Solo The Merchant's Daughter

Akhen is hired as a bodyguard of a fruit vendor – a strikingly attractive Benshira girl – whose father has grown worried about his daughter's safety in the city. The girl has been physically accosted by a pack gang members in past couple of days due to in-fighting among the major gangs. Akhen spends the day and learns a few things about the lives of ordinary citizens.

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

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The Merchant's Daughter

Postby Akhen on July 20th, 2016, 10:21 pm



31 of Summer 516 AV


“Ah! What a most glorious day, to hear the tongue bestowed onto us by Yahal himself!” beamed the broad, wizened face of the stout merchant. He palmed his companion across the shoulder lightly with his dusky hand as they looked over the city's rustic interior from the balcony of his house.

The Gate Community rose up before their eyes in a delineation of neat, steady houses and mansions that sprouted diligently and sparsely apart. More ferns than people encompassed much of the community that radiated with a sense of apprehension rather than aristocracy. Figures both stagnant and meandering dotted the maze of clear streets below like poppy seeds, these they knew as the patrol and guard of the community.

A flutter of western air touched them and turned their heads its way. Low, clay coloured roofs further into the web of the city charted the distance as if kneaded by the delicate hands of a potter. The Seaside Market perched and wavered through ripples of trenchant waters. Further, the Sunset Quarters pitched and sloped like the spine of a grey colossi. Even from where they were voices twisted up in a cacophony of chatter, grumbles, yells and screams. At a glance, cutting across the centre of the city, blue, optic waters sparkled and divided it all.

Today the waters were calm. It was as if their surge and thrashing of the city not so long ago was more of a far forgotten dream and not a recent event. A modern nightmare.

After a space of silence which was cut short by the crowing of birds bending in the clear morning sky. The man continued speaking thickly in Shiber, “Please my friend, back to the business at hand.” he interrupted, eyeing the tall afro-haired man beside him and musing as they entered the room. With pleasantries concluded, Yousuf was certain he could put his faith in this man. He looked the capable type, that was for sure.

Though that smell on him. Was it Blue Vision? He wasn't sure.

Akhen glided toward a lavish seat of leather across the wide, mahogany table and Yousuf took his place behind it, hunching his knobby elbows on the smooth surface. The Benshira was of a stocky build, powerful shoulders balled up his silken shirt and a foamy beard as if made of gloomy clouds curled toward a once powerful chest – Akhen was certain a man like this would have been able to handle himself in a fight, though the harshly sculpted lines that now mapped his desert-born features said otherwise. The man was old, so much so that Akhen could scarcely put a number to his exact age.

“You must forgive me to have called you in so early in the morning, my friend.” a palm opened apologetically. The mercenary half-nodded and reclined.

“It's my job. I hardly have a reason to complain.” Akhen intoned easily in Common. His eyes wandered for a moment and he couldn't help but feel slightly impressed by the minimalist nature of the merchant's office. Besides the finely made table, lavish leather seats and dusty bookcase at the far end of the room he remembered when he first entered, the only things seemingly valuable in there were the two crescent-shaped scimitars which hung on the wall above the merchant.

Much of the interior was a bland russet friezed, layered and enamelled in a poppy verdigris. The floor was also carpeted by a intricately patterned mat that faintly took Akhen back to the streets of Ahnatep rather than the dreary alleys of Sunberth.

Yousuf rumbled a chuckle, his grey-green eyes fell to the longsword propped against the armrest of Akhen's seat for the thirtieth time that morning. It was warm inside but the old man found himself shuddering suddenly whenever he looked at the scored steel slightly bronzed with flecks of dried blood.

His throat dried but he let out a wet cough. It wasn't intimidation that gripped him, only doubt. “This city has gone to shyke. Perhaps even more than usual,” he had dropped his native tongue and chose to speak Common, though his accent was heavy and he still slipped on a few words.

Akhen nodded. Yousuf continued, “And I worry, as I believe most fathers do, about the safety of my daughter.” there was a disconcerting sigh in the Benshira's voice now. He looked up the mercenary, dark eyes locked with glassy grey-green's, and for a moment Akhen was sure he caught fear in them.

A sigh, low words hissed now : “I'm glad I found you at the tavern when I did, Akhen?” the name was consummate on the accented tongue, the sell-sword dipped his head. A half-nod and the merchant returned with a firm voice, “You see, I believe my daughter has been having troubles as of late. With the gangs running amok and the city in the state that it's in because of the flood, I have began fearing for her saf–”

There was a wisp of black! A blurring movement suddenly! Akhen reached for his sword, the leather of its hilt bit his calloused hand with a tug. Bang! The table rattled and there was a feminine shrill. A grumble emitted behind the stream of dark, silken film. Akhen relaxed immediately, his sword reclined on the armrest again and he was swimming in the comfort of his seat once more.

