Closed The Things We Burn (Kelski)

A legend is burned for hope while old hatreds ignite

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

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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Berkley Whispers on March 3rd, 2018, 2:07 am

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Spring 1, 518AV
9th Bell



Berkley scratched his chin. He had been leaning against the shanty for over a bell while he watched the crews erect and hoist the effigy of Olsten next to the Slag Heap. With a boot planted in the dust and another pressed against the panel of the rickety structure that supported him, the man rested comfortably in the shade while others poured sweat and tore skin to create a monument to a great hero. It might bother some to watch others work but not Berk. He worked hard at his duties but didn’t see the point in busting his back for the sheer benefit of others. Sunberth wasn’t that kind of city and being a native, it was fitting that Mr. Whispers wasn’t that kind of man.

The man with a little salt in the color of his hair shrugged and pushed off of the little shelter and walked around to the far side. There was not a single inch of the metal and wood that was left in its original condition. Scars from carvings, fights, emerging artists and desperate lovers covered the materials in a cobbled history of what life on the continent’s southern tip was like for any who stopped long enough to read it. Berkley had chosen this building with a specific purpose as it was the smallest, the sturdiest and in the least popular place given the layout of the other buildings scattered near the immortal flame. He cast his eyes about the area to check for any spectators to his actions. Everyone was either focused upon the preparations for the upcoming festival or busy getting high.

The clerk slipped back into the shadow of structure and pulled a dagger from his belt. He tucked it up against the shelf created by two merged beams that were mismatched in size. With a grunt, he took hold of the cheap piece of sheet metal, already curled down from the constant exposure and age, then pushed it over top of the blade concealing it from sight. Berkley’s arm hurt from the force it took to flatten the metal despite its rough shape. He made a mental note to do more exercise so that he’d be better prepared for what came next. He staggered away from the corner and back into view of the road and the volunteers but only to make it seem like he’d just taken a hit of something strong. He wobbled on his feet and waited for a few chimes before taking a gaze back to the place where he’d hidden his weapon.There was no trace of what he’d done and so Berkley wandered over to a piece of dusty ground to rest upon for a while. He pretended to sleep, curled up in a ball and facing the corner he’d modified, to see if anyone would come snooping about after him.


14th Bell

Berkley was bored but he continued to lie in place. Every so often over the course of the morning and early afternoon, he’d sat up and looked about to gauge the activity levels but no one ever ventured near the shed in a manner that raised suspicion. Several drunks used it as a place to retreat from the sun to enjoy a small flask of poison and a working girl pressed her face and hands to the cool wood while a John quickly sorted out their arrangement but the freshly bent corner was in bad enough shape that it never drew any notice. Satisfied with his errand, the middle-aged man rose to his feet and dusted himself off then walked casually back towards the city. He had some things to do before making his way back tonight before the festival and Donovan would certainly have some work that needed to be done.

20th Bell

Berkley had managed to get enough done as well as catch a brief nap since he departed the Slag Heap earlier this afternoon. Donovan was pleased with the efforts plus he had a new ‘employee’ that he wished to train so the man would be indisposed for the rest of the night- and probably all of tomorrow as well. A small smile curled at one side of Berk’s tanned face as he thought about the young girl he’d seen under his boss’s bootheel. She was fresh off of a boat from gods know where and in for a very rude awakening.

In truth, it didn’t bother Berkley to think of such things but the mind of a man with his own ambitious appetites was soon distracted by the sights and sounds of a city gathered for one purpose - revelry. Outsiders think Sunberth is just a bunch of criminals, thugs and half-starved inbreds without any hope for a better life...and that’s relatively true. What the rest of the world doesn’t know is that the city protects itself and each other when it counts and tonight was a time to celebrate an historic example of such a feat. Burning the Giant was how Olsten’s charge to victory of the wicked mages was displayed and everyone regardless of their affiliation or affliction tried to turn out for the party. Drinking, petching, gambling, dancing and a good bit of posturing would take place but in recent years there had been no real issues.

Berk couldn’t be sure but he suspected the main players of the city called the Slag Heap off limits on a night like this. Either that or their levels of deceit were so low that nobody noticed. The somewhat aged man was still fit and he caught the attention of a young pair of brown eyes that made him slow his pace as he drew nearer to the shack where he had visited earlier today. Her face was rather clean and she seemed to have all of her teeth which was a huge plus. The man gave her a wink and moved closer with gentle nudges and guiding hands to help him navigate the crowd.

The sleeves on his blue shirt were rolled up to his elbows revealing his tanned skin. His tan breeches were clean and his boots had been dusted well. The only things he carrier were his father’s dagger and a small skin of wine *3 SM for a pitcher of slightly better than common wine that he had bought from a vendor closer to town. He knew the stuff down here was liable to be watered down and more expensive because the crowd was going to be so large. With a charming smile and a brush of his fingers through his freshly washed hair, Berk closed the gap and introduced himself to the younger blonde. His voice was deeper than most and a little husky or perhaps it was the rasp that made it seem lower. “Evening, darlin’. Can I help you with something?”

In the direction of the Slag Heap, the fires roared as they climbed the statue built to resemble the man immortalized by his courage to all of Sunberth’s rats. The heat stretched out like a blanket of comfort and encouragement to the lost while giving the hopeless a reason to cheer. It was still early so the vendors of food and drink were being stingy with their goods but the town’s drunks and addicts were sharing with those clever enough to sway them. Somewhere, a ragtag band of musicians fueled the spirits of the spectators with a lively tune that was almost loud enough to rise above the din of hundreds of voices.
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on March 6th, 2018, 3:53 am

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Women had come to Jaren’s chambers earlier that day. Usually Kelski had been shooed away, chased back to her workshop to get something done so Jaren could have private time with them without being observed. However, this day was different. Everyone had talked about the first of spring, how the watchtower stones had turned colors, and how someone named Olsten the Giant had laid down his life in 468 A.V. to kill mages. Kelski was starting to understand mages in Sunberth were not a good thing, which was quite the opposite of mages in Lhavit which were revered.

The women weren’t there to primarily pleasure Jaren, though he sampled one or two as they prepared him for the day. That surprised Kelski. They were there instead to primp and pamper him. A bath was drawn and he was washed and combed and styled. And when he was done with the water, she was told to do the same and some of the women helped her as well. It was strange being bathed and her washed out hair ironed and coiled and carefully curled. As they dried it the women pinned it up so it crowned her head and cascaded down her back in elegant curls. Gems were inserted into her piercings, some that were often too valuable for her to wear daily. She stood quietly for that as well, confused and carefully observant of all that was going on.

Jaren’s face was powdered and his eyes were lined. They did the same with Kelski’s though the khol was thickened and lids and cheeks tinted with subtle color that set her grey eyes off. Jaren dressed in finery and talked of the feast that would come where he would share a high table with his father. And slowly, certainly, Kelski realized that she was to come with him.

