Kaustir, Chapter 1

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  1. CHAPTER 1
    The Korsch Games

    He stood in mist. Pungent, gold and silver - a vapour that encompassed him. Within it, his own world, just he and the dying man and the bed he lay on.

    "Come..." the voice rattled like sand in a coffin. "...away... Desert Sun."

    "It is nothing."

    Wizened fingers reached for the Czar. They were pale as the mist. With wet eyes the old man took another wheezing breath. "I am... the one... dying...today..."

    A smile curled the lips of Czar Lukesh. He stepped beyond the shafts of sunlight, into shadows at the bedside. Promptly his Nocturne flesh stopped burning and the mist abated through open windows. It was carried off into the streets to mix with spice blends and morning waste. The yowl of alley cats and pickpocket children were distant music to the scene.

    The two men linked hands, one strong and freezing, the other weak and growing just as cold. General Korsch looked up from the mess of fevered bedsheets. "I can serve you... no longer... Desert Sun. I return... to the Water Beneath." He worked something in his right hand, over and over through his fingers. It was a single wooden piece, the smallest piece from a set of nesting dolls. It was his Aux.

    Lukesh leant in and gripped tighter. "Own this death, Korsch. Return its stare. A Kaustiran does not wince, does not falter."

    The general chuckled, with breath a belch of necrotic tissue and tumorous decay. The Ipari Blight had taken him. The veteran had too much ash in his lungs, had dwelt too long by the toxic fires that scoured Kaustir. It was a fate that came to many. This was a killing land. And it had killed him.

    "Promise me something... Desert Sun..." Korsch's fingers squeezed the Czar's.


    That wetness again, that glisten in the old man's eyes that bore such sadness. He had never shown this, in all his years of service to the Czar. Yet now... now he let emotion flood with the beat of dying whispers. "We have done... such terrible things... the people of Sunne. We have... made such mistakes. Do not blame them, Lukesh... do not... let hatred rule you... nor punish them... for their frailty..."

    It was gravest insult, to speak his name without his title. Silence held Lukesh as he listened to the rattling, stalling breaths of his First General. His face was sandstone, yielding nothing. "I will give them all what they deserve."

    The old man nodded, perhaps in vain. Whatever the Czar meant by that promise, the dying Korsch chose to take the best of it. Perhaps it was all he could do. The only light left to him, the only hope to cling to as his heart gave out. Breaths came short and sharp now as his body failed. He gripped harder. His head sunk in the pillows. He gasped. And as tears ran down his wrinkled cheeks he gave one last smile.

    "You..." He beheld the Czar's face. "You haven't aged a day... since we met..." His Aux slipped from his fingers, spreading motes of golden light to replace the mist.

    * * * * * * ​

    "It was the Galgesh Campaign, of course - that's where he caught the blight. We all told him it would come to this. Four weeks riding against the Scarab Tribes - what did he expect? Still, I would we all could reach his age. Stubborn old bastard."

    The chancellor slumped at a table, skin pale, his squirrel Aux staggering drunkenly around his legs. One hand held a silk handkerchief to his neck, where spots of blood were soaking. Across the hallway, Lukesh was by the opposite window, licking clean his lips. As his Nocturne flesh healed over it traced the contours of a face sharp and sleek, cutting features like the desert air. Lounging in the shadows at his feet, Aukhmos held the chancellor in his feline stare. Neither Crux nor Aux turned when the servants shuffled behind them into the general's bedchamber. The old man's body would be wrapped now and carried to the courtyard, there to be borne on a camel to his desert burial. It was the general's wish, to be folded in the sand, and left to sink into the Great Below... to the Ocean Underneath.

    One ritual Lukesh could tolerate. He was not without gratitude.

    "A new general will be chosen."

    The Chancellor struggled to get up, then flushed and thought better of it, before slumping again. "Of course, Emperor. Colonel Verian is the obvious choice. And I hear good things about Lut Sar..."

    "No." Lukesh drummed slender fingers on the window pane. He stared into the streets of Avarath, beyond the compound where his servants waited. He had lost his right hand, his finest general, on the eve of war, at the turning point in history when all that Kaustir stood for would be tested. In those streets a symbol would be needed, a banner would be raised. Korsch had not just believed in an Ocean Underneath - he had believed in the Red Nation.

