Tales My Kingdom for a Smoke

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Gal, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. Gal

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    The fishmarket was loud today.

    But then the fishmarket was always loud – it was only Gal that was more hungover than usual.

    Her head pounded as if she’d spent the night cavorting with the akua. Scratch that; with the lawehua. She couldn’t remember a headache this bad since a particularly wild night on the town – if Cerak could be called a town at all.

    Groaning at the harsh glare of sunlight, the nazrani slunk back into the shadows of the tall buildings. It soothed her nerves, but not her disposition. Many an angry curse echoed behind her as she elbowed her way through the morning crowd, only one goal in mind.

    Her pipe. She needed to get back to the Gabbiano Ubriat’, back to her room – surely a drunken wreck – and recover her precious pipe.

    She’d kill a man for a drag of kālau leaves.

    Djana Mahin
     
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  2. Djana Mahin

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    "I assure you my lady, everything will be fine." Djana walked carefully among the downtrodden wretches that made up the streets of this city, the guard of Lady Arafell ensuring that nothing and nobody came too close to them. None of their motions were harsh, but forceful enough to send even the most insistent beggar away from the two women.

    Lady Arafell was wife to one of the Council of forty, the ruling body of Mantessa.

    She wasn't a particular intelligent woman, something Djana had discovered early on, but she had her passions. Among them was her son, a rather handsome young man who had a penchant for trouble. Lady Arafell and her husband had tasked her with setting the boy straight.

    An unusual request, though not too difficult really.

    "When I am through he will be ready to take a wife." She patted the woman's hand. "Settle down and run your families affairs."

    The words rang dull to her, but to Lady Arafll they would be a song of the finest opera.

    Quickly the two women continued down the street, the two guards ahead of them pushing anyone and everyone out of their way.
     
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  3. Gal

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    Hungover or not, headache or not, a nazrani was a nazrani.

    She saw them coming half a street away – a pack of guards surrounding… well, they were too tall to tell, but Gal would bet whatever was left of last night’s purse that it was someone important.

    And as fate would have it, they were blocking her way to the hole in the wall where she kept her cards, her clothes, and her pipe.

    Her vision darkened. Of course it would be on this day of all days that she’d have to make her way by some Baroness Haughty or Duchess DeTit. Typical.

    With a sigh she squared her shoulders, straightened her spine, and marched forward.
     
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  4. Djana Mahin

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    "B-but what if it doesn't work? What if he runs away again? What if he tries t-"
    The woman was quickly becoming insufferable. It was one thing to worry, it was another entirely to fall into pieces over such a small thing. The boy was nearly nineteen years old, if he was fool enough to fall into pieces over simple things then he probably didn't deserve the wealth his family handed to him anyway.

    Not that Djana would ever say such a thing out loud. No no, Lady Arafell needed to be assured that everything would go well, that her son would be the perfect little Prince.

    Which was of course what he would be once Djana was finished with him. A small weave here, the right whispered word, perhaps a slight flash of her...well, it would be enough. The fool would turn into exactly what she needed, and in time he too would come to worship the Great Lord. "He will be set on the right path."

    She patted the woman's hand again, eyes wandering forward as the Guard pushed a small group of merchants out of their way.

    "He knows the way, he simply needs to be set upon it." Her voice was a soft coo, coming just as their small part set upon the Nazrani.

    The guard didn't even say anything to the woman, he simply kicked his spear butt out and attempted to shove her to the side.
     
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  5. Gal

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    She sidestepped the spear like a cat would avoid the pawing attempts of a blubbering child. She was nazrani. Was he blind?

    For good measure, Gal flashed him a grin full of sharp teeth.

    “Move,” she said simply, in Mantessant’ far cleaner than her broken Common. It was a narrow alley. There were four of them, but– it was narrow alley. A Mantessan alley.

    And she was nazrani.

    (And willing to kill a man for a smoke.)
     
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  6. Djana Mahin

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    The guards came to a stop, Djana halting her stop half-way as her head turned to observe the situation.

    Emerald green eyes fell on the Nazrani, lips pursing for a brief second as the Guards seemed to square their shoulders and draw themselves up. The spears they clutched seemed to shake for a moment, almost as if they were unsure of what their next step should be.

    A second passed, and then suddenly Lady Arefall spoke.

