The sun shines through a hazy morning sky. It's a lot warmer than it has been for so long. According to some, that's because the sky island has left its meanderings over Nordika, and has started to drift southward. Whatever the cause, at least it's still temperate, just as Rephidim always is.
And, as always, the Bazaar is active business as usual. Booths, street acts, guard patrols, the occasional Zelak, the more common pickpocket they all blend together to form the chaos that is the Bazaar. And, a Bazaar would not be complete without at least one Exile…
"FAHNSEESKO!" squeaks a friendly-looking mouse-like Skeek. As is not unusual, he has an ample girth despite his smallish size, much like his wife who comes into view from the back of the tent, from where she has been preparing meals. "Come, come! Eat, eat!" The Skeek seems to regard the five-tailed Fox with a distinctly friendly nature.
Another Skeek, in a booth right next to the first, similarly shows a fair degree of enthusiasm as he (well, it's hard to tell, but it's quite probably a 'he') waves to a female Khatta warrior. "Hello there! Please stop by! I have many new capes to show you!"
The Kitsune, who was walking through the Bazaar en route to something else pauses for a moment. "Hmm," he says, "I'm not sure. I really should help with the setting up of my new stall. What have to offer anyway?"
"New stall?" the first Skeek squeaks. "In business? What you sell?" He snaps his fingers, and his wife brings forth a large steaming sandwich. It is decidedly devoid of any insectoid material, as per Francisco's preferences.
The Khatta warrior pauses on her way to watch some street performers, as she spots the cape merchant.
"Well," Francisco says, "Not just yet, but soon. Someone thought that it would be appropriate if I sold these little pinata replicas of myself, though I still don't know why they are replicas of me."
Francisco smiles at the Skeek's wife and takes the sandwich. "Thanks," he says.
A very large lupine swings two sledgehammers as if they were drumsticks, slamming them against large solid discs of unknown material, causing a considerable ruckuss … but one that at least has a fairly good degree of rhythm. Meanwhile, some other wolves clomp about with big buckets strapped to their feet, in what must be some primitive form of dance.
A couple of Jupani cubs dash through the crowd, making a beeline for Kira. One of them tugs twice on her cape. "Miss? Miss? Are you the one who clobbered that HUGE Rhian the other day?"
"Yes, I am," Kira smiles.
Kira walks over to the cape booth. "Have you had any more difficult customers?"
The cape-selling Skeek answers, "Oh, not since you … ah … impressed the public!" He smiles proudly, as the Jupani cubs hop up and down excitedly.
The bigger of the cubs jabbers, "You better watch out! That big ol' Rhian, he works for Eustace do Varr, the meanest spoiledest rottenest guy around, and he's keeping a watch out for you! I think he wantsa get EVEN!"
The cape-selling Skeek blanches at this. "He worked for … Eu- … Eustace do Varr? The son of Arch-Inquisitor do Varr?"
Kira looks at the cub. "Is that true?"
The cub looks to be deep in thought for a moment, then nods. "Yep! That's so! You'd be in for it big time, but you're not just anybody. You're STRONG! You could even whup Eustace himself!" The second cub pitches in with an enthusiastic "YEAH!"
The cape-selling Skeek just shrinks down another inch, looking a touch under the weather.
The Skeek over at the sandwich booth doesn't look especially pleased with the proclamations, either. His wife frets in some foreign tongue.
Francisco starts to eat his sandwich, and makes excuses to head off back to where his own booth is meant to be.
The Skeek couple nod and wave to "Fahnseesko". "Well fare!"
Kira smiles reassuringly at the Skeek. "Don't worry. I can handle Eustace do Varr." Then, she frowns. "I just have to be careful."
Looking over at the other booth, Kira finally looks at Francisco, and does a double take.
The cape-selling Skeek nods, watching Francisco pass. "You be careful, yes. So should that five-tailed Kitsune. It is well-known that he is on Eustace's bad side… " Then, he blinks at something, and suddenly hushes up, going to rearranging his capes.
The Skeek notices Kira's look out of the corner of his eye. "A Kitsune is what he is," the Skeek explains. "Or so I hear. I think it means he's a special kind of Nohbakim."
Francisco does not see the Khatta watching him, and if he heard the cape-selling Skeek, does not show any sign of it, as he walks away to where his stall is meant to be, which isn't far at all. In fact, it's not even finished yet.