    And Lukesh was not without his gratitude.

    "The general will be chosen from the common people."

    There was a clunk behind him as the chancellor tried once more to rise, and once more failed. "My Lord, is that wise? I..."

    "Question it further and I will bury you with Korsch." The threat was throw-away, delivered without thought. The Czar raised a burned and healing hand to scratch his chin. "A common man or woman will lead my First Army, and show that we are one."

    "How will you choose, Desert Sun?"

    Lukesh's skin began to smoke again, dwelling too long in the window light. He turned and pulled his silk robe tighter. The old smile was back; that smile of agony and delight. His Aux growled.

    "Games. Tell the nobles to fill my city with games."

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  2. "Why yes, Most Esteemed Czar!"

    Lut swirled around, bowl of blood held in outstretched hand. The ice cubes that tinkled against the earthenware - a refreshing luxury reserved for a few - were frozen blood as well, a rather excessive gesture, but perhaps suited for the occasion, given ...

    "... I am humbled by your faith in my abilities. I will not fail you as the new General of our Empire!" He accepted the General's insignia with a flourish, pinning to his lapel.

    So he spoke to the tapestry in his cavernous office, the obsidian walls vanishing into the ceiling above. All around him was the sound of industry - giant pallets of foodstuffs, ordinance, and ore being shuttled about. From his perch high in the imperial warehouse, he gazed down, watching the crates move. Their pattern and movements were inspired by his observation of the industrious desert ant, a model of efficiency in a harsh and arid land.

    An empire within an empire. And not a ray of sun to be felt.

    His hand drifted down to caress the hilt of the rapier hanging by his side. Long ago, he had pressed the rapier into foes of the empire; he had felt the grit and resistance as the blade pushed past bone and buried itself in the flesh of Kaustir's enemies.

    But that was long ago. The hand slid off the hilt. He had other ambitions.

    Lut checked his schedule book. A meeting with K'Larr in a few hours.
    #2 unanun, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
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    The games in Kaustir filled Avarath with such a liveliness... of course, the city never ceased to be lively, but in times like these, the town blazed like a wildfire. For the mere inhabitants of the town barely making their living, it was something to be admired. Such a change was not something they witnessed often.

    One of those likely people were the healer and medicine brewer, Arania. She had come to Avarath with a sure vision of her own death in sight, but somehow, this city had kept her standing on her own, two legs. Now the Games were about to begin, and the town blazed with people, which only meant more customers for her. In big crowds, people tended to be careless, creating patients for her to treat. Such a crude way to think, but nevertheless, it was what brought her dinner at night.

    Lightly gracing her hand against the pendant of a five-point star hanging around her neck, she let out a sigh. It was going to be an awfully long few days for her, and if possibly, weeks. She'd be busier than she had ever been before, but there were also the resolve in her to take care of things. She would have to work her hands to the point of bleeding, but it was not in vain.

    "Well... I suppose that "running with the flow" should not be out of place." She muttered to herself as her Aux rested calmly against her chest. The patient that she had been treating looked up at her as she suddenly spoke, offering her a grin. This human girl, barely 20 years old, was one of the persons who wanted to go in the Games - but she had been injured and it caused her not to be able to participate.

    "I would've thought higher of you, Arania. You're closing down your shop for the day, only for the sake of the bloodshed about to happen in this town? This is not just any form of Games that you would think of, Miss Arania. No... this is to choose the Lord's next right hand... that cannot suit your tastes, miss?" As always, Jange was switching back and forth between politeness and impoliteness, honestly, it was a bit unsettling for Arania. But she supposed that the talk was not all to be ignored. There was something in her words that stirred the pendant to feel like it was pulsing where it rested against her naked skin.

    "I suppose that you are right, Jan..." She said finally as she wrapped the wound that Jange had earned on her arm up with a piece of cloth, which had been smeared with a lotion supposed to make it heal faster. "... I do not want you to involve yourself in such affairs. When you come back here... then I hope you have chosen the right thing to do." When she was done, Jange payed the money for the treatment and left, just like that. With that finished, Arania retreated to her chamber, warded with spells. Not that she needed them, but now that she had them, only a fool would rid of them.

