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Thread: Akashima Saga: Luxuria

  1. #1
    Maul-Slayer
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    Level completed: 14%,
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    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
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    Ageless (looks 28)
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    Demigod (human)
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    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
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    Akashima Saga: Luxuria

    Out of Character:
    Closed. All bunnying approved. This thread may contain mature content.


    The road ran in a series of growing hills, like a gigantic rounded staircase. After each steep incline it levelled out for a few hundred yards, only to curve upwards again. Every so many miles a weather beaten signpost stood, letters carved and dyed white in the dark brown wood. Joshua Cronen had passed several of the signs, but still read each one as he came to it, a habit for long road trips. Thinking about just reaching that next signpost, the soldier could push himself until he dropped from exhaustion. He was nowhere near that point as he passed the latest sign, legs churning with all the stamina of a steam engine. His hazel eyes flicked across the whitewashed lettering, squinted against the early morning sun that reflected back at him. The same sun poured its rays into his black clothing, transforming the lightweight garments into a personal furnace. One long muscular arm plucked a canteen from his backpack and poured a measured ration of water down his throat. He rolled the words on the signpost around his mind as beads of sweat rolled down his neck.

    ”The Road to Akashima.”

    Josh had visited nearly ever noteworthy location in Corone; from the grand cities of Gisela and Serenti to the woodland village of Underwood. He had fought duels in Radasanth’s archaic Citadel and followed the course of the Firewine River. And yet one city eluded the capacity of his travels. Akashima; land of the Great Crystal Spire. Ever since meeting the ninja Tetsoma Kyosku in a duel at the Citadel, Akashima called to him. It represented not only the missing link in his chain of sojourns across Corone, but also possessed an element of mystery. Everyone he asked spoke wonders about the Martial Artists in Akashima. Where men and women alike trained in the ancient art of unarmed combat, and also with exotic weapons like the nunchaku he carried on the back of his belt. Josh wanted to meet with these legendary warriors; to test his mettle against the best Althanas had to offer. Perhaps equally as appealing were the tales of the Akashiman Autobow. A repeating crossbow that could fire thirty quarrels in a minute. Cronen never bothered to learn the use of crossbows, but chalked that up to their lengthy reload time and single shot capacity. An Autobow, contrastingly, might come in handy.

    Breaker, as many had taken to calling him, paced energetically up the ever rising road. The Road to Akashima would take him to the top of the Comb Mountains. A two day hike, his sources said, to Pagration, the mountaintop town that marked the end of the road. Josh intended to make it by nightfall. The irony that ‘The Road to Akashima’ would only get him halfway there tickled the warrior’s intellect as he trekked up the dusty road. Many such senseless thoughts chased around the inside of his head, like the wind that chased leaves and dust motes across the road. Allowing his mind to wander helped Josh pass the time. Still low on the mountain, vegetation grew thick on both sides of the path. Not the same towering trees that dominated the foliage in Concordia. Mostly thin-trunked cypers, clustered in patches where the ground was more soil than rock. Long grass grew widespread, each blade as tall as a man. The wind teased the tips of the gargantuan grama, creating a sound like soft rain on a slate roof. Somewhere nearby a stream gurgled, probably an offshoot from a river higher up the hill. The burbling reminded Josh constantly of the dry discomfort in his throat.

    “What I wouldn’t give for a hot meal with a jug of fresh water right now...”

    As if the Gods picked that day to cater to his every whim, Breaker crested the next rise and stopped short, staring at a ramshackle village. “This can’t be Pagration,” he thought, and then spotted the town’s welcoming billboard. It looked identical to the many signposts behind him, except for the words whitewashed upon it. A simple name for a simple town.

    “Stalworth eh? Interesting name. I hope they can manage a decent meal.”

    The soldier’s stomach growled as he trudged past the billboard. A couple dozen thatch roofed dwellings surrounded the town’s only two story building. It was also the only Inn, and from the looks of the other establishments, the only place to find hot food. A bell tinkled overhead as Josh pushed through the chestnut door.

    Inside, the temperature dropped several degrees. Dim lighting compared to the blinding noonday sun. As his eyes adjusted Breaker found a table and sat down. The inn’s bar sparkled nearby, freshly polished, made from the same dark stained oak as the door. The single front room tripled as a pub, restaurant and reception area. A couple chesterfields sat around the cold stone fireplace, with a couple old women sitting on them, needles clicking as they knitted abstractly, conversing in hushed tones. Normally Josh would have established himself at the bar, but a group of rough looking Akashimen occupied every stool it offered. They were heavily armed, for travellers in such a remote area, but dust speckled their loose fitting gis, proving that they had been on the road recently. Pretending to examine a menu, Josh peered at them in mild curiosity. Most of them had the traditional katana-wakizashi combination strapped to their backs, with a tanto or two sheathed on their belts. A few longbows poked over burly shoulders, and one man even had a pair of nunchaku cased on his back. They ignored Josh completely, all leaning in to listen to the man at the middle of the pack. Breaker thought about eavesdropping, but at that moment a white haired waiter swept out of the back room, ready to serve him.

    “I’m so sorry for the wait my good sir,” the old fellow bowed, then continued. “Will you be staying with us long? Most of our rooms are vacant, so you’ll have a decent select—“ Josh raised a hand, gently cutting off the well-rehearsed sales pitch.

    “I’ll just be here for about a half hour, thanks,” he said in a friendly tone, gesturing at the backpack hunkered next to his chair. “I’m on my way to Pagration, should make it by nightfall. Just need to re-fuel for the rest of the trip.” The innkeeper nodded knowingly.

    “Very good sir, shall I have one of the stable hands see to your mount? We can supply hay, water, oats, a hot blanket if—” Josh sighed, then cut the man off again, perhaps a little less gently.

    “I don’t have a horse. All I want is some hot food, how about—“
    “But sir, you’ll never make it to Pagration before nightfall on foot—“
    “You let me worry about that, please.” The soldier’s friendly tone became keen and clipped, like a dagger fresh from the whetstone. The innkeeper hesitated for a moment, as if he might protest more, but then decided to pick his battles.

    “Very good sir. What would you like to eat?” Josh smiled, his amicable demeanour back in place.

    “The venison casserole with vegetables sounds fine, and a pitcher of water to go with it. Thank you.”

    The elderly innkeeper took the menu and hastened back to the kitchen, nearly getting trampled by the gang of Akashimen en route. The well-armed travellers rose from their seats simultaneously and moved out the door in single file, the speaker from earlier taking the lead. “Probably just a group of warriors on their way back home,” he figured. All the same, he would be wary on the latter half of his hike to Pagration. No sense letting himself get ambushed by a bunch of wayward samurai. Josh rolled his shoulders, cracked his back and reclined in the chair.

    His order arrived in timely fashion, a steaming plate of sweet smelling meat and dark green salad. Josh took a gulp of water straight from the pitcher, swilling the life giving liquid around in his parched mouth. The greying inkeeper hovered momentarily, hands clasped at his waist.

    "Anything else I can help you with sir?" The man clearly needed more clients to occupy his time. Breaker let his curiosity get the best of him.

    "Who were those men that just left, if you don't mind me asking?" He gulped another mouthful of the clean springwater as the other man leaned close, his voice hushed in conspirational manner.

    "That was Jeb Galatian and his men. The Galatian brothers and their gangs are always stirring up trouble. Be careful of them on the road sir; they're not the type you'd like to mix with." Josh grinned despite himself. It was a long time since he had feared a gang of rabble like Galatian's.

    "Don't worry, I can take care of myself. The Galatians would be well advised to steer clear of me." He winked at the inkeeper and turned to his plate. The white haired man's eyes widened a little at the cryptic statement, but he bowed again and backed away.

    "As you say sir. Enjoy your meal."

