Fable - Ask A Bargain for Death

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Tal

The Unbound
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On the very edges of Tyr, where only those without option and the scum found themselves, walked a man.

He wore a cloak, though not to hide his identity, but rather to stop the soft patter of rain to land on his head. Behind him walked two beautiful nubian women, neither of them having the same qualms about the rain. Their clothes far more scant, and yet cut in a way that denoted the Baryou Garramarisma, denoting the ancient traditions of the far away swamps.

Pleasant expressions bore on their soft features, miscolored eyes peering at the city streets with unfettered curiosity as they escorted their patron. These sisters did not belong here, and yet the man who lead them did.

All three of them moved down the lonely road, where even the beggars and destitute did not tread. For at the end of this road lay a chapel, if it could even be called that. A building of stone and decrepit metal that had long ago threatened to cave in upon itself. The roof slant and half fallen, the walls crumbling, and yet somehow the chapel still stood.

An air lingered around it, one that seemed to instill a sense of dread.

The three moved into the building without a moment of hesitation, stepping through rubble and overgrowth until they found a small altar standing upon the dais. It stood untouched, beautiful and with an onyx sheen. Decorated with barely legible writing and a single symbol. "Will it be enough?"

Talmanese Al'vere asked his two companions, the sisters of the Vaudelay.

"I should sink so, Talmanese." Syvlie purred in that tongue of hers. "But could ve not jus do it?"

As she finished, her sister added. "It voulds be simple enoughs. One little 'air, one needle."

Sylvana purred the words as she stepped up behind Talmanese, slipping an arm around him and gently stroking the side of his face. There was a bright, almost temptation in her eyes as she peered up at him. Almost as if she were pleading with home to do just as she had said.

Tal put his hand up, gently pressing his hand against Sylvana's shoulder as he pushed her away. "We'll have our role, don't you worry."

A long sigh escaped the twins at once, their heads shaking as slowly they stepped away from Tal and slowly moved towards the Altar. Both of them pricked their fingers with needles, and then gently placed one another's index's in their palms. Then, a chant began. A slow and quiet call that filled the room and resonated, building magic until suddenly the twins fell silent, and a call went out.

Not the way it was done. Not the way it was supposed to be done, Talmanese knew, but he didn't have the time to wait.

