Flashback Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Konrad Venger on September 24th, 2016, 3:02 am

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19th Day of Summer, 515AV || Sunset Quarters


"Eyes, why the fuck're you tellin' me this?"

"Jus' lookin' for some additional perspective, y'know?"

"Then I say again: why me, of all fuckin' people?"


Three Eyes huffed as the two of them wound their way deeper into the slums pressed against the south-east of Sunberth like a great fungal mold. There were streets, but only a handful. Most of the ways in this part of the city were alleys, shortcuts, some of them hammered and battered through pesky buildings and walls. Some were barely wide enough for a man to pass and took so many twists and turns that a lifelong resident could find himself turned around in chimes.

Good thing we ain't gonna be here that long.

"Well who the fuck else am I gonna talk to?"

"Anyone?"
Konrad said with a shrug, taking off his hat for a moment to mop his brow. Barely midday and already Syna was slow-cooking every poor bastard in the city. "I mean, m'hardly the authority on women, am I?"

"Yeah, but youse can smell out an angle, right?"

"Yeah, I can, and that's what I told ya ten fucking chimes ago. Don't think sod all's changed, Eyes."

"Aye, well, y'don't know her proper..."


His pudgy partner reiterated yet again about his newest infatuation and Konrad tuned him out, keeping his mind on the job and, more importantly, the route. The Slums weren't really a safe zone - that term didn't apply to anywhere in Sunberth - but there was a reason the gangs and syndicates rarely ventured there.

For one, there was precious little to bother stealing or fighting over. For another, it was one big brick-and-plaster tangle to navigate. The locals didn't like outsiders, and could mobilize pretty damn quick. But with enough shiny incentive, a decent enough plan, and small enough numbers...

In, get what we want, out, before any bastard can slow us down.

A simple plan. Konrad liked those. He just wished they stayed simple, but that was rarely the case.

"This way."

Another crooked alley that spilled out into a narrow street. No signs, no brass panels to tell them where they were. Just people nattering on stoops and in windows, filthy urchins scuttling along the dirt roads. More of the latter, actually. The Orphanage wasn't far away. Fortunately, that place wasn't part of their business today.

"Look, I know she's a whore-"

"Then that's all yeh need to know. She fucks for money, man, what does that tell ya?"

"Yeah, but she's different with me, y'know? Doesn't charge what she usually would."

"Oh, and she told y'that?"

"Yeah!"


After a thorough eye roll, Konrad turned the corner and spied a clutch of kids torturing something furry in the mud. He got their attention with a "hey!" and predictably a chunk of them scattered, roaches with the lights turned on. But a couple always stuck around, bolder or just curious, and that was their fortune.

"Lookin' fer someone," he said, making a gold miza appear in his hand and catch the light. That got their attention. "Woman, not too old. Black hair, got some Vantha in 'er. Lives 'round 'ere, near the Bay?"

There was The Pause, of cause. Two furtive little rodent eyes exchanged a familiar look. Will we get in trouble for this? Who are these buggers? What do they want with the girl? Which one of us gets to hold a coin that could feed us for a week? Konrad drew it out for a few ticks, then gave a theatrical sigh... and then there were two coins.

"Down there!" One of them piped up, aiming a scrawny arm at the rotting block of apartments at the end of the street. "She lives in there!"

"Which one, kid?"

"Um, I-"

"She's gotta green door!"
The other one burst in, greedy eyes never leaving the twin gold orbs in Konrad's hand. "There's, like, paint all peelin' off an' stuff!"

"Good enough."
Konrad flipped one coin at each boy and jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "Now bugger off that way, sharpish."

They did as they were told and the two enforcers were moving again before they'd even skidded around the corner, babbling about the pastries they'd stuff down their holes with their haul. Three Eyes took the steps to the big, squat building with surprising speed for a man of his size, holding the door open for Konrad and then following him inside.

It was dark in there. Even candles were a luxury, and not to be wasted in the empty alcoves, gouged into the wall like eye sockets. The two men started down the hallways, scanning each door as they went.

"She always listens t'me, y'know?"

"Fuck me, are you still on this?"

"An' she dun' work on some nights, jus' t'spend time wiv' me. Gotta mean somethin', right?"

