Short Change Hero

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  1. Name: Scarlett Brennan
    Age: 22
    Personality: She has what many would call an 'abrasive' personality. Years spent as a sword for hire have made her brusque and aggressive and very easy to anger. She likes a good drink at the bar as well as a good game of cards where she can win some coin. Actually, Scarlett likes anything that gains her coin, she has a very greedy personality. Despite that, she's an honorable person. Or, as honorable as a person like her can afford to be. She doesn't kill innocents or involve herself in anything that ties in with slavery or the slave trades and claims that there 'is not glory in the killing of someone who can barely lift a satchel let alone a sword.' She loves a fight however, and even more so, loves a challenge. Though sometimes she mistakes bravery for recklessness. Despite that, she isn't arrogant however, though sometimes she acts it. Her laugh is loud and can only be compared to that of a hearty sea man, and her humor is crude. She loves to banter or make jokes, even if the situation does not necessarily call for it.
    Biography: Scarlett was once the daughter of a whore who, like many, gave her up to the church/chantry to take care of. And Scarlett, like so many others, ran away from the church as soon as she was able and became a street rat. She started off simply stealing small food items to keep herself and some of the younger kids fed for the night, but eventually, became skilled enough to help with smuggling operations into and out of the kingdom. It made great money, but because of the business, Scarlett had to constantly watch her back because of the bounty on her head in some towns. But the smuggling came in handy because it taught her her way around a sword, or at least efficiently enough that she could do small jobs for people for some honest cash. Eventually, she became skilled enough and made a small name for herself among the lower class as a cheap but efficient sword-for-hire. And the more she was hired, the more her skills grew.
  2. Scarlett looked around the large hall in utter confusion. Her head swiveled back and forth as she tried to find a proper exit. The intruders were everywhere and people -- nobles and servants alike -- lay on the ground wounded or dead. She herself had killed three men in the chaos that had ensued, and she has still not quite figured out what had happened. One second, she was leaning against a wall in the very back of the ballroom simply watching the nobles dance and revel in the crown prince's coronation, and the next, men were killing each other left and right. The marbled floors were stained in red and there was screaming from all around. A coup, Scarlett's mind supplied the word for her. This was a coup. They were overthrowing the royal family.

    At that realization, Scarlett knew that she had to save her own ass and high-tail it out of there. There was nothing for her to do here, she was a simple merc who got caught up in the mess that is nobility. And since she did not wear the armor of the royal guard, nor the armor of the rebels, they were generally leaving her alone -- for the most part. As silently as she could, Scarlett slipped through the grand palace doors and into the high-ceiling hallways with a stealth that only someone with experience in sneaking could achieve with so much armor on. As quietly but quickly as she could, she made her way through the palace in search of an exit that would prove sufficient enough to let her slip away unseen. The screaming and chaos became a dull noise in the background to the point where Scarlett could hear her own heart wildly beating in her chest. "This..." she began, "is going to be hard."
  3. To be proper about it, the dancing had been in celebration of the presentation of the prince the day prior. Royal ceremonies tended to be convoluted, full of pomp and circumstance, and coronations more than most.

    The significance - not that most people cared - was that, until the rite of crowning later today, His Royal Highness James Alaric Cristophos, by The Grace of the Gods Prince of Zatherin, Duke of the Black Mountain and Earl of the Riddermarch... was not His Majesty, the King.

    This meant, to abbreviate a great deal of politics, that the chain of succession still proceeded from His Departed Majesty Robert Julian Augustus. As such... well.

    To be less proper about it, the chain of succession proceeded as it always had - from the edge of a sword.

    The attack was well-timed; nearly perfectly so. The crown prince should have been making his own entrance just as the men burst into the hall. His entourage was there, waiting in the corridor in silks and bejewelled swords. Prince James should have been in their center as the invaders swept down the hall. The sword in his enameled scabbard should have been one of those raised against the invaders - or one of those still sheathed because of the attack's swiftness.

    It wasn't.

    Luck. He'd torn his doublet on the way, and sent his retinue on ahead while he and his squire went back to his quarters.

    They didn't see it coming.

    But they heard the screaming.

    Harold - the squire - went to look. He came back moments later, his face white.

