Kelketek, Xeones, Rhyis, and Renna escape the attack on Helio via the vixen’s airship, heading for the capital of Helio…
Rhyis looks over at Xeones while he talks, but he doesn’t snicker along with everyone else. The bat simply looks back down at his bag, seemingly fixated on his mail. After a long thought, he speaks. “So what now? Do we just hide out near the King and wait for this to be over?”
Kelketek nods, looking out over the land the group is flying over, “Helio’s the safest place is all of Loka. If we can get there, we have the best chance of weathering this storm.” He looks back at the group, “If Helio is not safe, then no place is.”
Xeones nods slowly. “I suppose that makes sense. Helio is the heart of the kingdom, yes? It had better be stronger than it appears, though; I only remember running into lazy nobles and bureaucrats, when I visited last.” Of course, there was also Essas, and Rador, and Netito…but he considers those outliers.
Rhyis sighs a bit as he looks back up. “Well, I suppose I could run mail around Helio for a while.. These guys just take prisoners, right? Nobody’s /really/ going to die?”
Renna somehow thinks that’s a bit on the optimistic side…
Kelketek frowns, turning to Rhyis, “That depends on who you run into and how valuable they think you are. You might be imprisoned, if you’re lucky. You might be enslaved. You might be killed for sport. You might be tortured for amusement.”
Renna sort of peers at Kelketek for a moment, blinking. “…they don’t sound nice, very.”
Xeones growls, and flexes his claws, crackles of electricity jumping between them. “Do these Advocates have no honor?” The tiger is a bit of a stickler, for stuff like that.
Kelketek shakes his head, “The Advocates see a concept like honor as a ‘tool of puppetry’.” He frowns, squinting out at the clouds, “They do value loyalty. But to anyone not in their area of concern, they give very little regard.”
Renna sort of climbs to her feet and… looks out the forwards windows, wondering what direction we’ve drifted in, and what’s below.
Rhyis flops his ears down behind his head just a bit while Kelketek talks. “We’re all more useful alive..” He doesn’t seem to be talking to anyone in particular. Evidently, life-and-death stuff makes him zone out just a bit.
Xeones grumbles something to himself, though he folds his arms, and stares out the window. “When will we arrive in Helio?” He asks gruffly, still looking outwards…but all he sees is clouds.
Kelketek looks over at Rhyis, “You’re quite useful to yourself alive, but are you useful to /them/?” He rubs his head a little, scrunching his face before re-opening his glassy eyes. “That is a good question, though, Captain. When will we arrive in Helio?”
Renna uhs. She’s not quite sure. “…I’d have to find a map. Where did you want to leave…?” Gesturing at the soldiers.
The soldiers look at each other, and then back at the fox.
Kelketek looks left and right, “Well, we could take them with us, or drop them off at Acre.” He looks to Xeones, “You have any better ideas?”
Xeones looks over at the soldiers in the cabin - he’d forgotten they were even there. “If things are as dire as you say, fox, then they would best be left somewhere they can defend. Acre or Helio seem good choices.” He’s just about to drop the subject, when he looks back at the fox. “What is your name, anyway?”
Renna thought we were dropping them somewhere ‘by the railway tracks’, if she remembers… There isn’t really room in here to carry a bunch of soldiers on an extended journey, such as to Helio, and it’d be really hard to feed so many.
Kelketek frowns a little, “My name isn’t important. Call me Vagrant, for that is what I am.”
Renna pads back and … sort of peers at Kelketek, leaning towards him for a moment. “…you’re a cagy. Very.”
Xeones squints at the fox, but simply chuffs indignantly, and looks back out the window. He can’t get too offended - the fox /did/ save them, but he’s just generally not happy with the situation.
Rhyis is a little too distracted to follow exactly what’s going on. One ear perks up enough to hear the pasu around him, but for the most part, the bat simply gazes out the window. It’s pointless with so many clouds in the way, but at least he feels like he’s doing something other than sitting and staring at his bag.
Renna doesn’t seem OFFENDED, but…
Kelketek looks out the window, “Anyway, we could drop these ones off near the tracks here, and they should be able to go the rest of the way to Acre, yes?”
