Closed Caged Profits (Matthew)

Kaie recruits Matthew's talents for a darker task.

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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Kaie on April 7th, 2015, 11:56 pm

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The business with Matthew was sealed, but there was still much to be done. Lantern light flickered upon the walls. Only the shine of Leth illuminated the world outside, with the twinkling of stars above providing a hopeful contrast against the dreary world below. A line of shadowy faces were fixed into permanent scowls. Two figures made a leisurely stroll beside them. Weapons sung as they stepped, boots firm and commandeering in their pacing. A hand lifted to scratch a scarred beard.

"So...what do you think?" Dirk turned to the Myrian beside him with an expectant expression. Fiery eyes carefully looked over each specimen before them before pink lips parted to speak.
"They'll do," Kaie announced rather confidently. Her bronze hand moved toward the jaw of one of the men standing before her, who shied away nervously before he resigned to her touch. She turned his chin away with her fingers, revealing the long scar running down the length of his neck. The gaze of the sword-for-hire hardened at the discovery of his past wound. "This one will lead the second party."
"This one's name is Yuri," came the throaty voice of the man, his tone proud and unwavering in the face of the savage in his midst. Kaie's brow raised momentarily. Her lips curled.

"Yuri and I have been friends for some time. He is a fine choice," Dirk eased in, patting the man amicably on the shoulder. The man named Yuri grasped his battleaxe noticeably tighter. "Very trustworthy." It was hard for the savage not to roll her eyes. No such thing as a trustworthy sellsword. Not here. She motioned for the group to approach and gestured toward the kegs of ale sitting upon a table against the opposite wall. Tankards sat in a collection upon a table nearby. When there was hesitation to follow that of a foreigner, Dirk took up the mantle. "Welcome and congratulations. You lot have been chosen for a chance to earn yourselves some heavier pockets. We all like Mizas, yes? Good! Get yourselves some petching drinks! It's time to talk positions."

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Her morning hangover wasn't too kind. Granted, it was a small price to pay to gain respect among her new comrades. Being a Myrian was enough to merit distrust. Being a Myrian and a woman? That offense was hardly forgivable. If testing her limits with alcohol, which she had more experience with than she would like to admit, was all that they required last night to begin to find even ground with them, every minute of her headache was worth it. As she heard one Fang leader dare admit to her, sometimes leadership was a bitch. It was a good thing where she was headed would have no shortage of water.

The elderly couple, who turned out to be the actual owners of the Springs, happily led her to where the man they fawned over for being "so charming" sat. The Harlot did not disappoint. Finely dressed as alway, the man didn't overthink the position of their meeting. It was secluded compared to the rest of the layout and free from prying ears and eyes...so she hoped. Even the bloodlust warrior woman had to admit the little turtles nearby were damn cute. Attention settled sharply, however, upon the Shepard's Pie before her. Already could she feel her mouth watering.


"Good morning, Matthew," Kaie began before taking a seat in the chair across from him. Bronze fingers lace upon the table before her. The near-starving woman did her best to focus first on the man before the meal. "You certainly didn't disappoint with your choice of breakfast. I'm impressed." Her self-control broke down and she conceded to pick up the serving utensil, and served herself a moderate sized corner of the meal onto her plate. Then she picked up her fork and gestured toward Matthew before plunging it into the dish. "How was your night?"
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Matthew on April 9th, 2015, 12:18 am

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The Harlot stared at the little turtles, studying their smooth movements in the clear waters. They reminded him a bit of the summers he had spent in Mura, where tiny seahorses swarmed in crystal-clear saltwater ponds. It was interesting that something so seemingly pure had managed to thrive even in the putrid filth of Sunberth. He couldn't help but lift a hand and brush something invisible off of one shoulder, suddenly feeling dirty as he turned his body to face Kaie.

He didn't answer her right away, watching with interest as she briefly seemed to suffer from some sort of inner struggle. It wasn't long before she piled some of the food upon her plate, Matthew patiently waiting until she had taken her share before also serving himself a neat little portion. "Good morning to you as well. Thank you for the compliment." He took a bite of the potato and meat mixture, chewing slowly, eyes dropping to study the plate. He had never had the dish before. He found it agreeable. Taking a rather long time to properly chew and then swallow, the Harlot moved on to her question. "It went well. I was able to try something new. I was also able to get the information that you wanted." Abruptly, Matthew switched topics, one question tugging so hard at the edge of his mind that he couldn't ignore it any longer. "Do they have forks and spoons in Taloba? I've heard stories that Myrians eat with their hands. I don't actually believe I've ever watched a Myrian eat before, so until now I have never really known if such a rumor is true."

He gave her a couple dozen ticks to answer the random question while he took his second bite, once more methodically chewing. He chewed the same number of times, every time. He also took as close to the same size of bite every time. Properly chewing your food was key to making sure you didn't choke.

