Zoltan takes his 'family' to the Bazaar, and things begin to happen.
(Rephidim Bazaar) (Haji) (City of Hands) (Jynx) (Leeta) (Quicksilver) (Rephidim) (Taliamelle) (Rephidim Temple) (Zoltan)
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Bazaar by Daylight
Although Little Babel is definitely less active in light of recent developments, the Bazaar is still nearly as vibrant and active as ever, with more than enough sights and "bargains" to occupy anyone who dares to visit. The booths and makeshift shops are set up under the shadows of dilapidated buildings, the most noteworthy landmark being a clock tower that has frozen at noon (or midnight if you please). Occasionally, Temple Guard patrols of Jupanis and Zelaks make sure the peace is kept, but you still need to watch your purse.

A small form walks through the crush of the Bazaar, keeping to the shadows. Two black eyes peer intently out at the crowds, flitting back and forth from one person to the other, as if unable to keep to one thing for long. The hood of the cape is pulled back to reveal a pointed Kavi muzzle, snow white. Two black tipped ears flick, and she leans against the wall, tail twitching…

Zoltan ambles in slowly with a small spotted cub in his arms, and another clinging to his tail. He moves slowly, casually – since his companions aren't all that fast at walking, and have never seen anything like the Rephidim Bazaar before.

A Savanite with wild tangles of black hair and a somewhat scarred face – her forehead covered by a woven leather headband – follows behind the black Vartan, keeping a close watch on the two spotted cubs, and herding them in if they start to wander off before Zoltan can react.

A black Khatta walks from booth to booth, paws in pockets, looking for some way to spend his parents money. Arriving back in Rephidim wasn't as great as he thought it would be, after getting chewed out by Dominic about having no work ethic, not to mention the constant badgering by Eve about the 'dress' incident.

Taliamelle tags along behind Zoltan and the cubs with a bouncing gait, occasionally stopping to stare at pretty things in the booths. "Oooooh!"

Jezebel turns, looking at the winged feline with the heart-shaped spots. Although Taliamelle is following Zoltan as well, the Savanite doesn't "herd" the winged cub, though she is just as diligent in keeping an eye on her.

Taliamelle blinks softly at some beads in a booth, oblivious to being watch. She doesn't seem to be eager to run off anyway, but you never know…

"We're celebrating." Zoltan says to his companions in Vartanspeak while his hands flick in Savanite sign. "I will get you one present each here, and maybe some sweets later if it won't spoil your dinner."

A grizzled old wolf leans over, looking down at Taliamelle. "You like the beads, yes? Made of purest Bromthen ivory from the deepest Savan! And, look – carved with such intricate designs!" He says this loudly, more for the benefit of Zoltan, since a cub isn't likely to have the money for such baubles. "I think this would look just LOVELY on you. Don't you think so?"

The kavi, Quicksilver, looks over the bazaar, rubbing the two silvers she'd just gained. She looks around for a money changer, reluctant to carry such a heavy amount around in one place. She looks over, catching the voice of the Wolf. She walks over and nudges Zoltan. "Ivory are not… fakes are… " she notes.

Taliamelle backs away from the wolf a few steps. "You loud man," she says a bit nervously, then runs back to the Vartan.

The one-eyed wolf snorts, leaning back into his booth. "Well!" he says to his two Savanite slaves, "Of COURSE I'm loud. None louder, eh?" He laughs roughly.

Jynx begins to spy around for anyplace that would be serving food at this time of day. Rephidim food isn't as good as the Chronotopian food, but hunger is hunger.

Another Savanite, some distance away, is examining the sugared nuts and hard candy on display at a mobile cart. She's trying to make a selection. The merchant, for the moment, hasn't chased her off. She moves to another basket, sniffing, as her ears flick in her red mane.

Taliamelle sucks her thumb, staring after the wolf wide-eyed.

Zoltan pats Taliamelle's shoulder. "Fake, you say?" He scrawks to the Kavi, then looks back to the wolf.

An aroma drifts through the air, reaching Jynx's nose. Something meaty, cooked, and somewhat spicy…

The wolf frowns. "Fake? Did I hear someone say FAKE? Never a fake from Honest Makah!" He crosses his arms, looking quite offended, then breaks out of the stance to scratch at his eyepatch.

Zoltan kneels down to whisper to Taliamelle, "What is your favorite color?"

The two spotted cubs bounce up and down, trying to reach some fragile-looking glasswares on a tall table at another booth.

Jynx inhales the aroma deeply, and in regular gluttonous adolescent fashion, follows the smell to its source.

Quicksilver nods. "Not selling," she notes in a quick, chirpy voice. Her clothes don't look as old or tattered or plain dirty as most Kavi in the Bazaar, one might note. "And Honest Makah being honest as kavi, thinking." She winks at the little girl, and walks away. Something falls out of her pouch, a large, gold ring, with a huge ruby. She doesn't notice, but talks to a moneychanger…

Taliamelle looks up at Zoltan. "Purp'e!" she says, not bothering to whisper back.

The red-maned Savanite's ears flick again at a familiar accent. She looks up, and sees Honest Makah, and his customers. She tenses, ready to bolt, then relaxes. They haven't seen her. She watches, and looks for a more inconspicuous spot to be in.

The black Vartan squawks something to the older Savanite behind him and points to the two cubs. Then he spies the ring on the ground, he picks it up and examines it, then squawks even louder, "Yark, Kavi! You drop you shiny!"

The aroma leads Jynx across the street, past a candy booth with a red-haired Savanite, over to a place with a sign outside that reads, "Rughrat Roundup."

Jezebel only shrugs, looking unconcerned. The cubs can't possibly reach the breakables…

Quicksilver's head turns, the coppers she has gained being put in half a dozen stashes over her body. She looks up to see the Savanite… and stops. Her mind flicks back to where she's seen her before. "Girl watching warrents." she notes to herself, moving off to stand near the red-haired cheetah.

Taliamelle watches the shiny ring, full of curiosity.

"Eep!" squeaks the Kavi, her head jerking up and her weak concentration broken. She runs over. "Oh many many thanks being!"

Leeta ducks down, as she sees Zoltan looking around for the Kavi near her.

With eyes closed and a stupid hungry grin on his face Jynx blindly makes his way towards the booth, not watching where he goes or who he may hit.

Zoltan holds the ring out to the Kavi. "You lucky I like shinies I pay for better than shinies that get dropped."

Pouncer looks at Enos, stopping from bouncing. Then, she reaches down, picking him up. At first, he squirms, but somehow Pouncer manages to calm him down as she puts him up on her shoulders.

The two spotted cats aren't looking when a black Khatta bumbles into them…

Taliamelle's ears droop, seeing the shiny change hands. She runs off to the two cubs, bumping into Jynx as well on the way.

Jezebel, distracted by the gold ring, looks back just in time to see disaster in action!

The red-maned Savanite grabs a handful of hard candy, and drops more coins than she needs too in payment. Slipping the sweets into her robe, she looks for someplace more concealing, while still trying to watch the Vartan and scared Savanite. She slips into the Rughrat Roundup.

Jynx's bliss is broken as he goes flying head over heels, tumbling along with the cubs towards the ground. He opens his eyes just in time to see the pavement connect with his face.

Quicksilver snuffs. "Very valuable is." she notes, and looks at her pouch, putting her finger through a hole. "Time getting for new pouch, yes?" she says with a sheepish grin. She rummages around for some coins. "Reward wanting?"