    James didn't know where Harold was, now. They'd been together, but-

    There. Ahead. There was the clank of armor moving through a corridor. James pressed himself back against the wall and strained his ears. Were they coming this way? His heart hammered in his chest beneath the linen shirt and brown jacket he now wore. They were the plainest things in his wardrobe, used for weapons practice and muddy hunts, though they were still of fine materials and elegantly tailored. The bag over his shoulder was crushed to the wall and the jeweled pommel of his sword dug into his side, but James didn't care.

    Were they coming this way? He thought, yes - no! They were turning away. He was safe for another moment.

    One more moment.

    He had to get out of here... and fast.
  4. Scarlett silently cursed the armor she currently bore, it was far too loud and didn't do well for sneaking despite the minor experience she had in the art. For a second, she entertained the idea of removing it so she could move faster, quicker, and far more stealthily than she has been. But the idea was quickly dismissed. For one, this was the only armor she owned and getting a new one would be no easy task later on, and besides, if more of those men began pouring into the palace, they would have to force her arm and she would have no choice but to fight her way out. She definitely wanted her armor if it ever came to that.

    But the clanging aside, she was still able to carry her weight fairly, especially considering the large greatsword strapped to her back. It was heavy, but the weight of it was familiar to her and has allowed her to be successful against surges of enemies for years. It hasn't let her down yet, and she hoped that it would carry her through tonight as well.

    Looking around, the surroundings were unfamiliar to her, the castle was grand and all the hallways looked very much the same to her. Still, what she needed was to reach either the guard's barracks, the dungeon, or a part of the castle wall she would be able to sneak herself over (though the latter of those three choices would be the most difficult to achieve).

    Turning a corner, her senses piqued and she had the distinct feeling of someone's presence. A soldier? she thought, but then quickly dismissed it. No, I would have been taken down by this point and there would be more than just one.. Instead of wasting time trying to figure it out, Scarlett decided for a more direct approach. "If you're trying to hide from me, you're not doing a very good job," she spoke aloud, but not too loud lest she attract the attention of soldiers in the vicinity. "I'm not your enemy, whoever you are," she added. Well, she's not their enemy until they try and attack her, that is.
  5. James cursed silently at the sound of a voice. He'd thought - but then, when was he ever alone?

    Should he run? He didn't recognize the voice. It could be anyone - anyone at all. It could be one of the invaders, and oh, he had some guesses who those might be - or at least who they might be working for. If this was...

    But they wouldn't be calling to him. They had no reason to do so.

    So... perhaps he could believe this stranger who claimed to not be his enemy.

    He drew himself up from the wall. The royal posture, standing erect with shoulders wide. It gave him a certain gravitas despite being of only average height and on the slim side - days spent in the scriptorium and council chambers had that effect.

    All told, for a royal heir, James Alaric Christophos was not that remarkable in appearance. He had plain brown hair, neatly trimmed, and an oval face that, while pleasant, was not particularly striking. His tutors had, for that reason, placed particular emphasis on maintaining a regal bearing in his comportment lessons. About the only remarkable part was the pale grey eyes that seemed to follow the royal line - but even those had been passed to many a lesser house and bastard, over the years.

    Perhaps he would have been better served by adopting the postures his fencing instructor taught, but he'd been a somewhat indifferent student. Another mistake, that.

    Mistakes and all, he wasn't dead yet. James approached the sound of that voice. Still careful, but not trying to hide from her... now. Those grey eyes sought, and found a warrior, one without the signs of a house. A trap? Had the invaders found him missing and sought to lure him?

    His hand went to the hilt of his sword, though he did not draw it. Yet. "What is your allegiance?"
  6. Scarlett wished for the sake of the person hiding that they would come out of hiding. She realized that more than likely, she was probably one of the few people who was here that lived outside the royal palace, and if Scarlett wanted a way out, she would need the help of someone working from within the palace who knew the ins and outs. She had guesses the person hiding from her was a servant most likely, but had been proven wrong as the young man stepped out.

    She took him in for a second, the clothes were simple, but expertly crafted. Certainly, not the clothes that one of servant class would wear. However, that didn't give her much to go off of. Her eyes also didn't miss the way his hand moved to the hilt of his sword. Smart, she thought bemusedly. When he asked her allegiance, a small smirk appeared on her lips. Very smart.

    "To the highest bidder," she replied simply. "I have no part in these royal politics, if that's what you're asking. I was hired as an extra hand and it seems I have overstayed my welcome." Scarlett kept her piercing, dark gaze on the man. He seemed to be close to her age, give or take some years.

