Solo Rich Men Tell No Tales.

Ahken takes some mercenary work from a wealthy "merchant". A night on the job reveals the seedy dealings and violent nature of the city in more ways than one.

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

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Rich Men Tell No Tales.

Postby Akhen on June 9th, 2016, 7:41 pm

12th of Summer 516 AV

The sky was the clearest of blue, so much so that it seemed like the placid ocean had usurped the heavens and reined above the city of Sunberth eternally. Clouds scarcely invaded the crystalline portrait that hung languidly above the city renown for its degeneracy and crime. If summer were a scent it would smell of cinnamon like the steaming pastry-rolls that hung to cool from the window-sill of the house across the street, of the sugary scent of lilacs and jade that glided through the alleyways and into the houses that suffocated the Sunset Quarters, of the jasmine and blueberries that drifted from the merchant carts and penetrated the addled brains of men, women and children who meandered about the streets in their rags and rat-eaten clothes – that were if summer were in any other city.

In Sunberth the stench of summer was rancid and miry. Herein the foul, omnipotent smells of corruption, piddle, murder and depravity lingered unapologetically. The Sunset Quarters were repellent even to the rats that burrowed into the sweltering corpses they feasted upon. The smell of unwashed bodies belonging to the dispossessed fluttered on the spry wings of decay. Blood and rot filtered out the corners of streets and alleys with grim scythes and cut through the senses of gang-members and children in a tidal wave of repugnance and disdain. Death hung above the city like a sluggish cloud and everyone sought shelter under its murderous storm!

Tensions were higher; higher than normal that is, and one could feel the electricity in the air nowadays. Stiff bodies walked in the places of the dead and the rising choler and mirthless emotions of the people were as palpable as skin to curious fingers dying to cop a feel. No one was enjoying this summer, indeed.

“Well? Is it a deal?” interjected the man.

“Is what a deal?” a voice replied wearily.

The former growled under his thin breath and his eyes narrowed bitterly. He was a slim gent, hovering a head above the common man, lashed by the agents of time. His black hair had began to recede and silver around the scalp and his once glamorous eyes were grey as if they'd faded into obscurity over the years; giving him the features of a ghoulish Nuit. He swallowed painfully and swept his silk cloak with an open palm for the hundredth time.

His wrinkles sagged into a frown like his chapped lips. A short glance to the side revealed his escort Jethro (who had already lost his patience), and he composed himself once again.

“The job I'm offering you. Are you interested?” Acton inquired solemnly. He'd already wasted a few minutes with this ruffian and the hospitality he was getting from him was in no way appealing in the least. The domicile they were in was not inviting too, the low hung ceiling, dripping truss, heavy smell of cheap Blue Vision and other gods' forsaken things that lingered about them were unnerving.

A wallow of smoke blew out the ruffian's nostrils and mouth, he adjusted the pipe hanging from his lips and took a pull of the burning Blue Vision within. He lay reclined against the clay wall on a small mouldy bed, a worn leather-bound volume propped on his thigh and the swirling letters printed within danced in his stern, black eyes. He had found the volume lying around the house some time ago and taken an interested to it – the origins of the book were vague and clearly written illiterately by someone a long time ago but the content within made for quite an interesting read – the ramblings of a miner in Sunberth's heyday always were.

“Of course he isn't!” snapped Jethro, finally. The young, boy-faced bodyguard sneered, “He's high out his fu–“

A finger interrupted and Akhen turned a paged.

“Why you!” Jethro sprang, poniard drawn!

“Jethro!” Acton hissed and the bodyguard crumbled furiously. Jethro stepped back but kept his gleaming dagger in hand.

“Do you mind going over the details again? I wasn't listening, you caught me at an interesting page.” Akhen inclined his head toward the two men. His eyes drifted to the sheathed longsword leaning against the bedpost and to Jethro slowly. The latter caught the glance and growled.

Acton tucked his slim arms under his cloak and followed Akhen as he set the book aside and turned to face them. “You see, roughneck, I'm a merchant and I have a storehouse I want guarded tonight and I'm always willing to pay anyone capable to do that.”

Akhen raised a brow, “A merchant you say? Don't make me laugh.”

“Why you!”

“Jethro! Stop it!”

“As I was saying,” Akhen continued with a pull of his pipe, “don't make me laugh. You're no merchant. You waltz in here perfumed like a daisy wearing silks and polished boots that cost more than this piss-pit and say you want a mercenary to come guard your storehouse. A man like you doesn't know the difference between an apple and orange.

Now, stop bullshitting me and tell me what you really want, rich man.”

“Hmh,” huffed Acton venomously, ”I see you're not as dense as most of the brutes I normally hire. I hate it. Well, seeing as how you have me figured then I'll tell you. You see I want protection, most notably, I want my valuables protected. This city has become a battlefield after the flood in Spring and everyone's a damn vulture.

The Commons have become a picking ground and--”

“Aye. I get you,” Akhen imposed, “You're worried about the gangs. You wouldn't be the first. From what I've seen a lot of them a defecting and forming smaller groups that are vying for power; and what's deadlier than a pack of wolves to a lone calf? And Sunberth is full of you, lone, perfumed calves.”

Acton nodded uneasily.

“What's got me thinking is : why would you hire mercenaries at a time like this? The city is unstable as it is and who's to say that the people you're hiring aren't going to turn on you and take your valuables?” Akhen asked lowly.

“I— I had no one to turn too, I'd would rather put my trust in a pack of nobodies than my own men! Those bastards left me when the flood hit, looted my house to the floorboards, damn bastards! Jethro was the only one who remained loyal to me.”Acton spat.

