Closed Broken Spirits (Anja)

A meeting at the Pig's Foot.

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

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Broken Spirits (Anja)

Postby Asterope on November 14th, 2018, 1:24 am

70th/Autumn/518 AV

It was the first time that Alard had allowed Aster to wander into the city alone, and she was the happiest she'd been in a long while. To be able to walk without a constant gaze on her, not having to worry about sticking by her master's side and keeping her head down...she felt freer than she had in a long while, too.

Alard had locked a collar around her neck before she left, as he had put it, 'just to be sure', but she was still on her own, which was more than she'd had in some time. She'd attracted her fair share of glances, but she was careful to keep to the wide, more populated streets as she made her way through town.

Not that it really mattered; she knew the biggest deterrent that kept thugs from marking her as a target was the collar, which meant she had little to offer, and the sun burned into the back of her hand, which implied consequences. The latter was well on its way to healing, as well; the burn was puckered and pink, still tender, but no longer scabbing.

Aster had diligently been helping the wound along with its healing every day, which had helped tremendously, but she knew it would fade from her skin during the day once it had healed, and she was beginning to wonder if maybe she should have left it for as long as possible.

In any case, Aster had to wonder how far the protection she had went, and for how long it might last. The picture that Alard had painted of Sunberth had not been a pretty one, and she'd seen for herself the first day she arrived how ruthless the city could be. She wasn't keen to discover it for herself.

She'd been given a simple task, and Alard had admitted as much that it was a test of sorts. "Gotta make sure you're more than a pretty face," He'd said with a smirk. "You're no good to me if you can't survive a few bells in the city on your own."

And so off she'd been sent with a handful of silver and vague directions, told to pick up some bread and cheese at the bakery, with no further instructions except to be back before nightfall.

Despite the archaic nature of the city, Aster was pleasantly surprised to find it actually wasn't too difficult to navigate. She ignored side streets and alleys, of which there were plenty, and followed the main street down to the river; it wasn't difficult to see. A quick ferry across, and she was on her way to searching out the bakery.

Skirting around the edge of a group of buildings right next to the river, Aster tried to not make it too obvious that she had no idea where she was going, but it was difficult to do so when she was constantly glancing at the faded signs of the buildings. Across the street, shouting suddenly broke out; Asterope flinched, head swiveling and her eyes wide as she watched a brawl break out in the mouth of an alley, two men mercilessly pummeling a third.

One of them glanced up and caught her eye, pausing mid-punch to sneer at her from across the street, blood staining his knuckles. "What the petch are you lookin' at, lady? You wanna be next?" He snarled, his partner pausing as well.

Aster stumbled back a step, giving a hard shake of her head and stammering out an apology; her heart was already pounding, and without checking, she whirled around and threw open the door to the nearest building, ducking inside.

She seemed to have entered some sort of tavern. Exhaling a shaky breath, she straightened up; most of the patrons had ignored her, but a few glances lingered on her curiously. Not wanting to attract more attention than she already had, Aster slipped over to the nearest corner, and took a seat at an empty table. The corner was emptier than the rest of the room, but not entirely; a man sat at one of the tables nearby, but Asterope paid him no mind other than a quick glance as she sat down.

She hoped she'd be left alone; she just wanted a few moments to catch her breath and let the scene outside finish up. Absently, she rubbed her fingers over the mark on the back of her other hand. If she was asked to order something she would probably be better off simply leaving; Alard had been, while not kind, not cruel to her so far, and she didn't want to risk changing that by spending his coin.

Thankfully, she was left alone, at least for the moment. Aster began to calm down, her pulse slowing as her golden gaze scanned the room curiously; the tavern was, while rough, well-kept. The atmosphere was smoky and loud, and eventually the looks that lingered on her were redirected elsewhere, to more entertaining things; still, Asterope felt uneasy.

After a moment, she glanced around the bar again, and caught the eye of a man sitting across the room who was still watching her intently. He stood up abruptly, and Aster dropped her gaze to the table in front of her, clasping her hands in her lap, hoping he wouldn't approach her, a slight grimace crossing her face when she heard footsteps approaching over the din of the tavern.

The chair across from her was pulled out, and she heard someone sit with a grunt, and risked glancing up. The man was sitting across from her, appraising her with dark eyes and something between a sneer and a smirk. "Well ain't you an interesting thing. Never seen somethin' like you before. Whataya say to a drink in exchange for some entertainment, huh?"

Aster pressed her lips together, and raised her scarred hand to adjust the collar around her neck, hoping he would get the message, but the man didn't bat an eye. "Thank you, but no," the Eth said carefully after a moment, lowering her hand again. "I'm waiting for my master." The word made her feel nauseous, and it was a bold-faced lie, but he didn't have to know that.

"Oh yeah?" He asked, and Aster tried to keep her expression neutral as she nodded, but she could feel her lips twitch nervously. "And where is this master of yours, huh?" He leaned over the table, his larger frame threatening. Aster glanced around nervously, desperately looking for some sort of out, her eyes briefly meeting those of the man who also occupied the same corner before returning to the threat across from her.

She was beginning to realize she was cornered, and nobody was going to come to her aid; she didn't have Navi to count on, or an illusion to hope for, or even the kindness of strangers. For the first time in her short life, Asterope was realizing that kindness did not exist everywhere, and was being faced with just how terrible people could be; it made her chest clench. She'd been lucky so far, and being shoved so abruptly into such a harsh reality was crushing.

"That's none of your concern," Aster exhaled, trying to sound braver than she felt, but she could feel the faint tremor in her voice. "You should leave." She clenched her jaw, squaring her shoulders as she stared at the man across from her, who threw back his head and laughed.

