2018-03-20: Homecoming and Help

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<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephilia Lampbright has been getting ever more excited with every mile the group treks, and ever more eagerly telling tales of her family life. "Oooh!" she exclaims, "just past those trees is the village! My house is on the other side!"

Sephy pauses. "Maaaaaaybe we should go around--" Her suggestion--strange as it sounds to take the longer route around town when home is just through--is cut off abruptly as a group of teenagers strides out of the woods, laughing together and passing around a bottle.

One of them points. "Oh look, everyone! It's SeFAILia LampBRAT, finally showing her face again!"

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise knows a surprising number of these back roads. She even managed to make a side trip to pick up a few supplies along the way. Now, as they've climbed into the mountains and past the trees, they're close to one of Talise's current life goals: Getting Sephilia Lampbright back to her mom and dad.

And now, they're close - so close. The village looms ahead - and suddenly, Sephy's coming up short. Talise blinks a couple of times and looks down at the younger girl, opening her mouth to say something.

Which is about when the teenagers make their presence felt, doing the absolute worst thing teenagers can do: Calling Sephy nasty names and being total douchebags about it.

Talise's expression gradually darkens to a flat scowl.

There is a jingle of chain links against riveted iron as Talise, still in her traveling armour and cloak, moves deliberately up beside Sephilia and rests a hand on her shoulder. "Sephilia," she says, her voice quiet. "Would you like us to introduce ourselves to your friends?" She places no particular emphasis on the word 'introduce.'

Talise Gianfair is a six foot two half-Beastwoman in half-plate who's taller and more muscular than most men and is also carrying a gigantic sword. She looks like she could probably snap a teenager in half with nothing but her bicep. It's up to the bratty teenagers to decide what an introduction might constitute.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle may never have been to Takkar before, but she understands small village living - although her home was on the coast, and less ... healthy, for lack of a better word, than Takkar seems to be at a distance. Takkar is small, but it's farm-y and they seem to have a decent life for themselves.

As a result, she's feeling pretty good about accompanying Sephilia to Takkar. It's a nice day, Sephilia seems excited to visit home, maybe she can pick up some fresh fruits for the road when she takes off again.

Until, you know, teenagers.

It wasn't so long ago that Tethelle was that age; they're two or three years younger than her, she'd guess. She looks toward the group, spots the bottle, spots the attitude...

"Hello," she says, almost politely. Tethelle does not have the size Talise does, nor the armour, but she's carrying a sword of her own slung over her back on a leather carrier; she makes no attempt to look intimidating with it, or even really move it at all from the lazy position it seems to be in right now.

"Is this the normal introduction to Takkar?" Tethelle has a faintly foreign accent that is going to be totally unfamiliar to Lunarians, and she's only sort of bothering to hide it.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval is along for the journey! It's... been kind of hard to get rid of him! He wants to come along (almost) wherever they go! He must really enjoy the company, a lot! It's OK, he's been helping carry things... mostly booze... down his mouth... and... so forth.
     "Hmm? B-But... don't you want to get hoooome?" Lanval hiccups, as if taken off-balance... er, more off-balance... by Sephilia's decision to take the long way around. To hear it from her, with all the praise about her dad, this seems kind of strange... but he's okay with a longer walk.
     The cause reveals itself soon enough, as a bunch of bullies call out to Sephilia with lowbrow levels of wordplay. His nostrils flare as he stumbles around - almost certainly out of their sight and perception - to the sweet scent of something in a bottle being passed around by... acquaintances of hers.
     "Mmmm." Lanval strokes his chin. Some thoughts come to mind he doesn't voice aloud, as he inches ever closer, mischievously wiggling fingers...
     ...and just tries to swipe the bottle from the teenagers for himself.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna had never been to Takkar, herself. She hadn't even really heard much about it - by all accounts it was pretty out of the way. So, unlike Talise and especially Sephilia, she'd never been here.

She's been eagerly listening to every story Sephilia has to tell about the place, of course. She was interested to see what kind of place could produce someone like her friend...but the first impression she gets isn't exactly the best one.

Talise and Tethelle react in an orderly, dignified manner.

Layna does not.

"Sephy," Layna says, rolling her neck. "I'm gonna put those kids in a tree. You okay with this?"

...At least she asked first.

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy cringes. "Hi, everyone. Um, maybe let's just...keep going--"

"Oh look, Lampbrat brought some big scary people like it's going to scare us if they talk big. Whatever! Have fun at home, LampBRAT!" The teens are smart enough to not *actually* stick around, of course, but they're not going to leave just cause they're being threatened.

