ST Tonidra and Normid settle themselves and the Circle around a low stone circle that serves the family of giants as a table. Earthenware bowls of prodigious size and similarly-sized utensils are passed out by Normid as Tonidra offers the Circle their choice of beer or fruit juice or water.
Corve takes some beer. He likes samplig different regions' ales, though it's quite expensive to do so from Brume. Best take advantage of this now, while he can.
Xar takes some beer as well. It's manly.
Carmine takes fruit juice.
Myrrh takes some beer since they might have some...odd fruits out here.
ST Normid takes some of the fruit juice and Tonidra pours herself and Kukulak water. Then the absent chef returns, bearing a large bowl of soup and several pots of bread. He disappears again momentarily to fetch spices and spreads, then seats himself next to Normid.
Corve clears his throat. He doesn't really know what kind of conversation to start up. Instead, he keeps his eyes on his brew, waiting for the food to show up. He glances at his companions, and takes a sip. Finally, when the food starts arriving, he speaks. "So... how long have you and your tribes been collecting sunspider webs?"
Tonidra "Bronze Hills tribe collect spiderwebs for many years. Longer then even Tonidra's great-grandmother remember."
Xar preens his crest feathers a bit with a nervous claw. "Tonidra's home is very nice."
Myrrh "Hm. How do you deal with the poison?"
Normid "Not get bit by spiders, of course."
Tonidra "Tonidra thanks Xar'rex. Kukulak is excellent house-keeper."
Kukulak "Work hard to keep house so pretty. Thank big lizard for noticing."
Corve chuckles at Normid's answer to Myrrh's question. "So there's no antidote for the poison, I take it?"
Normid "In big cities, antidote exist. But it very expensive, so easier just not get bitten."
Corve nods slowly and looks around, wondering if there are any rites or prayers the giants practice before meals.
Myrrh "Hmmm...Might have to look into that when we get into town." Examines the bowls.
Tonidra helps herself to a large portion of the soup as well as a large chunk of steaming, crispy-yet-soft bread slathered in green jam.
Myrrh "Mmm. What's the jam made of?"
Corve guesses not... and digs in. He's hungry, after all.
Xar looks at the stew, hoping it has meat in it, and takes a helping. It's not that he can't eat vegetables, it's just that they don't taste good, and they make his tummy sore. Stupid vegetables.
Kukulak "Jam made from fruit of the yab-yab tree. We grow yab-yab trees in village."
Carmine helps herself to the food and some of the bread, eating hungrily "What's a yab-yab tree?"
Kukulak "Yab-yab tree is low, ugly tree with twisted branches and red-black bark. Very ugly and hard to grow, but yab-yab fruit very good in jam and as candy."
Corve eats, finding the food rather good. He listens to the giants as he munches, downing his food occasionally with a gulp of beer.
Myrrh takes some stew and bread, talking inbetween bites. "Interesting that it grows out here! Must have a deep root system..."
Myrrh "Wow...a Yab-yab tree you say? Those are very rare!
Myrrh "They have medicinal properties you know...and they have beautifying effects...and you make them into jam?!"
Myrrh "You could make a fortune..."
Kukulak "Silly little man, yab-yab trees not rare. Yab-yab grow all over Bronze Hill Valley."
Myrrh "They're a rare wyld mutant plant. Your community is very lucky to have them here."
Xar "The Wyld is close to here?" He looks up, suddenly wary.
Myrrh "It would have to be near the valley atleast if Yab-Yab grows here."
Tonidra "No, wyld not close to village. Village special. Orchard of yab-yab trees grows in holy place, blessed by god of yab-yab trees."
Xar "Ah... good. I do not like the Wyld."
Carmine glances over to Normid, before glancing to Corve at her side, standing to get a little more food, before sitting back down a little closer to Corve.
Corve smiles at the conversation, looking at Carmine and chuckling softly as he takes another drink of his beer. Listening to Myrrh talk this excitedly amused him.
Myrrh "Could I have a few of these fruits? I'd like to study them. I'm a bit of a scholar."
Kukulak "No. God of yab-yab tree says we must not give fruits to outsiders to take away."
