• Closed • Red & Blue

(Aerlan, please!)

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Limbo
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30th of Zi’da, 716
Noon
Red flesh, soft to the touch, a fragrant aroma. Ripe, characterized by it’s slightly firm feeling when gently squeezed. No soft spots, and so no chance of incoming rot. Why this berry attracted Paplo so much he did not know, and yet the obsession had been growing within him as much as the tomatoes that grew around the world. Most vegetables and fruits had this effect, especially the latter. Each of them was a world of flavor, waiting to be discovered, to be mixed and mingled a thousand different ways to achieve different results. The pseudo-science of cooking was perhaps one of the few inner callings the Mortalborn held, yet never truly pursued for whatever psychological reason. Even if he ate people raw, he still dreamt of some proper cooking.

Paplo opened his eyes, and witnessed how the tomato in his memory now became an old piece of bread. Breaking a part of it, and putting it in his mouth as a small snack, Paplo continued his stroll down the busy marketplace. There were no vegetables nor fruits waiting to delight the senses. Instead, one could only find grains, artisan goods, overpriced honey and cooked delights for those that could afford it. There were other sections on the market where one could find furniture, antiques, weapons, and grains, yet those were not what Paplo was after. Instead, perhaps somewhat morbidly, he lulled around the goods his stomach would appreciate but could not afford. Not one coin was held within his pocket, yet that would surely change on the following day – his first day as a teacher. The façade Kovic built around the character he played was growing, and soon the act would be backed by fact. It was a whole new step for his capacity to blend in.

Voices and cries rose through the busy market, be it of customers demanding further information about the goods calling for their attention, or those of stall owners advertising their merchandise with poetic verses, with catchy slogans or hypnotizing melodies that stuck within the mind. Like moths to the flames, the mortals gathered around, squeezed their way forth and bumped into each other in a primitive sort of way, as if instinct was pushing them to be first and the best. Paplo suffered many of these bumps, most of them being delivered by, ironically, the oldest individuals. Perhaps age had diminished their sense of politeness.

Whilst Paplo fantasized about devouring every last creature that roamed the plaza and all the goods it held, something called his attention in the street parallel to the shopping hub. It was a familiar sensation, one that screamed danger in warning, yet did so subtly and only for those that knew what had caused it.

It was the air of a killer.

Without being able to pinpoint from whence said aura came, Paplo took the chance to investigate. Normally, he would’ve avoided the conflict at any cost, yet considering the amount of witnesses that gathered around him, his death would be a huge risk for anyone save himself. Slowly, he began pushing through the crowd. The term pushing was somewhat extreme, of course, for Paplo was not a violent man, and instead of forcefully barging his way past the bodies of mortals, he slid through them like a breeze. Eyes fixed forth, at last they reached what he believed was the source of the anomaly.

Male, humanoid, increased height, average weight. Light blue skin tone, pale eye color, long black hairs. Neutral features, symmetrical, exotic, generally branded as attractive. No further details could be extracted from its frame, for the Eidisi biology and common traits were a mystery in the Mortalborn’s eyes. Donning black furs, and standing tall, the individual’s confidence could easily be seen, even when there was clear social rejection towards his species. Many eyes glanced towards him, for the Etzori populace was mostly formed by humans. As such, his capacity to fall out of the local codes of conduct were decreased, and given that his nature as a killer could be felt by a certain few, Paplo now only saw a blue chicken caught in a cage.

Whatever could be extracted from the preliminary analysis was there, and any further information or correction to said information required social contact with the individual. Certain that he possessed the upper hand, at least socially, Paplo decided to approach futher. His Ether Lure was quenched as much as possible, limiting the ether dispersed around him to mere motes, for he wished not to attract the Eidisi’s attention just yet. He would certainly make for a good kill, however.

