2017-09-09: A Grand Opening Indeed

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=====================<* November City - Market Street *>======================

November City is the greatest and the largest of the Seed Cities. When it appeared after the Night of Falling Stars, it was already a large settlement, built by the survivors of that day quickly. It has since grown enormously, appealing to people in the Badlands in search of some security and the refugees from failed and lost Seed Cities. Market Street, its main thoroughfare, demonstrates this. On the outskirts of the city, shantytowns and shacks pop up along the street, gradually becoming the larger buildings in the heart of November.

The street is named for the huge market that has sprung up across it, occupying the three and four story brick buildings along each side. It's a wide, paved road (a rare thing in the Badlands) and connected to Central Station, where all of the railways come. Here, one can find anything they want. The laissez-faire nature of November City's government makes the black market an open one, and this is one of the few places where ARMs and stolen goods from Aveh and Kislev can be bought with ease.

There are also saloons, taverns, restaurants, and hotels to be found. November City is a true melting pot, where Drifters from across Filgaia mix with foreign merchants and locals of every class. Men wearing suits brush by peasants in homespun, while Drifters and knights bump into each other. The police force usually prevents outright gunfights in the streets, but November City's officials are infamously easy to bribe.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFi2pwQRRzQ
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

This was a big day for the Caravan Kinship. The Grand Opening, the day they would truly begin their journey as traveling providers of food and goods throughout the Badlands...and perhaps someday, beyond.

They had been doing business before this day, of course. This day was essentially a formality, but it was no less important because of it. It was a way to introduce themselves to the public at large, as well as getting to know some of the people of the area. That was important for establishing oneself as a business, after all.

Because of how important this day was, they had spared no expense in setting up the area - the park square they had rented out was fancily decorated. The colors were bright and eye-catching, and several banners bearing the CaraKin logo had been strewn around.

Within the center of the area a series of tables had been set up. These were for the customers - they were serving food, after all, they would need a place to sit! And, of course, at the center of each table was a stack of CaraKin flyers.

While there were several stalls set up around bearing goods for sale the star of the show was the large vehicle at the head of it all.

Referred to as the 'Carakin', after the group that owned it, and bearing the logos for the Caravan Kinship and Hetfield Laboratories on the sides, the vehicle might be a strange and fantastic sight to some. It had wheels but no outwardly visible means of propelling itself. There were a series of panels on the side that were difficult to observe when in their default position, but at the moment they were folded out to reveal that they formed a series of shelves. A veritable rainbow of potions, compounds, and general goods alike rested on the shelves, tantalizing the viewer with the mere sight of them.

And if that wasn't unusual enough, the back of it was open to reveal a fully functional kitchen! The Caravan Kinship had brought out all the big guns today...metaphorically speaking, of course!

Of course, the Caravan Kinship was nothing without its members. Jacqueline was here, at the moment up near the Carakin itself and rearranging some of the merchandise. She'd dressed up especially for the occasion, having picked out some new clothes here in November City.

She was a little nervous, of course. Anyone would be. This was a very public event. November City...was so much bigger than Adlehyde, and more populous that it was even at the height of the Ancient Culture Exhibit.

Still, she'd endure. She had to. She had some words to say, after all, though they could wait until more people had arrived.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
Lunata Croze is present as well, and in the CaraKin itself -- in particular, there's a panel in the back of the travelling caravan that's folded out into a rather wonderful looking mobile kitchen with a counter for orders. The waitress has her brightest smile on -- but today, she's not a waitress... she's stationing her own kitchen for the first time, courtesy of Aunt Hilda and Catenna!
A big blackboard is stationed at the side of the counter for all to read:
TODAY'S SPECIALS!
* Mabo Curry Bun, deep-fried and coated in panko breadcrumbs
~* A NEW Starfall Saloon Special! Is Born! *~
* Lemon-poached chicken and fresh avocado tramezzino pide
served on lettuce and capsicum with fresh homemade aioli
* Slow-roasted pulled pork and dill pickles on five-grain ciabatta
served on lettuce and cabbage with fresh applesauce
* Corned beef, Krossian cheese and sauerkraut on rye
served with wholegrain mustard
"Welcome to the Starfall Saloon, Caravan Kinship branch!"
... the spiritually perceptive might see that there's a huge floating lich that's bobbling up and down behind her, currently holding onto a kitchen knife and chopping pickles and slicing delicious pieces of juicy, pink corned beef. The lich has replaced her ancient regalia headdress with a lunchlady bandanna.
With that said... who's hungry?!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.
Just to one side of the bulk of the caravan sits... the bulk of Big Shal, instead. The golem is an odd sight, but it doesn't appear to be anything like the enormous figure of Sado - it's significantly smaller at only twelve feet, and looks significantly less threatening, curved and conical and rounded with two expressionless eyes and absolutely no weapons anywhere in sight.
Pitted and rusted, it's currently hunkered down to sit next to the vehicle as part of a small stall, with several shelves having hinged out of its body in the same manner as Jacqueline's potions.
Laid out on and around the golem are dozens of scattered little projects and inventions, often not quite finished, together with a significant collection of different ARM components - a series of little handheld fans for the desert, a miniaturized helicopter-like thing currently missing two blades on its rotor, an alarm clock a large collection of organized boxes of different sizes of screw and pinions, for instance.
The collection goes on and on - and, crucially, many of the things on offer seem significantly better kept or more technologically advanced than they ought to be. Many of the components look pristine in how new they are, while many of the inventions appear to be somewhat unexplainable. One ill-advised coaster appears to be able to float under its own power, while a pair of radio-like devices have a little-handwritten sign boasting a range far longer than anything anyone else can currently manage outside of the Memory Cubes.
If you happen to be in a position to know, it's pretty obvious that the owner of the shop has incorporated some rudimentary Veruni technology into many of the things on offer. Big Shal, too, is clearly a Veruni construction golem, though doesn't really look the part when she's wearing a giant bobble hat and has a sign around her neck reading:
WELCOME TO SHAL'S SCRAPS
CUSTOM JOBS AND ARM REPAIR ALL OKAY
PLEASE WAVE, I'M NICE
The actual owner of the store doesn't immediately seem to be around at first - but there's a low thrum and the sudden sight of a flying scooter winging down the main road, a blob of pink at its helm as she guides the hovering machine into park with a surprisingly smooth motion. "Lunie, Lunie!" the figure calls excitedly over the handlebars, before hopping off and helping her passenger - one Meredin Croze - down from the device. "I brought her! Sorry we're late, ehehe."
Maybe not the best way to transport someone who might be still injured, but a very Meredin sort of entrance.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin and Spirit are, of course, around. They're not running anything in particular--Kourin is trying to be helpful in keeping things flowing smoothly and helping if any of her friends need anything grabbed or fetched or the like. She's not one of the attention-grabbers of the Caravan Kinship, most of the time. She just tries to be friendly and helpful.

She's still shy, of course, so strangers may find her a little taciturn, but Spirit's friendliness may just make up for it. The dog is sniffing around excitedly at everyone--though he's well behaved about it, not jumping up at people, not barking, just wagging his tail and being friendly and staying close to his Mistress. Spirit is, after all, a Good Boy.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Truthfully, Matilda's kind of nervous about this one! She's set herself up with a table, of course; her particular table highlights compounds, potions, and elixirs of all types. In a perhaps surprising move, Matilda has actually managed to make a sign that highlights her own expertise instead of merely the merchandise:

Dr. Matilda Whitehead

Academy of Linga

College of Compounding and Pharmacy

Cures and Remedies of All Kinds

She's all smiles at the table, with a variety of curatives laid out in front of her and shelves of more in the back. Pickings are surprisigly lush -- being in the Krosse region has given her a chance to restock in a big, big way.

There's also a big tray of blueberry muffins -- gosh, there must be at least a hundred -- with a note:

Free With Purchase! Limit 1 per Customer

Matilda is not above bribery for sale purposes.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Mercantilism actually wasn't the first thing Catenna wanted to do with her life, not even her first talent. Things happen, of course. People learn to roll with their circumstances.

But there's also the other factor: She doesn't want to compete with Lunata too much. The girl's far more likeable than Catenna is, she's liable to attract more attention, and her menu's more the sort of thing Ignas people like. And more than that, it'd be a real asshole move of her to try and make it into a competition.

It's why, while she helped get some of the cafe foods ready, she's not manning the cafe. In fact she's set up shop not far away, in front of a hatch backing onto the kitchen. The aromatic scents of several different curries can be discerned from a series of pots in front of her, complex and enticing - but rather than a cafe-style arrangement, Catenna's sitting behind a small booth beside a stack of patterned boxes, a large vessel full of rice, and a few plates of various other items. There's a sign perched on the booth in front of her:

Carakin's Tiffin Service
Sick of Trail Rations?
Drift With Quality Food Instead!

There's another, more discreet sign perched on the table somewhere to her right, next to a stuffed chair that seems to otherwise have no purpose:

Guardian Advice: 5 Gella
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.
There is a lifelike, colorful statue of a human man with a kind of garish poncho that runs a gradient from maroon to ash, white hair, and a kind of unnerving stare. Who made it? Does it have a price tag? It's a nice piece of artwork, just standing there between a few of the stalls. Great for frightening off giant crows. Maybe even scare off some younger deep crows.
...
Oh, that's not a statue, that's Ethius. He doesn't appear to be selling anything, or even doing all that much to contribute to the work of his fellow travelers. He's just... there.
That tends to adequately describe him in 800 of all situations. He's just there.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Finally, after what seemed like months of hemming and hawing and being abducted by the kislevi military and going on rampages through said military and being worshipped by a cult of gobbos, the Carakin is open for business. Cyre has set up a comfortable looking, canvas bazaar stall right next to Catenna's. He's placed a wide assortment of useful herbal ingredients, remedies and... other... things spread out all across a hand-carpentered wooden display shelf. Most are plants, some are mushrooms, others are suspended in dark bottles, and a good many are pre-dried and ready for either consumption or ignition, depending on your preferences. There's a painted sign right up front.

Baskar Remedies

Fruits of the Earth

And Other Assorted Sundries

There's also another sign hammered onto the bottom, with a white arrow pointing vaguely in Catenna's direction. It says: Pay There For Guardian Advice. Fee: 5 Gella

Well, when you have not one but TWO Zoa Priests, you kind of get to do that kind of thing.

<Pose Tracker> Meryl Stryfe has posed.

EARLIER

Meryl and Milly walk into their hotel room and Meryl falls face first onto the bed and groans. "Ugh! I feel like it has taken forever for us to get here!" She turns over on her side, "So did you see all the signs as we were coming into town?"

Milly is looking out the window and doesn't seem to hear Meryl. She quietly hums to herself, glancing upwards at the sky every now and then.

"Milly! Are you listening to me?"

The taller agent glances at the bed. "Oh...what were you talking about?" Meryl throws a pillow at her. "You didn't hear anything did you? Ugh! You really need to keep your mind on the job." Despite her scolding, Meryl cracks a small smile. "You're too much sometimes you know?"

NOW

The agent is out exploring November City. Not much has changed since she was last here. It seems like a long time ago that...well...stuff happened and she left. The city has definitely seen better days but at least it's not as rough here as some of the other places she has been to lately. She can appreciate having water and air conditioning and other minor conveniences again.

It seems kind of quiet today actually and when Meryl inquires about it, she is pointed towards a flier advertising the grand opening of the Carakin. It sounds interesting enough so Meryl heads to the park. Perhaps a big gathering would be just the place for her to see if she could get more information about the Bernardelli's newest liability, Vash the Stampede.

It doesn't take her long to arrive at the park. As she makes her way through the crowd, the tiny insurance lady, ends up in front of the mobile kitchen. Before she walks up though, Meryl takes notice of the interesting set up. It's unlike anything she has seen before. She likes their selection too.

When she finally makes her way through the line, Meryl glances up at the board and hrms before making a decision. "Can I get a...Pork Sandwich and a drink?" she asks of the person behind the counter. It would be good to have some real food after their journey. The donuts just weren't cutting it for her.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel doesn't like large crowds very much. They're overwhelming, to someone like her; there's just so many people around that she can't focus on just one or two of them at a time unless she really concentrates.

But this is something she really wanted to come to. She wants to see what this 'Carakin' really is about.

To most eyes, Mariel is a beastwoman with long, furred ears that stick out a little bit to the sides but mostly droop downward, young - probably her early teens - quiet and reserved. She's carrying a large satchel with an embossed, stylized flower on the front of it, and though she's kept it closed there's still a faintly herbal, flowery aroma surrounding her. It blends in with some of the Carakin's offerings, honestly, so it's not as obvious as it sometimes is.

Mariel is working her way slowly around the edges. She has not yet been to Lunata's booth (probably for the best); she's started on the other side of the big kitchen, at Cyre and Catenna's booths. Catenna's curries smell good to her; she hasn't had any in a long time. But more interesting is some of Cyre's offerings. She's trying to see if there is anything he has that she isn't currently growing... somewhere or other.

So far she hasn't, but you never know.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

The last time Kaguya was in November City, she was moving a little too quickly to really bother with sightseeing. Also, part of it was on fire.

But only a small part, and this area she didn't touch, having a certain courtesy to merchants maybe... Maybe. That could be it. But now she is here, in a lovely park, dressed in a snappy set of trousers, dress shirt, and vest with a pale green tie and a nice cane that she leans on, clicking, as she walks. She has a larger coat in which her ARM is concealed, but she is not really here for violence. She is here for...

"Wow, Atida, you've got a lot out here!" Kaguya says it with a smile as she steps close enough to see, looking over all the compounds, potions, elixirs... and then Matilda herself.

"Some of these are..." She pauses.

"Oooh, can I have a muffin?" Kaguya looks hopeful.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia has been going back and forth through November City a lot these past few days, running errands for a certain crew of pirates that she's more or less officially a part of now. She thus quickly learned of this event through the advertising, as well as the virtue of there being two people involved who travel with the Carakin as well as with said crew of pirates. She thus knows all she needs to know about all of this.

