Culture Clash

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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]

Culture Clash

Postby Ruvya on September 4th, 2018, 8:38 pm

33 Fall 518
3 bells, Tarsin's Boarding House


       The air vibrated, tense, electric. As if Zulrav paced in the Great Above, His ire barely kept at bay and threatening to rumble. Ruvya felt it the moment she had awoken with a start from her restless slumber. Her chest rose and fell, rapidly as her breaths drew haggard through her gritted teeth. As she sat up, her legs became entangled in the blankets of her bed. Her wide gaze flickered from shadow to shadow, dappled across the sparse wooden boarding room as Syna's light drifted in through the curtains, half-pulled across the window overlooking the canals of Ravok. Sweat glistened across her brow and her collar bones, while gooseflesh prickled along her arms as the shriek of a horse rattled in her thoughts—

      THUMP
     THUMP
      THUMP


    —a knock at her bedroom door startled the drykas, who looked up at the unassuming, worn wood with furrowed brows and a pereplexed frown etching into her tattooed features. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.

    "Ruv-y-a...Nighthoof," Called a masculine voice—the hesitancy and rhythm with which he called her name indicative that the man perhaps had papers in his hands from which he had read her foreign name—"Open this door at once." The drykas was too confused for a tick to move at all, staring dumbly at the door as if it might turn transparent and show her who the heck was knocking on her door this morning. Nicolo had put her onto night shifts; she wasn't due to start working the ravosala until later that evening so it could not have been the ravosalaman looking her.

    THUMP
     THUMP


  The knocking came more insisting this time, as did the man's voice from behind the door. "Miss Nighthoof, open the door by order of the Ebonstryfe." He sounded young. Is all the drykas thought—though she did make herself move as the heaviness of sleep ebbed from her long limbs. The drykas dragged on leather leggings and a linen blouse, which were draped over the back of a chair by a desk leaning against the wall to her left, as she cast wary glances to the door opposite the foot of her bed.

    "Miss Nighthoof, I order—" The soldier began his growling.
    "Yes, yes, I come!—" The drykas growled back, muttering something under her breath in pavi as she reached for her weapon harness.

    Leather creaked and buckles clanged lightly as she strapped on her weapon harness. Ruvya heard the soldier waiting impatiently outside audibly huff and a satisfied smile licked the last of her sleepiness away at that. Nerves fluttered in her gut as she strode over to the door and the heavy steel of the kopis swinging from her hip reassured her. Tossing her long, tangled black tresses over her shoulder, Ruvya took a deep breath, before unlatching the heavy iron bolt that had kept the Ebonstryfe soldier at bay in the empty hallway of the boarding house.

        "Yes, what you want?" Her accent was thick with pavi and there was an expectant tension in the lean of her shoulders. Ruvya was inwardly, childishly pleased to find that she was at least two inches taller than the soldier. All dark hair, wiry muscle, copper skin and stark black tattoos, the drykas met the soldier's stare. The bewilderment tinging his expression lightly settled her nerves too.

   Arching a brow—which was shaven and tattooed in place with dashed black lines—the drykas asked boldly, "Who is...Ebon Stryfe?"


▿ ▿ ▿


19 Bells
The Spot Tavern


      "You are sure you have your papers with you?" The portly Nicolo was hunched over his flagon of ale peering at Ruvya intently from under a pair of thick, dark brows. A fatherly look of concern was tugged over his face, which made the drykas sitting across from him groan and roll her eyes in exasperation as she replied to his question for the upmteenth time. "Yes, I have all day and all night. I not forget."

            Nicolo raised a brow and gave her a look, which the drykas was quickly learning to mean Nicolo either didn't trust nor believe her. She sighed, and slid a hand down her blouse, at which point Nicolo looked abashedly elsewhere and sipped on his ale until Ruvya waved a lightly scrumpled sheet of paper under the thick bottom of his glass.

        "You say 'keep at all times, authorities ask, you show, make no trouble', so I do as you say." (Sure, she was paraphrasing, Ruvya's grasp on common was not as fluid as she would have liked). Nicolo glanced briefly at the document and waved it away, seeming satisfied. "And you haven't gone and caused any trouble?" He growled.

    The drykas' jaw clenched unconsciously, geometrical tattoos pinching lightly over her dimples, as she looked Nicolo in the eye, straightened her back and took a long, deep breath, before replying. "No, I not cause trouble. Nic, I work for you for many moon now, I do good and learn many thing about driving ravosala. I always do you say."

      A flicker of guilt danced in Nicolo's red flushed face then, and he eased up considerably as he made amends, "Ack I know, love, I know you do. I just have to ask, to be sure, you know how it is." That tiny, perceptible flicker of guilt was not lost on the young drykas. As Ruvya folded up her document neatly and carefully stowed it under her blouse between her linen wrap and her breast, a smile tugged its way into her features and a twinkled sparked in her eye. She nodded, "I understand, I am walahk in Ravok."

            Nicolo shrugged his shoulders with a grunt. Setting his glass down onto the gnarled, worn old table, he fixed his gaze onto his young employee and explained gently in a hushed voice, "It's just that the ebonstryfe don't just go searching anyone, you know. They leave that sort of thing to the city guard. The ebonstryfe deal with more serious matters." Ruvya shifted uncomfortably against the hard wooden bench she sat on. Worry sunk into her belly like a stone. Nicolo's gaze turned to wandering the tavern patrons.