Donned in his ill-fitted clothing, and displaying a kind smile underneath his beard, Paplo was aware that whatever act he played would be in vain, for he too was a killer. As such, he did not try too hard to win the heart of the heartless.
“Good day, stranger,” greeted Paplo, offering the loaf of bread towards the Eidisi, in hopes of establishing a sense of amicability for himself. “I must say, these furs you don are quite appealing to the eye. May I ask how much you paid to acquire them?”
word count: 883
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Aerlan
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The smell is what Aerlan disliked most about crowded places. He had always been one for cities with a general avoidance to getting more than a day’s ride away, but the smell of any city was the worst part. Laws were meant to be ignored due to the nuisance they caused him. People were nothing more than pawns for the most part, and people without a use were fuel for his magic. Every social connection in his life, except one, had been based solely upon the usefulness the other party had to him. Aerlan could never quite tell if this was a positive or negative thing. It was safe to assume that most people didn’t view their fellows like this. He had watched families, friends, lovers, and even slaves with their masters. There were always deeper bonds that held people together. For him, those bonds seemed like chains.

Wind suddenly gusted around him and blew away moments later after fanning out his furs suspiciously. At the least it had removed the stench long enough for him to get a breath for fresh air. Aerlan thanked the wind silently, eliciting a slight breeze that ruffled his furs again. Smirking, he moved further in the direction he had thus been walking. Market smells collided with his nose again, stopping him short. The sudden slowing of his pace was met with someone behind him cursing. A sudden shove from behind sent him stumbling forward off-balance. Another lighter shove met him while he tried to right himself. Looking up, Aerlan watched a man, nearly as tall as himself but built with far more muscle, laugh as he walked passed. The man’s bald head reflected the noon-day sun quite well, or so Aerlan thought.

”You know what else would reflect off that chrome-dome quite well,” Glaren whispered with a dark chuckle in Aerlan’s ear.

That I do… Aerlan’s eyes narrowed as the man didn’t even bother to turn and look at the Eidisi. I do not abide by rudeness. The Frayed mage kept silent as he waited for the man to put a little distance between them. With about fifteen feet between them, Aerlan followed the man with his peripheral vision while his focus was on the market around the man. An opportunity would arise. One always did if you were patient, he had learned.

That patience paid off a few bits later. The man had just entered into a row of hot food vendors. Aerlan assumed the man must be hungry and following the smell of food. Most people followed this habit, he’d noticed. Food was nothing more than sustenance. He had never felt pleasure at eating or the diverse tastes others described to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t have a sense of taste. It was just a way of differentiating food instead of a method of obtaining preferences. His eyes never strayed from the man. Soon enough the man stepped closer to food vendor whom was cooking meat and vegetable skewers over a small fire.

”I like where your mind’s at, brother. Not your best element, but it is the most fun!” Rudeness should be burnt to ash. With the thought firmly in his mind, Aerlan reached out to the small flame and the element of Fire itself. Aerlan knew his level of skill meant that he had to ask instead of demand for what he wanted. He hoped to change that at some point. Instead of touching the fire’s will with a demand for violence, he coaxed fire to do what it did best: burn. Burn anything, burn everything, Aerlan cooed softly under his breath. His eyes took in the fire and then the rude hulk’s flammable clothing. Directing his request, he pushed more ether into his magic and the fire. The nature of fire to refuse control pushed back for a moment before acquiescing.

A tiny streak of flame leapt from the small fire, attaching itself to the bottom of the man’s shirt. Fueled by Aerlan’s magic, it flared suddenly and the man’s shirt and pants were engulfed. His screams resounded throughout that section of the market as he fell the over and began rolling around.. Aerlan saw the stall vendor run to assist as the Eidisi turned and slowly walked away. Better to move slow and calm while everyone watched the spectacle so as to remain inconspicuous. The Harvester’s yellow eyes appeared over Aerlan’s shoulder and its own chuckle was left in their wake. ”You know. Soon as you are able to mold the Earth better, you should bury the victim alive then Flay them later for me. You know…just an idea.”

