his mania. For all the skinny dog's speed, Anisa is quickly closing the gap, and he makes another dodging turn into an alley, racing up a stack of crates like stairs.
Audibly skidding once more, Anisa races into the alley, and jumps up the crates after the dog. "We don't want to hurt you! We have food!"
"Oh, enough of this!" Lilac skids to a stop, then hunkers down before leaping in to the air and taking wing. "Oh, and it smells worse up here," she can be heard to say as she gains altitude.
Pushing herself like this is not something the Kiriga is used to. To make up for it, her metabolism shifts into endothermic mode; and her body temperature rising. Even with that, she falls further and further behind. It's almost enough to get her to curse in Imperial. Almost.
From Lilac's new vantage, she can see the Whippet bounding onto the top of a roof, sprinting across them so hard that sometimes a hand comes down to claw at a shingle. He reaches the end of one building… and leaps! It seems like he should have nowhere to go, but he clings desperately to a raingutter, which breaks and pulls away from the building's side a bit, but doesn't stop the gallee from moving. The dog merely claws his way frantically up, making his way up one story, then somehow the next, finding purchase on shutters, windowsills, gutter, whatever he can find. "Won't TAKE me! Won't go back!"
Lilac gapes, momentarily stunned by the scrawny man's incredible agility and tenacity. "Be careful, Anisa! He's … he's faster than he looks!" After calling the warning, Lilac resumes her pursuit, attempting to keep up with him. She may not have his speed, but she makes up for it by having a beeline across obstacles.
Hearing that the others are now on the roof, Kin starts climbing. Or well, tries to climb using her claws. "This was stupid," she mutters to herself, "This man will be useless for understanding what the Cinders are after."
Anisa does her best to stay on the Gallee's tail, her Lapine legs allowing her to bound from rooftop to rooftop much easier than him. Still, she slows her pace a bit, partly because she's slightly tipsy, and partly because she's deliberately being more careful. Slowly, the rabbit's breathing starts to sound tired. "I can see that!"
Anisa arrives at the edge of the building the Whippet took desperate flight from. Across the alley, she's arrived in time to see him scrambling up the rain gutter pipe, now three stories up, and scrambling frantically to find purchase on a windowsill that's he's half heaved himself over. Lilac soon arrives as well, and though Kin doesn't find purchase with her claws so much, the buildings are craggy and textured enough for her to find hand holds, footholds, even things she can jump from spot to spot in with the closeness of the houses and apartments.
Thankful to finally by up and somewhere she can actually move decently, as well as riding the rush her body is currently generating, the Kiriga moves with amazing grace. She goes up the buildings and onto the roof with quick bounds from windows, to ledges, to fragments of beams sticking out of the walls. Once on the roof, she resumes her sprint to get to the guy.
Anisa comes to a halt at the building's ledge, and stares upwards at the canine. "Mr. Whippet, be careful! Dagh- Lilac! He's coming up!"
Lilac circles in the air before descending towards the roof top Renee is trying to reach. She lands with a clatter, pinwheeling her arms as pieces of shoddy roofing slide underneath her. Finally, she catches her balance, breathing hard and clutching her chest. "Whew," she breathes as she turns around, walking over to the ledge to hunker down and fold her arms on her bent knees. "This is just going to make us all tired," she calls down to the man, before holding out a hand to him. "Come on, won't you listen to us? We're not trying to get you."
The gallee throws his hands over his head, eyes bulging as Lilac lands not far above. Flecks of foam fly from his jaws as he barks incoherently, and he slithers over the windowsill and into the building!
Lilac's jaw drops. It just, drops. She stares gape-mouth at the display, even after the man has vanished inside. "He'll get himself killed," she finally declares, standing up. With a toss of her hands she turns around and begins climbing down towards the window.
"By the Star… " Anisa grumbles under her breath. Gathering herself up onto the building ledge, she crouches low… then leaps as hard as she can, launching herself at the window.
Growling now, the reptile darts towards the building the gallee disappeared into. She soars over to the same rooftop Anisa was just on, and without breaking stride she dashes across that roof as well and makes another leap towards the building.
