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

An unexpected visitor

Postby Milo Murrell on May 29th, 2021, 1:46 am

An unexpected visitor.
75th of Spring 521AV

It was a strange feeling to be standing on land again. After countless days spent aboard the Stormbreaker he still felt the undulating motion of the sea in his legs and the mainland seemed to gently shift under his feet. He’d never learned the true name of the gruff, large man that had protected him along the way and he wasn’t sure if Graymane even remembered it himself. The exiled knight turned hired-blade hadn’t said much on the long journey from Ravok, not in the way of the common tongue, but he’d sang a few songs with his old reliable, dangling from his leather belt in its sheath.

“Any place I could find lodgings?” Milo asked when Graymane came up beside him. The old man brushed some long strands out of his face and tucked them behind his ears. He looked around, squinted against the sun, then pointed a thick finger dead ahead. “Just down west street there should be a place called the world’s end grotto.”

Milo wasn’t sure he wanted to go to the world’s end, it didn’t sound very comforting, but since Graymane listed no alternatives he didn’t have much of a choice. The old man must've sensed his hesitation, his reluctance to leave the relative familiarity of the ship and his travel companions behind. Not that he'd taken a particular liking to any of them, but it was better than being alone in a large city teeming with strangers and sinners.

"Don't worry boy, Zeltiva is a safe place so long as you stay clear of the east street and that sewage water they call kelp beer," Graymane said, his voice rough from lack of use. "If you find yourself thinking it doesn't taste so bad, it's time to go somewhere else."

Milo thought he spotted a faint smile on the old man's weathered, wrinkled face before it vanished behind his impressive grey beard. "Right then, I best be on my way," the old mercenary said. He hoisted a great big rucksack onto his shoulder, gave a firm handshake and a quick pat on Milo's shoulder, before turning on his heel and disappearing into the bustling crowd of new arrivals and dockworkers.

Milo puffed his cheeks and tried to ignore the sudden, crushing weight that pressed down on him. Zeltiva had looked impressive from afar, but it was even more overwhelming up close. A soft breeze carried the briny smell of the sea, played with his hair and gave him a gentle nudge forward. No point standing around. Back in Ravok he had sometimes played a game trying to spot outsiders new to the city. It wasn't hard, they often just looked like lost fools and he imagined he looked much the same now.

He walked in the general direction Graymane had pointed out to him, took in the many dazzling sights and followed the general flow of the crowd until his neck hurt from gawking up at all the tall buildings in the city. All those days spent at sea must've messed with his sense of time because when he came up to the sign of The World's End Grotto, it felt like he'd sleepwalked the entire way.

The structure looked out of place to its surroundings, even to the untrained eye, like someone had hastily put it together out of whatever rocks they'd been able to find nearby. Still, the promise of a fresh, hot meal was more than enough to dismiss the odd appearance without much thought. Milo remembered his last few meals all too well, hard tack with more hard tack on top, sprinkled with crushed hard tack. As soon as he pushed the door open and stepped inside he was hit with the smell of smoked fish, the sound of breaded fish-skin sizzling to a crisp in hot, bubbling butter, the smell of pipe weed, and the murmuring of dockworkers and learned men enjoying a few drinks at the end of a long day's work.

To his relief, no one seemed to pay him any mind when he made his way over to an empty table in the far corner of the inn and nestled into a chair He didn't carry much with him, but what he had he carefully put to the side, close enough so he could keep a good eye on it. Just as he remembered he'd come to find lodgings, not food, a woman armed with a bright smile and an apron tied around her waist came up to him.

"Welcome to the world's end," she said with a the kind of trained smile that made Milo suspect she'd gotten slightly tired of any jokes to do with the place's name. "What can I get you?"

"Something to eat," Milo said, tumbling over the words. Back in Ravok his mother had always done the cooking, sometimes with his help, but she'd never asked him what he had wanted to eat. On the journey to Zeltiva it hadn't been any different, he'd just gotten a portion of whatever was available and occasionally had helped peeling potatoes or skinning what others had hunted. "What- what do you have?"

The woman looked him over, her smile never faltered but Milo suddenly became very aware how travel-worn he must have looked to her and for perhaps the first time in his life wished he could wash up.

"We have a variety of fish on the menu, all freshly caught from Matthew's bay, with mashed potatoes and green beans on the side. We've got sturgeon, cod, salmon, bass, shrimps, and if I'm not mistaken there was a batch of crab too this morning."

Milo blinked helplessly at the woman.

"I can recommend breaded cod for newcomers," she said. "It's less of an acquired taste and won't cost you as much as crab or salmon might."

