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Company We Keep [closed, feedback welcome]


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((Immediately follows Smallshells for the Heart))




Carrying two hot plates of food and trying not to smell them, which it was already far too late for that and, yes, it had made him very hungry already, even though he was sure he had eaten a reasonable amount lately but... Or was it just that morning with the brunch when he couldn't eat the smallshells and... what had ever happened to those smallshells?...


D'hein nearly tripped over a Lalafel because he was distracted, and had to spin and stumble to keep from falling. This resulted in him whacking that same Lalafel in the face with his tail. D'hein hurried on into the inn's hallways to escape the social implications of the incident, as some kind-hearted Roegadyn stopped to help his Lalafel victim.


Quite lost and unsure what he'd been thinking about, D'hein found himself in front of the door to Antimony's room. He went to knock on it but forgot he was carrying a plate of food in each hand, so ended up knocking one of those plates out of his hands. He caught it, though! Quite smoothly. Nary a vegetable of place. Only now his back was to the door. So he knocked with the heel of his boot.


Antimony hovered near K'airos in the room, glancing over the pile of clothing and her daughter alternately, all the while doing her best not to seem overly stifling but likely failing miserably. They had only a minute or two prior returned to the room, retreating from the awkwardness of Captain Lamandu's presence as quickly as possible. "I know they are not your old clothes, but I suppose it was rather thoughtful of him to supply you with new ones. Not that I begrudge your current dress, dear, of course not, and anything that I have is yours as well, please remember that. I--" Her words broke off at the thud on the door, and she blinked in confusion for a half a second before her ears lifted, "--ah, that must be the food."


K'airos barely heard it. She was enthralled with some tunic that was very silky to the touch. She hadn't actually changed out of her current attire yet, being too busy looking through the pile of clothes and organizing them on top of the bed. "Hm? Oh! Yes. I guess I can change after eating." she said distractedly.


D'hein waited with his back to the door. He was afraied to turn around for fear of dropping one of the plates. And besides, greeting Antimony with his mane would not be a mistake. His presentation would be excellent.


Not wanting K'airos to worry herself, Antimony pulled herself away from her daughter to open the door. The scents of food hit her with an unexpected force and several seconds before she processed the image of the man on the other side. She blinked at the back of his head. "... D'hein? Are you lost?"


"He can't be lost if he reached us." K'airos said.


D'hein smiled over his shoulder at Antimony. "Just giving you my best angle." He winked and flicked his tail.


Antimony's own tail twitched in bemusement. "You..." Pressing her lips together, she stepped back into the room. "Just get in here with the food before Airos starves."


The girl turned to face the door while holding yet another piece of clothing over her chest, seeing if it was the right size. "Do you need help with that?"


"No, Airos, I have it just fine." Dhein spun around, smiling. "That's a beautiful piece you've found. You should try it on." He stepped into the room with the food.


Antimony's expression went almost immediately flat. "Certainly not in your presence. And there is food besides. Airos, you are still hungry, yes?"


"I am!" The answer was cheerful and simultaneous with a smile. She let the clothes she was holding aside, right on top of the others on the bed, before turning again and looking at the plates. "Aren't you eating?" she asked D'hein.


Antimony's stern expression softened in the face of K'airos's smile. There was really no helping it.


"No." D'hein said. "There's no food for me. And besides, I've a... meal planned for later! Perhaps. I just wished to be helpful by bringing this to you."


"A meal?" One of Antimony's ears shifted in confusion, but then she shook her head. Some Dodo thing, likely. Not that she would have wanted him to eat with them, of course, though she had to admit it had been very nice to see K'airos smiling and she couldn't deny that it was his gift that had led to such a thing.


She would not be jealous of that.


"Nevermind it. If you're not eating, then it would be best if you left us in privacy for now."


K'airos sat down on one of the room's chairs. "Ah...thanks! And thanks for the clothes, too."  She fumbled with her fingers on top of the table, her thoughts getting lost in the intrincacies of fashion, color and pattern matching.


"So I'm getting thrown out?" D'hein said this with humor. He put the food down.


"You are certainly not staying to watch my daughter change," Antimony replied firmly. She stepped back to the door to open it, though as she did so, she let out a small sigh. "Though... I owe you thanks for the gifts."


K'airos blushed and looked away into the plate of food, her ears angling themselves up and then down rapidly before setting on their normal positions. She kept quiet, though.


D'hein shot upright and spun to Antimony. "What? Why would I- ... Why would you-? Well!" He crossed his arms firmly and stomped towards the door. "It seems Illira's propaganda about me has gotten to someone. To suggest I would even imagine such a thing. That I could even conceive of it!"


"I have heard no such propaganda." Hands set on the curve of her hips. "I speak only from my own observations. If you are not eating, then I will ask you to leave us for now."


"I'm sure D'hein had no...ill intents, mom!" K'airos interjected.


"What observations?" D'hein paused in the doorway. "I demand to see the data!"


"You are the data, D'hein Tia." The older woman donned an impatient look.


D'hein's expression went from upset, to hurt. "... I see. So I'm incurably wretched now." He stepped back out of the room. "Well, I apologize for my existence. Hopefully I have not infected your food. Good evening."


K'airos stood up from her chair quite suddenly. "That's...that's not what she means!" she exclaimed. She looked at her mother and let out a short question to her: "Right, mom?"


Grey ears shifting back, Antimony cast a quick glance towards her daughter. It... perhaps had been, but she hadn't really expected the reaction it had gotten from the man. "Come now," her tail twitched, "It is simply not appropriate for a man not her nunh to... to..." Words failed her, so she just gestured in frustration.


D'hein wordlessly turned to leave, shuffling off and letting the women have their dinner.


"I know that!" K'airos complained. "And that's a fair concern but...why would you think he... when he's such a...most of the time! Or all the time!" she rambled.


"I am only trying to protect you," Antimony protested in a firm tone, though her ears lay back with uncertainty. "He is a... decent man. But in this moment, it seemed the right thing to do."


The young woman sat back, her ears dropped to the sides. "I know." she sighed. "I think he would have left on his own, though."


"Ah, Airos..." Rather than dwell further on this, Antimony sought desperately for a change of subject. She turned to the food laid out on the rebuilt table. "Eat, please! I don't wish you to go hungry ever again."


