Closed Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Among the whores, thieves, and murderers... is a serial killer.

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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kynier on January 7th, 2019, 10:36 pm

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28th of Winter, 518 A.V.


19th Bell





Shadows had begun their dance across the city as the domain of their matron drew near. Syna was laying down on the horizon to submit the sky to her lover. The citizens of Sunberth were still active, rushing to markets and vendors before they closed, or trekking across town for a rendezvous. The shadows shifted and moved with them throughout the city, chattering in the secret language that only a few blessed mortals understood. Kynier walked through the streets of Baroque Bay, performing a routine check with those willing to answer his questions for a few silvers. The shadows moved unnaturally as they felt his approach, and a few attempted to speak to him, for it had been some time since they had last communicated with a Nightstalker.

He slowed his pace, greeted them, and asked of their names. But he was feeling tired and wished to check with his last informant while the Nightstalker still knew where to find him. Kynier promised the shadows that he would come back and speak with them later. Some shadows elected to follow while the rest bid him farewell. He made his way towards the harbor to find Old Wayd to hear of any interesting developments that may have happened during the few days it had been since he last spoke to him.

At the end of an alley that overlooked the busier section of the harbor, Kynier saw the old beggar. Immediately, he knew that something was amiss. The shaggy old man wasn’t settled and peacefully watching the sea as he usually did. Instead, he was upright and pacing quickly. Hands and arms were moving, relocating, unable to comfortably settle. Kynier paused and watched the old beggar continue for a moment. Something had Old Wayd agitated. Letting out a sigh in preparation, Kynier approached the old sailor.

“Wayd,” he called out to get the man’s attention. The beggar stopped and whipped his gray-maned head in the direction of Kynier’s voice. Old Wayd ceased his pacing and approached Kynier with a brisk walk that bordered on breaking out into a run. The swiftness of the man coming closer nearly startled the Nightstalker. The real surprise was how the old beggar grasped the upper section of Kynier’s dark green vest with both hands.

“Where the petch have you been?” he nearly yelled directly at Kynier’s face, shaking the younger man slightly with his white-knuckled hold. “I’ve been needing to talk to you for days!” The look in the old beggar’s eyes was a mixture of fury and sadness. Kynier took a handful of the beggar’s shirt and straightened his arm to avoid being shaken any further. Despite the man’s age, he still retained a decent fraction of a crewman’s strength in his lean frame.

“Wayd,” Kynier said with some force in his voice, “stop yelling, and let go of me.” Old Wayd looked down at his own hands for an instant to realize what it was that he was doing. When he let go, so did Kynier, and he stepped back a few paces. The man’s hands ran through his long gray hair restlessly. “What’s the matter Wayd?” he asked with a more soothing tone than he’d normally use when talking to the beggar. “If what you needed to say to me was urgent, then why didn’t you spread the word to some of the others so that I’d come sooner? I’ve been trying to get all of you to communicate more for this exact reason.”

The beggar took his hands from his head and they became fists. “It… uh… it wasn’t that urgent until a few bells ago!” The frustration was still prominent in the man’s voice. “You gotta come with me! I… I can’t really explain otherwise.” Kynier sighed through his lips, knowing that whatever it was it wasn’t going to be over with quickly. The Nightstalker waved a hand.

“Alright. Show me.” The beggar turned to lead Kynier into the less traveled backroads of Baroque Bay. His pace was a clear indication that he wanted to run but refrained from doing so. As they crossed on of the more significant roads of the district to enter another alley, Kynier spoke up. “At least tell me what this is about while we’re going… wherever it is that we’re going.” Old Wayd was taking him towards the edge of the district along the Mudway.

“Someone’s killing people.” Kynier groaned a little.

“This is sunberth, Wayd,” he said a bit exasperated, “’Someone is killing people’ is practically a daily occurrence here.” The beggar stopped and faced Kynier abruptly. Kynier was startled by the man’s expression and nearly walked right into him. The man’s face was turning red as his lips were pursed tightly under all the facial hair. The beggar was taking a deep inhale through the nose as though he were holding himself back from something.

“Someone… is killing a lot of people. And a few bells ago… they killed someone I liked,” his voice was firm, matter of fact annoyance. An instant of silence passed before the beggar turned around and led on. Kynier closed his mouth and decided to not say another word until they got to wherever they were going. And only a few chimes later, Old Wayd stopped at the edge of an alley off a main road in Baroque Bay. Kynier noticed a body not even ten feet deep into the alley. Old Wayd stood transfixed and stared at the body. All the restless energy he had gone in an instant.

“Is that your friend?” Kynier asked softly. Old Wayd nodded twice with barely any movement. The Nightstalker stepped around him to approach the body. It was a boy, probably no older than fourteen in human appearance. The boy was gaunt, filthy, and unkempt. Kynier squatted down by the body and found his eyes taken by the boy’s expression. Utter terror had peeled the eyes wide, though the pale dead face bore no sign of pain or a scream.

“I want you to find however did this,” the old beggar said softly. Kynier looked up at the man. “And I want you to kill them for me.”


Last edited by Kynier on January 19th, 2019, 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on January 8th, 2019, 6:52 am

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“You aren’t the only one that wants whomever did this to die.” The Nightstalker said softly, stepping literally out of a shadow behind the old man.

One moment there was no one and nothing but a deep shadow behind Old Wayd, and then suddenly a slim form materialized in the space behind him. She nodded to the two men as she moved around the beggar, squatting next to the body opposite of where the other man was. Kelski had never seen the two men before, but she could feel the Akajia mark on the one she thought was younger. That alone had given her the confidence to approach.

She reached out a hand, touching the body, feeling for its core temperature. Though stiff and seemingly cold, the boy was still slightly warm deeper down, as if he had died no longer than two or maybe three bells ago. She sniffed, but smelled nothing but death. She took a deep breath, centered herself and gently tapped her core, drawing from the well inside her and looked with her magesight. The Kelvic scanned the body, then glanced quickly at the two men. The body, dead, showed no emotion and had nothing but a dull almost residual aura… nothing more spectacular than a stone or a puddle of water might have.

The older one, the beggar, looked as she suspected any human would look; normal with the colors of his emotions – fear, sorrow, rage – lighting up his aura. The younger one she studied further, honing in on the flare of his gnosis mark in aura right around vicinity to her own and anything on him that might have lit up to indicate anything other than mundane.

Kelski turned her vision outward, scanning the area as well, looking for anything that might be amiss. Nothing in the general scene gave any clues or fostered any hope that this body would be any different than the other ones.

“Baroque Bay isn’t normally the center of this type of attention. Tent City? Yes. But its more civilized here. There’s something bigger going on. Something more dangerous. A friend came to me two days ago and told me people were dying and that she only foresaw more deaths. Whomever is doing this is killing two or three a night. That’s a lot of people for this area.” Kelski said, lifting her head up and studying the two men standing there.

“You want them caught, dead even, and I get that. You want this man to do it for you. I get that too. But it seems to me that the people that don’t actually appreciate death in their back yard should work together to stop it. I’m willing to share what I know if you both are willing to share what you know in return.” The Kelvic said, rising to her full height now.

Kelski was dressed in black leather pants, boots that were soft and silent of the same color, and a tight tank top that left her forearms and neck bare. The winter hadn’t been cold, so Kelski wore no coat or cloak. She’d been moving too fast in her hunt to bother with one. There was a slicker in her backpack if the rain started up again. Her hair was bound up in a complicated braid – a technique that Anja had been slowly teaching her – and she wore a bandolier of daggers across her chest. A crossbow was deconstructed and strapped to one side of a light backpack. A quiver of bolts and arrows was tied to the other side. Nothing on her gave off any gleam or shine, as if every bit of metal on her had been blackened. The only thing that gave her away in the darkness was the paleness of her arms, neck, and face.

“I’m Kelski. And I have a vested interest in stopping this person because I live in this area.” She said, in way of introduction. “I too was asked to look into this. Maybe we could work together.” The Kelvic said, glancing at both men. She had no idea who they were, but the fact that one had an Akajia Mark went a long way with her. She knew too, like herself, he could sense her own marks.

