The door to Buy the Bye opens, letting a waft of air into the ‘showroom’ as well as two people. A tall(ish) asian look youth and a shorter redhead. “…. wish Sterling was here. He’s looked at this sword before. But he’s not aroun’ and I need it fixed.”
Those words are uttered by the redhead as the pair enter. Over her shoulder, the gem set pommel of a sword can be seen. “I think I’m goin’ to need it in the coming days…”
Leo’s probably heard the rumours. Vesper is massing an army. For what, it’s not clear. But the rumours are flying thick and fast.
Heard the rumors? Heard. Heard the rumors. It’s an army. He’s the premiere weapons manufacturer in the city. Heard? Shiiiiiit. He’s experienceing a financial boom the likes of which he hasn’t seen since the last time Dogwood’s panties got all twisty and they sent a few recon units out to burn a couple farms. A fact made evident by the massive oval showrooms somewhat lack luster supply. For the first time that Slaine’s known Leo… there are empty spots on his big fancy circular wall of death. A lot of them.
And speaking of the devil, Leo is in his usual place when it comes to regular business hours, behind the glass and wood and steel counter that sits in the center of the large oval room. Filling the empty space with soft snores.
A worn and clearly beloved bowler hat is sitting half on half off of a head of extremely mussed hair, a head which is currently set atop the glass counter top with it’s mouth wide open and a small puddle of drool forming from it’s corner. The soft wheezy high pitched snores of a small man slowly fade in and fade out in a regular time as the pair of customer’s enter the converted warehouse. One gloved hand is holding a quill over a ledger, the other is hanging limp from his shoulder, somewhere behind the counter, and a very slowly spreading pool of black ink is threatening to retone the slumbering merchant’s face. Or at least half of it.
It’s not a shop he’s been to before, but then that’s unsurprising. Kaji’s not exactly a local, after all. He looks around before glancing at Slaine, perhaps just a touch envious that she’s got a weapon at all. Then again, he’d never even known she’d used one. She’s always used magic whenever they got into a tight spot.
“I’d feel a lot better with a solid weapon too,” he murmurs, not blaming Slaine in the least for feeling the need for one. “We getting any pay from the Armsmen for the bear slaughter?” Because he knows he doesn’t have the cash for proper equipment.
…not that he’s sure what sort of equipment would suit him. Things are so much easier in MMORPGs. You just went by numbers. Here… Well.
Kaji glances at the displays, half distracted with what sorts of things the bare spots used to hold. His brow arches as his gaze travels towards the counter and falls upon the hatted person. Flicking a look back at Slaine, he thumbs at the snoozing form as though to ask: This the guy?
“Hmmmm….” Slaine’s green eyes fix on Kaji “… do ye have any weapons trainin’ at all? Leo might have something. Like a pistol or somethin’. Wouldn’ recommend a sword, ye could cut ye’re arm off.” The little Mystic does usually rely on magic, carrying a sword around is … problematic. But now? She might carry it more often.
It’s the snores and Kaji’s thumbing that have her turning in Leo’s direction, rolling her eyes and letting out a sigh of exasperation. “Yeah. Him. Leo. Techno Wizard.”
With a ‘hiss’ the blade is pulled from the scabbard on her back, the gems glinting in what lighting is in the store, as Slaine walks towards the counter. “Leo. Wake up. Ye got payin’ customers.”
A look back to Kaji. “The city will pay for the Bears and I can spot ye some funds in the meantime.” Nix’s business, that Slaine is part of, is paying dividends for Half Pint.
The limp hanging arm pops up as if it were on puppeteers strings and the gloved hand gesticulates at Slaine in a happy wave. This motion, likely in combination with the sound of a sword being drawn, and the word ‘paying’ echoing in the room, cause Leo’s body to jerk up a full second behind his arm, a snore turning into an undignified snorting sound. His hat falls over his eyes and his voice cracks twice as he pipes up, “WelcometoBuytheByefinestshopofdeathinthestate!” the words are only partially slurred. The waving hand drops down to push the hat from Leo’s eyes and give him a resounding thunk to the forehead, while the quill’d one absently stabs the quill in the general direction of where the ink pot was before it fell over, though the owner clearly is unaware of this development.
Leo blinks furiously and looks around, trying to put all of these crossed wires in his mind into some semblance of order. He looks at the ink, the quill, the thunking hand, the guests, then to the empty air directly to his right, “Well next time you should fucking say something, shouldn’t you?” he rubs at his forehead, with the hand that caused the offence, while the other tips the pot back up into place and deposits the pen home. Then he’s pulling out a towel from under the counter and wiping up the mess there, ink, drool, and all. “So.” he says, giving his head one extra vigorous shake, “What can I do ya for Slaine?” he asks, his eyes going instinctively to the sword. Kaji has yet to merit even a half sleepy glance.
Kaji seems to be considering Slaine’s question. “Nnnot formally? I mean, I know how to fire a gun and how to hold a sword. When I was little my mom put me in kendo class but I didn’t really stick with it.” Sometimes he regrets it, sometimes he doesn’t.
When the technowizard comes to life at the presence of customers, or rather the potential of making another sale, Kaji almost jumps. Is…this guy human? Or, what’s the better word? Organic? Just then he kind of reminded the teenager of some kind of animatronic figure.
He watches as Leo goes through the steps of sorting out what to do with himself and the sad waste of ink as though it’s all some sort of show. Next he half expects the man to start singing. Or get him a drink. Maybe it’s the hat. At the moment the sometimes necromancer doesn’t look terribly offended that he’s been ignored. It might be safer this way.
“A pistol or similar then…” Slaine murmurs as Kaji stutters. There’s probably a long story as to why she choose a sword. But then again, this is Slaine and … she does things differently. “We’ll ask Leo.” Who gets a smirk from the Mystic as he ‘reanimates’.