    Her protective pendant was this time wound around her wrist like a bracelet, hidden by her gloves. She pulled on a hood and cape, and with that, left her shop after locking and closing it down. She was just a mere healer, living in the normal parts of the town, with no sort of influence on others. But... even a person such as herself could have a little fun sometimes. And as she got out, she figured that the town was really, honestly, burning with impatience for these so-called Games, for the choice of the new General.
    #3 MiNaGi, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
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  4. [​IMG]

    A growl came from deep within the large Draken's throat as he fiddled with the glass cup within his hands. The tavern was bustling with excitement at the Desert Sun's announcement, stating that the late General Korsch would be replaced by someone from among the citizens of Kaustir. K'Jol could not stomach the fact that he could potentially have some random commoner within the nation become his superior. His right hand squeezed the glass harder and harder before crushing it. Bits and pieces of glass littered the floor, his hand now bleeding from the action that he had just did. All he had to do was give a glare to the man counter in the tavern, and the man instantly came over and removed some glass from K'Jol's hand. A grin came upon his face as he watched the man clean the blood and the ground. The man looked up at K'Jol to see if his work was satisfactory and K'Jol responded with a slight nod. He leaned back in his chair, pressing his fingers together as a loud crack was heard. With an influence such as his own, he had more of a right to be the general than any other of the lowlifes within Kaustir. Shaking his head, he arose from his position before taking steps to the door, the blade of his halberd almost scraping against the ground. Most of his fellow soldiers thought that the size of his weapon was excessive, but he shrugged the fact off. A military brute also had to be accompanied with a large weapon to be intimidating after all. K'Jol's hand pushed against the tavern door, opening it before breathing in the soothing desert air. The land in this area was probably a hell hole to others but to the Draken, it was almost a paradise.

    At that moment, his stomach began to growl. He placed a hand upon his stomach before patting it softly.

    "Maybe I will get a Flare Spitter upon a stick. That sounds like a pretty good treat at this moment..."

    A slithering sound came from his waist, looking down to see U'Sil wrapped around it. The Cobra slid up his body before wrapping itself around his arm. He tapped the creature on the head before giving it a smile. U'Sil's presence had always comforted K'Jol. After turning his attention away from his Aux, his eyes looked around the area searching for the familiar stand that served his delight. He began to walk down the stone road, seeing many familiar soldiers and the usual commoners. Avarath was an always bustling city and had many attractions as well, the main one being the monthly gladiator games. As soon as the words gladiator games came through his mind, he froze in his tracks. He did favor bloodshed and fighting, and he loved to see bodies mangled once in a while.

    Why not do the mangling today and become general to the greatest army in Sunne?

    He reversed himself before sprinting towards the coliseum, knocking over some people in his path. A look of glee came upon his face as he came closer and closer to the arena. All those that would challenge him would know about his reputation, and about his prowess. They would wallow in fear while U'Sil sensed their emotions. He arrived at the gate of the coliseum, already seeing a mass of people within. K'Jol walked to the desk were multiple people were signing up, taking their chance at becoming general. He pushed his way through the commoners signing up before slamming a fist onto the counter.

    "Sign me up for this event. I will show all of Kaustir who is truly meant to be the next general..."

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  5. As the sand whipped around him Nils nodded at the other Ipari guards. Seeing his nod of confirmation the guards opened the large doors to the tunnel leading to Dorgrad and the ore shipment was hastily brought in. As the doors shut the other Ipari guards went back to their posts, leaving Nils standing in the sand and staring off into the distance. His barbed chain hung from his wrist and swayed slowly in the wind, the metal links sounding like a monotone wind chime. "so..the games will decide who is our new general..interesting." Nils honestly didn't care who was leading Kaustir's armies. As long as he had food to eat and things to kill he was happy.

