• Graded • [Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Pledge. Turn. Prestige.

With the escalation of hostilities between Etzos and Rhakros, a series of small walled towns is being established as a network of early warnings and defenses against Rhakros' reprisals. Only the very bravest and most formidable of characters should risk themselves on the Witches' Wilds frontier.

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Finnegan O'Connor
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:13 am

The Pledge


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Foster's Landing - 19th Cylus, 718


There was little difference between day and night in Cylus, only that the latter was even colder than the former. Finn had approached the meeting spot shivering and hugging himself tightly, occasionally stopping to blow hot air against his freezing digits. There was nary a soul about on frozen cobblestreets, and he would’ve much preferred to speak outside if it hadn’t been so shitting cold. The trials before he’d often wondered if Ivanthe would even show up. The youngster had seemed a little jumpy and Finn didn’t have a cinnamon roll on him to buy time and loyalty with either. He certainly hoped the boy would be there. He’d make a good price to bring home to Mr. Tagley: a cherry on the proverbial cake, so to speak. But there was more to it than that. No one could replace Molly, and his conversations with Ivanthe were little more than polite interrogations so far, yet still he couldn’t entirely discard a feeling of faint kinship with the strange, skinny boy. Not that he’d soon admit it. In truth, he didn’t say much to Ivanthe at all as they reconvened, save for a stammered greeting and the suggestion to find a warmer place to talk.

Not much later, Finn pushed through the door of a small, crowded inn and waded through a sea of legs, urging Ivanthe to follow his example. After he’d squeezed past the ragtag armour of some rogue or another, there came a bait of fresh air, not yet poisoned by the scent of ale or the bitter taste of smoke. He quickly spotted an empty table in the corner where the shadows from the main hearth were the longest and strode over to claim the seats. A place closer to the fire would’ve been nicer, though there was some advantage to sitting in the shadows too. At any rate it was far better to be inside than to wander through the Zi’da cold.

Unlike Zipper, who’d simply drag him off to the Etzos underground without much explanation, Finn was all too aware of the question that undoubtedly occupied Ivanthe’s mind, and he was quick to answer it. “We’re here cause I don’t want either of us to freeze to death,” he explained before Ivanthe had even had the chance to plonk his frozen bum down at the other end of the round, wobbly table. “Besides as long as we don’t draw too much attention to ourselves…” he let the noise of the inn - the laughter, the drunken chatter, the sound of sloshing ale do the rest of the work for him. “It’s safe. Wasn’t meanin’ to tell you much secret-like anyway.”

After having scanned the establishment to make doubly sure no strange glances were being shot in their direction, Finn took off his mittens and rubbed his hands furiously before turning to Ivanthe with a curious twinkle in his eyes. “And?” he asked in a hoarse voice. “Made up your mind ‘bout Etzos?”
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Ivanthe
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:02 pm

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They met again by darkness, wrapped tight in the slicing chill of Cylus. Ivanthe had grown used to not being able to feel his body, though today was so cold that numbness was becoming actual pain; he had almost argued himself out of coming for the sole purpose of staying next to his little fire.

Almost.

It wasn’t easy finding Finnigan in the darkness, but through luck they managed to join up on one of the less crowded streets. Finn, thankfully, was just as cold as Ivanthe; the older boy stammered a question, the younger one stammered an agreement, and the two of them fled for the warm light of a nearby tavern.

Firelight and pressed bodies filled the building with heat, washing over Ivanthe like water and dragging out a quiet, relieved sigh. Finnigan threaded their way to a corner, where there was an empty table and enough room for them to breathe their own air. When they sat, Ivanthe took a moment so simply bask in the tavern warmth, unbothered by the smell of stale ale and sweat.

While he had certainly debated whether or not to meet Finn ever since the nights on the hill, it had been more a mental exercise than a real need to decide. Ivanthe had survived this long on hunches, and as soon as he’d heard the offer, he’d had a hunch he would take it.

He also had a hunch that there was more at stake on Finnigan’s end than simply wanting an extra set of quick hands, but that was neither here nor there. If anything, it made Ivanthe even more keen to hear him out; if he was valuable, he had something to bargain with.

