The Tides of Mana

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Blackstone, Oct 12, 2016.

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  1. The Bilgerat Bride never boasted to be much of something to look at, much like the woman it was duly named after. Its ramshackle exterior was washed with salt from the nearby ocean and showed signs of neglect here and there. A few window panels are missing and quite noticeably not a single shutter matches in style nor color. The door creaks in such a high pitched manner that if such a thing could be vexed by your entrance, it is quite making it known. As if its rough charm were not bad enough, the first step into the bar is an unexpected step up that catches many newcomers offguard and proves quite the lark for the other patrons. Yet, such was the nature of the Bride whom housed many-a sailor and wayfarer alike in its modest walls.

    At the break of dawn, beyond the creaking tavern inn, a great tolling begins to ring throughout the harbor. The dour bell sounds its grim promise of morning and the start of the new day as it strikes out eight times. With it, men and women shake themselves from their sleep or grog drenched stupors in preparation to start anew and wake the city of Port Neworth from its nightfall dearth as curfew breaks.

    Already, the earliest patrol of guards were on their dutiful march over cobblestone and boardwalk as they shed themselves slowly of their groggy state. It was a quiet routine that they held with a lazy ease before they knew their day would truly begin at the great wall that separated Port Neworth from the looming forest whose coils of misty breath clung unto them like a woolen blanket and swirled upon the water’s edge. This morning, however, was different.

    Throughout the town, as people gathered for the day, small parties of patrol had split and pegged to community centers declarations from Earl Baan. As the morning crowds gathered uncertainly about the official document, there came gasps and whispers from those who could read the slip. Those who could not grew uneasy with tension as word reaches their ears and look expectantly to the officers hanging back, waiting for the official reading rather than hearsay. So it is at the docks, and at many other places throughout the city that citizens would have meet their ears the following message:

    ‘On this solemn morning, I, Earl Baan, must confirm the recent rumors of missing youth throughout the city as indeed truth. We have pressed investigations and searched the city over but to no avail. In the wake of such troubling news, I know speculations must run rampant. No doubt, the accusations that our city has been breached and that our walls no longer hold back the Bael have met my ears.

    And to this, I assure you, they have not. Rest assured, the guard stands vigilant against the threats of the Bael. Whatever foulness has taken hold upon our city, this I tell you is truth: it be not monster as many have conceived it. The threat within this city was borne of man, and man can be stopped.

    Yet, I recognize the need for action. No more can my people restlessly burn the midnight oil in hopes to protect their children from some foul terror. This threat to my people must be stopped. And so it is with my mind and soul set upon the protection of our people, united under our Ard Ri, that I offer from my own coffer a reward for the culprit of these crimes. In return for this individual, be they alive or dead, I offer 500 golden leafs.

    May our lady Guardian protect,
    Earl Altemis Servil Baan’

    On the boardwalk, a young boy listens sourly in ragged clothing, missing shoes and looking like he had been wading through filth with the way it was caked up along his shins. He reaches out to his large dog and scratches the lumbering beast behind the ear. As his fingers tangle in the fur, he summons the courage to speak. With a cracking voice, he shouts out over the din of discussion over the word of Baan, “Baan is full o’ dog shit! He doesn’t know nothin’ about wot’s been takin’ us, but I do! Me an’ Mouse here seen it with our own two eyes! It’s not human! It’s one o’ those monsters and its gon’ kill us all if it gets the chance!”

    From nearby, Ailigtriona groggily stops just short of taking a bite of bread sticky with honey and looks about the crowd as they begin to disperse with words of dismissal towards the child and his proclamation or scattered discussion about what sort of wretched person could be doing this to children. The rare voice among the crowd breaks off into different veins of discussion about how the world was going to shit. The woman snorts in amusement at these people, wondering how they could believe it had ever been any different.

    Nearby, however, a clamor meets her ears and she quietly perks up, straining to listen. A comely woman, dressed in a simple earth-toned dress and apron was busy trying to cut off the route of the guards. Her grey-shot hair is in a frizzy disarray, barely thrown into a haphazard bun upon her head. The guards attempt to shove past her but she looses a cry of protest and clings at their arms, "Please! You have to tell me. The Earl, he knows something then. He knows something of what happened to my poor Henrick? I ain't seen my boy in 3 whole weeks!"

    The guard she had a death grip upon looks nervously between the woman and back towards the higher ranked of the bunch. The officer sighs and reaches up, removing his helmet and rubs over his face. As he looks at the middle-aged woman, the wrinkles about his face have knit into a gentle repose, "Now, Greta. We know how hard it's been on you, raising your boy on your own ever since the mist took your ole man. Can only imagine how it must be on you, the lad missing too... But we're doing everything we can and searching high and low. Now, love, why don't you go home and rest... Rest assured you'll be among the first to know if we find any news."

    Greta was about to open her mouth to protest more as Ailigtriona places a gentle hand upon her shoulder and gives a squeeze. "I'm sure the guards have plenty of work to do, Greta... Come now, you look like a ghost. When's the last time you've eaten?" She gives the guards a steely glance as she guides the matron away to a stall to buy her a bit of breakfast.

    The officer looses a sigh of relief as the pair leave. The guard whose arm was now free rubs over it and looks at his superior, "Sir... Three weeks. Don't you think we should tell her?"

    The officer sets his jaw before shaking his head, "Poor woman, think hope is all she has keeping her going as well as she is."
    • Love Love x 1
  2. Within the brine-soaked walls of The Bilgerat Bride, past the rows of wonky tables, chairs, and empty flagons and the pungent whiff of alcohol, saltwater, and bile, a huge figure sat alone in the corner, accompanied only by a sheathed blade the size of a small child. His arms were crossed and placed onto a rickety table, and his head was face-down in his arms, his body slouched over. His table was a mess of scrunched up pieces of paper, empty flagons, and dirt.

    As the bell sounded, the large man trembled, emitting a low-pitched groan as he dragged his big head out of his arms. His young face looked weathered, his nose was crooked, and his eyes were sunken from a mixture of drink, not enough sleep, and the sorrow he wasn't used to. His head was a mixture of thoughts, most of which he couldn't understand. The only thought that made real sense to him was that he needed to get up, and follow where everyone else was going.

