2019-04-26: Crossing Boundaries

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  • Log: Crossing Boundaries
  • Cast: Catenna, Kaguya Alathfar
  • Where: Mi'ihen Highroad
  • Date: April 26, 2019
  • Summary: Kaguya confronts Catenna on the Mi'ihen Highroad, and the conversation quickly turns to Matilda....

==============================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>==============================

Many years ago, a man named Lord Mi'ihen, commander of a mercenary group known as the Crimson Blades, was summoned by the Grand Measter to Bevelle to answer the challenge that his group was a threat to Yevon. Though his followers suspected he would be executed and begged to follow, Mi'ihen ordered them to stay behind and walked along an old path to Bevelle, without stopping to rest. 

Moved by the display of piety, the Grand Maester formally adopted Mi'ihen and his soldiers into Yevon as a defensive force, known now as the Crusaders. In recognition of the momentous moment, the path Mi'ihen walked now bears his name.

...except not really, because the original one was wrecked by Sin a few hundred years ago. You can still see bits of it as you pass along the Highroad, on which the Djose Temple can also be found.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8tfe_H7bzw
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Spira is an entirely new world for Catenna. There's much to see and people to meet - and there's a mystery behind it. The mystery of how Sin, the Clysmian of Obsession, came to dwell on this obscure continent unknown to the rest of Lunar save by legend - and how it is that only the Summoners are able to bring it to heel.

Riding a chocobo had occurred to her to make her roamings easier. She chose not to. She did not even ride ze shoopuf.

Soft-shod feet move across the Mi'ihen Highroad - or in fact, the fields just away from it, away from the road proper. One could see the silhouette of her atop a hillock, highlighted against the tender blue of the sky. She raises a hand to her forehead to shield herself from the sun, then smiles pensively, looking out over the water in the distance. Of course, she won't be able to see Sin from here, and she wouldn't know what to do if she did spot it.

<You're still not sure what you're looking for,> Saarda-Shanta comments from her spot on Catenna's shoulder. <I am not sure answers about the state of Sin will be forthcoming. We have little concept of what happened to this world in the years since the traitor Althena arrived. Spira, indeed, seems to be most separate of all.>

"True." Catenna begins to move down the hill, on towards a path through heavier scenery. To one side of her way forward, tumbled rocks loom; to another, there's heavy shrubs and bushes, a large statue rising out of them. "But perhaps we will find someone with more knowledge than those in Luca."

<Do you feel Lulu did not give us all the answers we would need?>

"I think she told us what she felt was necessary - which, to be fair, was a great deal." Catenna frowns. "But I want to know why it is that only a Summoner can stop Sin."

She's wrapped up enough in her conversation that she's paying little attention to much else.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

A whole new world! A new fantastic--

Oh, no, wait. This one has a death god. Not just any death god, but one that actively roams around bringing death, which, for Kaguya at least, is a lot more impressive than 'one time, turn a nice girl into some kind of terrifying super zombie.'

The thing about silhouettes, of course, is that when people actually change their clothing style, it makes their silhouette different. For this reason, Kaguya does not at first recognize Catenna as she walks about the Highroad. The simple truth of course is that she isn't on a chocobo not because she avoided the birds... But instead, because she wants to take her time, explore, scout... And that means it's a waste of time to have a speedy buddy.

Sure, they also smell, but, hey. Birds. They like greens. Kaguya likes greens. It's a good relationship.

The raised path is best for travel on a chocobo, up a cliff, easier. But the lowered path, in the gorge beside--that's the one that's more interesting, has more to explore and find. More old statues, more pieces of the ancient cities that were once here...

But out in the fields are even better for this. The small Veruni raises a set of binoculars to her eyes, for a closer look--because, as it turns out--

The first look didn't identify Catenna for her. But she's taken more than one. And now, dressed still in Hyland-marked attire, white tunic and green trousers and gilt inlaid in each--her weapons sheathed as one--she steps forward. Step, step--

Hop.

Kaguya lands--quietly, but not silently--near Catenna, beside the statue. She unbends her knees, rising again to her full height, such as it is, and then leans against the stone, arms crossed. "Hey hey, Cat. Fancy meeting you here." She pauses. "Shit, I had something for this. Uh... Cat got your..."

She shakes her head. "Well, whatever. Hey! I wanna talk, so, don't run."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna's alternated between the raised path and the lowered one. One option gives her good views. The other one lets her see the things that she can only see distantly from those good views.