Solitude
 
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y̸̨̨̢̢̨̛͚̙͇̠̭͉̺͈͍͇̮̮̜̱͉̘͕̥̘̬̜͉͍̭͕̟͈̦̰̬̟͕͇͚̲͖̤̯͍͚̮̝͚͚̠̠̘͕̯͇͎̜̘̲͈̼̝͓͈̲̤͚̟̫̠͛̈̀̉͂̒̓͋̀̏̌̈́͑̌̍́̊͌͗͐͌̌̄͗̀͋́̍̽̂̍̑̿̍̆̅̒̑̉̔̑̌̂͗̊́̀̈͒̀̑̈́̄̆͊̏̆̏̑̎͋̀̇͌̑̏̕̕͜͜͜͝͠͝͝ͅͅǫ̵̡̧̢̡̡͔͙̤̖̜̭̱̣͚͍̯͙̳̮͎̯̝͙̺̜̟̪̝̝̜̮͍̠͎͙͚͕̘̩̙̯̳̞̙̘̱̰͍̳̮̰̞̳̞̖͇̱͚̱̺̟͈̝̲̻̮̬̓̃̆̈́̀̿͊͛̆̀̈́̚̕͜͝͠ư̸̧̢̧̛̹̲͈̮̤̤͉̺͖̤̹͙̻̼̫̘̯͈͈̲̱̮̬͈̩̟͖͔̬̠̯̳̪̩͕̣̹̞̞̘̲͕̖̫̫̈́̎͐̏͂̾̓̂̃̎͂͑̈̀̿̉̀̏́̈́̎͂̃͐̈́̎̅̃̀̈̈́̀͑͌́͊̐͊̏̈͂́́̒̿͂͐̒͒̽̅͐̓̽͋̊̌̔́̀̾̈̏̓̄͐̒̄̄͛͘͘̕͘͜͜͜͜͠͠͠͠͝͝͠͝͝ ̵̢̨̢̨̢̢̢̡̛̛̤͕̜̰̞͎͎̺͇̝̜̥̬̯̘̥̙̭̤̬̝͙̤͍̹̼̺̬̣̒̌̇̾͂͊̑̿̈́̽̽̂̈̀̔̈́͆̐̍̏̈͂̈́̔̀̚͜͝͠ͅd̶̨̨̧̨̧̨̻̣̝̙̞̙̱̜̳̦̺͍͚̘͖̜͇̩̖̯̩̥̼͇̗̻̬̥̟̝͙̦̤͇̲͗̾̒̉̈́͆̽͌̀̓͘͘͜͝͝ͅa̴̛̗͍̰̼͔̹͖̙͉̬͉̯̙̮̱̎͑̈́̃͆̆̽̉̿͆̐͗̔̊͛̈́͊̐̋̾̎͊̓̋͋͗̉̅̿̈́̊̓̊̒̏̐̈́̌̒̇̅̎̾̾́̓̒͒̌͑̓͐́̇͘͝͠͠ͅͅr̷̢̢̢̧͙̥͉̪̖͖͎̜̱̻̱̫̫̦̝͇̖̝͔̪̲̪͓̮̭͔̻̣̺͙͖̗͚͕̳͇̤̰͚̟̩̖̱̯͍̻̫̳̣̠͕̰͉̗͓̠͇̥̯̖̻̻̺̦̟̖̫͈̙̖̟̙̘̖̙̻̞͕̀̓̑̽̑̏̌̀̈́̑͋̐͋̓̋͊͑̅́̎̃͊̈́̌͒͐̅̑̈̌̐̉͗̅́̾̂̏̆̕̚͜͜͜͜͝͝͝͝͝͝͝͝ͅͅͅę̴̡̧̢̡̡̢̧̨̨̛̛̛̛͍̭͓̘͇̥̘̦̳͙͉̜̦̳̱̹̦̞͎̩̥̺͎̼̝̲̖͎͉̘̦͚̫̤̥̫̰̘̲͙͙̪̜̜͙̫̲̈̆̄͑̈́̀̓͛̑̓̂͛̄́͊̾̾͋̂̉̀͗̎̐̍͂̊͋̒͒̋̄̑̂̌͂̅̍̔̽̋̎̄̍̃̈́͗͐̿̄̕̚̚̕͘͝͝͝ͅ ̴̡̨̧̢̨̛̛̗̭̝̞̜̘̩̙̼̞͎̟̦̳̯̑͆̉͋̂̓̋̽̂͆͋̍́̌̾̃̃́̈́͗̿͑̇̓͌̇̈̄̽͗̀̐̽̀̑̑̊͆̇̉́̀͗̒̆̒̀͗͒̉̂̌͐͌͑͌͊̎͐͒͌̔̿͒͐̕͘̚̚͝͠͝͝͝c̷̨̧̨̥̥͉̤̠̜͉̪̘͙̙͕̱͈̟̭̝͓̲͎͖͍̠̻̲̗̩̙̹̺͉̻̼̤̥̯̗̱͖̯̏̿̈͆́͌̀̋̅̋͐̊̏͒̔͐̈̆͋̈́̀͗͊̏̀̐͑̽̈̂́͊̇̋̑̿̉͒͐͐͘̚̚͘͜͠͝͝ͅͅơ̸̢̛̛̹͙̯̘̻̭̟̩͎̰̪̹̱̾̇̓͗̓̉̆́̂̏̈́̋́̍̈́͛̈̅̔̿͑̃͊̐́̄̀̄̃̆̈́͒̈́͂̒́͌̆͊̚̚͘̚͜͝͝͝͝͠͝ḿ̵̛̲͉̞̂͗͛̾͒́̈́͂̐̃͗̔̊̓̑̽̌̑́̆͊̄́͌̆͗̍̉̿́̓̓̔̏̀͛͆̿͌̈́̇͂̓͒͆͑̈͑̿̈́̂͛̐͛͒͆̍̿͂̇̒̒́̂̕̚͠͝͠͝͝͝͝͝͝͝ę̴͈̎̑̆̈́̆͌̿̂̈͌̂͊͛̆̋́̚̚͝ ̷̧̢̧̨̱̮͙̥̝̪̼̱̭̺̗̠̰̰̳̗͖̩̞̪̯͈͇͕̠̩̭̭͍͚͇̦͎̠̠̝̱̩̝͔̣͈̜͎̲̠̟̲͚̺̲̰̲̠͖̠̱̹̞̮̰͎̬̫̫͎̟̜̩̭̲̅̈̀͂̓̔̍͋͊̾̀͆̔̿̔̂̇̎͂̍̇͌̏̀́̈́̉͛̎̏͌̓̈́̌̄̌̃́̌͂͌́̑̏̈́̾̇̄̅͒͆͗̈̋̒̏̑̏͛̆̏͒̇͊̚̕͜͜͝͝͝͝͝͠ͅͅh̸̢̨̢̛̙̗̗͎̠̣̳̼̠̟͈͉̳͉͈̳͉͔̪͖̪͈̠̰͕̺̑̓̆͛̉̌͒̉̊̀̃͊͊͆̈́͋͋͋͑̉̂͊̈́̒͌͛͂͋́̌̃͛͆͆̓̉̈́̏̂̓͌̒̈̊̕͘̚͜͜͜͝͝͝͝ẻ̴̡̢̛̳̥̬͍̣̰͉̪͖̗̲̣̤̺̰̯̮̠̜̹͍̠͈̖̫̱̞͇̰̗̦͙͙̩͎͉̠̺̰̄̈͘͜ͅͅȑ̵̢̡̧̢̛̯͍̫̺̣͈̞̣̜͔̹̥̙̣