"We never agreed on a payment." She had offered some of the Mizas the other day, but Matthew wasn't actually interested in the Mizas. "In return for the information you require, I would like to be involved. I am sorely lacking in genuine combat experience. I have been studying ways to develop my own fighting style and there are things that I cannot practice in a spar or simulation." He stared at her, expression as stoic as ever, even while negotiating such a unique deal. "I do not wish to be coddled if I do come along. Whatever may happen, I am fine with. I feel this is something I can only advance in when I am faced with the possibility of death. So, I have come to the conclusion I would like to be involved."
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Kaie on April 9th, 2015, 2:13 am

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Whatever the dish was, it was good.

Kaie looked up from her meal, chewing away merrily upon her meat and potatoes. She studied The Harlot for a moment quietly. She noticed no visible bruising, no cuts, gashes, or fresh scars upon his face or hands. The man was untroubled, though that wasn't exactly a new development. Things do look like they've gone well indeed, she speculated with growing content. If he really did have the information Dirk desired, bringing Matthew into the fold was a clever plan. Perhaps she'd survive Sunberth yet.


"It's true we eat with our hands for the most part," Kaie conceded and dug her fork into her dish again. Meat and potatoes were either speared or scooped onto the utensil. "We use our knives to prepare and cut our food still, and spoons when dealing with soups. Forks aren't so common, but food on skewers are." The food was placed into her mouth and chewed carefully, but the savage wasn't bewildered by the randomness of his question. By now she was used to his curious prying. Given she was a foreigner in every sense of the word, it didn't often surprise her when he asked about her own culture.

The back of the jungle-born straightened when Matthew circled the conversation back to business. Payment. Mizas. Of course. Another fork load of Shepherd's Pie was consumed as she listened to the man's proposition. At first her expression was neutral. The man had performed a service and he would need compensation for it. That was the name of the game, and Kaie had chosen to play. What she didn't expect was their mutual apathy when it came to coin over other forms of payment. That's when her lips pressed together. He wants genuine combat experience over the safety of wealth? The fork stabbed into the dish a few times, messing with the meal in the same way the whore before her had screwed with her head.


"Fine." She leaned forward toward the man, elbows propped on the edge of the table. Eyes searched his, but she found no weakness. Only finality in the stare of a man who had thought long and hard about his decision and its consequences. "You'll have your dance with Dira if that's want you want. You won't be coddled, but there will be conditions." She poured water from the pitcher into her cup, filling it nearly to brim. A long drink was taken to sate her thirst before she continued.

"You'll stay by my side and you will listen to me. No questions asked. There will be other mercenaries. You will not tell them about your profession or how unexperienced you are at killing. You will stick to the plan, and you will not try to be a hero." The latter of her rules seemed to be the most unlikely for the man before her to undertake. He was the sort to rely on self-preservation, but she felt it needed to be addressed anyhow. "This is not coddling. I refuse to babysit you when it gets down to it. However, there is more to combat than just spilling blood. Stick to my conditions, and not only will you get a chance to do your participating, but you will learn with a far less likely chance of getting yourself killed. If Lhex allows it."

Kaie dug back into her Shepherd's Pie and shoveled more of it into her mouth. At the moment, her rules seemed to cover the basics pretty well. They'd keep him from venturing too far out on his own if the fighting was thicker than intended, hopefully preventing the man from getting surrounded all on his own. If he heeded her by keeping his own identity vague, the rugged mercenaries in their merry band would be less inclined to test him. Too many times did she hear stories of comrades turning on each other willy-nilly to cut out a larger share in the profits. Co-leadership granted by Dirk on their expedition didn't necessarily merit loyalty or obedience either. And finally, so long as everyone stuck to the plan, theoretically, the job would go much smoother with minimum casualties.


"Unless you believe my terms need more negotiating, you have my word I'll hold my end and you'll get in on the action. Otherwise, let's talk more about the lovely night you had with a certain woman in red."
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Matthew on April 10th, 2015, 12:18 am

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Matthew slowly nodded as she explained, turning the new tidbit of knowledge over and around in his head. Silverware was a human invention, one that seemed excessive to him. When it came to natural foods that didn't include cooked sauces and other such prepared additions, it wasn't really that messy to simply eat with your hands. He assumed that trying to be a bit more clean was the main motivation behind silverware. After a few more ticks of consideration, the Harlot slowly sat down his fork. Instead of putting the utensil to proper use, he instead elected to carefully reach out with graceful fingers, plucking a somewhat-whole chunk of potato from the white mash. Carefully making sure not to spill any of the tidbit on his clothes, he raised the buttered and salted piece of food to his lips and plopped it in as he listened to Kaie's counter-offer.

