The Pickpocket and the Cursed One

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FaithLeafCat

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#1
Salem skids down an orange shingled roof, stone pieces flying off as his tattered shoes pry them from the surface. His pale arms flail wildly as he struggles to catch his balance. He yelps and tumbles over the edge of the roof - only to catch himself with one hand. He pulls in a sharp breath and shakily crawls back onto his perch.

He'll have to be more careful if he's going to use the city roofs as lookout posts. He flops down on the tile edge to catch his breath and look around. The young man lives in the city of Shywood, which is built almost entirely from the giant trees surrounding it and usually hidden in the shadow of a myriad of leaves.

Salem himself is quite pale from only going outside at night. His curly black hair flops over his dark eyes, and he adjusts his tattered tunic as he scans the few people still milling about below. He winces as his stomach growls. There's got to be someone he can try to pickpocket to grab a few coins. It's been two days since he's eaten.
 

Peregrine

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Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
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Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#2
Cipher found himself in the city of Shywood entirely by accident.

His original goal, as of only four days ago, had been to find himself a secluded place. Somewhere far away from civilization, where he wouldn't constantly find himself confronted by the trials of humanity. However, fate had other plans. He'd barely made it into the outskirts of the forest before he'd found himself nose to arrow with a hunter, the man irate since Cipher had spooked his deer.

And, just like that, Cipher was under obligation to help.

Once upon a time he would have laughed in the face of any fool who'd dared to point a weapon in his face. He would have taunted the hunter, dared him to shoot, and then turned him to ash if he dared rise to the provocation. But the man once known as the Zero Mage had disappeared, leaving in his place a lanky young man who was forced to offer his help to people, free only to go about his own way should they refuse his offer.

The hunter had not declined once Cipher had demonstrated his skill with a bow. At the very least, Cipher had hoped that being out in the forest with the hunter would keep him from running into anyone else, and once he helped the man get a deer, he'd be able to vanish into the forest like morning mist under the first light of day.

He should have known better.

All of the hunter's initial rage at the red-haired young man named "Ashur" who had spooked his deer was gone, and the man cheerfully invited Cipher to his home. There Cipher met the hunter's wife and young son, who were more than happy to bring the stranger into their home, offering him a warm meal and a place to sleep.

The next morning, as Cipher had tried to slip away, he'd found the wife with a large basket of vegetables strapped to her back, intending to take them into the city to sell.

He'd ended up carrying that basket to Shywood for her, and then helping her man the table all day. Only now that it was drawing close to evening, with a few coppers in his pocket for his effort, was Cipher able to get away.

The man's tawny eyes surveyed his surroundings, wondering what the chances were that he'd be able to leave the city without actually running into anyone.

Almost nonexistent, he decided a moment later.

With a sigh, Cipher bent his head, turning towards the gate with plodding steps.

This had been Cipher's life for the last two years. It was the price of his arrogance, and his pursuit of magic he should not have touched. Cipher got his dream. The magic that flowed through his veins was power that the people of this world would never dream of. But even Cipher knew that the cost of his power was too high.

Under threat of his very life, Cipher, once known as the Zero Mage, the most feared Dark Magician the world had ever seen, had to be "good". He had to offer his help to those in need, answer any honest plea for aid, and treat the innocent and good-hearted with respect and kindness. The only time he was immune from this curse was when he was already obliged to someone else.

In a city like Shywood, there was no way he was going to get away free.
 

FaithLeafCat

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#3
It's not long before the jangle of coins catches Salem's ear. He glances down to find a red headed man walking towards the gate, head bent and hands in his pockets. Salem's eyes narrow as he studies the situation further. The man seems to be alone for now. No one else is nearby. Salem smiles and swings off the tile roof, landing in a cloud of dust on the dirt road.

He couldn't ask for a better target. He slinks toward the man, crouching behind barrels and carts as he moves. Within a few moments, he's mere feet from the man's robes. His eyes glitter greedily as he stretches out a hand toward one of the pockets.

He's so intent on grabbing the coins that he doesn't see the mud puddle. His foot slips beneath him and sends him falling with a splash, mud spraying up over his already dirty face. He splutters and scrambles to his feet, wiping his eyes before chuckling nervously at the man. "Heh, sorry. Didn't see you there," he mutters, taking a step back. He waves and bolts off into a side alley to rethink his plan.

The man hasn't left the city yet. Maybe there's another way to grab some of his coins. He leans against a wall and peers around a corner, looking the stranger over. It's hard to tell for sure, but the man seems distracted, and Salem decides it's worth having another go. He pulls in a breath and wipes more mud off his shirt.

