The island of Faerun stood starkly beautiful, an uncut gem of an island, emerald against a driving sea. The waves slapped playfully against the venerable hull, clamouring over themselves like puppies, sending up a fine spray of water that coated his dark hair and spotted the expensive material of his clothing. Despite his ambivalence towards the venture, he could not suppress the wonderful sensation that had overcome him completely upon sighting the island, that inexpressible sense of journey begun.
Like a great, lethargic beast, the steamer chugged along ponderously to its destination. Belligerent sailors, at distance no larger then ants, scurried about the docks, unloading valuable cargo, ever so often quarreling with their fellows. He felt Evani’s light touch against his shoulder, and smiled at her, affectionately brushing a wayward strand of hair from her face that had been tousled by the wind.
He was home.
Or else he might have been, had the circumstances been different. He followed the broad back of the mercenary through the winding streets of the port city, almost giddy with the sudden onslaught of colour and light.Intoxicating aromas wafted through the mid-afternoon air. Like gaily hued butterflies, the diverse peoples of the city fluttered to and fro, either selling or buying. He walked on, perhaps not quite as enthralled as his comrade, an inward glow emanating from his melancholy eyes.
A rather decrepit looking sign caught his eye and on a whim he decided to go for a drink. After a brief consultation he ambled forward, held the door considerately open for Evani and then stepped into cool darkness inside. A familiar odor of musk and desperation reached his nostrils. It clung upon the hard men that sat crouched like gargoyles before their cards or beyond their liquor. A few eyes rose to appraise him dully and with a faint disturbance in his heart he sauntered up to the counter, intending to find an ideal tonic for his nerves.
What he saw there nearly stopped his heart.
No, it was not on the counter. The counter was perfectly ordinary, long and scarred and black, as was the seating. Nor was it the bartender. Even he was comparatively normal, a pot-belled and rough looking sailor busying himself in the rather fruitless attempt of cleaning out a filthy glass with an even filthier dish-rag.
No, it was what was above the counter that concerned him and rightfully so. A small piece of paper had been nailed to the wall beside the cupboard, yellowed and ancient and completely conspicuous. The scrawled, savage print jumped out at him:
BY DECREE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF LANTAN, OFFER THE BOUNTY OF 100,000 PIECES OF GOLD FOR THE CAPTURE OR HEAD OF THE LOATHSOME PYRATE SEPTIMUS SANDALWOOD, WANTED FOR MANNERS OF ILL-HUMOUR UPON THE SEAS, THE GRAVEST THAT ARE HERE LISTED:
PYRACY, PILLAGING, FILCHING, PILFERY, ARSON, MANSLAUGHTER, THIEVERY, HIGH TREASON, CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY, KIDNAPPING, SIXTY-NINE COUNTS OF IMPERSONATING AN OFFICER, FALSIFICATION OF LETTERS OF MARQUE, BRIBERY, FORTY-SEVEN COUNTS OF FAILING TO YIELD, TEN COUNTS OF BOOTLEGGING, AND SACKING THE PORT CITY OF CORELAN.
Posted on 2008-05-27 at 22:02:36.
Edited on 2008-05-30 at 14:58:19 by Septimus Sandalwood
The barkeep looks up from the book he's reading, 'Brewing for Dummies', and the old, sea wise man reads Septimus like a book.
"Looking pail there son, have some ale on tha house, and some for yer friends."
He turns to the barrel behind him and pours out the drinks and rips down the poster, turning back to Septimus he leans forward and whispers to him.
"We needn't draw attention to yer, they be looking for yer."
He then draws himself up and says,
"What brings yer to here, ida thought dressed as fine as yer are youd be up them poncy places?"
You don't know wheather he's talking about Sep or Evani
Rex made his way to the bar along with all his family members cradled tenderly in their appropriate places.
The Mercenary disliked bringing his family into such an atmosphere, but the alternative had been to leave them unattended at the inn, which was unacceptable given the current circumstances.
Rex was also aware that bringing his entire family into this establishment would probably make some of the patrons a bit uncomfortable ... while possibly attracting some unsavory types who might want to pick a fight ... or hurl insults in the direction of his cozy little family!
