Jan. 5, evening. Jarik is assigned to escort a noble lady and gets more than he expected.
(Alyssa) (Jarik) (Rephidim) (Sword Gone Missing) (Tirro)
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In the Rephidim Temple, a wolf Lieutenant motions to Jarik. "Come with me, Ensign."

In the distance within the temple, acolytes chant hymns – though words cannot be made out.

Jarik's eyes open. He is kneeling on the floor deep in meditation. JArik stands to his feet and stretches, "Where are we going? If I may ask."

"Ensign Jarik," the Lieutenant says as he walks to the front lobby of the Temple. "I have a very important assignment for you. Ordinarily I would charge this duty to people with more experience, but because we have recently increased security in the Inner Temple… Well, there's no help for it. You'll have to do this one."

The Lieutenant gives Jarik a searching look.

Jarik nods slowly, "What do you wish of me?"

A merchant passes by the Lieutenant and Jarik as he ennnters the temple.

"We have a young lady… A *noble* young lady… Who wishes to see some of the local sights. Take in the color." The Lieutenant's voice is sarcastic, as if suggesting that this yonug lady is obviously completely unaware of the real dangers of Rephidim – but as Jarik has had as yet very little opportunity to see the city, this does not come across well. "She requires an escort."

Jarik nods again, "A simple escort job is all?"

The wolf Lieutenant continues. "You'll be taking two Zelak warriors to help you. Don't waste them, and be very careful how you order them – they're very literal, and they aren't imaginative." He nods. "The Zelaks know where to go."

The Lieutenant gives Jarik a sidelong look. "And if you lose one of the Zelaks, I promise you, Ensign Jarik, it WILL be added on to your debt-service."

Jarik nods, "Understood sir. Who is this young lady, if I may ask?"

Outside the Temple, someone calls out, 'Alms?'

"The Lady Lyssa do Verani," the Lieutenant says as he steps into the spacious and vaulted chamber of the Temple's front room. "One of our … oldest and most noble lineages." He gestures to the poodle. "Lady Lyssa: the honorable Ensign Jarik. A trusted warrior. He will serve you well today."

Jarik bows in greeting, "Good day M'lady."

Panes of colored light refract across the stone floor.

A pure white poodle sways across the room. She is dressed in the finest of silks and is wearing too much jewelry. She offers a paw to Jarik. "Hello."

The Lieutenant signals to two of the Zelak warriors to come forward. "Go with Ensign Jarik, here. Obey his orders. Protect the Lady Lyssa at all cost." He gestures to the poodle. The 6' tall insectoids dip their heads to the Lieutenant in acknowledgement, then walk up closely to Jarik and Lyssa and… snuffle at them?

Jarik kneels befor Lady Lyssa. He takes her offered paw and kisses the back of it. "I'm honored to be at your service." he says.

The red Zelaks are marked with bands of violet, on one, and green on the other. The red-violet Zelak nods to the fox. "We are at your service, Ensign Jarik."

Jarik nods slightly to the Zelaks.

Alyssa's tail wags with impatience. "Can we go, yet?"

Alyssa withdraws her paw from Jarik's grasp. "You will be the escort?"

The Lieutenant bows. "Of course, my Lady. We exist to serve. Ensign Jarik! I charge you with the safety of this lady on her travels today. You may go."

Jarik nods to the Lady, "Sir Jarik, at your service."

Jarik nods to the Lieutenant, "As you command sir."

A young kavi races through the entrance. A second follows quickly after.

Alyssa bounces a bit… "I'm sooooo excited about this trip! My father… he's a noble, you know… promised me this trip for my birthday and now I'm here and I just can't wait to get going!"

Jarik smiles, "Birthday M'lady? How old are you?"

The Lieutenant smiles, or at least that is how it might be perceived by someone reasonably charitably minded. Jarik's sure it's more in line of a fixed grimace. "Of course, milady Alyssa. We are merely solicitous of your safety in all ways."

Jarik motions to the Zelaks to follow… "I don't know this city myself. It should prove to be learning for both of us, no?"

The Zelaks follow, their feet soundless on the stone.

Jarik gives the Lieutenant a knowing nod and he guides Lady Alyssa and the Zepaks into the city.

Alyssa sways her way along, chattering… "I'm 22 this week. My father says it's a landmark birthday, he didn't think I would make it this far. I don't know why he would say that, do you, sir Jarik?"

An older ermine half-blocks Alyssa's way. 'Alms?' he murmurs.

Jarik's ear perks, "Landmark?" HE then notices the ermine and steps between him and Lady Alyssa.

Alyssa blinks in confusion… "Alms? I'm sorry, I don't carry small shrubs with me."

The ermine looks hungry… and tired. "Have ye a half-shekel?"

The Zelaks look to Jarik. "Shall we remove this intruder from the Lady's path?" one clacks.

Jarik says, "Sir, please do not bother Lady Alyssa… "

Jarik raises his paw to the Zelaks, "One moment please."

The ermine looks expectant, for the first time.

Alyssa's eyes rove up and down the ermine… "You poor thing! You look tired! Sir Jarik, give him some money. It's good luck to help the poor, father always says. We always help the poor every Landing Day, but it's not Landing Day now… but… go ahead."

The Zelaks stand by. Their killing-claws glisten in the sunlight, showing a near blood-red hue, beneath which their insectoid hands are clutched.

The beggar only looks hopeful. Finally, someone might give him money?

Jarik looks to the ermine then back to to his charge, "As you wish M'lady."

Alyssa… "Yes, please, then let's hurry along. I'm anxious to see everything there is to see."

Jarik offers the erimine a half shekal. Jarik . o O {At least they do pay me some as well as lower my debt… }

In the shadows, a giggle erupts, and small feet race off.

Jarik smiles to the ermine, "May the future be brighter for you sir. Good day."

The ermine doffs his hole-filled hat. "I thank ye, kind sirs. May the Old Ones bless you!"

The Zelaks motion for the beggar to be gone from the Lady's path.

Alyssa nods in satisfaction. "Oh, that's wonderful. Please, come along, sir Jarik. I want to do a little shopping, where might we go for that?" She waves to the beggar absently, as if she's already forgotten him.

