It’s midafternoon, and the height of summer. While the temperatures have been growing slowly warmer over the past week, the humidity has remained brutally high with even the daily rainstorms not doing much to alleviate it. The market area of Vesper is as bustling and busy as ever despite a sudden thunderstorm opening up overhead.
Inside Gran’s, one of the best known and highest-recommended taverns in this part of the city, the mid-afternoon lull has hit the dining room, with people scattered around the room lingering over their plates and drinks to avoid having to go out into the rain.
At one of the recently vacated tables, the dishes left there start floating and organizing themselves neatly before settling into a large, retangular, bucket-like bin against the wall near the doors leading to the kitchen.
Kaji has been noticeably scarce from his usual scene here at tavern and inn, and save for a quick stop-by a week or so past, he’s been absent from the city itself for the better part of a month. He’d gotten in early this morning looking as tired as anyone might be after being stuck on the early morning ferry ride from Saren’s Rest, disappeared into his room and hadn’t resurfaced.
At least, not until now.
A cat draped over his shoulder like a lopsided mink stole, Kaji yawns as he makes his way down the stairs, at least looking more rested and definitely hungry. He wears a short-sleeved shirt and his favorite, if also only pair of jeans and worn sneakers. Gran’s is one of the safest places to be, and it’s nice to be able to dress lightly, especially with the humidity, although it’s not nearly as bad as it can be in Japan during the summer. Yet.
The sight of floating futniture and dishwear brings a smile to his face. Ah, it’s nice to be back home. Eyes skim the room for the little mouse as he makes way for the kitchen to see what he can grab to eat.
Entering the business, the golden eyed native american brushes the rain off of the shoulders of his buckskins. He takes a look around the room, observing the people and the floating plates and the other details people tend to look at in a new place.
From a shelf on the far wall of the dining room, Miss Frizz waves hello to Kaji even as she watches the draped cat-stole a bit uneasily. The last time a cat was around, it chased back and forth across the room, and it wasn’t fun. At all.
For those with sharp eyes, Miss Frizz looks to be nothing more than a common field mouse. Well, a common field mouse wearing a bit of red fabric over her back like a cape as if to make her easier to spot.
One of the servers for the tavern greets Crying Eagle as he enters and advises him to sit anywhere he likes. Then she’s bustling off, carrying a refill of a beverage to one of the people already sitting at a table.
At least Kaji’s cat, by the looks of it, is still small. Well, smallish. She’d been a birthday present from Megana, and Kaji’s only regret is that he hadn’t been able to spend a whole lot of time with her for his being called out to meet with Ardul and Hunter across the bay.
Stepping out with a tray bearing a loaded plate of Gran’s special for the day and some freshly baked bread, the young necromancer navigates towards an empty table. He slides the kitten off of his shoulder and settles her in his lap so he can reach for some bread. When he notices the newcomer- but then it being Gran’s, every other person’s a newcomer, he raises a hand to wave in greeting. He’s off duty today but some habits die hard, it seems.
Crying Eagle nods in greeting to the person who waves, though his eagle-like golden gaze focuses on the mouse. He bows his head respectfully towards her, his gaze going from piercing eagle-like to one less predatory in the process. He makes his way to an empty table and takes a seat in a chair, after a moment of consideration at the article of furniture.
When Kaji disappears into the kitchen, Miss Frizz looks around the room and freezes at the golden bird-eyes of the man who’s just arrived. She stays entirely still until he bows his head respectfully and then returns the gesture, dipping her own head until her chin touches the shelf she’s standing on. Then she tracks Kaji’s return before her attention switches to another table of used dishes. Those, like the last set, float off of the table and tidy themselves into the bin against the wall.
The server returns to ask Crying Eagle what he’d like, noting the daily specials that consist of roast brontosaurus, an unusual chilled vegetable soup, and flatbread.
<~ Kaji, hello, ~> a telepathic voice calls out across the room, clearly detectable to everyone. <~ How was Saren’s Rest? ~>
A cat paw appears at the edge of the table in front of Kaji, and with a slight grin, Kaji sets his bread down so he can tear some meat from the portion on his plate to offer to the cat in his lap, lest she decide to jump up onto things.
“Hey Miss Suss,” he replies as he looks around again to locate the little mouse’s position. It helps that Crying Eagle is looking at her, or at least, was. “Saren’s Rest was hot, but Ardul still put me through training routines,” he says, smiling crookedly. “Had some jobs to do too. Yesterday was kinda crazy, but it’s good to be back.”
He glances over towards Eagle’s table as he catches the server’s pitch to the man. “To be fair, can’t go wrong with anything Gran serves. Best food you’ll find in Vesper.”
Not even jumping at the voice in his head, Eagle replies to the server with, “The Bronotosaurus and some flatbread, please. And water, if it’s available.” He shifts a bit on the chair, not quite comfortable to be seated in such a fashion even if that is typical outside of tribal lands. His eyes look around the room again, giving the cat a glance that passes on, obviously not seeing anything special in the cat unlike the mouse.