Milo gave a curt nod and the woman turned around to fill his order, but returned hardly a second later, a hint of worry etched on to her face. "I'm sorry, but are you alone?"

Milo bobbed his shoulders but said nothing. The woman's frown deepened and she seemed on the verge of saying something, then reconsidered.

"I can pay," Milo blurted. He got a few gold pieces out of his pocket and put them on the table for her to see. "You have lodgings too, right?"

"We do," she said, never quite taking her eyes off him. It was starting to get on his nerves. "Two silver a night, you won't find better anywhere else."

By the time the woman left his table again he was a gold-rimmed miza and two silvers lighter but gained a room for the next five days and a hot meal to look forward to. He wasn't sure he liked Serra (as she'd introduced herself) much, she was far too nosy and looked at him funny. Still, he forgave her the moment she returned with his meal and left him to his devices. He muttered a quick prayer of thanks to Rhysol just like he'd learned at home, to give thanks for the food, even though he'd paid for it. His mother would surely have reprimanded him for the sloppy gesture he made over his steaming plate at the end of his prayer but she wasn't around to see. No sooner than he'd taken his first bite, relief washed over Milo. He'd made it. Already the wheels in his head started to turn, trying to figure out if five days would be enough to find someone in the large city with just a name to go on. Shiress .
Last edited by Milo Murrell on June 9th, 2021, 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Caspian on May 29th, 2021, 10:49 pm

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Caspian crosses his arms and stares down the length of the World’s End Grotto. Not at anything in particular, but the woman at the table directly three yards ahead doesn’t rightly know that, and before long he finds himself treated to an affronted reaction that he, not knowing its cause, finds entirely unwarranted. This might have gone on and escalated if not for the man who pointedly curls an arm around her, challenging Caspian to a potential altercation that he again has no actual interest in.

Time to scowl at something else, then - and the half-empty, could-be-half-full-maybe-if-he-just-tries-harder tankard before him becomes the new object of his ire. The problem is that he’s too far off-kilter, which makes everything seem more dire, more willing to bite, more ready to slip under his skin and stick there, and it doesn’t hurt, exactly, but certainly is enough to make itself known.

There are two things that have got him categorically in a mood - and it’s not easy, just picking two, because he can go on forever if you let him - but if he absolutely had to whittle things down it would be according to the following:

His employer Mindy isn’t terribly happy with him.

And that broad-shouldered snake of a man Nolen insists, still, on hanging around the house.

The first thing isn’t his fault. And neither, frankly, is the second, and he hates this, having things out of his control and happening to him, while the best he can do is retreat to a tavern like the Grotto and sulk. Were he to be questioned about his methods, he would firmly assert that slumping over a tepid cup of kelp sluice is not, in fact, retreating or running away from his problems - again, Mindy’s obsession with having him stalk her ex-husband is a force of storm-like proportions, one he’s learned it’s easiest just to give in to, though she’s never happy with the results. And that suspiciously muscled, impossibly suave shyke of a man Nolen has to leave the cottage at some point, and rather than confine himself to the loft room, Caspian’s found it best to just remove himself from the situation entirely and wait him out.

Though Nolen, he’s noticed, has started staying later and later, sometimes even after sundown. Rhysol save them all if Caspian ever descends some next morning to find that Nolen never actually left, and all that scenario would imply.

It’s funny, how much more he thinks of Rhysol now that he’s leagues away. He wonders, wildly, if Rhysol - well, if Rhysol ever thinks of him too. Reddening suddenly, as if he’d admitted it out loud - as if he were fawning, as if it were an ordinary crush. As if he weren’t reflecting on a God. But he had spent time with that God, he reminds himself - real time, impossible bendings and threadings of it, and said God had plucked him from the masses and sent him on a mission. That same God had touched him, in a way - because that God had touched Rohka, and Caspian had her, and here his face flushes ever harder, because even so many seasons past there’s still too much to wrap his mind around it.

On thinking so vividly of Rhysol, he almost misses it, nearly takes it as a suggestive figment of his imagination when the young boy at the table beside him makes the unmistakable motions and utterances over his food, in the God of Chaos’ supplication.

He blinks.

No, it wasn’t just a self-indulgent trick of the light.

Scanning the surrounding tables, he notes that a) the kid is conspicuously alone, and b) an elderly couple across the way also recognized the prayer, and are visibly unhappy with it.

Said couple are whispering to each other furtively now, eyeing the kid. And they, too, can see he’s got no one in his corner.

