MAIN STORY The Cult of Thieves

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Smut. Romance as a main plot. Horror. Grimdark.

  [bimg=fleft | 300 | no-lightbox]http://i.imgur.com/4iIMAIc.jpg[/bimg]
Entering the room, Cordelia's eyes found Sothal, and in them there was a spark of relief. The evening prior had not gone exactly as planned and their parting, along with the unusual encounter with the Cabal raven, had left her feeling uneasy.

Jerian, thankfully, had not returned and she was only too happy to be offered a guest room, where she'd managed to sleep off the remainder of the discomfort Destin's concoction hadn't alleviated. It was always a bit of a trap, when she began to feel better. Because in the end she knew she'd need to use again... And it was getting worse every time.

But for now, she was safe. Sothal was safe. And things, it seemed, were about to get interesting.

Her vibrant eyes flickered to the other figure at the table and she smirked. Maldviri were, to her understanding, not the sort of people one generally saw in places like Faledrin... And certainly not the ilk generally associated with the Cult of Thieves. Deeply rooted in morality, they held a compass for decent behavior that rarely staggered beyond due north. What he could have to do with them, Cordelia couldn't guess.

Sinking into a seat, she reached for a grape and popped it into her mouth, swallowing, before she nodded, "Morning Emrys. Pleasure, Ilias... Welcome to Faledrin."

  
 

Red Thunder

A Warrior in a Garden
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Quinn Travers
the Laughing Eel

He still smelled of smoke. A full day and a long and miserable bath later, and he still smelled of smoke.

And of lard, he thought ruefully at the memory of the soapy cleaning.

The Laughing Eel, always a place of reasonable popularity and gossip among the lower echelons of Windfeld, was positively buzzing with various and wildly speculative rumors. It’s started, went the talk. Someone finally stood up to them.

Somebody is making them pay.


Still sore from the exertions of the night before, Quinn sat in a worn chair behind the bar, giving little heed to his patrons and new customers. The busboy Jay, impressively, had taken up some of his employer’s slack and was currently filling a mug with bone white beer for Wist Reger, the Eel’s supply runner. Reger, still sharp eyed despite many hard years under the beating sun, had cast more than one sidelong glance in Quinn’s direction. The returning stubble was nothing even approaching the former glory of his mustache, and the old sailor hadn’t missed a trick. His mouth was moving, and Jay shrugged, giving some vague response in the same lowered tone. Quinn, reasonably certain as to what Reger was asking, stood with a grunt and approached.

“Listen, Wist,” he said somberly. “If you’ve a question, I mustache that you direct to me.”

Reger, having stiffened, relaxed visibly in recognition of his business partner’s voice.

“Hah! Nar,” he laughed, slamming his fist onto the wooden top. “But yeh don’ look the same, yeah? That lip blanket is as iconic to yeh as yer stormed tavern! The talk was yeh’d sold it behind alls our backs.”

That elicited a smile from Quinn in return. Jay, apparently relieved that his boss had returned to some semblance of work, retreated from the bar in a hurry to hide in the kitchen.

“Never,” Quinn returned, scratching at his nearly hairless face. “The day I sell this place is the day I’ve lost my wits.”

“S’good. Think yer guh need ‘em.” Reger’s voice dropped, despite the cacophony that filled the place, as if he thought this next statement was terribly secretive. “S’mthin’s movin’, Quinn. People ain’t happy ‘n’ways, and that fire ‘smakin’ ‘em move more.”

He shook his head. Things may not always be great under the nobility, but it was predictable. Reger hated unpredictability, mistrusting those that generated and encouraged it. And this was no different.

“Woman in the Barrows. Passed her on m’way here. Stirrin’ ‘em up. Planning a meeting. At the Sevens and Sixes, tonight.”

The Baladuri shook his head.

“There’s always someone making noise, Wist; you know that better than I. Hell, I bet you’ve seen more than a few dozen so called uprisings sputter out before they gained any traction. No, people like the status quo. It makes them feel comfortable.”

But Quinn knew better. There had been fires in noble’s houses before, with nary so much as a whisper of rebuttal about it from the masses. This, however, this was the North Estate, the upper crust of the upper crust and above reproach. For it therefore to suffer the loss of its house …

Reger, apparently if uneasily satisfied, nodded. Saluting with a raised mug, he shuffled off to join in the gossip on the floor, leaving Quinn to his worries.

