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Thread: Your vices are in order

  1. #1
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    Your vices are in order

    Out of Character:
    Closed. All bunnying approved.


    Underwood was a transient town. A place where hungry travellers could grab a meal and a night's rest on their way from just about anywhere on Corone to anywhere else. Joshua had departed from Radsanth that afternoon, travelling as the tone of his enchanted metal boots on the city's cobblestones echoed in his mind. By the time the sun went to rest and the moon peeked through foreboding fingers of cloud, he'd arrived at the sparsely wooded fringe where Concordia gave way to Underwood.

    The bed-and-breakfast town represented chaos to Joshua. Last time he'd leased a room at the Peaceful Promenade he'd ended up in an argument with a young girl and a fist fight with a pair of scholarly ogres. The girl, Lillian Sesthal, had later been instrumental in his defeat during the great battle in the adamantine-walled Cell. He could have thanked her, for his soul had chosen enlightenment over death that day and risen from his broken body to explore the wonders of the Eternal Tap.

    The streets of Underwood were mostly silent, intriguing the Ascended. He had heard whispers from informants in Radsanth that agents of the Rangers and resistance for freedom could be found in that sleepy forest town. Yet Joshua did not see a single Watch patrol, nor any of the elves and men who moved with the wolflike confidence so common in Corone Rangers. Many of the villagers carried staves and wore long daggers on their belts, yet the buzz of their conversation was peaceful to the extent of naivety. Underwood smelled right, though. Radasanth reeked of corruption and wickedness, as did all villages touched by the taint of the Coaltion and their Wraiths from the former Scarlet Brigade. The districts where the Empire showed dominance were no better; the stench of fear gushed from the masses like a ruptured sulphuric geyser. He found little of interest in the darkened streets of Underwood, and eventually the roar of the crowd at the Promenade drew him to it.

    Ever since Joshua re-embodied physical form on Althanas, memories seeped into his mind like rainwater finding cracks in the ceiling. Only some of them came from his life; others originated in his time spent as a being of pure energy, sensations and perceptions he could barely decipher now. At times those ethereal moments gave him a sense of purpose or direction, of destiny, but mostly they felt like reading a book written in a foreign language and unknown alphabet.

    The stream of consciousness expanding his memory was a blessing after having the demonic Breaker-persona in the back of his mind for so long. It seemed the more he remembered and the more he learned, the more his capacity to learn increased. And his desire. Perhaps that desire for stimuli was what put his hand on the door and pushed his body to the raucous interior. He was no longer a man of preservation. He had become a being of purpose.

    If only I could figure out that purpose...

    His six senses snapped to work like hyperactive hunting dogs. Scented candles and oily incense couldn't cover the odour of alcoholic sweat. Josh found a current moving through the crowd and slid into it unnoticed. People pressed close but didn't come in contact with him as his penetrating eyes and direct walk carried him to the bar. Over the laughter and screams of the crowd, through the twangy pub music, he heard the bartender utter something to one of the serving crew about the Dwarven whisky.

    "... the finest I've ever tasted..."

    Joshua's tongue wet his lips. A long time since he'd felt the pleasure of a good scotch on his palate. His eyes, sharp as any falcon's, picked out the bottle, hidden where only customers who knew to ask for it would see. Well conditioned vocal chords ordered two glasses of the fine whisky, using its Aleraran name. The barman's pupils dilated, but any notion of deception vanished when he saw the weight of the gold coin those callused hands left on the counter.

    Aside from his wardrobe which consisted of a black collared shirt, black pants, and the black Breaker Boots, Josh blended with the crowd well enough. He could feel the energies of the people all around him, and detected no malevolence. Even so his eyes roamed the tangle of arms and legs diligently, looking for body language cues of violence.

    Guided by something more than his will, Josh smiled at a nearby woman who had long dark hair. Not quite handsome enough that she'd have asked me to dance, he thought as he handed the woman the second whisky and sipped his own. But just enough that she won't say no. He leaned in close and whispered in her ear, caught the aroma of roses from her hair and a recent pressing from her pleated dress.

