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Lost Souls - Act I (IC)

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The Nameless Wayfarer
Envoy
 
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Founded: Oct 26, 2015
Ex-Nation

Lost Souls - Act I (IC)

Postby The Nameless Wayfarer » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:24 pm

Image


Where am I?


Memnoch was in an utterly alien forest; woods and fog, as far as the eye could see.

An endless tide of mist, ashen clouds in the form of heavy wisps, and decaying trees filled his youthful gaze. Taking a cautious step forward, he tilted his head from left to right in a sideways glance, and, feeling compelled to go forth into the unknown, he marched onward. The adolescent Memnoch’s hide sandals, never intended for such a hike, became coated in a brownish-grey concoction of festering ash, mud and dirt. The thick, heavy earth stuck to him like hot glue, tugging at his ankles as if it were suddenly animated. Within a few more steps, both his feet and his shins were covered entirely in the same disgusting shade.

As the terrain became harsher and the ground even more porous and jagged, the stench that filled the woods followed suit soon after. The scent became gut wrenching as it filled Memnoch's nostrils with each and every breath. Death. The putrid aroma of rotten corpses hung in the air, so much that it was nearly palpable. It lingered; even more so, it festered. Forced to inhale the sickly air, Memnoch felt himself being drawn closer to the very source of the nausea, despite all rationality. The further he went, the stronger it became.

The misty ground cover dissipated as the wind let loose a low, howling cacophony. The tree line thinned along with it.

Memnoch found what he was looking for, although, he was never truly aware that he was searching for something in the first place.

There, a lone child sat, a solemn island in a sea of ragged bodies. He wept beside a decapitated corpse that Memnoch made out to be the remains of a man, encased in chainmail and other battledress, but caked by detritus more than anything else. The little boy's tears stained the scarcely few places on the man’s tunic that scarlet blood had not. His sobs fell like such a fruitful harvest that his cries evolved into rain, and, after it, his high-pitched roars of anguish became the sounds of a thunderclap.

There, the child sat, looming over the remains of a single and very red warrior in a not-so silent vigil.

The boy's eyes glowed with an icy blue color, similar to that of a northern ocean, and his tousled hair was a mass of wavy dirty blonde locks, like a field of unwashed wheat. In a betrayed defiance of his young adolescence, the child's face was worn with both mental and physical scars and scuff-marks.

Memnoch was overcome with a dire need to reach him.

He moved closer, each step becoming more laborious than the last; as the mud became thicker and thicker, as did the smell of humanly carrion.

He stepped once. Then twice. Each time, he was dragged deeper into the soft and nearly suffocating earth, yet, he did not relent. He kept going, even when it began to absorb his being entirely. The very earth inhaled Memnoch and he could do nothing to stop it, nothing to resist its hungering maw. He struggled and he fought against it, forlorn, not for his own sake, but, peculiarly, for the child's. He reached for the boy in a heartbreaking show of utter desperation.

Suddenly, disappearing through the filthy soil, Memnoch was plunged into an endless free-fall into what seemed like nothingness. He tried to scream, but he had no mouth from which to utter the cry.

Memnoch shot up to attention, shouting, his wide-eyes fixed on the ceiling above him. Sweat gleamed on his forehead and stained his feathery cot. A dream?

No, a nightmare.


In the morning, at first light, Memnoch approached the old, decrepit steps of the witch's hut. She told the local islanders that her name was Dalyia.

Dalyia, praised for her magical prowess, was said to be a fate-seer. Fate-seers, according to popular rumor, could peer into the dreams and thoughts of others, and then proceed to decipher and interpret their meanings to a level of disquieting accuracy. Others said that a handful of skilled fate-seers could go as far as to look into the strands of time and predict future events.

Dalyia also happened to be one of the only inhabitants of the Southern Isle not born of an Anderian bloodline. The people of Anderias did not permit outlanders to come ashore, save for trading purposes, let alone settle on their sacred homeland. She told the village's ruling council of elders that she came from a nearby land on the continent, one that not only stifled her mystic talents, but also forbade them. Those born of her, "Gift,” were imprisoned, executed, or worse; publicly tortured for entertainment.

Memnoch set his right foot on the first step, making a hearty groan echo throughout the otherwise still air of the rainy woods. Choking down a nervous gulp down his tight throat, he trembled slightly as he reached out to touch the door. Memnoch’s home, like all South Anderian homes, hadn’t a single door. Doors shut out others; they belonged to those who had something to hide.

Memnoch, mustering up some courage, let his knuckles rap on the door with an increasingly nosier knock. His response was silence and nothing more. He lowered his fist and brought it up for one final attempt, yet, before he could even touch it, the door opened with an eerie creak. No one had opened it from the other side.

Despite his nerves, Memnoch entered the witch’s abode. The one-room dwelling, made of thin wood and thatch, had no light, save for the meager illumination that poured out from the open doorway.

The door slammed shut without warning.

“Good morning, young one.”

Memnoch nearly leapt out of his skin. “I am here to see the fate-seer, the one they call Lady Dalyia. Show yourself!”

Haggard laughter filled the room; laughter that sounded like it consisted of hundreds of imps sniggering together in some sort of hellish choir. The shadowy woman said, at last, “One cannot command those that do not swear fealty to him, child.”

The words almost slithered around Memnoch. They echoed in front of him, and then, from behind once more. The soft yet commanding murmur of words surrounded him and everything in the room.

The voice spoke once more, “Tell me, little Anderian.”

“What?” Memnoch muttered under a gasp of held breath.

The formerly still candelabras burst to fiery life in unison. The candles burst into warming flames, sending a sudden flash of bright light throughout the entirety of the once dark hut. Memnoch shielded his eyes from the blinding radiance with a slight wave of his hand.

The wrinkled and aged face of the seer appeared, lit up by the candlelight. She smiled coyly.

“Tell me about your dream, of course.”

“The dream,” he trailed off into a stunned silence.

“Dreams, child,” she said. “Those are what bring otherwise busy men to an old crone’s home, is it not?

He nodded with a bow of his head.

“Go on, then; relax, and speak. I have all the time in the world,” she flashed a smirk, one of peculiar familiarity.

Memnoch recounted every detail: the gnarled, lifeless trees, the haunting clouds of fog and mist, and the air flecked with ash and the stench of death. However, he focused on that sole island in the ocean of dead the most, the lonely child in the sea of bodies.
Dalyia had begun to prepare tea amidst the boy’s tale. Memnoch examined the liquid from afar, inspecting it. The amber-colored tea bubbled and smelled of citrus fruit.

“Then I fell into the earth,” he said, “Into… nothingness.”

“Memnoch, that was no mere dream,” she said, as she placed two tin mugs on the small end table that sat between them.

“Well, surely it wasn’t real!”

She shook her head, “Oh, it was real, my dear child.” She poured the steaming liquid into both of their cups, “By its own definition of reality, that is.”

Memnoch leaned in close, eagerly clinging to each and every word she let loose from her wizened lips.

“The dream you witnessed was something truly special; something extraordinary. A construct that borders the very fragile line between reality and the spiritual plane.” She looked up from their two hot beverages, and stated with a sudden burst of youthful energy, “A premonition.”

“A vision?”

“Indeed.”

“A vision? A vision of what?” He questioned Dalyia, his voice coated in an armor of skepticism.

“Not even someone of my talents can be so certain. Nonetheless, its importance cannot be denied, Memnoch.”

“Importance? Visions? It was just a fevered dream, nothing more; I know it,” he said.

She replied, “Then why did you come?”

He went silent.

Dalyia broke the silence and spoke quietly, yet with a tone of authority, putting an end to Memnoch’s idle thought, “The boy.”

“The boy?”

“I suspect that he is the importance. He is the key. You said you wanted to reach out to him, but, I ask: why?”

He paused, and without warning, said, “I wanted to protect him.”

“Of everything in that wretched dream of yours; the thick fog, the twisted woods, the ash-filled sky, and the corpses, what stood out the most to you?”

Memnoch remarked, his eyes wide, “…The boy.”

“You have found your one, Memnoch. You have found the one who needs you at his right hand the most; the one you must protect until the island of your birth beckons for you to return to her shores. You, Memnoch, have found your chosen."

Her voice reached a chilling crescendo, "And my intuition tells me that this chosen child is destined for greatness; whether that is great fortune or great calamity, I do not know. But you, child of Anderias, will be his shepherd, for as long as causality allows."



Breathing apparatuses, peculiar yet functional relics produced during the time of the Themieans' reign, concealed a pair of stoic and emotionless faces; these sinister characteristics assembled the very calling card of Bite’tour’s city watch. Two of their drably-clothed number stood with a foreboding demeanor on one of the town's many street corners like dark silhouettes set against the vivid horizon of dusk’s weary sun. The shorter of the two watchmen propped the totality of his weight against the defaced side of a cobblestone building with his hand, concealed in a pallid glove, resting uneasily on the hilt of his sheathed sword. Out of his mask's fog-filled eye coverings pierced a duo of glowing orbs, both of them an icy blue, like the seas that lay to the farthest reaches of the north. A stray fringe of his unkempt hair dangled precariously in front of his goggles, the chestnut-colored strand heaving to and fro with every breath he took. They somehow danced in both an idle yet menacing fashion, jumping from passerby to passerby, as the young man silently examined each and every one of them within a moment’s notice. And so was his daily routine.

He spoke, continuing to scan the crowds, nonetheless, “Her highness’ purse must be hurtin’.”

“What?”

“The Duchess, you fool.”

“What of her?” Asked his more veteran partner, ignoring his rather insulting quip.

He raised an eyebrow, “Haven’t you heard?”

“What the hell are you on about, ‘eh?”

“Gascoigne heard tell that the Duchess is hiring,” he spat out the word like an oath, “Crows.”

“Black-cloaks?” The latter questioned.

He nodded his head, “Old ‘Gas said that little lard in the treasurer’s wouldn’t shut up about it.”

“That’s just a royal rumor, boy. Best stay away from those; troubles always walk hand in hand with ‘em.”

“I’m telling you, it’s true! And if the Duchess wants some sell-swords at her heel she must be gearing up for something big.”

The older watchman let out a fatigued grunt, “So, you’re best friends with the Red Lady these days, Motte? Is that it? You know what she's planning? Well, tell her to send a damned raise my way, wouldn’t you?”

“Hey, piss off," he growled.

“Besides – if her highness was hiring, which she isn’t – what are some haggard mercenaries with a fancy for dark colors going to do that our steel can’t, ‘hm?”



"Mm," murmured a woman. She was yet another voice in an endless void, a mouth that whispered sweet nothings to a man who hardly cared to listen. She purred, letting lose another lustful hymn through her pursed ruby lips, "I'll admit, my lord, I was doubtful of your… prowess, at first."

Nary a response came from her partner.

Gently, she brought herself from out underneath the furs of the bedding with a soothing yawn. The hanging drapes that shielded the room from the voyeurs of the outside world - embroidered in a white-gold pattern, giving the lovers' den falsified delusions of grandeur - fluttered as the cool breeze pushed through the open window like a phantom of the morning. The bracing winds nipped at the woman's bare porcelain flesh and opened their disheveled berth to the rousing elements of the scenic village that surrounded them. On her shins, the Prince's lady of the evening slithered across the feathered mattress as if she were a serpent, accentuating her already statuesque features. She swayed her hips in a hypnotizing rhythm as she set her warm hands on the well-defined shoulders of her partner, beginning to caress them sensually.

The maiden smiled tenderly, "It was a pleasant surprise."

At last, the Prince offered a somber response, "I'm glad I did not disappoint you, milady."

He tilted his head in her direction; it was out of pure courtesy and nothing more, nor, nothing less. The Prince's countenance, as always, was hidden and his true emotions indecipherable under that wretched iron masquerade of his - piercing blue eyes peered out of it, yet, they were all that could be seen.

"What troubles you?" She questioned. She let her tired eyes drift to the ground as one of her petite fingers tugged idly at a curl of her fiery red hair.

When she raised her scrutiny the Prince had already dressed in his breeches, boots and donned a leather belt before he proceeded to swiftly button his undershirt. Even in the habits of every day life he had the efficiency of a military-man, yet, the grace of a noble, as well. He turned to face the rather large wooden bureau's mirror, its dusty glass marred by scratches and several small brands of womanly lips, stained red by the cherry wine the couple had drunkenly shared the night prior.

"Will I ever see you again, at least?"

The Prince was as prim and proper as he was when he entered the barmaid's bar and inn just a day ago. She thought he appeared to be of royal breeding but, for some reason, he smelled peculiarly of the wilderness. His black trench coat, made of finely imprinted and hardened leather, was fastened tight around the remainder of his garb at the waistline.

He said, "No." The Prince's head, crowned with dirty blonde hair, was covered by his tricorne cap as he muttered, "I am nothing to you, milady. Believe me when I say this: forget me. I am a mere ghost of humanity. A beast. And you are the maiden fair; find yourself a real prince.”

The young man's steel-toed boots thudded against the room's decrepit floorboards. Before taking his leave, he paused, "It was a pleasure. Thank you."

He stepped away from her somber presence and down the stairs out into the hustle and bustle of the inn's taproom. The pitter-patter of heavy raindrops crashed onto the thin roof and echoed throughout the entirety of the building’s great hall, gradually being drowned out over the din of the early morning's gossip. The walls, painted a sickly shade of eggshell white, were peeling in several places; it had chipped away, with copious amounts of shavings scattered across the old wooden floor planks. A once brightly colored tapestry, now turned into dull motley by the passage of time, hung from the withering surface carelessly. The entirety of The Drunken Huntsman possessed an overwhelming odor - a bittersweet concoction of mead, blood, sweat and the saltiness of the tears of the damned and the sweat of hardworking men and women - that filled the Black Prince's nostrils with each and every inhalation. The rather seedy establishment was filled with a variety of people; he saw a few graceful Anderians, a group of pale Ghantish highlanders and Nedieans, a shining Hemithean, and even a stout Dyrman, a breed of man rarely seen. The Dyrman sat at an oaken table much too small for his colossal build with a foaming mug in his grasp, talking to a hooded woman of a shady disposition that was petite compared to the titan that was a mere foot across from her on the other side of the table.

"Yes... mmm... I see it, I do! I see a gleaming future ahead of you, my friend... a future paved with gold!"

The burly foreigner grunted something in his unintelligible tongue and clapped his hands jubilantly, rocking the table all the while.

The Prince trudged past the scheming seer and further meandered his way through the masses of bar-goers. He caught the wandering eyes of many, man and woman alike, yet, he paid them no heed; he just kept moving forward.

Two men stood in front of his footpath, hardly eager to move for one reason or another, and so the Prince, uttering a small, “Excuse me,” pushed past them.

One of them, obviously claimed by the drink, grasped at his right wrist and pulled him back by the gauntlet. He growled, “’Ey, ironsides, watch where you’re fuckin’ walking!” His breath smelled like piss and his ritually sharpened teeth were almost just as yellow.

The Black Prince said deadpan, “I watched. But did you listen?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean,” but the drunkard was cut off mid-sentence. The Prince’s gauntlet, carved with a metal fetish in the shape of a closed eye, suddenly opened and peered at the bar-goer intently. As he jumped back, practically staggering and falling over, he shouted, “What in the name of the Three is that?”

The bar went quiet and its patrons looked over to the scene unfolding, as nosy and as suspicious as one could expect from such rough tavern folk.

The Prince let out a light laugh and pat the drunken buffoon’s much more sober friend – a very lanky Shiedan by the looks of him – on the shoulder, “I suggest keeping a tighter leash on your dear friend, my good fellow; seems to me that he cannot handle his ale.”

The lord-commander of the Black Company swung around, his onyx cloak wrapping around his back, and sauntered away towards the door, “And, please, tell him to quit making such a ruckus. He’s gone and ruined these poor ladies and gentleman’s good time!”

And out he went, back into the world of blood and coin from whence he came.



The Lord of Crows traversed the narrow walkways of Rousse; one of Bite’tour’s many outlying shantytowns, it embodied the infamy of its mother city, albeit, on a much smaller and simpler scale. The streets were filled with a light fog and were covered with piles of sewage and a seemingly endless amount of rain puddles. The Prince’s scuffed leather boots waded through the filthy mess with an incessant slush, yet, if such an ordeal bothered him, it did not show. As he wandered forth with his destination in mind – a small hostel where his comrades laid their weary heads for the past night – he saw Rousse amidst something he could only label as an identity crisis. Fiery red poppies grew from the cracks in the cobblestone of buildings and roads alike; prostitutes worked the street corners, yet, children played on those very same corners during the day. It was duality at its finest. Innocence, nature and beauty contrasting against what may very well be beauty in its own right, independence from traditional stigma and the enforced status quos of morality.

Regardless, that hardly changed the putrid stench that hung in the air; even an entire meadow of those brilliantly colored and aromatic poppies couldn’t make Rousse not smell like shit and cigar smoke.

Passing by a few merchants, the Prince listened to them bark prices at him for various bits, baubles and even some oddly phallic looking vegetables.

This city never disappoints, he thought to himself.

At last, the Black Prince approached the front courtyard of the hostel, eyeing his fellow soldier and favorite nihilist, Gollome Farelle. A disgruntled native of Bite’tour himself, Gollome sulked, stroking his – what he thought to be magnificent – beard idly whilst sitting on those uneven stone steps.

“Gollome! Good morn, my friend,” bellowed the Prince with a tip of his cap. “We have meeting with the Duchess’ representative within the hour; you and the others shall meet me in the rear courtyard – that dismal garden with the broken statues, mind you.”

“Now do me a favor and grab our whelps by the scruff of their necks. And tell them they’ll be covered in entrails by ‘morrow’s night…

We have a job to do.”
Last edited by The Nameless Wayfarer on Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:30 am, edited 6 times in total.
The Nameless Wayfarer: I write, I drink tea... and that's about it, actually.

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Skaldia
Minister
 
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Founded: Jun 30, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby Skaldia » Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:56 pm

Azher Drem

A lazy glint of sunlight flickered off of metal briefly in the still, hot room before disappearing in the hand that shot forth and made it disappear in flight. A decidedly feminine gasp and giggle followed and a woman appeared in view wrapping herself about the waist of Azher in the bed. Squeezing too tight for ribs recently bruised in an altercation with three drunk Imperial legionnaires, Azher clenched his teeth and slowly pried the woman away from his waist and slid from the narrow bed in a tangle of sheets and golden curls. As the woman lost her battle, sprawling across the bed in a heap of mostly white sheets and bare skin, she gave a smile that spoke volumes. Azher, sincerely hesitant upon second reflection, fought the urge to start again what he had just ended, and pulled his breeches to his waist.

