Closed What's in Store?

Zhol and Khara go shopping again.

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The westernmost tip of Kalea, Wind Reach is home to an amazing group of people and their giant eagle mounts. [Lore]

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What's in Store?

Postby Zhol on April 28th, 2015, 1:59 pm

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40th Spring, 515
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It was funny how things changed. In the past, Zhol had hated the market. His first experiences had shown just how naive he was about this aspect of life in Wind Reach - not something he was particularly fond of being reminded of - and had led to him avoiding this place. The combination of Khara's birthday, and the fact that the events of autumn had left her uncomfortable with venturing anywhere - especially somewhere so crowded - alone had brought him back; instead of the overwhelmed confusion of the first visits, that venture into the market had been plagued with anxiety, partly for Khara's safety and partly for fear that she might discover what he was buying, and ruin the surprise.

Now though? Now was different. Spring had transformed things. Khara had already spent most of the winter sharing his room and his bed, leaving him for work each morning and returning to him each night. He saw her almost always; as much as it was possible to see her, at least. He'd even spent a few of his workless days accompanying her, tagging along on her scouting expeditions to be parted from her even less, and to better understand who she was, what she did, and what her life, which he was now part of, actually entailed. Any sane person would have decided that was enough - excessive, even. Not Zhol. For him, each blink was too long a time to spend without her. Every opportunity to be together, and better yet do things together was leapt at with all the enthusiasm of an infant cat leaping after a scrap of fluff.

So here he was, back at the market; not because he needed to be, not because Khara wanted him there to protect her, but simply because he couldn't bear the thought of missing an opportunity to be wherever Khara was.

That didn't mean he was here without a definite purpose, though. On the contrary, Zhol had thought long and hard about the specific items he would permit himself to buy. He had been practising a thought and a phrase over and over in his mind: No, I don't need that. He'd even asked Khara to remind him of the same; to challenge his buying choices if it seemed like he was being lured into something unnecessary. There was only so much space in his room for strange impulse purchases; the Isurian weights he'd bought last season dominated one corner, and loomed ominously at him, his use of them more out of effort and obligation than desire. Archery targets and archery supplies. More clothes than he had ever earned; clothes specifically intended for more than just general existence and work. The man raised in Endrykas, the man who had never owned a frivolous luxury in his life, now had too many to quite know what to do with them.

Zhol repeated the two permitted purchases over in his mind: a wooden training sword; and something to practice against, but only if it wasn't too large; he'd be relying on Khara to help him determine that, and to help shield him from merchants who were attempting to take advantage of his naive outsider nature. Zhol had been practising his archery, but the multi-eyed monster back in winter, the duel that had ambushed him on the Sanikas Road, and his sparring with Sira earlier this season, reminded him that it was more than just his bow skills that required practice.

His hand tightened a little around Khara, the gesture followed up by a contented smile offered in her direction. The unspoken extra item that he was allowed to purchase, of course, was anything that Khara wanted; anything that would make her happy. Better yet if she wanted it but decided she couldn't have it. She would protest, she would insist that he didn't need to buy her things; but he wanted to, needed to. He wanted to give her the world; wanted her to want for nothing; wanted every opportunity for her to be happy laid ready and waiting at her feet. Pinions were just pinions, and if Zhol could manage to spend the ones he earned at the stables on the woman he loved, it would make the fact that he had to be apart from her in order to earn them a little easier to bear.
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What's in Store?

Postby Khara on April 28th, 2015, 9:18 pm

Although she didn't think it was anything remarkable - and it certainly was far beyond her own notice - if someone had pointed it out Khara would almost have been embarrassed by how happy she was. Here of all places at that. It wasn't the market itself that caused the feeling though, it was still too crowded, it was still hard to see if anyone was actively watching her, it was still hard to judge just who may have bumped into her at any given moment, but none of that really seemed to matter at that exact moment.

The day was warm by Wind Reach standards and a gentle breeze blew through the courtyard that kept things from becoming stifling. It carried with it the various smells of the marketplace, most of which hinted at the various foods and other exotic goods that were being brought in by trade now that Thunder Bay had fully opened once more. It was the type of market day that Khara used to enjoy coming to and right at that moment, she couldn't think of a single reason why she shouldn't now.

A moment was taken to close her eyes, to fully appreciate the warmth of Syna's rays on her skin before a gentle tug at her demanded her attention. She practically beamed as she looked to Zhol who also seemed to be caught up in the good mood she couldn't - and didn't want to - retreat from. Khara knew he was a big part of her reason for feeling the way she did and not a tick went by that she wasn't fully appreciative for it. Even when Zhol wasn't around she felt more courageous, bolstered by the idea that no matter how bad the day was, the evening would always be theirs.The times when he was around, however? Khara was almost convinced that there wasn't a single entity aside from a deity that could stop the constant elation she felt that managed to peek through even the darkest of moments.