The one thing she did not see from that far out was someone she hasn't encountered for the better part of a year - and with the sound of someone descending near her, Catenna turns towards the little noise, reaching for the knife at her belt before she realizes who she sees and diverts the hand away.

The surprise is sufficient that Catenna blurts out, "Kaguya?!" and totally forgets she was moving her arm quickly enough to create momentum.

All her Jean training fails her, and she's left pinwheeling her arms for a moment with a squeak as she stumbles to the right, obligating herself to hop awkwardly a couple of times before tottering back the other way to keep herself from falling on her bottom. It is a near thing, and someone, at least, does take a tumble; the Owlet on Catenna's shoulder topples off, bounces off her chest, chirps in protest and has to flutter back up with a lazy orbit of the Moon Shaman's head.

<Goodness, how surprising,> the tiny bird puffs in a voice more felt in the mind than heard.

Catenna doesn't answer that because she's too busy collecting herself with a quick breath. "Kaguya, how did you find yourself here?" she asks with visible surprise, leaning forward a little. "Are you alright? Were you sent here by Vinsfeld like the others?"

It is a testament to how far Catenna has come in the past two years that she does not pull her knife. She's visibly tense, and there's a wariness in her eyes mixed with the surprise. But she does not go for the knife.

"...You want to talk to me?" she asks, then, as if it just hit her.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Kaguya has learned to be pretty good at sneaking, really. She expects some surprise--buut she doesn't quite expect... the flailing.

Kaguya sorta pauses, waits. She gives a sort of 'hmm well that's fair' look when Catenna doesn't fall, instead, nodding along thoughtfully. "Yep," she answers, belatedly, about her presence. She notices the lack of knife, the tension. Both, even.

"Looks like you made a friend, too," Kaguya comments. "Anyway I'm fine--it's nice of you to ask! I kinda wasn't sure you'd be interested, considering. Nice, though."

She pushes off of the statue, steps forward to a better conversational distance. "I've actually been on Lunar for a while, now. I didn't go back with the bulk of you in Azado; I saw the teleporter and decided to leave before it went off. I had some things to do here, y'know?"

"I've heard a little about Vinsfeld, though. No--I actually came here with the Althenans, after Sin. I imagine you've run into some, by now. If not--surprise! There's a bunch of folks here on a crusade to defeat Sin."

"Anyway yes, I do. I wanted to ask a few things... but first, see how you were doing, see how things are with us, you know. Bit of warning, though--" Kaguya lifts a hand. "The Guard in particular have you and the other Carakinners on their shitlist. 'Pernicious fiends' and 'underhanded something or other', since a run-in with a priestess named Mauri... who happens to be the little sister of the White Knight, Leo. I'm not gonna attack you on sight, but some of them might."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Maybe some of the Jean training came through for Catenna after all.

If nothing else, her balance is back, and the initial shock of surprise is wearing off, giving way to a quiet wariness she's visibly attempting to show. When Kaguya does step closer, the Moon Shaman's shoulders shift subtly - but her hand does not drop to her weapon. "...I was concerned about you," she says, her voice quieter and more level. "I am sorry we were not able to help you."

When the Owlet is indicated, she nods simply, pressing her lips together. "...Yes, she was born not long after you blew up that statue in my face." She does not change her tone appreciably but she does glance to one side when she says it.

The Owlet, for her part, is staring at the Veruni girl that much more intently, but not saying anything.

As Kaguya explains things, Catenna arches her eyebrows slightly, then curves her lips into a small frown. "...My understanding is that Sin cannot be defeated by conventional force of arms," she muses. "But I had wondered what had become of you. I suppose you have found a place for yourself here. For my part, I have been well...."

The mention of the Guard's shitlist brings a slight scowl to Catenna's face. "...I remember that encounter. It was necessary to preserve one of the Statues. I had... no idea that the White Knight had a sister, or that the Red Priestess was she." She flicks her hair back before adding, "But it would have made no difference. Nevertheless I... appreciate that you did not attack me."

This time, she leaves unsaid, before asking, "You are one of the Guard now?"

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Seems so!

"...Thanks," she answers simply. "I'm still dying. Just, slower--Luanr's healthier than Filgaia. Might be the air... might be Althena, might be that the source of the Guardians' power is down there on the planet and up here in orbit it's not as bad. But, you know--it's better than it was."

