A Penny for a Kiss | Location:
The Betting Hall
Penny would've headed to the wall, and places like that would be natural for her yasoi partner to frequent, but there were already people headed there. Conversely, she had less than zero interest in the sewers, no matter what might be found there, and Ashon didn't strike her as an aficionado of claustrophobic spaces. It was between the Betting Hall and the Grønhalle, then, and the latter was squirming with Eskandr in all of their sweaty, beer-soaked, piss-smelling glory. She'd have rather bathed with a shark. Gambling was connected with Reshta, for what it was worth, and her pointy eared - Is he a friend? Was that a date that we went on? - seemed to be into that, at least. "Hey Jammy boy,"
she chirped, "wanna check out the Betting Hall?"
Jamboi scratched his head. He is not into the greed and material wealth that flowed through such places, and the concept of debt is rather foreign to him, but he sees that she is interested. Besides, he does love playing games, perhaps they could get a few bennies to rub together and have some fun at the same time. "I heard that if you win, they reward you with a chicken dinner."
, he gives her a large smile, "Cannot say no to some free food."
He gives her a wink, as if he had already decided they were going to win already. "Let's see the journey that Vyshta and Reshta takes us both, Pen Pen"
The betting hall was CROWDED. The Streets were crowded too, and asphyxiating. Perhaps not the best space for a Yasoi, but as they got closer to the hall, the herd of people seemed to thin into three distinct rows to get their turn with one of three bookkeepers. As they arrive, they notice that outside, on the curb, was sitting a man with a cheap cigarette, weeping and clearly down on his luck. Everyone seems to be ignoring him too.
Penny may be playing the part of an unremarkable merchant girl, but she still feels that she should uphold the standards of behaviour expected of those of royal blood. She twists to look at Ashon, who appears a good deal less thrilled with this place than she'd hoped, though he's being a gentleman about it... in his own way."I'll buy you a whole turkey, Jammy. It's a fitting bird for you,"
she teases. "But I'd like to check in on that guy over there first."
The mirth falls from her face as she gestures subtly in the direction of the crying man. "Loneliness is a crappy feeling."
She rises onto her tiptoes for a second. "Please?"
Jamboi simply tilted his head towards her as he plastered that damned smile upon his face. He was hoping he was keeping up appearances but this was honestly a very much a first for him. Penny definitely seemed excited by the place and what caught his interest the most was the compassion she is sharing for the gentleman who is crying. He hasn't seen this side of her before and this revelation certainly did catch his interest, "You know what they say, more the merrier... and perhaps some of our luck rubs off on him, he looks like he could do with a chicken dinner right about now."
Penny creeps up to the crying man. "Not having your best day, hmm?"
He's not far from the small, scuffed-up statue of Reshta on the establishment's outer wall: a superstitious staple at every gambling house. He looks utterly beside himself. She crouches in front of him, trying to keep a supportive look on her face.
It was as if he had zoned out everything around him, as he ended up very much startled by Penny's arrival, "Ah!"
he nearly drops his cigarette. A quick brush of his face removes the tears from his cheeks, "Understatement."
he claims with a light Revidian accent. He wore the typical worker's outfit and the coal stains on his cheeks and hands were more evident than that they were closer, "You don't look too fortunate yourself."
he looked over at Penny and noticed her leg, or rather lack of.
Evidently, being some sort of avatar of Reshta didn't carry as much cachet as Penny had been starting to think. A silly, fleeing notion that had been anyhow. "I have food in my stomach, a roof over my head, and mana to fill my veins."
She smiled, leaving out the negatives and things for which she yearned for now. "And I have him."
She glanced back at Jammy, who was fidgeting and squirming in the background as only a yasoi could."Though it was not always so, I am fortunate enough,"
she assured the crying man, "permanent state of hopping aside. Now how about you?"
she prodded, "What seems to be your loss?"
Gianni takes a long swig of his cigarette before taking it out of his beak and exhaling a large cloud of tobacco. The ashes are left to slowly drop into the stone pavement as he stares absently before him. "Just now, I thought I'd got as a last resort a safe bet on that Ice King fellow."
he mentions, gesturing aggressively at the general direction of mudville, "But you know what that turned out."
The same hand goes to press against his temple, holding back his emotions now that eyes are on him, "Now I've got nothing to help support my brother's family - MY family!"
he continues, his gaze still directed forward, "And our mama. We can't get her the medicine now."
he whimpers, doing his best to keep the tears in. He does eventually twist to look over at Jamboi, "I have to take another shift in the large smithy. Our dye business just doesn't make enough with my brother and I. And now it's just me ..."
Jamboi nods his head, as he looks over towards Penny. He isn't sure what she had in mind, but clearly helping this gentleman is a priority for her. "Well, what kind of medicine does your Mama need? Perhaps we can recreate it or find a way to get some for you"
. He does have some proficiency with chemical magic, he can put some of those issues short term at ease, perhaps.
He looks towards the Reshta statue, then towards the man, then towards Penny. He shrugs. "I tell you what... We will help you out, and in return, I will share you a secret and you make me a promise."
He stands up as he rolls some bennies between his fingers."The secret to good fortune is..."
He leans next to the statue, "make it yourself"
. He places one of the bennies upon the pedestal before it. "You are a good man who is taking care of a good family. You throw good out into the world and the world throws good back at you.""So we will win you one of those chicken dinners, our good deed to you and your family. In return, you never step foot in here, for you will only find a fool's luck here, and you will also do something else, it will be very simple for a man like you..."
