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20th of Vhalar 719

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Kasoria
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Ordinary People (Llyr) (Graded)

20th trial, Vhalar, 719
Commercial Circle, Etzos
13th break



He didn't need Vorund's list for everything. The information within was targeted, narrow, specific. Within the borders of underworld influence and political chicanery, yes, it was deep and useful. Many a name was new to the reader, and more than one surprised him. But now he knew them, whatever dirty secret or illicit deal the long-departed Bangun Vorund had knowledge of, lived again. But these things? They are just part of a whole. There was still the daily tumult and tedium of the trials to get through. No righteous crusade nor melodramatic vendetta existed apart from the humdrum of human existence.

One still needed to eat. To sleep. To launder clothes and bathe oneself. To shit and piss and complain about aging joints and a dicky stomach.

One still needed to attend to make calls to craftsmen, for items beyond their ken. Which was what brought Kasoria to a dead man's smithy that reeked of smoke and burning iron.

"Be wiv' yeh in a tick!"

Only vaguely human and intimidating in all ways a man could conceive (aside from sheer, looming size), Kasoria waited. He stood and waited in the doorway of the smithy... until his feet started to ache. Then he found a stool and sat on it. Just another old man, resting weary legs, with a pack on one side and a crust of bread in the other. The remains of his supper, munched slowly as he'd walked here. Even with his ever-flowing cloak and the black eyes and the hidden, pulsing black chains about his arms... he looked more like a man than usual. Small and fragile. Waiting to be attended to, as if his name and reputation were as naught.

Could be worse things. To know and to be.

The exhalation was almost a sigh, and then he shook the doubtful feeling away. It profited him nothing. Instead, he looked about the place he waited in. The heat and smells told him right away that ironmongery of all sorts was its purpose. From down the street he could here the clanging and hammering, the hiss of water cooling red-hot metal. Everywhere hung tools of the trade. Hammers and tongs. Casts set in stone and wood and pig iron. Smaller, more refined tools for engraving and working out corners, shapes, lengths and dimensions beyond a hammer's ability... and Kasoria's understanding, since he could barely name half of them.

Never was your trade. Not this part of metal, anyway.

"Sorry fer the wait, was just... finishing up..."

It was a younger man than expected who shook Kasoria from his reverie. A precious trill or two, before he looked up and into the eyes of a man barely into his twenty-fifth arc. Samael had been a touch older than Kasoria, when last he'd met the man. Broader around the gut, too, to match his shoulders. This... boy, seemed a meal or three away from proportionate. His arms were thick but his shoulders not rounded enough. As if the work at the furnace had planted slabs of muscle onto his working limbs, but not enough to augment the rest of him. Kasoria's eyes flickered over the bare skin showing on his arms and neck. No, far too few burns and scars. This man hadn't been working here for more than a season or two.

"Yer not Sammy."

"Well... no. I'm 'is son. Belly." The stranger's black eyes (Fates, what happened to his eyes?!) flickered down to his stomach, and the smithy sighed. As if he were about to trot out an old and tired explanation. "Short fer Belial."

The moment of irritation lasted not much longer. The stranger blinked, and Belial had to note the way the light shifted on his eyes to be sure of it. The man wore a cloak and hood, probably against the growing chill outside, but now he was closer he could tell there was... something else. As if cloud or smoke was curling around him all the time. When the little man stood up, the cloud of darkness came with him. Metal clanked under the cloak, and Belial gulped. That sounded like a lot of weaponry.

"Wh... ahem... why did yeh want t'see my-"

"I knew yer Da was frum de Oh'Pee," Kasoria cut in, as if the question had never been asked. "So I knew he'd 'ave the accent. But youse? I remember youse runnin' about 'is feet last time I wuz 'ere. Born an' raised inna Comm'See. So... why d'yeh sound like 'im so much now?"

He could see the young man sweating, and not just from the forge. He knew that look. Belial, Belly, whomever he was, was deciding whether or not to come clean. Which you only did when a lie was at work. The smithy licked his lips and darted his eyes and shuffled his feet and after a moment Kasoria quirked an amused eyebrow. The boy had about as much taste for deception as Kasoria did blacksmithing.

"I, ah... I put it on a bit, t'keep the toffs off me. You know. Around here."

"That a problem, inna Comm'See? They're all toffs."

"Yeah, and my Dad wasn't," Belly said with a new vehemence in his voice. "They never let him forget about that, either. So I... put on the accent a wee bit harder fer new visitors, y'ken?" He dared a smile, and Kasoria just blinked at him. "Lets 'em think I'm tougher than they assume."

"Wouldn't it be smarter t'drop the accent, an' jus' talk like them?"

"Bollocks t'that. My Dad'd jump out his grave and kick shite outta me."

Finally, a smirk creased Kasoria's features. He despised being lied to, even tangentially, but he had to respect the spirit behind such actions. Belly could take the easy route an assimilate, but not at the expense of dishonoring his father and the man's memory. He chuckled and picked up his bag. More metal clunked and shifted inside it.

"I've got a job I wanna commission yeh fer. Yer Da was a fine man wit' a furnace at his hands. Reckoned you'd be likewise."

He didn't ask where the old man was. Didn't need to. Every family had been scarred and diminished by the siege. With so many millions dead, it was impossible not to be. So fathers had been replaced by sons, and often the other way around, for so many young men had died in defense of Etzos. In this case, nature had stayed true to course, and the young and followed the old. Instead, Kasoria hefted the bag onto a nearby table, and upturned it.

Belly leaned closer as he matching vambraces settled on the dented wood. Old, cracked leather, but reliable and what his father would call "modified". He picked one up, and saw there were sheathes wrapped around it. One large enough to sheath two throwing knives, side by side. The other one had the same cuts and holes in it. Belly nodded approvingly.

"Clever. Allows you t'draw them quick, and they won't be expecting them to come straight from yer wrist."

Kasoria didn't speak. He let the craftsman peruse the rest of what was in front of him. It didn't take long. Belly held up the gauntlet so its knuckles faced the ceiling. Three yellowish spikes jutted in front of his face. Arrowheads, the smithy realized at once. Only they'd been broken from their shafts and tied to the vambrace. He frowned and slid his hand into it. Had to struggle, too, because clearly they were made for a smaller man. But as he suspected, when he got his hands through it, and made a fist... the copper spikes were right where his punching knuckles would be.