He dressed her in finery too, a dark velvet dress that set off her pale skin tone. He disliked her black lips. So he ordered them painted to match the deep burgundy liner of the cloak he gave her to wear to cover the dress during the walk to the feast and festivities after. When they were done and the time was right, Jaren snapped a leash on the jeweler and together they walked with their small contingency to the Lodge.

Darvin was there and so too were many of the guards and recruits Kelski recognized. And while Jaren was seated, Kelski was made to kneel at his feet, head down, like a pretty dog, slightly under the table where he fed her bites to eat when he remembered to. The Kelvic was glad for the kidskin boots and had been able to slip her daggers into them before she’d been lead away. The way she sat was supremely uncomfortable, with her rump tucked on her heels and her hands on her knees, head bowed.

It would have been dehumanizing to a human, but to a Kelvic it just grew her resentment. Slavery chaffed at her. Being huddled under a table was no place for a sea eagle. She was born for the sky, not for resting at a man’s feet like a dog. Many of Jaren’s peers stopped to talk to him and several remarked on the jeweler’s coloring. Several even touched her. Jaren permitted it all, namely because he liked to have things others coveted and he liked others to be envious.

Drink flowed freely and there was much toasting that Kelski didn’t understand. The entertainment was crude – women dancing, men juggling, the children of the Sun Birth’s denizens dancing with ribbon sticks and pretending to be either mages or heroes. The ribbons were weapons of some sort, magic maybe? Kelski had a hard time following it from her place at Jaren’s feet.

She grew hungry too. He gave her bits of sweets and breads, things normal ladies would love. But she truly craved the roasts that sizzled on the table and the pigs that were being carved whole from where they had been roasted. It was a quiet torture, made worse by the fact that other people had slaves as well, and some of those slaves were occupied with tasks under the feast tables – in clear view of everyone – that made the Kelvic supremely uncomfortable. No one seemed to care though. Drink flowed to fast and heavily.

Even Jaren partook of something Darvin gave him that he mixed with his wine. It was clear before the feast was even over that he wouldn’t last the night. Kelski knew the drug, it was one she’d been given too, and it left no hangover or after effect if made right. But while Jaren was on it, he wasn’t safe to be out and about. And as the crowd wrapped up, Jaren took his leave and forgot about his Kelvic still kneeling under the table.

Kelski didn’t know what to do. She slowly climbed to her feet, slipped a linen napkin from the table that Jaren had used to wipe his hands on along side his water bowl, and carefully snagged the rest of the sliced roast – rare – off the platter nearest him. All the officials had departed and the only ones left were several drunk guards gambling and Darvin. The man seemed stoic, almost glum, as he made his way over to Kelski and picked up her forgotten leash. He fingered its delicate length and glanced at her. “Everyone’s retired to celebrate more intimately or have gone to the burning. Tell me, little bird, have you ever been to the burning? Everyone should see it at least once in their lives.” He said, tugging on her leash and bringing her closer.

“You are too pretty not to parade around with at least for a bit. Come… lets go watch Olsten burn.” He said with a grin, unsnapping her leash and stuffing it in his pocket. Darvin collected his pack – something he was never without – and a couple of bottles of wine, and set off with Kelski in tow. The Slag Heap was some distance, but the streets in the darkened city were well lit as they joined the crowds slowly making their way towards the effigy.

Kelski paced beside Darvin, her cloak concealing most of the finery she wore, glad she was with Darvin and not alone with all the thieves out and about in the night. There would be good pickings for Sunberth’s underbelly tonight. Darvin set a leisurely pace which made Kelski think they had plenty of time before the man was set on fire. She wasn’t sure who ‘Olsten was or why they were going to burn him tonight, but she wondered if human smelled as good roasted as pig did and if there would be any chance to sample the results. Her pocket still contained the linen napkin with the roast in it. The heat from it was making her hungry. Kelski was always hungry because they fed her nothing that was appropriate for her race and animal form. Meat she did get, other than these sorts of slight thefts, was tough as leather and usually old. Soup was thin and meatless. Bread was just a crust., hard but still edible.

Darvin was training her but she was still getting thinner. He’d yet to start providing her with the food that would build the muscle in her that he’d promised he could. And the constant state of him slipping her things hadn’t helped much either. So Kelski resorted to other things, things she couldn’t do tonight. Since her arrival, the rats in the Barracks had considerably thinned. No one noticed the pile of bones beneath her one workshop window where she pitched them out when she was done stripping them of meat and breaking them open for marrow. The very thought of ratting made her hungry again and she casually slipped the linen from her pocket and began to eat the roast concealed within it. The meat was rare and fatty, something she found delicious as she ravenously tore into it, still keeping pace with Darvin.

He was talking about mages and knights and something about Olsten the Giant’s sacrifice, things that meant nothing to Kelski. But she nodded, smiled, and tried to thoroughly chew all the meat she’d pilfered least she loose it in an upset stomach from eating too fast.

Soon enough they arrived and Darvin found them a place to stand and watch where he was on a bit of a rise. Kelski was used to this kind of tactic. If he was seen, clearly visible, he could do business. And soon enough coin started flowing as Darvin’s pack slowly emptied of his product to be replaced by the coin it fetched. Periodically he’d stroke her head or touch her shoulder protectively, as if he wanted the crowd to see him with a slave… an expensive one. And true to her nature, Kelski simply stood there silently, watching everything, examining everyone coming and going while trying to figure out what it all meant.
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Kelski
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Berkley Whispers on March 8th, 2018, 3:58 am

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Berkley was on point. He had this woman eating out of his hand and he hadn’t even opened it yet. The little minx’s name was Allana and she was a seamstress. Her clothes confirmed such a story for they fit her perfectly hugging curves that were slightly more rotund than your average starving Berther. That was ok with Mr. Whispers. He didn’t judge upon a singular type or feature- that would be juvenile and petty. The cool blue eyes were well versed in soaking up all of a woman’s form and figure before coming to any conclusions. Allana had pretty hair, large breasts and wide hips while showing very little signs of excess weight in her arms or midsection. Her voice was tolerable though a bit high pitched for the older man’s tastes. Still, she had a decent smile and all of her teeth as well as the ability to hold a conversation so he remained fully engaged.

“So, Mr. Whispers…” She giggled at his name and he smiled back. “What is that you do?” Her fingers gently walked up his chest to the collar of his faded blue shirt.

Berk put on his best grin and decided to tell the truth for once. “I work for a man who has deep pockets and filthy appetites.” The man’s tanned and weathered hands plucked at the wonderfully made dress that hugged the curves and flowed along the spaces in between. The heat near Allana’s waist was easily recognized and she jerked away playfully.

“What does that even mean, sir…” She emphasized the title as a jab against Berkley.