Bits later, the aberrant had made his way far onto the other side of the market. He began perusing the stalls for necessities now that he resided in Etzos for the next foreseeable future. Suddenly, a new scent slapped him in the face harder than any thus far. Aerlan’s nostrils flared as he turned his head left and right. Immediately, he realized it wasn’t a scent so much as an aura strong enough to backhand his senses. As a killer, Aerlan knew that aura better than any. He had only met a handful with it, specifically his own Aberration master. It was the aura of a Flayer.

Without appearing, Glaren the Harvester chuckled and spoke softly. ”Well, well. What have we here?” The words were spoken with the arrogant air of someone who knows something and waits for their slower companions to grasp.

Aerlan’s gaze scanned the crowd around him and lit upon a man directly approaching him. The man was just beneath Aerlan’s height and lean yet muscular. His clothes obviously did not fit and Aerlan could see no weapons upon him. Well, doesn’t mean he isn’t hiding a small blade. But he’s not a soldier. They wouldn’t look like a beggar, and he doesn’t walk like a soldier anyway Those blank Eidisi eyes looked over the man’s attractive face and paused for a moment at the interesting hairstyle he kept. Efficient was his only thought. The closer this man came, the stronger the dark aura grew. It became instantly apparent what kind of man stood before him. This did not bother him. Not in the way that few things every registered on his small emotional spectrum enough to cause a reaction, but more so in that a killer was no different than anyone else. To Aerlan, a killer was the same as a priest, a baby the same as the dirt he walked on, and a beggar the same as a king. However, the closer this stranger came the more something lying beneath the Flayer’s aura began to tickle at Aerlan’s magical senses. Aerlan couldn’t place what it was. His Harvester chuckled slightly louder, a hungry edge to it this time.

Then the man stopped before him and spoke.

Eidisi were known as a race that craved knowledge above all else. In Aerlan’s life thus far, and given his nature, he had learned that it was best to lean towards silence over attempts at social awkwardness. Many people gave away far more when met with silence, rather in uncomfortable ramblings or through one-sided conversations when they believed the other party cared at all. Never wishing to be rude, unless there was reason, Aerlan kept his response monotone and to the point.

Shaking his head to decline the offer of bread, the Eidisi replied. “Greetings.” Aerlan glanced around to see if anyone else was approaching, a slight bit of caution appearing at being approached by a killer so brazenly. Afterall, if he felt the man’s aura then in turn the man must feel his. “The furs are simple attire for my homeland. The cost was negligible.” At the thought of money, Aerlan realized he was walking around with perhaps too much coin on him for safety’s sake. And if this low-dressed killer approached in such a way, then robbery was not out of the question. Mentally preparing his magic if needed, Aerlan faked his own smile that never reached his eyes. “Is there something I can assist you with?”
word count: 1399
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world... No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
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Paplo did not mind the rejection of his offer of free old bread. In fact, he welcomed it, as sharing a meal was certainly not something he enjoyed. Now that the bread was all for himself, Paplo bent his wrist and introduced the end of the bread into his mouth, as much as he could, before biting down on it. Perhaps chewing on a rock would’ve been a softer experience for his teeth. As the Mortalborn struggled to process the hardened fodder, his eyebrows remained raised as he stared back towards the Eidisi. Obviously, he hid his caution, and instead displayed some sort of fascination – or tried to, anyway. His facial expressions wasn’t the best tool he possessed from his acting.
“Oh,” exclaimed Paplo, performing a quick bow with his head. He then spoke with his mouth full. “I apologize if I am being discourteous by staring. I mean not to be considered a racist, but I shall admit I have never seen a member of your race from such a close distance. In consequence, both the attractive furs you don and the hue of your flesh somewhat compelled me to approach. I certainly hope I’m not intruding.”