    The raven-haired woman pulled Josh onto the dance floor and pressed herself close. As they swayed to the music and sipped their drinks, he guided her on a path between the other couples that kept everyone out of eavesdropping range. And as the minutes slipped away she told him everything she knew about the constantly changing population of Underwood.
    Last edited by Breaker; 03-18-11 at 10:13 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
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    Phyr Sa'resh trudged towards the Peaceful Promenade, tedium infecting his gait. The scraping thumps of his footfalls and monotonous tapping of his cane echoed down Underwood's back alleys. The ancient drow clutched the smooth black handle of his walking stick in his single gnarled hand and leaned heavily upon it so he could glance up at the stars. A wind far above the towering tops of the oaks in Concordia pushed the clouds aside, revealing a sky glassy as a delyn sword. A clean night of new things, or so his childhood friends would have said.

    The former soldier stuffed remembrances from two lifetimes past down into the bottom of his soul as the wall of noise coming from the Promenade hit him. Like a barn cat caught in the rain he slunk along parallel to the tavern but as far away as the road would allow, crossing only when he spotted his mark.

    The fellow looked like a scarecrow, with straw-coloured hair poking from his cap at all angles and wool clothing that hung on him as if he were made of sticks. He was a member of the security crew, and took his breaks outside the Promenade's side staff door. The wiry man was drawing on a half-smoked cigarette when Phyr limped up and stood silently beside him.

    "How's the night granpa'?" the human scarecrow asked, showing yellowed teeth in a familiar grin. Phyr stifled any reaction. He was on payroll at several local inns as an outdoor night watchman, having snared the jobs using his surprising elocution and years of military experience. As a result he got paid a tidy sum to stump from tavern to inn, telling security guards everything was safe and secure. In return he received (aside from his fee) first hand information and gossip from all the most knowledgeable individuals.

    "Strangled a few land-locked pirates earlier, you owe me double for that." Phyr quipped, knowing the man had a soft-spot for epic seafaring stories. He got a long belly laugh for his effort, which ended in a bout of coughing and spitting as a little tar found its way back out of the scarecrow's lungs.

    "That quiet outside? It's never been louder in here!" The straw-haired fellow said, indicating the Promenade and tossing his cigarette away with one gesture. "No excitement though. Same old faces and fresh shiny gold." Phyr inclined his head in thanks and the man disappeared back into the chaos and noise, rubbing his palms to warm them.

  3. #3
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    Joshua Breaker Cronen
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    As the clamour of the crowd swelled between songs Josh managed to trade his dancing partner for a three-pointed leather cap. The brunette seemed pleased enough; the benevolent barterer was so well dressed he might have been a tailor. They melted back onto the dance floor as Josh moved in the opposite direction. His hazel eyes looked ice blue, glazed over, drunk and happy. He staggered on occasion and grinned loosely at everyone, chatting carelessly when the press of people forced him to stand still. He personified a part of the group, and as a part of it he knew the proper etiquette. The ebb and flow of the other patrons pushed him gently towards the band, where he left a friendly contribution for the artists.

    As he passed a quiet table he swept his new hat off, tussled his shaggy hair and then made way for the poncho his left had found draped over a chair. The coarse wool garment hung well down his shoulders and chest, completing the look of another local out for a round of drinks. He chose a quiet nook near the back of the pub and leaned on the cool wooden wall. Found a half-full pack of cigarettes in a denim pocket inside the poncho and lit one with a match proffered by a nearby patron. Tobacco stung his tongue and nicotine doped his head with a pleasant buzzing, like he was flying again, an entity of energy observing the universe.

    He exhaled a plume of smoke and scanned the room through its ghostly tendrils. Behind the fake drunken haze he compartmentalised each face and applied what little useful information he had gleaned from the brunette. There wasn't anyone of particular status or value in the whole place, at least not that she knew of. But she had pointed him towards the drug dealer with the best product. As he moved towards the target, he ran through the list of faces in his head to see if any of them sparked recognition.