It's a powerful leap, strong enough to crack the shingles that Anisa bounds off of. It carries her across the alley easily, but perhaps not as high as she would have liked… one story up, a closed shutter greets the rabbit, and provides only minimal resistance as she crashes through it with a cloud of dust and old wood splinters!
Briefly, the world is all noise and pain as Anisa slams through the window and lands hard on the floor with a 'thud'. Coughing heavily, the rabbit props herself up on her paws, and squints through the dust and darkness to get a look at wherever she now finds herself.
Kin's leap has a lower profile, and her window happens to be open. It's actually placed high enough that she descends another story to the ground floor, and rolling with the drop prevents her from harming herself at all. She tumbles into a room where a surprised bunch of Skreeks clutching shekels, maybe a couple dozen, are standing around an earthen pit. A large and scarred vermite looks up at Kin, and squeaks. The remains of another oozes under her foot. Half the Skreeks raise their fists and hoot. The other half bare their teeth.
Lilac pauses not once, but twice, as her friends impact the building she's climbing. She has to hold on too avoid falling. It's not the shaking that causes her to start to lose her grip, but the sheer surprise! "Gods alive," she breathes, momentarily too stunned to keep climbing down.
Anisa, meanwhile, finds herself in a smaller room. Both a Rhian and a Skeek, clad only in bedsheets, sit up abruptly in their bed. The Rhian bellows, "HEY!"
"Just passing through," the reptile says, "Don't mind me. Sorry about your vermite." She tries to smile apologetically as she looks for the stairs up.
A rickety flight of stairs can be seen around the edge of the pit room… and none too soon, because it looks like the losers of the pit fight bet want some words with Kin! They close toward her, glowering.
Kin briefly considers drawing one of her swords to get the Skreeks to back off. But she decides she doesn't have time to deal with it. Instead, she vaults herself towards the stairway so she can resume the chase.
"This is definitely going in to a song. 'Three Women, Three Windows,' hmmmm." Lilac resumes climbing down, edging over and ducking to try and climb in the same window the Gallah entered earlier.
Leaping to her feet, Anisa dusts herself off, and shakes her head a few times to clear the cobwebs. "Er, sorry about that… didn't see a thing, carry on… " She runs to what she presumes is the exit, shielding her eyes from the direction of the couple. Grabbing the doorknob, she swings the door open, but pauses before she leaves. "By the way," she says, turning to look at the male Rhian, "you're doing it wrong." She quickly disappears through the doorway.
The Kiriga leaves her rodent pursuers briefly stunned as she springs nimbly over them and alights on the staircase to keep heading up. Anisa's keen ears can pick up the thunder of many feet coming from below as she lets herself into the hall, leaving the bewildered couple exchanging glances with each other.
Anisa hesitates, not certain if the canine had already passed this way or not, and not entirely sure what all the commotion below is about. Biting her lip, the rabbit turns to the ascending stairs, and runs up them towards the next floor.
Kin doesn't wait for the Skreeks to get any closer. Up the stairs she goes!
Swinging herself in isn't too difficult, and Lilac finds herself in a room with many candles, some knocked over, and a circle smeared. Several hooded figures in white are standing around it arguing and waving ornate daggers. "It's ruined!" "Where are we going to get more Karnoran?" "Don't just stand there, idiots, go catch him and make him pay!" They all stop abruptly and drop their arms, staring at Lilac.
The door beyond is still swinging.
"Um." Lilac looks between the hooded figures, ears suddenly shooting up. She has only a moment to think. So, she unfurls her wings, raises her hands, and bares her teeth. "Raaaaaarrr!"
Startled, the cowled figures stumble backwards, dropping their daggers and leaving the middle of the room open! The thundering from downstairs gets louder, and Kin gets a view through an open door of a Rhian and Skeek arguing before she leads the Skreek herd further up.
"Away, … mortals!" Lilac snarls, making clawing motions at the men as she hurries through them. "Um." She pauses at the door, looks back, then suddenly bows. "Bye!" And she's off after the sound of the man's steps.