Dance with Dira, she had called it. He had noticed how the Myrians glorified battle. They spoke of dancing, of joy and thrill, of glory found for themselves, their people, and their Goddess Queen. They were the embodiment of combat instinct, acting as if it was something that was required for them to properly survive in the world. Was that something vital that he would lack when the time came for him to defend himself or attack another? He thoughtfully chewed on his portion of potato, noticing too late that he had overchewed exactly two times. He swallowed, considering her terms. All of them made sense to him, except for the bit about being a hero. He didn't quite understand, but he thought he could make a pretty good guess. He wasn't to do anything heroic, like the main characters in the stories that his father had read to him as a child.

His eyes flicked to the water as she drank it in a long series of gulps. Dehydration, perhaps? His thoughts danced back to their shared room, recalling images from the night before. It had been red wine. A very dry red wine.

The Harlot finally nodded. She was the one who was the expert in this situation. He found it made perfect sense to defer to her leadership. "I agree. Your terms are acceptable to me. Thank you for considering and accepting my terms. I will dress and equip myself appropriately for the task."

Picking out another piece of potato that was partially covered in meat gravy, Matthew had to take his time manipulating the chunk of food to his mouth without making a mess. After patiently performing the required number of chews and the quick swallow, Matthew poured his own portion of water and took a few sips before responding. "From what I gather, his journey home will take him by the South Woods Caverns, toward Western Heights. She was fairly assured that he would be at that point in two day's time."

Another sip of water was absorbed, the Harlot looking thoughtful as he licked his lips free of the liquid. "Otherwise, the night was uneventful. I found it interesting that when I put to use the full extent of my skill, she seemed... perhaps scared? I wasn't sure. It didn't matter, in the end. I felt that it was necessary to make sure that her mind was not her own before I asked any questions." His discussion of the topic was as bland as always, head tilting in that habit of his as he watched Kaie intensely. After a few short ticks, Matthew's curiosity once more came into play, though considerably bolder than before. "Have you had sex with someone that is not a Myrian? If so, how does the sex of savages compare with that of barbarians?"
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Kaie on April 11th, 2015, 8:03 pm

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It was amusing to watch the man. Once he'd gotten his cultural answer, he went into experimenting with it for himself. While she continued to keep up with the barbarian etiquette charade, the Harlot proceeded to use his fingers. Meanwhile she went about finishing her cup of water and went about refilling it again. "You might not be thanking me when the time comes," she mused darkly as she watched him pluck another potato from the dish. Kaie lifted her own fork and plunged it into the mash and meat.

"These places are new to me." She ate what she had hunted from her fork. A few ticks were spared as she considered the names of the locations of interest, the South Woods Caverns and the Western Heights. There was only hope that the assumed local Dirk would have a better clue. Hopefully at the very least they could have a plan set around these locations in the approximate two days ahead of them. The savage casually glanced over her shoulder, then scanned over Matthew's head. "Intimidated her with your talents...so you didn't find it necessary to kill her after all?" The woman arched her brow at him. It wasn't that the woman expected Matthew to kill his target, but that she found it curious the thought had crossed his mind as an option in the first place.

More Shepherd's Pie was consumed by the woman until the plate was cleared. The blandness in Matthew's tone had made it clear whatever had happened the night before, he was relatively untroubled by it. Something told her if he had truly eliminated Lollys, he might've had more questions on the topic. Instead, his next question came from a place she never thought the man would have any interest in. The fork was gingerly placed beside the plate. Kaie eyed the Harlot for several ticks, hesitation almost strategic. Is this some kind of trick?


"Yes," was the simple response. She took a moment to study his response, unsure if he would be surprised by her confession or not. "No man is the same. I would only say that Myrian men know their place, while barbarian men have this need to constantly prove their..." It had been some time that the woman needed to trail off in search of that proper word. Eyes closed a tick, retreating to some part of her mind where words were exchanged and translated. "Their masculinity. Yes, that's the word." It was a term that took time for her to understand. After all, Taloba didn't pride itself on masculinity at all, and given the women were the strength of their nation, it wasn't really a word that fit in their society at all.

"Why do you ask?" Kaie would let Matthew have his time in his explanation. Afterward she would nod, eyes denoting some sort of intrigue she didn't bother to push further for the time being. She rose and extended her hand again, that barbarian promise sealed with the odd shake. "You did well. Thank you for the information and the breakfast. I have a feeling we'll be making moves in those two days of time. It'll be easiest if the caravan isn't too close to Sunberth. We don't need any more surprises than necessary. I gave you my word, you'll see your share of blood. Just give me time to prepare. Then I'll come find you. Just make sure that when I do, you have everything you need."

