• Solo • Below Notice

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
Approved Character
Posts: 1461
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Profession: Horrible Bastard
Renown: +935
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Wealth Tier: Tier 5
Medal count: 7

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Below Notice

Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:26 pm

30th trial, Zi'da, 720
The Underground



"I can hear yeh out there, ol' man. Dun' fink I can't..."

The shuffling was minute. No greater than a rat's. But long arcs in dark places had sharpened the old bat's hearing beyond the norm. He sometimes tested her, and himself, by softening his approach as much as he could. Mindful of every step, every shifting of his muscles and swish of fabric and leather and metal about his person. To date, he'd yet to get the drop on her. He breathed a curse, but it came with a rueful smile. Fine assassin he made: can't even sneak up on a harmless old lady... but still, it was impressive.

"One trial," Kasoria said as he stepped into the sparse light of the chamber. "I'll spook yeh."

"Huh. Well..." Old eyes turned to him. One of them milky-white and dead. "Until that trial, eh?"

Her nostrils quivered as another sense sprang into action. Roasted meat and onions. Quite a treat, for this "part" of town. As Kasoria got closer to where the woman sat, he revealed the package under his cloak. A modest hunk of meat, brown and still smoking, like the onions under it. Bread and cheese wrapped in cheap cloth along with it. Hunger rose in that single eye and Kasoria knew with detached certainty, that he had her.

Hunger. Desperation. More reliable than greed. Greed can be brought by someone else. Survival, though... that cleans out all the lies.

"Kind of yeh."

"Aye, dat's me," the Raggedy Man said as he squatted next to her, this even older woman with her cant belongings and pitiful little fire. "Overflowin' wi' warmth."

They shared a chuckle, those two cynical souls. Jaded in a way only a lifetime of cruelty and coldness could grant one. For a while they ate in silence, the woman sneaking looks over her food as she did. One eye or not, she didn't miss much. Neither did Kasoria. After a few moments, he spoke without looking at her.

"Cannae exactly hide me magic anymore, can I?"

"Yuh've got eyes on yer hands an' eyes black as pitch. Wada youse think?"

"This is the cost," he said, holding up his free hand and summoning one of his Sparks into it. Light and flowing, smoky ether sprouted from his palm. Curled around his fingers and raced down his arm at his command. "Gives yeh power. Takes some of who y'are."

"Wurf it though, eh?"

Kasoria didn't answer. He looked stonily at the woman and sent a thrill of Abrogation through the air towards her. She felt... something, caress her cheeks. As if some vast, intangible serpent or tentacle has rubbed against his face in mid-flight, all hard muscle and killing will, then vanished. Kasoria caught the flicker of fear on her face. Something she couldn't see, that. Nor smell nor hear.

Greed. Hunger. Fear. So many ways.

"Someone told me youse know who I wanna talk to. Someone who's been workin' down on the river. Wi' the spider's people." Well-cooked meat and fat crunched between his teeth as he tore another hunk out. "Someone who used t'come back, but ain't now. Apart from one time. One time he was... changed."

The old woman deflated at that, but not because of him. Memories bitter and hard and poisonous washed through her face, making her whole ragged visage slump. She sighed into the little flames at her feet. Small coals, barely kept alive by her prodding and a steady supply of trash. She shivered, not entirely from the cold.

"He was a good boy. Good as yeh could be down 'ere. Wanted t'get out, a'course. Be better. Make more coin, more uv' hisself. Found work on the river an'... an' I was happy for him. Even if it was fer them." She looked dead at him then. Unafraid. Buoyed by that fierce pride, that love only blood could lend you. "They had coin when we needed it. When he needed it. So I didn't care. Until..."

"Until he was marked. Then yeh cared."

"I... I never thought he'd... be so stupid..."

The coals glowed and the din from the tunnels broke their silence. Kasoria didn't have comforting words for her. She knew him well enough not to expect them. He was good at asking the right questions to the right people, and as a fellow trafficker in information (if for personal rather than professional ends), she knew about him. What he was. What he believed. The lengths he would and had gone to already, to see his will wrought across Etzos.

One man against an Immortal. But still he fights. Knowing it will end him.

"Yeh been speakin' t'me fer a while now. Knowing what I'm doin'. Who I'm killin'. So yeh must have known... one trial... it'd be him. So why tell me?"

She didn't look up from the flames. She saw a face younger and stronger and happier than hers. The echo of her own blood.

"I... I hoped he would come back..."

Kasoria sighed and finished his meal. He tossed the cloth into the fire, and it flared higher and brighter and hotter for a moment. Every crevice and crease of their weathered faces made real and clear as they beheld each other again. Now his eyes held no amusement. He would not insult his elder by pretending compassion. What followed was all the mercy he had left.

"He won't. Y'ain't the only one I spoke to. But yer the only one who knows where." Something else came from under his cloak. A small purse, but with nothing but gold inside it. "Enough t'eat fer the season an' then come. Firewood, too. Thick clothes. Yeh'll see another arc, I'd w-"

"Yeh think I want to, Raggedy Man?"

