2019-01-11: One Step at a Time

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<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Several weeks have passed since the fateful battle at the Photosphere.

Several weeks since Mother's defeat; since all the fallout with the battle with the Tzadkiel, since Siegfried's death...

In the weeks since, the Fereshte has been a presence in Elru and back here in New Petra. As much as they wish to aid, help can be quite the precarious thing -- survivors of the Hyadean contingents weren't going to be able to sort their feelings out about Mother soon, and several kinds of zealots were probably going to take even longer if at all.

But here in New Petra, those that /have/ joined them -- the Tainted from the Gutter, who've never been exposed to a home constructed of conditions that hated their very existence...

It's bustling now, with the sights of people who've been reunited for the first time in over a year -- families gathered once more, with a sight that reflects the kind of kindredness that can be so rare here in Filgaia. An Azadian helper, helping carry a Hyadean Tainted child while his father walks alongside. Lunarian, human, Hyadean, Tainted...

Such walls have broken down, even a little, here. A seed of hope.

And now?

Well, a certain pink blob's stashed a certain crimson Golem that helped against the battle with Mother one valley over, which drew the attention of a Dean Stark. The Fereshte airship is nearby, just as hardy and dinged up as it typically is...

... and the Outreach appears to have prepared something of a small feast, with several long tables set out with food and drinks. It's not exactly a king's bounty, primarily vegetables with only some wild game offering -- but those who're familiar with the Outreach know that the foods are all home-grown from the gardens they've maintained all this time.

Riesenlied looks rather heartened in the midst of all this, smiling as she oversees some of the workers lay the platters out. She looks rather exhausted at present, seated on her wheelchair. She's been better. She's looked better, with her legs and arms looking more and more draconised than ever before... and Alhazred's meddling has left a mark upon her, with the Medium grafted terribly at the base of her neck, thrumming ever softly with the sensation of the Ley--

But she's still smiling through this.

Because she sees the hope that the Outreach, and all the Drifters that've helped them get to this point, have brought her.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise simply doesn't have the heart of a saint in her, no matter how much she wishes it were so. She told the Tainted that much in the depths of the Gutter. All she and the others could do was try their best to get them out from Mother's malice. And all she can do now is make sure they found a safe place to stay - and that their leader made it through her ordeal in one piece.

The idea of going to a feast over all of this fills her with a mix of emotions. The new hope for the Tainted deserves to be celebrated.

"But I feel like every bite I'd take would take something out of their mouths," Talise admits quietly as she approaches, cradling a basket in her left arm. It's covered up with a large burlap sack.

"I don't think Riesenlied would've asked friends here if she felt it would hurt things," notes Talise's companion. Benedict Greygust, the heavily-bearded and scar-faced courier who stands about as tall as Talise, also has a basket with him. "But the food isn't why we came here, is it?"

"No," Talise admits with a shake of her head and a lopsided smile. "There's other stuff."

A few of the workers setting out platters ring bells of recollection. Dropping off the baskets to one side, Talise grins broadly and circulates, checking up on those she remembers --

"Hey, great to see you--" "You look great! How are--" "Hey, glad you're here--"

It takes her a bit. Talise had left Sephilia with the Fereshte to keep an eye on the Tainted while she'd gone back with Benedict to help as many more as she could. It was going pretty well until she ran into Yarobeleedt and got jumped by Ratatoskr, at least.

Nevertheless, she's managing to weave her way through the helpers, and once she does, she waves towards the woman in the wheelchair. The smile on her face is much closer to the light-hearted Talise of two years ago than the Talise of a year prior, as if some weight has lifted from her shoulders in the intervening time.

"Riese!" she calls. "Hey, thanks for having me here! You doing okay?"

If Riesenlied's going to find it in her to smile even in a semi-draconized state and with a Medium grafted to her neck, Talise is too.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Shalune hasn't parked Diablo right in the midst of the Outreach settlement, thankfully, but she has left it close enough that it's just a quick walk over, and within easy reach of New Petra's workshops - she's been a common sight going back and forth on her flying scooter, cargoing sheets of freshly-hammered armor back and forth to try to get the golem back towards working order.

She's on the way back now, her hands behind her head and softly sniggering to herself as she lets Dean work off his latest bout of 'woooo golem' energy. If she's honest, it's just a little bittersweet - she can remember being the same way, before Diablo and Sado reared their heads and started throwing up a great deal of moral questions about how technology should be used. She can only hope she's on the right path, but--

--well, it's working out so far.

"--ooh..." she sounds out as she sights the array of tables, her eyebrows perking upwards at the prospect of scavengable food. "Was there some kinda occasion? I guess Miss Riese bein' out and about is as good a reason as any, right?"

And Noeline as well, though if she's been squirreling herself away it's been more out of concern for Riese than any injuries she herself sustained. The Crimson Noble has already tried to lend a hand and been gently rebuffed by the rest of the townsfolk, nudged back towards Riesenlied's side; her pride is just a little dented, perhaps, but she can't help the amused smile as she watches everyone work around them, the two of them in the middle of the activity and bustle.

She pauses to bask it in, to appreciate the sounds of New Petra - though her head tilts towards Talise slightly in recognition of her greeting.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

WHERE SHALUNE JUST WAS:

"So coooooool," Dean croons, latched onto Diabolo's ankle as he cheekrubs the Golem, smiling so hard his cheeks might fall off.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel has generally avoided New Petra for a whole number of reasons.