K'airos started eating. Her ears were still dropped to the sides. "I'll have to report to my captain and explain why I was gone for so long." she said, not sure if that was the proper subject to move to. But she was clearly worried about that.


"Your..." While she tried to figure out how to respond to that, Antimony stepped to the food as well, to join her daughter - though she took only a small amount so that K'airos could have her fill as much as she wanted. "Ah, your job. Yes... of course." Grey brows furrowed. "So you are decided that you wish to remain here?"


K'airos slumped, figuratively, but almost literally, on her plate. "I don't know! Maybe they'll kick me out because I was missing for way too long. I'd like to see Limsa and learn to sail and have a boat, but then the tribe's moving to Drybone. But you don't want to be near them, and Drybone is not a nice place to live either..." she rambled, waving the fork loaded with food around. "So I don't know! What would I work as, if we went to Limsa?"


"Oh, Airos, it's not that I don't want to, it's just... you must understand how they treat--" She twisted her grip around the fork she'd been making use of, and her tail twined in the air at her side. "... Ah, it's no matter... Limsa! Well, I would not force you to work unless you wished to. I am more than capable of providing for the both of us. But... there are any number of jobs in that region, I imagine."


K'airos finally took a bite. It was a bit too much, but she didn't seem to notice or care about it. She spents a long moment chewing it while she stabbed more food with the fork until it was overflowing again. "How are their guards called?" she asked before finding a napkin and cleaning her lips. "I guess I could do that, since that's what I did here. I wonder if they'd care that I was a Brass Blade."


"The Yellowjackets." She forced a smile and tried to speak with a bit more joviality than she had previously, "And yes, they are uniformed accordingly. I... do not think your employment history would be much of an issue, though I'm not sure how I feel about you taking part in such a risky job..."


"I like yellow." she stated lowly, remembering she used to have a yellow shirt. Now she apparently had a lot of expensive silky clothes. She wondered if any of them was yellow, and if any of them was a jacket. She ate some more. "What job would you have me do? I don't...know how to do anything else."


Antimony's features softened to something almost sad. "You're a smart girl, Airos. I'm sure you could do anything you put your mind to... but please, do not feel the need to find work! I promise, I will provide everything you may want or need. I... it is what you deserve."


K'airos ears shifted again. Her tail was nowhere to be seen. It was likely curled around one of the legs of the chair. 


"That would just make me rusty and unable to hold my own." she said flatly. Then she smiled at her mother. "But I can worry about that after we settle where to live. No sense worrying about being a brightjacket if we end up in...Gridania or...somewhere else."


Antimony tried to brighten at that, smiling across towards her daughter. "That is very true. There is no need to worry at all. At all!" She forced a bite of food and smiled with her eyes as she chewed, swallowed, "I would be happy to find a home in Limsa with you. The land there so very different from this place... perhaps it would be good for us both."


"Maybe." K'airos pondered in silence a moment, her body concentrating on the simplicity of eating. It wasn't long before her meal was almost gone. She stared at it and poked the remnants a few times. "Maybe." she repeated. And then, rising her gaze: "Yes. Let's go live in Limsa."


Antimony stopped mid-bight and stood with a suddenness that surprised herself. "Alright. Whatever you wish, Airos. We... we can leave as early as tomorrow." A part of her ached at putting greater distance between herself and the tribe - or, certain members at least - but she had her daughter. It made running so much easier. She gave K'airos a small smile.


K'airos didn't seem to share the enthusiasm. She still smiled, however, perhaps in response to her mother's own smile.  "I still have to report to the captain and tell him I...quit." she said, looking up at her. "I'll do that tomorrow. We can leave the day after."


"Oh! Yes, yes of course." Antimony nodded and seemed to miss her daughter's lesser enthusiasm. "Wouldn't want... well, perhaps they can send you along with a letter of recommendation. Just in case. Not! That I want you to feel pressured. Or even to... well." Green eyes shifted around the room, and it occurred to Antimony then that she had very little to pack anymore. "What, then, would you like to do with our remaining time in this city?"


K'airos opened her mouth, and then closed it. She looked, frowning, to a side. Her tail finally showed up, rising behind her in a curve. D'hein had been generous enough to provide her with new clothes, so she didn't have any reason to go buy more. "I don't know..." she started pondering out loud. "I should buy a sword so we can travel safely."


Antimony's brow knit at the thought. "I... suppose. Though I wish it did not seem necessary... are the roads not secure enough? I have traveled them without bother before."


K'airos replied with a giggle. "You can't ask a huntress to go out without her weapon!"


"We are no longer..." Antimony trailed off then, and sighed, worrying her fingers together. Her daughter weilding a weapon had never bothered her in the many years past, but now it seemed somehow terribly life-threatening, as though its very presence would increase the chances of K'airos finding herself in a horrible situation. "... Of course, I could not deny you that. We will find you a good weapon."


"It's not like I expect to use it." The girl suddenly realized her plate had no more food in it. She stood up. "Now, let's see what D'hein brought us. Maybe some will fit you!"


Brightening in some instinctive reaction to K'airos's own sudden enthusiasm, Antimony smiled. "That is very kind of you to say, Airos. If perhaps overly hopeful." She glanced towards the pile of cloth and added, "They do look quite lovely, though. If anything can be said of that man, it is that he spares no expense..."


The first thing K'airos did after standing up, was to look through the clothes looking for one single thing: the color yellow. "Do they wear these in Limsa?" she asked, to make small talk while she worked on her very important task.


"Wear... oh, well. I suppose some might." Antimony's ears shifted. "Though many cannot afford such finery."


"Sounds just like Ul'dah!"


K'airos couldn't find anything in the correct shade of yellow. Instead, she found something red and imagined it was close enough to what she wanted. Or perhaps she completely forgot about the color yellow. She extended it over her chest and faced her mother. "We should also buy a mirror." she commented, looking down at herself.


"A mirror... those are rather--" Licking her lips, Antimony hesitated, and then smiled anxiously. "Of course. Though I am sure you would look beautiful in that." She gestured towards the item K'airos held.