Crouches lower towards him again. "When you see someone in need of a good deed, and you are able to do so, give them a helping hand. Let's spread that good fortune, eh?"
He gives the man a big goofy grin and holds his hand up for a high five.
Penny arched an eyebrow at the attempted high five. Dye Making was usually a fairly lucrative trade. If they were struggling, then something was amiss: illness, injury, or foul play. "It is as he said: gambling is a fool's luck and you do not appear a fool."
She paused. "If you don't mind me asking,"
she prodded, "What is your specific misfortune? If I can help, I will."
Jamboi rubs his head as he notices that she didn’t read between the lines, perhaps that was more of a yasoi observational trait. He was tempted to try hand puppet communication but feels that may fall even flatter. Decided to go for something more on the nose. He high fives himself then moves around to Penny as he slides an arm around her, bringing his head to her level. "He is a family man. He is admirable taking care of his Ma and brothers family alike. He has my respect."
He gives the girl a big smile.
Gianni just stares blankly at Ashon. The Yasoi boy really came off as tone-deaf and it didn't help with the man's mood. He answers Penny's question with an undertone of frustration directed toward Jamboi, "My misfortune - My family's misfortune - Is that the best of us are cursed to be blinded by the will of the very Gods!"
he spits a glob of saliva that reeked of damp and cold tobacco onto the ground. He shakes his head in a pacifying manner to try and regulate his growing anger, "Last night, my brother ended up with holes for eyes and a tarnished face, making him as good at dyeing as -I- am."
the cigarette is flung as he stands to then step on it, "Now he can't do what he loves. Provide for his new family. And Mama can't get the medicine for her Gout. I'm the only one left that can work."
he looks over at the betting hall, "And I'm not the man my brother is. Fool's luck or not, what choice do I have?"
he whips out a new cig and non-verbally asks through gestures if they could light it.
Penny conjures a bit of flame and the tip of Gianni's cigarette starts to burn. She shoots her rather-too-significant other a bit of a look. "Ashon,"
she says sweetly but firmly, "you are such a nice guy. Really, but let yanii handle yanii things, mhm?"
She turns back to the smoking man and narrows her eyes. "He woke up with holes for eyes? Just... out of nowhere? Nothing else whatsoever happened?"
She had a bad feeling about this.
Takes the cue as he withdraws from the conversation as it seems he is falling flat despite his best intentions. His fingers squeeze upon Penny's side in a comforting empathetic manner as he hears the words. He has already seen what has passed. A curse more than a blessing. He simply decided not to say anything.
Gianni shakes his head, "I don't know. Fiorella and Mama didn't see anything. Paolo ... It's hard to get him to talk, he is so scared."
he calms down, taking a few huffs from his tobacco, "I'm usually at Mudville at nights."
he pauses, "With a friend."
and then he clears his throat, "But I remember there was some noise and a fire towards the Quarter. No one said anything about it so I thought it was just something about the games."
Penny can see that Ashon is feeling awkward. She pushes up onto her tiptoes. "Hear about or notice anything unusual last night?"
She turned back to the man and remembered to hold out a hand. "I'm Penny, by the way. He's Ashon, but we call him Jamboi."
She smiled faintly. "It means 'monkey' and I think it's rather fitting. I didn't get your name." "Gianni."
he replies and takes the offered hand, and then offers it to Jamboi now that he has calmed, "You two aren't from around here, aren't you?"
it was quite obvious for Jamboi, but Penny was another story, especially with her 'condition', "I was almost thinking of asking if you had lost your leg yesterday too. I know our neighbour had a similar accident, actually."
he offers a recently rolled cigarette to both of them.
Takes the offered hand with a smile and a nod confirming the obvious statement and raises his hand to politely decline the offer for the cigarette.
Jamboi tried his best to present as pleasant to the pair. Trust Penny. Yanii problem, Yanii solutions. Trust Penny.
A fight for the overwhelming urge to say something is strong, but doing his best to leave it to his better half.
By Penny's fourth birthday, her inquisitive little eyes had recognized that every other person she saw had two legs where she had only one. If she had grown up understanding that she was different and yearning not to be, she had also grown up in a very sheltered environment, allowed to go few places and see few unique people, lest the shame of her existence become widely known. It had always struck her as a gross overreaction on her mother's part. The result, however, had been few stares and fewer questions. People had become used to her and she to their casual non-interest.
Coming to Ersand'Enise had been jarring: the eyes that followed her, the leans into a partner's shoulder and murmured whispers, the sad faces and glances back, the gawking from children, and the questions. Oh, the questions! Some were reasonable and others... had certainly not been. She was just some girl with one leg. She'd made up a good few stories: she'd lost it in battle with a savage tribe deep in the jungles of Palapar. A strange illness, incurable by magic, had claimed it. She'd sold it to pay off a crushing debt. A wildblood had attacked her and paid with its life. She was actually Talit'yrash reborn. By Eshiran, it had been a shark!
This question did not precipitate the usual inward eye roll, however. Between Jammy's offhand observation and the fact that a neighbour of this man had also woken up with a similar grievous wound and no memory of it, her instincts found themselves pricked. There were advantages to having grown up as permanent scenery within the deep and tangled pit of vipers that was the Perrench monarchy: she was good at sniffing out conspiracies, and she was beginning to catch the reek of a great big one here. "I apologise for imposing."
She politely declined the cigarette and reached into her coin purse. "Might you be able to lead us to your brother and this neighbour? I am not sure yet, but I'm starting to get an inkling that this was not an act of Eshiran. I will, of course, compensate you for your time."
