Private Tales An Evening with Friends

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Norris

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Rumer Nathaira Kasimir

Vel Tenebria was isolated, forgotten, and it lay underneath the streets of Vel Anir. While much of it was unexplored or forbidden this particular section was cordoned off. Reserved for a specific group of half-breed freaks that the Anirians had crafted into expert assassins. It was lavish and ornate, likely the only area within Vel Anir that the Forsaken were permitted into that wasn’t a complete shithole.

It served a purpose, however. At least once a year the mixed bloods were required to report on their experiences.

Ensuring they weren’t feeling sympathy for their victims, guaranteeing their loyalty, and updating them on high-value targets that couldn’t be precisely located. Let them know just how important Vel Anir actually was. How much greater the empire of man was than whatever filth they had been rescued from. Of course, the kiddos weren’t informed of any of this. They were invited under the pretense of a simple meet and greet, every year. A simple tradition to catch up with their handler and be offered horderves and a cheap glass of wine.

Even if they had too much pride to accept the booze or the food.

Of course, Norris didn’t see their rejection of Anirian hospitality as prideful. He knew better. He was smart enough to know that these mongrels hated humans. Hated him. They wouldn’t dare accept even the appearance of kindness.

That was OK... so long as they were obedient.

More wine for himself.

”What’d you bring us?” he asked between puffs of smoke from his stale cigar.

Genevieve sat the tray down onto the simple coffee table in the middle of the room. The plush of the decadent rug absorbing the indentations of her heels. “An Obanaese Champagne, an Allirian Chardonnay, and an Anirian Zinfandel. As you requested.” Next to the wine and the glasses sat an array of cured meats and cheeses as well. Just in case his charges were hungry.

Norris knew that Genevieve was ecstatic to be seeing the children again. She was too sentimental, too soft. It was obvious before she put on all of the makeup and the elaborate getup that she was looking forward to the evening. Unfortunately for her there wouldn’t be any need for a healer tonight.

The handler put out his cigar in the ashtray upon the dark oak bar and made his way towards the lounge area. Steadying himself with his cane he eventually plopped down upon the plush couch in the center which was flanked by three different chairs for his expected guests.

His oily moustache framed his mouth as he informed his assistant, ”very good. You’re dismissed. Wait for me in the study.”

“But I,” the disappointment on her face was obvious. It confirmed what Norris already knew. She was weak. She cared about these fucking freaks of nature. At least she had the good sense not to argue as she accepted her fate with a resigned tone and simply said, “as you wish.”

And with that her heels clanked against the marble whilst she stomped down the hallway opposite of where the Forsaken would enter. Norris sat, poured himself a glass of the Anirian Zinfandel (because why on earth would he drink either of the lesser nation’s swill) and awaited the arrival of his guests.
 

Kasimir

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"Be brave, little mouse."

Kasimir had not said a word the entire trip to Norris' abode where the pair had been summoned. This was not unusual for the Tiefling but there was something different about the atmosphere around him. There was none of the usual calm, collected, almost aloft and disinterested sense that he usually embodied. Today he was worried. It might not be obvious to those who didn't know him but he walked stiffer, even with his hands in his pockets, and there was a slight marring of the brow as his jaw clenched and unclenched. Being summoned was never a good sign, especially by someone like Norris. Their handler was a cruel man with a sickened sense of how to best keep his Forsaken in line. With one hand he might tempt with a carrot whilst with the hand behind his back be prepared the knife.

His mind was turning over every mission he had completed in the last month that could have been a reason for them to be summoned but nothing shouted to him. The only thing he could think might had warranted this visit was Rumer's training. Did he wanted to test her new skills? Kasimir was quietly confident in the girl; she might have disliked what it was they did but their private lessons by the river bank had brought her slowly from her shell. He was sure that one day she would be one of the best he had trained.

He cast a glance down to the girl at his side and offered his words along with a heavy hand on her shoulder. A small squeeze. He knew Nat loved this girl in her own way and he wished he could protect her.

But alas that was not their life.

With a deep breath he knocked on the door.
 

Rumer

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Brave..Be brave.. She could do that.

She couldn't do that
. She felt sick, and she was barely able to hold down the contents of her stomach as her feet were like lead carrying her toward that door, knowing who waited behind it. She had paused several times but had managed to keep moving if only to spare them whatever punishment would await them for being late.

