Blood of the Hunted

Bron and Kopesha meet

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

Blood of the Hunted

Postby Bronwen on August 17th, 2020, 3:07 am

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45th Day
Summer 520



Bron's knuckles pounded on the wooden door.

Wait...why am I here again? She paused, thinking, head pounding in sync with her knuckles on the door.

Oh yeah...

Startled, Bron rocked back a step as the wood in front of her face flew inward. In the doorway, a body was silhouetted by the bright torchlight spilling out. Bron squitted, wincing as the shining light caused her head to pulse with pain.

"Yeah, what ya want?" The figure shifted, blocking the brightness, and Bron got a good look at her greeter. It was an older woman, ancient by Bron's reckoning. The first thing the Syliran noted was how short the woman was; barely reaching Bron's chest. The second was the fact she had only one eye, and the third was that the elderly woman was bald, save several patches of white hair atop a rounded scalp.

"Ya deaf?"

Bron jumped, startled as if she had never expected the woman to speak again. "N-no, Ma'am, I just.." she hesitated, trying to gather her thoughts, "I met a man last night and he..at Pig Foot's..he told me he might be here?" The end of Bron's words came off as a question, but the addled girl added, "um, I need to talk to him." Bron paused, pleased with herself that she had actually made sense, only to have the old bat scowl at her just before the door slammed in her face.

Twisting her staff around to her front, Bron took a step backward, turned, and stumbled to a nearby tree stump that she promptly sat-fell onto, rubbing at her temples. The night before was a mystery of loss memory, all but that man. The man she had been looking for, the one that she thought lived here. The girl sighed, resting elbows on knees.

Since her Father, Matrim, had left to return to Syliras Bron's life in Sunberth had taken a turn for the...what's worse than worse, Bron wondered. Such a big girl she was, refusing to leave Sunberth with her father, demanding he trusts that she was adult enough to make it on her own, survive, and stay out of trouble. Little did the Knight commander know that the family he had entrusted his daughter's care with would suddenly up and leave Sunberth merely half a season after his own departure. Bron kept her word, however, obtaining a job and her own place to live.

Both at a brothel.

Bron cringed.

Her father didn't have to know that, right?

The first and last thought Matrim Druva would have after hearing the news would be 'brothel' all other rational thought would cease to exist with the man, right along with any explanation from his daughter.

"But, Father, I have a job!"

"At a brothel!!"

"But, Father, I'm a guard."

"At a brothel!!"

"But, Father, I have a place to live."

"At a brothel!!"

Bronwen groaned aloud at the thought, bringing new agony to her aching head.

The man wouldn't listen to his daughter explain that she was saving up, planning on getting herself out of the small, damp room she had called home for four moons. He wouldn't even let her begin to explain how she had foolishly gone out alone in the city after dark and had gotten 'accidentally' robbed and thoroughly beaten. He would snatch her up and march her back home to Syliras, he would.

"Not going to happen." she mumbled.

She needed to find the one who had been helping her. The man -or was it a woman- Maybe it was a woman. Gods be damned, why couldn't she remember?! One thing remained driven into her memory, though, and that was what he -or she- had given her. It had made her, oh gods, it had made her better, so much better than better! All pain vanished, taking all her worry, hunger, and even her anger right along with it, disappearing within the mind-numbing haze. The bad part? Damn shyke took her memory too.

The "medicine," as Bronwen preferred to call it, transformed her into a different person altogether. This day, though, it had all came crashing back down on her; pain, anger, doubt, exhaustion. Even her empty belly mocked her. Bron needed a bit more. Just to get through work. Just to stay on her feet. Just to help her sleep. Just to help her wake up. Just to help her function.

Bron just needed that petcher, or, at the very least, find someone else who might have some before she is to report to work.

Work.

Work!

Bronwen's eyes snapped skyward, judging the time and saw that she had run out of it. With an unladylike curse, she stood, staggered, regained herself, and wandered off in the direction of Happy Endings. She'd just have to make due until she could find what she needed. Soon.

The brothel was nearly empty when Bron staggered through the door. However, several customers were already being serviced, judging by the two closed doors and the overly enthusiastic moaning coming from beyond them. Bronwen took her usual post, sliding into the shadows of the sitting room, just beyond the entrance of the brothel. It gave her a good vantage point, and she could see who came and went easily enough.

Clad in a dark leather vest, pants, and boots, hair pulled tight into a ponytail, Bron slumped into the monotonous quiet of the establishment, quarterstaff slung through a shoulder strap. It was tedious work, guarding whores, making sure the customers pay, and their petching time remains peaceful. Today there were three guards on duty; Bronwen, Archer, and Luke. Archer was a short -by Bron's reckoning- bald man, but what the man lacked in height, he more than made up in muscle. Luke was Archer's opposite, tall and lithe, with long dark hair down to his backside that he kept in a long braid.

