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Thread: Low Stretches The Hand

  1. #1
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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Gum do Mugu
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    Low Stretches The Hand

    Dad's dinged up frying pan clanged against the stove grate, and he scratched it around to get it centred over the flames. Strips of bacon fell into the pan; two, four six of them in all, but the metal was still cool. Rhinta had her back to his; a loose chair leg wobbled as she scooted it up to their goodwill kitchen table. She pawed the leg, wondering if its collapse was impending; a laissez-faire smile and she moved on, flicking a fingernail under the chipping paint on the table's rim. “Don't do that,” grumbled the father, his elderly senses sharp as ever despite a turned back; together, they liked to forget she was a grown woman.

    Driving sleet swept the season's bleak backdrop; Radasanth's deepest winter morning waited outside the kitchen window. Inside, Rhint rubbed her hands together to ward off the window frame's bitter draught.

    As the savory smell grew, Rhinta bounced to her feet to run the rule over dad's progress. “Ahm,” she hesitated looking at the meat, the pink flesh was shriveling as it darkened at the edges, and streaked with fat. More than that, the streaks of fat carried an aesthetic that preemptively upset her stomach. “Just eggs for me, dad,” she said, jabbing a jaunty finger into his back. Dad (Mr. Reitinro to her friends) nodded, and dipped his hand into the lonely wicker basket on the countertop. Rhinta's first summer in the sun had brushed a burst of freckles down her nose and onto her cheeks; ever since, her dad bought the freckliest eggs from the stall's clutch. “Look at these beauties,” he insisted with pride, shoving a couple of heavily blotched eggs in her direction. She repelled his request with an eye roll, letting the dogged importance of her own youth take centre stage.

    J. Henrig Reitinro worked swinging his hammer at railway pegs for a few twenties short of a living. Odd jobs and Rhinta's salary made up the rest of their budget. Henrig had a bald patch he scratched for comedy's sake when his daughter's friends brightened his doorstep; and his poorly kept moustache won more crumbs than admirers.

    When the daughter sat back at the table, she did so with a clunk and a wince. Her knee butted the table leg. The porcelain figurine of an elephant teetered at the centre of the table, and Rhinta lurched forward to grab it before it toppled over. Her mother had gotten it on a trip they all took together when she was still studying at the university. Most of the time father and daughter ignored the thing. It was on the table out of love and duty, but memories could be a painful obligation. That day's breakfast showed her the curio in a new light, she inspected every detail. She paused when she noticed the small hole in the bottom of the hollow memento. While the old man was busy cracking eggs, she slipped it under the table and into her bag.

    “Whoa,” she exclaimed at the sudden slide of scrambled eggs in front of her.

    “Time to eat!” dad said, as he sat opposite her. The girl's old man served food with the golden heart of a single dad struggling through life as a widower.

    “Eggs are good,” she said between furious strokes of food shovelling.

    “You're in a rush to get to work, aren't you?” the old man asked, placing his cheek and temple between his thumb and forefinger.

    “I want to take the long way through the indoor market. Don't want to get too wet on the way.”

    “Ah, makes sense.” He was concerned for her, Rhinta's behaviour had been back and forth ever since the breakup.

    “Yep!” She stood with the clink of a dropped fork.

    The old man probed cautiously, “I'll see you when you get home. Okay?”

    “I'll be a bit late today, dad! I'm having dinner with a friend.” She reached under the chipped old table to grab her bag.

    He bit his tongue, hoping she wasn't still seeing the lad, “Ah, well, just be careful Rhint. I know you're a clever one, so I trust you.”

    “Dad, come on. You know it's not Calvino's fault!” she whined with frustration.

    “I know, but...” There was an ace always up his sleeve, and the wrinkly wink of his clear-sky eyes made him a real charmer.

    “Look, I'm gonna be late to work,” she said as she delicately slid her bag over her shoulder and holstered a nearby umbrella onto her hip.

    “Love you!” She slipped on her well worn shoes, and clipped her keys onto a frayed belt loop. The pants were a size too big, she'd lost weight since the cold weather set in; it didn't help that her pockets were crowded with coins. The borrowed belt kept her pants up, against all odds.

    “Love you too, dad!”

    The door slammed, and Rhinta's ponytail waved her into the brittle winter outside.





    The feverish drive of a bereft belly poured the employee horde into the canteen, and the lunch line produced an ear-ringing din of metal trays slammed with spoonfuls of mash and peas. The white noise was punctuated with the ping pong of misheard orders. Glee beamed from their normally dull eyes; they were joyous for the thirty minute escape from the mindless task behind them. An industrialist somewhere on a golf course was boasting with imperious pride, surely his buddies were impressed with the tender treatment he afforded his simple workers. The lunch room stood out as a well equipped privilege compared to the conditions most workers of the time toiled through.

