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  1. #161
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    "How in the black night did I get stuck with researching duty?" Adam grumbled to himself as he tossed another useless book about lost treasure theory aside. He would never have guessed how many books were written that just spewed baseless theory and unconnected thoughts across five-hundred plus pages.

    He was always tutored with practical books in his youth. Etiquette, Law, Horsemanship, Survival, his books were full of things that a warrior and King would actually need to know to rule his people well. "Ill-used knowledge is wasted knowledge" as his father would always say. If he didn't plan on becoming a Scholar at the University what use would he have for the Hypothetical Theory of Artificer Study? His eyes hurt as he stared at the still dreadfully tall stack of books on the table besides him. How anyone could enjoy doing this all day was lost on the one-eyed man.

    Inside the library there's no real way to tell the passing of time. The windows were all in the front of the large building so once you got away from their halo of light it was all orange flame candles and weird magic orbs that changed color at random along the red light spectrum. Could've anywhere from a half-hour to several hours since Adam and his fellow researchers walked into this dreary place to chase ghost stories and faery tales. His tutors would've kicked his ass had they caught him wasting his time with lost treasure like the Tears of the Ice Queen.

    Rubbing his scruffy bearded face he leaned back in his chair, his newly golden eye burned in the presence of magic he now learned, and the fact the Great Library was built of magic sure wasn't helping his focus. He needed some air, getting up he picked his coat up off the chair and began walking, but as he moved the coat something fell out of his pocket. It landed with a soft thud sending up dust motes as it impacted the heavily worn rug. Turning and looking down he remembered the small red book Vel had given him not too long ago. She showed him a passage talking about Tears before she wandered off to do some more research. He had honestly not been paying attention since he couldn't read her note very well in the dark of the library. Picking it up and flipping to the marked pages he scanned it quickly. It talked about an expedition undertaken by an ancient member of the Mountain Father Religion. An Archbishop Ramiel or something as he recalled, as he read the notes over a second time lightning struck his brain. Putting the red book back in his pocket he jumped back towards his pile of unread books tossing them aside frantically as he searched for something.

    When the Senior Scribe had been gathering the books he dropped an old leather bound book that looked to be a journal of some kind on the front was a name that started with R it was placed on the table and forgotten about by both Adam and the Scribe. Half a minute later of searching and Adam found the journal. Opening it he followed Vel's notes and found the answer he was looking for. "In the South four Tears have found their final cradles. One found in unification, one in division, one in forgiveness, and the last in submission. Aside from the direction of South which obviously meant around the Dominion the rest was gibberish to the warrior, but it gave them a direction at least. Grabbing the journal and the little red book Vel found Adam moved quickly from the library looking to spread the good news.
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  2. #162
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    Selene slipped away into the shadows as soon as the cat stalked off. There was a certain air around her master that made her...frankly, the young lycan wasn’t quite sure. The feeling wasn’t guilt per say but a feeling of despair and disappointment in herself. If she hadn’t been injured, if she had reacted just a bit sooner, if she had been allowed to stay by his side, the whole incident with the cat could have been avoided. Tristifer had held the whip and every slash made Selene internally flinch but her eyes showed no emotion. She had no pity for those who broke the rules - and were dumb enough to get caught. It was the rules of the bandits - anything goes so long as you aren’t caught. And if you are caught, you bear the punishments. The countless bruises and scars that adorned her body were a direct reminder.

    Her eyes watched Tristifer spin on his heels and head away, not bothering to look in her direction. From the set of his jaw, she guessed he wanted to be left alone. Watching him go, she sighed before looking around the courtyard. The other rogues didn’t seem to notice her, the vampire stalking off after the cat and the giant distracted. Slowly, she moved away towards the archway leading towards town, slipping out into the streets, holding her breath and releasing it only when the last of the rogues was out of sight. Regardless of what Tristifer said, she was a prisoner or a captive or a slave and not too certain how the rest of the group would react to her wandering off to see the city. And see the city she wanted to indeed. Yesterday had been mind boggling and while she followed the archer, she wasn’t able to fully take in all the sights and smells of the market.

    The thought was indeed alluring but seeing the man turn back to his room from the corner of her eye, the girl sighed and turned to trail after him. She didn’t bother to look around, relying more so on her other senses as she paused at the entrance to the building, rolling on the balls of her feet. With a sigh, she forced herself to keep moving away from the open air, her footsteps soundless on the wooden floors. As she approached the door, she slid to a halt, narrowing avoiding a forehead collision when it swung open and her master stood there. Handing her a note and instructions, he just as quickly slammed it shut, the dust that rose making her sneeze a few times violently before turning on her heels and trotting away.

    The library was a wee way from the tavern and, following more the scent left by the company that she had gotten used to than by any other means, Selene slowly started along, making sure that she didn’t attract any attention to herself from those around, gently covering her arm to avoid it being accidentally jarred or hit against something. The road took her through less busy streets and, through some of the alleys, she caught sight of shops displaying colourful ribbons and fabrics, various spices and some trinkets she couldn’t quite identify. Deciding to take the long route back to where Tris had told her to meet him, the young lycan trotted on towards the building that people did research at - whatever that was. Stopping before an old building with slim, shaded windows and a variety of scholarly folk walking in and out, she tried to catch her breathe, thinking at the same time. The library with all the books and scrolls intimidated her - frankly, she felt goosebumps on her skin. For a second, she debated asking someone else to pass it on to the one-eyed man but with a small growl, forced herself to move. Her master specifically asked her to deliver the note to the recipient and she wasn’t about to make him angry.

    As she reached for the door, it swung open with huge force. Only her wild reflexes saved her nose from a direct impact as the man she was looking for strode out of the library. Letting out a sigh of immense relief, Selene grabbed him by the sleeve with her hand, getting his attention and quickly slipped him the note. Not bothering to wait for further instructions, she trotted off, leaving the rogue to deal with whatever was inside. Giving into her temptation, she ended up turning towards the market place, slowing down to thread aimlessly among the different stands, observing what the vendors had for sale. At one, she saw jewels of various dancing colours, some shining blue and others red, some violet and a couple tine stones of a plain milty white. Beside that stall, an old woman sold dried flowers and herbs, a white teardrop flower layed out with blue and violet weeds, all dried in the sun and - from the thick accent of the vendor - possessing special qualities from luck to lust to healing properties of sorts.