    He won't last 'til the morn if he stays here, she thought condescendingly, yet truthfully. But then again, neither would she if she didn't find a way out soon.

    Her eyes swept around the entire palace as her ears tried to pick up some noise, but she heard nothing other than the sound of night outside the windows and a battle raging in the distant heart of the palace. Instinctively, her hand rested to where her greatsword lay strapped to her back. We can't stay here for much longer, Scarlett thought, the smirk long-since gone from her lips.
  7. A stupid man did not last long amidst the games of royalty. Then again, it seemed James was not lasting either. Perhaps Scarlett was over-generous in her assessment.

    His gaze remained intent on her as she answered, though his ears strained for other sounds. There were still battles, but they were fewer now.

    Bad news. It meant the victor would be sweeping the palace to secure it.

    "Ah. A mercenary." Not one with a true loyalty to any cause, but it was not a role he had a particular aversion to. A good mercenary would be loyal enough while they served, and - if not necessarily stay bought - at least advise their employer of counter-offers and give a chance to match.

    His eyes went to her sword, and a faint smile touched his lips. "A deal, then. My knowledge of a passage out for your aid in reaching it."

    There was a hidden tunnel from the crypts that led outside. An escape route for royalty - but thus far, each of his attempts to reach it had been foiled. With a defender on his side, though... it might yet be possible.
  8. Scarlett's smirk became devilish. "I was about to offer the same deal myself," she admitted, drawing her weapon to her side. She looked him up and down, assessing his readiness for battle.

    Not ready enough, she thought. But I have no choice. She hoped that the men that would be searching the grounds soon would be in groups of two or three at the most to cover more ground faster. After all, they didn't want anybody to attempt an escape like the one she and this stranger were about to attempt.

    "Lead the way, then," she said, gesturing to the halls before them. "And please, do try to avoid bringing attention to yourself. Most of these guards don't give two shits about me, but you," she trailed off, her gaze sweeping over him once more. She didn't finish the sentence, knew she didn't need to. She assumed he more than understood what she was trying to say. He was a noble, a noble that knew far too much of what occurred in the royal palace, so therefore, the only loose end. The guards may be looking for him, may have noticed the man is not among the bodies that are currently littering the palace floors. Luckily for Scarlett, that meant that he was as desperate to get out of here as she was. However, he remained composed enough to barely let it show.

    She had yet to figure out where to go once they got out of the palace grounds, but they needed to get out first and she'd burn that bridge when they came to it.
  9. Now was, after all, not the time to drive a hard bargain. Surviving would be enough challenge.

    James nodded, satisfied with her agreement. First to escape. Second... no. One thing at a time. The corner of his mouth twitched at her admonition for subtlety. "I assure you, it is foremost in my mind."

    But then, if he was insufficiently prepared for battle, he was equally so for stealth. A prince did not sneak around the hallways of his castle - at least, not since he was a boy of ten going to the kitchen and badgering the cook into giving him pastries fresh from the oven. Years ago. At least he had the advantage of not wearing armor, though that advantage would be rather less of one should the matter come to open battle.

    "This way," he said, and started down the hallway. His hand stayed near his sword, though no longer on it. A fancy sword - either he'd stolen it from someone else, or (as seemed more likely) he was indeed some noble. The hand itself implied much the same, well-groomed and smudged faintly with ink. A clerk, perhaps? It would explain why the invaders would care about him, if state secrets resided in his head.

    There were two ways into the crypts from here. The first was through the chapel, but James doubted they could reach there unmolested. The second involved cutting through store-rooms, and that... perhaps. He turned down onto one of the back hallways, glancing back to make sure the mercenary was following.

    She seemed strong. Intelligent, too, which was promising and frightening both. If she worked - as she said - for the highest bidder... what was to say he would remain so? For the moment, 'her life' seemed likely to remain the winning proposition, but once they escaped - if they escaped - things might change. It gave a troubled frown to his face... though there was reason enough for such an expression, given their circumstances.
  10. Scarlett followed behind as silently as she could manage, but in haste. The faster they were out of this place, the better. I guess I'm not getting paid, she thought with a sigh. Her sword remained in her hands, ready for battle in case someone popped out of the corner and caught them by surprise.