She shot a glance Ashon's way to see if he was on the same page as her and was starting to piece it together. She could sense that he was struggling with being quiet. She felt both guilty and bothered. There was something significant going on and she was going to get to the bottom of it one way or another.
For a moment, Gianni went silent. The smoke is exhaled from his nostrils this time. There is hesitation when it comes to bringing in outsiders close to home, especially when most know there was something abnormal going on, and almost anything abnormal could be attributed to them: those with power. Still, Gianni is young and clearly still taken by the gravity of his family's situation, to the point of impulse gambling, "... Two incantors. For my family and the Lotti's."
He is firm on this one, arms crossed and eyes like a hawk as he begins to scrutinise them both quite thoroughly. If it weren't for Penny's disability, all things considered, he likely would have dodged this altogether. But if anyone could maybe get the pain of the families, it could be her. Or at least Gianni thought.
Jamboi sensing the focus upon Penny's leg, he looked down towards it instinctively as he did an eye-roll of yanii problems. Yasoi culture took a different view, as the example of the name Vyshta's Favoured. Superstition around it being viewed as both a great blessing, and a potential curse. Admittedly, he tends to forget it is a thing, and never actively thinks of his partner in crime as the 'one legged girl', simply another aspect of her being such as the shape of her nose and the creases in her face as she smiles. Even whilst standing next to a statue of Reshta, which is viewed as some kind of one-legged demi-goddess, such a viewpoint is taken. Even if it is going to be viewed as tone-deaf, he couldn't stop himself as he plants a soft peck against Penny's head, "Mh? She's perfect, like the sun breaking out at dawn."
Against all his better judgements, it seems like he is getting roped into these affairs, despite his well intentioned way of attempting to avoid the situation from the start. If he knew he could walk away at any moment, yet he felt compelled to stay by her side, even if she could currently squish him like a bug in terms of raw power. An awkward and nagging feeling.
He moves his hand into his pocket as he brings out a fistful of bennies. Given his reputation around being a little clueless around money, it might be far simpler for Penny to pay the man despite his best intentions."Too bad I'm usually sleeping in,"
she teased. Indeed, it was a bad habit that she'd picked up. She'd been late for a few classes. "but thanks."
She hands Gianni his coin and exhorts him to lead the way. She flashed Ashon a grateful smile.
Gianni raises a brow at Ashon's presentation of bennies with Penny again coming to the rescue with four coins to cover the entry costs, "Okay, follow me."
he locks his cig between his index and major fingers as he begins to escort the two through the crowds and alleys, eventually leading to a block where textiles were treated with various businesses that held residences over them. Gianni gestured toward his dyeing establishment, "Welcome to Bruni's. My family's business and home."
then turned toward the opposite building, "And the Lotti's."
although it is a cotton working business, that family is more oriented toward wood carving and some metalworking. Their decision to reside in the area likely had to do with the Revidian dominance in this street in particular.
Just as they approach Bruni's, a woman steps out on the small balcony facing the street. Her features are illuminated by the candle she is holding, emphasising her long brown hair, olive skin and brown eyes. She is also very pregnant from what they could see, "Gianni? Who are they?"
she asks, to which he promptly replies, "These are people interested in knowing about the accident, Mirella."
he answers, "They want to help."
he adds. "Accident? Help?"
she inquires with clear ire, "What happened was NO accident, Gianni. Why are you bringing strangers to our home? You KNOW this was the doing of outsiders."
she squinted at the Yasoi in particular, "And you bring a Tree-ape. Those with the magic. They're going to cause even more trouble, Gianni."
At the mention of Tree-ape, he did put his hand to the side as he tried to discreetly comment to Penny. "I have a reputation"
. He simply gives a wide goofy smile and a wave towards the woman on the balcony.
He was soon finding himself with the urge to talk, perhaps provide an alibi, an accident in the dye works, a much needed desire to dye his tunic violet as he cheers from the stands, with some coin and a pair of hands, help put some bread on the corner. Such a routine could easily slip from his tongue, he could talk himself out of any troublesome situation as good as he can talk himself into any troublesome situation.
He allows Penny to take the lead. Yanii problems require Yanii solutions.
His idea was to simply to treat the old Ma, rig a few games for a jackpot, then shove the coins in the man's pockets and set him free, get him spreading further goodness out in the world, but this was not the way in the yanii lands, and probably not even in the yasoi lands either. Maybe in Jamboi land though where he is the King.
Penny bristles as Mirella refers to Ashon as a 'tree ape'. She narrows her eyes, fighting a momentary urge to put this rude nobody who threw her goodwill back at her into her place. Fortunately, it passes quickly, and the big precious seems to be grinning and bearing it, taking the slur relatively well. Still, she isn't. "You're right, ma'am,"
she replies, sympathetic but firm. "It was almost certainly no accident."
She shook her head. "People with magic - people like us - are almost certainly behind it and Ashon and I don't think that's right. We're here to see if we can figure out who, how, and why. Having manas doesn't give one the right to be awful."
Mirella keeps quiet while Gianni steps back a little, clearly way over his head with this situation and just enjoys his smoke. "You're damn right it's not right."
concedes Mirella, now that the steam is unleashed she could think for a moment, "What are you going to do? You're kids."
she leans over the metal barrier of her balcony and crosses her arms over it, "It's not the first time people want to get back at those with the power."
She has no trouble articulating her grievances and with how she speaks seems to be decently educated despite her social class, "Not even your Century can stop this, it looks like. Maybe if you weren't all too busy searching for those that actually fight for us, this would never have happened."
