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The Ship- Interacting with: Gray BittyBobcat BittyBobcat ,Hale noil noil

Lan listened as Gray spoke, a surprising patience to his demeanor despite the agonizing number of minuets he had gone without opening his mouth.

"So, any questions?"

" Yeah, I-"

Except now Hale was talking instead of Lan. His brow nit in annoyance, his narrowed gaze turning to the girl as though it would have done anything.

"You have to have an invitation, or- or work papers or something,"

" How hard could it be to just write up a fake one? " All of those big fancy party invitations looked exactly the same anyways. A loopy font and needlessly intricate gold leaf border. Not a shred of creativity to be found!

" Anyways- as I was saying! I wanna be a distraction! " Lan's hand went up as he exclaimed his intention. Like a student vying to be called by the classroom teacher.
He already had a plan and everything.

" I can start a fight! Like last month at that tavern! "
Arial: Common
Underlined Arial: Tradesign
Average: Valiaek

Honestly, Jet was finding his veritable archive of a memory was more useful than most of his other attributes—sure, yes, he was new to the language and all the dialects it spawned, but after the span of a week of simply... listening, and the background knowledge of what he was entirely sure was a parent language, it settled his feathers to be marginally more prepared when such things as communication rolled about.

Like, for instance, their new dilemma of whether or not to sail to... Glitra, was it?

Jet didn't get out much, but he was still mildly surprised to trip across a name he wasn't familiar with. His wings twitched, feathers parting in a soft hiss before returning to their proper places, overshadowing the gold cord of his ornate festoon scraping against the swirling blue gemstones inlaid into it.

He hadn't taken it off since they'd boarded the ship, caution keeping his attention sharp—even if it was odd for his feathers to display such bright oranges and golds in a semi-casual environment.

Vihaan, he knew, found his care amusing—"endearing," he's said, once.

In any case, from what he caught of "Gray's" (adequate name, considering his complexion, Jet had decided days ago) description, Glitra sounded like somewhere he would have liked to visit perhaps decades ago. The appeal had dulled with age, though, and he found himself huffing a sigh from between pointed teeth. He supposed clipping his claws down wasn't the worst of preparations, but still, suspicion settled in his mantle as he glanced over their little assortment of... crew.


They'd take so much cleanup. Cleanup that he imagined they didn't exactly have time for—he may be old, but he wasn't blind, and the dwindling rations were something he kept track of, to the extent that he'd debated taking a peryton out of the sky.

Vihaan was a proper pain to sort out on a planned festival, and Jet imagined his only saving grace would be to pull off the "hired servant" look for the time being. He imagined Lan could clean up nicely—given proper fitting clothes and perhaps a decent preen. Hale—who he'd figured out was not, in fact, a noble in the traditional sense, but used to some form of standing—would need work, yes, but there was less difficulty to be found than managing the shortest (excluding Vihaan) of the crew's temper.

Now, Gray...

Visibly, Jet wrinkled his nose, though what for wasn't obvious to anyone that wasn't himself.

Gray looked like he'd been drug through the pipes of an irrigation system, putting it lightly. Unwashed, unkept, perpetually-exhausted-looking... Jet didn't like his prospects. A shave would do him good, though. A nice suit—something to cover the dark crescents under his eyes.

Yes, he may be able to work with that.

Beyond them... Levin. Passable if he could mask his monotone.

Arc? Little work, there. Aside from a decent set of clothes and some rest for that nasty concussion, Jet figured he'd be fine. Maybe.

Jet zoned back in just as Hale was finishing, ears flicking with the return of his attention. Ah, yes, the actual plan. Jet had little experience in the way of sneaking into places—like most people, he didn't go places he wasn't invited—and frankly, the documentation systems of other cities eluded him.

Lan's voice caught his attention before he managed to slip back into his own head, though it wasn't long before Vihaan's joined the disorganized council.