Pouncer squeals, "HELLLLLLLLP!" in Vartan, as she and Enos go stumbling into the table and glasswares, falling in with Jynx. *crash* *sounds of very many fragile things breaking into little pieces, intermixed with loud exclamations*

Quicksilver eeps! Her head jerks around and spies the chaos, her hand still holding some coppers…

Taliamelle blinks, for a moment, stunned, then starts screaming as well.

"Thankyouverymuchbutthatnotnessicary-AWK!!!" He rushes after the cubs and tries to throw himself over them, protecting them from any shards of falling glass.

A startled Zerda proprietor shrieks, then starts babbling in some foreign tongue.

Quicksilver shudders and looks around for the red-heading cheetah, spotting the tail entering the shop.

Enos sits on the ground, amidst broken pieces of glass, holding a shard in one hand and licking it vigorously.

Jynx picks himself up from the ground, now with a headache. The fact that a bunch of cubs are screaming right next to him doesn't help any, and he clasps his paws to his ears.

Pouncer looks curiously at Enos, then picks up a shard and takes a bite out of it, crunching noisily.

The red-maned Savanite stands inside the doorway of the Rughrat, looking out. In the shade of the interior, her hair looks more like a light brown. Leeta watches the drama up the street. {They couldn't have known I would be here, could they?}

Taliamelle yanks on Jynx's shirt.

Zoltan swats the bits of glass out of the cub's hands, and then looks into Pouncer's mouth to check for cuts. "Are both of you alright?" He squawks in Vartan.

A group of errand-running Savanites walks by, looking at the disaster, then moving along quickly, before anyone can grab them to help clean up the mess.

Quicksilver presses a few ceramic shekels into the Vartan's hands during the chaos, and looks around, grumbling to herself about all the noise…

Jynx, still wincing, looks over at the… uh… whatever she is, looking at her questioningly.

Pouncer finishes gobbling down the shard, then offers one to Zoltan.

Zoltan blinks at the shard, and gives it an experimental lick.

Jynx. o O ( They make em stranger and stranger all the time, don't they… )

The shard isn't glass at all. It's sweet, as if made almost entirely of sugar.

Taliamelle backs off from Jynx, running over to peer out from behind Jezebel. "Kitt' clumsy," she understates. "So I be."

Leeta watches horrified as the cub eats the shard of glass, then blinks as Zoltan starts to as well.

Quicksilver closes her eyes, finding it painful to concentrate during all this mess. She sits down.

Jezebel looks as if she's in hysterics, yanking shards away from the cubs, and trying to keep them from picking up others.

Quicksilver leans against the wall of the Rhugrat, shuddering and breathing deeply.

Zoltan visibly relaxes, he scoops up both of the cubs and hugs them both… happy to see that they're alright.

Leeta grins, {Oh! It's some kind of candy! Maybe I should buy one of those for the guards.} She keeps watching, her tailtip twitching, she hasn't seen a cub Savanite in so long.

Jynx dusts himself off, "I'm not clumsy, I'm just… uncoordinated at the moment." The black Khatta grimaces, as his headache lingers,, then he spies the Vartan. "Hey… don't I know you from somewhere?"

Taliamelle hmphs, and walks over, gathering a bit of courage. She stamps Jynx lightly on the foot.

Jezebel finally figures out what is going on … and that the cubs are now a sticky mess with all the sugary sweets they've been consuming. She signs something to Zoltan, then herds them over to a water trough.

Quicksilver opens her eyes and looks up. Stupid … everything, she thinks. She looks over. Ahh! Cheetah-slave. This is a good thing. The Kavi flicks her hood over her face and watches Leeta watching the little cubs.

"Ouch! What was that for?" The Khatta, really just overreacting, stares at the Sphynx.

Taliamelle smiles up at Jynx a little too sweetly.

"Yah… you black Khatta that fall from sky, yes?" Zoltan squawks to Jynx as he brushes bits of candy from his coat.

Quicksilver's cape closes around her small sitting form, only her nose poking out. She *erhs* as someone whips a low-monetary coin at her head, thinking her a beggar.

Zoltan looks at the Zerda shopkeeper, he rubs his fingers together in a questioning gesture.

Jynx hmphs down at the Sphynx, then looks back up to Zoltan, "Well, yeah, I guess that's me," the Khatta chuckles, "Oh, hope the claw marks healed up by the way, sorry about that."

Taliamelle wanders about, picking up pieces of candy glass. She stuffs them in her side pouch for later. It bulges quite a bit now, suggesting a lot more things in Rephidim for her to pick up and collect.

The Zerda calms down a bit, and fires off a long stream of words to Zoltan … before calming down MORE and going to Rephidim Standard. "Are those your slaves?"

Zoltan sighs. "Er… yes, they are. How much I owe you for damage?"

The red-maned Savanite gives a quick look around the Rughrat, checking to make sure the owner, or the patrons aren't upset at her presence. They don't seem to be noticing her, or watching. As she looks back at the Vartan, her eyes flick over the beggar, and she recognizes the kavi as the one who heckled Nebo's poem.

The Zerda says, "Very special candies! But since it is accident, I only charge you ten shekels."

Jynx walks over to the Zerda, and in a very uncharacteristic gesture of goodwill offers to pay, "Well, it was kinda my fault, and I do owe him a favor… "

Taliamelle reaches for a piece just as Jynx steps on it. "hey!"

Taliamelle yanks softly on Jynx's leg.

"Coins good being," thinks the Kavi, making a mental note to kick the wolf who threw it at her. Her eyes, being all black, make it hard to tell what she's looking at, but with her muzzle facing ahead, the Savanite might get an eerie suspicion it's her.

Jynx digs in his pockets for the money, then looks down at the Sphynx, "Yes?"

Haji, bearing a sapling in a pot, shuffles through the crowds. The branches block most of his vision, making a slow pace necessary…

The Zerda says, "Yes, yes! Just so I get paid for broken wonderfully sweet and delicious and beautiful to look at bauble-candies!"

Taliamelle gives Jynx a mixed look. "Shin' glass… " she starts to explain, then stops, peering up at the big cat.

"I just grateful they not real glass." Zoltan scrawks. He looks back to Taliamelle, "I buy you pretty purple beads today as gift… sound good?"

Leeta tries to keep an eye on the beggar now, and the Savanite cubs. The one with the wings surprises her the most. Her tailtip keeps twitching as she watches the cubs struggle with the other Savanite, resisting their bath.

Taliamelle forgets Jynx quickly, bouncing lightly. "Yay! Yes! Like ver' much!"

Jynx peers back at the cub, then just shrugs as her interests are suddenly changed. He digs 10 shekels out of his pockets, handing them to the Zerda, "Don't spend it all in one place."

The Zerda just nods and smiles. "Very beautiful, yes? Since you are so generous, I sell you two for price of one? Any two for one shekel!"

{Oh, she can talk, she just looks like a Savanite.} Leeta realizes, as she divides her attention between the kavi, the cubs with the Savanite, and the cub with the Vartan and Khatta.

The kavi sighs, letting her cape fall back as she's beaned with another coin. No need to hide, really, but it's such an instinctual gesture with her now. She chitters very softly to herself about all the mess. She intently keeps an eye on the cheetah, curious as a weasel about her involvement with her other job…

Zoltan looks over the wolf's wares… trying to find a nice set of shiny purple beads.

Jynx hmms, "Well, what's the usual price for one?"

Makah's wares are of the ivory variety, ranging slightly in colors, but pretty much hovering only between white to off-white.

