Solo [The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

(Job thread) Dovey attempts to navigate the chaos of Random Zulrav Day.

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

[The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

Postby Dovey on November 25th, 2018, 2:21 am

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66 Fall, 518 AV
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Just one sunny day, and the whole city went mad.

Dovey had heard the screams even from her dormitory upstairs, where she had passed an anxious afternoon, simultaneously hoping that Jane was not about to walk through the door to send Dovey downstairs, and praying that she would walk through it at all. When her fellow slave had at last slipped haggardly into the room, Dovey had jumped to her feet, full of questions - was Jane safe? She hadn't been hurt? What in the name of all that was - and here Jane had stopped her.

"They're calling it Zulrav Day," she'd said, flopping down upon her mattress with a whumph. "Because the weather's finally let up. Petchers with knives're running around waving them at everyone to get folk to pray. Be careful down there, girl - remember what I showed you."

And that was all Dovey could get out of her, despite peppering the older girl with questions for the next chime. At last Jane waved a limp hand in the direction of the door. "Go," she said. "Or Father Manowar'll be after your hide."

So Dovey went, practically tiptoeing down the hall towards the stairs, and hoping to all the gods that she was not about to get herself stabbed.

Of course, the general chaos had not kept the crowd at the Fish from their revelries. In fact she thought there might be more of them even than there usually were; the group clustered round one of the big tables looked about twice as large as the table could properly fit, and many of their number were standing, or else sitting amorously two to a chair. As Dovey hesitated on the second-to-lowest step, one of the men made eye contact with her.

"Hoy! Barmaid!" he shouted, his deep voice clear through the clamor. He waved an arm for her to come over to him.

Well. Into the fray she went, down through the crush of foul-smelling bodies moving wildly about the room. She hunched her shoulders about her ears and focused fiercely on her goal - that table, and the man who had summoned her.

In thirty ticks the crowd spat her out again, in a pocket of space just by the side of his chair. He looked her up and down with frank amusement. "Thought you'd been trampled!" he said, his words slurred just a touch. He held out an empty mug for her to take. "More ale then, lovie!"

Dovey took the mug delicately, not making contact with his hand, and was about to strike out for the bar when the man beside him tipped back in his chair to meet her eyes. "One for me too," he grunted, and the woman at his elbow added her request into the mix, and then that whole corner of the table was clamoring for ale.

"Make it a round," said the man who had spoken first, "on me!" which caused the rest to cheer, and Dovey to swallow a groan. That meant carrying a tray through this mess.

At least no one had pulled out a knife just yet. Maybe, at least, that particular piece of chaos had subsided.


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[The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

Postby Dovey on December 4th, 2018, 4:50 am

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66 Fall, 518 AV
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She tried to count them all quickly, but the constant motion of the crowds all around confused her efforts, and after a few moments she gave up. Better simply to bring back as many mugs as would fit on a tray, and hope that was enough. If it was more than was needed after all - well, she didn't think these folk would complain about a little extra ale.

She dove again into the turmoil of the crowd, squeezing between bodies in the direction of the bar. The air seemed almost muggy; it might have been summer, though upstairs she had been grateful for her blanket. She wished someone would douse the fire - but then the only light would come from the dim, smoky lanterns scattered about the room, and she would be lost in the semidark among this maze of unwashed humanity.

She pressed on, jaw tight. No glint of a knife yet in the chaos, and peering between those in front of her, she could just make out Ciranya standing tall and secure behind her bar. With a last quick push between a drunken staggering fellow and the woman leaving his side as hastily as she might, Dovey came to harbor between the barstools. "Ciranya!" she called, leaning on her forearms across the bar. "Cira! Cira!"

The bartender turned to her at last, a little furrow evident between her eyebrows. "Keep your hair on," she said, kindly enough. "What d'you need?"

"Tray full of ale," answered Dovey, rather breathless.

Ciranya raised her eyebrows. "How many mugs?"

"I thought, as many as'll fit." Dovey made a little noise of helplessness. "They wouldn't hold still for me to count them!"

Cira tsked and turned away, fetching a wide tray which she swiftly filled with squat wooden mugs. She gave Dovey a stern look as she poured out the ale. "That's eleven - and you charge them for eleven, hear? Don't let them stiff you!"

Dovey nodded, holding out her arms for the tray. Ciranya laid it in place, and immediately it tipped a bit, several trickles of ale making their escape over the rims of the cups. The barmaid steadied herself under the unexpected weight. She would have a time of it getting back through the crowd.

She pivoted sideways, moving her right arm so that it wrapped around the edge of the tray, with her elbow jutting protectively out in the direction of the crowd. Both hands pressed against the bottom of the tray, supporting the substantial weight; the fingertips of the right hand edged up around the shallow edge. Her wrist bent at an uncomfortable angle, but she didn't want to risk dropping her burden by repositioning it. Instead she squared her shoulders and, taking a breath for steadiness, moved gingerly out into the throng.