Renna gives up and goes back to the front, taking the wheel again (there are actually two, elevator and rudder) and nosing the ship down under the clouds for a better view. “…I guess. We could run for a while that way. If we didn’t meet more guns.”
Rhyis turns back to the fox and tilts his head a bit. “Run? Why would we be running if we still have a ship? Or are you planning pushing us /all/ off?”
Renna turns and stares at Rhyis for a moment, confused. “…oh, you thought. I mean … fly. Whatever.”
Xeones shakes his head. “I do not think that is what the pilotfox meant.” He opens his mouth to elaborate - and then Renna does anyway. “Well…there you go.” He looks back at the bat, and his mailbag. “Did you have any important deliveries, Rhyis?”
Rhyis visibly relaxes just a little. “Oh, good.. Sort of. Yeah. Well, I have scheduled pickups. If there’s war coming I think it’ll be okay if I miss them, but I’ll still feel bad..”
Kelketek looks at Rhyis, “Many of your places of delivery may not even exist anymore. Or will soon not exist if they do now. So do not fret. You may wish to enlist if you want to do military courier work. Assuming this conflict is one to draw out, you may have plenty of work to do still.”
Renna says, “…the war seems to be very here already. Moved in, made a comfortable spot…”
Xeones shakes his head. “I do no think this war will be won easily. The Advocates fight with no honor, but the kingdom is not weak - and there must have been /some/ plan in place for this. I highly doubt anyone trusted the pirates.”
Renna didn’t mean it would be easy, necessarily.
Kelketek keep staring out the window, “The Advocates do have their loyalty, even without their honor. And there is only one creature who commands their loyalty enough to lead them into war with the Kingdom. You say that you think Leviathan may be a myth. But I assure you… he is very, very real.”
Renna sort of sets the airship into a relatively stable heading, following the railway line towards Acre, and then is drawn back, out of sheer curiousity and fascination and, well, wanting to know WHY things are falling apart this way, to listen to Kelketek. “…mmh? How do you know?”
Kelketek turns around, “Oh, I’ve seen him. But…” He looks to Xeones, “Might you know a tiger named Raziel?” Silly speciesist fox, assuming all tiggies know each other.
Rhyis winces a bit and folds his ears back down again.. Then back up when he hears Raziel’s name. “I did! He helped me do stuff! What about him? …He’s not Leviathan, is he?”
Xeones stares. /Stares/, at the fox. “I know him,” he replies curtly. “He is my /cousin/.” A fact that Xeones seems none too pleased about, from the way his tail twitches irritatedly. “How do you know the Betrayer?”
Kelketek frowns a little, “Betrayer? He seemed like a perfectly nice fellow when I met him.” The fox swishes his tail, leaning back, “I met him in Muon one day. He saw Leviathan, too. You could ask him about it.”
Renna peers from one to the other to the third. “…I never met him?”
Xeones grunts, “His betrayal was one of our clan, a long time ago. Suffice to say, he and his parents abandoned out way of life, and such transgressions are not taken lightly.” Pondering what the fox said for a moment, he seems to lighten up a little. “So you are sure that Leviathan is real, then? How? He would have to be generations old.”
Renna peers at Xeones, picking at a bracelet. “…I don’t see a wrong…” She shrugs. “But I’m not you.” And blinkblinks. “How do you know it’s not just … a same mask and things?”
Rhyis looks over at Kelketek. “Yeah, that’s what I always thought it was, if anything. Just a costume. Maybe the same family wears it over the years..”
Kelketek mms, and shrugs, “It could be, but I don’t hear of Leviathan having family. An inner circle whose members die out each generation, yes, but not a family.”
Xeones tilts his head. “How can magic be used in such a way? I have only ever seen magic control the elements, sustaining a life is beyond it!” The tiger looks /very/ confused.
Rhyis shrugs and lifts his ears up a bit. “Close enough, foxthing.” The bat turns towards Xeones and lifts a wing. “Er, well.. A few people I know have been doing research on that.. No progress. The opposite of progress, really. But, er, still. Some people.”