“I know you are a follower of the Night Mother, or at least marked by Her. Believe me and my sincerity in this. I want to help.” Kelski said to the other Nightstalker, speaking in Makath. The two men had seemingly let her examine the corpse. And she’d already visited one other earlier in the evening. After a quick cursory exam in the darkness, there was nothing remarkable and seemingly no difference in the way they’d died. The bodies had no wounds. The only clue each and every one of them had was the wide terror-stricken eyes that lingered even after death.

Regardless, caution made her take a step back now that her exam was done, toe edged in a shadow. Another step back and she could vanish, be across the Mudway into another deep shadow cast by a building back lit glowing windows, if they made any threatening moves. She had no idea if the men were open to help, but she would offer. If they refused, she’d move on with her investigation, slowly gathering information for Mosa who spent more time at The Gem than she did in Tent City and had been having card readings come up over and over again regarding a monstrous killer loose in Baroque Bay.

What Kelski knew was that it wasn’t native. Whatever or whomever it was, had come off a ship which is why it hadn’t moved far from the docks. And the other thing she knew or thought she knew was that it wasn’t human. The Kelvic hoped these two men had more information, additional clues, that she could put in with what she knew and start trying to track the killer and find out who or what it was.
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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kynier on January 10th, 2019, 8:28 pm

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DAH-valis’ tits!” the old beggar jumped and exclaimed when the other Nightstalker appeared behind him. Kynier looked up and felt the air in his lungs freeze. Kelski. As she approached the body, Kynier’s spine straightened a bit. He hadn’t seen her since before he left and had been doing what he could to avoid running into her again. It was inevitable that their paths would cross. Akajia’s will could only be denied for so long. Still, he had been trying to evade the well-deserved fury that she must have for him. So, when she hardly gave him a glance, he was suspicious.

“Where the petch did she come from?” Old Wayd said once he had regained his composure. Kynier ignored the man and instead watched what it was that she was doing. Checking the temperature of the body with a hand, then staring at it for a long while. When her gaze turned on Old Wayd Kynier arched an eyebrow.

Was she…?

Then the steel gray eyes fell upon him. Not with the fury he expected, but with cautious curiosity. His brow furrowed, and his eyes squinted ever so slightly at her as she did. His aura was its usual array of amethyst hues with the deep sapphires of apprehension foremost among his emotions. Confusion blossomed to replace apprehension as she studied his aura. Then her gaze swept the area critically. Something was different about her.

Kelski spoke, more to herself at first, then shared how a friend had told her about the bodies. Mosa from the sound of it. When she challenged Old Wayd to participate in the search for the culprit, the old man stammered for a moment. “Well, when you say it that way…” he finally managed to spit out. When she refered to Kynier as “this man,” he arched an eyebrow. It was so detached and didn’t even have a disdainful undertone. When she stood to her full height, Kynier remained down by the body. She introduced herself and mentioned how Baroque Bay was her home.

“I’m Marvis,” the old beggar said. “And this is…” he said holding out a hand to indicate Kynier, who was staring up at him.

“Kynier,” he said with an even tone. It was more for Marvis than for Kelski. She knew who he was even if she pretended that she didn’t and wasn’t infuriated with him. But when she spoke to him in Makath, he was truly and utterly baffled. Of course, she knew! Why would she say that? The Night Goddess had Favored her only moments before marking him. Kelski had witnessed it. What was going on? He spoke softly even for the Makath language, “I do believe you. Thank you.”

Marvis was shifting his eyes between the two of them suspiciously before settling his eyes on Kynier. “Do you think we can trust her?” he said as though she wasn’t standing right there. Kynier gave the old man a glare for a response.

“I’m still not convinced I can trust you, Wayd,” he said with only a little sarcasm. The older man gave a false laugh to the remark. Kynier turned his attention back to Kelski. “I’m just learning about this whole situation and can only offer what I see here.” Looking back at Old Wayd pointedly, he continued. “Marvis here, could tell us more probably.” The beggar shifted uncomfortably.

“Well, I didn’t know that there were that many each night. And, I don’t understand at all how these people are being killed. The only thing that I can say for sure is that… the people I knew about… all of them were what you’d call ‘vulnerable’.” Kynier looked at the man with his brow drawn together.

“What do you mean ‘vulnerable’?” Marvix shrugged and raised his hands a little with the gesture.

“You know… new to the streets. Hadn’t made a strong claim to a location to beg from. Perhaps a little naïve to how dangerous it is too. People that had no one but themselves to rely on.”

Kynier thought over what the man said. “And no one has died like this outside of Baroque Bay?” He asked both Kelski and Marvis. The old man shook his head and claimed to not be aware of them if there were. The younger Nightstalker took a single waddling step towards the body. He took the shirt off the boy and rolled him onto his back. The pale skin was devoid of blemishes or bruises. No cuts broke the skin either. Kynier rolled the head onto either side to examine the neck. It had no markings either. After that, he rolled the body onto its stomach, only to find no mysterious injuries on the back either.

Still squatting, he rested an elbow on a knee and took a deep breath to sigh with as a finger rested under his lower lip. The breath was a calming one that he did before conjuring his Djed to open his Sight. As the auras came into view, Kynier examined them. Nothing of note came from the residual aura and he saw no traces at the scene either. More of his effort was spent looking at everything except the body. No blood trails or anything. After a chime of looking, he cut of the flow of Djed and closed his Sight. “It’s as though he just died, for no physical reason.” He commented aloud.

Kynier stood up and crossed his arms. “Only ‘vulnerable’ people… and only in Baroque Bay. But why Baroque Bay? If none of them had anyone they could rely on for protection, then they most likely weren’t involved with any of the gangs. But Baroque Bay isn’t the only district that is unclaimed territory in the political landscape. So why is it being focused here?” After a moment’s thought a strange idea struck him. “Perhaps those responsible also live here.” His gaze turned to Kelski. “Do you know where each of the bodies have been left? If we can map out where the killer has been, we could better guess where they’re going to be.” That is if the killer didn’t decide to branch out further.

He looked down at his forearms and realized that he wasn’t properly equipped for a hunt. While he always wore the dark green vest with its hidden pockets, and both his cold iron blades hung visibly on his belt, he wasn’t wearing any of his piecemail armor, nor the leather armor he owned. All of it was still stowed away into the magic pack that hung on his back. Kynier wasn’t sure how much assistance it would provide, since the body had no signs of injury.

The Nightstalker looked to the Favored, “Is there anything else that you already know about all this?”


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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on January 19th, 2019, 3:11 am

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“It’s nice to meet you, Marvis. Kynier.” She said, nodding to each equally as they introduced themselves. She studied the two men, glancing at the body, then nodding at Kynier once more as he answered her in Makath. An eyebrow was raised as Marvis asked Kynier if he thought he could trust her. She also noted Kynier’s evasive answer.

“It’s Sunberth. You’d be stupid in trusting anyone.” She said simply, not really caring if either of them trusted her or not. She simply wanted information and they’d either give it or not give it depending on their moods and mindsets. Sunberthians were all the same. Had she offered coin, the ‘trust’ might have been a little more forthcoming. Coin bought a lot of things around the city. She just wasn’t willing to pay for information. Nightstalkers didn’t exchange coin for information… either to buy it or sell it. The Nightmother’s beliefs were firm in that regard.

The old man started talking though, regardless of his ultimate decision on her trustworthiness, and Kelski listened closely paying attention to the details he offered. What Marvis said didn’t make a lot of sense to Kelski. “Vulnerable?” She questioned it herself, even as Kynier did.

“How do people get new to the streets in Sunberth? There isn’t much travel into the city and the rich stay rich and don’t fall to the level of the poor. They die, though, sometimes…” She said, tilting her head and questioning the old man. Were people developing levels of poor suddenly? How did they get new to the streets? Most everyone in Sunberth lived on the streets, transient into and out of ruined houses, squatting or living in Tent City. Almost no one bought actual homes. Kelski’s mind was whirling, trying to piece together what she knew with what Marvis was saying.

“No, no deaths outside of the Bay according to my information. Plenty die outside of Baroque Bay, but not like this… not without… obvious wounds on seemingly healthy people.” Kelski clarified. Then she watched Kynier examine the body more closely. It was as the others had looked like. The Kelvic watched the other Nightstalker grow quiet, focused, and guessed he was looking with other forms of sight. She nodded at his last finding.