Looking around and spotting a vacant table near the bar with a conveniently placed wall where the Mercenary could watch the proceedings without having to watch his back, Rex the Reckless strode boldy to the bar and spoke bluntly:
"Barkeep ... I ain't looking for any kind of trouble ... just want to sit quietly by myself for a spell ... and drink some of your finest sipping whiskey ... so kindly hand me two bottles of the best whiskey you have from behind the counter ... and I will take a seat over there where nobody will be bothered ... and if you would be so kind ... something good to eat with my whiskey would be appreciated greatly!"
Rex lays a gold coin on the counter ... gladly receives his two bottles of whiskey ... and takes a seat at the vacant table with his back to the wall ... keeping an eye on Septimus and Evani ... making sure they stay out of trouble ... while he pulls the burning liquid from each bottle held individually in each of his hands ... alternating sip after gratifying sip ... as he studies the situation and the various patrons interacting among one another ... not looking for any trouble ... but ready to respond should trouble intrude upon his sipping whiskey!
While she appreciated the establishment in the abstract, and understood that they were necessary for many to make a living in various occupations, this one left her uncomfortable. A tight crawling sensation crept along her spine and lingered ominously at the back of her neck, yet she smiled and swallowed her discomfort. Even if she asked, Septimus would not have left, and it gave her only a measure of relief to know that Reckless was there, in the corner, ready to save them if things got out of hand. But she still had her pistol, strapped to the side of her thigh. But if these people discoverd who Septimus was, it wouldn't amtter. The three of them could not hold off an entire port.
The mention of the society parties caught her attention. "Have there been many grand parties of late then?"
It was entirely possible that their Mr. Corfsand was a noble, or some other member of the arstocracy. Perhaps he was a banker or the head of a guild, someone important to whom such parties were routine. Evani considered broaching the subject of separation to her companions at the earliest availible moment. Should they split up, she wanted to see if she could gather information from the social elite. Certainly someone was hosting a party somewhere in this city.
But to have Septimus, who could certainly take care of himself, wandering about on his own and asking for Corfsand openly, would be courting disaster. No, better if Reckless stayed with him. At last then she would not have to worry overmuch. She risked a glance at the mercenary, showing nothing in the way of recognition. The were not safe here, and if they needed Reckless' assistance, she would rather it come to their would-be atackers as a surpeise. Their secret weapon.
She returned her attention to Septimus and the barkeep, her hand at the ready should they need her pistol.
The man swings himself arround after serving Rex to face Evani, her dress catching his eye again, if he could get it off her for a small price he could sell it again for a large price.
"Just it the temple and goverment wards love, ment to call them districts but no one does, they had some fancy to do up that way and by the lookings of yer thats were you should be, where thay bother to keep a night watch, unlike down here, mister C. keeps a sort of order though."
He finished with a small huf, it's not been his day.
Rex the Reckless continued sipping his whiskey ... first from the bottle in his right hand ... then from the bottle in his left hand ... then back to the right ... and slowly so on and so forth as he meticulously scanned the room and intently listened to the private conversations that caught his attention.
Evani certainly looked stunning in her dress ... almost like bait to lure information from someone ... anyone ... who was interested in taking a bite.
The barkeep was obviously interested ... and then some!
Were the Mercenary a hunting dog his ears would have perked up when he heard the barkeep mention a certain Mr C ... who most probably would be the man the ship's captain had named that had sent Septimus into such a tizzy to find when the party of three had landed in port and began searching to solve the mystery that Shaben had led them into!
"Work him ... Evani ... work him ..." mumbled the Mercenary to himself with a bottle pressed to his thirsty lips as he took another sip of whiskey ... while focusing most of his attention on the response the lady would draw from the barkeep during the next several minutes of her ... conversation ...
Flashing the barkeep her secret smile, the one reserved for those bound for her bed, Evani stepped alon gthe bar, putting space between Septimus and herself. He was not going to like this, not even a little, but she wanted to believe that somewhere inside of him, the pirate lord would understand.
Evani leaned against the bar, a shoulder forward, a hand on the bar, fingers tracing circles slowly, lightly, on th scarred surface.