"... you were at Rhakros, aye?" The little man nodded, and gave no more away than that. Belial smiled and snorted in the same moment. "I'll be thrice-damned and double dipped in shite. Yer... I think I heard about you. Can't quite think of the name-"

"Name ain't important, lad. Jus' need yeh t'make somethin' fer me."

"Like what?"

"I want these bracers-"

"Vambraces-"

"Aye, well, whatever they're fuckin' called, I want you t'make 'em fresh. To fit me. See these sheathes? I want 'em already build into the leather... an' I want these arrows melted down and made inta' spikes on the knuckles. Quarter-inch, mebbe a third." He shrugged, experience of the macabre and horrific dulling his reaction to the things he'd fought seasons before. "Ghost or magic fuckin' creature, that's likely all I'll need."

Belly frowned, professional concerns already being listed in his mind. Had to focus on the job, after all. The task at hand.

"I could do that... but copper's soft. I mean, it's metal, but you go batterin' at people wiv' it fer too long and you'll dull the spikes."

"I'll work around that, lad. Can yeh do what I ask?"

Belial's mouth worked from side to side under his beard and the dirt and the smoke. He rubbed his beard and held up a finger for patience. Then he went into the back and Kasoria heard quick but efficient rummaging sounds for a few bits. Upon a delighted "ah-HA!", the smithy returned, dull red vambraces in each hand. He laid them on the table, letting the customer inspect the product.

"I can do yeh something like this. This metal plate, almost on top of yeh hand? I can remove that, leave the leather, fix those spikes on instead. Three on each, between the knuckles. You don't want them on each knuckle, trust me. Punch something too hard and you'll break them." Kasoria's eyebrows rose sharply. Huh. He hadn't thought of that. "As fer the sheaths, sure, I can cut the underside t'fit your blades. Do yeh have any-"

Kasoria's hand came up from under the cloak and placed two of them on the table. Belial decided not to question the fact that he'd already been holding them. Instead he swallowed and kept going.

"Ah... that'll do. So, fer all this... I'm thinking..."

The little man didn't waste time haggling or bartering or arguing. He didn't have the patience for it, and fine work deserved good reward. He rummaged around himself now, until he came up with a purse. He counted out each coin of the price answered, then gave ten more. Belial frowned and Kasoria saw a flush of annoyance in those brown eyes.

"I don't need yer charity, sir, friend of my Dad or not-"

"Not charity. Speed, cuz I need these done by the end a' the day, and silence. Youse don't tell no-one 'bout this, or me."

Belly shrugged and spread his arms. Fearsome as this man looked, terrible though the rumors were about the stunted, ferocious, merciless "Shield Mage" of the Siege of Rhakros, he still could not help but smile. Not at the man, but at what little he knew. How could a man betray without facts to pass along? Especially when-

"Don't even know yer name, sir. Who would I tell? And about what?"

Kasoria smiled briefly, and nodded the point. But the coins stayed on the pile.

"Don't always need a name t'know a man. Besides, I ain't exactly hard t'spot in a crowd. More'n that, y'said yeh heard about me, from the war. Probably gonna ask a few questions, sate yer curisoity, aye? No, no, ain't no need t'tell me yeh won't. That's what the coins fer. To see to it yeh can ask, but y'don't tell, yeh ken? 'sides... yer Da was a good worker. Fine armorer. Good t'be showin' his son the same respect."

Belial clearly was not happy with the answer, but he had wisdom enough not to push the issue further. The price he'd named had been above average, because his craft was much the same. He didn't stint on metals or leathers or time or casting or anything that went into his goods. From horse shoes to plate armor, what he made, he made tough, and lasting. This item would be no different. More to the point, well... he was still starting off, in many ways. Needed to build up his funds, his reputation. Couldn't hurt to keep extra coin in your pockets, when you were at that embryonic stage of a business.

Especially after most of the city's fucking dead. Definitely kills your market place.

"A'right, sir. Come back around around sunset, an' I'll have 'em finished for you."

Kasoria nodded and turned to the door. He spoke nothing else before leaving, for nothing needed to be said. He left the blasting heat of the forge for the bitter, gnawing cold of Etzos in Vhalar. Seven breaks. Maybe eight. Enough to run a couple more errands.
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Woe
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Re: Ordinary People (Llyr)


If one had a mind to work, there was plenty of the honest sort for one to get involved in the repopulation of the respectable wards of Etzos. Once you got out into the Outer Perimeter, or as the dregs referred to it, the 'Oh'Pee,' kind and honest as concepts lost to the reddened mud of so much sin, violence, and treason. That was where Woe spent much of his productive time, mingling with the stabbers, rapers, and filchers.

At the moment, Woe was entertaining just one such of these gentlemen, trying to get a confession for a local guardsman, who'd promised Woe some whoring or drinking coin if he could obtain a disclosure about a crime he'd either committed or witnessed. The guard wasn't particular about which of these Woe received from the client. So long as the guard could collar someone. Pickings were slim for the sake of self-promotion if you were a law and order type, but crimes still happened. And as far as high crimes went, treason was a neverending stream. And they were ever appreciated by the more upper classes.

The Webspinner reckoned he'd already wrung the man dry of secrets, with little to show for it, until he hit on the fact that Woe didn't need to torture him in fact, every time he wanted him to spill noise. So after giving him a round under the pinions of the spider, Woe's favorite toy, the Webspinner, thought to have a game with the man.

"Please... Let me go; I don't kn..." A muffled voice spoke through the gag, and then what might've been a piercing scream issued from the man's vocal cords. It rose in response to Woe bringing his iron spider, near his face, its pinions still dripping with his blood. By then, he'd already done a fair job on the man elsewhere, that the mere thought of torture, and the hint of more of the same, was torture in itself. One only needs to apply the memory of torment, and then it could be called into being at the slightest provocation. It was cruel, but necessarily so.

Woe knotted that sense of terror, to store it for later in the client's tangle. He had one last switch to pull before he was ready to let the man out. "Tell me about the riot you had planned. Treason is a serious crime, but I can pull strings for you if you cooperate." Woe told him. He strummed emotions of confidence in the man, which was a hard change after having so recently exploited his terror. He had to do so gently, gradually moving him over to calm, and then confidence. Sometimes it was easier to bring him through the center of the tangle, through hysteria and then out the other end to wherever he would. That was beyond his abilities with the magic, however. Right now, the technique and strategy only existed in theory, in Woe's mind.

