The darkness hung like a cloud over Etzos, shadows flickering in the torch light that lined the walls of the city. A chill was in the air, making it almost unpleasant to breathe as it filled the lungs. The city was just stirring in what would normally be at sunrise, but the current season kept the atmosphere in constant twilight.
Kydrel made his way from his rickety wooden home, still intact regardless of the danger he was warned about, no Aukari having threatened him or even shown themselves. He was still skeptical about their presence, a part of him suspicious of a marketing tool used against him in trying to get him to pay more for a pricier homestead. But that fear tactic wouldn’t work. He wasn’t afraid of a few invaders. If anything, he looked forward to a challenge.
The yellow eyed figure felt the chill in the air around him and unfurled his wings slightly, draping himself in them like a cloak. His wings covered the heavy Avriel plated mail that covered his torso, legs and arms, his morning star, pistol crossbow and buckler at his waist, kris strapped to his calf. Some would deem his constant combat garb unnecessary, especially inside the city. But for him, it came down to a lack of trust. He knew nobody in the city, had no allies topped by the regular glances of dislike shot his way. He was at the very least, wary. He’d rather be seen as someone not to be messed with rather than vulnerable and open to harassment.
Moving through the city at a brisk pace, Kydrel wove through the curved streets, making his way to Bounty Board the Employment Coordinator had informed him of. He had spent the last few days familiarizing himself with the city, trying to get a read on the people. But blending in was troublesome, it made it difficult to get a feel for the atmosphere when all he sensed was dislike directed at himself.
Shaking off the irritation he felt riling up because of the constant racism he faced that got in the way of his job, Kydrel finally came into the general area of the Crescent Arena. He stalked towards the large parchment board he saw pinned to a wall directly in front of the entrance of the Citadel. He withdrew his wings from around his body and folded them neatly behind him, revealing his gear in what he hoped was intimidating.
Coming to a halt in front of the Bounty Board, Kydrel’s amber colored eyes slowly absorbed the twisting letters that covered the page. It was a struggle, but he slowly made out the words, wrestling to make sense of the written Common. But his efforts were interrupted as a deep voice cleared its throat to his left.
Kydrel jerked slightly, so intent on reading, he didn’t even hear the man approach. He berated himself for allowing someone to sneak up on him. He had to be on his A game, even inside the city. Turning slowly, the Avriel eyed the figure coolly, annoyance clearly written across his face.
“What do you want.”
A tall, brawny man loomed over the Avriel, his shaven head and stern features giving him a daunting look. Kydrel noticed one arm, bicep, shoulder and trapezius seemed bulkier than the other by a significant amount. Whatever he did, he most definitely favored one side of his body. But his observation was interrupted as the gruff voice that quite easily matched the man’s physique caught his attention.
“My name is Brer Ridz. I’m a blacksmith over in the Commercial Ring. I have a problem. Are you-" The bulky man eyed him up and down, giving the Avriel’s apparel a critical glance. Kydrel could easily see the distrust in his eyes but also a hint of exasperated anger. The look of a man at his wits end and running out of options. “–for hire?”
Kydrel considered his options. He could either chose a job from the limited list available that was offered by the city or he could take on a local citizen’s in-person offer. It might pay less; he had no idea how wealthy this potential client was or what kind of job he was offering. But on the other hand, it might help to build a reputation among the general populace and get his name around. Maybe it would change how people viewed him. Give him a way in.
But that required him to successfully accomplish the job.
“Yes. Name’s Kydrel Sevnium. Tell me about this job.”
He wasn’t here to make friends. Allies, yes. He didn’t waste time on small talk. He was straight to the point, blunt. Some would appreciate it, others wouldn’t. He didn’t care either way. They were paying him to complete the job, not like him. If they wanted a charismatic people person, they were barking up the wrong tree. He knew who he was and wasn’t about to change it for a few nel. Well, maybe enough of it would tempt him to reconsider…
The man crossed his arms, a scowl taking up residence on his face. An edge of anger colored his words. “I took on an apprentice almost half a season ago, a favor to my late cousin. She sent him to me before she passed, hoping a strenuous job would set him straight. Give him purpose.” He grunted in frustration. “But he has caused me no end of trouble. Always late, never finishing the jobs I’ve given him, lazy and always sneaking off. He’s a grown man for Aeva’s sake. You’d think he was a thirteen year old boy.”
Kydrel resisted the urge to sigh. These details were completely irrelevant. He didn’t need to know why the client was upset or the integrity of the bounty. He needed hard facts. But the man in front of him didn’t seem like the right person to push around, eyeing the hand that could crush his skull like a melon.
“So he is a punk kid. What do you need from me?”
“That’s putting it mildly. He’s an absolute monster. His mother promised me to try and fix him before he passed and I’ve done everything I can. Nothing helps. He’s been bailed out of trouble time and time again by her. Has no sense of responsibility or consequences.” Brer ran out of breathe and stared at Kydrel. “He stole almost half a month’s wages and ran two days ago. I told the authorities but they haven't turned anything up. I think he booked it out of town.”
The Avriel nodded, listening. “Which direction. Any guesses?”
The old blacksmith grimaced, rubbing his grizzled jaw absentmindedly. “If I was to take a guess, I’d say north to Hiladrith. To the west are the mines and to the south is the quarry. Both are heavily guarded. He would know better than to accidently get caught there. They would take him into custody. And then of course to the east is the river.”
“That leaves the north.”
Brer nodded in agreement.
"I will need a description. Also a name."
The blacksmith almost looked surprised for a moment. "Oh right. His name is Will Paora. Has black, curly hair, sharp jaw, kinda weaselly looking. Roughly five feet seven inches...maybe a hundred and twenty pounds?"
Kydrel logged the information away in his memory. Brer crossed his arms again, staring at the Avriel intently.
“I don’t know if he has ever even left the city before. He’s no wilderness expert. I’d be surprised if he hadn’t already been attacked by some animal. But he needs to be taught a lesson. Find him, bring him back, rough him up if you have to, and turn him over to the authorities. It’s time he learned what consequences are.”