Placeholder Children of the Elder One (Seasonal Challenge/Job Thread)

A strange couple hires Akhen and a few other mercenaries to escort them to the Quay, where that strange ship has docked.

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

Children of the Elder One (Seasonal Challenge/Job Thread)

Postby Akhen on August 25th, 2016, 9:04 pm

39th of Summer 516 AV – High Noon

The sun blistered and crackled like the whips of a hellish torturer, his sword glistened a cool, doleful crimson and his hair frizzled in pain. His breath was a ragged wheeze and his eyes were a chilly, tired black. The chainmail he wore was gnawing at his ribs from the hit it took from that blunted mace a chime ago. His face was caked in blood and dirt. There was a protesting clutter of quoits to his left and bodies bent at awkward angles under their feet. The orchestra had long finished its play, but Death still hung around them to conduct her sultry melody.

“Where is she?!” expostulated a vicious roar as a body charged! Akhen raised his sword, his teeth grit and he matched his attacker with a sluggish swing that blasted the wooden shield of his mad opponent apart, staggering them both.

The man's came hurdling his bulk toward Akhen savagely, and quickly bent head-over-heels when a crossbow bolt spilt his skull open!

“Got'em!” rapped the mercenary behind Akhen, a man of dark-brown complexion with blue eyes and slivering hair. He stood from his half-kneel, dropped the crossbow and nodded at Akhen, who returned the gesture. “That was the last of 'em, the rest probably followed the second carriage. If we hurry, we can catch up and cut them down before they get out of the mouth of the Sunset Quarters.” the man said, drawing his medium sword. He walked over the bodies littering the streets of The Den toward the small overturned carriage and removed the tacks of the chestnut-coloured horses that had been squealing about the ground and saddled into one of them.

“Oi, oi!” a boyish voice catcalled, following the hand slapping Akhen between the shoulders. The latter snarled and a laugh penetrated the empty street. The young man beside Akhen was a light-skinned youth, slim with slacked shoulders, with starry black eyes and cherry-blonde hair. A clacking followed as he put leather straps in Akhen's hands and said : “Had to chase 'em down, Myri's tits they were fast! And here, my gift to you. Though the saddle's a bit – bloody...

Now saddle up big boy, we've got some hunting to do! Ain't that right, dad?”

The dark-brown man came trotting his horse beside Akhen as the mercenary strapped in his sword and saddled up. “I'm not your dad, boy!” the older man knotted irritably, “And I would ask you not to call upon the Goddess's breasts in your curses!”

The palfrey given to Akhen was coercive and unnervingly restless, especially for one who rode horses rarely like himself. The afro-haired man clutched the reins bitterly and the horse bucked, then began to sprint down the street without his command. It took a chime and the two remaining mercenaries of the once five-man party caught up and rode speedily beside Akhen.

The boy was explaining with a grin, saying : “Hey! Look, I'm just saying, I'm guessing Myri had a nice pair on her! It's a complement!” the older man then snarled, and barked “Watch your tongue!”

“You know!” the youth began, brushing off the words. “I had a dream last night! It was between me, Myri and Tyveth... Wooh! Heated stuff, especially when Eyris showed up! For a woman said to know her stuff, trust me... she knew her stuff!”

“Shut up!”

As the argument ensued between the two men, Akhen kept quiet. His mind raced and with each rough buck from the horse was a question and memory. Each tug, a recollection... How did I get here? Why did I take this job?

Angry husbands. Star-crossed lovers. Holy sacraments. Pregnant youths. Death everywhere... How did it come to this? Why?

“Damn it!” he snarled horsely...
Last edited by Akhen on September 12th, 2016, 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Children of the Elder One (Seasonal Challenge/Job Thread)

Postby Akhen on September 12th, 2016, 1:08 pm

Eailer that day...

The pouch clanked on the table and out its mouth spilled out a few glinting mizas. Akhen kept looking up and inspected the imposing figure in his sight. It was a man retiring out the final years of middle age with short grey-black hair, a harsh weathered face, strong arms confined in a heavy brown cloak. This man is, or was a Syliran knight, Akhen thought with recline in his seat.

The old man's movements were stiff and overly mechanical due to his stocky build. His voice was sharp and formal, “We wanted to pay you upfront, we believe transparency allows for honesty and we need honest, capable mercenaries.”

“Transparency and honesty aren't what mercenaries are known for, you know? That's actually the first time I've heard those three words used in a sentence without a punchline at the end.” Akhen replied flatly. His eyes steered toward the pouch across him and he conjured up the whole conversation he'd had with the man : “Before I take that pouch, I need a little clarification. So, you've hired, what? Ten of us sell-swords to protect a pair of lovers because the girl's husband had been hunting you down all the way from Kenash?” he summarized.

