Solo Business of Blood

"All in a day's work." The phrase becomes less innocuous when your job involves killing people.

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

Moderator: Morose

Business of Blood

Postby Tarn Alrenson on May 5th, 2022, 7:19 am

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25th spring, 522 AV
Tarn cast his dark tired eyes around the street while leaning on his long-bladed spear, searching for nothing in particular. On the rare occasion when one or another of the passerby met his gaze, without fail they ducked their heads or turned another way. Sad as that might be, he couldn’t bring himself to blame them. More often than not survival in this city meant not getting noticed. Regularly locking eyes with dragoons was a terrible way to avoid attention. Some of Tarn’s comrades had a tendency to get touchy.

Tarn glanced back at the rest of his patrol squad. Three other Sun’s Birth crouched back by the wall, casting dice. They weren’t paying attention, and that was something that could get you killed out here. But, they were posted right on the border of the Sun’s Refuge, and that proximity to home made some people feel safe. Some people. Not Tarn.

One of Tarn’s squadmates was a guardian—like him—wearing the characteristic armor of the dragoons. The other two were raiders. They were young, untrained, and had little discipline. The other guardian was doing little to help with that.

“Ooh! Look at that! That makes it three coppers you owe me lad!” the man cried after throwing a pair of dice. One of the young raiders groaned. The other one laughed, punching the unlucky one in the arm. Tarn rolled his eyes.

“If you don’t want him to rob you blind, I’d recommend you stop playing dice,” he said, scowling at a burly man who passed by walking a little too close. The raider who had just lost threw his hands up in protest.

“Then how am I going to make my money back?” he asked. “I can stop once I win!” The other guardian bared his teeth at the younger man.

“You’ll only stop if you’re a spoilsport. It’s better to keep testing your luck boy, let the gods decide which of us is meant to be a rich man!” The guardian snickered. With a sigh, Tarn strode over, grabbing the raider and pulling him to his feet. He threw his arm around the younger man’s shoulder.

“Don’t listen to him. Let me tell you a secret kid. If you actually do your job, and you do it well, then you get paid. No luck involved, just work and money.” Tarn shot a hard look at the guardian, who should have been providing a better example, not that too many of the Sun’s Birth bothered with that particular duty nowadays. The guardian snorted back at him. The raider pulled away from Tarn, but notably didn’t sit back down to gamble.

“You should try having fun once and a while Tarn! You’re not old or poor enough to be grumpy all the time,” jested the other raider.

“Oh, normally I have plenty of fun,” Tarn replied, “but right now I’m too busy making sure three idiots don’t manage to get themselves stabbed in the back while on the easiest patrol in the petching city.”
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Boxcode credit goes to Antipodes


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Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. --CS Lewis
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Tarn Alrenson
We all can make a difference.
 
Posts: 86
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Joined roleplay: June 27th, 2018, 3:14 am
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Business of Blood

Postby Tarn Alrenson on May 10th, 2022, 5:35 am

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“Oh shove off!” the gambling guardian grumbled as he gathered up his dice. “If anyone kills anyone it’ll probably be you, considering the way you stick your nose in other people’s business.”

Tarn ignored the man, turning his attention back to the street, or more accurately the people on it. He examined them, one after another, though he had no hope of giving any meaningful attention to everyone who went into or out of the Sun’s Refuge by this street. Either way, they didn’t have explicit orders to keep anybody out—nobody they would recognize anyway. Of course, members of the city’s other significant gangs would ideally be stopped, but that was a difficult policy to enforce. If you couldn’t see the telltale markings of one’s affiliation—like the sunburst brand on Tarn’s hand—there was no easy way of picking a gangster out of the crowd. Not unless they chose to display it the way the dragoons did.

“You really should relax a little Tarn,” one of the raiders piped up. “Take a spell at the Gold Lodge. It’s been ages since I saw you there last.” Tarn frowned at the fellow.

“I relax when I want to, in the ways I want to. There ain’t nothing more to it than that,” he said. The raider rolled his eyes, and the other dragoons laughed. Tarn let the incident slide, but returned his gaze to the street. He had a hard time pinpointing exactly why he was so focused on watching the people today. There was a tension in the air, though that was not entirely new. Sunberth was always tense, but recently it had been worse than usual. The Sun’s Birth had been recruiting like mad from local mercenaries and the citizenry, and Tarn would bet his grandfather’s spear that the other gangs were doing the same. Pressure was mounting and something had to give before too long. He just didn’t want to be a casualty when it happened.

One man in particular caught Tarn’s eye. He wasn’t a very big man, but he walked tall without the paranoid hunch that some Sunberthians adopted to avoid conflict. This man was confident. The only confident people in this city were either dangerous, fools, or dangerous fools.

The man wore thick clothes and bore a scraggly black beard. His eyes were bright, brighter than the countenance of any denizen of Sunberth had a right to be. Perhaps more worrying than anything about the man’s demeanor was the man’s direction. He was walking right towards the small group of Dragoons. He was definitely a fool then. Time would tell if he proved dangerous.

“Hello good sirs! Would you care to help me with some directions?” the man cried out from some distance away. The passerby near him shot the man dirty looks and scurried away, eager to avoid the attention of the dragoons. Tarn tightened his grip on the spear. One of the raiders answered.

“Maybe we can, maybe we can’t. Maybe it’ll cost ya. Where do you want to go?” he said. The man didn’t slow in his approach. He fixed his eyes on the raider and kept walking, a smile on his face.