Jarik glances back at the Zelaks, "He is not harming anyone. Don't be rude."

The ermine moves away quickly.

And on to… the Bazaar.

In the bright mid-day, the air is cool and crisp and full of the sounds – and smells – of a bustling street lined on each side with booths, vendors and customers – some loudly haggling over prices of the displayed wares. Occasionally a Zelak patrol wanders by to keep the peace and to keep a lookout for those with sticky fingers … and to be sure there are plenty shady sorts lurking in the shadows, regarding the passersby with hungry eyes. Or perhaps that's just a peddler over there, begging for a scrap of bread. In any case, it's a barrage on the senses – exciting and exhilirating, full of life and action.

The Zelaks remind Jarik, "We are not instructed to be rude. We are instructed to protect the Lady Alyssa." Wary and selfless protectors, they march beside the poodle lady and the fox into the maelstrom of business that is the Bazaar.

"Fish! Fresh fish! Catch of the day!" "What? You expect me to pay a whole SHEKEL for this bruised mess you dare to call FRUIT?" "Don't be shy! Honest Makah has a deal for YOU!"

Alyssa swaywalks very slowly, looking around and commenting on everything she sees. "Smell those flowers! Look at that silk! Did you see that lovely fruit? I must buy some of those jewels for mother… " she chatters on.

"FRESH Abalone, straight from the lake itself!" "Care fur a nice bauble for the missus?"

Jarik just nods to the Alyssa and keeps watch for thieves.

A crowd of three kavis toss around what appear to be four water balloons.

"Hand-carved! Every piece a treasure fit for a lord or lady! Flawless ivory, straight from the Savan!"

Alyssa puts a soft paw on Jarik's arm, forcing him to walk close to her. "I've not seen so many merchants! Our market at home is small… " Her voice trails off as she notices the kavis. "OooooOO."

The scent of fresh-cooking meat and bread waft from one side of the Bazaar, which sprawls outside the walls of Rephidim City proper. Beyond the thickly clustered shops, where Kavis are setting up for the mid-day business in vigorous bursts of activity, Jarik can see the dirt-trod streets darken and become grimier, with shops in poor condition. That does not appear to be a good part of town, no… Perhaps there was more to the Lieutenant's comment on 'local color' than he said.

Jarik looks to alyssa, "Do keep an eye on your moneypouch… Theieves run rampant in cities such as this… "

The young kavis – two not wearing more than ribbons, the third wearing black, juggle the water balloons around them. They seem to be headed toward Jarik and Alyssa.

Jarik's ear twitches as he sees the 'seedier' part of town…

Alyssa's eyes glaze with confusion… "Thieves… Oh… I see." She clutches her money pouch in one paw, fingers wrapped about it tightly. She continues to look at the kavis.

Jarik looks at the Kavis. He motions the Zelaks to move to either side of Alyssa…

One of the kavis, the one wearing black, juggle two of the water balloons; the other two have their backs facing the crowd.

The Zelaks move forward and clack their mandibles warningly to the shoppers to clear a path. Those who are sensible… Or at least who have caught the warning, move aside for the noble lady and her escort. Zelaks aren't big on restraint.

Some of the shoppers clap to the Kavis. "Clever!" one calls.

Alyssa suddenly changes her mind, seeing something else… a pretty bauble, perhaps, that catches her eye. "Ooh… I know my sister would love that!" She heads off determinedly.

One of Jarik's arms is close by by Alyssa, the other is at his side., hand resting on his swordhilt.

The black-clad kavi balances a balloon on his nose, and the other three water baloons show a complexx pattern among the three.

Jarik blinks and pursues Alyssa… "M'lady! Don't run off!"

A jester of indeterminate species in ragged attire, face-fur dyed in a pattern akin to that of a clown, looks jealously at the attention the Kavis earn. He continues juggling the batons in his hands – a pot with a few coins at his feet – tossing them ever higher in an attempt to outdo them.

Jarik catches up to her and places a paw on her shoulder, "M'lady, there is plenty of time to shop. Please don't run off like that."

The black-clad kavi tries tossing a balloon to one wearing green ribbons… oops! So sorry! The balloon races toward Alyssa.

Alyssa blinks… "But, sir Jarik, that lovely scrimshaw… I want to look at it. Please." She bats her eyelashes at Jarik.

A grizzly-looking wolf with a patch over one eye barks to the passersby, beckoning them to his stand. "Honest Makah! Finest ivory carvings you've ever seen!"

Oh, dear! Alyssa is now very, VERY wet… and the balloon was tossed with great force.

The shoppers hold their breath, watching the racing balloon… Many of them are retreating quickly from the Zelaks.

Jarik's ears flatten and his gaze trains on the Kavis.

The Zelaks hiss like boiling teakettles! They look around for the attacker.

One of the male cheetah assistants at the wolf's booth looks up just in time to see the balloon's impact. He pats his boss on the shoulder in alarm.

Alyssa wobbles back and forth at the impact, then stands a moment stunned. She quickly breaks into a _loud_ wail and falls over, right into the ivory merchant's goods.

The ragged jester drops his batons in surprise, one bouncing off his head. He hurriedly scrambles for them, and scurries away from the scene.

Jarik's ears quickly focus on Alyssa. He turns, "M'lady! Are you okay?" e lifts her up.

The wolf turns around. "Come and – AhhHHHHHhhhh!" **CRASH**

The green-clad kavi looks distraught. "I'm sorry!" The black-clad one comes closer, to see if she was hurt.

The Zelaks call to Jarik, "Orders, Ensign?" One moves to block Alyssa off from the merchant Makah, heedless of the other scrimshaws that it is destroying as it steps.

Alyssa wails loudly, the broken goods scattered around her. "I'm wet! I'm hurt! It's messy around here!" She waves one paw about distractedly, the other still firmly clutching her bag.

"My ivories! MY IVORIES! Sala! Vinu! … DO SOMETHING!" The wolf barks and snarls, alternating between sounding like a fierce animal and a wounded puppy.

The black-clad kavi brushes against Jarik as he peers toward Alyssa.

