{SeeD SaGa}
[On the Fringe, Public House "The Ale Index" ]
A two-storied building, crossed with planks and vines, sits under the canopy of old, bent trees. A lantern at the door casts a warm light, and softer candles brighten the windows on both floors. The weathered white walls cast wrinkled shadows in the sunset.
Within, the smell of freshly re-laquored tables is only overpowered by the smell of rich stew- basil and potatoes, lentils and carrots, and the game of the day.
Long tables with benches lay on the floor, eschewing the style of smaller tables surrounded by chairs. A long bar dotted with stools ends at a corner, leading the way to a backroom.
A wide-shouldered Hundred- long in horns, bulllike in the face, and of little words- tends bar, while another man tweaks a two-necked guitar at the edge of a bench.
He looks below the brim of his hat, pushing a grey lock of hair from his face, and faces the front door- warmly, expectantly. [_]
{The Minstrel - }
(Except, y'know, he doesn't have the Snow White thing going on right now.)
Alida , a Driftin with Snow leopard features and pale hair sits at the bar, nursing a mug and looking a little wilted in the weather. She listens to the bard pluck away and scans the room for other occupants.
Ridwan takes a glance around the room as he enters the building, pauses to push the gas masking hanging from his next up to the top of his head, then moves towards the bar.
The Hundred- {Crater Twelve}- nods gently as Ridwan takes a seat. He wears an overly large button-down shirt that covers his massive arms, slightly unbuttoned at the neck.
Eidolon enters not long after Ridwan. His filigree wings are folded up neatly behind him; the sigil in his chest, unlit. Radiance is for elsewhen; when there's something to protect. Right now, he wants some of the stew he smelled…
"Drink?," the Hundred rumbles, trailing off slightly as he spots Eidolon enter, focused.
Ridwan: "Anything's fine."
Alida: "On me" Alida smiles and scoots closer to the newcomer to the bar. "Hale friend. What brings you to a bar like this?" She speaks with an odd accent not of this region.
Crater pulls up a glass, filling it with ice, and fills it a fifth of the way with a mix of a brown liquor and a sprinkle of some spice.
Ridwan: "Ghosts, mostly."
Zephyr makes his way into the bar, ducking over the entryway due to his enormous height. He is wearing mostly leathers from the waist down, his feet adorned in some handmade sandals. His chest is covered in fur and face hard as stone. After surveying his surroundings for a moment he lets out a loud squawk before addressing the bar. "This one be looking for work, yes? Has come long way, kyah! You show job postings?"
Ridwan: "Or well, this place was on the way *back* from the ghosts."
Eidolon doesn't -glance up- towards the Hundred, but something about his posture would make you think he noticed; he was heading in that direction either way, and takes a seat at the bar, seated in such a way as to be looking at the door.
Issa filters in a few minutes after Zephyr, a non-descript human with auburn hair, and robes of dark purple and blue that swirl around their limbs like woven shadow, ending up in a casual lean on the bar, evenly spaced between the other patrons.
Crater rumbles in assent, and then nods slightly towards the Minstrel. "He's a way've of that kinda thing."
Ridwan glances back over his shoulder at the noise.
At that, the Minstrel smiles, swiveling face all the bustling newcomers. "Nothing so formal as that, Mr. Twelve."
Zephyr gestures towards the Minstrel, not really paying any mind to the disturbance he caused. "You be holding news of tidings, smoothskin?"
Eidolon faces Issa; his face is planes and angles, empty of comprehensible expression, until his head tilts to the side in an oddly birdlike nod.
Issa tilts their head towards Eidolon, stonefacing it, eyes bright and green on the other-and then stone goes fluid, as they wink and flash a bright smile.
"As is my nature, my good man. Please, have a seat," the Minstrel coos.
Alida: "Been a long while since I've heard a good ghost story." Alida leans against the bar and finishes off her current drink.
Zephyr makes their way over to a stool and takes a seat. A straining sound of wood bending can be heard from the wooden contraption.
"The way you speak, the way you carry yourself," the Mistrel starts, leaning over his guitar, motioning with a fluid, waving hand towards Zephyr, "-not a free knight, are you?"
Ridwan: "It's true, most of them do turn out fairly boring to those outside of the profession. They can't all be smog spirits."
Eidolon is amused, or pleased, or pleasantly amused- and then he hears the word 'story', and he's all eyes.
Issa: "Ooh, a story? I do hope it's one I haven't heard before," they say.
Zephyr: "This one is no more a free knight than any other. For it is Zephyr Seventeen."