"Alas, Clenna, if I could stay here and display all of my many skills, we would need forever." He said with a flash of a grin that made Clenna purse her lips in response and pout not unattractively. Azher's smile disappeared slowly as he clothed himself in his armor and slid all of his many knives into their respective places in a few efficient, practiced moves that spoke years of having to dress quickly and escape. Since his torture by the hands of a sadistic cuckolded husband, he had never strayed too far from his weapons and would never allow himself to be caught in such a situation again. Once was enough, and he didn't have an eye to spare for a second go.

Grabbing his bow and quiver in the corner to complete his ensemble he turned around and strode over to where Clenna remained in the bed, lying on her back and twirling one of her blonde curls around one finger idly bored. She smiled at his approach, revealing green eyes that Azher think of the rolling tides of his homeland. A deep kiss between the two began only to be sadly broken too quickly with Azher pulling away and brushing the back of his hand on her cheek. To eyes that spoke nothing but adoration, he purred. "Ah lady, you make every coin I spent on you almost worth it." Another quick kiss before her rising fury could make her react to his statement and he was just in time slamming the door to the small room before hearing the sound of broken pottery from last night's supper crash into the other side of the door.

With a chuckle reverberating in his chest, Azher walked as quickly away from the hallway as possible, the sound of a harpy screaming obscenities from the room he had just exited fading with the distance Azher traveled. As he left the hallway, he followed another before making his way to a narrow flight of stairs that led to the first floor of the hostel. All around him, a cacophony of noise assaulted the ears. Talking, shouting, moaning, laughter, and a myriad of human noise that reminded Azher he was alive. He took a deep breath, scenting all countless smells as well. A small cough and Azher exited the central courtyard in time to see their commander, Alderic come in with Gollome in tow and the tail of their own conversation.

"As long as the entrails spilled arn't mine, I'll do what needs doing." Azher said in a mildly grim tone as he fell into step with both men as they made their way towards the rear courtyard."Though taking a job from the likes of the Red Lady is like reaching your hand into a shark's mouth and not expecting to get bit." He glanced at them to make sure they caught they registered the import of his words. Before actually being able to gauge their response, his foot came into contact with stone hidden in the calf-high grass and Azher swayed his arms to keep from falling, cursing at his loss of footing and falling behind the advancing pair. The culprit for his graceless moment was revealed to be the broken bust of something resembling a man with scales for skin.

Annoyed at the pain his remaining toes felt that moment, he sidestepped the cracked statuary of some forgotten God and rushed to catch up.
Last edited by Skaldia on Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
||“The lesson of history is that no one learns.”
||Empty of Life||
||“Witness.”||
||“Chaos needs no allies, for it dwells like a poison in every one of us.”

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Ormata
Senator
 
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Founded: Jun 30, 2016
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Ormata » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:57 pm

Mayryan Pousa & Vinaqa sen Patil
Rousse, Bite’tour


Mayryan didn’t like Bite’tour.

The city, Rousse in particular, reminded him of his own home. It reminded him of a place in the mountains that had long been covered by white and cold and death, save for it’s lack of the snow and lack of the soot and damned dust. The buildings were all of the same construction, half-made from honest work and half-made from scrounging from whatever others had decided to throw away. The women were all of the same construction, that half-scrawny look about the body that suggested poor food and half-scrawny look about the eyes that suggested poor treatment, the darting looks speaking of danger down the street and furtive motions meaning trouble.

The men were different, though. They were more akin to poor hounds, starved dogs here. At home, the men would have lean muscles and no stomachs from long hours in the mines, toiling to feed their families. Here, they had no stomachs and had no muscle, atrophied as they were. The men in Rousse seemed to scrunch inwards, like a spider just after death, all angular limbs and bones jutting-out, as though dead. He disliked them as for being different than the men of his homeland just as much as he disliked the buildings and women for being similar to those of his homeland. Bastards. They reminded him of rats.

He strode in the area, in the watery streets, with the rest of the lot, morion hanging from his belt and breastplate laid bare for all to see. The weapons Mayryan carried suggested some sort of money, he thought, and these Biters would love to have the kind of money that could purchase a matchlock. They’d like a matchlock, too, if only to sell. A heavy, calloused hand laid on the handle of his sword; the man didn’t want trouble, especially not from these bastards. His eyes moved over those about the sides of the road, watching for trouble and issues that might occur.

Some ways near him, in the group, was another whose hair was far different than the black strands of Mayryan. Vinaqa’s red hair, to some maybe a sign of some demonic taint and others a sign of a very ‘talented’ woman, was held-out long, her hands idly at her sides. She did not know of the city, nor of Bite’tour save for what those other slaves had told her. Oh, Bite’tour, the city of no law save for that of money and bribery, the city that quite a few of her fellow slaves had hailed from. Slavemasters could work there, so long as they gave a cut to those guards and the like.

She did not like it, either.

Her eyes were bright green, the type of green that only came from the trees after it’d rained, and her hands played-about with a tassel hanging from her belt, idly so, though Vinaqa was well-aware of the possibilities that could arise. People in Bite’tour disliked foreigners, as she understood it, and she doubted some sort of contract would protect them from the violence or thievery that could arise. Yet, as far as she knew, they also had certain...issues. Like with fire. The Magi wondered if she could make someone see themselves on fire and would feel it. The human body was a powerful thing, after all. Considering it for a moment, she thought maybe, maybe not. Insects were far easier.

They came to hostel, a place that the Company was residing at. One might think it odd that the group, numbering some ten, had strolled the city streets, yet...well. Safety in numbers was always important, even in the safe cities, and in Bite’tour it was even more true. It was doubly so, considering that the city wasn’t even the central part. No, they were in one of the shantytowns, an area with less security and more crime. Well, perhaps not more crime. More audacious crime. In front of the hostel was their Prince and another. Mayryan recognized him easily enough as Gollome, a man whose beard was long and whose armor was nearly fine, though whose temperament was less fine. Vinaqa did not know the man; he was merely another face. They began for the rear courtyard, and the group followed them.

“We have meeting with the Duchess’ representative within the hour; you and the others shall meet me in the rear courtyard – that dismal garden with the broken statues, mind you.”

“Now do me a favor and grab our whelps by the scruff of their necks. And tell them they’ll be covered in entrails by ‘morrow’s night…We have a job to do.”


Another appeared, Azher, a man with whom Mayryan had slight relation to as a mercenary yet one who had plied his trade on another plane entirely. He’d been a seafarer, to their knowledge, and not a particularly fine one. The man, after all, had lost an eye during whatever exploits he’d had, and so Mayryan had come to the honest conclusion that the man had been particularly unlucky.

"As long as the entrails spilled arn't mine, I'll do what needs doing. Though taking a job from the likes of the Red Lady is like reaching your hand into a shark's mouth and not expecting to get bit."


This earned a chuckle from Mayryan and silence from Vinaqa.

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Yuzhou
Diplomat
 
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Founded: Jul 23, 2014
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Yuzhou » Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:10 am

Gollome Farelle
Bite'Tour


Rain.
It was an odd thing—droplets of water falling from high above to splash down on such wretched filthy streets that Gollome Farelle almost felt a sanctity to the stuff. Felt that those drops landing upon him and not onto the garbage below were the lucky ones that would remain pure for their short existence.
He knew he had been one of those drops that landed among the gutter.

He both hated and loved rain. It at once reminded him of home and of himself, and there was no better place to experience that than home itself.
If there was one thing he certainly hated, and there was many more than just one, it was home—the city of Bite'Tour. The most disgusting, brutal, unappealing city to ever have been risen from dirt and stone by mankind. It was enough to burn the very sense of smell from a man's nose with it's caustic stench, and that was just what came off the people. The rain here seemed more like the heavens crying than just normal rain. Such tears would be wasted on this hellhole.

Yet here Gollome stood, propped against the hostel where his company had stopped to sleep, keeping vigil in the very early hours of the morning. Bursts of rain poured down through the thick fog that haunted the moors at dawn. Still, despite the grey, people milled their way about.
Wrapped tightly in a cloak against the cold, he watched those who passed with sharp lavender eyes, The only thing that could burn in such damp conditions was his hate, and it was never more fierce and fiery than it was for the people of his homeland.

To Gollome, these people were the greatest traitors a man could ever encounter, deepened in turn by their limitless hypocrisy. He had grown up in streets like this. Not here in Rousse, but in another subsection of the city called Ladeux. Times had been different. When the sun did break the clouds once in a long while and the city had a warmth to it. Sure, things were changing even then, but now there was nothing but death and decay. A bleak place drained of the only color humans could ever give it.

Bite'Tour had once been one of the most cultured and intellectual cities in the world. Now, it was nothing but a black pool of ash and venom—a sad pile of sludge where Gollome let his hopes and dreams choke and die.

He was only here because this is where his captain saw fit to bring them.
Despite protests, despite concerns, despite even possible threats, Gollome could not dissuade his leader from bringing them here. The old Tourman considered jumping ship even as they stepped foot past the border, but ultimately he agreed to come only because he seriously believed death was not far off for him with the Prince deciding to aid one of the most vile women to ever crawl from the ooze of her mother's mud.

He was not happy.
As the rain subsided, a scrawny rat-looking fellow approached, taking Gollome for one of his own, as all Biters seemed able to do. He muttered something in the Tourish dialect, only to receive a sharply hostile gesture from the old crow.
Taking into consideration the swords at Gollome's side and back, the man did not linger long.

When the fog had lifted, or at least thinned, Gollome discarded the shawl and took a seat at the steps of the hostel. It wasn't much more time before his long awaited prince came plotting down the street like a daft bastard and greeted him. The Tourman simply stood and responded with an ill-contented grumble before following his liege into the hostel.
He took special note of Azher, the pup, joining them in step as well as the old Matroyan and the fire-haired girl. Generally three people Gollome considered wasted food and pay, though at least the Matroyan could fight.

It was then that he called out, irregardless of any other travelers or patrons nearby. "Every Crow to the gardens in the next ten minutes or you'll be decked so hard they'll have to force feed you through your arse and clean up the rest of you off the floor!"
The Tourman's voice was deep and surprisingly loud, but despite what he said it contained not a drop of humor to it. If anything, it was brutally serious.
"And Azher, stop that stupid fuckin' walk before I break your kneecaps."

He eyed his commander as the group made their way to the gardens.
They'll have to change it from "hostel" to "hospice", he thought. This lot will be dead by sundown.
I have been previously known as Apfeldonia and Thimbyrland

Oh way down south in the land of cotton...

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Kwadai
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Postby Kwadai » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:30 pm

Vasu Ramjakar


Vasu shivered in the cold dampness that surrounded him. He was not used to this climate. He quickly proceeded to pull his scarf further over his head to shield his face from the upside down tsunami as he walked on watching the dirty streets below his feet gradually transform into even filthier streams as he grew closer. He deeply regretted not investing in sturdier footwear, it may have made navigating the mess that bit more bearable. How much more bearable human waste and whatever other foul substances formed the sludge could be was a question he had no intent on ever dwelling on however. There were more important things at stake. Why he left the hostel in such ungodly weather in the first place was yet another question that happened upon his mind. "For air" had been his original excuse, not a convincing one for that matter, but an excuse nonetheless.

He hadn't made it further than two streets away before deciding to return back anyway. Bite'tour was a strange place. It was an ugly conglomeration of grey buildings, grey streets and arguably grey people, rain notwithstanding. Yet strangely, Vasu felt a sense of enjoyment from being in the city. It was exactly the sort of adventure he had been longing for when he left Guryshan all those months ago. Of course there were many more relaxing, tranquil locations he could have been but he was drawn to joining the Black Company as if being pushed by some invisible supernatural force. It wasn't an easy lifestyle by any extension of the imagination but what was ever easy in this world of inequality and uncertainty? It was common knowledge that Bite'tour was a hub for the most unsavoury activities something evident everywhere even if you weren't seeking it out.

Vasu was unusual here. Tourmen were for the most part malnourished, often sickly looking people with gaunt almost transparent skin paired with black hair and violet coloured eyes. Vasu on the other hand was clearly of a much different ethnic background. His hair was also black but that's where similarities came to an end. His skin was brown as where his eyes which were much warmer than their piercing Tourmen counterparts. He was dressed unsuspectingly with a lightweight dark grey overcoat over his beige shirt. Not that either of those would distract from the obvious physical differences between him and the locals. Fortunately he hadn't attracted much negative attention, he was sure he could defend himself if anybody were to pull anything. He kept his dagger carefully concealed should he need it, though he usually would prefer to fight without it.

Within a short time he finally arrived back at the hostel in which the group had been lodging to find the others had already began to gather with the Prince, their leader. Among them was the red haired Seinese, Vinaqa. He knew her from before joining the company, so it was curious they would end up her together. She had been a slave to an elderly relative of Vasu back in Guryshan, a prominent slaveowner in his community. He had freed all of his slaves before his death, bizarre and infuriating to the Ramjakar family who had been so very keen on obtaining the man's property. Naturally tension became strong between the family and the now free slaves, Vinaqa being one of them.

Also present was the ill tempered and bearded yet vital Gollome. Vasu suspected or rather, knew for certain that Gollome probably had an innate dislike for many of them and frankly everybody else too. Whether or not the dislike was one of sympathy was not known. Before Vasu got all the way over to the group outside the hostel, the Tourman suddenly bellowed to the gathering in front of him telling them to head to the gardens all the while offering a brutal yet oddly humouring reminder of what he would do to them should they not do so quickly. Not wanting to be force fed through his rear, the Guryshani too caught up to the group and followed them in the direction of the aforementioned gardens.
Last edited by Kwadai on Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Ormata
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Ormata » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:08 pm

Mayryan Pousa & Vinaqa sen Patil
Rousse, Bite’tour


"Every Crow to the gardens in the next ten minutes or you'll be decked so hard they'll have to force feed you through your arse and clean up the rest of you off the floor!"
The Tourman's voice was deep and surprisingly loud, but despite what he said it contained not a drop of humor to it. If anything, it was brutally serious.
"And Azher, stop that stupid fuckin' walk before I break your kneecaps."


“Sah!” came Mayryan’s reply as he continued his stride with the rest to the rear courtyard, well-aware of the minor issues that the Biter had in store. Gollome was not a pleasant man, not by the least of it, though he did ignore the comment of Azher’s. The seafarer was particularly lucky, it seemed, though a bark from the front of the hostel made the Matroyan turn his head about.

There was his dog, Imrysi, bounding-along as he would with all that energy that he had held. Imrysi was a Matroyan dog, you see, one of those that had been bred over the years in the cold climates of the mountains. He wasn’t a fluffy pup, not at all, and was really rather large. A lot of the hounds Mayryan had seen were the kind who were bred from sad dogs, the kinds who tarried in the street, begging for scraps or eating small children, as it were, the kinds of dogs whose backs were used to the head hanging low and the tail between the legs. Imrysi wasn’t that kind of dog; he’d been bred for rescue in the mountains, for finding those mountaineers and soldiers and living among the peaks and snow. The irony wasn’t lost on Mayryan.

The dog bounded-up, tail wagging before getting in-step aside Mayryan, tongue out and panting happily. The old rifleman just tickled the dog’s head, scratching right behind the ears, briefly, with a smile on his face. Lord did he love dogs a bit more than people. Pups were so damn happy all the time, nearly, and they were so very faithful. Those other breeds of hound, they were pitiful, but the right dog? The right dog was a glorious dog.

Vinaqa’s reaction to the yelling, as rapid and as out-of-fucking-nowhere that it was, was as easily telegraphed as could ever be. She jumped, ever so briefly at the thing, before really rather noticeably speeding-up her pace. The voice threw her back a good deal; it reminded her of another voice, one that truly never boded good deeds. Just as quickly as she jumped, the girl remembered.

The straw was always damn. Whatever the conditions were, the straw was always damn, be it as hot as hell or as cold as the devil, and the smell always was there. The smell of manure, putrid and running and stinking in it’s place, combined with the phosphorous of piss in the straw, Lord it was always there. There never was a place to piss, a place to shit, and so the slave masters just set straw down on the ground and whenever one had to go, they went. God, was it bad. The food was just as terrible, rotting and stinking, and despite everything, never would sit well with the rest. Vinaqa sometimes just...wouldn’t eat, for fear of the future and whatever it might hold. The rest of them, sometimes they starved, sometimes they wouldn’t, and whenever they did...well, force-feeding was a cruel thing to see and hear and there were no walls to block-out the screams.

They’d always wash-down the slaves, before going to the house to dress in soft silk that would only be ripped-away for the patrons and bastards there. They’d always wash-down and the marks wouldn’t show.

Yet that yell, the sheer style of it and method in it, it reminded her of one man in particular. Well. He was not a man in the strictest sense, not a man for he was not kind and not good and held nothing in the way of what a man should be. A man should never be as he was, not even in the darkest dreams he held or the deepest fears. A man should never imagine him. The bloated beast was a larger person, large in appetite, and his head was always shaved, with a topknot. He was one of the guards, the enforcers of Vinaqa’s father’s wishes, and he took advantage of this position. He was of the night guard.

The bloated mass would unlock the door, at night, before tipping on his toes into the room to choose who he would have. The smell was such that he always had a wet cloth about his face, wet and with a pinch of herb or spice there to ward the smells always. He would wake the sleeping up, never having to tell them to shut up for they knew if they would speak then the punishments would be so much worse. Then he would lead them away, away and out of the barracks to wherever he held, and they would come back, late as ever. They never would speak of it.

The bloated mass was not picky in who he took. Vinaqa was among them.

She shook the thing from her mind, eyes closed; Gollome was a Biter, true, but not even Biters were as that mass had been. Not even Biters were as he was. Gollome was not a slaver, this wasn’t the barracks, the piss and shit was not in the straw and the straw was not scratching at her legs. She felt a piece of grass scratch there and was reminded again and had to force it away. This in not then, not Sein, not the barracks, father is dead, this is not then, not the barracks, father is dead, Vinaqa repeated that, again and again and again in her mind, and her eyes opened again to the world.

They were pure red, the spell long forgotten in the mists of memory.

A dog was beside the group, trotting and panting happily, a calloused and tanned hand about his head from Mayryan, and to that dog and to it’s happiness Vinaqa offered-up a nervous little smile that spoke of no happiness behind it. The dog looked-up at her, eyes still bright and tongue still wagging, though it increased its pace just a little. The pup nudged at her leg, her skirt, ever so briefly, and just to please that dog she put-out her hand, letting the dog smell there before scratching about the ears.

“Don’t you have a...raven?” Mayryan said this so very casually; he could recall it before, and could recall of Vinaqa talking to the bird in a hushed tone.

