Private Tales What Does Not Kill Us

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Hath Charosh

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Lips curled back into a snark and he thrust out his foot. When his boot struck the bars their harmonious protest resonated up and down the cells. The guard behind his bar stopped to look down at Hath.

"Keep that up and I'll come in there."

Invite him anyway and then break his neck.

Hath stood slowly from the bench. One long stride crossed all the space he was afforded in the cell. He pressed his head to the cool bars and snarled down at the man. The snarl slowly twisted into a grin. The dried caking one side of his face only added to the intimidating visage.

The guard turned to face him, seemingly unphased by the pointless show of aggression.

"Or I can have Carl stick you with his crossbow and save everyone a hanging?"

If you get the chance rip his head off first.

Hath stayed pressed up to the bars. He stayed there, dark eyes falling upon the guard until he walked away.

Hath finally settled back down. He sat on the small shelf of wood and placed his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. His head still ached and there was a hot pain in the centre of his back where the guards had stamped on him when they had dragged him down.

Coming here had been a mistake. They had ended up travelling through the wrong portal stone and needed a magical key to get back. Having been to Elbion before he had left the others in the open and marched to the gates. Ever since he had been in Pandemonium he had been consumed by his anger.

A few 'pig fucking' comments from the guards at the gate and he had soon been embroiled in a brawl. It had taken all his control to keep his weapons sheathed. When Hath had first visited the city he had been a hunter. Since that time he had fought gnolls, giants and blight orcs in the mountains. He had fought demons in Pandemonium. Over the winter in the Spine he had added bulk to his frame. Now he was a killer. Hath scratched at the front of his shoulder where the demon's feather had been embedded.

Perhaps, he thought, he should have drawn weapons. That way he would have gone down fighting instead of dangling from the rope in front of a braying crowd of humans.

All he had was the name of a blacksmith's he had visited once. He had given it to the guard but whether they would even make enquiries he did not know.
 
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Pern

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It was late by the time word of any prisoner arrived to Pern's knowledge. Late enough that she'd been home for the day, working on dinner while Ignatius tutored a student of the College. A heavy knock came at their home.

"Nilli, do you mind?" Ignatius' voice echoed from the solar with the scent of scrolls and hot tea.

Pern looked up from where she chopped fresh carrots from the garden and leaned a curious gaze to the door. She pulled the pot of stew on its hinge from the fire to let it settle and headed to greet their unannounced guest.

"Yesh? May I help you?"
"Master Gibbson didn't answer his door."
"Gibbshon is away on bush-nesh, if you are here to pick up an order it will have to wait-"
"Not an order," the Guard interrupted, a disgusted look on his face of which Pern had grown so accustomed to she'd come to knowing it as their friendly face, "a prisoner was brought in today after making one hell of a mess at the city gates. An orc, said it knew the Smith in the Merchant District."

Pern's stomach sank, mind immediately going to Scy, "An orc?"
"That's right, I'll need you to come with me for questioning."
"Of - of courshe," she nodded, "jusht a moment."

She hadn't intended to bother Ignatius, but the moment he caught wind the man insisted on going. Never good to let Pern get involved with the local militia business. Much as she had been a citizen of Elbion all her life, the prejudice of the military had minimal restraint at times. Especially when they were already buzzed up.

Besides, the presence of a Maester of the Fifth Order was likely the best way to throw them off their flaring tempers.

They arrived well past dark, their path lit by carried torches and braziers. Pern's chest was all in knots thinking of what trouble Scabhair had gotten herself into, wondering if it would finally be the one time they couldn't help her out. What if she was imprisoned for good? Sentenced to death? What had she done? Why was she back? Was she hurt?

The questions continued to reel through her mind as the Guard lead her down the row of cells to the last one at the end, all dark and dreary and cold.

"Shcy? Shcy?" Pern pushed at the torch held up by the Guard, trying to let her orcish eyes adjust to the darkness - something much easier for her to see in. Ignatius stood back behind them, staff in one hand and spectacles flashed beneath the light of the torch.
 

Hath Charosh

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Hath looked up from his bench. There was no emotion in his expression. The light caught a sheen down the swollen side of his face, where blood was dried. The trickle of dark blood from the gash above his eye hadn't even stopped yet. The eye itself was bloodshot, but that had nothing to do with his injuries.

The weak orc, the little voice observed.
"Pern," he said quietly. His deep voice reverberated around the narrow corridor. He silenced the voice and bowed his head. Hath finally allowed himself to feel a touch of shame.

When he had first come to Elbion it had felt like travelling to another world. It had just been the start. Just weeks ago he had travelled to pandemonium itself and nothing had felt quite right since. By contrast the orcish smith who knew nothing of his culture felt familiar.