    Snapping out of his reverie Nils walked over to a nearby corpse, the body of the worker was bloated and decayed and occasionally twitched as something moved around inside it. Kicking the corpse lightly Nils growled "Rotter get out here." There was a squeak and the head of a large ugly rat popped out of a hole in the corpse's stomach. Seeing Nils standing over it the rat quickly hopped out of the decaying flesh and shook itself, getting most of the gore and viscera off its fur. It then ran up the Nocturne's leg and perched on his shoulder. "I hope you ate your fill, we have work to do." Turning to the tunnel Nils entered a discreet side door and made his way down to the belly of Dorgrad.
    #5 Dunruffle, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
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  6. The other healers in the court snickered when Amalia stated that she would be competing for the position of General. Whenever Amalia closed her eyes -whether it be to sleep or rest - she saw their smirks and heard their infuriating giggles. Despite being on the road for days, their reactions still stung like salt on an open wound.

    "We are healers Amalia, not soldiers. Leave the killing to them and we shall tend to the sick."

    "What good are you in a battlefield anyways? You have no skills to kill people," another chimed in. "Your Advents are to help people, no?"

    That was true, and Amalia hated it dearly. She couldn't help but wonder if she would be a crutch to the military. She pictured herself out on the battlefield, trying to be brave and hacking at her enemies, but the image dissolved into several soldiers with their backs to her, defending Amalia from hulking brutes. She had never killed before, merely healed. But Amalia had seen the wounds, heard the cries of her patients who returned from battle screaming and slashing at invisible enemies in the middle of the night. It scared the other healers, although they tried not to show it, but to Amalia it added fuel to her passion. She wanted to help her nation, wanted to help them win at all cost.

    Amalia remembered lifting her chin towards the court healers, eyes set, heart pumping. "Then I shall learn how to kill. If that's what the nation needs, then I will do it. I will be the best general Kaustir has ever seen."

    She thought she made an imposing figure, but they burst out laughing and Amalia ducked out of the room in embarrassment. The humiliation was enough to make Amalia weep, and for an hour she sat in her chambers, thinking. She remembered how the past few days felt like she was moving through molasses as she hired a merchant caravan and packed her meager possessions. Now that she was on the road however, she wondered where in the world did she get the courage to leave the court and head to Avarath?

    "And yet... Here I am, willing to sacrifice my pride and possibly my life for my Czar."
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  7. [​IMG]
    The sun bore down on the slaves that Nassad had captured while he was ordering something to eat. Cooked lizard with a spicy sauce. He enjoyed eating in front of the slaves. It made him proud that he was of some nobility. Not like these scum he picked up starving and dying out in the desert. In total he had three lizards and he ate two. Then the real joy of being where he was came. He took the tail and snapped it off the body of the lizard. The slaves eyeballed it as he wove it in front of them. With a flick of his wrists he tossed it into the cage and the slaves all began fighting over it. He laughed, but then realized they were for Lukesh. His arm raised in the air with the whip in it and the slaves ceased fighting. "Good, then maybe once you get to your new master you might be set free." Nassad chuckled to himself and then bought a couple more lizards. He handed one to each of the slaves and they ate. Hopefully that would help them settle down before they were to be eaten alive.

    Nassad moved through the city pulling his cart behind him. "Move!" He shouted at various citizens as he moved through the city. There was word of a games to be hosted, which interested Nassad. If there was blood to be spilled, he would be paid for more bodies. Maybe the losers would becomes slaves to Lukesh and Nassad would be his right hand man. He could see it now. Instead of brown rags, he would be dressed in the finest robes and be with the best women. That was paradise. Every once in a while he looked back at the slaves and count them to make sure none of them escaped. In total there were five, but two of them were fat so he did not have to feed them. Lukesh was a well fed man, and Nassad was one of the people who he was to thank for that. These games were going to make The Desert Sun more powerful, and make him more money. This opportunity opened a wide range of benefits. Maybe Nassad would be included in such spoils. Then again he wouldn't be participating in the games, mostly doing deals in the stands. Everyone needed a slave even if they already had a slave. Slaves for everyone! Nassad smiled as he thought about how far he would go.

    He soon arrived at the palace. Nassad was let in by the guards and he wheeled his cart full of slaves over to the side. He then waited for an attendant to tell him that The Desert Sun was ready for him. While he waited he talked to the slaves to get to know them. There were three men, two of them were the fat ones, and three women. All of them were downtrodden and had some sad back story. Now their lives would end because they could not take this city. All hail Kaustir.