Most of them don't seem quite as relevant nowadays as they used to.

That's why she's actually here... but just because she's here doesn't mean she isn't still a little shy, and she hasn't really bothered the crowds. Mariel stopped to look at Diablo on her way in, though she did not get very close; she just looked at it for about a minute before she slowly looked away, taking her leave from the ancient machine a few moments later.

She approaches the main group some time after that. Mariel is wearing her 'nicer' green dress (it's still plenty practical, just not the one she goes into dungeons with) with her ever-present satchel at her side. She also has a new-looking pair of mittens, though they're very similar to the ones she always wears and they may not be easily identifiable as new.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

It had been a much-cherished, perfectly ordinary day, interrupted only by the sudden arrival of a certain professor... and the questions and discussions, particularly those that oriented about one singular topic, that had inevitably followed.

Avril's own nature. The Veruni. ...Volsung, the man about whom swirled a cloud of hatred.

'When did you see him', Elvis had asked.

Elvis had also denied knowledge about man, suggesting it was in error. That was all the information Avril had needed.

Perhaps it's thus natural that, as the hint was delivered that Diablo was in fact actually close at hand -- the next valley over -- that Avril had taken a look at Rebecca (who had rested a comforting hand on her shoulder) and had simultaneously nodded at Dean.

'Yes, let us look.'

And had promptly turned to leave behind the Professor, who may have been charged with the task of babysitter. Who can say?

And so they had gone there and back again, in the span of a few hours.

But aside from stir familiar emotion within her -- as well as add to further confirmation of what Avril strongly suspected was the case (she is the ruler of the Veruni, the descendant it seemed of some ancient monarch, if Elvis' words were any guidepost), she had been reminded again of that incident in Mirapulse. The mirror, the one Elvis had stolen. It had felt like a part of her, then. Perhaps, if it were possible to hold it once more...?

The granule of an idea has begun to form. For now, though, she's on the approach back into Old Petra, a slight smile on her lips as she glances over at Dean who apparently has just had a good day escalate all the way into 'AMAZING'.

"Look, it seems that they have set up something," she says, pointing towards the tables and spread set out for all to partake. "I suppose a celebration is overdue, isn't it?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren is happy to be back at New/Old Petra. She was frankly exhausted after all that nonsense, emotionally as well as physically, and more to the point Riesenlied is back home and they managed to come back--all of them--alive.

Well, almost everyone, but Lydia's opinion on Siegfried is very complicated all the way through and while it is a downer for her that he couldn't be saved, it certainly hurt her mother far more than it hurt her.

But that's why she's trying to be extra optimistic for her family. She is full of smiles and is always lending a hand and sometimes acts a little goofier than she really feels. It's been several weeks, but she's still at it. And really, certain missing old people aside, she is happy. The world is savedish, her mission is technically complete.

...so what is her next mission? Causing trouble in Kislev?

"Woop woop! Foooood!" Lydia shouts. as she gets to chomping down a banana. "Man this is veggie heaven."

She pauses as she sees Mariel, surprised to see her. "Mariel!!"

She runs over to her, waving both arms to get her attention. "Maaariieeell!!!" She trips on the way over, lands on her face, gets up, and then grins in close range with many sharp fangs.

"Surprised to see you over here! How are you? Feeling good? Doing okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean, as he returns to Wayside with Avril, practically skips in joy. Parting had been such sweet sorrow, but with Diablo the next valley over, Dean can come visit the Golem anytime he likes. That'd been what had convinced him to leave and return. (Possibly Rebecca left early, possibly in exasperation-slash-disgust.) He's bursting with energy, his day indeed having leaped past the threshold of 'AMAZING,' and when the tables and their spreads come into view, he bounces to a halt.

"Oh hey, you're right! They shoulda mentioned!" he said cheerfully. "Let's see if there's anything we can help out with before everyone chows down!" It looks like people are already starting to eat, though, if Lydia's any indication, so perhaps the best thing he can do to help is make sure there's not any leftovers to have to pack up.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

If the Tainted feel like the feast was taking anything out of their mouths, they certainly don't seem like it either--

"Hey! Hey, it's you, isn't it-- Talise!" calls one of the Tainted as they hobble on down; they're on a crutch, but still with a vigorous smile. "You and your friends saved me back in the Gutter-- I owe my life to ya!" He lifts a tankard and gestures towards a place where...

Where... Val is currently acting as the kegerator for the entire party, her refrigerator body transformed into an impromptu brewery. This transformation is entirely her doing, and she seems terribly happy and lovin' it to have a full belly of booze.

The good-natured bartender cackles at Shalune to go, "Just right! It's a day to celebrate our bumper crop too!" She reaches up with her mechanical hand and high-fives Lydia on the way as she whoops for food. "Woop woop!"

Riesenlied delicately chuckles as she leans to Noeline, then blinks with a wave and a smile as Talise approaches them. The bladesinger looks lighter than she was, more like how she remembered meeting her; she coughs for a moment--

"I'm doing okay, thank you... I have... a lot of physical therapy to go through, I can't really walk under my own power yet... but I'm getting there," Riesenlied nods with an undented smile. She turns and reaches for the Crimson Noble's hand, where their rings shine softly.

