Apr. 5th, 2012 05:37 am
whipped_weapon: serious face (Default)
[personal profile] whipped_weapon
The birdsong in the gardens had been soothing and the cool spring air had been refreshing as Zaknafein and Lady Mara had been discussing the worth of several spools of copper and silver wire he'd acquired when he was last in the Bar. Gold wire was far beyond Zak's projection of his finances before he'd found himself following Mara .. and that, not completely by his choice. One moment he'd found himself about to talk to Tyler, the next.. He'd lost track of the young man between one instant and the next and he felt his loss keenly.

But here he'd found himself, and he'd not seen the door to the Bar since then. Not for months. Not during another outlaw's raid of the silk caravan which he'd foiled in exchange for his share of the fabric; not during the days after in which he'd helped train the new batch of former outlaws once they'd been inducted into the Acoma.

At least, here, he could still afford to keep his gryphon fed.. though it wasn't his gryphon; it was Talaerion's. Talaerion, the Warden, who he also hadn't seen since he'd left the Bar on what was supposedly a short outing.

No sign of the Bar, and that was disturbing. He belonged in the Bar. It was.. well.. home. Why then had it not opened a door for him yet? Was there some sort of trouble occurring there?

The waiting was gnawing at the edges of him with worry, it had never been so long between doors to Milliways. Was he to stay here forever?
Mara had noticed, for the past months, that Zaknafein was wary and on-edge constantly. It wasn't just the level of danger she herself was in, due to their feud with the Minwanabi. The Acoma territory had pretty much been scoured clean of every relli, dhast and venomous creature they could think of, and still, while his sleep hadn't been disturbed, he was the only one of them awake before the dawn.

Bunto hadn't approved of it, and the watch had been rearranged to accomodate a guard to keep an eye on him, to keep her husband at ease, but since his copper wire was paying for his keep, and aiding her to pay for Bunto's gambling and wenching besides, the Lord of the Acoma didn't really have a leg to stand on, in terms of evicting their guest. It was uncomfortable, but it kept Bunto from lashing out at her or the servants.

It was fortunate Zaknafein didn't seem to care about what else Bunto did. Or at least was kind enough to pretend that it was normal.
It took away another one of the reasons for Bunto to object to his presence. As long as he could happily gamble and bed his wenches, including the one in Sulan-Qu, he was seemingly ... more content with his life.

Content enough to let his wife deal with the stranger. Under guard, yes, but he had by his terms, better things to do, and the little woman seemed to be content to putter with the money so...

Perhaps, had Mara more visibly shown interest in trading with other clans, Bunto would have objected, she knew. As it was, from what she could tell, he could tell that negotiating pleased her, he could keep an eye on the stranger, the stranger didn't speak about anything to him, or interfere with his lusts.. And the stranger could be persuaded to part with some coin. Regularly. To feed Bunto's vices.

For Bunto, it was close to a win-win situation. In another time, in another place, perhaps he might have objected to Mara's firm desire to keep a hand on the finances, because his vices would have consistently drained their coffers. Here, she was quiet, pretended to be working and weaving or playing with an abacus, and she engaged him in questions about new gowns instead of asking where he was going or when he was going to sign Jican's paperwork.

Bunto hated Jican. It wasn't the poor man's fault that he was conscentious. It wasn't his fault that Mara had given him the duty of asking him to sign paperwork on all the Acoma's outward transactions. It wasn't Jican's fault that Bunto... felt somewhat defensive about the fact both his wife and the accountant were more intelligent than he.

However, it was there. And there was nothing that could be done about it. Bunto simply relied on his guard to tell him if the guest was doing anything he wasn't supposed to, and according to the guard, Zaknafein was as asexual as a cho-ja. So. No competition there.

She was interrupted in her musings as her guest spoke up again, and a slim hand flicked a few more beads on the abacus as she contemplated the costs. Yes, the copper covered it.Zak managed to sell Mara a copper wire spool for a month and a half's worth of food supplies for himself and the gryphon (which really did love offal as much as it loved meat. He supposed that its preference for things humans didn't eat, kept his food costs low.) when the screaming started up. It started up from farther than the human's hearing range, and so, long before the servant actually came into sight, panicking, Zaknafein had his hands on both blades, and had managed to warn Mara that they had trouble, incoming.