A Savanite servant walks up behind Leeta, tapping her on the shoulder.

Leeta jumps, turning around to see who's behind her.

Taliamelle picks up a few more pieces, then frowns at the handful when she tries to put it in her pouch. "No more roo' " She tosses them down sadly.

The male Savanite, shorter than Leeta, signs, "Are you here to make an order for your master?"

Zoltan pats Taliamelle's head in sympathy then looks to Jynx. "So whats you doing in Rephidim… you lives here?"

Jynx hmms, looking down at the sad Sphynx. She may be a pest (and bear an uncanny likeness in personality to Eve), but she is just a kid. "Alright, I'll have two."

Leeta nods, pulling out the coins in her pocket to show them to the other Savanite. "He would like one Rughrat please, will this be enough?" She signs in formal.

The Zerda smiles, and gets out some wax paper to wrap up Jynx's choices. "Very good bargain, yes?" Her tail swishes back and forth behind her as she finishes tidying up the booth, sweeping out broken bits.

Jynx nods to Zoltan, "Lived here my whole life, if you don't count going down for employment trips to the surface every now and then."

A thin, lank and ratty Kavi shuffles over and tries to snatch the coins from Quicksilver. She jerks her head around… "Miki!" "Nikira!" they chirp at each other, hugging and chittering. "Been AGES since I've seen you! What EVER are you doing here, cousin?" asks the ermine Kavi in her native language. "Stealing and getting along, " mutters the light brown Kavi, shuffling his foot. He's a full two feet taller than Quicksilver. They talk for a while about old times, and Quicksilver loses track of the crowd.

The Savanite slave blinks widely, staggering back. "A whole one? I will see. Do you have a wagon?"

Jynx pays the Zerda, takes one of the baubles for himself, then bends down and offers the other to the Sphynx, "Here, how about you have a clean one?"

Leeta's tail twitches nervously, "I meant a sandwich, the biggest you have, he was not specific. I have never been here before." Her hands blur.

The shorter slave nods and looks slightly embarrassed. "Of course." A few more exchanges of questions about how it should be cooked, and such, and a juicy slab of meat with all the fixings is slapped in between two thick slices of bread and wrapped in paper for the red-haired Savanite.

Zoltan smiles, and then brightens. "You say employment… you workings now?"

Taliamelle's eyes go wide, quite surprised. "Than' you. Nice stranger" She beams, taking the glass, then goes to show the cubs.

Jynx grimaces and shakes his head, "Not at the moment. My last career choice met with certain… marital problems you might say." The Khatta chuckles at the Sphynx cub, then looks back up to Zoltan, "So its back to the drawing board for me."

Jezebel returns with two very sour-looking spotted feline cubs in tow. She looks up at the Vartan and black Khatta, then starts in surprise upon seeing Jynx.

The Savanite takes the wrapped sandwich and pays. Trying to come up with something to delay leaving just a moment longer, she signs, "Could I have a small glass of water please?" Leeta asks the shorter male.

The male servant nods, and heads off. He comes back with not a glass, but a cup fashioned from the shell of a large gourd. It holds water, though it's advisable NOT to set it down on a table while full.

The Khatta looks away from Zoltan, to see Jezebel. His heart sinks, "Oh, uh, hi again… " Jynx looks for a place to hide in case things get nasty.

Quicksilver turns her head, having send her younger cousin off with some money for her relatives, to watch Leeta again. Good, she thinks, she has not left yet.

The black Vartan waves to Jezebel and the cubs, and then rubs his beak thoughtfully. "My ma-… er Partner is goings to be building shop soon. Might need worker help. Keep in touch, I maybe helps you out."

Jezebel looks to Zoltan and signs something to him.

Immediately, Jezebel has to rush off and grab the cubs again, having reason to regret freeing her hands to sign, for they're down in the dirt, trying to scavenge some shards of the "glass" again. She shakes her head at them, giving them a scolding look.

The fire-haired cheetah takes the full cup, and starts drinking it from it. She peers over the rim, trying to spot someplace else she might hide outside on the street. Leeta watches Jezebel, intensely, and the two cubs with her, grinning at their antics and almost spilling her drink. She finishes the water and hands the gourd back to the other cheetah. "Thank you."

Jynx avoids eye contact with Jezebel, then looks back to Zoltan, "Really? Well, that would certainly make Dominic shut up for once. Who is your partner?"

Taliamelle holds her own glass cup like a trophy, waving it around playfully in the air.

Zoltan kneels down and motions for Pouncer to join him. "Nicodemus… he run shiny shop. Hrrr… " He glances nervously at the shatters bits of glass and nods to Jezebel.

Quicksilver steps away to another booth, half looking over the clothing there, mostly watching Leeta.

The male slave nods, taking the gourd and quickly disappearing amongst the clientele of the Rughrat Roundup. As for hiding places, the Bazaar has plenty of booths, tents, carts, wagons … and milling shoppers.

Jynx shrugs, "Well, anything to get a shekel or two. Just so long as it doesn't involve big Tigresses, templars, or dresses."

The proprietor of the booth, a brown Khatta with a white spot around one eye, watches Quicksilver closely, though not offering any assistance.

Leeta slips out into the crowd with her sandwich, in behind a small group of shoppers, pretending to be their slave. Using a passing cart, and then a slave carrying a tree as cover, she darts across the street into a tent a little further down, and keeps watching Zoltan, Jezebel and the kavi, and trying to stay out of their sight.

Taliamelle ews at the word 'dress'. "Ugl' sill' girl things." She shows Jynx her boy's attire proudly.

"Hrr… how good you is around delicate things?" Zoltan scrawks, fuzzling the little jaguar kit's headfur.

Speaking of Templars, a white-armored Khatta and Kattha walk down the street, magenta capes sweeping behind them, and Bazaar-goers keeping clear as the feline patrol passes by.

Quicksilver starts to ask about a dress, a simply cut but wonderful cream colored item, when she realized the Savanite has slipped out of her view. She jerks her head around.

The black Khatta flat out lies, "Oh, I have the touch of a butterfly!"

Zoltan glances back at Jezebel, then looks to Jynx. "I talk to my partner abouts it. We see, or maybe he can fix you up with work someplace else."

Jynx smiles, "Great! Thanks a lot, now I owe you even more than before. And don't worry, I won't break a thing!"

Leeta sees the two templars, and pulls back into the shadows a little more. {I want to talk to her, but not now. Good, she didn't see Third-Eye.} She waits as the patrol passes.

Quicksilver grumbles, loosing the cat in the press… so many slaves, and no way to smell them apart, as it were. "So, dress, how much wanting," she asks the proprietor.

The merchant at the dress booth answers, "A bargain, at only forty shekels."

Zoltan hoists Pouncer up on his shoulder and lets her look around from seven feet up in the air.

A short fox in foppish attire rushes up to the Templars, bouncing in front of them, waving his hands vigorously. They wave him away, their masked faces giving no hint as to their expressions.

Taliamelle, in the meantime, uses a shard to draw in the dirt, stooping down.

Pouncer laughs, and holds her arms out to each side. She scrawks in Vartanspeak, "I'm FLYING!" Enos looks jealous.

Jezebel sighs and hoists up Enos, letting him ride on HER shoulders. He begins squealing loudly and happily, waving his arms in wide circles.

Taliamelle looks up. "Wha' bout me?"

Jynx chuckles at the quartet, "Cute kids, whose are they?" (And what are they?)