“She’s out for a...walk,” was the girl’s reply. The dead began to talk, then, and Vinaqa blocked-out their voices. She did not need to hear of the dead adulterers or the whores in the street. Not now. Not ever.

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The Nameless Wayfarer
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Ex-Nation

Postby The Nameless Wayfarer » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:23 pm

Alderic was never one fond of yelling; he felt that, among equals, clever words and rhetoric could accomplish the same effect if not more positive results. However, that was his mindset in the world of academia, and evidently enough, his world was not of that ilk – discipline was required, and if it were not speedily bestowed upon the men and women of the Company, they would all be dead before they even removed their weapons out of their scabbards. And the Black Prince, familiar enough with the old, haggard crone of death, was not eager to lock eyes with him again any time soon. As such, his dear accomplice, the bitter Gollome Farelle, served a purpose; although some members of the group may think him a curmudgeon and a wretched sod with an asshole for a mouth, ultimately, he’d be doing them a favor by saving them from the spears that would undoubtedly be aimed at their backs each and every day in battle. If one grew accustomed to the roars of a bearded grizzly bear under the guise of a man, well, the Prince reckoned they would be less likely to crumble under the onslaught of a screaming fellow with an axe in his hand.

Ultimately, however, all of the shouting and barking in the world would not save them from a foe that possessed more skill or numbers. Alderic knew that from experience.

He just hoped, that for once, the indecisive bitch known as, “Fate,” would take mercy on these lost souls that called his Company home. After all, how would I make any coin if they were six feet under? He said to himself, more to reassure his façade of indifference, if anything.

The Black Prince sauntered forward with both the rigid cadence of a military man and an odd bounce in his step akin to that of a jovial reveler. He listened passively to the conversation being had between the freshly ordained soldiers, analyze and hanging on to every word, as he was given to do in situations calling for conversation.

He took notice of the pallid rifleman’s hound and remarked at its size. A fine specimen, indeed, Alderic thought to himself. He always did cherish the company of the beasts of the field rather than that of men; men were complicated, prone to irregularity, and they rigidly adhered to useless social constructs. Now, animals… they were simple, acting on instinct, that, more often that not, made much more sense to him than the logic of mankind.

The Prince whistled at it melodically, beckoning for it to come over to him as he reached a ruined stone archway in front of the old garden’s center courtyard. There, he stopped, knelt on a single knee, and let the dog, all slobber and loyalty, approach him. He took his left hand and ran it over the soft fur that covered its muscled flank.

“A very fine hound of yours, Pousa. How well is it trained, might I ask?”

"Very, lord, very. Trained back home, he is," came Mayryan's reply, though he already knew of that and mildly appreciated the Prince's compliments.

"A dog's loyalty is worth tenfold that of a man's," Alderic said to the man plainly, as if it were common knowledge; he did so in a tone that could only be described as wistfully sentimental. "An old adage. Luckily, ancient things never truly lose their value, as long as they serve a purpose - isn't that right, aye, Gollome?" The Prince uttered the gibe with a hint of dry humor in his voice.

"Ancient things only have use if men believe they do, your grace." Gollome grumbled.

"I jest, my friend,” he remarked with a smirk, and turned his attention back to the former, “Tell me, Mayryan, what was your old boy trained to do, exactly?"

"Mountain dog, milord. To sniff-out bastards who got lost in the peaks." That was a moderate rarity, in all honesty, back home though. Truth to be told he was more to find the corpses of those dead in avalanches.

The Black Prince let out a quiet exhale, hinting that he was deep in thought, and said, "I see. A treacherous country like yours breeds hardy stock." His gloved hand softly patted the dog's haunch, sending it trotting back to its waiting master, with its rather large tongue dangling from its toothy maw all the while. "He may prove to be useful."

"That hound already has more use than you do, your grace. He knows when it's appropriate to let his tongue loose." Gollome murmured, coyly.

The Prince uttered a ghostly chuckle and nudged past Gollome with a hardy shove of the shoulder, which practically burst with momentum, and more importantly, the sickly sweet force of camaraderie. He tilted his masked head to the decrepit archway once more, "All of you, please, enter the grove and take a seat around that stone, there. Once everyone is in attendance, our briefing will begin - and yes, ale will be poured, though, to use the words of Sir Farelle, 'if you drink enough to put you on your ass, you may very well wake up without it.'"
Last edited by The Nameless Wayfarer on Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.
The Nameless Wayfarer: I write, I drink tea... and that's about it, actually.

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Ormata
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Ormata » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:40 pm

Co-Written with The Nameless Wayfarer, Skaldia, Yuzhou

With ears ringing from the shrieking of Gollome, Azher caught up to the party of now five as they approached the grove. Pousa's dog, a mut if Azher had ever seen one, trotted over to the group like one of the Three come to life and was all the center of attention suddenly! A memory rose to a surface; it was a beach in Guryshan, the sound of a growling greeting the pirate band as they rounded the corner and found a feral mutt rooting in the guts of a dead infant. Even in the face of six heavily armed pirates, all the dog did was raise bloody, foaming mouth and stand them off, eyes glowing in the dark of that burning village.

Azher blinked his eyes and the image floated away. Seeking something besides the damn dog to look at, Azher glanced over to the woman, Vinaqa. She was a woman, and Azher had a thing for dangerous women. A smile was just touching his lips when his eye fell upon two bloody orbs where Vinaqa's eyes should have been. The color draining from his face, Azher looked away quickly and sought out in the crowd anyone else who might have seen it.

Azher was normally not one to feel fear, that particular nerve found in most men having been carved out of him in the home of his adolescence but something about those eyes reminded him of that particular brutal recent memory.

Vinaqa's eyes were those of the that feral canine

Vinaqa noticed the man's reaction, eyebrows raising briefly with little understanding as she sook-out the reason for why he was so afraid, why the color was away from his face, why he was looking-away. Then she felt it, felt the lack of a spell and the lack of the frame that held it. It;d gone and those eyes...well, they were back. What an interesting little...thing, she thought to herself, not quite finding the correct word for it. "Something wrong?" She asked him, a thin little smile forming as she goaded the man.

Like stone, Azher's face lost all emotion and his remaining eye became hooded. What color in his face remained returned in obstinate defiance of his brush with fear as he stared off with Vinaqa."Only you, witch." Without waiting for a reply, he smirked and broke eye contact with Vinaqa to find a log. Once sitting down, he brushed at his pant legs in nervous habit, and glanced back up at Vinaqa in obvious contempt.

Her smile turned to a frown. Well, that was to be expected, then, wasn't it. It really, really was. Damn. Vinaqa knew of the Biters and thought that, perhaps, some of the Company would understand; they had, after all, had their own issues in life and their own trials by fire, but apparently not. Apparently they were all religious cucks.

Bastards.

She followed them, pointedly sitting next to the seafarer with her hands in her lap, when Vinaqa was mildly interrupted. From the sky came a little bird, a raven who was smaller than most and yet seemed rather old. It's head moved far slower than one would expect, as it landed upon one of her hands, and did not fidget as much as could be expected. She leaned in to it, as though listening.

"Oh, yes. You know how people are these days," Vinaqa said to the bird, nodding as though it had said something, before leaning in and listening again, intently. "No, no. Of course not." A little smile appeared on her face again. With her other hand, she adjusted her hair, tucking a strand behind her ear.

The Black Prince, leaning on the remains of a cylindrical pedestal in the center of the damp grove, watched the exchange between the former privateer, Azher, and that peculiar Seinese woman, with silent interest. Normally, the commander would have stepped in by now and diffused any drama or conflict; yet, this wasn't the old Black Company, nor was he the young idealist he was so many years ago. These were new faces - new men and new women, who, if they were to have any chance of fighting together successfully side by side, needed to evaluate each other and test boundaries - and, in Alderic's mind, their interactions needed to be studied, closely. As the quarrelsome pair sat next to each other, indignantly, a lone crow flew down and perched itself on the red-haired woman from the famed city of Sein. Is she... is she holding a conversation with that damned bird? Gollome, where the hell did you find these folk, an asylum? Nonetheless, in an effort to break the nearly palpable tension in the air, the Prince removed his thick great-sword from his back with a sharp pitch, and quickly plunged it into the muddy soil. He put his weight on the blade's hilt and let his piercing blue eyes settle on Vinaqa. He said, "Vinaqa, is it?"

Golome simply glanced at Alderic and shrugged a resigned motion that said only ‘your guess is as good as mine.’

"Yessir," she said, almost automatically. Lord was it strange to just...automatically go to that. A holdover, she supposed, from far earlier days. It was strange for the Commander to approach her, too, but...this was a strange place it seemed.

"You're a Magi, are you not?"

With that information suddenly tossed in the air, Azher visibly scooted further from Vinaqa.

"Yessir," was her, again, reply. Of course she was a Magi; what else would Vinaqa be, a camp follower? To hell with that, she wasn't one of those women. She didn't spread her legs for any dirty-haired bastard, didn't cook for any bleary-eyed mercenary. Vinaqa noticed the seafarer's response, though, and leaned-in again towards the raven. "Of course he's a scared little boy. They always were, momma." A melodious little laugh came from her, a shaking thing that followed her full body. The raven crowed along with it, and a smile was left on Vinaqa's face.

"Pansy arse." Gollome uttered as his eyes shot to the moving Azher. "Afraid of a little girl now, are you?"

The Prince rose a single, pointed finger toward Gollome, beckoning him to be silent.

"Tell me, ya ole fuck, does every little girl hear the dead?" Azher snarled back at Gollome, his handing drifting towards a knife on his belt.

Farelle went to respond, but the Prince's warning caused him only to glance sharply at Azher and give a resigned grumble.

"Only when they talk," was her more serious response, one brow raising on the seafarer, before her hand curled into a cragged ball, as though beckoning something that was not to be bidden, and her red orb eyes turned darker, more murky.

Azher's eyes shot back to the Commander and his hand fell away from his blade.

Alderic growled, his voice taking on a much more formal tone, "Captain Farelle, lock it down; now." He swung his attention toward the snarky yet admirably ballsy Azher, "And you, boy, stay your hand from your knife before you lose it. Is that clear?"

A moment of silence passed, long silence that seemed more than it actually was. The tension in the air was like a long breath before the rush of battle, the sort of thing that cut into the heart and made the mind pause and go numb. Neither men answered the Black Prince. Vinaqa’s brow remained raised, though she lowered her cragged hand and leaned-in to the raven, not saying anything of the sort in a response.

With no response from either of the stubborn men, who, as far as Alderic was concerned, had much more in common than they let on, his voice rose to a menacing baritone roar, "Are you deaf? Or is my point clear to you?"

Gollome first replied, saying, "Yes, your grace. I'll keep my mouth closed next time."

Azher's face went from white hot rage to stone cold in a moment,"Yes sir."

"I want to make something clear, and widely known: I have no use for men with active tongues and idle ears," he said, as he lowered his voice and turned to Vinaqa, "Nor do I have a use for a snide Magi and her parlor tricks." The Prince slowly stalked over to the red-haired woman whilst his dark leather boots stomped the muddy earth beneath him into a vile pulp. "That is, unless your capable of doing something more than whispering sweet-nothings to a well-trained raven," he inquired, curiously.

Vinaqa leaned in to the raven again, before looking-up to the man and saying, "My mother does not like being called a parlor trick, M'lord, and I am sure I can do a bit more." Laying her hand open, palm up, she curled her fingers again, as though tugging on something with an invisible twine, and the Prince would feel something a little different. Ants about his feet, he could see, swarming-about before beginning to crawl-up his legs. His mind might play tricks, but the mind was a powerful thing, and he could feel them, too.

Alderic shuddered at the Magi's invisible touch as she weaved otherworldly webs with her delicate, lady-like fingers; a familiar feeling, it was. He maintained his outward composure, nonetheless, and said, "An illusionist, aye?"

"Aye, aye," she said, nodding ever so.

To Azher, watching her hands tug the air and the immediate reaction of the Commander, he covered his mouth as if coughing. The laugh would have surely killed him.

"I must regret to inform you that this is not the first time I've witnessed someone of your special ilk, milady," he said, his smile nearly tangible in his voice, as he glanced at Azher. "A pleasant surprise." The Prince turned on his heel ever so slightly and unsheathed his Guryshani parrying dagger, swiftly pointing it in the young Azher's direction, "And you, jester, what is your talent?"

Vinaqa crooked her head forwards a tad, closing her eyes briefly as her own hand closed, the ants disappearing from the Prince's sight. The girl leaned towards the raven yet again, nodding with her eyes still closed, a small smile returning.

Smirking at the Commander, Azher was suddenly the image of a professional and rose fluidly from his perch as his left hand drifted to one of the barbed arrows in the quiver on his back."Fond of the dagger, sir?"

Mayryan, meanwhile, sat down upon one bench and nodded, enjoying the events before him. He was a bit wary of the woman, red-eyed as she was, but the revelation that she was a Magi was no such big thing. It meant there was a bigger reason for the red eyes, and her raven was apparently her mother. All was normal there. Curious, though. He began to idly pet his dog, watching from a greater distance.

"I'd say I am; but, I'm always down for a good old wager."

Grinning at the chance of reward, Azher said,"You can point at anything you want. I can put two arrows in an ant's ass before you blink."

Alderic, shaking his head in amusement, conceded to the young man's wild desire for a challenge to prove his skill. He spun around, slowly scanning the grove for a target sufficient to his liking, settling on a rotting apple hanging from one of several gnarled trees in the distance, located near the back door of the hostel. The Prince gestured to it, "Go on, then."

With his eyes falling on the rotting apple still grimly holding on to dying tree at the rear exit of the courtyard, time seemed to slow. In one fluid motion that, to the others gathered around was merely a blur, Azher's fingers entwined on two of the arrows in his quiver and notched them to his bow. Half a breath and they were loosed. With uncanny accuracy, both arrows thunked into the rotted apple a moment after leaving the string, bursting the apple in a welter. One arrow was actually almost embedded in the other. Eyes rolling slowly over to the Commander, Azher held his hand out."Got anything else that's similar to my new dagger?" Before the Commander could reply, Azher waved off the proffered dagger."Call it even, sir. Plenty of other times to rob ya later down the road."

Albeit more impressed than stunned by Azher's prowess, the Prince was nonetheless surprised by this cocky fellow's precision with a bow; it, along with the refusal of his prize, nearly excused his arrogant demeanor. Alderic tipped his cap to the archer as a sign of respect, remarking, "Well, you have quite the aim, there," pausing for an instant, he eyed the man with his cold, calculating orbs of ice, "Sir Azher." Without warning, the Commander of the Black Company, adroitly holding the curved knife by its fatal tip, threw it towards the former sea-raider. It stuck into the hardy stump he sat on with a thwack, a very short distance away from the delicate appendage that lay between his legs. He said, plainly, "You have skill; now temper it with humility." Leaning back on a sturdy tree, he said, "Now, be a dear and hand me my dagger, please," and as he looked towards the crumbling archway, he finished, "Ah, I see more of our lot are arriving."
Last edited by Ormata on Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Oudland
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Founded: Jul 19, 2009
Ex-Nation

Postby Oudland » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:47 pm

Sir Daykr Dyn, the Black Boar
Bite'Tour


"Beauty."

Daykr smiled as he held the blade aloft. He studied the intricacies of every detail. The design on the pommel was his favorite, meticulously crafted to resemble a screaming maiden. He had spent weeks at work at the forge, strengthening and sharpening the blade until he was satisfied. Lovingly, he set the weapon aside.

Turning his gaze towards the floor, he grew suddenly somber. His vision blurred, and a single tear crept slowly down his cheek and into his beard. Daykr shuddered, and reached for his stein. After draining it, the pain in his chest dulled and his mind began to drift.

"Beauty."

He spat the word. The only beauty he knew was wrought from iron and steel.

 Everything else was dust.

Daykre reached for his masked helm, deciding that he had spent far too long contemplating the transience of things.

It was time to face the world.

He exited the room he kept at the little inn, sporting a mix of black enameled scale and plate armor made by his own hand, the company's black cape flung back to reveal pauldrons ornamented with a bronze design worked into the grimacing visages of men. He hefted a great axe, a shield and warpick strapped to his back.

A few veteran mercenaries aknowledged his passing and offered their greetings, to which Daykr only grunted. He was a man of few words even amongst friends, having never fully taken to the imperial tongue.

The greener soldiers avoided his gaze altogether. That was fine. More than likely, many of them would die before the year was done. Such was the lot of men who sold such services that the company provided.

Daykr himsef often wondered how he had escaped such a fate, and why he even bothered at all. Exiting the inn, he pushed those thoughts away as he walked. His commander, the Black Prince, had called upon his crows, and was expecting him in the courtyard. After some time, Daykr saw a few of his fellows gathered near a decrepit stone archway. Raising a hand in greeting, he strode over to them,
Last edited by Oudland on Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:56 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Tertuath Hath
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 174
Founded: Jan 17, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Tertuath Hath » Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:05 am

Konchak Eskel
Bite'tour


As the first few steak of gold cut through the haze of the morning, filtering through the air and making its way through the moldy wooden blinds of the window, the athletic figure of the Katherian rider was already at work.

First, the braids.

Worn, mildly tanned fingers expertly weaved through the thicket of black, long hair, tugging this way and that. Quick loops and gentle pulls, weaving in and out, in and out, hairs flowing past each other in a silent dance executed with the greatest of ease. Expert fingers made for quick work, taming the wild mass of black string into a masterpiece of braids.

Now, the clothes.

The same lithe fingers found their way to the decrepit mass of detritus that dare call itself a drawer, with its blackened surface and ill fitting drawers, uneven legs and broken handles. From a squeaky, ramshackle drawer, a pair of woollen socks flew out, and guided by hands accustomed to working fast, found their place hugging a pair of worn, tired feet. In another set of swift movements, a pair of grey pants, dulled by the hungry rays of the ever present Sun, followed suit, embracing once more the legs they'd gotten to know. Tall, proud, and defiant, the leather boots came next, engulfing the feet, socks, and lower portion of the pants, an ever hungry beast whose entrails were spilled every night. A cotton tunic, dyed yellow by hands whose owner was long gone, embroidered with red strands of fine wool by one who sang songs so sweet, so tender, that they couldn't possibly belong in this wretched world. And now they didn't. Thick and warm, that was the kaftan, whose woollen embrace called to him, pulling him to a different place. It embraced the tunic. A studded belt, plucked from the ground and wound up above the waist, with tones as earthy as the land that bore him. Gloves as brown as the face that had sold them, worn as the hands that wore them....those were tucked under the belt, drooping lazily like ripe heads of wheat.

Then the armor.

