Scales For Hire


My Muse Hates Me

Original poster
((OOC thread, for asking to join and for posting ideas ---> ))

Tethebi had never been a fan of large cities. They were far too populated for his liking. A lot of people meant a lot of trouble for a guy like him. More thieves, more pickpockets, more drunks. He also had issues with people stepping on or tripping over his tail, which happened a lot in bigger cities. He'd even had a carriage run his tail over once, and that had taken months to heal. Hurt like nothing else, too.

But he was desperate this time, damn desperate. It had been a month since his last decent meal, aside from a demeaning snack on carrion he'd found on the side of the road. That singular experience had been enough for him. It was time for real meat.

He needed a job to make gold to make a butcher prepare a meal for him. It was that simple. The one problem was that few contracts were available these days. He'd done everything from saving kittens to taking lives. But there wasn't a single soul in the country that felt like offering him work.

The snake of a man wandered through the city, his whole body aching for something to bite into. He slithered his way through a back alley, needing a break from the bustle of the main way. He stopped a moment to rest against the walls of the alley, closing his eyes and sighing.

"Oi...I've had enough of this," he grunted to himself, scratching his neck irately.
A red, white, and gold jester held onto the wall upside down above his head then, and cocked his head at him. "Had enough of what?" The man had caught his attention a while back, when he'd seen him stumble into town. He was clearly and outsider, and hadn't been to this section of the kingdom before.

Strangers were good. Entertainment, something to occupy his time since his... brother, got mot of the attention and money back at court. He shoved the unpleasant thought aside, and held a few coins out to him. "I can tell you're hungry. Not from around here, are you?"

The castle loomed not far away, and realizing he was late for a show in front of a particular group of nobles, he hopped down, and pointed. "The castle's that way. In fact, I have to go there now, because I'm late for something. The king will kill me if I don't show up," he said, and then added hastily, "figuratively, of course."
Tethebi couldn't help but jump. His thoughts tended to consume him when he was hungry, and this time was no exception. He hissed out of reflex, then shook his head and stared suspiciously at the jester.

"Very hungry, and no, I'm not a fan of cities," he growled airily, flicking his tongue out. The money the jester held had Tet's attention. "What's the catch?"

The comment regarding the castle had not gone unheard. It was turning over in his head, and would probably be given more thought after he'd eaten. Kings meant wealth, which might hold prospect for him. He would have to commit the jester's scent to memory so he could track him later.
The Red One laughed. "Catch? No catch. I can tell you're hungry, and I've got plenty of that to spare." He looked back over at the castle. "There happens to be a party tonight up there, something about the prince finding a bride in another state that could bring more wealth and land to our area. My brother and I are the main event, and if I don't get up there for it, half of the show is missing," he grinned a large fangy smile, and motioned to the coins. "He's generous, you know. The king isn't stingy. The people here love him. He helps them when they need it, and he grants them things they want, as long as it's realistic and within reason. You needing a job, especially a killing one, could aid him greatly. Just... steer clear of my brother. He's a moron," he said flatly, and then began a slow walk to the opening of the ally.

'He better not ruin it,' he thought to himself. 'I want to watch, and that's not too much to ask. If he steals the spotlight again, I'm going to slaughter that smothered blue...' He veered off in his head with quite a few insults. In the past, when the king had some sort of advisor, assassin, or knight come in to do work for him, Nexus was the one who was sent to be his advisor, or to give aid. He was known for being wise, and thoughtful on things, almost a philosopher. But Splice was known to be sporadic, obnoxious, and often rash, which wasn't very helpful.
Tethebi flicked his tongue out again, almost as though he was checking to see if the coins were a hallucination. When he was finished processing this event, he carefully took the coins offered and slid them into his pouch.

"Generous, eh? Maybe I'll drop by later this evening. If I come to the castle without eating properly, your party might be minus a noble," he joked, grinning almost as toothily as the jester had.

He would judge the other jester for himself, but he kept this jester's words in mind. Sibling rivalries tended to speak both lies and truths of those involved.

"Good luck, and thank you," he called, turning to the opposite end of the alley.


He wasted no time in finding a butcher. He could smell the raw meat for miles and intended to buy the biggest sack of flesh the coin could get him.

The butcher was decidedly shocked at Tet's appearance, but treated him as a customer all the same. He took Tet's order and got right to work in the back. When it was ready, he beckoned for Tet to come into the back of the store.