"Eyes..."
Konrad said with the tone of a man who really didn't want to get involved in such nonsense but still felt the need to put things right. Just for the sake of it. "She's a whore. Before, during and after, she's a fucking whore. She fucks men for money. She fucks men before you get there, and after. That cunny is no exclusive-"

"Ain't you been lissnin'?! It's about the uvver stuff! The talkin' an' the time an'-"

"You still payin' fer that?"
The footsteps at his back stopped. He looked back and found Eyes scowling at his back. He shrugged. "There y'go, mate. Now, if she wasn't gettin' a miza when you came t'visit, I might think different."

"So... y'think I should-"

"Look, Eyes,"
they turned a corner and Konrad saw a smear of green further down the hall. His pace quickened. "Yer gettin' a good deal. You ain't payin' the full rate an' she's makin' you feel special. Nothin' wrong wi'that. Jus' don't buy into it too much, aye? 'specially when she starts askin' fer more."

"Wadaya mean 'more'?"


Green door. Peeling paint. Konrad stopped in front of it and looked left and right. A narrow, filthy hallway. Screaming kids echoing through the walls. An argument upstairs. Something crashing. Laughter further away.

"Jus' don' get yer feelings tangled up, Eyes." He rolled his shoulders and unsheathed his kukri from his back sheath. Eyes did the same with one of his daggers. "Now, cmon. Get yer work face on."

"Done an' done, you coldhearted bastard."


Konrad snorted and reared back-

-planting his foot into the door, all his weight behind the kick, and smashing it open.

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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Aladari Coolwater on September 26th, 2016, 2:46 pm

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Aladari wasn't a big dreamer anymore. She used to dream when she was younger, when she was wrapped in her parents' blankets and safe asleep in their arms. But since she had moved to Sunberth, she slept with one eye open. Her nights were restless, sweaty, and dark, even with Tar's warm fur against her back. And perhaps, this was a good thing. After all, when random strangers broke down your door, it was best to be prepared.

Aladari lept from her bed. Tar followed suit, scrambling to his feet with a confused but dedicated bark. Aladari's blanket was thrown across the room after being detangled from her arm, while her shimmering hair was tossed forward to block her face. She snorted and swept the tangles from her eyes quickly, searching for the intruders.

In the small, bare room, they weren't hard to find. They stood together, the two of them. One was big, stocky even, with a crooked grin and a strange tattoo spread across his nose. The other was nearly his opposite. He was made of bones, his scarred face covered by the shadow of a wide-brimmed hat. But he shared that crooked smile, and that devious sparkle in his eyes was impossible to mask.

Aladari's eyes tumbled from color to color as fear, curiosity, and anger all found their place. Who were they? But more importantly, who did they think they were, barging in like that?

"You pay for tha' door? Tha's 'spensive!" She growled, still half-asleep. Behind her, the grizzly dog gave a gruff snort. He could have been showing his support, or protesting the rude awakening. Either way, it would do the defending Aladari good to have him, and she was grateful for his presence. She reached out a hand to find comfort in his curls, nervously threading her fingers through his coat.

"I 'on't got nothin' worth stealin', so ya might just go on yer way." She told them honestly, hoping they would see the truth in her empty home and ratty clothes.
"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Konrad Venger on September 26th, 2016, 6:54 pm

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"You pay for tha' door? Tha's 'spensive!"

Konrad couldn't help but smile when he heard those words growled at him from the bed. For a moment he wasn't sure if it was the shaggy dog or the other shaggy mound of wild bed-hair next to it. Not many in Sunberth had the wherewithal to snark back at two men looking like them after they bust down their door, weapons in hand.

Balls like melons. Just like they said.

"Least a' yer fuckin' worries, sweet'art," Three Eyes said with a chuckle, before his smile was destroyed by the sight of white teeth set into a mass of snarling black hair. "Best keep yer leash on that fucker, too. Less youse want 'is throat opened up."

"Eyes? Less a' the chat."


