Strike day. The last day in any town is a bunch of hard work and a real pain in the ass. Just like it takes a full day to get the carnival set up, it takes a full day to tear it all down and pack it up. The lucky ones get to go to town and load up on supplies for the road. It's an honor that rotates among the troupe, a chance to escape the hard physical labor for a few hours and get one last bit of town fun in, though just how fun it is depends largely on the town. Everyone else stays back and works.
It's just after sunset and the carnival is mostly struck - all the rides and tents are down and in pieces, all the equipment is getting loaded. Only the center of carnie camp remain. Since it's where food gets made, it goes last, at dawn after breakfast is served, right before hitting the road.
In the distance the trucks that went to town can be seen coming back, and they look rather empty as far as supplies go. It'll be a bit before they arrive and can explain the situation, however.
Uneasy? Of course she is. Urania has been unsettled since the moment the troupe arrived in New Mexico, and that agitation and disquiet has yet to let go of her. Just past sundown, she's out of the trailer and dictating the last of the packing up, having seen off the two visiting local cultists not long before. Between 'the cat' and 'the dog' each stirring their own sort of trouble in turns, she's near her wits' end as she fills a cup from the last pot of coffee bubbling away in the last vestiges of the kitchen.
Most of the North Star's camp site is tucked away, with only the barest bones remaining, visible from the central camp. Marcelle is at the muse's side, prattling on with far more energy and good cheer than anyone has any business having after a long day of hauling, heaving, and packing up. Urania blissfully tunes the majority of it out without ever intending to, distracted as ever by something just past the periphery.
Sebastianus is resting now that the Cooch Tent's packing situation is under control, sipping from a mug of tea and reading a book. He hears the trucks approaching, looks up, frowns. "Did the town have nothing?" He'd only been to the cinema, but if Truth or Consequences has a cinema presumably it has things like salt, pepper, and the like. So either they refused to sell to carnies--a distinct possibility, it's happened before--or something else is going on.
Keme has spent most of the day along with all of the others, striking the camp. He's never been one to shy away from hard work, just as comfortable joining the rousties in striking and setup as he is in performing. There's a glance in the direction of the approaching trucks, and a thoughtful look, but no comment on their state, not at that distance anyway, and so he settles himself on a bench to watch and to wait.
Lorraine has seemed rather unconcerned about all the goings on since the visit to the cinema. She's thrown herself into her work and hasn't seemed to much care about anything else. With the Cooch Tent struck she's relaxing as well, just sort of staring around as she lingers near Sebastianus. "They had plenty," she murmurs quietly. She'd been into town as part of Nikki's effort to drum up enthusiasm. She's mildly curious about the state of the trucks
The runty Death Loa, now awake since the sun has set, frowns as she squints at the nearing trucks. "They let the blind guy do the shopping, didn't they?" Brigitte snorts. "Figures."
Kemen's people have been working hard all day, and are just going to eat. Kemen is in his most comfortable tunic and just drifting along after them in search of breakfast. He gives the empty trucks a rather quisical look and wends that way, waving his people on. "Rana found good clotth and books and things when she went shopping last week. She said they were well stocked. I mislike this, Seb."
Colorado and his girls have been packing and working while Itchy went into town for supplies. Now he's slouching on a bench, his back to the table, yawning a luxurious horse yawn. He sits up, squinting through the late light at the empty trucks. For some reason, the sight of them sends a spike of fear through him and he shivers.
Bik has always had a rather convenient way of being mysteriously doing hard work /somewhere else/ when time came to strike camp. It's a bit of an anomaly that he's actually present for it, in fact. Give that he's not the lift-and-haul type, he's currently at work somewhere around one of the freak show acts' tents, slowly folding costumes and storing them away in a trunk. He glances up at the ripple of curiosity that passes through camp when the truck is spotted, but even though he keeps an eye on things, he keeps at his work.
The People have formed a drum circle to keep spirits up and help pass the time. Older members of the diaspora are working on helping two of the newer members find a place to pack their things and join in and mostly keep Keme some company, even playing one of his old songs just because.
Nils is the one guiding Holden into camp. Sometime between town and now, he shifted from twin roustie brunette to his true face with the clouded eyes and dishwater brown hair. Nils guides Holden to a seat and mutters something to him about bringing him back some mead. Holden smiles at this. Holden, overall, seems...lighter. Sure, something happened in town but he isn't speaking about that yet. Mead first.
Arthur's fiddling by the drum circle, sprightly on the evening breeze, a pale figure flitting here and there as his bow flickers back and forth.
In an extraordinary change of pace, Theodoro has been predictably nonexistent outside of his trailer and the den of iniquity he operates in the later hours of the evening for the past several days -- and especially so with the activity and labor that comes with preparation for travel. It's only when a burly, limping roustie hauls a trunk to the stairs leading into Hypnos' trailer and thumps on the door with a meaty fist that the dark-haired apothecary emerges groggily with a pair of thick, round sunglasses on his face, makes a grumbling sound, then traipses out with a wooden folding chair.
Setting the rickety chair up outside of the trailer, Hypnos plops his ass contentedly into the seat, squinting through his glasses despite the sun's decline, and looks altogether put out at having had to vacate his residence to facilitate George's packing. Muffling a yawn into his palm, he erupts into brief laughter at Brigitte's remark then turns to slap the side of the trailer and demand: "My whiskey!" Dutifully, if begrudgingly, George emerges to hand off a bottle and glass from within before going back to loading.
The trucks arrive, empty as they were when they departed, and the carnies hop out. Well, Dash stumble-hops out, graceless as always. He rushes into the camp, looking rattled. Without preamble, he says, "We have to get rid of our radios. All of them," sweeping a hand. "Not just turn 'em off, I mean disassemble the fucking things." He points back at the town. "The radio, in the general store, it told the shopkeep to shoot Rosencrantz, and he did. Pulled out a gun from under the counter and--" Dash shakes his head.