Jarik says, "Stand guard around us! I need to make sure she's okay… "

A finely carved ivory tower on a pedestal goes crashing down upon impact with Alyssa's gesturing paw.

The Zelaks move to guard Jarik and Alyssa. One waves a claw menacingly toward the approaching Kavis.

Alyssa screams at the shatter. "Aieee! Aieee! I want my father! I want to be dry! Where's my maid! This is not what I imagined! Help!"

The three kavis back away.

"By the First Ones! AHHH!" the wolf wails. "Do you realize how long it took me to CARVE that?"

Jarik tries to calm Alyssa, "Please M'lady. It'll be okay… "

The one-eyed wolf breaks into a plaintive howl while his cheetah assistants scramble to pick up damaged goods … and move some of the undamaged ones to relative safety.

Tirro says, "I'm really, REALLY sorry, miss… ""

The other Zelak regards the merchant Makah with an alien gaze, the wolf reflected in its black eyes.

Alyssa's eyes focus on Jarik. "Please help me up! Can I have a towel! I think I hurt my neck." She holds out the previously waving paw to Jarik, eyes glimmering with tears.

Jarik looks up to the wolf, "Sir! Be quiet! You will be paid for damages… " He looks to the black clad Kavi. "Won't he." he snarls.

Jarik removes his cloak (cleaned earlier) and wraps it around her, "This is all I have… "

The three bedraggled kavis walk off, despondent… but glad that the poodle is all right.

The wolf breaks off his howling. "Paid! By the stars, you're certainly RIGHT I'll be paid! This isn't some petty little fruit stand. These don't grow on TREES, you know!"

The Zelak decides the merchant is not an attacker and turns its gaze to the other customers. They back away quickly.

Alyssa wraps the cloak around her tightly. "Thank you, sir Jarik, you are so kind to me. Please, can I stand up now?" She totally ignores the merchant for the moment.

Jarik motions to the Zelak and points to the wolf, "If he tries anything, subdue him… nicely."

Jarik offers her both his hands, "Of couse M'lady."

"Your will, Ensign," the Zelak says. It fixes the wolf with a cold look.

"I'm Honest Makah. Barely charge enough to cover my expenses, eager as I am to provide a fair price to the customer. This … " He wipes away at his one good eye. "Why, this is … my lifeblood spilled out – so senselessly!" He turns away, covering his face. "The tragedy! I am wounded! Wounded, I tell you!"

Alyssa puts just one paw in Jarik's, the other assumedly clutching her bag and the cloak. She looks up at Jarik… "Pull, please." Her once finely styled ears are floppy and dripping wet now.

In the distance can be heard the sound of hawkers, a guitarrist and a flutist, and the sounds of laughter.

Makah turns back, regarding the poodle, scrutinizing her apparent wealth and station. "Positively stabbed through the heart, I am."

Jarik gently pulls Alyssa to her feet, "There, no real harm done. We need to find you a place to dry off don't we?"

Some of the customers mutter to each other. "Dirty nobles… Break a shop, break a merchant, don't even think to pay for the damage… " They shake their heads, unwilling to get in a confrontation with Zelaks, and turn their business to other shopkeepers who aren't in trouble.

Alyssa looks at Jarik with a pitiful look. "Yes, please… I'm wet."

Jarik looks to the Wolf, "Sir… you will be paid fair market value for all that was broken."

"No real HARM?!?" the wolf barks. "Did you HEAR that? Vinu! Fetch my stool … This is too much for my old heart! They'll ruin me … " He snaps back at Jarik's offer. "By whom?"

Alyssa finally takes note of the merchant. "OH, sir! My goodness, your shop is such a mess! And a hazard! I should tell my father to sue you for not following building code!"

Jarik says, "Simply send the temple a bill, sir."

The wolf's ears flatten back. He looks to the others. "Look! Do you see how they think they can have their way? They smash it as they please, and then blame US for the damage!"

The poodle continues her tirade, advancing on the merchant "And your goods! Of low quality, they must be, if they break so easily!" She smiles gently to the merchant… "My father is always trying to help others, so I will help you… "

Jarik gets flustered, finally he just screams, "ENOUGH!!!!!!"

Makah crosses his arms. "Hardly enough. I'll have my shekels, thank you. And I'm going to COUNT them."

More customers mutter to themselves. "Such a shame… " "Who does he think he is, a Rephidim Temple Inquisitor?" There are no police in the Bazaar… But many of the customers are armed, some obviously, some not.

Alyssan blinks at Jarik. "Why do you yell? There's no need to yell. I can give this nice merchant some money for his troubles. Money fixes a lot, or so I'm told. I don't know why some people say that but… "

Jarik smiles to Alyssa, "Please pay him for what broke. It's his livelyhood… "

Vacant eyes look at Jarik a moment. "His… what? You mean it's his job?" She looks a bit shocked, and puts two gold coins into the merchant's paw. "I'm sorry your job is so dangerous sir."

Makah clears his throat. "The tower is worth a gold alone. And just think of the disruption of my business you've caused … and the slandering of my good name!"

The Zelaks swivel to watch the wolf closely. They move forward as if expecting a sneak attack.

Jarik takes a breath.

One of the entertainment-kavis, the one wearing black, appears in the crowd. He trots to one of the insectoids. "Sir, I think I saw that your master has been robbed… "

The Zelak swivels its attention to the black-clad Kavi. It says nothing.

One of the cheetah assistants begins to put pieces of broken ivory into a sack.

Jarik looks at the wolf, "Sir, I believe that is MORE than fair for what was damaged."

Alyssa blinks. "It was not my fault, sir, I may remind you. It was those… " She points… "your accomplices. And besides, people will be so curious as to what happened they will stop by in droves."

"MORE?" the wolf barks. "You have the audacity to tell me what I should be charging for my wares?"

Tirro whispers, "You and the other Zelak should be on the lookout for… her!" He points with a finger to a lady stoat, purchasing flowers a few stalls away. "I saw her take your master's bag. Ask him if he still has it!"

