• Solo • Courier

Previously the stronghold of the Pirate Lords, Almund is a thriving township with a dark side. With houses made from the wooden bodies of decommissioned ships, there are many opportunities here, coupled with many dangers. Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap!

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• Solo • Courier

Postby Mute » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:35 pm

"Silence Reigns . . ."
Ymiden 2, 718
Almund


“Heard The Kennel is hiring again. Need someone to move a package for them. You could finally get to be a big dog, Bono.”

“More like a little bitch playing fetch for something who didn’t wanna dirty their own hands. Besides, I can make more money just standing here than I would running across this Immortal-cursed city.”

The two men—Bono and his unnamed companion—stood beside one another at the point in the bazaar where two aisles converged in an intersection. They kept their hands tucked close to their body, clutching hidden blades. They were little more than common street thugs that the Bazaar Master had been forced to hire after the Elements’ numbers had diminished in recent seasons. Whether that was from reassignment or the weeding out of the more corrupt Land Elements, I wasn’t certain. I had never actually encountered the men in charge of this tent maze in my years living in Almund so I couldn’t speak to any alteration they may have made in the power hierarchy.

I had stumbled across a bit of solid information listening to the guards, however, that had made this trip to the marketplace worth it. Unlike many of the merchants who operated within these canvas walls, The Kennel had the reputation of being a consistent if not necessarily upstanding employer. I knew if I worked a job for them, I wouldn’t end up unpaid for my services. Or left for dead in a side alley of the city. And, if I proved myself a valuable asset, I would have my foot in the door for future opportunities down the road. It was about time to plant roots in the city to capitalize on.

First, however, I needed to equip myself like a proper courier. Stepping away for the farrier stall I had been loitering beside, I began to head towards the outskirts of the bazaar. The stalls that specialized in leatherworking were often relegated to the exterior, as close to the thoroughfare where the tanneries were in the city as was possible. Treated leather had a mighty awful stench and the wealthier merchants did not want that in the marketplace center. If they had their way entirely, leather products wouldn’t be available in the city proper at all.

Fortunately for me, they didn’t always get their way. Ducking down the appropriate aisle—my nose did not deceive me—I stepped up to the counter. The merchant, a man of mixed heritage, watched me as I studied his various bags. A leather bag with shoulder straps caught my eye. The merchant followed my eye. “A solid choice. That one’s been treated so that it don’t get wet.”

I hesitated. I didn’t know what size the package was I would be handling. If I even got the job, of course. I finally figured that it would be best to just get the largest bag that he had. I didn’t see any of a larger size on display, so I pointed to the one I first noticed and then expanded my hands apart from one another to indicate the phrase ‘bigger.’ Thankfully the man seemed to understand me even as he cast me a cautious look. He didn’t once take his eyes of me as he dug underneath the stall table for a big to fit my specifications. I could see his Tangle take only an orange tint of wariness.

The bag was a size larger, but still not bulky to the point that it would impede my movement much. The man named a price and I didn’t bother to try and negotiate. Neither of us were really capable of communicating with the other past a few vague hand gestures anyway. Slipping the coins out and placing them on the table, I shouldered my new bag and headed to the closest exit of the Bazaar.

To The Kennels I went.
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Postby Mute » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:29 pm

"Silence Reigns . . ."
The Kennel was a nondescript wooden structure, two-stories with a small balcony on the front overlooking the entranceway. If not for the sign hanging by the door of a two-headed hound, it would’ve passed as a townhouse. A hound of the two-legged variety leaned against the railing on the front porch, watching me as I approached. His tangle was overwhelmed by the the dull gray-blue that was boredom. Seems guard duty wasn’t what he had signed up for. I gave him a slight nod as I passed and stepped through the door he opened for me. I guess I wasn’t threatening enough to warrant a pat down or a search.

There was only a single man in the foyer, gray-skinned and taller than I by half a head. It wasn’t often that I had to look up at someone else. The man regarded me with a cool expression. He had a tangle tinged in green. Interest. He seemed like someone who looked beyond the exterior of a person in search of their potential. Though his felt less arcane and more mercantile. I was the number on his ledger. He just needed to determine whether I would be green or red to him.

I moved across the foyer, hand outstretched in greeting. I needed to get off on the right foot. He took my hand in a firm grip—I felt my knuckles cracked when he squeezed—and waited a half-second for an introduction that never came. Fortunately, he didn’t seemed caught off-guard by that. “Dana Guiscard.” We dropped the handshake as he took a step back, crossing his arms. “You can’t speak, can you?”

I nodded. I couldn’t tell if that was knowledge Dana already possessed or whether he deduced it in the moment.

He shrugged. “I imagine we can get through this without too much difficulty. You have a job or want one?”