     It was a fairly busy evening in The Spot. Ruvya had discovered that the place was a fairly popular place with the ravosalamen for food and ale between their shifts ferrying the citizens of Ravok up and down the winding canal-streets. It made sense since it was the closest tavern to the headquarters of Nicolo's ravosalas.

     The tavern was a little run-down—the floorboards were warped every few steps, the air was thick with wood smoke and the fragrance of week-old drink and mouldy cheese, which mingled with the clamy, sweaty odour of the patrons. It had a warm atmosphere though, Ruvya had found. The patrons drank all day and all night long until some unfelt force called them to their beds in wherever they called home, or they drunk themselves into a stupor.

     It had astounded and disgusted the drykas to equal measure, at first, seeing men drink their days away. Where she came from such things were frowned upon. Life was harsh in the wild plains, there was not enough bells in the day to waste good working hands on holding drink all day long. The ravosalamen that had brought her to the tavern on her first trip had explained to her that these men were seeking work, and that is why they drank. Ruvya had scoffed and pointed out that a tavern was a terrible place to find work. It was her view these men needed to put themselves across the lake and to the forest, where the threat of wolves would liven their wits, and a bow in their hands would do better than a drink.

        "Mayhap it is something to do with the deplorables..." Nicolo's hushed voice drew the drykas out of her worried reverie, where she returned her gaze to his and saw serious concern etched between his brows. The drykas didn't know what to say to his suggestion. "You haven't been near any of the foreign folk, have ye?" He proded, head jerking to an odd little man with dark, greasy hair and a hooked nose sitting crouched over the bar to their left. He was a known rat kelvic, Ruvya had been told—a deplorable.

        Ruvya shook her head sharply, silently. After the killing of one deplorable and the de-horning of another in the plaza last season, the drykas had been deathly frightened to keep company with anyone but fellow ravosalamen and Tarsin at the boarding house she was staying. Nicolo's gaze flickered—from her worried frown over the silver ring piercing her nose between her nostrils and the tattoos edging her face, to the intricate braids she had woven into her long black hair—skeptically. Meanwhile Ruvya took a drink of the mead in her glass, glad for the sweet, warming gold liquid as it seeped into her bones and loosened the knots that had begun to tangle in her stomach the more she considered Nicolo's line of query—why would this Ebonstryfe have interest in her?


    I am walahk, kuhama;
        no one.


            " well, maybe it's nothing..."

      Ruvya stirred from the shadows that had seeped into her thoughts as Nicolo broke the chimes of quiet that had settled over them thickly. "There's been that murder. I'm sure that's all it is. They'll be checking all recent visitors, I'm sure. Purely routine as part of their investigations." When the drykas lifted her gaze from the bottom of her glass to find the ravolsaman, he seemed to have perked up considerably with this turn in his thoughts. Her inked brows furrowed tightly as her gaze flickered between the ravosalaman's eyes, wishing she felt the same positivity he did.

    "But Nic..." Ruvya hesitated, something in her gut coiling as she wondered just how much trust to put in her employer. They're following me. She wanted to say it, willed herself to say it...but her fear lingered on her lips and she could not speak it aloud. Admitting fear was not the drykas way, nor could she be sure that Nicolo would keep her on in his employment if he thought she was getting tangled up with Ravok law.

      Nicolo cupped his hands around hers and squeezed reassuringly, "It'll pass once they've caught the Syliran bastard." Ruvya nodded, returning his smile meekly. Sternly she tried to let his reassuring warmth sink into her.

      It was true—a soldier had turned up dead just a few days ago. It was understandable that they question any foreigners. The Watch back home would do the same. Slowly, she nodded, and smiled gently at Nicolo. She had travelled to Ravok through Syliras in the last two seasons, had stayed in the Great City of Order for a while, and the Syliran Knights had sent a few of their armoured warriors to Endrykas to improve relations between the nomads and the city. That had to be it—the cause for their suspicion of her. They would soon find it unwarranted...wouldn't they?

            Nicolo cleared his throat, "right, better be off," and downed the last of his ale, "Ravok's ravosalas ain't going to run smoothly themselves, eh. I will see you later—you're starting at eleven bells sharp." He reminded her with a stern look. Ruvya rolled her eyes at him and waved something in grass-sign that she was glad he barely noticed. "Yes, yes, eleven bells. I got it." Nicolo set down mizas for their drinks on the table. "Just this once. Don't tell the others." He warned, and Ruvya grinned.

     As the Drykas' gaze followed the ravosalaman as he left the tavern, though, her grin faded and her worry knotted in her gut. Anxiety roiling in her thoughts, the drykas peered around the tavern for her watcher. Every few ticks her gaze was drawn to a pale Ravokian garbed all in black. The drykas lifted her glass to take a sip and studied him for a few short ticks at a time, trying to get a look at his face. Trying to discern if he was...Ebonstryfe.

         A shiver raked her,
         raising gooseflesh
              along her copper-toned arms.
    You're being ridiculous she chastised herself.
      "Just a man, at a tavern."


           And I am no one.
Last edited by Ruvya on November 27th, 2018, 10:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Culture Clash

Postby Elias Caldera on September 17th, 2018, 1:42 am

Image
Gloved fingers drummed idly along the edge of his mug as the soldier struggled to suppress yet another yawn. The acrid ale shimmered and shook under his touch as the stryfer studied it, wandering if he was brave enough to attempt a second swig. The first had nearly cost him both his composure and his lunch, but by the grace of Rhysol and a strong stomach, he had persevered.

