• Closed • According to plan

Finn and Kasoria, some time ago.

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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According to plan

Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:10 am

According to plan.

13th Zi'da, 716

After Vorund had had his say, Kasoria, Finn and Vorund's brute (Billy, how fitting), left The Man’s office in silence. Billy led the pack, marching forward with strong strides followed by the light pattering of the boy’s feet who had to take twice the number of steps to keep up. Kasoria limped somewhere behind. Finn breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone knew Vorund, but few people got to meet the man and live. He rather would've avoided the crook altogether, but that no longer seemed to be an option. Thankfully he'd soon be out of here....

It wasn’t until Billy halted and turned to face Finn with an expecting gaze, that an ugly, inevitable truth dawned on him.

They weren't just going to let him go.

He clenched his jaw. As if today hadn’t been sufficiently cocked up, now he was going to be held here too? Chances were he’d have better lodgings here than the bunk he shared with lice and two other boys, maybe he’d get better food too if they cared to waste it on him, yet none of that concerned him.

His hand slid idly into his pocket and grazed the familiar cloth.

Nothing.

Not a single coin left, not even a copper. He didn’t bother to check his other pocket because that one had a hole in it. His stomach tightened. He needed that money. He needed it to-

“You comin’ or what?” Billy said with about as much grace and politeness as could be expected from a six foot something battering ram. Finn obliged silently, surprised the giant was even capable of speech.

His feet, tired and sore from far more work than he'd bargained for, groaned in protest as he was led through the warehouse. They passed through clouds of sawdust, past workbenches and sweating, labouring men with raised collars who scattered before Billy like ants. Then Finn considered that perhaps the workers weren't getting out of the way of the man-giant, but rather stepped aside to avoid the dogged creature that limped after the elephant and the mouse. Soon enough they halted at the top of a steep flight of stairs at the back of the warehouse where a single lamp cast eerie shadows upon the wall. A small, bent door at the bottom ignited his imagination about all the horrors that rested beyond as his guide motioned silently down the abyss as if to say: ladies go first.. Finn, addled from all that had transpired, sagged his shoulders and plodded down the steps without a single utterance of protest. Billy followed suit, the steps bulging and groaning under the duress of heavy muscle, then halted before the door and fished a set of keys from his belt.

The door creaked open and a portly figure sat huddled over a table in the dim light from a single, dying fire beyond. The shadows on the wall could be monsters, or they could be bookshelves and strange equipment. One thing was for sure and certain: this was no ordinary cellar.

Billy’s large hand planted itself between his shoulderblades and with a forceful shove, encouraged him to proceed.

“Is that you Billy? I was expecting a rabid dog, not a bull and a mous-.”

Finn felt it too. The stinging eyes of that bloodthirsty raggedy little man, beaming down on them from where he was hobbling down the stairs.

The portly man’s attitude changed on a dime, his bemused smile fading into a flat, stoic expression. “Kasoria…”

Their welcome died with those words and silence threaten to loom over them when the little balding fellow cleaned his hands on the edges of the leather apron he was wearing and motioned for his visitors to step inside.

“You know your way around,” the man said to Kasoria as they ventured further into what had to be Etzos’ most eclectic cellar. Finn considered the interior was the design of a madman, or a genius, possibly both at the same time. There certainly was no lack of mystifying equipment hanging from the walls. There were pliers, saws, what looked like small axes, chopping blocks, ropes, bits of leather, strangely colored orbs, stones, rows upon rows of neatly labeled flasks, but also nails, bits of wood and string.

“Ah, you’re admiring The Collection...” the man said, a hint of a devious smile returning to his face.

Billy had taken it upon himself to fetch a tumbler from the mantlepiece and poured himself something vicious before settling at the table. “Boy’s not your bloody friend, Casper.”

“Of course, of course…”

The man waggled more than he walked, being cursed with as he was with short, stubby legs and a rare affliction that caused a stiffness in them unless rubbed once every ten-trial with a rare ointment imported from Viden.

“You didn’t let that quack Randolf stitch you up again, did you? You know you should come to me unless you take pride in looking like a doll stitched together from old bits of cl-” Casper, part-time doctor, part-time inventor, and the household’s crazy genius had the nouse to shut up there while Finn reluctantly seated himself opposite Billy, waiting for the inevitable questioning to get started while Kasoria had himself treated and looked at with a more expert eye.
Last edited by Finnegan O'Connor on Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:53 am, edited 2 times in total. word count: 925
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Re: According to plan

Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:44 pm

Kasoria couldn't think of any other place in the city where dusty bottles of Ragman's Old Dependable were shoved up next to a massive pickle jar that contained what looked like the head of an infant Ithecal in embalming fluid. Maybe some of the trinket shops in the Outer Perimeter, or those "mystic arts" frauds in the Commercial Circle. But that was just the pone shelf. Kasoria knew that there were dozens of such curiosities here.

For half of the basement, anyway. The rest was for business. Casper's half was... and indulgence, really. But the man was worth it, or rather, his skills were. Casper was one of those rare sorts with ideas and knowledge spilling out of his head like a bucket mauled by a pack of wolves. The fled from him in great gouts and whenever one had found some sort of form, another replaced it. He had a handful of experiments and pursuits and "restorations" going at any one time, but he was no spotty-minded scholar or idealistic inventor.