They're leaving cause they want to. And they didn't really want that bottle anyway!

Sephy doesn't look too thrilled, but shrugs. "Let's just...go through town quick, I guess," she says.

Nobody in town actually comments, but the girl gets the stinkeye from most of the villagers they pass.

The Lampbright cottage, when they arrive, seems oddly silent. No smoke rises from the chimney.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise getting quiet and cold is usually a sign she's about to dislocate someone's everything, to be fair.

Talise lets out a short snort as the brats go sauntering off. "Cowards," she murmurs, before giving Sephilia's shoulder a firm squeeze. "Yeah... yeah, let's just keep going."

As Sephy leads the little group on, Talise watches the way the villagers react. She'd begun to smile again now that the little band had made it past the bullies, but the reactions of everyone else just leaves her slightly tense. What did Sephilia do to so offend the people of this village, anyway? Is she really old enough to deserve those nasty looks?

The quiet cottage is given a pensive once-over. Maybe they're not home for some reason, Talise muses internally before looking down at Sephy, forcing a smile. But hey - they're home, at least.

She steps up to the front door, slides her gauntlets off and knocks firmly. "Hello," she calls. "We're here with your daughter! Anyone home?"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval helps himself to his own ill-gotten gains by just downing the stolen bottle's contents. He doesn't seem to have any strong opinion one way or another about the quality of his appropriated alcohol...
     But when he sees the stink-eyes from the people around town, he notices. They can't see him, but those closed eyes of his open half-hidded to take in the disdain, the... distaste, in general, the people seem to have for the young girl.
     Usually, Lanval is chatty, hiccuping, burping, and otherwise something of a nuisance in what seems to be a pitched bid to just stay in the presence of - and contact - with the others. This is a weird moment of quiet for him.
     He comes up along behind the young girl, moving to pat her reassuringly on the shoulder.
     "I'm... I'm shure they'll be happy to see ya again," he says as he swishes around the bottle's contents. There's still a small amount of drink left in it.
     He doesn't yet gulp it down.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle Cirdian does not use her skills to put innocent teenagers in trees. Only guilty teenagers, and being a jerk is not a crime. (If it was, she would also be guilty, sometimes.)

Though she is really tempted to do something. She is just pretty sure that she'd feel bad about it later, and it's not like they'd respect her religious authority (inasmuch as she has authority).

Instead, she just doesn't explain what is going on when Lanval pilfers a bottle. "If they come and bother you later," she says to Sephilia, "let me know. I'll go have a talk with them." She looks around as they pass through the rest of the town - not Takkar, she tells herself, just an outskirt. What are those called, thorps? Tethelle spends a good twenty seconds trying to figure that out.

Eventually, they get to the cottage. It more than just looks empty to Tethelle; it feels empty. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, in and of itself; they travel, don't they? Tethelle knows Sephilia will talk about her father the great adventurer, and it's hard to adventure in the comfort of your own bed.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna frowns. These people...why were they acting the way they did? It was bizarre. She keeps an eye on all of them as they move through, just to make sure none of them try something...untoward.

It's a good thing they didn't, otherwise this might get violent.

Besides, she knows that'll just make things worse, even though it would feel great, at least.

Eventually, they arrive at their destination - a comfy little cottage. ...A comfy little cottage that looks pretty silent. She folds her arms in front of her, giving it a good lookover.

"Ahoy there!" She calls out, and listens for a response.

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy looks distraught by this point. "They--they're just like that, it's not a big deal," she says of the teenagers. "I mostly don't pay them any mind. Just...I'd kinda hoped maybe being gone so long..." She leaves the thought unfinished.

The door to the house is not locked, and Sephilia, after a few moments of silence after Talise's knock, lets them in. "I...they're out. They're BOTH out. That's...odd."

The little cottage is cozy but well-appointed, and it's evident that George Lampbright is exactly as successful an explorer as Sephy has made him out to be--trophies of his journeys are displayed, and maps noted with his inexplicable shorthand are hung on the wall. The hearth is cold, though.

There's a note on the table, marked "Sephy," which the girl hasn't noticed yet.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"Hmm," Tethelle says, in response to Sephilia. "Do they really?" Maybe she'll need to get to the bottom of it after all. But that's a task for later.

As they step in, Tethelle looks around. Definitely empty. Tethelle never really asked about Sephy's mother... maybe she's an adventurer too. There's certainly enough stuff for two people; she looks at one of the maps, and at least gets a vague idea of a coastline, though since Tethelle has never seen a full map of Lunar, she doesn't recognize what coastline it is or even what continent.