Coffee. Urania takes a long sip, actually holding up a finger in Marcelle's direction to bid her be quiet. When she still isn't, the fingertip lands on her lips to keep them still, at least for the length of time it takes to drain the coffee mug and refill it. Then, she lets all the stoppered words tumble out, and is in a more reasonable state to listen. "Go see if there's any of the washing left out on the lines out by the field?" she asks, brows furrowing as the trucks come in more rapidly than is usual. Her chin snaps up at the news from Dash, and immediately, she scans the cluster of carnies in the trucks for signs of Itchy.
That chilling and foreboding sensation doesn't leave once the truck starts, nor does it immediately go away once they are out of earshot of those blasted, yet hard-working, newspaper selling brats. It's something that continues to weigh heavily on Cedric's mind, making him fall silent for a moment, before turning to stare directly at Holden, allowing his gaze to follow behind the blind god when he's led off to rest. Cedric doesn't know what just happened, but whatever those kids did, if they did it to Hodr, a /God/, they could just as easily do it anyone else.
Hearing Dash inform the others to get rid of their radios, the Leprechaun must complain, "I'd be hopin' that they'd done so already after I'm warned 'em of the dangers o' having them around." There's this gravity in his expression when he looks on the awaiting crowd and them without the goods they'd promised to bring, "It's not just the radio too now either. It's them feckin' newsies, shoutin' out the news, but whatever they say just happens. Just ask out friend, Hodr about it, why don't ye. Ask him about his sight."
Colorado's head jerks up, hearing the name of his follower. "Itzil!" He springs to his feet, racing to the truck. Itchy's getting out, and Colorado grabs him, speaking to him urgently in Yiddish. Itchy shakes his head, answering him, as Colorado gets his weird six-fingered hands all over him, searching for a wound. The roustie's unharmed, but rattled. "The goddamn radio told a guy to shoot me, and he did. Logan got in the way," he says, in English, and hugs Colorado tight.
Mara Two-Feather is having a grand time with Arthur finding a beat he cnan work with and just winding down with a fellow artisan after all the crazy amount o ftime spent in New Mexico.
Kit has taken the time to professionally assemble himself, but even the wily canine's smile couldn't sell and it never reashes the flash of his golden eyes. He does, of course, have that aforementioned gun propped over his shoulder. Pockets loaded and one bolt of fabric, previously on the counter under arm, does the master of he Midway stride in silently alongside Ced. Silent. This is a new one.
Arthur's violin stills as word starts to trickle in about the incident in town. He doesn't have a radio, so it's no big loss to him, and word of the machines causing mayhem just jives with his distrust of modernity in general. "So it's begun," he states gravely to no one in particular. "New against old in truth, instead of just metaphors and machinations."
Kemen's eyes go wide with distress, "Is anyone injured? Wait, Newsies?"
"What," Sebastianus says through his teeth, setting down his mug with an audible thump. Tea sloshes out of it.
Dash's eyes widen, and he holds out a hand to Sebastianus. Sebastianus might fly into town and eat a few dozen people if he thinks something's happened to Itchy; Dash has to step on that, post-haste. "He's fine! He's fine. See?" He points to where Colorado is hugging Itchy, and Sebastianus relaxes, though not nearly as much as Dash would like. "Do not go back there, they--" he nods at Cedric, "--they can do things to you guys."
Lorraine tilts her head to the side slightly as people start talking about things happening. None of it sounds especially remarkable, really -- beings enforcing their will on mortals isn't really unheard of, after all. "I do not have a radio," she says plainly, shrugging her shoulders. "I will make sure none of mine have one either." There's a pause, and she glances at Dash, brows lifting up. "What kind of things?" She wonders.
"We do not have radios," Keme says, of his small group. Mainly because he keeps shorting them out, also because he just isn't so good with technology of any kind. He doesn't drive the truck either, leaving that to Lee. His expression is stoic as ever, unchanging as the hills, but it is clear that his attention is on those who came from town, and the news that they bring.
Brigitte's frown deepens as she listens to the reports. "They made a move," she says quietly before hitting the bottle of spiced rum she carries. "I guess this would be the stick they mentioned. Mine's bigger."
She moves over to Lorraine and Seb, waving Cedric closer. "What's this, now? Newsies? Little fuckers selling the paper? They work for 'them', do they?"
Cedric can already see the confusion coming over several faces due to the chaotic nature of their panicked words. This gives him time to take a much needed breather, looking over to his old friend, Kit while wearing a grave expression. Hearing Arthur speak, while the leprechaun doesn't want to believe it, he does have to nod, "It has. Somethin's definitely started." Noticing Brigitte waving him over, he approaches rather calm for the worry that had come over him a moment ago. "Yes. Some o' them do. After the fiasco with radio tellin' the shopkeep to shoot one of our own, one of them newspaper boys read a headline sayin' that a man was killed bein' struck by a car. Just at that moment, /I/ was almost that man. A car came veerin' over to me it did. Then the second one called out that a blind man had forgotten how he'd lost his sight." And rather than say something more, his eyes look to Hodr now.
Elene arrives from Carnival Grounds - Adult Area.
"Are any of y'all hurt?" Colorado demands, now that he's sure Itchy is in one piece. He goes over to Cedric and Kit, to check them, too. The story makes him rear back, the whites of his eyes showing, and he looks at Hodr in horror. Itchy's already opening his toolbox and starting to rip out the radio from the truck, growling to himself.
