Jocasta @Force and Fury, Yalen @pantothenic, Ysilla @Pirouette, Zarina @YummyYummy, Kaspar @Wolfieh
Event: Hugo's task, Location: Torragonese Desert.
With the Halassa situation taken care of, she had a moment to simply lean backwards upon the sand and take a breath of air. Whoosh! The adrenaline was pumping non-stop, it was worse than the excitement she felt at even her most pressuring of performances, nothing could have prepared for that kind of experience. She tries to recollect her memories of these past moments, just trying to work out for herself what has happened between her time in the Paradigms study to now. What she could really do now was go for a nice long sleep, in a great big comfy bed, lots of pillows… instead, she is laying down upon the cold open desert. She tries to figure out why the Paradigm would send them on a class trip like this and not even provide them with basic supplies or necessities, where are the waterskins? Just thinking about water made her very thirsty, especially as the sand has dried out the balm upon her lips, she has no idea of what she looks like, but she probably looks like a bedraggled sand creature. She lets out a great big grunt of exhaustion, as she forces herself back upon her feet, brushing herself down as much as she can in an environment like this.
Ayla frowns as Zaz continues to stare in her direction expectantly, she knows how the Virangi got impatient. She thought that she did good to direct the Halassa away from Jocasta and herself, clever use of her abilities, but the forthright dancer already found criticism in her actions, referring to her as a ‘Baboon’ and in the next breath a ‘Kitty Cat’. “¿Usar una espada? - Use a sword?”, she hears her speak in native Torragonese. The question reminded her of an old phrase she remembered by her old Avincian professor, “Calamus gladio fortior”, deciding at that moment to put her own spin on things, “Tibia gladio fortior- The Flute is mightier than the Sword'". She knew there would be some disagreement from this, deciding that heating the jug would placate her for now, besides, a hot coffee wouldn’t go amiss around now as she starts to feel that coolness seeping into her bones, gracefully accepting the drink. Meanwhile, watching Ysilla working herself back under that cloak and huddling up underneath it only placed emphasis on the current affairs. A nice, warm, hot bed… already dreaming of warmer times.
Already being next to Jocasta, it made sense to follow her lead. Instinctively, she was going to start pushing upon the rollerchair like she did with her friend Maura back in Varrahasta with the pair always seeming to be found by themselves together due to their frailty. This caught her by surprise as it started to move upon her own and seeing Jocasta journey upon the sand. She could find aspects of Maura in Jocasta, the way she is always so polite and considerate of others. She also noticed some of the more self-humiliation aspects too, how Maura used to belittle herself in front of others in order not to evoke negative feelings, recalling how others used to prey on her more frail appearance when they felt threatened by her as they reminded her that she was a ‘cripple’, as if this meant she was undeserving, some implying she is punished by the gods. She could sense the pride in Jocasta, the way she is not reliant on others, a fierce independence underneath that humble presenting exterior. This made her question her own role in the past, did Maura allow Ayla to support her… for Ayla’s benefit? That is a troubling question, and she felt guilty. Perhaps she can try to be a better person, starting with the girl in front of her.
"Ayla", she turns to see Yalen addressing her abruptly, tiling her head in curiosity as she looks towards the boy. "I'm sorry about earlier. I should have finished the beast quicker, but I was afraid to resort to arcane magic again. Causing harm to others is... not easy for me.". She found this question to be unexpected, taking a moment to think and consider her words as the blond boy tried his best to match the pace as they moved behind Jocasta. She did not even know how to approach a question like this,due to this being her first time she experienced real combat. “We have a saying for Halassa in Torraganese, ‘Lento pero seguro’, Slow but safe. These… Aberrations defy their base nature.”. She had no real words for the boy's hesitation when it came to using his gift to end life, as this is not a path she has crossed yet, having relied on others like him to do this on her behalf, “Death did not linger” She noticed how he grew silent, seemingly to ponder upon her words.
