Never Trust the Upper Hand (Peregrine x Dreamless)

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Peregrine, Nov 8, 2015.

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    You ask after the Necromacer Vitali, and the Enchanter Kess?
    Ah, it is quite a story, one to go down through the ages, that is
    for sure, and it is a story that none shall soon forget.


    His was a name that had been spread far and wide, not in
    admiration, but in warning to those who might yet be taken
    into his charms, and fall prey to his guile. Hers, well, those who
    knew hers thought nothing much of it. Just another name
    trying to strike it big in the world of mercenaries. And that
    served her purposes perfectly


    For that was what kept Vitali from recognizing the trap when
    Kess extended the hand of business, offering him the protection
    he so desperately needed from those who once more sought
    to take his head, and drew closer every day. In exchange, all
    he had to do was put his unique talents to use in Kess' employ,
    to aid in the task of destabilizing one of the local crime lords,
    a man of great power and great means who nonetheless
    had weaknesses like all other people.


    But all was not as it seemed, and with his agreement Vitali
    found himself soon embroiled in a plot Kess had been
    building for the past seven years.


    It was a plot, like all the best plots, that had more than a
    taste of subterfuge to it. Subterfuge that Vitali would never
    come to recognize until it was far too late, and his efforts
    had already brought the next piece of the puzzle into place.


    But, dear reader, do not judge the young man too harshly,
    despite how his name would be further sullied by Kess' efforts.
    After all, none can deny that without Vitali Kess' plans would
    never have come to fruition, and the world would have
    been deprived of an event that altered the course of
    history forever.


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    nce upon a time, the fey were the only people of the world. Creatures of powerful magic, both light and dark in essence, they divided into two courts and thrived in their land. However, as their skill in magic grew greater and greater, so too did the strain upon the land grow, until it was too much to maintain any longer.
    At that point, a curse upon the land emerged, a curse which served to slowly wither away all life. The fey, with their powerful magic, were immune to the effects, but if they did nothing they would soon be left as the only living things in the world. Many lone fey attempted to confront the problem on their own, but it only served to increase the spread of the curse.

    Eventually, both Seelie and Unseelie were forced to band together to protect their world, as every fey participated in a great spell designed to lift the curse for all eternity.

    And the spell worked, but at a great cost. While the fey still had their power, it was locked away inside of them, and nothing they tried could bring it to bear in the world. Driven insane by the loss of their power, the fey reasoned to meld themselves with the elements, and in doing unlock their power once more. The courts divided into four groups, one for each of the elements, and completed the melding.

    Such was the end of the fey, but it was the birth of the eight known species that now populate the world.​


    Light Air
    Naturally thin, willowy people slightly above average in height, Prists always have pale pastel skin, most commonly in a shade of blue, and eyes to match. Prists lack proper hair, but have strong crystalline growths along their head and down the back of their neck. These crystals are usually only a shade or two off from the color of their skin, if not completely identical.
    Dark Air
    Lean but strong, and usually quite tall, the Vysibas have pale caucasian skin and eyes a shade of red. Their ears are slightly pointed. Their hair does not grow in normal strands, but rather in thick, ropy tendrils, rather like dreads, that are sensitive to touch. This hair is always white or light grey.
    Light Water
    Slightly shorter and more stocky, Chalirs have a silver hue to their skin that can range in between shades of purple and blue. Their hair is always black, while their eyes are white. Chalirs have the ability to fluoresce their hair, eyes and skin, and each glow is completely unique in its colors.
    Dark Water
    Average in height but heavier in build, Zenians have darkly tanned to brown skin, with both hair and eyes a shade of blue. Despite their more solid build, Zenians are extremely flexible, and are able to take a lot of damage without becoming wounded.
    Light Earth
    Notably the most massive of the eight species, Anites are both tall and solidly built, with tan skin and brown eyes. Their hair, a shade of light brown, cannot grow longer than a couple of inches. However, horn-like spikes grow from their scalp, sticking out from between their hair. These spikes may sometimes grow on shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but can always be found on the head of both male and female.
    Dark Earth
    Average in both height and build, Nivas have tanned skin which can range in tone from golden to dark, with round faces. Their eyes are dark brown or black, but they can have a range of hair color in earth tones from blonde to black.
    Light Fire
    Tall, thin people with pale skin and a more pointed face, the Kel have light, fine, quick-growing hair, which usually reaches to about their knee. Their hair color is in a range from red to yellow, usually a fairly bright color.
    Dark Fire
    Tall, solid people, Drorm have pitch black skin and black hair, which stands out straight in a wild mane, and runs all the way down their back. Generally mocked as the most beast-like of the people, Drorm have keen senses and sharp reflexes to match their wild appearance.