It seemed despite his best efforts, Bohir -the Spot’s infamous patron and owner- hadn’t failed to notice his subtle entry into the dingy tavern, nor had the scrupulous bastard missed an opportunity to leave Elias a little ‘gift’ in his absentmindedly ordered ale. If the soldier was a betting man, he’d have put his money on healthy helping of piss… or worse, but truth be told, he couldn’t bring himself to be all that mad at the poor barkeep. It wasn’t as if the last time the two of them had exchanged words it had ended particularly cordial.

The Caldera grinned without merriment as he continued to toy with the mug. That’s putting it mildly he mused as he casually took his gaze from the drink and instead cast it across the room. Sitting in the faint shadows of the tavern’s darker corners sat the man who’d brought him here that late night. Shrouded in thick cloak and pretense, he sat alone, pretending to nurse a drink of his own much like Elias. Unlike Elias however, the other man carried himself with all the poise and inconspicuousness of a child playing hide and seek while their parents feigned confusion even as their legs stuck out from behind the curtains. There were a far less stifled giggles and a lot more bitter and barely hidden grimaces, but the analogy was mostly sound.

Harren Thrask was a man clearly out of his element, for every dour look he gave and agitated movement he made rang clarion with a level of unease and uncertainty that was hard to mistake. Perhaps, as an aurist, Elias had an unfair advantage when it came to recognizing such things most would consider subtle or nuanced, but even so, the man was clearly an amateur. Whether it was at concealing himself in obscurity, or just going out for a drink altogether, Thrask made it plain to anyone with an eye for these things he was man on a mission. Just what exactly that mission was however, still eluded to pale sneak, but Elias had learned the grace of patience and its benefits, and so he would wait, and he would watch, for tonight the long hours and vile drinks were worth it, for he too was on a mission.

The swordsman settled into his seat, intent on growing as comfortable as possible while also making sure to carefully avert his lingering eyes lest they go noticed. It did raise the question once more though; what was Thrask doing here? What had been so important enough to drag a man like that into a place like these when the two clearly did not mix? From everything he’d heard about the stout soldier, he was as perplexingly straight laced as they came; he did not smoke, he did not whore, he didn’t even bloody drink, as evident by the untouched head of froth on his all but forgotten beer. He was a veritable island of chasteness and conviction in a city that toyed and devoured such principles with ravenous appetite. That had all been the case until recently of course. The man’s sudden and abrupt shift in demeanor as of late had not gone unnoticed by those who considered him an ally, and more importantly, those that did not.

The stryfer dared another glance over the flickering candle that waxed and waned at the center of his creaking table in the corner. What are you up to, Thrask? He pondered quietly, studying the older warrior’s gaze. Suddenly, something changed and Thrask went rigid, as if caught off guard. Elias too reacted, harsh cold orbs flying across the room, scanning the stale, smoke filled drinking hall for any clue of what had triggered the man to such a state. It didn’t take long to locate the source.

It had come in the form of a young and beautiful woman, as was often the case with anything that could make men stir so. Even in the dim and dying light of the Spot’s alchemical lanterns, the Caldera was able to make out much about the stranger. She was surprisingly youthful, perhaps too much so to be found in a place as seedy as this. Her skin, kissed by the sun, looked as if it had been dipped wholly in ink, for not an inch of her that he could see was not covered in tattoos. From the tips of her fingers to very contours of her exotic face, no part of her had been spared the needle, and to say Elias was not immediately enthralled would have been a bold faced lie. He had never seen a body made into a canvas of art in such a way, and something told there was far more lying just beneath the humble restraints of her plain and common attire. There was more to see, but no time for such indulgences. She was moving, rising from her table and making for the exit. In turn, so was Thrask.

He was following her, and now finally Elias had an answer to his question. Unfortunately, it only served to raise three more in its absence. Who was this girl, and what did the ebonstryfe want with her? More importantly, what did Thrask want with her? He seemed fixated, almost desperate. That was dangerous in men like him, and Elias knew he would have to be careful. With a sigh, the swordsman began to move, readying himself to reengage the pursuit. He’d been tailing Thrask for bells now, and something told him if he was just a little bit more patient he’d have all the answers he wanted and more.

Then, at last, he’d be ready to strike.

With another preoccupied swig of his drink which he regretted almost immediately, Elias rose from his seat and followed from the shadows, making a point not to pay a single miza before he left.


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Culture Clash

Postby Ruvya on November 15th, 2018, 10:49 pm

        " why follow..."
        The drykas growled.

    The flicker of candlelight from a silent balcony above casting shadows on the tall and imposing soldier the nineteen-year old had rounded on at the corner of a building. While the pavi butchering her common leant her some menace, as did the starkness of the ink black against her skin, and though she was relatively tall, there was the marked tremor of inexperience in the softness of her lips and the uncertainty of her eyes.

    It had taken her a quarter of a bell to realise she was being followed after leaving the tavern. Even then, unaccustomed to holding suspicion whilst traipsing about a city, the young drykas had no idea how to respond to the realisation. Ten long and tense chimes slipped past as the drykas quickened her step, boots clunking echoic in the night, uncomfortably lonely, as her heart skittered and her paranoia ran wild in her veins.