For a tick - just one before she recalled how unwise it was to tempt such a thing - she almost wished the Avora who had tried to break her would be at the market, just so that he could see that his efforts at destroying her life had been unsuccessful, that his taunts regarding how the horse boy outsider really felt about her couldn't have been more baseless. Of course she knew the truth of what would actually happen, the blacksmith wouldn't even recognize or care if she was there, maybe only taking notice of the Chiet by how much fear she couldn't hide from him. Zhol would sense that same fear coming from her and immediately seek to abolish the one who was causing it, the fight would be disruptive and horrible and put a black mark on an otherwise nice day. It was nice to think it might go otherwise, though. Given her high spirits Khara almost was willing to say it simply wouldn't happen that way at all - but still, best not to tempt the crueler things in the world.

The thought was easily brushed aside, retreating to the ever shrinking portion of her mind that was determined to cling to such dark things. Her mind turned to the market itself instead, of how she was going to help Zhol avoid any scheming merchants, of how she wanted to see everything that came from another city. Rumor was that there were even things from as far away as Riverfall. That city was in Cyphrus, wasn't it? She wondered idly if Zhol had ever been there, if he could tell her if it really was populated entirely by large blue men. Soon her thoughts were fluttering away with wondering where all exactly Zhol had been and if he could tell her things of all the different cities he had ever visited. Brandon had mentioned goats with crystal horns being in Lhavit and Khara's imagination ran wild with other sorts of strange and wondrous creatures and people there could possibly be.

As they walked past a stall crowded with various types of birds for sale, Khara locked eyes with a particularly impressive falcon, going so far as to hold it's gaze as she looked back, head turning to peer over her shoulder until she simply couldn't anymore. The day so far had brought on all sorts of seemingly random comments from the girl that were inspired by the various wares of the market and her next would be no different; idle twittering that was perfect for a - mostly - carefree day.

"I think we should try to find some way to teach you how to handle a bird properly. Most everyone in Wind Reach knows how to; the basics at least." She grinned and wrapped her arms around one of his as she pulled in tighter against his side, his hand clutched between hers. "Then we can buy a raven to take messages from you. It could find me when I am scouting and then you can tell me things all day or I could say if I am going to be late so you know to stop being silly and waiting for me to come home before you sleep."

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What's in Store?

Postby Zhol on April 28th, 2015, 10:27 pm

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"Raven's can do that?" Zhol asked, a strange mix of apprehension and wonder in his voice. He knew all about the wind eagles - or at least, he knew enough about the wind eagles to know what they were capable of and be wary of it, and to understand the Inarta's reverence. Other birds though? As far as he knew, the Inarta were just fond of them. It was like the Drykas and horses: only the Striders were special, but they treated all horses with respect. Khara's talk about ravens though? About birds that could carry messages, that could seek out Khara in the wilderness - what other miraculous things were the birds of Wind Reach capable of?

Zhol peered at the myriad menagerie of birds, wondering what magical traits each one of them might have. He'd heard stories of people who could speak to birds, and had even heard stories about birds that could speak back words of Common and other languages, birds that could echo noises with remarkable accuracy, birds that moved their wings so quickly that they became an imperceptible blur. Those were all supposed to be from hot, exotic places though, not the cold and mountainous far reaches of the world. He remembered hearing stories about birds flying south for the winter; did they do the opposite in summer, flying north to Kalea to enjoy the... modestly warm sun? Or were there different kinds of magical bird here? Monstrous birds, mutated by the djed storm? Is that what had given these ravens their terrifying ability to tell others what he had said? Was that why the birds in Wind Reach were always watching him with their piercing eyes? Were they spying on him?

The bundle of fluff that Zhol had been peering at suddenly exploded into a flurry of flapping and screeching that rattled the cage that contained it. Zhol recoiled away, the sudden motion propelling him a step backwards, and dragging Khara off-balance. He managed to stop himself, and Khara's arms wrapped around his body stopped her from falling; it did nothing to stop the sheepish look from forming on his blushing face.

"I thought it was only the eagles that were magical," he said timidly, trying to push past the fact that he had been startled by what he could now see was a baby owl. Despite what Khara frequently said, he always worried when moments like this occurred, that her opinion of him might be lowered. She told him that he made her feel safe, that he made her feel protected; but how safe could she feel when her protector was so easily startled?

"Do the ravens speak words when they deliver messages for you, or can they put the words into your mind the way that the wind eagles do?"
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What's in Store?

