Closed Easy Money

Should've gotten paid upfront...

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

Easy Money

Postby Elias Caldera on August 19th, 2018, 10:08 pm

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20th Day of Summer, 518 AV

It was quiet, all save for the rain.

It felt strange to be amidst so much silence honestly. Usually the Lakeshore was abuzz with activity around this time, as it was at all bells really. Day and night laborers, merchants, and folk of every sort toiled within the outpost to feed the ravenous appetites of the great city across the water, for paradise could afford no constraints on the frivolous wants of its children, nor permitted any. Thus, the titanic task of supplying Ravok with all she required fell to the people of the shoreline who served tirelessly in her shadow. Yet today, it was quiet. There was none of the usual din of foreign traders hawking their wares, or the tides of underpaid, faceless lumberjacks singing their folksongs as the work gangs marched off into the wilderness once more to claim what they could before the trees and the things they held host to chased them back again. No, the southern outpost was still today, and few souls dared to venture outside, let alone could find the vigor to raise a tune in such listless climate.

Today, it was quiet, all save for the rain.

And it had been this way for nearly a week now.

An unending, relentless downpour had assaulted the outpost, and for six days straight, gray skies and dark clouds had ruled over the land. The results had been a usually boisterous and thriving settlement slowly conquered by a prevailing sluggishness and languid appeal that affected all the weather touched. The streets were empty, and the all the doors were closed shut as it seemed everyone was more than content to simply wait out the storm than try to brave it. It would have been almost like a ghost town, had it not been for the few near do wells still skulking around in the mud.

One such near do well was Elias Caldera, and say what you will about the weather, but it made the scarred swordsman's work all the easier. A lot less eyes watching meant a whole lot less chance of someone noticing he was here, and considering the kind of shyke he was getting himself into lately, that could only be for the better.

“Oh, that’s the stuff.” The fat old smuggler sighed breathily. A cloud sticky, acrid smoke followed, wreathing his scarred face as he smiled.

“My patrol is in thirty chimes, Kale. You said you had something for me?” Elias warned bitterly, wrinkling his nose at the sickly sweet aroma.

Kale pulled the smoldering pipe from between his bearded lips and grimaced, snatching the bag of tobacco from the stryfer as he was offered it. “That’s the problem with you youth these days,” he exclaimed in a particularly condescending tone, “always in a rush, with nowhere to go. Can’t waste even a tick to enjoy the good things you’ve got in life before you’re off trying to get your hands on the next. It’s a sad state we live in, I tell yah.”

A droplet of water from a leak somewhere above landed on Elias’s nose as he stared blankly at the old man.

He began to reach for the tobacco he’d just handed off.

“Alright, alright, damnit!” Kale cursed, flinching back before promptly pocketing his payment. That damn stinkweed the gnarly fool had demanded had cost nearly five gold coins! Whatever the ‘retired’ goon had dragged him out here to say had better have been worth it.

“You in particular should be taking your time, Caldera.” Kale grumbled as he leveled his pipe at the young soldier. “This little ‘tiff’ you say you’ve got going with the Family is sure to shave a few decades off your life expectancy if you’re not careful. Might as well enjoy yourself while you’re still upright and breathing, is my advice. It ain’t gonna be that way for long if you keep headin’ the way you’re headin’.”

Elias suppressed a sigh. “You said you had something on them. Something that I could use.” He pushed once more, trying to seem as dispassionate and unphased as possible. The truth was, hearing Kale put everything into perspective as he had, made the swordsman uneasy. It wasn't the first time either. He tried to hide it, but every once in a while his eyes would make a sweep of the warehouse the two of them were meeting in, cold blue orbs nervously surveying the dank, towering stacks of crates and moldering sacks piled about him. The rains had driven away the workers as they had done everywhere else, and the only people who now risked the weather were the two men standing at the building’s center. Like before, Elias realized there was not here to warrant his nerves but a stale, mugginess in the air, the creaking of rusty cranes, and the ‘drip drip dripping’ of a leaky roof.

They don’t know anything. He reminded himself calmly. They don’t know anything and they never will.

“Not so much a concrete, established ‘something’…”

Elias’s glare hardened.

“But more of a useful, potentially advantageous speculation.”

The Ravokian’s pale lips opened, clearly prepared to unleash a new and rather vile string of curses and threats, but for some reason, faltered at the gate. “…go on.” He muttered darkly.