Ridwan: "I suspect," Ridwan picks up the glass in front of him and takes a small sip, "That there's a more interesting one brewing over there." He then gestures towards the Minstral and Zephyr.
Innocently, with almost childish enthusiasm: "Yes, I'm very curious as to what happened to the first sixteen."
[OOC] Issa: …that didn't do what I wanted it to do.
[OOC] Eidolon: Naw, that's correct.
[OOC] Eidolon: It'll look correct in the logs, at any rate, which is the point of the special formatting. >_>
The Minstrel tilts his head from side to side. "Mmm… but aren't all stories interesting? At least to someone. Even should a shaggy dog story pain the listeners, at least its teller could gain a good laugh."
Ridwan laughs. "Sure, but you get paid to tell them."
Zephyr tilts his head towards Issa giving them a perplexing glance. "This one welcomes you, and apologizes. It did not notice your presence 'til now!"
Issa gives Zephyr a bright grin, looking oddly pleased. "It's quite alright, I'm very good at that."
"Enough to stay fed and dry, for what I do is only for the love of it," he says to Ridwan, and reaches behind himself to produce a wooden mug, from which he takes a sip before replacing it on the table.
Eidolon seems amused, and he finally speaks- his voice oddly musical, bell-chimes over a deep furnace-growl. "Even a story without an ending tells you something of the storyteller."
"I am, in pursuit of the claim, known as The Minstrel, as in my title, name, and occupation." He doffs his hat while bowing slightly over his guitar.
Ridwan: "Suppose that makes introducing yourself quick."
Issa 's gaze flickers over Eidolon, green eyes briefly intent and interested, before returning to the Minstrel. "Oh now I /am/ excited."
"And yourself?" he asks, voice raising in question, hand gesturing broadly, but such that you feel he is talking directly to you (if you are confused as to who 'you' is- yes, it is you! the one reading this!).
Zephyr does take the time to answer Issa's question as he already introduced himself. "You be told, each clan has a number. This one is Seventeen. Another different, kyah! Smoothskin understands, yes?"
Issa smiles brightly at Zephyr. "One does, and understanding makes me glad, thank you." They give a half-bow of head and chest towards the Minstrel. "I am Issa, librarian by trade."
Ridwan gestures with his glass toward the Minstrel. "Ridwan. El-Mofty."
Eidolon returns a playful echo of the Minstrel's gesture. "I am the Eidolon. Title, name, and occupation."
Alida: "Nothing so interesting as knights or ghosts for me. Just a bad job… and a long trip. Now I'm here drinking away my last cash and looking for a better story. And maybe more work." Alida shrugs and grins. "I am Alida, a hunter of a kind. Pleased to meet you all."
Ridwan: "Hah. You don't much look like an apparition to me, stranger."
Eidolon: "Not an apparition. An ideal to which to aspire. Words writhe like I am told ghosts writhe, unwilling to allow themselves to be bound to one clear meaning. Is that true, of ghosts?"
Auburn eyebrows go up, and green eyes land for the third time on Eidolon. "Tis lofty, to call one's self an ideal…"
Ridwan: "Hmm, perhaps in form but not as much in… spirit. They exist *because* they will to be riggedly defined."
Eidolon seems amused, again. "The aspiration, more so than the image itself, in truth." And, he nods with pleased elucidation towards Ridwan.
Issa looks amused, as well, eyes flicking between Ridwan and Eidolon. "But words have no more will than the table-tis the writers that will them, and the writers that tug a meaning to suit their needs."
Ridwan: "I was mostly just making bad ghost wordplay jokes, anyway." Ridwan snickers before finishing off the rest pof his drink.
The Minstrel nods. "I welcome you all. The fellow behind the bar is Crater Twelve-" to which the bull Hundred wordlessly nods, "-and the unseen assistant, chef, and overall mechanic is Daven. He may or may not pop in to serve dishes, but if the smell of the stew is overpowering enough, I'm sure Mr. Twelve would kindly fetch you a bowl."
Zephyr: "Much philosophy, this one thinks. But you be telling the story mentioned, yes?"
Eidolon: "The wind ought to be paid for its services advertising the establishment. I'll take a bowl of stew."
"This pub prides itself on lacking the automats that have grown in popularity as of late," the Minstrel adds.
Issa wrinkles their nose. "Automats don't come with stories. I'll have a bowl, and a beer, if you please."
Ridwan: "Certainly less likely to get a dried out sandwich this way."
Eidolon: "They haven't been around long enough yet. Stories are like moss. Or well-kneaded bread."