The partial cow carcass looked glorious, juicy and fresh, hanging there on the hook. Tet tossed the coins to the man and approached the meat hook, his eyes not leaving the meat as he drew his sword and laid it down beside him. "Thank you."

He slipped his tail around the meat, using its significantly greater strength to lift the meat from the hook and rest it on the floor. "Now, leave me to fill my stomach."

The butcher nodded and moved out to the front of the shop. "Enjoy, reptile," he said as he closed the curtain.

Tet wasted no time. He lifted his bastard sword from the floor and set the meat down, then began cutting it. He sectioned the meat into three pillow-sized pieces, and coiled up on the floor. Sighing, he closed his eyes and focused on the muscles in his face. There was an almost imperceptible twitch in his facial muscles as his jaw unhinged. He picked up a piece of meat with both hands and brought it to his lips. He opened his mouth wide, thrice its usual size, and sunk his fangs into the meat. With each bite, he brought it deeper into his throat, stretching everything a great amount to allocate room for the meat to pass. It was a decidedly disturbing and jaw-dropping sight.
The fool dashed up to the castle just in time. The main hall had begun to fill up with nobles, and he saw the king rest on his throne ahead of them all. He sat so regally, and calm. How did this throng of people, with their gossiping and religious banter, not annoy him in the slightest? Splice always held a slight disdain for each of them, all for different reasons. There was Gertie, who slept with her best friend's husband. There was Andrew, who choked his first born to death because it wasn't the right gender. Each of them had something about them that made them completely disgusting. And while Splice held that notion of disgust, he also held that notion of love. He adored the drama. Every last bit of it indulged him. He was never bored as long as there was someone to hate, or something going on.

It's why his brother angered him.

Nexus, on the other hand, hated everything about it. He didn't hate it the same way Splice did. He actually despised every bit. If gossip flew around, he'd tell the king, and he'd investigate, and solve the problem. Andrew, for example, had gotten off because he managed to point the blame to someone else, who took the rope for him. But Splice knew. Splice knew how he'd gotten fate to shift for him. Aside from Nexus, no one else was aware of his murder. Other trivial things didn't seem to matter that much. Gertie was just a rumored whore. Common and boring. There was a touch of mistrust on Nexus' view, but he didn't bother to indulge himself in it at all.

Which is why when the king favored him, Splice lost his sense of sanity. Ever since his brother had gotten the better treatment in the throne room, he understood that he would always be second best. Worse, that Nexus hated him in return meant that the other nobles would listen to him if he complained. Therefore, he held a happy face, and strode into the center of the room. Nexus awaited him, and when the two joined arm in arm, they bowed. "Ladies and gentlemen," they said together, and the crowd fell silent.
After Tethebi had finished swallowing his meal, let his digestive muscles pack it all down, and picked up his few belongings, he thought about the event that had transpired earlier. Jesters were interesting fellows that one had to be careful with, but this one seemed fairly genuine. He'd smelled no deceit on him, at least regarding the king.

Wiping his mouth and checking to make sure he didn't smell like raw beef, Tet made for the castle. He followed the scent of the jester, all the way to the castle doors. Would he be allowed in? After checking with the castle guards, he discovered that the jester was right: the king was fairly relaxed and was allowing anyone in to watch the event. Tet slithered in, careful to not let his tail get caught in the doors as they shut.

The palace was immense. Any normal person would need directions to find their way to the ballroom. Tet had his tongue, though, and that was more than enough. He followed the most recent scent of the jester to the ballroom, and watched from the back. He hoped to not draw too much attention.
They were in motion now. Nexus doing tricks with ice, and Splice doing tricks with fire. Both would dance together, and occasionally they would mix powers, producing a steam and a hissing sound that would make a cloud over everyone in the room, who cheered and squealed.

They twirled, and whirled, and occasionally would come up with a few witty jokes to splay at those who stood too close, or were in the front line of the crowd around their ring of magic. Splice made the ladies blush, and Nexus pulled gags on a few people, which often left both kinds of parties embarrassed, and with flushed cheeks.

When they were done with their first part of the show, the king called a halt in order to bring in the feast. The kitchen cooks had slaved over preparing it for three days, enough to feed everyone there, and were already out of room to store everything. They brought table after table of bread, wine, cheese, meat, and fruit. The nobles crowded around it, and took what they wanted as they came and went. No lines were needed with a feast this large.

