"Lance is -- well, he's durable," Jaina offered. "It's the principle of it that irks me. Weft didn't kill him, but he damn well tried."
Her empty hand reached up to twirl red locks. "We're short one experiment. Wanna see if you can tan?" Her hand visibly gleamed as she spoke. So did her bright green eyes.
Something niggled at Suitov. With Weft there was no "tried"; there was only do or do knot. (He didn't actually care a pip about Lance, but he'd have to give the monk hell for going soft later.)
Such considerations meant his brain took a split second to kick in as he said "Course I can-- what do you mean?"
Weft crouched in the lee of the unsteady chimney stack. He considered crumbling masonry a good look for him. He may or may not have heard the pair, but paid them no attention.
"I mean," said the redheaded imp, "when I'm distracted, I sometimes forget to stop my skin from leaking light -- especially ultraviolet, since I can't see that. And I would very much like for you to distract me that much or more. So do you feel like risking melanoma for a good time?"
In her trepidation, Jaina had forgotten that concepts like wavelengths of light and malignant tumors might be unknown at the Cross'd Roads. Luckily, her hands had moved of their own accord from her hair to Suitov's, which probably conveyed her intent.
"Madam, consider me your avid guinea-pig." Suitov commenced distraction.
At least she hadn't been talking about leathermaking. It would rather have ruined the moment.
Jaina laughed softly. "We should probably find a door to bolt behind us, though. If the 'wolf's not down the well he's still around somewhere. I much prefer magely distractions to wolfly ones. Besides, for all I know you squeak when wholly surprised, and if that's so I'm sure you want it kept -- under wraps?" There went her eyes again, gleaming with barely contained mischief.
"For some reason I thought it would have been the other way round." Agueda said. "I guess it's first impressions and all that."
She looked around for Kerak. It seemed their playmate had disappeared.
"Baskerville, my dear, I propose you either tell me how I get out of here, or we go and get very drunk."
"Funny you should say that," ('Skerv said, rolling to his feet) "because it's apparently easier to get out of here if you're blind drunk..."
He bounced a few steps backwards and sat up. It looked as though he was begging, until something very weird happened around the spine and knees. At the same time his fur thinned and shortened like that of a well-loved teddybear... except on top of his head, where it was actually lengthening slightly and attempting to mould itself into trendy spikes.
Welling up impossibly through the diminishing fur were patches of denim, linen and leather, gradually coalescing into a coherent wardrobe.
In brief, the doggy turned human. Baskerville reached into his jacket pocket, extracted some sunglasses, equipped them rakishly and offered Agueda an arm. Mischief and amusement were bubbling quite plainly through his thoughts, even more so as he sneaked a look at his boss's progress.
If asked, he would have expressed some disbelief that Suitov could ever score with such a tasty valkyrie sort. Indeed, judging by their usual preferences they ought to swap, but neither male was particularly interested in that option.
"Ah, there you are" she said, allowing him to take her arm and pull her up from the ground.
"You'll have to teach me that trick some time, my dear Baskerville. I imagine it comes in very handy." Somehow his arm had ended up around her shoulders.
As they turned back towards the inn, she thought she saw movement on the roof. So distracted was she, she completely failed to notice Suitov and Jaina (who should have been easy to see as she was glowing slightly).
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry", she said as she bumped into them and they came untangled.
"No need," Jaina told Agueda, "we're rather blocking the pathway." She looked around in search of a better place to converse.
"A thousand apologies," added Suitov completely shamelessly. He didn't even need to catch Baskerville's eye.
The first rays of dawn rose to meet the vampire hunter's gaze. "Oh, cool!" she said. "Let's watch the sun come up."
Finally something eeven normal people would consider light! Sylvie let the cat's eye spell fade and breathed a sigh of relief. She was finally out of the fog.
She could see a house, and thought she could hear voices from that direction. When she took a deep breath to gather her courage, Ayu-Asra finally took off from his perch on her backpack and headed towards the house.