Acting on impulse, Caspian downs the rest of his detestably lukewarm tankard and seamlessly slides over, settling next to the kid. And though he doesn’t look directly at the old couple, who seemed to have been ready to take some form of action, he can sense them stalling. They certainly hadn’t predicted another adult would dive in.

“Hey,” he says to the kid, who seems remarkably intact for someone wide-eyed and wayward. He remembers what he was like at that age, and this one looks unfairly clean. “Not from around here, are you? Don’t even think about bolting, you little twerp. I know a Ravokian canto of grace when I see it.” He leans in conspiratorially, as if they’re friends, practically chums, even goes so far as to snag a bit off the kid’s plate. Chews and swallows as if he’d paid for it himself. Dropping to an undertone, he adds, “Did no one tell you worshipping Rhysol here isn’t exactly legal?”

The waitress doesn’t comment on his having switched seats. A kid under someone’s jurisdiction is probably a liability off their hands. Caspian accepts the full tankard she offers him, ponders the kid’s response and grimaces through a swig. “If you don’t believe me,” he goes on, rubbing stray streaks of gold-and-black kohl between his fingertips, “about my knowing Rhysol and all, you can quiz me. Go ahead, ask me anything about Ravok, and I’ll tell you what’s what.”
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Milo Murrell on May 31st, 2021, 1:06 am

An unexpected visitor.
75th of Spring 521AV

The only warning he got was a shift in light and shadow, but he hadn’t bothered to look up who had moved or why until it was too late. When he noticed someone had invaded his private space and joined him uninvited, he’d expected to find some bum or sleazy beggar sitting opposite him, thinking him an easy prey. But when he looked up, he was surprised to see a very well-dressed man. So well-dressed in fact that the lavishness of it all seemed in poor taste and rather unbefitting a simple establishment like the world’s end grotto.

No sooner than the strange figure had sat down, he started to talk. “What did you call me?” Milo replied with noticeable heat in his voice. He had no intention of running away and parting with his belongings in the process if that was what the stranger was hoping for. No way, no how. He clenched his cutlery harder, steeling himself to make a quick move if the circumstances demanded it.

“Hey!”

The one moment he’d picked to give the stranger a hard stare, the man had seized a bit of potato off his plate like it was his own. “What are you-?” But his voice was cut off and stunned into silence by the stranger’s next revelation.

“It’s illegal to pray?” He’d never heard something so ridiculous before and was half-expecting a punchline. “You can’t be serious....” Indeed, how could a man with the smell of liquor on his breath and a dash of gold on his eyes be serious? He had to be some kind of charlatan, some kind of trickster trying to dazzle him and planning to relieve him of his money. Perhaps he should’ve taken more care to obscure the depth of his pockets when he’d paid the waitress…

“You’re lying, and you’re eating my food.” Milo stabbed his fork into another bit of potato in danger of being confiscated and gestured toward the man with his knife. In return he was presented a challenge, though he doubted it was remotely genuine, just some scheme to gain his trust. Probably had learned a thing or two about Ravok from other visitors and would now try to make a favorable impression with that knowledge.

The boy’s brows furrowed for a moment, then a sly grin appeared on his face. “If you promise you’ll leave me alone if you get it wrong, I do have a question…”

“There’s a little nursery rhyme everyone born in Ravok knows by heart.” It was an unlikely thing for any visitor from Ravok to have told this odd-looking man, and that was precisely why he’d picked Rhysol Loves me. “It’s a simple song. Quite short, easy to remember. Surely you know the lyrics?”

Secret :
I can't post URLs, but it's the last song on the "Ravok Songs and Stories" page, titled "Rhysol Loves Me".
Last edited by Milo Murrell on June 9th, 2021, 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Caspian on May 31st, 2021, 12:26 pm

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The kid doesn’t like him. Caspian knows the look the kid is giving him, that up-down, twice-over, is-that-man-wearing-glitter? squint-and-blink that he’s so often treated to. That’s another thing he misses about Ravok – something he would tell the kid if it didn’t require so many leaps of context to adequately explain. People there tended to take him for what he was, a model of the Lark courtier-adjacent, and if they respected anything in that oligarchy, it was deference to the high houses and an appropriate aspiration towards grandeur.

The kid is clearly especially not pleased to have his food stolen. It doesn’t rattle Caspian, the unabashed scowl he’s being treated to – honestly, would have been weird and more than a bit concerning if the mite hadn’t stood up for himself. The knife brandished in his direction only has him smirking in bemusement.

It would be simple work to push the kid harder than he already has – but he isn’t a bully, just a right fickle snipe when the mood occurs to him. And he did, in all sincerity, plant himself here in order to protect the kid from the ideological storm that was about to rain down.