    "Get her out of the way!"
    The words were a bark, stressed by the height of her emotion and pressed into urgency by the fact that she was soon losing her son for untold months. Djana said nothing of course, it was not her place, but instead she drew herself up slightly and took just half a step back.

    A heartbeat thundered from somewhere, though she knew it was not her own, and then suddenly one of the guards stepped forward. His hand stretched out, reaching to grab the dark skinned woman and shove her into the wall.
     
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  7. Gal

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    She flowed aside like water and shoved a knee straight into his groin. The man doubled over, leaning heavily onto his spear just to stay upright. His incised comrade made a single step forward to swat her away – and that was as far as he got. Eyes rolling back into his skull, the guard crumpled against the wall after a swift palm struck like a snake at the nerves in his neck.

    They were little more than hired thugs – brutes and bruisers who earned their keep on the payroll of the city rather than some gambling den. They knew nothing of the hunt, of the nights spent running through humid jungles with beasts breathing down your neck, of the whispers of the ancients, of the power that slumbered in the heart of hearts of nazrani, the people of the land of the setting sun.

    Gal tucked a wayward black curl behind her ear and smiled at the noble.

    “Move, please?”
     
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  8. Djana Mahin

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    Lady Arefall seemed utterly aghast about the scene ahead of them, her eyes lighting up and her mouth gaping open in shock.

    Djana on the other hand just stared.

    Her eyes were those of a viper inspecting what may have been prey...or a predator. Emerald green sailed over the Nazrani, her lips thinning for a few seconds before they returned to a plump smile. She felt Lady Arefall draw her tighter, fingers pressing against her arm as if she were trying to pull her away.

    The fool woman probably thought they were going to get mugged. "How would you like to earn a little gold?"

    Djana's voice was a soft coo, amusement mixed with intent.

    She had been thinking of a way to put the fool boy in his place, draw him into the proper reigns...and she spotted opportunity here. An amusing one too. Lady Arefall only gasped again, clearly not understanding.
     
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  9. Gal

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    Gold?

    Gal narrowed her eyes at the brunette. The baroness was… well, as every other baroness she’d ever met, which wasn’t a very long list, but enough to warrant a comparison nonetheless. Vapid. Clueless to everything beyond the walls of her palace. On her way to meet a grisly end at the hands of some rioting mob.

    This one, though… she breathed in. The perfume surely belonged to the noble, as did the stink of fear. And then there was the hint of predator.

    Never adjusting her combative stance, Gal cast a longer look at the woman. Something was… wrong here. The skin at the back of her neck prickled, instinct piqued. If she were a beast, her ears would’ve flattened against her skull.

    “I already have a job,” she said, and made to push past the pair. Her throat still itched for that smoke.
     
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  10. Djana Mahin

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    A hand raised gently, delicate fingers reaching out to softly stop the woman. Her grasp was far from tight, in fact it would have been better to call it a simple press of the arm. "Please."

    She said the words in perfect Narra, though the accent was clearly one of a foreigner. She had never been to the islands, but had learned the language for reasons that were her own. She smiled softly at the other woman, bright Emerald eyes seeming to peer at something that wasn't actually there.

    "It will only take a short few hours." Her tone was still soft.

    Besides her the Lady Arefall looked completely and utterly aghast. Clearly she had been unaware of Djana's language skills, or perhaps it was more than she couldn't believe she would even address the woman that had just knocked her guards unconscious.

    Either way, she hardly seemed pleased. "You will be well paid."
     
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  11. Gal

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    The hand she’d have brushed off, but the language stopped her dead in her tracks. Slowly, like a ballista pivoting on its platform, Gal turned her head to look at the woman. Really look.

    Whatever she’d been searching for, she couldn’t find. With a shrug of her shoulder she snatched her arm away from the touch, skin crawling even though she couldn’t tell why. The woman behaved like an innocent lamb, and had the voice to go with it.

    It was the eyes. You could never hide the eyes.

    But then her skin had crawled just the same when she’d cast her blood in a circle and summoned the fiercest lawehua her senses could reach, and it hadn’t stopped her. Damn her curiosity.

    “Not here,” she growled back in her native tongue. “Meet me under the Coriese bridge in an hour.”

    And that was all – with a swift shove she slipped past the other guards and melted into the throng like a drop of water into the sea.
     
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  12. Djana Mahin

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    That was enough for her.

    She would have to make sure to bring more than these fools along, the woman had managed to best them inside of a few seconds. Perhaps she could find one of her own. There were few followers in this city, but she would be able to pluck up one or two.