"Sorry," he mumbled in the common tongue.

Do not apologise for standing your ground, the voice whispered.
 
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Pern

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Golden eyes widened as Hath's figure slowly came into focus through the darkness of the cell. Pern straightened herself, momentarily taken aback. She'd been expecting Scy, not her companion. What was he doing here and ... better yet, what was his name again?

Brows knitted, lips pressed together in a thin line from tusk to tusk, Pern looked him over as best as she was able from the bars of his cell. Not Scy. She did her best to swallow the dual sensation of great relief and sudden deflation. Scy wasn't in trouble.

But what to do about him? The smaller orc shifted her weight from one foot to the other, turning halfway to look back at Ignatius.

"Mmm," the old Mage made a thoughtful sound, looking from Hath and back to the Guard, "yes, we know him. He is a friend."
"What's his business here?" the Guard insisted.
"Well I-" Ignatius started, but was abruptly cut off by Pern.
"He'sh here to shee me," she said, gently clearing her throat, "to ... pick up an order. Bodkinsh an shuch."
"He didn't present an order form," replied the Guard, glowering, "or any missive."
"I suppose he may have lost it," Ignatius gave an easy smile, "this seems terribly brutal for such a simple misunderstanding. Why don't we go discuss this matter in your office, hm? I have a meeting at the Foard very early, very early. I don't mean to be kept here late."

No one wanted to keep a Maester from his business, of course. The Guard conceded, though he didn't look happy about it, and lead the man back down the hall.

Pern watched them go with some concern before turning back to look at Hath, "Are you alright?"
 

Hath Charosh

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Hath's lips formed a smile. With his face caked on blood and with even more of his tusks exposed it looked downright intimidating to any human.

"I am...fine..." he lied. The injuries from the scuffle by the gate were hardly life threatening, but that wasn't everything. He hadn't spoken common for months up until the encounter with the guards. It took him time to put his words together. His ringing ears didn't help.

"I do not...know...any other here. In Elbion." He pointed to Pern and then down at the ground as if that would help with any garbled words.
 
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Pern

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It looked downright intimidating to Pern, but she did her best to maintain composure. Couldn't help her gaze shifting away slightly. The Blacksmith shifted again anxiously, unaccustomed to the overwhelming ambiance of the cellblock. Elbion wasn't a cold place most of the year and even its winters were mild, but this place gave her the chills the likes of which she had no desire to endure longer than need be. She hoped Ignatius would find success in whatever he was meaning to achieve with the Guard.

Pern's lips formed a frown at his response. He didn't look fine. He looked like hell. She nodded anyways, stepping closer and placing a hand on the bars, "Ish ok," she replied, trying to sound reassuring, "what happened?"

Another glance back over her shoulder to make sure there wasn't a Guard within eavesdropping distance. She looked to him again, taking another step forward and placing her other hand on the bars now, trying to get a better look at him, "Why are you here?"
 

Hath Charosh

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"Usual comments from the town guard at the gates. 'Big pig fucker' and the rest. Should have...ignored it. Did not this time. It has been..." Hath stopped and tapped on his thigh as he sought for the word. "...a difficult week."

He snorted, looking left and right at the others in cells. They were mostly asleep. One was a drunk who had been promised a beating in the morning before being let on his way. They had not taken the time to spell out what happened to him. Perhaps as an orc he would not even get a usual punishment. The body of an orc I'm the river would call for no investigation.

"How have you been?" he asked, leaning his head back against the cold, stone wall. There was a trickle of water that actually felt quite pleasant where it touched his neck.
 
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Pern

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Well that was all rather fluent ... in orcish.

Pern blinked, frown visibly deepening, "I am shorry," she replied with a sigh, head tipping forward to lean into the space between two bars, "I do not know your languagshe."

Should she feel ashamed? She wasn't sure.
 
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Hath Charosh

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"Tcchst..." A noise which was essentially the same as 'oh'. Hath hadn't even realised he had slipped back. He scratched as the uninjured - less injured - side of his face.

"Guards rude about orcs. 'Pig fucker'. Punched one...then punched more."

And got a few elbows in as they tried to tackle him. And then it was a bit of a haze as he let the little voice take over. No one had died. No weapons had been drawn.

"How are you?" he asked, pointing back at Pern. There was usually more in the way of hand gestures when meeting an old acquaintance, but she had reminded him very quickly that she was not of his culture.
 
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Pern

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"Oh," she replied, a mild grimace forming somewhere in her face, distorted by the bars she pressed her skull against. It was late, it had been a long day, they hadn't eaten, and she was tired. Though, looking at Hath, she was certain her day hadn't been quite as long as his.