Then he bolts further up the alleyway and knocks over a pile of empty barrels. If he's lucky, the heavy wood will cause the man to trip and drop some of the coins - or he can snag a few while he's pretending to help him up. He swallows and glances around the corner to see whether his plan will work.
 

Peregrine

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Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
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Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#4
Cipher's fears, such as they were, quickly proved true. He felt the moment someone's eyes turned towards him, felt the heat off of the young man's body as he drew closer, skulking past obstacles in a desperate attempt to stay out of sight.

Well, out of sight never really worked with Cipher. He'd long since identified the kid as a thief, and for one, crazy moment, he'd dared to dream that the criminal element would somehow negate the curse, that he wouldn't have to help someone if they were doing something "bad", even if it was obviously out of desperation, not greed.

It only took a split second for Cipher to realize that wouldn't be true.

He felt it, in the middle of his chest. Some strange combination of compression and tugging, aiming right towards the shadowy young man slowly getting closer to his back. Right now, he could easily ignore it, the feeling little more than a strange, abstract discomfort near his heart. But he knew from experience that the sensation would only grow with time, until it was so crushing he could no longer breathe. It wouldn't go away until he helped this kid, or the pressure literally crushed his chest to pieces.

As the kid crept closer, Cipher closed his eyes, trying to figure out what exactly he was supposed to do to help this kid. However, as the young man got closer and Cipher felt his gaze turn from his back to his robes, all of the tension suddenly fled the mage.

The boy was a pickpocket.

Desperate for money. Since Cipher already knew he was there, and fully had the ability to stop him should he choose, to 'help' him all Cipher might have to do was simply let the kid take his money. They'd never have to exchange so much as a word, and Cipher could be on his way.

Cipher forced himself to remain calm and apparently oblivious, even as every instinct screamed out for him to turn around and catch the hand of the person who dared to reach for his belongings. Even after two years, it was hard for him to accept the changes he was forced to live daily.

There was a sudden, heavy splat from behind him, taking Cipher almost as much by surprise as the kid. He turned around, eyebrows raised, and finally got an actual look at the black-haired young man, now thoroughly covered in mud. Frozen in surprise at that entirely clumsy mistake, and wondering exactly how such a pickpocket managed to avoid capture all these years, Cipher doesn't have a chance to offer the young man a hand before he'd scampered back to his feet and bolted off into an alley.

Rolling his eyes in exasperation, Cipher turned around, resuming his walk towards the edge of the city, but slowing his pace enough to make sure the boy wouldn't lose sight of him. The last thing he wanted was for the boy to lose track of him, leaving Cipher to have to go track him down later.

That particular fear quickly proved groundless, as the boy circled ahead of Cipher only a few blocks later, tipping over a bunch of wooden barrels, which begin to roll down the street.

Sighing in exasperation, Cipher casually side-stepped the wooden "trap".

"Not everyone's as clumsy as you," he scolded in the boy's general direction. However, a moment later, his hand dug into his pockets, pulling out the small pouch of coins the hunter's wife had given him earlier that day. "Honestly, if you need the coins that bad, you can have them."
 

FaithLeafCat

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#5
Salem shrinks back in shock when the man seems to be able to pinpoint exactly where he is. Despite throwing the barrels, he thought he'd hidden himself pretty well. He scoffs and narrows his eyes at the man's offer of the coins. His cover's been blown. "I'm not that stupid," he snaps down the alleyway. "Clumsy, maybe. But don't think for one minute that I'm going to walk over there so you can turn me in!"

He shudders and takes a few more steps backward into the alleyway. He's had more close calls than he's cared to admit. For the most part, he's been living off scraps and the occasional handout, but the two times he'd tried to pickpocket someone had ended poorly. He'd heard stories from the guard about other thieves who weren't let off with just a warning - they were thrown into what were commonly known as the monster pits, along with other criminals.

Still, the man Salem's talking to now is still alone, and strangely enough, he doesn't seem poised to run or attack. Salem slowly re-emerges from behind the alley corner. ". . . Unless you were serious? I - I'm sorry for trying to steal from you. I just - " He bites his lip and huffs. "I'm sorry."

He wanders out into the open, still glancing from side to side as though he expects a guard to pounce on him at any moment. He blinks in surprise when he finds he's actually made it to the stranger's side in one piece. He rubs the back of his neck and clicks his tongue. "Listen, maybe I could make it up to you. I know this city and the woods outside like the back of my hand. If you want, I could guide you to a place to stay. Maybe somewhere with less people?" he adds, keeping in mind this man was traveling alone.
 