"And what," he drawled, drawing out the n to a truly unnecessary degree, "is that going to do, pray tell?" Vihaan's remaining wing flicked gesturing vaguely toward Lan's head. "You're shorter than most teenagers with a wingspan to match—who's to say you aren't gonna get caught immediately and get suspicion on our tails?" He hooked a wing-finger into the grooves of the table, half-lidded gaze and slouched posture contrasted only by the perk in his ears.
Luca Graymin
Interacting with: Lan & Levin ( Tapfic Tapfic ), Hale ( noil noil ), Arc ( Klown Klown ), Jet & Vihaan ( ScatheAriiasqDrayceon ScatheAriiasqDrayceon )

"You have to have an invitation, or- or work papers or something.”

Gray’s fingers tapped rhythmically against the table, leaving a long moment’s hesitance before he finally gave his solution. “Not exactly. Some groups are… presumed to be invited. If you’re important enough, you might be able to get away with a quick blooddrake sniff and that’ll be all.”

"Anyways- as I was saying! I wanna be a distraction!"

"You're shorter than most teenagers with a wingspan to match—who's to say you aren't gonna get caught immediately and get suspicion on our tails?"

He sighed. Of course Lan wanted to be the distraction. “Unfortunately, a distraction might actually have some use.”

His eyes bored into the table, refusing to meet anyone else’s. “I, uh—“ he coughed into his hand, “—happen to have quite a large supply of Graymin blood, which likely lies within the bounds of the ah… ‘no invitations needed’ category,” he explained, leaving out the connections he figured they could draw themselves. “Most drakes will accept any correct blood regardless of contamination. As long as you can get it to sniff some of the right sample without getting noticed, we could pass some of you off as being within the same family.” His gaze lifted to shoot Lan a firm look. “A small distraction might be able to help with that.”

Gray always hated pulling the family name card. It felt too risky. All it took was for the wrong person to have met his brother and he’d be hauled to the nearest phoenix farm (not to mention the risk of his family being notified).

But, for all of his discomfort, it worked every time up until now, and he hadn’t thought of a better plan in all the time they had before getting to Glitra.

Now that he was facing the security, though, he was starting to doubts (well, more than normal).

At first, all he saw was the doorman. He was a serious sort, with bushy eyebrows that furrowed every time he read an invitation and a uniform that was kept pristinely wrinkle-free despite the fact that the vest looked a size too small. However, it wasn’t his fashion choice that made Gray nervous. Instead, it was the booklet of blood signatures he had on hand. If they were lucky, it contained both a sample from his family and no individualized samples.

If not… well, the small drake perched placidly on his shoulder and wrapping its prehensile tail most of the way around his neck so it could have a stable seat as it surveyed the crowd with its beady black eyes would ground their ruse before it even got the chance to get its feet off the ground.

“Your invitation, please.”

Gray knew better than to even pretend to search. Instead, he smiled in that exaggerated, slimy way that those of high standing always seemed to use when playing at politeness. “My sincerest apologies, it seems I’ve forgotten it.” His wings gave a characteristic nervous flick that he dearly hoped seemed like he was showing them off. “I’m sure my invite goes without saying, though.” He extended a hand, as if to be shaken. “Elijah Graymin of the Graymin Shipwright and Shipping Line.”

“Of course. Allow me to perform a quick verification, then.”

The man’s eyebrows lowered for enough to cover his eyes entirely, and he began to flip through a small booklet. A beat of silence passed, sending Gray into a silent panic known only by the rushing of blood in his ears.

“Ah, here it is.”

The doorman folded the booklet in half, leaving one page on top. At his shoulder, the drake leaned down and took a long, whistling sniff. Then, nose still wiggling, it pricked the tip of one of Gray’s outstretched fingers with it’s needle-like muzzle.

Its tail uncurled and turned a vibrant leaf green. It took every ounce of Gray’s will to suppress a sigh of relief.

“Welcome, sir. Is anyone accompanying you?”

