Solo Winner Takes All

There's Shady Business Afoot

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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]

Winner Takes All

Postby Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:15 pm

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2nd Day of Fall, 518


'Tonight?'” he croaked bitterly,

“I have to get it tonight?!”

Elias didn't necessarily mind a challenge, but it was already late, and he had only left the dead drop a few chimes ago. Just long enough to turn a couple of corners, find a blind spot, and unroll the parchment to read the instructions for his new task. The familiar penmanship of Olcott greeted him, as did the smell of freshly penned ink. This had been done hastily then. That wasn’t the Nitrozian way, and definitely not the old man’s. It was a thought that brought a chill to the Caldera’ spine and had his eyes nervously looking about his new dark retreat for other prying eyes aside from his own. When he finally felt certain no one else was there, he went back to scanning the letter.

Within, the instructions had mentioned a home in the docks district, one with which he was quite familiar. It also mentioned the 'Talbin' family, one with which he was not.

Apparently, the stryfer’s task that night was to recover a particularly important signet ring. This was family business he was dealing with, so to assume the ring belonged to the Nitrozians off the bat would be far too simple and uncomplicated for their tastes. No, he had to look at this objectively and with a wide lens if he hoped to avoid looking the fool for his assumptions. Elias could guess that whoever’s house belonged to the signet was more well-known than this vague Talbins. It was not uncommon for the major families to employ smaller, aspiring houses into their ranks with promises of integration into the clan and all the power such a move entailed. Hell, that would have been the case for Elias and the Calderas thanks to his agreement with Sitanos had there actually been enough Calderas around for them to be considered a family anymore. Regardless, it stood to reason that the signet would be used to validate things that the real owners would normally oppose. The simplest thing would be to wait and see what newly authorized ordinances came to light under protest. But, of course, that was no doubt exactly what the signet owners were trying to prevent.

He sighed, rolled the parchment back up and took a moment to consider what he knew.

He knew the docks. He knew that the signet was already stolen and that the owners suspected who'd taken it. “Why then,' he began to himself, “if the owners were influential enough to even HAVE a signet of any significance,” he continued, “wouldn't they just confront the Talbins directly and be done with it?”

The answer was as immediate as it was obvious: Politics. Facades of dignity and non-involvement had to be maintained. This was being "farmed out" as they said. Probably, they wished to have the fact that they had allowed it to be stolen in the first place kept from certain ears.

Good enough. This probably meant the Talbin ‘family home’ was a just a base of operations as well. Wealthy, influential citizens didn't have their homes along the docks after all.

He needed to find the right house, get inside of it, locate the stolen ring and get back in, oh... He looked at the night sky, thinking about the vague deadline..

He figured he had about six bells.

He’d faced worse with less.


Word Count: 565
Last edited by Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Winner Takes All

Postby Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:16 pm

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The drop off point he was told to leave the ring at was located behind a local tavern known as the Silver Sliver. If the note was correct, then Elias would find an inconspicuous length of rope dangling from the side of the dock, that, should he reel up, would reveal the small container he was meant to leave the ring in to be picked up later.

With that in mind he made his way down the canals towards the tavern, his dark cloak as concealing as it was conspicuous. Honestly, wearing such things only made it all the more obvious that one was up to no good in a city like Ravok where no good was the norm and few had reason to hide it. Elias’s intentions however were simple with his attire; he just didn’t want to be recognized. To that end, he’d also brought his mask with him, securely tucked away in his coat pocket for the right time.

A time that seemed to quickly approach, as Elias soon realized he was being followed. That was quick the Ravokian mumbled within his thoughts as he struggled to keep his gaze affixed front. It was a man, -he could tell by the vague impression of his aura- around the same build and size as Elias and clearly unsuited to subterfuge by the way he barely hid his intentions with each hurried step. This was good, because being a soldier, the Caldera was likely just as bad at this as the one now perusing him. This sort of skullduggery and slinking about was more suited for the cowards within the Black Sun than it was of the Stryfe, but this was his life now for the foreseeable future so long as his debts to the Nitorizian’s stood. He had to adapt.

