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  1. #21
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
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    Xal Qwaring

    Harmony Point, Main Street...

    Xal hears laughter. Light and melodious. It rouses him from his concentration. He looks up, but instead of focusing on the source of the laughter his attention is captured by Sil riding by.

    Xal guesses she's a Shamaa woman, based on her clothes and lack of a saddle. He can't figure out what sort of animal she's riding. It's not quite a horse. A bit of a lizard? A single curved horn. He doubts it's a mystically crafted creature, as the Shamaa much prefer animals found in nature, and not created in a wizard's ritual.

    His attention drifts up from the strange animal, and focuses on the Shamaa woman. There's something about her. Like a forgotten dream that-

    Tess speaking to Xal startles him from his staring. He jumps slightly and turns to face Tess and Liza. To his credit, Xal recovers as quickly as he can manage and offers the two women a warm smile.

    "Hello, I'm Xal," he tells them in a cheerful tone. "Xal Qwaring. I'm a new mechanic for the mines."

    Feeling a bit self conscious, Xal looks down at his dusty, abused suit. He pats at some of the dirt and dust, but realizes it's a lost cause and instead returns his attention to these two friendly ladies.

    Xal had hoped he could make a better first impression on his first day in town. However, these two seem friendly enough despite Xal's appearance. He guesses that plenty of the other miners and mechanics must return to town looking just as bad, if not worse. Perhaps the shabby state of his wardrobe will allow him to fit in better.

    Soon, Liza and Tess offer him an alternative to his earlier plan of retreating to his apartment. A visit to the local saloon. He ponders it for a moment. His aching, weary body is crying out for rest. However, if he's going to have any kind of future in this town Xal will need take advantage of every opportunity to meet others and learn more about the town and people. Going to the saloon seems like such an opportunity.

    "Yes, I could use a drink," Xal cheerfully replies as he begins dragging his trunk into the direction of the saloon. As he walks, Xal continues speaking to the two women. "What exactly do the two of you do in town? Are you employed by the saloon?"

    Xal tries to figure out how these women fit into the grand design of this town. Part of an unofficial welcome for those that are new to town, sent out to bring in new customers to the saloon? Or maybe they work for the mining commission?

    His decades of living in Taroc, and focusing on understanding machines instead of humans, have dulled the Astralian instincts that would normally pick up on the flirtations that Liza and Tess are directing at him.

  2. #22
    Harmony Point: Outside the Diamond Saloon

    Attachment 2276

    Tess, Liza, Artor Lawe, Rekōdo Marshall and Lucius Starling, Deputy

    "If you're looking for the Grand Palace Hotel, you're not far from it. This big brown building, here, is the Exchange House and bank. The Diamond Saloon is down this walk and the Hotel is just a ways more down and across the street. You can see it from here."

    The girls do not notice the distraction that rides by for the new mechanic, at least they did not notice who the distraction was. He was new here and, like all new arrivals, had a lot to take in. Tess's smile deepened when he jumped at her voice. He has a handsome smile. one she would enjoy seeing above her, or below her, in bed.

    "That's an interesting name you got there, Xal."

    Liza's voice is a high-pitched dream. She emphasized his name and turned her head just slightly so that she peered at him more with one eye than the other. A twirl of her dark-colored parasol sent a dance of light and shadows across her face.

    "Welcome to Harmony Point" Tess added with an unending smile.
    "Don't be discouraged if the miners don't give you the warmest of welcomes. They're a hardy bunch, but once you get them warmed up to you, they're as sweet as Astral honeybuns."

    Liza giggled lightly as he attempted to make himself more presentable. There really was no need for it. Compared to the mining half of the town, he had a leg up. There was dirt and dust encrusted in their skin so deeply and for so long that no amount of soap or sud could cleanse it. As he walked, Liza looped her arm with his free one. Despite the overhand of the walkway from the many storefronts, she leaned in close to him so as to share her lacy umbrella with him. She had on perfume, faint pink primrose from the plains of Maginus. It was a wildflower that grew there. It had a light and sweet but airy scent to it.