“Father! I won't let you!”

“Jazella! I will, I care about you and it's my duty as your parent!”

“I'm fine, father! I can take of myself! I still have that knife...”

“No!” Yousuf roared louder, his knuckles slamming! The table rocked and the verbal battle ensued with a new vigour, it was a roar of Shiber “So much that piece of Isurian garbage has done you! It's useless! You were--”

“But fath--” her voice was a whimper now, it was nigh-musical, lacking the hoarse Eyktolian vocals of her father. Yousuf must have grown in his seat because Jazella yelped and staggered, her heel caught the carpet and she tumbled. A shriek left her lips and she wriggled like a worm when a rough hand caught her by the small of her back.

She was more of a young woman than a girl. Younger than Akhen by a summer or two. Jazella gaped. She was still in her nightgown, a frilled, glistening violet thing laced in dark-purple around hem. In her awkward bend she looked sidewards at the mercenary with large, open eyes so dark-green they were envious; her long, black hair sprawled down her swart, slim shoulders like a starless nebula. A whisper of morning chill drifted into the chamber and she groaned in a mixture of confusion and pleasure.

“Jazella!” Yousuf graved thunderously.

“Pa--” she slurred, dazed.

“Cover yourself!”

Her eyes bulged wider than a toad's at the words and she turned, looked down and saw that the bottoms of her gown had become undone – exposing a firm, perky mound of breast. Her cheeks flushed scarlet but her green eyes were a murderous jade! She harrumphed! Covered up with movements too quick to follow and whirled about with an open palm Akhen saw coming but chose not to intercept regardless.

Slap!

“Jazella!”

Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Sto--

The mercenary's gaze followed the svelte, brown thighs and small, tapping feet marching out the door. He looked up and wrapped his mind in her sun-kissed features for a moment when she turned and grabbed the door's handle. Long, dark hair fluttered first then her wiry, lean arms, an oval face upon a lilly-stemmed neck came thirdly, fourth came her fiery, penetrating green eyes and he conjectured small, plump lips and a tiny nose because what came lastly and vividly was the pinkish-brown scar tissue bending down her collar bone. It was small but recent, how recent he couldn't tell but if he were to guess and compare to similar cuts he'd received, he'd say some twenty days old.

Curses rolled from her lips and the door slammed!
Last edited by Akhen on July 20th, 2016, 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Merchant's Daughter

Postby Akhen on July 20th, 2016, 10:24 pm



Akhen heard a sigh and murmur of apology from Yousuf. The old man's voice trembled just as heavily as his tense body when he sat, swore some things in Shiber, prayed to Yahal and swore again.

“She takes after her mother!” Yousuf retorted with a smile. It was a doleful smile only enhanced by the grey beard.

Akhen gestured that it wasn't a problem, frowned slightly when he tasted copper in his mouth and swallowed the blood. “I was just concerned she'd fall on my sword,” he said. He regretted taking that slap now, it was stinging more than it should.

“She was too close and I'd be out of a job.” he finished flatly. Gods, his cheek was burning now!

Yousuf smiled, reclined with a chuckle and looked at the dark-skinned mercenary. The boy seemed like a perplexity to the old Benshira, even though he spoke Shiber basically (and it was good to here the language again, he'd admit) Akhen seemed to carry an air, besides that of Blue Vision, of intrigue and as Yousuf looked further, that of death. Yes. He was capable enough to take care of Jazella.

“Akhen,” the Benshira started, looking intently at the harsh features of the man across him, “Have you eaten anything yet today?”

“No. I woke up, bathed and rushed here just like you asked.”

“Ah!” expostulated the old man as he pushed back his seat. His sturdy frame jiggled through his loose silks, he threw one side of the white caftan on his shoulders in a sweep and coiled it gently around his neck. “Come, breakfast is sure to be served soon.”

Nodding, the sell-sword stood and sheathed his sword in its scabbard. The sword's hilt peaked out his shoulder after Akhen fastened the straps of his sword harness. Avowedly Yousuf had first furrowed his bushy brows when he'd seen Akhen strapped in like that but he didn't bother to ask, the boy was dressed well to protect anyway. A leather jerkin, some worn light boots, pants and shirt – it wasn't unorthodox and it served well enough to put some doubt in anyone who wanted to mess with him.

Besides, Yousuf mused, the capability was more from the man's appearance itself, harsh faced with a pantherish economy, muscled, weathered and calloused. Aye... he was capable. Thought the merchant, a third or fifth time that morning.

Akhen was led out the door and followed the merchant through a series of small halls. The manor was surprisingly ordinary by the standards of commonality though it gave the illusion of wealth through a series of extravagant furnishings, as they strolled down the hall and through most of the house itself (which Akhen took as a tour by Yousuf) he realized that the rooms were compact, tidy and well managed – an ample number were rooms for the guards and servants mostly consisting of bunk-beds, wooden closets, dressers and chests made of dark, polished wood.

