2018-03-11: Reunited Behind the Lawman's Back

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<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Althena's Guard has been cracking down on the forms of entertainment once peddled by traveling caravans and carnivals like the one Jean lived and worked in. Some of these proprietors have stayed ahead of the law by taking their acts on the road.

Among the more successful ones at evading the lawman is this one: Drago's Bewitching Troupe. The caravan itself is a simple caravan that looks like it could pass for a piece of farm equipment - except for the brilliantly-coloured silk curtains, patterned carpets and colourful posters slapped across it. They're the sorts of decorations that could be pulled in at a moment's notice if the Guard showed up. The Caravan has stopped off the highway a ways, in a wooded clearing where the first light of the Blue Star winks through the treetops, mingling with the crackling light of the fire.

And the sounds. The chuckle of boisterous voices, and the sound of someone tuning a stringed instrument of some kind - it sounds a lot like a violin.

When the group of CaraKin explorers find the place, they'll find the bonfire roaring cheerily in front of a small raised area just ahead of the caravan, with a modest crowd of daring audience members gathered around. Alcohol flows freely; the members of the audience chuckle and laugh and wait in anticipation. But there's a furtiveness to it all - and the surly Beastman with a crossbow sitting in a tree not far away, watching the distant road, says it all.

Entertainment of this sort exists illicitly here. If this is indeed where the woman on the poster wound up, there's a certain risk in staying.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It hadn't been easy to track down the Bewitching Troupe. However, they were their only lead to finding out where one of their lost friends was, and so any amount of effort was worth it. Eventually, however, they find it.

Jacqueline elected to approach on foot. It was unwise to display the Carakin openly, and besides that it might startle them if she were to suddenly pull up to them in the large, foreign vehicle. Startling them was the last thing she wanted.

She approaches the wooded clearing carefully, taking a moment to take in the decorations. She can definitely approve of how colorful everything is, but unfortunately she's not here to appreciate their aesthetic sensibilities.

She nods toward the others.

"Alright, let's go. Be careful, we don't want to do anything that might cause trouble..." Jacqueline says with a nod toward those who've accompanied her.

She steps out of the forest, moving to join the audience that's currently gathered around a small raised area so she can get a closer look. She's dressed in a fairly nondescript fashion today, in a thick coat and pants rather than one of her dresses.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius was - no, is! - very interested in meeting with this Bewitching Troupe. Given his behavior when they first appeared in Meribia, just about anything Ethius claims should probably be seen as suspect, or worrying. The usual worrying signs of 'Ethius is probably going to do something disagreeable' do not manifest, at least.

He gives the colorful decorations close scrutiny. This probably goes without saying, considering he seems to have a policy of 'stare at everything.' Otherwise, he allows Jay to take the lead.

Here on Lunar, he still seems to dress the part of a rough-looking fellow, having decided to add a hood and longer gloves to his basic manner of dress. The yellow bandanna around the lower half of his face remains. One would think he'd want to look more approachable, but... who knows.

Just as Jay goes on ahead, he does look to the rest that might accompany him.

"Be patient, and watch," he advises.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin is dressed in a simple blue and white peasant dress, her travelling disguise. Though she wears a simple dress...she's still carrying her rapier. It's simply wrapped in cloth, like a bundle of...bread, or something. Very long, thin bread.

Spirit is padding alongside his mistress, having been instructed clearly to stay at her heel.

She looks alert; a lot like she used to before she had the CaraKin to rely on. Her eyes scan the area for Guardsmen or potential snitches.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It's only been a few days since the Carakin's arrival on the moon. Since then, Cyre has acquired a cool new cloak to replace the one that is still covered in (his own) bloodstains, found a great spot for stargazing near a fallen magic city, annnnd...

...A monster's waifu shrine.

...That was kind of a thing, yeah.

But now, he's back to the task at hand. After combing through whatever leads they could find, the Carakin's tracked down one of their wayward members to... A performer's caravan, nestled out in the middle of the wilderness where the Althenian Guard ideally won't find them.

Cyre is perhaps a little more eager than the others to get in, find what they're looking for, and then... What?

Enjoy the evening, if opportunity permits?

Transform and instant hell murder a bunch of overbearing no-fun guys as a giant tiger man?

We'll see what the night brings. For now, though, he moves alongside the others, his face cowled underneath his adorable kitty-ear hood. "Right. No trouble in the place already breaking some kind of awful religious rule. Got it."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The Beastman up the tree with the crossbow - he's a bit more tigerlike, with a couple of dark cheekstripes, then a few more lacing through dusty orange-blonde hair - glances from his tree towards the little group of new arrivals. But Jacqueline doesn't look like the Guard, and neither does anyone else with her. With a simple nod, the sentry looks back towards the road.

The crowd doesn't seem to notice the arrival of the little cluster of visitors - or if they do, they're treated much like anyone else, given perhaps a suspicious look as if to check if they're Guard before the folks in the audience go back to drinking and chatting and waiting. There are still a few free places to sit, of course. That's mainly because attendees seem to just be standing, or tossing a cloak or a sheet on the grass and settling in.