    Tess remained a slightly more respectful distance from Xal as he carried his trunk on her side. Liza had always been more flirtatious than her. It was their good cop-bad cop arrangement. Tess was more mysterious, where Liza was younger and more innocent-looking, like a puzzle that wanted to be solved. Xal's question earned an intoxicating giggle from Liza. Tess rose a curious eyebrow at the man and then laughed in her own way.

    "You could say that" she said and let her laughter hang there with her words for a moment. "We are employed by Castillo. He is the tender at the Diamond Saloon."

    The women's high-buttoned boots clomp timely upon the boardwalk's wooden planks.

    "We make sure Cas's customers have a good time."

    Liza giggled as if she'd made a private joke only she could understand. Tess sighed and shrugged her shoulders at Xal.

    "What she said."

    The girl's pace slowed as they approached the batwing doors to the saloon. There, by the support posts to the walkway's overhangs were the Marshall and his Deputy. There was a golden pocket watch in the tall deputy's hand. His dark complexion marked him easily as a descendent of Da'Jinn. It was the Marshall's blue-eyed scrutiny that made both Tess and Liza slow.

    "Afternoon, Marshall, Deputy Lucius. Still here?"

    Tess twirled her parasol and smiled at the Marshall.

    "Trouble seems to be coming to me today" he said and checked his pistol one more time before holstering it at his hip. His voice was deep, noncommittal to whatever might be coming next. He blinked away the drink he felt tugging at the focus of his vision. "Who's the guy?"

    "Xal Qwaring" Liza piped up from his arm with a giddy lean forward as she spoke. She patted his arm lovingly with her laced glove hand. "He's the new mechanic at the mines. Ain't he something?"

    The Marshall raised a bushy eyebrow. He let out a gruff laugh.

    "Not my type."

    "Who is your type, Marshall?"

    "Hi, Xal" Lucius cut in and cut in front of the Marshall as Tess spoke. Even with his bodily presence slightly blocking the Marshall as he extended a hand to the new mechanic, it would be hard to miss the harsh stare Artor Lawe gave to Tess.

    "I'm Lucius Starling, Deputy. This is Marshall Artor Lawe, appointed here by King Heron."

    Artor's look at Tess lasted a moment longer. Tess's kept her firm smile and the stubborn look in her eyes. Then the Marshall turned his eyes on Xal and studied him with the same scrutiny he'd given Ingall moments earlier.

    "New mechanic, huh?"

    The Marshall did not offer his hand to Xal.

    "How'd you get roped into that?"
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 12-30-2017 at 07:53 PM.
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  3. #23
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Xal Qwaring

    Harmony Point, Main Street...

    Xal notices the marshal staring at him. He's used to being stared at. Many people of Taroc stared at Xal when he was first sent to live and learn in their province. He was an Astral child born with a gift of divination, and sent to live in Taroc. Xal has always been an oddity that others have tried to study and figure out.

    He also assumes the marshal has reason to try to figure out every new person that sets foot in this place. It's a small town, everyone here has their place. Xal is an outsider, and a lawman should figure out exactly how well a newcomer will fit into the order he is tasked with maintaining. It's like any decent mechanic keeping watch on some new and untested replacement component.

    Xal grins and shakes the deputy's offered hand. There's a slight aching in Xal's bandaged hand. It feels like the pain suppression potion the mine doctor gave to him is starting to wear off.

    "It's good to meet you both," Xal greets both lawmen.

    He shifts his full attention to the marshal, as the older man asks how Xal was lured into working for the mine.

    "The automatons are some of the most advanced machines around," Xal begins to explain. There's a genuine excitement that overtakes Xal's tone and expression as he speaks about the technology. "I'm looking forward to getting to work with such amazing technology. A purely alchemical mechanism that is immune to the mystical hardships produced by the Desert Diamonds.

    "Also their mechanical brains, which grant them rudimentary intelligence, is unlike anything else out there right now. Certainly they're simple brains, but still artificial brains unlike any other ever invented.

    "Seeing such mechanisms in action- " Xal pauses, recalling his experiences from earlier today. Almost being killed by those amazing mechanisms in action. Some of his excitement bleeds out as he forces himself to continue. "Um- Despite the obvious hazards, I felt the opportunity was one worth pursuing."