Kelketek frowns, sighing, “I’m not sure how it could be done. Either Leviathan is a grand trick, or he really is something special. Just the same, the legends speak of him, and he has ruled Esquemelin for perhaps even longer than the Monarchy has ruled Loka, and I know he lives today.”
Renna sort of leans against the wall, staring out the opposite (small) window. She’s not sure what to think of all this…
Xeones sighs, and shakes his head. “Well…a commanding leader can only get you so far. Surely they do not have the resources to keep up the assault for long? Esquemelin is but one island, Loka is an entire kingdom!”
Kelketek looks out the window again. “Esquemelin is not all they have. You do not know of the Other Thaw.”
Renna starts for a moment and blinks. Blink. … Blinkblink. “There’s… /another/ live place?”
Rhyis headtilts more. Not to an insane degree, but it’s noticeable. “Beyond the Whitemarch? Do you think they’ll pay a premium for extra-extra-extra long-distance mail?” Of course, that’s all that’s on the bat’s mind..
Kelketek waggles a paw, “Not so much Beyond it. But in it, much as we are. Another place no longer so frozen, lush and green like we are.”
Renna asks, “…how do you know all this?”
Xeones blinks a few times in disbelief. “But how? Where? When was this place discovered?” The cat’s curiosity is getting the better of him already. “What brought it about?”
Kelketek leans against the wall of the airship, “Ten years ago. It is to the southeast, if I recall. The Advocates got there first. The King couldn’t take it once they had. The military got more funding after that.” He chuckles.
Rhyis tilts his head the other way. In reality, that straightens his head. “So that’s where all the forces are coming from?” Suddenly, despair starts covering the bat’s face. “… Helio isn’t going to stand is it..?”
Kelketek looks to Rhyis, “It’s where much of it is coming from.” He thinks on this, “It’s not so clear-cut. They have more numbers than we might expect, and may even have some very powerful weapons, but even with all of that, Helio is a very powerful stronghold. It will not crumble easily, if it does.”
Renna sort of slides down and sits against the wall, wrapping her arms around her knees, head on one side. “…it’s…all big, very. Very large.”
Xeones shakes his head. “And of course, most of the troops do not know this. They will be just as confused as we are…” He looks back to Kel. “Who all does know of this Other Thaw? How do /you/ know?”
Kelketek places his paw against the window, “A vagrant moves around. He’s not heard but he hears things. He’s not seen but he sees things. Believe me or do not, but it is there.”
Renna glances over at the soldiers to see if they’re listening. “And what then? Hide in Helio? What …?”
The soldiers just look kinda lost, though one of them pipes up, “This seems like a bit of a stretch to me… And.. uh… how long until we’re at the tracks?”
Kelketek looks to Renna, “Helio’s where we’ll go, sure. And if it’s not safe there, it’s not safe anywhere. Better to be in the safest place, even if that place will be hit, than the place that isn’t safe at all.”
Renna’d thought we were tracing the tracks towards Acre, not wanting them to starve walking. She… stares out the window. “…you could hide. Off in Sastra.”
Rhyis earflops a little again. “Why are they attacking, anyway? If we’re so far away from each other and all..” The bat looks back out the window and squints off in the distance. Hopefully nothing’s following them..
Renna comes up next to Kelketek and puts a paw on the window too for a moment, looking down at the railway if we can see it yet. “They need to break the track. If the advocates found a train…”
Xeones isn’t sure what to do with the soldiers. “Why do we not ask them? They are men of honor. Where do you wish to fight? Or will you turn with your tails between your legs?” The tiger turns back to Rhyis, his tone a little less gruff. “Clearly, they were not content living with what they had. They want all of Loka.”
Kelketek turns around, looking to Rhyis, “That’s the part I do not quite understand. But what I have heard, and find odd, is that ‘Leviathan wishes to reunite with his brother Dozakh.’” He frowns, “A ludicrous idea. But it would explain their desire to take Helio.”
The soldiers get a bit of an angry face, one of them piping up, “We saw Leviathan’s men take our city. Acre is doubtless next. Drop us off there, and we’ll do what we can.”
Rhyis turns back to Xeones and lifts an ear. “I think Loka’s just this place.. What do we call things now that we know this stu — Wait, what?” Rhyis turns to Kelketek and tilts his head. “Seriously? Why can’t they like, meet in the middle and leave us out of it?”