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  8. “You ...ate his horse.”

    Sir. You ate his horse, sir.” the troll cooed back in amusement.

    “...Forgive me. You ate his horse, sir.”

    “Hn.” Nae crouched on the rock arms resting on each knee, eye level with the one of the few humans that could stomach working with him. A full minute he stared at the man, relishing the change in his scent as his nerves built within him. The lithe troll tilted his head, pulled some small insect from his hair that had been agitating him, and ate it. “Why do you state the obvious?”

    “You said him and his men were free to go, yet you ate the man’s horse.”

    “A warning. Nae is not lax.” the thin wings of the bug he ate clung to the roof of his mouth and he contorted his face in his efforts to remove it. “He has legs, let him walk. For that he should be grateful, Hn? I could have taken those instead of his horse. They taste better.” Nae climbed from the rock and approached the human. Long red claws dug into the man’s cheek as he gripped his chin. “Him and his lot were trespassing. I need not explain to you, Otris.”

    “Forgive me, sir.”

    “Oh shut up.” he released the grip. Tiny red spots beaded on the humans dark skin. Nae smiled and licked his nails. “You waste my time. Come. We leave for the games.” Whether he would watch or participate, Nae would decide when he got there. For now he would just satisfy his curiosity at what was to come.
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  9. Not long after Jange had left, Arania recieved a letter from the court. She wondered what it was about, and when she opened the envelope, there was a rather short-scribbled message. She had been requested to be a healer during the Games, for people who got injured in the battles. It was not something she treated often, but she couldn't see a reason why that would be so harmful. She packed a quick bag; her alchemy equipment and healing tools, along with a variety of medicines to treat things in the caliber of war injuries.

    As she got out of the store once again, she headed toward the town square. People had always thought her to be ironic. How can a Nocturne be a healer, right? But she fed on animal blood. It tasted horrible, but it kept her hunger down to the point where she could control it.

    When she arrived, she showed the letter to a guard, and he led her to a tent with view of the colisseum where every single one of the participants would fight, and would wait to get to her table. There was a lot of room in the tent, with rows of benches for people to lie on. "It almost looks like they're preparing for a blood bath..." She muttered to herself. A soldier shot a glance at her and she looked down. Well, for now, keeping quiet is probably the best idea. I don't like the soldiers in this city very much.
  10. SEIYR
    Seiyr scowled at the heat, at the bustle of the city streets, and more particularly at the nauseating mixture of spices emanating from each food stall, coming together to form something akin to a decaying body. She wriggled deeper into her thin cloak and squinted across the auditorium. The Games were to happen not long from now, and as a prominent military engineer of the Red Empire, it was her oh-so important job to oversee the creation of firecrackers, vipersnaps and other explosives. It was true that she took her orders to heart, but even she had her limits. She was instructed to "relax", to "have fun". The Czar wills it.

    Seiyr snorted. The Games were a joke, really. She didn't understand nor did she care about the reason why the Czar had halted her work simply to replace one feeble man in his ranks. Not that he'd ever listen to his general's advice anyway. It was for a show, she presumed. The Desert Sun did seem to like toying with his subjects. It was a shame that the powerful ruler of the Red Empire had such a shortcoming in the light; she could imagine him now, prancing about his subject in broad daylight, dancing in circles and clapping his hands maniacally. If only his flesh didn't slide off like a nightgown… what a comical display that would make.

    The blonde smirked. It wasn't that she was disloyal to Lukesh, she simply did not like the man.

    "You seem to be in high spirits, ma'am." a young apprentice commented politely, his fingers scorched, covered in a mixture of powder and bandages. Seiyr looked down at the young boy, eyeing the small firework in his hand. Leaning in, Seiyr placed her hand just above the explosive…

    …and snapped her fingers.

    The firework shot into the sky, spiraling out of control before combusting precariously close to the sun baked ground.

    "Too volatile." the woman said bluntly. The flustered young man blurted an apology, yet his eyes looked to the woman in awe. Seiyr scowled again.

    "Will you be participating in the games, ma'am? You'd be a mighty good general from what I've heard."