  4. #24
    Northeast of Town: The Mankato Ranch House

    Cammi and Red McClure and the Children

    They arrived at the ranch before Silenha did, having a shorter distance to go. The attempted cobblestones of Elm Street faded into dusty dirt roads that further faded into the paths they took to and from the Mankato ranch. Much of the ride back was blanketed in silence, with bursts of excited talk from Saradi about school and her Da'Jinn script. Several times, she pulled the worn tome out from her bound schoolbooks to practice aloud. Eventually, Cammi asked her to wait until they arrived at the ranch. The book dug into her spine with every well-placed hoof of her Qirin. The flatness of the edge of the Hundred Year Plains gave way into small hills that would eventually swell into large, dusty dunes the farther east one traveled. The ranch stopped before the hilly, dry grasslands morphed into dry, sandy desert. It was up a incline, atop one of the first of the hills to spring forth from nature's scene change, that the welcome arch to the ranch greeted them, with sight of the Ranch House beyond.

    The blankets and bridles for their rides were placed over their individual stall doors. The Qirin were stabled and, once their school things were inside, the children came out to brush and rinse the dust from their rides. Silenha had always encouraged them to do so independently rather than assign it as a chore. A rider needed to bond with their Qirin and this was a wonderful way to do so. Each Qirin had long manes and tufts of fur on its neck, tail and legs. Brushing them was important and short work. Isilia was the only one who did not immediately go to brush her ride. She changed first out of her Astral clothes into something better suited for the ranch. Once more proper and Shamaa-style clothes were on, Isilia went to the fence of the corrals and watched the Qirin as Darin and Albern led their rides out to pasture. The Qirin trotted rapidly once they reached the open lands and their gait took on a joyous one at the sight of freedom from the barn. Albern, she observed, was unusually silent and sullen as he went back in to hang the bridles on nail pegs outside each Qirin's stall. Isilia's bun had been let loose and her long, light brown hair blew freely in the evening breeze. On the western horizon, the sun was beginning to wane in its downward trek to the distant Great Swells of Maginus.

    Cammi saw to Saradi, who required much attention after school. She listened to her practice her Da'Jinn aloud and even tried her hand at some of the easier phrases. Secretly, though, she watched Ginnevy. The quiet, Taroc girl sat in a window seat with a pillow propped behind her back. She read her text on Runeology that she'd been assigned. Cammi wanted to get Saradi settled down so she could try and talk to the selectly mute child, but there would be no settling down the youngest of Silenha's orphans until the woman herself came home.

    She was past due.

    As if reading her thoughts, Red opened the door to the house. As he looked in for his sister, Darin, Albern and Isilia peered eagerly in behind him. Darin gave Isi a joking shove over and she shot him a glare back. The shove was returned.

    "Hey!" Red turned quickly around behind him to find the two brothers and Isilia standing straight with their hands behind their back. They poorly held back their grins and smiles. Red shook his head and looked back in the house at Cammi and Saradi. Ginnevy sat up from her window seat and put her book in her lap.

    "Silenha will be late" he said. He opened the door a bit wider and a gentle, blue glow illumined the air behind him. Cammi craned her neck from where she sat with Saradi and saw the Spirit Animal swimming fluidly through the air in the background. It hummed out a gentle tune that echoed softly in the air. Isilia's face seemed to brighten. The sound of it caused all the hair on her arms to stand on end in a way that exhilarated her.

    "Why doesn't Mother Silenha use parchment like everyone else?" Saradi asked in a loud, curious voice, just in case the others could not hear her.

    "This is her way" Cammi explained patiently.

    "It is the Shamaa way" Isilia called out from behind Red. From Red's left, Albern made a noise.

    "No more dress. Now she's Shamaa" he whispered to his brother. Darin grinned and stifled a snicker. Isilia shoved Darin again.

    "Enough. You are worse than blood siblings" Red said impatiently. He shook his head. "Go play with the fish-"


    "- Orca and get out of my hair. Give it a few messages for Sil while you're at it. She loves that."

    Immediately, the trio behind him ran down the stairs of the wrap-around porch to the ranch house. Saradi leapt up from Cammi's lap and bolted out the door after them with her dark braids and hat flying behind her. Cammi waited until they had departed before she responded to her brother.

    "What else did she say?"