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A very large and very white hat with legs moved across the streets of Ul'dah. Upon further inspection, the hat was actually hiding a lalafel. Her tiny hand was pulling from a Roegadyn woman that towered above her, guiding her across the city to its most famous inn, the Quicksand. They walked various steps into the building and then the lalafell stopped. 


"Were are here." Ulanan said, looking around. Her hand was still clenched on the other woman's clothes. "I don't see either of them, but they are likely in their room. If they didn't leave. We'll have to ask the innkeep. Do you want to wait at a table and have something to eat once I find them?" she asked, briefly looking up.


Cypress, followed the other woman's lead, the treated skirt bunched and wrinkled in her hand. Bandages wrapped about her head to cover her eyes and mess up her short, choppy hair, made from strands of oranges and pinks. "I'd rather find them first. The food will not go anywhere, but they might."


"That's why I said 'once I find them'." the lalafell replied grumpily. "This way." She carefully pulled the woman to the other side of Quicksand, going all the way around to avoid the lowered central area and the few steps that lead to it. 


When they reached the innkeep, she let the Roegadyn free for a moment to place her hands on the counter and use them to rise her head above it. She exchanged a short and low burst of words with the man, another white clothed lalafell, curiously, before going back to her. "It seems they are in the room I expected them to be." she started. "Having dinner. Do you want to interrupt them?"


"I think you already know the answer to that," came the answer. While Cypress might have felt lost amidst the tavern's patrons, but she didn't show it. Her back was straight and her face looked straight ahead, features determined.


"Manners are not your strenght, I see." Ulanan was quite grumpy that day. She grabbed the Roegadyn's clothes once more and pulled her towards the rooms. "It's this way. Watch out with the steps. Ul'dahns love steps and stairs and all kind of things that make walking difficult." 


Indeed, she was very grumpy.


D'hein was walking away from the rooms, looking at his feet, tail dragging sadly behind him. He still wore the destroyed clothes he'd been wearing since Vesper Bay.


Cypress followed, her large feet only occasionally knocking into something, "I was not raised among big cities like this one here. Indeed, I have spent most of my years away from civilizations. I do not intend rudeness."


"We'll have to educate you one day, then."


It was not long before Ulanan noted the familiar Miqo'te up ahead. She first pointed at him, but that lasted only about three seconds before she dropped her hand and frowned at herself. Pointing was not going to help the woman notice him any better.


"That's D'hein in the hallway." she commented. And then she called out to him while raising her free hand. At least he could see it. "D'hein!"


The man was still looking at his feet. When he heard his name, one ear twitched and swiveled, and he muttered as though in answer to some question. "Apparently petulant, by at least some accounts." He paused in mid-step.


Cypress looked down at where the sound was coming from, though that didn't actually do anything to help, "D'hein?" she repeated questioningly, habitually looking around with her head before she forced herself to stop.


"That's the man who was in Vesper Bay with them." she said, wondering if Cypress had forgotten him. She kept pulling Cypress, moving forward. "D'hein! Over here. I'm not -that- small."


D'hein lifted his gaze, seeing the pair, but seemed utterly drained of enthusiasm. "Hm? I apologize. You must forgive me. My life has been sapped from my very bones, that I now walk as though on a quivering thread."


"You speak with the wrong people about such things, or perhaps the right ones depending on your viewpoint." Her eyes itched and a red hand lifted up to her cheek to scratch under the bandage and at the edges of her eyelid against doctor's recommendation.


Ulanan didn't know if she should be worried about D'hein's words, or if it was just him overflowing with melodrama. "Did something happen to Antimony?" she asked plainly.


"Perhaps." D'hein sighed. "More likely something has happened with me, but you would not care about that. Antimony and K'airos have been given food and are well." He finally lifted his gaze far enough to see Burned Cypress' face, and blinked in bemusement. "What has happened?"


The hand stopped scratching at his question, and dropped down to her side, "We found... voidsent. Not the one that is housed by your daughter."


Ulanan took a long breath and let it out very slowly. "There was a shipwreck. It was recent. The voidsent might have attacked it while...D'aijeen's was attracting them to Vesper Bay." she finally said, mostly speculating about the subject. "We came back to make sure Antimony and her daughter were well."


"... I see. And... You were injured?"


Cypress made a grunt at Ulanan's assertion that they were here to check on the wellbeing of Antimony and her family. Certainly she had no ill-wishes towards them, but to say that was misdirection. "The lalafell harbored doubts," she answered, after all this time still unknowing of her guides name. "I paid for it.


Ulanan lowered her head and released the roegadyn's clothes. "I know it was my mistake. No need to throw it on my face in public." she grumbled.


D'hein lifted the palms of his hands in gesture. "That's not why I'm asking. Not at all. You found a Voidsent that was associated with D'aijeen somehow, but you did not find D'aijeen?"


The Roegayden shook her head, "No. We did not. We found the beastly pet and another, in the body of a girl. In the time it would have taken us to return to the ship crash and track her again, it would have been far too late."


"The alternative was to keep going and let her bleed to death." Ulanan added, looking up at Cypress. "That was not acceptable considering our small chances of success."


"Such dramatics," Cypress said dryly.


D'hein shrugged. "Antimony and K'airos are fine. Now what will you do?"


"It seemed a good possibility that... D'aijeen would return to her family. Or that they might know possible places where she would hide." Despite what everyone else may have believed, Cypress did not distinguish between the host and the voidsent in this case.


Ulanan simply stared at D'hein while the Roegadyn spoke.


"So you intend to question them further." D'hein shook his head. "Don't they warrant some time? Any at all?"


"Even if you stand still, Althyk will not stop time for you. This is not a matter that will wait for wounds to heal."


"We can't rest until the voidsent is dealt with for good." Ulanan added.


"Fine." D'hein said. "But you will approach them with ludicrous reverence."


"I won't pretend that I know what that means, If you wish to come D'hein to ensure it though, you may." Cypress's bandaged face turned down to where she knew her companion would be, by virtue of their enormous height difference, "Please, lead the way, lala."


"Ulanan." she replied, grumpy again. "We have names, too. And 'ludicrous reverence' means you should not be as blunt as you always are."