After a bit of a wait, the person with the stringed instrument - some sort of violin-like affair - eases to the side of the stage and drops down, barely in view, next to someone else with a couple of drums and a third person with a tambourine.

After a short wait, a dark-bearded man in a brilliantly-patterned cape steps up from the crowd and onto the stage. What he's saying is hard to make out from this far back, but it's sounds florid. The words 'performance' 'Blue Star' and 'Celes' can be heard.

'Celes' was the name on the poster. Either way, people start clapping. Someone even goes 'Woo!' from a little ways off over there.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline might be a little nervous about going alone, but thankfully, she has some reliable friends at her back and can proceed with some of her usual confidence. She nods back to the others, and scans the clearing for a fairly open area.

It's a little packed, but she does eventually find a place they can stand freely.

"I brought a sheet and some snacks, if anyone wants to sit down..." Jacqueline offers. She doesn't immediately set either out, though, because for now she's fine with remaining standing - besides, it would be much easier to keep an eye on the stage that way.

Her eyes are drawn to the beareded man in the patterned cape.

Performance...Blue Star...'Celes'...

Jacqueline smiles slightly. That couldn't be a coincidence, could it? Though a bit subdued, she joins in with the clapping.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Well, at least Cyre doesn't have to worry about competition from the other beastmen in the area. The guy in the tree may be a tiger but he's also an orange tiger. White ones are rarer and thus obviously better.

Cyre idly tugs his hood a little bit further down his head as he starts to notice the suspicious looks and wary glances. How bad is the punishment for drinking, dancing and merry making, anyway? Like, do they flog you? That's just ridiculous.

But then... Something about a performance, the blue star, a woman named Celes...

But why Celes? Like, Celes...tial? Huh. Weird. Ah well.

Well, one way or another, it's... gotta be her, right?

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin's got her hands full of rapier, making it difficult to applaud. Instead, her eyes dart around the crowd. She's not interested in sitting...just, standing, watching, keeping look out.

It's Celes-DUE, Cyre.

Not that Kourin's saying that.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius takes stock of the sentry up in the tree with the crossbow. He lets his eyes linger on that crossbow for a moment. Whatever he gets from giving it a look-over, that seems good enough for him as he follows Jay, Kourin, and Cyre into their space among the crowd with the usual stoic air.

As people assemble where they're going to stand in the crowd, Ethius makes sure to stand back behind Jay's immediate left. This ensures the best coverage and protection for her as Ethius is not only a lefty, but it prevents right-handed pickpockets from sneaking up behind on her from that side.

Rather than applaud, he stands at attention with his hands behind his back as there's talk about a Performance... Blue Star.... Celes.

His right hand goes to his forehead. He looks a touch less composed.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

It always helps to have friends, and Jacqueline and hers can easily find a cozy little place to sit. A couple of women seated nearby glance at them before going back to smoking something that smells a little like something Cyre would smoke, but a little mustier. Even the drugs smell different on the Silver Star.

The man up at the front finishes his piece; someone over there is bawling at him to get off the stage. He doesn't; he wraps up his sentence, then ducks back into the caravan. For a moment, there's silence.

Then a shivering violin note.

And at the head of the stage, something bursts - and a pair of big plumes of coloured smoke fill the air. One's blue; the other's white. They bloom across the stage with a suddenness that causes the audience to gasp. The violin note holds - breathlessly - as the smoke begins to clear.

When it does, someone's revealed on the other side, holding a pair of huge white and blue feather fans across herself, head bowed. The violin continues to hold. The person on stage looks up.

It is unmistakably Catenna - albeit in makeup and dressed a lot like Jean in a white-with-blue-and-black-trim theme, and launching herself into a startlingly good fan-dance routine. The music is even upbeat and vibrant - probably a lot moreso than Catenna would normally be associated with.

Where she learned how to actually do this, the Guardians only know - certainly she's never done it for the group back on Filgaia. But folks are clapping along. Even the watchman has stopped watching the road and has turned a little to try and discreetly watch the performance.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline...well, she's not a big fan of the scent, but she does her best to ignore it. She doesn't want to come across as too out of place.

Her attention primarily goes to the stage, however, and she watches it closely for signs of 'Celes'.

"A-ah!" She exclaims, as a pair of plumes of colored smoke erupt out. She watches as the violin note holds...and then, she appears.

Catenna.

Jacqueline never would've expected to see her like this, never would've expected her to even know how. She stares on in awe as Catenna dances, too overcome for a moment to even clap along with the others.

She doesn't say anything yet. She doesn't want to interrupt the show.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin is glad to see her friend healthy and whole. She is less glad to see her engaged in such a dangerous pastime--for Lunar--as this, but that's more because she's worried about her getting in trouble with the Guard.

She's looking out for any signs still of trouble.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius breaks away from his (many) thoughts when Catenna all but bursts onto the stage with the sudden hiss of white and blue smoke. These color motifs reappear a few times. White and blue... this may be worth hanging onto for later.