"I can help you; you just need to..." Here Woe brandished the spider again, this time knotting the terror that rose to the surface once more. At the same time, he tweaked the man's sense of confidence, bringing him closer to that more positive emotion. "Be brave. Tell me who was planning the riot."

The man showed defiance, which ended with Woe unwinding the knot of terror, which did indeed bring the man to near hysteria. He shouted and screamed behind the gag in his mouth. It appeared the man was possibly innocent, or beyond reason. Perhaps both. The two weren't mutually exclusive, after all.

Woe was about to drive the spider back into the man's flesh, but when the pinions made contact with his shoulder, their points broke off at an odd angle, ruining its functionality. Woe's face went blank in irritation, and he tried pushing them in. No luck, the points fell off entirely and uselessly to the ground. The entire spider was now a useless piece of cast iron, for all the times Woe had put it in the fire.

He sighed and went about waxing the man's ears so he wouldn't hear any more for a time. "What're yer doing?" The lowlife asked, but Woe wouldn't answer. It would've been a waste anyway, as his ears got stuffed with wax.

"Fargis!" Woe called to the entrance of his dungeon, "I need you in here."

Woe threw a hood over the man's head, and began treating his wounds as best he knew how bandaging the opened skin and flesh and putting a poultice on it. His client squirmed as he applied for the medicines, but otherwise was proving docile, yet shaking at every touch of Woe's hands.

"Oy, master?" Fleaface appeared at Woe's back, looking on the scene with dull eyes. Woe turned to him and gestured toward his client. "I need you to run this man back to the Outer Perimeter. Don't let him see or hear you before he takes the hood off. Just cut his binds when you arrive there, and run."

Fleaface rubbed his nose and winced, "Didja get whatcher wanted?"

Woe shrugged. "We'll see if it leads anywhere. Not much anyway."

"Err, thassa shame." Fleaface twisted his mouth, and then took up the client's arm, leading him up and out of the dungeon. Once he got outside the house, he made for the streets, leading him along the less traveled alleys that Fleaface knew so well.

Meanwhile, this led Woe to inspect the spider that he'd owned for so long. The metal instrument had seen many tormented clients in its time. It almost had sentimental value at this point. Yet, he'd need to replace it. Cast iron couldn't easily reforge. Perhaps if he could keep a part of it for himself? Or incorporate it into the new tool.

At any rate, he had a date with the Blacksmith.



A break later, he arrived at a blacksmith's shop in the Comm Ward. There, a shorter, long-haired man was chatting up the blacksmith. Woe courteously disregarded most of what he heard, until the man's voice lowered, conspiratorially. Usually, this wouldn't have raised Woe's hackles, but he was already being put under a bit of pressure by the guards to find any information regarding crime or treason that they could nail people to the cross. So the mere hint of deception was often enough to get his attention.

He didn't come out and announce himself though, but lingered a bit, waiting his turn to present the broken spider to the smith so that he could reforge it anew.

When the ragged man turned and left, Woe nodded courteously toward him and then approached the counter. "I broke my tool." the Webspinner said, laying it down on the bench. The pinioned clamp, known in the torturer's trade as a spider, was indeed broken off at the sharpened pinions. While it might look intimidating to some, it was quite useless. "Do you think you can make another, possibly incorporating some of this metal?"
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Kasoria
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Re: Ordinary People (Llyr)

"S'rat, innit?"

"Sir-Sir, I couldn't possibly-"

"Cows're dead, sheep're dead, goats're dead. Even the cats n' dogs are dead. So... s'rat."

The woman shifted nervously behind her counter, yet Kasoria couldn't see much fear of him in her eyes. Which was both gratifying and unusual. People usually took one look at him, swaddled in shifting darkness and stark with mutated eyes, and promptly felt their bowels loosen. But the woman at the grocers was more worried about... ah... the words carrying. For the line of punters behind Kasoria was starting to pay attention.

"The herds were decimated, sir, but fortunately... well... unfortunately, really, so many good people died during the siege that, well... what did survive for slaughter has proven more than enough. Less food, but less mouths... it sort of evens out."

Kasoria frowned and sniffed the gauze-wrapped package in his hand. Meat enough for half a season, if a man knew prudence and, of course, how to cook. It had looked like meat... good meat, anyway, when he'd seen the shanks hanging up. But as he perused the store and filled his sack with supplies, the smell gnawed at him. Tugged at him like a child desperate for attention. Until his memories lined up and that certain smell popped into his mind. Where had he most often found it?

Sewers.

He sighed and leaned forward. Voice low and for only him and the woman he spoke to. "Guessin' I'm gonna have t'really make sure it's cooked 'fore I eat it, aye?"

Skinny Annie cleared her throat and nodded quickly. She used to be quite the stout lady, but despite her talk of bountiful rations, clearly the siege had been rough on her. Pounds had sloughed off her like wax from a candle, and Kasoria was surprised to find quite a curvaceous figure under the rolls of fat he'd once known. He liked Annie... or at least, he liked that she knew how to run a clean and affordable business. Yet even if he didn't think much of her, he knew word traveled. So did rumors. He'd seen whispers of deprivation and corruption and treason transform into riots across the last two seasons. A whole city was fit to tear itself in two, trapped between wishing to hurl the Morty-lovers out and properly embrace the Morty that had aided them.

Plenty of room for chaos in that. Even the mundane kind... like a grocer lady getting lynched over dodgy meat.

"Yes, probably a good idea."

Kasoria straightened back up and sighed. When he spoke again, it was loud enough for all to hear. "Well, sorry t'have doubted yeh, Miss Annie. Lookin' forward t'me lamb shanks."

"Oh, don't mention it, sir. You have a good day!"

Kasoria waved a flippant hand over his shoulder, already walking out the store. A steady trickle of folk were walking by or around him, but never in front of him. A man getting groceries he may have been, yet he was still the Raggedy Man. The aimless or focused perambulations of all paused and altered for him as if he were a parade of hundreds. No-one wanted to be in his way; even fewer wished to touch him. So he walked onward through the dying light, shadows growing longer and darker as the sun began to set.

++++++++++

"I remember youse."