    Moving on, Selene’s eyes took in vendors selling shoes and dresses, men’s tunics and exotic blades - curved in various shapes and with hilts encrusted in runes or letters of some kind. In a particular section of the market, sellers yelled offering all sorts of food for sale from fresh fish to meat, cheese, milk, bread and spices. Certain farmers sold vegetables and grain on the side, more expensive and exotic merchants offering fine furs or other components of animals. Further along, she saw a woman dressed in colourful clothes sitting at the entrance to a small tent, a crystal ball in front of her. Taking one look at Selene, the woman hissed in some unknown tongue, spitting on the ground and making a sign against evil. Not wanting to make a scene but with her heart racing, the young lycan hurried along, trying to keep her eyes to the ground. Somehow, the old foreigner knew her secret just by looking at her - perhaps, others could too?

    The encounter spoiled her desire to be around people, every look now seeming too interested, every yell a combination of curse about wolves, every accidental touch - an attempt to capture one of her kind. Slipping into one of the more secluded and shadowed streets, Selene took a deep breathe, trying to steady herself. She should be focusing on finding her master - after all, judging by the sunlight, she had spent a good hour or so just taking in the sights of the busiest part of town. Patience has never been the old bandit’s virtue and there was no reason to assume it would be her new master’s for all that the archer did seem to possess more patience and composure than anyone she had known previously. Patience, composure and no fear.

    Sighing, she tried to catch the scent of the man in the wind, allowing the wolf nature to become more apparent, feeling the itching of her canine’s as they grew a tad longer and knowing that her irises took on an animal form. Scrunching up her nose as an array of less than pleasant smells hit her all at once and trying to focus on the one she needed, the young woman slowly started towards the docks. A few wrong turns and dead ends later, she found herself approaching a rather old looking building, well kept for the most part, a faded sign attached by the door. Pulling up her hood, Selene continued on, glancing around her at scandalously dressed women and drunk men, ready to grope them. A couple times, she slid out of the way of an uncoordinated grab, her lips lifting in a silent growl. Of all the places for her new master to be….this seemed the most logical one.

    It wasn’t that she didn’t expect it - she should have. The old bandit often ended up in such establishments whenever he had money, dragging his dog along to laugh and display. Half the time, it was a simple ploy to get them both into town and once he departed upstairs, Selene would go to dispose of whatever man he desired to kill next. Over the years, the lycan started to hate the smell of cheap perfume, beer and piss that came from such places. Trying not to think too much, she pulled the door, slipping inside and letting her eyes adjust to the light. Taking a few deep breaths, she tried to push the wolf back down within her though it was harder than it looked. Growling in her throat, she slunk further into the shadows, deciding to look around for Tristifer and hopefully get out of here.

  3. #163
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    Unlike his trip to the orphanage Tristifer was fairly obvious about where he was going. Tristifer pulled up the door to the building and stepped into the foyer. Once an opulent inn, that roomed visiting nobles, it was now a brothel that catered to those same nobles, and the children they sent to the university. The hostess’ smile widened as she recognized the rogue. Tris offered her a sad smile and a shake of his head. “Sorry luv, still working. I do need to speak to her though.”

    The hostess motioned one of a small group of boys over. The runners briefly (and somehow politely) fought to be the one at the podium. The hostess leaned down and motioned towards Tris. “Take him to see Mama.”

    With a nod the boy started a few steps, before stopping looking impatiently at the archer. Tris quirked an eyebrow and shrugged at the hostess before following the boy. They moved down a hall and through a quiet dimly lit restaurant, and through a door into a well lit common room. Tristifer studied the renovated ballroom, noting the excellent craftsmanship for the added levels. His eyes swept the open tables and the curtained booths. He stopped just inside the door and tilted his head listening to the girl singing on the stage.

    The runner impatiently coughed, and bright Tristifer’s attention to him with a frown. “Everytime you rush me boy, the coin I’m going to give you gets smaller.”

    The boy's eyes widened briefly, before Tris waved him onward. The pair moved through the common room toward a raised booth in the far corner near the stage. As the moved Tris smiled greetings at the girls he recognized and offered apologetic nods for the gentleman accompanying them. The boy slowed as they grew nearer to their destination. Tris sighed, dropped a penny into the lad’s hands and sent him back to the lobby.

    Tristifer approached the booth, his eyes sliding past the thugs standing toward the bottom of the stairs. The archer had eyes only for the woman sitting at the table. It was hard to judge her age, grey hairs and all. She wore a warm smile that was at once friendly and caring. And though she owned the establishment, she dressed in sensible comfortable clothing. It was easy to see why everyone called her Mama, after all that’s what she reminded you of.

    As he neared one of the thugs moved to stop him, a warm voice drifted down. “Don’t bother. You won’t find them all.” Mama laughed softly and motioned Tris to join her at her table.

    Tristifer returned the smile and joined her at the table. He’s eyes again scanned the common room and realized he could see everything. Even those curtained booths had carefully placed mirrors to ensure Mama wasn’t losing any business behind them. “It’s always a pleasure to see you Mama.”

    “And you Tristifer.” Mama was the only one Tris knew who insisted on always using his full name. “I’m surprised none of my girls are with you.” She commented off handedly.

    “Sadly I’m working.” Tris replied with a shrug. He’s had to dance this dance a time or two before. There are individual’s like Mama everywhere Tris has ever been. Individuals who have a finger in most everything, and so are generally not to be trifled with. “That’s actually why I’m here Mama I’d li-”

    “You’d like to pump my girls for information without the pumping hmm?” She asked with a laugh. Tris tried to smile disarmingly, as Mama continued. “What are you asking about?”

