• Graded • Bigger Fish (Finnegan)

Atop a stony plateau overlooking the lands of central Idalos, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from the rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence; firm in its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the many factions set aside their conflicting agendas and see this through?

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Kasoria
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Bigger Fish (Finnegan)

Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:35 pm

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Kasoria's head was starting to ache, and it wasn't just because he'd lost a pint of blood. Do the job, get healed, report back, see what the boss thought of a new recruit. SImple. Direct. Linear. A straight line with several stops, but no divergences. Now other schemes and possibilities were crashing into his neat little plan.

Wattle being set up for a slit throat. Set up by someone who wanted to make Vorund look bad, not just settle a score or make some quick cash. So it was a power play, from... The Rues? Kasoria really needed to keep track of all the new gaggles of hoods running around. Not to mention it hinged on a letter being delivered, that wasn't, and now Wattle was in the clear... but he was wounded and his enforcers were so much rotting meat. So he was vulnerable, and if this Silvester heard about it-

Betty?

Assassin and bodyguard both exchanged a brief look as Finn's voice trailed off. There was still desperation there, but not of a boy looking to save his side. It spoke of concern for another. The kind of helpless, futile fear one felt at being unable to help someone close to them. Both men recognized it... mainly because it was a fear they'd exploited more than once.

Because it works. Man won't break, won't give in, doesn't fear pain or death? Fine. But bring a loved one into it...

Shit, but his head ached. Kasoria massaged his temple and Rorak cleared his throat, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

"Boss is waiting for you. You sure you want to-"

"He needs to make a decision," Kasoria said, stumping past the man with Finn in tow. "Don't matter how he's feeling."

"F'you say so, mate..."

The hulking minder reached out and rapped his thick knuckles on the office door. A bark of command snapped out from behind it and it opened, revealing a similar giant staring down at them. Kasoria he recognized, but the boy...

"He's with me. Need to-"

"That Kas? Get in here!"

There was a stage wince from behind him and Kasoria refused to let Rorak bait him. Billy let them both in and closed the door, revealing a tastefully expensive office and a solid-looking mane with a head of white hair behind his desk. He looked up from the note he was reading and sat back in his chair. Before Kasoria had even stopped moving, he tossed it across the polished wood.

"What did I tell you? Hmm? What were my words?" Bangun Vorund resembled little more than a bubbling pot with the lid on the verge of flying off. He was gripping the arms of his chair, tightening and loosening, looking like he would have dearly loved a throat or five to replace them. "I needed those cunts alive, so they could pay me. I did not want a house full of fucking corpses."

"Wattle's dead?"

"Yes! He's fucking dead!" The older man swept to his feet and that smoldering stillness vanished. He banged a fist down onto the table and with a slick metal click! a hidden blade up his sleeve snapped out half-a-foot into view. Pointing at both killer and boy. "Fucking dead with his throat cut open, you idiot!"

Much as he didn't enjoy being lambasted for something he didn't do, Kasoria could have sighed with relief. Only cut he made on that fat bastard was below the waist. Recent history flashed through his mind, even if he wasn't there to view it. Someone came around in the breaks after Finn and him left, waltzing past security that was either fled or dead, and finishing off Waddling Wattle.

Shame. Would have been a good street name.

"I didn't kill him."

"What? Then who in the hell-"

Billy stood silent like an obelisk, amazed as always that of all the people that Mister Vorund let interrupt him, this raggedy little turd was one of them. Anyone else would get a fist around the face or someone like him breaking their fingers, but Vorund let his fury get derailed. He pushed the blade back in its mechanical sheath, and leaned forward on his knuckles. Drinking in the precious words his pet killer had to offer him.

"Crew called "The Rues" were planning to ambush Wattle tonight, using this message." He nudged Finn. "Hand it over." He continued as Finn did as he was told, Vorund snatching it out of his hand without a glance. "Boy told me as much. And he said the man who runs them-"

"Silvester?"

See, this is why he's the boss.

"Aye, him, planned it to make you look bad. Make people think you can't guarantee protection anymore."

He didn't need to say anything else. So him and the boy and Billy just stood there, waiting for the volcano to explode. No noise save for the men downstairs, hammering crates closed and opening new ones. Kasoria was willing to bet that most of what happened on the property was, in fact, legitimate business. Vorund had been running his rackets for twenty years, but what was all that profit if you couldn't spend it? So it was reinvested, laundered, plowed into other businesses, property, stock ventures... anything that made clean money.

But there was always the chance there were other shades to the picture. Vorund wasn't a man to shirk away from... re-purposing somewhere that had storage space, security, a flowing inventory and, most importantly, smack in the Commercial Ring. Where the real money was.

"So he's having a fucking go, is he?"

"Yes." He knew his master. Vagaries and soothing words would be like water on a fat fire at that moment. "Your orders?"

