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 [HC Event] Star Catchers

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 1:27 am



She looked up at Shashka sharply, the instinct to punch her in the face one more time and maybe break something else surging powerfully. Mostly, she was appalled at her crass way of bringing up the name of a dead person she didn't even know and use it as a weapon, as if his life did not matter at all. No respect or consideration either for him, or for Cassandra, who had been going around carrying the guilt of his death. What kind of selfish, spoiled child was this girl?

Cassandra spoke up, voicing Saphira's own thoughts in a way that was much nicer than Shashka deserved, but what she said last actually helped.

"That's a very good idea," she said, standing up. "I only wanted to go together with the rest of you, anyway. Leon and I will be on our way, since you're having trouble trusting him as it is." She directed the last bit to Shashka, then moved to leave the circle.

She saw William coming up to the fire, and headed towards him, but as she passed Shashka, she whispered only for her to hear, "I'll remember that the next time someone is choking the life out of you, you ungrateful bitch."

She shoved past her and to William, then pulled his hand to move away from the group. "Come on. We're going on our own."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 4:30 am


Cassandra - Cassandra - glared at Shaska, an act he wasn't entirely sure the other girl was capable of up until that point, but the content of her statement cleared things up enough for him. In whatever fight Shashka had picked she had invoked the departed as a means of striking a blow. That just wasn't done. Who had raised her to believe that doing such a thing, even in anger, was permissible? His reproachful eyes, like the others, were on her; he didn't see Shashka to be someone to back down that easily, despite Cassandra's attempts, and as Saphira suddenly stood and accepted Cassandra's warning as an offer, neither, apparently, did Saphira. Saphira included him in her statement and he obliged, taking up his pack as she paused to whisper something to the darker haired girl. He nodded to Kitty, leaving one of his rabbits with her as thanks for her attempts at making camp, and moved away with Saphira as she took his hand, quite unused to such physical contact but knowing better than to question it at that point. 

The alliance had dissolved quickly, but perhaps it was for the best.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 5:32 am



Saphira marched past, grabbed Leon's hand, and they were... leaving?

Kitty stared at them, then back at Shashka and Cassandra, and then back at them. What was going on? She couldn't even find the right words to voice her confusion. They were going to travel together, weren't they? That was the whole point of the discussion the previous night. She had spent her time setting up a camp they could share, so they could relax after a hard day of travel. Why had that changed? How had it changed so fast?

The pale-haired girl gaped at the two who were moving away, then back at Cassandra, her eyes desperately trying to convey how little she understood what was happening. They flitted over Shashka, too, desperate to find some kind of mooring now that she seemed so utterly adrift. Her brain couldn't form the words to ask what was going on or make another move, the girl just stood there dumbly, holding the rabbits she had cleaned, shocked almost into inaction. The faces she glimpsed looked upset, tense and emotional.

"W-what?" she finally asked, the question more to the air than anyone in particular. On another day, she would have jumped in as a mediator without he moments of stupor, but she felt worn out after the burial and their trek. It slowed her reactions. She sought Cassandra's eyes, looking for some kind of stability in this rapidly-changing situation.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 6:12 am



"Hah!" she guffawed at the snide whisper. Shashka felt satisfied in herself. I was right about her all along. Her opinion had almost wavered, but this cemented it. "She wants to pretend she was ever-so-gracious enough to come down from her ivory tower and save us all. Too bad she didn't save all of us. If you're going to take the credit, then take the blame, too. I don't owe her a god damn thing." She said this, mostly, to the ground as she stared down at it, her elbows resting on her knees, fists clenched and supporting her face. She knew Cassandra would hear her words though, and she felt righteous delivering them. "And, Leon," she called, "Leave my rabbit."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 6:36 am



At the comment about the rabbit, Kitty held it out. "He did," she replied, her voice quiet and flat.

She tried not to hear the remark about Charles. She knew that had to be who they were discussing, but she tried to pretend that she didn't. Wasn't he buried? Couldn't this be laid to rest? Even with her attempts to block it out and cover it up, she felt like the sanctuary of his rest has been interrupted, his corpse dug up as a spectacle or used a shield. It sat uneasy with her, so much so that she couldn't imagine how it didn't feel the same for everyone else.

She certainly didn't share Shashka's sentiment in this moment.

"I do. I think I owe her and Leon a lot. Maybe they owe me a little. I'm not really keeping a tally," she said, her eyes looking over towards the pair that was leaving. This only made things worse. She had been the voice of "everyone goes together now" once before, but she wasn't sure it would make a difference now. Without Leon and Saphira they lacked knowledge, bargaining, fighting, and hunting skills. Sure, they had some of that among the three now here (although as far as Kitty knew, Shashka would go her own way now), but it was diminished.

