Game Thread South, across the Middle Sea - Page 4 - RPG Crossing
RPG Crossing Home Forums Create An Account! Site Rules & Help

RPG Crossing
Go Back   RPG Crossing > Games > Dungeons & Dragons: 5e > In the Coils of Veles
twitter facebook
0 6 3 0
... raised for charity (includes promised matching)!
: +

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #46  
Old May 17th, 2021, 10:47 PM
4eyedBadger's Avatar
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 1st, 2021
RPXP: 7570
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger
Posts: 2,223
On Board the Sighing LadyThe joviality in Vrakiras’ bovine face drains at the mention of Gramvar. His silver fur ripples as the large muscles of his arms flex in agitation, like a bull rutting in a pen before a fight. Bato can smell the scent of musk that suddenly rises from all of the bull-folk in the hold. Vrakiras’ nostrils flare and his golden nose-ring is coated in hot moisture from his chuffing breath.

"I am not from Gramvar," the bull manages to keep his voice even as he answers Azar. "We are Capleoni. But the pride of the herd runs strong through the mazes of the Middle Sea. The Kyprioni are my brothers, and the song of Vespras fills my lungs." The minotaurs behind him grunt their approval of his words. Several of the human sailors in the hold look uncomfortable. But Vrakiras nods solemnly. "I sail with this crew. And I will take the dragons’ gold in payment for our cargo. But I pray to the Horned Lady of Darkness for vengeance on the Morza."

The last hour of darkness before sunrise passes. The minotaurs are subdued and quiet for a while, but their boisterous nature soon emerges once again. The city watch can be heard on the docks, pulling bodies from the water and loading them onto carts that have arrived from within the city. A mounted man, thin, with drooping white mustaches and deeply creased skin arrives on horseback. He wears a simple grey suit, not uniform but cut in military fashion. He dismounts and surveys the docks like a general looking over a battlefield. The guard captain renders a tired salute and approaches. The two speak for many minutes, with the captain gesturing with his hand toward the water, the pools of blood on the wood and stone of the quay, the scorch marks, and finally, at The Sighing Lady. Methodically, the old thin man walks the scene. He approaches the carts and moves the tarps from the bodies, tilting his head to look straight at their wounds without expression. He looks in windows of closed shops and up under the eaves. He can be seen counting paces across the dock, measuring the distances between items of interest. He questions the captain once more, nods thoughtfully, and then mounts his horse and follows the cart with the grim cargo back into the city.

As the sun rises slightly higher over the rippling water to the east, the smell of roasting meat fills the hold. Several of the crew start making their way up to the deck, checking lines and rigging in a casual routine. Hard tack biscuits and hot cuts of pork are passed out to the crew by a portly, unshaven man in a greasy shirt. He approaches Zenda, Azar, Myra, Nae’laa and Bato as they make their way onto the deck as well, seemingly about to offer them some of the biscuits and meat. But Captain Thiago del Magrina opens the door from his cabin at the stern and says, "Thank you, Izan. But our guests will eat with me this morning." Izan nods with a smile and answers, "As you say, cap’n."

Captain del Magrina moves away from the door and gives a formal bow at his guests. The small table has a simple breakfast of fruit, eggs and bacon laid out, with some cut up potatoes. The smell of sweet and tangy spices rising from the dishes is distinctly Capleoni. Skrihn Vat stands at the port bulkhead in the cabin, eyeing the food and swishing his tail hungrily. Another human, short, balding, and very muscular in his coat sits at the table. "Please sit, my friends," Captain del Magrina says in his accented Common and gestures at the empty chairs. The rest of the cabin is tidy and what one would expect of a traditional sailor. The small bed at the stern windows is made neatly. Through the open curtains the rocky coast and the base of the lighthouse can be seen. A desk that is a little too large for the space is pushed up against the starboard wall. A decent painting of an attractive but haughty-looking woman with raven-black hair is hung above it.

The muscular man stands from his seat as the group enters, nodding as the captain introduces him, "This is my first mate, Mister Sartori." His dark eyes take in the group with interest. "And I believe you met Mister Vat briefly this morning," Captain del Magrina continues. Skrihn Vat has doffed his leather cap, exposing an unkempt tuft of coarse hair on his scalp. He pulls his eyes away from the eggs and cheese briefly to acknowledge their guests.

Loud footsteps approach from the deck and Vrakiras ducks into the room, making it instantly seem so much smaller. "And this is Vrakiras Roshgazi, my bosun," concludes del Magrina. "You have had an eventful night. Let us eat and discuss the matter." As soon as Captain del Magrina takes a roll from a bowl, Skrihn Vat grabs the spoon and heaps a generous portion of eggs onto his plate. His captain throws him a disapproving look, but he seems not to notice. Mister Sartori traces a circle over his heart with his finger and then begins to help himself to the bacon. Captain del Magrina spreads jelly on his bread without cutting it first and says, "Mister Vat has filled me in on the details of what occurred this morning. Nasty business, but necessary for your part. From my brief conversation with Lieutenant Dovor, I’d guess they won’t be much missed." He shakes his head with what seems to be genuine regret. "But what of you. You’ll forgive me for saying so, but you are a...singular group." He looks to Nae’laa. "I have never seen your like in all my travels across the Middle Sea. I’ve known a few of the elemental folk, but none quite so visibly touched. And from what I hear, that fiery power goes deeper than the lines on your skin." Then, addressing the whole group once more he says, "You owe me no explanations, of course. But we are old sailors, and stories are the currency of the sea. What brings you to Candano?"

Last edited by 4eyedBadger; May 17th, 2021 at 10:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old May 20th, 2021, 10:15 AM
Lazer's Avatar
Lazer Lazer is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Nov 30th, 2021
RPXP: 14016
Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer
Posts: 3,517
Lesson learned, Azar remained relatively quiet and left the company of the minotaurs when her little indiscretion seemed to have been forgotten. She looked around, noting Zenda and Nae'laa apparently in deep conversation, perhaps to forestall the attentions of the resident lecher. She considered joining them, but found herself wandering in the direction of Batoyangi and Khamyra instead.

"I don't blame you," she smiled at Bato, attempting to ingratiate herself with a little humour, "staying near the hatch, I mean. With your snout the atmosphere in this vessel must be incredibly ripe."

She grinned, but for some reason the joke didn't seem to have landed. Perhaps he was struggling with the common.

"What language do your people speak, anyway?" she asked bluntly.

She turned to Khamyra and placed a hand on the soft velvet fur of her arm, which was still very damp from her ordeal, but at least most of the blood had been cleaned up.

"It is good to see you feeling a little better. Perhaps in the future you might consider not taking on a whole gang on your own?" She tried to smile as she said it but it was very forced. She couldn't understand the urge of these heroic types to go charging in against overwhelming odds. Of course, cultivating such sentiment in others was eminently useful, otherwise where would leaders find the fodder for all of their various armies? But while there were only five of them relying on each other Azar would prefer her companions to be slightly less reckless, unless it was her own skin on the line.

Soon enough the group were ushered up onto the deck and then towards the stern and the captain's cabin. Azar was very much aware of the presumed 'honour' of the invitation, but for her own part she would have been far more comfortable sharing some of the more unassuming provisions of the crew. Nevertheless she sat at the table and listened to all Captain del Magrina had to say.