"Lookit you girly, trying to be all scary. Is that so, then?" His voice turned from amused to dangerous quickly, and Asterope swallowed hard as he stood, towering over her, realizing quickly that she'd made a mistake.

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Broken Spirits (Anja)

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on November 19th, 2018, 11:59 pm

Anja's strained relationship with Jebidiah was beginning to take a toll on him. Now that he lived at the Midnight Gem, his daily reports to the Dust Bed were brief and to the point. Sometimes Jeb wouldn't even bother meeting with Anja, instead sending one of his assistants to give the Spiritist his job for the day. The fact that the nuit was always conspicuously absent during Anja's brief visits was the only thing that kept the Eiyon's civility towards his mentor from shattering into a thousand pieces. Anja wasn't sure how much longer he could keep up interactions with Jeb, with their relationships slow deterioration eating at the both of them. Something was going to give eventually and Anja would be prepared for it when it did. For now, things were holding together. But only just.

Anja's daily work took him to the Drunken Fish. The tavern was not far from the Midnight Gem, and the Drykas’ sour mood was lightened at the chance to build a friendly relationship with his neighbors. The innards of the tavern roiled with the sound of slurred song in fratva, the occasional word Anja recognized making him wrinkle his nose in a mixture of amusement and disgust. Maisa's ears twitched from the sounds, and without prompting from Anja she parked herself at a hitching post outside the tavern, that was populated only by two thin, sick looking steeds. Drykas rode without bridles so there was no need to tie Maisa up; it was for the best anyways, considering the fact that she could run if someone tried to make off with her. While Maisa made nice with her two dull companions, Anja dismounted and headed towards the door to the tavern. Almost immediately he was stopped by a high pitched, mournful wail. Anja looked towards Maisa's yvas with a sigh.

Strapped on either side of Maisa's yvas were a pair of saddlebag-like pouches from which two heads with eager eyes poked out of. The front half of Battle's body protruded from the bag, and she turned to glare at her brother, whose desperate wailing had foiled her escape.

“I'm fairly sure that dogs are not allowed inside,” Anja told the puppies. Sayeth whined desperately, wiggling from within the pouch. Anja walked back to Maisa's side to tuck the pups back into the pouches, and felt Maisa's teeth seize his sleeve. The expression on her face spoke volumes. It was something like 'I swear to Dira, if you leave me with these pups again, I will let them get into all the trouble they want to.’

“Perhaps they can make an exception,” Anja said. Battle and Sayeth wiggled with sheer glee as he removed them from their bags and deposited them in his pockets. Maisa sighed with relief as Anja walked back inside, and put her heads back with her neighbors to talk about whatever it was that horses talk about.

The puppies’ happy chatter was completely drowned out in the din inside the tavern. A wizened, silver haired man caught Anja's eye and waved him over towards the bar. “Anja, ain't it?” the man asked.

“You were expecting me?” Anja asked.

“Aye. Got a ghost problem for you to deal with.”

“Can you tell me the details?”

The man chewed his lip as he looked at Anja. “No real idea. Showed up uh...two days ago. Dunno who he is. We've got people who go round kicking the bucket all the time here. The lot here are sailors, most of em not even Berthers. Sure you can imagine how that goes if they mess with the wrong people, eh?”

“Yes,” Anja agreed. “Where have you seen it?”

“All around. Comes and goes. If you go poking, I'm sure you'll find it. Hey is that your dog?”

The abrupt change in subject made Anja's heart fly into his throat as he realized one of his pockets was entirely too light. “I'll be back in a moment!” Anja said, turning to look for Battle.

There were a great many things of interest in the tavern, but Battle had spent enough time living rough on the street before being adopted by Anja to know danger when she saw it. Thus, the pup had the sense to avoid the crowd of boisterous singing men, slip past the heavily armed mercenaries eyeballing each other, and make her way towards the only face in the room that was not coarse, brutish, and angry. The white and black spotted pup slipped underneath Aster's table and yapped a small greeting to her, pushing her cold nose against the woman's hand. By this time, Aster had already been approached by the rough stranger, and Anja had already spotted where Battle had skulked off to. Anja had just enough time to make it to the table to hear their conversation, and realize that Battle had just walked them into a high charged situation.

Anja was struck immediately by the woman's unnatural beauty. It didn't take the strange glass-like horns protruding from her head for Anja to realize he was looking at something that was not human. Her delicate, ethereal beauty did not seem to match the grim, grudginess of this tavern. She stuck out like a diamond in a bed of rocks. Anja eyes her collar for a fraction of a moment, followed by the brand on her hand.

Anja was not a hero. His skills were best employed just before or after death. But he was also not the sort of man to watch a woman get harassed, particularly not in his backyard. If he was to be completely selfish, he could say that he was avoiding conflict for the sake the ghost who resided here. Violence could affect it strangely, and keeping emotions calm was the easiest way to avoid unpredictability. But that was overcomplicating things. Anja simply didn't like seeing this woman harassed. But he did not have the skills for a flat out confrontation either. A plan flashed in his mind.

“There you are,” Anja said. “It looks like Battle found you.” Anja would find presumably two sets of startled eyes looking at him

“Your master sent me to come keep an eye on you,” Anja said. “He won't be able to make it for a while yet. You're to keep me company till he gets here. If he doesn't make it in time, I'll take you back.” Anja used a note of command that was unfamiliar for the Drykas. He had never owned a slave, but he knew how people spoke to them. He looked the woman in the eyes calmly, but he silently beseeched her: play along.

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