Had Cassandra decided to separate from them? Why? What had Saphira done? She didn't feel like she could change it, but she didn't want it to end this way.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 6:52 am



"Thanks," Shashka said, her voice soft to Kitty. She reached out and took the rabbits from her, glancing around for some sticks to spear the carcass on.

"I'm not really keeping a tally."

"Yeah, that's kind of the whole point." She spied one more pointed than the rest and reached out for it, jamming it down the throat and through the other end of both rabbits. "I didn't think any of us were, but leave it to princess whats-her-face to demand payment." Shashka thought about sticking her tongue out in the direction they had left in, but stopped. The girl wasn't even worth the energy it'd take to make the motion. She propped the rabbits up in the fire to roast.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 9:10 am



Her hands tightened around the book until it strained from the pressure, but for once, she paid it no mind as everything crumbled around her.

Despite her words, she hadn't actually thought that the group would split up. After all, allies were supposed to stick together, to grow together, through thick and thin. Not shatter into pieces at the slightest of pressures.

She saw slate-blue look at her, desperate questions unspoken. But Cassandra didn't know what to say, couldn't say anything. As much her heart ached for the close friendship and camaraderie of a group going through a journey together, there was more to it than that. She had seen how skilled those two were. She wasn't stupid, after all. Left on their own, those two would succeed without a chance for any of the rest of them. Without a chance for Kitty to get the star she and her family needed.

Cassandra would take the time to explain properly to her friend later, but for now, she needed to fix this. This, too, was her fault.

"So that's it, then?" she called out to the retreating forms. "Instead of talking with someone, working through issues and growing stronger because of it...You're just going to take the easy way out? Run away and stay alone?" She widened her stance, feet planted. "What about everything we've done together? The wheelbarrow, the burial, the evil highwaymen. You wouldn't have had as easy a time getting Leon out of that place without me being there too. I was the one who tossed you the cloak, I was the one who gave a false offer to join those men just to keep them talking a little longer. Doesn't that show you how good it is to have others around you?"

She didn't know why she felt so betrayed by this. She didn't know them very well, she had to remind herself, but it didn't help the feeling go away.

"I thought we were becoming friends." She had not meant to say that, especially not so colored by the hurt she felt. But now that they were out, she would not take them back. They were true, after all. "Doesn't that count for something amongst all of this?"

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 11:21 am



When Cassandra called after Saphira and Leon, Kitty stood up. She didn't think anyone would care what she had to say. Saphira and Leon were clearly the strongest of the group. If any two people were going to achieve their goals and find the Star Piece, she'd bet her final coin—the one they helped salvage—that it would be them. Especially together. Especially without her. She hadn't been of any help to anyone, and she was no closer to achieving her wish than she had been the night she thought it might be possible.

Was it selfish to ask them to stay? It probably was. She added her voice anyway, wondering if they could even hear her.

"It's hard. We're not very good at being together. We may not be very good at being apart, either. Leon and Saphira are smart. I hope you both make it, if you go. That's really what I wanted for all of us."

For Charles. For the ones who had disappeared. Now they were finally at that magic number, the maximum people who could benefit from what they found. She still wanted it to be her, too. She could work at bone-aching tasks for ten years and never earn enough to afford what she needed. This was her only choice. She wouldn't have come here, otherwise. She didn't even understand what she was getting into when she came here. Clearly some of the others did. Saphira, Leon, even Shashka seemed much more aware of exactly what the Star Catcher journey was about.

But even with that, even with what she learned, even if Saphira and Leon left them in the dust, she'd have to keep going, too. But she'd collapse if she tried to chase after them tonight. They'd have a head start, and they'd probably beat her, but she couldn't give up. The alternative to this ridiculous search just wasn't an option.

"I'm sorry that it's such a mess."
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 12:24 pm



She paused at Cassandra's voice and turned to look at her over her shoulder. Despite everything, Saphira felt sorry for her. What a luxury it must be to be that self-righteous, to have that naivety still. If only she knew how different life in the big city was than her idealized version of the world - her gaze dropped to the item the girl was clutching in her hand - that she seemed to have only learned from story books.

Her expression softening, she spoke, but didn't turn her body fully to face her. "I have no qualms with you, Cassandra. If you or Kitty want to come with us, you are welcome to. But I will not work with someone who is ungrateful, who insults and judges me when all I've done is save her life from certain death, or someone who mistrusts someone based on baseless rumors," she glanced at William, "and disrespects a dead person she doesn't even know just to use him as a tool to win a stupid debate. I will not. Charles did not deserve that. You're welcome to go with us, or stay. The choice is yours. For what it's worth, whatever you choose, I hope you and Kitty succeed."

She left it at that and continued to walk away with William by her side, far from the judgment of people who clearly did not know better and yet insisted they had the right idea of right and wrong. It was probably for the best. They could not possibly understand her, and she was certain they were determined to think the worst of her no matter what.

