That Sinking Feeling

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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]

That Sinking Feeling

Postby Elias Caldera on October 7th, 2018, 6:15 pm

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8th day of Fall, 518 AV


He was getting that feeling again.

That upsetting, all too familiar rumbling in his gut that said ‘somethings wrong, and its only gonna get worse from here.’ It was the same unease he’d felt a thousand times before; he had got it the moment he decided pickpocketing the guard captain's purse would be a good idea, the day he stepped onto the altar and married his first wife, and that time he’d been convinced to invest all his coin in a friend’s gambit to make cattail tobacco the ‘future of the smoking business all across the world.’ He should have listened to it back then like he should have been listening to it now, but if Guldo Barsavi had been accused of anything, being sensible was not on the list.

He didn’t let the paranoia slow his pace however, nor did he permit it to slow that of their ‘guest’ that early evening. Mazrim Taim was a tall and gaunt man, light of complexion but dark of eyes. His fine black coat and greasy, slicked back hair marked him as something reminiscent of the higher class. The way he carried himself, chin held high and studious gaze unwavering as it stared down his hawk of a nose, only helped sell the air of aristocratic nobility even more.

A light shove kept the slaver moving in close tandem as they drew nearer to the smithy that was their destination. Taim merely grunted under his breath at the rough manhandling, beady black eyes turning ever so slightly to consider the bigger, broader brutes who were his shepherds. Flanked by two of the Bastards on each side, Guldo included, the slaver wasn’t going anywhere, and he knew it. The group walked with purpose through the gathering crowds that filled Ravok’s merchants ring that day. None gave pause or consideration to the odd assembly of thugs and criminals surrounding the well dressed and clean-cut gentleman as they pushed their way through the throngs of shouting peddlers and haggling housewives. For his part, and much to Guldo’s relief, Mazrim never made an attempt to escape, nor even gave the impression he even intended to. He didn’t seem the type who enjoyed to notion of getting himself entangled in some street brawl, let alone risk having himself seen in public as he was dragged, kicking and screaming across the entire quarter. No, instead the sharp chinned businessman seemed more like a man who considered his options like he considered his business ventures. He studied his opponents and rivals alike, making notes of their surroundings, remembering faces, seeking out secrets, all so when he did decide that the less ‘elegant’ side of his work was needed, those that had crossed him would never know what hit them in the end.

Guldo wondered if that was why his gut was in such a blasted tizzy, but he knew better. It wasn’t Mazrim that had him on edge, it was the man they were taking him to.

The group arrived at the front door of the Defiled Blade without incident, each gang member carefully and studiously searching about to make sure the store was still closed and undisturbed as they had left it. Once they were certain all was copacetic, they began making their way round back where another, less conspicuous entrance awaited them.

Instead of impertinently shoving Taim in ahead of them, Guldo instead opened the door and graciously invited the slaver in with a wave of his meaty hand. He wasn’t above manners after all, and it wasn’t if the man had any more of a chance after this. It was far too late to escape now. Perhaps Mazrim would realize the embarrassment and scandal of being seen carried off by bandits in the middle of the day would have been worth it if it had meant that he’d had even the slightest chance of avoiding what was about to happen next.

A bitterly warm wind brushed by his cheek as the door swung open, and what followed was a conflation of all the smells one could expect from an establishment like this; tanned leather, smoldering flames, tortured steel and crafting oils. As they made their way inside, Guldo was immediately greeted by the hard, wary eyes of more than dozen others staring back at him. They lined the walls of the brightly lit back room like some sort of honor gaurd. Standing at attention with hands at the hilts of their weapons, it was clear they were all restless. Like him, most were members of the gang, big, brawny and bearing the kind of ugly mugs only a mother could love, just as had been requested. He nodded at them and in turn they nodded back, deflating ever so slightly at the sight of their boss. There were others though, deeper in the shadowy corners of the room who did not unwind nor let the tension fade from their harsh gazes. Though these few wore better armor and carried themselves with militant grace, they were far more disconcerting than the criminals and reprobates they shared the room with. Seeing members of the Ebonstryfe rarely ever put Guldo at ease, and especially not so when there were so many of them in the same place, and all with the same purpose.

