Wide cobblestone streets bustling with merchants and throngs of people, the occasional carriage rolling past containing finely dressed nobles who peer down haughtily, children's faces aglow as they run through the crowds with toy airships in hand. It's another loud day in the heart of Phaland City, the floating continent's largest civilization and home to its royal family.
Today is busier than ever, as it's an Open Day, a chance for all those common folk who need to speak with the King or his representatives to do just that. Lines stretch from the castle gates and snake through much of Main Street, as many an annoyed or eager face awaits service from one of the rather overworked royal greeters. It is warm and sunny, though not uncomfortably so. Still, many of the travellers choose to risk a boisterous merchant's sales pitch so that they might stand under the roof of their shop as the line inches forward.
Amongst the farmers and tailors and perhaps every other kind of working class are a handful of misfits and orphans, lead by a rather scrawny boy with shimmering white hair and a compass around his neck.
Unlike most of those around them, these youths care little about improving business practices. No, they're here for something far more important...
...to find the closest person they'd ever had to a parental figure. ━━━━━━❦━━━━━━
Vincent was one of those standing in line, getting antsy as he slowly moved forward. He was going out on a limb coming here, but it would all be worth it if he could land the contract. His father wouldn’t be so pissed about his almost screw up with the contract he almost didn’t get. And Vincent knew he was going to tell his father that he almost botched the deal because of a blunder he made because of his fear of the power that man had. The young boy clenched the strap of his bag which contained the clothing samples so tight that his knuckles turned white. He could do this....he had to.
As Vincent moved forward, mind abuzz with worry, there was a young woman running around the streets with a joyous smile on her face. She was in the royal capital! And she would be performing for the king once he’s done listening to everyone who wanted to be heard! Annabeth giggled as she danced with a couple from her troupe, trying to release some pent up energy before then. The troupe leader was on the side at a cafe table with the rest of the troupe, watching and laughing along with them, all eager to start their biggest performance of their lives. Annabeth started pulling people in to dance with her, smiling and laughing as she twirled random passerby’s to the beat of the drum that one of the troupe members brought with them. One of the random twirlers was a child with silver hair and a compass as a necklace.
Anghel's visible brow raised almost mockingly as he stared down at the angry, sword-wielding child before him. "What are you, ten? I would've been happy to play guards and robbers with you if you'd asked nicely, but this is quite a rude way of going about it."
His playful show of attitude only seemed to worsen the situation, as Anghel soon felt the cold tip of the boy's ridiculously flashy sword press into his stomach as a pair of guards approached them from behind.
"Guards, seize him immediately! This is the wanted jewellery thief, Anghel Rosenbloom," the well-dressed child commanded, delicate features doing little to soften the look of absolute disgust on his face. "Resisting arrest is grounds for immediate execution, so I suggest you keep that pathetic mouth of yours shut and come with us willingly."
Anghel rolled his eye at the outburst, wondering how someone so young could have gotten that nasty. The larger guard placed a meaty hand on his bandaged shoulder, while the other kept her sword pointed directly behind his back.
"Yes sir, Nemo sir!" Anghel thought he heard a touch of sarcasm in their almost instantaneous obedience... not that he could blame them. Taking orders from a sassy emo child with a superiority complex was anything but dignified. In fact, the way this Nemo kid's pouty little face was forced to look up at him while trying to be intimidating was downright laughable.
And laugh, Anghel did. "Ahaha, you're Royal Guards, right? Why are you taking orders from this pipsqueak?" Leaning down a bit to look Nemo in the eye, he sighed. "Lemme guess, Daddy is some important noble and used his influence to put you in power so you'd stop whining."
Nemo did not reply, well, at least not verbally. Instead, he swung one dainty gloved fist directly into Anghel's jawline. The hit was rather painful, but hardly anything compared to what he'd been through before, during his... less than savory days. Still, for such a skinny little thing, this Nemo did quite literally pack an impressive punch.
"Last. Warning. Display one more act of insolence and I will order you put to death immediately," he spat, his slight frame trembling with poorly-concealed rage as he returned the sword tip to Anghel's stomach.
Of course, none of what he was saying actually concerned Anghel... after all, he'd just heal almost immediately, probably terrifying the kid and his little army in the process if he actually went through with any of his edgy threats. Beating them in combat would likely be a breeze, especially as he knew he could count on Fan to back him up. But to do so would only make things more difficult when it came to his plan.
You see, Anghel needed a new airship, and the one docked and floating just above the castle was undeniably the best model in Phaland, a one-of-a-kind machine that money couldn't hope to buy. Naturally, he had to have it. Stealing from the royal family would be far easier if attempted from within castle walls, and this included the dungeon. Escaping from it would be easy with his ability to simply manifest whatever lock-picking kit he could possibly need, and so Anghel had gone out of his way to get caught for a relatively petty crime... which is how he'd had the misfortune of encountering the miserable teenage captain himself.
"Alright, alright," Anghel said in mock-defeat, raising his hands a bit, "I'll follow you."
The teal-haired young man soon found himself paraded down a very crowded Main Street by sullen little Nemo and his guards, both of whom seemed hardly more enthusiastic about their work than he was... their dislike of the captain was blatantly obvious even to an apprehended criminal like him. Throngs of people waiting in line all stared as they passed by, gossiping and murmuring amongst themselves at the spectacle.
As humiliating as it was however, Anghel's plan was working perfectly so far.
Fan was watching from the nearby alleyway as Anghel got himself captured, all according to plan. She shook her head as he antagonized the young captain of the guard, growling low in her throat.
"Ghel, quit it," she muttered under her breath, unheard. "You won't be able to steal any airships if you're dead."
But she knew he couldn't resist his teasing- it was just his nature. And she should know- she'd been the target of his ribbing ever since she'd been unfortunate enough to have him save her life. Ever since then, she'd followed him into one mad escapade, one crazy scheme after another, and the man never paused to take a breath or consider the consequences of his actions beforeheand. It drove her mad. His favorite thing to say whenever she pulled him out of yet another scrape and asked irately if he was trying to get himself killed was "I was never in danger- I knew you'd come get me."
And somehow that would make her more angry and frustrated than all the rest of his schemes, his insane ideas, and his constant teasing put together. She would grind her teeth and long to punch him in the gut, just as the surprisingly tenacious guard captain had just done (although he aimed for the jaw, thankfully- punching Anghel anywhere near his chest would be agonizing, because of his condition).