̺͚̙͙͈͕͔̭͖̫͙̞̩̟̜̣͈̗͖̯͓͚̝̮͙̹͔̦͚̹͍̹̜̙̠̬̪͓̲͖̰̳̩̼̤͓̠̝͖͈̱͍̞͙̳̩̤̬̩̭̗̩̪̳̈́̃̽͋̀̽̂̐̾͒̐̀͒̐͒̑͐̏͒̊̔̇̇̇̒͐͊́̄͒̆̀̍́́̏̇̄̒͗̂͐͑̽̓̈̉͊̓͐͌̒͐͑̚͘͘͜͜͝͠͠͝͠ͅͅͅȩ̵̡̨̧̧̛̘̜̘͚̗̤̦͍̦̺̠͈͙̠̣̞̣̫̹͖̞͙̺̼̰͓̘̼̥̣͍̪͚̹̤̻͉͈͓͓͓̬̫̥͕̦̬̖͇͍͓̘͓̱̣̜̟̥̬͈̰̼͙͕͍̯͎̩͇̯̠̲͈̖͑̌̅̉̈͗̈̎͋͒͑͒͌̒͂̈́̎͌̏̇͂̄́̾̈́̓̂̍͋̓͑̋͆͗̄̂̉̃̉̔̚̕͘͜͜͜͝͝͝ͅͅͅ ̶̢̡̧̛̻̠͎̱̯̣͖̭̤̲̞̣̤̟͙̬̟͙̳͚͙͙̹͍̀͒̂̒͐͐͌͗̀͜a̷̡̨̨̡̛͖̳͕̟͉͇̮̪̦̠̳̣̫͖͈͓̮̞̞̙̮̞̣̞̰̭̹̮̥̣̗̠̘̳̫͖̜̩̳̦̥̫̥̹̪̍̉͐̑͗̓̉̈́͆̒̈͊̃̾͌́̾͌͒̒̀̑̈̒̔͂̐̒̇̌̑͆̇̆̔̀̉̀̔̍͂͆̓̾̈̐̽̌͒̌͛͛̽̐̚̕̚̚̚̚͝͠͠͝͠͠ͅͅn̷̢̛̛̛̛̛̻̳̪̦͖̞̼̙͔̯͇̗̙̥̫͚̖̥͇̜̹̫͕̰̺̠͊̀͐̊͛͆͋͊̅́̈́͛̿̆̀̐̊̈́̓̂͒͒̾̂̉͛͐͋̈́̂̅̄͊̍̀̐̽̓́͗̒͂͒̓̅́̿͛̀͒̎͗͛͌̑̔̒̐͗̒́̄͑̀̐͋̉̏͌̑̓̍̏͛̈̉̋̕̚̕͝͠͝͝ḑ̶̛̛̥̜̮͎̯͎̼̘͌̓͑́̄͒̀̿͋͆̈́̊͒͒̓͗̾̍́̈́͑̽͌̉͆͆͒͋̒͛̋̿͒͆̅̈́̾̾̽̍̋͌̿́̔̊͑͒͑͒͊̽͌̿̊̒̔̃͂͘͘͘̚̚̕͘͘͘͝͠͝͝͝͝ ̴̢̧̢̧̧̛̯̘̤̪̳͎͓̥̘̟̹̭̞̘͔̮̭͉͍̯͇̫̗͔̠͙̫̙̯͍̻͔̻̟̟̹̯̤͔̘̏̔̾̎̿̌̐̀̈̾̉̒͑̐̒̈́͆̑̈͑̈̽͂̽̾̔͂̚͘̕͘̕̕͝ͅį̵̛̛̰̖̳̰̣̹̤̗̦͕͕̯̹̩͚͆̾͗͗͋͆̓̄̀̈̈́̽͊́̓̈̌̀́̐̇̾̀̉̈́̇̂̃̀̿̿̀̿̀̃́̊̇͗̈́̓̾̆̾͘͘͘͜͠͝ͅņ̷̧̨̨̡̡̢̢̢̧̛̛͖͙͓̺͈̫̯̤̹̤̜̮̘̲̙̗͇̩̰̖̟͚̥̺̦̥̻̬͇͕̤̦̰̳͓͕̘͇̝̲̳͎̟̤͔̼̯̹̹̱̘͍͕̲͚͙̰̫̎̀̇̅͌̈́̆̈́̃̌̽̑̍̂̏̀̉̂̍̀̇̐͑̓̓̏́̈́̓͋̅͆̾̂̔̐͊̓͒̊̿̆̓̋̃̓̉̆̀̿̔́̂̆͋̚͘̚̕͜͠͠͠ͅͅs̷̢̢̧̡̡̧͍̙̮̼̘̘̣̟̝͓̦̲̥̦̞̘̠̥̼̬͉̹͎͔̥͔̲̭͕̲͔̻͎̘̘̦̣̖̯̱͍͓̭͉̥̗̼̬̝̰̺͉̓̀̀̄̓́͋̓̆̏͑̆͆̃̽͑͆̔̎͒̌̾͛͒͌̆͑̾̀̊̓͋̒͘͘̕͜͝͝ͅȕ̴̢̡̨̨̢̢̨̢̡̡̖̙͇͇̳͓͔̳͓̜̜̹̫̼̦͎̮͙͖̜̠̮̤͚̰̙͎̗̺̖͉̤͖̜̪̝̯̻̗̤̹̘̙̪͎͎̳͓͎̭̱̘͈͓̥̦̯̣̳̗̬̞̲̠͉̆͒́̈̇̏́̽̋̊́̆̋̀̉̈́̾̐͒̉̅̒̋̽͐̓̔̽̿͗̈́͋̿̄́̾͊̊͆̾̉̑͋̉͗͑̌̌̆̎̑͘͝͝͝ͅͅͅl̷̢̛̛̲̖̲̫͎̬̗̮̩̟̖̤͈͆͐̅̃͌̿̍̒͂͒͌́̾͊̍̋̀̓̿̄͗̌̿̾̆̂̏͌̃́̀͗͂̃̊͗̋͌̐͘͝͠͝t̷̨̡̢̧̢̡̡̨̨̮̮̱̰̭̹̗̤̼̼͉͈̮̮͍̼̲̞̼̤͈̜̙̙̳͍̥͕̟̰͎̠̤̗̣̬͙̺̭̹̓̂̌́̊̎̋͐̏̈̓͂̎̃̊͆̌͊̏́̏̈́̆̿͛́̅͊̃̈́́̊̂͑̿͊̈͌̕̕̚̚͜͠͝͝͝ ̵̢̧̡̼̘̪͙͎͖̘͎̭͔̙̩̖͉̘̩̪̯̯͉̗̯̺̟̼͓̳̜̪̳̪͓̼̱̫̫͚̞̮̞͙͇̤̹̼͔͖̬̮̥͈͙̥̱͓̪̠͈̞̯͈̯͓͇̙̖̦̟̭̲͖͚̝̼̣̣͒̉̋̐̔͒̈̂̈̈́̀͛̅͌̊̅̔͛̓̕̚͜͝͝͝͠͝ͅứ̴̧̢̢̛̛̛͖͉̯̣͖̗͕͕͍̩͙̻̗̞̫͕̙̥̜̣̲̲̖̉͋̄͗̇̐̄̈́̈̈͂́̀̓̋̌͂͌̄̉̿̑̎̄͐̅̿̌̊̅̐́̽̅͐͗̅̊̓͆̒̈̔̂̀̀́̆̒͗͒̽̆͆̅̄̾͂̌̍̑̊̆̕̚̕̕͝͠͝͠͠͝͝͝͝s̵̡̨̨̡̡̛̹͎͎̩̪͉̪͉̖͚̜̰͕̹̹̟̹͕̥͕̤͕̦͕̰͍̭̠̰̺͔̅̿̅͛̓͑͂̈́̿̃̓̅̈́́͋͂̈́̕̕͜͠͝ͅ

