• Solo • She Who Made Me Choose

With the meeting set, Max is tasked with wooing The Raven's representative with a proposition.

Once an isolated and dying township, an influx of academics, adventurers and thrill seekers have made Scalvoris Town their home. From scholars' tea shops to a new satellite campus for Viden Academy, this is an exciting place to visit or make your home!

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She Who Made Me Choose

10 Ashan 718

True to his word, Rich had apparently reached out to the fearsome gang that had violently run Max and Merces from Almund. A mysterious Red Raven had landed in Scalvoris Town, but they certainly hadn't made the trip just to see the banished woman. This was merely a side stop. It was likely a courtesy call the individual was making on the basis of curiosity rather than genuine interest. The representative had chosen Cally's as the meeting place, and as Rich stressed, Max only had but a few bits to win any favor.

Seated in a far corner of the upscale restaurant, the Rusalka was sorely out of place. Her clothes weren't quite so neat as the others that had gathered to dine here. One strap of her shirt hung lazily off one shoulder, and the only accessory she wore that seemed in good condition was the necklace around her neck and the crutch leaned against a nearby wall. Her leg bounced where it laid hidden under the cream tablecloth. Her caramel eyes glanced about the room every so often, her attention squarely set upon the door. She was early for once, and every trill that pass wherein the representative was absent drove Max deeper to madness.

A tall blonde woman with nearly perfect, bluish skin waltzed into the restaurant. Max rose instinctively out of her seat, eyes fixated on the woman with a harsh gaze she was unaware of. She didn't need to ponder over whether this woman was the person she'd been waiting for. She remembered her all too well. When she'd emerged from the burning house, it was this woman who had waltzed into the smoke to notify Max she'd a decision to make.

"Save your lover. Save your possessions. Either way, be out of our town in one break, or you'll not run free ever again. Have fun darlin'."

The Rusalka's hands curled into fists at her sides. The woman didn't give pause in light of this tension. Instead she merely maneuvered through the maze of tables with a sense of purpose and grace that turned the heads of men and women alike. When she'd finally made it to the table she dragged her chair back, raising an eye at Max.
"Sit, Maxine," she commanded with sigh. "You're making a scene and I haven't the time." The woman took the lead by taking a seat at the table, unfolding the napkin to place it in her lap, and folded her her hands upon the table. "You can either have my ear or try and take your revenge. You can't have both. Decide now." Slowly Max found herself sitting again, but the distrust and anger continued to simmer in her eyes.
"Well you know my name," the cripple pointed out tensely.
"That's true," the mysterious Eidisi conceded with a nod. "But you haven't earned mine. Now go on. Ask the burning question I can see written all over your face."
"So disappointing. That's always what everyone wants to know isn't it? Like it really matters why they are where they are...like they really haven't a clue how they got here."

Max raised an expectant brow while the Eidisi studied her. After a few trills the woman sighed and leaned forward. "Maybe you'll earn that truth one day, but like my name, you haven't merited its telling yet. I'm in Scalvoris Town for more meetings than this. Truthfully, Maxine, I'm only here out of personal interest. The Raven doesn't care about you or Merces. You're ants to us. But I'd been watching you before we filled your man with bolts and set your house ablaze. I must admit, your choice surprised me. Why did you pick him? It didn't seem very...you."
"You haven't earned that story yet," the Rusalka parroted smartly. The wise-crack brought a grin to the woman's face. It was the sort of toothy smile that made one wonder whether the other person was amused or thinking about breaking some legs. A waitress appeared at the tableside before Max got to properly find out.
"Hello, Trudi," the Eidisi greeted the newcomer before she'd had a chance to introduce herself to the table.
"Tals!" the waitress squealed with bright eyes. "Looking beautiful as ever. I'd expect nothing less. How goes the study in Almund?!" The corners of Max's mouth twitched in delight. Either "Tals" was some sort of alter ego, or this woman was well acquainted with Trudi prior to her criminal days and lying about what she was really doing in Almund. The Eidisi caught the mirth written all over her table partner's face but her facade didn't faulter.
"Trudi, sweetheart, you're too kind! Be a doll and get me some of that vegetable dish and that wine I like? Shimmering...?"
"Koriel! Shimmering Koriel. You got it, gorgeous. Anything for your friend?"
"Oh, no thank you. She's not staying long."
"Alright then, Love. I'll be back!" The waitress winked and turned on her heels, hustling off to put the order in as soon as possible. Max folded her arms across her chest.