“The rest could pass off as plus ones. We can bring a bit extra under the guise of servants if we push it, but we’ll want to have at least one more supposed Graymin to justify bringing a group large enough to pull this off.” He paused to scribble a note about making extra blood samples for anyone who needed it before looking back up to face the group.

“So, Lan, if you really think you can pull off a distraction that won’t get you arrested, then start thinking on what it’ll be. And if anyone has any idea how we’re going to get to the fuel without raising suspicion, then you might as well voice them now because I’m sure they’ve got more guards than I’d care to deal with on it.”
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The Ship- Interacting with: Gray BittyBobcat BittyBobcat and Arc. The party- Interacting with: Arc Klown Klown

" Uhh." Lan's initial thought was starting a fight, but now that that had been vetoed it seemed he would have to pick something else.
" I could..." the boy trailed off, mind going completely blank without the option of violence. He crossed his arms and tapped his foot. Maybe some repetitive action would get the marble brain bouncing.
Apparently it had bounced somewhat successfully, as Lan's eyes lit like the wings flickering on his back.

" Hey-Arc, we should get divorced."

Lan had read this scheme in a book once.

Two characters pretending to be a couple so that they could fight loudly and draw the attention of all the nosy snobs who had nothing better to do than get into other people's business.

Lan followed behind Gray with his arm hooked around Arc's- leaning into his side like a good husband. Or wife in a suit. It would be a bit difficult for anyone outside looking in to tell.
As the guard parted from his position at the door, Lan pulled his partner and crime through.

" Uh-" Lan squinted as he looked around the room. The party was a bit more crowded than he had initially thought it would be.

" I can't fuckin see," He whispered to the other, because he was short- the many various wings of the guests obscured his vision completely.
" Arc ,wheres a good spot to scream at you? "

" All right so- I'm gonna pretend to be Arc's husband," Lan spoke to the council as though he had just discovered the secret to world peace.
" Arc- when we get in there you gotta start flirting with some chick or something so I can act like the scorned lover. Start cursing and throwing shit at you- but it's gotta be in a place where a lot of attention will get grabbed. "

His hands moved in time with his mouth, gesturing and pointing without much reason other than that was how Lan moved.

" Maybe the dance floor? If you grab anyone's ass without permission i will punch your nuts in though so don't go that far into the douche bag act. "
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MENTIONS: LAN Tapfic Tapfic

“Hey Arc, we should get divorced.”

Wed for one night, and one night alone. Arcadius had only been half-paying attention to the schemes being tossed around the table up until Lan proudly brandished his idea of the two being fake husbands. The suggestion nearly knocked him off-kilter, but he followed along with Lan’s plan. Nodding albeit slightly distracted by the motions of his hands.

“Leave it to me. I’ll be the best-worst husband of your dreams!”

The blazing opulence of the ballroom had Arcadius squinting upon entry. Should his attention linger on the bright lights for too long they might melt his brain through his skull. Instead, he targeted his attention to his partner for the night, Lan. A sight for sore eyes, indefinitely. Arcadius wondered how many compliments he could get away with whilst keeping the mask of ‘wandering husband’ present.

“Uh…” There were wings and people everywhere. Arcadius tried his best to keep a stately appearance, but keeping his wits about him was becoming incrementally harder the more posh laughter and superficial conversations his ears picked up. He glances around, neck stretching slightly to peer over taller guests. “This way.” He strategically places his hand over Lan’s which was clinging to his arm and guides the other through the busy space all while smiling pleasantly and apologizing for any inconveniences.

They reach where the music is just an ounce louder and there’s more space for those fraternizing on the dance floor.

Arc had led Lan onto the dance floor. After all, it was a party. Keeping up appearances was important. While enjoying the charade, Arcadius was scanning the room from the dance floor in search of an easy target. He finds a few in the form of a group of bored looking women idling by a column as a steward passes with glasses of champagne.