“Hear me out. This whole thing with the Druvin purging the city of ‘deplorables’ has really turned things on their head for a lot of people.”

The soldier nodded. This wasn’t exactly his first pogrom. They came like the storms in summer, reliable in both their intensity and their timing for the most part. Despite its appearances, wanton slaughter was nothing new to the dark city, and every once in a while someone important enough decide it would be good idea if ‘those people’ were gone. Some purges were small and contained, others grand and ambitious. This new focus on the more exotic races that plagued Ravok was nothing new, and the fact that it came on the heels of yet another cleansing -Morwen’s Avantal- just made it seem all the more mundane and trivial. The truth of the matter was, Elias had lived here long enough to know none of it would last. Genocide of the lesser races was fine and all for stirring up the fervor of the locals, but it didn’t paint a very welcoming picture for a city devoted to its image of perfection and sanctuary. You couldn’t exactly draw in pilgrims and refugees seeking the enlightenment of Rhsyol when you were busy killing their kind in the streets by the hundreds.

It would end, like it always did. All Elias had to do was capitalize where he could, and avoid getting his hands bloody everywhere else. This kind of wretched work was not what he was meant for.

“For one thing, I’m sure the Charoda, Pycons, Akalaks and all the rest aren’t too keen on it, but this has really done a number on those loyal citizens with deplorables as slaves. One can only imagine what its doing for the slavers.”

Elias pursed his lips, brow furrowing in contemplation. Its true, any loyal subject of the Voice would be forced to turn in their property if it fell within the venue of those selected for destruction. That would mean willingly handing over a slave that would have likely cost hundreds, if not thousands of mizas thanks to their rarity and alien allure. He hadn’t even considered what that might mean for the slavers and wranglers who dealt in their trade. It must have been a harsh, if not devastating blow to their bottom line… that, or a staggering boon.

“Now I would never suggest a family as steadfast and faithful as the Larks would ever even humor the notion of not upholding the law set by the Druvin, but…”

“but…”

“Well, there seem to be certain individuals who, since the declaration by the whites eyes, havebeen walking around town with a certain pep in their step and an extra jingle in their pockets, if you catch my drift.”

“You have a name?” Elias inquired, interests now definitely peaked.

Kale grinned and adjusted his coat. “Mazrim Taim.” He said with an air of innocent indifference. “By all accounts the man was a dutiful and stalwart servant of the Larks. One of their best slavers and sellers from what I hear. Then all of a sudden the purge comes along and he’s up and gone independent like. Striking out on his own, as it were. Now if you know the Larks...”

“They don’t indulge competition.” The Caldera finished slowly, a hand now cupping his chin as he considered what Kale was getting at. So this ‘Taim’ was somehow selling off the forbidden stock of slaves the Larks had, though had been conveniently doing so under the guise of a slaver gone independent should the authorities ever catch on. To be honest, he wasn’t surprised. Of course there would be those who’d be willing to spend exorbitant amount of coin on something like an illegal Ethafael, and for no other reason than because it was taboo. That was the problem with a city that had everything and wanted for naught, people grew bored and thirsted for danger, eager to skirt the edge, for what else did they have that could make them feel alive?

He would have to find this slaver, uncover his secrets, and expose the Larks as part of the plot...

Elias smiled. Oh, is that all?

The stryfer’s hands dipped into his cloak, retrieving a small pouch of coins. He regarded his old informant with a surprisingly grateful look. Kale never failed to disappoint, despite all the shyke the two often gave one another. This time it seemed, was no different. “As always, old man, a pleasure speaking with you.” Elias cooed coyly, tossing the purse at the smuggler.

As the bag left his palm however, something buzzed at his ear, and out of instinct Elias’s gloved hand quickly clasped around it, hoping to squish whatever annoying insect it may have been. Then the stinging came, a red hot flash of pain that ignited in his ear that told him something was wrong. When he pulled his hand away and looked at it, he saw the splotches of blood covering his palm.

Something was vety wrong.

The stryfer peered upwards, turning to Kale for an explanation, but as he beheld the scruffy smuggler, he saw just as confused a look in the old man’s eyes staring back at him. He also saw the crossbow bolt protruding from Kale's chest, Elias’s pouch of Mizas pinned dead center.

“That’s… that’s not right…” he heard the man mutter unsteadily right before he dropped to the floor.