The red-maned Savanite grins at the Vartan carrying the cub. {Thats a funny noise for them to make. That Vartan doesn't look as frightening with a cub on his shoulders, and he is being gentle with them.} Her ears wiggle, and she keeps peering across the street.

"They are my children… " Zoltan answers, and doesn't offer anything else beyond that answer.

The two Templars halt, looking toward the talking spotted cats hoisted up on the shoulders of the Vartan and Savanite. The Rose Templar begins striding through the crowd, followed by the Lancer.

Taliamelle tugs on Jynx's leg again. "You fly me?"

Jynx looks confused, but just shrugs. He's getting used to strange answers all the time. The Khatta then looks down at the Sphynx cub, "Uhh, fly you?"

Taliamelle points at Zoltan. "Fun! Yes!"

{Oh NO!} Leeta darts out into the traffic again, working towards the templars. {What am I doing? What am I going to say? She'll kill her right here.}

Quicksilver stands as straight as possible, looking amused but insulted. "Ah ha, stupid thinking, yes? Hardly 10 shekels, yes? To cover dirty floor!" She loves bartering, her tailtip twitching.

Zoltan bounces Pouncer up and down a little, then looks nervously at the Templar. He continues to play with the cub to keep her from getting frightened.

The merchant gasps. "How dare you! Why, I am already selling this at a loss! Can't you see the fine fabric? As much as it hurts me, I can lower my price to thirty-five, but no lower!"

Quicksilver's head flicks around, noting the darting motion… ah! There's the quarry. She doesn't move, but keeps a much closer eye, yet her face pointed to the shopkeeper.

"Sure, why not?" The Khatta bends down to let the cub hop on. He and Eve used to do this too, but when she got older, she gained the bad habit of kicking.

Pouncer seems to be oblivious to the armored warrioresses approaching Zoltan and his family. She's more intent on enjoying flight.

Quicksilver rubs the fabric. "Tich." she notes, "Thin, so is, breeze blowing through would," she continues, "but not unkind am… 17? Maybe 20, stitching nice… "

Taliamelle flaps her wings a bit, riding Jynx's shoulder and pulling very lightly on his hair. "Whee!"

The merchant gasps. "You steal shek – food from the mouths of my poor starving children! If you must, thirty, but tell not a soul, or everyone will insist on robbing me blind!"

The red-maned Savanite slips into Zoltan's line of sight, and stares at him. Fire-Mane signs, "Leave!" in a large gesture in front of her, as the Templars approach the Vartan.

Jynx winces at the fur-pulling, but still chuckles a bit, "Alright kiddo, where to?"

Jezebel notices the sign, and looks annoyed at a slave who would command Zoltan … then starts as she notices just WHO it is doing the signing.

Zoltan blinks for a moment, recognizing the red-haired slave. He squawks something and starts to back away.

Leeta slips into the doorway of another shop before the Templars turn around and see her. {What did I do that for? Why? Oh Star, what if Cloud Mark saw me?}

Quicksilver's eyes grow wide at the action, her head turning slightly to watch it closer, but trying to keep one ear on the deal, "25 shekel, and not talking children of! Be stealing shekel like t'ief being from me!"

Jynx, with cub still on shoulders, blinks at the Vartan and Savanite's reaction, "Whats the matter?"

The merchant frowns. "Oh! Woe is me! Why must the First Ones bring ruin to an honest merchant? Alas, I and my family will have to go without food tonight, but in the interest of pleasing the customer … twenty eight shekels?"

Taliamelle gives a questioning look to Zoltan, then quickly give Jynx a slobbery kiss on the head. "Bye-bye nice stran'er" She clambers down Jynx, and runs over to Zoltan without further ado.

The Champion of Roses jerks her head in the direction of the red-haired Savanite, and abruptly changes her course, moving to intercept the cheetah, her Lancer following in step.

"Just remembered important business." Zoltan scrawks, he lowers Pouncer down from his shoulders and turns around to leave.

Jezebel pries Enos off her shoulders, wincing as her hair is yanked, and then cradles him in her arms so he won't run off somewhere to sulk.

Jynx wobbles a bit as he is used for a ladder, then just watches the group curiously. "Well, thanks for the offer, talk to you again later."

The Kavi argues no more, but drops two tenners and seven shekels on the table. "Done!"

The merchant smiles, taking the shekels and handing the dress to the Kavi.

Zoltan signs something to Jezebel and points to his back.

The red-maned Savanite pants in the doorway, forcing herself to calm down as the Templars approach, {Got to be calm… pretend I've been running. If they can't tell the difference, it might as well be true. If I pretend nothing happened, nothing happened. I want to talk to her, must be brave, thats it.} She tries to still her twitching tail, and just breathes.

Jezebel looks alarmed, but then hands Enos over to Zoltan.

Dress folded under her arm, Quicksilver moves over nearer to Leeta, tail bottle-brushing with interest. Quarry really seems to be quarry, she thinks.

Zoltan takes up the second cub and kneels down. He squawks something to Taliamelle.

Jynx backs up a bit to do some more money wasting, but keeps an eye on the cat-Vartan group, ( Hmm, some people sure are strange… )

The Champion of Roses catches up with Leeta. She doesn't say or sign anything, just standing there, hands at her weapons belt, staring severely at the slave through a white mask marked with two red "tears".

Jezebel frowns at the loss of dignity, but grabs onto Zoltan's back, holding onto him, over his pack.

Taliamelle's ears perk. "I try. Zooom… " she answers, again not concerned about anyone else listening. She motions the cup upward slowly.

Leeta stands with her head bowed, even so, she is still looking down at the Champion. She avoids looking at her eyes and formal signs, "Yes Master?" still holding the sandwich in the other hand.

Zoltan finds an open space in the crowd and snaps his wings open. Hopefully the shoppers have sense enough to avoid the blast of wind from he wings. He glances at Taliamelle and then leaps up into the air, a cub in each arm and a Savanite clinging to his back.

The Lancer behind the Champion cries out, "Mistress! Look!" She points at the departing Vartan and the spotted felines in his arms – and on his back – as several Bazaar-goers get clear, a few muttering about 'inconsiderate fliers' or something to that effect.

Taliamelle flitters after Zoltan a bit clumsily, then takes off, making a flip in the air. "Whee! Better than kitt'! Yes!"

"I need to speak to you." Leeta adds, hiding the gesture by putting her hand on her package.

Zoltan rises upwards and scans the area below. He finds a rooftop some distance away and sets himself down.

Taliamelle swoops down after Zoltan, the look on her face like that of a dive-bomber.

The ermine watches the fingers flit on the flame-furred Savanite. Pity she doesn't understand them, but what can one do? She moves rather too close to the group, bumping into the back one.

Quicksilver quickly backs away, hoping she wasn't noticed. It's too dangerous to watch…

The Lancer in a flash of motion whips out both blades from behind her back.

Leeta freezes, her teeth clenching.

The Kavi has already turned, pretending to be intently interested in something else on a nearby table

The Champion of Roses looks back to Leeta, after looking in the direction of the Vartan, in the direction of the Kavi … and now back to the slave. She holds out an open hand, and makes an "out with it" motion toward the red-haired Savanite.

With a single *shink*, both of the Lancer's blades slip into their sheaths behind her head. She looks away from Leeta, watching the Champion's back for the time being.

Quicksilver shuffles away with a sidestep motion of her feet. Oh gosh, not paying attention is gonna kill me one day, she thinks to herself, shuddering. Still, she's fascinated to find out that her quarry and her new 'job' both have something to do with the Temple.

