From the (Filthy) Mouths of Babes (Closed)

((OOC: 02 Cloudreach, 9:35, Amaranthine with ))

“See, Baby? Good. Num num.”

While Asa counted out the finder’s fee she’d been paid for the gallbladder of a raccoon, Ylsa seemed content to play with the small skull of the critter (with the teeth removed, of course). It was splattered with color, the results of Ylsa’s first attempt to lacquer the bones herself this time. Now that she’d grown to an age where paint didn’t seem so appetizing, painting bones was a lovely distraction for the babe. It bought Asa a few breaths of spare time for cleaning their tiny abode.

Of course, what Asa didn’t know while she was (politely) correcting the client on the amount agreed to for the (hopefully) medicinal agent. She tried not to ask the clients what their intentions were, and only a couple of times had to give her apologies that she wasn’t able to retrieve what she was asked to source.

“That’s all the coin I brought, so it will have to suffice,” her client said. So nonchalant as if there was little to be done. Asa had half a mind to refuse to give her the gallbladder, but it wasn’t difficult to catch raccoons. She anticipated this sort of behavior.

Ylsa tugged on her mother’s vest. “Mum. Mum. Baby is eat it up like a good girl.” Her speech was still staggered, likely because she didn’t often need to speak for herself between her chatty mother and most common playmates. Asa looked down to see Ylsa, chubby little hand stuffed into the raccoon skull, dragging the front of it across the dirt that made up the little side road of Amaranthine. “I had to show her is good.” It wasn’t until Ylsa looked up that Asa noticed the rim of road dust and dirt around her daughter’s mouth.

Oh, no-no-no.” Asa’s voice took on that little squeak she used when trying to correct Ylsa but didn’t want her to think she was in trouble.

“Should I assume the matter is settled, then?” the woman asked, drawing Asa’s attention back to the transaction.

No, no,” she replied, the same squeak in her words, prompting her to repeat them in her non-maternal voice. “You’re three silver short of what you promised me.

Well, if her mum wasn’t impressed that she’d succeeded in getting “Baby” to eat her afternoon meal, surely someone would be. She hurried off to catch the first person she could find, a tall man. “Look!” Ylsa commanded the attention of this new friend, dirt lining her face much like it did much of the raccoon skull. “Baby eat it all up! Say ‘good job, Baby!”
If there was a morning to just go with the flow, it would have to have been today.

Dark circles hung around the young man's eyes, bloodshot with the weight of one minor crisis after another. Plaguing him were the frequent tauntings of goats and his inability to chace them down, Abbott forming an alliance with the cows to hide from the terrible onslaught of medicine (how dare he care for his own cat's health?), the logistics of transporting a (frankly ludicrous, those Wardens really can eat) amount of food through the early evening Amaranthine traffic. Cyn had been awake for far too long much too early in the afternoon.

And now temporarily released from his duties, ostensibly for breakfast, but likey because Wilmar saw the sorry state his farmhand was in and decided he'd be about as useful as Abbott was on a regular day until he got a break, leaving Cyn to wander, tired, hungry, and somewhat aimless. He considered just going back to his loft and taking a very long nap. 

As would be a common theme with Cyn, naps are very rarely a plan acted upon. 

"Look!" The sudden apperance of a rather insistent small child stopped Cyn in his tracks and commanded all the bare attention his tired eyes could muster, “Baby eat it all up! Say ‘good job, Baby!” The small child commanded his attention towards the... doll? Nope, nope nope that's a skull, an actual real skull. 

Why does this only happen to him? Denerim was strange, yes, but nothing quite like this had ever happened back in his old city.

The child rather insistently continued to point to the... baby, unrelenting in her effort for someone to praise its eating habits. Void it, this might as well happen.

"Uhhhhh... good-- good job, Baby... " Cyn bent down to awkwardly pat the skull. "Ummm, does-- does baby have a name? Or-- parents?" he said, somewhat concerned there was a seemigly feral child roaming the streets of Amaranthine covered in dirt, imploring tall passersby to praise a skull for its eating habits.  

She didn’t know why he seemed confused. Mum always said “good job” when she ate up. Still, Ylsa waited with all the patience of her four years, which was to say not much. Free hand on hip, she held the dirt-dusted skull up so it might appropriately receive its well-earned praise.

Finally, he said, "Uhhhhh... good-- good job, Baby..." The man bent forward, hand raised to pat the skull. Ylsa pulled it out of his reach, cradling it protectively against her chest. "Ummm, does-- does baby have a name? Or-- parents?"