She sat patiently as everyone else helped themselves to the food, taking the occasional sip of water. When the other plates were full she took a small crust of bread, a potato and an egg, placing each carefully on her own plate as though they were the most delicate of porcelain ornaments. She methodically cut them into small pieces as the others talked, popping each piece into her mouth as it was cut, and chewing longer than most would have thought necessary. All of this was actually her habit, born of many years of sparse provisions, but at this moment it also gave her an excuse not to talk. Fortunately, the captain seemed more interested in Nae'laa anyway, which suited Azar very well; she too was keen to know more about the mysterious cinder-woman's powers.

 

 
__________________
Current status: The weeks are passing me by just now with few opportunities to post. I'll try to catch up but I'm happy for my characters to be DMPC'd this month if necessary. Sorry!
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old May 20th, 2021, 06:08 PM
Vislands's Avatar
Vislands Vislands is online now
Blue Mage
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 4th, 2021
RPXP: 12946
Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands
Posts: 3,793
Bato walked Azar approach with his beady eyes, his posture remaining relaxed and unconcerned. The woman made a joke in Common that he actually understood, though when he bared his teeth in response it was an expression half-way between a snarl and a humorless smile, his long tongue flicking to lick his incisors. His small black eyes did glint with amusement though when he said, "You riled up your new friends over there. That Bato did smell."

He chuckled at that and considered her direct question. He kept his voice down as they spoke, even he had the sense that it might cause problems if others heard them speaking in the Imperial Tongue. "Bato's people speak their own language, she-snake. But speak your common, Bato understands perfectly well." He did not, obviously, but he wouldn't let her know that.

The time passed and Bato could hear the sounds of the day's activity increasing around him, as well as the scent of cooked meat. His belly had just begun to growl when provisions were being passed out to the crew. The captain invited them to dine, but the gnoll did steal a piece of hot pork for himself before joining the others in the sequestered cabin.

He sat, looming over the small table, and picked food for his plate surprisingly neatly. As was his wont, he kept mostly silent, laying into the meal they'd been given vigorously, but when an akward silence filled the air he looked up, reached for the half-memory of the question they'd just been asked. "Errr..." Bato said in his own accented, broken Common as he prepared to answer the question


OOC
 

Last edited by Vislands; May 20th, 2021 at 06:09 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old May 21st, 2021, 02:28 PM
hafrogman's Avatar
hafrogman hafrogman is online now
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 4th, 2021
RPXP: 17639
hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman
Posts: 3,073
Zenda, Child of the Gods
right-aligned image
Zenda had spent most of the rest of the morning dodging the attentions of Arnau. Not for her own benefit, she was confident in her ability to handle herself, but much of the rest of the crew seemed to view the young lothario with reactions ranging from amusement to exasperation. No need to provoke a confrontation, better to just keep her distance for now. With the uncertainty of their fate hanging over their heads, she wasn't quite in the mood for flirtation anyways. But she kept him in mind in case of later need. He might serve as a font of information, or a useful patsy, given the right bait.

With dawn came their seeming deliverance, and Zenda joined the others on deck. Given her clothing, weaponry and general poise, the swordswoman might have cut quite the figure of a pirate queen, except that something about being around this much water unsettled her. There was something... unseemly about the ocean. Water was a precious resource, to be protected and managed. To be floating atop an endless, but utterly useless supply just seemed wasteful in some way. Hopefully their destination would be behind them soon and she would be able to leave ships, docks and shorelines behind her and get solid earth beneath her feet.

By the morning light, she viewed the destruction her little group had wrought with a dispassionate eye. Blood soaked boards and scorch marks scattered across the pier were all that remained of the battle. The local authorities seemed to have packed up and left, at least for the moment. She longed to leave this tiny cramped place and be about their business before anybody returned, but the captain's invitation was not one that could be refused without drawing even more attention to their comings and goings.

Zenda filed into the cabin with the others and took a moment to drink in the atmosphere. Her eyes lingered on the portrait for a long moment. The captain's wife, perhaps? She curtsied lightly to the gentlemen as each was introduced and then took her place at the table. Listening politely as the captain poked around the edges of their business. They certainly owed this man for his hospitality, but she was not sure how much of it had been his decision and how much had been Mister Vat's. He had certainly played along with the Lieutenant... at least as far as she was aware.

The Ishadian smiled prettily at del Magrina's final question and leaned forward. She was vaguely aware of Bato speaking up behind her, but blithely pressed forward lest his more... direct nature reveal too much. "As you say, Captain, stories are currency." She shrugged lightly. "However, it would be unseemly of us to spend someone else's coin. As such, you will have to understand if we cannot share all the details, for they are not ours to share." Zenda looked around at the table and gave a small laugh. "I doubt you would believe me if I told you we were childhood friends travelling for pleasure..." Then she turned her silver eyes back upon their host. "But in this case there is no need for deception or circumspection. You asked what brings us to Candano? The answer is simple and rather boring, I'm afraid. We have come seeking passage further east." She picked up a piece of fruit and began precisely slicing into it. "You wouldn't know of any trustworthy vessels headed in that direction, would you?"

OOC
 

 
__________________
Back. Slowly catching up.

Characters: Del CorganIris KetteringCaleb ShawDeirdre VenteuseYrena
ZendaSquire GainsboroBaruuk TalonfaceKonstantin LumynMarisol d'Arabeth

Last edited by hafrogman; May 21st, 2021 at 02:32 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old May 28th, 2021, 03:53 PM
4eyedBadger's Avatar
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 1st, 2021
RPXP: 7570
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger
Posts: 2,223
The Sighing Lady
Captain del Magrina's eyes linger on Nae’laa, even as Zenda spoke for the group. His brow arches slightly and he slowly turns his attention to the Ishadian. Disappointment at the lack of a good tale is evident on his face, but his good manners never slip. In his accented Common he says, "Of course. Forgive me for prying. We all have our obligations. And you have certainly provided diversion enough for one day in the life of a merchant captain."

Del Magrina leans back in his chair, taking on a more casual posture as he spreads spiced butter on a biscuit with a dull table knife. "Most of the vessels in Candano are bound for the east. There is little trade to be had further west. The Tamasheq keep mostly to themselves and few merchants will pass beyond the Stone Straits into the wilds of the Western Ocean when there is so much gold to be had in the Middle Sea." There is the barest hint of self-satisfaction in his statement, but it may just be the pride of a successful captain. "Well, let’s see. We ourselves are headed for Irkaly, to the Great Souk Market." Del Magrina throws a barely perceptible glance at Vrakiras, but the big minotaur bosun seems more interested in his plate. "That double-masted tartan is al-Badawi. Captain Entariush is likely headed back to Nuria with a hold full of septime hops for the brewers of Ninkash. He’s been known to take on passengers from time to time." He stands from the table and walks to the open cabin door to look out over the quay and harbor. "That three masted job is our sister-ship, Lady of Luck, just returned from Irkaly. Captain Ferdis makes for Capleon this morning. The twin frigates are Triolan navy. The Duke-Admiral Cadua sends aid and food to Vespras to withstand the dragons." Vrakiras chuffs his approval at that.