    Mistakenly, the drykas had thought she could shake the stalker, by taking herself off her usual beaten track from the tavern to her bed in Tarsin's Boarding House. Ruvya turned down random streets, wherever her gaze saw a pathway over bridges, twisting and turning back on her route, until she tread into narrower board-ways skirting canals barely wide enough for a ravosala to glide down, where she stepped across to the buildings opposite with as little grace as a doe on ice.

    It had taken another ten chimes acting the hare to the wolf before she grew panicked enough to do something about her paranoia. So this is how she was, having decided on the bold—reckless—stance she emanated now. Chin down, hiding her totally black-inked throat, brows drawn together, jaw set in determination, shoulders pulled back like the hackles of a wild thing, and a stare with as much challenge as she could muster into a face as unscathed by confrontation as hers.

    "I seen you. Why do you follow? I do no thing bad." Know now, demand, vexed. As her hands wound these grass-signs in the cool night air between her and the soldier, it was then Ruvya noticed suddenly how very much bigger the stranger was to her.

    Her fingers itched for the comforting grip of her kopis, yet she wasn't so convinced by her poor imitation of courage as to reach for the blade strapped to her hip. Mettle was the vibe she was hoping to emanate, not stupidity. Though, even as her demanding questions fell dimly onto the tense night air, her confidence wobbled slightly. Ruvya resisted the urge to make bigger the slither of distance she had purposefully put between her and her stalker in a bid to appear more intimidating, though she trembled at it.
 


I'm sorry this is so short, lacking & SO very late! I promise I'll do my best to inject more oomff into my posts to make up for it, if you're willing to keep going with me~
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Culture Clash

Postby Elias Caldera on November 20th, 2018, 9:12 pm

Image
Elias was a man who enjoyed surprises about as much as any other. The unknown brought a distinct spice to life that too few cared to indulge in, and usually for good reason. ‘In all things moderation,’ that was his principle on that matter, even if he rarely ever followed it. What he could not abide by however, and what he despised with a rancorous passion, was when such surprises made of a fool out of him as all too often did. So to describe his humors as ill-tempered and bleak in the wake of the Drykas’s unexpected stand and his subsequent flinch that followed, would have been putting it mildly.

So too was calling it merely a ‘flinch.’ Elias had barely been able to restrain himself from jumping out of his own boots at the sight of the girl. Her dark and inky skin made her appear more a shadow in the night than a woman of flesh and blood. Dark eyes and an even darker disposition only served to make her abrupt appearance all the more unsettling… and this was coming from a man who’d stared death and Dira in the face more times than he could count.

Like a cornered beast she’d snarled something at him, her accent thick and alien, her words choppy and unfamiliar to the tongue that still managed to lash them out with such venom. It would have done a fine job of hiding the trepidation in her voice had it been anyone other than Elias who’d been listening. It was in fact that taste of fear in the air that stilled his hand. He’d almost gone for his dagger before he realized all the fumbling and alien gestures of her fingers wasn’t some ill-fated attempt to reach for the nasty looking weapon at her. He thought he even recognized some of it, but from where he couldn't say. All that mattered however was the the signs her hands made as she spoke were just that, and the oddly curved blade still lay unattended at her side. A wise decision, he granted, especially given the circumstances. Most people didn’t have the wherewithal to realize when a sword’s presence could be more poignant in its sheath than in one’s hand. It showed patience and brain behind all that exotic beauty… that or the girl was just a very bad judge of character.

He didn’t answer at first, partly because he required an extra tick to decipher her threatening demands, but mostly because he was looking. Looking for the one he’d been following.

Nearly half a bell of skipping down dark alleys and darting across canal crossings had left the pale swordsman restless and annoyed. He’d been trailing Thrask, who in turn had been trailing this one, for what felt like forever now. He’d followed the man as closely as he dared, but as the girl’s pace had quickened and grown panicked, so to had the other stryfer’s. At first he’d thought himself discovered, and a small sense of frustration mingled with the anxiety within to create a noxious concoction in the pit of his stomach. This was not a task he could afford to fail, nor one he intended to jeopardize with something so amateurish as being caught snooping. Like a fool, he’d gone charging in after the man, rounding corners and ducking down shadowy inlets in a desperate bid to catch him before he escaped. He’d turned down one last alley, assured he’d finally cleared the distance and eager to end the chase, only to find this spirited outlander challenging his next steps instead.

Not his target, but his target’s target… great.

How in the world had he-… Where the petch did he-?!

Oh, damn.” The Ravokian sighed under his breath as the answer to his unvoiced questions soon surfaced.

Easy now.” He warned, raising a hand up to the Drykas girl. Slowly, his other hand began to drift to the hilt of his sword resting just over his shoulder, his stance falling low and poised like that of a warrior’s. If she knew how to use that sword at her hip, then she'd recognize how one positioned their footing when they intended to use it. “We’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, I fear.” He conceded apprehensively. He took a measured step to the left, slow and practiced, making sure he had room to draw his sword within the tight and dank confines he now found himself in. Despite whatever the girl’s reaction to him seemed to be however, Elias continued maneuvering himself cautiously as if preparing to strike at her despite the words of reassurance that poured from his serpent tongue.

I mean you no harm this night, brother.” Finally, the words had lost all pretense of sense, and it was at this point the woman would likely notice Elias wasn’t looking at her when he spoke, but instead over her shoulder at the man in her shadow.

That makes one of us, brother." Came a hard and gravely voice from the other end of the alley. Behind the girl, the glint of exposed steel glimmered in the night as Leth’s light caught the longsword’s edge.