Corve grins at Myrrh. "Maybe you and Xar can go have a talk with Yab-Yab God."
Myrrh "Ah that's too bad. Well I don't know Corve, I wonder how many favors Xeth is owed in the region..."
Corve grins. "Could be any amount..."
Kukulak "No!" The muscular giant glares daggers at the two men. "Outsiders not allowed to talk with yab-yab god!"
Xar "We might make a new one."
Myrrh "Uh...alright Kukulak...
Carmine glances over to Normid again, as she gets some of the bread and spreads some of this ... yab-yab jam on it.
Xar takes a slice of bread with jam on it and licks it experimentally
Kukulak settles down, chewing on his bread and eating his soup normally once he's sure the men are done talking about the yab-yab god. Normid and Tonidra have not disturbed their own eating.
Corve isn't very surprised at the sudden reaction from Kukulak. The giants are curious... they're extremely friendly, but it seems to hide a very conservative way of life. A strange mix... at least, strange for people from largely populated regions such as Brume.
ST The yab-yab jam has a strange taste. Like watermelon combined with oranges seasoned with a bit of apple. It's very tasty and filling with a nice texture and coolness much appreciated in the Southern desert. Tasting it makes both Carmine and Xar feel more relaxed, happier and overall better about their lives.
Xar "It is good. Thank you for sharing."
Kukulak "Happy to share with guests of honored first wife, big lizard."
Corve looks at Carmine and smiles as he chews.
Carmine has more of the yab-yab jam, smiling at corve "You should try some..." She offers him the slice of bread
Corve raises a brow and swallows what he has in his mouth. "Alright," he says, taking the slice and trying it. He smiles.
Myrrh tries some of the jam, especialy if it's as good as he thinks it is...
Xar fishes the meat out of the soup and eats that!
ST Myrrh and Corve find the yab-yab jam just as delicious and happy-making as Xar and Carmine did. It's probably one of the better foods they've ever tasted.
ST Dinner is finished shortly, with most of the eating being on the part of the three giants, and the dishes piled in the center to be cleaned later. Tonidra turns to her guests. "Now you be leaving to go to Stzang-Ouol?"
Corve nods a little, looking up at the giantess. "Yes, we don't have much time, so it'd be better if we started off now. We'll be sure to pass by on our way back to say hello."
Myrrh "Yes the meal was wonderful! Thank you for your generosity!"
Carmine nods with a smile, apparently thinking a little better of Tondira and the giants after the yab-yab jam.
Xar "Yes, thank you. Tonidra, Kukulak, Normid and tribe are very good to us. We will return on our way back, if we can."
Corve says goodbye to the giants, calling the raptor and looking over to see the lizard bounding towards him. Jaks stops with a skid and bows a little, so Carmine and he can mount.
Carmine mounts up behind Corve, wrapping her arms round him once more
ST The giants bid the Circle good-bye and return to their tent complex. On the way out of the lands of the Bronze Hills Tribe, Myrrh notices something at the corner of his vision. A blurring that resolves itself into a formerly hidden passageway into a formerly hidden side-valley. Interesting!
Myrrh "Hmmm..." Points it out to Xar.
Xar "We should see what it is on our way back...but it might be the God's home. We should not bother Him."
Myrrh "Good point. We'll look at it later. Still, it just sort of...appeared to me."
Corve looks back at Carmine. "See that?" He signals. "We should check that out soon."
Carmine "See wh-...ohhh, yes. I wonder what it is..."
Corve continues riding towards the city, occasionally dropping his chin to his chest and taking a short nap, after making sure Jaks knows that he should listen to Carmine, should she want to turn, stop, or whatever.
ST The Circle travels at a good pace, moving back onto the red-glass highway and further toward the city of Stzang-Ouol. As night descends and then lifts, nothing else makes itself known aside from a few wagons bearing trade goods and some tired, dusty travelers on camels, horses and whatnot. The only interesting thing, in fact, is that aside from Xar everyone notices that everyone else has grown somewhat larger then they were the day before
Corve clears his throat and waves at Xar and Myrrh for them to glide lower, so that they can talk.