“And mercenaries come cheap.” Akhen finished.

Acton nodded slowly. The mercenary stretched out his arms with the grace of a tired panther, eyed the 'merchant' and asked,”How did you find me?”

“The Blood Pits. I saw you fight the other day and took a liking to you, the rest, as they say, is history.”

The mercenary sneered, “You had me followed?”

“Yes. Which makes me question your perceptive abilities, if I wanted you killed it would have been fairly easy.”

“And if you failed, finding and killing you would have been easier.” Akhen spat mirthlessly.

“Well? Are you interested in the job?” Acton shrugged. Akhen turned to look at the simmering Jethro, the latter glowered and fingered his poniard coolly with eyes blazing bloody murder. “How much will you pay?” Akhen returned to the finely dressed Acton.

The ageing man's lips curved into a thin grin, “Don't worry about that, as long as I keep your coin-pouch fat, I know you'll be willing to work, isn't that how you roguish types operate? Ah, well good!

And if you have any concerns, just know that I consider you an investment and all my investments, no matter what kind of sad hovel they choose to spend their time in, must be protected. Come to the storehouses at dusk and look for number 12, there you'll find the rest of the people I hired to work alongside you. I had a good friend of mine craft some fine armour to keep you all alive in case something happens too.”

“How many?” Akhen asked as he stood from the bed. He stood a head above the thinly built Acton but equalled the tall, muscular Jethro. Where the latter had thick, brute bands of muscle that bulged under his fancy cloak, Akhen was leanly assembled like a fierce jaguar.

His thews swelled elegantly, his dark, weather-beaten, ebon skin was the lashed with old scars and anew that gave upon him a vicious economy. Dark eyes glowered with untamed countenance. And a high, kinky afro grew out his scalp.

“About four, five – including yourself.” Acton mused. Akhen glided past the old man and picked up his shirt and wore it as he turned toward the sole, cracked mirror in the room. “Will we be enough?” the mercenary asked as he took a glance at his coarse beard and turned.

“Enough for tonight. I'm being led to believe that I'm hiring highly trained professionals, of course? You see, some of us don't flaunt our wealth around so we're relatively unknown in the city but even shadows have enemies and they're always in greater number in a cistern such as this.” Acton relaxed a brow as he watched the mercenary tighten his belt.

“Aye, so if you fail. I'll personally gut you myself!” Jethro snarled, his poniard flashing out his side. “Ser Acton is like a father to me you see? And I don't like it when he's disappointed, especially in an investment.”

“By Yahal, you've got a mouth on you, don't you?” Akhen leered.

“What did you say to me? I'll do it right now you bastard! Just keep testing my damn patience!” Jethro spattered, thrusting his dagger in Akhen's direction.

A slim hand lowered the outstretched arm and the two men eyed one another. Jethro conceded under the cold gaze of his maestro and tucked the blade anyway with a few bitter words out his lips.

Acton cleared his throat.

“I've already exhausted enough words with the both of you today,” Akhen dejected. “Is there anymore information I need to know?”

“Ah, yes. As you know my men turned on me when the flood struck, I suspect they might be up to something.” Acton whispered. Akhen raised a brow, “You think they might want to loot your storehouse?”

“They know it better than anyone else so be on the lookout, they are well-equipped and are a vicious bunch. Make sure nothing happens to my storehouse or you'll all hang. I'm a man who knows people and the people in this city don't take kindly to wizards or foreigners.” Acton smirked.

“Yeah, and I guess I fall under one of those categories, don't I?” from the corner of the mirror-glass Akhen looked up and saw Acton's outstretched hand. “I hope this is the start of good partnership.” the old man said.

“Yeah. Let's hope it is...” Akhen replied coldly and dismissed the hand. He never shook hands with men like Acton, they carried baggage and he never wanted a part of it. The 'merchant' frowned.

“Come Jethro, seems our time has run out and we have better places to be. Let's leave the man to his devices, it's still a long way till dusk and I'm sure our acquaintance here has duties he needs take care off himself.” Acton huffed with a sweep of his silken cloak. He threw the hood on and walked out the door.

Akhen turned and saw Jethro still standing behind him. The bodyguard's blazing green eyes flashed and he let a grin scar his lips. The mercenary caught the poniard flashing sneakily beneath the escort's cloak and frowned.

“Jethro, we've places to be. Hurry along!”

“Aye, aye... I'm coming, hold yer horses!” Jethro chorused. He tossed Akhen a glare and threw on his hood, chuckling.
Last edited by Akhen on June 10th, 2016, 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rich Men Tell No Tales.

Postby Akhen on June 9th, 2016, 7:54 pm

Akhen spent the next few morning bells catching up on the volume he was immersed in and though it lacked the grandeur and ebullience of the finer, polished pedantic textbooks of Zeltiva he found himself enamoured by the miner's tale.

It was a fascinating chronicle, the date and author were unknown but the weather-worn yellowed sheets and scribbles were a clear indication of very old age. The leather was time-beaten, mouldy, discoloured to a sandy brown and as rough as sandpaper, some pages were missing but Akhen would readily connect the papers or make up different and possible scenarios to fill in the blanks (as exaggerated and unbelievable as they were).

From what Akhen had established the miner was a very poor man when he began writing the book, a journal when Akhen carefully looked at it, and the men who worked in the mines with him had began to go missing a few weeks into the job. Someone or something was killing off the miners in the tunnels and each day they descent deeper, cressets and pickaxes in hand, into those dank, confining burrows less men came out than those who went in and screams would be licking at the heels of those that fled in time!