No one in the city had ever given her anything for free. In order to get anything she wanted, she'd had to fight, manipulate, and trick her way into winning their hearts and support, and she knew even that was tenuous, that she could lose it all in a blink of an eye if she offended the wrong person or someone else offered something better. If her father suddenly fell out of favor with the people. There was no true loyalty in Shadeslake, and she couldn't afford the luxury of friendship and camaraderie if she wanted to achieve something great. She had forgotten that, and she wasn't going to make that mistake again.

The world just wasn't that perfect or easy, no matter how hard these people wanted to believe it was.

All of them knew whose loss this splitting up was going to be. Saphira and William weren't the ones who was going to have trouble separating from them. If Shashka had a problem with that simple truth too, then too bad. That was just the cold hard facts. And briefly, a cruel part of her wondered if that was why Cassandra didn't want them to go. Because that was what she would have done, try to manipulate her to come back.

Saphira smiled, and genuinely hoped the girl had learned to use her wiles and did just that. If so, she might actually have a chance of surviving this journey.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 4:18 pm


Voices sounded at his back, but he did not hesitate in keeping his strides calm and measured and set to Saphira's pace; it was what he had been taught, what he had lived - once a decision was made you owned it, which was why decisions were never made flippantly. He knew Saphira had been raised to believe the same thing and so trusted that her decision was not made on a whim but after careful consideration, and after their conversation the night before, where she made it clear she intended to travel with Cassandra and Kitty even if that meant splitting from him, whatever passed to make her arrive at this choice must have been unforgivable, if quick. Kitty's question echoed his initial thoughts on the matter, but he was sure that Cassandra would fill her in even as he was sure Saphira would provide him with a full explanation. His grip tightened on the Shadeslake Mayor's daughter's hand as Shashka dared suggest he'd stoop to stealing, but loosened again as Kitty defended him, her voice steady but hard to catch as they moved farther from range. He was grateful to her for that. She seemed like a good person; he wished he had known what her King's wish was going to be. Maybe, once all of this was over, he could have gone back to Lorham done something for her towards that end. If he survived. ... if she survived. 

As their conversation continued quietly he stopped listening, the voices obviously not directed towards him, and hoped that Kitty and Cassandra would be safe and head back before they got hurt. 

He hadn't expected Cassandra's call, or the passion in her words. He sighed quietly, keeping stride; what she understood to be taking the easy way out perhaps was the easy way out, but considering everything else he was up against, the suggestion that he was cowardly for not wrestling with whatever issues Shashka had introduced on top of everything else was almost acceptable. He had other demons to fight. Saphira paused and turned to look over her shoulder - he didn't see it, but he extrapolated from other cues. He, however, kept looking forward. Cassandra's reminder of how she had helped free him tugged at his sense of honor, but it was her suggestions that they were becoming friends that made him clench his jaw and swallow, his eyes steady on the tree line that marked the road ahead. Friends -- he wouldn't let himself think on it. If they kept going like they were, they may be able to fully outdistance them as he had done the first night; Kitty and Cassandra had had a late night followed by a morning of hard manual labor; if he and Saphira could walk through the night and into the next morning before they made camp, they could gain a half-day lead at minimum -

Kitty's words followed after, her hope that they made it weighing guiltily with the unspoken ties she had made to her own wish. 

Saphira spoke then, inviting Cassandra and Kitty along again, and despite what future troubles that would cause him, he actually hoped they took her up on that offer. Just the suggestion alone made it obvious that Saphira's reason to leave fell on Shashka only, which fit in with what he understood of Cassandra's character and how the pair seemed to have gotten along before. Her further explanation laid out her charges against Shashka, and it was obvious that she also believed that fighting against that girl's ire was one stone too many. And she didn't even know what she was getting into with him. She started walking again and he again he adjusted his pace to match. 

He had nothing to add. Honestly, in the long run, being a second voice to ask them along would be just as cruel as leaving them now, but he silently seconded Saphira's hope that they succeeded, only in getting back home safe.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 4:44 pm



Shashka felt cold. Everything was coming apart all at once. For some reason, she thought back to her childhood attempt at needlework and fibercrafts. She had been no more than six years old, and was determined to make her Papa a sweater. It hadn't gone well. She could picture it as the smaller version of herself dropped the neatly wound ball of yarn. The more she pulled the thread to rein the run away thing back in, the faster everything unraveled. After all she'd thought she'd learned, she still hadn't changed. She was still someone vulnerable and small who was trying to do well, but who just kept dropping the ball. And now... and now what? Would they leave her? Alone, in a forest, at night? And hadn't that been what she wanted? But that was before. Before she had placed a sliver of her trust in what might turn out, after all, to be the wrong people. She waited silently, trying to ready her soft heart for the betrayal she hoped against hope wasn't coming.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 5:47 pm



A thousand different thoughts raced through her head, coursing like an overflowing river, jumbled and impossible to make sense of any of it.