It occurs to Penny that the damage likely lies irreversibly deep here. These people are already radicalised if they're referencing the Traveller: a figure of careless and tireless evil who stirs up nothing but hatred and senselessly feeds commoners aberrations in the hopes of making an army to - What? She thinks, start a bloody war and lop off the heads of people like me? How many will die? she wonders. What real change will come of it? It was foolish of her to come here. She feels for their plight and the wall of apathy and feigned innocence that they run up against daily, but they clearly want their pound of flesh more than they want any help. Her eyes narrow. Stepping back, her crutch catches on a cobblestone and she stumbles momentarily, but she recovers quickly. Reaching into her cloak, Penny pulls out a large coin purse and thrusts it into Gianni's hands whether he's ready or not. "I did not come here in good faith for myself and my friend to act as objects of mockery,"
she says to the woman on the balcony. "If you don't want my help, you won't have it. I feel for your family and the injustice you faced. I hope this coin helps you find your way in the coming days."
She turns on her heel and begins walking. "You were right, Jammy,"
she added quietly and brusquely to her partner, "Simple coin was the best remedy after all. These people are unsalvageable. Let's go."
Jamboi simply blinks as Penny takes a sudden sharp turn out of the situation and starts to walk away. He has certainly missed something that has transpired between them. He speaks up, perhaps fruitlessly. "If the tree-ape can speak"
, he simply taps the bottom of the man's hand, taking the coin purse within his own hand, as he simply robs it back, temporarily, probably earning everyone's ire and attention at this moment."The world is unfair. Some are tall, some are beautiful, some are caring, others are protective"
as he highlights those present, "We are all different, and yet whilst some call this a weakness, I see it as a strength. We all bring something we can offer each other in our own ways. It is true, there are those who are cruel, there are those who are selfish, these make us feel pain and hurt."
He easily makes his way up the wall as he moves upon the balcony giving the pregnant woman the coin purse. "She may have had this coin, but she wanted to share it with you because she cared about his story and wanted to help.”
thumb in Gianna’s direction. ”Your fierceness to protect your family, your child, admirable, and this is important"
he waves a hand over to reference the bump, then pointing to Gianni "and he has the kindness to want to care for you all and take on that responsibility, despite the desperate circumstances. In this unequal place, by helping others, we only can truly help ourselves and become whole."
He hops down upon the street, "So be fierce, like a lioness to protect your cub, but importantly, be mindful of others and don't be quick to dismiss them, as they may require your protection the most."
He makes his way towards Penny as he waves them off. He scratches his head as he gives her a wide toothy grin as he approaches her, speaking softly. "Cannot have him gambling it all away again, Pen..."
Penny twisted to regard Ashon. "I know, Jammy."
She glanced down at her foot. "But I'm not sure she should have it either. They're in bed with the Traveler. He wants people like me - like us - dead. He purposely creates aberrations and feeds them to his brainwashed followers!"
She shook her head. "Think about what those have done to your people... And someone like that? That 'cause' is her only comfort now. Half of the funds will end up in the hands of that maniac."
She was angry, irrationally so, and she knew it.
Gianni's cigarette is left hanging over his lip, bound only by the excess saliva that made the butt of the stick damp. What just happened? Mirella is sneering at the kids and he was left with a purse filled with coins. It is a great score, but it all feels wrong. Like the world just got a little darker despite the win. And then Jamboi just snagged it. That brought back the confused young man back to Sipenta, and the monkey-boy definitely earned the glares of everyone involved, probably even Penny's.
His speech is, well, dramatic and rose tinted, but it definitely worked on the more naive Gianni. Mirella is ready to shoo him away, but the prospect of money with their current situation was too good to pass-up. She held the purse, but didn't utter a word. She couldn't. She had lost everything, and all because of those that consistently stood above them. Even above her, an educated woman who could have been so much more if she just had magic. She too felt it 'wrong' to get this money and end it like this. But she could live with that. Mirella retreated to her home, but Gianni, after a quick exchange with his sister-in-law, rushed over to the two. "Hey! Hold up!"
he calls out. He caught his breath after making it - the cigarettes didn't help his stamina at all - and raised his hand for them to wait a little more, "Sorry. Ahem. Look, I know how she sounded but ..."
he scratches his cheek. He is having trouble formulating sentences, like he had a feeling but couldn't find the words, "She's angry. She- We lost everything, in a way."
he plainly explained, "And she wants someone to take it out on. But she is a good person. My family is."
he reaches within his vest and whips out a small bag containing a dried herb of sorts, "I was going to save this for the festival at the end of the trials, but ..."
he chuckles, "You take it. As a thank you. At least for trying."
Penny was going to refuse. She didn't want or need some nice tobacco, but it was his way of feeling like more than a beggar, a dependent. He wanted to have something to offer in return and she knew that feeling well. "Thank you,"
she replied, managing a faint smile. "Don't gamble on it, please. Invest it in something you do well. There's enough there and you're not just your brother's shadow."
She felt like a fraud saying it, but perhaps a bit less than usual. "Oraphe crafts all of us with a chance to thrive, else why would we be here? Make your own luck instead of relying on others."
Then, when she and Jamboi were on their own, she leaned suddenly to the side, snuggling into him. "Thank you for being awesome. I know that wasn't fun. I feel like I owe you a drink and a show. Soul Sistas tonight?"
