Uprising: The Tyrant King [Jess Incognito x Krimp]

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Krimp, Aug 13, 2015.

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    The sun was setting in the city of New Ryllon, the cobbled streets cooling as shadows claimed sunlight. For many cities in Duriel, the setting of the sun heralded the end of a day’s commerce; but not in New Ryllon. The web of intertwining streets were not so busy as they would have been at noon, but large numbers of Low Durians still trod the many pathways, heads lowered as they went about their masters’ bidding.

    The occasional High Durian punctuated the throng, their gaudy livery a striking contrast to the mottled greys and browns that all Lows wore. Without even looking up, the slaves were always sure to move out of the way of the tell-tale clopping of hooves – for of course, no High Durian would be caught walking the streets on the same level as their inferiors.

    One Low, an old man with a gnarled leg that made it difficult to move any quicker than a shamble, was not quick enough to get out of the way of a passing noble. He did not even have time to cry out before the hooves of the steed drove him into the ground. The mount’s rider did not even seem to notice the life she had just extinguished.

    One man standing in the street stopped in his tracks as he witnessed the event, his eyes boring into the back of the woman atop the horse as she rode away. His clothing, though the same dull tones as all the Lows around him, seemed to be higher quality, thicker material – but who would notice such a thing? Who even looked at the Lows in the first place?

    He was broken out of his reverie by another man, one whose attire also seemed to be above the average worker’s. “What do you think you’re doing Lee, standing still in the streets? There’s no faster way for the King’s men to pick us out!”

    The one who had been called Lee allowed the other to pull him back into motion, but the smouldering anger did not fade from his dark eyes. His voice was as harsh as his expression when he spoke. “I read that in the Past Ages, the infirm were cared for, not expected to uphold the same level as work as everybody else. I particularly don’t recall them being trampled into the ground for being too slow to get out of the way.”

    His companion, small and wiry where Lee was tall and broad shouldered, gave a loud snort as response. “I don’t believe you read even half the things you say you did. Sickies being allowed time off? Pfah!” He gave another rather undelicate snort, followed by a thick wad of spit hitting the streets.

    “Perhaps one day you’ll see it as I do,” responded the first, obviously used to his companions less-than-graceful mannerisms. “Perhaps if we succeed today. Here we are.” The two had stopped in the shadowy corner of an intersection, their only company those Lows truly too unwell to move, consigned to the short life of a beggar. “Are the men in position?”

    Another snort. “I can do my job. You know they are.”

    Lee did not say anything, but looked into a window a storey above them across the street. The tall, wide window revealed a pale-haired, slender young woman with the obvious poise of a High Durian. The one they had been tracking for so long.

    “Can’t believe we’re risking our necks for a bloody High,” the smaller one muttered. This time, Lee reacted.

    “Signal the men. It’s time –“

    Whatever the man had been about to say was interrupted by a sharp crack ringing through the air, like the clap of a god. Lee’s eyes immediately turned back towards the window; he had heard that noise once before, and would never forget what it heralded. Sure enough, he could see the back of a tall, red-cloaked figure where a moment before there had been empty space.

    “We need to move. Now!” The sharp command brought the smaller one out of his shock at witnessing the impossible, but even as he started signalling Lee was using his long legs to push through the milling, confused mob on the street.

    They might already be too late.

    Inside the house, the quiet calm of whatever Amara had been doing was shattered by the deafening clap. Impossibly, a figure had appeared in the room, one that was terrifying to behold. Its blood red cloak, covered it entirely from head to toe, the only visible contrast the black leather boots and gloves it also wore. But it was what was beneath the hood that truly set it apart.

    A metal mask, carved in a way that hurt the eye to attempt to follow, gave a grotesque representation of a human face in complete agony.

    A kindly Low serving woman in the corner of the room whimpered at the sight. The figure raised a hand, lazily flicked a finger; the woman crumpled to the ground. Then it turned its attention towards the girl, its focus strangely apparent despite the fact its eyes were covered.

    It extended one black-gloved hand towards her. It spoke, and its voice was more chilling even than its appearance: cold, lifeless, and inherently wrong.

    “It is time for you to come.”
    #1 Krimp, Aug 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2015
  2. Red fingers stretched out across the ceiling, growing ever dimmer as the sun set below the city. Amara combed her long hair slowly as thoughts of the day swirled in her head. Such a crazy time. An unbidden smile spread across her lips and she caught Desdemona's eye in the mirror. The Low returned the smile knowingly from her post across the room. Amara didn't gossip with Desdemona like she used to with the Lows her age, but the woman always managed to know everything that went on.

    To think, a marriage proposal for the youngest daughter.