“I did say somethin’, Leo. I said ye had payin’ customers…” She might know he wasn’t talking to her but she’s teasing him. “This is Kaji. Kaji, this is Leo.” Did Kaji just think he’d be ignored?
“Couple of things, really. Got this sword on a job a few months ago but it feels off.” Leo can tell it’s a TW sword. The gems in the pommel will give that away. “Sterling tweaked it for me, realigned it, but I jus’ can’t get comfortable with it.” she sighs “I can swing it well enough but the magic… Can ye look at it?”
Then she gestures to Kaji “He’s lookin’ for a weapon. Somethin’ to keep him distant from a fight would be best, I think.”
Leo hrms as she talks, his gaze taking on a sudden sharp focus that it lacked moments ago as it zeros in on the sword, “Sure sure, nice to meet ya kid.” he says in Kaji’s general direction. Kid. Because Leo’s looks like he’s a whole whopping 20 ancient years old. “Wait.” something she said snaps him back to the here and now, “You took a sword to Sterling? First!?” he sounds honestly hurt by this. Or angry. Or maybe hungry? He’s a hard one to read. He looks to his right again and the empty air there, “I know, right!?” he turns to look back at Slaine, “What the hell Red??”
He hops up onto the counter and then down the other side, which brings his small stature from a matter of conjecture into one of solid fact. He’s barely taller then Slaine and the way the heavy leather apron and shirt hang on him, he must be made of sinew and bone alone. He snatches the sword from her hand and gives her a solid glare, “Sterling.” a set of multi lensed optics covered in glyphs and runs of their own drop down in front of his eyes, sliding from beneath his hat somewhere, effectively making his pupils bulge under several factors of magnification which gives his glare either a comical edge or a terrifying one, “Fucking Sterling. Fine. See if I care.” he says before very clearly caring all over the sword with the beginnings of a close inspection.
He talks as he works, his gloved fingers dancing over the blade as he leans in close to it, lenses on the optics swapping in and out seemingly at random. “Alright kid, lets start with the easy questions. What training you got? How comfortable are you with tech or magic? Can you read in the event you get an instruction manual? How far away you wanna be? What are you planning on fighting?”
Pistol wouldn’t have been his first choice, but Kaji won’t argue about keeping a distance. He also knows that it’d be better to invest in something so he won’t be going through his limited supply of paper so quickly. Well, wood’s still a thing, he supposes. That too needs some practice.
“Um. Hi!” he greets as Slaine introduces him, waving a hand as he smiles brightly, even though Leo doesn’t seem to pay him too much attention.
He shoves his hands into his jacket pockets, his attention drifting back to the sword now that it’s out to be seen. It does look like a nice blade. He’d prefer something thinner with a single edge. Wincing just a little as Leo goes off about Sterling, the youth smiles awkwardly as he wonders if all technowizards are so…eccentric. Yes. That’s a good word for it.
-oh, he’s being addressed again. Kaji clears his throat.
“Um. Mostly self-taught? I don’t think laser tag counts as training. And all two and a half years of kendo classes that I started when I was six- um, that’s a Japanese sword style,” he clarifies. Throwing your kid into some kind of martial arts class, seems the thing to do for parent’s generation. He just thought it’d be cool until he found out how much people had to yell.
“I’m….well, I guess I’m pretty comfortable with both tech and magic. Although tech might not be quite the same as I’m familiar with… And yes, yes I can read.” There’s just the briefest look toward Slaine, just out of the corner of his eye. “Ideally, distance enough that I wouldn’t be in immediate range of retaliation, and…as for fighting-” He pauses, considering. “Probably demons.”
“I was in Sterlin’s with it and he offered…” Slaine rolls her eyes at Leo’s huffing. “And ye know that Sterlin’ and I go back.” There’s enough rumours about the pair. Not that they are or even were a pair in that sense, but people often wonder. “An’ I’m here now…”
The weapon, when someone gets a good look at it, is functional. It’s not decorative or fancy in any way. It will take Leo a few minutes to look at it and get a feel for what it does.
“It seems more … off … in the last couple of weeks.” Kaji knows something changed with the Mystic around then, but she’s not spoken of it in any detail.
Maybe not a pistol for Kaji then. Slaine quiets as the youth speaks up. He can and Leo can work out what suits the budding necromancer best. Weapons. They aren’t really her forte. Give her the power of Earth, any day. The sideways glance though at being able to read actually has Half Pint poking out her tongue. “Don’ need to read for that. But if ye told me about poetry, I might have been more eager to learn…”
Poetry? Who’s been reading her poetry?
“I s’pose ye’re busy, Leo, what with the Council puttin’ together an army.” The way she says that. She knows something. Something the general populace doesn’t.
Leo nods his head as if listening to Kaji, though his attention is clearly all over the blade in his hands, “balanceisallwrong.” he mutters under his breath while the other fella talks, and whatever he’s seeing must be intriguing because he doesn’t even level a death gaze at Kaji when he’s informed what type of fighting kendo is. Leo sometimes forgets he’s not as famous as he seems to think he is.
“What about money?” he asks Kaji, still not looking up from the sword, “What sort of budget are we talking about here? Can you afford a nice new set of power armor and a mech, or are we more into the sharpened pointy stick range?” because those are in no way remotely similar and show a somewhat disturbing range of potential death dealing weaponry the little behatted man seems to think is ordinary to carry around.
But he is wearing a smart hat. So he’s totally trustworthy. Clearly.