She rolled her eyes as he pretended, completely unconvincingly, to have learned his lesson, and agreed to come along quietly. Ever unable to dispense with the theatrics, she despaired. As they pulled him up and lead him away, Fan took a deep breath, following them in the mist through the town. A nice, well-off place, if you liked that sort of thing, with all kinds of shops open and people walking happily through the streets. Fan gritted her teeth- she'd much rather be in a dark, muddy slum full of thieves and cuttthroats, or back up in the air; these polished places set her teeth on edge.
She followed the group into the palace, down several flights of stairs into the usual dark, dank dungeon that all such places possessed. She watched as the guards threw Anghel bodily into a cell, and then marched off, content to ignore him for the remainder of the day. Sighing, she stepped smartly through the bars and after him, immaterial and invisible.
"You certainly know how to make an impression," she declared sardonically as she rematerialized behind him, arms and legs crossed as she casually leaned against the wall, "don't you Ghel?"
Liz was positively beaming. Everything was so interesting here! The people, the sounds, the sights -there was just so much going on that it was impossible to get bored. Her eyes caught on every movement (which there happened to be a good lot of). She drank it all in with the enthusiasm of a child tasting candy for the first time. Her bright ginger hair was almost the only way to keep track of her as she dipped in and out of their ragtag group, peeking on one side of the line, then the other, then back again... Liz nearly ran into people a number of times, but -aside from blurting rushed apologies- seemed unbothered by the encounters.
A grin plastered itself on her face as young woman brought Hope into a twirling dance. She skipped a bit closer, about to join in when a flash of teal appeared in the corner of her eye. Liz's thoughts turned to a young man being escorted by quite the cluster of guards. She watched him for as long as she could before he disappeared into the castle, tilting her head curiously all the while.
Then, having apparently grown bored of people watching, Liz exclaimed to no one in particular, "Gosh, I still can't believe we're here. And we're all together. And about to-" At a loss for words, she gestured to their surroundings in general and shook her hands a few times to emphasize her point. Bouncing on her heels, Liz pivoted around to glance at everyone in the group -halfway expecting an answer and halfway assuming she would be ignored since she had been saying similar statements the entire time they had been waiting in line.
Omotholo Okomokklo Phaland City Streets Interacting with: The Orphans
The pitter-patter of a single set of small feet against the cobblestones mingled against the backdrop of footfalls as a grey cloak, hood pulled up over messy dark hair, bounced and billowed about the body of a young boy. Careful, worrying eyes took stock of the long, long line leading up to the palace gates--and that was to say nothing of the undoubtedly long line that most certainly snaked onward to the hearing room past the courtyard and entrance hall. If Hope had his way, the group would be there for hours, long into the small hours of the night. Would he make them sleep out in the cold? Well--he wouldn't make them, per-se, as cruelty wasn't really in his nature, but who could tell what the party of orphans' unfortunate lack of pocket change would make them do instead?
A spot of unwanted contact with the side of a pedestrian shook Omotholo from his racing thoughts, the boy quickly finding his footing as he pulled his cloak tightly around him. "Watch where you're going, boy!" came a voice from behind him, prompting the child to spin, slowing his trajectory just enough to continue making a small amount of backward progress.
He bowed, feet shuffling behind him as he kept moving, a brisk apology escaping him at a volume just loud enough to reach the man's ears over the sounds of the crowd. "My mistake sir! Sorry, sir!" he called, turning as he returned to whatever full sense of height he had, before setting off at renewed full speed along the long line of merchants and commonfolk.
Light breaths left him at irregular intervals as his footsteps carried him through merchant squares, past tree-lined avenues, down stairs and between stalls, all the way to a particular group of familiar faces in the mist of a bustling forum, the sounds of hawkers and the smell of produce mingling with music, idle conversations, and the smells of smoke and oils that always seemed to characterize cities of this size. He finally slowed, catching his breath as he returned to a walking pace (albeit still brisk), and came to a stop amongst the youthful bundle (who were, to both his relief and chagrin, still entirely older than he was). Leaning onto his left foot, he peeked around them, watching the motionless procession of serfs and workers continue off into the distance before turning a lazy corner out of sight.
"...The line goes on for hours," he said, shifting himself back onto both feet and tugging on his own shroud, "at this rate we're not even going to make it to the courtyard, let alone the crown's chambers...What are we going to do?"
Now, despite the boy's worry, Omotholo had absolutely no desire whatsoever to seek an audience with the king, despite the wishes and the enthusiasm of the others. Indeed, the idea of simply saying nothing about the line at all and waiting for their turn for the rest of the day before going home wasn't all that bad of an outcome. Yet, he knew that if such were to be the case, Hope and the others would simply wait for the next chance at an audience, and then--when Omotholo was fourteen and three-quarters--they would be back in line within a year to seek another hearing for the absolutely ridiculous request of letting a set of orphans commandeer an airship. Rather, it would have been far better for them all to have their dreams quashed at the outset so that they could all head home and--at least ideally--stay there until a loving set of someone-or-others found it in their hearts to move them one at a time from a house with many children in it to a house with--again, at least ideally--a few less.
Not to mention that, if they saw the king today, they'd have no reason to stick around--or so he'd like to hope. Though he was the youngest of the bunch, he didn't put it past the rest of them to try and tempt fate by sneaking into the palace after nightfall. And, though he had snuck out of the orphanage a time or two over the past few years, he had absolutely no desire to sneak into a verifiable fortress staffed with the sort of people who would have no quarrel with tossing the lot of them in a cell where they could spend the rest of their passing birthdays in musty darkness. Not tomorrow, not the day after, not next year, and most certainly, not today.
(Of course, it went without saying that he wouldn't have put it past them to try something silly the second the castle gates closed, either--but that was a thought worth ignoring for the sake of Omotholo's heart, if nothing else.)
This was not how Caspian imagined the day going. The sun was so incredibly bright -- he had been shut in the Academy for several days working on reformatting an old chart of the Eastern Isles. He squinted his eyes to gaze up the long line of peasantry and nobility alike waiting their turn at the king's courts. At this rate, it would take them all day to reach their goal.