He had plenty to worry about. Saleith North, a promising connection to the nobility at large, had been almost certainly distanced thanks to an ill considered passionate outburst; ‘Serbin Vumahl’ would be taking an extensive vacation back to his estate to give his reputation time to be repaired. Quinn felt like he needed a vacation himself, if he were honest; that ridiculous maneuver down the tapestry had left him feeling stiff and not a bit sore. Married with the near death experience with not one but two different Tainted, it was a sobering reminder that he desperately needed to be in better fighting shape.

And somewhere in the back of his mind, Quinn couldn’t stop worrying about his friends. Jay, with a beleaguered sigh, had once again manned the bar, his boss having fallen back into his chair. Cordelia and Sothal were dying, and the faint hope for them lay in that damned tome. The hazelnut still waited to be used, secured within the innkeeper’s room; the masque had diverted his attention from the matter, and Vilora, resourceful as she might otherwise be, didn’t know what steps to take next, let alone what their main goal was. And, too, Quinn still awaited word on the warded armor and drackenberries that had been on the list.

The list. Leaving the main room in Jay’s unwilling care, Quinn moved through the kitchen deftly toward his quarters in the back, passing his cook without acknowledgement. Pulling the key from around his neck, he unlocked his door and pushed inside, securing it after him. Moving aside a particular plank in the floor, he lifted Sothal’s list to scan it once again. Some of the items had been sent for, he considered absently as he sat on his bed, and the hazelnut had even been secured. But two remained as yet unsought: moondust and a glowing runic pendant on a necklace.

Time to send Vilora back to Muller. No, not Muller; spread out your suppliers. Another veteran, then. Or maybe-

He frowned, the list falling to his lap in frustration as he considered going outside the Cult. That meant Malcolm Wells, a man as slippery and slimy and conniving as they came. That, or Captain Caliviser the whaler. Either way, he didn’t like it. Either way, he didn’t think he had much choice else. Grumbling to himself, he shoved the list back into its hiding place, resecured the plank, and headed back into the common room.
 

Starlighter

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Ilias Aranthon
Ilias couldn’t shake an uncomfortable sensation settling deep in his gut with the woman’s distinctly bright eyes focused on him. Moving with the stiff reservation of practiced formality, he bowed towards her slightly before assuming the offered place at the table. “The pleasure is all mine, Lady Gema; thank you for your kind welcome.” Despite the warmth of his voice, the greeting felt hollow. Lines of weariness were etched clearly into the corners of his eyes, and only by sheer force of will did he remain ramrod straight against the fatigue tugging at him.

Hesitantly, he glanced to Emrys, allowing a beat of silence to pass in order to see if he would further elaborate on introductions. When no immediate explanation appeared evident, he lapsed into silence. The thought of making an attempt at casual conversation briefly occurred to him, but he remained quiet. Even at the best of times small talk was not a social tool he was particularly adept at using. Better to stay focused on whatever business the prince intended to address.

While his outward demeanour remained nearly impassive, the slightest indication of a frown began to form, and he peered just a little closer at Gema’s face than may have been in good taste. He could feel the Shadow in her the same as Emrys, dark and powerful. A force of evil. Any appetite he might have had fled as his mind wandered to considerations of the current situation - dining pleasantly with a pair of Shadow Casters.

In the interest of a higher purpose he reminded himself. And yet, he could only pray that there would be no judgement for whatever compromise he may soon be forced to face.


Effervescent Effervescent Elle Joyner Elle Joyner
 

Shizuochan

he hears his master's voice
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  Lyriana an'Benat
  
A drop of matter traversed down the man’s chin with something approaching sloth-like deliberation, chowder-chunder still permeating the scent of cooking oils reused. Ol’ Gram, a sailor of body decrepit save for a lone eye, sharp as scoundrel cunning, was paying tribute to the king of sailors at land: indulgence. His transient joys of excess swill and gruel from half-noon were given puddling form, expelled while the poor old man prostrated himself. Only he prostrated himself before no king at all, just his feeble stomach and the encroaching shadow of his unimpressed captain.

“‘Hup, left-eye, ‘hup!” Cersiana Caliviser’s foot prodded at the man’s stomach, which was pliable in its giving, and quaked fiercely; he was spewing again. “Get any on m’boot, and I’ll discard it in that rotting sanctuary between your right an’ left leg.”