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    #1 Peregrine, Nov 8, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
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    He was dressed like a prince, and nobody would suspect him; or, more important, nobody would find him.

    The thing about necromancers was that they- by nature- had a tendency to deal in shady affairs, to touch on matters to which no other soul would dare, to wrap themselves in swathes of death and finality and love every second of it.

    Shady affairs, in turn, attracted the shadiest of people, some of whom could shed a favorable light on even a necromancer: vagabonds with desperate desires, ordinary merchants of questionable honesty, influential high-society of extremely questionable morality. They came from all classes of humanity, of all manner of backgrounds, with all manner of methods to persuade and to bribe, for a necromancer’s services were unique, hard to come by and, consequently, not all that affordable.
    However, those foolish and desperate enough to contact and/or raise the dead were usually more than willing to fork out the funds.

    And typically, so long as someone was willing to pay and had the necessary means to do so, a necromancer would not hesitate to perform the services that the client sought (and would leave the poor fool to deal with the consequences himself, and then be on their way).

    Vitali Kristeva was no exception to any of the above, except for one small additive fact: while he was just as (if not moreso) amoral than his death-meddling kin, he possessed a sharper sense of how particular consequences unfolded and, thus, did not always see fit to play things up to the best interest of the client. Particularly not when they had a noteworthy hunger for power that should not be theirs to wield, a weakness for corruption, a finish primed to tarnish. Such traits were most commonly found in- ironically- those who already weighed heavily with power: kings and queens and the wealthy, governing families of cities and towns through the Northlands, and they weren’t hard to pick out. They were the ones who, in the deepest dark of night, arrived with a sack full of more gold than any mere commoner could dare to imagine, coming forth with their willingness to provide a very generous down payment, should their request be accepted.

    In fact, the most recent fool client to approach Vitali had been so eager to have his wish fulfilled, and so confident that the necromancer simply couldn’t turn him down had paid- and handsomely- up front. And Vitali Kristeva- who was nowhere near daft enough to turn down enough currency to easily keep himself luxuriously afloat for approximately a year on the road- accepted the job.

    And stole away that very same night, money securely tethered to his side underneath the long coat, without so much as a whisper of his departure or tracks to follow.
    And without fulfilling his end of the bargain.

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    There had been murmurings of him throughout the tavern all afternoon; not of his name, however, for he gave it to no one, not in a very long time. But even if they had known his name, he would not have registered as familiar, nor did he fit his own image anymore: his ink-black hair, once long and in a perpetual state of tangled or tousled, was now cropped to his neck, and the tattered, threadbare longcoat that had clad his medium stature for almost a decade had been discarded for a rich black blazer lined with glittering gold trim, ornate enough to be dashing but thick enough to be useful. The tailor who had crafted the suit fit for royalty had asked no questions when he had offered double the payment to have the outfit ready within a day, as he was eager to be well on his way before it finally dawned on his client that he had been cheated out of his money.
    And, so as to ensure the old man’s secrecy, he’d slipped him a few extra coins before taking off into the night.

    So it was not the necromancer of whom this hostelry was full of curious murmurings, but of the unfamiliar aristocrat in his place.

    “Ha’e ye seen that bloke? Th’one who been drinkin’ for hours?” One of the tavern’s regulars leaned across the counter to murmur to the Whistling Willows’ owner-and-barkeep, whisky already strong on his breath. “He been here longer th’n me, now! Hasn’t moved in hours! Maybe his ale finally took ‘im under?”

    The barkeep glanced up at the man in question. While he could only see the back of his dark head from that angle, the drunk had a point: it had been a good hour, at the very least, since he’d moved a muscle. And the bar-maids must have refilled his mug five times since he’d pushed through the doors, earlier that afternoon.

    “Y’think he’s some kind o’ royalty? Look at them pretty clothes. Not e’en his Lord Township comes a knockin’ on a tavern door in threads like thems!”

