Shaben turned to greet Evaniallaestra and drew out a spare chair for her as he did. "My name is Shaben Loylar"
He had just finished saying as the gnome introduced herself, he was very tempted to just ignore the creature. He wasn't too fond of short people but he was also forgiving, a quality he was showing much more since he had met Septimus. "Good day Quirath, it is normally polite to not interrupt, my name is Shaben."
He said reproachfully.
Posted on 2008-03-13 at 16:12:49.
Edited on 2008-03-13 at 16:13:43 by Loki
The man currently known as Benjamin Barker leaned back in his chair, the same half-brooding, half-inviting smile stamped clearly across his features. He chuckled lightly as the half-elf bard grinned gratefully in return and made her way over to their table. He glanced up at her with an entrancing little-boy innocence in his dark emerald eyes. They seemed almost sable in the flickering candlelight. A thin scar that ran through his eye brow seemed to be cast in sharp relief. Aye, he was dangerous, that much was evident in his somehow secret smile, and hypnotising, but the fact remained that in spite of the tales spoken of him, even now, he was not insane.
“He must have gone daft”, men murmured in alehouses and alleyways, casting nervous glances as if expecting to see him in shadows or in the guise of a trusted friend. “After what he has seen…he must be.”
And then another of the men would murmur, that no, the things that he had done had been too clever to be daft, and the party would fall silent. Those were dangerous waters they were venturing into and some things were better left unsaid. After all, it hardly mattered then, did it? The infamous pirate captain Septimus Sandalwood, the king of nowhere, had been shot in the heart three years before. They knew that. That he had died a hard death. He was dead. And as he fell, men said, they knew that even the Dark Man wept.
If this was death, Benjamin thought, listening to the sweet voice of the half-elf bard, then he was living it up. He smiled his secret smile. In fact, he should have died years ago.
Or at least something to that effect.
“Evani then”, he replied quietly, laughter dancing in his tragically sane eyes. “And a lovely name it is”. He shrugged. “I am Benjamin Barker”, he murmured in that same half-humourous, half musing tone. His gaze never left her face as he spoke. He communicated, it seemed, with total animal watchfulness.
“Do you play”, he inquired brightly, indicating the lute. “I used to play the lute myself for my supper when I was a lad. Even now, when there is no need of it, I still like to hear the sound of one. “. He smiled gently at her. “Provided, of course, it is played correctly”.
“May I”, he asked quietly, and with her permission took the lute into his hands. With an easy understanding, he played a few scales and then began to play a haunting melody, his fine hands running over the strings with mastery. The song was dark, as was he, and was beautiful. The melody conjured up images of woven spider webs, and black roses, and empty rooms at midnight. He sang very softly to his playing, in a crystalline, husky tone, and sang thus;
Like the lonely winter tree
Outstretched branches with never any leaves
Lonely skeletons, with lonely smiles
Looking away while trying to hide
Their outstretched lonely eyes
He pause, suddenly very self-conscience. “It was a song my father taught me when I was very young. He said my mother used to sing it to my brothers before she died”. He looked away. “It’s a pretty little thing, isn’t it?” He handed the lute back to her, a sorrowful expression in his eyes as if he was looking back on a childhood that had been far from happy.
However, as the gnome walked over and Shaben rebuked her, Benjamin felt a deep, almost insane urge to laugh. He clapped his old friend on the shoulder. “Relax, mate”, he muttered, stretching slightly, “social etiquette is not all that it is cracked up to be. No point in it”. He considered. “At least none that I could see, anyway”.
He turned again to Evani, and the laugher faded from his gaze. “Evani”, he mused. “Tell me…have you ever heard of a chap named Septimus Sandalwood?”
Posted on 2008-03-14 at 23:46:38.
Edited on 2008-03-15 at 00:17:23 by Septimus Sandalwood
Evani's olive shaded eyes passed over the members of the small group she had been invited to join, and for a moment longer than was perhaps appropriate to one in her position, she lingered overlong on the green-eyed man with the scar. There was something intruiging about him, something that stirred her, and it was with a guarded effort that she tore her eyes away.
Yet when he played, she could no longer see he tavern, no longer see the strangers she was with. Instead she saw the forest vale and the thick black smoke choking the night sky. Instead of Barker's voice, she heard the crackle and snap of dry wood ablaze, and hateful pop and hiss of the temple in the heat of the fire. The beams and walls shuddered and collapsed, sending billows of sparks upwards onlty to have them rain down upon the bodies lined at the outside of the flames.