Postby Khara on April 29th, 2015, 12:31 am

Khara could barely suppress the giggle that tried to leave her, not so much that he was startled by an owlet, but his question in general. Magical? Well, maybe in their own little special way they might be considered as such but Khara didn't think that's what Zhol meant. She didn't consider him naive or anything like that, far less than she probably was about a great deal of things in the world, at least. She could remember when it had taken an entire night of conversation for her just to understand that a Strider could communicate with it's rider but not in the telepathic manner that a Wind Eagle did. She still couldn't entirely wrap her head around it but she was fairly sure at some point she had flat out asked him if it was magic that allowed it and he had responded patiently, but his amusement in her assumption had been plain to see.

"No no," Khara replied, her amused grin coloring her already accented words. "At least I do not think so. They carry small bits of paper or leather that had been written on. It gets put in a thing that is attached to their leg and then the person at the end removes it and can read it. They are trained to do this, not magicked."

She gently looped her arm around his and lead him through more of the market; though only after she cast one last look back to the display of aviaries and pointed at the fledgling owl and tutted at it disapprovingly. The way it stared back almost indignantly before turning it's head away from them left her wondering if it was used to similar gestures. With her attention fully returned to Zhol, she continued her explanation, hands leaving where they clung to his to wave about slightly as she spoke.

"But how they find someone, that I do not know. I think it must be something they learn too, but that is somewhat magic too, isn't it? All I know is other birds are not so good at it and not all ravens are good to do it, either." A small giddy idea came to her and she pulled herself tightly against him again, eyes looking up in search of his. "Maybe we can learn together? I can see if I can find a book in the Enclave, and you can always ask someone in the Aviaries. You are Avora, the Chiet who watch after the birds there will have to tell you. They will probably like to tell you, most people who work there are very happy about what they do. It is not so amazing as having a Wind Eagle accept you, or have the connection needed to hunt with a falcon, but they have their own special bonds with the birds there. I almost thought of doing it... "

Her voice trailed off and she tried to remember when it was that she had fully given up on the idea of working at the Abelu Aviary. Maybe it was the climb up the stairs to get there, though Khara didn't particularly remember it bothering her. What she did remember was... "They have an Earth Reimancer that lives there too, he was... Not Inarta, if I remember. I don't know where he was from though, he didn't talk to us Yasi much."

Khara wasn't sure if she was talking too much, though it certainly felt like it and she was rather thankful for a reason to silence herself as they approached The Woodworks. She had never visited the place herself, the craftsman that worked there always seemed stern and had zero patience for those just browsing, or lower caste members in general. Still, Zhol needed things from him and would no doubt end up intriguing the man with his request. Or, at least Khara hoped so.


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What's in Store?

Postby Zhol on April 29th, 2015, 2:07 am

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Not magical? Zhol turned bright red as Khara explained that. He knew about trained animals; or at least, he knew of them. Aside from the regular hunters in the Emerald Clan back in Endrykas, there were those who trained animals to assist them in hunting. Zhol didn't have much opportunity to spend time in that part of the tent city, but it seemed a safe bet that at least some of the hunters made use of birds the way that the Inarta did; but Zhol was more familiar with the four-legged, earth-bound animals that the handlers trained. He'd seen them in action, once or twice: seen the smaller hunting animals charge off into the undergrowth, startling birds into the air or deer into the open so the archers could make short work of them; seen the larger ones acting in packs, employing the same sort of strategies that the glassbeaks used to take down prey. It seemed obvious that training a raven was more likely than it being magically telepathic; but then Wind Reach was a weird place at times, and Zhol had invested a lot of effort into keeping his mind as permanently open to the unusual and unfamiliar as possible.

He listened quietly and intently as Khara spoke about the aviaries. He'd heard her mention them before, but it had only ever been something that she spoke of on the way to some other topic. Every passing mention had the same two traits: obvious passion and enthusiasm for the aviaries and what was done there; and the subtle hesitation that let Zhol knew there was more to be said, and that he would have to wait for another time to hear it. As usual, he didn't press, but made a mental note in large letters to find out more. Perhaps it was as simple as a lament for a path not travelled; whatever it was, buried amongst that information might be a way to bring a smile to Khara's face, and if there was Zhol was determined to find out about it, and exploit it for all it was worth.

He let her finish her tirade of words before pulling her towards him a little, enough to kiss her forehead without disrupting their walking too much. Khara often apologised for how much she spoke, and for how her words and thoughts ran away with her, but Zhol loved it. Khara's enthusiasm never failed to bring a smile to his face; and even without it, the sound of her voice was something he would happily listen to constantly for every waking hour of the day. "I would like that," he said quietly, once he was sure Khara had finished. "Learning more about birds, I mean. Not because they are important to Wind Reach, but -"

He stopped as they reached the market stall, and took the opportunity to turn and face her, letting his gentle but persistent smile occupy a little more of his face. "I like the way you smile when you talk about them. Anything that makes you happy that way... I want to know about it."

