Private Tales Undercurrent

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Inina

The Pearl of Njova
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It was always the same dream. Flashes of home, of the fear-stricken faces of her parents and grandmother as they reached out toward her, unable to catch hold of her before the current dragged her toward the surface. Human hands grappled at her, hauling her onto a boat, their menacing expressions that of triumph and greed. She always woke up when the pommel of a blade came down toward her head. This time it was to the sound of Odisius' club as he smashed it several times in quick succession against the rusting iron bars that caged her.

The woman's malnourished body jolted awake and she peeked up from where she sat curled in the far corner of the space half the size of a row boat. "Time to look pretty Gils." the man who'd bought her snarled with a grin of far too few teeth. She had refused to give her name to any who asked it - she'd refused to say anything at all as a matter-of-fact. They thought her mute, or stupid, but they'd made sure she could still feel pain enough to scream. The wounds weren't healing as they should have, not with a few meagre ladles of stagnant water she was forced to drink every day. She needed salt, real salt and real water, or she'd continue to die this slow, miserable death she'd been dying since the day she'd been dragged into the lives of humans.

She'd been in this underground hell-hole for over a week now, subject to the beady eyes and greedy smiles of the sorts of creatures that frequented such markets. Everything sold here had been ripped from where it belonged, whether it was a stolen artefact, or hides and horns from rare beasts, dangerous venoms and magically enhanced weapons.. She'd even seen a few of their own kind being dragged through in chains and sold to the highest bidder.

"Now try a smile for me, darlin'. We got fortunes to make yet. Well.. I do." he barked a laugh at himself and turned to beckon and barter with the first customers of the day as they drew near to get a closer look at her.. A 'copper a strand of her hair' , 'three coppers a scale' -plucked with a blade from underneath the skin of her legs- and a 'silver for a vial of blood'. The 'whole fish', Odisius had assured, was no doubt well above anything these vermin could afford.

"She looks dead." an orcish looking creature grunted as he prodded a meaty finger at her leg through the bars. Nina flinched, proving that she was in fact alive. Odisius slammed the baton against the bars once more, growling a warning for her to look pretty once again, but she could barely keep her eyes open. Her skin was sallow and her hair had lost the iridescent lustre, just as the scales had. Everything was just slowly turning.. grey.
 
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Rost

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Rost walked slowly down the sandy street. The breeze off the ocean was warm and carried with it the scent of salt, seaweed, and fish from the coastal market. Though “market” was a generous term for it. While the old docks here had their share of fishermen, they were frequented by a much less honest way of life. Smugglers, thieves, pirates, all of them found trade in this port. Lucky that they did, and even luckier that so many didn’t know the true worth of what they’d found.

Rost swung a plain sack at his side, filled with the items he had found that day. While he no longer sought the treasures himself, he had the eye and experience to know what to look for. Buy low from the pirate, sell high to Odisius, the only other man in the backwater that knew the proper prices.

It was not the company that Rost preferred to keep. Odisius was a horrible little man. Mean, dirty, cruel, but he was also rich. Well… rich enough to keep Rost fed. So long as Rost kept bringing quality items, Odisius seemed happy to pay. Given that the fence was small and weasley, going to the docks himself was no doubt a stressful experience.

Rost tried, all the same, to keep his thoughts to himself. He had not always kept his boots on the right side, the clean side, the side that became so very blurry out at sea. Some men jumped that line, however. Some men never came back.

He pulled open what looked to be a cellar door with no house. A skinny man just beyond looked momentarily alarmed that he had not knocked (as was protocol) before recognizing the regular. Rost nodded with a pleasant smile before descending the creaking stairs to the underground den and making for a wooden table at the center of the dark “shop.”

“What detritus are you trying to cheat me with today?” Came a caustic voice, though it was delivered through a smile.

“Gems of the sea once again found by blind men.” Rost dumped the sack with a sound of clattering metal and stone.

Odisius fingered through it for a moment. “Trash,” he muttered, “Garbage. Bilge water. Rusted scrap.”

Rost rolled his eyes and could not help a small smile as the game played out as it always did. Odisius would claim it all to be worthless and offer a pittance, Rost would counter that they both knew the pieces were valuable and ask just a bit much for them. After this back and forth, they would settle on something close to reasonable.

There was a noise from behind a closed door, something heavy hitting metal. Rost never went through that door, never went into the back room of this place. He didn’t like being in the front room were it not for necessity… he didn’t care to know what Odisius held out of the sight of pirates.

“Take the gold, hope I’m still in business tomorrow,” the little man said, catching Rost’s look of apprehension and tossing a small satchel on the table. Rost had, in fact, provided him with more actual treasures than he could have found on his own, and he was keen not to lose the business.

There was another clang, and some garbled grumbles, like a burly creature yelling at something. Odisius snapped at his doorman and pointed, and the thin man swept inside to deal with the situation. He opened the door just enough to sneak through, but it was wide enough.

Rost saw Inina through a crack in the frame. He saw her caged, twisted up in a space too small. He saw the orc knocking on the bars as her listless face did not turn to meet him. He saw the dried blood on the floor. He smelled the vile state of the place. He glanced for only an instant, but the scene, her face, her eyes… they burned into him.

He quickly looked back to Odisius, who was staring quite hard at the larger man. He should leave. He should forget what he saw and take the gold. He had no family but there were people in this village that depended on him, that needed this gold. But he could not free himself of her image. What was worse, he knew what she was.

A kivren, and a very sick one at that. Her skin was dull, her hair did not shine, and there was no telling how long she’d been out of water. Several days, at least, and she would not last much longer.