    Tris shrugged. “The usual, any other mercenaries in the area, rumors about contracts and possible jobs, information on magic users in the Ice Court, Bounties posted, Caravans roaming around….”

    Mama nodded, as Tris listed off subjects. He noticed her brief pause as he mentioned the Ice Court. WHen he trailed off she motioned towards a curtained booth. “As long as your drinking you can use that booth. I’ll loan you a runner to ask after your friends.”

    “Thank you Mama.” Tristifer said with a pleasant smile and stood. “Shall I say good night before I leave?”

    The pleasant looking woman shook her head and waved him away. And Tris made his way to the curtained booth. Tris gave a name to the runner, ordered a large glass of ale and pulled the curtains closed.

    Selene watched the hustle of the room for a few minutes longer before slipping around the shadows, making sure to stay out of sight. Her eyes observed the different entrances and exits, watching various groups of people walk into doors of rooms or head down corridors, talking among themselves, the woman batting eyelashes. A few young boys - messengers or the sort - scurried around with purpose, usually bringing some sort of rich looking patron to their desired destination. Waiting until the hallway she felt was the right one cleared, she slipped into it, her eyes taking in the surroundings but not having much time to linger on the details.

    Old paintings in ancient battered frames, some needing a good dusting. Fancy rugs worn from age and use. Delicate pieces of china or other trinkets, standing on well-made wooden side tables. Full bouquets of flowers adorning vases and giving the pathway a mix of fragrances. Growling in annoyance as they made her nose itch, she trotted on silently, stopping when the corridor hit a crossroad. Taking a moment, she turned right and within a few paces, the corridor opened up to a small room with various booths, curtains drawn to reveal the empty ones. In the far corner, a single booth was drawn closed. Smiling so that her fangs were exposed, Selene quietly approached, pausing for a second before slipping behind the curtain.

    Her eyes met with Tristifer’s and she looked away, drawing her eyes down to the floor. Smoothing out her breathing, she tried to force the wolf down once more, praying for more luck. Her teeth itched but when her tongue touched the fangs, she nearly pierced it. Wincing, she pulled the cloak further down to hide her eyes, grasping her hands behind her back. “I am sorry I am a late master.”

    Tristifer quirked an eyebrow. He motioned to the bench opposite the one he sat on. “That’s not my name pup.”

    “Master….Tristifer,” she managed quietly, sliding onto the soft material. “I got...distracted on the way back.”

    Tristifer sighed as she once again called him Master. “That wasn’t what I meant. And by what?”

    “I went through the marketplace,” Selene sighed, giving up on hiding her fangs and eyes, instead looking up through her eyelashes. “I got curious ever since we walked there last night. I am sorry.” She hoped he would understand - an apology for this morning, for the whiplashes he delivered, for her actions to put him in that situation.

    Tristifer asked “Did you buy anything?” As he peeked beyond the curtain. His eyes scanned for the first girl.

    “I wasn’t sure you would approve of stealing,” it was the first resemblance of a joke to pass her lips and Selene winced inwardly, prepared to be scolded for it. The truth was, she had no money and even then, she wasn’t sure her new master would approve of her buying useless trinkets she found captivating.

    “Only if you get caught.” Tristifer said off handedly. Turning from the curtain he motioned for the girl to slide further in. Moment’s later a woman stepped through the curtain. Tris motioned her to sit next to the pup. “Sorry for the public visit Marie.”

    The girl smiled and shrugged, studying Selene briefly. “You’ll just have to make it up to me hun.”

    Tristifer smiled, “Count on it.” He said before beginning to ask a number of vague questions. Most of them were about the weather, some were about missing pets. The questions then drifted into more serious subjects like rumored contracts. Finally Tris asked her about the Ice Court. Marie stiffened at the directness, and shared what little information she had.

    As she left Tris, sent the runner for the next girl. “So, you’re looking a bit wild there pup.”

    “It’s not intentional master….Tristifer. It was the easiest way to find you,” Selene relaxed a bit when the girl left. The perfume, although probably appeasing to most men, was too strong for her senses now and the way the girl acted made Selene almost want to puke. Regardless, she remained motionless, keeping her eyes anywhere away from the woman named Marie. Taking the slight break when she was alone with the man, she got more comfortable, taking on a position where she could easily watch the edge of the curtains that currently acted as a barrier. In the background, she could hear two pairs of footsteps approaching. “Why do you come to such a place?”

    “Weren’t you paying attention?” Tristifer asked. He turned his full attention to the girl sipping his ale while waiting for her reply.

    “She was nervous when you asked about the snow,” Selene shrugged, remembering the change in breathing and the scent of fear that erupted from the woman once Tristifer mentioned the Ice Court.

    “Ice court, Not Snow.” Tristifer corrected. “I haven’t really needed information about them before, so have to be direct.” Tris shook his head, “Direct isn’t healthy, thus the fear. So did that answer your question?”

    “Why not? The cat is pretty direct about her hate towards me,” the words slipped out before Selene could stop herself. Looking up at him with frightened eyes, she looked away. “I didn’t mean it.” She was spared from further conversation as the curtains opened revealing another woman smiling at Tris.

    Tristifer smiled at the newcomer. “Hello Rose.” He offered. Repeating the process he did with Marie. The section about the weather continued longer than the previous conversation. Rose barely paused when Tristifer was direct about the Ice Court, and soon the conversation ended. Rose left and Tristifer sent the boy to the bar before he sent the runner after another girl.

    Turning back to the pup Tristifer raised his eyebrow. “So wanna explain what that was all about?”

    “She likes the weather,” Selene offered.

    Tris frowned. “You know what I meant pup.” Tris took the drinks from the server and set one before the girl. “So, what was that all about?”

    “It’s the truth,” the wolf bit her lip, forgetting about her state and drawing blood. The metallic taste tinged her tongue and she growled, annoyed at herself for forgetting. “She won’t let it go...and I won’t hold back next time.

    “Stand up for yourself if you have to.” Tris said with a shrug, “But don’t stir things up unless you want what she received.”