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Two days had passed. Two days that the Myrian was wide awake when she wasn't plotting with Dirk, light gleaming across the edge of her exposed blade as she tilted it in the candlelight. She could feel they were ready. There was an eagerness in the mercenaries as time drew near, greed and anticipation building in their innards. Dirk had that shining in his eyes as he drew lines upon a piece of parchment paper, pointing out locations on the map as he went. Now it was time to execute their plan. A message had been sent to Matthew through one of the whores, and at dawn, both Myrian and Harlot had set out with Dirk and another boy on horse back. Before long they emerged from the forest and into a glade.

"Ah, Yuri! I see you've made good time as well?" Dirk greeted as he dismounted and took the reigns of his horse. Yuri approached with his hand on his weapon and grunted in response. Behind him sat three other mercenaries. Two of them were huddled close upon a log, grinding a whetstone down the length of their swords. The third was fiddling with his crossbow, trying to figure out exactly how the string pulled back and bolt settled on the mechanism. The Myrian woman made a very obviously inexperienced dismount from her steed. She brushed the front of her vest off and clutched at the reigns of her stallion.

"Who the petch are you?" Yuri's hard, black eyes settled on the boy as he led his horse forward. The younger man swallowed hard but straightened himself up quickly in the presence of the threatening superior. However, it was Dirk that answered for him. "I found a slaver named Ivan willing to maximize our profits for handing over the lot coming through these woods. He lent us these horses in good faith, and asked we bring along his son Peter to make sure all goes smoothly." Peter nodded stiffly. His horse snorted and nuzzled at the back of his blonde head. Yuri scoffed. "The boy can't even grow a beard! You think he can swing a sword?" Peter opened his mouth as if to retort defiantly, but Dirk non-nonchalantly threw his elbow into the boy's middle to hush him. "We'll find out soon enough."


"Let's just get to tying up the horses. We outta position ourselves within the next bell," Kaie broke out, walking forward with her horse and gesturing for Matthew to do the same. Dirk and the boy went ahead of them. "Aye. We will. Right after you tell me who this pretty boy is you brought along." Yuri, taller than any other there with a long beard as raging as his temper, lifted a hand to block Matthew's advance. The man leaned in, yellow teeth bared in a challenging snarl. "Hardly a scratch on you. Look more like the savage's fancy than you do a fightin' man. What business do you have here?" Kaie whipped around at that, irritation already beginning to flare. Just when she thought she had a mind to storm forward and correct Yuri's insolence, she caught Dirk's gesture ahead of her. Her partner shook his head, gestured toward Matthew, and she knew he was right.

He's going to have to dig his feet in and fend for himself. He has to answer on his own.
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Matthew on April 13th, 2015, 8:11 pm

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Matthew shook his head as he swallowed, returning the Myrian's stare with perhaps a chilling amount of innocence in his own. It wasn't false innocence either. He truly didn't see anything wrong with what he was about to state. "I did not. I originally thought it would be a good opportunity to study a recent interest I have taken in torture. However, I deemed that it would be much more trouble than it was worth. You had also expressed a desire for me to divert from that path, so I respected those wishes." It was another show of the incredibly gray morality that Matthew followed. In his pursuit of knowledge, he hadn't seen the folly in torturing someone in all sorts of cruel and twisted manners. To him, it was mere study. Much like dissecting a small animal for study like he had done in past medical studies, cutting into a human body was simple to him. It was just an object of flesh, fat and blood. The discussion was practically out of his mind the very tick after he had spoken, finding her sudden pause to his next question to be the more interesting thing to focus on at the moment.

His face did not flicker at her simple response. He had assumed that such was the case. She was a beautiful woman after all, one who no doubt attracted the attention of many a beautiful man. Even if she was a savage in barbarian lands, the desires of the flesh could prove to be incredibly powerful. He slowly nodded at her explanation, finding that it made sense to him. "That is understandable. Sex should be about a shared desire to be pleased and to please. If I felt that you were the type to be aroused by a dominate show from your mate, then I would attempt to show dominance. However, I feel that most men instead are motivated by what you described. A desire to prove themselves. I merely ask because I was curious. I have not had a Myrian customer yet."

Watching as she rose, he nodded slowly, blue eyes glittering with thought when she told him to make sure and have everything he needed. His slim and soft fingers brushed with hers, hand squeezing her own in a soft shake, light skin contrasting with bronze. "I will do so. It is a pleasure to do business with you, Kaie."

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Matthew found that there wasn't actually much else for him to prep. He had no idea what to expect, so why bother trying to account for every last possibility? In the end, he merely brought along a simple set of clothing to wear, a canteen,some dried meat, and finally a single slightly-lengthy dagger. When he finally met with Kaie a few days later, the woman might find it amusing to watch Matthew struggle a bit to get on horseback. When he was actually on it, he managed to look somewhat as graceful as normal, but just barely. He was unskilled in horseback riding and would struggle with anything more than a slower pace. When they arrived at their destination, his dismount was just as inexperienced as Kaie's, if not more-so. He kept his gaze slightly unfocused, preventing himself from drawing attention by not making direct eye contact with anyone other than Kaie who was present. His mind remained sharp however, attentive to everything as it unfolded around him.