Besides, though he hadn’t yet admitted it out loud, he had liked taking the chest. The sharp thrill of the steal was unlike anything he’d felt, but there was still a cutting voice that demanded he feel ashamed. Every person he had ever known would have punished him, he assumed, or called him wicked for daring to enjoy it even a little bit of stealing––except for Finnigan. Finnigan approved of it, but more than that, Ivanthe could see that he knew exactly how good it felt.

Ivanthe put his heels on the edge of the seat, pulling his knees to his chest to quicken the process of warming up. “I’ll be going to Etzos soon,” he replied, scratching at a splinter in the table. “Very soon. In fact I don’t think you and I will talk for awhile after this. But not forever. When the sun comes up again I think I will visit the outer towns. It feels strange being in one place for too long.”

Ivanthe set his chin on his knees, and with some effort dragged his eyes up to meet Finn’s. “I thought about what you said. What I did on the hill… I can do it again, I think.” I’d like to, he didn’t add. “There are things I still don’t know, but I’m good at talking to people. Learning things.”

His eyes dropped again. He wasn’t quite sure what he was saying, but he knew he couldn’t just come out and say, you want something from me and I want to hear more because I want something from you. He had never been at a negotiating table before, barely even had the concept that such a thing existed, but he did know one thing: somehow, there was a deal to be made here and he didn’t know how to get to it.

“I can bring things to Etzos if you need,” he offered after a few moments, though that wasn’t exactly what he wanted to offer. “I don’t know anyone there yet, though. There’s a lot I don’t know about Etzos. I’m still getting used to being in a town. I’m used to traveling, not staying put.”
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Finnegan O'Connor
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:48 pm

The Pledge


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Foster's Landing - 19th Cylus, 718


Finn followed Ivanthe’s every movement with a hawkish stare, attempting to guess the boy’s motivations behind each. Most could simply be explained as either fidgeting, or attempts to banish whatever cold still lingered in his frame, but Ivan’s averted gaze was telling. Could be shyness. Could be hiding something. Could be overwhelmed by the sounds and smells of the tavern. Could be a million other things too. Finn soon gave up trying to read the boy as he rested his elbows on the table and pressed his fingertips together. “I’m sure you’d succeed,” he answered with a faint smile. Half-truths were the best lies. He wondered what bussiness Ivanthe had in Etzos, outside of what he planned on providing, but there was something more peculiar still about what the boy had said. It was strange being in one place for too long? Nomad or not, Finn suspected there was more to that statement than Ivanthe was willing to let on. Half the time he had travelled, he’d been trying to get away from something or someone. He wondered if…

While Ivanthe spoke, one question kept crossing Finn’s mind like a voice echoing in an abandoned cave: Ivanthe spoke of his future plans as though he was the mastermind behind them, a wholly unremarkable feat if not for his age and the lack of mention of his mother or father. No, he’d spoken about his plans without the slightest hesitation and Finn grew increasingly suspicious that either Ivanthe’s parents were blind, deaf, and dumb or, more likely, they simply didn’t exist. All children had fathers and mothers, and those that had tended to keep a closer eye on their children.

“What can I get ya?”

Finn flinched at the sudden, nasal voice. A woman in her late thirties armed with a teatowel and stern gaze stood next to their table, casually drying a mug with a teatowel as she waited to take their order.

“Tea.” Finn improvised.

She arched an eyebrow at him, and the mug and teatowel were soon forgotten. Even her overworked, buzzed head could sense that something was awry here. Two children in the busiest tavern in Foster’s just a bell before midnight who wanted tea? Finn rummaged in his pocket and preemptively slammed a few silvers on the table, showing they could afford what he’d ordered.

“Tea…” she repeated slowly, her eyes narrowing.

“Is there a problem?”

She seemed to think there were numerous problems with this picture, but settled on the least significant one. “Are you two together?”

“Aye,” Finn spoke before Ivanthe had a chance to complicate the matter.

Her eyes darted between the two of them, shining with terrifying motherly instincts. Perhaps coming to this place hadn’t been the brightest idea after all.

“Miss?”

“Hmm?”

“We’d like our tea, please,” Finn insisted. She tore her gaze away from Ivanthe, though she failed to wipe the concern from her face as she turned to Finn. “Yes…” she mumbled. “Yes, of course!”

