Private Tales Scorched Earth

  • Distant lands call to you, Guest. The next world event coming soon.

    A land once ruled by Dragons and Gods opens, but not every secret of Arethil's past is safe to uncover.

    Titanfall

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"I have had worse," he replied. Their current escorts didn't seem to be enforcing the no signs rule right now.

He did not try to hide the grimace from her. It hurt. It was a raging, pulsing heat in the middle of his forearm.

"True to its name, Charity does not work well on yourself," he said. There had spent more time playing with swords and signs than magic. Something he might come to regret.

"But we are alive and I'm sure we'll be out of this soon," he said to her, offering a pained smile.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
His response earned an exasperated look. "Worse" was clearly subjective. She sighed, not very sure she thought this wasn't worse than being mauled by a monster or nearly cut down by an orc.

Fife suddenly regretted not having taken her Empathy lessons so seriously. She had learned a lot at first, taking to Joy like a fish to water and getting a better grasp on Avarice. But she had balked at the others because they had been intimidating or scary or because she had been reluctant to take them out of others. She wished she knew even a little Charity.

He offered a smile and Fife tried to match it, but the expression was dishonest. Though she had not lost her resolve to get out of this place, if only to spite them, no part of her felt terribly confident. She had wriggled out of the custody of armed guards -- had managed to keep all her fingers and both hands for all her years on the streets.

But she wasn't alone anymore, and these weren't city halfwit city guards holding her for larceny.

With her primary concern addressed and nothing more to say, she nodded and her hand settled on his uninjured arm. The gesture itself said more, a link more tangible than the abstract colors of his mind. He was solid and real, and they were together. For now, that would have to be enough.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"Not soon," contradicted that same voice they had been listening to. It seemed as if he was the only one willing to speak in their presence.

Raigryn looked up to watch the unremarkable looking man enter the room. He had changed his travelling cloak.

"You said you had questions for us," Raigryn said, trying to prompt the conversation.

"Two empaths using an illegal magic in Elbion?"

"That doesn't seem like a question. We were defending ourselves," Raigryn replied.

"I am Lawrence, member of the Steel Coin. You are Raigryn Vayd and..." the man said, walking into the room to stand on the other side of the table from them.

"This is Fife," Raigryn said.

"Well Raigryn and Fife I don't really have concerns about the legality of your magic. As I said, I have questions and I also have a task."

"What do you want me to do?" Raigryn asked.

Lawrence grinned. He seemed to age twenty years by drawing all those creases deeper into his pale face. "Nothing, I want Fife to do something for me."

He sat down in the chair opposite Fife.
 
  • Stressed
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
Fife turned to watch the man cross the room. She had decided rather quickly she didn't trust his polite manners and even, calm demeanor. He seemed as calculating as a cat on a wall watching mice in the alley, its tail flipping and eyes focused. He had a very specific way of saying things that made her uncomfortable -- like she was always missing something.

Mentioning their Empathy seemed like an obvious threat, but it still felt like he was asking something else. Lawrence introduced himself, but didn't know Fife. Then she really was a secondary acquisition.

Except she wasn't. She blinked and looked from Lawrence to Raigryn, thoroughly taken by surprise.

Me? The sign was fairly obvious as she looked incredulously between them. Fife gave Lawrence a final bewildered look before signing to Raigryn. What do they want me for?

She didn't like this shift in focus. It made sense for someone to seek out Raigryn, but her? An unknown who wasn't even half trained? Still, if it meant getting her and Raigryn out of here… Fife's eyes returned to Lawrence. Whatever they were playing at, she had to be careful.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"Now that's not on you..."

"I don't know why you might think you're in a place to decide what is acceptable. You're not."

Lawrence cut Raigryn off and then turned to look at Fife. He was watching her very carefully, but his eyes fell to her hands several times.

"I have a task for you. After it is done you may go. Until then Raigryn will be kept safe. We will tend to his arm. Does that seem unfair?"
 

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
Just like with Maellarn, Raigryn started to answer. Unlike that time, he was succinctly cut off from any further argument. This wasn't a benevolent arrangement where she paid them back for a kindness. This was the incentive for which she completed her end of a bargain. Almost blackmail, and it certainly twisted her arm.

But it meant they got to go. Her eyes dropped in contemplation before reluctantly lifting to meet Raigryn's.

Ask him what he wants, she told him. Fife's eyes were almost apologetic but she quickly signed before he could argue. Can I tell him no? You are injured and we are surrounded. He is bad, but not many options. Unfortunately, all those Idemni words were finally useful. It was all very quick and concise, in case they decided they didn't like her making so many gestures they didn't understand.