Even as the gold and blood began to mix, Elias was spinning around, hand reaching for the pommel of his blade.

He wasn’t quick enough.

Not even close.

Something punched into his side like a battering ram and he felt the air flee from his lungs. His legs gave out almost instantly, and before he knew it, he was on one knee, bleeding, dying, and staring into the faces of the three men who’d managed to sneak in behind him.

One of them was reloading his depleted crossbow, a contemptuous and sinister grin splitting his tattooed face in twain. “What did I tell yah, boys” he chuckled,

“Easy money.”
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Easy Money

Postby Belugnir on August 29th, 2018, 2:32 am

‘’Easy indeed, eh new blood?’’, the second mercenary of the pair dispatched on this task gave Einar a nudge of his elbow with a horrid dose of forced fondness.

‘’…Right.’’, Ein used the end of his poleaxe’s handle to shove away the apprehended mage’s sword from the fellow’s reach... but just barely. He had hardly shown a talkative side ever since banding up with the two older mercenaries. He was not fond of their sort one bit. They gave off a horribly sly and lawless impression. And that was from Einar’s perspective, of all people. Yet that was far from the solitary reason he’d been, for Ein accepted more than one job, taken more than one upfront payment, and needed more than a single man dead.

I bloody hate all this back and forth knife in the back horseshyke… He barely withheld a frustrated sigh, almost betraying his anxiety hid behind a shoddy asocial façade.

‘’Come on then, we’ve done the work for you, you can start earning your keep now. Finish the freak off. Kill the warlock.’’, the old mercenary encouraged, but the last words off of his lips caused Ein to freeze with a blank, wide-eyed stare at the man, calling back a horrible echo of a childhood he’d thought forgotten. As things stood, Ein was at his highest alert, yet with a traumatic memory so trivially awoken he nearly failed to notice the meaningful look that his two ‘comrades’ exchanged… and he realized the moment of truth was nigh. It was do or die now. Quite frankly… and so he’d forced his daft glare into hiding behind narrowing eyes and a long breath.

‘’Aye… right on it…’’, the armor he wore gave a creak as the man rose his poleaxe. Naturally he came in full gear for this task, knowing that stealth shan’t be a thing of importance once the true ordeal begins… in truth, he’d hoped the mage those two were hunting would have been able to off at least one of the bastards, or weaken them at the very least. But the twat had a bolt in his side and would have easily received another one or a sure and quick blade to the neck should he have tried anything. The other two mercenaries had their attention on Elias. He was the threat. Not the scapegoat meant not to doubt a damn thing.

Ein seemed to be winding up a solid hit to deliver to the kneeling mage’s head with the steel-strapped bottom of his weapon’s handle, yet there was a desperate attempt to lock eyes with the man, giving him a steely, imploring gaze. He knew he had maybe an ounce of a breath to hesitate, and that ounce he used to give a quickened nod to the man knelt before him, almost in a panic, hoping the bald bastard could follow through with what would unfold, uttering the words ‘’Get up!’’

The poleaxe would have swung down, yet it would not come to touch the wounded sorcerer, whiffing over his head instead, Ein would have the bottom of its long handle instead ram itself into the belly of the bastard stood beside him, and just as the man was done reloading his crossbow too. They did not expect this. Their plan was to shoot Einar in the back of the head as soon as he’d have offed their real target. Yet they did not expect the younger fellow to bear betrayal in mind as well.

‘’Shyke!’’, the fellow to the side exclaimed as Ein swung the hammer end of his poleaxe down on his exasperated comrade’s head, only catching him across the cheek, sadly, missing the lethal mark, but coming down with a vengeance upon the man’s left collar bone, setting him to fall on his knees with a pained yelp, dropping his weapon, hands clawing upward at his mauled chest and curling up on the ground to cover his exposed head. He’d worn only a crude leather vest as a means of protection, and from what Ein could have concluded from the several brief glances he’d had at their equipment thus far that he definitely preferred to stay well away from extended close combat, or at least more so than his heavily geared comrade, thus Einar’s first mark had been decided, and now, capitalizing upon the element of surprise as much as possible, it was largely dispatched as well.

Ein had just barely had the time to continue his sudden assault into a motion which would produce a horizontal shove, only doing enough to push the heavily armored foe away with the weapon's shaft and prevent him from immediately drawing a sword on him, giving them both room to stance up, as Ein's footwork wasn't organized well enough to continue this assault further without first recuperating.