"Noeline and everyone's taken great care of me."

She catches Mariel for a moment, feeling a bit heartened as she remembers what she said during that dive to the mindscape in the Gutter. She gives her a wave, though doesn't approach, knowing the shyer Elw might need her own space, in her own time. She's not terribly different in some of her moments, after all-- at least, until Lydia plows into her!

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

They remember her. That's enough to bring a blush to Talise's face. She pauses long enough to give that particular Tainted a firm hug and a grin. "Just make sure to live it to the fullest, okay?"

As others filter in, Talise finds faces she recognizes - she sends a quick wave towards Lydia. And then there's a Riesenlied to consider.

"Hey! Been awhile, huh," Talise acknowledges Noeline with a cheery smile, flashing a little glint of pointed incisors. She flicks a hand up to her forehead. It's been awhile since she last crossed the woman's path.

Last time might've involved shopping. It's /really/ been awhile.

For once, Talise isn't under arms; she left her sword in the care of one of her friends* and didn't bring armour, mostly the tunic-and-pants-with-sash outfit Noeline picked out for her ages ago. (The sash is green now.) She's got her lute, at least, and a smile that lingers even as Riesenlied explains the gravity of her situation. It'll be a long road for the woman to work her way back to the lifestyle she enjoyed before all of this.

"Hey, if there's anything you think could help, let me know, alright?" she invites Riese. "I imagine you're gonna have to strengthen your muscles again when the time's right. But if I know you, you'll be back at it!"

Talise's mouth hangs open just a bit, but only for a second. A smiling face clouds with a more serious thought, that expression muting to a more reflective smile - but not unkind.

"I, uh. I wanted to return something to you," Talise offers Riese, her voice quieter.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Spotted!

You can practically see the Metal Gear ! over Mariel's head as Lydia rockets toward her. Mariel startles in surprise at the volume more than Lydia's semi-mechanical appearance, but she recovers quickly enough as Lydia takes a header. She winces, but Lydia seems completely unharmed by the crash, judging by the toothy grin she's recieving.

"I'm fine," she says, and while Mariel has been known to say that whether or not it's true, it actually seems to be; if she's hurt, it doesn't show, and not having Mother's oppressive pressure bearing down on her is a huge relief. Probably more for her than most others, just because of her sensitivity to that kind of thing; her bonds with the planet are back, and even if Filgaia is still unhealthy, just hearing it is a huge relief.

"How are you? How is - " She makes a short nod toward the Tainted, including Riese, who she can see over there in a wheelchair; Mariel hasn't spoken to her yet and now she feels guilty for not having previously offered her medical expertise. Now that she doesn't have to hide herself from the Metal Demons... She ducks her head when she spots Riese looking back at /her/.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

  • Meanwhile, back at Fox and Friends Central, a Chiro Mongrel parades around in Talise's armour, pretending to be Lady Chloe.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda *loves* to cook. Preparing a feast is exactly the sort of thing she likes best; she's a little out of her element with what's available *to* cook here, granted, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been helping. Finishing up a few things has actually kept her from taking a seat for a few moments.

Now, though, she's finally ready to come eat. The bleach-blonde compounder (now showing a fair bit of dark root) immediately gravitates toward Avril and Dean, visibly happy to see both of them. She snags some game as she heads over, saying, "Dean, Avril -- it's so nice to see both of you."

After a moment, she notices Mariel, too; she gives a wave, though it's a brief one. She doesn't know Mariel nearly as well as she might like -- but it's hard for Matilda to... change that kind of thing, sometimes.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Honestly, Diablo doesn't look all that good. Much of its armor is slagged and burnt, and the replacements look jarringly out of place at present - Shalune hasn't really had that much time to shape and do a good job of it, what with constantly getting sidetracked to fix up her other devices, or help Leon out with his Gear, or make a collection of ramps and small hydraulic lifts for those members of New Petra who need more in the way of assistance.

On the other hand, the pink-haired mechanic has made a surprising amount of progress when it comes to learning Elw technology, thanks to a decent grasp of the scientific method and an abject curiosity combining to help her out. She can at least look proud of herself for having come this far, and for having the sense of mind to strip the weapons for the time being. Just in case.

"A bumper crop of veggies, or a bumper crop of people?" she beams back at Val, then nudges Avril and Dean forwards towards the tables and Matilda both. "Make sure you try the curry! I helped out with that," she puffs proudly, immediately signalling that it might be best to steer clear.

  • * *

"... Miss Mariel," Noeline greets at a slight distance, and this time the bow of her head is distinctly respectful. Now that she's aware of just what the gardener actually is, she can appreciate what it means for her to come out to this place. For the time being she leaves it at that, letting Mariel dictate the pace of her approach - especially given that Lydia is already leaping to the other girl at some speed.

She does remain in contact with Riesenlied, lacing their hands together and chuckling as her partner vouches for her presence. "Rest assured, I am doing my best to make sure she keeps up with her exercise. There are certainly some times I'd prefer to spoil her, but we muddle through somehow," she puffs up in a theatrical sort of playfulness - but she has the sense of mind to offer Talise a bit of privacy when the woman lowers her voice, glancing around to take stock of the gathering.

<Pose Tracker> Maya Schrodinger has posed.