Crater nods, taking measured tromps to the back. He returns balancing a tray with five freshly scooped bowls of stew, and a cold bottle of beer (the local lager, 'Freshudo'). He grips the head of the bottle, and with a flex, the cap- *fsshk*- comes right off, and he hands the bottle to Issa.
Issa takes the bowl and the bottle, smiles, and quickly inhales the thin mist released from the popping of the cap. "Many thanks."
Ridwan nods to Crater before digging into the stew.
Zephyr takes his bowl with one hand inspecting it briefly. He then tips it towards his mouth downing the contents.
Eidolon spends long enough smelling the stew that you might think he's not even going to eat it at all, but, no, eventually he digs in before it starts to cool off.
The Minstrel smiles. "While you eat, allow me." He leans back and his hands move to his instrument, swimming about like a practiced guitarist, and they settle on the neck and belly.
Alida accepts the offered bowl with a nod.
Ridwan winces at Zephyr, mentally imagining how much his own throat would not enjoy that much hot stew going down it at once.
"This story… you've probably heard it before." He strums. [ ]
Zephyr did not seem to mind at least. He finished the dish in short order before turning his attention to the Minstrel.
"The world of Mardias was created from a strike between the gods, countless sparks searing into the sky and making the stars, the heat birthing life."
"Across the lands, strewn to every curve and cranny, were the children of Elore. Elore, in combat with Death, shunned his existance to give us the fleeting years in which our heart beats."
"They could not extract Death anymore than fire could warmth, and so each day is a struggle against one, and nurturing the other."
He stops strumming.
"…that tale always feels like a prelude," he nearly mumbles.
Ridwan: "As beginings tend to do."
"A creation legend, or myth, or tall tale, or lie… but it's one that's repeated, and has taken hold," he nods.
Issa: "What's past is prologue, they say…"
"The expanded texts of Elorian worshippers across the world… they differ in what happens next, and of what fables they contain."
"Do any of you have a guess as to why that is?" [_]
Ridwan: "Different stories are important to different authors."
Issa shrugs, eyes fixed on the Minstrel, joviality replaced by a cool intent. "They experienced different truths."
Alida: "Different lands value different aspects of the Gods so that leads to different tellings. You're preamble there is strange versus the one I heard as a child."
Zephyr: "Each has their own story, kyah!"
Eidolon: "…a single prelude can branch out into uncountable stories. But if you have a handful of stories, you can work backwards to understand the truth of creation. Such is time's arrow." He, too, seems intent.
The Minstrel leans back, considering the responses. He tilts the brim of his hat back with a thumb. "A truth to all things, an origin, importants, personalness. I would say… that each of these would be true."
"As well as 'true' can be."
"But in the end, they are all stories. Narratives. The impermanence of life compels us to create these, to make sense of it all."
Issa leans back against the bar, fingers wrapping around the neck of their beer bottle. "To make permanence out of impermanence."
"Precisely," he comments.
"It's what we… what everyone feels is important to carry on. Such does any piece of art that is not spoken or related, but in its existence itself is a narrative."
Issa rocks back against the bar, just a little, expression shuttering down-not much, but enough to notice if one is looking directly at them.
"But," he says, with a sigh, "I do believe I am talking your ears off with theory and postmodernism. Practicality is nothing to be ashamed of."
Ridwan: "Happens to the best of us sometimes."
Eidolon: "Each story a sketch at underlying truth, a spark of light that will not fade with the dying day…" He tilts his head at Issa- observing, but not calling attention.
"As a Minstrel, and The Minstrel, I would gladly cover your tabs for any stories of your own. Full, or empty, long, or short- begun but not finished…" He trails off a bit at the end there, eyes looking past you. "Any and all, to help me make sense of those before me," and his smile is back, as though it never left.
Zephyr claps his hands a few times before nodding. "This one cares not of long ago. Smoothskins tell stories of more modern times now, yes?"
Ridwan: "Ahh, I see your con now. Get things started, then pass off the real work to your audience." Ridwan grins at the Minstrel. "And I imagine with this group… there'll be some takers." He very pointedly does not look at Eidolon and Issa.
"History is made from second to second, not textbook to textbook," the Minstrel nods to Zephyr.
Issa smiles, a little, though it seems a bit of a paler thing than before. "Is it history before it's recorded?"
Alida: "Bah. All this existential talk will sour the beer. The bard is right, let us talk recent. What about your ghosts, Mr. Alloci?" Alida asks pointedly, ignoring his jibe at the Minstrel. "That sounds like a good story to me."
The Minstrel considers this with a glance to his upper right before remarking. "Why, I believe so. It is history that Crater retrieved a beer for you, though it was not spoken of until now."