The throng closed around her. "Excuse me!" she began, out of lifelong habit - but Sunberth had formed some habits in her too, and she replaced the end of the pleasantry with an automatic "Watch it!" as a woman knocked into her elbow. The mugs rattled; Dovey braced her feet on the sticky floor. The woman gave her a white-eyed glance and plunged past unheeding.


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[The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

Postby Dovey on December 22nd, 2018, 7:56 pm

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66 Fall, 518 AV
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Steadying herself, Dovey went on. The crowd was thick and uncooperative; with her next step she claimed a narrow strip of open floor, and shoved ahead with her shoulder and elbow, cradling the tray snugly against her body. She had crossed about half the distance to the table she was serving.

Ahead of her, the motion of the crowd changed. Drinkers took the cups from their lips and moved sideways with willing alacrity, leaving the space before Dovey only sparsely occupied. Too focused on her mission to be suspicious, she hurried forward - and found her path blocked by a towering figure.

Dovey's eyes darted to the long blade the woman held cradled at her side, then up to her pale, steady eyes. At first she dared to imagine the woman had not seen her - her gaze went straight over Dovey's head, scanning the crowd behind the small barmaid. But as soon as she edged to the side the woman moved as well, blocking her retreat. The pale eyes met Dovey's.

"Seen a body run past here?" the stranger said. "A woman, short - well, taller than you."

"Yes, ma'am," Dovey said meekly. If this woman had some quarrel with the one who had shoved past her half a chime ago, she was not about to put herself at risk to protect the latter. "She went straight past me towards the bar."

"Hm." The woman regarded her impassively. "She ran from me rather than pray to Zulrav, if you can believe." She tapped the tip of her blade absently against her lip. "You can see why I'm after her."

Dovey nodded fervently. "How awful!"

"You wouldn't dream of doing a thing like that, I'm sure," the woman drawled. "All the same - " Her arm extended like a striking snake. The long knife now pointed directly at Dovey's throat. "Do it now."

"What?" Dovey tried to back away, but the woman followed, pressing the knife a little closer. Now its tip rested just above Dovey's collarbone. The crowd which had parted for the woman just a chime before coalesced into a tight circle around the two figures. Dovey's back was up against the living wall.

"You heard me," the woman said, with a jerk of her head. "Pray to Zulrav. This tick. Or I stab you."

Someone in the crowd let out a whoop.

Dovey nodded shakily. "Mighty Zulrav," she began, "your storms are, um, your storms are beyond the greatest magnificence. I - "

"Idiot!" the woman bellowed. Dovey flinched, nearly sticking herself on the blade at her throat. Ale slopped onto the tray in her arms.

"Don't praise his storms, you flea-ridden vagik!" the woman said. "We want 'em gone, not doubled! Pray right - and hurry up about it!"

Dovey drew in a shaky breath. She loved the storms. Could she lie to a god? But the knife at her throat was a threat she didn't dare defy. "Zulrav," she said, her voice very small, "please stop the storms this season."

She looked tremulously up at the woman, hoping that was enough to satisfy her. The woman watched her another moment - then she withdrew her knife and laughed. "Good girl," she said. "Now come with me."


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[The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

Postby Dovey on January 4th, 2019, 11:52 pm

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66 Fall, 518 AV
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"What - !" Dovey stuttered in shock. Come with the knife-wielding fanatic! She glanced about her, weighing her chances of escaping through a gap in the crowd before that blade could find her flesh. But no, she'd never manage it - not with this tray in her arms, bulky and unwieldy. "I can't," she said instead, giving the woman a pleading look. "I have to deliver these," she went on, hefting the tray full of foaming mugs. "Please let me do my work."

It was hopeless, she thought, looking into the woman's hard gray eyes. Yet what else could she do but beg? "Please," she began again, but the big woman shook her head with a humorless smirk.

"You're a right wet rat, you," she said, gesturing disdainfully with her knife. "Come on. Come. You walk beside me."

Petch it all. But with little choice, Dovey slunk forward to the place the woman had indicated.

They set out through the crowd, the woman forging a path for them both with far more ease than Dovey had experienced on her own. As they walked, Dovey stewed - she had been taken prisoner in her own tavern! Well - no - not her own. A twinge of alarm went through her, to find herself thinking that way. She mustn't grow attached to this place.

But in the very tavern where she worked, anyhow, this hooligan thought she could march Dovey off at knifepoint on a whim! Well, Dovey would not cooperate with her plots. She would not give the woman what she wanted, whatever that was - probably more vulnerable people to fill her prayers-to-Zulrav quota. Dovey offered up a silent prayer of her own, for Zulrav to flatten the awful woman's house with a thunderbolt.