    Tris took another pull from his drink. “And I promise you, that it will be worse for you.” He said it matter of factly, His casual smile returned after a moment. “So, do you want to continue to talk about Mynx, or would you like to see if I’ve answered your question.”

    “As you wish,” Selene looked down, scholded. What she spoke was the truth - her truth. She would not stand down to a cat again. And yet, if she fought, she would break the man’s good graces and then, who knew what he would do to her? It’s not like she would be in a position to fight back. Where would she go after that?

    Tris slammed his hand down flat on the table. The noise shook the table and startled people outside the curtain. “What did I say?”

    “I want to know the answer,” she responded.

    “I come here because places like this know everything.” Tristifer’s eyes narrowed at the girl. “Every secret passes through buildings like this. And I come here to learn what I can about those secrets that matter to me. My turn for a question. Why don’t you listen to what I say?”

    “I am never sure what it is you want me to hear,” Selene met his eyes with a bit of defiance. “You are my master and when you need me to pay attention, you will tell me. All else I observe is of no use for you until you ask.”

    Tristifer sighed. “No. I’m not your ‘Master” Sarcasm dripped from his lips as he said the word. “If anything I’m your warden. Most importantly, I’m no gentrified blue blood whose every word has a double meaning.”

    “What I say is exactly what I mean.”

    “What’s a...warden?” Selene tasted the word on her lips, confused as to its meaning. She had heard it before but never cared to learn the content. No one bothered to explain it to her either.

    “A warden is someone who is responsible for supervising someone or something. I’m responsible for watching you. That’s it. I don’t own you. You are responsible for yourself. That means show some fucking spine.”

    “You want me to take my shirt off?” Selene raised an eyebrow, still not fully sure what he meant. To her, it sounded the same as a master but if he so desired to be called, who was she to oppose him. Her eyes did sparkle with a hidden, wild amusement at her words.

    “I want you to stand up for yourself. To take care of yourself.” Tristifer said with a shrug as he motioned her to quiet down. “Afternoon Selene, glad you could join us.” Tristifer said to the girl who joined them. Starting the next batch of questions.
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  4. #164
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    “Excuse me Miss, can you help me find the folklore section?” Yn asked, drawing the attention of the scribe at the desk. He could see the mild disdain on her face, taking in his rather large frame and covering of hair under his vest. She thankfully didn’t respond other than to nod and motion for the two of them to follow her. She motioned them to follow and headed into the library itself, the rows of books and scrolls feeling rather cramped for Yn. He was thankful that Faur hadn’t asked to come with him to this place. The poor guy would have been left bored out of his fur outside there. He couldn’t even imagine being in this place if not for research.

    “So, what are we looking for here?” Jezibel asked while reading over the spines, trying to discern what information they could gather here. She could recognise some of them when she had taken the time to actually read stuff, as she preferred gathering information from people rather than words. Yn nodded and began riffling through the shelves as well, fingers trailing along the spines searching for a title that would fit. Few fit the phrase he was looking for before pulling them out, either handing them to Jezibel to hold onto, or putting it down on the nearby table.

    “We’re looking for anything mentioning creatures of the night, hairless and able to walk on two feet. Not sure what name they might be using, so anything matching that description should work.” Yn spoke as the two of them sat down, picking up the first book on local folktales and fairytales. Jezibel looked at him with a raised eyebrow before shrugging her shoulders and starting on reading. Silence stretched between them as they flipped through the pages, the crinkle of the paper being the only break in between them.

    Yn had to resist groaning as he flipped through the pages, looking for any titles or words that might pull his interest on the pictures. Yn could finally make sense of why he hadn’t been relegated to working in here and working the land. Jezibel seemed a bit more relaxed about the work here, but even he could see the boredom in his eyes. Her bored eyes flicked over the pages as she flipped through them, and Yn followed suit, occasionally making a note on anything that seemed to work well with what he was hoping to find. Occasionally the scribe came to check on them, though probably was more worried about the conditions of her books more than anything else.

    After what seemed like a few hours for the two of them had a much smaller stack of books, 5 in total with different stories that centered around similar ideas. Yn smiled at the small accomplishment as he pulled the books to the center, arranging them so that each story could at least be read. Wordlessly, he moved his fingers over them, comparing and judging them together before finally nodding and motioning to two of them for Jezi.

    “The beasts of night, and the Man beasts? Yeah, a decent portion of the tribe childs learn about these. Beasts that walk on two legs that travel the night to snap up children who are caught out late. What about it?” Jezibel asked, feeling even more that this had been a waste of time.

    “My people have a similar story, but we call them the Sovereign. Unlike these stories, they are real.” Yn spoke, flipping the pages until he could motion to the pictures. The pages were decorated with images of wild boars, pigs or other beasts, walking upright and bearing humanoid features.

    “They dwell in deep caves, as their bare skin offers no comfort. They hunt at night, stealing young children and animals to feed themselves, and offer a warning to young Dushakin, a very grave one.” Yn spoke in humble tones. Jezibel could feel the weight of his words as she looked at the young man, who was slowly looking older than his age could be.

    “The young of the Dushakin undergo a ritual to be bonded mind and soul with our other half, like Faur and I. The sovereign make a mockery of this, by consuming the beast both heart and soul, stealing their life and powers. While this does offer amazing strength and all the prowess of the beasts, yet lost their minds to the voices of the lost. No one really knows their homes, but … this is honestly the first time I have heard of another creature nearby. By all rights, I should hunt them down and relieve those animals that have been bound to those greedy human souls.” Yn spoke, anger rising in his voice as he stared at the images, a dark cloud hanging over him. Jezi looked him over, before letting out a sigh and placing a hand over the image, covering it up.

    “That’s not our mission right now, and you know it. We’ll alert the city guards and let them know what’s going on here. If there is time when we get the current job done, then we can come back.” Jezi spoke, watching the tense form of Yn finally slump inwards, knowing just how much it must hurt to have to let someone else deal with a problem. Especially one that cut so close to the soul.

