Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Shiress encounters a mysterious rose seller (challenge thread)

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Postby Shiress on May 23rd, 2021, 9:12 pm

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Shiress watched with an ever-growing frown tilting her lips as a little girl, no older than nine or ten years old skip up to a table covered in white roses, drop a few coins into the seller's hand, and skip off the way she had come with a rose. But not just any rose, a rosebud. A gorgeous, perfectly form rosebud with snuggly closed petals resting atop a bed of three or four leaves, and a long, thornless stem. Nothing seemed overtly wrong with the rose, or the transaction between the little girl and the seller, but if you had been sitting and watching this table for as long as Shiress had been doing, you would notice that something was very...off.

One thing that caught Shiress's attention was the fact that the majority of the roses stacked up on the tabletop were, in fact, buds, but it was the other roses that Shiress watched like a cat would a canary. These roses were fully bloomed, with open petals. Beautiful really. But where the white rosebuds littered the table, there were only a few of the fully bloomed roses. About half a dozen, if Shiress were to hazard a guess, and they were all stacked more toward the corner of the table, away from the rosebuds.

Shiress had been standing close enough to the table to overhear that the woman selling the roses was asking the same price for both, but before she would select a rose for exchange of payment, the older woman would scrutinize the buyer for a moment before choosing which rose to give. This may have caught Shiress's attention, but it was the tattooed covered, greasy haired rough looking woman that had barged past Shiress to follow a man that had just received one of the fully bloomed roses that had truly caused Shiress to take notice. Not because she thought it odd, but because it had happened twice more while she stood near the table.

Each time the old woman gave out a large rose, someone would break away from the milling crowd and head off in the same direction the buyer of the larger rose had gone. How very odd.

So, for the last bell, Shiress had meandered a short distance away, hopped on a vacated table, and just...watched.

The seller, a short, round, silver-haired woman, who incidentally reminded Shiress of what a witch from a story might look like, complete with warts and a pointed nose, had given out two larger roses, and each time, sure enough, another dodgy looking body would break free of the crowd in pursuit. That meant the seller had two roses left, and Shiress was determined to figure out what it was about those she selected for the rosebud versus those she selected for the larger rose.

Shiress thought she might know.

To test this theory, though, she needed someone to...there!

Hopping down from the table, Shiress pulled a handful of copper coins, much more than the asking price, from her purse and made her way across the road to where a beggar sat slumped against a wall and knelt down before him.

"Hello." she said and waited for glassy, bloodshot eyes to focus on her. "I need a favor, and if you do it for me, the rest of the coins are yours."

The man nodded, shuffling awkwardly to his feet, and Shiress had to fight back a gag at the overwhelming stench of old ale and sweat wafting off the man.

"Whatta gotta do?" he asked, licking his parched lips and eyeing the fistful of coins in Shiress's hand.

"Just go buy a rose." she indicated the table with her chin "That's it, just buy a rose and then.." she grimaced "go get yourself another bottle of whatever it is you drink."

The man hesitated a tick but finally held out his hand, and Shiress dumped the coins into fingerless gloves and watched as he stumbled off. Just as she suspected, not a chime later, the man was handed a rosebud and waddled off toward a tavern. There was only one large rose left, and Shiress, at last, knew exactly what was going on.

Coin purse in hand, Shiress walked over to the table, making a show of rattling the coins in their pouch.

"One rose, please." she said, and watched in satisfaction as the last rose was handed over to her, and it was all she could do not to give the woman an 'Im-on-to-you' grin as she stepped away, eyes scanning the area for the Waveguard.

It wasn't until she realized that there were no Waveguard in the area that she concluded that maybe, just maybe, she had just gotten a tad in over her head. Looking down at the rose, Shiress swallowed. Hard. Glancing around, she waited for whatever ruffian had just marked her to make their move.

Flight or fight?



~Word count - 882

Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Postby Shiress on May 24th, 2021, 1:02 am

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Shiress had truly and irrevocably stepped in it.

It didn't take a genius to see that the oh-so-smart doctor had put little to no thought into her actions. Shiress was no investigator, or detective, or crime fighter in any way one might describe it, and starting from this day forward, she would stick to doing what she did best: keeping her nose in her own business.