His words evoked the loss she choked on, suffocating under its weight as she knelt by the bodies of those who had raised her since being discovered upon their doorstep. She saw so clearly, as if she was there again, the jagged gaping wounds at their throats, and shiddered with the desire to flee. Memory haunted her still, so many years later, of those she missed daily but had run from, in the end.
Evani smiled as the last strains of the lute faded away, and she collected herself at the approach of the gnome. But when Barker called her name, and asked her of the dreaded, magnificent pirate king, she looked at him again.
Oh, the tales she had heard of the brilliant, daring Septimus Sandalwood, a god among pirates and a terror on the high seas. As much as she loved the open road, to sail on a ship as Sandalwood had once done, may he be rested and blessed in the afterlife, that would be the highest of adventures of her.
"To be sure," she laughed lightly, "He was once the finest pirate ever to sail the seas. But I've heard he sails no more. Not in this life, leastways. Sadly, I never met him. Mayhaps I could share some of my tales with you some time?"
"hello it is nice to meat you Shaben Loylar and also you Benjamin Barker. That was some nice playing on the lute and i liked that song, but sorry no i don't know who Septimus Sandalwood is, but why do you know who he is?"
The Gnome was drinking his ale slowly thinking if he knew the name Septimus Sandalwood be for he thinks. I have heard that name before but for who and where. and she continues drinking her ale.
Knowing how Septimus could be when provoked he decided that it would be prudent to agree that some social etiquette can be discarded when in company of 'friends' or at least in an ale house. "Your right Ben, I should relax for a bit. It's not all the time I don't have anything to do. That was a nice song, I'd forgotten that you knew how to play the lute."
He continued sipping his ale but nearly spat it back out when he heard Septimus mention his own name. 'I never believed someone could be so stupid, it's a wonder we didn't catch him sooner.' He snorted into his drink at Evani's answer, he couldn't help it. 'He's let himself go a bit now though. As for the gnome, he was un-interesting, apart from maybe the fact she was a gunsmith and had so many weapons. "How come you need so many firearms Quirath?"
Posted on 2008-03-15 at 12:54:45.
Edited on 2008-03-15 at 12:55:22 by Loki
He tipped his head slightly to one side, listening to the rapid words of his old friend. It played back in his intuitive mind as disturbingly fake, and fueled by fear. There was the scent of fear on him now, a bitter, citrus scent that fired ancient memories from whence they came like forbidden ghosts rising from the dead. Fear, ah, that was an emotion that he was well acquainted with! The most primal emotion, in a sense, and he sensed it on his friend now, secreted from every pore.
Unconsciously, Ben grimaced. That scent was maddening, not to be borne. A sorrowful, wistful smile curled about his lips like charring paper. It could not have been easy, having him for a friend, he knew. Being on good terms with him was somewhat like being on good terms with a very large, very irritable leopard. After all, he regarded allegiances as a way to pass the time and the laws of society as friendly, albeit obnoxious suggestions. The leopard knew no mercy, it had no conscience. It would either slaughter you or be your spirit guide. But now the claws were sheathed.
He sat back and waited.
“You lost someone, Evani”, he breathed into the shadows. Twin emeralds glanced up at the bard, glowing with a terrible, vital energy, confident in their power.
“Someone you loved.“
Like a winding serpent he hypnotised and entranced, weaving a spell of pure charisma. Once you listened to that sonorous, empty voice and gazed into the tragic dark eyes, you were already claimed as his prey. And like the man bitten by a cobra, already condemned to die, you began to see his beauty.
He was so cold, so pure.
He saw the stories in her eyes.
He smelt the twisting smoke.
“You have seen a red dawn”?
It was as if he was a sparrow that had crossed the entire ocean and happened upon a bird that knew his nest.
In spite of the somber visions, his heart soared to hear of the dear old stories again. He had played over his own legends in his mind, incessantly, and the tales were to him as stories in a dog-eared story-book, carried lovingly under a child’s arm. He flipped through the well-turned pages, a trek of memory uncharted.
He retraced his tracks back to the dark and muggy jungles of distant lands where spiders scuttled and natives burned effigies to their hungry gods. He followed the ageless path to burning deserts and sparkling springs, to virgin woods and pristine wilderness. He fought again those ancient battles. He traced wordlessly these treasures of splendour, underlined always with the faint, lingering scent of the sea.
"Have you not heard the stories", he murmured to the gnome dreamily.
He was, unfortunately, in for a rude awakening.