No one spoke at first, and the rhythmic sound of hammers working and bellows blowing were distant, faded, but ever present in the room next door.

Over it all, a voice finally cut through the din.

“Ah, Master Taim!”

Came a dry and hollow greeting from the center of the room, drawing all attention there if it wasn’t already. Standing at the upon a slightly raised dais was a dark figure, arms outstretched as he gazed nonchalantly at the large reflective mirror placed before him. Another man, much older, short in stature and about as solid looking as the various suits of armor and blacksmithing equipment scattered about the room was practically crawling all over the Ravokian with a length of knotted rope set firmly in his grasp. Guldo realized he was taking measurements, essentially preparing his pale skinned patron like one would a groom at his fitting. Taim, on the other hand, noticed that though he had not turned to address him, cold blue eyes were watching him all the same via his reflection, and the slaver promptly made a courteous and well-practiced bow to the stryfer’s back.

“You’re a difficult man to get a hold of, sir.”

“Not that difficult…” Guldo overheard the slaver muttering to himself as his scrutinizing gaze surveyed the room once more. Always watching, this one. Like a falcon on the hunt. The kingpin thought to himself. He was going to have to remember that.

“It is a pleasure to meet you at last. I’d greet you more properly, but as you can see…” The stryfer motioned with his head at the red armed Isurian pacing about him. “I find myself somewhat compromised at present. Never the less, I assure you, I’ve been looking forward to this introduction ever since I first learned of your name.”

Taim shifted his weight, perhaps in an attempt to distract from the discomfort he no doubt felt. “I’m afraid,” he began, licking his thin lips, “you have me at a disadvantage. You clearly know who I am, but I can’t say the same for you. I’ll admit, I’ve been in suspense ever since your man here came to so kindly escort me from my chateau. I hope now I can finally have a name and perhaps even a reason for all this mystery and excitement as of late. So please, enlighten me... who petch are you?”

Guldo saw a grin flash over the stryfer’s wicked visage reflected in the mirror, and that feeling he’d been having since this whole thing had started was suddenly back and worse than ever.
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That Sinking Feeling

Postby Elias Caldera on October 7th, 2018, 6:35 pm

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“I see. Well then Commander,” Mazrim began, nerves almost, almost threatening to get the better of his composure. Ever poised, the tall man simply bowed once more, expelling formalities and humble honors as effortlessly as he would a breath or a fart. Customary with ranking members of the black order, but Guldo had to give the slaver credit, he sure was determined to remain as unruffled as humanly possible. Practice, the crime boss decided, years and years of practice, it had to be. “While I assure you I have my many faults, being inhospitable is not one of them. If you had wanted to speak, none of this was truly necessary.” He went on, making a sweeping motion over the assemblage of thugs, killers and all round shady petches in attendance. “You could have simply made an appointment with my attendee and we could have arranged an amicable meeting to discuss our business in a more… appropriate setting.” He finished carefully, noting the stern side glance the Isurian metal smith was giving him out of the corner of his eye. For his part, the little man had never faltered in his work, taking his countless, meticulous measurements for every which angle imaginable.

Elias too had returned to his part in all this as the dutiful scarecrow, arms out wide and just as still as the armorer began fitting parts of the suit unto his arms. “I suppose I could have done that, yes.” The Caldera responded, resuming his conversation with Taim’s reflection in the mirror, “But it wouldn’t have been nearly as dramatic, now would it.” He finished, flashing his false teeth once more.

“But I can see you’re a busy man, so I’ll be direct.” They were fashioning on his greaves now. “You work for the Larks-”

Worked,” Mazrim quickly corrected, stepping forward. “I worked for the Larks, lord Caldera. My services were terminated, quite recently in fac-”

There were flashes of steel as nearly a dozen blades were drawn and just as many armed men and women began to make their way toward the startled slaver. In an instant the air in the room went from uncomfortable to downright unbearable.

