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Forums » General Roleplay » Summer Soiree: A Midsummer Murder [Closed!]

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Jjce9V5.pngOnce again it is time for the summer Cawnival! Fledglings gathered around the decorated tree chirping excitedly about the games they plan to play and the prizes they intend to get with their earned tickets. Each little crow wore their own feathery accouterment, a smarmy red ascot for the clever Ava and her twin brother Russel, and a leafy green stole for the reserved Hermia and her more vibrant sibling, Nick. But the most impressive of the Corvidae brood was that of the Cawnival's very own host, Corvus Goodfeather. He was quite dapper in his large plumed top hat, radiant golden vest, and frock coat. Corvus was there to greet all newcomers to the Cawnival, the perfect guide in a less than perfect environ...

It begins with the Postern, the crackling, writhing thorny vines twist and wriggle about the two columns ominously. The once empty space was suddenly filled with supernatural energy swirling in a purplish spiral. It was yet again open to the public. The Constant was looking for fresh, new faces. For anyone who dared enter, interlopers would notice the nigh unbearable heat, the sounds of distant carnival games, and the aroma of traditional fair fare.

Upon entry, denizens of the Constant would immediately take note of a large wooden sign some few feet away from a pair of strangely intricate terracotta statues of what appeared to be massive canines. The splintered front of said sign inscribed with a heavy hand was quite possibly the only rule set for the Cawnival: No Lazy Foragers Beyond This Point!

CDw4aYm.pngAmongst the merry murder was a couple of the feather-free folk, as Ava would refer to them; Wilson P. Higgsbury, gentleman scientist, accompanied by his silent cohort Wes, the mime. The pair were more than taking advantage of their festive mood. One would have to in an unforgiving place such as the Constant. And yet games they would play, food they would partake, dances they would perform, and prizes they would win nevertheless.

Despite the sweltering temperatures, strewn about the Cawnival were cooling endothermic firepits. The pop and snap of both glitter and streamer canons sounded all around patrons as both Corvidae and Survivor tried their mettle against the various and sundry games.

"Have you seen that lady that watches the Cawnival at night?" inquired Nick eagerly to anyone who would listen. "Squawk about creepy..."

JIcPBxC.png The Cawvinal was likely a cover, or perhaps a way for those knowing their ill-fated doom to distract themselves from their rumbling bellies and fragile minds. The Cawnival was more than likely to leave anyone passing through with a brighter mindset, sticky handfuls of candy lice, some questionable powder cakes, and perhaps even a mysterious box.

There was an expectant air in the blazing hot breeze as the Postern gave a clamorous jolt. It was yet another newcomer, one who was unfamiliar with the Constant's particular disregard for those struggling in its midst. This particular outsider would be marked safe. Well, safe unless certain circumstances were met. The particulars for this were not a well-kept secret, but the survivors could only hope for the best in keeping the wanderers away from marked candidacy.

"There's been a mysterious murder here," Hermia chirped up at the entrant. "And with any luck, we'll be back again next year! Caw, caw, caw!"

"That's enough of that," Wilson chimed in. "You'll scare them away before they even get the opportunity to try the Egg Scrambler!"

Accompanied by his fellow Survivor, Wes, Wilson would meander alongside fair-goers in an effort to keep the things that go bump in the night at bay. There was no sense in making others worry over the things that were daily life for them...

❝Welcome to the Cawnival!❞ crowed Corvus Goodfeather.

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[ Hopefully, I'm not too late! Anyone is welcome though those of you with the misfortune of having your name begin with a 'W', do be careful! ]
Xailah Alptraum (played anonymously)

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Interacting with Wilson and Wes.

{I know I'm sliding up right at the deadline, but it is a crime no one has posted here. I'm not well-versed with the DST lore, but I am familiar with the games themselves. If there is anything here that conflicts with the lore/setting let me know and I will be happy to make changes!}


The heat was almost as unforgiving as the wilds here; it beamed in intense swathes, wilting anything unfortunate enough to find itself caught in the searing touch. There was truly nothing worse than a dry heat- a sentiment most could attest to. Well, a sentiment anyone who wasn't completely off their rocker, or had the benefit of thriving in desert climates could attest to.

Unfortunately for our world hoppers, they lacked both mercies. And thus, they were forced to battle through what remained of the day, and the residual heat that followed with it. The shade provided by a hijacked merchants caravan was the only thing keeping the unusual duo- Xailah and Schrödinger of Haus Alptraum- from unleashing meaningless, fever-induced obscenities upon each other. It didn't help that they were already frustrated- there had been a misunderstanding between the two that had lead them and their little wagon in circles- the heat was just another thing to make their hairs prickle in a pattern of aggravation. "I should have never listened to you when you said to turn left at that tree a mile back." Xailah groaned into her palm, before splaying the caravan curtains to sneak a peek outside.

"I am certain we have passed that rock three times now." She droned. The drapes were snapped shut in an instant, dissatisfied with the predicament she and her companion had gotten themselves in. "Said turn right." Schrödinger muttered sappily from a spot on a cushion he was practically plastered to. He rolled onto his back in a miserable display of defeat.

"You did not say right, you said left. And now look where we are, we-" Chrrrrrunk! A sudden bump from something getting caught beneath wagon wheels would cut her off. The caravan pulled to a quiet halt. "Oh, look at what has happened now! You better start praying to Nimune; because if I find out we broke a wheel, I am going to turn you into a pair of boots." Xailah snapped, to which the grey feline rolled his eyes in response; he was far too overheated to care enough to fight.

Sounds could be heard just outside the wagon- music, laughter, the occasional corvid caw- the cryptid found this unusual, and opened the blinds just a splinter to see what was waiting for her and her friend. Civilization- or at the very least, fragments of it. Xailah reached for a rectangular cubby located above her head, from which she produced a pair of binoculars. She brought the field glasses up to her face, to get a better look at what she was witnessing. By the looks of it, there was a small carny plastered against the sepia hellscape. Xailah offered the binoculars to her companion for him to take a look; an extra set of eyes would help confirm what she had seen wasn't a bout of delirium caused from the heat.

Schrödinger stared for a long while, before lowering the spectacles and looking up to his mistress with a crimped brow. "Party?" He asked, audibly confused by his observations.

"A carnival," Xailah corrected, "I think." She folded up the binoculars and stored them away for safe keeping. "Which means now would be a perfect opportunity to stretch our legs." Or check things out... maybe pickpocket a poor sod or two... or you know, enjoy the festivities. She'd take any of those options- whatever would distract from the weather the best. Checking on the caravan could wait for the time being.