“Aye,” the veteran returned respectfully. “You see, our family has finally arrived in the city and we need escorts to take us to them. We would have left to join up with them sooner but it seems we were marred by complications that prevented us from doing so.”

The string of words brought a curious brow to Akhen's stoic features, “What kind of complications?”

The old knight paced, two steps forward and two steps back. “Well, when we arrived here at the beginning of Spring we were sure the ship would be waiting for us but it seemed not to have yet come, so we waited, hiding among the lost souls about the Sunset Quarters. We were patient, aye, but we knew Ser Vernen was gnawing at our heels.

And one eve', late Spring, as I was out returning from my daily sacrament, one of Vernen's men identified and engaged me. I killed him swiftly but I knew then that Ser Vernen and his thugs were here, in this damned place. So I took Brother Cath and Sister Naeila and hid among the wretches in the Tent City. We have been bidding our time ever since and it now seems to have been fruitful, our family has come and we must join them!”

Akhen felt a tinge crawl about his spine, the whole story was just – unusual. The sell-sword hummed, “And now, my question is, why hire ten mercenaries? That's almost something of a small army by my recollection,” Akhen also wanted to know where the money was coming from, how they were able to even afford ten mercenaries ( himself included in that number) but he reminded himself that pay was pay, it didn't matter where the money was coming from principally.

Three steps forward, two steps back. The old man abruptly leaned into the hardwood table, he steadied himself with an open palm. Grey-green eyes locked with Akhen's black. For a moment Akhen forgot that they were in his rented home as his eyes fell on the black tattoo across the man's hairy forearm, it looked like an octopus, whose tentacles spread down into the man's fingers. Akhen was sure he'd seen that tattoo before but where?

“In our time here, Sister Naeila has been kind enough to show a few lost souls the way and we were able to use the eyes and ears of our brothers and sisters to inform us of the doings of Ser Vernen, who has brokered deals with some of the gangs in his time here; some thirty men are now under his employ and with the recent flood and chaos in the city, the numbers could be well up into the fifties. He's the one with the small army, I'm afraid.” the old man interjected, moving back to place a hand on the knobby hilt of his sheathed broadsword beneath his cloak.

Akhen leaned back, feeling slightly uneasy by the man's words. “And I guess it's these same eyes and ears of yours that informed you of my whereabouts?” and the very same ones funding this job, he mused internally. The former knight nodded.

“Though I fear we've recently lost a set, one belonging to a Brother Dermis. A bright man with a promising future in the family, it's a shame his heart was too blackened by this city and he sold us out for a little extra coin. Ser Vernen now knows what we're planning and I'm sure he's moving swiftly to strike against us so we must act quickly and that is why I am here, Ser Akhen.

Today is the day and you are the last man we require to help us reach our family at the Quay.”

The Quay? Akhen thought for a moment and it all came back to him. He remembered where he'd seen that tattoo before, it belonged to the members of that odd crew that had docked in the city some few days ago! Akhen had seen a few members spotting it on various places on their bodies. They were an odd, quiet bunch, odder still because Akhen had seen pretty much race on and around that looming ship whose banner was that oddly shaped cephalopod.

A family are they? Interesting. Akhen thought albeit darkly. The corners of the sell-sword's lips tugged for a moment. “But why me? Not that I'm complaining, but I'm intrigued as to why you want me to be a part of this job?”

For the first time that morning the wrinkles on the veteran's face stretched, happily : “Were you not one of those who partook in the expedition into the Temple of the Unknown to retrieve the slabs? Aye, we were watching. And here you are, alive and well days after that ordeal. That shows potential; a man such as yourself would make a good brother were your heart was not so... vile. So many lives, lost... They will be mourned in due time, they are martyrs of course for their souls are in a better place now.”

The words quirked a brow from Akhen.

He continued : “For now, you'll make a good asset to a grander cause, Ser Akhen.” a bell rung in the distance and the old man turned toward the door. “Come to the Tent City at the strike of the second bell after the next, worry not about finding us, we'll be informed upon your arrival and send a necessary escort so you can reach us.”

Akhen watched as the man left and when the hinges of the door clanked shut and the cool breeze of the Sunset Quarters normalized in the room, he sneered as he eyed the fat coin pouch on the table : “Bastard couldn't even tell me his name.”

The afro-haired sell-sword took a few chimes to prepare, firstly by lighting his pipe and filling it with some Blue Vision whilst dressing appropriately for the job ahead as he smoked. He piled on his worn jerkin over his shirt, a belt to buckle his pants and pulled up his light boots before fitting his sheathed sword into his sword harness and putting it on. Then he took his pipe, a small bit of Blue Vision and a few coins out the pouch for a meal at the infamous Pig's Foot Tavern.