As he chewed, Paplo offered a dumb smile in return, yet without trying to overdo it. Both males were cautions, for both of them shared a terrible nature. Through experience, Paplo had learned that ‘wrong-doers’, as the popular folks called them, tend to live longer lives, and that meant the necessity of being ready. Considering both of them knew about the other, or at least of the one detail that shaped their lives, there wasn’t much of a chance to hide what one was. Playing dumb or being friendly had no use. Thus, simplicity was the way to go.
“I mean you no harm,” stated Paplo after swallowing the bread. “And whilst I require nothing of you, I would be delighted if the both of us could converse. I, for example, would enjoy to hear about your race, and said homeland you mentioned. Considering we both carry both our secrets and the secret of the other, we might as ignore them and use them as incentive to form a relationship.”

Paplo now brought a hand to his waist as he ate the bread, looking around and offering smiles and nods to his fellow citizens. Standing in the middle of the street with dead expressions and empty eyes was suspicious, and thus it was necessary to maintain at least some sort of façade to protect themselves. Or himself, to be more precise. Those same crowds, on the other hand, granted him protection from whatever ideas roamed within the flayer’s mind. Paplo certainly had no intentions of making himself an enemy, which brought another form of dialogue into his mouth.

“Tell me,” Paplo spoke, turning to face the Eidisi once again. “How long have you been within the city? I certainly haven’t encountered any other individual like you and me, and I believe I know the reason for that. You, on the other hand, appear to do not. I shall assume the trait we share forms a certain sense of comradery between us, and so I am obliged to tell you the following; beware, for men with our abilities are scarce for a reason. If you wish to know more, then perhaps we can discuss it whilst we perform some activity of your choice. Otherwise, I would summarize it to you by urging you to keep away from the walls, to remain in the Outer Perimeter, or that you simply found a new location to settle.”

With that, Paplo offered a kind smile, and brought a palm to his features in amicable shame.
“Ugh. My courtesy appears to be failing me on this trial. Forgive me; Paplo Ynush is my name.” he’d say, offering a hand to the male as his smile remained.
word count: 665
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Aerlan
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The Frayed Eidisi’s eyes never left those of his fellow Flayer, watching the curiosity in his gaze as he attempted using words to put the mage at ease. If words elicited the same reaction in him as other people, it may have worked better. But instead, he dissected them .The words of this new murderer flowed across Aerlan’s mind. Word by word, phrase by phrase, each idea was listened to, weighed, and placed appropriately into categories.

First, The Worthless: Flowery words of friendliness and appeasing statements of non-combativeness. Such things were for the emotional. Aerlan neither cared about friends or enemies. He didn’t feel fear, which was good and bad depending on the situation. Each person was simply a piece on a game board. Their only worth came from their abilities and mobility. Could they attack him? Were they defending him? Asset or foe? It all morphed constantly so each moment must be weighed. No. Pretty words and appeasement were tossed in the trash heap of Aerlan’s mind. He moved on.

Second, The Tools: Any information that was supplied was a basis for interaction, manipulation, and consequence. The stranger had revealed that he could indeed feel the aura of a Flayer, and by his words had admitted as much as being one too. Mentions of a relationship of mutual benefit gave way to either a desire to use Aerlan, make up for a weakness within this other Flayer, or of a legitimate cooperative partnership. All three were useful in their own way if the cards were played right. Being provided the information that the man had been in the city longer and yet to run into another Flayer was more important and eye-opening. Aerlan would need to keep his guard up. The advice was sound as well, but Aerlan would verify it in case the man meant to use it was a way to control him.

Third, and most importantly, The Malleable: Questions, curiosity, and the ignorance behind them. What a person did not know could be manipulated, or the truth be molded to what became useful. This stranger’s lack of knowledge of the Eidisi, Viden, and Aerlan himself became a thing of ephemeral truth. Aerlan could tell him whatever he liked and the man, short of acting ignorant, would know no better. The twist came with telling enough truth to slip the lie in undetected and with enough subtlety that questioning it would never arise. To this, Aerlan could dance. Afterall, a sociopath was nothing if not a manipulator of truth.