He barely bothered to turn his head. He met the shocked gaze of his friend, held eye contact for a terrifying moment and then, perhaps insanely, grinned. He was toying with him, Shaben would ultimately discover. But buried beneath the humour in his eyes was a kind of quiet desperation. He was not built to live a lie. So lost was he, so hungry for the glory days, he was willing to risk his life to hear just one more story, just one more tale. He was desperately miserable. And yet he understood what could possibly come of his recklessness. Death. A humiliating public death on the gallows. The final blasphemy.
And yet this was his secret. He always gave just enough information to the other party to cause a risk to himself, to make the game more interesting. But he never gave himself away completely, nay, that was for the other party to discover on their own. That was the point of the game. More information would filter in, and he would tantalise them, but even if they discovered his true identity, as Shaben had, he would always be just out of their grasp, a clever red fox dancing just beyond the reach of the hounds’ snapping jaws. He bet for the highest stakes, and as yet, he had never lost.
Not yet, at any rate.
Posted on 2008-03-16 at 03:11:40.
Edited on 2008-03-16 at 03:17:54 by Septimus Sandalwood
Shaben had seemed not to recover from his ealior, involuntary response and was now also looking deadly serious as he looked Septumus in the eyes and said some very risky words. "Don't speak a him, they have mounted a full scale search. In a week they'll be here looking for him and they will arrest anyone with even the slightest connection to him and I can not stop them."
Enough to strike fear into the heart of any man if he knew the meaning. Shaben hoped that Septimus would. "There is also the beginnings of an uprising from within the government, all members of the old order are to be killed. That includes diplomats. I wanted to tell you this in private but the opportunity didn't come round."
Shaben is looking panicked right now. "The news will be out in a few days, we can be tracked if we take registered transport and I just hope that we can get off this island before it is out."
He then downs the rest of his mug and looks at the stunned face of his old friend. This is truly the most honest he has been in all his life.
Blank, wordless fear. It filtered up through his brain like beautifully numbing ice. Dazed, he wondered how he could have scorned it before. It had a serene affect on him, driving his thoughts away in clean, efficient strokes. He gazed at him calmly, his eyes impossibly dark holes. His pale skin, already an unnatural hue had blanched to the colour of snow. The shadows that drifted across his alabaster skin stood pronounced, like sinister birthmarks.
His face was totally expressionless.
And then suddenly, like a coiled serpent he leaped forward in a terrifying burst of energy, forgetting where he was. His delicate hands latched onto the front of Shaben`s robes. “ How do they know that he is here”, he snarled, his words supremely quiet.” He is supposed to have died years ago, Shaben, unless you have told them otherwise”.
His grip tightened, his eyes shone murder.
“What have you been telling them, my friend?“
The last two words of the final sentence were bitterly sarcastic, laced with fear in the blinding anger, like a yellow thread pulsing through a sea of red.
He was going to die.
Reeling under Shaben`s words, he forced himself to release the hold he had on him. A few of the regulars who were not in a drunken stupor were glancing curiously over to him. He tore his eyes from them and then returned his magnificently malevolent gaze to the man that he would have once risked his life for. “I have no intention of being caught”, he hissed, his voice lowered so that only Shaben could hear. “If I must die, it will be in valiant battle, not on the gallows, hung like a stray dog, while the entire world pays to applaud."
Sadness filtered in through the fury.
“I have been preparing for death since my birth, and never would I thought that it could be so near.“ He slumped back in his seat. “I ask you only one favour, my friend”, he murmured. ”Let me die the death I was born to die, if it so comes to that. Let me die with dignity”.
And for a moment it seemed that tears glimmered in those unfathomable eyes, but when he turned to address the rest of the party, his gaze was hard and unyielding as flint.
“A darkness has come upon the city of Lantan”, he whispered. “I doubt if any of you are safe here. We”, he nodded to Shaben”, shall be fleeing the island before the cloud descends, but it shall be a close call at any rate. You are welcome to come with us, if you value your lives”. He closed his eyes and sighed. “We are both men who hold many secrets, secrets you are no doubt curious about, but this is not the time to answer them. Come or stay, live or die, it is your decision”.
He smiled wanly and in the flickering light he looked heartbreakingly young.
“Your only choice…is to trust me”.
He stood then, and drew the grey cloak over his head. Balling it up under one arm, he draped his old, black cloak over his shoulders and tied it so his diplomat’s uniform was invisible beneath it. He drew the deep, full hood, and from within its depths, two eyes glittered like chips of jade. “ We must stay in the shadows”, he muttered to the rest of the party, sitting down again.
