Xiaodan was loathe to leave the injured woman, even for a short while. But, she knew that she didn't have much of a choice. Her magic healing was only doing so much, and at this point, she needed more. Unfortunately, the only 'more' Xiaodan could think of was more mundane methods of healing. They would probably not be enough - but she was certainly going to try.
Kirinyaga did not give anyone a burden they could not shoulder. Nothing was ever completely coincidental. She had found that woman because she was meant to do something about it, Xiaodan was absolutely certain of that fact. Doing something meant trying her absolute best, anything else would disgrace Kirinyaga. Anything else would be a failing to uphold her end of the chance to balance fate properly. She had killed a man, and now for whatever reason, Kirinyaga wanted her to save this woman.
But she didn't have enough skill in the magical arts. And Xiaodan wasn't sure mundane methods would be strong enough. But she would try. ... Still, she needed more vinegar. And cloth for bandages. ... Maybe honey, if she could get it. Never mind she could probably use some edibles. She was running a little low on food, after all.
Hnn. So this was what got her wandering around the Dalmascan market place. Xiaodan looked a little uncomfortable as she moved passed various stalls, obviously seeking something. Still, she was careful not to make eye contact with anyone or draw attention to herself. It was safer that way.
Ah... this one had vinegar for sale. That was a good start.
This one's for @incendium (http://messiah.kazeshini.net/index.php?action=profile;u=32)
Thus far, despite his rather spectacular blunder, there at the start, Haku had been staying with House Asheron. By staying, however, he merely meant that he had been routinely returning to the house at night, to eat, sleep, and let his horse rest. He called her Xiaomei, actually 'little plum,' not 'little girl,' and he could admit, it was odd he'd sort of named his horse after his sister. Well, Xiaodan was home, in a way their actual home never had been, because unlike everyone else, Xiaodan never had many expectations for him. She'd just let him be who he was, and it was truthfully only in hindsight, that he realized how much he'd appreciated it. There was no sense thinking about it, now. Who knew, where she'd gone, if she was even still alive, now? Word came, her husband had been killed with sorcery, and Xiaodan was nowhere to be found.
Haku was not, at least, aware of some sort of sacrificial rite mages did with women, hadn't heard rumor of one existing, so if she wasn't there, then, most likely, the magic had been hers. Sorcery was forbidden in Jihon, so much so the penalty for using it was death. It was somewhat jarring, crossing national border, and suddenly, the streets were flooded with the soft glow of aura, from posts in the ground, small crystals dangling and swaying in the breeze from the post beam. It was, in a way that normal lights never could be, enchanting, and Haku somewhat regretted Jihon had none of their own. But, magic was different. Magic was different, unknown, wild, in a way the Macenian barbarians weren't, in a way the Galacese forest imps couldn't be, and, as with most things that were different, unknown, wild, Jihon rejected it.
Xiaomei shook under him, apparently annoyed to be standing still, for so long. Haku snorted softly, patting the horse's neck. "Fine," he mumbled in Jihonese, under his breath, sliding out of her saddle. He wasn't sure what he was looking for, but, he felt like he was supposed to be here, waiting for something. What, he hadn't quite figured -
That looked like Xiaodan.
He froze, half in the saddle, and half out, watching the dark haired feminine figure. No, it really did look like her. Haku liked to think, he'd recognize her, even if he hadn't seen her face, even this far away, should he bank on it? What if it wasn't her? Well, he'd apologize, for the mistake, and move on, perhaps a hair more depressed than before; at this point, Haku just wanted to make sure she was alive. If she was, though, why didn't she come home? Yes, sorcery was illegal, and - but it wasn't like Haku had any attachment to Jihon itself, not anymore. He'd watched it ruin too many lives, destroy too much hope, and yet in seeing it, he hadn't recognized what he was watching in the moment. Distanced from it, it came into sharper view. He shook his head, leading Xiaomei over to one of those hitching posts and tying her reins to it, and then scurried off through the crowd. He'd learned to weave deftly. Haku's name meant nothing, here, the people wouldn't move out of his way, as they would in Jihon.
As he came up beside the girl, he leaned to one side, trying to catch a better view of her. She really did look like... "Xiaodan?"