Ask him.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
You can tell him no, he signed back quickly. Raigryn did not know how that might play out, but there were always other options. No one was leveraging threats yet. He imagined they would get to that very quickly without much cooperation. Whether they fought here or out in that field, both options had been death.

"She wants to know what you want her to do?" Raigryn asked.

"What sign language is that?"

"Idemni."

"Can you teach us?"

"No."

"You have scribes equipment, you both write?"

"Yes." Raigryn didn't see the danger. He was tired and injured and being thrown off guard and shifted around deliberately.

"I want you to kill someone," Lawrence said.

"I could..."

"No, no you couldn't. I need someone young enough to pass for a child with the write outfit. An empath. They're a terrible person," Lawrence added, leaning back in his chair. "I could talk endlessly of his crimes. You would be doing the world a favour."
 
  • Stressed
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
No, she couldn't tell him no. Wouldn't. Fife would much rather do whatever awful task they surely had in mind than risk harm to Raigryn by refusing. She got the distinct impression that they didn't have to bargain with her. If compliance meant his safety, she could swallow her pride.

Lawrence might have been trying to keep them on their toes, and it was working. He shifted from one point to another, and then finally got to the point of telling her.

Fife was not surprised that it was murder. As a request form assassins, she expected nothing less. What she was surprised at was who. Or what, rather. She quickly looked to Raigryn. Another Empath?

Who is it? She wasn't saying no. Neither was she saying yes. While she wasn't convinced by Lawrence's tone that he was a bad person, it was just one person. Fife had had reservations on killing strangers as a personal debt to the Idemni, but she had also had the true option to refuse then.
 

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"We don't know his name. An empath. Some people found an entire village drained dry. Emotional zombies. Just milling around, barely surviving. Most of them have starved now," Lawrence said after Raigryn relayed the question.

"They'll have been driven insane," Raigryn interrupted. "An empath can't draw like that without driving themselves mad. I've only ever heard of this. I can help I can..."

"You will do nothing but stay here and ensure that Fife does the job tasked of her. I know that your kind can shield yourselves from one another's powers. They won't see her coming. Quick and clean. Our way. Not yours."

And then, once she had proven herself and Raigryn was in their custody the deal could be extended. This was what Lawrence did. He recruited those of talent and moulded them into the form the Steel Coin required.

They all hated him at first. But there were many he had raised out there who barely spared a thought for what they had endured to become living weapons in service of the Coin.
 
  • Stressed
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
Raigryn had warned her of taking too much from her targets, and Fife had gotten a taste of what it felt like to throw herself off kilter. If what he said was true and what Raigryn suspected was correct, then this man was a terror. While she was not keen on the idea of killing people (especially when coerced), Lawrence certainly knew how to sell it to her. It was one bad Empath or Raigryn.

An easy choice for her to make. She would have done a lot more. Hopefully Raigryn could live with it.

Hopefully she could.

One. Then we both go, she told Raigryn, whether as some kind of reassurance or to be relayed didn't matter. She met his eye and took a deep breath.

This was better odds, drastically lowering the chance of one or both of them dying a stupid, futile death. A little time spent doing an ugly job to get out of this corner. A little blood on her hands for his safety and wellbeing. He had been the one doing the dirty work to pull her up; Fife wasn't going to balk at her chance to repay some of that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
Lawrence didn't need to know their signs. He knew from Raigryn's reaction that she was seriously considering this. Raigryn started to sign but was quickly cut off.

"She is not deaf, you can speak."

"Killing someone on order isn't the same as defending yourself," Raigryn said. His jaw clenched in irritation at the words of the assassin. At no point had he considered that this was where the questioning would lead.

If Fife could read his thoughts she wouldn't be happy. He was worried that without him to guide her, she might make a mistake. He wanted to make sure that these killers were not lying, to see this empath for himself.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
She would have expected nothing less than for him to argue, and she saw the signs he started before Lawrence cut him off once more. Of course they couldn't discuss this with any privacy. Her temper flickered, a stubborn streak of red. She was signing as soon as he finished speaking.

Order to kill and defense the same thing presently, she argued, roughly cobbling the ideas together. I do not care about a stranger more than you.

A muscle in her jaw jumped as she clenched her teeth in frustration and her gaze dropped. A small tell. Not shame or guilt, but more akin to the worry that he would perceive her differently. Raigryn was a far better person than she was; they had long since established that. Fife recovered by glancing warily toward Lawrence, but her eyes did not immediately return to his.