As soon as she’d disappeared between the other guests, Finn rolled his eyes silently at Ivanthe. “You must get that alot too,” he sighed. “Anyway, there is something you could take to Etzos, but it’s not for me.” He lowered his voice now, as he’d done all the other times he’d spoken to little Ivan. “It’s for you.”

He slid a crumpled little note across the table inviting the boy to take it. The only standout feature on the note was the red wax seal. “Well, I mean, you’d have to take it to Guidance Councilor Marlin Tagley. He works at the Office of the Citizen’s Committee in Etzos. That’s Mr. Tagley at the Citizen’s Committee. If you show him that,” he motioned with his chin toward the note, “he might be able to help you.” The seal hadn’t been cheap, but it was a good test for if the note arrived in Mr. Tagley’s hands unbroken, he’d read that Finn would recommend Ivanthe for possible employment and that the boy’s capability of keeping secrets would be demonstrated by the state of the seal.

The crowd parted a little near the bar. It wouldn’t be long before the barmaid would return with their tea, or more questions. Possibly both.
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Ivanthe
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:01 am

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Ivanthe could feel Finn’s questions like water behind a dam. He took a brief moment to examine the other boy’s tangle, finding the familiar, warm sort of suspicion that meant he was questioning Ivanthe’s welfare rather than his intentions. Well, he supposed it had to appear sometime or another.

This time, though, Ivanthe kept his magic to himself. Tampering with anything at this point felt like nothing more than stalling, since it seemed they would be more than strangers passing in the night; Ivanthe couldn’t stop obvious questions, and he would rather it sooner than later.

And besides, even in spite of suspicion, Finn had proven a respect for Ivanthe’s privacy that weighed more than anything else.

Worn, heavy feet stopped at their table. A barmaid loomed over the two boys, clearly trying to make sense of what they were doing. Now this was a familiar sort of suspicion; Ivanthe saw her confusion like a torch, laced with kind readiness if she found some reason to interfere.

Finn took the social lead, though the barmaid looked even more suspicious when he ordered drinks. When she looked at Finn, her suspicion became colder; she seemed to think Ivanthe was an unwitting victim, and Finn somehow taking advantage. Ivanthe took a deep breath.

When she looked back at Ivanthe, he smiled––and when he felt the connection, he unwove the feel of being at ease from his own Tangle and threaded it quickly into hers. The barmaid blinked for a moment, the rest of her emotions reacting to the sudden surge of relaxation, and he moved on to those. The warmer colors, at least those that weren’t wrapped with suspicion, were teased by broad brush strokes until the suspicion fell to the back.

When Finn reminded her that they wanted tea, the suspicion stayed there.

Ivanthe let out a relieved breath as the barmaid left, turning back to his acquaintance. “Feels like I get it every day,” he agreed mirthlessly.

Then Finn slid something else onto the table, and Ivanthe felt a shift. This felt like the real reason he had been asked to meet.

“For me,” Ivanthe stated, almost to himself. “Marlin Tagley at the Citizen’s Committee.” That wasn’t a name he had any intention of forgetting.

He pulled the note to his side of the table, turning it to examine the seal. Idle fingers slid along the edges, almost reverent in their care and then he nodded.

“Yes,” Ivanthe said. “Thank you. He’ll get it.” The note felt heavier than it should have when he put it carefully in a pocket of his cloak. Important.

“Will you be staying in the Landing long?” Ivanthe asked. “Or will you be other places in the next season or so?”

As the conversation paused for an answer, Ivanthe caught sight of the barmaid returning with their tea. She had shaken off his tampering and came armed with questions.

“Here’s tea,” she said bluntly, setting it between them. “You two waiting for someone to come fetch you?”

“Later,” Ivanthe said, catching her attention and reaching for another thread of be at ease. “Just warming up, is all.”

“Who’s coming?” she pressed. “Father? Brother? Uncle?”

Ivanthe’s eyes narrowed. Her suspicion was a thick rope, twisting her entire tangle into one unifying intention: investigate. It was too tight to work with, and Ivanthe gritted his teeth in frustration.

“Yes,” he said. “They’ll be along.”

“Soon?”

“Soon.”

“That’s what I like to hear.” And then she turned, grabbed a stool and pulled it right up to their table. “I’ll make sure no one gets their hands on you before then,” she said curtly, sitting down without another word.