Harren Thrask stepped out from the shadows he’d been lurking in, and the look in his eyes as they fell upon Elias was not the kind that inspired hope of a meaningful conversation. The Caldera cursed himself for a fool. He’d underestimated the man, thought him a simpleton in such matters as stealth and subterfuge. He’d done the same thing for the tattooed young woman, and now all three of them had found themselves in a particularly alarming stand off on what was meant to have been a quiet and easy night. As the two locked eyes, he found himself remembering his master’s warnings. ‘Thrask is a swordsman without equal, and with a temper to match.’ The one eyed paladin had told him ‘Don’t give him reason to raise his ire, and don’t give him reason to draw his sword.

It was truly incredible how he had managed to petch up both of those simple instructions so quickly.

Elias licked his lips nervously, working up the right words to say that could possibly defuse this situation. Before he had a chance however, Thrask spoke first. “Who sent you, boy?” He growled, tenor like sandpaper on the ears. His voice was naught but gravel and grit, matching his less than sunny demeanor about as well as that sword did in his hand. “Was it Zatalia? Come to claim with assassination and deception what honest combat could not award her? Well you tell my second she’s not taking command from me without a fight.

The Caldera hesitated, gaze drifting back and forth between Thrask and the Drykas that stood between them. He could only imagine what the girl was thinking now. It didn’t seem like she played a part in any of this, at least not by her reactions, but whether she liked it or not, she was now stuck in the middle of quarrel that could at any moment turn bloody. She had become both a bulwark and a bargaining chip between the two of them, and neither could afford to allow her to leave just yet.

Or was it Paladin Mythra who tasked such a bumbling novice with my demise? Her paranoia has driven the old witch mad. She’s believes everyone out to get her, even her closest confidants. She’ll turn on you too one day, mark my words!” Harren growled, shifting his stance. Elias mimicked it out of instinct, recognizing the posture from his years of Ebonstryfe training.

You seem to burdened by a great deal of trouble, Commander. Particularly with women, I’m noting.” The pale mage answered carefully. “You should be relieved to know then that my master is one; a man, and two, a well meaning friend of yours.

Your master?” Harren snarled, adjusting his posture once more.

Malachai Quinn.” Elias declared, a hint of pride in his tone.

Harren spat. “Malachai Quinn is dead, or wishing he was at the bottom of some Black Sun torture chamber. If you’re going to try and deceive someone boy, at least do your homework first.

Don’t call me boy again, and he was released. We both were.” Elias shot back, hand still hovering on sword hilt. “He’s been pardoned his crimes and reinstated within Rhysol’s ranks. Absolved and returned to the flock, he’s calling on old friends again. Your name was first on his list.” Elias lied. Thrask wrinkled his noise as if he smelt the duplicity on the wind.

We weren’t friends then, and we certainty aren't friends now. Girl,” The tempo suddenly shifted and now the grizzled commander was addressing the Drykas woman he’d followed from the tavern. “Come to me,” he ordered, hand outstretched impatiently. “I shall protect you from this stalker and see you safely home.

Elias’s cold blue eyes began to twitch.

Ah,” he snapped, drawing his blade’s length an inch or two further out of its sheath, “I like her exactly where she is. Stay where you are, madam.

Ruvya, come to me.” Harren barked again, boots scraping against the hard cobblestone floor of the alley. He was readying himself for a charge, Elias didn’t need his auristics to tell him that. What he did need it for, and what he had discovered using it however, was that the power of the Flux flowed through the entirety of Harren’s body as swift and smoothly as blood pumped through his veins. He’d rarely ever seen such measured and practiced control of the enhancement magic before, and now realized why Malachai had warned him to be careful. This man was mage on par with even Elias skills, if not greater. Now more than ever, he could not afford the girl to move. The moment she did and the alleyway opened up to either of them, this fight he did not want would be on in an instant, and his opponent would have the clear advantage in the fierce melee that was sure to follow.

He needed an edge, something that could assure him just another tick or two to spare him this conflict, or if things truly came down to it, a moment to infuse his hypnotism into just the right words to charm Harren out of his current state of bloodlust and mania.

The flux now flowed through Elias as well as he readied himself. Dragged from the core of his being and ushered into his limbs like the rivers let loose by the shattering of a dam, the power coursed through his body and filled the stryfer with a wondrous exhilaration that was hard to describe. This wasn’t the time to indulge however, now was the time for action.

His eyes dared to leave Thrask’s for just an instant and soon settled on Ruyva. There had to be a reason he’d come for her. There had to be a reason he cared. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter right now. Elias just needed to make sure he didn’t end up gutted in this alley over a mission of petching peace.

Of all the people to send, Malachai chose him for this.

Without another thought, he lunged forward, and with speed beyond anything that of a mortal man could compare to he hurtled down the narrow passage with blinding swiftness.

His target… not Thrask, but the one he had called ‘Ruyva.’


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Last edited by Elias Caldera on December 3rd, 2018, 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Culture Clash

Postby Ruvya on November 29th, 2018, 12:47 am

    " easy now."

Ruvya heard the hush, the gentle, if firm, warning buried in the stranger's voice. His haunches were raised, as hers, his hands held up to stay her. As if I am a wild strider. The drykas thought, narrowing her eyes at him. "We've gotten off on the wrong foot, I fear." He said, and his words were slick, like honey.