Belial had the hammer up above his head when a new yet familiar voice greeted his ears. He looked up from his work and found... Whoever It Was, standing in the doorway. His other customer was the focus of his words. Belly grimaced and fought the urge to snort. Fates, but he didn't want people like this cluttering up his smithy, even at this time of the trial! A man with a sword brand and the warmth of a corpse, waiting for a damned torture device to be made for him... oh, and here was the other customer. A mutant midget who reeked of death. Belly shook his head instead and brought the hammer down again. The spikes of the spider were almost finished. Three down, one to go...

"From Rhakros," said Kasoria, stepping into the doorway and appraising the somewhat-familiar face. "Didn' see yeh 'til we went through that fuckin' tunnel, but... aye. I remember."

It was a statement of recognition, not camaraderie. Kasoria nodded, as if to himself, and sat opposite the man waiting for his hideous instrument to be recast. He half-smiled as he remembered the tall, skinny, pale man fighting in that magic-soaked place that Lissira had fled to. The monsters and the abominations they'd all carved through. Soldiers and mages, humans and Morty-spawn, all of them cleaving through an ocean of horror and tainted blood to finish their war forever. To avenge their city.

Then the little man's eyes flitted to the necklace around Woe's neck. A web. Unmistakably so. Only one sort of person would wear that around Etzos these trials. Someone who was making their allegiance known and plain to all. Kasoria wondered for a brief moment if there were actually places, buildings, entire streets where such pathetic slaves could come together and show of their little trinkets. Proudly crow their loyalties not to city and kin and species, but to monsters.

Maybe. But this one? He knows he can defend himself, if someone pushes him on it.

Kasoria felt his knuckles twitch. His hands grow hot. He started calculating as he stared coldly at the Morty-lover in front of him, looking as composed and peaceable as a man meditating. He could think of four... no, five ways he could kill him before the man could properly react. Three relying on surprise and speed, two on deception prior to violence. That wasn't including magic... which he factored in, and expanded the count to eight. Belly could be paid off. Hells, the forge would be useful in disposing of-

No. Think clearly. Rationally. You don't need to be leaving bodies in your wake. Not unless you have to.

And what if this is a "have to"?


"What're yeh doin' here?" The Raggedy Man said, keeping the suspicion from his voice as best he could as he rummaged for his pipe. "Odd that we'd run into each other again, innit?" Kasoria frowned as he packed the pipe with baccy and reached over to light it. As he did, Woe could see his cloak slip open, and numerous blade-hilts flashed before him briefly. Then the little man sat back down, and smiled warmly. Tried to, anyway. "Heh. Probably not. Not too many smithy's still open, y'ken? Young Bel 'ere, he's a good 'un fer stayin' open, stayin' busy."

Something growled in him. Something that lacked all but a name to truly give it form and sentience. His Spark hissed in his ear so loud he almost swatted it away. His own paranoia and bubbling rage was feeding it like meat to a starving wolf; it gorged and grew and wanted more. The Raggedy Man exhaled smoke and beat back the Spark. He'd not unleash his powers unless he had to. For now... they were just two men, sitting in a smithy, waiting for their order.
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Woe
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Re: Ordinary People (Llyr)


Belial took the instrument, ignoring the flecks of dried blood that'd caked on pits of rust. Woe stared at the man, his face blank as he tried to check out his reaction to it. The smith probably wished for the days when he could shoe a horse, pound a nail out of a hunk of iron, or make some farming equipment. To have a man looking for war armament, and then right after him another looking to get a torture device refurbished. Woe could see the longing in his eyes for more ordinary orders. "One of those days?" Woe ventured.

The Webspinner smirked without mirth as he dropped his eyes. Before he could soak in the satisfaction of having determined the man's discontent, Woe caught a glint of copper in the corner of his eyes. There was something attached to his neck. He lifted his hand and looked at the token. The familiar copper medallion, the one that'd outed him to Doran in Andaris, the one he thought lost to him in Augiery. He still had it?

The fuck... Woe ground his teeth in irritation. Had Audrae or one of her Vice Queens in their mischief sent one of her children to place that medallion around his neck and thus marking him as a Sintra follower? How had nobody noticed it until now, and why now? The web medallion was a relic of a former time when he was desperate to be acknowledged as a devotee of Sintra. He thought it lost in Augiery when he'd lived in slavery, and everything stripped from him save for his name, which served well enough as a slave's name.

Because that was what it was.

These days, Woe had figured out the merits of caution and keeping his allegiances hidden. He was a better Webspinner now than he was those few arcs ago, or so he thought. Back then? He was the worst Webspinner, barely worthy of the spittle of a hatchling.

He heard footsteps behind him, but before he could tuck it into his collar, he dropped the medallion. The gamble being that one would notice if he tucked it away in his collar, and thus suspicion stoked. His only hope that nobody would care or see. It was a thin and meager hope, but all he could hope for in this dustbin of a city.

"I remember youse." Came the words from behind Woe.

As Belial was fixing the spider, another man had come upon him. Woe looked at him, and nearly froze, but maintained his composure. He couldn't say he knew the man, by anything other than local reputation. Yet that reputation was enough for one even as barely connected as Woe to know. People talked of such figures in hushed whispers, and those whispers made their rounds if one had an ear to listen. Raggedy Man.

Woe nodded to him, but said nothing, yet. Words had value, and Woe wasn't willing to part with his, however, for the sake of his anxiety. That would potentially be a fatal mistake.

The Webspinner couldn't say he remembered seeing the short man on his way through the Southlands. Perhaps he had, while the host traveled, but his time had been occupied herding spiders and trying to get the eight-leggers to rejoin the host. That is when he wasn't putting Lissiran footsoldiers under the whip to interrogate.

Woe could scarcely remember the combat, having locked it up in the back of his mind since. To be called upon in moments of need and unknot when he was ready. He felt his anxiety bleeding out of the knot now.

I know what you feel like doing, but either way would mean death for you. He felt his empathy spark prompting thoughts, and for once, it warned against using it. Look at this man. He looks calm and disciplined enough. And you know he's deadly. But his words are dripping with hatred and callous indifference. Don't trifle with him.

Woe sighed at himself and resolved to follow the instincts of that spark when the other spoke.

But wouldn't it be interesting to know his frequency? The music his black soul makes? If we.

Woe shook his head, and it might've been to the Ragged Man statement of recognition for all anyone knew. He was having a conversation with his sparks. Weak as they were, they didn't rule him. Only one could claim his allegiance at this moment.