A shadow bubbled up and out from the small statue of Mother Meness. It’s voice echoed around, a multitude of languages being shouted at Tal and the twins. Common, kaliti, shadon— all echoed and reverberated as that shadow coalesced into a humanoid form.

It’s head reached the broken roof of the chapel. It had no noticeable features, looking just like a shadow on the ground. Parts of it seemed slightly distorted; an arm too long, a ear too big.

A ripple went through the shadow, and finally, the echoing stopped.

TO DEFILE A SACRED PLACE WITH SUCH MAGIC.” The shadow settled on one language, the one that the twins and Tal had been speaking. “DO YOU HAVE A DEATH WISH?” The voice boomed.

Tal
 
  • Scared
Reactions: Tal
Tal stood in place as the shadow began to move. Plucking out a few of the words that rang through the room, his lips thinning for a brief moment as he cursed his miscalculation. He had known the gambit, he would just have to hope he'd not pressed too hard.

Both of the twins slowly stepped back, as the shadow grew. What little light there was in the chapel dimming even further. "Yes."

He answered to the voice that seemed to shake the walls themselves. Quickly continuing before the shadow could press his claim and end his life.

"But not for myself." The Prince said calmly, trying to suppress that innate and very natural fear which trickled through his spine. Goosebumps slowly crawling across his flesh as he peered at the shadow before him. "Forgive my trespass, but the need was urgent."

Talmanese continued. "And I will make my recompense."
 
  • Devil
Reactions: Solitude
A slight warbling could be heard. The shadow was looming over Tal and the twins, saying nothing, and yet a strange sound could be heard emitting from it. Whether it was from the form it was in, whatever such a form could be, or transmitting a signal elsewhere could hardly be discerned. All the shadows in the chapel grew darker and began spreading around. The only spot that was free of this change was one spot to the left of Tal— a hole in the roof that allowed enough light from above to creep in.

The ground there was wet from the rain that was still falling down from the heavens.

Finally, a laugh echoed about.

SO YOU DEEM YOURSELF ABOVE THE RULES.” A mere observation. No one liked waiting, and even better yet, plenty of people had come back to the chapels in a rage when their contract was rejected. But then again, years ago, was this not how the Church did it’s bidding? There had been fewer chapels then, assassins assigned to each one. There had also been no rejection of contracts.

It was how the Heretics managed to cut down their numbers. But this man, with those twins… well, Mother Meness had a soft spot for twins. Too bad the Church couldn’t cultivate the women into something better.

YOU SHALL COMPENSATE US REGARDLESS OF YOUR NEEDS. NOW SPEAK. WHO IS IT YOU WANT DEAD? AND WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE FOR THEIR DEATH?

Tal
 
  • Scared
Reactions: Tal
"Only when they stand in my way." Talmanese admitted, not willing to lie about who he was.

The Prince had always done as he saw fit to meet his ends, and he would do so until the day that he died. Long ago he had learned that the only way to get what you wanted was to seize it. This was no different, and it only a small piece of what he needed to do.

"My brother." Tal said in answer to the woman's question. "Eren Al'Vere."

Not the eldest, he would save that particular sibling for himself.

Doubtless this wasn't the first time the shadows had received a request for the death of a sibling, nor would it be the first for the death of a Prince. "And I offer the price laid in the traditions I was taught."

He had read the tales and stories, that was how he had found this place in the first place. Fingers flickered beneath his cloak, pulling free a bag.

"Gold." He said, tossing the satchel onto the ground and scattering glittering coins before the shadows. "And the return of something that had been lost."

Talmanese said, slipping free a small chalice he had tucked beneath his cloak.
 
  • Devil
Reactions: Solitude
At the toss of the gold, the shadow was silent, or perhaps waiting for more. One bag of gold wasn’t going to cut it, not for Eren Al’Vere— even if he was the youngest son. He was still a Prince, a beloved one by the masses. Feuds between royal blood against their own was no surprise.

And even if Tal threw down five more bags of gold then the shadow was already waiting to tell him ‘no.’ It was petty, but even shadows enjoyed watching the corporeal not getting their way.

The shadow quivered as the chalice was pulled out and a hushed scream echoed about.

It was made not from gold or silver, had no impressive adornments of ruby or diamonds. Made out of a mixture of poor ore and metals with one side of it looking it was rusting over. Small moonstones and even smaller charms of obsidian decorated it, creating a wave that went throughout the cup.

It looked like a ordinary chalice. But those that knew, those that had the sight or any inkling of the arcane understood what this chalice was. Or at least understood what it could do if one drank from it.

The shadow that had been stationary for so long lunged forward, bringing with it a icy chill and a feeling of looking straight in the dark abyss. It made to grab the chalice but right against the object it was easy to see that the shadow was truly just a shadow. Somehow, it seemed as if the shadow was obtaining far more information than it should have if it was actually touching it.