“I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears…”
Leo recites suddenly as if her mention of poetry has simply pried something out of him, and though the recitation is exact, the tone is distracted. Suddenly he stiffens slightly, “AH-HA!” he says as a slow wicked grin stretches over his features, “Clever clever little pig sticker.”. The next thing he says isn’t made of words or sounds a human anatomy is capable of making, they sound like the snapping of branches and the hissing pop of coals, but they’re exact and have cadence to them, something chaotic. It’s quick, a sentence, maybe to, then he flicks the blade with a finger and it rings softly, the image of the weapon wavering and reforming. “Illusion.” he says happily, grinning up at Slaine through his optics. He now holds a single handed sword with a slightly curved blade, a simple hand guard of twisted steel covering his gloved fingers as he grips the hilt. He moves in a few quick practiced motions, wide fanning slashes that are oddly graceful, and then he stops, grinning. He flips it around in his arm and holds it out to her, “Sterling, eh?” he asks, waggling his brows.
“It’s an enchanted weapon, I think it once held a powerful elemental. There’s an… empty space in it, where a thing used to be. Echos of it still hold however, lingering power. Doesn’t matter though, it’s long departed. I could really pour over it but it would take a few days if you like.” he grins mischievously at her before continuing, “Balance was off in my hand, knew it wasn’t a proper straight blade.” and it’s not. It’s a cutlass of simple design but exceptional quality, “Should be safe enough to use, though I imagine the longer you do, the more attune to you it’ll become. Should be safe enough to explore it’s power, nothing waiting to swallow you whole or anything in there. Though I’d be careful if I were you, something weakened that illusion that was on it, makes me think you’ve been hanging out with a siphon or something.” he offers it back to her hilt first, the naked blade resting on his arm.
And now, for the first time, he lays his eyes on Kaji, “Whoa.” he says, looking the kid up and down, “You got all kinds weird coming off of you.” and then his optics slide back up into his hat and leave him blinking furiously, “Oh. Whew. Much better. Way more normal now.” he starts to pace around the other man, eyeing him up and down like a piece of meat as he circles, gloved fingers rubbing his bare soot stained chin thoughtfully. “I’m getting a thought. Keep talking.” he says, making a rolling motion with his hand Kaji’s way. Slaine’s talk of an army just makes him grin cheshire wide. It’s a good month for him. GOOD.
When you don’t see many Asians around and the rest of the world’s virtually been cut off, Kaji figures explanations are perfectly reasonable. He’s already gotten plenty of weird looks for other terms he’s thrown around, and everyone speaks English in general, which is just mind-boggling.
Slaine gets another, proper look then. “Poetry? Really? All I had to tell you was that you could read poetry? …not that it would’ve been the first example I could have thought of. Huh. I wonder if the Academy even has poetry books. Then again, if they have an atlas…” He smiles crookedly, still amused at that.
As Leo asks him about funds, Kaji looks at his feet, shuffling his sneakers. “Not…. Well, I definitely couldn’t afford a mech.” He reins his imagination in before he can start imagining Valks and Gundams. Although those would be pretty sweet mechs. “Let’s say pointy-stick range to be on the safe side.” He smiles, even if it starts to waver a bit. Wow. He’s going to end up with a ruler or something. Maybe he should stick to paper.
It’s a bit intriguing, watching Leo at work, even if the teenager has no idea what the guy is doing. Still, Leo seems to, and despite the bug-eyed gaze, he wields the newly adjusted blade most proficiently. Kaji smirks a little, wondering how badly things would explode if this guy and Iron Man were in the same room.
Oh, but now that he’s finished with Slaine’s weapon, Leo’s attention shifts towards Kaji, who pouts just the slightest bit at the reaction. Should he be offended? He keeps his mouth shut, not sure what to say about the ‘weird.’ Especially when you’ve got a big ‘weird’ looking at you. Once Leo fixes that problem, and looks much less bug-eyed but no less creepy, the young necromancer turns his head as he’s circled, stopping himself from turning to keep the guy in his field of vision.
“Uh…talk? What about?” he asks, fumbling mentally for subjects. Maybe he should stop trying to follow Leo too before he gets himself dizzy.
Slaine watches Leo with her weapon, eyes widening as the Techo Wizard recites his own poetry. She’d ask what the poem was called but he distracts her with his casting. “Leo, what are ye doin’?” The words fade as the blade transforms and he holds it out to her.
“I … didn’ think to check it for illusion… ” She grimaces as he mentions that something might have weakened that spell though, trying to look … non-committal about it. Taking the blade, swinging it in a practiced motion, the Mystic nods. “Now, that’s much better.”
Not just because it’s a weapon better suited to her size.
That it had an elemental doesn’t surprise her. “And yes, Sterlin’…” she gives the hatwearing TW a flat look. “Do ye think ye can bind somethin’ in the space?” If it’s an enchanted weapon, it should … be enchanted, right?
When Leo looks at Kaji, Slaine sighs. “Be nice, Leo. He’s a friend.” That might be a bit futile, but she’ll try. “Yeah, poetry and I didn’ know. Auren was readin’ Kubla Khan to me the other night when I went to recharge on the Leyline. It was … pretty.” Who’d have thought that the rough and tumble Slaine would think like that?
“He’ll need somethin’ to help us against the Soulless, Leo.” Slaine can’t remember, is Leo aware of that problem? It’s why the Council is forming their army, after all.
Leo snorts at Kaji, “About your training, your hobbies, what you’re interested in, any other sort of activities you’ve done. Are you a dancer by any chance?” he asks suddenly, as if that made some sort of difference, “Because I’m having a thought here, but I’m not sure how committed you are to doing what would need to be done to make it all work out long term.” he stops right in front of Kaji. Like. RIGHT in front. And leans in, peeeeeeering directly into the other man’s eyes (this involves Leo going up on his toes quite a bit) until it’s unclear if this is a staring thing or a kissing thing. And then he’s back away, out of Kaji’s personal space once more, “Getting weird vibes off of you. Messing with my general sense of these sorts of things. Hrm. That’s okay, I can work with weird. I like weird. Weird is interesting.” which means at some level Leo finds Kaji interesting. Which … you know should be absolutely terrifying for Kaji.