"I am new," she confessed, keeping her voice low, warm, and conspiratorial. "I would love te opportunity to discuss the virtues and vices of such a fine city with someone who understands her intimately. Someone," she sighed, "as knowledgeable as yourself..."
She let the invitation hang weightless in the air, and kept her eyes upon his as she waited for his response.
She only hoped Septimus understood and played along.
A disappointed expression flickered across his countenance before he happened to catch it and stow it away.
He had rather thought that he was being inconspicuous.
He watched with a sort of distanced and half-guilty pride as the paper was ripped from its privileged position and floated sadly to the ground. He stared at it, almost expecting something marvellously dangerous to occur.
The pirate lord tilted his head in acknowledgement, ignoring the faintly ominous tones that had risen in the voice of the old master.
THEY were looking for him.
Nothing in that statement that was not previously established. Ah. But who were THEY? He pondered over the pronoun for a moment, wrapping his long elegant fingers securely about the goblet. It seemed the perfect paranoid fantasy. Not they but THEY. But which THEY? The lanky officers, scarcely out of boyhood, all knobby knees and half-meant malevolence? The hunters in their cloaks that always smelt vaguely of cashews and day old bread? The riders with their hard-ridden horses that spat out bloody foam? Poor adversaries all. He smiled without meaning. The end was coming, oh yes, of that he was certain. 'But how would it come', he thought idly. 'Which THEY? And would there be dogs?'
He gazed into his drink despondently for a moment, and ignoring the sickly sheen that skipped across the surface of the liquid, he threw his head back and took a gigantic swallow of it.
It was beautifully disgusting.
“Kind of you”, he managed faintly, and felt an enormous relief that he would not be called upon to make conversation. Her voice cut through his nebulous conscience and he grunted once in agreement. It was probably a very foolish idea for him to have brought them here, but he had always had a weakness for the nostalgic.
He turned his head slightly, sensing the eyes of the mercenary boring into the skulls of the patrons. He shifted uncomfortably. The man was dangerous, he had quite understood that, and almost certainly mad. Not only mad, but he had that peculiar talent that some poets possess, the talent to make his madness seem terrifyingly logical. There seemed to be a sort of electricity in him, a sort of hypnotic intensity that the rogue found himself envying. It shot out of his eyes like firecrackers. There was arithmetic in his fingers. Although their friendship was assured, Septimus always felt a bit jumpy in his skin about him.
He was continuing to stare glumly into his drink when a certain name caught his attention. He hung on to that single letter, a bubbling excitement banishing his apathetic gloom. He was about to reply when Evani brazenly stepped in front of him, a seductive smile spreading across her lips, for once a smile not meant for him. He paused, a neutral expression upon his visage that was rapidly deteriorating towards murderous. He bristled and shot a glance towards the mercenary. It was only in meeting his old comrade’s calm eyes that he realiased exactly what she was doing. Because of this, he tolerated it grudgingly. If it would get information out of him...
Now that his temper had been reigned in, he fought to keep in an enormous bout of laughter. There was something dreadfully obvious and humourous about the entire situation. He choked back the furious tittering tried to rise in his throat and as a result acquired a gargantuan headache. He had almost given the game away, although one would not have known it by looking at him. It was nerves, he thought, looking properly furious again. Of course it was. Everything that had happened so far made about as much sense as a fish in a privet bush, and as he gazed into the swirling madness of his inferior quality ale he found himself considering the barkeep. ‘No one is going to fall for that act’, he thought, ‘unless the person in question was a blithering idiot’.
He hoped to God that was what he was.
Posted on 2008-06-08 at 18:24:26.
Edited on 2008-06-08 at 18:28:59 by Septimus Sandalwood
Rex held the bottle of whiskey to his lips with his left hand ... slowly setting the other bottle on the table as he watched Evani work the bartender ... keeping alert in case Septimus failed to give her the necessary room to utilize her obvious charms ...
"Don't be a fool ... Septimus!"
The Mercenary pushed the bottle into his mouth as he spoke the words into the bottle ... without moving his lips ... or missing a gratifying swallow of his whiskey ...
Rex slowly withdrew the bottle from his mouth as he observed Septimus refraining from acting like the jealous boyfriend ... or husband ... or star crossed lover ... as Evani concentrated her talents upon the bartender ...