Myrrh "I think Corve wants to talk..." Points him out to Xar.
Xar notices the wave, and glides down to see what Corve wants.
Corve smiles at them as soon as they're close enough. "I didn't want to point it out until I was sure, but Jaks' pace is indicative. Have you three noticed we're getting... umm... larger?"
Xar "What you mean?"
Corve raises a brow. "We're getting bigger, Xar. Physically larger. I think the Yab-yab is what makes the giants giant."
Xar "Hmmm. Bigger and stronger."
Myrrh "Well that explains a few things...that kind of limits the potential.
Carmine "...limits the potential?"
Corve shrugs. "Not so sure about that, though. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean stronger. And frankly, I think I was fine at my normal size," he says, a bit grumpily.
Myrrh "Well who would want to buy something that makes you ten feet tall? Think of the clothing budget!"
Xar "Small ones of Xar's tribe, could grow bigger with this."
Corve smiles at Xar. Stillt hinking about those that exiled him. That's a good man... err... lizard.
Carmine "I wonder if it wears off if you eat normal food..."
Corve "Good question. I suppose we'll find out soon enough..."
Myrrh "Maybe. If not..well what's a few more inches?"
Xar checks out his limbs
Xar flexes his muscles
Myrrh "Although I wonder why her first husband was so homely even though he clearly ate it regularly..."
Corve shrugs. "Anyway, let's keep going. Come on, Jaks, pick it up," he says softly. And the raptor takes off, powerful, taloned legs pushing off. "We can talk about it over food when we get there!"
Xar shrugs, and takes off again, noting whether or not his wings have grown, before swooping back down to pick up Myrrh
ST The Circle's travel to Stzang-Ouol takes another several days but by the time they enter the black-stone walls of the city they are still two days early for the deadline set them by Grandmother Bright. The city itself is a bustling metropolis for the Southern desert. Considerably smaller then the port cities, Stzang-Ouol is still impressive.
Corve enters the city with Carmine riding behind him on Jaks. He looks over his shoulder and smiles at her. "I guess it's time to get back to work, hmm?"
ST The architecture of the city is dominated by white, cream, off-white and beige with a few bits of color. Most of the color comes from brightly-dyed silk and canvas awnings or tents in the various marketplaces of the city. The buildings themselves are blocky, massive affairs often topped with onion domes and thin, tall spires.
ST Guards wrapped in light but tough silken armor and chain headdresses patrol the streets, carrying weapons of bright purple glass.
Carmine smiles and nods, before looking past him to the city. This was the third city she'd ever seen ...
Xar is walking by this time, since Corve had advised him not to avoid the gates by flying over.
Myrrh follows behind Xar, the Revolution wrapped in a tarp on his back. Can't be too careful...
Corve looks at the rest. "I suggest we try to keep the lowest profile possible for the time being. We really don't want a repeat of Chiaroscuro, agreed?" he says, looking around the city. "We should find a place to stay for the next two days, and then find the ziggurat, and investigate a little. No need to give them more possibilities to surprise us.
Xar "Maybe... we make charms... and YOU sell them?"
Myrrh "Yes we aren't very good salesmen...although I still say that old man was up to something..."
Carmine "...That sounds ... wise." She did not .. would not .. spend more time in cells...
Myrrh "I mean he had those shifty eyes..."
Myrrh "And while we're here Xar can help me with local prayer customs. I don't want to be threatened by old ladies again..."
Xar "Grandmother Bright is not old lady. She is goddess."
Myrrh "Well you know what I mean."
Corve grins at the rest. "I think those are good ideas. We really need some money, anyway."
Xar "We should begin, then."
Corve nods slightly and then dismounts from Jaks, the easier to walk along at the same pace as his two companions. He offers Carmine a hand to help her down as well.
Carmine smiles and takes his hand, slipping down from the raptor to stand next to him for a moment, before starting to walk at his side
Corve sticks close to Carmine, Jaks walking along beside him on the other side.
Corve looks at Xar and Myrrh having fun and whispers to Carmine. "Let's go find a place to stay."