He tilts his face downwards towards Lan with an impish curl of his lips. “Shall I go get us some drinks, my darling husband?” He spins and gives a small gesture of the head, allowing Lan a window to see where he was headed, and where they’d cause the scene. A few feet away from the women was the snack table chock-full of artillery should Lan decide he wanted to fling things at Arc.

The weight of his singular wing is heavy on his back when headed towards the group. He couldn’t help but notice everyone else’s wings came in pairs.

“And what are such gorgeous gems as yourself doing standing around in this corner of the room?” Arcadius asks as he approaches with his most charming smile and reverent bow. “Surely a disservice with how gorgeous you all look tonight.” He extends out an inviting hand, and while one of the women rolls her eyes and walks away with blatant disinterest, one lingers out of sheer curiosity and the other blushes while daintily taking his hand.

Arcadius presses a chaste kiss to her knuckle, eying her features and not missing the ring nestled on her left hand, then gently releases her. The other is a little more interested in her drink than she is Arcadius, but he notes the sideways glances she makes every now and then.

With a suave hand pushing back his styled hair and his dimples on full display, Arcadius puts on his best performance. He showers her in compliments, tells her a joke hear and there to lower her guard. He listens to her interests, but that is done with sincerity. He learns through picking up bits and pieces of their conversation and stringing them together, that she’s desperately happy to have a man other than her boring older husband paying attention to her. Arcadius only feels slightly guilty.

“What happened to your other wing?” She asks unabashedly, reaching out before Arcadius was wise enough to notice. A chill shoots up his spine form her ice-cold hand which had been previously holding her drink. It wasn’t the most pleasant of feelings, but he shakes it off. There was a flush to her face and a drawl to her tone. Clearly all the drinks she’d had for the night were starting to take effect.

“Er, an unfortunate accident, love. Nothing to concern yourself with.” Arc gently wraps his hand around her wrist and nudges it off his wing, smiling gently through it as she begins to giggle and lean into him, repeating the question as if it were a dirty little secret.
Hale- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“I, uh—“ he coughed into his hand, “—happen to have quite a large supply of Graymin blood."
Hale's eyes widened slightly at that revelation. There were several ways that could go in justifying some of the wild conspiracies that had formed around how this particular flock of phoenixes had managed to evade capture for so long. None of the explanations that came to mind were something she'd think anyone would want to talk about, confirmed by Gray's subtle discomfort at the need for them to use this solution to their entry problem. The curiosity was going to eat at her, though.

"Oh, that... might actually work."


She must have reminded herself a hundred times on the approach to the docks to loosen the tension she was holding in her wings. They seemed to want to shrink back against her spine of their own accord. A less than effective learned behavior to minimize the phoenix colors exposure to greedy, suspicious eyes. Such a reflex was less than helpful now though to the snobby-rich-woman cover she was supposed to be taking. She was surprised, however, to find that once she'd stepped foot off the gangway and approached the guard's station that her discarded Hunter's superiority and entitlement came easily back into her grasp.

'You have to make yourself look untouchable to them. If you both believe it, it'll be true.' Her father had been talking about looking tough and dangerous, but this guise was the same kind of armor. She gathered all the puffed up authority of her upbringing around herself like a palisade, and as she strode into the fray a half step behind Grey that tense paralysis that had seized her bearing over the past months finally loosen its death grip and she fell naturally back into the arrogant posture of someone who believed everyone should do what they said.

She still hiding of course, but this was a different kind of hiding. Instead of scraping by, lurking and covering and suppressing, the group disguise methodology was how very undisguised they were. It felt like being an exposed nerve, being out there in the open as themselves, but above and smothering that disquiet it felt good. It felt like freedom.

It seemed they hadn't needed Lan's distraction to get in after all, but maybe now that they were in they could use the diversion for another purpose.
Jet listened only idly as the rest of the plan flew by. Lan was to run a distraction (the concept of a fake marriage he found amusing, but he didn't voice it for fear of it being taken the wrong way), and Hale to be disguised as another "grey man" whatever that meant.