Berk took the bait… “It means I know what why you stitched this dress like you did…” His hand slipped laterally against her leg to a pocket she had made. She jerked a bit but didn’t stop his advance. He found his way inside the fold and followed the soft cloth down against her swollen body where she had spent a fair amount of time touching herself. She swooned. While she leaned against him and whispered all of the wonderfully dirty things she wanted him to do to her, his free hand dug around in her purse for a coin bag. If she started to stray from the conversation, his hand in her pocket only needed to let his fingers dance against her softness and she was distracted again.

It was in this foray of fun and theft that it happened. A face passed through the crowd and it shook Berkley to his core. Flashes of a dusty little shack, a beautiful woman and then violence filled his eyes. Violence and disrespect ending in the loss of a good soul brought Berkley right back to the present where the man heading for a rise in the crowd bore the face of one of the three men who had killed his friend and caregiver. The game was over. It was time for a new one. Without much emotion, Berk separated himself from Allana who felt lost and cold all at once; the evidence was the confused look on her face.

“Where are you going?” She pleaded. Berkley just slipped into the mingling throng of people still clutching her coin purse. Right now, there was a more pressing issue. The jack-of-many-trades filtered along in no direct path as he trailed the massive specimen. The familiar face had certainly aged but was easily recognizable from his gang tattoo and massive stature. The now silver hair and beard helped him to stand out and he held the attention of some tiny little tart so Mr. Whispers easily meandered back and forth, even engaging in fake conversations or interrupting a real one from time to time when he was nervous that he might be detected. He knew the hate in his eyes would give him away so he started to think of how he could get close without setting off the other man’s memory.

Time seemed to pass well for the murderer. He kept a steady flow of people coming and going. Berkley wasn’t sure what that meant but it made him aware of his own position so he would move every so often so that he wouldn’t be anything more than a face in the crowd. The anger never cooled- never waned but the will to act was fading. The man who helped run a whore house had no clue how to go about approaching revenge. Now, Berkley was raised on tales of the noble gods but he didn’t believe in them. However, when a wine vendor bumped into him half drunk off his own stock, there was a moment where he considered the providence of it all. Using the woman’s coin purse, Berk convinced the man to hand over the half-full skin of something that was both bitter and potent. The two parted ways and Berk started to formulate a plan.

He continued to keep an eye on the bearded man but his eyes began to stray to the woman more often. She was striking with her pale skin and painted eyes. Her hair was dark and the clothes she wore beneath the cloak played hide and seek depending on one’s perspective. They were of fine make and Mr. Whispers was starting to consider the possibility that his target was someone of importance which further complicated things. Still- he proceeded to acquire a few more items.

First was a man who was pushing his powders. “Three gold will get your little mister hard and hot as the Slag Heap!” He coughed at Berkley.

Berk shook his head. “It’s not me I’m worried about…” He started to walk by when the man grabbed the hand meant to separate the two.

“Two gold Mizas and she’ll not know what hit her until she wakes up tomorrow with a sore cooch.” A disgusting thought chilled Berk but then a much more suitable use came to light and he smiled at the filthy urchin.

“Three gold and and you give me your cloak, too.” The older man fished out a few coins from his own account but kept his free hand on his dagger.

“Deal, mate.”

The exchange was made and Berkley moved off from the main crossing points to further develop his nefarious plans. He tossed the smelly cloak over his shoulder and studied the pills. They were just powder sealed into tiny bead of wax. The man lifted the wine sack and opened the nozzle. He held one pill over the top and squeezed it into the drink. He did the same for the second but some of the powder jumped up and blew away. Not one to cry over a little spilled drugs, Berk capped the skin a dn then shook it up. The cloak really smelled so he gripped it in his hand and held it down away from his body as he moved around still.

The man was still doing his thing. New faces continued to come and go save the one constant of the little, pale thing next to him. Berkley stopped and debated just making his move now. He even started to don the horrible stench that was a stranger’s cloak when a half naked girl bumped into him in mid dance. The blue eyes studied her and he grinned. She was covered in brightly colored paints.

“Hey beautiful! You’re a moving work of art!” He called to her. Without stopping her jumping, stomping and rhythmic arm waving, she smiled back and whooped into the night. Seeing that Berkley was a reasonably handsome man holding a wine sack, she wiggled a little bit closer.

“If I let you add to my colors, can I have a sip of your wine, blue eyes?” She bartered with a flirtatious smile that lacked a few teeth. Berkley smiled back and nodded. He handed her his waterskin in exchange for the yellow stick of wet chalk. When she turned around, Berkley moved quickly to run around a couple standing next to them. The girl spun halfway around and waited, sipped the water then blinked and turned back around. The man with blue eyes was gone. She turned back the other way and Berk was standing there. He took his waterskin back with a firm grip and then hip checked the woman as hard as he could. Before she could recover, he shuffled off quickly through the main part of the mingling crowd. The girl yelled after him but by the time she got up, he was gone.

Berkley walked all the way across the lower area while keeping a sporadic eyeon the silver bearded fellow and his small, oddly calm pet. The blue-eyed man shuffled along in the crowd along the fringes of the rise. There were a lot of really messed up people around this evil man; the murderer from years past. He must be overseeing some kind of drug trafficking but what he was in the chain was not known to the observer. He donned the stinking cloak and held the dosed wine skin in one hand while he held the paint stick in the other. He stumbled and staggered his way towards the rise. Once he fell and often he;d bump into people then apologize to the air as they’d moved on without a second look to the hunched and reeking man.

Mr. Whispers took a slight limp after his last encounter and hobbled his way up the rise with a path that gave no real indication to his direction. Within arm’s reach of Darvin, he started to turn towards the raven-haired girl then he fell back and smashed into the big man. Berkley had pushed off from his right foot but the putrid cloth and incoherent babbling that he spewed didn’t lend much in the way of cognizant thought. When the bearded fellow scampered to his feet, so did Berkley who remained hunched and kept his head tucked though he watched through the veil of his hood. Before Darvin could speak, Berk held out his wine sack, half full and gave it a shake.

“I’s sso-ssorr. I mussed ya, sissir.” Berk swayed as if drunk still offering the wine with a shaking and moving hand. “I jusss be goin’nn’nnoow.” He shifted his weight forward until the drink nearly touched Darvin then feigned a shiver and dropped the wine. He staggered to the right directly in front of Kelski. He slowed across her visage long enough to give her a very clear look of his sober face and intense blue eyes. This time also allowed him to jab the paint stick against her hand before he stumbled and staggered away. To finish the sale, Berkley fell down the small hill and rolled a bit before crawling a ways and then standing once more. He walked towards a small shack and dragged the paint along its wooden surface until he disappeared around the corner.

Now in the shadows, the rogue took the cloak and balled it up. He dropped it on the ground and kicked it under the shanty’s exposed support system and leaned against the cold, scratchy lumber. He turned his face to watch the pair on the hill. He wasn’t sure any of this would work but he hoped that one or the other of his schemes would find a solid footing.

