Completed A Cryptic Encounter

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Erik Murphy on December 12th, 2015, 6:58 pm

For Graders and readers.

16th Bell- 7th of Winter, AV 515 - Sunberth, Baroque Bay

The waves battered against the pier, providing an unrelenting assault against sailors and citizens alike as the passed along they seafront, only the quickest were able to evade the sprays of salt water that came with each crest that slapped against the soaked wooden pier. There was little warmth to be found on the docks today, while the true harshness of Winter had yet to arrive the sun had been stifled by thick, furrowed clouds all day and it was surrendering to the horizon with haste and plunging the city into darkness. Meanwhile a bone chilling wind whistled through the cobbled streets and tight alleyways, threatening what few fires burnt in public to be snuffed out in a tick.

Erik skulked lightly across the dock, his toes fighting for grip on the slick wooden planks as he made his way home from Tall Johnny's Casino after a long day of the hard graft. He pulled his dark coat tightly across his body, though that would offer him little protection against another sudden blast of seawater as his clothing sought to infuriatingly soak up all the icy cold water it could find. He looked up bleakly across the docks, not relishing the walk home, even if the fire that burnt there would warm up his old bones but his eyes drifted towards the flickering glow in the shuttered windows that belonged to The Drunken Fish and his ears picked up the faint raucous laughter from within.

Erik didn't like the Drunken Fish that much, too many smashed sailors and outspoken outsiders for his taste, but the thought of a mug of "Two Berry" cider to warm his gut and dull his senses did appeal far more then trek home and so the old mercenary found himself stepping into the tavern with little resistance. The air was hot and stuffy tonight in this establishment. Smoke hung thick and heavy in the air along with the smell of alcohol and while a song was sung in a foreign tongue about a hero or tale that meant nothing to him, he could still appreciate the rag-tag choir that filled most of the available stools in the tavern.

"Pint of Two Berry cider"
He said, leaning casually against the splintering wooden counter that was etched with all the profanity one would expect from a tavern full of sailors. He looked around at the tavern, sizing up the joint to see if he could find a place to rest his half-frozen arse. Most of them were taken already by sailors and smugglers that he really didn't want to have deal with their drunken antics but there was still on seat free nearest the glowing hearth opposite an old crone bent over her tea.

Erik had heard rumours regarding this woman. They were neither the kind that he was interested in nor held much stock in but he had always respected his elders, he was a man that felt constantly lost and was seldom given direction. "Give 'er a refill" He requested, turning to the barman as he slid a silver coin over the counter towards him and took his drink to the table. "I hope you don't mind, been a long day and my legs are beggin' for a rest" He said as a greeting, his body immediately relaxing as the duty of standing was relieved and his clothes started to dry from the warmth of the fire.

"Care to share a word or tale?"
Last edited by Erik Murphy on February 15th, 2018, 9:32 am, edited 4 times in total.
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“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Royal on December 12th, 2015, 9:14 pm

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The first thing one might notice about Mama Cat was the three-foot wide birth the other occupants of the Drunken Fish gave her. Though the other patrons and tavern servers did engage in frequent conversation with the old haggard, they did so from a careful distance.

The second noticeable thing about her was the stench. The cloud of a mysteriously sweet odour emanated from her clothes and hair. It was a combination of urine (both human and feline), sweat and tea that clung to her like a second coat. The closer one got to the woman, the stronger the smell. Which, at least in part, explained the wide berth given to Mama Cat by her fellow drinkers.

But she did not seem to mind her lack of company. Quite the opposite: the ancient woman appeared to be more than content to sip her tea and simply observe those around her. Every so often she would murmur to herself or to her mug of tea, which when empty she investigated carefully as if there was a secret written in the bottom.

Despite the ferocity of the fire she sat before, Mama Cat was dressed in a huge, heavy winter coat. Part leather, part fur, and patched up with several other different kinds of material, it was a thing of strange beauty. Fashionable it was not, but memorable it certainly was. Beneath this magnificent specimen of a coat was the build of a frail woman who had survived many, many winters. She had close to no teeth, thin silver hair and a face that was as wrinkled as scrunched parchment. Even at her peak she had been ugly, and time had certainly not been kind.