Ulanan, so that was the name, "Hmm. I can make no promises, all the better than I do not speak with them alone then."


"Speak to them as you would goddesses," D'hein said, stepping aside.


"Hmn. Perhaps you should re-examine your relationship with the Twelve. The stuttering flowery language many insist on would only annoy them."


Ulanan huffed, pulling the Roegadyn forward. "Because you speak with them personally on a daily basis."


Cypress stayed quiet at that, letting the tug on her clothing lead her forward.


The tiny woman stopped in front of a particular door, the one leading to Antimony's room. Her plainfolk ears distinguished two voices on the other side. "Here we are." she announced to the Roegadyn. "Watch your mountain manners." She then knocked the door.


Inside, K'airos didn't even have time to wonder about how expensive mirrors really were before the knock came. "Oh, maybe he forgot something." she said to Antimony, thinking it was D'hein at the door.


Antimony looked up sharply, expression conflicted, and finally sighed, "Perhaps," as she crossed the small room to open the door.


Cypress could only guess what Mountain Manners were. They were probably what D'hein was so worried she would exhibit though, as he'd asked her to speak with 'ludicrous reverence'. She remained quiet at Ulanan's side waiting for the knock to be answered.


When the door opened, Ulanan raised her head and did not smile. She was probably a bit gloomy, at least. "Hello, Antimony." she greeted plainly. "Are you well?"


That it was not D'hein stopped Antimony in her tracks, and when she looked past her short (and usually welcome) visitor to the other, she drew a sharp breath through her nose. "I was," she spoke thinly.


"It will yet be sometime before everything is well again," Cypress's deep voice sounded as if it was being dragged over the coals, smoky and rough as it was. "We are here with questions, not because we wished to torment."


"... I have no interest in your questions." She frowned sourly towards the red-skinned roegadyn before giving Ulanan an almost hurt look. She made to shut the door.


"Just give us two minutes." Ulanan begged from under her hat. "We won't bother you anymore after that."


Cypress kept her mouth shut for the time being, acknowledging that her guide knew how to navigate this sort of thing better than her.


Some indiscernible emotion flashed across Antimony's features at Ulanan's words. Her fingers shook briefly against the doorframe. Then she glanced back towards K'airos. "I must think of Airos. We will not entertain your questions."


K'airos shifted in placed, standing near the bed where all the clothing was piled on. 


"I understand. But the voidsent didn't stop with your daughter." Ulanan replied, plainly and in her most serious tone. She even boldly stepped in the way of the door. "We found the beast in a  shipwreck along the coast and destroyed it. But we don't know if it will reform or reappear somewhere else. We need your help to find if such a place exists."


"My help--" Antimony turned back to the door, brow knit tight behind her glasses. "What do you expect me to do, to find a voidsent? I have lost two of my children now for good. You will NOT ask me to put at risk the last!"


"Your daughter and the voidsent were one in the same. Your family knows more than any about it. After all that’s been left in its path, I would hope that you have some part that wishes to see what good may have resided in her put to rest and not overshadowed by what remains," The red woman stood towering in the hallway, her head aimed straight ahead, unable to focus on anything easily.


Ulanan threw the roegadyn a disapproving glance, but upon seeing her bandaged head, it hit her that such an action would have no effect. She still did it, of course. "We are not asking you to come with us." Ulanan turned to Antimony. "Just to tell us if you can think of anything that could help us."


D'hein lingered well down the hallway, far out of Antimony's range of view, though perhaps Ulanan and Cupress would realize his continued presence. He watched two carefully.


Tail flicking in agitation behind her, Antimony stared down in distress at her small friend. "... What I could tell you... I never understood Aijeen. If... if it was ever even--" Her ears shifted back to lay against the sides of her head. "I will never know where my daughter ended and the voidsent began. Please just let us mourn in peace."


"You say that you don't know where one ended and the other began. That’s why we are here. Because they are not so separate as you would wish."


Ulanan gripped on Cypress' clothes and pulled quite hard. "Manners!" she raised her voice. "Be tactful! Polite! Do they have none of that in your silly mountains?" She huffed and looked back at Antimony, spending a moment to look very apologetic. "Do you know if she had any...private location of her own back when she was still with you, in the Sagolii? Somewhere she could practice her magic without you knowing?"


Expression growing pained, Antimony leaned some of her weight on the door, though she didn't try to close it and squish Ulanan. She remembered those terrifying moments where K'aijeen's troublesome efforts had had their purpose revealed. She did not ever want to revisit such a place, but... "The cliffs. There was a cavern." She sighed thinly. "... There are many caverns. But hers... Ah, please, I do not wish to speak of this. Leave us be."


Cypress leaned down, into the direction that the her clothing was pulled tautly from to speak more directly with Ulanan, "Do you know where this is?"


Ulanan thought for a second, tapping her fingers against her chin. "I don't." she finally replied. 


"You won't find it." K'airos interjected, standing behind her mother. "It was deep in the Sagolii, and there's no way to know how much the dunes moved, or if they covered the cliffside..."


The lalafell gripped Cypress' clothes once more and spoke to her. "In any case, I just thought of something else we can do to further our search."


"What?" Cypress asked simply.


"Come!" Ulanan urged the woman to follow her by pulling enphatically. "No need to bother them any longer. Thanks for humoring us, Antimony!"


The Roegadyn stood her ground, the tugging at her clothes doing nothing to move her now that she didn't wish to do so. "I would have you tell me first, before we leave."


Expression slackening in confusion, Antimony just blinked between the lalafell and the roegadyn.


"D'aijeen lived in the dodo community." Ulanan said, using both hands to pull the Roegadyn. To no effect, naturally. "D'hein will know more."


"The other girl seemed to information as well," Cypress reasoned.


"I will not suffer you to interrogate my daughter," Antimony interjected with a sudden glare.


D'hein's ears popped up where he stood off to one side. Him? Know something? Strange thought. He wasn't sure if her did.


Ulanan sighed heavily. "Hey, K'airos!" she shouted, making the girl flinch at how sudden it was. "Did you live in the dodo place?"


"Wha- no, I didn't. I was-"


"Did you ever go there with your sister?"




Ulanan threw her hands int he air. "There! She doesn't know more than Antimony does. Let's ask D'hein instead. He probably knows that place like the back of his mane."