There were no ornate figurines, expensive tapestries, rich, pompous statues, garish paintings or the like favoured by slack-nosed aristocrats who favoured fine miscellaneous trinkets to compensate for something their knew they lacked. No, this house was modest, polished and had a told a story filled with pages of hard work rather than nobility. It wasn't in Akhen's nature to judge the social stature of another man or being for he knew where he himself was; scrounging desperately among the maggots and fungi that overwhelmed the earth, clawing for survival before fluttering into non-existence upon death, no – he could not judge. But he held slight admiration for this Benshira. He'd worked to where he was.

The sweat on a common man's brow was indeed wealthier and heavier than a jewelled crown of gold or silver and that in Akhen's books deserved a higher respect than a monarch or noble.

Modest light penetrated the house from thoughtfully placed windows by day and by night, as Akhen remembered his coming there before the sun had fully exposed itself, cressets burnt on burners and holders that the servants scraped of the molten wax to burn for another stock. Much of the home smelt seasonal with perfumes emitted by the candles and incense, the fragrance was earthy and oddly distant, like the smell of woodlands after a storm or morning grass after the dew had settled.

When they entered a small dinning hall with a fine dinner table that could seat about ten or so others, a new smell wafted into manor. It was sweet and carried tendril of spice and meat behind it. The hall was empty for but a single occupant seated at one end of the table. Now out of her frilly nightgown and dressed in simple clothes – pants, loose shirt and boots – her long black mane was tied neatly behind her head to unmask sheeny earrings made of amethyst . The morning sun struck her and illuminated her with a golden glow boarding closely to maddening perfection.

The girl sure dispelled the myth that women took long to bath and prepare. Or had he and Yousuf been touring the house for a while? A bell rang, returning his thoughts.

Jazella scowled, tossed a glare at her father and the old man grumbled lowly before taking a seat opposite his daughter. When the sell-sword took to guarding behind Yousuf, the old man laughed swept a palm and instructed him to take a seat. So he did, he first removed the straps of his sword harness and hung up on the chair he took at the centre of the table, between the father and daughter.

The silence was disgustingly clammy, it even gave the myriad of sweet smells from the kitchen a gelatinous texture to them that even made Akhen mildly uneasy and he hardly found himself in such disconcerting notions. It went on for a few chimes before Yousuf interjected abruptly.

“Jazella, this is Akhen. He'll be your bodyguard for the day.” a sweep of a veined hand introduced. The young woman snorted.

“Oh? From the way he fondled me earlier I thought he was my future husband,” she sneered, eyed Akhen angrily and crossed her arms over her chest, “Even so, I don't need a bodyguard. We look out for one another at The Market and you know how I feel about violence, father.”

“Jazella..” Yousuf's voiced heaved a sigh, “It's just for today. He'll just watch over you as you work, he'll even deal with those... thugs,” the voice seethed, angrily “that – accosted – you. He doesn't have to do anything violent. He'll just put a scare in anyone who tries to discomfort you.”

“Father!” her voice was almost pleading, very musical. “You don't have to do this! I'll be fine.”

Yousuf started to redden before a cortege of servants came rushing into the dinning hall. They were six in total but moved with the speed of twice the number. In a few chimes they'd set the table, plate and eating utensils, a smell drifted in Akhen's nostrils and he looked down to see a plate of spiced sausage, seasoned eggs, softly toasted bread and pulpy orange juice. Akhen looked up, saw that Yousuf and Jazella had began to eat and he too indulged himself slowly. He was sure he hadn't eaten food so well prepared, so delectable and sweet. Sundry tastes danced like swimming flames on his tongue, striding through his senses with a mixture of saccharine and piquant. Since he'd only eaten the slop and soup they served at the the Pig's Foot, this was divine, almost mythic in its enchanted flavours. Food had never tasted so – transcendent.

Perhaps it was because it was free.

When they'd finished eating, the empty plates was taken away and the table was cleared. Yousuf reclined, rubbed his foamy beard and sighed.

“My daughter. Your mother entrusted me with the responsibility of being your guardian, she is with the gods now, within Yahal's beautiful domain. But I am old now. When we first came here, you asked me to go alone to Syliras to see the bustle of the city, I agreed. When you asked me not to bind you to tradition, to find you a husband because said that is not true love, I agreed. When you asked me to give you independence because you did not want to work alongside me, I agreed. When you wanted to go on your own, begin your own, I agreed...

Now, I beg you my child. Give me the same respect. Please agree, just for this one day.”

It took a space and finally the girl sighed then conceded with a nod.
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