Tea forgotten, Sebastianus moves to join Brigitte, Lorraine, and Cedric, folds his arms. He glances at Colorado and Itchy again, confirming Itchy is, indeed, alright, turns his attention to Cedric and what he says, eyes narrowing. "That sounds a great deal like magic to me," he says. His gaze shifts to Holden. "Do you think it's permanent? Did they really...remove part of who he is, that easily?"
Arthur inclines his head to Cedric, and then gazes quietly toward Hodr now, his eyes -- never really human to begin with, as shining blue as a secret waterfall -- sad. "There are few pieces of us left these days, forgetting even the painful ones... lessens us." He is a keeper of old songs, and thus old memories, and thus this particular horror strikes him as particularly cruel.
Watching the fracas from his rickety wooden chair, Theodoro pours himself a glass of whiskey and sets the bottle to the dirt at his side as he watches through those thick, shaded lenses. "Been a minute since I've been able to tell somebody to hurt another -- not that it was necessary all that often -- but it's not entirely unheard of," Hypnos echoes in seeming agreement with Lorraine before turning his gaze downfield to peer Arthur's way. "Guess we're back to live music for the foreseeable," he declares indifferently.
More in curiosity than genuine concern, Theodoro's attention slowly swivels to scrutinize Holden. Taking a sip from his whiskey glass, he shrugs faintly while his roustabout follower stumps back and forth, hauling trunks and luggage to pack up the trailer.
Kit upnods to Keme letting the Bird know, first everything is fine. He speaks, the great bluster drawn out of him with a breath that can only be tired and showing his age. "Unless you can fix pride? We're fine, friend." He does a quick inventory of those gathered and nods figuring Tybalt's off looking after his boss to worry about shit so Logan doesn't have to. Well... good. More upbeat as a too-frank matter-of-fact detail he notes, "Well we got some of the supplies and at cost."
Holden has mead now and just listening until attention turns to him and Nils gives him a nudge. "What? Oh? How I went blind? I was ill, right, Nils?" He says, easily. "I had forgotten for a moment. It was strange but...I'm fine now." He smiles.
Kemen says firmly, "None of my people have radios anymore. Not after Ishtar." He raises his eyebrows at Brigitte, clearly curious. He listens to Cedric with furrowed brow, then his eyes too search out Holden. "Dia's going to eat the newsies when she finds out, isn't she." Then he notices Colorado getting that look in his eye, and he walks slowly over, practically radiating calm and the scent of melilot, nasturtium, fennel, thyme, date palm, and topsoil. He stands close, but not touching.
The muse's expression darkens by degrees. No amount of smallness or delicacy of form can camouflage how much Urania is her father's daughter in this moment, as her eyes cloud like a gathering storm. She is silent, and her teeth grind together, firmly setting her jaw. Her knees have none of the steel in her expression, and she sinks back against the table to steady herself. She grips the edges of the table, white-knuckled, with her free hand as the other raises her coffee. To stare into, rather than drink. From there, to the crowd. From the crowd, to the trucks. Toward the sky beyond the tent, then back to the coffee cup.
"We all knew they had power," Lorraine says with a nod of her head. "And with the way the world is now it was only a matter of time before they showed us that power, especially after those of us left Hollywood alone." She purses her lips thoughtfully, glancing at Cedric and nodding slowly. "I am glad you did not get run down." She offers something of a smile there, peering at Holden before muttering, "Maybe I'm going to eat them, forget Dia. Or perhaps something more traditional." She means drowning them.
Mephistopheles wanders over, catching the tail end of things. "Well that's lovely," he says with a dubious expression. "I believe they work for an avatar called Industry. The newspapers are owned by companies, media magnates. Such things fall under his domain. They aren't avatars themselves, but servants. Still, if they can make us forget what we are, that's especially troubling."
Something in the distance catches his eye and he straightens, expression going grim.
"As it should be," sniffs Arthur to Hypnos, "Since radio sounds like shit." Lorraine's suggestion of drowning makes him smile faintly: that's how he often dispatches things, too. But it's Mephistopheles' sudden watchfulness that catches his attention: his equine nature is always in tune with a herd member's swift alertness.
"I'd not stop herself if that's what she'd be wantin'." Cedric says to Kemen's comment about Dia eating a newsie Though now it seems like several folk are interested! "There's enough o' them to go around, I'd expect. So you needn't share." There's nothing lighthearted or joking about the tone he uses when he says this. "There was a moment that I was concerned that they'd start announcin' the headlines again and that we'd be in bigger trouble than what we were already in." His eyes oh Mephistopheles when he arrives, he can't help but nod, "That. Exactly. I mean, if they can wash away part of Holden's memory, makin' him forget something about himself, it makes me wonder what more they can do with words alone."
Bik wheels himself out of a shadow somewhere remotely near Holden, wearing a grim expression. His eyes go hooded when the blind god starts talking. He silently wheels himself up to sit next to him. He looks up to Lorraine and Kemen with a dark expression. "I'll skin them and dance on their hides," he remarks. "You can have what's left." His gaze shifts back to Holden, watching him intently. "Forget Agony Aunties. I'll die a straw man, if that's the way of things."
Colorado moans in terror after Hodr speaks. "He forgot why he went blind. He FORGOT!" His tone escalates. Itchy grabs him, and now he's the one talking to him in urgent Yiddish, trying to calm him. Kemen offers his soothing presence and Colorado manages not to flee, shuddering and hiding his face in Itchy's shoulder.
"Industry," Sebastianus murmurs, watching Itchy and Kemen calm Colorado. He drums his fingernails on his arms. "I wonder if we can kill an Avatar's minions. They don't sound mortal. Enslaved demons, perhaps? Hatchling Avatars, waiting to find their niches?" He follows Mephisto's gaze, brows gathering.
