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an exploratory vessel is stranded in a dreadfully prismatic bit of space
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(Oh gosh he even has a cute smile in addition to asking good questions and not asking painful ones and being interestingly exotic oh nooooo.)


“Um, not at all! We can start with the ikaroa ponds, I suppose, they’re gorgeous,” he says, moving in the direction of a seemingly blank wall, tapping on it thrice, and looking unsurprised when it turns into a doorway. 


The ikaroa ponds are gorgeous- little fish, varying between ‘black as ink, with glowing sparkles’, and ‘deep gradients of purple and white’, swimming around in elaborate water enspelled to look like nothing at all, with sparkling white and violet and black trees elegantly overlooking it all, and softly radiant lily pads dotting the pond’s surface, in the style of miniature moons. 



He is very appreciative! "We don't have much like this in Oheanri," he says, "Water fixtures are usually like, a running brook - we're a bit weird for a planet, and running water's hugely significant across cultures. Could see this being real popular in Veshiri though, they're fancier."

(He should not have invited Runla. His sister is laughing at him. It's not obvious if you're not familiar with wolves, but she's very wolfishly snickering.)

He elbows Runla when she looks like she's about to ask about edibility, because she's a pest.


Kadlawen is also very appreciative eee-

“Some of our planets are a bit like that! In most systems you have one planet for each terrain, that’s made almost entirely out of that terrain, in addition to the more mixed planets, and sometimes that terrain is ‘rivers’- you- I mean, um, they’re lovely. And- um, I’m being a dreadful tour guide, aren’t I- so, these are ‘ikaroa’? They’re a type of familiar, we rent them from people who don’t happen to find they get along-” 

He elaborates for a few minutes about how he’d arranged for the ponds to come into being- he’s responsible for quite a bit of the palace’s aesthetics, as it turns out, Sasha’d said “I dunno, just make it look nice” when they first settled, and he’d taken to the task with reasonable grace- and how they’d had to harvest the moon lilies from an obscure bog, and how he’d grown the trees with a sprinkle of sanzitania magic so they’d be inherently lucky. Interspersed are personal anectodes- “I actually had to escape from prison, while we were down there, Rakaskem had a miscommunication with one of his sub-states and I’d violated some escort law or another, and I didn’t want to do the tornado thing, it could’ve hurt people-“

It’d be reasonable to conclude that he’d given tours of the place before, though perhaps not with quite the same look on his face, and presumably with a bit less in the way of staring. 


Aw he's adorable.

"Most planets back home aren't all one terrain, Oheanri's a bit weird - not even a planet by some definitions, it's a flat plane enclosed by a dome. The underground extends to another dome, which sometimes has cracks. The name means ' Mighty River' in our biggest trade tongue, there's one enormous river that flows eternally around the plane. I'm a druid, so I was often in charge of nature and ritual related things, while Runla's more of a straight melee type, used to guard against White Beasts, which are a type of monster."

"You only became a druid because it didn't involve talking to sapients," the wolf says with a grin. "Just because you're better now doesn't mean you're not still a dork."

(He kicks her.)


”You seem like a perfectly lovely conversationalist!” Kadlawen assures him. “And that sounds fascinating- everything you say does, really, if you’re a dork you’re the most charming one I’ve met, I’m on the verge of composing poetry about- um, pretend that I didn’t say that- anyways! We should probably stop by the rose gardens next, they’re much less one note than the name implies-“

And, after a short trek over a bridge, and a passage through a waterfall which, inexplicably, doesn’t so much as dampen them, they can reach the aforementioned rose gardens.

The roses are arranged as a solid field, at least an acre wide, of flowers, with bridges cross-crossing above them. Each rose seems to be constantly shedding petals at an unsustainable rate, each in an entirely different color gradient; rather than falling downward, they seem to spontaneously blow themselves up into the air. Those petals then, after arcing about a bit within great plumes, gently blow into an entire river of slowly flowing, technicolor petals, which goes around the field in spirals before eventually disappearing into a tunnel. The whole thing has a nearly invisible glass ceiling, and is surrounded on all sides by what look to be natural, pale rock formations. 

Kadlawen continues simultaneously looking at Ateshai like he’s considerably more prepossessing than their surroundings, and giddily recounting how those surroundings came to exist.


(His sister is radiating 'you two were meant for each other' with a side of 'because you're both idiots.' He ignores her.)

Ateshai is very appreciative, and talks about similar sights he's seen in the wider multiverse.

(He is a Mature person and will not start sinking into the floor like he used to in adolescence, but he will register the attention as a Lot.)


Then they can continue on, similarly, through several different sights of comparable grandeur, before eventually arriving in a relatively plain-looking hallway, and then a relatively plain room.

Kadlawen ducks in for a moment, sends a memo to the several extant news stations of the country about how they ought to cover today’s events (with an emphasis on ‘anyone who the important alien visitors dislike is going to be on Sasha’s shitlist’, prominently- living in an authoritarian state can be so convenient), and then ducks out.


