• Mature • No Good Deed (Graded)

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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Kasoria
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Posts: 1541
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 935
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No Good Deed (Graded)

15th Trial, Cylus, 706a
South-West outskirts of Middlecleft
16th Bell




He knew his father was a good man. This was a fact etched into his soul, sure as his own name and the smell of his mother's hair. His father was a good man, because he protected people. He enforced "The Law", and Aurus could always just tell that there was capital letters proceeding each word when his father used them. The Law was something sacred and inviolable and crucial to the workings of the city - nay, to all of civilization. It protected the weak from the wicked, empowered the strong to strive further and harder, and bound all together in a commonality of respect.

Officer Miyam was a good man, and he was Aurus' father. So it was rather confusing to him why they were next to the sea, far away from home, never to see it again, because he'd done a good deed.

"Fine fucking mess yer in, mate, I'll tell ya that."

"I didn't have a choice, Larks. That animal was going to cut her throat, what was I supposed to do?"

"Oh, I don't know, how about find a way to not kill the son of the biggest gangster on the South Side?!"

There was a pause from his father, whom he could not see. The boy was listening and watching all from the crack in the door, his older brother and sister slumbering in the room behind him. His mother was washing dishes and his father was sitting with an older man, his Uncle Larks, with a younger man with a long, flowing mustache by the door.

He heard his father sigh, and an empty cup landing on the table.

"I didn't have that option."

"Aye, well, here we fuckin' are, then."

"What's happening?"

Aurus turned and found a small, bleary-eyed figure rubbing his face and frowning at him. His little sister was starting to stir, as well, and he huffed as quietly as he dared. They were both so noisy. Not an ounce of stealth or subtlety about them.

"Shhh! They'll hear you!"

"Who will?"

"Papa and some men he's talking to. Black Guard like him, I think."

"How d'you know?"

Aurus turned his face back to the crack and listened and watched, which he'd always been good at, even at twelve arcs old. "I just do."

Officer Miyam rubbed his face, just like the son he didn't know was illegally awake a door away from him. He hadn't slept in two trials. His face was a stubbly mess and his eyes looked like they had a whore's worth of kohl painted around them. But he couldn't rest, not until they were on that damn boat and out of this damn country and on their way to some damned dusty shithole for the rest of their lives.

All because of Bangun Fucking Vorund, and his fucking wretch of a son.

"You an' yers just keep yer heads down another night or two." Larks got up unsteadily, gut bigger than when he wore a uniform, though the sword at his hip was the same. His cousin quit his leaning and stood ready by the door. "Shouldn't be much longer a'fore yer boat is ready to go. I'll ask again about it tomorrow mornin'."

Miyam rose and spread his arms. The crusty old sod embraced him and sighed into his shoulder.

"Thank you for this, Larks. My family, we-"

"Shut yer hole, Miyam." The older man broke away, face split into a crooked, tobacco-blackened grin. "That scar on my gut aches during the Cold Cycle something fierce... an' without you helpin', way back when, cunt that gave it to me would have gutted me. You stopped that. So you don't thank me for shite like this."

Miyam smiled back and from an unseen crack, a wide-eyed boy could finally see his face. It glowed. It always glowed to Aurus, seeing that smile. There was no meanness hiding behind his eyes, and they always seemed to light up with warmth. He shook his head and clapped his old partner on the shoulder.

"Wish you wouldn't curse so, Larks."

"Always the bloody goody-goody," Larks rumbled amiably, face twisted into a joking grimace. "I need to go, on duty in the morning. The three lads I got outside an' Fields here'll keep an eye on you lot."

"I can't pay you back for-"

"Oh shut it, would you? I can afford them, an' they're good blokes. Not like half the fucking sellswords you find on the coast. Buncha' pirates an' renegades. Nah, these are homegrown boys. An' Fields there is me nephew."

The young man stopped picking his nails with a short knife and muttered something without looking up. Something about "can't prove otherwise" and "crosses to bear". Miyam smiled and Larks guffawed and even Sandra chuckled as she walked over to her husband, sliding her hand into his.

"Sarky little shite."

"Keen wit, though."