Slaine’s words have him turning to give her a dead pan look, “Could I bind a weapon with something.” he says in a tone so flat and heavy it could be used to hammer out heated steel on. He turns to look to his right, where still no one stands, and asks, “I don’t know, what do you think?” he pauses, listening, “Yeah, agreed.” he looks back at Slaine, “You’re being stupid. Of course I could!” he throws his arms up in the air in exasperation. “But honestly, you don’t need it I don’t think.” he eyes the sword, “Whatever was in there was pretty big. Not sure what exactly, mind you, but there’s a bit of it left. An echo. It has power, or powers, already there. You just have to tap them. I put anything else inside however, it’ll wipe the slate clean. Think of it like a house, and even after the occupant has moved on, it’s left all it’s books and furniture and what not around. Now you’re using the house for a vacation home. Feels weird, but in time you’ll grow used to things, the way the chair sits, the light in the room, the books on the walls. It’ll be familiar. You want me to put something else in there, even if it was teh same sort of thing, it would be different, and the next time you visited nothing would be wear it was.” he ponders his own analogy then nods, “Yeah, that’s more or less right. Use it, if you like it, keep it. If you want it reWorked, I can do that, but it’s expensive, somewhat dangerous, and in the end you’ll have to start getting to know the blade all over again. So keep it in mind.”
Then he’s turning back to eye Kaji again, “Okay. You.” he slaps his hands together and rubs them vigorously. “I have two suggestions for you. One is easy enough, will do the job, doesn’t require anything from you but very very basic training, it’s basically the easy way out. The other is slightly more dangerous to you personally, and those around you, but if trained in diligently can become a far better long term companion then the first option. But it’s the hard way.” he flicks the brim of his bowler with a fingertip, “So what kinda man are you? Easy way, or hard way?”
“Kubla Khan, huh… I think I read it, or some parts of it. Probably back in school.” Kaji can’t say for sure off the top of his head. Poetry hadn’t exactly been one of his favorite things to read. A troubled look flickers over his face as Slaine suggests something that would help against Soulless, but the mystic knows his stance on having to fight against the victims of the Soul Harvesters.
Sighing, and then giving Leo a strange look because what, a dancer? “Not unless you count DDR,” he mutters. “My training…was kind of on-going. I was intern at a paranormal investigations office. My boss is a dark elf who uses shadow magic and stuff, but since he’s familiar with magic in general, he was helping me work with my magic. Which involves paper. The kind made from trees.” Another thing he still feels weird about having to clarify. Absently he slips out a small square of green paper from one of his pockets, releasing it to float in the air so it folds itself into a frog. The origami frog hops up onto the brim of Leo’s bowler hat as the technowizard stops in front of him.
“If I said I liked playing video and computer games I doubt that’d make much sense to anyone here,” Kaji continues, eyeing Leo. What. Gives. He leans back as the man leans towards him. Then he finally takes a step back, but it’s not long after that Leo’s already backed off as well. As the bowler hatted wonder goes back to his murmurings, Kaji steals a look back at Slaine. What is with this guy???
While he still has no idea who the technowizard’s talking to, or even if there really is anyone there, the youth can follow the explanation that he gives Slaine. It makes sense to him, anyway, and has Kaji nodding- right before he freezes once Leo finishes and looks back at him. At first he looks confused as he soaks in this sudden proposition, unable to keep from frowning as he turns the words over in his head.
“…dangerous ‘how’? If I’m going to get something I can use, then I’d want it to last. If it grows with me, then that’s better. I’ve still got lots to learn, anyway. But my main concern is endangering others.” Part of him wonders if he might already be a danger to others.
Slaine smirks a bit a Leo. Maybe she was teasing him, maybe she’d been serious. Either way, he gets a smirk. “Alrigh’ then. I’ll use it for a bit. See what comes from it…” She might do some investigation before that though. It wouldn’t do if the sword was going to cause problems in the field.
“Not against the Soulless directly, Kaji…” Slaine sighs. She knows how the youth feels but sometimes these things can’t be avoided. “But against the Cold and the Darkness.” That’s not necessarily a ‘name’ that Leo would have heard, but if it sounds bad. It is. “Or at least its Harvesters. They will try to take ye’re soul, least to look at them.”
Kaji’s mention of DDR, video and computer games just gets the blankest of looks from the Mystic. Time and Rifts hasn’t been kind to so many things. But then, Kaji is getting to used to Slaine’s unfamiliarity with things from time past. She shrugs at the look though. It’s just Leo.
Leo pauses to eye the frog on the edge of his hat and grins, reaching up to prod it with a fingertip, “Can I keep this?” he asks, pulling the hat down and turning it around to eye the frog, “Fantastic.” he murmurs, turning the hat, and therefore the frog, this way and that. His hair by the way, is an explosion that sticks in every single direction at once defying all laws of physics and decency and 3 dimensional math. The last 4 digits of pi are somewhere in his hair, one can just feel that to be true. No wonder he has the hat. He crams the hat back down on his head, careful not to dislodge hsi new green friend, and eyes Kaji once more, “Paper magic. Making things.” his interest has been ignited, it’s clear to see if one knows Leo well enough to spot it. Which means Slaine is now well aware she’s just damned Kaji to at least a few more Leo Visits, most likely when Kaji least desires them. The countdown clock has started on how long it is until Leo asks to dissect Kaji and see how he works. Usually that takes a couple weeks.
“Hey, I’m the expert, I ask the questions and you haven’t answered them yet. Don’t think about it, just answer.” he reaches out and pokes Kaji in the chest with a gloved fingertip, which oddly enough kinda hurts. It was like being jabbed with a wooden stick or something, “Answer from here.” poke. “When you do a thing, when you commit, are you easy way, or are you hard way? You pick the path of least resistance, or the path of most effectiveness? Given the choice, do you chose to work on your education, or a video game?” he apparently knows exactly what they are. Or perhaps has inferred their intent? It’s unclear. “What drives you more, being comfortable, or being better?”