What was their goal? Only to ask for a ship, means through which to find a long-lost companion. For many, a father figure. For Caspian, the man that had inspired his current lifestyle. In all honesty, he hadn't thought about Gramps in a year or two, being too caught up in his studies to reminisce his childhood days. But it was back at the orphanage that Caspian first gained his passion for airships and adventure -- although, that passion had somewhat morphed into something a little more refined, less chaotic.
With the ragtag group of orphans around him, Caspian stood out like a sore thumb. He was dressed in his Academy uniform, right down to the telltale blue cape that was wrapped around his shoulders. Most of the orphans were younger than he was and lived in far different walks of life. Caspian prided himself on being a self-made man. He had come from nothing, and now he was a top student in the navigation division of Phaland's prestigious Academy, where men and women were trained and fitted into airship crews sanctioned by the kingdom itself.
Just a week ago, Caspian never would have thought himself where he was now. His studies were going extremely well, and his work in the shipyards were allowing him a greater understanding of the inner workings of airships. But Rosa's letter had changed everything; she had implored his aid in the orphan's quest, spearheaded by none other than Hope. Caspian remembered Hope as Gramps' favorite, although it had never really bothered him. It gave him no surprise that Hope wanted to find the old man. But he was surprised that the search was being organized into something real, not just a fantasy in the orphans' minds. Perhaps they could actually succeed.
Caspian's reminiscing came to a halt. The younger children in the group were hopping around like the circus brats nearby, laughing and pointing out every little detail of the "exciting" Open Day. The student exhaled heavily, his arms crossed over his chest impatiently. The line only moved inch by inch; if nothing happened soon, he was going to be driven to madness.
"Gosh, I still can't believe we're here. And we're all together. And about to-"
Caspian seethed inwardly. That had to be the fourth time Liz had exclaimed that exact statement, or something just like it. He shot her a glance in stony silence, praying that the line would just get a move on.
"Stop leaving the group, Omotholo. Someone's going to step on you by accident." Caspian directed his icy comment toward the youngest in the group, who seemed to have a nasty habit of dodging in and out of line. The student knew it wasn't his job to keep everyone together, but he hated all the chaos and confusion of Open Day. He wished everyone would just be quiet for a few minutes. Or the rest of the day.
Wide, pearlescent eyes took in every detail of Phaland City, from its cobbled streets to the way the sky above seemed ever more blue than usual. Such a concept was truly ridiculous, but logic mattered little to Hope, who was so overcome by the emotion which served as his namesake that he could barely conceal it. Surely, the king of this grand continent would help them to find Gramps... after all, the old man had been a hard-working citizen and generally well liked, too. A missing person's life was far more important than business or tax complaints, so Hope was sure their request would soon take priority once they reached the castle greeters. Until then, he was content to lose himself in the sounds, scents and sights of the great city.
Being twirled around by a lovely-looking young woman to the melody of a nearby drum was certainly a highlight, and Hope's smile shone brighter than the cascade of shimmering snowy hair that swirled around him as they spun. He stayed and danced in the crowd for a bit even after she'd moved on to twirl with others, his heart feeling light as a cloud.
"Thank you, miss," he called out to her cheerfully in the soft, whispery voice that was so recognizable to his peers. Then, darting off with a quick curtesy (something he'd learned to be both polite and elegant from the many books he'd read), Hope returned to his group of ragtag friends and companions... some of who seemed less enthusiastic than others.
It was then the the crowd parted to make way for a mysterious teal-haired figure, who was being unceremoniously dragged along by what Hope knew to be royal guards... they wore the same dark blue capes as Caspian did, though the shortest one's costume was far more elaborate than regular military dress. They weren't what captured his attention, however... it was their bandage-clad prisoner who caught Hope's eye. This strange man looked exactly like one of the airship pirates he'd loved to read so much about, from his flowing hair to swishy long coat and heeled boots. Heck, he even seemed to be missing an eye! So these people really did exist outside of well-worn pages, Hope mused. How fascinating!
"Who was that," he asked no one in particular as he glanced from the enthusiastic Liz to the considerably less thrilled Caspian and Omotholo, "he looked so cool..."
As Liz glanced across the members of their makeshift crew, her eyes met with the stony gaze of Caspian. When did he get so boring anyway? All academy uniforms and stormy faces. She couldn't imagine that would be any fun. Liz was about to comment on it when Caspian, as icy as ever, spoke up.
"Stop leaving the group, Omotholo. Someone's going to step on you by accident."
She snorted, trying -and failing- to keep an amused smirk off her face. "C'mon Caspy, lighten up a little!" Liz teased, lightly punching him in the arm with a yarn-clad hand. "A bit of exploration never hurt anybody. Besides -if this goes well- then we're gonna have to get used to exploring, eh?" She jabbed him in the side with her elbow, causing her bunched up shirt sleeve (She had rolled them up to keep from getting too warm) to fall the rest of the way down her arm.
As Liz was shoving the cottony, lavender sleeve back up to her elbow, she heard Hope -with what she thought was a bit of a wistful tone in his voice- ask, "Who was that? He looked so cool..."
Catching his stare toward the mysterious teal-haired figure, Liz shrugged. Fiddling with the lime green scrap of yarn on her wrist, she hummed, "Maybe a smuggler? Ooh! Or maybe a pirate!" Her voice got more deep in an attempt and dramaticism. "Or a thief that got caught trying to steal the only medicine that could save his mother's life!" She waved her hand in an long, arcing, sweeping motion in front of her as if she was wiping away a small chunk of the universe and replacing it with her story.
Omotholo let out a stressed, slightly fearful moan, the edges of his lips dipping downward as if he were being lambasted by his mother rather than his peer. Still, at the very least, he could confidently (though, did he have a sense of that?) say that he wasn't the only one who'd rather be someplace else. "...Sorry, Caspian," he managed, clicking his heels together and bowing his head in formal apology. The worry never left his face, however, as he had simply turned his mind elsewhere yet again. Most of Liz's words in his defense were lost against his ears, pursed lips and worryful eyes now watching the long and winding crowd before them. The last thing that he wanted to think about, of course, would be whatever awaited them over the coming days if the king were to say yes to their inquiry.
Not that he would, of course, Omotholo thought, comforting himself, that would be ridiculous.
