[05:21] News of Nadani and Serademar's return travelled slowly along the near-evenly spaced watchful front of kavkema Athechelt had set up near the edge of the forest.
Best intentions aside, it was the middle of the day and staying out of the sunlight was enough of a headache without having to look for vague, promising motions near the horizon. Parties willing, there was still the glare of the sunlight to account for. In short, the volunteers – comprising all of the group, although with varying degrees of reluctance and anxieties – were a bit on the sluggish side.
Edaaj's speciality was finding and disabling traps. She was not a Watcher. There was a reason that Watching was something that specialists did, ones that could keep their attention sharp despite the time of day, despite the default of the landscape being that there was no change at all. There was a reason, even, why there were usually Dawn Watchers and Dusk Watchers, separately. Edaaj was neither Dawn nor Dusk Watcher, and she was very, very tired.
Nadani was almost on top of her before she noticed her presence. "Eda!" It's a stark whisper, crisp for how close Ada currently hovered. "I need your help."
[05:37] Edaaj had been staring out at the landscape with a fixed, glassy stare, pupils narrowed against the glare. It stabbed at her eyes, she wanted so badly to close them and keep them closed... but whenever she did, she found it hard to open them again. So she stared.
[05:46] They were all needed to watch. It was logical, it made sense. She couldn't complain. But she wanted to, really badly. She was horrible at Watching, Eche knew that. She found things more more engrossing than landscapes. To keep herself occupied, in fact, she'd been trying to construct a thing in her head, inspired by the rough experience trying to drag Aka to safety – a thing on wheels, that you could put someone inside and roll them around. And, yes, and if it had a roof and walls, you could keep out the light, and possibly Nayabaru...
[05:47] She still hadn't figured out how to make it go. Possibly by sticking one's legs through holes in the floor.
[05:50] Eda was still busily engaged in this mental model when Ada snuck up on her, and she nearly jumped, her feathers fluffing out in surprise. "Ada, what..." She sank back down, deflating, trying to get her voice back into the same vicinity as her brain. "...what?" she hissed, more quietly.
[16:09] "Listen," Nadani prompted, her instinctively subdued voice carrying an urgent tone. "Out in the desert we encountered strange, intelligent creatures, unlike any I've ever seen on Nekenalos before. But the Nayabaru showed up. We have to rescue them," she insisted.
Leave it up to the Dusk Watcher to be visibly wide awake at this hour and full of weird ideas.
In any other cultural backdrop, anywhere where the manifest existence of gods was an accepted truth, she might appeal to the strangers being ambassadors of the gods, and their importance as some kind of test at the very least, but in the framework of Tarnish, her feathers puffed as she tried to reconcile her personal mythological instincts with the things she consciously believed.
[16:10] Flustered, she finally settled on: "They've done us no harm – they don't deserve to be in that kind of danger."
[00:57] Edaaj goggled, clearly struggling to process what Ada was telling her. A whole host of questions clamored in her head. Intelligent creatures? How did she know? From where? Looking like what?
[00:59] Between confusion and weariness, it took a moment for these questions to be drowned out by one very big, very pressing one. She asked it. "Rescue? From the Nayabaru? How precisely do you propose to do that?"
[19:05] Nadani made a soft, but high-pitched sound, but whether out of aggravation or surprise was left unclear. "They're neither omniscient nor omnipotent," she asserts. "Most of them sleep when we're awake. And we already know we can break whatever they build. It has to be possible."
[19:36] Possible... well, yes, Eda knew quite well that it was possible. Many things were possible. It was possible that the Nayabaru would suddenly start coming in out of the Tarnish and have an epiphany and turn into lovely friendly neighbors. This didn't incline Eda to try to make it happen, though.
[19:45] She had always felt that courage was an overrated trait. It got one in trouble. Unfortunately, so did a lack of cooperation in a survival situation; while she was unsure whether to extend this fellow feeling to strange creatures she'd never met, refusing Nadani was not something she felt able to do, especially since it seemed quite possible to Eda that she might run off on her own. She tried to shake the sleep out of her head, and muttered unhappily, "All right. I will do what I can."
[20:21] "We need to find them," Nadani continued, pacing around the nearest tree, keeping one flank lightly pressed against it as she rounded it, her muzzle posture a contemplative one. Judging by her appearance, she was probably burning energy she didn't have the reserves to sustain, but that only helped to underline the urgency of her request. "We need to watch the guards, we need to find out what traps they have. We need to break these creatures out of their prison; you're the best person to manage that. I can Watch and organise the rescue party, I can coordinate our plans, and if there's trouble, I know how to distract the Nayabaru," she said, her determination mingling with a nervous enthusiasm. Then: "We need another Watcher. Where is Idarago?"
[20:38] Eda tried to ignore the realization that all this sounded like it was being made up on the spot and would probably get them all into serious trouble. Plans were not plans if they were made up this fast. "Uphill to the east. He wanted a better vantage point."
[20:41] Ago, yes, maybe he could impart some sensibility here. Certainly he had some interesting ideas, like the things with the smoky quartz.
[21:17] Nadani paused in her pacing to glance in the described direction, her plume fanning, then settling back down. A soft, snorted breath later, her muzzle gestures to move in that direction. "Let's go get him." Wait, hold on – rescue was one thing, but what about sleep? They'd been waiting for Serademar and Nadani to return all day so far – it was well past everyone's bedtime. Granted, if the Nayabaru held captives, it was best to rescue them sooner rather than later, but forgoing rest seemed like a foolish move, if that was indeed the plan.