Kelketek gestures outward to where he thinks Helio is, not that he has much of an aerial sense, “Because Dozakh is trapped under the Gaokerena Tree, behind the Helldoor, bound in chains, where Skanda put him all that time ago. So he’ll have to be… liberated.”
Xeones sits in shocked silence. “Leviathan wishes to take Helio to release /Dozakh Zulm/?” The tiger can’t wrap his mind around it. “That /cannot/ be it. No creature could be that monumentally stupid, as to release the /demon/!”
Rhyis sits up a bit and quirks his ears. “Pardon my ignorance, but I’m not very educated on these creatures.. If a demon’s being held in such a secure prison, why not simply let Leviathan find him and shut the door behind him?”
Renna glances at the soldiers for a moment, nodding, shrugging, she can drop them by the tracks. (How far would that crossing be anyway? How far would we be from it if we dropped them after a few hours?) But then she’s distracted by all this. The fox doesn’t really know quite what to think… She goes back to sitting against the wall.
Kelketek looks to Rhyis, “That’s… no, that… Leviathan’s intent on busting him out, if that story is true. He’s not going to just waltz in while we close, relock the ancient locks, rebind the chains and all that. He’ll probably do whatever he can to blow the door off. That’s probably the only way to do it, too, with how old it is.”
Xeones stares into space, trying to think all this through. “If Dozakh is released…” He’s never seriously considered it. Few people alive probably have. “If he is released, will we wind up like the Svargans?”
Kelketek chews his lip. “We might. I suppose our only hope if he were released is seeing if we can talk him out of destroying everything and letting his imprisonment for eons be water under the bridge.”
Rhyis stares at Kelketek for a few seconds. “Okay, so, we buy him a card and if that doesn’t work, we hit him with a hammer in the back of the head and hope he forgets?” Obviously, the bat doesn’t quite understand how severe things are yet.
Renna sort of dips the craft down after a while, when we’re close enough, throttling down a bit and letting us angle down nearer the ground, a paw on the elevator wheel, watching our shadow. She’d slow to a drift, maybe throw out an anchor if there’s too much wind, and let the soldiers off there, hopefully with not too far to go, or even in sight of the city itself. (Or right by it? We don’t really have any business there, do we?)
Not too far from it, but not too close. Acre does appear to be very busy as they prepare and anticipate a possible assault. The soldiers disembark, thanking you, and still a bit confused. As the group of you lift off, one of them eyes the fox a little, and squints, “Holy shit, that’s—” And then a gust of wind cuts him off as you fly off into the air.
Xeones flits his ears as they take back off, but the soldier’s voice is lost in the wind. Drat. He would have liked some more details about the fox. Ah, well. The tiger takes his seat once more, trying to get some rest.
Renna … she heard that. Well, all but what the wind took as the craft was lifted and drawn upwards. Arghh. She pauses to lean in and squint closely at Kelketek for a moment before she sighs and walks back to the wheel… it’s much more comfortable in here, at least for her, without all the soldiers making it feel even more close than it already did with the passengers that remained. She’d plot a course towards Helio, she supposes.
Renna’d have to get out maps, for that, likely.
And maps she has, that ready little captainvix! The heading’s pretty straightforward. Just go…. ← That way! And you do. After another hour or two, the fox’s eyes seem more lucid, and he places his paws against the window again, a little bit of extra speed tugging at the balloon to help it go faster— though not as extremely or dangerously as it was when trying to escape.
Renna would probably… kind of be vaguely restless, move around, look for something she could fiddle with to distract herself for a little while (once one’s on a heading, you just kind of have to hang around and make sure you don’t get blown off it.) She winds up perched, sort of, on something handy to sit on and trying to tinker with or work on something smallish and intricate. She did little complex things like this sometimes to sell, though generally she’d move around small cargoes, or passengers, instead or in addition to… Fuel isn’t exactly inexpensive, she dares say. Unless we have wood-burning airships. Aaaanyway…
Xeones tries to take a nap, as hard as that may be onboard a small, moving airship. The tiger simply doesn’t know what else to do with himself during the journey. Of course, the feline sleeps with one eye open…
Hours pass, and soon enough the sight of Helio is on the horizon! The gates are open, but if the sudden stirring within the city is any indication, they may not be for long.
