X-DREAMERS [mission 02: the otherworldly bazaar] in Freeform Role Plays Posted July 28, 2018 · Edited July 29, 2018 by Zor Anders [ keaton stop ] The bazaar was, though similar to trade cities such as Amaranthine, more chaotic and brightly colored than he expected. Smelled a lot nicer than Amaranthine, too. A good portion of the people milling around had, like Keaton, appendages or features that normal humans, elves, and dwarves lacked. A few were hardly recognizable as people at all, resembling small dragons, large birds, or other strange creatures more than anything. He wasn’t quite sure why he or any of the other newcomers were there -- no one had given them any kind of list, and encouraging them to come for no reason seemed to be inviting disaster. Someone was sure to get lost in the winding marketplace, at best. That someone would probably be Keaton, who had already disappeared from his side. Anders spun around, scanning around for Keaton in the crowd. There! Anders was moving before he even considered why he was bothering -- Keaton wasn’t his responsibility, and there was nothing stopping him from leaving the dog. Justice’s influence, perhaps. “Keaton, wait!” he called, doubting that it would attract Keaton’s attention. Weaving through the crowd slowed him, but fortunately Keaton seemed distracted by absolutely everyone around himself. Really, there was a lot to see, but that didn’t mean that he had to run off- mew! Anders skidded to a stop and turned towards the source of the sound. A man stood with his back to a market stall, holding a large cardboard box in his arms. His hair was a shade of blue that would have been shocking had Anders seen it a day ago, and he wore some sort of orange headband or hat. His odd appearance didn’t stop there -- his eyes were mismatched, there were small blue tattoos on his jawbone, and two feline ears were hidden in his hair. Far more important than the odd man was the black kitten poking its head out of the box. “Keaton, come here!” he tried, looking over his shoulder to yell at the dog. If it didn’t work, Ray could handle him. The kitten managed to pull itself halfway out of the box, teetering over the edge. The man fumbled with the box, trying to adjust his grip so that he could push the kitten back down, but Anders was faster. Gently, he grabbed the kitten and pulled it close to his chest so that it couldn’t fall, despite its squirming. Mew! the kitten yelled, evidently displeased by the way that its attempts at exploring had been thwarted. Natsuki [ I'm fine, really ] In theory, the marketplace was a terrible place. Nothing had gone wrong during any of the X-Dreamers’ past trips, but that didn’t mean that it was completely safe. The constant flow of people from different worlds made it impossible to track the culture or motivations of the crowd, and there were far too many opportunities to hide weapons. Wings and large cloaks created bulges that could conceal guns, and there was the ever-constant reminder of how many people had powerful physical or magical abilities. Trips to the marketplace were unpredictable, in short, and Natsuki had to be alert in order to keep the group safe. The number of rookies coming along didn’t help matters. In practice, it was almost nostalgic. Not that the marketplace didn't have an air of danger, but when did they ever feel safe? The people, despite how potentially dangerous they were, were for the most part familiar. Some went beyond anything that they had seen in their world, like a man whose head floated a few inches above his shoulders, but Natsuki was used to modified people and gigantic dogs. The horns and strange eye colors were normal. The familiarity of unusual people wouldn’t be enough, but the overall atmosphere was -- nice. Like the farmer’s market that they had managed to visit a few times. A little more personal, unique, cut off from the politics and endless progression of the world. They knew that such a view was unrealistic and tinted by rose-colored glasses, but it was comforting to pretend. They froze for a moment at the touch of Xander’s hand to their wrist. “Thank you, but I’m not going to keel over.” It wasn’t the physical contact itself that scared them -- they were far too used to being poked and prodded for that. They would have to put a little less time into work and put a little more effort into visibly taking care of themself. It was something that they should have learned by now, but habits were difficult to change after eighteen years. Pretending wouldn’t take too much time, and they would still- Exhaling, they let themself be dragged along behind Xander. “I can take… I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” they said, looking towards the tall demonic-looking man. “I’m Natsuki. A pleasure to meet you.” They continued. “I can take him and myself to get food, Xander. You don’t need to come with us if you have other things to do.” They doubted that Xander would accept, but they felt compelled to offer anyway. It was strange and somewhat frightening, having someone that wanted them to stay healthy for altruistic reasons. They kept finding themself looking for a selfish motive for Xander’s actions -- perhaps he simply wanted them to be able to fight well, and didn’t trust them to judge their own body. His actions made that seem unlikely, but at least it was easy to understand.