She heard Kitty's well-wishing of the two, and her heart constricted even more. She had no idea how their journey went from working together to create a homey campfire, to parting ways with harsh words.

Saphira's offer did not help with the racing of her heart. Cassandra understood the anger towards Shashka, especially as the reasons were presented clear as day. She, herself, was not Shashka's biggest fan right now, but that didn't mean she wanted to just leave the girl to fend for herself. Not after they'd all come to an agreement that they'd help each other, that they'd stick together.

But Shashka hadn't been there when Saphira suggested they all stick together. Shashka had happened upon them and was absorbed into the group without much discussion at all. At this point, Cassandra wasn't even certain she liked Shashka. She'd seemed easy-going enough in the beginning but minute by minute she caused arguments and unease.

Regardless, that did not mean she wanted to abandon her. She might not have been there when the discussion of sticking together came up, but they'd accepted her when she came over to them. That was as good as agreeing to let her join the alliance between them all. There were enough star pieces for all of them to get their desired wish and... she didn't want Shashka to end up like Charles.

More than that, she didn't want Kitty to share Charles's fate.

She wouldn't let that happen. Kitty needed that star.

Cassandra moved then, grabbing her belongings and stuffing her book back into the bag. "Grab your stuff," she said. She looked to Kitty, wanting to say a hundred things but there was no time to explain. She hoped Kitty would understand, and hoped she would forgive her for being so demanding without asking her opinion, but it was important they moved as soon as possible. Kitty needed to stick with those two, at the very least. She looked to Shashka right after. "You too. If you want to stay, that's your decision, but I'm going after them, and I think you should come too."

She glanced at Kitty after that, trying to convey the fact that, if Kitty truly did not want this, then Cassandra would listen.

But Saphira and Leon were already falling out of sight amongst the growing darkness of night, and she did not want to lose them completely. "We'll need to move quick." It would be difficult, especially as exhaustion was beginning to pull at her, and she knew Kitty must be in much the same state. But the two retreating forms weren't that far away just yet, and if they moved quickly enough, they could catch up.

She didn't know how Saphira would react to being followed, and she didn't know what she would say once confronted. But she knew that this alliance was important, and she wasn't going to let it fall to pieces like this. There was something here, all of them together. She could feel it.

And she'd figure out how to fix it when the time came. And if Saphira was unrelenting with keeping the alliance whole, then she'd figure out how to deal with that, too.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th August 2018, 7:52 pm


They reached the road and he slowed as he turned onto it so as not to strain their held hands. It still felt odd, to be so intimately connected to someone whom, until yesterday, he had met only once and several years ago, but if she hadn't let go yet he figured it was for a reason; maybe what Shashka had said was just that bad, and she wanted a little support. When even the glow of the fire had faded from the trees around them, he quietly asked, "Are you alright?" leaving the question open-ended, that she may choose to answer with the obvious or give him a little more insight to what happened and how bothered she was by it. He then apologized, hoping her specific mention involving him in Shashka's list hadn't been the final straw, phrasing the apology with enough lightheartedness that she would know he was okay with being made fun of for it: "My grand murderer plan didn't help anything, did it? I regret that it's caused you even more trouble."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 1:12 am



She realized she was still holding his hand once they reached the road. An intimate gesture that she would have never done in any other situation, though at the time it had been a desperate way to take him with her, a subconscious hope that if she physically pulled him, he would not resist. But now it felt awkward and maybe inappropriate, and she dropped his hand under the guise of fixing her clothes and the knot of her own cloak.

"Yes. I am," she replied quietly, then waited as he added his apology. A wry smile formed on her lips. "It's not one of your smarter plans, but it's okay."

There were definitely other ways he could have deterred anyone from joining with him without making him look like he belonged in jail or worse, the butcher's block.

"I tried, you know? I tried being selfless. I tried helping those girls... for nothing. And she just... she just threw it back on my face. And she invoked Charles' name like he was nothing. She said my help wasn't good enough because I couldn't save him, too. How is any of that okay?"

She shook her head. "How naive I was to think someone would appreciate freely offered help. It is true what my father always said, after all. If you give someone an inch, they're going to ask for a mile. And soon..."

She swallowed, looking straight ahead at the darkness of the night. "Soon you won't have anything left at all."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 6:12 am



She felt her stomach drop as Cassandra began picking up her things, encouraging Kitty to go. Her mouth set itself in a straight line, holding in her bitter sadness, and then... she was shocked to find that the girl wanted her to come along. She blinked stupidly for a moment, gobsmacked by the proposition, before snapping to attention, locating her belongings. She hadn't unpacked, so it was easy to grab her meager possessions. "Aren't you mad at her?" she asked as she foisted her pack onto her back. She didn't understand Cassandra and was uncomfortable with this feeling of being adrift. She was blindsided and bewildered. How could she want to go with Saphira and also want Shashka to come? "We could all go together and she just ran off to claim the star for herself. Doesn't that make you angry?"

