Jowayne Cornish scowled as he stumped through the doorway of the Leaden Cockroach, happily slaming the door on the clamour that echoed through the streets, southerners bleating like a mass of sheep as they hawked their wares. In the tracker's oppinion you'd have to be as stupid as a sheep to want to buy some of the stuff that passed for produce here...
It was the coin that flowed through this city's viens that clogged them with detritus, the debtors, the beggars, the wealthy and poor. And it was this coin that had led Jowayne to Demarkon, he was pleased to say that he wouldn't be staying another week.
The interior of the tavern belied its modest exterior, a second story balcony faced outwards from the walls, two sets of spiral stairs leading up to the gallery. The commonr room below was well lit with an abundance of tables and patrons to fill them, too many to just be having a drink.
Word had clearly gone around that all the major expeditionaries met here and hired here. Seated before him were enough armed men to make the common room look like a barracks, however a few stood out...
One man, seated alone despite the overcrowding, languishing in the shadows below one of the balconies. It wasn't so much the man's features, clearly foreign, that made him stand out but rather the greatsword and scimitar that rested, crossed on his back and the uncompromising penetration of his gaze...Jowayne had seen those eyes and weapons before, thrice, on Arkosian Inquisitors. Like a well placed arrow they saw through you and clean out the other side. No wonder he had been let alone...
Also standing, looking for a seat, was a dwarf, unbearded and with the remains of scarring around his chin. An axe, massive on his burly frame, was slung over the mercenary's broad shoulders and from the glower on his face and the taught muscles of his arms, he knew how to use it and felt willing to.
Nak Kar stared around the common room, casting a glance at the rugged hunter that had just arrived...almost as rugged as the hide-clad berserker himself.
There was a lot of competition for this job, the common room seemed to be filled with anyone who could afford a weapon, some confident, others decidedly nervous. Nak was pleased to note that very few had the bearing of any real callenge...or threat.
Following the huter's gaze the dwarf scowled, the lone man was watching him, expression set behind his gleaming, dark eyes. Uncomfortable, Nak sets off, seeing whether he can find any potential employment or his chances to regain honour would have to wait...
Arymeith cast a fleeting glance over the common room, relishing the quiet of the balcony table and her seat beside the window where the cool evening air played accross her exposed arms and face. Around the table the rest of the 'expedition' sat, waiting, it seemed, for something.
To her left, Caverlen sat, his slightly narrowed gaze displaying her master's unease. The mage's blond hair and beared swayed every breeze, the only movement his body made. He'd been like this ever since the results of their last job, gratifyingly humane with his guilt, one of the things that had let her forgive him after what he had done to the ruined girl who, by all rights, should have died.
Accross from her sat the monster of a man, Talent Garthell, his fine leather jerkin giving way to his massive, bemuscled arms which lay twitching on the tabletop, turning his empty tankard in endless circles, he too was uneasy. Arymeith had herd a quickly whispered argument between him and Verkoth in the corridor outside thier rooms, althoug even her keen hearing could not discern what the two had disagreed about.
Then there was Verkoth himself, long, lank hair covering most of his pale face, an almost monastic robe of midnight black. His gloved hands were folded in front of him, eyes closed and drink untoutched, from the slit of his features she could see she thought him to be smiling.
Then, finally, next to her, was the most nervous of the quintet, Actarsis, an overly pale Myanmade dressed in rags. Arymeith was not sure where Actarsis' expertise lay, however for Verkoth to hire such a highly-strung individual he must have some particular utility.
All of them jumped when Verkoth suddenly shifted his posture, straightening in his chair and nodding to Arymeith and Talent.
"Could the two of you please inform the...prospective horde below that I am ready to recieve applicants. I have no intention wasting any more of my evening until the other expeditions begin to hire."
Last evening, Victory Boulevard, 10:00PM
Arctarsis' fingers twitched nervously as the five sillouettes circled him, eyes darting to the clubs, batons and sole rapier the small group carried. It seemed that his days as a theif were numbered, unless word of his blunder hadn't reached this district yet...clinging to that blind hope he tried to relax, the weight shifting slightly from his tensed shoulders.