As he sat eating in his usual seat; a little corner in the tavern that allowed for a broad view of the tavern and all its conversations, his ears picked up on a little gossip from two drunken men.

“I-- I'm tellin' yoo! Found'em layin' in ar gutter, split ear-ter-ear wit 'em tattoos all ovar his body!” the man nodded into his tankard. “'hen, las' night I se' some men about the Tents, yonder! Lookin' for sumthin'... Can' recall much – Hey! Yer bar bitch, git me sum more ale, I ne'd tar recall sumthin' hehe...” he chuckled as one of the working girls came about to collect his mug. The drunk grinned at his friend as the red-hair neared.

As the girl leaned forward to pick up the mug, the man pounced! The girl shrieked in his grasp and the tavern grew into a fit laughter as she squirmed while he fondled her breast. “Nice, hehe...” he leered.

The girl kicked and screamed before rearing, her elbow shooting up and jabbing the drunkard between the eyes, knocking him out instantly! The tavern was quiet for a moment, then it erupted into a fit of cheers and laughter as the girl wormed out the man's slacked grip and strutted away angrily. The man's friend watched, gaping worriedly as he poked his snoring drinking buddy sprawled stiffly on the table.

Akhen watched, finished eating, paid up the coins of his meal and left. He stepped out the doors of the tavern and turned his eyes toward the Tent City; oblivious, not of what was to come but of who that man that drunk was talking about. That man who was not really a man but a boy, no older than some twelve summers old, that was butchered like some common livestock and left for the city to stumble upon a few days ago.

That one, lost, pliant soul. That one, Dermis Bertek...
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Children of the Elder One (Seasonal Challenge/Job Thread)

Postby Akhen on September 19th, 2016, 2:20 am

His escort was a bright-eyed boy of some ten years of age from Akhen's observation. The boy had long waxen hair that fell to his shoulders and like most kids there was bathed in dirt from head to toe; he also walked bare foot through the soft gravel between the tents, dressed in rags and tatters that hung to his slacked, seemingly starving form. As he guided Akhen through the web of fluttering tents, deeper into the maze of fabric, hide and odours he kept humming an old Syliran war-song , his sweet vocals often chirped with the birds fluttering above the tents.

They were a myriad of them, the tents, in all shapes, sizes and colours. Some were like single sheets of extravagance with purples and golds, chequered banners and flags, and others, like dilapidated coves with raggedy strips and straps of various colours washed out from the weather and age. Each was as unique as the people who too sanctuary within them. The ecology of the entire encampment was so vast and full of life that Akhen could see why it was dubbed the Tent City, for indeed it was a miniature city with its own merchants, denizens and atmosphere.

“The Flood doesn't seem to have affected this place much,” Akhen thought aloud as they walked passed a tent.

A little girl with jet black eyes and hair was playing outside with a small poppet when Akhen and his escort neared. The child turned, smiled and waved at the mercenary for a tick before a thin, bedraggled Chaktawe woman came flying out a tent suddenly and tore the little girl inside, chiding her in shiber!

The girl's cries faded behind Akhen after an interim of walking deeper into the labyrinth of material. He and the boy walked so far into campgrounds that Akhen's thighs began to throb and further more, that boy hadn't stopped humming the Syliran war-song, and it was starting to get to Akhen and the hard stares of the people there weren't helping to calm his nerves either, but he kept quiet – he'd even lit up his pipe of Blue Vision along the way and the song started sounding good again after the herb writhed into his body.

A few more chimes and a bout of paranoia rippled into Akhen's skull. What if this is some sort of ambush? Maybe this isn't even a job and I was lured here so they can butcher me? Akhen thought, then sneered as a memory of the job in the Temple of the Unknown flashed in his head. Let them try... the sell-sword thought, reaching upward for his sword but downplaying it as him rubbing his coarse stubble.

“There!” the boy finally said, pointing toward a large, white tent encircled inconspicuously by a ring of smaller dusty brown ones. Akhen looked up and after a few more steps, the boy abruptly sprinted away laughing into an adjacent tangle of rags at the sight of his friends.

Alone, the afro-haired man continued until he penetrated the circle. Within, he found the large tent erected a bit further than he anticipated. Akhen turned to one of the smaller tents and beside it were two wooden carriages reined by four chestnut-coloured horses, each. A young man was busy brushing one of the horses before he saw Akhen and whistled, bringing the heads of the men and women scattered about the larger tent ahead. A soft whistle behind Akhen replied and the young man nodded, sheathing the dirk that he'd slowly been drawing. “They've been waiting for yer, ser!” he said before continuing with his task.