The young woman continued to move through the market carefully. She didn't really notice the shift in presence near her, at first. There were so many people that if there was any particular emotion coming off of one, she didn't notice. Vinegar and bandages down. ... She just needed to stock up on food supplies and honey now, she thought, and that would be enough. Xiaodan thought she had just enough left for both, but things would get a little more complicated after that.
Maybe by the time it was a problem she would find some of the woman's family members. Assuming she had any that didn't condone what had been done to her. Anyway, thoughts for later, she decided. For all she knew, the woman wouldn't survive the next few days anyway. Still, Xiaodan didn't believe for a moment that she'd been led into this for no reason, which meant - to her at least - that there was something she was supposed to do, or to be able to do, that would extend her life. Everyone died eventually, but Kirinyaga seemed to think it was not time, just yet.
... Someone had said her name. Xiaodan's head turned slightly towards the voice, and she found herself staring at a very familiar figure. She could possibly have dismissed it, if he hadn't called out her name. But since he did, it made things far... far more likely to be real. Why was Haku even here though? He should have been at home with his family. Leading his people. She was just a girl who had broken the law over and over again. And finally she'd been caught - that was the simple reality of it.
"Haku." Her voice was quiet, and more subdued than one might have expected of the circumstances. "Haku, what are you doing here?" Obviously confused. She wasn't really sure how to... what to say here. She loved her brother with all of her heart, but he was an Ujal, and that meant if he knew the truth, he would have to kill her.
It really was her. He knew that, was sure of that, the moment she turned toward him. It'd been a bit, since he'd seen her, but it had not been long enough that he'd forgotten what she looked like, the almost ethereal way she moved. Xiaodan was alive, and okay. Some of the tension in his shoulders relaxed. He hadn't even consciously noted that he was worried about it, and yet, fretting over it wouldn't have fixed anything, anyway. It was just as well, that he'd not noticed it. Someone that spoke Jihonese, too; he sounded like an idiot in Dalmascan.
"I - it's a long story," he answered. Truth be told, it was a fairly short story. Haku was not certain he wanted to tell her the truth, though. Given she was alive, the mage that killed her husband had to have been her. That was highly likely to cause complexities, later, as magi often lost their minds, and Haku neither wanted his sister to have to live like that, nor did he have any interest in killing her, either. They'd cross that bridge, when they came to it. In the meanwhile, she'd killed him, and his family had pulled support from Haku being ujal. Ultimately, they'd decided losing their daughter wasn't enough, and as they'd lost their son, it was only right they lost their ujal. Haku'd half willingly stepped down, and half had no other choice. Politics were, after all, quite delicate affairs. Haku had been upset at Xiaodan being missing, but, the rest of the house were another story.
Not wanting to fight about it, he'd just walked away. It didn't matter, anymore. The white stallion wouldn't leave him alone, he'd lost his sister, he and his father kept going circles about regaining his status as ujal, and Haku didn't fucking care. It wasn't anything he'd tell someone else. Maybe someday he'd admit it, to Xiaodan, that, the further he'd gotten, the more time he'd spent as an ujal, the less and less he wanted to be one. Some ujals were decent enough. Others were terrible. Haku was likely somewhere in between, intelligent enough he managed to defend his territory well, and yet... and yet.
It was all water under the bridge, now.
"I'm just glad you're alive," Haku finally said, crossing over and gently hugging his sister. "I was worried. Why'd you not come home? It wouldn't have been easy, but we'd have figured it out." Certainly, they'd have figured something out, and if his father and the house were adamant about following Jihon's stupid rules about stupid magic, well, it wasn't as if Haku was adverse to telling them how far into the darkest part of their lily white asses they could shove it. Xiaodan wouldn't have been terribly pleased by that outcome. But frankly, Jihon could suck a dick and choke on it, too.
Here, Haku had thought Dalmasca had problems.
Was it? Xiaodan supposed it could have been - there weren't many things she could think of that made sense of her brother being in Dalmasca at all, after all. It was both comforting to see her brother again, and not at the same time. She supposed that might be strange, but then... it wasn't as if she didn't have reasons. There were certain implications to his finding her, to his possibly finding out about the truth. Haku wasn't stupid, he could put things together probably without her input.