    By the hearth, the knitting needles clicked on like frolicking insects.
    Last edited by Breaker; 04-21-08 at 05:42 PM.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  2. #2
    Member
    EXP: 2,380, Level: 2
    Level completed: 13%, EXP required for next level: 2,620
    Level completed: 13%,
    EXP required for next level: 2,620

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    The Sweetest Thing's Avatar

    Name
    Anastacia Alliendra
    Age
    18
    Race
    Nymph
    Gender
    Female
    Hair Color
    Gold with cherry streaks
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    5'5" / 102 lbs.
    Job
    Lady of the Night

    “Thank you again for coming. It’s always such a pleasure to have you, Anastacia.”

    Donna Silter’s voice rang with the clarity of a bell throughout the low ceilinged room. The stout matron of the Luxuria Inn brothel beamed at her young cream-skinned guest. Matron Silter never shed tears at a time of farewell; she preferred to weep with joy when friends arrived, and send them off with a feather in their cap. Even so, behind her broad smile she was sorry to see Anastacia Alliendra go. The young call girl arrived every few months with an armored escort, bringing Donna fresh talented girls from the Sisterhood in Scara Brae. Many of Matron Silter’s girls showed the tendency to run away down the mountain in search of a new life in Akashima. The paths on the sea side of the mountain could be treacherous, and Donna feared the worst for every girl that left, but they made that decision for themselves. The Matron blinked swiftly to clear her tear filled eyes as she clasped hands with the golden haired beauty.

    “It is my pleasure to visit you, Matron Silter. Your hospitality is unparalleled in these trying times.” Barely bridled tears swelled in the corners of Anastacia’s eyes as well. A visit to the mountaintop town of Pagration always felt like a vacation to her. She got to rest in her room at Luxuria and spend endless hours chatting with her close friend. Alas, every visit had to come to an end. The young girl and the middle aged woman squeezed each other’s hands one last time, then linked arms and walked out the saloon-style doors of the two story brothel.

    “Goodbye dear. Don’t forget to write, and come see me again soon.” Matron Silter kissed her young friend on each cheek then watched the girl lift the dainty skirts of her off-white dress to climb up the steps of the two horse carriage. A delegation of four armed guards would escort the carriage. Matron Silter placed a hand over her heart as the door shut gently, barring Stacia from view. She took a moment to grieve the parting, then turned and marched to the front of the carriage. She addressed herself to the leader of the guards, one Captain Edward Samuels. A fine fighter and a good soldier, but men would be men. Sometimes they needed a stern word to keep them on an even keel.

    “Captain Samuels,” she intoned, one eyebrow raised. Samuels removed his conical helmet and made a proper seated bow from the driver’s seat. Donna took a breath then continued. Dealing with men was so much harder when they insisted on being charming. “You should have Anastacia on tomorrow afternoon’s ferry to Scara Brae, I believe?” Her stern tone flared at the end, an upward inflection that made the command sound like a question. Samuels bobbed another half bow. He patted one of the horses on the flank as he spoke.

    “Yes ma’am, Matron. Barring any unforeseen circumstances I’d say she’ll be on that very ferry, and back at the Sisterhood by nightfall.” Samuels scratched the horse as it tossed its head in appreciation. He liked horses, but not nearly so much as he liked the Matron Silter. Stout she might have been, but with a pretty round face and downy raven hair. He tipped her a broad wink and threw in a roguish grin. The Matron’s harsh expression never wavered.

    “Don’t you give me that funny look, Captain. What exactly do you mean by unforeseen circumstances?” She crossed her arms over the breast of her ivy green dress. The Matron liked wearing garments that brought out her eyes, especially when handsome guards were in town. The soldier replaced his conical helmet and gave it a tap for good measure.

    “Oh, you know. Road washouts, sudden storms, highwaymen; anything could happen between here and the port. Never ye’ fear though,” He added hastily at the concerned look that seized the Matron. “Ain’t nothin’ this side o’ Radasanth me an’ my boyos can’t handle.” He threw a casual salute that nearly earned him a blush from Matron Silter. Nearly; she wasn’t an easy one to win over. As usual, she had another worry to voice.

    “What about them Galatian brothers Captain? They’ve been roving the Road to Akashima and hawking on travelers these past few months.” The Matron smoothed her skirts as a healthy breeze sprang up, whirling between the slate roofed buildings of Pagration. A dark look crossed the Captain’s experienced eyes.

    “I told you not to worry Matron, an’ that’s all there is to it. If one o’ them Galatians crosses our path I’ll have no trouble givin’ him the everlasting sleep.” He touched the hilt of the bastard sword on his hip as if to illustrate the point. His blade had tasted more than its fair share of blood, and he had encountered the Galatian brothers before. Nothing he and his men couldn’t handle, to be sure. Donna raised both hands as if to ward of a brawler’s attack.

    “Alright, alright Captain, as ye’ say. No need to get touchy; I never meant to question your skill with that blade.” In truth, the Matron could think of no one she’d rather trust Stacia’s safety to. “Keep in mind Edward,” she added in a gentler tone, “No need for ye’ to wait ‘till the next time the Sisterhood sends ye’ to visit me. You’re always welcome at me inn.” Idle hands smoothed at her skirts again. She wouldn’t blush. She wouldn’t!

    “Kind of ye’ to say Donna,” the Captain’s voice took on a lower, quieter tone. “I’ll be sure to take ye’ up on that as often as me work allows. So long now.” He watched the pleasantly plump Matron glide back into her domicile. His work wouldn’t allow many trips up the mountain, and they both knew it well. A mercenary’s life wasn’t easy, especially for a man who tried to make his living honest. Samuels leaned forward to check the horses’ harnesses. The sun was setting. They needed to leave promptly in order to make it to Stalworth by nightfall. The Captain removed his leather gauntlets and stuck two fingers in his mouth, emitting a piercing whistle. His voice rang loud and proud over the sunset-streaked streets of Pagration.

    “Come on lads, saddle up! Time we headed down the long road!”

    ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

    Anastacia Alliendra climbed into the small carriage. Her slim form fit comfortably on the single bench seat, and she settled the red woolen shawl on her shoulders. The carriage bore a square window that gave her a view, but she battened down the leather flap against the painfully bright sunset. The girl relaxed as best she could; the trip would take several hours, and she had little to do to pass the time. Her fingers fiddled with the edge of her latticework shall, poking through the tiny holes over and over again. She yawned diminutively. Quite suddenly, the door to the coach opened. The youngest of her armed escort poked his head in, a man at least five years her elder. Like the other guards he wore a steel conical cap and a heavy breastplate. A large axe hung from his belt.

    “Just checkin’ t’see if yer’ all righ’ in here, miss Alliendra.” He leered at her openly, squinted eyes fondling the curves of her form fitting dress. Stacia readjusted the folds of her shawl to better cover her bosom.

    “I’m fine thank you, Elliot.” She said with a polite smile. Through the thin walls of the carriage she could hear Captain Samuels and Matron Silter arguing about some fool thing. They always bickered, but Stacia suspected they shared one another’s blankets most nights. She wished they would hurry up and finish their flirtation so that Elliot would leave her alone. The young guard adjusted his helmet and continued to eye her.

    “I like them red streaks in yer’ hair, pretty miss. Nice color, matches yer’ shawl too.” He thumbed his potato shaped nose. Stacia sighed but with an effort, did not roll her eyes. Of course the shawl matched the cherry streaks in her golden hair. Why else would she have worn it? And of course he liked her hair. She never met a man who didn’t, and she had met many a man in her relatively short lifetime.

    “Thank you for the compliment, Elliot. I think I hear the Captain calling you,” She replied, her voice frigid as an arctic winter. Her eyes stabbed at him like chips of blue ice, but the young guard would not be dissuaded.

    “What if’n,” Elliot started, then paused to gather his thoughts and continued. “What if’n I looked twixt yer’ legs pretty miss? D’you wager I’d see the same pretty hair there?” Stacia’s already stiff posture became almost tree-like. She expected such a comment, but it didn’t make the lewd suggestion any more pleasant. She had a comment of her own ready, though.

    “I wager that if’n I looked twixt your legs I wouldn’t see nothin’ but hair.” She sniffed, and looked away, pretending too gaze straight through the fastened leather window flap.