Once she's a floor up, Anisa pauses, straining her ears for any sound of the haggard Gallee.
Racing up the stairs, the Kiriga catches sight of a familiar cotton tail not far ahead of her. The rabbit, meanwhile, has pounded up the stairs far enough to indeed hear something… a ragged panting. Lilac can see its source as she emerges into the hall… the Whippet with his hands on his knees, gasping for breath at the end of the top floor's hallway. The gallee's crazed eyes bulge, and he backs through the door at the end, out onto a balcony.
"If he doesn't have any useful information I might kill him myself," Kin growls from behind Anisa.
"Please. Stop. Running," Lilac breathes as she races in to the hallway. She skids to a stop mid way down, pausing to catch her breath "We're not going to hurt you. We just, we just want to talk. Calm down. Please. I think my friends may be hurt, and, I … " Having nothing more to say, she just shrugs, showing her empty hands to the man to show she's unarmed.
Anisa continues her sprint, heading in the direction of the heavy breathing. The sound of Kin's voice causes one of her ears to swivel back at the Kiriga, and she shakes her head without slowing down. "Poor guy's just having a bad day… year… life," she calls back. "Besides, I've seen people act this way before, back at the Rim… "
The Whippet simply cowers at the far end of the balcony. He looks down a few times, but the street is too far below for him to go anywhere, the wind at this height making a rugged canvas awning over the balcony flap. Both Kiriga and rabbit get up the stairs and into the same hallway, the Skreeks below hollering and carrying on. A white hooded head pokes through the door at the end. "They went out here!" shrieks whoever is under it, waving his dagger.
"Look, see? Friend? I have a tail, too, you know? And ears? I know this means friendly," Lilac tells the man across from her, hunching down so she doesn't seem to loom over him. She wars her tails and lays her ears back, using body language to help her argument. "I know you when to Sylvania. I know you were near that, that castle. I need your help, and maybe I can help you, too!"
Anisa skids to a halt several paces behind Lilac, and stands motionless. She quickly glances back to the hooded figure, then down the stairs in the direction of the rumbling herd. "Star and Anchor, where'd the welcome wagon come from?"
"Help Lilac," Kin tells Anisa as she undoes her jacket. Within seconds, her two chitin swords are drawn from their respective scabbards. "I will hold these people off in the doorway."
The hooded men draw short as they're confronted not with their prey but with the Autumn Harvest, and they hesitate. They don't have long to think as the crowd of angry Skreek gamblers crests the stairs, threatening to push the whole procession down the hall and out to the balcony. The three women have little time to plan…
"Please, trust me," Kin adds after a moment of looking between the hooded men and the sounds of the approaching Skreeks. "I'll hold these groups off. Assist Lilac as much as you can and get the Whippet out of here. I'll follow as soon as I am able." The dragon's eyes narrow as a plan forms in her mind … which is quickly followed by a sly grin. "Come on up, Skreeks, you may be of service to me… "
"Oh sure, handle the crazy guy Lilac. Is it because he's dog-like? I think that's an unfair stereotype!" Lilac holds up her hands to show she's unarmed, then wags her tail despite her protests she's doesn't know 'dog people' because she looks a bit like one. "Okaaay, Mr. Whippet. It's okay. I know someone who cooks some, um, mean veggies, and we could talk there … "
Anisa gives the reptile a strange look, but then turns in the direction of the Whippet as told. "What she said," the rabbit says, motioning to Lilac. "We need your help- and we have, food? Dagh… " The Lapi keeps an ear focused down the hall and towards the nearing battle, just in case she needs to join in.
The dagger-bearing cult creeps gather at the opening to the balcony, menacing Kin with their blades but not yet daring the reach of the Kiriga's swords. The hall way has become rather crowded bow, the thundering up the stairs now angry shouts, rodentine gamblers milling and crowding, fists in the air. It's a confused din of voices back there! The grimy Whippet doesn't seem to notice, staring at Anisa and Lilac with bulging eyes. "Gebback… not gonna… not gonna take me. Won't find me… the murder… "
"Murder?" Anisa blinks at the canine, inching a little closer. "We don't know anything about… that but if you just answer some questions for us, we can try and help you." The doe occasionally peers over her shoulder at the alarmingly large crowd, more concerned with it than she is with Whippet.