Zoltan pats Taliamelle on the head. "You're in charge now. Keep everyone out of trouble." He starts to work his way over the rooftops to a spot where he can see Leeta and the Champion again.

Taliamelle blinks, and looks after Zoltan.

{Must relax! Must relax! They couldn't have seen me sign, they couldn't have. What to say, what to say?} Leeta puts the bundle she is carrying at her feet, then straightens, "I need to talk to Da… Ibis. You were wrong about Moffat."

The kavi moves right across the bazaar, over to a food booth. She orders a surprising amount of something spicy and meaty and nibbles on it, sitting to watch the show at a very secure distance, she prays.

The Champion of Roses shakes her head, and starts to turn away.

Taliamelle walks over to the cubs. "Oka'. I in charge so you liste' me. We… play game!"

Pouncer sighs loudly … but Taliamelle IS bigger … and with wings! Pouncer and Enos nod, listening.

"No! Wait!" Leeta signs, an explanation coming to her mind, "I need help, someone I can trust."

The Champion pauses, looking at Leeta again, silent as ever.

Zoltan sits and watches silently from his roost.

Taliamelle smiles and pats the cubs on the head, then pulls out a few glass shards. "I call this… " she thinks a moment, "Toruche!" She giggles, and arranges the shards, then starts making up rules.

Enos licks his lips and reaches for the nearest shard.

Taliamelle says, "Sky is blue, pic' up two, play some more, put dow' four… " She blinks at Enos, "No! Eatin' is for winner. Yes!""

Biting down on a bad piece of spicy-something, Quicksilver spits it out and wishes she had bothered to learn that silly Savanite finger-tricks. Considering her grasp of regular language is iffy, this is only an idle wish.

"There are people who think I have Moffat's secrets, and they are following me." The fire-haired Savanite signs, thinking {This is truer than I'd wish.} then gesturing. "I don't know what to do, I'm afraid they'll try to kill me to keep them lost."

The Champion nods … then waves a hand to the Lancer, and points at the Lancer's belt. The Lancer responds by pulling a couple of shackles from her belt joined by a chain … and slaps one of them on Leeta's wrist.

Quicksilver chitts! Well well, someone seems in a lot of trouble. Bad temple slave? she wonders.

Leeta swallows, as the shackle is snapped around her wrist. Is isn't very hard to pretend she's a slave about to be severely punished, not very hard at all. She bows her head, and waits meekly.

The kavi shudders. Poor thing. She feels it would be useless to trail any further.

The Lancer secures Leeta's hands behind her back, then prods her forward, as the Champion walks beside, her cold gaze warning off any who would stand in her way or get too close to her prisoner.

The Vartan's eyes narrow. He rises to his feet and rushes back as quietly as he can to Jezebel. "Some templars just arrested Fire-Mane!"

Jezebel looks to Zoltan with wide eyes. "Arrested? You h – " She drops her hands, letting her thought, whatever it was, fall away.

The shackled Savanite walks, stumbling as she is prodded. She lets the lancer push her in whatever direction she wants, not entirely sure where they are taking her anyhow. She keeps her head bowed, and hopes this isn't for real.

Zoltan looks back in the direction of the departing Templars and then signs, "Can you get children home alright? Shouldn't be hard to climb down."

Quicksilver eats down several dozen spicybits. She looks around. This situation with the red-haired Savanite should be thought upon further, though. She dares not trail, but perhaps she'll see the girl around during her scout… or her job.

Leeta's ears flick as she walks in the shackles ahead of the Templars.

Jezebel looks over the edge, sighing loudly, then nods. "I will manage."

The Vartan nods and follows along after the Savanite from above.

The Templars lead Leeta to a couple of horse-like Drokars, caparisoned in magenta. The Champion pauses to check Leeta's restraints, before loading her up on the back of one of the mounts. The two Templars ride off through the streets.

Zoltan's wings snap open as he follows the Drokars from above. ( Did they arrest her for warning us? )

The Champion pauses, reaching back to unfasten Leeta's shackles and hands them back over to the Lancer.

The fire-haired Savanite bounces on the back of the Drokar, trying to balance as she sits sidesaddle. When her hands are freed she holds tightly to the saddle and waits.

Zoltan follows from above, doing his best to keep the two mounts in his line of vision, but keeping himself out of sight at the same time.

The Templars ride up to the Temple, their Drokars slowing pace. They dismount, the Champion letting the Lancer help Leeta down. A couple of Acolytes come to watch the mounts.

Leeta slides to the ground with the Champion's help, and keeps her head bowed. "Thank you." She waits to see what Cloud Mark might ask her.

The black hippogryph alights on the roof of a nearby building and watches quietly. ( She's unchained… and, thanking them? )

The Champion doesn't say anything to Leeta. She just leads Leeta over to the shadow of a statue, letting her billowing cape block prying eyes as she takes off her gauntlets and puts them at her weapon belt. Unseen by anyone else, she signs something to Leeta.

Zoltan squints his eyes and frowns.

The Savanite nods, her arms moving as she signs a hidden reply. Her posture is still tense, but she dares to look up at the Champion.

The Champion shakes her head, almost imperceptibly.

Zoltan sighs, wishing he could make the handsigns out. He takes comfort in the fact that it seems Leeta has not been arrested, perhaps the guards was right… perhaps she is a very important temple slave.

The Savanite slumps, staring openly at the Champion's mask, with it's red tears, her own almost forming. There is shrug through her shoulders as she signs some more.

The Champion nods, then places a bare hand on the Savanite's shoulder … then just as quickly jerks it away, and nods again.

Leeta sighs, her arms moving again, her handsigns concealed, and her body showing only sadness.

The Champion shakes her head. Again, there's no way to see her hands.

The Savanite nods, looking down again. A brief movement showing another invisible exchange.

The Champion nods again, then puts on her gauntlets, turning away, her cape swirling behind her.

The Vartan glances at the exiting Champion, and then looks back to Leeta.

A couple of winged felines walk down the street, scrawking cheerily at each other, their tails weighed down heavily by multi-colored broken bits of glass strung around them.

Leeta sits down on the base of the statue, looking at her hands, trying to calm down and figure out just what happened. {Why did I do that, what was I worried about? Would she even recognize her, I don't know. Oh, my legs won't stop jumping still from this.}

The two Templars ride away on their brightly adorned Drokars.

The Savanite glances around suddenly, looking for Kavis in the shadows, and strange Siamese. She doesn't see any, just the temple guards, and the templars riding away. She's safe here, for the moment. She looks up to see whose shadow she is in.

Zoltan peers out from his perch, watching as the champion and the Lancer exit. He looks back at the ground and the people below to see if it's safe to land.

A humanoid form, elongated unrealistically to achieve even more impressive heights, stands in the alcove, adorned in a uniform with the symbol of the Star and Anchor plainly visible. The visage, evidently human, has been so badly eroded away that its features are nearly smooth, looking down at Leeta with a blank face.

The Savanite smiles up at the statue, {I can pretend it's you Tahir, watching over me. I went out for candy, and I came back with a problem again.} Her tailtip twitches as she looks over the smooth, worn statue.

A scent reaches Leeta's nose. It smells like roast Rughrat and spices. It comes from a paper-wrapped bundle sitting on a nearby ledge.

Zoltan looks out towards Leeta, then plucks a feather from his wing and sets it loose on the winds towards the Savanite.