Which is to say, she knows there would be food. What more would she need to know?

Needless to say, very soon after opening time, a seat at the restaurant is quickly taken by a fiery redhead, who immediately has her hand up after glancing at the menu for less than two seconds.

"Hello! I'd like the specials, please!"

What do you mean, 'which one'? All of them, of course. This is Xantia we're talking about. She'll have those finished in no time, and probably go try the other foods available right after.

<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


The sounds, smells, and general commotion of the CaraKin is more than enough to draw the attention of a hungry Althenian priestess. And of course, it attracts her dog! The big husky is true to his name, pulling on the lead in Amelia's hand. She has to rush a bit as she's dragged very, very directly over to Lunata and her food area!

"S...Silver! Down. Slow down! By Althena...I'm hungry too, but there's a line. Down! Down!"

Right behind Meryl, the elf pauses. One elf ear perks a little, and she reaches down to rub one of the husky's ears. Who immediately hops up on his back paws. Arf! Arf arf! Right at Lunata's lich kitchen friend! Amelia's own Pious Senses (tm) tingle, there's Silver to deal with.

"No begging Silver! Forgive me, Children." The priestess apologizes to those around her, and to the stall owner! "Your helper must be strange, he always gets this way." Seems the Priestess can hear the Lich-Guardian, but doesn't bat an ear.

"Your largest, spiciest dish, and your coldest drink. And something for this idiot." Tweeeak doggie ear. Whimper. Silver hangs his head a little.

<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

The Cascade Gang handily straddles that line between outlaw and Drifter - beginning with Janus Cascade's frustrating habit of walking out and about with that massive ARM of his simply, in hand, ready for use. Flanked by his two comrades Dario and Romero, they bring trouble wherever they go!!

Except actually this time Janus has wandered to market alone; his ARM in hand and a bag full of...something, clanging metallicly around, and slung over his shoulder. He makes a long circuit of the place, clear eyes cutting around with analytical precision, until he finds the ARM Meister's stand and starts to amble directly in the direction of the (comparatively) towering golem and surroundings. The proprietress doesn't seem to be in, but Janus isn't quite impatient enough to turn directly on his heels, instead angling his eyes up to the golem with a thoughtful look. "Now there's a thing ya don't see this far west," he says to nobody. Following the sign's advice, he holds up a hand, half expecting the machine to just mirror his movement via...whatsit. movement trafficking. "Heck of a look ya got there, tallpockets," he says, mostly to amuse himself.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
Lunata has a cheerful smile as she nods to Meryl, turning and beckoning to -- empty air? Assuming Meryl has no such Resonance to see her... yet before long, a pulled pork sandwich is assembled in thin air in front of her, ingredients layering onto each other delicately, one after another. It's like magic.
A little cute skull toothpick is stabbed through the middle. A bit morbid...?
"We've got fruit shakes, fresh fruit today!" Lunata advises Meryl. Ooh, fresh fruit's a bit of a rare treat, isn't it? "Would you like one?"
She gawks in surprise when Shalune comes a-running, however, with her mother -- who indeed still looks like she's got bandages all over her body -- walking at a slower pace nearby. "Lunata, Jacqueline, everyone," nods Meredin. "I'm so proud of you all."
Xantia comes soon, and she's forced to divert attention from her mother as she says, "a-ah, hello, Miss Xantia! All the specials, coming right up!"
Really, between Lunata and Ge Ramda, they've got something of a machined production line going, which is probably unfair when you're one person with a Stand with the power of lunchmaking...
Speaking of which, Ge Ramda stares at Silver--
--and then hucks a particularly nice, chewy endbone from the corned beef brisket with some tasty meat still attached to it his way! Awww!
"It's okay... Spicy...? Hmm..." Lunata thinks, before smiling to gestures towards Catenna, "Miss Catenna is doing really spicy curries, if you'd like! I can make you a fruit drink if you'd like, though, Miss?"
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

To Mariel, the value of Cyre's collection is entirely dependent on whether or not she's started cultivating some of the rarer dungeon-plants in her days. There are a few species, like lavender and artemis leaf and a variety of curative cave mosses, fungi and others that might just be hard to come by in the Filgaia of today. But who knows what kinds of things she's got going in her gardens? Probably carrots, if Cyre's assessment of what manner of beast this woman happens to be is at all on the mark.

(It's not, but he can't look at her and NOT see adorable bunny rabbit and/or puppy. Puppybun. Bunny Dog.)

"Welcome!" Cyre says with a cheerful grin at this, his and Catenna's first, fluffy visitor. "Can I help you find anything?"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Somehow setting up next to Cyre seemed like the right place to do it in Catenna's mind. As she prepares a tiffin box for some NPC, she looks over to Cyre with a quiet smile. Then it's back to the customer, exchanging the box for a bit of cash. It goes into a jar discreetly hidden under the booth.

Mariel is probably familiar enough with herbs and spices that some of what Catenna's using in hers will ring bells. Perhaps the interesting part is that the smells seem diagnostic of herbs from Ignas, but the dishes Catenna made with them are not recipes from Ignas, or even recipes that appear in Ignas... well, ever. She's found a way to cook completely foreign food with completely local seasonings.

As the young girl comes walking up to her and Cyre's booths, Catenna looks on for a moment - she's not an aggressive salesperson, apparently, and there's something about the girl's physical makeup that nags at her thoughts in a persistent way. Eventually she does nod politely towards Mariel, offering a polite smile. "Good day," she greets in that heavily-accented Ignan of hers. "If you are interested in something to tide you over in your travels, we have curry tiffin for a reasonable price!"

She can hear Lunata pitching customers to her. Leaning forward, she raises a hand and waves lightly towards Amelia. "We do have some available," she calls.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"I've budgeted twelve muffins for friends, before any purchases," Matilda says, softly. "Take from the back -- they're the freshest." She reaches out after a couple moments to take Kaguya's hand and give it a gentle squeeze. "You look very nice today -- you've coordinated your colors very well," she adds, voice gentle -- a world away from what happened on the battlefront now. Just an unpleasant memory.

"You know," she adds to Kaguya, "I'm actually a little nervous... I so often feel like Jay simply has me beat on potions, and on force of personality... -- granted, some of mine are actually on her shelves, but even so..." She scratches at the back of her head. "... Ahaha, regardless -- this is a happy event, isn't it?" She shifts her weight a few times.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin is bringing up a new cask of chilled drinks (courtesy her ice magics) for Lunata's booth when Spirit, smelling a familiar friend, dashes over to Silver, excitedly wagging his tail and nearly jumping up and down. He's a Good Boy but sometimes he does get rambunctious, especially when he sees a friend he hasn't seen in awhile.

Kourin, for her part, is not too happy about seeing her old comrade in arms from the Guard here. Not since she's got a bounty on her head...and not since she's certain Amelia won't be too polite about Kourin abandoning her oath to serve Althena's Guard.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

It's hard to tell what kind of beast Mariel is supposed to show similarities to, but then again Beastmen don't always make a perfect match with an animal's species, so that's not too unusual.

That said, she does indeed have carrots in her garden, so maybe Cyre isn't so wrong after all.

Mariel does indeed cultivate rare plants - some of which aren't considered possible to cultivate, like the subspecies of Heal Berries. She seems interested in a few of Cyre's but does not immediately see anything that is a must-buy. Maybe she should hit up the compounder for some new ideas, too...

"Oh, I was just looking," Mariel says, with a smile toward both Cyre and Catenna. "I don't know if I need anything... ah, I'm an herbalist myself, so it's interesting to me anyway." She pauses, then adds to Catenna, "I like the smell of your curries. Are you from Elru?" She recognizes the hair adornments and some of the patterns; it's not Baskar, and she - despite clearly not being Baskar - is educated enough to know that. Especially with the accent.

<Pose Tracker> Meryl Stryfe has posed.

As Meryl stands in line, the presence of Amelia behind her doesn't seem to get her attention at first. At least not until the big dog pushes next to her and places it's paws on the counter. Meryl's eyes get big. "Oh! What a cute dog!" She reaches down to scritch him behind an ear. "What's his name?" she asks of Amelia, seemingly not bothered by the sudden intrusion of cute.

Then she turns back, "Oh yeah fruit shake would be good! Been traveling a long time!" Then she notices her sandwich assembled... in the air...by no one. Her expression drops. She had heard of strange things happening before but this is too much. "WHAT?! H-How are you doing that?! Is that..." Meryl's voice carries over the crowd which is surprising for such a tiny person and she shakes her head in disbelief. It seems like she doesn't have any sense of resonance as she is bordering on complete meltdown and the little skull toothpick just makes it worse. She is shaking as the sandwich is given to her and she nearly spills her drink.

Did that really just happen?

Her eyes are a little glazed over as she steps away to allow the next customer to step up. However, Meryl doesn't move far away and watches as a bone is tossed to the dog by some kind of invisible force. Still within earshot of Lunata and Amelia, "I-I don't get it...what kind of magic is this?" She frowns, suddenly not interested in her food anymore.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.
That strange white-haired man with the half-hidden face seems to have moved again while the initial crowd gathers around the food stalls. It's kind of tough to keep a bead on him unless one is consciously trying to keep him in sight. His eyes, usually a place where sights and ideas go fall in to get trapped and die, never having their dying screams escape the void of his perception, rapidly dart between various people of interest.
The one holding hands with Matilda.
The black-haired woman ordering a Pork Sandwich and a drink (and resulting startled noises).
A fellow familiar to just about anyone with hte (mis?)fortune of journeying alongside them up at Shalune's stall - where is she, come to think of it?
There are others of various traits and appearances that should catch the eye. Why them? Who knows. He doesn't move to engage, continuing to mingle about seemingly without aim or purpose.
Ethius is... just there.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.
Shalune beams hugely at Lunata's look of surprise, her face lit up with a bright and pleased expression as she winks. "What? I said I wouldn't let your mom miss this for the world, you know?" she teases, planting her hands on her hips - before concern takes over, and she scurries forward to help direct Meredin to a seat close by to Lunata's counter. "It took some doin' to get her to stop what she was researching, though. You didn't even hear me the first few times I called," she grumbles to her adoptive mother figure, but there's no denting her enthusiasm, not today.
Catenna and Cyre get a friendly wave, Matilda and Jacqueline a friendlier one - as much as she's always friendly, Shalune's obviously still harbouring some concern over Guardians and shamanism, her feelings still rather dented from the events that occured when they set out. She's not about to blame anyone, at least, apparently aware that it's something she has to sort out herself. Kourin gets a smile, on the other hand, because Shalune knows she's a quieter sort - but then the pink-haired girl piles into the pair of dogs with a dopplering 'eeeeeeeeee--' for a brief hug.
Her greeting duties as the CaraKin resident whirlwind done, she ducks suddenly into her stall, revealing the 'ARMS Meister' to be a five-foot two girl with pink hair and a ridiculous red bobble hat, covered in layers of comfortable but rather ratty clothing. "Aah, sorry, sorry! I had something kind of important to do before we got going, y'know?" she calls to Janus with an unassuming smile, and her eyes immediately go towards the bayonet on his shoulder with a smile. "Ah, what can I do for you? Lunie, I'll be by to help out in a bit!" she adds, flicking from one topic to the next instantly.
Next to her, the golem regards the man for a necessarily silent moment, as if sizing him up - and then rotates a hand slowly around to extend a thumbs up.
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

It's nice when you already know the service personnel, and they know you well enough to not have to spell things out. No weird question at all when you show people a menu page and say 'I want this'. Obviously that would mean everything on the page, right? What's so weird about that?

"Thaaaanks, Death Waitress~" Xantia yells back over the increasing din of the gathering crowd, only to add after a moment, "...and it's just Xantia! With an X!" Not that that last part was needed to clarify to Lunata, but what about all those other people around who don't know her name yet? This could be an important detail!

For Meryl's sake, she clarifies, cheerfully, "Death Magic, of course!" Not that she actually knows anything about this, nor has she shown any signs of ever noticing Ge Ramda's presence. But it's the Death Waitress, of course she uses Death Magic. That's just science.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline looks over the crowd with a smile. They seemed to have attracted a lot of interested - and interesting - individuals. She was glad this was turning out so well! Some of them are faces she recognizes, and some of them aren't, but they're all quite fascinating.

She hears a familiar voice, though, and with a smile walks over to Lunata's kitchen. She was excited to see Meredin here. She could only imagine how excited Meredin must be for Lunata, as well.

"Mrs. Croze! It's good to see you! Please, have a seat! Is there anything I can get you?" She asks, and while she's over there she glances toward Meryl. Xantia responds with a helpful 'Death Magic', but, ah...

"Not to worry, miss, it's one-hundred percent safe...and one-hundred percent delicious, I assure you! If you have any concerns I can gladly reimburse you." She offers, sending Meryl her best saleswoman smile.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
"U-um, it's-- not death magic! It's just a fancy trick as part of the CaraKin!" Lunata nervously laughs.
Meredin -- a gorgeous silver-haired lady in officewear in her 40s with a particularly dominating demeanor with a jacket casually slipped around her shoulders -- steps in rather smoothly as she flicks and snaps her fingers, which causes a small trail of etheric particles to shimmer softly through the air in a burst of colour. "Oh, sorry, I'm actually helping my daughter out and thought a dancing sandwich trick would liven the Grand Opening up."
Lunata sighs very quietly in relief, before smiling tenderly to say, "Y-yeah! Mom is a really experienced sorceress and magician, so that's her!"
Before long, Meryl's got a mango and apple iced shake (thanks to Kourin's ice!) and Xantia's got the royal accoutrement of sandwiches, deliciously prepared to order!
"I was rather absorbed in my research, yes..." she finally answers Shalune, as she draws a pipe to her lips. She pauses, as Lunata glares at her, and she waves her off.
<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


Amelia smiles a little bit, her rough but quiet voice inflecting upwards. Especially as there's a big juicy bone tossed! Silver does a big jump! Chomp! Sticking the landing with a skid, he spins three times while wagging his tail in triumph! Then he sits down!