Once Kin sees the Skreeks, she smiles and suddenly bows to the hooded men. Speaking loudly so the Skreeks can hear, she says, "Oh masters, I have completed your bidding. The evil of the games below were silenced. I do hope you have in in your hearts to reward your humble servant for her assistance in your wondrous plans to halt gambling. And look now, those who partook of the game have come to repent… "
"She does stuff like that," Lilac whispers aside to Anisa, as she nods back to Kin. "I think she wants a part in my stories as a hero." He gaze snaps back to the Whippet when he speaks, her brows raising. "The what? Murder? We're not murderers, and we're not here to /murder/ you, or anyone else! We just want to /talk./" She shoots Anisa another, pained, gaze, "This is going in circles," she whispers quickly to the Lapi.
The hooded men exchange glances. "What's she talking about?" begins one, who suddenly has to grab the door jamb as he's roughly shoved forward. It seems like it just might be the milling at first, but one of the Skreeks yells, "You put her up to that?!" Another who can't see far enough down the hall says, "Who did? Those nuts upstairs?" At least one of the cultists turns around to wave his dagger, grousing, "We didn't do anything," but the weapon is seen as a threat, one the gamblers don't take lightly. Fingers begin pointing. "We always knew you freaks would be lousy tenants!" "We didn't-… !" The nature of the bickering seems to gradually change…
The grayhound simple breathes raggedly through his teeth, fingers clenching the rail. His breath smells rather rotten, and when he mutters again it isn't comprehensible this time.
"I don't want to rush him, but I don't want him to fall, either. And, he looks kind of dangerous, besides," Lilac whispers to Anisa. "I'm not really built to wrestle men on railings. Sure, I could sing about it, but … " She shrugs nervously, glancing back at the commotion.
Anisa scoots a bit closer to Lilac, her eyes on Whippet, but her ears on the commotion behind her. "Maybe I should try to knock him out," she whispers extremely quietly to Lilac. "Then maybe we can get some sense out of him… "
"Please, do not be so modest, Masters," Kin says as she fights back a grin of satisfaction, "You must declare to the world your intentions of saving others from the addiction of the game. When they understand the truth, they will embrace you as brothers." "Well, some good did come out of Father insisting I study all those plays," she admits to herself mentally as she starts to back slowly towards the others. She then twists her head around and whispers back towards the others and hopes Anisa can hear her, "Hurry get him out of there. I do not know how long I can keep this charade going… "
Lilac winces despite herself. "Are you sure that's the only way? I mean, I see why, but I don't want to hurt him. He could be the only other person in all the world that can help me he may have my problems," she whispers back, in a voice tinged with a hint of a low whine.
If the Whippet heard, he makes no indication, merely panting, his eyes darting back and forth. "Gotta hide, gotta hide… "
"We can hide you," Anisa says, attempting to appeal to the canine's loopiness. "We know all the best hiding spots!"
"And food," Lilac adds, hopefully. "Good food! Meaty food!"
Another cultist gets shoved, and while one of his comrades again asserts "We've never seen this lizard in our lives!" it doesn't seem to satisfy the gamblers, who at the very least want the others out of the way. Another shove, and one of the hooded men menaces a rodent lowlife for real this time, and it doesn't get any better reaction. It's starting to get ugly in there…
For the first time, the Whippet seems to acknowledge the two speaking to him. "Don't get it… you don't GET it! Hide again… and run. Sniff you out… they see… in blackest night, the murder… "
Kin starts backing up faster now. "Time for a Tsuguri to step back and allow these groups to settle their … issues," she thinks, "Perhaps it was a dishonorable thing to do to put the two groups at odds. I will meditate on it later and hope that my ancestors will understand."
At the sounds of the scuffle, Anisa whips around to get a better view, but then immediately looks over her shoulder back at the Gallah. "Oh, for Dagh's sake… WHO'S THEY??"
