Fable - Ask Rebirth

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Matias

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Matias reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. A sigh escaped him and he shook his head as he began to think about what lay before them.

From what Harlowe said this place was not an easy place to conquer even with the beats army. They likely had an army, or at least a city guard, and the Baron had told him that his Brother had always kept a loyal guard of semi-mercenaries called the Black Hearts. Matias knew nothing about them, but it was always better to assume your does were competent rather than fools.

Even if you didn't know the details. "Fuck me."

He uttered quietly.

"Alright. Let's just get there first." Matias hadn't been lying when he said he wasn't an assassin. Even his new found abilities didn't exactly fall into the realm of quiet and stealth. He could freeze the whole place over, but that wasn't what had been asked of him.

"That guy might have something useful." He suggested. "More than we have anyway."

The Frost Giant shrugged as they trudged onward.

It would take them the better part of a week to reach Olgren, and Matias didn't intend of spending that whole time talking about the 'plan', if one bit of knowledge would throw a wrench into all of it.
 
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Harlowe

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Harlowe inclined her head in silent agreement.

A silence, Matias would learn, that was a signature of his new partners. It wasn't an awkward thing but rather a comfortable one from a fellow soldier who was content to go to that place inside their mind that turned an endless march into something easy to endure. For the next four days it was the same. Occasionally they would stop to make camp for a few hours to rest their feet though neither of them needed sleep or food. Not in the human sense anyway. At least, that was what Harlowe assumed for he didn't take himself off to hunt at any point.

In a way she was a little relieved.

On the fourth evening though they hit a large market town of sorts that sat as a crossways in the Silk Road. There were seven gates with roads spanning off in all directions to the North, West, East and South. Harlowe wondered curiously where they all led. It was the tug of the contrast that meant she knew which one they had to take but... her eyes flickered to the town and the warm inviting fires being lit about the place.

"Do... you want to stop here for the night?"
 
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Matias

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Matias glanced over to his companion.

Though most of their time had been spent in silence, he thought he had a good read on Harlowe now. At least enough of one that he could tell she wanted to stop here for the night. He was not sure why. It was clear she despised her new 'condition', but perhaps the allure of a bit of humanity was enough to ensnare her.

He supposed her could understand that. "Sure."

The Frost Giant agreed with a roll of his shoulders.

"I have a bit of coin." He was not sure if Harlowe had been afforded the same. The Regiment didn't really 'pay' anyone, but they always had plenty of money for anyone that actually wanted it. It helped that most of them...scrounged for food rather than bought it.
 
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Harlowe

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Harlowe nodded absent-mindedly before prowling off towards the looming gate. He was right, there was something calling her about the city. But whether that was how it spoke to her lost humanity or something more... sinister she didn't know. She did intend to find out though.

The guards barely looked at them as they passed which was a small mercy but not strange. For once they were not the oldest creatures taking up refuge in the city. She had seen all sorts milling about beyond the walls, had scented their odd bloods.

"Our destination is the next city to the South West, I think we can find some information here before we get there," Harlowe said eventually though refused to look in his direction. With evening settling across the lands she pushed back her hood and let the firelight dance across her silver mane. Nobody seemed to batter an eye at her red eyes though there were a few envious glances at her hair.
 
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Matias

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Matias lazily followed Harlowe's path.

He didn't pay close attention to most people on the street, a habit he had learned as a noble. Most commoners weren't worth the time of day, and it was better to focus yourself on something else. Like finding a good place to drink.

One of the few good things he'd learned about being a Frost Giant was that he could still taste food. Apparently for a lot of the Regiment this was a point of envy, but Matias didn't particularly care.

"That place looks interesting enough." Matias said as he pointed towards a tavern at the edge of the small market. There was a sunken ship on the sign outside, a claw having rent it into several pieces.

An aroma of well cooked meats swarmed from the establishment, and Matias began to set himself towards it.
 
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Harlowe

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As a human it was a place she would have veered away from from the sign alone. Like the Kha's army all those weeks ago she also, probably, would have clutched at the useless religious icon she still wore under her shirt and muttered a prayer. Now, all she did was follow in Matias' footsteps as he led them to its door and eye up the snarling statues on top of the roof that seemed to make up the head of some different monster. Then she paused.

A cold sensation ran up her spine and she turned subtly as though examining something on one of the stalls to cast her eyes to where her back had been. Out of the corner of her eye a shadow slipped back in to one of the many side streets and the off feeling she was being watched slowly ebbed away. The woman who owned the stall, to her credit, didn't look at all concerned with the monster in front of her and offered her a good price on one of the mirrors on her stand. Another of those old wives tales that wasn't real for her crimson eyes reflected back at her perfectly.