Odisius continued to stare. Take. The. Gold.

Rost stared back for a long moment before his face relaxed, he smiled, and said, “Right.”

He took the gold, Odisius relaxed, and at that moment he swung the satchel into the cretin’s head. A shower of gold hit the floor as the cloth ripped, but Odisius was out cold before the first coin fell. Rost moved with purpose in two strides to the large door and wrenched it open.

He did not stop as the orc, doorman, and a third pirate turned in alarm. He shoved the doorman to the side easily. “Hells!” yelled the pirate.

“Leave,” Rost commanded. His voice was not raised, but it held such a cold fury, and his eyes had grown so dark with rage that the human pirate left the room hurriedly, muttering curses.

The orc did not oblige. He smiled, flaring his nostrils and showing thick, sharp tusks. The creature swung, Rost ducked and delivered a powerful blow to his stomach. The orc groaned, but Rost caught the second swing hard in the shoulder and was sent into the wall.

The orc wiped his lips, and Rost righted himself just in time to avoid a punch that would have crushed his skull. He hit hard at the orc’s back, punching into kidneys before a backhand pushed him aside. The orc was angrier, and swung wildly around. Rost stepped back, felt the wind of the orc’s fist across his face, and kicked down hard on the attacker’s knee. A crunch, a howl of pain, and the fight was done.

The third pirate had fled (wisely), and Rost leaned against Inina’s cage. “Can you walk?” A stupid question. She barely looked like she could breathe. He searched for the cage door, tugged on it… locked.

Key. Odisius. He looked back to the smuggler strewn across the floor. Wincing as his newly broken rib protested, he roughly searched the small man. There were voices now, shouts growing near. The pirate had brought friends.

With another pained groan Rost stood and hurried back to the cage, slamming the key into place and tearing the door open. “I’m here to help you,” he said, slowly offering a hand. He heard the door to the shop burst open. “But we need to leave now. Take my hand.”
 
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Inina

The Pearl of Njova
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There were sounds she'd grown so used to that she didn't feel the need to pay much attention. The rattling of her cage, the sounds of certain voices, some bickering and snarled threats amidst the bartering. The crashing sounds and the way voices rose in rage and panic however, drew what little attention she could muster. Nina's head rose as the door opened and the human came pouring in like a storm, stirring up chaos around the room it was not supposed to be in.

Leave.. How badly she wanted to. Inina's chest tightened in fear at the command and she sat up a little to be quickly reminded of bruises old and new, and of just how little strength she had. Her dull gaze narrowed as it shifted from the pirate to the orc as the fight unfolded, tensing at every scuffle, flinching at each blow. Perhaps she'd lived a life sheltered from the harsh realities of the world above the surface, but their penchant for violence frightened her and their cruelty even more so.

Her eyes widened and followed the orc to the ground as he fell, growling and snarling in pain. Others ran, and she turned her attention to the man billowing toward her. Nina's body curled in on itself as deep into the corner of the cage as she possibly could. She didn't answer his question. She didn't understand what he was doing. Stealing her, most likely, since she'd been told she was apparently worth a fortune.

It was the fastest her heart had pounded in days as she stared at him through the now open cage door, and she was shocked to find herself reluctant to leave the horror she knew for something that might've been a hell of a lot worse for all she knew...

How could it be any worse? She might even have some chance of escape.. What if he really was trying to help her..

She didn't have time to consider. Her heart lurched at the sound of more trouble arriving and she reached to take the offered hand, forcing herself to move despite how it pained her. She'd have crumpled to the ground the second her feet touched the earthy floor had it not been for him holding onto her. She was bad at walking as it was, now it felt near impossible.

The kivren drew in a breath through gritted teeth, her face a contortion of agony as she leaned into him, willing herself to move as quickly as she possibly could.
 
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Rost

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Her hand was cold and dry, and it fit so delicately into his large, calloused fingers he may as well have been grabbing eggshells. Alas there was no time to be gentle, and he pulled her from her cage as quickly as he could without outright breaking her.

Her legs buckled immediately, as expected. “My apologies,” he grunted as he swept a thick arm behind her legs and hoisted her across his chest. Her skin stuck to his hands and clothes like half-dried seaweed. It should have been slick and slippery and difficult for him to hold, it should have been vibrant and shimmering… not this muted, dessicated palette. Looking at her had made him angry. Feeling her filled him with rage.

He moved quickly from the room. The main entrance would have been too small for her cage to fit, and that weasel Odisius would absolutely have had an escape route. He made for the small office in the back, the place where more sensitive deals were made. Surely such a passage would be there… surely.

There was nothing but walls, a dirty desk, and cluttered shelves in the office.

“Did they bring you through here?” he asked the dying girl. “Do you remember a doorway?” He didn’t know if she could hear him in her state.

The front door burst open in the distance.
 

Inina

The Pearl of Njova
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It was a shock to her, just how much everything hurt. Her muscles burned, her skin and wounds stung, even the brush of her skin against his shirt was fresh agony, causing her frail body to tremble in his hold. She could feel the frantic pounding of his boots rattle through her bones as he strode with haste to find their escape. Nina had given up entirely, but now there was a new bud of hope blooming in her chest and she breathed deeper than she had done in days.

She tried to speak, but the word was dry and stuck in her throat like a jagged edge. She lifted a hand to point a finger toward the shelves. She had been barely conscious when she had been brought here, but her memory of a doorway there stirred in her memory. The tremulous hand recoiled at the crashing sound nearby and she clutched onto his shirt instead, the fresh bloom already wilting.
 
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