Aranor--The Hunters

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Original poster
Veterans of the recent War, or others skilled in Combat, wishing to form a party in answer to the King of Aranor's call. Profits from journeys to be shared equally among the group.
Come to the tavern on Draik Street, not long after sunset...
look for Naieda.

A Neshobe was sitting at a round table near the center of the tavern, her blue tail hanging limply behind her through the center hole in the rail-backed chair. Her eyes, expressionless and a few shades lighter than a clear day's sky, looked over the small group seated before her. It was a few hours past sunset, and many of the tavern's more moderate regulars had already left. This group had slowly trickled in over the past few hours, each defining their own meaning of 'not long'. And for the first time since sitting down, she spoke to them.

"I am Naieda. I take it you are all here in response to this?" She unfolded held up a copy of the ad, which had been in a pocket of her pants. Most either nodded or gave some other form of assent, with the exception of a rowdy-looking dwarf sitting next to her.

"Lass, I ain' here for that! Ye can' make me move, either! I was here first--"
Naieda gently laid a hand on the dwarf's shoulder, looking into his eyes with the same lack of expression. He looked ready to jump at her at first, but a slight blue glow briefly surrounded the area of contact between her hand and his shoulder, and he visibly calmed down. "Sir dwarf," she said bluntly and carefully, "are you aware the seats nearer the bartender are long since open? Certainly you wouldn't be interested in this business anyway." Looking around himself for the first time since sitting down, the dwarf noticed she was correct, and hopped up and ambled off.

Looking back at the group, the Neshobe made a vague gesture with a hand before letting it fall back to her side. "Introduce yourselves, please."

((OOC Here))
"I am Osiris Feelek," the old man began. His eyes stared straight ahead, though his head turned to face all those present. He was currently using his powerful hearing to listen to the heartbeats of those around him. He had a detailed view of everyone present, from the inside out.
"I want to apologize again for being so late," he added.
"It's no worry, Osiris," The Neshobe replied.
"I feel I should explain, anyway. The woman I came in here with is named Salya. And she just picked that dwarf's pocket. Salya?" The red-blond haired woman cast Osiris a furious expression as she handed over the dwarf's money bag.
"I apologize, for her as well. I thought it would do her some good bringing her to fight alongside such great warriors as I'm sure you are. Know that she will be my responsibility, and I assure you that this" - he jestured to the change purse he held - "will not continue."
"Only because I can't get away with it," she muttered to herself.
"I heard that. Do you want something to drink?" he asked her, not unkindly. "I have to go over to the bartender anyway to return this."
Although barely a whisper, he heard her mutter "pint of ale"
"Well," Raund pushed himself to his feet, gesturing with his hat. "I'll join you for that drink. 'Name's Raund, and I'll confess I'm here for the reward. I'm a hunter by trade- you need the help, I could use the business. If any one's short on equipment I have some extra gear you can go through."


Outside in a waiting cart piled with camping supplies, old armor and weapons, mostly in need of repair, Kosche curled his tail tighter under the hide tarpulan and leaned back against the front bench. It was just like Garreth to take all night and leave him out in the cold. Not that it was so bad, it was only mid summer, it wouldn't be getting too chill for another couple months.

The horse made an odd nickering sound at a passing dog and Kosche sat up to lean over the side, folding his arms under his chin to watch the animal sniff around the water trough for something. It was an old, scruffy looking feral- half starved, Kosche could count it's ribs even in the dark.

He thought about running away. Every bruise he swore was going to be the last one, he could make it on his own- but not without half the junk in this cart and he doubted he could get far enough to escape the brand of thief even if he could elude Garreth for any length of time. And he had too many strikes on his record just... just existing.

The dog padded over to sniff around the cart and Kosche pulled a bit of preserved sausage out of a ruck sack and dangled it over the side.
The one named Raund interested Osiris. At least he was honest of his intentions. His heart rate had remained steady through his words.
He sent out an inaudible high-pitched sound to get a better "look" at Raund. He noticed that he possessed a broadsword and a bow. But no arrows? Why the bow?
"I'll get that drink for you," he said kindly. "What would you like?
Raund was interupted before he could answer. Salya had questions of her own:
"You're a hunter? How much does that pay?"
Naieda listened calmly to the introductions of the few who had come in, and made her own assessments. "It's no worry" she had told Osiris, offhand...her mind had been busy making calculations.