I held up two fingers to signal for the latter.

Dana glanced at my bag. “I take it for the courier work we’re outsourcing? Must be. You haven't worked a job for us in the past and all of our contracts are staying in house. Follow me, if you would.” He turned away from me and stepped through the open door on the left side of the foyer. It opened up to an office space with an oversized desk. An entire wall was covered in bookshelves. Many of the books were bound with blank spines, though I imagined the Kennel Master had a system for their order. One such book sat open on the desktop but I couldn’t steal a glance before Dana flipped it shut. He took a seat in an extra-large chair and I followed suit on the plain wooden chair opposite him.

“It’s a pretty basic job, truth be told. The client wants you to retrieve their package and deliver it to them.” He paused to reach into the top drawer of the desk and snatch a slip of blank paper. He scribbled a few words on the note with an ink pen he pulled from the same drawer and slid it across the table to me. “Here’s the address you are to take it to. We usually don’t bother with like this one, but the client has been a loyal customer over the years. They’re paying for, above all else, discretion.” He gave me a knowing look. “I don’t think that’ll be much of a problem for you, but keep that in mind after the job’s done.”

I nodded and grabbed the note on the table. I spared it a glance before I tucked in the pocket of my pants. The address was in a more affluent neighborhood of Almund, but I hadn’t a clue who lived there.

Dana stood up; I was vertical a moment after him. “Can’t exactly give you an address to where the package is at. The craftsmen sets up shop in the Bazaar and who possibly knows where he set up to-trial.” He paused, in thought for a moment. “I’ll send someone along with you to ask around on your behalf.”

I nodded again. The help was welcome. Asking around for someone had always been my weak point in information gathering, and with the Bazaar as fluid as it was, I could end up spending bells in search of the merchant I needed.

I followed Dana to the front and outside. “Baldric, I want you to go with--“ He paused, glancing my way. He finally realized that my name never came up once in the conversation. He shrugged. “Just a new pup. He’s working the courier job for us. Just get him to Kale’s stall in the Bazaar and he’ll handle the rest.”

Relief. Baldric’s tangle bled with a light green. “Got it, boss.”

“Good luck,” Dana said over his shoulder as he stepped back into the building. I gave him a half-salute and followed Baldric down the steps and in the direction of the Marketplace.
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Postby Mute » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:28 pm

"Silence Reigns . . ."
It didn't take long for Baldric to realize I couldn't talk. That didn't stop him for speaking enough for the both of us. In fact, I felt it encouraged him. He regaled me with his various escapades in the dimly lit private areas of Nellies--he had chuckled when he realized that that phrase could've meant the rooms or the women--as well as a few drinking stories he knew. I listened with half-interest, hoping that between the boasts I might find a nugget of useful information. None surfaced, however, and I had to suffer the Hound's claims of "efficiency" the entire way to the Bazaar. Thankfully once we were there, Baldric was all business.

It didn't take much asking around before we were directed to the outer ring of the marketplace. It seemed Baldric, or at least The Kennel, had some sway among those who frequented the stalls; had I been alone, I might've been misled and sent in circles just for the laughs.

Kale, I quickly realized as we drew up to his stall, was a woodcarver. He had on display several of his larger pieces--replacement legs to furniture, mortar and pestle sets, and a few other knick-knacks--on the front table while some of his smaller items were stored in crates at his feet. Perhaps he kept the larger objects on the front because they were less likely to be pocketed by a thief walking by the table. "Can I help you gentlemen?"

"We're from The Kennel," Baldric replied. "He's here to deliver the special order you've been holding for us." He gestured to me with a thumb as he spoke.

"Of course," Kale said, reaching underneath the stall table. He retrieved a knapsack, the top tied shut with a bit of rope, and handed it to me. There was a slight weight to it and there was a few visible bulges but I couldn't quite figure out the shape of the objects within the bag. Not that I needed to. I opened the top of my bag and stuck the sack into the largest pocket.

"Don't forget, Kale," Baldric added as we turned to make our exit, "part of your pay was for your discretion."

Kale waved his hand dismissively, "It ain't the first time I've working for The Kennels. I just pity the poor boy who can't do as well as what those little guys'll do."

I thought that Baldric would berate the woodcarver for referencing the package. Instead, The Hound barked a laugh. "Aye, pity the incapable."

We parted ways with Kale after that, making our way to the closest exit of the Bazaar. I procured the address Dana had written down for me to plan my route while Baldric whistled to himself, mirth behind his emerald eyes. More unspoken jokes, I imagined, pertaining to the package I carried. I didn't press him to share any of his thoughts, thankful for the silent respite.

