Liyara stumbles upon a fire lion. Trash Pandas interfere. The city is burned to the ground*
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The city of Mabase. It's beautiful, but chaotic. It's tranquil, until it's not. And today, it's on fire.
Alright, so not the entire city is on fire. But at the moment, a small map of the city is on fire. A red-headed woman with golden horns, golden wings, and even a golden tail is holding said map and huffing to herself as she walks along the Twisted Street. With each huff, little puffs of fire singe and sear the map, and it's slowly lighting aflame. Soon there won't be a map left to look at, but the woman doesn't seem to be concerned with that.
"What kind of tourist-drivel is this? I wanted planar information, not where I can find the best beef bowls!" Someone's unhappy. And not entirely looking where she's going. She does sidestep the giant greatsword someone left embedded in the sidewalk, though. So there's that.
Chiffon is on the prowl. When in doubt, follow your nose! The lionwolf is moving at a cheerful trot until he catches the scent of flame, and smoke, and though small there is intrigue to it.
So he's been out of sorts for a while. Getting lost is a habit, sure, but he's not enjoying the part where he's on his lonesome! Given from the questions he's prone to asking, whoever he is looking for may not be prone to stealth. Or so he would hope. Still, it's not long before he crosses pass with the winged, horned, tailed woman going the other way.
He carefully side-steps just enough to avoid tripping, but maybe not contact; that's the feline part talking. With a lifted head he remarks, as of course one would when passing a complete stranger, "It's sort of information! Like the people here are primarily concerned with beef bowls." A teaching moment! Though there's an honest question to be had. "You're looking for something too?"
The horned woman doesn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary at first, brushing against Chiffon without seeming to react, though she responds to his words immediately. "But it's not helpful!" She sounds grumpy, but she just keeps walking along, her frustrated huffs slowly burning through her map. Eventually, though, enough of the map burns away that she can see past it, and she blinks, and then curses a bit. "Haularake!" Is she the only one in this cursed place actually putting some effort into getting back home? It feels like it, sometimes.
It's about that time that she processes the fact that she walked past, bumped against, and conversed with someone. She stops, and takes a look back towards the one speaking. It takes her a moment. There are a lot of people, and then there's... the rather unusually colored lion. Wolf? Lycanthropic Lion. She'll go with that. "...Oh. Sorry. I didn't notice you there." That much was pretty obvious. "...And yes, I'm looking for any information on adjacent planes, but almost noone here has even heard of the arcane. It's terribly frustrating."
Chiffon's ears tilt back at the curse as though he understands it! Though clearly he doesn't. He smiles in that bluntmuzz way and lifts a forepaw. "No trouble. Ahh, I could tell you endless stories about the place I came from. But..." He gestures off with a claw. "I do not think it would help you answer the question you are really asking. It sounds like it is one of those things that are not common knowledge here."
It takes him a moment to give the draconic woman a little space. There's a gleaming of golden eyes as he looks, studies, never seeing anything LIKE her before but also not unaccustomed to new things in steady report. "And who knows WHAT that looks like here. It's not my concern at the moment. I'm just looking for someone who... looks like me." To other eyes, anyway.
He sighs heavily and ticks off his claws. "Then beef bowls. Then maybe some long-distance travel. But, but, mm. We can't...." He peers a long moment and leans back. "Can we? Help each other." Well, it never hurts to ask.
That gets some consideration from the red-haired woman. Her golden-scaled tail thrashes behind her for just a moment, and she purses her lips, looking thoughtful. Her own eyes, a vivid and supernaturally saturated green, meet the golden eyes of Chiffon, and she smiles just a little. "Well. I'm sure I can keep an eye out for another..." She gestures at Chiffon, just the entirety of him, as if that was enough. "...of your unique countenance." Right back at you.
The woman looks thoughtful, and then offers a hand out, palm facing up. "I'm Liyara. Who should I report other fire lions to?" Yup. She's settled on Lions. Fire lions. That seems fair. Or at least possibly accurate.
Chiffon's attention is drawn by the movement. His otherwise calm demeanor is betrayed by a single wiggle, but he corrects it when their eyes meet. "Likewise, if you think it would help. We're Sanuye. Though I'm sure that's as meaningful to you as many such things to me." Though, there is a good point to it; it'd be hard to mistake too many others for him or his counterpart.
