1. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Land of Five

    Discussion in 'Archive' started by Earphone, Mar 18, 2011.

    Discussion thread can be found here: http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=39442

    ---------------

    I shuddered, as I knocked against the gateway leading into the small village. These lands were colder than anything I was used to. The Dargadel tended to be hot year round, but here the air was brisk, and snow fell regularly. I had never seen snow before. It was fascinating to watch as the thousands of crystals fell from the sky, each one unique from all the others. The flakes had started to lose their appeal though, after an entire day of trying to trek through them, with one always managing to blow into my eye.

    I wrapped my cloak more tightly around my shoulders, and rapped again at the door. My hands were going numb, I needed to find an inn to warm myself. Wistfully, I was reminded of my lack of coin. People tended not to care for new bards, but I suspected there was human prejudice mixed in as well. The last village I'd been in, Oller if I remembered correctly, had turned me away; but not before accepting a human bard with even less talent than myself. "It's a matter of experience." They had said. "It was a matter of if you had a tail." I had thought. Sighing with impatience, I tapped once more at the gate. I was concerned for my lute. Cold had an adverse affect upon its sound, and the strings. At last, I heard scuffling from beyond the wooden barricade, and a small window opened to reveal a pair of young and curious eyes.

    "Hullo." Called a muffled voice.

    "Good day." I said, feeling it was quite the opposite, "May I enter?"

    "State ya business sir?" The voice asked, as the eyes raked up and down to get a good look at me.

    "My name is Laslo. I'm a bard." I said, scratching my side absently.

    "Well ain't that excitin'?" The voice said, as the eyes light up.

    The little gate swung open, and I entered. It was considerably warmer within the city walls, thanks in part to the many torches and fires lit throughout the jumbled maze of houses. That said, it was still frigid. I turned to see the person who had let me in. They were in the proccess of closing the doors, but were having difficulty against the strong winds now blowing through the opening. Wordlessly, I moved forward, and pushed on the door as well. It slid closed with a pronounced 'thump'.

    "Oh, thank ya." The person said, pulling the enormous scarf down that had been concealing its face. It was a girl, robed in a thick fur coat to ward off the temperature. "Wewcome ta Terillo."

    "Do you know where I could find an inn?" I asked, not in the mood to bandy about words.

    "Ya comin' ta Terillo, an' ya dunno 'bout the Twelve Oaks?" The girl asked, her words still difficult to understand, even without the scarf muffling them.

    "Twelve Oaks? Where is that?" I asked, pulling the cloak even tighter around myself.

    " 'S ova there." The girl said, pointing to a large rectangular building, with a sign hanging out front, "I work there as a waitress, dun'cha know?"

    "Then why are you out here?" I asked, hugging myself and hopping from foot to blue foot while the girl continued to babble. It was obvious she hadn't talked to anyone in some time.

    "Wew, Althe the gatewatcher is sick, he is. My muva's over nursin' 'im back to 'ealth. I got watch 'ere, 'cause I volunteered. I fout it'd be fun. Turns out it's not s'much." The girl gave me a sad look, "But you look near froze ta the bone, ya should get indoors. I'll go with ya."

    "Aren't you supposed to keep watch, though?" I asked blandly, eager to be away from the talkative girl. I enjoyed the company of others, but in small portions.

    "Wew... Yeah, I suppose I am." The girl said, looking downcast, "But 's not often we get a bard anymore, 'specially one with a tail." She smiled at the flare of red hovering behind me, "I'll go with ya, I jus' want ta hear one song."

    That is, if they let me play... I thought to myself.

    Suppressing a grimace, I nodded. The girl continued to talk, swinging her arms back and forth expressively through the air as we made our way to the inn's entrance. If I had found the girl's ramblings intolerable, it was nothing compared to the atmosphere and din inside the inn. I'd never seen so many people in one place in my life. Everyone was talking, yelling, laughing, and two men were even at blows with one another; staggering about drunkenly between throws.

    "Follow me then." The girl said, weaving skillfully through the crowd over to a counter, behind which stood a great bear-like bearded man. I made my way to where she stood more slowly, my arms wrapped protectively around my beloved instrument.

    "Y'see?" The girl said happily, "A real bard!"

    "Well!" The man behind the counter boomed in a friendly voice, "It's been a while since we've had a bard around here, and a Fynian no less! Welcome to the Twelve Oaks Tavern, what can I do you for?"

    "Do you have any bread?" I asked, rubbing the life back into my fingers. I was finding it hard to concentrate in this place, which could pose problematic if they called for me to play.

    "The parchment'll tell you all we have." The man said merrily, pointing a thumb over his shoulder to a large paper pinned across the wall.

    I peered up at the scrawl of letters, trying to make sense of it. I felt my face redden as the man stared expectantly at me.

    "Ya should try the stew!" The girl said suddenly, moving to my side and making me jump, " 'S the best y'll ever 'ave."

    "Right, I'll have that then." I said, relieved at the excuse to avoid pretending to read.

    The man pulled a large wooden bowl from under the counter, and dipped a ladel into a large cauldron, pouring out a thick steaming mass of meat and vegetables. It smelled heavenly.

    "That'll be two silver." He said in a friendly voice, holding the bowl slightly out of reach.

    I pulled my coin pouch from my side, and rifled through it, before looking up to gaze hopelessly at the man, who barked with laughter.

    "Moths eating at your purse?" He asked, tapping my arm with a fist, "Tell you what, I'll give you some food free of charge if you'll play for my crowd here, I'm sure they'd enjoy it. I'll even throw in a bed for the night, and some coin to spare. We haven't had any bards here since the declaration of treaty. They've all gone down South to Euphel."

    "You mean this isn't Euphel?" I asked stupidly.

    "Of course it isn't, it's Argebar!" The man roared, "Did something fall on your head? You're in the complete opposite direction, if that's where you're traveling!"

    I cursed myself for a fool. I'd been traveling for two weeks in the wrong direction? I should have inquired as to my location in the last village! Why hadn't I at least been taught to navigate?

    The man's joking smile slipped off his face at my miserable expression, "No worries lad, I can provide you with a map. If you take a ship from Dralge, you'll still make it in time to witness the event."

    I breathed a sigh of relief. I could still make it. "Thank you." I said, forcing a smile on my face past the embarassment.

    The man leaned down, the large smile back upon his face, "Now why don't we hear a bit of song then, eh? Make you work for your meal."
     
  2. Soph
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    Soph Member

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    I enjpyed it so far!
     
  3. Depressing Jester
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    Depressing Jester Member

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    Kilas Ashenas

    The spires of Andant stood silhouetted against the night sky. The crimson moon Malog'gorath had hung itself ominously over the city, as if suspicious of the world below. The city itself was dead silent, save for the prattle of miscreants echoing throughout the stone. Andant was a city carved into the very mountains. The bulk of the fortress-city faced the valley floor. It clung to the wall of stone, ever reaching for the unobtainable heights above.

    Around the city stood the fabled spires. Once they were mountains themselves, standing like eternal sentinels around Andant. In an amazing feat of skill and patience the rock was wrought into immense towers. Inspiring awe in the populace and fear and envy in others. To the west stood the Aegis Tower, a bulwark against those who would wish harm upon the stone city. To the north I could see the Beacon of Stars, a lasting sanctuary for enlightenment and learning. A final spire stood to the south out of sight, nestled between the city and the mountains. The Spire of the Second. The oldest and most grand of the three, the home of the Aun.

    I chuckle to myself as I gaze at the glistening city below. The red moon's light reflecting beautifully upon the surfaces. The green valley below was dotted with the torch lights of the farmers heading home. The lessons taught when I was but a boy were still fresh in my mind, I could almost hear my father's voice as I recited it in my mind. The wind whistled through the abandoned stonework, singing a song of solitude. I reach into the simple pouch at my side, pulling out a crude cigarette. Gripped in my teeth, I pull the match from my pocket. A spark flashes to life in my hand. Inhaling through the cigarette, an ember glows on its end. A cloud of smoke lines my breath as I exhale.

    Taking one last look at the night sky, I push my body off the balcony wall and begin walking back into the city. I made my way past the rows of crudely assembled shacks that made up the refugee quarter. This used to be the old merchant quarter before the war, but as Argebar launched it's devastating campaign across the plains villages. Thousands were left without a home. Originally meant to be a sanctuary for these wayward souls, it soon became an overcrowded ghetto, rife with crime and poverty.

    It was a blemish for lack of a better word. The district was located on the second level, usually covered by the shadow of the mountain. Like a wound covered with a bandage. My steps echo into the night as I take another drag of my cigarette, feeling the narcotics worm its way through my body. I sigh a relaxed breath as I reach the Popper's Purse tavern. My home away from home as it is. Recent debts making my actual house a poor place to visit. Could of sworn the tokens were rigged...

    I push the creaking door open, not even earning a glance from the patrons. The place itself was a dump, but at least the floors were clean. And the ale only luke-warm. I barely give the bartender a glance as I walk up the creaky steps to the inn room. The last of my funds buying myself a room for the next few days. I walk through the hallway with the bright red doors to my room. With a clink the lock unhitched and the door swung open. It was a small room, barely having room for the hay-filled bed and small bedside table. The window was easily the most remarkable thing about the room. Positioned so perfectly, that you could almost see out side the fortress-city to the plains below.

    Not quite ready for sleep, I light another cigarette and walk towards the window. I black crow swoops down from the roof and perches itself upon the window. An odd intelligence could be seen in its eyes.

    “Hello Morty, missed you at the balcony.”

    A simple caw was the reply.

    “Of coarse, of coarse.” I chucked. I reach into my pouch and pull out the last of its contents, a pinch of seeds. I offer the kindly on the window sill as the bird began to pluck at them.

    Suddenly the bird turned it's head towards the door before swooping off in a panic. I quickly did the same in time to hear a rustle of footsteps making their way up the stairs. With a nimble quickness I reach under the bed to pull out an eloquent rapier from under the bed. It's hilt glimmering in the light. I hastily strap it to my side. I begin the tighten the straps on my leather chest-piece when I hear a thumping on the door.

    “ Come out Ashenas. You still owe me four hundred crowns! It's time pay up!” gave a gruff, harsh voice from behind the door.

    “Ashes!” I swore. Silas is the last person I need to see. One of the players from that disastrous game. I had already payed up most of my debt to him, but apparently he has had enough. I could already picture his bulging muscles beating upon the doors thin frame. His inbred relatives probably in tow to deliver the beating of my life. He was always a man of short patience, and even shorter temperament.

    Thinking quick- Scratch that. What I was about to do spit in the face of thought. I leaped through the window into the night. I felt my ankle slip as I crashed upon the gutter, causing me to tumble further before I painfully crashed upon the stone street. Thankfully I landed on my back, I didn't think I had any broken bones. It took me a couple moments to gather myself and stand up.