Neither man was within sight of Bronwen, which suited her sour mood just fine.

The old wooden door of the brothel groaned on ancient metal hinges as two cloaked males strolled through the entrance. Something about the pair had Bronwen straightening, attention narrowing in on them as they were greeted by one of the younger workers. She studied the newcomers carefully, unsure of where the uneasy feeling they rendered her as the worker guided them toward the stairwell.

As they passed by close to where she stood, the guard got a good look at one of the men's shadow cloaked faces and felt her own eyes go wide.

Bron could have sworn that his eyes were the color of rubies.




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Blood of the Hunted

Postby Kopesha on August 17th, 2020, 3:52 am



The sound of Tawna filled the air, as Kopesha and her new friend, Kechwa chattered back and forth in their native tongues. Neither had seen another of their kind in seasons, and had a lot to catch up on. They were from different tribes, but at the end of the day they were sisters of the crow. They prattled on and on about their journeys this far, taking the time to laugh, to have those quiet somber moments, and otherwise find comfort in each other.

But all things come to too short of an end.

Kechwa needed to get to her job.

"What's a brothel?"

A sly grin grew on Kechwa's face, "Tell you what, come be my first customer of the day and I'll show you exactly what it is all about." Kopesha shrugged, she had already finished her hunting for the day, so she didn't have much else to do. Her new friend grabbed her hand and started dragging her down the road, and Kopesha could only laugh at her friend's enthusiasm.

Soon, she was dragging Kopesha into another Sunberthan shithole, but nearly every building looked like that. What she stepped into though, caused her to visibly flinch. The room was god awful ugly, big paintings and red fabric all around. Kechwa turned, whispering into Kopesha's ear, "I know, it's hideous, just don't say that to anyone."

It was summer, so Kopesha didn't seem to notice anything wrong with the scantily clad men and women strewn about. It was hot in here after all. Kechwa pulled Kopesha up some stairs, past a short guard and a tall guard, both men. She dragged Kopesha into a room that was far more tastefully decorated than the main entryway, with a bed being the most prominent feature. "Four golds, up front, and I promise you the best time. But you need to trust me on this. Can you do that?"

Kopesha still wasn't entirely sure what was going on, as she pulled the coins from her coin purse, handing them over to Kechwa. The woman set them on a dresser nearby, slowly strutting her way back over to Kopesha. She brought a hand to her cheek, holding it tenderly, softly, very different than the last person who had held her face. Kechwa pressed her lips against Kopesha's, who allowed herself to kiss her back. Kechwa's free hand was already expertly disrobing Kopesha who had now caught on to what this was. Kechwa guided Kopesha to the bed, lying her down, "Close your eyes and let your river flow, Raindancer."

Some time later, a clothed Kopesha and robed Kechwa opened the door from the room, both wearing soft smiles, as Kopesha absent mindedly walked into a wall. Kechwa started giggling as Kopesha looked up, way up, to realize the wall was a woman. A really tall woman. Kechwa, still laughing, "Sorry about that Bronnie hun. This is my friend Kopesha. Kopesha, this is Bron, she takes care of all of us here, keeps us safe. Such a sweetheart."

Kopesha smiled, trying to not show her surprise at how big this woman was. But that usually wasn't an issue with humans and such, usually only Chaktawe could really tell what was going on in each other's eyes. Kopesha could see that the woman's intense stare was fixed on something else though, and she turned to follow her gaze. A pair of cloaked men walked by, led by a young woman. She cast her eyes on the men, again, aided by the fact that none could see the pupils of the Chaktawe, watching openly as they passed. One had a bit of hair slouched across his shoulders, black, but as it shifted in the light, she watched it shimmer in greens and blues. They disappeared into a room with the woman, both wearing feral grins. In her post-Kechwa mirth, she ooh'ed, speaking in Tawna to the woman, "Did you see how pretty his hair was? Like a crow's, but changed blue and green."

"Really? I didn't see it. Are... are you sure?"

Kechwa was nervous now at that information, being a lot more informed about the current state of the world than Kopesha. She looked up at Bron, "Hey Bronnie, did you notice anything odd about those two?"

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Blood of the Hunted

Postby Bronwen on August 18th, 2020, 9:16 pm

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Bron's attention was so intently zeroed in on the backs of the departing strangers, she hadn't registered Kechwa's voice until the men passed out of sight. Bron turned back to her coworker, only then noting she wasn't alone. The female held a remarkable likeness to Kechwa; the same dark skin and hair. She even had the same, near pupilless black eyes as her friend.