Casper knew well enough who kept him in curios and medical supplies. He knew what was expected of him when a man came down into his domain, stinking of rubbing alcohol and dried blood and the faint whiff of gangrene.

He walked over with that stiff, swinging gait of his, swiping bottles and vials and rolls of whatever and implements for what have you as he went. By the time he sat next to Kasoria and helped the man with his shirt and breeches off, he had another gear about his person to stitch a man back together from toes to ears.

Shouldn't come to that, at least.

"Oi?" Billy snapped his fingers and tore Finn's gaze from the street map of scar tissue and tattoos that was Kasoria's torso. Once the thug had the boy's attention, he rummaged around in a nearby shelf until he found a bottle. "Need youse t'pay attention, y'ken? Oi, Casper? Glasses?"

"Bottom shelf!"

"Fuck!"

"Sorry, Kas."

Billy rolled his eyes and ignored the little bearded man getting sewn back up. Randolf's ministrations were trained but limited by the fact he was a chronic fucking gambler who either didn't have the money for decent equipment, or sold what equipment he did have when he thought he smelled a Sure Thing. Casper had no such problems. So of course, the first thing he'd need to do would be see where Randolf had worked, and start reversing it and doing it right.

"A'right, lad," Billy said, voice meandering between boredom and seriousness, very much how one would talk to a kid. He planted a glass in front of Finn, after blowing quickly in it. "Need youse t'tell us about the Rues. About Silvester. Where he is, where his boys are, where they're gonna be. And yer friend Betty. Tell us about her, we'll make sure nothin' happens to her."

Kasoria kept his eyes on the head in the jar. Not much bigger than a young girl's, actually. He forced the thought from his mind and focused on the ranks of curios. Tools and trophies, bottles and books, some items so rotted and forgotten they were falling apart, other looking like they were cleaned every trial. The very physical imagining of a madman's mind, laid bare on a dozen shelves.

He thought about that, and about the pain, and not on what would happen to Betty.

If he fucks us around, he reassured himself, hissing as Casper started pulling stitches out, stinking poultice balanced between his legs as he did so. Boy plays us fair, nothing'll happen to her. He doesn't, well...

He didn't finish the thought. It was unpleasant and yet... not one that cut too deep. There were rules, in his world, in the world Finn thought he was immersed in. But he was just doggy-paddling, whereas Kas had been dredging the muck at the bottom of the sea for arcs. If you did as you were told, if you stayed loyal, almost every time, you were safe. You were allowed to go on your way. Because what was the point of killing a man, or woman, or girl, or boy, if there was no coin to be made nor debt to be squared?

They weren't animals. They were gangsters. There was a subtle difference.

"Hurry up an' tell the man," Kasoria growled from his seat, baring his teeth as the poultice burned into his back, long and ragged cut not bleeding anymore but still furious in his flesh. "Wanna get this shite finished soon, a'fore Sil an' the rest get antsy an' vanish..."
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Re: According to plan

Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:19 pm

According to plan.

13th Zi'da, 716

Finn’s eyes flicked to Vorund’s bloodhound, wondering for a fleeting moment if the killer was one of ‘em changelings Zipper had once told him about. The sort that could become a huge, drooling dog with big, mean teeth simply by willing themselves to be one. It would certainly explain the man’s scratched and bruised skin and the state of his stinking clothes piled up at his feet, he thought.

“Well?” Billy’s low, menacing voice came from across the table.

He tore his gaze away from Casper’s gruesome labour and stared into Billy’s small, pig-like eyes. There was no kindness there, no sympathy or understanding, nothing but bottled-up, barely-restrained rage that was let loose at Vorund’s command.

A crushing silence hung between them as Finn squeezed his lips together and averted his gaze. Billy squinted his eyes to mere slits, then took the glass he’d put down, uncorked the bottle he’d scavenged from Casper’s disarray of trinkets and poured himself something vicious. Finn didn’t see Billy raised the glass to his lips, but he heard the swig, the gulp, the breath of relief that followed, and then the sound of a hand swiping across a rough beard, drying the lips.

Silence, broken by a sniff an-

-he was yanked halfway across the flat of the table by one arm. The furniture scraped over the stone floor like nails sliding over a blackboard and skidded to an abrupt halt that saw the emptied glass tumble over the edge. Just as his head rebounded from slamming into the top of the table, Billy’s meaty fist landed dead in front of his eyes and banged into Finn’s ear squashed between wood and skull

“Al’right… lad,” Billy repeated, bringing his mouth so close to his ear that he could smell the stink of alcohol on it. “I’m gonna ask nicely just this once a’fore I ask Casper here to lend a hand.”

The prospect of Casper involving himself didn’t seem altogether bad until Billy explained himself further.

“Whatcha call those tings again to pull things out with?”

“Oh, nothing special,” Casper answered, none too disturbed. “Just pliers.”

“Pliers,” Billy grinned, baring his teeth. “I’ll get me some pliers and see if we can’t pull some answers out of you then-”

“A’right, alright!” Finn shrieked, “They’re up North by the Oute-”

“We know,” Billy growled.

“That’s all I know I swear!”

“Do you take me for some dumb cunt?”