    Still wobbling as I stood, I started walking shakily before I crashed into a wall of muscle. Looking up I say the moronic face of Bastius, Silas's slow-witted nephew. I didn't even I have time to utter a curse word before a meaty fist met my face. I flew through the air before hitting the wall with a thud. The air flew through my lungs. Remarkably, the cigarette still dangled in my mouth, my teeth clenching it. I took a quick drag before I could see the figure of Silas stand over me.

    He wore simple dark-colored trousers with an apron covering his bare chest. He was a butcher by profession, and had all the sensibilities of the animals he slaughtered. A gold chain lined his neck to symbolize the success he'd been having. A small, but stark difference to my too small leather pants and plain tan shirt. His nephews stood around him like an ignorant entourage. Both worked at his shop, being his officially registered apprentices.

    “I'm just gonna guess that your little maneuver their means you don't have my coin?” he said. His ridiculous mustache wrinkling at his snide smirk. The two dim-wits around him chuckled.

    “There's always that fee your wife owes me, eh?” I reply. Giving him the most annoying smirk I could conjure, which I suspect was lessened by the blood leaking out.

    My cleverness was rewarded with a knee to my midsection. I kneel to the ground clutching my dignity. The damn cigarette was still in my mouth, and I took another drag of it, just writing it off as a blessing. As I could see the heavy built man lift his foot, which I guessed was meant to crash on my head, I could hear a familiar noise above.

    The distinctive cawing of a crow. I looked up just in time to see Mordus, in all his crow-like grace, sink his talons into Silas's stupid face. I loved that bird. Morty then just flew off into the sky before the man could retaliate, with a seemingly arrogant aura around him. No more cheap seed for him. Acting quickly, I spit my still lit cigarette into the face of Bastius, who screamed out as the ember met his face. I unsheathed my rapier and thrust it into the midsection of the other nephew, Giving a shallow wound before kicking him into the wall.

    And with all my might I sprinted away into the night. Hearing the cries of my assailants as they realized my escape. The heart pounded through my chest and my lungs sucked in desperate air as I continued sprinting farther and farther.

    Not one of my better nights.
     
  4. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Laslo Windstride

    Pleased at the opportunity to play, I moved to an empty corner of the pub that the man was indicating. I felt many pairs of eyes following me as I walked. The room had gone silent when I'd reached the spot. The barman brought me a stool, and I quickly sat down and set to work plucking and tuning my lute.

    "Just play when you're ready." The barman said with a wave, then turned to the crowd and boomed, "We've got a bard!"

    There was a semi-enthusiastic applause, most of the audience remained silent, and staring. Feeling very uncomfortable, I placed my hands over the strings of my instrument, relishing the feel. Suddenly I became aware of my tail, which was waving back and forth merrily behind me, and was drawing many cynical eyes. Hastily batting the furry appendage down, I finished tuning my lute, then took a deep breath to steady my nerves.

    Slowly, I began plucking the strings, releasing a sad melody into the silent crowd. Each note passed through the inn, and seemed to fill it with its presence. Time to me seemed to stretch into an eternity of song, as it always did when I heard music. Taking another breath, I licked my lips, and began to sing:

    "Dun Dargadel, dun Dargadel
    Dun rei char leegh, dun Dargadel
    The soldier lays down his sword, and takes again the plow
    The days draw short, we call for peace
    Yet who can recall all of the names, the names of those that perished?
    Dun Dargadel, dun Dargadel
    Dun rei char leegh, dun Dargadel
    The night o'ertakes the setting sun, set before the day began
    The victims marching ever on, hear their weary tramping feet
    To find a place to call their home, yet that one thing they'll never find
    Dun Dargadel, dun Dargadel
    Dun rei char leegh, dun Dargadel"

    I shuddered, and placed my palm over my strings muting the last chord. I could hear the song echo through the room, then there was silence. A deep silence. I could hear the winds blowing outside.

    "What was that?" A man called.

    I stared blankly at him. What did he mean?

    "That's right." Another man chimed in, "What're you singing sad songs for? It didn't even rhyme. It's a time of peace! Sing something happy, something that we can dance and celebrate to."

    There were nods throughout the room. I winced slightly. I didn't know any "happy" songs. I'd never had that kind of presence as a bard. I'd heard a human bard sing a song before, that had been so cheerful I hadn't been able to help but tap my foot in time; but no matter how hard I tried, I hadn't been able to imitate him.

    "Well?" The man asked loudly and obnoxiously, "You gonna sing or not?"

    My confidence fading, I placed my trembling fingers over the strings, and tried to plunk out a dancing tune I'd once heard. It sounded like nonsense, and the crowd began to scoff and boo. Shaking, I continued plucking veinly at the strings, desperate for an inspiration. I couldn't fail now, I needed food, money, a place to sleep. The tune from my instrument was offensive to my ears, and I ground my teeth in frustration, as the crowd continued to boo yet louder. Yes, it was always like this. I bowed my head, and shook the stubborn instrument in my hands. It merely sang sharp notes in no pattern or rhythm. It was like it was mocking me along with the crowd.

    "That's enough." I heard the bartender next to me, "You'd better stop before they get violent."

    "I can't." I hissed, even as my hands stopped moving, "I need this job."

    "I already promised you food for a song, and you've given your song. I'll stay true to my word, but I suggest you stop." The man gave me a half-hearted smile. He looked disappointed.

    I stood, and let my lute drop, catching on its strap, and winding until it rested at my back. I pulled my cloak about me, and walked silently to the bar where the girl still sat.
     
  5. vulpeslagopus
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    vulpeslagopus New Member

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    Location:
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    Randy stood on the edge of town. Terillo was a beautiful town, at times.Now, it was an immaculate landscape full of white roof tops and fires glowing all over the city. He really did love Terillo, he loved all of Argebar.

    He had lived there his entire life, orphaned by the War of Five like so many others. As far as he was concerned, the other four nations could sink into eternal blackness.

    Honestly, it was exhausting though. The other four nations ,above all, saw them selves as superior to Argebar, but nothing could match the beauty of it's vast forrest.

    The forrest was where Randy spent a large ammount of his time. He had raised himself on the floor of the twelve oaks, and worked as a handyman since he could wield a hammer. A few years back he fixed he roof of the twelve oaks in an inermittent period in a series of storms, earning himself a permanen bed a the tavern, thoguh he rarely used it.

    It was only this time of year he couldn't sleep in the woods, the cold would surely kill him. But any other time of year he could be found treking around the forrest.He was a ranger in hese parts, watching over the forrest like the Saints watched over Terillo.

    Terillo, it had be saved during the War of Five, but a what cost? Randy's parents blood...

    His father, Richard St. John was a soldier in Argebars Army, he also spoke he word of kearin he Saint, one of many saints that his fathers religion cherished, even randy was supposidly a descendant of one of the saints.

    Randy's moher was a Nurse,she was in the field when she was killed, tragically it was the very field that randy's parens met.His faher met his fate in cieilien. Randy had heard the story of his parents meeting many times, from soldiers hat returned from he war and any others of his parents old friends.

    his mother was out of camp a mile or two , walking amongst the rolling hill of Argebar.Then, from nowhere, three soldiers of ceilien sprung from surrounding shrubbery. his mother shreiked as a grabbed her, preparing to defile her.

    But before they could remove anyother article of clothing, captain Richard St. John came up on the situation. He was surpised to see the soldiers acting this way...because he was their captain.

    "What the hell is going on here", Richard belowed.

    "Here captian", one of the snakes offered the young women to their captian.

    "You men make me sick, get out of here", the captain ordered further.

    "I don't think i will", one of the men said, pulling a sword from his sheath.

    "Thats an order Private", the Captain yelled.

    The man approached the captain waving his sword about. as soon as he engaged he capain with a blow,Richard quickly killed the wayward soldier. The other men ran off, reporting the Captain as a traitor, stretching the truth to its limit.

    Richard ran off with the women, they setled down and had a child in the Nation of Argebar,Randy.

    Pondering many thoughts, Randy made his way to the tavern.
     
  6. FaustusXIII
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    FaustusXIII Member

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    Jaedis Averian

    It's a beautiful night in a beautiful city. After having spent almost all of my life in Ceilien, it is nice to get a chance to appreciate the qualities of a city outside my realm. Swiping my bangs out of my eye as has been a habit for years, I balance myself confidently on the rooftop and let the wind shove me playfully.

    I have never felt so free, yet at the same time... I'm not really sure what to do without the constant stream of orders that come from a life in the military. That time is over though. Nobody can tell me what to do anymore. Or who to kill. That is a decision that will forever remain my own now.

    Necessary or not, the faces of all those people I've killed for my nation still haunt me - waking or asleep. I may have been one of the best, but it certainly wasn't because I enjoyed it. Some of them deserved it I'm sure, but the others... for some others I find that more difficult to believe.
    The face of a giggling child invades my thoughts.

    "Hehe, Jae-Jae!"

    No.

    Snapping out of my reverie, I realize I had been clenching my hands and frowning intently. Sighing deeply, I clear my head and let myself relax. Laying down on the roof, hopefully ensuring a lack of disturbance by the riffraff in this part of the city, I close my eyes and let sleep envelop me.

    **************************************

    Startling awake, I jolt up, almost sliding off the roof. Regaining my grip, I attempt to locate the source of my sudden wakefulness. My attention is drawn to a man looking a bit younger than me with darker hair and a slender build. He staggers up after -apparently- falling off a roof not far from mine. What could he possibly have been think- My question is answered as soon as I ask it, in the form of a larger man appearing and punching the first into a wall. I notice with disbelief that the faller has a cigarette in his mouth that must have been there through both the fall and the hit. Must be one important cigarette...

    I continue to watch the interaction that is apparently over a debt, unsure whether or not to interfere. Not because it isn't my business... moreso because I want to see if the guy can really find some way out of his mess. Things aren't looking good for him. About to step in, I stop when I see what seems to be a crow swoop down and attack the lead thug's face. I have to hold back a snicker at the bizarre nature of this whole encounter. Surprisingly, the crow was enough to turn the tide and the dark-haired man gets in a few choice blows before sprinting away.

    It doesn't take long for me to decide to follow him. This was the most entertainment I've had in weeks! I get the distinct feeling that this guy's life is far from boring- something I would greatly appreciate at the moment. Too much time to reflect is not good for me. I take off in his direction, keeping to the rooftops and staying as close on his tail as I dare.
     
  7. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Laslo Windstride

    Faces sneered at me, and shoulders knocked into me as I made my way back to the bar. I felt a familiar hollowness within me, as I stared into the contemptuous faces. The only person that still seemed pleased with my presence was the young girl, who rushed to my side as I sat on a stool, and placed my chin on the bar; blankly observing the grain of the wood, which was a thick maze of rings.

    "That song was beautifuw!" The girl cooed, "I almost cried, I did."