The stryfer at the center of the room raised his hand and the assembly of killers and cutthroats slowly, reluctantly retreated back into the shadows. “Master Taim, that is the last time you will interrupt me.” Elias spoke, and though they'd been sheathed, those blades would forever be bared now that they'd been drawn.

Mazrim cleared his throat, humbly apologized, and gestured for his host to continue without concern of such rudeness again.

“As I was saying, you work for the Larks, or at least you did until this whole unsightly business with the deplorables began and your ‘services were terminated’… officially. Unofficially, you continued serving the family, and despite the ban on certain slave races, somehow I get the impression the Larks were making more coin off their trade than ever before, and you, a man who had so abruptly lost his patronage and been forced into the game without any backing or support, well you were making just as much coin as your former masters, if not more. Isn’t that peculiar.”

Mazrim made as if to reply, to deny the accusations and wholeheartedly confess his innocence and ignorance of these heinous things the mad Ravokian was muttering, but as his eyes darted over to the walls and he was reminded of what had happened last time, he decided better of it.

“Let me tell you a story…”

“Oh god.” Mazrim groaned under his breath as he realized what kind of torture he was now in for. Luckily, Elias hadn’t heard him, but Guldo felt for the man none the less. He’d suffered enough of the boy’s long-winded and menacing analogies to fill a few books and then some. Lord above but did that son of a bitch like the sound of his own voice sometimes.

“It has a lot to do with where we are actually. You see years ago when I was just an apprentice, my father -a powerful and wretched man- commissioned for me the finest suit of armor in all of the five rings.” The Caldera went on, even as the Isurian began tightening his greaves and fastening the rest of his attire in place. “It was a gift, one of very few he ever gave me, and it was to be truly spectacular. The smith he hired promised perfection, as well as a bill to match, but my father would not be deterred. It took months to forge and fashion that armor, with countless set backs and excuses drawing out the process as well as the price. In the end though, you should have seen it. Not a finer set of steel in the world. It glistened in ebony elegance, and there wasn’t an apprentice around who wasn’t mad with envy as I strolled about town in my new suit.” There was a pause, as if the mage was collecting himself or simply struggling to recall. The Isurian on the other hand, hadn’t been still since his work had begun, and was now clamping down belt buckles and rivulets left and right.

“That was until the next summer.” Elias resumed, clearing his throat. “I wasn’t exactly the most friendly of youths, if you can believe it, and one day, one of my many rivals, in an attempt to undermine me and my clan, had sought out the smith my father had commissioned, and through force or bribery, had the man confess the truth of his misdeeds. The armor, as it turned out, was a sham. The promised magical and mythical strength it would have was nothing but a lie, one propagated by greed and desperation. It wasn’t even worth a third of what we’d paid, and before long all of Ravok knew it.”

Guldo had to admit, he didn’t think he heard this one before, which was a surprise, but he had a sinking suspicion he knew where this was headed. He was more concerned with keeping an eye on Mazrim at this point. Staying alive in his line of work meant being able to read people, and not just the real meaning behind their words either, but their actions. He was eyeing the slaver’s hands, the best judge of a man’s thoughts he found, and he noticed they were clenched tight as a mace. It meant he didn’t intend to bolt or make a break for it, but instead stand his ground. Barsavi couldn’t decide whether that was the right choice or not.

“You know what my father did next, don’t you.” Elias asked.

“I can imagine.” Mazrim sighed.

“He marched into that blacksmith’s shop, held the smith’s hand to his anvil, and with his own hammer, my father shattered every bone in that man’s hand until he could no more wield a pen or a fork, let alone the tools of his trade ever again. You know why he did this, Master Taim?”