The challenge the kid throws him has him grinning. He had expected to be insulted or shouted off, but being invited to parlay was the much more interesting outcome. It takes him a second – a long one, in which he notes the smugness radiating off the kid. And Caspian envies that as much as it makes him want to roll his eyes, because had he been half that confident at his age? – but he gets there, catches the kid’s drift. Taking one more swig, he swishes it over in his mouth thoughtfully. Leans in a bit closer, because even this, a poppy little ditty Ravokian children like to belt while swinging around in a circle, would be just as incriminating as the kid’s prayer:

”Rhysol loves me, this I know
For the Black Sun tells me so
Little ones to him belong”


– and here, unable to help himself, he taps the kid playfully on the nose –

”They are weak but he is strong.
Yes, Rhysol loves me.”


He sighs heavily, as if, leaning into that earlier feeling, Rhysol is his lover at whom he waves from the window.

”Yes, Rhysol loves me.”

Slumping dramatically, he props his elbow on the table, his head on his hand, looks at the kid slantwise, with a pout.

“Yes! Rhysol loves me.”

He whispers the last line with a sudden solemnity:

”The Black Sun tells me so.”

Taking up his tankard again, he leans back, sips rather contentedly and regards the kid’s reaction over the rim.

Quietly and with real gravity he adds, “Loves me enough to have taken me into his arms, and not left a scratch on me.”

Letting the whole of it sink in, he then continues, “That do it for you, kid? I’m Caspian, by the way. And this is going to sound dodgy no matter how I put it, but – are you waiting for someone? They don’t like that in Zeltiva either. Kids wandering around alone, I mean. Now I’m a firm believer in coming and going as you please, but someone here might have a mind to put one of their many institutions to good use.”

From the corner of his eye he monitors the couple who had initially taken offense to the kid’s prayer. They haven’t left, and they don’t seem to be fans of him either. The flamboyant demonstration he’d just put on, even though he'd sung softly enough so that only the kid could hear, probably hadn’t helped.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Milo Murrell on June 1st, 2021, 4:32 am

An unexpected visitor.
75th of Spring 521AV

Bit by bit the satisfied smirk tugging at his lips faded away until only a scowl remained. He wrecked his mind trying to explain how the peculiar man might have learned the nursery rhyme but came to the same conclusion over and over. Perhaps he really was from Ravok, perhaps he honestly tried to help. Perhaps, maybe. But one couldn't hope to survive on maybes, it was a hunter's truth that he'd burned into his memory. Hunting was never about guessing the direction of prey, but about gathering clues and following every one of them to their inevitable conclusion. So what were the clues? Obviously the man knew the rhyme and insisted on letting him know. He'd also recognized his prayer as being dedicated to Rhysol, something he hadn't expected anyone to be capable of in a city full of misguided followers.

But then the man's appearance and behaviour were against him. He looked like someone who was trying too hard to convince his surroundings that he was who he presented himself to be and acted like a jester. As if to prove his point, the stranger pressed his nose halfway through his recital. Milo flinched and retreated further into his chair. "Stop it," he said, swatting the man's hand away. "Keep your hands to yourself, will you?"

The man wasn't done yet though and seemed to insist on reciting the little rhyme in its entirety. "Are you done?" Milo made no attempt to hide his annoyance while the stranger, looking rather content with himself, sipped his beverage. He almost missed the little remark the stranger slipped in, something about being held by Rhysol. It almost sounded wistful.

Milo regarded Caspian for a while but said nothing. Then, he pulled back his plate to the very edge of the table, out of the man's reach, and resumed eating. "What's it to you? Why do you care?" he said when he'd cleared his plate and it became clear Caspian wasn't taking the hint. Now it was his turn to take a long, deliberating sip from his tankard of plain water and send a lazy, careless stare across the table. "Did no one tell you it's bad manners to stick your nose in other people's business? Or your hand for that matter..." Milo certainly had been taught that lesson many times, though he didn't always abide by it, but Caspian didn't need to know that. Caspian didn't need to know anything about who he was or why he'd come to Zeltiva, not the truth anyway.