”So. That’s it. For the tour.


I have no idea how your romantic customs work, but if you wanted to go out on a date or kiss or undergo some obscure mating ritual or something I’d be really enthusiastic about that- I’d spend a century in the grasp of the Dessicated Hunter just to see your smile- I’ve only known you for like an hour but everything you say or do just reinforces how great of a person you are-“


Eeeee okay here's the uncontrollable blushing. It's rather interesting on him. He turns brick-red and splotchy.

"You're really fun, too! I wouldn't mind trying? Initial dating where I'm from is often - very low key, uh, differences I've run into - we don't have really long courtship rituals like some places, it's casual, and almost no one does one-on-one closed relationships early on, there's a lot of dating around. If we wanted to be serious you'd need my family's permission, my sister and Captain could count out here - "

"No weddings until it's been at least three years," Runla interjects, tongue lolling out. "My baby sibling is too much of an idiot for anything shorter."

The blotchy gets worse! His ears are probably bright red. "Ah. This sort of thing would be very datey, we might also go see a play or hang out at song circles, or just work together a lot on common chores if we were same community? I'm old enough not to need a chaperone, but it's - if you're being very traditional, we'd have someone looming menacingly to make sure nothing improper happens, and then there's always a big game of managing improper anyways. Uh. In adolescents, at least."



“Goodness- um- you’re also really fun, and we can see plays and everything, and if you want me to do chores I totally can, and you can see as many people as you like- I’m seeing Dato and Sasha and Lalvien, minding if your partners see other people isn’t really a thing here?- and ‘improper’ and ‘wedding’ are both translating weirdly but I’m comfortable with doing as much or as little of either as you like, though I will be very sad if you never want to kiss me and very happy if you do.”


"We. Ah. Customarily save, like, kissing-on-the-lips through full making out and, well, sexual stuff for later in a relationship. Or at least adolescents are supposed to put it off. Proper is 'what you're supposed to do,' improper is doing things you're not supposed to, and half the fun of something for adolescents where I'm from is when authority's saying you can't. A wedding is a dedication ceremony, sort of stating your seriousness before the community, it's usually but not always a prelude to moving in together and sometimes acquiring children. A relationship with a wedding is at least in theory supposed to be more serious than one without, but a lot of people my age skip it, Runla's just being a pest."


“I’m not going to pester you or anything, but do note that you can most certainly ignore custom as much as you feel comfortable with,” he says. “I’m not super sure that we could have children even with very liberal use of magic- um, anyways. You’re cute and great and I like you and I have the rest of the aftergloom free and you can spend the rest of it however you like, with or without me, whether than involves plays or handholding or watching paint dry.”



"If I ever acquired children I'd be adopting, anyways, without free resurrection parentless children does happen unfortunately, or people who just don't want the kid they had. But that's way down the road, my mom can continue pining for grandchildren for a while yet. Are there any date type things out here you'd suggest? I'm usually pretty active, prefer doing things over sitting and watching, so a chance to learn a sport or spar or sing would be nice."


Kadlawen momentarily wonders if Ateshai will ever express a personality trait that he doesn’t find immediately and immensely attractive. What a great person. Eeee. And that smile-

”I’m actually kind of unfairly good at sports- part of the whole ‘roc familiar’ package- so maybe not that, and I’m pacifistic enough that sparring probably wouldn’t be much fun for you, so, um- singing? There’s a neat little place only a few dozen miles away where you can learn these quick group songs, and the regulars don’t mind people dropping in, and it’s secluded enough that we wouldn’t immediately be mobbed.”


"Group singing sounds fun! I guess Runla would get more attention - "

"I'm not leaving my baby sibling without a chaperone, what sort of sister do you take me for?" she asks, then snickers when he sends her an exasperated glance. "You were far too good at slipping chaperones as an actual teen, I need to get my fill in now!" she explains.

He rolls his eyes. "Group singing it is. As long as we don't let Runla join in, she thinks loudness makes up for not being able to carry a tune."

"Howling is a perfectly legitimate artform!" she replies in mock-affront.


“She’ll pass an odd amarok well enough,” he assures. “And I’m positively certain that your howling is lovely, Runla- I’ve never heard it, mind, but there’s no such thing as unappreciable music, only unappreciated musicians.”

He promptly knocks on a nearby wall, and it produces a door to the same courtyard from whence they initially came; he opens it, with a grandiose gesture, bows slightly, and looks up at Ateshai, batting his eyelashes.

”Shall we?”


(Runla preens).

Portal doors, neat.

"Lead the way my good sir," he says mock-seriously.


“Of course, my liege,” Kadlawen replies, with a similar sort of pseudo-severity, and they proceed.