Amelia meanwhile at first touches her hand to her holy symbol at her chest, and bows slightly. "Priestess Amelia Rose, servant of the Goddess Althena. It's a pleasure. I'll be fine with a drink then, thank you Child. May Althena keep you." Adds the priestess warmly to both Lunata and those around in her general.

Spirit suddenly comes up to Silver! He's been chewing on bone, and leaning into Meryl scritches! Amelia was just about to answer the insurance agent, when that familiar bark hits her like a punch to the gut! Shalune also gets plenty of Silver snuggles too in between him trying to share the big meaty bone with Spirit!

When she recovers, Amelia calls out to both Lunata and Catenna at once. Thankfully Jay's handling Meryl, Amelia is distracted. "Of all the places...make that two drinks and two of your largest, spiciest meals. It seems I've found an old friend. I'll be over in a minute." Then? She dumps out a somewhat large amount of Gella for the drinks. The rest will be for Catenna!

Then she's reaching down and petting Spirit with a sly smile. Kourin would never abandon her dog. All she has to do is wait.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna's accent is pretty distinctive - it's not at all the same as even an Aquvy Baskar.

Something about Mariel tugs provocatively at Catenna's memory - it makes her think of Leon Albus and Lily Keil, for some reason, and she's not sure why. Her gaze discreetly darts to Mariel's ears and then back to the woman's face, before she's sure the woman is looking at her.

"Oh? It is always nice to meet one skilled in herbalism," she says politely. "As is Cyre."

Mariel makes her guess, and Catenna raises her eyebrows in what passes for visible surprise for someone with her level of outward reserve. "Thank you. Yes, in fact, I am - I travelled here rather recently and have been with the Caravan since then. But I am glad you like what you smell. Would you care for some?" Turning, she gestures to the pots happily bubbling away.

"I have a very lovely panir dish here, if that is your preference," she offers. "It is a type of fresh cheese with greens."

She took a wild guess, but Mariel smells floral enough that Catenna assumes she's not the meat type.

Thaat's about when Amelia starts calling at her. Canting her head to the side, she calls back, "As you like it, then!" She turns and takes ahold of a pair of tiffin boxes. Each gets a heaping of rice and spiced vegetables - with extra spice - before she begins to ladle a bit of curry into one of them.

It's a pork curry. There are several gnarled-looking dark red peppers sitting on the table in front of the pot. It smells like a mouthful of volcano.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"Aha! You really plan ahead," Kaguya says, beaming. Slowly, she sets her cane against the table... and reaaaches over to the back for a muffin quickly, taking it in both hands and having a deep sniff. "Mmm..." But she doesn't immediately move to chomp--instead she lets Matilda take one of her hands and smiles a little softer at her. "O-Oh..."

Just a memory.

"T-thanks," she says, "You... You always look great, so..."

But Matilda adds, and she says she's nervous. Kaguya tilts her head. "...Aw. You want to stand out, huh...? Well I think you stand out! Look at all these! And... you have a great sign!"

A pause. "Yeah, it's happy. I think so, anyway. You worked for this, right? It's... really something..."

Kaguya might go get some food, and unfortunately end up seeing GE RAMDA, but for now she takes a tiny bite of her muffin.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Ah, an herbalist? If you're interested in compounding, I did acquire a pretty interesting find lately. You're familiar with the sandworms that inhabit Aveh's deserts? Their ichor stores a great deal of nutrients that can be refined into all kinds of useful things, especially for a compounder or herbalist!" There's a beat as Mariel diverts her attention somewhat and Cyre barks a cheerful laugh, "Hah, yeah, Catenna's food is the best. I could just keep eating the stuff forever if she let me."

Curry is basically the god-food.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin's stomach feels like it's suddenly full of ice. Strange, that. As skilled as she is with ice magic, she can't do anything about the sight of Amelia petting Spirit. She knows the other woman just well enough to know that sly smile.

Fortunately, she also knows the other woman well enough to suspect that Spirit is safe...but will she be safe herself?

Steeling herself, Kourin steps forward. "...Hello...Priestess Amelia. I should...I should warn you, that curry is...very spicy. Perhaps it would be best...if you hand it over. I would not wish to see you harmed here, even in simple dignity." No excuses for the Guard to come after CaraKin that way.

Yes, that's right. That's totally why. Kourin doesn't want it for herself.

<Pose Tracker> Meryl Stryfe has posed.

Meryl looks at Xantia, "Death magic... what? I mean, I have seen some strange things but..." She has trouble making sense of this even with Jacqueline's reassurance. "I don't know..." Then Lunata chimes in too and Meryl nods. That explanation seems a little more understandable but still it's freaking her out and she is still shaking a little. "Well, you should probably warn people before you bring out that kind of thing." With that, her expression finally softens a little and she cracks a smile.

"Oh, I guess I could introduce myself. I am Meryl Stryfe." A pause. "From the Bernardelli Insurance Society." Her hands are full and still shaky otherwise she would offer one in greeting to Jay or Lunata.

"So, you guys are running this thing huh?" Meryl purposely avoids looking back into the kitchen. "I didn't expect there to be so much to do!" As she relaxes more, Meryl finally takes a bite of her sandwich and watches the dogs interact for a minute before looking back up. "Seems like a good business though and even the dogs benefit!" The bone must be good the way they're going after it, she thinks.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia looks dubious when her claims of Death Magic are denied so fervently. That's gotta be true, right? But then she wonders... uh-oh, was that supposed to be a secret? Somebody should have told her!

It doesn't seem like there was any harm done, however. And with her food arriving, Xantia is quick to forget about this possible incident anyway. Food take priority over everything! "Oooh, it all looks so good!"

She doesn't waste time trying to decide which to eat first, instead trying a single bite of each dish first to get them all sampled at once. Not that her judgement should be any surprise: "And it all tastes good, too!" Is there any kind of food in existence that she doesn't like? If so, no one has discovered it yet.

With Jacqueline passing nearby, she pauses for a moment to wave, and greet, "Hiii, Jay! Nice to see you again!" It's been a while, and a lot has happened. But Xantia's eternal cheer remains a constant, it seems.

As does her appetite: she proceeds to start wolfing down her food in short order. At least she isn't a particularly messy eater. Just a really fast one.

<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

Janus' eyes widen a hair at Big Shal's contextually-relevant response, and he can't suppress a chuckle. "Well, heck, better'n' I expected," he says, sort of loosely aimed at a person he thinks isn't present. The whirlwind of activity behind him causes him to plant a foot and half-turn to look, just in time for Shalune to release the local hounds and fly to her station. ...this is more energy than he budgeted for, he decides, but in for a penny:

Janus turns back to the short shopkeep, eyes considering but his face plastered with a lopsided grin. "Well, aren't you just a regular wasteland whirlwind?" he chuckles. "No worries, mate, I haven't been here too long. Don't see too many little ladies like you doin' work like this." He's used to his ARMs Meisters being...well at least slightly less pink, for one. Still, he doesn't make a fuss about it. "Got a customization order for ya," he explains, rolling a shoulder to heave his bag onto the counter. It thuds metallicly. He doesn't address it immediately, instead setting his ARM down on top of it. Closer up it's clear that the eye-catching bayonet is indeed, just a bayonet attached to an equally long rifle. "Need to get the frame checked on the Sniper Shark here," he begins. "Couple of the Cartridges she takes are, well..." He motions with a few fingers, flicking the world idly. "They're spicy blokes, and she starts creakin' after a couple shots. Wanna make sure there's nothing permanent, and see if you can do something to get her number of shots up overall while you're in there."

He pats the bag. "Got the usual Alter Parts and Dragon Fossils right here," he adds.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel gives Catenna a somewhat stiff and formal half-bow. It doesn't look local. (And it is indeed from Elru, though it's a bit out of date and a little unpracticed.) "I would like that!" she says, with a more honest smile. Catenna picked her food preferences correctly; Mariel isn't a total vegetarian (that's difficult, though not impossible, in Filgaia), but she eats meat only rarely and never big chunks of red meat.

She actually recognized the dish name, too.

Cyre's offer actually does interest Mariel, because animal-derived components are something she can't get herself. Then again, she prefers to work with herbs, fruits, and other plants almost exclusively when she can get away with it... "Could I see it?" she asks of him, moving towards his table while Catenna dishes out for Amelia. She'll pick up her curry afterwards.

She does look a little curiously at the Guardians Chair (tm). What is that about, she wonders?

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Jacqueline Barber, of the Caravan Kinship." Jacqueline replies with a pleasant smile. She doesn't elaborate on what she does here, but she does offer a wink.

"With the Caravan Kinship, there's always something to do or see!" Jacqueline adds with a smile. "And, of course, plenty of wonderful food to try out."

And speaking of food, there's Xantia! It had been far too long since they'd met.

"Ah, Xantia! It's good to see you again!" She replies, turning away from Meryl to offer Xantia a smile and a wave. "How have you been doing?"

As she turned to respond to Xantia, though, she can't help but notice the siutation going on between Amelia and Kourin. She frowns slightly, but doesn't interfere just yet. If Amelia tries anything Jacqueline is ready to step in, but for now, she thinks it's better for Kourin if she handles the situation personally.

Besides...she didn't want to be the one to start trouble here in the city. Everyone was supposed to be welcome here, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
I mean, there's only so much of a secret it can be when Death Waitress, Lululu Wait has caught on like fire after she won the Lacour Tournament of Arms, so Xantia's probably not in the wrong or anything.
"Insurance Society...?" Lunata is asking as she serves drinks as well, to Amelia this time. It's a grape and cherry fruit drink, along with a pomegranate and pineapple mix that's probably slightly more inspired by Jay's usual drinks. "What does an insurance society do?"
Meredin's glanced sidelong into the counter to peer at the presence behind it, but smiles and says no more as she watches her daughter work.
"I'm really glad... the mabo curry is a Lunarian invention too! I learnt it from a Seraphim," Lunata shares with Xantia. "So in a way, it's a divine recipe, hehe..."
<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


Amelia can smell it from over by Lunata! The priestess licks her lips. Excitement boils! Despite the tension in her gut thanks to Kourin and Spirit, her stomach growls loudly. She can't stop the smile on her face. If nothing else, she's come to fall in love with the foods of Filgaia. It's her true sin, gastronomic revelry.

Kourin steps forward. Amelia stands. The two dogs seem to be getting along, fit as fiddles! Another pet for Spirit. Oh yes, she loves Spirit, and wouldn't hurt the dog. She might be zealous, but she's not evil.

Perhaps a zealous jerk at times, but not evil. Her cane goes to her arm so she can take the drinks from Lunata. "Have you fallen into greed so quickly, Kourin? My Child, you dissappoint me." In more ways than one. "No, you're not getting my food. And I was kind enough to order some for you. Let's have lunch together, Kourin. We need to talk." Her voice is almost friendly. Almost.

"After all, Silver and Spirit are having such a nice reunion. Guide me. I'll pay for your food. There's no need to worry right now. I just want to speak with you." That sly smile grows.

And then the effect of subtle menace might be lost as her stomach growls loudly again. She blushes to her ears as she makes her way over to Kourin, and Catenna.

Delicious fruit drinks acquired, and another bow to Lunata, and she'll try to more or less push her semi-free arm towards Kourin. Her face is expectant. Catenna's curry awaits!

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"Yes -- we all did," Matilda says to Kaguya. "I've... put a lot of work into getting to this point." She doesn't clarify; instead, she adds, "I'm glad you could be here... of all the people to show up to a big success like this, I'd rate you one of the highest among the living."

She immediately wonders if that was insensitive -- but thinks better of it, a second later, going back to smiles. Now isn't a time to get moody! "If you do poke over to the Saloon area," Matilda adds, "Could you get me one of the corned beef sandwiches, without the mustard?"

She looks off to the side sheepishly, adding, "I had a terrible stomach reaction to a mustard spinach dish once, and while I'm not even sure it was that part of the dish, I've always been a little sketchy on non-oleracea brassicas ever since..."

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin scowls. "It is not greed that motivates me, though I may have trained in Neo-Vane. You should know better than that. You needn't pay for my food...but I will accept your offer to talk...since, as you say, Spirit and Silver are getting along well."

She pauses.

"How has Silver been? He's a good boy."

She can't help it. She likes dogs. She takes Amelia's arm, and guides her to a table set up for customers to eat at, nodding to her friends to let them know she's okay despite the grave expression on her face.

Spirit notices his Mistress is moving, and, playfully, urges Silver to keep up if he doesn't already have the same idea.

<Pose Tracker> Meryl Stryfe has posed.

"It's nice to meet you Jacqueline!" Meryl offers warmly. "This food really is delicious." Even if it was prepared by some kind of magic she couldn't understand. That thought still makes the hair on the back of her neck stand up. At least for now, whatever it really was, doesn't seem dangerous to them. It still is something she files away in her mind for later investigation.

To Lunata's question, Meryl nods. "I am investigating claims sent to my company." She pauses to consider if she should bring up her current job. Finally, she decides that now is as good a time as any. "Right now, my partner and I are investigating claims caused by some guy named Vash the Stampede. Have any of you heard of him or seen him before?" Anyone in the general area would have likely heard her question. It's vague and there are fliers all over town and beyond mentioning the claim so it's not a far stretch for people to have heard of him.

The mention of serphim causes her to pause, "Wait... seraphim like those spiritual beings from old tales?" She thinks about it for a minute. "They taught you how to make this?" It seems like the insurance girl is getting a crash course in seemingly unbelievable things.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Not all of Catenna's curries are monstrous abominations of chili and spice. Most of them are actually quite mild. She returns the lid to the pork curry quickly so as not to distract from the more regularly edible varieties she's packing, then lids up the first tiffin neatly. Picking the second up, she unlids another pot. It's quite a bit smaller than the others.

"I should warn you that this one is extremely hot," she cautions Amelia with raised eyebrows, spooning a bit of the pungent curry into the second tiffin. This one looks like it's mutton, in an incredibly red gravy of some kind.

As she sets the tiffins down, she watches Amelia a moment longer. Hopefully Kourin can handle that.