    “Yeah… yeah. Lets head back to the rooms for now, and we can move on from there.” Yn said with a defeated air, looking at the pictures one last time before closing the book. They had more pressing things to take care of, and right now this was not their job. Though he wouldn’t forget this. He would be back to deal with this, after all his other tasks first.


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  5. #165
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    “Sir Balder, may I speak with you a moment.” Jarguff called out to the Giant, having to struggle some just to keep up with the pace of the Giant and the Minotaur as they headed out. He had been privy to the events of Mynx, and the distribution there of for tasks. While he hadn’t stayed around long for it, he had been keen to talk with Balder about joining, though his short stature and the others' longer strides, he had fallen behind. One would think chasing a Giant would be easy work, but one would be wrong. It wasn’t so much that one couldn’t keep them in sight. No, it was the ability of the Giant to easily outpace anyone that they wanted, and just disappear over the horizon easily.

    “I have heard of your travels across the land, and I know of your ties to Dagur of the Rogue’s Gallery. I would have made the trip to the main guild, but fortune smiles that I found you much closer.” Jarguff spoke up to the Giant, placing his hands on his hips just to lean back and look Balder in the eyes.

    Balder had let Shel off at the entrance to the town. He knew the Orc woman was never one to mill around a tavern with what equates to a couple of old men catching up on the glory days. Once he heard the gruff voice behind him he stopped and looked down...and down...and down. At the bearded face of the Dwarf who had accompanied Faur and Ashvel the night before, he smiled down at the stout warrior. “Ah Master Dwarf, I did not see you back there. Please accept my apologies.” Kneeling down Balder nodded to the Dwarf. “How can I help you?”

    “It is fine Sir Balder. I take no offence.” Jarguff brushed off the giants concerns, knowing that their difference in height would make it a bit hard for him to be seen. Allowing Balder to kneel down, Jarguff gave him a broad smile and crossed his arms.

    “I wish to join the Rogue’s Gallery. I am searching for a place to make my own name, and having a famous guild to tie my name with would be a great boone. I offer my services as a Blazemane smithie and warrior.” Jarguff got right to the point, knowing it was better to be honest than beat around the bush for what he was after. His family had made that a point, never dig around the vein, less you waste your pick.

    Balder laughed gently rubbing his chin in thought. He’s been to Ebonrock a few times and the name Blazemane is quite well spoken off in the Southern Firestone Hold. The group doesn’t have a dedicated Blacksmith now that he thinks of it. Himself and Adam can manage small repairs on the road, but neither of them have the skill or tools needed to make more weapons or armor. “Well we could always use the skills of a Smith in the Gallery, do you have all the tools needed? Also is it just Smithing or can you do Enchanting and Rune Crafting?”

    “Ah yes. I do have the tools on hand for mostly basic and some advanced smithing tricks and trades, but nothing overly elaborate without more materials.” Jarguff began, giving a puff of his chest in pride. It was clear that Balder knew of his family, and already asking for his skills meant that his family name carried well.

    “As for your other questions, I do have training in enchanting and rune crafting, but those do tend to take more time and work to get them right. I can work with the smithing for no fee in, but enchanting and runing will require a cost for materials.” Jarguff spoke bluntly, knowing that once his talents were known, others would be asking for his works. While his blacksmithing was low end enough cost that he wasn’t worried about doing those for free.

    Balder listened to the Dwarf’s words and nodded approvingly. “Understandable, and it sounds quite impressive. Please come with me Master Dwarf, I am meeting a friend we can keep talking.” Standing back up he began moving at a smaller gait back towards the Studious Stag.

    “Of course, it’ll be best to talk in a more relaxed situation.” Jarguff spoke, picking up the pace to keep stride with Balder. While the giant had slowed his gait to make it easier on him, Jarguff still had to keep up a steady pace with the man. Gratefully the trip wouldn’t be too long.


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  6. #166
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    There was no way that Ashvel would be able to stop his forward motion into the cell. The light was coming closer and closer and when he finally hit the ground the indirect light from the sun began burning his tender flesh. He refused to scream as his skin burned , but he quickly placed his arms on the floor and pushed off the floor with his legs with all his strength to quickly get himself out of the sun. He turned his body so that when he struck the wall he would hit his back instead of his front. Slamming into the wall the air was knocked out of him and the dust from the cell fell from the brick.

    As he was scrunching ino the corner he could feel that his skin was heavily burned and had turned black from where the light touched it. If it happened to have had direct sunlight he knew that he would have been killed. Unlike his longer lived brothers he has yet to get a resistance to direct sunlight. He would become ahs in a matter of minutes. Ashvel kept form showing any weakness in front of his tormenter as he knew it would more than likely give him a sense of satisfaction.

    The guard was satisfied either way from the results. He would have preferred for the Vampire to have screamed in pain as he was burned, butto know that he was in pain was enough. At least for now. He will make him suffer even more before he makes sure he was killed. He wouldn’t let this creature go even if it cost him his life in the process. His friend would be avenged.

    “Don’t worry little Vampire. You will not live to regret your actions. I will see you burn for what you did.” He said spittin on the floor as he looked over to the other prisoner. “You both might as well kill each other. Because your fates have already been sealed.” The guard said as he turned his back to the two prisoners. Walking away from the cell he turned to the man that would be guarding them. “Make sure that if they go to kill one another you kill the survivor.” The gusad said as he looked at the man. “Even if he comes and tells you differently. These things don't deserve to have a fair trial. They all deserve to die.” The guard said as he left the prison

    As soon as the man left Ashvel began looking over the burns that he received and let a small hiss of pain as he was moving his arms to examine them. Even though he knew that the burns were bad he was looking them over out of habit more than anything. Yet his examination was short lived when he heard the shuffling of the other prisoner standing up. Ashvel tensed as he knew that he was at a disadvantage at the moment. If the Lycan wanted to kill him it would be as easy as could be.