HOW CLEVER YOU ARE.” The voice rumbled around the room. “IT’S YOUR CLEVERNESS THAT WILL GET YOU KILLED.” It promised, but now it sounded much more like a purr. “THE SHADOW OF MOTHER MENESS.” The humanoid shape moved out of the way so Tal could look upon the small figurine. “BLOOD IS REQUIRED. CUT YOUR PALM AND TOUCH THE SHADOW OF THE MOTHER. CONTRACT IS MADE. YOU LEAVE THE GOLD AND CHALICE.

YOUR BROTHER HAS BEEN OFF LIMITS. NOT THE FIRST TO COME IN AND WANT HIS BLOOD. YOU MAY BE ASKING FOR MORE TROUBLE WHEN HE IS GONE.” A laugh. Shadowy hands still danced about the chalice. “GO AHEAD, THEN.

Tal
 
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Tal kept his face a stone mask as the shadow taunted him, a slight twitch of a smile pulling at the corner of his lips as it spoke of his death. Teeth sinking into his tongue to keep back the usual quip that would come with such a claim.

When it revealed that Eren had been marked for death before no surprise showed on his features. Games of politic were always a deadly thing. Despite the regal lies which floated around the court.

He moved to step forward as the shadow beckoned him, his kin-knife slipping free of it's scabbard.

Before he could move though he felt a gentle touch on one of his shoulders. Barely a graze as Sylvana leaned forward, her lips almost pressing against his ear as she whispered. "Zis is not a good idea, Talmanese. Blood is powerful, yes?"

A smile touched his lips for a brief moment.

"Don't fret my dear, I know what price I'm paying." He understood that fact better than most, all Tyrians did. But it was part of the price, and the job needed to be done.

Breaking away from the twin Tal moved forward, drawing the knife over his palm and letting blood pool within his hand. Slowly he grasped the figurine, looking to the shadow as he spoke with a smile.

"I've always been told I have a knack for trouble." He said simply as he sealed the contract in his blood.
 
Laughter continued to reverberate from the dilapidated chapel’s shadow.

PERHAPS IT WILL PUT YOU AT EASE,” it intoned, a hint of something smug lingering in its words. “TO KNOW THAT WHILE YOUR CONTRACT IS ACTIVE WITHIN THE CHURCH, NO ONE CAN ASK FOR YOUR BLOOD TO BE SPLIT FOR THE MOTHER.” A recent clause, at least in the last three-hundred years of so. A king long ago used to hire a couple of assassins every month. Any of his enemies who came to the Church to seek his death were all rejected, after all, the Church wouldn’t have their assassins fighting each other. The king had the wealth to keep it up for ten years, but then his pockets had ran dry.

The Archdiocese saw a chance to increase income by allowing those with a contract a chance to live anxiety free as long as a contract as active. They also saw to it that no one would be able to keep themselves in a constant contract, no matter how rich they were.

With the contract made and Tal’s blood seeping into the shadows, not long after, the humanoid shadow pulled out from it’s mouth a rolled up piece of paper.

It was sealed although the seal was still cooling, and the shadow handed it to Tal, now somehow no longer incorporeal although the hum of magic in the air seemed stronger than before.

HIDE THIS. WHEN EREN AL’VERE IS DEAD, IT SHALL BURN UNTIL IT’S ASH.”

Tal
 
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Huh. He hadn't known that bit of information, wasn't that interesting?

Tal mused on the thought for a moment, then watched as the shadow did it's work. He could feel the twins behind him, both observing with keen eyes. This sort of magic, that of blood, was of interest to them as well. Their mother might have had more to say, but the two girls knew better than to speak in the moment.

Instead they watched in silence as the contract was made, and then handed to Talmanese. Cautiously he grasped the small rolled up parchment. Glancing down at it for a brief second before then dipping his head in a nod. "What's next?"

He asked patiently.

"Should I simply await the funeral bells?" A tradition in Tyr, for the death of one from the Royal families.
 
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The darkness began to shrink back, light beginning to enter the chapel once more. The shadow began to move back into the figurine of Mother Meness.

NEXT? YOU LEAVE.” The shadow answered. And with that, the shadow disappeared back into the shadows of the chapel. The contract was made, the chalice and gold would soon be taken, and the shadows would no longer speak to Tal, even if he got the Twins to do their heretical magic.

A low whistle came from the ceiling. Popping her head through the hole in the chapel’s ceiling, long black hair cascaded down like a curtain of black. Her bangs were flipped over, showcasing the crimson eyes that were framed by dark circles of sleeplessness. Sol lifted her mask over her chin, still looking at Tal while she was upside down.

Damn.” Solitude said. “That was entertaining to watch. I didn’t know someone could make the Cardinal concede while breaking the rules.

Tal
 
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The Twins took a step back almost immediately, letting out a low hiss as their fingers flickered to the wraps which covered their hips. Digits playing over the thin needle like daggers they had hidden there.

Tal, to his credit, did not move as a new voice suddenly echoed out in the little chapel.

It wasn't that he didn't feel the surprise run through him, but he had been utterly fascinated in watching the shadow slowly pulled back into the altar beyond. He had stared at it, as if trying to commit the image to some facet of his memory.

Only when it was completely gone did he take a step back, glancing up towards the ceiling where a figure now hung from. "Rules are meant to be broken."

He told her calmly.

"You just have to know how to do it without consequence." A small smile touched his lips, and he glanced over his shoulder at the twins. Waving to ensure that both of them lowered their hands. "Are you the knife for my brothers throat?"

Talmanese asked curiously.
 