    Elliot’s face contorted in confusion, then rage, but before he could say anything more the Captain’s voice rang out, loud and clear, calling him away. He contented himself with one last fish-eyed look at her shapely calves, then stepped backwards and slammed the door.

    Stacia managed to relax again once the carriage got moving. She let her mind wander for a short while then opened the window flap to watch the sunset. The glowing ball of fire had sunk sufficiently below the giant grass fields that she could observe the colors without squinting. The crimson and oranges of the changing sky washed over her, making her pale dress and skin almost match the shawl. As the last embers of dusk faded into nightfall the rocking of the carriage lulled her to sleep, dreams of seeing her friends at the Sisterhood again welcoming her into unconsciousness.

    ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
    Last edited by The Sweetest Thing; 04-21-08 at 05:56 PM.
    "...when she was born, She had no sky
    And was open; inviting.
    And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her, making the oceans boil with sensation.
    And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky."

  3. #3
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 172,639, Level: 18
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    Level completed: 14%,
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    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

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    Captain Edward Samuels perched gamely on the thin driver’s seat. He rode the pair of soot coloured mares with a stern hand. A mere quarter hour since they departed Pagration, and already the night descended like a vast black blanket. He snapped the reigns, adding a little more jump to the horses’ quick trot. The last fiery fingers of sunlight had faded over the distant horizon, and the slim excuse for a sickle moon wouldn’t be much help. He had wanted to reach Stalworth before full dark, but missed that opportunity in favour of another lengthy conversation with the Matron Silter. A foolish way to waste time, but he lost himself all to easily in those emerald eyes.

    Samuels sat alone in the driver’s seat. His three soldiers rode atop the carriage, back to back to back. They had bolted wooden handles to the solid roof, ensuring that no one fell off even at high speeds. The system was a good one; it meant one man kept watch in each direction. Samuels had set too many ambushes of his own to leave a flank unprotected.

    “Whoa there girls,” he whispered throatily. The horses slowed a touch in response to his experienced voice. Ahead the road curved sharply, the corner made more perilous by the fact that the left hand fringe fell away in a steep downward incline. Thorny bushes and that blasted long grass dwelled all along the slope. The dense vegetation made Samuels grind his molars. Any man with half a brain could hide a small army on that slope. His sharp eyes flicked nervously from the road to the steep bank. Lightning quick, his versatile mind made a tactical decision.

    “High-ho the crossbows! Aim yer’ weapons off the port side boyos, looks like ambush potential thereabouts. Elliot, up from the back and watch the starboard side ‘till we’re around this bend.”

    He heard the click of crossbows being set amidst the shuffling and good-natured ribbing as his soldiers adjusted their position. His men thought him paranoid, and Samuels knew it well. Paranoia was something he could deal with; death was not. He took one hand from the reigns and eased his broadsword in its scabbard. Sooner safe than sorry.

    The flash of lethal steel lit up his peripheral vision. Samuels swung his head around. The bastards. He recognized the long curved blades of a Galatian crew immediately. The honourless ronin had laid their trap well. They picked a location where they knew he would be watching the left side of the road, and attacked from the right. A torch sparked to life amidst the charging samurai. Samuels knew what would happen next.

    “Bail out boys!” He roared, his voice echoing in the night air, “Up yer’ guard and out yer’ weapons! We’re under attack!” A series of harsh thuds followed as his soldiers leapt to the ground. The horses spooked, reared and whinnied as fire flashed close to their eyes. Just as Samuels finished counting the ambushers one of them died. A heavy hoof crumpled his skull like a paper lantern. The familiar battle lust seized Samuels as he drew his bastard sword and jumped straight into the heart of the enemy, roaring a battle cry.

    “Aaarhoo! It’s five on four now Galatian, I’ll take them odds any day with the likes o’ you! Aaarhoo!”

    His heavy breastplate and conical helmet kept him safe in the initial charge, but a horrendous sound reached his ears that hurt more than a blade through the belly. The scream of his mares coupled with the sickening sound of the carriage careening wildly off the road. The damned horses were supposed to stop when he dropped the reigns! The coach tipped onto its side and slid down the incline, flattening grass like an ill conceived piece of farm equipment. Thank the Thaynes it didn’t roll. The precious cargo probably wouldn’t suffer any grievous injuries. Unless Galatian’s men got to her first. Wielding his weapon like a drummer’s baton, Samuels filled his lungs and gave vent to another vicious cry.

    “Aaarhoo! ‘Git yerselves after that carriage boys! Protect the cargo or I’ll carve yer’ kidneys to adorn yer’ caskets!”

    Facing three men at a time, the Captain battled like a beast from the legends of old. Sweat stung his eyes and a long gash laid his sword arm open to the bone. With a roar he dropped the heavy blade and drew his dagger left-handed. He backed up and circled, parried and dodged, breath coming in heavy pants as he fought to stay alive. The Galatian brother and one of his ronin had disappeared down the slope in the wake of Samuels’ soldiers. He faked a thrust then spat in a tattooed raider’s face, kicked him hard in the groin. The man went down momentarily but his friends protected to him, their wicked blades flashing through figure eight patterns in the pale moonlight. Samuels knew combat inside out. He had no chance against the long curved samurai swords with only his trusted dagger. Again his experienced mind snapped out an order, commanding his body as though it were a young soldier. He lunged and pretended to stumble, circling to put his enemies’ backs to the slope where the carriage had disappeared. A silent prayer reached out from his tired mind, for the protection of Anastacia Alliendra. Then with the wild cry of a warrior born, he rushed forwards and threw himself into his opponents. Cries of pain and surprise pierced the night as all four men crashed down the slope, brambled bushes yielding to their heavily rolling bodies.

    ---+---+---

    Josh paid his tab, stood up and stretched, leaving an empty plate and jug behind. He had stayed longer than he intended. Much longer. The cool, clean interior of Stalworth’s only inn had grown on him rapidly. The quiet clicking of knitting needles played like a symphony to his ears, but he exited the establishment, keen to be on his way. The shadows grew long as he left the town, trudging stoically up and up along the Road to Akashima. He heeded the innkeeper’s advice, his senses on high alert. But all he heard was the whisper of the wind as it sifted the long grass and the song of the river somewhere nearby. It sounded louder than before. Perhaps a wider branch of the brook ran past that section of the road. In the fading sunlight Josh saw a signpost ahead. The Road to Akashima, it read. He increased his pace, knowing he would not reach Pagration until the night had aged considerably. He only hoped to find an inn at whatever late hour he arrived.
    Last edited by Breaker; 04-21-08 at 06:05 PM.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  4. #4
    Member
    EXP: 2,380, Level: 2
    Level completed: 13%, EXP required for next level: 2,620
    Level completed: 13%,
    EXP required for next level: 2,620

    AP
    5
    GP
    635
    The Sweetest Thing's Avatar

    Name
    Anastacia Alliendra
    Age
    18
    Race
    Nymph
    Gender
    Female
    Hair Color
    Gold with cherry streaks
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    5'5" / 102 lbs.
    Job
    Lady of the Night

    Stacia’s eyes flickered open. Something had woken her, but she couldn’t say what. She stretched and rubbed her neck, delicate fingers working out a kink that had crept in while she slept. A strong slipstream drove through the open window, giving flight to her highlighted hair. That must have been it, she thought. The wind woke her up. She battened the leather covering and took off her shawl, bunching it behind her neck as a makeshift pillow. Pale eyelids drooped over her soft blue eyes and her breathing developed a rhythm in time with the rocking of the carriage. She wanted to return to the dream she had been having. Return to the fantasy vision of a life where she didn’t have to meet a new man several times a week.

    Halfway back into the world of dreams, she heard the Captain’s bellowing voice. Surprised, she sat up. He yelled again, even louder this time. She couldn’t make out the words above the whirring of the coach’s wheels. Pressing herself against the wall to avoid the slipstream of air, she reached out a tentative hand to release the leather flap.