    A plate of fruit and vegetables slid across a plain cafeteria table, eased by a thin layer of grease, and the freckled girl dropped her copy of Moonport by J. M. Faulconnier next to it.

    “They made me read that at school.” The words came from the stout muzzle of Rhinta's colleague, “Big” Robby Hatchford.

    “Me too, but I'm reading it again,” she conceded sheepishly across the table.

    “Don't eat that!” His burly baritone reverberated in the span of his chest. Hatchford's wide scowl bore the scars of his past, hidden behind a chicken-scratch beard.

    Rhinta jumped, with a “Huh!?”

    “The apple...” Hatchford furrowed his bushy brow in the direction of the fruit.

    The fruit was firmly flush with rose on green, but as she turned the apple its truth came to light. The far side had been hiding a mushy patch of depressed flesh, coloured brown and showing patches of fuzzy white mold.

    “Oh, wow.” She placed it delicately at the centre of the table, rotten side facing away from her.

    “Yup. A bad apple.”

    Hatchford had dabbled as a professional pit fighter in the Citdadel. Pundits surmised he could have been as good as Cromwell if he'd stuck at it. After retiring from the fight circle, he joined Radasanth's city guard, turning down promotions to remain a grunt for the thrill.

    “So, hey, you were in the city guard, right? You ever catch any smugglers?” She changed the topic, unconcerned that she was down a fruit.

    “Yup.”

    “At the airship dock?”

    “Sometimes.”

    “Was it dangerous?” As quickly as her dining partner could volley away the questions, she served up more.

    “Yup, sometimes. I still have some friends in the crew down there. I could tell you all about how it is in real life. It's different to how it is in that book, I can tell you that much.”

    Moonport was a famous Radasanthian novel written in the last century. The subject matter was smuggling and high adventure!

    “Oh, that'd be great, I wanna know eeeverything!”

    “Anything to help keep your mind off that fucken jhoist head you're seeing.” Robby rubbed his forehead. His globe of bouncy curls winked at the truth of his soft persona; to his credit, he saw Rhinta as a good kid on the wrong path.

    “We broke up.”

    “Yeah, I heard but-”

    Rhinta bit her tongue in the face of another condescending old man telling her what's best. “But nothing! Are you going to tell me about real life smuggling or not?”

    “Sure, sure. Smugglers it is then.”




    Gentle voodoo flushed luminescent colours through the K-Mon Dojo's sign, the highlight of Yannsen Street. In reality, it wasn't a dojo at all, it was a restaurant. Somebody's memory maintained there had once been a martial arts school there. The place was a short rain shower from the offices of Kerlon and Company, where Rhinta Reitinro had spent the day at work. Inside, the young woman's affinity for brown and grey fabric struck a discord with the discount magnificence of the restaurant's faux foreign décor. Two drinks drowned in drips, awash with more than a minute's condensation. She was alone, but insisted to her waiter that her dining partner was about to arrive.

    CLANG! CRANG! BANG!

    “Oh my gods!”

    Forehead and palm met with blushed embarrassment the second Rhinta jerked around to see what the noise was. Calvino had arrived in typically disappointing fashion. A waitress was on the floor, having taken the worst of the exchange. She took on the role of victim in a dreadful murder scene, and the tasty red sauce filled in for blood.

    “Wow, man. Oh, man. I'm so sorry.”

    Calvino's faculties were partially absent due to a pre-meal indulgence of his insidious substance dependency. He was young, but his moderately handsome features were pocked with discs of thick red skin, each marbled with calcified lines. The centre of the pockmarks were brown, soft, and infected. The dishevelled fellow was suffering from a sexually-transmitted disease known as the jhoist. Out of embarassment, he held his hand over his cheeks, trying to conceal as much as the disfigurement as he could.

    “Let me help you,” he slurred, with his hand extended.

    Looking up at his marred face, the waitress used her good manners to hide her repulsion. She wisely bypassed his assistance and jumped to her feet with a quick “I'm fine, it's no big deal at all!” The truth was that it would, obviously, be the moment that ruined her day. Her blouse would never show the purity of brilliant white again.

    The moment claimed Rhinta's day as well; she wished it away with her flicking wrist as she mouthed “over here” dramatically. Her wagging hand flailed for his attention, and as he started over rubber necking patrons snapped back, lean allocation of self-awareness settling in.