As word spreads that the trucks have returned from town, Elene appears on the scene, an expectant expression gracing her delicate features. A smile, even. She'd made a request for a particular item to be brought back, even slipped money into the pot for it, so it stands to reason that she's come to retrieve it. Except, there's precious little in those trucks. And it only takes a few moments' observation for her to pick up on the fact that things went wrong. Her gaze snaps toward Holden, scanning over him as if seeking reassurance that he's not injured as she starts toward him.
Keme's gaze follows that of Mephistopheles, looking out into the distance as he listens to those around them. His lips press tighter together at Colorado's escalating tone and moaning, but it's the only outward sign that he shows as to what thoughts might be going on within his mind.
Off in the distance, the road is lit by dozens of flickering lights.
"We have unexpected company coming," says Meph, straightening his collar. Indeed, it looks like a small army of angry townsfolk carrying torches on the road, with several truckloads filled with more slowly accompanying them. "I suppose we're done in this town."
"We have always been able to ... mess with one another if so inclined. I've been made to do some ..." Lorraine trails off a little as she nods at Meph and at Cedric as well, lips creasing somewhat as she notices the flickering of lights. "Oh." Her shoulders slump a little in disappointment at this happening. "Well that is unfortunate."
Kemen follows the directio of Mephistopheles's gaze and tries to work out what he's looking at. He nods, "My apologies, Bik. The problem is far bigger than I'd hoped." Very gently, he starts stroking Colordo's curls, with a hand that spells like growwing things, humming softly, but keeping out of Itchy's way. In a calm voice he says, "I think we need to load what is left now and go."
Holden is listening to the others and by the time Elene approaches, he's getting distressed. He and Nils are exchanging whispers. Finally, he says, "Wait so...it wasn't illness?" He gets to his feet and it's probably to greet Elene but he can smell the smoke and exhaust as it comes into view. "I know that combination. Nils, my bow! Artemis...help?"
"So melodramat--" Theodoro starts to sigh at Colorado over the rim of his whiskey glass from that rickety wooden folding chair alongside his trailer, and then Mephistopheles brings his attention to the torch bearers. "George?" he calls vocally, a hint of panic creeping into his tone and undermining his calculated indifference. "Are we done packing?" and he's on his feet, grabbing the chair clumsily with one hand and starting for the door before pausing to seize his bottle.
Kit reaches up and wraps his free hand not propping he rifle up to Colorado's cheek. "Look at me." He turns his head a bit and says clearly, "Gather your things. Go to your people. Gather them. We go." His head tilts to get a view of the glow on teh horizon. "Let's not expire more assets than we already have. And that done he whistles to the People, speaking in Navajo to them, "Let the winds be to our back, cousins." He starts finding his way to the vehicles murmuring his own blessing over the gathered that fortune finds them in good company. It also means he checks the gun to see if there's another shot in there he can use.
"That's the only road out," notes Brigitte. "And there's easily fifty of those hick townie bastards. We have a serious fucking problem."
The torches in the distance gets Cedric's attention as well as everyone else's now. "I'm curious as to whether this is an actual angry mob or mindless peasants influenced by the power of the avatars. Or if one of those newspaper boys just read out a headline that the Carnival in town had been lynched and strung up." Looking to the others, he murmurs, "Are we packed up and ready t'go or are we still needin' to buy some time before we plow into the lot of 'em." With their heavy carnival equipment hauling vehicles... "Either way we look at it, we'll be gonna have to forge our path out o' here."
"Oh hell," Dash says, and runs to get double-check the Sheepwagon's hitch and Shashthi's crate. "Sachin! Get the goats and hens in that trailer now! Livvie," he bangs on the sheepwagon door, "get everything tied down in there, hurry." She opens the curtains, stairs out them just a second, gets the work.
Sebastianus sighs at Mephisto. "I suppose so. Just as well we're packed." A goat bleats in annoyance as Sachin drags it into a truck bed; hens cluck irritably as they're shoved unceremonisiously into their cages. "Mostly." He makes a low sound at Cedric. "A diversion, maybe?" He looks overhead. "Too bad Sky's not at hand..." His gaze moves to Cedric again. "Perhaps I can make some noise and you can use your glamour?"
The scent reaches Colorado at the same time it reaches Holden. He squeals like a terrified horse, struggling (Itchy doesn't let him go, bracing himself, muttering, "Rado, Rado, get a grip, sweetheart,"), then Kit lays his hand to his cheek and speaks to him. It takes three people to hold the damn flighty animal down, but they manage it. Panting through his teeth, Colorado gains a little more lucidity. He nods, and stops struggling. "Okay. Let's go," he murmurs to Itchy, although his legs are shaking like a colt's. Itchy lets him go, thwaps Kit on the shoulder, and dashes off, yelling for Holly and Excellent.
The whiff of smoke on the air causes Bik's head to snap up, his attention suddenly zeroed in on those dancing yellow lights on the road. He actually hisses at them, and starts to roll his wheels backwards. He shoots a quick glance to Brigitte, then back to the road. "If that's the road out..." One of his wheels hits a stone and he stops, apparently frozen for the moment. Are his hands shaking? Nah, that's gotta be the flicker of the light, right?
Kemen's face goes slack and remarkably dead looking for about thirty seconds. Over but the dining area, Benaim's booming bass voice can be heard bellowing, "Everyone! We Evacuate now!" Then he's back, alert and present. He squeezes Colorado's shoulder, then turns to the others, "I am no use in a fight, but I will help organize here."
Under normal circumstances, Elene would likely ensure Holden's health and well-being, offer some soft-spoken comfort or condolence, then leave him in the capable hands of his new bride. Dia isn't immediately visible, though, so she lingers by the blind god's side, reaching out to place her hand on his forearm. "I'm here," she assures him quietly. A sharp look over to Marnie, who'd been slaking her thirst nearby, and the young blonde rises and scampers off to retrieve the Huntress' bow and quiver. "If I have to cut a path through those puppeted fools to get you out of here safe, I will." Already, her eyes have started to burn with rising wrath.
