Private Tales All or Nothing

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Jeriah Thackett, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Jeriah Thackett

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    The Four Wheatsheaves, The Shallows, Alliria


    Thackett was fairly certain the person stood beside him had to have ogre blood in his veins. That, or he was the aborted experiment of a mad alchemist trying to create a human golem.

    "Good game, eh?" Thackett asked before blowing a smoke ring.

    "Eh," went the gnarled mound of gristle as the smoke ring dispersed on the wooden beams above.

    Jeriah suspected he was on the payroll of the establishment. The type of person who ensured that everyone paid their debts at the end of an evening. The guards didn't come out here and if they did they were also on the payroll.

    "I'm enjoying it," Thackett lied. He should have been enjoying it. Even though he had crashed out early that had always been part of the plan. Talk easily, play aggressively and draw out some of the bigger players. The one of the others would clean up.

    That would have been happening right now but for one frustratingly capable faun. At least he thought that was a faun. He was putting all his energy into not saying something deeply racist under his breath. His god hated him enough already without adding that kind of behaviour to the ledger.

    Hera Irari Melfa William de Courcey
     
  2. William de Courcey

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    William grunted in response to Jeriah. The plan had been a good one on the surface. Join the game as strangers. Jeriah would bluff and brag until they'd picked their targets. Then one of them would come in to sweep up the spoils.

    True to recent form, it wasn't going as planned. Everything always went well until they didn't. The spanner in the works took the form of a tiny faun, somehow still in the game despite all their best efforts. He was playing the game of his life and cheating well but still losing cash. The pot just kept getting bigger and bigger. The faun just kept raking it in.

    William wasn't a bad card player. He knew the rules for twoscore games and was quick enough with his hands to cheat when he needed to. The trick with cheating was not to get caught. Anyone honest was long gone from the table. You had to cheat just to keep yourself in the game. Everyone else was at it.

    He tried (and failed) to hide a smirk as he took a quick glance at his cards. "Yeah I'll match it" he said, trying to keep his voice neutral. He pushed forward a few coins to the middle of the table. Inside he cursed his poor luck. He'd swore he was due a good hand based on the law of averages alone. Somehow fate had conspired to hand him nothing.
     
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  3. Hera

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    #3 Hera, Apr 4, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
    Hera floated in the background of it all, sitting off to the side just in the men's sight. She couldn't see the faun's cards, but the trio knew that meant nothing to their little con.

    The key was getting herself to see something. But that was harder said than done.

    The vision came a moment too late, William's cards placed down as she saw the faun's own. She bit her lip regardless, one of their many signals to tell them ... bad move. Dammit, William. You're suppose to give her a second to feel it out! Or in this case-- 30 seconds. But still.

    She rubbed her face, not a tell, and sipped heavily at her ale.
     
  4. Irari

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    Irari Fast fingers, fleet feet

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    The faun looked one halo away from a full-on angelic smile. She had the supports ready, at any rate, and— one of her horns was itching.

    Again.

    With a mild sigh, Irari tilted her head to the side and gave the soft velvet a little scratch.

    “That’s a shame,” she trilled at the sight of the cards on the table. “You were doing so well this round.” Her fingers moved like spiders over the pot, raking in the earnings of the round. The pile in front of her was getting rather sizeable. And to think she’d expected a slow night – the two boys at the table came in with more coin than this tavern usually saw in a week.

    Then again, Lady Luck always seemed to like her better than ordinary people.
     
  5. Jeriah Thackett

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    #5 Jeriah Thackett, Apr 5, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
    It was time, Jeriah realised, to start asking some pointed questions about who knew the faun. If they were an outsider then more than a few in the tavern would be thinking about following her. Lots of people had terrible accidents in the shallows and fell into the Allir. If a body was dredged up down river they were said to have had an unlucky swim.

    He couldn't stand watching William getting taken to the cleaners, so moved through the crowd at the bar looking for familiar faces.

    Before the next cards were dealt Jeriah had asked a few questions in the right ears and found out that she had a few connections. A few names were mentioned. Names of people one didn't want to cross.

    One of them was in the Inn.

    "Thackett!" said Galdo Travaun happily. He clasped a massive hand to Jeriah's shoulder and gave it an uncomfortable squeeze. A familiar face, but not one Jeriah was happy to see.

    "Good to see you too," Jeriah smiled.

    "Heard you asking about Pagat. Really good at the cards, eh? Better with a quill. Broke the Bronze Guild's ledger system like child's play. In fact got a job lined up I need her for and would you know, I was just thinking I was short handed and that you and your crew could fill in," Galdo said. A thick digit was now being pointed at Jeriah's chest. With his back to the cards table he couldn't even make eye contact with one of the other Noble Vagrants.

    "Now you know we only work for ourselves," Thackett started.