"Well, well, well...I see we've found ourselves a falcon without a hood." This was the rapier speaking, fingering the hilt of his weapon as his words hissed from an ugly grin.
"No collar, no escape."
Arctarsis winced at the automatic response from the man's 4 cronies, each of them hefting their wooden impliments with a violent zeal.
"What happens to Greyblod filth that gets caught after dark without a collar?"
Arctarsis would have interjected at that point but roars for his swift and macarbre demise drowned out any appeal his quivering larynx might have formed. Instead he whispered silently to himself, "Help."
"I don't suppose you do have a collar, hidden amidst those rags, Greyblood?" The rapier-man steps forwards, the blade of his thin weapon gleaming as it half slides out of its sheath.
"It would be a shame if he did...or if he was the recently purchased property of a private gentleman." An unfamiliar voice purrs from behind the group. "Such as myself." All heads turn to a man swathed in black robes leaning casually against a wall, arms folded in his voluminous sleeves.
Fully drawing his weapon, rapier points the blade at the newcomer, its point quivering with scorn.
"Nonsense, if you purchase him he isn't yours uless there's your mark upon his body or clothes, although if you ask me we're doing you a favour exterminating this...filth theyre-"
"You do use that adjective a lot, young man," The stranger rights himself, taking a step forwards. "Now unless you want me to help you a long by stitching a few synonyms into your hide, run along an leave me and my porter be."
The rapier, still quivering, rises to the level of the man's heart, its wielder barring his teeth,
"I take offence at that...sir, being of genteel breeding I see no course other than to test your honour with my blade."
All eyes rest upon the rapier's quivering point which slowly dips lower and lower until the man collapses, an ugly knife buried in his side. Turning to the rest of the thugs the stranger cocks his head at the mouth of a nearby alley, flipping a second blade idly between his hands. Without a word, the men scuttle off, one even dropping his club in his rush to depart.
"My apologies for this...mess, I was hoping to find you sooner." The stranger takes a tentative step forwards, laying down his remaining weapon at his feet. "You need not fear me, Actarsis, I did not come here to do you harm, merely to offer you...shall we say, a way out of your current position."
"My name is Verkoth and I find myself in need of the services of an individual of your talents. You need out of this city and I am willing to give you such an oppertunity, provided that you do something in return for me. How does that sound?"
Actarsis had to stop himself from stepping back. While he had no doubt that the man in front of him may be carrying many more concealed weapons, it wouldn't be ideal for him to show any more weakness against someone looking - it sounded - to hire him.
Actarsis' mind worked quickly as he sized the man - Verkoth - in front of him up. If this man was looking to cash in on the bounty himself, then he would have been better to threaten Actarsis at dagger point. Trickery was unnecessary - it wasn't as if one needed to be subtle when threatening or attacking a Myanmade in Demarkon. And turning in Actarsis for the bounty would make this man enough to buy a slave, so he's not looking to enslave him.
And, he was visibly rich regardless. So he either truly is looking to...'employ' Actarsis (as had many before), or he held some unknowable grudge, as unlikely as that was. One way or another, chances seemed favourable that this man is not looking to turn him in, and indeed may offer a mutually beneficial arrangement. The perfect kind.
'But,' Actarsis thought, his eyes glancing to the slumped Celian near him, 'Killing that thug, as timely as this man's intervention was, has already added to my long-term problems.'
The Myanmade lifted his eyes back to Verkoth in front of him. Something about this man was...unusual. He would be sure to thank his Ancestors for surviving this day, at least.
"So. You know my name, and my problems and - supposedly - my feats. The only reason I can think of that you're coming to me specifically is because you cannot back up your offer with coin, and so you seek someone with a bounty upon their arrest so you can 'pay' me just with transport out of the city? I hope you understand such meager favours to me are hardly worth risking my neck on some kind of heist." Actarsis pointed out. As intimidating as the man who slaughtered a thug within a heartbeat can be, Actarsis needed to know what compensation this job would provide. Even if he got out of the city, he desperately needed to recoup the loss of his stash of gold and silver when his best hideout was found by some of the city guards, and a well-paying job may just do that.