    “As if my face wasn't bad enough,” he grumbled. “They're all staring extra hard. Fuck.” As much as they were taken by his affliction, they were even more concerned by his streetwise kerchief, rolled into a narrow headband.

    “Oh, hush. Come on, just sit down and relax. Nobody is looking at you.” Rhinta was looking at him, though. Her sweet blue eyes, the same as the old man's, flashed with sympathy. Thin and curlies grew from hard-to-reach shaving spots; whether the butcher job he did with the razor that morning came from his man-child incompetence or the pain of his skin condition was unclear.

    “Alright, alright, man,” he slid into the solid seat opposite her. Calvino Celso wore an ensemble of his own ineptitude, shirt stained with food and sweat. In spite of the almost formal setting, he still wore the blue and yellow colours of the Boca Boys.

    “It's really good to see you, Cal. I'm glad you could make it.”

    “Hey, I know. It's good you're alright, Rhint. You're doing good, really good. I'm glad.”

    “Yeah. Work's going well.” She hated it.

    “That's good, yeah.” He slid a fingernail under the crusty rim of a pockmark under his chin.

    “Are you ready to order?” The waiter appeared suddenly.

    K-Mon's staff were waistcoated into anonymity; they wore black on grey, with even greyer trimmings. The interjector's only remarkable feature was robbing the bow-tie of its inherent charm. For a thousand gold, Rhinta wouldn't have been able to pick the man out of a line up; even his voice adhered to the rule of the nondescript.

    “You go first,” offered Rhint. “I'm still picking if that's okay?”

    “Ah, yeah, man, ahm.” Calvino was a menu pointer. “This one here. I can't pronounce that.”

    “The anubih adnaro? Got it, no worries!” The waiter nodded, and smiled. “And how about for you, ma'am?”

    Rhinta replied with confidence, “I would like the nikiw nikasot nikij.” Her pronunciation was very close.

    “Ah, you got it right—most people don't,” laughed the waiter, with a mind for tips. “I'll put that in for you right away.”

    As soon as the waiter was clear of eavesdropping range, Rhinta plunged into a difficult topic, “Are the Bocas giving you your medicine? You seem like you're itching more than usual.”

    “You know how they are, they give me enough to keep me around,” Cal spoke quietly and defensively.

    “And you swear you don't know where you caught it?” Her sullen glower emphasised a critical need for honesty.

    “I swear, Rhint. I've never been with anybody but you.” In his mind he knew it was true, but Calvino accepted how frail his credibility was.

    “Well, people say the Bocas infect you so they can keep you stuck with them,” she explained, “And I think that's exactly what happened to you, Cal.”

    “People say that, yeah. But Dice is like a brother to me, he'd never do that. I must'a caught it off a greasy toilet seat or somethin'.”

    “You know, I was speaking to Dr. Oriz. And she told me that a large enough dose in one go and you knock it out!”

    “A dose that big costs fucken thousands, Rhint. Man, I can't expect Dice to foot that bill for me. The stuff's worth too much on the street.”

    “Well, look, I might be able to help you out. I've got something I'm working on, okay? So just don't do anything stupid with the Bocas, okay? Okay. Promise me.”

    That tender sentiment for an ex-lover blew a silence across the dinner table. Their ripe youth fell from the same tree, hers—they said—blossomed, and his went stale. Yet, nothing could upend their roots. A life on the rails of a wintry rock in the northern ocean made love, especially that bleak love, a rare and essential relief. In that moment, they felt seawater in their lungs.

    The waiter spilled Cal's beans when he put the plate down.

    “Oops! Let me get you some more!”

    “No, it's just a few that spilled, man. Don't worry about it. I'm gonna tip you good, don't sweat it!” Calvino wasn't a bad guy; he just had rough edges.

    Rhinta snorted at her ex's handling of the awkward incident. “Wow, this looks really good,” she said of the exotic dinner plate that appeared in front of her. The meal came with two boiled eggs, and fitting with custom, they were still in their shells; neither shell had a freckle on it.

    When the waiter left, Calvino resumed the conversation. “Rhint, I know you think I can't do it, but man, I can fix this myself,” he sniffed between the words. “There's no legit way you can get that stuff. So just, fuck, man. Just, fucken, don't you do anything stupid for me.”




    The sleet had finally stopped. The moon overhead was an anxious observer, its ethereal vitality shrouded by the passing clouds, and the stars were a dream never so distant. Rhinta pulled her oversized coat tight around her to fend away the bristling cold, but the thin soles of her shoes let through the bite of midnight cobbles. Her pace through Radasanth's maze of broadways and back alleys was a stride shy of a run.