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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on March 9th, 2018, 2:53 am

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When they had arrived at the scene of where Darvin was going to set up shop for the event, Kelski was confused. There was no Olsten secured near the slag heap ready to be burned alive as Darvin had promised. Instead there was a giant wooden construct of some sort roughly made in the shape of a man. Her questions she’d been mulling over on the walk over from where the feast was held would decidedly not be answered. She’d not learn how human flesh smelled burnt or how long a human could survive in a fire. This thing was not human and she turned to Darvin in confusion.

Between customers, the old Dragoon laughed lightly, when she queried him on the absence of the man they were going to burn. “No one was going to burn anyone, Kelski. We burn an effigy. It’s a symbol or representation of someone who was once alive here and important to the history of the city. I should really take you by Mosa’s sometime when the woman is talkative and let her school you on Sunberth’s origins. She’s probably been here since Denval burned and knows all about it.” He said, laughing as the Kelvics cheeks colored in embarrassment. She hadn’t known what an effigy was but staring at the huge wooden vaguely human looking thing, she understood now. “It still makes very little sense to me, Darvin. Why burn it?” She asked, tilting her head sideways and staring at the growing crowd milling around what she considered way to close to the thing that was soon going to be put to flame.

“Little bird… its all in the way you look at things. In Sunberth, we do things differently. Today is the celebration of the Valterrian throughout Mizahar. Sunberth doesn’t care what the Gods did or when, they only care about all you can see about us… this broken-down city… and they realize that the Gods don’t care much for it either or things would be different. So, it’s a mutual disgust. In times past in other regions of Mizahar, people would destroy things in protest… statues of leaders, homes of militants, ships that brought sickness…. But here in Sunberth there are no leaders, no symbols of power, and no one wants to protest anything. We just want to celebrate getting through one more day in this rat-infested hole … this city that’s mostly just Mizahar’s anus, and we do it by commemorating when Olsten took down the mages that once oppressively ruled us and set Sunberth up to be leadership free. Because we can’t do anything like normal people would, we don’t burn an effigy of him in protest… hoping that in some dark and magical way he too will burn wherever he is… we burn it to show how powerful and glorious he was on that day he saved Sunberth and freed us from magic.” Darvin finished, laughing lightly and chuckling to himself as he reached out and patted Kelski on the head. His manner was condescending, though Kelski was used to it. Darvin felt somehow empowered teaching her or telling her something she didn’t know.

“So, I brought you to do some business, to see the wood burn, and then I’ll take you back by The Barracks and go hit a bar or two to spend the rest of the night guzzling down Sunberths’ finest brews which should be flowing quite freely by the time the effigy is burned down and the crowd dispersed.” He said, grinning in that way that Darvin did when he’d had a few already and was feeling no pain. Kelski had seen him at the feast and he’d been drinking more than he’d been eating. It was how he lived and what she was used too.

And truthfully, the Kelvic didn’t mind. In a strange way, she enjoyed going about the city with the Dragoon. She knew he took her for selfish reasons. He was often asked the cost for a half bell or a quarter bell with her or invited into place where he normally would not have been because they thought he was bringing his own contributions to the party. He never sold her time though, thanks to Jaren’s orders. If the Warmaster’s son had given any sort of consent, Kelski was under no allusions that Darvin wouldn’t be making coin off her as well. He would be. Absolutely. As it was, her presence drew customers that often were presented with a sales pitch that went something like…”She’s not available, but with some of this…” A small packet was always flashed or a vial displayed quickly… “You won’t even miss her.” Darvin’s marketing got her free of The Barracks however, and out under the sky, even if it was in places she didn’t want to be.

Besides, since coming to Sunberth Kelski had learned she had little to no choice on things going on in her life. And even if she was given the illusion of choice, it wasn’t a real choice. It was often just a decision carefully made and presented in a way that was advantageous to everyone else and only a little beneficial to her.

Setting all that aside, life wasn’t that bad. She’d seen enough in this place to understand that death was a frequent visitor in the city and if it came for you there was often very little defense. Kelski shifted, suddenly uncomfortable, and felt the reassuring weight of the daggers tucked down into her boots. She’d had no fancy slippers to wear to the Feast, though that had not mattered since her now muddied hem concealed what she wore on her feet anyhow.

The Kelvic scanned the crowd with sharp eyes and adjusted her vision, distracted a moment in seeing just how the effigy was constructed. Blinking and looking closer, she noted a rather large figure in a hood seemingly drunk slam into Darvin and drop a wineskin. He’d been babbling with words she didn’t understand as he’d made his way up the rise. Kelski was a bit shocked Darvin went down. She hadn’t been watching him though to see if he was distracted or busy doing business. Some of Darvin’s coins and a few loose packets of drugs from his pack scattered across and down the rise attracting the attention of the crowd. The unexpected bounty had been freed from Darvin’s grasp by his sudden tumble as a result of the short bull rush.

It all looked orchestrated to the Kelvic’s sharp gaze.

The Kelvic froze as the drunk spoke and dropped his wine. He swung her direction and then did something incredibly odd. She thought at first she was going to get knifed, stabbed by someone whom she didn’t know. The weapon he had in his hand was something she didn’t recognize but left a smear of pigment across her palm. The man then rolled away and before Kelski could see where he went, the crowd was on them. She’d seen his eyes though and his seemingly sober face. It caused her brow to furrow because she didn’t quite understand what it meant.

Scattered coins and drugs was enough to do it. The Kelvic should have paid less attention to the drunk and more attention to how the people acted with the seemingly free drugs and free coins laying around. People in the nearby area surged up the rise, all silently, grabbing coins and drugs and vanishing into the thicker crowd below.

Someone grabbed the wineskin and there was an immediate fight over who was going to end up possessing that.

Darvin turned a loose circle, swearing, not sure where to start picking up his loot first. He glanced at Kelski and snapped ‘Don’t just stand there, help me… pick up the coins and packets!” But it was too late. The hint of free was in the air and people were all over. One man hit another man, taking a packet from his hand as chaos broke out. Kelski immediately got separated from Darvin, pushing back in the crowd and trying to keep at least one eye on her guard and one eye on the crowd as she got shoved first one way then the other, everyone excited and not a one of them actually sure what happened or why there was coin all over the ground.

Darvin, still swearing, dove into the fray, fighting with his fists and seemingly having a good time. Drunk. He was drunk enough he wasn’t going to realize his loss until the next day. Kelski backed away. She didn’t want blood on her dress because it was a loan from Jaren, and she didn’t want to get anywhere close to the battle.

Someone hit her anyhow, and she got shoved sideways. Balling up a fist, she tried to strike back, putting effort into the punch. A stranger kicked her shin hard and she barked out a sound of pain as she whirled around and saw that most of the crowd was liquored up and fighting.

Edging back farther, Kelski fought to get clear of the crowd. She had to kick someone twice, and once shove a woman out of her way that looked to be twice her age. Darvin could hold his own or die. He seemed to have an advantageous spot on the rise anyhow, since there was now a pile of people laying prone around the area. Kelski could also see a bit of blood on her guard and noted that his daggers were drawn.