Peregrine

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Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
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Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
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Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#6
Cipher rolled his eyes to himself at the kid's accusation. He supposed it was perfectly reasonable for the kid to think this was a trap, and the mage would be more than happy for the kid to refuse his intentions and run away. That would put an end to this matter, setting Cipher free to go on his way again. "If you don't want it," he said, still staring in the kid's general direction. "Just say so and I'll be on my way."

Unfortunately, the young man seemed disinterested in that particular option, and gradually began to move closer. Frankly, Cipher couldn't blame him. Who wouldn't be interested in an offer of free money, with no strings attached?

The far better question was what kind of fool would give such an offer.

As the young pickpocket moved closer, Cipher extended his hand with the pouch again, waiting almost impatiently for the kid to grab the pouch from him so that Cipher could turn around and be on his way. He watched the young man edge his way closer with a raised brow, silently scolding him for his timidness.

Just take the bag, Cipher intoned to himself. Take it, take it, take it.

But when had anything in the last two years actually gone as Cipher wanted?

Instead of grabbing the bag and running off on his own like most pickpockets would do in a similar situation, the kid suddenly offers himself up as a guide. Cipher breathed in abruptly, sharp words of rejection perched on the tip of his tongue. However, before before he can tell the kid to shut up, take the bag, and fuck off, the pressure in his chest suddenly squeezed harshly, nearly causing Cipher to bite his own lip.

For half a second Cipher felt like swearing. Honest intentions. It was always the thing that screwed him in the end. People always wanted to repay those who helped them, and Cipher couldn't refuse. How many of these back-to-back traps would he have been able to get out of if he could just say "no", to an old man's invitation for a meal, to a young woman's offer to accompany him to his destination? There was no telling.

But dreaming of what wasn't to be wouldn't get him anywhere. Especially when he couldn't refuse.

"Yeah, sure kid. If you're that eager to help, help me find somewhere to stay outside the city."
 

FaithLeafCat

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#7
At that, Salem smiles broadly and nods. "Right this way." If the man is that fast to accept his offer as a guide, maybe he's really been looking for someone to travel with all along. Maybe he's as lonely as Salem.

He waves the thought away along with the leftover mud on his face. He should consider himself lucky the man agreed to a guide instead of turning Salem in. The boy takes a deep breath and slinks out of a side exit of the city, effectively avoiding most of the few people still milling around.

His smile fades a little as he steps outside into the thick brush. It's getting closer to midnight, which means it's more likely that walking plants will be out and about. Salem pats his side to make sure his knife is still there. Then he glances up at the man and nods. "Not sure if you're familiar with the area, but it can get a little dangerous at night. I suggest you stay close." He points through the foliage at a two-story wooden building in the distance. "Over there is Barrel's End. It's a pricier tavern, kind of out of the way. Not a lot of patrons. I think you'll like it."

As the pair continues on, several bushes rustle nearby. Salem stiffens and raises his knife. "Sh," he murmurs softly. He points to a few roots curling quietly around the edge of a bush. "Walking plant. Just freeze for a second and I think it'll ignore us."
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
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Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#8
Cipher sighed slightly to himself, before falling into step behind the boy. He couldn't help but find it ironic. Here he was, wishing to not have any company, following a "guide" towards the gate he'd already been walking towards. Even worse, the kid still hadn't taken the money from him, which meant Cipher still hadn't succeeded in "helping" him. He could feel the pressure in his chest slowly building, like a pool filled by a leaky faucet, growing one drip at a time.

At least they made it to the edge of the city without any further interruption, which gave Cipher a chance to think. When they got to whatever lodge the kid was taking him to, all he had to do was offer to buy the kid a meal. That would be similar to giving the pickpocket money, and one way or another the kid would have to either accept the offer or decline his suggestion. That would free Cipher from his obligation to the kid, and it would take several hours before he would be at risk of being bound to the kid again.

Distracted by his plots, Cipher almost missed the kid's words, but caught his gesture. Cipher cast his attention towards the building, quickly scanning it. The place was mostly empty, which suited Cipher just fine. Truthfully, he would have preferred to not even head into the inn at all, since it wasn't completely empty, but if the kid agreed to his dinner invitation, Cipher wasn't going to have much say in the matter.

Speaking of...

"You know, you never actually took the money I offered you," Cipher began. "Can I..."

However, before he could get the question out properly, the kid suddenly hushed him, gesturing with his dagger towards a nearby bush. It took a couple of seconds to even realize what the kid was pointing to, and when he finally spotted the mass of roots Cipher almost let out a snort of ridicule. That? He was worried about that?