"What does he want?.." she murmured quietly, more to herself, knowing that questions were pointless and most often punished. Rumer could already conjure the smell of smoke, could feel it choking her before she'd already breathed it in. She'd smelled burnt and rotting flesh, vomit, blood and excrement, and there was nothing, nothing worse than that smell. It haunted her like a spectre, taking root in her mind and dragging her back to every encounter she'd ever had with their handler. As though the physical scars were not enough, they were nothing in comparison to how fractured her mind was.

She'd been good. She'd done as she'd been told, she'd murdered who she'd been instructed to murder. "What does he want?.." she murmured again, and again, expecting no answer. Her clammy hands fidgeted by her sides, fingers clenching and unclenching into trembling fists, getting it out of her system before stepping into his company. He seemed to enjoy her fear and squirming, but she was strong now. Right?

Kasimir's knock at the door struck her heart to a higher pitch, her chest undulating with each sharp breath as panic began clouding her mind. Her foot took a step back and her hand, as though controlled by her logical mind, reached up and gripped at the tiefling's sleeve to stop herself running away.

Brave...Be brave... She could do that.
 
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Nathaira

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Nathaira's steps were hurried. She passed row after row of torches in the dark, dank passageways. Her tongue was flickering in and out of her lips more that usual, nervously prodding for scents and signs of danger. An instinctive reflex, and quite unnecessary. Danger was omnipresent.

The reason for this particular danger eluded her. She had reported to Norris year after year, sometimes in Vel Tenebria and sometimes elsewhere. However, the summons coming so soon after her delayed return had her worried. She had been careful, tried not to linger so long on the road as to cause suspicion, but Norris' eyes always reached further than expected. If she were to be chastised she hoped it would only be for wasting time.

She rounded a final turn just in time to see the backs of Kasimir and Rumer as the tiefling knocked, and she hurried behind them to at least appear as though they had arrived together. She initially felt a small bump of joy at seeing the two of them, a bump that was quickly replaced by more uneasiness. Norris seeing the three of them together was unusual. What was more, this would be the first time Kasimir had seen her since their mission in Belgrath. Guilt for how she had left things then still tore at her.

Rumer had grown. Had it been so long since she'd seen the child? More regrets.

Hidden from view of the door, she gently touched Rumer's shoulder and the small of Kasimir's back. It was as much of a greeting as she dared at this time.
 

Norris

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The door knocked and Norris rose to his feet, balancing himself with the rose-wood cane that had been crafted as a result of his ‘accident.’ Once he had hobbled over towards the door itself he placed a firm hand upon the door knob and opened the oaken door slowly.

It was always best to let anticipation build in moments like this.

”Good evening,” he said with an unusual vigor to his voice. ”So good that the three of you could make it,” as if they had a choice, ”come on in, make yourselves at home.”

Norris didn’t wait to see if the Forsaken followed him. He turned and began to limp towards the sitting area, his cane clanking against the tanned marble floor. ”I’m sure the little one there has told you two about the unfortunate incident that’s forced me to use this damned cane,” the handler stated while letting the words hang for a moment. After enough time to make the fucking bitch of a half-elf sweat he turned to look over his shoulder and added, ”hunting accident out at my cabin in the Falwood. Lucky for me I had dollface there to help me out. Make sure I was okay.”

He grinned in the way a twisted vulture smiles before it devours a fresh carcass.

”Have a seat.”

The proctor plopped himself onto the sofa and plucked his glass of red wine from the table. Gesturing to the rest of the food and drinks he added, ”help yourselves to a glass or a bite of nourishment. It’s just so good to have you kids here.”

A gulp of the red liquid was followed by a satisfactory stare. ”So, Snake-Eyes, you’ve been doing well? Feeling healthy?” A quick glance was leveled at the half-naga until he shifted his attention towards the half-tiefling. ”And you Imp? You and my pet snake paid a visit to the dwarves, yes?”

Norris’ eyes focused on the trio. He found they often were unsettled by direct eye contact. Must have been the shame of being some mix-bloodied freak.
 