Ivanthe’s nostrils flared in anger. He said nothing, but he looked at Finn––and he looked at Finn’s tangle. Once again, the empath reached into his own emotions, taking hold of fury and indignation and powerlessness in one fell swoop and pushing them Finn’s way.

“When did they say they’d be here?” he asked of the other boy, desperate for enough of a connection to share his emotions. “It wasn’t all that long, was it? She doesn’t need to be here.”
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Finnegan O'Connor
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:16 pm

The Pledge


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Foster's Landing - 19th Cylus, 718


Finn breathed a sigh of relief at Ivanthe’s acceptance. “Good. Dun lose et.” he said before sending a quick glance toward the bar. Whether the kid would do as instructed remained to be seen, of course, but it was a first step in the right direction at least. As to his future whereabouts he simply shrugged and drummed his fingers on the table. “Haven’t got it all figgered out at the moment, but I’ll be back in Etzos sumtime next season. Got people to talk to.” It wasn’t much of an answer, but it was the truth. Before he could eloborate however, the lady returned with a platter that she practically dropped on the table. Things went arseways from there.

Ivanthe tried diplomacy and Finn thought he wasn’t half bad with those innocent, doe-eyed looks fired at the barmaid. Sadly for them the barmaid had been a mother once and knew those kinds of faces all too damn well. This entire scene reeked of bullshit, but she’d give them the benefit of the doubt. For now.

Finn clenched his jaw. Most other time he could keep his cool, shrug it off, improvise some story. Not this time. Something started boiling and brewing inside and he answered to the barmaid’s unwanted presence with irritation he usually reserved for Zipper. “No she doesn’t need to be here,” Finn repeated, deliberately referring to her. Third person, as though she wasn’t even there.

“Excuse me?”

Finn scowled at the lady before promptly ignoring her, reaching for his tea instead. But not even the sweet, herbal tea could calm his nerves. She still remained at their table, her face betraying increasing suspicion.

“Look, lady,” Finn said after a sip of too-hot tea. “We’re fine.”

Excuse me?”

It seemed to be about all she was capable of saying. Finn’s mug trembled in his hand before he more or less slammed it down on the table, his brows knitting together in barely restrained anger.

“Will you piss off?”

“Oh that’s rich,” she nodded sarcastically while crossing her arms over her chest. “Nice attitude. Real nice. Roy!” She turned her head over her shoulder to call again. “Roy!”

A burly man with half-long dark, curly hair and neat moustache looked their way.

“You know these boys?”

“What?”

She motioned the man over. Just when Finn was about to hint Ivanthe that this would be a good time to leave, the lady turned again, pinning them both back in place with a stern gaze.

“You ever seen these two before?” she gestured between tbe two of them once Roy had made it to their table.

“No Ms. Kent, never seen ‘em- Wait…” the bartender lowered himself a little. “Might’ve seen ‘im around a couple times.”

A thick, hairy finger pointed toward Finn.

“Well I don’t know you.” He spat back.

“What do you think Roy? They say they're waiting for their father, or was it the uncle after all? Whichever one it is, wouldn’t want him to come back if I were you. What kind of dad lets you kids up at this hour?”

Finn opened his mouth again, but the lady raised her hand to shush him. “Not you. I wanna hear it from him.” Her eyes settled on Ivanthe. “Roy, I’ll need a smoke for this…”

“Right away, Ms. Kent,” the bartender said, rushing back to fulfill the inn-owner’s needs.

“Bring ink and paper too, sweetie. Let’s see if the lads both know how to write their father’s name. Unless of course…” her eyes flicked between the two, “you two prefer to drop the act right now. I might even consider letting you off the hook.”

"What act?" Finn challenged, his voice cracking with anger. He could set the bitch's stool on fire, he could blast her halfway across the chamber if he wanted!

Ms. Kent let out an exasperated sigh. "Your brother is a shit liar," she told Ivanthe. "What do you say huh? How about we stop this silly game, eh?"
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Ivanthe
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:25 pm

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Ivanthe was not well versed in deceiving strangers, it was true; it was usually a convenience––a tool to stop idle questions or to hurry along a difficult encounter. Adults paid more attention to each other than to children, even if the other adult only existed in words.

But Ivanthe had lines in the sand all around him, lain down by Yaren, Rheina and himself in equal measure, and those lines were where convenience––and deception––ended.