Zhol's eyes met with Khara's, and it became one of those moments where he felt himself pulled helplessly in, the rest of the world fading away as he peered into her heart-melting amber orbs. He could happily stay like this for hours, days even, doing nothing but studying the patterns and textures, watching the way her irises shifted ever so slightly as the light changed, admiring the way her eyes twitched ever so slightly back and forth as she did the exact same to his.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world wasn't particularly happy about being ignored. "Oi!" Zhol felt the cloth strike the side of his head before tumbling to the ground beside him, catching a faint whiff of whatever oil or wax or varnish it was soaked with. An eyebrow raised, he turned his head slowly towards where the rag had originated, his confused gaze meeting the disgruntled glare of Billy, the surly carpenter standing sentry behind The Woodworks stall.

Billy's scowl deepened as Zhol looked at him. "You have two choices," he grumbled, his arms folding grumpily across slender chest. "You can stand there and buy something, or you can petch off."

Zhol's expression didn't falter, and for a few moments neither did his gaze. When his eyes shifted away, it wasn't a retreat, but rather a refocus, on the fabric projectile that the carpenter had thrown at him. The hand that Khara clung to shifted slightly - though not enough to dislodge her hold - and gripped the top of his scabbard, allowing Zhol to reach over with his left hand and draw his sword in a slow, steady motion. His movements remained leisurely as he lowered the sword's point to the ground and skewered the cloth, advancing a step towards the stall before presenting the rag back to it's owner, the sword by sheer coincidence ending up aimed squarely at Billy's chest.

He waited for the carpenter to snatch the cloth free before he aimed the broadsword away, setting it down on the stall with a satisfying clunk. "I need an replica made out of hardwood, to use as a training sword," he said simply. It hadn't taken Zhol long to get a read on the man; he was stubborn and surly, and also impatient. Such people weren't the ones you wasted time conversing with, or trying to ingratiate yourself to; you stated your business, as succinctly as possible, and then you escaped with as much expedience as you could manage.

Billy peered at the sword, poking at the decorative knotwork that adorned the hilt. "That's awful fancy," he replied. His words came out in an odd accent, thicker and more stilted than Khara's; the way his lip curled in disgust afterwards suggested just how happy he was about being provoked into speaking common. "That'll cost you."

Determined to start as he meant to go on, and not let himself be pushed around by a merchant, Zhol stood his ground. "The pattern doesn't matter. As long as there's a basket to protect my hand, as long as these -" He gestured to the crosspieces that stretched out from the hilt, curling upwards at the ends. "- are big enough to catch a sword, and as long as the blade is the right length, you can make this as simple as you need to."

The last choice of words had been deliberate; what Billy had tried to use as a precedent to hike up the price, Zhol had twisted into a challenge, turning any claims of difficulty that the merchant might make into an inadvertent admission of his inadequacy as a craftsman. Zhol might not have had much skill or experience conversing with merchants, but he had been born into the Ruby Clan; the formative years of his life had been spent surrounded by craftsmen of almost every variation. He might not have had the talent to be one of them, but he had paid attention to how they acted and behaved; he knew how stubbornly proud they could be, and how large the ego could grow on someone whose livelihood depended on achieving precision and perfection each and every time.

Billy let out a grunt that sounded almost like surrender. "I'm going to charge you ten pinions," he growled. He didn't even attempt to disguise the fact that he was charging Zhol more than he might have charged someone else; but ten pinions wasn't unreasonable. Wood was used sparingly in Wind Reach, and hardwood had to be harvested at Thunder Bay and carried up the hill: everything at higher altitudes was softwood - a poor choice for a training sword - and even those pines didn't begin to grow until a long way lower than the Sanikas Gates. Also, while the sword was - all things considered - a relatively simple object to craft, it was far less familiar to the carpenter than a talon sword would be; practised hands could move swiftly across a familiar design, whereas careful and concentrating hands usually moved at a slower pace.

"That seems reasonable," Zhol agreed, and for the next few moments the two Avora stood there in silence, continuing to size each other up, neither one prepared to back down. It was Zhol who broke the silence, his eyebrows climbing as he asked the obvious question. "Are you going to take some measurements," he asked, "Or are you planning on staring at me until you manage to read my mind?"

The scowl returned full force, and it almost looked as if Billy was going to unleash some sort of retort, but Zhol silenced him by tugging the bag of pinions from his belt, and counting out the agreed upon ten. Grudgingly, the carpenter grabbed his measure and began scribbling down the sword's dimensions on a crudely drawn sketch.

