Fable - Ask Reaching Too Far

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The Allir Reach was not somewhere Alexios actually liked to spend time if he was honest with himself. There was just something about the area that felt off to him. Threats both mundane and not in equal measure and a ranger/police force that was second to almost none and yet... mercenaries like himself made a killing here on both sides of the law because the rangers just weren't enough.

Orcs, Drow, humans and everything in between found their way to the Allir Reach and, so often, they were seeking their fortunes either within the walls of Alliria itself or it's surrounding countryside. There were riches to be made here so long as you didn't care how you made your money, which he could appreciate on some levels.

And despise on others.

The Allir Reach could be the making of him or it could be the ending of him and he didn't like how... final it all sounded. Oban and Elbion and even the blasted fucking desert were a lot easier to deal with than this place. They were safer only because their dangers were so obvious and so well known to everyone, himself included.

So he was sticking to the sections of the reach closest to Alliria, along the coast. The kind of area where rich merchant princes and princesses went out into the "true reach" to either prove themselves or to simply get away from the hustle and bustle of city living. In his experience, the rich and the famous? They were magnets for trouble so all he had to do... was wait.

And then decide if he would resolve their troubles or worsen them.

All depended on the price.

KillaRee
 

Divina Rosenstern

Merchant Noble
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Divina had gone out this far to test out the latest ships she acquired. Some of these galleons took years to build to a new standard, and she often had a great deal of pride regarding the quality of her own vessels. Very few of her own personal staff knew of this latest venture, and as such her own escort was smaller than it would have been even in the Keep. Though she could test these maiden voyages within the Reach's own harbor, this was an expense she was anxious to keep out of enemy hands.

If this venture proved fruitful, she could expand her own trading reach beyond even her father's dreams. Only her most trusted advisor and three guards rode with her, each in discreet cut clothing. The guards, of course, were dressed in armor, but without a family crest, and even she had forgone using such an obvious display.

She ought to have been in high spirits. She was out of the Inner City, the day was sunny and the ocean glittered with promise of a fair tide. And yet the noblewoman nursed a feeling of foreboding deep in her stomach, eyes always scanning the horizon for signs of fell weather or other riders.

None came.

Continuing down the further point of the 'Reach', three ships were hastily dry-docked on a sandbar, sails furled and sheets tacked. From up on the cliffside, she could see all hands preparing to release the mooring line, and she waited, hoping to hear word from the foreman.

What she heard instead made her stomach sink.

A low whistle from afar... and hoofbeats.

As she turned her horse to look at the commotion, her face turned pale, gripping the reins tightly. "By the Gods..." she uttered, but already her guards were forming ahead of her, the captain speaking in clipped tones.

"Go, my lady," he barked out. Though they were five to her three, she knew those banners.

She also knew they were far from authority here, and mentally she cursed herself for her arrogance. Kicking off to get a lead from the surprise attack, another suddenly crested to her flank, brandishing a sword. His sudden approach made her horse pitch, and she tumbled off with a shout of alarm.

He reached out, attempting to grab the fallen woman. She laid gasping, the wind knocked from her chest and pain singing down her spine from hitting so suddenly.

Nefieslab
 
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Eating an apple, Alexios followed the path of a few ships with his eyes, tracing their path with his gaze. He didn't know who, or what, they carried but they were handsome ships as far as he could tell. He said that because he had never so much as set foot on a ship of any real standing or size so it was kind of beyond him. All he knew was that they looked expensive.

Then again most things did when you were his social standing.

Wandering on over idly as they docked, he finished off his apple and eyed what was occuring. Of course what he saw was honestly rather promising. Gripping his sword with a grin, he drew it as he rushed in to assist. From an outsider point of view it likely looked as though he had taken it all in at a glance and decided what he wanted to do and was charging in with resolve.

Honestly?

He wasn't sure which side he was going to help (if any) until one of the attackers decided to make the decision for him, swinging an axe at him. Ducking under the wild swing, Alexios ran the man through with his sword before pushing past the fighting men.

There was damsel in need of assistance!

A rich one too!

Fire leapt from his free hand, slamming into the side of her attacker's face, knocking him back and away. While he was distracted by his face suddenly being on fire, Alexios cut his arm off at the elbow before burying the sword into his throat. Pulling the bloodied steel free, he held out his free hand to the lady on the ground.

"Are you in need of martial assistance milady? Because I'm available for hire right now."
 

Divina Rosenstern

Merchant Noble
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She gasped for breath, only for some wildman to spring fire out and slam him in the face with fire. She could smell burnt clothes and flesh, and then blood as the man dropped to the ground, along with the wet sound of a sword pulled free from flesh.