"So you say." The retired Black Guard and current watchman lumbered over to the front door and Fields opened it smoothly. "I'll be back in the morning, try not to-"

He stopped dead when he saw the look possess Miyam's features. Gone was the jovial expression, tinged with hope and nostalgic fondness. Now there was a stiff mask of shock, replaced immediately by a stony look that could best be compared to a shield being raised. His wife seemed to share it, too, breaking her grip on her husband and backing away instinctively towards the bedroom.

"What's going on?"

Aurus twisted and ducked and tippy-toed but it didn't matter: his mother was still in the way, and things were happening.

"I don't know, I can't see!"

But Miyam could. Larks could see even better. Beyond the front door of the cottage was a yard and a deep, profound darkness. Fields stretching from the ring of torchlight blazing around the property, disappearing into the endless night of the season. Middlecleft burned on the horizon, maybe a break's ride away from them, but it might as well be an ocean. That was why Larks had chosen this place, after all. Isolated, quiet, and the farm had been abandoned but not sold for most of the arc. Eventually the owners would sell it, but for now it was the perfect place to lay low. And, as chief of security for one of the biggest landowners in Middlecleft, Larks had known about it.

The fields hadn't been tended to in some time. They were not rich with crops now, but flat and dead and dark with naught but soil. During the light, one could guess they'd be able to see for leagues around them, all the way to the road that led onto the property. But right now, they could see nothing but the edge of the fields, the darkness... and the bodies.

And the figures who had replaced them.

"J... Jonas?"

One of the three men standing in a line shrugged his shoulder, a glimmer of regret glittering briefly in his gaze. At his feet were two men, still and cold and scarlet about their chests and necks. His former friends and partners and comrades. Obstacles in the way of his reward, as it turned out.

"Sorry, boss, but they were offerin' more'n you were."

The jerked his head at the two others. One of them holding a crossbow, head shaved to the skin, tattoos covering it. The other was shorter. Slender. Holding a spotless gladius in his hand and staring at the cottage and the people within like they were... nothing. Just part of the landscape. Another space on a list he was working down. The little man sniffed and spat to one side.

Aurus heard him from inside the house. Voice low and lethal.

"Let's get this over with," said Kasoria.
Image
Last edited by Kasoria on Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:14 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 1355

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
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Kasoria
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Posts: 1541
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 935
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Re: No Good Deed

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A dozen trials before, he was looking at a dead son, with their father looming over him. Like a carrion bird that finally found something it couldn't digest.

It was a cold room, as one would expect from a mortuary. Cold was required. It kept the bodies from rotting too quickly, spared them the ravages of time and scavengers until they could be collected, prepared, and sent off in what way the family decided. Kasoria had been in such a place, not long ago. Taking his father from an icy slab of stone, just like the one the dead son was laying on. Stuffing him into a cheap box and walking next to the cart as it clattered over the cobbles, all the way to where they shoved the old man into the ground and buried him.

He didn't like these places. They reeked of one thing alone, and it wasn't death but despair. The absence of hope, or belief, or the light to reprieve those lost in the darkness. There was nothing in here but dead meat and stinking chemicals. The death of dreams. Of memories. Of love.

The man in front of him was no different. He was feared and ruthless, powerful and rich, cunning and sensible. He was all these things and had to be, for a man without those gifts did not last long in the Etzos underworld. Let alone rise to the lofty pinnacle he occupied, boss of the South Side rackets, Mister Bangun Vorund. The Law was a thing obeyed in the Cit' or the Com'See and, yes, in the Oh'Pee... but down here? On the arse of the city? If you skirted or squatted in less-than-legal enterprises, the first law you recognized was that of Bangun Vorund. After that, then you worried about the Black Guard.

Because what they could do was a cock-suck and a flagon of wine compared to what Vorund would do.

"I'm sorry, son..."

He was all these things, but these things were not enough. He was still looking down at the pinched, pale features of a young man barely in his twenties. Hair neatly cut, mustache neatly trimmed, naked as his birthing day and bearing no scars or ink or brands. This was a man who lived the straight life, and he was still the son of a man monstrous among criminals.

Was. Not anymore.

