Lucas Maker Arrives in Town

You pull open the beautiful maple door. The small bell tied to the handle cracks against the wood, drowning out its own cheery jangle as you step inside.
Ursa Diner(#179RAJ)
You step onto a cracked but clean tile floor that was probably once red, but is now a faded salmon pink. A large, rectangular communal table seating about 10 takes up the middle of the floor, with mismatched smaller tables arranged near the large front windows. The long counter in front of the kitchen door sports plates of bread, cookies, and muffins and bowls of fresh wild fruits. Most of these things are not listed on the menu. The counter also supports a large pot of soup, kept warm by a spirit lamp and accompanied by a stack of worn bowls of every color. A small, rattling fridge in the corner holds a selection of juices and cold spring water in reused bottles. Atop the refrigerator is a can for cash donations; next to it is a box for barter payments. Scrawled on the box in black marker are the words "Pay what you can, when you can."
Tan Sin
Menu Board
Obvious exits:
Curtain Main Street Kitchen

There is a firm knocking at the door to the diner.

Sashenka is busily stocking the refrigerator with fresh bottles of tea. She looks up with a bemused expression at the knock on the door. "Well, who could that be?" she mutters, closing the refrigerator. She walks to the front door and opens it.

A very large man stands on the porch, poised to turn the door handle. His blue eyes light in startlement. "Er. Hello. You open?"

Sashenka stands back with a smile, holding the door wide. "Always. Come on in out of the rain."

Through the open door -- and possibly the rain-smeared windows -- two large horses and a wagon can be seen parked in the street.

Tan Sin sets down the large, thin book that he was reading at one of the small tables and watches the newcomer enter.

Hiding behind a book of her own, Rahne doesn't look up right away, most likely deeply involved in some bit of text before her. She occupies a seat with a view of the rain-soaked world outside.

The man ducks through the doorway, the blue eyes scanning the room's occupants. Seeing the place is, in fact, what it advertises to be, he relaxes somewhat. "Hello, Ma'am," he addresses Sashenka. There is a soft Mid-western twang in his accent. After a glance at the un-attended counter, he inquires, "Are you the proprietress?"

Sashenka steps aside and closes the door behind the man, then turns to him with a nod. "That would be me. Welcome. Can I help you?"

Rahne's eyes come to the end of whatever blurb captured her attention and she looks up, blinking a bit owlishly over it at the new arrival.

"M'name's Lucas Maker," he introduces himself, making no move to take off his streaming coat or find a seat. "Ah didn't see anyone about in the rain, so Ah was hoping you could tell me." He rubs a large hand across the back of his neck, where the rain is trickling from his wet curls down under his collar. "Is there a barn or old warehouse hereabout where Ah could put up myself and m'horses for the night? M'wagon dropped a wheel into a chuckhole a couple miles back an' Ah could use some dry place to fix it. Got it jerryrigged now, but it won't last. Ah'm a smith, so Ah could pay in kind."

You paged Dusty with 'if you're com,ing in from the street, there's a wagon and two huge horses parked outside the diner. A very wet dog is hunched under the wagon.'.
Sashenka pages the room: Well, what a good question. ;)
Dusty pages: thanks! I'll come in through the kitchen.
You paged the room: 'Yeah, the rain makes it a little more complicated than it would have been .'.
Dusty walks in from the kitchen.
Dusty has arrived.

Sashenka looks out the large front window at Lucas' horses and cart. "Oh, yes, you can't have them out standing in the rain. Let's see. There's a farm out of town a ways; I'm sure they've got barn space they could lend you, and probably plenty of use for a blacksmith." She smiles. "There'd be room in the old mill, but I'm not sure how sound the roof is. Or the walls, for that matter."

Dusty strolls into the main diner room from the kitchen, munching something. When he looks up and notices the large man, he stops suddenly and skitters behind the counter.

Sashenka, hearing the kitchen door, turns and spots the boy. "Dusty, would you mind grabbing a towel or two for our guest?"

Rahne half-listens to the exchange, glancing back down to her book now and then. Dusty's appearance perks her up slightly, a light smile turning up the corners of her mouth.

Lucas forestalls the courtesy with a raised hand. "Oh no, thank you, Ma'am. At least, not until Ah've seen to my friends." He glances out the window. "How late do you serve dinner? Ah'd love to eat something Ah didn't cook myself for a change." His rough face creases into a smile.

Dusty stares hard at the man, then suddenly realizes he has been asked to do something. He sprints into the kitchen, and sprints back carrying several battered towels. He stops well away from the newcomer, then approaches him cautiously, the towels resting in outstretched arms.

Lucas smiles down at the boy in a friendly way, but doesn't reach for a towel. "Thanks, there, lad, but a good man always sees to his animals before he sees to his own comforts, right?"

Dusty's expression softens a bit, and he pulls the towels in close to himself. "I noticed your dog's looking pretty wet, and your horses, too," he offers feebly.