A shrug, "I appreciate the thought. But I don't blame you for their choices or actions. Maybe I should, since you follow them, but, whatever--not quite the same."

Hmmm. Kaguya consiers the owlet. "Cool. I like birds." Kaguya doesn't even pretend to apologize about the exploding statue thing. It's just, not even on the table. Instead, she smiles at the Owlet. ...It's sort of fangy, as smiles go.

"Sin couldn't be beaten by the fleet when it showed up in Azado, and they've never been able to beat it here without Summoners. On the other hand, we've got the entire assembled forces of Glenwood and Meribus, plus more preparation. I'm not gonna say it's easy, but it's not the same as being surprised by it."

"Yeah, I found a good spot up here. I've been around--things have been good."

She pauses, though, considers as she hears more of the story. "So, you'd have done it anyway, 'cause the statues were important. Well, with Mother taken out, at least those aren't going to come up again probably. Anyway I get you, buuut..." Kaguya gestures. "He took it kinda personally."

She lowers her hand. "Two things. First: I still like a lot of you, and call it.. courtesy to some old friends. I don't intend to do any of you harm if I don't have to. So, provided that we don't have conflicting immediate goals, as far as I'm concerned I'll even buy you a drink--and I'd prefer to keep it that way. That's part of why I wanted to talk, to see if I can make sure and... avoid, coming into conflict with you and the Carakin, if I can help it."

"As for the Guard--I'm not, technically, a member. But, as a Duchess of Hyland and top general of their forces, when the goddess of the local religion calls you up, you go along. So I'm working with them, yes. If you want, I can try and smooth things over for you with them... But no guarantees."

"...So. I heard about Vinsfeld, and how he sent you all here. I heard about more than that, too. What I'd like to know is what your plans are now that you're here in Spira, and when the last time you saw Matilda was. --Don't worry about offending me there, I know she left you guys, too. But you can imagine I'm interested in her status."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

It is not lost on Catenna that Kaguya's completely unapologetic. But then, is Catenna herself apologetic about moon-crushing Leo's little sister?

Ah, priorities. Saarda-Shanta, at least, cocks her head to one side by about 50 degrees when the Veruni girl grins that grin. <Hello.> Once again, the voice is heard more in the mind than anything else.

Catenna lets out a slow rush of breath through her nose. Lips coming together in a firm moue, she digests Kaguya's comments on her health, but most of them she can't find an answer for beyond, "I am glad you are doing better. Though Celesdue's power is more clear to me here than it is on Filgaia."

The mention of the fleet draws a small sigh from the Moon Shaman, and she glances to one side for a moment. The battle in Azado was an ugly memory - one in which she'd heard even Celesdue herself scream in terror. Her pale grey eyes drift towards a spot somewhere to Kaguya's left, not fully focused on something, merely lost in thought and taking in what Kaguya is telling her without hastening to interrupt her.

'I still like a lot of you'

"And a lot of us still like you," Catenna says, her voice quiet as she brings her gaze back around towards the smaller woman. Or perhaps the duchess. Catenna crooks her eyebrows slightly. "...You really did adapt to your circumstances, didn't you?"

Kaguya lays the difficult question on the table, and Catenna sighs with a slow shake of her head. "Matilda has chosen to take the side of Vinsfeld and Odessa, and fought against Jacqueline in so doing."

One shoulder rises and falls in a little shrug. "To be frank, the issue of Odessa is not as interesting to me as the issue of Sin. One white conqueror is much the same as another to the Baskar and the Zortroa. Vinsfeld is following a very old road. But my opinion is a minority one within the Kinship, I suspect."

She cocks her head slightly. "...Truthfully I had a feeling Matilda would want to fight us eventually. But I had assumed it would be that she would leave us to fight beside you."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"Hmm," Kaguya considers. "That's actually interesting. I wonder--is that true of any other Guardians? Maybe I should ask around among you shamans. I mean, Celesdue makes sense--she's supposed to be Guardian of the moon, right?" Kaguya 'hmms', tongue running up against the side of her teeth in her mouth in a vague tic of thought. "...Beacuse if that's true, then..." She considers, shakes her head. "Well, I don't have enough data to say--but if what you're saying is true, not just, like, some thing you're saying to make yourself feel better... It's an interesting piece of information. I'll have to make it up to you, that's worth something."