Cold to the touch, a shirt of mail, whose tiny rings had borne witness to the deaths of countless, unameable victims, each a mirror to the faces of death, falling into place over broad shoulders. Strapped to the belt, hanging menacingly, a steel helm, as round and upright as the teats of a fine woman, with the steely visage of mustachioed killer. A few tugs and over the shoulders, a leather harness and its round, steel plates found their place, reuniting with the mail that it had sworn to protect.

Finally, the jewelry.

A pair of silver earrings found their marks, swift fingers placing them firmly into place, followed by a quaint necklace of gold around the neck. A golden ring, plain in appearance, save for the inscriptions in a dialect all too familiar, whose meaning was known only to him that cherished it the most, slid...

There was no ring.

A wave of bubbling anxiety crashed rapidly through his soul, a sharp stab of panic piercing his very being. Two pools of dark water opened wide, glancing wildly over the entirety of the dark, dank room, tearing into every detail that they could see. The panic swelled exponentially, and finally, the dams broke. Konchak tore through the room: the drawer was knocked over and torn apart, the bed was flipped, the sheets were ripped, the blinds annihilated. The small battlefield was picked over thrice, but to no avail, for no ring of any shape or form could be found within its walls.

"I swear to fuck!"

Running down the narrow flight of rickety stairs, Konchak made his way to the ground floor of the hostel, where the other patrons drank their piss water and ate the mud that the so called "cook" passed off as food. His eyes darted around the faces and hands, an endless sea of local trash, half of them starved, half of them diseased, but all worthless. He could easily understand Gollome's hatred for this wretched country, with its pathetic, craven people, who only knew the confines of their worthless hobbles. How a poor, degenerate country could push out a man as fearsome of reputation as Gollome, that was beyond him.

As he waded through the throngs of anorexic men, his eyes caught the golden glimmer of a ring, all the way on the far side of the hostel. Moving faster, his hands shoved and clawed their way through the throngs of people, a few dirty looks shot at him but quickly disappearing as they saw the bloodlust written all over. The room got quieter and quieter as Konchak drew closer to a table where a group of Biters were loudly drinking, their voices raised in obscene snickers over jokes uttered in that heinous accent of theirs. But he wasn't paying attention to their gross wails of laughter or their nasally speech, his eyes and mind were glued unto the hand that bore a ring. As he finally closed in behind the thin wretch that wore the ring, the whole hostel grew quiet.

"You have something o' mine," he spat, hand resting on the saber he quickly snatched on his way down.

The Biters hurriedly turned to face Konchak, startled by the ferocity in his voice. The skinny fool who sat right in front of him stared wide eyed, mouth full of yellowed teeth hanging low. A string of incoherent babbles poured out from their mouths, falling flatly on ears that could not understand them.

"T'ey say t'ey don' know wat yer sayin'," interrupted the barkeep, slowly peeking over the counter.

Konchak rolled his eyes and, with a violent jab, the snatched up the Biter's right hand in his own right hand, pinning him down to his seat with his right foot.

"Where'd ya get this," he said, venom on his every word," cause this looks unnervin'ly like the ring I lost."

Another string of incoherent muttering, broken here and there by pain filled gasps as he tightened his grip around the dainty wrist.

"He say he bowght it himzelf, he say he iz no dief," the barkeep quivered.

His eyes inspected the ring slowly, all the while taking in the barkeep's translation of the whelp's words. It was a golden ring, plain in appearance, save for for the inscriptions in a dialect all too familiar...

With a swift, single motion, the hand separated from its owner's body as the well kept cavalry saber cleaved through the malnourished flesh and bone. A general panic sweeped the hostel as the man's screams of agony filled the air. In a matter of seconds, the bottom floor of the hostel was deserted, save for Konchak, the shocked barkeep, and the sniveling heap of the ring thief.

Slowly pulling the ring off, he tossed the pale hand back to its owner as he placed the ring on its rightful place. Having retrieved his ring, Konchak made his way back up the stair in order to finish fully equipping himself, having heard Gollome's call before he punished the thief. At the bottom of the stairs, he yelled over to the sniveling fool laying on the floor, saying:

"You're lucky, I usually just outright slaughter people who disrespect me they way you did, so cheer up.... at least you can still use your other hand to touch yourself at night."

Hurriedly strapping his bow and quiver in place, Konchak Eskel made his way unto the mud soaked street, running briskly to follow the others towards the meeting place.

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Valaran
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
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Founded: May 25, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Valaran » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:17 pm

Absences

The Nediean was always something Kyra could pick out. Arrogance glowered in their footsteps. It was nestled in their expression. It was a sort of squat superiority, held by a race that considered themselves entitled to enslave others.

This one was a drinker. Kyra had watched him knock back half a dozen kegs of pisswater. She had seen Nedieans drink before. Her overseers had liked to do so often. It most of them mellow, less attentive to the slaves. Some it made rougher. Hands would dig harder into flesh, or deliver stinging rebukes.

The one she watched seemed to be gentler. He held a whore in his arms, with hair as red as his own. The grip around her waist seemed to be loose, carefree. It spoke of a man at ease, in Bite’tour of all places. The whore whispered something into his ear. He smiled and nodded. Kyra watched him pay the tap, and walk out with her.

She looked up as they left the tavern. Her expression was a spiked lance of a glare, black hate set in porcelain. The Nediean did not notice, his gaze muddled by pisswater. The whore did. Her eyes happened to chance across as Kyra glared. They widened in surprise, for Kyra did not change her expression. The hate was not only for the Nediean. It belonged to all those with them. All those that serviced their plague.

Kyra stared for a whole longer at the empty doorframe, after the two had left. She had long-since ceased to register what she was she was looking at. Her mind supplied the absence with its own images. She viewed someplace colder, where the wood was covered in dark greens fronds and pine needles. Where the Nedieans drank the same, and were not gentle. Doubtless those who ventured inside the tavern would be confused by the stare. Not that surprised, of course. Bite’tour was a place for the aggrieved.

She downed her own drink. It was pisswater - hops with too much bitterness and lacking in alcoholic substance. The addition of local water had rendered it pale-pus yellow and muddy. Kyra had been raised on the gain distillations of her homeland, spiced with local herbs until it was a deep burgundy. It would give off a potent aroma, hints of the subtle flavours lurking in the turbid concoction. It would impart a spice-laden kick to the imbiber. Kyra rarely found it outside Thrysia.

All the same, the pisswater had made her unsteady. Reactions were sluggish, her mind dulled to the senses. She walked slowly, to give the appearance of purpose. She would turn her head on occasion, squinting with dark eyes, to give the semblance of observation. Bite’tour was a hostile city, even to her. Full of pale rancour, cloaked in iniquity.

All cities were organs to Kyra. Some were akin to a muscle. They pulsed with strength, the crowd striding with rhythmic purpose. She had decided Bite’tour was a liver, a secreter of bile and channel through which a tide of filth passed. Here the people stalked around one another, eyes glancing furtively. Direction of travel was as much determined by these glances, as it was by destination. As for Kyra, she trudged. Her coat was pulled tightly around her. Her crossbow was unstrung, cloaked by sealskin covers and strung across her back. It never hurt to prepare for rain in the north.

Kyra found her hands restless, so she had one hold onto the strap of her pack. The other rested near her belt, firmly clutching a hilt. They were used to carrying the crossbow. Its weight made her feel secure, somehow. Right now, it dug into her back, while its strap combined with the one of her pack to lace fire across her chest. She kept her head down.

The rain was a blessing. It turned the roads to liquid, but it made people walk faster. It drenched Kyra’s head, and cleared some of the fog from her mind. It also washed away some of the accumulated grime from Bite’our. The buildings were dark and shapeless and grey, yes, but this was merely how they looked now. Once they were majestic. Kyra passed a mansion, one with the ruined stumps of pillars and the remains of sculpture. The storm had turned the mud caking the edifice into slurry, exposing some of the masonry beneath Something caught her eye. A series of swirls, asymmetric and roughened by erosion. She knelt down, wiping away more of the dirt with her hand. Some of the mud stained the swirls At the centre lay a niche, a small alcove that would have held some object. Something so moveable would not have lasted long in a fairer city than Bite’our. In fact, Kyra remembered similar in the ruins, back near her home. A similar vacant space, meant to hold something other than the void. Something that could only now be filled by images supplied from inadequate minds.

Kyra turned away from the image. It called back to old longings, made distant by time and pain. She had found those ruins while being trained to hunt. Her father had held a respect for them she did not understand. Slowly, with halting gestures, she imitated his movements. Two fingers to the forehead, passing down the lips. She still did not understand what she did, but it seemed oddly appropriate.

She arrived to find the Black Company in the process of awakening. A company of mercenaries shifted slowly when roused from idleness, half-staggering into the formation. The Crows were no different, not least since their leadership was absent. Kyra went to find them. She had arrived in time by the looks of things, but without information.

She halted under the archway. She had found the heart of the Black Company. More specifically, she had found the Prince, and a little coterie of others. Some of these knew. Gollome looked equal parts irate and unnerved, which Kyra decided was not so different from his usual scowl. The Seinese Magi was there too. Her red-hair made Kyra scowl herself, biting back at some memory. It bothered her more than eyes did. Apple fragments littered the floor. A dagger sat between the legs of some younger person, apparently an archer. Then there was Mayryan, who she vaguely appreciated, for his weary experience if nothing else. If the scene was a painting, it would be an awkward one Only Gollome seemed to fit the setting. A man who scowled as much as Kyra, and glared more besides.

She remembered none of these from the old Company. Not the archer, not the Witch, not Gollome. The Company she had seen were grim men of experience, not irritable codgers or cocksure fools. Silent, resolute, deathless and deathly.

Only the Prince had remained. He was much as before, yet she thought him changed, even if she could not say why. His arrogance was the same. The crystal mockery of his voice unaltered. The fracture between his old and current selves, if there was one, was hairline.

The Prince spoke something to the archer, equal parts inane and portentous. Then he turned away, to gaze at his assembling fools, who were now pouring into the space. But not Kyra. She found herself unwilling to fully enter the garden. A braided man walked past her, as did a stout Dyrman, and a scarfed Guryshani. Kyra remained under the arch. She held back as the mercenaries went forth, and as the Prince made ready to adress them. Not for the first time, she wondered whether this was really the same Company she remembered, from so long ago. Could they, could she, really support the legends around this Band? Perhaps it really had faded, like the edifices around them. If so, Kyra found herself an observer to the ebbing aura of her Company, gazing through the absences it brought.

Kyra looked at the fragments of the Black Company from the archway. The sight did not inspire her with confidence.
I used to run an alliance, and a region. Not that it matters now.
Archeuland and Baughistan wrote:"I don't always nice, but when I do, I build it up." Valaran
Valaran wrote:To be fair though.... I was judging on coolness factor, the most important criteria in any war.
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The Nameless Wayfarer
Envoy
 
Posts: 284
Founded: Oct 26, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Nameless Wayfarer » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:39 pm

What a motley crew we are, Alderic observed to himself, quietly. Watching his peculiar band of mercenaries as they came together like a hawk on the prowl, he leaned the entirety of his weight against the uneven trunk in some sort of silent vigil.

He let his mouth curl into a fatalistic smirk, I’d wager my soul that we’re all going to die by sunrise tomorrow, milady; then again, you already possess it, in one way or another, do you not?

The Prince, lord-commander of the once notorious yet well-respected Black Company, watched another handful of new-blood warriors stagger into the old grotto of broken statues and warped trees. A groomed fellow with braided ebony hair – a Katherian who went by the name of Konchak, if Alderic’s memory served him well – accompanied a stout Dyrman, an oddity even in a city such as Bite’tour, who looked even more impressive when compared to the lithe Guryshani who followed close behind him. The young man, whom possessed the trademark features of someone born of that peculiar southern realm, wore a dark grey scarf with a cowl to match. Near that particular group, the former holy man, Father Vanstein, arrived alongside the dour Thyrsian huntress, Kyra, and the Seinese, Velasco, amidst some sort of casual discussion. Years ago, before that day of infamy – before his fall from grace – such a sight would have given Alderic hope. Hope for a new day; a day of new brotherhood, new opportunities, and new sources of coin and glory, all for one, and one for all. Now, as jaded as he was wizened, the Black Prince was both disheartened and disgusted by the men and women before him. If they didn’t perish their first day on the job, Alderic was sure their feats would hardly amount to any of the accomplishments of his old brothers-in-arms, his old friends.

They possessed raw talent, but like ore, it needed to be refined if they ever wished to survive this hell and live long enough to enjoy the spoils of victory. The wine, the women, the renown; all things men craved, but, they were hard to cherish when you were six feet under the muddy earth. Or worse.

“Welcome, welcome. Take a seat, my dear fellows,” he beckoned them forward with a wave of his hand.

As the group filed in, Alderic, fascinated by the Dyrman of very few words, Dakyr, said, "You, there. Dyrman."

Daykr lowered his head as he approached. Solemnly he answered, "Milord?"

"What is your title?" He questioned, with his hands clasped in front of him, respectfully. "It is the tradition of your folk to bestow titles upon one another, is it not?"

Lifting his large axe upon his shoulder, the Dyrman puffed out his chest in pride. "The Black Boar, milord."

The Prince let his head drift forward into a nod, tipping his hat ever so slightly by the trim, "I hope you can swing that axe as well as you talk, son of Dyrmor. Take a seat; ale will be served."

At the mention of spirits, Daykr perked up noticeably. With a subtle bow, he settled onto a stone bench with a sigh of relief, putting his axe aside in favor of the ornate stein that hung upon his hip, waiting expectantly and studying the rest of the party from within the confines of his mask.

A server from the hostel, an elderly woman of Bite’tour with a wrinkled face and youthful eyes, shuffled into eye’s view, carrying a jug of honey mead.

Meanwhile, Gollome scanned the garden from his moss-covered boulder before resting his violet gaze on the young Thyrsian woman standing in the archway to garden. He sat there, not breaking his locked look with hers, before finally standing and nudging Alderic on the shoulder.

"The girl." he grunted, pointing quickly with two straight fingers – guiding Alderic's eyes to her.

The Thyrsian woman stood in the archway idly, her head covered in a mass of dark locks, offset by the crimson eyes of her people. She looked contemplative, and strangely familiar.

“Lady Kyra,” he called her name, “Come on, then. I don’t bite – usually. The meeting is nigh.” He waited for her and the rest to take their positions.

“As I said before, welcome, everyone. Welcome to your new source of coin – your new source of glory – and, of course, your new source of brotherhood. Welcome, I say, to the Black Company.”

The Prince, after a brief pause, continued, “Now, I’m not one for speeches; actions speak louder than words, aye? However, if you are to be a part of this band, this army, you need to be aware of one, crucial fact: I will not tolerate disloyalty.”

“You will be loyal to me, your commander, as well as the man or woman standing next to you in the battle-line. We, like an army, are a unit. And a unit cannot function unless all members perform their duty efficiently and adequately. If one of you falters, we all falter,” he said. “So,” he turned to face the quarrelsome duo, Vinaqa and Azher, jabbing a pointed talon of metal their way, “forget your past. Forget where you came from; forget your creed, your allegiances, your biases and assumptions.”

His voice reached a low, oddly menacing growl, “They have no place in this Company, and if they don’t end your life out there in the killing fields, then I surely will. If you cannot trust the comrade sitting next to you right now, then you sure as hell cannot trust him when push comes to shove, when sword meets axe.”

“Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘why did I join this merry band of sell-swords when they’re preaching nearly as much as the Imperial army?’” Questioned Alderic, rhetorically. “Tell me, is anyone aware of the difference between us lot and those poor sods marching to their deaths near Matroyash; what about you, Pousa?”

"Here I fight in the grass; before, I fought on the wall. Here I purchase my future; before, I languished, shooting the Schiedan," Mayryan's answer was like that of a tolling little bell, back and forth and all true, though only for him. He did fight upon the wall, he did shoot the Schiedan, and all that was behind him and for only him. To his knowledge, no other Matroyans of the Wall were of the Company, though that might be untrue.

"A fair attempt, but, it grazes the bigger picture, nonetheless." Building in tempo, his voice spoke, "No, unlike them, we will be victorious. Our victory will be swift. It will be glorious. And, better yet, it will make us filthy fucking rich." He said those words with an audible smile.

“You have rather large boots to fill, ladies and gentlemen. If you want to join the ranks of those who call themselves legend in the annals of history, if you want to become wealthy, like the fat noblemen of the north; then fight with me, and bloody Gollome, here. Do not disappoint us by saying no. Or croaking on the first day.”

Removing his great-sword from the ground and slinging it across his back, he commanded, “Now, fly, gather your equipment, and quickly. We leave for the rendezvous with representatives of the Duchess in ten minutes, no more, no less.”
The Nameless Wayfarer: I write, I drink tea... and that's about it, actually.

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Yuzhou
Diplomat
 
Posts: 964
Founded: Jul 23, 2014
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Yuzhou » Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:50 am

"Gollome..."
Mother calling.
He ran through ancient alleys and cool streets, around and through the intricate jigzaw of old cobblehouses, Rodiro following not far behind.
Across from his house.
"Gollome..."
They played along the wall of green leaves beside the dried creekbed in the meadows outside Ladeux. Home. Sunlight pierced the sleepy clouds and then did the same to the tree branches.
"Gollome is the knight."
"I'm the knight."
He agreed.
"Gollome...
Mother Calling.

She looked at him with those deep-blue eyes, blonde ponytail sitting on her shoulder. Her oval face and rounded features suddenly split into a wide smile. Beautiful..
She laughed. He laughed.
They both laughed forever.
A smirk soon did the same to his own expression, eyebrows lowering. He stood and motioned for her to follow. She did.
He took her towards someplace different, someplace hidden. There a window, a fire, a bed.
She saw, smile dying quickly on her face and then she turned away from him, heading back far from whence they came.
Why did she turn? A thousand eyes watched him, people all around. They knew. They saw her turn. Panic, disappointment, pain.
Why did she turn?
"Gollome..."
Mother calling.

It wasn't real. It's not real.
Real, not real.
Real.

Gollome awoke.


Gollome Farelle
Bite'Tour


Gollome took his seat on a large stone after being chastised by his commander for provoking Azher. Or, one could say, after Azher provoked him with his blatant display of fear from a little Seinese girl.
Farelle took such things with stride, if only because they came from Alderic. If the Black Prince told him to slay each and everyone of these recruits, he'd do it, but he would at least question the purpose later. It was the same shrewdness to question that allowed him to see why it was more important to stop fighting the young man than it was to further protect any semblance of pride. Cohesion was important.