Dirk. Yuri. Peter, son of Ivan. So many smells. Horses. Rotting teeth. Body odors. I was right not to wear cologne. Would stand out. Would stand out more than I already do. Should have worn dirtier clothes. Shouldn't have bathed yesterday. I'm clean. The rest of the males are not.

He blinked as his thoughts were interrupted by the sudden mention of a 'pretty boy'. He had a good idea as to who they were referring to. Lifting his eyes as Yuri leaned forward and snarled in his face, Matthew blinked once more. His appearance was not an appearance that automatically identified him as one of them. He certainly wasn't one of them, so Yuri's suspicions were well-placed. How best to handle this, then? He had seen this type of male before. What had he learned? Images of another male sprung to mind, one that was much worse than the one who stood before him now. Suddenly, everything seemed easy. The Harlot didn't even glance at Kaie. He was his own person, one who could stand on his own two feet even among people such as these.

"The same business you do. Is calling me a savage's fancy supposed to be an insult? What if I am? What if we've petched like horny little rabbits, hm? I feel that if I can both survive and satisfy the passions of a Myrian, then you shouldn't question my presence here. Do you need proof?" He turned, glancing to Kaie, words as well-pronounced as always but with a slightly harder edge to them. "Shall we show them how savages petch more violently than most humans fight? I have no shame in displaying something that many here could no doubt learn a thing or two from." He glanced around at the others, raising an eyebrow, not missing a beat. "But that would take a least a bell, which we do not have. Want to test me some other way? Still, a waste of time that we don't have much of in the first place."

Matthew shrugged, turning back to face Yuri, not moving a single step back. "I'm here to fight and make some coin. If I'm a handicap, one of you can kill me. If I'm weak, one of them will kill me. Work for you?"
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Kaie on April 15th, 2015, 1:14 am

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There was a tick of doubt. A fear that bubbled up into the Myrian's stomach. If he forgets the terms and reveals himself, they'll never respect him. That's not even the worst consequence. I'll have to kill Yuri. They'll be no other way. The muscles of the Myrian were taught. Her hand was twitching toward her sword hilt. Amber eyes were locked on the burly man she'd chosen to lead one of the ambush parties, mind reeling in a debate over where to strike first. That all came to a close the moment Matthew spoke. Quickly, a wild grin spread across her face. Amber eyes glanced over toward Dirk, whose mouth was agape and fighting a fit of surprised laughter. Yuri was not nearly so amused. Yellowed teeth ground together, and for all his brawn, the man remained dumbfounded in silence.

Kaie's horse stomped beside her impatiently. She heard the hooves of Dirk and Peter's horses moving away into the glade toward the other mercenaries. The Myrian remained in place, uncomfortable with the idea of leaving Matthew behind just yet. Yuri withdrew his ax. "I'll just have to wait and see if my work gets cut out for me," he growled before he stormed past the Harlot in the direction of the tree line. It was there he paused, spit into the earth, and proceeded to relieve himself. The woman made no attempt to hide her pride.
"A bell, hm? You think you can last that long with me," came her teasing voice. Her body had visibly relaxed for the time being. "You're a good talker. You may survive us yet, so long as you can fight just as well. Come on, Pretty Boy." She turned with her horse and led it deeper into their encampment. The two other horses had been tied up where they were cleverly hidden among the trees. Kaie followed suit, tying her horse's reigns upon a sturdy, low branch nearby.

"Alright!" The words ripped loudly from her throat as she moved into the middle of the glade. The two bladesmen stopped sharpening their weapons, and instead looked up to find the source of the voice. The crossbow string snapped back bolt-less to wrap against the fingers of its wielder, who howled out with enough surprise to warrant a stern glare from the Myrian. "We're expecting the slaver caravan to come in over that hill." An index finger was pointed opposite the horses where a massive lump of earth hid the world beyond it. "We're going to ambush it there." Dirk nodded firmly and stepped forward. He withdrew a dagger from his back, balancing it between two fingers on opposite hands. "Aye. If the three of you did your jobs right..." He pointed at the two bladesmen and Yuri. "They should find a few fat trunks blocking their road. The horses will be trapped, and that's when we'll make our move." He lowered himself to the earth and suggested the other to do the same. The Myrian crouched beside him.