    Amara glanced down, blushing at the idea, but the sound of sudden thunder gripped her bones and threw all thoughts from her head. The fine silver comb fell to the floor at the sight of a figure in the mirror. The girl didn't scream, but her face contorted with a fear so pressing time froze. Desdemona crumpled at the flick of the Faceless Man's finger. For that's what it was, she knew. The dead visage looked down on her with horrifying features, cutting through her.

    She might have screamed then, but it spoke and she turned to face the intruder. The vanity's hard edge pressed uncomfortably into her back and still she tried to take a step away. Her hands stayed where they were on the edge, fingernails leaving marks in the wood while her knuckles threatened to burst from her skin.

    "You stay away!" she screamed at it's outstretched hand. She knew only that she didn't want to go. Amara sidestepped around the room, pressing her back against whatever she could find. Off the vanity and back against the coolness of the wall, to the window with its worn stone ledge. The Faceless Man watched her as she went, its unchanging features ever-patient and willing to wait for her to realize she had no choice in this matter.

    They stared at one another, but her eyes radiated with fear of the unknown and the metal's certainty never faltered. "I will not go," she spoke again, as if the right words would convince him of her choice.
  3. The Faceless One did not answer immediately. It stood for a moment, as unnaturally still as if it was not just the mask that was made of metal, but the body beneath it as well.

    "It is time for you to come," it said once again, its voice made all the more eerie by the fact that the statement could not have been repeated in a more identical way. It took a step towards her position at the window, its hand still extended towards her. And then another, the movement as inevitable and unstoppable as a boulder rolling down a hill. Soon, it would be close enough to touch her. Another step.

    Then, the ceiling exploded.

    The shower of stone, wood and dust filled the room almost immediately, the figure of the Faceless One disappearing amongst the chaos. Raised voices were coming from the roof above - where the roof wasn't now simply a hole opening to the stars - from the street, and from the stairs leading up to the second floor of the house. In the utter chaos, it was impossible to be sure of anything.

    Bradlee made his way rapidly up the stairs, ardently praying that the crew had weakened the right beams, that the section of ceiling that had collapsed had not fallen upon the girl and left an unharmed Faceless One waiting for them upstairs. The last he had seen of the girl, she had been pressed against the window. Terrified no doubt, and understandably. Hopefully she had been safe there.

    Ignoring his smaller companion, who was shouting continuously in his ear about the fact that Royal Guardsman would be turning up soon enough - as if the Guard were more of a worry than a Faceless One - he pressed forwards into the swirling chaos of debris that had recently been a young lady's room. Straining his eyes through the dust, he thought he could see a slender figure where the window ought to be. Thank the Gods, she was alive!

    A moment later he was in front of her, one indistinct figure facing the other. Despite the madness raging around them, Bradlee's voice was slow and calm as he spoke.

    "This is going to be hard for you to do, but if you want to survive the next two minutes, you need to trust me. That thing won't be down for long, and more are coming. If you want to live, you need to take my hand, run, and don't stop." He extended a hand in an unintentional mirror of the Faceless One, but his hand was rough, calloused, and very much human compared to a black glove and empty voice.

    "Can you do it?"
  4. Amara covered her head with her hands and turned away from the burst of debris. Her long hair whipped at her face in the wind rushing past the window. Lows scuttled through the alleyway, not yet aware of the trouble. In slow time, their heads turned upwards, but her body was already twisting back into the room where she was faced with a new man.

    As if the two had simply traded places, the image before her - the man, the offered hand, the words - shifted between the menacing mask and this bold stranger. One and the other and one... His features were intense and yet genuine. Words fell from his mouth one after another in a rhythm she couldn't find. Her gaze flicked to the rubble beyond him and back. So much energy flushed through her, she'd never felt so much at once and was truly frightened.

    Cornered, there lie two choices ahead and staying did not seem to be one of them.

    Her eyes were glued to his, all of her emotions streaming plainly in green. She took his hand. A strong grip closed around her palm and though they were not out of danger, the greatest of her fears slid away. Dust filled the air and coated the back of her throat as they moved through the room. The night already crept upon the enclosed space; she would have stumbled had he not been leading her.
  5. A quick, reassuring squeeze - he was well aware of how terrified the girl must have been - and they were off.

    Halfway down the stairs, they came back across Bradlee's companion. "Baz, we need to get out. Are the men covering our escape route?" Though his voice was raised against the clamour now coming from outside, it retained the same calm, steady tone.

    The wiry man responded with a grimace, not even looking at Amara. "Guard's turned up in more force than expected. Not sure how they got here so bloody quickly, but there are a lot of 'em. Boys up top say all street exits are gone, and they're gonna be knocking at the door before long."

    Bradlee muttered a curse before beginning to move again, pulling Amara with him. Baz fell into step behind them, seemingly well accustomed to his taller friend's pace. "So what are we gonna do then?"

    "We'll have to get out through the Ratways."