Shaking her head and murmuring her apologies she followed after her fellow Monster and into the tavern. She was too busy looking over her shoulder to notice straight away just how different this place was.
 
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Matias

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The tavern that Matias had selected seemed to be a collection of scum and villainy the likes of which most towns could only hope to avoid.

Nearly everyone in sight was carrying a knife or blade of some sort. Most of them openly, some of them concealed. A few cast glanced over towards Matias and Harlowe, some muttering comments about 'prey' or a game or two, but they were silenced as icy blue eyes floated over them.

Matias waited for a moment, then slowly made his way towards the bar.

The Innkeeper behind the long plank of wood there looked up as he approached, clearly looking first at his armor and then at the scars on his face. "Nice place."

He commented dryly, earning a sneer from the man.

"Whatda want?"​

The man asked with a piercing glare towards the two newcomers.
 
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Harlowe

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"Rooms," Harlowe sat down on one of the stools, pushing her cloak back over one shoulder to reveal the sword at her own hip in a casual yet meaningful manner. Her armour was a deep obsidian black that seemed to leech the light from the nearby fire and lanterns. One of the Regiments blacksmiths had made it specifically for her, before she had even sought her out. When she'd queried how she'd known the other Monster had merely shrugged and said Orin.

It was enough of an explanation for most things.

"And... food," she glanced to Matias. The bartender didn't flinch as he met her red gaze and then snorted.

"I'm sure there's blood you can lick off the table for someone like you, and you?" his eyes moved to Matias, assessing quietly. He didn't seem able to figure out what he was either just that his human senses told him something was different.
 
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Matias

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"Food." Matias said simply.

Though the inside of the tarvern was about as seedy as could be, there was a delectable smell coming from the inside of the kitchen just behind the bar.

"Mutton?" It was hard to identify. "Whatever the fuck you have back there."

From his belt he fished out one of the coins. It was a silver, far more than a room and a meal could actually cost in a place like this. The Innkeeper caught it, glanced down at the mark, then seemed to bite it as if to test the authenticity.

A shrug rolled over his shoulder, and then he disappeared. "Guess they're used to our sort."

Matias commented dryly to Harlowe, wondering what they'd stepped into.
 
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Harlowe

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"It makes things easier at least," Harlowe sighed and let her shoulders ease a fraction as the man walked off to sort out whatever food it was he had cooking. She was of course referring to the need to skulk around which was always more suspicious, especially when your eyes glowed. If anything their...kind might make them appear easier to talk to for people like this who were clearly the wrong side of the law. Nobody thought Monsters ever fought for good.

She half turned so she was facing Matias as though she were only interested in talking to him when really it was to survey that side of the room over his shoulder.

"I will need to feed," she said suddenly, meeting those icy blue eyes. "Before we reach our goal. To avoid accidents."

To avoid a massacre.
 
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Matias

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He shrugged. "Help yourself?"

Matias didn't much care what, or who, she ate. Perhaps it was his noble callousness, the fact that he already saw many as beneath him that marked such cruelty.

Though truth be told it was something else.

Uniquely, perhaps, he had already accepted his fate. An odd sort of cynicism had taken over him. What was the matter of one life? What was one low-life scum? He was a monster now. He wasn't even human. Even if some in this bar suspected what they were, he was willing to bet that more than half of them would gladly see them both dead.

That was a lesson he'd learned early on.

Humanity did not care for them, so why would he offer such care in return. "Doubt you need my help."

Matias commented.
 
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Harlowe

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His tone was hardly surprising given he was no doubt used to the other, darker members of the Regiment. She was sure they existed in the South as they did with the main body Harlowe had been stationed with. Yet she couldn't help but sense his carelessness was something more to do with the arrogance that oozed off of him. Harlowe ran her eyes over him again and then gave a soft, feminine snort.

"I don't need your permission either."

She might have said more when the innkeeper bustled back with drink and food for Matias and a scorned look to her. She flashed him a smile that included much more fang than was necessary and watched as he walked off muttering quietly to himself.

"Enjoy your meal, I'm going to see if anyone can tell me more about our target," she slipped off the stool without another word and sauntered off into the crowd.
 
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Matias

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"Enjoy your meal." He countered with the same words that she had offered him.

It wasn't vindictive, not in any way at all.