The Zelaks look at the lady stoat. Is this information significant? One turns to Jarik and says, "Ensign Jarik, this young Kavi reports seeing a theft. Do you wish us to pursue the thief?"

Jarik's ear swivels to the Zelak, "theft? From who?"

"You, sir," the Zelak says.

Alyssa pats the merchant gently on the arm. "I'm sure you know what is best. Here, father always says generousity is looked upon well by the First Ones. Take another gold. Now we must be off!"

Jarik blinks? "Me?"

The Zelak says, "Yes."

Jarik patswhere he keeps his money…

Tirro says, "Sire, could you, well, could you check your money poouch… she's getting away?""

The wolf grumbles, taking the gold, looking put upon. He motions to the cheetah with the bag – who hands the sack of broken ivory to the lady. "Here," the wolf grumbles. "You broke it, you bought it."

Jarik almost swears then remembers he's in the company of a lady.

The lady stoat wanders off for other purchases.

The Zelaks swivel their heads to watch the passing of the ivory. No attack registered. Their ward is apparently safe. They remain silent.

Jarik shakes his head to the Zelaks, "Stay with Alyssa. The money isn't important… "

Alyssa holds the bag, looking a bit stunned. "Oh, no, sir. I couldn't take your livlihood. You keep these nice statues." She drops the bag and looks at Jarik. "Can we go now?"

"Understood," red-and-violet responds.

Tirro nods softly. "Your choice, sire. Would you need someone else to stay with you and watch for thieves?"

Alyssa puts a firm paw on Jarik's arm. "Come, sir Jarik."

Jarik nods to Alyssa, "Yes M'lady. We'd best find a place with a warm fire so you can dry off."

The wolf shrugs, and directs one of the cheetahs to retrieve the bag. He looks over one of the pieces. "Hmm. Used to be a unicorn. I suppose it can be a horse now … a very short one."

Jarik looks to the Kavi suspiciously, "Are you offering to join us?"

The poodle brushes at her silks. "Come, Jarik, stop playing with your friends. This silk will be ruined it we don't go soon."

Tirro nods. "Your bodyguards," he nods to the Zelaks, "might be good at protecting you from physical attacks, sire… but – if I might be blunt, sire, you've already shown that not all attacks are so… forward."

Jarik nods and follows Alyssa…

Tirro says, "My services come cheap… only… say, one gold coin?"

Tirro follows.

Jarik looks to Tirro, "I have no money… as YOU pointed out."

Tirro says, "No, but milady does, if I saw correctly."

Jarik says, "Then you'd best ask her shouldn't you?"

Alyssa shakes her head… "No, I have no money. I gave it all to the merchant." She looks very sad… "No more shopping."

Tirro says, "Ah. Apologies, milady. I should best be off, then."

Tirro says, "Mayhap the two o' you should enjoy the Freedom Park, then? 'Tis a nice area."

The Zelaks trot beside Alysha and Jarik, offering no commentary.

The poodle nods slowly and repeats… "No more money… "

Jarik pats Lady Alyssa, "There there M'lady. You can shop another day. There's stilla whole city to see."

Alyssa blinks. "There is more to a city than shopping?" She looks shocked.

Jarik nods, "Of course! Libraries, museums, parks, everything you can imagine!"

Jarik glances back at Tirro, "Where is this 'Freedom Park'?"

Alyssa thoughtfully mulls this over. "Very well, then." she says doubtfully. "But I'm wet."

Tirro perks up. "'Tis only four blocks away; me and my mates were just going there. I'll be glad to show yas the way!"

Alyssa shakes her head… "Nonono! I must be dry first. Dry, then park."

Jarik nods to Tirro, "Can we find a place so the Lady may dry off?"

Tirro says, "Me and my mates – we was going to have a show there, and try to scrounge a few extra shekels. Yer welcome to follow, and watch!""

Tirro thinks for a moment. "I think so."

Alyssa wails softly… "No… not where he says. I want a fine hotel! Or take me back to the Temple!"

Jarik hrms, "Alyssa? Is your neck still hurting?"

Tirro's ears droop for a moment. "I can lead ya to one, missus… "

Alyssa's eyes focus on Tirro. "A hotel! You know of one?"

Tirro's eyes light up. "I do! A fine one, with beds and everything!"

Jarik looks back to the Kavi, "Someplace… free perhaps?"

Jarik glances to the Zelaks, "Unless you have money?"

From an alleyway, a cowled, hunched figure regards the party passing by with beady eyes. Abruptly, the figure starts, spinning around with a whip of a hairless tail, and bounces away, knocking over a rotting basket filled with garbage.

The Zelaks manage to do insectoid shrugs.

Tirro's ears droop. "I fear not. I canna afford it. It would cost lots and lots of shekels."

Alyssa sighs with impatience! "My father is a noble… we can just charge it to him. Don't you know anything."

Jarik says, "WOuld your father approve?"

Tirro's eyes light up at the news. His tail goes twitch-twitch-twitch…

Alyssa nods… "Of course, it's my birthday."

"Fine silks! In the richest and most vibrant of colors!" "Loaves of bread! Freshly baked, and irresistable!" "Garhookles! Everyone wants one! Everyone needs one! Get them here while the getting is good!"

Jarik says, "Well then… lead on!"

Tirro takes the party down a long street. Less garbage seems to fill it, and the buildings are better kept than the ones around the market. A sign hangs above a doorway – showing a stein of beer and a turkey (?) leg.

Alyssa swaywalks slowly, gawking at everything and dripping water.

Tirro waves in the party into what appears to be a tavern. "They have beds and all upstairs."

Jarik nods, "Thank you… um… what IS your name?"

The tavern itself seems warm, with a fire burning. Though it's a far cry from the opulent castles that some may wish, it seems servicable. The kitchen smells of cooking meat, and the floor has been washed recently.

Jarik guides the party upstairs. He looks about for an inkeeper.

Tirro says, "I'm Tirro, sire. "

Alyssa sighs softly. "This is nice, Tirro. Thank you. Though it's not as nice as my house. My father is a noble, did I tell you that?" She seems to be recovering from her watery adventure.

Tirro beams with pleasure.