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Rules were meant to be broken? Clearly this man was trouble, and perhaps Solitude should have never engaged with him in the first place. However, curiosity had always gotten her into predicaments that she rather enjoyed, at least in the future when she was recounting the tale to others.

You can try throwing them.” Solitude said, red eyes looking at the twins, almost daring them to try. But it seemed unless this man told them they could, they wouldn’t. Seemed he liked rules when it benefited him.

I’m not, actually, I got a signal to come and dispose of you. Until,” somehow she was able to reach a arm through the hole and then pointed at the chalice. “The Cardinal saw you had that.” There was a momentary pause. “But, yanno, I think I might be joining in on your contract. I know they called a friend of mine. He’ll let me tag along.

If everything went well, maybe Solitude could get some brownie points with the Archdioceses.

Without a word, Solitude then angled her way down onto the chapel floor, making her way to the chalice and picking it up. Upon touching it, every vein underneath her skin vibrated— to Tal, rivers of black would stand starkly against her pale skin. Solitude dropped the chalice, eyes wide, mouth open, her head thrown back.

Oh shit,” she said after a moment, as if her soul had to renter her body. “Now that!” She whistled long and low, before giggling like a madwoman. “That is some good shit, I feel like I could bring down a whole Kingdom!” Her shadow was shivering and stretching wide then long, as if it was excited as well.

She pointed a finger at Tal, wagging it at him as if she was in on some big secret and about to let him know about it as well.

It’s as the Cardinal said, it’s your cleverness that will kill ya.

Tal
 
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Tal listened to every word the assassin said. Parsing through jokes and cryptic answers to pick up every little morsel of detail he could. Information and knowledge was the key to all power, and he knew precious little about the assassins that he had just hired.

That in it of itself had been a gambit, but no one had ever won a Throne without throwing the dice a little.

But his lack of knowledge meant that he had to learn more. Paying attention was the best path to that. These killers were something else, a force in the world and in Sheketh particularly. The more he knew about them at the end of this the better.

A brow rose as she touched the chalice, his eyes flickering quickly over the black which took over her veins.

Behind him he heard one of the twins let out a little chirp of interest, but he motioned for both of them to stay put. The last thing he needed was for either of them to tinker with the situation. "A piece of wisdom I'll cherish forever.

Tal said as he finally pulled his gaze away from the assassin and turned to regard the rest of the chapel.

"I suppose I should just let you be." He said, musing. "Wait for my brother to be dead..."

Even as he spoke Talmanese began to move around the chapel, looking at the broken ruins, lingering.
 
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That’s what most people do— wait for whoever to die.” Solitude said, not quite picking up on Tal’s staying put in the Chapel. Most rushed out of there right away, and Solitude wasn’t sure why Tal had decided to linger. Didn’t the Cardinal freak him out? She was controlling shadows from hundreds of miles away! Well, Solitude supposed Tal couldn’t have known such a thing.

She went to go pick up the chalice, wanting to feel that incredible surge of promise and ecstasy once more. All of a sudden, she couldn’t move. She looked down, seeing shadows holding her in place.

LEAVE IT OR I’LL PUNISH YOU MYSELF.” The voice echoed around them. “YOU’RE ALREADY DUE FOR A PUNISHMENT FOR INTERACTING WITH A CLIENT.

It’s not my client though!” The assassin protested before a tendril of shadow wrapped around her neck. Solitude’s eyes bulged. A shadow seemed to be wrapped around her neck, and even if she were to claw at it, her fingers would feel nothing but her own skin. Solitude gagged but kept her mouth shut.

NEW ASSIGNMENT FOR YOU, SISTER SOLITUDE, WATCH OVER THIS MAN UNTIL HIS BROTHER IS DEAD. NOW. HE’S YOUR CLIENT. I’D MAKE YOURSELF SCARCE.” And just like the Cardinal appeared, she was gone. Solitude rubbed at her neck. There was no outward show of being choked, but Solitude leaned away from the chalice.

Damn,” She said, wheezing while she tried to smile. “Too bad I don’t have a fancy chalice to appease the Cardinal.” Solitude coughed, clearing her throat while she continued to rub at her neck. “Another E-rank job. Damnit.” She looked towards the twins, then down at the chalice, before finally, her crimson eyes landed on Tal.

You see your brother often?

Tal
 
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Before his exile Talmanese had been an impossible force. A constant headache for his father, his family, and the Death Watch Guard of Tyr.

A miscreant would have been the best word to describe his deeds.

Yet after exile things had changed.

Instead of continuing his path of debauchery and degeneracy he became a changed man. Always plotting, always planning, and always taking in every little detail that he could. Nothing would go to waste, everything would be used if it meant attaining what he desired. That was why he lingered, that was why when the the Cardinal appeared once more he stopped and focused.

He watched the entire interaction, listened with a fascination that would have put most scholars to shame. A smile touched his face as the Cardinal ordered Solitude to stay by his side.

Another opportunity to learn more. "I could always help you find one."

Tal said, though it was hard to tell whether or not the words were a jest. The small smile on his face almost teasing. He reached into his coat pocket, plucking free a cigar which he placed between his lips.

"I have a gift for making every job more dangerous." He assured her, a mischievous smile on his lips as he dug around for his matches.

The twins congregated near the entrance, clearly eager to leave the chapel and be away from magics they most certainly felt threatened by. "I haven't seen my brother in ten years."

Not since he'd been exiled. "And I doubt I'll be seeing him any time soon, unless he comes to kill me."

Something that was not outside of the realm of possibility.
 
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Was there more than one chalice? The way Solitude side-eyed Tal as he pulled out a cigar and matches showed how much she hope there to be another, just waiting to be found. Then, she’d go to the Cardinal herself and show her the fancy thing and demand to be recognized for all her hardwork. Like that Celestial bimbo and himbo she took out last year which she totally wasn’t lying about.