    I peered at the girl from the corner of my eye, as the barman wordlessly slid a bowl of stew in front of my face. She was playing with her short brown hair, and smiling at me.

    "What did the words mean?" She asked curiously.

    "What does it matter?" I responded, tipping the bowl, and taking a sip. The thick peppery gravy flooded my insides with warmth, and I felt slightly better despite myself. It truly was delicious.

    "I dunno." The girl said, pawing her hair more playfully, "I was just wondering."

    Sighing softly, though not at the girl, I turned my sight to the ceiling; the words ringing in my head. I thought for a moment, then turned to the girl, "It means, 'All shall pass, all dead lands.'"

    The smile fell from the girl's face, as she stared into my emotionless eyes.

    "Why would you say that?" She asked softly, lowering her hands to clutch at her apron.

    I gave the girl a flat look, but was distracted as the bar doors flew open, and a figure strode in.

    "Evening Randy!" The barman called, as a young man made his way to the bar.

    "Evening Hart." The man said with a grin, then turned to the girl, "Tel, you left the gate unlocked. I locked it for you."

    "Thanks." The girl said.

    "And who's this?" The man asked, smiling at me, as he breathed on his fingers for warmth.

    "He's a bard." The barman said, though without the same enthusiasm as before, "I'm sorry, I didn't get your name."

    "It's Laslo." I said, glancing at the young man. He appeared taller and more muscular than me, despite his youthfullness. His hair was covered in snowflakes, as were his clothes.

    "I'm Randy Kimberly Saint John." He said, and extended a hand. I turned back to my stew. "So what brings you here?" He continued, quickly pulling back his hand, and running it through his wet hair, as though that had been his original intention.

    "My own stupidity." I said mockingly, staring into my bowl.

    "Pardon?" Randy asked confusedly.

    "Nothing." I said, feeling faintly annoyed at all the talking, "You'll have to excuse me, I'm not in the mood to converse at the moment."
     
  8. Depressing Jester
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    Depressing Jester Member

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    Location:
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    Kilas Ashenas

    I continued running far past the point of exhaustion. The voices of my assailants giving extra footing to my steps.

    “Whoreson!” screamed Silas from behind. “I'll rip your damned legs off!” His voice was steadily drifting farther and farther away.

    I had no doubt he would, if given the chance. The butcher was never a forgiving man. The claw marks on his face probably not helping the matter.

    Adrenaline is a powerful thing. Right now I should be a sack of bone and pain after that brilliant maneuver I just tried. But all my body could think of was getting farther away from that fat brute and his moron nephews. To be honest, I was mostly just ashamed of losing to such a guy. I'm smarter than that. Me and my damn pride. I saw him cheating. Saw him rigging the tokens. Fat people aren't subtle.

    But I wanted to beat him anyway. Him and that smug little gathering he had. The best players of the refugee level. Some I had heard of, others not so much. But I was drunk, and so, so full of myself. Couldn't wait to see the look on their faces to lose to a guy like me. This is what happens when you don't always expect the worst!

    And now here I am. In the worst debt I've had in awhile and running for my life from a trio of idiots. How did they even find me? It's not like the Popper's Purse is the only inn in town. I hate it when people, who aren't me, get lucky.

    Eventually I could see the distance widening between us as I ran up the grand stairways. Stairs wide enough a hundred people to walk up and down. It was humbling to run up them alone. Save for the occasional piss-covered drunk half-dead on the steps. They were common sight in these dark days.

    As I got to the top of the stairs. Those long, arduous stairs. I leaned upon the pillar to catch my breath. I was on the new merchant level. The old one being the now refugee level. Wasn't always this way. During the war, the bottom level was filled with the fires of industry. Anyone could find work toiling for the Fariscen war effort.

    But now that the war was over, the people had nothing. And the level became nothing more than a place to store the refugees after the war. Jobless and abandoned, the place quickly became a haven for drunks and criminals.

    I sighed. No use crying over spilled milk, eh? Whining never helped anybody. So I hobbled through the merchant level, hoping to find a corner to lie down at. The streets were well swept and the shops and carts all looking pristine. But as I walked I heard a slight rustle up above. Like tile scraping together.....

    I looked up to the roof tops, just in time to see a shadowy figure gracefully gliding from roof to roof. In my direction. This night just keeps getting better and better.

    “Piss and Ash!” I scream. “Did Palceta send you? Thirteen-hundred Crowns does not warrant a hitman!”

    Dammit Your supposed to ASK for money before you kill them. I was already so tired from before, and it's not like out-running a fat butcher is anything special. I have got to quit smoking. Still I tried my best to limp away, putting whatever distance I could between me and the hit....woman? I thought, as I saw her come into the moonlight. Shapely curves and graceful body movement quickly asserting this. Strands of silver hair shimmered in the moonlight from beneath her hood.

    And old woman! Well that's just great. I always figured I was at least considered dangerous enough to send someone young. That just hurts my feelings. Unfortunately, I was in no position to bandage my wounded pride. I had to get away from the rooftops, scenes of having my pursuer leaping from the sky to plant a knife in my back not doing well on my nerves.

    I rushed as quickly as possible into the rock gardens. Beautiful sculptures and mosaics surrounded me, but were wasted by my panic. I saw the assassin leap from the a small store building to the ground, softening the blow with a roll. She started walking toward me. Walking. She had all the time in the world and she knew it.

    Well I was not going to have that. I at least have a smidgen of pride left. I had one shot at this. I grab unto the hilt of rapier, the blood of Silas's nephew caked upon the very tip of the blade. Reaching back, and drawing upon all my anger and pride, I threw the blade at my assailant. The blade twirling through the air as a song of steel echoed around it.

    With a grace I had naught thought possible, the woman made an eloquent dagger appear in her hand. And in less than a moment deflected my sword, sending it skyward. And without taking her gaze off me caught it. Without. Lifting. Her. Gaze. Both my blade and hers gleamed in the red moonlight, giving them a rather fitting malevolent look.

    “That's bull****!” I screamed at her. And meant it too. This wasn't some two-bit thug from the lower level. You have to get training for that kind of thing.

    It was kinda flattering that they would send someone like this after me, almost as much as it is terrifying. I must of really pissed off the wrong person to get this treatment. Now that she was closer, I could see that she was in fact quite young, beautiful even. Couldn't be more than twenty summers. At least I wasn't getting beat by a grandmother.

    This was not good at all. I was exhausted. The bruises on my face were finally beginning to swell up, rather painfully might I add. And I had at least one broken rib from my stroke of genius. Oh, and I just chucked my freaking sword at her. Just perfect. To be honest, this girl would have been tough to beat even if I was at my best. This was just hopeless.

    Hell with it. If I'm going out, I'm not gonna be a coward about it. Standing straight as best I could, I put my arms outstretched before me. Making it as easy as possible for her. Hoping my soul is worthy of veneration by the Old Ones.

    “Just make it quick!” I say to her as I close my eyes and wait.
     
  9. FaustusXIII
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    FaustusXIII Member

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    Jaedis Averian

    I was surprised that he had been observant enough to notice me. There was no point in hiding now. Not surprisingly, given recent events, he seems to think that I have been sent to kill him. Coming down from the rooftops, I walk slowly towards him. He's not looking too good at all after the beating he took and the massive exertion right afterward. Even from my distance, I can see the fear manifesting on his face. It's not an unattractive face, even with the jagged scar now illuminated by the moonlight.

    Even seemingly about to collapse, he manages to hurl his sword at me in a last-ditch effort to save himself. The force behind it isn't necessarily impressive and is probably far beneath his capabilities. It isn't difficult for me to deflect the blade. Feeling rather mischievious, I decide to add a little flourish to see how much I can make him squirm. Sliding out one of my daggers, I deflect the sword upwards just enough for me to read the path and catch it in my other hand.

    “That's bull****!” he yells. A look of pure disbelief on his face.

    At this point, he really seems to give up. No weapons left and beat half to death facing a seemingly ruthless assassin, I can't really blame him. Arms outstretched and eyes closed, all he says is “Just make it quick.”

    His courage is really rather impressive. Continuing towards him, I stop a scant foot away. This is too much fun... Really getting into it, I move my blade up close to his neck. It's been a while since I was this close to killing someone. I can feel his breath, his heartbeat, the warmth of the blood flowing just beneath the skin... My eyes close as a cruel smile touches my lips. Just a quick flick of my wrist and it would all be over...

    No.

    My eyes fly open and I snatch my hand back, dropping his rapier and shoving him away with the other. My breathing is uneven and my hands tremble a bit. What was that? Whatever it was, it was not appropriate. I almost killed him. For no reason at all.

    "I- I'm sorry," is all I can get out before turning to walk away distractedly. Oblivious to my surroundings for the time being.

    I make my way slowly out of the rock garden and back onto one of the main streets. That wasn’t like me. The whole thing was just a joke. So why did I come so close to losing myself? It seems all those years of killing may have taken more of a toll than I thought.

    Well, that’s one acquaintance it seems I won’t be making after all. A shame really. He seemed like a real loose cannon. Suddenly my ear is caught by something. I hear the distant cries of angry men. They sound as if they are searching for something… or someone. My eyes widen. They’re still looking for him - and I slowed him down for them. This is not good. He can’t handle another fight, he can barely handle standing.

    I retake my place on the rooftops, making my way towards the voices. Looking down the grand staircase, I can see them. The thugs must’ve gotten their friends because there were a lot more of them now. I slowed him down, so it would only be fair to slow them down right? Acquaintance or not, I owe him that much for what I almost did.

    I take up a spot above the entrance to the rock garden, assuming he is still inside. I see no point in attacking them if they aren’t going to find him in the first place. Luck doesn’t seem to be on my side though as a group of them break off and head my way. I wait patiently for them to get out of sight of the others, quietly unsheathing my daggers. There are only four of them, but all are on the large side as far as men go. They might as well be bears…

    My moment hits and I drop down on the last two, using my momentum to snap their heads forward into a large, convenient sculpture. They both crash to the ground while their mates swing around, mouths gaping open at me. They aren’t stunned for very long, the first swinging his huge club in a wide arc over his fallen friends. I dodge without too much difficulty. The buffoons are large and slow. Easily predictable.

    My turn. I leap from statue to statue until I end up behind them once again, this time using my daggers to give them both minor wounds before dodging yet another club swing. It shatters the sculpture I had just been standing on. The wounds seem to have only made them angrier. It would be so much easier just to kill them… no, we’re not going down that road again. They may be idiotic thugs, but they don’t deserve death for that. Looking up, I spot what seems to be gargoyles along the roofs adjoining the garden. It seems to be my best bet.

    Vanishing into the shadows, I make my way onto the roof and creep silently to a place above where the two are warily standing back to back. It takes almost all of my strength, but I finally get the gargoyle to budge. First a little, then steadily more until I send it crashing off the roof and onto the unsuspecting heads of my quarry. They fall limply to the ground.