"And," Actarsis continued, listening carefully to ensure he heard if footsteps approached from any direction as he spoke, "How do you know I haven't already made my own arrangements of getting myself out of this city? And how do you think you're going to get away with killing him, or are you just going to try to lay that on me?" Actarsis accused, nodding his head towards the fallen Celian.
In truth, Actarsis had at least hoped to lie his way into one of the expeditions he'd heard about, as long as he could convince them of a Myanmade's usefulness outside of being a slave, but he had realized the likelihood of such a plan not backfiring being slim.
Posted on 2012-02-01 at 13:31:46.
Edited on 2012-02-01 at 13:33:23 by Celtia
Unconsiously Nak fingered the shaft of his axe, the others looked away form him as it become apparent it might become purposeful. He heard something "Shpliple Droot Glort", Nak became wary as he looked around and behold, behind was a man eating soup. He sighed in relief. Lo and behold, the hunter was still looking at him, he and his eyes that stared so very well. Nak was aware of hiw much of an oddity he was, in society now, he was wary; in the field..that was a different story. He found a seat, sat down and ordered....soup...and ale. Once he got them he began to eat and still, yes still, felt the look.
((this was fun to write))
Posted on 2012-02-05 at 00:38:48.
Edited on 2012-02-05 at 00:40:09 by Takley
Enter the hunter/guide. (As soon as I wrote 'hunter' I thought of the cheater our of spiro)
Jowayne, from the moment he opened the door of the Leaden Cockroach to the moment it shut behind him, wondered if the noise was worse outside or inside, but, as soon as the door had closed, he knew he preferred the squawking of market vendors to the cacophony of voices inside. Jowayne, a stocky dark haired figure dressed, for the moment in studded leather armour and wool, carrying an unstrung longbow across his back and a single simple knife and quiver of arrows at his side, stood just inside the doorway and surveyed the inn. Down on the lower level there were enough mercenaries for the inn to be a barracks, although, he supposed, only half of them were worth the coin they’d spent on arms. There were, however, a couple of figures that stood out. A man, sat alone at a table despite the overcrowding, was left alone by the occupants of the inn, the reason why was clear. This man was an Inquisitor and, although Jowayne had only seen them thrice before, Jowayne knew them by sight alone. Their gazes were as piercing as any arrow and they always carried a greatsword and scimitar, but Jowayne couldn’t figure why one might be in a Demarkon inn. They weren’t known for being social.
The other figure to stand out was a beardless dwarf, or a stunted man, with a big axe. Jowayne watched the thing, attempting to work out if it was a dwarf or a stunted man as it tried to find a seat. Why do dwarves always have big axes in the stories Jowayne wondered maybe their trying to make up for something. Jowayne gave a slight, gruff chuckle as a thin grin tugged at the corner of his mouth. The thing noticed and looked straight at him, it then ordered broth and ale and sat down. I think he is a dwarf. Jowayne concluded before casually surveying the balcony. There was a particular table up there, with five people sat around it, a few of whom watched the mob below, the mob he was now a part of, as the others talked. He guessed one of them would be his employer before the end of the day, so he gave the table’s occupants a nod, before finding a corner in which he could inhabit. Jowayne knew what he had come to the Leaden Cockroach for, and it wasn’t broth or ale.
((OOC: Just a heads up about my formatting. Italic non-bold shows Jowayne's thoughts, when he comes to speak it will be in speach marks and be in bold italics.))
Posted on 2012-02-05 at 14:44:18.