"These others look to be mostly coastal barges and commercial fi..." The captain cuts off mid-word and strides to his desk, where he retrieves a spyglass from a case. He extends it as he walks back toward the deck. "Hello?!" Azar lets her eyes follow the direction of the glass. In the distance, anchored far out in the harbor, is a large, first-line ship silhouetted against the sunrise on the eastern horizon. It’s easily double the size of the Sighing Lady and displaces many times the water. Four tall masts stand bare and some sort of winged figurehead extends from the bow. Batoyangi’s ears perk up as the faintest moaning carries across the water on a light breeze. The others seem not to hear it.

Without looking away from his spyglass, del Magrina speaks thoughtfully. "She flies the Despot’s flag, out of Reth-Saal for certain." The muscles of the captain’s jaw tense. His officers join him on the deck and look out at the behemoth, casting its long shadow across the gentle waves toward the coast. "Avoid that one, my friends," he warns. "The Rubeshi are not to be trusted."

Last edited by 4eyedBadger; May 28th, 2021 at 03:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #51  
Old Jun 5th, 2021, 02:23 AM
Vislands's Avatar
Vislands Vislands is online now
Blue Mage
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 4th, 2021
RPXP: 12946
Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands Vislands
Posts: 3,793
Batoyangi enjoyed his meal in relative silence, allowing the more talky-talky members of their little party to do their talky-talky things, in the scratchy, not particularly pleasant-sounding language of Common. While his eyes remained down at his plate and much of the conversation passed him by, his ears lifted occasionally, swinging this way and that as he picked up tidbits from what they spoke of. He marked the mention of Irkaly and passage to it, and knew enough from his own life in the Empire that would be on their way to their destination southward.

The crew and command of the Sighing Lady were fine by him. They left him alone, mostly and had fed him. Bato knew they could do much, much worse for passage south and silently hoped that the talky-talkies would assent to traveling aboard the ship. They were already on it after all, no need to make things more difficult for themselves.

At the sound of the moaning and the sudden commotion caused by the appearance of the ship on the horizon, Bato didn't stand for a moment, but turned in his seat at the sound. He stood then, once the Captain mentioned the 'Despot' and went over to look out on the ocean to give his ears a better chance
Dice Perception:
1d20+6 (9)+6 Total = 15
to catch the sounds that came.


OOC
 
Reply With Quote
  #52  
Old Jun 8th, 2021, 02:01 AM
hafrogman's Avatar
hafrogman hafrogman is online now
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 4th, 2021
RPXP: 17639
hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman
Posts: 3,073
Zenda, Child of the Gods
right-aligned image
Zenda scoffed lightly. "No, I don't think that we shall seek passage under the Glittering King's flag. I expect that the price they would ask would be... not to our liking." She paused for a moment and studied del Magrina's gaze as the man and his mates watched the approaching ship. "I am somewhat surprised Cadano welcomes the Rubeshi. Though I suppose their gold spends well enough here as anywhere. Have you had... issues with them in the past?"

Before he had noticed the Despot's ship, the Captain had been running down the list of potential destinations. Of all of them, the Sighing Lady's own destination was most to her liking, if a ship could not be found heading for Prezhan itself. Still, the coincidence of it all bothered her somewhat. They had been attacked on the docks by Bram and his dogs, then found refuge on a boat that just so happened to be sailing in the direction they needed. It wasn't that she directly suspected del Magrina of orchestrating the whole thing... Such a masterful orchestration of unknowable things seemed even less likely than it all being pure happenstance. But the whole thing had the stink of destiny about it. Was one of the gods pulling strings? And to what end?

For the daughter of the Prophet, Zenda had an... uncomfortable relationship with the concept of fate. If something felt too easy, it always seemed like there would be an inevitable balancing of the scales further down the line. Luck could only stretch so far before it snapped back, rebounding in surprising and often painful ways upon those who had been fool enough to tempt their fortunes. Whenever possible, Zenda liked to tip the scales back herself... before things got out of hand.

The Captain and his officers seemed concerned with the appearance of the Rubeshi. Perhaps an arrangement could be worked out to barter protection from slavers against the cost of their passage. Such a bargain might invite danger upon their voyage, but it would feel more like a fair exchange, balancing out the karmic debt this morning's timely shelter had amassed against them.

OOC
 

 
__________________
Back. Slowly catching up.

Characters: Del CorganIris KetteringCaleb ShawDeirdre VenteuseYrena
ZendaSquire GainsboroBaruuk TalonfaceKonstantin LumynMarisol d'Arabeth

Last edited by hafrogman; Jun 8th, 2021 at 02:01 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #53  
Old Jun 8th, 2021, 12:51 PM
Lazer's Avatar
Lazer Lazer is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Nov 30th, 2021
RPXP: 14016
Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer
Posts: 3,517
Azar listened with little interest to the ramblings of the Captain, describing which ships go where. As far as she was concerned, since their destination was Prezhan, and the closest port to Prezhan that any of these ships were going to was Irkaly, they should stick with Captain del Magrina and The Sighing Lady. All that mattered now was to establish the terms of the deal. Unfortunately the man seemed distracted, having caught sight of a slaver vessel.

Azar peered at the ship, noting how much larger than the others in port it was, but was otherwise unimpressed. Slavers were a fact of life, as much as the tides themselves. Azar had visited Reth-Saal once, during her training. She had found it to be a rather pleasant little city with friendly natives and beautiful views, so she didn't really connect with the dread that many people felt at its name.

She turned and looked towards Candano instead as Zenda spoke, and wondered if she should offer her own experiences with the Rubeshi as a counter-point, but decided against it. She knew that if someone had made up their mind about something, words alone would rarely change it.

Azar turned back and saw that Zenda was regarding the captain with narrowed eyes. She seemed to have an agenda, interesting. Azar sat on a coil of rope where she could observe how the swordswoman could spar with her words.

 

 
__________________
Current status: The weeks are passing me by just now with few opportunities to post. I'll try to catch up but I'm happy for my characters to be DMPC'd this month if necessary. Sorry!
Reply With Quote
  #54  
Old Jun 8th, 2021, 05:06 PM
4eyedBadger's Avatar
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 1st, 2021
RPXP: 7570
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger
Posts: 2,223
The Sighing LadyAt Zenda’s mention of The Glittering King, Captain del Magrina pulls his eyes from the distant ship to look at her with renewed curiosity, his spyglass lowering absently. "You are well informed," he says. "Or well-traveled. But the Rubeshi are not welcome here. Those cursed vessels do not look or care for welcome. They go where they will, though they are rarely seen out of the Ruby Sea." He lifts the spyglass again. "Most civilized states around the sea have little to do with them. They trade in flesh, horse and human. But there is no market for that here. I’d guess they are passing through, making for some point to the west."

Del Magrina closes the spyglass and walks it back over to his desk, even as Arnou Sartori and Vrakiras let their attentions linger on the foreign vessel. "Leastways they give a wide berth," grumbles Arnou, running his thick fingers over his ample forehead.

The captain seats himself back at the table, however. "I have not," he says to Zenda, answering her query about his own history with the Rubeshi. "My own concerns are far more mundane. Poor weather, a failing wind, entitled harbormasters with an eye on your profits. These are the true perils of the sea." He smiles as he picks up his fork and stabs a cut of sausage. "Men used to fear the dragons at the edge of the maps. Now we journey to them and bargain for their hoard."