D'hein pawed at the back of his mane, appearing self-concious.


Cypress tried to contain the frustrated roar that built up inside her, "Did she not just speak of a cave? D'hein has information as well, perhaps. But I will not have us toss away opportunities."


"It was years ago, where she made..." Antimony's tail drooped, as did her voice, "... the demon. Please, you know all I can tell you."


"We don't know where it is. It's in the Sagolii, but we can't guide you there." K'airos replied, crossing her arms. "I would guide you there myself, but I don't know where it is!"


Ulanan kept pushing, being increasingly annoyed at Cypress. "All your plans to find the voidsent are to trust Althyk to throw you at places in the correct time. We can go wander aimlessly in the Sagolii after we look into the places we have closer!"


"Do not seek to make fun of that which you obviously do not understand. My relationship with Althyk is beyond reproach."


"I'm not making fun." Ulanan answered, grumpy. "But Althyk won't favor you if you don't help him help you by making things that make sense. Like examining her room in the dodo community."


Cypress relaxed slightly at that, "Hrm. I will not be of much help with such a thing now."


Working her jaw in tense silence, Antimony looked between the two.


Ulanan did something she hadn't done in a while right after that:


"All you actions aim to Althyk's aspirations, but Althyk already acts by aiming you in the apt approach!" she said, and pointed at D'hein down the hallway. "D'hein's right there, standing like a halfwit, as if some force pulled him to wait so he can help even though he doesn't know it."


"Not like a halfwit," D'hein retorted. "Like someone who doesn't trust the Roegadyn to act any better than a barbarian."


Flinching back from the door, Antimony's ears shifted towards the Tia's voice though she refused to look down the hall towards him. "In that case... you have even less reason to disturb us."


All of the social constructs and mannerisms pinged about Cypress, ironically only causing her discomfort, while it brough order and peace to everyone else. "Let us leave then."


Ulanan was most pleased about that. She almost squeaked. Almost. But that would have been unlady-like. "D'hein!" she called out, guiding Cypress with both hands. "Come with us!"


 He watched the two with some trepidation that was not unlike Antimony's own. "I'm afriad I see little point in these things, either."


Ulanan hurried to reply. "Don't be so contrarian. D'aijeen was hidden in D'ahl's room. She probably had her own room. We might find a clue on how to lure the voidsent, there."


"We have little to go on, now D'hein. That is why we are searching for leads now," Cypress had followed Ulanan to a stop just down the hall in front of D'hein.


D'hein eased heavily to one side, turning slowly and watching the cieling as he thought. His ears swiveled incongrously. "I am not sure I wish to return to the commune presently, however."


"You're cooperation was not a question. You were not asked to volunteer."


"Ack! Your manners are terrible!" Ulanan complained. "We'll let the man at least change clothes. He's wearing the same attire he was in Vesper Bay. We can eat something while we wait. Olives! Those will cheer you up."


Antimony took a step back from the doorway then and eased her weight from the door as though to let it shut. "He mourns as we do. If you've any heart at all, give him peace." She turned from the door then.


"I did not mean because of something as simple as my attire." D'hein paced towards the exit where the inn became the tavern. "If I wanted to change, the Commune is where I would go to do it. I meant, overall, I am unsure if it is wise for outsiders to enter the Commune at the moment."


“It will not be time for peace until the matter is laid to rest and your daughter with it. To deny such a thing is shoulder responsibility for what she does," Cypress continues to ignore Ulanan's cautions about manners, mostly because she doesn't know how to use them constructively.


Ulanan huffed and threw her hands in the air, releasing her and doing nothing more.


Antimony blanched, her back to the door. "You--you would dare--" It would not look well to K'airos, but Antimony could stand it no longer. She flung her arm behind her to slam the door shut.

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Outside the room, Ulanan pulled from Cypress' clothes so they could follow D'hein towards the tavern. "Would such a thing hurt your new position?" she asked the man.


Cypress followed as she'd been forced to do across many miles now, "This is more important than petty concerns. It deserves proper deference."


"The key to empathy and politeness is understanding that the importance you put on issues is not the same as those that others do. I've lost too much to put great emphasis on your hunt." D'hein glanced behind him as he walked. "Not that I mean to be rude."


"Let's pretend we can wait." Ulanan said. She immediately looked up at Cypress and raised her hand, sensing an incoming a protest. "Just for a moment! When could we go to your commune and investigate?"


Unfortunately, Cypress couldn't see the hand raised in warning. But she could hear the voice raising in pitch, so she held her tongue to herself. Though her imagination was nowhere to be found, the Roegadyn recognized that her guide was far better with people than she was.


"I'm not sure. It's a sensitive time for the commune. We just lost a Nunh and have a complete re-ordering of power occurring. The death of D'ahl coincided with that, unrelated though it was." The man paused and seemed to ponder his lapels. "And I guess someone needs to tell them that D'aijeen is gone now, as well."


The lalafell frowned. "Well, that's not very helpful. We can't do much else about the voidsent without any new clues. We'll have to sit here and wait." She sighed. "Hope that the voidsent still feels some attachment to her family."


"That is why we back here, after all," finished Cypress. "Even if you do not allow us entry, you should bring us something of hers. So that I may scry for some sign."


"She was not a woman of many possessions," Dhein replied. "I'll see what I can find. Perhaps, once things have settled down at the Commune, I can let you in. Perhaps."


"D'aijeen likely had some in Vesper Bay." Ulanan pondered out loud. "Did K'airos or Antimony ask for them? Maybe that will save you the effort."


The man said firmly, "I'd rather it didn't actually."


"What do you mean by that?" asked Cypress gravely.


"He means he doesn't want us to bother them anymore. So he'll get you something to scry on."


Cypress nodded her head, "If the arrangement will suit, then we will wait for you here."


"Yes, something along those lines." D'hein said. "And if I find out you've been imposing I'll become somewhat less gracious."


"I won't let her." Ulanan smiled and pulled Cypress clothes somewhat playfully. "If she tries, I'll lead her subtly so she falls into the fountain outside."


"You would regret it if you did." No smile cast its way across Cypress's strong features.