Vorund blinked, looked his killer up and down. The crutch and the sweaty complexion were not encouraging. But if he was dismayed or doubting, it didn't show on that craggy face. Instead he straightened up, and walked around the table. Kasoria had been his man for eight arcs. Scores of men had died at his hand, at Vorund's command, and many had tried to kill him, before and after. The assassin had been wounded more times than Vorund could remember, and if he was healed enough to walk around (well, more or less), then he'd survive.

Little bastard's just too stubborn to die.

"I'm not wasting you, Kas," he said, crossing his arms, voice calmer, a model of control after the inferno he'd been spewing earlier. "You'll heal up, good as you were this morning, but that'll take a while, and this needs to be handled now. See this?" He held up the note he'd been reading when they entered. "From a courier. Arrived about a break before you did. Word is out, and I already look bad."

Kasoria knew it all made sense. It was the smart play, and if he were Vorund... yes, he could see the logic of it. You didn't ruin a reliable tool on a task you knew it wasn't fit for. But even repeating that in his mind made his hands clench into fists. The logic didn't matter, the reasons didn't matter, this was still his job and it wasn't finished.

"Don't even bother, Kas. I can hear your wheels turning." A corner of Vorund's mouth turned up, somewhere between mocking and understanding. "You ain't the only hitter out there, and you know it. Wattle was behind locks and bolts. These Rues cunts are in... where was it, Billy? Northwest on the Outer?"

"Yes, boss. Some gutted shithole, I think. They might have moved."

He shrugged, and Vorund aped the gesture. It didn't matter. If a burned-out shop was their idea of a fortress, then his idea of a besieging army could be equally... unsubtle. A dozen apes with steel and axes would do the job; no need for a sly mind like Kasoria. The crime boss stepped around the table and looked the man over. Blood had stained through patches of his clothes. His eyes were steady, no hint of Randolf's herbs and powders clouding them... but he was tired. Wounded. Body still binding itself back together, and on top of all that.

"You smell like dogshit."

The little man mirrored his almost-simile. "I know."

"Who's the kid?"

Kasoria breathed in and turned to Finn. Both older men peered down at him like wolves at a lamb... or maybe marketeers who'd stumbled across some delightful item they needed to appraise. The killer scratched under his beard and shrugged.

"Boy got me to Randolf's. Stuck by me when I was under. Told me about Rues and Silvester. He's got a girl with 'em, too." He plowed on and ignored the suddenly-frantic expression on the urchin's face. Kasoria had precious empathy as it was, and he didn't waste it on children he'd never even met. It was out of his hands, anyway. Vorund was the hand, he was the blade. Such as it had always been. "Betty, or something. Any road, he wants her safe, and I thought you'd might have a use for him."

"Did he hand over that letter?"

"Nah. Randolf nicked it from him."

"Huh!" Vorund have a huff and nodded with an appreciation Finn wasn't expecting. "Loyal. If you don't have that in your boys, you ain't got shit. But he told you about Sil and The Rues?"

"Save his girl, I'm guessing. Long as she's safe, he's happy."

Vorund nodded and gave an "ah" of understanding, like a man being shown how to do a magic trick. "Good to know... good to know..."

The two of them kept exchanging words, this cold dialogue that denied him a voice, refused to even acknowledge him. He wasn't a person, and neither was Betty. He was something being weighed and measured, like a horse with good breeding but thus far untested. As he looked up and dared to hope, he would see no hint of sympathy in Kasoria's face. He didn't so much plead his case, as relayed the relevant facts. What Vorund did with them, well...

Thanks for Jade for the template
"This is the life we choose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will see Heaven."
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Finnegan O'Connor
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Bigger Fish (Finnegan)

Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:19 pm

Bigger Fish


Etzos - 13th Zi'da, 716


The scent of liquor and waxed wood stung his nostrils as little motes of dust, captured in a beam of vale light through half-closed shutters, danced around the room. The stiff man behind the desk jumped up, his head red with flame like a lit candle. And the grey crown he wore bestowed great authority on him. Few crooks lived to see their hair turn to ash or feel their skin wrinkle and sag and it was a testimony to their shrewdness when they did.

Dust scattered as the man's twitching left eye trained directly on Kasoria. Finn tensed at Kasoria’s side, too frightened to flee or speak or breathe. For a while he tried very hard not to listen but Vorund's tirade was inescapable and though the voice hadn’t been raised against him, he shrunk at every next word that Vorund spat out. Unsure where to lay his eyes and rest his hands caused even greater discomfort until he finally settled on staring at the scratched hardwood floor, letting his arms hang defenselessly at his side. He wasn't a threat to any of the three men in the room and he considered it was for the best. Zipper would call him a shrivelling coward of course, but sometimes being meek was a great advantage. If no one considered him a risk, they'd be more likely to let him go.

Except of course they wouldn't. The entire Wattle saga reeked of two things every crook craved: blood and money. Even as he kept his eyes trained on the scratched hardwood floor he sensed the occasional prying stare burning into him until he worried that his very thoughts were the subject of careful scrutiny. Then the weight of eyes tripled and he lifted his head in response, meeting the gaze of the two hungry vipers encircling him. He inhaled sharply through his nostrils, making an odd wheezing noise in the process of filling his lungs with a bout of stilted air. He almost regretted taking a breath, for Kasoria’s festering wounds reeked and filled his mouth with the taste of rotten muck.

