• Graded • A Noose for the Loose

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Kasoria
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Posts: 1543
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 935
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A Noose for the Loose

30th trial, Ashan, Arc 718
Foster's Landing
19th break


"I-I-I-I didn't tell-tell them anything, I swear!"

If Kasoria had his doubts before about the necessity of his task before, they vanished once he heard those words. Not just the panicked tone that spoke of a natural coward, which was bad enough. No, it was the words themselves that came from the mouth of the sweaty, fidgety man standing opposite him. Roy wasn't a brave man, and he wasn't expecting that from him. He was a business owner, like many he'd met over the years. He could crack the whip over his employees, or treat them like family. It just depended. He could cut a favorable deal and knew enough about his profession to make smart decisions.

But he wasn't a man of violence. He'd never grown up like Kasoria had. Never taken his beatings and grown hardened to pain and the specter beyond it. Never taken a life and taken another and another until one day, the fear of his own being taken was... oddly detached from his mind. It was a factor, a possibility, and inevitability, for sure, but... not nearly as much as it should be.

Roy was not that man. And he'd already told Kasoria far too much.

"Them"?

"I know you haven't," he lied, leaning closer to the man and keeping their words low and private. "But my master still wanted me to send you a message. And... make you an offer."

Roy nearly bolted right there when the butcher's hand vanished under his cloak. Because that's damn well what he was. He'd walked by the wharf the Charon was tied to the trial after this slight, short, quiet man had done his business. He'd watched body after body carried off under white sheets, stained and bloodied. One of the sheets had fallen off and Roy had seen with his own eyes the... things, that man had done. He'd slept under his roof and eaten his food then gone out and slaughtered them like animals.

Now he was back and Roy knew there could only be one reason. It had barely been a full season after that atrocity and there were people asking around about it. Not Black Guard, Roy knew them of old from Etzos, but... they acted like they were Black Guard. He'd not heard about any special mandate or policy from the Council, but there they were. Marching around town, roughing up people, trying to find out the truth.

Then he looked over at an empty table one night and saw it wasn't empty. There was a familiar face behind it, just watching him. Waiting for their eyes to meet and jutting his chin towards the rear of the Happy Trout. He'd almost dropped the tray he'd been holding and it took Doris poking him in the stomach to snap him out of it.

"Oi? S'matter with you, Roy?"

"I... Noth-Nothing. Just..." The little man got up and made his way through the crowd. Low and quiet and humble, just like before. "Um... gonna be a bit or two, love. Keep the animals watered, eh?"

"As bloody always, boss."

He managed the ghost of a smile and spun on his heel, before the tension threatening to split his face in two could show. He was sweating by the time he stepped out into the alley behind the tavern. His legs were weak when he saw the man standing off to one side, half in the blackness cast by the stables. He walked over, because he knew he didn't have a choice. Every step, every crunch and squelch of gravel and dirt and mud... Roy felt a memory rattle through his brain with each one. His childhood. His daughter being born. His first wife saying "yes". Him saying "yes" to Vorund. The last step saw Kasoria's face flash before his eyes, in his room, a season ago-

And there he stood again. Waiting for him. Alone.

He blurted out those words, right away, just to reassure the man. The killer blinked a few times before he gave his response, but Roy knew - he just fucking knew - that it wouldn't matter. Any man that could massacre a crew of salty dog bastards like what populated the Charon... well, Roy may have been imprudent in some areas of his life, but he never fancied himself a hard man when he knew damn well he wasn't. He took a step back, contemplated running or crying out, even thought that would only hasten his end and instead his lips moved in a plea-

Which was deemed unnecessary, when he saw the purse in Kasoria's hand.

"I... I'm sorry, what-"

"My master knows you are a valuable asset, and you have never denied his requests. Never missed a payment, never made him question your loyalty." He pressed the purse into the slack-jawed man's hand and closed his fingers around it. "A hundred nels. You'll get another later on tonight, and you'll get the same every season, as long as you stay quiet about everything... and you tell me everything about anyone that's been asking questions."