    Leaping down, I check to make sure they’re still alive. Blood is running down both their heads, but their pulses are strong. I give a sigh of relief. At least that won’t be on my conscience tonight. Now to warn that one guy… annoyingly, I still don’t know his name. I need to make sure he gets to a better hiding spot for when others come looking for these four.

    My spine tingles and I whirl around, but too late to dodge the massive club arcing towards me. I brace for impact, but nothing could really lessen the force of the blow. I take it full in the arm and shoulder before flying backwards into one of those previously helpful sculptures with enough momentum to break off part of the stone. The ground feels rather cold, and I can vaguely sense a stream of blood running down my face. My eyes have trouble focusing on my assailant, but I can see enough to realize he was one of the first two I’d incapacitated. Not as much as I thought, it seems.

    He reaches down a meaty hand and pulls me up by the front of my shirt until I am inches from his face. Unimportant details flood my fuzzy mind, such as the fact that my hood seems to have fallen down and my feet are apparently not touching the ground… This is why killing people is so much more reassuring. They don’t come back to life and beat the **** out of you-

    “Where is Ashenas? Why are you helping him?”

    “Ashenas?”

    I blink slowly. Oh. Well, at least I know his name now.
    However, it doesn't seem to help in my current situation...
     
  10. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Rauo Curoh

    "Rauo, where are you?"

    I bit my lip nervously, as I heard Orel's voice. I was hiding beneath the four-wheeled cart that I called home. I knew Orel was mad at me, his voice was brisker than usual. I had accidentally broken one of his glass works that he had made, while he'd been out. I'd been holding it, when someone behind me had made me jump. Orel had put so many hours into crafting it, I couldn't blame him for being angry, but I was afraid.

    "Rauo!" Orel said more commandingly.

    Clutching my hands in front of me, I stepped out from under the cart, and was met with Orel's stern gaze. In the growing darkness, the white aura I always saw about him shone, making him look like some kind of saint. He was a tall reedy man, with long grey hair, and a longer grey beard. His eyes were pale grey, and were often twinkling kindly; (Orel was a kind and gentle man) but now they were furrowed in frustration.

    "I..." I began, but the words died in my throat.

    "How many times have I told you not to touch these?" Orel asked, pointing to the small table of glassware.

    "I-... Sorry." I had to mouth silently, before the words came out. I clutched my hands tighter, almost like I was praying, and stared down at my feet.

    "Rauo..." Orel gave me a pitying look, the anger slipping off his face almost at once, "What am I supposed to say?"

    I shuffled my feet. Orel would never threaten me, or beat me, no matter what I did.

    "It w-wo-...n't hap-p-p-pen again." I said in my soft voice, and I meant it.

    Orel sighed, "Very well, I guess I have to let you off."

    I smiled at him, as he unshouldered the pack on his shoulders and began rummaging through it.

    "I found you a job while I was out." He said, pulling out a small scroll, "Here's where to meet the woman. She lost her necklace, and is willing to pay a handsome ammount to get it back."

    I took the scroll, and gazed down at it. "Wh-wh-whe-whe-whe-..." I closed my eyes, "Wh-when am I supposed to go?"

    "In the morning." Orel answered, "I'll sent Duncan with you, I know you don't like doing these things by yourself."

    I hid my discomfort. I didn't like Duncan, but I'd never told Orel that. He and his twin brother Getty worked with Orel, and shared our small cart-home. They performed juggling acts and acrobatics to attract people to Orel's stand of goods. It was very effective, but I'd never felt comfortable around the two. I especially didn't like the dark crimson glow that Duncan had. Slowly, I nodded.

    "Very well then, you should get to bed; you never know how long finding things will take." Orel said, the kind smile back on his face as I fumbled with my "Good night".

    Feeling anxious of the morning ahead, I crawled into the cart, and squeezed into my little cubby. It was warm, and soft, and quite in there. My eyes began to droop, and soon I drifted off into a light slumber.
     
  11. Depressing Jester
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    Depressing Jester Member

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    Kilas Ashenas

    I guess death isn't so bad, now that I think of it. And end to all pain, to misery, regret. No more suffering, no more accountability. I'll just stand here and allow my essence to be returned to the Old Ones. Where I will then be judged to determine my worth, suffer consequence, possible damnation....
    Maybe I didn't think this one through. Her knife's tip was upon my throat, slowly caressing it.

    Oh, that bitch! She couldn't even give me a quick death, she's gonna take her sweet-ass time. Piss and ashes!

    But before I could mouth my well-founded protests, her hand flies into my chest, the collision knocking the air from my lungs. I hear a metal echoing through the gardens as she dropped my blade.

    And then I heard the strangest thing. An apology.

    I hit the ground with a painful thud. My head cracking upon the surface. Blood leaked out from the wound, crimson streaking down my face. I let out a moan of both pain and confusion. What just happened? Since when do paid assassin's apologize...to their targets? That can't be good for business. Especially the whole not killing people thing. Suddenly a familiar cawing echoed throughout the garden. Mordus, with all the arrogance a bird of his size could muster, descended down to my side. A look of curiosity spreading over his features.

    “Took your sweet time, didn't you? No expensive bird-seed for you!” I said rather sternly. I often forget that he's just a bird.

    And then Morty did what he always did when he thought he was in trouble. Nuzzled his filthy beaked head upon my hand. The soft feathers a nice change from the cold stone. I gently caressed the feathers. Smart bird. Carefully, I managed to pull myself up, my muscles groaning in protest with each movement.

    Standing upright, I reached for my rapier on the ground. Removing the sheath from my belt, I slid my blade in and used it for a cane. Though far from eloquent, I managed to walk out of the rock gardens. Morty perched loyally upon my shoulder. I stopped as I saw the body of one of Silas's thugs laying flat on his back. Blood leaking from his forehead.

    Was he still after me? I thought. Panic slowly coursing through my body. I guess he would be really pissed after that little altercation. Must of called all of his little crew after me. But how did he end up like this? I doubt he would have been dumb enough to do this himself. Maybe my luck is turning around.

    What surprised me though, was that there was two blood spatters on the ground. With droplets leading away. Now normally I would consider it supremely stupid to follow bleeding, and probably angry, thugs into the night. But this had easily been one of the weirdest nights of my life, and I was curious. So I slowly hobbled down the trail, eager to just end this altogether.

    I didn't take me long to reach the end of the blood trail. Suddenly I heard the sound of a club crashing into a body and dove behind one of the statues. I crept my head around to see one of Silas's lackeys holding my would-be assassin by her shirt. Now, usually I would just laugh at the irony, go back to the Popper's, have something extremely alcoholic, and call it a night.

    But I was curious. What sort of assassin, especially one so skilled, apologizes? I knew it would just keep nagging at me. So I quietly unsheathed my blade and walked towards the duo. The brute in question was an ugly sort with a huge beard with the crumbs of his last few meals. Dried blood covered the center of his forehead. He was saying things to the silver haired woman that I couldn't quite make out. In fact, everything was kind of looking fuzzy at the moment. Weird.

    With the last pinch of my energy I slashed my blade across the man's exposed backside. He writhed, dropping his captive. As he turned, I stabbed into his wrist, blood practically gushing out. He clenches his hand around it to try and stop the flow. His eyes were practically alight with anger.

    “I just sliced open one of your veins. With of how fast it's gushing out, I wouldn't say you have long. You best hurry to a doctor.” I say with all the smugness I could manage.

    It was nice to be in control occasionally. With something more akin to a guttural snarl, the man-beast raced off. Leaving me alone with a deadly assassin. Peachy.

    The woman looked up at me. Surprised at the recent turn of events. Even with her silver hair covering it, confusion was prominent all over her face.

    “Why would you-”

    I put a hand up to stop her.

    “I'm just curious to why an assassin would apologize.” I say with a smirk. Offering her a hand.

    As she reached out her hand, her eyes went up to my forehead, and then to the path I just walked from.

    “Your bleeding pretty badly.”

    Huh? I put my hand to my head, only to have it be covered in crimson liquid. I look back at at the pathway to see a trail of blood much more prevalent than that of the larger man. Everything fit into place.

    “So that's why everything was fuzz-”

    And then it all went black.
     
  12. FaustusXIII
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    Jaedis Averian

    I’m a cynic by nature, so once that giant had me in his meaty paws, I was not impressed with my chances of survival. Life does have its pleasant surprises though. Not long after he picks me up, I hear the whistle of a swift blade and my captor’s face twists in surprised agony before he drops me to the ground. I land with a resounding thud and add a bruised tailbone to my growing list of injuries. It has definitely been a while since I was in a good fight.

    Thankfully my head has decided to clear and I try to discern what is happening. I can almost feel the waves of anger coming off of the thug, but he just continues to stand there facing away from me towards something I can’t see. There’s a long pause before he turns and bolts away. As he leaves I can see him clenching a gushing wound on his wrist in an attempt to keep from bleeding out. Turning my gaze back, nothing could’ve shocked me more than what I saw. Ashenas, the man I’d almost killed earlier and who to my knowledge still believes I’m here to kill him, just saved my life. Confusion does not even begin to describe my feelings at the moment.

    I start to ask why he would do such a thing, but he stops me.

    “I'm just curious to why an assassin would apologize,” he says while smirking.

    That was his motive? Just curious? I suppose it’s not unlike my own motives at times… Barely still standing himself, he reaches a hand out to help me up. I begin to take it but pause, choosing instead to point out the seemingly obvious.

    “You’re bleeding pretty badly.”

    He looks surprised to find so much blood on his hand… and the path behind him. He mumbles something I don’t quite catch before passing out. Thankfully he had already been leaning towards me a bit, so when he fell I was able to mostly catch him and set him down gently. I try to get up, only to sit back down again. With the adrenaline leaving, my body is conveniently starting to remind me of the beating it just took. I decide to wait a moment to gather enough energy to push past it.
    A crow swoops down and lands on Ashenas’ chest, cawing angrily at me. I give it a weary smile.

    “No worries. I’ll take care of him.”

    My words startle me a bit. Take care of him, eh? Love to see how I’ll pull that one off. Getting up very slowly, I wobble a bit but retain my balance without too much trouble. I then go about trying to find the best way to transport him… anywhere. The crow looks on curiously. My deliberations are cut short by loud shouting. Loud shouting that’s getting closer.

    I could make a break for it, but… I glance back down at Ashenas. His dark hair has matted somewhat with blood, but his face is even more attractive up close. He looks so innocent and helpless knocked out like that. The crow caws suspiciously - how you differentiate, I’m not really sure. Mind made up, I just go for it. Kneeling down, I grab his left arm, brace his torso against my uninjured shoulder, wrap my right arm around his legs, and pull up with all my might. My possibly-dislocated left shoulder screams in pain, but I am surprisingly able to stand and balance with him draped unceremoniously over my right shoulder.