    " True and you would be." The finger now rested directly over Jeriah's heart. "And you could all earn...for yourselves...how much is your man down now?"

    Jeriah grimaced. They were being played. The faun was connected. And her connections were playing them.
     
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  6. William de Courcey

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    William resisted the urge to glare back at Hera. He couldn't afford to acknowledge anyone else from their crew, it'd blow their whole scheme. Hera rubbed her face and William's composure slipped for a second. What the bloody hell was that meant to mean?! His face looked calm but internally he was racking his mind to try and remember the signals they'd agreed on before this.

    The faun spoke now, the delicate little creature had the nerve to sound pleasant and even sympathetic. Her hands scooped the pot towards her. "I'll do even better next one" he said through gritted teeth. He reached for his new hand of cards, giving the dealer a glare for good measure.

    It wasn't technically their money they were losing. But they had stolen it honestly. It was aggravating to have it disappear to some grinning little creature out of a nightmare.
     
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  7. Hera

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    #7 Hera, Apr 6, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
    Hera perked, her head tilting as she looked directly at the faun's nimble fingers.

    Huh.

    Huh.

    Well they didn't have a signal for this. They really needed a signal for this.

    A whispering thought caught her attention at that moment, her eyes snapping to the back of Jeriah's head.

    She looked slowly to her right, catching a pair of eyes she did not know watching her. Wait for the hair tuck... The man coaxed to himself. Her fingers twitched. Hair tuck meant William should go all in. And this stranger knew that because...

    Well fuck. He knew her con.

    She straight out made a cutting motion across her throat to William. Cut it. Dead fish in water. The gig is up, drop those cards and let's move. She stood abruptly, only for the man to her right to stand as well.
     
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  8. Irari

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    #8 Irari, Apr 6, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
    She peeled her new hand off the worn oak table and inspected the cards with that same fixed smile. Her lips had barely twitched over the course of the evening, and she could tell it was starting to make younger man uncomfortable.

    Excellent.

    Her draw… not so much. Irari shuffled the cards in her hand, unblinking even as they changed with each pass.

    With her situation thus improved, the faun leaned back in her chair, letting her gaze wander about the tavern in an aimless pattern. Blue eyes, brown hair, eyes blown wide in shock. Further out – Travaun with smaller man, a washed up crop of dirty blonde and pipe ash. Both of them were smiling, and both of them were less than happy to see each other.

    Irari ticked her head the other way, taking in the human opponent at the table. Tension gathered in the line of his shoulders, in the way his fingers strangled the cards, in the way his jaw worked even when no words were coming out.

    The air was changing around them, vibrating with the charge of a coming storm. Others like her – who juggled torches whilst picking pockets, who made coins disappear from open palms and found rings behind their ears that were just before on some lady’s finger – the people of the craft, who had learned to see all the things others missed, were slowly filtering out of the tavern, slipping away like shadows at midday.

    Her eyes returned to the table as she perked up, smile turned up another notch. “It’s your turn, young master.”
     
  9. Jeriah Thackett

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    Jeriah spared a glance over his shoulder at the table. There had been six sat around it at first. He had played his part and the other three had been easy to clean out. He briefly entertained the notion of backhanding that smirk off of the faun's face. Deciding that wasn't appropriate he silently apologised.

    Thackett scanned the rest of the room without moving his eyes further. There were several others watching the exchange including man-ogre-golem.

    "That's our loss to take. Give us the pitch and we'll decide if we want in," Thackett replied. He tilted his head to one side as he waited to see how badly such defiance would go down. He might have had his failings, but he was no coward. The issue was one of practicality. That money hadn't been all their own and it put them in a bind now. Already he was trying to work out at what point Travaun had started playing them.

    "When your man is done gather your crew and come to the back room," Travaun said. His hand remained on the shoulder until Thackett nodded.
     
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  10. William de Courcey

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    Young master. William wasn't going to be spoken to like that by some creature that had stepped out of a fairy tale. The little beast had the nerve to smile at him. "Yeah. I know" he retorted, his voice heated. He took a look at his cards and his other hand moved to his bet. And froze.

    Hera had abandoned subtlety in an effort to actually have him listen to her signals. No hairtuck, just a sharp cutting motion. Ditch it, get out. She stood and a man next to her too. William copped on too late but still pushed his chair back anyways. A solid hand landed on his shoulder. A pair of knuckledusters were on it. The cold metal tapped gently off his cheek and his chair was pushed back in again.

    William slid the last of his money in and then laid down his cards. Four aces. Ordinarily it'd be a winning hand but today was turning out to be anything but ordinary.
     
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  11. Hera

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    Hera huffed and abandoned William to his fate. A sharp glance was given to the man that had stood with her, her hand moving purposefully to a small handle belted into a sheath at her thigh. It was enough of a deterrence. She jerked her chin up at him and moved briskly to Jeriah's side.