But she isn't here... Reminded the Attunement spark.

Woe, backed by his growing Divine Pathos, managed to put the curious and fledgling spark in its place. He would not be magicking, anytime soon.

Then the question came, "What're yeh doin' here?"

Woe shook his mind out of his head, and despite his instinct to keep a lid on his mouth, he began to reply, "I'm - getting my spider fixed." Woe confessed. Likely the Ragged Man knew well enough what the inside of a torturer's cell looked like, and it's various tools and implements. It wouldn't do to lie.

The Rynmerian shrugged at the Ragged Man's supposition that it was odd they meet again and then nodded in agreement when the little man acknowledged that it wasn't odd at all, given the depopulation of the city.

He didn't have any questions for the Raggedy Man. Woe didn't want to know why he was here. If the killer tried, and likely succeeded in an attack on a Sintra worshipper, as he was thanks to the newly materialized medallion in his possession, then he could very quickly do so.

What he wasn't going to do, either, was get involved in political or theological debate. Not that he thought the Raggedy Man would even bother. Woe's tendency was to get defensive about such things.
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The Shadow Man and The Ryn Slave, together. That’d been what one of the scouts under Lochlann had told him. Llyr knew well enough that trying to keep a track on Kasoria was completely pointless, but Woe was a different matter. He had someone keep an eye on Woe, from morning errands to evening frolic… well, relatively, if the man was capable of much frolic.

Llyr almost ran from the Citadel when he’d first heard the terms used for the men who’d been seen together. He got out of the Academy, and past the Crescent Arena’s outside before he slowed down and realized. Wait. What am I doing?

He had both men branded.

That made things incredibly easier, if he were to use it. He’d been trying to not use his magic so much in the city anymore. It was difficult though. People already could tell he wasn’t a regular person, what with his halo and wings and… he supposed his demeanor too. He’d come to realize he didn’t fit with much of the sorts in Etzos, regardless of which perimeter side they fell on. It wouldn’t have been all that surprising, had he ever taken the time to try and belong with any groups in Quacia… but he hadn’t. He’d only ever focused on the family business and taking care of his father and their house.

Slightly sweaty, he switched to a swift walk while he considered traversing through Emea to either Woe or Kasoria. But he didn’t want to. What if they were talking about something sensitive?

“Fates, what do you two have to speak with each other about,” he murmured to himself. Did Kasoria know Woe was a webspinner? Did Woe know who Kasoria was? Was it a planned meeting? Was it about him?! What else did the two other men have in common but their relation to Llyr?

Llyr’s wings fluttered, nervously, and he broke into a jog. So, he wouldn’t hop over with magical means… which meant he needed to haul ass and get to that smithy. If he didn’t use a brand to reach them, then maybe he could pretend it was accidental that he also showed up. Then he wouldn’t be giving away that he had people watching Woe. Yes, that was the preferable route. It was better if the man didn’t know. He simply would have to risk missing them.

He ran a little faster, and if it were not for the scornful gazes and threats of the guards from the last time he’d tried, he would have climbed onto the walls and hopped between roofs to quicken his path.

So… in about however many bits… Llyr slid to a stop at the corner of the Smithy building. The lad drew the Defender sword from its sheath then swiftly knocked the edge against the cobblestones. Some stone cut up from the blow, and his hands vibrated from the grating resounded impact. Once sure it had created some bluntness to the sword, he returned the blade to its sheath. He took out a handkerchief, cleaned the sweat off his flushed face, then fixed his tailored clothing meant for a trial at the Citadel – rather than for errands or the Oh’Pee – and he fluffed his bangs before he walked past the entrance. He completely ignored both Woe and Kasoria, for the moment, as if entirely focused on the errand.

“Hello,” he called in greeting to the other young man who’d come into ownership of the establishment. He was vaguely aware of who Bel was, but he hadn’t reason to care so much yet. “Good afternoon, Belial.”

Bel, also vaguely knew who the blond was - by the halo and wings alone - and because the smith knew him to usually send others for commissioned work rather than come himself. This fact caused the smithy to hurry to find a good spot to pause his current work to attend to Llyr. Unlike the diminutive Shield Mage of the siege of Rharkos or the ex-slave Torturer, Bel knew well the name of this customer.

It was a matter of an established client who'd never shorted him on what was owed. Bel called, "Be right there, Mister L."

"Oh, you focus on what you're doing," insisted Llyr with a polite laugh. "Wouldn't want you to get hurt or the like because of me."

The biqaj’s voice, as both men who knew him would recognize, wasn’t like usual. It was… in tone, and pitch, even a smooth posh accent, and all the things that made a voice, a voice… perfect.

His skin, though blushed with silvery-blue from his run, was smooth and healthy of color, and no scar could be seen – not on his forehead, not on his pointed ear where the nicks similar to a feisty stray cat used to be, not even on his bare hands when he gestured and his palm showed. He didn’t even have the usual purplish dark circles around his eyes that he often got when busy with matters. His skin was… perfect.

And the hair atop his head, fair and blond, not so white as it was in Emea, but tinted with golden streaks as if it’d captured the sunlight from a field of wheat, was silken and coifed to one side in a gentle curl of his bangs. His hair was… perfect.

For prior to his contact’s interruption to tell him about the two men at the Smithy, Llyr had been drinking potions. He had a meeting tonight with someone of high esteem, and he wanted to look as close to his best as he could. It’d taken him a couple trials to hunt down the potions, but now he’d taken them and so far, they had worked. Still, he had left behind the last two, so his canine teeth remained ever so inwardly crooked and his body held his natural svelte silhouette without any additional Edashan manipulation.

Having perfect voice and skin and hair would have to do.

Llyr fixed his doublet jacket and said, “Pardon the late arrival, but it's only a quick look at my blade that I'm aiming for.”

He took off the thin belt from around his narrow hips and placed the holstered short sword on the counter’s surface.

“The edge might’ve gotten a scratch when I was sparring earlier,” explained Llyr while he let Belial try and juggle the multiple orders he now had. The blond didn’t pay attention to whatever it was Bel started to say. Instead, he slid his gaze to the side. He gasped loudly with exaggerated surprise.

Llyr’s eyes flashed in different colors before settled into blue irises, a similar color to the sky at midtrial. He thinly smiled, to not show teeth, and completely abandoned Belial when he went to greet the other two men.