As the social butterfly, she reached out to the others. She looked towards Kaspar as he was hanging back from the others, noticing the glances from his direction. She smiles back towards him, “Shame there wasn’t an opportunity to study them more closely”, she makes reference to the boy's sketchbook he carries around with him, “When the circumstance is right, you should find the opportunity”. She gave a warm smile as he was gently disturbed from his thoughts, responding, “Perhaps I will. Their shells had quite intriguing patterns on them, I may try to sketch them from memory. Surely you might find a subject in them, too?”. Kaspar’s attention quickly disappeared to that of the long legged Virangish girl when she spoke. Perhaps that she was more his type, she mused.
Ayla found herself silent with only Ysilla with company. She was reminded of another expression when she was being disciplined in her Avincian class, “Wise men speak when they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something”. As she gazed up towards the other Virangish girl, she could only consider her to be the wisest of them all. She tries to imagine the thoughts going through the woman’s head, Ysilla mentally picking out the right woods to recreate the Halassa. She directs her words towards her, “We have the Snakewood in Torragon, its pattern would be ideal for the puppet”. She noticed the smile appearing upon those features, that damned smile, Ysilla seemingly taking notice of her words, “Snakewood has a beautiful distinctive pattern, strong in body, when carved could create a good defensive puppet”. Whilst she received no reply, she knew her words were heard, recalling the numerous times Ysilla could quote her to the breath.
As others continue to be paired up for their conversations, she pulls out her flute. She recalls some of the melody that Jocasta was humming as she tries to create it, putting on her own Torragonese flair to the music. Though the coldness did bite at her fingers, missing the odd key as she shivers a little through the playing, doing her best to entertain her companions through their walk beneath the clear starry night. She saw how Jocasta’s little face glowed up as she smiled towards her, "O-oh! That's my song!" she chirped. "How I wish I could play the flauta as I do the harpsichord". She was sure the girl wasn’t oblivious to her errors or improvisation, especially as the song was unfamiliar to her, attempting to improvise. She cannot help but glance upon Ysilla’s cloak, wishing she was as fortunate as the chill permananted the air. She turns towards Jocasta. “Been attempting to follow the harmony of your humming, is this a tune of your homeland?” she asks with curiosity, as she continues to play again with a more faithful rendition. There was a very evident shift in tone as girls responded in return "I think it is,". Jocasta shrugged slightly, taking a moment to wait as the wind passed them, "Though I don't... don't really know," she finished belatedly. "It was from... my childhood but...I don't remember it. They er-erase you when you arrive at a Refuge. They say it's so you won't miss the family that left you there”. It seemed that around this moment, there appeared to be a warmth, sensing Jocasta using her gift, as she began to feel it wrap around her. She looks towards the girl, a little surprised, but very kindly, a blush appearing upon her cheeks as it seemed Jocasta was accepting of her company and friendship.
Ayla had listened to Jocasta with her heart as she spoke, allowing the girl to speak freely of her vulnerability around the trauma she experienced. Part of her feels warm, the way this girl feels secure enough to share, and this makes her feel close. She placed a hand upon Jocasta’s shoulder, a reassuring touch, the presence of another who cares, listening, and is wanting to share an understanding and listening ear. “Sounds like it must have taken a lot of courage”. She wondered if Jocasta really knew what she feels herself at times, wearing multiple masks from being vulnerable, being strong, being petty, being generous, competing diametric opposites which she could only imagine how exhausting this must be. Even in these moments,where the girl is vulnerable herself, she also reaches out with her magic to comfort Ayla in return. It seems Jocasta wanted somewhere to belong, a place to call home. "I-I didn't exactly have much choice. Th-the first couple years at San S-Sofia were... were even nice. That's the side they'll show us when we get there". She could tell Jocasta wasn’t used to being touched, feeling as the girl visibly jumped as her fingers laid gently upon her, removing them after a light cherishing moment. “We're a t-team, though, and we have a m-mission.So I don't want you w-worrying about me. I don't need protection”.