It was, on the other hand, hard to imagine Haku doing anything that would hurt her. Even... even if it was legally the right thing to do, she wasn't sure he could manage it. Haku had always had a soft spot, where she was concerned. It had caused him no end of conflict with their father. She loved Haku, but sometimes she wished he'd stop fighting for her. She didn't really like the idea of him always ending up in trouble for her. Ah... but she'd never had much luck getting him to stop that.
Xiaodan made a sound that was somewhere between agreement and distress. It was an odd combination, but the Empath shook her head firmly. "I'm glad to see you too." And she was glad to be alive, lucky too. She had decided against the 'for now' that had almost slipped out. Haku wouldn't appreciate it, and would be concerned about what was wrong. And the girl was glad to see him, it was just also a little complicated, in several ways. And also, he had a family, and it saddened her, a little, to think he might not see them if he was here.
She sighed. "I just couldn't Haku." She'd murdered her husband. Maybe he didn't know that yet, but she certainly wasn't a good enough liar to convince them that she had no idea what had killed him, not after the fight they'd had. "I'm sorry I worried you." Her gaze shifted downward, and stayed that way, looking appropriately chastised. "But I thought it would be better. I couldn't have gone home, and if I did, I couldn't have stayed. It was better not to. There was nothing that could be... figured out as you put it."
Or, so she'd believed. Xiaodan still did believe it, mind. There was no flexibility in the law.
As much as it didn't please him to admit it, she was right, in some sense. Their father wouldn't have tolerated her presence, because it would've made it very clear just who it was that had killed her husband (served him right, he always annoyed Haku, anyway-he'd never told her that, but it turned out, his family were worse). And yet, Haku always did fight him over her. It wouldn't be anything new, anything he couldn't handle, to fight him over her, yet again. Because someone in House Tachibana should care about her, as a person, and not a political tool.
Yes, he knew, that was what women were, in Jihon, by definition. They married, they had children, they were pretty, and that was it. In some sense, coming across a full-blown leader that happened to be female, it was sort of eye opening, but he'd never turn on Xiaodan, anyway. Sooner or later, as most magi did, she'd probably lose her sense, too, but he'd deal with that later. With any luck, maybe he wouldn't have to. Maybe he wouldn't have to make the choice, between letting his sister live that way, and ending it. He wasn't holding his breath, but, he could hope.
"You know how it'd have ended, really," Haku said, quiet. "Father would've thrown a fit, and I'd have done something stupid like I always do. Probably, we'd have ended up here, either way. I decided to leave for unrelated reasons, but I'd still have decided you shouldn't stay in Jihon." Sorcery was illegal, in Jihon. And Haku didn't really doubt, eventually, even if it wasn't immediately, Kaneshiro would've outed his own daughter, probably, his excuse would've been something like she'd ruined one political arrangement, clearly she couldn't be trusted to maintain another, or something stupid like that.
Haku knew Xiaodan. She wouldn't have just killed him, for nothing, he did something to illicit that response, but probably, she didn't see it that way.
"Where've you been staying? Are you remaining here, or just passing through?" Screw the mirage horse, he'd likely follow his sister.
Yes, she knew how it would have ended. If Haku hadn't agreed that she'd broken the law and had to be punished, he would have fought with their father. And they both would have been fugitives. And that was precisely what Xiaodan considered to be unacceptable. He'd ended up leaving anyway, and she sort of wondered why - but she didn't ask. That was pushy. He'd tell her if he wanted to. She also didn't protest anymore, though her expression probably made it clear she wasn't entirely happy.
"I suppose it doesn't matter at this point. We're together now." She'd... just leave it there for the moment, and resign herself to that fact. It was a good thing, they were together. That was enough. That should be enough. The circumstances could have been better, but they could have been much, much worse, too.
Where had she been staying. Uh, about that... Xiaodan wasn't sure he'd be pleased with it. With a lot of the things that had happened, he was clearly not thrilled with what had brought her here. And it wasn't as if the place she was staying was the most secure. And yet... and yet she had to go back there. She couldn't just leave the woman fading quietly into the darkness.