The crowd surged again, this time left though the Kelvic couldn’t see what drove it. And while she could say it was starting to thin, that wasn’t exactly the truth. The common folks of Sunberth seemed to have edged out of the swell of people where the fighting was and replacing them were harder faces. Kelski saw Daggerhand tattoos and recognized a few Sun Birth youths going hand to hand. The girl kept moving, finally working free of the crowd and finding herself pressed against the wall of a building half in the shadows. She’d need to wait, hopeful that Darvin would fight his way out. Kelski knew the odds of her making it back to The Barracks alone this time of night were slim to none.

A spark lit across the way and the effigy suddenly burst into flames. The crowd cheered, momentarily distracted from its centralized brawl, and everyone’s focus shifted to Olsten. It was a brilliant move by the powers that be because suddenly the mini riot that was surrounding Darvin turned into toasting and cheering as if it were an opener for everyone to take a drink.

Kelski was worried though. She was alone. Darvin had vanished into the swell of cheering and upraised hands with mugs and flashed and even some still clutching weapons… and she had no idea if he could find her or she could find him in the celebrations’ chaos.
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Berkley Whispers on March 19th, 2018, 9:24 pm

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Berkley was a bit upset with himself. His well-thought out and carefully orchestrated plan didn’t work as he had predicted. The man bit his bottom lip in frustration as he watched the slight rise become a scrum of all sorts hustling, swinging and diving for something -anything- that would give them more than what they had before the drug dealer dropped his stash and coins. While an undesired side affect, the instigator of the entire ordeal realized it would have been a perfect platform to try and exact his revenge upon the bearded goon. Berkley blew out his lip now that he was thoroughly agitated with himself.

“What a waste.” He mumbled out loud. The wine he procured and the drugs he mixed could have been used elsewhere...or consumed for some lavish memory-free indulgences. Now, all he had to show for his efforts was a horribly foul-smelling cloak and a fat piece of yellow paint stick. The man looked at the item in his hand and his blue eyes narrowed with the strain of trying to find some kind of use for it. It literally hurt his head to think of how epically this mission had failed. The square shoulders slumped back against the building where he had taken refuge, his booted feet sliding out away from the wall to compensate his balance. With a slow rhythm, the man allowed his head to fall forward a few inches then drop back against the pot metal siding of the shed. Each impact sent a soft clang into the din of the raging crowd and nearby scuffle. After a four of these little acts of self punishment, Berk stopped and looked back towards the area where he had charge the man who killed his friend.

The small woman was moving away from the group. The blue eyes twinkled a bit as the wheels went back into motion. He had wanted to speak to her initially which was the whole reason for this fiasco. Berk needed information on his target and who better to give it to him than the person who was standing in his shadow? He carefully watched the young woman as she moved further and further away from the mess of violence. She didn’t seem particularly bothered by any of it nor did she seem all that concerned for the big guy. Reflections of the burning Osten bounced from an object clasped around her neck. It was the first time Berkley had noticed the trinket and he suddenly started to wonder if it was something more than a piece of jewelry. The woman had come to rest against a shack not far from where he stood so now the task became how to make an approach.

Many people were milling about but the small hill as the rumble melded into a very loud party that was somewhat separate from the rest of the festival. Berkley decided it would just be easiest to use a direct method so he pushed himself off of the shanty and made his way through the crowd towards the thin woman. For fun, he decided to randomly drag the chalk against party goers along the way. As he neared the place where she stood, he contemplated several angles and the apparent benefits to each. Finally, he decided to come along the wall of the building. He could address her without leaving himself exposed and it gave him a direct line of sight. Boots stomped about the mud until he came up to the rickety shelter’s corner farther from the woman.

“Excuse me…” Berk’s baritone rose from his diaphragm with a bit of a boom that traveled along the wall . “But I don’t think yellow is your color.” The man smiled his best smile then leaned his shoulder against the building. He was a good eight feet away from her so he folded his arms in a way that she could clearly see the colored chalk which matched the mark on her hand. Berk might have been smiling but his body indicated otherwise. The leaning shoulder was meant to look relaxed but his hand held the chalk tightly and his legs were slightly bent at the knees. He was not tense but out of his element in a large crowd so he did his best to be ready for unexpected circumstances. The hand closed to the building idled slightly behind his hip near the hilt of his dagger- just in case.
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on March 24th, 2018, 6:16 am

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Kelski was only going to stay standing where she was for a short time. The Kelvic knew she had to move and keep mingling with the crowd or someone would mark her for lost, scared, separated from her group, or otherwise vulnerable. Sharp eyes scanned the crowd, trying to spot Darvin, though she knew the odds were slim to none. Carefully she wrapped a hand around the dagger hidden at the small of her back and pulled it free letting the overly large worn cloak conceal it in her hand. She made sure her left hand – her shield hand – was free visible, and busy tugging on the sleeve of that arm in case anyone’s attention needed to find a place to land. Better her hand, than her face… right?

Kelski felt eyes on her and spotted the man before he was able to draw too close. She kept an eye on him without seemingly doing so, still scanning for Darvin and plotting her way through the crowd. She would have never spotted him but he’d made himself so clear to her when he’d pressed whatever it was he’d marked her hand with into her palm.

By now the effigy was in full flame and the crowd was gathering closer to it. There was toasting and a whole riot of laughter as the wooden man’s form began to burn with a heat that Kelski could feel even from her sheltered spot. It was fascinating and she’d have liked to watch it burn further, maybe unmolested or in a place there was no danger, but nothing like that existed in Sunberth. Everywhere was dangerous. And even now the man approached and she had no idea what he wanted.

She opened and closed her lips, snapping them together and wishing they were made of firmer stuff. Kelski missed her beak. It was far easier to express her discomfort than human lips were. Thinking that, she had no idea the smooth line of her lips pulled tight into a disapproving frown.

Kelski met his gaze when he came to rest against the shelters corner. She studied him openly while breaking eye contact to scan the crowd about every ten to twenty seconds. She couldn’t see much from his outfit, only that he was older and he had an inviting smile. Many things had inviting smiles though and she trusted none of them. There were even pretty flowers she’d seen in Lhavit that dripped with dew that just welcomed insects to come land on their surfaces and drink of the sweet nectar. Those same plants would clamp shut and eat the insects, sometimes taking weeks to do so.

“You again.” She said softly, glad he’d left distance between them and that he wasn’t trying to crowd her. Kelski noted he was armed, but so long as he wasn’t going to throw anything at her, she remained relaxed but wary. “Why did you do that? It was strange.” She said abruptly, scanning the crowd again, keeping an eye on the new man and also still looking for Darvin. “I saw you walk off, trailing it on buildings…. was that on purpose? Gang markings or something?” She asked, resisting the urge to scrub at the palm in question – it being the one that was tucked into her robe concealing her grip on a dagger.