Still, Alderic had used his 'charm' once again and Gollome had fell for it like a maiden to a knight. What it was, the old Tourman did not know. But it was that charm, that magical aura, that convinced him to follow the Prince many moons ago. Now here he was, in a dead garden next to a beaten hostel in a city he practically swore to never return to, backing down from fighting a much younger and inexperienced opponent all because a man who was not all that much older than said boy scolded him into submission.

He watched the Seinese illusionist ply her trade and then Azher try his betting. The Prince surprisingly took it on for that dagger of his, and to the Biter's astonishment, lost the dagger in that very same bet. Boy can shoot, he thought watching as the Anderian motioned to collect his prize. To the third disarming of Farelle in that moment—a fact he utterly despised—the boy called Azher waved off the dagger, leaving it in the possession of Alderic.
good, Gollome thought. I'd have just taken it back one way or another. The Prince has an affinity for his blades.

It said something about the boy that he gave the dagger back, though. In Farelle's eyes, he should have taken what he had earned. Not doing so was foolhardy, dangerous even. Yet at the same time, the way Azher had acted to Gollome's provocations said something as well. That maybe, he wasn't going to just roll over.
The Tourman would like to think his provocations were a harkening back to his days as a lawman, when he tested boys in much the same way. Kids on both sides of the line at that. But in reality, it was probably just Farelle letting himself get the better of, well...himself. Either way, he'd make sure to temper his opinions next time. Especially considering he was about to be apart f a deal with the devil herself—the Red Lady.

Gollome watched as the other recruits streamed in, taking note of each one and musing through his head back to the time not so long ago when he had recruited each. They were a misshapen bunch, ragged and unfitting, like a cloak of many colors. Hopefully, with time, that very same cloak will be painted a united black. For now, he'd be content to watch the Prince review them and wait to see who's blood will stain the streets come dawn.
That was until he spotted the girl in the archway.

The Thyrsian by the name of Kyra, he recalled. Interesting woman, but about as buried inside as they came. Her reluctance to enter told him all he needed to know, and when he met his eyes to hers, he held them there for a long time—thinking, studying, watching.
He knew from that look he so carefully consumed that she was one to hide her feelings well. Perhaps, even one who's purpose in this world lay so deep it was hard for her to find it.
Gollome knew all too well what it was like to be that way. We may share something in common after all, Thyrsian. he told himself as he stood to bring her attention to Alderic.

It was but a few moments after that the Prince started his rousing announcement and speech.
Gollome listened intently, having heard similar things in the past regarding the importance of unity, the glory that supposedly lay ahead, and the need for disregarding past allegiances.
Though, that particular point about the past hit him a little wearily. You say we need to forget our pasts. Yet you brought me here, you buggered bastard. he noted to himself as his eyes set even more deeply on the Prince.

Once the speech was finished, he stood and started back towards the rooms to gather what few things were left inside.
"If you aren't cut for it, best pay up now." he shouted to no one in particular. "If you run, I'll have to find you, and you'll be all too lucky if I only take back your signing bonus plus interest!"

Making his way to the front of the crowd, he stopped and blocked the archway before anyone could pass.
"And if you think I won't find you." he scanned the company harshly with a lavender gaze. "I will."

Point made, he moved up into the hostel and gathered what items remained.
I have been previously known as Apfeldonia and Thimbyrland

Oh way down south in the land of cotton...

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The Nameless Wayfarer
Envoy
 
Posts: 284
Founded: Oct 26, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Nameless Wayfarer » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:39 am

Co-written with: Ormata, Skaldia

And with that, they were to go off and meet the Duchess. Vinaqa had little idea on what sort of woman the Duchess was, what kind of fiend would make attempt to control a city as wayward and criminal as this, but she had the feeling the woman would be as ruthless as most other rulers. It was far more likely that she would be more ruthless, but...probably not wantonly cruel. That would earn her enemies she did not want to fight. That made the assumption she wasn’t arrogant, though. Too many assumptions, there, that Vinaqa decided to simply not start making them.

She got up from her seat, raven briefly fluttering in the wind to get up upon her shoulder, before leaning-in to the creature. She had a pack to get and of course mother wanted to talk. From instinct, and from the topic of the conversation, her eyes naturally wandered over to Azher. Mayryan, meanwhile, had gotten-up, told his dog to stay, before striding for the door, pausing momentarily to note the girl’s things on her mind.

“I’ll get your pack,” he said; he would know. They’d taken the same room, of the hostel, something mainly of Vinaqa’s decision by the man’s age and professionalism. He did not talk much to her, merely scratching-away at his big book, and he found her nature agreeable as well. She did not talk much, nor brought any of the ‘workers’ to the room for some entertainment. A mutually beneficial thing, as it were. She nodding back, and off the Matroyan went.
With the wager won and lost in but a moment, a decision now beginning to stir regretful feelings, Azher once more returned to his perch, a little closer than Vinaqa than previously, but not unduly so. He wasn't afraid of her, nor entirely comfortable in her presence. He had had little interaction with those with a link to the Tether and the times he had were enough to make him want to retire from the sharp side of life. He had no way of fighting against those who were Magi, and being vulnerable was something that terrified him more than Vinaqa's finger dance.

With his seat resumed he noticed the new arrivals, allowing his eye to drift to each one briefly before moving to the next one. He was as surprised as he could be to see a Dyrman and a Guryshani join the would be murder of crows. The other woman was also a sight for sore eyes, and he allowed his eye to appraise her a moment longer than he had with the others.

His attention was pulled back to those immediately before him with the mention of ale to see the elderly Biter make her way over to the group. With a scowl, he took the proffered mug and a pour from the woman before downing off the drink in one go, suddenly very thirty. With his thirst quenched and having relaxed somewhat as the Prince idly chatted with the new arrivals, Azher looked over to Vinaqa and quietly cleared his throat to speak. Before he could, however, the Prince launched into a speech that wasn't a speech.
He felt particularly shamed when he and Vinaqa were pointed out, especially with the train of his thoughts, but he kept his face neutral as he listened, taking a mild sip of what remained in his mug. The deadly quiet threat from the Prince made him forget his ale and lock eyes with the Prince, his stare one almost of challenge. When Pousa spoke, Azher was struck by the simple truth in his words and raised his mug in brief salute to the man before turning his attention back to the Prince.

When the Prince stood, Azher did so too, draining the rest of his mug and letting it hang limp from his fingers afterward. With the Prince finished, Gollome puckered up and vomited his own threat, making Azher scowl and roll his eyes in response, looking over to where Vinaqa and Maryran had moved.

With the group clearing out, Azher raised a hand to Vinaqa to forestall her departure and quickly muttered,"Apologies, Lady Vinaqa. My earlier comments were derogatory and unnecessary."

Vinaqa's brows went-up appreciatively, before the raven caw'ed again. Nodding at it, as though one would towards sage advice, the Seinese's mouth curved up in a slight smile. Though the man clearly did not want to have any sort of conversation, he did want to make something gone be truly gone. Her body language turned a bit more calm and casual, shoulders coming back down from their previously tense state and head just a bit cocked to the side.

"You are forgiven. My mother says you are...well, how shall I put it. She finds you to be a strange person. Wants to talk a bit more, as it were. You know how things are."

Bowing his head in appreciation to her comment, Azher was bewildered by Vinaqa's habit of referring to the bird as her mother, but chalked it up to Magi insanity. He recognized her comfort level rise and took a step back, glancing over to where the Prince had retreated and suddenly had the impulse to get the wager back on for the dagger. Looking back at Vinaqa, he nodded his head and gave her a small smile,"Thank you for your words. I imagine we will have quite a bit of time to continue this talk. Now, if you will excuse me." With that, he broke eye contact and hurriedly made his way over to the Prince.

As the crowd of would-be crows dispersed in a noise of whispers and murmurs, the Black Prince observed each and every one of them with his mouth shut and his eyes wandering, idly. He tugged at the straps belonging to the leather sheathe slung around his back, tightening them both until they were fully taut, and closed them with a brass buckle. We cannot forget ‘ole reliable, now, can we? he remarked to himself about his trusty yet worn great-sword. He joined the black cavalcade of mercenaries and sell-swords under his command; sidling up to the front of those who had already gathered their things, like a king raven leading his forsaken flock, Alderic slowed his pace. Listening to that intriguing and very cocky fellow, Azher, attempt to make amends with the woman he argued with prior, Vinaqa, he couldn’t help but let loose a sly grin.

When the rather skilled marksman approached, the Prince gave him a nod of acknowledgement, “Azher.”

With Vinaqa left behind him, Azher visibly relaxed, sauntering over to where the Prince was adjusting the buckle of his leather. Nodding back to the Commander, Azher grinned."Sir. About the Reps." Leaning conspiratorially closer, he muttered,"Anything about who they are?" Moving to the side of the Commander, Azher kept talking,"Who she sends to talk with will tell us a lot on what her plans might be."

The Prince, his footfalls sloshing in the puddles along the way in a firm cadence, replied, "If you're expecting a plethora of information from the Duchess' emissaries, Sir Azher, then you should best dispel those thoughts right here and now." He let out a soft chuckle, and continued, "I will tell you what I know: there will be two men, both natives of Bite'tour - however, do not think we have an edge in numbers, because the establishment they've dispatched us to is firmly under their collective thumb. I digress. The first man is Lucian, the Red Lady's head middle-man; a lanky fellow with a silver-tongue, you best keep a tight watch on him. The other man, a thug with delusions of grandeur and knighthood, goes by the nickname of Carver. A titan among men, so they say. He's the muscle of the operation. As for where we're meeting, exactly? I have nothing save for the address, so, keep your wits about you, aye?"
The Nameless Wayfarer: I write, I drink tea... and that's about it, actually.

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Ormata
Senator
 
Posts: 4221
Founded: Jun 30, 2016
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Ormata » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:41 am

Co-Written with Kwadai

Vinaqa bowed her head slightly back, closing her eyes as she leaned-in to listen to the raven speak again. The comment was obviously funny, her face breaking-out into a little smile and a brief little laugh coming-out once more. The Seinese whispered something back to the bird, and it cawed back as well.

Vasu had little in the way of material to gather for their mission, save his dagger. He had always believed too much extras were nothing more than recipe for disaster, failure as it were. Silently he turned his head to the pair standing barely metres from him observing them with a peculiar interest. He reached slowly to his head, pulling the scarf off to reveal his black Guryshani hair and to properly expose his face. As the two finished their brief conversation and Azher departed the scene making his way to the Prince , Vasu stepped out and walked over to Vinaqa. "Well...what can I say?", he started, looking directly at the young woman in front of him, all the while being aware of the nearby raven's almost piercing stare. "I would be lying if I said I expected our paths to cross again so soon, especially not here", he continued, speaking with a relatively neutral edge to his voice. Vasu had never been the type to dwell on the possibility of owning slaves, his family on the other hand were a different story, driven by their own insatiable greed. Whether Vinaqa's resentment extended to him, was a fact still unknown.

Vinaqa paused, eyes narrowing on him as she tried to place his face. He looked...familiar, somehow, but where, where, wh...her eyes lit-up with understanding. If you removed a few lines on his face, he looked...very similar to a man back in Guryshan, on a birthday of her master's, then. They were...related, she could recall. Pathes crossing...of course, that would explain much. He was a part of that family, that family that threatened murder at times or enslavement at others after she had been freed. Of course.

"I did not expect to see you here, either," she said, notably slower than normally.

Vasu smirked ever so slightly "She remembers. Them at least", he thought. His face turned expressionless again after her answer. "You seem uneasy", he responded to her dragged out sentence. He was certain this girl was strong. It would take determination and an equally large amount of skill to escape from the situation she had been in, and still be able to get by in Bite'tour. His expression eased slightly. "You don't trust me?"

Swallowing, she nodded briefly, ever so little as to not dislodge her bird from her shoulder. "I do not trust many. You should know why." Vinaqa couldn't recall him ever talking to her why she was...employed. Those days weren't ones she regularly thought of as slavery; the old man had been too kind for such a word, though there were times that she could still feel. Punishment was handed-out heavily enough that it rarely needed to be applied more than once, though only out of the old man's sight.

"I'm aware of that. Trust is hard to come by. Even harder to earn", Vasu told her "You're probably wondering what I'm doing here, why only now I decided to talk to you or why I didn't then?", he asked, though not actually intending it as a question. "I couldn't tell you for sure myself. We had nothing in common then, now we do. In one way or another". She was right to be wary, he wouldn't rush to trust himself had he been in her position.

A little chuckle came from her; she could find his reasons to be fair, though then? Then it would have been a bit nicer to have a friend, or at least someone to talk to. Red hair meant you weren't really one of them, in that far-off place where black hair and dark skin ruled, and such things would have...yeah. The old man was kind, but he was also an old man and master. Vinaqa could not call him friend, whatever kindness he bore. "True, true. Why are you here?"

Expecting that question, Vasu paused briefly before replying to her. "I can't say it's because I hated Guryshan because that's not true, why would I leave somewhere as beautiful as that to come here?", he laughed gently kicking the ground. "Nobody 'just turns up here' do they?", he added but immediately regretting his first statement remembering Vinaqa's experiences with his home country were anything but beautiful. "As for the real answer, I think I wanted something new, something different...and that I got". He sighed a little knowing his search for normalcy did the exact opposite. "Where did you go? After you left Guryshan?"

"Sein. You can guess the welcome I got there." Her voice was easily bitter, being able to be heard by the deaf. The raven beside her started to nuzzle, as it were, head leaning against hers. One of Vinaqa's hands moved-up, passing over the black feathers gently enough. "Was the only port I could go. I didn't stay long."

Vasu nodded, he knew these memories were painful for her. As the bird on Vinaqa's shoulder leant in to rest its head with hers he became somewhat distracted from her final words. His curiosity was starting to get the better of him. "Your raven. It's a special bird isn't it", he stated looking closely at its glossy black plumage, beak and small eyes.

"Yes, my mother is a unique individual," came Vinaqa's reply, nodding having become more like a gentle sway forwards. One corner of her mouth turned upways, hand still passing over the bird.

"Your mother...", Vasu initially began to say, but seconds later trailed off. Some things, were perhaps better left unsaid. Unusual, captivating bird aside (or as aside as one's mind could place a bird like that anyway), Vasu was glad he started talking to this girl, even if he too wasn't one hundred percent sure in the trust department either. That would come. "Are you ready for our mission?"

"Yes," came a firmer reply from her. "Though whatever it may be, I am...not so sure." The Red Lady was...well, in Vinaqa's mind, was the sort of person who could develop and create quite bad scenarios if she screwed-up too poorly and...well, they were mercenaries. They were expendable, in capital letters and bold underlines. If she wished to hire them, then whatever job it would be would not be particularly pleasant.

Despite the two separate thought processes, Vasu shared a similar outlook to the situation as Vinaqa. He too was not expecting that whatever task they would be undertaking was one for the faint hearted. "I'm as ready as I think I can be. There's not much we can do now but wait.”

"I disagree," came her reply, and a brief roll of her shoulders dislodged the bird there, the raven flying-away and disappearing into the sky, silent as death. Vinaqa leaned downwards, hand tracing the dirt and soil in a brief pattern as she picked-up a handful of the fine stuff, straightening back upwards as she threw it into the air, a little gesture. The dust hung there, caught by a gust of hair, and one hand held it up there, capturing the little pieces in their places.

Vinaqa's body was still, her breath deep and eyes fixated upon the dust, before one hand moved, as though stroking the air as though one might do to the cheek of a lover, a gentle and light thing, her thin fingers illuminated by the light between and seeing nearly to disappear there.

And then they could hear them, the armor rustling and feet patting the ground, as though there were others about them. Mutterings could be heard as well, low things that meant little to anyone who focused upon them, the shapes becoming real, slowly, laboriously. The people starting to be seen, grim men with crowls about their faces and scuffed armor, the kind who could pass as a veteran army coming from the front.

And then the dust dropped to the ground, forgotten, and Vinaqa's face was one of a little delight.

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Sarejo
Minister
 
Posts: 3143
Founded: Sep 01, 2014
Father Knows Best State

Postby Sarejo » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:52 pm

"Veleraco set... what again?" asked the very heavily intoxicated, and also very beautiful, blonde under the arm of Velasco, who was being held up by leaning on him alone.

Letting out a hearty laugh, Velasco repeated himself for the fifth time, "I am Sir Velasco sen Hidalgo, son of Dominico sen Hidalgo III. You may call me Velasco, though."

The girl laughed again, and Velasco suggested that they leave, and she agreed. Once back in the tavern's backrooms, they got about halfway through their fun, when a gruff man appeared in the doorway.

"Velasco," the man barked, and Velasco immediately stopped and stood up, his pants still around his ankles. The old sergeant wore a rough beard and an even rougher set of clothes. The blonde, embarrassed, hurried out of the room. The sergeant looked Velasco over, and with a sigh, shook his head. "You will never change, will you?" he said, and Velasco's mouth grew into a grin, before shaking his head. "No Diego, I am afraid I will not," Velasco said, his voice surprisingly even despite his level of drunkeness.

"Well regardless, the Black Prince wants you back at the camp, immediately," Diego said, "and uhh... Put your clothes back on. You look like a fucking pig," he said in jest, before walking away.

With that, Velasco nodded, pulled up his pants, and left for the company's camp, finding a messenger that sent him off in the direction of a courtyard garden in order to meet with their client, and so he headed off in that direction, finding the rest of the company out there.

Not wanting to suffer ridicule for his lateness, he slipped in unnoticed and unassuming, watching on from the edge.

One of the mercenaries, who's name he remembered to be Vinaqa, and also a magi, started summoning a small army of illusions, raising Velasco's eyebrows. More than a little impressed, he began to clap at the spectacle, while everyone else muttered under their breath. He'd not seen a true illusion in a very long time, but he held no predjudices against magi, even having slept with a few at one time or another. When she finished, he clapped even louder, and shouted, "Bravo, Miss Vinaqa, bravo!"
Last edited by Sarejo on Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cheers mates.

Bouncer at The Pub | T͢hę ̀E̶̛m̨pę͜ŕ̨or̀͜ h͜͝a͏s ͢Á̕ẃ̨͡ò͟k̀͜͞e͢ń | I am in the process of writing a small book. I hope you enjoy. | The infamous Duke of Autumn
To be Updated
I am a Catholic Democrat. Now that you've picked your jaw up off of the floor, carry on.

I am also a seasoned OP and Co-OP, and can help with worldbuilding, just TG me.
New Grestin wrote:Like I said, Bei's posting is really eclectic right now, which I'm assuming is school and/or work related. Or he's hiding a body. I dunno.