Having equipped herself with a parasol and a folding fan, Xailah exited her temporary relief from the sun; helping her feline friend out too, as she did so. Venturing onto the carnival grounds, the two of them were immediately met with a number of strange smells (most of which were food, so Schrödinger instantly identified), some which were accompanied by the unusual odor of feather dust and perfumes. It didn't take long to find out why those smells were mixed in with the warmth of the carny scents, for no sooner had they noticed them, a booming greeting from an unusually large bird would give the duo a good jolt. Not used to seeing his prey animals larger than he was, Schrödinger cast an anxious glance at the feathered creature, and scuttled behind his lady for some sense of cover. Xailah on the other hand, smiled gently at the dapper birdman, bowing her head as she passed by him.

The more the pair looked around, the more birds they saw- and dressed to the nines they all were. One was heard cawing about a murder (oh my!), right when a man- a human man by the looks of it- quieted the avian down with passing mention of a egg scrambler, before he wandered off with another fellow in tow. Of course, the cryptid's mind immediately went to actual murder, and the thrill of discovery... not a clever play on words.

Intrigued, Xailah and Schrödinger began following the men; squeezing snakishly between partygoers and bird-folk alike, in hopes to catch up with the two males. The she-cat would call out to them when in earshot. "Excuse me, sir, and ah- sir," She said, slinking over to the gentlemen with a urbane glide. "I couldn't help but overhear the conversation you were having with that lovely avian lady, what is all this talk about a murder? And an egg scrambler?"

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Wilson P. Higgsbury (played by Atheist) Topic Starter

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[ You did immaculately and your post is absolutely lovely! The lore is pretty flexible, so you're in luck, and I love any opportunity to goof off with it myself. Thank you for giving my thread a chance before the deadline. I know it's a fandom thing, but DST is so versatile and so many people create their own characters for it, so I greatly appreciate the post! Now onward! ]

A pair of crows chirruped and cawed merrily as the two meandered through the Cawnival from their caravan and made their way toward the survivors. Hermia and Nick brushed past Xailah and Schrödinger, their plumage fluttering noisily as they skittered on taloned feet.

"Hurry," cawed Nick. "Hurry, hurry, the featherfree are about to start playing again! Let's watch and see how many tickets they can get. I'll bet they never beat Ava's score."

"No one can beat Ava's score," the little corvid replied saucily.

When both cat and Eldritch Abomination managed to advance successfully through the throngs of chattering people and reach the two wandering fairgoers, they were met with matching expressions of surprise. Wilson then smiled vaguely at them while Wes rubbed exaggeratedly at his painted eyes, gawking at the sharp-looking feline clad in his aristocratic cravat and dashing blazer.

"The only murder you'll be seeing around here is your -- " Wilson felt a sudden jab to his ribs. "Ooaaugh!" Wes gave him a pointed look. "Yoouuur friendly neighborhood crows, of course. You're not from around here, huh?"
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Wes gave a wide variety of gestures, motioning erratically, shifting his weight, and speaking through his silence in the only way he could muster. It was as if he were trying to tell them something with a great sense of urgency, but everything was urgent to Wes as the newcomers will soon come to find out. He swiped at the air with a gloved hand, a universal sign for, 'follow me.'

"I suppose if you're curious to know what the Egg Scambler is, we could certainly show you," Wilson translated sheepishly.

The slender, tired-looking scientist led the otherworldly travelers toward the center of the carnival, the cacophony of cheering victories, caviling losses, and satisfied chitchat between the sounds of munching and laughter resounded around them. Once they made their way beyond the endothermic firepits, pausing only briefly to enjoy the cooling sensation of its frigid flames, they found themselves at the epicenter of carnival games.

Perched atop a gnarled tree, decorated with clear baubles that lit up like stars in the night sky, was a large, mechanical bird. It appeared to be sleeping with closed wings of metallic feathers tinged leafy green in color and massive talons clinging to the extended branches.

Wilson motioned up at the bionic crow and beamed. "Behold, the Egg Scrambler! Would you like to play?"

Wes nudged him slightly, a guilty expression on his face before pulling out his pockets to unveil nothing more than a spot of lint, a bit of string, and two red rubber balloons.

"Oh don't worry about that," Wilson said dismissively, giving the strangers a reassuring grin. "I've got plenty of tokens and you are more than welcome to use as many as you'd like. I'm Wilson P. Higgsbury, by the by! At your service." He dipped into a deep bow. "And my silent cohort here is Wes. He's a quiet sort, kind of useless, but still very friendly."

7VK06I5.pngThe mime furrowed his brow at the other but knew it to be all too true. He shrugged, accepting his fate, and with the finesse of a perfect showman, whipped together two fantastic balloons for the guests. A bouncing green spider, and a jovially bobbing butterfly for the lady. He presented them with a haphazard flourish as was his comedic charm.

"Very pleased to make your acquaintance! If need be, we can provide you a demonstration," Wilson stated, once the introductions were made. "You have to get the eggs back to the mother, but watch out, they will run from you because they're ornery little things!"

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Xailah Alptraum (played anonymously)

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{Thank you, I appreciate that! I've admittedly always been hesitant about fandom things since I know they can be special to people, but knowing DST has some flexibility with the setting is reassuring. And of course, this thread was so well put together, I couldn't resist! 😩🤌 You have quite a way with words!}

It was not uncommon for the duo to feel like fishes out of water. It was a sentiment that was ever-familiar, seeing as something was often new to them. The movement and energy of the carny were one they were familiar enough with, and yet, there was still an undeniably foreign and unsettling quality to the whole event that neither cat nor keeper could readily pinpoint to a main source. As they navigated through the swell of laughter and various joyful sounds from carnival activities, they noticed a few of the feather-folk had started to flock in the direction of some people of interest. They shuffled by; their ink-black feathers rustling in the hazy summer air as they urgently chattered away.

Was it weird to stop strangers and inquire about murder? Yes. Was it weird to be intrigued by the concept to begin with? Absolutely. Maybe both things considered were the cause for the surprised looks the feline duo received. Then again, such receptions weren't exactly out of the ordinary for either of them. Xailah greeted both with a demure half-smile; however, Schrödinger was far less receptive to the game of gawking he had been dragged into; evident as he slunk behind the hem of his mistress' skirt in an attempt to avoid the Weird Painted Fellow's stare.

The cat wasn't all that sure why his keeper had gone up to these gentlemen in the first place. He could only hope whatever she was up to would come to a speedy conclusion.

Disappointment was imminent as the wickedly groomed man (yes, that hair combed into the vague shape of a 'W' was wicked) provided an answer to Xailah's inquiry on murder. Not that there had actually been hope of one- oh no, it was the thrill of discovery that had initially caught the entity's attention; the desire to find out. It was a kick that would go unsatiated for the time being. "Crows? Ah, I get it. How very clever." While disappointment was prominent in her tone, she still took on an amused lilt having caught the play on words.

...Hopefully, it was a play on words.