A gruff-looking gryphon at the bar swivels his head in the direction of the incoming visitors. Or maybe her head. It's hard to tell with bird-folk.

Interestingly, this tavern sports three mounted and stuffed heads over the fireplace. One is a black-furred ferretoid… Kavi? Another is a reptilian horse-beast of some kind, and the third is a dragon-head. They seem to be glowering, even with glassy eyes…

Jarik waves to the Gryphon, "Good day… We need to get a room for awhile." He motions to Alyssa, "M'lady Alyssa had an accident in the bazaar… "

Alssya swoons at the three heads… "Oh! Oh… ohohoho! What are those… oh!"

At this time of the day, the main room of the tavern is nearly deserted except for a few cats enjoying their meal in a corner.

The hippogryphon's gaze holds on Tirro long enough, until it nods its head, apparently registering recognition.

Tirro tugs off a large hunk of bread, and holds it under a turning spit, catching some of the pig-drippings.

Tirro smiles and waves to the hippogryph. "I pay ya in a moment for bread, ya Jakka?"

Alyssa swoons again… "We don't have such things in my town. My father is a noble… did I tell you that? Our taverns don't have three heads… what do they mean? How did they get there?"

In another corner of the room, a hunched-over lupine-sort in bright blue armor holds a mug of ale in two stubby hands. A pair of hooves rest on the floor at the seat of the chair, which the lupine-sort seems to be sitting rather uncomfortably in.

Jakka snorts. "Thieves. They will steal no more."

Jarik says, "Now… Jakka is it? About a room… ?"

The hippogryph returns to polishing some glasses, pausing long enough to give Tirro a warning glance. "And not paying makes you a thief."

The poodle blinks. "Thieves! Why we saw one on our way here, didn't we! I want his head for my tavern! Get me his head!"

Tirro pulls the bread from under the pig. "Aye, Jaka… " He reaches in his pocket, and by touch pulls out a half-shekel piece. "Certes! I almost stopped a thief m'self, today!"

The hippogryph eyes the poodle humorlessly.

Tirro hands her the money.

Tirro hands Jakka the money.

Alyssa flapflaps her ears, spraying everyone around her with water droplets. "I'm wet, did you notice? I'd like to be dry, I really would. Can I have a towel? Oh, sir Jarik, I got your nice cloak all wet."

The hippogryph nods, taking the coin, and putting it somewhere behind the bar. "Obliged."

Jarik chuckles, "It's not a problem."

Jarik smiles to Alyssa, "Why don't we go sit by the fire for a bit?"

The shell-armored lupine laps at his mug of ale noisily, apparently unconcerned about the newcomers now.

Tirro munches on the toasted bread with drippings, pulls up a seat. He says, "Milady's a noble, didya know that?"

The hippogryph looks up. "That's good. Then milady can afford five shekels a night … or ten if milady wants a hot bath, too."

Alyssa shakeshakes her head, water flying about again. "Oh, no, not me. My father is a noble, but I'm not I'm just a noble's daughter." She follows Jarik to the fire.

Jarik looks to the hippogryph, "Is it possible to have her clothes cleaned and dried as well?"

Jarik takes a seat and motions for Alyssa to sit beside him.

Alyssa sits next to the fire… "Oh, no, my father told me never to take my clothes off in front of strangers. I'll just dry here by the fire… can I have some wine?"

Jarik nods, "Now M'lady, you said you hurt your neck out there?"

"Another eight shekels," Jakka grumbles, "for the cleaning. And two if you insist upon wearing something while the boy takes them to be done."

Jarik motions for the Zelaks to come over.

The Zelaks stand closer.

Alyssa nodnods her head… "A little bit, only a little bit. I'm pretty tough, it's no big deal." She patpats Jarik's leg, slipping something into his paw. "Can I have some wine? I'll just dry my clothes by the fire, really."

Jarik looks at his paw?

Jarik shakes his head, "If your neck is hurt I'd like to examine it… "

Alyssa flaps her ears… "Oh, no, my father… he's a noble, did I tell you? My father told me not to let strangers look at my neck." She points to the sheckels in Jarik's paw and puts a finger to her lips. "You didn't get those from me." she whispers.

Jarik chuckles and nods, "As you wish M'lady."

Tirro idly notes where Alyssa kept her spare shekels.

Jarik shifts his body and moves his sword up on his belt so it rests in his lap.

Alyssa shifts around on the bench, Jarik's cloak still wrapped around her. "This fire is nice. Don't you think so? It's just like fire at home. Can I have some wine?"

The fire crackles cheerfully.

Jarik says, "Jakka, would you be so kind as to fetch some wine for the Lady here?"

The armored hooved-wolf-creature sitting at the far corner, turns to look in the direction of the fire – a movement that requires him to twist his body a bit to do so.

The hippogryph looks a bit sour, clears its throat, and pats one open palm with the other hand.

Tirro sits down next to the armored hooved wolf creature.

Jarik gets up and offers Jakka the shekals that Alyssa gave him…

Alyssa's eyes wander over the tavern, eyes taking in everything, even the wolf-creature. She continues to chatter… "This is a nice tavern. I'm glad we came here, even if I can't shop anymore."

Tirro says, "So, Alyssa… didn't you say that your father was a mage?"

Jarik smiles, "The day is still young. Many places left to see."

The hippogryph mutters, "'Wild Turkey White' it is, then," and reaches behind the bar for a bottle to uncork and pour into glasses.

Alyssa's eyes narrow at Tirro. "No, I didn't. Don't you listen? He's a noble."

Jarik notices the lupine creature and he waves to him.

The armored lupine's ears perk up, and it emits an audible grunt. Its attentions veer toward Jarik at the wave … though its attention is more denoted by the swivelling of the ears, as the eyes are obscured by the strange shell-like armor covering part of its head. In some respects, the creature looks almost like an armadillo. In any case, this creature looks like it was designed by committee.

Jarik waits for the glass of wine…

Alyssa's blinks at bit at Jarik… "Do you know that person?"

Tirro nodnods. "But, but didn't you tell me about the powerful spells that he wove, and how that made him into a noble?"