"Yes," came the simple answer, catching his hand. "My men may be in need of assistance." She didn't wait for him to stop or say anything, but withdrew from a pouch herself. "You help, you'll be amply rewarded."

If he helped, fine. If he didn't, he would simply be another sellsword in her way, and she wouldn't hesitate to put a blade in his belly. She uncorked her waterskin, and a thin rivulet answered her call. Now that she was thrown off her horse, she was a lesser target. She could face the opposition that way. As she charged towards where the fighting continued, she lashed out towards her closest opponent, the water shifting to brittle ice shards.

"Keep one alive," was her only words to the sellsword, eyes cold and mirthless. Unlike him, she couldn't retain joy while slaughtering opposition. Not until she had answers. And if they killed any of her guard...

Their death would be a slow, sweet struggle to appease her vengeance.

Nefieslab
 
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Well wasn't she a charming little water/ice mage bitch? She was a woman after his own heart it seemed! Get down to killing first and then talk about petty little things like consequences... and then he could settle his bill with her.

He was looking forward to that part at least.

"Well when you put it like that, how could I refuse such an obviously helpless little damsel?"


Sarcasm didn't get used nearly enough in combat for Alexios' liking so maybe he could bring it back into fashion? The sarcastic bastards he had for ancestors would doubtlessly approve of this he was sure! Or he wasn't sure and he didn't care.

It wasn't much of a contest either way.

Rushing across the distance, he was rather amused to see that her escort was down to one person and there were still four more enemies. Whoever had sent the men after her had made sure that they stacked the odds in their favour and he could approve of that. Didn't mean he slowed down as he slashed one man in the back while he was busy trying to flank the one ally remaining.

Cutting through his unarmoured back, he grinned as he felt his blade slide through the man's spine and the back of at least one lung. Kicking the dying man into one of his allies, he brought flames to his free hand as he commanded their attention.

"The first one who surrenders lives."
he declared magnanimously, "The second one to surrender gets to feel what it's like to try, in utter futility, to breathe through a throat that has been melted to the bone."
 

Divina Rosenstern

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At least he wasn't a complete idiot, and capable of cutting through his enemies quickly. Though there were four, he dispatched one, while what remained of her guard drove his sword into the unarmored chest of another assassin.

The last two, however, charged the newcomers. One, with his ax sailing towards the sell-sword's head while his blade lunged to strike the man in the ribs, the other bounding towards her with a longsword. As she readied herself to strike, he raised as though to split her in twain. She replied in kind by tossing ice shards up into his face, and getting a bittersweet joy out of hearing him howl in pain and seeing him stumble.

She swept her boot under his legs, forcing him down, and as he reached to grab for a blade when he hit ground her foot connected with his side, making him choke back a gasp.

Picking up one of her fallen guards' blades on the ground, she pressed it to his throat while he struggled to catch back his breath and his sight. Her hair was disheveled, color on her cheeks and eyes flashing coldly.

"Who hired you?" she seethed, jaw clenched.

Nefieslab
 
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Looked like the lady was having someone to fight with herself - well he hoped she was feeling merciful and mindful of her request to leave one alive because he wasn't. Dodging the axe and the blade by taking several quick half-steps backward, he batted the follow up thrust of the blade to one side to open the man's guard.

Before firing a small fireball at his junk.

Instinctively the man when to cover his crown jewels with both hands, trying to stop the motion almost as soon as he started it as he felt the fireball hit with barely any heat or force. But, the bait taken, that meant there was still an opening.

Alexios' blade swung upward, carving through the side of the man's face to rupture and split his left eye in two and tear open his cheek. As the now-injured man reeled backward, Alexios pushed forward, ducking under a wide, blind, strike with the axe to slash at the back of the man's left leg, cutting cleanly through his hamstring and sending him crashing to his knees.

Grasping the man by the throat he pulsed with magic, fire streaming into and around his left hand. The man struggled quickly, before struggling weakly before simply slumping as he gurgled his last breath through the multitude of holes Alexios had opened in his throat with the application of heat.

"I did say so~"
Alexios declared in a sing-song manner before tossing the dying man aside, "Need assistance with getting him to talk, Princess?"

He was teasing but she had money.

Enough money that she might very well become someone interesting to him.

KillaRee
 
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Divina Rosenstern

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She could see his pulse jumping beneath the blade, hear him gasping as he blindly groped around the shards still in his eyes. Her ribs ached, she was sure there was grass in her hair, and she could taste copper where she had bitten the inside of her lip. She could see him scrabbling in the grass... which meant this was his sword.