"To Chiffon!" A bow. Yep, that's him. "I don't think I've found a convenient way to keep in contact with people since the last shift. Jump. Whatever these are. If I could get my paws on some pearl devices, and.. uh.." He frowns and scratches his chin. "Someone who knows what the heck how to make them. Ooh, too many problem. But plenty of time, I suppose."
As it turns out, Liyara isn't exactly known for apologizing or backing down. She's done it, but it's not exactly what one might consider her strong suit. So when Chiffon corrects her - she doesn't try to make amends, she just nods. "Sanuye." She pronounces it the same way Chiffon did, and pauses for a moment, waiting. Is that his name? Is he one of those 'royal we' types? No. It's his species, she determines, after he says she should report others to Chiffon.
"Oh, don't worry. I can get ahold of people. One of my talents. But I'm afraid I don't know what you mean." The woman has read dictionaries front to back, but it doesn't sound like Chiffon is using 'jump' or 'pearl' in any way she's heard them used before.
Naturally, leave it to the less intellectual of the leonine pair to confuse all the details unintentionally. "That's all about right, yes. Now. I don't have the coin on hand to buy you a beef bowl, but if we've both got our noses to the ground, then we both might turn up things that are useful to the other."
He sits back, looking right proud of the thought. Useful! Yes, that would be very nice. "Ah. Well, how I originally ended up lost was a bit lackluster. Bit more mist than is usual, and poof, in some place completely different." He sticks his tongue out in faint distress. "They call them link pearls." Whoever they is. "Little stones that are all connected through some sort of telepathic enchantment. Goodness knows if I could have gotten ahold of a pair I wouldn't be in this mess to begin with. Probably."
The Sanuye shrugs. Oh, he's curious, but he's not about to go prying deep into a stranger's magical abilities. Not without some sort of meal first.
"Well, as it turns out..." Liyara responds, a little bit of a smirk appearing on her face. "...I do know a place that doesn't charge anything for a meal. I don't know if the beef bowls are as good as the tourist-spots on that..." She uses the word loosely. "... *Map*..." One can actually hear the disdain in her voice. "...But you wouldn't need any coin." Isn't that all that needs to be said? Who doesn't want free food?
"...And those devices sound like sending stones. I can't make them, I fear. But I'll keep my eyes open for a pair."
"That works well enough for me. Let me tell you, it's hard to keep a steady job when things are this topsy turvy." Chiffon laments, dipping his head down. Hard times call for hard measures, though when they're coming back to back like this they're remarkably trying. "Going to need a bit of a doozy to get set up again. Then we can buy and burn all the maps we could ever want."
Yes, that is clearly ideal. With a hop hop trot he's in the right direction. Which is, which ever way Liyara is pointing. "That's alright, I can't make them either. I'm sure there's a hundred different similar things floating around here, just got to find ones that work over distances. Don't fizzle out on you. And, ahh, I'm talking your ear off already.."
That simply earns a laugh from Liyara. "Well, if we're in the position to burn all the maps, I suppose that's a step in the right direction." While they're discussing the metaphorical direction to proceed in, Liyara is actually leading the way in the direction of The Usual Restaurant. It's pretty dull, but infinite free food? That gives it a luster that isn't equaled by most things in the multiverse.
"...And you're better conversation than I was expecting, today, which is none." While Liyara does run into some friendly people from time to time, she's mostly left to her own devices. She spent two weeks without interacting with a soul. Well. Does Tabitha count? ... Probably a little.
One of the side alleys on the way has the sound of activity as something sizable mucks about in the shadows. A small figure is perched atop a dumpster with some kind of half-demolished piece of machinery mostly anchored inside the metal bin clutched in his small hands. A tug of war ensues regarding a particular piece that just does not want to give up and come loose.
Eventually, however, the silhouette wins and the part comes loose with a crunching pop -- all too suddenly -- sending the figure backward off the dumpster onto a trash can. The lid gives way and pivots in place, flipping over, while the small creature tumbles inside with a thud. The lid rolls all the way over and back into place leaving the sound of muted expletives to be heard by anybody nearby.
The lid slowly rises and a head peeks up and out. It's a panda! ...wait.
"I don't think my fire is quite as impressive..." At best it'd be a pale imitation! Wait, is Chiffon really on board for this 'burn the tourist material' thing? It sounds like a good idea at the time, at least. "Oh, well, conversation is free, as they say. I'd be happy to touch base, chatter until you've had enough small talk to last you the winter..." He squints up at the Usual. The Usual? How unusual. "I'm getting the strangest sense of Deja Vu..."