Ridwan: "Well, alright. You did pair for the drink, after all."
[OOC] Ridwan: pay^
Issa begins to speak, expression flashing to "intent" again…then subsides as Alida speaks up, seeming almost grateful as they move the discussion along.
Ridwan: "Though, like I said, there's not really much excitment to most of the real ghost stories. Generally, it's just hearing whipserings of strange things happening when you enter a new town. Things that had been in the open going missing without anyone noticing. Objects moving on their own. Unexplained noises at odd hours. Something in the air just not feeling right, or the tempature
Ridwan: being off in localized areas. "
Ridwan: "Then it's a lot of wandering around the town, figuring out what's normal for there and what isn't from the people who live there, to determine what's off."
Eidolon snorts softly, amused- and listens to Ridwan. He always -has- been curious about ghosts, after all. "Despite the stories, they're not something you're apt to run into doing guard work, even in places with the weight of history and presence. I've always wondered."
Ridwan: "After that, it's picking the right blend of herds, chemicals and the like, mixing them together… and offering up prays while dowsing the spirit or specific spot they're haunting with the concoction. And… typically, that's all there is to it."
Alida: "And what causes these ghosts? Are they truely relics of the dead. I've met a few that I'd like to not meet again."
Ridwan: "Strong emotions, generally speaking."
Issa looks dourly into their beer bottle. "Necromancers."
Ridwan: "Something a soul absolutely had to do, or seen done, or something they couldn't give up on."
Ridwan: "Ah…"
Ridwan: "I suppose those happen on rare ocassion too, but you get something a little different from a normal ghost that way."
Issa looks slightly sheepish, and shrugs. "Sorry."
Ridwan: "It's alright. Common misconception."
Eidolon: "The unquieted dead make for -much- more memorable stories, though."
Ridwan: "Hell, most people probably don't even think of a normal ghost as a ghost, perse."
Ridwan nods.
Zephyr: "For this ones people, man is both physical and spiritual entity. However, spirited dimension is eternal unless interfered with."
Issa pulls a wry face at Eidolon. "Sometimes."
Eidolon: "There's some advice. Live a life so interesting that the animate inanimate become old hat." He grins at them.
"The old hat dances like new?" The Minstrel lightly laughs.
Ridwan: "That's right, it's the unusual ones that people think of and remember. The ones that had such strong and negative emotions that they mutant into something that can interfer directly and aggressively with this world." He nods slightly to Zephyr. "There've also been… a few… vaguely documented cases of these more evil intentioned spirits coming into existance without the clear
Ridwan: involvement of souls. "
Issa gives a bit of wry grin at Eidolon. "I mean, they're really quite boring once you get used to them. 'Oooooeeeer, kill you for the Master'…repetitive, really."
Issa: "The first couple of times they'll give you quite a fright, but after about the fifth, they're…" they trail off, eyes flicking to each of the bar's inhabitants in turn. "…what?"
"We were listening intently," quips the Minstrel, mug in hand.
Issa blinks, then blushes brightly, hunching their head down between their shoulders a little. "It's nothing, really…"
Ridwan: "Haha, if you've something to get off your chest, by all means." Ridwan gives a deferring hand motion in Issa's direction.
Zephyr gestures towards Ridwan. "Does smoothskin only do offerings? What of spirit that will not be appeased."
Ridwan: "Ah, well."
Ridwan: "In that case you beat some sense into them."
Eidolon grins at his stew, motioning towards Issa. "Well, now I -definitely- want to hear the stories you have to tell."
Ridwan: "There's always a less kind, less gentle method."
Issa goes a little redder, and laughs a bit, shaking their head. "Oh, n-no, certainly nothing much to tell. The stories are what I collect, not what I do."
Alida: "Glad to know the intangible problems can be delt with same ways as the physical."
Ridwan: "That's what you typically wind up doing with things like smog spirits, the unusually powerful poltergeist, and, uh, … I suppose you'd call them concepts that haunt people."
"You seem very intent, the Eidolon. As well as your thesis as stated earlier," inquires the Minstrel.
"Are you also a collector of stories?"
Ridwan nods to Alida.
Eidolon: "An observer, rather than collector." Briefly, flickerings of light, like licks of flame, around the eye sigil of his chest. "I would be there to watch the story unfold, to watch an ancient secret be revealed. …more often, to skewer skittering denizens of some dusty temple or another." He laughs.
Issa: "Living or unliving denizens?" Issa asks, with great interest.
Zephyr: "This one thinks that should place of worship be dusty, one cannot be considered living." He chuckles to himself.
