It is the First hour by the Shadow on Shadowwatch, the 33rd day of Shadowreach in the year 625.

Lightholder Crossroads - Interdistrict Carriage Hub <Palace District>

A small village has sprouted on the edge of the Lightholder River where the cobblestone roads from Fastheld's other prominent districts intersect, in the shadow of Caryas Hill and the majestic gray silhouette of Fastheld Keep - the seat of power for the entire realm.

Sutlers, traveling performers and other small-time merchants ply their trades along this main crossroads - competing for space with carriages hauling passengers, couriers rushing important communiques from one district to another, and the soldiers of the Emperor's Blades who regularly patrol the area.

On the northwest corner of the intersection, next to the road that twists north toward Lightholder Bridge and the palace, sits a large tavern and inn where weary travelers can refresh themselves.

Peanut Stringy blonde hair nearly hides the eyes of the small girl. The eyes themselves are almost enlarged in the skinny face, making the striking gold colour stand out even further. Further enhancing the look of her eyes is a pair of scars, extending from the edge of each eye out to her hairline. Her nose is tiny, and looks to almost connect to her mouth by a verticle scar between the two. She currently wears a dress of green several sizes too big for her with holes and patches everywhere. Tattered shoes, many times repaired complete her outfit, the only part of it to actually fit her.

Chaori Balsam just arrived from the west, dismounted and had her horse stabled. The poor horse looked glad to get out of the rain.

A small shadow moves within the darker shadow at the side of the stable. As the coming noon shrinks the size of the shadow, the outline of the small girl is eaiser to see. Large golden eyes dart this way and that out of Peanut's tiny face.

Chaori Balsam smiles reassuringly at the little girl. "Hello. It's a miserable day, isn't it?"

The young girl's golden eyes widen even further as the woman focuses on her. She crouches back further, looking rather like a cornered cat. Peanut backs up ever so slightly, moving her front leg to the rear. The movement causes the loose fabric of the skirt to part at the many tears, showing tattered legs, with drops of blood still dripping.

Chaori Balsam exclaims, "What on earth?" The woman tries to appear reassuring while being alarmed. She slowly extends her arms out to the side, revealing a white woolen robe beneath her gray leather cloak. "Child, you have nothing to fear. I am a healer."

Peanut attempts to take another step back, but the light rain quickly made the processed ground near the stables slippery, and the young girl slips.

Chaori Balsam hurries over, bends down and offers the little girl a hand up. "I don't bite. Really. Even my horse doesn't bite."

As the woman bends down the young girl reflexively brings her forearms up, on to protect her face, the other her neck. Her hands are open and facing the threat, most likely to show lack of weapon.

Chaori Balsam holds very still. "I'm not trying to hurt you. I'm trying to help you. My name is Chaori; what's yours?"

The bare arms, themselves an odd mixture of clean young skin and nets of faint scars, part ever so slightly, allowing wide gold eyes to peak out.

Chaori Balsam smiles down at the little girl. She is still holding very still.

The wide eyes blink once, and a small voice comes sneaks out from behind the protection of arms, almost like the mewing of a kitten. "Chore-ee?" Chaori Balsam smiles and repeats, "Chaori. What's your name?"

Peanut begins to shiver a tiny bit in the light rain, but rather than move her hands to protect herself from the water, she keeps them as a barrier. "P-p-pia." The small voice cracks a bit at the end of the short name, the strange gold eyes darting across the bits of the square she can see around the woman.

Chaori Balsam replies, "Pia's a nice name. It looks cold and muddy down there. Would you like me to help you up?"

"H-help me wh-where?" Peanut's large eyes fixate rather suddenly on the healer, widening in fear.

Chaori Balsam soothes, "Just to stand up."

The young girl's expression clouds a moment, and she starts to reach an arm towards the young woman. The motion quickly stops long before its destination, and she scampers up on her own instead, adding mud to the mix of scratches and blood on her legs.

Chaori Balsam winces as mud gets into the scratches. "I'm a healer, Pia. Would you like me to clean and bandage those cuts?"

"Ah-I don't have nothin, not a ha-kahar." Peanut seems to be trying to melt into the building, rather unsuccessfully.

Chaori Balsam smiles. "In your case, I'll do it for the low, low price of one smile."

Peanut blinks rather hard. "You mean I don' gotta do sometin for ya later?"

Chaori Balsam smiles brightly. "No. I might ask you to try to keep mud out of your cuts in future, though."

Peanut shrugs, stepping ever so slightly away from the wall. "Don't hurt like that one stuff."

Chaori Balsam replies, "Mud in cuts just breeds disease, Pia. Let's see, where is there a rainbarrel and a dry spot? I have an odd feeling you're going to tell me you don't want to go into the shrine or the tavern."

Peanut shrinks back at the word tavern. "Whats dizzies?"

Chaori Balsam thinks a moment. "Diseases make you sick."

"Like a bucket-brew?"