Carmine nods, looking around for inn type places as she walks along beside him
Xar finds somewhere quiet to determine what charms he can make from available materials, with Myrrh's help
Myrrh "Well this cats paw has a very nice resonance...very virile. For a caws paw. Hmmm..." rummages through their supplies.
ST Corve and Carmine are able to find the two most important things on the list of things to find: a place to stay and a place where they think Myrrh and Xar's charms will be able to fetch them enough hard currency to finance their stay in the city. Since they'll only be staying for a few days they shouldn't need that much and Myrrh's purse is getting a bit thin.
Corve looks at Carmine and smiles. "Alright, time to earn our pay. Come on," he says, nodding towards the store, charms in hand, and offers his elbow to her, raising a brow.
ST Nestled in the three rooms Corve and Carmine took out at the Salted Ghost, Xar and Myrrh are able to fashion several wards and charms of high quality from fairly inexpensive ingredients Myrrh gathers on a quick trip to a nearby market square.
ST And now Carmine and Corve take the product of their friends off to sell at the shop.
Carmine blinks at the elbow, as she tries to think where she's seen something like that before, then slips her arm through it. She hopes that's right, anyway.
Corve grins and leads the way into the store, charms in hand as he pushes the door open and lets the door close behind them, looking for the owner of the establishment.
Corve smiles friendly at the shopkeeper when he spots him, and walks towards the man, unhooking his elbow from Carmine's and approaching. "Hello there, sir."
ST The shop is fairly nice, white-tiled floors and walls make the place bright and welcoming. The wide, open windows keep the interior cool and airy. The walls are mostly bare except for a few small shrines to various gods of trade and fortune. The counter holds a number of minor, everyday charms and there are signs holding lists of other items in stock.
Seems like a nice little witchdoctor's shop, fairly typical.
Asst makes clinking noises from the back room, where he is rearranging the stock shelves.
Shopkeeper looks up from his stock manifest and smiles at Corve "Hello sir, might I interest you in a charm? Maybe something for the young lady?"
Corve smiles at the shopkeeper and tilts his head slowly. "Actually, I was hoping to ask you the same thing! We have a small selection of highly efficient and useful charms that we would like to sell you for the most reasonable price negotiable. I guarantee that these charms will, without a doubt, acquire you loyal customers. They were made by expert artificers." He produces the charms and places them carefully on the counter before him.
Carmine is silent, though she smiles warmly at the shopkeeper.
Shopkeeper "Hmmm..." Examines the offerings, glancing at Carmine for a moment before looking back at the charms.
Asst pokes his head out from the back room, looking harried, "Did you sell our last one, Janja?" he waves a slip of paper.
Shopkeeper "Yes I sold it! It's in the sales manifest isn't it? You need to count on repeat customers in this business."
Carmine bends over to study some of the charms on display
Asst "But I WAS counting on repeat customers... they're supposed to come in tomorrow*"
Asst "I could have sworn I wrote that down." he retreats again and there is the sound of shuffling paper and a papercut or two.
Corve smiles at the shopkeeper, waiting for a decisions. Hmm. "As you can see, there's a scatter of utilities to our charms. From fertility, to creating fire where there shouldn't be!" Corve grins, wide. "And if you're expecting customers, you may want to consider purchasing what we offer--it will certainly give you a wider selection of charms from which your customers can pick from. That's always a bonus," he says,
Shopkeeper turns back to Corve and Carmine and smiles. "These are fantastic! Where did you get them?" Picks up the fire charm and examines it, glancing again at Carmine as she bends over. "Listen, i'm trying to help these fine people! You should take a look at these anyway." giving the man a knowing grin.
Asst swears and comes out of the back room, looking sheepish. "I wrote it on the wrong one... "
Shopkeeper "What?! Again? Turns to look back at the stock room. Look at these while I fix this!" Storms into the back room.
Asst "Look at wha...oh... Customers!"
Corve beams at the compliments to the charms. "Oh, well! Actually, the artificers that made these excellent charms are with us on a short voyage. If you choose to purchase these, I can see if perhaps we can acquire more..." he watches the shopkeeper storm away, and turns to the assistant, smiling.