Matias didn't particularly hold any animosity towards those in the Regiment. At first he'd been angry, like most were, but that feeling had quickly dissipated as he focused more on the consequences of his own fate. He knew what he was, even accepted it, but he hated it.

It seemed as though most of his joys had been taken away, all but one anyway.

Lips thinned for a moment as he turned in his seat and glanced down at his food, his gaze flickering over to the Innkeeper for a moment before he took a deep breath.

"So." He asked the man. "How much silver do I have to throw you for the rundown on Olgren?"

Harlowe wasn't the only one that could make friends. He just had a different method.
 
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Harlowe

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Harlowe didn't go for the men who stalked her with their eyes like hungry wolves. She didn't even spare them a glance when they offered her a spot at their table to play a game of cards. Men never had the information in an establishment like this. No, the power of information lay instead with the group of women she found in a separate room arrayed in various stages of dressed. They looked up hopefully when she entered and then away with a sigh when they saw what she was.

At least most of them. A few women still let their eyes linger and kept their lips drawn up into a silken smile so Harlowe bee-lined for them.

It didn't take long to get them talking. A little bit of coin and being treated with respect went a long way for women who had been forced to make their way in life on their backs. Harlowe's offer was the equivalent to a night off whilst being paid.

And she was offered a drink.

It was some hours later when she wound her way back to Matias, wiping lipstick off her cheek.
 
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Matias

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Matias was a noble.

Matias was a bastard.

Matias was an asshole.

Those were all indisputable facts that even he couldn't really argue with on the best of days. Despite that though he had a way about him. People tended to like him, whether it was for the right reasons or the wrong ones, he could make friends.

The surly and rather rude innkeeper was no exception to that rule, and by the time Harlowe returned he had managed to wring the man for every bit of information the man had had. As well as a free flagon of ale and a second meal. "There you are."

Matias said just as the Innkeeper was wandering away.

"I hope you enjoyed yourself." He said. "Because I found out some interesting tidbits."

To say the least.
 
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Harlowe

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"So did I," Harlowe gave a rare smile, though it was dampened somewhat as she glanced to the retreating back of the innkeeper. Her expression said everything about how much she trusted any information coming out of that man but she glanced up the stairs in a casual tilt of the head. Such secrets were probably best shared in private. If someone heard what they were discussing then...

Without waiting for his answer she took the key the owner had given them earlier and headed up the stairs.

Their room was a shabby thing up in the attic but serviceable with two narrow cot beds either end and a tiny little desk. The small round window in the far wall let in a pool of moonlight that flooded the room in an eerie white.

Harlowe sat on one of the beds which creaked slightly under her weight.

"I spoke to the Girls, they said there have been quite a few of our friends soldiers going through town over the last few weeks."
 
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Matias

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Matias took the sword off of his belt, tossing it onto his bed before stretching slightly and wandering over to the one window in the corner of the room.

His head nodded as she spoke of soldiers corroborating some of what the Innkeeper had said. That was no surprise really, even when the Baron had spoken of his brother he had said something about 'power moves'. It was clear that things were headed towards war.

"That was much of what the Innkeep told me." He said, then quietly added. "Though."

Lips thinned. "He also some of something else. 'Mysterious' figures being seen going in and out of Olgren."

Men in robes, hidden and tucked away.

"He said...one of them stopped over in town for a while, and there were reports of missing girls." Matias glanced back at her to see if any of them had mentioned it.
 
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Harlowe

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Anger shone in Harlowe's eyes. The girls had indeed mentioned such a man and none of it had been pleasant.

"He beat them. Raped them. Carved them into pieces and then dumped them," she bit out with a hiss. In the darkness of the room her eyes practically glowed. If she got a hold of them she would tear them to pieces with her bare hands, that look promised it. After a moment she wrenched her eyes away from his and looked down at her hands as they clenched and unbleached in her lap.

"The girls said he was covered in strange symbols which he said were bindings of some kind, gave him magic beyond their meagre understanding," bitterness twisted every word. "But he was closed lipped about what he was doing with our target. He just said his Brotherhood had been invited to dine with the Prince," she let out a frustrated breath.

"The bodies were all missing their hearts though."
 
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Matias

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"Blood Magic." Of a sort, at least from what it sounded like.

Matias didn't really know much about that sort of thing. Most of what he knew about that sort of thing came from the Radiant Church, what they preached about sinners and heretics. His tutors had spoken of it as well, but that didn't mean much.

