Gold for a Dragonfly

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  • Dagda, Bafaloukos
  • Halyard Antiques

It's a fine morning in Halyard, and Dagda is out and about in his civilian clothes, 'enjoying' the crisp, late winter air before the resurgence of Spring. The gray woolen coat around his body reflects the gray tint to the sky behind him, framed by the doorway as he enters the shop, the little bell hanging from the back of the door jingling vigorously as it bangs shut. The shop is relatively empty, but for the handful of wares scattering the shelves, knick-knacks and trinkets from a dozen corners of the world posing as more important artifacts. Long gray ears swivel about, but seeing no one in the shop manning the counter, he turns to leave, pulling the door half-open.

At the first ding of the bell, nothing stirs. Not even a moth. But when the hare yanks the door again, this second jingling is answered with a grunt, though the vocalist remains hidden. Another glance around the shop reveals... a boot. It appears something--somebody--is on the floor back there. The shoe withdraws from sight as its owner chokes on a sleep-dried throat, and then a grim gray hand takes hold of the countertop. Horror! [Bafaloukos]

The healer's instinct can't be fully repressed, even when the clawing grasp emerges atop the counter. The choking sound, the prone position, the claws themselves, all probably indicate a vermin drunk on... well, drunkenness. But it could be something more/worse, and so Dagda holds at the door, unable to simply walk out onto the street. "Y' alrigh' back there?" he calls, not quite gently but not harshly either.

A dubious pause follows, as if the monster behind the counter was considering whether he should simply return to the peaceful chill of floor planks. But the hand on the worktop tenses, an indication of weight laid upon it; another cough, then the clamor of an overturned money box, and a huge vulpine head crests the rim of the counter. Golden eyes watch as one of the coins rolls at a leisurely pace toward Dagda's toe, miraculously dodging furniture legs and imperfections in the old wood. When the coin is six or so inches from the healer, its momentum fails, and it begins to make a wobbly circle. Bafaloukos remains silent, but bobs much like the coin.

"Y'alrigh'?" Dagda repeats, paw still resting on the doorknob, his right side tense as it holds the weight of the portal from swinging closed, his chin held over his shoulder as he looks towards the fox staring blearily in his direction. In the silence that follows, he blinks a few times, then sends another question quickly after his first. "Are y'open?"

Bafaloukos sucks a glob of phlegm from throat to mouth with a nasal honk, coming to full height. The fellow is big, for sure, but the ready vices of city living and career criminality have taken their toll: His auburn mane is dull and extra brittle with sea salt. His whiskers are kinked, overgrown. His lips are cracked. The light in his gold stare is guttering. Though Dagda stands just a short distance from him, the fox acts oblivious to the company. Moving from behind the counter, he turns for a tarnished spittoon, offloads the gunk in his mouth, and gingerly rubs at a problem spot in his lower back. Then a loud stretch--crackling vertebrae and superfluous male moaning. Today hurts. But now Bafaloukos is awake. "Always," he responds, finally acknowledging the healer. "... and always. What business 'ave ye'?"

"Jus' browsin'," Dagda returns, after the full display of just how much Bafaloukos suffers through on a daily basis, the agony of which would surely have laid a lesser beast in the grave many seasons ago. "It's a shop, isn' it?" The buck manages a grin, even putting a bit of cheek into it, as he lets the door slowly return to its frame and steps back towards the interior of the room, angling towards the shelves and away from the fox. He's a Halyard brat, born and raised, despite the passage of time and advancement in the Patrol, and those who haven't seen him in green don't think much of him in gray. It comes with the upbringing, really.

Bafaloukos dips his big head in a nod, affirming the hare's suspicion that this is indeed a shop. He either chooses to ignore the grin, or it legitimately escapes him, because the fox turns to his own murky reflection in a mirror. Tremulous hands set to work, removing gunk from here and calming rankled tufts of fur there. When he pivots to face Dagda again, Bafaloukos has reclaimed some of his dignity--in appearance, at least. He stinks like an ambulant distillery. "Browsin'? We ain't a museum, hoss." Now he begins to collect the strewn coinage from the floor. This task eventually puts him right next to Dagda, as he stoops to snag that renegade silver. When he rises again, the fox holds the coin between them. "Ye' got this? Mon-ee, honey? No? Then ye' can walk. I'm a busy man who's no time t' shepherd sticky fingered natives t'day."

"I thought we'd jus' covahed this was a shop an' not a museum," Dagda replies flatly, apparently unamused by the implications cast his way from the todd's mouth and the way he's fingering that coin. It may also have to do with the stench rolling off of Bafa in waves of rank odiferosity. Which is a new word to describe the ferocity of his odor. "I've got th' /coin,/ but till I /browse/ y' ain't gettin' any."

Customer service at the shop has rapidly deteriorated over the months. When the hare counters Bafaloukos' grump with a flippancy that comes so easy to their kind, a chunk of hair pops back up on the fox's aching head. He pins it down with a palm, decrying lapine impudence with such scoundrel platitudes as "shut if ye' know what's good for ye'" and "two of yer cousins fer breakfast." But he does step aside, moving his hand in a gesture that clears Dagda to commence browsing.

For all of his belly-aching, Dagda doesn't spend too long at the horrid "browsing" activity, and before long he's marching over to the front counter, a trinket in tow. It's a small, gilded pin, shaped like a dragonfly and smattered with some precious stones. "How much f' this, then?" The buck sets it carefully on the counter, fingers mindful of the apparently delicate form or maybe just overly reverential of such things as 'jewelry' and 'art.'

