Autumn by the River

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  1. Outskirts of Edeur

    Three separate wagons charted their way down a worn out road, pacing through a forest towards a place not yet visible. Different markings adorned the sides of each vehicle, different accents came from each driver, but circumstance had put them all upon the same road. Traveling in packs had become the only reliable means of reaching one's destination in the country, and the haunting remains of battered down carts and smashed-in crates along the border roads stood as solemn proof. For some of their number, the clattering of rickety wooden wheels and the staccato drone of horseshoes had been going without pause for the past few days. The only diversions set out for them on the way had been the perpetual fear of banditry and a few notable members of the group. There had been a stirring among some of the more superstitious soldiers of fortune when someone noticed the plague mask carried by another passenger. Some of the fearful had emigrated to another coach, their spots soon taken by people who cared more for leg room. Of course, the petty divisions that inevitably surfaced while wheeling dozens of mercenaries to their new homes had also crept in. It was doubtless many aboard were mercenaries, at least to the casual observer, because so many of the passengers openly carried arms. Those waiting for an attack even went as far as keeping their scabbards upon their laps for most of the journey. Openly was the essential way to describe their method of travel, as each wagon was piled high with reinforced crates of goods that those looking for a ride had been piled atop. The way they anxiously watched the horizon from on high, the careless might have even mistaken them for brigands themselves. Cloaks and covers sheltered many of the people aboard. The elements had been as sparing as could be expected in a coastal nation. Light rains, made even more mild by the permanently agreeable weather, had so far been the only thing to assail the wayfarers.

    One party not openly toting arms or even covered against the elements was one of the more recent additions. With the last load of supplies brought on for that coach in particular had come aboard two women, one with fair hair and the other dark, clad in the same blue uniform. The destination of the entire group, Edeur, was no secret, and to anyone with more than a passing interest in the city their clothing was the mark of the city's abbey. For a wagon primarily filled with foreign mercenaries, such knowledge was not common, but neither was an interest in the two personnel that sat by the rear car's driver.

    One by one, they rounded another bend in the road. Civilization was too close for ruins and scraps to be left alone, but even within the domain of the city guard there was a conspicuous puncture in the modest wood frame fence isolating the forest from the road. Twin wheel-made tracks faded into the woods, and it did not take an imagination inflamed by days or hours of dangerous travel to conceive of what could have precipitated such poor handling of a vehicle. On the other side, the gentle rush of a nearby river added its voice to the symphony. It was more than a refreshing addition to the uncivilized racket of over a dozen chatting mercenaries and their overworked transportation, it was the surest sign that their trek was coming to an end. The river that drew up alongside the road ran parallel with it straight into Edeur, the place the overwhelming majority of them would be jumping off. The forest around the road, still green despite the growing lateness of the season, slowly tapered off into brush and finally open fields. Finally a smell circulated that did not belong to the horses, mercenaries, and inner forest. Society nudged at every sense, from the thin trails of smoke leeching into the sky to the gentle aroma of cooking fires.

    Edeur was plain to see then, sprawling out on both sides of the river. Timber frame houses composed the outer rings of the town, beautiful structures framed in various hues of wood and built with brick and clay. Some were plastered over and others left their brick filling on prominent display, but uniformity had been lost with modernity in the city's design. Nowhere was such a loss more apparent than the two most visible landmarks of the city center. At one end a clock tower rose into the sky, it's boxy, robust structure bearing a broad face on which time telling hands occasionally clicked. Above it, the openings of a belfry gaped. It was just past midday, which meant it would be a short while before its bells could be heard. Opposing the tower was the slender, shorter spire of what could only be the town's abbey. Little could be said of the gray peak, other than it matched stone construction of the town's oldest buildings, which could be glimpsed only occasionally from the outside. Brick gates rose up over the larger roads that fed into Edeur, though no gates barred passage. A rarity in Lachne, guardsmen could be observed working at the entrance stations. At the sight, some of the more scrupulous warriors began to stow their weaponry, either with their belongings or after the example of a young woman in their midst with a conspicuous bundle of black cloth. It was that security that kept the operations of any faction within the city clandestine. Recruitment happened in taverns, and control was a nebulous thing they fought for without regard for the governor and his skeleton crew of policing soldiers. The most concrete materialization of that was the fourth wagon currently occupying the road, still a ways away from the main group, but stopped by the city guard for processing and admission. As the distance gradually faded away, it became apparent that it was not an equally encumbered wagon but instead a closed carriage. No search could be seen underway, though that offered little relief to drivers with nothing to hide and travelers just looking to be off the road.
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  2. Amidst the caravan of people traveling to Edeur, a figure disguised in a brown cloak walked alongside the horses. This figure was none other than Rashen, the Arrow of Estovet. He had secretly joined the caravan during it's stop at one of the small villages along the roadside, and had spent his time in silence and solitude to avoid drawing any attention to himself. For the most part, it had worked. Everyone had been to busy focusing on themselves or worrying about bandits to really pay any attention to him.