“You’re not going to…” He started breathlessly. “...are you?”

The silence emanating from Vorund confirmed his worst fears. The Rues were done for. If their mutilated bodies wouldn’t be put to rest in the dirt this trial, then surely they would meet the same fate before the season’s end and there was nothing he could do about it, unless he wished to join them six feet under. While he wasn’t particularly fond of Silvester’s stooges, the bald man had been kind to him, even if that kindness was nothing but an act, as Betty had always insisted it was.

For the first time since he’d entered the room, he stirred and turned, only to stop halfway through the motion. He wouldn’t even make it to the door before Kasoria’s clutches would find the nape of his neck and he sensed he was already testing the rat’s patience by even daring to consider an escape.

Regardless of whether Silverster’s kindness was an act or not, it was certainly more convincing than the show Vorund put on, his voice laced with barely contained anger. “Your friend will be quite safe if only you point her out to us so we can make sure she won’t get harmed. Think you could do that?”

Finn swallowed, then nodded. There wasn’t a hair on his head that trusted the hardened criminal, but he had little choice in the matter.
“Good,” Vorund answered in a clipped voice, before wrinkling his nose at Kasoria again and making a dismissive gesture. Finn was all too happy to obey the silent command and was on the verge of breathing a sigh of relief when Vorund’s voice struck him like a whip.

“Boy.”

He was just a step removed from the door when he turned to face Kasoria’s boss, and his stomach turned with him.

“I take you’d like to keep your job?”

Finn’s eyes lit up in surprise and before he knew it, his head had already dipped into a curt nod.

“Very good. You can start right away and make sure I don’t smell Kasoria anymore before I see him.”

Again he nodded, and then he found himself at the other side of the door, chained with invisible links to the wounded, stinking feral killer leaning on his shoulder.
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Bigger Fish (Finnegan)

Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:05 am

So, I just want to stress just how much I enjoyed this thread. It was well written, well paced and fascinating to read. I was really struck by the see-saw of the two pcs - Finn could become Kas, in a hop and a skip and a twist of fate a few times. They worked really well together as pcs and the dialogue was fantastic. Stunning attention to detail, too. I hope to see the two of you writing together again in the future - this one was a treat! Enjoy the rewards and drop me a pm if I missed anything.

Kasoria

Points

XP: 15 (not for magic)

Renown: 10

Loot

Nope

Knowledge

Acting: Playing the Doddery Street Addict
Blades (Gladius): Drawing and Striking in the Same Movement
Blades (Gladius): Disarming a Swordsman (By Taking His Hand Off)
Deception: Bluffing Your Way Through The Door By Rambling On and On
Discipline: Quieting Yourself to Take Stock of Your Surroundings
Endurance: Rage That Gives Killers Strength
Intimidation: Reminding a Small Fry Just How Small He Really Is
Tactics: Distracting a Target With an Unexpected Event
Unarmed Combat (Ki'Enaq): Kick to the Knee
Unarmed Combat (Ki'Enaq): Slamming Heads Into Hard Objects
Unarmed Combat (Ki'Enaq): Finger Lock

Non-Skill Knowledge:
NPC Vorund: Taxes Every Criminal Business in South Etzos
NPC Vorund: Doesn't Carelessly Throw His Assets Away
NPC Vorund: Has Numerous Legitimate Investments
NPC Randolf: Disgraced Doctor, Back-Alley Healer, Chronic Gambler
PC Finn O'Connor: Has a Sweetheart In Betty?
The Rues: Upstart Gang in South Etzos


Finn

Points

XP:15 (not for magic)

Renown: 10

Loot

Nope

Knowledge

Running: hasting to make a timely delivery.
Unarmed combat: shrugging grabby hands off
Running: bolting past Juvie
Strength: shouldering a door open
Caregiving: providing first aid regardless of risk or reward
Endurance: being buried under Mr. Wattle's weight
Strength: freeing self from being buried under Mr. Wattle.
Acting: putting up a facade to cover hiding a letter
Medicine: using a shirt as an improvised bandage
Medicine: administering ammonic anesthesia
Endurance: walking long distances through the Zi'da cold
Strength: serving as a crutch

Silvester (NPC): Boss of The Rues
Betty (NPC): Like a sister
Juvie (NPC): A 'spotter'
Juvie (NPC): Smarmy know-it-all
Mr. Wattle (NPC): Overweight crook
Mr. Wattle (NPC): Tries to tempt you with reward
Mr. Wattle (NPC): Vorund's Enemy
Kasoria: savage killer
Kasoria: partner in crime
Kasoria: Vorund's right-hand man
Mr. Vorund (NPC): Kasoria's Boss
Mr. Vorund (NPC): A very angry man
Mr. Vorund (NPC): Hardened criminal
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