He can’t help it, this whole matter about soul harvesters and necromancy and Old Ones has just really put him through the wringer mentally and emotionally. He hasn’t even finished college and he’s being sent to battle necromancers and demons. Then again, he’s probably the only person that’d think that way. Everyone else just seems content to figure it’s just another Spring.
“Sure,” Kaji says even though Leo’s as good as claimed the frog. It won’t keep moving for long, but it’d stay folded, at least. And once he pries his eyes away from the bird’s nest that is the technowizard’s hair, he might even agree that the green addition to Leo’s hat isn’t all that bad either.
The feeling Kaji gets under Leo’s scrutiny is not too unlike when he’s being eyed by Professor Ingerhast, to some degree. It’s both similarity and dissimilarities that disturb the teenager, but his thoughts are dispersed with that poke at his chest. Ow. Frowning hard at Leo as he rubs where he’d been jabbed, Kaji sighs, but he nods as the questions are dumped on him again.
“Hard way,” he says, mostly because he doesn’t believe that anything’s really easy. “I go for most effective.” Between the examples, as much as he loves games, he’d choose education. That’d been grilled into him too. Whether Leo really is aware of what a video game is or not is something he doesn’t ask right then. “Being better,” he confirms, meeting Leo’s eye, and for a split second it’s like he’s someone else.
“Leo. Be nice.” Slaine sighs as the two men talk. She knows it’s probably a useless request, but she’ll try. His hair, Slaine’s seen it before – when the hat got shot off as they found the hatch – but it doesn’t stop her smirking just a bit more.
Kaji’s thinking is correct to. Whilst people on Rifts Earth are concerned about Old Ones, Demons and Necromancers, to them it really is just another day. Slaine basically cut her teeth living with such danger and has used magic from just about the time she was born. Even Grans tutelage of granddaughter Mystic was more of a swift kick in the pants and telling her to work it out.
Then again. Mystics. Attuned with the Universe. ‘Teaching’ them just isn’t possible.
“Ye want to be ready to face a Harvester, don’ ye?” The small redhead murmurs quietly, nodding as the youth says he prefers to do things the hard way.
“What’cha thinkin’, Leo?”
Leo tilts his head to the side, his eyes narrowing slightly as he listens to Kaji, listens carefully even. They say a lot of things about madmen, that one should avoid them, that they’re dangerous, that they like frogs on their hats, but they also say they have insight. For a moment, something about the expression, the purity with which Leo seems to make Kaji’s words the center of his universe, it’s easy to see why some might think they have a certain clarity.
Then again, he’s happily wearing a frog on his hat. So… there’s that.
“Good. Sharpened stick it is.” he says, turning on the ball of his foot and walking away from Kaji without anymore said. He heads across the show room to the left hand side, where the older school of weapons are located, the right side being where all the firearms and what not’s are kept. “The oldest weapon in humany history dates back to the first time man put meat in his mouth that wasn’t rancid from some other animal’s kill. It wasn’t a trap, wasn’t a sword, wasn’t even a club. The oldest weapon in history is a sharpened stick.” he stops then before a wall of spears and begins going down it’s length, considering each in turn, “The earliest spears were just that, and because of this were hardly worth the name, but in effect the long sharp stick has been used since that moment up until now in perpetuity. Other weapons systems have come and gone, fallen in favor and risen, but the spear remains. That is for a series of very simple reasons. First, it’s simple in design and once a warrior learns to use one well, he’s almost impossible to disarm because even if he looses his own spear, he only needs a stick to once more become lethal. Swords, axes, every other melee weapon in existence has a specific place, but a spear? It’s elegant in it’s simplicity. Secondly, it grants you distance from your foe. Depending on the weapon,” he turns to size Kaji up with another glance and then shakes his head, moving on from a rack of smaller spears with thin shafts, “it can keep a foe at a distance of three long strides. It grants you room, space, options.” he pulls one spear down and hefts it in his hands, spinning it once through the air and striking a pose with it running along his arm before shaking his head and putting it back. Kaji may recognize it’s slightly curved heavier blade as being naginata inspired. “Thirdly, it’s the all purpose weapon. It can be a tent post, a spit over a fire, a weapon of course, a mark of status, used in a simple animal snare or a human spring trap. It can fit nearly any use when used by a creative mind willing to think outside the box. Plus,” he grins, “you can always just throw it and poke a guy from really far.” wink, “But I recommend against that tactic as a general rule.” he stops finally at a row of particularly odd designed spears, “I’m not sure this is the sort of distance you were thinking of,” he admits, “had you chosen the easy way I’d have recommended a shotgun, a couple boxes of shells, and told you to have fun. But shotguns run out of ammo, they can jam, if they break you can’t make another, and I don’t recommend them as versatile tools. They are simple, effective, weapons. But only weapons.” he waves Kaji over to the wall, “There are a number of spear types, they vary wildly, but each is used in a similar fashion. Master one, it will take little practice to master the others. For your purposes, to start, I suggest something like this.” he reaches out and picks up a long spear, almost seven feet, with a triangular blade over a foot long at it’s tip, one with an odd cross piece the width of a hand a full half foot back from the inward flare of the blade’s base. “It’s a version of a boar spear made popular by Viking cultures of-” he pauses, shrugs, “I dunno. A long fucking time ago.”