The sudden jab from the mime man issued to his friend(?), resulting in a sudden correction, certainly summoned a need for questions.

Yet none pertaining to the odd gesture, or concept of murder, would arise. Instead, the conversation would take a different detour.

Xailah flicked open the decorated fan she had been holding in her free hand (the one that hadn't been subjected to twirling a parasol), with which she fanned herself lightly. A light curl began to favor one side of her face, with the black-haired man's observation and conclusion: the felid travelers were not familiar to the area. "Oh? How ever did you come to that conclusion? Is it that obvious?" She knew it was probably obvious. Her burning curiosity for all things and dismissive excitement for the unknown, was usually a dead giveaway. As for Schrödinger... well, most people knew that cats didn't typically wear suits.

As if then trying to determine for herself whether or not these strangers fit in with the surrounding festival-goers; Xailah shamelessly checked both men out as a means to gain visual information. She peered at them from the ruffled top of her fan, her golden hues flitting curiously. Well-groomed and quirky, yet also tired-looking and gangly. Both are odd, but in different ways. One smells of intellect and the drifting remnants of a ravenous sea; the other carries the scent of greasepaint and rubber. Something about the chattier of the two threw the darkling off in a way that was unplaceable, whereas the silent one was taken in easily and endearingly.

Neither exactly belong here, do they?

Satisfied enough with what she could collect from her study, Xailah steadied her attention. "And here I thought we were doing a splendid job of blending in with the denizen." She mused, chancing a sly glance down at her feline chaperone.

The catty pair followed the mime's hands as he coaxed his company through- what looked to be- a strange game of charades. Any other time, the duo would have thought themselves good at the sport, but whatever this quiet fellow was trying to communicate was... very lost on them, to say the least. They issued quiet, synchronized blinks in regards to the show, occasionally nodding (but definitely not as a gesture of understanding) at each urgent signal.

Fortunately, the less quiet man was willing to provide a translation. "If you two wouldn't mind, we would appreciate that very much," she nodded with a chirp. Then, leaning to the mime's apparent translator, she whispered to him with an air of amusement (having been greatly humored by both the silent display and later decryption), before following his lead. "You understood all of that? Remarkable."

Allowing themselves to be kited through the lively bustle of the festivities, there were some things that the pair would notice that they hadn't paid much mind to before; such as the sharp snaps from festival-goers playing with toys that rained glitter when popped (and admittedly spooked Schrödinger enough to make him go puffy), and the weird structures that looked like firepits, but did not emit heat like one.

It was the latter of these observations that would be questioned, as the group momentarily paused at one before continuing on their way. "It is not warm? What enables it to produce a cooling sensation?"

Oh, but that would only be the beginning of wonder... and perhaps a slew of annoying questions. The glitter canons and games, the cooling firepits, the unusual carny hosts- those were just appetizers leading up to the main course. The real curiosity would be what was waiting at the core of the carnival: the Egg Scrambler.

Wilson lead the group to it as he said he would. The thing was magnificent as it stood erect, like a morbid mechanical totem at the center of the festivities. Like many of the other bird-themed things spotted around the carnival, Schrödinger found this massive metal effigy to be quite intimidating; it gave him the uncharacteristic urge to shrink into his clothes, much like an ungainly turtle. His lady, Xailah, was clearly of a contrasting mindset, as her eyes instantly went alight with a hungry, shimmering fascination. "What a beautiful mechanism!" The cryptid exclaimed, to which Schrödinger shook his head in disagreement. "How do you suppose it works on a mechanical level?" She asked, turning to the chattier of the two men- since he appeared to be the one with the answers here.

The offer to play the game received a suspicious, albeit cautious, look. The mimes token worries were swiftly dismissed by his counterpart; with an assurance that he had plenty tokens to go around. "My friend and I would love to give the game a go, but-" Xailah's brows skewed into pensive squiggles, "-are you certain you do not mind sharing your tokens? Would you like anything in return? Or, you know, if you can point us in the right direction we can retrieve some for ourselves."

Any hesitance produced by the offer was quickly done away with as the vested man provided his name. Ah, right. Introductions. Those were a thing. Xailah didn't miss a beat and slid quickly into formalities once the cue of the namedrop was given. Uncertainty unfurled into gentle refinement. "Charmed." A lazy cats grin split across the darkling's features as she countered Wilson's bow with a quaint curtsey. "Might I ask what the 'P' stands for?" A light chortle was muted behind her folding fan.

A small frown was summoned- more so at the choice word of "useless" (even if it was true, unbeknownst to her)- when Wilson introduced his companion. "Is he just Wes? Does he not have a surname?" The man in question was eyed curiously. "Well, Wes, it is a pleasure meeting you." In any case, he too was given a curtsey. "Surely, there is more to him than what meets the eye. One, after all, must always be wary of the quiet ones." The look Xailah offered the mime shone with a waggish glimmer.

"I am Xailah Alptraum, my companion is Schrödinger." In a fluid motion, an open, gloved hand gestured to the cat at her side. "He is rather quiet too, but I would never dare to say he is useless." To call him such would be far from the truth. Besides, everyone had some use; even if it wasn't the most obvious.

Even if the person was an exceedingly quiet mime.

Presumably set on proving Wilson wrong, the silent entertainer produced two balloons from his pockets; which he proceeded to twist and bend into fantastical shapes. "Ohhh-" Xailah cooed, awestruck by Wes' impressive show of skill. Balloon sculpting, after all, was no simple feat. "Why, he does not seem all that useless," she shot a fleeting glance at Wilson. "The fellow is rather quick with his hands!" Perhaps in another life, that had not turned to a career of mimedom, Wes would have made an excellent pickpocket. Light, quick hands were desirable in the industry. "And he clearly has an eye for modeling."

Wes' gifts were accepted (albeit reluctantly on Schrödinger's part) with ginger fingers. "Thank you. Schrödinger and I find insects to be rather fascinating, so these are perfect." Xailah said fondly, admiring the butterfly and spider. The grey feline was hardly thrilled when his lady knelt to his height, and secured the dreadful bobbing green bug onto the back of his blazer. Had he ever mentioned he was afraid of balloons? Well. He was afraid of balloons. He'd have to be sure to conveniently get rid of the thing when no one was looking. Perhaps "accidentally" loosen the string. Xailah tied her balloon to her wrist, making certain it wouldn't float away by some mischance.

"I think the sentiment may be mutual, Mr. Higgsbury." Be it truth or fib, the woman was not afraid to establish that the strangers still remained in a grey area. They were certainly charming gentlemen, and generous enough to share their material things with two perfectly odd folk (a gesture that meant far more to Xailah than she let on), but the cryptid was still inclined to hold them at an arms length.

Such behavior was typical for her.