“Gods,” Akhen sighed heavily as he rubbed his eyes, taking a puff of his sweet Blue Vision. “This city is all sorts of messed up.”

With a shrug, he snuffed the burning herb with his thumb and set the pipe aside. The euphoric languor of Blue Vision had always helped ease Akhen's tense senses even in his earlier years, especially in those seraglios and underground blood-pits of Ahnatep, but lately he felt his anxiety gradually increase. He didn't know why but he seemed to be unnerved lately, spoke his mind a little more than usual and didn't like it.

Did I get a bad batch of Blue Vision before I got here? He asked himself as he walked toward his bag and looked inside. Taking a small bit and smelling it, he concluded that the herb wasn't bad, it was cheep but it wasn't tinted. In fact it was the one keeping him level-headed. He felt a wriggle of unease between his shoulders and snorted. Perhaps it's work anxiety, he mused. But Akhen knew that was a lie. He wasn't anxious because of work, he'd never been. It was something else, something in the water perhaps?

“Damn it!” he conceded after a long mental debate. A few chime later his stomach growled lowly. He'd missed breakfast again, all because he was lost in the pages of a book – and because the Blue Vision induced hunger. “I guess I better get ready anyway. And go grab something to eat at the Pig's Foot.”

With the lifestyle like that he led, a man such as Akhen needn't exhaust himself and his energy with heavy and fanciful armour like a Syliran knight – bevors, gorgets, cuisses, breastplates, shields; those things were too heavy and encumbered a person in a fight in Akhen's mind. They served as a bulwark that glorified and romanticized battle, simple decorative mantles, he'd come to label them. The world was quick, fierce and deadly like the scorpion and cobra, blood was drawn quickly and the slowest to draw their weapon died first. That was an irrefutable law of conflict.

Akhen believed in agile and free-flowing clothing. One that would serve ample protection and allow the wearer generous time to draw and strike down an enemy if and when provoked quickly effortlessly; and defend from multiple opponents if there ever were some. This ideology was what he recited to himself as he strapped on his worn boots and simple jerkin. He fastened the sheath of his longsword into the sword-harness and strapped it in its proper place. The belt came across his chest diagonally and around his waist tightly. The long, leather bound hilt of his sword glanced out his shoulder and Akhen knew he was ready.

From his bag he took a few gold mizas for a small meal, a small batch of his Blue Vision, his smoking pipe and headed out the splintered door of his rented home. Though he was never really sure if the house belonged to the elderly man he'd rented it from, a squat, pot-bellied fellow with a bald spot, he never questioned him. Provocation against a local in Sunberth was never returned kindly, that he certainly knew since he'd come to the city for work and exploration repeatedly over the years.

The bell to noon's sojourn across the hours of time and space rang and Akhen was welcomed once again to the myriad sounds and smells that made the city a resplendent haven of decadence and putrescence. In an earshot to his left, as he walked down the wide, cobblestoned path, he'd already heard the sounds of a husband beating his wife and children into submission from the second-story window, he listened to the hollowed screams of a man being knifed to death because he owed money to the Sun Birth's and the cry of an newly orphaned child as her drunken mother tossed her onto the streets like an old rag-doll because she refused to sell her body to the man she believed was her new father.

Sunberth reined with it the sounds of human turpitude and devolution that would make even Ravok blush quaintly like a virgin at the naked touch of a lover, Akhen had always thought.

The sun pulsed and hammered its tortuous heat over the sweltering roofs of the city. Still no clouds arced over the sky and Akhen saw a few birds flutter above but he wasn't sure whether they were vultures or simple birds.

Comparable to most cities, Sunberth was a mad poet's most indulged dream. Her magnificence was only rivalled by her cruel, indistinguishable sadism and now that she sat brooding over the flood, even the blind could see that the city was only beginning to unravel its true colours. What those colours were, Akhen could only guess.

It took a few chimes (and short-cuts through the alleys) before Akhen saw the Pig's Foot Tavern in the distance. Already he could hear the loud, drunken merriment and smell of ale within from where he stood, the wooden boards of the old haven were still strong and standing and the sign, painted in the namesake of the tavern, still shrieked like a yukman in heat when it swung in the wind...
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Rich Men Tell No Tales.

Postby Akhen on June 9th, 2016, 7:56 pm

The Pig's Foot Tavern, Akhen still remembered when he walked through those doors as a boy many seasons ago. The dimly lit establishment would have hurt his eyes if they weren't already throbbing from the night he spent taking care of a few Daggerhands with the mercenary group he worked under. The band of thugs had defected from the main body to go start their own criminal enterprise, that was when the gang was still strong and had a footing in the city and hadn't wilted gradually into a miserable puddle in the coming years, and Akhen and a few, older, much more experienced, sell-swords went to go take care of them.

He remembered how his body throbbed and his right arm hurt from blocking the swings of one particular defector's heavy-axe; and how the men all laughed when he sat alone at a table in the far end of the tavern whilst they divided the earning's they'd made. Akhen remembered that whole night but the most vivid memory was one of a waitress with a pair of ample breasts on her chest. He'd have chuckled at the memory, had he not discovered later on that the girl was thrown in the Slag Heap when they found out she was practising magic.

The tavern was alive as befitting its popularity. A drunken body in the centre of the tavern swayed and sang some dreary song Akhen didn't care to recite and a few men eyed the mercenary suspiciously before slouching over their table to continue their conversation in whispers. The afro-haired mercenary heard a waitress squeal and warn a chuckling patron as he glided toward an open table and seated himself.