Kira follows after Francisco.
The cape-selling Skeek calls after Kira, "Be careful!" The cubs for no apparent reason disperse, quickly disappearing into the crowd.
Looking over his as-yet-unfinished stall, Francisco tuts to himself and steps behind it and crouches down to inspect something underneath.
Counting under her breath just to make sure, Kira sneaks up behind the Kitsune for a closer look.
Francisco appears as a gray fox morph, about five and a half feet tall.Dark 'pepper' colored fur covers most of the exposed parts of his body,with only patches of red around the bases of his ears and muzzle. He'swearing an garishly colored shirt, made from zolk material given to himin thank you for something, with lots and lots of primary colors thatreally should never ever should be mixed together for fear of gazinginto them and losing one's sanity. Also on, he sports a pair of darkknee length shorts, with a hole in the back for his tails all 5 ofthem. That's right five pepper colored tails, each about 2.5 feetlong, for Francisco is known (where he comes from anyway) as a Kitsune- although a shadow of his former self…
At that moment, the multi-tailed fox decides to re-emerge from underneath the stall, inadvertantly backing into the Khatta. Turning around to face her, Francisco says, "Oops. Sorry I didn't know you were behind me." After a pause, he asks, "Why were you behind me?"
Kira stammers, "Uh, well, I was just… "
Francisco cocks his head, perking an ear, as if waiting for an answer.
Kira fidgets, and stares at the ground. "Well, I was just wondering, why you have five tails? Were you born that way?"
The Kitsune blinks once, then grins. "Oh, is that all? Well, it's not really a secret, I wasn't, no. Started off with one tail, and I got my fifth about forty years ago. Or was it fifty?"
Kira blinks. "You don't look that old."
Some of the redness around the Kitsune's muzzle becomes a little more pronounced at that. "Heh. I guess I'm kinda middle-aged for my kind. Three hundred and thirty… something. I don't keep much track anymore."
Kira stares at the Kitsune. "Did you say, 'three hundred and thirty'?"
Francisco nods. "Give or take a few years."
Kira steps back a pace. "You're not from around here, are you?"
The fox shakes his head. "Not by choice, no. I think the term that is used here is 'Exile'?" he says, then looks around quickly to see if he can see any trace of someone meant to be working on the stall.
A couple of Rhians of Sylvanian origin work on the stall quietly in the background, paying no heed to the Kitsune's claims.
A Rath'ani with a vague expression comes striding through the crowd, tucking his shirt into his pants as he walks. He sees Francisco standing by the stall, and waves in his general direction. "Ah! Hullo there! You must Madame's business partner, the Zerda… "
Kira grins. "You're an Exile?"
Francisco perks an ear and turns to face the Rathrani. Fighting the urge to sigh and point out that he is not a Zerda, he merely says, "You see any other five-tailed Kitsunes around? Of course I am. Are you meant to be working on finishing the stall?"
The fox turns back to answer the Khatta. "By definition, yes. Though I prefer Kitsune, or even my name, which is Francisco. That's as in, but not including, 'San'. I don't believe I caught yours?"
The Khatta smiles. "I'm Kira."
"Pleased to meet you then, Kira," Francisco says, and smiles.
"Yep, that I am… " The Rath'ani stops and ponders a bit. "I figured you had to be the one because of the five tails, you know. Something you don't see ev'ry day, that. At any rate, I'm here to finish your stall, yep." The Rath'ani suits his actions to his words. He goes briefly inside the little structure, and produces a roll of canvas which had been concealed inside. Paying little attention to the other two, he commences to attach one end of the banner to the front of the stall, banging away enthusiastically with his hammer…
Down the street, there is a small commotion, as a loud group of yapping poodles approaches. Or, that is, that's what their loud conversation sounds like from here. As they approach, it's evident that it's Eustace on another one of his "patrols" of the Bazaar again, nibbling on some stringy meat he must have acquired on the way. Odds are, he probably didn't even pay for it, if rumors are to be believed… Despite the attempts of his hangers-on to get his attention with their 'witty' conversation, his gaze wanders until it falls upon the new stall being constructed. He frowns.
The Kitsune looks briefly at the source of the commotion, then looks away from them, sighing to himself.