    Rhinta was on Jarrek Street when the pavement beneath began to shake, and a clay roof tile smashed at her feet; she was a little rabbit, fearfully still at the belly end of a cage trap. Her brown eyes flicked up to the sky to see what cataclysm was upon her, but despite the frightening cacophony she witnessed a wonder of the modern world. The moon's intermittent glow was eclipsed entirely by the dreadful vision of an Imperial skynought. The giant balloon was bound with bands of steel, and carried an ironclad hull, and a deck loaded with pivoting cannons. She was a flying fort of magic and steam, a marauding queen with no claim to her aerial queendom.

    After that surprise subsided, the young adventurer knew she was close to the prize. This was the night the delivery came in, and she knew the faces that would be picking it up through her association with Calvino. With a puff onto her chilly palms, she plunged into the coming anxiety for just the murmur of salvation. The main entrance to the multi-purpose harbour was down the street, up around the bend and along a little way.

    Cold midnight rushed over her as she shed her outer coat and stuffed it into a side alley, hoping to retrieve it later. Underneath the coat was her dad's ridiculously oversized work gear. “They'll never believe this,” she muttered, but she had to try it anyway. The clothes weren't a good fit for her frame, but they were a good fit for a work site.

    Her back was straight, her eyes forward, and her stride purposeful. She walked across the work line and onto the approach. Even though it was the middle of the night, the place was still turbulent with tasks in the heat of completion. Beside her, the clip-clop of a draught horse flicked feces onto her borrowed boots, and the orders that billowed from bosses sent labourers to meet the empty wagon with casks and crates. Capitalism, it was alive and well under Imperialist rule!

    She strode stiffly into the dock's primary structure; the building's industrial bustle and cogwheel complexity swallowed her thoughts. It was bizarre even in its time; an intricate arrangement of steel girders pushed a docking platform into the sky, and cargo and workers travelled between the upper and lower sections via steam powered elevators. Airships docked at the top section. Rhinta huddled in her disguise beneath that main platform, mixing readily with the dockers in their plain overcoats.

    Eavesdropping was the crux of her madcap plan, so she started to listen to the loud-mouthed worker's to-and-fro.

    “It's cuz of that fucking 'pizza' that people underneath are sufferin'!” declared a gruff worker with an amputated arm.

    She kept going, walking as close as she could without looking more suspicious than she already did, ears perked for any familiar name.

    “Did you send the stuff up for Mr. Dice?” It was a forewoman; she mentioned a name Rhinta recognised.

    The freckled intruder pulled up and began to tinker with with a fortunately broken valve. She had no idea how to fix it, but her endeavour carried the earnest authenticity of her true goal.

    “Yes, ma'am,” was the reply, “Up elevator B1!”

    “Yes!” she thought. Rhinta let the valve clang down against the pipe, and began looking for a sequence in the elevator numbering system. She was at C, and D was in front of that, so B had to be behind her. The wild adventurer flipped on her heels and indulged in the pleasure of a skipped heartbeat when she spotted and approached the B1 elevator.

    A cracking chorus of adolescent shovel-boys broke out at her as she got close. They were called shovel-boys because they fed coal into the fireboxes that drove steam into the pistons that powered the elevators. Every eager boy was asking the same question of the young woman, “Miss? Miss? Miss? Going up?”

    “Ahm, yes. Yes, please.” Rhinta was surprised at how easy an adventure could be, it was her first.

    A sudden jolt and she was on her way up.

    At the top, she froze the second she stepped off and onto the wind-whipped dock.

    “Hey! Kid! What the fuck are you doing here?!” A pair of folded arms goose-stepped their authority in her direction.

    “Oh, I'm just-”

    “Where's your helmet? You're not supposed to be up here without proper headgear!” Luckily, the angry man had cut her off before she could incriminate herself. “Here, borrow this one—leave it at my office at the end of your shift.”

    "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

    "And get a better fitting overalls, you don't want your shit trapped in the fucking machinery. We're thirty days without an accident, don't fuck it up, fucker.”

    “Aye, sir!" She jammed the helmet onto the bounce of her ponytail, and continued with growing purpose.

    Left and right, her gaze snapped back and forth over the broad view in search of a sight. Being so close to success caused her façade tp falter, she was driven only to find what she came for: jhoistfew mixture, the valuable treatment for Cal's awful sickness.