Kasoria could see the fear in Roy's eyes melting away under the heat of his greed, not to mention sheer, breathless relief. He'd marched over to him with the piss-soaked resignation of a man who new he was about to die, and saw no point in prolonging his fear by running. Survival instincts useless, he'd walked up to Kasoria and waited for the inevitable. But he'd not expected money, of all things. Nor glowing words, almost tinged with pride.

But the money was the key to it. Words were just noisy air, in Kasoria's world. Unless you backed them up with coin, or blood, or both, that's all they remained.

They have their used tonight, though.

"Of-Of course! Well, um, there were three-"

"Shhh, no, not here!" Kasoria was hardly a born thespian, but he knew how to sell his role. He waved an angry hand and cranked his voice down to an urgent whisper. "Not... Not where people could be listening. You know the barn around the corner? Old place, red paint?"

"Um, y-yes. Murphy's place, only he hasn't got around to-"

"Meet me there after you finish tonight. I'll be waiting. You'll tell me everything about them, and then you'll get the other hundred nels." He reached out and laid on his masterstroke. He placed his hand on the pudgy man's shoulder and squeezed firmly. Then realized he was hurting the man and backed off a little. Bloody soft wanker. "We're not done with you, Roy. We're gonna keep you paid, and keep you quiet. What did you think, I was here to kill you? Why would I show up in the tavern, for everyone to see? Why would I give you money? Why would I have waited this long?"

He laughed. It was a strange exercise of his lungs and throat. It didn't come easily and took a few breaths before it sounded like something more jovial than a storm drain being cleared. But Roy's relief blinded him to all that: he only saw a man that valued him, and paid him, and spoke for a man far more powerful and dangerous who thought the same, and that was all he needed to see. After a few trills he was chuckling right along with Kasoria, waving a hand in the air above his head.

"Just... I dunno... silly."

"Aye, well, I understand. Business I'm in-" Kasoria managed a shrug and a grimace "-people assume the worst. I've kept yeh long enough. See you at the barn."

"Oh, yeah, you will!"

The rest of the night passed by as genially and brightly as Roy could have hoped for. Doris could see that whatever clouds had dogged him as he'd left were gone by the time he'd returned. In fact, he almost looked... happy. Smiling and clapping shoulders, telling jokes and remembering names of old customers. But it was when he waved away payment from a vagrant for a bowl of soup that she marched up and said, "All right, Mister Sunshine, what happened? You're practically gliding over the bloody floorboards."

"Doris, my darling," he said, an endearment that nearly make her squawk like a hen. "I've just got some good news, and it's good news for both of us." His kissed her forehead and murmured into the fleshy skin there. "I just can't tell you about it. Private business, y'see. But it's all good. All fine."

Doris had no bloody clue what that was all about, but Roy didn't much care. She was a fine wife but she had no head for business, like most women. She had a certain low shrewdness to her, it had to be said. It was admirable, and useful, but Dealings with men like Vorund... no, it was beyond her. Best she didn't know about things that would just bother her. So between the two of them and the bar maids, they went about their jobs that night, serving and cooking and clearing and cleaning and flipping a couple of rooms for paying travelers.

It was a profitable night, and yet Roy grinned on his way to the barn a few breaks later, because he knew it wasn't over. All the dirty and mismatched coin they'd made that night was a trifle compared to the purse he'd be getting, and the purse he already had. Two hundred gold nels a season, just for... keeping quiet?! Sign him the fuck up for that kind of deal!

Murphy's Barn loomed above him as he rounded the corner. Not that you could tell the bloody ruin belonged to anyone. He knew Murphy still held the lease, but his son was in charge of the place and... Daniel wasn't as thrifty as his father. Or as hardworking. Or as sober, come to think of it. So the building cracked and crumbled and Daniel drank away the money for repairing it, focusing more on the larger stables they had down the street. He made his excuses, mainly that it cost too much money to keep the place open, but Roy always sort of sighed when he heard that.