“This my baby.” Her face took on the very serious mien of the very young when something was important to them but not being appreciated by the grownups. At least Mum understood. “Her name is Baby.” That much should have been obvious! She just told him!

As she pet baby on the smooth top of her head, she remembered that he had praised baby, just as she’d asked him to. He had certainly proven he was not one of those scary strangers Mum told her about. When she and James met people, they became friends. So, friend. And friends were welcome to love Baby, too.

She held Baby up to the man, proud of her very well-behaved baby. “Now kiss Baby. It’s her nap time.”
The rules and logic of the realm of children were not typically foreign to the entrepreneurial elfblood, babysitting the most rambuctious and strange children of his home city. This however... this was new for him. Sure, you'd have to make sure keep things that were distinctly not food out of their tiny mouths. But since when did regular children, even seemigly abandoned and alone street children find and subsequently adopt raccoon skulls? 

"This is my baby," the child said with a great morose look reserved only for those children who knew they were not being taken seriously on a matter they considered deadly serious. "Her name is Baby!" She stated as though it was clear from the start, and the stranger she had accosted on the street was a fool for not knowing this vital information as if he'd asked who the bloody King was. 

"Uhhhh... yes, of course-- ummm, very-- very nice Baby." Cyn said, retracting his rejected pat attempt upon the skull's head, leaving him confused and awkwardly playing with his hands as he found himself flumoxed by a four year-old. 

The child once again held out the skull-baby with a gleaming sense of pride in her eyes. “Now kiss Baby. It’s her nap time.” 

Cyn perhaps was tired, too tired for his own good, and much to hungry to be of any use to any thinking thing, much less himself, but something in the back of his mind told him that perhaps kissing the dirt-caked skull that had been gods know where directly was... not the best idea. Carefully, and slowly, as if the child would likely retract the skull again, Cyn brought his fingers to his lips, kissed them, and brought them down on the 'Baby's head.

Praying that this was enough to satisfiy the skull and its caretaker, Cyn looked past the pair in an effort to gain the attention of anyone nearby who's strange afternoon this could become instead of his. "Ummm, excuse me? Is-- do these... this child belong to anyone? Hello?" 
The man was silly. "Uhhhh... yes, of course-- ummm, very-- very nice Baby." Of course baby was a very good baby. She’d just told him that Baby had eaten all of her food. Ylsa huffed, but was mollified that at least the man could see Baby’s virtues. After all, she was the most beautiful baby in the world. That meant she deserved a beautiful name.

The man kissed his fingers and then patted Baby, no that was not her name anymore, on the head. He looked around as Ylsa stared at him expectantly. “Ummm, excuse me? Is-- do these... this child belong to anyone? Hello?

“Oh, my mum. Just a second. Hold…” She screwed up her face in thought over the very serious business of the baby’s new name. It had to be a name as wonderful as the baby was. “Hold Chevalier,” she ordered. Without giving him a moment to object, Ylsa shoved Chevalier—yes that was the perfect, most beautiful name in the world—into the man’s arms and bolted off toward her mother.

“Mum,” she called as she skid to a halt beside Asa. “Mum, come meet my friend.”

Asa was in the process of pocketing her coin around her belt when Ylsa tugged at her trousers. Asa looked first to her daughter, then in the direction she pointed with her tiny finger to a man who was awkwardly holding Ylsa’s toy skull.

Oh, no no. We talked about strangers, didn’t we?” Asa rubbed at her temples with finger and thumb and followed Ylsa’s tugging toward the man.

“He’s not a stranger. He’s taking care of Chevalier.”

The man looked far too tired to be standing, let alone nannying a baby, real or imagined. At least that’s what she assumed Ylsa had decided the skull was. She smiled, wide and tight-lipped at the man, though it lacked any sort of tension or annoyance. Perhaps a little bit of fatigue. “Thank you for guarding our precious, uh,” she glanced at Ylsa.

“Chevalier, Mum.”

“Oh, my mum. Just a second. Hold…” The child held the kind of expression that any former Rangler of Children could recognize as a look of intense thought for something percieved to carry such weight.

“Hold Chevalier,” The child said, thrusting the raccoon skull into Cyn's tired arms and running off to gods know where. Cyn stared into the vacant eyes of the newly-minted Chevalier, asking if he knew what on Thedas was going on anymore, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to get insight into his life from a skull mothered by a seemigly feral child. Cyn could still manage a chuckle at the thought.

The girl returned, adult in hand, almost unnoticed by the young elfblood, but if there was anything on this earth the boy could recongize it was the look of an exasperated mother. 

The woman smiled, “Thank you for guarding our precious, uh,” she took a glance at her apparent ward.

