In the tavern

Zephyra

Artisan
A ragged and decrepit foxkin in a mud- patched purple overdress makes her way into the tavern. She looks even more filthy than the last time she was about. She hasn't bathed since then. Has she eaten?

She sets down a stack of books on the table, then she pulls one open in front of herself, as if to read it. To her side, she opens a notebook, and begins to write.

Like clockwork, she faces each page for a time, then moves to the next, flips the page and starts again. Her gaze, however, seems to look past the book, and through the table.

The notes she takes are compleatly illegible. While Kai's normal writing is quite messy, this is a step beyond. The squiggles and wiggles she slowly fills the notebook with are total gibberish.
 
Phalaenopsis came into the tavern, the ashy remnants of his latest experiment still marking his face and clothes, despite his clear attempts to wipe or pat them off. He got a drink from Artie, ordered a meal, and looked around for a friendly face to eat with. Spotting Kai surrounded by a mountain of books, he wandered over to sit opposite her while he waited for his food. He watched her for a moment or two as she read and took notes, not wanting to interrupt what seemed to be a very intense research session, before his curiosity got the better of him and he glanced at what she was writing.

It was unintelligible. He'd seen enough of Kai's writing by now merely struggle to read it upside down, but this... He wasn't even sure if there were any actual words down on the pages, let alone if they were coherent. 'Oh, dear...' he thought to himself, 'This, uh... this doesn't look good.'

"Kai?" he asked, somewhat quietly, then a bit louder, "Kai, are you all right? You're, uh, not really taking notes there, so much as scribbling into the book."
 

Zephyra

Artisan
Now close to her, you can see the book in front of her is upside-down, that she's not seeing it at all. She turns to face in Phal's direction. At the raise in his voice, she starts to blink, looking confused.
 
Phalaenopsis's face changed from mildly concerned to massively confused as he noticed that she wasn't even reading the book in front of her, and her blank expression caused a pit to form in his stomach, but he maintained his confused expression by force rather than let the mild fright he felt supplant it.

"Kai, the book you're reading is upside down, and your notes are more or less just scribbles on a page in your notebook." he said, his voice toeing the line between gently trying to coax her out of her stupor and forcefully snapping her back to reality, "I think it might be best if you took a break, maybe had something to eat and drink?" He reached across the table and lifted the corner of the book closest to him slightly, to indicate that if she made no sign of protest, he was going to close it and set it aside for her.
 

Zephyra

Artisan
Kai stares at Phal for a few heartbeats, and she slowly starts to come back to herself. You can see recognition start to fill her eyes.

"Phal?" She blinks again. "Wait, where am I?" He said something about food? She looks about, at the tavern. "I.. feel strange." She lets him close the book. "The last thing I remember is the firepit, and then I was afraid..."

Kai's awareness growing, she suddenly looks down at herself. "What the.. ?" She seems almost disgusted by her state of disrepair. Then she notices how *hungry* she is.

"Phal I.. I think I need to go." She seems a little panicky, though fully here. "I think I.. need to get clean and.. find some answers.
 
Phalaenopsis closed the book and set it aside with one hand, and made a grab for her hand before she could leave with the other. "I think it might be best if you sat down and ate something." he said, a bit more force in his voice, "There will be time for a bath and laundry later, when you've got some food in you. Give yourself a moment to rest and take care of yourself, it looks like you haven't been for the last couple of days."
 

Zephyra

Artisan
Kai looks at Phal, ready to argue, but then decides he's right. She go to the bar and orders a meal and a drink.
 
Phalaenopsis nodded, and cleared a space on the table for her to eat in comfort; he set the books in a neat pile on the chair to his right, and placed her notebook and pencil on top of it. He paused, thinking about perhaps offering her something from his stock of Potions or Alchemy, but remembered that he had left most of it at home in his box; he only had some gas globe ingredients and some healing on him, neither of which he thought would be of much help to her, unless she suddenly decided she'd like to take a nap at the table. He sipped his drink, keeping an eye on her over the rim of the mug.
 

Zephyra

Artisan
Kai eats in silence for a while, taking an occasional sip of her drink. She clears every scrap off her plate, even using a spoon to chase down the last two peas. Finally she looks up at Phal and says, "I guess I was hungry."
 
Phalaenopsis ate his own meal at a leisurely pace, giving Kai her time to rest and eat. He was nearly done when she finally spoke again, and he simply chuckled at her comment. "A good meal can make many things better." he said, "But now that you've had a chance to take a break and recuperate a little, do you want to talk about what's got you so zoned out, or would you rather finish your drink and get cleaned up first?"
 

Zephyra

Artisan
Kai sets down her spoon and says, "I don't even like peas." Kai takes a final drink of her peach-mango juice. "What happened? I don't really know," she replies. "There was the funeral, and then Romilda was at the firepit, and she didn't understand what was happening. So I explained about DAM, and then.. I don't know. I just remember being... so afraid. I thought my heart was going to stop. I felt weak and then nauseated and everything went dark." She looks thoughtful and says, "do you think I got hit with some new type of fear spell?"
 
Phalaenopsis listened intently as Kai spoke, but took a sip of his drink before responding. "I think you're just succumbing to a lot of stressful things happening all at once, and since you don't really have any control over any of them, your brain kind of went into some kind of escape mode." he offered, though even he wasn't really sure if what he was saying had any truth to it, "You need time to process everything going on, but so much happens so quickly around here that it's a struggle to keep up, and when you reach a breaking point you kind of shuts down and just do whatever routines feel 'normal' to you until you're done processing the stress." He ran his finger around the rim of his mug. "At the moment, I think it'll help if you just try to set simple, easy tasks for yourself each day, and then do as many of them as you can manage. They don't have to be anything big, just 'eat breakfast' or 'take a walk' should be fine. And rest a lot, if you need to. Sleep is good for you." He placed a hand on the stack of books, as if protectively. "And no research for a few days. Take a break from trying to hunt down and catalog every bit of information you think will help in the fights, and just give yourself time to breathe and relax. The information will still be in the books when you're feeling better."
 

Zephyra

Artisan
Kai again feels the brief urge to argue, to tell him that she's fine. After a moment's thought, she realizes "I'm fine" is just the reply that means "something is wrong but I don't want to deal with it". She's not fine, or alright, or good. She starts to tear up a little.

"I'm so scared, and sad... and tired." She sighs deeply. "I'm going to go clean up, and then sleep. After that.. probably have a long cry, and sleep some more." She packs up her books and the notebook. "Thank you for... being you. Thank you Phal." She gives him a grateful look, and heads out.
 
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