Kasimir

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The death-grip on his sleeve, a gentle brush of long fingers against the small of his back. Both so different and yet both filled with the same emotions he too was no doubt feeling. In an ideal world he would simply turn around and whisk them both off somewhere far away. Somewhere where Rumer wouldn't have to bury the very core of her being and turn it black with every kill she did for them. Somewhere where Nat could have openly greeted him and he could have held her as she told him where she had been. He couldn't even turn to look at her and see with his own eyes she was in fact well after whatever adventure she had been on since their parting. Instead he had to swallow it all and be strong for his little... family.

That was what they were or at least as close to them as he would ever get.

Kasimir stepped inside, subtly tugging Rumer behind his back so place her protectively in between him and Nat. He didn't know what horrors awaited them inside and if anyone was going to be caught unawares and hurt first it would be him.

The Tiefling listened in the customary stoic silence as Norris spoke. There was a flicker of curiosity at his words relating to Rumer and an incident at the cabin and his orange eyes briefly slid towards the young girl before back. No doubt he would find out about it later on. She wasn't dead so whatever had been done Norris had either been feeling merciful or a special blend of cruel. Instead he glanced briefly to the food and drink on offer, things far nicer than what they usually served the Forsaken. With apparent disinterest he looked back to Norris.

"Yes Sir," he folded his hands into the pockets of his coat where they balled into fists. "Do you have another mission for us?"
 
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Rumer

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Rumer's shoulders bunched with a flinch as she felt Natharia's hand on her, but as her attention snapped to the hand they instantly eased and she cast a worried look up at her mentor, swallowing her heart back into her chest. She pulled in as deep a breath as she could muster, glancing up at Kasimir once more before she set her gaze ahead and schooled the fear on her features to an expression far calmer than she felt.

If anything, she was glad not to be alone this time. Whatever she was about to endure, that counted for something. She heard the clack of that cane on the marble floor, every muscle instinctively bound bow-tight to flee, even though she knew better. She watched the doorknob twist and the waft of smoke crept out to tickle at her nose. More nausea. She tried to breathe through her mouth, and she stuck close between the two as she followed Kasimir into the room.

Rumer wouldn't fall for the gaiety in his voice. If anything it only made her feel more uncomfortable, having quickly learned that it nothing more than a sinister act. The girl peeked out from behind the tiefling, watching the man limp, though when he drew attention to it himself, sweat she did. Her expression froze as she stared at him, the memory of how she'd almost succeeded in killing him playing behind her eyes. How she'd succeeded in murdering the other handler in that cabin.

She'd been punished, severely. Had he brought her here to chasten her further? She swallowed, and she felt the wave of cold sweat as her skin paled as she glanced anxiously between Nathaira and Kasimir before Norris gave a lie in excuse. Rumer let out a breath, her glassy eyes meeting his as he grinned before dropping her gaze to the floor.

Being offered a seat and food that wasn't grey matter felt like a trick, but she did as he asked and took the seat, at least, and her hands folded in her lap, trying not to fidget as Norris questioned 'Snake eyes' and the 'Imp'..
 
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Nathaira

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Nathaira took her place on the other side of Rumer. It was a very odd assembly, something that she could never tell if Norris was amused by, or disgusted. Both, probably. The chairs were so soft next to what they normally experienced, and the room itself was a pleasant temperature. Everything about their environment was tailor-made for comfort.

And yet Nathaira was the most uncomfortable she had been in recent memory. She knew very well the incident Norris spoke of, and recounted with grit-teeth the terrible punishments she'd inflicted on the child. She had gone too far in her attempt to keep Rumer from ever doing so again, too far in her own twisting attempt at protection. The excuse was another game to swirl about in their heads. How much of history would Norris rewrite for them, and how much of it did she already believe?

She abstained from the food, expecting it to be a trap. They were not worthy to share a meal with him, this she knew.

Norris asked her a strange question about her health. "Yess, sir. Thank you." It was just another mind game, she told herself. There was no reason to worry. He didn't know. He couldn't know.

She allowed Kasimir to answer his next question on her behalf, and awaited the response of their keeper.
 

Norris

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The youngest girl was mute and the other two barely said a word. That was good. That meant they knew their place. Just as he had guessed they refused any of the wine, meat, or cheese that he’d had Genevieve place out. That was good too, would be useful for teaching a little lesson to the half-breeds.