Looking up he discovered that the seat he'd chosen gave him a full view of the whole tavern, from where he was he could see and hear pretty much everyone but he went relatively unnoticed to them.

He wasn't worried about carrying his sword in public; everyone openly carried steel here and some openly used it.

“Came for a drink, or for something to eat, honey?” a soft voice beside him asked. Replying partly, “To eat. The cheapest stuff you got.” Akhen turned to face the departing waitress and only caught her brown curls disappear into the kitchen.

A few ticks and a steaming bowl of soup with meaty bits and stale bread slid under his chin. The brunette disappeared among the tables to take care of the other business and Akhen began to eat.

“Yeah, yeah... I got the girl somewhere safe. A thousand gold will do.” Akhen heard a man say.

“A thousand?! That's too much! Where will I get that kind of money?” was hissed reply from another man. “Hey, listen you stupid prick! You said you wanted a 'pure' girl. Those are hard to come by here and getting this one required at least, two thousand's worth of gold. This isn't some gutter whore you can get at Brega's, she's pure, untouched, so be glad I'm giving you a discount.”

“I– I.. okay. A thousand golden mizas. I– I'll get the gold, just give me time.” the second man yielded tiredly. Akhen heard the first man chuckle and sneer, saying : “Best hurry then. Even I have needs and this one sure has a pretty face, and the prettiest little hands.”

“No! No... please, don't lay a hand on her. She's mine; all mine... but tell me, how pretty are her hands? a.. and how old is she?” the second man exasperated giddily. The first chortled slyly and said : “Twelve.”

Akhen snorted and ate silently. His fingers tingled for his sword and he looked at the faces of the two men.

One was a pudgy, pimple-faced man dressed in rags and the second, who Akhen took as the merchandiser, was gaunt and dressed in roughshod leather armour and armed with a small sabre, his eyes were a glacial azure bearing a dark, perverted glow in them. With their faces burned into the corners of his mind, Akhen made sure to pay them a visit as soon as he was done taking care of work with Acton...
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Rich Men Tell No Tales.

Postby Akhen on June 9th, 2016, 8:08 pm

With his meal done and his belly full, Akhen left the tavern with a few gold mizas still spinning on the rough table he'd occupied. He made his way around the Commons with a lazy pace to consume some time. As the sky began to redden like a pool of blood and the first stars glittered like newly cut diamonds, he headed for the storehouses.

As he went ahead and the first torches of the city were being lit. The windows illuminating in sundry glows of gold, white and orange, Akhen ruminated for a while. To think that such a city was ravaged by a flood not so long ago seemed impossible if one looked at it but here he was, in the middle of it all. The tired faces of mothers and fathers, hard-working men and women lumbering back to their once obliterated homes like ghouls after a long hard day of rebuilding made Akhen wonder what it was that made the city sink into such a ungovernable state.

Not all these people are killers, thieves, rapists, gang-members; some of them actually seem like decent folk, hard-working people – Akhen mused internally. There were some good people in the city and some good still lingered in most, and here was evidence of it. This rebuilding surely wasn't forced onto them, Akhen began to wonder whether the flood might not have actually been a bad thing, perhaps it alone had brought back what sliver of humanity that these citizens had. But then, he remembered, a lot more people were dying in the publicly and nobody lifted a finger to help, a lot of these people actually went ahead and condoned the hangings and butchering of others. Akhen had even seen a man lynched by a mob simply because the latter's brother found him in bed with his wife shortly after the flood.

Was Sunberth the ultimate reflection of humanity? Had mankind sunk so low on its quest to be the mightiest of the gods' creatures that its shameless depravity and putrescence was sentient in the form of this city? This congested hovel of a city, was it the clearest sign that mankind shouldn't have survived the Cataclysm brought on by a bathetic god?

Akhen shrugged, he knew he'd never find an answer that would suit his needs. For all that happened, Ivak still seemed irrational for his actions in Akhen's eyes; perhaps all gods were irrational creatures like humans, the mercenary didn't know.

A few chimes and impressive structures grew in the distance. Large, shadowy behemoths that seemed to move because of the torchlight that washed across the streets. Some of the storehouses were vacant and unnumbered but others were heavily guarded from what Akhen could see, piled with sundry merchandise from various merchants. The glares the guards tossed the afro-haired mercenary weren't pleasant and Akhen returned them in kind fashion. It took a while until he found the storehouse he was assigned.

It was a large, homey structure like the ones surrounding the entire compound, its white paint had began to vanish and left the plaster exposed to the elements. It seemed secure with its second-story and small windows but Akhen knew that it could easily be penetrated with the right manpower.

The first person Akhen saw was a middle-aged man sitting atop a barrel outside the large storehouse. Standing upright, the man smiled and waved : “Ah! I'm guessing you might be Akhen?”

The mercenary nodded.

“Well, Acton said you're not the talkative kind of fellah. The name's Eddin, Eddin Whitelance,” he introduced himself with a smile. Eddin was an exquisitely built man, his face was plumb and healthy, and his was bronzed by the sun. He wore a heavy vesture of armour, a chest-piece, some grey, dented greaves and had a small wooden shield. He also carried a dreadful ball-and-chain spiked mace that curled like a fat-headed snake at his side. “Come inside, let me give yer a little tour of the place. And get you suited up.”

“Suited up?”

“Of course. Come, this way.” Eddin hopped off the barrel with a clank and entered the wide, open door.