“I might know of why in regards to Baroque Bay. I was told it wasn’t… native to Sunberth. That odds are this killer came off a ship and is hunting here. The person that brought this to my attention before even the first body was found thought someone was stalking the bay… carving out a territory. And as the available prey grow smaller, its territory will grow larger.” She said simply, not sure how much she should reveal. Kelski truthfully didn’t know much. But she knew a little more if she trusted Mosa’s sight.

At Kynier’s question, Kelski stepped forward and looked at the other Nighstalker. Studying him a moment, she suddenly had the thought that he liked maps… a lot. Kelski wasn’t sure where she got that idea, but she could probably recreate a decent one of Baroque Bay since she overflew it every morning. She moved slightly to the side, took a knee on soft earth, and sketched a fairly reasonable map of the bay from the air with her finger. Once it was done, she began to indicate all the places she knew bodies had been found. She knew six places in all.

She touched the beach outside of The Gem more than once, but offered a suggestion as to why there were two there. “I think these were tossed into the Mudway further upstream… this location gets a lot of flotsam and has washed up bodies before. Mostly from upstream. If we tossed this body in here, it would likely end up on that stretch of beach as well if no sharks ate it before then. So who knows where those two were killed. They looked the same as this, only with the signs of a body being in the water a bit… and the creatures that go along with that.” The Kelvic said, surveying the map to see if there was anything she missed. Most of the kills were concentrated around the docks. The one they were at seemed to be the furthest one out… also the freshest.

She said as much. “It looks like this is the newest and furthest out.” The woman said, looking thoughtful and wondering how much else she should say.

“My source is a Fortune Teller. I believe her sight is good and that she is gifted at seeing things. She lead me to this place tonight, and to other bodies yesterday. I’ve only been looking into this for that long. Well placed questions and favors have given me the rest of the knowledge of the bodies… plus seeing for myself the ones on the beach. But I thought nothing of it as bodies are not uncommon.” She added, flipping her thick braid back over her shoulder as it slid forward and tried to brush the dirt.

Kelski rose back up, surveyed the map from a standing position, and cleared her throat once more. She absently rested a hand on the small of her back as if it were cupping something invisible.. like the hilt of a dagger, and began to stroke the unseen item thoughtfully.

“Yes… there is something else. My source says that whatever this is, its not human. She doesn’t know what it is and I did ask her, but she simply said that its not killing for sport… but for food.” The Nightstalker said, her voice soft, hesitant, as if this above everything she suspected they would not believe.

“It’s important we find it. I don’t think it will stop.” She added, looking wistfully at the map. The deaths were all around her home. It made her feel surrounded. And she knew her family was in danger. “I have family here. I don’t want them to be something’s food.” She added, looking up to meet first Kynier then Marvis’ eyes.


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They laugh at me because I am different.
I laugh at them because they are all the same.


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Kelski
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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kynier on January 24th, 2019, 3:45 am

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Yes, that was true. But Kynier looked at Kelski as his mind wandered back to nearly a year ago. Sometimes trust needed to be given without justification. It was a way to being able to truly test another person. And there were only two possible outcomes to such daring actions. They fail and break your trust. Usually through a fault that you could not have foreseen or had turned a blind eye to. Or, they prove worth trusting. And something unexpected comes from knowing they are a trustworthy person.

Kelski was trustworthy. Kynier…

Marvis looked at Kelski and gave a dry laugh. “In Sunberth, change can happen like,” he snapped his fingers in an emphasizing manner. “Some manage to find an old place that they can sleep in. Something that gives a little protection from the cold or the wet.” The old man’s gaze slowly shifted between the Nightstalkers as he continued. “But no one person can claim it. They make alliances with others of similar circumstances. Things change and alliances break. Someone can’t go to a place they usually sought for protection.” He looked at Kelski in a pointed manner. “So, they wander the streets. New streets. For someplace else that they might feel safe being. Even if its only for one night.”

Marvis took a deep inhaling through the nose before sighing as he looked at the boy on the ground. “That’s what happened to Sern. He used to be part of a small group out of the Western Heights. Something happened and he only said that he couldn’t go back there anymore. He became a new face to the streets of Baroque Bay. I gave him a few pieces of advice on how to live… less painfully in the Bay.” The old beggar went quiet as he continued to stare at the corpse.

Kynier scratched at his jawline in thought after Kelski confirmed that these unusual deaths were only taking place in Baroque Bay. After his examination, he rolled the body back onto its back. The head shifted over to stare blankly at the sky. To his surprise, Kelski was able to offer a possibility, if not a real answer, to why the deaths were localized. As he listened to her, he wondered how it was that she could’ve possibly discovered this in only a few days. Either way, it was a very reasonable explanation. Until they discovered something that would contradict it, Kynier was going to consider it as fact.

As her fingers traced an outline of the district in the dirt, Kynier’s eyes took in each graceful movement. He wanted to move closer, to get a better view of the drawing she made, but he was too nervous to get closer to her physically. This level of calm she was demonstrating was not what he expected on their first meeting since he left the Midnight Gem. And frankly, it was unnerving. Had she decided to shout, scream, or even assault him, he would’ve not been surprised. But if she wasn’t going to say anything about it, he wouldn’t either.

He did stand up to look at the finished map she had made. Marvis also took a step forward and the two humans listened to her explanation behind the two bodies that were discovered on the beach. That alone made Kynier wonder about something else. He looked down at Sern’s body again. The boy wasn’t small nor large for a human. So, why hadn’t his body been dumped in the Mudway as well? Why hadn’t the others been cast into the water? Then he looked at the locations of the other bodies. They were fairly clustered around the harbor. “Hmm.” He said to himself as he crossed his arms. “I was wondering why only two of them have been cast into the water. From the looks of it though, trying to dump a body into the river or into the bay wouldn’t be done discreetly.”

Mosa had set her on this then. That explained why it had come to her attention so quickly. Kelski’s feeling towards humans were strong and took an understandable tilt towards distrust. The Fortune Teller was one of the few he could think of that could make Kelski concerned about the deaths of human’s she didn’t know. As the Favored explained more about the perpetrator, Kynier looked down at the body again. Marvis scoffed loudly in disbelief.

“Food?” the beggar asked incredulously. “How could it be hunting them for food when not one of them is missing so much as a finger or a toe? What’s it eating?” The same thought was crossing Kynier’s mind, but he had kept it silently to himself as she stared at the corpse. His gaze locked on that shocked expression that gaze blankly at the sky. “If it’s hunting them for food, then why is there no sign of injury?” Kynier’s eyes drifted to Sern’s lips, which were parted ever so slightly. “No outward sign?” he asked quietly as he knelt down by the body again. Kynier gripped the boy’s jaw and opened it up wider. With Nightstalker vision, he was able to see the inside of the boy’s mouth pretty well. It was full of dried blood that had gathered at the back of the throat. And something was missing.

“His tongue has been cut out.” He looked up at Kelski first, then Marvis. “That’s… not what I’d imagine a predator going for.” The old beggar had a look of disgust as he seemed to be processing the new information. While they now knew what the killer might be eating, it didn’t offer any explanation to how Sern and the others ended up this way. Kynier turned his gaze back to Kelski as he continued to kneel by the corpse. “So, it’s not human. And, if its feeding on people’s tongues, it is very likely that it recently entered the city like you said. Otherwise, bodies like Sern here would’ve been turning up for a long while now.”

His eyes went back to Kelski’s map. “So then, where could it be staying? Apart from abandoned buildings, there are very few places someone can actually live in Baroque Bay.” Kynier turned to look at Old Wayd. “The Drunken Fish offers rooms. Do you think you could find out if someone… or something… has recently taken a room?” The old beggar nodded his head a few times.

“I could ask Manowar. It doesn’t take much to get that fellow talking. But what if it’s not staying at the Drunken Fish?” Kynier looked at the map again and shifted closer to it. He intently considered the locations of each location that Kelski had marked. A finger reached out and lightly made a circle that encompassed all the bodies except for the two outside the Midnight Gem’s property line. “Then, it is likely taking refuge in an abandoned structure towards the middle of this circle. Unless it is sleeping on one of the ships.” He looked up at the Favored again. “I find it difficult to believe that something like this could stay on a ship and not draw attention to itself. I think it may be hiding.”