    An arrow split the leather covering, missed her hand by inches and clattered off the wall. An involuntary scream of surprise cleaved her mouth. She threw herself to the floor, heart pounding like a military drum. Wedged beneath the bench, her panicked mind arrived at the only logical conclusion; they were under attack. More shouting came through the semi-open window, and the horrible screaming of horses joined the crescendo. Unimaginable figures of nightmarish horror invaded the girl’s mind, a million menacing faces of goblins and ghouls come to get her. Finally she found her voice amidst the hysterical hyperventilation. It sounded strangely shrill and abnormally lucid, squashed beneath the insane noises that dominated the night outside.

    “Captain Samuels what’s going on? What’s happening what’s ha—aah!” A second wail replaced the words as her world tilted sideways. She felt the carriage land on its side and begin to slide—too fast! Down and down she went, back aching from the impact of the initial fall. She could hear the horses screaming in fear as their hooves failed to gain purchase on the slick ground. The same fear seized her and she began to shake, not completely certain where she was. Then the terrifying motion ended in a sudden soft landing. Silence surrounded her. The horses had stopped their horrific screaming. Even though she knew they were probably dead, the hush comforted her pulsating heart. She breathed, using the relaxation techniques taught to her at the Sisterhood. It worked, a little. Cautiously she got to her feet, crouching on the wall of the carriage. It rested on its side, the split window just above her tucked head. Like a surgeon parting an incision she pulled the torn flap open and poked her head out.

    At first, all she could see was the forest of long grass and prickle bushes the cart had ploughed through. They had already sprung back upright, healthy plant life for such an altitude. Then her eyes roved to her more immediate surroundings. The horses were unconscious, or dead, already sinking into the swamp. Somewhere even farther from the road she heard a river running, but the low land the carriage had fallen to housed a murky marsh. With a gasp of horror Stacia realized the coach was sinking too. Already a quarter of its width was beneath the surface. She scrambled onto the side, slim form fitting easily through the square window. Her legs shook too much to support her weight, and she crumpled in a quivering heap, leaking eyes begging the shore to come closer. At least six yards separated her from solid ground, and she did not think she could swim through the suctioning mud.

    The sound of wild whooping war cries tore her focus from the immediate peril. Down the slope they raced, spears held high. Breastplates and conical caps glistened in the starlight. Her rescuers! Not the Captain, she realized in dismay, but thankfully not Elliot either. The other two guards. Their names eluded her ravaged mind. The young men halted at the edge of the marsh, calling instructions to her. Stacia’s heart soared with their rising voices.

    “Don’t worry, Miss, we’re here. You’ll be fine, just fine!”
    “There’s a nice big rock not far from you Miss, jump to that! If you get a little closer you’ll be able to reach my spear!”
    “Easy does it Miss; no need to fear.”

    Their calm, encouraging voices injected life into the girl’s weakened limbs. She took a few steadying breaths then leapt to the friendly rock that stuck up from the marsh. She landed hard and collapsed. One of the guards extended the haft of his long spear while the other held his belt for support. But as Stacia climbed to her knees she looked past the faces of her rescuers at two ghastly apparitions.

    “Look out!”

    It came out a whisper rather than a scream, but they heard her just the same. The spearmen turned together to face the kimono-clad ambushers that flowed down the hill like a pair of hunting panthers.

    “Fight them,” Stacia whispered to herself, hands clasped over top of her mouth like a piecemeal patch. “Please, fight them... fight them...”

    The guards shifted back and forth, their heels slopping in the sink pit. Their spears moved like the wings of dragonflies, blurring in defence then stabbing at vital areas. But the overwhelming speed and skill of the Akashimen battered the polearms aside. The larger attacker seemed to be toying with his prey, the curved katana inflicting cut after cut on the helpless guard. The smaller Akashiman wielded two hinged weapons with deadly precision, battering aside his opponent’s spear and dealing blunt, unanswered blows to the less experienced fighter’s head and body.

    “Don’t die,” Stacia’s delirious mumbling took on a darker tone. “Don’t leave me alone,” she cried to herself, “Don’t leave me alone with them...”

    Almost simultaneously the two guards fell into the swamp, bleeding and broken, dead as the horses. The young girl’s mutters devolved into soft sobbing. The two black clothed ronin seemed to be talking, but she couldn’t hear. The world had taken on a strange serenity. Then, a thunderous roar shattered the silence.

    “Aaarhoo!”

    Captain Edward Samuels rose from the long grass like a mountain lion, his thick frame sailing through the air. Blood stained his face and body but he locked all four limbs around the smaller Akashiman, his trusted dagger going into the man’s throat like a single ravenous tooth. Before Stacia could cry out in joy, the spirit was snuffed out. Samuels’ haggard face looked almost peaceful as the last samurai ran him through, the wicked katana impaling Samuels up to the hilt. With long practiced ease the black clad murderer withdrew his weapon and slammed it into the sheath on his back. Like a statue beaten by the weather for a little too long, Samuels fell into the swamp to join his men.

    “What a waste,” the samurai’s thin voice traveled to Stacia’s ears. She tried to stay silent as she watched him from the rock in the swamp. “Lost my men,” the murderer muttered, “Lost the carriage, lost every-bloody-thing—“

    The miniature boulder made a noise like a meat mallet when it struck his skull. It was as if the strings had suddenly been removed from a marionette. The samurai crumpled in a heap. Stacia looked on, confused. She stood up for a better angle, and then Elliot stepped out of the long grass.

    Dirt decorated his face and he axe no longer adorned his belt, but he looked unhurt. He scurried to the swamp’s edge like a rat and snatched up one of the spears. Haft first, he reached it out towards her.

    “Here, Anastacia. Grab that and I’ll pull you in.”

    Stacia never thought she could have been glad to see him. She gripped the coarse wood and jumped. Elliot heaved on the spear and she tumbled like a falcon with a broken wing, crashing straight into him. She opened her mouth to whisper a thousand thanks but the air rushed from her lungs as he slammed her to the hard earth. He rolled on top of her, pinning her down, large hands choking her and tearing at her hair. She fought like a wildcat, teeth gnashing, nails slashing, but he controlled her wrists and forced her legs apart with one knee.

    “Elliot, no! Please, please don’t, please...”
    “Stow it, ye’ dirty doxy. Ye’ think ye’ can mock me, when you live at the damned whorehouse? I’ll show you... ouch!” He leaned too close and she caught a chunk of his neck between clamping teeth. Gasping in pain, the young man rolled away. He rose to his feet, face red in rage, but stopped his furious assault, staring dumbstruck at the girl’s tearstained face.

    Stacia knelt before him, lower lip trembling as she gently slid the shoulders of her dress down to her waist. Elliot’s pupils soaked up her soft, cream colored flesh. His jaw slackened as the girl worked her charms, running an ivory hand up her bare stomach to stroke her stroke her petite breasts. The barren moonlight gave her skin a Goddess’ glow, and she swayed towards the awed guard. Slowly, she ran an experienced hand up the inside of his thigh, over the hardening mound in his pants to undo the button that kept the trousers closed.

    “Elliot...” she hissed. The shimmering sapphire eyes went from a light lapis to darkened azure in less than a second. Her free hand seized Captain Samuels’ fallen dagger and plunged it upwards, keen blade opening Elliot’s femoral artery. Stacia scrambled away from the blood spatter as her attacker died, twitching and wailing as his life force drained into the swamp. With fresh tears running down well-worn paths she picked up a spear and prodded the boy’s corpse into the marsh. The ground struck her bottom, and she realized she had fallen down. Legs curled against her chest, she rocked back and forth until the last of her security detail sank from sight.

    Perhaps minutes, perhaps hours later, she rose and walked like a zombie into the long grass. Most coherent thought eluded her, but the image of Luxuria swam in her mind. She had to get back. Matron Silter would put everything right for her. The remnants of her ragged dress snared on brambles as she half-crawled up the slippery incline. She didn’t want to think about the events of that night; all she desired was to find herself in a soft bed and sleep for eternity.
    Last edited by The Sweetest Thing; 04-21-08 at 06:19 PM.
    "...when she was born, She had no sky
    And was open; inviting.
    And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her, making the oceans boil with sensation.
    And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky."