    The shouting continues and I feel the last bits of adrenaline kick in as I take off in search of the nearest inn. Since we had reached a better part of the city, no innkeeper worth his salt would let those thugs in to search for anyone. Before long, I come upon one called The Sequined Rooster. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. It’s late, so I don’t expect much activity inside. Entering quietly, I gesture to the innkeeper. He sees that I am… indisposed, and agrees to follow me upstairs.

    I find the first open room and enter, gently placing Ashenas on the only bed. Turning to the innkeeper, I give him the required amount for a night’s stay, some clean rags and water, a loaf of bread, and some cheese. I also add in a little extra for his assurance that there will be no disturbances. After receiving the items, I take careful measures in cleaning and dressing both of our wounds. My shoulder begins to throb uncontrollably and my vision blurs, but I fight it back until my task is done. At one point I have to stop and laugh to myself a bit. Aren't we a pair...

    Satisfied that we’ll both make it through the night, I place the bread and cheese near the bed, crumbling a bit of the bread in the occasion the crow stops by again. Taking one of the extra blankets, I walk unsteadily towards the settee and practically collapse on top of it, wincing as a sharp pain shoots up my left arm. Finally, I yield to the enveloping darkness of passed out oblivion…
     
  13. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Rauo Curoh

    I awoke to the sound of light tapping on the board above my head. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I looked up to see Getty smiling at me. He was a scrappy, unshaven, ginger haired man, who wore loose clothes at all times.

    "Duncan's waiting for you outside." He said with a smile, and stepped out of the cart.

    I slid from my cubby and stretched, before stepping from the cart out into the brightly lit square. The other merchants had opened their shops, and there was a large crowd of people bustling and jostling to get a look at the wares. Orel was already in the process of flourishing some glass vases at several admiring women.

    "Good morning Rauo." Came Duncan's voice from behind me, and I jumped and twirled around to find him leaning against the cart holding two fresh loaves. He handed me one, which I wordlessly accepted, and promptly bit into. "Did Orel inform you of our job?" He asked, scratching at his stubble. I didn't like stubble...

    I nodded, and shouldered the strap of my haversack, taking another large bite from the bread.

    "Excellent, let's be off then; we don't want to keep the woman waiting." He waved to Getty, who waved back. I tried to catch Orel's eye, but he was too busy with customers to notice.

    I stared at the houses as we walked. Dralge was an enormous city, built entirely on platforms over the Dralge Sea. I'd never liked this fact, as it meant that any storm could wash out the entire population. The houses were tall, with deep slanting roofs, covered in green tiles resembling fish scales. We passed house after house, and I watched the activities on the sea past the alleys. The day had scarce begun, yet the city was already awake and well into work.

    I peered down at the scroll I was holding to see where to go next. To my horror, it directed us to the docks. As we drew closer to our destination, the sun was blocked out by hundreds of gulls, flocking about the fishing boats and harassing the workers. The birds' cawing grew louder and louder, until I had to place my hands over my ears. Duncan peered at the scroll from over my shoulder, and I saw him mouth something, but only heard a faint mumble.

    "What?" I called, and he pointed to the furthest dock, which was void of fishermen and boats, save for a small craft with a tattered sail. Surely the woman didn't live in the small boat? Yet that was what was written on the scroll.

    As we moved, I started to step more carefully. I paused when I began to see gaps appearing between the planks, the salty water splashing beneath.

    "Go." Duncan said, gesturing for me to move. I reached out a foot, but withdrew it at once with a whimper. "Go!" He repeated more impatiently.

    Again, I sent out a probing foot, and tapped the plank in front of me. I felt a sharp push in the middle of my back, and stumbled forward trying desperately to keep my balance. I looked back in shock and fear to see Duncan, with his hand outstretched; the crimson about him seeming to be flicker and burn like a fire.

    "Wh-wh-wh-"

    "Keep going!" Duncan said harshly, pointing toward the boat. I tried to step back to the safety of the city, but he advanced on me. "Go!" He commanded.

    Trembling, I shook my head, and tried again to get back to safety. Duncan grabbed me by the front, and lifted me from the ground, moving so that he was holding me above the dancing waters, which rose up as if aware of my presence, and eager to pull me into its depths. My heart began to pound so fast that it hurt, and I writhed and twisted, flailing in a desperate attempt to get back onto solid ground.

    "P-p-please!" I shouted.

    "Will you go to the boat?" Duncan asked darkly, and shook me.

    "Y-yes!" I screamed, tears flowing from both my eye and empty socket, "P-p-p-p-please! Please!"

    Duncan pulled me back onto the dock, and threw me from him. I collapsed sobbing and shaking, hugging onto the planks from between the gaps.

    "Now move, bitch!" Duncan hissed, walking over to stand above me.

    Terrified, I rose to my hands and knees, my vision blurred from the tears streaming from my good eye. Dignity forgotten, I began to crawl along the dock toward the small vessel. The closer I drew, the more spaced the planks became, until I was almost leaping from one to another. Duncan stepped alongside me in long strides, all the while glaring down at me contemptuously. After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the boat, only to find it five feet out from the dock.

    "Jump." Duncan said, waving a hand to the craft.

    "I-... Can't." I could barely speak. Why did I have to do this? I tried to rise to my feet, but felt my legs wobble, and I fell back, clinging to the damp wood of the dock.

    "You try my patience!" Duncan snapped, and pulled me upright, half pushing half throwing me out to the boat. I prayed to every god I'd ever heard of that I would land in the boat, but it seemed that they had all previously decided that my life was to be cursed, and I landed with a splash into the sea.

    Screaming and crying in panic, I splashed about to stay afloat, as the shadow of Duncan flew above my head into the boat.

    "H-help!" I shrieked, as Duncan peered over the side at me. I felt a hand close upon my hair, then it tugged, lifting me from the cold waves. I dropped to the deck as Duncan released me, unable to stop shaking or sobbing.

    "Shut up!" Duncan said, and untied the boat from the dock, "I'm not going to listen to this the whole trip!"

    What trip? Where was he taking me? I couldn't even speak anymore, all that came from my mouth was gibberish. Slowly, I pulled myself into a corner of the boat, and curled into a ball. I wanted to die. Lies and torment followed me wherever I went. Why did my life have to be like this?
     
  14. Buggy
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    Cordelaine Dupont

    I awoke to the sound of trumpets welcoming yet another somebody into Ca'bilè, rolled onto my belly, and stretched till the tip of my toe reached the bottom left bedpost. The quality sheets were cool against my face and I considered falling back to sleep. What had I been dreaming about? Something better than reality, certainly.

    “Buh!” I exhaled loudly and sat up. I glanced around my room, checking to see if anything was out of place. My instruments were resting on the chest at the foot of my bed, my dress was draped on the chair at the desk, my boots were strewn across the floor, and – my hand went to my neck – my locket was still in place.

    I walked to the silver basin filled with water and stared at the polished silver hanging above it. Plain Laine stared back at me.

    “Hallo there old girl. Still hanging in there?” I splashed water on my face, dried it on my sleeping gown, and set to putting my face on. It was quick and easy, as I still had my youth, and I dressed with equal speed, lastly slipping my small dagger from below my pillow and hiding it on my person.

    On my way downstairs, I passed the innkeep. He was a small, portly man, whose face never exposed the disgust he felt toward me. If I hadn’t heard him coming round the corner with his wife one night, bad mouthing me and my profession, I would not have suspected a thing. The fact that I couldn’t read him made me dislike him more than his unkind words did.

    “Morning Miss,” he nodded congenially. I returned the nod, though somewhat lacking the same warmth. Faking it held no gain for me. I was paying the man, and was no way beholden to him.

    After stopping off for a quick bite at the small dining commons on the fifth floor, I continued down the spiraling stairs and headed out toward the town center. Crossing the rough stone street, I heard a familiar voice.
    “Cordelaine!” the high voice sang out. I turned to see Tamya, another Paramour, bustling in my direction, full skirt swishing side to side in the city grime. I pasted on a warm smile and waited for her on the other side of the street.

    “Good morning Tamya. How did you fair with that nice gentleman last night?”

    “Oh well enough, I suppose!” she giggled, raising her arm to show off a sparkly new addition to her wrist.

    “Why, what a fine looking bangle! That on top of the normal rate?” I cooed. The green stones were glass, poor girl. Tamya just giggled happily.

    “How about you? How was your night? I heard you found yourself a pretty one!”

    I thought back to my night, spent dumping the body of some nobleman’s second son into the swift river, and shrugged.

    “As good as one can expect from those boys.”

    “Aw.” She scrunched up her face knowingly. “Well would you like to join me for a coffee in the square?”

    I could never see the point of drinking the ridiculously priced beverage the other girls were so enchanted with, other than to be seen drinking it. No matter what you drank the next morning, everyone knew you were a whore the night before, but I was headed that way anyway to try and pawn off some of the goods I had just acquired, so I smiled and nodded. Linking arms, we headed down the road as trumpets announced another caravan of foreigners. The signing was quickly approaching, much to my disappointment. I enjoyed knowing that while I slit a man’s throat in his chamber, people all over the land were doing the same thing… essentially.
     
  15. Vamp_fan22
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    Vamp_fan22 Senior Member

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    oops sorry this was supposed to go in the discussion thread!
     
  16. Depressing Jester
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    Depressing Jester Member

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    Kilas Ashenas

    I awoke with a groan and a splitting headache. At first, my mind was to groggy to process where I was. I thought myself at home, waking up to a bad hangover. I winced as I rose, a sharp stinging feeling worming it's way through my chest. My hand shot for it, feeling the unfamiliar texture of bandages wrapped tightly around my chest. Don't remember that...

    Examining myself more thoroughly, I noticed similar bandages on my head. Wrapping itself over my forehead and left eye. My face itself felt relativity intact save for the clumps of dried blood dotting my left side. The headache itself was far too much to try to recall anything from the past night.

    I chuckled to myself. “ By Azrahael, must have been one hell of a drink.” Assuming this was merely a consequence for a night of bar hopping.

    As I lifted myself and slumped over the bed, I realized my surroundings. This was not my room. Which was easily enough to tell because of the lack of trash littered about. And it was not the Popper's Purse, because it didn't smell like stale urine and shame. But no matter how I tried, any chance of recollecting the memories of last night was only rewarded with more headache.

    With some effort, I was able to heave myself out of the sheets and shakily stand up. My legs were wobbling at first, fresh blood flowing into them. My shadow seemingly danced as the light from the room's only window shined over my shaky form. I reached for my shirt, which I found slumped on a nearby chair. As I slung it over my head, I noticed strands of silver glistening from underneath a cluster of blankets that lay near my bedside.