"Do they write differently here?" she asks, squinting at the shorthand. "I could read the writing in the other towns..." Tethelle didn't notice the note either. There's a lot of eye-catching stuff, give her a minute.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

"Some people are jerks when they're younger," Talise says with a quiet smile down at Sephy. "People even treated me bad when I was a teenager, sometimes. They'll grow out of it. And if they don't, at least they'll never amount to anything in life."

When Sephilia opens the door, Talise peeks into the house, pursing her lips as a touch of anxiety takes hold. It begins to pass at the sight of all those trophies. "Wow," she murmurs. "Are these all things your dad came across on his journeys? That's amazing."

Talise's collection isn't half this big. George Lampbright must be a hell of a guy, she realizes.

Then Talise remembers she doesn't have a house.

"Maybe they went on an adventure together," she suggest as she meanders into the room with the table - and with a blink, she leans forward, laying a hand on the table beside the note.

"Sephy, look over here," she says. "It's a note."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval follows in under Sephilia's unspoken invitation as she opens the door to reveal the very home of the famed George Lampbright. His free hand scratches away at that voluminous silver beard on his person as he cracks a silly-looking smile. "Hmmm... hm... shure really havin' himself a lot of fun, huh...!"
     He walks along over to some other corner of the room, to some otherwise insignificant-looking doodad or another. "Haven't I... oooooh. Oh! That'sh... that wash your father! Ha ha ha! That remindsh me." He starts to babble without making eye contact with much of anyone.
     "I dunno... hooooow long ago? But yup, I saw your father! There wash a whole row over thish thing. Knocked a buncha people flat on their butts jusht to keep it... ha ha ha! Wow. That wash a fight back over 'n..."
     Lanval turns around as he sees - and acknowledges - the house is actually empty, and that her folks aren't here. "Hmmm? What'sh it sayyyy?" He comes along trying to peek over someone's shoulder to see.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Aye." Layna says with a nod, agreeing with Talise. "You're worth more than the lot of them. Don't let them get to you."

She enters the cottage and takes a good look around. The interior gets a nod of approval from Layna - she can tell that George Lampbright is as successful as she heard he was. The maps get a once-over, as well. As a pirate she can appreciate a good map...even if they were a little hard to read.

Or maybe 'very hard'.

She glances at Lanval as he claims to have seen Sephilia's father fight over something or other. Layna...can't really tell if he's telling the truth or not, so she doesn't comment. Instead, she glances toward Talise, who's found a note.

She hopes it's a positive one.

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

"That's just Dad's handwriting. Mom's is much neater--Oh!" Sephy rushes over to the note. "Yep, that's Mom's handwriting!" She opens the note and reads it.

"Dearest Sephilia. We've gone looking for you. If you come home and read this note, please, please know that we miss you. We love you. We will find you as soon as we can, and we'll be together then."

Sephy sniffles, then bursts into tears.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

"Wait, you saw Sephilia's father?" Talise says with a startled blink, looking up at Lanval. He explains further, and she purses her lips. "...Awhile ago, then. Huh."

She eases to the side to let Sephilia read the note. It doesn't take the girl more than a few words before Talise smiles a sad, faintly wistful sort of smile.

Part of her wishes she'd gotten a note like that someday, eight or nine years ago.

As Sephilia cries, Talise steps back in and brings her arms around the girl's shoulders. She draws her in as gently as she can. She may have half-plate on, but she does at least bend at the knees enough to let Sephilia cry into her softer, cloak-covered shoulder should she want to.

"We'll find 'em," she promises, her voice quiet, but with resolve. "They can't have gotten far."

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"It must be," Tethelle says, mystified, "because I can't read any of this."

She doesn't know shorthand.

Tethelle turns around when Talise points out the note, and does not try to read it, regardless of what Lanval is trying to do - personal notes are personal. But it's hard to miss, you know... the crying bit. Tethelle strides over then, though Talise has the actual hug part well in hand so she lets her handle it (Tethelle at least has fewer pointy metal bits, sword excepted). "If it was an old note," she points out, agreeing with Talise, "it would be faded. Maybe... you could write them a note back?"

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy brightens and pulls out a pen, jotting a note on the back. "Mom, Dad, was here, heading to..." She pauses, tapping her nose thoughtfully. "Wait--you said--" she says to Lanval as she finally registers what he was rambling about a moment ago.