“Why, fancy running into you here!” He pulled at the cuffs of his long sleeves, then fixed some of his multiple metal, gemstone, and bone rings. He twisted at a particular red-tinted ring, carved from bone, that adorned his little finger. Whether he meant Woe or Kasoria, he didn't specify. Instead, he looked at both men in glances between them. "Been a bit hasn't it?"

OOC
Llyr has made use of "Perfection in a Bottle" (previously paid for by Point Bank).

Edasha in a bottle. Some claim this vial of pink liquid is made with tears of beauty from the Immortal herself. Whatever option you choose, it lasts for a full season and is such a radiant brilliance, others find natural attraction to that selected feature.

He has used 3 vials for Perfect: Skin, Hair, and Voice.
word count: 1312
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Re: Ordinary People (Llyr)

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He's afraid. Well... that's proof of nothing, nowadays.

Kasoria had always scared people. At least, when he tried to. Most times, he was happier passing under notice. Acting the beggar, the drunk, the vagrant, the idiot. Beneath notice, contempt, and thus, suspicion. Then he'd gone and become a mage, and in his own tawdry way, famous, before and after that magic initiation. Now he couldn't hide what he was, nor mask what he used his power for. Solid black eyes. Endless, tattered cloak of black smoke surrounding him. Pulsing black chains on his arms. Sure but his Spark wasn't being too fucking subtle when it came to expressing itself.

And I thought I was a misanthropic cunt.

"I'm - getting my spider fixed."

The hitch, the pause, the beat, the stammer that wasn't quite... Kasoria may not have been able to spell "psychology" (though he knew the word well enough), but he'd been reading the fear in men for decades. Woe's voice matched his manner. The way his body never seemed at rest. His eyes darted. His face seemed drawn tight and taut... especially when he realized that Kasoria has seen his fancy fucking medallion.

You were wary when I was speaking, he thought, slowly exhaling a tendril of grey smoke as he studied the young man. Now I've spotted it, you're afraid. Why would that be? What are you hiding?

Then the mage frowned and cocked his head. Spider? Damn, there'd been a time he'd have known that one. He turned his head and spotted Belly doing his diligence on a hunk of iron over the forge. Front and face and hands lit orange by the blazing coals. He squinted and made out the tong-like lengths, the curves clamps-

"Ah... think I remember those," he said without looking at Woe. "Makes a fuckin' mess uv' a woman's teats. Or a man's, fer that matter..."

Nothing save a polite nod and a smile that seemed frightened just to show itself to Kasoria. Were he a softer man, he might have taken offence to that. But he wasn't, so instead he just kept sucking gently at his pipe. Pungent smoke leaked from his lips and curled about his face. His eyes didn't waver. He made no sound save for the hissing of burning herbs and the soft hiss of him exhaling. Where did he know this man from? Did he know him at all? What did he do? A torture device, so a torturer... why hadn't he heard of this?

Been out the game a while, remember? And that was before two thirds of the fucking city died. Things change, and you're still catching up.

"Didn't catch yer name, mate," he said, in that chilling tone that used friendly words in a tone that could have made an infant cry. "Reckon y'might share it, given we're both old soldiers an' all..."

Then he heard it. Like the hammering of the anvil, but further away. Between the roar of the furnace and the pounding of Belial's tool, he could hear a distant clanging. Almost like a sword against armor, but missing that distinctive ring. Metal on... stone, perhaps? Odd. He turned away from Woe and craned his neck about. Free hand moving to his side without even thinking about it, deciding between dagger and karambit and gladius-

“Hello. Good afternoon, Belial.”

Oh, this is getting fucking ridiculous.

It wasn't that Belial was complaining about custom. It really wasn't. He was a businessman, and he needed business. He liked that people came to his smithy with their orders and their broken things, and he got paid to supply them and fix them. He liked Mister Llyr, too. Well, he was clearly a Mort-spawn, so there were limits to that liking, but once you looked past the wings and halo and general... oddness, he was a good man and a prompt customer. But the three of them together - torturer, mage, and freak - was enough to make him shake his head.

"Be right there, Mister L."

Kasoria's jaw worked from side to side in brief irritation. Woe would take the chance and not give his name; he just knew it. Then he shrugged, rising to his feet as his friend came walking over to them both. No matter. He'd find out another way. Sintra worshiper, foreigner, tall, pale, torturer... couldn't be too many of his ilk skulking about. He logged the task away, to be handled another time, and extended his hand to the younger man.

The Raggedy Man couldn't help but grin. The expression settled ill on that face, but something seemed to pull his leathery skin into a smile without him even being aware. Damn, but the boy looked good. Clearly his new place in the city was agreeing with him.

"Aye. More'n a bit..." Kasoria looked back at Woe and realized he wasn't the only one being address. "Youse two know each other? Huh. Int'restin'..."

"Got yer order ready, sir!"

"'scuse me..."

He left the two Mortalborn (though he thankfully didn't know that about them) and met with Belial. The smithy was grinning through a face caked in sweat and soot and smeared coal. He handed over a pair of vambraces, combining protective braces and gauntlets. The Raggedy Man tightened the right-hand one onto his forearm and over his hand. When he tightened it into a fist, he smiled as the bronze spikes lined up almost perfectly between his knuckles.

"Fine work," he said, then looked about for his throwing knives. "Where're me-"

"On that one, sir."

Kasoria turned the other one upside down. "Oh." He nodded again at the two short, aerodynamic blades sheathed on the underside of the vambrace. He slipped it over his left forearm and noticed how they were secure, but when he went to pull them out with his right hand... they came smooth as from greased leather. "Did a good job, lad."

"Aye, well, s'why y'come here, innit? Be right with youse about yer... Spider. Nearly done wiv' that. I'll get to yer sword after, Mister L."

Busy busy busy, that's how Belly liked to be. He dealt with each man in turn before turning back to Kasoria-

-who was already passing a small but tightly packed purse into his hand. He closed those rough, dirty fingers over it.

"Yeh'll be seein' me again, I'd wager."

"Leaving now? Ain't these yer friends?"

Kasoria followed Belial's finger and turned to regard the two men. Both younger, sleeker. Better groomed and possessing poise he'd never even tried to learn. Llyr especially looked radiant, inspiring, able to lead an army or a planning committee with equal vigor. Kasoria shook his head, then felt the eerie feeling of adoration sour as he swung his gaze back to Woe. Who still was not quite able to look him in the eye.