Finn answered with a yank of his own and to his surprise slipped from the thug’s grasp. He stumbled backward, tripping over his own feet and put as much distance between himself and Billy before halting, searching like a cornered animal for an exit.

Only now did Casper stop his work to cast a lazy glance over his shoulder at Finn. “You’re only making this more difficult for yourself,” he stated flatly, "best just get it over with." He returned to putting the final stitches in Kasoria and said no more.
Last edited by Finnegan O'Connor on Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 543
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Re: According to plan

Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:17 pm

He couldn't give you a date or even an arc if you asked him. Couldn't estimate how many fights, how many wounds, which one out of hundreds had been the one where his body had stopped noticing. Or perhaps it noticed, but his mind simply stopped paying attention.

Kasoria hissed as the fifth stitch was drawn through the holes Casper had made, then pulled tight, closing the stretch of skin beneath it. Not completely.

He was more focuses on taking his mind far from this place, so the pain wouldn't distract him. He knew he wouldn't die, bleed out, any of that shit. But he couldn't get back about his business with his back and leg and arms flayed open like shanks in a butchers' window. Casper patted him on the shoulder and he knew his back was done, throbbing angrily through a dozen and more tiny holes the needle had made. Without a word he lifted up his leg, and Casper hummed softly to himself as he mixed up a fresh batch of poultice.

Sounded like a nursery rhyme. Which would be fitting enough for Casper.

You never know who's holding the reins in that man's head...

Which wasn't to say he didn't know what he was doing. The poultice bit into him again and Kasoria ground his teeth. He thought about his cats, his home. The ill-tended little shrine by his window. The training dummies. His master. His father. His sister. He thought about his son, and for that he closed his eyes. Better to see that gap-toothed smile (silly sod, swinging about in that tree) and not-quite-coordinated limbs yet to grow to the muscle of a young man. Kasoria thought of that boy, how he laughed and smelled and sounded and felt, and the basement with its curios and muted atrocities faded away.

Then he heard Billy and the commotion and the squealing words, and all of that was shattered.

The Boy Finn was backed against a wall, but not in a corner. He could bolt along the wet brick and find somewhere to hide, some corner or crag to wedge himself into. Mayhap even a weapon amidst the chaos of a hoard that was Casper's domain. Kasoria knew it would do little good. There were only two ways in and out of the basement. One was right behind them, the way they came in. The other led out into the back alley, and was always locked. Inside and outside, although Kasoria often tried to tell Casper this was... a little excessive.

What if there's a fire? Or someone chases us down here and we can't escape cuz both sides of the door are chained closed?!

"Oh, there won't be a fire down here," Casper said, with that airy, carefree tone he usually used. "And I can't imagine anyone doing any chasing down here chasing themselves back out again..."

Kasoria didn't have any reply to that. He knew it to be true. Just like he knew Billy's nature, too.

"Fuckin' squirmy little shit," the lumbering creature snarled and groped for the nearest hard, sharp, metal object he could snatch off a shelf, never taking his eyes off Finn. "Fuckin' snap yer legs like twigs an' see how far youse run."

"Now, now," Casper's voice was all reason and civility, pausing as he bent down to bite away the loose thread after Kasoria's leg was stitched. "No use to us so damaged he can't talk, is he? Mister Vorund wouldn't-"

"Youse don't fuckin' tell me what Mister Vorund wants, you fuckin' mutant-"

"Enough."

Casper may have not had the verve in his voice or a worthy enough history to sway Billy, but the man he heard next certainly did. Just one word, and his relentless stalking stopped. He turned his head, and found Kasoria rising slowly to his feet. Naked save for his under-breeches, fresh lines of stitches in his leg and across his back, arm still bandaged but bleeding heavily. Despite all that, and without a weapon, he limped forwards, speaking as he went.

Roles were reversed, and Billy listened as a dangerous man came forth.

"We ain't got time t'do this, Bill. Ain't got time to patch the wee cunt back up once yer finished playin' wiv' him. Ain't got time t'hold him over a fire or let Casper work on him like some new project." He stopped, barely coming up to Billy's nose. The latent, lurking anger in the big man flared briefly in his eyes, and Kasoria stared back. He'd seen worse. He'd felt worse. He'd acted on worse. "So grab the kid, get him back in the fuckin' chair, an' we'll try it again."

Finn didn't understand it, not immediately. The strangeness of it was a slap to the very nature of the street world he inhabited. Size and strength made the rules there, gave the orders, commanded the respect and fear and nels. Size was applicable and appreciative of everything. Big boys preyed on little ones, and were preyed on in turn by men, who in turn, and in turn... but here was a man half the size of Billy, speaking to him without a tremor in his voice.

Holding back pain, but not fear. Sounds more tired than anything else, even when Billy balled his fists, and Kasoria's eyes flickered down to them.

He didn't snap back. He didn't bare his teeth. He just sighed.

"Bill? I've had a rough fuckin' day. Don't be addin' to it."

Long trills followed, dripping one after another, each one laden with what could happen. Life and Death. Victory and Defeat. Defiance and Acquiescence. Both men seemed prepared for either, but while Finn couldn't see Bily's face, he could Kasoria's... and the old man still looked as bored as ever. Finally the hulking cunt who'd come after him snarled to himself and stomped back over to him. But he tossed away the weird, pronged tool he'd found, and instead snatched up Finn by the scruff.

