• Solo • [North Woods] Patience

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Rokas
Approved Character
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:57 pm
Race: Human
Profession: Muscle
Renown: 20
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Wealth Tier: Tier 7

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[North Woods] Patience


Cylus 22nd Arc 721

He inhaled the scent of fresh-fallen rain, the humid aroma that mixed with that of the forest and strengthened it. Puddles splashed against his boots and mud suckled at his soles as he trudged through the moist underground of the North Woods. The dark of Cylus still lingered, though the sky appeared to have grown marginally lighter, approaching a shade not unlike one witnessed a few hours before dawn. Over the span of the coming days the power of Idalos’s suns would finally grow substantial enough to overcome the season of night and frost. Not a moment too soon either. He grew tired of the monochrome world of darkness. He wanted to feel sunlight dance on his skin, bask in warmth, and revel in the splendor of the full range of colors.

Feel his knife carve through organs, bask in the blood drenching his hands in dirty crimson, and revel in the sight of anguish, fear of death, and realization of betrayal war on his target’s face as their life winked out.

Daggett’s, preferably.

Patience, Milaq, patience.

He pushed through a thick patch of shrubbery, brushing leaves and vines out of his face, and found himself amidst a thinning tree line that gradually turned into a large clearing. A handful of wooden cabins stood scattered around a central area. It was lit up. The first light not originating from the moon or stars he’d seen since leaving Etzos and the few farmsteads around it. Orange and flickering and warm, not silver and pale and cold.

In between him and the campfire sat the hulking form of a giant man, wrapped in a heavy cloak and bent over a small table, fiddling with something Milaq couldn’t quite make out. His back was turned. Wide open. Inviting. Knife already partway out of its sheath, breath and heartbeat quickening. He prowled forward, one step, then another. The figure did not turn. Knife fully naked now, steel gleaming in the flickering orange.

His toes bumped into something hard, it rolled a few centimeters away. Milaq froze, eyes shooting from the giant silhouette –it didn’t glance around—to the object on the floor. A block of wood disfigured with crude knifework. He couldn’t tell what it was supposed to resemble. Some kind of uneven pillar, perhaps? More sprouted from the dirt across the campsite. All crude, unfinished, and irregular in shape, likely tossed in frustration.

Milaq stepped over the carving and continued his way, now mindful of the obstacles in his path. Closer and closer, knife ready. Forcing his breath to slow, but unable to control the fluttering of his heart. The large man by the fire remained focused on what was before him, not on the hunter behind. Five more steps, light and quick and perfectly silent. No reaction from the prey. One closer. He was nearly within range now. Excitement exploded within his stomach, tying his intestines into knots. Another step. Almost! Almost! He licked his lips.

It wasn’t the plan. It wasn’t the plan at all. But what an opportunity this was! It wouldn’t be right if he did not seize it. Wasting it would be wrong. Rude. Ungrateful. For years he’d dreamed of a moment like this, such a perfect situation.

One more step, knife primed.

“So you’re finally here, Milaq the Shanker,” Rokas spoke, still not turning to face him. The earth rumbled threats with each word, vibrations running up into Milaq’s bones.

He sighed, deep and longing, then clicked his tongue and tucked his knife back into the scabbard. Not today, then. But soon. Yes. Patience. Patience.

“As per our agreement,” Milaq said. He placed a knapsack down and took a seat opposite of the giant, the fire between them. It leaned away as if subjected to a stiff breeze. Only there was no wind. “Daggett’s well and truly convinced yeh’re dead, see, so I figured I’d come pick you up. Ashan’s almost here too, so it’s time t’ move anyway. Unless y’d prefer t’ stay here? I’m sure I could…hm… persuade the loggers to delay their activities fer a bit longer.”

Not that he excelled at persuasion. In fact, he happened to be terrible at it. But no matter. If the lumberjacks refused to listen to him, then his knife would do the talking. It had quite a sharp tongue, and its words cut deep. Yes, he actually would prefer it if they adamantly denied the request.