"Sorry, Keke," she laid an apologetic, though trembling, hand on Kechwa's arm before extending it toward Kopesha, dipping her head slightly in greeting. "It's nice to meet you, Kopesha. I'm Bron." Letting go of the woman's hand, Bron took a step away, turning back toward where the two strangers had disappeared up the stairs. "I did actually. she replied. "One, the taller one, he had red eyes. Eyes the color of rubies." Bron shook her head "I've never seen the like before."

A small gasp from Kechwa had Bronwen turning back to look at her, eyebrows drawing down in a wordless question. Kechwa grabbed hold of the guard's arm, pulling her further away from the stairs, voice pitched low. "The odd-colored eyes, the shining hair, Bron." When Bron only stared at her, she continued, "They are Vantha!"

It took a moment for Bron to realize what that meant, then her eyes went wide. "Vantha? Are you sure?" Kechwa nodded, nervous energy filling her dark features. Bron's mouth worked a tick wordlessly then asked, "But the bounty, why would they come here? Why would they chance it?"

Before the whore could answer, the sound of a door slamming hard against a wall and angry shouting traversed ominously down the stairs. Bron took a step forward, pulling her staff up and over her shoulder, but froze at the sound of a body hitting the stairs and rolling toward her. Bron watched, horrified, as a tall form fell from the last step, sprawling before her, blood staining his front in a widening circle.

"Luke!

The bastard was always the greedy one.

Bron rushed forward, not thinking clearly, and was about to kneel by her fallen coworker when another figure, this one still cloaked, came barrelling down the stairs, jumping to the floor from about midway up. Bron saw the short sword swing around about a tick before it's pommel slammed into her head, knocking her to her ass, as the Vantha raced past her.

Stars exploded in Bron's head, darkening her sight. She lost several long ticks before she managed to clear her head enough to shakily regain her feet. Just as she straightened, another figure came charging down the stairs straight at her. Bron took a step back, readying her stance, long legs straight and spread, her quarterstaff gripped diagonally before her, hip to shoulder, right to left. A battle stance.

Bron grinned.

The Vantha stopped his momentum several steps from the floor. Bronwen's grin slid from her face, replaced by a steely determination as he, too, poised himself into a similar stance, looking for all the world like he knew how to use the sword gripped in his right fist, a near twin to his comrade's. The man descended the last few steps slowly, eyes never leaving Bron, obliging Bron to take several matching steps back, her eyes never leaving him.

The man charged, sword held high for a downward thrust. Bron waited for him to come to her, and when he was two steps from his target, she thrust her right hand up, blocking the blow with her staff. Using the momentum, with knees bending into a crouch, Bron turned a complete circle before angling the end of the staff low to take out the Vantha's legs. The man jumped, clearing Bron's blow and aimed the blade in backhanded slashed at her belly. Bron thrust her staff up, forcing the man's sword arm up and away, pivoted in a half-circle, and shoved the end of the staff into the Vantha's stomach, who now stood behind her.

Too closely behind her.

The man's free arm came up with a backhanded blow across Bron's face. The force of the blow turned her body around, and she had to catch herself against the wall. She recovered in time to see the man speed past her. Bron knelt, driving the quarterstaff between the fleeing Vantha's ankles and he went down, belly first, arms splayed, but the bastard somehow managed to keep a hold of his sword. Three long steps toward him, Bron aimed a killing blow for the back of the man's neck, but he rolled, kicking up a foot into Bronwen's side.

Bron flew back, all air vacating her lungs as she hit the floor flat on her back, pain radiating from her ribs to between her shoulder blades. Gasping, she made it to hands and knees and peered sideways through a curtain of strewed hair toward where the Vantha had fled and saw neither man. With a groan, Bron rolled again to her back, panting painful breaths in and out of struggling lungs.

"Lukes dead." The smooth, feminine voice spoke past the bells sounding off in Bron's head. Turning her head, she saw Brega stepping over Luke's still form, Daisy, the young worker, on her heels.

Even stepping over a corpse, the woman moved elegantly. Stopping beside Bron, the brothel owner held out a hand. Bron took it and pulled herself, painfully, to her feet, chest heaving, where she immediately placed hands on knees, lungs filling, but slowly. Brega turned to face Keke and her friend, sadness in her eyes. Speaking, Brega addressed Kopesha.

"My deepest apologies." she gave a slight bow of her head, but not before noting the blood staining Kopesha's mouth and the bruises forming, "Seems your time here has not ended as it should have. I will see that your coin is returned to you, in faith that you will someday see fit for our company again."