    Curiously I reached for the blankets, gently lifting them up to reveal what lay underneath. My eyes widened and my breath rushed from my maw. The assassin lay sleeping, her body curling against the blankets. It all came back to me now. The fight, the chase, the apology, my awesome rescue. But then it all gets fuzzy for some reason...

    I take a quick glance down at her.

    Did we...? No! Couldn't be. Though..... I suppose it could be possible, I mean, I am rather charming. I think with a smirk. But for the life of me I can not remember a damn thing? Did she drug me? GASP! Did she take advantage of me? And I don't even get to remember it! The fiend!

    I tie my rapier's sheath around my belt, loosely throwing on my leather chest-piece but not tightening. I continued to have questioning thoughts how I came to be in this situation, but decided not to wake my would be killer/rapist. Didn't seem like the best thing in the world to wake the assassin with fancy knives.

    Creeping as sneakily as a drunkard, I made my way to the door. Ever so quietly, I opened the door. Swearing at each and every squeak it made. After what seemed like an eternity finally got the cursed thing shut and made my way down the stairs. As I went I could smell the aroma of fresh baked hot-cakes. Defiantly not the Popper's.

    I managed to get all the way to the counter before I remembered my own poverty. Perfect. I motioned to the innkeeper.

    “Did you umm....See me come in with a lady? With silver hair?” I asked as awkwardly as possible.

    The innkeeper's accent did not do well on my headache. “ Yeah, I remember. Saw the girly drag your sorry hide in here last night.”

    Gasp! I knew it! She did take advantage of me. By the Old Ones, I feel so dirty...

    “I was surprised she managed to lift all of ya, what with you bleeding an' all.”

    “Bleeding?”

    “Ya, you looked like you got into a couple o' bad fights. Why do ya think you got all of those bandages eh?”

    I took a moment for the words to sink in. I guess that did make since. Maybe I was knocked out during the fights? Perhaps she actually just saved me from rotting in the streets. Anythings better than the alternative I guess, chuckling to myself. I looked up to notice the innkeeper looking down at me.

    “Gold is gold an' all, but you might tell your friend that most men of business would be reluctant to accept her kind of coin. What with the war jus' ending and all.”

    With a gesture he flicked a coin to me, landing square in my hand. I examine it a moment.

    “A Ceilien coin?” I said to myself after looking it over. What was the lady/assassin person doing with these?

    Suddenly I could hear my stomach grumble in dissatisfaction. I looked up sheepishly at the innkeeper.

    “Don't suppose you'd let me buy something with this?”
     
  17. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Laslo Windstride

    I finished my stew in silence, as the man named Randy talked with the barman; whose name was Hart, if I heard rightly. I sat about awkwardly after setting aside the bowl, feeling it would be rude to interrupt the others' conversation. Hart soon took notice of me, and excused himself from Randy.

    "Did you get enough to eat?" He asked kindly, as Randy departed to talk to some of the bar's crowd; most of whom he seemed to know.

    "Yes, thank you." I said, watching as Hart took the bowl and placed it in a large basin.

    "Now, about your pay-" He began, but i cut him off.

    "I appreciate the meal, but I don't feel I earned your compensation."

    "Think nothing of it, I wouldn't send you to Ca'bilè with empty pockets, nor without a map; you'd end up dead, or in Andant."

    I flushed at his words, "All the same," I muttered, "I don't want your pity."

    "It's not pity." Hart said, looking faintly annoyed at my stubbornness, "You performed for my customers as we agreed upon. If you insist that isn't enough, I can set you to work here for the night; I don't doubt Tel would enjoy your company." I winced as he pointed to the talkative girl, who was beaming at the prospect. Hart smirked at my reaction, "Will you take the pay?"

    I nodded. He is truly a kind man, I thought. I felt almost ashamed, as he pushed me a small pile of silver coins, and laid a map in front of me.

    "You're here," He began, sounding amused at his own words, as as he pointed to the upper left corner of the square page, "and Ca'bilè lies here." He pointed to the lower end of the map. "You will need to travel West and South along the coast to get to Dralge, which will take you three to five days depending on your speed." He looked up from the parchment, and gave me a grin, "Are you following?"

    I nodded, and stared at the map as he continued moving his finger across the map.

    "Once in Dralge, it's just a matter of finding a ship heading to Euphel. They'll take you straight to the harbor, not far from the palace, which is where the signing will be taking place."

    I couldn't help but grin. "Thank you." I said, and bowed my head, "I won't forget your kindness."

    "Yes well, if you ever stop by here again, I will expect an evening's worth of dancing songs free of charge." Hart grinned.

    I smiled, my sharp canine teeth showing as my lips stretched.

    "Now, Tel, if you could bring our bard Laslo to one of the empty rooms? He has a long journey ahead, and needs his rest."

    "Right sir." The girl smiled, then waved at me to follow. She guided me up a flight of stairs, and down a long hall of rooms; even here it was filled with people. She guided me to a door at the end of the hall, and opened it for me. She looked sad now. "Here's your room." She said.

    "Thank you." I muttered, entering the room, and turning to close the door.

    "Ya'll come back won't ya?" She asked, "I really did like your song."

    I smiled, and shrugged, "You could probably do a lot better than my music, girl. As for coming back, we'll see."

    "Don't call me girl." She said, sounding hurt, "It's Tel."

    "Er-sorry, Tel." I corrected myself, "Good night."

    "Good nigh-" The door cut off her last word. I let out a hiss, and clutched at my temples, trying to relieve my splitting headache. I'd never been in such a loud place, and even now I could still hear the muffled voices of the patrons below me.

    Pulling the lute from my shoulders, I laid it gently upon a chair beside the bed, then barred the door, before lying down to rest. I wouldn't forget the kindness Hart had showed me. I would return, but for now I needed to focus on my path ahead. The bard's song called to me, and I must answer. I was certain that the signing would bring me the inspiration that I needed so. I heard Tel's words in my mind as sleep began to envelop me. "I really did like your song." I saw her face from behind my closed eyes, and began to hear a melody I had never heard before; then sleep carried me away.
     
  18. FaustusXIII
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    FaustusXIII Member

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    Jaedis Averian

    A shiver courses through my body and I awake with a start. I look around confused for a moment before realizing that my blankets have been moved partway off. Well that explains the chill, but… I blush furiously realizing that the bed next to me is now empty. What did he think he was doing? You don’t just look under someone’s blankets… Also, I find myself slightly offended that he just left without a word.

    Calming down, I decide now is as good a time as any to get up. It takes some effort as I am having to heavily favor my left arm. Moving my shirt aside, I can see that the entire upper arm and shoulder is now a deep purple and black. The area where they connect seems to be quite swollen as well. I am now fairly convinced that the shoulder is dislocated, however I don’t think I can manage enough force right now to push it back myself. Bollix. I’ll have to deal with it later.

    I carefully put on my jacket and gather the rest of my things before going downstairs. After this whole escapade, it might be best just to continue on with my travels. Reaching the main room, I give a passing glance at the current occupants. I freeze for a moment as I see Ashenas sitting at the counter with his back to me. Apparently he hasn’t left quite yet. I fight an inner battle with myself as to whether or not I should approach him. What would I even say? This has been the most awkward first meeting imaginable and I’m not really sure what to do with that.

    Deciding against, I turn and make my way to the door. Fate seems to have other plans though as I hear a booming voice echo across the room. I grimace. The innkeeper spotted me. He was a nice guy and all, interesting accent, but I had hoped to avoid unnecessary attention. Now he was striding towards me with a rather jolly expression and seemingly not a care in the world.

    “Heya girly! Leavin’ so soon? Yer man friend over there is tryin’ to eat me out of business.”

    "He's not my-"

    The innkeeper guffaws loudly, slapping me on the shoulder in mirth.
    The left shoulder.

    I feel the blood drain from my face, white sparks flashing across my vision. The world starts spinning wildly and I reach for something – anything – to keep me from crashing face-first onto the inn floor. Perhaps staying in bed longer would have been the better idea.
     
  19. Vamp_fan22
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    Vamp_fan22 Senior Member

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    Alexandrus Brandt

    I was awakened by the sound of an animal approaching me. My eyes opened and I gasped when I saw an enormous boar standing just a few feet in front of where I sat leaning against a tree. Not good.I thought to my self climbing slowly to my feet and grabbing my bow. This was not going to be an easy kill, I knew that much. The boar made an angry noise deep in it's throat then it charged. I gasped and scrambled up the tree trunk narrowly avoiding being gored to death by the boar's tusks. I had dropped my bow in the process, stupid of me. Luckily I still had my bag slung over my shoulder. Clinging to the nearest branch I dug in my pack and retrieved my bone handled knife which gleamed dangerously in the sunlight. The boar had reared up against the tree I could feel the tree shaking slightly as the boar slammed into it. Now this was getting annoying. Using the trunk of the tree as a springboard I flung myself down over the boar's head and bought my dagger down into the the thing's back. It let out an angry squeal and bucked while I clung to it's back. Pushing myself up as far as I could I wrapped my arm around the boar's head and slit it's throat, it's blood poured from the wound and onto my hands. It let out out a tiny cry before it fell to the ground. Climbing up from the boar's back I wiped my dagger on my dirty tunic. My hair had fallen loose from it's braid and fell around my face. Putting my dagger in my pack I walked over to were I had dropped my bow and placed it in my pack as well. Then I turned to where the dead boar lay I bent down and grabbed it by it's head and tried to haul it over my shoulder but stopped when I felt a sharp pain in my right shoulder. Turning my head I saw my tunic was ripped and stained with blood. Damn boar got me. I pushed my sleeve down to see the wound clearer and gasped. The wound was near my collarbone it was deep and long like someone had slashed me with a knife. Damn. I removed my cloak and tossed it down on the ground. Then I tore off the sleeve of my tunic and wrapped it around my shoulder and tied it off with my teeth which was rather difficult and took quite a bit of effort. When I had done this I grabbed the boar again and pulled trying to avoid putting a lot of strain on my wounded shoulder. I then began dragging the boar in the direction of the palace. Hort'neer would eat well tonight that was for damn sure.
     
  20. Buggy
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    Buggy Member

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    Tamya proved a helpful subterfuge, validating my counterfeit cause for visiting various store fronts – shopping. While she pawed through various imported silks and parasols, I managed to get a few coppers for a pocket watch in excellent condition, and as she was admiring herself in a fashionable new dress, I was haggling with the clerk over a luxurious black cape. Certain sensitive items, such as a golden ring with a family sigil, would have to be sold in the more crooked part of town, but the depraved young man had kept a wonderful stash of silver coin in his many pockets, so I did not begrudge him.

    I had parted ways with my courtesan cohort under the pretext of meeting with a new client. In truth, I just needed some time to myself, to think on my next move. Although this flood or people, from peons to princes, provided opportunities for expanding business, it was also creating a dangerously warm climate among patrons. I feared that the inevitable consequence of affluent men disappearing would accelerate with all this word of mouth.