“We must stay safe”.
“And if you trust me, old friend”, he whispered to Shaben. “You will follow me to the ends of the earth”.
Perhaps then, the tears in his eyes were some kind of optical illusion, a trick of the light.Or perhaps they had a more natural, astonishing cause.
The Dark Man was crying.
Posted on 2008-03-16 at 17:48:41.
Edited on 2008-03-16 at 18:25:45 by Septimus Sandalwood
Shaben was the murderous glint in Septimus' eyes and was honestly terrified. "I didn't tell them anything, enough talk of this now. I will tell you all I know when we leave here."
And with that he got up and left as a dead man, a feeling one of you should know well, emotionless.
Posted on 2008-03-16 at 19:36:15.
Edited on 2008-03-17 at 13:31:40 by Loki
Chrysta listened carefully to the conversation unfold in front of her. All of a sudden it had become quite crowded here at her end of the room. She listened intently and thought that she might be of some service to her newly met friends. Not wanting to interrupt or poke her business where it wasn't welcomed .. she tried to speak carefully.
If i might say something friends. I noticed that you may be entering into a bit of an adventure of sorts. If you think that a cleric might be of some assistance, I might offer my services in this endeavor. Anything to take my mind off of .. um .. other things would be appreciated
Posted on 2008-03-19 at 18:10:07.
Edited on 2008-03-28 at 12:41:53 by Devalero
The wind tugged fretfully at his tattered black cloak, and the grey light of early evening cast a haunting spell. Waves crashed upon the rocks, and sent up a vicious sea-spray that lashed about his calves, dotting the dark leather of his riding boots like ethereal tears. He barely felt it.
He bowed his head before the majesty of the sea.
Blood poured from the bullet wounds in his chest, pooled, reddened the dunes until the soft white sand became a sinister crimson. Hot blood, forced from his body by a dying heart matted his dark hair, trickled down his forehead, and ran into his beautifully mad eyes. So this was it then. He had never thought of his own death. Life and death were equally far from him. The veils and threads of darkness enveloped him, caressed him, bringing him to realisation. Thereafter, in the end, the sturdy flesh of Men proves frail, fated for failure. His heart mourned only that forevermore would he be rejected by his kin, so that when the shadows fall, and all that is left is dreaming, he would stand on the shore, watching the gulls laugh in the bright silvery splendour against a honey-coloured sky. The tapered prows would pass him as all that he knew would depart into thread and shadow, turning the world into silver glass as they tracked that swan-path of old even unto the shadows path.
Pain. The man stumbled out with outstretched hands and another man caught him, a young man with soft-deer eyes and a noble stance. The wounded man glanced up with something like shock at the man who would someday introduce himself as Shaben Loylar, the man who would one day be his closest friend. No words were spoken between them, as the young intruder called others to him.
The wounded man was lifted gently on their shoulders and carried to safety. He was placed on a soft dune out of the reach of the hungry sea. A thin vial of glass was pressed to his lips. The wounded man feebly batted at it with a snarl. One of the others grumbled something in a foreign, guttural language, and with the man fighting feebly, his jaws were held open and the lifegiving medicine poured down his throat. He stopped struggling, shivered, and remained still for some time with fixed and ancient eyes. His chest rose and fell slowly, branded by the curious mixture of darkness and light. His eyes were glassy, his breathing uneven, his countenance, celestial, knowing the beauty of youth, was streaked with tears of pain. He glared towards Shaben, the youth that had saved him and grabbed onto his wrist with a biting strength. Shaben`s gaze fell upon his hand, upon the blatant tattoo of a seven, his identification mark. “Go to hell, you pretentious idiot“, Septimus whispered weakly as the darkness ebbed and flowed, and his voice was of the lull of the tides, flashing and fire-hard.
He closed his eyes.
That had been three years ago.
He watched him stalk off silently and fiercely knuckled away the tears in his eyes. A horrible hollowness dwelled in the pit of his stomach. “I apologise for my friend”, he announced dryly. “He has been quite upset lately, mostly due to me”. He swallowed hard. “It is a dangerous endeavour indeed that you are so freely volunteering for, and you are most welcome to join us, both of you. “ He attempted a faint smile. “However, I doubt that you, or anyone of us, will make it out of this endeavour alive”.
“I believe I know, milady”, he murmured to Evani wistfully, a roguish look flickered into his dark, beguiling eyes.