Rhyis just stares out the window. It’s not totally clear if he’s looking for ships chasing them or simply watching the clouds and ground go by.. It takes him a while to turn around and look out another window to see Helio moving more than it probably should be. “Uhhh.. Should we maybe tell someone we’re not with the Advocates..?”
Renna dips, and angles the ship down towards the city, watching, uneasy… Normally she likes flights, but the extra passengers and all the strangeness have made her a bit restless, not to mention that this whole thing is a little overwhelming. She’d need some time quiet to sort it all out in her head, most likely. … She doesn’t know. Would a ship normally have radio? Is there such a thing as Air Traffic Control in Loka?
There’s only semaphores! Renna’s airship should have a couple of pulleys for signaling below.
Renna signals, then, presuming we should. Requesting permission to land, more or less… She’s really kind of uneasy, though.
After some hesitation, the vixen is given landing clearance, instead of permission to explode. That’s always nice! They clear a spot for the small airship.
Xeones keeps snoozing - actually having fallen asleep, at his point. The tiger snore-rumbles rather loudly.
Renna takes us down, then. With a little trepidation, still.
The landing is a little bumpy, as this isn’t a normal landing spot. It’s probably enough to jostle a tiger awake, though!
Rhyis winces and mmf’s as the ship lands. The bat tries to hold onto the nearest grabbable thing, that being the chair he was using before. It helps, but still gives him a decent amount of whiplash. Why this creature’s ever been given wings is beyond all logic..
Xeones is jolted awake, his fur standing on end as lightning crackles around his paws. Oh. False alarm. The tiger gives an embarrassed cough, and calms back down, looking out the window. “We are here?”
Kelketek nods, “Yes. Just so.” The fox pulls up his bandanna, walking off the airship, and tilting his hat down. He looks around, “We should seek the local inn. I don’t suppose any of you have a preference on which one? There are a few here…”
Rhyis raises a wing fast and shouts like an excited child. “Rampaging Meerkat! Er..” Slowly, the bat puts his wing back down. “Sorry. Seusur and I fi …” Rhyis glances around at everyone looking at him and quickly decides to go quiet. “Nevermind. Meerkat?”
Renna eyes Rhyis, shrugs, sticks her head out the door, carefully slips out, wary. She doesn’t really want someone to try and take her airship while she’s gone, so she quietly locks it… hopefully that’ll at least help a little.
Kelketek nods, “Rampaging Meerkat it is. Always did find that an odd name for an inn…” He walks on in that direction, checking to make sure the rest are following, “We’ll probably have to scrounge up some change. They’ll be filled up soon.”
Renna trails after Kel (she might have taken a small pack), a bit uneasy for the moment. “…..I have… a little.”
Xeones snickers a bit at Rhyis, but he remembers the place well. He encountered Seusur and Rhyis there…and Raziel, before that. The feline’s smile slowly fades, and he shakes his head. He disembarks the airship, and follows after the others - though it’s one of the few places he knows, in Helio.
The Rampaging Meerkat is just as you folks left it, albeit with a few more folks inside of it trying to get rooms.
Rhyis follows behind Xeones while looking around. Of the group, he seems to be the only one trying to get a sense of what’s going on around them. Both ears twitch about at any sound, giving off obvious signs to any onlookers that he’s a little on edge despite the apparent currently calm atmosphere.
Renna is also watching what’s around her, some. Glancing around. She’s a bit sensitive to whatever the atmosphere is, likely, and so many people…might get on her nerves, even a little.
Renna well, maybe we can get rooms, then. A room or two. She -would- like a little space to herself, but it might not be totally possible. She glances around at the crowds, ears flicking…
Kelketek walks along with the others, pulling out what change he has and handing it to Rhyis, since he seems to know the place well. Maybe he can strike a deal.