At least this much was not unfamiliar to him. There was nothing Elias Caldera was more accustomed to than bloodshed nor the tense moments that preceded. Might as well put those talents to use when he could, the soldier mused with a smile as he suddenly ducked into a nearby alleyway.

A man followed shortly after, pausing first in the light of the alchemical lamp hanging over the storefront nearby. When he finally found the nerve to take a step deeper into the unabated darkness, he realized the error of his judgement too late. He felt the water first, having had his boot splash into a puddle deep enough to engulf him up to the ankle. From the puddle, his eyes trailed upward, following the river of trickling water until at last he found its source. That was when he noticed the masked man at the other end of the alley who’d been waiting for him. The sorcerer merely snapped his fingers and the thug seized in place, his body snapping rigid and taut as if the spirit of Rhysol himself had entered him. Instead, what it had been was a simple trick Elias’s torturers had taught him a long time ago. With a snap of his fingers, a bolt of lighting had struck the water he’d ushered into the alley with his res. Though at the time he’d never quite found the wherewithal to ask how or why such things were possible as he was being tortured, he knew now that for whatever reason, water conducted lightning like nothing else. A single bolt could traverse the entirety of a small lake if given enough charge, or more relevantly, an impromptu puddle of water in an unsuspecting alleyway.

Naturally, he would have been far more direct in his assault given any other circumstances, but as an aurist, he knew all too well how easy it was to detect magic, let alone track down a mage whose talents corresponded with an incident. He had to take care with these Nitrozian tasks if he hoped to keep his anonymity intact. The last thing he needed were these petty family feuds finding their way back to his Alija and her boy at home. That, he would not allow.

The man was down to his knees in an instant, the surge having rendered his muscles limp and useless. Good, the mage thought, he was getting much better at deducing how much power each lightning attack would need to incapacitate, and how much he would need to kill.

By the time the man jerked himself up unto two feet, stumbled back to grab hold of the nearby wall to steady himself, and found his voice to shout for help, Elias had already closed the distance, the edge of his dagger having found its way to the underside of the man's chin.

The man froze, his eyes white and wide with recognition of the predicament he now found himself in. Elias cooed quietly, "Hush now, and be smart. Move again and I’ll open your throat up like a faucet. Arms up... that's right... Just blink your eyes, once for 'yes', twice for 'no'. We don't want you to nod your head right now, do we."

There was a pause, and then the man blinked twice.

Elias chuckled mirthlessly. “You’re with the ones who have the ring, aren’t you?” He leaned in, the knife digging just a bit deeper to emphasize his query. "Was that two for 'no'? Oh, but you knew what ring I was talking about don’t you."

The man trembled and Elias's left hand, gripping the back of the man's head was getting slippery from the sweat. He already had what he needed. He didn't need his questions answered. He could tell by the responses that the man was with the faction holding the ring having shown no confusion at all. His quick denial was all the confirmation the stryfer needed.

The fool swallowed, and the blade scratched the skin. As the tendril of blood began to snake its way down his shirt collar, the whimpering began. Elias didn’t need anything else from this one.

The soldier swung his foot behind the man's knees and brought poor sod toppling backwards, swiftly guiding his head into a vicious slam against the cobblestones below. The man went limp in an instant, and before long Elias was dragging him deeper into the shadows and had begun rifling through his clothes. There was a purse jingling with a few coins, a nasty looking club at his waist he’d never had a chance to use, a few old receipts from the nearby butcher shop, and, most importantly, identification citizenship papers with an address belonging to one 'Yuriah Talbin'.

"Jackpot." Elias crowed.

[/color]


Word Count: 1086
Last edited by Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Winner Takes All

Postby Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:16 pm

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As it turned out, the address was only two or three blocks from where Elias and his newest friend had just been conversing. No wonder the drop point had been under surveillance, they had known somebody was coming to get that ring back.