    I decided I would leave town soon after the signing, and until then, I would seek out merchants who were traveling alone only. No nobility, no man with someone to speculate at his disappearance. Also, I would not make advance engagements. Last minute connections would avoid the possibility of innkeepers and friendly roommates being made aware of their plans.

    I worried still. Tamya and the other girls had eyes all over town, and they loved to gossip, but getting in with the townies was a necessary measure when setting up shop in any new place. In the few months I had been here, I had seen numerous girls get roughed up for making solicitations without contacting the proper authorities on such matters, and it seemed that here in Ca'bilè they were especially heavy handed when doling out these punishments. I tried to put the setback out of my mind. I would deal with it as it became more problematic. For now, nobody suspected me of being anything but a well-paid paramour.

    I had heard talk in that regard. Nell, a rather buxom beauty with a shining smile, had once hinted to my “doing quite well, considering”, and another one of the girls drunkenly told me that I wasn’t pretty enough for the job. None of it offended me, of course, although it did alert me to the “many-eyes” situation. I was not overly extravagant, and the only way the girls would now precisely how much I do make is if they saw what goes into the safe at the front desk of The Silver Palm, where I took my lodgings. Since then, I try to keep some of my coin stashed in various hiding spots I made in my room, but it’s becoming very inconvenient.

    As I mulled this all over, I sat on the balcony of the topmost floor of my inn, and looked out over the city. The Palm wasn’t the tallest tower in the city, not by far, but it still had a wonderful view from the roof. It was now nearing sunset, and golden clouds streaked the deepening blue sky at an angle with the myriad towers. Of all the places I had been, I thought I would miss this city the most. Tamya and the girls had been relatively welcoming, the climate was unrivaled, and the towers were my perfect companions, providing a protective presence and saying very little.
     
  21. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Laslo Windstride

    I looked out on the city of Dralge. I had spent the last five days traveling from Terillo. After I had awoken, I had tried to sneak out unnoticed, but Hart had pulled me aside, and and thrust several loaves of bread upon me. "For the road." He had insisted.

    Tel had also postponed my departure, stopping me by the gate, and asking if I could simply stay there. I hadn't answered, but had walked past her. I didn't know myself why I hadn't stayed. It was one of the nicest towns I'd ever been in, even if I had been ridiculed as a bard. Something about walking along, with the unsurity of your life ahead appealed to me. I had spent most of my walking time strumming my lute, and looking around for something to give me inspiration. I had watched the birds, and listened to them sing. Birds were truly fascinating creatures.

    I was enjoying the warmer climate of Ceilien. The sun was hot, and the grass soft; the perfect weather for traveling. And though my feet were blistered and torn from the road, I felt optimistic, something that was rare for me.

    And now I stood, gazing out at the enormous city of Dralge. It was an incredible sight. A gigantic rope bridge connected the side of the cliff to the bottom of the wooden platform that held Dralge one hundred or so feet above the water. The platform had three tiers, the top appearing to be a wealthy residential area, filled with large houses and churches. The middle was a series of empty bridges and paths, and the lowest were the docks, with several rundown houses, and a large merchant's square.

    I stared for a long time, absently plucking the random string on my lute, before coming back to myself, and setting off down toward the rope bridge. The was a large contingent of wagons and travelers passing across the bridge. There were several guards armed with bows, standing on either side, that descended upon the newcomers to check them. I joined the large crowd, and began to move across the bridge. I tried not to look over the side at the sickening drop below.

    "Oi, you. Fynian." A voice called out to me, and I turned to see a young guard gesturing, and walking toward me. "State your business here." He asked, not unkindly.

    "I'm just passing through." I said vaguely, "Do you know where I could find a ship heading to Euphel?"

    "Hmm." The guard said, "Not any ferries have come by of late, but you could always check with the locals; they'd take you there for the right price."

    "Thank you." I said, inclining my head, "May I pass?"

    "No weapons on you are there?" The guard asked.

    "No." I said, lifting my arms, and opening my cloak, "I'm just a bard."

    "Right, go on then." The guard said, then as I turned, "But wait! Do you need to exchange any coin for Ceilien currency? Most people in Dralge don't accept foreign stuff."

    "Yes." I said. I hadn't realized that I needed Ceilien coins. "I've never been to Ceilien before."

    "Oh right then, follow me, I'll take you to the coin trader."

    I nodded, and followed the guard across the bridge into Dralge.

    "That middle tier there," The guard said as we passed under it, "is a kind of highway through the city. If you need to be somewhere, and don't want to bother with crowds, you just climb down a ladder, and take this tier to another ladder closer to your destination."

    "Interesting." I said distractedly, still trying not to look over the edge.

    "Right, over here." The guard said, waving me toward a small building, "You'll find everything you need in there. I need to get back to my post, good luck finding a boat."

    "Thank you." I called, as he ran off up the bridge to peaks above. How helpful.

    I stared at the entrance to the building. Did I really need to exchange my coin? I enjoyed having currency from all around the nations. If what the guard had said was true though, I'd need Ceilien money to board a ship, something I didn't have. I didn't even know how much that would cost. Maybe I should find somewhere to play for some extra money before I set out. But did I have time? Sighing, I entered the building. It was very undecorated on the inside. A counter, a man standing behind it, and the door to some room behind him.

    "Ah, a visitor from afar?" The man asked, sounding bored, and leaning casually against the counter as I approached, "Need to exchange some coin?"

    "I suppose." I said, reluctantly pulling my coin pouch from my side, and opening it.

    "Let's see what you've got then." The man said, tapping a spot on the counter-top with a finger, and peering uninterestedly as I emptied the pouch's few contents on it. "Not much here is there?" He muttered, sifting through the battered copper coins, and the few silvers from Hart, "This couldn't even get you three scale."

    "Scale?" I asked.

    "Ceilien currency." The man said impatiently, pulling two large ornate bronze coins and one smaller bronze coin from under the counter, and slapping them on the desk next to my pile, "Here's two scale, and one coral. Take it or leave it, but there's not much you can do here with what you have now."

    Biting my lip, I stared at the three shiny coins, then at my pile. I didn't have much of a choice.

    "Fine." I said unhappily, taking the coins, and sticking them in the pouch, as the man slipped the other pile off the counter into a very full wooden crate.

    "Enjoy your time at Ceilien." He said with a smirk.

    I heard a derisive chuckle from the man as I left. Feeling that I'd just been cheated, and with no way to prove it, I made my way through the plank streets into the mess of old houses, and toward the merchant's square that I'd seen from the cliffs. That would be the best place to search.
     
  22. vulpeslagopus
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    vulpeslagopus New Member

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    Randy sat at the bar, as pretty as the town was this time of year... he hated the cold, he hated it with a passion. this was the only time he ever used the bed at the inn, and he still felt a little bad even though he helped them out during the storm season.

    the next day, randy came staggering down the stairs, hungover from the night before. each step sent a shock through his body. he sat down at the bar and buried his head in his hands.

    "hart.... ...how...how many beers did i have last night?", randy studdered.

    "oh, about 24", hart said casually

    Randy started digging through his wallet," how much is that?"

    "no charge, its the least i can do to thank you for fixing my wall after that bar fight last week", hart said pardoning randy's debt.

    "no, i'll pay", randy said.

    "randy, its fine", hart said",...do you even have the money?"

    "uhh...well", randy stuttered looking at the nearly empty wallet.

    "like i said, we're good". hart said.

    "hey hart, ill pay you back when i can alright", randy promised.

    "alright st.john. but its alright, really", hart said.

    "i'll pay you", randy said.

    "anyways, so you going to the signing?", hart changed the subject.

    "what now?", randy said.

    "you know, the treaty?", hart said.

    "what treaty?", randy said bewildered.

    "my lord, you spend way to much time in the woods st. john", hart said shaking his head.

    "um...", randy said embarreresd.

    "are you going?", hart asked.

    "whis it between?", randy asked.

    "everyone", hart said worried.
     
  23. Depressing Jester
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    Depressing Jester Member

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    Kilas Ashenas

    I had been been begging for a meal for a good ten minutes before she came down, the innkeeper's temper rising more than his sense of charity. She came down in a sort of daze, her steps seemingly out of rhythm. The innkeeper walks briskly for a man his size, and approaches her. They share a few words I couldn't quite make out, occasionally gesturing to me. At the end of it I could hear the innkeeper's hearty laugh before slapping her on the shoulder. Must of hit a sore spot, because the color drained right from her face.

    She wobbled a bit as the innkeeper made his way back to the kitchens. Her eyes traveled over the room before landing on me. I swear I could see a fire in them, because she darted right over to wear I was sitting, pain seemingly forgotten. Before I could say two words a hand flung across her body and collided with my face. Stars flew along my vision as my face hit the table. I stood there for a moment, feeling the hand print fester on my face.

    “Just what the hell have you been telling people!” she shouted.

    “Not much.” I say with a sneer. Little early for this ****. “Your not really that talkative when your unconscious!”

    Her face seemed to get even more angry. If that was even possible. Justifiable terror began to creep its way up my back. But my sneering quickly overcame it.

    “Don't blame that on me! What kinda man doesn't notice he's bleeding half to death?”

    “What kind of assassin gets beaten by a man who probably couldn't spell his own name?”

    A second hand reached around at my face, hitting the exact same spot. By Azrahael, this morning is turning out splendid. Though in hindsight I really didn't think that one through, her saving my skin and all. But seriously, it's a little early for this! With all the morning grogginess slapped away, I noticed shades of purple emulating from her shoulder.

    “Your arm looks in pretty bad shape.” I state rather obviously.

    Her eyes dart toward her arm again before back at me. Her righteous womanly rage subsiding a little, causing her to slightly slump in her chair.

    “I, uh, think it's dislocated.” she says rather awkwardly.

    “I think I can get it.” I say. Reaching out my arms toward hers.

    She pulls her dislocated arm back, using her other to push my hands away. Her face making a really confused gesture.

    “If you don't let me, the bruising is only gonna get worse. And honestly that can't be comfortable.” I say rather matter-of-factually. My concern overlapping my usual sneering.

    With a rather loud sigh, she submits her arm. Leaning it very cautiously in my direction. I take her arm a gently pull it back, noticing the bruising had traveled almost down to the elbow at this point. I gently turn her around and ask her to face the counter.

    “What are y-” she begins to ask, before a small scream filled the room. While she was distracted I had quickly pulled her bone back and snapped it into place with a rather loud crack. The innkeeper apparently heard, because he was back in the room in a flash, a butcher knife gripped in his sweaty palm. I notice a large grin cover his face. I was a little confused at first, wondering what the hell he was looking at. But then I noticed the position of mine and the lady's bodies over the counter. I quickly put two and two together.