He hears the commotion, sees a face pop out. Squints with intense focus, trying to solve this puzzle. And the best way to solve those is snoots. The snff-snff-snff hones in all the way up onto 'panda' ears. Give him a minute. He'll get it.
While she's accustomed to many strange things, both from her life pre and post-Twisted, Liyara is still startled to hear the sounds coming from the alley. It's not like she's immune to surprise. "Ah!" She turns her head away from Chiffon to glance at the source of the noise. After the spinning lid settles down and then slowly rises atop the head of the trash's newest occupant, Liyara beams brightly. "Oh, Rocket. You startled me. What're you doing in there?"
Yes, it seems Liyara didn't notice Rocket's abject failure to play tug of war with an inanimate object and not get thrown for a loop. She could probably infer from his cursing that he made a mistake, but she seems to have the grace not to mention it.
The one that begins to climb up and out of the container wears a yellow jumpsuit. Notably, he also has a very particular scent not only regarding his personal smell but the odor from the materials he works with. Unfortunately, the trash can is mostly empty so there isn't much to hold it in place as the raccoon begins to emerge.
The can tips over, raccoon still mostly inside it, before clattering and rolling over toward the feet of those nearby. Like a spin cycle, Rocket gets spun about in the process, and when it finally comes to rest the small creature lies upon his back, half-out of the metal can, peering upward.
"Blimey, Liyarer, why are you upside-down? And so hairy?"
"Rocket? That Rocket?" Chiffon blinks a couple times. This begs all sorts of questions. Last time he was just, poof, in one place, and then poof in another. But being back in familiar places. Familiar faces! Things starting to line up again, just a little. It feels utterly cataclysmic. But there's something about the familiarity that is comforting, in spite of all that. "You know each other?"
The Sanuye gently nips at Rocket, attempting to scruff him and sit him upright to face the less-furry Liyarer and lets out a worried breath. "You. You're here. Where's my boyfriend?"
Uh, yeah. So there's that.
An unusual sound fills the air, one that isn't often heard these days. Liyara gives a slight giggle at Rocket's question, and then tilts her head to one side. "I think your newest vehicle may be responsible." Her smile filters down to a smirk, and her eyes light up a bit as she realizes that Chiffon seems to know the raccoon.
"The only Rocket I've ever met." She looks positively delighted now. "It's nice when you can meet old friends again."
"Gack!" exclaims the dizzy raccoon as he gets pulled upright, but he's a bit too wobbly to stand. Sitting there on the ground, with something held in his hands, he needs a moment to screw his head on straight. Blinking a few times, a gaze is passed between Liyara and Chiffon before he's able to really respond.
"Wot? Oh. You'uh vat Candletail I've seen at va Usual before. Well, va uhvuh one. Still mostly va same 'ere, really." Laying the mechanical part on his lap, Rocket reaches up to hold his head as if to somehow make things stop spinning. "I 'ave no idea where Liyarer's boyfriend is," he replies, perhaps misunderstanding in his dizzy confusion. "'e'd 'ave t'be one 'eckova tough fellow, I can say vat much. Probably 'ave t'be good wif maps, too."
How did he know?
It's a questionable rise as Rocket tries to stand, wobbly and a bit unsteady, but he doesn't exactly fall over. Yet. He brings that piece along, too, before trying to stuff it into a pocket that's just a bit too small. "Yeah, flark vat can. Didn't do anybody any good." Turning around, the raccoon aims a kick at the can much larger than he is and seems to be able to easily send the thing skittering over the ground leaving a trail of refuse in its wake. "Va's wot you get for messing wif Rocky!"
Chiffon sits back and has a Deep Look that implies a lot of mental calculus. Well, mental arithmetic. "... no, you're right, you're right. Something this recognizable it's a good place to wait. Or at least come back to." Expeditions and finding things were a big part of his thing, so why couldn't he find just one (other) candletail? The walls of concern wash down to a low chuckle though. He even thinks about licking Rocket's face.
Then there's all that trash stuff. He thinks better of it.
"Nice. Yeah, that's.. it rather is." He sighs and shakes his head vigorously. "That'll learn them good," he agrees to 'Rocky.' "If you're friends, well, that's a singing endorsement I think."
"Oh. I don't have a boyfriend." Liyara contradicts Rocket immediately, hiding a musical laugh behind one hand. When she finishes, she puts her hands behind her back and her eyes lid a bit. "...I don't think most could take the heat." Puns! Everyone loves puns.