Chaori Balsam chuckles. "If bucket-brews make people that sick, I'll never swallow one. Aha, I knew there'd be a rainbarrel near here." She slowly walks to a dry spot under the eaves of the stable, just next to a rainbarrel."

Peanut steps a little bit closer. "Its cheaper, less you get caught with it. I think it smells funny." She frowns a that thought, the expression making her face look much younger, putting the girls age somewhere in the 6-10 bracket.

Chaori Balsam remarks, "I'll bet it smells funny." She unslings her healing kit and rummages through it. "Aha, a washcloth. This really will work better if you're near the barrel and out of the wet."

Peanut sidles up closer. The young girl moves almost like a cat stalking its prey. Of course that image could just come to mind from her large eyes and the strange scars on her face.

Chaori Balsam asks, "Could you hold your skirt up a bit, so I can get at the scratches?"

Peanut pulls the skirt up, gathering it around on arm while the other lifts. Her calves are covered in mud, and the scratches seem to end at the knees, but the thin lines of barely healed cuts go up her leg, these seem to be what's breaking and bleeding.

Chaori Balsam softly hisses at the sight and gets to work. Soon the mud is all gone. Then she gets out a small bottle and a bit of cotton. The bottle, when opened, smells more than a little funny. "I need you to be really brave, Pia. This might sting." Chaori makes several faces of comically exaggerated pain while swabbing the barely healed, bleeding cuts with - you guessed it - an antiseptic solution.

Crossroads Healer

Perched beneath a tent at the crossroads is a wizened-looking old woman in white cloth robes embossed with the glowing yellow hand sigil of a Fastheld healer.

Chaori Balsam sighs as she cleans the cuts. "I hate to admit it, but I think we need help." She hands you 25 Imperials.

Peanut looks calmly down as the astringent hits her skin. She doesn't even make a face at it. The sight of 25 Imperials being handed to her brings the look of agitation back.

Chaori says, "Shh, shh, it's for the healer here. I want her to look at those cuts on your upper legs."

Peanut looks down at the said cuts, accidentally droping her skirts in the process. "Oh, them, they ain't nothin. At least they didn't put the icky stuff on it this time." She points the the scar near her eye, which has a strange dark colour, like dried blood, except the scar is obviously rather old and healed.

Chaori Balsam replies, "They're bleeding. What sort of icky stuff got put on that cut?"

Peanut shrugs. "Dunno. But it hurt alot. And the bleedings cus I had to run so the carriage didn't hit me. I shoulda stayed walking, but I couldn't help it." She seems to have over come her fear of the young woman, apparently satisfied that she really is a healer.

Chaori Balsam frowns a little. "Those carriage drivers need to be more careful. Anyway, those cuts shouldn't be breaking open and bleeding. Let's go see the other healer."

Peanut holds back a little bit. "Does the other healer have the icky stuff?"

Chaori Balsam firmly says, "No."

Peanut really is quite young, as she obviously hasn't perfected the Shadow district technique of constant viligance. Now that the healer is directing her, the young girl has stopped watching /everyone/ that moves in the streets.

Chaori Balsam keeps an eye out for rampaging carriages anyway.

Peanut seems to have ended her vilagence only against those with obvious skirts. She shies away from males or those hidden behind cloaks, even on this short walk.

Chaori Balsam walks right next to Peanut, so she can fend off predatory males.

Peanut seems to walk slightly lower to the ground, which is probably what gives the cat like movement. It gives the impression of either hiding or simply trying to make a smaller target out of an allready tiny girl.

Chaori Balsam doesn't tell Peanut to stand straighter. She just walks alongside the little girl at her own pace.

Peanut occasionally jumps a touch and moves closer to the woman, her eyes large as they follow the path of one citizen or another.

Chaori Balsam smiles. "They probably don't bite," she says quietly.

Peanut looks up at the sound of the voice. "No," she whispers, "They do worse things."

Chaori Balsam sadly says, "Oh, dear." As soon as they reach the Crossroads Healer, Chaori says to her, "Elder, would you please look at the little girl? I can't seem to properly bandage her cuts." Chaori Balsam appears very, very embarrassed.

Peanut pulls back a little as they reach their destination, apparently no longer certain that this was such a good idea.

Cilan Lomasa arrives from Interdistrict Carriage Stop - Palace District Cilan Lomasa has arrived.

Chaori Balsam is shepherding a little girl to the Crossroads Healer. She looks rather wet. Wet and extremely embarrassed.

Cilan Lomasa Long, thick ash-blonde hair flows over her smooth shoulders and down the middle of her back. Two large crystal-blue eyes sparkle as they flit about, taking in the sights. A well proportioned button nose graces her face and rests perfectly above her full, pink lips. She is a little over 5'6" and lightly-built for her height. Her somewhat broad shoulders give way to a small waist which in turn flows into nicely curved hips. A blue silk dress and Sapphire velvet corset exentuate her figure and the color in her eyes. A gold Lomasa pendant supported by a thin gold necklace, dangles between her breasts. A thick yet soft Rock wolf stole lays gently across her shoulders, protecting her tender skin from the cold.