"Please, enjoy," she encourages Amelia. "Would you like to taste?" Maybe the woman setting her mouth on fire will dissuade her from pestering Kourin.

But then there are the more pleasant customers - including the bunpuppy. "I am glad," she answers Mariel with a gentle smile. With Amelia's tiffin packaged, Catenna reaches for another dish and packs it with the requisite cumin rice and spiced vegetables. Then she goes for another pot, also small. The dish that emerges is not red or orange at all - it's a green stewlike mixture with pieces of pale white-yellow cheese in it. Spooning the paneer into the tiffin, she sets the lid atop it and ties it off with a neat little ribbon before offering it up to Mariel.

"If you were curious about the chair," Catenna says with a nod, "many Drifters have begun to learn of the Guardians lately... Cyre and myself have known them all our lives. We thought some might need explanations."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.
Ethius' surveillance persists as he strides about the crowds in what is a three-quarters-hearted attempt to be about as inconspicuous as someone inherently shady like him really can. He inwardly muses about the deposits of a pile of Dragon Fossils and other junk with a fancy capital letters formal name. He knows of at least one who would have strong opinions of the trade - but how much does it concern him?
His head perks up again, catching Kourin's scowl at an elf and their dog over by one of the food stands. He stands where he is, focusing sight and sound upon her seeming displeasure.
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

"I'm doing great!" Xantia claims in between bites, which is... probably just describing how she's currently doing, eating delicious food. She's a very 'in the moment' person. If she's doing great now, she's doing great in general. But after a moment, Jay is given at least a little bit more clarification: "I'm a pirate now! I think!" Because that answers more questions than it raises, right? And is definitely a thing you should be loudly talking about in a crowded place.

Lunata's commentary on the food is meant with a knowing nod by Xantia, who may care about the taste of food more than the lore, but she can always appreciate food lore that helps to explain why it tastes good. Especially when it's easy to understand. "I see! So this is what people mean when they say the taste is divine!" Everytime people say that, it means that the recipe literally comes from divinity, concluded. She's learning so much today.

Impossibly, Xantia is already getting close to done with her food. Two down, two to go, with only a little bit of the pork dish remaining. The sauerkraut dish was left for last, which may not have anything to do with how much she actually likes it. Just, you gotta leave something for last.

Keeping tabs on the conversation nearby, she comments, "Vash the Stampede? From the wanted posters? He probably hasn't done anything, with a bounty that high." That's just how she's come to understand how things work. All the people she knows with bounties on their heads are nice people, so someone with that kind of bounty must be very nice!

Also, somebody who she's seen quite a few times, not that she realizes it.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Kaguya was mostly thinking of Matilda rather than the others. The others... Hrm. Nope, "It's like you, huh? You do that." She pauses, listening to the rest, and she actually touches her collarbone briefly in surprise. "...M-me?" she asks, and this time it doesn't even come off as insensitive. She sort of doesn't entirely notice. "W-well, I'm... glad I came."

She blushes a little and goes back to her muffin. Chomp chomp. "Mmph?" She... has manners, honest... Swallow. "Oh! Um, yeah, I'll probably go over, I'm a little hungry. Sure, corned beef, without mustard."

A pause, and Kaguya winces. "Not great. That's pretty fair though; I eat a lot of those either way, but you know how it goes. Where I come from there's a lot of food tolerance variance like that." Pause. "I mean, I'll remember that."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Kaguya was mostly thinking of Matilda rather than the others. The others... Hrm. Nope, "It's like you, huh? You do that." She pauses, listening to the rest, and she actually touches her collarbone briefly in surprise. "...M-me?" she asks, and this time it doesn't even come off as insensitive. She sort of doesn't entirely notice. "W-well, I'm... glad I came."

She blushes a little and goes back to her muffin. Chomp chomp. "Mmph?" She... has manners, honest... Swallow. "Oh! Um, yeah, I'll probably go over, I'm a little hungry. Sure, corned beef, without mustard."

A pause, and Kaguya winces. "Not great. That's pretty fair though; I eat a lot of those either way, but you know how it goes. Where I come from there's a lot of food tolerance variance like that." Pause. "I mean, I'll remember that." Pause. "Do you... want me to head over? I can do that."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.
"Well, I try to be!" beams Shalune in return to Janus; her eyes flick towards the ARM when he sets it down, at least, taking a moment to study the firearm as she continues to natter. "That's what the CaraKin is all about, after all. We figured everyone could use some smiles out in the wastelands, y'know?" she adds, throwing a grin up at the man. Either she hasn't heard of one Mr. Cascade - she doesn't exactly seem to be the sort to keep up with current events on that front - or she simply doesn't care, eager and happy to help out to a fault.
At least she sobers afterwards, though, her expression becoming more serious; she looks up for a moment as if to ask permission, then gently hefts the ARM in her hands, testing the weight and the feel of it. For all that she looks like a blob, she's showing the proper respect - safety on, don't point it anywhere but at the ground. (The sight of Shalune casually hefting an ARM the same size she is may be, perhaps, a little arresting to those who know her.)
"The housing looks okay... when you said it, my first thought was wonderin' if the wood had warped," she reports as she tests a couple of the metal bands that hold the bayonet blade in place, attempting to wiggle them with a finger. "Doesn't seem like it, though-- I'm kinda glad," she admits with a grin. "It'd be a serious shame to have to replace that. The colour's too good."
One hand braces the ARM against her as the other flicks to a pocket, extracting a slim tool in an odd white metal; she holds it between her teeth as she sets the ARM back down, then nods. "The blade's a little out of alignment, and I'm a bit curious about the piston spring. Could be either, really."
She pauses at the bag of Dragon Fossils, grinning sheepishly. "I prefer workin' with Alter Parts, but-- lemme see what good old-fashioned fixing can do first," says Riesenlied's Disciple #43.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
"I've heard of him, but no... I can't say I've met him before," Lunata admits to Meryl. Not that she wants to really meet someone like that. Her mental image of Vash is probably something like a red-coloured Berserk, with additional spikes, and two wrecking balls instead of one.
She does stare at Xantia for a moment, before realising, "Oh right, you're going to be spending time with the Alliance now!" Fellow pirates!! Lunata, just what've you gotten up to...
Meanwhile, Meredin has wandered over to where Matilda and Kaguya are, with an arced eyebrow. "Why, Doctor Whitehead," she cozily smiles. Meredin is also a published author and a particularly reputable scholar in Linga, particularly in her line of work around Zeboim era artifacts and Ruins. She's one of the leading names in that field of work.
She also nods at Kaguya. "Meredin Croze. A pleasure. I've got some aches from a Metal Demon's wrecking ball lingering; I don't suppose you have a cure for that?"
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline returns Kourin's nod when she nods to tell them she'll be fine. If Kourin felt she could handle this alone, Jacqueline wasn't going to interfere...though she does keep an eye on the situation just in case.

She's about to answer Lunata's question, but Meryl handles it herself just fine.

"Vash the Stampede? Well, I've heard of him, of course...but I can't say I've actually seen him, sorry." Jacqueline replies a bit sheepishly. She...doesn't comment on the 'seraphim' thing. Judging by Meryl's reaction to Ge Ramda's tricks, she didn't think she'd be all too receptive to that. Instead, she glances back toward Xantia.

A pirate...? Hm. Somehow she honestly wasn't too surprised.

"Sounds like you're moving up in the world! Hopefully that helps you find the answers you're looking for." She replies with a smile.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Hm. Well, that's quite a bow. It's almost like she's trying very hard to replicate something she's seen before but doesn't quite come naturally to her just yet.

Oh, it's an Elruhan custom, that'd explain it.

"Certainly," Cyre chirps, having apparently dumped points into Profession: Merchant at some point. He takes up one of those darker bottles- the inside is filled with some vaguely translucent, viscous, amber fluid- and offers it to his customer. "Very interesting stuff, you know. There are rumors that using it as a spice can prolong life, but that's kind of crazy if you ask me. Really, what it's good for is adding to compounds to make them better for you overall. Like nature's very own elixer of vitality, except... You know, from a worm."

It might just make for decent fertilizer, too. After all, sandworms don't have much to subsist on, so they need to store their nutrients somehow.

There's a beat as Catenna explains the purpose of the Guardians Chair, and Cyre nods in agreement. "It's like she says. We consider it important, now more than ever, to learn of the Guardians and their relationship to Filgaia and its people. After what happened to Adlehyde... Well, they can use all the help they can get. And so can we. You know?"

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel trades some gella out of a side pocket of her satchel for the tiffin. It smells excellent, and very much to Mariel's taste; she's made plenty of vegetarian stews before, but the flavouring on this one doesn't smell like it's the way she normally does it. Definitely a plus. "Thank you," she says, politely.

The Guardian chair... well, that makes sense after all, but it's not something Mariel needs to take advantage of. She's familiar enough with the Guardians... and she doesn't really want to talk to them right now. She looks momentarily slightly sad, though it passes as she takes the bottle from Cyre. It gives her something to focus on.

She hands it back after a few moments. "I will take this," she says, because she's pretty sure she can think of a couple uses for it. She reaches for her gella again, couting out some - she doesn't seem to want to haggle, but she's not poor either. And she does want to see the rest of the Carakin!

<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


Amelia holds her head up high, and between the pair of Kourin and Amelia, it seems they have the food handled! "Thank you, Miss. But it's too delicious smelling to not be good. I know good food. I can handle a little spice." She's doomed. Dooooomed! Catenna gets a half-bow as she's on Kourin's arm. The mere presence of such curry has her brow sweating. But Amelia is a proper, stoic priestess.

Will prayers beat Curry the Destroyer of Stomachs!?

And then, over to the seats! Cane down, drink gently placed before her wayward Guard friend, and then she snatches over the utensils and curry. It's opened. There's a massive, massive snag of veggies, meat, curry, and rice. It hangs there for a moment as she addresses Kourin.

"Which is exactly why I'm so lost, Kourin. If someone in this world hasn't manipulated you, then why would you leave us? I don't know what went on between you and Lord Leo. But you should know you can't run forever."

Silver follows Spirit! The husky even gives a tail-bap to Kourin's leg, all friendship and warmth! Perhaps the dogs are smarter than their masters.

"You've served faithfully up until now. You've been a pious, good woman, and despite your betrayal I don't regret piecing you back together time and again. Kourin. Surrender to me. Turn yourself in willingly and I'll plead for leniency in front of Lord Leo. The Goddess' love isn't closed to you yet, but you're running out of time. Please, I beg you. I've buried enough comrades on this blighted, unholy world to lose one to sedition. Your soul can be saved." And then...

Chomp. Chew chew chew. She swallows, almost casually, and flicks her hair.

And then one second later, goes from tanned to red to almost blue as the massive gulp of this devil's food hits her. Tears fall from under her blindfold. She sloooowly tilts to the right as she's dragged into a world of fire and sauce and rice! Her very existance is reduced to a ball for a few seconds. A ball of utter burning. Her mouth is hotter than the Badlands. Her soul itself is scorched from the spice!

Voice, suddenly raspy, calls out! "It....This food is..."

Amelia weeps, in joy, in pain. "Oh holy Althena, bless you my Goddess for bringing me this joyous, holy gastronomic blessing!" Calls out Amelia in rapture as she downs half of her drink.

And then she starts shoveling down more and more of the curry. She is soon visibly dripping sweat down her brow. Is that...steam wafting off of her!?

The tears and mild rapturous crying and prayers might be reducing the effect of her diplomacy. But she just. Keeps. Eating. Is this elf mad!?!?

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"That would be great," Matilda says. "Tell her it's for me, of course -- she might not charge you, or might charge you less. If she does, I'll reimburse you." Her voice drops low before she adds, "Or you can take some more muffins."

Meredin comes up, and Matilda can't help but smile. "Why, Dr. Croze -- it's good to see you. And -- of course." She looks over the table, considering. "If it's healing poorly, this should get it going," she says, sliding some blueberry extract across the table. "As for lingering pain, hmmm... this should do -- no more than a teaspoon a night, mixed with a glass of water and taken with food, though," she adds, shifting a jar of powder to the front of the table. "Are you having trouble sleeping because of it? I have a few different formulations for that, too, depending on degree of difficulty..."

She taps her chin, before adding, "So -- what have you been working on of late? I've mostly been here with the Kinship, or out exploring ruins... I haven't found anything you'd be interested in, though -- just plaques too big to carry and ancient pottery, I'm afraid..."

<Pose Tracker> Meryl Stryfe has posed.

"So you think so huh?" Meryl asks of Xantia before taking a couple of huge bites of the pork sandwich and following with a drink of the fruit smoothie. "Well, I don't really know what to think but all the claims blame him directly so I have to see if I can find out more regardless." That's pretty much all she can do for now. Well, at least until she gets more information.

Meryl nods at Lunata and Jay, "Well, if you ever hear more about him, my partner and I are staying the hotel nearby so you can always stop in." She had a feeling that asking around was going to not get her anywhere but an investigators work is never done and Meryl is very dedicated to her job.

Once she finishes her food, Meryl steps away briefly to find a trash can and observe the different people about practically running over Kaguya. "Ooops, sorry about that." Her eyes turn towards Amelia as she makes her praises about the food. "Wow. Someone really likes the curry." Meryl laughs. It almost makes her want to try some. Almost.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Questions bubble up in Catenna's consciousness as she watches Mariel. The sad look the young girl seems to push out of her expression so quickly does not belong to a girl of thirteen - there's too much gravity there.

She just takes Mariel's gella politely, exchanging it for the saag panir and offering a polite bow thereafter. "Please be well," she urges quietly. "And do not hesitate to visit the rest of the Carakin - we have much to offer."

With Mariel moving off, Catenna can turn her attention back to the important matter of Kourin and Amelia. She inclines her head to the latter woman, then clasps her hands together and waits for the bite - but instead ends up listening to Amelia deliver a rant.

And then the bite comes, and it turns out she loves it. Catenna's eyebrows go up.

"Ah... I am glad you like it," she says delicately, inclining her head neatly. "Though I cannot speak to whether Althena is involved."