For a mere fleeting moment Rex thought about inviting Septimus over to his table ... but with another casual look around the interior of the dark dive ... the Mercenary decided that such an action may possibly be a premature move ... no telling who was watching ... or waiting for an excuse to pick a fight ... and his family was resting so peacefully at the moment ... so Rex the Reckless decided to continue sipping his whiskey ... as the drama unfolded between Evani and the bartender ...
The barkeep didn't display the reaction you hoped for from Evani's flirting, his response was simple and his face unchanged.
"You have no idea how many people try that on me, I am happily married and have 3 kids."
A bit of a let down but he did continue speaking, it seems he's eager to keep you in his bar for as long as e can.
"Mr. C, yer, could stand for Corfsand or whatever, he's having a posh do at his house in two nights. It'll be invites only but that would be the easiest way to get to speak to him, his place shouldn't be hard to find."
Through him saying this unknown to everyone but Rex a group of 5 men enter the bar, all in blue cloaks, the leader points at Septimus and the man next to him draws out a crossbow and starts to take careful aim. All this seen by Rex and no one else, and Rex is helpless to stop it. The next moment the bar door swings nosily open and a small group of 3 sailors barges in making a lot of noise, everyone looks around as one of them jogs the man with the crossbow, the bolt flies loose and embeds into the back of a man sitting at a table, he dies, a fight starts, only a few at first but more and more people get dragged in as they draw swords and axes and daggers and picks.
... unknown to everyone but Rex a group of 5 men enter the bar, all in blue cloaks, the leader points at Septimus and the man next to him draws out a crossbow and starts to take careful aim. All this seen by Rex and no one else, and Rex is helpless to stop it. The next moment the bar door swings nosily open and a small group of 3 sailors barges in making a lot of noise, everyone looks around as one of them jogs the man with the crossbow, the bolt flies loose and embeds into the back of a man sitting at a table, he dies, a fight starts, only a few at first but more and more people get dragged in as they draw swords and axes and daggers and picks.
Although he was helpless to stop it, Rex the Reckless knew exactly how to respond to the unknown assailants that were obviously there to end Septimus Sandalwood's life!
Flinging each of his whiskey bottles towards the back of the room ... targeting no one in particular ... but using the bottles as a means to get more patrons lashing out against one another ... to provide enough of a diversion for the Mercenary to escort his family away from the obvious danger ... while exiting the tavern with minimal injury to either himself ... his family ... lady Evani ... and especially the man with a bullseye on his back ... Septimus Sandalwood ... Rex the Rexless sprang into action!
He had chosen the table with the wall at his back for this very reason! Turning the table over and kicking a chair out of the way ... Rex the Reckless withdrew his Whip and began cracking his way towards the doorway!
"Whoa Nellie! You Make Such Sweet Music In My Ears!"
Rex reached for Evani and holding onto her arm with his left hand he cracked the Whip repeatedly against the Blue Coats to keep them at bay as they attempt to unexpectedly make their escape!
Swiftly turning a sideways glance towards Evani with eyes filling with a bloodlust rage ... Rex the Reckless implored:
"If You Value Your Life ... Get Out Of Here ... NOW!"
He stands between the Blue Coats and the doorway ... allowing Evani to make a break for the relative safety of the street outside ... hoping that the Blue Coats were either too stupid ... or too sure of themselves ... to leave anyone outside to prevent Septimus from escaping their deadly trap!
Another crack of the Whip to disperse and/or disarm the Blue Coats accentuates the Mercenary's next words directed to Septimus Sandalwood:
"No Time For Any More Heroics! Time To Clear Out Of Here! Live To Fight Another Day!"
Rex cracks the Whip one more time before exiting the Death Trap ... making sure lady Evani is relatively safe ... relying on Septimus Sandalwood to follow them out the door ... instead of fighting a Lost Cause ... and that Septimus will bow to his strategic instincts and lead them to a safer place to plan their next move in solving the mystery that Shaben dumped in their laps!