    Ashvel tensed as the young lycan stopped in front of him with a neutral look on his face. The Lycan reached down and grabbed Ashvel by the collar of his undershirt and lifted him up off the ground and threw him onto the other side of the cell where the shadows were more prevalent. Granted Ashvel struck the wall hard for a second time. This time he couldnt stop from yelping from the impact. The Lycan didn’t go easy on him, but at the same time he lessened the time the Vampire was exposed to the sun for a second time.

    Coughing a couple of times Ashvel looked up and saw that the Lycan was approaching him once more. He was ready for the Lycan to attack him and drag him into the sunlight. Yet that was not what happened the young Lycan stopped in front of Ashvel and looked down at him with emotionless eyes. He bent down and reached out to grab Ashvels arm, grabbing a hold of it he gently looked over the charred flesh.

    “You need blood.” The young lycan said as he set the arm down gently. He began to take off his shirt to offer his blood to the Vampire. Yet Ashvel as quickly as he could reached out to stop the Lycan from taking off his shirt.

    “Don’t worry about it. I will be fine.”

    “Can’t heal without blood.”

    “I will be fine. I am not that weak to let this bother me. Besides I am not ever going to drink blood from any race. I refuse to do that again.”

    "Why?"

    Ashvel looked at the young man curiously as he asked why he refused to drink blood. Never has he been asked why he refused to be a normal vampire. It was hard to explain why he didn't drink blood anymore. It has to do with his past and that is one thing he wanted to forget.

    "I have my reasons."

    "You are strange."

    "I guess I am. Thanks for your help. But why did you help? Our kind is not known for getting along. So, why?"

    "Both innocent. No need to fight."

    Ashvel didn’t understand what he was talking about. If he was innocent too then was this all a ruse to get rid of any cursed races that happened to get into the city? If that was the cause then Vell would be next. Yet for some reason Ashvel didn’t believe that this was a coincidence. There was no such thing in this world. At least that was his belief. However, right now might not be the best time to begin asking this Lycan. Things could change in a heartbeat, and he just might attack him. This Lycan was different from most of his kind. He seemed more docile despite their aggressive nature.

    “Don’t think too much.” The lycan said as he moved away from Ashvel and took a seat at the edge of the shadows. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall. He acted like he was tired, but for some reason Ashvel didn’t believe that was the case.

    A Lycan was more than capable of breaking out of this prison. So, why did he stay? Could he be like Ashvel? Or was there a more medical reason. Just like Vampires Lycans have weaknesses. Could they have Poisoned the young Lycan? There were too many variables, and he had no way of confirming any of them. Right at the moment he needed to worry about what these people had in mind for him.

    In a separate building not far from the prison the councilman that had stopped the guard from trying to kill Ashvel sat at his desk. He was busy with the daily affairs that ocupai most of his time yet after about an hour of working on his paperwork a knock came to his door. The councilman set his paperwork down and looked at the door for a moment.

    A heavy sight left his lips as he opened the drawer that held the pin that he removed from the Vampire that was accused of killing one of the guards last night. Yet he knew the truth of the matter. He knew the Vampire and Lycan were both innocent. However, they both had angered one man, and that is all it took to get them falsely accused of a crime in order for them to be pinned down. All he could do was shake his head and hope that who was knocking at his door was not him.

    “Enter.” The councilman said as he held the pin in his clenched hand.

    When the door opened an older man entered the room. He was tall and had greying short hair. He walked with a limp, and wore black pants, with a mustard yellow shirt, and a long black jacket that was tattered at the edges. He entered the room closing the door behind him as he limped towards the desk and took a seat in the chair that was sitting in front of the desk.

    “Well looks like you are doing well. I received your letter about the Lycan I was wanting to recruit.”

    “Yes. We have him imprisoned at the moment. As per your request.”

    The councilman was uncomfortable at the moment. He really didn't like doing this, but he had no choice. This man knew of his past, and if he didn’t do as he was told then everyone would know what he had done. He tightened his fist around the pin as he knew what fate would become of the traitor that had been caught.

    “What is wrong? You seem a little reluctant to tell me something. Are you wanting out of your debt? If that is the case there is no way I am going to allow that. So, you better shape up or else.”

    The older man threatened the councilman as he knew the man didn’t want it known to the world that he was not as innocent or virtuous as the masses think he is. His hands were covered in the blood of the innocent. The counselman knew when he had been beat and lifted his hand and dropped the contents onto the table. The pin bounced around a little and finally laid to rest with the insignia facing the old man.

    “Your little traitor was in the city, and is now in the prison as well.” He said bitterly as he retreated his arm back to his side. A wide grin formed on the older man's face as he picked up the pin and examined it. Though he already knew he was in the city thanks to the young lady he sent to find and keep an eye on Ashvel. Also his second in command knew he was in the area. They had been trying to get him to return to the pack, but he had bucked them this whole time.

    “Well maybe I should have a little talk with him first.”

    “If that is what you want I can arrange it.”

    “I think that would be a good idea.”

  7. #167
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    The councilman got up from his chair and moved to the side of his guest. Stopping there he looked down at the man. He knew good and well what this man was capable of, and that made him on edge even more.

    "I will make the arrangements. I will be right back." The councilman said as he left the room to get a hold of one of the guards.

    As the older man sat in the chair he fiddled with the pin that was presented to him. He had been trying to get Ashvel to return home, but he had failed in every attempt. Now he would be able to have a direct conversation with the traitor.

    It didn't take the councilman long to finish his teams and return to the room where his guest was sitting. The arrangements had been made and Ashvel was being moved to a different part of the prison.

    "It will take some time but everything is set up." He said passing the old man and sitting down in his chair. "I am curious where your right-hand man is?"

    "That is simple. He is running an errand for me, and will be arriving here soon." The older man said with a smile. .

    Tristifer had ended his trip to the brothel sooner than he had intended. After a certain bit of news was shared he immediately sent Selene to grab Balder and Adam to gather the rest of the Rogues. The archer himself had made a beeline for the city hall, Armed with only what he was wearing, it was unlikely he’d break the vampire out. So political pressure was the direction Tris leaned.