"Yer lucky trial, wee cunt," he muttered as he tossed the boy back in his seat.

Kasoria dumped himself into the chair opposite him. He laid his arm on the table and barked over his shoulder, "Casper? Do it here. Need t'talk to the boy."

"Fuck am I gonna sit?"

"Where I was," Kasoria said to Billy, keeping his eyes on the boy. "Hang back until we needs ya."

More muttering, dark and ominous and childish. Kasoria ignored it. Ignored everything but the kid in front of him, even when Casper started to cut Randolf's dressing off his arm. The odd man who made his home in this wasteland of knickknacks made an appreciative little "hmm!" sound as he saw the blood and the carved open flesh. Kasoria started talking even as the stinking poultice was smeared onto it again.

"We know he was on the North Side, boy. But now he ain't. Because he's fuckin' around with Mister Vorund an' makin' trouble for him. So he's lookin' t'carve out his own chunk a' the South, which means he's here. Fer now, anyway."

The man spoke with his arm flayed open and sizzling grey sludge pressed into the tear. But his voice was slow and even, without much in the way of stumbling Finn would expect.

"And we know you know where. So give us an address. Give us a building number. Give us the tunnels under the place, any lookouts he's got, any friends he's got paid t'watch the place. And tell us where yer girl Betty is, cuz lemme tell ya, boy, once Sil learns we've got you, he'll be comin' straight for her."

He leaned forwards a little, ignoring Casper's annoyed tut-tutting. Fates, he was trying to work, here!

"Cuz that's what we'd do. We get her here, youse ain't gotta worry about them usin' her against ya. An' you got me word, we here won't hurt her."

Which, he supposed, was accurate enough. Billy, Vorund, Casper, himself, none of them nor any in this building would harm Betty... so they'd send word out and have someone else come and do it instead. So Kasoria spoke his half-truth with a face devoid of dishonesty, as much as he coiuld manage. Which wasn't hard, considering he was ore concerned with the fact Casper was sticking a needle in his arm now.

"Last one, Kas."

"Fuckin' wonderful." He kept his eyes on Finn, and poured them a shot into Billy's empty glass with his good arm. He slid it over, and took a straight slug from the bottle himself, nearly gagging on the taste. Helped with the pain, if nothing else. "Hurry the fuck up, boy. You waste our time all night, I'mma let Billy have a chat wiv' you, instead. Casper, what the fuck is this?"

"Flavored embalming liquid, Kas."

"Fuck did you flavor it for?"

"Wouldn't taste nice, if I didn't."

"But why would..."

Kasoria shook his head and the questions with it. He wasn't getting dragged into Casper's mind, not here, not now. He may never get out again.
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Re: According to plan

Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:47 pm

According to plan.

13th Zi'da, 716

He shriveled away into a dark corner, perhaps believing that if he couldn't spot Billy, the lumbering thug wouldn't be able to see him either. That hope was shattered at the sound of the firepoker being freed from the nail from which it hung, scraping against old brick, followed by the sound of Billy's snarled threats. His hand-me-down, worn too-small boots tripped over each other as he backed away until spine pressed into a bookshelf and remained glued to it. Billy's menacing shadow approached with plodding footsteps and an air of liqour on the brute’ s breath. Finn raised his arms in defense, shielding his head from the brunt of the blow and-

Billy’s boots scuffed against the hard floor as he came to a sudden halt. Casper let out an agitated noise as Kasoria hopped away from him and confronted Billy like a man reprimanding a disobedient pet.

Kasoria's voice sounded tired, annoyed, and more than a little unhinged, as though something about the raggedy man was on the verge of snapping. Finn made a move to the side but was snatched up by Billy's rough hand, seizing him by the scruff of his neck and forcing him back down into the chair. He wrinkled his nose at the scent from the poultice, swung his legs back and forth and only barely remained seated on the very edge of the chair. There wasn’t a hair on his head that considered jumping up again. Not with Billy sitting near the door, adding to his foul mood with fouler substances; not with Kasoria opposite of him, carved up like butcher’s pork yet still alive, still limping, still talking, still ignoring the rips and cuts on his dirtied skin. Casper dressed the killer’s wounds in silence, but Finn knew the man wouldn’t intervene if Kasoria reached the end of his patience and decided to put the pliers to good use.

Finn’s restless fidgeting was arrested by the mention of her. He knew exactly who Kasoria meant and needn’t look the murderer in the eye to know what would happen to her if he stayed his tongue. Unless...

“They’re on the West of the outer like,” he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. “Proper hidden like. The burned up place is just what they use for meetings and stuff, but this is the real place where Silv keeps his stuff.”

That ought to get their attention. Maybe they'd forget about Betty if he just told them where to go. He looked up then, meeting the killer’s eye for the first time in a long while. It didn't seem like a face that would forget about Betty easily and he wished he'd have never mentioned her. “You don’t want to go there. Silv's smarter than you, smarter than all of you... and you're dumber than you look if y'think I'll says where she is. I'm not stupid.” He certainly felt stupid though when the shortlived price of having defied the murderous little man had evaporated. Best not to dwell on it. Best to keep talking... but what was he gonna say? He could tell em where Silvester lived and betray his mentor or he could...