    "Lee, we ain't got maps of the bloody Ratways!"

    The taller man's only answer was to increase the pace. Before long, the trio made their way out the back entrance of the house, moving quickly across the large garden. Bradlee released Amara's hand as they stopped at a trapdoor mounted atop a low base of stone, and Baz quickly hoisted it open. Beneath lay the Ratways. Many friendly group of Highs living in close proximity to each other had a Ratway, which consisted of a series of subterranean tunnels linking their vast estates. The idea was that it made the task of sending Lows to each others' estates for one task or another was a much more pleasing task; no more would they have to view the displeasing sight of Lows travelling between each others' properties.

    The sound of steel ringing against steel sounded from just outside the other side of the building. For the first time since taking her out of her ruined room, Bradlee looked at Amara. "We're going to be going in there without knowing where we'll be coming back. If you know anything that will help us..."

    It was a long shot, as High Durian children were strictly forbidden from dirtying themselves with places built for Lows, but more than one mischievous child would sneak through the tunnels to play with their friends.
  6. Amara didn't see her home as they rushed through it. The walls were foreign and menacing, moving in their wake and blocking off the way back. They burst out into the night and she sucked in the fresh air. Hovering above the portal to the Ratways, her world rebuilt itself. She heard the sounds of men fighting in the streets beyond the safety of the garden and saw in the rising moonlight the two men who led her out of the rubble.

    Darkness swirled in the tunnel, but she could see the light of a familiar beacon, the first in a line that went throughout their expansive system. She looked at each man in turn, thinking about all the time spent here in this same spot as a child, trying to decide if anyone watched or would catch her disappearing into the tunnels with unfit friends. If the wrong eyes saw, her mother waited for her when she crawled back out. Today, however, she doubted they would crawl right back out and if they did, she imagined the Faceless Man waiting.

    Amara nodded then, having decided silently, "I know the way." The girl put her hand on the worn wood frame and stepped down into the cool tunnel, heading for the first torch. The tunnels had grown since she last set foot in them, she knew. Another family, maybe two, made friends with the Rohannons in the past decade. She tried walking like she knew where she was going and with each turn, remembered the next steps. The light grew dim and strong in turns as they crept passed each new beacon. The footsteps of the men behind her resounded comfortingly off the walls. The Ratways were never empty.

    Around the next corner there huddled several figures. A woman with two small children. They were Low and recognized instantly that Amara was not. Behind them, there were others, most of which, Amara realized, belonged to her family. Bodies pressed tightly against the wall. Although it was a rarity for a High to be found in the Ratways, especially an adult, this humility was so ingrained in the Lows that they stepped as far out of her way as possible to allow passage.

    "Lady Amara, what are you doing down here?" the first woman finally recognized her and approached with an unprecedented warmness. She cupped her cheek in her hand for just a moment before realizing her mistake and taking it safely back into her ragged smock. She was the mother of a dear friend from Amara's childhood, one who had been sold to another family not long after her last venture in these tunnels. Amara had seen the daughter since, passing above her in the streets while at the market. Her glare burned anew with each encounter; Amara knew she had the right to punish the other for such a look, but had never gone through with it.

    The Lows escaped here when they heard part of the house collapse and the shouts of guards. They feared for their lives, yet went only as far as they dared.

    "We need to get as far from here as we can," Amara answered quietly, not knowing if she deserved her help. The older woman glanced at the men behind her and almost smiled despite her fear, "Anything for you." She was not looking at her lady when she said it. "Come," she said with a gesture, already having turned her back and taking on a new attitude. The line of Lows watched as they passed, staring though they thought they shouldn't. This was a strange sight, indeed.

    The woman led the trio through passages Amara could never have found on her own, eventually taking up two torches from their mounts to illuminate the way which was not already lit. More tunnels had been built than requested. The way grew smaller and somehow more crude. The ground roughed up her feet and she realized she hadn't been wearing shoes. They arrived at a wooden door and Helen handed off the second torch. They would make their own way from here, that much was clear. "We're under the lower markets beneath the wall. Go safely," she said pushing open the door and stepping aside for them to pass. A short way ahead a ladder rose up to the ceiling and just beyond that on the surface stood the eastern wall of the city.
  7. Although his expression remained guarded, Bradlee was surprised that the girl had actually offered to take the lead. Always a practical man, one who sees no need not to utilize readily available resources, he had asked Amara the question simply because if he didn't, there was the slight chance he would lose an advantage. He had never actually expected such a delicate High Durian lady to have actually walked the dark, dirty tunnels of a Ratway.

    His surprise further increased upon witnessing the interaction between her and the elderly Low lady. How must a noble treat her slaves in order to receive such kindness, such generosity? Bradlee's original evaluation of the girl was being rapidly reassessed; so too, it seemed, was Baz reappraising the girl, though the hard look in his eyes when he looked at the girl did not change. One act of kindness was not going to change the man's firmly rooted opinions on the upper caste; that much was obvious.