He had risen instantly to his feet without a trace of a sailor’s swagger, but it had not been enough. In the space of the second his handsome features twisted into a mask of hatred and he dived like a frightened otter, pressing his lithe body closely to the floor. The crossbow bolt meant for him swerved as if undecided and buried itself into foreign flesh.
He pitched himself forward and ran.
Two Blue Coats sighted him and tore themselves from the thick of the fighting. They flanked the pirate lord, their scimitars smiling wryly in the mid-afternoon light that filtered still through the half-open door. He swerved with frightening alacrity as one of them lunged forward with outstretched blade, leading them on carelessly, even lightheartedly. It was a bone-chilling game that he played with those men. He would slow for a moment, thin chest heaving with exhaustion, and they would leap forward to impale the vulnerable flesh inches from the tips of their blades only to hear the unrequited hiss of struck air. He had feinted at them, and then he would be gone again, batting at them with his own weapon or gracefully evading the scything edge with a slight duck of the head. He seemed to have defied the laws of physics and it drove them mad.
Septimus made a mad dash for the open doorway, away from the oncoming throng of new opponents. He zigzagged in a lunatic pattern, jerking away from an ill-timed cutlass swipe, just missing a crossbow bolt that embedded itself harmlessly into a now-empty table, his eyes and aye, his entire existence focused on the single square of light that now signaled escape.
He threw himself at it.
Hard cobblestones greeted his efforts and knocked the air out of him as he landed, shaken but relatively unharmed. Movement greeted him. He grabbed his weapon and scrambled up, his body shaking from spent adrenaline, complexion bluish white with shock. Turning to face his companions was Death himself with raised blade. His eyes were wild and he snarled savagely at them before a tint of recognition flowered in his gaze and destroyed his need to kill. His shoulders slumped slightly as the fight went out of him, sensing the enormity of what he had almost done. He managed a slight, rather apologetic smile, attempting desperately to restore some semblance of normality. But alas, that was impossible, he was a pirate lord and strange blood ran in his veins.
They would never be safe with him.
Posted on 2008-06-12 at 00:22:11.
Edited on 2008-06-12 at 11:49:34 by Septimus Sandalwood
Evani caught the downturn of mouth, the narrowing of eyes, and gasped, eyes wide, hands to her heart. "How wonderful," she breathed. "A wife and children! That sounds divine, and I do appolgizr for any misunderstanding, I simply hoped that ou would be able to assist me, as I have a desperate need to gain entry to that party. you see-"
The opening door and loud, raucous joviality of the entering sailors stole her attention, and as she trned could see the whole of the danger. The soldiers were advancing.
"Oh bloody hell," she muttered, and lifted her skirts. Witin a moment the pistol, warmed by her flesh, was in her hand again and yet she paused, watching the patrons slowly enter the fray. The brawling impeded the progress of the soldiers and afforded Recless the opportunity to advance, whip cracking, till he reached her and held her fast by the elbow.
They made it to the door, and at Recless' urging, she fled.
It felt like fear and looked like cowardice, and she fled. It sounded like danger and tasted like desperation, and she fled. But oh, it smelled like freedom, and as th twisting allweyways gave way to open roads, she stopped, feeling alone, and took stock in her surroundings.
Septimus and Rex stand outside the bar, Septimus a little winded still from his dive. The fight rages on inside but you hear shots being fired, the only people with guns were themselves and agents of Lantan. Know your enemy, you knew them now, agents of Lantan, they had followed you, or had they been led to you. Amongst the commotion a seed of a thought nestled in your skulls, he, the one who had led you here, Shaben, the one who had left before your arrival, had it been a set up, a false show of compassion in order to make show of a gang on runaways. No, it couldn't be, could it?
Evani ran out the door, she ran not knowing where to go or where she was and when she had finished running she was far away from Septimus and Rex, in a street somewhere, and there was a commotion in a near by shop. Three men ran out there hands full of loot as an elderly shopkeeper yelled after them, yelling for the guard, no one came. And then, seeing Evani they turn on her, if they can subdue her what a prise that would be.
Posted on 2008-06-15 at 11:43:50.