By the time the two of them were standing outside of the mundane looking structure, eyeing the front door, Yuriah was slowly beginning to come to. By standing of course, Elias meant he was standing and using a considerable amount of effort to hoist the other man up next to him. It had seemed unnecessary to take the thief’s life just yet, and simply leaving him there in the alley was just asking for trouble later. Perhaps there was more he could reveal if given enough time and properly pressed. Better yet, perhaps the Nitorizians would offer their stooge a bonus for bringing the thief back alive at the end of all this. God knew he needed the money.

It was unfortunate then that Elias was an Aurist, because thanks to that, Yuriah’s fate had been sealed the moment the two of them saddled up to the door and the mage’s sight beyond sight revealed what lay just beyond.

A few moments later and the latch of the door clicked and turned without incident. As the door began to swing open, Yuriah let out a mumbled ‘huh?’ as Elias let the poor fool fall forwards and out of his arms across the threshold of his own home. A flash of lightning answered the unannounced entrance as the body broke the threshold of the doorway and fell, jerking and smoking, onto the floor.

Crude, but effective. This was far from the first magical trap the stryfer had ever come across, though he was glad it was not his last. Poor Yuriah on the other hand had been become something of a lightning rod tonight, and Elias found himself offering a small prayer for the unfortunate thief.

There was an alarmed cry, a woman's voice, "Yuriah! Oh gods! Didn't you disarm the glyph? Yuriah? Yuriah?" As Elias pressed his back against the outside wall, out of sight, the woman came wailing out from a back bedroom and dropped, crying and begging for the twitching body to respond. Mrs. Talbin, he assumed. In her hysteria, the grieving widow hadn’t even noticed the looming shadow the masked man had cast from the open doorway until it was too late.

A sharp stroke on the back of her head quieted her noise and Elias closed the door as he took an appraising look around the room.

It was time to get to work.



Word Count: 441
Last edited by Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Winner Takes All

Postby Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:17 pm

Image

There were a few books in a narrow cabinet. He grabbed them and fanned them one by one but found none bore a cut-out for concealing anything.

He pulled the mirror and paintings off the wall next.

He pulled all the drawers out of the furnishings to check for false backs and bottoms after that, both in the drawers themselves and the enclosing cabinetry. There were none.

There were drawers in the kitchen as well, but they had no secret compartments either. He slid just about every item he found on end tables, counters, vanities, wardrobes and the mantle. Nothing caught on any hidden latches or triggered sliding covers. There was nothing perched on hard-to-see inner flanges of the door jambs.

He tugged on the corners of nailed down carpets and slid throw rugs aside, looking for hidden trap doors or cubby holes. It was only a one story building, so there were no stairs to check. He gave the fireplace a rough sweeping and looked for loose bricks like there had been once upon a time at his home. At one point he had even begun rooting around in the pantry out of desperation. There was no ring to be found, but there was a hunk of salted lamb to which he gladly helped himself to.

Now he stood back and scanned the room, looking for irregularities as he chewed. Part of him was trying to remember what he’d seen those Black Sun operatives do whenever they’d called his unit along for a raid. They had been relentless in their searches, combing every inch of a house from top to bottom, looking in what Elias had once though the most absurd places one could conceive to hide something. Now he was urgently trying to recall those absurdities and make sure he’d missed none. He was still holding one of the candles he’d pulled off the wall and was looking around absentmindedly for which holder it belonged to.

That was when he caught sight of the lone floor candle lamp in the corner. He noticed its styling was different than any of the sconces on the walls. He also noticed there were currently no candles in it. He knew he had taken no candles out of it, so it was there for no good reason...

or perhaps there was.


Word Count: 388
Last edited by Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Winner Takes All

Postby Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:17 pm

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There was a round base and a central pole that led to the small array of decorative holders spreading like trimmed tree branches from the top of the thing. The pole had decorative grooves running the length of it. There was one small span that showed a slightly burnished look to it, as if it was handled regularly there, but not actually worn down.

Elias tried turning portions of the pole, assuming the handled look was due to it being the point where you gripped it while loosening one end or the other. He shook it slightly but heard nothing. No sound of a loose item hidden inside.