The longer they sat, the more certain Milo became that Caspian was a difficult man to shake and he wondered if it might be safer if he found lodgings elsewhere. "If you must know, maybe you should start and tell me why you're here if it isn't to educate these poor fools," his eyes slid across the room, "on faith." Certainly, Caspian didn't seem the priesterly type, he was far too eccentric for that. Maybe he was an outcast, or had fled Ravok for reasons of his own. Though he would never admit it, Milo found himself at least somewhat curious just who this Caspian was and why, judging by the red on his face and the smell on his breath, he'd taken to drinking.A failed priest then? And what had that bit about being held by Rhysol meant? A fanciful metaphor of sorts perhaps, or maybe something more serious, though Milo could scarcely imagine Rhysol taking notice of a vain fool like Caspian.
Last edited by Milo Murrell on June 9th, 2021, 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Caspian on June 2nd, 2021, 12:56 pm

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Some of the jocosity, by this point, has ebbed from him; with the whole song and dance he had essentially gotten his fill of amusement, and the reality of the matter at hand remains. “Educate them?” he says with a frown, glancing over the bonneted heads, the sea-worn faces of sailors on shore leave, the gaggle of oily faced students heckling each other in a corner. “My friend, speaking of sticking one’s nose where it shouldn't be, I don’t think anyone has any business trying to convert someone to something they aren’t.”

It’s interesting, how fiercely this kid seems to lean in to indoctrination. Most children that age, in his experience, don’t have much interest in religion, the length of the masses and the stodgy dirges being an effective deterrent. What other dull pastimes does this kid get into?

“I was being quite serious, you know. Proselytizing will bring on the Wave Guard, and there’s not much of a judicial system here either, at least not one where you might stand and defend yourself. What do you think they’d chop off, for the benediction you openly slathered on your spuds?”

But the question had been fair; more people really ought to ask it of him.

“I’m here,” he says with a sigh, “because being at home is not, at present, a viable option. I won’t bore you with the details” - boring, perhaps, wasn’t the right word; in truth most of the story doesn’t necessarily seem fit for underage ears - “but have you ever, I dunno, known the truth about something or someone, but for some reason no one else does, and you’re the only one in your corner and everyone thinks you’re being a real shyke about it, and all you can do is stand by as that person just snakes himself in further? It’s like watching your own house rot from the inside out. Or sitting in a waterlogged canoe, and everyone else is bundled up with you but for some reason you’re the only one bothering to bail it out.”

It must be the kelp beer; he realizes he’s begun rambling, and that although to him the scenario he’s related is a simple one - he’s the only one in his house appropriately suspicious of the stranger Nolen, and everyone hates him for it - he’s not entirely sure it translates.

“As for why I’ve decided to bother you, you know, aside from saving you from the authorities? You’re very welcome, by the way. I suppose I’m just homesick. I saw a bit of Ravok in you; I admit I pounced. It doesn’t happen often around here, and I guess I just miss...” He trails off, shrugs, takes another drink. “Well!” He sits upright. “I can see you’ve got a mind of your own, and verrry important business to attend to. If you ever need anything, well – you’ll see me around.” And given the average loudness of his outfits, that’s an understatement.

But as he makes to slide up and out from behind the table, he doesn’t take into account that the liquor he’s been steadily pouring into his system for the past couple bells is starting to take real hold. Steadying himself, he edges around the tables and chairs, significantly more difficult than before to navigate. Stumbling, he throws a hand out, meaning to catch the edge of the proximal table. Said table is not where he remembers it to be, and instead, in his wheeling about, his hand slaps against something decidedly rounder and softer.

In horror, he realizes it’s the very plump backside of the woman he’d accidentally been staring at before interfering with Milo. By her side is the man, presumably her boyfriend, who had previously glared at him.

Caspian gets the first syllable of an apology out before a fist to the side of his face knocks him backwards, crashing right into Milo’s table, overturning it and its contents onto the floor.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Milo Murrell on June 7th, 2021, 1:50 am

An unexpected visitor.
75th of Spring 521AV

Milo squinted. The details were hazy to him, but if home was not a viable option and Caspian spent his time drinking and talking to strangers, then perhaps the man had no home. Perhaps that was why Caspian had taken food from his plate, because he was hungry and had spent his last coppers on a drink to numb the ache in his belly.

Perhaps, he thought as he cocked his head to one side and observed the man with a dull gaze, perhaps not.

Milo almost wished he had something left to eat so he could avert his gaze without seeming altogether uninterested and potentially upsetting the man. But the fates saw fit to see him suffer through several more lectures, more fanciful prattling from Caspian The Endless who threw out big, complicated words like a flower girl throwing rose petals at a wedding. If anything it only served to chip away at what little sympathy he could muster for the man's imagined plight, and it brought on a headache too

Keen to slip quietly into his room and forget altogether about this strange encounter, MIlo answered Caspian’s question with a dull, simple “no.”

No he hadn't been in a waterlogged canoe before and he hadn't any desire to either. The only thing he desired was to be left alone, go to the room he paid for, and shut out the world until morning.