    As they walked, she studied the stranger. He had revealed very little of himself, with good reason, but that also made her wary. She had assumed off the bat that he was some noble trying to escape the fighting because of the clothes, but many different kinds of people came through the palace doors, and for all she knew, the servants may have been given fancier garments to wear for the festivities. Or perhaps he was a stable boy or some worker of equal importance to the crown.

    She had no idea, but her gaze kept moving to the hands that hovered near his sword. The sword was elegantly carved, quite the piece of work, though she questioned its practicality in battle. Somehow, though, she had the feeling this may have been one of the only weapons available at the time of chaos, and she could tell by his hands that he wasn't a practiced swordsmen so a simple guardsmen was out. They showed no signs of the ruggedness and callouses that came with wielding a sword as a job. Luckily, the man wasn't as incapable as she had first pegged and was proving to be useful. Or at least, he seemed to know where he was going. If it turned out he was leading them blindly, then she would have to take care of him herself. But he seemed trustworthy. For now.

    She wanted to know who this person was, whether he was trustworthy, but too many questions would only make him suspicious and wary of her. Still, she started with one that was harmless enough. "Say, what's your name, stranger?" she asked
  11. It was a reasonable question, and yet the prince could not entirely hide the flicker of surprise that widened his eyes. So she really didn't... She really wasn't involved with these royal politics.

    Which meant she hadn't been sent to kill him. Reassuring, since he was leading her into quiet corners suitable for a quick spot of regicide.

    But... she was a mercenary. Her loyalty was to cold hard cash; she'd said so herself. James hesitated, making a show of checking down another corridor as they passed it.

    He certainly wasn't going to introduce himself as James the Almost-Second.

    "Alaric." It wasn't that common a name, but... it was common enough, and it had the further advantage that he would still answer to it - even if it had been years since that name overfilled the mouth of an angry nurse. He still heard it from his herald and saw it on official documents. With luck, this mercenary would be an unconversant with the names of royalty as with their faces. "What's yours?"

    He turned a corner, shortly after asking that question... and stopped. Here was the entrance he'd expected, but the arched door hung open, revealing the dim corridor and the stairs down to the wine cellar.

    The open door wasn't why James stopped, or why his hand curled around the hilt of his sword. There were various people who had keys, and with the feasting, it was often enough in use. That's why there was a guard here. That same guard that now lay slumped beside the door, his sword fallen from his hand and his filmed eyes staring blindly across the hall. He might have been in a drunken stupor, save for the blood staining his tunic and his deathly stillness.
  12. "Alaric," Scarlett repeated, testing the name on her tongue, before her nose scrunched up. "Bit of a strange name, if y'ask me," she commented but left the subject at that. It was unusual, for sure, and definitely not a name she commonly heard shouted in the town squares. But who was she to judge these types of people? She was sure the rest of the palace staff and nobles had just as ridiculous names, if not more.

    She glanced at him, as he asked her name. "The name's Scarlett," she said. She went by many names - Red among fellow mercenaries at the guild and Scar by those that knew her a little more personally. She rarely associated herself with her last name though, it had no ties to the life she currently lived and the name "Brennan" made her feel like a whore's bastard child. Nevermind the fact that she technically was a whore's bastard child. Still.. Scarlett was the only name that this man, Alaric, would need, so it didn't matter either way.

    She was silent as they turned the corner. It was relatively quiet, and the silence put her on edge. Then, her grip tightened on her greatsword as she saw Alaric's hand reach towards the hilt of his own sword. When the figure came into view, she understood why. A guard lay slumped against the wall, dead. Someone has been there before them.

    She understood, however, that this was the way out, and they would have no choice. Glancing at Alaric, Scarlett leaned towards him in a whisper. "I'm gonna head on first, you follow behind and correct me if I start heading in the wrong direction. If a fight breaks out, hang back, got it?" she ordered, before she went on ahead past the guard and into the dark wine cellar.

    The wine cellar was much cooler than the floor above, and much darker as well. Scarlett gave her eyes a second to adjust until she could see the silhouettes of the various objects that were around the cellar. Silently, with her sword at ready and nerves on edge, she crept her way through the cellar, trying to stay as quiet as possible and keeping her ears alert for any sudden noise.
  13. A strange name? Alaric's smile was nothing more nor less than relief. If she thought it strange, that meant she didn't recognize it. If she didn't recognize it, he was safe.

    Well. Safe from her, anyhow. There were plenty of dangers yet.