"We aren't remotely done," says Meph. "Most things are taken down, but hardly anything is loaded, and camp here hasn't been struck. We aren't going anywhere for a few hours at the least. That's a long time to hold them off, and we can't pack if we're fighting." He glowers at Kemen barking orders, arching a 'brow.
The pattern of the lights spilling over the hill are too familiar as she counts them out, one by one. Urania's eyes narrow further. She takes a sip of her coffee, and delicately clears her throat. In a voice dry as the Sahara, she asks, "I suppose reasoning with them is out of the question?" Because it is. Once there are torches, reason has left the building. One brow lifts, but she's already starting to perpare to rally her troops to shake some dust, when she catches Meph's words and pales, stalling out in her tracks.
"Only road out?" Lorraine says with a raised brow, glancing around. "I suppose it is." She looks up then, inclining her head and looking at the oncoming storm of people thoughtfully. She looks almost eager for the confrontation. "I guess I really should figure out where my people are," she mutters to no one in particular, returning to glancing around to try and find Maria, or Nancy, or Thomas.
"Correction, I, am packed," Sebastianus says. He looks askance at Mephisto. "Then what do you suggest? Running off into the desert on foot, anyone too slow can deal with them? Our options are to make a stand or flee into the wilderness." The later of which he's entirely capable of, though his followers would be left in the lurch, so of course he won't.
The moment Elene has taken Holden's arm, he calms. "We'll cut it together, Huntress." Because Holden helps with the teardown and he has a cult's worth of help, his and Diamanto's things are packed. His ride out is nearly ready. Nils runs up to his god and helps arm him. A longbow covered in hand carved runes and a quiver full of arrows. Nils takes his place behind Holden. His aim makes Holden's true.
The door to Management's trailer is flung open from the inside. With Mephistopheles out among the group, people probably expect to see Chiva emerge as he's the only other one known to come and go from it. But it's not.
Out stalks a tall, willowy woman as pale as bone, her hair long and thick and golden white. She wears robes of red and gold. She can be heard muttering the language of the slaves of ancient Egypt, Itchy recognizes it instantly. Mephistopheles looks startled, quickly scurrying towards her.
Arthur heads off to find his herd, opening the doors to their trailer so that both horses emerge freely, ready to bolt off into the desert. Bianca, his silver koi, will simply have to wait in her tank.
Kit sits very quiet and finally asks, "Who we got rested up good at illusions? We cna take some of us good at movin swift, head into teh outlying area an try to draw em that way. Now..." He considers this and his fellow 'imortal retirees' and admits, "it's not a fantastic plan, but-" He turns and eyes go wide. Not a lot catches him by surprise, this? This is different.
Keme rises from his seat with the patience of the ages. He motions to two of his people and says, "Find Lee. Keep loading." He then turns to the others and seems about to say something when the white haired woman appears from within the trailer, and his lips press together once more, holding whatever it was that he was about to say at bay, the first flicker of an expression that crosses his face -- surprise.
The muse knows that face, recognizes that voice. Stopping dead in her tracks, Urania stares. Some part of her wanted it to just be a dream. If the torches didn't convince her otherwise, this moment surely does. All the color drains from her face, and she trembles visibly.
Kemen glances at Bik. "There is space in my trailer if you have no enclosed ride." He rolls his eyes at Meph, "I have many hands. It is more useful than me standing around in the way, yes? We need to secure the big cats, and stow some bedrolls, but we are ready and can pitch in loading everything else....Oh!" He blinks slowly several times at the unexpected appearance of the much speculated about management.
Turning to look at Sebastianus, hearing the man out before resettling his gaze on the incoming mob, he nods, "I've got me limits, but I'll see what I can do." Looks like Kit wants in on the action as well, "We've got to hold them off for a while now, so the best thing to do is send them packing and hopefully they won't have the courage to return." That's when the doors to one particular trailer open. Mephisto was out here. The woman he emerges is not someone he's familiar with, but something tells him that he knows just who this is.
"I'll let 'em chase me," Colorado says, his face white as the moon. "They'll never catch me." When Management's door opens, he startles, and then stares at the tall woman who emerges. His followers come up behind him, all three staring, too.
Itchy's startled as hell, hearing the woman speak. "It's Hebrew. Management's Jewish?"
After feebly tossing his chair up to George and then getting hauled by his hand up the stairs, Theodoro starts to announce, "I'll be hiding in my armoire until you're all quite fin--" and then he trails off to stare at the appearance of an unfamiliar woman -- from Management's trailer. While he gawks, George brushes past him down the stairs with a baseball bat.
Lorraine maybe catches a glimpse of her people, because she makes a gesture and then turns about to stand with the others, glancing back and forth to see what plans people are coming up with. She turns to face Theodoro and arches her brows, her mouth opening as though to say something but she catches his gaze and turns to see that woman coming from the trailer. Huh!
Sebastianus watches the woman emerge from the trailer, listens to her speak. "Ah..." he says, voice low. "I see." He licks his lips. "Well then." He looks askance at Gran, checking her for a reaction. Did she know this was Management?
Elene stands taller, her muscles singing with the tension that comes before a hunt. Glorious. Her smile carries a feral edge, the tips of her canines bared as she watches the bobbing golden lights of those torches growing nearer. There will be no retreat, not for her. And with the knowledge that combat is inevitable, her focus becomes unfettered by such things as trying to come up with alternatives. She's eager. Ready. Her free hand clenches into a fist, as she awaits her cultist's return with her bow.
But all that focus is quickly shattered when Management's trailer door flies open wide, and the unknown woman steps out. Blinking, the Huntress swivels her head in that direction, stares in confused silence. A brief glance is cast toward Brigitte, toward Meph, but then she's back to watching.. her.