Presuming that nobody has any last minute objections, they make their way to the little clearing, he summons his staff and wand, mutter mutter swish swish et cetera, and then they’re swallowed up by a tornado and spat back out, this time onto the roof of a floating building- or a building on a floating island, as you rather- in a similar style as the ones that they saw earlier.

He traipses down a little stairwell that runs on the side of the building, cheerfully greeting a rose-colored woman- who was, for some reason, tied to the bench she was sitting on- with a chirpy “hello!”

”Oh, hey, dude,” she replies. “Glad you could make it, been a coupla months since you came. Made it just in time, even- I guess one of your whole, like, shticks is luck, makes sense, makes sense. Hey, uh, if it wouldn’t be any trouble, could you stop by my place afterwards? I just got a dog, real old, from a shelter-“

”Um. Okay! Maybe sometime during blooming, instead of right away, so you can go call your neighbors and see if any of them want their pets anti-aged too?”

“Sure, sure,” she says, nodding. 


It's neat they can do deaging on animals. He knows some conservation programs that'd be useful for, if they can leverage the local magic elsewhere.

He's not sure what's with the tying down, but it seems rude and eminently awkward to ask.

He smiles in a friendly way.


And so they go inside, find themselves greeted by a few murmurs and surprised looks, and stand in a circle with an assorted cast of colorful characters- in several senses of the phrase- and they can start.

Shalei,” sings the fellow who seems to be in charge of all this; “Shalei,” parrots everyone else, with varied success.

Shalei iraila,” he continues, to similar response.

He continues on, bit by bit, then line by line, and then everyone’s just singing-

 “Shaliei iraila lashai wapaiä (you tasted once from the fruit of sorrow)

Shaliei iraila lasi wasiä (you tasted once from the herb of joy)

Shaliei iraila lapal wawalä (you tasted once from the tree of trust)

Ra frasa laisir layi waiaiä (and swift blossomed the flower of fear)

Hai fahal hai (why, child, why)

Wai hwapasai hai (why do you cry)

Ferfeita hä rosholar (the storm’s like a snake)

Kara’ai kawaka ro (but you’re still awake)...*”


And so on, and so forth, with the song going over all the different reasons the involved child oughtn’t be afraid (sometimes involving seemingly nonsensical similes) and often repeating the chorus, to the good fortune of those people involved who can’t instantly memorize lyrics. 

Kadlawen- who’s a reasonably good singer, perfect tones and mediocre diction- continues on with his long and storied tradition of periodically looking at Ateshai like he’s the center of the universe, or possibly just a very uplifting minor divinity. They are on a date. Eeee


Dates are amazing! He should do them more often, he's not sure why he doesn't. (Okay he knows and it's because he's really bad at flirting, accidentally is basically the only way he can acquire datemates).

Ateshai is. Not a bad singer? He is good with lyrics and has a nice even baritone and knows what a tune is but isn't so loud that the way his voice doesn't quite hit the mark becomes obvious.

Runla, on the other hand, is a disaster and loving it.


Picking people’s voices out of the overall group’s is a bit tricky, but to the extent that he can discern Ateshai’s voice, Kadlawen thinks that he’s utterly perfect. 

People are maybe staring a bit at what they assume to be a singing amarok, but not enough to be rude- familiars normally only know a select set of a few hundred words and phrases, but it’s not terribly uncommon for one to be capable of mimicry. 

And then the song is done! 

And, of course, there’s another one after that, which is a bit less frantically energetic- not quite a lullaby, but something close- and led by a different person (during which Kadlawen can glance adoringly at Ateshai), and then several songs after that, for which they can sit (and Kadlawen can glance adoringly at Ateshai), and then they’re done!


”Cool session, guys,” says a guy in the singular tense. “Anyone wanna help clean up the place? I always end up doing it, and, like, I’ve got a lindworm, I don’t mind that much, but-“

Kadlawen waves a hand, without bothering to summon his staff and wand, or speak; the chairs and assorted detritus obligingly disappear to their appropriate places, and the floor abruptly looks like it was polished by a perfectionistic army.

”... cool,” says the fellow with a lindworm. “Right, you’re the red sorcerer. Uh, could you help me out with this one thing? I can totally pay you back, just-“

”And I could kind of use some sorcery too, this one bitch totally broke my-“

And Kadlawen smiles obligingly, sighs internally, conjures up a notepad and pen to write everything down on, promises he’ll see to everything in a couple hours, and they can leave.


Two suns seem to be setting simultaneously. It’s stunning


"You help people a lot. It's nice," he comments. "This was really nice, too, I'm glad I came."


“So am I!” he says, beaming. 


Brief companionable silence!

Then, "Oh, should probably mention - I'm a Shifter, which means I can change my face and body pretty trivially. Oheanri type, so it's basically freeform what I can look like. This is my default masculine face, but sometimes I feel more feminine and use a girl shape, or like turning into an animal - sometimes without human vocal chords if I need to just curl up and not talk for a while."

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