"We have four teams. Left Flank, Right Flank, Rear Edge, and Archer. That'd be you, Hector." The boy fiddling with the crossbow's eyes widened at the sound of his name, and he gave a jittery nod. Green, came the assessment from the savage. "Yuri, you're team Rear. You'll lead Martin and Vick across the other side and hide in the brush. After you hear the call, the three of you will charge in and kill anyone armed. Once you take them in the rear..." One of the bladesmen chuckled to himself at the euphemism, which earned him a solid smack upside the head by Dirk. His dagger turned down toward the parchment, and he moved it along the makeshift map as he spoke. "As I was saying, once you do that, you'll advance to help the rest of us. Kaie will lead the Left Flank with, uh, you." He pointed with the tip of his dagger at Matthew, expression apologetic, before returning back to the map. "When the caravan hits the obstacle, Kaie will make the call. Then the two of you will charge down from the hill to collapse on the left side of the caravan. It'll probably be a wagon. Peter and I will do the same from the opposite side in the tree line. Hector will poach any who turn craven and run for the hills. Make sense?"

Kaie looked around, the crossbowman seemed nervous more than anything else. He feigned confidence, but she could smell the fear on him. So could Yuri, who found his terrible sights set on the boy, too. The twin bladesmen, Martin and Vick, were steady in their stares upon the map. Peter was indifferent. Business as usual.
"Unless anyone has a question, it's about time to get into positions. Now's your shot."
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Matthew on April 17th, 2015, 1:42 am

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Matthew did not linger long on his small moment of victory. He did not really even see it as such. With the lack of most common emotion also came a lack of pride, the Harlot finding no pleasure or satisfaction in what just occurred. As Yuri spit out a retort and move past the Harlot, Matthew's blue stare moved on, scanning the landscape. He wasn't really sure what he was looking for. He just felt that it was appropriate for him to keep a close eye on the surroundings so that he could be completely aware of every little detail. Kaie's voice echoing in a soft tease was the only thing that broke him from his focus, the Harlot immediately casting an eye over his shoulder to fix on his Myrian companion, not hesitating for a moment to deliver a quick retort. "I'm not just a good talker. I'm a hard worker too, as you would find when you collapsed from exhaustion around the second bell." He turned, grabbing his horse by the reins and leading it to where Kaie led her own. While he had grasped that the first part of her words were a tease and the second part was a compliment, he was torn on the last part. It had been spoken like a tease but had seemingly contained a compliment. Pretty boy. That was a title that was assigned to him quite often and he never knew how to handle it.

Listening closely as his Myrian companion started to call out the plan, Matthew tilted his head, not having realized before now that she was one of the leaders. Now that he had made that particular connection, everything made a little more sense to him. But if she was one of those in the lead, then why was there a feeling in the air that he couldn't quite put his finger on? His intense gaze wandered, passing over each person in turn, searching for the answer to a question he didn't even really know. Dismissing it as a distraction that would only hinder him, Matthew returned his focused stare to the bronzed Myrian before him.

Slaver caravan. Over the hill. There.

The world faded away within Matthew's mind, the Harlot mentally turning away from the situation before him and replacing it with the situation that had been foretold. He painted a picture before him, a picture of fat trunks blocking a dirt road, of horses pausing in confusion. He painted a picture of the mercenary company that he was with and the four teams that they would be seperated into, as well as where each of them would be positioned. He was about to simulate the ambush in his mind when he noticed his own face in the mental scene he had constructed. He was out of place.

Snapping out of his little mind palace, Matthew suddenly bent at the knee, pressing a palm into the mixture of dirt and slightly damp mud beneath his boots. Rising, he continued to watch and listen as Dirk took over the dialogue, spelling out the plan. Slowly but surely, Matthew ran the dirty hand over his handsome features and through his black hair, smearing the filth over his all-too-clean visage. It only took a tick for his appearance to take on an all-new style, one that was rarely seen on the Harlot. He was actually dirty.

As the explanation of the plan was finished, Matthew gave a nod to signal his understanding of it, reaching to where his dagger had been sheathed. He slowly pulled it from its resting place, the sound of sharp steel escaping from a sheath softly echoing out as the wicked black dagger was exposed to the cool air. He had no questions, but there was one thing he did want to make sure of. Stepping quickly to both meet with Kaie so he could accompany her to their position, he paused a moment when was within reach of the jittery Hector. "Don't worry." The boy looked up with a confused blink, meeting steady blue eyes that now held magic. Matthew only burnt a bit of his Djed to gently push the softest of Hypnotic suggestions into the mind of the boy, using both eyes and voice to transmit feelings of calm and comfort. "You are going to do fine." Hector nodded slowly, hesitantly, offering a quiet thanks.