To her other comment about wanting to protect her family, he understood. Kynier lightly nodded his understanding in response. She always had been protective. “Then we should start searching right away. Wayd,” he said turning to the beggar. “Go talk to Manowar. See if anyone has attempted to get a room for an extended stay at there. Kelski and I can begin searching through abandoned structures.” The beggar gave a nod, then a quick glance to the Kelvic.

“Where should I go to find you after I’ve finished at the Drunken Fish?” Instinctually, Kynier almost pointed at the Midnight Gem’s position. But he refrained from doing so. The fewer that gave attention to the place, the better. Kynier looked at the map carefully. It would take the beggar… what… a bell or two? Kynier wondered how many locations they could search in that time.

“We’ll meet you at your usual place just outside of the harbor.” Marvis nodded again in agreement. Kynier turned to Kelski. “What do you think of this plan?”


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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on January 26th, 2019, 4:33 pm

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Kelski noticed that Kynier looking at her and wondered what he was thinking. The man didn’t look like he was present in the now. She wondered if his mind often wandered, as she scanned the scene one more time, wondering what she missed. There had to be something here, more information; something that made all the killing make sense. But it was so hard to understand the minds of others. It was so hard to know what was driving them.

Marvis interrupted her scan with his dry laugh and explanation of changes in life that happened in Sunberth. It wasn’t so much a fall or rise from situations in and out of various diverse social classes as were present in other cities. These were lateral moves and displacements within the poor that happened daily. Kelski had never given such things a thought. She didn’t know about life on the streets or how one could loose ones home that fast and that suddenly.

The Kelvic nodded, glancing at the body once more. Sern. It was so much easier when they had no names. Death was more anonymous when no one knew the person dead. But she could see Marvis’ pain and understood the reason she’d stumbled upon him imploring the other Nightstalker to investigate. Friendship. Even love. Even among the poor such things occurred. Kelski looked on, thinking even though the human was dead how lucky he was he had enjoyed people that cared for him.

“Thank you. I think I understand now.” She said, nodding to Marvis at his explanation.

Kynier’s motion and then rolling the body back over had her watching him curiously. There was so much familiar about the other Nightstalker, but she was sure she would have remembered meeting him. She spoke of Mosa’s information and shook her head annoyed that everything she knew was based on speculation. They needed fact.

Her map was no real help, but it made her feel like she was doing something even as she sketched out the outline. It helped her to internally put what she knew together, which was an important step, because it was beginning to form a picture. Glancing up from her work, she met Kynier’s eyes and saw wariness in them. She wasn’t sure why that was, why he’d be so cautious of her, but then again it was Sunberth. She’d offered no threat, only information to the two men, in hopes of an equal exchange.

“He’s been dead a while…” Kelski said in response to Kynier’s question. “But maybe the kills were interrupted and the predator had no time to dispose of the bodies.” She said, wondering speculatively at her own word choice. “That means there might be a witness… but it could also mean that the people fled towards the water, thinking for some reason the Mudway would save them…. what would water save someone from? Fire?” She asked, curiously, but saw no signs of anything burnt. And surely fire would draw more attention. No. “Seems further away from what would be real than closer….” She added, as if dismissing her own theory.

“Someone has to know something… or have seen something.” She insisted again. “We’re always watched out here. Always.” The Kelvic affirmed, and glanced at the two men.

“There’s more to men than just the flesh they wear in terms of food.” Kelski said cryptically. But again her thought process changed course when Kynier said the boys tongue was missing. Had the other bodies lacked tongues? Kelski hadn’t noticed. It hadn’t occurred to her to open their mouths. She was thinking more of blood or djed or even vague stories Gilthas had told her of things that fed off emotion.

She nodded approvingly at the idea of Marvis questioning the Drunken Fish folks to see if anyone there saw anything strange take a room there. “Abandoned structures is a good thought, but I wouldn’t rule out ships either. I wouldn’t even rule out the underground. There are several entrances that I know of around here. I’ve been slowly exploring them and mapping them with a friend.” She said thoughtfully, tilting her head birdlike and studying the map again.

No ideas came to her. “The obvious course would be to search, as Marvis is doing, rule out the abandoned buildings and maybe the underground. And watch for more... always watch. It’s a good plan.” She said, knowing the truth of it. It was the best situation they could come up with after their painful lack of information. It could be what Mosa was saying, or it could be a gang war and anything in between.

The cryptic ‘usual place’ didn’t bother Kelski. She didn’t know where that was, but she assumed she’d stick with Kynier long enough for a quick search and a reunion with Marvis to follow up with what was found.

When Marvis had left, Kelski whirled around her with an air of authority Kynier might have rarely seen. Shadows had gathered and the Favored quietly dispatched them like a Commander, sending each off to spread out about the Bay, watching and lurking with promises of returning to her if they spotted anything unusual. The shadows seemed glad to do it. This was information. This was something their Night Mother would take an interest in… not the deaths, but the unusual thing stalking the Baroque Bay.

Kelski glanced back down at the map and shook her head. “Start from the docks and work out? Or would you rather start outwards and work in towards the docks?” She asked, knowing her preference was to start at what was the epicenter and move outwards. “I think it would be smarter to work outwards from the docks, but I’ll go along with what you want. There are a lot of abandoned and ruined docks down there, a few boathouses, and just up the beach there are fishing shacks all but in ruins. Then there are buildings with tall foundations. We found and chased a bunch of squatters from the land just up the Mudway from the jewelry store towards the end of last season when we started clearing it and have had to move people off every since. I imagine all the abandoned structures have similar situations. We might even find more bodies.” Kelski said, then tilted her head.

“I didn’t know there was another Nightstalker in the area. I would have introduced myself long before now had I known. How long have you been in Sunberth? I haven’t sensed another mark that I can remember in a long time.” She said conversationally as she waited for him to gesture to head towards the docks or fan out from here and start searching inward. Her face held only curiosity and there was no sense of deception in her.

While he was deciding, she unslung the crossbow and began to put it together before she hung it back on the side of her backpack where it rode a bit more awkwardly but could now come to her hand easily. She unfastened a sheath of bolts and refastened them to her thigh were she could pull them easily enough for rapid fire.

“Ready?” She asked, wanting them both on the move.
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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kynier on January 31st, 2019, 11:55 pm

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Fingers scratched at the underside of his jaw as he considered Kelski’s observation. “I hadn’t considered that,” he admitted. Besides a fire he couldn’t think of a particular reason why someone would deliberately run to the water. When she added the dismissal of her own theory, he turned his gaze back to her. That was a habit of hers, self-doubt. But they didn’t know anything for certain and they shouldn’t dismiss any possibilities just because they couldn’t think of an explanation. “Hey,” he said in Makath to get her attention. The words that followed were in common though.

“There are several reasons why someone would run to the Mudway. The dead could have thought they could use it to escape. Or they had taken some drug and were hallucinating about fire and that’s why only a few of them were close to the water. Or… the predator had been moving the bodies and got tired. The truth is that we don’t know. And we shouldn’t dismiss any ideas until we know something for certain that disproves it.” He spoke to reassure her and dismiss her self-doubting but could only speculate if he was successful doing so.

An urge to chuckle to her following remark in amusement was suppressed by the morbid seriousness of the situation. And he only had the urge to do so because of the abilities Akajia had bestowed upon him. Without them, he wouldn’t have understood enough to find it amusing. Shadows were aplenty, though not all of them were forthcoming with information. They weren’t the only ones that could offer information either. People saw more than they knew, many of them simply chose to ignore it. Sunberth had a talent for dissuading someone from meddling in something that wasn’t their business. “Someone likely does know something,” he agreed, “the challenge is discovering who it is that knows something.”

Marvis spoke again, “I can approach as many of the other people on the street as I can on my way to the Drunken Fish. Let them know about the bodies, and that someone,” he said with a nodding indication to both Nightstalkers, “is doing something about it.”

“That is a good idea. If there is fewer prey to hunt, the hunter might make a mistake.” It seemed logical. If that didn’t work, then they would have at least made people more aware of the danger. Wayd left them now that they had a plan of action. Shadows swarmed the alley in response to the Sea Eagle and the air was filled with the Makath tongue. The younger Nightstalker watched in amazement as she dispatched them to be on the look out for the mysterious killer. Once they were all gone, the two of them were standing over the map which had become the focus of their attention again.