    "No…" Seiyr sighed, fingering the clasp of her cloak, tracing the cool metal that formed the Czar's insignia. "…no, of course not. I can't seem to avoid our glorious Desert Sun, the last thing I'd want to do is get closer to him."
    #10 heliacalRebirth, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2014
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  11. Tharwa stretched languidly on the rumpled pallet, the sweat from recent exertions rising off her body into the arid atmosphere. She slithered into her clothes, eyes gleaming with satisfaction as they fell on two empty tankards on the table. Outside, the sound of retching was music to her ears. She sashayed towards it and parted the tent-flap.

    "Rough morning?" She asked her erstwhile bed-mate, who was emptying his previous meal upon the bushes. She tsked her sympathy and rubbed his bare shoulder, leaving streaks of red on sun-browned skin. "You poor dear. And today being the start of the Czar's Games, of all days.."

    Nazmir Al-Wasif, fearless gladiator and crowd favorite, cursed and wiped his mouth. "May that tavern be buried under the Dunes with the swill they serve! Wouldn’t put it past that poxy barkeep to give me bad mead just to try and throw me off my victory. Hah! We will have a reckoning once I am picked General! They don't know who they're dealing wi-ghuaaaarrk."

    Tharwa made soothing noises, but Nazmir waved her off with a grunt and resumed his chunder concerto.

    * * * * * *

    She made her way through the spectator seats, catching the eye of a well-dressed merchant a few feet away. The slight nod Tharwa gave him was barely discernible from a distance, but the merchant grinned widely and began a lively conversation with one of the bookies collecting bets.

    Nazmir emerged from the tents with his matte-black armor on, the famous twin-serrated scimitars strapped on his back. If he looked paler than usual, or if his walk did not evoke the confidence of the prized fighter that he was, people paid no notice. All they saw was their hero. Cheering and fervent chants of "Al-Wasif! Al-Wasif!" echoed through the crowds.

    Tharwa stood up and cheered just as loudly as the rest. She clapped, whistled, jumped up and down, to the delight of the men in the upper benches and the censure of the women on their arms.

    The events in Kaustir these days provided her with two things she loved best in the world - opportunities, and rooting for the underdog.
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  12. K'larr
    Exhaling a puff of hashish, K'larr sunk even further into his pillow laden bench, his little legs resting on a short table in the middle of the congregation. The hefty Draken sat between two of Avarath's most infamous figures, one, an enterprising yet brutal desert guide owning the moniker "The Sand Demon", and the other, a very successful sneak thief by the name of Carter Bracht. There was a strange mood shared by the three men, not quite joyous,and not quite solemn; it was something in between, something like... victorious. The men had truly achieved something, at least in their eyes.

    "The boy should be here shortly," K'larr hissed, "I shall secure the tablet here within my penthouse, do not be concerned for its wellbeing." Clapping his stubby hands together a few times, he summoned a young Nocturne girl from behind a set of silk curtains, "Secure this." he said with a stern gaze at the servant and a point toward the mysterious tablet. Sinking back into his bench and picking up an ivory tipped stem, he took another drag from his hookah.
    #12 GonzoB., Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
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  13. A sneak thief, a Draken merchant with a tongue of silver and an extremely scary mercenary fellow walk into a penthouse.

    Sounds like the start of a bad joke. Yet here we all are, and we're about to add a fourth to our number. Some sort of Nocturne official, if my new friend K'larr is to be believed. Makes a man a little nervous, I will confess; I try to make it a habit to avoid authority figures in this city, given what our glorious czar likes to do to those in my profession.

    My name is Carter Bracht.

    I make my living at the expense of yours.

    When in the company of rogue traders and professional killers, one does not wish to show fear. With this in mind, I sit slouched in my chair at K'larr's table, one leg casually draped over the other, arms folded. Relaxed, unconcerned, not showing my back.
    “I certainly am not wishing to question your no doubt ample security measures, friend merchant,” I remark as the Nocturne child shuffles away with the artefact, “but forgive me if I am somewhat... twitchy about letting that item out of eyesight. My esteemed collegue across the table and I went through quite a bit of trouble to acquire it, after all.”

    Trust is a hard thing to come by in Kaustir.