    Like a wandering giant, the man strode out of the inn, ducking low under the doorframe, tripping a little every now and again as he walked. He blinked, before realizing he forgot to take his weapon with him. Stumbling back inside, he grabbed his sheathed blade and slung the heavy thing over his shoulder, before going out of the tavern for the second and likely last time.

    Terry Sullen needed work. Anything would do, so long as it felt like he belonged there. It could never replace those good years in Ardius' workforce, but anything would do. He was running out of money, and the innkeeper would soon kick him out from sleeping there. Anywhere but the wilds again... anywhere but there.


    Trudging through the stone pathways in a jangle of badly-adjusted iron pads, Terry's ears and head perked up slightly to listen to today's news. The man briefly tried to read the news via slip whilst he waited, his eyes squinting at the crumpled paper.
    "Ch... ng... wi..." Terry spat in attempt to read, before shaking his head and settling to wait for the town speaker instead. Maybe one day he'd be able to read the news like the smart folks managed to. Didn't have the money for somebody to teach him.

    As the town speaker began, Terry picked out the words he could understand one by one. Missing children... he'd heard something like that in whispers within The Bilgerat Bride.
    "Poor young-uns... hope they're alright, wherever they're being 'eld." Terry mumbled to himself sadly. He wished there was something he could do, but he had no leads whatsoever on this 'man'. 500 goldies was a lot of money as well... the money Terry would soon desperately need, but he didn't have anyone he knew that would help him, and he wasn't a bounty hunter or anything like that. The large man sighed.
    "Ah well. S'long as someone finds em'. Huntin' a man's not my sorta 'fing anyway."

    With that, Terry looked like he was about to give up for the day; he supposed he'd find something to pass the time, until the abrupt yelling of a boy caught his attention. The small chap spoke in a manner that was much easier for Terry to understand, causing his eyes to drift towards the voice. A monster, eh?

    For some reason, despite what the child was saying was potentially very serious, everyone was ignoring him and rolling their eyes. Terry just didn't understand why that was. Even if the child was lying for whatever reason, it was still worth looking into, wasn't it? Even his brain could comprehend that. Pay or not, it sounded like something he could do. Killing a horrific beast wasn't a task he was new to, though it'd been a while since he unsheathed his blade.

    Moving his way to the crowd towards the sound of the child's voice, Terry suddenly looked quite delighted for some reason. In somewhat intimidating manner, he quickly approached the boy, until the sense of intimidation instantly fell in his following words.

    "Aww... who's a good doggie...!" The big man cooed, bending over a little, letting the pooch sniff his hand before giving the dog a long stroke. "Thaat's it... good boy, ain'tcha...? Hur hur..." Terry was lost in the distraction of the dog for a long while, before he realized why he'd walked here in the first place.

    Looking up, then down at the child, Terry scratched the back of his head, giving a sheepish smile.
    "Oh... urm... hullo. Sorry bout' that; I didn't just come ere' to pet your doggie. He's a beaut, though... biggest I've seen." He smiled widely at the dog again, before his face squinted a little as he began to think more seriously.

    "Anyways..." The big man cleared his throat. "You said you n' your mouse saw a monster of some sort. One that's takin' all those poor kids. An' don't worry, I'm not ere' to get paid..." Terry mumbled, looking around him with squinting eyes. He continued, "Name's Terry... swinging a blade is all I'm good at really." The huge man extended a big hand to shake with a tired smile. "T'cut a long story short, I'd like to kill that thing if what your sayin' is true. So I gots to know exactly what you saw an' where you saw it. Guards don't look like they'll shift their arse for you at all."
    #2 Jakers, Oct 12, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  3. Salty mist was entering large, black nostrils. The constant alternation between in- and exhaling sucked it in but failed to blow out all of the solid minerals sea water contained. A part of it evaporated during its exposition to Hainsarku's warm body temperature, leaving a growing crust of deposits behind. When the man woke up, the first thing he did was to put his own nose between his fingers and give it a good, hard massage until no more crushed stuff came out.

    His shelter underneath a small bridge, though with it's back turned away from the sea and on an elevated position, probably wasn't anything the majority of the city's population would consider a comfortable place. For him though the solid rock foundation of one of the bridge's ends on one side and a bit of a visual cover on the other was sufficient for sleeping. The latter item he had arranged for himself by a number of disused wooden crates. The harbor was very near, such things weren't hard to find. If he just had a really big one to put himself and his bedroll into...


    One thing he wasn't protected against due to this failure were the bells. Wasn't life already hard enough ? Couldn't people live very well without them ? Why did everyone have to pay in lost sleep for those who didn't want to use something on a smaller scale just for themselves ?

    Needless to say that Hainsarku was grumpy. Moaning, the strange looking man lifted himself to the meager entirity of his 68 inches. Okay, if one added the longest of his 'horns' to that figure, he was more like 6'7, but that didn't really count. A morning wash, who needed that ? There wasn't much about him that could turn into oily hair...

    Something was strange. Ordinary people weren't a good indicator for they could do what they wanted, but he had spent a long enough portion of his life on the streets to gradually discover a plethora of more or less subtle deviations the guards made from their usual routines. Shouldn't just right now a patrol come this way ? Wasn't that one over there not suspiciously understaffed as if it had split up recently ?

    At this point Harnsaku didn't expect something spectacular, but he was intrigued enough to spend his currently abundant time on investigating. The wooden planks of the harbor's boardwalk sagged below the man's feet as if two invisible twins walked along with him synchronously. Needless to say that he had to wait until he could see the written announcement himself. In fact, the first indication of its content not being to his joy were people around him casting suspicious glances on him.

    No monster from outside, but a human from inside ?
    Hainsarku rapidly turned away from the slip after having read it. He squinted his eyes as he surveyed the crowd. This bastard of Baan had just put him onto the silver plate! Who would people suspect first: Their perfectly ordinary neighbour or the guy that looked like a monster but was officially listed as a member of this city so no politician would have to lie when stating that the walls had not been breached ? The interpretation of things didn't get any better when approaching the matter from the other side: If people would start to believe that their Earl was a liar and a real monster was responsible for this, he would likely be high up on the list of suspects as well.