The distant bustle of revelry wafts through an open window, carried on a breeze that billows the curtains and heaves a great, summery sigh into a small cabin in New Petra. Gauzy rays of sunshine filter through thin curtains, catching on an ordinary girl's spectacles as she silently pours over a freshly-copied textbook from the Fereshte's stock. A crescendo of chatter reaches her ears, and the tip of a fountain pen taps patiently against a thin pad of graph paper. Luxury supplies, by any means, but essential for any budding scholar. It is only when more discernable voices and words reach Maya's ears that her glassy gaze sharpens to normal once more, and she sits up in her chair.

She glances down briefly, to where her idle hands have sketched a disassembled backrest for a wheelchair and cross-sectional details. Is there time to really worry about such frivolities? The diminuitive blonde in the earthen cardigan and vest removes her glasses and unsteadily rises to cross for the door, realizing that she is late. She puts her hand on the doorknob and takes a deep, unsteady breath.

...Focus...

Not very far away from the party at all, a door to one of the many little buildings in New Petra opens. A confident-looking young woman in a bright orange dress emerges at a snappy step, dispensing with greetings left and right as she goes. Her gaze sweeps across the assembled, noticing that the party is well underway already. Without interrupting--yet--, she arrives behind Riesenlied and immediately leans over to peer at something on the rear of the wheelchair.

"I'm late, apo~lo~gies! You know how things go!" she chirps, sounding particularly carefree. Maya glances up after this, instantly recognizing multiple faces from the dangerous dive into Riesenlied's mind. She also chimes in after Noeline.

"And I'm making sure she's staying comfy despite the circumstances. Just you wait until we come up with Wheelchair 2. It's going to change -everything-."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I think she's recovering pretty well, considering." Lydia says. "I think the big challenge is getting her out of the chair. It's been rough on her, but once we get there I think she'll feel a lot better, you know?" She's still smiling and she is, honestly, happy to see Mariel even if she's expressing bright cheer in part to keep spirits up and maybe is still working on turning it off again? "I bet she's happy to see you too." She beams. "Oh man, I didn't even like, gush at you for how brave you were back there. Man, bragging about all the cool people I know requires a spreadsheet or something so I can keep track!"

She pauses for a moment before adding, "I'm not actually gonna do that though. I'm glad you're here. Are --" She thinks for a moment before adding, "Well you're fine, so it must be fine."

Her eyes widen faintly as she sees Maya Schrodinger and she leans back in to murmur to Mariel. "That's Maya Schrodinger. I heard she was so cool that when she was born she gave her mom freezerburn."

She nods slowly, looking to Noeline. She blinks, then gives her a big thumbsup too.

"You hungry?" She adds to Mariel.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Hey, it's fine if Diablo looks banged up. That's proof that he had a totally awesome battle and emerged victorious! Battle scars, kind of thing! Anyway if Dean worried about things like 'aesthetics' and 'whether or not something looks good' he wouldn't willingly wear a belly shirt. At least he kept that to Lunar.

"Hey Matilda! It's great seeing you too! Glad you're doing okay," Dean tells his older friend with a broad, friendly grin. Things he's also glad to see: that she helped with all the cooking. Shalune... maybe somewhat less so? But Dean is a Growing Boy with a Large Appetite, so he'll manage through the curry Shalune helped with, we're sure. "I'll give it a shot!" he thus tells the pink-haired girl. "Everything looks delicious, so I'll probably have a bite of it all!"

Oh hey, it's Maya time! "Don't worry about it, we just got here a bit ago, too!" he tells her as he waves to her, and to Lydia, and to folks in general, because he's that type of person. Meanwhile, he got to say hi to Riese earlier, so he'll let her socialize with some new folks for now. The mounds of delicious foods surely have nothing to do with this decision, either.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

"Yes, perhaps there still might be something to be done?"

And so it is that two thirds of a certain trio venture back into the villager, making their way towards the tables.

"Riesenlied, Noeline. I did not know you had plans such as these," Avril breaks in with, her attention only diverted when Matilda directs her own greetings their way. "Matilda... I'm glad to see you again."

She has not done much more than at best 'cross paths with' the other woman since their mutual struggle against Volsung in the depths of the Photosphere -- enough to know Matilda was alive and well, but not much more than that.

Which is likely /then/ the point where Shalune pipes in that 'they should try the curry'.

"Oh... I suppose we may have been the only ones not to know?" Avril comments to Dean. "Hmm, I wonder if I am a capable cook. I do not believe I have attempted cookery..."

Not, perhaps, the words to give someone confidence.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

There's just a bashful chuckle as Talise talks about strengthening her muscles, nodding. "Miss Lily said that, yes... also, with how-- different the muscle and bone of my legs are now. They don't walk like a human's anymore... She's helping plan out an exercise regimen for me, and a lot of people've been--"

She huffs out for a moment, giggling to Noeline. "--supporting me by having me not put it off. The physical therapy hurts a /lot/ at first, it's a lot of effort... but I know it's important." A pause, as she giggles just a bit more privately to Noeline and says, "I hope you get your chance to spoil me too, sometimes. And me to you too, of course."

She does recognise Matilda amongst the crowd, wondering about what she's whipped up amongst the other cooks; she waves for a moment towards her, though she's more chatting towards Avril and Dean at present. Ah, so they're back from visiting Diablo... and with that-- there's Shalune too!