  5. #5
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 172,639, Level: 18
    Level completed: 14%, EXP required for next level: 16,361
    Level completed: 14%,
    EXP required for next level: 16,361

    AP
    62
    GP
    16,175
    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

    View Profile
    The waving moon shadows of the long grass played tricks, even to eyes as sharp as Josh’s. At first glance, the shape seemed to be a bump in the road. But as the soldier paced closer, the dark patch took on the shape of a body. He approached cautiously and circled the corpse, examining it from every angle before stepping closer. It was one of the Akashimen from the inn at Stalworth. A katana lay abandoned at the dead samurai’s side, but not a single laceration showed on his fallen form. The man’s skull was dented badly, the result of extreme blunt force trauma.

    “It would have taken pretty massive strength to crumple bone like that.”

    Breaker knew a fair amount about blunt force trauma. A nunchaku could have dealt the damage, or even a sword hilt if swung hard enough. It seemed like an odd way to kill a man, though. Needlessly difficult.

    “This was probably just a falling out among thieves. One less dangerous bastard roving the planet, I say. Still, can’t have trash like this cluttering up the road.”

    He gripped the collar of the corpse’s gi and tossed it one-handed into the underbrush. It slid a bit, crackled through a few bramble bushes then came to a rest. Dusting his hands with an exaggerated motion, Josh turned to continue up the mountain. A sound from the foliage stalled him. He listened, sniffed the air, senses on high alert, anticipating an attack. Nothing happened.

    “I must have scared some poor animal with that ugly bastard. Oh well, if it’s a carnivore they can get a decent meal out of him.”

    Enjoying the gentle breeze, Josh resumed his fast paced hike up the road. He liked walking at night. The stars and the moon kept him company, the wind and river singing a song for him to march in time with. A peaceful night; a good night to climb a mountain.

    ---+---+---

    Some time close to midnight, Breaker arrived in Pagration. His legs ached slightly from the uphill climb, the sign of a good workout. He barely noticed the stinging muscles, however, for his eyes kept trying to close on him. He had been awake for nearly an entire day, and the weight of the time dragged at his eyelids.

    Pagration appealed to him much more than the smaller Stalworth. A neat grid of hard packed dirt roads squared the mountain top town away, despite the bizarre, random changes in level that came from the solid bedrock beneath the soil. Similar to the smaller town most of the buildings stood only a story high, but there were more than a handful of them. Breaker gravitated towards the few taller structures near the middle of the town. In his experience, inns tended to command the size advantage. True to his theory he soon found himself staring at two nearly identical slate-roofed hotels. The soldier paused for a moment, looking them both up and down.

    “The Luxuria Inn or the Mountaintop Lodge. Hmm. What a decision.”

    They had the same dimensions, and smoke billowed from both chimneys. The Mountaintop Lodge was closer. A yawn cracked his jaws as he heaved the heavy oaken door open. A merry fire crackled in the hearth, an upright piano covered in dust in the corner beyond. Two boozers reclined in easy chairs, warming their feet by the flames and smoking long stemmed pipes. Straight ahead stood the reception desk, an empty doorframe leading to a staircase not far behind it. Off to the left mahogany chairs clustered around a group of matching tables. A thin bar stretched behind them, a lonely drunk staring into his beverage occupied one of the cylindrical stools. Josh trudged to the reception desk and tapped the tiny silver bell upon it. A musical chime sounded, and the innkeeper came trotting down the staircase. Josh blinked in surprise.

    The man reminded him of an Ai’Bron monk by appearance alone. Of Akashiman descent with a bald pate, he wore a flowing kimono that looked similar to the robes of the monks. The corners of his eyes creased as he smiled broadly and spoke in a thick accent Josh had never heard before.

    “Hewwo suh. Can I hope you make wodge here tonight pwease?” The innkeeper pressed his palms together as if praying and bowed so low he nearly smacked his head on the counter.

    Josh stared. Too tired to decipher what the strange man had just asked him, he took a deep breath and tried to speak slowly, annunciating every syllable.

    “I’ll take a single room, just for one night please.” He held up one finger to illustrate a single room, then the same finger again for the number of nights. The innkeeper raised an eyebrow quizzically, then seemed to suddenly understand. As if the information took a couple seconds to seep past the language barrier.

    “Ah yes. Singow woom, one night, vewwy good fo’ you suh. Can I intwest you in a sweeping ewixir, suh?”

    Josh handed over some gold and received a key with the number ‘22’ engraved on it. He rolled the key over and over on a wide palm as he disentangled the question from the Akashiman’s bizarre accent.

    “Did he just ask if I wanted my room swept? What’s ewixir? Wait... a sleeping elixir. Hmm. Can’t say I’ve ever had one of those before.”

    Breaker considered the elixir for a moment, then held both palms up in a placating gesture.

    “Err, no thank you. I’m already pretty tired. I’d rather just get some sleep...” The innkeeper nodded energetically, his smile broadening.

    “Ah yes suh. Vewwy good to get some sweep fo’ you. You have eyes of dead howse suh. Fowwow me pwease.” The Akashiman turned and trotted over to the bar. Josh stared for a moment then followed, protesting his case.

    "Look, I don't want your elixir, I--"
    "Ah yes suh, this ewixir of vewwy good sweep. You want good sweep yes suh?"
    "No, I don't want your good sleep elixir!"
    "Ah yes suh, I unduhstand." The Akashiman rummaged behind the counter, obviously looking for something. Josh massaged his temples.

    “Does he think I just agreed to buy a sleeping elixir? Damn... well, if it will get him to leave me alone I may as well try it out. I could use a solid eight hours.”

    The innkeeper produced a small bottle of lime green liquid from behind the bar. It was corked and sealed with wax, the writing on the label in a foreign dialect. Or else just really messy, Josh couldn’t be sure. More gold exchanged hands, and he received the strange bottle.

    “Vewwy good ewixir fo’ you now suh. You dwink ho’ bottow and nevow have bad dweams. Yo’ woom at top of staiws, have good night suh!” The Akashiman turned and opened a door built into the shelves behind the bar, disappearing through it. Confused yet relieved, Josh turned towards the stairs and collided with the bar’s only other customer. The drunk had stood up at the wrong time and staggered wildly, a string of incoherent curses pouring from his mouth. He righted himself amid a flurry of wild black hair and came at Josh with both fists flying.

    “Ye’ bloody whippersnapper, I’ll flay ye’ fer’ shoulderin’ me like ‘dat!” The man’s shout was more of a whisper, his throat dried raw by cheap booze. Josh groaned. At times he welcomed bar fights to spice up a boring night, but that night he just wanted to get to bed. He stiff armed the drunk in the chest, stopped him in his tracks and stomped on his foot. The grizzled man was still hopping about like a lame stork when Josh passed through the empty doorframe and headed up the stairs.

    Room twenty two had everything Breaker had come to expect from the standard Coronian inn. A single bed, a nightstand, a folding chair and a cracked wardrobe. Face stretching in another great yawn, he dropped his backpack on the chair then stripped to his underwear. Broke the seal on the small bottle and drank deeply. The liquid tasted like lime juice, and he lay down wondering if the innkeeper had ripped him off.

    “No matter if he did... I’ll be asleep so fast I’ll never know the difference.”

    ---+---+---

    Smoke twirled from the pipes of the two men by the fireplace. A pair of half empty glasses dotted the small table between their chairs. They had been drinking most of the night, relaxing with easy conversation and nothing better to do. When the broad shouldered stranger’s footsteps faded from the staircase, the taller of the two men nudged his friend.

    “You see that there? Methinks that mountain of a man were Breaker Cronen, the Pagoda warrior.” The taller smoker had close cropped dirty blond hair and a beard to match, with watery blue eyes. Premature lines creased his face, a testament to the fact that he spent long hours outdoors. His partner’s face was equally weather-beaten, but covered by shaggy black hair that spilled to his ears, as well as a thick moustache and full beard. A little shorter and a little rounder, he wore the same black kimono as his taller friend.