    "Scarlett, then." Likely from peasant stock, they had a fondness for the descriptive names. He didn't see it, to be honest. Neither her hair nor her attire fit... but, well, he supposed her mother might simply have liked the sound of it. Not like peasants needed to check the register before titling their spawn, or necessarily understood what they were saying. He didn't question the lack of a last name, though. After all, he hadn't given one himself. This little get-to-know you session had its limits.

    One of those limits took the form of the dead guard. Alaric's grip on his sword did not tremble - he took some pride in that - but his face was, nevertheless, pale. He'd trained with the sword. He'd hunted. He'd seen dead bodies, but... not like this. Bodies dead in bed or arranged for funeral were nothing like this.

    He glanced to Scarlett as she whispered to him, and then his gaze darted to the doorway. That's right. There might be others. There probably would be. He swallowed, nervous, then nodded as he drew himself up straight. James Alaric Christophos was a prince of the blood. He would not be afraid.

    Or so he told himself. He delayed for a moment, crossing to the guard and crouching to draw his eyelids closed. There. That looked... better.

    Now he had no excuse, so he entered the doorway and made for the shadows within, following the mercenary.

    He had the advantage of familiarity with these surroundings, but Scarlett had the advantage of skill and practice at stealth. The tall racks of bottles stood around them, organized according to a complex scheme involving date, location, and style. Alaric had tasted many of them at some point.

    At first, the cellar was quiet, but then there was a crash. A glass bottle, shattering against the floor - and after it, shouting. Two- three voices. They were some distance away yet, their ruddy faces illuminated by the light of a flickering lantern as they argued over the wine-bottle whose purple contents had splashed over the floor.
  14. Scarlett saw more than heard the shattering of a wine bottle and turned to the faint lantern light. She slunk against the walls, trying to cling to the shadows in hope that the light from the lamp didn't reflect off of her armor and give her away. She sent a warning glare and raised her hand to Alaric to warn him to not make a move, although she doubted he could see it.

    The men were bickering between them, but their armor showed that they were clearly not part of the royal guard. It was easy to figure that these must have been the men to kill the guard at the door and were probably sent down to patrol and decided they should have a taste of the royal family's wine. Scarlett didn't know nor did she care what had them bickering, but she knew an opportunity when she saw one.

    Thinking on her feet, Scarlett reached for a wine bottle that was probably worth more than what she made in five years and hurled it at the oil lamp the one man carried with him. The glass of the bottle and lamp shattered, plunging the room in darkness. The men panicked and she used that as a means to sneak up on them and drove the pommel of her greatsword onto the temple of the first then the second man's head. The third man charged blindly at her front and she let him drive her back into a wall of wine bottles where she managed to grab another bottle and smash it onto his head, knocking him out.

    She was originally going to kill all three of them, but it was easier to simply knock them unconscious. Killing them would be a clear indication that someone had been there, and would have, quite literally, made a blood trail leading to them. As it was now, however, it simply seemed as if some incompetent soldiers simply got drunk during a coup and brawled until they got knocked unconscious. Nothing suspicious about that.

    Scarlett rubbed at the back of her neck that momentarily stung from the force of being knocked into the wall, but otherwise ignored it. She bent over the first man and reached under his armor to until she let out an "Aah!" at finding what she had been looking for. She pulled out a small satchel filled with money, bread, and a few herbs. Scarlett wasn't sure if this coup remained at the castle, especially since members of the royal guard also operated from within the town. If that was the case, then she couldn't stay in town for long and any amount of coin would make leaving much easier. For that reason, she did the same thing to the other two guards until she found coin purses and satchels she would be able to use. She wasn't normally one to loot corpses, but they have forced her hand and this coin was of far more use to the living than it was to the dead.

    "Lead the way, Alaric," Scarlett said, gesturing around them as she stood up straight again. She didn't relax one bit, not yet trusting that the coast was clear.
  15. Alaric did not see the gesture from Scarlett warning him to silence, but he heard the crash and was not a complete fool. Stay back, she'd said. He could do that. Better yet - and a thing not every man was capable of - he did that. His hand rested on the hilt of his sword, but other than that, he tried not to move.

    His brows arched to her in the darkness, a message equally likely missed. Well? What now?

    The Manche. A good vineyard, often praised for the complexity of its palate and the smoothness of the finish. That particular year was not one of the more notable pressings, but -

    Oh. Alaric's mouth opened on that silent syllable as the mercenary flung the wine-bottle. Apparently an appreciation of the vintage was not part of her plan for today.