The wheelchaired Hyadean gestures to Noeline to help her shuffle a bit closer to Lydia and Mariel.

"It's nice to see you again, Miss Mariel..." Riesenlied manages to speak out to the Elw amidst Lydia's; she chimes in to that as she says, "Yes... I must thank you for what you've done for us."

She laces her hand, though, as she's distracted by Maya's carefree callout towards her, waving towards her to say, "Maya! Did you find that textbook useful-- oh-- um, a second wheelchair?"

There's a terribly innocent blink as she looks back up to Noeline.

~*~

Somewhere in an unlit storehouse, the faint crack of a porthole shines light on a mysterious C U C C O shape wheelchair...

~*~

There's a soft cackle from Val as Shalune asks what kind of bumper crop they've had, and she just answers, "Both! And that curry of yours is amazing! Come have a bit of this now that you've saved the world," as she not so surreptitiously tries to get Shalune to have an alcoholic drink.

Dean might or might not be on this, given what he's seen the Tainted do in the bartender's old bar back at the Gutter.

Val might not be the most responsible person in the world.

A pause, as Avril wonders if she has attempted cookery. "I feel a chill runnin' down my spine."

A pause.

"Wait, that's just my cooler! That's right, I forgot I'm a keg right now, bwahahahaha!"

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Benedict fades into the background some to ensure Talise can share things with Riesenlied. The big courier is in the process of uncovering the baskets he and the swordsinger brought along. They're loaded with food supplies that appear to come from Lunar - preserves, rice, Healing Nuts, loaves of bread, even a few sides of cured meat and jars of pickled vegetables. Most of them are bagged. While the bags seem to have once had logos indicating who bagged the supplies, someone's blacked out the logos for some reason.

For Talise's part, she grins knowingly back at Noeline. "There's always time for spoiling. You'll figure it out. You probably already have." Then Maya chimes in, and the swordwoman chuckles broadly. "That I'll have to see. I hope it has wings. That'd be perfect."

Dropping a hand to her hip, she nods as she glances between Riese and Noeline, expression knowing. "That's good, then. It'll be good to see you back at it."

Moving along when Riese does, Talise flips a hand up to her forehead to acknowledge Lydia and the tiny Beastwoman with her - she's had few occasions to run into Mariel.

Then the big swordswoman sinks into a crouch beside Riese. "Anyway. I wanted to return some things to you," she says as she reaches into the bag at her side.

She comes out with what looks like a slim, leather-bound hardcover book - but in fact it's a folder. Easing it open, she offers it up to Riese.

Inside the leather folder is a sheaf of drawings. Most of them seem older have begun to yellow with time, but otherwise they've been preserved.

Most of the papers are crayon drawings. Riesenlied will probably recognize them. The one on top even depicts a familiar fluffy bird. A particularly round fluffy bird. There's even a little speech bubble.

<i'm the fluffiest~, cucco~!>

"There are some in there that are documents, but, uh. We might've found these on our way up with some of the Tainted," Talise admits. "And I thought you'd want to keep them." She's blushing and she's entirely sure why.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel's cheeks pinken slightly. She thinks Lydia is kind of ladling it on, but it's hard for her to control her reaction to that.

"Maybe I can help her," Mariel says, a little uncertain. She still doesn't know exactly what she can do for a Hyadean. They're so different... but she'd be remiss if she didn't offer anything, would she? She glances Riese's way again, catching her eye for a moment - and Noeline's, too, accidentally.

Mariel tries to smile. It actually comes out, after just a moment. "I could eat something," she says to Lydia, "but I would like to say hello first." And, well...

Mariel actually approaches Riesenlied, Noeline, and the others. Straight towards, no flinching away or ducking out of sight; it takes a bit of effort because it's so different from her previous instinct, to stay out of sight, away from the crowds. "Hello," she says, after she's a little closer. "It is - yes. It is good to see you. I'm pleased the town is doing as well as can be..."

She glances at Talise, then steps back. That doesn't seem to be something for her to see, what's in the folder. It's probably for the best that she does not.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied's immediate reaction on seeing the cucco drawing is-- maybe incredibly predictable, because she stares, eyes widening for a moment--

Then you can see the way her face reddens from bottom to top like it were a meter filling up, and wobbling as her horns wiggle-wiggle-wiggle, wiggle-wiggle-wiggle and finally go 'tooooooot' as they double as a chimney stack for a moment.

bawww

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

Avril leans to one side, craning her neck to look at the sketch drawing. "Oh, we found a few of those as well," she comments but a moment later. "Would Mikaia and Janey like them back? We saved them, along with some paperwork we found."

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise opens her mouth slightly as she watches the Riesenkettle rapidly blush so hard it steams out her horns.

From the way she bites her lower lip, she's trying her level best not to give into the urge to go 'aww' or something.

"I'm not gonna lie, there was a map in there that Sephilia took down. And a few documents," Talise tacks on to Avril's comment. She's starting to blush a little too. How could she not?

<Pose Tracker> Maya Schrodinger has posed.

It is only thanks to Lydia's murmured words of appreciation that Maya does not overhear the ludicrous form of praise used. All the same, her Drifter-Sense tingles, and the noticeably-unarmed blonde lady falls momentarily silent as she peers over Riesenlied's shoulder at the cute beastgirl for a moment, suspicious about what is being said. She could have sworn she overheard her name. And yet, she is spared the specifics. "Oh?" she adds after mouthes have stopped moving, attention on Mariel and Lydie. "Is this a friend of yours, Lydie? I remember her from our big jaunt into saving Riesenlady!"