Edited on 2008-06-19 at 07:51:29 by Loki
Mot the dwarf, was sitting in the alley way, gorging himself with his usual meal of half-eaten potatoes covered in a mouldy cream, dried meats (of unknown substance), and sometimes he was lucky enough to grab a fish from the fish market. This was one of his lucky days. He shoved full potatoes in his large mouth. He small, squinted eyes were shadowed by his large protruding eyebrow and his other harsh features. His short, yet stocky, frame was hunched over making sure he let no crumb go to waste, after all, how lucky was he to get a fish for supper!
However, that was the extent of his luck these days. Mot was a freelance worker in Athcatla. Mot would fill in for an odd job here or there and help lift sour smelling crates from cargo ships or carry barrels of some liquid that made him feel funny if he drank too much (the crew and dock workers called it “room”). The crews used Mot and his sturdiness as a mule, and treated him no better. He was barely paid for his work and was often the butt of many jokes, but the gentle and kind Mot didn’t know any better. Mot was satisfied with how he lived. He ate well (at least to his standards), and had what he thought were friends at the docks. But his naive and simple lifestyle was to change one night when he witnessed the true nature of his so called “friends”. It seemed to be like any usual night after work; the sailors were all in the inn or were walking around with ladies (from the adjacent building) and disappearing into various rooms and alley ways. However, one night Mot noticed a lady unlike any of the others that he had seen. This one seemed to glow; the moonlight and lamplight reflected off of her silky, red hair and did likewise with her white clothing. It was this light that seemed to strike awe in the dwarf. He looked up in childish awe as this glowing figure walked down the dim and dirty docks. But he was not the only one to take notice, a few sailors were walking out of the inn and stopped and began to eagerly talk amongst themselves, pointing at the divine figure, snickering. Mot, sitting on the edge of the docks could not take his eyes off the girl and could do nothing else. The sailors began to yell at the auburn figure and chased after her. The girl began to ran, but she could do nothing to escape her attackers. She began to scream and tried to fight the men off, but to no avail. The men began to rip her clothes off and beat her. At that point, Mot knew something was wrong. He got up and ran over to the girl and tried to help her up as he pushed off the sailors, but as he was doing so, one of the sailors punched him straight face. The short dwarf staggered back. The men yelled something at him, and brought the girl back to the ground again and began dragging her toward an alley way. She began to shriek frantically. This time, Mot took more significant action. His muscular hands gripped a leg of the sailors and threw him to the ground and flung the man toward the inn. The other two men noticed the dwarf and advanced toward him. Mot picked up a broom that stood against the wall of a house and smacked it against the knees of one of the attacking sailors. He heard a sharp crack, but was surprised when it was not the broom handle that made the noise. The wounded sailor howled in pain and collapsed on the ground. The last assailant ran off, fearing the attack of the stout dwarf. Mot then ran over to the now unconscious girl, and put her on his broad shoulders and carried her over to a more open place and set her gently down on the cold stone. He just looked at her for a few minutes, admiring her glow. But his gaze was interrupted when he heard the sound of metal on stone, numerous sounds coming from a side street. Mot saw the sailor, the one who ran away, point at him and then the half naked auburn girl and the armoured guards followed his finger. The numerous guards screamed at the dwarf, not unlike how the sailors did, and rushed at him, swords gleaming. Mot sensed danger, and began to run. He ran through alley ways and streets, trying to evade the guards until finally, he hid in a dark corner behind a pile of trash.
That was four days ago. The guards were no longer looking for him, but they knew his face and would arrest him if they had the opportunity. He finished off the last of his raw fish, wiped the grease and gunk off his padded shirt, and was about to get up until he heard that familiar noise.
CLANK CLANK CLANK.
The sound of metal on stone was undeniable; numerous guards began to run down the adjacent alley way, no doubt chasing some other fugitive, but Mot didn’t know that.Mot got up immediately and began to race down the small alleys, and headed toward the dock. However, he arrived at a scene that looked too familiar: a woman with shining red hair and a white dress, and three armed men. He knew what he had to do, and his good nature could only agree, despite what he had to go through just days before. Still holding the broom stick from his last encounter, he rushed towards the closest man and smacked the wooden stick on his knees.
Posted on 2008-06-16 at 19:14:31.
Edited on 2008-06-16 at 19:29:53 by Brodeur30