“I don’t want any trouble. Not with you or with any of them. You almost caused a riot back there, throwing wine and spilling Darvin’s bag. That is a dangerous game, here in crowds like this. Why?” She asked, her expression still wary but this time tinged with a puzzlement. She studied Berkley like she couldn’t quite figure him out. “It would have been easier to knife Darvin than to take his money and drugs and scatter them. He’d have been better natured about it too.” She said, knowing her guard was going to be in a horrible mood once they got back together, having lost product and profit both. Likely he’d take it out on Kelski, though she wasn’t certain how…
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Berkley Whispers on March 27th, 2018, 12:49 am

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It was strange, really- the truth that seemed to resonate from the girl’s lips. Berkley wasn’t an expert at anything but something in his gut told him that she wasn’t playing some kind of game. The openness and directly placed frown of her lips said as much her statements. Thankfully, her body seemed relaxed against the small shack though the light eyes did take note of the hand that he could not see. Despite her posture and the security she maintained with something hidden, the strikingly grey eyes floated about the crowd almost constantly. Like a bird of prey, they circled the area that she could see and then swooped back to study him as if perched for a short time before taking off again. There was something amusing about it and it made Berkley’s smile increase in its curl but just on the right side.

Tall, lean and collared- this young woman was obviously property. The dress was worth more than everything Berk owned or so it seemed. Not one to deny himself the pleasure of a mystery, the light eyes flipped to the concealed parts of her outfit. Any buffoon could find attractive qualities in exposed flesh and womanly curves. Sunberth’s native son was more interested in that which he could not see. It was a game to discover if his imagination was correct as if filled in the blanks caused by a cloak that hung in drops of fabric which obscured shape, color and size. It dawned on the man that he was staring so he blinked slowly allowing his eyes a tick’s rest. He pushed his mind to his other senses while the flickering flames were blocked from his vision. It felt like a heightened awareness but it wasn’t- merely paying attention to the lesser senses.

The crackling of the fire was an underlying beat to the sounds of parties and fights that rang from all angles of the Slag Heap. Smoke covered the putrid smell of so many unwashed bodies but only just. He opened his eyes and returned the watery gaze to the woman who had so much to say. It was with this fresh image that he was able to see the kohl and powder that covered her face along with the lipstick to match her cloak. Subtle, well done and alluring- Berk almost changed the subject to see if she’d like to come and paint up some of the slaves back at the Maiden. That would be rude, however, and the braggart considered himself a gentlemen.

“Ah-yes. It’s me.” He smiled and turned a bit on his shoulder increasing the distance between his hand and his dagger’s hilt- a display put on for her to clearly see. “None of this was an accident...but I’m sure you’ve gotten that far already.” Berkley turned his head and the tendons of his neck rose up to the surface to aid in the smooth twist which allowed him to find Darvin. When he found the brute, something swallowed the light in his eyes. Moments later, the azure irises refocused to the girl. He held up the chalk in a very nonchalant manner as if he was waving a banana around. “This was a bit of improvisation...not exactly how I planned but at least you recognized me.” He lowered the marker. “You’ll get no trouble from me, lady. I hope I didn’t make any for you with your masters.” His face looked genuine but it went back to darvin so any study fixed upon the expression would be subjective at best. “Do you really think a man like that would be easy to just walk up and stab?” Berkley’s face went dark again- his eyes seemed to gloss over with ink as he stared daggers at the man of which he spoke; Darvin. She had given him a name with the face. “He might make it seem that way but no one stands atop a hill in Sunberth without knowing he can hold it.”

Berkley pushed himself off of the shelter with a lurch from his back that ran through his shoulder. It was like watching someone lay down in reverse and his abdomen tightened at the gesture- a sensation he rather enjoyed. “You asked why. I suppose I could tell you.” The large man, just slightly smaller than Darvin, turned and made a few steps towards her to cut the distance in half as he remained close to the building. “I’d like to tell you… but we should move from this spot before we’re seen.” The middle-aged man took a few steps away from the building and tossed the chalk into the air only to catch it in his right hand. He looked over his shoulder, his back now to the woman. “Once this hits, we’ll have a bit of time to move without worry of discovery.” He winked and turned back towards the crowd. The loudest bunch was in front of Darvin and his crew just beneath the rise. Berkley grunted as he brought his arm back and then around in an arc. He released the chalk as his arm started to come down but before it was level to the dust and mud. The yellow projectile sailed through the air and bounced off of one man to another man and then eventually hit a woman. The somewhat docile bunch was suddenly ignited with false accusations of violence that became three scuffles.

The man brought his hands in front of his body and dusted the golden residue from his callouses then spun on his boot heel. He looked at Kelski as he approached making sure to keep his hands folded in front of him and away from the dagger he had previously exposed to her. His face was mostly blank but a light twinkled deep in the wide pupils surrounded by icy blue rings; its radiance wasn’t brilliant or captivating so much as mischievous like a spark that ignites a forest fire. “Follow me if you’d like answers. I also think I might be someone that you could find as an ally.” He turned maintaining his prayer-like posture and looked over his shoulder to the woman that had captured his imagination. Eyes bounced down her form to where her arm rested beneath the cloak. “If you decide to stab me in the back- then take the dagger from my waist and slit Darvin’s throat with it.” Then he strode off at a leisurely pace as the scuffles grew into one big ring of beatings and turbulence. Darvin and his crew simply watched. The riffraff posed no threat to the solidly formed lines of gangsters and thugs.

Berkley traveled along the road, the way easy as he was moving away from the effigy. The blue eyes lifted to the building where he had hidden the dagger earlier that day. His hands remained up and it gave him a sense of balance. The gaze saw several steps ahead would mostly close so he could pay more attention to the sounds. Boots made hard noises so he was trying to gauge his own pattern of steps versus the din of parties and scrapes. He hoped the woman wasn’t a groupie of Darvin’s but he doubted as much. Still- it was a dangerous game to show your back to an armed stranger...even if she was some kind of exotic beauty wrapped in shadows and questions. When he got close, he spun on his boot to face the direction from whence he’d come. He wanted to see those storm cloud eyes staring at him. He wanted to see what the wind and her body did as it moved with purpose. Would the cloak betray its purpose? Would some of his stifled mental images turn out to be false? Would some be right? He made several steps backwards until he felt the cold, sticky sheen of the shed’s rusted siding. Berkley rested his head back as he sunk down onto one leg, the other tucking up under his bum and against the shack then exhaled. So much work, the business of revenge.
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on March 31st, 2018, 4:21 am

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The silver-eyed Kelvic watched Berkley studying her, wondering what he was thinking. She never knew with humans. She didn’t know why his lazy smile seemed to inch upwards, broadening like some plan was slowly forming in his mind. Kelski watched him stare and wondered again what words were crossing his mind. The Jeweler knew she was dressed in finery that did not belong to her and more importantly did not belong out on the street after dark even if it was a festival of sorts. Darvin was a fool to bring her here and she’d more than likely have to fight before the night was out. Because that was so, Kelski was glad for her sturdy boots on under the long dress and cloak. She would not have been able to move in anything more.

