12 First Ones, 6104 RTR (12 Jul 2000) Kia is paid a visit by Kahn, a fighter in the Emperor's Challenge.
(Rephidim Bazaar) (Kia) (Rephidim) (Mortal Wombat)
Kia's Restoration
In the base of what was once a stone tower, built along a street of crumbling buildings, this shop stands in a curious sector of the Bazaar, where the streets are supplemented by a few stone bridges and walkways that traverse between those buildings that still stand. A wooden sign in front of the tower reads "Kia's Restoration", and through windows, all sorts of pieces of furniture and minor household goods and knick-knacks can be seen on shelves and hanging on pegs and stacked on tables in as best a semblance of order as can be had with such an assortment of items.

Kia's shop is open for business as usual, although today is a rather unusual day. The upstairs has been closed off and the smell of incense and melting beeswax wafts down from upstairs. The Lancer Shade arrived just after lunchtime and wordlessly set up a ritual that would allow the clockwork Khatta, Azul to be questioned on a more deeper level.

Shade seemed to be one of the vow of silence types and let her squire – a red-furred Jupani cub that seemed to trip over his own feet an awful lot – do most of her speaking and translating of hand-signs that she used to communicate with. Kia was informed that the ritual would take at least four hours to set up properly but there shouldn't be any danger. All Shade asked for was her privacy while she set things up, and meanwhile the shop remained open for business as usual.

Enos quietly sits on a stool, polishing a set of cracked chitin spoons that Shingle presented to him as a gift the day before. He hums quietly to himself and seems content but the rapid twitching of his tail-tip betrays a certain tenseness.

KiaThe mouse tucks shekels into their respective compartments after smiling and bidding farewell to her latest customer. She doesn't look towards the ceiling or the staircase, having grown accustomed to odd goings-on at her shop; instead, she looks around to see if any other people are looking for assistance in her shop.

The shop is empty for now, although that looks to be changing relatively soon. A massive figure of orange and gold momentarily blots out the light from the window outside as a huge tiger-Khatta passes by.

Kia closes her cashbox and fastens the lid, then sets to straightening a few out-of place items in the shop, keeping an eye towards the door so she can welcome the Khatta, if the feline chooses to enter.

Enter he does, although the door seems to give him a bit of difficulty. The Khatta stands as tall as a Titanian and is adorned with golden (or perhaps gold painted) jewelry and bits of armor. His clothing has a definite Himaatian cut to it… although his most unusual aspect is that the tiger has four arms. One arm grips the handle of the door, another braces against the top of the doorway to keep him from bumping his head, one hugs a cloth-wrapped bundle to his side, and the fourth rests upon his belt.

Enos drops one of the spoons he was polishing. His jaw drops as well.

The shopkeeper sets down the book she was straightening, and confines her surprise to a few blinks before smiling pleasantly to the newcomer. "Good afternoon, sir," she bids him, her tone polite and friendly. "Is there anything I might assist you with?"

"Yah. I am Kahn." The tiger bows. "Champion fighter I am, but my gloves were damaged in last battle. You fix?" He unceremoniously plunks the cloth bundle on a nearby countertop. The sound it makes upon landing is akin to dropping a cloth-wrapped pile of scrap metal.

One eyes half-closes at the sound of the object landing, then Kia nods to the tiger. "Let me see it. I'm Kia, by the way," she adds, stepping around the countertop and her giant customer to unwrap the cloth and examine the contents.

"Sun's greetings upon you, Kia. Smelly Rhian who feed Kahn lunch tell me of you, say you can fix things." Kahn wrenches out one of the 'gloves'. It looks like a metal harness or some off device that slides over the wearer's hand. Wicked looking spikes tip each of the fingers, forming metal 'claws' of sorts. It might be of Titanian make, although they're more prone to hit things with hammers instead of ripping something apart.

The glove sports quite a few dings and dents, not to mention bits of hair and feathers have stuck themselves in the finger-joints. Both of the gloves smell slightly of blood.

"That I can, Kahn. Most things, anyway." She lifts the other of the odd "gloves", using both hands, wrinkling her nose at the scent on them. "They'll need cleaning, certainly," she continues, examining the detritus wedged into the joints. She attempts to manipulate each metal "finger" in turn, determining how fully articulated they are, and which dents most hamper their movement.

Each of the gloves could easily fit both of Kia's hands. Although she's not anywhere near as large to actually think to wear the things, cleaning them should be fairly easy. As she wiggles the joints one of them catches as though stuck and another one almost pops off.

Kahn nods, folding both pairs of arms. "Have fight in Nagai soon, Emperor's Challenge. Kahn intends to win. Pirate was easily dealt with."

The mouse's nose wriggles as she studies the gloves. "Enos, would you bring me my jeweler's tools, please?" She sets the glove down for a moment to pull a stool closer to the counter, and seats herself upon it without ever taking her eyes from the device. "Pirate?" Kia repeats to her customer. "Is that whom you got these from, sir?" she asks of the great tiger, using one fingernail to scrape free a bit of fur from one joint.

The jaguar cub nods and rapidly dashes off to fetch the tools. He almost trips over a footstool but manages to tear his eyes away from the great cat to focus more intently on where he places his feet.

The tiger snorts. "Kahn had them made! For Emperor's Challenge, winner gets wish granted!" He slams one fist into an empty palm. "Kahn intends to win. Pirate thought he could be contender as well, pirate lost."

Wiping her finger off on a nearby piece of cloth, Kia winces at the big man's words, and decides not to ask what the pirate's fate was. "What wish did you want granted, Kahn?" she asks conversationally, looking around to see if Enos has got her tools yet.