    As the group neared closer and closer to Edeur, Rashen grit his teeth in silent anticipation. If there really was a secret rebellion as the rumors had told, he would become a part of it in order to avenge his family and bring about change. After all, he was only one man, and even with his deadly skill and unmatched talent, he could not take on an entire kingdom by himself. He only prayed that he would be able to find the support he needed to bring the kingdom of Lachne to it's knees...
  3. The ride hadn't been glamorous by any means, and the dull ache within her forehead slowly slipping behind her eye certainly didn't help matters. Every bump in the road, every fall of the horses' feet, and every whispered rumor had done its part in exacerbating the young woman's gradually growing headache. Still, the problem stemmed primarily from the negligible amount of sleep she had managed, and no one had personally bothered her. Sasha had taken a seat near the front of one of the wagons, and had managed to keep to herself for most of the ride. She'd been given a fairly wide berth, likely a result of her appearance, or perhaps because of the lengthy bundle of black cloth that had leaned against her shoulder for their journey's entirety. She'd made a point to observe her fellow passengers, if only to distract herself from the throbbing in her head. A large number were mercenaries; she had learned to identify such people fairly accurately some time ago. Others, though, were a bit harder to place. There had been murmurings of a plague doctor on board, the presence of which seemed to make some of their fellow passengers more than a bit nervous. Sasha was quietly thankful for the man, whoever he was, because his existence had steered conversation away from the odd girl in the corner of the wagon. She had made little in the way of conversation with the others thus far, and this silence had been mutually reciprocated, at least for the most part. Still, she was a bit curious about the reasoning of some of her fellows for taking the journey. The mercenaries were easy; they were here in search of fortune and little else. The others, she reasoned, were probably here for more personal reasons. She, herself, technically fell into the first category, though she felt no kinship with her fellow soldiers of fortune.

    Finally, Edeur had come into view. The young woman's gaze glided along the edge of the city. She was thankful that the ride was nearing its end at last. Noting the city's guard, she double-checked her spear, making sure it was entirely concealed beneath its covering. Covered or no, there was little disguising what she was carrying, though even the smallest attempt at concealment generally met with less apprehension than a naked blade. There was little she could do about the sword at her side, but it could be argued that it existed solely for self defense. She was a bit uncertain of what her first destination would be once they arrived in the city. There were likely many seeking the sort of services she offered, but she had a discerning eye for such jobs. Most hired blades would gladly take whatever was thrown upon their plate, but she liked to keep her options open until she'd decided on the most favorable course of action. If the stories she'd heard were true, she would have plenty of options to choose from in the city. Her eyes turned from the city and back towards those around her, wondering for a moment where they would all end up.
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  4. The wagon's jostling nature along the bumpy and unkempt road left Emily jumpy and nervous throughout most of the ride to Edeur. Thankfully, she had found herself not being bothered by anyone thanks to Fontaine, who sat silently and who seemed entirely unbothered by the bumps in the road. Indeed, he seemed not to even notice that others gave him a wide berth upon noticing the mask hanging off of his bag. The only two that seemed to get his attention at any point during the journey was a woman who remained in the wagon with them, who kept to herself, and a man with a bow who seemed to be moving with great purpose to his every step.

    Upon arriving within Edeur itself, Emily appeared awestruck by the sheer amount of prowess on blatant display in terms of architecture and engineering. Many of these structures eluded her grasp on how they were even built, though her awe quickly faded when she heard the sound of Fontaine pulling his mask off of his bag and slipping it onto his face. "Don't you find that uncomfortable?" Emily asked as Fontaine shrugged. "It is a second face to me." Emily glances around the wagon, and found her eyes wandering toward the quiet woman, who covered her spear. After a few moments of her staring in curiosity, Luger slaps Emily across the back of the head. "Stop staring. It is rude. We near our exit, and thereafter, we will need to seek out contacts... I can't have you staring at everyone. Do that to the wrong person in the city, and you will find your throat slit in an alleyway." Emily shudders, and nods quickly, affirming that she understood. "Any idea where to look first?" Fontaine's eyes fall upon the fourth wagon: Covered, and held up by the guards at the gate. "... I have a few ideas. We will wait for that one to catch up and see if there is anything interesting. Failing that, a tavern is as good a place as any to start." Emily grins from ear to ear, as she taps the side of the wagon listlessly. "I could go for waiting, I guess... Not usually my style, though."
  5. Definitely miserable, but not so miserable as she'd never been before. It's only a recent development that Ilse could say just that much to feed any strand of satisfaction - twisted, though it may be. The wagon she'd been loaded into was packed to the brim. They were like fish in a barrel and smelled about as awful. She twisted fruitlessly in her spot, stuck between the wood of the front and a rather large man who she was actually quite grateful for. He'd come bumbling in from another wagon grumbling about bad luck and omens for the times ahead, but he made for an impassable barrier between Ilse and the skinny merc who had been making eyes on her before being forcibly scooched over. He wasn't the only one, but then she wasn't the only woman who ever had to endure such a thing.