Having thought through the words, Aerlan decided on his own response. He would not push this man away in case there was a truly beneficial comrade to be had. But neither would he offer up truth to another killer until much later. Sound plan, Mr. Thinker. Can you hurry up already? I’m getting REALLY hungry standing near this guy.

Aerlan in turn copied the man’s stance and posture as best he could, nodding at passersby as well. He then extended his own hand to Paplo, giving it a firm shake but revealing his own soft hands in the process which would immediately indicate the lack of any physical duress in his life. “Aerlan, of Viden. It would please me to educate you on what I can of my people and city. So few of us leave our frigid home that reputation precedes facts.” Releasing the handshake, the Frayed mage glanced around and sighed. “ I have been here only a few trials. Hardly enough time to settle in and learn the lay of the land, per se. Thus, I appreciate your advice concerning our mutual traits. It would indeed be wise to discuss such topics away from public, and potentially prying, ears. Our kind are, as you say, scarce for a reason.”

With confused look around him, the Eidisi turned back to Paplo. “I do not know the city well, but I’m certain a locale of questionable taste can be found to suit ones such as ourselves. Pray lead on?”

Allowing the man to choose where they go may have been unwise, but Aerlan’s lack of fear sometimes caused his logical caution to waver. For better or worse, he would follow Paplo but with his powers at the ready should the need arise.
word count: 732
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world... No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
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Polite, disciplined, calm, and intelligent.

The Eidisi gave the impression of a professional the further Paplo interacted with him. Flayers often lacked the serenity the Eidisi tried to mask, which Paplo could easily envy were he not another disposable character within the creature’s charade. Most flayers previously encountered had proven to be wildly impulsive, socially incapable, and mentally overwhelmed by ire. The Eidisi, on the other hand, proved to be in control of himself – even if he mirrored Paplo’s own body language and expressions. Cheap trick to gain social acceptance, indeed, and despite its simplicity it nonetheless worked perfectly.
“It is very nice to make your acquaintance, indeed. I certainly hope the City of Etzos is of your taste,” replied Paplo with a kind smile. Afterwards, he’d gesture towards the road. “I do happen to know an establishment not far from our location. Its taste is, indeed, questionable, yet the populace is private and non-intruding.”

Paplo began walking, doing so with a serene gait. He’d re-adjust his gait to transmit absolute neutrality by avoiding haste, extremely proper posture, an elevated head, or any variation in the flailing of his arms. Everything counted, for the body was the visual representation of a man’s psyche. Every now and then, he’d glance towards Aerlan, sometimes offering a coy smile, perhaps a quick wink, or nothing at all. Unlike himself, Aerlan was an actual mage, and his nature as a flayer meant danger. Paplo, on the other hand, did not experience any pleasure from Ether – except perhaps the sating of his thirst. Whilst addiction was easier to cure than chronic thirst, Paplo’s continuous needs granted him a constant mental balance.

They walked not too far, for soon they crossed out the city gates, and entered the Outer Perimeter – all the buildings, businesses, structures and lands that were unprotected by the city walls. A turn here and a turn there resulted in the arrival in the aforementioned establishment; a tavern named ‘The Crooked Cock’, its symbol being a rooster with its neck fatally twisted. Its appearance was shady, and the building itself seemed about to collapse.
“We’ve arrived. I apologize if our sojourn took us out of the city walls, comrade.” Paplo opened the door and stepped inside, holding the door with a smile for his acquaintance.

Within the Crooked Cock, every detail an individual could expect from its façade were actually missing. A well-lit interior, warm by the roaring fireplace, and scented of properly cooked stews and meat awaited. The clientele seemed humble but friendly, and their armpits were quite clean for farmers, lumberjacks and the merchants that ate within. The crowd was small at this break of the trial, although it would soon start to flood with those wishing for a delicious and sanitary lunch.
“Greetings!” exclaimed the barkeeper. “Welcome to the Crooked Roaster! I see you’ve brought a friend, Paplo.”
“Indeed I have, Marin. Do I smell another Crooked Pot?”
“Yes, you are correct,” replied Marin, chuckling. “Are you going to be eating today, or are you going to sit in a table and sniff it?”
“Sniffing for now, still waiting on the last shipment's pay,” replied Paplo, eager to extort his acquaintance for a free meal. Free food was always good.