“Oh, nowhere special,” he drawled, “I’m sure you know where it is.” Tarn shifted uneasily. Nobody smiled at dragoons like that, and nobody would come to dragoons for directions unless they were part of the gang.

“Are you Sun’s Birth?” Tarn asked. The man chuckled. He was now very close.

“I wouldn’t say that. Though many of you are… old friends of mine, shall we say.” The man now stood in front of the raider. Tarn took a step towards his comrade. “Now, about those directions…” with a flash, the man produced a knife from a fold in his clothes, thrusting it forward and up into the raider’s gut. The raider wore normal clothes. His rank didn’t grant him the requisition rights for armor, and his linen shirt proved insufficient to the task of stopping cold steel.

“No!” Tarn shouted, darting forward toward the raider’s assailant. Just as quickly as he had drawn the knife, the man whirled away, ripping the blade from the young man’s gut in a spray of blood. Tarn thrust his spear forward and down, tangling it in the man’s legs and tripping him as he fled. The attacker cursed, scrambling away across the dusty earth while bleeding from a new slice along his thigh. Tarn started to pursue but hesitated, standing protectively over the body of the raider where it had fallen and lay convulsing on the ground.

Warning shouts echoed across the street, and uninvolved parties quickly fled the scene, not wanting any part of the conflict. Three men remained, surrounding the cluster of dragoons. Two had drawn shortswords, and the last brandished a wicked-looking cudgel. The man with the knife drew himself to his feet with a sneer and a string of vile curses, nursing his bleeding leg. This was clearly an ambush, and it had worked. One of the dragoons was down, and their attackers now had a distinct numerical advantage.
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Boxcode credit goes to Antipodes


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Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. --CS Lewis
User avatar
Tarn Alrenson
We all can make a difference.
 
Posts: 86
Words: 85762
Joined roleplay: June 27th, 2018, 3:14 am
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets

Business of Blood

Postby Tarn Alrenson on May 12th, 2022, 11:53 pm

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Silence filled the space between the two groups of gangsters, tense like the calm before the storm. The dragoons’ assailants shifted in their loose semicircle, pinning the three dragoons to the side of the street and up against the wall of a small business. Tarn held his spear ready, shifting the point between the two attackers closest to him, reminding them both that the animals they had cornered still had teeth.

The two other dragoons had now drawn their weapons and put their backs to each other and the wall, facing their attackers. The guardian carried a long-hafted axe, while the raider that was still on his feet held a long dirk in a trembling white-knuckled grip. Tarn bounced lightly on the balls of his feet, waiting for the storm to break.

He briefly considered charging ahead in an aggressive attack but dismissed the notion as stupidity. He wanted to keep the wall at his back as much as possible. If you were outnumbered, nobody could watch your back quite as well as a solid wall could. It did cut off his avenue of retreat… but he didn’t much like the thought staking his life on winning a footrace with these men, so turning his back to them wasn’t a very attractive option in the first place.

The heavy silence was shattered by a loud groan from the raider lying at Tarn's feet, who was clutching his stomach and bleeding profusely. Tarn scowled. The man might still live if he got to see a medic quickly, and if nobody else finished the job first. The kid’s chances at surviving depended on the dragoons winning this fight, and fast.

“Come on then!” Tarn said, goading their attack. “Hurry up and decide which one of you is going to die first!” The man whose thigh Tarn had sliced snarled, baring his teeth like a mangy street dog. A mangy street dog would have been handsomer.

As if in silent agreement, the dragoons’ assailants closed in slowly, with enough caution to make him nervous. The two gangsters Tarn had been threatening with the spear focused on him, while the other two matched up with his companions. Fine. His spear had better reach than either of his enemies’ weapons—the cudgel and the knife—he had a chance to hold them off long enough for one of his comrades to come in and even the odds. Assuming they bested their foes, that was.

Tarn’s eyes darted between his opponents. In a rush of motion one man swung his cudgel to knock the offending spear away and clear a path to close in on the dragoon. Tarn pulled his weapon back just in time, letting the blunt instrument pass by before thrusting out in riposte. The long spearhead caught the man just above the brow, cutting deep and drawing blood. Glimpsing an opportunity the injured man with the knife darted forward. Tarn shifted, trying to use the spear like a quarterstaff to parry. The spear’s shaft struck the man’s forearm, sapping enough strength from the blow for it to scrape across the studded leather cuirass he wore without puncturing it.

However, the man did not pull back from his charge, instead letting his momentum carry him forward and Tarn backward until the dragoon’s back struck the wall behind him, the spear’s shaft pressed between them against the man’s chest. Their eyes met, and the man bared his teeth in that ugly snarl again. Tarn growled back, driving his knee up into the man’s groin, making contact, then shoving him back with the shaft of the spear. The man stumbled on his injured leg, doubled over and retreating back from Tarn a few steps. Tarn returned his attention back to the man with the cudgel, who still seemed hale enough despite the blood pouring down his brow into his eyes.

Tarn heard the sounds of battle to his side, but couldn’t spare much more attention other than to verify that none of the other assailants were coming after him yet.
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Boxcode credit goes to Antipodes


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Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. --CS Lewis
User avatar
Tarn Alrenson
We all can make a difference.
 
Posts: 86
Words: 85762
Joined roleplay: June 27th, 2018, 3:14 am
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets


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