”No missions, not yet at least,” he smiled while taking another sip of the crimson Zinfandel, ”you’ve all done well. You deserve a bit of rest, yes? All three of you have been going straight to your assignments, completing them swiftly, and returning on time. Not spending a day at the beach or dallying about, right?”

He downed the remainder of his glass in a rehearsed motion. Holding it by the stem he placed the glass back down upon the table with a clang and rose to his feet. Standing there before the trio he waited, motionless and without sound. After letting the seconds linger a bit too long he turned and limped over to the counter where his cigar had still been sitting. ”No need to help me, I can manage to walk on my own,” the handler called out before taking a drag from the cigar.

Norris ensured to stamp the light out hard into the ashtray once he was finished this time. ”Forgot that dollface doesn’t like it. Interferes with her allergies.”

When he turned back around to rejoin his children his face was absolutely beaming with glee. Exactly seven loud clunks of his cane culminated in Norris standing directly in front of his charges for a second time. ”No one’s taken a glass? Not even a nibble of the food?”

A clicking sound from his lips followed as he shook his head in disappointment. ”I was very specific with Genevieve. I wanted you three to enjoy yourselves tonight. Least we could do for all of your hard work.” He shook his head again and added, with even further sadness to his tone, ”I told her to pick out precisely what she thought you all would enjoy.” Of course, that was after he had specifically told her the things she couldn’t provide to them. The things they might’ve actually enjoyed.

”Well… you three know the price of failure. Let me go fetch her and you can extract your pound of flesh yourselves,” his voice was filled with a faux sense of sadness.

In reality, he couldn’t have been happier at this moment.

Once you’ve broken someone mentally, spiritually, emotionally… there wasn’t much left. But reminding them of how little choice they had was never a bad thing, was it?
 

Kasimir

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Everything the handlers did was a test of some kind. The problem was working out how exactly to pass it.

Norris' comments seemed almost... pointed and when he mentioned the beach he wanted to glance towards Nat to see how she reacted. He remembered her speaking of a trip she had taken Rumer on once to the shores on the edge of the Anirian Empire - had she allowed the girl to have some fun whilst she was there? He didn't think she would be so stupid as to risk Rumer's life and her own with such frivolity. Was it something else? Did he know about their time together in the Mountains? Round and round his thoughts ran like a dog chasing a cat until he felt almost lightheaded.

How did they pass this test?

Beat the assistant? Eat the food? His orange eyes never faltered as he looked at a fixed point on the wall behind Norris' head.

"It would not be right, Sir, for a Forsaken to touch a true Anirian."
 
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Rumer

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Rumer's green eyes found a crack in the marble floor that she chose to fix her gaze to to stop it wandering. She wouldn't even so much as look at the food for fear of falling into a trap, and she kept her lips drawn into a thin line and her fingers clutched tightly at the at seat either side of her legs.

Don't look, don't speak, don't move.

Don't look, don't speak, don't move.


She flinched and her shoulders bunched as he stamped out the cigar, her scarred flesh burning with the memory of how painful it'd been when he'd done the same thing to her. Her eyes were already watering with the smell of it, but he knew that, and he knew she had no allergies.

Her gaze remained downcast at that crack in the floor as he mentioned the food again, her fingers tightening their grip on her seat as she risked a glance up at him. No. She had already almost killed the woman, she hadn't wanted to hurt her then and she didn't want to now. He'd make her do it, he'd make her boil the woman's insides until her flesh melted from her bones just like she'd done before. Her pulsed pitched to frantic, her breaths quickened, and she was so close to speaking when Kasimir's voice cut in.

Good. That was a good answer. Wasn't it? Rumer swallowed and tried to calm herself, returning her eyes to the fractured floor.
 
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Nathaira

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Nathaira's own heart sped up a tick as Norris "praised" them for their diligence. No days at the beaches or dallying about? Surely that was directed precisely at her. The beach had been productive for Rumer, and Norris had been pleased with Nat's tactics, so she had thought, but nothing was ever certain.

As for dallying, it had taken her months to return from the mountains, not travelling by portal stone and instead going by ship... with a detour on the way. She had hoped the Anirians thought little enough of her to even wonder where she was. After all, the runes always brought them back eventually.

She could smell Rumer's fear, even without tasting the air. She suppressed even this basic instinct in the presence of her handler, knowing his disgust for her serpentine nature.