"Aye," he muttered, patting the smithy on the shoulder. "One of 'em, fer sure..."
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Last edited by Kasoria on Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1207
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Re: Ordinary People (Llyr)


"It's use is multi-purpose." Woe said of the spider, when Kasoria mentioned it. Dwelling on something that interested Woe put him slightly more at ease, always one to talk shop. "Every pinion has multiple varieties of usage... Although I've never tried it for that purpose." Ripping the breast out was more of a practice of corporal punishment than interrogation. A body wasn't much use at answering questions when fear and pain was leaking out of every orifice. Woe was more of a torturer than an executioner. Not at the moment anyway. Still, perhaps there would come a time.

"I'm not a soldier." Woe protested lightly, looking at Kasoria's black eyes.

As for his name? Woe saw no issue sharing it. He was just about to, when a clanging began to hammer against stone, from outside. Woe was started out of his ease, and reacted by turning his neck to see what was making the noise. Not the blacksmith, that was for sure

Then he saw Magpie enter the shop. He pinched the bridge of his nose. It was suddenly getting very crowded. Between the mad magical dreamwalker, to the demonic-looking killer, to Woe himself. They must have seemed quite the trio to Belial.

Woe watched Magpie carefully. While there was a certain artifice to the way he carried himself, Woe couldn't tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that his appearance was genuine and not just a contrivance to appear as though he belonged in that smithy. But then there had been that clanging of metal on stone from outside. And then Magpie coming in with a battered sword.

What the fuck is your malfunction, Magpie?

Nevertheless, his presence was appreciated, as it appeared that Magpie knew Kasoria. Well, far be it for Woe to get in the way of their reunion. He stood up, and well away from Kasoria (not that it would matter in the event of Kasoria attacking him, but he preferred to see his death approach from the front, when he could.) In truth, Magpie's appearance might've been a good thing.

"I should settle up now, and pick up the spider later. You can take care of Magp... Mister L's sword now. In fact, could you forge me a new pair of iron files? And replace the clamp on that spider with some spring steel?" Woe put down a sum of golden and silver nels on the counter, where he stood. After a moment of thought, he put down a few more golden nels on the counter, "Put this toward Mister L's repairs."

Without another word to Kasoria, and with a slight nod to Magpie, Woe began walking to the exit. He wanted to check a nearby Opium Den and brothel that Fleaface had introduced him to. He needed to live a little before he got himself killed.
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Llyr observed while the two men no longer seemed keen to wait in the smithy. Had they been talking about him and got caught? Or maybe they didn’t want to be seen with him? That struck the young mage as odd, especially for Kasoria with the way the old man bothered to get to his feet, offered a hand – which Llyr readily took into both of his hands and rather than shake, squeezed the hand with the enthusiasm of a friend. Kasoria even grinned at him from behind a smoking pipe… now, Llyr felt all confused as to what he’d walked into. But he smiled back anyway. It was good to see him alive and doing something as ordinary as waiting at the blacksmith, even if the circumstance was vaguely suspicious.

Fond familiarity toward Kasoria settled any expression of paranoia on Llyr’s part, for the moment. The dualistic appearance between the Etzori human and him couldn’t go unnoticed: solid black eyes to iridescent mutable eyes; a tattered cloak of black smoke to gossamer wings of ethereal light; black chains upon the arms to hidden crystalline legs… in this abstract way, Llyr’s sparks were familiar with Kasoria’s spark. He felt a slight insistence from his sparks to distance himself away from the powerful abrogator but ignored it.

Llyr let go of the other’s hand. He simply nodded to confirm that he knew the torturer.

As Kasoria brushed past to attend to the order, Llyr turned to Woe. The young biqaj blinked with iridescent eyes, the colorful light glowing within the orbs and trails of light drifted around his eyelashes. He mostly ignored the shifted glances and cautious observation that the Rynmerian gave him, almost as if Woe wasn’t happy to see him or something.

“Hav-” he barely started as Woe moved away, past him, then also started toward the sales counter.

Llyr stared at the other two men. Left behind to stand in the small space where he’d greeted them, he listened while they maneuvered around each other to… be the first to leave? Woe had never been a particularly effective liar, and Llyr figured perhaps he didn’t want to talk with him after the incident around Rhakros… but to settle his repairs… that suggested guilt. What did Woe have to feel guilty about? And why was Kasoria, who’d smiled so keenly and greeted him so warmly, suddenly earnest to leave.

“No.” The lanky blond lifted off the ground with a flutter of his insectoid wings. He smoothly landed in front of the exit and blocked both Kasoria and Woe from an easy retreat. Llyr set his hands on his hips.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he asked, and if it weren’t for the Edasha-manipulated perfection of his voice, the pitch would have cracked with a hint of insecurity. Instead, he asked the question smoothly without even a hitch in his breath. He spoke calmly, “Do you intend to insult me? I arrive and you act eager to depart like caught pups with tails between their legs? Only makes me wonder what it was you were doing before I got here, what you might have been talking about…”

Llyr fixed the front of his jacket, smoothed the fabric out, then returned to fidgeting with the ring on his pinkie finger. His wings neatly folded behind him again. The eyes that had been so crystalline and iridescent only trills before, had now changed to a dark indigo color that glowed within the fey-like shape of them.

“Since you’re both finished with your business here, why don’t we all go somewhere nice to catch up?” offered Llyr. He stopped twisting the ring and instead settled his hands with parallel fingertips touching in a diamond shape. His indigo-lit eyes flickered in their color; a hint of blue showed as the light bounded back into simple irises. “My home isn’t far, or we could find a tavern, or whatever either of you prefer. Drinks or smoke or... girls? Anywhere you'd like. I know a place north of the gates.”

“Unless you both meant what you seemed to say. It's okay, so neither of you want to be seen with me. I understand,” he added while he stepped away from the exit. He gestured smoothly to the street outside and even gave a slight bow in mock of a servant seeing a lord out. “By all means, proceed.”

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He would have liked to learn the torturer's name, but as had been said, that could wait. What he'd seen, heard, and learned was enough of a place for him to start. The late Bangun Vorund's treasure trove of names was still very much useful to him. Granted, more than half of those men had been scratched out thus far; the Siege and the Plagues had not been discerning of rank, wealth, station, or title. More men were dead than alive in the aftermath, but still... Kasoria would find a way.