The cub rushes up with a zippered pouch made of leather. "Are these the right ones, Miss Kia? I think these were your smallest tools."

"Kahn wants Procession named after him!" The Khatta bellows, thumping his bare chest with a fist. "Everyone laugh at Kahn because of arms, but soon they will see Kahn's arms stretched across the sky!"

There's a certain practiced tone to Kahn's speech, as though he's said this many times before.

"Thank you, Enos," the mouse replies, "but my jeweler's tools are in a small wooden box. "They should be on the third shelf from the floor, of the shelves by the staircase on the second floor… oh, never mind," she says, realizing, "the Lancer asked not to be disturbed. These will do." She unzips the pouch and spreads it open, selecting a small pointed file. The mouse wipes off one of the dented fingers, using the tip of the file to poke loose the bits of gunk trapped in joints.

The damage to the gloves looks to have been caused by the weapon hitting something rather solid, and furry. "Steelbeak tried to cheat, used weapons in match … so Kahn use weapons back." He grins smugly.

Enos kneels down next to the mouse, he lifts his hands under the glove and tries to support some of its weight to make handling it a bit easier for Kia.

"Steelbeak was the pirate?" Kia asks, almost involuntarily as she makes conversation while working on the glove. After cleaning the finger, she takes a small hammer and two pairs of pliers from the toolkit. She fastens one of the pliers beside a dented joint, and tells Enos, "Hold it here," motioning for him to take the grip of the pliers.

"Was," Kahn agrees. "Since he broke rules he got disqualified. Poor birdie." The grin on his face doesn't show much in the way of sympathy.

"The Emperor's Challenge," Enos whispers to Kia. "The Duchess' servant, Gnarr, was involved in that a few years ago. He fought a vampire count from Sylvania!"

"What kind of weapon did he use?" the mouse asks Kahn, after nodding to Enos and taking one of his hands in her own and wrapping his fingers around the handle of the pliers. Once his grip is secure, she tries an experimental tink with the hammer against a dent, checking the resiliency of the metal.

"Sword, and a dozen crewmen." The Khatta chuckles and makes a tone that sounds like a half growl and a half purr. "Steelbeak just bitter because he knows Empire can't grant his wish. He tried taking it out on other contestants instead."

The metal isn't the purest of stock, but isn't brittle either. It will probably take quite a bit of work to get the dents worked out, but the metal appears malleable enough to repair.

The mouse stifles giggles on hearing the form of Steelbeak's cheating. "How did he expect to avoid being caught?" She nods with satisfaction at the metal, carefully tinking away at a few more times as she straightens the dent. "And what was his wish?"

The tiger shrugs, an impressive feat with four sets of shoulders. "Don't think Steelbeak cared. He wanted the Empire to bring slavery back, but with Nagai as it is now, that not possible anymore." His whiskers splay as he examines the mouse's ministrations. "Kahn learn to always come prepared."

Shaking her head and tsking at the bird's wish, Kia comments, "Just as well it could not be fulfilled, then." She pauses in her work, looking up (and up) at the big Khatta. "This will probably take me some time, sir. Would you like to wait, or leave the gloves with me and come back later to pick them up?"

Kahn rubs his chin. "How long? Ship leaving in two days."

"I should be able to finish it by tomorrow afternoon, Kahn," she answers, after appraising the condition of the gloves.

The tiger nods, extending one of his hands out to shake. "Genoh. How much will you charge?"

The mouse gives the gloves a little more study, then answers, "Twenty-five shekels."

"Easily done." Kahn rubs his chin. "Stinky horse say you work good. I be back tomorrow."

"All right," she replies with a bright smile, making a mental note to thank her neighbor for the referral. "See you then, Kahn."

Kahn bows and exits.

Once the tiger closes the door, Enos lets out a noisy sigh of relief. "I guess the Emperor's Challenge is still going on without the Emperor." He lifts up one of the fingers of the glove to give Kia better access to it.

"I thought the Nagai had claimed someone or other as Emperor, after the death of the last one," Kia comments to the cub, renewing her work cleaning off the rest of the glove. "Or that maybe all five fragments of the Nagai Empire had proclaimed their leaders 'emperors' now."

"True, but I don't think the current emperor, or emperors, have the clout to grant wishes." Enos jerks his head in the direction of the door. "Like I don't think if he wins that we'll be calling the Procession 'Kahn' anytime soon."

Kia smiles. "Probably not," she agrees. "But perhaps in some small Nagai country they will. I don't think that any Emperor ever had the power to decree what people in Rephidim called anything."

Enos smirks. "If I may ask, Miss Kia – if you could have a wish granted, what would you wish for?"

The mouse pauses in her work, considering the cub's query. "I don't know," she answers. "I've never thought about it before. What would you wish for, Enos?" she asks the cub, scraping a bit of quill and down from a knuckle joint.

The cub bites his lip and droops his ears. "I'd wish to have Nana back."

Silence briefly fills the shop, then Kia sets the file down carefully, and turns to give Enos a hug. "A good wish," she murmurs soothingly.

"Thanks." He smiles a little, focusing on the glove a bit more intently. "So you wouldn't wish for a bigger shop or a big pile of things to fix?"

Kia smiles too, giving a little chuckle. "No, my shop is big enough, and I have no end of things to fix," she replies, gesturing to the gloves by way of example. "If I could have any wish granted, I don't think I would wish for a thing."

Enos manages a giggle, "Not even a little brother to tease?"

"Why would I need one of those," Kia says, reaching up to tap the tip of Enos's nose with her file, "when I have you?" She grins mischievously, then sets back to her work.

The cub eeps and grins. "Well, I have my own big sister to tease me already." His tail flicks.


GMed by Zoltan

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