This time, there was no answer. The Isuran had finished his work, finally lowering the breastplate in place and finishing his task of fully encapsulating the pale swordsman in his regalia of ebony. When Elias turned, it was if the shadows moved with him. Encased in the black metal of his armor, he finally stepped from the dais he’d been standing upon and slowly, eerily stalked over towards Guldo and Taim.

“He did it not because he’d been lied to, master Taim. No, lies in Ravok are a form of currency at the best of times, and he knew that well. He did what he did because the smith had had the gall to reveal the truth in the first place.” Elias finished, his tenor low and barely a whisper as he stood face to face with the man who held the key to his plans. “My father, god rest his wicked soul, understood a great deal about this city and its people, and if there’s one thing he taught me, its that the weight of a lie is just as powerful as the force of truth.”

Elias straightened, focus shifting from the Lark slaver and back unto his new armor. Though he’d never be caught dead in anything that heavy or pretentious, Guldo had to admit to himself, it was something of a work of art. The appreciation was short lived and replaced with another as the Isurian sauntered his way up alongside the Stryfer and handed him something. A fine blade, one apparently made of isurian steel yet ingrained with the magical powers of flame itself. Along with it came a pair of daggers made of a metal the crime lord was a bit more familiar with, cold iron. Elias had said they were gifts from his superior officer, Malachai something or other, but Guldo had never gotten a prize so grand from any of his bosses in the past, and trust him, he’d had a lot.

“Another lesson he taught me was never trust your steel with anyone but an Isurian.” Elias commented as he studied the longsword. There was only a gruff grunt of approval from the smith. “Gratitude, master Alleck. You’d give even my cousin a run for her money. I’ll be finished here shortly.”

The Isurian grunted once more and departed as silently as he’d entered. Unfortunately, with his leaving, that meant all attention now returned to poor Taim, and the man tensed as the Caldera’s cold gaze fell upon him once more.

“You will disavow your former masters in the Lark household, condemn them of their crimes against the state, and act as witness to those transgressions. You'll then sign and seal documents explaining in detail every illegal act they have committed, and should the Black Sun seek it, testify against the accused.”

Mazrim’s stance shifted, and those tightened fist grew white with outrage. Thin lips worked themselves into a frenzy as the privileged slaver worked up both the courage and the right words to spit into the face of his armored aggressor, but Elias cut him off before he had the chance.

“Now, usually this would be the part where I threaten your life, explaining in rather repugnant detail what I’ll do to you if don’t cooperate.” The mage snapped his fingers and the room began to stir. The guards lining the walls started moving, filing out of the room in quiet procession until at last the only souls who occupied it were Elias, Guldo, and Taim. The crime lord took his familiar spot behind the greasy haired flesh peddler as the Caldera slowly began to undo the one of the gauntlets on his hand. “But I won’t insult your character by pretending I can intimidate you, master Taim. The Larks wouldn’t have picked a man without the integrity and loyalty to match their predicted revenue.”

Guldo seized the slaver from behind, pinning his arms and holding him in place as instinct kicked in and he began to struggle.

“Commander Caldera, you need to think long and hard about what you’re going to do next!” Mazrim warned coldly.

“I have thought about this… for a long, long time master Taim. Too long. The time for words is at an end, and the time for action is upon us. Like I said, I won’t waste your time telling you what I intend to do if you defy me. Instead…” Elias moved his hand to the slaver’s forehead and placed his fingers upon his brow as gently as could be. “I will show you.”

Guldo felt the man tense in his grasp, watched as his eyes rolled back into his head, then braced himself for the screaming that would follow.


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Mostly active on Sundays

Ebonstryfe | Ravok | Codex | Black Sun

Templates
User avatar
Elias Caldera
Harbinger
 
Posts: 781
Words: 1009937
Joined roleplay: September 14th, 2013, 1:28 am
Location: Ravok
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Scrapbook
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 4
Featured Character (1) Featured Thread (1)
Overlored (1) Ravok Seasonal Challenge (1)


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