Jarik shakes his hea,d "No… but his kind greeted me when I arrived."

The hippogryph sets the glasses on the bar. Apparently personal delivery isn't part of the service here.

The poodle nods vacantly to Jarik and frowns again at Tirro. "You are not funny. I've not even spoken to you more than two sentences. Stop making up things, or I shall order the Zelaks… to… to… to… " She can't come up with anything.

Jarik picks up the wine glass, "Thank you Jakka."

The Vykarin turns its gaze away, mumbling something unintelligible, all the while making clicking and popping noises as part of its punctuation.

The Zelaks continue to play the part of menacing statues.

Jarik walks back to Alyssa and offers her the glass, "Your wine, M'lady."

Tirro winks to Alyssa. "Oh. I'm sorry. I forgot that was supposed to be a secret."

Alyssa finishes triumphantly… "To pull your ear!" She waves her paw at this, neatly picking the wineglass out of Jarik's grasp without spilling a drop.

The hippogryph snorts at all this talk of spell-casting.

Wild Turkey White… is not the refined vintage that a noble-born daughter might expect. It's harsh with a covering of sugar-sweetness and has a high alcohol content relative to white wine… Or for that matter, vodka.

Jarik retakes his seat.

Alyssa frowns at the talkative Kavi. "Are you delirious? Or drunk, perhaps? That's it, you are drunk! And I'm thirsty!" She takes a large sip from the glass, and suddenly coughs, spewing wine over Tirro's knees.

Tirro pulls out a packet of cards from somewhere, and shuffles them in front of himself.

Tirro eeeeeps! "My clothes!"

The Vartan polishes yet more glasses. Surely these were already polished before, or else there are an awful lot more glasses than could be packed reasonably at the tables.

The Zelaks move suddenly, turning toward Alyssa and Jarik. "Poison? What are your orders, sir?"

Jarik shakes his head, "Hard liquor is more like it… She'll be alright."

Jarik patpats Alyssa's back.

Alyssa coughs… "No, no, I'm allright… just… just… swallowed wrong… **cough** **cough**"

The Zelaks subside.

The Vartan's eyes narrow. "Crossed Zelaks. Poison, eh? I'm not about to accept any trouble in here. Bad enough to let Zelaks in in the first place."

With that, the hippogryph mumbles and resumes repolishing the glasses.

Jarik says, "Lady Alyssa, are you sure you want to drink that?"

Jarik says, "And… how are your clothes doing?"

The poodle flapflaps her ears once more, still more water coming off them. **cough** "I think I'm almost dry now, perhaps in a few minutes we could go?" She holds the glass carefully.

The wolf-like Vykarin finishes lapping up its mug, holding it in both stubby hands. It whines when it sees the mug is empty, and licks the inside thoroughly for good measure.

Jarik nods, "Whenever you wish to leave M'lady."

Alyssa nods… "I'll just finish this wine, then we'll be going. Are you dry? Are you wet? Are you thirsty?"

Tirro trots over to Alyssa. "I'm terribly sorry," he says, putting a hand on her arm, as if to steady himself.

The hippogryph Vartan gives the Vykarin an unsympathetic look, knowing how short on shekels they tend to be.

Jarik nods, "I'm fine M'lady… hey! Tirro, please do not touch her."

Alyssa smiles vaguely up at Tirro, nodding… "Thank you."

Tirro nods. He goes back to his seat next to the Vykarin.

Tirro puts his hand on the Vykarin's arm. "Sir, you seem thirsty… "

Jarik unhooks his buckle locking in his sword and draws it out slightly.

The Vykarin gives Tirro an almost pathetic look, a faint whine escaping from its nose, as if it actually expects it might get a free drink out of this.

Jarik checks his blade, making sure it din't get wet.

Alyssa looks around and suddenly slurps down the wine when she thinks no one is watching.

Jarik taps the blade with a claw, satisfied and resheaths it. He redoes the buckle over the crossguard.

Tirro says, "Sure… I'll buy you a… " He stops, and peers at the critter's arm. "How DARE you!""

Tirro points to a new gold band on the the wolf-armadillo's arm. It looks rather feminine.

The Vykarin's thick tail begins wagging at mention of the "I'll buy you". This has a dramatic effect on the chair it was trying to sit on. The chair is knocked out, dropping the hapless creature to the floor, and knocking over the table. The wooden mug bounces on the floor.

The cats stand up from their meals and begin to walk toward the exit, when they turn and look with interest at the Vykarin's antics. They begin to… Well, catcall.

Alyssa smiles happily… "See, men are just dropping at my feet. My mother told me they always would, did I tell you that?" She laughs to herself.

Sprawled on the floor, the creature shakes its head, trying to get its bearings. It stands up, humiliated … and then, at the added insult from a poodle … and a couple of CATS!!! Grrrrrrrrr!

Tirro OC would Alyssa notice the new gold band around his wrist as her own?

Jarik stands up…

Jakka, behind the bar, glowers even more fiercely, and reaches for something down behind the counter.

Jarik says, "Tirro… what are you DOING?"

Jarik motions the Zelaks to stand on eith side of Alyssa.

Tirro stands up. "Me? I was offering to buy this poor one a drink, when I noticed something… rather out of place on his wrist!"

The Vykarin clicks and pops and growls a stream of unintelligible, unpleasant-sounding phrases after the cats.

The poodle looks at the wolf creature… "And look, he has a bracelet just like mine! My father… he's a noble, did I tell you that? My father always says imitation is the best form of flattery."

The Zelaks obligingly close in around Alyssa to protect her. "Be careful, Lady," one says.

The cats sneer and hiss back at the Vykarin. "Lively, isn't our shelled friend?" one chuckles to another.

The Vykarin glances at the bracelet that has suddenly appeared on his wrist. Bracelet? Just like the poodle? The one whose father the crazy Kavi said was a wizard? … MAGIC!!!!!

The hooved wolf-thing howls and snarls, worked now into a panicked rage. Exactly who or what he lashes out at doesn't matter much to him, when everyone is trying to cast black magic on him!

Another comments, "With her bracelet – though she's scarcely noticed – he looks just like her pet dog!" The cats laugh between themselves as they continue toward the door.