    He had just started to slip out of this place when a young boy's voice intruded his ears. Hainsarku turned around, spotting its owner. One could really find reason to feel pity for the lad, but right now he didn't: Shut up! Please! I beg you, stop it!

    The man felt being in trouble. Using some sort of compromise between being too slow and running suspiciously fast, Hainsarku approached the boy and his respectable dog in order to talk to him. It would make him stop yelling things... Yet he arrived only in second place. A giant of a man had been faster. He couldn't remember having seen someone of comparable size before and Terry's sheer presence made him stop well in front of them.

    Harnsarku didn't wear any armor. He was completely dressed in simple, rather dirty cloth, though unlike the boy he wore a pair of shoes. "Erm... Don't you think it is a tad wrong to spread unproven statements and thereby unsettle the people of this town ?" Hainsarku tried to speak in a calm, non-accusing voice. "It's not that I'd give my signature to everything our Earl asserts, but the other extreme doesn't help either."

    Hopefully neither the boy nor the giant would make the wrong conclusions. He didn't exactly feel very well standing next to them.
  4. Al-Ahmaq Alkhadhib
    "The Lying Fool"
    There was always the man huddled in the alley, saying nothing sensible, imploring this or that from passers-by, and this time the lowly beggar had an extra quirk of being a known loon. This unknown, yet infamous character had been trying to recruit warriors for ages, only to be constantly turned down. Still, never to be dissuaded, he maintained his position and sought out other swordsmen in the hopes of one day having his trusted circle, his army, his people.

    Khalil Al-Habib searched for good men to help him "retake" the Imperial Throne of Enruba, but always with the ever-pragmatic mercenaries and greedy hired swords, they would never support him without money, or to help him take a throne was not in their interest. He needed volunteers, men in it for the good of the cause. To this end, he was largely a failure. So he stayed in the alley, rocking back and forth, his chaotic grin simultaneously drawing in and repulsing those who pass. But with events occurring around him, perhaps he could gain some renown? Some chance to gain a reputation? Because you see, while Khalil wasn't all right in the head, he was not an idiot.

    "Let no man think me an imbecile! Hahaha, yes, I think I can be very cunning... It is a good trait for a leader, methinks... Hahahaha!"

    He was unaware he said that out loud, but when it mixed in with his regular chuckling and babbling, nobody paid it any mind. However, what surprised everyone is when Khalil stood up. Whispers began to drone in the street, "That nut by the bar is up to something," they say, but they can never guess what. And so Khalil approached one of the guards still in the street to ask him a question.

    "Hello, brother! Have your men any leads on the missing children? Suspicions? Evidence? Scraps left behind by victims? Talking dogs? Helpful insects? Hehehe, I doubt you do, but fear not! I am the deposed Emperor of Enruba! I have skills befitting my old station, just you watch! Let me look at the women whose children were taken, I can tell you the answer!"

    But the question was, how would the guard respond?
    Eris Stoneheart
    The Secret Bloodline

    That morning, Eris was just arriving on foot. She was meaning to come to port, believing that it would be easier to find emissaries, comrades, and mercenaries at a port town. The first thing she would need to make it in this world is a group of comrades - Eris figured she could find other adventurers at the tavern, based on what she'd heard from the mercenaries who passed by her outpost. The morning must've been too old as she'd arrived, however - the bar was empty, and instead people were surrounding the herald just outside. Children were missing? No doubt, heroic types she needed would be following that cause, so she needed the honor to match. Not to mention, the death of children was always tragic, she wanted to save them if possible.

    A clamor near the front of a patrol she was following catches her ear - a deeply depressed looking woman was begging the Lady Captain, and an idea caught in her head - why not try her hand at sleuthing? As the guard left, she went to console the potentially childless widow, offering an ear to vent her stress.

    "My lady, I'd like to offer my condolences. Please, let me help you, I pray I might be able to find some clue as to what happened to your child. I just need to know what you can tell me about the situation. What can you tell me? Who can tell me more? What are your thoughts?"

    While her goal was to soothe the destitute woman with her assistance, there would always be the chance she'd strike a nerve or cause a recall of some harsh memories.
  5. "I'm very happy this is the end, Asmarsin, my body can't stand the constant sea salt in the air anymore."

    "Cheery til the end I see, how long do you think you have?"

    "About a week I wager before my heart finally gives out"

    "Well I'm not a busy man these days, I can stay that long"

    "As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I'm going to be kicking you out tonight."

    "Do you enjoy festering in unwashed death, Zian?"

    "My sons will be arriving tomorrow morning, they'll be bringing a whole regiment of nurses and maids to look after me. It'll be rather bothersome."

    "Well at least you'll be dying with something pretty to look at."

    "You'd think so but my sons taste in women are horrific, you should see their wives. It pains me that my grandchildren are going to come out so deformed."

    "Then simply shoo them away."

    "They're not here to actually take care of me, they're here to make sure their inheritance is set aside for them. The greedy little tramps. I would have been much better off if you were my actual son, we had similar interests."

    "I don't think its possible to view that as wholly a good thing."

    "Aye, a lifetime wasted for taboos and follies. What a disaster I put upon you"

    "It was my decision as well. You forced nothing on me"

    "Elders should correct the mistakes of the youth not spoon feed it to them. You didn't know better"

    "I do now and I still accept it as my choice. You know, you never inquired about where I had been after the surgery."

    "I didn't need to, I sense what you had done. And when I heard the tales of the Foreigner transforming into a monster, it only confirmed what I knew."


    "You know, I'm the only person who knows your real name, when I die, you'll be alone and no one will know who you really are."

    "Please don't take offense if that somewhat relieves me."

    "How long do you plan to keep this up?"

    "til I die"

    "Your family has a notoriously long lifespan Asmarsin, you still have 30 healthy years left before your body starts giving out. This will catch up with you before then."