Then she clears her throat quietly. "As to Kourin," she puts in, still polite, "I should think that this may not be the place to resolve whatever dispute exists between you and she. I am pleased to feed you, but Kourin has chosen her way, and I would ask you to respect it while you are with us."

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

See, Jay understands. Xantia's claim was completely natural and appropriate. "I hope so too!" she affirms at the encouragement. "I'm sure to find something if I travel a lot, right?" Seemed like sound logic to her. But really, the main reason for it all is, "And Fei'll be there to help me!"

Considering that this is the long and the short of her motivations, it may not be too much of a surprise that Lunata's claim is answered with a question, which doesn't really warrent the amount of enthusiasm in her voice as she asks it. "What's the Alliance?"

Xantia, getting involved with things without knowing exactly what she's gotten herself into? Preposterous! Clearly her judgement is sound in all things.

Working on the last of her dishes, Xantia pauses in mid-chew to stare at another table, where Amelia sits, enjoying - presumably - her 'gastronomic blessing'. She stares for a good while, before she raises her hand. "Can I have some of what she's having?"

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
Lunata nods to Meryl at her offer, and she says, "We'll be sure to let you know if something like that happens!" She hopes that it doesn't quite come to that. It'd be awful for the CaraKin to get hit by a human disaster. What kind of auspices of Love and Peace could possibly happen were that the case?
"Mm," Meredin peers inquisitively at the concoction, and says, "It's healing well, but the Yggdrasil's sedatives aren't strong enough. I'll take that," she picks the powder up, and clinks some gella in her wake.
"And me? I've been studiously scouring Rujm el-Hiri," she remarks. "I've spent enough years of my life deciphering it... and now that it's open, and unleashed its curse on my daughter... well, it's scarce time to give up on that pursuit, is it?"
There's only a slightly self-effacing chuckle there. Just a bit.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin sits. She frowns. "No one has manipulated me, Priestess. I simply...I saw the excesses in Neo-Vane while I myself grew up a poor orphan--as you know, raised by the Church of the Goddess in humble piety. How can we see those children who subsist on a daily regimen of bland oatmeal and behave as though Neo-Vane is not corrupt?"

Kourin takes a single bite, in contrast to Amelia, then savors it, closing her eyes and silently giving thanks to Althena, enjoying every bit of the taste before swallowing the food.

This is how Kourin always eats.

"When we arrived here I learned that the people of the Blue Star, of Filgaia, have their own faiths--and nowhere does Althena teach that she is the only Goddess. I saw our brothers and sisters in arms behaving as though those beliefs were heretical, wrong--and yet, I have met these...Guardians...face to face, and cannot deny that they are any less real than our own Goddess, who did not bring the ancestors of the people of the Blue Star to Lunar. How can we preach that they are blessed by Althena, loved by Althena, when the evidence is there that they were not? Even their magic is different."

She pauses again, taking another bite, savoring it. The spiciness seems not to bother the ice mage--it rather seems that she appreciates it a great deal.

Kourin nods to Catenna in acknowledgement and thanks, but continues. "I also heard tales of members of the Guard behaving as though the dictates of Althena should be applied even here--even to the point of property destruction." She doesn't name names. "Tell me, did it never strike you as odd that the hymns to Althena, which I so loved as a child, are banned as unholy? What sense does that make? Could there be some error in the interpretation of the Goddess' word? Could it be that if the corruption of Neo-Vane is taken as an example, that more corruption and self-serving interest is present in the upper echelons of the Church?"

Kourin's voice is passionate now, and louder than most of those here will have ever heard her speak. "I spoke of all this to Sir Leo, and I said to him, as I say to you now: my faith in Althena is unshaken, but I cannot stand with a corrupt church or a corrupt organization. I will seek my own path, and stay true to the Goddess in my own way."

With that, Kourin settles back and takes another bite in sudden silence.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"Okay!" Kaguya answers Matilda. "I'll say so. Hope you do~!" Kaguya... needs the money. But on the other hand, "M-muffins..."

Meredin is here! Kaguya looks up at her, and her muffin is now mostly gone, the picture of... well, enjoying muffins. Her strange eyes are interested, sharp, as she looks between people who... Know one another? Hmmm.

"Kaguya," Kaguya answers Meredin, "Nice to meet you." Shop talk is happening, next. "Atida, I'm gonna go. See you with food!"

At that, Kaguya wanders over towards the Starfall area, and turns the corner brightly to see--

Kaguya makes a strangled noise that could almost be a shriek and is abrubtly hiding behind Xantia as she sees Ge Ramda in all her chefly glory.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Certainly, Miss Stryfe!" Jacqueline replies with a nod and a smile. Similarly to Lunata, though, she hoped they didn't have to worry about it in the near future. Still, Meryl seemed nice enough. If they could help her with her job somehow, that'd be great. She'd have to keep an ear out.

Xantia gets another smile.

"That's right. You won't learn anything by sticking to one area." She chuckles slightly at the mention of Fei, but it's a good-natured sort.

"You're in good hands there. Fei's a good person." She says. But...Xantia wasn't aware of the groups name? Jacqueline...doesn't say anything for herself. Xantia...Xantia should probably figure this one out on her own.

She listens in to Kourin's conversation, and she can't help but feel incredibly proud of Kourin at the moment. She considers saying something, but-

"Ah, hello there, Kaguya!" Jacqueline greets, as she sees Kaguya abruptly hiding behind Xantia.

<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

Janus Cascade is the subject of many rumors! They're even not ALL about him being scum!

His grin is crooked, but not particulraly threateningly so as he watces Shalune work. "Smiles in the wasteland, huh," Janus quips, thinking to...really most, of his outings into the dust. "Well, that's a thing in short supply, darlin'. Good luck with it."

But she starts talking shop, and that gets him to lean in just a bit - though, as an actual person of something resembling competence, he knows better than to get in the way of a professional at work. She handles the weapon well, which is a small load off his mind. "ARM that big makes an impression no matter what I'm doin'," Janus quips. "Figure I should keep her polished, yeah?" He chuckles.

He watches her work. "Sure, sure," he says, to her comment. "I reckon you'll prolly need them for anything too deep, though. That thing takes Demon-era Cartridges." Which means it's got to be Metal Demon-era itself... "It's strange stuff in there." But he steps back, hands in his pockets - an unfamiliar gesture for him, he's so used to having his ARM in his hands these days.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Mariel is buying the Sandworm Ichor!!

SALE GET.

And she even pays for it in full instead of bothering to barter. Cyre... Is not going to complain. Instead, he just nods and takes the money and lingers in thought for only a brief moment on that wistful look that brefly captured his customer's expression. "Thank you kindly for your business," he says, then grins, "And don't let me see you making that face again. You're too cute to be frowning like that all over the place!"

Cyre, still a massive flirt.

And then Amelia goes totally pale and...

Uh.

"Catenna," Cyre hisses a whisper, "Catenna, I thought we agreed no religious culinary experiences at the public marketplace. I know your cooking is amazing but--" Cyre gestures vaguely at Amelia. She's getting everything damp! They'll have to clean it up! It's grossss!

"Well," he huffs as Kourin lays hard into her fellow clergywoman. "I can't be too upset at amazing food. The more people join the curry faction, the better off the world will be, after all."

But there was somethng there about... People from the Blue Star not being chosen...?

What's this all about...?

...

Hm.

"Hmmm," Cyre leans in-between the two women, "Well. You know, it sounds like you two could use some... Spiritual advice, eh? Catenna and I would be happy to help."

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
Lunata jolts just a little as Kaguya lets out a little shriek, and she scratches her head as Ge Ramda goes '??' and tilts her lichly head about... before she expresses, "Um-- may I help you?"
Ge Ramda is trying her best to look... unintimidating, which is kind of hard when your face is half skull and half rotten flesh, however spectral, but on her gloved hands is a pork and beef sandwich each.
"Oh, you know her, Jay?" she does ask.
<Pose Tracker> Meryl Stryfe has posed.

Meryl does not miss Kaguya's reaction to whatever the magic was that had prepared her food. She watches her hide behind Xantia and looks with interest at the woman. "So, it's not just me that was bothered by that huh?" She asks to Xantia, not realizing that Kaguya may be able to actually see Ge Ramda or that there is actually something there at all.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"Oh, have you? I've been there myself -- though all I managed to find were some ARMs," Matilda replies, giving a wave to Kaguya as she starts to make her way away. "I hope your own excavations have been going better -- I mean, with my increasingly regular forways into Drifting, it's hardly the worst thing in the world to have more equipment, but..."

She sighs, then laughs. "I suppose the researcher in me would just -- rather find something earthshaking, you know?" She pauses, before sliding a vial of liquid across the table. "This one is for sleep," she adds. "It's a little habit-forming, so try not to use it more than a few times a week, yes?"

She stretches a little, before adding, "Oh -- and please take a muffin!"

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel looks about thirteen. She looks completely guileless at Cyre's flirting, which is... probably not unexpected, honestly; she tilts her head just slightly as she finishes counting out the silver, and elects not to say anything, instead avoiding his gaze afterwards.

Once she's purchased the bottle, Mariel tucks it into her bag - which proves to be full of similar-looking bottles, as well as some dried flowers and herbs. She doesn't have anything fresh on her today, but she has quite a lot of preserved items. She scoots away quickly to get out of Amelia and Kourin's way.

Mariel finds herself moving toward the Starfall. And there's a scream, which is enough to startle Mariel and make her start, jerking up straight; her ears twitch visibly. She looks that way too - and looks straight at Ge Ramda. Mariel can clearly see her; she's pretty much the opposite of spiritually blind. (It's mutual. There's something about her to highly spiritual beings...) Her eyes widen slightly, and though she doesn't spook herself, she makes an eventual escape, edging toward Matilda's table.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

It's also helpful when people already know the people whose names Xantia mentions as if everybody would know who she's talking about. She'll never learn to assume otherwise when her assumptions coincidentally end up being right so often! "Yeah, Fei's the best!" she readily agrees. Whatever happened there, it seems she's found somebody, moreso than a group, she's planning to stick by.

And then she suddenly has a Kaguya hiding behind her. This situation is unusual enough to make even Xantia remove her attention from food long enough to turn around and look at the little girl with confusion. Is this hide and seek, she briefly wonders, but no, this girl seems frightened of something. "...are you okay?" Jay provides a name. "Kaguya, right? Did something scare you?"

She sure has no idea what could have. There's nothing scary here at all. Of course, few things scare Xantia to begin with. This may be a case of unrelatable frame of reference.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.
"'specially recently," Shalune grins in return at talk of smiles, scratching at her cheek a little sheepishly. "Seems like a lot's happened lately, huh? But we're here, and that's what counts!" she adds, as her good-naturedness builds back around her like a particularly cuddly wall.
"Aw, sure, but something like this - I work in metal, sure, but I can appreciate the wood. It looks nice," she adds in an easygoing fashion. She's crossed towards one of the containers of small parts, picking through it in an appraising manner - and extracting several components of brass which definitely do not look anything like the small segmented brackets that help ensure the integrity of the ARM. She tosses them thoughtfully in her hands - and then into a small white pot that's sat innocently amongst the other inventions around her stall. Immediately, the device starts to thrum, lines of neon blue spidering around its side as it rattles in place.
Unconcerned, the pink-haired girl returns to the ARM to study the magazine instead, frowning to herself. "H~hmm... to be honest, I'm better at gunsmoke ARMs. My skill's more in mechanical fixes than actual modification..." She's a little conflicted, to say the least, but at the same time there's a thought brewing behind her eyes. Cartridges aren't exactly complex, after all, and if she can understand how something works... "... lemme try somethin', at least. No charge if it fails. Kinda wanted an excuse to experiment, actually."
Behind her, the pot chimes a tone, and she turns back to it eagerly to extract - well, the lumps of brass, now in the necessary shape to replace the brackets and looking pristine. What a neat trick.


Meanwhile, moving with surprising speed, Big Shal has appeared next to Catenna and Amelia's table. The golem just sort of stands there for a moment, regarding the pair in a quiet silence - and slowly and patiently turns its sign around. On the backside is:
PLEASE BE NICE
WE'RE ALL FRIENDS
) :)
... thanks shalune
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Kaguya has met Jay! Kaguya has... also now met Xantia. She hears Lunata's voice as she hides, but she can at least see sandwiches in Ge Ramda's hands from when she peeks out to glance. She's asked abot help and... and...

"Y-yes," Kaguya manages, "Hi Jalyrine." ...That wasn't even close that time. But she is looking at Jay when she says it.

"Huh? But don't you..." Kaguya blinks at Xantia, and peeks out again towards the food and the lich and the girls. "I'm uh... I'm..." She pauses. "Is this normal!?"

This time she's looking at Ge Ramda.

"Death isn't the kind of lunch I had in mind..." She pauses, and inches out from behind Xantia. "...A-atida wanted a corned beef sandwich, without the mustard." Kaguya points generally back to Matilda's table. "And I..."

She looks at Mariel. "You see too, right!?" she says, her own pointed ears not twitching but... seeing her... go.

"And um, do you..." Nervous look, "Have anything vegetarian...?"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.
Incidentally, Ethius is standing like maybe fifteen feet away from that table of conflict and interest, just... standing there.
He eyes the sign. He looks back over in Shalune's direction once, and then walks off to some other part of the demonstration.
<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


Some of the sly smile in Amelia fades for a second, and after wiping her forehead with a sleeve, she turns her attention briefly to Catenna. Her mouth becomes a line for a moment.

"Maybe she has. But this path will destroy her, body and soul. I won't let her throw everything away. Has she told you her crimes? I'm certain no one here has been harboring a criminal." Offers the priestess, an edge in her voice for just a moment.

SLAM! Amelia stands straight up, and her angry blow to the table has cracks running down it. Utter zealous fury lurks on her face. For a long, quiet minute, she only smolders more. Then, with a sucked breath and almost tortured sigh, she manages to hold back. Not here. She can't start a fight in the open.