The way 'Celes' moves, with such energy and grace - he's never seen her like this before. It's her, she's here, she's dancing to the adoration and adulation of the gathered crowd. This should be a relief, on the whole. This isn't the first time the Caravan Kinship has had its members scattered after a situation beyond any of their control.

He casts a glance over to Cyre to gauge his reaction.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Ethius glances over to Cyre.

There's a problem with that.

Cyre is not there, you see. Instead, there is a dotted line approximately where Cyre should have been.

There's a sudden commotion as a shadow falls across the glittering face of the not-so-distant Blue Star. A shape like a great winged creature crosses the gap, carried forth on a roiling, powerful gust. It sails over the cheering crowd, over the line of musicians, white cloak splayed wide as the figure descends gracefully onto the stage.

...It's...

A masked man, in a cat-eared cloak.

But it's a mask that 'Celes' would immediately recognize as belonging to a certain savage Nahual.

...Who immediately falls into a dancer's stance, and deftly offers a hand.

I-is he... asking her to dance with him!?

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Who knew Catenna could even be lively and upbeat? Much less the other things involved with what she's doing. She throws occasional glances out into the audience as if to make eye contact now and then, but otherwise her act is a surprisingly graceful routine of moving limbs and sweeping fans and vibrant music. The audience, at least, seems engaged.

Particularly a younger, clean-shaven man Kourin spots in the audience, his brown hair swept back. He is notably not clapping, but he does seem to be watching intently. He looks down at one point to write something down on a small scrap of paper.

The Guard may not be here, but there's always someone willing to sell out his or her neighbours for the sake of devotion to Althena. Kourin may have found him.

Catenna seems to have no idea anything is amiss. Nor does she have any idea her friends from Filgaia are here.

Until a shadow darts across the face of the Blue Star - and someone descends to the stage. 'Celes' stops moving, and blinks a time or two.

Her cheeks immediately turn bright red as she realizes that it is, in fact, Cyre H. Lorentz behind the mask. She glances out to the audience, and for just a second, makes eye contact with Jacqueline Barber.

It is safe to say Catenna has never been so embarrassed in her life.

The music stopped when Cyre arrived. Things pause for a moment - until 'Celes' takes a few steps forward. She drops a fan - and lays a hand in Cyre's before pivoting to the other side of him, taking him with her to spin him around.

"Cyre, when we are done here I am going to bite you," Catenna murmurs just loud enough for him to hear. "Very firmly!"

Then she pulls him into the dance. She sticks to just one fan because her other hand is occupied.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Everything seems to be going just fine...at least until Jacqueline takes her eyes off Cyre just long enough that he...simply disappears. Not, not disappears, he flies - drifting in front of Filgaia to land right on the stage next to 'Celes'.

Catenna looks in her direction.

Jacqueline looks back, with as apologetic of an expression as she can manage.

This...was not exactly what she had planned.

But of course the show must go on, and Catenna and Cyre begin to dance.

Jacqueline watches, feeling somewhat embarrassed for Catenna's sake and glancing around, hoping no one's put two and two together yet.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin moves over towards the young man. She sits down next to him. She does not look at him. "You do not appear to be enjoying the entertainment..." she observes. Spirit lets out a soft growl.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius recoils as he watches what might be probably one of the most romantic reunions the people of the Silver Star will never know the depths of. Now he sees that Kourin has moved forward to speak with someone else. He knows not the circumstance, other than the idea that things might be about to go pretty badly--

--Badly by what standard, exactly? He leaves Jay's side to try and close in through the crowd. A crowd he has no hopes of making his way through in any manner of timeliness.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

For a moment, the world stops. The crowd stares and gawks, one unfortunate woman who was almost certainly dragged into watching this sordid affair by her would-be suitor gasps and almost sags to the ground in shock. And Catenna can tell-- SHE CAN JUST TELL-- that he's grinning that awful, mischevious smile under that damn tribal mask of his.

Cyre takes her hand in his and gently rests the other at the small of her back. He leans in so that his lips nearly brush at her ear. "Oh? It's a date then," he whispers back in a voice that is not at all concealing any bit of mirth, "Something else to look forward to tonight."

And so they dance. The music starts up again. It turns out that, growing up in a culture so focused on the physicality of worship, Cyre is a superb dancer in his own right. The music moves him, his motions mirror the rhythm of the pounding drums as the pair whirl and weave across the stage.

Of course, with two dancers so deftfully intertwining with each other on stage, the music may just grow a little bit more... heated than it once was.

These kinds of performers are nothing if not excellent improvisationalists, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

As Kourin makes her move, the young man neatly folds his hands, no sign of his bit of paper in sight. "Of course I am. They're very talented," he says with a smooth smile, though the fact that his shoulders have gone a bit tense somewhat undercuts his outward enjoyment.