Ayla couldn’t stop smiling as the girl was opening out, like a Halassa climbing out of her shell, and being brave. It is okay, you are with friends now she thought. She considers her words, drawing back to rely on her own family's words in a moment like this. “Lions protect the lion pride. Supporting each other. They are fierce, proud, and strong, No one has ever heard of a weak lion”. She leans over to provide a thank-you peck upon the girl's cheek, “Thank you. Glad you’re part of my lion pride”.
The bitter sweet moments spent together seemed to disappear as quickly as they appeared, as they came upon the others seeming to come and greet them... except they weren’t. She could make out the muffled cries in Torragonese, as she felt a shiver run straight through her body like a frosty lightning bolt, "Arena Malvada! - Evil Sand". It is not many moments she made the sign of the Pentad, but this is one of them. There are many old Torragonese myths and even a bizarre ancient religion around a creature known to her as Shal-Desierto - Thing of the Desert.
"Sand Wyrm!" she heard Jocasta scream, "East of here! It's... it's coming up fast!". She could feel the vibrations in the soft sand, but it wasn’t heading towards them, it was heading towards the refuge, they wouldn’t make it. “Jocasta, stop! You won’t make it… !", she pauses for a moment, watching the others hesitantly, “Wait! You’ll die, trust me…”, as she tries to recollect her thoughts as she thinks about the old myths and legends, desperately searching for something she could use, feeling like a lost cause. Ayla ends up getting distracted in memories of a children's game she played when she was younger, Dança-Alsahra.
Dança-Alsahra was a relatively simple game where one kid, usually Maura, played as Shai-Desierto, whilst the others danced around. Maura would give out a big roar, and turn around as the others danced around wildly. Upon hearing the roar, everyone had to immediately stop. Often it was the kids falling over or not stopping that were ‘caught and eaten’, then Maura would turn back around again, as the survivors danced around again. The goal was to be the last dancer standing, or get through the rounds as exhaustion grew as the dancers were being ‘chased’. Like a spark of inspiration, it hit her, excitedly shouting to the others in Torragonese, “Dança-Alsahra, Dança-Alsahra!”.
Ayla didn’t have time to explain to the others, time is clearly something they do not have, as Shai-Desierto was roaring. They needed dancers, or at least a great big blundering one to give out vibrations. How to communicate this with the others, all she had was… sound. Sound! She rummages through her handbag as she pulls it out, the tool of their survival, the tool of their freedom, the solution to their problems… a tuning fork.
With her tactician's mind, she creates the plan in her mind, and directs orders. “Binding Magic. Kaspar, Ysilla, need this bigger, at least 100 times bigger. Right now. Use everything.” She holds out the tuning fork, allowing them to have a glimpse of its very simple design to recreate, expanding upon the plan as they start. “We need a thumper, a blundering dancer, a distraction. Shai-Desierto likes vibrations, heat, and magic. Give it to him.” As the shape is starting to form, “Yalen, this has to be red hot.”, then returning to look towards Zaz and Jocaster. “Once formed, use all your kinetic energy to send it as far as you can towards those Halassa corpses.” As the instructions appear to be received and made clear, she finishes up with the most important step of all. “Stop absolutely everything, not even a breath.”
There was a step in the plan not shared, but it wasn’t necessary, it was her role. There was a particular reason she picked this tool, and as a musician and a sonic mage, it was only natural. Ayla drew in deeply, the raging sands provided all the kinetic energy she could ever need. Picking the precise moment, she cast her own spell, humming the sounding word "Chuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-SA!" a loud clap of her hands with the final syllable, the concentration of mana and sound causes the giant tuning fork to reverberate, vibrate wildly, as it is cast across the sands.
The thumper is now loose, free waltz through the night as Shai-Desierto hungers. She made one last hand-gesture, commanding each and everyone of them to stop completely, not even a breath, not even a step, and not even a spell. Silence has now fallen upon the class. Hopefully not for the last.