Zhol left him to it, taking the opportunity to turn back to Khara. As usual, the instant he saw her again he was overcome with the urge to kiss her; but while he would normally have tried to hold it at bay, he allowed himself to indulge it completely, threading his fingers into her hair as he drew her into a long and deep passionate kiss, satisfying his burning wants; the fact that it would irritate the carpenter was just an added bonus.
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What's in Store?

Postby Khara on May 1st, 2015, 12:34 am

The mental war played between the two Avora was entirely beyond her. She'd never ever thought of Zhol as craven, but she hadn't really expected him to stand up to the grumpy carpenter in that sort of manner, either. Khara wasn't a violent person, and so the usual way of boisterous threats and shouts that most Inarta seemed to use to assert themselves among their peers seemed overly brutish; frightening to someone like her, for certain, but didn't necessarily take a lot of intelligence to pull off. Solving something with a fist was easy if you were the biggest and the strongest, she guessed. What Zhol and Billy had engaged in was different, though, as if challenging the other to prove their inferiority with either a harsh outburst or resigned cower. At first Khara wasn't entirely certain who had won. Though the fact the woodworker had started the task and Zhol didn't seem particularly upset over the price was a good indicator; the kiss that followed fully removed any further question.

As unexpected as the calm refusal to be pushed around had been, Khara couldn't deny that she found it unbelievably exciting in a way. It wasn't exactly pride in him she was feeling, that would have meant it hadn't been there to begin with, but the way Zhol had acted put far too many thoughts into her head. Not of all which were guilt-free, even with the anything-but-shy kiss that he had pulled her into letting her know that he wouldn't exactly have found them objectionable. She had always expected - should the need arise - for Zhol to come to her defense with steel and flame; but now he had proven his mind was quite a sharp weapon in it's own right. She probably shouldn't have been as surprised as she was, nor found it as undeniably attractive as she did, but there was no helping it.

Khara felt like she would never stop smiling as the sudden amorous kiss ended. What was expected to be a foolish grin, however, refused to form and in it's place was a demeanor that felt altogether unfamiliar. Well, not entirely. The demure smile, the slight bite at her lower lip, the way her fingertips found his and ran against them in a gentle caress rather than the almost desperate grasp they usually had…

It was the annoyed scoff that came from the woodworker that suddenly made her overly aware of all she was doing and melted the flirtatious mood away from the girl, thankfully only so far as to leave what had been the pleasant sense of skittish energy in it's absence. She clung to Zhol's arm once more and her head found it's comfortable place just below his shoulder as she patiently waited for Billy to return the horseman's sword.

She finally permitted herself to speak as they began to walk away from the booth, her voice leaving her in an excited way that was difficult to hush, "When did you learn to bargain that way? I do not think you need my help in not spending so many pinions anymore so much." Khara teased and tightened her grip on him. "Good! It means I can not have any responsibilities today."


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What's in Store?

Postby Zhol on May 1st, 2015, 1:49 am

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"You've met my boss, right?"

The chuckle that escaped from Zhol was partly genuine. When it came to interacting with gruff and grumpy Inarta, Zhol had been in training for such things since almost his first day in the city. His ongoing negotiations with Hansi to allow Zhol to "exercise the horses" on his day off; their discussions regarding how the horses should be treated and the techniques that should be used; how daunting it was to request specific days off, or certain changes to the work schedule, from a man who always demanded to know why he should care about whatever personal reasons you might have; Zhol knew how to stand his ground, more or less. His father had helped too, of course: it was hard to feel berated by someone when you had been raised to have too little self-esteem to knock down.

Partly though, the chuckle was a distraction, to obscure the strange cocktail of giddy, dizzy, embarrassed, elated, deflated, and a myriad other emotions and sensations that was floating through him. It was strange, he mused, that the aftermath of everything from fear and anger to lust felt so almost the same; perhaps somehow the same thing coursed through his veins after all of them. He wasn't sure if he liked it or not. It felt like the sort of thing a person could get addicted to, like alcohol; horrible to begin with, but once you acquired the taste, it could be all too tempting to experience it more.

The elation came from Khara's compliment, and the embarrassment too; he'd seen the way that Khara had looked at him after those actions and after that kiss, and was proud to have earned it and yet panicked at the same time, not sure how to react to it. Deflection seemed the safest way, parrying her praise with a truthful answer phrased for comic effect.

"The grumpy ones I can handle," Zhol admitted, with a note of humorous dark in his voice, his eyes narrowing as he peered through the crowd at their next destination: the weapons stall, with it's silver-tongued merchant who had parted you from your pinions before you even really understood what was happening. His hand sought out Khara's, encouraging her to cling against his arm a little tighter. "it's the ones who talk too much that I need saving from. They -"

He trailed off, the attempt at humour fading into an undertone of subtle shame. "They are very good at tricking me," he analysed quietly, his gaze and shoulders sagging slightly. "They tell me that I need things, that they will be helpful and useful, but I do not always know if they are being truthful or if they just want more of my pinions. I do not -"

A small smile was cast in Khara's direction; the one advantage of the way embarrassment drew his eyes downwards was that often it inadvertently steered them towards his sunrise. "I still do not properly understand Wind Reach, or the way things work here. Another one of the countless reasons why I need you in my life."
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What's in Store?