Sashenka smiles. "Of course. Take your time; the Diner's always open. When I'm not here, folks know they can help themselves -- and of course you can too. But the farm's not far out of town. I'm sure you'll be back well before my bedtime."

Rahne smiles to herself and returns to her book, turning a page with a very audible crinkling and shifting of old paper.

Tan Sin watches quietly, taking his time carefully examining the man. He then turns his head and stares out the window at the wagon.

The smith grins. "Arslag's not near so pitiful as he'd have you believe," he tells Dusty, "He's ridden all day dry under the tarp in the wagon, whilst me and the beasts have to slog it out in the rain. He's only wet now 'cause he wanted to sniff around the town." He chuckles. "Ah'll get him dry again and fed, though, 'fore Ah come back here for my dinner." He turns back to Sashenka. "Anyone Ah should ask for particular? Else Ah'll just ask at the first farm with a barn."

Sashenka chuckles at Lucas' description of Arslag. "The first house with a barn is the one in particular, as it happens. It'll be on your left. Ask for Sarah, I know she'll be glad to help you out. If she doesn't have space, she'll know who will."

Sashenka pages the Room, Sashenka makes stuff up wildly and claims no responsibility for it being contradicted in the future. :)

Dusty looks out the window and, despite the warning about the dog, sees its piteous face staring back at him and an expression of concern rolls across his face. He says anxiously, "Mister, I'll show you where if you'd like."

"Much obliged," Lucas says to Sanshenka. He reaches up in a gesture clearly meant to conclude in the tipping of a hat, realizes there is no hat, and runs the hand through his damp hair instead. It's a callused, working man's hand, pocked here and there with tiny scars. There's a fine line of grime under each short fingernail. At Dusty's offer, he brightens. "Would you, now? That'd be grand. Ah've a clasp-knife for you if you help me with the horses as well."

Dusty returns a slight smile at the offer of a gift, but responds "Oh, that's o.k., I don't need anything to help with your animals. Just want to help 'em be dry."

Sashenka watches the motions of the man's hand and smiles. "No problem at all."

Tan Sin is still staring thoughtfully out the window at the wagon. When Dusty makes his offer he looks over and frowns very slightly. He then stands and bows slightly. "Excuse me. My name is Tan Sin. I was thinking that it might be good if I went along as well, in case your wheel comes loose again."

Rahne disappears back into the depths of her book rather quickly and, after a few minutes, begins to hum under her breath idly.

The smith blinks in surprise at the new offer. As he regards Tan Sin, the blue eyes grow ever-so-slightly harder -- or maybe that was a trick of the light. "Many hands make light work," he says pleasantly, turning for the door.

Dusty looks down at his hands, realizes he's still carrying towels, and says "oh, wait a minute." He rushes to the closet, rattles about for a moment, then returns with a plastic bag over his body, with holes ripped for head and arms. "Ready!", he states as he heads for the door. As he approaches Tan Sin and the stranger, he holds out two more bags. "Guys want one?"

Sashenka watches Dusty tear about, her eyes glowing with fond amusement.

Tan Sin stares at the bag for a moment, mostly keeping a straight face. "No thank you, Dusty. I already have something." He steps into the cot room for a moment and returns with a light overcoat.

Lucas smiles and shakes his head. "Ah reckon it's too late to do me much good, but thanks anyway." He's wearing a long overcoat of well-oiled hemp. It might not hold out against a downpour, but it seems proof enough against today's light rain. "Lead the way... Dusty, was it?"

Rahne proves herself to not be totally oblivious to her surroundings as she looks up to watch the trio troop out into the wet weather, smiling and still humming.

Dusty pulls up a corner of his bag and stuffs the other bags into his pocket. "I'll keep these anyway, just in case... Yup, I'm Dusty, and its just out this way..." he starts as he steps outside.

Sashenka looks longingly out the window. "Do you mind if I join you? I could use a walk. Rahne, you don't mind if I go for a bit, do you?"

Rahne smiles and shakes her head, "Nah, I'll be fine. Just gonna sit here and work on my tale. Bit wet out for me right now."

Sashenka grins. "Great. Help yourself to anything." She follows the three guys outside.

Dusty offers a hand for the miserable-looking dog to sniff.

Lucas looks a little bemused at suddenly finding himself launching such an expedition, but gamely heads out anyway.

Toward the diner side of Main Street stands a large, sturdy-looking wagon. An oiled tarp is lashed over shapes that look to be a jumble of crates, barrels, and other, less identifiable silhouettes. On either broad side is fastened a board with the word "BLACKSMITH" painted in large, neat letters. In front of it stand two massive draft horses. The one pulling the wagon looks to be a Shire, or possibly a Clydesdale -- a black stallion with one white stocking on his left rear leg. The other, wearing a halter with the lead tied loosely to one of the bars, is slightly smaller in build, a mare whose blue roan coat is darkened nearly as black as her companion's by the rain. Under the wagon, a largeish dog of indeterminate breed sweeps its tail back and forth across the wet cobbles.