"I was originally passing through to the free cities." She explained after a moment. "But... I ended up staying longer than intended. I found a woman, she was hurt badly and needed help." Xiaodan shrugged, a fractional amount. What could she say? It was a silly thing to have done, and yet she had felt drawn to do so. Kirinyaga had clearly wanted her to for some reason.
"I'll show you where I've been staying. But I fear you won't be pleased." It was the best warning she could give, really.
No, he supposed, it didn't matter, terribly much. The whys and hows and whats were, quite frankly, somewhat pointless, now. Surely, she wondered what he had come here for, but perhaps he'd stave off telling her that. She didn't really need to know. If nothing else, she couldn't go back to Jihon; it didn't matter, now, and Haku still wasn't terribly upset by it. He did sort of want his children, soon, perhaps. If he found something more permanent, but, he didn't want to drag them with him, when they were accustomed to eating well three times a day, accustomed to having large tubs to bathe in, bubbles and all, accustomed to sleeping in beds they could've fallen into. It would be hard, for them, to wander, for reasons they were too young to understand. His father was likely spinning tales of how Haku was never coming back, but he'd like to see his father try and stop him.
He'd go back. For his kids, Ashihei and Xiaolian. And then, maybe, he'd never go back. Truthfully, Haku didn't want to raise his kids in a place like Jihon, anyway. The chance of them becoming just like his father, it was too high, for him.
The Free Cities would be a decent idea. Idly, he glanced toward the west, wondering if maybe they should just start over, in the Free Cities, but something didn't feel right. As if, there was something in Dalmasca, still, that he needed to find. A woman? Haku looked only slightly perplexed. Supposedly, all sorcery could heal, and all sorcery could damage; it was a matter of how one used it. "How badly?" he asked, curious, really. It looked like she'd gotten vinegar and such, perhaps it was bad enough, sorcery wasn't doing it? Or maybe she didn't know how, with sorcery. Possible, too.
Livia seemed relatively knowledgeable, about Dalmasca. House Asheron were old, at the very least. She might know a good healer... he didn't mention that, just yet. "... I've been sleeping in the grass, until recently, I'm sure it can't be much worse." Most likely, at least, it was just as bad, and not terribly worse.
There was just... one problem with her being content that they were together, she supposed. He had children, didn't he? She was almost certain he did. She'd been with her husband for a while, certainly, and hadn't really been home. But, she and Haku had kept in touch. Well, adventuring throughout Dalmasca wasn't a place for children, she supposed. They were probably safe at home.
How badly? Hm. For a moment Xiaodan considered how to answer that. She sighed. "Direly." Xiaodan offered after a moment. "She has an infection in the wound, I don't have enough skill to fight it, exactly. She's... alive. She woke up briefly earlier but only for a few moments, and it was the first time in around a week." So... she didn't have high hopes, exactly. But she was still trying. "But she's still alive, and I'm not ready to give up on her. I just... wish I knew what happened, exactly." Why she'd been attacked, who was trying to kill her exactly.
But all she'd gotten in the woman's brief foray into awareness was... a few names. Thetis, was the woman's name. Andreas, Dimitrios. Those were her sons. That was all Xiaodan knew about the woman. It was... not a lot to work with. "Instead all I know is that she's badly wounded and that she apparently has two sons." And had no idea where they were. Of course, trying to find them could be dangerous merely because she still didn't know who wanted the woman dead. So that was understandably risky.
"I suppose it can't. It has a roof at least. It's not too far at least. Did you want to go now, or did you need something at market as well?" She wasn't sure what he'd originally been here for when she'd distracted him, after all.
Ah, of course. Haku frowned, slightly, more in thought than anything. An infection often led to death, especially if it'd been long enough for it to spread. If she'd woken up, though, that sort of boded well for her overall outlook, but not by much. If Xiaodan couldn't fight it off herself, then it was pretty serious. Had it progressed to sepsis? That was likely. He wasn't sure how long she'd been injured before Xiaodan found her, of course. It was hard to say, and really, maybe it didn't matter, in the long run. He wouldn't ask.
She had sons... almost everyone in Dalmasca and Jihon had a house, at least. ... was this, maybe, what he was here for? What had made him keep coming back to market until he'd come across his sister? Maybe. Maybe Kirinyaga thought he could help, too. Yet, Haku was about as lost here as she was, the only people he knew were--unless that was the point. A little spark went off in his eyes.
