In the distance, the caravan’s magician heads off toward the edge of the camp. He’s grabbed up a torch, casting his stark features in half-shadow. He wanders out and greets three figures approaching from the city — the caravan master among them.
As Vozhik stops and palavers with Jarrik, the light of his torch falls upon the two newcomers. One is a ruptured silhouette at first, resolving into a callosian covered in long, lumpy protrusions like the back of a Skrajjic rock-lizard. It’s almost uncomfortable to look at, the way his clothes appear to warp to fit his distorted shape. The weight of the crags along his shoulders and back seems to hold him down, forcing his posture to stoop low.
The other is… a collection of birds? A flock of massive, twitching wings? And yet it stands in the vague shape of a man. It’s hard to tell whether there’s a person beneath them.
Jiselmo, rubbernecking all the while, speaks for the rest as attention falls upon this spectacle.
“… What the fuck?”
Ane twists around in her seat, craning her neck to see what Jiselmo’s spotted. When she does, her nostrils flare in anger.
“More people for Jarrik to shove in a hay wagon and ignore, looks like,” she mutters through clenched teeth as she drops her spoon into her bowl with a clatter. She casts a hum in Vasht’s direction, wherever he’s off brooding. Though he’s plenty far from the group, she raises a brow at him with an unvoiced, Do you see this shit?
Vasht, at this point, has switched to perching atop his wagon with his legs over the side. His expression is hardened as he watches Jarrik the distance, shaded under his sweep of wing and hair. Even as Vasht watches this spectacle, he can feel Ane’s gaze upon him. He turns to regard her with his single eye, shining in the light of torches below. He raises his brow in turn, his lips drawn in a stoic line, as if to say, Oh yes, this shit is seen.
“At least he isn’t leading this pair with a group of handlers,” Korin mutters.
The burdened callosian moves and converses, despite his apparent discomfort. The group of wings stands close to him, somehow gesturing and expressing itself under that mess of feathers.
Wila huffs, and mutters, “There may be need to call a moot over this… If he’s building a ‘freak’ show,” she says with finger-quotes, “Then I will be most wroth. Simply vibrating with wroth!”
“So wroth that it gets all over us,” Vila mutters.
“So wroth that we must scoot her up an extra bed, just to get some beauty rest,” Zila chimes helpfully.
“I don’t know what he’s doing. Nelea, have you spoken to Thelorn at all recently?” Ane asks warily, though her gaze never stops shifting between Vasht and Jarrik.
Nelea nods, though the gesture goes unseen.
“He seems to be doing better… We read to him, feed him, and he’s largely left alone.”
Vila scoffs. “The old man must be waiting until he has a full set of us…”
In the distance, Vasht is equally watchful. He’s now standing on the edge of his roof, almost pacing. His brawny arms are crossed, taut with tension. Whenever he looks towards Jarrik, his expression seems to darken of its own volition. He stands like a woethrask on a taut leash, as if he’d charge at the caravan master if Jarrik weren’t in mixed company.
Ane gives a murmur of acknowledgement. “Does he ever mention why he came here?”
“He doesn’t know,” Nelea replies softly.