The Savanite reaches over and takes the paper, undoing it. {I wonder what a Savanite eating a sandwich under a statue means, on Moffat's list. Well, at least I am done with the deaths.} She bites into the meal, as the feather drifts down.

The black feather lands, spinning on the cobbles between her feet. Leeta looks at it, then looks slowly upwards at the sky.

The big juicy slab of Rughrat meat is, without a doubt, simply delicious. While Tahir is indeed treated to the finest the Temple has, there's still something special about such lavish simplicity … and a special secret mix of herbs and spices only found at the Rughrat Roundup, as the cook would say.

Zoltan stands up from his perch on the roof. "Thank you." He signs slowly, and then bows… much in the manner a slave would bow to one's master.

Leeta nods, looking at the Vartan, not knowing what to sign, and keeping her hands on her meal. She looks to the guards, checking they are in sight of her still, then back at the black bird. The Savanite breaks the bun and sets half the sandwich down on the pedestal beside her, a little distance away.

Zoltan blinks, he points to his chest, points to the sandwich half, and then makes a questioning gesture.

The Savanite nods, her red-mane bobbing about her ears.

Zoltan smiles and glides down from the rooftop. He takes a seat on the bench and gently picks up the food. "Again, thank you," he signs.

Leeta looks over at the Vartan, her eyes blinking and a small shine against their lower lids, "You have such nice cubs." She signs, not knowing really knowing why she does.

Zoltan nibbles at the sandwich. "I found them on sky island abouts a month ago. They parents were dead, so Third-Eye and I take them. Little girl is named Pouncer, she oldest and gets into most trouble. Younger boy is Enos, he picks up where he sister leaves off."

"They shouldn't be here, it will only be bad for them." The Savanite remembers who she is talking to. "I'm sorry master, I didn't mean it that way… oh… "

Leeta shrugs her shoulders, and chews on her sandwich.

"I am not you master, please… tell me what on you mind?" Zoltan signs, then looks down at some crumbs he spilled on the ground. "I thought about dyeing they fur to hide spots… but would have been mean to do to someone so young."

Leeta almost chokes on a bite, then coughs, and manages to swallow properly. "Something to hide for everyone. The Temple will kill you and Third-Eye, if they find you. The Champion of Roses will most likely as well, I don't know, she might not. I thought of turning you both in, I'm still thinking about it. Too much is going on, I never get to think."

The Vartan almost drops his sandwich. "We being hunted? he signs nervously.

The Savanite keeps blinking her eyes, looking down at the cobbles, thinking about Pouncer and Enos, struggling in the water trough. She sighs heavily, feeling a dampness down the her black muzzle marks. "I can't say, I don't know, Third Eye was at least, but not by the temple."

The Vartan nods. "Lord Titus wanted her back, think he used her for his mind magic things… but now that he dead, we thought problems were over." He plucks another one of his feathers and offers it to Leeta to use as a makeshift handkerchief.

A line of cubs and kits wearing brown uniforms of the Temple Scouts marches by, led by a female Jupani Lieutenant of the Guard.

Leeta holds the feather, turning it over and over, looking at the pattern spread out from the shaft. She puts both it, and her sandwich down. "Lord Titus was killed, by Arch Inquisitor Ceasar Moffat. He has a very long list of people who are to die. Jezebel was on it, and I guess he means Third Eye by that. There is no reason for it all, he is just ridding himself of people he believes are his enemy."

"You are on it as well, I think. I will have to look. No one will believe you, if you tell them. It cannot be traced back to him in any way, and I am easily disposed of." The fire haired Savanite continues signing.

Leeta's ears flick, and she wipes her eyes with the feather now. "Despite my importance," she finishes.

"I do not know who this Moffat is… but… " The Vartan looks at his hands for a long moment before continuing. "There are many that I would not blame for thinking of her as enemy. It took almost losing her life to change her ways, children have helped… they bring out a patience and gentleness in her that not there before."

The fire-haired Savanite nods, not knowing what to sign, and just looking at her feet.

Zoltan nods. "I stole from Titus before we left on ship after you sister to Savan. He had crystal hands that not belong to him."

The Vartan looks at Leeta's hands. "If you want, you can ask me questions about her… I answer."

Leeta looks up at Zoltan, {I wish I could believe you, I wish I could just know. I can't let go that easily.} Her hands rise to finally sign, "What does she want, why is she here."

"She being tested. Her and Emerald-Eyes over who is to become next Priest-King." Zoltan signs. "As to why Rephidim, is my home. We join up on ship that go out exploring sky islands, that where we find Pouncer and Enos. Then ship return here for captain and crew." He sighs. "She not wish anymore harm to you… after what happen to us on Paradys, we both seen enough death to last us forever."

The fire-haired Savanite notices another slave, out of the corner of her eye. One that has been standing on the steps a bit too long. He looks too old to be a heavy laborer, and has an odd bearing. He posture is one of an important slave, even though his attire suggests he isn't. She doesn't turn her head, but tries to watch him still, and makes a very quiet growl.

Zoltan looks up to examine the slave. (Dagh blastit… stupid bird! Stupidstupidstupid!)

"It's alright." Zoltan whispers. He motions for the Savanite to join them if he wishes.

The slave appears to be looking elsewhere, but he smiles faintly … and walks over to the Vartan and Savanite, closing the distance quickly with his long strides, though he doesn't look hurried in the least.

Leeta was about to rise, then relaxes back down. She wipes with the feather at her eyes again, her hand rising to check the scarf around her throat.

"This is Twilight-Wing." Zoltan whispers softly. "One who Savanites sent observe and test Third-Eye."

The tall male cheetah smiles as he looks from Zoltan to Leeta, then bows his head to the latter. He signs, "I am Twilight-Wing, who served your ancestors. It is an honor to meet you at last, Princess Fire-Mane."

Leeta stares up at the tall Savanite, her whiskers curling forward, "Princess?" Her eyes show the stunned blankness in her mind.

Zoltan offers Twilight-Wing a portion of his sandwich. "Think you best to tell story." he signs with his free hand.

Twilight-Wing nods. "Yes, and one of seven, just as your mother was of seven. In fact, your mother, Creen-Song, was the seventh of seven."

Fire Mane's ears start to wiggle, and she shakes her head. {All I wanted was some candy.} She can't stop the giggle. "It was just a small tribe, I'm not a princess."

Zoltan keeps his eyes open for any that might be watching the handsigns of the two Savanites a bit too closely.

Everyone is looking away. Even people who walk by just … look away. There's something eerie about this.

Twilight-Wing signs, "Your tribe is much larger now. And it will be larger yet. The Empire will rise again, under a new Priest-King."

The Vartan shakes his head and just gives Twilight-Wing a look. He grumbles and goes back to eating his sandwich.

"What Priest King? What Empire, Savanites are just… " Leeta hears Tahir's words again, 'I wouldn't have believed the Savanites to become slaves'. "I do not understand, Twilight Wing, I've never heard of any of these things."

Twilight-Wing signs, "That is unfortunate, that your mother chose to shield you from these truths. Two of your sisters – the eldest and youngest – accepted them. I have just learned, having been out of contact with our people for so long, that the younger has dropped the candidacy for her claim as the new Priest-King. That leaves only one candidate. It has not been an easy decision, but I am preparing my report to the Twelve-times-Twelve."

Zoltan's feathers puff out a bit at this… this is news to him as well.

Leeta signs, "What will you say? What about Long Lope, or Moon Brow, or Storm Hand and Cloud Mark?"