"Xiao, listen," he said, instead. "I've only been here a bit, but I keep coming back here. It felt like I was supposed to be here. The first person I met here was Alcides, he brought me to House Asheron. They're very important here. Know a lot of people. The second person I came across is you. Maybe I'm supposed to introduce you to Miss Livia. Maybe she knows someone that can help this lady, or, knows this lady, or both." It almost seemed like a bit of a stretch, and yet, it was also the only thing that made sense. The need to be here, it wasn't there when he was talking to Alcides and Livia.
Nothing happened by chance. Clearly, someone up there wanted this woman to live, and clearly, they were supposed to help her do it. And yet, such a dire injury... he wasn't sure he trusted Miss Livia that much, but he hadn't seen any proof that she was cruel. Alcides seemed to favor her, rather a lot. True, some people learned to love their chains, but Alcides wasn't a slave, either. Her blood fighters seemed to love her, too, all of them, none of the house slaves spoke ill of her. Was he willing to bank on her being a decent person enough to put someone else's life in her hands? Even if the woman meant nothing to Haku, she meant something to Xiaodan, and that was all he needed to care. But time may be running out. He wasn't sure how much longer she could stay alive on just their meager skill.
Haku didn't have any more skill at medicine than Xiaodan did. It may not be enough.
Xiaodan was listening. And what Haku said made sense - it came back to the fact that nothing happened by chance. There was always a reason, even the smallest action had a goal that needed to be completed. Everything was important in the end. Still, mortals did not always know what the end goal was, and sometimes it seemed that their best idea of it was far, far from the truth. Still, Xiao didn't have any better ideas than what Haku offered.
"Maybe." Xiaodan allowed after a moment. "It's... awfully risky without knowing who or what wants this woman dead." And a random name without a family name would be potentially difficult to just drop and see what this... Livia thought. Miss. A woman then? Xiaodan had questions but she didn't ask them, her expression thoughtful.
"I'm not sure we have a choice but to take the risk though." No, she wasn't sure of that at all. There wasn't enough time, if they were going to save her. And if Haku had been lead to this place to there had to be a reason. Could it possibly be the woman or did Kirinyaga merely want to reunite them? That was hard to say, because either one was possible. But then... if he did know someone who could help save the woman, maybe it was both.
Well, that wasn't exactly accurate. They had a choice - but the choice boiled down to essentially letting her die or taking a risk to try and save her. There were always choices, and one had to make those that they could live with.
"Perhaps we should meet this Livia before we go to the woman." Xiaodan said after a moment. "If only so we know our next course of action." It was probably better than taking the time to show Haku the woman and where she'd been staying when he wanted to show her to Livia to see if Livia could help at all, or knew someone who could. Because, of course, time was of the essence.
And it would be better to have the choice of whether to show the woman - or whatever help she offered - the place or not depending on how the meeting went.
Haku nodded slightly. He'd thought of that. They had, unfortunately, little idea of what they were delving into, and trusting Dalmascans was generally not a good idea. He had no reason to believe Miss Livia was particularly terrible, though. Potentially willing to break the law, or stick her neck out for a stranger, that was a different story, perhaps. It was hard to say what had gotten the woman into the mess she was in. It could've been almost anything, and perhaps, by helping, they'd be getting themselves entangled in a mess they didn't need to be in. There certainly were enough criminals around here to get caught up in a fight with one of those.
"I've not noted Livia as being particularly unkind," Haku mentioned. "But being not unkind and potentially willing to risk her neck for someone else, those are two different things." Her position was likely to be more delicate than it would be for anyone else, if only because she ran a major house, and she was female. The other houses likely took offense to anything she did much faster than they would any other. It was, perhaps, a very delicate balance her house remained perched upon, and Haku was perhaps a little psycho, but he tried not to be so rude.
Still, she was the only person he knew, and, he felt like maybe he'd met her for a reason. It was just determining what that reason was, that may be more complicated than it ought to be.
"The house isn't far, at least," he added. "... I should go get Xiaomei, though, slight detour. You're usually a good judge of character, anyway." He'd trust what Xiaodan decided. Yet, Livia didn't give him the same impression most other Dalmascans did. She spoke to those of her house as if she truly valued them. Her blood fighters liked her enough they had access to live weapons, and none had revolted. Blood fighters were known to be difficult to control, at least in Jihon.