Inside, Akhen walked into a dark, shadowy building with a high, flat ceiling. A wide hall opened at the other end of the house and rows of light-less rooms occupied the sides. Akhen saw a tall, halberd-wielding Akalak in armour just like Eddin's at the oppose end of the store house. Another man stood beside the Akalak, he was much shorter, shorter even than the average Eddin – in his hand was a small iron shield and a broad, double-edged war-axe hung on his back – he was dressed in a chest-plate, visor and gorget.

A flight of stairs led up to the second story and at the end of the narrow hall, Akhen was met by another two figures. The first was one of the most entrancing creatures with the palest skin he'd ever seen, it was as white as newly fallen snow and her shoulder-cut hair nearly matched her skin tone but was a pale blonde. Her light, glimmering eyes took the countenance of sapphires, but she compact figure was nonetheless pronounced even though she wore a breastplate and greaves. A slim rapier was sheathed at her waist.

A woman as a mercenary was commonplace but the scaled patterns along this one's arms made Akhen raise a brow.

A konti... mercenary? He thought. Eddin chuckled when he saw the look on Akhen's face. “I know right? It blew my mind too! I thought all they ever did was heal people and pray, who knew they had the killer instinct in them too!”

The konti sneered and tossed her hair aside, whether she was brushing off Eddin's words or the intense stare of the man across her, Akhen wasn't sure but what he was sure of was that the man across her wasn't supposed to be here.

“What's he doing here?” Akhen leered when he saw Jethro turn toward him. The brute marched down the hall and grinned.

“Old Acton was worried you lot wouldn't be able to handle it so I convinced him to come supervise you, especially you!” his finely made chest-plate gleaned in the low hanging torchlight. He cupped his jewelled broadsword and eyed the mercenary murderously.

Akhen brushed the bodyguard aside and followed Eddin down the hall, on his left were small squares cut into the building; these provided a vantage point to constantly watch over the street below and on his right were rooms likewise cut into the building like ones below but these were amply lit with torchlight and Akhen saw chests heaped and stacked onto one another. In one particular room he passed though, he saw heavy sandbags piled into a corner.

“I dunno what he's pushing but his bodyguard there forbade anyone to enter, so I guess we'll never know.” Eddin whispered lowly. He looked over his shoulder and saw Jethro glaring then he patted Akhen on the back and shoved him into a small room at the end of the hall.

The room was visibly smaller than all the others in the storehouse and had nothing expect a few mannequins lined up against the wall, all of them were stripped except for one. “Get suited up,” Eddin said.

Akhen saw the suit of armour and snorted : “I'm not wearing this. I never agreed to wear his armour.” “Well, you have too, none of us like it either but Jethro there said if we don't we're not getting paid.”

Akhen growled and slipped on the visor-less helmet, then the chain-mail and finally the breastplate : “It smells.” Akhen finally said. Eddin shrugged : “He's a cheapskate.”

“Aren't they all?”

Eddin chuckled. After fastening the breastplate and picking up the small wooden shield assigned to him, Akhen left the room with Eddin. As they walked down the hall, the latter briefed Akhen on how they would guard the storehouse. He and Akhen would keep watch at the front of the; Erto the Akalak, and Tandem the Short-One (as they found it fitting to name him), would guard the rear. Nyala the Konti and Jethro would guard the uppermost of the storehouse. At each bell until dawn, one of the partners would leave and be replaced by someone else thus allowing fresh eyes on a new spot. Akhen found the plan idiotic but he wasn't surprised when he discovered Jethro was the one who came up with it.

The night went by in relative quiet in the storehouse compound, Akhen and Eddin sat at the foot of the stairs. The silence allowed the afro-haired mercenary some time to obverse his surroundings, the storehouses across them were empty and unguarded, the one to his left had a few guards meandering about and gambling and the one to his right was lit but Akhen saw no guards whatsoever. The first bell sounded and Akhen replaced Tandem at the back of the storehouse. At the back, the surroundings were pretty much the same expect that two of the storehouses across them were well guarded.

Erto was a silent creature. His dark-purple skin gave him a fierce and ominous presence that he knew he had and carried well with him. He seemed more like a statue than a living being, even in armour one could imagine the knots of muscle hidden beneath, he exuded shameless strength and vigour, his halberd was clutched tightly, his savage eyes burned in silent determination and pride. He and Akhen hardly exchanged words and he left when the next bell sounded.

As he waited for the next person to come join him, Akhen took out his smoke pipe and stuffed it with Blue Vision, he found a light and let the herb simmer before taking a puff. The euphoric properties took a hold of him and he leaned against the wall to savour it. A space passed and he was joined by the konti.

Her pale face took on a golden glow in the torchlight. She sat beside the mercenary and was quiet for a moment; Akhen passed her his pipe and she took a generous pull from it, coughed and said a few words of thanks.

“You know,” she started after a few chimes. “We not all the same.”

Akhen raised a brow. He heard a snicker and knew the herb was taking effect on her, “Some of us don't want to be confined to some desolate temple where we spend two hundred years of our lives praying and healing! I was a priestess once, you know? I was good at it too but these past forty years of my life have been the greatest moments I've ever lived. I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want.

I've been to places people dream to be, done things people only do in their wildest dreams, tasted foods that nobody ever will. I've fought pirates, thieves, aristocrats, I've had more mizas then I'd ever known what to do with and blew it all in a few nights in gambling dens and parties that would even make the gods jealous! I-- I have lived! And after this, I'll do it again until I'm old and worn-out!”

The konti laughed for a few chimes and from thereon Akhen knew never to give her kind Blue Vision. Nyala giggled and turned to face him, she simmered into giddy fits : “What's your story?” she asked with squinted bloodshot eyes.