Konrad took a few steps closer to the woman, pushing the brim of his hat up with his kukri. The dog kept growling and his gaze slid over it just for a moment. Not a hunting dog, or a fighting dog... but loyal, like they all were. He stopped walking just outside it's "range": the distance he guessed where it could lunge at him before he could get his kukri up to cut it down or impale it before it sunk his teeth in.

Hopefully.

"I 'on't got nothin' worth stealin', so ya might just go on yer way."

"We ain't come for yer goods, love." He reached into his duster pocket and produced a length of rope. "Some people wanna see youse. Didn't think that shite you'd been pullin' inna' Bay would go unanswered, didja? Now, leash up that dog an' lemme tie yer hands, like a good girl, an' we'll take you t'see 'em. That's one way we can do this. Other way is, we kill yer dog, knock the fuck outta ya an' drag ya down there like a sack a' potatoes. Wouldn't be the first time, either."

Konrad kept his eyes on the woman, expression almost genial, as if the threats and promises of pain were a light recounting of the weather, or options on a cafe's menu. He swung the rope lightly from side to side, like a pendulum, tick-tock, tick-tock...

"Ey? What was the first time?"

He rolled his eyes at Three Eyes' confusion. Gods, the man had no sense of... what was the term... theatricality.

"'rember that cunt wiv' the white hair?"

"Wunt she a Konti?"

"Nah, pretty sure she jus' dyed... look, t'ain't the point."
He swung the rope around his hand until it wrapped around it, other one pointing his kukri. "Make yer choice, girl. Only don' take too long, ken?"

Konrad would give her a few ticks before his kukri went from Ready to Dog-Killing. He didn't want to spend too much time in the Slums, where he knew curious and unimpressed eyes had already seen them come wandering. But he also knew that the merchant who'd hired him had specified the woman be alive for his questions. Which was something of a departure for him and Eyes, but it paid well, so...

Make up your mind, love.

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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Aladari Coolwater on October 3rd, 2016, 2:48 pm

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"Least a' yer fuckin' worries, sweet'art." Said the stocky one with a less than friendly chuckle. "Best keep yer leash on that fucker, too. Less youse want 'is throat opened up."

The skinny one snapped at him, but he did it almost lovingly. Maybe brothers, She decided, Just playing a joke on a poor new face.

But the weapon that flashed into view under his hat told a different story. No one brought a blade if they were playing a joke. He was serious. Dead serious. As his eyes flicked over the dog and his blade twitched, Aladari began to put the pieces together.

"Oh...oh hell." She muttered.

As if in response, the man procured a length of rope, launching into an intimidating speel about someone who wanted to see her. Like a storybook villain, he gave her two choices; there was the easy way and the hard way. And by the look in his eyes, she reckoned he was eager to try the hard way.

If it had been only her own life on the line, Aladari might have fought. But with her parent's pet living with her, she couldn't fathom the consequences. She bowed her head in defeat and turned deep blue eyes on Tar. She held out a hand in a 'stop' motion, then flipped her hand over to indicate 'sit'. Although the dog's ass only tapped the ground and sprung back up, at least it would show effort on her part. Cooperation was key.

"Aye, I'll go witcha, nice an' easy. But who needa see me? You sais someone in the Bay? Is a gang afta me?" She rambled nervously. "I ain't done nuffin' to cross nobody proper, less they's mad 'bouts me takin' this shack. Or I saw someffin'? I saw a murder las' week, but tha kid was jus' a beggar. Wasn't nuffin' special. An' he was sick anyways."
"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Konrad Venger on October 3rd, 2016, 4:01 pm

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Konrad was expecting begging. He wasn't disappointed that there wasn't any, though. He knew plenty of his ilk who relished the chance to shed blood and pounced eagerly on any chance to do so, but Konrad... well, he preferred the easy way. It paid the same and he sweated less.

He also wasn't expecting the questions. Most of the time there was just flat, frenzied denials and offers, pleas, begging, arguing, even threats. I know so-and-so, I can get you such-and-such... he'd cut out more than one tongue just to shut them the fuck up. But this girl? Groggy as she seemed, Konrad frowned as she spewed her words.

She really sounds like she doesn't know. And she's agreeing to come. If she knew what this was about, she'd beg, or run... wouldn't she?