    As they moved through the group of slaves, Bradlee clapped men and woman on the shoulder, patted the heads of children, spoke reassuring words, but deep down he had little hope for them. Even with the chaos that was raging above, these people were too scared to move any further from their master's domain, and Lows of such a pliant, obedient nature would never instigate the change needed. Baz was doing the same, and the presence of two Lows who actually seemed to know what they were doing reassured the huddled slaves. If that was all they could do, Bradlee thought grimly, that was all they could do. The figures had not moved the last time Bradlee looked back, and then they rounded a corner and the small, sad gathering disappeared from sight.

    Bradlee assisted Amara in ascending the ladder back to street level - always a gentleman, he knew Baz would be muttering - but did not attempt to take her hand again. They had travelled a good deal of distance under the ground, and the noises of fighting had faded. Low Durians moved all around them in and endless tide of bodies; business as usual, then. Only the absence of members of the Guard patrolling suggested that things were not running so smoothly elsewhere.

    "Thank you," he said simply to Amara. "This was a good place to surface. Your assistance has been invaluable to our escape."

    Behind Amara, Baz rolled his eyes. Lee did not deign to respond to the gesture.

    "Follow me," he continued as he began to weave through the river of bodies, heading north. "We have a safe house not too far from here; we should be able to make it there before the Guard return to their positions."

    However, Bradlee was not aware of the way several Lows were looking at Amara. Hatred was thinly veiled behind their dull demeanour, and something dangerous glittered in the eyes of more than one of the slaves. It was a rare - unheard of, even - sight to see a High walking the streets at the level of her inferiors, rather than looking down from a mount.

    Such a rarity provided an opportunity.

    They had been walking for no more than a couple of minutes when several pairs of strong hands grabbed Amara and pulled her back into the throng.
  8. Amara looked down as he thanked her once the trio rose to the surface. She had done nothing and had received an unprecedented kindness. In a moment, they were on their way, the memory of the Ratways fading into the crowd. A nearly full moon rose, pulled across the sky by the falling sun which released only a diffused glow from beyond the hills. On days waxing and waning to the full moon Lows were not harried by the coming darkness. The crowds pushed along quicker than any other time, it seemed, cooled by the night air.

    Amara felt stares needling her flesh. Some of the Lows were simply incredulous at her presence there on their level, while the gaze of others seethed with a loathing fire. She chose instead to watch the backs of her company. The two moved through the crowds like snakes in the open water, swaying to the beat of the collective. A rhythm ushered the crowds along and it seemed Amara simply couldn't carry the tune. She felt rough shoulders and the jabs of dirty elbows and all of a sudden the backs of the two men rushed forward into the sea of bodies without her. No, their steady pace remained. Amara sank into strong arms, yelping at the surprise and feeling an immediate hand over her mouth to stifle it.

    Her bare feet dragged in the dirt and she wriggled in the men's grasps. People opened up for the group to pass, shocked by the scene and being pushed aside by a smaller man who went before them, leading the way. "Move over, will ya! Precious cargo, here," the smaller one said rudely but with a sense of nonchalance that did not echo the panicked way they hurried through. The people simply did not see how such a thing could involve them. Who was she to any onlooker? A High who cursed and spat on them. Though Amara never treated them inhumanely as some, she was only a High. All were equal.

    Amara tried to plant her feet on the ground, but wasn't strong enough to put any real force into the men propelling her forward, half carrying her anyway. The alleyway they chose to go down was choked off by a short fence, which the first man climbed over with ease. One pulled up on Amara, lifting her over before he and the others followed. At this point she wriggled more furiously in his grasp, any way she could contort her body to put stress on him. Quite accidentally, her blonde head pounded into his squat nose. He cried out in unexpected pain and she found enough release to fall out of his capture to the ground.

    Mud squished up between her fingers and her toes when she pushed herself up to start running in the direction of the crowd, milling along blissfully past the mouth of the alley. The man who dropped her held his bloody nose, but another stooped down and caught her foot just as she exploded forward. The joint popped in and out in a moment, leaving a sharp pain in her hip which would soon fade.

    Two men took better care to render her incapable of any movement of her own. They pulled her along between them, arms twisting as they went around wall and corner.

    "Take me to my father. It would do you well to return me, please. I can't give you anything like this," she said breathlessly. If she could reach her father, he would protect her. From the Faceless Men, from the guard and from these grunts. She realized then how truly useless she was. Any luxury she had was due to her father's name and she could not even defend herself.

    The man leading laughed and forged on ahead. The two on her may as well not have heard at all. The group scuttled through empty alleys and the darkness under the buildings.
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