As Penny shared her words, he did adopt a rather dark look in his eyes. One that he would have to actively turn away as he hides it from her. There were things he knew well, too well, and... those are perhaps left for another time. He was in no mood to discuss those things.
As he heard that shouting, Ashon turned as he smiled widely again as the man came. It seems his message did get through and despite those misgivings, there was some real decency in these folks, even if they are misguided. Even if it wasn't even a yanii, or even a yasoi solution, there is some merit to the jamboi-solution even if it is not immediately obvious.
Jamboi on the other hand does take the tobacco. Opening the box as he takes a sample of the leaf inside, "My friend loves plantweed"
as he closes the box again. He gives a big grin as he departs from Penny a moment to whisper into the man's ear, putting his hand in his pocket as he ends up putting a bunch of bennies upon the top of it too. From all appearances, he just used the box of tobacco as payment for something else entirely. He clasps the man upon the shoulder as he sends him off. As Penny gives him a quizzical look, he simply gives one of those cheesy smiles. "I believe you call that a barter"
He gratefully accepted the snuggle as he escorted her back towards the colosseum, it is her game soon after all, even if he had all the free time in the world. He didn't need to be a genius as to why a Perrench girl would want to watch a show done by Green Fields academy, but fully willing to amuse her all the same. "and if you cannot wake in the morning, perhaps we should wait for the sun to break instead"
he mused in return."Pffft."
Penny gave him a raspberry and a punch on the arm. "I shall awaken like a goddess!"
she chirped, spinning a full three-sixty on her heel. "For now, running time, or I'm gonna be late!"
Concert at the Five Thrones Tavern
Standing tall on the corner of Parade Street is the Five Thrones Tavern. Having been founded early in the city’s history, the establishment is a major tourist attraction in Ersand’Enise. The high quality food served here brings in a sophisticated clientele that wouldn’t normally be seen around commoners, and the venue is exceptionally spacious and clean compared to other establishments in the area. Thanks to the tavern’s reputation the price to dine is higher than the competition, but it is still reasonable for commoners to treat themselves here a few times a year. It is rumoured that Zenith once came here to celebrate her birthday.
Tonight there is a special occasion being advertised for the students and residents of the city. Thanks to the sponsorship of a particular Perrench nobleman, all drinks are on the house until sunrise. Furthermore, there is a music show being put on tonight courtesy of the internationally famous Seoul Sistas. One can easily see them through the door as guests exit the establishment; the all female troupe, stunningly beautiful even by Callanasti standards, appear to have an otherworldly glow to them as they set up atop the dimly lit stage.
Before you are allowed to enter the tavern, you are stopped at the door by a pair of tough looking Centuries. One of them is a two handed swordsman with a frog mouthed helmet. The other is a polearm user wearing a steel bucket. It is difficult to see their eyes, but you can certainly feel their hard gaze as you approach them. They regard your presence by firmly tightening their fingers around their weapons. "Alright kids, I'm gonna need you to stand there for a sec."
The swordsman, or woman based on the voice emanating from the helmet, stepped towards the students while her partner stood close by with his weapon at the ready. "I hate to do this to ya, but I gotta search your pockets before you go inside. No need to spread your arse or anything."
The Century pats down the crew in order starting with Ingrid. Despite her humorous demeanour the lady takes her job seriously, rubbing down every inch of people's clothes for things the students can only guess at. She pauses after giving Penny a pat down, but does not openly comment. Marci's wheelchair earns her no pity, for she gets searched just as thoroughly as everyone else, bust and all. Desmond's hidden weaponry is quickly discovered, but are not confiscated. Weapons for self defence seem to be allowed within reason. Zarina and Ingrid may find a sliver of amusement in the fact that the Century, who could probably crush any of their Zenos in a no holds barred duel, is forced to look up at the freakishly tall women as they get frisked.
After a few uncomfortable minutes the knightess backs off and resumes her post at the door. "Sorry for the fuss. You kids are good to go."
She gives them the big thumbs up. The Century are more talkative than they look! Maybe it would be worth shooting the shit with them before going into the tavern.
Those who proceed inside are greeted with the sounds and smells of clanging beer mugs, rowdy bar patrons, and delicious food aplenty. The indoor lighting is tastefully measured so as to not hurt the eyes of the night time crowd. The entire venue is bathed in a calm orange glow. The Five Thrones Tavern is packed to the walls with guests both from Ersand'Enise and from afar. It is likely that the establishment is close to capacity. One has to raise their voice quite high just to hear themselves talk over the booming echo of the hundreds of guests.
The ones who take particular interest in the main event will spot one of the famous Seoul Sistas pacing back and forth near the stage. It is Ms. Hong, and she appears to be in a state of distress.
Ashon was approached by the door staff, they didn't even bother to start frisking him down. He puts his hands upon his hips as he tilted his head towards them. "I am Yasoi, my weapons are part of my religion."
In the land of the Pentad, that seems to only infuriate them further as he is led to a lock and storage box, provided with a key, as they encourage him to remove anything that could be remotely classified as a weapon from his person. He will be permitted to access them again after the show.
He takes a long time, in a display that would make Desmond green with envy. Straps, knives, his climbing kit, a hair pin, a coils of rope and wire, his belt, anything remotely metallic including his fistful of bennies... blatant discrimination.
He eventually makes his way up to Penny, looking sheepish for taking such a long time. He does show the girl that he managed to smuggle in his wooden tie for his hair braid. "Yanii's never learn."
Penny snorts, feeling it in her nose. "I guess they took all of your money too?"
she teases, rolling her eyes. Not that she particularly minds, but Jammy never seems to have any money. "So, where we goin', big guy?"
