Private Tales Ghosts

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Tian

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It was a dismal day.

The rain had started early, and continued through the early hours of the morning. It was neither heavy nor warm. It was a soft, dreary drizzle that continued without surcease into the evening, until even the normal riffraff and cutthroats decided it was too miserable to spend any time outside robbing people or killing them or any of the other hundred occupations for the lowlife criminal scum of the great city of Alliria. Winter was coming, and this was but her first breath, the clearing of the throat that came before the full performance.

The man in black stood at the threshold to one of the many establishments in the Shallows, looking down the muddy street at the poor and misbegotten souls that lived here. This dive was one of the many where the poorest went to drown their sorrows in what one could, if one was exceptionally charitable, call beer. It was not the kind of place that had hard spirits, because even the most rot-gut of liquor was too expensive for the sort that frequented the place. It was, in fact, a place where many a terminal drunk went to die, and many a poor dockman spent the majority of his pitiful pay in the pursuit of forgetting their life.

There was no purpose to being here. The weather suited the mood this fine evening, arms aching from working at a forge from sunup to sundown. He was no master of the craft, but he could hammer iron into the shapes required and, unlike other avenues, it was honest work. Honest work was hard to come by for a many like him; he could find all the work and more for the trade in which he had been born to, were it his desire.

It wasn't. Not anymore, anyway.

Stepping into the seedy establishment, the dark figure shivered to shake off the water. He wore a black hood that he had pulled as far over his face as he could, shadowing everything above a mouth framed at the top with a moustache that was graying at the ends. He was not an imposing man; of average height, of a slightly above average build, he would have blended into any crowd without effort. He wore a simple shirt and trousers, dark enough to be mistaken for black even though they were not really black.

Of particular note, two heavy bladed knives hung at his waist. They were workman's tools, steel that was neither polished nor dull, edges maintained with care and leather-wrapped handles that had been worn smooth more than once, and had to be roughed up occasionally to maintain a good grip.

They weighed his hips down like anchors, but he could not cast them aside. Not willingly, not yet and perhaps not ever.

He made his way to a table in the back, one that was not occupied by anyone else. Other tables were lightly populated at this hour; a handful of men from the docks, burly and wearing workman's clothes. A few other random souls who looked to be drinking themselves slowly to death without much by way of pleasure, and looks on their faces like they would rather not inspect their wooden mugs too closely lest what they were drinking look back at them.

His table. This was his table, and had been for a year at least. The woman working behind the makeshift bar - a pair of rough planks tossed over emptied barrels of the piss they served here - looked up from snatching coins from the splintery wood, and saw him. Unreadable eyes surveyed him, and then she shook her head to bustle off and draw a pint.

For his part, the man settled back, and looked to the ceiling, smoke-stained and bearing many water-stains from past leaks. When the lass delivered his drink, he did not even look to it.

In a year, he had yet to take a single sip...and for a year, he had come in here every night, regular as clockwork, to sit and stare into the middle distance or look at the villainous, foul-smelling liquid with something strange on his face. He had never spoken of what it was, and no one had ever asked.

Until tonight, that was.
 
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Xayah

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Tian

Xayah’s father was going to be upset.

The missive sent by hawk would take days to arrive to its destination, but the end result would be the ire of the Lazular merchant Rasheed El-din Vashti. Not because of some harm that may have befallen his seventh daughter, but due to the significant amount of prized Lazular horseflesh that had gone missing. Out of the thirty that had been transported by caravan, seven were now unaccounted for in the past four months.

That Rasheed’s daughter may be among the missing was of a trivial matter; he had more than twenty-five children from his many wives and concubines that Xayah was naught but another caravan worker. Sure her ability with the abacus and languages offered her more usefulness, but one Lazular horse was worth more than her skills combined.

The trade routes between Alleria and Lazular were in their infancy; trouble here meant a higher risk in profit.

Xayah had been assigned to the last caravan, tasked to see the delivery of a prized stallion and mare to an Allerian nobleman. In three days they were scheduled to deliver, a caravan of five guards, the horses, and Xayah. Tomorrow, they were scheduled to report to the last check in the appointed merchant guild chapter.

While the earlier thefts had been reported to Allerian guards, Xayah decided to try and see if she could set a trap to try and find out who exactly was behind the missing horses and the attacks to their caravans.

The only issue is that to set a trap she needed to set in motion, there were a few key pieces of information she needed. Supposedly, whoever she was to meet with would be here, in this run down, piss poor excuse of a tavern.

It was already a miserable day, made even more unbearable by the rain. A creature of the desert, Xayah was far more comfortable with dry heat than this muggy weather and it showed. Her umber hooded cloak seemed to soak up the rain, and it wasn’t long before her clothing became damp despite the cloak. It was made to deter extreme heat, not consistent moisture.

Her dark hair was damp, sticking to her temples and freckled cheeks. Despite the good, her nose ring would catch the light now and then, flashing gold. Green eyes would scour her surroundings, double checking to see if anything was amiss before taking up a deep breath and heading towards the entrance.

She’d prepared herself. While it would only last an hour at most, she did her best to try and manipulate her facial features to make herself look older, coloring a few dark blotches here and there under her eyes and along her jawline. If she could make herself blend in, she was willing to deal with the pain of the alterations. Everything had its price; even if it was as simple as hiding or adding a scar. In this case, pain and a color reference off a dung beetle for the purple black hue was one of them.