    She had pulled her hood closer around her face and settled in for the long way.

    She sensed an uneasiness among the passengers. So many were fighters or hunters. Those types sometimes didn't like to be one of many with a weapon. Ilse was quite glad then to be a weak and pathetic woman. It was strange, perhaps, but she provided no threat and therefore felt safe in that she may not be a target if a row started.

    For that time she didn't let herself think of the circumstances that led her here. There was only the sky and the weight of a man slumped next to her, the feeling of rain. She perceived, but thought not.

    When the wagons finally stopped within Edeur, Ilse was far from relieved. Making it here meant it was again time to decide; stay and do what? go and go where? She moved away from the wagons but tried not to go too far before getting her bearings. One hand clutched the cloth at her neck to keep the hood close about her face. She watched as others dispersed, taking careful note. She didn't want to end up in the same half of the city as that ugly-faced mercenary, though she knew better prospects were unlikely in a place like this.
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  6. Stepping off of the cramped wagon, Mikalash stretched his arm out in an attempt to purge himself of stiffness. Rolling his shoulder in its socket, the man looks around the town and at the people nearby. The blurry, featureless buildings in the distance didn’t much bother him; it wasn’t much different than Casivi, at least in his eyes.

    No, what was interesting was the people. A strange crew had been gathered around him; mercenaries made up the majority of the crew, but a few others caught his eye at times. Namely the odd, out of place looking abbot-workers and the doctor. Truth be told, roaming doctors were always going to become more prominent at times of greater strife, much like mercenaries. More work for doctors, in times of strife. It was a sad state of affairs.

    Still, when deciding between the Church and the Hospital, Mikalash was quick to decide which he wanted on his side first. With his arms crossed, the tall man approached the Doctor and his female …aid? The light jingle of his chain was more than enough of an indicator of his approach, but when he was a few feet from the pair, he cleared his throat. “What brings a man of study to fair Edeur? I can’t imagine it's lacking of doctors, friend.
  7. Turning her gaze back to the people around her, Sasha noticed the doctor's compatriot staring curiously at her. She met the woman's gaze with an uneasy glance, just before her more socially-versed friend slapped her in the back of the head. The young mercenary raised an eyebrow for a moment as the doctor explained to his apparent apprentice the importance of public niceties. Watching the pair out of the corner of her eye, she listened to the doctor explain their plan of action. She'd learned that eavesdropping, while probably considered even more rude than staring, was a useful means of gathering information. Information was her chief objective, after all, at least for the moment. The doctor, it seemed, had a similar plan to her own: find contacts within the city. She imagined their definition of 'contact', as well as their reasons for seeking such people, greatly differed, though that wasn't terribly important for her purposes. She needed to test the waters as well as she could before throwing herself into what was almost certain to become a dangerous situation. The headache continued slowly pounding behind her eye, causing her to wince slightly.

    As the young woman listened in on the doctor's conversation, one of the other passengers approached. He struck her as a man of somewhat noble standing, and almost certainly a soldier, or at least a former one. She continued her observations unassumingly from her corner of the wagon until the noble asked his question, a question she had been curious about as well. "I was wondering the same, actually. I've heard of quite a few troubles on the winds, but I don't recall disease being one of them... Though I'd imagine you'd know more about than than I would." She turned slightly toward the others as she made her interjection. Her voice was rather soft, but not quite what one would consider weak. The well-wrapped spear still sat leaning against her shoulder as she spoke. The guards still appeared a bit preoccupied with the nearby carriage. She hoped she wouldn't be receiving as much attention as they were, at least not from the authorities.
  8. It was the first shipment since the executions, since the roads had become too dangerous for common travel. A woman sat beside the driver of one of the wagons. They hadn't exchanged many words since she came aboard, but her presence was a given on this route. Beside her, and staring absentmindedly at the covered carriage was one of the abbey's many juniors. The girl bore a flower in her blonde hair as a mark of distinction and held herself up with something between good posture and an attempt at refinement. Nothing could truly hide the uniform on her, though, and no one mistook an orphan in the care of the church for someone of dignity. The senior wore a pale blue scarf over the uniform of her abbey, obscuring her jaw and looking uncomfortably warm for Lachne's climate. It was her own way of setting herself apart, and it had recently become the impromptu stole of the senior-est sister of the abbey. She still couldn't believe how grateful she felt for a boring ride into Edeur. Vivian Lenitz stood up at the head of the wagon, uttering, "Thank you kindly," to the driver before stepping up the threshold to the back. Despite her own elation, there was no such feeling of homecoming actually surrounding their arrival. A couple of the merchants awaiting their stock had filtered out, as always, but there were few spectators. That was because few of their passengers were local, she knew. It seemed a safe bet to her that their onlookers were those prospecting the fresh shipment of free mercenaries that had recently come to Edeur. Some of them, she even recognized.