Last edited by 4eyedBadger; Jun 8th, 2021 at 05:07 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #55  
Old Jun 13th, 2021, 11:45 PM
4eyedBadger's Avatar
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 1st, 2021
RPXP: 7570
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger
Posts: 2,223
The Candano DocksIn the officers’ mess of The Sighing Lady, the meal is nearly finished. Skrihn Vat finally takes note of his captain’s increasingly annoyed glances, as the ratfolk is reaching for his sixth sausage. He stands, still hunched over as is typical of his kind, and takes his leave…and a sausage.

Vrakiras, the minotaur, stands also. He is saying something as he takes his leave, but Azar can’t hear him over a voice that suddenly sounds clearly in her head. Izem Tariq speaks into her mind, "Hello, Azar." The sorceress is familiar with such communication magic, but it is still distracting. "Your mistre… Your patron wishes to send an item that your group may find useful. Where will you be found in one day?" The message ends abruptly.

"…see to the capstan," Vrakiras is finishing his statement as Azar’s attention returns to the present. But she can sense the expectation of a reply in her head, almost as if the Tamasheq is looking upon the sultana’s servant once more, expecting her to refill his cup.

The captain stands and gives a formal nod to his guests. "I’m afraid I have duties to attend to also. Please, finish your meals. Mister Sartori is a capable host." The first mate’s startled expression says otherwise. But the captain tidies his place-setting, leaving the dishes for the crewman who will come in to clear the table. "Very nice to meet you all," he says with a smile. "The Lady light your way."

Candano

"All dead." The inebriated speaker is in his forties. He’s fat, and the sweat stains on his otherwise middle-class, collared shirt mark him as slovenly rather than poor. He smells faintly of urine. He’s one of the few customers in the Twirled ‘Stache Barber and Gentleman’s Supply this early in the morning. From his seat near the door, Kazimir can hear the blowhard clearly. Thankfully, the acrid scent of ammonia from the occupant of the barber’s chair is diminished by the sea breeze through the open front door.

The old man cutting the speaker’s thin hair seems to be paying little attention to what is said, bobbing his head almost out of habit.

"Burned to cinders! I got it straight from my missus’ sister. She’s on the watch what found the bodies. Fished ‘em out of the sea, blackened as you please."

The couple other barbers who are prepping their stations for the day’s business seem to take notice. The shop-owner, Affer Kepp, is a middle-aged man, muscular with an elaborate pomp of brown hair twirling from his brow. He runs a comb through his hair and drops it into a jar. "I heard an ungodly noise this morning from the docks. Shook the walls, it did. I thought the dragons had come!" Then, as if he’s piecing it all together, he asks the watchwoman’s brother-in-law, "Wait. Were they burned up like by dragon-fire?"

"They was," says the fat man with a knowing nod, as though he’d arrived at that conclusion some time ago. "Course you know they c’n shift themselves to look human, too. I daresay there’s some walking the city as we speak, scoutin’ for the rest."

Affer seems a little skeptical. "I don’t know much about that. Seems to me we’d have heard something about it from those Illyrian refugees if they could do that." The man looks over toward where Kazimir is seated, looking at his exotic, elven features. His tone is more curious than suspicious when he says, "How about you, sir? Do you know anything of dragons? Or strange noises in the night that burn men alive?"

OOC
 
Reply With Quote
  #56  
Old Jun 14th, 2021, 04:35 PM
Lazer's Avatar
Lazer Lazer is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Nov 30th, 2021
RPXP: 14016
Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer
Posts: 3,517
Azar picked at the food, barely tasting it, mostly just using it as an excuse to not join in the conversation. She wanted to listen. Normally her status would have been enough to assure that she could do that; who of any import would notice another slave? But now things were different. Now she wasn't just another slave, she was an adventurer. Of sorts.

Vrakiras standing interrupted Azar's ruminations, and she raised her gaze to meet his, to bid him farewell, but that damnable Tariq interrupted the moment. It was perhaps not the very worst time that the ambassador could have slipped into her mind, but Azar had never felt comfortable with anyone reading her thoughts. Fortunately this particular spell should have minimal overflow, the Wind Lord should only hear her reply and little else. She nodded cordially at the minotaur and lowered her eyes to her plate once again.

We are in Candano, she thought, each word formed very carefully so they could be easily understood. On a ship called The Sighing Lady. We sail east shortly, ensure the item is not delayed. She realised that her words would, perhaps, sound a little harsh, and that technically the ambassador greatly outranked her. Perhaps she should soften the message a little? I should thank you.

The connection melted from her mind and Azar shrugged, already forgetting any worries about having offended the Emissary. An item? She wondered what that could be. It had to be important if the Sultana was going to such trouble.

"Captain," she said abruptly, looking up at the man and only then seeing that he was about to step away. No matter, she continued on anyway. "We will take passage on your ship to Irkaly. We don't require a cabin…" She paused, realising that she had no idea what the preferences of the rest of the group would be, and also that she should be considering such things now. "Well, I don't…" she gestured vaguely at Nae'laa, Khamyra and Zenda, "…they might." It didn't even occur to her that Batoyangi would have an opinion on the matter.

"We will cast off in two days," she finished, "have some sailors load our mule."

The important details settled she looked back to her food. Yes, she thought, that seems to have gone well.

 

 
__________________
Current status: The weeks are passing me by just now with few opportunities to post. I'll try to catch up but I'm happy for my characters to be DMPC'd this month if necessary. Sorry!

Last edited by Lazer; Jun 14th, 2021 at 04:37 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #57  
Old Jun 15th, 2021, 08:19 AM
4eyedBadger's Avatar
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 1st, 2021
RPXP: 7570
4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger 4eyedBadger
Posts: 2,223
The Sighing Lady"Impossible," scoffs Arnau Sartori. The first mate of The Sighing Lady shakes his head at Azar’s bold suggestion. "We sail on the morrow with the wind and the tide. This is a ship of commerce. We have schedules and obligations." Arnau looks to his captain to explain further.

But Thiago del Magrina looks thoughtfully at Azar and her companions for a long, quiet moment. "Agreed," he says finally. Then, when Arnau starts to protest further, del Magrina cuts him off. "A fair wind may take many forms, Mister Sartori. We will delay our departure by a day. Have the men clear out the forward deck compartment and fashion a holding pen for a mule. Our passengers will have the stern cabin on the middle deck."

Arnau’s mouth is agape, but to his credit he answers quickly, "Aye, cap’n. I’ll get the crew on it." He exits the officer’s mess without another look at their new passengers, and then starts barking orders on the deck.

del Magrina returns his attention to Azar. "Shall we discuss the terms of your passage?"

OOC
 
Reply With Quote
  #58  
Old Jun 15th, 2021, 09:33 PM
hafrogman's Avatar
hafrogman hafrogman is online now
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 4th, 2021
RPXP: 17639
hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman hafrogman
Posts: 3,073
Zenda, Child of the Gods
right-aligned image
Zenda quirked an eyebrow at Azar's sudden burst of assertiveness. If the dragon-witch somehow thought she was in charge, it would undoubtedly cause conflict further down the road. But for now, the swordswoman was content to sit back and watch, for a number of reasons. One, it simply did not do to air one's dirty laundry in front of the help, and two... she agreed. It seemed that Irkaly was about as close to Prezhan as they were going to get. Zenda was not exactly eager to return to Mharoti lands, but if they were going to waltz into the home port of the dragon's navy... well, perhaps getting their feet wet first wasn't such a bad idea. Azar's insistence on an extra day was surprising, though. Almost as surprising at the Captain's agreement. Was her first instinct correct? Did del Magrina have his own reasons for wanting trained warriors on board? If not the Rubeshi, then perhaps some other danger? She would have to keep her eyes and ears open. She had no objections to partially paying for their passage with steel, but she would rather know what was coming.