You could rent this place out as storage and still make something, he reminded himself with a shake of his head, opening one of the two front doors and walking inside. Closed it behind him, of course. Secret meeting, after all. He squinted in the dark, interior of the barn lit only by spears and shafts and shards of moonlight that pierced the holes in the roof and walls. Bales of hay were stacked and rotting around the place. The floor was covered in dirt and... bottles, as his stumbling feet soon found.

Piss and shit and it wasn't all animals. The vagrants were using the place as a bloody outhouse. Roy shook his head and held his nose as he walked further inside.

"Sir? Mister... um... I didn't catch your name? Are... It's me. Roy!" he was trying to shout as much as he could while whispering, and was so blinded by another full purse that he didn't notice. All he did was keep walking and peering into the silent shadows. "You... You said come to meet you here and here I-"

Then he saw movement. Right in front of him. About the same height as his head and swinging gently in the breeze all the holes and neglected openings provided. Going from black and formless to corn-colored and rough and-

Rope.

In the form of a noose.

Hanging right in front of him.

Waiting for him.

"... am?"

Something moved behind Roy. Everything snapped into focus, into the clarity of awful, fatal truth. Every lie and vanity and willful stupidity he'd let himself believe. All blown apart and replaced by the reality he'd walked into. Hell, he'd even closed the door behind him.

There was a whoosh of movement, of flapping fabric and feet scraping across a dirty floor. He never even got a chance to scream.
Image
Last edited by Kasoria on Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 2101

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: 1543
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 935
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Wealth Tier: Tier 5

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Miscellaneous

A Noose for the Loose

He knew well enough how to tie a proper noose. He'd seen enough hangings to know how it was done.

Well. "Lynchings" would probably have been a more accurate term.

He'd wondered how best to tie off the loose end that he'd left flapping in Foster's Landing. He knew it had to be something... natural, for want of a better word. Nothing more natural in life than dying (everyone did it, after all), but a cut throat or knife to the heart wouldn't serve his purpose. The whole point of killing Roy was to leave cold and useless whatever trail these "Turkey Company" morons were trying to follow. He could just make the man vanish, but this was the more immediate solution.

It wasn't the easiest. Not by far. But even as he put the plan together, on the slow boat from Etzos back to Foster's Landing, Kasoria found some cold satisfaction in the challenge. He was getting old, after all. Just killing a man was no longer a matter of much import to him. A body found cleaved and sliced, well, you assumed it was a murder. But a body founding swinging from the rafters, tongue swollen, face purple, eyes bulging...

Suicide. That's where your mind first went. And if that's what all the evidence looked like, well...

He'd spotted the barn the last time he was in Foster's landing. Being what he was, he'd noted the deserted and decayed appearance. The silence that filled the place. No life, no commerce... nothing. Just a convenient blind spot in the middle of Foster's Landing. Then he had his meeting with Zipper, and agreed to tie off the only loose end that worried both of them after the massacre on the Charon. He knew even as he made the deal that Vorund would be displeased. Roy was a steady source of income, after all, and a useful asset in Foster's Landing. He could provide shelter and food and information.

But now he was a witness, and to a crime being actively investigated. Kasoria knew that once his master weighed the two sides of that problem... the result would be the same. And Kasoria would still be where he was. Vorund and his accountant would cross of one source of income among scores, hundreds, and sleep easier knowing a potential cooing fucking pigeon was dead.

In the darkened barn, making a noose by the broken shafts of moonlight. The rope was actually already there; hardly unusual considering it was a barn, after all. Weathered hands moved over rope that felt much the same. He tied a solid loop at one end, doubling over the knot to make it more secure. Then he fed the rest of the rope into the loop, and what he had was... a noose. Not the hangman's knot he'd seen before, with all the extra layers of rope around the loop, but it would serve it's purpose.

That and he's a barkeep, he reminded himself, mind still in that cold, precise place he always took it to when he was on this subspecies of assignment. Why would he know how to tie one of those?