Catenna can't hold eye contact with Jay much longer, nor can she really wrap this up without arousing suspicion - not with Cyre already doing enough of that. If nothing else, the audience seems to love it. She's still blushing intensely, and as Cyre leans in she does flick her fan up to give him a playful whack on the shoulder with it. It only draws whistles, because of course it does.

The music kicks up again and Catenna finds herself surprised: Cyre's as good at it as she is. The blush she's wearing passes as she twirls across the stage, occasionally pulling in against him, then swinging out, then twirling around him with a few surprisingly academic moves. They're not the sort of things she'd use for a ritual dance under the full moon, but hey, nobody's completely innocent, right?

Eventually, the music winds down, coming to a rising crescendo - then a finish, with a sweep of a fan and a bow on the part of 'Celes.' A couple more puffs of smoke go off.

When the smoke passes, the little audience is applauding and whistling furiously.


MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE CARAVAN....

"You are a terrible man," a breathless Catenna huffs tartly at Cyre, before kissing him quite firmly.

And that's about as long as we spend on that, for the sake of the innocent.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

"I wonder. What would that sentry with the crossbow do, do you think, if I were to whisper in his ear what I saw you doing just now? Althena has always abhorred violence. The prohibition on dancing is far more recent. I think it important to consider just what you wish to do from here." Kourin smiles, then places a hand on the youth's shoulder.

Her left hand.

Even through the glove Kourin has taken to wearing, the youth will certainly feel the chill of ice...

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Cyre was bad enough, and then Ethius has to go stalking off. Now, Kourin she trusted to go off on her own - she had Spirit with her, and Jacqueline could trust her to be responsible. If she left, it was probably for a good reason.

But Ethius?

When Ethius starts to move, Jacqueline quickly starts following after him, because who knows what it is that he's gotten into his head? She does glance to the stage every so often, taking a moment to enjoy the dance between the two lovebirds, but before long her attention always returns to Ethius.

"I-I thought I said not to cause any trouble...!" Jacqueline murmurs to herself with an exasperated sigh.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius cannot get to the stage in time, or - actually - even at all. The crowd is into this. Nobody will give up space. He can hear Jay's complaints a ways behind him, unaware that it seems to be directed at him more than what just transpired on the stage above. He can draw no closer. Jay should be able to catch up to him with next to no trouble.

He closes his eyes. This is...

...worth inquiry.

"Are these performances usually this exciting?" He asks of no one in particular.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

With all the gyrating, whirling, dipping, retrieving and twirling they're doing up there, can it be said that anyone at all in the audience is truly 'innocent' anymore...? Still, 'Celes' displays a few techniques that Cyre can only barely keep up with. Where did she learn to dance like that...?

But soon, the music comes to a final coda and the clouds of smoke signal the end of the performance.

Though not, as it stands, the end of Cyre's night.

MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE CARAVAN.

Nope, definitely not the end of Cyre's night.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Speaking of troublemakers.

A cart creaks along. Because it's GL episode 4, it's a very simple cart. There's a lot of supplies on the cart. Lydia already has a bunch of pouches of silver that she has placed in the cart. It's modest. Not what she has managed to make in Filgaia, but it may be seen as a surprising start considering the situation.

"Explosions, explosions, la la la~" Lydia sings. She crawls to a stop as she passes by the Carakin. She blinks a few times and starts pulling her cart along after her.

She watches the performance for a while before adding, "It looks like some of you folks are thirsty after a performance like that." She says, snagging up some bottled water.

"I hope I could interest you in this delicious pure spring water that improves viritility and vigor."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The young man gives Kourin a sidelong look, biting firmly down to his lower lip.

Startled by the cold hand, the man edges to the side, giving Kourin a sullen look. "...Fine, fine," he mutters before tossing a slip of paper out of his cloak and squirming away as best he can in the hopes Kourin will leave him alone, provided he's not continuing to do what it is he's doing.

The piece of paper has a couple crude sketches of 'Celes,' Cyre, the musicians and the caravan owner, with names. The caravan owner is flagged with the name of Drago.

Evidently the young man was making a list of people to rat out to the Guard. Kourin has likely spared this caravan a substantial bounty and a bout of pursuit from Althena's goons.

The musicians have stuck up their tune again; the crowd has gone back to chatting idly amongst themselves, listening to the music. A couple of servers are circulating with tankards of alcohol. Seems the dancing is over for now.

One of the servers does give Lydia a dirty look. "Hey, you don't work for Drago...."

There's a pretty clear path to the caravan, and one could likely slip in through the rear door that currently sits unwatched.


INSIDE THE CARAVAN...

"But how did you find me...?" Catenna asks.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin collects the paper, then withdraws without another word to the young man, heading back over to rejoin Jay...and spotting Lydia on the way. She sighs. Kourin's work will never be done. She starts to make her way over to her wayward friend.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline certainly catches up to Ethius, though she has to take a moment to catch her breath. Making her way through the crowd was tough work...she hopes that it'll disperse somewhat now that the...excitement has passed.