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The Nameless Wayfarer
Envoy
 
Posts: 284
Founded: Oct 26, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Nameless Wayfarer » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:07 pm

The bellowing cheers and applause coming from the Seinese swordsman of the Company, Velasco sen Hidalgo, astonished Alderic, plainly speaking. The man was overtly enthusiastic for someone so drenched in his bloody past; he was either playing the fool, or he was a troubled man trying to fool his own heart. "You've never seen a Magi, have you, Sir Velasco?"

Velasco turned to Alderic, and smiled his warm grin at the man. "Far from the truth, my dear Prince. I have seen many Magi, if not for a long while, however I, unlike many others, choose to embrace their powers rather than fear them. Why, you ask? Let me just say that a Magi being comfortable around you is a much more preferable option that one that feels they need to watch their back every time you're around. Also, between you and me," he said, with a wink, "Magi are one fun bunch when the door is locked."

The Prince cocked his masked head at Velasco; the mustachioed man from the City of Bells, his heart filled with bravado and seemingly, a good sense of humor, was an oddity in this merry band of misfits. The lord-commander had to admit, the bastard could spin a clever yarn. Alderic let out a laugh, as soft as a gentle gust of wind, "I am obliged to agree with you, there, my dear fellow." He gently nudged in Velasco's direction, "Otherwise, I'd be a liar, wouldn't I? And heavens, I dislike liars; almost fatally." His words were marked with a joyous melody; dark humor wasn't just a pastime, it was a lifestyle.

Velasco gave a sly smile, and a small nod to the Prince. "I am nothing if not painfully honest, often to the point that people are annoyed by me, heavens forbid," Velasco said with a hearty laugh. The wizened knight presented a jovial and carefree appearance, but inside he took in all of his surrounding carefully, and was constantly making various observations and mental notations. The outer facade was both partly real, as Velasco had become a more cheerful person to cope with his dark past, but also a tactical ploy, where any prospective enemy might underestimate him and think him the fool, only to be sorely mistaken. But throwing off comrades is a fun trick too, Velasco thought smugly.

Alderic let his metal fingers wrap around the tip of his black leather cap, with a smirk all the while. I know your ilk, Velasco sen Hidalgo; what a grand time we will have when your true colors bleed through. He yanked it down and covered his face from the deluge of rain, which plummeted from the sky and down to the earth like a poorly coordinated barrage of arrows. His voice trickled through his mask like an ominous wave of fog, "Honesty, even if in its most crude form, proves to be a much better alternative when compared to trickery and false promises." He outstretched his gauntleted hand and grasped the man's shoulder, soldierly, "And, please, keep an eye on your coin purse along the way, aye?"

Vinaqa blushed, ever so little, by the man's compliment. It was, to be honest, a rare thing to be complimented for her work. It was far more often that she would be derided for it, yelled as a witch, and other far more unsavory forms of appreciation demonstrated by those about her. The villagers might look at her with some little bit of scared anger, hatred towards her craft and ilk easily seen yet afraid to do much for fear of reprisal. Others would not be so scared. Others, even, had the support of their own lords and ladies, bastards as they were. It was a rare thing to be complimented, and the small blush came unbidden.

Yet then she reminded herself of who this man was. Seinese, that was what he was, the same kind who were upon the streets when she wallowed in shit-encrusted hay, the same kind who might have purchased a whore at the establishment with only the care for the sheath and for little else. This man was a Seinese, the same kind who bore little love for the slave and far more love for the self. The blush was banished, and all that remained for an acknowledgement of the compliment was a little bow of the head.

Velasco nodded, and for a rare second his smile dropped into a grimace. The bond of soldiering always overrode his normal demeanor, if only for a moment. "I'm quicker with a pistol than most thieves are with a knife," he said, his cheerful self returning. He then noticed the young Seinese girl blush, but also saw her face darken at his sight, and knew why. Magi were not well respected where he came from, and the girl held the manner of a former slave, one who had faced a lifetime of abuse and hatred. He also knew that in Sein, his ancient home, slaves were worse than pigs, and treated as such. He understood her plight, and though she did not know it, they both were exiles from their own home, and so he flashed her a light smile in an attempt to begin building a bridge for the future.

Alderic's eyes, brimming a frosty blue, drifted to the other Seinese member of the Company and its resident Magi: Vinaqa sen Patil, a master of illusion, and a young one at that. She always seemed to be deep in thought; Alderic often observed that she was like a rickety ship in a storm of troubled thoughts. Her demeanor shifted like the ocean tide, torn in a constant push and pull between a lust for the here and now, and longing for what might have been. It was a feeling that the Prince too experienced, day in, and day out. He watched as the black mass of Vinaqa's conjured shadow-men marched onward with the group, like a murder of crows journeying to a grand feast of carrion and the recently slain. He saw a familiar face in the blur - so familiar that he almost reached out to touch it. His throat growing tight, Alderic's path converged with that of the sorceress, "A clever ploy, that."

"Thank you, Lord," came Vinaqa's reply, bowing her head again. He looked as though he had seen a ghost and...well, he just might have. Illusionary magic of this sort was really rather difficult to do when designing every single face in the Company, every single jaw and lash, and her method bypased this a little bit. The Cairn were still in the air, after all, and their presence affected the illusions in such methods. Doubtless one of them looked like a familiar face to one such as Alderic. That must have been a rude reminder; Vinaqa nearly regretted it.

She heard a voice, just behind her ear, a little whisper that tickled the small hairs there and made them stand on-end, and the Magi turned half about. She saw no-one there. Another shade, then, Vinaqa decided, another poor bastard who died in this city. Pity to them, that. She'd heard several, though few had the strength to reach-out and touch her, whisper to her, talk to her.

Out of the hostel came the other, Mayryan, carrying his pack on one shoulder, spear behind him along with his rifle, and her pack in his other hand, clutching it by the strap. The man could have been likened towards a pack mule, though he would not have taken kindly to such an inference. He paused, looking-out at the illusions before surmising the source of them, striding-down the steps and handing the pack off to Vinaqa.

"Good job," came his own compliment, before snapping his finger at his side. His own dog bounded-up from where it stood, quiet as could be, there, and was as quiet as the grave. Vinaqa took her own pack, over both shoulders, nodding-away her thanks and giving another smile.

"I will admit, Vinaqa," he let out a sigh, shaking off his demons, in an almost literal fashion, "I had my doubts about you; quite a few, actually. Needless to say, I'm pleasantly surprised by your prowess." Alderic's nomadic gaze set its sights on the murky heavens that lay above them. He said, almost wistfully, "I've met a soul like yours, in days past." The Prince's idle stare hinted that he was knee-deep in thought.

Of course he had his doubts, she thought to herself, of course he would. She was damn young, the rest weren't, and she was being taken-on in a role that was...well, a role where experience was necessary to do it well. Vinaqa bowed her head again, though her curiosity was piqued by his own statement. A soul like yours...a strange statement, to be sure, and the idea was just a bit concerning. To her knowledge, everyone in the Company before had died and that parallel line hit just a bit close to home. Perhaps he knew someone like her who was not of the Company, she thought, though that was just grasping at straws to try and rationalize her fears away. Yet, she had to ask. "Oh? And who would that be?" Perhaps she knew them. Perhaps she had heard them.

"A Magi, and a young woman, much like yourself; her name, you ask? Nako. At least," he let out a dry chuckle, almost painfully, "that's the name she told us," he said, trailing off, his words nosediving into the void. "She was very much like you, save, she was much younger, and perhaps even more determined to prove the world wrong." He let loose a sad smile. That's what a smile was, was it not? A frown, only reversed?

Vinaqa swallowed, nodding. Nako; what an odd name for someone to have. She didn't want to poke further. A younger person, though, that was ever so concerning, that the Company would take-on such kids, especially such kids who were Magi. The Cairn were bastards, in their own ways, and she disliked the notion of one being put in such a position. The Prince was sad, though, at her mention; there was more to it. Vinaqa dared not to press the issue.

"Keep up the good work," Alderic stated, deadpan, as he reclaimed his voice. The Black Prince marched on, accompanied by nothing but his dark cape flowing in the wind, and the silhouettes of comrades old and new at his back.
Last edited by The Nameless Wayfarer on Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The Nameless Wayfarer: I write, I drink tea... and that's about it, actually.

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Yuzhou
Diplomat
 
Posts: 964
Founded: Jul 23, 2014
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Yuzhou » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:27 pm

Company of the Raven
Bite'Tour



Co-Written with: Ormata, Tertuath Hath

Gollome stood at the head of the gathering procession, watching the front and back carefully for any unwanted attention. While the Black Prince socialized and others finished gathering their things, Gollome knew large groups of sellswords made people nervous—even honest ones. Nervous people meant all kinds of trouble for prospective mercenaries. Somewhat of a circle, in that regard.

As for the illusionary soldiers summoned around them by the young witch, Gollome hadn't quiet seen anything like it. He'd seen tether powers, but tended to keep his distance from those who exercised said powers solely out of self-preservation. They were a crafty lot.

When the Prince finally finished mingling with the soldiers behind him, he came and took his command at the head of the troop. With that, Gollome slid back next to the steppeman Konchak and his horse. "Hope you can use that saber, Katherian. We're going to need all the blade we can get where we're going."

The voice startled Konchak, whose thoughts had began to wander on whether or not he had forgotten to groom Lightning. It was Gollome. A sly smile slithered unto his face, while his right hand gently gripped the pommel. "Don'tya worry, I've had plenty o' practice with this fine beauty. She's thirsty for blood anyhow, I'm really looking forward to seeing her fly through a couple of men."

"It best fly fast, Steppeman, for she may need to take the blood of those enemies in front...and behind." Gollome said, looking bleakly at the faces of people who scurried past the mercenary group. "Do your people use sabers much? I've only skirted past Katherim."

"Bah!" Mayryan took the opportunity to butt-in. His views on the steppes and those who rode them was easily summised by the terms 'they need more armor', and his views on how to defeat such people were just as easily stated by 'trenches'. A good ditch screwed over enough cavalrymen, that was for sure. "It will be a fun thing to watch, then."

"We have a saying amongst my people: If a man cannot master the saber, the arrow, and the lance, how can he call himself a man?" The Matroyan, a man named Mayryan, butted-in, Konchak raising a thick eyebrow at the words that came from his mouth. "Oooh, it'll definitely be fun."

He snorted in response, a little smile on his face. Oh what a childish little challange that way to be sure, and of the many things that could be said that was the cutest. If a man cannot master a simple sword, an outdated twig, or a mildly larger twig, well, how can he call himself a man? Easily. "Clearly the square has not yet visited your land."

Both of his eyebrows arched in response, eyes narrowing, and a short snort followed. "It hasn't, for the men who practice it have not mustered the courage to enter my land."

"I wouldn't laugh, Pousa. Matroyans may be able to sit behind walls, but some of us have to move to fight." Gollome said blandly. "As for the saber. It's a true weapon, that one. Most of these louts wouldn't even know how to swing one, I don't think. My longsword has served me well, but it's old and has it's faults. The saber makes the fight much more enjoyable. At least, with the styles I know. Not sure how you Katherian use one. I notice mine is a bit more curved than yours, Blackhair."

"Every weapon has it's faults. That's how combat is won, Gollome," came Mayryan's reply, nodding. The saber was a far more active weapon, though, that was for sure; it just wanted to move in one's hand, to flow and fly and just simply go. That was definitely the truth, if it was a well-made one. It made sense that the Katherian didn't know the square, though; Matroyan mercenaries went where the money was and there was little coin to be made in the steppes compared to such violent climes as Bite'tour or Sein.

"Aye, it is. Better for chopping men into wee squares than mine, though I do love the versatility of my straighter blade. We Katherians do not shun the more curved swords, but our native styles definitely have a bias towards slightly straighter blades." Konchak listened to Mayryan, nodding as well, before answering "Tis true, every weapon does have its faults, I'll give you that." His left hand stroked Lightning's snout, the young steed closing his eyes lazily. Looking around, he caught the stares of a few curious Biters, creeping around the edges of squat shacks and crumbling homes, the rain falling indifferently on them. He smiled, choking back a laugh as he remembered a Biter he had known in a different merchant company. "Such a proud little man," he remembered," a shame what happened."

"You both best be ready to show only the strengths of your peoples gumption, or you'll share the ground in common." Gollome said, wiping the rain from his beard. He looked around at the mist-covered buildings, slowly shifting eyes from shadow to shadow. "You don't know this city like I know this city. We don't question our commander in this company, for he does what's best, but we're walking into a den of snakes and no fighting experience will help any of us when they choose to strike. Stay light on your feet and quick on your mind, you hear?"

"Aye, aye. Worry about yourself," Mayryan replied, though his head slightly turned upwards. He was glad he got that pouch, sealskin on the outside as it was, because if he had not then god damn his powder would be more useless than a lead ship. Nevertheless, he couldn't use his rifle in this weather...not that he would want to. Loading the bastard was a toil he would not have the time to take and besides, with this sort of weather, he couldn't see any targets at the sort of range he wanted. Pity. Spear it was, then. "Damn this rain, though, and damn this city," the Matroyan muttered.

"Aye sir," Konchak bellowed, nodding his head. Pots, pans, spices, and utensils jingled, a metallic symphony chirping from the saddle that he sat on, with a small stash of food dangling from the left side. Pulling his bow from its case, he looked it over, checking for any damage or decay. He was half tempted to unstring the thing, give the ancient arms a break in this gloomy weather, but he took Gollome's words to heart. This city was a den of snakes and wasps, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He'd keep the bow stringed.

"Besides Pousa," Gollome pointed to the Katherian. "Walls or not, this one can cook."

The Tourman walked forward and resumed his position behind the Prince.
I have been previously known as Apfeldonia and Thimbyrland

Oh way down south in the land of cotton...

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The Nameless Wayfarer
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Founded: Oct 26, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Nameless Wayfarer » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:40 pm

The sound of footfalls sloshing in the muddy streets of Bite’tour filled the ears of each and every bystander. Dark figures, cloaked in their own wet clothes and the shadows of the night, marched forward in an unsteady cadence; they were a murder of crows, melancholically soaring to an unknown destinatination, only spurred on by the possibility that a source of coin lay in wait. Yet behind that ragged line marched another, in-step as much as any machine could be, as clear a contrast as would a line of conscript militia marching before the cuirassiers and lancers came with their vaunted flags flying in the wind. Not one of them spoke a word, and the small crowds lining the nighttime street stood out of their way, wisely so. Some folk in the taller buildings leaned out from windows to watch the mercenaries pass by, the scattering of the vanguard before the lined walls of sword, shield and breastplate.

The Black Prince and company approached a tall set of wooden double-doors; they were attached to the only grandiose building in the neighborhood, which was, quite ironically, a whorehouse.

“A whorehouse?” Pousa muttered under his breath. He could recall such places back home, back in Matroyash, but such places were not for honest company and such places were not the kinds you visited with friends, especially not the kinds you would go to to see an employer. Those were places of sweat and depression, the places where young innocents went to, ‘become men,’ or young ladies went to try and ply a more carnal trade. They were not happy places. They were most definitely not the kind of establishment you went to talk to a Duchess.

“No, not a whorehouse, Mayryan: an upper-class whorehouse!” Noted Velasco, somewhat excitedly.

“Indeed,” said Alderic, plainly. “Welcome to the Duchess’ very own corner-club, ladies and gentlemen: the Villa Rouge. Keep a keen eye on your coffers and a hand on your sword.”

Vinaqa said nothing, merely staring at if as though from those doors would come the devil himself. She was not a fan of whorehouses nor of the kinds of people who ran them, for some of the most obvious reasons one would come to expect. The fact that the Duchess ran such a place only furthered the Seinese’s imagination on what kind of a woman she was. Likely debauched, uncaring, and ruthless, Vinaqa decided, and exactly the kind who would come into power with such despicable Tourmen. Her breath came slow and deep, her poise tense.

As the Villa Rouge’s doors drew closer by the second, the Prince bowed his head in Vinaqa’s general direction. He murmured, “Miss Patil, keep our, ‘comrades,’ busy, won’t you?” With a simple wave of his hand, he quietly gestured to the illusory soldiers.

She bows in response, distracted as she was by the building and by the potential of it all.

The establishment’s two guards, who were clad in linen clothes and boiled leather armor, along with feathered masquerade masks and caps, crossed their spears to block their passage. One of them, with a voice of a smoker, stated, “The corner-club is closed for a private event.”

The Prince held up a single metallically clawed finger to hint that he needed a moment. He fished through one of his many bandolier pouches, only to remove a small piece of parchment with an ornate purple stamp of approval on it, and handed it to the perplexed guardsman.

“Ah, I see. Right this way, milord.” They opened the doors in unison and a flood of light and sweet scents flooded the otherwise dreary city.

Vinaqa motioned with her hand absentmindedly, a brief little thing that looked as though her fingers were performing a butterfly impression, and the some twenty illusions tarried outside the club. About them was a second spell, however, enough to keep the Tourmen at bay with their japes and interest, the sort of thing that instilled a wariness in those watching and struck just enough fear to keep them away and keep them tense. Those illusions held little in the way of casual talk; they were more straight-backed then Matroyan mercenaries and as silent as the painted night.

As they entered, the members of the Black Company were confronted with a series of sights one could expect from a highbrow whorehouse; or, at least, what the Prince expected from one. Opulent décor, like chairs of red velvet cloth, silk curtains, and masterfully painted portraits filled the room. A giant chandelier – perhaps made of gold –hung in the middle of the main foyer and lit it up with moody illumination. The faces of the revelers were themselves not revealed by the soft light. They were covered in their own festive masks and sat in great armchairs with a drink in their hand and a woman – or a man, or both – in their lap, living like kings in a weird parody of the world that surrounded them.

“Sainted Stars,” muttered Mayryan to himself; he had spent little time in whorehouses to know what they looked like and this was not one of them, despite whatever the Seinnese said. Whorehouses smelled of sex and sweat and bastards wrestling with their purses to get-out just a little bit more coin for just a little bit more time. Whorehouses smelled of idle fools and idle women, waiting for easy marks and naive boys who thought such a thing would be an accomplishment. This held little of those trappings and smelled not at all of sex or sweat. Nor, for that matter, did it sound like such a place. It was at once a parody of opulence and opulence in itself. “I never did like princelings before. Not sure if I do now.”

“I recall a place like this,” was Vinaqa’s just as quiet response. She did recall a place like this, back home, back in Sein, back in a viper’s pit that she never did visit and never would want to but always would hear the stories of. The scented candles lingered just long enough on the girls and boys who returned to mix with the smells of shit, to give a little reminder that such things did exist, and some would tell of the silk about them. Far more would simply say nothing, and that silence spoke louder than any words or exclamations they could say. It said such places were cruel, that such places were of the kind that Vinaqa did not want to visit and was nearly glad for the encrusted hay because it never pretended to be anything else.