The Vykarin charges the cats, barking and growling!

Jarik blinks, "Zelaks! Please subdue the Vykarin! Nicly."

Alyssa blearily pats the Zelaks. "Nice buggy, nice buggy."

Jakka hauls out a heavy double crossbow. "Drop it, doggie, or I drop you."

"Hah! And here the day is getting livelier all the time." The cats draw their daggers and short swords, one in each hand, and dance about to tease the enraged Vykarin.

The Zelaks glance toward Jarik. "Sir, our orders are to protect the Lady Alyssa."

Jakka growls. The cats are NOT helping. Who to shoot first? Hmm. Who tipped?

Jarik's hand drops to his sword. His left hand quickly undoes the crossguard buckle. He draws his sword quickly.

Tirro stands fairly close to Jarik, and notes the sword. Be-yoo-tiful…

The cats seem to have left a few shiny coins on the table.

Jarik nods, "Then, please escort her out of here safely?"

Alyssa watches the fight, her eyes twinkling with a humor that she quickly conceals behind her usual vacant look. "Yes, please, let's go. I want to see this non-shopping part of the city."

The hippogryph snorts, and makes the decision, looking back to the enraged, snarling Vykarin, getting even angrier by the moment.

The Zelaks nod. "Your will, Ensign." They take Alyssa's hands and guide her toward the door, well around the fight.

Jarik says, "Tirro, go with the Zelaks."

Tirro nods, and follows the Zelaks, but still lusts after the sword.

The hippogryph grumbles, trying to get a clean shot at the Vykarin, but with the dancing cats in the way.

Jarik whews, they're out of harms way…

Alyssa bats at the Zelaks with a paw, the opposite one still clutching her bag under the cloak. "Hey! Don't touch!"

The cats grin fiercely… They have the looks of desert cats – T'mrrisses, perhaps.

Jarik holds up his hand, "Please, calm down everyone. No bloodshed… "

A cat gives Jarik a disapproving look. "And spoil our fun?"

Jarik says, "Quite, now, pute your weapons away… "

The Vykarin looks up to Jarik, then to the cats again. It growls and snarls, oblivious to the very seriously-peeved hippogryph behind the counter.

Jarik walks toward the Vykarin slowly, "Relax… no one is going to harm you… I'm a friend."

"That's it," the hippogryph mutters, "Just get the kitties out of the way, and … "

Tirro says, "Uhmm… perhaps if you put down your sword he'll believe you?"

Jarik glares at the hippogryph, "Put down the crossbow… "

Alyssa heads after Jarik… "Come, sir Jarik, enough playing with your friends! I want to go, please, let's go? My father … he's a noble, did I tell you? My father always says not to fight when there is shopping to be done."

Jarik raises a hand, "Lady Alyssa, I don't want to see someone killed today… "

The Vartan snorts. "Sorry, but White Turkey Wine doesn't give you ordering privileges, vulp."

The lead cat, a brown-to-black fellow, looks scornful. "Yes, Vykarin, do as the nice swordsman says, not as he does," he sneers.

Jarik looks at Alyssa, "If you ask me to leave again… I will."

Tirro walks behind Jarik, taking a slight chance. He gently pushes down Jarik's arm. "Look, the more weapons showing, the more fighting will happen. Here… put down your sword."

The poodle blinks a few times. "Killed? Goodness, who is going to get killed? I'll give everyone a gold coin if they drop their weapons now." She looks around the tavern.

The cats look attentively at Alyssa suddenly.

Jarik looks at Tirro, "I know what I'm doing… "

The Vartan abruptly drops the crossbow. Two bolts shoot into the back of the counter. "I want to see that gold."

Jarik holds his weapon outward. It's resting in his palms.

A gold coin flys through the air toward the Vartan. Exactly where it came from is not clear.

Tirro takes his opportunity. He grabs the pommel of the sword, and races toward the door.

The Vykarin, however, doesn't have a weapon to drop. He DOES, however, have a distracted kitty right in front of him. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Jarik yikes and LEAPS at Tirro!

The cats sheathe their swords with a flourish and bow to Alyssa. "I had no idea we were in the presence of such a noble and well born lady," their dark leader says. "Perhaps we may serve you better than… " He glances over at the leaping knight. "Your 'friend' here?"

The hooved wolf-thing charges forward, right into everybody!

Alyssa sticks her foot out and trips Tirro.

Jakka is distracted by the nice shiny gold coin, oblivious to the impending destruction.

Two more gold coins fly toward the two cats.

"AWROOOORRRRRRrrrrOOOOOOOOWWWWWWRRRRROOOO!" **CRASH**

Tirro leaps over the foot, and races in the other direction – toward the staircases.

The cats catch their coins nimbly, before one is tackled by the Vykarin. "Hey! You put down YOUR weapon!" he yowls, before disappearing into, essentially, a real 'furball' of a fight.

Jarik aaaghs! and skidds across the floor!

Tirro races up the stairs to the rooms, still carrying Jarik's sword.

The other cat, 'paid off' for the moment, leaps to help his comrade. No weapons. Just claws and natural cat agility.

Jarik gets up, "Zelaks, guard her!" HE charges after Tirro!

Alyssa lobs her wine cup toward Tirro.

Tirro opens a door upstairs, and spies what he was looking for – a window.

"Snaarrrrr! RAWR!! *clickclickpop* GARRR! *pop* CHOMP!"

The Zelaks stand like statues.

Tirro manages to get out the window just before Jarik gets to the room.

Alyssa frowns. "That little… " She raps a Zelak on the arm. "You. Follow that Kavi. Get the sword. Bring it back to me."

The Zelak says, "My orders are to protect you, milady." He doesn't move.

Alyssa's eyes narrow. "He might use the sword to hurt me, did you think of that? Get that sword!"

The Zelaks clack back and forth between themselves.

Jarik spots Tirro and snarls, "You little thief! Return that sword! You don't know what it is!"

Meanwhile, Jarik is looking out a torn window after the running Kavi…

Alyssa beats on one of the Zelaks. "Go! Hurry! Before he attacks me with the sword."

