29th of Zi'da, 716Weakness. It is what makes a victim out of any person. To the creatures of the vast animal kingdom, victim is just another word for prey. The lion never attacks the head of a pack, nor do the wolves attack a group of strong, healthy deer. No. These predators seek out the infirm, the weak, the solitary. Hunting a man is fundamentally the same. The question that matters is which people fit such a description in the context of humanity and civilization. Someone sick may be kept under surveillance within a clinic, making them an unfit target. A child is weak but lives under the protection of parents and family. A lone warrior can still be a mighty foe. It comes down to the variables. If that infirm person is kept watch on by a full staff or is it one lone, tired healer? Is that child under scrutiny from the family or is it left to its own devices until the parents are needed? Is that warrior injured, old, or sleeping? A single variable can turn anyone into a perfect prey. All that is needed is observation and patience.
These thoughts were on Aerlan's mind as he walked leisurely along. His black booted steps had taken him from his rented residence a few hours before and on a journey throughout the southern half of Etzos' Outer Perimeter. Usually, the Citizen's Market kept his curiosity entertained for hours. Hundreds of people zipping about their pointless lives fascinated him to no end. Where were they going? What were they buying? Why did one man apologize for rudeness and another laugh cruelly at the same act? There was always something to learn.
However, today his feet took him north. The shakes had come upon him in full. The Frayed kept his entire left arm hidden beneath his wolf-skin cloak to hide its constant trembling. A single bead of sweat dripped off his thin brow despite the cold season. It was time to feed the desire. No amount of discipline could stop it for long, and he didn't want it to. Addiction was such a complete word, Aerlan thought. It encompasses the entirety of what it truly is. A curse, a pleasure, and need. His curse and his pleasure came from the deaths and devouring of souls. The bond with his Harvester was too beneficial to ever let die, no matter the cost. Aerlan's addiction and his sociopathic nature were the best of two worlds. He could feed his need and yet feel no qualms about the manner of it. Flaying a child or grandfather was no different than Flaying a criminal. A victim was nothing more than prey. No predator ever felt guilt over its meal. Neither would Aerlan.
"No animal can devour a delectable soul either, brother. Such a fine course is meant only for the Apex Predator," whispered Glaren. Two yellow eyes blinked before the Eidisi then disappeared.
Aerlan grunted in agreement, gripping his right side with the trembling left limb. He was making a counter-clockwise journey along the outer perimeter. Ahead, he knew the Outer Crafting Zone would soon be in sight. I have my magic...but I do not have anything for the more mundane necessities... With no martial training, I should pick a simple weapon. Easily hidden but deadly... A dagger. A perfect tool in many cases. He would need to buy one for certain. Quickening the pace, he strode passed the tower of the Veterinarian Station without a glance and entered his destination shortly after. The mage didn't waste his time perusing stalls upon entering the crafting area. His future purchase already in mind, emotionless eyes scanned each stall and, upon locating a small blacksmith stall, his feet took him there with haste.
Ignorance concerning metalwork and weapons in general led the mage to a staring contest with the stall's contents. Before him lay multiple small, bladed weapons. Of those present, he only recognized the daggers, stilettos, and krises. His intended purpose for the tool led him to immediately disregard the last option. Krises also too unique to go unnoticed if seen. A quick trip inside homicidal fantasy led him to realize that a stiletto was unfit as well. Aerlan did not currently possess the knowledge or skill to stab anyone with such a blade and hope to hit a vital organ that would induce death as silently and efficiently as possible. This left him with only the daggers. By the time this decision was made, the stall clerk noticed him and approached.
"Greetings, good s-sir!" The man's words faltered slightly as he took in the appearance of the customer. Eidisi were a rarity in Etzos. "W-we have the best blades in Etzos, as I'm sure you can see. Please, what can I get for you today? Any will do well in defense of your person. If I may be so bold, I'd suggest the stiletto or a dagger." His hands indicated the displayed weapons. "The dagger is more varied in uses however, whether hunting, fighting, or merely in need of a tool."
Aerlan sized up the man and sighed. "I agree with your assessment. A dagger is indeed what I need," he stated as he glanced at those on display though he could tell no difference in quality. "Which would you suggest?"
The man smiled openly and picked up two daggers. Both glinted wickedly but one had a handle wrapped in black leather and the other had a wooden handle with artistic carvings. Utility mattered far more than looks to the mage so he pointed towards the former choice.
"Fine choice! Fine, indeed, good sir. A good quality blade for any occasion! That's 8gn, if you will." The man smiled warmly.
Eyes utterly cold stared back at that warm smile and Aerlan looked at the goods and then to the stalls around him, finding another stall with similar merchandise. "8gn seems a bit steep, I must admit. Why, the gentleman down the way offered me a similar blade but for 7gn. A sheath was thrown in as well, as a courtesy. Sad to say, I must go back to him. You are a kind fellow but business is business. I'm sure you understand." Aerlan nodded his head and faked his best smile as he spoke the lies, then started to turn away.
The stall clerk immediately called out, his voice a pitch higher than before. "W-wait, sir! I misspoke. My mind had been upon the other blade! Sir, this one is merely 6gn. And of course a sheath comes with it, black as the handle to match." His smile was strained but genuine as far as Aerlan could tell.
Aerlan kept his smile on but attempted to put some warmth in his usually monotone voice. "Ah! I give thanks to you, sir. Certainly, this blade would be best for me," the mage stated as he pulled out and handed the man 6gn. With the transaction done and new blade sheathed comfortably on his left hip, Aerlan's steps led him towards the northern exit to the crafting area.
His gaze turned to the sky above. Daylight was beginning to wain and night would soon be here. Now, to find a victim.