"I trust you, Ulanan." D'hein smirked. His tired ears bounced. "Now, I suppose, because it's important to you all, I should check up on the Commune."


"Feel free to change your clothes before." the lalafell said. "Since I think you were a little distressed about that. Or maybe it was just my impression. We'll wait here."


"Yes, that we will. And I believe that Ulanan wished for food, so perhaps the timing is good."


D'hein chuckled. "It's adorable to see you two taking care of each other. Good evening." He turned to go.

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K'airos had been standing behind Antimony most of the time. She stared sadly at a random point near the door. "They are right, though." she said.


"Airos!" Antimony fell away from the door, and her hands fell upon her daughter's shoulders. Her voice wavered, "Do not listen to them! There is nothing more we can do - nothing more we should do. You have suffered enough."


K'airos had been standing behind Antimony most of the time. She stared sadly at a random point near the door. "They are right, though." she said. The young woman kept looking at the same point on the door, her ears dropping to the sides of her head. "That monster took D'aijeen from us." she said. "I'm not helping them because I don't know how to do so. Slashing at it with a sword isn't the kind of help they need, and it's the only thing I know how to do."


Something in the way K'airos spoke made Antimony's heart ache. Her ears fell, and she pulled her daughter into a hug. "You know much more than that, sweetheart," she murmured weakly. "It's just... there's nothing any of us can do to help. No more. Can we just... try and forget?"


K'airos stood silently for a moment, burying her head on her mother's shoulder. Her ears shifted angles, though they were always low, and her lips curved down to a side. "Limsa." she muttered, changing the subject and then pushing slightly away from the hug. "I wonder if sailing is hard."


"I don't know; I've never tried." She did her best to keep K'airos close, though she did let the young woman have some space. Whenever she breathed, her daughter's scent made her heart feel impossibly frail but somehow stronger. "Perhaps you could learn? I would support you."


"I imagine I'd have to learn, being a city on the sea and all..." Her ears did not lift up as she spoke. However, the girl's expression changed to a neutral one. "Do they have giant insects in La Noscea?"


"Not that I've seen, no." She paused, petting K'airos's hair distractedly. "... Though I never traveled beyond the roads."


"They have roads?" K'airos was somehow surprised. Geography was probably not her favorite subject. She spoke with some degree of disappointment. "I thought they'd have canals and boats for everything. But!" She paused to smile. "If they have roads I won't have to worry about buying a boat! Though I should learn to use one anyway, so...and I wonder if I'll need to buy my own yellow jacket or if the uniform is given to you when you join..." She'd likely continue to ramble if allowed.


"It's not all water. Most live on the islands." Antimony almost smiled, but it was a sad expression. Her fingers moved from K'airos's hair to rest on her shoulders, and then slid down to the sides of her arms. "Don't worry about clothing. Though... perhaps you should make good on the Tia's gift now."


[10/24/2014 8:27:30 PM] Kyle: In the next room, Megiddo killed two people.

[10/24/2014 8:28:03 PM] Adrienne D: ((That doesn't count))

[10/24/2014 8:28:10 PM] Kyle: ((Dern))

[10/24/2014 8:28:12 PM] Amelia P.: Unfortunately, they were the only witnesses to the action, so no one will ever know.


It was around this time that a sharp knock lit upon the door. It was fast, sudden, and brief, as though someone had only hit it in passing. Several seconds later, it came again. Twice this time, high on the door.


K'airos huffed and lamented the interruption, slumping forward by a small degree and saying. "Maybe one day I'll get to it. I wonder who is it, this time?"


Tail shivering, Antimony pursed her lips and turned reluctantly from her daughter. "I will deal with them, Airos." Stepping purposefully to the door, Antimony set her jaw and yanked it open, "I thought I made myself clear that we would not suffer your interrogations any longer?"


"I do remember a curt dismissal formerly, but I do not recall those exact words." Megiddo pulled out his dirty beard and stared at the ceiling, pondering. His pale clothes were brown with dust. Thhey were exactly what he had been wearing last time, just dirtier.


K'airos clasped her hands together, letting them hang in front of her. She blinked at the old man, but said nothing.


Breathing in through her nose, Antimony took a half step back. "Ah, Megiddo--" Her ears twitched, tail curling in uncertainty as to how to react to the old man's presence. She sighed, wilting a little. "... I apologize. It has been a difficult time. I do not think we are... up to visitors."


"It's okay." K'airos said, tilting her whole torso to a side, trying to see the man better. "I don't think I know this person."


"I apologize for intruding. At least let me introduce myself to your daughter." The old Duskwight put a hand to his chest and inclined his head. "My name is Megiddo Desfosse. Your mother has sought my advice on some occasions, and I have sought hers. I believe I saw my granddaughter leaving the Quicksand some time ago?"


Ears lowering further, Antimony glanced back towards her daughter. "He... helped me find you again," she added quietly, and then looked to the Duskwight. Weariness deepened the fine lines in her face. "I do not approve of how you're interacting with Miss Loughree."


"Oh!" K'airos let out in surprise. She followed it by hiding her mouth behind both hands. "I was confused for a moment! I thought..." She stopped, and blinked at her mother's back. "You do not approve?"


"I've been trying," said Megiddo, sounding defensive, or like he was mocking a defensive tone. "No harassment. I'm still serving her jail sentence so she does not need to worry about that. And she's begun to behave industriously! I saw her building things."


Her brow pulled down with her ears. "And would you have anything to do with someone she cares about going missing?"


K'airos kept quiet. She straightened her posture and let her hands fall in front once more. She wondered how the man was serving anyone's jail sentence while not being in jail.


"I don't know about missing." Megiddo again began to ponder. "Unless you mean the little girl?"


Closing her eyes briefly, her tail quivering, Antimony struggled for a moment to keep herself together and then let out a heavy breath. "Of course that is who I mean, Megiddo."


The young woman watched her mother's tail. Then, she raised her eyes to the man. "What do you know?" she asked plainly.


Megiddo shook his head. "It's not so melodramatic. My granddaughter HAD been caring for a child, but when she began to have her breakdown, she gave the child to a charity that cares for and seeks homes for refugee orphans. Which is what the girl was, so it was wise. The child isn't missing. She was placed in a home."