Shadows crawled around her, seemingly reaching out from the darkness and touching her, so that only her face seemed lit by the flickering flames of the distant fire. As usual, they whispered to her in Makath, greeting her or warning her or simply wanting to be entertained. Kelski glanced up at the sky, noting Sunberth’s lack of stars. Even Leth seemed to be absent tonight. Darkness was falling heavy on the city. She might miss the light at times, but truthfully the Nightstalker was never afraid of the dark.

“Who is he?” She whispered to the strange shadows in their own language. They might answer. They might not. She’d had no time to build any sort of relationship with them or become friends. She didn’t even know their names.

“Stranger.” A voice whispered.
“Lost one.” Another voice agreed.
“Son of a dead Father.” A third said firmly.

Three answered. And though their answers were no help, Kelski was used to such things from the Shadows. The answers they gave where often correct, never misleading or misguiding, but they put a whole new twist on obscure. “Not Akajia’s. I would know. You would too.” She answered, nearly under her breath as she kept watching him.

Kelski was surprised he admitted he was the one that caused Darvin’s little tumble and subsequent loss. There was something of pride in his voice, maybe a tad bit of arrogance. She was indifferent to what happened to her guard other than the repercussions of his ire come morning if the loss was something he’d blame her for. The Kelvic watched him take his time answering her, doing more thinking than talking, which was unusual in Sunberth where everyone thought the art of fast talk was a virtue. Mainly such action just confused her so Berkley’s careful words tended to help her understand him more easily.

She nodded at his assurance that she’d get no trouble from him. Kelski didn’t trust the man, but she didn’t want to distrust him either. In her experience, those that were going to attack would have already. He genuinely just seemed to want to talk.

Kelski followed Berkley’s gaze to Darvin’s form in the distance. “I know exactly who he is. There’s nothing easy about him. Nor is anything consistent other than his drunkenness and his love of selling drugs.” The Kelvic answered, injecting the words quietly into the silences between what looked to Kelski to be Berkley’s thoughts.

“Master. I only have one. And it is not him. Darvin is my guard and I am his excuse. Men look at me and let him pass unseen and he knows it. Jaren Jorenson is my owner. I am his jeweler. And he is the Warmaster’s son of The Sun’s Births.” Kelski said, her words soft, matter-of-fact and nothing more. “I am worth nothing and am no one, just decked out tonight to be something hung on Jaren’s arm like a jewel and sat at his feet for his feast like a dog.” She admitted. “I came to see a man burned alive. Humans are a study in confusion and I could not wrap my head around why they would burn a man in celebration of another man’s feats. I understand more now. I did not know it would be a man made of wood.” The Kelvic added, glancing once more at the burning effigy. For some reason, her silver eyes were burning too now.

She corrected him.

“We’ve already been seen, judged, and marked as something to everyone that has passed. Inconsequential to some, easy targets to others… it was too late before we even stopped here to speak. Sunberth is never safe.” The Kelvic said quietly, her eyes scanning once more. “The only one I care about right now hasn’t seen us though. He’s too riled in his anger and drink to quiet down and really look around.” She said bitterly. It was always ironic to Kelski that as much as she hated Darvin, she often preferred his company. He was a known thing to her, more predictable than the unknown and often easily anticipated.

“I’ll go no place with you alone unless it is somewhere safer.” Kelski hissed, not using the word ‘safe’. No place in Sunberth was truly safe. Safer? Yes. Safe? Definitely not. “The Gold Lodge maybe or even the Pigsfoot. But not into the deeper darkness with a complete stranger who has uneasy things crossing his vision.” Kelski replied, locking her heels and refusing to move even though he threw the marking instrument he had in his hand. Even the shadows seemed in agreement with this decision. She could feel them stroking her back and fluttering her cloak where it concealed the fine dress she wore beneath.

“I’m no coward to stab someone in the back. That’s the way of a human.” She said with a small twist to her lips. It wasn’t a nice expression, nor was the tone of the word ‘human’. She watched him stride off, a black eyebrow raised, and wondered why he thought so little of her even though he didn’t know her. Stabbing people in the back, indeed. The Kelvic smiled a bit and turned, glancing to see where Darvin had gone.

Not seeing him, she picked a direction and called to the stranger just before he was out of sight. “I’ll be at The Gold Lodge if you truly want to talk. My stomach is so empty its eating my spine.” The Kelvic said, shaking her head. She’d literally just come from a feast, and yet nothing had been offered to her but a few amused scraps from Jaren’s hand. Pulling the hood up over her head, she set it on the mass of hair crowning her skull so that the sides of the cloak’s hood did not obscure her vision. She set off with a knowledge of where she was going, and a rapid enough pace to make herself look assured and not hurried, but definitely not lingering.

If Berkley wanted to see how she moved, he’d realize that she slipped along the way she was headed, almost shadow to shadow. Sometimes through a trick of the light or perhaps something even darker, the shadows tended to reach for her and she seemed to gravitate to them. Though she was too far away to hear her, he could see her lips move and she glanced around as if she had more than one companion even though she was alone.

The cloak blew against her and he could tell the fabric made her look larger than she was. Its yards of material concealed a smaller form, overdressed and unused to the finery though she made no move to hold the hem up above the mud of the streets. Someone would be upset the velvet and wool was soiled, though perhaps by the colors, this was something they’d already known would occur.

Darvin would find her eventually at the Gold Lodge, no doubt, after making several rounds to seedier establishments in order to refuel on booze and probably have himself a whore or two. It would be bells, even though, and only if the Kelvic remained at the lodge. Kelski was closer than she thought, having only to cross down one main street and move through two crossroads. The crowds out and about made traveling safer and she arrived at The Gold Lodge faster than she thought.

Taking a seat, she asked for a meal. Sun Birth’s members were fed for free, even though the meal they delivered to her did not match the finery she wore. Thin soup, mostly water, and a heel of bread crust so hard it had to be soaked in the soup to be edible greeted her. It was a familiar sight. The Kelvic sighed, knowing this would never fill her up and began eating regardless. Food was food and she hadn’t lied. Kelski was hungry.
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Berkley Whispers on April 11th, 2018, 2:51 am

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Berkley stopped when she called him on his tactics. He had only just moved past the little slave girl when her voice made him second guess the plan he had tried to put into action. Her words all fell into the realm of cold logic and it was like a tall glass of clean water in a city of bitter ale and dirty mead. She observed much and said little but what the girl did say not only made sense but it carried weight. It wasn’t the kind of pull a gang leader might have or the owner of a well-known establishment; no. The girl with piercing grey eyes had a way with words that seemed to cleave through the nonsense and touch the strings of Berkley’s soul. He lowered his hands and his head and stood there to take in all of her conversation- her advice and her decision.