Still, it was information, and that was good. "So they have mages."

He said with a frown.

"That's a wrench we didn't need." A hand ran slowly over his chin in thought. At least they had some warning of it now. Still, he didn't like it, especially because they knew next to nothing about this "Brotherhood". "I also found out of an old smugglers route into Olgren."

That had taken a few coins, but it was worth it. "Might be a good idea to use that if there's mages in the city."

He and Harlowe stood out like sore thumbs to anyone who knew even a bit about the other side.
 
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Harlowe

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Harlowe ran a hand through threads of silver hair and grimaced at the amount of knots she met. As Matias spoke she absentmindedly dug through her pack and took out a comb which she ran through the shimmering curtain as she mulled over his information.

"Agreed," she conceded, even if she didn't like the idea of sneaking in. It was probably either that or calling the Regiment and taking the city by force, but the whole point of them trying this was to avoid slaughter. It never seemed to change. Nobles desires to spare lives they knew would be forfeited anyway some way down the line. To Harlowe it always appeared the more they resisted it the more it was likely to come about.

"I would imagine this Brotherhood are probably stationed close to our target too," the young vampire mused as she stared at a point on the wall lost in thought. "At least, I would have stationed them close to me if I expected an assassination attempt."
 
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Matias

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Matias nodded his head in agreement. "We'll need to find out more about them."

The fact of the matter was that they had no idea what they were walking in to, and although they were both monsters...mages were about the second most dangerous thing he could think. If someone pressed him for a plan right now he would have said he could create a distraction while Harlowe went in to kill their target.

Yet that meant she would be going in blind and he would have no idea what would come after him.

That was far too dangerous for his liking.

"Hopefully our...friend will have more information about this 'Brotherhood'." There was a good chance of that if he'd been in the city for a while, though Nazara had never mentioned what sort of monster the man was.

He frowned for a moment, a hand scratching at his chin. "I don't like this."

Matias said quietly.

"Feels like we're missing something." Though he couldn't have said what.
 
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Harlowe

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"Me neither," Harlowe admitted.

She was a soldier, used to confronting her enemies on the battlefield with steel in her hands and being able to look her opponent in the eye as she charged. It was the simplistic head on way of dealing with the task at hand that she had liked so much about the army. Sneaking in the shadows with a silent dagger was far removed from her comfort zone. But if Nazara thought that she would be a good fit for it then...

"There has to be a reason we were chosen though, and together at that," even if the Regiment seemed random she was beginning to learn there was always a logic to these things.

"We'll leave before dawn and get a good start on the road, maybe if we pick up the pace we can arrive there before the end of Friday."
 
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Matias

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He nodded his head. "Maybe."

Matias knew that when if came down to it Harlowe would be able to easily outpace him on the road. If she tried she probably could have made it there before the night was even over.

Unfortunately, though his stamina was better than most humans, he could not run forever. Lips thinned for a brief moment and he quietly wished that horses could actually tolerate him. Perhaps he would have to ask Navaia or one of the other older monsters about that.

There had to be some sort of Mount that didn't mind monsters.

Eventually Matias pulled himself from the window.

"Let's get some rest." He told her, stepping towards the other bed and practically throwing himself down.
 
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Harlowe

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Harlowe winced at the noise of protesting wood underneath the giant but didn't say anything as she finished brushing her hair. Once she was done she set it aside and then stood with barely a whisper of noise to remove her cloak and the clunkier bits of armour. She might not have been able to sleep much but she did enjoy resting, something which Orin had told her was important especially when young. Laying around in armour was not conducive to that.

Stripped down to her breeches and shirt she then quietly eased back onto the ratty mattress and laid down on top of the covers then shut her eyes.

She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew cold steel was being pressed to her throat.
 
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Matias

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"Not too smart, are you?" Matias said as he was awoken by the same press of steel against his neck.

It didn't feel cold to him, nothing ever did, but a blade was a blade. His eyes were still closed, and he let out a long breath before slowly his eyes folded open. Matias searched the face of the man above him, finding no rune marks or anything that might mark him.

When he found nothing at all he opened his mouth to speak.

"Quiet. Tell us where you hid yer gold, an we might let ye live."

Matias looked up at him. "Thieves?"

The Frost Giant said incredulously, as if he couldn't quite believe that common criminals were actually trying to stick them up right now. A frown touched his lips. "How fucking stupid do you have to be?"

He demanded, the man above him looking taken aback.

"Do you know what the fuck she is? What I am?" Matias asked angrily.
 
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