The rest of the negotiations held no particular interest for the Ishadian. Under normal circumstances she might have joined in the haggling, just for the thrill of it, if nothing else. But as they were spending the Sultana's money, and not their own, she simply was not invested. She would have rather drained the dragons dry of funds and overpaid the crew, but being too free with someone else's coin was bound to draw attention... and there were yet more travels ahead of them.



Left to her own devices, Zenda needed to find some way to occupy her time. Staying cooped up on the ship until they were ready to sail was not her idea of a good time, and it might cause... friction with some of the more enthusiastic young bucks on board. Or between Azar and herself. By the light of day and in the privacy of their new berth, she was free to examine the pistols she had liberated from Bram Rothwell before kicking his body over the edge of the wharf. One of them seemed... damaged somehow, but the other looked functional enough. Not that she was entirely sure how to make it function. Perhaps she could take them to an expert for repair and instruction... but flashing such distinctive weapons around in a dead man's home town was not the best idea.

She thought she understood the basics, however. The trigger was not dissimilar to that of a crossbow, though the whole thing lacked string or tension. Instead, she understood the bullets to be propelled by some kind of powder. She had none. Bram's own supply had gone up in a spectacular fashion, and there had only been shattered remnants of some kind of container on his belt. The results of adding fire to the powder had left her more than a little leery of carrying the substance herself, but she could not argue with the weapon's brutal effectiveness, particularly given its size. She carried a longbow with her on this journey, and when running the desert with her brothers and sisters. But it was hardly a weapon suitable for concealment. She wanted to explore these new weapons, and learn of them before she made any decisions.



The pistols wrapped in oilcloth and buried at the bottom of her pack, Zenda left the ship, ready to see what knowledge might be gained from the streets of Candano. Halfway down the gangplank, she heard clicks on the wood behind her and the entire bridge bowed under additional weight. She turned to find Batoyangi following her. Finishing her descent, she stood to one side, allowing him to go about his business, but the gnoll simply stood there and grinned at her toothily.

Where does a two-hundred and forty pound gnoll go? Wherever it wants, apparently. Zenda sighed and resigned herself to company as she went about her business. Then she heard a voice from behind her.

"Where..." Bato began his query, then stopped and spoke again in his grating imitation of the common tongue. "Where?"

Zenda closed her eyes for a moment at the noise, wincing slightly. Then she glanced around quickly to make sure Azar was not within earshot. "I took Bram's weapons, but I need powder to make them work." She might have to put up with the gnoll for the day, but she would be damned if she was going to be stuck listening to him try and wrap his fangs around human language. Bato's demonstrations for the Sultana had shown he was quite capable of speaking Draconic, though. Zenda supposed it was designed for a mouth with many teeth, after all. If they were going to speak, it could be in the Mharoti tongue for now.



Zenda parked herself at the bar and ordered a drink. She had wasted far too much of the day on conventional inquiries among the port's traders and suppliers. Those few who had familiarity with the substance in question certainly didn't stock it. Some said they could order it, for an exorbitant fee and several weeks of waiting. Even with Azar's delay, she had no intention of being stuck in Candano for a month or more. No, clearly this was nothing mundane enough to be kept among a normal merchant's stores. She needed a specialist, but she was done asking questions and trailing around the city. Now she would do things her way.

Dressed as she was, in this part of town, it was no time at all before the first man approached her. He was tall, broad-shouldered and quite handsome in his own way. She flicked her eyes briefly to his waist and shook her head dismissively. "I don't think so." He was left to return to his jeering friends, flush with embarrassment or anger. But that did nothing to dissuade the next man, or the one after that. A series of sailors, merchants and travelers attempted to strike up a conversation with the exotic beauty seated rather improbably in this tavern. Almost an hour passed before Zenda found what she wanted.

"Might I buy you a drink?"

The swordswoman glanced up into the sallow face of a rather weak-chinned looking fop. He looked like a stiff breeze would knock him over, but there was something about him... After eyeing him up and down, Zenda nodded her approval and shifted slightly to let him stand next to her. She sipped her drink and listened to him prattle for a moment or two. She had meant to do this part a little more slowly, but Beauregard (that was his name) was just so insufferable. She slipped one arm around his waist, feeling the man quiver with anticipation, then she slipped his dagger out of the sheath at his belt.

He lurched backwards, surprised and possibly a little bit afraid, but Zenda simply flipped the blade around in her hand and held it out in front of her. "Oooh. Pretty. I do so love a good knife. Dwarven make?" Most of the riff-raff that had approached her so far could never have afforded such a quality weapon, but say what you will about Beauregard, he had money. Or at least his family did.

"Y..yes?" The fop stuttered slightly, not entirely sure where he had lost control of the conversation. Still, he'd met women interested in clothes, horses, boats... Why not daggers? If that was what impressed her... "A good eye, my dear. I had it commissioned from a Dwarven metalsmith here in town. Fellow by the name of Slagbeard, if you believe it. Terrible name, wonderful craftsman."

Zenda beamed at him radiantly, a smile splitting her beautiful face. Beauregard smiled back, thinking he was making progress. He was therefore quite surprised, and not a little bit disappointed when the Ishadian hopped off her stool and made for the door. "Thanks for the drink!" She called over her shoulder as she collected her gnoll companion and headed back out into the street.



"No. No powder. I work in metal." Armed with a name, the dwarven smith had been easy enough to locate, but it seemed their entire quest had been in vain. With little patience, Slagbeard attempted to explain the difference between metallurgy and chemistry to the baffled swordswoman. He didn't have the substance she needed, and he didn't know anyone who did. He was able to supply a mold for her to make her own bullets, which would undoubtedly prove useful... if she could ever get her hands on the elusive chemical reagent that made the whole thing work.

Her new purchase wrapped up and stowed safely in her pack, Zenda stepped out into the street outside Slagbeard's shop, frowning slightly. She had no idea how to proceed from here. Or she hadn't... until Bato spoke up. She had almost forgotten the gnoll trailing around behind her on her futile journey.

"Smell that?" Bato sniffed deeply at the air and turned in place, trying to follow the odor.

"No." Zenda shook her head for a moment, baffled. Then she imagined she almost could smell something. It hung thick and unpleasant on the air, like the smell of rotting eggs or burning heretics. Very much like the smell that had lingered around Bram's destroyed powder horn. "Wait. Yes? Do you think you can follow it?"

Bato stopped turning and pointed himself directly towards a small alleyway that Zenda might have entirely missed if she hadn't been led around by the gnoll's nose. "This way."

She followed the pit fighter as he squeezed through the small streets, turning corners seemingly at random until they finally found themselves in front of a small stall. Now Zenda could smell it. There was no escaping the foul stench emanating from the cauldron in front of them. The decrepit woman stirring the pot smiled up at Bato, and flashed him a smile decidedly less toothy than his own. "You look like a hungry lad."

Bato turned to Zenda and shrugged. "You owe me lunch."

With nothing left to do, Zenda paid the woman for two bowlfuls (both for Bato), then stood a respectable distance away while the gnoll ate his food. Then together, they headed back to the Sighing Lady.