His attention broke away from the snaking line as the movement of guards caught his gaze, Hope's enthusiasm eliciting a nervous sigh. "He looks like he broke the law..." he replied, holding the front of his cloak tightly from the inside, as if the layer of fabric were the only thing protecting him from being drug along right after the supposed felon. The guard party continued on their way up the avenue, through the throngs of pedestrians and along the line of waiting subjects, eventually losing themselves in the ever-denser crowds closer to the palace. He was skipping the line--that much was certain--but something told the boy that he wouldn't be getting the sort of reception his fellows hoped for upon arrival.
"...We haven't moved at all," Luck said after rubbing his eyes. Thankfully, he caught himself before face planting on the ground since sleeping while standing was a skill he had yet to perfect. Nevertheless, not even the passage of time though the world of dreams was enough to put a dent in his current predicament. Luck was starting to wonder what the other citizens could be discussing with The Crown. Were they reciting their autobiography? Using unnecessary words and phrases to convey the mental constructs of their conscious that opposed the very concept of complexity; in other words, complicating simple thoughts. Perhaps the King was plagued by short memory loss and had to be reminded constantly of his living situation. If the group a few spots ahead of him was any indication of things to come; Luck was severely understaffed. Seriously, they looked as if they were about to perform an entire play for the King. The King..."that rotten snake...," Luck snickered as his mind settled on an image of a slob slumped on his royal seat issuing whatever orders he deemed fit for the day.
"I wouldn't even have to be here if he didn't close down my business...," Luck said while folding his arms and nodding as if agreeing with himself. It had only been a year, but his Odd Jobs business had become quite infamous due to the owner's wacky solutions to the problems his clients brought him. Cutting down an entire tree to save a cat, carrying a client in a cramped box after being hired as a body guard, installing a basement in the wrong persons house....the list goes on. "That was a nice basement though…"
"...The King will close down your business yesterday."
"How do you even-, YES ELIZA, I KNOW...I know. It already happened...also, I told you not to talk. I really don't feel like explaining why I'm carrying around a talking sword."
"...But it looked like you were talking to yourself."
"...Well you see, that is because I was talking to myself."
".....................But master...that is weird-"
After a moment of beautiful, awkward silence, Luck sighed once more just before running his hand through his hair. How exactly would he appeal to the King's better nature. Luck had only been in this timeline for a year, yet something told him that pompous kings were universal. Of course the King was not beholden to speak with commoners, but this could also be a parlor trick to avoid civil unrest due to less than favorable conditions...(like the abrupt closing of a gentleman's odd job's business.) Or a massive stroke of ego.............and the line was still stagnant.
"Screw it, I'm cutting the line."
Before Luck could commit to his self assertion he witnessed a young man being hauled off by some nasty looking guards and an...infant? However, by the expressions they wore on their faces, one would wonder who was in control of whom. He heard those ahead of him speculate as to who the prisoner was. For some reason, their blatant admiration for the turquoise enigma made him a bit agitated; however, he had his own beliefs in regard to his status.
"...Nay, that is a free man," he stated to himself softly as he looked toward the sky. He couldn't help but reminisce about a familiar foreign world from a time in his past.
Demetriosa fiddled with the sling around her back impatiently, feeling walled in by the thick crowds at all sides of the group. She tried her best to occupy herself, watching in amusement as Hope was pulled into a dance with an lively female entertainer, but she found herself unable to quiet her growing irritation with the entire situation. The bright-eyed, silver-haired boy who gathered them all here for this unlikely quest clearly had a good heart, but unfortunately that alone would not be enough to convince the king to lend one of his precious airships to the motley crew. Hope's innocence and enthusiasm were charming, a reminder of Rosa's own days as a child playing endless games of "pirates vs adventurers" out on the streets. Part of the reason she had even agreed to come on this frankly ridiculous journey was a protective instinct for the frail orphan and his younger companions. Even if their request was denied or the long line of people dissipated before they could even plead for the King's favor, she wanted to make sure no harm would come to children who were still unfamiliar with the ways of the world. The other reason she had joined the group was harder to explain. Recovering Gramps, let alone the legendary "World That Time Forgot", was probably a fool's errand. What was the point of going to such lengths to find a man who had voluntarily left them all so abruptly and without explanation? He had made his choice with full knowledge of the dangers involved, and had probably already succumbed to them. Still, a faint tug at her conscience pulled her forward.
Liz's exclamations caught the attention of Demetriosa. The imaginative girl was listing possible origins for the convict being roughly pushed through the throngs of people by the royal guard. "...or a thief that got caught trying to steal the only medicine that could save his mother's life!", Liz finished pondering, with a dramatic flourish. Rosa chuckled a bit. "Not likely," she said. "That man doesn't look nearly devastated enough for that. In fact, he Iooks to be almost... pleased with himself."
Demetriosa placed a reassuring hand on Omotholo's tense shoulder. "Don't let yourself get troubled. We haven't done anything worth being locked up for. Not yet, at least." She looked up at the line stretching out before them. Those at the castle gate bore a good resemblance to ants. At this point, committing an act of crime was a preferable option if one wished to catch the king's attention.
She darted through the streets with the grace and swiftness of a forest cervid as she made her way to her destination. She ducked past patrons waiting at the many stalls to buy and sell their wares, wove between pedestrians and their carts of goods, earning herself many choice words of ire from the market folk. She never hit anyone, however, though there were many close calls as she literally danced around and through the roadblocks. Her bare feet slapped the cobblestones as she ran, her patchwork skirt flowing like a flag around her knees. Her long, curly red hair billowed around her fair face like fire, burning bright as the suns rays touched each lock and lit it aflame. There were even leaves tangled in the strands that she was either too lazy to pull out or just simply didn't care.
Despite how much she absolutely hated all of these walls and streets and, frankly, all the squished together people, the day was beautiful. The sky was a shimmering blue nearly devoid of clouds, and she could see all of the airships docked overhead and floating lazily in the breeze. They spotted the sky like a resting flock of birds. And while she would have much rather seen flocks of birds instead of airships, at least the massive flying machines provided a sense of flight that anyone, including Evergreen herself, childishly yearned for.