    Trouble and opportunity came in the form of a crew of Boca Boys. They were six guys deep and soldiering in their full colours; they sauntered out of an opposing elevator shaft. Somebody important, a better dressed man, was hidden at the centre of their group. She wondered if it was him, Dice. Yes, they were flanking Dice. A wiry haired redhead, he was the commissioner for the combined interests of Radasanth's major crime families. He was unassuming in all aspects of life. His build took two takes to notice; he hid his strength beneath simple suits fitted for that purpose. The Boca Boys were rungs below the crime boss, but muscle was muscle.

    Rhinta had to watch and hide her face at the same time. Ten yards might have been enough that none of them would recognise her as their boy Calvino's ex, but t]hat risk was too much to take. To remedy her recognisability, she smeared oil from the earlier broken valve across her cheeks, and pulled her helmet down a touch.

    “This the stuff?” Dice slapped a small crate labelled “BANANAS”.

    “Ahm, yes, Mr. Dice. Our mutual friend said to send his regards to yourself and your boss in the city,” replied Sumaes, a lowly skysailor whose anxiety was evident. The well-uniformed rookie had been tasked with taking the fall should the corrupt operation be uncovered by the Imperial government.

    “Good doing business wid'ya, buddy.” As Dice thanked the docker for his assistance, an entourage goon shoved a drawstring pouch into the shaky skysailor's hand.

    “Thanks, he'll be pleased to see this!” said Sumaes, delighted that his pants had gone unsoiled.

    “I'm sure he will. Send Nyadir my regards." Dice went to shake the sailor's hand, but glowered at the grimy sight of a filthy mitt.

    “Sorry...” the pitch of his voice went up several degrees.

    “Forget about it. Just make sure this crate and its contents are loaded onto our wagon downstairs, alright?”

    “Yessir, absolutely.” The nodding was effervescent.

    Dice and his boys walked off and settled at the elevator entrance when Sumaes drew the string on the pouch double tight and made off to deliver the bounty to the half-elf. “Argh, what if I lose it between here and there,” he thought to himself as the rest of the world was reduced to a bit-part in the money's grand debut.

    The gangsters got in the elevator.

    Sumaes was returning to the boss.

    Rhinta took her chance. She burst out for the crate, and soon shuffled to a stop with a glisten to her forehead. A few heads made the turn, but apathy was a powerful sedative in a resentful workplace. It was closed with nothing but draw latches. “Oh my gods, it's not locked!” she fizzed, barely keeping a cap on her ecstasy.

    At first all she found was packing straw. Seconds spilled out like days ahead of her, "I have to find it, I have to find it!" At the bottom of a whole crate she uncovered the key to regaining her old life: a small vial of powder. The glass tube felt so precious. She dragged her bag off her shoulder and pulled out the porcelain elephant from the kitchen table; it was the perfect size to hide the medicine. Rhinta wondered what her mother would say to her about this, but sentimentality called for time she didn't have.

    "Oh god, what- Hey you!"

    It was Sumaes returning after remembering he hadn't secured the important cargo before leaving. She ran for a chute linking the top and the bottom of the airdock.

    "NO-Fuuuuck!"

    Rhinta took a thick breath; the air was peppered with the chemical they sent down the slide. With a cough, a splutter and one last glance at Sumaes as he bumbled towards her, she hopped into the tunnel and slid into an all action escape.
    Last edited by Gum do Mugu; 09-30-2017 at 11:45 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Ebivoulya's Avatar

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    His head snapped back from a bare fist, and Sumaes slumped between two splintered crates. The blurry darkness of a musty warehouse was broken by a looming figure pulling back on a steel-knuckled leather glove. Arms from above righted the sailor as he straightened his nose, and the gloved man handed off the bag of coins and mentioned Dulan; the room thinned out. Someone offered Sumaes a dirty rag, which he used to wipe his face, but when his eyes cleared all he saw were steel knuckles. He kept his feet this time, though. When the lad reached a shaking hand up to his shattered nose, he was interrupted.

    "Leave it."

    The warm drip down his chin worried him more than the pain, there sure was a lot of it, but he knew enough to keep quiet. The dark warehouse swirled in silence for several seconds, then the blurry figure in front of him raised one indistinct arm. "How many fingers?" The young sailor's heart beat quickly. He thought for a moment about guessing, but realized he wasn't answering the question he thought he was. "One," he said shakily, and the large man immediately asked which one. He couldn't help but say "The middle one" as flat as he could. The blur cracked a broad grin.

    "If you insist."

    A swift kick bent his knees as someone grabbed his arm, and hands stretched from the woodwork to hold him down while his fingers were spread atop a dusty crate. He tried not to struggle, but he was breathing hard and fast for many long moments, just waiting for- pain lanced up his arm, and the throbbing splinter in that finger disappeared. The bile rose, but he held it down, unlike his sharp groans. The looming man in leather vest seemed satisfied, though, idly playing with... someone else's finger while he sheathed his strange green dagger. A few unheard words later, and shaking Sumaes was being dragged out of the room, covered in blood and clutching his hand.