Leo steps away from Kaji and holds the spear in both hands, a low grip that sets the tip up high, making it look as if getting near Leo will require skewering yourself. He moves in short steps, almost stomps, each one changes his grip and sends the spear into a rapid series of jabs and thrusts low and high like a sewing machine gone murderous. Then he stops, “The cross guard stops anything you hit from sliding up the shaft to get at you, sometimes one stab isn’t enough to stop a demon, they get all… climby. This makes that harder, easier for you to withdraw, get more strikes in. Once you get better,” he changes his stance and the spear begins wider more curving arcs, cuts, followed by truly ridiculous sweeping blows that make it seem like Leo is trying to fight a small army by himself, the blade sweeping about in scything whistling strikes that could mow down friend and foe alike were he not decent with the weapon. He stops and grins, breathing a little heavy, “I’m not very good in a real fight with these, but I learned all the moves to give my clients ideas. If you get a master, a real master, and you put in the work.” he holds the weapon out to Kaji, “This can make you a terror. When you can afford it, I can even make you one special. Made shorter if you like, pair it with a shield, or longer, or put fire in it.” his eyes flash and he grins toothily, “I like fire.”
Of course he does.
“What do you think?” he asks, waiting for Kaji to take the weapon, “You can always pick the shotgun if you like. Won’t hurt my feelings in the least.” Leo’s a merchant at heart, but he knows his weapons. He tries pick the right ones when he can.
Knocking on the sky, seeing if anyone’s listening. Kaji’s image of mystics just goes right to Kevin Flynn whenever thinking about how Slaine gets answers to things from the universe. ….that or hippies.
The mystic’s question doesn’t even need to be asked, but it serves its purpose. There are no easy ways about this, Kaji had realized that the moment he’d found himself in a town that wasn’t on the other side of a computer screen. Even fallen heroes who operated highly technical armor suits hardly compared to the things he’d been exposed to here. If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s that if you knew you were up against something, you wanted to be well prepared.
Leo’s response seems to take forever to be delivered, and once it’s given, it completely throws Kaji off guard. Completely gone is that previous look of determination, swept away in a confused blink as the young technowizard shifts gears. Left staring after him, Kaji watches as Leo makes his way to the racks of spears.
The last thing he’d expected was a history lesson, but Kaji’s hardly the type to scoff at information, even if it does take a slight tangent. He just continues to listen and look on as though entranced. All things considered, it does sound like an ideal weapon. It’s a lot longer than anything he’s tried to wield before, although he remembers the time he’d accidentally knocked a broom upside his head when he’d tried to use it as a bo staff.
At Leo’s beckoning, Kaji wanders closer, eyes skimming over the various spears there. While he’s no weapons expert, he at least has a vague idea as to the parts and their function would be. Still, looking at them like this is a lot different from seeing pictures.
He takes a step back, watching as Leo does likewise before going into the motions, the movements reminiscent of what he’s seen at martial arts exhibitions. As the technowizard switches it up, Kaji nods, already considering how the different approaches might be suited in a fight. He can also see how dangerous it could be if he didn’t know what to do with one of those.
Once Leo’s finished with his demonstration, Kaji just barely keeps from applauding, almost forgetting where he is. He looks at the spear that’s held out to him, hesitant as he studies it from end to end. Finally he reaches out to take it with both hands, still finding himself surprised at its weight. Not too heavy, but not light. Solid.
“…I think….” he says as he gives it a slow spin upright, mindful of his surroundings, people and furniture alike. He measures out his stance, trying to get a good feel. Then he grins. “…I’d like to give this a try.”
Leo watches Kaji, and nods his head, “Of course you do.” he says in a tone of voice that says there is nothing he’s ever been more certain of in the world. He claps Kaji once on the shoulder as he strolls past the taller man, “I know a lot of shit about a lot of shit but there ain’t no one knows more about the things that kill other things then me.” he hops up on the oval countertop/island in teh center of the big oval room and swings his legs over to the other side, looking for all the world like a semi insane child in a hat with a frog on it playing on a jungle gym. He pauses there, feet swinging lightly, “You want to pair that with a spearshield?” he asks, having a thought, “Not sure if that’s to much to start with, but I should at least make the offer.”
If Slaine had any idea who Kevin Flynn, she might almost agree with Kaji. Almost. Hippies might be closer to it, except the redheaded Mystic doesn’t go around dressed in flowing robes and she’s really quite prepared to kill when it’s warranted.
Moving through a set, slow and steady, with her own sword, Slaine watches and listens to the pair. She’s got skill and talent and for the look of it, is no stranger to using the blade. It make Kaji wonder just who she trained with and when she still practices – he’s not seen her do it, in all the time he’s been here.
Still, the Mystic knows that Leo won’t set Kaji wrong. The teen will just need training and that might have been sorted out the other evening, even if he wasn’t expecting it.
“Well, now that you’ve been recruited into the army, Kaji, you’ll find someone who can train ye better. Captain Sanka’a might have a recommendation for ye. I’m sure she doesn’ want to see ye skewered.”
So … reassuring, Slaine.
Kaji hefts the spear again in testing with one hand. Yeah, it’ll be a bad idea to smack yourself with this thing. He looks back at Leo as the man hops up onto the counter. Well, maybe one did have to be a little mad to do such business.
“Um, think I’ll just stick with this,” the teenager says. Get good enough and a spear is as good a shield in itself. …not that Kaji thinks he’ll be getting to that level any time soon, but better he learn how to focus on one thing than worry about two. His attention drifts to Slaine, just a bit surprised and a touch jealous that she looks like she knows what she’s doing with that blade.
“Yeah, that’s true. Shouldn’t be too hard to find someone… Wait, what?” He blinks. No one told him he’s an army recruit! He thought he was just helping!
Leo hops down into the inside ring of the counter and grins at Kaji, “Heh. Got suckered in didn’tcha kid?” because Leo is clearly sooooo much older then Kaji. Pfft. He shoots Slaine a look as he starts punching in some numbers into the ancient old fashioned cash register with a fingertip, each depression of a mechanical key makes a bell inside the machine chime ever so softly, “I know you didn’t come here for just the cutlass.” he says looking back to the register. “You thought Sterling-shmerling hooked you up there. You came to make a pitch. So.” the register ends with a louder ka-ching! sound and Leo makes a ‘pay me’ hand motion in Kaji’s general direction, “Pitch.” he adds for Slaine.