    Some people were already leaving the caravan. The cloaked man who had been walking with the horses was already leaving them behind. She had no idea when he had arrived alongside their tiny assembly, only that he had gone without acknowledgement from the other passengers. Warriors were a strange lot to her, she had a difficult time accepting their predatory nature. They were exploitative, but they had also replaced the usual passengers. The employment of travelers and work seekers who wouldn't turn up their nose at an abbey's odd jobs was one of the ways she cut costs, and they were the usual taggers on for the wagon, but that sort of boring work had no draw for sell swords and war tourists come to participate in the country's troubles. When the abbey had a full staff the clergy often helped orient new arrivals, and it was something she had started out of habit. A group was forming close by, and she could see the plague doctor that other passengers had mentioned situated within it. She drew closer, thinking that a doctor's company was probably less martial than the people she was walking between. That misconception cleared up instantly as she took a spot at the edge of the forming circle. The doctor himself had a sword at his side, and the woman not wearing armor had a parcel with her she could no longer pass off as anything but armament. A slight strain tugged at the blue clad sister's hidden smile, but they were still the only group present that wasn't a bunch of angry looking soldiers striking up a conversation beside the street or disappearing into taverns and alleyways. She was not looking upon common thugs. Even the man wearing armor had a definite air of distinction and familiarity that she could not quite place. If there was anyone she could help direct, they were before her. "I cannot recall any outbreak either. The capital has called some professionals from here, but we are not without doctors." she said after the the woman with the spear. "Count me also curious to hear what brings doctors and travelers," She raised her hands slightly in indication, "Instead of yet more mercenaries."

    The streetside scenery of Edeur was somewhat lacking in proximity to its entrances. Taverns, inns, and warehouses of conflicting design dominated the first few rows, and only beyond that could one hope to find proper residential and economic districts. It was, however, a sufficient attempt at getting the things travelers needed right to where they would arrive. A coach had been occluding passage for quite some time, but finally, one of the city guard departed from the vehicle with some papers in hand, and waved its driver through. Finally given freedom, it was promptly pulled by its horse team only a few meters forward to block the front of one of the town's unoccupied warehouses. The driver, an old gentleman wearing a nondescript black riding coat, chocked his wheels on the spot and set to work on freeing his team so that they could be housed somewhere. The other wagon's didn't yet move, as some were already beginning to depart from them and the owners of the stock they carried were presumably still arriving or now moving within the passengers to find their property. A duo departed from the vehicle at around the same time, two men dressed in what looked to be business attire who stood by their carriage and talked.

    "Figures." She pulled her eyes from them back to the other carriages. It was exactly what she had been told to expect, the deluge of what the treasurer termed 'muscle' into the city only continued to escalate and never before had pickings been better. Still, they weren't murderers. Not yet anyway. It was the cloaked man wandering away from the crowd and the woman doing exactly the same that held her attention the most. She was Margaret Bernhard, a middling tall woman of brown hair and green eyes. It was not the most stereotypical description of a Lachnet that could be mustered but it was far from the usual description of a revolutionary and that was the reason why she was the one playing talent scout. They were people who didn't care much for the public eye, or so she judged from their dress and behavior. She beckoned from the alleyway, waving her hand about and hoping that they would take notice of her. Maybe she was biased on account of who she was appraising, but among the handful of other sharks waiting for them Margaret had an unassuming appearance. In her mind, if they were walking away from the caravan, they were already decided on what they were looking for. She gave them a clear choice between the alleyways and the people who lived in them or one of the growing cliques in the caravan behind them. Whether or not either of them even recognized it was a different story, she supposed. She could have been, and actually was in a sense, waving to anyone.
    #8 Epsir, Mar 19, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
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  9. Having arrived in Edeur, the caravan had come to a stop, and members of the groups began going about their own ways. Some left immediately, while others stayed and talked amongst each another. The cloaked archer, Rashen, hurriedly began walking off, hoping to find some information; possibly at a pub. Walking a couple steps down the path, he was about to enter a small tavern when he took a quick glance to the caravan and noticed someone waving. Were they waving at him? He wasn't sure, but his curiosity got the better of him and he decided to see what the stranger wanted.

    Moments Later.

    "So...What is it you want?"

    Rashen was now standing in front of the woman who had waived him down only moments ago. His suspicion caused him to keep his face hidden as he tightly gripped one of his knives under his sleeve. He had taught himself to be prepared for anything, and this was no exception.
  10. Fontaine looks between the various people around him, each inquiring as to his purpose for being there. A scowl forms as he takes off his mask, though his compatriot was quick to answer questions not directed toward her. "Hi! We're here to figure out what's going on. Isn't it obvious?" Luger rolls his eyes, but a hint of a smile broke his initial scowl. He seemed more amused than irritated by his more sociable companion. "We all know conflict is coming, and beasts of plague and pestilence follow at the heels of Lady Death."