No, Kaguya's not apologetic--but it's true. They both have their priorities. ...And she said at the time, she'd rather they not die as a result.

Kaguya says little else to Saarda-Shanta at the moment, instead nodding along. "Nice to hear," she answers. And then, a little laugh. "Heh--Yeah. I was busy, when you were here before, and after. You guys actually taught me some things that I'm trying out, now. I do still appreciate our time together." Pause. "...And it was good curry."

The difficult question is there--and so, the mention of Matilda is there, and Catenna's views... Kaguya grins, faintly, about that, but doesn't answer until Catenna finishes, sort of tilting her head to one side, then the other, then a little shrug again.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking first, too. Another human conqueror? Doesn't really pique my interest. But I admit--if Matilda thought his ideas were worth thinking about, then I'm going to have to ask her more about why she'd think so. She has a good moral instinct--she cares a lot about the people who get stepped on by others. A lot more than I do, anyway. But then... If he's all anti-noble, I bet he wouldn't like me much, either. Heh. Alien invader, and all..."

Pause. "by the way, I'm keeping that alien thing quiet. It's... inconvenient, to have people asking too many questions, scare the locals. I can count on your discretion as long as we're on neutral terms, right?"

But after that, she finally says, "But the thing about fighting you guys is... That's not a bad instinct, on your part? I mean, you know the writing on the wall. But the simple truth is, I don't have a reason yet to fight all of you. I can't guarantee I won't--I mean, the Guardians aren't my main concern right now, but it could come up again--but right now? Just, no reason."

"Still--that's the last time you or the others saw her? Do you think she was transported here, too?"


<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The fact that Kaguya's that interested in Celesdue takes Catenna aback slightly. She doesn't cant her head nearly as deeply as Saarda-Shanta does because she has a normal human neck, but she does tilt it to the left a degree or two.

"I could not say," she muses as something occurs to her. "The relationship between Lunar and Filgaia is... very opaque. Though there are connections between the two. That much is evident. I would not, however, lie to you."

The Veruni speaks of delicious curry, and Catenna nods quietly - but the laugh meets what most expressions meet when tossed at Catenna. Namely, controlled reserve, broken only by smaller reactions like a faint upquirking at one corner of her mouth before it's gone. "You are always welcome to visit us again, Kaguya. I was glad to call you my friend, and I would again should it become possible."

But there are barriers between them, even when the smaller woman echoes her feelings about Vinsfeld and Odessa and takes them off in another direction. Slim fingers move past her cheek to brush a strand of hair aside. "I doubt most on Lunar would understand what a Veruni is. I have no intention of going around announcing that to anyone."

A bit of a shadow crosses her face. "...On balance, Vinsfeld's intentions are wrong. And I don't care for how he views power. I don't think it's particularly right to try and dominate people just because you can. But that is the choice Matilda has made. I do not know if she is on Lunar, or still on Filgaia; last I saw her, she was hurting Jacqueline. And I would rather not have to go against her. But it is fairly clear that Odessa considers us enemies, so I expect that it will happen. At that point, all I can do is what is necessary to protect my companions." Catenna lets that sit there for a moment.

"If she is here, I have not seen her," she admits, before lowering her hand back to her hip. "As for the Guardians, you know my stance on them."

Again, paths diverge. They swing back in ways that will require violence. She doesn't like it.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Kaguya seems unperturbed by the reaction she gets. "So, you're not sure, yourself. That makes sense--you're most connected to one of them. If I could find more connected to others," she muses, "Then maybe..." A beat. "Anyway, it might be nothing. But it might be the key to something, too. ...I'm being cryptic, I know, but I'll tell you if the lead pans out."

She pauses. "I believe you, about being truthful in this."

"That'd be nice. ...I don't think it's really feasible, honestly. I know there's some bad blood, and I know there's things that can't be taken back. I understood what I was doing, that day, just like you understood what you were doing when you fought against me. ...But if things change... Sure. That'd be nice."

Kaguya nods, admitting, "That's true. But the questions could get dangerous. Not just for me--but, well, part of why I can be good to people is that they don't give me the need to fight them, you know?"

She considers. "Right, wrong--that's nice to say, but I find it doesn't change anything. Who actually listens when you tell them they're wrong, that they shouldn't do what they're doing?"

"But that's good enough for now. Thanks."