As Akhen neared the tent his sharp sight had already caught the eight other figures meandering about. A group of two men and two women dressed in light, black leather armour, splashed across the chest with a blood-red bird shaped like a crow, sat around a small, dead camp-fire, drinking and eating.

They spared Akhen some disgruntled glances and resumed their silent ceremony after the mercenary walked past. The ringing of swords was all around the camp as a Benshira youth traded feeble, sparing blows with a man of dark-brown complexion. Each time the youth failed to connect a hit with his scimitar, he either laughed miserably or apologized to the visibly irate man before him. Lastly, leaning playfully on a barrel beside a large composite bow and long iron-shafted war-hammer was a boyish looking Inarta; cherry-blonde haired and slacked shouldered. He was whispering into the ear of a stout, muscular woman with pale, bluish skin – an Isur, as the right, lustrous arm of dark-grey fumbling around the crotch of the young man indicated.

The Inarta, whilst squeezing the breast of the short, chuckling woman looked up and beamed a smile. “Oi, oi! Our final member has arrived! Akhen, yeah?”

The afro-haired man nodded gingerly. The Inarta smirked, eyed Akhen carefully and whispered something in the Isur's ear as she turned and looked over the sell-sword too; her hard, full face and gleaning myrtle-enshrouded eyes lit up amorously before the Inarta pushed himself off the barrel, folded his arms over the woman's shoulders to grab some of her chest and laughed, “Name's Kandrim, infamously known as One-shot, and the name, you ask? It ain't because I'm good with my bow over there, only.” the youth smirked slyly.

“And this little piece of fine Sultros ass,” Kandrim's hand snaked away and there was a sudden sharp slap of skin behind the Isur that caused her to giggle haughtily, “is Lylian. And that there, is my dad.”

There was a growl behind Akhen, then a voice : “Ain't your dad, boy! You've been at this joke since the morning and we just met, and blessed gods, I know I've never slept with an Inarta girl before.” the man walked beside Akhen and pressed his fist to his chest, “Aye, jokes aside. I'm William Falconus, and no, you can't call me Will. Nobody calls me that.”

"What about, Willy?” Lylian pursed with a grin that made William grumble. “No, not Will, Willard, Wilhelm, Willy, nothing! Just William!” the man brooded as he pointed his medium sword at Lylian, before tossing a look back.

Akhen turned and looked at the Benshira boy behind him. The youth was no more than some sixteen or seventeen summers, with dark-coppered skin and long silken hair. He dressed no differently from Akhen though he wore much lighter colours than the afro-haired mercenary, opting though to also wear a kaftan that bunched about his neck.

“Ain't it hot?” Akhen mused flatly in shiber.

The boy chuckled softly, scratched the back of his head and grinned, “Not enough,” he replied in equal speech. “I-- I'm Bakr, Bakr A'nel!” he shrilled nervously in Common.


“Are we all here then?” William intoned, sheathing his sword. Kandrim shook his head and smiled. “I guess so, though I'm guessing we'll have to wait for Vox now.”

“Vox?” Akhen asked as he looked over the Inarta who was dressed loosely in some leather pants, light-brown boots and a jerkin he left unbuttoned to expose his defined chest. Kandrim nodded, squeezed one of Lylian's breast and explained, “Aye, people just know him as 'Vox', leads that band of cut-throats you past when you came here. They call themselves The Blood Crows, a mean pack those ones are.”

Akhen hummed and found to place to sit – a barrel beside that of Kandrim. “And where did this Vox disappear too?” the sell-sword asked. The Inarta pursed, “Went to go take a piss,”

“Won't be long th---”

“A bell ago.” Kandrim smirked slyly, nestling into Lylian's neck and kissing it.

The five of them were a few feet away from the large tent closed off by a flap, and waiting in a silence often broken by Lylian's chuckles and Kandrim's hisses of pleasure. William moved up to Akhen as the mercenary lit up the pipe again and took a pull of the remaining Blue Vision. The older looking man grumbled.

“They just met this morning and they've been at it like lovers,” William said. “They're both shameless!”

“Oi, pops! We heard that!” Kandrim turned to look at the old man, his eyes flashed knavishly. “And all you have to do is ask, Lylian and I don't mind sharing.”

William growled, his face darkened. “I ain't yo--”

“Look, Lylian and I have been talking. Wondering which of you will be our, friend , after this job is done and you, pops, I'm sad to say, are dragging your feet. Ivak's fiery blood, even Vox is ahead of you.”

“Wha! Why you! I'll--” a medium sword flashed. “Who's first?” Akhen interrupted suddenly.

Kandrim glanced at him and smirked. Lylian pointed, “He is.” the finger was trained on Bakr, whose cheeks flushed and a small prayer to Yahal left his lips.