    Suddenly wanting to sit down, he staggered to a nearby table and sprawled out in a chair next to the only other occupant, a reedy man in a hooded cloak. The fellow appeared to either be asleep, or simply failed to notice Joshua's arrival due to his contemplation of the ceiling.

    Josh stretched and leaned closer to the hooded patron. Muttered something, and the not-so-unconscious pusher inclined his head in return. A small sack of gold emerged from beneath the poncho then vanished into the depths of the cloak. Seconds later a smaller parcel repeated the journey in reverse.

    As Josh stood up he leaned over to shake the seated man's hand. In the instant his torso shielded his hands from the rest of the room, he dealt the dealer a stunning blow to the point of his chin. The cloaked figure slumped back in his chair. Josh roared with laughter at something the man hadn't said, and picked his pockets while jesting about straightening up the other's attire.

    Moving through the crowd again, he had to step carefully. Fitting in with the crowd meant people were not shy to bump up against him, and the pockets of his borrowed poncho were crammed full of... whatever the best pusher in Underwood usually carried. He stopped at the end of the bar nearest the exit and appeared to examine its varnished surface while he addressed the approaching barmaid in a coarse, covert voice.

    "Hey, Miss, what's the place next door called?" He gave her a half smile and she sniffed in return, angling her body away. He could only ask so many questions before he'd need to pay for her attention.
    "Last Night's Maiden, not that any of our patrons would attend that shack." Josh shook his head and tipped her a half bow with a flare of his cap.
    "No matter, I'm meeting a business partner in a private room there for drinks and work. Thought I'd have a little fun here first." The barmaid sniffed again and started to move away. Josh rapped his knuckles on the counter top.
    "That dwarven whisky, what's it called? I'll take a bottle to go with me. Probably wouldn't find that kind of quality next door, am I right?"

    The hen-like woman still frowned at him but accepted some of the dealer's gold in exchange for a corked bottle of whisky. Josh angled it to catch the light from a lantern and read the label. Yurik's Firewhisky, it said in Dwarven scrawl. A description covered the back, but he could not comprehend the sentence structure. Best of all, the bottle was sealed by a square of wax at the top.

    "Not likely to find this kind of scotch anywhere else this side of Radasanth sir; the boss just got a big shipment in special from Alerar, and as ye' surely noticed from the price-" the barmaid looked up from wiping a spill to see a young couple had replaced the man in the three pointed cap and voluminous poncho.

    A zephyr of cool air tickled her incredulous face as a nearby side door slammed shut.
    Last edited by Breaker; 03-18-11 at 10:16 PM.

  4. #4
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    The atmosphere inside Last Night's Maiden embraced Phyr's battered body like a dream of a lover long gone. Warmth from the hearth licked life back into fingers that felt frozen to the cane. Phyr kept his eyes downcast and moved slowly so as not to alarm the few pub patrons. Since most of the Maiden's coin came from its live musical entertainment, off nights like this one lent the space a mellow feel that kneaded Phyr's gnarled muscles just right.

    Leaning his cane against the front corner of the tavern allowed him to shrug out of the ratty overcoat and sit gratefully in an oaken chair. Forearm rested on the teak tabletop, the drow lapsed temporarily into blissful reverie. His matted grey mane rustled as he rotated his neck, squeezing several loud pops from the overused tendons. A long story of pain and loss was etched in the lines on his face and accentuated by the cauliflower-like knots in his ears. But behind his azure eyelids he was a young Aleraran junior officer with sleek black hair and smooth pointed ears.

    The familiar tapdance of a willowy serving woman's high-heeled shoes caused Phyr to become alert. There she was, Elena, sweet brunette wisp of a girl bringing him a neat glass of house rye. Out of habit the old drow scanned the room behind her, his ancient blue eyes picking up details even in the darkened hall beyond the tavern proper.