        Yet the soldier's subtle shifts in posture, his readiness, wasn't lost on the drykas. As he stepped to the left, the nomad's gaze darted to his sword, and the nine-teen-year-old naturally reflected his measured paces, breathing space in between them, grass-sign falling deaf in her hands as her fingers itched, uncertain, nearer her kopis. As the nine-teen-year old took in the scars mirring the Pale's face she felt a thrill of fear tremble through her.

    "I mean you no harm this night, brother."
    "That makes one of us, brother."

        Thrask's hard and gravely voice startled her. The drykas whipped round to see the cold glint of the longsword flash under the night's silvery light. “Who sent you boy? Was it Zatalia? Come to claim with assassination and deception what honest combat could not award her? Well you tell my second she’s not taking command from me without a fight.” Though the drykas did not understand all of what he said, Harren's accusations struck the drykas with pristine clarity, as did the way both men addressed one another with ties of familiarity.

    Ruvya looked round on Elias, intrigue and, somehow a judgemental scrutiny, danced amid her tattoos. Like a nosy child at a grown-ups table, listening, curious, uncertain what exactly was going on, but hooked nonetheless. The Pale One lick his lips nervously. He is afraid to tangle with the Big One. The drykas thought, and wondered, with an uncomfortable knot coiling in her gut, if that was a good sign or bad for her.

    “Or was it Paladin Mythra who tasked such a bumbling novice with my demise? Her paranoia has driven the old witch mad. She’s believes everyone out to get her, even her closest confidants. She’ll turn on you too one day, mark my words!” Harren's growl returned, scars laid deep into his brow, shoulders broad and decked in steel and fur. Taking in the commander, Ruvya was reminded of a snarling bear.

    “You seem to burdened by a great deal of trouble, Commander. Particularly with women, I’m noting.You should be relieved to know then that my master is one; a man, and two, a well meaning friend of yours.”

    As the Ravokians bickered back and forth—like old wives Ruvya snorted inwardly—the drykas realised, so long as The Bear and Pale Serpent were snarling and hissing at each other, she was not part of their quarrel. Her gaze roamed the alleyway, cautiously. Seeking a way out.

        “Your master?” Harren snarled.
        “Malachai Quinn.”
                   Harren spat.

    Ruvya's gaze danced to Thrask. Anything that riled him filled her with cold concern. He looked ready to charge at the lightest of prods. "Malachai Quinn is dead, or wishing he was at the bottom of some Black Sun torture chamber. If you’re going to try and deceive someone boy, at least do your homework first."

            “Don’t call me boy again,"
Ruvya all but rolled her eyes. This was ridiculous.

    Why were these men bent on fighting, here, now, if only she could slip away, somehow, while they were preoccupied with each other and not with her, "and he was released. We both were.” The drykas peered at Elias again, curiosity ebbing in despite herself. “We weren’t friends then, and we certainty aren't friends now." She couldn't help wonder what the Pale One had done to The Bear to warrant his ire,

            Girl—” The luxury of being forgotten was ripped away abruptly. Ruvya's breath hitched. “Come to me. I shall protect you from this stalker and see you safely home.” Ruvya recognised the promise of protection; though, she liked the growling authority it was offered with even less than she had liked The Pale One's' placating hush. Her pride bristled at it.

    The Bear of a man was a commander, so she gathered, meanwhile The Pale One behind her had been locked up with this, Malachai, at some time. Seeing the Ravokians in this light made the commander an appealing ally, so the drykas inched down the alley towards Thrask a step.

    “Ah, I like her exactly where she is. Stay where you are, madam.” Ruvya heard The Pale One snap from behind her. She halted, sensing the tension thicken suddenly in the air like the gathering of dark clouds. Not like the bickering before, no, something else was brewing now. A prickle swept down her spine. In the corner of her gaze the glint of steel flickered in Leth's glow, and she heard the familiar scrape of metal against sheath. Her heart skittered and the drykas turned to see Elias' coil like a serpent about to strike.

        The battle of pride was over.
        The war of words replaced with the threat of steel.

  Ruvya felt the tension c r a c k l e.

  “Ruvya, come to me.” Harren barked.  Her heart s k i t t e r e d. Suddenly she was five years old and facing down Father's wrath after painting the pavilion walls in red clay. It froze her boots to the boards beneath.

    They charged.    Ruvya cried out.

        Fingers itching then for her blade grasped now a silver cuff bracelet that hung on the leather thong by the blade. It slipped onto her wrist, smooth as water, and enveloped her in its shrouding magic. Just like that, the inked drykas vanished—blending into the alley. A bystander of little note, one whose face was so plain and ordinary it would not stick in one's mind, nor whose presence one could wholly focus on without struggle of will. If they tried, they would see her for a tick, and then their perspective would s h i f t, as if thick glass obscured their vision.

    As she slipped on the bracelet and slipped out of focus, the nine-teen-year-old staggered back. As she did instinct drove her to toss out her right arm, bracing against Elias' who had been closest, when—S N A P—her wrist connected with his breast. Shock tore a cry from Ruvya—before a sharp pain rushed in.

    The drykas cradled her broken wrist against her bosom, as she retreated from the soldier, whimpering as she did. Every tremble sent shooting pain up her forearm and put a grimace amid her features.The foreigner's panic sunk in as she lifted her gaze to Elias, standing so, so close, and flickered frantically to Thrask to see where he was.