“But don't worry big boy, you're not far beneath.” the Inarta winked and turned as a whistle from the front brought up his attention. Everyone turned and saw a hulking form trudge toward the tent. It was a man dressed in fine leather armour of a dark, brooding black with a crimson crow splashed across the chest. The man was a giant, thick with hard muscle that showed through his vesture, scars danced across his bald head down to his face and a gnarly war-axe was at his waist. He was dark, bronzed by the sun, and grotesquely bullish.

“Vox?” Akhen asked lowly as the behemoth came hurdling down the path toward the tent, his band trailing behind him.

“Aye.” everyone said.

“Where is he?!” Vox snarled at the group. His men stood cautiously behind him, arms steady on their weapons. Kandrim shrugged and beamed, “Vox! Good to see you again, hope you left some of Brega's girls well enough for the rest of us to visit later.”

Vox's chest rumbled and his grinned. His teeth were plated in sliver and glistened when he smiled. “Barely. Now, where is he?”

“I dunno,” the Inarta shrugged again. In the mean while, Akhen had looked up from his pipe and had seen Vox staring intently at him before turning to the tent. “I'm going in, all this waiting is making me sick.”

“Sure it wasn't something you got from those cheap whores at Brega's?” Lylian cackled heartily. Vox snarled and loomed over the Isur woman suddenly, she was tiny when Akhen compared their heights, she almost seemed like a bug in his wake ready to be crushed, “Quiet you, Isur bitch! I know you've got thick skin, but we'll see how thick it is once I cleave through that little head of yours with my axe!”

“Try it, limp-prick!” Lylian hissed like a cat, her neck craned and her teeth grit tightly. The bluish veins about her pale skin seemed to glow with her anger!

“I'm goin' too ri--” Vox razed, his hand was at his waist but a tune pierced through the mob intensity, the music seemed to frizzle around them and bring a wave of confusion and calm to them suddenly.

“We will see you now,” was a soft, dreamy giggle. Everyone turned to the tent and saw a paling youth with ivory-blonde hair, he was carelessly slim, almost emaciated within the confines of his flowing frock of deep burgundy. He was beautiful, almost girlishly so, but it was his eyes that were truly striking. Those deep, piercing eyes of an bright blue that seemed almost to absorb one and send them to a cold, desolate tundra to face a palpable nothingness that struck Akhen, they struck everyone, with a sense of apprehension and – madness.

The boy, who Akhen could only guess was Cath, giggled and placed a finely crafted lute to his thin, pink lips. He blew at the tube and with quick fingers made the sweetest music Akhen had ever heard before it disappeared into the tent with a giddy whirl. A shudder ran down the mercenary's spine and he felt a hand on his shoulder that brought his senses back alertly. Bakr stared at him and grinned sheepishly.

“Strange bunch these Sylirans, eh?” the boy asked in shiber.

“You don't know the half of it.” Akhen returned with a pull of his pipe, frowning as images from earlier that summer came flooding into his sight.

Nobody knew the half of it... nobody. Akhen thought to himself as he followed the whole party inside that gaping entrance of darkness. Into the tent, into today's job...
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Children of the Elder One (Seasonal Challenge/Job Thread)

Postby Akhen on September 16th, 2017, 11:17 pm

They were gathered around the scored oaken table like disciples in the audience of an erudite teacher. The Blood Crows flanked Akhen's left and the rest of the motley crew was standing to his right. The tent was high and brightly lit with cressets and wavering tapers and the smell of incense was a compounding concoction of narcotic chemistry so intense in its fragrance, it made the Blue Vision on Akhen's tongue lose not only its flavour but its effects of the man's harried mind. He believed he was so sobered up that whatever the perfume was, it made his vision sharper and his hearing clearer to the point he heard the breathing of each person around him.

It made him uncomfortable and he was sure he wasn't the only one who felt the effects.

After a period of silence often quelled by the garish whisper of a lute behind the curtain at the innermost of the bivouac, William finally snorted, turned his dark gaze toward the old man, their employer, and asked: “Aye Ser Alann, what's the plan?”

Grey-green eyes looked up and the finely gauntleted hand of the former Syliran knight, who now wore the well kept armour of the Order itself, gestured toward the mouldy, gnawed sheet of yellowed parchment on the table. Etched by what Akhen could only describe as a once delicate hand were the fading lines of a city map – Sunberth's city map.

With a cough to clear his throat, the mercenaries then turned to listen to the man they now knew was Ser Alann as he began to speak, “I acquired this city map from one of our brothers stationed in the city some time back, he was an unruly conman for a while until he met us and joined the family and as a gift for showing him the path to absolute righteousness he gave this to me, believing I might have some use for it at some point in time – and I'm happy to say he was right.