"She did not," Antimony said plainly.


K'airos wasn't sure what was going on anymore.


"Did not...?" Megiddo blinked, tilting his weary head. "Did not what?"


"Give the child to an orphanage." Again her eyes shut, and she brought one hand to her temple. "I... do not have the energy for this, Megiddo. Whatever you've done with her, I ask you to undo it. For Miss Loughree."


"She was very upset." K'airos offered, trying to be helpful.


The old man seemed confused and disturbed. "I suppose I may have been incorrect in my knowledge? After all, I'm a hermit, not an investigator. If I don't know that, however, I don't know anything. I merely came by to inquire as to the well-being of yourself and your daughter."


"We..." Her hand fell from her temple, fingers weaving together down by her waist. She was silent a moment and then murmured, "I am sorry. This is perhaps not a good time. Airos shouldn't be disturbed."


K'airos ears dropped and then suddenly lifted. "We are both fine, as you can see." she said, keeping her tone down. She offered a smile. "Thank you for asking."


"I'm glad," Megiddo smiled. "And what of your other daughter?"


Antimony paled at that, nearly swayed on her feet. Her hand tightened on the edge of the door, perhaps to keep her balance. "Now is not the time to revisit it, Megiddo."


K'airos ears dropped, again, and this time they did not lift up. "She died to a voidsent." she said, tone shaken.


"Oh. I apologize. I did not mean to trudge such a thing up. If only I..." His features twisted, and then he shrugged. "Well. The past is past. I can tell from my experience, however, that there will still be brighter days."


"We are still... working towards that. Please, Megiddo, now is not the time," Antimony breathed wearily.


The young Miqo'te shifted her weight from one foot to the other and crossed her arms. "Yes. Uh...was there anything else?"


"That is all." Megiddo lifting his hands, chuckling. "Although, I have a question that might be unrelated. What was the tribe you come from again?"


"... The Hipparion," Antimony murmured, somewhat reluctantly. Even speaking her family's name made her chest ache almost unbearably. She missed... "But it does not matter anymore."


"Why did you ask that?" K'airos questioned.


"In my wandering I heard mention of a migrating tribe coming out of the Sagolii. One of their members was treated for injuries in Drybone -- nothing serious. The tribe has moved into Eastern Thanalan. It may be your very same tribe."


Tail quivering again, Antimony leaned her weight just slightly on the door. "Airos already... I appreciate your concern and efforts. But I cannot... if you could please just leave us to rest."


"I already spoke with some of them, and they told of that. Though...thank you for mentioning it." K'airos said, tapping her fingers together. "We don't think we'd be welcome there."


"Ah, that's a pity. Another thing I must apologize for bringing up." Megiddo smiled an unhappy smile and shook his head. "I'll go, then. My apologies."


"I apologize," Antimony repeated quietly.


"Maybe you can visit us again when we are in Limsa." K'airos offered. "We'll...have a more cheerful mood then. Hopefully." She dropped her head, staring at her feet.


"Perhaps if I go you can have a more cheerful mood sooner than you think. I won't linger. Good night, both of you."


Antimony looked exceedingly guilty at that, but just made to gently shut the door.


"Ah...alright. Good night!" K'airos waved one hand to a side, lazily and mostly as a social reflex.


Megiddo waves as well, casting them a smile and a small bow before turning to leave.


"I am sorry for that, Airos," Antimony murmured once Megiddo was gone and the door shut once again. She rested her hand against it for a moment, not wanting to turn back to her daughter just yet until she'd regained some composure. "... You were going to try some clothes."


"I was." she nodded. Her tail was hidden behind one of her legs, as if it had been glued to it. She moved to the pile of clothes they had been ignoring for so long, and placed both hands on it. "Colors." she muttered, and then turned to her mother. "What color do you think looks best on me?"


Breathing deeply, Antimony turned from the door and donned a small smile for her daughter. "Most anything would look beautiful on you." She paused, and her tail swung slowly once. "... You used to love wearing my ceremonial robe, as a toddler. The elders had used some special pigments from outside traders to dye it a beautiful blue."


"I think I saw something blue..." The young woman mumbled. She raised some clothes, extended them no matter their color and then threw them to a side. Quickly, a second pile was forming. She eventually found something blue. "Blue!" she exclaimed, smiling and placing it over her chest. Her tail swung behind her.


"It's lovely." Her features softened and she gestured towards the small bathroom. "Go, try it on."


"It has some black on it, too." It was not very clear if she was complaining or cheering over that detail. Without looking, she went into the bathroom and closed the door so she could try it on.

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The next day K'airos had left early in the morning, having nothing for breakfast more than a loaf of bread. She was sure she'd be back in less than a bell had passed. Quitting the Blades wouldn't take long, she thought. She was using the blue and black bilaud, the one she found in the pile of clothes D'hein had brought, and matching trousers. She wasn't going to, at first, but then it struck her that presenting herself to the captain in a pretty and expensive dress and uttering the words "I quit." would make the man quickly come to conclusion as to why she was quitting. It would be an incorrect one, but that didn't bother her. She didn't want to talk about it.


She returned later than planned, a bell and half later, to the Quicksand. She entered the building and made a line to the closest railing. She leaned on it and looked between the tables, wondering if her mother was waiting for her outside their room.


Antimony was not. She had left the room only for a few minutes, just after K'airos had gone, to order some more tea. Once she had the pot and cup in hand, she'd returned to the inn room and remained cloistered there. The Quicksand had seemed far too boisterous, even as quiet as it was in the morning, and the potential for running into people she did not wish to speak with was uncomfortably high in that public place. She spent the time without K'airos attempting to distract herself from an instinctive worry - straightening and folding her daughter's clothes, cleaning up the washroom, and eventually just sitting at the rebuilt coffee table and attempting to plot out the itinerary they would require to make it securely back to Limsa.


Not seeing her mother around, the young Miqo'te woman moved across the Quicksand's restaurant towards the rooms. Or was it a bar? The technicalities bothered her long enough to notice she was standing in front of her mother's room. She raised one fist to knock, then dropped it. It was not her mother's room. It was -their- room. She didn't have to knock at all. She places the hand on the knob and pushed the door open, entering.