"That sounds like splendid fun and quite the challenge!" Xailah exclaimed once Wilson explained the rules of the game. "I so do enjoy a good game of cat and mouse." The offer to show the cattish duo how the game worked was accepted with a slight bob of the head. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble; we would hate to embarrass you two with our lack of knowledge on the game."

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Wilson P. Higgsbury (played by Atheist) Topic Starter

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[ Thank you kindly for the compliments. You are also quite the wordsmith! I'm so fond of the dapper little fussy pants Xailah has following her around. He's so begrudging -- such is the way of cats! Thank you again for taking the time to futz around my little neck of the woods.~ ]

The smoldering heat did little to grate on the spirits of the Cawnival's inhabitants. Though the evening was at its cusp, the possibility of reprieve from the unbearable swelter seemed but a pipe dream at this point. If not for the pits of frozen flames, there would be nothing to quell the fever that dwelled upon the Constant's surface like a plague within a body making an attempt to burn away its infection. No, there was anything but torrid calamity being celebrated in the humid eventide. Laughter and thrilling squawks still rang out amongst those of the corvid brood, and the others -- the featherfree still roamed with glad hearts and the promise of chancy treats afterward.

Instantly Wilson picked up on Xailah's sharp acumen. It was like that of a raven among doves -- so obvious, yet subtle! Surely she was aware of the dangers that lurked not just on the outskirts of the Cawnival itself, but that edge between sleep and wakefulness where dreams and reality collide or, at times, coalesce into nightmarish entities discomposed of sense or logic. Just shambling shadow beasties bent on extermination. Enough of that for now...

He could easily surmise her disappointment in the play on words, but it was only a matter of time before the darkling woman and her associate would find out the true nature of this unforgiving hellscape. Xailah was far too keen, far too aware of her surroundings to ignore the signs as vague and ambiguous as they were. It was the little things: the winking lights in the far-off treelines glinting in suspicious pairs ominously, the distant rumbling of what could be construed as thunder, and lastly the elongated shadows creeping ever closer, stretching abnormally far from their bases and held back by the flickering totem lights that speckled the Cawnival's edges and whatever was left of daylight's saving grace.

Wilson spied the decorative parasol and fan, appreciating their beauty in this otherwise weathered terrain. The remnants of the sun's rays bounced ferociously against the top of Xailah's protective canopy to no avail, inspiring innocuous jealousy among feathered and featherfree alike. After his observations were made, Wilson spoke with a practiced air of composure, "It's obvious because most of us aren't native to this place, madam. I mean, not unless you have a snout and a curly tail or," he gestured toward a trio of playful crows at a nearby booth testing their mettle, "feathers."

Wilson felt her observe him in return, a pair of golden, lamp-like eyes burrowing into him in an effort to intake as much information as possible. He had hoped he made a good first impression after all. Wes's good-natured humor had always earned him favor, so there was no concern in that department. The two of them had been leading the way toward their destination when she posed her query. With a quirk of his lips, Wilson turned to address Xailah, "Oh, don't get me wrong -- you fit in immaculately! But you shouldn't really want to, I'm afraid." Wes simply nodded his agreement.

uPPvi0v.pngIn reference to understanding the complexities of Wes's miming, Wilson snorted in amusement, "Ah, trust me, it gets easier the longer you're around him."

The endothermic fires were an enigma in and of themselves. To wonder as to their licking cerulean flames and cooling effects would be a natural sentiment. It came as no surprise to either of them when the lovely outsider inquired about its frigid capabilities. "It's science!" Wilson jingled with the twiddling of his semi-gloved fingers in an effort to look mysterious. "No, but in all reality, it's a modern marvel -- if I ever make it back home you can rest assured I'll be taking this little bit of green energy back with me. I can't say that magic works well or even at all where I come from, but if I used it to get here, surely there's something worth looking into..."

This little tidbit got him brooding, his features pinched and contemplative as he mulled over the possibilities. The fame, the notoriety, the finally being recognized as the true man of science he had acclaimed himself to be! It was an airy hope, but it was one of those fragile hopes that was always on the brink of being crushed under the weight of existence here within the Constant, but somehow, some way he found a way to persevere...

The stranger from another world appeared to be smitten with the large mechanical bird and this apparently pleased Wes. Despite having no currency to offer Schrödinger and his mistress, he was still eager to answer her. His response, however, was that of more gestures, more jumbled articulation, but oddly enough, he was becoming a little easier to understand. He suggested that the bird ran on forbidden knowledge, the shadows of this realm, and finally hinted at some deeper, more rooted entity of evil that lurked in the underworld beneath their very feet. He ended his schpeal with a motion that signified 'spooky things happen here.'

"We certainly don't mind sharing our tokens, do we Wes?" Wilson exclaimed with one hand firmly at his hip while the other moved conversationally. Wes nodded vigorously noting now that he was about to get to play his favorite game on Wilson's dime. How exciting!

When they had slipped into introductions, even through the white of his face paint, Wes could be seen flushing a furious shade of crimson after Xailah paid him the slew of compliments. Wilson knew his mime friend was hardly as useless as he jests, but the scientist had a bullyish protective streak over him that allowed him that exception to jab at Wes's frailty. It was a mutual friendship, a pair of rabble-rousers out and about antagonizing the denizens of the Constant and infuriating its overseers.

Once the balloons were distributed and Schrödinger's was firmly attached to his rather fancy jacket, the two survivors nodded in approval. Now there was absolutely no way they would lose the angry feline in this lively crowd! It was then Wilson clasped his hands together loudly and made his way to the empty platform, turning back only briefly to motion for his compatriot to follow suit.

"No need to feel embarrassed," he called back to the duo waiting in the wings. Huh, another crow pun for the books. "We all start out new to everything. It just takes a few turns and you'll have it down to an art, madam!"

As he was inserting the tokens meticulously into the slot at the base of the large mechanical monstrosity, Wilson recalled his need for etiquette in the presence of the cryptid. She was incredibly ceremonious in not just her appearance, but her mannerisms as well. She was a lady of her craft, a woman of feline introspection and grace, and most certainly not to be trifled with. She was a mistress to her Familiar who was a punctilious, fussy little thing that would likely want to be anywhere but in the presence of buffoons.

"By the way," he stated, turning back to give Xailah her proper dues by way of gentleman's flourish. "The 'P' stands for Percival."

Raising her beak to the sky, the metallic beast gave an unheralded caw, after which, she began merrily swaying side-to-side in an almost fluid naturalness that her leaden body seemed impossible. Instantly, tiny semi-hatched eggs began to appear in droves. Their diamond speckled bodies sported two wheels and they tinkled vibrantly in their eagerness to avoid their two hopeful captors. Peering yellow eyes glowed eerily from beneath the top shell, and they continued to squeak and squawk almost tauntingly as both Wilson and Wes raced to draw the varmints back to their mother.