There was no shuffling or throat-clearing or tentative words of support from the clump of men in the room. The mortician himself was long gone, knowing better than to intrude upon a gathering that would be discussing... sensitive matters. He knew who the man was, of course. The man and the dead man. Some of those who trooped in behind their employer were likewise known and made him shudder. He'd have dearly liked to toss them all out and not have his name tarred with such an association, but-

One of the men looked at him, for just a moment. The smallest one, actually. Thin-looking with sharp cheekbones and a short beard. But that one look was enough to banish such thoughts. Freeze the defiance in his mind into still, paralyzed submission.

Then Kasoria kept on talking, leaving the corpse-botherer to the top of the business, and followed the other sellswords downstairs.

"I want the man who murdered my boy found." Vorund spoke very clearly. No emotion. No cries of vengeance or vows or justice. It was like all the feeling had been already drained from his soul. Now there was just a bloody mechanism where his heart was, powering his body as it gave orders. "I want his family found along with him. And I want them dead in front of him, before you take his head and bring it back to me."

Kasoria peered down at the faces of the men next to him, killers and cutthroats all. None of them flinched. Which was why they in particular had been chosen, he'd wager. Even street daemons and mercenaries had limits, most of the time. They'd turn their cloaks and butcher without a qualm, but they had some hazy professional standards. Murdering women and children was a fairly universal one, to those that had them. So Vorund had gathered men who did not have them. And one who was there because he didn't know if that was the case, and because he was simply that good at what he did.

That'd be you, mate.

"Carrow? You're in charge." Vorund tossed a fat purse to the clean-shaven man with a rapist's brand on his cheek, forever damning him to work in the dark corners of humanity. "There's coin there to bribe the fucking Council, if you have to. Which I doubt."

"Any word on where this Blackjack is?"

"Left the city, of course." Vorund spoke as he looked back down at his son. Gently stroking his face. Voice as stoic as ever, jarring eerily with his remorseless words and tender movements. "He knew whose son he murdered."

Again with that word, and Kasoria did notice a slight look of... evasion, that time. Flickering across the faces of the sellswords, knowing that Vorund's attention was elsewhere. They'd all heard the story from the Underground, which had a grapevine and gossip line as thick and voluble as any collection of chattering maids. Word was, Vorund's precious boy had a knife to the throat of a North Side whore when the Blackjack in question smashed down the bedroom door. He'd spat his hatred at the copper and started cutting her up, with the words "My father will have your-" on his lips.

He never finished. The Blackjack apparently did not care for the boy's father, and neither did the short sword he rammed through his throat.

Kasoria could see the wide, fat wound on the corpse. Oddly bloodless now. Disturbingly so. Hole that big, you expected blood. Some sign of life, or the end of it. Instead it was just... there. Telling everyone that death was most certainly the state of the bearer. Vorund was stroking uncomfortably close to it, too.

"Probably won't be heading West," Carrow said, stowing away the gold. "He knows you're into the caravans going that way, and it wouldn't be hard to chase down one him and his kin were on. Added t'that, you've got friends in Hiladrith. Could send word there, have men waiting." The mercenary scratched the skin around his brand. It never really stopped itching. "More likely he'd head t'Fosters. Get a ship across the ocean. Andaris. Rharne. Maybe even further."

"Middlecleft makes more sense."

That did not come from Carrow. All eyes turned to the little man in the group, and Kasoria stared back at Vorund without a trace of fear. He'd worked for the man enough times... hell, for plenty of men like him, enough times and planted enough bastards in the ground that a stern look was not going to rattle him. But more than that, he happened to be right. His gaze switched from the man paying him to the man leading him, and he spoke to Carrow.

"If he knows Mister Vorund has contacts in the caravans, and in Hiladrith, he knows he's got just as many in Fosters. Maybe more, considering all the traffic coming outta the place. If he's looking to sneak away - and if he's got his family with him, he will be - makes more sense to go further south down the coast, where Mister Vorund has less eyes and ears. Get a boat outta a slow like Middlecleft."

Carrow did not like that, apparently. His face screwed up in disdain at the very suggestion. The grieving of their paymaster was forgotten; street rules demanded that dominance be established, and no-one was under any illusions that this was a challenge.