Crimson eyes looked at the twins, a wave of pity quickly being hidden until a bright idea came to her mind.

What better way to show that she was capable to everyone back at the Church than by not only protecting her contract but completing his request? Better and faster than the Brother that was on the mission. She could do it, if certain circumstances happened and luck was on her side.

Idiot, you’d get all three of us killed. Celosia chided. Sol ignored her shadowkin’s remark echoing in her head. Taking another’s contract wasn’t necessarily unheard of, but it was deeply frowned upon and often something that guaranteed punishment.

Of course, if it happened because poor Brother Love was unable to complete it and Tal was in danger….

Yanno, it’s kinda rude to smoke in a church. Bad manners and all that,” Solitude said, looking at Tal with a raised brow and then gestured for him to join the poor twins near the door. “We can walk and talk. Maybe you can tell me something good about that no-good brother of yours?

Tal
 
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"I guess that depends on the church." Tal countered, but stopped himself just short from lightning the cigar.

The last thing he needed was for that strange shadow thing to pop out and stab him in the throat for trying to enjoy a smoke. His gaze flickered to the twins, both of whom glanced at Solitude with just the slightest hint of gratitude in their eyes.

Talmanes smiled for a moment. "But, if we don't have to wait for your...colleague, I suppose there's better places to smoke."

He wasn't entirely sure what to call Solitude's fellow assassin, though he supposed it didn't matter much if he wasn't ever going to meet the man.

With a shrug, Talmanes took one last look around the little chapel, and then turned to walk towards the door. The Twins moved within the span of a breath, stepping through the exit and visibly relaxing almost the moment they moved across the threshold.

As Tal and Solitude followed behind them he brought the match to his cigar, lighting it and filling the air with the pleasant scent of Allirian Tobacco.

"There are few good things I can tell you about my brother." He mused. "He's an ambitious little shit who stabbed me in the back."

It was hard to keep the vitriol from his voice. "But, I suppose that's not very helpful to you is it?"

He asked, gauging her intent.
 
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The young assassin raised a hand to her brow as if in salute, but it was merely to shield her eyes from the soft drizzle of rain. She looked up at the dark sky, unable to see the moons or the stars. Completely in the dark, she felt safe and secure. Perhaps that was why Solitude felt comfortable in interacting with Tal. Truth be told, Solitude knew she couldn’t take on a Prince of Tyr on her own. Her blood magic was shit (she had failed every class every single year and it was due to Father Perseverance’s suggestion about it being a waste of time to continue her training in magic that finally had everyone dropping their uncool persistence in getting her to learn) and her magic was shit in general. Really, outside of using the portal stones, Solitude couldn’t use magic in a serious matter. Maybe a fizz or a spark but nothing that could help her.

Yet, Solitude could work the shadows and the darkness with ease. Full dark, no stars: her favorite time of the year. Outside in the darkness, clad in all black and with her black hair, Sol seemed to trail along like a black fog in the dark night. Wanting to still be seen, she let her red eyes carry their faint glow, but the rest of Sol’s body seemed to ebb and flow with the night instead of being solid.

Brother— er, I mean, Father— will show you his face when he wants.” Solitude told Tal, which was just as helpful as Tal’s description of his brother. Obviously, something had happened between them, or would happen between them, if he wanted his brother dead. And he knew if he wanted the Church to be in on such a thing he had to bring more than coin.

Of course, the Cardinal probably already knew plenty about his brother. Solitude had no time to worry about the politics of the Church, much less the politics within Tyr. The only thing she could guess about the backstabbing brother who was ambitious, a little shit, and not much else, was that they looked similar.

It’s not.” Sol agreed. “Is he as smart as you… or smarter?” She pressed. Despite the twins being in front of them, Solitude didn’t walk side by side with Tal, a part of her wanting to lead the way.

Tal
 
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Neither of the twins looked back as they began to make their way towards the Palace, more than eager to return to the luxury they had been so enjoying for these last few days. Tal trailed slightly behind Solitude, watching as her form seemed to shift and simmer into a dark shadow. Ever twisting and trailing with a dark fog that stretched with every step she took.

This is far more interesting than I thought it would be. The Prince mused to himself as they continued.

"He is clever, but I wouldn't say more or less intelligent than me or my other brother." Talmanes said finally, taking a long drag of his cigar and letting the smoke trickle from his mouth. "Of the three of us, he's the best with a blade."

That much Tal would readily admit. Eren had trained for decades to achieve the skill he had, making even some of the Death Watch guard look like amateurs. "He has no magic."

He alone held the monopoly on that among his siblings. Though his elder brother could delve the Blood almost as well as Calliope.

"But, his most dangerous quality is his charm." Talmanes frowned for a moment, taking another drag of his cigar before continuing. "Eren has a way with words."

It seemed a silly thing to highlight, but Tal continued to explain. "He has a mind for people, reading them. I don't know how, but always he seems to know exactly what is desired. What the right thing is to say."

 
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Huh.” Solitude said. Tal had given her some good info, of course, the issue that tended to always be the issue was that she wasn’t too sure on what to do with the information. Some things were obvious, such as that he had no magic but seemed to be good with a blade.

Eren having a way to speak as he should to get what he wanted posed only more confusion. Why would such a thing matter? Was he going to talk his way out of his death? Sol would kill him no problem. Same with the assassin actually going after him.

How good are you with a blade?” Solitude asked instead, half-tempted to find out right here and now.

Tal
 
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Another long drag of his cigar, this time letting the smoke linger upon his tongue before he let out a breath. "As decent as any Tyrian."