He studied it for a moment longer and found a tiny, vertical scratch. He moved his hand so his finger lined up with a groove section that was not scratched and pulled down. The grooved gave way and slid up as one piece, revealing a very small keyhole.

Petch! Finally! He growled internally. Progress, yet not enough. He still needed to find this damnable key if he hoped to claim his prize, though if it came to it, he was not above simply putting his arm through the wall with a little help of his flux. In fact, that would save a lot of tim- His musing were interrupted however, as the telltale creak of the floorboards reverberated behind him. Not a tick later and an arm had snaked around his head. At the same time, a second arm whipped around his shoulder from the other side and he felt something sharp and metal press against his neck. Shyke! He’d been so consumed by his search he hadn’t even noticed the woman’s body had shifted from where he’d put her. Stupid, Elias. Very Stupid.

The blade against his throat was a serious threat, and for a moment he wondered if his captor was going to make him start blinking his responses as he’d forced Yuriah to do. No, no time to wonder. He needed to act, and his first thought was the one he jumped on. Res had already begun to leak from his pours where the knife’s edge rested. There was no time to think. He made his move even as she started to hiss in his ear.

"Just keep your hands wh-..." she tried to say, but he was already pushing forward, feeling the blade scrape across his neck. At the same time, he swung a heavy backhanded blow around at her, hoping to knock her down in one brutal strike. She slipped to the side, agile like a cat, and just as wide eyed as one taken by surprise. It was obvious she couldn’t comprehend why her blade hadn’t found its mark. Elias didn’t give the satisfaction of an explanation as wiped the scratched ice from his throat and charged.

More than once, a swing that would have dealt a serious blow instead got caught up in the debris of his own ransacking. The woman ducked and dove away from him with frustrating ease, but inevitably, the clutter caught up with the squirmy little worm and she got her legs tucked beneath her. Instead of tumbling to the floor, she instead made a desperate leap for the door. Elias, seeing her attempt at escape, kicked a nearby table in her direction and she toppled over it with a pained yelp, falling just out of reach of her escape. He was on her in a blink, pinning her lithe form to the floor with knees and hands.

With a moment of respite, Elias took a moment to wipe his neck again, and there was bit of blood, but little more than what a shaving accident might spill instead of a wanton assassination attempt. The coating of ice he’d hastily formed between the knife and his neck had worked in a pinch, though he wasn’t quite willing to test it a second time. Instead, he focused his attention back on the little thief who’d tried to end him and drove his knee a little deeper into her back.

"Here’s how this going to go…" he began.


Word Count: 685
Last edited by Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Winner Takes All

Postby Elias Caldera on September 22nd, 2018, 11:18 pm

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"You're going to lay perfectly still... while I... see..." He kept her pinned face down as he slowly crouched. "...what's under... here!" he called with a small measure of triumph, as he pulled the wig from her head. A disguise was it? It seemed he wasn’t dealing with just any run of the mill amateur then.

She also wasn’t nearly as unconscious as he’d first thought. Impressive given the force he’d put behind that blow. Clearly, she’d been expecting it and prepared accordingly. He had to give her credit, she was smart and tough to boot. Too bad she was on the wrong side. He drove his weight into a little more, twisting her arm as he did so just a hair further that arms were meant to be bent. “I said don’t move!”

"Alright, alright you got me, big man. No need to be so rough. Can’t you see I’m just a helpless little girl. I can’t hurt you." she sneered. Elias grinned at her defiance. He found that he liked her. He hoped she didn't make him kill her. "So what now, tall, dark and brooding? Plan to have your way with me, no doubt?" She purred with an unexpected sultry sarcasm. She even went so far as to lift her backside with a suggestive wiggle.

The soldier knew this game too well, and immediately focused on her hands instead. He grinned again. "Nice try." He growled from beneath the porcelain of his mask as he grabbed her wrist before it had a chance to pocket whatever it was she’d just swiped off the floor. “But you’re not nearly as pretty as you think.”

"Oh, you're one of those kind of boys, eh?" She said teasingly, reluctantly giving up the necklace she’d been gripping.