    Red glanced at Ginny and looked between her and Cammi as he spoke.

    "She had to go back into town. With everything that happened this morning, she forgot to check the post office for the letters she's expecting from Mirian."

    Ginnevy sat up straighter in the window seat. Her hazel eyes were intense as they stared at Red. He saw that and turned his gaze back to Cammi.

    "She said she might stop by Doc's place to see if he's found anything" he said again, a bit quieter.

    Cammi's lips pursed. That meant she would get home after dark. Cammi stared hard at Red.

    "I'll need you here to help with the children" was all she said to him.

    red returned her stare for a moment and then broke into one of his signature grins. It was one that charmed many young hearts within town. It never won over his twin sister.

    "I'll be here" he said to her and then shut the door to the house and their conversation.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 02-03-2018 at 09:26 PM.

  5. #25
    Harmony Point: Outside the Diamond Saloon

    Attachment 2276

    Tess, Liza, Artor Lawe, Rekōdo Marshal and Lucius Starling, Deputy

    The Marshal continued to stare at Xal with the same intense scrutiny as he explained himself and how he gotten himself his new job. He doesn't take a ride along with Xal's growing excitement as he explains the robots in the mines. To the Marshal, talking about robots is like someone trying to sell him hiking gear to climb the Great Swells: Don't need it, don't want it. Artur's bushy mustache barely his his lips as he worked them subconsciously with thought on one thing he'd picked up. The same thing Lucius figured out, but only after he got over playing damage control between the Marshal and Tess. Deputy Starling noticed the bandages on Xal's hands as he shook them earnestly. It was too late to take back the vigor of welcome with which he shook the new mechanic's hand. The Deputy then notes the full state of Xal's body. Bandages aside, the indicators are small, but it looks as if he's already been in a scuffle of some sort.

    Liza's large eyes widened and looked at Xal with innocent amazement, as if he just explained the most amazing thing on Emporium to her. Her arm looped around his tightened, bringing her slightly closer to him as he rattled on. Tess continued to stare challengingly at the Marshal, but he ignored her completely.

    "Right" Artur declared simply when Xal finished. He leaned his head over the boardwalk and spat into the dusty dirt below.

    "Speaking of hazards" Lucius repeated in case the Marshal hadn't seen it. He nodded his head to Xal's hands. "Sorry about the handshake. Seems like you've gotten yourself into some trouble already."

    The Deputy seemed genuinely sorry and concerned for the new mechanic.

    "That was fast."

    The Marshal's infamous noncommittal tone seemed pressed between making a bad joke and not caring. One of Liza's lace-covered hands came up to touch Xalidus' chest. She pressed her palm there as if protecting him from the Marshal's words.

    "Now Marshal, you could be a mite kinder to him. It's his first day and all."

    The Marshal took out his pistol again and checked the rounds within it. He glanced up at Liza and raised a bushy eyebrow at her show. He looked back down and pulled each bullet from its chamber and then shoved it back into place.

    "If the mines are proving to be too rough for him, he can always go tinker with the robot that runs the toy store. It's the little square building between the Waggoner's and Lumber Exchange at the west entrance to town."

    He gave Xal a glance that was strangely curious. He was trying to get a read on the new mechanic and was offering him little lures to see where he'd bite.

    "Maybe later" Tess finally spoke up and interrupted the Marshal's idea. She stepped forward and looped her arm into Xal's other, just enough to make her presence but not impede his ability to carry his trunk. Her other hand came up and touched his upper arm, as if she planned on making a grand announcement to the Marshal.

    "We're taking him in to Cas's place to show him a good time."

    The Marshal's eyes darkened at Tess and his bushy brows drew down. She went on undaunted.

    "It's his first day here. Let him have a little bit of fun before he has to dive straight into his work."

    And, with that, she tried to steer Xal into the batwing doors of the saloon. Liza waved her darkly-painted fingernails at the Deputy and Marshal and mouthed a piqued 'Bye-bye' and giggled lightly, in the same, intoxicating manner that had first caught the mechanic's attention farther back on the boardwalk.