    In the space of a moment a figure crossed through his field of vision, and Phyr's heart and lungs seemed to stop working.

    "Mister Sa'resh, what's wrong? You look like a demon had a-hold of your soul!" Elena was at his elbow, the anticipated drink hovering on her tray mere inches away. She examined the mauve flush that appeared along his neck and cheeks and reached out a hand as if to test the temperature of his brow.

    "Just the cold air, my lady fair. You do these old bones a favour with your concern. My thanks." Phyr used a seated bow to bob his head away from her fingertips and managed to wrench his hand off the hilt of the bayonet beneath his rags long enough to grab the drink and take a deep pull. It made him feel and look better almost instantly, an alcoholic elixir. The girl would have protested but a patron signalled and she darted away, leaving the old elf with a generous smile.

    It took several minutes and three fingers of whisky before Phyr felt ready to contemplate what he had seen. A life time ago as part of an elite team defending Ettermire harbour against an incursion by the Scarlet Brigade, Phyr had learned to spot the smooth stride of a man trained to kill. Back then, his own casual stroll reflected the poise of a jaguar. He knew the tells, the arm positions and rolling flicks of feet and hips that made each innocent step a calculated potential for violence.

    These days I move more like a three legged pack mule, he thought ruefully.

    But he had never seen anyone other than the deadliest Aleraran assassins flow like the shadow in the hall.

  5. #5
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    Joshua Breaker Cronen
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    The walls in the Maiden's smaller private dining room had been panelled with mahogany slats recently, the wood grain providing a hypnotic background for a plethora of different sized oil paintings hanging from pegs cleverly wedged between slats. Josh ran a rough palm over the polished woodwork, admiring the craftsmanship even as he reverse engineered it and watched how the job had been done in his mind. This would look great on the walls of a dojo, he mused, moving on to consider the first painting. Heat from the room's compact hearth touched his leg like a friendly dog's tongue.

    Bold brush strokes depicted the familiar Battle of Teria, which seemed like a popular piece of subject matter for Coronian artists. Perhaps they like the versatility of the armies, he thought. The creator of the painting on the wall had been very creative with his approach to the demon hordes. Or maybe he was there. Some of the grotesque faces seemed hauntingly familiar, stirring shadows of memories deep within Cronen's mind. Or... perhaps I'm just jaded. Josh was used to looking at a truly masterful depiction of the same battle displayed in his friend's office. The man who had lost his legs in Alerar, who could drink almost as much scotch as Breaker, who had silver hair and...

    Leonard Silverton. He recalled the name with lightning suddenness. The lapse lasted less than a second, but Joshua's memory was almost eidetic. What distracted me? He closed his eyes for a moment and focused on his other senses, willing himself to become aware of any powerful magic nearby, but nothing...

    It came again. The faintest scuff of a boot settling gently on the floor. Even Breaker's superhuman hearing could barely catch it over the crackle of leaping flames and the muted roar issuing from the Promenade. Someone who truly knew how was attempting to sneak up on him.

    Not breathing, Josh pushed off from the panelled wall and glided soundlessly across the hardwood floor, the soles of his enchanted boots abandoning all friction then gradually finding it again so he coasted to a stop with his shoulder pressed against the top hinge of the heavy oaken door. Then it opened a crack and a single azure hand poked into sight, empty, with gnarled fingers. A coarse voice whispered something in Aleraran, then after a brief pause spoke in common, presumably repeating the previous message.

    "My lord, I am your servant, please let me live!"

    Baffled but ever-cautious, Breaker grabbed the azure arm at the wrist and used an escort lock to drag its owner into the room.
    Last edited by Breaker; 03-18-11 at 10:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    Phyr contemplated his approach as he stood and stooped to the blazing brick hearth, swirling the contents of his glass like vintage scotch and gulping it like penny-ale. The combination of sudden proximity to heat and the introduction of coarse grain alcohol had his bloodstream running like spring thaw in Salvar. In Devil's Keep, the maximum security prison north of Sulgoran's Axe, springtime had brought disease and decay to the prisoners worse than any other season. Perhaps that is why I don't mind the cold so much. Bubbles in his mind.