Even now, with the restrictions this bloody curse put on him, Cipher wouldn't have worried about running into a Vine Queen, let alone a little Walking Plant. He could turn the thing to ash before it even moved an inch, if he wanted.

But, when the kid told him to hold still, that's what Cipher did, stopping in his tracks before casting a baleful glare towards the moving plant.
 

FaithLeafCat

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#9
"Those things can snap a human's neck in seconds," Salem murmurs, eyes locked on the roots as though glancing away might trigger the plant to attack. Finally, the roots disappear back into the bushes, and Salem slowly lowers his dagger. He sheathes it and nods to Cipher. "Could've been a messy fight. Walking plants can grab more than one person at a time. I've . . . I've seen it," he adds, his voice dropping slightly.

He shakes his head and starts moving towards Barrel's End again. "Anyway, they're not usually awake during the day. You'd be safer starting your journey then until you're out of the woods. And as for the money . . . maybe you'd better keep it. Barrel's End has a high entrance fee, and you'll want all the extra spending money you can get."

A cold chill wisps through the air as the pair arrives at the inn's ornately carved wooden door. Salem rocks back on his heels and pulls in a breath, glancing up briefly at Cipher. "Well, I guess this is where we part ways," he decides at last. He extends a hand to shake and gives the man a lopsided smile. ". . . Unless you want me to accompany you through the forest? There's always the chance a walking plant might get woken up."

Truth be told, this is the longest Salem's carried on a conversation with anyone, much less a wanted one. He hadn't realized until now how much he's missed being with other people. His eyes search Cipher's cautiously, half of him hoping the man will say yes while the other half knows better.
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
SITE SUPPORT
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
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My Usual Online Time
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#10
Cipher started moving again only shortly after the walking plant disappeared, offering little more than a faint "Hmm," in response to the boy's worried and slightly sorrowful tone. As he glanced at the kid, Cipher suddenly felt the tension in his chest grow abruptly. The message was clear. He was supposed to help the kid feel better, offer some form of reassurance or comfort for whatever memory or tragedy was disturbing the boy.

Cipher remained silent instead. Even if he wanted to, people skills had never been Cipher's strong point. Anything he'd say would be far more likely to cause the boy to feel even worse than to make him feel better. He'd simply have to deal with the increased restriction of the curse. It wasn't as though he was in some long game, where he needed to buy every minute he could. Once they made it to the inn, this little game of theirs would be over one way or another.

It didn't take them much longer to reach the entrance to the Barrel's End. Cipher studied the building as they approached, his gaze critical. It didn't take him long to discover that, for all the kid's worries over money, the place could only be considered high end among commoners and poor travelers. Even rich merchants would easily be able to afford staying at a better place.

All the same, the place seemed well maintained, and a golden glow was spilling out from under the door's crack. Cipher turned to his little guide, and offered a slight smile. "If you aren't going to take the money, at least let me buy you a meal before you go." Cipher gestured towards the door with an open palm.
 

FaithLeafCat

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#11
His question goes ignored. Salem finds himself blinking in surprise, despite having realized that was the most likely outcome. Then Cipher offers to buy him a meal. Salem claps a hand over his stomach as it growls, and he chuckles awkwardly. "Normally, I wouldn't go inside Barrel's End myself, but . . . I guess if they think I'm with you it'll be okay. Thanks," he decides at last.

He takes a breath and pushes open the door. He's never stepped over the threshold before; he waits for Cipher to walk in first and follows him, shrinking back behind the man slightly. Then his eyes widen. Despite the inn being a low end establishment to Cipher, it seems a palace to Salem. Polished oak tables are spread across the wooden floor. Most of the inn's few patrons are huddled near the fire or heading upstairs to bed; it's late. The smell of roast beef wafts through the air, drawing Salem further into the room.

A tall, lanky man with a red mustache sniffs and leans over the bar at the pair. "Welcome to the Barrel's End. Can I get you two a room? . . . or did you just come in here to gawk at what a real floor looks like?" he adds with a chuckle, noticing the condition Salem's in.

Salem huffs and rubs his arm, dropping his gaze. He starts to open his mouth in retort, but he thinks better of it and takes a step back instead. "Maybe I'll just head out now," he murmurs to Cipher. "Me being here is just going to draw attention to you." He smiles limply and shrugs, starting to turn towards the door. "Thanks for the offer, though. I hope you have safe travels."
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
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Adept, Advanced, Prestige
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Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#12
Cipher pushed his way into the inn with a muffled sigh, unsurprised that the kid chose to accept his offer, but still vaguely reluctant to actually see it through. The mage had no doubt that the kid was going to chatter his way through the entire meal, if their walk to the inn had been any particular indication.