Postby Khara on May 4th, 2015, 3:19 pm

The beaming smile that had overtaken her diminished - just a bit - as she listened to Zhol explain. She wanted to toss some sort of quip back at him, a lightly teasing remark that would bring back their near uncontainable jovial mood, but the time for jokes had past; at least for the moment. Her eyes squinted ever so slightly as Khara regarded him, as if trying to peer through him or gauge something that wasn't easily visible. Her expression softened as he finished, however.

"I think you understand more than you think," she said softly as she held his gaze for a few ticks more.

A soft hum left her as Khara's gaze swept back towards the Hot Hammer as she tried to quiet her own hesitations towards approaching the booth. Her earlier toying with fate came back to her thoughts full force and all she could do was forcefully swallow as if it would shove all those feelings back down. Khara let a bit of a huff leave her, picturing herself forcing out whatever lingering ill feelings hadn't been stoppered. They both couldn't approach the stall with apprehension, it would be immediately noticed and that wouldn't do. Zhol had said he needed her, so now it was her turn to calmly face whatever may have been waiting.

"Tordon is not so bad," the girl said with a slight shrug of her shoulder against Zhol's."Or maybe that is only when he does not think you have so much pinions to spend. I do not think you need to act as you did with him as you did Billy, though. A different forwards is needed. You just have to tell him, 'no', but in a more polite way. Maybe say you will think on it and return to the stall later in the day if you still have money left?"

They slowed the closer they neared and Khara gently eased away from his arm but kept Zhol's hand firmly clasped with her own. A reassuring smile was offered and another small nudge of her arm against his was given. "Just… be strong but kind. Like you always are."


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What's in Store?

Postby Zhol on May 23rd, 2015, 3:13 am

.
.
..
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Strong but kind? That was a difficult thing to be, when the woman you loved insisted on turning your face bright crimson with her compliments. Zhol fidgeted, staring at the floor, stuck with a nervous smile across his features. "Not always," he answered back quietly. "If you see good in me, it is only because I am made to become the best version of me when I am with you."

Zhol did his best to push such thoughts aside, and to try and embrace the advice that Khara had given. Confident, but not confrontational. Polite, but firm. Khara said he could be such things, and so he would be them; he believed every word that she spoke, even the ones that conflicted with his own low opinion of himself, and he would not make a liar of her by letting her down. He drew in a breath, and let it out slowly and carefully, steeling his resolve before letting his feet carry him the rest of the way to the market stall.

"Ah!" Tordon greeted warmly as Zhol approached, clearly recognising the horse boy and slipping effortlessly into common for his convenience. "Our city's resident equestrian expert, and his beautiful game scout companion. Welcome, welcome!"

Petch, Zhol mused to himself, as he felt how effectively Tordon's warm and friendly greeting ate away at the defences he had tried to establish. "Hello, Tordon," Zhol replied; polite, like Khara had instructed, but deliberately plain and simple. They said that you should lead by example, and so Zhol endeavoured to do that here; to speak to Tordon as plainly as he hoped the merchant would speak in reply.

Tordon waited a few moments, as if he were expecting more from the horse boy - an attempt at small-talk perhaps - but none was forthcoming. His expression didn't falter in the slightest however, and the merchant took it easily in stride. "What can I do for you today?" A slight tug of teasing mischief crept into his expression and voice. "I don't suppose you've finally come to your senses, and decided to purchase a talon sword, have you?"

The merchant chuckled at his joke; Zhol offered a courtesy smile and a single breath of laughter, but that was all, his hand idly caressing the hilt of his broadsword as his unwavering gaze lingered on the merchant. He waited for a hint of awkwardness to descend, letting the silence between them grow uncomfortable before he chose to break it. "I am looking for a practice dummy," he explained in as neutral a tone as he could muster. "I realise that this is primarily a blacksmithing stall, but I thought you might be able to help me acquire one, the same way the archery stalls sell targets."

Whether it was the prospect of competition with the archery merchants, or the mere challenge of asking for something slightly unusual, Zhol wasn''t sure; whatever it was, it seemed to buoy Tordon's spirits, and launch him into a flurry of mercantile patter. "I can absolutely arrange that for you," he assured, enthusiastically. "There are some particularly innovative designs using chains and mechanisms to simulate -"

Zhol held up a hand to stop Tordon before his tirade of words continued any further. "I just need something simple," he insisted. "I'm not training to be a Syliran Knight; I just need something to help practice my technique so that I can defend myself, and -"

Zhol couldn't stop the way his eyes shifted to Khara, nor the smile that barged it's way onto his lips the instant she entered his vision.