    An iron pot sat half-into the bed of coals, burbling merrily into the steel still cape which fanned across the pot and over the bricks of the hearth. The cape collected moisture and dropped it on the hot bricks, keeping the air in the tavern moist through winter. Phyr had made a mild ceremony out of "gifting" a piece of Aleraran technology to the humans, and Elena diligently kept it full of aromatic rosewater. In reality the humidifier was a crude device he had thrown together using scavenged scraps. It served the purpose of comforting his old lungs, though.

    Setting the empty glass on a nearby table, he fingered his broad leather belt. It was a good belt, if made by and for humans. He had poked the hole it used himself with the tip of his bayonet, so it fit snugly but not quite tight. That won't do at all. With a long-practised gesture he removed the belt and placed it on the table. Deftly producing his dagger and stacking it squarely on top, he looked up and found Elena's eyes across the room. She was by his side in seconds.

    "May I help you with something Phyr?" Earnest goodwill emanated from the angelic creature. How can one of such a crude race be so sweet? Having to mislead her felt exactly like a flaming plynt sickle in the gut.

    "Nothing more than a moment of your time, child. Could you take that brutish dagger and poke a new hole in my belt for me? Just the length of your thumb tip from the other there. I've lost a little weight but..." try as he might to finish his sentence, the woman still cut in.

    "But! But of course yer' wastin' away under my very eyes! I'll fix you some dinner straight away. Master Sa'resh, if my Mother saw you she'd-" he cut her off roughly, shoving away the pangs in his belly and following his instinct at all cost.

    "But I must finish my rounds, my child, and I cannot do that with my pants at my knees. If you please?" He picked up the bayonet and pressed it's hilt covertly against her abdomen. She flinched as if scalded but took it and cautiously did as he'd asked.

    "Well, when you return I'll have a warm plate waitin' for ye', an' I'll watch ye' eat it too!" She returned his blade and marched away as if that settled an agreement between them somehow. Is it merely the abysmal structure of the language, or did she just recommend I ingest heated armour? The drow mused as he turned back to the fire and set about the task of putting on his belt. By the time it was secured too-tightly around his waist he had chosen an appropriate piece of fire wood from the crate beside the hearth. Snatching the small sturdy plank, he donned his coat and exited the tavern, leaving his walking stick leaning in the corner.

    The outside air bit his skin but he hustled around back of the Last Night's Maiden, ignoring both the cold and the high-decibel vibrations coming from the Promenade.

    Fire wood was stacked high and deep against the back wall of the Maiden, protected from the elements by an extension of the thatch roof and a long canvas tarpaulin that hung to the ground like a seer's robe. Hooking the tarp behind one of the structure's supports to keep it out of his way, Phyr jammed the plank he had taken from inside at an angle between two large heavy logs, and hunted about the wood pile for the steel hatchet which was always kept there. Finally spotting the tool, he gripped it firmly in his single hand and faced the angled oaken plank.

    Phyr raised the axe-head so it stood intimidating the plank for several seconds, rehearsing the exact movement he needed to make in his mind. Although it had many years of training, his left hand still wasn't as reliable as his right had been, and unless he executed the chop perfectly he would need to start again.

    Thunk.

    The hatchet split the middle of the plank's crown, sinking half the length of the axe-head into the wood. Perfect.

    Abandoning the axe, Phyr unsheathed his bayonet and, by pinning the canvas curtain to the wall with his right hip, managed to cut a long thick strip of the heavy material. Next he placed the lobotomised piece of lumber on the ground and stood on it, and then brought the hilt of his dagger down firmly just where the hatchet had split the wood grain. It took several swift attempts and some clever manoeuvring, but he managed to wedge the knife into the plank so it's lethal blade stood up at a ninety-degree angle.