Then he just grunted and shrugged internally. She could just be wanting to know names and places to concoct a better bullshit story, too. Could be lulling him and Eyes into complacency. Could be a hundred things and this being Sunberth, the lowest of the fucking low, ninety-nine of those were neither honest, nor pleasant.

"Smart girl. C'mere..."

Once the girl complied, Konrad would gesture for her to turn around and then lash her hands together at the wrists. Aladari would feel the rope loop around them... then he thumbs... then around the rope itself around the middle.

"Takin' no chances, girl," Konrad hissed into her ear, a horrid mix of smoky Temper, his breakfast of grog and fish, and tooth decay polluting the air near her face. "But this is the better way."

"Heh,"
Three Eyes snorted and sneered, peeking out the doorway to check their exit. "Aye. Fer now, anyway. 'til they get a hold a' youse at the-"

"Eyes?"


It's amazing how much menace once can inject into one syllable, if you've had enough practice. Three Eyes' leer vanished as if crushed by a hammer, middle painted nose quivering like a jellied egg as he sniffled. His gaze ran over everything except Konrad as his partner manhandled Aladari over to the door.

"Right... yeah."

"Let's go."


No buggering about, that was Konrad's motto. They'd take the hallway, the entrance and then the street outside at a brisk pace, marching so smart they were only a hair away from trotting. Aladari's bound hands would be no bother, not with her legs free... and her captors flanking her, each one holding an elbow... and their free hands clutching a weapon.

Konrad wasn't expecting anyone stupid enough to tangle with them. He'd spent most of twenty years establishing himself in this festering corpse of a city. His name, his deeds, his nature... and most of all, what he looked like. Once people saw that and knew the rest, put them together? They wouldn't bother interfering.

Interfering. Yeah. That's always stupid.

He ground his teeth just as they hit the daylight beyond the front door. He promised himself no chitchat, no bantering back and forth with a girl who was probably destined either for a dagger or Slaver's Row. But it was niggling him...

Konrad knew deception when he saw it. He'd seen a hundred kinds, and all he'd seen on that pretty face and in those opalescent Vantha eyes had been confusion, and indignation.

"Septum Mose." He spoke the name and watched her face for any whisper, any flicker of recognition. "S'the man hired us. Sez youse been plyin' yer trade at the wrong fuckin' pubs, love. Leavin' the punters cut up, things cut off. Don' do well fer trade, but the last one? Yeah, he 'scribed youse down to yer toes. Bad luck fer you, payday for us..."

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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Aladari Coolwater on October 4th, 2016, 6:08 pm

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She waited patiently for the rope to wind arouns her wrists, surprised at the efficiency and smooth motions of her captors. They did this for a living, she could tell. Unfortunately for her, that meant she wouldn't be getting out of this- not as long as Mizas were involved.

When they burst into the streets, Aladari felt a rush of red to her cheeks. She looked like some kind of slave, tied at the hands of these men! They would think her a whore, a criminal...little did she know, no one in Sunberth cared. They barely batted an eye at the sight, instead turning their backs so they wouldn't be witnesses, or stepping out of the way of the drawn weapons. They couldn't care less about her fate.

So focused on her self-pity was she that the words almost slipped past her ear when he whispered them.
"Septum Mose."

A frown stretched her lips, her eyes dulling as she thought deeply. Septum Mose. Being new to Sunberth, she had seen a lot of faces, but she couldn't remember if Septum Mose was one of them. If beggars were a rash in the city, nameless thieves and thugs were an epidemic, and it was impossible for her to know the name of every street rat she encountered on a daily basis.

What she did know was, she didn't work in pubs.

She thought about opening her mouth to say this. She wanted to set the record straight before she was killed, at least. But the men's sharp eyes were warning her, so she kept silent.

Could it have been her gambling? Could she have run up a debt? Had she promised someone a payment drunk? Oh, shyke, had she gotten into gang activities?

Her palms sweated nervously and she licked the salt from her lips. "I ain't from tha gangs, y'know." She muttered. "I ain't hurt nobody none. Nobody."
"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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Aladari Coolwater
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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Konrad Venger on October 5th, 2016, 10:04 am

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"Fuck me, never 'eard that one before, 'ave we, Kon?"