    "We'll see"

    ", on the table over there is a hefty sum of coins. I'm tired of hearing you doing nothing but guard work on dingy caravans. This should keep you afloat til you can find better work."

    "Thank you"

    "You should go, I can handle myself til my sons arrive. Try to live a decent life."

    "'I'm working on it."

    Azzy boots slammed hard on the creaking wood beneath him as he stepped off the boat and onto the harbor. The trip to Mercuil had been uneventful, though he managed to buy a wine flask off a sailor for a few pieces of coin. Which he was happily drinking as he walked towards the town. The sound of his plate mail rustling with every step he took could be loudly heard by the towns folk and they also noticed the large claymore slung across his back. He drank the wine greedily, for being stuck on a ship for long periods of time did not offer its passengers any form of comfort. He was deciding where to go next as he had only picked the boat to Port Neworth simply because it was the next one leaving and Azzy didn't wish to be stuck on Mercuil for a lengthy period of time.

    Now he needed to figure out what his next step was. He didn't wish to go up north to Vossheim, nor was the idea of traveling to the Trenlow sound particularly appealing to him. As he swallowed down more wine he mused that he could travel south, explore some ruins and cities. Maybe find a trinket worth selling. Zian had been right; now with this little bag of coin he didn't have to join every wretched caravan he came across. He could relax for a bit, travelling the world and drinking watered down wine.

    However when he saw the group of people gathered around the towns square he knew something was wrong. He could tell that simply by their faces, it had been a while since he had last shown up at Neworth, at least a couple of years. He wondered what the problem could be. After he had read the Earl's declaration, Azzy's face was smiling and not from the wine he had been guzzling down. The reward was substantial which Azzy could add to his already large coin purse. The longer he didn't have to do odd jobs the better. At best it was just come crazy roaming the streets abducting children, at worst it was some mana beast from the wilderness that had gotten inside and Azzy was plenty acquainted with killing them. This was easy pickings, the high reward only showed just how scared the whole city was.

    Azzy's eyes wandered to the boy who made his little outburst. At first, Azzy only shrugged him off while gulping his wine before the idea hit him. He wiped his beard and went to find the boy again, only to find two other men with him already, seemed some others had similar ideas. The first was a giant of a man with a sword similiar to Azzy's, though he had youth and inexperience washed all over his face. The other man was clearly deformed, but it was indeed a man. Azzy narrowed his eyes at him, ah, he thought to himself. He only needed to glance at the skin to figure out what had happened. The Bael had gotten to him. Honestly Azzy was surprised he was even alive. Those who come into exposure to wild, uncontrolled mana unprepared, the kind that you'd find in the thick of the Bael usually ended up dead shriveled corpses. He had seen plenty of those on his travels.

    Azzy ignored the two and spoke to the boy directly. "You said your dog saw a beast? Where? I'd like to see it for myself" He dangled a few coins in front of the kid before quickly pulling his hand back. "Show me first".

  6. Beautiful music flowed through the physically unappealing Bilgerat Bride. A tune flowed easily from the strings of the instrument as smoothly and gracefully as the dancer playing it moved. Ghazal offered a small time of joy in the dark and gloomy setting, his bright clothing and shining smile radiating through. Contrasting the mellow feeling of the outside of the building, the inside was made bright and happy, patrons not as gloomy as the people walking on the streets.

    Ghazal moved between tables and around customers elegantly and smoothly, never missing a beat in his dancing or playing. Quite soon, however, the song ended and Ghazal stopped his dancing in time with the conclusion of the song.

    Almost immediately, the small audience erupted with applause for the finishing performance from the foreign dancer. After a few of the residents gushing about his talents, and getting a few tips, Ghazal made his way out into the town. On his way, he heard of someone talking about a flyer about the missing people. Of course Ghazal knew what was going on, as anyone in an inn knows everything going on in the town currently, he just wasn't sure how he should help, if he even could.

    Leaving the thoughts alone, he made his way towards the docks, as that seemed to be a lively part of town. The young Enrubian stuck out like a sore thumb in this city, his bright clothing contrasting the gloom that perpetuated around them all. He was met with kind smiles and waves, as he made himself sort of famous here. Anyone who went to the inn or knew someone who had been there within the past few days had either seen or heard of the dancer.

    The young male stopped walking in order to look around. Perhaps I'll be nice and assist in this complication before moving on. He though to himself. With this resignation to help in mind, Ghazal looked around for someone who seemed to have any insight on what was happening.
  7. Mouse’s big tail thuds against the ground as he looks up at Terry, his tongue lolling and drool draining down his maw in great goblets as the child stares up at him in awe. The great behemoth of a man, the biggest person he had ever seen, perhaps, and he was talking to him. He wipes over his nose with a dirty sleeve and nods slowly at Terry. “I… I’m Russ. An’ this is Mouse,” he reaches high to pat the big dog on the head. He stares doubtfully up at the big man before taking a breath, seemingly coming to grips with something internally. He opens his mouth to speak before a newcomer arrives before him.

    The appearance of the man sets his eyes bulging as he stares up and catches glimpses of his horns. For a moment, Russ is pale beneath the patches of dirt before his face scrunches up and his small fists ball up and he points a small finger at Harnsarku, “I was jus’ ‘bout to tell Terry all about wut I seen an it weren’t no lies!” He quivers, scarcely taking note of someone approaching closer.

    “Me an’ Mouse, we was in the Ratways… ya know, under the city. Only place some o’ us have to call home… We heard somethin’ we hadn’t heard afore an’ it didn’t sound like nothin’ bad. It was echoin’ down the tunnels, so we thought we’d follow it…” He bites his lip, beginning to shake and digging his fingers into Mouse’s fur. The dog looks at the boy curiously before washing its broad tongue over his cheek and leaving a clean streak behind. Russ offers a weak smile in return and starts again, “We saw somethin’ then, jus’ barely lit… But it was grinnin’ an’ its eyes were bleedin’ an’ I swear, it looked like there were too many arms.” He looks around at the trio of men, wide eyed, “We didn’t want to stick around an’ get a closer look, but I swear, it weren’t human.”