The inside of the inn was very similar to its exterior, small and neat, maybe charming by rural standards, but lacking anything that made it stand out in particular. Cipher's eyes quickly pick out a table in the corner of the room that's both unoccupied and not near any of the room's other tenants. A moment later, and his gaze turns to the red-haired innkeeper.

"One room," Cipher responded promptly, reaching into his pocket before pulling out a small collection of silver coins. It was far, far more than the hunter's wive had given him that afternoon, and if the kid had ever succeeded in getting his hand in Cipher's pocket he would have known that those coins definitely hadn't been there when they were still back in the city.

"Kid's with me, although he'll only be staying for a meal."

At the sight of the coins the innkeeper's look of ridicule vanished, replaced by calm professionalism. "Of course. It's five silvers for the night, six with dinner, breakfast, and a bath included."

Cipher nodded and handed over the coins easily. "Bring out whatever's ready for me and him," the red-haired man instructed, before turning towards the table he picked out earlier. As he was walking, his gaze turned back to the boy.

"It's not like I'm scared of people seeing me. I don't bruise under a harsh glare."
 

FaithLeafCat

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I'm fine doing both ^^
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Modern/Supernatural, Fantasy, Modern, Horror, Magical, Mystery, Action Adventure, Scifi
Genre You DON'T Like
Yaoi/Yuri (when sex-centered) Smut, Slice of Life, School/Academy
#13
"Yeah, well, harsh glares don't usually lead to fights for you, do they?" Salem mumbles. He hovers by the door a moment or two, debating whether he should stay. Then his stomach growls again. He sighs and follows after Cipher, avoiding meeting the innkeeper's eyes.

Surely he can put up with a bit more embarrassment in exchange for a free meal. He relaxes only slightly when he finds out that Cipher's picked a table away from other patrons. Only a few minutes later, though, all worry of the people around is shoved from his mind. The cook is bringing out a turkey. His eyes lock on the large bird, which is dripping with sauce and has a pile of potatoes and vegetables on one side. He's never seen so much food.

Still, he isn't the one who paid for it. He glances at Cipher before staring at the meal again. "You take what you want first. I'll have what's left over," he says.

He's so distracted by the food that he doesn't notice two men in a corner of the room whispering quietly. One is dressed in dark robes and a mask; he points briefly to Cipher and Salem before talking to the other, who's a bulky man with a black beard and charcoal dust across his sunburnt cheeks and torn apron. The man with the black beard nods and quietly walks toward the table, surprisingly agile on his feet and surprisingly quiet.

"Is, uh . . . this fella with you?" he asks, jabbing a thumb toward Salem. "Been looking for a young buck or two. Plenty o' work at the smithery."

The man in black robes leans against a window, calmly watching the encounter with crossed arms.
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
SITE SUPPORT
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#14
At the very least, the Barrel's End was prompt with their service. Even though it was late at night, it still only took a couple of minutes for the food to arrive, set in the middle of a serving tray with two plates to the side. Cipher grabbed a dish without hesitation, and shoved a few pieces of turkey and a spoonfull of mashed potatoes onto it.

However, a moment later he's looking at the kid, brows raised in something between amusement and indignation. "Don't be foolish," he told the boy, voice stained rough with a trace of impatience as his obligation drew closer to completion. "You want me to just sit here and watch you eat after I'm done?" With a light shove, Cipher pushed the plate towards the kid's end of the table and began to serve himself. "You're obviously hungry; you're almost drooling. Just eat."

The mage took his own advice a moment later, taking a mouthful of potatoes and meat. He was already starting to wonder, if he timed it right, if he might be able to get out of the inn before some other obligation took hold of him. Most of the people down here seemed comfortable and competent, not like the boy who'd been able to snag his curse with little more than a passing look. If he could make it out of the inn, and what the boy said about people not traveling at night was true, he might actually be able to find somewhere in these woods he could stay away from people for a few days.

However, as little as Cipher wanted to deal with other people, it seemed other people were drawn to him. Or, perhaps the boy's comment about drawing attention was true. Cipher lifted his eyes from his plate as the blacksmith approached, offering the man little more than a raised brow and a frown in greeting.

"I'm just paying for the meal," Cipher replied. "You'll need to ask him directly."

However, as he took the next bite of food, his eyes strayed over the blacksmith's shoulder, briefly locking on to the black-robed man. He practically reeked of suspicion. All Cipher hoped was that the man wasn't planning some sort of life-threatening incident. If he was... well, then Cipher would be forced to intervene, even if his obligation was over. Somehow, particularly dangerous situations had a way of circumventing the usual rules of his curse.
 