Now he could only hope this Elias could get a hold of himself enough to finish off the mage hunter with a raptured cheek and broken clavicle, and who’d had the air knocked out of him, meanwhile he’d dealt with the remaining pressing threat… as best he could.

''Whorin' bastard. You're bloody dead!'', Ein barely heard the mage hunter's hissed words under the sound of him unsheathing the broad, tipless cleaver from behind his waist.
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Easy Money

Postby Elias Caldera on September 14th, 2018, 1:55 am

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It felt… wrong.

Not the pain in his side that flared like a fire with every ragged breath he took, nor even the scraping of the bolt’s serrated edge against the bone it had nearly punched through. It wasn’t even the warm slickness of his hands as they soaked themselves in his blood, nor the sound of his heartbeat in his ears thumbing so loud it drowned out even the thunder of the storm outside. It wasn’t the weakness that claimed his limbs, the dizziness that sundered his thoughts, nor the agony that ground his teeth, for Elias had known these feelings in the past many a time and had long since grown accustomed to their company. No, it wasn’t any of these things he was feeling then that truly had him unnerved, but instead what he wasn’t feeling -what he couldn’t feel.

His magic...

His magic was gone.

That wasn’t quite the truth of it frustratingly enough, for it was still there and he could still sense it like one could sense the coming rain in the air. Faint, feeble and far flung, the sorcerer called out to his great power in desperation, but it did not answer. It could not, for something sinister held it at bay, strangling it’s cry and binding it in some wickedness its master could not fathom. Whatever it was stymied the flow of his djed, and for the first time in a long time, Elias Caldera was without his magic.

It felt wrong.

The pale solider groaned angrily as he felt his blade lackadaisically knocked aside and out of his withered grasp. He was weak, pathetically so, and he knew with little doubt this was no natural frailty of his own being. Was it poison, or…

With a gasp, the Ravokian forced his head to obey, slack and drooping as it was, and he turned his wavering attention on the source of his vexation; the bolt. Though his eyes watered and lost themselves in the torrent of wooziness that had so suddenly come over him, the Caldera could tell almost immediately his hunch was correct. It wasn’t poison, or at least if it was, it wasn’t acting alone. There were runes clearly and carefully etched into the solid metal spike of steel that now jutted from his hip, the kind of runes the world weary mage recognized as the sort that didn’t just hold host to spells, but were also designed to seal them away. There was no question it was the cause of his arcane impotency, his wretched state, and his frothing rage. Some sort of magic was holding his at bay, and if he didn’t act quick to tear down this damnable wall that denied him his djed, then there was little doubt in his mind he’d die today in this petching warehouse, to these petching dogs, in this petching rain… That was not his fate!

Warily, Elias raised his eyes to meet those of the assassin creeping towards him. Ragged, mangy, and all together undeserving, the bastard strolled with air of contempt and misplaced ambivalence. He must of have thought Elias helpless, easy pickings! Indeed, the other men who goaded him on held the same manner, but that was where the similarities ended. They were both large and imposing thugs, bristling with as many weapons on their persons as there were runes tattooed on their faces. Elias recognized most of the ink as more than meaningless scribbles, but as glyphs all too familiar, for they were same kind the ran the course of the bolt they’d put in him. Were they mages then? It didn’t seem like it, but then again, he was hardly in any position to be sussing out the intricacies of his killer’s souls. He could barely even muster the strength to meet their eyes, yet he didn’t need to to tell they gleamed with a cold, calculating callousness that spoke of men who’d killed in the past and were more than just use to it, they were good at it.

Though, by the way the one with the leather armor and long greasy hair was grinning, it was probably a safe bet to assume he enjoyed it too.

Elias’s focus wasn’t set on him though, nor even his grimacing counterpart whose name he'd overheard as 'Ramsey.' Instead, blue hazy eyes latched on to those of their third and youngest member, the one who now sought to claim the stryfer’s head. Well the mage had other plans. All he need do was wait for his time to strike. He’d seize upon his daggers and bring their wrath down upon the scraggily looking one first, then the yellow toothed shyke to his left. The pain of such frantic movement would be intense, but he would overcome it -he had to. Then it was just a matter of getting to his sword and- Wait. What... what is he trying to say?