Kynier had been thinking of starting close to the center of the circle he had drawn and working towards the docks. That way they could have searched all the buildings while Old Wayd figured out how whether the Drunken Fish was where they needed to go. But as he listened to her suggestion about doing the opposite, he changed his mind. And he said as much. “I was thinking of out and moving to the docks. But we should eliminate all those structures in the harbor first as you suggested. It would be a better organized search that way too. While we’re down there, we should ask around about ships. The ship this hunter came in on likely arrived a few days before the bodies started getting noticed. And if they’re living on the ship then it’s probably still docked.”

He knelt down and marked a couple of spots with an ‘X’. They were at the edges of the buildings that over looked the harbor. “Should we get separated, these places are where Old Wayd can usually be found. He likes being at the end of an alley with a good view over the harbor.” He stood back up and met her gaze. For an instant, the whole situation was forgotten as old emotions wanted to flood back to him. Emotions he stamped down as he averted his eyes. Then she asked… questions that she already knew the answers to. It brought his gaze back to her with a stoic confusion.

She… forgot?

He examined her body language quickly. Kelski was tense in the way one was with a stranger. But her expression bore no firm hatred or welling of emotions that sought to explode from her. Nothing to indicate the emotions she should be having towards him. What happened to her? “I… I’ve been in Sunberth for a few years. But I’ve only been a Nightstalker since this most recent Summer.” Kynier watched for a second as she readied her crossbow. Following her lead to get better prepared, he undid one shoulder strap of his pack and reached into it. He pulled out the steel greaves and began wrapping his shins with them.

When she asked if he was ready, he gave a nod and started walking towards the harbor. As they did, he reached into the pack again and pulled out the steel vambraces one at a time to strap to his forearms. It gave him a reason to be silent for a few moments as he thought about things. Most of his thoughts were not actually focused on finding the mysterious killer. “As far as I know, there are no other Nightstalkers in Sunberth. Akajia may feel that she only needs the two of us here.” While he still had his doubts about his own status, he remembered that the two of them were replaceable. How the goddess could have others take over the tasks she bestowed upon them.

“I have recently been attempting to… be less involved with other people. To keep to myself when not trying to discover what’s being kept hidden in the city. He gave Kelski a sideways glance. All the questions he wanted to ask her where those that he couldn’t. How she was doing, where the others at the Midnight Gem faring well, and more. But… she was behaving like she didn’t know him, and it did not seem to be a ruse. Questions that strangers would ask, he already knew the answers to.

“’Night Mother’. That’s an unusual way to address our goddess. I’ve not even heard an Akalak refer to her as such.” He tightened the second vambrace to his forearm and closed his pack. Unless they stopped, he couldn’t adorn the rest of his battle equipment. Yet, there was no evidence that he’d even need what he had applied. “It makes it sound as though your relationship to her is much more personal than most who gain her favor.” It was an observation and devoid of envy. Kynier wasn’t like some people he’d met. Seeking in desperation for multiple favors from the divine. There were a select few that he revered, and if they gave him notice he’d feel honored. But he was no sycophant for the sake of power.

It did not take them long to get to the harbor. When they did, Kynier took towards the northern coast to view the boat houses and shacks that dotted the shores. Which ones were abandoned, and which ones weren’t, was difficult to tell from their outward appearance. Unless there were sailors moving in an out of them. He continued to the last structure that he saw on the shore. As they approached, he drew the cold iron short sword, Glister, from its sheath. Kynier suppressed the blade’s enchantment to change color as they approached the closed door. When he grabbed the handle to open it, it refused to budge.

“Locked,” he commented. He leaned his weapon against the side of the building as he knelt down to be eye-level with the lock. From his vest, he withdrew his lock-picking tools. First, he inserted the pick as far as it could go then tested the number of tumblers the lock had. Two clicks… unless he missed a third one. Kynier inserted the straight metal pick to push against the back of the lock as the other pushed up against the tumblers. There was a chime or two of struggling with it. Though it was a fairly simple lock he was not very experienced. Keeping his frustration under control, the lock eventually twisted and clicked.

Kynier stood back up and stowed away his tools before taking up his short sword again. With his free hand, he gripped the handle as he set his back against the building. He looked to Kelski and spoke in Makath. “Ready?” When she responded he would pull open the door suddenly and stay out of the way so that she could have a clear shot inside with her crossbow. When she moved inside, he would follow suit, moving on the balls of his feet and with his legs parted slightly wider to keep from making noise. If Kelski moved left or right, he would guard her back against the opposite direction.


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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on February 2nd, 2019, 4:23 pm

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Her head jerked up and she met his gaze when he uttered the singular word in Makath. She was so unused to hearing a non-shadow use the language that it startled her. She listened to his words and nodded thoughtfully. “You are right. At this point, anything could be possible. Maybe its better we don’t dismiss any possibilities.” She said softly, glancing away from him and scanning the area once more. It seemed to be a habit she picked up, keeping her eyes roaming the scene around her as if she were expecting trouble and wanted to see it coming.

“Getting people to talk is hard. Getting them to volunteer information is nearly impossible. I’m glad you two were willing to work with me.” She said abruptly, even as Marvis set off. Kelski tilted her head in thought then stopped the old man at the last moment. “Wait a moment, Marvis.” She thought of the date it was today, when the killings started, and how many bodies there were. “Ask those people you know… the Manowar man maybe or sailors you know… about ships that came in between the twentieth and the twenty second… somewhere in there. See if anyone remembers any. The killings started the twenty second, which could have been when the ship touched dock, but I bet whatever is doing this waited at least overnight or longer before it started hunting so that would put it docking on the twentieth or twenty-first. It would need time to look around, find a place to stay, get settled… like Kynier said.” She added, speculating but it was the best she could do.

Then she nodded him on his way when he agreed to ask the question as well in his other snooping.

Turning to Kynier again, she looked thoughtful. “We can do it either way or split up and cover more ground searching individually.” She said, glancing down at the impromptu map they’d made in the earth. Kelski noted in her mind the places Kynier X’d as being hangouts for Old Wayde. It sounded like the man had a sensible head on his shoulders when he picked out spots to linger. Kelski truly didn’t want to split up because whatever was killing wasn’t killing in the normal fashion and was more than likely dangerous. Two pairs of eyes, four sets of weapons… all made for better odds against something so prone to murder. But she wasn’t afraid to strike out on her own if necessary. The truth is she wanted to give the other Nightstalker an excuse to leave if he wanted. Kelski figured he’d see her as a burden, even when she intended not to be one.

“Thank you.” She said, gesturing to the X’s. “I didn’t know the man and had no clue where his usual spots were.” The woman was polite, friendly, but not in the least familiar. Her eyes flashed with surprise, the silver of her gaze flooding with curiosity when she saw something in his eyes a moment. He broke his gaze off, and she wondered if somehow the whole search wasn’t personal. “You… did you know any of the victims?” She asked cautiously. Maybe she’d imagined the intense flood of emotion in his eyes. But Kelski was astute. She was sure she saw something. If he was emotionally invested, he might endanger both of them. So she watched carefully, then heard what else he had to say.

Kelski nodded at his explanation of being in the city a few years. “I’ve been here a full year now as of this season. It’s went fast. I only just realized it has been a year recently. I don’t think I’ve ever sensed another Nightstalker here, even passing through. So I do think you are right. We’re the only ones here.” She said, referring to those marked by Akajia.

“That might be a smart way to be.” Kelski said, misinterpreting what he meant. She figured he refereed to some affiliations he might have held with gangs or any number of the groups found in Sunberth. “The gangs are so unstable and they turn on each other so much. I don’t blame anyone that wants to keep clear of obligations. It’s definitely good for self-preservation.” She said with a quiet smile.