"You risk too much, Lady," says Meph as he nears her, but she appears to ignore him, still chanting under her breath as she strides with purpose. He keeps talking, following her. "We knew there would be conflict. Casualties. Let us fend them off. This is too dangerous to attempt." Where she seems to be headed at first is in the direction of the mob, but it's not. It's the very center of the carnival grounds, where the big top stood only hours ago.
Every city, every stop the carnival is set up exactly thee same way. Most figure it's because familiarity gives a sense of home wherever they may be, but things are laid out exactly the same and some of it has never made total sense. For instance, the six lanterns that are set on posts in a circle that outlines the grounds. Each one is placed exactly the same distance apart. The crew assume this design comes from Mephistopheles, but he didn't create it.
Who did and why becomes apparent when the woman reaches the exact center of the grounds, hand glowing, and slams it down into the dirt. Golden light streaks out like veins of gold in the ground to each post, lighting the lanterns, then making a ring. A six pointed star in a circle glows through the camp ground, circled in. The world and everything beyond it spins and distorts suddenly.
Holden is oblivious until Nils whispers in his ear. Holden squawks out a "What?!" before things get really intense and he gets the spins.
A shrug. Brigitte has no idea what the fuck is going on, or who the woman is. She watches with as much curiosity as everyone else.
And then the world spins.
She lands in the dirt on her ass, completely caught off guard. She blinks in a daze, shaking her head as if to clear it.
Kit sticks to the shadows and counts the ammo by feel glancing only occasion. No, Kit's attention is on Her. He murmurs to Cedric, "A'ight. I got five shots in here. If we stick to teh sh...ade... where in blazes She goin?" And then it happens and everything turns. THe world spins and he crouches low, feral and all fours for the while trying to keep low as resourceful people who don't want to fly off the damn map do... and scardy cats. Them too. They're sensible!
As if the Hebrew wasn't enough, that six-pointed star confirms it--this is some Hebrew god...dess. "Who is she?" Holly says to Itchy, her eyes wide.
"The worst part is, I dunno," Itchy says, a complex mix of emotions in his tone. "Maybe...maybe..." He doesn't want to risk guessing wrong. Knowing that he doesn't know who she is means that she's very, very old and very, very forgotten. "She's gonna protect us," he whispers. The world spins, and everybody falls.
It takes him a few seconds -- the curiosity and suspense over the identity of Management, if there even is a Management, had been building for years -- but Theodoro eventually manages to ease the astonished look on his face back into a wry smirk, turns, and remarks to Lorraine: "We can't all wrestle alligators. You're more than welcome to come share my armoire if you get bored, though." Just when he starts to bat his eyelashes at her flirtatiously, the world around them becomes a tilt-a-whirl. He staggers where he stands on the stairs, and then he falls flat on his face in the dirt.
Urania reels like the rest as reality warps around the lot of them, spinning as though the whole of the carnival were riding a carousel out of control. The reel completely disrupts every trace of her equilibrium, and she turns once, tripping over her own feet in an attempt to stave off the vertigo, before even her dancer's reflexes can't save her from starting to trip-twirl-twist-trip in what almost seems another lovely little dance while drunk out of her wits before she pitches down into the dust.
"Face down the angry mob or come share a tight space with you, this is the choice of a lifetime," Lorraine muses distractedly to Theodoro, her own lips creasing in a bit of a smirk but she's got her eyes locked on that woman as she moves, vaguely listening to what other people have to say about the woman who is, presumably, Management. Then the light shines and the world distorts and spins. She's not really sure exactly when she fell, or how she ended up down in the dirt. Ugh!
Bik glances up at Kemen, grim and pale faced. "Nuh uh. Nuh-uh nope... They'll burn it all and us inside, and no way out..." He grimaces and starts to chew on the side of his thumb, just in time for everything to start whirling. He doesn't fall, but he /does/ grab at the arms of his chair and looks around with wide eyes, trying to get some bead on what's happening.
Keme is a fairly solid individual and steady on his feet at the worst of times, but when the world spins, even he staggers a bit and reaches out a hand to rest it against the side of the truck for balance. His gaze narrows as he regains his balance and his ability to see clearly once the world stops spinning around them.
When She moves, Cedric follows at a pace, keeping his distance, observing as to where the woman walks, curious as to what she expected to do. Or what she expected all of them to do. This ritual that she performs intrigues him, but once those lanterns burn brightly, every single of one them, this strong sense of disorientation takes over. He'd wished he'd taken a seat or taken a stance somewhere that there was something to grab onto. Instead, as with the others, he staggers in place, before collapsing down to his knees a hand pressed against the side of his head at his temple. "What was..." He murmurs just as he peers out at the world through narrowed eyes.
The stars overhead have shifted slightly along with the moon, the temperature has dropped from hot to vaguely cool, and the desert is gone. When the world beyond the circle, beyond the carnival grounds stops spinning, they find themselves in a meadow somewhere in the Great Lakes region, judging by terrain and climate. Dirt and dust? Gone. Now it's wild grass. No angry mob in the distance, just a town.
The entire carnival just moved across the continent in seconds.
Sebastianus stares at the star, the distoration, everything the woman is doing. Olivia slowly comes out of the Sheepwagon, eyes wide; Dash and Sachin stop what they're doing, unable to move for the spectable they're witnessing. Dash pulls off his hat.
Sebastianus sways, catches himself on the edge of a table. His eyes go to his followers--they're present, and okay, if struggling to stay standing.