"Where? Where did you see him?! I can try to find him--"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval takes a seat on the floor as emotions run high in wake of the note's contents. He swishes around the bottle stolen from the unruly teenagers, considers the weight of its contents... lifts up his own personal drinking gourd, pops off the top with the flex of a thumb, and begins to pour some of its contents in the bottle as Sephilia addresses him.
     "Ahh... 'm shorry, Sephy~." He murmurs marginally more soberly than usual. "You shure talked 'bout your father a lot! Now, uhh, I shee... lotsa people. But now I got a face to that name, errr, hmm, anythin' more... recent like... hrrrrrm.... hrrrrm." He puts the bottle gently on the ground as he decides to take a swig out of the gourd instead... and then rests a hand on his beard.
     This might be the first time he has had almost anything remotely useful to share, and even that's a 'maybe.'
     "'d shaaaaay... four daysh before you all showed up 'bout Meribia? That was... definitely him, puttin' up paper with your face."

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna, ever virtuous, doesn't try to read a note that isn't hers...okay, she definitely sneaks a peek. Layna smirks. ...So that's how it was.

"...Well, at least we know they're alright, aye? And out there lookin' for you. That's a fine thing, lass. They must really care for you." Layna says, offering Sephilia a smile.

And Lanval says he'd seen Sephilia's father in Meribia four days before they showed up in Meribia. Layna frowns slightly.

"Huh...guessed we overlooked 'em. Well, we were running for our lives, so I guess it's to be expected, aye?" She comments with a shrug, then folds her arms in front of her.

Eventually, she offers Sephilia a grin.

"...Hey, got anything on you that'd make a good souvenir to leave 'em?" She asks, curiously.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

It's true, hugging Talise is a bit like hugging an ironworks right now. At least she's nice.

She lets Sephilia go soon enough, her smile returning as the girl perks up. Leaning back against the table, she nods across it at Tethelle's suggestion. "Yeah, you can tell them where we're going next. And I think the next place should be Vane. If you want, you can even leave notes for them everywhere we go so they can follow your messages."

Then Lanval speaks up. Talise opens her mouth a little to say something.

She closes it and plants her face in her palm as she realizes what Lanval is saying.

"Motherfucking dragon shit," she curses venomously before thumping her hand against her thigh. "How the fuck did I miss posters with your face on them, goddes damn it!"

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"That recently?" Tethelle looks at Lanval. "And you didn't tell anyone? Before now," she corrects."

Then again, maybe he thought they were wanted posters. She shouldn't judge too harshly. Probably. But it's a little grating. "At least you know they're fine. This note is fresher than I thought. Leave them the note, if we're heading toward Vane; maybe they can find us there.

She pauses, then adds, a little grudgingly, "Have you considered leaving a message with the Church? They seem to be everywhere." Tethelle doesn't like Althena's church.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    "Ha ha! I had no ideeeeeaaaa we were gonna be such great frieeeeendsh then!!" Lanval laughs off the entire circumstance. He'll stop laughing once he figures out the rest probably don't see the circumstance as being all that funny.

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy starts to laugh. Then she hugs everyone.

"Well, I didn't notice it either! Wow, at least we have let the heat die down, huh? Anyway, we don't need to leave messages--we'll just stop back in Meribia on our way to Vane!"

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Well, you don't have to go as far as the Church...is there a Goddess Statue somewhere near here, lass? You could try leavin' a message for them there...and see if they've left anythin' for you at the same time." Layna suggests.

Lanval laughs, and Layna just kind of looks at him. She...doesn't laugh along with him, though she does offer him something of a smirk. That was something, right?

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

The fact that Sephilia is hugging her is more than enough to lift Talise's spirits, at least a little. Smiling ruefully, she brings her hand up and fluffs the girl's hair lightly. "Ah heh... yeah. Yeah, we can just swing through there on the way back. It's not like it's not on the way!" She shakes her head with a sigh, scratching behind her ear. "Still wish I'd seen it sooner...."

Her eyes linger on Lanval for a moment, and she shakes her head with a little sigh. Could've said something there, bud, she thinks.

"Yeah, if there's a goddess statue... though the Church tends to control those," Talise points out -

And then, suddenly, there's a polite but firm knock at the door.

Talise goes quiet, blinking with surprise and looking towards the entrance. She gives Sephilia a quizzical look.

From outside, the sound of a horse snorting once can be heard.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"Deal," Tethelle agrees. They can definitely stop there on their way to Vane. Tethelle is starting to get an idea of Lunar geography, apparently... or at least pretending she is.