Ironic. And she was sick of irony. Including being called Princess. She ignored that for now.

"Yes. I think giving him some... warm suggestions.. may help," she intoned, and she heard him whistle a sharp, intaken breath.

"Who. Are. Your. Employers?" she ground out, pressing the blade closer.

A faint cut against the throat, and blood began to whet the ground. "D'Armitage!" he blurted, hands raised, and then his throat spasmed in a swallow of panic. "Alec D'Armitage was what he said his name was, we were just gonna take the lady is all--"

She pulled her blade away in disgust, tossing the sword aside. It was a crude, blunt weapon, useless for a Lady of quality. Perhaps she would still make it to her appointment to see their maiden voyage... but there was no doubt payment to be made.

"Dispose of him, he's useless," she tossed over her shoulder, sighing.

Her focus was now on her own men... or rather, the only one. "Cerik, can you still ride?" she asked him coolly. He was panting, hands on his knees. The assault left Jonas, Ilyano and Rusik dead; she would have to recompense their families to settle any complaints they would have.

What a pain.

"Yes, my Lady."

She nodded once. "Go back to the Inner City, report to Barad; we may need to recruit once again. My horse should be close enough."

He bowed to her and went off. With a flick of her fingers, the water returned to her pouch. "And your name?" she asked calmly of the young man before her. He might be of use at least until the inner city; she could determine by then whether he'd be a useful acquaintance or a hindrance. So far it leaned towards useful... but that mouth would be an interesting thing to tame.

Nefieslab
 
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Alexios had been bringing magic to his hands, readying himself for the chance to burn the man into talking when he decided he was going to chat anyway. It wasn't too disappointing since torture wasn't something Alexios enjoyed so much as he held no ill-feelings towards it. Probably a bit weird to say that your official, emotional, reaction to graphic torture was "neutral at best".

But the fuck did he care for being normal?

He shrugged and waved it off until he heard the name. Even he knew well enough that the surname was important around these parts. Some could easily make the point that the family was something close to royalty. He chuckled a little bit at the information before nodding.

"As you wish."


Despite the man's protests he violently stomped down with an armoured boot on the man's face. Breaking parts of the face, he did it again and again, breaking through the man's skull to leave him headless and dead. Alexios watched as she sent her man away, waving cheekily when the guard eyed him with suspicion.

Honestly, if he had designs on the princess then one injured guard wasn't going to make a lick of difference. He hummed a little bit as he eyed her up and down casually.

"Alexios Marxan."


No reason to lie after all.

"And you look like a woman who's about to set herself to the task of killing a fuck-tonne of people... I have rates for singles, couples and fuck-tonnes if you're shopping."
 

Divina Rosenstern

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She nodded once, briefly, looking over the sell-sword. Strong, young, handsome. Useful, perhaps, and his features were not too poorly as well. "Alexios, was it?" she inquired, then shrugged. "A fine name, I suppose. And yes. Though the name they gave me, unfortunately, is useless." She strode closer to the cliffside, nodding down towards the shore.

"D'Armitage is a name for a family barely able to afford their own bread anymore, much less a crew of thugs." Far below, the tides were rising. The setting for the voyage would begin very soon, and even with this going on she would not miss their first venture for the world.

"But since you have skill with fire and sword, I intend to hire you," she spoke calmly, looking him over. "But perhaps we ought to discuss terms within an office, rather than this windy place."

She began to move, at first looking over at the shoreline once more, then glanced over her shoulder.

"And it's Divina Rosenstern. Lady."

And with that, it was time to discuss business. And payment. Though she had coin on her person, she doubted he would consider it enough.

Nefieslab
 
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Alexios didn't much care for her tone but he knew well enough when someone was considering paying him and when someone was going to pay him a decent amount he'd let them say whatever the fuck they wanted. If they were enough of an asshole he could always kill them after he had completed his mission and gotten paid after all.

He doubted she was going to be that bad and, thankfully, he was right! She would be a good resource to tap... and he could be honest within the confines of his own mind that yes, that was a double entendre and he was happy with it.

"Then the question becomes who holds their reigns."
he agreed with a small smile, "Noble houses down on their luck are prime target for the less than scrupled."

Like himself.

"Of course Divina."


He wasn't going to be degrading himself by lowering himself to using titles or the like. As of this moment she was not his employer but a potential source of income - he would be polite but only to a point.