Moving to one of the many free booths, Paplo would choose the one next to the wall, and he’d take the seat next to said wall. From there, he could have control over the room, its various exits, and would assert his dominance over the Eidisi, whom would have to either sit beside him, or instead expose his back to the locale.
“I come here all the time,” explained Paplo. “Marin runs cock fights in the evenings, and those defeated are used to craft the next trial’s meals. It’s almost as if a violent death matters not in the taste, don’t you think?”

Leaning close, and supporting his torso on his crossed arms, Paplo offered a smile to his acquaintance. Smiling was important. It gave a sense of security to insecure individuals, and encouraged interaction between them. The Eidisi certainly seemed indifferent to his smiles, but said information remained to be known for now.
“The Outer Perimeter is a place of wonders, truly. Do not be disillusioned by the lack of walls, for the tales of invasions are nothing but schemes to inflate prices within the city. I have found it to be much more secure that the city, in fact. Places to stay and employment are found easily if one possesses the will to sweat, yet I suspect you do not quite enjoy swinging axes against trees.” Paplo chuckled. “May I ask what employment opportunities you seek within Etzos?”

Paplo had no intention of sharing the information the Eidisi craved for, or what had convinced him to follow Paplo. Not just yet, at least. First, the analysis had to be done, the study of the mind and soul, and then, whenever the facts were present, Paplo could make a decision on how to puppeteer the blue chicken.

He’d make a delicious Crooked Pot.
word count: 870
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Aerlan
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We have yet to meet a killer that liked talking so much, eh brother?

Except for you, no.

Aerlan had followed Paplo in silence, his eyes shifting back and forth from their surroundings to the man himself. The last thing he wanted to be was lost and in an area he had no knowledge of with no idea which way to return to. Thus, he busied himself with memorizing their route and listening to the man prattle on with inane comments and questions. Although new to traveling abroad, Aerlan had come to understand a few things about people from his experiences in Viden and his few days in Etzos. "Friendly" was rare yet acceptable between strangers, but the sheer level of it oozing off of Paplo was outright suspicious. Only two conclusions could be drawn from this. Either it was genuine and Paplo was an imbecile, or it was a ruse and the man was a manipulator. If Aerlan prayed then he would have done so for the latter option. Manipulators were easier to deal with. They wanted something and once you knew what it was you could make a partnership out of it or play a game of "Who's the Better Manipulator". Sometimes those two things coincided.

It wasn't until the duo had entered the establishment that Aerlan focused his attention from surroundings and back to the company alongside him. He had watched Paplo's exchange with the barkeep, making note of their easy speech. The likelihood of this being a trap lessened in the mage's mind. If the man knew the staff then why do anything within sight to arouse suspicions? His annoyance spiked when they reached a free both and Paplo took the chair next to the wall. Better vantage point and establishing control of my choices. Interesting. Keeping his face void of the minor emotional response, Aerlan returned a smile as Paplo seated himself and indicated for Aerlan to join him. It was better to sit next to an enemy than leave a whole room of unknown strangers behind you. Aerlan seated himself beside the man and moved in close enough that most people who feel their own personal space being infringed upon. Two can play this. What was that, dear brother? Would you actually use our power instead of playing with your elements?

A small noise came from the Frayed's stomach. His hunger had been slowly building on the walk for some reason, despite having just eaten less than two breaks before. Since his guide had not ordered and Aerlan felt no compunction to purchase a meal for two, he stiffened his resolve and kept his hunger in check. His left hand began to shake slightly however. It clenched slowly into a fist. Tsk, tsk. You know what that means.