    He looks at the religious looking people. His look remained stern, though Emily quickly bowed her head in respect for a member of the clergy. "We are here to investigate the conflict. I am a member of the Fontaine family; a rather wealthy merchant family. They will, eventually, weigh in on a side. I want to see if I cannot get involved first and force them to pick the right side through... Political inconvenience, as it were. If you happen to know where I can find out more about this conflict, I would appreciate being pointed in the right direction..." He pauses, then glances at Emily. "Ah, but my curiosity is ahead of my manners it seems. I am Luger Fontaine, plague doctor by trade." He motions to his compatriot, but before he could speak to introduce her, she squeaks to life. "Emily! Pleased to meet you all... I'm a commoner, so my last name doesn't really matter. Who are all of you? Would you like to travel with us? We will be stronger together than alone!" Luger flinches and glares at Emily, who merely smiles sweetly, then looks to everyone else around her, awaiting an answer from them.
  11. Ilse, still standing off to the side of the street beneath the shadowy cover of a second floor balcony, cast her eyes about the lot with whom she had entered the city. Small groups formed of those who hadn't already faded into the streets and beyond. There was one interesting amalgamation, however...

    She withdrew from her cloak a small bag filled with herbs. She looked in at them, wondering if the doctor would perhaps trade with her. They might be nothing special to a doctor, but they were certainly no plants she had ever seen growing out of just anywhere. She returned the sack to the safety of the satchel beneath her cloak.

    Ilse raised her gaze again to the scene, but something else caught her eye. The flash of a hand, beckoning from the alleyway. She was half tempted to point at herself with a who me? look plastered on her face like a damn fool, but she reminded herself that out here it was not always a good idea to talk with anyone and everyone. Anyway, another man answered the call. Ilse had taken some steps when the man stepped in front of the other woman and spoke. Ilse looked on, perhaps too close to be staring and not caught doing so. Her head was lowered, a long blonde strand hanging down, caught on her cheek by some wetness, but her eyes peered out at them cautiously. Her lips pursed in apprehension.
  12. Sasha's eyes fell upon the scarf-wearing woman as she approached them. Her outfit suggested a religious institution, likely Edeur's abbey, if she had to guess. The woman joined their conversation, and Sasha shook her head slightly as she asked about their reasoning for coming to the city. "I'm afraid I'm technically part of that unsavory lot." She motioned towards some of the mercenaries making their way into the city. Lying about her current profession seemed pointless, anyone could tell with ease she was some sort of soldier. After all, it wasn't like a little black cloth was fooling anyone. Still, she felt a bit disgusted comparing herself to the sort of people her line of work usually drew in. It wasn't necessarily that she thought she was better than them, just better at her job, and likely a bit less desperate. "Though I believe technicalities may be where our similarities end." She watched as more of the common rabble fetched themselves into the city. There were sure to be some among them above the status quo, something other than re-branded cutthroats and bandits, but by and large they seemed to be the usual type: common thugs who had recently taken up calling themselves soldiers.

    The doctor and his companion proved to be more than she had expected, even if they were drawn partly out of the same curiosity that had pulled most of the travelers from their homes. The doctor's explanation of his intentions, however, was certainly noteworthy. Wealth was quite useful, especially in times of trouble, sometimes enough to tip more than a few scales. She took issue with a bit of his plan, but mentioning it was unnecessary. She had found there was rarely a 'right side' in any conflict. People had a tendency to foul things up, even if they fought for noble causes, and often the only 'side' that truly lost was that of the common people. Bystanders rarely had many beneficiaries. Perhaps the doctor would find a side that suited him, though, or at least be able to determine the lesser of two evils. Regardless, arguing over the ethics of the matter was likely not the best course of action, especially if she intended on gaining any kind of relationship with these people.

    The doctor introduced himself, and his aide followed suit, though the omission of her surname seemed ever-so-slightly suspicious. People had plenty of reasons to keep secrets, this was something the young mercenary was keenly aware of. If nothing else, it suggested maybe there was a bit more to the young lady accompanying Fontaine, perhaps something worth looking in to. After Emily's introduction, Sasha nodded and spoke up in reply. "My name is Sasha. Sasha Mentz." There was little else to tell, after all, she'd already revealed her trade. Emily's invitation immediately caught the pale girl's ear. Even as Fontaine seemed to overflow with disapproval, a slight smile crept into the corners of the mercenary's lips. "I suppose I wouldn't be opposed to such an idea... though I'm not certain for how long." Keeping company with Fontaine and Emily could prove useful, if only for a time. There was only one more thing to address. "What about you two?" She motioned between the blue-clad woman and the man she had previously appraised as some sort of nobleman.
  13. Listening to the Doctor and his companion had Mikalash frown. Memories of his own family home left him pondering things not worth pondering, and he decided to focus on things other than his familial legacy. Looking at the company, Mikalash turned his frown into a smile, as he tried to reflect an aura of civility. “A noble enough goal, Luger. I am Mikalash Lorence, head of my house.” He nods his head to the plague doctor, before turning to his assistant. “As for travelling with you; we’re certainly going in the same direction, it seems. No need to turn away good travelling companions. It’s hard to find good allies in these times.