As Sylvie followed, she saw that the two-headed dragon had decided to explore the roof first. A little afraid, but very curious, she tried not to wonder where she was and if it was a dangerous place, but save her attention to try to find out.
They'd talked 'til almost sunup, which wasn't as long as is normally meant when you read such phrases. But yes, we'll have you know, they were just talking.
Then again, it was the sort of Deep Conversation where you don't notice your rear getting chilly on the tiles, or anything so trivial as a small dragon landing on the chimney.
Well, almost. After all, this was Suitov, he of the affinity for most things monstrous, draconic or otherwise dangerous. "Is this yours?" he asked Jaina, extending a finger towards the thing's mouths to see if it bit.
The dragon extended one neck as far as he could to sniff on the offered finger, while the other stayed behind a bit to watch.
After determining that the finger was not an independent critter, but attached to the big one, he did not try to eat it. Instead, he pulled back his necks, cocked his heads to one side and tried a trick that sometimes worked on big critters: He wailed "Foooood!" at high volume.
Sylvie could hear him down in front of the house, and rolled her eyes. He probably had found someone; it had been months since he last tried to beg something off an animal. But he surely wasn't leaving a good first impression.
"Hello?" she called. No sense starting a speech if he was just talking to a vulture, or maybe the chimney.
"Hm?" Suitov's question had jolted Jaina from her reverie.
She eyed the creature curiously. "Not mine, at least. Looks kinda cute." The dual heads were a bit offputting, actually, but Suitov looked so taken with the little guy that Jaina decided not to mention it.
Then the dragon called out for food and Jaina fell over backwards. "Hiiiiiiiii," she dizzily replied to the little guy through her startlement, then "Oh! Hi!" in reply to the call from below. "Come on up!"
The dragon startled for a moment, but then preened. He was fearsome indeed! But unfurtunately the big critter had not dropped dead, so it still wasn't edible. He tried whining "Food?" more quietly.
"Thank you! Would that be around the back, or through the front door?"
"The front door's barely passable if you don't mind squeezing around a large beam," Suitov called down cheerfully. "Otherwise, the kitchen entrance is safer..."
He wondered if the lizard ate dog biscuits, since that was all that was edible in his pockets (well, unless it liked string). Probably best to consult the owner first.
From one of the loosely-boarded downstairs windows, a bellow was heard. "Food! -hic- Whoeversh that said is my bessie mate, you are!"
Sylvie pushed her backpack below the beam through the door. She twitched when she heard someone inside call out.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid he does not have food, but rather wants some."
She looked around, and felt strangely at home. It would probably look more welcoming with something but the floor to sit on, but she liked ruins.
"Good morning", she said, smiling at the people. "Could you tell me how I could get up on the roof? I should check on my dragon."
Said dragon was watching Suitov expectantly. Rummaging in pockets was a good sign.
"Aww, stay down here with us!" Baskerville bayed happily from the barroom floor. "We have unidentified alkyholl and everyfin."
His sunglasses were more than a little skewwiff, exposing a bright red eye. Of course, it could just have been really really drunkenly bloodshot...
"Ah, I prefer identified alcohol, if at all, and later in the day. Thanks anyway."
She noticed the man's eyecolour, but did not think much about it. She'd grown up in a city where one of the most famous scholars was half goat, and only new arrivals found that strange.
Shouldering her backpack again, she headed towards the stairs. "I'd rather collect Ayu before he starts seriously getting on someone's nerves."
"You're not going to stay for the parrrrty?" Agueda whined. Well, it was an attempt at a whine, but it wasn't overly convincing. She'd have rather had the alcohol all to herself... and Baskerville of course.
"Who said party?"
A rat peeked from behind a corner at around the height a normal person's waist might be.
From below it, a long-nosed, black-eyed kid wrinkled his nose a few times and munched on a bit of cheese. The rat nibbled on a breadcrum.
"Squeak," it commented.