"Miss Livia owns a blood stable. Her fighters are allowed access to live weapons, and act as house guard. There are usually a few dozen wandering around the grounds at any one time." If nothing else, warning Xiaodan there are blood fighters guarding the house, given how strange that was. No one in Jihon would dare using their fighters as a guard, and he wasn't sure if it spoke loudly of Livia, or of Jihon.
Xiaodan inclined her head slightly. That was true, those were two very different things, and one being true did not make the next one any more likely. Haku knew this woman better than she did, but that didn't entirely make up for it. He didn't know if it was likely either, which meant something like going out on a limb to find out how well this was going to work. It was risky, but not so much as it could have been, she supposed.
A woman. That didn't really make any difference towards whether she would be helpful or not, Xiaodan knew. It was odd to think of a woman in power though, even though this was not Jihon. "We'll see, I suppose. I wouldn't want to cause unnecessary trouble." No, and it was possible a house led by a woman was in an uncomfortable position here, all things considered. Xiao would try not to do that, but on the other hand, this woman and her house may be the only chance for help they had.
It was uncomfortable, the not really knowing part of all this.
She nodded. That was good at least. "Ah, you're right. Let's not leave the poor girl by herself here." Almost amused, but not quite. It would be nice to see the mare again. ... Was she? Well, her empathy could give her a bit of an advantage.
But what she wasn't sure of was how to broach the subject with the woman in question. She supposed she would wait and see how things were presented and go from there. Ah. "... That..." Sounded incredibly dangerous. Xiaodan didn't say that. "Well, she puts an awful lot of trust in them." That was only marginally better, but she was taken rather off-guard by the statement.
"I appreciate the warning." Because that may have been somewhat jarring to find out in the moment.
Of course. Neither would he, but the Asheron house may be their only choice, at the moment. They certainly didn't have the resources they needed, right now, to save someone else's life like this. Most would be wondering why he was bothering, given it was his sister that had gotten into this mess, not him, but he didn't tend to like leaving Xiaodan to flounder by herself. Particularly, of course, if he had some means of helping. It was not perfect, but, it may yet work.
"Seems that way," Haku said, shuffling toward where he'd left Xiaomei. "They're actually quite friendly blood fighters. One's really exuberant, almost a scarily friendly guy. Really tall, blue eyes, think he said he was Macenian. Got this snake brand on his back, not sure where that came from. I thought blood fighters got their brands on their wrists." Haku hadn't seen fit to ask, of course. That seemed... nosy, and he'd already misstepped in House Asheron once, albeit Livia had taken it well, for some reason.
"They all say she used to train them herself," he went on. "Sometimes, in the morning when I leave, she's out sparring with one. Dalmasca's quite different from Jihon, but, I find I kind of like the differences." Every nation had its bad side, though. Even he knew, by now, not all Dalmascans were as kind as Livia. There was, at one time, another House that wasn't terribly dangerous, as well, but Haku had forgotten which one, by now. He wished he'd paid more attention back then, now, to their Dalmascan neighbors. Who would've guessed, though, that he'd end up here? Certainly, that wasn't something he'd have predicted.
Friendly blood fighters. Now that sounded strange, and her expression probably said as much. To be fair about it, they were people too, so it made sense that they'd have different personalities. But it seemed odd that someone who was extremely friendly had been pushed into a position where they fought for their lives all the time. But then, she hadn't ever entirely been able to get behind the whole... blood fighter thing. That was probably part of it.
Snake brand on his back... She sort of shrugged. "Maybe different trainers put it in other places?" But the back seemed like an odd place for it, to be fair. Admittedly it was plenty visible regardless, given what blood fighters tended to wear. So perhaps it didn't matter that his was on his back instead of his wrist.
The idea of this woman being a trainer was even stranger than her being head of house. "That's rather impressive." Was what Xiaodan said instead, thoughtfully. "Some of them are nice, I'm sure." Yes, she was. She was also sure that there were not so nice things that were different about the two. "I'm glad that your time here hasn't been as trying as it could be." Xiaodan really was pleased by that.