Before long she came upon the long line of commoners who wished to seek audience with the king for one reason or another. And in her honest to goodness opinion, they likely all had something to complain about and for good reason. She was convinced all royalty and nobels just wanted everything for themselves, and the common folk had no choice but to abide. Shaking her head of the thoughts that could easily ruin her day, she focused on the task at hand. Hope and the others, including herself, had a desire that she was sure couldn't possibly be turned down. All that was left now was to find the group of said ragamuffins who she knew was on line already. She was just a little late to the party.
And as luck would have it, it didn't take her long to find her snowy haired friend. She was about to shout to him and the others, but something interesting caught her eye. Wild hair, and a wild get up, this strange man was being escorted by some guard and what looked like a child. A child who...looked like a guard? It wasn't long before they disappeared behind the gates. Skipping through a group of passersby who had also paused to watch and gossip, she slid herself up next to Hope and beamed at him.
"Sorry I'm late, everyone! Places to go, people to see, you know how it is!" Evergreen waved her hand nonchalantly, brushing it off casually as she laughed lightly. She looked to the others; Liz, Omotholo, and Caspian. She had just missed Caspian's comment to young Omotholo.
"Don't say that. We've done nothing wrong to warrant being dragged off like that." She replied to Omotholo's query, although that most certainly wasn't true for her. Stealing food was a means of survival sometimes. She wouldn't comment on this out loud, however. "He did look like a pirate though." She said in response to Liz's comment. "Did you see his heels? I could never wear something like that!" She wriggled her toes, enjoying their freedom.
Amaya | On Main Street with the Orphan Band | Tagging: Evergreen (@InTheSea), and anyone else here. Mentions Liz.
There were a lot of things Amaya could be doing with her life right now. Finding a good job, deciding where in the world to settle down and live, finding people she wanted to associate with—in short, doing something useful that the future her would thank her for. But sadly, she wasn't doing that. Not today, anyways. And not for a lot of days now. Amaya never thought herself the clueless sort, but upon recently aging out of the orphanage, that was exactly where she found herself—clueless. Should she move to a farming village, finding work as a farm hand as she had done in her early days? Do the familiar thing, that is? Maybe, but no. Amaya wasn't quite happy with that, though she wasn't sure why. Perhaps because, surely, she was far too intelligent now for that kind of work. She should really be a professor at some great university somewhere, or maybe a doctor, or maybe a magic expert, or maybe all of the above. But unfortunately, she was broke. That, certainly, was the only reason she couldn't do any of that. Also, she didn't have a magic ability. There was that too. Very unfortunate.
But, that was neither here nor there. Amaya didn't complain. She only acted. It was just that for a while now, her actions have been odd jobs performed in the town nearby the orphanage: a bit of cleaning, a bit of couriering, a short run as a waitress for a cafe that she lost after her choice comments with a customer that were not incorrect and therefore entirely not her fault, and the like. But that was not today. Today, she was here, together with her old companions from the orphanage, ready to inquire of the whereabouts of a certain old man they knew affectionately as "Gramps."
They didn't stand a chance. Adults that were not Gramps had a very small chance of giving them the time of day, and the king was not Gramps. Still, Amaya was in no way opposed to trying. An audience with the king, no matter how badly it went, was bound to be an interesting experience, surely.
"Heels are so impractical," Amaya remarked dryly, her simple response to Evergreen's comment about the unfortunate man being dragged away by the royal guard. Well, must be tough being him. At least it kept the guards busy. Not that anyone would pester them, though—Amaya doubted they would care about them. Even though, technically, her hands might not be as clean as say, Liz's, when it came to the stealing thing, it wasn't like she ever got caught or anything. She just hoped no one would notice Walnut hiding behind the bushes nearby...
"They do nothing to benefit walking," she continued on to anyone who cared. "I don't see the appeal. But how does that make him a pirate, exactly? Is that really indicative of his position at all?" And if so, why be obvious about it? Hmm. Amaya, on her part, just casually continued to observe the scene, before moving on to observe everything else, her fingers thrumming in place. She wished she had brought some wood or something to work on. This was taking a while.
Caspian was just about satisfied by Omotholo's apology, but the moment was ruined by Liz's smart mouth.
"C'mon Caspy, lighten up a little!"
"Don't call me that, Elizabeth," growled Caspian, a snarl rolling over his face like a wave of heat. "I'm not here to have a good time. I'm here to do business."
That could have been the end of it. Caspian wished that would be the end of it. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Liz jabbed him in the side with a sharp elbow just after punching him in the arm. He could forgive the first offense, but not the second.
"That does it -- Why don't you find Gramps on your own?" Caspian shot back with a poisonous remark, thinking that he didn't want to be here anyway. All he felt was a sense of obligation, as if he ought to find the old man as some sort of payment. It was like he owed Gramps something, but he wasn't exactly sure what.
Caspian spun on his heel, just about to stomp away. But he froze, his conscience nagging at him like an itch he couldn't scratch. You've come this far -- they'll surely get lost without you! Do these kids even know how to operate an airship? Probably not! It's your duty to be there for them! They're your family after all.
Caspian hated his conscience. It was annoying, pretentious, and somehow always right. He ground his jaw in frustration and slowly turned around again, glowering and looking like a volcano that was about to erupt. One wrong word, and he certainly would.
He crossed his arms over his chest again, steeling himself for another few hours in the burning sun. His eyes flicked over to look at Demetriosa. His gaze seemed to plead "How can you stand all these people?" Out of the whole group, he felt as though she was the only one he really knew. Their off-and-on correspondence had been the only way he would have known about this venture, anyway.
Hope nodded enthusiastically in agreement with Liz, as he too found Caspian to be terribly dull and pretentious most of the time. "Yeah, Caspy," he half-whispered with a giggle, more to himself than anyone else.
On the subject of the mysterious prisoner, Hope couldn't help but grow more and more excited with every one of the energetic girl's theories. "Ooh, perhaps! It could be any of those..." he trailed off for a moment, craning his slender neck as the retreating figures grew lost in the crowds. What Demetriosa said made sense though, he did appear rather sly considering his situation. "Maybe he's some sort of heroic agent from another island on a mission," the boy sighed dreamily as he imagined a wonderful and dramatic tale, "but whatever he is, I'm sure he'll escape! They always do in books, you know."
From somewhere behind him, Hope had heard a man seemingly rambling on to himself, before wistfully saying something about the teal-haired pirate (Hope had since decided he had to be a pirate of sorts with that outfit) being a free man. This figure also looked as though he belonged in a book, and was even wearing an eyepatch as well... how amazing, yet curious!