As Liyara hears Chiffon, she giggles once more. "I'm not sure I've actually heard Rocket sing, yet. But somehow, I think I can picture it." Now she's just having fun at his expense.
Rocket takes a moment to brush himself off. He's not filthy, per se. He's just a little worn from time spent salvaging. "I could to'ally be your boyfriend, Liyarer." Because of COURSE he has to step up with the question at hand. "I'll 'ave you know I've probably dealt wif worse." ...well, that's a charming way to put it. "But va's if you want a go and fink 'eat's a bad fing, innit. I'm one a'vose more analy'ical types." That's why he looks for repeating patterns in chaos!
"So why va flark are we looking for somebody if 'e doesn't exist?" Apparently the raccoon is going to tag along now. He got what he came for anyway. "If vem's one a'vose feore'ical mind-puzzle exercises..." he postulates to nobody in particular and begins walking. Wait, where were we they going again? Does he know? ...the Usual seems to be a hub for everything, after all. "Also, I can to'ally sing. I prefer wot t'ave a few drinks in me first, if you get me understanding."
"I am ESPECIALLY resillient," Chiffon huffs, as a matter of pride, one paw to his cape-bound chest. "I admit. You have my curiosity. But in terms of romance, ahh. Every road seems to lead me back to him." Mushy stuff. The Sanuye dusts it off and stre~tches long before considering Rocket.
"/My/ better half, Rockit. Flesh and blood. Of course if he happened in with a few drinks in you, you might not have been able to tell us apart. Or... oh, I don't know." He rolls a shoulder back and gives a blithe glance at Liyara. "... well, should we get a few drinks innem?" If it can't be a productive night, it may as well be a fun one.
"Somehow, you singing while drunk is exactly what I pictured." Liyara still seems amused, and her wings flutter a little bit when Rocket says he could be her boyfriend, and Chiffon deflects. "Oh, I'm not on the market. But that's very flattering of you."
As they approach the Usual, Liyara gives a little laugh at Chiffon's suggestion. "I think we'd have a hard time keeping him from them." Well, it's nice to have good company, anyway. "And you said... beef bowls? How..." Don't say mundane. Don't say tourist-y. Definitely don't say plain! "...charming." After a fashion, anyway!
"Wait, but you-" pauses the raccoon as he takes in all the little clues and turns his head to look at the much larger fuzzy critter. His eyes then widen. "I fought you just 'ad some sort o'vadventuring business going on." Rocket's gaze shifts to the side and he turns around and takes a step before breaking into a shrug.
"None o'my business, o'course, but a missing person is still a missing person, innit?" There's...the distinct possibility that others didn't also make it. The ringtail met a number of folk in the previous Nexus and has only seen a few from that place. But, well, he's not going to be the one to say that right off. While realistic, it might be taken as defeatist, and that is something Rocket isn't.
"Beef bowls? Oi, vey 'ave a free city map wot 'as a listing where t'find va best one around 'ere. I don't 'ave one on me, but Liyarer 'ere likes maps. We should get 'er one. Whaddaya say, love? Probably a sight beh'uh wot vey 'ave at va Usual, not 'vat wot vey 'as is bad."
"We do," Chiffon says matter-of-factly. "And as far as I'm concerned, we were both missing persons up until a bit ago. It's not unusual to mix a spot of personal involvement and enteprise, right?" Okay, well, maybe not in certain areas. But adventure practically demands it as a prerequisite.
"I'unno. You've both been talking them up so much, but now that I'm staring at this place again. They did this pizza thing that was just so weird and fun." We'll safe the noodles for when the other candletail is back in town. The liondog lumbers along, glancing up at Liyara. "Whabbout you? Can you carry a tune?"
That mention of the beef-bowl maps causes Liyara's left eye to twitch. Did a vein just bulge on her left temple? No, it's gone now. Probably didn't happen in the first place, really. "...I was thinking the Usual might be a good place to start for food..." And that she wants to burn all the maps down. She was thinking that, too. With her newest co-conspirator, Chiffon.
Speaking of Chiffon, when the Sanuye asks her if she can carry a tune, Liyara blinks, and then gives a quiet little laugh to herself before answering. "Well, I can, but on principle I try not to. It does noone any good if men fall in love with me over my beautiful singing voice." ... She's either full of it, or full of talent. She's full of something, anyway. And with that, she opens the door of the Usual, and holds it for her companions. Courtesy is important, after all.