Mayryan returned such a revelation with a quiet harrumph. He doubted such a thing and did not entirely understand her meaning by knowing a place as this; the Matroyan doubted many of the Company had found the pleasures in such places, or at least did so willingly. He doubted many had even walked such halls as this.

The Prince turned around to face his group whilst removing his tricorne hat, letting dirty blonde locks fall around the fringes of his iron visage. He ordered, “All of you, hear me when I say this. You will not talk. You will not drink. And you most certainly,” he turned to the funny lad, Azher, when he said it, “will not whore. These men are not our friends, and to treat with them is as risky as drinking the water from the river that divides this wretched city in two.”

He concluded, “Gollome, Velasco, with me. The rest of you lot; look noble, look professional, and more importantly, look deadly.”



Vinaqa, the short and innocent-looking girl, decided that it’s best to try and not look deadly and embarrass herself. Instead, she took a great amount of effort in attempting to not notice the cavorting ladies and lads running-about the place, as though she were better than them, and instead feigned a great amount of interest in the golden chandelier that lay above, her mouth pursed as though she were in great contemplation over it all. In reality, she was just trying to ignore the fact that she was in a whorehouse and that the cavorting ladies and lads existed in the first place.

“Well, I daresay, this is a very unorthodox place to conduct business, milord,” Alderic stated, as a matter-of-factly. He said it with a veiled smirk.

A cavalcade of women, some topless, with perfectly sculpted breasts on full display, others wearing tight-fitting corsets that further accentuated them, sauntered by – probably heading to their next mark – the long wooden table where the group had met in a midnight rendezvous with representatives of the crown.

Vinaqa failed in her attempt.

“Since when has my mistress been one for orthodoxy, Sir Alderic?” Said Lucian, his tone blunt, yet honest, nonetheless.

The Prince retorted with a slight bow of the head, “Indeed, my dear Lucian. The most grand Duchess hardly has a penchant for standing on ceremony.”

“Why would she, with the likes of you, sell-sword?” Piped in the other Tourman, rather caustically, one might add. A heavily muscled and armored specimen of a man who stood to the right of the well-dressed and delicate Lucian, he went by the odd moniker of, “Carver.” The Prince was under the clever assumption that he didn’t earn such a nickname because of his skill with woodworking; although, if there was one certainty in life, it was to expect the unexpected.

The Black Prince cocked his head at the intimidating fellow.

Lucian, eager as ever to salvage the already tense business relations between the two parties, spoke once more, growling at his partner, “Excuse my compatriot, lord. Believe me: he is not prized for his tongue, but rather, his sword. And he’d do well to remember that.”

Carver grunted.

“Now, please, on to pressing matters. I assume you read the courier’s second letter?”

The Prince spoke, “Indeed, I did.”

“Then your assignment is clear to you and your,” he paused, “men?” He peered behind Alderic, eyeing his crew as they fidgeted amongst themselves during the ongoing matters of diplomacy, giving extra thought and attention to the two women, Vinaqa and Kyra, with prying eyes.

Vinaqa shot-back her own little gaze, eyes somewhat narrowing at the man, moving up and down him. They were still blood-red, still that pure shade of crimson, and she found his interest to be concerning. It was doubtless that he would be having poor thoughts of her and doubtless such thoughts involved both her being a woman and, of course, her eyes. The extra interest on both those parts was enough to make her put-up a facade of her very own.

“A house of nobility led by one of the Duchess’ rivals has seized the outlying town of Espier, turning its garrison and community against the crown; our mission is to eliminate them, with,” the Prince cleared his throat, “and I quote, ‘extreme prejudice.’”

“Correct,” said Lucian, taking a drag from his foreign-made cigar. “As such, their open defiance of the Duchess’ monarchy could very well incite further rebellion, even in the city itself. My mistress wants them to be made an example of, simply put.” He let out a puff of wispy smoke, “However, that is just a very productive consequence, nothing more: the real matter is that of missing tax money.”

“Of course it is,” muttered a disgruntled Gollome.

Ignoring the remark, Lucian continued, “As they have reneged on their fealty to her highness, the rogues have denied us their very substantial debt to the royal treasury. The Duchess wants that coin back in the hands of its rightful owner.” He smiled half-heartedly, flashing a single silver tooth, “Are there any questions?”

“I can’t say I have any that will be answered truthfully,” said the Prince.

“Terrific.” He clapped his hands together, and rubbing them idly, he said, “Now, the Duchess has prepared an amount of–“ but Lucian was cut-off mid sentence by a gruff and familiar voice.

“One hundred pieces,” said Gollome, his voice filled with bravado.

“Pardon?”

The old Tourman retorted, “You heard me.”

Lucian, raising an eyebrow and with a grimace betraying his cool demeanor, questioned, “Would the Prince like to interject?”

The Black Prince stood up out of his seat, “No, he would not. One hundred pieces of silver, or we walk out the very doors from whence we came.”

“You’ll be fighting rebellious serfs, Alderic. Hardly worthy of such a sum!”

“Then why did you hire men, ‘hardly worth,’ such a simple task?” Said the Prince, nonchalantly.

Rising out of his chair, Lucian jabbed a finger in the Prince’s direction, accusingly, and said, “You dare speak so highly of yourself? The Black Company isn’t what it used to be; we both know this. Everyone knows this –“

The Black Prince’s ominous voice roared through his iron mask, much to the surprise of everyone in the room, “Find your wits, princeling!”

Lucian’s mouth shut tighter than a castle gate amidst an impending siege.

“Have you all forgotten that your lady’s precious fortune was built upon the backs of my men, years ago? Is she prone to such forgetfulness often, Lucian; because, if so, tell her she can find another free company – one far less discreet than mine!”

Carver’s hand drifted to his sword’s hilt, which slept peacefully in its leather scabbard.

Gollome barked, “Stay your hand, if you wish to keep it, boy!”

The Prince lowered his volume, “Ninety pieces of silver. And do not mistake my flexibility for weakness, milord, but rather, a token of good friendship for old employers.”

Lucian growled, and eyed his guard. “Fine. Ninety pieces. As long as you promise to do this efficiently and quietly, per agreement.”

“You have my word.”

“Forty-five now. Forty-five when the assignment is completed and you come to collect,” said Lucian, now stone-faced with his humiliation.

“Deal,” the Black Prince said, and outstretched his hand for a cordial shake.

Lucian reluctantly met him halfway.

Beckoning for his men to follow him out of the corner-club and back to their dwelling, he turned his back on the conniving Lucian, and said with a smirk, “Oh, and we will need horses, of course. Rental; nothing more.”
Last edited by The Nameless Wayfarer on Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The Nameless Wayfarer: I write, I drink tea... and that's about it, actually.

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Corvus Metallum
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Posts: 12813
Founded: Sep 29, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Corvus Metallum » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:18 am

The rain came in a steady drizzle that morning, gently pelting the rooftops, trees and people that were outside. The city of Bite’tour was one the former slave had heard of only in passing when she was young; beyond its reputation as a cesspool, she had no knowledge of it until the time the Company had set foot inside its limits—city’s reputation, it seemed, did not go far enough in describing it. The grey walls and streets were lifeless, the streets filled with mud, slop, and sludge—the common folk were gaunt and frail, while the business owners seemed only to be in a marginally healthier state. For someone who had spent most of their adult life in the wilderness of the north, being in such a crowded environment made Synne Falk twitch. The rain rolled off of her furred hood and cloak as she stood quietly off to the side in the hostel’s garden, listening to the individual spiels of her newly-found company members; for her, it had only been a month or so since she had been formally admitted. She was a trapper by trade, a hunter of the utmost patience.

As the meeting went on, she said not a word—only listening while the company told of their skills, accomplishments, and vocations. She might have done the same, were it not for the meeting coming to a close; the march to the rendezvous had begun, and she wasn’t one to dawdle and chat. She grabbed her spear and pulled the tip out of the mud, brushing past the others with naught but an occasional ‘pardon’.

She was not entirely sure why she had joined the company—what it was she sought while in its ranks—but even the battlefield was better than being idle and subsistent. It was neither the camaraderie, nor the prospect of wealth the caused her to join the band of mercenaries; she could comfortably spend months at a time on her own, and the idea of becoming wealthy and idle as her former master had done was appalling. She was a long way from the woodlands of Nedeia, but she missed very little of its people or culture.

The company and its illusioned army marched through the streets of Bite’tour, through the mud and slop towards the point where they were scheduled to meet: a brothel, it seemed. The Black Prince explained that it was owned by the Duchess herself—the trapper assumed it was operated day-to-day by servants or family. That the establishment was run and owned by the ruling lady of the city-state brought a curl of contempt to her face underneath the shroud, but she made no comment on the matter as the company entered; for what it was worth, it would be better to keep such opinions in check.

Though she had no experience with brothels or whorehouses, the interior was unsurprising considering who owned the establishment; the velvet cushions on the chairs and pillows, the portraits and the paintings on the walls—all of it was opulent and lavish to the point of being absurd, in her opinion.

The rest of you lot: look noble, look professional, and more importantly, look deadly...

Those were the marching orders, it seemed; with most of her face covered in a shroud, the first two were taken care of quite handily—the last was handled with her spear, as the rest of her person was almost entirely hidden under her fur cloak.

Placid blue eyes scanned the room, but her attention was almost solely on the business proceedings going on. It appeared that the Black Prince and the Duchess had history together—the princeling, Lucian, seemed to know a bit about the past of the band—and the outburst from Alderic made it clear that he wanted to use that past as leverage. Following a reminder to the crown representative of who was carrying out the assignment, the price agreed upon was 90 silver and that the duchy would provide horses for the duration of the mission; not shabby, to say the least…..

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Ormata
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Ormata » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:25 pm

Co-Written with Corvus Metallum, The Nameless Wayfarer, Yuzhou

Vinaqa was not at all comfortable with the events, or with where they were. Granted there were certain assets on display, but those really only distracted one part of the brain, the part that saw certain things it liked and focused on them. They way flesh jiggled in a certain manner with the walk and gait of individuals, for instance, was very, very enticing to the young girl who truly felt interested by that flesh. The way it bulged-out from some leather straps, for instance, or the way it shined in the candlelight from sweat. Yet, that, for all the interesting things and loving ideas that popped into Vinaqa’s head, did not detract from where she was. She was in a whorehouse, nothing could change that.

It was only by which side of the bar she was that changed things.

Her gaze wandered, until it fell upon another member of the Company, another woman by the general shape of the body yet herself covered in a fur coat, a little mask of fabric covering her face. Vinaqa didn’t entirely know her name, though the woman clearly was of the sort who wasn’t accustomed to such vibrant or rich settings. The Prince came back out, though, before they could talk about anything interesting.

“Oh, and we will need horses, of course. Rental; nothing more.”


At least she knew how to ride, the thought came, and Vinaqa nodded, swallowing just a little bit as they left the whorehouse. Keeping near to the other girl, which was a small feat considering the differences in stride, and keeping her illusion army up to pace, she coughed-up to the lady. Wow, was she just a good deal taller.

“Enjoying yourself?”

"Hm?"

Synne looked to her side to see a younger woman with wild red hair at her shoulder; if she recalled from the meeting earlier, her name was Vinaqa--the illusionist. Truth be told, the trapper had little knowledge of anyone else in the Company; being a recent recruit, and her penchant for giving most others a cold shoulder, it was no surprise why. Realizing that the question had been addressed to her, she said, "Not particularly."

A moment of really fucking long silence followed, which was not at all fun for Vinaqa. Obviously this person disliked talking about...well, anything and the young Seinese moderately wanted to talk to her. She was damn tall and while the fur coat hid certain aspects it most certainly did not disguise any sway of the hips. She felt a blush rise up before violently suppressing it; you’re Black Company, dammit, she told herself, not a mewling kitten. Vinaqa decided to switch the topic to something a bit more ubiquitous, to a little card game that was damn everywhere. “So, d’you play Tonk?”

Behind the shroud that covered most of her face, Synne's features remained flat; she had always been the quiet sort, and spending close to a third of her life with minimal human interaction did little for her apparent lack of social skills. As they came outside of the Villa Rogue and into the rain, she pulled her hood over her head with her free hand. When the red-haired woman brought up the card game she recalled that she had seen people in the markets playing it, but she had never bothered asking them how to play--whenever she went, it had been with a singular purpose. "I've never learned," she admitted.

"Maybe I could teach you," Vinaqa ventured.

"I'll consider it," Synne replied flatly.

Why no she does not walk to talk, then, Vinaqa decided, nodding and pursing her lips at the fact that this person simply had no incentive to talk. Of course she didn’t, this was the Black Company and everyone seemed to have shit pasts, including the Company itself. Gollome was Gollome, for instance. She decided to prod that subject a bit more directly. “Where’re you from? Not here, I hope.”

The trapper's reasons for remaining tight-lipped were but her own; in large part, it was due to spending most of her formative years on her own or with only one other person for company; for her, there was very little to talk about--many days, she had went without uttering a single word. She had no reservations about recounting events in her past--life changing or otherwise--but generally those times were few and only in proper circumstance. "Nedeia," she replied, "And you?"

“Sein. I hear Nedeia is...Nedeia. Never did go there,” came Vinaqa’s response. She had the most hazy idea of what sort of place that was, though she could recall that they were ardent slavers of a more carnal kind, using a race for just their labor. Sure that happened in Sein, but there it was always of a more, as some said, ‘cultured’ type, which was by no means better or worse.

"Count yourself lucky," Synne replied.

The Black Prince walked - more or less sauntered, actually - through the very wooden doors from which he and the members of the Company had entered just several minutes prior, giving a mock curtsey to the masked guards as he went by, and said, for all to hear, "Farewell, lads." As he left the Villa Rouge, its aphrodisiac scents and aromas went with it, only to be replaced by Bite'tour's miasma of sickly whore's musk and sewage. In a fit of celebration, he removed his cap and threw it up in the air, only for it to land crookedly on Gollome's endearingly sour and balding head. He spun around, slowly, and walked backwards as he met eyes with the whole of the Black Company, both old, new, and illusory. With a shout, he declared, "Back to the hostel then, ladies and gentlemen; and, in honor of our first contract, the drinks are on me. Drink your fill," he paused to eye the young urchin of the group, Jean, wolfishly, "especially if you've never killed a man. You'll be needing it come dawn." He turned back and resumed his normal and spry gait, swinging his head toward Vinaqa and the stoic Nediean, who went by the name of Falk, if his memory remained intact; heavens above knew that his appetite hadn't after talking to that snake, Lucian. Alderic questioned her, with his eyes idly scanning the surrounding buildings, covered in the dark of night and the occasional flickering light of a street lamp, "Pardon, yet, I couldn't help but overhear. You're born of Nediea, you said?"

The Nedeian turned her attention to the voice that came from behind--of all people, it was The Black Prince who had addressed her. Truth be told, she had wondered who the man behind the mask was since the day she had first laid eyes on him; ironic, considering she let no one see her own face unless it was to make a point.

"Indeed," she replied, "What of it?"

Her words were laced with a natural ice, chilled like the forests of the north--unsympathetic and blunt, but not entirely hostile. That most would find her manner of speech off-putting mattered little to the trapper, so long as her points were made clear and concisely.

She's nearly as cold as Gollome; they're sure to get along, thought Alderic, with a minor smirk curling across his lips, hidden by an iron mask as stoic and as angular as the woman walking next to him. The Prince, was, nonetheless, intrigued by the iciness in her voice. It was quite amusing to the Company's commander that someone as dour as dear 'ole Sir Farelle had recruited some backwoods huntress just as sullen as he was - aye, he was blessed with two of the same breed. At this rate, he could order them off and away to stud and he'd have a whole litter of grim, foulmouthed, mercenaries at his disposal within the allotted time. "What of it?" He growled the question into the air, to no one in particular, it seemed. "It is not the, 'what,' of Nediea, but the, 'who,' my dear. Were you a slave to the lash, or a slave to the nobility? That, Miss Falk, is the only question worth my time."

Her eyes, being the only notable parts of her face that were visible, leered into the holes in Alderic's helmet--in part, she was irate from the small talk that had preceded his inquiry, but another part tried to gauge what it was the Prince was angling for. Nevertheless, a refusal to answer would have been taken as a mark of shame--one that would, perhaps, indicate the life of a house slave rather--and it was one she refused to live with. Facing away from Vinaqa, she lowered the shroud that covered her lower face: the brand on her cheek, prominent as it were, shared the attention of the viewer's gaze with her nose--or, what was left of it. "Where I started matters not," she said, "I believe the journey speaks for itself, commander."

With that, she covered her face once more and watched for a response.

Alderic took in her scars like a gentleman; a gasp of surprise, a gesture of pity, the Prince reckoned all of those would be met with the lady's chagrin. Universally, such things meant, "Wow, you look ghastly, woman! A poor soul, you are," and whatnot. Instead, he took an alternative approach: the commander simply ran a gloved hand through the locks of dirty blonde hair that were pulled back to the crown of his head, and retorted, "Aye, that they do." He kept walking. "We all have scars, Miss Falk. Suffering builds character; that's the old adage, isn't it?" The Black Prince marched ahead - soldierly and almost excitedly at the same time, in a true paradox of progress - whilst shoving his hands in the pockets of a dark trench coat. "You're a Company woman now, milady. You've got to wear your scars with pride in this line of work." He caught up with Gollome, who briskly walked back to the hostel, probably in search of the promised drink. Swinging his arm around the grim and wizened Tourman - which, now that Alderic thought about it, most likely seemed suicidal to the rest of the lot - and gingerly pulled his cap off of the man's head. He muttered, his words laced with mild concern, if anything, "Gollome, my friend, we need to talk; over a pint, preferably."

Farelle continued walking, despite Alderic's physical interruption. His eyes stared ahead and then slide over with a tilt to face the man who now had his arm firmly around Gollome's shoulder. "Agreed." he scoffed. "This'll be the last chance we have at that before the blood."