At last Caspian seemed to take the hint, got up, and after a final heroic boast about having “saved” him from the wrath of the local guards managed all of two paces before he was sent flying backwards.

The crash was loud enough to cut through the murmurings of old folk, the heated talk of young academics at the other end of the room, and the drunken slurs of a few regulars hanging like soggy towels over the bar. A silence fell over the inn, save for a groan that had to be Caspian and the sound of tankard spinning on the floor, and Milo knew that by the time the tankard would come to a halt, everyone would’ve made a choice.

Run or stay. Fight or flight.

He had no doubt what the sour-faced, elderly couple would do. They’d seen this exact scenario too often in their lifetimes to care to see it play out, let alone participate in it. The sailors at the bar had been waiting for something like this to happen, they had wanted a reason to crack their knuckles and put their muscle to use.

When the tankard stopped spinning, he had made his choice too. Rabbit quick he grabbed his belongings under one arm and shot off to the side, away from the fight.

"You!" cried the big man whose meaty fist had knocked back Caspian and reduced him to the miserable pile of flailing limbs like a beetle flipped onto its back. "You'se keep your dirty petchin' fingers off my Anny or I'll bite them off and feed 'em to my dog."

"P-petch your dog…" Another voice sounded, belonging to one of the red-nosed sailors who was stumbling his way to the scene with half lidded eyes and a stupid grin plastered on his face. The sailor took a swing at the big man, missed, and became the second victim being knocked back. Only he didn't land neatly across a table, but half fell, half stumbled back into a crowd that received him with angry noises.

What had started as a spark became a fire, and then a blaze. It mattered not who was on whose side, or who pitched what tumbler at whose head. Tables fell, chairs were thrown aside and all but a few pasty-faced visitors jumped at the opportunity to have a good old brawl. Milo didn't wait for the dust to settle and moved along the nearest wall to a gap in the brawling crowd. But he'd barely taken a step when he realized the downed Caspian would be trampled moments later, if left to flail on the floor. Later he would tell himself he'd acted because he needed someone who knew both Zeltiva and Ravok to be in his debt, or even that it had been Rhysol's will that be should help his fellow Ravokian. In truth, there was no time to think and he'd already dropped to one knee to help Caspian up. "See?" he couldn't resist saying. "This is what actual saving looks like."

Not a moment later, the big man who'd started it all had shaken another attacker and with a roar leaped forward to sent Caspian back to where he belonged: on the floor.
Last edited by Milo Murrell on June 9th, 2021, 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Caspian on June 7th, 2021, 12:14 pm

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The kid’s face appears suddenly in hyperfocus before him. He has a line in response to the kid’s quip, but it’s half-formed and jumbled and likely not as clever as his dazed mind believes it to be, so he keeps it to himself. Ears loudly ringing, he takes the hand that’s offered to him, realizes belatedly that it isn’t just the knock to the side of the head that’s causing all this noise, but an actual blown-out brawl.

The elderly couple who’d been mean-mugging them are gone; so are the students who had been crammed like sardines in the corner. But the rest have enthusiastically remained, and with the wait staff shrieking and scurrying off to hide in the kitchens, and no one giving a single rat’s ass for the protests of the proprietor, the noise and damage only escalates.

Despite his track record for erratic decision-making, poor judgment, and flagrant disregard for consequence, Caspian does have a limit. And that limit is here and now, with what was once a fine wicker stool sailing right past his head and smashing to smithereens against the wall.

“Holy shyke sticks, kid, what have you done?” he exclaims, and he’s mostly kidding – that mood dying right on the vine when he realizes the man who’d punched him is coming in for another round.

Said man is riled up and possibly also drunk enough that he doesn’t see there’s a petching child also well within barreling range. The first hit Caspian had taken had done him the immense favor of shocking some lucidity back into him, and he moves instinctively, shoving the kid unceremoniously but effectively to the side. Though prepared to take another hit in exchange for his unusual display of self-sacrificial valor – can that be his good deed for the week? – it never comes. Instead, a chair explodes across the man’s back, and he crumples to the ground.

Under normal circumstances Caspian might have paused to thank his savior. He’s not a total brute, after all. But said savior evidently has no interest in charity, nor discrimination, and Caspian lets out a high-pitched shriek and ducks just in time beneath the sailor’s wide swing of a punch.

“Stan’ n’ fight,” the sailor slurs, stumbling towards him again.