The two fools held back. Their position was almost lower than a peasant, and they were the last to get their meal. What was left was plenty, and it was far better than eating the table scraps most other kings left their fools, but at the same time, it was still slightly degrading. Nexus in particular, Splice noticed, took a seat on the arm of the king's chair in the front of the room, crossing his legs, and grinning down at everyone. "Pompous idiot," Splice mumbled, and took his seat on the floor below a noble's table.
Tethebi was impressed by the jesters' displays of skill, and laughed at their pranks. He had to admire the ability they had to create laughter. After all, he could rarely get a smirk out of those he tried to humor, let alone laughter. He blamed it on his scales.

He searched with his eyes for the jester from before, and located him near the table of a noble. He tried to make eye contact, hoping that the jester might introduce him to the king. He imagined that, as with most nobility, approaching the king without sanction would lead to a swift punishment. He leaned carefully against a wall, not wanting to scuff anything.

Tet was a stranger to this style of life. Carefree, never hungry, not having to pay for entertainment. In fact, this kind of living bugged him, and not only because he sort of envied them. Mostly it was the fact that they inherited wealth and didn't have to work for anything. He grunted and shifted a bit, startling a nearby noble. He held back a chuckle and smiled at the man before going back to watching and waiting.
When Splice was finished with his little meal, he felt eyes. At first thinking his brother was staring at him, or maybe the king, who wanted his attention, he looked toward the small throne. But his moronic brother was too busy entertaining the king, and making him laugh. The king's barrel belly shook, and Nexus decided to flop himself into his lap and act like a girl, making fun of some of the female nobles in the room, and acting like the front prongs of his hat were ties to a bonnet. He rolled his eyes in complete disgust, and continued to search for whose eyes were on him.

He spotted Tethebi at the back wall, leaning and freaking out one of the other nobles, who watched him with wide eyes. Not many saw someone like him before, especially around these parts. Smirking, he set aside his dish for a maid, and then strolled over. A few of the guests reached out to grab some of the little golden bells on his outfit, but he danced away from them lithely. "Well, hello there. I suppose you're here to see the king," he said in a playful voice, and the pointed to where his brother obnoxiously rested in his lap. "You'll have to get through him," he said with a touch of darkness. "He kind of enjoys stealing the king's attention."
Tet's eyes trailed to the portion of the room that the jester had gestured to. There sat the king, in all his rotundness, carrying on with a jester of opposite colors to the one Tet had befriended. Ahh, the heftiness of royalty. Tet had never seen a thin king in his life, and he attributed it to a life of sitting on one's arse and having feasts for every meal. Not that Tet would say that in front of royalty. It was just his opinion.

Tet watched the two men curiously, but only for a moment. He turned back to his new friend and nodded.

"Ahh, your brother, I presume," he said with a sideways grin. "How do you suggest I go about speaking with him without getting into trouble? I've heard tell of folks being beheaded for entering a castle uninvited, let alone approaching a king."

He held out a gloved, three-fingered hand. "My name is Tethebi, by the way. I don't believe we exchanged names earlier."
Splice held out a red gloved hand, his claws stretched the fabric underneath. They hid his claws, but only to a degree. "Splice," he replied. "And I can get you to the king. Especially since now that I think about it, I referred you to him. My brother is a kumkwat." He took Tethebi up to the front of the room, and bowed a deep, an dramatic bow. His long hat prongs touched the floor, and the metal bells tinkled. "My king, I have a friend who would like to speak to you about something."

Nexus sat still then, mid joke, and turned to look at him. The king chuckled. "I am not the king," he said in a suggestive tone, "he is. You speak to him if you want to get anywhere."

The blue fool drew himself up, and acted as aristocratic as he could. "Yes, sir, what do you report?" His tone was silly, but in mock authority. Splice placed a few fingers to his temples.

"Nexus, not now."

"You don't hold much of a sense of humor, for a jester," he retorted coldly, then crossed his arms, and stuck his tongue out at him. Splice felt the anger build, but he held back.

"This man would like to speak to you, sir," he emphasized with a light snarl. The whole scene passed in front of the king, who tried to hide a smile as best he could.

"You may speak," Nexus said stupidly, and then held his arms out to the king, so that he could continue.