Sashenka pages the room: No one's willing to let Dusty tromp off in the rain with some stranger!!

Tan Sin carefully arranges his coat and steps out into the rain. He looks the wagon over, and then stands next to it, waiting for Lucas to get started.

The dog eagerly emerges from his spot to sniff at Dusty's proffered hand. He then carefully inspects Sashenka and Tan Sin.

Sashenka steps toward the wagon. "Oh, your horses are magnificent, Lu -- Lucas, was it?" She puts a hand to her mouth. "I never introduced myself, did I? My name's Sashenka."

Dusty straightens and heads down the road. "It's this way!" he calls.

"That's right, Lucas Maker," the smith smiles. "Pleased to meet you, Sashenka, ma'am. That rascal'd be Arslag, of course," he introduces the dog, who has wandered over the porch and is sniffing a spot next to the steps in a familiar manner. "Hsst! Arslag!" Lucas barks hastily, and the dog looks up briefly, tongue lolling, before moving on to investigate the rest of the yard. "This'd be Campion," he continues, patting the big black. "Of the Destrier line," he adds, in case that means something. "And this'd be Harebell. She's a Heavystrider."

Sashenka smiles, listening to the animals' introductions carefully. She holds a hand out under the horses' noses. "Sashenka Mkonikan, of the Solar Mkonikans. Pleased to meet all of you." She strokes the big horses's nose gently. "I bet you'd like to get inside, huh, big guy?"

The smith's smile looks ever-so-slightly forced, and the observant will notice that he keeps a hand on the black's neck as Sashenka draws near.

Sashenka pulls her hand back, glancing at Lucas, and then steps away. "Well, we should get going before Dusty loses us."

Dusty sloshes in the mud impatiently. "C'mon guys!"

In one quick blur of motion, the mare snakes her head around in an attempt to take a vicious bite out of Lucas' shoulder. But just as quickly, and without him even looking around, the smith's hand catches her lower jaw and holds it. "Harebell," he chides gently, as if this is an old pattern replayed. The mare's ears splay in annoyance, but when he releases her jaw, she does not attack again. "Ah'm sorry, folks. They're neither of them very good with people," the smith explains, regret tingeing his voice. "You might not want to stay *too* close."

Lucas keeps a close eye on Campion as Sashenka moves away, wary lest the stallion try something as well. But the big black seems content to stand still.

Sashenka nods, giving Lucas a look of chagrin as she takes another step back. "Sorry. I should have asked."

As the sodden cavalcade starts to move off, a slim black shadow slips out of the shadow of the diner wall and starts to pace after them, keeping well back. One muddy paw that might once have been white is the only thing the sharp-eyed twoleggers could notice, but those with noses will pick up Rennen's scent eventually.

"S'alright," he smiles. "It's a natural reaction. 'Sides, he seems to like you -- that's prolly why Harebell got all uppity there." He grins at Sashenka and then clucks to the black. The stallion leans into the traces and the wagon begins to lurch across the cobbles after Dusty.

Sashenka smiles back at Lucas, relieved, and follows Dusty.

Rennen has arrived.

Dusty walks along the buildings of the town, then turns off onto a dirt road. The road is well used with deep ruts, and the rain is turning the ruts into treacherous mud pits.

Arslag, who'd been running circles around the little mob, suddenly stiffens -- seems he's noticed the black shadow. The dogs walks stiff-legged toward Rennen, his posture clearly saying "Who are you? What do you want?"

Sashenka follows fairly close behind Dusty, seeming completely unperturbed by the rain. The occasional gust of wind, however, makes her jump and, sometimes, look around her as if searching for something.

Tan Sin paces smoothly alongside the wagon, staying out of range of the mud that it kicks up. His gazes wanders from person to person, but mostly rests on the back of the wagon driver and his horses.

Rennen asserts his dominance with a raised head and tail, prim and aloof. A traveler. I investigate you.

Lucas is alert to the dog's behavior -- he stiffens noticeably as the lupe approaches, his hand straying toward a long narrow bundle loosely wrapped in oilcloth on the seat of the wagon. He looks carefully from face to face, to see how others react.

Sashenka seems distracted, and doesn't immediately notice Rennen or his interaction with the dog.

Tan Sin tenses slightly as he watches Lucas move. His face splits into a wide smile as he asks "Drop something?"

New Moon Farm, Front Circle(#152RJ)
You are standing underneath the spreading branches of an oak tree which is probably at least two hundred years old. Around the tree are several half-earthed houses, with stone and glass fronts and roofs of green turf. Beside front doors, roses, morning-glories, wisteria, and grapevines are all planted, and more plants can be seen through the wide front windows of each cottage. Dogs sleep peacefully in the shade or bounce up to inspect any arrivals, and cats stalk gracefully by on their own business. Off in the distance, you can see the edges of planted fields, a duckpond, and fenced grazing land. (there are views here)
Obvious exits:
Track to Farm Road

Rennen stands still to let the dog examine his scent, eyes tracking Arslag evenly. His ears track the wagon as it creaks off down the road. Your people are getting away, he informs Arslag with a sniff.