Kemen's knowlege of Hebrew comes from the long diaspora in Alexandria, so it is not exactly up to date accent wise, but he raises his eyebrows further at tthe language and Itchy's comment. Then he's murmuring to Colorado. "Better if we stick together and get lots of metal and weapons between you and them, Sweet. Better to stay with your people in case they need defending, yes?" As the world begins to spin, he really does try to grab hold of the already panicky unicorn, and clings. He makes an astonished "Oh" soundsas the stars shift. Then his lips curl up in delight, "That's new."
Itchy realizes the answer as the Carnival flickers into a new place and a new time. "Shekinah!" He cries out Her name from where he's sprawled on the ground.
Holden reacts quickly to the change of location. It's all different. Smells, the feel of the air and what excites him the most is the grass in his hands. He had fallen when the world seemed to tilt. Now, he's clinging to the grass and laughing like a madman. "Nils! Where are we?!" Nils mumbles a stunned negative. "Whatever. Find out. Find the Children and Find Dia and Baldr! Go! Now!" Holden flops down in the grass. So, so glad to have it.
ROLL Hypnos rolls 3d8 for: : x1 : x1 : x1 -- Match Value: 0 (Raw: 5 6 2 -- d8)
On realizing that they are no longer in the desert anymore and that the entire carnival had moved magically to somewhere far more tranquil and lush, Cedric takes this moment to take in the natural beauty of this place all the while trying to make out just how they got here. The first thing he checks for is that angry mob, but there's none to be seen. They were safe. Or so it felt.
"I'm takin' a gander and sayin' that whatever just happened is saved for emergency purposes only?" Yes, despite the world spinning, it was a far better and faster way to travel than driving along dusty roads. He looks to Mephisto now to ask, "Where do you think we are now?" As if the man would know!
Were the indignity of falling on his face and starting to come up with a mouthful of grass not bad enough, Theodoro expels the wind in his lungs all in one gasp and then chases it with a low, airless groan of discomfort when the roustie, George, done no service by his hobbled leg, falls right after and lands on top of him. "Get off!" he grunts in complaint, once he's managed to suck down air. George slowly obliges, leaving Hypnos to stew in his discomfort in the grass.
Falling over onto her back, the muse looks up. Looks up and sees first an entirely different sky, different stars, grass beneath her hair, tickling at her limbs. Immediately, Urania pushes herself up best she can, and scans the crowd in search of the woman. She's on her feet almost instantly, and no matter how she might stumble, she heads through the crowd and toward the place where she saw Her go.
Elene toppled like the rest, which had her snarling, initially. Her blood still burns with wrathful purpose, and for one such as she to stumble before the hunt had even begun is.. an irritant. And not a mild one. Squeezing her eyes closed, she digs her fingers into the earth, preparing to rise and go to battle.
But the earth is.. soft. Not like the sandy terrain they'd just been in, no -- this is cool, and moist, and fragrant with life. Blades of grass tickle at her wrists, and a breeze ruffles through her hair in a sweet caress. Her eyes snap open again, her head rising as she stares around them in awe.
Rendering a goddess awestruck is not something that happens often.
Sebastianus slowly climbs to his feet from an undignified sprawl next to the table. Olivia and Sachin are seeing to Dash, who passed out. "He's fine," Olivia assures Sebastianus when he stares hard at Dash. He calms down, moves to get a look at the woman who's done this amazing thing.
Mephistopheles kneels, holding the collapsed woman in red and gold. She's motionless in his arms, pale blue eyes now closed. "You got lucky," he says to her with a bitter smile. "What were you thinking? You weren't, not about yourself, as usual. We're going to have a long talk when you come around."
He looks up at Itchy calling that name, gaze narrowing a bit. His jaw tightens. He says nothing.
Holden's question gets answered, though. "Paradise, Michigan."
Colorado surges to his feet as a unicorn. Excellent's up already, helping Holly, and Itchy...he scrambles towards Meph and the woman. He flinches at the look Meph gives him. Oh, that probably means more latrine-digging duty. But he begins to speak to Her in Hebrew, anyway, telling her, even though she can't hear, that she's not forgotten.
Making his way through the grassy meadow, Cedric tries not to mill around and stare at the woman in Mephistopheles' arms. Management. Lifting his shoulders before rotating one side back into light stretch, he doesn't want to interrupt this one-sided conversation between the boss and his boss, but something makes him inquire, "We're here to stay then? I Paradise?" This definitely wasn't the next stop on the circuit, not at this distance. Though if the answer is yes, he looks ready to tell everyone to stop packing.
Lorraine seems pretty happy to just remain lying in the grass now. She does shift a littler, staring across the way. "Well, that is one way to deal with an angry mob," she murmurs. Naturally, with the danger passed, her own people are now advancing and coming to her side. It does cause her to at least rise to her knees. Nancy and Thomas look mildly concerned with what just happened, Maria is wide eyed and grave looking. "Paradise," Lorraine says in echo of Meph's words. Then her gaze drifts over towards Meph and the fallen woman -- staring thoughtfully before glancing sidelong at Theodoro.
Kemen rises, grass stained, but still graceful and puts his arms around the unicorn's neck, humming softly again. "Is anyone injured?"
She may not be much, but Urania still approaches Meph and the woman he carries, her eyes overfull of worry. "If I can help?" She's still shaking. Some things are easier to accept when they only exist in dreams, and the woman was one of them, until now. Her waking world solidity rattles the muse on a level she can't articulate, as it confirms too many other, far more dire, truths as well.
Once George has finished crushing him into the grass, Theodoro slowly pushes himself up -- at least enough to clear his head from the green blades of grass surrounding his body -- and twists his head with an expression that's equal parts irritation, pain, and amusement at his own poor luck until he catches Lorraine's eye. Lifting his whiskey glass, he squints at it long enough to ascertain that a finger's width of amber fluid managed to evade spilling during his tumble, lifts it in a half-hearted toast towards the woman, then brings it to his lips to down. "Paradise," he echoes half-comprehendingly, before catching sight of Management's condition which elicits a sympathetic wince.