Before I continue, I'm sure all of you now know the circumstances we are now under and I believe I needn't explain myself once again. However I must now clarify that this task you will be undertaking is a desperate one, for you see...” Alann paused when he heard the cloying notes of a lute play at the back of the tent.

A soft, tired voice giggled out the curtains, “Cath! Stop it... you're being silly.” it said whimsically. A series of jutting movements brought the attention of the sell-swords to the curtains and they turned to watch the ivory-blonde haired Cath emerge with his back turned toward them. His slippery, sly voice whispered the words : “Come my love, they must see you. They must see your beauty and know what it is they are paid to protect!”

“Cath...” the girl's voice fell a decibel as Cath reached in and took her arm. With a giddy whirl he turned back to them and looked at each one intently before smiling and bowing with an almost child-like exaggeration. As his garb fluttered loosely down slim body, Akhen took a moment to deeply take in the features of the boy. Foremost, Cath was young, a summer or two older than Bakr but still young, even more so with his elegantly girlish features; his frame was wispy, flighty and lacked and discernible muscle, however, along the gaunt swelling contours of his left bicep Akhen found what he was really looking for. A tattoo of inky, tentacled blackness along the lines of sinew.

The mercenary felt even more uneasy. Though the feeling was somehow compounded upon with a certain writhing malaise when a figure egressed from the accented linen drapery.

Her hair was a free and flowing silken sable that fell down to her wide, delicate hips. Her eyes were wide, the colour of an impassioned myrtle that somehow fell into a bleary, seductive languor of a burning omniscience as if she could see the sins of a man with a single glance and know his darkest fears from thereafter. She was oval-faced with a small, dainty nose that Akhen swore only smelt the perfumes of the realms untouched and plump, soft lips matched her aery, pale skin with a flawlessness rarely seen by those around her. She was young, about Cath's inscrutable age, with all the girlish features of lost youth still retained by her, but still mature enough with each newly acquired feminine expression to show that she had blossomed into early womanhood.

Her cheeks were rosy and full while her frame were statuesque, with limbs nether too long nor too short. And a height of equal description. She were very loose, ivory robes that slacked down her body and did nothing to hide her pregnancy.

Kandrim let out a wolfish whistle that caught the attention of William's vicious scrutiny, though Lylian mused seductively and tapped the Inarta on the shoulder before whispering something in his ear, The words only seemed to excite the youth as his smile widened and eyebrows rose quizzically. “Oh, indeed...” was all he said with a slur.

A glance toward Vox saw the large silver-toothed mercenary grin and fold his massive arms over his chest. He eyed the girl with an unbridled concupiscence that he cared not to hide nor cared that anyone around him saw. The two men in his unit smirked equally and nodded at one another.

“Yahal, what a creature...” Bakr murmured lowly in his native tongue. His copper features reddened with a flush and he drew his kaftan over his head when he saw Akhen staring at him. A few abashing phrases left the boy's lips and he looked away when Cath and the girl came over.

Alann dipped his head in a small gesture of greeting and spoke: “Brother Cath, Sister Naeila, I was just about to explain the reason...”

Naeila raised a palm and the old man promptly kept quiet. Her eyes drifted over the mercenaries one at a time and she smiled after taking in each one of their features, “Greetings,” she began with a voice as soft as newly fallen snow, “I am Naeila, Brother Alann is my protector and Cath, my lover. I am pleased to meet you all,” her eyes roamed about and stopped on Kandrim and Lylian and she smiled, almost with a blush, as she looked at them.

“As you are all aware and can now see, I am with child and my hus-- my former husband, Vernen Blackword, is after me. I fear that if he finds us, he might just take away the only things I've ever come to love; Brother Alann, my dear Cath and... our child.” she said with a surprising lack of emotion. Her eyes closed when Cath neared and embraced her, he touched her forehead to his and whispered a few inaudible words before he turned, his hand on her stomach and his eyes on the party.

“I am Cath,” the youth began cheerily, “and Naeila here, not only is my love, but she and I are bound together by fate itself to be lovers. I know this because she came to me in a dream and the voice of our father came to her one day and told her of my coming. The stars themselves know this and you must help us reunite with our family – where we can finally live together in peace and eternal paradise with our brothers and sisters.”

“Oh, Cath...” Naeila started, “Will it be as beautiful as you keep telling me? Will it be the paradise father promised me when I heard him that night?”

Cath opened his mouth to speak but gestured toward Alann, who nodded and sank his head in pride, “Sister Naeila, you have heard father speak and have used his eternal wisdom to guide the wretched from this sinful place! That alone is proof that the paradise he spoke to you of will be as he wills it, if not better!”