"So... You say you're interested in Sin? Is that your main plan here, to look into a way to deal with it?"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

All of a sudden Catenna feels like she's given away a secret she didn't realize was supposed to actually be secret. She glances at Saarda-Shanta; the Owlet looks back at her without saying anything.

"...Yes, keep me in the loop, if you don't mind," she answers quietly as she turns her gaze to Kaguya again, vaguely expecting that 'the loop' is going to be her getting blown up again.

Another stream of bad blood forming a border between their two worlds. Another red river she can't manage to bridge because the topography on either side is just too different. "...I would hope that things could change. We do not have to be enemies. I would prefer it if we were not."

It might be inevitable, she realizes. Her conversation with Ethius from a year ago replays in her mind again.

"I would like to find a way to deal with Sin, yes. I do not think that confronting it with an army will stop it. Whatever White Knight Leo and his Guard think of me, he is a noble man and I would rather he not throw his life away - it seems the Spirans have tried it this way before and always failed. If you value their lives, I would encourage you to advise the White Knight and his allies to spare their men certain defeat."

Catenna frowns deeply and crosses her arms across her midsection, shoulders coming up, then settling once more. "...But, ultimately, I will go where Jacqueline goes, and I suspect that she will return to Filgaia and fight Odessa, and...."

For a moment, Catenna hesitates. Then, setting her jaw, she says, "...Matilda told Jacqueline that Filgaia is not a world she is meant for. She admitted that she had lied about her feelings to us for months. I do not care about Odessa. I am less sanguine about people who lie to my friends and threaten to kill them, no matter how much I like Matilda."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"Sure. If it pans out, it'd be a good thing. I'd be happy to tell you."

Maybe explosions, maybe not. In the meantime, sure, there is that hope--and Kaguya watches Catenna thoughtfully for another few moments. "Believe it or not, I feel the same way. If things go as I plan... we won't have to be forever." A beat, and a laugh, "Though, I don't exactly have a long-term. Even if not for us, then maybe you can have a better relationship with others of my people, when the time comes. I really am working for what I think is best. ...Not just to get revenge, anymore."

Kaguya nods, though, in the sense of someone who appreciates a warning, but isn't surprised by it. "Yeah, he's a good guy. Don't worry--I know that in a conventional, head-on assault, we lose. We saw it in Azado; even the Dragonmaster couldn't take Sin down himself. I'm planning to compensate for that--we're not going to go in assuming Sin is any less powerful than we've seen that it is. ...In fact, I'd prefer to work with the Spirans on this one, since they've been able to fight it before."

She considers, then. "So for now, we're fine... We might even have the same goal. But later, that may change. Yeah, I could see it."

"...The truth is," Kaguya answers, "She's right about that. Jay's... kind. Almost absurdly kind. She's not really prepared for the world as it is, for how cruel people tend to be to one another--she assumes it's better than it is... and that can get her hurt."

"But can you blame her, lying? Having seen the things she has, experienced what she has, but trying to hold in your doubts about this great world your friends say they can see, until finally you can't?"

"...Anyway, if it comes to that, we'll fight. But I don't know my opinion on Odessa yet, either. Just, be warned... anybody who goes after Matilda has to go through me--or deal with me after. Consider it some advice for anybody. She represents some of the best of what humans have to offer, I think--she's proof that there's more to you than most of us think. ...And that's how I'll act, if it comes to it."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna is not yet on fire. She considers that progress.

From her shoulder, Saarda-Shanta glances between Kaguya and Catenna, yellow eyes watching their expressions as they speak, as if anticipating violence. In her eyes it looks worse than in Catenna's.

"If you had suggested that two years ago - that we could find a way to build a bridge between humans and Veruni - I would have found it impossible. But whatever our differences are - and they are many - I do care for you. I judged Veruni too harshly for much of my life. Perhaps things can be better if we are all prepared to be honest."

But Matilda wasn't, she reminds herself.

"Whatever your plans are for Sin, just be careful. I like you and do not want you to die." It's frank, but there's a simple honesty behind it, in the way Catenna meets Kaguya's eyes.

But the gaze doesn't last. She looks away when the Veruni begins to start in on Jay. For a moment, Catenna closes her eyes and exhales slowly, subtle signs of tension emerging in the way she holds her jaw.