    Without much looking at the scarfed woman, Mikalash reached into a pouch at his belt and pulled out a handful of nuts. He started to pick at them as she made conversation; asking about the small group’s intent. “Right now, I’m looking to get a drink and some information. If I know anything about getting information in a city; the best place to start would be a tavern or a brothel.” Looking at the more gentile of the group, he smiled. “And considering it’s far too early for a brothel, I’m going to head towards an establishment of ease. Anyone care to join me?” He looked over at Luger again, curious still about the man. He hadn’t much heard of the Fontaine family, which had him wondering where the man was from. His knowledge certainly wasn’t expansive, however; so it wasn’t improbable that he just didn’t know the man.
  14. Vivian's smile gradually softened as she listened to the doctor and his assistant introduce themselves. For a medical subordinate, she spoke very freely and her keeper's expressions of discontent told the rest of the story at a glance. She wondered if it was right to see innocence in the small, personal things. It would have been retreating from the fact that both of them intertwined themselves in the country's strife from their first words. "The Fontaine?" She nodded her head in recognition. Some of the wealthier organizations in the faiths swore by certain importers for the fine materials used in their vestments, and that name was among the many that circulated in the capital. The woman, Emily, obfuscated her surname or, the possibility presented itself as something she had seen more and more of, simply did not have one. Again, Vivian nodded. She didn't have much to say on the offer of traveling together. They were armed and even under the pretense of investigation it was unlikely that the group in front of her would be avoiding conflict for long.

    The last woman present introduced herself as Sasha Mentz, and took up the assistant's offer. Vivian had approached them thinking they were a group, but she had only managed to walk into their formation. Finally, the armored man she had initially thought to dignified for a common mercenary introduced himself in a way that only reinforced her perception. His name felt like something she should have remembered. Traveling work meant accumulating a lot of fragmented information, she knew, and so did handling the flow of ecclesiastic money in the capital. With the rest introduced, she spoke up. "I'm Vivian Lenitz, it's a pleasure to meet all of you. Welcome to Edeur." The sister clasped her hands at her waist for a moment as she considered the requests made by Fontaine and Lorence. Even though she was already decided, it would have actually been irresponsible not to assist those looking to properly inform themselves of a conflict instead of charging in headlong as so many of her countrymen had. "Fortunately, I can do more than point you in the right direction. If it's not imposing, I would be glad to introduce you to my city." Mikalash seemed set on a tavern, which seemed to her an appropriate enough choice. She looked around them, at the similar establishments all filling with travelers looking for the same information. "There are a few taverns in the inner city I can think of that will be what you're looking for, Mister Lorence." Her gaze turned to the rest of the group, searching for some impression from them. "We could start here or further inside the city. I suppose it's down to whether you all prefer your tours to start from inside or out."

    The man she hailed was clearly on alert from the start, which, she supposed, was smart considering what exactly was happening. For her, fear of reprisal had started long before the executions, maybe somewhere along the line Margaret had become complacent. It was, for what trivia it was, a welcome reminder of just how serious her life had become. "You just walked out of a caravan of mercenaries, right?" She said, looking over the man's shoulder at the wagons previously filled to the brim with armed men. Something else, instead, caught her eye. The woman who she had also picked out from the spreading group had hesitated, hovering only a few paces closer and staring at them. A chill ran down her back, and she wasn't quite sure how to put into words why. Looking at a hooded, hesitant woman imposed over a background of cutthroats and revolutionaries, her wits finally caught up with her. She was looking at consequences. A frown dashed Margaret's face, and she stopped short of continuing. Her attention to the space over Rashen's shoulder might have even become conspicuous. "Right..." Her eyes refocused on the person she was still talking to. "If you're looking for work, I know some people who are paying quite well for protection right now." There wasn't a long list of official jargon for soliciting a sellsword to assist in acts of treason but it was as close to the truth as possible, which was basically the truth between people who made their living lying. At any rate, she figured any discrepancies could be forgiven or corrected in private. Her mind already strayed to the woman hovering just beyond their conversation. Margaret now found herself wishing that she had also chosen to respond to her hailing, but had already decided to approach her when she was done speaking with the mercenary.
  15. "Protection.." Rashen repeated. He remained silent as he weighed his options. On one hand, he could chance being alone and search for assistance in his quest in hopes of destroying the kingdom, while on the other hand he could join a group and see what they knew. Each decision had it's ups and downs, but one was clearly safer. After another brief moment, he made a choice.