Mhmmm. What would the aftermath look like, I wonder? Splattered blood, spilled entrails. Naked bone. Wounds that layered red and pink and yellow. Blank eyes, open bellies. Amidst it all, Milaq the Shanker. Fingers slick, breath shallow and fast, eyes closed, teeth bare, blade dressed in crimson gown--

Cold bit into his rear, instantly snapping him back to the present. The fabric of his trousers had swollen with moisture, too much for it to be coming from the stump he used as a seat. The wood had been damp from rain, but not this wet. He glanced down to see rivulets of water stream upwards out of their puddles, up the sides of his seat. He clicked his tongue in annoyance, and for a moment his eyes flicked towards Rokas, but the man was too engrossed on kneading a chunk of clay. He’d never been one to pull pranks like these anyway.

“..need. I’ll return to Etzos, as planned.”

Milaq shrugged. “Thought I’d ask. Y’ seem t’ be enjoyin’ yourself out here.” He made a vague gesture towards the small table Rokas had his attention focused on. To the hunk of earth he shaped with his hands. Pulling and pinching and pushing it into various indistinct shapes, then squashing it back down into a rough sphere and starting over. Every so often he pulled a little water out of thin air and added it to the clay. The giant man glanced up for a moment, the first time since Milaq’s arrival.

“I do now. I like the feel of it in my hands. It’s soft and wet and squishy.”

Milaq raised an eyebrow. Such a lengthy response was not what he’d expected. In fact, it surprised him to hear Rokas string together more than three words to form a sentence. Usually he limited his responses to a simple 'yes', or 'no', or the universally applicable grunt. Real versatile, that. Could mean just about anything. 'Yes'. 'No'. 'Maybe'. 'Shut up'. 'Fuck off'. 'I'll bash your skull in and feed your intestines to the pigs'. Efficient, really. And yet, despite most of his communication being similar to just about any muscle-bound, peabrained mook, the defier could be quite verbose if he wanted to be. A rare occurrence, one Milaq decided to stretch out for as long as possible. “What’re y’ sculptin’?”

“Nothing in particular. Whatever feels right in the moment.” Rokas wrapped his fingers around it and squeezed, watching the clay bulge out from the gaps. Then he folded it back into a rough cuboid, an almost child-like expression of amusement painted on his face. “Potential, maybe? Or change.”

Pretentious. Shouldn't have bothered asking.

“Hmmm. Well, you do you.” Milaq rummaged in his knapsack, fishing out a couple small sausages wrapped in waxed paper. He speared one on a wooden skewer and held it out into the flames. For a few moments the campfire twisted itself out of the way, creating a pocket around the meat. Then it suddenly lashed out, setting the wood aflame in the blink of an eye. It nipped at Milaq’s fingers, and the Shanker dropped his meal with a cry of pain and surprise. The sausage fell into the fire, where its juices popped and bubbled and the mincemeat charred beyond recognition. What a waste. His nana would flay him alive if she'd known, bless her soul.

As if to mock him further, the campfire leaned away again. Water snaked towards the remaining sausages on the wax paper, and Milaq quickly snatched the package off the ground before the rest was ruined as well. Gusts of wind that weren’t present before tugged at the paper, trying to wrestle it out of his hands.

“Oi! That’s it, I’ve had enough! Cut it out!” he snapped.

Rokas crafted a spire out of clay. “I’m not doing anything. They’re acting on their own.”

“I don’t care! Make ‘em stop!”

“I can’t.”

“Y’ can’t, or y’ won’t?”

A shrug. “They don’t like you,” Rokas said, as if that explained everything. At least the feeling was mutual. “And neither do I." Again, mutual. "More clay please.” From the ground near the defier's feet the earth spit up a blob of the requested soil, which he added to the larger chunk and began to knead into an irregular shape. “So let’s get this over with, shall we? So you’ve managed to fool Daggett into believing I did die. Good. You know where I can find him?”

“Naturally. He’s set up shop in the Northern Oh’Pee, near the Comm’See. One of the larger buildings there, ample space for his front, the actual business, and security. I can probably set things up so there’s less of a crowd waitin’ inside.”