    Flipping the crude spike-hammer on its side, the old drow stood on it once more and applied all of his weight, then stooped and looped the canvas strap over the split end in an effective slipknot. He reefed on it, tightening its hold to the maximum, and then repeated the process twice and wrapped the rest of the canvas in a criss-cross around the makeshift haft and the dagger's hilt. Hefting the kama-like weapon, he swung it hard against the wood pile three times to test its solidity, then concealed it and hurried back inside the Inn.

    In the dark corridor, he retraced the shadow-killer's steps, following its projected path past the raucous laughter behind the door of the first private dining room and all the way to the end of the hall.

    Phyr had tucked the plank bearing the bayonet behind the buckle of his too-tight belt. It caused him considerable discomfort, and the long blade ballooned the front of his coat as if he were one of those doddering fat humans. But it lurked behind the ratty burlap, ready to bite into the flesh of anyone who Phyr smashed his torso against. Or anyone who tries to grab ahold of me.

    Although he took his time approaching the door and moved as silently as possible, he did not expect to reach the room unheard. And so he twisted the knob and pushed his single hand through, fingers splayed in innocence. Best case scenario is its a drow and he lets me live, he thought as he called out in his native tongue. Getting no response, he repeated his message in the common dialect of Coronian humans Next best case scenario is it's a human and I get to kill him.

    Phyr anticipated most of what happened next. He expected hands much stronger than his own to drag him into the room, and when it happened he followed the energy to its source, driving his torso forwards to impale whomever had grabbed him on the hidden bayonet. But before the blade could pierce cloth or flesh he found himself sailing through the air and slammed into the ground, an incredible force crushing life from his lungs.

  7. #7
    Maul-Slayer
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    Joshua Breaker Cronen
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    Most security enforcement instructors would teach their students to be wary of an enemy's hands. Watch the hands, find the weapons. But as a martial artist Joshua instinctively checked the drow's hips as he heaved the smaller being into the room, and caught a flash of the blade beneath the beggar's rags in the firelight.

    He released the skeletal wrist and grabbed Phyr's collar instead, falling backwards away from the bayonet as the dark elf lunged. Joshua's body rolled onto the ground soundlessly as he guided his azure-skinned attacker over him in a textbook Sacrifice throw. The drow hit the floorboards with a harsh thump as Josh pinned him, one knee trapping the being's single wasted wrist, the other pressed harshly on his diaphragm. Tearing the bayonet out of its makeshift handle, Cronen threw the blade with such force it slammed the door shut and stuck in the frame, effectively barring them inside.

    With lethal calm the martial artist reached to the back of his belt and unsheathed a similar bayonet made from prevaldia as azure as the drow's skin. When he pressed its razor edge against the would-be assassin's throat it nearly blended with the skin.

    "Who sent you? And why?"

    Memories of whisky-drenched conversations with Silverton flooded his mind as he added more weight to the dagger and heard the drow gurgle. Everything seemed to point to the only other dark elf Cronen knew. The killer with the sword blacker than death and a reason for vengeance. Josh plunged through the kaleidoscope of violent memories and seized that wicked assassin's name.

    "You work for Kron Sha'keth, don't you?" Rock hard knees sank into torturous pressure points on the drow's arm and sternum as the bayonet's edge creased his bobbing throat.
    Last edited by Breaker; 03-18-11 at 10:25 PM.

  8. #8
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    Les Misérables's Avatar

    Name
    Phyr Sa'resh
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    Pain threatened to sunder the muscles in Phyr's back and shoulder. The initial impact of the throw rattled his brain and and wracked his spine so severely he barely noticed he couldn't breathe. Oxygen seemed inconsequential to lungs that felt like they'd fallen between hammer and anvil in an Orcish smithy. But as the darkness faded from his vision and proper sensory function returned the drow realised he could barely move. With one heavy knee punching his guts through his spine and into the floorboards, his hips felt paralysed. Trapping his wrist was unnecessary; Phyr was certain the impact of the throw had jarred his arm out of the shoulder socket.