Nevertheless Mama Cat's narrow lips creased into a gummy smile upon Erik's approach. Rising her cup to the much younger man, she said with surprising enthusiasm for a woman her age, "no problem here, ser! But keep yer coin. If you share m'company, yer share my drink."

She turned briefly away from the male and flickered a hand in the air towards one of the servers. Having caught the attention of the young waitress, Mama Cat focused back to the male opposite her. "Cold out there, yeh?" The answer was rhetorical; in fact Mama Cat answered it herself by turning her face downwards toward her lap. "Me and ol'Grey here 'av been sheltering all day."

And, from the depths of her multiple-textured coat meowed a cat that was as battered as Mama Cat was as old. Missing both it's left eye and ear, the feline watched Erik with casual suspicion. Eventually the cat's interest was lost and the cat settled back down amongst the furs of his mistress' coat. After raising a gnarled hand to stroke his head, Mama Cat gestured to the approaching waitress. "It's home-brewed." She explained with casual pride. "Take a sip and guess what my secret ingredient is."

The tea, to say the least, was an acquired taste.
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Erik Murphy on December 13th, 2015, 9:23 pm

There was something so strange about someone so old in Sunberth. It was almost unatural, Erik in his age found himself casting his mind back to his childhood and then to his adulthood, simply trying to recall and account for every friend he had lost to the city. He had lost count far too quickly. His old man had only made it to fifty five winters and most considered that a very respectable age, yet here sat a wizened old crone that had face resembling the cracked bark on an ancient oak tree yet in her eyes gleamed the energy of a dozen toddlers. So strange. In part, this particular specimen was a peculiar to say the least, even by the standards of Sunberth but even Erik couldn't shrug off this feeling that he may have sat opposite the toughest piece of meat in this shit hole of a city.

"Cold out there, yeh?" She asked rhetorically, with a touch of lisp brought on by those bare, pink gums that Erik eyed up with a disconcerting sense of foreboding. Unconsciously he ran his own tongue across his hard, yellow teeth as if to remind himself that most of them were still there.

"Aye its cold, not cold enough yet though" Erik nonetheless replied to the rehotrical question, making casual chit-chat with a woman draped in so many different pelts that it would give a tanner a heart attack. "The real snow will come soon, no such thing as a mild winter. Wouldn't want to be out in the streets when it comes" He added, eyeing up the feline they stared right back down at him as of those words had been some thinly veiled threat. Erik didn't like cats, not one bit. Too clever and too sly for the mercenary, his old man always said a black cat was a warning of terrible things to come, a white cat marked the start of peace. "What does that make this cat then?" He wondered as the scarred feline lost interest in the man and curled up once more into its owner's lap.

"Take a sip and guess what my secret ingredient is."


Erik reached over, somewhat reluctantly, and brought the cup over towards him. He eyed the blend with suspicion, he couldn't ignore the surprising medley of colours that swirled and twirled within the cup; red, greens, oranges and browns; they all shifted in front of his very eyes as he contemplated sipping the tea. He was in public, she had been nice enough and clearly she had been doing something right to reach a ripe old age. "I better not lose my teeth to this" He thought as he brought the cup to his cracked lips.

The smell hit him before the taste, flooding his nostrils with a hot, spicy inferno that almost made his eyes water as his nose twitched from the sudden aromatic assault. He took the smallest of sips, barely a thimble-full of liquid as he struggled to hide his recoil from the diabolical taste. It was sweet and spicy, but far too much of each to make the experience pleasant. He felt the heat of the tea erupt within him, pulsating from his mouth to every corner of his body, making the cold outside seem like such a distant memory. Finally as he swallowed the liquid, forcing his body to produce a column gulp, the strength of the liquid faded the but the taste lingered. What had been overpowering had become a pleasant aftertaste though not enough to shake off the initial shake of the brew.

"That's quite a brew" He said, somewhat exasperated physically from the experience though his mind had shrugged off the mental exhaustion of a day's work and was almost ready to do it all again. Almost. "I'm not sure love, is it ginger?" He inquired as he pushed the cup back towards her with the indication that he didn't want to try another sip. "Honestly, I've got no idea" he said truthfully; his wife did the cooking back home and Erik knew his way around Alvadas better then he did a kitchen.
Last edited by Erik Murphy on December 18th, 2015, 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Royal on December 17th, 2015, 9:33 am

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The old haggard watched Erik for the entirety of the time it took him to take that first, hesitant sip of her tea. Her thin lips were held together firmly, as if she was trying to stop her last few remaining teeth from falling out from her gums.