He lowered his gaze and fell silent for a moment, just long enough to make Billy growl impatiently. “Find Pike’s inn in the outer living quarter, and try not to get gutted on your way there. Then go ‘round the back. There’s a shed. Small like. Inside there’s some tools and a chest, but it’s empty. Underneath’s a trapdoor. It’s an old part of the underground that half the city has forgotten about, and the other half knows it’s closed off from the regular underground. They’re right. Pike’s shed is the only way in and out of that place… but you won’t make it out, I’m telling you- Can I go now?” he’d almost slipped off his chair now and was a mere inch away from standing up and bolting. “I have to pee…”

Kasoria was pressed for time, eager to draw blood and that would be his undoing as Finn had directed him straight into the den of a little known, violent little group of hooligans who relished in a good fight. Silvester had hired them when he'd needed professionals to clear out some undesirables or protect some valuables. The nameless brutes from Pike's were pretty good at what they did. Discrete too. Never left much of their victims, if Silvester was to be believed.
Last edited by Finnegan O'Connor on Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:21 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 811
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Re: According to plan

Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:13 am

The dice rattled against the wall like teeth knocked from some poor buggers mouth, and the two men held in an involuntary breath as they waited for them to settle. The stakes were coppers and it was the umpteenth time they'd tossed them, but they couldn't help it.

Even with Kasoria's restlessness and Casper's... oddity, they were Etzori. It didn't take much to get them excited about the prospect of a wager or three.

"Shit."

"Six, actually," Casper said, collecting the dice and the coins. "But I suppose it's much the same, given you lost."

"Sure youse ain't usin' loaded dice?"

"Wouldn't do me much good to tell you if I was, would it?"

Once again, Casper's guileless logic made it impossible for Kasoria to form a retort. That was the queer thing about Casper. He most definitely was a madman, the way he was so calm and chipper and reasonable while doing and discussing things that made even Kasoria retch... yet just as often, just as likely, he was as he was right now. Scatter-brained and bumbly, harmless as a lamb. Just an odd fellow that liked his knickknacks and privacy and-

Never goes into the light. Never lets people see his chalk skin and pink eyes. Smiles and jokes and peppers his speech with "oh, dear" and "my, my" and you believe it, you really do, right until he gets his hands on you.

"Shit..."

Casper chuckled and assumed Kasoria was conceding defeat. But that wasn't the case. His mind had been drawn from their game long enough to remember the world beyond the simple game of chance. The basement they were stuck in, the boy they were watching, the dripping water from a pipe even Casper couldn't quite find and the choking, stifling, endless silence all around them.

Kasoria's injuries weren't healing, they were still seeping, but he didn't care. He wanted to be out there, right now. On the cobbles and putting an end to that smug cunt that had tried to touch off a fucking war on the South Side. But that wasn't going to happen, and by Imperial Fucking Decree, no less.

"Told you before, Kas. You're wounded and limping and I'm not wasting you at half-speed, when we need all hands on deck. Stay down here, watch the boy, make sure he isn't yanking our cocks."

Thus sayeth Bangun Vorund, and Kasoria wasn't about to argue. All he could do was glare at a grinning Billy as the fat fuck followed their mutual master back up the stairs, flanked and surrounded and dwarfed by a veritable tide of armed muscle. Plenty of The Boys had been assembled, by the looks of things. Short swords and daggers, hatchets and skinning knives, cleavers and brass knuckles. But Kasoria, the Raggedy Man himself? Oh no, he was too fucking poorly.

Wouldn't be so fucking annoying if he wasn't right... about both things.

His wounds aside, Kasoria knew that they had to watch the Boy Finn, and not because they didn't have the heart to kill him. No, that was an amateur error: killing a man once he'd talked. A man would say anything to make the pain stop or the fear vanish; it took skill and practice to know when he was telling the truth. Betsy had been part of that, but the kid had been too smart for that... so instead, they were going with a more personal solution.

"Nah, you ain't movin', mate," Kasoria said, as Vorund and his squad made the floor trembles as they left. Casper and him looked down at the boy, still sitting from where Kasoria had shoved him down before when he'd tried to get up. "Gotta admit, youse were clever, not givin' us yer girl. I mean, she would a' been safe n' all, but you... well, you weren't takin' the chance, were ya?"

The assassin had smiled, revealing rows of teeth yellowed and black and gleaming sharp all at once. The sickly light from candles playing off jars of embalming fluid lit his face in hellish fashion. Casper was just... smiling. Genially. Almost apologetically... and his eyes were hungry.

"So now, we're gonna keep you here. Alive. Safe. So if they come back, an' youse were tellin' us a load a' shite..."

There was a hiss of metal on leather. Then the muted, polite sound of a blade being placed carefully on a table. The karambit. His new karambit. Kasoria smiled a little wider as he remembered what he'd done to that big cunt who'd tried to kill him with it. He didn't much relish the idea of using it on a boy barely up to his chin, but at the same time...

This is the game, and you wanted to play, an icy voice whispered in his mind. This is the life you wanted to live. That means it can kill you, too.

"I'll lert Billy have first crack at you. Now. Stop talking. Stop asking questions, and as fer yer pissing-"

His foot lashed out and a rusty bucket was kicked over to where Finn squatted.

"Enjoy."