It was a show of accuracy and endurance dodging to and fro, hitching to the left, bounding to the right, and herding the evasive creatures under the heat of a sinking sun. Wes was nimble, tumbling with acrobatic finesse, moving as though he too were a form of liquid. He ushered the eggs with careful precision of someone who was able to focus on more than one task at a time.

Wilson, on the other hand, was cunning, a trickster, and a scholar. He drove the little demons to their destination utilizing prediction, method, and cold, hard reasoning. His movements were categorical, his stance and form both diligent and focused. It required effort, but despite the difficulty, the game of skill was unmatched by the pair of hard-pressed survivors.

g41t6Rm.pngOnce every single chick had been returned, they quite literally poofed out of existence, signifying the deed had been done. The two successful fairgoers stood victorious as the large, powerful bird raised her head once more and bellowed toward the heavens. As her cries resounded throughout the entirety of the festival, tickets rained upon the two men, and cheers from the Corvidae resonated all around.

"And that, my dear," Wilson spoke, breathless from his charge, "is how it is done. Afterward, I think we will get snacks. We've earned it."

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Xailah Alptraum (played anonymously)

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{❣️ I'm glad you like him, I admittedly have a big soft spot for sidekicks and the like. Dynamic duos are the best kind of character dynamic. Your portrayal of Wilson and Wes is excellent! The way they bounce off of each other is so charming, I thoroughly enjoy how you write them. That said, curses upon you, you have successfully sent me down a Don't Starve rabbit hole. This post got a bit long, my apologies!}


There was a layer of mystery to the festivities; joy and merriment were bountiful even in the midst of the evening's wafting residual heat, there seemed no end to the bright, crackling energy carried by the locals. For the most part, everyone seemed happily absorbed in their own little bubbles. But that wasn't the odd thing- that wasn't the detail which made brows crimp and eyes dart cattishly- the carnival (or, well, Cawnival as indicated by the occasional cackling corvid) was incredibly lively, standing out much like a strange weed that had spontaneously sprung from between barren stones; and yet, the same could not be said for the area encapsulating the carny.

Well, that wasn't quite true. It could be noted as being lively in a much different way. The twinkling from the depths of the surrounding woods- eyes (yes, because only eyes shone like that) glowing longingly as the festive activities went on- had not gone unnoticed, rather it had been unquestioned. There was a phrase that echoed in Xailah's head; it was a frequent thing repeated by the Surface-Folk, in wary regard to the more ferine of the abomination's kind: "Pay no mind to the treeline's gaze".

The world-walkers were far from unfamiliar with the unusual, considering their nature and origins, but that did not mean the weirdness of this world slipped by them. They could feel something deeper; and whatever it was felt like worms crawling desperately through loose soil. Hidden. Disturbed. Writhing. Although the cattish pair had been here (wherever here was) for an exceedingly short amount of time, they had seen things. Eyes mostly. Peeping things that kept their distance, and just... watched.

And of course, there had been the noises- such strange sounds- like fingers scratching on wood. The duo could hear them at night scritch-scritch-scritch-ing on the exterior of their little caravan, clawing, as if beckoning to be let in.

But even with all that considered, not once had the pair bothered to ponder the possibility of being sitting ducks for something sinister. Especially when they presently sat at the heart of something so joyful such as the Cawnival. Hopelessly passing your time in the grassland away, only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.

You better watch out.

There may be dogs about.

Luckily, they were never ones to let their guard down so easily, even in the impromptu presence of such pleasant company. Although a briefing had been expected, the lengthier conversation, followed by an invitation, was welcomed. Wilson's explanation earned him the ghost of a pondering smile. "I see." A metallic gaze wandered to the nearby party of squawking corvids. Terribly cute little creatures, they were. Xailah's cheeks lifted at the sound of their happy chirps and chatters. Was that to imply the others- the featherless- were of different regions? Countries? Worlds, like the realms-walkers? And- what was this place anyway? Ah, so many questions.

There was some peace in knowing that there were others not of the area. However, it did spark the realization that both Wilson and Wes were the first people the dyad had actually met and had the chance to speak to, since arriving to this new world- a chance that at least one from the catty pair seemed to slightly appreciate; the other mostly stared on, praying that the conversation would meet a quick end.

It wouldn't, much to his dismay.

Although he was painted with a question mark for the time being, Xailah had no hope in denying she found the man Wilson to be rather charming in a strange sort of way- like how one might appreciate an old tome, or perhaps, an incomprehensible opus brimming with postulations born from the most aberrant of minds. Openness and good manners were bound to earn a few points of affable regard on his scorecard. Even if Xailah was quick to dismiss the latter at first, by bluntly disregarding it with an airy chortle. "No need to be so polite." She said, waving off the initial statement pertaining to "fitting in". "That is most strange. In many places 'fitting in' is considered a desirable thing." She spoke with quiet consideration, reflecting on all the places she and her companion had been where such social concepts were pressed for. They never fully strived for this likeness spoken of, instead they typically sought things that would allow them to chameleon well enough from one place to another without causing too much of a stir; but certain practices between beings were not lost on them.

They understood social creatures liked same and relatability. Wanted it, most often than not. It was a fact that applied everywhere.

With that consideration, perhaps it explained why lapsing into casual conversation with these unfamiliar men (well, conversation with one of the men, seeing as the other was very much mute) came so easily.

Or, maybe, it could have all been chalked up to dangerously persistent curiosity- which was also a completely feasible, and a far more likely, possibility.

The chill radiating from the azure flames was thoroughly relished. Having been heaved up to where he could better reach the fire (a thing he regarded with great caution first, until he realized it seemed alright), Schrödinger was perfectly content with relaxing in it's cooling sensation. His lady, however, the much more experimental of the two, simply wasn't satisfied with the wonder derived from the blazing blue and was therefore obligated to test it. She held her palms close enough to make it seem like she was just enjoying the relief from the heat, much like the rest of the party; when in reality, she was testing to see if the flames would burn her if she got close enough.

So far, they hadn't.

Then came questions- the answers to which were unknown by Wilson, yet his confession was still compelling all the same. A light smile was suppressed in response to the enigmatic attempt at a reveal- which, when paired with the finger twiddling, admittedly came across as much sillier than likely intended.

"That is a very elaborate way of saying you do not know." To admit a lack of understanding, yet still maintain a keenness for the subject, was a quality that could be appreciated. Xailah was certain that had the man known what the blue fire was at it's core, he would have been brimming with invaluable insight. She would have happily lapped up anything he had to share. This, the oddling thought, is a brain I would greatly enjoy picking through. Needless to say, he had her attention for the moment.