    And it's especially difficult when you're dealing with characters such as these.
    #13 Childish Grumpino, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
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  14. "For your sake, you had better pray it stays safe. Too much sweat and blood for it to break or fall into another's hands without our compensation." The added threat that followed behind Bracht's statement was off-hand, and Jafaar looked wholly uninterested in the hustle and bustle of what lay outside or inside the penthouse as preparations were made for the Czar's Games. There was only one thing that kept him from participating: He didn't want to leash himself to Lukesh, or the military for that matter.

    It just didn't pan out right in his head. Assuming command of Kaustir's forces would paint a bulls-eye on his back that would scream 'Look at me, I am important, kill me!' Granted, the mercenary would slit his own mother's throat for a coin, he still valued his life.

    Jafaar did not even bother to look up as the Nocturne slinked away with the tablet. His focus lay upon his weapon, a two-handed battle scimitar, which he balanced in one hand in order to wipe away dust and old oil from the blade with a clean cloth. Setting aside this dirtied cloth, he replaced it with a powder ball that disperses very fine polishing stone, tamping it on either side of the scimitar generously.

    The mercenary was consumed by this ritual of weapon care, something he did often for the climate tended to cause more wear than usual for swords and thus more maintenance. The outside world was gone from him for now, as he took a new cloth and wiped this abrasive from the scimitar, which revealed the intricate details of the steel, his obscured countenance reflected in it.

    He set the powder ball back in the kit that he carried on his person, then took up the prepared cloth that was lightly oiled, and applied a fresh coat to the scimitar. He then turned the weapon over and over in his hand, inspecting it until he was satisfied, before setting aside this second cloth and taking up the scabbard that lay across his lap, making two into one as he sheathed the battle scimitar and then placed it against the bench by his right leg.

    Then Jafaar bundled the used cloths and put them in another compartment of the kit, before closing it and placing it in his satchel. Finally, his eyes would lift and he would cast them around the penthouse. K'larr certainly lived in exorbitance, acknowledging that the fat lizard certainly had decent taste, as it was a good place to spend time from out of the harsh Kaustir sun.

    A man of few words, to be sure.
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  15. "Don't be so short sighted my friend, the true prize is yet to come. Moreover, I would think I had already aliviated any doubt or suspicion you may have had against me, but perhaps I've been remiss." He clapped his hands again, once more producing the servant girl. "The blue satchel, my dear Vira." sliding back in and out of the curtains, and returning with the satchel in hand, she placed it in front of the stern mercenary with a jangling clunk, and quickly returned to the dark. "This should suffice." he said with a smile.

    #15 GonzoB., Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
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  16. Delesia Tyiral

    The sand raised and escaped under her feet, as she walked into Avarath, with the horse by her side. It was already a well known fact among few that she was visiting a certain someone for a job request that was finally done.

    Delesia walked slowly, wrapped in a light cloth that covered her entire face and upper body, revealing only her piercing gaze. She hated all that fuss in the city more than she hated a scorching sun. "What a bunch of fools." she smirked under the cloth. It was hard to say that one didn't enjoy the "sheep wars" as she proclaimed it.

    Delesia had to admit it, Czar was a fun person. There was nothing funnier than seeing those poor bastards bleeding each other to death for a piece of his attention. With that, she stopped in front of a lounge and tied the horse stroking his neck. "Good boy, Argo."

    The lounge was pretty lively, filled with noisy men and half naked chuckling women that glared at her once she made her entrance. Ignoring, she asked for a name of the men she needed and was directed to him.

    Shocked expression appeared on man's fat face when Delesia dropped the bag on the table in front of him. "The proof. As you asked." The massive heart, that was pushed in there along with several recognisable belongings of her target, still hasn't rot even though the sun took it's toll on it. It was a lot of gold for just one target that seemingly didn't even bother to hide. Or he never had a chance? Not in her nature to question the motives, she grabbed the payment and got out, deciding that having a women dancing around her wasn't of her liking. She would simply have a drink or two somewhere else.