He waved to Evergreen as she hurried up to them, barefoot and wild-haired as always. "No problem, I'm just glad you're here now... this place is so crowded, it'd be easy to lose anyone."
Turning his attention to the obviously nervous young Omotholo, Hope then joined Demetriosa and Evergreen in attempting to comfort him. "There's no way that will happen to us, Omotholo. We haven't broken any laws here, and it's so crowded I doubt they even noticed us. Besides, that short little boy leading them didn't look very intimidating," Hope enthused, placing his hand confidently on his currently sheathed dagger, "so don't be scared... I won't let him or anyone hurt my friends!"
Standing proudly as though he were on the cover of one of his beloved adventure novels, Hope's smile was dazzling as he posed for his friends. Maybe... maybe one day he could write a story about their own adventures, how they found Gramps, got their wishes and lived happily ever after. That sure would be nice, he thought to himself.
Hope couldn't help but giggle a bit on how adamant Amaya sounded when commenting on the man's choice of footwear, though her and Evergreen did have a point... while his fancy boots were undeniably cool looking, they must've been quite impractical too. Then again, being able to do all the dangerous things pirates did while wearing heels only made him seem more spectacular to the pale-haired boy.
"He's definitely a pirate," Hope stated confidently, "I should know... I've read every pirate and airship adventure book in the orphanage at least five times! Besides, he's missing an eye... that's a dead giveaway for pirates."
The brightness of his mood was slightly tainted by Caspian's little outburst, but Hope refused to let the older boy's problems affect him. "Don't be so mean, Caspy. We're all gonna be stuck on an airship together soon, so we have to get along!" There was an uncharacteristic firmness in his whispery voice, as Hope hated nothing more than to see his friends arguing.
Interactions: Caspian(@handaboo), Luck(@LazyDaze)
Mentions: Hope(@spookie) "That does it -- Why don't you find Gramps on your own?"
Liz flinched as if she has been burned. A rare frown tugged at the corners of her mouth. Her lips parted, about to say something snappish -maybe "Already tried that." or "I did, pretty sure you remember how well that went."- but no words came out. Instead, she silently closed her mouth. He didn't mean it like that, Liz mentally berated herself. He would never.
Still, some small part of her said, I bet he doesn't even remember Trent.
She swallowed that part down, and with it her pride. "Sorry, Caspian." Liz mumbled, barely audible with a tone matching a that of a child being forced to apologize. While she spoke, her eyes locked on the lime green strip of yarn on her wrist as she twisted at just to feel the texture on the tip of her fingers.
Liz's smile returned ever so slightly when Hope came to her aid, but couldn't stop her thoughts from turning toward what exactly she did wrong. Okay, so he didn't want to be called Caspy. But that's just a nickname. Seems weird for him to be that mad over a nickname. The touching? Maybe he just didn't like being contradicted. Or maybe it actually was the nickname...
Mulling this over for a short while, Liz soon grew tired of thinking in circles. Instead, she glanced back at the red-haired man behind her that had been seemingly talking to himself -although, she could've sworn she heard another voice interjecting at some point or another. Without thinking, Liz tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention and asked, "Was there someone else here earlier?"
Annabeth twirled between people, causing once grumpy looking people break out into smiles. She was having the time of her life! And later, after everyone had seen the King, she would performing for the royal family! This was her troupe's big break and she couldn't blow it! So, even as she was dancing with those still waiting in line outside the palace, she was going over her lines and the stage ques that she would be using her illusions for over and over in her head. This performance would make or break them, after all! She saw the silver haired boy do a kind of bow and she smiled in response in after she began twirling with someone else. She danced with a few others before the troupe leader called for them to gather up. She went with those who weren't saving their place in line as a couple of them did have grievances. She promised to tell them what he wanted once they were finished since it was way too noisy where they stood to listen to their soft-voiced leader without him having to actually yell. "Hey, so I just got some...devastating news." He said simply, taking a deep breath before continuing. But that pause had a cold chill wash over Annabeth's pleasant mood. Devastating news? Considering what they were supposed to be doing later in the day...or, well, week, those words held nothing but darkness. And a quick glance around showed the others felt the same way. "Because of all the complaints the King has been getting, his mood is just not in it for a performance. So...his majesty has cancelled seeing our performance and has asked us to leave post-haste without causing an inconvenience for those who have waited for this day to get their opinions heard."
Annabeth's heart dropped. She knew those opening words weren't going to be followed by anything good. "But that's an inconvenience for us!" She protested, her voice raising just a tad over what was deemed appropriate for a public space. "We had this planned for months, refusing offers from other theaters and towns so we could be prepared! This was our one big chance!" "There is nothing we can do Annabeth." Another troupe member grumbled, placing a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. But there was nothing that could settle the young woman's mood. This wasn't fair! But she was given no more thought as the others headed for the inn they were staying at to start packing their things. She guessed it was up to her to tell the remainder of her troupe.
So she did just that, heading back over to relay the news. And they took it about as well as she did, and with their emotions all being voiced, Annabeth felt her frustration bubble up and over as tears streaked down her cheeks. She hurriedly began wiping them away, but found it useless so she just hid her face and silenced her cries as the others in line began ranting and raving to each other their frustrations.
Vincent was getting impatient. It hadn't actually been that long since he had thought about what his father would do to him, but practically staying still was driving him insane. Staying still brought nerves that he didn't need and thoughts he didn't need to be thinking. So he switched his attention to his surroundings. There was a man ahead of him that seemed to be talking to himself, but Vincent wasn't any better, almost reaching that point himself, so he ignored him. Then in front of him there was a group of mismatched children, at least some of them looked like children? What were they doing waiting in line for the King's Open Day? Where were their parents? His mind began worrying for them, so he aptly looked elsewhere, and he saw a retreating group of guards escorting a pirate-looking fellow. And that caught his attention, though not for normal reasons. Vincent was fascinated by his clothes, wondering where he had got them. He didn't see much of them, only a flash of colors, but it was enough to bring a wellspring of ideas of different clothing patterns that he just had to get down. So he carefully set his bag down, the boy himself leaning down to look through it until he found his sketchbook and a pencil. He then stood and proceeded to sketch out his ideas before he forgot them, going back to one he supposedly finished whenever another idea struck and he adjusted the previous design until he was temporarily satisfied with it. And the process continued even as he took millistep after millistep forward. Though, there was the concern he may run into the red-haired man in front of him if he wasn't careful, but it wasn't so much of a worry that he acknowledged, instead pushing it to the back of his mind to be addressed if it actually happened.