    As a keen blade pressed harder into his throat, the drow did the only thing he could. Giving in to the welling desire in his lungs and throat, he coughed violently, again and again. His head jerked with the motion as mucus sprayed across the floorboards. His skin moved hard and fast against the blade and blood seeped from a shallow gash on his neck. Uttering a sound of anger or surprise, the human snatched the blade away and lifted Phyr by the collar like a child then swung him one-handed so he crashed onto the table. Rough hands tore a strip from his own rags and applied expert pressure to staunch the blood flow.

    As the human stopped him from bleeding to death, Phyr examined his hard hazel eyes and stubbled face impassively, noticing a Y-shaped scar half a hand width beneath the left celestial iris. Aside from that the man looked fit and groomed, hair cut almost like a soldier, but without any military bearing. Curious.

    "I am an enemy of Kron Sha'keth." His glare challenged Cronen to make the next move.

  9. #9
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    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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    The pitiful display of coughing and the fountain of phlegm did little to dissuade Cronen, but when the old drow nicked his neck on the blade he sheathed it and slammed the decrepit ragamuffin onto the table, working to close the wound. With a satisfactory makeshift bandage in place, Josh forced Phyr's hand up and onto the compress.

    "Keep pressure on this," he commanded. The drow shuddered involuntarily, and the way the arm hung slackly across his chest told Josh it was dislocated.

    At least that way he can't feed himself poisonous herbs or something. What the hell does Sha'keth teach his minions? Knowing the creature could do little with his single arm dislocated and his lungs gasping for air, Josh turned away and paced across the room, retrieving the bottle of Yurik's Firewhisky from where it had rolled. Finding a foursome of clean crystal glasses on the mantle, he poured a small measure and swished it around his mouth before swallowing. Turned to face the drow who had not moved, but stared back at him like a lame bobcat, absolutely still and unafraid but ready to give or embrace death in a heartbeat.

    Josh tilted his head to one side and picked up a second glass, poured three fingers of the rich scotch into each and left the bottle there. Moved to the table side to inspect the compress of filthy rags. The laceration was shallow, and the flow of blood had all but stopped under the weight of the elf's wasted hand. Removing the crimson-soaked rag Josh let a few drops of whisky fall into the wound, cleansing it. The drow's nostrils flared at this, and he shifted as if wishing he could catch the droplets with his mouth. Josh left that glass on the table and turned away to hide the smirk which stole onto his face.

    "Have a seat," he said, using the same expressionless commanding tone as previously. Heard the scrape and shuffle as the drow sat up awkwardly, slithered off the table and took the chair facing the door. There would be no second attempt on his life; both of them knew that Cronen was in absolute control.

    "I should make one thing absolutely clear to you," Josh said to the door, letting his words bounce back to elf's withered ears. "If you are an enemy of Kron Sha'keth you must know what he is capable of. He used to have a younger brother every bit as deadly as he. The two of them attacked me together, and only Kron escaped." Josh turned suddenly and caught Phyr staring morosely between the shimmering glass of scotch and his disabled arm. Expression under control, Josh sipped his own drink and set his mouth in a grim line. "That was more than a half year ago, and the remaining Sha'keth has made it his life's goal since then to destroy me." The corners of his mouth quirked as his hazel eyes locked with Phyr's blue ones. "Evidently he hasn't succeeded, and unless you are in fact one of his agents, that bastard still doesn't know where I am." Sipping contentedly he wandered behind the drow's chair.

    "The only reason I'm telling you this is to demonstrate just who I am. No one here has recognised me, but if I introduced myself their knees would tremble. I could make you disappear forever and never be asked about it. Because I'm wherever I want to be whenever I want - I was reborn in the swell of the Eternal Tap. I don't know how many seasons you've seen, but I promise you never met anyone like me. A hundred years ago when your mama told you stories about a monster that gave you bad dreams... I'm that monster's worst nightmare."