Asst plasters a smile on his face.
Asst "How may I help you, Sir and Madam?"
Corve looks at Carmine, and smiles. "We were just speaking to the other man about perhaps selling you some of our professionally made, excellent charms, which will no doubt please any of your future customers, such as those you are expecting tomorrow."
Asst "Oh, yes, tomorrow, tomorrow... you don't happen to have any of those nice fans that send a cooling breeze to a Lady's face, do you?" he peers at the charms, turning them over and inspecting them carefully.
Asst takes out a smooth wax-board and starts making notes, then realizes he has no stylus... "damn..where did it go..." he mutters to himself, opening little cabinets, searching the counter, and frowning.
Shopkeeper yells from the back room. "Damn it man! You put last months files in- oh wait there it is."
Corve looks at him. "Are you looking for that," he asks, pointing at the man's ear. "And I'm sure we can get some of those fan-charms for you, if you can assure purchase."
Carmine smiles at the assistant as he searches, stretching a little as she does, before leaning over and plucking the stylus from behind his ear.
Asst blinks, "What, It's not.. oh, thank you." he takes the stylus back from Carmine, and begins scratching down notes, complex formulae, and what you suspect might be a purchase price at the end. "You can make the fans, eh? Just a minute." he disappears into the back room, and begins a low conversation with the shopkeeper
Shopkeeper over the muttering. "They can make the fans? Well..."
Asst pauses for a moment, then exclaims "That many?"
Shopkeeper "The fans ARE popular..."
Corve hums softly as he waits, raising his eyebrows at Carmine and smiling. "Might just work," he whispers.
Asst brushes aside the curtain to the back room and comes back out, smiling. "Well, it seems we can guarantee purchase of twenty-five fans, but only if they are delivered before noon, tomorrow. And of course, they must work without exception."
Carmine nods with a faint smile, smoothing her hair out.
Corve raises a brow. "What about the rest of our stock?" he asks, waving to the rest of the charms.
Shopkeeper "Oh we'd be happy to take those as well. However that stuff seems more...niche."
Asst whispers something in the shopkeeper's ear, and points to the tablet.
Asst scratches out the number and writes another one on it.
Shopkeeper "Well...I think we're ready to pay quite the sum for the whole lot if you can deliver. What do you say to..." Glances at the newly written down number for a moment.
Shopkeeper Glances back at his assitant. "A moment please." Puts his hand on asst's shoulder and leads him a bit away where there's more whispering.
Shopkeeper "Well if you think it's for the best...and if the records are reliable." Gives Asst The Look.
Asst glares, "I doublechecked this morning!"
Shopkeeper "Well I think we have a deal for quite a bit! Especialy if you can get those fans in by noon tommorow!
Corve smiles. "I'm most positive that my friends will have them ready by tomorrow," he says. "Do you think we could receive the payment for these charms now, so that we can finance our stay until tomorrow, and of course the supplies for the fan-charms?" He smiles.
Shopkeeper "I think we could set you up with a enough." Holds out his hand to seal the deal.
Asst frowns slightly and looks up at the Shopkeeper, then shrugs. "Just don't forget to come back tomorrow, right?"
Corve stretches out his onw hand and shakes with the shopkeeper. "Of course not," he says to the Assistant. "Word is bond where I come from." Not really, but whatever.
Corve leaves the store with Carmine in tow after the price has been paid. "Let's go tell Myrrh and Xar," he says.
Carmine "...Remind me never to bargin with you." she remarks in a low tone when they're out.
Corve looks at Carmine and smiles, tilting his head as he tries to catch her eyes. "Why's that?"
Carmine lets her eyes be caught, gazing at him "Well, I don't know exactly, but it seems like you got an awful lot of money for those charms..."
Corve grins. "Probably. Frankly, I'm not even sure how much they're actually worth..." he shrugs, putting his hand on her back. "Lets go, Xar and Myrrh have work to do, and we should probably use that time to investigate the ziggurat."
Carmine lets him guide her with the hand on her back "We should yeah ... what's a ziggurat, anyway?"