"Aye."


Three Eyes shot a glance at his partner as they maintained their quick pace around a corner. Konrad was a little... off. Eyes could see the wheels whirring behind his green eyes, his jaw clenching and twitching occasionally on his scarred side. Most of all, he had that faraway look in his shaded eyes, like hos body was there, and his senses, too, but his mind?

"Wossa matter?"

"Hmm?"


Three Eyes shrugged and talked over the woman between them like she wasn't even there. Just a package, anyway. To be delivered and then paid for.

"Gone all quiet, like. Y'know... broody."

Konrad scowled at him using a word that basically pegged him as a sodding mother hen, but he had to admit the little bastard was right. This job stank. Konrad had seen one of the half-score men and women that this girl was meant to have sliced up. He looked like Konrad had been working on him after a shitty day. There was sheer, indulgent, adoring malevolence in every stroke of the blade that had been used. A being in love with pain to the point of worshiping it. The girl he was clutching right now, though...

She'd either the greatest mummer in the history of the fucking world, or we've got the wrong one.

Aladari would have heard a low, muffled growl rattling around in the back of Konrad's throat. If she'd bothered to look around, she'd have seen his already twisted face crumple into a quick, irritated snarl.

Sometimes it annoyed the shit out of him to have professional standards.

"All right-"

"What-Kon-?!"


Three Eyes was nearly spun off his feet as Konrad yanked the girl into the nearest alley. In the shade and the stink she wouldn't see much of his face, hidden by the brim of his hat, but there would be the flash of that kukri again, slicing towards her like grounded lightning-

-and cutting her bonds instead. As she was still processing this, she would hear him speak as Three Eyes watched on incredulously.

"Tell y'what's gonna happen. Yer gonna have a chance t'prove y'ain't the one were after. Gonna take youse a couple of places. They recognize ya, match yer face to the stories, we're takin' youse back to Mose and he can cut or fuck you until you're meat. They don't... we'll work something else out."

"Kon, are you fucking-"


The kukri flashed in Three Eyes direction, pointed like a metal warning finger.

"Not gonna have my name tied to some merchant cunt who couldn't even send us after the right fuckin' girl! Especially when we're the ones bringing her in. Reputations, Eyes. Years to make, ticks to fuckin' destroy."

The kukri came back. It rested on the chest, just above the hollow of Aladari's breasts, but looking up she would see no glimmer of sexual interest in those seaweed eyes.

"You can guess how this goes, but I'll tell ya anyway. You try to run, you stray more than ten paces from us, you try to get anyone else involved... then you're guilty. We'll chase you down, cut the ropey muscles in yer legs and drag you back to Mose. An' we'll kill anyone who tried to help you, an' then, jus' because youse put us to such a sodding inconvenience, we'll go back to that apartment and I'll let Three Eyes here cut that mutt up and sell him to the Benshira meat floggers down the way. Won't even matter if you manage to slip away." He shrugged lightly, nodding quickly the way they came. "Found y'once. Won't be hard t'find youse again."

The obvious was stated and once it was understood, the kukri would vanish and Konrad would step back a little.

"Now...y'know the Dancing Starfish?"

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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Aladari Coolwater on October 24th, 2016, 12:15 am

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The suddenness of the change caused her to gasp out loud. She felt herself spun around, her back hitting the wall hard. She closed her eyes, full of dread.

Morwen, this is it.

She took a deep breath, and waited. The kukri rested on her chest, poking into the tightness gathered there. But it did not move. It sat, warning but not injuring. Soon enough, she grew curious and opened her eyes. She saw him close to her, his eyes still hard, and his mouth moving in the dark. Slowly, it registered that he was speaking.

"You can guess how this goes, but I'll tell ya anyway."

As he spoke, she realized that he was telling the truth. Her bonds were cut (a fact tested by the stretching of her sore wrists), and his rules were easy enough to understand. There were no tricks. He was giving her a chance.

She blinked, half in disbelief, half trying to hide the tears welling in the corners of her eyes. She simply couldn't understand why he would have such a change of heart. But she did know one thing; she sure as Hai wasn't going to give up the opprotunity.

"Now, y'know the Dancing Starfish?"