That’s when the Caldera noticed something for the first time. The way the three of them were standing, the way their muscles tensed and their eyes shifted expectantly between one another. There were silent signals being sent, a plan in motion, and seemed like not everyone was in on the joke. Something was amiss in this lover’s triangle, and by the time the assassin behind the one wielding the poleaxe began to lift his crossbow and aim it at the back of his comrade’s head, Elias understood what the unkempt killer was trying to convey.

Lucky for them both, betrayal was a concept few understood as well as the Caldera did.

The strike came swift and sudden, sharpened steel cleaving through the air and hurtling towards his pale neck. Where there should have been a gargled yelp and a gout of gushing blood that heralded the gruesome end of the mage, instead there was nothing but the whiff of wind as the weapon’s edge sailed over Elias’s head. For his part, the soldier was already moving, rolling with a snarl as he lunged for his hidden blade and unleashed it with a desperate throw.

Mordin!” The older, shaved head hunter growled in shock as his tattooed friend went down. There was something else to be said, a curse or a command maybe, but whatever it was, the words were lost in a hiss of surprise and frustration as the big man was forced to raise his crossbow high as a makeshift shield to stop the incoming dagger. The distraction was enough to spare the pale swordsman a second bolt as he hastily ducked behind a stack of nearby crates, narrowly avoiding the crossbow shot that splintered the wood of the crate a split-tick later and only mere inches from where his head had been. Though the mercy of the moment ended there as the big man, clearly a veteran of combat, now bore down upon the shaggy sellsword with imposing ferocity. The menacing cleaver in his hand seemed particularly problematic, but it was a problem that was not his to deal with just yet. Elias had his own ordeal to settle first.

The options now arrayed before him were still stunningly limited as he lay there with his back against the crates trying hopelessly to catch his breath, but given what they had been mere moments before, it was practically an embarrassment of choices: He could run of course, using this unexpected distraction to escape into the lakeshore outpost and try and signal one of the guards. In this rain however patrols were unlikely, and even if he could scream at the top of his lungs, no one was going to hear him unless he was right on top of them. The other choice was to hide, to try and lose himself in this literal maze of towering wooden spires and mounds of trade goods the warehouse held in storage.

The swordsman clenched his teeth and grumbled something sour under his breath as his crimson grip took hold of the bolt in his side. Right, he thought bitterly, like running and hiding were a luxury I could afford anymore.

No, the truth was both he and god knew this could only end in one way, as it always did.

With a deep breath, the stryfer tightened his grip around the metal stud that had made itself a home in his flesh, and readied himself for the grizzly business of what was to come.
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Easy Money

Postby Belugnir on October 5th, 2018, 3:56 am

‘’What’s wrong, Rams? ‘fraid I’ll drop ye like I did your pal?’’, Einar forced a grin through trembling voice and cold sweat. Both mercenaries stood still. It was a long time since he’d actually taken another man’s life. He’d forgotten the rush, the shivers, and the doubtful pounding of his heart. Mad beasts were one thing… staring an armed man down after all but killing a comrade of his was something else entirely.

Takes me bloody back…

‘’Have at ye, bald cunt, c’mon. We’s not getting any younger here. Particularly not you.’’, his voice nearly quivered, taking away the liability of his already half-arsed taunt.

For his original threat, Ramsey was still a seasoned fighter, and knew himself at a disadvantage by sheer merit of the weapons he and Einar held. Initiating with a short blade against a polearm when both he and his foe had comparable armaments otherwise was idiotic… A thing Einar was aware of as well… So he retained the minor distance the two had between them. He had no time to care for the sorcerer now, all attention was committed to eyeing an opening… anything, the most minute falter of focus… and it came, for Mordin was indeed still alive, if at death’s door, and Ramsey couldn’t help but spare a glance for his fallen comrade. It was but a blink… and though Einar’s attempt at exploiting the folly was late by a breath, it was as good a chance as he wagered he shall receive.

So forth came the pike of his poleaxe, the man wielding it charging close behind, unsheathing the one crude dagger fit for close quarters that he had before both his hands settled on the poleaxe, his right hand gripping both of the instrument’s handles at once.

Ramsey, however, even with his brief gap at attention, managed to foresee his foe’s intent, and so as he parried the incoming thrust, he weaved his body to the attacking lad’s left side, effectively placing Einar’s trick weapon on the far end of his attacker’s body, while also having his sword hand remain between him and his foe.