"We are not worthy of such hosspitality," she added, "But if it pleases you, we will eat." Still, she made no move to do so, waiting for the reaction of the man with the cane. Somehow it made him more frightening. A wounded animal was far more likely to strike.
 
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Norris

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Norris halted his advance when Kasimir spoke, levying a glare in the tiefling whoreson’s direction. He was on the verge of speaking when Nathaira commented and he allowed her words to shape his demeanor from one of fury to one that was, not quite happy, but certainly happier.

”Ah, so it’s modesty that holds you three back?” The looming song of his cane echoed as he circled back towards his seat. ”I insist you partake.” As he sat he eyed the imp. ”Boy, surely you did not mean to imply that someone who fails me is a true Anirian, did you?”

Red wine pooled into the empty glass as the handler poured himself another serving. He could take the sniveling and the cowering, in fact, he preferred it. What he couldn’t take though was the dishonesty. You never truly could tell where you stood with the half-breeds. Lying and deception was in their nature. It’s what made them so good as assassins and spies. They lacked the moral fiber to regret their heinous actions.

He stirred the alcohol around in the glass for far longer than needed before taking his first sip. No sooner had the rim of the cup left his lips that he was chiming in again, ”did you two cut the little one’s tongue out? Hasn’t even greeted her dear caretaker.”

The whelp had barely taken her eyes off the floor. Seeing her like this made him realize he had chosen the right decision to not end her life back at that cabin. You usually couldn’t trust a beast that bit its owner but if you broke it badly enough you’d have a malleable animal that no longer posed a threat to you. He could see now that the half-elf was never going to lay a finger on him again. Not with how obviously her fears consumed her.
 
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Kasimir

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Wrong move.

Kasimir didn't let any emotion show despite the fear that churned in his stomach. Instead he continued his thousand mile stare at the wall and thought of how interesting it was that the house was made of brick. How many people had it taken to create this little cabin; if it had been built by slaves perhaps it was hundreds but if a Dreadlord had done perhaps only one. Such logical lines of thought about a mundane subject created a pool of calm in his mind that allowed him to maintain that stoic expression and toneless voice. When Norris addressed him, and only then, did he reply.

"Of course not Sir, just that we are unworthy of touching any pureblood," and inclined his head politely before awkwardly folding himself into one of the small chairs. Built for humans, not a demon like him.

It almost looked comical when he picked up one of the tiny pieces of cheese and ate it.
 
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Rumer

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Ru tensed as she felt the tone change slightly and she stopped breathing for a moment. Gods, she hated him. She hated him with every fibre of her being. He would find anything, anything at all to hold over them, to torment and torture them, it didn't matter what they said or did, the evil bastard delighted in his games. Her anger boiled, her jaw clenching so hard her teeth ground in her mouth and her skin heated until her cheeks were rufescent.

As Kasimir corrected himself, she reminded herself to breathe and get through this. Whatever this was. She had been stupid enough to believe for even a modicum of time that he might let her silence go unnoticed, that he'd simply leave her alone, that he wanted her to sit there and shut up and stare at the ground, but he didn't. He wanted her to slip up, wanted to test them and punish them for whatever they did wrong; which was whatever he decided was wrong.

Her glassy gaze lifted to look at him, and for a moment she couldn't force her mouth to open, her jaw still clenched tight shut as she tried to push that anger that danced so temptingly close to the tip of her tongue, back down into the pit of her stomach. Eventually, she swallowed. "Good evening, Sir. Thank you for inviting me to share your company, and for your.. hospitality." she answered in a tone far firmer and more mature than the last time she'd spoken to him, the voice of a child hardened and worn down by the heinous things she'd endured, and done to others.

And all of it was his fault. Each time she saw him, each time she smelled that smoke, was a little more pressure on cracking glass. She could almost hear the splinters in her mind, and the violent thoughts that drifted through her mind as she stared at him now caused the back of her neck to burn white hot.
 
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Nathaira

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I insist you partake.

A direct order was a relief, although it was extremely odd not to feel the compulsion to follow coming directly from her skin. Of course, years of conditioning could not be undone by magic of any sort, not so quickly, and so she still obeyed without thought or question. "Thank you, sir," she said, making sure to clip her s's as much as possible. An overlong tongue and a mouthful of hooked daggers made this troublesome.