    The drykas caught the sharp flash of steel in the blurred periphery of her wide-eyed panic. Something deep and unconcious tugged on the drykas' instincts. The inked woman saw her escape. She lunged forward, ducking under the reach of Thrask's longsword. Ruvya shoved into Thrask with all her might, putting Elias out of the way of his blade in doing so, and tore past him into the chill night of the alley.

        Lo,
               she didn't run.

    She hesitated. A flicker of curiosity so hot it licked through her panic and lent her courage. If she didn't ask now, she would never know...

        Ruvya turned, panting hard, gooseflesh raised along her arms as a smarter part of her begged her to run, and rounded on Thrask. "You know my name." Her pavi-thick common held the tone of demand, though she posed no question. The drykas caressed the bracelet on her wrist, comforted by its magic as she stood there in the middle of the alley, Leth's light glinting off the cheap-looking trinket.
 
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Postby Elias Caldera on December 6th, 2018, 4:13 am

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Elias watched -with no small amount of shock and dismay- as the Drykas girl he’d been rushing towards... vanished before his very eyes.

No, ‘vanished’ was the wrong word for it. It was as if she’d simply faded from his vision, like the details of a dream upon awakening. One moment she was there, standing before him as vivid and real as his own flesh, the next, she was a ghost, barely a fleeting memory on the periphery of his concerns. The more he tried to grasp at the thought of her, the further her face seemed to slip from his mind’s fumbling reach.

Unfortunately for Elias, he had little time to make sense of any of it, for the ravosalawoman wasn’t the only thing he’d lost hold of. The clang and clatter of steel striking steel rent him back into a miserable reality, one no longer containing a convenient shield of tattooed innocence to protect him from the hurtling vortex of wrath and pride that was Harren Thrask. It took the man all of three ticks to knock the longsword from the Caldera’s hands, one masterfully balanced and precise swing disarming the flabbergasted stryfer as easily as an instructor would a fresh recruit on his first day of training. Watching the girl fade into the shadows of the night was one thing, but watching his sword do the same moments later was very much another. Elias didn’t think there was a word that could quite adequately describe just how equally horrifying and mortifying it all was to witness.

He balked at the absence of his blade in his hands, then he ducked, instinct guiding his body low and nearly prone as Thrask’s armored fist came careening through the air Elias’s face once occupied. The other commander growled, his intensity as intimidating as the sheer skill on display. Though dark, cramped, and altogether unsuited for such swordsmanship, Harren moved and angled himself with a level of proficiency and deadly focus that even the pale swordsman understood very likely outmatched his own. A point made all the more evident and undeniable by the fact that Harren actually had his weapon, while his opponent couldn’t even say where his was anymore.

Another swing came for the Ravokian, this one powered by the same surge of enhanced strength as the last. The blue-eyed soldier matched the obvious magic with his own, allowing the tidal wave of untapped power within to flow forth into the very essence of each limb. Limbs he fully intended to keep attached despite the best efforts of his impromptu foe.

Elias jerked to the side, narrowly avoiding another brutal attack clearly meant to incapacitate him, but never the less would have ruined his day. Harren didn’t seem so eager to slaughter him outright, which was awfully considerate, but not enough for the Caldera to dare lower his defenses. Another swipe aimed at his abdomen, this one short and preluded by a feint that nearly deceived the sorcerer right into an impaling. He avoided it thanks to his arcane enhancement, just as he did the next, but it was quickly becoming clear this was a losing battle. Harren was adapting, getting bolder, angrier, and all the while Elias was forced to retreat. When one was dueling for their life in a dingy little alleyway, the options for a proper escape were notably limited, and it wasn’t if Elias could turn the tables and fight back even if he wanted to. Harren was too good, too strong, and worse than that, even if he wasn’t, trying to convince a man you just bloodied you were actually on their side and just there to help grew exponentially more difficult the bloodier they were. And make no mistake, if either man truly meant the other harm and this bout escalated beyond the mere ‘disagreement’ it was now, then the only way this was going to end would be in blood. Elias needed a plan and he needed it soon or else-

Another feint! Petch! Harren was surging forward like a bull, only to stop suddenly and lash out with an unsuspecting kick. Distracted by what he should be doing instead of what he was doing, the boot landed its mark alongside his knee. Elias hissed through gritted teeth, felt his leg buckle, his body betray him! He tried to compensate, to fill the void of stability with his flux and regain his stance, but it was too late, he was falling.

His back hit the alleyway wall, collapsing against the moldy brick and mortar with a painful thud. Elias willed his body to move, demanded of his magic to aid him, but that’s when he saw it… the strike that was meant to end this fight.

Harren swung, the blade coming low and rising quickly from his waist. Its tip scraped against the boundaries of the alley, cutting a deep and defined swatch across the adjacent wall as it ascended towards its intended victim. It would have caught the stryfer across his chest and put an end to this unexpected duel in one bone shattering instant. Maybe his armor could stop it, maybe it would only prove a minor annoyance as the edge cleaved through him. There was no way to tell, and no choice but to react.

Elias raised his arms and braced himself.

Bang!

Steel met steel, and this time it was Harren’s turn to be surprised.

His blade hadn’t found the meat and bone he had expected, but instead the bladed pitfalls of Elias’s gauntlets. Gauntlets designed specifically to snap swords just like his.