Either way, he was very consumed in his own mental preparations, and in the hours leading up to the event, he made himself a right pest. Around the motely little group he went, investigating their outfits, hygiene, and general demeanor. Notably, he hovered the most around Gray, a noise too much like a scolding bird ever-present, but he also pestered Lan quite a bit. So much so that the first outfit Lan emerged from his quarters in was quickly straightened and fussed over before Jet gave up and just shoved him back into his quarters with little more than an "absolutely not" (his new favorite Common phrase, apparently) in the way of an explanation.

Jet did earn himself a bright-red bite mark in the encounter, but he eventually got what he wanted, and Lan returned in something presentable.

So caught up in this apparent need to ensure everyone (he even patted Gray's head as if suspicious that he could get all of the oi out of hit hair) was "presentable", Jet, himself wasn't properly dressed until perhaps an hour before they made landfall.

Vihaan's presence at Jet's back lended a needed sense of familiarity as he walked side-by-side with the unfamiliar crew. He brought up the back of the group, being both the tallest and definitely the most bedazzled of them. He'd chosen the same dress he wore in the autumn festivals back in Tafa'Alan (and really, the concept of wearing oranges and yellows in spring ruffled his feathers, but the concept of leaving his necklace on the ship made his skin crawl, so little losses, he supposed), and from the sharply sloped neckline, halfway down the sleeves, and all down the bodice, small beads in flaming colors blended together to form a slowly shifting expanse of an illusion flame.

Unlike some of the group, Jet's demeanor screamed nothing but "I belong here." His presence filled the air, and it wasn't just because his outrageously long wings were half-unfolded and catching what light there was to catch. He swept through the gates, eyes and smile far sharper than they had been on the ship. It didn't suit his features so much as the softer, slighter smile did, but it blended well with the surrounding crowd, and masked Vihaan's less-than-noble demeanor.

He was passing well for a personal servant, even if those with keen eyes might pin him for a bodyguard. He supposed it was best to allow the masses to believe what they wanted, but it ruffled his feathers some that Vihaan had to forgo looking gorgeous in favor of... whatever this was.

It was easy, though, and he never liked such fancy events as Jet did.

Heels clicked sharply on polished floor as he adjusted his posture to better suit a more enclosed environment while still showing of his (meticulously preened) plumage. He figured that—better safe than sorry—he should follow around one of the group, just in case a plan he missed started off with a particularly loud bang.

He took to shadowing Gray.
Luca Graymin
Interacting with: Everyone technically

“Hey Arc, we should get divorced.”

“Leave it to me. I’ll be the best-worst husband of your dreams!”

Gray couldn't help but shoot a skeptical glance at Lan and his distraction compatriot, but he listened in silence and (for once) kept his complaints to himself all the same They needed a distraction, after all... perhaps more for Lan's sake than their own.

"Alright. With a distraction running, we might be able to start collecting food." He glanced back at the map and gave his former calculations one last mental once-over. "Assuming we're successful, we'll be able to land two weeks after the fact—give or take a day—meaning we only need enough supplies to last us that far. If it comes down to it, don't stick your neck out for more. Stretching rations is always a better option than getting caught."

With the food more or less taken care of, there was only one thing left on the (metaphorical and, frankly, very short) docket.

"I think I can locate the fuel easily enough. All I'd need is to make some excuse about wanting to check the quality before I considered purchasing it, but anything after that would depend on what defenses they've got." Apparently done with tapping at the table, his hands moved together with one finger nervously picking at the edge of the other's nail. "Fighting our way through won't be an option, it would draw too much attention, but I don't know what wouldn't be painting a smoking target on our..."

Oh. There was an idea.

If Glitra's owner was smart (or, failing that, if his engineers were), then the fuel would be stored similarly to how it was in dockyards. There would be small—well, medium, but rollable—fire-proof barrels built specifically for safe travel aboard a ship, and then a larger unit that could afford to be less protected since the only use it ever met was to sit tight and fill barrels.