She gingerly took a grape from the table and popped it into her mouth, half expecting to taste the bitter sting of poison, but she did not. In fact, the sugary juice burst into rapturous flavor. She was certain Norris had not provided them with the best grapes, nor the highest quality of any sort of food, but to her restricted palate it was a true treat.

Her eyes flitted to Rumer, hoping to catch her gaze. She was too far to touch the child, but she willed every bit of her thoughts at her before looking back to Norris. Eat something.
 
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Norris

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A guffaw came when they were all done speaking. Simple pleasantries that seemed to come so hard to these half-breeds.

Not much had changed so far as Norris could tell. All of these mutts had some way of coping with the program. The Imp was being unemotive and distant. Dollface was a poor liar and spent her time trying to cower, hadn’t been Forsaken long enough to find a way to deal with it all yet. Snake-Eyes knew better than to give into her racial inferiorities in his presence and seemed to do everything right. He couldn’t piece together precisely how she made it work. How her head ticked. And that’s what had him nervous.

Snake in the grass.

”You three know Pigskin?” He asked before settling on Rumer, ”well, I suppose you may not dollface but your two older siblings should. That half-orc Forsaken with the awful leathery orcish skin." Disgusting little feature for a disgusting little creature. ”You remember him, yeah?”

Norris paused, not because he expected an answer but because he wanted to take another sip of his wine. Let their imaginations go to some dark place. ”He’s out in Molthal, right now, slaying orcs for Vel Anir. When he heads back I already know he’s gonna take a half-day to buy some bonbons and toffee.” Another downing of his glass of red, he uncorked the bottle and drank straight from it. Didn’t need the glass any longer. ”He’s got a killer sweeth tooth, you see.”

”I know this because Pigskin told me. He was honest with me.”


The bottle tilted backwards and the proctor took a long, thoughtful gulp. He gestured the bottle towards the Imp. ”You three are all taking a swig of this Anirian wine. Then you’re going to tell me one honest thing.” He looked at the half-naga while the bottle was still outstretched towards Kasimir.

A twisted grin curled up his cheeks, enveloped by his sinister mustache. ”You don’t wanna find out what happens if you lie.”
 

Kasimir

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Pigskin's real name was Hugo.

Kasimir had had the pleasure of teaching him when he was a young recruit still and he had progressed well through the trials he had been set. His tough skin was only skin deep though. Kas had heard him cry more than a few times after he had returned from times with Norris. He was family, just like Rumer and Nat.

Norris was not.

Slowly he took the offered wine and sipped it.

"I steal art supplies from those you send me to kill and I draw in my down time," every word was careful. It had to be truthful yet not reveal too much that it would be used against him in the court of Norris.

He passed the wine to Rumer.
 

Rumer

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Rumer glanced up to see both Nathaira and Kasimir having taken some food. Norris had insisted, and she cast Nathaira an uncertain look before relenting under the woman's gaze and taking a bread stick with a quiet 'Thank you'. She crunched into it hesitantly as she listened to Norris speak, and she forced herself to calm, but it didn't last.

She watched the wine be passed to Kasimir along with the threat, and suddenly that breadstick was a little harder to swallow. A truth? Her mind was a blur of panic as she thought about what she would say. That she wished she'd have killed him? That she enjoyed killing his friend?.. The back of her neck tingled and her cheeks flushed as her pulse pitched and a cold sweat rippled across her back and brow. Gods how she despised his games.

Kasimir's truth was told, one that broke her heart a little to hear as she recalled him teaching her to draw. She hoped that Norris wouldn't take it from him. Now she stared at the offered wine bottle, and reluctantly reached to take it. She couldn't lie, he'd know, she wasn't even sure if the rune would allow it. She couldn't choose something silly either, he wanted something that he could use against them, something to punish them for.

"I.." she swallowed again, her mouth dry as words caught in her throat..

Say something.

"I..Want to be a healer.." like my mother; she'd have added had she been feeling particularly brave. She took a long swig of the wine, and held the bottle out to Nathaira.
 

Nathaira

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Norris' gaze at that moment was the most terrifying, chilling thing Nathaira could imagine. Her posture remained upright and proper, her eyes did not waver, and she hoped her face stayed as stony and inscrutable as she was trying to make it.