"Jay's earnestness is part of what makes her unique and I hope she never loses her sense of hope, no matter how much she has to learn." Catenna looks back to Kaguya again, steady. "Ultimately Filgaia needs more Jays in it. Would you not say so? If bridges are what you want, she is one who builds them with all her heart.

"I've suspected for a long time that Matilda would turn against us. She has the right to be disillusioned with the world. In a way, she isn't wrong. Filgaia is a hard place, and the Zortroa know that every bit as well as privileged sedentary societies with running water and modern medicine." It comes out a little more acidic than she intended. "But what I cannot forgive is that she knew for months not just that she was upset, but that she had been contacted by Odessa already and still traveled with us, knowing that she would betray us to them. I like Matilda. She is an intelligent, sophisticated woman and I wish I could have done more for her. But I can't accept the way she treated her friends. Jacqueline Barber is the kind of person Filgaia's future needs, and anyone who comes after Jay, even Matilda, will have to reckon with me."

There's steel in Catenna's tone, but her pitch doesn't go up - she keeps it at a simple, firm speaking voice and doesn't break eye contact.

If it is possible for an owlet to look concerned, Saarda-Shanta is managing it. Her feathers bristle a bit.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"Heh. Why shouldn't you have thought it was impossible? Back then, everybody knew we were enemies, and that the Veruni had no interest in humans as anything other than a nuisance to be dealt with." A beat, "...And me, I used to blame humans because the Guardians seemed to like them better. But the truth is--things are kind of shit for most humans. They're not some favored new children replacing us--and sure, they're not all sick... but you humans don't have the power we do, either."

"So, we'll see, okay? I'm willing to engage in a little honesty. ...I'm not telling you everything, now--there's things I have to keep under wraps--but, I'm at least telling you that there's more goiing on."

"Heh. Thanks. I'll be careful. I'm... a lot better at not dying than most, despite the fact that I'm, you know, also apparently really good at dying. I'm not going to do anything reckless about it, and I have ways of getting out if things go south. ...But, you guys be careful, too. You're not as sturdy or connected as I am. And while it's true you going out would remove a threat to Matilda..."

Kaguya shakes her head. "Not my preference to see you hurt." She pauses, though--she sees the tension. And she actually smiles, briefly--but it's almost wry, a little distant. "I agree with you. Filgaia does need more Jays. ...But it also needs people who are willing to pound down the things that are all over right now ready to prey on those Jays. When I say this stuff, it's not an insult to her--I'd like to see the world she sees. ...But it's not the one we're in right now. I think you, of all people, realize that--any Baskar should. Your gods supposedly sustain the world, and people still step on you."

Kaguya considers for a moment, though--she just reiterated Catenna's point about the Zortroa, the Baskar, knowing these things. "...You don't know the full story of what Matilda's been through, if you're making points about sedentary society and running water. And I'm not gonna tell you."

"..." Kaguya considers, then, thinking. "That's how it is, huh...?" She watches the owl, for a moment longer. Then, Catenna again. She hears the steel, there--she hears her commitment. What she can accept, what she can't.

"So," Kaguya starts, cracking her neck with a little tilt, rolling her shoulders. "I wanna say... I respect your committment to honesty. You really put your money where your mouth is, you know? That's admirable."

In a blink, a flash, less than an instant--Kaguya blurs into motion. One of the two butterfly swords sheathed at her hip comes from the scabbard they share, pulled too fast to see, and she steps forward, moving to take Catenna's shoulder in one hand and thrust the fat blade straight through her--not a killing gut wound, if it connects, but painful, maybe nicking hip-bone, grievous nevertheless.

"Not smart," Kaguya then says, "But admirable. I get that you care, but... Well. So do I."

"So this is your warning."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

A small, thin smile tugs across Catenna's face, letting a little bit of bitterness and old hurt creep through it. "...I lived in Elru, Kaguya. I've been in the Control Zones and encountered Veruni fighters. I know how the Veruni saw humans. It wasn't the best introduction. But combat often is not."

The Moon Shaman brings her hand up, the backs of her fingers catching a few strands of hair to push it back. But the simple gestures disguise the fact that she's tense and holding a certain amount of steel.

She smiles again. This time, some of the tension does make it through. "I'm only as much of a threat to Matilda as she decides to be to Jacqueline. The ball, as the Blitzball people say, is in her court."

Saarda-Shanta clicks her bill, then cocks her head back to meet Kaguya's eyes. There's brief contact before the small bird hops into the air and flutters up, ghosting away in a slow drift. Catenna glances up for a moment, then back down to Kaguya.