In response to the questions and his companion's body language, Aerlan leaned back and kept his arms uncrossed. Always best to do the opposite and view the reactions. "My race is one of a studious and academic focus. My skills are no less...stereotypical, one could say. I've merely been seeing the sights and the people up 'till now," he stated while rubbing his hairless chin. " Employment would be most efficient if it came in the form of a research assistant, translator, or the like. I have a gift for languages. Afterall, if you cannot speak with a person then you cannot get what you want from them, no?" His question was pointed but came out sincere. "And what of you, my companion? What is it you do for this...grand...city? Despite your choice of apparel, you speak quite well for the lower class. I'm sure someone of your uniqueness has larger endeavors in mind than simply being a drone for the government?"

Banter seemed to the best step. Aerlan was sure the men would get no truths from each other until a basis had been created. In games like this, you had to get a feel for your opponent before making crucial moves.
Last edited by Aerlan on Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 684
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world... No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
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Paplo’s point about carefulness had been proven, although being trapped between a potential meal and the wall was not quite satisfying. Thankfully for himself, Paplo had many defenses against a possible attack, be it spontaneous mutations or the body odor the Mortalborn tried to contain quite in vain. Despite the seating being somewhat inconvenient, proven by the obvious attempt of finding comfort, Paplo showed no signs of psychological discomfort, for his features remained friendly and socially approachable.

“Interesting!” he exclaimed. “Men of knowledge are hard to come by these days, or so it seemed whilst I sojourned these lands. Without attempting to seem racist, I shall now associate your skin hue with the educated. Unfortunately, I am unsure if such specialized employment can be found within Etzos. Please understand that my knowledge about such matters are limited, for I’ve had no necessity of inquiring regarding such positions. However, I believe within the walls, such opportunities of employment may be found.”

Paplo readjusted in his seat, laying his head on his palm, looking towards the Eidisi. His smile widened after the male’s observation.

“Oh, please. I am certain my jargon does not fool you. I find it brings further opportunities of sensible conversation than, say, drunken and fast paced hailstorm of poorly constructed sentences. Like yourself, the jargon and grammatical mannerisms I employ is what I consider a different language.” Paplo scoffed. “Furthermore, by my rather ungroomed and, unfortunately, unwashed appearance, you’d be safe to assume my employment is far from what I would’ve preferred. Swinging an axe against frozen tree-trunks does not bring me much pleasure, and no, I do not provide any service for the government.”

A small pause.

“Let us speak somewhat directly. An individual of the aforementioned government will approach you sometime soon. When it happens, you’ll be given two choices, both of which are nothing but illusions, for you shall only have one exit. From that moment onward, you will be chained by choices you never got to make, and you’ll be trapped within Etzos.” Paplo’s smile faded, and instead a completely plain expression made its way onto his tilted head. He stared shamelessly. “That man shares our trait, yet he does not dwell in games. I am ignorant as the amount of power he holds, yet it is more than sufficient to erase your existence with little to no offer. That, of course, also applies to my own life. My suggestion is still the most viable option; gather your coin and luggage and depart whilst you are able.”

Paplo kept still. His posture had frozen, not having varied in the slightest. His expression was also devoid of expressions – and thus emotions –, bending the truth at will without a sign drawn in his frame.

“Or don’t. The difference between servant and slave come from the freedom of choice, do they not? Perhaps the choice can be yours before it is forced upon you. I am certain many benefits come from taking a step forth even when thick fog surrounds us. Being an optimist as I am, I’d say many benefits await you were you to traverse past doubt.”

Besides the obvious information shared, the double-meaning Paplo had intended was subtly announced, a finger signaling back and forth between the two, gesturing towards the space that separated them both.