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 6:45 am



Cassandra told her they were leaving. Kitty moved almost automatically at hearing the other girl's instruction, even as her body feebly protested. It was late. She was tired. Well, too bad. The promise of rest and food already stolen from her, now she had to keep moving. Working through exhaustion was thankfully something the pale-haired girl was not unfamiliar with. Sometimes the farm and the village didn't care if you were tired. Especially not when there was disaster. In a way, this felt like disaster.

She hastily gathered what she had, wondering if they'd bring a partially-cooked rabbit (or both?) or leave them with Shashka (or would Shashka come with them?). She kept the small pot that they had used to boil water out of her pack, in case it needed to temporarily house rabbit as they walked.

Kitty didn't speak, but that wasn't exactly uncharacteristic for her. Her mind was almost empty of thoughts, her motions rote. Maybe they'd rest eventually.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 7:46 am



Adjusting her borrowed flail, Cassandra looked around to make certain she hadn't forgotten anything as Shashka posed her question. Angry? She frowned as she thought about that. Yes, she supposed she was anger, a kind of simmering anger in the background that was masked by the knowledge that they needed to get moving.

"Being angry with someone doesn't mean I don't want to be with them, that I don't still find them admirable or worthy of friendship," she said instead. Flashes of Saphira came to mind, memories of times Saphira had done so much so efficiently. Despite everything that happened, despite the fact that Saphira had chosen to leave them all behind--no matter what offers she'd made, she still did not wait for them to make a decision, which effectively meant she left them anyway--Cassandra still found her to be commendable and interesting. The idea that she might never see her again hurt, somehow.

She shot a look at Shashka. "It was a low-blow you did back there, and I'm angry at you as well. But that doesn't mean I want to leave you for the wolves." She glanced around to make certain everyone had their things before moving towards the edge of the camp, intending to start moving.

"Besides, we stand a better chance of finding that star if we all work together." Unfair, perhaps, when Leon and Saphira showed theirselves to be quite capable without the help of the rest, but that didn't matter right now. There was more to getting that star than just being skilled. There had to be. They might be the most skilled in terms of survival, but Cassandra was certain there must be something that they lacked in as well. No one was perfect, after all.

And why should Saphira and Leon get the star for their own, sharing with only each other as they once promised to share with the rest? Kitty needed that star as well.  

She found Shashka's eyes once more. "Don't use Charles's name like that again. You need to calm down with the antagonistic rebukes. If we're going to work together, you can't constantly attack us all." She paused. "An apology goes a long way, you know. Saphira might not accept it, but it is still right to offer it."

As the group walked, Cassandra set a quick but steady pace. She glanced to Kitty, noticing how the smaller girl still held a pot in her hands and Cassandra's heart twisted. She reached over, offering to take the pot. It wasn't much, not at all, not after everything, but it was something. "Are you okay?" she asked, her voice much softer than it had been.

It was a loaded question, filled with a hundred more questions she couldn't quite put to words. Are you okay after everything that's happened? Are you okay to keep going? Are you okay that I've essentially ordered us all to keep going after a long day?

But she left the question as it was, simple and unadorned, as she continued to set a fast pace following Saphira and Leon's trail.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 8:12 am



"Angry at me? It's just the truth! If she wants to be owed then she needs to see what's fair. If she wants to tally things up, she should realize the group doesn't owe her anything. The scales are balanced. One crazy success, one crazy screw up. Even." She deeply resented the idea of being beholden to someone that she didn't see as having helped all that much. Shashka crossed her arms. "And besides, she broke my nose earlier, in case you've forgotten, and then ran off with lover-boy to claim the star. I'd say I feel pretty damn even, alright. There's no freakin' way I'm apologizing to her. She should apologize to all of us!"

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 8:39 am


She released her hold on his hand before replying quietly that she was alright, and he took down his hood to better see and hear her, the slight smile on her face when she criticized his admittedly short-sighted plan one that he would have otherwise missed. She paused, and then continued, her words explaining her introspection and what had happened. He listened, emphasizing with her point of view and the hopelessness that she felt about the situation. He knew exactly where she was coming from, understood the political viewpoint she had grown up with, and the idea that she believed her altruistic acts were a waste or not good enough felt wrong. 

"I appreciate your help," he refuted honestly, the words quiet but strong. "And I admire what you did for them; Not only was there nothing in it for you, but you also gave them a head start on getting to the Star - you handed them the opportunity to stab you in the back for getting them out of a tough situation, which you must have realized and yet you did it anyway. It's courageous.

As they continued to walk, he tilted his head to the side once as he added, "And as for saving me, maybe you did have other considerations in mind or maybe you didn't, but regardless," he looked over to her, "for that inch I'll walk a mile and more with you."