    As Asmarsin offers out coins to Russ in return to showing him where the creature was, Russ backs away quickly and holds up his hands to deny the offer. “N-no!” He shakes his head profusely, “I ain’t takin’ yer coin, sir. I’m not goin’ back down there with that thing for all the coin in the world! You don’t get it… The look in its eyes, like I was lucky to get outta there alive!” Mouse barks loudly. “Right, I know ya woulda kept me safe, but we ain’t gonna do it, buddy!” Mouse whines and falls onto his paws, crawling on the docks. Russ crosses his arms, glaring down at the dog before looking at the trio, “Look, if ya want someone to help you, you gotta find some other crazy. I’m not yer guy.” He points past where Khalil was talking to some guards towards some tramps, “One of those guys might be desperate enough.”

    The group of vagrants were huddle upon the boardwalk, milling about in the morning as if they had been there some time. They were gathered in a ring centered about two central figures. While a few of the individuals kept their eyes cast out towards the crowds and even seemed to be paying attention to what was being said, for the most part they were busy talking amongst themselves.

    “Don’t su’pose that Eris woman is gen’ine?”

    A woman wearing leathers and furs, unseasonable for the late summer of the area snorts and crosses her arms, “Genuinely daft, maybe. Wanting to help us all. We got ourselves just fine.”

    “Yeah, but it don’t seem like to bad a deal, if’n she can ever get it going.”

    This time, a male with feline features, a Khajiit speaks up with a rolling purr of a chuckle as he takes a long draw of his bottle of liquor from his sunny perch atop his crates, “Now, now. Let the dreamers dream.” His dry rasp of a voice grates over them and earns a few unsavory looks. He offers a toothy grin of yellow fangs with broken and rotting teeth mingled in.

    The woman and Khajiit share a look for a moment before the woman grimaces, “Though, I imagine, the idea of those houses, if she could ever manage it… would be nice.” The cat man nods along slowly. “Especially right now.” She grimaces and looks around the group, “Anyone seen Tabber recently?” There’s a general murmur of dissent and avoidant gazes as they begin to fall silent.

    The patrol of guards stop and take in Khalil and his upright position and a murmur passes between them. The youngest of them more than a little loudly starting, “He’s off his nut!”

    “Yeah, he’s a mentaller, but that’s aside, the case,” another grunts hushedly before raising his voice to be heard more clearly by Khalil, “No talking cats—“ the young one corrects with a muttered, ‘dogs’ “—dogs, but we have kept quite vigilant for any and all activity and if you have read the reports, than you will have known that we have come to the determination that between a thorough examination of the reports of watches and the reports of the incidents, the culprit is most-assuredly of the human persuasion.”

    “Well, if’n you ain’t countin’ that child’s malarkey…”

    The captain of the crowd scoffs, “If we’re about to count that, we might as well bring Tavesh back off rest after her meltdown. I’m sure she’d have an earful for this bloke, going on about the sound of the will-o-the-wisps. Lass isn’t even a real woman and she’s already off it.” The captain runs a hand back through his greasy hair before snorting. “Daorta, be a kind soul, and why don’t you check up on Tavesh, make sure to bring her some food this morning, since you’re at the end of your vigil.”

    The man, Daorta nods and salutes to the captain and they continue along their patrol before the group splits up. Two of them, the captain and the young man head towards the wall. Daorta and the other head back towards the dockside post.


    The captain and the young man continue along their patrol, heading along the boardwalk. The younger guard walks in-step with his superior even as the latter scratches at his balding crown and casts a side-long glance at him. “Daorta’s crew got the reports that another one was lost last night, huh?”

    The young man nods, “Yeah, down Verger’s Way. That Creevey’s kid. The folks were a wreck when I saw them, and don’t blame them.”

    The captain nods slowly and takes a deep breath, “We’ve got the guards patrolling the streets at night. The walls are guarded. I don’t know what else to do. I have no idea how they keep getting past. We should have got them by now.”

    The man nods, “You’re right, Cap’n. But that’s why we’re bringing in these folks, right?... To find what’s causing it and stop it.” The captain nods solemnly but doesn’t reply as he they step off the boardwalk and start down the cramped streets of the city.


    Daorta and the other guard went back to the port and went to a simple squared-off three-story tower. Unlike most of the city that was cramped together, there is a small yard about the tower with shrubberies and raised flower boxes around the perimeter. While normally closed throughout much of the year, the heavy double doors and a number of the windows are wide open to let in a breeze. On the first floor, a young woman just barely out of her youth sits with a shawl draped over her shoulders and smoking a rolled leaf as she stairs out over the port with a glazed look.

    Daorta goes over to her and holds out a toasted piece of bread spread with creamed cheese and smoked fish. “I remember saying it’s something you enjoyed, as weird of a thing as it around here.” She nods and takes the toast and holds it with a limp hand as she takes another long pull on the leaf, staring outside. The smoke spills out from her lips in a lazy plume as awkward silence ensues.

    Daorta looks out, trying to see what she sees before sighing and looking back at her, “The wisps still, huh?”

    Tavish purses her lips into a thin line, her eyes flickering to the other guard for a moment before she looks back outside. “You all think I’m off it,” she sets the toast on the end table beside her and grabs up a cup of caff, drinking from it with a sour face. “I see it in all your faces. Poor Tavs, she’s done lost her mind. That’s what we get for setting a wee lamb to fight off the fiends. She was barely off of sucking her mum’s tit and listening to fairy tales before we fucked her mind.” She grimaces and ashes on the floor, “All of you can take a dip in the brine, though. You’ve forgotten the truths those stories used to hold.”

    The other guard gives her a disapproving look before sighing and shaking his head, “Right. The captain’s just worried about you Tavish. We know this has hit hard. These kids disappearing is a beating to us all… Just, take it easy.” Daorta rubs over his eyes before starting to the stairs to the quarters.

    Alex leads Greta back from a stand, each holding in their hands a cobbled together half of a sandwich. The red-haired woman smiles sadly after swallowing a bit of food and mumbles, “Yeah, I know it’s a bit rough. My brother’s middle, she’s gone missing too. I just heard about it when we weighed anchor the other day. Why don’t you tell me about your boy.”