Issa grins and shrugs. "Maybe you have lazy cultists."
Zephyr: "Place of importance to smoothskins too, no?"
Eidolon: "Six of one, half-dozen of the other. Felt strange dispatching automatons of brass and crystal, but I'm confident they weren't distant cousins."
Ridwan: "Varies from region to region."
Eidolon: "Dust centipedes, now, those I'm sure there was no relation."
Issa nods thoughtfully. "I wonder if we ever encountered the same cultists?" They eye Eidolon speculatively. "Then again, if you got there first, likely not…"
Eidolon: "If I get there first, I'll draw a red line; if you get there first, you'll cross it out?" He grins deviously. "Can't say I've encountered many cultists, but there's always the unknowable future to find them in, yes?"
Issa grins cheekily. "Sounds a plan. And I suppose not, if you were hunting relics and such. Not much money in the cult business, really, tend to be a rather scraggly lot."
Ridwan: "Hmhmhm."
Eidolon glances at Ridwan, curiously.
Ridwan finishes off his stew. "Well, now that two and a half of us have talked about how much we have nothing to talk about, I suppose that leaves you two with your own stories?" He glances at Alida, then Zephyr.
Issa flushes again, hunching a little back into their seat. "One apologizes for monopolizing the conversation."
Ridwan: "That was as much a slightly against myself as anyone else, really." Ridwan laughs in good nature.
The Minstrel lightly laughs. "Not everyone is given to storytelling. And some take to it like a fish to water. Fortunately for me, there's far more of the former than the latter."
Zephyr curls his fingers together before letting out a hearty guffaw at the question. "This one does not speak of themselves much. But should you wish, I will tell, kyah! Has smoothskins heard of Deshidorah?"
[OOC] Zephyr: *they will tell
Ridwan: "Sounds sort of vaugely familair but I can't really place a meaning to the word…"
Eidolon: "Can't say I've heard of it" , and there's some surprise in his tone/
The Minstrel waves a hand in welcome. "Please, tell us."
Issa doesn't voice their surprise, but they clearly look it.
Alida: "No, can't say I have while I've been here."
Zephyr: "Deshidorah takes many a form and has been been present in stories aplenty. You call it by many names, but this one my people have settled on. Elusive it is, as is its shapeshifting nature. This one last sighted them as a dragon, but now is not sure."
Ridwan: "Aaah, a changling?"
Alida: "We had those back home. You mean If-ys, yes?"
Zephyr: "Tracking it, this one is. For they have caused great affront to all Seventeens." '
Issa looks at Zephyr steadily. "Affront how?"
Zephyr: "Peace treaty between two tribes ruined, kyah! Swooped in and lit offerings ablaze. Used as pretext for tribe war. Seventeens no more."
Ridwan: "Mm. Condolances."
Issa has gone from flushed to ash in the span of heartbeats. "Awful." Their voice is hushed and unsteady.
The Minstrel tips the brim of his hat downward. A hiss is heard- Crater Twelve places an open beer next to Zephyr.
Alida leans onto the bar. "Ah, that's too bad. I'm a decent enough finder. Maybe I can ask around. Do you think they're around here?"
Zephyr: "Smoothlings hunt living, undead, spirits and machine. This ones target is just one, but will do what he must through other works to reach it."
Zephyr: "Last seen flying westward, so came to this town for clues. Dead end it seems."
Eidolon: "How terrible. I traveled with an If-ys, once, although I'm sure they never mentioned that name."
"Were I to hear any such tale, I would impart it on you, Zephyr," remarks the Minstrel, a grave tone in his voice.
Zephyr: "That is this ones story. They drink now, peace be." He takes the mug he was given and takes a long sip.
Alida pats the large hundred on the arm "My own story isn't so much fun at the moment either. I had a one that I thought was a friend give me bad intel and…" She gestures at the pistol in her holster then waves it off with a laugh. "A life ago. This place is nice, though it's so damned hot. Did you know boat rides go very slow? Anyway, I am looking for a new job and I'm happy to help
Alida in the hunting. There may even be pay. "
Zephyr nods back, seemingly content on enjoying his drink now.
"I find that, when you gather where others do, you will find something to pursue. And also, the opposite. But such is to live in the streams of information, of people, of stories," muses The Minstrel.
"The next world shaking event- story- narrative, could darken these doors right now."
Ridwan waits a beat, before turning dramatically towards the threshold.
Eidolon looks amused. "Some might call that 'tempting fate', O Minstrel."
Fate knocks, but someone else opens the door from the outside-

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