They had nearly reached the bar by now, and Dovey saw Ciranya bustling about behind it, too busy to notice the little barmaid being herded along by the knife-wielding woman. Dovey tried to make eye contact, but the big woman closed a hand on her arm and dragged Dovey around to her other side, out of Cira's line of sight. More ale spilled onto the tray. "None of that," the woman growled. "This way."

They made for the farther end of the bar, near the big fireplace. Reflections from the flames danced along the blade in the woman's hand, which she held higher now in readiness. Another woman, whose dark hair was gathered into an elaborately braided bun, was perched sideways on the barstool closest to the wall, watching the crowd with wary eyes. She stood in alarm and took a pace backward as Dovey and the knife-wielding woman approached her.

"Echo," Dovey's captor snarled. Her weapon was trained on the dark-haired woman, but one hand still clutched Dovey's arm, strong as a vice. "Whole town's praying to Zulrav tonight. Why don't you join in."

Echo's lip curled; hate struggled with fear in her expression, but at last hate overcame. "What do you want from me now, you pig?"

The big woman took a step towards her, dragging Dovey alongside.


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Dovey
One unlucky girl
 
Posts: 270
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[The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

Postby Dovey on January 10th, 2019, 4:47 am

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66 Fall, 518 AV
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Dovey stumbled forward; the mugs rattled on the tray. Ale dripped onto the barmaid's boots.

"Get out of here," Echo went on, staring her adversary down with venom in her gaze. "i won't pray for what you want. I won't do a thing you want, woman. Never again."

Dovey's captor's fingers clenched around the hilt of her knife. "Too petching proud, you are!" she hissed. "But I've found you, you little shyke - pride can't save you from me. You'll do as I say now if you value your skin, and we'll start with this."

"You're demented," Echo said, her eyes following the tip of the knife as it swayed through the air.

Dovey entirely agreed. She dared a glance back in Ciranya's direction now that her captor was distracted, hoping the bartender would come to break up the conflict and rescue her. But Cira was passing out drinks at the far end of the bar, and her back was to Dovey.

She had to get out of this. This grudge-fueled confrontation had nothing to do with her; the sooner she was away from here, the lower her chances of leaving with a stab wound or three. But how - ? She could throw the tray in her arms at her captor and run, but that seemed like a good way to get herself carved up.

She gasped in pain; the big woman had clenched her hand around Dovey's arm, squeezing hard as she shoved her towards Echo. "I'll hurt the kid!" she hissed. "I will, if you don't do what I say!"

Dovey's stomach dropped. No more time for plans. "I'll convince her to pray!" she squeaked out.

The big woman glared down at Dovey. "Why the petch would she listen to you?"

"I'm, I'm very devout," said Dovey, floundering. "If she respects Zulrav - um - " shyke - "um, I expect I can persuade her you're right, and, and wise, to want her to ask him to send his storms away." She finished speaking in a rush and bit her lip, hard, while she waited for a response.

Her captor's eyes narrowed, darting back and forth between Dovey, who was a picture of terror, and Echo, whose expression had smoothed into impassivity. "Then persuade her," she said at last. "Or I will. She's soft - I bet I could make you squeak enough to break her heart."

Shyke, oxshyke, what do I petching - Dovey was tonguetied. Echo spoke, filling the deadly pause.

Enough," she said, lowering her eyes. "I'll do as you say."

Dovey looked at her captor, hoping to be released, but the woman only smiled grimly and shook her a little by the arm. "You make good leverage," she told her. Then, to Echo, "Well?"

"I'll pray," said Echo. "But a real prayer - somewhere quieter, so I won't be distracted." And when her adversary hesitated, she spread her hands in supplication. "You've already caught me! I don't want the girl hurt, but I won't mock the gods to appease you. Give me this one thing and I swear I'll do whatever you say."


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One unlucky girl
 
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[The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

Postby Dovey on January 16th, 2019, 3:17 am

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Their captor jerked her head. "Very well, then." She turned her attention back to Dovey. "Take us to some corner, girl. Some closet where we won't be disturbed."

Dovey's eyes flickered across the room. Up to the second floor, where in the hallways past the revelers she knew of several broom closets. To the door of the busy kitchen, full of underfed cooks and drudges. Then past the bar, to the mouth of a little corridor which led off to several cramped dining-rooms.

Her hands occupied, she pointed with her chin towards the corridor. "There."

The woman's grip shifted from Dovey's arm to the back of her neck; she put the point of her knife to Echo's back."March," she growled.

The three plowed through the crowd with the help of the big woman's intimidating stature, towards the corridor at the far side of the room - and towards the other end of the bar.