However, she was unable to stop herself from barking with hoarse laughter when Erik proffered his concluding comment. After briefly wiping the spittle she had sprayed whilst laughing off the table they shared, the old woman shook her head. "Ginger? Nah. I'll only tell if yer guess it first time."

Not quite realising, or perhaps ignoring, the fact that he had quite clearly been repulsed by her tea, the old woman topped Erik's cup up to the brim from a pot that the waitress had since bought over. "Keep drinkin'. It's good fer ya!" She promised, nodding sincerely and sliding his cup back towards him. "yer get a reward when you've drank it, too." But what that reward was remained a secret clutched close to her chest, for instead of explaining further, the croon simply tapped the left side of her nose and winked.

She leant back in her seat, raising her own steaming up to her lips and taking a deep gulp. After swallowing the liquid down, she sighed appreciatively and tilted her head back, eyes closed as if she had suddenly fallen asleep, or even finally joined Dira. The cat on her lap stirred once again, extending his back left leg outwards at an impressively grim angle. The tomcat then proceeded to clean himself with scrupulous detail, his pink tongue darting outwards to groom every inch of his leg, tail, and even arse. Every so often he would glance to Erik, as if to ensure that his audience was paying attention to the odd display.

"My ol'Grey sure is clean." The old woman concluded once the cat had settled back down yet again. How exactly she knew what the feline had been doing was a mystery, as the hag had not moved from her peculiar position for the duration of the cat's grooming session. Her eyes were still closed, head still tilted back, and yet she somehow continued to sip at her tea without spilling a drop. "Ya best still be drinkin' my tea, boy. Yer might not be a child anymore but I'll have you over m'knee in no time if you don't drink yer tea."

Giving herself a satisfied nod, the woman prised open her right eye and watched Erik with mild interest. "Why'd'nt y'tell me somethin' about you? I got a good memory, me. And if I see you in the street I'll remember. I always remember."
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Erik Murphy on December 19th, 2015, 1:47 am

Erik found himself raising a quizzical eyebrow at the old lady's antics. Perhaps it was a stranger that a man who often found himself killing people just to make a living offered the old crone even a smidgen of respect, but his old man taught him to respect his elder and while the were few and far between these days; he wasn't planning on smearing his dad's memory by doing otherwise.

"A reward eh?" He asked, somewhat rhetorically with a tone full of doubt a trepidation as he eyed the cup being refilled warily, silently cursing himself for returning the cup. "I'll be honest, I'm not too fond surprises" He said truthfully, there were too many scar of his body from 'surprises' he had been subjected to over the years. He reluctantly dragged the cup back over to his side, the barmaid giving him pitiful look before leaving him to his unfortunate fate.

He took another sip from the cup, struggling to swallow the vile liquid as his compelled his mind to do so. He was half-tempted to just chug it like a mug of homebrew ale but it was to hot and frankly he was worried she'd refill it if he did so. For a while he sipped the concoction silently, watching the woman recline back in her chair and do nothing at all. He might've slunk off into the darkness, taking his untouched mug of cider with him, if it wasn't for that cat that never stopped glancing back at Erik as if too check that he was still drinking his owner's vile drink.

Finally the woman returned to her surroundings from whatever trance, sleep or brush with Dira she had just momentary been in before posing the mercenary with a question. "Why'd'nt y'tell me somethin' about you? I got a good memory, me. And if I see you in the street I'll remember. I always remember."

Erik paused for a moment to recline back into his own chair as he stared into her mischievous right up that still sparked with life under a mound of sagging wrinkles. "I work for Tall Johnny, the casino owner, for this season anyway" He said, deciding deliberately to keep the topic well away from his wife and children, unable to shake this uncomfortable feeling that kept nagging him about this woman "I've been working the streets for over thirty winters now, doing what my old man did for many more" He added, somewhat comfortable with mentioning his father believing that at least the dead would be safe from a women that looked like she already had one foot in the grave.