As much as Miss Frizz would like to hop down and join Kaji at his table, the little cat with him makes her uncertain that doing so would be a good idea. So, she stays on her shelf. <~ You’re training with Ardul? What’s she teaching you? Stabby things with swords? ~> She stands up on her hind legs for a moment and rubs at her whiskers with her hands.
The server nods at Eagle’s request and bustles off, returning a few moments later with a sturdy tankard full of clean, cool water. “I’ll be right back with your order.” And then she’s checking on the few other patrons before disappearing into the kitchen.
“Yup! Well, maybe not so much stabby, but how to use a blade.” Of light. That Kaji hasn’t quite gotten over geeking out about on occasion, but really, how //can// he?
He feeds his kitten more meat and then tries to have some himself. “Mmmf. Missed this stuff. Rousseau’s isn’t bad but it’s just not Gran’s. Ah! Excuse me!” he calls after the server when he gets a chance. “Forgot to grab a drink, any juice today? If not, water’s fine. Um. Maybe a bowl of water for this one here,” he says, nodding downwards to indicate the cat. Maybe once she’s full he’ll try introducing her to Frizz. How else will he teach her not to chase his friends otherwise?
Crying Eagle thanks the server and takes a sip of the water, nodding in approval at it’s flavor. He sets the tankard back down and idly room watches while he awaits the arrival of his meal. Idly listening in on the conversation given there’s little chance not to eavesdrop on the telepathy, Eagle doesn’t quite follow it though he makes a note of Rousseau’s as a place for a meal, should he find himself in need of one wherever it is.
The server calls out a reply to Kaji, “Got a blend today, Kaji. Peach with blueberries and cantaloupe. Sound good?” She carries Eagle’s platter of meat with a pair of plate-sized flatbreads to his table. “Enjoy, and let me know if you’d like anything else.” The meat is rich and juicy, with an array of seasonings not commonly found in field-cooked foods that complement the brontosaurus roast. The flatbread is mostly soft, with small bits that are browned and crispy.
Suss moves to one corner of her shelf. <~ I tried that juice yesterday, Kaji. It’s really good. Especially with a couple of sunflower seeds. ~> She watches Eagle curiously, having noticed how unperturbed he’s been by her telepathic chitchat.
It’s easy for Kaji to forget that Suss’s mental broadcasting is on a public level. Maybe it’s that most people here are used to them mouse in general, or her mental speak blend with the audible talk that makes up the room’s ambiance.
“Sounds great!” he says as he gives the server a thumb’s up. Watching as the cat in his lap shifts about to sit so she can peer over the table edge, he chuckles and resumes chewing on the bread he’d started on earlier.
“Visiting the city or passing through?” he asks, and this time he’s looking towards Eagle again. It’s a generally safe question to ask given that many of Gran’s patrons are merchants or travelers of one sort or another.
Thanking the server again, he looks over the bronto and flatbread. Eagle starts to slice up the roast with a knife, piling it on the flatbread and eating it that way instead of using a fork. At the question in his direction, he looks up and answers Kaji, “Isn’t that basically the same thing?”
Miss Frizz skitters to the other corner of the shelf as it’s closer to where Eagle is sitting. <~ Not necessarily, sir. Some visitors choose to stay. Just passing through means you know you won’t be staying. ~> And then there are the ones like her, whom the fates have chosen to deposit here, for good or ill.
The server bustles through again, this time setting a cup of juice and a saucer of water on Kaji’s table for him.
Kaji grins a bit as Frizz offers clarification, nodding after he thanks the server for the drinks. He sets the saucer on the bench beside him, and it takes little coaxing for the cat to take to it.
“Pretty much what Miss Suss said,” he smiles, picking up his juice. “And passing through generally implies it’s you’ve got another destination in mind and this is just on the way there.” Taking a swallow of the fruity concoction, he beams. “Oh, this //is// pretty good.”
Looking up at the mouse, Crying Eagle replies, “I go where I’m guided to by the spirits, Miss Mouse. Surely you are aware of how the Circle of Life is delicate and can be broken easily.” He shrugs as he expands on his answer, “It is unlikely that I will remain here longer than the spirits require me to. The wilderness is much more suited to one such as me, than being surrounded by…technology.”
Suss ohhhs seemingly silently at Eagle’s reply. <~ Spirits? How do they tell you where to go? ~> She seems genuinely curious, as if it were a concept she’d never considered before. And she doesn’t seem perturbed by his mention of technology — compared to her home dimension, this place has wonders she could never have imagined on her own. Just the concept of a CHAIR…
“Technology?” Kaji chuckles. “That’s kind of a weird thing to hear around this place. Dogwood seems more the techy place than here, although I haven’t gotten a chance to really look around there to say for sure.” Of course, this is from someone who’s used to modern conveniences of what people of this world refer to as the Golden Age.