OOC
 

 
__________________
Back. Slowly catching up.

Characters: Del CorganIris KetteringCaleb ShawDeirdre VenteuseYrena
ZendaSquire GainsboroBaruuk TalonfaceKonstantin LumynMarisol d'Arabeth
Reply With Quote
  #59  
Old Jun 17th, 2021, 09:26 AM
Lazer's Avatar
Lazer Lazer is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Nov 30th, 2021
RPXP: 14016
Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer Lazer
Posts: 3,517
Knowing that Casmara could afford it and valued their mission, Azar simply nodded acknowledgement at the cost of passage. Five hundred gold was a sizeable fortune for most people, but to a slave who had spent much of her life around extreme wealth whilst not being able to hold any of it for herself, money was a very abstract concept. Azar only valued it as far as it would assist her in her mission, and since her current mission involved going to see the Sea Sage, she was willing to part with any reasonable amount of money which got her closer to that goal. But once again she was confronted with the realisation that she didn't know if the others would feel the same. In the past, any teams that she had to work in had a strict hierarchy, and usually Azar was at the bottom of it and didn't need to think about these kinds of things.

If this was what freedom meant, they could keep it!

Before the meal was finished Azar took a moment to send a secret message to each of her companions;

Izem Tariq is sending a package. It arrives tomorrow.


 

The captain had insisted on providing a cabin, which was far more comfortable than their campsites on the road. Despite the relative luxury Azar had slept fitfully and found herself up on deck as the sun was rising from the ocean. Somewhere out there warships prowled, led by a monstrous armoured creature which had watched untold generations of humanoids pass like waves lapping on a beach. How were they supposed to barter with such a being? What could they possibly offer it which it couldn't just take?

Casmara had been confident that it was eager for the knowledge that they carried, that it valued prophecy far more than even the Empire itself! Azar would have dismissed such words as sacrilege if they had come from anyone else, but Casmara had been the Sultana and had known Storros, perhaps as well as any of the fleeting mortals crawling on this world could.

Her ruminations were interrupted by a noise, and Azar turned to see Zenda descending the gangplank, soon followed by Batoyangi. Frowning she walked over to the gunwale to try to hear what they were saying, but they were away, heading into town on who-knew-what errand.

Was this a betrayal? Would those two bring back the town guards and collect whatever rewards were offered?

Azar's instinct was to play it safe, to get Khamyra and Nae'laa and flee the ship, to disappear before the inevitable happened. She took several deep breaths and calmed herself, thinking it through. Batoyangi would betray them in a heartbeat, she was sure, for nothing more than a hot meal, but Zenda? Something in the way the swordswoman carried herself made Azar think she had principles, of some sort. She had pride, certainly, and wouldn't that be enough to prevent her from selling out?

There was no way to know for sure. After several moments of consideration Azar decided on a course of action; she would wait and see what happened. If the errant duo returned on their own she could place more trust in them. If they brought enemies… well, then they would burn.


 

It took most of the day, but gradually Azar had gathered together what she needed. She had found several grades of paper, a rainbow of inks, a selection of pens and brushes, blotters, waxes, and various cunning tools to duplicate any seal you choose. She collected them all in a varnished walnut box, inlaid with mother-of-pearl swans. From the point-of-view of travellers, the Empire was a monstrous bureaucracy, with torrents of paperwork for every eventuality. Azar had generally been spared from dealing with that side of things, but she had witnessed it first-hand on many occasions, and her training had included meticulous details used to spot a forgery on almost any form. This experience would stand her in good stead should they need to establish a cover, but Azar worried about exactly what kind of cover would work for such a distinctive group. There was still time to make such decisions, so she put it out of her mind for now.

As she made the rounds of the shops she also picked up various provisions for the trip. Basic foodstuffs, mostly; vegetables, grains, a little cheese, some hardtack. She also invested in a selection of spices which she knew could make even the most mature provisions a little more palatable. On the way back to the ship she also picked up two more items, completely spur-of-the-moment; a live chicken for Batoyangi (should the gnoll prove not to be a traitor), and a book. She still didn't know what had come over her to buy such a thing, except she thought that she could perhaps read a little during the voyage. Why she had chosen The Many Robust Pages of Baroness Bressallia, though, that was a mystery. She had dared to peruse a few pages in the shop, and had been appalled at the attention given to descriptions of 'muscles as smooth and hard as a marble keystone', or 'ploughing a furrow with single-minded intensity'. It all just seemed so… pointless. And yet she found herself stuffing the book into her bag and covering it with a muslin, and then hurrying back to the ship as fast as her feet would carry her.

It was only when she was within sight of the dock that she remembered that she had to be wary of a trap, and also on the lookout for whatever 'gift' had been sent their way.

 

 
__________________
Current status: The weeks are passing me by just now with few opportunities to post. I'll try to catch up but I'm happy for my characters to be DMPC'd this month if necessary. Sorry!

Last edited by Lazer; Jun 17th, 2021 at 09:33 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #60  
Old Jun 18th, 2021, 03:13 AM
Strangemund's Avatar
Strangemund Strangemund is offline
Your Local Cryptid
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 4th, 2021
RPXP: 6407
Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund Strangemund
Posts: 1,270
A hot day in Candano...
right-aligned image
It was a hot day in Candano. Dry winds swept in from the sea, cut with sea salt and a sweltering heat that sucked the life out of the port city’s usually busy streets. Instead it was a ghost town that early morn. Stalls left unmanned and the docks eerily quiet as Candano’s people were where the oppressive heat couldn’t reach. In their homes, in their taverns, in the many colorful and exotic storefronts that peppered the spiraling center of the bay city. They stayed in the cool dark and dreamt of sweet summer rain until the siren song of gold yet unearned lured the first of many merchants out into the unrelenting sun. Then, slowly, life returned to Candano, bit by bit. People trickling in like sweat wrung from a fat merchant’s rag, and simmered in the sun-beaten streets all the same.

It was only an hour or two into the day. The shade still sparse in the open market. A luxury only a few managed to find while the morning sun beat down upon their sweat laden brows. Sweet reprieve from the suffocating heat was found beneath storefront hangovers and ships that cast shadows the size of giants from their towering wooden masts and flowing sails. Plenty of passersby stopped to bathe in the shade. Folks from all walks of life. Beggars and merchants, sailors and bakers, slavers and slaves. All stopped to cool themselves with air that didn’t sizzle in their lungs and burn their skin red, forgetting for a moment that they were not the same, that they were not made equal as the rising sun made fools of them all.

It would have been a real philosophical moment to point it out. A real moment of enlightenment that would have had them rethinking their whole lives. And had Kazimir caught them huddled together, basking in the shade like panting puppy dogs, he would have been the first one to do it. The first one to say something profound, something that would live in their hearts forever. Something like…


"All arses sweat the same at the end of a hot day."


Beautiful stuff that.

Postcard worthy even.

But alas, Kazimir was a creature of habit, and long before the sun decided to bully Candano into a heat stroke, he was already settled in the Twirled ‘Stache Barber and Gentleman’s Supply, busy losing at a game of Hnefatafl. Ground-breaking philosophies would just have to wait.