"Look, Maxine," the Eidisi redirected their focus back to their original meeting with a rub to her temples. "You have until I finish this wine and this food to convince me you have anything of our interest. Succeed and I'll maybe think about running it by The Raven. Fail? I walk out these doors and the next time you see me again, our meeting won't be quite so cordial. Get talking."
"Sure, 'Tals'," Max couldn't help but mocking before getting straight to it. "I get that whatever Merces and I did offended The Raven. Respect, power, I get it. I also know that getting rid of us was the dumbest thing you all ever did."
"Everything you Red Ravens do has to be careful, cautious, and planned from the shadows. You're just as at the mercy of the Elements as anyone else in Scalvoris. I bet you have someone on the inside to pay off to make sure deals go uninterrupted and any heat you catch dies off quick...but you can't buy everyone. Imagine if the Elements' grip on Almund...slipped."
"What are you getting at?" the other woman asked carefully, a single brow raised with surprise and suspicion.
"With the Elements out of the way, The Raven could grab enough influence that the Red Ravens wouldn't have to hide. You could control Almund. No more hiding, no more purse-breaking deals. You'd be like the second coming of the Pirate Lords some of the people there still long for. Your laws would be the laws."

Silence persisted between the two for the few trills Trudi was back at the table. A glass of Shimmering Koriel was placed before "Tals" along with the vegetable dish, the latter which arrived long before the food of others that had been seated before the alluring blonde. The Eidisi speared a piece of broccoli on the end of her fork and took a sip of her white wine thoughtfully. Max waited patiently while she took a bite, chewed, and swallowed with a shake of her head.
"No," the woman waved the Rusalka off. "This is a waste of my time. I will not hear of promises and fantasies you can't possibly hope to deliver."
"I can help you do it," Max growled her protest with enough force that the Eidisi looked up again with a challenging glare.
"Yeah, and just how do you plan on doing that? I want to hear some semblance of a bloody plan. Now."
"You haven't heard, have you?"
"Heard what?"
"This really must be your first trial in Scalvoris Town."
"What are you talking about?"

Max rolled her eyes and leaned in toward the table to begin her retelling of the Element kidnappings. To the Eidisi she left almost nothing out. She told her about the drugged drinks, the mysterious ship, the trials underground, the sacrifice and resurrection of Vega, the epic battle that finally ensued, and finished with the tragic collapse of the docks that claimed so many more lives. The whole time the other woman sat in perfect silence. Once and a while her expression betrayed her shock or anger, but her eyes were alight mostly with bright interest.

"The people have lost faith in their Elements, Shark," Max explained the most prudent point of her storytelling, leaning back in her seat again. "You can hear it in the taverns. How can you not feel it in the air? The people are angry. They're scared. They want justice and revenge. The Elements as a whole have failed them. It's only a matter of time before they start to rise up, and if it can happen here, it can happen in Almund." The Eidisi continued to eat her meal and drink her wine. Each gesture she made was cautious. Max's brow knit together. The silence from the Red Raven Shark was only proof she hadn't gone far enough. "I've already told my story in the Four in Hand and people listened. I can't lead a revolution, but I can steer it in the right direction when the time comes."
"I'll play," the blonde said, lifting her fork to point it in Max's direction. "Let's say this all can be done. What do you get out of it? What is it that you really want?" Maxine's expression darkened considerably. Her initial response to Rich when he'd asked the same question had been so simple. Now that she had a Red Raven sitting across from her, hearing her out, she realized what she wanted wasn't simple at all. She wanted so. Much. More.

"I want the Elements to pay for what they've done," she snarled lowly. Her hand on the table balled into a tight fist. "I want to see them fall just as hard as you do." The blonde surveyed her expression, noted the crutch, and slowly nodded her approval. She took another bite of her vegetable dish. This proposition might've been simply business for The Red Ravens. For Maxine, however, this issue with the Elements was profoundly personal
"All that," she agreed. "All that and what else. What do you want from us?"
"You have snitches throughout the island, yes?"
"I might."
"I want information. Any leads your eyes and ears can find on him. And I want asylum in Almund."
"Perhaps it was wise we didn't kill you after all, Maxine. You surprise me all the time. I'll take this to The Raven, but I make you no promises. Understand?"
"When will I know his answer?"
"We have ways of finding people. You should know that well enough. Leave me now, Maxine, but don't stray too far from Scalvoris Town. I have a feeling we'll be in touch very, very soon."

The Rusalka rose from her seat, snatched her crutch and made her way toward the exit. Left in peace, Talara Helviani was free to finish her meal alone. Her mind swam with possibilities. What Max had offered was too good to pass up, and yet it was fixing to be the longest shot she'd ever considered gambling on. She knew the Rusalka to be trouble. Hot-headed, unpredictable, belligerent trouble. And still, with a city on the verge of uprising, the Red Raven knew there was likely no better place for such an asset to be. This would be an interesting season for the Red Ravens indeed.
word count: 1981
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Tristan Venora
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Wealth Tier: Tier 10

She Who Made Me Choose

Name: Max

Detection: Recognizing Someone You've Only Met Once
Detection: Recognizing a Slip in Someone's Mask
Detection: Recognizing a Obvious Lie
Discipline: Choosing to Negotiate Over Taking Revenge
Intelligence: Gaining Access to Another Person's Information Network
Negotiation: Offering Something They Want

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

Points: 10
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Comments: This is the first of your threads that I've read, so I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. You are a great writer!

I'll watch your PC from now on!
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