Matthew was already moving, stepping quickly to make sure he didn't slow any progress of the unit he had been assigned to. His black blade glittered faintly as he stepped up beside Kaie, quiet and focused. He merely watched her, and if he caught her gaze he tried to read the stare. Eyes could tell so much. It was something he had never became very skilled at. Whatever the case, she was now his leader. He would follow wherever she directed, all without question. If he was confused about a part of the plan, he would merely ask about it later.
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Kaie on May 7th, 2015, 6:23 am

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The grin itching to spread across her lips was surprisingly hard to fight. Out of the corner of her eye, the Myrian could spot the perfectly groomed finger nails of the harlot dipping into the soft soil. Knuckles bent, filth was scraped, and the beauty of his face was tainted by the presence of dirt. Her first thought was camouflage. It would only make sense. They were to be hiding before the ambush. Back home, Kaie often found herself bathed in mud during childhood games much like hide-and-seek. Her sights shifted curiously toward those huddled around the map. Their hair was greasy, edges of their jaws and behind their ears lined with earthy substance. Then something clicked. He's trying to fit in.

"Alright then," the Myrian declared when silence persisted and a few members were so kind as to shake their heads when asked for questions. She rose in time with Dirk. Yuri was quick to follow their lead. "Let's move. And don't forget to wait for my signal before you rush them." Bronze hands clapped away stray dirt. Dirk folded the map back up and stuffed it in a pack by the horses. Kaie gestured for Matthew to follow, and before long, she found herself hidden among a dense part of brush along the hillside. Amber eyes carefully followed Yuri, Martin, and Vick while they jogged down and disappeared into the forest. Dirk and Peter followed suit, but stopped to hide across from her own position with Matthew behind some boulders. Hector didn't go nearly so far. The crossbowman sat behind a tree up on the other side of the hill. Some of the fear in his demeanor had dissipated strangely enough. Still, he held the crossbow against his chest tightly.

"I will keep my word, Matthew. I won't have much choice in the matter. No battle leaves room for babysitting. If you want to back out now...well, this would be the time," the Myrian whispered to her companion as she slowly withdrew her gladius from its sheath upon her hip. It made a gentle hissing noise, the metal gleaming in the sun. "Otherwise, I will pray to Myri for your sake that your weapon of choice will serve you well. Regardless of how this job ends." Pink lips pressed together and eyes became increasingly fixed on the path of interest. There was no telling when the caravan wagon would show. They'd talked of scouts long ago, but unfortunately, it seemed no one was trusted enough for the task. And so they would wait, and wait, and...

The petch is that?

Kaie leaned in toward the brush with narrowed, perplexed eyes. Voices grew in volume, cold and commanding. The entire raiding crew must've heard them before they saw them. The Myrian looked to Matthew one last time to hear his response if he had one. If he'd chosen to back out, the savage would point him in the direction of the horses. If he chose to stay, she would flash him an eager smile and put a finger to her lips before gesturing toward the path below. That's when they emerged. Two men led the way, one with a sword and another with a bulky battle ax. Trudging miserably behind them was not a wagon. It was more like a chain-gang. Two separate groups of about a dozen slaves shuffled along the dirt path toward Sunberth. Their hands were tied securely behind their backs, while another rope kept them firmly attached to the long pole that rested upon their shoulders. A pair of men with long, angry swords flanked either side of each group of traveling slaves. At the rear, six more men traveled wielding weapons of their own choice. An archer rode behind them atop a tired stallion, whose hooves traveled unsteadily along the trail.

"For petch's sake, how much longer until we get to this godsforsaken city anyhow?!" one guard griped with a shake of his head. One slave faltered and brought one group knocking into one another. The exhausted culprit earned a sharp prod. "Aye! How much farther ya gonna sweat us, eh? Could all be holding onto the petchin' wagon if Greg hadn't driven that poor animal to its grave," came the call of another, who swished his battle ax through the air as if swatting away a bug. The rest of the guards mumbled something incoherent in agreement. Armor jangled as a few of the men moved, some adjusted worn shields in their hands. The archer on horseback scoffed. "And did you forget where we just made Greg's final resting place because of it? Won't be long now, boys. The quicker you can get these mutts to walk, the richer you'll all be."

Closer...just a little closer. They were almost there right where they needed to be. Several yards ahead of Yuri so his squad could come around the back and create chaos, and smack dab in the middle of the rest of the waiting raiders to lay waste. The gladius was gripped tighter in her right hand. Almost there. Wait until they see the trunks. That's when the roar came from down the hill and across the path. Kaie's eyes found Yuri just in time for him to swing his massive ax into the half-dead horse's hindquarters. Gods dammit! What are they doing?! Guards began to holler to one another to combat the new threat, slaves screamed and practically stumbled over one another in fear.
"For petch's sake. Time to go." The Myrian dashed from the treeline and down the hill with a shriek for blood. The rest of the team already caught on, Hector ducking around the tree to take aim, Dirk and Peter rushing from behind the rocks.