The woman was more than overstaying her welcome; she was pressing, prodding, demanding answers as if she was somehowentitled to them. Ivanthe’s knuckles grew white gripping the cup, while his jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed. She was trying put them in a corner, he could see it like daylight, and it lanced up and down his spine like fire. She wasn’t the first to try and force something out of him, and for all her look and bluster, Ivanthe knew in his gut that she was not dangerous. She would not kill or injure them; he suspected that any punch from her would be what he was used to.

No, all she had on her side were words and the ability to throw them out, and Ivanthe feared neither.

What do you say huh? How about we stop this silly game, eh?

“No.”

Her eyes narrowed back at him. “Excuse me?”

With his feet already on the seat of the chair, Ivanthe rose to a low crouch; though barely taller than before and hardly an impressive stance, it was a challenge.

“No,” Ivanthe repeated. “I’m not going to write my father’s name, and you can’t make me.”

He raised his cup and drained half of the not-quite-scalding water in one gulp, blinking furiously to keep back tears of pain and immediate regret. Fury was a helpful way to stay grounded, and he manage to look back without too long a pause.

“We paid for tea. You brought us tea. Nothing else is your business––don’t pretend you can make us do anything.”

Even though it had been painful the first time, Ivanthe did the exact same stupid thing and choked down the rest of his tea as quickly as he could.

“There,” he said, smacking the cup down on the table. “Done.” Then, breathing hard through his mouth to cool his throat, Ivanthe put his feet back on the floor and stood up with every intention of leaving.

“Oh no you don’t,” the woman hissed, grabbing hold of the younger boy’s arm.

Ivanthe’s reaction was instantaneous: he whirled and smashed his elbow into the closest flesh he could find, earning a surprised yelp and a single moment of confusion––just enough to rip free of her arm and dart into the crowd.

“Roy!”

But Roy was already back in the main room, had already seen and was already moving, heavy feet shaking the ground as he began to give chase.
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Kasoria
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:20 pm

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Don't get involved in anything but your business. That was his rule when he was on the job, especially this far away from the cobbles and looming towers of the city. There he knew every alley and crooked lane, every sewer grate and forgotten tunnel. A hundred faces were known to him, their sins and their wares and their loyalties. Foster's Landing was far away. It smelled of salt and timber and fish guts.

It wasn't his first time in the port, but the rule stayed the same. Don't get involved, don't say anything, just blend into the background like always. He had ample motivation to do so, as well. His journey by barge had taken six days and he'd naught but a heavy blanket (rented by the break) and three bowls of soup a day (sold by the bowl, bread was extra) to warm him. Now he was in an actual building, with walls and a roof and a crackling hearth in front of him, bathing him and his cold, wet form in warmth.

He could feel the water crinkling and burning away from him. His travel bag was between his knees, he was sitting on his purse, and one ear was cocked to the door. He could fall asleep right there, and anyone trying to filch or harm would lose fingers to no profit. Even the raised voices - shrill and young, lower and feminine, both groups volleying between indignant and defensive - were of little concern to him. He'd paid for his room, and his meal. He had nothing else to gain by speaking up.

“Will you piss off?”

That made him pause. It would anyone, really. Cocky, snotty wee brat, shooting off that line at an elder... even if you wanted nothing more than to belt him round the ear, you'd pay attention. The man by the fire felt a fleeting smile dash across his lips, but before it had even finished the voice registered and he-

Froze. Kept listening. Peered over the top of the gloriously comfy chair by the fire.

“Well I don’t know you.”

He could barely make out a face in the corner, but the second time... yes, he knew that voice. Kid's balls hadn't even dropped yet, but he knew it. The attitude that went with it, too, wasn't something you easily forgot. The same kid that had actually stood in his path, if only for a trill, even agter after seeing what he'd done to the others in that dump, way back when, two arcs before. He'd seen promise in the boy, if a tendency to dive headfirst into trouble he didn't need. Last he'd heard, Vorund had found regular work for him, but of course he hadn't checked in.

That was years ago. Now he was here. In the same inn as him. With a partner, by the look of it... and getting into more trouble.