She also returns Dean's wave with an easy smile. Ah, so easily disarmed and distracted... some part of Maya wishes she could reach such easygoing and confident heights as the fearless young dude with the eternal love for Golems. "Make yourself at home!" she calls back without raising her voice too much - best not to startle Riese, or anything. "You're a hero, kinda, remember!"

The girl then gently pats Riese on both shoulders. "Oh, the textbook, you said? Pretty handy. I've made a copy already, so you can have the original back... it'll be a while before I can do my thing with it." she cautions, but not in a terribly worried tone of voice. Besides, it's best to quieten down as Talise zips on in to share something very important with Riese.

You can tell it's important because it's full of round things and Riese's horns have turned into floppy rubber as a result. Maya briefly assumes a devilish 'just as planned' grin as her weird alien mom-figure is briefly stunned for 2d4 rounds from cute.

"Not bad... not bad at all."

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"... Ah -- if you want to, attempt cookery," Matilda replies, with a slight grimace at Avril's words, "I'd love to help." If only to make sure Avril doesn't ruin too many ingredients -- or too many kitchens, for that matter.

Matilda snags a little more meat -- including some she cooked herself. Meat's not usually her specialty, but she got a lot better at it on Lunar. As she does so, Maya arrives and starts talking about their plans for Wheelchair 2. "Ah -- be sure to commit the plans to paper," Matilda murmurs.

Moving toward Riesenlied at the mention of the chair (and possibly at the wave, at that), she says, "If the pain is ever -- too much, please, let me know. I must admit you're a little -- nervewracking, to imagine as a patient, due to your unique biology, but... I'd like to help, just the same."

She eats some meat. It's delicious.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia probably is talking Mariel and Maya up a little, but on the other hand Lydia talks herself up too. It's probably just how she does things.

She straightens up and adds, "Sure thing." with a big teethy smile. "I doubt she'd refuse help!" Despite her tendency to talk people up it isn't as if her joy isn't genuine. She's in a good mood, all told, even if she is pushing it louder and bigger than might normally be the case.

She spots Avril and hesitates a moment, ending up falling a little behind from Mariel as she approaches Riesenlied. C U C C O shape wheelchair requires intensive dev time to make sure that it fits best for you, the cucconsumer.

She smiles blankly as Riesenlied's face bursts into metaphorical flames.

"Yep! This is Mariel! She is both smart and cool so it's natural for us to be friends."

She looks up at Riesenlied and gives her two big thumbsups and a somehow even bigger smile.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

"O-ohhh--!..." breathes Shalune as she learns of the Wheelchair No. 2, her face lighting up as she naturally starts to let her imagination run away with her. "I want to know some more about it! Oh, but I want it to be a secret too--" she immediately corrects herself, frowning uncertainly before she sheepishly rubs at her hair. "And, um, if I take any longer with stuff here I bet Jay'll start to lose her hair. But if I can help, at least let me know!"

For her part, Noeline simply chuckles at Maya's entrance, running a hand back through her hair. "... I appreciate it," she admits. "It's not been easy on any of us." Glancing at her partner, she simply winks. Whether she actually knew about Wheelchair No. 2 before this instant is in question, but she's more than willing to roll with the idea just like that.

She isn't too staid to get out of giving Lydia and Mariel a thumbs-up back, though the motion looks a little ridiculous for her 'Crimson Noble' persona. Which is why she does it with as deadpan an expression as she can manage, her eyes lit up with quiet amusement as she helps wheel Riesenlied closer.

Shalune is an okay cook, and grins encouragingly at the pair she's with. She's not Lunata, but she does manage to hold her own - though her tolerance for spices might be rather higher than a lot of people, and her tolerance for everything else is probably why she gets along so well with Val. "Naaaw, I didn't save the world, I just went 'aaaah blaaaah!!' a lot," she eloquently shoots back, waving her hands in panic, but does accept a tumbler of something a little suspicious from the bartender, immediately taking a sip. ... ... and then another. What might Val have wrought?

"I'm glad you came to see it," Noeline notes back to Mariel. The broad, toothy grin is probably for her partner's sake, because she's patting Riesenlied on the head between her horns as she spontaneously combusts. "To be honest, I'm astonished we managed to maintain the plants. We weren't sure whether to load them on the Fereshte when we left for Elru."

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Despite the party, there's still a couple of quartermasters on hand; they look grateful for all the support, and one of them even grins to go, "Ah, I know some of the Azadians've been really missing these nuts -- they'll really appreciate this, sir," to Benedict.

Riesenlied does cuddle the leather binder a little closer to herself as she murmurs out a, "T-thank you... I didn't think these would sur--"

Then Avril pops in as she speaks that she has more too. "H-h-h-how many of you managed to find themmm?!" She says Mikaia and Janey and she very transparently tries to go, "O-oh, yes, it's... they'd appreciate it--"

But isn't the timeline wrong?? Mikaia and Janey never lived it to the Photosphere! Is Detective Shalune on the case? (Maybe not.)

woob woob woobble... Riesenlied's horns gently deflate from having no more steam to expel and flop against her sides, like they were dog-ears. Just how multifaceted is Hyadean technology?