“Ye were asked to help, what did ye think that meant? Maybe not fully recruited, but I think ye’ll find they’ll be needin’ ye.” The redhead murmurs to Kaji as she finishes her set. “Why do ye think I said I didn’ want it? The position that Vargr said should be mine cause I’m a citizen an’ all?” Not that she thinks she can get out of it. But she’s made her protest and that will do.
“Huh?” She says to Leo, glancing at Kaji to see if he has the cash to pay the Techno Wizard. Cash being the small coins, gold; silver and copper; that Vesper uses for currency. If not cash, most merchants accepts gems. “I came for the sword. Sterlin’ wasn’ around and I feel I’m goin’ to need it. We’ve an Old One’s Harvesters and an army of soulless to fight, after all. Ye’re help would be welcomed though. The army needs people to train them, after what we saw the other day and when we move on Richmond, those with experience will be needed.”
Nope. Nope. She’s not looking sideways at Kaji at that.
Frowning slightly, the little mystic looks over her right shoulder “I didn’ say that….” she says, quite clearly if quietly.
Frowning, Kaji shuffles his feet as he really has no argument to that. Technically he’s a recruit just for assisting, huh? Ughhhhh… He did not ask for…well, he can say he didn’t ask for a lot of things but it won’t make much of a difference. “It is true though, the army needs all the help it can get.”
Leaning on the spear, he blinks then. “Huh? O-oh…” he mumbles as he awkwardly notes the universal gesture for payment. Patting at his pockets, he sets the spear aside so he can plunk down the cash he has on him. Like he told Slaine, he doesn’t have much, although he hopes that might change soon. Maybe. Casting a sheepish look at Leo, he glances at Slaine. “-I didn’t know I’d be out weapon shopping today..!”
Leo makes a face at Slaine, “Train people?!” he says incredulously, “I’m betting you don’t want me to light any of them on fire or let them blow themselves up or anything.” he sounds petulant. A glance to his right, where still no one stands, and he nods emphatically, the frog on his hat clinging on for dear life, “Exactly.” he points to the thin air and eyes Slaine, “See? He gets it.”
Leo sighs and makes a face at her, “Train people.” re says again, “Go out of my way to make more competition for himself. As if that was a thing I was gonna do. Mercantile suicide. That’s what that is.” he frowns at her as if he were a disappointed parental figure. And then she’s talking to no one and he’s beaming. Like… GIANT SMILE LEO!! “You hear him too!?” he’s now vibrating in place with pent up… something.
He almost doesn’t bother snagging up the money. Almost. But he’s Leo and money is money and after a glance at the scattering of coins his jittery energy is fading and a single eyebrow is climbing his forehead as he eyes Kaji, and then the collection of coins, then the spear, then Kaji again. “For this we’re looking at a dishearteningly lesser weapon. How do you feel about sharpened crochet hooks? Ooo! I have a wonderful selection of ice picks?” Leo has a few good qualities, he’s decent in a tight spot, he’s a man of his word, he’s an undeniable prodigy, but he is not charitable. Much to the chagrin of many a desperate sort needing a weapon on ‘credit’. “Lucky for you, I also deal in more ethereal forms of payment.” he adds with a grin that is entirely to innocent, “Let’s talk U.O.Me’s.” Desperate people that end up owing favors. Sorry, wrong word, that should be Favors. Capital ‘F’.
“Train people to use the weapons, Leo.” Slaine says firmly, shaking her head. “Hear him? No….” there’s another frown and she shakes her head at Leo as she looks behind her “Didn’ a woman come through the door just now?” The frown deepens and the little Mystic looks worried but she looks back to Leo “Who is it ye are hearin’, Leo?”
Thankfully Kaji distracts them with his of fundage. “I can spot ye, Kaji. I’ve excess funds now that Nix’s business is takin’ off. Ye can pay me back when the Justicars come through.” Of course, Leo’s offering favours and the redhead subsides. “Leo, be nice. Kaji’s my friend.”
Even Kaji’s looking at Slaine a bit oddly then. True, Leo seems the sort that triggers with the slightest encouragement but there’d been something in the conversation a moment ago that didn’t seem to match up with much of anything. Glancing between the two, the necromancer finds himself once again in Leo’s focus as clearly Mister Bowler Hat isn’t impressed with his chump change.
He really doesn’t like that grin, even less so the way the technowizard frames his idea of payment. After all, Kaji’s already had people asking for payment in form of essence, and that idea doesn’t really fly with him. Favors, well, maybe he can swing with that, but he’s not sure what to anticipate in regards to favors from someone so…eccentric.
“I…” Saved by the redhead! Well, she’d mentioned she could spot him. Kaji just hadn’t thought it would be so soon. Then again, there was Leo, pushing for a sale. He smiles at Slaine, both relieved and apologetic as he nods. “That…yeah. I’ll definitely pay you back once I get paid by them.”
Leo literally shifty-eyes when Slaine asks who he’s talking about, and his ‘innocent’ smile couldn’t be more fake it if had been a sticker pulled from a children’s book and adhered to his face. Luckily he doesn’t have to answer any of that as the focus falls on Kaji and here at least Leo is on safer ground, “Pfft. I’m your friend. This guy’s so new he still smells like Not Here.” he inhales deeply as if he could, in fact, sniffs ‘new guy smell’ wafting from Kaji. “He’s… an acquaintance.”