Kasoria had tossed the noose over the central beam of the barn, tied off the other end, and then waited. That was all. He completed a slow, careful circuit of the barn, sliding from shadow to shadow, checking for any slumbering drunks or vagabonds that may have been roused by what followed. He was glad it wasn't the Cold Season: such dregs would have flocked to a large, walled, roofed, empty building. But it was the season of Rebirth instead, and he guessed they liked to sleep outside.

The breaks passed slowly. All he had to do with himself was listen. Wasn't much to watch, after all. Just the industrious, tedious work of rats and roaches and ants and other things, feasting on the produce left behind to rot. They added to the process: why not, after all, if men so carelessly abandoned such fine feed? He listened to the beams creak and groan above him. He heard people passing by. Talking. Laughing. Drinking. Arguing. Oblivious to the man in the shadows, waiting for-

The door creaked and Kasoria flattened himself against a pile of hay off to one side. Dared to peek out, covered by as much shadow as he could manage. He watched the door open, saw a familiar balding head pop in... then close the door behind him.

How thoughtful.

As Roy made his rambling way into the barn, Kasoria stalked him. Always keeping to cover, moving slow and low, staying behind the man the whole time. Roy wasn't expecting an ambush, after all. He was expecting to find Kasoria sitting on a stool or leaning on a beam. Kasoria could almost smell the greed wafting off the man, the eager-to-please tone in his voice as he fruitlessly called out for him. Then the words stopped as he saw the noose.

Kasoria saw him staring up at it. Could almost hear puzzle pieces clicking into place in his brain. But by the time they did, the little man had moved from out of cover, and as Roy turned to face him, weeping terror in his eyes-

THUCK

-Kasoria's right hand lashed out with a tiger claw punch, a thin line of folded knuckles that hammered into his voice box. Whatever scream or plea he sought to make, it tied in the choking, retching cough that replaced it. He staggered and clutched at his throat with one hand, other hand stretched out as if to beg for mercy-

-providing only a convenient means for Kasoria to grab him by the wrist, yank him forwards-

-then slide under his outstretched arm, snaking his arm up and over the limb as he stumbled-

Familiar movements. Even in the stumbling chaos and speed of the moment, Kasoria found a beat, a pace. One step following another. His right arm coming up from the front and wrapping around Roy's throat. The front of it nestling in the crook of Kasoria's elbow, and his other arm snapping tight at the back of the hapless man's head. Then he simply flexed and squeezed with the first, and pushed forward with the other.

Roy flailed and stumbled. He beat his arms against Kasoria's sides and the little man just dipped his chin into his chest, protecting his face from any questing fingers reaching back there. But Roy was far too deep into terror for that, more clinical counter-attack. He just swung his arms and sobbed without the air to even do so. He started to sink down and already Kasoria could feel the life beginning to drain out of him. His rocketing pulse start to stutter. His breathing become slower. His frenzied blows lose all power.

He kept his bicep flexed. He kept pushing forwards. Eyes staring into a mass of nothing, Kasoria kept choking the life out of the man, seen by nothing but shadows and scavengers.
Image
Last edited by Kasoria on Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1207

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: 1543
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 935
Character Sheet
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Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Contribution

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Miscellaneous

A Noose for the Loose

There was no dignity to it. Nothing any bard would write about. Death was always theatrical, or tragic, or glorious. But it was never ugly and filled with weeping and despair. They glossed over all that, even when it came to the villains. Even they got a death that was worthy of the stage.

Kasoria couldn't give that to Roy. It wouldn't have fit his own story. So instead of a living eulogy and a quick, dramatic thrust of a sword through the heart (probably followed by another five bits of fucking talking), he kept his grip around his throat. The chokehold stayed firm and not just until Roy went limp.

Not just until his hands fell away from Kasoria's wiry arms, laying limp in the dust.

Not just until he heard no breathing coming from his lips or nose.

It was when Kasoria's nostrils quivered and rebelled. That's when he knew his task was done, and Roy's bowels were voiding all over the insides of his breeches.

Time to get moving.