"How...how could you doubt the wisdom of Althena's Four Heroes!? You should well know how sinful even us of Lunar can be! Revelry, drinking, blasphemy! Crimes must be punished, Kourin! I have nothing but pity and love for those of Vane. But Lord Borgan has decreed them unfit for study, and has Althena's blessings!" Yet, somehow, Amelia's words might almost ring hollow. Something about Vane has always bothered her. And then Kourin digs in further, at all the dark things someone so pious and experienced as she is knows.

The very hymns that Kourin speaks of are well known to Amelia. They lulled her to sleep as a child from her mother. She sang them during her studies as a white mage before they were banned. On the day Althena proclaimed such, she wept herself to sleep for the loss.

But she never forgot them. "How can you be so sure of that, Kourin? These Guardians, how much do you know about them? If these being are so true, then why aren't they on Lunar as well!? Evil dwells in this land! Metal demons roam, armies wage heartless wars, and the Destroyer seeks to end everything! You can't trust anything about this place, so far from Althena's touch! The only spirits you should venerate are the Seraphs!"

And then, she falls back to her seat. She feels tired. Her heart aches. All of her secret worries, all of the things that had disturbed her so, Kourin dredges up. But Amelia clings to what she's been taught, to the Guard. They can't be wrong. Everything she's fought and bled and suffered over can't be wrong.

"Kourin. We were sent here to stop the Destroyer. And as Althena's chosen, it's our duty to ensure this world becomes whole. Only by ensuring the Goddess' commands are kept, will people finally be made whole and cleansed of sin! She has descended to us in the flesh, to lead us to prosperity! And I'm sure Lord Leo would agree that she sent us, her Chosen, to save this world as she safeguarded our own. There's no corruption in Althena's Chosen! Our mission and our purpose is holy and clear! We are meant to guide and heal the lost, ignorant souls that inhabit this world!" Amelia's voice, rises just a bit as well. In this last bit there's zero confusion, she truly believes that their actions here are just and divine.

"The only path is through the Goddess and her Chosen. All else is deception, and ignorance. Such blasphemy! Kourin, I don't know who filled your ears with so much poison, but I swear I'll bring you back to us. Even if it costs me my life."

Her voice is choked. She doesn't even sound angry anymore.

She barely can keep in the sobs that wrack her chest.

And then she sits up. Cyre approaches. She hides her face behind her drink, and pulls what little of her dignity back into place. She forces calm into her voice. Up this close? Cyre can see her hand shaking and the grief in her face.

"Maybe you can. My friend here seems to be mistaken in a few things. Maybe you can tell us what you think about these...'Guardians'." Her voice sounds very, very unimpressed with the idea of the Guardians. Moreso now, thanks to Kourin.

Oh, and now there's the sound of something very, very big and massive behind her. It sounds mechanical. Pause.

"...Maybe they're right. I think we should continue this conversation over dinner soon, Kourin. I'm sure you won't be leaving the city soon with your friends so busy." There's a threat somewhere in there, but then she finally drops it.

And starts eating again. Pain and sweating and pure fire is better than her roiling inner turmoil and worry for Kourin's soul. She's half way through all of it. Then she's reaching over, and actively trying to steal Kourin's portion! Defend thyself, wayward Guardsman!

"I'm glad you're safe Kourin. Ignoring that...I've missed you and Spirit." She sounds sincere.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna lowers her voice and leans in towards Cyre, her cheeks colouring a little. "I am not sure I can really stop her," she murmurs. "She is mostly crying on the ground, at least."

Then she opens her mouth a little as Xantia cuts in. She clears her throat and nods. "Of course," she says as she once more unlids the mutton curry and begins to prepare another spot of tiffin - cumin rice, spiced vegetables, and more of that exceptionally piquant red mutton curry.

"I should caution you that this dish is extremely spicy," she advises Xantia as she lids the tiffin and secures it with a little bolt of white ribbon, "and that eating it as fast as the young woman is is really not recommended. Please take your time, and if you prefer, there are milder varieties here as well - including some without meat, if that is your style."

As she packs up Xantia's food, Catenna ends up pausing - right as she's tying the ribbon - as Amelia pounds her fist hard enough on the table to crack it. Catenna presses her lips tightly together.

"I am sorry that there is a rift between the two of you," she says in a milder tone. "But this is not the place to settle it. For now, understand that Kourin is a member of the Caravan Kinship. So long as you come here with peace in your heart, we will gladly feed you." She's preparing another portion for Kourin as she speaks.

"We can talk about our faiths later," she suggests with arched brows. "Perhaps we can share some things with you that will ease your heart."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.
For a moment, the golem seems to almost hesitate when the woman slams the table - never mind the fact that it manages to give off that impression despite not moving at all. Silently, Big Shal appears to impassively consider the way that Amelia tenses, the way she doesn't look in the golem's direction, and--
--apparently comes to a conclusion, as a giant doofy hand ever so carefully extracts something from one of the still-open shelves and holds out a lollipop between two fingers, waiting for Amelia to accept it.
... ... ... the golem appears to have no concept of 'blindness'. Oh well. A nice try, at least.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

I'm sorry Amelia Rose, but did you just call the guardians evil and utterly untrustworthy?

Cyre's eye twitches, visibly.

"Ohohohohooooo man, do I have so many words. SO many words. The number of words I have outnumbers the number of stars in the sky. Haaaaa. Hoooo." Cyre sighs and leaaaans back, fetching a flask of... Something or other as Big Shal steps in and does Big Shal things. "But if they have to wait, well. I guess I should probably... Refine some of those words, huh."

Hm.

Or maybe not?

Cyre seems to be considering it.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.
Ge Ramda looks dejected for a moment...
...
But then quickly whirls around in a huge whirlwind of activity! What could the Reaper-adjacent equivalent be up to? Oh, before long...
It's proudly stacked up a sandwich full of strips of fried tofu, cabbage and lettuce with a balsamic sauce, served on a kaiser roll! "Wah!" Lunata gasps. "This vegetarian sandwich looks really tasty! Miss Kaguya, yes we do!"
Ge Ramda looks self-proud for a moment, as she turns to serve a mustard-less corned beef sandwich as well.
"Here you are!"
Meredin, meanwhile, chuckles richly to say, "Mmm. It's understandable, but I'm afraid the earthshattering discovery might be over there in the kitchen at present," as she points towards Lunata. A pause. "But when you get to my age, you tend to be happy finding a hundred little discoveries that all add up to one another. And... there is the matter of the city underneath it."
She pushes her glasses up.
"More mysteries await."
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Ah, yes, I do." Jacqueline says, with a nod toward Lunata. Kaguya confirms it...kind of? That's...well, Jacqueline will take it. It had been a while, maybe she'd forgotten? She was looking directly at her, after all.

"Oh, you're ordering for Matilda?" Jacqueline says. Or at least she assumed so, judging from the way she was pointing at Matilda's table, and 'Atida' sounded close enough...maybe it was an accent?

"In that case, I think we can manage a discount, don't you think?" She said with a smile and a wink toward Lunata.

She does glance over to where Kourin and Amelia are speaking. She does notice that Cyre and Catenna have stepped in.

She'll have to thank them for that later, especially considering that Cyre seems to be...perhaps possibly at the end of his nerves. She sends the two of them a reassuring smile.

Everything's good here, really. Especially with Big Shal on the scene!

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel actually wants to listen to an Althena priest(ess)... but not right now. Not when they're arguing. She has had enough trouble with this crowd without making it worse.

Also, Ge Ramda.

"Yes, I see..." she replies to Kaguya, before looking at her in a way that seems vaguely uncomfortable for about three seconds. It's weirdly probing, and kind of unpleasant. Mariel shifts away from Kaguya afterwards, as if she found something that made her uncomfortable - though it's hard to tell what, since there's not anything obviously unsettling about Kaguya. Maybe she really wants to get further away from Ge Ramda.

This means she ends up closer to Matilda. Mariel looks at her supplies, wordlessly, for a few moments at least.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin simply looks at Amelia. "It is...it is very difficult, sometimes, to admit that we are wrong," she offers, quietly.

"I am glad you are well also. I would not wish harm on you."

Spirit wags his tail hesitantly at Amelia, licking her hand.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia briefly looks towards where there was just a huge argument happening. Then she looks back towards the serving area, and its floating food. Then back to Kaguya. "Nope, everything looks normal to me!" With that affirmation, she adds with a confident smile, "There's nothing to be afraid of. If anything bad happens, I'll just go beat it up!" That solution's never failed to solve problems before!

Things don't actually seem strange to her until Kaguya says Death wasn't what she was expecting to be on the menu. "You weren't expecting a Death Lunch from the Death Waitress?" Come now, that just makes logical sense!

Okay, there is one more thing she doesn't get. "What's 'vegetarian'?" she asks, while overtly chewing on the last of her corned beef. Then Catenna proceeds to explain the curry, mentioning there's a variety without meat, which makes her question, "Why would I not have the meat?" Nope. Even if explained, there's not a chance that 'not eating all of the foods' is going to make any sense to her.

...Did she actually get the message that the curry she's about to be served is something best not eaten quickly? Given how quickly she was eating before, this is questionable, at best.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"Ah, yes -- we'd turned around before proceeding that deep," Matilda says to Meredin, with a nod. "It's -- difficult to outit an expedition to go that deep, though I'm sure I don't need to tell you that. We were at our limit just getting there..." She sounds almost exhausted just thinking about it. "I'd love to help when you have a plan for going deeper, though."

Mariel comes over, and the young girl catches Matilda's eye for a moment. A Beastman? ... November City does accept all kinds, one supposes... "Oh -- can I help you find anything?" she asks, her tone just a little softer. It's almost involuntary; Matilda doesn't want to patronize her, but she does look like a kid...

+Vote: Cyre H. Lorentz has voted for you.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.
That quiet man who has been appearing here and there with precious little to add - to the point of being completely unnecessary to note the presence of - appears to find some reason to have fate intersect beyond a meeting of glances and words.
He steps just past Mariel to put something on Jacqueline's display. Is this strange man here to buy som--
No, that's something that should be on the table to begin with. Looks like Ethius caught a would-be shoplifter. (There does not appear to be any blood or ash on the retrieved product.)
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Now is not the time, Cyre," Catenna murmurs with a shake of her head, reaching over to touch the Beastman's hand delicately. She gives him a meaningful look, then leans back to her own booth.

Turning to Xantia again, Catenna offers her a mellow smile. "There are some who prefer vegetables and dairy. If you prefer meat, there is plenty of that here for you," she assures as she extends the tiffin up to Xantia. To open the lid is to be confronted with the incredibly spicy mutton curry within, practically waiting to be devoured...!

"Please let me know what you think," she encourages, clasping her hands at her waist. "And if you require a drink to cool your mouth down, we have that available as well."

<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

Janus looks increasingly worried as Shalune admits to not quite be in the line of work he was hoping for, and when she breezily sweeps the ARM away, he holds out a hand. 'not exactly complex?' They shoot magic lasers! "Ah--" he says, slowly, but she's already swept away. "Well, hell, free's free." Worst cas,e he has that Hetfield woman's number... But he grimaces just the same. "Be careful with it, little lady!" he says, with a little more heat than he quite intended. A man's ARM is his dearest partner, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"Y-yes," Kaguya answers Jay about ordering for Matilda. But she looks at Mariel for a few moments too, uncomfortable indeed under that look. "What gives...?" she asks, dubious and unsettled. What is she seeing? ...There's no way she could...

Kaguya lingers looking at her for a moment and then back to the Saloon-in-exile. For her part, she knows one attribute that can make people uncomfortable, but...

"You will?" Kaguya asks, "Well... okay," she agrees with Xantia, "Sure." A pause. "Death Wait--Oh that's--"

But Ge Ramda looks somehow sad to Kaguya, and the small Veruni looks a little sad herself to see it. Suddenly there is sandwichmaking, and Kaguya isn't sure it's that but takes a half-step back before she sees--...Oh... "Wow..."

"T-that does look really tasty, um, thank you..." Kaguya steps forward, "Oh right, how much...?"

A tip of he head to Xantia, "It means I don't eat meat. I don't... Like to." She seems embarrassed.

<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


Silver, thankfully, is one heck of a guide dog. He barks as the great Shal the Big extends that lolipop. Amelia turns, on the verge of starting to cry again between spice and the confrontation with Kourin. She lifts her hand up, and it daps against the sweet.

It takes her by surprise. She pauses, seemingly confused for a second. Then she feels, and takes it. The big metal thing just gave her...a sweet?

Amelia visibly bites her lip. Her hand reaches out, and pats the metal golem's chest.

"I think I needed that. Thank you." She whispers, as she pulls one last piece of dignity out of her pocket. She sits up, and addresses the trio of non-Golem.

"She is? Then I would like to thank you for taking care of her. I hope she hasn't been any trouble." Is she mocking the CaraKin curry specialist? Maybe, maybe not. Still, she sees sense.

"Forgive my temper, my Child. Peace is exactly why I'm here."

'Ease her heart'. Her laugh is bitter and low. "Please do. And three more orders of your curry."

She's piling in. As for Kourin? Mmmph nomf scarf. Chomp chomp chomp. She's still Larpan, and her table manners are awful. "I agree. But I believe you'll get there, Kourin."

Spirit licks her hand, and...Reach. Scritch pet pet nomf sweat gasp. She's out of drink. Amelia doesn't care. The Good Boy gets so many pets.

Meanwhile, Silver is done with his bone. There's a big husky face suddenly in Kourin's! He tries to tackle, and lick lick lick in the face! Amelia takes the opportunity to pull over Kourin's order. She shoves aside her empty one, and tucks in.

Head turn, and she breathes actual fire from her mouth. Then tucks in more. She's leaning hard, like a drunk. Nomf nomf nomf.

As for Cyre?

"Maybe you should join me with Kourin for dinner. I'd like to hear every single word that you have about the Guardians. Your opinions might be useful." She tries to sound dismissive of the obvious anger in Cyre's voice. She mostly sounds like she's in her own personal heaven of soul rending spice right now. Chomp!