That was two fucking breaks ago. Kasoria had paced and sat and read (Casper had some interesting if... esoteric, pamphlets stuffed onto some of his shelves) and Fates help him, even talking to Casper and now playing dice. Every attempt was a trill or two of distraction followed by long bits of boredom, and the tension hiding beyond it. No word. No messengers. No running feet belting down the stairs, no yelled message bringing news ill or fair.

"Another game, Kas?"

"Nah... Nah, I'm good fer now, Casper."

Kas and Cas. No wonder the Old Man doesn't have you in the same room that often.

He turned his gaze back to the kid, still sitting in the same chair, only with a bucket stained with fresh piss sitting next to him. Kasoria's glare alone was enough to tell the boy that trying to bolt wouldn't be wise. This was clearly not a man who'd have much issue with breaking a leg to keep him in place, or an arm to keep his docile. Those were beginner wounds. Preambles. Quick and easy as breathing.

Wood cracked against stone above them. As their heads turned, raised voices, questioning, querying-

-before a single roar shut them all down. The roar grew feet, stomping down the stairs. Brutal, irresistible, moving fast until it seemed to be shaking the walls and then the doors flung open-

Bangun Vorund stood there. With blood on his brow, and less men with him returned, than he had when leaving.

"Mist-"

The crime boss didn't speak. He locked eyes on the Boy Finn with all the relentless inhumanity of a hawk picking one dove out of a hundred it would murder. He made a beeline for the kid, not taking his eyes off him. Kasoria was already limping over, Casper covered his mouth in childish shock and Vorund's face was fast-moprhing into a demon's snarl of fury as-

"You little-"

-scooped up the bucket by the handle as he swept by-

"-fucking-"

-swung it at Finn's skull-

"-BASTARD!"

-and knocked the child clear off his chair with a curse that could have killed with hatred alone. Finn went sprawling, peppered with urine and blood, and Vorund hurled the bucket at the nearest collection of glass and wood. Jars and bottles shattered under the blow and with a twist of his wrist, a meticulously-cleaned wrist blade snapped out from its sheath. His other hand reached down and grabbed the boy by the hair, knife-arm cocked back and aimed at Finn's eye-

"Boss, what the fuck-"

"He fucking lied to you, what the fuck do you think?!" If Vorund was angry before, he was several days from furious now. "That place behind Pike's? Some fuckin' crew a' lunatics was down there! They sicced dogs on us, fer fuck's sake! Threw oil bombs into the sewer! Billy an' Jonesy an' Tasker, they're fuckin' dead!"

"Boss, if y'kill the kid, he can't tell us-"

"Fuck the kid, an' fuck what he can tell us." Vorund yanked Finn's head back even harder, so hard and so far he thought his neck might snap. The smell of dried blood and smoky lungs overwhelmed him, the older racketeer's merely inches away, and his blade was even closer. "I'm thinkin' I take his eyes an' his ears an' hands an' have him stumble back t'Silvester, tellin' everyone he meets who fucking did this to him, and why."

The boredom was gone, at least. Now Kasoria was as helpless as Finn, in his way. Just a bystander as Vorund and a clutch of surviving gangers eager for vengeance surrounded the boy.

"Gimme one fuckin' good reason why I shouldn't do that, boy? Or let these lads take turns wiv' youse?"
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Finnegan O'Connor
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Re: According to plan

Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:20 pm

According to plan.

13th Zi'da, 716

Seated stiffly on the chair, afraid to move an inch, barely courageous enough to breathe, Finn played a different game of dice in his head. The mercs under Pike had several feral dogs covered in scabs and disease, breeded specially for their vicious teeth, hulking muscle and compact mass. They’d been on iron chains the last and only time he’d seen them, and he hadn’t any desire to see the snarling, drooling creatures or their owners ever again.

Silvester paid them well. Double-rate or more to keep his valuables secure or to protect his interests or to open up new lines of business altogether by cutting out the old. The dogmasters had only one amicable trait which they happened to share with their pets.

Loyalty.

That was what Silvester had bought when he’d moved his valuables over to Pike’s. That and over a dozen of broad-shouldered, trained and disciplined thugs equipped with brass knuckles, clubs, pickaxes, daggers, shivs, and even the odd crossbow and oil bomb.

Finn weighted the grizzly men of Pike’s against the stone-faced killers that Vorund had gathered. Vorund would catch ‘em by surprise, but he wouldn’t be fighting on his own turf. With luck the whole lot would tear each other to shreds and the neighbourhoods on the West and South would be a great deal safer for it.

Aye. He was practically a hero, saving the city from itself-

The sound of heavy footsteps shattered his dream. They were fast moving, careless, heavy, plodding-like and there weren’t as many as had marched off two bells ago. Despite Kasoria’s death-stares, despite the threat of the karambit on the table, Finn jumped up from his chair and the door was nearly thrown from its hinges an instant later.

He jumped back but the hawk’s beady eyes were already upon him and-

A trill later he careened toward the floor and was picked up from it just as quickly. His head lulled to one side from the blow while a dark stain pooled in a patch of hair that Vorund wasn’t tearing loose. Ammonia stung his nostrils, ammonia and the scent of smoke and blood and a stiff, cold air that Vorund had brought in with him. He let out a sharp yelp and clasped Vorund’s gloved wrist with both hands, clinging to the cold, merciless bone like a wretched beggar clinging to the arm of a noble, begging for aid.

