"There's time to decide," Nat told Eden, his fingers laced through hers and his arm pumping back and forth lazily to swing both as they left the restaurant. The wanderer appeared as he often did, dapper and vested with his favored trail hat resting atop his head. He glanced at his pretty companion sidelong and often, a subtle smile curving his mouth at the corners as they went. "I don't want to rush myself into a place that I'm not entirely sure about and I want to study the walls of a few of them again to get a feel for how well they'll accept some simple wards. But you did your homework excellently. I don't know that I could have come up with a better list, though trying would take me exponentially longer."
"I feel like some of them were very cold inside, but I guess that's cause they don't have the climate control thingy indoors." She looked up at him as she bounced alongside, her ponytail swinging. She was wearing overalls again, her wings peeking comfortably over the back flap as she bounced along. Eden had climate control in her apartment, which usually worked okay even when Nat was inside, so long as she didn't touch the panel with him nearby.
"That's what the wood stove and fireplace would be for." Nat nodded. "Lisa told me they make these pellets you can burn in wood stoves now for heat. They are very inexpensive and easy to store." For as much as she teased him, his peer on the Duel of Swords staff just as often (if not more) put positive spins on his anachronistic existence and his slow acclimation to more modern trappings. She was good people, for a werewolf. "Plus I can make more warming stones and summer is coming."
The biggest thing for him in all of their investigating two days previous was a strong desire for running water, heatable if it could be managed. It was a luxury he had long discovered he didn't want to live without.
"I like the one that had the big tub. That's good for washing your clothes!" She smiled brightly. A big tub was nice for other things too, but clothes-washing, well... Eden was nothing if not practical. "I just don't want you to be cold next winter."
"A big tub would be nice," he mused, another glance lingering on her longer than it should have before he continued. "I'm on the taller side of things and it's no fun trying to scrunch down into a smaller tub. And yeah, if Miss Vang ever decides to stop doing laundry service, it would be good in a pinch. So, big fireplace. A wood stove for cooking. I'd have to see about an icebox of some sort. The kind that don't run on electricity. We'll figure it out." His smile said that he was unconcerned.
"Back home we put the cold store in the ground. Just in case the power goes down." She swung their hands between them, bouncing along, though letting him lead the way.
"I imagine I could make cold stones too, just as I do the ones that radiant warmth. They don't require a lot of power to make." Turning a corner into the courtyard behind the Inn, Nat paused. The wanderer had felt it before he saw it but let out a curious whuff of a breath when he finally looked at the active portal to Twilight Isle. "Huh. It would appear whatever caused Claire Gallows to close the portals to the Isle before is maybe no longer an issue?"
Eden tipped her head at the portal. It seemed like it was working and available. "Should we look?"
Nat's brow furrowed.
"I suppose we could." Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved his pocket watch to check the time. "It's after regulation dueling hours, so I doubt anyone will be there but I don't think that should stop us from at least sating our curiosity for a few minutes."
Giving her a gentle tug, he started them towards the portal but just before they reached it, his hand slipped from hers and he held it up. "I know it's supposedly a little dated, this line of thinking, but while I would normally say Ladies First, in this circumstance I'm inclined to cross first in the event something's wrong."
Then it was with a gentle cuff beneath her chin and a smile that Nat stepped through.
Eden's lips had parted to try to stop him, but he was gone before she could say anything. Eden stood there watching the portal for a long moment. Should she follow him? Should she wait for him to come back? Eden wasn't sure. She hopped from one foot to the other, staring at the portal worriedly. "Nat?"
Nat's head poked back through a moment later, grinning. "You have to see this!" And then he was gone again.
Her brows lifted, and her worried expression faded into a smile as she went bouncing after him.
On the other side, Nat stood waiting for her with his thumbs hooked into the pockets of his vest. There was an interested smile curving his mouth, first directed at her and then towards what lay beyond. The tables. The cards. The strange tower. He nodded towards the table and beckoned her for him to follow before booted steps took him in that direction.
Her eyes widened and she stumbled towards him. Unlike usual, there was no goblin there waiting for her with a cherry coke. Instead, the setup was entirely not what she was expecting. She couldn't stop staring at the tower. "What is that?"
"I... don't rightly know," he said as he stopped at the table, looking back up towards the tower. "You're much more attuned to things regarding this place, past and present, than I am. But it's certainly interes--" The wanderer fell silent as his gaze dropped to the table with the cards, his mouth pursing as he read the words that had been etched into the wood. HIs smile faded by degrees and, as it did, was replaced by the slow furrow of his brow. "Huh."