A rather surly looking badger is sitting at the bar, dressed in much nicer clothing than the rest of the patrons, and drinking…directly from the tap, it seems. He notices the group as they come in, immediately squinting at the tiger and bat. As he gets up from the tap, he wipes the foam off his muzzle, and growls, “You again? What’re you doin’ back here at a time like this? Rooms aren’ cheap, as ya may have notice’d.”
Renna slips her change (well, most of it… well, some of it) to the Designated Bargainer as well.
Rhyis squints back at the badger while taking the Vira in a wing behind his back. The bat holds his gaze for a few seconds before sighing a bit. “I know. There’s two ways we can do this..” Rhyis lays his other wing on the pasu’s shoulder and nudges him to face the other way before starting to walk with him towards an area away from the people he’s going to be sharing a room with. “We’ll all cram into one room and pay your usual rate plus a fifty percent tip. That work for you?”
Renna looks a little uncertain at that idea, but… well… she’s not bargaining, so oh well. She guesses she’ll survive, somehow or other.
Renna oh, she’s actually not in on the bargaining.
Renna keeps being aware of the surroundings in any case, leaning against the bar a little, glancing around.
The badger, who smells distinctly of booze, and…badger, looks over at the bat, a smirk on his face. “I guess we may be able ta’ pen ya in, bat. If you feel like forgin’ me another pardon. Those guards can be /soooo/ unfair, ya know?”
Renna picks at a bracelet, watching generally.
Rhyis ponders for a few seconds, then turns an eye towards the badger. “I’ll work on it, but only if you reserve our room for as long as we need it. We’ll still pay of course, but even if someone comes with a higher offer, no kicking us out.”
The badger gives him a winning, toothy smile. “Sure thin’. On my honor…” He snaps his claws, and shouts at a chipmunk behind the counter. “Lenny! Go unlock room twelve fer our guests!” He remembered something in his sleazy, drunken haze, at least.
Kelketek starts to amble up toward room twelve, now that it’s open. He could use some rest.
Kelketek is an old fox, with creaky strong bones and ancient rippling muscles.
Renna wanders up to the room too…
Renna’s a bit glad enough to have somewhere to lie down for a while, think, rest…
Xeones chuckles to himself, and heads towards the stairs. As he passes Rhyis, he chuffs, “Some things never change, do they?”
Rhyis ruffles the badger’s head and smirks before handing him the Vira with his other wing. “Any extra goes towards future nights here. Thanks for remembering my special number, by the way~..” And with that, the bat’s abilities to emulate Seusur to /any/ degree finally runs out. Luckily, Rhyis is already done bargaining. He turns himself around and starts heading up the stairs behind the rest of the crew.
Kelketek curls up in a corner of the room, pulls off his duster (revealing a myriad of scars!) And uses it as an impromptu blanket, and curling up to sleep, letting someone else take the beds. Zzzzfox.
The badger starts to growl, even as the bat rubs the top of his head, and he doesn’t stop until the Rhyis is gone. Oh, he is /so/ selling them out…
Renna probably won’t like that.
Renna lies down, though, all … unaware. Putting her pack under her head, staring up at the ceiling. She’ll probably drift off eventually.
Xeones shrugs, and takes the same bed he had before, on the far side of the room, opposite the window. He waves Rhyis towards the other, with a paw. “There you go. Deja vu, yes?”
Renna guesses she’s on the floor then. How impolite of you people! She IS the lady here. Oh well. She stretches out; it’s not all that bad. Though she’d better not roll onto her arm.
Rhyis sighs just a little as he walks into the room. “Quite..” The bat hops over to the other bed and runs a wing over it a few times as if he’s moving the covers around in some special fashion so he can sleep on top of them. Seconds later, though, he jumps on top of it, then up into the rafters. After swinging back and forth a few times the bat manages to grasp some sort of support structure with his feet and hang from the ceiling. Both wings promptly wrap around himself, along with his mailbag.
Renna ahs. Maybe she’ll be under a bat, then, instead!
Xeones snickers at Rhyis, before curling up on his own bed, leaving his sword propped up against the frame. “You never cease to amuse me, Rhyis.” Hopefully living through the greatest war in Lokan history won’t change him too much… Trying to calm his thoughts, Xeones lays his head down to sleep.
Advocate Insurrection (Main)