  6. #26
    Harmony Point: Riding West Down the Main Street

    Silenha, Head of Mankato Ranch

    She was beyond frustrated, but upon reaching the edge of town, that frustration had begun to clear. As soon as she turned south on Harmony Road and put the majority of the town behind her, she visibly relaxed. She glanced uncomfortably at the Undertaker's modest building as she rode Natsalane on the road between it and the cemetery. The tall hedge spires on her right almost completely hid the iron-worked fence and the memorial markers just beyond. Natsalane instinctively slowed. Silenha's hazel eyes peered with trained sharpness between the space in the fence and hedges. She had brought the children here earlier in the week. She could see the blossoms of colorful flowers picked from the ranch lands and garden that they had bundled themselves and brought to the graves of their parents.

    The mining accident had robbed so many children of their families. She heard the mine used robots of some kind now, ones that were impervious to the Desert Diamond's masquerade of illusionary danger. The idea of machines tugged downward at the corners of her mouth. Natsalane had come to a halt as she stared at the cemetery. The Qirin's hooves shifted beneath its rider. Its ears moved forward and then one skewed back to listen to Silenha's breathing and at the distant sounds of the town. The Shamaa woman did not care for the unnaturalness of the machines, but it preserved the lives of the miners from more accidents. She was conflicted and the way her Qirin side stepped uneasily reflected that. She decided she would ask the children their thoughts on the matter. Their opinion on it would give greater insight as it affected them and their schoolmates more than she. Silenha turned Natsalane to continue down the road, but before she urged her ride forward, she stopped.

    She had forgotten Ginnevy's letters.

    Silenha's shoulders slumped and her head hung down toward her chest. After speaking to the Marshal she was supposed to go to the post office to check is there had been a response to her petitions to Mirian. Ginnevy had family there. A sister of her father and two male cousins a little older than she. The girl had not spoken a word since the mining accident and being abandoned by her father's wife- her step mother. Officials of the mines and towns had asked her to take them in. No one could find her stepmother. It was assumed she'd left town on one of the stagecoaches. She hadn't bothered to wait for a faster, more luxurious rain train. In her pocket, Ginnevy had written a letter to her Aunt and cousins back at Mirian. Silenha had asked her if she could read it, and the girl declined with a shake of her head. She promised she would respect that and mail the letter in the morning. Then the raid had happened. There was the mess to clean up the morning after and with the events that had followed earlier, she'd forgotten to swing by the Post Office to see if anyone had answered her letters concerning the poor, silent child.

    She could not go home without mailing Ginny's letter. Silenha turned Natsalane around again. The Qirin protested. The open grasslands were visible in a wide, green spread before them. The desert dunes arose harshly and suddenly in the distance. The copious difference between the two climate zones was made worse by the fresh rain that had fallen earlier in the week. It enriched the grasslands and enlivened their shoots to a beautiful luster. Natsalane protested the turn-around with a toss of its head.

    "I know. I know" Silenha bent down by her Qirin's neck and soothed it with a gentle touch of her hand. Her voice dropped to a whisper. The animal's ears moved back, listening. "But I made a promise to one of my little ones that I cannot break."

    She paused a moment and stroked her rides scaled neck in thought.

    "There are extra oats in a bag with your name on it if you can do me this one favor, old friend."

    The Qirin considered this and then began a trot back toward town. Silenha swung herself back up to an erect, relaxed position on the animal's back and bounced and moved with its gait. She patted his side heartily with her hand. As Natsalane trod forward, Silenha closed her eyes. A soft, blue glow overtook her form and with a whisper and an exhale that made her shudder, the glowing light left the center of her back and swirled above her. It moved into ancient drawing lines and that moved and flowed like the tides of an ocean's crest and then took shape and form. The transparent, azure blue orca hummed contentedly as it swam mystically through the air. It turned on its side to regard the woman who'd called it forth. Silenha opened her hazel eyes, which were ringed with a gentle blue glow. Natsalane's ears moved in response to sounds not made aloud, but emitted through the connection between woman and Spirit. The orca hummed arching its vocals from high notes to low.

    "Thank you" she whispered to it as it circled her once more and then swam away, back toward the open plains and smooth grasslands, along the dirt road that led to her ranch. As they back-tracked west down the town's Main Street, Silenha bent and whispered so quietly that only her Qirin could hear her.

    "Let's go."