    “Oh shut up.” I say. Rather annoyed at this beautiful string of bad luck I've been having.

    “Couldn't even wait to get back to the room, eh?” he chuckles.

    Suddenly the I could see the assassin's face go bright red. At first I thought it might have been embarrassment, but when I looked into her eyes..... Acting smartly, I let go of her arm.
     
  24. FaustusXIII
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    FaustusXIII Member

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    Jaedis Averian

    A battle ensues in my head between pain, rage, and embarrassment. The slow dulling of pain in my shoulder calms me a bit, and I turn to Ashenas. Gripping his arm firmly, I begin pulling him towards the stairs while ignoring the curious and mocking stares from the other patrons.

    I continue this way until we reach the room I’d purchased. Once inside, I slam the door behind us and turn to him with a serious expression.

    “Let’s get this straight. Nothing happened between us last night. This morning…?” I question.

    He smirks a bit but shakes his head.

    “Good. And we’re going to pretend that little incident downstairs never happened.” I relax a bit. “Since I’m tired of only knowing you by one name with no distinction as to first or last, what is your full name?”

    “Kilas Ashenas,” he says with a flourish. “And you are?” I feel the hint of a smile, but quickly push it away.

    “My name is Jaedis Averian.” I could see more questions behind his eyes and I sigh. “What else would you like to know?”

    “I am kinda curious about what happened last night. I haven’t come up with anything that really explains the, uh, events?”

    I suppose he would be rather confused about all that… Feeling somewhat sheepish, I explain the motive behind our first encounter and what directly followed. I conveniently leave out the part about me actually almost killing him… His face remains a mask of disbelief until I finally finish, at which point he just shakes his head and gives a sharp laugh.

    “You really had me going there – Jaedis, was it?”

    “Yes.” I smile fully this time, unable to help feeling somewhat at ease around him… and it makes me nervous. If this continues, it may throw me off next time I run into something. Like last night. My smile fades.

    “Well, the experience has been… interesting. To say the least. The room is paid up through tonight if you wish to remain and I’m sure I can convince the innkeeper to provide some food.” I turn to walk out.

    “Wait, just like that? We’ve only just met! Plus, you never know who might be lurking around to get another shot. It could be safer to stay together until you’re fully healed.” He hides his intentions well, as I can’t tell whether the offer is made out of concern or self-preservation.

    “I can take care of myself,” my turn to grin smugly.

    “Well alright then… Seems a waste of a perfectly good meeting.”

    “No worries, Kilas. I’m sure if Fate means for us to remain together it will find its own way of bringing it about.” And with that, I walk out. I secretly wish I believed my own prediction.

    Making my way outside into the sunshine, I breathe deeply of the fresh smells of the market. Ensuring that my sleeves are pushed down far enough to cover the bruising and raising my hood, I set out into the city. If what I heard in the pub yesterday is correct, someone in this part of Andant is offering a rather large assassination contract. It seems just the right thing to get back into the swing of things after last night’s detour.

    I begin weaving my way swiftly through the stalls and alleyways, stopping occasionally to check my directions. Everything is going smoothly and I give my left arm a little gentle stretching as I get closer to my objective. I stop short when my ear catches a gentle whimpering emanating from an alley to my left. Turning into it, I walk slowly towards the sound. The alley is dark, even this early in the day. The buildings on either side leave it in perpetual shadow. My eyes adjust enough to see three men surrounding what looks like an unconscious woman on the ground. My eyes narrow in annoyance.

    Those bastards… I’ll teach them to not even think of doing something like this again.

    Before I can begin, I hear a child’s pitiful voice cry out.
    “No! You stay away from my Mommy!” I see the child throw her arms and body over her mother’s, willing to do anything to protect her.

    “Jae-Jae!"

    A pent-up rage explodes from within me.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I look on with cold derision as I slide my hidden blade easily into the guard’s abdomen, throwing one of my daggers into the throat of another. More guards attempt to stop me, but all are cut down as easily as the first. I’m here for a job and it’s been long enough.

    With the war going on, the Count rarely left his large house and always kept a full guard on watch. To get close enough to him, I’d needed to ingratiate myself into the household. To my good fortune, they had been in dire need of another cook. Being reasonable enough at the trade, I applied for and got the job. My original plan had only been to stay there for a few days, max… But then I met Lily.

    It was my first day, and I had not been enjoying it thus far. Taking a short break, I sat down and closed my eyes. Upon opening them, I was looking directly into the curious deep blue eyes of a five-year-old.

    “Who are you?” queried the eyes from beneath a large curly mop of golden hair.

    “Hm? Oh, I’m Jaedis.”

    “Jae… Jae…”

    “Jae – dis.”

    The girl backed up a bit, face dimpling into a smile. “Hehe! Jae-Jae!”

    “What? No- Jae. Dis.”

    “I’m Lily. Will you play with me, Jae-Jae?”

    I sigh in annoyance, “No. I have work to do.”

    Her face puckered in disappointment and I spotted what may be the onset of tears. I panicked slightly- too much attention could breed suspicion so I thought quickly.

    “How about I give you something sweet right now and we can play later?”

    Her face lit up once more and she squealed in delight, throwing her chubby little arms around my neck.

    “Thanks, Jae-Jae!” she released her grip and skipped off. What had I gotten myself into…

    Days grew into weeks as I slowly grew more attached to the little twerp. I continued to put off my true purpose until one day a letter arrived for me. It was under my door when I got back from playing with the young one. I read it quickly before crushing it in my hand. The cold bastards in charge thought it might interest me to know that the Count had discovered and executed one of our spies in the Main Council. It was Jarek. He had been one of my closer friends amongst the Ceilien troops.
    Message received, gentlemen. Playtime is over.

    And now I find myself surrounded by the corpses of the Count’s entire guard, looking into the face of the one who murdered my friend. And I feel nothing. Moving close to the cowering figure, he collapses to his knees. I draw my arm back, preparing to plunge my hidden blade into his chest.

    “Jae-Jae, no!" I hear Lily scream from the door a few feet to my right, but nothing would stop me now. I begin to thrust my arm downward. A sharp pain in my back causes me to close my eyes, cringing in pain, but my arm continues on its course. I feel the familiar sensation of blade entering flesh, but something is wrong…

    Opening my eyes, my heart stops for what feels like eternity. I’m struck with a feeling of familiarity as I stare into deep blue eyes, their former curiosity replaced by confusion. Horror floods through me as I realize who my blade is piercing. I quickly retract the blade, catching the small body before it falls and holding it in my arms.

    “Jae-Jae?” Lily whimpers before the life leaves her innocent eyes. I lay her down gently, feeling a piece of myself die…

    The Count stares blankly at me, his senses no longer with him. Unable to bear the thought of any more death in that room, I sprint for the far door. A crossbowman stands in the way, looking on in shock. I shove past him, resisting the urge to kill him for being the cause of my mistake. I can feel nothing, but I know his bolt is still lodged in my back as I escape from the household.

    The war ended not long after. Rumors of the Count’s madness at the loss of his daughter spread through the realms, but few took notice of such a small sadness in this time of celebration.

    But there was no celebration for me.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I snap back to the present to find myself holding one of the ruffians, dead, my blade entering under his chin. Letting him fall, I realize that the other two are lying in pools of their own blood, also dead. I feel surprise, but no remorse. My eyes fall on the child – she’s utterly terrified.

    “St- stay away! Y-you won’t hurt my Mommy!” she stutters, still sprawled over her mother.

    Emotionless, I walk past them. I find my contact with no further issue and accept the job without hesitation. The wait for nightfall begins and I find a cruel smile on my lips once more.

    It seems more blood will be spilt tonight.
     
  25. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Rauo Curoh

    I lay in the boat, as Duncan moved around; making adjustments in the sail, and glaring at me all the while.

    "Two years." He finally said, in a low hiss, and stopping just to stare at me. I said nothing, but continued to hug my knees to my chest. "It's been two years." He repeated, beginning to pace, and seeming to grow more agitated with each word, "Two years since you ran. Two years since we lost that battle. Two years since we lost our king!" He stopped pacing to stand above me, a look of cold fury on his face. What was he talking about? I hadn't seen him in the army. How would he know?

    "You had one job to do." He said softly, leaning in until his face was inches from mine, "Find the other kings, so that we could kill them. We could have won the war for Euphel, but you ran. My brother and I were sent to find you before the battle started, but we failed. We searched and searched, until finally, Getty saw you with that old bastard in Dralge. By then, the battle had long since been fought, and our king slain. This "new king" called for a treaty! One we wouldn't need one if you'd just stayed like you were supposed to!" He emphesized his last word by striking me across the face. I felt the wet bandages covering my eye loosen, and fall away, revealing the empty socket. Duncan grinned sadistically at the sight.

    "Wh-... W-..."

    "Your eye..." He whispered, leaning in so close that I could feel his stubble brush against my bruised cheek, "Did it hurt when you lost it?"

    I couldn't answer. I was terrified at the look he was giving me.

    "Did it hurt when the soldier raped you?"

    I recoiled, throwing out a hand as the image flashed back into my mind. I whimpered, lashing out against my imaginary attacker. Duncan gave a heartless laugh.

    "You shouldn't have run." He said, rising so that he was once again standing above me, "You'll feel far worse before I let you die. I have a job for you."

    I tried to rise to my feet, clinging to the side of the boat for support as the deck swayed beneath me. All the while Duncan watched, making no move to stop or restrain me. I looked over the side at the waves splashing around us. Dralge was still in sight. Could I swim?

    "You won't try anything." Duncan laughed, moving to lean against the side next to me, still giving me that terrible look, "You see, I've thought about this for a long time. Planning the whole thing from the moment we found you. I know you freaks have great strength. I also know that your bodies are very frail. You won't escape, because you are scared of the water and drowning. You won't kill me, because you don't know how to sail. And," He paused to point triumphantly at the sail of a ship in the distance following us, "you won't try anything in the first place, because Getty has your old friend."

    I stared out horrified at the small ship. For some reason, it seemed to be engulfed by a shroud of greyish blue. I fought to see past it. Then, I could see the tiny flickering yellow light that was Getty. I strained my eye, seeking until my heart feeling as though it would stop, I saw the faint white light that belonged to Orel. I slumped to the floor of the boat again, my shoulders shaking with sobs.

    "W-why?" I pleaded, "Please..."

    "Why?" Duncan spat, his face unrecognizable, "Because you have to make up for what you did. You're going to stop the damn signing!"

    My eyes widened as Duncan's words hit me. Stop the signing? What was he going to make me do? He had begun to rummage through a pack resting against the mast, then straightened, holding a barbed abject. I shrank away from it, a scream frozen on my lips, and my back beginning to throb, as my mind went back to the ceaseless nights of being trained "obedience".

    Duncan's head twitched, as he pulled the object over his hand. "Rauo... Do you remember the glove?"
     

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