"Not like this, I would think." Jacqueline replies, even though he wasn't asking her. "...But they have to excite the crowd somehow, with how risky it is to even be in a place like this..."

She shrugs, then.

"I'm going to go see if I can't speak with Catenna. Will you cause any trouble if I leave you here, or would you rather accompany me?" She asks, affixing Ethius with a scolding look.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"We're giving you a free show," Lydia with absolutely no sympathy. "You're serving alcohol. Do you want these people showing up dehyrated, getting caught by the Guard, and then spilling the beans on the operation? I'm doing you a favor," Lydia says. "By selling water."

She waves a hand over to Kourin but is in maximum Ragnarok Online Merchant mode right now. She could go hardcore by mentioning a few names, but honestly she thinks the ban of alcohol is stupid. She sticks to this light sort of friendly suggestion.

She then goes in for the kill. "Besides." She adds, "I'll pass on ten percent of sales to you."

She winks.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"Miss Jay, I am not the one that--" Ethius is cut off by a loud upturn in the musicians' play. There's a hand to his forehead again. There is a direct path to the caravan they might be able to sneak inside, he notices...

...as much as he notices Lydia workin' the art of the deal. Her voice just carries through the crowd a lot more easily than one would suspect, at least to his ears. He's about to turn away from Jay to address this, which is when she will know...

...that yes, she should probably drag him.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Well," Cyre says INSIDE THE CARAVAN, "You wouldn't happen to have seen the posters they've been putting up, have you? Whoever you have doing sketches is pretty amazing."

Beat.

"So. When did you learn to dance like that?"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The server gives Lydia a suspicious look before sighing and continuing on with her tray of booze tankards. "Fine, fine. Just don't make a habit of this."

Lydia is left to go about her Ragnarok Online business. She ends up with a few handfuls of silver as thirsty patrons pay up for crisp and delicious water. Some people seem to prefer it. They may have come to watch dancers swish around to the music, but apparently some of them aren't going to push their luck too much.

Jacqueline gets a clear line through to that side door. It looks like it'll take her pretty close to the room Catenna and Cyre just vanished into. Indeed, one of the servers ducks through it once she's sold off most of her alcohol.


INSIDE THE CARAVAN...

Catenna is blushing pretty intensely. "...Some of it was ritual," she admits shyly. "The rest I learned from watching others."

She lowers her face to Cyre's shoulder and lets out a faint grumble. "I should have known they were putting me on posters!"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline's not about to let Ethius go interrupting Lydia's business when she's in the process of making a good deal. She does not 'drag' him, per se - it's more of a firm grip to urge him to follow her. He could probably wiggle his way out if he really wanted to, and she probably wouldn't be able to stop him.

With him or without him, though, she makes her way through toward the caravan's side door. She's not particularly stealthy about it - she just looks like she knows what she's doing and expects not to attract too much attention.

Bringing an Ethius with her may or may not complicate things.

She makes her way inside, where she can hear Cyre and Catenna talking from the other room. Very cautiously she knocks on the side of the wall.

"Hello! Um...may I come in?" She asks. She...figures it might be a good idea to check first instead of stepping in unannounced.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Whatever it is that compels Ethius, Jay trying to give him a firm tug as to ensure he doesn't leave her sight appears to win out - maybe in the short term. At least he has shown (so far) zero signs of intending to burn down anything tonight, which is... good?

Otherwise, he stands dutifully a ways behind Jay, hands folded behind his back as he awaits an answer as something of a negligible presence.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

LYDIA GETS PAID. She makes sales. If anything, going to a new world without most of her junk has only energized her. Eventually she makes her way over to Jacqueline and Ethius. "Hey Jay." She says to her. "I forgot to mention, but Margaret from the Althena's Guard? She gave me 160 silver just for being sassy." Maybe not just for being sassy but she isn't about to advertise Margaret's private backstory. "Actually that happened before I saw you guys. I was going to give it to help the Carakin but I figured 160 silver? Who cares, right? So I made it into more silver first but thanks to these sales I just made, I can donate it to you and still be frosty."

She looks over to Ethius and adds, "Hey Ethius." A long pause. "Are you in trouble again?"

She pats him on the shoulder once. "Don't worry. I didn't start any riots. Promise."

Didn't start any riots yet, Lydia.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE CARAVAN.

"Just from watching?" Cyre asks, that mischevious glint in his eye again. "You're a natural; I can't believe that was all just from... watching."

A moment. Cyre gently... Pats her on the shoulder, "There there. They were very good posters. Nothing to feel bad about."

"Though uh. I was kind of surprised about the dress and all."

KNOCK KNOCK IT'S A JAY.

"We should probably... take care of that."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The door is no obstacle to Jacqueline Barber as she drags along the Caravan Kinship's lumpy puppy. Beyond it, there's a short bit of tight corridor, and then a doorway marked with a few Lunarian glyphs. They demarcate it as a changeroom.


INSIDE THE DRESSING ROOM...