FaithLeafCat

Hello, friends!
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
Beginner, Elementary, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I'm fine doing both ^^
Favorite Genres
Modern/Supernatural, Fantasy, Modern, Horror, Magical, Mystery, Action Adventure, Scifi
Genre You DON'T Like
Yaoi/Yuri (when sex-centered) Smut, Slice of Life, School/Academy
#15
Salem gasps softly as Cipher pushes the food toward him. "You don't have to tell me twice!" he bursts out. He grabs one of the turkey legs and takes a bite that nearly engulfs the whole piece. He's still frantically shoving food into his mouth when the blacksmith approaches, and he glances up and tilts his head. "You said there was work?" he asks cautiously. "What kind?"

"Well, I'm not getting any younger in years. I need an apprentice who'll eventually take the place over for me - someone who wouldn't mind living in the shop, learning the tricks of the trade, getting covered in charcoal," he adds, chuckling and wiping some off his face.

Salem's eyes light up as he laughs. "I already get covered in dirt daily. Charcoal won't be any different. And you said - you said live there? Is food included?"

"Sure is."

"You've got yourself an apprentice!" Salem bursts out, pushing back from the table. "I'm ready whenever you are." He starts following after the butcher, only to pause and glance back at Cipher. "Oh . . . hang on a minute. Friend? Will you be all right traveling alone tomorrow? I don't want to leave you stranded in the middle of the forest," he adds, now talking to Cipher.

The man in black robes catches Cipher's eye and subtly averts his own gaze, now staring out the window as though waiting for someone. He's actually keeping a close eye on Salem and the blacksmith in the reflection. When Salem leaps up, he smiles.
 
Last edited:

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
SITE SUPPORT
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#16
As the kid hastily gulped down food, Cipher could feel the pressure in his chest lightening. He let out a short sigh as he chewed on a piece of turkey. The meat was chewy, slightly overcooked, but still better than what the hunter and his wife had prepared for Cipher before. It would do for tonight's meal, at the very least.

However, neither the food nor the near completion of his obligation could distract him from the conversation between the kid and the blacksmith. At the most superficial level, the conversation seemed perfectly normal. However, Cipher couldn't lift his suspicions. Why would a blacksmith look for an apprentice within an inn? There were more than enough kids wandering the streets who, like the boy, would be more than happy to join the man for regular meals and a safe place to sleep.

And then there was the masked man. Cipher was still suspicious of him.

Of course, whatever their plot might be, it didn't affect Cipher. There had been few people who could stand on his level when he'd ruled as the Zero Mage, and that was before he'd gained the power that had also cursed him. Now... Well, whatever happened, it wouldn't pose any threat to him.

The kid, though. That was an entirely different question. And Cipher didn't know what would happen if he suspected there was a plot, did nothing, and the kid died because of it... Frankly, Cipher had no idea what would happen, and he didn't particularly want to find out, either.

"I'll be fine," Cipher replied calmly to the young man's question. "I've spent time alone in the forest before." Cipher's golden eyes scrutinized the blacksmith for a moment. The man unconsciously shifted under the mage's gaze, clearly uncomfortable, before frowning at Cipher. Cipher, however, had already looked away, clearly unconcerned about his reaction, and turned back to the black-haired boy.

"I'm glad you got a good opportunity," Cipher said, his tone rather flat considering the congratulations. "But if anything odd happens, don't forget to yell for help. Maybe you'll get lucky." He grinned then, the look almost mocking, and let out a faint chuckle.

"Good luck, kid."
 

FaithLeafCat

Hello, friends!
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
Beginner, Elementary, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I'm fine doing both ^^
Favorite Genres
Modern/Supernatural, Fantasy, Modern, Horror, Magical, Mystery, Action Adventure, Scifi
Genre You DON'T Like
Yaoi/Yuri (when sex-centered) Smut, Slice of Life, School/Academy
#17
"Yell for help if anything odd happens?" Salem asks, tilting his head and laughing in return. "Kind of an . . . odd promise. But okay. Thank you." He smiles and bows. "Safe travels to you, friend. I hope we meet again."

The blacksmith smiles and waits patiently near Salem. "Well, lad, I suppose your friend has places to be - and you have a new bed to try out."

Salem gasps softly and claps his hands together before running up to give the man a warm hug. "Thank you thank you thank you! I've - I've never even had a bed before! This is going to be great!" he bursts out. He turns and gives Cipher one last wave, beaming ear to ear. Then he follows the two men out of the inn, looking for all the world like a lost puppy who's just been adopted.