Pern decided not to remark upon his ordeal with the Guards. It was best not to get involved, or to say anything. At least, that's how she felt. It had kept her out of trouble all these years so it must be an appropriate approach.

Her gaze watched the hand that gestured to her, "I am ... " and then it panned around slowly, taking in his surroundings, "not in a jailshell, for shtartersh." A small smile was offered, "and not bleeding. ..." and then she realized he hadn't answered her other question, "...why are you here?"

Had to wonder if it had something to do with Scy. Why else would he be here? Seemed odd he would return on his own, not that he couldn't make those decisions.
 

Hath Charosh

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She was not with blood? So with child? Hath frowned, eyes falling briefly to her waist. His mind was moving slowly but it eventually caught up to the fact that he was both in a cell and bleeding. Hath touched a hand to the split above his eye. His fingers came away with blood. Hath grunted and wiped the blood off on his jerkin.

"Here because I needed...for the portal stone..." Hath wasn't certain how to describe a key for the portal stone. It did not help that almost any item could be turned into a key.

"Stuck here," he said more generally. Did Pern even know about the portal stone several days from Elbiln? He wondered.
 
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Pern

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She lifted her head from the bars, turning to look back at the sound of a door opening and footsteps. Voices.

"Portal shtone?" Pern knew of them, vaguely recalled reading about them during her studies over the years. They'd not been anything of focused work for her, but Portal Stones went hand-in-hand with Rune Magic. She wasn't aware of one being near Elbion, though. The closest she knew of was ... well, not anywhere close. The true news of the Pandemonium crisis had not reached the ears of most citizens here and Pern, like many, was blissfully unaware of the real horrors to have occurred just beyond the realm of her home.

"I have good news and bad news," Ignatius spoke as he made his way down the hall, "the good news is I have secured your release."

That was good news. Pern raised hopeful eyebrows, "And the bad?"

Ignatius sighed deeply as he came to stand next to his daughter, "The Bailiff is gone for the night. Hath will not be released until the morning. I am sorry, I did what I could. I do believe you should be left well enough alone for the rest of the evening. Gold shines the eyes of most."

"Iggy..." her frown returned.

The man offered nothing but a droll smile, turning to gently tap his staff at the bars, "Do you need anything, friend? Food? Water?"
 

Hath Charosh

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Hath watched the old man with a fairly vacant stare. Once again the wheels turned slowly. He didn't understand that Ignatius had put down money on his behalf or had to use his reputation. Hath did understand that he was going to be released in the morning. That was significantly better than all the other things the guard may have chosen for him. The most pleasant of which would have been a mild beating to remind him not to cross the bars.

"Water," he said quietly. Food could wait. Hath stood up and dropped his chin to his chest when he faced Ignatius. He was feeling wretched enough already that he don't have much room to feel guilty about inconveniencing them. Hath could find some way to make it back up to them.

Hath looked down at the floor. He was used to sleeping on the move but there was precious little space in his cell and the floor was covered in the stains of...things that had been here before.

"Portal stones need magic," Hath said to Pern, sitting back down. He leaned back against the wall and decided this was his best chance of rest.
 
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Pern

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"Water then," Ignatius nodded, "I'll see to it. Nilli, meet me outside when you're finished."

Staff tamping with every other step, the Mage took his leave.

She watched him go in silence before turning back to Hath, rough hands returning to the bars and a knowing Smith's gaze taking in the construction of them. She knew how to open this without a key - she'd helped forge and install them years ago. Yet a prison break wasn't really on her repertoire and, so far as she could tell, Hath would be safe here for the evening. Perhaps safer here than anywhere else in Elbion save their own house - a place he'd be welcome but was sorely ill-equipped to keep a guest of his size.

Yellow eyes flickered back to him as he sat down again, speaking of the stones.

"Yesh," a nod, "but I do not know it."

Maybe her father did, though he rarely spoke of the stones and had a curious tendency to dodge the subject when it came up.

"I will be back," she assured him, "firsht light of morning to get you out." The orcess blinked, feeling rather out of her element, "I promish." Her hands gave the bars a light squeeze, as she turned to take her leave she narrowly avoided colliding with the Guard who had returned with a bucket of water. Seemed Iggy didn't think a tankard would quite do for the large orc. Pern paused, looking back to ensure the water was delivered properly much to the Guard's disgust. He unlocked the smaller door at the bottom where they put the prisoner meals through and pushed the bucket in before locking it again.

"Thank you," Pern said to him, and he grumbled and spat and stomped back to his office.
 

Hath Charosh

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Mock the guard, get him to open the gate then take him.