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin sighs. "It is...good to see you, despite our disagreement," she admits. "Spirit missed you, I think."

Then Kourin is ambushed by Silver, who clearly missed her--and despite herself, she starts to laugh and play with the dog, rolling on the ground and wrestling with him.

Let Amelia have Kourin's portion of the food--she's clearly enjoying it, and it's clearly helping her cope with the things Kourin said. Kourin has a Good Dog to play with who hasn't seen her in ages.

Kourin's laughter is a rare thing, though less so since she joined the CaraKin, and her usual poise and dignity doesn't seem to matter when such a friendly dog is playing with her.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel seems to have seen something, but... Either way, she's not looking at Kaguya right now. She doesn't realize she'll be back over soon to deliver food to Matilda.

Mariel stops in front of Matilda's table. She spends a moment looking it over, then up at the woman herself - then back down. Maybe she determined that Matilda wasn't real thrilled to see her. Or maybe she's just bracing to be treated like a child.

"I'm actually an herbalist," she says, without raising her eyes from the table, gaze shifting around as she decides if there is anything she wants to pick up. You're never too old to learn, after all. (And yes, she recognizes the irony in that compared to the way she looks and the way she expects Matilda to treat her.) "I thought I would look at other compounders and pharmacists..." That word seems a little strange in Mariel's mouth. She prefers other terms. Apothecary, maybe.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.
For a moment, Shalune's eyes track the argument going on to one side, concern running across her face before she catches the words 'Althena' and 'Guardians' - and the pink-haired girl actually shows something other than her sunny enthusiasm, her face falling for a moment as she heaves out an aggravated sigh. It's not particularly at one party or the other, so much as the situation as a whole - but it's also gone in an instant as she firms her expression back up and directs her attention back towards Janus.
It's something of a relief when the raised voices stop, clear in her eyes.
"It'll be fine, I promise. I mean-- fixing up the arm to stop the creaking's totally doable, I get what's happening there. I'm just not so hot at workin' with fossils, is all," she assures the Drifter as she lays out her newly-created brass brackets, placing each of them near the one it's intended to replace. The tool she pulled out earlier is apparently some kind of odd multi-tool - a custom piece of work that allows her to carefully begin taking the ARM apart. She's remarkably fast given that she saw the thing for the first time ten minutes ago, but careful as well, keeping all the pieces in place unless necessary.
"I was just wondering if I could make a cartridge of my own, is all. ... um, though I do understand if you don't wanna risk it. And it'd probably run out super fast, if it even worked at all." She pauses, and then frowns as a squiggly line fills the space above her head. "Okay, well, maybe I'll leave it 'til I have a better idea of what I'm doing. It'd just be nice not to have to rely on fossils, y'know?"
Brackets replaced, the old ones certainly show a lot of wear where they've rubbed against the wood repeatedly, and in one case compacted down slightly. Carefully, the girl rebuilds the rifle, and takes a single step back. "... I guess I should get a target for practice shots," she realizes for the first time.


... still not understanding the situation, Big Shal rotates another of those thumbs ups into position, slowly lumbering back a couple of spaces. It seems... quietly proud.
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

There, crisis averted! Seeing Kaguya comfortable enough to go and accept some of that delicious food, all is right in the world, as far as Xantia's concerned. "Of course!", she reaffirms her intention to beat up anything she might consider 'bad' when prompted to. It's only natural!

Next, Xantia calmly listens to Catenna's explanation, hears Kaguya's further explanation regarding her tastes in food, but there's clearly no understanding there, her reaction only a frown and the general statement, "That's strange." Why would anyone ever not want to try every food there is, when everything is tasty in its own way? So bizarre.

She doesn't dwell on it, though. Not when there's more food to eat! With a happy "Thanks!", she digs right into her curry. She didn't listen to the warnings. She started eating it real quick. It doesn't take long for her to pause, and start coughing.

"Wh... what's going on...?" she wonders aloud in between coughs. She didn't have a drink of her own, and is desperate enough for one to grab the nearest drink she can find, no matter what it is or who it belongs to, downing it immediately. "It... it's good... but it hurts..." This is a new experience. She's not sure if she likes it very much.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Kourin has been a model of good behaviour," Catenna assures Amelia with a raised eyebrow.

Amelia places another order; Catenna lays out three more tiffin boxes and begins to load them up with the curry Amelia was just stuffing into her face. One by one, she ladles the curry into each box, then stacks them up for Amelia to retrieve at her leisure. "I hope they serve you well on your journeys," she offers politely. "And may the blessings of Celesdue go with you." She's nothing but polite as she says it.

Surrendering the curry to Xantia, she looks on as the woman starts cramming her face full of curry. Glancing to one side, towards Cyre, she lets her shoulders sag ever so slightly in resignation.

Nobody ever listens to the don't-eat-it-fast warning.

"It is spicier than you are used to... all of the curries are made with chilis and spices. This is why you should eat slowly at first. Here," she says as she steps back behind her booth, then heads back towards Xantia with a cool glass of slightly almond-flavoured milk and a plate of fresh celery sticks. "These will help you cool down your tongue." Evidently she anticipated someone having Riesenlied Problems with her brand of food and prepared accordingly.

With Kaguya now in earshot, Catenna arches her eyebrows and looks over to her with a spark of recognition in her eyes.

"I am glad you found your way to freedom," she says. "Are you well?"

<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


Amelia runs her hands through Spirit's fur, luxuriating in all the warmth and the pure love. So uncomplicated. So friendly. Not like her relationship with his owner. The sounds of Silver and Kourin laughing and rolling around has her smiling. It's not sly. It's a very, very sad smile.

"Don't make me write any eulogies, Kourin. Take care of yourself." She whispers to the other woman. A secret between the pair.

And then she lifts up Kourin's portion of curry, opens her mouth wide, and scarfs it all down at once. Gulp.

Catenna delivers! She actually smiles. "I think...Lord Leo might like some of this." The spicey heavenly doom shall only spread. There's a heavy coinpurse suddenly tossed Catenna's way.

She audibly chokes at the name. Not because she recognizes it, but the priestess knows blasphemy when she hears it. She wants to punch something. But then, suddenly, that entire bowl of curry hits her all at once. Timburrrrrr. The elf falls out of her side. She is sweating like a waterfall. And then her mouth opens.

Ignore the giant fire that reaches up into the sky from Amelia. This is definitely fire magic folks. And not the arcane divinity that is Catenna's Ultra Curry.

Even Amelia cannot defeat the Ultra Curry. FOR NOW!

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

The confession that Mariel is a fellow herbalist gets Matilda back to enthusiastic. It's a little surprising, granted -- Mariel is so young -- but it does seem to get her attention. "Oh really? Is there something that's catching your eye in particular? I admit I mostly specialize in analgesics and anesthetics at this point -- I also know a variety of mixes useful to Drifters, of course, and the standards... I like to work with fruit, too. It's rarely particularly strong, but berries..."

She trails off there for a moment. "I have something of a knack for growing them even on the move -- I had a cart, for a while." She blinks a few times, adding, "My, though, I'm sort of -- rambling, at this point, ahaha... sorry, even here where there are other potion experts I sometimes get a little starved to talk shop..."

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

To Xantia's credit, even though she noted how it hurts to eat, she... doesn't actually stop eating. Because it's also tasty. In the dilemma of not being able to eat a tasty food without pain, she'll evidently still choose to suffer through it. Then again, suffering may be a big word. There's not even any tears in her eyes or anything. Perhaps she's more used to this than she knows - it's possible, given her amnesia.

She just has to pause again, soon enough, gratefully accepting Catenna's offerings to help her cool down. Used to it or not, she'll definitely need that to not end up suffering Amelia's fate.

Still, she has to wonder, "Why does it have it hurt...?" While many others probably wonder why she doesn't stop eating, if it makes her half as uncomfortable as she looks. But that's just how Xantia rolls, she'll finish anything she starts. Though even she may think twice about starting something the next time she hears the word 'spicy'... maybe it does make sense to like certain foods better than others, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Amelia Rose has posed.


Amelia reaches to the sky. On the border of spice and death. A voice calls out.

"It burns good!" Is that to Xantia? Maybe.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Strange? Kaguya doesn't think it's strange. She frowns at Xantia. "...It's fine," she insists, and then handles passing out money in favor of taking the two sandwiches offered to her. "Thanks!" she says to... Ge Ramda, still a little dubious, but smiling slightly anyway. It's a very, very, intensely awkward smile. "I'll uh... try it..."

A dip of her head to Lunata too and she starts to sneak away, without really sneaking. She even smiles at Jay. But... Catenna's here and--

"Nope," Kaguya answers back to Catenna's question, "But I have food!" Beat, "Nice that you made it out. I hope you hurt somebody on the way."

And then... Well, Kaguya comes up behind Mariel, even shorter than she is, and tilts her head at Matilda. "Oh are you talking business?" she asks, and steps around to the other side of the table, Matilda's side, to set down, "Lunch! It'll keep so don't let me interrupt you or anything." She smiles at Mariel. It is not that awkward, as she picks up her sandwich. "Mmm..."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Turns out Catenna's ghost pepper curry is stronger even than the power of blasphemy. Catenna looks on with quiet wonder as Amelia crams her face with one of the hottest dishes in her arsenal and seemingly doesn't feel so much as an ounce of discomfort.

"Perhaps the blessing of Althena truly is with you and your tongue," she murmurs, perhaps too softly for Amelia to overhear.

She offers Xantia a faint smile, clasping her hands once more once she's surrendered the cooldown grub. She does not, however, explain why it must be spicy. That goes without saying.

If it weren't spicy, it wouldn't be so delicious.

She nods back to Kaguya, stepping back behind her booth. "I did," she admits without so much as batting an eyelash. "If you would like something to take on the road with you, I have a very nice dish with no meat that I think you might enjoy."

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"Well, I'm not looking for anything in particular..." Mariel says, ears twitching as she bends down to get a better look at a bottle.

She straightens, looking at Matilda. She seems... not relaxed, really, but slightly less worried. She often seems a little depressive, but it's not showing much right now; she's got her dinner, she's got someone who can talk potions... "Actually, I grow a lot of plants myself. I might be able to supply you with some if you're looking for anything in particular," she says. "I just didn't bring everything, because... well, it seemed rude, since you set up this... event?"

She's not selling her fresh stuff today, after all. Well, not most of it anyway.

"You can do a lot with berries, though. And herbs," Mariel says, more firmly. "More than people think." She might have said more except there is Kaguya. Right behind her, no less. She starts to one side, her ears flattening down as she sees/feels the other woman nearby. "Ah, we were..." Well now she's off-balance again!

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda glances at her freshly-arrived sandwich with a smile. "Oh thank you! ... Did she charge you?" she adds, with a smile on her face as she looks at the sandwich thoughtfully. She doesn't want to be rude -- but she is really hungry. "And -- not business exactly -- not yet, anyway."

There's a whole lot of bottles. The one Mariel's looking at actually trends more toward 'tool' than 'curative' -- it's for melting rocks and steel. "Oh -- that one's a favorite among Drifters... I actually get a lot of use out of it m myself," Matilda says. "And -- I'd really like that! I've been looking for unusual herbs, of late, I admit... I'd like something with a psychoactive component. I had to, um, poison myself, to escape capture recently, and I like the idea of the stimulant I had in the moment, but I need something to tamp down on the loss of control that results from one of the neurotoxins involved..."

Yow.

She glances off to the side, adding, "We can talk about business later. And, erm -- this is Kaguya. She's... we're -- close?" Matilda laughs. "... actually -- if you know of anything that can help with a chronic wasting condition..." She knows Mariel won't. ... but it's hard not to ask.

<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

Somewhere, Cecilia Adlehyde has an unbelievable sneezing fit, and then eats a hamburger.

Janus' eyes are similarly drawn. But his reaction is a low, unimpressed chuckle. "Taking care of people ain't really what the Guardians are for," he clucks, idly pulling a stopwatch out of his jacket and flipping it open, mindlessly checking the time. "That's your own responsibility." He says it more to himself, but his eyes do track up to Shalune after a moment, noticing her grimace. "That talk get to you, little lady? Don't you worry. Long as those hands can work with an ARM, you shouldn't be needin' any spirits to save your hide." He looks over to Big Shal, in particular. "'specially with tallpockets, over there. You do those modifications? That's a heck of a piece of work. Smarter 'n' anything I've seen in Drifter hands, for sure."

He leans lazily against a convenient pole, finds it doesn't quite support his weight, and somewhat abruptly rises back to standing. "If you could make a new Cartridge, mate, I'd be singin' your name in every town from here to Nortune. Sounds like a blast, but maybe take a look at what's out there before you go in." He chuckles. "If I've learned anythin', it's that we gotta be real, real careful with anything that shoots the shit that comes out of a Cartridge. Some of the damn things are barely not magic."

He watches Shalune finish reconstruction, and grins at her belated realization. "Go get 'em," he says. "You reseated the Bayonet, too, right? Maybe a sandbag, then, too, if you got one of those."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Plants. Mariel grows them apparently, as Kaguya's ears pick up a bit of the conversation while she moves. Across the table, though, sandwich in hand, she pauses, and lowers her sandwich with a smile. "Oh yeah, we can handle the amount later," Kaguya says. "Got a discount."

A beat, "Okay, business later, we--" Kaguya blinks as Matilda calls them close, blushing slightly as she looks to the taller woman. "You--" Ah. Chronic... Wasting... "Ha ha I doubt it," Kaguya says, and looks away. "I-I agree about plants though. I'm a botanist, so..."

As a matter of fact, there's an orange blossom at Kaguya's breast pocket. It has bright features, petals that curve inward... and is almost certainly like no flower Mariel has seen, unless she's seen a lot of Veruni plantlife.