Akhen shrugged. His story was his own and he preferred to keep it that way, but he replied : “Killing. I'm pretty good at it. Do I like it or do I hate it? I dunno, I just do it when it has to be done. I'd prefer a good book and some of this Blue Vision here instead but I guess when the wind howls, I have to answer the call.”

“I guess we're not so different, you and I.” Nyala chuckled. Akhen never replied, his eyes narrowed when he saw the storehouses across them suddenly darken. A few more chimes and the entire street was completely pitch black.

The next bell rung and Akhen left for the second-story. There he guarded with Tandem, another quiet fellow who brought his own pipe. The two men smoked in silence and for the next few bells the routine continued, with luck the afro-haired mercenary never found himself stationed with Jethro but he and Eddin were once again guarding the front this time. Eddin Whitelance was admittedly a talkative individual, before the thirtieth chime Akhen already knew of the ex-Sunberthian-guard-turned-sellsword's love affairs and family history. Eddin had grown up in a common Sunberthian household, little to no education, he being the lucky one to be born from a long line of miscarriages by his mother; his grandfather was a guard, his father was one too and he became one once his aspirations as a bard were crushed when his father threw his castanet in the Slag Heap.

Akhen watched as the storehouses abreast their own turn dark and in the distance he heard an owl hoot.

“So, I grab her hair right? And by Lhex, I'm telling you she was a screecher, and I– I... hey, ar... are you even listening?” Eddin asked when he saw Akhen stand up.

“No. Now shut up and listen...” Akhen interjected, killing his pipe and stashing it. He heard a faint sound shuffling toward them, the louder it grew the more he realized it was coming from inside the storehouse, the two men turned and Eddin chuckled when he saw a mop of ivory.

“Oh, it's Nya-- dear gods! What in the void!”

The konti came lurching forward and crumpled at their feet, a pool of blood flowed beneath her convulsing form! Akhen turned her over and Eddin recoiled with a curse. Her throat was slashed! They watched as she trembled with white eyes, gurgling crimson foam out her mouth.

“Who did this?!” Eddin snarled, unhooking his mace. The konti raised arm but it turned limp and she died.

“Get inside!” Akhen spat.


“Now!” Akhen roared and dipped his head when he heard something wheeze passed his ear. A crossbow bolt! With that the men flew into the storehouse and heard more bolts snap behind them!

“What in the hells!” was all Eddin could mouth.

The rear of the storehouse was unguarded and Akhen saw two men turn the corner, their crossbows snapped, “Shield!” Eddin roared! And Akhen raised his arm instinctively. A bolt snapped into his wooden shield and the other flew over his head!

The two men dove into one of the unlit rooms when they heard footsteps behind them. They stood across one another, parallel the open door with their backs against the wall so could listen. Then they the heard voices of the intruders.

“They're hiding in there! Get them!”

“What about the two upstairs?”

“We'll take care of them, now go get those bastards!”

“Who are these guys?” Eddin asked. Akhen quite quiet, he was listening intently, perhaps their footsteps would tell him how many they were. He was sure these were Acton's former guards, they were well-equipped just like he said.

He heard footsteps shamble toward them slowly, there was no light in the room expect for the one, narrow channel that was provided by the hall and penetrated inside. Akhen pressed his knee against the shield, removed the bolt lodged within and was ready. The light around the frame warped as the first intruder stood by the door, his short-sword drawn.

“See anything?” the second interloper asked.

“Ain't see shet, I–” a scream! The man turned for a second and Akhen pounced. The bolt shattered an eye and the fiend recoiled heavily into his accomplice! He screamed and Akhen emerged, he threw his arm out and bashed the man's face with the shield, pushing the bolt deeper! The man screeched and his stunned friend gaped as Eddin ran out howling, his ball-and-chain mace spattered the stunned foe's skull asunder in one clean sweep!

“Whaaaa! Urgh...!” the first brigand died when Akhen smashed his face to bits with a splintered shield. The afro-haired mercenary slipped off the bloody buckler as quickly as he could and drew his sword from its sheath, nearly forgetting he moved it to accommodate the heavy chain-mail and breastplate he now wore.

I hate these damn things!, he hissed internally.

At the foot of the storehouse's stairs he and Eddin discovered the cause of the first scream, the two other brigands were slumped over in a pool of crimson. Erto and Tandem and slain them quickly but it seemed that the Akalak had a crossbow bolt lodged in his arm.

“We have protected the storehouse!” the Akalak leered venomously! “No shet!” Tandem interjected sourly. The two clamoured down the stairs and regrouped with the pair.

“Hey guys, I think we might have to do a bit more protecting,” Eddin murmured, the men turned and saw small band of intruders enter from each end of the storehouse, they were twelve in total but they were armed to the teeth. Hatchets, spears, short-swords, poniards, maces, a myriad of instruments Death would be envious to wield flashed with the thirst for blood! “And where the hells is Jethro?!”

“Dead or he fled. I smelt the cowardice off him anyway.” Erto groused and held his halberd limply. “Tch,” Akhen snorted. “Hurdle up everyone, back-to-back. We can't allow them to flank us!” the mercenary continued.


“Got it!”

“Shouldn't have to tell me twice!”

Akhen and Eddin took the front. It was a rush of bodies that came toward them, flashing iron, howling contemptuous slaughter! An axe arched and bounced off Akhen's sword, the latter whirled his arms and splattered the attacker's head! The body slumped but Akhen was already engaged with another. A swing sheared the head off an upcoming attacker. Eddin joined in. His mace whirled like a cyclone and bashed apart the faces of two men simultaneously. They crumpled into death!