He tilts his head to eye Kaji as if making a judgement call, then tosses his arms up in a shrug, “Or maybe you’re just trying to get into his pants. I’ve stopped trying to figure out when people are or aren’t motivated by fucking. Whole thing gives me the heebee-jeebee’s.” Then he’s holding his hand out to Slaine. She wants to cover the guys debts, that’s fine by Leo. Paid is paid after all. “I almost had a minion,” he says to Slaine, “You just cost me a minion. I mean, I got paid so it’s not a total loss, but a minion would have been nice to have. Never had a minion before. Or a henchman. Or a stooge.” he sighs regretfully while the register devours the coins and he’s handing a far smaller sum back to Slaine in the form of change. “There ya go almost-minion, one razor sharp well balanced pointy stick of death. All the better to skewer demons and what have you with.” he presses a hand to his chest, “Something heart warming seeing a boy with his first murderstick. Like a perfect sunset.” this time his sigh is almost longing and there’s a slight quiver in his bottom lip.
“Well, I don’ know who I heard.” Slaine says as she frowns at Leo, digging coins out of a pocket in her cloak. “Ye’re my friend and so is he, no matter what ye think he smells of. And he’s more than an acquaintance …” She glances at Kaji with a smile. “He’s been good to me.”
And doesn’t look at her as if she might be a blight due to what happened some twelve months or so ago.
Taking her change from Leo, she looks between the two men. “So, Leo. Are ye goin’ to help us, or not?”. Kaji gets a tilt of her head “I think, now ye have that, our next stop is to find someone to train ye. We can train together, but I’m no’ the best teacher for this.”
If that spear were big enough to hide behind, or if he knew how to duck into shadows like his boss, it would have been very handy right then. As it is, Kaji hasn’t reached for the spear again, not wanting to seem overeager about it, and especially not with vulture-eyes over there. He steps back, just a little thankful that Leo’s behind the counter, not that it’s much of a barrier. The man’s off-handed comment nearly goes over his head, but he’s saved a blush as Leo prattles on about minions. “Pass.” Yeah. Totally not a minion. Suddenly he doesn’t feel so bad for not mentioning that the paper frog won’t keep moving forever. Or did he? This discussion’s taken so many loops and twists that he’s lost track.
“Thanks, Slaine,” Kaji says, smiling shyly. So far as he’s concerned, the mystic’s already done more than enough for him ever since he’d met her. He wouldn’t know how to price that, but he does mean to pay her back for a weapon, at the very least. It wouldn’t quite feel like his unless he did so.
With that settled, Kaji finally reaches over to retrieve the spear again. It is a nice piece of work, despite how Leo puts it. The hatted wonder gets a wry look, and Slaine a nod. Finding someone suitable to teach him how to use this thing sooner than later sounds like a good plan.
Leo sighs heavily, “I can’t train the minion how to use the spear. I only know a few basic forms, salesmanship, part of the pitch and not really my thing.” which Slaine knows all to well. Leo’s thing is chaos and destruction on a scale best described as ‘indiscriminate’. Though there was that one time it was called ‘biblical’. Whatever that meant. “I make the things that kill stuff Red, I don’t often have to use them.” which isn’t entirely true, though he has a point. When Leo uses a weapon, it’s almost never used in the manner which the weapon was designed. He leans back in his little countertop island however and eyes her for a long moment before tossing his hands up, “Fine. Tell you what. You need a position held or a large swath of ground cleared of whatever you’re fighting, you give me a call and I will bring the noise. How’s that? I will,” he air quotes here, “‘assist’ you by helping in that way. But-” he points at her, “only because I like you and I like killing things.” his eyes narrow, “Don’t let it get around I’m going soft.”
The shy smile gets a cocked eyebrow from the redhead who stands on her toes to ruffle Kaji’s hair. “Ye’re my friend and I know ye’re good for it.” Is all she says before turning back to the hatted man.
Slaine snorts at his offer and smirks just a bit “Soft, Leo? Who would ever think that?” Sliding the cutlass back into the scabbard on her back (which amazingly still fits it) “It’s a good thing ye like me, Leo. I’d hate to see what ye do to those ye don’t. It’s a good offer and one that I’m thankful for.”
Giving Kaji a wink, she saunters over to the Techno Wizard and places a quick peck of kiss on his cheek. “Never soft, Leo.” she teases before turning back to the teen and nodding to the door “Let’s go see if we can find someone to teach ye to use that… I migh’ jus’ know someone.”
Not a minion! Kaji doesn’t say it, but it’s on his face. Still, part of him is glad that Leo’s not volunteering, not that they’d asked him. It does make Kaji wonder just how the man would do in a fight, but he knows that just because someone can hold and move with a weapon correctly, it’s actual battle that tests that skill. That’s some experience the teenager has, at least, which makes this a bit backwards for him, he supposes.
Watching Slaine, he tilts his head as she closes in on Leo with kiss and parting words. He smothers a grin, nodding as he picks up his new instrument of death to follow her, a two-fingered salute tossed back towards the technowizard. “Thanks!”
And then he’s filing after the mystic. Surprised that she might know someone? Nah, not really.
Leo looks genuinely confused and reaches up to rub at his cheek, his expression suspicious as Slaine backs off and heads for the door, “Yeah yeah. Get out of my shop before I remember this all started with you interrupting my nap.” he says, rubbing at the cheek again and checking his gloved fingertips as if expecting to see them covered in something dangerous. Eye narrow. “Enjoy the murderstick!” he calls after Kaji half heartedly. Something has unnerved the little techno-wizard. “I know right?” he says to no one as the door closes behind Kaji, “I agree. Suspicious and thoroughly unsettling. I think we need to go make something explodey.” pause. Silence. “Okay, fine, you can add a little something, but last time you did that it almost blew me up, so don’t get carried away. There’s enough ordinance in here t-” the door closing firmly silences any chance of hearing even a snippet of the rest of that ‘conversation’.
Welcome to Vesper, where the Merchants of Death are insane and spend at least two hours of a random Tuesday trying to feed a dead fly to a lifeless paper origami frog that ‘lives’ on the brim of their hat. Least it’s not boring.