Lilac leans back, ears perking when the Whippet starts making sense. "I don't know what that means, unless … " She blinks. "Do you mean the black monsters? Like on the tapestry in that keep?"
"The MURDER!" the Whippet screams, his voice quavering high. "Midnight. Murder. They. Take you back… to her." He doesn't answer Lilac, but she definitely gets his attention, the Gallah whining with his tail between his legs, suddenly shivering uncontrollably.
A fist is swung… nobody really saw who it was, but the hall roars, and there's a yell. Even through the now shuffling feet in the hall, some spatters of fresh, bright red can be seen on the worn floorboards, and an all-out fray erupts, a confusing mash of people pushing, shoving, punching, biting, the whole mess threatening to erupt out onto the balcony!
"Time to get out of here. Can either of you carry him?" Kin hisses at the two as she makes it onto the balcony now. The Kiriga then darts to the railing and looks over, trying to make an assessment of jumping safety.
"He knows. He knows, Lilac whispers reverently to Anisa. "Look, we have to help him, but he," she drops her voice to a whisper, "can't ever see me like that. I don't think he can take it." Leaning back, she gives Whippet her best smile and says, "We know, we know, Whippet! We can help you, with … with them. But we have to GO or they," she points behind herself, "will get us! We have to go NOW."
Still looking over her shoulder at the Gallah, Anisa takes a quick glance at Kin, then turns back to face the canine. Reflexively, her ears swivel back at the fray once more, but she tentatively takes a few cautious steps towards Whippet. "Now, don't worry, we won't let the murder get-" Cutting herself short, the rabbit pounces at the dog, attempting to grapple him as she lunges forward.
Lilac yelps when Anisa jumps forward, holding up her hands and wiggling her fingers in indecision. "Um!" A pause, then she rushes forward to help. "Coming!"
That three stories is a very long drop, and the piles of garbage in the street below don't look very forgiving. Clotheslines are strung with ragged laundry between this building and the next, and canvas awnings are spread over balconies in much the same way as this one is, some better off than others.
The grayhound yelps, and his clawed feet scrabble on the floorboards, but aside from smelling very offensive, there's little he can do to resist Anisa's powerful grip, and nowhere he can retreat to. He squirms, but seems too fearful to actually try fighting.
Pinning the dog to the ground with one arm and much of her body weight, Anisa pulls her Skedat shell off of her arm with her teeth, and wrangles it to pull out the whip. "Someone help me with this guy, he's squirmy!" While keeping him pinned, the rabbit begins to attempt to bind him with her whip like a roped calf.
Kin sheathes her two swords as her brow-ridge furrows in thought. "Tricky. I might be able to make it, but Anisa may not. Lilac can just fly… " she thinks. Turning her attention to the others, she says as she gives a firm tug on one of the clotheslines nearby to see if it will come free from the other end or not, "Lilac, fly out of here. Anisa, you and I have to get out of here another way. Whippet … just hold still and we will see you to safety, I promise on the honor of my ancestors."
Lilac hovers around the Anisa-Whippet pile, gingerly trying to help. She aborts several attempts to pin him, then finally goes for it. "Where do we go now, Anisa? I can't jump that far, can you? Can anyone," she asks quickly.
Binding the canine hand and feet, and making sure the binds are good and tight, Anisa stands. Dusting her paws off satisfactorily, she bends down, and easily hefts Whippet over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes. "Lead the way I got this guy!"
The clothesline creaks a little as it's pulled taut, doubled around the rail so the laundry can be reeled in. No telling what point it would snap at, but since it's doubled up, Kin can probably get the whole thing.
With a tilt of her head towards Anisa, Kin asks, "Multiple clotheslines together and climb down, or rush through the fight?"
"Your call," Anisa replies to the reptile, pivoting to glare at the mob with ears set back. "But I can't be held responsible if Mr. Whimper here winds up being a makeshift club."