The party watched the scene with a few passive glances toward one another. William and Bakr eyed Akhen for an answer but the mercenary's only response was a pull of his Blue Vision and a stern look back at the map. The cloud dissipated as Kandrim and Lylian shrugged at one another before Vox snarled at Alann.

“Old man, cut the shit and get back to business! The sooner we get this done, the sooner the three of you can go prance about in happy-land like the brainsick lambs you are! We frankly don't care who this forsaken father you keep on yammering on about is, we just want to do the job you paid us for and that's all!” the brute sneered with a slam on the table.

A silence came into the tent before Lylian said, “As much as I hate to admit it, he's right. We came here to do a job, one you paid us for, and standing about endlessly talking about the voices in your heads isn't going to finish it any sooner.”

“I agree...” Bakr whimpered softly out the bundle of his caftan.

“And besides,” Akhen interjected suddenly, “From what you keep telling us, this Vernen you keep talking about is definitely closing in on us as we speak. We cannot afford to lose more time meandering about like this, we cannot and do not afford that luxury, especially if he's as dangerous as you portray him.”

A glance toward the Afro-haired mercenary made Alann nod solemnly. “Indeed, you're right Ser Akhen. Please forgive us; all of you. The past few days have been difficult on all three of us, to say the least. Perhaps it is the excitement of finally reuniting with our family that has made us so careless. But that ends this instant. Let us proceed...”

A collective nod brought the party together and they all gathered around the table like disciples in the audience of an erudite teacher...

Last edited by Akhen on September 20th, 2017, 11:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Children of the Elder One (Seasonal Challenge/Job Thread)

Postby Akhen on September 16th, 2017, 11:20 pm

“And may Father watch of over you as you fight on the side of his children and together, in eternal paradise, we shall meet and live forever...” Naeila softly uttered the last words of the prayer she'd recited to the party. Much to the dismay of the latter; Alann had asked them to partake in the strange holy sacrament for the sake of luck and protection. The words the pregnant Naeila said were largely a bunch of evocations and incantations, proceeded by her touching the foreheads of everyone and wishing them individual success in their endeavour. And lastly, a few sips of the scented wine brought by Cath finished the ceremony and the party began to exit the tent.

The plan was relatively simple, Akhen thought back to it as he stepped out of the tent, shortly after Kandrim. He took a puff of his Blue Vision and felt it touch his sensibilities almost immediately. He recalled the plan's layout and looked up at the sky as he blew out some smoke. The clouds, drifting in an ocean of azure, seemed to meld with the smoke as Akhen mulled over the idea. A breeze washed over him and he closed his eyes for a bit, feeling an odd sense of euphoria wash over his body unlike any he was used too.

“Strange...:” he said to himself.

“Yeah, it sure is.” a voice beside him spoke up, William was the last of Akhen's party to leave the tent and he stood beside the man. “Probably one of the strangest jobs I've had the pleasure of working.” he confessed, his gruff voice biting the edge of each syllable.

Akhen opened his eyes and sighed, “They only get stranger after your first one.” he mused with whiff of smoke. William raised a brow and rubbed his chin, “You suppose?” he asked credulously. Akhen simply nodded and turned to the man, asking : “Back there, you called the old man by his name. Do you know him from somewhere?”

“Aye,” William admitted with a nod, “Though I'll acknowledge its been some time since I last saw him, at first I wasn't sure it was even him when he approached me back at the Pig's Foot two nights ago.”

Akhen raised a brow, William continued: “Ser Alann Westchester, he was an old knight of the Order up there in Sylira, years ago. He was a captain, really. A noble man, a man of his convictions. Not a lot of people even remember him now but I do and I guess it's because when I heard about what happened to his daughter and granddaughter while I still had dreams of being a squire way back when, it hit a little to close to home for me and even made me follow in his footsteps and just leave the city right after.”

“What happened?” Akhen asked with pull of his pipe. William's features scrunched up a bit and his eyes darted to the side to see if anyone was watching. He sighed and spoke lowly, very quietly.

“His daughter, Kristen if I remember correctly, had a girl with some boy in the city and I guess he wanted to do nothing her or the kid, so that became the end of that. Though not wanting that to stop her goals, I guess she moved to Nyka to pursue her dreams or something of the sort. But that doesn't matter, since it seemed like Alann didn't mind it and just wanted his daughter to be happy. So some eight or so summers after a while apart, the girl was coming back for a visit all the way from Nyka with her daughter, his granddaughter, but...”

“They never made it?” Akhen asked a little knowingly. William nodded sombrely and sighed.

“The guards said they found the caravan torn apart; some said it was bandits, others said it was monsters but nobody could be sure. Kristen and the little girl...” William swallowed nervously. “After that, Ser Alann left his post and nobody ever heard of or from him since.”

“Until today.” Akhen said softly. “And it seems he found a new family while he was away, too.”