“No?” Caspian offers, which naturally has no effect. Swearing loudly, he sidesteps another clumsy strike, then another, and another, until he and the sailor are ambling about in clockwise formation, practically a waltz. The sailor has a remarkable sense of time, and they’re in sync and on beat for at least a couple good measures before Caspian cottons on and throws a punch of his own.

It lands right across the sailor’s jaw. But all it does is whip the sailor’s neck to the side with a satisfying chiropractic crack, so if anything, Caspian’s just improved conditions for his opponent.

And petching near broken his own hand.

Clutching his smarting wrist, Caspian stumbles back. “Petching shyke, do you eat cement blocks for breakfast?” Grabbing the splintered remains of a table leg, he brandishes it as he would a sword; finds, given that he knows nothing about wielding one, and a general lack of faith in his own actions, that it’s about as useful as a matchstick. The sailor wrenches it from his hands, flings it across the room and Caspian half along with it.

He finds himself sprawled across the ground yet again. Are all tavern floors this sticky? Does he need to have a talk with the wait staff? Glass shatters just past his head just as he’s about to stagger to his feet, and he drops back down to the floor. The way to the front door is a thicket of boxing matches, and he’s going to take a page out of the barkeeps’ books and hide out in the back. Crawling desperately now, the yet-flying glasses and tankards discouraging him from any position more dignified – and that’s fine; when he tells this story later he’s definitely going to assert it all happened with him upright – he heads for the relative safety of a group of tables.

He’s nearly there when a hand suddenly closes over his ankle.

Shrieking again, he’s yanked back, a human mop across the suspiciously wet and gummy tavern floor.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Milo Murrell on June 9th, 2021, 2:04 pm

An unexpected visitor.
75th of Spring 521AV

Milo managed to glower at Caspian for all of two tones before the arseling tossed him aside like yesterday's news. He crashed into the nearest wall with all the grace of a brick, crumpled into a dazed heap of tangled limbs, then rebounded, wide-eyed and with only one thought on his mind. Escape.

It was impossible to see which way the closest exit was through the thrashing sea of limbs and furniture. When he looked back the way he’d come in half a bell ago, he could see nothing but hard, weathered faces, blocking the way. Where he’d last seen Caspian a small feller with a golden earring muttered curses into his beard, stumbled forward and swung wildly at the flamboyant Ravokian but only hit air.

Milo tore his gaze from the scene. It was every man for himself now. With his precious belongings clutched to his chest and his free hand tracing the shape of the wall he wriggled his way past the first pair of bodies, ducked as a tankard smashed against the wall where his head had been, and had the air squeezed out of him when he was sandwiched between the wall and someone’s back. He pushed his shoulder off the wall, gained the window he needed to slip past but wasn’t quick enough to dodge the loose elbow that rammed into his face.

By the time he’d reached the side entrance his body ached more than it had in nearly a season’s worth of travel.The air was thick with the smell of sweat and spilt kelp beer and the floor had become treacherous like an ice sheet. He leapt up onto a table, kicked aside whatever had survived the violence so far, and prepared to make a jump across to the next table when he caught a glimpse of a familiar, colorful sleeve in his peripheral sight.

Caspian was married to the floor and somehow it seemed fitting that he should slither across it like a viper. Milo had half a mind to leave him there and let that image be the last memory of the stranger. But when the man’s deft fingers reached for the table in desperation, only to be yanked back and have victory snatched from him, Milo couldn’t help but feel just a little sorry for him. There had never been any doubt in his mind that Caspian possessed the fighting prowess of a cripple and considering just how bruised mere collateral damage had left him, he couldn’t begin to imagine what might become of the dainty man once the fuming sailor was through with him. Being shorter, younger, weaker and possessing no more fighting skill than Caspian there was nothing he could do, except…

Milo reached down to grab a toppled tumbler from the table, aimed it at Caspian’s assailant and-

SMASH

Whether by divine intervention, sheer dumb luck, or a semblence of a good aim he hit the bearded drunk right in the face.

“Little shyke!”

Milo nearly shat himself. He hadn’t considered that all the anger and alcohol bundled up into the sinewy muscle of Caspian’s attacker would now be directed at him. Not waiting for Caspian, he jumped off the table and landed with a crack of the knees. Something flew past him as he bolted for the door and then-

Fresh air greeted him like an old friend, caressing his face, whipping his hair back as he ran. He ignored the startled cries and heads turning his way until his chest burned and his legs felt like they had anchors chained to them. He came to a halt on a little plaza, a market of sorts by the looks of it, though most merchants had already packed up and left for the day.