"I'm back!" she announced.


Green eyes did not so much lift towards the door as adjust their focus, for Antimony had for the past ten minutes been watching the door like a hawk. She was certain it had been longer than K'airos had said it would take. She had tried not to worry.


When her daughter stepped in, her feet carried her immediately from her chair towards the young woman with a relieved smile. "It is good to see you back. Tell me now, are you ready to begin our journey?"


The girl raised a finger and opened her mouth. Quickly, she changed her mind and closed the door behind her by letting her back rest on it. Her ears were angled oddly on her head. "Uhm. No. I didn't quit."


The smile remained for several seconds on Antimony's face, though her ears shifted in confusion. "Airos... did they not allow it? They can't hold you as a slave, dear." She paused and then, "... did you change your mind?"


"Yes! I mean...no. The captain didn't give me a chance to quit. But then yes!" the girl leaned forward, getting away from the door. "It looks like someone has been talking really well about me, because a rich merchant wants to hire me specifically as a bodyguard." she said, straightening her posture and smiling proudly.


Antimony's features could not decide if they wanted to continue smiling or fall into something else. Her voice, however, she pumped excitement into at a level that sought to match her daughter's on clear pride, "Oh Airos! That's wonderful. Of course anyone should speak highly of you, I should know. But..." Her face settled on worried. "A bodyguard. That sounds awfully dangerous."


K'airos didn't seem to be affected by such worries. "It is! But not more than being a Brass Blade. And he's paying better! Though the Blades will keep a chunk of the gil, but it's still a lot more than what I earn! Or what I'd earn as a Yellowjacket..."


"I suppose... but a Brass Blade could just chase down simple thieves or... or fine a disorderly party-goer. A bodyguard... that implies a threat to your - or, your employer's that is - life!" Her brow knit together. "Are you certain, Airos? I want to know you're safe."


"Brass Blades also fight Amalj'aa. I don't think any thug would be more dangerous than that." her daughter replied, half pondering about it. After saying that, she placed her hands on her hips. Her ears perked up and her tail swung from one side to the other. "But it's still even better! He's not always in the area, but still wants to ensure I'm ready for whenever he is. So, I'll be payed even without being in, you know, actual danger! It seems like a very safe job. We could even buy a house somewhere in a few months!"


Antimony seemed to calm a bit as K'airos continued, and at her daughter's last sentence she even smiled, though it was tinged with sadness. She found herself lacking in words for a moment, so instead she simply moved forward to wrap her arms about the young woman. Finally she said, "Alright, Airos. I will support you in whatever you choose, so if you wish to take this job... I will stay with you here."


The woman hopped once and almost clapped her hands. "That's great! Now we need to pack. The captain said I shouldn't make him wait too long." She walked to where she remembered the pile of clothes being. If she was surprised at not finding it there, she did not show any signs. She stopped in front of the bed and looked around. "We'll have to move to Drybone first, since he's there right now. Possibly stay there a week or so before he leaves to Gridania again."


Antimony blinked. "Drybone." She felt her heart drop to her stomach, and it might have leaked into her expression for half a second before she smiled towards her daughter. She forced herself to move to distract from the sinking desperation, the knowledge of what was now far too close to Drybone. She went to the small dresser, where she'd stowed away K'airos's clothing, and her own remaining outfits. "Ah, of course. He is a Gridanian, then? I suppose that makes sense that he would want a guard when doing business in another territory."


"I think so!" K'airos nodded, walking towards the dresser as soon as she noticed her mother doing the same. "The captain implied he was a jeweler, leader of a company of craftsmen here in Ul'dah. Though they are not affiliated with any of the actual guilds."


"Really now? Odd that he would even be able to do business here, in that case." She'd learned much about Ul'dah's economy in her time spent investigating a certain tribe, and one thing was clear - the craftsman guilds in Ul'dah maintained strong grips on their markets. Lifting carefully folded clothes from the dresser, she began to pile them on the bed. It occurred to her that they may not have a bag large enough to fit everything.


"I don't know if it'd be practical to bring all of this to Drybone." the daughter mused. "D'hein brought a lot of clothes!"


"We've nowhere to keep it, Airos. And it's not so much." Distantly she wondered if she should start considering attempting to retrieve her other possessions from Limsa, but that sparked even more worries of its own and now was just not the time for those thoughts.


"Well." the girl shrugged. "Maybe one day we will! And where are your things?"


Antimony blinked. Was K'airos a mind-reader? "Oh, sweetheart, don't worry about my things." She smiled towards her daughter. "Let me take care of that. I want you to focus on yourself. Staying safe, doing a good job, being happy."


She nodded. "If you say so. We should pack up, then have breakfast and then leave. Oh!" She joined her hands together. "Maybe we should let D'hein know we are going to Drybone. He might worry otherwise."


Small lips pressed together at that, but a moment later she sighed. Her tail shifted. "Yes... Yes, I suppose you are right. Always thoughtful, Airos." She cast a soft look towards her daughter. "Neither of us are setting foot near the Dodo commune, however. If he is not immediately around, we will simply have to leave a letter."


K'airos ears shook up and down once. "Oh?" she uttered, and then, with her ears dropping somewhat, she asked something else. "Is there anyone else we should tell? That lalafell friend of yours, maybe? And that..." She gestured with her hands, raising them well above her head and then dropping them. "...elezen old man whose name I...forgot."


Antimony turned away, busying herself with straightening the pile of clothes uselessly to hide her guilty expression from her daughter. Ulanan's persistence in tagging along with that roegadyn voidsent hunter bothered her deeply. She wasn't sure it was quite betrayal, but she was reluctant to go looking for her friend when it meant likely also having to suffer the blinded woman's interrogations. "... I will let them know. I would not simply disappear on my friends, after all. Though... I suspect Megiddo would be able to find us anyway."


K'airos squinted, moving her hands to help her mother with the useless straightening of clothes. "He mentioned he was serving time in jail." she commented plainly. "Is he a...dodgy...kind of man?"


She sighed at that. "Not precisely. You've nothing to worry about from him." She smiled towards K'airos. "Now let's find something to pack these in. I'll make arrangements for us to leave."

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