Tethelle doesn't much like the talk of 'Goddess Statues', but they believe, and she doesn't. Still, they won't catch her using one of those, not that she really has needed to so far -

The knock catches her attention, too. Tethelle looks over. She puts one hand on her sword hilt to keep it from swinging around as she walks toward the door, though she does not open it without Sephilia's say-so. She looks at Sephy a little questioningly because of it.

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy, eyes wide, nods. "Open it..."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval, at present, decides to celebrate his very lack of proper dispensing of wisdom by treating hismelf to a drink while everyone worries about matters of possible unwanted guests outside. He deserves it, he thinks, and so it goes.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle Cirdian does so, when Sephy directs her to. "Hello?" She still has her hand on her sword hilt but she makes it look as if she's just trying to keep the carrier from swinging around when she turns.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"We can worry about that when we get there. Easy enough to slip in and out if you know what you're doing.=, aye?" Layna comments with a nod toward Talise. It's at this moment that she hears a knock at the door.

If it was the cottage's owner, they probably wouldn't knock. Maybe they were a friend, or a visitor? ...Possibly, but...she's a little suspicious of it.

Layna cracks her knuckles, then goes to find a wall to lean against as Tethelle goes to open the door. She watches very intently to see who shows up.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise also moves towards the door. She circles to the far side of it, easing back towards the wall. Her hand moves up to Rastaban's hilt, sticking out over her shoulder, eyes focused on the door.

When Tethelle does open it, she'll find a man there who stands about as tall as Talise, with a dense black beard and a rough scar slashing down his right cheek. He's wearing a simple grey tunic, hardy riding boots and black slacks. Behind him, a huge roan horse has been secured. The man's quite large, but he doesn't have a weapon.

"I'm looking," he says in a low, deep voice, "for Lord Foxington and his company."

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Chauncey is brought out. "This is Chauncey," Sephy says, seriously. "Lord Chauncey of Foxington. Um...do we know you?"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    "Hrrrrrrrm, ish the place named Foxington?" Lanval murmurs aloud as he remains seated on the floor like someone who might instead be seated out in the alley getting wasted. The drunken Seraphim ponders as he speaks. He didn't really think to ask about the village's name here, come to think of it...
     ...missing the fact that that is part of Chauncey's name. What other key bits of information passed by the Seraphim's notice or acknowledgement, anyway?

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle looks at the man for several long seconds.

She releases her sword, though this being Tethelle that doesn't actually mean she can't draw it almost as fast as if she still had her hand resting on the hilt. "So I suppose that's us," Tethelle says, including herself even though she's not sure she counts. Well, if a Lunarian is asking, probably; she's been travelling with this group the whole time on Lunar, after all.

She shoots a glance back at Lanval. Really? she thinks, but doesn't say. The man probably can't see him, after all, so she looks back.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna gives the man a good long look, studying him carefully for signs of danger. He's unarmed, but she knows well enough that doesn't mean anything, especially at his size. She's not sure what to expect from him...but whatever it was, it certainly wasn't what comes out of his mouth.

She stares at him for a moment...and then laughs good-naturedly.

"Aye, aye, there's the honorable Lord, right there!" She comments with a grin, gesturing toward Chauncey with one hand on her hip as Sephilia brings him out.

"Question is...who's asking, and why?" She asks, her expression a bit more serious. It's a cautious statement, but not necessarily a threatening one. She's watching him carefully, though, judging his next move.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise frowns a little, letting her hand fall away for her weapon as the big guy doesn't immediately come at them. She does answer the question with a nod, but it's Sephilia who has the million-dollar question. Which gets an answer.

"No, you don't," says the big man with a nod back to Sephilia and her fluffy fox buddy. "But you don't have to worry. I'm not your enemy. Actually I was asked to reach out to you on behalf of someone. You could say... by a fan."

Then the man does something he probably should not be able to do.

He looks directly at Lanval, and nods slowly. "If there is, I've never been, Seraph."

Layna's question is met with a glance. The big man clears his throat. "Fair question. My name's Benedict Greygust. I'm a courier.

"I saw the four of you materialize in Meribia," he explains further. "And join up with a Seraph while the Guard tried to run the five of you down. My employer also saw a few things and would like to help you keep ahead of the Guard while you're here."

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephilia sits down. She's not like, stunned, or anything. But it's her house, and she's comfortable.

"Well. We...we'll have to discuss this...fan-ness. What do you want with Lord Chauncey?"

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Huh, Tethelle thinks. He can see Lanval. No question; he addressed him by title and looked right at him. If he'd just looked, she might not have been convinced.

"Yes," Tethelle agrees, slowly. "That happened." She wishes she was better at this kind of subtlety, but she... really really isn't. "I did not wish to be arrested for the crime of being thrown into a city I'd never been to before." All true!