Salya was quick. One could only hope she could slice a monster as quickly and unnoticeably as take a purse. It was evident her experience was from the city..her movements were more visible with less of a crowd.
Raund seemed strong, and fairly experienced. He made his living as a hunter, so he should know how to handle monsters. As well, if they encountered hostile people, he didn't seem the type to hesitate.
Osiris was particularly interesting. He was blind, but could 'see' Salya's movements. He had participated in the war...something Naieda gave credit for.

Naieda's ears jumped slightly, a brief wincing motion. Her thoughts had been interrupted by a quiet, jarring noise. "Osiris...I can hear that. It grates a little bit," she stated in a calm, matter-of-fact monotone. "You are all aware, I take it, that profits are to be shared equally?"

Suddenly, the dog stopped its pursuance of food. It gave a gasping bark, then ran whimpering away, followed by a small housecat. Mewing, the cat jumped nimbly into the cart, looking up at Kozche's face. It was followed by a young man's voice.
"Gretchen? Where are you?" The cat turned its head sideways, almost backwards, mewing again. "I know," answered the voice, as if he understood it to be speaking, "but there'll be plenty of time for that later. We have important business to attend to, remember?" The cat turned around and hissed a brief, quiet complaint before darting out the cart, as quietly and swiftly as it had come.

After a moment, the dog was back.

((Note: The guy outside is a plot-driven NPC. He won't be around terribly often.))
"I'm sorry, Naieda. I wasn't aware anyone else could hear that," Osiris began. "I was just trying to get a better sense of my surroundings. As for the reward? It doesn't have much of an appeal to me. I have all the money I need already."
"Maybe I could have your share, then," Salya mumbled with a smirk. Aloud she said, "How much is a share, anyway?"
"Salya that's just as rude as asking Mr. Raund how much a hunter makes," Osiris said with disapproval. "You're here to make up for your crimes by doing some good deeds, not bask in a mound of gold."
"No, I'm here because you threatened to turn me in if I didn't go with you," she retorted. The lamps around the group suddenly blazed brighter than before. She was letting her anger get the better of her and making sure Osiris knew it.
He looked unimpressed, though he could feel the rise in temperature. He wasn't aware she even had magic. "I didn't threaten you," he said, feeling his own temper rise. He did his best to keep his voice even. "I offered you a choice between coming here and being punished as the law says you should be," he stopped taking a few deep breaths to calm himself down. He concentrated on the sound of his heartbeat until he heard it slow.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I still have to return this," he gestured to the bag of coins he still held. "This conversation is over," he said to Salya, who still looked furious. "And what was it you wanted to drink?" he jestered toward Raund, back to his usual self. "I'm going to see about tea, myself."
Turning slightly towards Salya, Naieda answered the question. It might be good for Raund to know this as well, she thought. "I don't presume to know the exact amounts, as it will be based on what task has been done, but certainly the more difficult and important a task is, the more it is likely to pay..and even more minor tasks should pay each person well with as small a group as this."
"Sounds like a lot of figures," Salya said. She looked over in Osiris's direction. He was busy returning the money to that addle-brained dwarf, so she figured she could speak freely for the moment.
I'm not very good with figures, she thought to herself, all the while looking up into Naieda's stoic eyes. I only know two things; the value of coin, and everyone has their price.
"Oh," Raund waved, taking a seat. "Anything that'll catch fire if you have it." He nodded to Sayla.

"Some men charge more depending on how difficult- or dangerous- a creature is, but the trouble with that is that some people are better at certain beasts than others. But if you can trap the creature you can kill it without damaging the hide-or whatever you're in the market for- too badly, and that will net you a good heavy purse usually. I know it might sounds cruel but the truth is you can end it quicker for the beast if you can catch it before you kill it, instead of traipsing all over creation following a blood trail."


Kosche froze at the first noise, hoping the passing boy wouldn't see him from this angle. The cat hissed at him when he swiped at it with his tail to shoo it from the cart. He couldn't blame it, but he didn't like cats.

The boy passed on, his voice growing more distant and Kosche relaxed. He didn't want anyone too see him- even more than Garreth had said he didn't want Kosche being seen. It would be unavoidable if they were working with a group, but Kosche wasn't about to get hit just to point that out.