She heard Kasimir speak, goodness it was nice to hear his voice again, but she did not look. Instead she took another small item from the table to eat. She had thought it was another grape, but it was in fact an olive, and the shock testing every bit of her composure.

Her love had risked his favorite past time by sharing his secret, Rumer had risked quite a bit more with hers. What could she offer that would appease her master, but lower the fewest defenses?

She choked down the salty fruit and took the bottle from Rumer, drowning out the flavor with the red wine while she considered. She didn't remember Pigskin, and only a few half-orcs passed through her mind when she tried. Was he one of the ones she fought as a child? Not likely. Unless it had been before her seventh birthday, most of those she had killed.

And there it was. "I killed the first person I ever loved." It had been a boy, another Forsaken sparring partner. She was twelve, he fifteen, and she had a terrible crush on him. He didn't survive her bite. None of them did.

That should be juicy enough to sate Norris' desire for secrets while hopefully reaffirming her unquestioning devotion to murder.
 
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Norris

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The proctor sat silently and listened until all three had finished speaking their little morsel of truth. He waited for the snake to relinquish the bottle of vino and took it in his hand, swirling the remaining contents around. It was a good wine, had he been thinking more clearly he would’ve given them one of the other bottles to drink from. There was no chance he was drinking after the mixed-bloods.

But, no one had lied. That was progress and forcing the kids to share something genuine with the man they hated was a reward unto itself. He sat the bottle back down and glanced over at the half-tiefling first, ”you’ll have to show me next time. I’m a fan of art.” Human art, of course. That meant the best Kasimir’s doodles could be was half as good as the pieces Norris typically collected.

Skipping over the girl for a second he glanced at the reptile. ”Never could control that venom very well. Surprised you didn’t kill the little one over there.” He chuckled and grabbed a thin slice of the pancetta, its salty exterior coated the entirety of his taste buds. ”Was it Bat-Ears or Malty?” Norris truly didn’t care which of the boys she had murdered.

”Now you,” he stated firmly, leaning forward in his chair and locking eyes with the half-elf. ”You’re already a healer girl.” His face was smug as he stood up, cane cracking against the floor, waltzing a few paces to a bookcase and retrieving a decanter of scotch. He poured himself a shot and a half in the shallow glass, taking a sip and inhaling loudly before resealing the decanter.

He limped back-and-forth for a bit in front of the trio. ”Why do you think we ask you three to do all that you do?” His pacing continued but he didn’t wait for a reply. He didn’t care to hear what they thought the answer was or what answer they felt they could give to avoid a preconceived punishment. ”When an imp goes to Amol-Kalit and murders a dignitary the other politicians start pointing fingers. When the daughter of some elven whore slits the throat of a prominent Allirian merchant the other businessmen get paranoid and open up trade with their rivals. When a fucking snake poisons an orcish warlord the other tribes squabble or blame the dwarves.”

Norris ceased his pacing directly in front of Rumer. He glared down at her.

”All that chaos creates trade opportunities. Not just for House Banick or House Weiroon but for all of Arethil.” A loud sip of his drink followed. His nostrils flared slightly. ”And it prevents wars. Wars that’d kill thousands more than the dozens or so you three gotta carry out.” His head turned to the side while he seemed to stare through the child. He sideyed his other two dinner guests and then scoffed. ”You three don’t know how much good you do in the world. How much healing you already provide to Arethil.”

The small amount of scotch had vanished, leaving an empty glass. He flung the now empty vessel at the far wall, the glass exploding to punctuate his point. ”No more talk of healing. You make people like Imp’s blood boil or Snake-Eye’s blood vessels pop. If I ask Imp to carve a pretty picture in your flesh he wouldn’t hesitate. If I ask Snake-Eye’s to bite you she’ll do it, no questions.”

Genevieve’s head darted out in the far corridor at the sound of the glass shattering and the talk of killing Forsaken, her eyes filled with concern.
 

Kasimir

Forsaken Shadow
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Kasimir briefly shut his eyes as the glass shattered into a thousand tiny shards that decorated the floor like diamonds. Silence fell over the group like a thick fog and he wondered if the others were holding their breaths like he was? Whilst the tiefling tried to keep his composure in these situations he too had suffered at the hands of Norris and other handlers. He couldn't help but be reminded of those dark days right then and that was not a line of thought he wanted to continue with. Slowly he shifted his stance as though he had leaned too much weight on one leg for too long.