As he felt a hand on his shoulder, the boy gave a light twitch, caught between the desire to both freeze up entirely and jump all the way out of his skin. As Demetriosa and Evergeen's voices reached him, however, the tension slowly began to ebb away. The 'not yet, at least' portion of the hunter's reassurance was part of what he was worried about, yet there was something about the two's tone all the same that kept his thoughts in check. He wasn't quite certain that he saw Hope's energetic promise to fight the law if it came down to it in the same light, but Omotholo could at least admit that the older orphan's heart was in the right place. Somewhat.
Though he might have wanted to smile (indeed, he had realized in that very moment that he hadn't smiled all day), he could only manage a sigh; it was sign enough to those who knew him that his troubles had been pacified for now, though his continuously-knitted brow was sure to say otherwise to the unfamiliar. A distraction--that was just what the boy needed; he turned his thoughts and eyes back to the surrounding city, pulling down on his hood as if to ensure it was still there as he watched for changes in the streets and the line. Though he found--to both his relief and his growing anxiety--that there had been no changes in the latter, something about the former seemed suddenly off as time passed by. Ah--there was music earlier, wasn't that it? When he had first left to run to the front of the line, Hope had taken a liking to a group of nearby performers; they were there when he had returned, weren't they?
"...Even the performers are leaving," he said, speaking up nearly a minute after making his observation. Omotholo turned his gaze skyward, attempting to gauge the time by sun; the buildings made that slightly trickier than expected, and thus he glanced about the square in hopes that the plaza would sport a dial or a belltower. How much time had it been? Had they even taken a single step since he had returned? Lest there was a flash of ingenuity or a moment of divine intervention, Omotholo reasoned, they might as well head home then and there. And, if being an orphan for the entirety of his life taught Omotholo anything, it was that there probably wasn't all that much divine intervention to go around in the world.
He turned, looking back to Hope with his same, wide, uncertain eyes. "We're not going to do this all over again next year, are we?"
Sima was holding his painting equipment and was staring at the half-finished canvas in deep thought when a manservant approached him and tapped his shoulders. The tap shook Sima out of his thoughts and brought him back to reality. He looked at the manservant who interrupted him and was immediately reminded of something.
"I believe we arrived at the Capital?" Sima guessed since he gave specific instructions to not be disturbed unless they arrived at the city.
"Yes, Young Master. The Airship landed 10 minutes ago." The Manservant replied. Sima nodded and placed the equipment in a table next to him. They would have reminded him a couple of minutes before the airship landed but they saw him so immersed in what he was doing that they decided not to disturb him.
"I'm sorry for making you wait." Sima sincerely apologized.
"Absolutely not, Young Master. Do not apologize, it's our duty to serve you." The manservant vehemently refused Sima's apologies. Sima just looked at him and would like to thank him too for serving him the whole journey but he knew that this guy would immediately refuse it and say it is his duty to serve so he just chuckled.
"There is a carriage sent by the Royal Family waiting for you outside, Young Master."The manservant informed him. Sima nodded in expectation since the reason why he's in the Capital is that the King invited him to come to inscribe his talismans on a few things so it would be natural that the King would send someone to pick him up. Sima guessed that it should be the King's new state of the art airship.
Sima was escorted by the manservant to the carriage where he bid his farewells and boarded the carriage. The carriage immediately took off and headed for the Royal Castle. Sima looked at the bustling city through the windows and sighed in nostalgia. It's been a long time since he came here, around a year or so since he was immediately summoned back to his household because he was about to turn eighteen and was about to take on responsibilities for the territory.
"I wonder how Lucien is faring. I heard he became Captain of the Royal Guards and calls himself Nemo... which can be translated to Nobody. It reminds me of that novel I read in some library about delusional father adventuring through the continent to find his long-dead son, it was called Finding Nemo. " He thought to himself. The last time Sima saw him was before he was boarding the airship back home. Lucien said he was there to guard him to make sure nothing happens to him before he goes home but Sima knows it was just to bid farewell. It was also about time to give him a new talisman to help seal his powers since the old one was quite old.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world." At his mention of anyone hurting them in their attempt to comfort Omotholo, Ever was quick to add, "And I can heal your wounds if it does happen. But it most certainly won't." She pat one of the numerous sacks of seeds dangling from her belt. Each one was a life. And each one could and will heal a wound.
A small smirk crossed Evergreens lips at Amaya's comments, her arms pulling up to cross her chest. No, the young woman hardly cared about boots or heels, let alone any sort of footwear, but she did care when others were talking. And so, she kept her attention on the slightly younger girl.
"You know, you're absolutely right," Ever said in acknowledgement, "But I think pirates like all that fancy footwear. Sure it doesn't scream 'hello! I am a pirate'. But it is fun to imagine it to be so." The curly haired girl let out a dreamy sigh, before snapping back to the task at hand. "Actually, I haven't seen Walnut. Is he hiding nearby?" Animals were a simple, yet effective weakness of hers; can't resist anything small, cute and fluffy.
But a certain sourpuss distracted her from her question about the fox; Caspian. The young man seemed on edge, all of his button pushed past the breaking point. He snapped at Liz, which brought a frown to Ever's face, but she could understand his anxiety, especially when he wheeled around to stomp away from them. But she tilted her head as he paused, softly smiling at his back. She pulled back the smile to a neutral expression when he turned back around looking like he was going to burst. Part of her wanted to offer him some sort of gentle touch to show that he would be alright, that they all would be. But that might be the last straw in his eyes, to be touched by someone who might as well just be called a stranger. So she did nothing but offer him a gentle smile should he look her way.
She smiled at Hope when he joined in on the pirate talk. She wondered if Hopes confidence that the captured man being a pirate was just a little childhood dream, or if it truly was a wish. She had always thought pirates were mean and heartless creatures, but who truly knew that?