“What do you do exactly, mister? What kind of spirits do you mean?” He tilts his head curiously at the man, adding onto his mouse friend’s questions.
Crying Eagle works his way through his first bronto roast sandwich before answering. “Technology is what destroyed our Mother Earth, unbalanced everything and brought us to where the Earth still cries out in pain. Living in harmony is far easier on the spirits and the Earth, yet requires more work than technology does.” He looks up at Suss, “Can I offer you a hand down from up there so that I won’t have to crane my neck to look at you, Miss Mouse?”
Taking a drink of water he begins to answer, “The Spirits of the land watch over all of us, for they are part of the land. Whether it is the crafty and observant Mouse, well known for surviving, fertility and adapting, or the mighty Eagle, soaring over the lands and hunting those that deserve a quick death.”
Miss Frizz considers Eagle’s offer, looking from him to the small cat on Kaji’s lap and back, then replying with, <~ I can get down on my own, but thank you for the offer. ~> And then she essentially just throws herself off of the shelf and … falls to the floor far more slowly than is normal, landing as if she’d fallen only an inch or two instead of several feet. And, mindful of the kitten’s presence, she doesn’t waste any time with scurrying across to one of the chairs at the newcomer’s table and climbing up to perch on the chairback.
<~ I hope this is better. ~> She seems to take a moment to consider the man’s words spoken while she was relocating. <~ So, does that make you the eagle? ~>
“Hmmm. Well, guess I can’t argue with you there. Back home a lot of stuff’s gotten ruined from technology- although technology’s helped a lot too. But didn’t magic kinda mess up everything here in general with all the rifts?”
Kaji watches as Miss Suss takes a leap, and he’s not the only one whose attention is drawn once the mouse lands. The kitten lifts her head from her water bowl, watching the movement of the tiny body as Suss scurries to the other table. She wanders to the end of the bench, looking at the chair and the mouse atop it.
“Ah…” Kaji says as he pauses from draining his juice cup, nodding. Those kinds of spirits. It’s not entirely a foreign concept.
Not looking surprised that Miss Frizz is capable of such feats, he nods to her once she perches on the back of the chair. He then fixes the kitten with that golden eyed predatory look, making it quite clear to the poor young cat that she isn’t the top predator present and hopefully discouraging her from something stupid.
Chuckling, Crying Eagle isn’t even surprised by the guess, “Indeed, the Eagle is my spirit guide, Miss Mouse. It is true that Mouse is observant, as you have just proved.” He turns that golden gaze onto the kitten’s owner briefly, “Magic was all around before technology. It is a part of the land and yet technology displaced it, and most forgot how to use it safely.” He frowns as he takes a sip of water, “Even some of the People forgot, except for those Ancients that were shown a land away from those who forgot the Circle.”
Suss bobs her head in appreciation of Eagle’s explanation. <~ A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Eagle. I’m Suss Frizz-Bee. And… I’m not sure what you mean by technology if it’s not things like this chair and table and the lights outside that turn on at night and use something called ‘ley’. ~>
In her discussion with the newcomer, she’s actually gotten comfortable enough to forget about the kitten nearby.
The kitten perks, and then looks over at Eagle, crouching a little from the look she’s given. “What’re you doing…” Kaji says as he reaches over to scoop up the little thing before she gets any ideas. At least Cohen isn’t around. He probably wouldn’t be terribly cowed by a look, but then he wasn’t your ordinary housecat either.
“Even so, some people around here still don’t care for magic of any kind. Which… is kinda nuts considering how prevalent it is.” He’s speaking about places like the Coalition States that he’s only recently gotten more acquainted with, but even Dogwood he’d include, although he knows they use magic despite all their intolerance of it. There’s still a lot to this world he doesn’t quite get.
Crying Eagle finishes up his meal, “A pleasure to meet you, Miss Frizz-Bee. I am Crying Eagle.” He looks at the chair and table and other mentioned items that are visible within the room, “They are often made with tools that are far removed from what nature provides, or materials that aren’t natural. Furniture less likely than items that make light without fire. It isn’t just what they do, but how they are made to do it.” He flags down the server and pays for his meal before starting to rise, “I am afraid that I must depart for now. The sky is calling me.”
Miss Frizz’s ears twitch, as if she’s trying to listen for the sky as well. <~ Fare well, Mr. Crying Eagle. Do come back some time. Maybe Gran will have berries next time. ~> A single blueberry is a HUGE treat for her. She waves one little hand to the man before turning to look at Kaji.
“Crying Eagle, huh? Nice talking with you. If you need a place to stay, Gran’s is always open,” Kaji says, waving as the guy excuses himself. He looks over at Frizz, chuckling. “Blueberries sound good though. Sooo how would you like to meet Kiri? I’ll make sure she doesn’t think you’re a toy.”
On a rainy day in Vesper, three people meet in Gran's dining room: A returning regular, a fixture, and a newcomer. And there is fresh juice.
July 31, 2411