“I didn’t lie!” he cried out. “I swear, I swear! I told ‘im not to go, I told him!” His eyes, swimming with desperation, landed on the Saint Kasoria who could absolve him of his sins and set things right. “I says you wouldn’t get out if ya went in, I says you wouldn’t get back, listen-” A pained grimace wrinkled his face as he was forced to stand on the tip of his toes by the hand that clutched his hair like the greens on a carrot ripe for plucking. “He kept everything there. Books, money, arms, plans. Everything! Can’t do anything without ‘em. If you- if you killed them all he won’t have anything l-left!” he stammered. “He’s beaten I says. You got what you wanted!”

He knew that wasn’t true. They wanted Silvester. Wanted his head on a platter. Maybe Cas could make it into a shriveled head, bottle it and put it on one of his shelves. Nothing else would satisfy them.

Finn’s puffy eyes tore free from Kasoria and gawked up at the black dots squeezed underneath Vorund’s wrinkled, sun-beaten brow. His legs trembled as though the winter cold itself had grasped him while his nails dug into the big boss’s leather.

“I- I can show you where he l-lives…” Finn croaked miserably. Not even the thought that Billy's gut had been spilled and torn to bits by rabid dogs in a dark and damp underground hall could console him.

"I didn't lie..." he added feebly.
word count: 708
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Kasoria
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Re: According to plan

Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:42 am

Kasoria knew his place. He knew, he'd seen, how one hated the very concept of such a thing. To have the whole vastness of success and mystery before you, yet plant your feet in one spot and say "this is good enough for me". That was the problem with language: it either didn't convey enough, or made no allowance for context.

His context for this moment, was that he was not in any position to plant his feet anywhere else that wouldn't get them lopped off. Because the world he inhabited had rules, and protocols, and hierarchy, and consequences for foolish actions. Much like the world figuratively above them, only far more unforgiving.

You lied, boy. You had a chance to come clean, help us out, and find a new crew to run with. But you lied, and worse than that, your lie didn't kill the Old Man.

In the underworld, the only true crime was losing. Now Kasoria was looking at a young man who had gambled, and lost. His marker was being pulled in, and though Finn practically screamed at the older killer, begged him with his eyes, voice growing more frayed with every moment... the Raggedy Man held himself back. He stayed quiet, and still, and finally he shook his head.

"Yes, you did. You leave things out, that's lying. You send men into the dark not knowing what's waiting, when you do know, that's a lie." His voice was low and quiet, gutter accent fading since he was careful to say every word with weight. "You gambled. You lost."

The man shrugged. A quick bob of his shoulders. Up and down, light and airy, as if the atrocities that Vorund would visit upon the soft flesh of the child were but a purse lost to the roll of a dice. Inwardly the killer quailed at the prospect of having to watch Vorund wreak his justice, but he steeled as much as he girded. This was no innocent bystander, and his place was by his master.

"Books. Money. Arms. Plans. Fuckin' wank."

Vorund's own reply was far less measured. He grabbed hold of the boy's lapel and spun him around, tossing him backwards into a chair. Before the kid's body had properly settled into the chair, two sets of beefy hands, still stinking of dry blood and burning oil, grabbed his biceps and wrists, holding him down and in place. The gang lord loomed in front of him, light behind his head making his face nothing but a black void of shadow... aside from his eyes. Oh, Finn could see those quite well. Burning like coals in the depths of The Bad Place.

"I've already got shite like that, you fuckin' idiot. Y'think I go raidin' cunts like Silvester fer that bollocks? I wanted blood. I wanted bodies. I wanted that cunt's head on a stick for all t'fuckin' see, and instead, what do I get?" His free hand reached up and held Finn's chin steady, squeezing hard enough to kill any words. "Fuck what you know. More lies, s'all it'll be-"

"Boss, if the kid does know-"

Vorund whirled on the diminutive assassin that stepped forward, hulking thugs parting for him in a way that would tell even the most ignorant of newcomers that this little man held more fear than one would assume, and he did not see such. He knew of old how to deal with Kasoria. He knew his skills, his ruthlessness, the cunning mind he hid behind simplicity and silence, and that annoying fucking soft streak that started... somewhere else, long ago.

And today, he was in no fucking mood to debate with the help.

"If it were anyone else, Kas," the old man growled, gesturing with his wrist blade, first at Kasoria, then at the kid. "Anyone that hadn't helped yeh yesterday, anyone that was old enough to tug his cock properly, anyone else that had already got my lads killed and my name fucked bloody... what would you expect me t'fucking do?"

There was silence, save for breathing. Slow and heavy and laborious, from large men with hefty lungs to fill. Quick and studious, from Casper, watching all unfold and biting his nails. Fast, ragged, almost snorting, from both Child and Gangster, passions and hatreds flaring high within either. Only the Killer was calm. Thoughts retreating into that cold, pristine place where his precious fucking morality was not welcome. Where the world of Etzos and the rules of the underworld held sway.

He lied. He hoped they'd die. And if he lied once...