Twilight-Wing signs, "None of them came forth to lay claim to the throne of the Priest-King."

"Do they know?" Fire Mane asks.

"Storm hand did." Zoltan signs, he looks to Twilight-Wing for confirmation on this.

Twilight-Wing says, "That is not likely, save for Storm-hand." He nods to Zoltan. "But it is no matter. Third-Vision, by tradition, has the greatest claim. There was only a matter of candidacy because of the intervention of Creen-Song and the challenge by Princess Emerald-Eyes."

Leeta's ears start wiggling again, and she can't help but shake her head in a 'no no no' gesture. "So thats it? Third Eye is the Priest King of this new Savanite Empire now? After all she did to us, after all that happened, it turns out she was right all along, and everyone else was wrong?"

Twilight-Wing signs, "This is not a matter of 'right' or 'wrong'. This is a matter of who is best suited, by claim and by ability, to lead our people."

"No!" Zoltan says sharply, then drops back into sign. "Was not right for what she did to you, she will forever be sorry. Her year on Rotten Eye make her very bitter… "

"But you already said Emerald Eyes withdrew, that Third Eye has the best claim, and no one else came forward… " Leeta looks quickly ove rat Zoltan's outburst, then just adds another name to the list of things she's never heard. Looking back at Twilight Wing, her hands slowly form, "… and you're making your report to recommend her?"

Twilight-Wing signs, "There is only one candidate."

Zoltan keeps his hands on his lap, he watches the two quietly… unsure of what else he can sign.

Fire-Mane stares up at Twilight Wing, one question sitting unsigned on her fingers. She feels just as she did when she opened the safe and saw the folders. She just has to reach out, and take it.

Twilight-Wing looks to Zoltan, then back to Fire-Mane.

Zoltan sighs and nods to himself. As much as he wants Jezebel to become Priest-King…

{Do I want this? Not the power, but… can I just let her take it? Without knowing?} Thoughts of Tahir, Ibis, Long Lope, Cloud Mark, Reseth, Naoko, Blasek, Null, all the other Savanites, people she cares deeply about, or barely even knows, spin around in her mind. {Does Third Eye care enough to make sure no one gets hurt? Could she be trusted… }

Leeta signs, "If… I asked to be considered, Twilight Wing… what would happen?"

"Emerald-Eye's watcher still in Rephidim?" Zoltan signs.

Twilight-Wing shows no expression as he signs, "You would have to travel to the City of Hands, to ask your mother Creen-Song to speak in your behalf before the Twelve-times-Twelve, unless your sister, Third-Vision, demands that you be given consideration." He looks to Zoltan, and shakes his head. "Princess Emerald-Eyes has returned to the City of Hands, and is staying there with her mother."

Twilight-Wing signs, "If you wish to be considered to be the leader of all our people, Princess Fire-Mane, you will have to make decisions. Our leader cannot be at the behest of another. Our leader cannot have a master."

Leeta signs, "Can our leader have friends?"

"If you want to go to city, I help get you there." Zoltan signs. "Or I talk with Third-Eye abouts you getting consideration… I sure she grant it."

Twilight-Wing signs, "That is a question for philosophers. Now then, if you will excuse me, Princess, I must be going. I have work to do." He bows, and leaves the Temple.

Leeta stares at the Savanite walking back up to the temple.

Zoltan sits quietly, hands folded in his lap as he watches the Savanite quietly.

"I have a friend here Zoltan, to protect, and that needs me. I told him I would stay." Leeta starts to cry, uncontrolled "All my life, I've lost people. They just go, they're taken, they leave, and they never say goodbye. He needs me, he really needs me, and he's not like anyone else, he's not my master."

Leeta signs, "He's my friend, and he really needs a friend right now, and I'm not going to just give him up. I can't, I can't go, I won't go, I won't leave him alone with no one to help him, like I was. Just to be some princess somewhere."

Zoltan scoots closer to Leeta and offers her another feather/hanky. "I wish I could comfort you mind somehow. I know what it feel like though… when I very young, I push my father away – and I never see him again since." He reaches out and gently puts a hand on Leeta's shoulder. Light enough so that she could shrug him off if she wished, or move closer.

"I don't know if Third Eye can lead, I don't know anything anymore." Leeta doesn't shrug off his hand, she just keeps signing. "I could go right now, I could ask and he would let me go, I know he would. He doesn't want to see the Savanites slaves, he doesn't like what he sees as much as I do… but, what kind of leader would I be, to abandon the one person who needed me the most."

"Your master is unusual… would it help if I explain things from Third-Eye's point of view? You no have to believe be… and I not going to try and justify that what she do was right… just explain." Zoltan signs.

"He's not my master, he's my friend, he's my best friend." Fire Mane signs, looking at the Vartan through her tear-clouded eyes. "What does it matter Zoltan, she's got what she wants. I'm not going to leave Tahir to go beg to be a queen someplace I haven't even heard of, there will be just her. She would have to fight to have me considered, and she won't do that, and even if she did, what kind of leader would I be. I can't even be a good slave."

"I just don't think it should be her." Leeta signs, looking down.

Zoltan's ears wiggle involuntarily (hanging around Savanites has caused him to adopt that particular quirk). "Most good leaders make terrible slaves." he signs. "Twilight-Wing said you not have to go to city, just get Third-Eye word. She give it to you… I know she will. All you have to do is say so and I asks her."

"You not even have to see her. I tell Twilight wing that you wants it, and we ask Third-Eye." The Vartan signs.

Leeta wipes at her eyes, "Zoltan, my last master, Moffat, is gone. He had a lot of power, and a lot of enemies. The person in his job before, was sent away, alone. The one before, killed himself. I've been beside a lot of power, I know the all the secrets in Rephidim better than anyone else, and it just shows me something bleak, and lonely, where no one cares. So I have to know. Can Leaders have Friends?"

The Vartan rubs his beak as he ponders this, then he finally signs. "You know what I think? I think leaders need friends. Without contact there, they eventually lose grasp of what it like to be friend and only think of theyselves… or get lonely and burn out. But being a friend is no an easy thing, especially friend for leader. True friend have to tell people when they making big mistake and when they wrong."

"He would tell me that if I thought I could do the best job, that I should ask for it, even though he knows it would take me away from him eventually." Leeta chokes, swallowing, her ears flattening down, "Because, he knows, more than anything else, how wrong it all is, and how much I don't like it. He would… he would tell me, that if I said no, I'd be a Diplomat reading books in a corner, and that a brash Engineer would leap at the chance to save his people."

Leeta signs, "But he would leave it up to me to decide, because he's not my master."

"You must do what you think is rights." Zoltan signs, not really understanding most of what Leeta signs. "I can only promise you that I going to do everything I can to make sure Third-Eye is good leader… by being her friend."

Leeta looks at her hands as they sign, "I don't think I'd make a good leader, Zoltan. My friend will be one, if I help him, and he'll need me then. I also don't know if Third Eye would make a good leader, even with you helping her, its very hard to let go of the past. I know that very well, but I also know… that together, Tahir and I would be able to change things, better than anyone could working alone."

Fire-Mane looks up at the black Vartan, "So tell Third Eye, that I want to be considered a candidate, but I will not abandon my friend. She can tell Twilight Wing whatever she wants after that."

Zoltan forgets himself for a moment and hugs Leeta's shoulders. He blinks and quickly draws back. "Sorry, forgot myself. With two cubs you just get used to hugging someone when you feel they hurt." he winks, and then sobers. "Third-Eye herself say that she not expect you to forgive her… she know she not deserve it."