The argument wore on, reached new heights, like dogs circling and on the edge of a lunge, and Kasoria's mind raced. Was this trap, or opportunity? Was it a coincidence that Finn was here, and could aid him... or had the boy blown his cover and got himself spotted watching his target? Which would be Kasoria, of course. He weighed the possibility carefully. A man like him had to, for death and betrayal could come without warning or any semblance of honor. But the more he watched, taking in the growling Finn and his friend, the more his disbelieved.

What he did believe was that this woman was too nosy for her own good.

"Roy!"

With a blur and a thump of a knobbly elbow against a skinny stomach, the other kid was bolting for the throng by the bar. But Roy strode through it like a colossus through the waves, hand like a ham shank reaching out and snatching up Ivanthe by the collar, yanking him up like a rabid mongrel. The barmaid, Finn, both were on their feet and curses were already flying, threats being made, and Kasoria-

Oh, fuck it.

"What in sweet living FUCK are you getting up to, boy?!"

Quite a noise from such a little man. Five feet, four inches, maybe a hundred and sixty pounds, but when he sucked in a lungful and belted it out, he could damn well make himself heard. He channeled his father as best he could remember, adding a little bass to his voice and brimming it with indignant fatherly scorn. Roy and the maid and Finn and his friend, all of them froze for a trill like players in a mummer's farce, watching with mixed expressions as this raggedy looking man with limp hair and a scowl that could burn a galleon marched towards them.

"I... sir-"

"I tell you to find me at the fire, and what're you doing? Hmm?" Oh, the memories came flooding back now. Kasoria The Younger had kept his eyes downcast through most of those tough-lashings, but there was no forgetting the voice. "Just leaving your Uncle Stefan to nod off all fucking night?! And dragging your brother into it, too?!"

He ran a hand through his hand and flicked the water onto the ground. The Head Shake Of Fatherly Disapproval. Fuck knows he got that often enough to ape it perfectly.

"These two are mine, Roy. I'll handle 'em, after this little shit-" he jabbed a finger at a stunned, still-dangling Ivanthe like a dagger "-apologizes for striking this lady. And don't think you won't be gettin' similar from me when we get home!"

He didn't look at the kids. Or the barmaid. He was looking at Roy. Because this woman might have some guile to her, interrogating the young 'uns like she did, but Roy knew something she didn't. She knew who "Uncle Stefan" really was, and was smart enough to know if he was jumping in like this, it was a for a reason. More than that, he knew who Kasoria worked for.

It wasn't his first time here, in Foster's Landing or at the Happy Trout. Roy had been there in the past, too. Asking no questions and taking Mister Vorund's money when his "associate" came to visit. So he was the one Kasoria silently impressed upon with a cold, level glare. Wordlessly advising him not to get in his way, nor forget his betters.
"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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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:57 pm

The Pledge


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Foster's Landing - 19th Cylus, 718


The kid had some balls and despite his age, the argument was sound. Finn agreed and would’ve said something if Ivanthe hadn’t already captured their frustrations in a stiff, fuming voice.

As soon as the cup was planted back on the table, Finn followed Ivanthe’s example and jumped up from his chair, bumped past the table and started toward the exit. Insults were commonplace in establishments such as these, but rarely did they come from the mouth of a pesky child. “Yu’old fuck!” Finn called over his shoulder, spinning around halfway through the inn to make a rude gesture later in Ms. Kent’s direction.

When he turned again, he came to a screeching halt. It took him no more than two trills to recognize the arsed-up face of Kasoria and the stinging, sulfuric scent that accompanied the demon. Even after all this time, it wasn’t a mug he’d forget anytime soon. Not after what he’d seen the bastard was capable of.

Within those same two trills, Ms. Kent caught up, her weathered hand striking across the back of his noggin, knocking his head forward like a boxing ball. Yet, Finn’s gaze remained fixed on Kasoria and he wasn’t the only one. The drunken chatter and laughter died down and even inebriates of the highest order, their faces red with booze, turned their heads to blink lazily at the scene, hoping for a spectacle.

“M-m Midgets!” one of drunks choked out, his pitch wavering as much as his shaking hand, pointing to center of the drama. “Ha.. hahaha….”

Finn clenched a first at his side, but the man’s barking laughter was soon drowned out by the power of Kasoria’s voice and it immediately became apparent to Finn what the Etzori low-live was trying to do. Conjuring up a guilt-ridden face wasn’t very hard, and Finn was eager to play his part. Hanging his head in feigned defeat, he rushed over to Kasoria’s side, eager to put some distance between himself and the Iron Lady.