It's getting a little hard to hear over the shouts and thumps in the hall. One of the hooded men advances when Kin sheathes her weapons, but the hem of his robe is stepped on, and he falls over. Some of the angry Skreeks try to shoulder past the crush of bodies through the din and confusion, pointing at Kin. "We ain't done with you!"
"Oh wait," Lilac says in a voice of sudden revelation. "I can fly! Gods, how many times am I going to forget that?" She pats Anisa's shoulder, pointing down. "I can get down first, and maybe help catch him? Or, what do you wnat me to do?"
Anisa glances to Kin, then to Lilac. "You fly down first, and we'll play it by ear. Are you sure you could catch this guy?" The Lapi places an over sized foot on the railing, readying for whatever plan the trio comes up with.
Kin uses her short blade in a graceful swipe to free up this end of some of the clotheslines. "Ever swing on a rope or vine? I used to do this in the willows on my father's est… well, never mind. We swing to the next building and go through it. Lilac, just fly out of here." She offers two of the sets of clotheslines to Anisa since she is carrying the Whippet and takes one for herself.
"Um, I don't know? I guess we'll see or … Well, um … Squish, I guess." Lilac shrugs, then gives Anisa and Kin a brief smile. "Adventure, you know? I'm the," she steps over the railing, "most exciting," she lets go, " bard … " and she's sailing down, "I know!"
Anisa takes the offered lines and wraps them around her wrist, tugging on them to make sure of their strength. "Can't say as I've swung on a vine before, but there's always a first time!" After Lilac jumps over the side, Anisa follows suit, tightening her grip on Whippet as well as the lines.
"Life is always a journey of firsts," Kin remarks as she hefts a clawed foot onto the railing. "Time to ride the winds, my friend," she adds, then pushes herself over as her grip tightens on the clothesline. "I do hope this works," she thinks after she's committed herself.
It must be a strange sort of fear that makes the Whippet not seem to care much about being carried off the side of a building, the bound Gallah simply gibbering as Anisa clutches him and hops over the rail, Kin not far behind. In a flutter of laundry and with a shower of clothespins, the whole bunch swing down a lurch that leaves stomachs behind. The far balcony a story down greets Kiriga and Lapi, the rotten wood of the rail breaking on Anisa's flank as she swings through it, leaving a gap for Kin.
On the alley street below, Lilac looks up and calls, out, "Are you all right up," a pause as Anisa crashes through the rail, " … Are you still alive?"
Giving a small yelp as she crashes through the rail, Anisa skitters to a stop on the balcony. She winces in pain as she steadies herself and readjusts the Gallah, but otherwise doesn't seem to have slowed down any. "I'm fine! Wait for us, we'll be down in a minute!"
The Kiriga follows shortly through the gap, her clawed feet alighting upon the balcony and digging in to steady her. With a shake of her head and mane, she says, "Well, that went better than I planned. Let'sget out of here before they can follow." And with that, she goes to find the door off the balcony.
"My friends are insane," Lilac murmurs to herself. She rubs her shoulders against the cold, looking around at her bleak surroundings. Deciding she'd best not stand in the open, she darts for some nearby shadows.
Across the street and a story up, the melee has spilled out right to the edges of the rail above… whether or not any of them are concerned about their quarry's escape, it looks like they have their hands quite full.
Kin works her way quickly back down to the street. "We should take the Whippet to one of the Museum safe houses," she whispers back towards Anisa. "He should be given food and allowed to rest. We can question him later. I think we could use a rest as well."
"Whatever we do, we'd better get out of here and fast," Lilac comments as she steps out of where she was hiding.
Hot on the Kiriga's heels, Anisa nods the affirmative, although she cracks a small grin. "Rest? Bah! I can go all night!" As she says this, she winces again, rubbing the spot on her hip where she crashed through the balcony. "Well, within reason. Let's go."
"Well, I could use food. Exerting myself like this makes my body act more … mammalian," Kin admits as the odd crew hurry down the street.