    The single glowing lantern flickered in silence as the last of the muscle left, and the gloved half-elf took a moment to savor the severed end of the sailor's finger. The bitter black powder the lad had been handling was an interesting addition to the familiar taste of warm blood, and the soft porous texture of bone. It wasn't long before he was nibbling away at it, as one steel-toed boot tapped impatiently. That anyone would dare to steal from him, to disrupt his business...the smuggler was less than pleased. A snack would have to distract him for now; just thinking of it strained his composure. Sumaes had taken his little game well, at least. Despite his incompetence, the lad had a bit of grit to him, and he'd still be able to handle a blade. More pressing was the girl, and how easily she had slipped into the place; he had given the skydock too much credit, it seems. At least the lad had been keen enough to notice her slim ankles, and the sound of her cough.

    What she stole told the tale on its own. The rumors of those disease-ridden thugs were everywhere; clever idea, really. Those two facts made her most likely to be the girlfriend of one of the gang members. She could've been a professional, but getting noticed at all, and the haphazard escape, both suggested otherwise. He'd already sent Dulan to talk to Dice, the list couldn't be that long if descriptions of the disease were accurate. Scum like that gathered like pools in all the lowest areas. Once they found the one laden thickest with them, the only thing left was to wade in and see who ran, maybe cut a few up; only if strictly necessary. A dry tongue found lips still moist with coppery dew, and the sapphire eyes of the swordsman returned to the succulent morsel at hand.

    The door opened to a stout man of a height with the smuggler, and with short brown hair. A grimace wormed its way onto the man's face, but he quietly closed the door as his employer smirked. "You'd have liked the lad; he picked the middle one," the dark-haired man said, waving the half-eaten finger as proof. His associate replied with a faint smile as he began to shuffle through documents, and the smuggler grimaced to see his levity brushed off so effectively. It was already difficult enough to restrain himself, the dick could at least play along. "Maybe I should take one of yours," the vested half-elf said quietly, "for not going yourself." The steeled toe stopped tapping for a few long seconds, but the stocky man in long brown sleeves quietly continued rustling through yellowing papers; he knew his worth, if not his place. Soon the swordsman sighed in disappointment as he returned to his snack.

    "I've sent several of the boys out already," Dulan said with a gruff voice.

    Bone crunched between clenched teeth, and the air grew cold and still. The brown eyes of the stocky man met the sharp blue eyes of his employer. "I thought we wanted to come back here," he said calmly, and the smuggler replied with "Someone is going to sate me; if not her, then maybe you're offering?" The other man returned to shuffling pages as he replied. "As long as it's just her..." The silence stretched for a moment after that, until the long-haired swordsman popped the rest of the finger into his mouth and crunched through it quickly- the nail he pulled out, after getting it caught between his teeth. It was barely an appetizer; the coming meal left his mouth watering. The need was strong, but this contract was too lucrative to lose, so he did not linger long on it; there was work to be done first.

    The warped wooden door opened again, and the two young sailors who entered talked quietly with Dulan for a long moment. "Do we have a likely location?" the gloved smuggler asked with interest once the two finished giving their hushed report. Their furtive glances only kindled his ire, little shit-stains waiting to be stomped, but he'd already maimed one of the man's subordinates tonight. It was never easy to keep himself in check, but that had been the agreement between them, and memories of hours looking through papers led him to keep the man around. "A few, but it won't take long to clear the small ones," the stocky Dulan replied, and his men looked between the two with growing dread before one of them said "We'll get the airship ready to launch."

    They left without another word, and the long-sleeved secretary closed the leather folder he had been reading to grimace at the blood-stained lips of his employer. Just as he opened his mouth the slimmer man preempted him. "No fucking entourage this time; just you and me. You can use runners if you need to." The eyebrow of the stocky man twitched, and he remained silent for a moment. As he made up his mind and his brow furrowed, though, the sharp sapphire eyes of the smuggler flickered red along the edges of the iris. "Fine," the gravelly Dulan replied, and the swordsman nodded, looking down at the thick crimson puddle with a satisfied smile. That shore would stretch broad tonight.
    Last edited by Ebivoulya; 10-07-2017 at 03:57 AM.