    Josh stopped suddenly, staring at the drow's pockmarked skin and matted grey hair. Why am I telling him this? The monologue had poured out as surely as if he were a professional orator. Shaking his head and taking another shot, he stepped closer to Phyr's back and watched the drow tense up in response.

    "And I will absolutely know if you're lying. But you won't lie, because if you're actually an enemy of Sha'keth, it's in your best interests to tell me everything you know about him. And you're also going to tell how and why you're here. Because I don't like it when someone tries to kill me, even an enemy of my nemesis. But first..." placing his glass on the table, he dropped both callused hands onto Phyr's dislocated shoulder and dug into the muscle, found the rotator socket and eased the arm back into its natural position. The drow sighed in relief as tension drained from the shoulder.

    "But first, you should whet your whistle."
    Last edited by Breaker; 03-18-11 at 05:11 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: 10,755, Level: 4
    Level completed: 36%, EXP required for next level: 3,245
    Level completed: 36%,
    EXP required for next level: 3,245

    AP
    14
    GP
    454
    Les Misérables's Avatar

    Name
    Phyr Sa'resh
    Race
    Drow
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Grey
    Eye Color
    Azure
    Build
    6'1" / 153 lbs.

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    Phyr sat in the chair like a stuffed mannequin except for eyes which darted to and fro. The glass of whisky, the rack of iron pokers by the hearth. The crystal vessel, the insufferable human. The glass, the doorway. Twin azure minnows that were always drawn back to the...

    Yurik's Firewhisky. Phyr hadn't seen the bottle. The smell rising from the glass tickled his nose like a lover's perfume. That smell had accompanied him through more hardships than any living being. For eleven years the Aleraran Army had supplied Yurik's as standard ration. When the military experienced a dry spell under idealistic management, Phyr started a tab at the nearest still. When the army (under newer management) brought liquor back two years later it was a government vodka and he waived the ration and kept the tab. The aroma's beckoning and the hopeless slack pain in his shoulder dragged him back in time to prison, where he'd added scavenged granules of nutmeg to forge-grog to give it a tinge of the Firewhisky finish. Then the human set his shoulder, breaking the shackles.

    Phyr did not move, except for to breathe deeply and rotate life into his ailing limb. The fighter with good taste in grog walked around and sat in the chair facing his captive. There was a twinkle in those hard hazel eyes, like polished flint, that held Phyr's gaze and made him want to look away at the same time.

    His eyes are the least off-putting thing about him. The human made almost no noise when he moved. Even the aged chair refused to squeak as it accepted his weight. Over his broad shoulder, in spite of the low light Phyr could see that his simple iron bayonet was buried to three-quarters of its length, through the door and into the jam at an angle. Only other time I've seen that was shrapnel from cannon fire. And yet the man had made the precision throw so casually.

    Most uncanny of all was the connection to Kron Sha'keth. True, the assassin was the only other drow Phyr had met in Corone, but being the exact opposite of a socialite, he expected that. The human's intuitive and deductive powers were as confusing as the panic which had pushed Phyr to attack him in the first place.

    Phyr looked up from dancing angels of firelight and sniffed his whisky. The patience of the youthful man across the table completed the aura of a force of nature in human form. Curiosity wrapped its bushy tail around Phyr's ankles. He had been a fool many times in the past but he would not be one again. If he picked up that glass, he was subjecting himself not only to answer Cronen's questions but somehow, to join the Breaker on his path of spears.

    So be it. I'd have to answer his questions in order to ask mine anyway. And if his path leads through Sha'keth I'll gladly follow it.

    "Ulu dosst afya," he uttered as he picked up the tumbler and tipped its wondrous contents past his lips. The firewhisky burned all the way down and built a fire to match the hearth in his belly.

    To your health.

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