"Thank you, fool," he said, and then shook his head. "You'll have to forgive him. He doesn't take anything seriously at all. Your red friend there, is quite the opposite, for a fool."
Tethebi could feel the hatred emanating from Splice toward the blue jester. He could likewise feel the cold indifference the blue jester held for his brother. He really didn't know what to think, other than the fact that they probably made for one hell of a show when arguing. He held back a chuckle and shook his head.

When the King addressed him, he stood straighter and bowed his whole torso, unable to truly kneel without legs. "Well, your Majesty, I'm nothing more than a warrior for hire. Splice here saw me wandering through town and kindly gave me some coin to fill my stomach. Serious sort of fool or not, it was he who helped me, and I am very grateful." He straightened up and made eye contact with the man on the throne. "He also mentioned that you may be able to help me keep busy, contract-wise. I've looked high and low for work and have been coming up empty."

Tet felt his spine itching. He could feel the eyes of the guards and many of the nobles on him. After all, he could easily swallow a person whole(not that humans tasted any good to begin with). He let it slide this time; after all, an outburst in front of the king would be rather unbecoming, even for him.
The king bowed his head, and smiled, placing a hand by his mouth, and whispering, "Don't mind them, they like to stick their noses into everything. The trick is to act like nothing interesting is going on." He winked. The blue fool smiled, and held his hands to his mouth, his eyes turning into little upside-down U's in his amusement. The red one snarled, but held back. "Besides that," he said in a louder voice, "That one over there, needs friends." He pointed at Splice then. "He isn't very social. I'm surprised he even spoke to you."

Splice shifted his little curly-toed feet, and then glanced away. "It's kind of lonely sitting around by myself, while he gets the spotlight," he said bitterly under his breath, so quietly he was sure no one else heard. But Nexus glanced his way a quick second.

"I have an idea!" He jumped up on the arm of the king's chair, and grabbed his arm. "Why doesn't he stay with us, and you can send him out to do work? I mean really, there's bound to be someone out there you hate?" He jumped up and down in a giddy dance.
The scaled man nodded and shifted a bit, bringing his tail closer to him and resting it nearby. He didn't want it tripped on. "I don't think I'll ever be used to it, to be honest. But I let it go...usually."

Tet laughed at the comment about Splice needing friends. "Don't we all? 'A world without comrades is colored grey', a friend of mine once said."

He cracked his neck, a sound that echoed through the room. It was followed by a smirk at the jester's proposition. "If you'd have me, I would forever be in your debt. Send me near and far. Whether the task lies in heaven or hell, I do as asked."

It was true. He had done such a wide assortment of things in the 7 years he'd been working. There were times when he guarded chicken pens and chased down lost pets. There were also times when he fought in lopsided wars, and killed others for horrid - or even noble - things they'd done. He was not proud of all of it; he did not agree with all of it. But he did not let his demons haunt him, at least not to the point of affecting work. Even a creature such as he needed to survive. Not everyone pitied him when he was hungry or cared to help him. The scars on his hide were proof of that, as well as everything else he'd gone through.
The king nodded. "Most jobs here in the court, revolve around... assassinations." He whispered the last word, and winked. "There are people all over the place who want this crown, and sadly enough for them, I'm not really willing to give it up. This means that most of those who dare to do so, are nobles themselves." He pointed to the rest of the room. "In time, you'll know that about five of them have tried to murder me. I shall return the favor, if you are willing to take up the job. You'll be paid heftily." In advance payment, and encouragement, the king handed Tethebi a small bag of silver coins. "That's just a start. I love my kingdom and it's people, and I'll do just about anything to keep them safe, and out of the wrong hands."

The blue fool smiled down at Tethebi from his perch, and swung his feet like a child. When the red brother, and the king became occupied in saying something, he leaned down to him. "Listen to not a word he says," he whispered quietly, and pointed a long, sharp, gloved claw at his brother. "One of us is a liar, the other is not. However, I tell you he is the liar." He winked then, and a large grin spread his cheeks. "That is, unless I'm lying."

The other brother looked, and turned around again. He rolled his eyes to his majesty, but then brightened that he had accepted Tethebi's offer. "Hopefully he accepts yours. I need someone to babble with in this... lonely place," he said in a mocking tone, and then did a twirl for the audience.
Tet's mindset shifted as the thought of killing was reintroduced to him. He was not entirely fond of killing, but it was nonetheless an enticing offer that held much weight for him. This king did indeed seem to care for his people, and that made it easier for Tethebi to make a decision.