The Twirled ‘Stache Barber and Gentleman’s Supply was exactly what it said on the tin. It was a barbershop. A fine one at that with reasonably priced razors and shaving cream sold on the side in a cutesy little wicker bin. The building was squeezed between Fiddlestick’s Candle Emporium and a butcher’s shop called Red-Handed Pete, who was not in fact owned by a red-handed Pete, but a guy named Yavask that wasn’t red anywhere, but did have a particularly strangely yellowed big toe that he swore up and down was a sign of good fortune from the gods. All three joints were placed a nice distance away from the city’s dock. Not so close to the taverns that the sailors who’d been stuck at sea for months would trash the first night they were ashore, but close enough that plenty of sorry hungover sods would stop and stare at the windows that hazy morning after, and think to themselves, ’Aye, I could use a steak, a candle, and a haircut.’ Or so that’s what Kazimir assumed, as nothing about it made sense to him. But what did he know. He wasn’t a businessman. Or an architect. At least not today.

Regardless of its queer placement in the city, Kazimir rather liked The Twirled ‘Stache Barber and Gentleman’s Supply. Not for the haircuts, though, god no, but because it was the only place in Candano that he could play a proper game of Hnefatafl. Or more precisely, it was the only place in all the bloody Southlands where somebody knew what the game was at all. And that in itself was enough for Kazimir to wander through the barbershop’s open door every day of every week since he first landed in Candano, no matter what trouble dogged him the night before.

Hunched over the table the owner, Affer Kepp, dug out from his storage space, Kazimir’s brow was knitted into a hard line as he stared at the chess board in front of him. Little figures carved from stone were scattered across a square cut of board. It was patterned with a finely carved grid line. A 11x11 map. The wood polished to a proper shine that made the old Northman that Kazimir played with giggle with glee the first time he smoothed his wrinkled hands over its surface. White figures stood gallantly in the center. Their numbers dwindled down from twelve to five, with a kingly statue still centered proudly on the board while his slain men were cast into the instrument case Kazimir left open near his foot. In front of Kazimir and the Northman were a number of black figurines that slowly spread across the board as the game progressed.

Notably, Kazimir’s number of soldiers were fewer than the old Northman’s, which tickled the old man. Although nobody could see the twinkle in his eyes or the giddiness smile as a full heavy white crown of hair flowed down and around his wrinkled features, his face masked by a big and bountiful beard, and his hardened warrior gaze that kept all but Kazimir away was hidden beneath pair of cartoonishly caterpillared eyebrows.

The Northman mumbled something in the harsh language of the North, while his clawed, aged hand combed through his long, wispy beard that trailed halfway down to the floor.

Kazimir’s brow furrowed further. The temptation to smirk at the Northman’s brutal taunt was a strong one, but Kazimir’s desire to win was even stronger. So he snorted instead, drawing his tented fingers to his lips as he muttered in his broguish accent. "Oh that is all fine and good, Siegfried, my lad, but just so we are clear-- if ye die before I finish my turn, I still win by default."

Siegfried laughed hard and slapped his wobbly knee. His voice a pleasant growl on the barbers’ round ears as he added to Kazimir’s cutting retort with a rebuttal of his own. The Northern Tongue rolled off his withered lips with ease even the coarse language scraped at the eardrums of everyone but Kazimir.

His comment took Kazimir off-guard. The elf cut his slate grey eyes away from the board and to the old Northman, as he stared at him as if he’d grown a second head. "It is a real rule." He said as defensively as a man accused of murder, his hand thrown upon his chest in mock offense. "Trollheim rules, in fact, ye daft bastard. Real funny, innit, for someone who spends his golden years holed up in a lock shop, ye think they’d do somethin’ ‘bout all that bloody hair in yer ears. No offense, Affer." The barber paid Kazimir no mind. He was used to the elf. Or at least tolerated him, for Siegried’s sake. Kazimir hunched back down, his blue-stained fingertips dancing over the head of a knight to his left. "Rushin’ a man to battle is how ye lose the war, an’ I ain’t losin’ to ya again, ye shriveled up raisin." Kazimir said with all the affection he could muster in his crooked little soul.

He didn’t pay much attention to the conversations that went on in The Twirled ‘Stache Barber and Gentleman’s Supply. Mostly because he didn’t care about anyone but himself. But it was hard not to pick up the bits and pieces of what happened last night at the docks. It sounded like bad business to him. Some trade deals that gone wrong down near the pass, where patrolmen from the Empire didn’t bother to throw their weight around. But he couldn’t prove it any further than the watch could prove he had something to do with the missing keg of raspberry ale that vanished down Vern Way. All conjecture in the end. Nothing but talk. That’s all it was and ever will be.

Moving his knight forward, Kazimir paused and took a refreshing sip of raspberry ale from his hip flask. "’ere. Yer turn. Beat that, laddie."

As the Northman folded his arms in thought, it was then Kazimir noticed that Affer stopped cleaning to stare at him. Regarding him in a different light as talk of dragons and shape-shifters reminded Affer that Kazimir was more than just a nuisance that tipped well. He was an elf. A bonafide magical creature who, if the legends were true, stood defiant to those scaled beasts long ago.

Safe to say, Kazimir could feel his probing gaze. The way it drifted from his sharp elven ears to his ghostly palette. From the deep set scratches that scarred his eyes to the strangely bright colored garments he draped himself in. It was hard not to know what Affer was thinking, what everyone in Candano thought when he first showed up at the city’s docks:

What was an elf doing in the Southlands? Why wasn’t he frolicking in some flowered meadow and singing to the stars with all the other fair folk of the wilds? And more importantly, why wasn’t he elegant and graceful like the stories said? Why did his beauty feel more like the biting edge of a sharpened blade rather than the gentle breeze awash on a forested mountain-side?

Kazimir knew the answers to all those questions. How could he not when it was about his favorite subject: him. But that was the tricky thing about Kazimir; he was rarely inclined to tell the truth at all. Some considered it a serious flaw in his character, but for him? It was just plain good fun. A kind of story-telling, in its own right. Which was a real shame for Affer, because while Kazimir felt somewhat of a fondness for him, Kazimir felt his wicked nature stir when Affer finally worked up the courage to ask Kazimir what he thought about these strange stories.

"Tortoises." Kazimir stated matter-of-factly. Noting the confused expressions on Affer’s, the barbers’, and the patrons’ faces, Kazimir threw his leg over his lap, and pushed a pipe that was definitely not his between his lips. It was unlit, but he didn’t care. That wasn’t the point of the pipe. Not when it made him look all the more distinguished as he started to spin his tale. "Live on tiny lil’ isles out in the sea. Don’t eat nuthin’ but leaves an’ fruit. But for sailors, ooh, they are a real delicacy. Plump lil’ buggers ‘at make a heavenly stew. An’ they dun run away for nuthin’. Legs are too stubby for it. An’ swimmin, psha, out o’ the question. Mother Nature; she told ‘em they were only meant fer the land."


The less patient of the bunch piped up from the back. A young barber who barely shed his baby fat looked skeptically at the elf as he asked aloud. "So? What does that have to do with anything?"

It was times like these Kazimir wished he had a pair of specs to take off and wipe condescendingly onto his shirt. Instead he settled for a shake of his head, sharing a disappointed look with a befuddled patron. "Kids these days." Pointing his pipe at the young barber, Kazimir cooly and collectively said, "Everybody knows in the right circum-whatsits they explode. It is a scientific fact. All dem fruits an’ leaves inside ‘em don’t digest easy. It cooks in ‘em. Mixes up all together. Which isn’t a problem normally, ‘cuz they live on ‘em lil’ isles. But when the sailors take ‘em, it makes ‘em nervous, an’ agitated, an’ ‘em digestive juices start to bubble up until--"

He slammed his fist on the table. "BOOM! The roof’s gone, the ship’s sinkin’, and ye have yerself some burnt up floaters." Satisfied with his answer, Kazimir lounged back in his seat, arms propped behind his head as he watched the gears turn in his little audience’s head.