He smiles widely towards her. "Eeh... you know these guards so well."
Perhaps it was the Centuries special way of telling him to 'sod off' being without a benny to spend, or even use the excuse of him being light with his fingers as perfectly valid grounds to drag him out of the building. Fortunately for him this time, he is in the company of a rather rich merchant girl who... who...
Jamboi paused for a moment as he looked down towards Penny. "...we have no money."
Whilst Penny may have forgot in her haste, she donated her pocket money to the victims of yesterday's conspiracy to help them get back on their feet. "It seems we are doing tonight Yasoi style."
He shoots her an extra large grin."Oh for fuck's sake,"
Penny whined. "No good deed goes unpunished."
She rolled her eyes. "At least the drinks are free. Don't need much more than drinks at a place like this."
She headed to the bar to order a Honey Mead. "How 'bout you? Whatcha having and where d'ya wanna go?"
Jamboi was already midway about to swipe someone else's drinks in his Yasoi concept of finders keepers when they played loose with property law, as Penny gentles corrects and guides him into ordering like a civilised Yanii. He lifts two fingers up towards the bar keeper indicating a second drink as he mirrors Penny's choice, ultimately enjoying the party in a truly Yasoi manner of having an open bar!"You know the short one (at the auction)?"
as he attempts to strike up small talk with Penny, "She was practising a song with the Sistas. (perhaps they will sing it tonight)"
He attempts his best at trying to speak like a Yanii, leaving half the sentence missing as to leave the listener guessing as to their intent."Ayla?"
she questioned. "Sounds like her kinda thing. Big stage for a small girl."
Penny grinned. "Now, what say we don't just sit here? We're either getting drunk or we're finding something interesting to do."
Jamboi tilted his head to the side. "I thought her name was Palmtop Lion Cub..."
he recalls an interaction where he overheard Ayla getting addressed as such, it seemed to be a cute nickname for her, because she is small and she is adorned with lion jewellery, as he gives a smile.
Jamboi could certainly get rowdy, and without much prompting, he would easily have her seated upon his shoulders to give her the best view in the house. "Perhaps she is with them. Might be able to get her VIP Access to the Sistas"
He leads Penny over towards Ms Hong.
Jamboi and Penny creep up just in time to overhear the leader of the Seoul Sistas give Desmond her request. Perhaps they can beat him to the punch, and find the culprit behind the missing hairpin before he does!
Desmond started to try and clam the woman as he said, "It's okay, I can find it. What does it look like and where did you last see it?"
. Desmond kept calm with a smile, this was exactly what he was looking for.
Xiulan holds her hair up in a mock bun. "Hairpin. It's a hairpin. It's made of pink diamond and looks like a peach flower. It just... fell out of my hair somehow! I think someone may have stolen it."
Desmond now has to figure out who might have snatched the poor girl's pin. There are plenty of people in the tavern worth asking about it.
Desmond gave her a smile and a nod as he said, "I'll get it back for you, don't you worry"
. As Desmond heads off to start his search. the first person he would ask would be a person he knows would have an eye for things, the Respectable Bar patron.
As Desmond made his way over to a more crowded area to lose sight of those who could possibly be watching, mostly lamplighters who were probably trying to catch people. He was much more wary there as the moment he stepped in, the Respectable Bar patron could be alone, or they could have multiple running around, either way he always made sure to keep his possessions tight. Desmond took off his badge before exiting the crowd.
Jamboi and Penny exchange a glance as they overhear the request. Not that they have seen a hairpin matching that description, it is that 'Luck of Reshta' moment as the only sharp item of his he managed to smuggle in was in fact, a wooden hair tie. same difference
He moves towards the girl as he gives her a goofy smile. "Couldn't help but overhear you both. Take mine till yours is found."
He pulled out the far more simple wooden hair tie of his own and offered it to the girl."I know it won't replace the one you have,"
Penny chirps, "but hopefully it can help in the meantime, until we find it!" "Awww, that's sweet of you. I'm sorry, but that hairpin was special to me. It was a gift from my best friend. Not just any old pin will do."
Xiulan gave Jamboi and Penny an apologetic bow.
Penny takes a moment to consider. "Hey Jammy,"
she says, leaning in conspiratorially. "What if that sketchy person who was pickpocketing has it?"
He accepted the refusal graciously as he returned the item to his person. "When did you last notice you had the item, and when did you notice it was missing, and what happened between those two points of time?"
Whilst Desmond appeared to go on his goose chase, he tried to narrow down the search to the most likely candidates of who and where when it came to the hairpin.
Penny nods at Jamboi's question. "Yup. If we can narrow it down, see if things match up..."
She trails off, twisting to face the famous bard.
He tilted his head to the side as he pointed towards Desmond in response to Penny's question, the sketchy gentleman who had just left. "That one?"
Penny facepalmed... hard. "No, Jammy boi, the one he was just talking with."
He grins even wider towards her, he knew that she knew he was right. That is why she made that reaction. "I don't know..."
Ms. Xiulan frowned and crossed her arms. "I was walking from the bar back to the stage and then it was just... gone! I didn't even have a second to see who grabbed it. They might have used magic.""Want to go with good Century, bad Century?"
They decide to follow the trails of the other as the pair of them start to approach the local Rusty Blade to gather further information."Sure!"
Penny chirps. "But um... if it turns out she actually has it, how good are you at... helping yourself to free things?"