    They picked up their pace, skirting the edge of what was legally allowed as they rode down the dusty Main Street of town.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 02-04-2018 at 12:23 PM.

  7. #27
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Xal Qwaring

    Harmony Point, Main Street...

    When some concern is shown for his injuries, Xalidus looks down at his bandaged hands. He does his best to shurg off any worries.

    "Oh, this?" he dismissively mutters. "It's nothing. Really. Just some scrapes."

    Then the marshal speaks about Xalidus finding safer work in the shop. Xalidus misses whatever small jab the lawman intended with his words, and is instead entirely focused on the idea of one of the automatons working in a local shop.

    "They have one of the automatons operating a shop?" Xalidus gasps. Excitement lights his gaze. "Wow. It wouldn't need the brute strength a mining machine requires. I would imagine it has been modified with greater manual dexterity for precise tasks that requires a more delicate touch. Its optical systems would have to operate very differently. I imagine it's mechanical brain would also be modified to deal with the complexities of retail work."

    It is that this point that Xal recalls the marshal's earlier uninterested reaction to Xal's talk of the workings of the automatons. It's rare for Xalidus to find someone that shares his excitement for technology, and so he has learned to restrain himself from boring others with shop talk. And sometimes Xal realizes he should make use of that learned restraint.

    "Yes, I think I will have to eventually visit the toy shop, marshal," Xal says. "Thank you for the suggestion."

    Then Xal finds himself being pulled into the saloon. Taking the hint from his guides that it is time to move on, Xal gives one last wave to the two lawmen.

    "Good evening, gentlemen," Xal blurts out as he is taken past the swinging doors. He calls out to the marshal and deputy, "It was nice meeting you."

    Soon Xal, still dragging his trunk with him, is pulled into the crowded saloon. The dim twilight of early evening is replaced by the bright lights of a bar populated by an army of off-duty miners. After a day of surviving one of the most dangerous places in the world, these men have sought to drink deeply of every pleasure that life can offer them. Drink, gambling, watching the stage entertainment, laughing, and telling tall tales of how they've conquered the many dangers the ever-lethal mines had thrown at them this day. It's as if the men of the mines have come to this place to celebrate their last night alive, because if the desert diamonds in the mines have their way it very well might be.

  8. #28
    Harmony Point: The Diamond Saloon

    Castillo Rockwell, Tender and the Ladies of the Diamond Saloon

    With the latest shift of the minds having let out, the saloon was a much busier place than when Tess and Liza had left it. The brass chandelier candles had been lit and enchanted to engulf the large space in a warm, orange glow. There is a haze of multi-colored smoke drifting out from a corner where several of the dirtied locals had taken to smoking enchanted Astral cigars. Jane was in the middle of the ring where they sat. She had parked herself suggestively between two of them at the center and was taking a drag from each cigar held out to her by the two men. Her cheeks moved and when she exhaled with her beautiful lips ringed in a perfect 'O', the dual colors of smoke spiraled form her mouth. A copper colored dragon emerged and cocked its neck back and breathed copper-colored fire at a knight who appeared in blues with a shield and a sword ready to fight and slay the beast. All the men around her laughed and applauded her skill. She returned a cigar to the man beside her. The way they leaned in and goaded her for more tricks of her tongue implied heavily at a want for her to test her skills on other objects of such shape.

    "A serpent and a flower? What's in your lineage? Maginus?"

    This elicit's laughter from the Harmony Point natives, mock hurt from any who have a shred of Maginus decendency in their veins.

    Tess made a disgusted noise in Jane's general direction. Liza, who had looked on with girlish wonder and awe at the Astral woman's creations turned sharply in confusion to the woman opposite her. Thankfully, Liza's observance had been left outside. Her dark eyes were furrowed with confusion. Tess cleared her throat heavily and squeezed Xal's upper arm with a small, strained smile.

    "The smoke" she managed with a faint cough and a wave of her other hand."Vile things, cigars. They're not my specialty."

    "Unless" Liza interjected with still harbored uncertainty in her voice. It came across as innocence. Her dollish naivety was something that endeared her to many of the worn miners here. "You enjoy them? Then maybe Tess here can learn herself a new skill."