She wasn’t an idiot to come here unarmed. She had a dagger in her boot and a scimitar at her waist. To anyone that would glance at her direction, she’d perhaps still stick out like a sore thumb. While she was learning to manage her magic, she was no professional in disguise. Amidst the workers and patrons, sitting about, the the damp fabric of her well made, if worn cloak was enough to identify her as irregular clientele.

Here was a woman, a little worse for wear, standing past the entrance looking more than a little out of her element.
 
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Tian

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Staring into the murky slop that he would never, ever drink.

He looked up as another patron came, but only a little and not enough to draw attention to himself. The lady that came through the doors was immediately and painfully out of place. Her clothing was too fine, her bearing too confident for such a dreary hole as this. EIther she was a whore come to find a John - in which case she was looking in the wrong place - or else she was lost. Some lingering regret stirred in the old man's breast, but this woman was nothing to him. A superficial resemblance counted for nothing in the grand scheme of things.

But a vague resemblance was enough to kindle the old memories, to bring up things that were best left in the dust of the past. The fiery heat flooding over his hands - a ghostly memory of a thing that had happened a thousand times, but one time alone carrying specific meaning - returned to him. And for a moment, he thought he could hear his name riding a stuttering gasp, flitting through the air like an accusation.

It stung, and his jaw tightened as he tried to banish the memory. There was little profit in thinking of things that had been done in the past. That mire had consumed him for near on three years, and the stains on his hands and his souls could never be cleansed. That evil as indelible, a mark that would follow him to his grave.

Muttering to the left. The old warrior - hah, that was rich - turned his eyes to a different table. Three men sat at it, not nearly far enough into their cups to be fools but definitely far enough in them to be dangerous. To Tian's eyes, they looked to be a part of one of the local criminal organizations. They were eyeing the woman that had entered, and talking among themselves in whispered conversation. The dark-clad man knew what they were about, and wondered in the woman was naive enough to think she had done herself any favors coming into this place.

If she did not have her wits about her, the best she could hope for was a knife in the belly and all her possessions being taken. If she was not lucky, they would take everything from her before cutting her throat.

Not my problem.

One of the fellows got up suddenly, a short and thick lout that looked like he specialized in tavern brawls. The way he moved once he got to his feet belied a predators grace. However he might look, he was certainly far more dangerous than outward appearance might otherwise dictate. He had no obvious weapons on him, and yet he strode forward with a rather unpleasant grin on his face, his stride full of purpose.

Tian looked back into his beer with a scowl on his face, but said nothing.
 
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Xayah

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Tian

Why do I get myself into these situations? Xayah would muse to herself, the stench of ale, sweat, and grease in the air. She could feel eyes on her, like xavosh spiders crawling over her skin.

The desert merchant was used to having to deal with others in taverns or bazaars. However, those instances typically also involved the guards of the convoy. Her excursion meant taking risks. Risks that presently painted itself into the stocky and stout figure of the tavern patron heading Xayah’s way. He had thick arms as big as hams, and his legs could rival tree trunks. There was greasy smile pasted on his face, one that slowly turned into a toothy grin.

Habit promoted Xayah to curl her fingers around the pommel of her scimitar. The motion only seems to ignite the gleam of interest that glittered within the louts eyes.

Deciding her best course would be to carry on and try to avoid him, Xayah did her best to step to the side and act as if she had not noticed him. Not the best reaction, as a thick, corded arm went reaching out to latch onto Xayah’s wrist.

“Well, well. What we ‘ave ‘err ey? “ the man began, holding Xayah firmly in place.

“Let go!,”. Xayah spat out, jerking at her arm only to have her wrist locked tight.

“Oi now, just tryin’ to make conversation,” he leered, his companions at his back giving a whistle and a few jeers.
 
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Tian

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"Leera!"

The sudden voice, spoken at a volume loud enough to hurt both Xayah and the unwanted ruffian's ears, was issued forth from close enough to touch its source. Tian took an unsteady step forward, the scent of sour beer washing over both the girl and her assailant. Only his mouth could be seen from without the shadow of the hood he wore, and it was slack-lipped and flecked with spittle, as though the fellow was deep in his cups.

"I tol' ya 'at y'shouldnacomehere," he slurred at her, and then the hooded head turned towards the ruffian that had hold of her wrist in that vice-like grip. "She'sm'sista from the de....sav...from out yonder," he managed.

Why, he thought to himself quite soberly, am I getting involved in trouble? Did I not have enough trouble already? Have I not had a gutful of sorrow from meddling? Apparently not. He staggered forward rather convincingly, and stumbled into the girl hard enough to bruise her shoulder, but also break that grip. He wrapped her in a brotherly hug, leaning in close. "Play along," he managed amid a string of incoherent drunken munderings. "S'good t'lay eyes, lass," he offered.

"Ey!" The oaf stumbled back a step, his face darkening in anger. "Just wot d'ya think yez playin' at, you unwashed lout?"

"Ye should take the drunk 'un, cousin! That lass looked like she coulda spit ya, and besides, isn't the arse yer fancy anyway?" Raucous laughter from the table the oaf had come from. He spun away from the pair and fixed his companions with the most malevolent gaze he could muster.

Tian looked Xayah in the eye in that moment. I'll explain later and you owe me for this flashed in his eyes. For just a moment, the shadow fell away so that she could see his face, and those eyes were dark, hard as stone, and very, very much not intoxicated. The shadow seemed to creep back as though by magic, hiding grey brows and a face that wore a tracery of faint lines in it.

"...gut you lot like a fat carp," said the oaf to his companions before turning to look back toward his victim. His was a face filled with anger.
 
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