The dog wandered back over but Kosche ignored him, slumping back down into the cart and pulling the tarpaulin over his head. His breath warmed the enclosed space and he thought maybe he would just catch a nap hidden in the rough fabric.
Salya smirked at Raund's comment about the fire. It seems he'd noticed her little tantrum with the lights. She looked him over a little more thoroughly. He was handsome to her taste, though a little old for her. His attitude was appealing to her, too. But then she saw Osiris make his way back with the drinks. He'd somehow managed to carry his tea and the two pints of ale flawlessly. He wore a frown after Raund's comments. He didn't approve? Well who cares?

Salya was right. He did not approve. Raund suddenly struck him as cold and, yes, a little cruel. His attitude wouldn't have a very possitive effect on Salya, who he believed could do well on a better path.
"I hope ale is alright with you, Sir Raund," he said with his polite smile back in its accustomed place. He handed the glass to him and the other in front of Salya. He held his hot tea cradled in his hands. He took a sip and felt his body relax.
"You may find this interesting. That dwarf? He was so grateful I 'found' his money that he volunteered to pay for these drinks," he said with a small chuckle.
When he saw Salya's incredulous expression he added, "I didn't have the heart to tell him you snatched it from him."

He had covered for her. At first Salya was moved by the gesture. Then she gave it some more thought. He had made it like her theft had never happened, and would likely do the same to any other thefts she tried! The bastard! He was making her way of living impossible so that she'd have to do things his way! She refused to be changed this way.
She did her best to calm herself down, though she was sure Osiris knew she was anything but calm.
"Thank you, Osiris," she said, but she had no one fooled. The lights burned brighter than ever.
"Such interesting friends you have, Naieda."

The Neshobe looked up, a little bit behind Salya and thus directly in front of her, for the source of the voice. A young man, clean-shaven with green eyes and short, well-brushed, dark brown hair, wearing clothes that seemed vaguely like a nobleman's, and remarkably clean, looked back. He had an irritating, calm smile, and a housecat with dark brown fur was perched comfortably on his shoulder, looking over the group with its slitted eyes. By the expressions and mannerisms of the others, Naieda could see they hadn't noticed him before, either.

She stood up, even with him in height, and showed no expression anywhere except a very slight narrowing of her eyes. "What do you want?"

The cat hissed and jumped off of the man's shoulder, swiftly going the direction opposite Naieda, and as quickly moving out of sight. "Please, don't get up on account of me," he answered, just as cheerfully and politely as before. "Who says I wanted anything? But I'm sure you wouldn't mind introducing me to these fine folk?"
"...Raund, Osiris, Salya. This is Bernard, the human who worked as a messenger for the Cat King during the war." Naieda sat down slowly after saying this, not taking her eyes off of him, but let the others do the rest of the talking.
"Hmm. Sounds like an important job. I had served in the war as well, Bernard," he glanced over at him. "I trained many a successful soldier."

"What about the failures?" Salya interrupted.

"Yes, the failures, too, Salya. Every teacher has a few students who didn't learn. So tell me, Bernard," he said, returning his attention to the visitor. "I'm not one to be saying this, but Naieda doesn't seem to be giving you a very warm welcome. Why is that?"
"Well, warm isn't in her nature. You know what 'Naieda' means in Neshoban, right? Unmoving waters..and the only waters that don't move at all are frozen."
He moved calmly and effortlessly to an empty chair of a nearby table, turning it around to face the party and sitting on it. "Anyway, I have a message from the king." The cat moved back over to him and jumped on his lap, and he began absently stroking its back.
"Which king?"
"Well, the king. Isn't there only one king?"

One could almost hear Naieda wanting to sigh...but she didn't. "As much as I would love to indulge your vagueness, Bernard, these people have gathered here hoping to do work for pay, and the cat king isn't known for being wealthy."
"Knowledge is wealth, you know. But it's really just useful information," he said, smiling. "You can take it or leave it as you want to. There have been rumors of a town not too east far from here finding spiders the size of Gretchen here" (he indicated his cat). "You know normal spiders don't get that big, and where there are children, there's a I'm certain the folk living around there would be most grateful to be rid of such a nuisance."
"Overgrown spiders?" Salya asked. She couldn't believe this. "I thought we were dealing with real monsters, not an infestation problem."