"Where are you from?" And why can't you go back? Xailah interjected without so much as missing a beat. Schrödinger stirred, begging to be put back down; a request to which his keeper obliged. Unknowingly- or perhaps, knowingly- Wilson had made an opening in the conversation to pry; an opportunity Xailah spied and promptly leapt at, latching onto it like a fish to a hook. "Magic is such a temperamental thing." She began to drone, her gaze unwavering from its dreamlike state on the flames. Momentarily, she took notice of the curious state of pensiveness the man Wilson had lapsed into. What are you thinking about? the cryptid wondered, but abstained from asking.

"It is never a matter of if it works- because when you want it to, it will refuse; yet when you seek refuge in the mundane, it will run rampant. Magics only cooperate with a great deal of patience." In the similar fashion of someone passing their finger through the burning wick of a candle; a gloved hand would experimentally swipe through a tickling blue tendril, as to further test how the element would react. "And luck," Xailah then cocked her head to the side in a doggish manner, considering. "And sometimes misfortune," she added wryly. "What was it for you?" The look Wilson received was one made of steel; cool and sharp, deftly inquisitive. After a moment it would slide to Wes. "And what about your little friend here?"

There was a passing moment of surprise when the mime jumped into the motions of explanation. Although an elaboration from Wilson on the subject of the avian shrine was what had been anticipated, Xailah was absolutely tickled by the unexpected effort taken up by Wes. Alright, she mused to herself, you have my attention. And so, she watched him with great interest, dissecting each hasty gesture he delivered in an effort to better understand him. Although the attempt was genuine, it would inevitably fall short. That said, she wouldn't come out of the "conversation" empty-handed. While not well-versed in the mime's way of communication, he was remarkably easier to comprehend than he was before, if by a margin.

The finer details of the elucidation may have been missed, but at the end of it all Xailah did understand this: the bird-like mechanism did not work in the same way a clock or automobile would. It did not wind from a key on it's back, or putter awake with the use of a battery. It did not spark or thrum with electric life, nor did an array of intricate gears allow it's heart to beat. "So... energy makes it run? But not the kind that typically makes machines tick- it is more like a living sort of energy? Do I have that right?" She asked, seeking some clarification to determine whether or not she was on the right track.

Surprisingly, that loose concept clicked. The notion of "living" machines- ones that ran off of other energies- was one that the cryptid was not only familiar with, but had also managed to bring into fruition- albeit, only once. Wes' answer would satiate curiosity for the time being, but it would not subdue the desire to investigate the contraption's inner workings. A low, dissatisfied sigh escaped between lips.

Generosity, on behalf of strangers, was often met with two minds: gratefulness and skepticism. Both would arise as the weird little party navigated interactions. In a matter of seconds, cautious gratitude spun into suspicion with the aid of Wilson's assurance about the game tokens. Although Schrödinger was very much resentful about this whole ordeal, not even he could resist issuing an incredulous glance to his lady- an expression they mutually exchanged before turning their narrowed gazes upon the men. "What is the catch?" Yes, because everything has to have some sort of a catch. Cautious as the question was, it possessed a note of dry humor.

Ascension to the piste summoned the attention of feathered and featherfree. Several gathered, like cattle to a watering hole, eager to spectate the game once Wilson and Wes took their positions on the circular stage. Reassurance from the vested gentleman was parried with a narrow smirk. "Very wise words Mr. Higgsbury, the assurance is appreciated. However, I never said we would be the ones embarrassed." Xailah tossed back, to which her companion gurgled in disagreement. This whole thing was terribly embarrassing- the conversations, the game, the balloon- the balloon especially. No one else had a giant bobbing bug affixed to their back like some weirdly jovial "Kick Me!" sign; so why did he have to have one? And if that wasn't bad enough, the object made him horrendously noisy; every time he moved he went boing! boing! boing! due to the balloon getting yanked around by his gestures. It was awful.

Oh, but did anyone care? Noooo. Not even his mistress spent an ounce of concern on him; she was too caught up in swapping pleasantries with these weird men. What did she see in them anyway? Money? They didn't look to be the Big Spending sort. Answers? That must have been it. She often chases the excitement of something new. Regardless of the reason, Schrödinger would find himself rolling his eyes as he was forced to descend further into the festive hubbub and friendly conversation.

The revelation of Wilson's middle initial brought on an inward curl of a smile- an unseen thing, that could only be spied in the starry twinkle of slotted, feline eyes. Xailah rolled the name over her tongue, silently testing it. After a moment, she would ring, melodic, like a little bell: "Ah, pierce the vale." Let us see how you live up to the namesake.

Splintering was the call of the Metallic Mother, commanding the game to begin; it summoned gooseflesh and the sensation of static down one's spine. "Fascinating." From nothingness, the mother's hatchings were conjured; all tiny, squeaky, things that presented fiendish defiance to their challengers. Were they like the mother too? Possessed by a visceral energy?

Unlike the large bird, the little eggs had a notable winding pin affixed to the tops of their shells, but it was unclear if it was part of their design, or what brought them to life. Regardless, Xailah was immediately fond of them. "Such darling little things, don't you think so?"

Schrödinger pulled his ears back until they laid flat against his head. "No." He muttered in a low gruff. He eyed the little egg-beasts from the safety of his lady's side, copper hues wide with wary wonder and detest. Eggs weren't supposed to have eyes and wheels. Those things aren't right, he decided immediately, as he spied one of the things tauntingly wheel itself around Wes in an attempt to avoid him- which would ultimately result in it's own demise.

Both men were watched with a honed attentiveness, like that of a house cat spectating a pair of small birds. Every move- every step- every breath taken in and exhaled- was carefully noted and stored away for later reference. The dance they performed was complex, with the impish little varmint scattered underfoot, but still nothing short of impressive. Wilson was sharp- acuminated like the tapered edge of a straight razor- beguiling and astute, yet something to be wary of in every regard. He waltzed along the line resting between rationality and flinty mania, in a balancing act most spectacular. "A proper ace, that one." Xailah commented, paying the performance an approving nod.

Striking as the act was, the man's incredible sense of adaptability, when one of the crafty little automatons tried (and failed) to switch up the game of chase, was what truly inspired. The feline, Schrödinger, was gently nudged; ushered to cheer the fellows on. He'd do so. Reluctantly.

"Oh, but look at him-" While Wilson intrigued, Wes entertained. Metallic hues flitted to the mime, alight with fascination. Truth be told, he may have stolen the show just a bit. In light of his quiet and gentle demeanor, Wes possessed the nimbleness and wit of a crafty little stoat. Those trained in the theatrical arts were often strangely dexterous, perhaps because quick thinking and improvisation were necessities in that field of work, which the fellow clearly displayed a knack for. It was at that moment, the cryptid was willing to bet there really was more to Wes than him just being a timid little mute. "They are good."