"- the people I care about."
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What's in Store?

Postby Khara on May 29th, 2015, 4:36 pm

Things seemed to be going well. So far Zhol had managed to deflect Tordon's attempts at extravagance and the shopkeeper didn't seem too put out by it. The smile that Zhol easily allowed to form when he looked to her was almost enough motivation to root her to the spot, to keep herself visible as some sort of reminder - or maybe even a metaphor for - the more simple needs of the horseman. That, and it would have meant she didn't have to journey into the rest of the market by herself, nor would she have had to try and come up with some excuse as to why exactly she had to go off on her own.

The answer was simple; I need to check with one of the merchants about your… Not-birthday… Gift., though even as Khara thought about it she couldn't exactly make herself outright say it. True, it wouldn't ruin the surprise any as Zhol had no idea where she would be going or what she had to finish purchasing, but the fact she had gotten something at all was part of the surprise. Considering her meager plans and attempts to reciprocate the unbelievably touching things that Zhol had done for her back in Winter, keeping the surprise was all the more important. Of course… Khara didn't really know if he liked those sorts of surprises; but who didn't??

For such a simple thing, a lot of work, planning, and effort had certainly been put into it all. She'd managed to call in favors with the other game scouts for most of it - a trip to the Marketplace that Khara didn't have to make herself, a scribble that she thought might look right based on things Zhol had said, the drawing then tweaked and confirmed by someone who swore they had gotten the information from someone from the Aviary who knew. All Khara had to do was go the market today, stop by a certain leatherworker's booth, and approve of the final design and pay for it. It had sounded easy enough that it had almost skipped her mind until she had remembered and had started to look for opportunities to slip away.

Now was a good a time as any, and at least Zhol was occupied. If she was lucky things would go quickly and she could return before things were finished here at the blacksmith's booth. Not that luck ever really seemed to be on her side when she was within Wind Reach itself, but Khara was feeling entirely too optimistic that day to be worried about such a thing.

"See?" She softly whispered to Zhol as she nudged his arm. "I said things would be okay."

Khara quickly placed a soft kiss against his shoulder and gave his arm a squeeze of assurance. "You are doing well," she said, her words trailing towards the end as her mind rushed to try and fill in the proper excuse for leaving. It was no good, and no amount of squinting or nibbled at her lip were going to make it happen any easier. "While you finish here, I need to see about something. It is a surprise and that is all I will say."

She could clearly see the reluctance in Zhol's eyes before he even replied and it took a few more words of encouragement and a quick stolen kiss before he was appeased enough that Khara felt she could go. Another reassuring smile was offered in her final glance back before she disappeared into the crowd and left the horse boy to his own devices with Tordon. Khara knew he would be fine, they both would be and despite the tiny lingering shred of guilt, she felt pretty sure that the shopkeep of the Hot Hammer would be reasonable.

Lexi, however… The woman intimidated Khara on the best of days and that was only when the Chiet passed by the leatherworker's stall. Actually having to speak with her seemed far beyond the girl's skills but there was no choice. Khara approached cautiously, trying to take the advice she had given to Zhol and use it for herself; Strong but kind. She could do that, right?

The two words repeated in Khara's mind in endless loop, the occasional reminder to be respectful of the Avora woman thrown in for good measure. Despite wanting to not appear meek, the Chiet noticed the almost predatory way that Lexi looked upon her and was forced to be aware of the way her body language was projecting almost everything except the confidence she wanted to show. Khara opened her mouth, a breath shakily drawn in as she tried to once more make sense of the jumble of thoughts in her head but it was the leatherworker who spoke first.

"You're the horse boy's little canary, aren't you?" Lexi said with a small smirk, more statement than actual question.

Khara could only nod in reply and for a moment the Avora's eyes seemed to wander over the girl as if answers to all sorts of unsavory questions could be answered by just looking the Chiet over. A breath of a laugh left the woman before her gaze softened and she wandered back into the booth and pulled out a rather tattered looking book, the bindings questionable as evidence by several pieces of paper that Khara watched almost slip from between the leather cover.

"Let's see, let's see..."
the Avora half mumbled in a bit of a sing-song voice as she placed the book down and began to flip through various pages of drawings. Her nimble fingers moved too fast for Khara to make sense of what she was seeing, though most looked like layouts for various pieces along with their accompanying embellishments. "The sontav pair, yes? With the knotwork design that Tez came up with? So secretive, that man. That original mess I was given was near impossible to work with and getting anything else out of him was - admittedly, not unpleasant - but far more work than it should have been."