    "Why do we always fall into traps?" She protested, her cheek brushing his shoulder as the quiet words found him. She sat heavily into the seat Travaun left behind, pouting. "William sucks at paying attention to me."
     
  12. Irari

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    #12 Irari, Apr 10, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    In spite of the fear and disorder that were gradually creeping into the denizens of the tavern, Irari kept that irksome smile going.

    Now, a good cheater – in the Four Wheatsheaves, that meant everybody – knew the key to a trick was not getting caught. A great cheater knew how to seize every whiff of chaos, capitalize on it, and emerge victorious.

    Irari watched the brass knuckles descend heavy on the shoulder of her young opponent. Her eyes didn’t move, but her fingers – they had a life of their own. Within that one smooth motion of laying out her cards were hidden a shuffle, a switch, and a whopping three palming techniques.

    When she pulled her fingers back, the four aces were hers, and William was left with a paltry pair of threes. Irari leaned back, draping an arm across the chair.

    “You’ve got an appointment with the man, I hear.” She tilted her head to the side, unfolding her fingers in lazy fans. Her smile grew wide as cards kept flashing between them, disappearing back into thin air whenever she turned her hand.

    “I’d hurry if I were you. Travaun isn’t known for his patience.”
     
  13. Jeriah Thackett

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    "I know he doesn't," Jeriah told Hera. He wasn't certain if her comment had been purely professional in nature.

    Jeriah wasn't certain who he wanted to strike more: Travaun or Pagat. Both the criminal and the card-savvy faun seemed to carry an air of smugness that he wasn't in the mood for. Even if they did take this job he might still consider having Melfa rip off one of the faun's arms just to see the expression on her face.

    Vengeance apparently sat more easily with their gods than gloating, but he wasn't sure that it was appropriate for being out 'cheated' in a rotten game of cards.

    "Well, it's nice to see you all together here," Travaun chuckled.

    Jeriah always thought it was strange that Galdo Travaun kept his long red hair so I'm acutely brushed and platted, yet had a mouth of crooked and rotting teeth. It wasn't as if he didn't have the coin to have a mage restore them.

    "What were you so keen to have us help with you rigged a card game?"

    "Careful now. You might actually like this one and you wouldn't want to miss out by throwing shit around like that. Cos what I want to do is sell a noble...oh you'll like this one Jeriah...his own gold mine."
     
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  14. William de Courcey

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    Outfoxed, outplayed, outmatched. William watched the last of their pooled money disappear into the faun's talons. They'd been played. It was never nice to be on the receiving end. They'd blundered into it like culchies at a town fair. If looks could kill, the faun would have been an eviscerated mess twitching on the floor. He rose from his chair with ill grace, stalking towards where Jeriah and Hera were, neither of the pair looking particularly delighted with themselves. His last gaze promised the faun a reckoning.

    He bit off any sharp comments seeing that Jeriah was negotiating somewhat. His eyes widened a little at the words. A gold mine, already owned. How the feck were they meant to pull that one off?
     
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  15. Hera

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    #15 Hera, Apr 14, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
    Hera snorted at the irony. "You mean like you're doing to us? That trick is gonna get old, fast. Oh look whose here to join us-- SirDumbButt." She reached out and flicked Williams ear, peeved. "I bit my lip. I bit it, what else was that suppose to mean?"

    Never mind that she hadn't seen the faun was cheating until the end-- semantics. Unimportant!

    She glanced over at the faun, her brows furrowing. "Oh gods, I'm going to end up smiling at her. I don't want to smile at her, I'd rather see her face into a pile of dung," she rattled passionately, glaring at the woman.
     
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  16. Irari

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    Irari made a show of waving at the girl who was staring daggers at her through the veil of smoke in the air. None of the reassembling posse looked much pleased at the turn of their evening, though each scowled in an uniquely amusing way.

    With the last of her hard-cheated coin stowed away on her person – the pouch on her belt was purely for show – the faun rose from the table and made her slow approach.
     
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  17. Jeriah Thackett

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    Maybe she'll get worse than dung, Jeriah thought to himself. He noticed that the winnings did not go to the faun's purse.

    I'm sleight of eye, not hand, he had once told William. That had been right before he had explained what sleight meant.

    Right now his attention returned to being split between Hera and Galdo Travaun. If more danger was coming then it paid to keep an eye on Hera.

    He didn't want to listen to what Galdo had to say. The problem was that the opening did tickle his particular sense of humour. A sense of humour that enjoyed any novel method by which the rich were forcibly parted from their wealth.

    "His own mine?" Thackett asked, trying to keep his expression neutral.

    "A rare opportunity. The individual in question let's just one man manage his estates. All that knowledge in one person. As it happens a worker's dispute is going to lead to the mine being unoccupied for a period of time.