The moonlight enveloped him, spangled him in silver filigree, a lone wanderer far from home, years from the completion of his story. For many miles would still need to be traveled, battles fought, female hearts conquered, destinies realised. Forever he would bear the scars of his exile, a bloodied testament of his will of live, of his difference. Someday he would find refuge in embraces, sweet laughter would ring in his ears, smiles and words of joy that the forgotten had returned home. Enshrouded by shadow he thought dimly of what the ocean must sound like for one who had reached the end of his journey, the last page of his legend. How it must speak of family.
How it must be like coming home.
Posted on 2008-03-19 at 21:36:57.
Edited on 2008-03-19 at 22:46:15 by Septimus Sandalwood
That night, after his bath and some time to calm down Shaben redressed into his spare set of cloths and walked out to the ale house again, hands held behind his back.
It was no surprise that Septimus was still there, in fact he was counting on it. He walked over to him and faced towards the fire. "I'm sorry Septimus, it's just so stressful what I have to do. This country has so many secrets, I didn't want to blurt it out like that. I wanted to make sure that we were safe before telling you."
He then turned to Septimus. "You want to be your self again don't you."
It wasn't a question, he knew the answer and knew how to help. "Promise me this, if you could have a second shot at your life as a pirate, you'll be slightly less murderous."
Posted on 2008-03-20 at 17:16:12.
Edited on 2008-03-20 at 18:36:20 by Loki
Imperceptibly slight, barely noticeable, her eyes narrowed only minutely as she watched the words spill between her new companionable associates, as if they spoke in layered riddles of thing only they completely understood. And she took in theor words, filling various cubbies on her mind with what they said, in the desperate hope that one day it might help her ultimate goal of locating those reponsible her her current life.
She was, embarrased to admit that this Ben character intruiged her to no end, and equally amazed that she could find a government administrator so interesting, as she did with Shaben. Secrets indeed, she wondered, and resolved to find time at a safer junture to discuss.
The cleric spoke, offering her services, and Evani agreed that, should they indeed flee some strange and hidden danger, that a cleric would be the sort of useful that Evani herself wouldn't be.
"Yes, of course. Quite useful. But I think we would benefit from a vivid and well fortified discussion of when, exactly, we would make our way from this place. I'm thinking it's a talk that calls much ale. Hearty, generouas ale. Or fleeing, depending upon the time."
Scrabbling nails dug into the soft peat. Maws gaped, dripping saliva. Chilled black nostrils sniffed as the powerfully built curs rushed forward, half-choked by thick, leather leashes. Rain poured down in heady torrents , spotting evenly their ragged, grey-brown pelts. A heavy, hoarse breathing issued from their throats as they dipped their scarred muzzles to the tracks embedded in the crumbling dirt. One of the animals skidded in its tracks, whining eagerly. It paced before its masters, and barked sharply, excitedly. The scent was not like the other scents of the old ones it hunted, faint and lemony. This scent trail was new, and vital, matching the emerald-green bittersweet scent on the patch of dark cloth its masters gave to it.
It pulled on its leash and howled, baring long sharp fangs.
The hunt had just begun.
“You…are weak”, the rogue murmured. He gazed into the fire, watching the burning conflagration twist and writhe like a living thing. His eyed reflected cool flame. “I know that I frighten you”, he started softly. “Do not bother making up an elaborate lie about how I do not. I terrified you, and yet you came back to apologise to me, as if you had done something wrong”. He closed his eyes. “You are the only friend I have ever had, Shaben, and I love you like a brother, but as long as you stand by me, you will never be safe. “
“This is not who I am”, he whispered bitterly. “And I refuse to run anymore”.
He smiled faintly. “Anything, everything, even to my very life to be a legend again”, he muttered. “To be at the helm again, to hear the old stories. But there is no turning back Shaben, not now. The legends have all been slaughtered. I am next.”
He turned to the others, his voice low. “I myself, have every intention of getting completely drunk, to forget as much as anything”. He called over the barkeep and took from his deerskin pouch an array of glistening coins. “Your best ale for every man jack here, and the ladies, and damn the cost”. When the alcohol arrived in their pewter mugs, he lost no time in distributing them to the entire party. Last, he handed the intriguing half-elf bard her drink, raised his own, and toasted her. His jade eyes shimmered with something that was indefinable, almost mirth and nearly danger. “My friends”, he mused, taking a deep draught from his own mug.
“To the wind that blows, the ship that goes, and the lass that loves a sailor”.
Posted on 2008-03-22 at 18:51:05.
Edited on 2008-03-22 at 18:58:19 by Septimus Sandalwood