Panting, he rested his hands on his knees, caught his breath and checked he hadn’t lost anything along the way. He wiped the back of his hand across his face and was surprised to find a red streak painted on his skin. He’d been so busy running that he’d hardly noticed the dull ache in his split lip, or the thick drops dripping from his nose. Somewhere along the way, a few small shards of broken glass had stabbed through his travel-worn clothes.

Without the convenience of a handkerchief, Milo resorted to pinching his nose while he tried to find his bearings. He would’ve liked to go to the room he’d paid for, wash up, and forget all about what had happened, but heading back now would be stupid. Maybe he should go look for the guard, maybe they could help him. Or maybe they would wonder what a beat up boy was doing all by himself in Zeltiva and start asking annoying questions.

Squinting, he looked back the way he’d ran and found himself wishing the only Zeltivan he knew would appear. Maybe Caspian would know what to do.
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An unexpected visitor

Postby Caspian on Yesterday, 12:30 pm

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He isn’t sure what the endgame is for whoever’s dragging him across the floor, but he’s quite certain it isn’t good. He doesn’t get to find out, though, because with a loud crack that pierces through the whole mess of smashes and shouting, he finds himself suddenly released.

Kid,” Caspian says, thoroughly appalled with a side of genuinely impressed, for Rhysol’s most precocious little devotee has just sledgehammered a fully grown man with tavern property.

The kid bolts, which is the right and categorically sensible thing to do. The man who’d just been stunned by the tumbler makes to lunge after him. Launching to his feet, Caspian bounds at the man, grappling him by the back with all the ferocity of an underfed alley cat, buying the kid enough time to make his escape. The man twists wildly, snatching at Caspian, who hadn’t thought this through and is now holding on for dear life. One good grip on the collar of his shirt is enough to pry him off and fling him back onto the floor.

Funnily enough he skids and lands exactly where he’d initially been aiming for, that nook beneath the pile up of tables towards the back of the room. And by now, the man’s decided to take up an offense with another foul-mouthed patron, leaving Caspian to slink away as originally intended.

Slinking turns to frantic slugging forward turns to up-on-his-feet-mad-stumbling when certain someones introduce throwing knives into the mix, and one stabs right into the floorboards where his hand had been just seconds before. Following the barmaids’ cue, he bursts into the back kitchens, which are mostly empty save for the proprietor shouting down an unwilling member of his security staff. Ignoring their shouts, he heads for the door and throws himself out into the alley, slamming into the opposite brick wall. He finds himself on his ass for what seems like the umpteenth time that day. Unwilling to dwell much longer on the sludge now layering his backside, he scrambles to his feet and runs down the length of the alley, giving the fights that have spilled out onto the immediate street a wide berth.

If there’s a theme to be had today, it’s a resolute absence of critical thinking. That’s not such a bad thing in this case, though, because his fight or flight has kicked in and, as tends to be, flight presents itself as the more sensible option. So he runs, lungs burning, taking wild turns down Zeltivan streets he only vaguely recognizes, putting as much distance as he can between him and the blasted World’s End.

He’d go further, all the way back to the cottage, but the unconvincing collection of mass he calls a body has other ideas. So he gives up, slows to a gentlemanly limp-and-trot in a plaza that he vaguely registers as, thank petch above, being not so terribly far from home.

A familiar figure lingers on the edge of the plaza just as he does. Though his vision’s bleary, he knows very well what it looks like when someone’s at a loss as to what to do next.

“Kid?”

The kid is bleeding. Caspian forgets, for a second, how petching exhausted he is and how badly he wants a bath and a smoke – or perhaps a smoke and then a bath, in that order.

With a notable lack of flounce or flourish, he fishes and holds out one of his lace-trimmed handkerchiefs, starkly pristine in comparison to the rest of him.

“Yeah – tilt your head back a bit. Petch, you’ve got glass on you. Hold still for a second while I –“ Frowning, unsure how best to angle himself, he picks the largest shards off the kid, swats at his sleeve and sends smaller bits raining down.

Maybe it’s just the grand sum of everything leading up to this moment, but the amount of blood spilling out of the kid hasn’t necessarily abated, and he’s feeling, well –

Perhaps just a shade of a tick responsible.

“Look,” he says, and has to stop and swallow back for a second, because now would not be a good time to retch, “I’m not a doctor. But I know one. A damn good one. And, no offense, but your face is a bit busted up from what I can see, and I dunno if stitches might be in order. She’s at the Redynn at the Outpost, so we’ll have to go through the Dovecote. Which we’re actually” - he turns and squints at the surrounding buildings – “pretty close by. Let me take you there, kid. Honestly, she’ll skin me alive if she finds out I didn’t. And then, cross my heart, you’ll never have to see me again.”
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