"Aye, don't sound so disappointed. If I didn't know you any better, I'd have you pegged as a pacifistic drunkard," he gibed, albeit, almost sullenly. The Prince's eyes watched as a flock of antsy rock doves flew overhead. He idly watched a poor straggler, probably one of their young, as it nearly dropped its hefty, "cargo," on one of Vinaqa's illusory soldiers. As far as Alderic was concerned, those lot, right there; they were the scourge of Bite'tour, not the aristocracy. At least you could have at a noble when he shat on you - metaphorically or otherwise - without looking like a mad man. Ever seen a man go at a pigeon with a bloody saber, in broad daylight? I thought not. He thought to himself, or rather, he thought to the shadow within him; she was always watching, always listening. At last, they reached the wooden door of the hostel, and the Black Prince slowly opened it with a creak. A few wayward souls sat in the common area, several men, and a few women, drinking and playing cards in quiet. His voice, regal as it was rough, broke that quiet. "Alba! Alba, my dear! Fetch the jugs of ale, won't you?" An elderly woman, weathered yet full of sophistication as far as Alderic was concerned, revealed herself through swinging doubles doors by the backroom. "Milord, I'm old, not deaf. 'Though the two tend to go hand 'n hand," she said, more to herself than the Prince. She groaned, "I'll be putting this on 'yer tab. Along with the blood stains, spilt by that 'un with the black hair," she pointed towards the Katherian, Konchak. Alderic, taken aback, couldn't help but smirk at Eskel's shenanigans as he replied, "Aye, yes, yes, milady. All will be taken care of. You have my thanks." His boots met the rickety floor below him as he approached an empty table in the corner. The commander reckoned it was even older than Alba, and in worse condition, at that. Alderic beckoned Gollome forth, "Sit."

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Yuzhou
Diplomat
 
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Founded: Jul 23, 2014
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Yuzhou » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:01 pm

The Black Company
Bite'Tour



Co-Written with: The Nameless Wayfarer, Sarejo
Continued from the post above.

Gollome eyed the dried splotches of discoloration on the wood. "Thats coming out of the Katherian's pay." he noted starkly. Following the Prince, he squeezed into a seat at the ancient and decrepit wood on command and brushed his great leopard cloak over his shoulder, armor turning to glint in the candlelight. He waited for his commander to sit before scanning the few remaining bodies left in the commons. "That bitch in the citadel.." he started, speaking softly though without a concern for who overheard. "never knew how to do good business. And now we're down a whole ten silver because you didn't want me to gut that fool Lucian and his deft looking friend."

The Tourman watched the dancing flame of the candle before him. "I followed you against my better judgement to this city, Alderic. If only because you'd lay dead in your own princely blood less than two minutes in if I didn't. I don't want to be here, and I don't want to work for the Red Lady, but it'll at least give me the chance to do what I do best--kill Biters."

His gaze turned from the candle and illuminated to that peculiar pink it did in certain light, focusing back on Alderic. "So, what are your thoughts, friend?"

"The employees that don't have a pot to piss in, killing their rather wealthy employer, Gollome? That's bad business; in fact, it's a foolish disregard for simple economics - that's what it is," the commander retorted with a voice chockfull of meaningless rhetoric and confusing syntax. "Regardless, I understand your sentiments about this," he threw his hands up and gestured to the less than sanitary vista that surround them, "cesspit, and, I thank you for throwing them to the wayside for the time being." He set his hands on the table, "I really mean that, my friend. I do." With that said, Alderic dove head first into the thought that had bit at his mind incessantly since sunrise, "This, Gollome, is our golden goose; aye, the goose may be disgustingly bloated and have a taste for high-class whores, but that's besides the point. This assignment will make or break us. It, undoubtedly, will decide whether or not the Black Company returns to the world of the living, or stays a corpse in the ground." He nodded to the small horde of mercenaries slowly gathering inside the hostel, "And I'm not sure these lot are up to the task. What say you?"

"These are employers I'd gladly kill, basic economics or not" Gollome said, arm brushing against the table as he leaned in. "You want a pot to piss in? I'll give you a pot, I'll give you eighty fucking pots. That's the only reason why I'm here, and if this is the gilded pot you want, then fine. We'll do it. Doesn't mean it's anything other than what it is. A shitty spirit-taken deal." he paused only because the ale had arrived in two poorly carved wooden mugs.

The old swordsman sipped very lightly on his drink, never one to be overly fond of the stuff. This is nothing but piss-water! he thought angrily, I remember a time when this city had some of the greatest wine in the world. Even if they were losing that title before I was ever born.

"When I first met you, over a year ago, no matter what I did I couldn't escape you. You'd turn up at every turn I tried to take, wearing the same stupid fucking face as when I first saw you, Alderic. The one you're still wearing, if a bit more weary. Heading out with you was my first mistake, my second was agreeing to help start this god-forsaken band."

Gollome took another swig of his ale, expression not changing even with the aweful taste. "And by that same god, I'll do what it takes to make sure this venture works. You know that. Even if it's killing every sapsucker in this hellhole."

The Biter turned his attention to the flood of Crows coming through the door, just as Alderic asked his crowning question. "Won't last the night." he replied flatly. "But if it means you and me make it, then so be it. That being said, if you want any of these children to pull through, we'll have to do this the sneaky way. Just like we did on that caravan of thickskulls out in Lobschied."

"Well, well, well, what have we here," Velasco said, striding over to the table where the Prince and Gollome sat. "The classic debate over 'how likely are we to stab our client as our target'? Must confess I find it entirely all too cliche, if you ask me," he continued, before holding up his hands as if to silenece an imaginary fear, as they looked at him as if he was absolutely insane.

"Now, now, I know you didn't ask me, and you think me some odd-mannered heathen who should be stoned by a mob just as equally as he should be granted lifelong drinks and never a cold bed, but I can assure you that I am completely, erm, mostly, sane." Velasco said, mimicing an odd gesture, pretending as if something were there that only he could see, but afterwards he composed himself and continued, "Now granted it would not be difficult for us to find plenty of pots to piss in, but the question you must ask yourself is, 'how long should I subject myself to living off the whims of my bladder?' Myself personally? Not long, I'm afraid. Terribly ungentlemanly."

Gollome's response came in as fiery as ever, full of brimstone and brutal honesty; that was part of his charm, and more so, part of the reason he and Alderic became friends. A man like Gollome Farelle didn't lie to your face, even if it suited him, or, better yet, even if it suited you and your delicate sensibilities. Honesty was a very valuable trait - now blatant honesty? That was a priceless attribute, both in terms of dark comedy and actual practicality, two things that the Black Prince cherished above all else; other than vintage spirits, swords with fine craftsmanship, and well-endowed women, of course.

The Prince lifted up his iron mask a bit, only enough to reveal his chin, which was covered in a few scars and blonde stubble, and said with a smirk, "There are no mistakes in life, Gollome. Only fate. It's hardly my fault that lady luck has been a daft bitch and saddled you with me on the same runaway horse."

He reached for his flagon with claw-like fingers, "As romantic as I am, old man, I'm hardly attached to any of these poor souls. I'd rather not add any more tally marks to the Company's dead, however; like I said, dilemmas like that make for bad business." Alderic downed some of his drink with a hearty gulp. "We move on the village under the cover of night; shadow-walking, it is."

The Prince cocked his head in Velasco's direction as he approached the table. The Seinese fellow was as jovial as ever; almost sickeningly. Nonetheless, the commander listened to his clever quips, even offering a courteous dry chuckle, although, in reality, he often dreamed of smacking that jester of a man.

"Pull up a damned seat already, Hidalgo, and cease your incessant comedy routine. Gollome and I were just discussing our strategy for this potential cluster-fuck of an assignment."

"Indeed, your grace." Gollome nodded slowly, taking another drink of his ale. "The cards we are dealt are all we have.

The Tourman turned his attention to the Seinese before them. "I see your mouth moving, Hidalgo, but I am only privy to your ass talking. Sit down and help us avoid a hearty meal of iron come dawn."
With that, he motioned for a third mug of ale from Alba.

Velasco held his chest as if he'd been wounded, and stumbled back, aghast, "Comedy routine? Dear heavens I'd thought you knew me better than that, fair leader. I am offended by these transgression!" he said, giving the two a wink as he did so, before abruptly pulling up a chair and sitting down at the table.

Then Gollome decided it was his turn to get a jab it, but Velasco fired immediately back, "Well at least I can tell my face from my ass," and he flashed him a quick smile.

"Now, in all seriousness, if we had wanted to avoid a stomach full of forged steel come the heavenly morning, well, your first mistake was coming to Bite'Our. Now as to avoiding the inevitable, I suggest constant guards and the men ready to fight and move at a moment's notice. As much as I love the women and drink of this city, there's a certain layer of scum to the streets, not easily visible to the naked eye, but it's there," Velasco said, almost soberly.

"Yes, yes, in that, we agree," said Alderic, ignoring Velasco's humorous feign of offense, as he set his cast iron cup on the table with a noticeable thud; its rim still dripped with amber-colored ale. "The real question, however, is the matter of getting into the village. Its walls, while hardly well built or tall, for that matter, will undoubtedly be manned by watchmen." The Prince slid his mask back over his mouth, "And once we push the attack, the alarms will be raised, and we'll be facing an entire garrison. I'd reckon that gate has got to be opened from the inside."

"The Red Bitch's dogs said these men were mostly peasants and militia." Gollome cut in. "While I wouldn't trust them with my life, it stands to be remembered that we are dealing with Biters here. And if I know Biters, which I do, then it should go fairly simple. If we take out the sentries, infiltrate the compund, maybe kill a captain or two the rest of em will turn tail and run. The only thing a Biter values more than instant gratification is his life."

The Tourman put his elbows up on the table and crossed his fingers. "That being said, I'm not entirely sure our own lot can do much better than these militia. After all, I've seen noble snots hit my plate head on with a sword like daft bastards and bounce right off, yet I've lost comrades as well armored as I to sturdy spears and clubs."
He stopped then halted the barmaid Alba, motioning for her to take his ale. "Bring me a cup of squeezed apples." he said, knowing that even this time of year a measly crop should come out of the orchards. Such a drink was an insider's secret in Bite'Tour.

"Anyways," he continued. "These sentries shouldn't be too hard to pass, granted we come in quick, silent, and close. From there, the gate should be no problem. Most villages have measly defences anyways, especially around here. No point in guarding the inside when all the criminals are already there."

The Prince leaned back in his chair, leisurely. The ancient seat of wood groaned under his shifting weight like a drunkard waking up after a long evening of revelry and debauchery. His fingers interlocked in his lap as he contemplated Gollome's words, "Aye, then we have it. A select number of us will scout ahead and infiltrate the village, cut a few necks, and get that gate open for the main brigade located outside; you and I will lead the infantry advance. Sound advice, my friend, as always," he said with a smile.

With that, the men drifted into a long bought of silence.
"It's settled then." Gollome finished. "Here's to not dying."
I have been previously known as Apfeldonia and Thimbyrland

Oh way down south in the land of cotton...

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Derelldia
Diplomat
 
Posts: 543
Founded: Aug 11, 2013
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Derelldia » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:50 pm

The Black Company
Bite'Tour


Away in a dark room of the hostel was the corpse minder of the group, Hyo-Rin. She lay naked, staring to the ceiling, on the bed while holding the sheathed sword to her chest. The hostel was quite as she had been asleep when the rest had left to go about business in the city, but soon a loud voice could be heard from the main room. The Prince and the rest of the company had returned. Rolling off the bed and making her way to her clothes on a chair in the corner. Setting her sword on the table she had pulled into the center of the room, living in the same room you work makes it awkward when in a new room and things aren't the same. Getting into her outfit, it became noticeable that a large crowd had gathered in the main room of the hostel, and that some sort of celebration was happening.

Slipping the mask on over her head and pulling the hood up, she left the room and made her way to the main room. Entering the room to see people sitting at different tables and drinking together, it would feel nice if it was for the fact it means the company has a job now. With the jobs the company does, someone is going to get hurt or killed along the way to completing it. She saw the Prince, and Gollome sitting at a table with Velasco pulling a chair over after looking offended for a brief moment. Drawing plans for the job, probably. Hyo-Rin thought to herself while pulling her gloves on. The gloves weren't needed, just made her feel comfortable. She leaned up against the wall and just watched over the room.

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Tertuath Hath
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 174
Founded: Jan 17, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Tertuath Hath » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:22 pm

Konchak Eskel
Bite'Tour


A sly smile wormed its way across the Katherian's face, followed by a low chuckle, as he was reminded again of what had happened earlier with the Biter.

"Served him right to try to steal from me," he bellowed, his bow legged stride carrying him over to the nearest table," besides, I could've just gutted the pathetic worm there and then, he deserved worse than what he got. I was being kind."

Plopping down unto a worn, twisted seat, Konchak motioned for some ale, his callused fingers waving lazily in the musty air of the hostel. In all honesty, he was more of a fermented mare's milk kind of guy, the ales and beers of the sedentary never having found the same love and passion he held for the homebrewed drink of his people. There was a certain connection that was there whenever he drank fermented mare's milk, a certain umph that he always found lacking in most every other drink he had ever consumed, a desire that could really only be quenched by a trip back to his people's homeland. Theirs was a land where the grass flowed freely, a great sea of emerald, shinning proudly in the embrace of the Sun, as it people rode the endless sea atop mighty and noble steeds. Theirs was a land where the people knew, no, embodied what it meant to be free, where no nation could dictate the everyday lives of the men and women who lived there, where no nation could impose itself even if it dare. Theirs was the land that bore him, that made him...him, that had seen his first breath, but alas, would probably not see his last. Theirs was the land that bore the greatest tragedy of his existence...

Eyes dead and unmoving, thoughts dark and brooding, he barely registered the cup of ale that slid and lurched to a stop in front of his sullen form. Calloused fingers slowly gripped the misshapen mug of ancient wood, the bottom of the wretched thing soaring into the air as its rancid contents slipped down its handler's throat. The taste bothered him none, lacking, as it were, the umph that he so craved, but bursting with the poison he needed to kill the figures encroaching from the corners of his mind. Twisted shapes, dancing in the flames agony, writhing, screaming louder and louder as the nightmare revived itself once again.

Calloused fingers motioned for more poison, the monsters of the past with their slaves of the dead growing bolder and more vivid by the second. Another mug of stinging wroth, sickening to the touch, lurched forward, drained without ceremony. The wails of the damned were upon him now, wild and vicious, filled with pain as the horrors of old charged forward with the fury of a million horses. Three more pain ladened mugs. Faces full of sorrow and horror pleaded, faces full of yellowed skin and rotten flesh, with voices so familiar, with cries so devastating. Another mug, burning liquid flames rushing as a waterfall of hate, descending down to a pit of grief and madness. A haze fell over the world, with twisted forms and ghoulish cries, as the air grew thick and the sky grew dark. Eyes darting side to side, searching desperately as a voice cried out from the depths of the growing darkness, phantoms whirling overhead jeering and hateful. The voice called out again and again, growing more pained, more strained, as it echoed around the shrinking cage of figures and ghosts.

A tear fell, his voice quivering as he whispered:

"Mom?"

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Phalnia
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1683
Founded: Nov 20, 2010
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Phalnia » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:21 pm

Jiang Tin
Bite'Tour




Jiang did not like Bite'Tour. He did not like the smell, the sounds, or the sights. It smelled like a piss-pot. It sounded like a bazaar mixed with a battlefield. And it looked like a city cobbled together from whatever was lying around. The only thing Jiang could appreciate about this city was the rain. But, this rain was not like the rain they had in Shinovira. The rain in Jiang's home was refreshing and clean. The rain here was harsh and somehow stale. It didn't matter though, no amount of Shinovira rain could clean up Bite'Tour. This city was rotten from the inside out. Jiang was ready to leave this place as soon as whatever job had brought the company here was done.

Jiang had only been a member of the Company of the Raven for a month. It was a strange assortment of characters and they didn't seem to live up to the tales Jiang had heard. These people seemed too young, too fresh to have earned the reputation the Company had. Though, there were a few among them who seemed capable of doing what popular rumors said the Black Company had done. Alderic, the Black Prince, stood out among them. And rightly he should. An army was only as great as the man who led it. Jiang had learned that lesson from Gau when he was still young. Jiang was anxious to see the man in battle. But, it would have to wait. For now they were still gathering the details of their contract.

Jiang had been quick to present himself at the courtyard, when the blowhard Gollome summoned them. He had remained silent as the rest boasted and postured for one another. Jiang was used to this kind of behavior. He had seen it many times in his travels. He brushed it off. It didn't concern him what others did for approval.

What was more interesting to him was Alderic's speech. He called on the group to be loyal to him and to the soldier at their side. He promised them victory in battle and gold in victory. This suited Jiang well enough. There were few things in this world more important than gold. And one of those things was fulfillment. Fulfillment for Jiang came from the lifeblood of those across the battlefield. He was eager to return to this state of fulfillment. It had been far too long for Jiang but, it finally seemed like a fight was on the horizon. The Black Prince then ordered the Company to prepare to move to the meeting with their benefactor. Jiang was already prepared. He was wearing his his lamellar-coat and had a sword swung across his back and one hanging from his hip.

Jiang could feel the eyes of Tourmen on him as the group moved down the filthy streets. He was used to the looks. Shinovirians were rarely found this far West, as a matter of fact Jiang had not met a fellow countryman in nearly a year. He chose to ignore the lingering eyes. If they wished to view him they were more than welcome. His clothing, weaponry, and appearance were no doubt strange for these Biters. Just as they would be a bizarre sight in Shinovira. It was just something that Jiang had learned to block out.

He didn't have to worry about it for long though. They soon arrived at what was apparently their destination. It was a large ornate building. It stuck out like beautiful eyes on the face of an ugly old woman. Hardly, a subtle location and not the type of place he expected mercenaries to arrange a meeting. Perhaps, that was the point? Whatever, Jiang thought of the building was inconsequential because they were soon inside and being warned against partaking in any of the pleasures inside. This was easy for Jiang. He had never been fond of the drink and had an distaste for whores, they reminded him too much of his mother. The sword-son settled himself in front of a wall bearing a number of portraits. All of naked men and women. Not the most inspired of design choices for a whorehouse. Jiang felt that the art might distract from the live flesh in the room, though none of the patrons seemed to be too distracted.

Before Jiang could move on to the other decorations in the room, a shouting from the two negotiating parties drew his attention. Jiang poised his hand on the hilt of his sword, if it came to a fight he was sure the two men here and the handful of guards would be little trouble. But, the escaping the city guard would be another matter entirely. Thankfully, the two parties seemed to reach an agreement. "Ninety silver." That was the price the lord-commander agreed to. Jiang was sure this was a reasonable sum for whatever work they were preparing to do. He followed the rest of the group as they made their way from the meeting back to the hostel to finalize the plan for their first mission.

The return trip was much shorter than the first. Back at the inn, Jiang ordered a bowl of soup from the barmaid. It looked questionable but, proved edible. He waited while the plan was being formulated.

"The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn't it be? - it is the same the angels breathe." Mark Twain
“Don't feel entitled to anything you didn't sweat and struggle for.” Marian Wright Edelman


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