At least this one was quick about it. Bafaloukos has run out of patience for harewives who hem and haw for hours over treasures as fake as his smile. Following Dagda to the counter, the fox examines the chosen trinket. "This one, ye' see, is somethin' extra unique," he says, breath sharp as high wine. "Liberated nigh on two cen'tries ago from the troves o' a great pirate king by a bloke not unlike yerself, wantin' to win the 'eart of a blue-eyed maiden." He leans in for a closer glimpse at the bejeweled pin. "O' course, love ain't so easy. Th' maiden was pleased enough wi' th' brooch, but she went on t' chuck it into the most deep part o' the sea. Told 'er suitor that, if 'is brave 'eart was true, he'd bring it back to 'er." With a quixotic smile, Bafaloukos tilts his head to one side. "So in 'e dove..."

A sardonic smile spreads slowly across Dagda's face as he nods knowingly along at the tale Bafaloukos weaves, fully aware of the intent that always follows such stories; an inflated price tag. "His love prob'ly turned th' brass straight t' gold, righ'? That's why it's not more tarnished, yeh?" A soft snort escapes his nostrils as the buck shakes his head, putting a few coins on the counter. "I'll give y' this much, an' no more."

Bafaloukos stiffens, visibly appalled by the indifference the healer shows for love and legend. "... 'is love got 'im drowned an' swallowed by an eel." He ignores the intimation that this trinket is worth anything but a small fortune. "An' ye' think our smitten 'ero died for naught but a few coppers?" A hand lowers over the pin, sliding it gently from the counter and into the opposite palm. Then he scoffs, curling tender fingers around it. "Knew ye' fer a blind fool the minute ye' walked in 'ere, hoss." He shakes his head, as if sad to be proven correct.

As the fingers close around the brooch, Dagda stiffens as well, taking a step back from the counter and giving an expectant nod. "Didn't think y'd be quite s' up-front about swindlin', but if that's how 'tis, that's how 'tis." The buck *tsks* his cheek, puffing them out with a sharp exhalation. "S'pose I'll look somewhere else, then." With that, he turns, once more, for the door.

"Swindlin'? /SWINDLIN'/?" the fox howls, ears flushed with a growing rage. This guy has managed to dig deep under Bafaloukos' skin. He did not pick himself up from the floor in the throes of an earth-ending hangover to be called out by a damn broke civilian hare. His hand tightens around the pin, curling the weak metal of its wings in fury. When fingers unfurl, the dragonfly is duly crushed. This causes Bafaloukos to go full lunatic. Releasing the pin, he bolts around the counter, grasping for the first solid object he can reach. It happens to be the stone bust of a badger, which is immediately hurled at the exiting hare. "Ye' wanna' get swindled, hoss? I'll show ye' a swindle!" he rages while the thing is in mid-flight. The bust's trajectory is unbalanced due to its awkward shape, but the fox has a strong, semi-talented pitch. It just might connect!

When the bust catches him in the shoulder, the base strikes against the meaty portion of his back and swings the head around to smack heavily into the door, pushing Dagda along with it, before falling to the floor. Smarting from the impact, the buck turns to face the todd, a fair bit of rage of his own flaring up in his face. "Y' mangy /git,/" he mutters darkly, then taking three quick bounding steps across the room and opening with a hard, hooking right to the side of Bafa's head.

Bafaloukos must have forgot how quick those powerful hare legs can leap. The fox is still half-gloating about knocking Dagda with the statue when the healer lunges at him. He reflexively attempts to duck away from the punch, but the big fox is too slow. The blow glances off the side of his skull and makes a secondary impact with his snout, in a spray of spittle and blood. "Arg!" he barks, but a burst of adrenaline helps him recover without being too dizzied. Bouncing back a step, Bafaloukos then hurtles his weight at the hare, hoping to knock him off his feet with a shoulder rush. "'ere! Have some /fleas/, hoss!"

The fox comes on strong, and Dagda lets out an *oof* as the vulpine's mangy frame crashes into him, bearing him to the ground. But these Patrol hares, all they do is box and fight, and the buck latches on out of reflex to drag the todd down with him. Seasons of practice (and not having a hangover) give him an edge as he maneuvers his weight on the floor, rolling out from under the almost literally slimy body and scrambling atop it, fit to rain down a flurry of savage blows on that smug mug.

And Bafaloukos is not only lamed by the previous night's spiritual venom: with all the various underlings he has collected to do his dirty work in recent times, the old cheat is simply out of practice. Dagda's maneuvers are mean and fast and poorly anticipated. In a flash, he overwhelms the fox. Bafaloukos goes blind among the torrential punches, his hands waving stupidly to block the pummeling. But his defense is hilariously futile; instead, he's just a wiggling worm, flailing and choking and grunting until, eventually, it all just stops. The dude is out cold.

Realizing he's pushed it farther than he intended, Dagda starts up from the fallen fox's frame, blood dripping from his knuckles onto the floorboards, a fair smattering of rusty red droplets tinging his jacket and Bafa's tunic. Shaking fingers pull the garment straight, and a glance towards the counter confirms the brooch's destruction. With a soft oath and a regretful glance, the buck escapes out the door, to the inappropriate cheery jingle of the bell.