    “Ah, my wee lit’l Henrick. He… He has the cutest freckles, all over this scrunched up lit’l nose,” she takes another bite of her food and chews it slowly as she thinks about her child. “He is such a good boy, taking care of me since the mist devils took his da. Always been the best boy a mam could ask for. Sure he gets into to trouble, but what boy doesn’t, hmm?” She gives Alex a sober smile before she starts in on her food again weakly.

    Alex nods with a faint chuckle, “Ah, my own, Calum, he’s just a tyke still, but he’s just a devil himself. My brother is always telling me about all the trouble the rascal has gotten into while I’m—“ she stops as Eris comes up and begins to talk to Greta. She looks to the woman and raises her brows, curious what the widowed matron would say.

    Greta remains quiet for a moment, hands trembling about the meaty sandwich as she looks anywhere but at her questioner. The boards and the sloughing water between the planks becomes her fixation as she works her jaw for a time, her chest working in shallow breaths. “Condolences are for people that passed. My Henrick, he’s gonna be alright, yet. Don’t you offer me no condolences, miss.”

    Alex frowns and reaches out, placing gentle hands upon Greta’s shoulders to soothe her, “She didn’t mean nothing by it, Greta. She just meant that she was sorry. Sounds like she wants to help you and your boy.”

    The matron’s eyes were watery as her lip trembles. The food falls from her hand and drops to the walk below, “Well if she wants to help, maybe she should be more careful with her words.”

    Alex nods slowly and pats over her back, “Yeah, Greta, yeah… But she’s just asking to hear what you know… Maybe help the woman know what you saw and she’ll see what she can do for your boy. That’s the whole reason the Earl did that announcement, right? So people like her could help?”

    Greta seems to go back and forth upon the matter for a moment before sighing and nodding, “You’re right…” She looks up at Eris, skirting her gaze just barely, “The night my Henrick disappeared… and this is just what I told the guards, I remember seeing a man in a big cloak, walking about the streets with a lamp. He was just walking up and down the streets all shady like, or at least, that’s what I thought. It had me all uncomfortable, so I shuttered up all the windows and bolted the doors.” She draws her arms about herself, hugging her chest, “It must have put my Henrick on edge too. He was up all night and couldn’t get down to sleep, no matter what he tried. I even tried to give him a little cough syrup to see if it would lay him to rest. Nothing, he must have been scared half to death…” She starts to tear up. “I must have drifted off… And that’s when it happened…. I came to, with the door wide open and my boy was gone.”

    The tears were flowing fully now and Alex pulls the middle-aged woman into an embrace, looking at Eris uncertainly as she coos to calm the woman down, offering gentle hushing sounds. “It’s not your fault, Greta. You’re not responsible for the one who did this…”

    Greta shudders against Alex, choking back sobs, “I’m… I’m sorry I’m not more help… But maybe the guards… Or some of the street people know more…”
  8. Terry gave a slight smile in response as Russ introduced himself. Despite being so huge, there seemed to be a soft aura about the man as he listened in. Just as Russ was about to explain, however, along came a strange man of an unknown race to Terry; crumpled skin and strange horns wasn't a feature of any race he'd come across before. He spoke a bit too sophisticated for Terry to fully decipher, but he generally seemed to disagree with the child's statement. When Russ pointed the finger, Terry took the child's side as well.

    "Oi, you. I believe little Russ. Unproven, well, that dunn't change the fact we should look at it. Just think about it... children gettin' snatched up by a grinnin-beast with no way to defend themselves... don't want that, do ya? Gotta try and get to the bottom of it at least." Terry folded his arms, frowning a little as observed the peculiar man, before another man came along with a fistful of money.

    The other was middle-aged; not from around here; got straight to the point, and seemed to possess a lot of high-end gear along with a good sum of supplies, money included. When he bribed the child to 'show him first', Terry squinted a little in confusion. There were only, like, two other men here... couldn't Russ just show them at once? The big man just didn't understand the veteran's intentions.

    As Russ continued to explain the situation, Terry rubbed his his stubble-coated chin in thought.
    "The Ratways eh?" Terry pondered. "It's a place a beast would go; no doubt about it. I heard loads of young-uns' and people gone broke hold up there, but it ain't a place guards patrol. Could murder there an' get away with it, easy... that bastard of a beast..."

    Soon, Russ's talk came to an end, and Terry gave a nod to the boy once he was finished.
    "Well, thank ya' for tellin' me, Russ. I dunno how I'm gonna kill the thing yet - if it's even there - but, urr, methinks I'll find a way." Terry fumbled about in his pocket with a meaty palm, before giving the boy a small amount of money. It wasn't much, but it was still enough to buy something useful. He'd have to skip eating and a visiting the tavern for a couple days, but he could manage. "You take that for speakin' up against everyone. Not many kids would 'ave the guts to talk against the Earl, so you get yourself somethin' nice. I'll let yer' know if I get the thing dead. For now though, you try an' stay out of the Ratways as best you can, eh?" Before turning to leave, Terry bent over and scratched behind both of Mouse's big floppy ears.

    "Bye doggie."

    Hummm... so... now what? Will anyone actually gimmie a hand? Terry's thoughts were quite idle as soon as he turned around. The vagrants Russ mentioned were certainly an option if it came to it, so he could try there. Terry briefly noticed a strange man with dark skin who seemed to be cackling and grinning as if he was the only one actually enjoying his life. It was kind of scary actually. Terry was distracted watching the babblings of the strangely-dressed man for a moment, before he thought back to the matter at hand.

    He was confident in his ability to fight, but Terry wasn't a cocky man. He knew that taking out a beast on its own turf was something he probably wasn't able to do alone just with a big sword. He needed people to help him out, though... he wasn't much of a leader. He could try the vagrants if he was desperate, but he didn't feel confident about it. There was only one other person he'd seen who seemed actually willing to check out the beast scenario was...