    “I don’t know. But the clothes really aren’t my first concern.” Heaving a sigh, the barkeep walked around the counter , with every intention to attend to yet another inebriated fool who clearly didn’t have the good sense to know when enough was enough. Pretty clothes or not, no one was going to lounge about in alcohol-induced unconsciousness in his establishment.
    “Come on, now. You can’t just sit here and-” No sooner did his hand encircle the rich-looking young man’s upper arm that he turned to stare at the barkeep, very much awake and- judging by the clarity of his unusually bright eyes- very aware.

    “Is there a problem?” He asked in a velvet-smooth voice laced with subtle ire, looking pointedly at the hand on his arm as though he desired nothing more than to burn a hole in it.

    “Oh- ah, no. No, I guess there isn’t.” Quickly unlatching his fingers, the barkeep took a step back and bowed his head in apology. “My apologies, Mister… uh…”

    “Rochefort. Baron Ilium Rochefort.” Emphasis was put on the title of Baron, and Vitali looked and acted very much the part, brushing off his sleeve as though the barkeep’s fingers had sullied the fine material of his blazer. “I am traveling through your town on my way to attend some important business affairs and thought I might take some time to myself before I resume my ventures. Although, it seems as though a man isn’t permitted to enjoy a quiet afternoon in a tavern which- I have been told- is supposed to be quite reputable.”

    The barkeep was positively red in the face, at this point, and wrung his hands while his flabbergasted mind raced to better this positively embarrassing (and, possibly, detrimental) situation. Should someone as affluent as a Baron spread word that his establishment was not accommodating, then the Whistling Willows would nary see another wealthy traveler walk through its doors. “Please accept my sincerest apologies, Baron. I beg your forgiveness for this misunderstanding… Here.” Before Vitali could comment, he withdrew a plain cotton handkerchief from his pocket, clean and white and looking just as neat as the day it was made. In the corner, the initials E.H. were stitched with gold thread. “Whether or not you’ve got a room for the night, take this to the hotel across town- the one with the bright green doors. It’s our best accommodations, and the lady who runs it… Well, she’s fancied me for a while, see. Show her the handkerchief and tell her that Rhys sent you, and you’ll get a room on the house. It’s the least I can do…”

    “I believe the least you can do would be to waive the fees on the beverages, to top it off.” Pulling off the best aristocratic scowl he could muster, Vitali took the handkerchief and rolled his shoulders back. “Do see that this indignity does not happen again.”

    More sputtered apologies followed, then faded into the background when the barkeep returned to his spot behind the counter, and the necromancer returned to what he had been so focused on as to have appeared to be asleep. The broken pocket watch in his hand- one that he had confiscated off of a recently fallen cadaver a few days back- spoke to him faintly, but not yet clearly enough to discern its story. Its previous owner simply hadn’t been dead long enough; perhaps the spirit was still stuck in a postmortem state of denial, something not uncommon among the newly deceased.

    Since he was getting nowhere with it (and probably look more than a little out of sorts, staring at a broken watch for hours), he replaced the trinket in a pocket on the inside of his blazer, contemplating refilling his mug one last time before he would be on his way. But he’d already done so about four too many times, and undoubtedly that had been the reason as to why the barkeep had wandered over in the first place (after all, it wasn’t exactly a common trait to be as impervious to the effects of alcohol as he was).

    Figuring it best to stop while he was ahead, the necromancer rose and made to leave the Whistling Willows, holding his posture straight and his chin high as any aristocrat would. Really, with the right clothes and the right attitude, it wasn’t so hard to come across as one of the affluent socialites with whom he’d had many dealings in the past. As long as he was careful, nobody would suspect him as the necromancer Vitali.

    At least, he had to count on that, until such a time that he left the Northlands completely. When you double-crossed people in power in this Kingdom, paving a new path was the wisest decision to make. Because if Vitali knew anything about people with more money than they had brains, it was that they did not forget.
     
  3. The game began the moment Vitali stepped out of the tavern. Coming a few seconds after him was a man, dressed in the kind of clothes that would have been expected in a bar like this. The man had carefully nursed his way through a bottle of wine, before handing over his coin, rather reluctantly, and making his way out into the street with only a faint wobble to mark his steps. He paused once he was down from the steps, lifting his arms up in a rather magnificent stretch before turning and walking off down the street in the same direction as Vitali. He turned off a couple blocks later.