The startled commander tried to yank his weapon free, recognizing the folly of his mistake, but Elias allowed him no such opportunity. He twisted both arms against the sword, and in turn twisted the bladed protrusions of his gauntlets, effectively snapping shut the jaws of his trap and locking its quarry in place. Harren moved to regain his edged tool -his bread and butter- but the weapon would not budge an inch. A well-designed snare and a flux filled pair of arms behind it proved too great a warden, even for the sword master. His blade was Elias’s now, for better or for worse.

Pressed against the wall as he was however, the pale soldier’s position was hardly an enviable one. He too was trapped, and as Thrask abandoned his attempts to retrieve his sword and instead began to push down upon it, Elias now suddenly found himself with a new dire predicament to deal with. His arms were out in front of him, set stalwart and vertically but wide apart from one another. As Harren forced himself and the horizontal length of his blade deeper against the gauntlets, it became apparent very quickly what he as attempting to do. The exposed edge of the blade that remained between the two gauntlets, while trapped, was still very much as sharp as ever. Positioned as they were, Harren could just as easily drive it against Elias’s exposed throat and open the younger man up like a stuck pig. All he needed was to overpower the mage, and just like that, the executioner would have his head.

You’ve got some… arghh… some petching trust issues, Commander!” Elias grunted in gruff exertion as the pitched and teeth aching creaking of metal on metal slowly became uncomfortable close.

You miserable cur. I don’t have time for this! You scared her off. You let her get away! I needed that girl and now everything is jeopardized!” Harren bellowed, spittle flying and rage coming close to its crescendo.

“You know my name.”

The words snapped both men’s shocked attentions unto the other end of the alley in an instant. Ruyva! She was back? Wait, when had she left? Was she even here to begin with? The bewilderment was as plain on Elias’s scarred countenance as it was Harren’s relieved one. The other man sighed, looking at the tattooed woman like he had just beheld the Voice of Rhysol herself. “Thank God.” He muttered, returning his vengeful focus on Elias all too soon. “Yes, I do. I know a great deal about you. Just… give me a moment to deal with ‘this,’ and then you and I can talk, Ruyva. In peace.

If you want her gone,” the Caldera gasped, his battle of brawn suddenly all the more dire and nearing its unwelcome conclusion, “I can deal with her for you. No trace, no questi-

Nope. That was the wrong tact to try. Harren’s efforts and his wrath doubled in response to the neighborly offer to dispose of the foreigner.

Okay. Elias groaned inwardly as he called upon his djed once more. Enough of this.

Hypnotism was not often his weapon of choice in the heat of combat. It was more a tool of subtle manipulation and indiscreet maneuvering from behind the safety of a curtain called anonymity. That said, to think of the magic as such and only as such was to limit its potential. Control and influence over another’s mind was invaluable, regardless of how delicate one wanted to be. It could either be wielded as a scalpel, precise and clean, or as a hammer, direct and to the point. He’d tried being diplomatic -He’d tried being Quinn- and all he got for it was a mess on his hands as vile as the alley he stood in. No more. Tonight, it seemed, was a night for hammers.

Gazes locked. A whisper breathed. Then without warning, Harren’s entire body seemed to be seized by some invisible hand. His eyes went wide and bulging, his muscles taught and strained. The serpent had struck and its fangs of corrupting djed had found their mark. Leaping from cold blue eyes and into it’s victims brain, now slithering beast of djed's venom coursed through the sword master’s mind unimpeded, claiming his faculties and his very thoughts.

Within the commander’s consciousness, Harren suffered under an unseen barrage of incessant, demanding, all consuming whispers and impulses, none of which were his own, yet all of which were. It was akin to setting his head aflame Elias imagined, everything came all at once, too much, too fast, and too loud. The result was a stupefied man, one who stumbled backward clutching at his head as if he'd taken a punch. All it took from Elias then was a mere shove to send Thrask toppling unto his hands and knees, sword fallen and all but forgotten at his side.

All you had to do was listen.” Elias grumbled, gloved hand rubbing at the small crimson cut upon his throat. “All you had to do was bloody listen... And you,” He growled, turning to Ruyva now “all you had to do was stand still… now look what you’ve made me done.

The hypnotists stared at Harren, the man who moments ago could have very nearly claimed his life now reduced to crawling like a babe upon the floor as his mind suffered the torment of illusions upon illusions. “No… please, my little-… no.

Elias snorted and released his hypnostic hold on the man. He had no sympathy for the son of a bitch, but his stores of djed were not endless, nor needed. He retrieved Harren’s sword from the ground and held it to the bastard’s throat, reversing their roles entirely now as the bearded Ebonstryfe officer struggled to regain his bearing. In the end, he slumped against the wall, choosing to sit and regard his victorious brother in arms rather than attempt to stand again.

You will tell me what-

Petch you.

You will tell me what all of this was over!” Elias snarled, ignoring the new globule of spit on his boots. “You will tell what has you so panicked, Commander. What has you so afraid? My master knows you are in danger, that your enemies move against you from the shadows, but knows not the specifics of your dilemma. That's why he sent me.

What did you do to me?

Answer me, Thrask! What is going on? Who is this girl!?” Elias barked, lifting the blade in the tattooed Drykas’s direction now as frustration took hold. “Who is she to you! Why do you pursue her?! Thrask!

Because shes the only one who can save Arissa!” The commander bellowed suddenly, catching even Elias off guard as the young soldier took a step back. Thrask no longer looked at the pale man however, for now he stared at Ruyva, Hazel eyes filled with desperation and despair.

Because she’s the only one who can save my daughter.
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