“Teach your nephews some damned manners,” Ms. Kent seethed. She might be in on Kasoria’s game, but that didn’t mean she approved. Her tea towel whipped through the air as she slung it over her shoulder. “Get your brats out of here,” she said coldly before training her piercing eyes on both boys. She opened her mouth to say something rude, but instead spun around, curling her finger at a befuddled Roy, beckoning him to follow her.

An inaudible sigh of disappointment passed through the crowd, their interest waning now that the promise of a good thrashing by the gnarly mistress of the Happy Trout had dissipated. Finn grabbed Ivanthe’s other arm and yanked hard, pulling him from Kasoria’s grip. In that confused moment of stumbling, he breathed two quick words in Ivanthe’s passing ear.

Play along.

The crowd parted around them, creating a path toward the door and Finn, playing his role as protective brother rather too well, released Ivanthe’s arm, resorting instead to light pushes between the boy’s shoulder blades, urging him toward the exit. “Let’s go, Pappai,” he said, hoping he’d read Kasoria’s intentions well.
Last edited by Finnegan O'Connor on Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ivanthe
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:04 am

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In the back of his mind, Ivanthe knew that he was in the throes of overstepping, in the same way he knew when headaches were from dehydration or when shaking hands were from hunger. Everything inside him was white hot, fast approaching the point of boiling into something uncontrollable. There were no “smart” or “stupid” decisions anymore, only what could not be and what had to be.

He could not stay here. He had to be outside. The sharp sting of the cold would help, if he could just get to it.

The reality of the tavern was crisp against every one of his senses, almost too crisp; it pressed in from all sides like water in his lungs until he couldn’t breathe––run, get away––

Ivanthe let out a yelp when a hand found the back of his neck, though it became a snarl in a single hearbeat; the boy twisted violently in his captor's grip, lashing out with arms, legs, fingers curled into claws as––(he was dragged out from the wagon, sharp nails raking welts down his neck)––

“What in sweet living FUCK are you getting up to, boy?!”

(I don’t know what I did wrong, please I’m so sorry I’m so, so sorry I swear I'll fix it please please please) As if struck by lightning, Ivanthe froze. His back curled outward, his knees and arms both folding defensively towards his body to prepare for a hail of blows.

The noise was gone while the lights and smells remained, but they were wrong; they were too… too far away, lapping at someone else’s toes like warm water. (It was one of his bad days, Ivanthe could see in his eyes that he could not soothe the anger––only endure it)

There were voices, perhaps someone asked him a question. (The fingernails kept digging into the flesh of his throat) as he was turned, still suspended by nothing but his spine, and he saw (Yaren) his captor squarely.

Ruddy face, bedraggled clothes, everything blurred around those eyes. Liquid and bottomless, both fiery and terribly cold at the same time.

(His throat in one hand, a split of firewood in the other, the wood rising into the air as Ivanthe was pushed down)

Apologize, or… or what? You’ll get similar from me.

(I…)
… No. It was wrong. This was wrong. He––the stranger with his hand on Ivanthe’s neck––was wrong.

(As the wood came plummeting down, a hand took his wrist to yank the rest of him into easy reach)


When a hand pulled him free of the stranger’s grip, there was no sense of who or why, merely danger and damage. As soon as his toes touched the ground, Ivanthe’s hand was a flying fist and his feet were driving behind the point of his boots, the fist for Finn’s chest and the boots for the stranger’s shins.

No, he would hear nothing from (Yaren) a man who put fingers on his neck and made the world shatter.

Ivanthe wanted to hurt him, but more than that, he needed to escape (the wood fracturing his wrist) the heat of the cage––he had to get out.

He ran. The effort of ripping free left finger-shaped welts on his body, but that pain wasn’t enough; he needed more. There were no people or objects, only the door and what lay between them.

A path had cleared in anticipation for a dramatic exit, and Ivanthe didn’t pause to wonder what the audience might think of his frenzied sprint. The icy wind whipped him in the face, and for one precious moment the (wood over his head, blood streaming from his hand) was frozen in time.