The ex-Sunberthian-guard-turned-sellsword spun his weapon over his helm, it fell and turned solid flesh to pulp in an instant! Erto roared a savage war-cry and speared a young foe through the face. His halberd swept above his dead foe and ripped through the breastplate another. Tandem charged. The squat warrior moved like a bull enraged and his war-axe were his horns. He gored through bodies. Slashing. Hacking. Mauling. Maiming... They all were. It was crimson that flooded their vision and nothing else. The storehouse was drenched in screams.

“Erto!” Akhen heard Eddin call; his crimson sword bowed, cleaving through the midriff of an attacker. A body fell atop him and he bent to shrug it off. Crimson, Purple... Erto lay dead beside him. Spears was wedged deep in the Akalak's chest and skull!

A ravenous snarl from Tandem returned Akhen to his senses but something knocked them back out of place! The visor-less helmet protected him from a flying war-hammer but he was cut from the dent. His head ached, his left eye was mazed. He sneered and brought up his sword to defend from the war-hammer again but the force behind his attacker's swing knocked it out his hands!

The mercenary looked up and caught the grin on his aggressor's lips. Akhen's arms shook. They hurt. They trembled.

“Now you die, dog!” the fiend snarled. His war-hammer arched! It fell and the fiend died...! Eddin's mace tore through his skull before he could get a killing blow! “Get u—rgh!” Eddin slouched as a bodkin lanced through his neck. He shrugged and bellowed savagely as his mace swung sideways and bashed through the skull of his killer! Both men lay dead, each others weapons bleeding.

Akhen picked up his sword and trembled to his feet, he lurched suddenly. Whirling sword-first he eviscerated the axe-wielding entrant that charged him! The man bent and Akhen sidestepped a thrusting spear suddenly. Swivelling his arms, his sword split the shoulder of the man!

It was pure instinct now, that was how he would put it. Each action was super-charged by the instinct to survive. He moved through the bodies and to go aid Tandem, the Short-One was barely breathing, his chest-piece was stabbed to finality and he was swinging drunkenly. Four men were left – no, three as Akhen came charging like a blood-drunk beast! His bloodied sword sung its melody. First flesh then bone and the body beneath him whined one last time!

Tandem killed two more, his heavy skin-flecked axe rattling as he sheathed it into the abdomen of one and right into the chest of another. The Short-One snorted and his eyes finally fluttered one last time. He slumped – and died. It as blood-loss that finally did him in.

The last of the assailants looked up at Akhen and what he saw must have shook his very soul – the blood drenched, slow breathing form of the afro-haired man must have taken upon itself the visage of a monster, a heartless butcher of men, to him in that dim, grotesque torchlight. He looked at his short-sword and back at the figure of Akhen slowly.

“Well?” the blood drenched Akhen snarled. The man yelped, tossed the sword aside and shook his head frantically. “Screw this! Jethro isn't paying me enough for this bullshit! My life is way more important than some stupid merchandise! He can come sling it all himself!” With that, the man fled.

“Where do you think you're going, yer spineless dog!” a voice boomed out the furtherest room in the storehouse. The fleeing man screamed and recoiled as a crossbow bolt flew out the darkness and ripped through his skull!

“If you want something done right, I guess you'll have to do it yourself!” Jethro snorted. He came out the room and faced Akhen, a grin carved its way onto his boyish features. His short black hair gleaned as his small, thin snout flared. “So you're the one who survived, Dira must be feeling kind tonight. I get to send you to her personally!”

Akhen raised his sword, his arms ached, his body was trembling and he knew Jethro would take advantage of that. He eyed the hall for anything worth using and snarled when he found nothing. So be it, he thought. If he died, he died but he would make sure that he cut down that bastard in front of him.

Jethro drew his jewelled broadsword, he taunted Akhen as he walked toward him slowly while sliding his visor into place. When he cleared the space, he lunged suddenly! His massive armoured body twisted and the massive blade hewed through air. Akhen dodged and lumbered back. Their swords locked and broke when the afro-haired mercenary shoved his opponent back with a kick. Clanking clumsily over corpses and grunting with bestial anger, Jethro charged!

Akhen narrowly dodged the side-sweep of the broadsword; he cursed the heavy breastplate he wore, and returned with a overhead arch of his own sword. He missed! His blade hissed and hew into one of the cadavers and was stuck!

Jethro chuckled; “Since this very morning, you don't know much I wanted to do this!” he leaped like a lion, slashing his massive sword! Akhen leapt back! Narrowly avoiding the sword that ripped through his shoddy chest-piece! Mazed, Akhen lost his footing and tripped!

He fell back into a heap of bodies and rolled aside as Jethro's broadsword carved through the flesh and bone of the dead! Akhen's hand fondled the ground for something, anything – it clutched something rough and the mercenary flung his arm out with all his might! Jethro's headgear was torn off his shoulders by a chuck of wood from one of the splintered shields and he shook his dazed senses. He turned but was knocked astray by a closed fist from a lunging Akhen! His sword slipped as both men tumbled into the mound of corpses!



More Punching!

Even more rolling!

The two traded savage blows! Akhen delivered brutal jab to jaw of his opponent that left Jethro bleeding. Back and forth the went until Jethro's massive bulk pinned Akhen down!

“Die you bastard!” the bodyguard snarled and wrung his fingers around Akhen's neck in a strangler's vice! The afro-haired mercenary clawed at his opponents hands desperately! He pelted the ground for anything and found only blood and soft flesh...

“You know! I think killing you is better than slashing that konti bitch's little throat!” Jethro howled and applied more pressure. Akhen felt himself slip. His vision blurred. His sensed numbed. His chest tightened...