    He did his best to follow the ensuing scuffle, but the darkness and the quickness of the motions made it difficult. That certainly wasn't any of the forms of the sword he knew.

    As Scarlett was flung back against the wine-rack, Alaric started forward, but he barely got halfway there - and his sword, barely an inch from the scabbard - before she'd taken care of the problem herself. He watched the last opponent crumple, and slid his sword back down into its sheath with a small but audible sound, and continued the rest of the way, broken glass crunching under his boots as he stepped onto the part of the floor slick with wine and oil.

    Scarlett's looting of the invaders brought a small frown to his face - hardly chivalrous - but he didn't object. After all, these ruffians were hardly chivalrous either.

    He did his best to chase the frown away as she spoke to him, his face becoming impassive as he nodded. "This way."

    Back through the racks he went, counting them silently as he passed, and then he turned and led the way toward what seemed to be just a piece of wall between two racks, about two shoulder-widths of blank stone.
  16. As they walked, Scarlett swiped a few bottles from the wine rack and stored them into the men's satchel's she looted. They seemed to be valuable if they needed to leave town and if they made it out here alive, that would be cause to celebrate. In other words, get wasted on stolen wine.

    Other than that, she didn't make a sound as she followed behind Alaric, until he stopped between two slabs of stone with nothing on them. At first, Scarlett stared at them confusedly, unsure what to make of it. Was Alaric going to turn and betray her? Was this a trap to tie up loose ends?

    The thoughts made Scarlett tense and her grip on her greatsword tightened, its weight feeling heavy in her hands. But as the man made no move to attack, she slowly, but only slightly relaxed.

    Then what were they standing her for? Had he gotten lost? But then, it dawned on Scarlett that this was the passage they were trying to reach. "Ah, this must be it then," she murmured quietly.

    Scarlett reached into the satchel and rummaged through it until she found what she was looking for. She knew all soldiers carried some on them for when they camped, she had done so and knew these men would be no different. She pulled out some flint stone and a small knife she kept on her own person. With expert hands, she swiped the knife across it and held it up to a wall sconce where an unlit torch sat.

    The flint sparked under the knife and the flames lit the torch. She put the sword onto her back before grabbing the lit torch and illuminating the blank stone. "Lead the way, then," she repeated. "Hopefully this little adventure is almost over and we can put this whole thing behind us soon," she said.
  17. Petty theft from his wine cellars was the least of Alaric's problems today. A rather larger one was the question of whose wine cellars they even were. They were rightfully his, of course, but... well. Should didn't mean was, and he did seem to be fleeing for his life instead of being crowned.

    Such thoughts brought a frown to his face, but he kept his attention on what he was doing. Scarlett's words brought a faint nod as Alaric traced his fingers along the stones. The light of the torch made him blink in surprise. "...thank you," he said, though he didn't look away. That made it easier.

    Here, and... here. Two points, and there was a soft click before the wall swung back, revealing a narrow corridor with rough-finished walls and a heavy layer of dust.

    A smile touched Alaric's lips for the success, and then he glanced up to Scarlett. "We're nearly out." Of the palace, that was. There were, however... a number of concerns that Alaric did not find himself entirely willing to dismiss. The brief smile passed away into a frown, and he turned from Scarlett. "Just push it shut behind you," he said as he started down the passage.

    The air in the tunnel was still and heavy with the scent of dust and mold. It did not see much use; after all, the more people knew of it, the less suited it became for this purpose. Alaric didn't know the last time it had been used... when his father had showed him the way, perhaps. Down the corridor to where it met with the passage from the crypts where his father now lay, and take the right-hand turn out beyond the walls to safety. It was some distance. Plenty of time to think, even if his thoughts all seemed to be unpleasant ones.
  18. The dank and oppressive smell of the corridor made Scarlett want to gag as she pushed the stone door shut. It felt as if the walls were closing in on her and reminded her of the various jobs she's had in the past that required going through caves and other such areas and perhaps she was just a wee bit claustrophobic. Just a bit.

    Scarlett pushed the nagging feeling to high-tail it out of the corridor and focused on more pressing matters. She was always very efficient when it came to pushing aside her emotions in order to do what needs to be done. She held the torch high and filled the dusty corridors with light as she followed behind Alaric. As they wandered, Scarlett began to plan out what she would do from there. Not that she could really come to a decision on anything just yet.