Arslag accepts the lupe's dominance cheerfully enough. Your place? Wanna play? is what his lolling tongue and wagging tail are saying.

Dusty goes to the doors of a nearby barn, opens the door slightly and peeks in. "This looks good," he says, then drags the doors open to reveal a dry haven.

Rennen gives Arslag a withering look and continues prowling after the wagon.

When it looks like his dog isn't going to be harmed, Lucas relaxes a little, regarding both the lupe and his erstwhile escort thoughtfully. "What?" he says, in response to Tan Sin's inquiry.

"Oh, nothing. Looks like we're here." Tan Sin nods towards the open door.

"Barn looks perfect, Dusty, thanks. Ah'll go ask... Sarah?" he glances at Sashenka for confirmation, "...if Ah can borrow it for a bit." He gives a sharp, low whistle and Arslag leaves off sniffing Rennen's pawprints and lopes over. Lucas gives another low whistle, and the dog hops up onto the wagon's seat boards and sits down, tongue lolling.

Rennen catches back up with the wagon as it lurches to a halt, and eyes a wagon wheel sidelong. His nose follows the honest pup's progress back towards the front of the vehicle, and after a few seconds of consideration he opts not to pee on other's property and instead moves under the rear of the cart, well between the wheels and out of the rain.

Sashenka nods. "Yes, Sarah. I'm sure it will be no problem."

The smith troops across the yard to the house and you see him knock on the door. Light streams out as it is opened, throwing the big man into silhouette and casting his shadow and that of the woman at the door onto the wet grass. After a few minutes, the door closes and he returns to the group, grinning. "Ah like her," he says, blue eyes glinting. "She's got a sense of humor." He moves to pull the barn door open wider, to accommodate the wagon.

Dusty sets himself to work, clearing out small bits of debris that could hinder progress. Soon the way is clear.

Sashenka laughs. "Yes, Sarah's a character, as my mother would say."

Lucas notes the lupe under the wagon and makes sure he's clear of the wheels before urging Campion inside.

Tan Sin steps into the barn, out of the rain. He leans against a wall and watches as the wagon trundles in.

Dusty stands in the back of the barn, waving his arms methodically and importantly, trying to help guide the cart in.

Rennen dodges beams and such nimbly, but is apparently used to borrowing mobile rain shelters, and slinks into a corner of the barn on the opposite side of the door from Tam Sin. The youth gets a very thoughtful glance, and for a moment keen black eyes focus on him before the taciturn Strider heads for a dark corner.

Sashenka stands outside the barn, leaning against the open door and watching the wind-tossed trees thoughtfully.

Once everyone's inside, Lucas hauls the door mostly shut on the rain (leaving a bit open for Sashenka) and briskly sets about unhitching the stallion from the traces. He leads the black by the halter to a cleared spot away from the windows and tosses the halter lead casually over a rail. He brings Harebell over as well, then returns to the cart a third time to fetch a handful of empty burlap grain sacks out from under the tarp. With these, he starts rubbing down the stallion.

Sashenka turns her head, listening, and her rain-streaked solemnity gives way to a tiny smile.

Dusty paces Lucas's movements, periodically trying to help, but usually scrambling to get out of the way. After a time of this, he stands clear and clears his throat. "Uh... can I help?"

The smith looks up from ministering to Campion. "Oh! Yeah, actually, the missus says Ah can have some hay. Could you go get about five forkfuls from the loose stuff in the corner there and dump it on the other side of this rail, where they can reach it? Ah think Ah saw a hayfork hanging on the wall by the door." After a second he adds, with a touch of rue, "but keep clear of their heads, okay. Don't want you to lose a hand, there."

Sashenka sidles around the door, shaking the water out of her braids, and breathes in the sweet scent of hay.

Dusty moves quickly to comply with Lucas' requests. He grabs the pitchfork and labors to balance the hay properly. Several tries produce a liberal sprinkling of hay on the path between the haypile and the horses, with little by the rail. Eventually, Dusty gets the hang of it, and in a few moments a sturdy heap of clean, fresh hay rests near the horses' muzzles.

Rennen breaks his usual silence to shake vigorously, drops splattering against wooden walls and floor. He continues to focus most of his attention on Tam Sin and Lucas, nose twitching as he settles himself down and stretches out.

Tan Sin watches Dusty and the smith work. "If I might ask, what brings you this direction Lucas?"

Both horses ignore Dusty, but start to lip greedily at the pile of hay. Arslag has vanished off into the depths of the barn somewhere.

Lucas finishes rubbing down Campion and tosses the sack into the steadily growing pile of damp ones. Then he pulls a hoof-pick from a pouch at his belt and carefully lifts and checks each hoof in turn for stones or debris. At one point the stallion refuses to let him lift a foreleg, and the smith leans his own shoulder into the horse's until Campion relents and lifts the leg. When that's done, he pats the black on the rump, grabs a fresh, dry sack, and goes to work on the mare. At Tan Sin's question, he glances up. "Hmm? Oh, Campion there wants to see the ocean."