Mara, worried, stood up immediately, ignoring the splash of the discarded teacup's contents and the splatter-marks on her long, flowing sleeves. The silk could be washed. There was more important work afoot. "What kind of trouble? Where is it coming from?" she asked, beginning to fumble for her bodkin. Zak simply handed her a pair of the long acoma-style blades he'd purchased during his stay, so she could defend herself, and she'd discarded the first of her confining outer robes when the servant, a young, frightened maid, came in.

"Harulth! There is a small Harulth in the food garden!" The maid was outright terrified, panting in fear, "It tore through the wall and started snarling and chasing people!"

Small Harulth?" Zak puzzled out, as he headed in the direction of the food garden. "What does it look like?"

"It was black and gold and screaming mad!" the maid shouted to him as he outpaced her and got ahead to the commotion coming from the vegetable garden. "And it's skin looked like it was made of hard plates!"

Oh. Wait. Wait a minute. "I'll handle this." he said politely, as something very much like hope began to kindle in his chest. "Mara, if you could please ask your slaughterers to bring as much needra offal from the slaughterhouse as possible?"

Mara, noting the way Zak had suddenly calmed, tilted her head at him quizzically. "Are you planning to bribe or distract the creature?" she puzzled out, as she gave swift orders to the staff to call in the slaughterers and bid them bring Needra and Gazen offal.

"Something like that." Zak allowed, smiling with surprising joy, given his wary and unsettled demeanor in the past months. "I think it is from the Bar."

Mara noted that speaking these words caused his shoulders to relax. "Specifically, "I believe it could be Tyler's Guardian beast, Winston."

The boy Tyler, whom Zak cared about, had a guardian beast? What exactly was such a thing, and how in the world had it come to the middle of her vegetable gardens for the feasts, had a door to Milliways opened? The sounds coming from the garden now were of irritated animal ...and man screaming at each other before the crack of the sword colliding with something. Then the animal's noise became positively enraged and snapping it's teeth.

Mara wondered what had happened to her life and what had she done in a past life to deserve this, as she quickly followed in his footsteps, , pausing to call the slaughterers on over and give them the orders... and yet she was relieved by Zak's taking over. It would be good to get this over with as early as possible-

"Lord Bunto! It's bitten your sword in two!" The frantic cry ruined her hopes.

Well, that had just torn off any chance she could get of reconciling her husband to another strange guest..

Oh no. Buntokapi had returned, earlier from his outing than expected! And apparently the creature had bitten through one of his blades!

The scene that greeted Mara was of Bunto nearly apopoleptic with rage swatting away at the beast with what remained of his sword as it charged and snapped at him, tearing at what it could reach and doing a good job of shredding the man's green and white robes.

Now seeing the creature as it landed and growled angrily, it did look something like a harulth. It's body shape, and head-full of sharp teeth were similar, but that was where it ended. It's skin was made of up hard, black and gold metal plates, some singed, some stained with a thick glittery fluid, and purple eyes. The size of a very young needra it had dozens of bright steel teeth in it's jaws, which snapped at Buntokapi as the lord advanced, and Mara winced. It's claws too were made of steel and there were shreds of silk caught between them, as the very enraged beast snapped and charged at Bunto again.

It was just a good thing it wasn't his ancestral blade or the Acoma's ancestral blade, but she could see he had lost his temper and quite frankly his sense of caution because of it. Those teeth and claws could disembowel him if he weren't as good a warrior as he was. She had only a moment's notice to feel relieved by this, before she flinched as Zak called its attention to them.

"Winston!" Zaknafein called out, as the wary slaughterers came in with wheelbarrows full of dripping offal from the slaughterhouses. "Liver!"

Was that supposed to help? Mara wondered.

The creature turned, fascinated, as the man's sword glanced off its plated back, and then with a cry of joy, bounded over to Zak, eager to receive the proffered treats, causing the slaughterhouse men to flinch in apprehension as it began to root around the wheelbarrow's contents, slurping up innards with glee.

And now it was up to Mara and Zak to defuse Buntokapi's rage, a thing which neither of them were any good with.


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