“I find gathering like minds helpful, myself. My Master is trying to bring back some old traditions where like-minded people can gather together for strength outside of the gang structure. Sometimes things like Guilds can be used to subtly counter the gangs. They are mainly strong if they are used for knowledge sharing and situational support. He’s been teaching me about the Guild Systems that… ma… craftsman used to fall under before the Valterrian happened. They had these halls… co-owned by everyone in the guild… and they had meetings there, social gatherings, places where knowledge was shared, and even a healer for the guild that had a few rooms if members needed to stay overnight. The Guilds could take on all kinds of jobs together. People could go to them for help and they’d sometimes collect bounties.. things like that. And there were even apprenticeships available for people that qualified.” Kelski said casually. Truthfully Kynier had looked uncomfortable and Kelski had just wanted to give him something to think on instead of whatever was causing that flash of distraction in his gaze.

Kynier’s question surprised her because it came from someone who followed Akajia. “Isn’t that what she is? At least to me and to a lot of creatures...” Kelski responded, referring to Akajia’s Night Mother status. “All the creatures of the night belong to her. Not just the shadows, but the things that sleep beyond Syna’s light and make the night their waking home. She nurtures them, guards them, shelters them in her darkness or provides them the cover to carry on their lives within. What else does a Mother do? She loves them all deeply.” Kelski said firmly, in response to Kynier’s question. “And when I speak to her, I always call her Night Mother.” Kelski added, looking thoughtful. Akajia was truly the closest mother figure she’d ever had. And while that might have seemed sad to others, to Kelski she had zero complaints about Akajia’s influence in her life. She was very devoted to her patroness; loyal and obedient.

“Akajia is not the only Goddess or God I follow. I have strong ties to Semele and Xhyvas as well. I have been studying Sylir because we live in this place so devoid of his influence. My Master thinks I should be paying attention to Zulrav’s voice also, though he is new to me. I’ve been a creature of the sky all my life, but did not know there was a God of the Winds.” She remarked absently, scanning the area again. She’d not really stopped scanning since Kynier had met up with her over the first body. She was always watchful, aware, and expecting trouble.

In the end, they’d decided to start at the harbor and the smattering of buildings that included boathouses and sheds. Normally Kelski wouldn’t mind the doors or walls if structures had windows. If she could see in, she could get in, but in Sunberth windows were a vulnerability and something people avoided on such things. She waited for Kynier to break in using strange devices she’d never seen, and held her crossbow at ready. She dutifully also tapped her well, pulled djed and shifted her gaze into magesight. She’d been practicing maneuvering with the vision, blending it with her own sharp eagles view. Gilthas had tasked her to practice her morphing on low light and infravision changes in her eyes since Eagles were diurnal. But it had proved harder than she thought to shift her eyes to adjust to such things. Eyes that could view lowlight and infravision had unusual structures that she’d studied, but moving and functioning beyond simply staring under the transformation had proven hard. Luckily her Nightstalker status gave her better lowlight vision than she should be allowed.

Between that and her magesight, all Kelski saw diving for cover in the structure was a bunch of rather large rats that looked like they might be part Brat. She scanned the area in the doorway, shook her head, and blinked… her eyes shining with the djed driven power within them. “It’s clear. There’s nothing here but rats and brats.” Kelski whispered from the doorway, studying the small structure’s internal space.” After a moment, she sighed. “This is going to take a long time.” She said, nodding to the next building. They need to move on. If they were going to show any progress, they had to be methodical and keep moving.

This building only had three walls, the third was leaning up against what looked like a rotting boat that could be seen just inside its walls. It was ironic the inside was holding the outside up. They were actually doing Kynier’s preference of starting out – working in – pattern here at the harbor… but the method would work well to eliminate all the small buildings, sheds, and perhaps even some of the further in cottages.

“It’s frustrating not knowing what we are looking for.” She whispered in Makath. Then paused, shadows gathering around them, and quietly questioned the newcomers. “Have any of you seen anything strange here? We are seeking a killer.” She added, carefully and quietly in Makath explaining to the creatures why the two Nightstalkers were there.

A particularly large shadow moved forward, separating itself from the others and causing an odd angled half-wall near them to lengthen unnaturally as it approached. “Death walks here. It walks all of the bay. It hungers for something, tearing out the tongues of those that dare cry out. But it feeds on more than flesh. It feeds on power.” The shadow said. Others whispered agreements, though the details were sketchy. They were not forthcoming, which indicated to Kelski that they didn’t know much. Shadows were fickle things… they observed all, but often didn’t process what they observed unless someone tuned them into it.

“Watch please… watch well. This creature is of interest to us.” She said as the shadows scattered, then waited giving Kynier time to check into the building with three walls. She’d wait as backup, since he had no need to pick a lock. The row of buildings was all over the place… some strong, some falling down, some of stone, some of wood… it was ramshackle, like the rest of Sunberth. Nothing matched, nothing belonged together.

Kelski continued to scan the area, switching as rapidly as she could from her Nightstalker tendencies to magesight to normal vision. Tapping the well for auristics was easier and easier. The practice was good for her. She could do it now almost as instinctual as blinking, but once the vision was raised, there was a struggle in determining what she saw still. The area was threaded with activity, glowing with the auras and fading auras of life. Emotions were everywhere... and sensations that read in auras like hunger and fear. Kelski was getting better at recognizing these things. It still took concentration and effort, but the execution was easier. There were people here, as she picked up, but less than normal. They lounged about in the shadows, some of them obviously drunk or wasted from drugs, tucked into corners sleeping or staked out in empty sheds that no one seemed to own but the homeless.

They moved from building to building together, taking turns opening doors and invading privacy. More than once they ran into quick trysts, outside the bars mainly, though Kelski did accidentally interrupt one mugging though she did nothing to stop it. Sunberth was Sunberth and full of predators. Muggers weren’t what they were after this night. When the fishing shacks and storage sheds were completely searched, they decided to walk each dock, looking carefully.

“I don’t know what we are looking for…” She said again, glancing at the man she’d partnered up with for this adventure. Frustration was laced across her voice. Kelski wasn’t patient on the best of days but this was worse yet. They were doing something, but the actions seemed empty. How could they find a liar of a predator they knew nothing about? She dug a toe into the gravel, angry, when a soft voice interrupted both Nightstalkers.

It was the bigger shadow, from earlier, that had stepped forward between the first and second boathouse. It did a shadow’s version of clearing its throat and getting the pair’s attention. “Nightstalkers……” It started, its voice deep and old, male perhaps, though in Makath Kelski couldn’t tell. “Nightstalkers… I have news…. death walks. It’s feeding behind the place men fight. There were two deaths in the ring this evening. Fresh bodies were left for the caretaker of Dira. It sniffs about them, eager…. you should go see.” Kelski glanced at Kynier a moment, eyebrows rising. Place men fight? Wasn’t that all over Sunberth?

Then she thought of Krieg and Tall Johnny’s. Her face went pale.

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They laugh at me because I am different.
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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kynier on February 8th, 2019, 2:26 am

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Marvis gave a nod in response to her thanks when he was about to start on his way. To her addition about how difficult it was convincing people to talk, he smiled wide enough to make his eyes squint. “If you want to get someone to talk, fair lass, you need to learn what it is they want. Then they’d be willing to trade for what you want. And I,” he said as he started walking backwards down the alley, “learned long ago what sort of ales and liquors are Manowar’s favorites.” He paused when Kelski asked that he investigate what ships arrived between the twentieth and twenty-first of the season. The man tilted his head back a little as his eyes up and to the side. “I know just the right people to ask about that. Leave it to me.” Then he beggar turned a left.

Kynier shook his head once in a very small gesture when Kelski asked him about his relationship to the victims. “No. I only just learned about this situation during the last bell. This boy was someone that I did not know, and I don’t even know the faces of the other victims.” It was possible that he had met one of them. But he held no serious ties to many of the people he spoke to for information, except for Old Wayd. The beggar was a reliable informant and tonight showed that the old man wasn’t as self-centered as he led people to believe.

Kynier forced himself to push past his emotions for the Favored and pushed the conversation on. It was a little surprising to hear that it was a year ago that she had come to Sunberth. It was difficult to think that all the things Kelski had experienced in Sunberth had only been in the last year. For some reason, he thought that she had been in Sunberth for longer than that.

When she gave some agreement to his statement of being more reclusive, he gave her a sideways glance. Kelski associated his statement to gang affiliations. While that was more than partially true to his situation, he wondered if that’s how she saw him right now. Then she made a slight smile which infected his own lips to form one like it. But then he turned his head forward and forced a straight face. It had to have caught her attention, for she talked about something that didn’t sound gang related initially. Kynier listened intently to what she was saying and was caught by several words she used.