    Her mind was creating various scenarios on what she could encounter, but they were all useless since she wasn't aware of what was going on outside of the castle grounds. Yet before she knew it, they reached another stone wall, similar to the one they had used to enter. It was opened in less than a second and moonlight flooded the corridor.

    It was silent as Scarlett walked out. The torch she held out in her hands was snubbed out and she threw it back into the crypt from which it came. The moonlight would provide enough light for them to find their way. If the silence was anything to go by, Scarlett guessed that the fight hadn't yet left the castle grounds. After all, it has only been a few hours at most since the coup. Yet that wasn't meant to last.

    Luckily, Scarlett was a simple mercenary so no one would be looking for her. However, someone might recognize her as being a guard at the coronation celebration, in which case, she would find herself with other people after her for simply being a witness. After all, most of the witnesses to the coup were killed in that very hall tonight. But right now, right now was the perfect opportunity to leave and lie low until things cool down. She had contacts in other towns and cities with which she'd be able to get a hold of what little she possessed, so that wasn't a problem.

    But there was still one problem, she thought as she looked to Alaric. What was she going to do with him? The man was not only a witness like herself, but must also be distinguished somewhat if he knew his way around the palace so well. Scarlett wasn't sure if they were to go their separate ways, but if they did, she highly doubted that he'd be able to last more than a second away from the sheltered life that came along with working in or serving the palace. "So what now?" Scarlett asked, perhaps a bit more blunt about it than she had planned.
  19. What now, indeed. It was the question on Alaric's mind as well.

    On the one hand, it wasn't like he could trust this mercenary. On the other, she hadn't stabbed him in the back yet, and that made her better qualified than many.

    Like whatever smug bastard was in his palace now. Alaric would wring his neck, just see if he didn't - but he could hardly do it alone. He stared back in the direction of the castle for a moment. He needed information. He needed an army. He needed... allies.

    He turned back to Scarlett. "I'm going to Hallendar." A neighboring kingdom, one with which he'd always had good relations. Alaric was confident he could gain shelter there, perhaps even more - unless, of course, the coup had come with... no. No use worring over that yet. First things first, to get to Hallendar.

    Alive, preferably.

    "I could use a bodyguard." Understatement, that. Even his solitudes usually had at least two guards, being the prince and all, but... well. He had to work with what he had, here. A single mercenary who'd value his life for as long as she didn't realize she could get more for his head on a platter.

    But what choice did he have? He could hardly even go into a town, not when the usurper would likely be sending out soldiers with wanted posters as soon as the purge inside the castle finished and they discovered the crown prince's body missing from among the dead. He had to trust someone... even just a mercenary.

    "I can arrange payment there." Somehow, he was sure. There were favors to be called in, and in the amount of funds he'd need to reclaim his kingdom, a mercenary's fee would be a mere trickle. He might hire entire legions of mercenaries, before he was through.
  20. Scarlett raised her brow at the offer, unexpected as it was. She wasn't quite sure what to make of it and became suspicious for a moment, questioning Alaric's true motives. To rely on a mercenary as a bodyguard was not something someone, especially anyone higher than middle class, would ever agree to. However, Scarlett thought begrudingly, he must be pretty desperate to leave.

    At that thought, she cast a glance back to the castle. It was silent from where they were, but Scarlett could still hear in her head the screams of many unarmed nobles and even armed guards as they were slaughtered for nothing more than a seat on a throne. The very idea sent a chill up Scarlett's spine and she could sympathize with Alaric for wanting to high-tail it out of here and into another kingdom.

    Before she knew it, Scarlett had already made her decision on whether or not to go. However, that didn't mean she didn't have concerns of her own.

    "Hallendar is quite the journey," Scarlett said. "I've only journeyed beyond these lands once and that was by sea. Hallendar is over the mountain pass and is much more difficult. There are bandits, highwaymen, and quite possibly much worse. We will need supplies and coin, and perhaps horses if we can afford it," she began thinking aloud.

    "I can obtain some of that from contacts of mine in the merc's guild in the town nearby, that's not a problem for me." She paused as she gave Alaric a moment to think about what she had to offer him. "However, how do I know that you're going to pay me what I deserve once we reach Hallendar?" she asked. "I'll not needlessly put my own skin at risk."

    ((sorry for disappearing, I just took finals!))
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