Rennen twitches an ear towards the large stallion speculatively. He gives the other twoleggeds in the room an impatient scan, eyes darting from one to the next, like a cat waiting for its box to be changed.

With the horses' needs taken care of, Dusty walks around and around the cart, never touching but peering at every bump and curve, trying to derive what must be beneath.

Sashenka looks up from some private reverie. "Oh?" She looks at the stallion more closely. "Well, it's worth the trip. How far have you traveled?"

"We've been on the road a good couple months, now," Lucas says, "Though we haven't been in any great hurry. We started in the Black Hills."

The tarp over the cart is peeled back a little at one corner, where Lucas fished out the sacks. The corner of a long open box can be seen just peeking out -- it seems to be filled with assorted tools and doodads, things he wanted to be able to get to without unloading anything. Some of them look to be horse-related, others look like they could be used to repair things. A smooth bit of wood has a curve to it that says 'axe-handle'.

After thoroughly inspecting the outside of the cart, Dusty says hopefully, "Um, so you do a lot of blacksmithing? Ever let people watch if they're interested, that is, as long as they don't get in your way?"

Lucas finishes seeing to Harebell and puts the hoof-pick back in its pouch. Then he gathers up the pile of now-damp sacks and spreads them out on the edge of the wagon to dry. He grins at Dusty. "Sure! Ah'm supposed to do some work for Missus Sarah tomorrow in exchange for the use of her barn, so I'll be setting up the portable first thing. It's just mending a couple of pots -- nothing real interesting. But you can come and see if you want." He regards Dusty closely, taking in his funky clothing and such with a carefully appraising eye. "Tomorrow Ah'll have to see to the wagon, too. But for now, shall we all go back to Mizz Sashenka's place? Ah'm starved."

Sashenka smiles. "Ready when you are."

Tan Sin leans against the door, opening it further. He gestures with his free hand to the outside, waiting for the others to step out.

Dusty nods his head vigorously. "Sasha makes the best food _ever_," he states emphatically.

Sashenka chuckles and ducks her head at Dusty's exclamation, then quickly steps out side.

Rennen's head swishes towards the door. He rises and pads out, slinking out into the darkness as cryptically as he came.

Lucas grins. "Ah can't wait." Before he takes up his still-wet coat again, Lucas moves over to the horses one last time. Crouching low to where they are peacefully munching, he places a hand on each neck and seems to say something to each, before rising again. He whistles to Arslag, produces a battered tin bowl from the back of the wagon and dumps a double fistful of some kind of dried kibble into it. "Better stuff for you tomorrow, Arslag," he promises. Then he brushes off his hands and moves toward the door, waving the others ahead of him.

Ursa Diner(#179RAJ)
You step onto a cracked but clean tile floor that was probably once red, but is now a faded salmon pink. A large, rectangular communal table seating about 10 takes up the middle of the floor, with mismatched smaller tables arranged near the large front windows. The long counter in front of the kitchen door sports plates of bread, cookies, and muffins and bowls of fresh wild fruits. Most of these things are not listed on the menu. The counter also supports a large pot of soup, kept warm by a spirit lamp and accompanied by a stack of worn bowls of every color. A small, rattling fridge in the corner holds a selection of juices and cold spring water in reused bottles. Atop the refrigerator is a can for cash donations; next to it is a box for barter payments. Scrawled on the box in black marker are the words "Pay what you can, when you can."
Menu Board
Obvious exits:
Curtain Main Street Kitchen

Kelsey is perched in her usual chair with a book open on the table, but is out of her usual neat attire. She's enveloped in a large fleecy blanket borrowed from the cot room, and apparently wearing nothing else: her feet and calves are bare where they brace against the chair struts. Her black hair is blacker than usual and, although evidently toweled off, is slowly dripping from hundreds of tiny curls, making a sizable wet spot against her back. She lifts her head as the party troops in, wariness replaced almost instantly by a smile. There's the sound of a kettle grumbling to itself in the kitchen, first whispers of coming to a boil.

Today's menu is jotted in white chalk on a large, flat piece of dark grey slate pegged to the wall behind the counter.
Venison Stew
Potato and Mountain Sorrel Soup
Goose-Spinach Custard
Mixed Fruit with Honeyed Cream
Iced Wintergreen Tea
Underneath is the message, "Please help yourself to anything in the fridge or on the counter. Thanks --Sashenka"

Tan Sin scans the menu.

Sashenka steps in, shaking water out of her braids. She brightens when she sees the girl at the table. "Oh Kelsey, hi! You've got the kettle on. Enough water for a few extras?"