"And what if yer wrong and he does go to Fosters? And we're down in Middlecleft and miss him when he bolts over the ocean?"

"I'll send another crew to Fosters. You go to Middlecleft." Carrow all but whirled around to face Vorund, who was looking at Kasoria with an intent, curious expression. "I've got the money to send men to every town and village and city in the territory. Another bunch of murdering bastards won't put me out."

"Sir, I think we should-"

"Don't question me, Carrow. Not today. Not here."

Carrow was a piece of shit, but not a stupid one. His mouth snapped shut and he kept his face as submissive as possible. He knew the men flanking him would open his throat and quarter him like a lamb for the pot after a single nod from Vorund. Cobbles, Merry, Venger, that little shit Kasoria... they were men that didn't turn down work, no matter what it was. Men, women, kids, young, old... it was all a purse to them. Who had to die to get it was not a factor for them.

"Yes, sir. Middlecleft it is."

Vorund turned back to his son, but paused to take a second measure of Kasoria as his gaze passed over him. It lingered there, as if he were a man thinking again about a purchase he'd held back from before. He saw the man a second time, not just the blades and the fists that had made him a minor legend among his kind, but the brain working under that nest of black hair.

He liked what he saw. But this was not the day for recruiting. Instead he turned back to his son, his poor body, his heir that should have inherited something better and cleaner than the filth he'd worked in for decades... and now he was gone. Because he couldn't protect him. Because he wasn't there. He was a parent, and these scum could not know what that meant.

It's always on you. It's always your fault.

"Go. All of you."

The gang lord bent down to kiss his son's blue cheek, and Kasoria couldn't get out of there fast enough.
word count: 1724

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: 1541
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 935
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Wealth Tier: Tier 5

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Re: No Good Deed

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At dozen breaks before, he was looking at a hollow man in the bottom of an ale mug. Himself, in other words.

The tavern was not roaring, or rocking, or carousing, or any of the things he'd expect from an Etzos establishment. Instead there was a haze of exhaustion settled across all those drinking and eating and quietly chatting within. The stench of sweat and dirt and sea salt was everywhere, soaking into the food, the drink, the wood of the chairs. Men twisted back and forth in their seats, working out kinks in their back. More than one table occupant had tipped back his hat and was quietly snoring.

So dead a man can sleep after a hard day's work. Hardly a good mood for a tavern.

The satirical thought chuckled through his mind, but did not break his mood. He was looking at a stranger in the bottom of his cup. Made into shades of black and grey by the liquid and the angle and the lighting. But it was him. Definitely him. Inescapably him. No matter how he looked at it, he couldn't see his father in his features. No roundness in his cheeks. No wide eyes that sparkled with genuine enjoyment when he serviced a customer. No thick neck from arcs lifting produce and stacking shelves.

All Kasoria saw was himself.

This is what they see. The last breath, the last drop, the last trill. This is what they take on their journey.

"Looks like we got a bite, boys." Carrow slid back onto his seat and the other two men at the table looked up expectantly. "Fella I got talking to, works as a guard for one of the big farmers. Said something about a family, from Etzos, arrived recently. Didn't mention the woman and kids, but he did say the bloke looked like a soldier."

Cobbles spat tobacco into an empty glass already quarter-filled with the shit. "Or a Blackjack."

"That was my thought."

"How pliable is this fella youse were talking to?" Venger sneered at him without intending to; the scar that had fucked his face up years ago had only grown larger and uglier as he got older. "He willing to help us out? Point us in the right direction? More than that?"

Carrow shrugged and took a hefty slug of his ale. He'd done a lot of talking and his throat was parched. Kasoria mentally slapped himself out of his pessimistic reverie and paid attention. They'd been in two three trials and this was their first big break. It had taken two just to find the right tavern, the right crowd, which was nearly always the way. Whatever segment of society you were in, you always had a watering hole.

"Dunno yet, but he's young and his clothes look like shite, so a few gold nels dangled in front of him might help." Carrow finished his ale and ordered another. When the wench was gone, he continued. "Long as I can get a location from him, an address, something like that, we're golden. This is the bloke we're after, lads. I can fucking feel it."