The fire died. His face became a mask of shadows again, flickering and shifting like monsters warring across it. When he spoke one last time, she barely saw his lips at al. But his eyes never wavered. She knew that even with but one eye.

"I think yeh'll take the money."
word count: 1062

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Prefers a trimmed beard and mustache

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
User avatar
Kasoria
Approved Character
Posts: 1461
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Profession: Horrible Bastard
Renown: +935
Character Sheet
Secrets
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5
Medal count: 7

Contribution

RP Medals

Re: Below Notice

Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:22 pm

Two trials prior


"Found summin' you'll wanna know, Kas."

He'd learned that how people said things mattered as much as what they said. Most times they weren't even aware of it. But the nuance and hidden meaning was there, if the listener kept his ears sharp enough. The little man sidling up next to him, though? He was smart enough to know that, too. He wouldn't waste his time with wild rumors and half-known truths. The stakes were too high for that.

Not should know. Want to know.

"Aye?"

He drained the rest of his cup and Frenlip adroitly slid it away from him a moment later. The barkeep wasn't one to keep his bar cluttered, after all. Between drunks with diminished muscle control, wild carousing and far from occasional brawls, he'd have a floor full of smashed pewter and clay if he was. Around the two men, the tavern drank and laughed and gossiped and ate and sang and argued on like it always did. It was easy to think they were forgotten, overlooked, even ignored. But the quite noticeable circle of open air around Kasoria in an otherwise packed house was telling all by itself.

They'd been reminded what he was capable of. Why he was the Raggedy Man of urban myth.

"Been askin' questions t'folks that might know fings. 'bout... her."

Kasoria blinked slowly and waited for more. He hated that, in Etzos, the name of an Immortal had to be hinted at rather than spoken aloud without fear. But the city he'd grown up in was no longer the same. Not just ravaged and depopulated, but now held in thrall to one of those mutated monsters. Sintra was now a name muttered only in places the word would not carry to her legion of tiny ears and eyes. Even here, in Slim Jim's, a bastion of the old Etzori spirit known across the town, there was... trepidation.

Once again, he swore that would not endure. He would take his city back. Restore its courage and its pride. But to do that...

"Y'mentioned she had business onna' river. Where the waters flow into the city. Well... found out about some lads workin' on the shores for her. Some of 'em are even marked."

Kasoria blinked again, lips curling slowly into a grimace. Frenlip seemed to read his mind, and shrugged helplessly.

"I know. Ain't like it was."

"Kids should fuckin' know better. Who's been teachin' them this shite?"

"No-one, cuz their people're mostly dead, remember?" Frenlip sighed and idly polished the patch of marble and wood in front of him. A timeless meditation for bartenders the multiverse over. "Kids growin' t'men an' women now, they were raised inna ashes a' the siege. They saw all the horrible shite that happened an' they saw Sintra come in an' save them." He threw up his hands before Kasoria's deathly glare even finishing rising. "Dat's what they think! That's what they know, or fink they know! So... that's what they're actin' on. Morties ain't the enemy t'them. Not like they should be."

Kasoria swallowed that fact down and did not enjoy the taste. He was right, of course. There was a generation of young Etzori coming of age that knew more of siege and plague and war and horror and despair than any in their history. What had saved them at the end of it? The arms and courage of the Etzori people? No. Not to their eyes. It was the generosity and goodness - Fates damn him for even thinking that - of an Immortal. Who led their battered armies to Rhakros to raze and burn and slaughter their enemies? Who brought the ether back to their mages and gave them power again? Who had helped rebuild their city, asking naught but a place to rest and not interfere?

Who else?

"Where?"

"Well... dat's a wee harder t'know. S'up on the river t'the north, so I hear. Few of 'em come in here now an' then. Booze an' gamble, even show their marks now an' then. Once I got their names, I could ask about 'em. One in particular... I know his family."

"Who?"

Frenlip told him. Kasoria listened with a frown, some hidden memory trying to resurrect itself from the sludge of his mind. By the time he'd finished speaking, it had resurfaced completely. A name and a face to go with it. One older than the time since the siege; one that he'd known, for she grew up on the South Side much like he had. If a generation removed, thereabouts. Frenlip was silent again and yet Kasoria did not reply. He'd been busy rifling through his mind and listing places she might be, where she could be found, mostly in the Underground. That was where Kasoria was finding a new talent, first honed in his freelance years, polished and expanded as he worked for Vorund for ten solid arcs, then only increasing as he returned home and became his own master, the strategist and sword in his own war.

Intelligence. Information. Finding people and information and places and putting it all together. Now he had another piece. Another link in a chain.

He got up from his chair and slid the cloak back over his head. Jet black eyes peered down at Frenlip and glittered as he nodded.

"Thank yeh. Me an' her'll 'ave a chat 'bout 'er boy."