It was all just setting the props, after that, and Kasoria wondered why he was in such a mummer's mood for that job. He loosened his grip and dragged Roy's corpse over to where the rope was hanging. Sat him up and slipped the noose over his head and around his neck. Tightened it, then let go... and Roy tipped over just as far as the taut rope would allow. Kasoria stood straight up and flexed his arms. Twisted side to side and felt things crackle up and down his side. That was the easy part. Hardly any energy expended, compared to what had to follow.

But you need to make it look convincing. Which it won't be if he's down there. So...

"Yeah, yeah, yeah."

He went to where the rope was anchored, tied up against another vertical beam. The moment it came loose, Roy's weight pulled at him. The old man realized that's just what he was when he set his feet and pulled-

"Fat... fuck...!"

Hand over hand, he pulled about a hundred-eighty pounds of dead, stinking weight up towards the beam. His shoulders screamed at him, his hands were rubbed raw by the effort, but his feet didn't shift. His grip didn't loosen. It was the work of bits, at the most, but hells' fuck, did he have to work for them. By the time Roy was two feet off the floor, Kasoria was sweating like it was midtrial out in the Lands Of Sand, and now he moved his feet-

Backwards. To the beam. Wrapping the rope around it. Feeling the tension trying to yank it out of his hand, but the more and more he wound, the more secure it became, until when he tied the final knot it barely moved. Kasoria looked up at his work. Dangling there, with his hands still at his sides. Piss and shit dripping gently from his breeches onto the floor.

"... shit."

Crap. He'd almost forgotten. He left his deception swinging gently and vanished back into the shadows. He came back a moment later and set a stool under him... then kicked it over. Only then did Kasoria allow himself a small, private smile of victory. Now it was convincing. He'd come in, tied the noose, set it high, set the stool, stood on it, tied the noose around his head and...

That's that.

Kasoria reached up and patted the man down, soon finding the purse he'd given him. He was bloody well fucked if he'd be giving that much gold away. Not only that, it would raise questions. Why would a man with a season's of wages in his pocket kill himself? Kasoria pocketed his own money and moved to the front door. He opened it a crack and saw nothing moving out there. It was past midnight, after all. But he still ran his gaze over every building he could see from the doorway, and once he was satisfied...

He didn't cast a look over his shoulder. Gave no eulogy or monologue like in the plays. The man was dead. Hanging from the ceiling with his tongue already swelling out of his mouth. What more needed to be said?

Kasoria slipped out into the street and shut the door behind him. Slattery and his barge were waiting for him, ready to leave in the morning. He could sleep on the dock until those wee breaks when the crotchety old fuck would cast off with his produce and passengers. He doubted Roy would be found by then. But even if he was...

The story is right there, hanging from the beam, the killer reassured himself, as he pulled up his hood and started walking away. Such a tragedy.
Image
word count: 823

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
Tristan Venora
Approved Character
Posts: 1316
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:47 am
Race: Human
Profession: Mad Scientist Socialite
Renown: 844
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Wealth Tier: Tier 10

A Noose for the Loose

Image
Kasoria:

Knowledge:
Acting: A Facade of Reassurance and Appreciation
Deception: Making a Murder Look Like a Suicide-By-Hanging
Field Craft: Tying a Secure Noose
Stealth: Using Piles of Goods to Hide
Stealth: Staying Behind a Target
Strength: Hoisting Up a Corpse With a Rope

Loot: N/A
Injuries: N/A
Renown: N/A
Magic XP: N/A

Points: 10
- - -
Comments: I’ve been a fan of your writing since you first joined ST.

Your story was well-written and detailed. I was a little confused about what was happening at first because of you switching points of view and such, but I figured it out pretty quickly. You have a way of writing violence and using imagery that I cannot help but be jealous of!

I loved how you described him laughing:
He laughed. It was a strange exercise of his lungs and throat. It didn't come easily and took a few breaths before it sounded like something more jovial than a storm drain being cleared.
My favourite part was when Roy arrived and saw the rope hanging in front of him though. That was brilliant!

Please edit your review request to include the button below so that the other reviewers know that it's been taken care of!

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