"Rumer has been showing great promise with her weapons training, Sir. Even an enjoyment for it, in time she will forget her childish dream."

Forgive me, Little Mouse, he thought silently. For the truth was he didn't think it was a stupid dream but a precious one. One that he hoped would come to fruition if the rumours were to be believed...
 
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Rumer

The Forsaken
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Rumer stared at Nathaira, a strain of surprise and sorrow on her face. She couldn't help it, had perhaps been unaware of the look she wore at all for that moment. Slowly, she turned to look back at Norris, hardly hearing a word that he spoke. Her hatred for the man burned in her blood like acid and she felt her skin heat dangerously.

The truth she had told had been the only thing she could think of. Rumer had never had much of a life before she'd come here, she'd had even less of a life since. She cared about the two sitting either side of her, but she wasn't about to admit that to Norris, nor could she lie and tell him something he'd be pleased to hear. She knew it hadn't gone down well by the way he'd locked eyes with her, and Rumer recoiled slightly in her seat, her jaw tightening against the urge to spit at him.

Her green eyes followed him as he paced and rose to meet his glare as he stood in front of her, her fingers tightening their grip on the arms of the chair. She'd braced herself for some form of penance and yet still she flinched as the glass smashed on the far wall, breaking her gaze and dropping it once again to the floor. His words about Nathaira and Kasimir were enough to dissolve any thought of rebuttal, knowing fine well that he'd make them hurt each other if she tested him. The thought of Nathaira's bite cooled her blood and sent a chill racing down her spine, a cold sweat blooming in its wake.

"Yes, Sir." she answered quietly, her head dipping a little lower at Kasimir's attempt to help her.
 
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Reactions: Kasimir and Norris

Nathaira

Forsssaken
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"Scarface, sir." Nathaira answered robotically. A raven-haired half-elf boy who, despite a large red line across his face, had been blessed with the delicate and ethereal qualities of his father. She did not remember all of her victims, or even most of them... but this one had left a mark. His true name had been Evandril.

Nathaira shut her eyes when the glass shattered, feeling the hair on her neck stand on end and her slow heart beat just a bit harder in her cool chest. When she opened them, Norris resumed his threats. She still wasn't certain why he had called them here, if not simply to torment them. That was, of course, his job as far as she could tell.

A mixed emotion of pride and guilt wound its way into her stomach while Kasimir detailed his training with Rumer. She'd grown used to this feeling when thinking about the girl, but it had only grown stronger since her return from afar. Guilt predominated now as she realized that, binding or not, she would need to obey Norris' commands if she hoped to survive long enough to help any of them.

The narrative, the grand purpose, the Forsaken's only reason for life had been laid out most eloquently by the red-faced man. For most of her life Nathaira had believed it, and even still her core clung to its promise of purpose. It would take more than a bit of fancy ritual and a few friends to rid her of years of self-loathing.

Her eyes fell back on the bottle of red, and had she not been so on-edge, she would have liked more.
 

Norris

Kind Teacher
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"Scarface. Cute kid." The grin on his face slipped between his rage.

His eyes drifted towards the tiefling and a nod was issued in agreement. "Good to hear but," an eyebrow arched up in contemplation, "might do some good if the girl grew out of it sooner rather than later." His head bobbed back-and-forth as he thought on it some more before his lips parted again, "perhaps she needs to head back to the cabin again."

The looks of discomfort that the trio tried to hide from him meant that they were just as frightened of him as he wanted. No doubt that the mention of his cabin off in the woods sent a chill down dollface's spine and he figured it was just as likely to have shook the older two as well.

"Or," his voice rasped with glee, "you can prove to me right here and now that you don't need a trip up to the woods." Norris pulled a small curved knife from his belt and laid it on the arm of Rumer's chair, close enough for the lingering scent of cigar smoke to be discernable.

He limped back a few steps, stating, "pick one of 'em," a hand gestured to Kasimir and then Nathaira. "Deep slice until they scream and you won't ha-"

"I heard a crash, thought something fell over. Do you need anything?"

Genevieve had been inching ever closer since the glass shattered, her interruption pried Norris' attention away from the Forsaken as he glared at her and huffed through clenched teeth.