Kasoria sighed, shook his head briefly, and remembered his place. At his master's side. Then he looked flat into Finn's eyes and said-

"Take one of his eyes. Then ask him one more time. He lies again, we'll take-"

Commotion. Raised voices. No clanging of steel but enough aggression in the air that by the time Kasoria turned to the door, his hands were already filled with metal. Barely-bound wounds screeched under their dressings, but he ignored them, gladius and karambit leaping into his grip. Fates Fuckery, would Silvester attempt an assault?! Surely not. Not in the Commercial Fucking District! Bu there it was, the sound of furious shouting and-

"You cannae go inGRRRRRK-"

"Shite."

The doors swung open and the gaggle of wounded, angry, bleeding thugs was bathed in lamplight from above... and there were three figures silhouetted by it. Vorund and Finn and Kasoria were frozen before the gangster's squad of survivors, stooped and threatening, seated and sobbing, standing and implacable. All but Finn now turned to face the new threat, for that was what it was, if they'd so brazenly forced their way down here-

Kasoria saw Little Reggie on his knees outside, holding his throat and retching. But not dead. Just wounded. He frowned and then caught the outline of the central figure. Applied it almost immediately to memory... and then groaned out loud of for all to hear. Especially her.

Vorund echoed the sound as the woman stopped before him, underlings flanking her.

"Girl? I am not in the fucking mood for you today..."

Kasoria decided he wasn't being overly scrutinized, and dared to wince openly. Definitely not how he would have opened the conversation with this particular Blackjack.
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Finnegan O'Connor
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Re: According to plan

Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:55 pm

According to plan.

13th Zi'da, 716

His mind reeled with the senses forced upon him. Vorund's bony clutch made his cheek fat bulge under his eyes while a stinking streak trickled down one side of his face, chased by a darker red. His head buzzed and throbbed and cold sweat pooled in the crevice of his chin, mingling with a drizzle of runny snot. The chair squeaked across the damp floor as he tipped dangerously far to one side before being straightened out by the machine-like hands that had bolted him in place. The knife flashing before his eyes promised retribution. A hand, an eye, an ear, maybe two of each wrapped in a nice little giftbox for Silvester. The last thing he’d see would be those dark, menacing eyes boring into him. The last sound he’d remember would be his own wretched voice cursing the men that would strip him of all senses.

It was better to feel. Better to feel the swell on the side of his head, better to hear the harsh voice of Vorund and the heavy breathing of his beaten underlings, better to feel his digits tremble behind his back. Better to feel them all at once than to not feel at all and be forever cast into a beggar’s life: decrepit, wretched, and marred for the remainder of his days until hunger or sickness claimed him.

His nostrils flared as he drew in a sharp, messy breath sounding like an old man slobbering on his morning porridge. “I told you not to go,” he repeated without the faintest trace of hope left in his voice. Fear had run its course. Quick and effective poison it was, addling the mind with destructive force, but it never lasted long.

His eyes landed on Kasoria with a vengeance. “You didn’t listen,” he said. “I saved your life. I saved. Your. Life!” Now his gaze returned to the Big Boss. “I would’ve saved all your miserable lives if he-” he motioned his head toward Kasoria, “had listened! I TOLD YOU NOT TO GO!” The chair raked an inch across the stone before he was restrained again and-

The rickety door nearly flew off its hinges. Vorund turned, Kasoria turned, even the big boys holding him turned. It was difficult to make out anything more than a lump of shapes drawn against the vale light bleeding down the stairway behind the door. More of Vorund’s minions? More Bad News?

Definitely Bad News for the Southern crook and his cronies by the sound of it, but Good News for him. He’d spotted the door at the other end of the cellar while Kas and Cas had been playing dice. By his estimation it’d lead back out onto the street. Hadn’t had the chance to try yet. Not until now. The momentary slipping of attention was all he needed to-

The chair flew back, bounced off the portly belly of a Mean Man. He stomped on the toes of the other, darted forward and-

Was made weightless the next moment as familiar hands scooped him up and swung him around, his kicking legs hovering inches above the ground before he was put down and held firmly in place by a hairy arm around his waist and another killing an avalanche of curses in their tracks as it locked around his throat. “Oh no you’se don’t…”

He couldn’t see the figures that had entered uninvited, but the irritation in Vorund’s voice was unmistakable.

Girl?

And then ‘girl’ opened her mouth, and whatever bravado Finnegan O’Connor had managed to muster sank to black, unreachable depths.

“Dear fuckin’ diary,” A too-sweet voice he heard in Nightmares both sleeping and waking curdled in his head. “It is a cold, miserable Zi’da afternoon. My name is Bangun Vorund and I have just discovered, to my incredible disbelief, that I am a reigning crime boss of the Etzori underworld. I woke up this morning, looked down at hands that can’t be mine, pass a hallway filled with hardened, brutal thugs and think, “Oh god, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing! Is this even my body? How am I going to get out? What if the prior owner of this sacred vessel-” The voice dipped so fast it would have snapped its neck if it had one. “-had brazenly ordered the deaths of five people for kicks.”

There was an unmistakable irony in Fiona bloody O’Connor accusing a sly and brutal mind like Vorund’s of murder as though he was some child to be chided. There wasn’t any difference between how she talked to him and how she addressed the crime boss that had only just returned from fighting maniacs with pikes and left a bloody mess of mangled intestines behind.

He writhed. Tried to say something, but a large, filthy hand clasped over his mouth, letting only faint, struggling breathing noises come through. The adults were talking now.
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