She asks, suddenly, "Who is your employer?" Well, that was direct.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval nods along. "Thought sho. Then, in that caaaaaaaaaaayyyyy---- uhhh." His eyes open as he realizes that he has been directly addressed. He turns his gaze over to this strange big man, stunned into blessed silence. So silent he doesn't think to fill the gap by drinking.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"A fan? Well, this is new. Usually, when someone comes after me it's not because they're my fan." Layna comments with a grin. She listens to him as he explains the situation.

"Benedict Greygust, aye...? I'll remember that." She says with a nod. So, he saw them appear in Meribia...and his employer saw other things, as well. And just as important - he could see Lanval.

Interesting...

He says he'd like to help them keep ahead of the Guard. Layna was interested in that, for obvious reasons, but this seemed way to good to be true.

"Not purely out of the goodness of his heart, I'd wager. I'll have to echo the lass's question - what's in it for you? Or your boss, as it happens." She asks. "...And exactly how much do you know about us?"

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Benedict scratches the back of his head and actually blushes, evidently not used to talking to stuffed toys. "I, ah. I want to team up with him," he says a bit awkwardly.

The big man folds his arms across his chest and lets out a slow breath through his nose. "Nobody wants to be arrested by the Guard. And a great number of people don't deserve to be. Especially visitors. We're given to understand some of you are... not necessarily from around here."

He says that without so much as skipping a beat. Talise blinks a couple of times in surprise.

"My employer is someone in a fairly notable position, who doesn't care much for what the Guard is doing," Benedict explains. "Unfortunately, because of the nature of my employer's work, I can't give his or her name. If the Guard suspected them of supporting a bard, a pirate captain, a visitor, a Seraph and a girl with a magic fox, they'd lose the ability to provide support to, well. Anyone." He lifts one shoulder in a slow shrug. "It's a less complete answer than I'd like to give you, to be honest. Suffice it to say they think something odd is going on with the Guard and there aren't enough heroes around who don't bend the knee to the Church."

Talise's expression darkens ever so slightly. "Yeah. Yeah, I'll say something's going on with the Guard."

Benedict answers with a simple nod, before turning his eyes to Layna. "Talise Gianfair, bard, petty criminal and crew member on the ill-fated Lunabelle. Sephilia Lampbright, daughter of the famous George, and her companion Lord Chauncey. Layna Manydays, captain of the Ruby Empress. Yourself I don't know by reputation," he admits, gesturing to Tethelle. "Nor your Seraph friend by name. But you're the sort of people the Guard often has a problem with." The big man grunts, shrugging. "But two of you are well-known in Meribia - before you disappeared and then reappeared - and the other one is on every poster in town."

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy sighs. How did she miss her own face on every poster in town?!

"Well...I like helping people!" she says.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"My name is Tethelle Cirdian," Tethelle says, because it has not occured to her to start lying about that. So far, there hasn't been a problem.

So far.

"And, frankly, if I told you who I was and what I was doing there, you wouldn't believe me, so let's leave it at that," Tethelle says with a slight but honest smile. "Tethelle is fine. I admit that I do not know very much about... Meribian politics," she admits, "but I can tell that some people certainly don't approve of the Guard. Talise showed me that early on."

Tethelle takes a step back to avoid looking like she's crowding the man. "And you want to... hire this group? To do something about the Guard? I must tell you, I have a quest - a fairly urgent one - so I may not be able to help you, personally. I don't speak for the others, but there are some things I need to do."

Unfortunately, they're all on Filgaia.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    The Seraph among them soberly rises from the floor, picking back up the bottle he set down as those eyes of his remain open and fixated upon the burly messenger, Benedict. Discussion about employers, and mention about distaste for Althena's Guard - the faithful among the mortals whom help uphold her will. He is silent through the run-down of the kind of people they're all in company of.
     He drifts his gaze over to Tethelle. He might have heard by proxy that she's from further off... Glenwood, then? That's kind of far off? (He will voice this amusing misconception aloud later.) He doesn't think to question what her urgent task must be.
     It's not like Lanval to be so quiet in the company of people he's capable of having a conversation with. He clutches the bottle closer to himself, as though clearly uneasy about something or another being discussed.
     At least, until he decides to finish off the bottle's contents here and now. Glug, glug, glug...
     He wipes at those cat-like lips of his with his sleeve, wiping off some dribble of pure water about to escape the side of his mouth.
     "My name'sh Lanval... ahhhh, ya could say...." What, exactly? "'m jusht enjoyin' the company of good friendsh." 'Good friends' he mostly just met!!! He has, so far, been just a simple-minded fellow that seems to be around merely for companionship and drink. (Maybe mostly drink?) Is that a no? A yes? It seems awful vague, coming from the elemental spirit of water.
     He closes his eyes again, scratching away at his beard. "Ahh, don't mind me...! I've got nothin' better to doooo, other 'n enjoy all the company..."