Kira leans closer to Francisco and whispers, "That Skeek at the booth said you should watch out for Eustace do Varr too. How do you know that brat?"
The Raccoon continues to pound away, stopping occasionally to remove bent nails… After a bit he begins to unroll the sign. A credible picture of Francisco, drawn in profile and actually looking rather dapper (if it weren't for that awful shirt), begins to emerge.
Francisco says, "I've… had dealings with him before."
Francisco cringes at the sign unrolling. "Do you have to put that on there now? Right this minute?" he asks the raccoon.
Francisco is almost cut off by the sound of yapping laughter at first from a single, aforementioned poodle, and then by his 'friends', as they mimic him even before they figure out exactly what it is they're supposed to be laughing at.
Pausing for a moment, Francisco looks back to Kira. "Brat, did you call him?"
Soon, all of the poodles are guffawing and pointing at the sign as they slowly make their way by. Eustace, once he has succeeded in kindling the jeers, takes a much more subdued stance, nibbling on the stringy meat in his hands, only casting a side-glance toward Francisco and his booth.
Watching the approaching group of poodles, Kira comments, "I guess we have something in common then."
"I'll be done in a minute, sir no fear!" The Raccoon smiles reassuringly, and begins to pound once more, muttering to himself as he bends another nail double…
Sighing, the Kitsune realises it's too late. He says to Kira, "I'd like to hear more about that… when we get a moment to talk about it, that is."
Kira nods. "Yes, that's what I called him."
Eustace doesn't seem to have any inclination to make an extended stay. He casts a baleful glare at Kira … and then simply saunters off, his lackeys in tow, soon disappearing into the general chaos of the Bazaar.
Using rather more nails than one might judge necessary, the handyman anchors the other end of the banner. Unrolled, it proclaims its smiling subject to be the 'Amazing five-tailed Kitsune'. The word 'Zerda' is still visible under the whitewash…
Francisco blinks at the disappearing poodles, amazed that they left without so much as a comment to his face. "That's a first," he muses.
Kira smiles. "What does he usually do more than glare?"
"Taunt, be overly smug, obnoxious," says the fox. "Depends."
The Raccoon admires his handiwork, then turns to the Kitsune, "There you go, sir! A right fine merchant's stall, if I do say so myself."
Kira sighs. "I'd rather have the taunts than possibly having to fight more of his hired help."
Francisco looks to the raccoon, and nods. "Yes. I hope it will suffice and survive some of the people in the Bazaar here. I'm sure there are people who may take offence to it."
Turning to Kira, the fox queries, "Fighting his hired help? Can I ask what the issue is between you and him then?"
Kira grins, "I wouldn't let him throw someone off an airship."
The handy 'coon sort of shuffles from foot to foot. "Well, I suppose I'll be taking my leave, then, seeing as how you like your stall… " He makes no immediate effort to leave, though. Instead, he just stands there looking vaguely expectant…
The Kitsune blinks. "He tried to throw someone off an airship? I take it you don't mean while it was docked."
Francisco turns to look at the raccoon. "Well just one more question. Are these cupboards underneath here lockable in some fashion?"
Kira shakes her head. "No, we were flying."
Francisco asks, "He didn't succeed, did he?"
Smiling cheerfully, Kira says, "No. I was lucky enough to tackle him"
The Raccoon smiles and rubs his paws. "Oh, indeed they are, sir! Assuming you've a lock, that is… " He still doesn't seem to be in any great hurry to leave…
Francisco smiles. "Good. He seems to have a habit for trying to throw people off or into things."
The Kitsune nods back to the raccoon. "Is there anything else?"
The Raccoon shuffles his feet a bit, looking uncomfortable. "Well, um… If you're quite happy with your stall, sir… " He pauses a bit, then adds hopefully, "You bein' such a successful man of business and all - I'd want to make especially sure that the stall suited you… "
Looking from the Raccoon to Francisco, Kira gives the fox a prod in the side. "I think he may want a bonus for all his hard work."
The Raccoon tries to look modest…
"Oooh, right. You tip here too," says the Kitsune to Kira. He reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a couple of shekels, handing them to the raccoon.
Speaking of tipping, the front facade of the stall does exactly that, as the Rath'ani starts to walk away. *creeeeeeeak* And then … it falls. *CRASH!*
Just another day in the Bazaar.