    "The individual in question doesn't know his arse from his elbow. So all we need to do is make the manager of his estates unavailable, alter some of the records in his own books, forge the property documents and take the idiot for a tour of his own gold mine."

    "I don't like the sound of it," Jeriah said. The problem was that he did like the sound of it. And Galdo would know that too. "Thoughts?" he asked Hera and William. The faun was spared a brief glance.
     
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  18. William de Courcey

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    William was less than pleased to be greeted with a sharp flick to the ear. It was hard enough to sting. "Oh well I'm not sure, maybe tell me what the hand to your face meant? Or the sour glare?" he demanded, one hand going to his ear to rub it. "Were you dreaming or just drunk?"

    He was spared from further bickering by Jeriah interjecting to ask their opinions. "Unavailable? Won't the lord get to wondering something's afoot if his manager is found in an alley with a knife stickin' outta his back?"

    More worrying was the look in Jeriah's eye. It was never a good idea when that glint was there. It showed he was intrigued. That same look had gotten them in trouble too many times to recount. "You and Hera might know your words and letters, but are either of yiz forgers?"
     
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  19. Jeriah Thackett

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    Thackett couldn't even bring himself to point at the faun. He dropped his chin to his chest, still sulky over being played.

    Galdo grinned at William and pointed at Irari
     
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  20. Hera

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    "Well we can grumble and spat but we're gonna end up doing it," She told them both. She spared no amount of said grumbling as she did so, crossing her arms and frowning with deep intention at the faun.

    "But I'm not gonna like it. Nu-uh. Watch me. There's not gonna be a single thing about her that's interesting at all." Her intense gaze did not the leave the faun as it approached them, though something to Hera's words suggested she would end up doing all of those things and more, she just wasn't about to go accepting it yet.

    "You cheated," she stated bluntly to faun as she pulled up to them.
     
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  21. Irari

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    “Did I?”

    Her glimmering eyes only grew larger as she pouted at the grumpy girl of the grumpy trio. The other two men looked their own flavors of displeased, whilst Travaun’s bushy brows spoke to the exact opposite.

    They’d agreed, then.

    Insomuch as a reluctant virgin agreed to marry a grimy old noble.

    Irari tamped down a far less innocent expression and blinked instead at their ringleader. “Would you like to stand around and lose your hard-stolen coin some more, or shall we get to work?”
     
  22. Jeriah Thackett

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    His hand twitched against the outside of his thigh. It took all his self control - and he had developed a lot during his youth - to now backhand the faun from her chair. Taking a breath, he turned back to Travaun.

    "Who is the mark?" he asked.

    "We're all in agreement then?" Travaun pronounced.

    Fucker was going to make him spell it out. "Yes we're all agreed that we'll do this job," Jeriah replied through gritted teeth.

    "Count Ounday," said Travaun.

    "Oh, young lad, parents died of the clap when he was tiny," Jeriah replied.

    "Know of him?"

    "An obvious mark is one to keep an eye on," Jeriah replied. He was well known for being a little short of wits. Gullible to boot. The fortune he had inhereted was slowly ebbing away. Everyone wanted a piece.

    "William, think you can make his estate manager be unavailable for a while?"
     
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  23. William de Courcey

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    Subtlety went right out the window with Hera's blunt accusation. Righteous indignation with the sort of affronted tone only a thief or cleric could pull off. The little monster then had the gall to pout at them. She was like something out of a children's horror story. The same sort of creature that stole babes from cradles or ate bold children.

    "Yes you did" he said, pissed off himself but also dying to know how they'd been played. He made sure to side with Hera just in case she took the chance to brain the creature with something hefty.

    His mouth opened like he'd been slapped. Their coin had been stolen but that wasn't the point! Himself, Hera, and Jeriah had worked bloody hard for it. Any chance at a comeback was mooted by Jeriah deciding to press on with the issue at hand.

    His eyes widened a little. "Unavailable? In the sense that he's vomiting his guts out or that he's found himself abducted and locked in a small room somewhere?"
     
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  24. Hera

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    "You're gonna stick him tied up in a cargo box on a shipping boat due out tonight," Hera informed him, her tone simple but factual about such a strange collection of details.

    "And you-" Her tone turned very pointedly towards the faun. "Aren't doing nothing but watching and cutting open your sleeves." She reached out in a rude attempt to get at the faun's sleeves herself.

    "How much crap can you store in there anyway?"

    Not a single interesting thing. Nope.
     
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  25. William de Courcey

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    "I-" William started to speak and stopped. Hera's voice made it sound so matter of fact. It was only when you listened to the words that you realised how scarily specific and detailed it was. The real scary fact was how often she turned out to be right. "Thanks" he finished lamely.

    She put herself forward to defend the group's honour. He almost cringed at letting her fight the battle for them but she had unfinished business with the faun.
     
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