"I draw the line when those things pound down the Jays. You're right. I don't know all of Kaguya's life circumstances, and I can't possibly account for everybody. Nor do you know all of mine and why I feel this way. And you can't account for all of that either. All I can account for is my mission and my friendship with Jay Barber."

The shorter woman cracks her neck. Catenna bunches her shoulders slightly, then lets out a soft breath. "As I said. I don't want to--"

She doesn't finish the sentence before Kaguya lunges at her.

There's a snap of movement. Catenna's left arm comes out. She attempts to bring it up to Kaguya's collar.

Her hand makes contact a second after the sword plunges through her unarmoured midsection and out the other side. What gets hit isn't critical or fatal - but the weapon does come out the other end in a gory spray. The Moon Shaman immediately sags forward with a wet retching sound and crumples over the blade like a bundle of rags. Only some miracle of coordination keeps her standing for a moment.

She doesn't look up right away, mostly because she can't see much more than a narrow tunnel of blurred light surrounded by red and black pain. The cold weapon feels entirely too white-hot within a body full of severed nerves screaming at her internally. She can feel each individual bead of blood dripping from her mouth.

Drip, drip, drip.

When she looks up, she clenches her teeth, pupils dilating down to a knifelike stare. Blood runs through them. Her fingers curl weakly against Kaguya's collar as she attempts to pull herself up the shorter woman's body.

"That's... two I owe you," she rasps.

Her nerves betray her; her knees buckle and she slumps to the ground, gravity dragging her off the sword as she falls to land on her side in a bleeding pile. Her eyes are half-focused as consciousness leaves her.

Well overhead, Saarda-Shanta circles, anxiously watching Catenna bleed out below. Either there's nothing she can do here, or she's deliberately chosen not to.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Kaguya is entirely steady in her motions; there is almost no way to anticipate them, no telltale signs of tension before she moves. Whatever else is true of her, she has advanced far as a combatant since the time she shattered Lucadia's statue. She says nothing, makes no sound, until after her small weapon sinks through, and a drop of blood begins to drip from it. ...From her mouth, too.

"This," Kaguya says in the moments Catenna is awake, after she rasps out that reply, "Is the limit of your ideals. Remember that."

Kaguya lets go Catenna's shoulder, as she slumps. She glances, to where the bird went... and then back to Catenna, below. Kneeling, the small Veruni wipes her weapon on a cloth that she pulls, sheathing it once again, its silvery glow brightened for the polish of the moment as it disappears into its resting-place. Extending her hands, Kaguya lifts Catenna as easily as a doll, bringing her up over her shoulder, arm around her to keep her secure. "Up we go." Kaguya looks up again. She smiles to Saarda-Shanta, and starts off down the Highroad, reaching the top of the hill before she bends at the knee, leaps--

-=-=-

Kaguya Alathfar's white-and-gilt tunic, short-sleeved and once fine, is stained with blood all down one side as she opens the door into Rin's Travel Agency with a free hand. The woman suspended over that side's shoulder is unmoving, unconscious--but nevertheless breathing. She should be too heavy at her size and musculature for someone as small as Kaguya to carry.

"Fryd dra--"

Shocked, the clerk at the front breaks into Al Bhed at first before Kaguya steps in, the other patrons turning in surprise to look at the spectacle. "Gonna need a room," the pointy-eared girl says, making her way to the counter. "For one. Plus a few curatives to keep her going until her friends find her here. I doubt they'll be that long."

She gets a wary look, with how casual she is about this, and then she adds, "She took a wrong step," the Duchess Alathfar explains. "Out on the Highroad." Then, to punctuate her statement, Kaguya pulls a large bag of gil and tosses it onto the counter. "That should cover it, plus extra for the mess. One thing."

"Ah...O-of course," the clerk starts, her expression clearly taken aback.

Kaguya continues, "If someone claiming to be with the Carakin comes through here, tell her she's here. Anybody else... It's none of their business."

Kaguya kneels down to set Catenna, Shaman of Celesdue, down, and brings a bottle of some strange potion to her lips, tilting her head back to make her drink. "That one's a freebie," she comments to the still-unconscious woman before her, and then stands back up.

"...If someone does ask why she's here--just tell them a friend of Matilda Whitehead's decided that she wasn't going to leave her alone."