Martin and Vick were practically back-to-back, blades singing a grim tune as they clashed with their brethren and shred flesh. The horse, having cried out and tumbled to the earth, had its rider firmly trapped beneath its torso. Before the archer in charge could so much as squirm, Yuri planted his ax in his face. Kaie's hands pumped as she sprinted down the hill, then leaped onto an unsuspecting victim turned to watch the carnage looming at his crew's rear. Elsewhere, guards were taking control of the panicking slaves and beginning to create some shoddy formation. They divided on either side as raiders emerged, forming up with those with shields in front. It was apparent Dira had chosen to come for both parties that day.
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Caged Profits (Matthew)

Postby Matthew on May 8th, 2015, 11:38 pm

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The cold dirt felt very foreign against his flesh. The Harlot had to resist the urge to lift his fingers and attempt to scrub it away. He doubted such an attempt would achieve anything more than further smearing it across his face. His thoughts were soon distracted by the sound of Kaie's voice quietly offering to let him back out. He blinked at her, not responding with words, simply shaking his head no in a slow turn. The Myrian might notice the flicker of confusion in his eyes. Why would he back out now? He was the one who had asked to come out here. He didn't linger on the unspoken question, instead turning his attention to the path that they were supposed to be keeping an eye on. How long would it take for their prey to appear, he wondered. His question would almost immediately be answered.

When Kaie turned to confirm that Matthew had not decided to retreat, the Harlot would be too focused on the approaching sounds to even notice. To him, this was no different from any other subject he tried to learn. He would handle this educational experience the same as he handled all the others, intense attention and focus being a key part of his learning process.

He felt the most important thing to consider would be which opponents presented the most danger and in what form they presented it in. Fortunately, it was quite easy to tell the threats apart from the people who were not a threat. Practically everyone besides the slaves were armed with a variety of weapons. Would it be worth taking the time to try and commit each different weapon to memory? The idea was almost immediately discarded. He wasn't experienced enough to put the information to good use. He did make a point to commit the archer to memory. He appeared to be the only one with a ranged weapon, something Matthew felt that he would be at a disadvantage against. It was interesting to see that the guards of the slave caravan seemed rather tired. The Harlot felt that this was a good thing.

The roar that suddenly burst from down the hill and across the path instantly broke Matthew's thought process, the Harlot blinking rapidly in a small display of confusion. His eyes immediately shot to the culprit, not understanding what the roar was for. Yuri? Weren't they supposed to have waited for Kaie's signal? Thankfully, Kaie was quick to recover and adjust the plan on the fly, a few quick words helping spur out of confusion and into action. The Harlot wasn't quite as athletic as the Myrian but managed to keep only a half-dozen paces behind, bright blue eyes searching their opponents for who he should target first. Was there any logic to this? Kaie's sudden battle shriek made him think that there wasn't a shred of it.

Cries of pain mingled with cries of anger, shouts of aggression clashing with slaves begging for mercy. It was a very foreign combination of sensations, all mixed with the steadily increasing smell of blood. The archer had been quickly handled by Yuri, leaving Matthew to decide on another target. Much like Kaie, the Harlot was quick to spot an opponent who wasn't even looking at him, instead distracted by a slave who was frantically pleading him for protection.

Tactic?

No thought. No plan. Not this time. What are you left with when all of your logic is abandoned, Matthew?


He knew the answer. It was something he didn't think he possessed much of. He was soon to find out.

Instinct.

Matthew suddenly took flight in a bounding leap, landing against the distracted guard with hands on his shoulders and boots clinging to his hips, briefly resembling more pouncing animal than man. The sudden weight of the Harlot sent the man slamming to the ground, breath exploding from him in a gasp and sword falling from his fingers as he landed awkwardly on his shoulder. Clinical eyes studied his victim for the briefest of ticks before he instantly decided upon the most obvious vital point that he knew. Without a sound and without a blink, Matthew roughly drove his glittering black blade into the side of his opponent's neck. The man instinctively struggled as he hit the ground, his thrashing sending Matthew's untrained blow into his shoulder instead. He howled in pain and anger as it bit dip and was quickly yanked free, a spray of hot blood shooting up to further stain Matthew's handsome features. It thankfully missed his eyes, allowing the Harlot to almost immediately stab again. This time the blow was true, plunging into the neck of his opponent with a wet-sounding pop, blood once more gushing out in a sudden spray as the man was sent into his death throes. Matthew yanked his weapon free, watching closely, making absolutely sure that the blow had been a deadly one.

There was no hesitation in his sudden display of brutality. The Harlot was oddly suited for killing, his nearly apathetic personality depriving him of the emotions that would make most men hesitate.

He was soon to learn that there was no time to linger when it came to the battlefield. It was only a tick after he had stabbed his victim for the second time that a shield slammed into his side, sending pain exploding through his body as he was flung off of the dying body. His slender form skidded through the dirt about a foot before he was able to right himself, sucking in breaths to try and get air back into his pained lungs. Looking up while trying to quickly rise, Matthew realized his next opponent was almost already upon him, wielding sword and shield while howling with rage. The advantage of surprise had been lost. It would be more difficult from here.
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