He changed the subject, looking down at his occupied hand with disappointment. "If we're walking for the night I'd prefer to keep moving, but if we're going to eat this we'd better do it soon," he paused, asking her input, "What do you think? Before or after the next town?"

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 12:52 pm



She gratefully let Cassandra take what they had of the rabbits. It was easier to keep one foot moving in front of the other if she didn't have to concentrate on too many things. She heard Shashka's indignant rant, but Kitty wasn't really listening to the words. The blonde felt too tired for any of that—Shashka's anger didn't spill over to this other person in their weary party. Kitty didn't agree that it was even. Nothing about this entire trip felt even.

Leon and Saphira clearly knew so much. Saphira stopped the bandits from taking her and Shashka hostage. Even though she had jumped in to fight, she hadn't done it because she actually thought she could win. She just didn't know what to do and she had to do something. She didn't know Shashka then, Kitty had simply seen another Star Catcher in danger and reacted. She might have reacted even if it was a stranger who hadn't been wearing their signature blue cloaks. Leon arrived later, but he gave them the information to use the coin so that poor Mr. Cartman wouldn't wind up in trouble for all he had done to help her. And he had hunted—it was one of his rabbits they would eat tonight.

"Yeah," she mumbled in response to Cassandra's question. "No," she thought to herself, privately. She hadn't been okay when she started on this trip. She didn't feel okay now, and she hadn't felt okay since they left the tavern. Last night seemed to have been the only time she—briefly—felt "okay". It might be the last time, for all she knew.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th August 2018, 7:44 pm



Despite hearing every word Shashka said, despite the frustration growing in the pit of her stomach like a sickness, Cassandra focused on Kitty first. She'd said yes, but Cassandra was not convinced by the answer. But she would not press the issue. Not here. Not with someone as temperamental as Shashka so near.

She searched Kitty's face for a moment longer—however much she could see of it in the dark—trying to convince herself that Kitty truly was okay. But then she nodded, accepting the answer for now though not believing it completely.

She shifted the pot in her hands as the reached a road, giving much easier movability, though her muscles still ached at all of the movement, calling for rest. But there was no time. And she wouldn't give in to her muscles. She'd pushed herself past exhaustion for hours in the farm when the need arose, and she could do it again. Better its weight stayed in her own hands, and not with Kitty.

Her growing frustration with Shashka was a good distraction, anyway.

"We do owe her. Just because I personally don't see the point in asking for payment doesn't change the fact that none of us would be standing here right now if it weren't for her quick wit and silver tongue." How was this girl so frustrating? Cassandra wasn't one for violence, but even she could see how punching Shashka in the nose would seem inviting. "When we were brought to the highwaymen's camp, Saphira was the one who gave them payment for our lives. She shared with them some sort of trade route details, something those men found very valuable. Who knows how they'll use such information against her and her city. We are the ones in her debt, no matter what you may think. The very least we can do is beg for her forgiveness."

Cassandra tightened her grip upon the pot in her hands. "When we were in that situation, I told her I wasn't going to leave without her, and I meant it. I'll do the same for you." She looked to Shashka, gaze steady. "But if you keep carrying on like this, you'll find your list of friends much shorter very quickly."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th August 2018, 12:53 am



She realized she never even thought about how letting Kitty and Shashka go first while she negotiated with the highwaymen had meant she almost let the opportunity of catching the star fall to them first. She'd just been so preoccupied with making sure no one else died after the trauma of witnessing Charles' murder... but now that William pointed it out, that could have cost her everything. She had to start reordering her priorities.

"I did not even think about that. I did not even consider the star. At that moment... lives were more important."

It was strange to think at one point in her life she had genuinely not put herself first. What had gotten into her? These girls must be sorceresses.

She looked into his eyes then, considering his next remark, weighing her motivations at the time. His words that he would walk a mile and more with her touched her. It was so... sincere. It was the first time she ever felt someone genuinely feeling grateful and loyal to her, and it was... nice. Gods, it was so nice. To have that feeling that someone sincerely cared and supported her. She almost cried, but she averted her eyes and blinked fast to chase the tears away.

"Thank you, William," she whispered his name, even if no one else was around. "I saved you because I knew who you are. I was trying to save that boy I met so long ago... and the man whom we all will need someday."

If it had been a random Star Catcher... would she have done the same thing? She didn't know. It was a higher risk, trying to free him when it wasn't part of the bargain. The highwaymen could have killed them all if they had been caught. She didn't know if she would have been prepared to risk dying and losing Cassandra's life as well for that. Perhaps she might never know.