Affer was the first to speak up. Blinking his sweet innocent eyes at Kazimir as he repeated, slowly, "Tortoises?" and looked more lost than ever when Kazimir "innocently" nodded his head in return.

The slovenly patron was less impressed. He snorted defiantly at Kazimir and crinkled his nose like he could smell the crock the elf stepped in. "And you say tortoises are the cause of all that ruckus down by the docks? That tortoises killed at least three men and left them burnt to ribbons?" The man huffed hotly. "What a load of…"

"Ah, ah, ah…" Kazimir waved a finger. "Never said I was against the idea of dragons, my good man. Ye downright handsome fellow. It is just I know there’s a tortoise smugglin’ ring in town. I reported it to the watch, but you know…" Kazimir sunk sullenly into his seat, and not-so-subtly dragged his thumb over the pointed edge of his ear. "...not everybody likes to hear the wisdom o’ the fair folk. A cruel world we live in, aye? To turn a blind eye to somethin’ we dun understand ‘cuz o’ it is queerness. But what can ye do. I am just an elf." Kazimir sniffed, tucking his pipe away as though something in the room suddenly soured his delicate palette.

The man turned a soft shade of red. His cheeks flushed and his ears three shades darker but Kazimir turned away before he could catch his dirty glare. His own attention turned to the busy streets of Candano. To the thoughts of dragons walking the sun-bleached stones that paved the sunny city’s roads. He never met a dragon before. Not in the hundred years he walked this earth. But he always heard the stories. Of cities overthrown by their vast Empire, of long nights that stretched into the morning as ash thick as storm clouds blotted out the sun. Of the fires that razed mountains to deserts. Death followed the winged beasts. It followed them like it followed every cataclysm unleashed by the gods. And yet Kazimir knew more stories still that revered them as makers of the world, cast from their golden thrones by the very creatures they raised up.

Kazimir didn’t know what to think about that nonsense, if he was honest about it. Stories were like lies, after all, twisted by the teller to fit whatever narrative they sought to sell to their wide-eyed audience. And Kazimir was no fool. He didn’t buy into what he didn’t know, not without seeing it himself. Still, he couldn’t deny that there was something dangerous about it all. About dragons. Maybe because he saw the signs of war upon them. Felt it with the growing rise of refuges that poured into every port Kazimir wandered into. He wondered how long it would take before Candano was turned into another decrypt battlefield. He wondered how many would remember it was even a place decades from now.

He’d like to think he’d remember, but sometimes, when he slept, and the Song came to him, he wondered that maybe, just maybe, that the end was truly--

"That’s a bloody big dog," Kazimir blurted out, his concentration broken by the sight of a surly beast that bounded down a ship’s gangplank. It must have stood at least eight feet tall, maybe more as it hunched over to speak with… "Fire and spit. Look at her." Kazimir sat up straight in his seat, and scanned that tall drink of water that walked right out of his dreams. Red hair, strong legs, looked like she could literally kill him-- maybe that mischievous devil was finally taking pity on his favorite servant to put her in his sorry life.

He watched the two gesture back and forth in front of a fairly big ship that Kazimir didn’t recognize. it must have come into port recently. Maybe a day or two ago. The minotaurs that manned it were a curious sight. Not uncommon around these parts but it was still strange to see they took on passengers like, well, them. He wondered if they were a circus act. He hoped so. Candano could use a little more excitement. Well, besides mysterious burnt up bodies floating up from the sea.

Kazimir leaned back and around the open door to watch the two vanish into the crowd. The temptation to run after Red there and ask for a drink had him real torn, as he hadn't seen anyone half as gorgeous as her in the Southlands for months. Well, other than that sea witch he met down in Grippa. A real card, that one. They probably could have made it work, too, had she not tried to carve out his liver. Old loves’ aside, though, Kazimir decided against chasing tall, dark, and deadly down. Even though she was sweet as a dream, he just couldn’t shake the feeling that her large and toothy shadow was going to make it hard for him to get close enough to show her the ole Kazimir charm.

"Bahhh…" He tossed the thought of her out of his head with a swat of his hand. "If it were meant to be, the fates will make it so…" The Northman muttered again, and as Kazimir tilted his head to look at him, Kazimir froze at the game piece Siegfried moved across the board. With a click, he knocked another of Kazimir’s soldiers out of the fight, much to the elf’s dismay. He swore softly as he swiveled back in his seat. His hand buried in his short strip of red hair as he tried to figure out how exactly the Northman got the drop on his right-hand mate. Then with a defeated snort, he slumped back in his chair, chin buried in his hands. "This just ain’t my day, is it."

It was then a hooded figure popped their head in The Twirled ‘Stache’s Barber and Gentleman’s Supply's door, and assured Kazimir with a single message he was right.

It wasn't his day.

As the Scarlet Blade, the scourge of the East Side of Candano, wanted to speak with him.

And she wanted to speak to him, right now.




It was no stretch of the truth to say Kazimir and the Scarlet Blade weren’t exactly on good terms. They hadn't been for weeks, due to, uh, 'reasons', and the gaudy hookah den she invited him to made it especially apparent, as the well-armed, well-muscled, (weirdly) well-oiled guards that surrounded her burned a hole straight through Kazimir the moment he stepped through its beaded front door. He shifted uncomfortably in the oversized velvet pillow the Scarlet Blade’s servants laid out for his arrival. Kazimir doing a poor job of hiding how much he hated the bloody velvet sand trap. The cushion too big and too fluffy for his tastes, and it threatened to swallow him whole the moment he let his guard down.

Not that the Scarlet Blade cared. She sat comfortably in her throne of pillows, draped in the finest silks her blood money could buy. A fearsome minotaur woman. Tall as she was broad and covered head to toe in scars. Kazimir tried to count them the first time they met but he stopped somewhere around forty, when she tried to count his. The golden clawed glove she wore on her right hand glimmered in the lowlight of the hookah den. Clicking softly against the wine glass she cradled close to her snout. Click. Click. Click. It made Kazimir shift more. His discomfort only growing as he'd been here for a solid minute and yet she still hadn’t said anything to him yet. The silence terribly deafening, especially for a man who loved to talk like he did. But Kazimir knew trouble was on the horizon. It was an instinctual feeling, like when a rat knew a cat was right around the corner.

He just didn't know what exactly he did to earn her ire, not until she finally said:

"You haven’t paid your dues, Kazimir. It is the 20th. Where’s. my. money."

 

__________________
Status: *Dabs*
DMing: And the Devil Dances Beneath a Mosaic Sky
Characters: Thunder in the Morning - Harp Strum - Captain Tavosh - Kazimir

Last edited by Strangemund; Jun 19th, 2021 at 12:11 PM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:48 PM.
Skin by Birched, making use of original art by paiute.(© 2009-2012)


RPG Crossing, Copyright ©2003 - 2021, RPG Crossing Inc; powered by vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Template-Modifications by TMB