She does orient herself as she looks and smiles towards Mariel, and nods as she says, "We've been recovering well, yes... We want to help the Azadians rebuild what Sin took from them, but I'm not sure we have a feasible way right now. They've helped us so much, it'd just be right to give back to them."

They could check the Pleasing Gardens, but that's... that's not exactly a place Riesenlied is comfortable taking civilians through. And it might be for nothing if the teleporter isn't working.

The Hyadean nods a bit bashfully to Maya to say, "A-ah, wow, already? I'll have to find something else for you," she adds of her efforts to learn their language. Then Riesenlied does look to Matilda as she offers her help, and -- can't help but chuckle in turn. "I'll do so, Miss Matilda. I imagine I can be kind of a medical disaster, yes. In truth, ah, I'm relying on some potions from Jay to even begin the process, and she said I should ask if you had any suitable compounds for that process too."

and--

oh dear Shalune just took a sip of the Demon Vodka. Oh no, Shalune!!

"You're a real Lunie now, Lunie!!"

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"Ah - yes. My name is Mariel," Mariel says to Maya, with a slight bow. She's known in some of the towns and cities, so Maya might recognize her as a traveling herbalist and doctor. Someone has to handle the small villages of Filgaia, after all... and Mariel hasn't lived in a big city for a very long time. Her cheeks redden more at Lydia's praise.

"Actually, I would like to know if Riesenlied would like additional treatment. I wasn't aware that you were her doctor." That was to Marilyn. "I wouldn't want you to think I was, um, attempting to poach or anything, but if there's anything I can do to help, I'd like to do it."

Though, perhaps right now is not the best moment. Riesenlied looks a little... distracted. Happy? She says to Noeline instead, "If you'd like I could look at the plants while I'm here. I can see if they are, ah, going to continue doing well. Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing what you have done with them anyhow..." Maybe she can help with the Azadians?

Mariel doesn't know as much as you might expect about teleporters, though. SO she doesn't even suggest it.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Benedict, ever the stoic one in an otherwise life-loving Fox Company, inclines his head to the quartermaster. "No problem. A regular supply's hard to come by, but you've got what we can give."

Back at the Riese, meanwhile, Talise looks up at Mariel (she can do that because she's on a knee). Then she blinks a couple of times as she realizes something. "Oh! Hello again," she says with a quick smile for Mariel. "Thanks for pointing us to that labyrinth awhile back."

When Riesenlied hugs the binder like that, the swordswoman opens her mouth to say something -- but when Riese tries to cover by deflecting the drawings to Mikaia and Janey, Talise can't keep from grinning crookedly, which she hides behind a hand.

She straightens again, pushing a hand through her hair and letting out a rush of breath. "Yeah, I want to help the Azadians too. But I've also got some unfinished business on Lunar."

The thought's heavy enough that Talise's smile fades visibly. Dipping her gaze, she breathes out slowly through her teeth. But the shadow passes, and she looks back up again, folding her arms across her midsection.

"Yeah, Riese. I mean, I'm not a doctor, but is there anything me and Benedict can do to help you out? I mean, even if you just want someone to tell the kids some stories or play some songs to lift their spirits. I've got a bunch."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia breaks pose order to place her hands on her cheeks and smile at Mariel and Riesenlied with steven universe stars in her eyes.

She's a star shaman. She has this power. Totally normal.

<Pose Tracker> Maya Schrodinger has posed.

To Matilda, Maya pauses and points a finger. It is not an accusatory one, but a conversational aid. Flippant gestures for a flippant girl, and all. "Speaking of plans: I wouldn't mind a hand looking into a little something, if you're up for a little field research. But that can wait until after the party." she finishes with said finger returning to frame her cheek, turning on her side coyly. It's hard to gauge how serious this is, but maybe that's the point.

Lydia's introduction for Mariel is as short and to the point as it is cute. The blue-eyed girl finds herself smiling genuinely despite whatever melancholy tickle lurks at her core today. "Smart, and cool. Well, that's a good fit for someone smart and cool like yourself!" and she turns a little, giving Riesenlied a little space in her wheelchair, to properly greet Mariel. The polite bow makes her feel a little self-conscious about coming off like too much of a loudmouth to someone so quiet, but you can't change what's already done!

"Well now! Mariel, then. Thanks for all your hard work! I'm sure nobody's gonna mind if you want to spoil Riesenlady with a little extra care," and then Maya drops to a faux-conspiratorial hushed tone that is clearly audible everywhere in the scene that matters. "Between you and me... we owe her a pretty big stack of love 'n care we can't repay without some outside help like your own, you know?" finishing with a fun-spirited wink. The blonde then goes for the energetic handshake if she can--who wouldn't want to squeeze one of those big mittens!?

Finally, as a meddling busybody, Ms. Schrodinger's gaze swivels and locks onto Talise. A certain L-word caught her attention. "Say, you're not the first person I've heard with unfinished stuff to do up there. But how the heck is anyone gonna get back there to take care of it? Lunar's a bit more than a horse-ride away..." Dean Stark has disconnected.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

"I'll want to confer with Jay a little -- if she already has some idea of things that do or don't work for your unique situation, that'll be an excellent help. I have my old notes, of course, but -- ah --" Matilda gestures vaguely with one gloved hand, then sighs a little. "... You know what I mean," she eventually finishes, a little lamely.