    At least to watch from afar.

    As the woman pushed passed her and then quickly the guards, Djana looked back for just a brief second before she turned to regard Lady Arefall once more. The woman was blubbering something about commoners and being uncouth, but Djana grabbed her hand and gently patted it. "Worry not, my Lady."

    A smile touched her lips.

    "I found a solution to your problems." The noble looked confused. "I'll explain on the way to the palace."
     
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  13. Gal

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    It was one hour later, and Gal wasn’t there.

    Not because she was bad at keeping her promises (she was), nor because she couldn’t be punctual to save her life (she couldn’t); rather because she was cautious.

    It wasn’t the cautiousness of a mainlander. She’d never understand that if she spent the rest of her life roving the continents (she wouldn’t). Gal had closed enough shady deals and negotiated with enough suspect members of the underworld to pick up a few tricks of the trade. Meeting a woman who sent her senses screaming alone under a bridge… it was a good way to end up floating face-down in one of the many Mantessan canals.

    When the tower tolled noon, it wasn’t Gal who strode past under the Coriese bridge. It wasn’t even one of her sailors.

    She’d instead paid off a beggar, who were a zolde a dozen on these streets. The man would probably brave plague, war, and hellfire for what she’d given him – the task he was performing was comparatively safer.

    Drunk off his ass and reeking of cheap wine, the man stumbled under the bridge. If and when an attractive brunette with a deep cleavage strolled by, he’d share with her these words, “Bellini bridge.”
     
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  14. Djana Mahin

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    Djana couldn't help but roll her eyes.

    The beggar was something she had not anticipated. She had thought the Nazrani would simply be tempted by gold. Most of their kind would have been, at least that was what she thought from those she'd met. A frown touched her face, fingers twitching slightly as she sighed.

    "Fine." Her words echoed beneath the expanse of the bridge, Emerald eyes flashing to the left for just a brief second as she took in a breath. The cultist was not fool enough to misunderstand what was going on here.

    Her fingers flashed.

    Two twangs rang out, and suddenly the Beggar lay on the floor, two wooden bolts springing from his chest.

    Djana knew what this city was, knew what would happen if things got around. The plan she had for the boy needed to exact, and anyone knowing even a bit too much needed to be done away with. No one knew the beggar, no one would miss him, and that was all she needed.

    With an exasperated scowl Djana made her way to the Bellini Bridge.
     
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  15. Gal

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    And so the wild goose chase began. Gal followed from far away, unlit pipe stuck in her mouth, a worn captain’s tricorne pushed low over her curls. The whaleskin coat was actually hers, which couldn’t be said for the rest of the ensemble.

    (Her room had, in fact, been a drunken wreck.)

    Bellini bridge was home to several beggars, though only one lingered there during the day. He’d have another piece of the puzzle for the woman, and Gal would mark another opportunity to single out the arbalists.

    After that, a knife in the crowd was only a quick step away.

    This was Mantessa, where nobody looked twice at a corpse in the street.
     
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  16. Djana Mahin

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    Djana walked beneath the bridge.

    The Crossbowman would follow behind her, though they would move quietly. Each of them were a part of her small ensemble, though none were from the same level of society as her.

    That was the beauty of those who followed the Great Lord.

    Some were nobles, some were peasants, and even others still were Kings. That was who they were, that was what they were. Djana had always liked it that way. There was an added air of mystery, a separation that no one could ever really understand. The Great Lord had his plans.

    Djana would simply fulfill them. "Tell me."

    Her voice sang, an echo underneath the bridge as she addressed the beggar.

    "Tell me where she is." She would not play this game, and the magic that pressed among the poor man's soul told of that.,
     
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  17. Gal

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    Alas that the beggar did not know. She might carve a hole into his skull for all she liked, for the man had no secret to give up and no story to tell but the one that spoke of his own tragic life. The longer she pressed him, the more likely his heart would simply give out – between his life on the streets and in the bottle, he hardly had a heart for torture.

    It would not come to that.

    Her knife was silent and swift, her hand stoppering any noise with a fierce squeeze of the throat. The crossbowmen, betrayed now for who they were, succumbed to quick jabs in the kidneys and liver. She left them to bleed out under the bridge without a second glance, stealing down the bank until they were only a few paces apart.

    "Now we can talk."
     