Evergreen opened her mouth to interject upon taking note of Hope's firmness in response to Caspian. She thought she would have to calm them down, but Omotholo had said something that caught her attention. There was music. But now there wasn't any. She looked down to the boy, then lifted her gaze to confirm he had been right. She looked back to him, only to follow his gaze skyward. She closed her eyes for a moment, took a breath, and put a smile on her face, turning to look at their group.
"Oh I don't think so. This time tomorrow we're going to be on an airship looking for Gramps." She spoke with confidence she only just mustered up. She never met the man, thought she heard stories from Hope. "We just need a little hope is all." Her eyes flickered to the pale-haired boy with a sly smirk on her face; yes, she made a pun. She hoped Caspian wouldn't get angry about it.
Although the prisoner was taken away, the debates continued to rage on. Luck, did his best to ignore them for the time being. He just knew that their voices would be ricocheting throughout his brain for the remainder of the day. Seriously, how could the king take so long. If he were to just deny everyone, except him or course, then all would go swimmingly. Suddenly, his shoulder would be assaulted by some girl who was blissfully unaware of boundaries. Luck, took his hand from his face, first glancing at the space in front of before finally looking down to see the seemingly fragile ginger; her personality was anything but. Before he could say hi, shoo, or pretend he was dead, the girl asked him about another voice. Luck paused before answering her question. What would give her the slightest inkling that he was talking to someo-.....ohhhhh.
"...Someone else? As in someone other than me? No...not at all. It was definitely just me and not some inanimate object...do you always talk to strangers?"
Luck regained his composure, taken aback by her straightforwardness, however, he could only hope his sword would behave for the time being. He was going ask the ginger who she was, and her reason for being here when he heard someone else exclaim some form of discontent, and others appeared to be packing up. "...Awesome, nothing is better than a shorter line," he sighed to himself.
"...Except a PUNCHline," his sword muttered between giggles.
"PUNCHLINE..yeaaahhh. You get it? I'm a part time jester, the names Freddy Nolan. I've just been practicing my material," Luck lied as he quickly remembered that he was still accompanied by a rather bold and pushy guest. Being occupied with the girl in front of him, he didn't notice that someone else was on the fringe of running him over.
Vincent was drawing away, his bag set beside him seeming to be long forgotten as he sketched away. Oh, if only he had brought his colored inks, he would be able to give even more life to his sketches! And he would show them to his mother and sisters to get their opinions, and if they liked them, they could show them to father to seek his approval. And, if he liked them, then the young boy would feel as if he was accepted, even if it wasn't directed at him. But they would be his designs! Vincent began laughing with excitement under his breath at just the mere thought. He soon began pacing in his little allowed area, becoming restless as the excitement coursed its way through his muscles, willing them to move. And he continued sketching, unaware to the bag that still sat beside where he once stood stationary. And each time he passed it, he drew ever more closer, promising a terrible tumble whenever he eventually tripped over the case. But that thought, of course, never crossed the young designers mind as he flipped a page; drew a line.
And then it happened. On his way back to where he thought was beside his bag, his foot hit the bag, causing him to stumble. Vincent flailed, sketchbook clenched in one hand and his pencil in the other as he started his descent to the ground he was once pacing...or, more accurately, the man who stood in front of him. The young boy felt his face hit the back of the older man's back and then fell to the ground. Vincent was so disoriented that he wasn't even sure if the older man had fallen as well or if he had managed to catch himself unlike the boy who now sat on the ground. His sketchbook and pencil had flown forward, in front of the red haired man and next to the group in front of him. Vincent looked to the man, holding his nose as it began to throb as a result from the impact. "I'm soo sorry!" He quickly rambled out, his speech coming out faster than his sketching. "I wasn't watching what I was doing!" He added as he began to look for his sketchbook and pencil. "Where are they?" He muttered to himself, eyes scanning the ground.
The man, seemingly a bit startled by the question, took a few moments to answer. "...Someone else? As in someone other than me? No...not at all. It was definitely just me and not some inanimate object...do you always talk to strangers?"
Liz grinned, her freckles scrunching up with the smile. "Only the interesting ones," She replied almost instantly, waving her hand is a dismissive manner. "Hey, wait a minute..." She murmured, her eyes narrowing as she tapped the side of her cheek thoughtfully. "That's a really weird way of answering a question." There was a hint of an accusatory grumble in her voice.
As the strange man mumbled something Liz didn't quite catch, she heard the other voice break in. "Except a PUNCHline!"
Ignoring the man's hasty rambling, she glanced back and forth as if the voice's owner would suddenly jump out at her. Liz took a breath -on the verge of pressing further (after all, this just got much more interesting)- when another man bowled into the first.
For a moment, Liz was so surprised she didn't register the stressed apologies pouring out of the second man's mouth. Still, when he began to scan the ground muttering, she dropped to the ground to pick up the two belongings he had dropped. "Here you go, sir!" Liz chirped, snatching up and handing over a pencil and sketchbook that she was pretty sure belonged to him.
Before she had a chance to continue talking, a large gap in the line behind her caught her eye. "Oh, fiddlesticks!" Liz yelped, giving a quick wave before turning and awkwardly jogging to catch back up to her friends. Within moments, she was distracted by a nearby pigeon with it's head stuck through a piece of bread, and quickly disappeared into the motley crowd of orphans.
"Gaaaah, of course I would be late- today of all days!" the tall young man complained aloud as he ran through the streets, his long legs and loping stride eating up the distance quickly. By the time he arrived at the palace entrance the line was already endless and he groaned, dismayed.
What if they're already inside? he worried.
He began to walk quickly down the line, keeping his eyes peeled for a sign of his friends. Luckily, he found them soon enough- the group stood out mostly thanks to Hope, Liz and Ever's hair, along with Caspian's spotless uniform and rigid stance. He jogged to reach them, grinning wide.
"Sorry I'm late, guys," he apologized. "Ended up stuck at the yard for longer than I expected." Nao ran odd jobs anywhere he could- especially anywhere that was remotely connected with machinery, or airships, and that included factories, the shipyard, and even the junkyard (which was where he'd been that morning).
Just as he joined the group, a short, silver-haired young man with sketching implements in hand tripped and sprawled headfirst into someone else standing in line. As Liz picked up his things and handed them to him, Nao reached down and pulled the boy up by his collar, setting him back on his feet and smiling genially.
"Might want to keep an eye out when you're drawing in a crowded place like this," he good-naturedly advised.