Edited on 2012-02-05 at 14:46:40 by Loki
Arymeith nodded to her master. "I'll go. I'll bet half of them think I am your slave. It is always fun to watch the muscle bound idiots trip over themselves in a rush to get hired. It is even more fun seeing the expression on their face when it is me that calls them forward." Making her way down the stairs, taking great pains to lean on the handrail more than she really needed to, she took up a spot in the common room. "Those who wish to interview can line up now. There will be no pushing, shoving or otherise making specticals of yourselves. Anyone caught trying to but in line will be dismissed, anyone not following my istructions will be dismissed and anyone who has a problem with that can take it up with the dwarf. It is not worth my effort to show you out of the inn." Arymeith waited until the job seekers did as she bid them then sent them upstairs one at a time to have their interview. In the meantime she took a good look at the group hoping at least a few of them had some brains.
Verkoth listens patiently to Arctarsis, his hooded eyes studying the well-built Myanmade, his body language and his vestements. There is something worryingly reassuring about the man's gaze.
"I understand your problems, Arctarsis and am willing to help you if you will help me. If you require coin I am able to pay you," At this Verkoth reaches into the recesses of his robe, drawing out a gold coin before returning it, " and I will make it worth risking your neck in this heist. Although I assure you it will be no more dangerous than your current situation. As for escaping the city I can offer you more than any other smuggler along the bredth of the Empire, and I believe you will find me far more trustworthy than most of them. Follow me, join my expedition and I can offer you a life outside the Empire."
As partons stir from their seats, beginning to form a ragged line before the stairwell. Out of the corner of her eye Arymeith noticed that the other expeditions were also beginning to send men out. Jolted suddenly, by a rough hand, she stumbles as a finley armoured man pushes past her, one of the other recruiting agents.
"Out of my way elf, there's patrons here that can offer coin untainted by your-" The man stopps suddenly, stumbling, as a thin figure seperates himself from the crowd, clad in a ragtag assortment of leather and plate and sporting a massive crossbow along his back and a ridiculous Admiral's Hat on his elven brow. Eyes flicking down, the man hisses as he notices a green glimmer in the newcomer's closed hand.
"My apologies, sir," The word is strained as the elf pushes past the agent, "I am here to see an old friend of mine on business."
Down in the line, Jowayne finds himself slip easily into the press, some of the fresher-faced mercenaries giving way to the rugged highlander. Looking up at the comotion on the stairs he blinks as a man roughshoulders past him, easily a head higher than the archer and bulging with muscle.
"This was my place foreigner, watch where you put your feet," As if to emphasise his point, the man stamps narrowly missing Jowayne's boot as he moves it. Off balance, the man lurches forwards slightly, bringing his eyes level to Jowayne's. In them you see the look of a man who, inundated with drink, is raring for a fight.
As Nak makes to step into the crowd, he feels a movement behind him, half turning and reaching for his axe before a grip like iron clamps down upon his leading hand.
"Not so fast dwarf," The Inquisitor's voice, as cold as his eyes, murmurs softly into Nak's ear. You'll get your place in the expedition, courtesy of a friend of mine, however I'd like a word before you do."
Arymeith watched as the candidates somewhat grudgingly formed not so much a line as an ordered blob. Even that did not last long before a few tried to push their way ahead of others. 'mindless brutes' she thought to herself. Suddenly her thoughts were interupted by one of the other agents shoving her aside to make hi way past her. He had no more gotten the first part of his insult out than Arymeith and the agent noticed an elf stand up from a nerby table. A glowing hand put the agent on the defensive and he quickly scampered away.'thats right run from magic you coward' she thought. Hearing that that the elf was here on business peeked her interest. "Well met. My name is Arymeith, may I enquire as to yours?" She waited a bit for a reply and then added. "Who is it you seek tonight? Mayhaps I can be of assistance."
"Expedition...ah, the irony of this situation kills me. Or at least, kills me in a less fatal way than my alternative situation." Actarsis chuckled, raising an eyebrow at the much shorter human, "Looks like we were looking for each other then. So long as your coin is good, your word trustworthy and your motivations up front, then I'm good to go."
Actarsis looked down at himself, wondering how far to push this man offering a bargain that was already too good. Well...he had to test the waters somehow, and now looked like a golden oppurtunity.