"After the next town, I think," she said finally to his last question. "I want to put a good distance between us in case the others don't decide to come. I can't handle any more drama today." Usually winning people was her forte, but that was intelligent city people. She had come to realize that some people simply had heads made out of rocks and she couldn't do much about that.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th August 2018, 5:54 am



"Well, at least someone has some loyalty," she wryly commended. "But, I have to say, your idea of friendship is..." She looked up at the sky, trying to ground herself in the middle of this unnecessary mess. Why are people so stubborn? she thought, without a hint of irony entering her mind. She looked back at Cassandra. "What I'm trying to say is, I'm no expert, but as far as I know, friends don't grovel." This conversation was proving itself much harder than Shashka had anticipated. She was much more used to just being angry until whatever it was that provoked her slunk away, tail between its legs. But this was different. Some small thing had changed in her, and she circled the feeling inside as if it were a venomous snake. Friendship, she mused. She hadn't thought the group to be friends. Just people, traveling together, for the sake of convenience and the granting of their own wishes. Her self doubt fought for dominance over her hope that these people could truly care about someone they barely knew; about someone like her.

Well versed in the habit of asking questions nobody wanted to answer, she blurted, "You don't like me, do you?" and looked from Cassandra to Kitty, hoping despite herself that at least the kinder of the two would say they did.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th August 2018, 11:19 am



Shashka's trailing condemnation of her idea of friendship left Cassandra a little uneasy. What was wrong with her idea of friendship? It was true that she'd never had much time for any truly strong friendships to grow. The person she'd say she was closest to back in Lorham was Kitty, and theirs was still budding and growing. In fact, she couldn't even be certain to say that friendship was always on her mind when it came to Kitty.

So perhaps Shashka had a point. Still, Cassandra was certain she knew a thing or two. Books didn't lie, after all. She ignored Shashka's pointed question at first, to touch back on what she'd said before it. "I'm not saying grovel. Friends should be on a much more even footing than that. But when you attack someone by throwing trauma in their face, you should apologize for it. It's not a weakness to admit you were wrong in your actions."

Then, she focused on the last question, though she was uncertain how to answer. "I liked you better on the road, before you seemingly decided we were all out to get you." she said truthfully. "Truth is, I don't know you all that well, so I don't know if I like you or not. Not yet. But I want to like you. Isn't that enough?"

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th August 2018, 11:32 am



Kitty had been partially listening to Cassandra and Shashka, but she didn't want to interfere. Cassandra seemed much better at handling this impulsive, emotional, reactionary person—although Kitty had done fairly well the previous day, she wasn't tired in the same way at the time. Plus, she trusted Cassandra—trusted that the girl she knew even before this journey would have something to say to try and help. Both Lorhammies knew the values of teamwork, about how it was essential to cooperate even with people whose personalities struck sparks against your own. Their daily lives required so much of it. In a way, that might have been the only useful skills for this journey that they gained from their home.

The question from the tanned girl, her tone suddenly slightly different, although Kitty couldn't pin down exactly what had changed, took her somewhat by surprise. Cassandra answered before Kitty could say anything, and it was as rational as the pale-haired girl would have expected from her friend.

The shorter girl stifled a yawn as she replied. "You've been nice to me. I wish it was everyone."

Even with the trouble Shashka had caused, Kitty certainly wasn't going to voice disapproval. Not so openly. She wanted this to go well. She wanted them to figure it out, smooth things over, and work together. She wanted to find the Star Piece. She wanted a chance at her wish.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th August 2018, 3:32 pm


'At that moment... lives were more important.' Saving them hadn't even been a conscious decision for her; she hadn't thought of the star, just of saving them - strangers, competitors. Following her moral compass she had chanced losing the star and her wish without considering that alternative. It was risky, but he felt like it was risky in the right way. She could have lost everything, but at least she could have looked back and feel like it wasn't for the wrong reasons.  ...Would he have done the same thing were he in her place? He swallowed uncomfortably against the thought, glad suddenly that it seemed he wouldn't be faced with such a dilemma even while feeling like he'd like to know the answer. What one did in those situations was a true show of character, and sometimes he wondered what his really was.

'I saved you because I knew who you are.' Her phrase echoed his thoughts and he hoped he could live up to whatever image she had of him, though the last of her words made his stomach drop suddenly. 'the man whom we all will need someday.' Was he, though? ... and would he even get the chance? 

Honestly the issue of the rabbit was much preferred to continuing down that path of thought, as was a reminder of the lighter (to him) topic of the other Catchers. He found himself half smiling, eyebrows raising as he turned towards her and casually commented, "Finding out the murdering bandit was the one that escaped, taking on a troublesome partner despite the complications he brings with him, attending an unexpected funeral, joining up with a Catcher who had quit once already, walking all day only to make camp and be accosted by that same catcher shortly afterward and leaving your original party to decide what they'd do - your drama limit is admirable; I know quite a few people in Thelline who you've just put completely to shame.

He didn't know why specifically they came to mind, but several of the girls of his year would have thrown a little fit and given up hours ago; that Saphira was not only still here but still in control and moving forward with determination was, honestly, impressive. Especially knowing what her life would have otherwise held for her. Having already told her he could not tell her what he intended with the star, he felt it wasn't fair to ask her what her wish would have been - not so soon, anyway - but that didn't stop him from wondering what it was that gave her that drive.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   30th August 2018, 1:04 am



"Gods, when you list it like that, it has been exhausting. People are exhausting. Do you know the most peaceful time I've had in this entire journey? Those few days when I was alone."