The one thing she did get right was her guess the old croon was using the larger flowers to signal her gang that she had them a mark. The roughnecks would then follow the rose and...what? Rob the person? Kill them? Shiress gulped. Maybe she could just give them her coin purse and be done with it. Somehow she didn't think her stupidity would get her out of this one. And she was alone. Completely alone. Would it be impossible for a god to bless her and let Caspian waltz by? Maybe Taalviel?

No, the longer Shiress stood there, the thinner the crowd became, and there was no one around that would help her. Where was the petching Waveguard when you needed them?

The more she thought about it, the more Shiress concluded that the old seller set up her table at just the right time and just the right place to avoid the authority. If she would have had given all this just half a tick's intelligent thought, she may have realized it before she decided to be a wannabe detective. As it was, Shiress found herself between a rock and an even bigger rock.

For the last half bell, Shiress had kept herself in the company of anyone and everyone she could find. Even standing in groups as if she was a part of them until she got a weird look, and the groups eventually edged away. Even the criminal flower seller had packed up and vacated the area.

Now, only Shiress, a couple of other vendors, and...oh gods, was that the robber leaning up against that empty table, staring at her with a wickedly knowing leer? Shiress studied the female as best she could without outright staring at her. She was small and wiry, wearing dirty and stained pants that ended at the knees and a threadbare shirt that reminded Shiress of Sunberth's homeless kids, and she looked just as dangerous. Her hair was red, shaved all around her head except for a thick patch of auburn curls spiked out in all directions around her temples, and the number of piercing the young girl had dotting her face and lining her ears would rival a Myrian's.

She caught Shiress's scrutiny, smiled a dirty toothed smile, then glanced around. When her eyes met Shiress's again, the redhead gave a subtle shake of her head. Shiress frowned at her. What was she shaking her head for? Telling Shiress not to do anything stupid? Well, it was way past time for that.

Shiress had a decision to make before she ended up finding herself alone with this girl. And it was made for her when the girl kicked herself off the table and began to stroll leisurely toward Shiress. Shiress backed herself up, darting a panicked look around, but still no Waveguard. the petchers.

From the corner of her eye, she spotted another person, this time a male, just as rough-looking, with just as many piercings, but this guy didn't have a lock of hair on his head, easing himself out between some tables, and Shiress realized they were trying to flank her. So, she did the only she could think to do.

Shiress turned and ran.


~Word count - 775


Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Postby Shiress on May 24th, 2021, 2:38 am

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It occurred to Shiress, as she rounded a rather sharp corner, dodged a kid sitting in a mudpuddle, caused another kid to lose his basket of bread (sorry little fella), and all but flattened an old man bending to pick up his yowling cat, that she was getting entirely too old for this. It was somehow easy for her to find the humor in the running from two would-be robbers that were probably half Shiress's age and still twice as dangerous. The thought rankled. But Shiress wasn't about to stop and think it over, nor was she going to take her chances, even if they were nothing but kids. Shiress had spent far too much time in Sunberth watching kids barely old enough to appreciate the opposite sex shank a grown man and think nothing of it.

Shiress skidded to a stop, leaning heavily against a wall, chest heaving like a bellows. She was running out of ground. Quite literally, and unless she wanted to dive off the dock and swim for it, she was going to have to cut through an alleyway, and Shiress hated alleyways. She rarely came out the other side unscathed, but this time she had no choice.

With a couple of more deep breaths, she took off at a jog into the shadowed corridor, praying that, for once, the alley gods would be on her side. For once, Shiress thought she was going to make it, her pace speeding up with the end in sight, but, of course, just before Shiress broke from the mouth of the alleyway, the male stepped around the corner, breathing heavily. Shiress spun around, readying herself to dash back the way she had come, but the female stepped around the other end, her chest also heaving. Well, at least Shiress gave the little pricks a run for their money, anyway.

Behind her, the thud of a foot stepped alerted her that the boy was advancing. Shiress turned sideways, keeping both the boy and the girl in her sight, her hair whipping back and forth across her shoulders like it was caught in some confusing breeze. Between the two of her attackers, Shiress thought she'd have better chances with the female, even if the girl looked like she'd rip a bite of steak straight off the cow. Oddly though, the girl hadn't moved from her spot while the boy steadily gained ground. Shiress sidestepped in the direction of the redhead, hand inching down her leg to hitch up the hem of her skirt to unsheath the dagger strapped around her thigh.