After the improvised trapeze act, getting out of Darkside isn't too rough. Kin, with some help in figuring out the address she was given, leads the way to a small dwelling in the commoner's quarter, where she's let in by a considerably nicer-looking Skreek than the ones in Darkside, brown-furred and dressed simply in tunic and breeches. "Ah, I heard you might be coming by," he says, ushering the three women and their exhausted cargo in. "Jervis mentioned you. Make yourselves comfortably, you're safe here." The cottage is sparsely furnished, but tidy and warm, a fire in the hearth.
Another Skreek head pokes around a door from which some pleasant grain smells are coming. "Oh, guests? You must be with the organization. I'll have dinner on in a bit, I'll set a few extra places. … Er, what's that smell?"
Still hefting the ragged Mr. Whippet over her shoulder, Anisa plods into the room. "That's probably our little pal here," she replies. "Got anywhere we can stash him for now? Ugh, I need a bath… "
Kin bows to the Skreek. "Thank you for allowing us in this evening. We have been investigating potential links and have had a bit of a trying evening," she says in her accented tone. The reptile then makes her way over to a spot near the fireplace and oddly seems to deflate as her metabolism drops back to simply drawing off the environment. "And do please forgive the smell, but our lead has been in places better left undiscussed."
The Skreek woman looking from the door eyes her fourth 'guest'. "You can lay him down in the bedroom… I'd ask if there was any risk from him, but he looks too wiped out to be much threat." Indeed, the Whippet hangs limply on Anisa's shoulder, less like a sack of potatoes, and more like a sack of jelly.
Lilac enters last, glancing back in to the street before closing the door. "I can watch him, if you want," she offers once inside. "If not, I'm curling up next to that fire." Then she smiles at the homeowners, giving them a wave. "Hi, there!"
Grimacing, Anisa takes a quick glance at her living cargo. She nods to Lilac. "Its probably best that we keep an eye on him, since he was such a pain to get a hold of. We'll take turns." Smiling to the Skreek, the Lapi gives a quick nod of appreciation. "Thanks for your help, by the way. Where's the bedroom at again?"
"When you return, I wish to check your leg where you hit the rail," Kin says to the Lapi. The Kiriga then sheds the ratty coat she had been wearing in Darkside and slips her weapons from her belt sash and sets them down on the floor nearby.
The rat who answered the door takes his seat again by the fire, gesturing. "Make yourselves comfortable, and let me know if you need anything. Bedroom's through the other door and on the left, miss."
Moving to follow Anisa, Lilac comments, "Did that alley make anyone else hungry? Maybe it was all that running." She rubs her nose, sniffles, then shrugs her cloak closer over her wings. "I tell you, this is the most exciting time of my life well, except that one time when I played that Rephidim song in the bar full of Nagai patriots. Wow, that was bad … "
"Its just a scratch, really," says the Lapi, before walking to the indicated room. Setting Whippet down still bound she stretches backwards and pops her back. "Ah, much better. Just stay in the doorway and keep an eye on him," she says to Lilac, "that way you can still talk with us in the room."
"Would you have any fish?" Kin asks the Skreek that has sat near the fire. "I have a small amount of money I can offer to pay you with, if you require it. Or does your kind not eat meat, like the Lapi?"
"Fine by me, he's killing my nose, anyway," Lilac agrees. She peeks in to the bedroom, then shifts to lean against the door frame. Carefully, she unwraps her wings from under her cloak and lets them air out again before draping them around her like a leather blanket. "So, I think he knows. He's seen them, and I'm really not comfortable with what he may have been implying by her."
The lady in the kitchen door gives Kin a smile and a nod. "Oh yes, we like a good variety… picked some up fresh at market. Don't worry yourself, we're happy to share with Jervis' folk." She inclines her head toward Anisa, giving the Lapi a grin. "And if you feel inclined to get washed up before dinner, there's a washbasin with fresh well water in the bedroom too. There'll be hot vegetable pie waiting for you."
"I'm not so sure he was implying anything. The guy's loonier than an eep pie." Anisa walks back into the living, room, and plops down next to the fire. Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out a brush, and starts to work on her ears. "That sounds heavenly", she says with a smile to the rodent.
Kin pushes herself over to sit near Anisa. Her head tilts and peers down at the point where the railing hit. "Are you certain you were not injured?" she asks, reaching out hesitantly. "That looked like it should have hurt."