"You are absolutely incorrigible," Catenna grumbles faintly, before giving Cyre a small bite on the shoulder as if to chide him. It's not enough to hurt. Her voice lowers a bit. "...Well. The other dancers dress like this. So did Jean--"

There is a knock on the door. Catenna gasps and jumps in surprise. Her cheeks practically ignite.

"Give me a second," she murmurs at Cyre, before adjusting a few things.


ON JAY'S SIDE OF THE DOOR...

"Come in," Catenna calls after several seconds.

When Jacqueline opens the door, she will find Catenna standing beside Cyre, blushing furiously, but nodding to her with her usual dignified smile. "Jay... I am glad you are alright. I had hoped you had made it... and the others...?"

Her dignity is somewhat undercut by the fact that she's still holding Cyre's hand.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Am I in trouble again? Ethius has to take a moment to consider his answer to this. He stares blankly ahead, out into the crowd of people enjoying their DELICIOUS WATER as he is consoled by a friendly shoulder pat.

"Very well, Miss Lydia." Something about him suggests there's something more on his mind, but it might just be so deeply esoteric into whatever weird laws of rhyme and reason govern LUMPYVILLE that it simply isn't worth going into further at this time. Still, that is an overly vague answer that doesn't really succinctly nor singularly answer any of the statements or questions said of him, huh.

When the door opens, Ethius follows from behind. Hands behind his back, he peers from over Jay's shoulder - that answers at least one of 'the others,' then.

He eyes the held hands, looking back over to Cyre, and simply just closes his eyes as though deciding better of a given thought that is also being dumped and buried deeply somewhere in LUMPYVILLE.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Hello, Lydia!" Jacqueline replies with a smile, that falters someone when Lydia continues. Her attention leaves Ethius for a moment. "...Oh, she did?"

...She's not entirely convinced it was purely due to sassiness, but she's not about to press her on it. Instead she just smiles again and nods.

"I see...well, that was kind of her! You don't have to, really...th-though we are a little low on funds right now..." She replies. It is around this time that Catenna calls back, telling her it's safe to come in.

She enters the room, and upon seeing Catenna Jacqueline's face lights up and she clasps her hands together.

"Oh, Catenna, it's so good to see you again...! I was so worried when you didn't show up along with every one else..." She says. She does not call attention to Catenna's hand-holding. "We all seem to be here, for the most part! Matilda ended up on another continent entirely, however, and I'm still not sure where Doctor Ardan is..."

Her expression falters a bit.

"Carina's still unconscious, though...but we've been taking good care of her! I hope she won't be too alarmed when she awakens..." She adds. "But, you'll be surprised...the Carakin came with us, too!"

She adds the latter in a hushed whisper, just in case someone's passing by. This is mostly for Ethius's sake.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin goes and joins the others greeting Catenna. She is quiet. Spirit slips a bit forward to nuzzle at Catenna.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Look at these two degenerates, HOLDING HANDS like it

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Look at these two degenerates, HOLDING HANDS like it's the most natural thing in the world. How foul they are, how deeply dyed their souls are in sin. They should be ashamed of themselves!

It's too bad Cyre abandoned his sense of shame back on the Blue Star, or he might not just be grinning through the flush on his face.

"Hey Jay," Cyre says with a bit of a wave with his ~free hand.~ "I found our lost Cat."

"You had us worried sick, you know?" Cyre asks with a feigned huff. "I mean, after everything that happened at the garden, I was terrified that the A Bao A Qu had gotten you again or something. But--" He gives her hand a gentle squeeze, "I'm glad to see you safe."

Beat.

"Oh uh," he frowns, "About the Carakin. Your egg wasn't there for... some reason. Did you... Happen to have it somewhere...?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Yeah I figured." to Jay. "Cause y'all have merchant hearts but you don't have a swindler's spirit, and when you start this low, a merchant's heart ain't enough." She hands off the silver. "Be nice to Margaret if you can. She's one of the reasonable ones." Pause. "There ain't a lot of reasonable ones, you know?"

Course, the Carakin did come along it did. That sure helps when it comes to saving money. "Nehghh... I wonder if the Fereshte came with. Hopefully not. I don't want it blown up by the Goddess whom people actually apparently can see and hang out with."

She shoves her hands in her pockets. "Matilda's forming a mercenary company with Kaguya. I guess she intends to fight in the war. Dunno for who, exactly."

She shrugs her shoulders and looks towards Ethius for some reason expectantly.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"L-lost Cat," Catenna repeats as her blush grows all the darker. She gives Cyre's hand a firmer squeeze.

Her shoulders sag ever so slightly. "No... I am sorry I worried you. I was separated from you in the Garden when the Lord of Calamity appeared," Catenna admits with a blush and a dip of her head. "Berserk hurt me quite badly and it prevented me from getting out of the tower in time... and I had to care for someone." Reaching down, she scritches fondly behind Spirit's ears, flashing Kourin a gentle smile.

She reaches out, then, to pick up something sitting on one of the dressing-room tables. It's a little bundle of cloth. The priestess cradles it to her chest.