He knocked back the last of the tea, his taste buds dead to the oral onslaught it brought with before slamming the cup down on the table with a strong sense of relief and a peculiar sense of accomplishment.

"And I've taken too many lives with me." He stated with a flash of sadness glazing over his eyes as he stared into the empty, stained cup.
ImageImageImage
“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Royal on December 28th, 2015, 9:07 pm

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From the moment the male placed his empty cup on the table, it was obvious his decrepit companion cared less than little for his story. The crone reached out a gnarled hand across the table and grasped his mug between her fingers. If she had paid any attention to what he had, the woman did not show it.

Instead, she stared intently into his mug, tilting it this way and that as if there was a miniature world found at the bottom and she needed to ensure her view of it was unobstructed. The cat even showed mild interest in the cup, sniffing and rubbing his half-bald face around the handle. Mama Cat was deathly silent, almost perfectly still save for a long finger stroking her chin which, if Erik happened to look too closely, he would see was bristled with womanly stubble.

Finally she snapped her head up and away from the mug to star at Erik unblinkingly. She seemed to be trying to withdraw some sort of secret from the male, but telepathically rather than conversationally.

“Tell me, young man,” she proffered, the mug still clasped in her hands like it was her most prized possession, “when you’re as old as I, the future seems a distant and impossible thing. But you, a fine specimen of a Sunberthian man, have many years left in you. So tell me, would you like to know what the future holds?”

With that bizarre question, she lounged back in her seat comfortably and finally returned the cup to the table. Should Erik peer inside it, he would see a collection of wet tea leaves sticking thickly to the bottom and sides of his mug. There was no clear pattern or organisation to these leaves, and yet Mama Cat smiled to the man with unprecedented smugness.

She knew something – but what?
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Erik Murphy on December 28th, 2015, 10:12 pm

Erik watched her indifference as he told his story, one that sadly summed up most of in life in a few meagre lines, and instead he stared across as she gazed into the bottom of his cup as if were some sort of way to commune with the gods themselves. For a time her concentration never wavered, a single digit that scratched her chin revealed that she was in deep thought and Erik found himself hypnotized by the sight of this peculiar old woman and her sorry excuse for a cat.

“Tell me, young man, when you’re as old as I, the future seems a distant and impossible thing. But you, a fine specimen of a Sunberthian man, have many years left in you. So tell me, would you like to know what the future holds?”

And with that question, all the allure and mystique around her vanished in a moment. To some in this city, fortunetelling was a taboo art that was on par with all magic but Erik saw what it was plain and simple; lies. She's nothing but a charlatan, out to tug the heartstrings of vulnerable fools for the coin in their pockets, she's full of more shit than a outhouse Erik concluded as he let loose a short chuckle and shook his head softly at her question.

"Well, I don't think I've got many more years in me truth be told but its kind for you to say so" He said, still slightly chuckling to himself before pulling over his own pint for cider and finally tasting the sweet, warming beverage and washing out the bitter taste of her tea. "I don't hold much stock in the future myself, everyone seems to think they know it yet they always seem to be wrong" He admitted before adding "But go on love, tell me the future."

"Do I 'ave anymore kids? I bleedin' well 'ope not. Do the Daggerhands finally kick the bucket? Please tell me someone stick ol' Goldfinger's head on a spike in the middle of the Gated Community" He asked, slightly mocking the woman as he stared back into his own mug, seeing only a shapeless mass of tea leaves.
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“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Royal on January 4th, 2016, 9:46 pm

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Mama Cat listened intently as Erik asked his questions. When a man is offered with the opportunity to know the future, the questions he asks, she felt, summed him up in a way an introduction never could. Family was the opening inquiry from him: this the old crone approved of. Family was important, and too few people appreciated this. Next he asked about the Daggerhands, and Mama Cat smiled faintly. Oh, if only he too could read his tea leaves, she thought humbly as she shifted in her chair. And finally, a question about Goldfinger, a man almost everyone in Sunberth either envied or detested with all the venom a person could muster. And no wonder: tricky little shite.

The old woman licked her wrinkled lips, swallowed, licked them again, and then coughed aggressively. She subsequently wiped up the worse of the spittle that had splattered onto the table between them. It took some time for the old woman to answer his questions, and even when she finally did, her reply was not at all related to what Erik had asked. Closing her eyes, the old woman recited:

“Sunberth is going to face a winter unlike anything before. It will be cold, and get colder. And when the piss in yer bladder freezes within ya, the ghosts of the past will come. They will return, unremembered and with different faces.”