  3. #3
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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Corone

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    News of the night's events ran the conduits; the streets had a way of streaming information towards the powerful. "Dice, you are so very dearly, indubitably, critically important to me." Senator Lucas Fordstein showed his back to his guest; instead, the high-rise panorama of Radasanth's midnight dynamism held his focus. Between thumb and forefinger, the aging politician twirled the extremities of his ornate moustache. "Considering the unshakable faith I show in your alleged acumen, perhaps you can enlighten me as to why the books show a payment made, and yet nothing has been entered into the inventory log?" Fordstein turned to face Dice and tossed a ledger, sliding it across the long desk between the two men.

    Dice pawed the notebook, thumbing through the pages pointlessly. He gave a tentative response with a loose shrug, "Well, ya see, the shit got taken." That was a costly truth presented inadequately. Windows, stretching from the baseboard to the ceiling tiles, cast their meeting before the amber glow of a city fighting against the dark. "Look," he said while fidgeting with his gold wristwatch, "ya gotta understand, it's already bein' taken care of. As we speak." Dice slid his suit jacket over the back of one of four chairs positioned at the desk.

    "I must protest. In spite of your stellar illumination, I remain woefully obtuse." The senator expressed his disappointment by pairing sharp sarcasm with wide eyelids. "You say it's being taken care of." The senator's words came to an angry crescendo, "Am I to believe you have delegated this precarious task to one of your-"

    "No, no, no. No, you got it all wrong, chief." Dice slouched into the chair, the scrape of the legs echoing around the commodious office. "My boys down at the dock say the half-elf's got his dick hard for it, he's doing it." Fatigued by the night's complications, he let his palm take the growing weight of his sweaty forehead. "The stuff went missing right when we were making the exchange, ya see. I guess I coulda took the clean up job, or he coulda took the clean up job."

    "Hmm," purred Fordstein, smitten by the notion of such moxie. He planted his hands on the desk and leaned into the sunken gangster, asking, "And what of his gruesome reputation?" Arousal, effeminate in nature, was betrayed by the perk of his voice. Dice looked up and nodded across the walnut veneer, "He's fucken worse than his reputation." The senator slipped his slight frame into the second of the four seats at the table. "Well, that's delightful, isn't it?" he gushed. Monetary gain was at stake, but that concern became secondary; at times, talent could be priceless. "With a slice of good fortune," he continued, "we might recruit another member of our little team here."

    The deadlatch to the office door clicked when the handle dipped. "Speaking of the team," chimed the senator. Dice ignored the door and instead pressed his hand on the bounce of his wiry hair—the friction between his skin and his hair settled his nerves after having failed the boss. Fordstein appreciated aptitude, and he went to great lengths to keep his underlings chasing approval. The figure darkening the doorway, however, was yet to truly fall under his control. "Are you so provincial that you don't know it's frightfully rude to stand in a doorway. Come and have a seat with us, won't you?"

    Gum do Mugu, student of Do U, rattled and creaked into the room; the bones, leather and feathers of his Xangu attire were an unspoiled statement. "I have your prize, Mr. Fordstein." While approaching the meeting table, the Dheathain shaman revealed a hazel switch; three shrunken heads were skewered by the repurposed stem. Bending his gaunt figure and revealing his jagged ribcage, the middle-aged shaman occupied the third seat while he placed the shrivelled heads beside the senator's neat ledger. Examining the gift, the senator grimaced at the sight of the deceased's eye sockets; they were stitched shut. "Did you save the eyes?" In response, Gum handed over a jar of vinegar, floating in which were three pairs of lifeless eyeballs. "Ah, the perfect gift for our mongrel friend. I'm sure he'll enjoy these. At least some of my men can add to my inventory," Fordstein quipped with a queer nod in the direction of Dice. Powerful men knew how to diminish the importance of those around them. Emasculated—tsk—the streetwise mobster sucked his teeth. "Who were those goons anyway?" begged Dice, shifting under the senator's pressure. "Castigars," came the cut of the senator. "Well, we believe they were Castigars. Intelligence can never be a hundred percent, you know."

    A black feather twisted in the air, it was barely visible out the corner of Gum's eye. So he turned. There, perched on the backrest of the fourth seat, was a vision of the three legged crow. The bird cawed at him, and its call echoed like a dream. "The gods are with us," said Gum aloud, sharing the crux of his vision with those unable to see. The Xangu people believed the three legged crow was a meaningful omen, one that suggested the favour and proximity of the Pantheon. After a blink, the vision was gone. "Quite," mocked Senator Fordstein, before adjusting from his initial response, "Gum, excuse me. I truly value your unique insight." Narrow and unwavering, the shaman's weary eyes remained sullen.