ST While Corve explains what a ziggurat is, the two find their way back to the Salted Ghost and rejoin Xar and Myrrh.
Xar is relaxing with a side of beef.
Myrrh "-so I was saying I still don't think the cats paw is a creepy charm. People have rabbit feet and there are tribes that value yeddim test-Hello Corve!"
Corve reaches the Salted Ghost and lets Carmine in first, closing the door to their room afterwards. "Alright, boys, we have money. We also have a job... well, you do."
Xar looks worried, "You burn down shop?"
Myrrh "Another job? This isn't more floor repair is it?
Corve grins. "No!" he says, dropping the money on the bed for them to see. It's an exorbitant amount. "Twenty-five fan charms by tomorrow, noon, and we get a lot more." He raises a brow.
Myrrh "Fan? Like cooling charms?"
Corve nods a little. "That aim for a 'lady's face,' is what the shopkeep said."
Xar frowns a little
Xar "It is hard to find cold-things in the South"
Myrrh "hmmm...Well I think we can work it out. twenty five you say?"
Corve nods. "Twenty-five. While you guys take care of that, Carmine and I can go sniff around the ziggurat, so that we aren't surprised by anything once we actually get there."
Xar "We will need supplies."
Corve nods. "You guys can use some of the money we got today for that, it's the reason I asked for them to pay for these charms tonight instead of selling everything to them tomorrow."
Myrrh "Hm. Alright. Well I guess we can get to work on it. Shouldn't be too hard."
Xar "Maybe you should buy them." He starts listing off things they will need."
Corve shrugs, sitting near Carmine. "I said yes because I thought the more money we got the better, and we don't need all four of us there when we stake out the ziggurat and do a preliminary investigation."
Xar looks from Corve to Carmine and back, cocking his head to one side.
Myrrh "Sure if you think so." glances from Carmine to Corve. "Anything else going on?"
Corve looks at Xar, raising a brow questionately. Then he looks at Myrrh. "How do you mean?"
Xar "If you wish time to mate, simply let us know. You do not have to make up excuses." he says graciously.
Corve blinks, widening his eyes and shifting them to Carmine, his throat becoming quite dry. "..."
Myrrh "Yeah I mean we're all adults here..." smirks smugly at Corve. "
Myrrh "I'm sure Sun will be thrilled!"
Xar "Your children will be fine and strong."
Corve stares at his best friend and the lizard, and then looks at Carmine, and then back to the other two, not really knowing what to say. 'Nothing happened?' Uh...
Carmine is looking between Myrrh and the giant lizard. She seems to be deciding which one to gut...
Corve said nothing!*
Xar seems oblivious as to why Carmine is upset, "Don't worry, we have time. Do you want a Cat's Paw? It will help."
Myrrh "Oh it's just a little joke. I'm sure Xar is...just joking..hey we only have one of those until I can get Jaks to go hunting again!"
Xar "Jaks loves to hunt."
Myrrh "Besides, that last one was a scrappy little bastard. They breed them mean down here!"
Xar "What is wrong?" the lizard asks plaintively, "Why are you angry?"
Corve bites his lower lip, completely silent for a while. "Let's... umm..." he clears his throat. "I suggest we each get started with our... umm... duties, yeah? You guys... go purchase the materials you need to make the charms... and umm... we'll go check out the ziggurat*," he finishes, enphasizing the last.
Carmine nods firmly. Check out the ziggaurat. Yes.
Xar looks at Myrrh
Myrrh glances at Corve and Carmine again and then shrugs. "Come on Xar, let's go get some supplies."
Xar follows Myrrh, clearly confused and unhappy.
Corve doesn't move, watching them, his eyes narrow. He's not mad... just... well... hmm.
Carmine decides to bring his attention back to her by kissing him. "Now, are we going to go to the zigguarat, or ...?"
Corve blinks. He did *not* exactly expect that. Not that it's... unpleasant. He smiles. "Umm..." He clears his throat. "Business before pleasure," he murmurs regetably. "I think... I mean... we'll have time." He smiles at her.