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  18. Djana Mahin

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    Torture might have been the wrong word for it, the beggar dropping to the ground with a painted face of pure bliss.

    Djana turned away from the man, her expressiom calm and stoic. It was a marked contrast to the heat that had filled her voice just a second ago. She leveled a cool emerald gaze towards the pirate, eyes wandering towards the two corpses of the crossbowmen she had brought along with her.

    A shame, but they had died in the service of the Great Lord.

    Their reward would be everlasting.

    "I do not enjoy scavenger hunts." Her voice was that same soft coo as it had been in the alleyway before. It was as if the bodies around her did not actually exist, as if she were just an innocent girl waiting to be taken to the ball.
     
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  19. Gal

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    “And I don’t enjoy getting shot with a crossbow if I say no.”

    Gal tipped the hat back and tucked the pipe back in her sash. She’d gotten her smoke back at the room, nerves settled for the day. Arms crossed but knife still in hand, the pirate tilted her chin at the woman, black eyes expectant.

    “Now tell me what you want, no bullshit.”
     
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  20. Djana Mahin

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    She sighed quietly.

    They were such a violent people, Nazrani. Often she wondered if that would make them serve the Great Lord better...or worse. She'd only met a few of them beneath his shadowed cloak, and they had been rather enthusiastic about their tasks. Perhaps this woman would...no.

    She had her task here in this city, and she would complete it before she moved on to the next. Djana had to ensure that she did things right here. "Lady Arefall's son."

    Djana coo'd, a small smile touching her full lips.

    "He is an errant little boy. Full of himself and foolish." She knew this was in a way, entirely foolish, but that was part of the point. She needed this family on it's edge, she needed them balancing on a knifes edge. "He thinks himself an adventurer, a great fighter."

    Djana seemed amused by those words. "I need this notion corrected."
     
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  21. Gal

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    “I’m not a fucking babysitter.” Gal curled her upper lip, scoffing at the suggestion. She stuck a thumb over her shoulder, at the cooling bodies behind her. “Why dontcha sic one of them dogs on him? Nothing stops adventurin’ as quick as an arrow to the knee.”
     
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  22. Djana Mahin

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    She sighed.

    How uncouth, uncultured.

    Bothersome really, she had hoped that the woman would simply be tempted by gold, but apparently that would not be the case. She flashed a frown on her plump lips for just a second, and then slowly began to weave a soft net. It was a small thing really, small as could be, but slowly she cast it out towards the pirate.

    It was a soothing, soft and subtle touch. Not always effective, but with the right words. "They aren't the right sort."

    He mused.

    "It's an easy task." Djana Coo'd. "I simply require you to take him...pull him from his tavern's and away from his tales."

    She smiled. "Keep him in a dark and gloomy hold for a few days."

    Emerald eyes watched as her weave slowly cast over the woman.
     
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  23. Gal

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    Gal crossed her arms with a grim curl to her mouth. “If I do this – if – I ain’t getting paid in gold. Gotta make it worth my while if you want me to kidnap a fucking noble in his own fucking town.”

    Whoever this busty bitch was, she was also crazy. With power, probably.

    Then again, Mantessa was the perfect place for that.
     
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  24. Djana Mahin

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    She perked an eyebrow. "Gold doesn't hold worth for you?"

    Now that was an interesting little thing wasn't it?

    Many in Mantessa would have slit the throat of their mother for a bag of gold coins. Not that such behavior was out of the ordinary for a dozen other towns, but...it seemed more common here. Perhaps that was just because of all the sailors, they did tend to be a surly sort.

    "What would you rather have then?" She smiled, musing for a second. "Weapons?"

    The Nazrani did like their weapons, hunters as they were. "Shipping routes perhaps?"
     
  25. Gal

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    “Never said that,” Gal replied in her clipped tone, black eyes narrowed to cat-like slits. “But gold ain’t worth sticking my neck out like that.”

    She didn’t say she had enough gold. Likely she’d never say it, even the day it was true. (And would it ever be? She’d seen men fall to greed as easily as they fell to the sea, and it was just as bottomless.)

    “Shipping routes. Maybe.” She tilted her head to the side, studying the other woman with a gaze hard to read even for a well-versed courtier. “Wanna see them first, then I’ll decide.”

    Never bite a fruit before checking if it ain’t rotten. Even if it smells nice. Especially when it smells nice.
     
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