Cilan Lomasa walks along the side of the street, casting an appraising glace to the wet duo.

Peanut suddenly looks rather panicked. The young girl starts looking everywhere in the street and backing away from the crossroads healer. Unfortunately the instinct of a young child conflicts with the instincts taught in the rougher areas of Fastheld. The young girl unthinkingly grabs for the hand of Chaori even as she looks ready to run away.

Cilan Lomasa smirks as she watches the two then gracefully strides into the tavern.

Chaori Balsam's answering grip is gentle, yet firm. "Easy, Pia," she says to the child who is decidedly wetter and muddier than she is, "she's just the Crossroads Healer. She's old enough to be our grandmother."

Cilan Lomasa heads into Lightholder Tavern. Cilan Lomasa has left.

Peanut eases slightly, then suddenly digs in her feet, looking up with crinkled eyebrows. "Whatsa granmother?"

Chaori says, "Your mother or father's mother. Grandmothers are wrinkly, with white hair. They love telling their grandchildren stories and stuffing them with sweets."

"I never seen one of those. Are you sure they're real?" The young girl seems honestly confused.

Chaori says, "They're real. I have two of them."

"Oh." She shakes her head, and the dirty hair, half covered in mud, flies back, showing that the thin strangely colored scars near her eyes go back into her hairline. "I don't think we gots those where I live."

Chaori Balsam replies, "That's too bad," while she swiftly studies the scars.

The mud clings and pulls, causing most of the thin hair to pull together in the back. The clean bits might be blond or light brown, its impossible to tell dirt from head. The scars extend from the very corner of Peanut's eyes to about an inch past her ears, one line each. Long since healed, they are a strange dark red color, as if something was placed on the healing wound to cause it to take up colour.

Chaori Balsam frowns at the scars, murmuring, "Those make no sense."

The rain increases to thuroughly drench those still standing outside. The mud slowly begins to wash out of the young girls hair as she lets a leg out for the older healer to see.

Cilan Lomasa arrives from Lightholder Tavern. Cilan Lomasa has arrived.

Chaori Balsam has managed to coax the little girl to the Crossroads Healer. All three of them are becoming cleaner, in a chilly fashion.

Cilan Lomasa gives a curt nod to a few patrons as she strolls out of the tavern and back into the bustling street

The Crossroads Healer bends down to look. "My, my," she says as she clucks her tongue. "I see you cleaned the cuts properly, at least," she says to Chaori. "You say you can't get them bandaged quite?"

Chaori Balsam meekly, blushing furiously, replies, "Yes, Elder. See how the upper ones bleed?"

Cilan Lomasa heads into Under Lightholder Bridge <Palace District>. Cilan Lomasa has left.

Peanut looks with mild iterest, the rain washing the blood away as it forms, even as it cleans her hair. She doesn't seem to mind getting rained on in the least. It may well be the only way the young girl knows to get clean.

The Crossroads Healer takes a closer look at the bleeding wounds. "I see you've put salve on them already. Sometimes there's nothing to do but wait until morning. Bandage them up; I will watch."

Chaori Balsam carefully, quickly bandages up the bleeding wounds. The bandages end up a bit tight.

As the rain washes out the mud and a large amount of the dirt, the girls hair turns a very pale blonde. Without the mud to hold it back though, the hair quickly falls to cover her face, hiding all but a hint of the scars at her eyes. Peanut calmly stands through the administration, though her eyes dart about at the few people out in the rain.

The Crossroads Healer tells Chaori, "That will do." Then she says to Peanut, "Go get dry, eat something hot and try not to move around much."

Chaori Balsam just nods at the Crossroads Healer.

"Uh," Peanut gets a little closer to Chaori, "Chore-ee? Does walkin home count as movin much?"

Chaori Balsam replies, "Probably. I'd introduce you to my horse, but that would be worse. Let me see... "

Chaori Balsam gives you 10 more Imperials. "That should get you as close to home as the carriages will run and back here tomorrow to see a healer."

Peanut's eyes widen. "Nu-uh. Horses like to step on me. I aint gonna. You can't make me."

Chaori Balsam agrees, "Okay, I can't make you. I also can't make a healer not scold you for running around and breaking those scratches open."

Peanut eyes widen, and her voice lowers to a whisper as she glaces quickly at the old healer. "Do healers whip?"

The horrified healers exclaim in chorus, "No!"

Peanut relaxes quite visibly. "Oh. I'll try to stay still. Maybe if I walk through the woods staid of on the road."

You say, "That might work. Are you sure you don't want to come have a bowl of stew with me?"

Peanut eyes widen. "It's like the Shiv, innit?" She shakes her head. "I don't wanna be nowhere like the shiv. You said I was sposta stay still."

Chaori Balsam sighs. "It's not like the Shiv at all. Well, if you don't want to come have some stew and get out of the wet, I'm going to eat some. Good-bye, Pia."

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