    The man’s signal was quickly relayed to Katherine Winters, who let out an irritable sigh before getting to her feet and turning to lean against the opposite wall of the little cubby she had been occupying. Finally. Kess had been sitting in this dank and dingy alleyway for a solid four hours now, without even a fire to chase away the chill that permeated these back alleys. She shook out her hair, a magnificent shade of purple that proclaimed her ancestry to everyone, even at a passing glance, before carefully straightening out the wrinkles that had formed in the tight black trousers that clung tight to her thighs. One foot tipped up, coming to rest against the brick wall behind her back, and Kess considered her pose complete.

    From there, it was a matter of waiting. Every piece had already been put into play, and there was nothing Kess could do anymore to influence what would happen. Either Vitali would end up walking down this path, or he wouldn’t. If he didn’t, for any number of possible reasons, well, then he wasn’t the person Kess needed. She would have to keep looking.

    It truly was an artful dance, and one that could only be pulled off with the most skilled of people. It was one thing to tail a person without them finding out. It was quite another to set up a tail that the tailed person was supposed to recognize, without letting said tail know that they were supposed to see it. Even more challenging was to slowly build up the complexity of the tail to force the target to depart from normal routine in an attempt to lose the tail, without letting him know that was exactly what the tail wanted him to do.

    It was something that had given Kess many a sleepless night since word of Vitali’s con had begun to spread through the underworld, nights she had spent pouring over a map of the city, running through countless possibilities and scenarios. Yet, never once had she been tempted to rush forward with the plan, or risk missing something. If this was going to be an accurate test, it had to be flawless. Simply good would not do.

    Kess had never doubted that she would come up with a plan. And she had. It was, in the end, a routine that would tell her everything she needed to know. The chances of it failing were high, but not because of any flaw in her design. If it went wrong, it would be because Vitali was not the candidate she needed. In fact, the chances of it working out were many many times smaller than the chances of it succeeding.

    All the same, Kess had high hopes for this one. She always wanted her candidates to work out, but she wanted this one more than she wanted most. And it wasn’t just because this would be the perfect moment to set the next step of her plan into motion. It was also because Vitali’s power would be undeniably useful in her current endeavor.

    She tried to keep herself from being too expectant. After all, if he didn’t spot her tail, she could always just turn him over for the reward. And if he lost her tail... well then, maybe he deserved to go free. Yet she knew, the moment a light briefly reflected in the window above her to let her know that he was coming and her heart leapt with pleasure, that she had failed in her effort. Not that it mattered. He was coming. Everything was falling into place.

    “First time I’ve ever seen a nobleman leave the street for a dark, deserted alleyway because a couple people were tailing after him, I think.” Kess began calmly, as Vitali came into sight. His formal clothes stood out in this place like a sore thumb. There was no doubt that he was her target, and Kess couldn’t help the brief smile of victory that flickered across her face. He would be perfect. “Then again, if we are both being honest, I still haven’t seen a nobleman leave a bright street for a dark alley, have I?” She laughed slightly, a surprisingly bright sound for such a shady place. For a moment the sound of her laugh echoed undisturbed through the space.

    “By this point,” Kess finally began again, acting as though she didn’t have a care in the world what Vitali was doing. He could have simply continued walking right past her, and she, in turn, would have kept on talking as though she didn’t notice. “Word has trickled down to all the right places. Coin has been passed to the right hands. And rumor of a baron of whom no one has ever heard before, and a Niva one at that, won’t stay quiet for very long, hmm?”

    Of course, for all her nonchalance, Kess was very interested in what Vitali was going to do. If he continued straight, or turned down the opportunity she was about to offer him, well, then there was a large Drorm waiting just around the corner, with an amulet designed to counteract any magic Vitali might throw his way. One way or another, Kess would get something out of this. She simply hoped Vitali wouldn’t be fool enough to completely ignore what she had to say.

    “Way I see it, word’s already spread to the guards at the gate, and no rat’s going to let you walk out of their tunnels when there’s such a pretty price on your heads, no matter what sum you give for their cooperation. You are trapped.”

    Finally, Kess pushed forward off the wall, emerging from the shadows. Her face was sharp but pretty, with a straight nose, full lips, and a well-defined jaw. All of it was artfully framed by cascading locks of dark purple hair. She smiled at Vitali.

    “Unless, of course, you have someone who had an interest in keeping you out of other people’s hands. Someone who has a greater interest in your unique skills than in the delicious sum that has been placed on your head. Maybe then, just maybe, you’ll be able to last the next 48 hours without getting caught, and having that handsome head removed from your shoulders, or being brought, bound and gagged, to a man who doubtless wishes to do much more than simply take your head off.”
     
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