The trio selects a pathway that winds through the forest near the edge so as to avoid most of the walking plants. Salem can barely hear the dirt crunching beneath his feet over his own chattering. "So what's the smithery like?" he asks. "Is it busy all the time, or sometimes slow? What do you make? Oh! And what are your names? I'm Salem."

The blacksmith clicks his tongue and shakes his head, eyes sparkling. "They call me Ol' Tom. And this here is my friend, uh . . . what'd you say your name was?"

"Ogidnew," the other man says with a slight smirk. He's gaunt and constantly assessing his surroundings. As he walks, part of his hood billows in the wind, and it grows stronger as they approach a windmill next to a stone blacksmith shop on the edge of town.

Ol' Tom beams and gestures toward the small building. "Here ya are, lads," he says softly. "What's mine is yours. Make yourselves at home, eh? I've a few chores to attend to." He nods and wanders off around the back of the property, where there's the sound of chickens clucking and a soft donkey bray.

Salem sighs blissfully and turns toward Ogidnew with a smile. "Come on! Let's go explore!" he says, reaching out to grab the man's hand.

"Oh, I couldn't agree more," Ogidnew replies. He follows Salem out to the opposite end of the property near the stone windmill, reaching for something in his back pocket.

Salem's far too distracted to notice. "Hey! Look at the - hrk!" he yelps, suddenly yanked back by something looping around his throat. His eyes widen as he twists around to find Ogidnew wrapping a leather collar around him and drawing it tight. He's remembered Cipher's warning too late; he can only gasp for breath and desperately scrabble at the leather as he tries to pull away.

"Odd," Ogidnew mutters. "Normally magic users are still able to breathe with a restriction collar on . . ."
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
SITE SUPPORT
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#18
Cipher watched the kid leave the inn, before turning back to his plate of food. He'd paid for the meal and the room, and while he couldn't say that the money really meant all that much to him, he had more than enough to last him a lifetime at this inn's prices, he didn't see that as a reason to waste the food.

The pressure in his chest was completely gone, and it was an incredible relief. Somehow, the relative freedom made the meal taste all the sweeter, and Cipher worked his way through a majority of the potatoes and turkey before standing up, planning to head towards the door. He was finally going to get out of here. Maybe this time he'd be able to make it further into the forest.

It was almost as though the thought was a curse. Cipher made it two steps away from his table before he suddenly felt something slam into his chest. Cipher gasped and crumpled, almost pulling a nearby table over on top of him in an attempt to catch himself. Laying prone on the floor Cipher's legs twitched, as a yell finally managed to cross his lips.

"Goddammit!"

Cipher didn't have time to pay attention to the crowd of panicked people that were racing towards him, or the wide-eyed innkeeper that was rapidly backing away from the scene. The red-haired mage coughed slightly, causing a splatter of blood to pass his lips. He could feel the pressure in his chest building even greater every moment, even as it felt like something was trying to draw him away.

With an inarticulate yell, Cipher called on the magic that flowed in his blood, and purple lightning began to worm its way out from under his skin, crackling through the air. The few people who'd gathered around Cipher immediately retreated, letting out yelps of surprise and panic. However, the lightning was clawing through the air, causing the space to shatter like a broken mirror. Only a few moments after it appeared, a gaping black maw appeared around Cipher, surrounded by arcing purple light.

With a groan and a grunt, Cipher pushed himself into the hole.

He tipped forward a second later, barely catching sight of a stone windmill in the corners of his eye before he toppled towards the ground. The pressure in his chest had faded slightly, but only somewhat. Cipher lifted his head, auburn eyes transformed to a brilliantly glowing purple, blood still trickling from the corners of his lips.

It didn't take Cipher more than a split second longer to catch sight of the young man who'd guided him to the inn, bent double, choking and pawing at something at his neck. A second later, and Cipher's burning eyes turned to the black-cloaked figure.

"Hey, fuckwit," he spat out towards the figure, brows wrinkled in rage. Another burst of purple magic burst from his fingers, arcing toward Salem before bursting the collar around his neck with a sharp crack. "You got the wrong one."
 

FaithLeafCat

Hello, friends!
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
Beginner, Elementary, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I'm fine doing both ^^
Favorite Genres
Modern/Supernatural, Fantasy, Modern, Horror, Magical, Mystery, Action Adventure, Scifi
Genre You DON'T Like
Yaoi/Yuri (when sex-centered) Smut, Slice of Life, School/Academy
#19
Ogidnew's face flushes sheet white as Cipher stumbles through the portal. All at once he realizes he's gone for the wrong person, and then Cipher's word confirms it. He snarls and backs away, his hands curling into fists. Then he waves his cape with a cloud of black smoke. A few moments later, he's disappeared from view.