Engrossed in seeing how the game played out, it took a firm tug at the hem of the darkling's skirt to draw her attention elsewhere. Schrödinger desperately fiddled with the article of clothing after his pitifully quiet mewls had gone unnoticed. He appeared slightly upset; the reason as to why was quickly identified with the point of a fuzzy grey paw: a pair of fledgling crows had been harmlessly watching them and whispering amongst themselves in a way that seemed as if they were daring each other to do something.

Eventually, a tiny fellow- dressed in an equally tiny, viridian stole- was pushed forward by his flock member in a gesture of utter betrayal. He had something wrapped between his inky wing feathers, which he cautiously extended towards the felids, indicating for them to take whatever he held. Wordlessly, a few tokens were placed in gloved palms, before the feathered fellow sheepishly skittered off to rejoin his murder without so much as waiting for a thank you.

Odd. But at least the token dilemma was covered- which Schrödinger wasn't all that pleased about. He had been hoping that a lack of tokens would bail him out of having to play the silly egg game, but alas...

Now he could only wait for the minutes to tick away. Fate was edging ever-near. The sun continued to plummet into the horizon. There was no running now. All he could do was accept the fact that he would have to play eventually. Oh the misery.

The tepid feeling would steep once attention returned to the Scrambler participants, and the cat saw that there were only a few eggs left to round up. When the last egg was rejoined with the rest of it's brood, and tickets fluttered down from the sky like leaflet blessings, he released a lengthy sigh acknowledging his time was up.

At least Xailah was ready to give the successors proper kudos, alongside cheering corvids. "Good show! Good show! Not only did you successfully vanquish the little hellions, but you did so with such dashing finesse!" Gloved hands- temporarily freed of the accessories they held- were brought together to form a soft golf clap for the two fellows. "A dazzling display of dexterity and focus from the both of you." Xailah commemorated, then extending her folding fan with an attempt to cool the gentlemen down. It probably blew their hair out of their faces, at most.

"Indeed you have! Snacks are an excellent idea," Her gaze dipped to the ground. As expected, the talk of food had gotten Schrödinger's attention very quickly; his moon-shaped face was fixed upward, now keen on what the people had to say. "There's something you can look forward to." She teased lightly. Schrödinger simply gave a lazy swish of his tail.

Food. It was the only beacon of hope in this dim time; a ray of light almost close enough to touch, yet still just out of reach. His string and carrot. Admittedly, the idea of post-game snacks did entice him. The notion of being more cooperative and friendly was suddenly looking a bit more appealing. Alright, fine. I'll play.

Just as Wes and Wilson had done, the cattish duo took to the platform encircling the mechanical crow. "We are covered on tokens. A little bird told us where to find some." And by find, that meant gave. Xailah would snap her fan shut and close her parasol in two fluid motions, allowing what was left of the sun's rays to creep along her porcelain skin. The fan was the only object that she would attempt to hand off. "Do one of you mind?" She'd reach beyond her spot on the stand, waving the fan between either of the men in her company, to see if one would be compelled to hold on to it for a little while. If there was no volunteer, the cryptid would simply shrug and loop the thing to her side by means of a fancy tassel.

The traveling dyad went through the motions they witnessed earlier- they inserted their tokens at the trunk of the Scrambler, and took their places- a brief moment was taken to tie their balloons out of the way, making sure the rubber bugs had no chance of getting tangled in each other's strings. Xailah chanced a glance up at the center totem, finding that it looked much bigger from this point than it did on the spectator lines. "I must know, how many tries did it take you two to figure the game out?" The pantheress called to the men (presumably) waiting on the sidelines.

Then, the unyielding mother gave her telltale roar.

The new challengers would not make record time like the previous had, they would experience a few roadblocks here and there (a very large, fuzzy grey one), but resolve was swift. They (well, one) looked to be having great fun, and frankly, that was all that mattered. Xailah was a learning creature, and this was made evident by the way she evolved to counter the game. When she wasn't applying techniques she picked up from Wilson and Wes, she was lithe, quiet, and ritzy with some of her mannerisms- until she wasn't. The change came like a rebounding rubber band- a sudden snap! of wildness that was only visible for a moment before it slipped back into smooth assessment. With how many eggs there were initially, their high numbers made some of them prime sneaking targets; and once they were within herding range, they were either leapt upon or ushered toward their broodmother with the tapered end of Xailah's parasol.

As for Schrödinger- poor Schrödinger- he was not fairing well. In fact, he was hardly fairing at all. At the beginning of the game he had tried his best to round up what he could, but it was no secret that he was not a regular mouser. One of the decorated fiends would snap at him from behind, sending his fur going every which way. His mistake was fleeing the scene: for when one egg saw it could induce such a reaction, others began to join in until the cat had about five of the little things after him in a reverse game of cat and mouse.

It was those bullyish eggs that would be the last few standing, however, their revolt would be short-lived as they were mercilessly pounced upon, effectively marking an end to the chase.

"What naughty little things!" Xailah chirruped, stepping from the platform to rejoin her companions (assuming they were still there) with Schrödinger mewling miserably in tow. "That was great fun! However... I am not sure my associate can say the same." She spared a pitiful glance down at the fuzzy grey lump she lugged under one arm. "Where to now?"

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Wilson P. Higgsbury (played by Atheist) Topic Starter

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[ My apologies for the long delay! I appreciate all the patience, of course. I hope Wilson and Wes can aid the two interlopers free from the grasp of the Constant before it really sinks its claws in! I think I'll always be a Don't Starve fanatic, so enjoy the descent into madness with me! I hope I can properly respond to your absolutely delightful post -- the amount of detail and attentiveness is mind-blowing. It was such a lovely read. So here's my effort, by gosh! ;n;! ]

Not knowing something was only half the battle, and yet a motivating factor for Wilson P. Higgsbury. He had never suffered personal insult simply due to his lack of knowledge on a subject matter, rather he embraced his ignorance as an opportunity to slew the world with questions. He was a learned man, but his wherewithal on the concepts of magic had been woefully limited. Without question, however, he would certainly utilize the unknown in an effort to better understand it, but despite Xailah's attempt to educate him on the supernatural, Wilson was still at a loss on what made the Alchemy machine provide so much untapped ingenuity. Perhaps there were other, extenuating factors to consider. With the Constant, there always was...

Nevertheless, the secrets of the endothermic firepit would remain as such; an untold enigma of cerulean flames and frigid mystery. For a moment more, Wilson allowed himself to ponder its abstruse essence, the almost implausible nature of its existence was enough to make his scientific brain whirl maddeningly. He felt a gentle nudge at his side, a thin spear-like elbow jolting him free from his thoughts.