Shyke…

Ein couldn’t so much as utter the word before Ramsey used the opening provided by his charge to present a knee to the lad’s belly. Though it sent him staggering backwards with faltering breath, Ein still just barely managed to catch the incoming swing of Ramsey’s cleaver with the steely vambrace on his left forearm, abandoning his poleaxe, as it was rendered far too clunky at such close quarters, his right fist, still clutching the dagger, would have made way for the bald bastard’s face, only to be caught at the wrist not half a foot away from its mark… and so they began to struggle. Ramsey had experience and hardiness on his side, but Ein’s was a strength more youthful and ripe, to boot, he was nearly a foot shorter than the older fellow, allowing him to shove into his opponent with greater ease.

Ramsey gave ground for hardly a step, and with their hands locking each other down about just evenly matched, the old mercenary made attempt at kneeing the younger fellow in the loins, and though successful, he would also come to receive Einar’s almost signature reply. A reckless headbutt, flat across the chin. And then another, as Ein shoved his head upwards, almost leaping, fueled by wrathful pain of taking a cheap shot to his stones, and so he smashed the top of his head into Ramsey’s nose, sporting a wide grin as the crunching sound of the old man’s face being broken reached his ears.

At that point both of the men’s weapons were wrested from their hands and abandoned, and though the pain of being kneed in the groin had shot up Einar’s belly, it was not as much of a hinder as Ramsey’s broken nose and rearranged jaw. Yet just as Ein began to mount an offensive, shoving a fistful of his own steel against the inside of Ramsey’s thigh, for it was poorly armored and unobscured by his hands, and grabbing the old bastard by the collar, he was knocked off balance by a force from behind, two steel plates loosening from where they were sown on his coat of chainmail.

Mordin apparently had enough life in him to take hold of his crossbow yet again and aim a sloppy shot at the lad’s back after all, though the bolt didn’t make it through Ein’s coat of plates, it knocked the breath out of him, bludgeoning square against the center of his lower back… And thus enough time was bought for Ramsey to deliver a hit of his own, a fist to Ein’s side under his arm… thus the two were reduced to a back and forth, attempting to wrest each other from their feet, landing punch after barely significant punch of steely gauntlets against steelier armor whenever they’d have the chance… Only Ein had the present threat of Mordin possibly not drawing his last breath before he’d draw his hand crossbow yet again… and so Ein made his best attempts to pull Ramsey in the way of a potential incoming bolt as their struggle continued.

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Last edited by Belugnir on October 14th, 2018, 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Easy Money

Postby Elias Caldera on Yesterday, 7:26 pm

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With blood and steel in his hand, and a roar upon his lips, he came for them.

Without warning or hesitation, Elias hurled himself over the divide of crates that had previously separated the swordsman from the melee, diving headlong into the fray with his newly acquired weapon in hand. Ripped from his side and clutched in a crimson grip, the stryfer had lunged himself at the bald headed assassin with the accursed bolt now wielded like a dagger, swinging with seemingly reckless abandon. It seemed as if both men were his targets, yet to the trained eye -to Ramsey’s eye- there was a precision and fatality to his movement that spoke of more than just a desperate and foolhardy assault, but of a soldier’s grace belied by the façade of bloodlust.

It was true, the Ravokian came at the rune covered menace with murder in his eyes, swinging faster and hitting harder than either of the assassins combined. Without the bolt in his side restraining his djed, magic had returned to Elias, and it had returned with a vengeance. The power of the flux now coursed through him like a raging current, fueling his limbs and giving rise to a very real threat of being overpowered. He was going all out as a result of his brief yet chilling stint of being cut off from his power, and it showed. Every blow came with what felt like the force of ten men, and with the speed of a serpent’s strike to boot. In an instant, the sloppy scuffle between the scruffy haired mercenary and his disillusioned employer had turned into an all out battle of two against one, as the Caldera now hesitantly acted in tandem with his improvised ally to tear apart the glyph covered fiend. In that moment, it felt as if they both knew exactly what they needed to accomplish, and neither needed to speak nor plan or even signal their moves to one another, for it all simply flowed like instinct. Ramsey needed to die… then the two of them could figure out who would join him next later

With their assaults now combined, Ramsey was suddenly on the defensive, forced to retreat with every step lest he fall victim to one of Elias’s monstrous blows, or the sellsword’s which followed. Ramsey however was no greenhorn, and with his years of experience came a level of competency and skill that allowed him to go toe to toe with even the toughest bastards around the world. That… and the old had more than a few tricks up his sleeve.