The latter would be his target.

He patted his pocket just to make sure his components were still there, one vial of ammonia and one of muriatic acid. Together, they would form a heatless smoke to convince the guards that something had gone terribly wrong near the primary canister, leaving Gray and whoever else he could manage to bring along to roll some fuel barrels out the door and into the waiting hands of the crewmate they left behind to pose as... a crewmate (okay, perhaps ship-maintenance worker wasn't an elegant disguise, but it cut down on tailoring costs).

That was the plan, at least, and it worked for some time. He and Hale got in without issue (though the hairs on the back of his neck still bristled at the ex-hunter being so close behind him). Not too soon afterward, he spotted the bat near the buffet table with Lan standing a little ways off. Even Skyscraper and his far shorter counterpart were staying out of trouble; he did his best to ignore the fact that this apparently required that they tail him like a pair of stalking gryphons. All in all, their first hurdle was cleared rather neatly.

But then, of course, it went wrong (as all things do).

He was just about to flag down an attendant to discuss fuel quality with when it happened. A shout. A delighted shout. A shout that managed to send a nervous shiver down Gray's wings before its sentence was even finished.

"Elijah, darling, I almost didn't recognize you!"

A pair of arms threw themselves around his shoulders and pulled him down into a tight hug. His ensuing flinch was strong enough to pull them both backward an inch, but the stranger didn't seem to notice (or care). Instead, they—he, Gray corrected himself as he caught a glance of long blue and white tailfeathers trailing behind himexited the hug as quickly as he had stepped into it and, one hand still resting on either of Gray's shoulders, continued gushing in that same high-pitched, ear-grating tone he started with.

"I told you those youth elixirs would do you wonders! Oh, and the glamour as well, you look absolutely stunning— ah, well, except for that," he said, most of his words falling on deaf ears. Gray was too preoccupied by the hand moving distressingly close to his face to tuck a strand of hair back into roughly combed formation with the others to listen. "But that's quite alright, dear." This time, when the hand then came sweeping down to trace his jaw and cup his chin in its fingers, he managed to stop himself from pulling away (if only by reminding himself how little he wanted to piss off any of the rich pricks here). "I'm sure we'll be mussing it all up again soon." His smile—seemingly an ever-present ficture of his face—broadened on one side, turning his expression to a lopsided grin as he bit his lip and—oh Gods, he was flirting with him.

There were many things Gray had come prepared for. This was not one of them.

He blinked, taking in what little information he could process through the continued onslaught.

"It's been so awfully long since your last visit. I've missed you, my nymph." The stranger—who he now dimly registered as pheasant-winged, though what familial implications that might have were lost on him—once again leaned in closer. So close, in fact, that his expensive-looking fur coat prickled with static against Gray's suit. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming? I thought the Missus had finally caught on."

It took an embarrassingly long moment for Gray to connect the dots laid before him. If you looked carefully, you might've been able to catch the exact moment he asked himself 'Elijah, what in the infinite, everloving, skies-damned fucking Abyss did you do?' in the widening crease of his eyes, but his expression of horror at realizing the answer was unfortunately lost the second the stranger's hand slipped beneath the collar of his shirt.

There were many situations Gray planned for. This was not one of them.

His reaction was automatic. A sudden shiver shot through his wings, pressing them tightly to his back, and ricochetted off his spine, through his shoulders, and into his arms, which jerked defensively upward. One caught the stranger's forearm and unceremoniously shoved his hand off Gray's neck, while the other simple braced in front of him like a very small, very shitty shield. Both froze in place once for a fraction of a second (maybe more, it felt like an eternity), leaving him standing like a peryton baring its horns at the lantern-light of a speeding ship.

The pheasant's expression was too stiff for him to read—did he ever drop that smile?—but he couldn't imagine that the subtle twitch of his eyebrow meant anything good.
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