Mariel gets her attention, and Matilda adds, "Oh, um -- not exactly. I've assisted her in the past, but I'm not sure I'd call myself 'her doctor,' per se... but nevertheless, you'd be welcome to share in my notes -- especially once I have Jay's as well." She smiles, though it's a little tired-looking.

Something about helping the people from another world gets Matilda to quiet down and start looking for a conversational escape valve -- and conveniently, Maya provides one. "I'm always interested in new field research," she agrees. "Please -- feel free to pull me aside whenever you'd like." She nibbles at some more meat.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

So many people are offering help! Riesenlied couldn't be more heartened to hear it, smiling as she looks towards Noeline for a moment. "I think stories and songs are a great idea. So many of these people are hungry to learn more -- Noeline's been educating them about what's around here, about Ignas and Filgaia... I'm sure Lunar would give you their ears and attentions undivided too."

She shakes her head at Mariel with a smile, not feeling like anyone's trying to poach her medical attention or anything. "I don't really have much medical expertise, so that might be something I need to ask Lily and Matilda about... though--" She looks to Matilda, as if for permission, "Miss Mariel, do you have more of that cough syrup? It was really effective last time. I don't think it'd interfere with any of the other medicines..."

Riesenlied bashfully smiles at Lydia's star-studded eyes and at Maya's exuberance as well, and blushing a little at her comments; when she talks about Lunar, though... she has given thought about asking Mariel about teleporters, but she's not certain how cagey the herbalist wants to be about any information about her kin. Even if Matilda's quietness gets her -- and she thinks about Kaguya for a moment.

"It would require a bit more study, I admit. Lost July is far too dangerous a place to bring everyone to, even if the teleporter even still worked there... but I'm sure we can uncover another way."

There's a delicate smile, though, as she looks to everyone, then to the tables where DANGER is happening. Maybe Shalune will kick the door down to the Wheelchair-2 and have Riese Get Equipped with CUCCO-2.

"I'm glad... even if we have a lot of work for us, it feels as if a great weight's been lifted. One step at a time."

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Noeline probably doesn't help matters by chuckling under her breath at the way Riesenlied wilts; her amusement is clear over her empathic link with Riesenlied, but then equally clear is the warmth and quiet pride that underpins it.

Shalune is not that empathic, though, and is possibly already mildly tipsy as she sneaks another sip from her cup. "'course I'm a Lunie," she pouts at Val. "I reckon I've done enough for three Lunies-worth, so long as you don't count the habit of recklessly divin' into danger as being necessary. Even then, I'm probably on the way there. Just not as much as some," she mumbles, a little sour out of nowhere. Another sip. Someone's going to be a blob later...

Mariel offers them assistance, and Noeline's eyebrows raise. "... I-- doubt very much that we'd turn down the offer, but I'm not the one who's been looking after the gardens. If you're willing, I'd be happy to introduce you - though I think we could probably use training more than we could use direct help, lest we drag you back here every week," she huffs with the start of a wry smile.

"Lunar is-- definitely on the docket, I suppose," she admits towards Talise. "But as Maya points out, the question of 'how' is very much the problem. If Lydia would just go ahead and build her rocket already, we might solve it - until then, we will do the best we can for them here and now," she needles her adopted daughter with a light smirk in the midst of it all, then grins. "If we assume that there was a full network of teleporters, that might work. The question is whether they're in decent repair."

Noeline pauses after that, though, because suddenly there's a certain pink blob who's managed in the interim to nudge her way to Riesenlied's side, and bonk a mop of hair onto the Hyadean's shoulder headless of the plating there. "Miss Ri~ie~ese~e..." wobbles a suspiciously far-off voice, and there's a maudlin sort of sniffle from somewhere under there. "Why are Lunies so du~umb..."

Her cup is suspiciously full. "Val-- /please/ tell me you did not give her /seconds/," Noeline heaves out a long-suffering sigh.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Caught by the meddling of the resident busybody, Talise opens her mouth as if to answer Maya decisively. But she ends up hanging there for a few beats before wilting just a little under the weight of her own absence of a good response. "...I wish I knew," she finally admits, flashing Ms. Schrodinger a lopsided smile. "But it's my home. I've got to figure it out. But then, I like it here too."

Going home's a lot harder when people you really like live on another planet.

"If Lydia built her rocket, I'd probably have to see if I could bum a ride off her," Talise says with a crooked smile.

"But I'd miss the hell out of Filgaia."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

In the same breath that Lydia glances at Avril, Avril meets Lydia's eyes.

/I'm sorry. I can do nothing for them as I am now./

A sentiment that may, perhaps, need to pass on silently alone. Right now... she does not wish to dwell on the limits of her ability to influence matters. Lest she be goaded by obligation into choosing a rash path forward.

"Yes. I had thought to present them to you before in the hopes your memory of your children would serve to loose you from your condition," Avril explains. "However, it became impossible to do so. Still, we have kept them safe."

Though Avril does tilt her head to one side, as if to puzzle at Riesenlied's... particular reaction.

"Oh -- I suppose we should try it while it is warm, though. Ah, if you don't mind, Shalune...?" Perhaps mercifully, then, Avril -- along with Dean -- start to move on to investigate the curry.