"Of course, while my skills never disappoint, one could hardly tell from my current state of clothes. While Celians rarely notice anyone in rags, they aren't the warmest of wrappings. May I expect some form of down payment by the time we leave this city? I find myself temporarily seperated from my savings, to say the least."
Backfooted by the man before him, smelling the beer on his breath, seeing the dilated pupils, Jowayne blinks. He’d not come across a drunk before, so couldn’t exactly tell why was wrong with him, but knew something was as the man was unsteady and stank, whatsmore the man’s eyes were unfocused despite the man bending down to be eye-level with him. "This was my place foreigner, watch where you put your feet.” The man said. Jowayne was used to being the ‘foreigner’ now, he’d endured it from most people since he’d arrived at the city, but none of them had been this big. Quickly assessing it Jowayne decided it would be easier to back down than to challenge the man, and as so he raised his open palms slightly, just to chest height, spoke "Space is all yours." and he thought 'Guy will probably punch me anyway' and decided he'd dodge left and trip the oaf if he did decide to throw a punch.
(OOC: Not my best post ever. I hope they improve.)
EDIT: Dodging left, not right.
Posted on 2012-02-21 at 00:08:33.
Edited on 2012-02-21 at 08:48:11 by Loki
"Urgh." The man tumbles to the ground as Jowayne sidestepps his left hook, sliding outside the blow and driving his fist into the drunk's gut. Trying to regain his feet the man flinches back as a shadow looms over him.
"Well, well, well." An even taller figure steps over the doubled-up man that Jowayne recognises as one of the hirers. For an archer you've got a fine haymaker."
Meeting the man's eyes, Jowayne blinks, not remembering having inteded to throw the punch that left the man attepting to stagger to the nearest chair.
"My name's Talent and I might just have a job for you...care to join me upstairs?"
"My name is...Lantaris...the elf smiles," something about his manner setting Arymeith at ease. "I'm here to see Verkoth about buisness. Specifically, the buisness of the Dwarf yonder." Lantaris gestures to the beardless warrior in discussion with the Inquisitor. "My friends and I are willing to supply additonal funding for your expedition if you hire him on."
As the elf speaks you find him pressing a slip of parchment into your hands. A glance down as he looks back to check on the two reveals the following:
Well met, priestess of the Gann, my true name is Regarial, I am currently carrying enough Greenjade upon my person to make a small crater from this establishment, and the group four tables from the right of yours plans to do you ill at some point this evening.
May the green of our home remain ever in verdant spring in your memories, soul and heart.
"It is rare enough to see a Dwarf without a beard, almost as arare as seeing one bereft of a deity." The Inquisitor takes a step back, subjecting Nak to a cold gaze. "The Gods protect us, Dwarf, whether you provide lip service or lend them your will you still render them a service in return." Another pause, the gaze intensifies. "The problem is that the Gods will not protect those that do not worship, whether you reside in the League Entire, Coast, Sulthein or the Broken Lands of Pandrakkar they guard you. If you wish to venture north I will leave you with this warning, unhallowed things rest beyond the mountains against which prayers may be your only defence, enough have fallen for them to have gained an appetite, but not enough to satiate their hunger." The Inquisitor stops.
"Now if you would be as kind as to follow me I believe you have just been hired."
"Of course, a beggar dressed in rags is no doubt a theif, but a theif dressed in rags is anonymous." Verkoth smiles at Arctarsis through his lank hair. "Name your price and I will pay it, so long as you accept to pay mine."
"Which would be breaking into Ylarien House?" A melodious voice wafts through the night air as you hear a series of soft footsteps patter lightly accross the cobbles. "My dear Verkoth, no wonder you're offering this poor soul a new life, just like you tried to offer me." The figure that emerges is slight yet radiates an aura of will and power. Wearing a tight bodice cut under the breasts and a matching pair of trousers an elfin woman strolls easily into the junction, prodding the body with her long, elaborate staff.
"Another one? Dear me you do always find the most subtle ways to achieve such obvious outcomes."