Which was to say, he knew enough not to cut himself and kill any untrained moron. Compared to Eren though he was a child, not that he would ever admit such a thing out loud.

"But." His eyes flickered over towards her for a brief moment, as if he knew the very thought that trailed through her head. "You don't really need to be good with a blade when you can turn someone into ash at the snap of a finger."

A pleasant smile touched his lips.

For a decade that power had been taken from him, sealed away, and now finally he had taken it back. That satisfaction alone would have been enough for most, but Tal wanted more.

He always wanted more.
 
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Solitude wondered if it somehow came to swordskill, if she could best Eren. She had trained all her life with various blades and had preferred knives the most, if only because it gave her the opportunity to hide away and not reveal herself. There was something in her gut that told her while she had never met Eren and had never seen his skill with the sword, she wouldn’t have survived. She never had the discipline to last long in a sword fight.

After a minute or so, Solitude was quick to run away from a fight— any sort of fight. If she couldn’t best them in that minute when she was at her best, then she wasn’t going to be able to beat them in the next minute. She had never outsmarted her enemies on the fly, that had always been luck. Even with luck on her side, she had her fair share of losses.

Glancing at Tal as he shared with her something that made him dangerous, eliciting a shiver of unease down her spine. Turning into ash? She had the vision of someone being set on fire and instantly turning into ash. Scarier yet was the image of someone just falling into pieces of ash until they were nothing more than dust to be swept away by the wind.

Suddenly, she couldn’t help but want to keep her eye on Tal. She felt her sister whisper inside her mind, reminding her that within any contract by the Church, assassins were protected. Sort of. If Tal killed her for any reason, anyone could go after him, contract or not. It would be an free for all for Tal’s head, and with it a badge of honor by the Archbishops themselves.

One too many times, enemies had hired an assassin from the Church to kill them. A trick that the Church had caught onto quickly. Selfishly, Sol couldn’t help but feel how useless it was. It didn’t protect her, not really. She’d still be dead and would she feel better in the arms of the Mother if Tal died months or years later? Probably not. She wasn’t the vengeful sort.

Well, for my sake, I’m glad your brother can’t turn me into a pile of ash.” Which probably made him much better with the sword. She gestured to the twins leading the way. “You keep them around even though you can turn anyone into ash? What do they do if they can’t get rid of your brother? Other than making the Cardinal angry.

Tal
 
As they continued their path the party quickly made their way out of the more decrepit part of Tyr.

The way in which the Twins lead them took them passed the ancient monasteries. Huge ornate buildings gilded with gold and running red with rivers of overlapping lava. Small bridges saw their path clear of the flows, but the subtle scent of sulfur mixed with dozens of burning herbs filled the air as they wandered.

"They do a different kind of magic." Tal said by way of simple explanation, though of course knew it wouldn't be enough.

"I can turn a man to ash, break down a city wall." With cigar in hand he gestured with a dismissive wave, cutting off a list but indicating there was obviously much more. "But they do so much more."

Talmanes continued. "They practice the Váud, a deep magic of the body and mind."

A magic which one could not easily learn. Talmanes had spent months in both the Bayou, and with Mama Leveau trying. He'd not had the talent for it.

"With a single strand of your hair, the girls could paralyze you for life." An easy enough trick, once they made their little dolls. "A bowl of your blood, they could turn you into a monster..."

He mused for a second, then added. "Or a god."

There was more to it of course. The Váud required far more ritual and in-depth knowledge than he had ever seen. Even scholars in Elbion had never quite managed to grasp the magic, one of reasons it was so sparsely found. "And I make it a rule never to do something myself, If I can get someone else to do it better for me."
 
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They’d be stronger if they had been given to the Church. A split soul can only be so strong.” Solitude said, not out of spite but out of pity. It sounded like these women had potential. Solitude didn’t fear them, even if Tal’s warning that they could paralyze for life or using her blood against her. Most assassins of the Caliginous Church usually ended up becoming a monster, anyhow.

Of course, Solitude understood how important blood was, how it bound one to fate and destiny and other mysteries of the world.

The assassin seemed to glide over the path, hardly taking notice of the magma flowing in untethered rivulets about the monasteries. She hadn’t often been in Tyr often, but there was a arms dealer that had good shit (keyword, shit, but good shit nonetheless) for cheap. A lot of the marks in Tyr were usually never given to her.

They were too high level. And while Solitude had gotten a promotion, it only elevated her from guarding duty to maybe taking out a bandit or a thug unless she was with another assassin.

I wish I was rich to have people do things for me.” She mumbled to herself, then suddenly spun around, looking behind them. She was still, and her body became whole and solid once more. “What’s in these monasteries?” She asked, her voice serious.

Tal
 
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Tal glanced at Solitude for a brief moment, amusement flickering over his features. "I am unsure their mother would agree with that sentiment."

Mama Leveau had her own way of looking at the world, though Talmanes suddenly found himself beyond curious as to what the ancient witch would say about the Calignous Church. He mused for a moment, barely hearing his companions quip about wealth.

He was about to rebuke her when suddenly she proffered another question about their surroundings.

"Nothing." Tal answered with a shrug. "At least in most."

Coming to a stop before one of the monasteries, Tal turned. "They are an old facet of Tyr, a remembrance of the Ogre's Ancestors."

Three species had 'founded' the city; Goblins, Ogres, and the Tyrians themselves. Their cultures had intermixed and intertwined, and although the latter certainly held a certain dominance the other two had enough sway to make their mark.

"They are filled with shrines and offerings, but otherwise empty." A shrug rolled over his shoulders and he turned to continue on the path. "Religious superstition."

Tal said dismissively, waving, and never noticing the figures which skulked through the darkness behind them.
 
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