It seems that Vyshta has a great sense of irony in this moment, considering the events elsewhere when it comes to being able to read the rune scratchings on the base of a table leg but struggles to find the person within a very crowded room... of course. Sensory overload.
Jamboi is full of bravado, but it is because of him that the little pickpocket nearly escapes. She saw his goofy yasoi self coming from a mile away. Luckily Penny is there to save the day, and she manages to ambush the girl from around a corner. "Hey, what gives!? You guys with the guard or something? I'm clean!"
Jamboi decides in the absence of his answer he plays the role of bad cop. He holds his hand out towards the chair as he indicates for the Rusty Blade to sit upon it as he has the assistance of his beautiful assistant to encourage her to sit down."A little birdie told me you like to collect hair pins"
, he brings out his wooden hair pin as the shows the sharp end of it towards the pickpocket. "So I wanted to play one of my favourite games with you. If you give me the missing hair pin, you win and you can run away..."
He pushes the pickpocket's hand upon the table with a flat hand palm down and fingers spread. "I'll give you a tip, keep those fingers spread"
, he says lowly before returning to the game rules, "If I don't get the missing hair pin, you'll lose, and I'll give you mine"
A free hair pin for losing? What is the catch?
Jamboi moves the hair pin in his other hand as he starts to tap the table in a slow rhythmic motion. He taps it next to the hand, then between the first finger, then next to the hand, then the second finger, the tempo slowly speeding up. "I am still practising this trick, I think my highest was twenty in a row..."
as he says that, the wooden pin taps harder upon the table. If he misses with that thing, it is going to hurt."Gemmy, nooo!"
Penny squeals, purposely providing a false name for him. "Come on. I'm sure it was an honest misunderstanding. Girl's gotta make a living, you know! She couldn't have known it was yours!"
She turns puppy dog eyes first to Jamboi and then to the thief. "Hey, hey, take it easy man! I admit it, I nicked the damn hairpin! Just take it!"
The rat bastard struggled out of the yasoi's clutches and stood up. Her jaw moved around until a piece of metal poked out of her lips. She spat the missing hairpin on the floor right on top of his shoes. While he and Penny were distracted, she dove low to the ground and sped off, determined not to get slapped with cuffs for her thievery. She was quick!Quest Item obtained: Ms. Hong's stolen hairpin. Quite valuable, but no special properties on its own.
Jamboi waves the hair pin towards Penny. "It looks like your Gemmy was shining brightly today, just like his Pretty Benny."
The groan he will receive would be worth it. He obviously makes his way back to Ms Hong as they cash in her valuable hair pin
Sometimes, Ashon was a doofus, an idiot, even. She found herself rescuing him again and again, but he was so unlike anyone else she'd known. Penny found herself grinning. Unpredictable in a world full of predictable people. When he won, he won big. The Perrenchwoman grinned and hurried along behind him. "Hey you,"
she prodded, catching up. "You know, sometimes, just sometimes, you're the best."
She smiled, cheeks growing warm. "Ohhhhh!"
Xiulan looked like she was about to cry as she graciously attempted the hairpin with both hands. After putting it back in its rightful place in a Rettan style hairbun, she gives Penny and Ashon a big hug. "How can I possibly thank you two!?"
The pop star rifles around her pockets desperately for a suitable reward, and then a light turns on in her head. She slides one of her rings off her hand and offers it to the pair. "Here. Take this. I have a box full of these thanks to daddy always buying stuff for me."Reward - An enchanted jade ring. +5% drawing speed from arcane energy sources. The gem catalyst appears to be removable.
Jamboi smiled widely as he was given the jade ring, he couldn't help but beam at the fact it was this jewel that was gifted to him. The fact it matched his eyes was clearly a noticeable fact. He turns towards Penny, giving her that almost speechless smile. As he tries to quickly fill her in. "You would believe this. I met the actual Monkey King in Baobab. He paid tribute to me when I declared myself the Jade Emperor."
He points the ring right towards her face. Yes, that is very clearly jade. Without thinking, he takes Penny's hand as he pushes the ring upon her finger as he gifted it to her.
Penny gasps. "Oh my Ipte, Jammy..."
She looks up at him. Then, standing on her tiptoes, she leans in for a kiss. She has never kissed a boy before. She's not sure if she's doing it right. She doesn't think, though. She just does it. Jamboi would dumbly accept the kiss because he didn't expect that reaction, kind of freezing on the spot a moment as she locked upon him as his eyes widened.
A very imposing presence suddenly arrives, somewhat late to the party. Zarina, in her infinite grump, is here, "BOO!" she attempts to freak out Jamboi from behind. It seems Vyshta's luck struck again...
The kiss doesn't happen. Penny whirls on the spot, shooting Zarina an incredulous look. She... doesn't really have words. Is it intentional sabotage at this point? "Hah! Found you, Non-Yanii."
it appears she did not actually know what was up and just wants to address Jamboi in particular, "You and I,"
she wags her index between herself and the Yasoi, "we got something to discuss. Big, important thing, yeah?"
if he focuses enough he could notice just how thick and sharp her nails had got. It was quite lucky that he didn't get cut there!
He looks between Zarina and Penny, looking rather confused at this interruption. He looks towards Penny as if asking Is this a yanii thing? with his eyes as the strange girl approached him. He scratches upon his cheek as he is not sure how to respond. "I thank you for your interest, but I am currently with some one...""Zarina,"
says Penny, pivoting on her heel, "I was about to kiss this big doofus."
She purses her lips and blinks, not taking her eyes off of the intruder. "You just interrupted a girl's first kiss."