Dusty tramps in from outside, dutifully wiping his feat before entering. He sheds the torn plastic bag he'd been using as a raincoat, shakes it outside the door, and folds it over his arm. Remarkably, he appears bone-dry underneath -- not even his exposed head seems to be damp.

Kelsey pushes a few wet strands out of her face and smiles warmly at the woman. "I hope so. Let me check." Clutching the blanket around herself like a sarong, she rises smoothly and slips towards the kitchen, giving the large stranger a speculative glance.

Lucas follows the rest in, ducking his head under the lintel. It's probably high enough for him -- the motion seems to be a habit.

Kelsey pages the room: Gratuitous wet semi-clothed females with App 3. Must be Ratings Week.

Sashenka bustles behind the counter, quickly lifting the lid of and stirring the big soup pot. "So, what can I get for everyone?"

Lucas pages the room: Lucas considers taking off his shirt and flexing.

Tan Sin vigorously rubs a hand through his hair, shedding water. He then hangs his coat up to dry. Doing so, he makes no particular attempt to hide the fact that he is checking out Kelsey's new outfit.

Lucas' gaze follows Tan Sin to the coat rack. He takes off his own overcoat and hangs it next to Tan Sin's on the rack with a cheerful grin. Then he regards the room, evidently trying to decide where etiquette would have him sit. Giving up on that for the moment, he scans the menu. "Mmm. Is that the potato soup? That smells great!"

Kelsey plunks out more mugs deftly and seems used to navigating Sashenka's domain without getting in the way of the spoonmistress. She catches the kettle as it begins to sing and declares, "Hot chocolate, unless anyone's allergic." Pouring up the drinks, she gazes over at the big man and greets him with a bob of her eyebrows. "Kelsey Eisenmann. How do you do?"

Sashenka grins at Lucas, taking a yellow bowl off the top of the mismatched pile and readying a ladle in her other hand. "It sure is. Would you like some?"

The big man smiles. "Lucas Maker. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Ma'am. And yes, please," he adds to Sashenka.

Sashenka ladles up a generous bowl of creamy, pale green soup and slides it across the counter, following it with a napkin-wrap set of silverware. "Have a seat anywhere," she advises.

One of the Shadow Lord's eyebrows starts marching upwards irrepressibly at Lucas' surname. "He makes Lucases?" she can't help wondering as she continues filling mugs.

Dusty scans the menu.
Dusty goes into the kitchen and returns with a steaming bowl of venison stew. He sits at a random table and slurps heartily.

Lucas chuckles at Kelsey's joke and carries his bowl over to an empty table.

Following Dusty's lead, Tan Sin gathers some stew for himself. He then sits down near Dusty and begins eating.

Kelsey pages the room: Kelsey is reminded of something by Sashenka which I had forgotten: cocoa is a rare import. Make the brew of the evening Tea. :)

Kelsey carries mugs to people one at a time, keeping one hand on her wrap for security's sake. "Wild night to be arriving. Glorious, though, isn't it?" she asks effusively as she sets Lucas' mug down and heads back for her own.

Rowan steps into the diner.
Rowan has arrived.

Dusty stops gulping soup just long enough to give Tan Sin an approving glance. "You can bring a deer in anytime, if you ask me. This is great stuff."

"Much obliged," Lucas thanks Kelsey for the tea. "It's been an unexpectedly pleasant end to a dreary day, really."

Sashenka ladles herself a bowl of soup and carries it to Dusty's table. She sets it on the table and then lowers herself into a chair. A sip of soup is followed by a sigh of contentment.

The smith glances at Tan Sin. "A hunter, then?" he says by way of making conversation.

Rowan, hair dripping slightly, pushes in the door, grin rising as he sees the gathering. He hovers near the fridge for a moment or two before getting some water and nodding to the group in general and finding a seat somewhere unobtrusive.

Kelsey drags her chair over near Lucas and perches again, wrapping her arms around herself and blowing on her mug to cool it. "So, I'm sure everyone's already asked you the whole of your tale, Master Maker, and you wish you had it recorded, but if you'll tell me I'll tell everyone else and save you the trouble!" She winks. "Or not, as you prefer. We might be able to give you a story in return, however."
Kelsey looks up as the door opens and sends an unguarded smile in Rowan's general direction.

Tan Sin smiles at Dusty, and then glances over at the newcomer. "At times. And yes, I'd like to hear about your journey also."

Sashenka doesn't add her voice to the clamor, but her dark eyes fix on Lucas with frank curiosity.

Rowan's returned smile to Kelsey is, as usual in this form, both very warm yet also somehow tentative. He looks Lucas over speculatively.

Lucas smiles at the young woman's pleasant attention and politely sets down his spoon. "Sure. Though Ah'm no great teller of tales. Ah'm from further west, near the Black Hills, where Ah was living with a... group called 'Tengri jin Denglu'. That means 'Tengri's Light', or else 'Lamp of Heaven'. They called it that because they wanted to honor all three -- Luna, Lilith, and Helios." He pauses to take a tentative sip of the hot tea, then continues. "Ah was born into the Destrier clan, and Ah was eventually apprenticed to a smith named Berkejin Maker."