Hath balled his hands into fists at his sides as he watched the guard walk away. Slowly, he let the tension that had bunched up his shoulders melt away. After being dragged through the streets in chains it was hard to ignore that voice.

His gaze returned to Pern and he thumped his fist against his chest.

"Thank you," he said firmly. His eyes flicked down the other end of the corridor, the direction where her master had left.

"Will you be trouble for this?" he asked. They had no firm reason to help him. They were not of his tribe. All he had done before was be a guest of their house. They owed him nothing. The impotent anger cracked and let some concern slip past the wall.
 
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Pern

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The gratitude elicited a kind smile from the she-orc and a mild shrug at the question.

"Ignashush ish known for shtirring up trouble on hish own. We will shee."

Wasn't much the city could really do in any case. What were they going to do, kick out a Maester of the 5th Order for a lowly disagreement between an orc and the guards? The idea was inherently laughable.

"Tomorrow morning," she reaffirmed, turning with a fading smile as she made her exit.

~~~

"I did not agree to this criminal's release, a Captain's signature is not enough to make it official," the Bailiff was in bad spirits when Pern arrived the next morning right at sunup.

"The Captain undershtood that Maeshter Oshriksh intenshunsh were not to caushe shtrife with the Mershant Counshil," she replied slowly, attempting to remember exactly what Ignatius had told her to say in case of issues. He'd foreseen as much - Bailiff Towsend was a codger and a half.

"The Merchant Council would agree with me. Letting him walk free is bad for business."

"Yet evidensh shuggeshtsh that jailing paying cushtomersh would alsho be bad for bush-nesh."

"He didn't have an order missive," Towsend growled.

"He did," Pern insisted, "I wrote it myshelf. The carbon copy ish here, a shizable order paid for jusht over a moon ago," she set the form on the table, "he losht hish copy during the Pandemonium crishish."

"That's a crock of bull," Towsend folded his arms, clearly neglecting a good point.

"That ish a large payment he ish owed product for. Would you like to exshplain to Mashter Gibbshon when he returnsh why one of hish high priority cushtomersh no longer wishesh to do bush-nesh with ush? I would hate to think the shupplier of the Elbion Guard detail weaponsh an armor offended."

Towsend grunted.

Pern held his gaze.

"Fucking orcs, you take him and you tell him any other problems and he can't be paid out of a short drop and swift stop."

"Undershtood, Bailiff, thank you."

Not long later Pern walked down the hall with a disgruntled looking Guard who promptly opened Hath's cell and let him out.

"Good morning," Pern greeted him with a concerned smile, "did you shleep at all?"
 

Hath Charosh

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Hath sighed and tilted his head towards the far end of the corridor. As if on cue a pair of drunken dwarves started up in song once again. If they had been in the next cell and come within arm's reach then Hath probably wouldn't have been allowed out by morning.

"It is fine," he stated. Hath stood as tall as he was permitted within the cell. He rolled his broad shoulders and they were a series of pops and cracks as he pinned them back. There were times when a lone hunter could not afford sleep. Normally he could at least manage some rest. A final glance towards the dwarves could have melted lead, but not - it seemed - their spirits.

The song continued as the key slowly turned in the heavy lock and a loud clunk heralded his freedom. Pern and her master had provided a refuge the last time he had been here. They would have stayed for longer had an assassin from a secretive order of mages tried to kill them. It hadn't even been their fault he had been trying to do so. It had just been a case of mistaken identity.

"Sorry we left fast. Before," Hath said. He was still sore about the boots. He had never seen boots as fine as the one made by the dwarven cobbler who had measured him. Hath had fled before they were made.

As he ducked through the door the guard moved aside, only to fall into Hath's shadow as he stood once more. The lack of sleep apparently meant the angry part of himself was too tired to suggest doing him harm. Hath just smiled at the guard as two more arrived and gave him a gentle shove towards the exit.

Hath was still proud of how many it had taken to drag him down. At the time he had been less enamoured with how many times they had kicked him in the head to make sure he stayed still to be cuffed.

"We go now?" he asked Pern. He was fairly certain that was what was happening but the ways the humans worked was always odd.
 
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Pern

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Pern fumbled, managing an awkwardness at the mild amount of awe taken her as Hath filled the cell block hall.

"Uhhh-er, yesh - follow me," she turned on her heel and lead him out into the slash of golden morning sun coming through between the buildings.

"Ignashush inshishtsh you come to the houshe to eat and tend your woundsh," with luck they were on the move early enough that the streets were not yet busy with Elbion's daily bustle.

"Wash Shcy not with you thish time?"
 

Hath Charosh

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Hath grunted quietly. With a short sharp noise he was able to convey his frustration.

"No. Have not for...since the mountains," he replied. Hath managed to fill the space with a determined silence as they stepped past the guards at the front door. He had to count and then translate into common.

"Four small moons."