His weak arms hovered, searching for something – anything!

Then... he felt... something... something around... Jethro's waist... it was small but... if only... he could... just!

“Haaaargh!!” Jethro snarled as Akhen's arm shot up abruptly! Through the neck! A poniard!

Crimson arched out Jethro's neck in fiery jets and hands around Akhen's neck slowly began to weaken until finally... breath! The bodyguard slumped forward and crushed Akhen with its shuddering bulk. The sounds of Jethro's final breathes were horrid; the gurgling, moaning, grunting sounds of a dying creature always were...

It a took a few chimes for the heavy body to completely go limp and when it did, Akhen shoved it off him, sat upright for breath and staggered to his feet. He looked around, there were bodies everywhere and none of them showed signs of life. It was a foul sight indeed. All this death for some merchandise – he wondered what it really was he came to protect.

With a hiss Akhen slipped off his helm, his heart clinched when he realized how badly damaged it was. A massive chunk of it had been sheared off, narrowly missing his head!

The mercenary spat and tossed the head piece aside. He looked around and spotted Jethro's helmet, it was still intact. He staggered toward the thing and picked it up, it was not to wear; it was to hold all his loot. He turned, looked at all the bodies littering the hall, shrugged and began searching them. Anything valuable he found was dumped in the helmet, whatever wasn't he threw away. It took at least a bell to rummage through the corpses but when he was done he set the helmet aside and climbed up the flight of stairs.

It was those sandbags, he knew. That was the real reason these men came here and now he wanted to know why...
Last edited by Akhen on June 13th, 2016, 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rich Men Tell No Tales.

Postby Akhen on June 9th, 2016, 8:12 pm

Dawn came trotting on horse shoes and dim, blue light. The sun's fiery tendrils spread over the city and banished the stars once again. A small carriage came riding through the Commons solemnly and a thin, finely dressed man came fluttering out when it stopped.

“Dear gods! wh-- what happened here?!” Acton asked, jumping over Nyala's corpse. The old man looked about his blood soaked storehouse and vomited at the sight of heaped corpses. He cursed.

His noise pitched and he caught the smell of Blue Vision burning.

Hurriedly he stormed the building, tripped over a body, picked himself up and marched toward the flight of stairs. At the foot of the steps he saw a mangled breastplate and chain-mail. He frowned at the sight of Akhen, the mercenary was reclined upon the steps, a smoke-pipe hung off his lips, a loot-filled helmet was at his side and his longsword was in hand. Acton was clearly repulsed – whether it was because the mercenary smelt of death or because he was still alive, Akhen didn't know.

“You!” Acton leered contemptuously. “What happened here?!”

Akhen shrugged, “It was as you predicted, your men came in to finished what they started. We fought them off and a few of us died.”

“Hardly a few!” Acton snapped. “A-- an... and is that... Jethro! You brutes!”

“Yeah, looks like your boy Jethro there was the one who actually coordinated this whole heist, he turned on us. I killed him when he attacked me.” Akhen reminisced with a bellow of smoke out his lips.

“What?! You're lying, you dog! Jethro would never betray me! He was like a son to me!”

“I guess you weren't much of a father then.”

“Why you! I will have you dangling off a noose for this! I... I'll– ack!”

Akhen glared at the old man, his black eyes burning, his arm bent at an angle and his sword's point pressed into the neck of his employer : “You'll do nothing except pay me my due and leave me alone. You see, I did a little snooping after the fight and discovered something interesting. I know what you're dealing you decrepit old bastard, I heard the rumours, it's just whispers now, but this... this 'merchandise' you're slinging is said to be worth more than yours and my life combined and I know a lot of hungry wolves are looking for a new source of food, little calf.

Besides. The people of this city wouldn't take things kindly if they knew the name of one of the people response for indirectly killing their kids. Then we'll see who'll hang.”

“I... I'll—ahh” the sword pressed deeper into the old man's soft throat, drawing blood. “Pay me my due bastard, I did my job.” Akhen imposed, the sword lowered as the old man conceded angrily. Acton dug into his large coat pockets, pulled out a clanking pouch and deposited it into the helmet.

“You're paid. Now leave my sight, dog.” Acton griped.

Akhen sheathed his sword, killed his pipe and tucked it away safely, he picked up the helmet and kicked the breastplate and chain-mail at the foot of the stairs aside. He hissed as his muscles throbbed, he'd have to get the cut on his on his scalp treated lest it fester and leave a scar. A hot meal and a day or two worth of sleep and he was sure he would be able to move properly again.

Before he left, he glanced at the old man clearly overcome by mixed emotions. And he knew, he knew why he never shook hands with such men...
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Rich Men Tell No Tales.

Postby Hwyn on August 2nd, 2016, 11:27 pm

Ooh Yay
You've got grades

Character name: Akhen
Exp Received.

Negotiation 2
Intimidation 2
Observation 3
Philosophy 1
Tactics 1
Leadership 2
LongSword 3
Brawling 1
Endurance 1

Konti: Not Just healers
Sunberth: Pure humanity
Leadership: Back to back
Never trust the rich
Armor: Must compensate for the weight of heavy armor
Intimidation: Blackmail is useful
Welp I'm impressed, daresay amazed I quite enjoyed the thread, you could have done to space this thread into more posts as the posts were quite bulky, Nonetheless loved the read.

I'm assuming that this counts as a Job thread for you but I think you've gone and impressed me. So add 5 gold mizas to that ledger of yours and keep on writing. I look forward to reading more of you work.


Credit to Shimoje, the bestest buddy
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