He glanced over just to be sure that there was no collar on her neck. Not that he believed someone could survive putting one on her now, but her word choice had been interesting. “You say ‘Master’, does that mean that you’ve taken an apprenticeship under someone?” What new skill she could be pursuing was something he couldn’t guess. Her talents as a Jeweler exceeded everything else that he had seen in Sunberth. “The concept of a Guild makes sense. Having a network of people with various talents that you could refer to would be able to keep people from taking deals or jobs they don’t want, but need, out of necessity.”

“Although, I do question the idea of the co-ownership feature in Sunberth. Most of the people can’t afford the combination of food and shelter. Practically speaking, one or two people would have to own it, while other members pay a seasonal or yearly fee. Then after a time, when they have enough funding saved, the organization itself can pay for a new location, rather than a few members or leaders paying for it from their own pockets.” Kynier took a few steps beside her in silence. “This Guild that your Master wants to reinitiate, exactly what sorts of people would he be expecting for membership?” His guess would be craftsmen. Trying to set up some sort of consortium of people with trade skills to offer better services for less.

Her response about the name she used for the goddess of night seemed practical. Kynier gave a thoughtful, “Hmm,” after her explanation. “There is sound logic in that. But your connection to her is much stronger than my own. I revere and cherish Akajia and the blessings she has given me. Since being marked, I have noticed the ways in which she has affected my life. But I’ve worshipped her for most of my life and cannot say that I’ve ever felt that intensity of love for her.” He would never say it out loud, but he was paranoid of failing the goddess. His last interaction with the divine being had not gone well. Rather than dwell on it, Kynier listened as Kelski continued.

Zulrav he was familiar with, especially after last season. The others that she mentioned, Semele and Xhyvas, he hadn’t heard of. Sylir he was aware of due to his time in Syliras. As he walked beside her, his eyes settled on Kelski with a gaze of marvel. How she could get excited when discovering something new and relevant to her life was something that always had made him smile. Despite his efforts, that smile revealed itself now. “That is quite the assortment of divine to pray to,” he said with a little amusement in his voice. “Please don’t feel that I’m trying to mock. It’s just… there have been very few people I’ve ever met that show reverence to more than two or three gods and goddesses.”

“Apart from the Night Goddess, I give devotion to Eyris for wisdom. Leth, for clarity and self-reflection. And there is another that I recently became aware of that I’m curious to learn more about. Qalaya. Have you ever heard of her?” Kynier waited for his response before continuing. “I suspect that there are many gods and goddess that I don’t know about. My curiosity makes me want to learn at least a little more about them.” A moment passed between words. “I… am not familiar with Xhyvas, or Semele. At some time, would you be willing to tell me about them?” Kynier’s words were softer than normal, and he mentally scolded himself immediately after asking the questions. Why had he done that?

At the first structure, Kelski only stepped partway through the doorway. Kynier turned his gaze to view the area around them as she scanned the interior. While he had not expected to have been so lucky, it would’ve been nice to have found at least a clue. He went to the next building that the Sea Eagle had indicated. While he heard her complaint about not knowing what they were searching for, he did not comment. Kynier stopped when he heard the shadow communing. When it had left he held her gaze for a moment. “Sometimes, not knowing what you’re looking for is the best way to find it,” he said with his softer voice.

Then he turned to go into the decrepit… shed? With a breath, he brought forth his Sight to help him scan the interior. A multitude of auras filled his vision, yet all of them were weak and belonging to the tools stored within. Even the vermin seemed to have taken an aversion to the place. As he moved through it, there was no sounds of scuttling feet. When he reached the other side, he lowered his short sword that he had been holding at the ready. When he came out, he only had a shake of his head to give for an update.

As awkward as it was to intrude upon the hook-ups of others, Kynier gave them little regard. He didn’t witness the mugging until the very end, when the thief was making his exit. It was too late for him to intervene, but he looked questioningly at Kelski. Why had she not come to the person’s aid? Had she grown that cold? Kynier did not say anything about it, though his eyes likely betrayed a hint to his thoughts.

When she voiced her frustration, he stopped to meet her gaze. They had been moving through the buildings for at least a bell. Kynier had not kept a close track to be able to say precisely how long they had been at it. He very nearly voiced his experience about how revelations were not easily made. What stopped him was that he remembered that Kelski had been trying to discover the secret behind the killings for a few days now. While it was unfortunate that she was frustrated, the Sea Eagle had the right to be. “I can keep searching if you’d rather…”

That’s when the shadow interrupted to say where the killer was. Kynier thought over its words to understand where it was that the shadow was talking about. “The place men fight,” he said turning to Kelski. “That sounds like Tall Johnny’s.” The only other place he could think of was the Blood Pit, but that wasn’t in Baroque Bay. At the sight of Kelski’s expression, Kynier fell off his trail of thought. She was afraid for some reason, or for someone. “Common,” he said as he set off at a run. With a flick of his wrist, he reversed the grip on his short sword so that the blade rested against his forearm as he ran.

Tall Johnny’s wasn’t very far from where they were. While the urge to arrive as quickly as possible was present in his mind, Kynier kept himself from going into a full sprint. He didn’t want to arrive face-to-face with a killer and be out of breath. Unless Kelski abandoned caution for speed. Then he would sprint to keep up with her. When they were outside the front of the building, Kynier came to a stop and called out to her. “Kelski, wait!” He took two heavy breaths and hoped that she stopped. “You go around to the back from the left, and I will go around on the right. We can trap this thing in between us that way.” Before they decided on a course of action, Kynier reinstated his Sight and focused on Kelski’s aura to be able to vaguely track her.

Kynier ran around the right-hand side of the building. Each time he came to a corner, he slowed down and peeked around. When he reached the back, he set himself against the wall of the building and looked around the corner to where the shadows had said the bodies had been left. In the dim light, Kynier was only able to see a figure moving about a couple of bodies. It was clothed like a regular person except the clothing was long and loose. Its limbs were extremely lanky, and it moved around in more of a wide stance waddle. The thing crept over to one of the bodies and rolled one around single-handedly. Then it lowered itself so that its face nearly touched the dead fighter’s.

Delving further into his Djed, Kynier applied his focus to the strange thing that the shadows had led them to. The thing’s aura was not as strong as a normal person’s. It failed to reach out as far and the colors of it resembled a decomposing apple. Sensations flooded him immediately. From the being, he felt hunger and unstoppable. To traces of worry, but still a presence of caution. But there was a single dark fleck of color that mixed with the aura that drew his eye. It was centered on the being’s neck in a stylized pattern he couldn’t quite make out. Once Kynier looked at it his heart began to race and the urge to flee arose from nowhere. A near paralytic unease struck him at his core. While he did not release his focus on the aura, Kynier pulled his head back to set himself against the building and almost immediately felt better.

The loss of control of his breathing had gone unnoticed. Kynier took several ticks filling his lungs deeply to restore calm. What was that? With one last calming breath, he dared to look again. The creature still supporting itself directly above one of the corpses. Their auras were still bleeding out Djed. Then something happened that he couldn’t quite see. Something with its face changed before it made contact with one of the corpses. The hunger he felt began to dissipate and Kynier felt a surge of energy course through his body. The muscles of his body tightened in response and restless energy welled up, demanding to be expended. “It’s… getting stronger,” he whispered.

While he didn’t know what it was, or what could harm it, there wasn’t time to wait. Feeding was making the creature noticeably stronger and quickly. Kynier removed his focus from the creature but kept an attachment to Kelski’s aura. As he stepped around the corner, he drew his other short sword and moved towards the thing in a slight crouch. Moving on the balls of his feet only. As the distance to his target shrank a loud suckling noise became more apparent. Slightly distracted by the sound, Kynier accidentally rubbed against the wall of the building. The steel plate of his vambrace generated a high pitched scrape for half of an instant.

The creature snapped its head up, tearing dead flesh away from its feast. Kynier’s eyes widened at the sight. The face was feminine with solid dark gold eyes staring at him. It’s jaw was split at the middle and the mandibles spanned out from the face like wings as the upper lip was peeled back. On the edge of its disturbingly long tongue were pincers with a humanoid tongue pierced between them. The tendril coiled back and inserted the tongue down to its gullet as the winged mandibles came back together to form a jaw. The dark gold of the eyes contracted to cat like slits. What looked like a long haired, slender woman crawled across the ground and with unexpected speed in Kynier’s direction.