"According to Mr. Tinsnip, he's actually been to the place in question. He's seen artifacts inside that's why Mr. Tinsnip mentioned him to me in the first place. I think whatever he saw, did that," Lilac waves a hand in to the room where Whippet rests, "to him. I think he has seen them."
Placing her brush down on the seat, Anisa lifts her shirt up a bit, revealing a mid-sized bruise half-hidden by her pants' waistband. "It's nothing, really. The balcony was rotted through, so it didn't hit that hard. Heck, I've gotten worse in the gym!" Letting Kin inspect the area, the Lapi looks to Lilac. "So you think this… her is in league with the Cinders?"
Kin very lightly runs a claw along the edge of the bruise, which probably feels odd. "It looks bad," she admits, "with us, we don't bruise the same way; it only shows between our scales." Satisfied, she draws her hand back and sits up straight. "Sorry for yelling at you near the ally. I was trying to distract you from thinking about the alley. I did not do so well," she admits, "I do not know how to deal with … all of you and this place."
"Ummm, wellll," Lilac makes a vague gesture with a hand, as if not quite sure how to explain it and thinking a visual example might help, "I think … she … may be The Raveness. Or, maybe a heir? Someone with her supposed powers, someone who has one of those artifacts, one of those 'Nodes.' From what I heard about her, I don't think she'd side with the Society, but, well, I'm not sure. Very little is known about her, and the one person that has been there is in the bedroom."
"She's said to command shadow creatures," Lilac adds, giving Anisa and Kin a look.
"And you believe you are perhaps one of her cursed servants?" Kin inquires and glances towards Lilac.
Anisa puts her shirt back down, and returns to brushing her ears. "Trust me, it's notthat bad. One of the bad things about white fur is that those sort of things are more noticeable. And think nothing of the alley." She grins to the reptile, "it snapped me back to reality. Plus, I've been called worse by my brothers." At the mention of the Node, Anisa turns to Lilac. "What I dealt with in Half-Valley were a little bit more, er, substantial than shadows. Are you sure this is the same thing?"
Lilac's ears shoot up, and she casts a nervous glance at the home owners. "Ummmm, maybe?" She bites her lip. "If I am, I, well, I don't know what she's like. She never gave me an … order. I don't have whispers in my head, or anything like that. I don't remember anything from when it happened." To Anisa, she explains, "The tapestry the Whippet supposedly saw describes black creatures, shadows is just … embellishment on my part. Black creatures, that defend the Keep. If, um, what we know is any indication, they'd be very dangerous."
"You have? Perhaps I will have to ask their advice for next time on what words to use," the Kiriga muses and rubs her chin thoughtfully. She turns her attention abck to the matter at hand quickly enough, though. "If we are to get anything from the Whippet … " she says, then looks to the Skreek, asking, "Are there any mind mages that are friends of Jervis? Someone who could help unscramble his mind?"
The male safe house tender leans forward in his chair a little. "He's pretty well connected in scholarly circles. Not sure if he knows any mind mages personally, though. Since the Collegia moved on, hasn't been so much of that around here these days."
"Is there some other way we can get Whippet to make more sense?" Asks Anisa, still brushing her ears. "Maybe there's someone at the Asylum with that kind of knowledge."
"Maybe I can talk to him. Maybe, maybe we've seen the same sights, it's just he remembers. If I have to, I'll stay here and feed him. I can sing to him, too. Maybe that will help calm him down," Lilac offers. "I feel kind of … responsible, for him. I mean, did I do that to someone, somewhere?"
"I would not know, I am not from here," Kin notes and raises a claw. "You realize that we will eventually need to travel to these places and find out for ourselves what is going on instead of chasing rumors."
Anisa nods to Lilac. "You might be able to get through to him, so we'll try that first. Maybe some real food for a change will bring him back to sanity for a bit." She then nods to Kin. "Certainly, we'll need to go to these places." Putting her brush back in her pocket, she leans back with a grin. "That's why I always keep a packed suitcase back at home!"