"She might not wanna give 'im up, Kas. He's blood."

Kasoria sighed and started to walk away.

"Seems that don't mean as much as it used to..."
word count: 969

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Prefers a trimmed beard and mustache

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
User avatar
Kasoria
Approved Character
Posts: 1461
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Profession: Horrible Bastard
Renown: +935
Character Sheet
Secrets
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5
Medal count: 7

Contribution

RP Medals

Re: Below Notice

Thu Jan 14, 2021 2:42 am

He knew of the North Woods, but he didn't know them. If you follow.

Oh, he'd "worked" there a few times. There'd been on plenty of contracts or assignments that took him beyond the Big Rock that was the city of Etzos. Some of them took him to the vast swathes of trees north of the city, rising like a natural bulwark against the snow and hills towards the top of Idalos. He didn't know much about the lands beyond that impenetrable forest. Hiladrith, yes. Sirothelle, somewhat. Valaris? Just stories and tales. Never seen with his own eyes. In fact, all he'd seen of the North Woods had been the copses and sparse trails where he'd either hunted prey or protected potential prey from others.

He'd never been there for himself, as it were. On his own initiative. Which was unsurprising to him, to be honest. Why else would he be this far from the cobbles and alleys and tunnels and sooty air of his home?

Because this is where it's happening. This is where she's poisoning us.

He guessed it was a logging camp, long ago. He guessed maybe twenty or thirty men called it home, judging by the size and profile of the long house made of old timber. Judging by the size of the rudely-built dock jutting out a little into the fast-flowing Southwood River, he was guessing it saw quite a bit of traffic. Probably loading up huge, simple, flat barges with logs and trunks for slow passage downriver so it could be whittled and cut and carved into building material. And by the lights he could see now, burning in the deep black of a wilderness night... he'd guess there were plenty there now.

A lot of guessing. More than he liked. Enough to put him in a foul mood. But he knew the creatures he stalked had their familiars, their webs, their eyes and ears tethered to a thousand watching eyes in tiny bodies. He couldn't risk getting too close, knowing they'd likely have an all-but-invisible perimeter of lookouts in position.

So there he squatted. In a mess of nettles and dead trees upriver, watching dark figures move with industrious determination.

This was the place Ryanda had told him about. The place her grandson had mentioned, talked about, even boasted of. Not the exact location, but he was... still quite the neophyte when it came to little things like "operational secrecy". The fact he was even allowed back to his old stomping grounds was puzzling enough to Kasoria. He was lucky the young fool hadn't already gotten scratched by someone like him, who saw slitting Morty-lover throats as somewhere between civic duty and personal imperative. But come back he had, and talked he had. Perhaps to talk around his granny to his way of thinking; mayhap just impress her with how far he'd "risen" in the world.

Wrong way to look at it.

There was a burst of noise from the camp. Loud, angry, commanding. An overseer if ever there was one. A figure came stomping out of the nearest cabin and berated a clutch of head-bowed souls, all silent as he heaped curses on them. He pointed to a barrel they'd dropped, and the substance oozing out of it. Even at this distance, Kasoria's keen eyes could see the odd sheen the stars and moon cast upon it. Not water. Not oil. Something in-between, maybe?

He snorted softly. That was confirmation enough for him. Oberan had told him plenty about Sintra's minions doping the water of Etzos, silently, insidiously perverting her people with every drop they drank. Making them docile, compliant... obedient. Ripe for an Immortal. So of course, they wouldn't want any wasted. He kept watching as the men went back to work, overseer still cursing as he slouched away. He saw flickers in the shadows, too. Lookouts and scouts in the darkness around the once-abandoned camp. Heard horses behind the cabins, probably how they ferried in the barrels of evil slop to this crucial spot.

He saw all of this, and what he didn't see he could guess at. But ultimately, the outcome would be the same. What he had to do would not change. But the how, and in what order...

You need to get over there and butcher the cunts. But before you get close enough, the alarm will be raised. You know it. Tricky cunts always have spies watching. So... where does that leave you?

Kasoria smiled softly, and stole from the treeline. Moving from shadow to shadow, sliding through the snow in long, steady strides so not to crinkle and crush it too much. He unlimbered his bow and notched an arrow without really thinking about it. All those breaks of training in Rharne had paid off; he'd already learned that since returning. His quiver was full and his eyes were keen... and yes, there were enough lamps and torches in the camp to light up his targets.

Arrogant bastards. They don't think anyone's stupid or mad enough to come for them way up here.

The living exception to that smiled, and stalked closer. A couple of figures were at a fire on the edge of the camp, close to the frozen river. Passing a bottle back and forth. Chatting. Trying to keep warm. More focused on shivers and numb fingers than the ludicrous possibility of being attacked so far from that nest of heretics they called home. Kasoria smiled a little wider, and began to draw.

Good enough place to start...

Continued here
word count: 964

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Prefers a trimmed beard and mustache

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
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