I will do this. My turn to keep us safe.

He was irreplaceable. She only had one Raigryn and she wasn't going to lose him. Not like this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
The wait stretched out. Mere seconds but they seemed to last longer than they should have done. Lawrence was waiting for the translation.

Raigryn knew that he couldn't make every decision for her. He had already made her so frustrated and angry with him by trying. This wasn't slowly letting go and moving their partnership onto more even footing. This was putting her in the hands of ruthless killers.

"She will do it," Raigryn announced. "But I will be involved in this. I know empathy and I can help to plan what..."

"You have no control here. I do not need your help," Lawrence interruptly. Having what he wanted, his tone was colder. "Take Raigryn away to the Eastern side. You will have no part to play in this." the guards stepped forwards from the walls.
 
  • Stressed
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
As the silence stretched out, Fife finally lifted her eyes back to his. She knew he wasn't happy by several indicators. That didn't change her answer. And he tried. He had to, and she didn't blame him for that. She was just as important to him as he was to her, after all.

But he was excluded from involvement. He was the collateral for her participation and nothing more. This was not at all what she had expected from this conversation. It settled like a stone weight in her chest.

The guards stepped forward and Fife's heart leapt into her throat. Lawrence was wasting no time separating them. She abandoned her usual sense of reservation and grasped the lapel of his coat to pull him closer.

Wait for me. I will return soon and we will go away. Promise, she signed quickly in the close space between them. The rest… Part of it she had no sign for, so spelling would have to do, but she had to say it.

I love you.

Fife felt breathless, her throat thick and her eyes stinging. She was terrified suddenly, worried she had made the wrong choice and afraid of what would happen when he left her sight. Fife didn't trust these people at all, but she had to trust they weren't stupid; without Raigryn, no power on heaven or earth would keep her here.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
This wasn't right at all. In his mind he was not being taken from her; she was being taken from him. He reached back for her with his good arm, even as he felt hands clamp down on his shoulders. His fingers curled around her neck as he tried to hold her close.

"I love you too," he replied. Any other warning or instruction would have seemed desperate, foolish. She had to trust herself now.

The firm grip became a pull and he was torn from her. Fife would feel the flurry of his own pain before - for once - he closed himself off. Raigryn didn't want her to feel the full depths of his fear as he immersed himself in it. Raigryn managed on more glance over his shoulder as he was ushered out of the room.



"Fetch a quill and ink," Lawrence called out. He waited barely a few seconds, watching the girl watching Raigryn marched away.

"We have much training to do and not a lot of time. An explanation, questions, then for you rest and food. Tomorrow will be a difficult day."
 
  • Cry
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
He put his arm around her and Fife closed her eyes and leaned against him. She clung to his coat, drew one last deep breath, and told herself that this wasn't going to be the last time she felt his embrace. They would be together again soon. They had to be.

The guards pulled him away and Fife held fast to him for a moment more before his arm slipped free. Her eyes were glassy when she opened them and, as much as she hated the sight of him going, she couldn't look away. Her hand chased after his, seeking one final touch before he was pulled out of reach.

Raigryn closed his mind off from her, but not before she felt it -- the echo to the sickening agony squeezing her lungs and making it difficult to breathe. His mind's silence might have been a mercy, but she hated that void where the person she loved should have been. She grasped the back of the chair to keep herself from going with him and watched until he was out of sight.

Lawrence wasted no more time and was getting right to business. Fife closed her eyes for a moment more and focused on her breathing, on finding balance. Slowly, she straightened in her chair and watched him, her features set in the carefully blank mask she had practiced so much at Indretar. She refused to let him see any more of the tears in her eyes, too proud to let him know just how well his plan was working.

This had been the plan they hadn't seen. If they had had this conversation last night in the open, it would have played out differently.

As it were, Fife waited for him to begin. She was just as eager to get this started and over with as soon as possible. Still, she did not lift her hands or make any indication to speak to him.
 
  • Scared
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
Quill, ink and paper were set down on the table in front of her. The guards stepped back, but once again there were four of them hovering in the room. Those that had led Raigryn away quickly replaced.

"You have the basics of your kind yes? You can strengthen yourself, move quickly and with balance by stealing other people's feelings?" he asked.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
She watched the guard as they approached the table and set the writing supplies down. A simple nodded yes answered Lawrence's question well enough without lifting her hands. She supposed when one pared it down to the basics, that was it. Fife wasn’t here to enlighten him or teach him the proper mechanics.