Gram smeared his dirt-blackened hands against the line of vomit that had stained his whiskers; a transference of filth at best. “‘Left-Eye’, princess? It’s me right eye that’s still in the socket.”

The ‘Whaling Princess’ brought Ol’ Gram to his feet entirely upon her own strength, clasping the wraithy-man’s shoulder with a wide grin, “I prefer the leftsome gash over that beady little thing, Grammy. You’ver consider putting that thing out to help re-enact the bawdy tales of your youth? The strumpers would find you mighty gashing, I’d wager.”

Cersiana laughed where Lyriana an’Benat would sigh. There was an adage regarding those that chose to master the waters: their legs were steadier at sea than on land. The landlock gave credence to the saying. Her sailors had been on the brink of cheering when Cersiana had given them temporary leave - before the day and the night had passed them by, each one of them had died in their own special ways. Rum-slumber, gamblings, wasting away at the edge of whorehouses they still could ill-afford, each vice pursued ad infinitum until the stimuli no longer brought about sensation. Some of them would find a more able ship in the meanwhile, while others could scarcely stomach setting foot upon a new deck. A Whisper was adaptable, men less so. She pitied them, and felt guilt for condemning them to the haze for House Kalset’s masquerade.

“Off home with you now, Grams.” Cersiana continued, not remembering whatever drunken nonsense Gram had hoisted at her quip, “Find a bed to croak in, or you’re like to die ugly-drunk, and only one of them by your choosin’. Off now, with your captain’s love.”

Grams skipped away, renewed by laughter, and Cersiana turned away, eyes betraying a momentary steel that was all Edrosi, of purpose in movement. Someone had sung a lovely sonnet about the Sevens and Sixes, and vague platitudes of revolution. The Whisper's intent was to mingle, lost within inflammatory shouts that were likelier to be more inciting than insightful. Where there was talk of revolution, assassins and thieves were never far away, and certainly not a ‘Cult’ of the latter. She would attend as the Whaling Princess, where her repute as a fair captain and sailor’s favorite would hopefully grant her fortune - and avoid painting a target on the sailor's upstanding self. There wasn’t the time to fashion a new ‘self’ in the coming hours, and the landlock had left her unable to procure the strands of alga requisite to her craft. Her true face, as tenuous as the descriptor may have been, was simply not an option.

The guise of Captain Cersiana would simply have to do. If she were lucky, she might have even been able to pull any of her own drunken sailors that had heard the revolution-call out of something stupid.
 
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Doctor Jax

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Ardlith


"Bollocks!"

Ardlith stared at the map she'd been hastily drawn, eyes scanning the lines and the text. She rearranged her bag with an annoyed huff and growl, roughly tossing it to hang from her back and out of the way, as she took up the map again and stared at it. Ulanyael had insisted that this was as accurate as he could get, and she was starting to doubt that. Not to mention, with the weight of the bag she was carrying, if he was wrong, she'd end up even more uncomfortable than just being 'lost.'

She looked up and around at the woods that surrounded her. It was a quiet day, fairly overcast, not altogether unpleasant, but not quite friendly weather either. While most might find the need to contemplate in such climes, Ardlith was purely goal-oriented sort of half-elf, which is nice way to say she has a one-track mind. The fiery antiquitor squinted again at the map, then the compass she held between thumb and forefinger, then back to the map before deciding it was a useless venture.

She'd have to use her wits. Not that wits weren't necessary to use a map, but apparently those were the kinds of wits that were on her today. After putting the map away and scrambling up a tree and scaring off a nest of squirrels, she managed to get a heading, and with all the grace of a three-legged oliphont, she set off towards the beach where the ferry was to stop. She knew that there were others on the trail - who wouldn't be? It was quite the scandalous piece of literature, if the rumors were true. A tome of great and ill portents, speaking of Shadow Magic and its bleak fortunes, of forbidden rites and harrowing, unnatural knowledge enough to turn a man mad lest he not have the fortitude of mind to resist its temptations.

Of course that was likely all hogwash, but people wanted the thing! And if somebody else wanted it, so did Ardlith.