“Chevalier, Mum.”


Cyn found the energy to smile back, even in his exhausted state he could still find this refreshing in a strange sort of way. 

"It's- it's no trouble, ma'am... uhhh, Chevalier here is-- is a very good baby." He could hear his mother's lessons in his head, no slouching, be polite, don't talk too fast... "I've babysat before-- C-Chevalier hasn't even thrown up on me once yet!" Cyn managed a polite, if tired laugh and knelt down, extending the skull out for the youngster. "A very good baby, yes...
It didn’t require much effort to see that the man before her was quite exhausted. Dark smudges lined the papery undersides of his eyes, eyes rimmed in red from fatigue. He worked hard labor, Asa was sure of it, and was grateful that he could summon the energy to humor Ylsa and her “baby” Chevalier.

"It's- it's no trouble, ma'am... uhhh, Chevalier here is-- is a very good baby." She watched as he seemed to become aware of his appearance, straightening his posture, enunciating his words more. "I've babysat before-- C-Chevalier hasn't even thrown up on me once yet!"

Asa hummed a quiet laugh and offered her signature tight smile. Yes. Little Chevalier was the epitome of a well-behaved child, which was a little more than she could say for Chevalier’s caregiver. Asa was simply grateful she’d stumbled upon this man and not a guardsman or other person who would draw attention.

The man laughed, tired and strained, but genuine. "A very good baby, yes..."

Taking her daughter’s rather grubby hand in hers, Asa looked down to give her a look that communicated they would talk about strangers again very soon. For now, she returned to the man of the moment. “For your help, you certainly deserve to be compensated.” She smiled to Ylsa and then shyly back to the young man. “A reward.

“The bakery!” Ylsa chirruped. Was her mother truly so predictable?

Perhaps a bite to eat?” She pointed with her nose at the little bakery cart not far away that still had a decent selection given the time of day. “I know I could do with a sweet myself.” And she’d gotten a fair payment from her client, so she didn’t mind treating.
The woman, the girl's mother, if he had to hazard a guess, (was that mentioned? Did he miss it? Cyn couldn't be sure) was well-humored enough to see the fun in the situation, and not do as many Cyn knew would do (that being, hit him over the head with a big stick and run away. A viable strategy, to be sure, but head trauma was really rather on the bottom of the list of things the young elfblood needed today).

For your help, you certainly deserve to be compensated. The woman smiled warmly, in a way Cyn hadn't seen for a long while. A reward. Perhaps a bite to eat?” Down the lane she motioned to a bakery cart that Cyn had passed by in a haze just minutes before. Mythal's mercy it smelled good...I know I could do with a sweet myself.

Part of him that was still clinging to an odd half-hyperawareness that screamed at him to say no, you've already been enough of an annoyance to this woman, the last thing you need to inconvience her more. Although his face displayed a little portion of this anxiety, he managed to keep up a half smile. 

"Oh I'm sure you're... you're much too busy, I wouldn't want to--" Something on the cart caught the young man's eye, stopping his train of thought dead in is tracks. "--be a... bother. Is- is that a blueberry muffin? Umm, thank you, ma'am, I'd love to take up your- reward." Cyn's voice could barely keep up his stilted, polite sounding ways at the thought of dinner. "You're-- you're very kind."
"Oh I'm sure you're... you're much too busy, I wouldn't want to--" Before Asa could think to disagree with him something on the cart caught his attention and he stumbled over his words. "--be a... bother. Is- is that a blueberry muffin? Umm, thank you, ma'am, I'd love to take up your- reward." Something faltered, even as the young man tried to keep his smile in place and his demeanor pleasant. "You're-- you're very kind."

I also have too much fondness for sweets,” she added, directing him to accompany her as she fell into an easy stride and headed for the cart.

“Mum. Muuuuum. Chevalier wants a cream horn,” Ylsa informed her as she ran circles around them.

I don’t think Chevalier can eat a cream horn while sleeping. Maybe you’ll have to eat it for her?

Ylsa thought this over, screwing her face up as she tried once again to figure out how to get two cream horns out of this deal.

“Or maybe neither of you need one?” Asa pointed out carefully. “But, if you and Chevalier are okay to share one, perhaps we will take some sweets to James and Abigail. Hm?

“Oh yes! Yes!” Asa thought that might stifle her daughter’s antics. A chance to play with Bann Delilah’s children often outshone any scheme she tried to cook up on her own.

Now, then,” she said turning her attention to the young man once more, “how did you come to be the caretaker of our dear Chevalier?” While she talked she pointed to the muffin in question and the cream horns.