    Terry looked to the middle-aged man that had offered the kid some money. Would he be willing to work with him? He seemed like a professional that would turn down a guy like him... but still, it was worth a try.
    "Er... hullo. You're lookin' into this beast thing as well?" Terry asked as he turned to the man in plate mail to get his attention. "I'm Terry. Ex-caravan guard; seen a lot fights, but, urr... to get to the point. We'll 'ave a much better time if we work together, if you're gonna look in The Ratways as well." Terry paused, before adding, "An'... if you're in it for the five hundred, all I want is... urm..." Terry counted on his fingers for a moment. "...Twenny'. Twenny' leaves; you can have the other ...four-sixty. I jus' want to get this done, an' two swords are better than one, eh?"

    Twisting his head, Terry looked at the other man; the one with strange horns and from an unknown area to him.
    "An' I suppose you won't help, despite havin' the gear for the job. Spiky armour an' all. Well you go back to what you was doing if that's the case, methinks I'll take a risk to 'ave a chance of saving loads of poor young-uns."

    With that, Terry turned back to the man in plate mail.
    "So, what do ya' say?"
    #8 Jakers, Oct 20, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  9. Internally, Hainsarku was puzzled. The boy had proven himself unable or unwilling to reckognize the small, but very important difference between unproven and false. The other, colossal man had used the right word, but still drawn the wrong conclusions, so the result was the same: He had collected the discountenance for something he had never intended to say and, at least in his own mind, had indeed never said. It made the strange, distorted looking man just stand there in silence, his lips compressed to a thin line that would not have allowed for any nibble of a word to break through. Seeing Russ supplement his rebuffing statement with a pointing finger and clenched fists didn't make him feel any better.

    Then another man approached. Gosh... he managed to make himself an undying source of vicarious embarrassement within seconds! He didn't really try to bribe the boy ? Hainsarku inspected him from the corner of his eyes, randomly and temporarily diverting his view to other directions in order to make it not being so noticeable. Soon the man with the vile face ran out of other objects that one could reasonably pretend to find interesting though.

    By that time however, the situation was already dissolving itself. Terry left and left him behind.
    Phew... the giant had not come across that link one could possibly see between the recent occurrences and the statement that a 'monster' would be responsible for this... Hainsarku was in serious doubt that he would have had much of a chance against him in this situation, despite the fact that he had quite one or two surprises on his own that didn't reveal themselves to an outside onlooker who wasn't very attentive.

    With a slightly bad feeling in his guts, Hainsarku had to see Terry turn around. Had he anything to add ? Apparently so, but not what he was afraid of. He addressed the man who looked a bit southern. At this point, Hainsarku's little self-confidence roared up and climbed across the wall he had erected around himself. Maybe he could rule out any possible suspicion of him being the villain by assisting in the investigation ? After all, he too could need the coins. With a low voice and one of his fingers slightly erected as a school boy who requested attention did, but with a small step that thudded on the cobble stone as if a real colossus had moved, he interrupted.

    "Erm... I...I'd be willing to help, too. It was just... I don't like it when people go full forward without full backup by evidence. Investigating the case could help finding them though." Needless to say that at this moment he had apparently forgotten about the reward that, hopefully, by now would have to be divided by three.
  10. Azzy merely shrugs as the boy rejects his offer and puts the coin back in his pouch, he takes another gulp of wine and swallows it slowly when he heard the boy mention the Ratways. He sighs quietly to himself, while the Ratways were the most likely place for a kidnapping monster to hide, it didn't make Azzy want to just run down there. Mainly because of the thugs and thieves that were a constant nuisance, even in the daylight. Azzy in the past had to kill more than a few men down there. He listened intently when he heard the boy describe the creature as having multiple arms and then frowned slightly. The more he listen, the more he came to believe the boy was telling the truth. He had encountered creatures like that in the mist and especially in the woods and forests that were shrouded by the fog. How something like that managed to sneak in a fortified town like this, especially one that prepared against such creatures, was beyond him.

    He turned to Terry and gave him a polite smile and a nod, "Twenty leaves is too small, you'll get a hundred leaves. You look like you could use it" though Azzy didn't really understand how a man that big couldn't find work, regardless, Terry looked disheveled and homeless, "Just call me Azzy". There was no reason for Azzy to be greedy. He turned to leave, assuming Terry would follow him when he heard the other man speak-the deformed one. He turned and looked at him, giving him a friendly smile. "Come along then, if you help us kill it, that'll earn you a hundred leafs as well. Plus I'm planning on doing a bit of investigating myself, going to meet an old friend." He paused for a moment, greedily gulping down the last drops of the red wine.

    "Heading to the ratways now would be useless, all it'll do is attract attention. If you two wish to stick with me, so be it. Otherwise, meet me at the main Ratway Entrance when nightfall comes and we'll be going monster hunting."

    As he turned and walked away, he only got a few steps before overhearing a conversation between three women, one of which was significantly older and was looking quite distressed. He guessed one of the children nabbed was one of hers and quickly listening in proved he was right. The other woman, looking to be in her late 20's with long, vibrant red hair and a cute face was trying to keep the old woman calm and her nerves together. Then there was a much younger woman, not much older than 20, among them as well though he couldn't quite pin her down.

    Azzy stared at the old woman intently as she told her tale of how her boy disappeared, and then his eyes went wide with worry when she described the man in a cloak, with a lamp. But wait, the child earlier described it as one of the twisted mana fiends Azzy had seen before in his travels... so what was with this woman sayi-

    "ooohh shit" Azzy quietly muttered to himself before quickly hurrying away, reaching his arm back to briefly touch the handle of his claymore to put his mind at ease. Now he knew how the monster got inside the city. He needed to speak with his friend immediately.

    We quickly went to the market and bought another wine flask, this time of a mild white wine. So mild in fact that it was more like a juice than wine. He knew she would like it.

    He found himself walking back to the port, though this time it wasn't to get on a ship, but to look for a very peculiar building. A three story tower and a rather grim looking one at that, though at its base sat a young woman, who looked so frail and harmless. Azzy approached the girl with a warm, genuine grin, offering her the wine flask.