She sighed, half wishing she could go back to it. It was true that after what she'd seen she wanted the comfort of companions, and she did feel there was strength in numbers, but so far it had been her alone against the bear - although she appreciated Cassandra's attempt to help - and her alone working to rescue people - with a little bit of help from Cassandra. If she was going to weigh who was the most useful in getting to the star and surviving, right now Cassandra was the only one racking up points at all, even if it was just a little. She didn't want to consider the others dead weight, but... they would need to step up their game and show what they have to offer if they wanted to keep working together. William at least had his knowledge and unique experience, coming from his background, and she knew he was going to be useful to her the way she was useful to him.

After all, what use was the comfort of companions in the face of life-threatening danger? They needed more practical skills.

Smiling in amusement at his remark, she glanced at him. "Okay, you have to tell me, do you ever just have... girls hanging around you? Chasing you around? Because of who you are? And how stuck up are the noble girls?"

She felt more relaxed now that she was alone with him, feeling more like herself, back in her own element. After all the stress since dealing with murder, bandits, and little brats, she really needed this easy time with an old friend.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   30th August 2018, 4:12 pm


He nodded in agreement, looking forward down the road ahead again. Alone had been his obvious preference; it simplified things, but once it was apparent that they'd be traveling the same way from the same place and time with the same goal and the same drive, it was easier to just go together than constantly wonder if they surpassed you sometime during the night. 

Her request for insight into the girls of his home was unexpected, but he had brought them up and it was a conversation that he did not mind having. Her eyes on him, he rolled his eyes to the canopy of trees above them and replied with an exasperated sigh, "More often than not. No matter what their background, they'd find out the running path for the week and position themselves at key points along the route to wave and giggle - I still don't know what was so funny. There were a few in my year who did a few trials with me, but none of them followed me completely through the years." He paused, considering her last question, "I'm not sure if I noticed," he finally answered, "But then I suppose I'm not the best judge of that even if I had noticed. I can honestly say, though, that I'd be shocked if any of the ones who kept close to home would have ever considered doing this. "Roughing it" and all that," he shrugged.

"But if we're being honest, I would have never guessed you'd be out here, either," he said quietly, "You seemed to know who you were and what you wanted in life even all those years ago; with your background and potential I was honestly surprised to see you," He paused, a worrying thought coming to mind, "Is everything alright in Shadeslake? Has something happened?"

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   31st August 2018, 12:09 am



"No, I suppose they would have no reason to do this," Saphira replied, looking up at the sky with all its stars. She couldn't imagine girls more fortunate than her would even consider making this journey, living off the land and fighting wild animals and possibly die. Truth be told, she didn't really have a good reason for it either, beyond her own selfish ambition. And the more she thought about it, the more she realized that. She had a good life, but she decided it wasn't good enough. That was what it boiled down to.

He pointed out as much, and she kept walking with her gaze forward, wondering if he would judge her if he knew what she wanted the star for. Could she be so bold to ask the King that now, especially when he most likely would be present? Or should she change her wish? But to what? Would he ever even look at her the same way again once he knew? Or would her wish forever ruin the bond they were now building, something she didn't expect she would get to do and something that now felt nicer than the forced bond they would have otherwise? Could she do that to William? Because she had never thought about how this would affect him before. It had always just been... a side note. She just assumed he would deal with it.

But he was a person with his own feelings, and it wasn't fair. Wouldn't it feel better to win what she want honestly? She knew it would feel way more gratifying if he wanted her because of who she was, not because her wish gave him no other choice.

"No... nothing happened. Everything is fine in Shadeslake," she finally answered. "I just... eventually, I decided I wanted more, you know? I want so much more than they've got planned for me. Is that... is that bad?" she glanced at him warily, testing the waters to see what he would think about the idea that she dared to want more than what she had, even if she already had a lot.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   31st August 2018, 4:33 am

She had expected a simple "yes" or "no." Those were the responses she would have given in a situation like this. She was uncomfortably forced to confront that perhaps she did not know quite as much as she prided herself on knowing about, well, everything, and the thought shook her rough determination. So many questions flooded into her head. Was it enough? Should she apologize? She wasn't offended when Casandra said she liked her more on the road. Shashka had liked herself more then too. She was unsure of how to respond, until Kitty piped up and she was washed over with a gentle joy. Nice. Nobody ever really called her that, and it felt good for once, to be praised by someone who wasn't her Papa. "I'm sorry." She hadn't made eye contact when she said it and it had taken some effort to make the words come out. They sounded quiet even in the silence of the night, even to Shashka's careful ears.

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