As she drew closer, what looked like numerous scars ran vertically along her face and neck. An elaborate tattoo rested on the side of her neck. She growled from deep within her throat. Kynier stood up and held out one short sword in warning. One that the creature ignored as it pounced at him. He tried to shift to the side in avoidance but wasn’t fast enough. The creature partially struck him and they both went to the ground separately. It had felt like getting hit by a boulder and he was certain it was going to leave an intense bruise. As he fell on his back, the creature landed on its side and quickly rolled over onto all fours, turning to snarl at the Nigthstalker.


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Deadly Pursuits (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on February 17th, 2019, 11:34 pm

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Kelski smiled at Old Wayd as he walked away, acknowledging his parting words.

“Life is always about learning….” She responded to his earlier question finally. “I will be a lifelong learner… someone always seeking new avenues of knowledge and new skills. My life will be far shorter than others, so I don’t want to waste what I have been given, especially in this place where even those who have long lives tend to have them cut short.” Kelski said, almost absently, her mind back in Baroque Bay. “If an opportunity arises where someone willing to teach presents themselves, I’m going to accept their offer and learn. I’ve come to know that apprenticeships often bring new life to those that think they’ve learned it all and can’t go any further, breaking them out of stagnation. I have found always found joy in learning new things.” Kelski answered quietly, still scanning the area. She held still without holding still, her eyes always moving. She turned then, glancing back at Kynier, and he caught something in her eyes… a softening of joy, an appreciation for something that hadn’t been there moments ago.

“Master is a misleading word in this city. Mentor is perhaps a better one. I simply honor a level of skill. I myself am a Master though I have no slaves or apprentices.” She said with a laugh, as if such things were not in her cards. Then Kelski gathered the night about her and had he not been another Nightstalker, she might have slipped away without him noticing. Instead, she remained, shadows subtly swarming around her. The Sea Eagle did not talk to them, not yet, for there was more to say.

She snorted at his comment about co-ownership. “With the right people, there is no question of something working out. It would. When you have a vested interest in something like ownership, you tend to take care of it and be protective of it. Just because Sunberth has a greed and power driven mindset, doesn’t mean everyone here has to adapt it as their own. Too much lip service is paid to the wrong thing here, while people quietly hope for the right thing. Do the right thing, be an example, and things will change.” She said firmly, shaking her head. “I have come to know there are as many good people here as bad, even humans, if you just give them a chance – a full belly, and a few coins in their pockets.” Kelski claimed, tossing her head suddenly, as if unable to be part of the stillness of the night any longer.

Her answer to his next question was without hesitation. “Strong people, Kynier. People that aren’t solitary and selfish minded. A Guild of the type we think we can manifest would work for anyone who has an interest in being a caretaker, teacher, or even a protector type mindset; one that has the ambition to promote growth and security. The money will come. They don’t have to have it to own it. Alone, here, one finds it hard to thrive. It’s not impossible, but it’s a way of living I would not envy. There is strength in weaving strong ties of friendship and love. I’ve seen such talent on the streets as well. Children of all sorts lost, abandoned, sold away for lives that will be short and abused. A Guild would help them also. We can’t raise them all, but we could carry some of them into the future – the gifted ones who were more vulnerable than most. I have time… extra time. And so too do others. It would give me a great deal of satisfaction to answer someone’s call to aid in a situation not of my own making but one where my presence could make a difference. That is what being in a Guild has to offer.” She said softly, her face lighting up.

“Maybe it means nothing to you, but I want to be needed… to be important in ways that makes real changes in people’s lives… that enrich their existences. It’s not a way for everyone, but I am utterly on board with this project.” She said firmly, her eyes shining with conviction.

His words about Akajia surprised her, though she didn’t agree or disagree to her connection with Akajia being strong. “That surprises me that you say that. I find Her very easy to love. She’s watched over me a long time… and I respect Her Will. I look to them for guidance, The Gods, and often they give it. You just have to be open to see it… their wisdom is all around us.” Kelski bit back a laugh. “Sometimes they only see us as tools and use us. That has happened to me as well. But I’ve never came out worse for it, in the end. I think they need us as much as we need them. I have witnessed too much divine pain to think otherwise.” Kelski admitted, lifting a hand to her head and tucking a stray strand of hair that had gotten loose from her braided hair back into place.

Kelski listened to his list of The Divine he followed and nodded at his reasoning. “Yes, Qalaya writes. She has ties to memory and words. My Mentor often speaks of her, for he loves his books and his memories. He is a Dreamwalker. They can roam the memories of anyone they wish and read them like books… dead or alive. I should like to be able to do that someday. Or perhaps not, for I would be too busy dreaming in Nysel’s arms to wake up… to many memories to watch.” Kelski said softly, then smiled at Kynier’s next question. “Certainly. Semele is the earth beneath our feet. She was once one of the most powerful Goddesses alive. She was gravely wounded during the Valterrian. Her realm is gemstones and earth. Mages who work with such things often revere her. So, to do Jewelers.” She said with a grin, though she’d not told him what she did for a living.

“Xhyvas is more complex. He has a story that is fantastical, one that would take a long time to explain. His realm is one of Transcendence, rising above one’s state of being, going beyond and further than people expect you to go. I seemed to have caught his attention somehow. He is the God of Possibilities… an incredibly useful person to know.” She said with a grin, but shook her head. “He would come in handy here… with this.” She said, shaking her head slightly and glancing around. “But there will be time later… hopefully… to talk of such things.” The Sea Eagle added, having turned abruptly, coming face to face with the big shadow and its news.

She listened intently.

“Tall Johnnys. Dear Gods, Kreig is there.” Kelski said abruptly, worried suddenly, as she increased her pace, turning away from the next shed they were going to search and instead facing a side street that would lead them on a direct course to the building in question. She was glad Kynier took off at a light jog, and the Kelvic kept pace with him in the darkness. She too pulled weapons as they ran, fitting things into place on her that he might not notice in his own forward motion. Ear cuffs went on, a bracelet slipped into place from a different pocket, and a dagger as dark as night ended up on her hands.

She halted when he did, not winded yet, and faced him… urgency written all over her face. She melded into the shadows almost instantly, the moment they halted, and if he hadn’t been looking right at her he would have failed to track her completely even with his vision. At his command, she nodded, darting left and vanished into the nearest shadow. She circled Tall Johnny’s carefully, moving shadow to shadow, never stepping out into the open and never crossing any light at all. Deep inside a shadow, she paused, sheathed pitch. She got busy pulling her crossbow out of where it was held against her backpack, fully assembled and loaded it. Thrusting a foot through the stirrup, she cocked it, leveled it, and traveled two more shadows closer, paralleling Kynier until she came up alongside him.

She heard his whisper and wondered how he knew the creature was growing stronger, but did not wait. Instead, she leveled the crossbow, fired, and planted a bolt dead center of the woman’s chest… missing the head she’d been aiming at. Stepping aside, loosing herself in another shadow, she reloaded as Kynier and the creature engaged. Kelski was lucky the creature didn’t remain on Kynier when the creature rolled him. The Kelvic would have never taken a second shot had the feminine creature remained on her companion. But since they both fell separate, and the woman rolled over onto all fours, Kelski took a chance and another shot.

The Kelvic was inexperienced, but she didn’t trust her daggers until she knew the thickness of the woman’s hide. Arrows were extremely damaging and a crossbow was deadly especially at close range. Unfortunately the creature saw her step out of the shadow to take her shot almost on top of the struggling pair, and ducked low causing Kelski’s bolt to slam into the ground where the creatures head had been moments ago.

The Sea Eagle swore, dropped her crossbow because it was useless unless she wanted to use it as a club. Instead, she drew Pitch, stepped forward, and covered Kynier’s back letting him take the next move now that she’d wounded the creature. Kelski hadn’t used auristics and didn’t know what Kynier knew through what he’d seen of the beast’s aura.

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They laugh at me because I am different.
I laugh at them because they are all the same.


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Kelski
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