"This Livia sounds like a very interesting lady." Xiaodan looked forward to meeting her, though she was also a little nervous.
Ah, come to think of it, that was most likely. Albeit, Haku had found, humes tended to copy one another, and maybe some stepped outside how things were done, but most wouldn't. It probably was just that simple, but, so many things in Dalmasca had deeper meanings, and symbolism he did not yet understand, perhaps it was normal to think there might be more to it, than that. Xiaodan was right, he was likely just overthinking it. It was hard not to, in Dalmasca. The entire country was a mess, and Haku felt like he might perhaps want to understand it sooner, rather than later.
"Probably," he said. "Just kind of odd." He went quiet, getting Xiaomei's reins detached from the hitching post. "Some of them are nice, some... not so much. Fairly sure House Asheron does things just, very strangely, for a Dalmascan house, so I suppose I'm not in a terribly good position to judge things clearly from where I am." Most likely, no. He'd had his issues in Dalmasca already, albeit fortunately they were short-lived because Haku understood the fastest way to a man's heart was a six inch dagger, but that was really not something he was going to tell his sister.
"She is," he agreed. "Up there," he added, pointing at the sprawling cluster of buildings up on the hill, beyond the house with the eagle on its gate. Cassimer, that was their name. Alcides had warned him about Marcus, already. Livia had reiterated that warning. Haku wasn't certain why, but he was at least certain he didn't want to find out the hard way. "The one in front is House Cassimer. I've already been warned not to bother with them. Neither of the ones that warned me were terribly explicit about why. I decided I don't want to find out why."
He started up that way. House Asheron wasn't coming to them, of course.
"Oh I agree." Xiaodan shrugged slightly. Maybe it did mean something else, maybe it didn't. Without asking, it was a bit hard to imagine that they would ever really get an answer. Then again, Dalmasca was something of an explosion waiting to be set off, Xiaodan was sort of coming to really understand that. She'd spent long enough mostly away from people here that she'd only sort of noticed it but... she had here and there. But... well. Xiaodan still didn't entirely intend to stay here forever. Just long enough to make sure the woman was cared for - Unless Haku had other reasons to be here. Then she supposed they'd stay until that was taken care of, too.
Xiaodan patted Xiaomei lightly while Haku freed the mare. "An outsiders view can provide interesting insights to the way things move." Xiaodan offered mildly. Sure, there were things he didn't know, things he hadn't seen or maybe didn't understand because he wasn't deep enough in their culture. But his observations were interesting, and Xiaodan did find them to be useful as she steeled herself to properly deal with the nobility of this place. It was always a little difficult, dealing with nobles. Even if this head of house was female, she wondered how easy this conversation would really be. Ah, and of course the bonus of having to decide what was wise to tell her, exactly.
Xiaodan wasn't really sure still. But... she'd figure it out.
"Well... I can see why. If you've been warned away from them more than once..." That probably said a lot about them. She shook her head. "I'll keep that in mind too." Stay away from the eagle house. She could probably manage that. Chances were she wouldn't approach without Haku anyway, so there was that.
Xiaodan followed behind him, giving the horse a reasonable amount of clearance to one side.
At this point, Haku was just going to be glad he hadn't run into any real trouble. Miss Asheron was kinder to him than she need be, but he was quite thankful for it. Had she not chosen to extend a hand in hospitality, he wondered where he'd be, now. Perhaps on the other side of Dalmasca entirely, but it was difficult to say. The stallion, at least, seemed to be pleased with where he'd ended up, if only notable due to its lacking appearance. Haku didn't mind; the horse was rather quite grating, wasn't it?
"I hear decent things about Lucius Cassimer," Haku mentioned. "It's just Marcus. What's even more complicated, is Marcus seems somewhat popular with some of the ones at market." Ah, and yet, was that true popularity, or the kind of popularity that occurred when one was too afraid to speak the truth? Haku was certainly
no stranger to the latter.