    "Alright. I'll do it," he replied, sliding his dagger back up into his sleeve. This woman didn't seem to be a threat; not an immediate one at least. And she had offered him work; a chance to find what he was looking for. Satisfied with his decision and his employer, he removed his hood, exposing his signature red hair that blew gently in the breeze.

    "I am Rashen the Fourth. A mercenary from.." he paused, "far away. Who is it that i am to protect? And from what?"
  16. Luger simply listened intently as each member of the party spoke in turn. A hint of amusement crosses his lips as he pats his medical bag absent mindedly. An odd habit he developed while thinking deeply about any particular situation. In his silence, he hangs his plague doctor's mask back along the side of the medical bag; no sense wearing something that would restrict his vision here.

    Emily, on the other hand, seemed quite overjoyed by Sasha and Mikalash agreeing to join them. She opens her mouth to speak, only to hesitate and look back at Luger instead. It seemed she did have some respect for him, on some level. Wordlessly, Luger nodded at Emily's unspoken request. He clears his throat, finding the other two had yet to speak was somewhat unnerving for him. "Ah, I see you recognize my family name. Good. I say we head for the inner city's taverns. You, of course, would be best suited to knowing which would be the most informative location for our prying ears... Ms. Lenitz."

    Emily nods quickly in agreement, then looks at Sasha's little black cloth, a twinkle of appraisal in her eyes, though only briefly, as she turns her attention back toward Lenitz. Had it not been for the presence of religious figures she respected the authority of, it seemed she might have had further comment.
  17. "There is at least one place that comes to mind," Vivian said. She was well acquainted with many of the businesses in Edeur, the taverns among them. Her presence itself tended to end the indelicate sort of conversations the people around her were looking to overhear or involve themselves in, but at the very least she could get them to the door. The passengers had almost wholly dissipated into the city by the end of their conversation, and at that point the unloading of the caravan's actual freight was beginning. To stay any longer would have meant obstructing the workers. "It's actually not far from here," she said, dropping from the carriage and indicating one of the streets leading into the city. She walked up to the front of the vehicle, briefly exchanging words with the driver and the other sister there, before returning to the group and leading off into the city.

    Past the outer ring of bawdy looking inns and dour warehouses Edeur underwent a gradual transformations. The rings of neatly arrayed, wide streets began to intersect with a lattice of narrow, curving alleys and paths that defined the boundaries of the old city. As the streets changed, so too did the people walking them. It was obvious that they were outrunning the influx of mercenaries as the amount of weapons on open display dwindled and the gruff soldiers were replaced by people just going about their daily business. The illusion of everyday life only held up to casual inspection. Wickedness lay in the details, like how the gaggles of people conversing beside the roads always hushed when anything approached them, or how the member of the local abbey avoided cutting through many of the paths in her own home.

    As Lenitz promised, it was not too far into the city that they came upon her recommendation. The spire of the abbey had grown quite close in their journey, comfortably sitting over the roofs of the surrounding buildings. In front of them, a flagstone faced building stood. Dirty windows in the wall glowed a warm, welcoming yellow from within, and with proximity a peaceful silence had come over the drone of urban habitation. Over the door a sign hung from an iron post driven into the wall. Etched onto its surface was a stylized depiction of a serpent chasing its own tail and the words Rosenwood Street Drinking House highlighted in enamel. Vivian led the way in to the quiet establishment, gingerly placing her hand on the door and opening the scarred wooden portal without a sound. Her walking stopped abruptly as she rounded the corner into the bar proper.

    The interior was mostly abandoned. The empty room was still illuminated as if the bar was in operation, but a bartender was suspiciously absent from the worn down oaken fixture and the array of tables throughout the room were largely left alone. Plates and glasses sat served but unattended and a number of chairs had been knocked over but the room didn't seem unduly scarred for a dingy tavern interior. Far more conspicuous, and the reason for the sister's pause, was the cadre still present. Six men stood around a table in the far corner of the room, nearest the door that lead into the building's storage and utility rooms. As Vivian rounded the corner, six heads raised in unison, from what seemed to be a collection of pilfered valuables and a number of maps, to witness the intrusion with varying degrees of surprise. They stood away from the table and approached the entrance, the one furthest to the back even grabbing a sword from the table, but their advance stopped short. "Hold up," The man in the back had said, moving up to join the others. There was an untold number of people in the entranceway beside the woman. "All of you, step out from there." His voice was level and calm, one of control or at the very least one of restraint. Vivian ignored the man, refusing to move from her spot. She kept her eyes forward, almost refusing to acknowledge the party she'd walked in with.