Rolling his eyes Verkoth turns, glaring at the elf. "Takra I-"
"Don't worry all is forgiven," The melody is gone from the elf's voice now as spars begin to fly from her fingertips and a glow from her irises making Arctarsis doubt very strongly that the elf really means what she is saying. This problem, however, pales in comparison to the other one you face. House Ylarien is possibly the most fortified manor in Demarkon save the palace. To break in, even with Verkoth and your talents, would be folly, especially with the doubling of the guard after what happened to Lord Ylarien's daughter...
Always planning an escape route, whether people know it or not...
Actarsis took several steps back from the newcomer. He must be getting lazy, for her to be close enough to overhear without him noticing anything or anyone. When sparks began to fly from her fingertips, he backed up further, using the mental notes he'd taken of his surroundings to plan an escape route, or at least prepare to turn and run like hell without tripping over anything he'd forgotten.
He'd only ever worked with a mage once, and the rest he'd known were ones throwing fire at him or searching for him. They rarely caught him regardless, but he didn't like a mage being so close. At least she was an elf, but that didn't make him safe, necessarily.
If she turns out to be a threat, hopefully the knife-flinging Verkoth is faster than she is a caster.
"Ylarien house?" Actarsis cried, quickly covering his shock with an expression of anger, specifically spitting on the ground next to him, taking the oppurtunity as his head is turned slightly to catch a subtle glimpse of the area behind him to prepare to run if needed. The spitting was an odd habit he'd picked up by Celians, though the gesture was slightly harder as a Myanmade from the jaw shape, "That hardly sounds like the 'Expedition' you were offering before, and what's with the mage?"
Actarsis looked between the two, tensing and readying to move. This was getting very strange, very quick, and he didn't like being crept up upon successfully, more or less.
Arymeith looked at the paper without expression. "Well it seems your letter of introduction seems to be in order. If you follow me we can get you set up." With a wink to show she would not betray the secrecy of the letter she turned and led him upstairs.
"Verkoth, I believe this elf has some business with you. I would suggest seeing him immediately." she said in a hushed tone while slipping the letter discretely on teh table in front of him. Having done so she drew back and kept an eye on the 'gentlemen' at the aforementioned table. As she did, she thought to herself, 'this could get rather interesting'.
Jowayne looked down at the bested man, the crumpled form reminding him of a boar he’d slaughtered on the road to Demarkon a week ago.
The best lay near death, breathing shallow and heavy, on its side as Jowayne stood above it a short way away. He loosed another arrow into the best, burying itself deep into the beast’s neck. The beast squealed, his companions jumped. ’Green as grass’ Jowayne thought, bidding them come help him. They’d hang the beast from a tree, slash it’s neck side to side, let the thing bleed out.
Looking at his boots there was dried blood amongst the mud, the splatter from bleeding the boar. “Well, well, well.” Jowayne looked up at the voice, one of the men from the balcony had descended and was standing next to him. “For an archer you’ve got a fine haymaker” Jowayne didn’t know what a ‘haymaker’ was. “My name’s Talent and I might just have a job for you… care to join me upstairs?” This man was big, bigger than the man he’d punched, at least six and a half foot. ’Well you not Tiny’ Jowayne thought before retorting, ”I’m not an archer. But I’ll hear your words.”, and following Talent up the iron stairs to the perfumed balcony.
Posted on 2012-02-28 at 20:06:04.
Edited on 2012-02-28 at 20:07:11 by Loki
"I don't need a deity to call on to survive, only what I have on my back, and soup. Soup is important. Let us go then, i do not want to keep whoever this individual is waiting."
Nak followed the Ordinator up the stairs and lo and behold, there was the syl who was staring at him earlier. He leaned agaisnt the wall to get him to know how it felt to be stared at. After a while he got bored and stopped staring. Focusing on whomever was speaking, he litsened in on the mission that was being made clear. Ready for action as they were speaking, he fingered his axe and got excited for a chance to renew his honour as well as get out of the region.
Posted on 2012-03-01 at 08:44:38.
Edited on 2012-03-01 at 20:35:57 by Takley