The middle-aged man couldn’t help but smile into the shadows that covered his face as the pyre burned. Berkley slowly turned around with an agreement spilling from his lips. “Alright, I-...” The blue eyes bounced around until he caught sight of her. She walked like a person but she, well… she didn’t. It was like the aged eyes were blinking without him being aware that he was doing it but everytime he refocused, the little slave was further down the street leaving gaps in the trail. Admiration fell from him like water from a duck’s back. He wasn’t sure what it was; magic, skill, a trick of the mind- but he loved it. Berkley had never seen anything quite like it and it made him grin. “Gold Lodge, it is.”

Berkley clapped his hands and followed the broken trail as best as he could. He had a fairly good idea of where he was going but then again- did anyone really ever know where they were going in Sunberth? The lawlessness was contained by several entities who jockeyed power and played with lives like pieces in a game or chips on a table. The gods must love this place...from a distance. As he walked, his eyes scanned from side to side while he listened intently to the sounds of his own boots on the ground. It wasn’t a distraction so much as a technique of self-preservation. A echoed footfall could easily give away if someone was following him though it was hard at first given the roar of the party-goers.

After several chimes, Berkley stopped near an intersection and asked a group of men who seemed to share a full set of teeth between the three of them for directions to the lodge. One mumbled, one pointed and one tried to draw a dagger but fell over in his drunkenness. The snoring was instant when he hit the ground and this made the pair still standing laugh with glee and hiccups. The blue-eyed seeker just shook his head and headed off in the direction that had been revealed.

Naturally, it was a case of bad directions but the Gold Lodge was marked well enough that Berkley could see if from the next intersection and made his way to the door. He reached for the handle then stopped and moved off to one side. He peered through the slimy windows and took in the scene. It was quiet since most everyone was at the festival which suited Berkley just fine. Several patrons were stumbling towards the door so he just flattened himself against the wall until they came through the door and went on their way. He made no big show of entering the tavern and stepped off to one side once inside. He narrowed his gaze and gave his eyesight a few ticks to adjust to the different lighting inside the structure. The young woman was eating some kind of broth and other standard morsels at a table by herself.

Berkley almost felt bad for her given the expression on her face. Satisfaction brought about by a full stomach looked like it was going to evade the pretty young thing this evening and the empty pocketed man felt a tinge of responsibility. Berkley was completely confused by this so he let the notion go then casually made his way over to the table. He slid in along the bench across from her and instantly began to fidget. It didn’t fit his personality or mannerisms at all. He didn’t look at her nor acknowledged the slave in any way but he began talking quietly. “I had fun watching you skip your way here. I gotta say- I’m inclined to ask a question or two.” He looked at her, his face still pointed at the table but his eyes peeled up to show a bit of a spark behind their azure lens.

The bartender strode up at that very moment and put his hand down firmly on the wood next to Kelski’s dinner and spilled some of her broth. “What’s your business here, scum? The bitch’s owned.”

Berkley looked up with desperate eyes that seemed to shiver with tension and discomfort. His voice quaked as fingers dug into the flesh on his opposite arm. “Hey! Sor- sir.. I did a..uhh- favor! Yeah. I did a favor for her handlerpersonguy.” He turned away to cough into his shoulder but allowed his body to shake with the convulsions. He returned the scrazed stare to the tender. “He said find him here to settle up and I- that’s why I’m here.” Berkley drew back into himself and rocked back and forth ever so slightly on the bench. Hs voice became just a whisper and he no longer made eye contact with either of them. “Can I do that? Can I wait here for a little bit for my pay?”

The bartender smirked. “If he touches you, girl, charge him or kill him.” As the man headed back to his duties, he muttered “Darvin’ll prolly kill him anyway.”

Berk smiled down at his lap and absorbed the small victory before leaning forward, hands under the table, until his arms and chest pressed against the worn and dirty edge of the wood. He lifted his gaze, now steady though he kept his chin down to hide the smirk he wore. “So, we’re here- ‘safe’.” The man looked up to the bartender then looked away quickly. “Would you like to hear about the first time I met Darvin or have I just wasted my whole evening trying to talk to you?” The blue eyes peered up once more and leveled with her grey stare. Berkley wasn’t mad or even annoyed- his questions was more genuine than it seemed. Maybe he was different. Maybe he wasn’t. Sometimes, Berk fancied himself more mature than those around him but other times he was just a teenager chasing his own hormones. Tonight felt more like the former- something about standing directly in front of the man who murdered your friend had a way of dampening the party spirit.
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Berkley Whispers
The Silver Rooster
 
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The Things We Burn (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on May 15th, 2018, 2:58 am

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Kelski met Berkleys gaze and studied him with her liquid mercury gaze. She couldn’t figure out what he wanted. It had something to do with Darvin, but what exactly, she wasn’t sure. So she ate and looked, raising an eyebrow when the bartender stepped in.

“The Bitch might be owned but she can speak to whomever she wants to and the same goes for who she dines with. My business is not yours.” Kelski snapped, her quicksilver eyes going narrow and gleaming with anger. “He needs fed too. Darvin insisted.” She hissed, and would have shaken out her feathers menacingly had she been wearing them. Instead she just shook herself at the skin level in a momentary resettling of her posture and then deliberately turned and ignored the bartender. She might be a slave, but there was a pecking order to the Sun’s Birth and a slave of one of the Warleaders’ son had more rank than a common bartender who’s bread was buttered on the graciousness of the leadership.

Soon enough the Bartender brought food for Berkley. It was a simple stew, a lot heartier than the food he offered the slave.

In the meantime, they were speaking. Or at least Berkley was speaking and Kelski was listening. “There’s no safety in Sunberth. There’s only the illusion of it.” Kelski said softly, speaking around a bite of bread she had to work to eat, soaking it at length in the warm broth before it had been edible. She looked slightly pissed when Berkley got a fresh slice of buttered bread with his stew.

As she ate, the red lip cosmetic wore off and he could see her lips were truly black as was the inside of her mouth. There was no mistaken, unless she was a corpse and rotting from the inside out, that the woman was obviously kelvic.

“Of course, I’ll hear it.” She said again in her soft contralto voice, almost at a warble, even as her eyes scanned the room systematically, watching the crowd and keeping an eye on the bartender. “You’ve done a lot this evening I would consider a waste. Sometimes just approaching someone and saying hello is enough. But I also want to listen to what you want. Because you want something and I can’t quite figure out what.” She added, dabbing another bit of the hard crust of bread in her broth and trying to soften it enough to chew.

Kelski looked thoughtful for a moment, started to say something, then didn’t. She was going to explain to Berkley exactly what her relationship with Darvin was. He was her handler and nothing more… a glorified babysitter that was all but pathetic at his job because here she was alone after all. But she decided at the last moment that Berkley probably wouldn’t appreciate it or rather didn’t care. No one cared about much in Sunberth, except perhaps their own survival.
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They laugh at me because I am different.
I laugh at them because they are all the same.
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Kelski
Feral at heart.
 
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