He made no show of checking the amount in the little bag the king handed him. He simply took it in his hand and bowed as best as he could without legs. "I will be your blade, sir king. Wherever you see fit to send me, I will go."

He had never been good at showboating. Really, this was all off the top of his head, recycled phrases he'd heard ten times over from many knights. This was mainly to give the nobles something to gawk at, something to make those he'd be hunting become tempted to flee the country. Not that that would stop Tet. He would look high and low for a target, if the pay was good enough. And this pay would fill his stomach for longer than he'd live.

He looked up at the jesters and grinned. "I'd also be more than happy to entertain you two, instead of vice versa."

Tet found himself wondering if he wouldn't get pulled into some sibling rivalry between the two at some point. It seemed much more than likely.
Nexus bowed in return, a show that Tet was in a stance of authority higher than his own. "We are merely fools, sir. We're not exactly high on the food chain when it comes to nobles, however, it's quite likely that those who make fools of us become the butt of our jokes." The last was a slight threat. "But we're harmless, aside from that point. We've been attacked several times, and my brother's been the one to take a hint of poison once."

The other fool interjected. "However, I survived," he grinned large and obnoxious. "I'm the most hated of the two. My temper is short, and I've been told I can be cynical. It all depends on point of view, really." He picked a claw like it was a fingernail, and gained an air of snobbishness.

Nexus turned to his king then. "Shall we follow him? Show him the ropes of the kingdom, and where his rooms and such are? Or do you plan to send a page for that?" He looked disappointed on the last part. There had been too much time sitting on the throne today, and he'd been looking for some new excitement.

He nodded. "Go, jesters. Just make sure the both of you return for this evening. It's hard for me to fall asleep on my own, without one of you singing me something."

When Splice saw his moment, he slipped up to Tet, and smiled. "I think you're going to be a lot of fun."
Tethebi was more inclined to enjoy the company of those he already knew, as opposed to meeting a new person simply to show him his room and the layout of the castle. Though his face barely budged, deep down he was quite pleased to have the jesters settle him in. Far too often he met interesting people, then had to leave them to attend to business. No fun at all, at least from his perspective.

He looked to the fools and let the corner of his mouth turn up, eyes alight with curiosity and eagerness.

"Well, my friends, I suppose we'd better be off, then. I'd hate to keep the king from his sleep." He bowed to the king again, then looked back to the jester brothers. "Let's get a move on, then?"
((Note: Jester has taken a leave of absence. She gave me her blessing to continue, and allow others into the RP.))

It came on suddenly. His visions always started with the mother of all headaches. Tet fell to the ground, supporting himself with his hands. He groaned and raised one hand to his face, hissing in pain. His sight blurred, then faded to black. His hearing and sense of touch went. Then, the vision itself began to play out.

"Will you ever come to your senses?"

A face with both no detail and all the detail in the world appeared in his hazy mind, smiling darkly. Its eyes were focused, but not on him. They seemed to be peering straight through him, into the void.

"This is not your place. This is not your purpose," the face spat, glaring. "You cannot know what you are meant for. It is beyond your comprehension, child."

"Who are you? I'm not a goddamn child," Tet growled. "Why do you bother me with these visions?"

"It is simple. I am everything, yet I am nothing. I am here to guide you from your follies and put you on the path to destruction."

Tet snarled. "You say that every time. I won't be your puppet, you bastard. Leave me alone!"

The face laughed, then left him in the darkness. Tethebi could hear the laugh echo around him, within him. He shivered.

Then, as quickly as it had started, the vision ended. Tet wobbled to his full height, sighing and avoiding eye contact. He thanked the gods that he did not speak aloud whenever the visions occurred. "Forgive me, but I need to go outside for a while. I have to clear my head and get some fresh air. I will be back, I assure you."

With that, he composed himself enough to leave the castle.
Outside, night was falling. The darkness felt good to Tet. Headaches from visions were the worst; they made all of his senses triple in sensitivity, and the light in the castle had burned his eyes.

He coiled up against the castle wall, closed his eyes, and tilted his head back with an exhausted moan. Ah, hell. Sir Face has great timing, he thought. I probably looked like I was dying in there. Great way to make a first impression, you arse.