"I hated Third Eye, Zoltan, for every punishment I ever got. I can't get rid of this image of her in my mind, the cause behind all my problems. I can't forgive that." Leeta brushes her mane back, her ears still flattened low in it, "There is another image I have of Third Eye, and thats her in the store, and with the cubs, my sister, and… I can't hate that. I just don't know which one to believe, I don't know which one is real. It will take time. I don't want her to stay, and I don't want her to leave."

"I confused. Is you going to accept candidacy or no?" Zoltan signs. He considers Leeta's words and signs, "I been victim of her too. She blinded me with shadows, almost kill my friends, in her quest for power she help raise something that almost destroy her. But I saw something you not… I saw her lying broken on ground, beaten almost to point of death. I seen her cry against my chest because she felt so ashamed of what she do. And I see the love she gives to the cubs."

Leeta looks up at the statue behind it, and the darkening sky above where the procession shines in an arc across the sky. {Oh Captain Astromancer, your job is to guide Rephidim by the light and knowledge of the Star. And Star, you shine down and touch all of us, with hidden plans and unknown designs, but are the beacon to our lives. I am just one Savanite, stumbling in your shadows, but I really need a sign right now. If you can hear me, show me the way. I am so lost.}

Zoltan looks up at the statue as well, maching the gaze of the blank stone face.

The Savanite waits, staring at the sky, seeing the stars, the Star, the procession, but nothing else in the growing dusk. She hopes, listening to her heartbeat, and the Vartan breathing beside her, but nothing happens to take the decision out of her hands. "He's quiet, isn't he, the Captain Astromancer."

"I been out of Rephidim for long time. They picked a new Astromancer yet?" Zoltan signs.

"Not yet, but they have a few candidates." The fire-haired Savanite smiles.

The Vartan nods. "Hope they pick one soon… " He smirks, and then signs, "Want to know secret?"

Fire Mane nods.

"Job Astromancer does… to predict way Rephidim moves. He does it with invention Savanites made." Zoltan winks.

"Crystal hands." The Vartan signs, and then poses his hands in a clumsy, three fingered version of 'star' and 'anchor'.

Leeta's ears wiggle at that, "Thats comforting to know. I'll have to tell the Captain, if I ever see him."

The hippogryph grins, "Just no tell them who told you… I probably get shipped off to Naga Empire if they find out I saying things like that."

"I accept the candidacy Zoltan. If Third Eye has changed, she will be a better choice than I am, and if she hasn't, then I would not want her to run without contest. Although, if she does insist I be considered, it probably means she is the best choice. Twilight Wing and the Twelve times Twelve can worry about that however… " Fire Mane signs, looking directly at the black Vartan, "… and I won't tell anyone anything that might get you sent off to where the Nagas live." Her ears wiggle.

Zoltan rises from his seat on the bench and stretches. "I tell Third-eye that. I be honest in saying that I hope she become Priest-King, but I think you should get equal chance. But what you do if you chosen, and have to leave for the Savan?"

"Concede?" the Vartan signs.

Leeta signs, "I don't know Zoltan, I don't know. I hope the Star will send me guidance before that happens."

"I will not leave my friend, and that will just have to balance with everything else." Leeta finishes, rising as well and shaking off her stiffness.

Fire Mane smiles, "But you never know, maybe Rephidim will take me to the Savan itself. You say it is steered by a Savanite device. We will just have to wait and see."

"May Dagh grant you a wise mind then. I know enough of the City of hands to know that if you become Priest-King, you going to have legacy of one before you to follow. And once it known what you do… you might no be able to come back to Rephidim again." The Vartan scratches at his neck.

Leeta signs, "I want to save Rephidim, I want to see the Temple change. There is some much good it could do, if it wasn't being held back by selfish people. I don't want to be a slave, and my friend gave me hope that things can get better, that people aren't bad. Rephidim will have to let me come back, because Tahir and I, would not let it stand between us, and we will change it all by ourselves if we have to."

"I hope your friend is as powerful as Twelve times Twelve then." Zoltan signs. "I'm sure Temple no going to like friend very much once it known they sided with you. Change happen… but it no always happen quickly."

"He is… special, very special." Fire Mane smiles, "I can wait, can the Savanite empire wait? They might have to, I'll just have to see. When Third Eye left, and it was known there were rebel slaves, it got much harder for the Savanites left behind. We were watched, and punished extra hard in case we thought of following her example. They think we're animals, and they're not afraid of us, as animals."

"As equals, they would be afraid, and that is what would happen if Savanite empire is reborn suddenly. It would not be good for any Savanites, who were still slaves. If people's minds can be changed, before that happens, then the empire might have to just wait while it happens." Leeta finishes.

"Savanite empire might not wait… they waited few thousand years already." Zoltan signs, glancing up at the procession. "Just give good long think about what you doing. If you want to be Priest-King, then you should try and run… but if you only want to do it so that you sister no be, you doing it for wrong reason. And it a lot of trouble to go through for such a thing. I wonder if you no serve best here with you master, helping change people's minds about Savanites while she serve in Savan. If you do choose, you gots until end of year… and if you not take up mantle, then Jezebel gets it."

Leeta signs, "By the end of the year Zoltan, I will know if I trust her with it, which I don't now. I will have a lot of thinking to do, and Third Eye and I will have a lot of talking to do."

Zoltan nods. "I hope you trust me little more now at least." He smiles. "You say you like my cubs, yes?"

Leeta signs, "I want whoever is best there, and I think you're right. It might be better if I stayed here, but I have to try, if I can use it to make things better for everyone." She brushes back her mane, and nods, "Yes, I do, and your cubs are beautiful."

"Pouncer and Enos not have many people to play with in Rephidim. If you ever wants to come and see them, I staying at the Shiny Shop." Zoltan signs, grinning from ear to ear. "You no have to see Jezebel if you no wants… but I not mind if you ever want to come and visits children. They been around me too long as it is – they think they Vartans."

Zoltan shows Leeta his tail, which looks as though it's been pulled, chewed on, and tied in knots. Most of the little trinkets braided in have tooth marks on them.

"I think I'll do that, I'd like that, and Jezebel… well, we will have to talk sometime." The fire-haired Savanite signs, smiling at the Vartan's tail. "I'll have to show you mine sometime, I have a Jupani tail."

Zoltan chuckles out loud. "Well, I must be getting back. I left Third-Eye alone on rooftop with three kittens on sugar high… she probably going to be nervous wreck when I gets back." He steps back, and bows to Leeta.

The Savanite returns the bow, "Take care of them." She signs, not really knowing what else to say.

Zoltan's wings unfurl. "I will. Good bye, Fire-Mane."

"Good bye Zoltan" Leeta signs, watching the black Vartan take off into the air.

The black Vartan leaps up into the air, his wings sending a strong gust downward. He feathers soon meld with the darkness of the night sky as he flies back homeward.

Leeta watches the dark bird till she can no longer see him, then turns walking back to the temple. She shakes her head, trying to clear the tense ache she feels at the back of her neck. {Well, I'll have to tell Long Lope about this, and she'll tell the Quartermaster supreme. Won't he be impressed with the Inquisition's efficiency, two candidates in the same room!} Her ears wiggle as she enters the gates; Tahir will get another surprise when she returns.

---

GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 11 days after Reckoning Day, Year 24 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6123)