Finally her eyes popped open, watching Erik with amused interest. A gnarled finger extended towards him in a sharp, jabbing motion. “And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”

The old woman fell silent once more, and glanced down to her lap to pay her ancient cat some much-appreciated attention. Ol’ Grey purred loudly, more like a lion roaring than an alley-cat, and stepped cautiously from his mistress’ lap onto the table. He padded towards Erik and sniffed at the man cautiously, his fishy breath lingering in the air long after he returned to the think, multi-furred cushion of Mama Cat’s wondrous coat.

“Heed my advice, young man.” She said sagely, a sincere nod accompanying her warning. But then her thin lips curved into a gross, wet smile. “And if you stop puttin’ yer cock in yer wife, no more kids. Simple.”
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A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Erik Murphy on January 5th, 2016, 8:10 am

Erik reclined lazily in the rickety old chair, watching the old hag have her coughing fit as he wondered silently if he was about to see the fires in her youthful eye fade into nothing. He found himself finishing the rest of his cider as the woman battled with Dira before finally asking "Y'alright love?" but she either didn't either have the breathe in her tattered old lungs to reply or simply didn't care. Erik decided to assume the latter.

As she regaled him with him prophetic wisdom Erik remained silent and offered her his uninterrupted attention while silently rehearsing his reasons for leaving her peculiar, if not interesting, company. "I s'pose we all 'ave a part to play" He added uselessly to the end of her foretelling, mostly dismissing her comments though her remarks on history did its part to lay some common ground between them; too often the younger generation simply dismissed what they had not have to live through and come out all the wiser for it in this anarchic city.

I think my kids might be in for another rant about the old days again
Erik thought as her foul cat leapt up onto the table and meandered over to Erik, his eyes meeting the piercing pair that belonged to the moggie. It stared into his with distrust as if he planned to knife the cat's owner as soon as she fell asleep while Erik thought about how many desperate folk would pay through their nose for some cat meat.

Erik stood up as she offered him her sagely advice on his sex life, nodding appreciatively as he quipped "I would but I think might put my marriage on the rocks. Speakin' of which, I should be on my way unless I want scraps for tea". He gestured to the barmaid to take his mug away before turning back the fortune teller "To tell ya the truth, I don't think it's gonna be a cold winter but at least one us'll be right" He concluded with a smile "Been a pleasure love. Take care, 'ave good one".

He turned away from the table and headed for the door. He breathed in the clean, fresh air as he felt the return of the cold, heavy rain and silently appreciated the fact that his surroundings didn't smell of cat piss. He was about to walk off when a thought worth thinking about crossed his mind. I never told her my name Erik thought worryingly as he had second thoughts about the woman he ad just conversed with. He turned on his heels a looked back in the tavern, eying the old woman who had fallen asleep with her gummy mouth wide open with a trail of salvia meandering down from the corner of her mouth.

He shook his head and began the walk home through the torrential downpour, simply assuming he must have let it slip in conversation without realising it.

Still... He thought as felt icy water trickle through his jacket and recalled her predictions I probably should buy a new coat.
ImageImageImage
“And you have your part to play, Erik. You will be fooled, like most, but you will survive. You might even benefit it all. Hold history close to your chest, young man. That’s my advice.”
User avatar
Erik Murphy
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Posts: 73
Words: 130410
Joined roleplay: December 12th, 2015, 12:38 am
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Storyteller secrets

A Cryptic Encounter

Postby Royal on January 30th, 2016, 3:35 pm

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Erik Murphy
Skills
Observation +3
Rhetoric +4
Philosophy +3

Lores
Location: The Drunken Fish
Mama Cat: An ancient old rumour
Memory: A taste of Mama Cat’s special tea
Philosophy: Regret over taking many lives
Mama Cat: Future Seer
Memory: Mama Cat’s warning
Lore of Contraception: Keep it in your pants!


Told you I’d reward that contraception lore ;)

Questions? Comments? Please don't hesitate to PM me!
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Royal
You can call me Queen Bee
 
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