Salem coughs hard and shakily pushes himself to his feet. He stumbles forward, eyes dilated as he tries to figure out which way is up. Then his gaze focuses in on Cipher. He cries out in relief and rushes over, flopping into the man's arms as he gasps for fresh air. "You - you saved my life," he chokes out. "You did. Thank you. I can't . . . why?"

There's a rustling in the grass as the blacksmith bolts around the corner. "What in blazes is - " he yells. He freezes when he finds Salem limp in Cipher's arms and Ogidnew gone. He rushes over and holds out his arms, stopping down slightly. "Lad, what happened?" he asks, his tone now much gentler.

"I - I - this guy saved me!" Salem bursts out. "Ogidnew tried to choke me to death with a collar, but then . . . hey, what's your name, anyway?" he adds, glancing up at Cipher with wide eyes.

The blacksmith staggers back. "Tried to - ? That slimy, low-down snake! Where is he?!" he bursts out, curling his fists even tighter than the robed figure had.

"He . . . he left," Salem says, slowly straightening up as his breathing returns to normal. "But it's okay. I'm okay."

"No, it is not okay," the blacksmith snaps. "He tried to murder the very boy he said would be perfect as my new apprentice! I will not rest until justice has been delivered to him!" He gently pulls Salem into a hug and sighs, closing his eyes. "I've not known you long. But already you've become like a son to me." Salem beams and rests against the man's chest as the blacksmith glances up at Cipher. "And you - you, dear friend, have saved the life of my son. I can never repay you, and yet . . . well, it's obvious you care about him as much as I. Will you come with me and deliver justice to his attacker?"
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
SITE SUPPORT
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fairly aggressive. I'm perfectly happy to guide the story, but if your posts never move the plot forward at all, then we'll have a problem.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by high fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Genre You DON'T Like
Not a big fan of purely realistic stories. I want something more than real life in my plots please!
#20
Just as Cipher's gaze turned towards the black cloaked figure, the other seemed to realize how much trouble he'd gotten himself into. A burst of shadow rushed out from him, and with a twirl of his cape he was gone. Cipher snorted, disdain written on his face. A novice mage and a coward. He'd be lucky to get even a passing glimpse from a real mage at that level of talent.

But as the man vanished, the pressure in Cipher's chest went along with it. The red-haired mage let out the smallest sigh of relief, before straightening from his crouched position on the ground. He was just about to turn away when he suddenly found the boy flinging his way into Cipher's chest, clinging desperately onto one of his arms. Cipher grunted slightly, a frown crossing his face at the contact, before he stepped backwards, forcibly disengaging himself from Salem.

This kid had already created more than enough problems for him, and Cipher wanted little more right now than to get away from him. He certainly didn't want the boy hanging off his arm like a monkey.

Luckily for the kid, the blacksmith appeared a moment later, giving him someone else to grab onto. However, the frown on his face only grew more pronounced as the blacksmith heard Salem's story. Even before the blacksmith turned his gaze towards Cipher, the mage felt the restriction in his chest appearing again. It never goddamn ended.

Frustrated, and still able to feel the lingering sensation of his heart being crushed in the vice grip of an invisible hand, Cipher's gaze turned to the blacksmith, his sharp golden eyes heavy with ridicule.

"Like a son to you?" Cipher repeated mockingly, the full brunt of his sharp tongue finally brought to bear. He'd pay for his cruel words shortly, Cipher knew that, but at the moment he just couldn't bring himself to care. "What weak family relations you must have, to consider a street rat you know nothing about, and whom you picked up on the recommendation of a black mage, like your own son. I pity any children you may have."

Cipher snorted and turned away, but that didn't bring his tongue lashing to an end, even though he could feel the pressure in his chest growing in exchange for every cruel word he spoke. "And as if that wasn't bad enough, now you want to go gallivanting off after a black mage? The only reason you and the kid aren't dead is because he was interested in using you to capture himself a magical slave. And now you want to hand your head over to him on a silver platter. How generous of you."

With his back turned towards the two, it would be impossible for them to see as Cipher's eyes changed color to a glowing purple, but it would be impossible for them to miss the little purple will-o'-the-wisp that drifted from him a moment later. It twirled lightly through the air, before darting over to the spot where the mage had disappeared only moments before. As Cipher started speaking again, it dissolved into a stream of purple mist, which floated back towards Cipher.

"Just stay here and reflect on your ability to judge people. Maybe next time you won't be so quick to trust a suspicious, masked figure, hmm, you ignorant fool? I'll get the mage, then you can do whatever you please with him."

With that, Cipher began to stalk away.