“And what about you? Is he not suspicious of you at all?”

Milaq snorted. “Of course he is. He’s utterly convinced I’m plannin’ t’ kill ‘im.”

I will deal with Daggett.”

“Yeah, yeah." He rolled his eyes, not even making an attempt to hide it. The defier didn't care one way or another, skull too thick for insults --verbal or not-- to take hold. Yet another infuriating quirk of his. At least with Daggett he could get under his skin with a couple glances and irreverent body language. Make him feel inadequate and incompetent, and bristle as a result, puffing himself up like an indignated peacock to reassure himself of his own importance. Such subtleties never had worked on Rokas though. "I’m well aware. I’m just sayin’ he thinks I’m lookin’ for an opportunity t’ put a knife in ‘is back.” Which happened to be right on the money. “He always makes sure t’ never be in a room with me alone. Eh, guess that means he’s not on the lookout fer you anymore.”

“He’d better not be. Else our bargain is null and void, and I’ll be coming for you instead.” Rokas squashed his clay sculpture –something that might have been a tree or an arrowhead or maybe a stake— then gathered the remains together in a ball, threw it to the floor where it was reabsorbed by the earth, and headed into one of the cabins. The fire sunk into its bed of cinders, the circle of orange it spread through the camp diminishing in tandem. Rokas reemerged with a rucksack strapped to his back and a cane in hand. “Let’s go.”

“Right now? I just got here!”

“I’ve been hiding in these woods for too long already. I said I’d stay until you confirmed Daggett’s lowered his guard, and not a moment longer.” He started walking, leaning heavily on the cane. There was a limp in his step.

Milaq sprang to his feet too, annoyed to find them covered in a layer of soil, the many grains migrating to the collar of his boots. Fortunately they hadn’t quite reached it yet. He shook himself free, gathered his knapsack, and wondered if the magical bullshit would stop if he slit Rokas’s throat. If he exploited that wounded leg, he might just succeed.

Ah, but then he couldn’t use him to distract Daggett. Wouldn’t get to see Daggett’s despair upon realizing his dastardly plan had failed after all, just like Milaq said it would. Couldn't witness him panic and sweat and tremble up in his little garish office while Rokas rampaged downstairs, trashing the interior with the power of his magic, trampling all who dared to stand in his way. Couldn’t jam a knife between Daggett’s ribs as he scrambled to escape the Defier’s wrath. Couldn't watch the shock spread over his features, hear him curse the moment of inattention that allowed Milaq's expected betrayal. Couldn't whisper one last insult into his ear, mock him one last time as he twisted the blade and ended Daggett's pathetic existence right then and there.

He could --and would-- kill Rokas afterwards. One thing at a time.

Patience, Milaq grinned. Patience.
word count: 2135
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Jackalope
Posts: 420
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2021 7:34 pm
Race: Human
Renown: 0
Wealth Tier: Tier 1

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Re: [North Woods] Patience


Experience: +10 xp

Knowledge:

Endurance: Using a cane to keep weight off your wounded leg
Intimidation: Declaration of killing intent
Intimidation: Underscore your words with an apporpriate action
Sculpting: Medium - clay
Sculpting: Adding water to clay
Sculpting: The feel of clay on your hands

Skillplay: Appropriate to level

Loot: None.

Injuries/Overstepping: None.

Magic Experience?: None.

Renown: None. Hard to get renown when you’re pretending to be dead. :)

Comments:
This thread sounds like a pivotal one for Rokas, and it is, as usual, an interesting and well-written one. Given its importance to Rokas, I am a bit surprised by the decision to narrate it almost entirely from the point of view of an NPC (is Milaq an approved NPC for Rokas? I couldn’t find anything). We usually ask that the PC should be the main focus of any IC thread you write, so keep that in mind. It’s cool to want to try something different, but the rules are what they are.

Going forward I would strongly encourage you to: 1) Get Milaq approved if he isn’t already, and 2) Ensure that Rokas threads focus on Rokas.

Let me know if you have any questions/feedback. Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 204
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