Within, a sleepy-looking baby owl opens its eyes, staring at Jacqueline with mild curiosity and comprehension.

"I brought the Egg with me when we went up," she admits with a gentle smile. "The Bird was born during the fight with Berserk."

As the Owl closes its eyes again, Catenna blinks at the mention of Carina and the CaraKin. "I am glad you are caring for Carina... hopefully she will be alright. I will be glad to rejoin you all. I... I worried about all of you, greatly."

As Lydia speaks up, Catenna frowns slightly. Go figure, she reflects internally.

"More power to her," she says simply.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius' eyes open about as fast as eyelids can ever hope to retreat from the closed position. Before him, a touching scene involving the miracle of life against all odds, a tearful reunion between people who weren't sure they would ever see one another again, and... so much more. This should be a time of relief and reflection upon their current situation. The beauty and comfort of all of this, suddenly, flies right out the window within the psyche of one man.

...

"I am glad you are well, Miss Celes. Please excuse me--"

Ethius looks back out from the caravan. There are still so many people in revelry, having themselves a great time. In the middle of all of this, even surrounded in the company of those one would consider friends, at that moment he seems to just wall this off - the pleasant smoke teasing of what its source will do to one's worries, the music of those who feel backed into a corner to continue their craft, the motion of those who feel a weight lift off their souls just to be able to move their bodies freely...

"Miss Lydia." He addresses her at last. He does not look her in the eyes. He is barely speaking above a whisper, above all the revelry outside. He shouldn't be able to be heard.

"Once we return to the CaraKin, we will talk."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline chuckles a little at Cyre's joke, then glances toward Lydia and moves to let Spirit through.

"'S-swindler'...if you know it's swindling, you really shouldn't do it..." Jacqueline murmurs. She doesn't seem like she'll raise too much of a fuss about it, though she does seem slightly hesitant in accepting the Silver.

"O-oh no...I'm sorry we couldn't be there for you, Catenna..." Jacqueline says. She opens her mouth, but whatever she was about to say is cut off as Catenna picks up a certain baby bird. It stares at her with those bright, big eyes, and for a moment, the only thing she's capable of is,

"A-aww..."

It was quite touching, in a way - that life could spring forth even in the midst of destruction. Jacqueline hopes it's a good sign.

"Yes, I hope so too. But...it'll be good to have you back, Catenna. We've all missed you. I...just hope Drago won't be too upset about us taking away his headliner..." She murmurs, folding her arms in front of her contemplatively. ...And then Lydia says something that gets her attention.

"...W-wait, she's...what?? I didn't hear about this!" Jacqueline says, more than a little surprised. She's...not entirely sure she approves of this...!

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"I will confer with Miss Lydia about the matter directly." Ethius speaks upover Jay's outburst. That may not be reassuring!!!

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Just so you know, it was a surprise to me too." though whether this is to Jay or Ethius is hard to say because she's probably just afraid of getting into trouble herself. Ethius gets to be in trouble, sure, but Lydia doesn't wanna be in trouble! She's just being real!

"Well, I mean, I'm not goin' hard," Lydia says. "But we gotta eat." She glances aside. "...Any transaction where you make a profit beyond a service fee is kinda swindlin' anyway." She huffs faintly but then looks back to Ethius, blinking twice. "Sounds uh. Sounds good."

She glances over to Jay and adds, "Don't shoot the messenger though."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Oh! Oh, the reason the egg wasn't on the CaraKin is... That there is no more egg! It has transformed into an adorable little owlet. Look at its big, round eyes. Cyre resists the urge to go over and scritch its tiny fluffy head, but only barely.

"You fought Berserk too?" Cyre says with no small amount of awe. "I'm even more glad you're still in one piece. It sounds like everyone ran into... Some trouble up there. Have you heard about the... You-know-what that showed up at the tower yet?"

Cyre's voice drops to a hushed whisper, "You know. The real Lord of Calamity."

Beat.

"Wait. What's this about mercenaries now?"

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Oh! Oh, the reason the egg wasn't on the CaraKin is... That there is no more egg! It has transformed into an adorable little owlet. Look at its big, round eyes. Cyre resists the urge to go over and scritch its tiny fluffy head, but only barely.

"You fought Berserk too?" Cyre says with no small amount of awe. "I'm even more glad you're still in one piece. It sounds like everyone ran into... Some trouble up there. Have you heard about the... You-know-what that showed up at the tower yet?"

Cyre's voice drops to a hushed whisper, "You know. The real Lord of Calamity."

Beat.

"Wait. What's this about mercenaries now?"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

With her free arm, Catenna cradles her little owl-bundle to her chest, smiling gently and blushing as she looks down at the avian. "It is alright... in spirit, you were there for me. I am sorry I could not help you with the large Hellion. But...." She presses her lips together, then lifts her eyes to Jay once more, a quiet sadness behind them. "...We must find our way back to Filgaia, quickly. Every day we are absent is another day in which the Metal Demons can continue to hunt for the other Statues."