“You’re rather laid back for a woman who just lost her husband.” He said, examining the necklace as he spoke. It was a simple flower-shaped work of silver with two opposed leaves sprouting from the stem. The stem was straight, the bud attached in a purely perpendicular position, which he found odd.

“Oh yes, my poor Yuriah. What ever shall I do without my dear beloved… You know, I guess this means I’m single again. How ‘bout that.” she grumbled non-committedly, trying once again to wiggle free and only eliciting a gasp as her captor pressed down in retaliation.

On a hunch, he gripped the bud in his left hand and torqued on the leaves with his right, as you would do to a wing-nut. The bud came unscrewed from the top, revealing the business end of a tiny key. "Jackpot.” he crowed for the second time that night, while she sighed in defeat.

"Hands. Now. Behind your back." He shifted his position on top of her, hands reaching for her dress. He could feel a pulse of doubt and actual fear race through her for the first time as she felt his hands wondering, then it was gone, replaced with a giggle as Elias tore a strip of her clothing off and began tying it around her wrists. “You’ll be hearing from my tailor about this, good sir.”

"Shut up and consider yourself lucky I’m leaving you alive. If I were you, I’d start thinking long and hard about what you’re going to do next, because when the people who hired you find out you lost the ring, I can’t imagine they’re going to be too happy." With that, he dismounted his defeated opponent, but not before covering her face with the wrong side of the wig he’d yanked off her head. It wasn’t as if she could see his face with the mask on, but he couldn’t be too careful. Who knew how many little tricks she had up her sleeve… that, and listening to her trying to huff and puff stray strands of hair out of her mouth in irritation while she struggled with the thing was bringing a smile to his face the Caldera could not deny.

He kept a foot on her back for warning against any move she might make and returned his focus to the candle array. He pushed up, revealing the keyhole. He inserted the key and turned. There was a click and the entire top of the candle array came off in one piece. There was a hook screw with a thread attached to it that connected to a small paper wad stuffed into the shaft. He pulled it out and unwrapped it. Inside, There was the signet ring, featuring a large, ornate letter "L" with a variety of background bits, scrolls and border embosses.

Lark…

Now he thought he understood. One of the great houses, likely the Valdinox or the Galatos, had managed to get their hands on the ring. Someone had leaked the information and the Nitrozians got wind of it. Now they wanted it, and probably to escalate tensions between the Lazarins or the Lazarins, just to put the icing on this convoluted cake of family politics.

Elias wondered… would the Nitrozians be willing to let him use this is he asked? The Larks weren’t exactly his favorite family these days, and having this thing and all the power it represented would have gone a long way towards making his enemies within the family fall all the faster. For a moment, he considered going back to the shop and making an impression in clay of the signet image, but decided not to push his luck, nor waste any time. He suspected they were already taking precautions against the thing being copied anyway, and it occurred to Elias that this was the most likely reason for the one night deadline on the job. Whatever the Nitrozians were planning to do, they would have to do it soon before anyone noticed it was missing.

Well then, he had better hurry.

As she felt the weight of her attacker leave her, the woman who’d nearly gutted Elias perked up from her spot on the floor. “Oh, what’s this, not even a kiss goodnight?” She said with a smile he could not see so much as he could feel as his hand reached the door. “Well no matter,” She went on, and something in her tone shifted in a way the mage didn’t like. “I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again soon enough… sweet dreams.”

And with that, Elias opened the door and ducked out into the night.



Word Count: 1073
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Elias Caldera
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Winner Takes All

Postby Vanguard on December 8th, 2018, 8:38 pm

Judgment Is Upon Thee!



Elias Caldera
Skill Rewards
  • Brawling +1
  • Interrogation +1
  • Intimidation +1
  • Larceny +2
  • Logic +2
  • Politics +1
  • Reimancy +1
  • Socialization +1
    Wrestling +2

Lores Learned
  • Politics: Facades of dignity and non-involvement
  • Politics: Theft of the Lark signet ring
  • Reimancy: Water conducts Lightning like nothing else


If you have any questions or concerns about your grade please send me a PM.
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