    His questions were straightforward, but somewhere along the line of building up her persona for the first of what would assuredly be many exchanges with mercenaries Margaret had not imagined them as the type to ask questions. Maybe that was just their reputation as vultures of the battlefield coloring her expectations. As she had already decided, he had a right to know, it was just uncomfortable telling him in a street packed with strangers. Those had started to dissolve by now though, filtering into the buildings around them. The couple by the wagon remained, laughing quietly to themselves, and so did the woman, still standing there, but it was just them and the caravan workers at that point. Before anything else, she returned his introduction. "Call me Molly, we all go by handles around here. Your name is pretty memorable, so you might want to pick one up too if you're worried about that sort of thing." She related it as a matter of fact, but worried as to whether or not it was too commanding to start out with. Whatever it was, she still owed him some answers, and went on. "You'll be protecting my comrades. I wish I could tell you from what with more sincerity, but the best I can do is tell you that it'll be from whatever trouble they get themselves into." She stepped closer to Rashen, her voice lowering. It surprised even her that she still had standards for what could be discussed on a nearly emptied street. "It's not organized crime, you can rest assured of that, but they have accumulated a great number of political enemies in recent times. The central government might one day be on that list. If that bothers you, walk out while you can." Her eyes drifted back to the woman who she now couldn't explain as anything other than patiently waiting. She knew it was a wild assumption on her part but she also knew it was just her curiosity justifying itself. "If it doesn't, they pay in gold. If you're in, I'd appreciate if you helped me find some more hands." With that, she looked at the only person to come off the caravan that she was absolutely certain wasn't a mercenary, the other woman, and beckoned once more. The area was clearing out around them as most of the sellswords found their way into the city or were scooped up by people like her with far more experience. "Are you lost, miss?"
  18. Sasha nodded in agreement. She hadn't expected a guide, but someone who knew the city would certainly be helpful. If worse came to worst, she could always go out looking for trouble on her own later. She noticed Emily eying her spear, and, with a slight smirk, gave the weapon a soft pat. They rose to leave, and Sasha slid casually over the edge of the wagon, following along towards the back of the party, her spear slung over her shoulder. She glanced back towards the pair of apparent businessmen who remained by the wagons with a look of vague curiosity. She'd keep an eye out for them later. Turning away from the caravan, she examined the city. It was far more... normal than she had expected, especially given what she had heard about it. Still, the hushed whispers and suspicious glances of the townsfolk said something for the state of affairs. There was plenty going on beneath the surface, she was certain of that much, it was just a question of how easily those secrets could be uncovered. They continued on through the city until Vivan eventually stopped in front of a tavern.

    Sasha appraised the front of the establishment. Her eyes stopped for a moment on the sign near its door. What seemed like a small smile crossed her lips, if only for a moment. Her expression, however, fell flat moments after Vivian opened the door. She stood only slightly behind the sister, and noted the state of the tavern's interior almost immediately. Sasha's fingers wrapped tightly around the shaft of her spear as the man called out to them. It seemed trouble had found her before she could find it. At the stranger's command, she brushed past Vivian, her gaze sliding along between each of the men before halting on the only one that appeared to be armed. Her eyes narrowed as they met his. "Yes? Is there a problem?" She let the tip of the spear, still wrapped in its covering, fall to the floor with a distinctly metallic clank. Her eyes remained locked on the man with the sword. She wondered how her new companions would react to their current predicament, but looking away from the matter at hand seemed foolish.
    #18 DrowsyPangolin, Apr 7, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  19. Ilse bit her tongue watching the two converse. After a moment she turned her eyes towards the square to avoid seeming like an eavesdropper. She was embarrassed to have been caught in an awkward place and thought of scurrying off. These feelings were moot. Ilse dropped into Edeur from a completely different world with rules so unlike the ones she knew. Social correctness had an entirely different meaning.

    When the woman addressed her the second time, Ilse simply had to swallow her misplaced feelings and smile. Lost? Her face betrayed her completely. Did she really want to talk with this person? Who knew what sorts of things she was involved with in a place like this. At least she felt somewhat safe in the confidence of another woman. It was the men who disarmed her. She knew her helplessness must have been obvious anyway and answered after a moment's hesitation.

    "I've never been here," she almost offered more, but decided against it. All she had in defense was vagueness, "So yes, I suppose I'm lost." Her voice was low and husky for a woman, but retained a peculiarly feminine quality for the tone. It was the softness. Ilse had never had to scream about anything in her life.

    She glanced over her shoulder at the man who had just been speaking with this woman. Ilse couldn't figure why two completely different people would interest her. Clearly for different reasons. She cast her gaze back on the woman in front of her, studying her features with clear eyes. An idea crossed her mind then.

    "I'm looking for work, really," Ilse said slowly. Even if she planned on leaving soon - and she did - this would give her time to figure out where to go. She'd grown accustomed to a life of ease, but was far from stupid. What coin she did have would not last long.
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