    Now that everyone was busy boosting their ego for the upcoming event, Delesia hoped that her next job would be more challenging. Hunting down a foul Draken merchant was made tempting only with the ridiculously high reward. She began to think that gold is taken for granted. Good thing as well. Her pockets were never that filled.
    #16 Ritual Lobotomy, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
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  17. Lut's arrival was announced by .. him, opening the door. He slid into the room, pausing to make eye contact with all the participants before taking a seat, unfastening the rapier from his side and setting it against the chair.

    "My esteemed K'larr! I was unaware that we would have so many fine fellows joining us today. Are they here to share in a possible bounty?" The aux beetle flitted off to grip on the ceiling.

    "You never fail to stroke my interest with artifacts. Perhaps this is also the reason why you have called me out today."

    "... What's with the stares?"


    He unfastened the General's insignia from his lapel, placing it on the table along with the imperial seal. "Just a joke, my friends!" A cute Nocturne girl slumped against the door frame; she looked a bit anemic, while the burns on his hands were rapidly fading. He wasn't above helping himself to other people's property . . . given sufficient reparations.

    #17 unanun, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
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  18. "No artifacts or bounties this day my friend," the merchant laughed out, "we have much more important business today. You see Lut, in all the time I've known you, you've always proven the capable man. And though you may fool some by playing the eccentric, I know the extent of your ambitions.
    Vira," he spoke softly, "I believe it's time we had some wine." he turned back to Lut as the servant answered his request, "Now, here is the only question that truly matters today; what would you say if I were to offer you my full backing and support in the Korsch Games?"
    #18 GonzoB., Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
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  19. "My dear friend."

    Lut ran his finger over the hilt of the rapier, apparently lost in thought.

    "We always discuss business first. I'm sure your friends would not want to be left out. We can always chat about other matters later ..."

    He smiled, his eyes refocusing on the other two. "I apologize for the late introduction. I am Lut, an acquisitions officer for our nation's army. That means I am interested in any and all artifacts, supplies, and ordinance that anyone and everyone could offer to our warriors. To sell to me is to arm our nation."

    He crossed his legs and leaned back into the deep armchair, seemingly ready to deflect any more brow-raising questions from K'Larr.

    The imperial seal stood on the table. An ethereal piece, carved from a large single chunk of translucent, wispy desert jade. A lion with a paw on the head of a snake, coiled around a dung beetle; the Czar, the army, and the populace. The seal was usually carved with discretion of the owner, and was traditionally fashioned to reflect the bearer's taste and philosophy. A weighty piece, the empire's credit emanated from it, a nearly tangible aura.
    #19 unanun, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
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  20. Standing on a balcony of a downtown apartment, Gulzar monitored the busy streets of Avarath. Inside the apartment the room was occupied by his posse.

    Lochan entered the room which connected to the balcony, before he could utter a word, Gulzar spoke. "How are our arrangements conducting?" Gulzar did not take his eyes off the streets as he spoke.

    "Everything is falling into order, Mayor." Lochan, the Mayor's most loyal and trusted advisor, second-in-command even, displayed his tense body language. Rapid hand gestures, his speech was quick and high-pitched, with little room for air. "The number of healers that have arrived should be satisfactory. There are no reports of any trouble at the sign-ups, even though K'Jol made quite a scene, and the slav-" Lochan stopped in mid-sentence as Gulzar raised a hand as a sign to stop.

    "Not those arrangements..." Gulzar turned around and looked his lackey with a stern face. "...the arrangement."

    "Oh..." Lochan tried to hide his nervous demeanor, but it was all too obvious that he did not enjoy what the mayor was hinting at. "It is taking place as we speak."

    "Should you not be attending?"
    "No need, K'larr will take care of it."
    "If you say so, Mayor..."
    "Anything else?"
    "The city could need some more protection..."

    "BAH!"Gulzar responded irritated. "Great blood-thirsty warriors are plenty in Kaustir, but when it comes to safeguarding their own..." Gulzar sighed and turned again to observe the crowds beneath. "Post up fliers throughout the city and recruit those who are interested. Make sure they understand they will be contributing to make these games the greatest gift for all of Kaustir and to honour the Burning Czar, of course."
    "And the late great General Korsch, Mayor."
    "Of course..."
    "Yes Mayor!" Lochan hurried away.
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