"We're here for now, yes," says Meph, scooping up the woman and rising to his feet. "Start setting back up. Summer circuit starts now." Summer circuit means the North and East, avoiding the heat of the region they just left. If they stick to it, they'll arrive in the South by Fall.
He begins to carry her to their trailer, shaking his head at offers of help. "She needs rest. Uninterrupted rest, so no knocking or bothering her. Leave her be."
Brigitte watches from where she sits in the grass, resting back on her elbows now. "At least it's not too hot for fucking anymore."
"Ah, yes," Sebastianus says, and takes in a deep breath. "Can you smell it?" he says to Lorraine, and hifts, taking on his manticore shape. Another great deep breath. "The lake," he rumbles, voice rolling out heavy and low. 'Lake' he says, but Lake Superior is effectively an inland sea, and after the heat and dust and sand of Colorado and New Mexico, the cool, humid air of the north is its own delight.
He chuckles at Gran. "No indeed," he says. What he wants to do, is go fly--swim in the lake, maybe catch a fish or three, stalk through the forests.
It will have to wait. He moves to his followers, licks Dash, who makes a startled sound and flails awake. "Stop, stop, I'm up! Oh God don't!"
Keme watches in silence, studying their surroundings, and then Mephisto and the woman carefully. But when it is declared that this is where they will be setting up, he nods his head once and makes his way over to the truck, to tell his people that it is time to go back to work. For his part, the Thunderbird crackles with electricty and then launches into the air, making a slow circuit of their surroundings, taking them in, perhaps scouting out the roads in and out of town. Best to be prepared, just in case.
Kit is a hard act to find. It's Inali making that high pitched little whine of hers that gives the old man away. They are transplanted, transposed from points on the map, and entirely not where he left the shade. She runs in a circle a few times watching the under part of Callie's trailer and jsut parks her butt, watches, and then just lies down there and stares.
Seeing Theodoro struggle to pull himself up, Cedric is more than happy to volunteer to Kemen, "Hypnos often needs all the help that he can get. You may want to be checkin' himself out."
Though once the orders are given, the bally is prepared to get back into action, "Ye all heard the boss. It's time to unpack and start settin' up again. I know that we weren't even finished packin' it all in, but it is what it is." As others echo the name of this place, Paradise, playing that back within his mind does give him some hope that they are far away from what they encountered in Truth or Consequences. I mean, no in Paradise owns a radio, right?
So many questions, all roiling together in a chaotic tempest within her mind. Cedric's voiced query is good, for a start. Elene rises slowly to her feet, distracted only briefly by the call of a Night-Heron before her gaze settles firm upon Meph and the woman. Lips part, as though to allow another question past now that the first has been answered, but he's walking off to the trailer, and Marnie chooses just that moment to stumble up to her with the bow.
Sighing, Elene waves the woman off. "Not needed anymore. Tell everyone to start unpacking again, if you would." A splash of color amidst shadow catches her eye, and she walks over to some brush, bending low to nip a tiger lily's bloom from its stem. And, smiling, she returns to Holden, tucking the blossom behind his left ear. "I need to run. You're all right?"
It is not like Oh ever has much to pack up, given that he has very few belongings. The Serpent was dozing, curled up somewhere, and now he is standing up and wandering around, bewildered, peering. He rubs the back of his neck.
Colorado nuzzles into Kemen's neck. His flanks twitch and shiver, his tail clamped to his hindquarters. "Thank you," he mumbles. Holly winces and huffs in pain; she wrenched her knee when she fell. Colorado dips his horn to her, and she sets her hand on it with a sigh. Excellent is made of rubber and she's fine. Itchy sort of collapses back on his butt, his eyes locked on Management's trailer. Excellent goes over to him and sits down in the grass with him.
Kemen's expression goes dead and empty for a minute, and in the distance, Benaim and Aya start organizing his followers for set up. Then he is pressing his forehead and nose to the unicorn's cheek, "I think the land will be kinder here than it's been." He smiles like sun on leaves, "I am glad you stayed." He snorts at Brigitte, "It is never too hot for fucking." He nods once to Cedric and releasing the unicorn he approaches Hypnos, "Do you need help? Does anything hurt?"
Holden was rolling in the grass like a happy dog. He missed it, apparently. Elene's approach and flower behind the ear makes him smile like she's never seen. Easy. Unburdened. "Yeah. Nils is somewhere. The people here got me. Thank you, Huntress." He takes her arm and kisses her wrist. "Enjoy Paradise."
"Still on about that?" Theodoro sighs from the ground at Cedric after he's emptied his glass, turning onto his back to give George an aggrieved stare until the burly man offers his boss his meaty hand and bodily hauls him to his feet.
After dusting himself off, Hypnos leans down to retrieve his bottle with a huff. "I guess we're unpacking, George," he informs the larger man with a hint of apology. "Ask David to give you a hand, if you need it."
With a turn, the god eyes Kemen appraisingly before offering a thin smile and a shake of his head. "Everything hurts. But I'll live. Until I don't. I'm quite fine."
"My thoughts exactly!" Lorraine beams a smile at Brigitte there, grinning just briefly as she finally puls herself up to her feet and makes a vague effort at dusting herself off. There's a lot she would like to do as well. "Oh, the lake!" She's suddenly rather excited at the prospect of a real decent body of water being avaiable. It's no river, but it's something!
Once reasonably sure that the pale woman that saved them is well in hand, Urania simply crumples to her knees in the grass, right there. New stars to learn.
Kemen nods, "I am well familiar with wounds that can not be healed. I am sorry." With a small bow he goes to check on Urania, gently touching her shoulder, "Are you all right? Can I get you anything?"