In any case, they got up the hill just fine, albeit Xiaomei was annoyed at having to go back up. It didn't take long to get her in her assigned stall, and unsurprisingly, she happily went to munching on hay. A short nod at one of the slaves that cared for the horses, and Haku headed for the house. "Uh, that building's the blood stables," he mentioned, pointing it out, just in case Xiaodan ended up wandering the grounds after this, too. Unexpectedly wandering into the blood stables might be a bit unpleasant. Strangely, the doors were open. One did not leave the doors open in Jihon, but, well that was Miss Asheron's prerogative. She didn't seem terribly concerned about the possibility of one of her fighters stabbing her. Maybe he'd just trust her judgment. It was easier, anyway, and Haku admittedly knew very little about blood fighters, as it was.
Now, though, he had to find her. He did know, if you found an Alcides, you found Livia; they seemed to go hand in hand. The problem was, he had no better idea how to find Alcides
, either. He squinted up at the sky, a bit, trying to guess the time, and for some reason, he wanted to go that way
. ... that made no sense. Wouldn't she be in her study? Despite his misgivings, Haku went that way, anyway, toward the gardens in the back of the main house. "Apparently, this way." Maybe it'd make sense when he got over there.
if you could pop in when you get a second, probably after Xiaodan, we'd love you k. ]
Xiaodan nodded slightly as she listened, considering what Haku had said about that. Lucius wasn't so bad, it was Marcus. The names only meant a very small amount to her, if she was being honest. She hadn't been paying enough attention to really absorb much about them, because she hadn't really intended to stay here, originally. Ah, so there was that. But it was still interesting that there might be such a sharp discrepancy within a single house. Then again, sons did not always follow in their father's footsteps.
"Mm. Well I'm not sure what the market thinks is necessarily... trust worthy." This was Dalmasca and it was possible he was popular with a certain number of them. ... It was also possible that those people were not good people either, or the fact could be that he was popular only in the sense that he was well known. "... Though, if memory serves they're an extremely rich family so... it's possible they are popular in the market." Markets tended to like people who could give them money after all? Hm. Something to think about.
Xiaodan nodded. "Good to know." Building she should probably not enter, that one. Just because she didn't really know her way around a blood stable, and it was probably better not to go in unprepared. She wasn't much of a fighter herself and she was small and theoretically fragile. She didn't want to end up backed into a corner by someone who could break her in half if they got their hands on her. ... It was surprising though that the doors were open to it. Maybe it shouldn't have been given they were apparently also house guards but... still.
"I'll follow your lead." Of course she would, it wasn't like Xiaodan knew her way around the grounds. Ah, but the confirmation that she wasn't going to get left behind because she got distracted might be nice.
The grounds were pretty, Xiaodan decided. Anyway.
Kassandros had mentioned, only a few days past, now, that eventually, she'd have someone from Jihon. And not long after, she'd get a second one from Jihon. The first one would be male, the second, female. Livia didn't make a habit of questioning him, not anymore. After all, much of the time, he was too right, and when Haku had first made his appearance, admittedly she'd internally rolled her eyes, a bit, but she'd let him stay, despite the slight wording that might be construed as rude. (Livia, of course, was quite used to such things, and hardly paid mind to words, of all things. There were more important things to battle with than ill-thought out wording.)
Thus, when he wandered back to the Asheron estate early, and with a girl in tow, Livia couldn't call herself surprised. What, exactly, the significance of these two was, Livia didn't know - Kassandros hadn't seen fit to qualify all this, and he'd essentially left it at, they were important, somehow, and she should try and be a bit more charitable to them than her gut instinct said to. Admittedly, though, she saw no reason not to be. Haku, despite the initial blunder, wasn't that bad a person, and Livia could appreciate that much.
As it happened, he seemed to know exactly where to go; she stopped, then, somewhere amid the gardens, waiting for he and his uh... did Kassandros call them siblings? Now she couldn't remember, and she supposed, it didn't matter too much. She'd wait for them to catch up, her hands folded in front of her, as often they were, wearing her usual knee-length dress over pants with a pair of boots. She tilted her head, slightly, when they did make it into hearing range of her.
"Hmm, there's two of you now," she said, her tone bemused. "Livia Asheron, pleasure to meet you." Smaller than he was, certainly, but their features were similar, at least, insofar as she could tell. The girl had a bit of a rounder face, but most females did. Men were all angles and sharp jawlines. Unless you were Kassandros Essair, Livia guessed. Even his brothers had sharper features than he did.