<Pose Tracker> Arash Khan has posed.
Arash Khan's wardrobe looks like he's dragged himself in from ten years out in the wastes. His coat is patched and frayed, parts of his vest are dangerously threadbare, even his hat's got a few fresh bullet holes. But his expression, the wry curve of his 'stache, that is as cheery as ever.
"One Burger Kinship-size, please. Medium-rare with oh, those Octovren fruit pickles that fella's getting with his. You see when they're in season they just-" It seems to take effort for him to not chat while chowing once his order arrives. There seems to be quite the crowd milling around, and what else would he expect from the opening of the great Carakin?
A bright column of curried flame draws in his attention. Without thinking, he applauds! "Bravo, bravo! These eyes ain't seen a Blazing Pillar Finish like that in ages." A prickle on the back of his neck tells him that ice magic is also present here. Ice magic...with a dog! He pets the dog. "And awww what a nice puppy you've got there. Lookit that fur. That there's a product o' some real care. Oh, and where are my manners, the name's Arash. Say, are y'all part of a troupe?" Arash's tact when dealing with mages remains...legendary.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline had taken a position in the background for a while, helping assist the other customers present. She can practically sense someone in need of information, and before too long she's approaching Arash with a flyer in hand. Unlike him, her clothes are neat...pristine. Of course, those who knew her well enough would know that's because she bought them specifically for this event.

"Of a sort." She replies with a pleasant smile, offering him one of the flyers. "We're the Caravan Kinship, a merchant group. Starting today we're going to be wandering the Badlands, offering food and wares to travelers in need. Perhaps we'll see you around sometime?"

Judging from the state of him, she imagined he was the wandering sort.

"As for myself...I'm Jacqueline Barber. Pleasure to meet you! Care to check out some of our products?" She asks.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin picks herself up from wrestling with Silver, dusting herself off. She glances over at the new arrival--habit, making sure she's not being tracked here by the Guard. Even though she's just been arguing with one of the Guard.

Habits die hard.

"Ah, Priestess Amelia is not one of us," she offers, not looking Arash in the eye.

Habits die hard.

"I recommend the curry. I think she does too."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.
"... it's not that it got to me, exactly," puffs the girl as she turns back to Janus, her brow down in a frown. "It's more like-- well, I was hopin' we'd get away without tying ourselves to one side or another, y'know?" she grumbles softly, just a little under her breath before she lifts her head. "I'm worried about takin' sides in a situation like that. Can't we just be 'the CaraKin' and have that be it? That's where I'm coming from," she admits with a light shrug--
--but a compliment to Big Shal, well, that gets her beaming. "Aww, thanks! I can't claim all the work, y'know - when I found her, the body and one leg were still intact, so I copied what I could, but the arms are all-original." Probably explains why they're kind of out of place, and a little patchwork. "But it's not like I programmed her or anything. That's all her," she adds blithely, as if it weren't a stuning feat.
(Some day later, perhaps, Shalune might begin to realize that the synchronisation with her ARM, shared with the golem, might have had an effect. For now, though, Big Shal is Big Shal.)
She does at least take on Janus' advice with a straight face, frowning a little to herself. "Yeah... that's true. ... I guess it's just one of those things to think about, but it'd be pretty great to manage. I-- might pass up on modifying your cartridge, sorry," she adds with a faint smile. "I don't think I'm far enough along at using fossils."
"--oh-- yeah, the whole thing should be a bit sturdier now," she adds as she perks up, suddenly scurrying to the back of the caravin. "Um, I think we had one here-- hff," she adds with a noise of effort as she lugs a sandbag out of the back, heaving it into place by a wall.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna took a few minutes to serve up some tiffin for a few more latecoming visitors. Most of them are asking for the stuff Ignas people can eat without devolving into fire-breathing dragons.

Some of them are smart.

Sending another customer on their way with a tin full of curry that did not originally come from the tin, the priestess-turned-ration-provider brushes her hair back with delicate fingers, then clasps her hands and lets out a soft rush of breath. She overhears Kourin recommending the curry and tilts her head towards that little conversation cluster, watching as Jacqueline and the ex-priestess engage the new Drifter.

"There are curries which are not quite so hot, if that is your preference. There has just been... some spectacle, I think, around the more spiced ones," she comments with a crook of her eyebrows.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel is probably one of the most experienced people when it comes to the plantlife... of Filgaia. She has grown more kinds of flowers, bushes, shrubs and trees than some wastelanders know exist.

She doesn't, in fact, recognize the orange flower. She can think of two or three things it looks similar to. Maybe a hybrid? But no, it's not quite right for that, either; the hybrid of what she's thinking of would have a different curve, and it probably wouldn't be quite so evenly brightly coloured. This is going to bother her all night!

"Psychoactive..." Mariel doesn't approve, overall, of doing it for fun, but there are plenty of reasons why you might actually need something like that. And there's plenty of herbs and mushrooms that qualify. "I think I have some, or I can get some that might work. I'll see what I have in the city, and then come and show you."

But then Matilda asks a serious question. Mariel actually looks at Kaguya again - not quite the same way as she did before, but close. It's piercing but less... discomfiting, somehow. "It depends," she says, "on what causes it. But I - I don't know. It's..."

It's hard to say. Mariel looks away again. "I'm sorry," she says. "I think that might be beyond me right now."

<Pose Tracker> Arash Khan has posed.
Arash takes the flyer and reads it over with genuine speed and attention. "Would I ever, Jacqueline! As you might see from the shape of me, I'm always looking for some of the ol' Drifter essentials. And I think I'll have me your best vindaloo to start. Oughta be spice enough. 'Lessen princess Amelia here could recommend otherwise..." Is Amelia in the right shape to be recommending anything though?
Amid the hubbub he notices the ice mage's distinct lack of eye contact and name. Reminds him of his son, honestly. Just need to be patient. And continue petting dog. "Now what should I call this good doggy here? Such a nice pup must have a wonderful name."
<Pose Tracker> Janus Cascade has posed.

"Heh. Sorry, little lady." Janus can't suppress a grim little chuckle at her disappointment. He shakes his head. "Sometimes out here, your sides get picked for ya. Just the way it goes. Somethin' you're gonna have to learn how to live with, if you're gonna keep that smile on." He cocks a grin at her. He means it to look inspiring, but given the tone of the words, maybe it comes off odd.

The news about Big Shal has him look again thoughtfully. "Ah-hah. Yeah, I see it. Can't remember the last time I seen a golem that wasn't pretty immediately hostile. Be careful with that thing." He suddenly addresses it abit less warmly, eyes cutting back to Shalune. "My advice. If you can't see inside its head, you don't know what's in there, yeah? If golems and humans have one thing in common, it's havin' surprising masters."

And then, it's time to accept the ARM, and he weighs it in his hands thoughtfully. "Heh. Well, guess I'll find another stall for that, then. No worries, little lady, it's a big city. I'll find somethin'." Though his grin does falter as he briefly checks the time again, then tucks his watch away. "Gonna have to move," he mutters. But he doesn't leave just yet.

Instead, he tests the bayonet, rushing at it suddenly and jabbing it in deep. No hesitation. Practiced. A foot rises up to roughly kick the bag off the blade, sand spilling out.

He's done that to people.

"Nice and solid. Perfect. Thank you kindly, little lady!" he grins. He reaches into a pocket; provides his payment; and then retrieves his bag of Alter Parts to wander off in search of a higher-level crafter.

..........he literally never called her by name, did he.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Well, if you need Drifter supplies, you've come to the right people!" Jacqueline replies with a smile. "We have curatives and potions of all kinds, as well as other essentials such as rope."

She gestures toward her own setup on the Carakin at this, as well as Matilda's stall.

"Our mechanic can fix up practically anything you've got, though it looks like she's with a customer right now..." She gestures toward Shalune, though at this point it looks as if she had just finished.

"And if you need spice..." Kourin recommends the curry, and Catenna joins in as well. Jacqueline nods and smiles.

"Yes, I can recommend it heartily as well." She adds.

She strolls toward Kourin at this point.

"...Hey, are you alright?" She asks quietly. Just to make sure.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

As Arash makes an order, Catenna arches her eyebrows slightly, surprised that people from Ignas actually know enough about curries to order them by name. Apparently this one has been to the right part of Elru. "You know your foodstuffs," she observes as she opens one of her many pots and begins to prepare a tiffin box for the man - cumin rice, some spiced vegetables, and then a fiery pork vindaloo. It's not as palate-ravaging as what she gave Amelia.

This one, she didn't put ghost peppers in.

She lids the box neatly and loops a length of white ribbon around it. Once she's tied it off, she offers it up to Arash with a neat smile and an incline of her head. "Here you are," she offers.

"My name is Catenna," she says. "Please let me know if I can do anything else for you."

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"Great!" Matilda says brightly to Kaguya, again resisting the temptation to sandwich. ... a third glance at it proves too much, though, and she takes a big bite before speaking further. Once she's swallowd, she nods to Mariel, saying, "Thank you very much -- I'll follow up with you for sure." She really wants to get that stimulant functioning... and not just for herself, either.

Mariel's sudden discomfort meets with a bit of an awkward look, and then a glance away. "It's -- unclear," she says, quietly. "There's -- something about Filgaia..." She sighs, and says, "Thank you anyway. It -- was kind of a stupid question."

Her shoulders sag a bit. "If there's anything you'd like -- either to buy for yourself, or to analyze -- please don't hesitate," she adds. "There's a muffin with every purchase."

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin looks away from Arash, then answers, "His name is Spirit..." She trails off, then, turning to Jay. "I...I believe I am, yes. I...have faced White Knight Leo and told him much the same as I told Priestess Amelia. It was harder then, but I did it. I stand by that."

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Spirit, meanwhile, is a Very Good Boy who wags his tail and greets Arash with a friendly lick to the hand.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Matilda seems to like her sandwich, and Kaguya is pleased with that. She picks her own up again, and proceeds to hold it for a while. As to flowers, Kaguya could totally explain... But she probably won't. She has a wagon full of flowers unfamiliar to flower experts.

Psychoactive, Mariel comments, and Kaguya 'hmms' a little. "Well that's good, trading along..."

But this time Mariel looks at Kaguya again and it isn't quite so bad. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other, glancing to the side. "I..." She didn't really expect anything, but when Mariel looks away, Kaguya shrugs with a little shake of her head. "It's... Fine," she lies. "The cause is..." Matilda is speaking up instead, and Kaguya looks at her in brief alarm as she almost says what it is.

"Hey, Atida..." Kaguya reaches up and rubs her arm, "Thanks for asking." It's... softer, and more tender than her voice tends to be.

"Atida's stuff is great," Kaguya chies in, smiling again. "I use it all the time." Finally, she bites into her sandwich. "Mmf--"

"Mmff!" It's... really, really incredible.

<Pose Tracker> Arash Khan has posed.

Mmm, this is a proper Elru curry. Arash takes a few bites with relish, considers that his family's imam would be quite displeased about this, then keeps on eating. "Ah ha, Catenna, Catenna! I wouldn't be half the Drifter I am today if I didn't try each curry I came across."

His next words are quieter, thick with the smell of conspiracy. "Now between you and me, there're a whole heap of neighborhoods all through the Seed Cities that're starving for a good curry. Coconut curry, goat, tomato, you name it. They've got family recipes kept from who knows how long, before the star-fall even, but just can't grow the ingredients right out here in the Badlands. If I had a good word in, I might just introduce a few to y'all at the Carakin..." Of course he seals this with an overly wide-eyed finger to his lips.
"Ohhh, who is a good dog, Spirit. You are. And what's that? You say you love your human with all your fuzzy heart? Well ain't that sweet!" He makes a show of whispering to the dog. "Oh-ho, so that's her name, isn't it? Good Human. That's a fine one."
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel may do a lot with medicine, but Kaguya...

Mariel isn't sure what Kaguya is. She doesn't feel right to Mariel's senses, the ones that humans don't always have and that only weakly. And with Matilda saying 'it's something about Filgaia'... well, Mariel is feeling a little unsettled. She is still here, because her tendency to want to make things and people better is warring with her unease. She hates seeing anything hurt. She doesn't even like to hurt insects if she can help it.

Thinking about Kaguya makes her feels very, very old all of a sudden. Maybe Filgaia is passing her by and she didn't even realize it; she's already had one big shock this week. Things are changing again, and she doesn't understand how. But she won't - can't - give up on her dream.

"I can check on those materials and get back to you," she says to Matilda. "I need to make a stop in Krosse soon, but after that... I'll probably see the Carakin again. But until then, I should go." Her ears droop, whether in tiredness (possible) or depression. "I can... maybe I'll think of something. My name is Mariel; I travel and trade. You can keep watch..."

With one last look at Kaguya, Mariel makes a hasty - polite, but hasty - exit.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline nods back to Kourin. As long as she was alright, that was fine. She really did admire Kourin's strength. It must be hard, to have people you once knew and worked alongside treat you that way...

Could she handle it, if something like that ever happened to her...? She hoped it never came.

Still, she sends Arash a smile as he talks with Catenna, then goes off to man one of the stands once more.

It seemed to her that this event had been a resounding success so far. The future was looking bright!

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda's comment seems to go mostly uncommented-on -- though she notices Kaguya's alarm and feels a little bad about it, when she realizes what she could've let slip. ... then again, the invaders from Lunar are known quantities at this point -- and Kaguya does have those pointed ears...

... nevertheless, as Mariel makes her way away, Matilda just offers a quick, "... thank you," before finally sitting down and taking a real bite of her sandwich. She scoots next to Kaguya, saying, "... Heaven's no closer than it was yesterday, I suppose," a little glumly. "Or -- perhaps it is, and therein lies the problem..."

Her shoulders slump.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Kaguya isn't really sharing what she is; what she appears to be is just maybe a beastwoman, or something, or maybe not. Small, and young. But...

That's not really it, of course.

"Krosse," Kaguya repeats, and thinks about it. See the CaraKin... "Um, maybe," Kaguya says politely, but ust dips her head as she eats her sandwich again.

So it is that she is there to listen to Matilda, staying close to her nce the taller woman scoots over. "Heaven, huh...?" the Veruni asks, shaking her head for a moment. "I don't know."

She takes another bite, and then sets her sandwich down, slipping her arms closer to give Matilda a hug from the side. "Don't worry."