In a gap between the shabby-coated backs of patrons, Dovey caught a glimpse of the bartender at her station. Cira wouldn't spot Dovey easily through the thick of the crowd, short as the barmaid was - but if only they didn't swerve, Dovey would soon be near enough to catch her attention. She set her teeth and tried to make herself seem submissive, walking with steady steps and averting her eyes from the bartender she hoped would rescue her. She could not risk her captor becoming suspicious.

They pressed forward. Dovey looked cautiously backwards out of the corner of her eye; she couldn't see the knife, but by her captor's posture she still had it pressed to Echo's back. In a moment they would be moving directly past the customers Cira was serving.

Dovey stamped on her captor's toes and jerked forward, tearing free of the woman's grasp. The hand around the back of her neck fought to keep its hold on her; fingernails rasped against her skin, but Dovey had no focus to spare for the pain they left in their wake. She lurched into the crowd, shoulder-first, knuckles white around the edges of the tray she bore. The mugs slid across its ale-slick surface; a number of them tipped at the edge and crashed, one after another, to the floor.

"CIRA!" Dovey screamed.

She heard a curse snarled behind her, muted by the pounding blood in her ears. Her spine itched fiercely; she could practically feel where the knife would punch through her flesh. Her eyes were on Ciranya; she stumbled forward, watching desperately as the bartender's head snapped up to spot her. She felt a hand snatch at the back of her dress, and then it was pulled away.

Time was moving wrong. Cira was coming, dashing around the edge of the bar, but so agonizingly slowly - yet there didn't seem to be enough time for Dovey to think. Several people were shouting behind her - was Echo one of them? Was the knife-wielding woman?

Someone grabbed her wrist and spun her around like a top.


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"Common" "Fratava" "Pavi"
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Dovey
One unlucky girl
 
Posts: 270
Words: 221676
Joined roleplay: December 31st, 2016, 10:42 am
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[The Drunken Fish] Ale and Ultimatums

Postby Dovey on January 25th, 2019, 12:12 am

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66 Fall, 518 AV
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The tray dropped from Dovey's hands and fell to the floor, spilling its mugs with a clatter. Her heart jumped painfully and something shifted behind her eyes - she saw the world only in flashes, an indistinct looming form, the hand on her wrist yanking her forward. All her coiled fear and fury released itself, rushing to her muscles, pushing them to movement she had no time to second-guess -

She was hitting out wildly, knuckles meeting unyielding flesh, and a fist caught her high in the belly and now she was stumbling back, she was doubling over - time was resolving itself, returning to its normal speed.

She heard Cira's voice ahead of her, high and furious. "Are you punching the property of this tavern! Are you - "

Dovey curled around the cramping pain in her gut. The boots of customers shuffled reluctantly around her.

An indistinct number of moments later, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Dovey?" It was Cira. "Come on, get up," she said. "They've both been thrown out on their ears, don't worry. No broken bones?"

Dovey uncurled her spine, stretched her fingers, prodded gingerly at her ribcage. "No."

"Then get up, get up, before you trip somebody!" Cira extended a hand; Dovey took it, and clambered to her feet. Her gut ached, the muscles pulling at her to curl back into a ball; but her heart was still thrumming.

Cira leant down, deftly snatching the fallen tray from beneath a patron's descending foot. "I s'pose you'll need a new lot of drinks," she said laconically, holding the tray up by one corner.

Dovey nodded, sucking her teeth. She'd actually forgotten about the rowdy group still waiting for their ale - and they were bound to be chafing at the delay. Her trouble wasn't over.

Cira glanced over her shoulder. "I need to get back to the bar. Come with me." She strode off, clearing a path by what seemed sheer force of personality, and Dovey followed in her wake.

Manowar was behind the bar. Dovey bit her lip when she saw him - his face was stormy - but he gave her a glance that almost amounted to kind, and turned to leave as Cira took his place at the bar. She dropped Dovey's tray to the counter and caught up a pitcher of ale, filling mugs with practiced efficiency as Dovey squeezed as near as she could get between jostling customers. Soon the tray, filled again from edge to edge with mugs of ale, was pressed into Dovey's arms.

She wanted to linger; she was in no hurry to face those customers who had been kept waiting for so long. "Cira?" she said.

"What?" Cira flapped her hands at the barmaid. "Go on, you've taken long enough!"

Dovey pressed her lips together, nodded, and turned away, trying to keep the muscles of her belly from cramping around her injury, as she gathered herself under the weight of the tray in her arms. Do you think I hurt that woman? she had been going to ask.

Just as well she hadn't been able to; the answer would probably have been no. But even so it had been - good - to have the chance to stop groveling and just hit back.

Her mouth twisted. Here she was, going off to grovel again.


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Dovey
One unlucky girl
 
Posts: 270
Words: 221676
Joined roleplay: December 31st, 2016, 10:42 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Mixed
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