That's right, you petchers, I fight back.

The boy's step faltered slightly, but he resumed his steady pace. The girl still hadn't moved, and Shiress noticed that she watched the boy and not her. Waiting for a signal, maybe? It didn't matter either way because right then, Shiress tripped over a broken piece of chair and stumbled. Both ends of the alleyway came alive with movement as both the girl and the boy raced forward. The boy was closer, and Shiress instinctively turned toward him, having no other choice but put her back to the charging female behind her.

Four or five long strides was all it took for him to reach her, and with ease that would later embarrass Shiress, he knocked the dagger out of her hand and leveled a backhanded blow against her face. Shiress staggard backward and would have fallen if it wasn't for the girl finally reaching her and wrenching her arms back behind her. Shiress bowed forward, and the girl used the momentum to roll across Shiress's back and plant both of her feet into the boy's chest, slamming him back and onto the ground. A swift kick to the head, and the kid didn't move again.

Shiress stared up in bewilderment at the redheaded girl from the spot where she fell on her ass. The girl studied the unconscious attacker a tick longer, then turned to Shiress, jerking out a hand to help her up. The full-bodied flinch was something Shiress wasn't proud of, but she accepted the hand offered and was pulled to her feet as if she weighed nothing. Upon closer look, the female was, in fact, not a kid but a very, very young-looking and stout woman. Shiress's mouth worked, but for the life of her, she could say a thing.

The woman just laughed, clapping Shiress on the shoulder like they'd been friends for years.

"I tried to tell you not to run."






~Word count - 823

Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
Posts: 839
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Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Postby Shiress on May 24th, 2021, 3:28 am

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"I'm Lieutenant Angel DeClark of the Zeltiva Wave Guard." The would-be attacker said as she stepped past Shiress. The Lieutenant made her way to the end of the alley, raised her hand to her mouth, and let loose one of the loudest whistles Shiress had ever heard. "We've been watching Mama Rose for quite some time now." she grinned at Shiress as she made her way back. "I saw you watching her, and I saw your plan before you even approached the table, but I couldn't risk blowing my cover to try and stop you."

Shiress felt her cheeks heat.

"How was I supposed to know that?"

Angel just shrugged, still grinning, and turned just as a handful of others invaded the alley.

"For each person that you observed leaving the crowd to follow those with a rose, two of my guys were on them."

Angel bent and scooped up Shiress dagger from the dirt and offered it to her hilt first.

"Eli there," she motioned to the still motionless boy, "was the last of them. Mama Rose had as many ruffians as roses, is my guess. They were all set to meet in a warehouse in town to go through their loot."

Shiress watched as two of the Wave Guards lifted a moaning Eli and carted him out of the alley. She turned back to the Lieutenant, who watched absently as her men worked.

"I apologize for stepping into something I had no business stepping into. I knew something wasn't right, and before I knew it, I was looking around for the Wave Guard and when I didn't see any, I guess I kind of panicked. Did you ever captcher the woman, Mama Rose"

The redhead smiled. "We were there, and we saw you. And no, we have yet to get our hands on that slippery old woman, but it's only a matter of time." Angel leaned in, placing a gentle hand on Shiress's back and lowering her voice. "Next time, don't be so quick to judge a book by its cover."

Before Shiress could tell the Lieutenant that there definitely wouldn't be a next time, Angel pulled something out of her bag and held it out.

"You..uh..dropped your rose."

Shiress snatched the rose out of the woman's hand, listening as she walked away cackling, and was tempted to throw the thing on the ground and stomp it a few times, but it was truly a beautiful white rose.

Lifting the flower to her nose, Shiress took in the rose's sweet scent and smiled--then immediately winced as the bruise forming on her cheek gave a not-so-subtle throb.

Shiress let the rose drop down by her side with a long heartfelt sigh as she made her way out of the alleyway.

"I petching hate alleys"


~Word count - 543


Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

Character sheet
User avatar
Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
Posts: 839
Words: 710222
Joined roleplay: January 25th, 2013, 7:01 pm
Location: Syliras
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Medals: 7
Featured Character (1) Featured Contributor (1)
Featured Thread (2) Mizahar Grader (1)
Overlored (1) Donor (1)


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