He kept running into the darkness, his (helpless, blinding pain) streaming out behind him; it stayed a single away from his heels, arms outstretched for the first sign of weakness.

Ivanthe knew exactly how dangerous it was to run on icy cobbles, and he chased that danger like a dying man chased water. He didn’t have the bravery to feel pain by his own hand, but the world around him––that could hurt him just as well.

A loose stone shuddered below, and then his feet lost traction. Just at the edge of the road, Ivanthe's sheer speed swept his legs right out from under him and sent him flying into the ground. Hands outstretched to soften the fall, his knees slammed sharp against the frozen earth while a sharp stone split his palm right open, one side to the other.

He slammed fully back into the reality of the night, the nineteenth of Cylus in the year seven-hundred eighteen. Everything else was sliced to ribbons by the wind.

Tears burned hot as a great swell of relief crashed down. The sudden absence of pain was so pure, he almost laughed. His bloody hand and gashed knees felt akin to pleasure, just because they hurt so much less than what had come before. The boy grasped the stone that had cut him, luxuriating in the feel of those edges dipping back inside the wound.

If anyone came by to form their own opinions about a young boy smiling happily as the sight of his own blood, that was their business. For Ivanthe, all that mattered was the the present moment, and the relief of wounds deeper than his cut being chased away by the cold.
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Kasoria
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[Foster's Landing] The Pledge

Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:36 am

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"Ach, the fuck're-"

Kasoria wasn't exactly expecting a wild gush of thanks for his selfless intervention, even if he knew damn well that's not what it was. But he wasn't expecting Finn's little comrade to go ratshjt mad the second his feet hit the floor, flailing and punching and slamming his bony toes into his shin. The pain registerd but the surprise was what really did the damage, freezing the killer into place as he watched Ivanthe scurry out the door like a rat loosed from a trap, Finny flying after him-

Oh, for fuck's...

"Sir!" Roy intercepted him as he got to the door, cold wind slapping him in the face and killing the ruddy glow. "Sir, your nephews, they can't-"

"Remember who the fuck I am, Roy." The words were low and thick as a snarl from the shadows. That night-time predator you hear on the way home, but cannot see. All you can do is quicken your pace and pray it isn't as hungry as it sounds. "Remember who I work for. And get your fucking hand off me."

Roy did as he was told, and Kasoria stepped out into the street. A mocking laugh was echoing down the street, swaying drunkard barely hanging onto it as he tottered away, high-then-low cackle sounding like a seesaw across his ears. The other boy was on his back, and bleeding, and crying, and smiling, and even as Finn helped him back up, Kasoria slapped him across the shoulder to get his attention.

"I need you, not him," he said bluntly, in no mood to waste words, not with someone who knew better. "Get him straight or get rid of him... and follow me."

Whether or not Finn handled his friend, Kasoria was already walking. At best, he's pause and scowl over his shoulder, silently warning the boy that either he could come, or Kasoria could drag him. Either way, some freak with the manners and mind of a wild dog wasn't his concern. He didn't speak as the odd trio made their way behind warehouses and through alleyways, until they found a pokey little joint with a low door and a faded sign that laughably claimed to be a cafe.

But it was warm and out of the elements and served cheap soup. For many, that was a fine luxury.

"What can I get you lads?"

"Three bowls, whatever you got today."

Part of Kasoria appreciated the simplicity of such an order. No menus to peruse, no hard decisions to make. A handful of trills and dinner was on it's way. But one look at the gruel that sufficed for dinner - pretty sure there are fish heads bobbing in that - was enough to make him wish he'd chosen somewhere a little more upmarket.

Upmarket means more people, means more eyes, means more risk of word getting back. You're exposed enough.

"Here ya go." He handed over a couple of coins and the girl was on her way with a perfunctory nod and a smile even more so. "Enjoy."

"Aye..."

No. It's an eel.

First a rescue, now a meal. There's was a chance the boys would be getting the wrong idea about him. So he waited until they'd each got a spoon in their hands before he reached across the table and slammed his palm onto the wood between their bowls.

"You eat, then we talk," he said simply, looking dead-square at Finn, then doing the same to Ivanthe. Dummy or not, he would get the fucking message, here. "You owe me."

He pulled his hand back and let them eat. Oddly enough, looks aside, it didn't smell that bad...
"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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