Eyes sliding to Keke, Brega dipped her head once, hard, knowingly, by way of an order. Turning back toward Bron, Brega straightened her back, hands forming fists by her side.

"You bring those Vantha filth back here, and I will reward you 200 gold per soul returned and see that you receive the bounty as well. There are two of them, find someone to help, and I'll do likewise for them."

Lifting the hem of her skirt to her ankles, Brega crossed the floor to kneel by Luke's side.

Bronwen stumbled-stepped to stand in front of Kechwa and her friend. Lifting a hand, Bron ran her thumb across Kopesha's bottom lip, wiping away a line of blood.

"Are you ok?"



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Blood of the Hunted

Postby Kopesha on August 18th, 2020, 10:37 pm



Kopesha shook the large woman's hand, still finding the practice to be strange. It wasn't something they did back in her tribe. Northerners, what a weird lot. Red eyes, Kopesha hadn't ever seen nor heard of such a thing either. Kopesha took in all the information from the fast back and forth between Kechwa and Bron, but wasn't sure what to do with it. She'd heard of Vantha, and she had heard that they were wanted around the world, to do with Morwen's, and winter's, disappearance.

She jumped a bit as a door slammed nearby, and she looked toward where it came from. A man fell upon the steps, nearly landing atop Bron in the process. Kopesha's eyes were wide and her post-coital mirth was evaporating quickly. She was a bit slow, unsure of what was happening so quickly. Just as fast, a cloaked man struck Bron, sending her backwards.

A hand gripped her shoulder, and she heard Kechwa's native tongue speaking, "You need to get out of here! It's too dangerous!" Kopesha turned, pulling her knife from her cloak, "Get into your room. Bar the door. I'll be fine." Kopesha turned, seeing Bron in combat with another cloaked man. Kopesha rushed down the opposite set of stairs, directly toward the other cloaked man. He was busy brandishing his knife at workers and patrons as he kept the entryway clear for escape.

He saw Kopesha coming, and raised his own knife. Kopesha wasn't thinking, but she knew this place was important to Kechwa and that was more than enough for her. She brought the outside edge of her angle knife down in a chop. The man side stepped it, stabbing out at her. He was equally poor with his knife as Kopesha was with hers and missed, not judging her momentum forward well. She turned, going for a wild upward slash that he stepped back from. Her blade had a bit more reach than his little knife, so he was hesitant to step in close. She slashed again and he reached out, cutting her across the arm. She hissed as she barreled in closer to him, and that's when his skull collided hard with her nose. She saw stars and fell.

The man shouted, and him and his companion were out the door. Kopesha was blinking away the pain, only now seeing Bron in a heap, but alive, too. Kechwa was at Kopesha's side, taking her arm and helping her to her feet, as Brega and Daisy approached. So much had happened so quickly. The woman was talking about coins, and Kopesha shook her head, "Coin is coin. Kechwa keep." And she would not take no for an answer on that point.

Bron was there, wiping away blood from Kopesha's lip, as the Chaktawe felt a fury raging within her. She carried Chokaji's passion now in life and had her own to mix with it, and she was not going to let this stand. She growled at Bron, "We go. Now."

She pushed her way out the front door, looking north and south up the street. She didn't see either man, but one of the advertising woman out front pointed to the north. Kopesha sheathed her knife, began looking at the ground. There were a lot of prints, but theirs were easy to identify. Where every other print was soft and shallow, two sets were deeper, heavily pushing off the ground. Running. Once identified, she followed after them, heading north along the river that flowed out of town. She didn't run, conserving her energy, focusing on keeping a tight grip on their tracks.

When she finally looked up, it was when she realized she'd just stepped out of town and was on the bank of a bend in the river. And the footprints were following it further north, into the wilderness. She didn't have her supplies, her pack. She had a knife, a cloak, her clothes, a coinpurse, and Bron. It was a dangerous gamble. One she had taken only one time before, to lay her husband to rest. But the men they were chasing also didn't have supplies. And she was confident that she could survive on the land long enough to pursuit and capture them.

Turning to Bron, she spoke to her the same way her own mother, the way her husband had spoken to her when it came to treating the wilderness with respect. "Wilderness more danger than city. I know forest. If you want go back, I go alone. If come with, you listen me. No listen, we die." She paused, "I will hunt. I will find." Kopesha took her knife, cutting a strip of cloth from the bottom of her skirt, wrapping it around her forearm where she'd been wounded, tying it tight with the aid of her teeth. She flipped her cloak around, so that the black feathers were now on the outside, clasping it around herself. She raised the hood, looking northward, steeling herself for the most challenging hunt she'd undertaken yet.

A crime against a Chaktawe was a crime against them all.


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