    "This situation with the jhoistfew," pondered Fordstein, "it has the feel of something significant. I'll need all my boys working together if something happens. Mr. Dice and Mr. Gum, indeed, you will make a precious pair." Gum's persistent scowl was drawn to a sudden trinket box, the senator had seemingly produced the container from thin air. He removed the lid and presented a pair of shield cut crystals. "As this thing inevitably unravels, I want to be able to contact both of you, directly." As he spoke, he gave both Dice and Gum a crystal each. "They're qōde'ks. With these very expensive devices, we will be free to confabulate across any distance. Instantaneously!"
    Last edited by Gum do Mugu; 10-06-2017 at 09:38 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinsou Vaan Osiris View Post
    Less scripted shit and more classic battling.
    Be still, my beating heart.

  4. #4
    Junior Member

    EXP: 21,246, Level: 6
    Level completed: 18%, EXP required for next Level: 5,754
    Level completed: 18%,
    EXP required for next Level: 5,754


    Ebivoulya's Avatar

    GP
    715
    AP
    94
    Name
    Nyadir D'Var
    Age
    26
    Race
    Half-Elf
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone

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    "These runners are a pain in the ass."

    Nearly ten minutes had withered away in the grime and piss of a gritty alley while the two men waited. The stocky secretary insisted on coordinating with the other groups he had sent out. While the half-elf could see the sense of it, he suspected the man just wanted more witnesses to dissuade him from sinking any further into the depths of depravity than was necessary. The stars seemed out of place in the city, the noxious clouds of industrious Ettermire still coloring the swordsman's suppositions. The skittering of a snot-nosed lad brought the madman's mind back to the present in relief; the others were finally in position. Short-haired Dulan unclasped a heavy cudgel from his belt, and spoke as the half-elf drew his broad blade with a smile.

    "Let's make this quick."

    With the nest enclosed, the cats prowled in among all the familiar symptoms of a slum. Rotting boards huddled together as ramshackle huts, real buildings lay abandoned and collapsed, and the whole place scurried with spineless rats in tattered rags. Urchins peered out from dark corners with gaunt faces, gripping the trash they played with; little bastards were better off corpses. Dulan started loudly asking about the girl, and most of the living waste stared in blank confusion. The sounds of struggle echoed from the dingy edges of few scattered fires, and soon the rest of the pack dragged out the runners. The sky-sailors all sported kerchiefs of blue and black tied around the left arm, despite their disparate attire and armament. The suspects were gathered into a line, and the half-elf sheathed his blade in favor of a more personal touch.

    "Your lives are worth nothing compared to what she stole. Tell us something useful, and you can keep them."

    Their expressions made for a fascinating show, grimy faces taut and brows furrowing as they tried to think of something to offer. Some trembled under that cold gaze, while others nervously sought salvation in shaded alleys. One set of eyes stared with silent hate, and up to them stepped the smiling smuggler. A swift backhand stopped the older man from spitting on his captor, and dropped a few teeth to the grimy cobbles as well. When those stubborn brown eyes rose again with hate to glare, they quivered to find the green tint of a strange dagger hovering sharp and close. The half-elf's face was flat, with icy eyes cutting even deeper, and he calmly spread the man's eyelids with a practiced hand. The pockmarked thug didn't even struggle against the sky-sailor holding him.

    "I swear I don-"

    The knife dipped in alongside the eyeball, and tilted to the side to pop it out of the socket. The blade pulled upward and sliced the nerve, and the orb dropped into a gloved hand. It was all so quick and clean, the thug didn't start screaming until he saw the grinning smuggler licking his eyeball. One of the pieces of garbage lined up even soiled themselves; weakness was disgusting in all its forms. The half-elf was satisfied that none of Dulan's boys vomited or fainted this time, and was about to order the trash taken out when one of them spoke up. The stuttering young girl had to yell to be heard over old 'blind-spot.'

    "Um, I saw a girl r-running! S-She was wearing d-dock-worker's gear!"

    Despite his initial skepticism, she seemed too terrified to lie well, so the smuggler asked her about a few extra details, and they added up. At least the things weren't all useless; he allowed her to escort the one-eyed man elsewhere with the rest of them. The lads looked relieved, but the smuggler focused on his snack while Dulan sent the boys off to the next location along the road, and crossed off the ones in other directions.

    Teeth pinched the side of the eyeball to peel off the clear membrane covering it, piled slick and sweet into one cheek for later. The orb went in afterward, a swift bite releasing the acrid juices within, but a few chews of the spongy thing mingled in a fatty flavor. The madman savored it as he strolled back out to the road with his stoic secretary. Another lad ran off with message in hand, and the two men stalked down the street. It was only a matter of time until the main course.

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