    "It's been a while Tavish, you've grown since I saw you last." he paused for a moment, missing his own wine flask that he had gluttonously drank earlier. "I came here to this city on a whim, now it seems that there is more going on here than people realize."
    #10 Slade, Oct 22, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  11. As the strange looking man put his foot down and spoke up instantly against Terry's judgement, the large man's mouth was opened in a dumb fashion for a moment, before he scratched under his chin and avoided eye contact; it was his easily readable sign of looking guilty. Whilst he didn't get the whole concept about evidence, whatever that was, it was clear the chap wanted to help after all.
    "Oh... urr, I see. Then I'm sorry for miss judge'n you, ser. I thought you were jus' another one of the others: all scornful like." Terry mumbled quietly as he finished scratching his chin, though he still looked uncomfortable and avoided eye contact. "Urr, so now we're a three aren't we? Well thas' good. Three men who look like they can kick some fuckin' child-killer skull in, eh?"

    Terry was then offered one hundred leaves; the sheer amount made him blink and stagger slightly. He thought about it for a moment, before putting the hands in the pockets of his caravan suit and looking at the floor.
    "Well, urr, thank you ser'. But twenny's all I want. S'enough for me to get by on, and that's all I want really. For some reason havin' a lot of money in me pocket never felt right. Like I would waste it all or do somethin' pointless with it or... somethin'." Terry gave a quiet, nervous 'heh' under his breath. "So twenny's all I want. My blade's in it for the poor young-uns anyways."

    The middle-aged man then offered for Terry to follow, proposing they should head in at night instead.
    "Yea boss, that sounds like an' idea. Night's when the beastie'll come out anyways, otherwise townsfolk'll just spot it." A rather obvious statement, but Terry felt like a high-class detective pointing it out. "An' if it's alright, I'll follow yous' for now. You look like the sorta guy who knows people. Knows a lot an' has seen a lot, in fact. I dunno why, but I can just feel it. Once I've eard' enough infom... infamatsh... infarmation?" Terry paused for validation that he said the polysyllabic word correctly, before moving on. "Th-then I'll get lost an' get togethar' some gear. Torches n' firepoppers an' the like. Better oil up me sword too."

    With that, Terry Sullen followed, his huge feet clodding against the mucky floor, his giant frame hunched over as he weaved through the crowd and occasionally tripped.

    Following behind silently in terms of speech (but certainly not in terms of footsteps and presence), Terry paused along with Azzy when he let out a faint 'ooooh shit' as if something had been revealed. He looked in the direction he'd been looking in, and squinted in as he saw the poor old woman from earlier, along with two... oohh... two...

    Terry's simple mind was very easily distracted. And one of those things it was distracted on was women. Whilst he didn't stare and goggle below-the-head like a creep, he looked very fidgety and avoided looking in their general direction as he moved himself on before he got himself into trouble. He hated himself for acting this way around 'purty' types, because he'd met some total bitches that had manipulated him because of his weakness to a good-looking woman. If he could wipe it from his brain he would, but he just couldn't help himself.

    Terry looked down at the floor, grumbling a little as he kicked the dirt in his step as he continued to follow Azzy. He hadn't heard anything valuable from the conversation because of that distraction. He'd need to ask later.

    Azzy seemed to know exactly where he was going after that, so Terry lugged behind and didn't ask many questions, his far-set, chesnut eyes squinting as they tried to find something they could be useful for the night's monster hunt. Various markets with potentially useful things, but all Terry had was pocket change after tipping that kid. He didn't regret it though.

    When Azzy went to meet someone, he noticed the bond between the two seemed quite close judging by the middle-aged man's warm smile towards the young lass and lack of any hesitation to offer her some of his wine. Because of this, Terry quietly cleared his throat, putting his hands in his pockets as he tried his best to stay out of the picture so the two could have a peaceful conversation.

    Old friends were great, and he respected that. Shame he didn't really have any anymore. ...Fuck. Why had he been such a bloody idiot that day? Brooding on that thought, Terry waited for the two's conversation to finish, though he'd pop out from where he was standing if addressed.
  12. Tavish looks up at Azzy from her chair and her gaze drifts over along to the giant of a man behind him. She reaches out, taking the wineskin and snorts, “Can’t be a snot-nosed whelp forever…” She pops the stopper on the skin and takes a long pull. She blinks, taken aback and licks her lips, “That’s actually good.” She smiles ever so slightly and closes it again, setting it in her lap for later. The guardswoman runs a hand back through her hair, areas of it streaked white despite her young age. “Yeah, there’s things going on… Whether or not the rest of those idiots care to acknowledge it,” she spits with a hint of venom. “So… Are you actually here to ask real questions? Or have you been listening to what these louts have to say?” she nods her head towards the stairwell where Daorta had gone. She waves to Terry, “He hasn’t managed to rope you in along for whatever trouble he’s up to, has he?”

    Alex gives Greta a small squeeze of the shoulder, “You should head back home and take care of yourself… As soon as there’s any news, I’m sure you’ll be the first to know.” She gives the newcomer woman a nod in parting before she moves over the boardwalk to the boy who had shouted before with the dog.

    Russ wipes over his face with his sleeve as he eyes Harnsarku uncertainly. “I bet you could scare the monster away…” He crooks his head as he hears the nearby group of vagrants talking. The boy pipes up over his shoulder, “Tabber? I ain’t seen him since last week… He an’ I was s’pose to meet up an’ do a run, but he ain’t shown up.”

    The group perks up and the Khajiit looses a loud rumble of amusement, “Tabber said he would, hmm? Just like there’s monsters?”

    The woman in leathers and furs crosses her arms, “Well, something is going on. Tabber might be flighty, but he is social… If it’s been a week…” She picks at her teeth in thought, as she studies Harnsarku and the new approaching woman. “It’s shit on all ends. They’ll be tossing us around up here with this new hysteria about some babby-stealing bastard running about… And I swear, at this rate, the mist musta sunk down below.” She spits lightly and nods to Harnsarku, “Whose your friend, Russ?”

    The Khajiit snorts and picks inside his ear absentmindedly, “Mist-forsaken bastard, ain’t you. Looks like you’ve been hit with every branch of the ugly tree.” He plucks out a mite from his ear and rolls it between his fingers, inspecting it before flicking it away.
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