She sighs. "About par for the course for me anyhow."
There's an eyeroll. She tries to hide the size of the letdown. her heart is still hammering. Now she'll never know. "So, what seems to be the big news? It's okay. I'm only slightly pissed at you."
Zarina's attention span in her current state simply doesn't have the capacity to focus on something for too long. Penny got her attention, and Zarina cocked a brow, "Hey, you snooze, you lose girl. The Gods have deemed it so, or something."
she shrugs with a slightly smug look to her, "The news can now wait. I have dishonoured you and ruined your precious first kiss."
she cracks her fingers and grins wide, showing off her slightly changed teethed - just barely sharper than normal, "It's about time you get back at me for being a major cunt. Twice! And I heard there was an arm wrestling game full of pansies."
Penny scowled determinedly. "Alright, beanpole, you're on."
Jamboi witnessed first hand the changeable nature of yanii's in action. Going from the importance of a first kiss to arm wrestling within the blink of an eye. Apparently the other girl had something super important to say too, which has now vanished.. Compared to the passionate pursuits of Yasoi and their aloof disinterest in anything they find remotely boring, they were far less unpredictable.
Seemingly abandoned for the moment, as is the way of love, he turns to Ms Hong."Is the girl small and fierce like lion cub performing with you tonight?"
When he gets her attention, he makes a song request and a lyric change. Perhaps the girl would be generous enough to fulfil his request. "Eh?"
Xiulan tilted her head in a puzzled fashion. She slammed her fist into her palm when she realised who the yasoi was referring to. "Oh! I'm sorry, but this is an official concert from the Seoul Sistas. Our song schedule is set in stone. I'm afraid your friend won't be joining us on stage tonight."
He understands. "If there is something you can do, I know to rely on you."
The night grows old, and everyone has had their shot at a good time tonight. The drinks flow, games are won, and friendships are made all around. This is a night of celebration, and there is indeed celebration aplenty. Regardless of how everyone's little adventures turned out, this will be a night they will remember. Despite all the excitement though, the party isn't quite over yet.
Over the cacophony of clinking glasses and boisterous laughter, the low note of woodwinds begins to rise ever so slowly. Everyone who was in the middle of a game or conversation is alerted to the buzz of music and drops what they were doing to look in the direction it was coming from.
Dressed in a shimmering blue hanfu, Liu Ai took the stage with a paixiao flute in hand. Weren't the Seoul Sistas supposed to be a single unit? What was she doing up there by herself? It was a good question to ponder, but rational thought flew out the window when she began to hit her high notes. Despite being the least glamorous of the five, it was clear this girl was practicing until her lips bled.
But then another instrument joined Liu Ai's solo performance. The air on the stage shimmered like water, revealing Seong Ji-Woo and Nazari Nia. Their matching yellow hanboks matched up well with their makeup, and the dim orange lights of the tavern complimented her appearance. Kneeling on a pair of cushions, the two plucked their hearts out on the strings of their handmade kayagums, filling the air with a crisp and clear sound.
Then a strange lady does a backflip onto the stage, landing on a pillow in a perfect seiza. It was Kimura Mio, dressed in a flamboyant shiny kimono with a shamisen cradled in her arms. How she was able to be so athletic in her restrictive clothes was anybody's guess. As she took to the stage, an unseen entourage of background performers began beating on their drums in accompaniment.
Finally, the whole room explodes into a flash of color. A blinding light momentarily obscures everyone's eyes, and when they are finally able to see again, they are able to witness the sudden arrival of Hong Xiulan. Where there was once a tearful, timid lady, there was now a performer full of confidence. A few kind souls were able to retrieve what she thought was lost, and the positive energy came through in her explosive lute playing. Her beautiful peach flower hairpin shone under the light as she danced around the stage, singing a program of traditional songs from each girl's homeland.
It is almost impossible to hear oneself think in the midst of the orchestrated performance and the frenzied cheers of the gathering crowd. It became so heated within the Tavern that people nearly started climbing over each other to get a closer look at the Seoul Sistas. This was a rare spectacle after all. One could not move between countries overnight unless they were a master temporal mage. Some people went their whole lives without seeing a musical outfit on the calibre of these five ladies.
The hours passed, and the performance slowly wound down. The final number was approaching, and as they tended to do the Sistas chose to end the night with a song that the locals were likely familiar with."Walkin' holdin' hands, you say you're mine all mine
Then soon another face steals your eyes away~"
It was an unusual sound, but an uplifting one. It was also rather amorous, and the mood within the room began to take a turn as couples leaned further and further into each other. The romantic lighting and generous distribution of liquor meant that people's inhibitions were breaking down, and many loving displays were shown off in public view.”𝆕 So here’s a benny for your thoughts, a Penny for a kiss, a hugo if you tell me that you love me~ 𝆕”
Xiulan winked at someone in the crowd as this line left her lips.
The song lasted only minutes, but it felt like the closing act was almost an hour long. Maybe it did. The free drinks made it hard for anyone to remember the time. But like all good things, the show had to come to an end. Hitting one final note on her instrument, Mio hops to her feet and chucks her shamisen into the crowd!
The lyrics had been changed, only a minor one during the chorus but quite a significant one when it came to a certain someone... A Penny for a Kiss. It was upon that certain lyric that Jamboi places his hands upon Penny's cheeks, as he guided her face towards him. His thumb caresses them as in that very moment as he leans in as his lips connect with her own.
And Penny leans into it, and it is good.Penny’s first kiss.