Eden stood beside him, looking down. "We have to pick one?" Her head tipped, then she looked up at the tower, then back at the cards.
"If we intend to participate in whatever this is, then I suppose so." In the moment, he seemed less certain.
"It could be fun!" She smiled brightly, lifting her chin to look at him.
"It could be." The longer they remained before the table, the more Nat scrutinized the situation. He looked from the cards back to the tower. Then to Eden. Then to the cards again. Then the tower. It was on that last look that Nat made the decision to open his third eye, to use his Wizard's Sight to get a better feeling for what the pair of them were getting themselves into.
That was a mistake.
It seemed unlikely that he would have been able to put into words what he saw, but for a moment, Nat lost his balance and nearly toppled into Eden before snapping shut his connection to the Sight and giving her a wide-eyed look. "Might be that we should do something, yeah."
When he started to topple, Eden reached out try to steady him, one hand on his elbow, the other on his back. She looked up at him, her eyes wide. "Should I be worried?"
"Probably," he mumbled before shaking his head free of the image. Nat tore his attention from the tower to look back down at the table. He leveled a hard stare at the cards. "I think... it doesn't matter which card is chosen. The point is to choose, not the choice itself."
He looked back to Eden. "Sometimes, not choosing is worse than making the wrong choice. In this case, I don't know that there is a good or bad choice, other than choosing to ignore it completely. I mean, I could be wrong. Would you choose the Sun or would you choose the Moon?"
Eden giggled, her eyes narrowing. "That's a funny question." She looked at the cards, then back up at him. "There are two moons here, you know."
"I do." One corner of his mouth lifted in the beginnings of a smile. "I used to sit on my roof at night when I first got here and stare up at them. It was one of the first true signs that I wasn't home anymore."
She beamed her dimpled smile at him. Then she looked back at the cards, and then the tower beyond. "The sun is just a star, super close-up!" She smiled again, hopping from foot to foot. "I like the stars."
"I've always been fond of the light." They were words to muse over, thumbs hooking back into the pockets of his vest as he considered the cards. "But you know what? The light's always the most beautiful in the dark. Like it's there to remind you of its purpose. To guide you and remind you that there's something better out there. It's what makes stargazing so wonderful, you know?"
Eden nodded in agreement. She looked up at the sky of Twilight Isle, quietly thinking. "The night sky is the best sky because of all the stars."
"The light burns brightest when it's darkest." In that moment, something passed between the pair of them. There were words, of course, but something road on the undercurrent. It was more important than the words. "Two lights in the darkness are better than one. Want to be stars in this with me?"
She giggled and reached to give his shoulder a push with her hand. "I'm already a star!"
"The brightest one I've ever seen!" He laughed. "But I think you know what I meant."
The way she looked at him suggested that maybe she didn't know what he meant. Her brow furrowed.
It was his turn to push her, his smile hitching a little deeper. "Whatever we do, we do it together. Two stars lighting up the night sky."
Her expression eased back into a smile. She held her hands out towards him cupped together. Then she opened them Floating just above her hands were two little points of bright pink light, circling each other.
"See?" His expression softened but the smile didn't fade. Nat cupped his hands around hers without covering up her conjured lights. Drawing in a small measure of will, he released it with a murmur. One of the lights was suddenly wearing a hat. The other had little wings. "Let's do it. Go ahead and pick our cards?"
Well she loved the little lights now! Her eyes lit up and she giggled, delighted. She was afraid to move her hands, but she couldn’t keep her conjuration going for long anyhow, so the little lights began to dissipate. Her smile didn't flag though. She bounced to the table and picked a moon card. Then she stepped aside so Nat could pick one too.
He followed along in her wake and paused. A cursory look was offered to the sun card, due consideration given if only to pay his respects to what it represented before Nat too was picking a moon card. "And there we have it."
Eden smiled brightly at him. Then she tucked her moon card into the front pocket of her overalls.
His own was slipped into one of the pockets of his vest and given a pat. Sidling back up to her, Nat offered his arm. "Do stars like ice cream? I'm pretty sure the truck that delivers frozen goods to the bistro came today..."
Her eyes widen. "I love ice cream!" She took his arm happily, bouncing in place and then starting to move towards the portal again.
In a matter of moments they were gone.
(OOC: Written in tandem with the tremendously talented Eden Parker. Nat and Eden both chosen The Nocturnal Sect.)