    Tess's gloved hand squeezed Xal's arm again in apology for her outburst. She smiled at him. There were other things that were her specialty. Liza giggled perceptively, a sound that would ring sweet like honey near the mechanic's ear.

    Up on the well-lit stage , Bess was singing and dancing amid a backdrop of the lush marshlands of Shamaa and the warm emerald waters of the Sea of Sul beyond.

    "... 'Till, oh, the seas go dry, my dear, and the rocks melt with the burning sun. I will love thee still, my dear, while the sands of life still run..."

    She sung in a lifting, beautiful voice of the ocean, the sand and an unreturned love from the unforgiving sea. The miners that slouched in their chairs smiled distantly. They came to the Diamond Saloon to forget the weariness and dangers of the life they lead outside. Bess offered them just that with her music and song. She always had the good fortune of knowing exactly what song and scene were needed to spear the hearts of the hardened miners. They slipped off into a dreamy lull to her euphoric tune. For now, the mugs of varying shades of amber liquid remained untouched.

    One of the many, packed gambling tables rang out with a single cry of elation thronged with groans and shouts of defeat. Cards were slammed down on tables and chips were stacked and leveled. From up the stairs that ran alongside the bar, Luelle's voice and laughter rang out.

    "Now just sit tight and don't you move a muscle. I'll get us some more to drink and be back up before you can say Lymes Lickable Lemon Licorice three times fast!"

    Tess and Liza had steered Xal int he bar's direction. Luelle appeared at the top of the stairs and hurriedly skipped her way down the worn wooden steps. She wore a shawl over her shoulders and a flapper-style gown. There were threads of long beads around her neck than jingled and jostled with the honey-colored dress she wore. She paused by the flip, the hinged piece of the bar top that can be pushed up to admit the tender to and from the serving area. She bounced giddy with excitement. Cass had his back to the room and glanced sidelong at Luelle.

    "Night's going well, I take it?" he asked as his hands busily manipulated, poured and mixed the various bottles that floated to and from the glass stock shelves around him.

    "It's dusk, you hermit. The night has just begun."

    The girls often joked about how Cas must have a deep dark secret, the he left Da'Jinn because he was allergic to the sun or was a vampire. They very rarely ever saw him outside the saloon during the day, despite his beautifully tanned skin. He threw Luelle a smile at the joke that was as old as the saloon.

    "I know you get deep into your work, Lu. Just don't overdo it with one guest and leave the others unattended."

    Lu gave him a salute. Cas waved a hand and two bottle of a liquid that glowed golden and violet when sloshed floated Luelle's way.

    "Thanks, Cas" she said sweetly and threw him a wink. As she turned, her eyes found Xalidus's. They were enchanted and appeared more orange than anything naturally found on this world. They glowed lightly and she threw him a deep, approving smile as she quickly onced-him-over and turned to go back up the stairs. Her skirts and backside swished in perfect harmony. One last glance over her shoulder and she made her way along the balcony to her designated room. Her voice lifted in cheery greeting before the door shutting smothered out any goings-on of the room. Tess gave Xal a reassuring smile as the guided him over to the bar. Once there, Liza seated herself at a stool and then patted the one beside her for Xal to sit on.

    "Your things will be fine right here" her light voice piqued up. "Cas runs an honest establishment, dontcha honey?"

    Liza closed her parasol, extended a hand for Tess's and slid them down the bar top. They sailed across it and over its edge into a canister at the other end.

    "As best I can" he offered without turning around. He glanced at the trio in the angled mirrors before him. They enabled him to survey everything going on behind him in the gambling portion of the bar room. "Ladies, who is your new friend?"

    "New guy" Tess muttered and sat herself down with a space for Xal between she and Liza.

    "Yea!" she elated to Cas. "This here is Xalidus Qwaring. He goes by Xal. He's the new mechanic at the mines southeast of town."

    Tess leaned forward and looked at Liza in disbelief. Liza, who sometimes could not remember to button her own boots just rattled off all the personal information the mechanic had shared with them. Tess sat back and shook her head.

    "Great memory, Liza" Tess remarked dryly. One of her hands touched Xal's wrist. "What's your drink of choice? Cas here can whip up anything from any province of your liking."
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 03-17-2018 at 04:14 PM.

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