“I would appreciate if you spoke your mind at last, my friend. Let’s us speak as men, not children.”
word count: 591
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Aerlan
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Looks like the game is over sooner than expected. Games that end up with a nice Flaying are better, Empty One. I'm sure this creature would taste exquisite should he ever prove less than useful. The Frayed mage paused.Creature...? Glaren's silence was deafening, leaving Aerlan curious as to what he had meant.

Aerlan stared directly at Paplo, taking his time to weigh the words spoken. His advice and warning were sound and definitely invited a greater level of trust, yet what better way to lure in someone than with just enough truth to make them reveal their own secrets. The man was too extreme in his actions, ranging between irritatingly nice to serious to emotionless. There was no history of experience or natural skill and reading a person in such a situation for Aerlan to make a conclusive decision. As such, he reached a slender hand beneath his wolf-skin cloak and pulled out a silver, Viden coin. Holding it up in front of his eyes, the mage stared at his prized possession and gift from his Defiance master. A grim look passed across his face before disappearing in the emptiness within. Huffing in minor annoyance at the memory's attempt to resurface, Aerlan flipped the coin into the air before him. His hand reached out and snatched it on its descent from the apex. Heads, I trust him. Tails, I play along and Flay him later. Opening his hand, the visage of Yvithia faced upwards. His gaze turned back to his companion

With truth the decision, Aerlan's fake tones and smile disappeared. "I will never be controlled. Should this powerful figure seek to do so then I would allow him to think as he will and bide my own time. I would openly join him, offering platitudes and loyalty so far as he is aware. His power and resources would be my aim, for what power I have is still lesser than many. Any means excuses the final goal. I would use and be used in turn," his eyes glanced down to the coin in his hand before raising again. "No, I will never be forced into decisions not of my making again. It would please me that his person seek me out. Afterall, the quickest path to power to to take it from those who already hold it."

His words trailed off as he returned the coin to a pocket beneath his cloak. "And as for you? You speak from personal experience. How do you feel being bound under the yolk of this person? Were it me, his death is what I would seek. And the use of a talents to devour his soul..."
word count: 457
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world... No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
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Limbo
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Paplo was satisfied with the Eidisi’s answer. The satisfaction was not only that resulting from his manipulation, which had obviously been responsible for the sudden outburst of truth from the secretive male, but rather in the communicated notions Paplo could relate to. Use and disposal, craving, power, betrayal. Many believed civilization or society were spheres for comfort, homes for the souls and an ocean of matching emotions. This male, much like Paplo, believed civilization, culture, and humanity in general was a tool to be used. The benefit of one self’s life and objectives was more important than the accommodation of one’s personality or feelings.

“My personal experience has taught me well, for now I know those that manipulate and subjugate others to their will care not for those below them. Were I to lose my use, I would be disposed of, and I have no interest of that happening. It is clear to me said individual must be neutralized before danger becomes harm, or threats become truth. What I feel matters not compared to the need of securing one’s existence. Your approach, from what I can gather, seems very logical. Were my opinion to matter to you, I would encourage you to chase after said idea.”

"I crave not for power, but I do crave from my freedom. Being chained under this individuals’ will compromises my desires, and considering negotiation is out of the question, I fear extreme measures are to take place. In that sense, I believe we share an objective, and so, once again, I shall sacrifice my sense of security by offering you my trust, at least temporarily, until we are freed from this individual. In return for my trust, I will expect some sort of loyalty were the power balance between the two waver in favor of one or the other.”

A placebo. The Eidisi would never hold more power than Paplo, at least not physically nor mentally. Were Vuda to grant him social rights or control over troops, Paplo would be compromised. It was important to mix truth and lies, weaknesses and strengths, in order to accomplish a mutual understanding.

“Whatever it is you choose, my task is complete. Now you know what to expect, and you can be prepared to play the game however you see fit. Do not make mistakes. Do not let him hold leverage over you. Whether you desire to see me again or not is, once again, your choice. Let us depart now, for the meals cooked in the kitchen haunt me, and my stomach wails in hunger. Whether you desire to see me again or not is entirely your choice.”
word count: 452
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