    The Rogue charmed his way deep into the building, fast talking his way past the councilman’s assistant, Tris opened the door and stepped through. Pushing it closed behind him he gave his most winning smile to the men occupying the room. “I’m not interrupting am I?”

    Both of the men looked at the new arrival as he entered the room and asked if he was interrupting them. A low chuckle left the older man's mouth as he shook his head. The councilman cleared his throat as he stood up and smiled at the man.

    “No, you are not interrupting anything.”

    The man said as he moved from his chair and began to walk to the archer that entered the room. Though he did wonder how this man was able to get past the guards as well as his assistant. He must be a smooth talker to be able to get this far. Well at least he had to give him credit for that. Though why work so hard to get this far?

    “So, what brings you here this afternoon?”
    Tristifer studied both individuals. His eyes taking in every detail he could see about both. His smile widening at the denial of interruption. He reached out and clapped the councilman on his shoulder, slipping past him to slide into an empty chair. “Well there appears to have been a mistake made recently. And I think you’re the man who's capable of fixing it. Are you capable of doing so?”

    The councilman tensed slightly at the informality of the man that was now in his room. He seemed too relaxed to be someone that wanted to do business with him. Yet the man sat in the empty chair in the room, and he in turn returned to his chair. After vaguely making his intentions know it only made things worse.

    The older man watched as the archer made his way deeper into the room and noted that he was more heavily armed than the councilman knew. Though there was little reason to bring that up since he came in the way he did instead of in a threatening manner.

    “Well look who is trying to act cool. You believe that there is really a mistake that has been made? I do doubt that something like that has happened.”

    “Now, there is no reason to get defensive.” The councilman said as he just smiled at the archer. “Though I refuse to do any business with someone that I don’t know the name of. So, would you like to at least introduce yourself.”

    Tristifer raised an eyebrow at the older man, however he didn’t rise to the obvious baiting. He laughed at the councilman’s reaction. “Oh, but I’m sure you do know my name, even if you don’t know my face. More importantly I’m sure you know my employer. Hell I’d wager you owe him at least a favor or two.”

    The archer shrugged. “My name is Tristifer Barton, and my employer is Dagur Harken.” Tris settled comfortably in the chair, studying the councilman.

    The councilman tilted his head at the fact of the man’s cocky nature. He was way too confident that he knew the man and his employer. Though he did have an idea who this man was and the reason for his visit. Just because the Vampire was imprisoned only a few hours ago. The news in this city travels fast. Especially if you knew where to ask.

    Then the young archer finally introduced himself and mentioned his employer's name. This was becoming more and more complicated now that members of the Rouge Gallery had finally made their appearance. Giving a slight sigh the councilman was about to speak but was beat to the punch by his guest.

    “So the little archer is throwing around a name that means very little. How can you people stand working for a man as drool as him. You should put you skills to better use than being a treasure hunter for him.” The older man said not to hold anything back. He had absolutely no respect for a man that his only lot in life was to gather treasure, and have no ambition in life. “You might as well be working as a hunter. At least they have more respect than your lot.”

    “I guess I struck a nerve.” Tristifer said grinning at the councilman. Turning to the older gentleman Tris smiled gently. Like one does to a child mid tantrum. “Forgive me, I’m afraid you weren’t important enough for me to know off hand.”

    “Allow me to correct a few misunderstandings. The Rogues Gallery aren’t treasure hunters. We’re what you may call specialists. Or more commonly mercenaries. “

    “As for why I work where I do; It pays well and offers little restrictions.” Turning his attention back to the councilman, Tris returned to his conversation. “Do you often allow your underlings to add input to your discussions?”

    The older man knew that this child was of little consequence, but him coming in and demanding that there was something that the councilman needed to correct was a little presumptuous of him. Well he was nothing more than a erand man anyway. Though he did wonder who would win if this man and 'he' fought? He clinched his fist tightly around the pin that was taken from Ashvel.

    The councilman became a little uncomfortable with the two fighting. He didn't need an incident to happen in this prison. When the conversation returned to him Tristifer mentioned that the older man was his underling, and before anything else could be said he began to speak.

    "I do know the man that you work for, and as for this man he is not my underling as you might think. He is here on business as well." He said as he cleared his throat once more trying to get himself calm once more. "Now you mentioned a misunderstanding. What exactly do you mean by that?"

    “No.” Tristifer said directly. “I said there was a mistake. And then I asked if you were the man who was capable of fixing it. A question you’ve yet to answer; So are you capable of fixing mistakes made here, or am I wasting my time?”

    "That depends on what you think the mistake is? I am not in the position to answer a question without knowing the details. I refuse to put myself in that position. So, if you are not going to answer the question of what your business is then we will have to end this conversation." He said not allowing himself to be bullied into agreeing to correct this mistake.

    "Such a child." The older man said as he closed his eyes. He knew that his companion would be arriving soon. Then who knew what would happen from there. Maybe they could kill two birds with one stone.

    “Your prison contains an individual it shouldn't.” Tristifer said simply. He had suspected the older man was likely involved in the situation; But that mattered little. Tristifer suspected this would not end the way he initially expected. That didn’t matter though, if this didn’t work there were enough Rogues present to take the prison by force. “So,” Tristifer asked. “Are you capable of correcting this mistake?”

    The councilman looked at the man a little surprised at his accusation. Yet, he knew who he was referring to, he just kept that to himself. There was no reason to play into this man's hands.

    "Well that is not good. You are accusing the city's guards in arresting an innocent man. Well that is a tall accusation. However, there have only been five arrests in the last three days. Some for minor crimes and some for much worse. So, what is your friend convicted of? Or are you beating around the bush to get me to agree to something that I have no power to do?"

    “As far as i know, my friend was arrested for simply being what he is. I wasn’t given details beyond his arrest.” Tristifer stated honestly. “Surely though, a city such as Alegast doesn’t simply arrest individuals based on their race. That being the case I’m sure you’ll have no problem releasing this individual.”