Once more Khara made to speak, to agree to the first part while her head was trying to figure out just who Tez was - not one of the Chiet she had spoken with that had helped her, that was for certain. And what exactly Lexi was on about aside from that she couldn't make much sense of, either. Before she could reply the book's pages came to a stop and the leatherworker grinned as her fingernail jabbed into the page.
"Here we are!" Lexi announced before spinning the book of drawings around so that it faced Khara, a self-satisfied smile appearing on her features. "I think it should be quite nice when they are finished. The design will be a little challenging, probably a bit more expensive too…"

The Avora's gaze narrowed on the Chiet and Khara looked away from the drawing in front of her before getting a good look at it and into the intense eyes of the leatherworker. "I-it's worth it. I can pay."

Once more Lexi's features softened into a smile. "Excellent. Now, as you can see here," she began while pointing to the various pieces of the drawing of the sontav as she spoke in detail. "The overall design is pretty standard, typical sizing as well since you didn't give me anything specific - you sure you don't want me to measure him?"

Khara looked up and caught the salacious grin on the Avora's features and despite better judgement and all expectations she felt her own expression shift from bewildered and uncertain to suddenly rather focused.

"No," Khara replied sternly, objecting to things the Avora left unspoken more than anything else. "It's a surprise." The slight edge to her tone was regretted and immediately fretted over - who was she to tell an Avora no to anything?? - but rather than having the leatherworker seem annoyed by the Chiet's shift in demeanor, Lexi responded with an amused laugh.

"Fine, fine. Keep your horse boy to yourself, then," Lexi teased and Khara felt herself blush in reply and fall back into a more typical nervous manner. The leatherworker's attention shifted back to the drawing and she jabbed at the swirling interwoven design off to the side of the rather basic drawing of the sontav. "Now this is what I will be imprinted onto the leather, it looks narrow here but the design will wrap around the whole thing," she continued as her hand lifted from the page and gestured along the length of the back of her wrist. "There's subtle differences and of course it will be mirrored on the other one. Like you asked - if your friends told me correctly - I can work in a bit of red to the design, again it will cost more but I think it will be worth it."

She paused and looked up to Khara, clearly searching for signs of any objection, though unlike the playful comment earlier it was plain that this time there wasn't much room for dissent. It was one of the truths of contracting the finer artisans, unless you were one yourself you didn't question them when it came to their craft and what they thought best.

Khara looked back to the drawing and tried to imagine the way the knotwork would look once it was stamped into the leather of the sontav, how exactly it would change as it wrapped around the curve of the piece. She wasn't an expert in such things though, and so instead ended up mutely nodding once more in reply.

"Alright then, that will be fourteen pinions for the pair and you can pick it up two market days from now, I think that's the Sixtieth? Yes that sounds right."

Khara had begun to dig in her bag for the pinions, flinching a bit at the price but her eyes grew wide and her head snapped back up at the rest of what Lexi said. The Sixtieth?? But she needed it by the fifty-third!

"C-can it b-be done sooner?" Khara dared to ask. At first she wasn't sure Lexi had heard her with how quiet the question had left but then the Avora's piercing gaze settled on the Chiet once more.

"Two market days is standard," The leatherworker replied, the warmth draining from her tone a bit. It was the sort of reply that was a nicer way of saying no, or as Khara suspected, a nicer way of saying if you weren't a Chiet then maybe we could work something out. There was no arguing against something like that.

Khara could barely register the soft agreement that left her as she retrieved the pinions from her bag and paid for the pair of sontav. Late. The gift was going to be late and she could have prevented it if only she'd had the nerve to go to the market on her own when she last had the chance earlier in the season.

That thought stuck with her as she wove her way through the others back towards the Hot Hammer. It wasn't marked by her typical sadness on the matter, instead Khara felt genuinely frustrated. The marketplace used to be somewhere that she loved spending her days off and if she wasn't such a coward - No, if she wasn't so afraid - then she could have just handled this earlier.

A quick breath left her, far from a sigh, more as if releasing the last bit of hesitation she was holding on to. A smile returned to her face as Khara quickened her pace back to Zhol. She was going to re-learn to enjoy the market and she refused to let the slight hiccup in her plans for Zhol's gift ruin that.

oocSince the sontav itself wasn't on the price list I looked at both archery gloves/arm guards and falconry gloves as a base - since apparently it can work as either of those things. Started with the 1gm price, added the 5x multiplier for "embroidery" since couldn't find anything for leather embossing but figured it may be comparable. Then just kinda tossed in the extra 2 for "custom" work and the drawing and all that. Times two for the pair. Hopefully that's pretty fair!

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