"How far to this office of yours?"
he raised an eyebrow, "And are you certain it is more secure than your recent travel arrangements?"
 

Divina Rosenstern

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She raised a brow at his blatant use of her first name; the last person that dared utter it probably still had their matching rings on the bottom of the Allirian waterbed, rotting away. They were not intimate yet. But at his query, she showed a true emotion.

She smirked at him, amusement glinting in blue eyes.

"No, but it will have wine. And more gold than I carry, which I suppose is a boon in your favor."

That being said, she turned away. The horses to her lost guard would not be far; they were bred for combat, retired warhorses. Obtaining one of them for herself, and another for the mercenary would be no difficult feat.

Besides, he was adorable, playing the rogue. She supposed she could have her fun in the interim, it had been a while since someone didn't stare at her with revulsion or fear.

"Inner City, so a bit of a ride," she confessed, walking towards where the horses last ran, and whistling low. Soon enough, more hoofbeats echoed down in their direction. She glanced back at him then, pursing her lips in thought. Dismissing it, she took the destrier before her, lifting into the saddle with ease.

"Shall we then, Alexios?"

Nefieslab
 
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Well wine and gold were typically things Alexios couldn't say no to provided they were of sufficient quality and quantity. He didn't doubt that someone from the right family might have all of that in the right levels but he was still a little bit hesitant.

He had no doubts about his own skill or his ability to handle being ambushed but there was a chance that Divina could die during such an attack and he really didn't want that. Alexios really wanted Divina alive because she was a cash cow and you didn't kill your cash cow - you milked that bitch.

The inner city huh?

"This'll be my first visit to the city - nice of you to show me around."
he joked as he gathered one of the horses for his own use, "Best to hurry along little princess."

He shrugged a little bit.

"Unless you want to spend more time learning what burning human flesh smells like."


Mainly kind of fatty really.
 

Divina Rosenstern

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Her lips twitched again at his bluntness; he was an ass, for certain, yet that somehow worked in his favor. One last comment was given before she turned her horse from the empty plains of the Reach.

"I know what burning human flesh smells like," she answered calmly, spurring on. But to any other questions or comments, she remained deaf to them. Let him chew on that tidbit for a little while.

Thankfully, the journey back was mostly eventless; she had drawn her cloak hood back over her head, and for the most part kept to herself, through the outer city reach, then the inner sanctum. Though the streets were no less crowded, they were filled with a different air of money.

Long, winding roads were divided by estates, larger the more they progressed inwards. If he was an observant man, he would realize she was leading him through the nautilus progression of houses closer towards the Keep; indeed, the last few homes of residence were considered the homes of some of the higher echelons.

She stopped before the gates of one such structure. Golden stone stood tall, high enough to be difficult to climb without aid. Two guards rushed to open the gate to open it, and when her horse was led through, she nodded once.

"He's with me," she spoke calmly, and they reluctantly allowed him in as well.

The grounds within seemed nothing short of a wealthy paradise.

A massive garden, with mature trees and low stone benches, seemed to take on the front of the small castle itself, filled with exotic plants and birds. A layered garden itself built to adapt to the sloped grounds it was built on, it would seem at a glance that everything was level, hiding even the opening entrance to the chateau proper.

Though most women would have waited for a servant to ease her off the saddle, she hopped off alone, two stableboys coming to fetch the horses. She shared some brief, terse words with one of them to report what had happened, then pulled off her gloves, tilting her head towards the stone steps to the building proper.

"Would you prefer this discussion outside, or in, Alexios?"

Nefieslab
 
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Of course she knew what burning flesh smelt like - he had just burned a few people alive right in front of her. Or was she trying to sound deep and mysterious by making it seem like she had smelt it before? If that was the case she probably should have checked her audience.

A fire mage tended to find that smell rather normal at a young age if they used it in combat and he certainly did that.

He didn't say much of anything along the way back but he did sing a rather loud tune as they rode back. There wasn't anything else to do to entertain himself when that was happening after all. The city itself was rather... large.

Kind of didn't like the design choices but who was he to judge?

He chuckled a little bit and gave the guards a little wave.

"Yes, I'm with her."
he declared, pointing at her back, "Thanks for your kind service gents!"

Dismounting smoothly, Alexios eyed the grounds of the estate for a moment as he followed her along. He sniffed dismissively at the many, many, signs of wealth and influence.

"I've seen better."


He shrugged, leaning against the wall of the property lazily.

"Wherever you're going to feel safer with a pyromaniac like me around."


Outdoors was the usual choice.

KillaRee