As Elias’s attacks in particular pressed into him, something was beginning to change, and the mage could feel it. Ramsey, instead of tripping over himself trying to dodge and deflect all the blows coming his way, was somehow getting faster, his strikes stronger, his footing more steady…

He was using the flux.

No, worse than that, he was using Elias’s flux!

In hindsight, the mage should have realized then something was off. He should have noticed how the runes on Ramsey’s arms had begun to faintly glow beneath the dirt and grime that covered his skin. How the man was growing more and more powerful with each blow they traded, as if each time they’d made contact, the assassin was draining a part of his magic into himself… He had should have seen the signs, should have put it all together, but in his pain and fury, they had gone unnoticed, and for it, Elias would pay.

All it took was one good counter before Elias’s had lost his balance, and suddenly the tide had shifted almost as quickly as it had come. Before he knew it, the stryfer was on the retreat, and this war of blurred fists and snarls was a defensive one for him now. Ramsey now wielded the mage’s power as his own, harnessing the flux in his own tattooed fists and doing a good damn job of making Elias regret his mistakes. That said, the Caldera was not one to back down to a challenge, and so back and forth the combat went from that point on, brutal, bloody, and ever evolving, with lines shifting and being crossed faster than they could be drawn. One minute Elias was on the receiving end of a crippling combo, trying to conjure up in his head every lesson on close quarters combat he’d ever been taught just to stay alive, only for the momentum to shift once more, and suddenly the other merc became Ramsey’s focus, threatening to overwhelm him.

The whole thing became a chaotic, maddening whirlwind of fists, one fueled by rage and vengeful desperation and only brought to an end when Elias, glistening with sweat and finally beginning to show signs of slowing, made his move to end the fight once and for all. The fight had taken the three men deeper into the warehouse’s interior, where the stacked goods reached nearly to the ceiling in towering spires, creating narrow corridors that trailed off in every direction. It was a complex and tightly packed maze of grain, leather, ore and countless other goods all sitting idle in old crates and growing moldy until the day they were meant to be shipped out to whatever destination awaited. The swordsman had other plans for them however, and they became apparent as he ducked away from combat, seemingly abandoning the scruffy merc to Ram’s mercy. Instead of running however, Elias reached out for one of the nearby stacks of crates and yanked hard on the corner of the box that served as its support. With a loud and ominous groan of cracking lumber, the entire tower suddenly came crashing down, spraying splinters of shattered wood and rolls of linen down upon the two men who’d come to take his life, forcing them to either scramble out of the way or risk being crushed by the mountain bearing down from above.

If the sellsword, the one who’d for whatever foolish reason had decided to betray his benefactor and take things into his own hands, thought that because they may have shared a common enemy at the time that Elias would be so quick to forgive him, well, there was his answer. The Caldera cared not if one or both of the bastard were flattened by the collapse, only that his problems that night were at least halved.

In the aftermath, a cloud of stifling dust filled the air, hanging heavy and moist like a blanket across the entire building. Having barely avoided the crash himself, the scarred stryfer was still rising from where he’d fallen in his hasty scramble to escape when he noticed movement from within the wreckage. A tick later, and with a gasp and a groan, Ramsey came bursting out of the pile, bloodied and half buried in the hill of refuse. Elias couldn’t see any sign of the other one, and the mage figured he was likely swallowed whole by the collapse, killed, or at least wishing he was dead somewhere deeper in.

Good he thought. That takes care of that.

Elias couldn’t help but smile as he began to make his way over to the groggy sellsword struggling just to regain his breath, let alone free his legs which were still pinned. His struggling came to an abrupt end as he noticed the well worn boots of his mark coming to a stop just in front of him.

With a contemptuous sigh, Ramsey craned his neck and turned his hazy gaze upward to meet the cold blue eyes looking back down at him.

“I believe this is yours.” Elias said, the crossbow bolt from earlier casually twirling in his grip. Without another word, he swung, brining it down hard upon the assassin’s unsuspecting head with a resounding crunch.
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Ebonstryfe | Ravok | Codex | Black Sun

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Elias Caldera
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