Sashenka listens attentively, watching the blacksmith over the top of her tea mug.

Kelsey listens intently, for all that she's missing the context. Perhaps there's a flicker of awareness in her face; she has been doing a good deal of research to catch herself up to date, after all. "A horse-born, then," she murmurs wonderingly.

Rowan mutters, "Huh," to himself, and listens slightly more intently.

Lucas' face lights up at Kelsey's observation, not with surprise, but with pleasure at having certain suspicions confirmed. "Yes, Miss," he nods, smiling, "as was my Master." His glance slides to Sashenka, then to Tan Sin, then the others, gauging reactions. "She passed beyond less than a year ago. The gumi only needed one smith to replace her, and that job fell to Narmanda, who'd been there a lot longer than me." He shrugs. Clearly, there are no hard feelings. "So Ah've come away to find a place of my own."

Sashenka smiles at Lucas as she stands and begins clearing empty dishes. "Well, you're welcome here for as long as you'd like to stay. I have a cot left, if you'd like to stay here." She sets the dishes on the counter and turns back. Don't suppose you know Lumia Cob?"

"Thanks, but Ah'll stay with the others in the barn," Lucas says. At the question, he smiles, "Ah haven't had the pleasure, no, though a fellow in a little village a couple days ago asked me the same question. She carries the mail, right?"

Tan Sin quirks an eyebrow at Kelsey's comment and stares thoughtfully at the smith for a while. When Sashenka makes the offer of a cot he sighs and stares meaningfully at Dusty.

Sashenka nods. "Well, perhaps you'll run into her if you stay a bit."

Rowan adds, quietly, "And we haven't got a smith. Sir."

Dusty nods at Tan Sin. "Oh yeah, we gotta get on that boarding house idea. Maybe tomorrow?" he asks hopefully.

Kelsey sips her tea thoughtfully. "Heya. All I've seen so far is swords. Guns are gone, aren't they?" she asks, a thought striking her.

"Be here another day, anyway, since Ah've got to put a better fix to that wagon," Lucas says. At Rowan's assertion, he looks interested. "Don't you now? Well, Ah've got to at least make it to the coast before Ah turn around and come back, or Campion will have a piece of me."

Rowan quirks a grin. "Who's Campion?"

Sashenka looks over at Kel. "No, 'fraid not. I got shot a couple times in the Hive. Just one silver, though."

Lucas regards Kelsey closely. "No, not gone. Tengri's Light had -- has -- an old artillery piece. Milling the ammo is no picnic, though. And there are small arms around. Never got my hand on any long enough to get beyond the basics of fixing them, though."

Kelsey's expression immediately falters, although she hides it gamely behind her mug. "Oh," she says a little breathily. "Well. Anyway, we need makers for other things. I just wondered."

Sashenka reaches over and pats Kelsey's arm reassuringly. "I think there are fewer than there used to be."

Lucas nods to Rowan. "Campion is a horse who's travelling with me. Kinfolk," he adds. "Ah'm Lucas, by the way."

"Oh, gotcha. Me, I'm Rowan. Spiral Dancer and anchor, 'case you're curious." Grin intact, he adds, "Nothin' wrong with takin' a trip out to the ocean and then coming back. We're just as welcoming when you come back as when you first get here."

Kelsey shakes her head slightly and leans her cheek against Sashenka's shoulder for a moment. "It's not that," she says lightly. "I just don't like people shooting at Mama Bear."

The smith's brows crease into a frown, and he looks at Kelsey and Sashenka. "Shooting? What shooting?"

Sashenka laughs, though there's an odd trembling in it, and strokes Kelsey's hair. "It's okay," she says quietly, with a fond smile. "Mama Bear is fine."

Kelsey straightens her shoulders. "We have ill-mannered neighbors," she says very drily.

Rowan clarifies, "A whole hive of 'em, even. We're... Somewhat on alert."

Lucas evidently missed Sashenka's earlier mention of the Hive. He glances out the window in the direction of the farm. When Rowan clarifies, he sits up. "A Hive? You're at war?"

Sashenka frowns. "Well. We haven't been thinking of it that way, really. Right now, we're sort of shoring up our defenses."

Rowan's jaw tightens. "Yeah. Well. Not officially, but they kind of... Fired the first shot. Couple weeks ago."

Rowan pages: Rowan the paranoid does Sense Corrupter, gets nothing, yes?

Kelsey drains her tea abruptly and sits back.

The smith's whole demeanor changes. "How many are there? How far away?" He's suddenly a sergeant, almost eager, marshalling forces. "Have they any fliers? What local allies?--" then he abruptly breaks off. He runs a scarred hand through his drying curls, and the blue eyes are lowered in sudden self-consciousness. "Sorry, sorry," he murmers. "Old habits die hard. Of course you all have it under control," he chuckles. "Don't mind me."