Aladari tapped the Gnosis on her shoulder with one hand while she thought. "Dancing...Star fish?" She almost laughed at the absurdity. "Oh, I'unno. Been so many spots, talked so many peoples, I gots no idea wha I seen."

She shook her head. It sounded like a lame lie, but it was true. Especially in her stress, she had forgotten nearly everything she had known but her name. She sputtered momentarily, trying to find an excuse, but came up dry.

"Mayb' I'll 'member when we gets there." She offered.

She took a step forward, then stopped dead in her tracks. She twirled around, heart racing at her misstep, and smiled sheepishly at her captors.

"Uh, lead tha way."
"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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Laugh? I Nearly Died! (Aladari)

Postby Konrad Venger on November 21st, 2016, 7:53 pm

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Konrad watched. He'd noticed that people often didn't do that simple thing, just shut up and listen. He'd learned that because he'd done it, of course, and as the girl babbled through the relief pouring off her like body odor, he watched very carefully.

Fuck... hard to tell... but it'll solve itself when we get there.

Three Eyes craned his head around and shot mean looks at anyone paying too much attention. They weren't quite out of the neighborhood yet, and while they were unlikely to attract a mob this far to the edge, all it took was a few blokes with surprise and steel on their side. And all the while Kon's buggering about with this bollocks, he thought sourly, stroking the handles of his daggers.

"Uh, lead tha way."

"Aye," Konrad said, naught moving on his face save a twitch of his lips. "Mebbe."

The trio started walking at a fair, fast clip, leaving the Quarter behind to roast under Syna. Truth be told, the tall, sparse mercenary wasn't much worried with what she could recollect. It wouldn't be up to her, anyway. He'd spoken to the girls that found the punter she'd (allegedly) hacked up that night; one barely got through the recounting before messing her mouth all over the floor. And she'd seen the girl who'd done it, too. If he marched in there with her, he'd see it writ large all over their faces.

That's the plan, anyway.

The sellsword growled to himself softly, like a distant dog defending his territory, and stilled the doubting voice. He kept his eyes focused on the cobbles ahead and his hand gripping the hilt of his sword, tapping out a fast tattoo as they gobbled up yards and streets and alleys to the tavern.

Mayhap that was why the watchers were unnoticed by them.

Two of them. Hooded and robed such that they seemed like one being, split by some unholy fission, walking nearly in lockstep as if from another world... and yet with a ken enough understanding of how to tail someone that spoke of a Sunberth upbringing. They followed the trio as they left the block, then the district. As smoke and waste on the air gave way to fish and salt and the tang of whale oil.

They watched every step, and then watched as Konrad led the girl and his comrade through the swinging doors of the Dancing Starfish, proved as such by the hideously gaudy and anatomically inaccurate woodcut above the doors.

"He set her free."

"Yes."

"He has not returned her to the merchant. That was what he was hired to do. He has her, and he has not done it."

"I have eyes. I can see this."

"He is... unsure?"

"It seems so."


The Male's words were terse in the last exchange. A faint grinding came from the black opening where his face presumably lied. The Female waited, chafed, but demanded patience. This was a simple enough trick to envision, what they were attempting, but the execution... it had to be handled right. And it had to end with an actual execution, of course.

"Assemble a clutch," the Male said eventually, reluctantly. "Not enough to clog the street and draw attention, but enough to end these three quickly. Go. You have mere chimes."

"But-"


The hood shifted her way. Something sparked in the darknes like gems in a cave. Like a lost soul in the pits. The Female swallowed, nodded and left. The Male watched her go and turned his eyes back onto the Starfish, and the still-swinging doors that the trio had walked through.

All you had to do was bring the girl back and let her get killed, he thought sourly, voice in his own mind a far harsher thing than the neutral tones he spoke with. But no, Konrad. You had to be a professional about it...

||Common||Thoughts||Pavi||Fratava||Myrian||Other's Speaking||
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Note: As of Fall 517AV, Konrad is known only as "Hansel" in Endrykas
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Konrad Venger
Long is The Way and Hard
 
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Joined roleplay: November 23rd, 2015, 4:05 pm
Location: Endrykas
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