Now, the girl was well-prepared, nevertheless. She'd even had her Vuaturi traveling companion build her a contraption that would theoretically - and he did stress, theoretically - restrain the book should it contain any kind of magic that would seek to harm the book's owner. Ardlith didn't much care so much about that. No, she cared that it also had a lock and key, and was therefore a magnificently portable lockbox, even if the thing was heavier than it had any right to be. She shifted the bag on her shoulder, the aforementioned box digging into her back.

She made her way onto the beach, and she huffed as she slugged the bag to the ground, hands on her hips as she stared at it with disgruntled ire. Looking up, she saw another person on the beach as well, and she called out crassly, "You waitin' on the ferry, too? Where in the blue blazes is it? Am I in the right place?"

Effervescent Effervescent
 
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RiddL

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DURING THE PARTY

Kylar ran towards where the inferno had broken out, hand held out before him as he caught the glimpse of one unmistakable Baladuri, the man running like a child that knows he's in trouble. making sure that his mask was tight against his face, he ran into the burning building, blade at the ready in case there was a very unhappy reason his comrade was hightailing it in the other direction.

Sweat glistened on Kylar' neck, the droplets slowly cascading down his skin and absorbed by the fabric of his clothes. With quick steps and a bare blade, he walked into the room, noticing that there were two things. the first was that the fire was probably the best thing to happen to this room in a long time, given that what was left of the room was uglier than Sothal after an afternoon of drinking. The second thing that he noticed was an unconscious man on the floor and judging by the lack of clothing, he suspected that the man was, until recently, one of the tainted responsible for killing dozens of people.

The hand gripping the blade tightened slightly, the muscles in his hand stinging before he relaxed his grip again. He turned the man onto his stomach and, without any hesitation, thrusted the the blade between the 5th and 6th rib, piercing the mans heart and making him release his finally breath of air. Kylar stood up, looking at the corpse dispassionately as wiped the blade clean on one of the scraps of cloth that hadn't been touched by the fire yet. Turning his back to the lump of meat and bones on the floor, he hastily left the room and followed the path of Quinn, hoping to get out before someone came to put out the flames.

AFTER.

It was now the day after the exhilarating night at the North Masquerade, and after stripping his hair of the redness that was one of the most defining marks of him during the night, changing the colour of his eyes back and resting, he felt ready to rejoin the world and get back to the job at hand, immediately making his main objective getting to the monastery, after all, what better place to get names of some of those involved and some of the other places that they may have been held at some point. He also had an ulterior motive for going to those that they had liberated from the cages, namely being their blood. If he could find a way to synthesis a way to suppress their transformations then that would make everything much better for all parties involved.

He slowly made his way down to the docks, stopping twice, once to make plans with local sell swords for the pursuers that would indefinitely be coming after them, to pay off one of the more agreeable guards to spread the word that a large group of people had been seen heading to one of the smugglers dens a little further into the city during the dead of night, with the bait set and the surprise waiting for whoever was going to come after them, Kylar set off on a boat with a friend and old cult member to the monastery, water spraying lightly against him as the relaxing trip ended with him on the shore and making his way steadily to the large building before him.

With luck, the wheels that he had put in motion would bear fruit before the week was out.
 

Doctor Jax

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Tamerlin​

The diminutive man hardly stood out as he fell into the streams of sailors, commonfolk, and other unsavory sorts convening in and around the Seven and Sixes. The location was a dramatically forlorn sort, an amalgam of dead fishing boats put together into a ramshackle tavern, as if some brutal magic had raised the corpses of these vessels together to perform some nefarious work. Inside, there shone soft, warm light from lantern and hearth, an attractive reprieve from the chill wind that sought to nibble the skin and worm between Tam's coat, shirt, and skin.

Tonight, he'd come as an anonymous sailor. He'd been tempted to shave his beard, lest someone who had been at the North Estate during its fall recognize him as a previous 'servant', but he decided against it - partly due to vanity. Besides that, he had a feeling that other Cult members would also attend. This was too volatile a meeting to miss, and from the atmosphere just outside the tavern, he realized he'd been right to show. Another Thief may well be in the crowd inside.

For now, though, Tam figured it best to remain outside, under the pretense of puffing a pipe. The tobacco was acrid as he blew it out into the cold of night, creating a cloud that lightly obscured his face. So close to the sea, even at the height of summer it was a bit nippy here, and for Tam, he froze regardless the weather. He huddled in his coat, collar upturned, as he stood by the door.

Red Thunder Red Thunder Shizuochan Shizuochan