A few grumbled insults and Hath could feel that voice starting to rouse. He was quick to collect his belongings from them and duck through the door. He had to raise one arm against the low sun that was directly ahead.
 
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Pern

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Pern did not escape similar criticism, but she had mastered a deaf ear towards such things years ago having grown up here.

Violence is never the answer, Nilli. People say those things because they aren't smart enough to know better. You're privileged, you're smart, and you know much better than they.

Instead she had decided to feel pity for those people. Pity they had not the role model she did. Sometimes it was an effort to think that way, but she tried hard to not let it bother her.

"Oh," she replied as they stepped out into the sun and across the cobbled through-way, "you do not travel together anymore?"
 
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Hath Charosh

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"I hope we do again on another day," Hath gave by way of an answer. Even through his poor grasp of common a touch of regret managed to find its way into his voice. Arethil was a large place and the invasion of demons had set them on different paths. He did hope they might cross again one day.

The road was quiet by Elbion standards but still seemed little a bustle to Hath. He had never appreciate crowds. Already he could feel a nervous frustration finding its home deep in his gut.

There was a dull ache in his shoulder again. He suspected it would be like the wound in his back and always hurt from time to time. The feather of the demon had been made of an obsidian-like glass. Like the arrow in his back it had stuck fast into bone and required a shaman with a strong grip to yank it free as other warriors held him down.

"Still make weapons?" he asked, following her direction.
 
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Pern

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That answer didn't sound particularly reassuring as to the state of Scy's well being. She wanted to press further, ask when he last saw Scy, was she ok?, where was she going when they separated? But the general morose of his expression put her off.

"Yesh," she answered, if not with a hint more pride now. It had been several long months since Hath had been here before and her limitations on her projects had been significantly reduced. Gibbson had injured himself, meaning Pern was left to pick up the slack. Instead he spent his time training Samwen, delivering orders to the docks, and building new client relations. A new role that, in Pern's opinion, suited him well. He was due for retirement and the prospect of taking over the Smithy for herself was an exciting one.

"Weaponsh, armor, shieldsh..." a smile, "shomtimesh shmall thingsh too. Jewelry or toolsh."

"Are you shtill with the Mershenary company?"
 

Hath Charosh

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Hath frowned. It had been so long that he had almost completely forgotten about the mercenary company. It was through them that he had first met Scabhair and then Pern. Once they had left he had never looked back.

"Not since I here...before..."

Hath started piecing together everything that had happened since into a coherent thread. In the savanna there were lessons from the past, but if your focus was not in the now then you would be eaten by one of a hundred dangers.

"We left, fast. Never found them. My human is not so good," Hath apologised. "Then east. Then home."
 
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Pern

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"Oh," Pern replied for what she felt was the tenth time today. Seems Hath and Scy's plans had gone exceptionally awry, starting right in Elbion. The orcess knit her brows and lifted a hand to rub at her neck, "I am shorry, Hath. It shoundsh like you have been through a lot."

They'd crossed into the Merchant District without any issue aside from some very leery gazes from the guards. Pern, at the very least, was a well-known entity around this massive city. Not many orcs to be found her normally, less-so on a permanent basis. They stepped into streets and walkways now filling with the morning bustle, leaving less opportunity to speak. Perhaps a bit of a break was in order, anyway. She imagined having to put as much effort into communicating as Hath was could be tiring.

The residential district gates were next, requiring Pern's Resident Amulet and a signed waiver for Hath's admittance that should the orc cause any trouble at all, it was her neck. She didn't make any effort to explain this to him.

"Are you hungry?" she said as she lead the way up the walk to her home some time later, "Ignashush wash going to make breakfasht."
 

Hath Charosh

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"Blight orcs, gnolls, elves and demons," he confirmed. That did sound like a lot.

Hath not appreciate the bustle of a city at all. It was one thing to gather so many merchants in one place, but another to just have such a crush of people. It did not seem right. This many people in such a small space must have required huge swathes of farmland. To the west of his home the forces of Vel'anir were constantly expanding their farm lands. Savanna ground was turned to desert by desperate attempts to grow crops where they would not hold.

The entire place reeked of humanity too. Which made it almost surprisingly how easily he could turn to his appetite.

"Please," he replied as they reached the house. It brought him a touch of comfort to be somewhere familiar. That knot in his gut managed to unwind a little as they approached the door. Now came the stooping and inevitable back pain.
 
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