Fife had already decided she hated Lawrence, nevermind that he was just doing a job. His neutrality annoyed her. He was not much different from many other people like him she’d had the displeasure of working with as a thief.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"Has Raigryn ever tried to forcibly drain your feelings against your will? Is that something your kind can do?" he asked.

The questions seemed quite innocuous. However, another guard walked in and set her sword down on the table. The blade had been wrapped tightly in cloth.

Lawrence didn't even look at it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
Once again she kept her hands still. She shook her head no, he had not ever taken her emotions forcibly. He had drawn from her, no doubt. She knew for a fact he had taken her fear in one specific incident -- a kindness and a tool that had come with some specific drawbacks. Beyond that she could only speculate. Gods knew she had been an open font of fuel for their breed of magic.

Regarding the second question, Fife shrugged, then nodded. Not a confident answer. She could only assume so. Non-Empaths didn't have a means to protect their minds, but Empaths could build those safeguards. Fife's journeyman mental barriers were yearling hedges compared to Raigryn's well-trained fortress. Presumably, he could still riffle through what she didn't protect and (by the same assumption) could take as much of it as he pleased.

She watched the person place her sword on the table before her eyes settled on the guard for several moments of quiet contemplation. Then she reached out to pick up the quill and write. Fife wrote simply, her letter more practiced than the first rough letter she had sent to Belduhr months ago. She kept the paper close while she wrote. Laying the quill aside when she had finished, she turned the paper to Lawrence and sat back to watch him back.

Raigryn would know.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"Raigryn...would know," repeated Lawrence. "Then I suppose I must ask him."

Her handwriting was acceptable, though it would not be a quick way of communicating. Perhaps half of the Order could read and write. Most of their work was in the tracking, not the killing. It often paid to be able to read contracts and missives.

Regardless of the answer she was still their best chance at getting close to the empath. Lawrence would not have cared for a thousand peasants drained of all feeling. The Empath's path of destruction had left a lot of pain and a lot of angry people with coin.

"You will need to learn and quickly. Some people with enough influence to find us want a contract written for this empath. Our contracts are not written. Would you like to know how they are made?"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
She was probably walking a line, being catty, but it was frank. His response irked her, because there was the implication that she wasn’t going to be seeing Raigryn. He had only been gone a handful of minutes and that scathing reality began to sink in. That was something she could dwell on later.

The sooner she could finish this, the better. Fife inclined her head in a single curt nod to learning quickly. She could do that -- had been doing that a lot recently. Regarding the second question she paused before nodding again. Raigryn had mentioned briefly the coin business, but that was all she knew.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"The coin is a spell. It is a binding contract. Once taken the coin will weigh heavier on the soul the longer it is held. We tell everyone it will eventually kill the assassin if they fail, but that's just to perpetuate our reputation. It can be undone, eventually and not without great pain.

"So you see we haven't taken a coin for this empath, because we don't make promises that we cannot keep."

It was a simple system and one which had been with them for hundreds of years. A contract writ in blood for magic services. Dark magical services.

"Are you hungry? Are you tired?"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fife

Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
Member
Messages
701
Character Biography
Link
Not much different from what he had already explained, then. While she was not keen on the idea of a magical leash, so to speak, she had assumed this would be part of the job when she’d agreed. She doubted Raigryn would be too pleased about it and, for a very brief moment, Fife was glad he was going to be elsewhere for the duration. Her eyes dropped to the paper between them and she chewed her lip.

Lawrenced asked if she was tired or hungry and Fife looked up once again. She could feel the exhaustion in her face, the dark rings below her eyes beckoning her eyelids to rest. Nerves had ruined her appetite at the inn the night before -- half a day ago now -- and the dull ache in her stomach was a familiar old friend she had simply ignored.

She didn’t trust him or anyone here, but she reminded herself that they needed her. If he was speaking honestly about anything, she could assume it was the careful selection of the jobs they took and the importance of fulfilling them. The cards weren’t all in their hands; she held at least one. They weren’t going to kill her and compromise their contract.

Not until the job was finished, at least.

Fife reluctantly nodded.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Raigryn Vayd

Raigryn Vayd

Staff
Messages
1,129
Character Biography
Link
"Good. Then let us see how you use a sword."

Lawrence pushed himself up away from the table and walked backwards towards the wall. Whatever was coming he seemed to be distancing himself from it.

Behind her came the sound of wood on stone. The guards holding wooden staffs started to form a semi-circle behind her.

"For every minute you do not take a hit you make have one course of your dinner."

They wouldn't attack until she had a hand on her blade, but would show little mercy from that moment.
 
  • Cthulhoo rage
Reactions: Fife