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

A subtle smirk crosses Layna's face at Benedict's embarrassment, but she doesn't say anything about it. Instead, she simply shrugs.

"Aye, I'll give you that." She agrees with a nod. She doesn't clarify the situation any further. As far as she's concerned, neither he nor his employer need to know the truth of the situation. ...Yet, anyway, at least until she can figure out whether or not they can be trusted. She smirks, then, as he comments about their reputation.

"Aye, I'd say they'd run into a few problems, at that." She says. It's not a lot of information, but it's enough to go on. Enough to give them a basic idea of what his employer is up to, and why they would be interested in a group like theirs.

"So you've done your research. Good, at least you know who you're dealing with." She comments, and then grins.

"Well, it looks like we're on the same page now, more or less, aye?" She comments. Sure, both sides were keeping secrets from each other...but frankly, she'd be more suspicious of him if he seemed outwardly to be completely honest with them.

It was always the honest ones you had to look out for, because you could never be certain what it was they weren't telling you.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise huffs and folds her arms under the curve of her chest, giving Benedict a sullen look. "I was never petty, bub," she mutters with a little flash of wounded pride.

She leans back against the nearest chair, trying not to put too much of her armoured weight on it in the hopes of not damaging Sephilia's furniture. "To be honest, I was going to stick it to the Guard anyway," she admits. "But I can't promise how long I'll be... around here. Where Tethelle's going, I'm going too, in all likelihood."

Benedict shifts his weight to rest a shoulder against the doorframe, folding his arms loosely across his chest. "You can go wherever you want to go," he assures Talise and Tethelle. "If what my employer's heard is true, where you're going is an interesting place - and it'd also dovetail with the Dragonship Destiny also vanishing for a year and suddenly returning. I know my employer would hope to help you get back there, if that's what you want. But I'd describe it as...." He furrows his brow, trying to put it into words. "...not so much sending you straight at the Guard. That would be idiocy. More like... keep on doing what you're doing, but we'll pass you information as we come by it concerning the Guard or some other odd happenings around Lunar, and we'll give you the supplies you need to check it out. Healing Nuts, foodstuffs, water skins, moonshine, parts for fixing armour or weapons... the important things."

One of Benedict's shoulders rises in a slow shrug. "My employer will also give you excellent value for any treasures you happen across that you'd rather pawn off. We can also arrange for some rarities to come your way if you wanted to make some sales, though we'd obviously ask for a percentage. Other than that, think of it this way: You've got a dubious but ultimately well-meaning pen pal who'll toss you some heals and give you good deals on your unwanted loot."

When Lanval speaks up, Benedict raises his eyebrows and nods. "Hey, Lanval. Would've liked to try some of that Copper Rapier stash before the Guard torched the joint. Dragons-be-damned teetotallers."

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephilia looks to the others. She's already said she's up for this, so it's really their call on whether the group accepts the offer.

Chauncey looks impassive. His buddy has spoken for him.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"No, you really aren't," Tethelle says to Talise, quietly. She does not say anything else on the topic. Not right now.

Tethelle listens. She's surprised at the offer, but it doesn't sound bad, precisely. Unexpected but not bad - though offers like that have strings attached, she assumes. Still, if all he wants is an easy access to treasure to buy, she can definitely go with that. And if they want to trade information, well...

"Provided you accept that I'll be going back to - where I came from when I can," Tethelle says, "I don't see anything wrong with doing that." She glances toward the others. "Again, I can only speak for myself. Though I'd ask for a favour, too; I have - other friends, who came from the same place I did. I have only been able to find one of them. I'd like to know if any of the others have made themselves known."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    "Ahhh... yeah. Yeah." Lanval sighs wistfully as the messenger expresses regret about missing out on the stash. A smile on his face grows, all mischievous and yet peaceful as he holds back mirthful chuckling. "If I knew all of ya could shee me then there, we'd have... we'd shure have a toasht together, there. Ha ha ha... shure would've been good to have ya all along...!"
     He's so overwhelmed by such joyful memories that he misses out on any important details or commentary about the business arrangements - this is probably best left to the mortal adults in the room.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna listens as Benedict continues, leaning back and considering her options. In any other situation, she'd give this a bit more thought. But right now, she was without a ship and without a crew. She needed as many friends in this world as she could get. She already had some fine friends around her now, but...it never hurt to make more.