"Now Salya, this could be very serious," Osiris told her. "There's a chance that town could be lost to those spiders, giving them an even larger nesting ground."
He noted the rest of the company's silence. He wished he could read thoughts so he knew if the others felt as he did at this news. His mind was made up to leave as soon as they were able. "You're the hunter, Raund. How fast would we need to leave?"
"Soon as we're ready," said the hunter. "Longer they survive, more little ones they have."
"I am prepared to leave tomorrow, if the rest of you are." The others show the same sentiment--except for Salya, who had been brought in somewhat unwillingly. Bernard rose, Gretchen jumping back onto his shoulder.
"I suppose it's settled then. I have some other business to attend to, so I'll see you again later." On his way out, he paused next to Salya, putting his hand on her shoulder. "Don't bother trying again with me, young miss. You're quite skillful, but I wouldn't have any money to carry even if my pants had pockets, hah!" Smiling, he made his way out.

Once certain the human was out of earshot, Osiris asked again: "What is it about that man that sets you off, anyway?"
"He's just like most Fylenis...they are the best at gathering information, but the worst at distributing it. I would be unsurprised if he was partially one himself. And he loves to pry."



The group had assembled just outside the city's gates. Naieda had taken a slightly rusted short sword and its sheath from Raund's cart as a precaution, now hung against her left side. Raund himself was on his horse pulling the cart, the other three prepared to go on foot.

After a moment, she gave a nod, and began walking, leading the group on their way.
The open road felt good against his feet again. Osiris was sure that he wouldn't be enjoying himself for very long, especially considering their destination. So he thought that now would be a good time to find a little peace. Unfortunately, Salya wasn't having that.
"How far east did that Bernard say this town was?" she asked him.
"Not far. I think we should be there in a day or so," he answered. "Then, maybe after we've finished there, we can return to the city and you can pay off that debt you owe," he added in a hushed voice.
Salya looked away from Osiris, feeling just a little embarassed. She really wished he hadn't been there last night; when those street rats had come to collect.

It was just after they departed from the meeting. Salya had no place to stay, so she grudgingly agreed to spend the night in an inn Osiris was staying at. That's when the two of them walked out of a nearby alley. One was rather short and round, with a curved sword hooked over his back. He had a bald had and a rough stubble of beard. His clothes were the same dirt brown as his companion's.
He was tall, almost gangly. A thin sword hung at one side of his belt, a dagger at the other. His green eyes had a mean glint to them. And so did his disgusting yellow smile.
"Lady Salya Dergrimst," he laughed a little to himself.
"Gordon," she responded, acting unfazed.
"Who's your friend?"
"His name is Osiris Feelek." She kept the answers short and sweet.
"I'm sorry, is there a problem," he just had to interrupt!
"Yeah, the good lady is in a bit of a tight spot and we...uh, come to collect what she owe."
"Well how much does she owe? maybe I can pay it for her," he said. Salya wanted to shout at him to stop messing with her life, but she couldn't bring herself to speak.
"More than you got, old man," the fat one said, shoving him out of the way. They made their way closer to Salya.
"You know, mate, his gracious did say that if she don't have any coin to collect, we just collect her," Gordon said. They took a couple steps closer. Salya drew back, ready to use the knives hidden in her wrists.
"I think we should inspect that which we collect, don't you Gordon?"
"Aye, I think so. Very thouroughly," he agreed.
"I think you two should leave," Osiris said. He had slipped his palm braces on and looked very serious.
"You goin' t' fight us, old man?" the fat one said with an amused smile.
"Oh. It won't be much of a fight," he countered.
The fat one struck at him with his sword. Osiris blocked it instantly. Gordon made at him with his own blade while his back was turned. But was stopped as well. He swung at Osiris's throat, but he ducked, and used his hands to block the other one's attempt at decapitation. He stood back up and it was like the three of them danced. Osiris fluidly blocked each of their blows again and again, only frustrating them more. When the fat one went to thrust Osiris plucked the sword out of his, just missing Gordon's neck, and swung the sword around. He was so distracted by the sword that the fat man didn't even see the foot that knocked him in the head and onto the ground.
Gordon now swung at him, only to blocked by his companion's sword. Osiris spun around, cutting Gordon's palm and knocking his sword out of his hand. In the same move, he grabbed the falling blade and swung the two at the lean man, stopping a hair from his neck.
"I think you two should leave," he repeated. And just like that, they retreated back into the alley they came from.

"Um, Osiris? Can we not mention that to anyone?" she asked.
"No worries. Not a breath from me," he said with his usual polite smile. "Don't expect me to do it again," he added. "I'm well aware you can fight your own battles."