William turned and looked at the mercenary with a look of abashment before turning away, “Akhen, that's your name, right?”

“Loosen your tongue when you get to the 'h' and you'll pronounce it a bit better. But yeah, that's my name.” the mercenary replied with an exhalation of smoke. William gestured a small incline to show that he understood and opened his mouth to speak: “Akhen, do you think family is so easy to replace? I mean... looking at Ser Alann, he looks content, he looks like the man I remember seeing so many years ago and he's even going this far to protect these kids he considers his brother and sister. Is it... is this normal?”

Akhen breathed in and looked at the man across him. In that short conversation they'd just had, the mercenary had unconsciously peered a little too deeply into the man's old life to know almost everything about him. William Falconus, the hard, consecutive man before him, had lost someone and now that he was faced with a situation that mirrored his own in some ways, he was uncertain about how to feel. And in truth, neither did Akhen. This whole affair was just a little too much for them to make any sense of it.

“I would be lying if I said I knew the answer to that, William. Maybe one day I will, but today isn't that day.” Akhen admitted. “I did say that things only get stranger once you confront them the first time.”

“And what do you do when you're there,” William asked.

Akhen shrugged. “I move on. Like I always do... and unfortunately, I don't know if that makes me a wise man or a fool. Either way, I still make my mizas at the end of the day, and I guess that's all that truly matters.”

William looked at the young man before him and softened his hard, doleful features and nodded. “I guess, that's all that really matters, for people like us.” he said.

Akhen looked at him and turned when a figure came running toward them. It was Bakr and he now wore some light chainmail beneath his light jerkin. “Akhen!” he began in Shiber, “The carriages are ready and we're now waiting for you and William to join us.”

Akhen nodded and turned to William with a gesture, “They're waiting for us. Let's go.” he spoke in Common.

It was a short walk to the carriages and neither one of the men exchanged words. When they arrived, they were met by the reminder of the group, Kandrim and Lylian, who also wore the chainmail provided to them. As they approached, the Inarta smirked: “Well, at least our employers know how to use protection.”

Lylian let out a sultry chuckle when William rolled his eyes and snorted. Bakr darted into the carriage and returned a minute later with two pieces of chainmail, handing one to each of the men. “The quality of the metal isn't so good from what I see. It's cheap but it can get the job done.” the Benshira said with a blush.

“Oh, and I thought the Isur were the ones who knew their metal,” Lylian winked at the boy, who cursed and shied away with a prayer to Yahal. “He's right though, this the perhaps the cheapest our employers here could afford, so if anything happens, rely on your skill with you weapon and not your armour.”

“Yeah, yeah...” William grunted as he began to add the chainmail to his vesture.

“Oi, baby. You know I always rely on my skill.” Kandrim said, leaning amorously into the Isur. The latter eyed the Inarta and began fondling him before Bakr coughed into his fist. “Wanna join us?” Lylian giggled as she turned and eyed the youth.

“I...I...” the Benshira stammer, “By Yahal, this woman...” he quipped suddenly in Shiber, turning to look at Akhen, who'd began to re-equip his sword-harness. The hilt of the sell-sword's sword peeked out one shoulder and he fastened the straps a little tighter. Before he turned and looked at the tent, where three figures were emerging.

Beneath the confines of his cloak, Ser Alann's armour caught the sun's light and glint slightly, as Cath and Naelia trailed behind the imposing former knight like shadows dancing giddily. A quick glance at the carriage beside theirs and Akhen saw the Blood Crows, who Ser Alann had hired days before Akhen's motley band and who had equipped their own personal armour, were now dressed in heavy black suits, a large, blood red crow, splashed like blood on their chests. Vox stood in front of his band, his armour, heavy, dark and exuding the purest form of malice.

The plan was relatively simple, Akhen told himself as he watched the boy he'd seen prepare the horses come gliding in from the front of Vox's carriage. He knelt before Naeila and used his body as a ladder as she climbed into the wooden coach. Next was Cath, who simply trampled over the boy and giggled into his wind-instrument as he went in after his lover. Ser Alann went up to the carriage and said a few words before he turned and joined Akhen's crew.

“Remember the plan?” he asked them. They nodded and Bakr went to the pilot's seat with Lylian. Akhen flanked the right side of the carriage and William took the left. Kandrim guarded the back and Alann went inside. They were the decoys, of that much they knew.

A sharp whistle left Bakr's lips and the slap of reins on horse hide saw the carriage begin to move forward. Lylian stood up from her spot shouted, “Alright, you thin-skinned sheep! Let's go make our money!”

Kandrim chuckled and shouted back, “Oi, oi... you know we're only hard where it matters!”

And if only they knew, how hard everything from that point on would truly be...

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