"...Sure, why not? Long as our goals align, I don't see any reason why we should be all buddy-buddy, aye?" Layna says with a shrug and a grin. "Sounds like my friends here agree, too, and I'd hate to be the only one left outta the fun."

She unfolds her arms and stands up a bit straighter.

"So, what the hell? I'm in. I expect to make good use of your services real soon, anyway. I've already found somethin' of value...though I'll want to give my friends here first pick of the loot before I sell anything, aye?" She says.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise smirks at Tethelle, fussing with one of the straps of her breastplate and tightening it up.

For a moment, she watches Lanval. A pensive smile hangs at her lips at the sight of the Seraph so satisfied with that old, wistful memory. A question for another date, perhaps. Finally, she sighs, easing up from her seat and nodding back to Tethelle. "I'm in the same boat as Tethelle. Where she goes, I'm going, when the time's right. So long as you're alright with that, then we can work together."

Benedict nods back to Lanval with a crooked smile behind his beard. "Times were damned good before Althena went screwy on us. Who knows? Maybe they will be again." That said, he turns and gives Tethelle and Talise a slow nod. "You can go wherever you want to go and do whatever you want to do when that time comes. If we can help you out, we'll try. If not, then it's been fun."

The big man furrows his brows a little in thought, stroking his beard. "Several people appeared in Meribia around the same time you did. I don't know names, but I was keeping tabs on some of them. A young blonde man and a blonde woman, I think? Then someone posing as a dancer, and that group with the poorly-disguised landship they call a Caravan. Hope they're keeping that one away from the Guard."

With that out of the way, Benedict nods and holds a hand out to Talise. "Sounds like a deal then."

"Sounds like one." Talise takes the big man's hand, smiles broadly, and slowly shakes. Benedict sends a rough smile back at her.

Talise's smile doesn't waver. "Oh, one more thing," she says cheerily. "If your boss turns out to be pulling a fast one on us, I'm breaking their legs and yours. And your horse's. Twice."

Benedict's smile turns much paler, but he gamely keeps it up. "I, ah. Doubt that'll be necessary. But thanks for the tip."

Outside, the horse scuffs a heel against the turf and gives Benedict a flat look.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

The pair of blondes gets Tethelle's eyebrows to raise. That could be... no, she thinks, when she heard of Cecilia from Riese she wasn't travelling with Claude, and Claude would absolutely been trying to stick with Rena, who is not blonde. So she's not sure.

"Thank you," she says. "I don't think they're precisely who I'm looking for, but I will get you some descriptions," Tethelle promises. "One of my friends is in Vane, last I heard, but I don't know where the others are - or even if they are here at all." There were far more people on Filgaia in the Pleasing Garden than that... did everybody come?

She seems slightly worried. Still, Talise gets a grin from Tethelle. "She wouldn't really," she says to Benedict.

She really would.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    "Shcrewy... well, hrm." The Seraphim's wide smile neutralizes some, but not before he brings a hand up to his mouth in contemplation. He's shared very little - if any - real opinion about the business arrangements at hand here, or what's being said for the most part about Althena and the Guard. He did consider himself but a humble servant of the Goddess when introducing himself.
     All this weird talk about people coming and going places. He's seen a lot of coming and going, but something about the scale of this seems kind of weird? Different? Worthy of another drink? Everything is always worthy of another drink... but not yet.
     He allows Benedict to leave peacefully before he even says much of anything to the rest of them.
     "Well, whatever'sh... goin' on," he'd know if he were listening a bit more intently, unless he's speaking in a general sense, but, you know, local drunk. "'d better shtay 'round!" He slurs the words some. "After aaaall, haven't... haven't had anyone to, talk tooo... or seeee me for... for so, shooo long."
     Great, an immortal nearly useless tag-along.
     "An' I shaid it before!" He raises his voice a bit, holding a bottle up. "I'll be okay with you drinkin'... sh'long as 'm there to watch. All... responshible, li--"
     He nearly bumps over a precious thing with the dramatic arm raise!! He scrambles to keep it balanced upright, overly staggering and twisting himself in humorous ways to keep both himself and the item in question upright.
     "Ha ha... haaaa..." For a guy of his heft, he sure is a flexible and agile sort, as he rights himself up. "...Don't worry 'bout li'l ol' me. We'll have ourshelves a greeeeat time..."
     Is that all he really cares about?