Really getting into the whole Fearless Leader part, isn't he?

Again, Kasoria ignored himself. Just like he wished he could ignore Carrow's smirk when he looked over at him, still nursing his first drink. "That all right with you, Kas? Any other searing fucking insights you'd like to offer?" Kasoria shook his head, and Carrow snorted. "Aye, didn't fucking think so. Not when the boss isn't around for you to impress."

Another discharge of vile juices, and Cobbles rolled his eyes. Oldest among them and already tired of squabbling children. "All right, let's eat and drink and then fuck off back to the lodging house. Wanna make sure Merry hasn't done something stupid."

"Why not bring him with us?"

"Nah," Cobbles said, shaking his head and eyeing up the wench passing them... then shuddering briefly. "Don't wanna bring him around too many women. Trust me on that. S'not a good idea."

Kasoria blinked and studied the older man's face. Something nameless, disgusted and sorrowful and irritated, all of it at once, passed across it. He'd heard all about Merry, of course. Couldn't visit a whore for a day afterwards, but at least he knew. Seemed like Cobbles had a deeper connection to the man... family, maybe? If so, he didn't envy him. Then something behind the old man caught his eye, and-

"Carrow?"

"Fuck is it, Kas?"

Carrow turned and saw Kasoria nodding towards something over his shoulder. A young man in cheap leather armor was gesturing at him, as subtly as he dared. Trying to get his attention, get him to come over. Carrow got up without a word and nodded to the backdoor. The two of them vanished, then Carrow came back alone ten bits later.

Grinning.

Looks like we're on.

Continued here
word count: 850

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
Mads
Approved Character
Posts: 382
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:37 pm
Race: Human
Profession: hex hawker
Renown: 65
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Re: No Good Deed

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Kasoria the Raggedy Man
Knowledge.........
Detection: Noticing When Someone Has a Personal Connection to Someone They're Speaking Of
Discipline: No Speeches, No Theatrics, Just Do The Job
Discipline: Kill Often Enough, For Long Enough, And Fear Becomes a Thing Harder to Evoke
Intelligence: Identifying a Likely Escape Route
Intelligence: Finding the Watering Hole for Local Muscle
Tactics: Avoiding Where Your Enemy is Strongest

NPC Vorund: Father to a "Murdered" Son
NPC Vorund: Has Contacts in Cities Across the Continent, But Not Over the Sea
NPC Vorund: Demands Wholesale Slaughter for His Dead Son
NPCs Carrow, Venger, Cobbles, Merry: No Contract Too Despicable
NPC Carrow: Leader of the Pack
NPC Merry: Sickening Even By The Pack's Standards
Middlecleft: Not Nearly as Busy as Foster's Landing
Loot....................
None
Consequence......
None
Renown..............
+5 for standing his ground in front of Vorund and his assorted cuthroats
Experience...........
10
You have like... three typos in the entire thing, and they were really confusing ones! AAH! No, but that aside? Excellent, excellent exposition piece. You have such a mastery over progression, it's insane. Please, please, please write a book. I will be the first one to buy it, dear lord. Anyway. When I read that Vorund's son was killed, I gasped out loud and knew exactly what was coming, and you still paced that first scene so well; when they showed up, even though I knew they would, there was still that delicious "Ohhhhhhhhhh!" moment and, honestly, I have no idea how you manage to acheive such intense scenes without having anyone even do anything. Then you pop into a flashback with more exposition on what's going on, who's where, Kas being a totall badass like he always is, and setting up that tasty little hook with Vorund taking notice that there's more to the little Raggedy Man than he's hired him to do - not that he's never known, just that it's a bit clearer to him now. Your NPCs were all that perfect mix of gritty and greasy while still retaining their own indivuidality which went even as far as how they spoke. Little difference, major change in how they read and felt. I am always excited to read what you've been doing, and I've gotten a bit lax in keeping up, but after this hook of a thread, I'm reeled in for the rest, regardless of whether I'm reveiwing or not.

Also screw you to heck with this tease, wtf Kas.
Please edit your grade request.

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