    “O’ course it were him, ye’ nitwit. Didn’t ye’ see ‘is scar? Just like a ‘Y’ it were, on ‘is cheek. Can’t be too many huge boyos wid’ scars like that walkin’ around.” The dark haired man’s voice sounded low and rough, like a saw biting deep into an oak. He clamped the pipe between his molars and exhaled a long stream of smoke into the flames of the fire.

    “He didn’ look too tough t’me,” the blond man chortled, “I betcha’ I could ‘ave ‘im. Or if not me,” he added as his companion laughed, “then fer’ sure Vince Galatian could. ‘Aint none better wid’ the long blade than ‘im.” He leaned forward and spat into the fire pit then reclined anew, sipping one of the drinks from the table.

    “O’ course Vince could ‘ave ‘im any day o’ the week, stone brains. Not you though, yer’ too fat an’ slow.” Both men guffawed and puffed away. It took the blond a few seconds to think up a decent comeback.

    “I’d knock yer’ teeth into yer’ brainstem if’n it weren’ made outta’ solid oak, y’bastard!”

    The rough men roared with laughter, drummed their heels on the floor, knocked their glasses together and drank deeply. The night was still young, as far as they were concerned.

    Sitting in the corner, the upright piano judged them silently.
    Last edited by Breaker; 04-22-08 at 03:31 AM.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  6. #6
    Member
    EXP: 2,380, Level: 2
    Level completed: 13%, EXP required for next level: 2,620
    Level completed: 13%,
    EXP required for next level: 2,620

    AP
    5
    GP
    635
    The Sweetest Thing's Avatar

    Name
    Anastacia Alliendra
    Age
    18
    Race
    Nymph
    Gender
    Female
    Hair Color
    Gold with cherry streaks
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    5'5" / 102 lbs.
    Job
    Lady of the Night

    The road beneath her aching feet suddenly levelled out. Stacia’s next step missed the ground altogether. She overbalanced and fell to the ground, a whoosh of rushing air the only sound her exhausted lungs could produce. Opening eyes she hadn’t realized were closed, Stacia drank in the welcome sight. Pagration! She made it. Beneath the dark blanket of stars the girl dragged herself to the nearest building and pulled herself upright against the wall. Luxuria was only a half block away. She would get there; she knew she could.

    All succinct grace gone, she staggered down the deserted dirt road. The double hinged saloon doors of the Luxuria Inn beckoned her with visions of a friendly face and a soft bed. Lantern light danced behind those marvellous doors. One foot after the other the shell-shocked young woman slid along the Inn’s long front wall, then collapsed through the swinging doors.

    “Mercy marry me this night! Stacia child, what happened to you?” Matron Silter bustled around the counter like a noble dragon, still wearing her long ivy dress. Her strong arms pulled the tattered girl to her feet and half carried her to a bench by the far wall. Stacia sat gratefully, her head lolling against the wall as the Matron fetched a jug of water. Returning swiftly she gave Stacia a small drink. The golden haired girl choked at first but then got some of it down. Matron Silter waited until the haggard breathing returned to normal, but could not contain her curiosity.

    “Anastacia, what happened to you? Where are the guards... where is Captain Samuels?” Stacia opened her mouth but only a dry sob came out. She covered her face with bramble-scratched hands and wept openly onto the Matron’s shoulder. Donna Silter knew then what had happened; the girl’s azure eyes had said all she could not. The Matron sent out a silent prayer for the soul of the guards as she hugged Stacia fiercely against her. Donna would shed her own tears later. For the moment, she needed to care for her young friend. She stayed there until Stacia had cried herself out, then straightened up and gripped the girl by the shoulders, gazing into her tear streaked face.

    “You just stay here now child. I’ll run to fix up a room for ye’, and then ye’ can get some rest, with a nice hot meal ready soon as ye’ wake up. Alright then darlin’?” Stacia could only nod and smile her thanks through still leaking eyes. The Matron turned and bustled around the corner to find an empty room.

    Stacia leaned against the firm wall and closed her eyes, then opened them again. Every time she tried to rest the tired blue orbs she relived the vision of Captain Samuels falling into the swamp, or else the horror of Elliot writhing in a growing pool of his own blood. She swallowed hard, then tipped some water from the jug into her cupped hand. She tried to wash the tears and dirt from her face, wanting to scour away the night’s ordeal.

    The saloon-style doors swung open suddenly, and two men staggered in, roaring with laughter and drunk to high heaven. The taller one wore his hair and beard short, an unattractive dirty blond. The shorter had squinty eyes and thick, greasy black hair that covered his head and face. They didn’t notice Stacia at first, leaning on each other as they rollicked around the room, bawling in obscene voices.

    “Matron Silter! Where are ye’ at, me sweet doxy queen? We’ve got hard, proper honest earned gold t’pay ye’ with!” The shorter man leaned on the counter which creaked under his weight. Not to be outdone, his blond friend called in an even louder voice.

    “Aye, gold earned wid’ the sweat o’ our brows, for ye’ and yer’ young pretties! Where are ye’ Matron? I’m in the mood for a—oi mate, what’s that over there?” His rolling eyes had finally landed on the cream skinned ragamuffin in the corner. The heavy dark man shifted his weight to his feet and they stalked towards her, shoulder to shoulder. The shorter man’s voice carried a menacing edge as he answered the question.

    “I’d say what’s over there is a freebie fer’ the two o’ us, if’n we gets her outside quick enough!”

    The sight of the two drunken men advancing upon her proved too much for Anastacia. She bolted towards the rear exit, hoping to reach Matron Silter, but they scrambled quickly and barred her escape, leering through their beards with teeth the color of autumn leaves. Legs shaking, Stacia turned away and ran for the saloon doors at the front of the brothel, the two men hot on her tail like the hounds of hell.
    "...when she was born, She had no sky
    And was open; inviting.
    And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her, making the oceans boil with sensation.
    And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky."

  7. #7
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 172,639, Level: 18
    Level completed: 14%, EXP required for next level: 16,361
    Level completed: 14%,
    EXP required for next level: 16,361

    AP
    62
    GP
    16,175
    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

    View Profile
    “Dear God: What the hell was in that elixir?”

    Josh’s whole body felt like an active telegraph wire. His feet tapped a quickstep tune on the baseboard of the bed, his eyes flickering rapidly as he tried to keep them shut. Energy coursed through his body. Whatever the lime green liquid had been, it certainly wasn’t a sleeping elixir. Something closer to pure adrenaline. After lying stubbornly on the bed for half an hour Breaker could take it no more. He rolled to the floor and began performing plyometric push-ups like a jackhammer. The rigorous exercise took some of the edge off, but he still felt like a caffeine junkie coming off a binge.

    “All that damn noise doesn’t help either.”

    The two men by the hearth caroused the entire time, their roaring laughter and pounding boots easily perceived by Josh’s superhuman senses. He switched to handstand push-ups, lifting his entire frame vertically time after time. After a time his arms burned, but by that point adrenaline flowed thick in his veins from the effort. Breathing heavily he sat down on the bed and massaged his temples. The noise from below stopped, and he was exhausted. But whatever the Akashiman innkeeper had given him would not let him sleep.

    “I should know better than to try foreign potions. Maybe if I head down to the bar I can buy enough whisky to knock me out.” The soldier dressed rapidly, locked his door and descended the staircase.

    The common room was empty except for the solitary drunk, slumped forward on his barstool. Josh rang the silver bell at the reception counter and seated himself at the bar before the chime faded. He waited a few minutes, but the innkeeper didn’t show. The flames in the hearth popped and crackled.

    “Bar’s closed fer’ the night,” the drunk said, without lifting his head from the counter. His tone was genial, friendly even. Josh had witnessed rapid attitude changes in drunkards before.

    “But you’ve still got half a drink there,” the soldier observed. Slowly, the alcoholic at the other end of the bar looked up at him.