Tirro leaves behind a Kavi-sized hole through the oil paper that he crashes through. He lands not-so-gracefully, turns, and races down the oill amp-lit street.

"No attack is in evidence," a Zelak points out.

Jarik punches a wall, hard.

The cat not engaged in mortal combat pounds the Vykarin, trying to rescue his comrade…

Jakka ponders the specifics of whether the bargain for the gold coin meant that it couldn't pick up the crossbow AGAIN. Just in case, though, the hippogryph sighs and waits for so long as Alyssa is still in sight.

The poodle taptaps her foot. "No yet, your fool, but he might be coming right behind us!

Tirro turns a corner, and should not be able to be seen any longer from the inn.

Jarik loks down at his palms, each has a nasty gash from where Tirro pulled the sowrd out of his hands.

The Zelaks consult with each other. As a compromise, they stand on opposite sides of Alyssa to ensure that no one can sneak up behind her. "Please remain between us for your own safety," the red-and-green Zelak says.

The Vykarin's shell shows little response to the pounding. Its tail thrashes furiously as it bops with its own clumsy hands on the cat on the floor.

The first cat pushes heavily on the Vykarin, to roll it off its compatriot.

Jarik walks down the stairs, he looks PISSED.

Alyssa frowns. "Stupid bugs." She goes over to Jarik. "I'm sorry you were hurt, sir Jarik." She rips her gown and wraps his palms, tying off the silk.

The Vykarin, distracted and caught off balance, rolls, kicking with its hooves and snarling.

Jarik waves a hand, "I'm fine M'lady… Really."

The hippogryph does its best to remain calm. "A whole gold shekel. Nothing broken. Not much blood yet to clean up. One gold shekel." The Vartan glances at the shiny gold again for reassurance.

Jarik says, "This is nothing… "

The cats scramble! One swats the Vykarin with its tail, then begins to run for the entrance. "Catch us if you can," he cat-calls. And then to Alyssa mockingly, "Good day, milady. Let us know if you'd like us to sheath our weapons for you again someday."

Alyssa smiles a bit. "The loss of a sword is not nothing, sir Jarik." She nods absently to the cats… "Of course."

Jarik tilts his head, "More than you know M'lady… more than you know. Anyway, shall we see the rest of the city then?"

The cat calls back, "And see to your pet. Its manners are horrible!"

The Vykarin snarls and kicks, trying to right itself. At last, it staggers to its hooves, tail lashing. It licks its lips, savoring where it bit the tail of that nasty cat. It snorts.

The hippogryph's eyes look dreamily at the golden coin. "Shiny shiny shiny… "

Alyssa nods her head. "Very well then."

Jarik shakes his head slightly and mutters to himself, "Irreplacable… "

Alyssa follows Jarik, a bit more meek.

Jarik walks with Alyssa towards 'freedom Park'. He looks noticably upset.

The Zelaks follow Alyssa and Jarik, noncommittal.

Alyssa watches Jarik for a few moments, then slips something out of her cloak. "Here. Take this. You can buy a new sword with it… and more, I think." She pushes one of the larger ivory carvings at Jarik.

Jarik tilts his head, then smiles sorta sadly, "No… I can't M'lady. It was one of a kind."

Jarik says, "Besides, it's your birthday… keep it."

Alyssa frowns… "It's my birthday, and I can give presents if I wanna!" She stomps her foot. "At the very least you can use the money to buy information about that little thief."

Jarik says, "I've lost the gift my mentor gave me the day he knighted me… irreplacable."

Two skunks walk by, hand in hand, as they gaze lovingly in each others' eyes.

Jarik looks at Alyssa for a moment, then the statue. He takes it into his hands.

Freedom Park
Freedom park, itself, is not large, but quite green. Trees shade people as they walk among paths; statues devoted to various people of various races abound. A model of the First Ship lies in the center of the park.

Jarik says, "That sword… belonged to the very first paladin of Crydon, Alyssa. I've dishonored my own order by allowing its theft."

Alyssa scratches an ear. "Then we will just have to get it back, won't we?"

Jarik looks around, "This city is huge… I don't think thats possible." He sorta smirks, "Well, he at least can't melt it down… "

A juggler-bear shows off his talents. He's far more skilled than the three Kavis ever were; his hat is half-filled with shekels.

Alyssa taptaps her foot. "What, were you born yesterday? Sell the statue in another part of the city. Go back to where we first met Tirro and start asking questions."

Jarik chuckles to himself, "Hard to melt something made by a dragon."

Jarik looks at Alyssa, surprised, "You're… not as naieve as I thought… you know?"

The poodle chuckles softly and nods… "Exactly." She mimics her own voice… "My father is a noble, did I tell you?"

Jarik tilts an ear and laughs, "Good show M'lady."

A little white wolf cub peeks from behind a tree at a friend of his. "Look out! There is a dragon over there!" He gestures toward an oddly shaped statue that might, to young imaginations, indeed be a dragon.

A very young kavi blows bubbles, and chases after them, calling happily.

Another wolf cub, gray-furred, readies his wooden sword. "Aha! Have at thee, foul fiend!" He charges at the imagined dragon with a fierce battlecry … or as fierce as one can get from a cub.

Alyssa's eyes flash with humor for a moment, humor that is quickly disguised. "I will help you, if you wish. People often let slip things they shouldn't around me… for some reason." She offers a paw… "Deal?"

Jarik takes the paw, kisses the back, then shakes it, "It's a deal M'lady." He smiles.

The Zelaks, lacking the imagination of the cubs, pass them by as they escort Alyssa and Jarik.

Alyssa smiles and nods. "Deal." She slips a paw into Jarik's arm. "My father is a noble, did I tell you? He sent me on this trip, it's my birthday. I get my wish, anything I want on my birthday."

Jarik smiles and walks along with Alyssa, arm in arm.

Alyssa chatters on to Jarik, swaywalking with him as they take in the sights.

Jarik shakes his head a bit, chuckling as he walks along the paths in the park.

---

GMed by Greywolf & Lynx

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Today is 9 days before New Year's Day, Year 26 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6125)