Always someone willing to talk, he reminded himself as he tightened the straps on his new vambraces. Just a matter of-

"No."

That was enough to shatter his somewhat-good mood. The shape of a man, fluttering with insectile wings, landing in his way and barring him from leaving. The sound of them buzzing was enough to coax the memory of hatred from Kasoria, if not the actual emotion. That had been the endless cacophony in Rhakros. A million billion wings, beating all breaks of the trial, all slaved to the will of the Plague Mother. Now even a solitary fly in his bedroom was enough to rouse him from bed until it was smeared against the wall. That Llyr would attempt such foolishness...

"I wanted t'insult yeh, I'd call yeh a cunt an' be done wiv' it," Kasoria ground out, unimpressed with the nobleman's little outburst. "An' youse fuckin' well know me well enough t'know I ain't lyin'. We both had business here, now mine's done, so-"

But the Quacian wasn't finished. A minor, snapping torrent of irritation rattled out from perfect lips and... damn him, Kasoria almost smiled through his habitual scowl. Part of him had missed the young fool. So wise and serene one moment, brittle and naive in the next. One never knew what to expect. Kasoria wagered that if he'd been a woman, he'd not have bothered wasting his time with so flighty a personality.

Wait a break. He might become one.

Ah. Now that had made him smile. Damnit.

The humor died when Llyr suggested making Woe part of their reunion. The Etzori's face darkened with unmistakable disgust, just for a moment. Long enough for Llyr to see the flash of outrage, but mayhap not Woe. He didn't want to clue the foreigner in, just how much the thought of eating the same food as some Mort-spawned cunt made his stomach crawl. And what did a slave of Sintra eat, anyway? Flies? Beetles? The hearts of babes? Either one would not have surprised him.

Don't let it show, he murmured to himself. Forcing his suddenly-racing heart and balls fists to slow, to loosen. Find out about him, first. See if he's useful.

He's a Mort-spawn. He's only useful dead and burned to bones.


There was a burst of laughter as Llyr's words cut through Kasoria's blissful, hidden little image. Few men still living could turn his mood so sharply, as if on a pivot. Llyr was one of them. Kasoria pointed to his chest. "Me 'fraid a' bein' see wiv' youse? First fuckin' time someone's been worried about that..." The Raggedy Man folded his arms across his chest, frown deepening when he read the blatant emotional blackmail in Llyr's offer. Amused and annoyed in equal measure that it would work... this time. "Yer makin' a name fer yerself in the Com'See, youse dun' wanna be seen swannin' about wiv' the likes a me. As fer the M... for yer man here, I can't speak t'him."

With a supreme effort of will, Kasoria turned to Woe, and managed something approximating a polite smile.

"But if youse wouldn't say no t'a meal wiv' blondie here, I would'nae, either."
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He glazed over the conversation between Magpie and the foul-mouthed older gentleman. It didn't seem necessary, and he could hear the overtones of deception on the air. The entire meeting here was ensconced in artifice. There was something out of place about the way everyone was acting, and Woe didn't like it.

He'd seen enough of human behavior, that one couldn't hide such intense hatred whether that hatred arose out of hate for Rynmerians, or those bearing a webbed-medallion, or just people who spoke properly.

As if they didn't have a handful of shit in their mouth.

Well, he could scratch that one off right away. He seemed to like Magpie well enough, which in itself was cause for alarm. So that left the two other possibilities.

"I wanted t' insult yeh, I'd call yeh a cunt an' be done wiv' it," The filthy etzori rattled off at Magpie, "An' youse fuckin' well know me well enough t'know I ain't lyin'. We both had business here, now mine's done, so-"

Woe had very much the same idea, which gave him pause and made him wonder. Perhaps he could turn this opportunity to his advantage. One of the most notorious killers in Etzos, along a powerful dream walker and mage such as Magpie were good contacts to have if only one of them didn't look at him like he'd murdered his child in the vilest way possible.

"I was just coming here to fix a tool." Woe muttered, backing up Kasoria's claim. He didn't expect that a trip to the smithy would end in something as equally pedestrian as a dinner invitation.

Yet, if he left now, that would likely skew Magpie on the side of Kasoria. The old fiend might find out his name even. And while Woe wasn't scarce about sharing his identity, lately, he'd tried to be more covert about the way he conducted his affairs.


"Where do you think you're going?" Llyr asked, his voice was lovely to listen to, yet indistinguishable to every other for Woe. He was tone-deaf, so an opera singer would've impressed him every bit as much as a streetside busker. Yet there was undeniable charisma and interest in the young Magpie's voice, "Do you intend to insult me? I arrive and you act eager to depart like caught pups with tails between their legs? Only makes me wonder what it was you were doing before I got here, what you might have been talking about…"

"I don't know this man." Woe objected, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I was getting a tool fixed."

The torturer wanted to erase the memory of this meeting, wipe this gathering from the linear march of time.

But... don't you remember. The thought came unbidden to Woe's mind. You can, you've done it before, made people forget things, people, even entire events. On a small scale, but have you ever tried removing the memory of yourself from a person?

Woe had not been so ambitious with his use of the power that had arrived seemingly out of nowhere, awakened by his Empathy spark. He could make Kasoria forget about him. He could make Magpie forget about him. Could he potentially make Etzos forget about him? What would it take, and with how much vitality was he willing to part?

He'd learned early on this power sapped his energy like nothing else. Just forcing one to forget him had made him feel almost as old as the midget standing to the side of them. How much more could Woe take? Did he want to chance it?

Better to lose a few years than lose your entire life. And Woe had to agree with that.

"Unless you both meant what you seemed to say. It's okay, so neither of you want to be seen with me. I understand," The younger man added, and with a dramatic wave of his arm, allowed them both to leave. "By all means, proceed."

Woe ground his teeth at Magpie's theatrics. "Seemed? Insecurity doesn't look good on you, Magpie. Anymore than paranoia does."

"If I wanted to tell you something, you know I'd just fucking say it."

"But if youse wouldn't say no t' a meal wiv' blondie here, I would 'nae, either." Said the killer.

Woe couldn't hide the twitch in the side of his mouth, that threatened to spread into a sneer. Nothing about this he liked, yet he would have to go along. He would have dinner with them if only to ensure Magpie did not share his name with this murderous hobo.
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