"Me father weren't a good man, nor was he particularly enjoyable to be aroun'. Plenty o' men're bad an' a good time, but not me old man. Nah, instead, he was as hard as the stone he used to beat his enemies into submission," said Pavel, whose steel grey eyes stared down into the dusky brown of his liquor. The glass had since dwindled and been refilled, at Zevan's expense, so the man continued to share his story. Zevan, whose head nodded in support, as if his own father had been hard and unrelenting. He hadn't. He was a washed up seafarer, and then a tribal chief, and then Hotlands trader... All of them supportive of Zevan. But Zevan was not one to interrupt the story, so he allowed it continue.
"He was a mercenary in Yaralon, but really just wen' wherever he could find work. Rhakros once, Argos 'nother time, sometimes here an' there. He wore a saber on his left hip, and a strange crossbow he swore was Hiladrii in nature, though I never saw anythin' else like it. It was small, wielded by one hand, an' he could fire it damn rapidly for a crossbow. He was tough, an' he expected me to be. So I was signed up for the Blades before he left, tol' me mither I'd ne'r be a man if'n I didn't. An' so I served Ne'haer, before I took to the sea an' sailed fer an arc, lookin' for his leathery old ass so's I could beat it in fer givin' me the shittiest childhood I coulda thought of. Nah, instead I find in Hiladrith he'd been dead three half seasons, an' the bastard left me an iron chest fer my troubles. The man who held it, grizzled ol' fuck named Tenner, said me old man'd said I'd come fer it. One final middle finger, I found," Pavel lamented, more sincerely sad about his father's final expectation being true than his passing. Tenner wasn't a name known to Zevan, but he was familiar with the Hiladrii and figured the man wasn't lying.
"'Cept the old bastard hadn't lef' a key, says Tenner. If he had, the chest'd've been empty when it made its way t' me. Nah, they din't wanna cut it for fear o' a curse or some black sorcery, but not me. I don't fear no damn fireballs or portals ripping me through 'em. Bring 'em, I says. Nah, I figure what's inside can be sold fer a pint an' a final farewell to bad rubbish. But I can't open it. I don't wanna cut the lock, since the box'll fetch a price, but I can't find a way into it. Damn locksmith even said the mechanism was too damn complex, an' it'd take him time, an' cost me nel to be sure, to figure it out. Where'd it come from, I asks, an' he has the balls t' tell me he ain't got the foggiest," came the bitter words, and finally, the whiskey in front of him was drained. Another appeared a short while later, and nary a word had been spoken. As he began to feel the liquor, a sense of pride welled inside Pavel. He couldn't know it was Zevan's divine heritage working on his weakening mental fortitude, nor would the son of Cassion tell him. Whatever led him to Pavel was pushing the two together, weaving their tale. Zevan was meant to make Pavel a Companion. The Slaking was almost finished.
"Now, it's a point o' pride more'n care fer the damn 'treasure' he lef' me. Prolly a whore's skull, or the knucklebones o' a smuggler. But now I gotta find the key, an' all I got is a few broken mem'ries o' the bastard. Here, in Yaralon, Rhakros... I need ta get me ass in gear an' go find it, but I just can't be arsed to do it, ye know?" Zevan, who was mulling the story, nearly missed the direct question. His full lips parted as if he were to respond, but Pavel just continued on.
"Dunno what it is 'bout you, Zevan, but yer a good one t' talk to. Could jus' be the whisky, but I'll be damned if I don't feel like yer here to help somehow. Ye don' give a damn 'bout my pa, yet yer listenin'. Why?" He wasn't suspicious, but curious. Zevan's smile was just as disarming as ever, and the Cassionborn shrugged.
"I just love a good story, my friend. If that takes liquor to have, so be it. I will say, though, that I believe you should follow your instincts. Your father left that chest, and for whatever reason, you are compelled to open it. Should you have me, I'd like to help you open it," Zevan admitted, his dusty eyes meeting with Pavel's. The man's face fell for a moment, as if he'd finally figured it out.
"Aye? An' I'll guess yer lookin' fer a nel or two fer yer trouble, eh?" came the question, and Zevan shook his head. The look of surprise on Pavel's face was heartwarming, and Zevan just nodded.
"I told you, my friend, I just love a good story. Being in one more so than just hearing it, however expertly told. If you'll have me, we can begin drawing plans tomorrow?" He asked, and the Slake was complete. He could feel the sense of adventure building in Pavel, and he knew he'd accomplished what he'd been drawn to Bayward for. Smiling, Pavel raised the now full whisky glass and downed the shot.
"Aye, agreed. Fer me, a wench and a bed, then! On the morrow, ser Zevan," the man stammered, his words sloshing about like the water on the side of a ship in a storm. Nodding, Zevan allowed the serious warrior to stumble away into the arms of a plump and comely tumble. He'd be exhausted, but sober when they reconvened. They needed a place to start. Zevan needed to ask for help.
Mother, went out the silent prayer. Cassion had to hear him.
"For the born traveller, travelling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim's time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort."
— Aldous Huxley