Tan Sin takes a sip of his tea and looks at Sashenka. "I understand that I am relatively new here myself, and I'm still learning about the situation. However it seems that we may need to seriously consider how we are going to rid this area of these neighbors. All defenses crumble eventually."

You paged the room: 'Lucas is Rank 3-going-on-4, BTW, and it was suddenly very obvious there for a moment.'.

Rowan's grin turns fascinated. And respectful. "Sir. I would think that any help you care to give us, we will gladly take. We have yet to find such information in full, but I would gladly tell you what we /do/ know later, when I have remembered all I can of that place. Would that be reasonable?"

Sashenka nods. "Oh, yes. We accomplished our first goal -- getting some spirit defenders for the Caern -- and I'm afraid we've been basking in that victory. We're going to have to start scouting missions soon, and find out what we're up against. Mr. Maker, any expertise you have to lend would be most appreciated, believe me."

Kelsey says tightly, "We just now got our defenses up, master Smith, and we need more. So." She looks towards Rowan with brow furrowed. "Was it fifty? They're dug in under a mountain, near the next village south of here, yes? They didn't use anything more complicated than a large truck which they seem to have browbeaten a local into using."

Rowan adds, a little grimly, "And guns with silver ammo. And they have some odd spiritual stuff. And some really... Interesting men involved. Guy with a silver arm, primary among them."

Sashenka growls under her breath at the mention of *him*.

Lucas smiles and shakes his head. "Well, the first piece of advice Ah'd have would be to not spill your guts to just any stranger who wanders in out of the rain!" He chuckles. His eyes slide to Tan Sin. "A silver arm? Really? That *is* interesting."

Rowan's grin turns slightly sharp. "You don't' smell of Corrupter. You have a brain. And you use it. Why would I not enlist you to aid us?"

Kelsey smiles thinly. "How do you know we'll let you out of this place alive," she teases Lucas, with a winning smile.

Lucas grins back at Kelsey. "Arslag would come save me," he avers.

Kelsey purses her lips. "Oh. Well, then." She glances at the others. "Anyhow, you're quite right. We're far too trusting. Sometimes." She rises smoothly from her chair and heads towards the kitchen to wash out her mug.

"Ah think now, though, that Ah should go back to Missus Sarah's fine barn and see about getting some sleep. You all will want to talk about me amongst yourselves, and to any folks you've got that aren't here just now, before extending any more invitations." Lucas grins. He carries his bowl and silverware over to the counter, evidently not feeling it his place to wander into the kitchen, then he drops a handful of nails into the barter box and moves toward the coat rack.

Sashenka picks up a few more bowls and cups. "Good night. And good luck fixing your wagon."

Rowan raises his waterglass. "G'night, and you want help fixing it, I'd be glad to lend a hand."

Tan Sin stares thoughtfully after the smith. "Goodnight Lucas. See you later, I suppose."

Dusty awakens with a start from the sound of the nails hitting the bottom of the barter box. He says sleepily "Night, mister, time for me to sleep too," and drags himself off to bed.

Lucas' smile for Sashenka is warm. "Thank you, Ma'am. Before I go, I promised Arslag something better than his old fish kibble... Would you have a bit of that venison left? Perhaps your lad Dusty could bring over some pots to repair or suchlike in exchange?"

Kelsey waves a dishtowl at Lucas as she dries out her cup, narrowly avoiding sartorial disaster. "Good night, master Smith."

Lucas' smile draws an answering one from Sasha. "Of course. And I do have a couple of pots I burned the bottoms out of before I got the hang of this stove. Just a minute while I get that stew." She pops into the kitchen and is back in a moment with a very large bowl. "I'm sure Dusty will be happy to drop by tomorrow."

"Also," the smith continues, "Ah meant to ask before, but then we got to talking about Hives and things... Have any of you by chance heard of a Sentinel named Arrow's Flight? Lanky fellow, and kind of annoying. May have been travelling with a blonde woman."

Sashenka shakes her head as she hands over the bowl, her white-streaked cinnamon braids bobbing about her ears. "No, but I'll keep an eye open for him."

Rowan rises to his feet, heads over behind the counter, and washes his water glass. He gives Kelsey a smile, but in her current clothing, doesn't do much else. "Nossir," he explains as he moves towards the door, "I haven't, but if I do, I'll tell you. If he were to suddenly arrive, want I should tell him you're looking for him?"

Kelsey shakes her head in a silent negative and leans against the counter, expression a little more pensive than it was earlier as she stares off unfocussed for a moment.

"Much obliged. Ah doubt he's anywhere near here, but yeah, if lightning strikes and he shows up, Ah'd like to see him. Or her, the blonde woman." There's old feelings there, in the voice and the blue eyes, messy ones, but the smith hides it fairly well. "'Night."

Rowan tells Sashenka, "I find any useful herbs, I'll bring 'em back, yeah?" and is out the door after Lucas before she can respond. Evidently, he needs a run, as he's soon heard, far off in the distance, howling.