    “That’s cuz’ I knows to save it, smart boy,” the drunk remarked, and then let his skull flop back to the wooden counter. Josh placed the heels of his palms over his eyes and pushed, inhaling sharply.

    “Just great. I’ve been up for twenty four hours, my veins are filled with some anti-sleep elixir, and now I can’t get a drink.”

    “If y’can’t sleep, try the brothel next door. Them purdy ladies’ll put’choo right...” The alcoholic’s sleepy voice wafted across the room, becoming snores as he passed out over his drink.

    Breaker blinked. “I’ve never actually been to a brothel before...” He wasn’t the type who ordinarily needed to pay women to sleep with him. In a sense, he always regarded prostitution with a mild distaste. “That old booze hound might be right. A little fun with one of the girls next door could help me relax.” He still hesitated, mostly out of surprise that the Luxuria Inn was a whorehouse. For a moment he imagined the awkward scenario that would have unfolded if he had chosen the Luxuria over the Mountaintop Lodge earlier that night. “Probably everything would have seemed normal until I got to my room and found it wasn’t empty.” The soldier slid off the stool and exited the building. “What the hell. I’m on my way to a new place; may as well try new things.”

    Breaker walked through the cool night air, zeroed in on the saloon style doors of the Luxuria Inn. He liked those types of doors. Every time he entered an establishment with the dual-hinged portals, he imagined himself in an old western movie, a six shooter on each hip. “D’you feel lucky punk?” He asked himself, reaching for the doors. “Well, do ya?” A little harder than necessary, he pushed both doors open.

    Something seemed odd. Both the gates swung open, but the right hand one opened slower, felt heavier. Someone had been standing in front of the door. He saw a flurry of motion from the corner of his eye and heard a muffled crash as the unfortunate struck the wall. Most of his attention, however, was focused upon the two muscular men charging straight at him.

    Breaker reacted without really thinking. Years of combat training and experience had taught him many rules. One was to always be ready. Another was to retaliate before the enemy had a chance to attack. He stepped into Luxuria and grabbed the first man by the collar, pivoted right and used a hip toss to chuck the blond man into the middle of the street. He taller of the attackers landed at an awkward angle and lay still. The shorter dark haired gangbanger roared aloud and pulled his fist back for a wild haymaker. Josh kept right on turning, pivoted a second time and caught the baboon-like man with a snap kick to the gut. The man doubled over, gasping for air. One of Josh’s favourite rules of combat was to not give his opponents an inch. He grabbed the helpless man’s belt and threw him after his partner. The stocky fellow flew out of the inn, taking both the swinging doors with him. A few splinters landed on the floor. Breaker peered after his downed opponents. Neither of them moved, although both appeared to be breathing. “Two men, three moves, two seconds. Not bad.”

    “Mercy! What in the palm of the Thayne have you done to my inn, you brute?” Josh whirled, hands coming up in a defensive position. He felt like an idiot when he realized the horrendous voice came from the Matron of the brothel. Hastily he lowered his hands and opened his mouth to apologize, but the stout raven haired woman cut him off.

    “You’ll pay for those doors, you wretch, and consider yourself lucky I don’t bring the sheriff down on you--”
    “There’s no lawmen in this town,” Josh cut her off. He was guessing, but thought he detected the lie in her vioce. The short battle had caused an adrenaline dump that left him feeling sleepy, at last. He wanted to get back to his room. “And it wasn’t me who broke your doors; it was those two louts sleeping in the middle of the road.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Take what you’re owed from their wallets. If they haven’t got enough, look me up in the morning. I’m in room twenty two at the Mountaintop, next door.” The Matron seemed stunned by his casual arrogance and the quickness of his words. She nodded, mouth slightly agape.

    Breaker about-faced and walked through the empty doorway. As he left he noticed the girl slumped in the corner of the room. “She must have been the one in front of the door. Stupid place to stand.” The golden haired whore might have been pretty, if she didn’t look like a speedboat had dragged her through a marsh all night. “If that’s what their talent looks like, I’d prefer not to get to know any of those girls.”

    He trekked back up the stairs of the Mountaintop Lodge, locked his door behind him and undressed. Flopped into bed, his eyes already closing. An amused thought floated through his mind as he finally fell asleep.

    “I guess some nights a fight can be better than sex.”
    Last edited by Breaker; 04-16-08 at 09:48 PM.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  8. #8
    Member
    EXP: 2,380, Level: 2
    Level completed: 13%, EXP required for next level: 2,620
    Level completed: 13%,
    EXP required for next level: 2,620

    AP
    5
    GP
    635
    The Sweetest Thing's Avatar

    Name
    Anastacia Alliendra
    Age
    18
    Race
    Nymph
    Gender
    Female
    Hair Color
    Gold with cherry streaks
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    5'5" / 102 lbs.
    Job
    Lady of the Night

    For the first time in her life, Stacia was infatuated.

    Obsessed even, although not with the man himself. Certainly his broad shoulders and carved muscles looked attractive enough. But the way he moved... he barely moved at all, and yet in the space of an instant disabled both would be rapists. Like a fighting machine forged from flesh and blood. To Stacia’s frightened mind the drunkards had seemed indestructible. Impervious; unstoppable; her only option had been to flee. And yet... if she could only learn to move like him. The bronzed giant with the scar under his eye. So calm, so sure of himself, he casually dispatched two attackers equally as muscular as he. Stacia’s mind seemed to fold inward upon itself. If she had known how to fight like that, she could have helped the guards. If she hadn’t been so helpless, spilling tears on that bloody rock while her protectors fought and died on the shore...

    Room number twenty two at the Mountaintop Lodge. That single piece of information filled Stacia with hope. She would find him. No man she had ever met could refuse the power of her charms. She would do whatever it took to learn the secrets of the fighter’s technique.

    A pair of strong hands pulled her from the floor where she had been lying, eyes closed, alone in her fantasy world. The worried face of Matron Silter came into focus. Donna’s voice sounded so far away. Why wouldn’t she speak louder? Stacia was barely aware of her feet scuffing the floor as she was led down a hallway and into a bedroom. Her vision faded temporarily. Why couldn’t she see? The Matron finished pulling the dress over her head, and the darkness went away. Oh but she was tired. The sheets smelled so clean as she lay upon them, nuzzling against the downy pillows. A thick blanket settled on top of her, a gift from some unseen angel. Stacia was asleep before her eyes had properly closed.

    ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

    Matron Silter closed the door quietly and tiptoed away, careful to avoid the squeaky boards. Her heart went out to the poor child. In the morning, after Anastacia had eaten, she would hear the full story. Until then, she had business to attend to. Namely, seeking compensation for her ruined doors.

    It felt odd crossing her own threshold without having to push the doors open. Both slatted gates lay in the dirt, fine wood splintered by the tremendous force is must have taken to tear them free. Clucking like an upset hen, she picked her way to the unconscious thugs. They did appear to be sleeping rather peacefully, and the stench of alcohol assaulted her from a safe distance. Without hesitation she reached into the taller fellow’s pocket and pulled out a heavy coin purse. Subtracted half the contents and dropped the thing on its owner’s chest. Head held high she returned to her post at Luxuria’s reception desk.

    Despite the damage, she felt satisfied with what she had seen in the streets. It was always nice to see a couple of bullies taught a lesson, especially the sort who worked for Vince Galatian.
    "...when she was born, She had no sky
    And was open; inviting.
    And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her, making the oceans boil with sensation.
    And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky."

  9. #9
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 172,639, Level: 18
    Level completed: 14%, EXP required for next level: 16,361
    Level completed: 14%,
    EXP required for next level: 16,361

    AP
    62
    GP
    16,175
    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

    View Profile
    Smoke rose from the coals of the previous night’s campfire. The grey tendrils dispersed rapidly, shoved along by the strong mountain wind. The fire pit occupied the centre of a neat square of flattened grass. Seven men sat around the fire, their black gis rumpled from a night in the open. None complained though; they sat about stoically enough, playing at dice, talking in hushed tones, or sharpening their weapons. They knew better than to waste idle time.