Catenna purses her lips as Lydia makes a point. "...I suppose I could continue to dance if we require funding. Though it always seems to be done furtively, here... always in these forests. I wonder why." She shrugs. "If nothing else, I talked to the cooks and I think I know which plants can be cooked with now."

Catenna bows her head as Cyre speaks up, letting out a soft breath. "Yes... I saw him from afar. And yes, I did fight Berserk. It was... close. He had found a way to annihilate sealed Statues."

She smiles quietly. "Riesenlied... called upon Odoryuk and helped us. Princess Cecilia also helped. And young Rudy Roughnight, and Tethelle...." Catenna closes her eyes.

"...Berserk is dead now. The sealed Statues are safe."

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin blushes a little at the sight of the baby owl. It's cute. She loves cute things.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Berserk is literally too stupid for that." Lydia says. "Someone told him how to do it." She glances over to Ethius for a moment before adding, "Well, it's illegal here. There's a reason I sold water not whiskey."

She misses Riese. She misses those dorks. Is Ginny okay? Maya?

Still, she seems chill on the statue being broken all told. No use crying over spilled milk.

"Matilda and Kaguya are gonna kill people for money." Pause. "Like the Black Wolves."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Well, I'm not blaming you..." Jacqueline says, shaking her head. She's pretty sure Lydia didn't have anything to do with it...probably.

She frowns slightly at her next comment, but just shakes her head and doesn't go any further than that.

She's just as surprised to hear about the real Lord of Calamity, and pales somewhat at the mention of a way to destroy Sealed Statues...

"It looks like I missed a lot while I was unconscious..." She murmurs. Riesenlied was able to call upon Odoryuk? Jacqueline can't help but smile slightly at that.

And, apparently, Berserk is dead.

"...I see." She...wants to feel kind of sad about that? Someone was dead, after all. But that was the one that almost killed Lunata's mother, and was generally terrible besides. She wants to feel sad about it, but...the most she can manage is a sense of resignation.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that crisis was averted, at least...but yes, we do need to find a way back to Filgaia. Cyre and I ran into Hiro and Lemina while doing some exploring, and they seemed interested in helping us find one, at least." She replies.

Jacqueline has also been doing some learning about plants, herself, but she decided to keep her findings to herself until she could state them conclusively.

Lydia restates the point about Matilda and the mercenary company.

"...Yes, Lydia, I understood that much..." Jacqueline murmurs, with a slight frown. ...Maybe she needed to try and find her, but...she couldn't leave the Carakin, either...

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Berserk is dead?

"Oh gosh, I'm going to have to go out later and snipe a message into the sand for the Baskars. That's great news!" Yep, no feeling down here. Cyre is completely and totally A-OK with the death of the literal murder engine who wanted to kill his planet. Like, wow, that is something he is mega super ultra OK with.

But... Riesenlied summoned Odoryuk? Cyre looks... pensive about that. Is that really a thing now? Metal Demons summoning Guardians?

What is this world coming to...?

"I'm guessing it was the sealing rod he stole from Rosaline," Cyre muses, then shakes his head. "Well. I'm glad it's all taken care of."

Beat.

"Lydia, I know what mercenaries are. I'm just surprised that she's doing it first thing after landing up here."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"Miss Jay." Ethius faces back - well, after looking over his shoulder one last time to make sure they aren't about to be jumped or chased out of the caravan. This place is not Theirs(tm) to be at, after all. "Do not trouble yourself with the matter. I would rather... you dwell upon the present fortunate circumstances as regards Miss Celes and her charge." Did he hit his head again at some point? It might've even gone without mention, for how often that happens, but anyway. He'd probably have more to enquire about Berserk - how they fell, why - was it as simple as Riesenlied channeling a Guardian?

But something is far, far more urgent, no matter how he seems to intend to play this off. He exhales, standing as he keeps his hands to his back.

"The last number of days have been trying." Ethius sure hasn't helped!!! "We will discuss this later pending further developments. Now is the time to dwell upon our good fortune."

...Is what he tells them.

But that is not what he is dwelling upon.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Berserk was too stupid, yes," Catenna agrees with a steep dip of her head. "I do not like to wish death on people, but Filgaia is better off without him living in it. But his weapon was built around a Sealing Rod. So long as they do not have another, I suspect they will be unable to build one more."

She gives Ethius a brief, odd look. "Ethius... it is me, Catenna," she says with a faint smile, as if to remind him that, yes, her dancer name is in fact an alias.

She squeezes Cyre's hand firmly, then, and takes a step forward. "Yes... we should return. Please give me enough time to say my goodbyes to Drago and the other performers. I owe them that much for treating me well this past little while."

Catenna joined the party!

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Then why did you ask??" Lydia throws up her hands.

Lydia still seems skeptical but doesn't argue further. Maybe they're right. After all, they'd have to get another rod.

...Not that any shamans know to be wary. Lydia shivers and quiets down.