"I assume you can manage the rest of the way on your own, pup?" The Hound said to me as we exited the Bazaar. I nodded, shaking my hand that still gripped the slip of paper. "Alright then, stop by The Kennel when you're done. To report. Or, I guess, stand there and wave an empty sack around." Baldric shrugged and left without another word. Not the most awe-inspiring departure, but I felt it fit the man.

Neither of us noticed the man who began to tail me.

Not for a time, at least. I finally picked up on my shadow when I turned a corner and spotted him a ways back in my periphery. A squat, stocky fellow with his hands in his pocket. I couldn't make out any weapons on his body, but that wasn't exactly a skill I possessed. He was plain, someone who would not have raised my suspicion save for the fact that it just after the noon bell, the hottest part of the trial, and he was out in the Ymiden heat for what looked like a stroll. Not to mention his clothing, which was as plain as my own. We were nearing the wealthier parts of Almund, where men like he and I did not look like we belonged. And, finally, his tangle bled with determination, an emotion the felt odd given the circumstances. Yes, my follower was after me. Or, at least, he was after the package I delivered.

Spotting an alley ahead, I diverted my path to duck down it. A few moments later, I heard footsteps follow me into the side street. The quickened to what sounded like a full sprint.

I dropped to my stomach.

My assailant hadn't expected the unorthodox defense and couldn't bring himself to a stop in time. I felt his shins collide against my right side before the man tripped over me, cartwheeling in the air and crashing to the dirt ahead of me. Sucking in breath that had been driven out of my lungs, I pushed myself to my feet. My attacked had rolled to his back and threw a kick in my direction from his guard, forcing me to back-peddle a step. The newfound space allowed my attacker to find his feet again. A thin trickle of blood ran down his cheek where he had scraped his face on the landing.

The man wiped at his face with the back of his hand, staring at me. "Hand over the package you're carrying and I'll forgive you of that. I'll let you walk out of this alley alive."

Well that truly was a trade that I would be interested in; I believed my life to be more important than anything else in this world. At the same time, I didn't truly believe my attacker would uphold his end of the bargain. No, I needed to rely on myself some more.

So I turned to run away.

The man had predicted my flight and closed the gap, grabbing at the top of my bag and yanking. I was thrown off balance, falling backwards with the mans momentum to hit the ground. My bag flew open in my tumble and the knapsack dumped its contents out onto the alley floor. Three wooden objects, long and straight, each with a pair of rounded orbs at one end. They glistened with oil that had been rubbed into the wood. The man and I stared at the pieces in silent shock; we both had expected me to be carrying something else. I overcame my surprise first and reached out to snatch up for one the objects by the the hilt--oh immortals, the double entende--and whacked my assailant as stiffly as I could across his knee. He hopped away for me with a muttered cry.

Hard wood, I thought to myself. Despite the situation, I couldn't help but smile.

I lunged upward, slamming the twin balls of my bludgeon underneath the chin of the man, stunning him. I threw a clumsy knee between his legs, doubling him over, and then hammered the block of wood as hard as I could down on the back of his head. His body gave out beneath him and he fell face first onto the alley floor and didn't move again. I had not killed him, I realized after a moment. I could see his torso moving with each breath. I imagined he would have quite a headache when he woke up, but I had no intentions of being there when he did.

I finally noticed the slimy feelings in my hands. Whatever had been applied to the wood didn't allow for a tight grip. The object was just asking to be slid about. Retrieving the knapsack, I wiped my hands off on the shirt of the unconscious man and dropped the object back into its container. I did the same with the other two, but not before wiping the dirt that had been picked up in the oil on the man as well. Tying the sack back together, I finally returned it to my bag. Sparing one last glance at my assialant, one had pressed against my ribs where his legs had struck them, I exited the alley and continued on my way.

I was accosted no further.

The recipient of the package met me at the door. A woman wearing little more than a bed shift despite the time of day. In one hand was a glass of red wine and in the other a book. I could just make out the title. An Immortal's Lust. Well, I guess she had been waiting patiently for my delivery. Reaching into my bag, I handed it over without flourish. If she noticed that both it and I were covered in a slight layer of dirt, she didn't voice it. The faster I left, the faster she could satisfy the emotions that dominated her tangle. It was lust and desire, not wealth and class, that guided her to-trial, forced her to look for the aid of other to provide the tool to which she could satisfy herself. Complex drives that I could see but not relate to.

I'll stick to the pride of a job completed.

Later, when I reported back to Dana, I did exactly as Baldric had suggested. I waved the dirt-covered knapsack in the air like it was a trophy sliced off of a fresh kill. The Kennel Master had only nodded. It seemed he had already known about the job's completion, as well as the attack in the alley. I couldn't quite figure out how he had heard about both before I was able to return. So I left The Kennel, my bag a bit heavier. My mind, too, with questions unanswered about the giant and his yet unseen partner.

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