Wilson turned his gaze and noted the worried expression on Wes's painted features. He was dwelling again, wasn't he? It never paid to dwell in the Constant, in particular, not in Wilson's case -- That's where the black rabbits came from. It was a dangerous game of the mind and a dark descent he'd rather not indulge in at this time. Rather he immediately gave the uneasy mime his bout of reassurance through a ginger pat on the shoulder and something akin to a smile. The exchange was over as quickly as it had appeared and the two were show-worthy hosts once more.

"It doesn't really hurt," he said after having seen Xailah's wary inspection of its merry blue tresses flickering along her fingertips. "At most, you can freeze to death, but that takes effort, hah hah..."

Observing the darkling muse while lynxish eyes discerned the world around her keenly, Wilson permitted Xailah Alptraum her moment with a respectable reticence. She was incredibly quick on the uptake and left to her own devices, was easily procuring all the answers -- she would, perhaps, become as acquainted with the forbidden purgatory as the two men, yet at a much faster pace than they had themselves. There was one advantage Wilson was truly grateful for that both Schrödinger and his mistress mustered where few who suffered the wrath of the Nightmare Crown did, and that was the open invitation. Sure, they were test subjects for the cause, but typically, through Wilson's own experiences these last few years, such unorthodox summonings failed miserably, leaving the Constant no choice but to will them back to wherever they came from.

All that was required to do just that was to find the Florid Postern and send them safely on their way. It would have been a pretty daunting task had it been any other map, but it just so happened that the Postern was stationed right here at the head of the Cawnival. Now there was the issue of timing to consider, but last year's open invitation permitted several curious entrants who were all able to leave of their own accord. The scientific method would certainly have it that this pattern would surely then be repeated and Xailah and Schrödinger, the angry puss that he was, would be guaranteed safe passage out. Wilson and Wes were left with that responsibility and it weighed heavily on their slim, bony shoulders.

The quirky smirk vanished from the scientist's features upon her further delving into the topic of forbidden magics. Wilson was met with such a look of steeliness that he played the perfect captive audience to Xailah's hardened albeit golden-eyed scrutiny. "Misfortune," he would plainly state. "For the lot of us, I'd say, but that's neither here nor there. Don't think too much about it. The Constant doesn't deserve your energy."

The evening was fastly approaching and the air felt thick, heavy, teeming with a sordid mix of acrid humidity, the wafting smells of mechanical beings, and festival fare. After their grand display with the Egg Scrambler, the duo was met with cheers from all sides. For the briefest of moments, the two were kings of the Constant, adored and revered for the accomplishment, silly as it was. After a few flourishing bows, they exited the pool of tickets and met with their guests, their hearts lighter and pockets laden with their winnings.

"Where am I from?" Wilson repeated the question belatedly as though the answer were some distant and fading memory. He was still out of breath from his bout with the dastardly egg vermin. "That, my dear, is a perfectly honest inquiry because if I knew, I'd be more than happy to tell you. But you see, the thing is... The Constant has a way of making you forget. It's like trying to pinpoint that one exact word that lingers on the tip of your tongue but you can never quite find it so you have to settle with something crudely synonymous. I recall things here and there, but nothing concrete. I wouldn't waste too much time here if I were you."

With that, Wes motioned at the trio concernedly, a gesture of sympathy toward his friend, and offered assurance for Xailah not to take Wilson's melancholia too seriously. After all, they were still riding that winning streak. Wes bore an awkward smile and offered a few kindly pats to the dour man's back. The young mime then took a moment to examine his tickets before he jolted upright as though struck with a brilliant idea or a hot poke to the rear, one. He moved to catch Wilson's gaze and began the process of expressing his intentions.

"Souvenirs? Wes, you're a genius. I'm sure they'd love to take more home than just atrocious powder cakes and a couple of balloon bugs," Wilson spoke, clearly coming out of his somber reverie. He couldn't help but be amused by the flat feline countenance that glowered back at him. It somehow suited the mysterious Cryptid to be accompanied by such a saturnine creature.

It was then he noticed the tokens cradled carefully in elfin-gloved hands. "Where did you --" before he could finish, Xailah had already played perfectly into his favorite form of distraction; puns. It was splendid and he couldn't help but give off a joyous cackle of delight. "Well, by all means then!"

The proffered fan was quickly retrieved by Wes's eager hands. He was far too set on seeing how this would pan out. The mime was practically on the edge of his invisible seat, his body relaying as such in an eerily accurate manner by way of floating momentarily in a seated position before he stood his ground once more. Wilson was also dripping in curiosity by this point, his grim-dark eyes settling now on the lovely contestant and her feline associate.

Upon her inquiry, Wilson called out to Xailah from the sidelines, "More than a few, that's for sure!"

Once the shrill call of the mother bird sounded and the game began its initial descent into madness, Wes and Wilson both noted the change in the panthress almost instantly. From the delicate, almost whimsical mannerisms she had displayed earlier, no matter how well-plotted and poised she appeared, Xailah was the picture of maneuverability now, her form pitching forward with a fluidity that was befitting of a cat. It was somewhat ironic in that Xailah's movements mimicked that of her feline's kind, and yet her grace surpassed Schrödinger -- and the way she wielded that broly! This earned the woman cheers from a budding crowd, most notably from the Corvidae, pleased to see that their tokens were being put to such good use.

Wilson and Wes, however, watched with a growing intrigue. The Starborn's interior relayed an adamantine composure obvious by her luminous, moonlit gaze. She glided about the harsh terrain as though she were among dreams, weightless and almost ethereal. Her comrade wasn't so fortunate and garnered laughs and vibrant squawks from the onlookers.

Once finished, they were showered in praise and applause, Xailah having proved herself to be a natural performer among fellow thespians. Wes offered grand gestures of tribute to the woman's success and even helped her collect the tickets that rained down from the mechanical bird.

"You did amazingly well for your first go at it!" Wilson lauded the two heartily, beaming. "Even you," he turned to Schrödinger. "It's not everyone's cup of tea. So, about those snacks!"

Wes gave the others a deep, showman's bow before leading the way toward the farthest end of the carnival where there would stand a line of bubbling, brewing crockpots; their lids bouncing about almost comically. The smells were a mingling of sweet and savory, a hint of options to come. The survivors were practically salivating at the prospect of food on their empty bellies and when it was time to draw back the lids, a sight that could not be explained by any science lay before them.

Within the very first slow cooker was delicious, puffy popcorn, bowl included. The scientist abandoned all hope of explaining how this was in favor of simply partaking in the buttery treat. He procured the bowl from the pot and offered some first to his group before snatching a handful for himself. Perhaps the most unexplainable, unfathomable treat that was unveiled aside from a carton containing a particularly scrumptious-looking hamburger was that of the luscious, triple-dipped ice cream, bowl and spoon included.

"Sometimes it's best we just don't ask," Wilson stated preemptively shoving another handful of popcorn down his gullet.

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