    Tristifer crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. “That is if you have the ability to do so.”

    The councilman could only sigh at the words spoken next. This was not out of his control to fix, but there was no way he could do such a thing at the moment. One ‘he’ was sitting inside of the room, and two he was being held for the murder of a guard. Letting him go now would cause more of an outcry than the man expected.

    “Well your friend if you are talking about the thing arrested today it is being held on murder charges. He was the only vampire that was in the vicinity. So, that is what he is accused of. As for the ability to free him until the charges are lifted. I have the power, but it would cause problems in the city. Especially to the people that the attack impacted.” The man said as the older man opened his eyes and looked at him and then to Tristifer. Not saying a word on the subject for now.

    Tristifer had to bite back a laugh at the charges. Waiting until the councilman finished. “So you have some sort of evidence that he was responsible, yes?” The archer asked simply. “A bloody weapon, a matching shoe print, property of the deceased found on the accused?”

    “Because based on what you just said, I can only come to the conclusion that you arrested him based on race alone.” The archer offered. “Which is exactly what I will share with everyone of note from here till ice court and back. That despite its claim to the opposite, the law in Alegast is based around race and nothing more. And that I got the information directly from you councilman.”

    Tristifer shrugged nonchalantly. He knew that spreading such information guaranteed an end to the political career, whether believed or not. “So here’s my recommendation. Either you present your evidence to me, or you release your prisoner. Hell you don’t have to release him to me; Surely the reputation of Balder of Stonestead is impeccable, even to your friend here. Release him to the giant, and when you have the evidence he’ll be returned.”

    The tone in Tristifer’s voice dropped all pretense of warmth. “Not that any such evidence exists. So shall we wrap this up? Does your friend have enough on you that you’re willing to sacrifice your career? Or am I going to be escorting my friend to the giant?”

    The councilman could only shake his head. The archer was right, one of the main reasons the Vampire was arrested was because the evidence was completely pointing to a Vampire. Nothing more and nothing less. At least for the moment no witnesses have come forward.

    “You are right. The only evidence we have right now is a body that is completely drained of blood from a vampire bite. So, right now he is being held because of that. We are trying to gather more information, and we are detaining any Vampire’s that are in the city or have been in the city the last couple of days. We didn’t single him out of the many people in the city as you seem to be thinking. We are going after all Vampires. If there was not a murder, he would have been left to his own devices.” The man said as he looked Tristifer in the eyes. Deciding to give the man a chance to prove his friend's innocence.

    “The people wouldn’t forgive me for not trying my hardest to find the culprit. Even if it means arresting a couple of innocent people. The people would want justice, no matter the efforts that are taken to achieve that justice.If you want I can arrange it for you too see the body. To see if you can find something that we may have missed. This gives you the opportunity to prove his innocence.”

    Tristifer nodded and stood up. “His innocence is in the fact that he’s abstained from drinking from anything with a thought for probably longer than you’ve been alive. I certainly hope the dean of the university doesn’t mind being interrupted by the reveal of your persecution of a race based on the most circumstantial of evidence.” The archer offered a shrug and started for the door.

    The Rogue stopped. “If you care for any of your guards more than you obviously care for your future in politics I recommend you send them instructions to take the rest of the day off. Probably should stay home tomorrow as well, just in case. I’d hate for any fatal accidents to happen, I mean try as you might to be gentle sometimes things just end badly.” Finished,Tris opened the door.

    “You might not want to do anything rash youngman. You would hate to find that your little band of mercenaries are no match for the guards here. Or at least my people. You just might want to mind your own business, and let the Vampire face the consequences of his own decisions.” The older man said as he stood up from his chair and limped towards Tristifer. He just smiled as he tapped his heel on his right foot on the floor three times.

    As the man opened the door another person was standing right in the doorway. He looked at the archer straight in the eyes. His slitted eyes were very definitely like a Lycans and he even had pointed ears.

    “Are you leaving so soon? I am sure you have more business to discuss” The Lycan said blocking the doorway so that Tris was unable to leave.

    Tris glanced over his shoulder as the old man spoke. “Rogue business is my business.” Sensing the presence in front of him Tris chuckled. “You’d be surprised.” The archer answered both the lycan’s comment and the old man’s statement about the Rogue’s abilities.

    Reaching forward the archer ruffled the lycan’s hair. “Who's a good boy? Who's a good boy? Can you sit?” The archer laughed loudly, pulling the eyes of all individuals in the area to the door. His laughter didn’t touch his eyes as the unflinchingly met the mysterious lycan’s. There was a hint of a dare there.

    The Lycan didn’t move or flinch from the look in the archers eyes as he seemed to want a fight. He would gladly give him one if he wanted it that badly. Especially since he treated him like a dog. “I don’t do tricks, but I like to play with my food.” He said threatening the Archer referring to him as a meal.

    “I know more about you and your little band of misfits than you know. Though, I am sure your little leader has failed to tell you about me. So, in the end you are at a disadvantage.”

    The councilman stood from his seat and approached the small group that were standing at the door. He knew if this didn’t stop blood would be shed, and this would make for an horrible situation.

    “Now, now. There is no need for a fight. I can’t make any promises. I will see what I can do to get your friend out, but you must understand my position as well, and don’t be stupid and try an arange a breakout. If you do then your whole group will be under suspicion of aiding and abetting a criminal.”

    Tristifer turned his cold eyes from the lycan to the councilman. “For a politician you are bad at lying.” The archers voice turned to the same tone as it had been when he first spoke to the lycan. “But you’re a good boy aren’t you? Yes you are.”

    Turning fully into the room Tristifer simply smiled at the old man. “I’ve forgotten half the warnings the old man has shared. The few I recalled were less threatening than he said they were.” Tristifer shrugged and started backing through the door, whether the lycan was there or not. “The one lesson I’ve taken to heart from him though I share with you now. Just cause you think you know something doesn’t mean you really do.” Tris winked and slipped past the lycan. As he did he whispered, “Stay, good boy.” And started toward the exit.
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