    Vince Galatian spat into the fire pit just to hear the sizzle as his saliva evaporated. It had been a good fire. Small, but it kept the night time chill away. Easier to flay a Haidian Demon than find enough wood for a proper blaze, that high up the mountain. But Galatian and his brother Jeb were no longer welcome in their homeland of Akashima.

    The brothers had trained their whole lives in a warrior society, learning to use their bodies and blades as weapons. He had learned other things, too. How to forage a living outdoors, how to plot a route through a forest. How to hunt, for food or for men. He had learned how to survive, in short, and he was damn good at it. So good that the Akashiman Royals had commissioned both he and Jeb as Samurai. For five productive years they had enforced the law in the Western Duke, Yamihara Hiroi’s territory. The crime rate dropped staggeringly in those five years; everyone knew not to mess with the Galatian brothers. Their medieval methods frightened all but the hardiest criminals into other districts. Vince smiled at the memory. He and Jeb had eliminated the various charges, and imposed a new law on the land. Theft or murder, it didn’t matter; first offense got you a branded forehead and a severed middle finger. Second offense meant a year in lockup. After that, to break the law was treason, and that meant death. The hilt of Vince’s katana still had thirty seven marks scratched in it; one for each execution he had personally committed. The Galatian spat on the coals again. Those were the days.

    It all sank into the sewer when Hiroi got cold feet. The cowardly bastard threatened to strip the Galatians of their rank if they didn’t revert to more traditional methods. They refused to back down, naturally. Hiroi’s bleeding heart blinded him to the effectiveness of their enforcement. But the Duke had held fast also, until one day he had an accident. No one could prove the Galatians were responsible, but the Royal Samurai ran them out of the country and put a price on their heads. With only a few followers left over, the Galatians became wandering, masterless samurai. Ronin.

    The crackle of a trampled bramble bush caught Vince’s attention. He rose seamlessly to his feet, aware of the hilts of his katana and wakizashi, just over his shoulder, ready for use. Galatian’s black eyes scanned the long grass. The same wind that tugged at his midnight hair played with the giant blades of grass, making them sway to and fro. The blasted breeze made it difficult to tell, but he spotted the trail of disturbed vegetation that moved against the wind. He cupped a hand to his ear and heard it again; the careless tread of a boot on dried brambles.

    “Up arms, stand ready,” He growled in a near whisper. His men had all been watching him closely and responded with well trained alacrity. They fanned to all corners of the camp, swords at the ready. Casually, Galatian drew his wakizashi. The short curved blade flashed in the early morning sun, throwing glittering sparks into his long shadow. The blade twirled like a quicksilver through his fingers as his eyes followed the path of disturbed grass. He yawned, then timed it just right and threw the wakizashi.

    A man stepped into the clearing and caught the spinning sword by its handle, almost as casually as Galatian had thrown it. Grinning broadly, the man walked over and offered it to his master, handle first. Respectfully.

    Galatian accepted the blade from his second in command and slammed it back into its scabbard. Corren Moore was always grinning like an idiot, but he knew which end of the sword to aim at his enemy, and then some. Vince's crew numbered ten in total, but he had left a lucky two at an inn in Pagration. He liked having eyes and ears everywhere. Moore had been with Vince Galatian for years. The two had an understanding that the rest of his followers didn’t quite comprehend. They knew better than to question it, though, so they glanced at each other in confusion at the odd ritual.

    “Your footsteps sounded like a warthog that’s been into the wine, Corren.” Galatian reprimanded, “You need to move silently at all times.”

    Corren was of a height with Vince, both men tall, but while Vince was built like a boulder, Corren had a catlike quickness to him. The lithe man smirked and flexed his fingers, as if asking Galatian to chuck another knife at him.

    “No need for silence when I’ve got you to watch my back, sir.” The second grinned. A few of the underlings guffawed as they resumed their seats around the fire. Only Galatian and Moore remained standing as Moore reported to his superior.

    “I went to the inn like you said, Sir. No sign of your brother. I searched all of Stalworth, didn’t take long. But Jeb’s nowhere to be found.” Moore shrugged, knowing Galatian wasn’t an unreasonable man. He had done all that he could. Vince ran his tongue over his teeth as he considered the report. Finally he shook his head.

    “Huh, I should know better than to trust my little brother to do what he says he’ll do. He probably took his crew up to Pagration, he likes it better there.” Galatian scratched his head through his fur-like hair, then spat in the fire pit. “Did you talk to the old man?” He asked.

    “No Sir,” Moore replied, “Not a soul saw me, as usual. Day hadn’t properly arrived and I kept to the shadows.” Not an ounce of pride stained the second’s voice. The admission of his stealthy abilities was pure statement of fact. After all, he had learned from the best. Galatian nodded.

    “Good work. We could head straight to Pagration, but I’d rather talk to the innkeeper first. Nothing comes up this mountain without him knowing about it.” The ronin cast his eyes about the camp for a few seconds, as if searching for a reason to stay. Finding none, he picked up his rucksack and slung it over his shoulder. Always ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Such was the life of a samurai.

    “Alright Moore, scatter the coals and tell the men to break camp. Get yourselves to the Road to Akashima and head for Pagration. I’ll make a stop in Stalworth then follow after. Camp in the usual spot; we’re not staying at any of those damn inns.”

    Corren Moore bowed respectfully and began kicking earth onto the fire pit, his experienced voice calling orders to the already moving men. Galatian strode from the camp without a backwards glance. He had work to do.
    Last edited by Breaker; 04-17-08 at 02:45 PM.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  10. #10
    Member
    EXP: 2,380, Level: 2
    Level completed: 13%, EXP required for next level: 2,620
    Level completed: 13%,
    EXP required for next level: 2,620

    AP
    5
    GP
    635
    The Sweetest Thing's Avatar

    Name
    Anastacia Alliendra
    Age
    18
    Race
    Nymph
    Gender
    Female
    Hair Color
    Gold with cherry streaks
    Eye Color
    Blue
    Build
    5'5" / 102 lbs.
    Job
    Lady of the Night

    Stacia’s morning passed in a haze of tears and terrible memories. After a long night of dreamless sleep, all she wanted was to be alone, and not think about the ambush only she had survived. Unfortunately, Matron Silter seemed determined to squeeze every detail of the painful night out of her. By the time the sun rose to its apex, Stacia could not bear it any longer. When the Matron asked what she wanted for lunch, the young girl pounced on her opportunity.

    “I’m not hungry, thank you... I think I’d prefer to get some fresh air.”

    It took a little wheedling, but eventually she escaped. Outside the sun poured down—she had chosen a black dress, to honour the memory of Captain Samuels and the others. A brisk mountain breeze kept the temperature comfortable though. The fresh air felt good, relieving some of the pressure on a head that felt stuffed full of wool. She didn’t walk far, though. Only across the street to hide in a nook between two houses, a shadowy area where her black dress blended in well. She sat down on an old barrel and waited.

    Stacia needed a distraction to keep her mind off the death she witnessed the night before. And it came in the form of the tanned martial artist with the scar on his face. She watched the door of the Mountaintop Lodge with well-exercised patience. Surely the man would leave his inn at some point that day. He had looked like a traveller, with his dusty clothes and solid hiking boots. He would need to buy something in the town—food, drink, other supplies. And when he did, Stacia intended to search his room. In her experience, even a girl as beautiful as herself rarely received something for nothing. And she didn’t feel up to offering anyone her usual bartering chip. The experience with Elliot left her shaking every time she thought about even touching a man. She couldn’t just ask the warrior to teach her his methods. But if she could con her way into his room somehow, she might be able to find a clue as to where he had learned the amazing fighting art.

    Dried bramble bushes blew down the road, and Stacia passed the time by imagining how she might convince the innkeeper. The possibility that she wouldn’t make it never entered her mind; if there was one thing Stacia knew for certain how to do, it was lie.
    Last edited by The Sweetest Thing; 04-22-08 at 03:56 AM.
    "...when she was born, She had no sky
    And was open; inviting.
    And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her, making the oceans boil with sensation.
    And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky."

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