• Mature • The Price of Arrogance

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Neronin
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The Price of Arrogance

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716th Arc, 22nd Trial of Zi'da
Etzos, Outer Perimeter


Neronin could not keep the disgust from his face as he watched the two older boys leap out and attack the younger boy and what Neronin presumed was his grandmother. They both carried staves that they had probably cut themselves. It was not their actions that disgusted him, but that they had to. The powerful and influential of the city, the High Marshal and the Council, rarely had a thought for those who survived down in the drudges like this. Both the victims and the muggers here bore the unmistakable signs of a hard life, and Neronin was not quite sure which to hate more. Neither pair seemed willing to shrug off the proverbial shackles their society placed on them. The mage clenched his teeth in frustration, why did these peons of the privileged let such injustices against them go unpunished?

He had been a slave to the hierarchy, indeed he still was to some extent. He had first been tied to the will of his abusive father, and now carried the scars to prove it. Then he had been linked for years to the vindictive will of Gavrel the Necromancer, and now, after shrugging that master off he was subject to the High Marshal and his extensive power. But Neronin had at least been aware of it, he had seen the shackles. He had made the sacrifices to acquire some level of independence. His soul may be besmirched with darkness, but it would be free of control.

The boy fought bravely, trying to wrest one of the staves from his attacker before catching it across the chin. He almost rose again to fight before the other jabbed his staff hard in the boy's back. The sound that broke through his lips was hardly the noise of a man, but the yelping of a beaten dog. The necromancer winced as he watched. He could intervene, but that would risk discovery as a mage, since his only means of combat were through the use of the arcane. Was a boy worth such a risk? Hardly. Neronin was not one to sabotage a life lesson such as this. If he survived the fight, the youth would be harder, a better man later in life. Neronin thought back on the many beatings he had received. They had hardened him.

When the boy stopped moving the two attackers turned on the screaming old woman. This Neronin watched without a flickering of the eyelid. She was neither strong nor brave, having spent no time trying to slip away whilst her grandson protected her. She, at least, deserved whatever end she got. After they were finished pummeling the woman the two quickly gathered up the sack of what appeared to be foodstuffs the boy had been carrying. They seemed half starved themselves, and eagerly pulled form it a small loaf of black bread, which they tore in half and ate as they slid quickly between two buildings across the street.

Neronin moved out of the shadow he had been skulking in, his pale face almost warm in the light spilling from the adobe house next to him. He approached the figures laying in the mud upon the street. The Etzosi meager did not bother to check upon the old woman, she wasn't worth his time. Besides, losing such a hindrance would benefit the boy, if he lived. Neronin pushed the toe of his dirty leather boot under the boy and rolled him over onto his back. At least now if he had the will to survive the beating he wouldn't choke on Etzosi mud.

Neronin pulled his hood up as he moved to follow the two attackers. He felt a fire of retribution inside him. He did not feel any particular empathy for the boy, and certainly not for his grandmother. It was more an indignity at the brazen arrogance of the two attackers. Any opportunity to humble the arrogant was worthwhile for Neronin. He could just see them strolling down the next street, bouncing lightly on their toes as they eagerly brought their prize home.

Neither took notice of the man dogging their steps. Apparently their experience with the socially heinous was not as extensive as his, or else they feared no repercussions. The necromancer carried with him the sack which contained one of his few minions. Today he carried the bones of Eladir Mosk with him, some days it was a cadre of slightly rotten rats. The bones clinked together with a faint rattle. Their ominous presence gave Neronin confidence. What were these two boys to his undead? Nothing. They were merely an obstacle. He would make them understand that there was a cost to such arrogance.
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Neronin
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The Price of Arrogance

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Neronin looked around the street to ensure they were alone. He did not see anyone, though that was no reason not to be careful. The mage followed, hugging the shadowy side of the street as he did so. Eventually the two came to stop in front of a house. It was a battered and filthy thing, made from adobe but stained with filth and neglect.

As the two entered with some rummaging for a key Neronin approached from behind. His feet slid slightly in the mud and the squelching of it was audible, but he did not care. Neronin watched the two close their door and heard it lock. He paused outside the house, raising the energy within himself. He felt it almost crackle with a sentient anticipation. Neronin knocked on the door. Three hard raps, mimicking what he thought a guard would do.

Neronin held his breath. He listened carefully at the door for the sound of footsteps. They came, along with grumbling, indecipherable words. Neronin held his breath and the door clicked open. He wasted no time in setting his shoulder against the wood. He collided hard with it, sending the smaller boy sprawling. As Neronin stumbled into the room he threw the bag of bones into the room. The two boys were not alone, there was another. They seemed to have captured the home from another family. Off details were evident at a glance as Neronin surveyed the boys and their hideout.

Many valuables littered the area, and it had mostly fallen to disrepair. Chairs had broken or ill kept backs, a woman's dress lain in one corner, discarded toys piled in another. None of these boys looked young enough or tame enough to waste time with such things as toys. As Neronin entered the two at the table stood, one with knife in hand, the other with staff. The boy who had fallen cursed loudly and was struggling to pull the bag off of him.

Neronin let the magic rip out of him in a vile black cloud that sparked and glowed with an eerie green light. The mage willed the dark stuff to billow out in a cloud, encompassing the whole room. He kicked the door closed behind him and dove to the side as the Sap made each boy reel uneasily. Neronin was filled with a thrill of power, of victory. He ignored the slight feeling of nausea that swept over him and let the energy reignite within. Neronin pushed the magic into the bones now entangling the boy on the floor. With it he unleashed his anger and rage.

The Marrow assembled on top of the boy, the eye sockets filling with a single-minded hunger as it once again became tied to Neronin's will. The moment the Marrow manifested the scene in the room changed. The Sap had, by then, dissipated. The two who had been at the table were once more regaining their strength, though their faces were pale and shocked. The smell of old soup and rotten vegetables wafted from their fireplace as the Marrow grabbed the boy's head in a bony hand. The thing fixed it's wretched gaze upon him and it seemed to almost be alive in the flickering firelight. Neronin watched with wide eyes as the thing lowered itself down. He almost lost his concentration as it bit greedily into the boy's flesh, ripping meat from his shoulder.

The other two boys launched themselves into action, they're faces etched with an animalistic fear. The staff wavered in the boy's hand. He was, now that Neronin looked, barely old enough to pretend at manhood. The expression on his face made him look less like a man than he actually was. The other was older, harder, and more fearsome. The knife shone in the firelight as it cut toward the Marrow. Neronin watched with growing trepidation as the boy tackled the Marrow off his comrade.

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Neronin
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"What in Parhn's name is this?!" The boy yelled as he did so. His grunt of impact punctuated his attack and Neronin watched the Marrow go sprawling. The younger boy, who had been fixated on the twitching form of his downed friend now yelled a shriek of half terror, half desperation and charged as well. The boy with the knife leapt over the Marrow and Neronin's heart sunk.

Neronin fumbled for his own dagger as the boy launched himself at him. The necromancer saw the Marrow's bony form reach up and pull the second boy down by the cloak. The two were suddenly immersed in a thrashing, scratching mass. But Neronin was not watching.

The boy with the knife, a simple eating utensil, but made no less deadly by that fact, swiped at him. Neronin kicked himself further back, lashing out wildly with leg, foot, and his own dagger. He retreated swiftly to the corner, with the boy in careful pursuit. the only sounds were the whimpers of the first boy, still dying on the floor, the weak pitiful sounds of the second boy wrestling with the Marrow, and the snarling breaths of Neronin and the third boy.

The mage felt a thundering in his heart, as if it's wild beat would somehow save him. He saw the boy lunge and threw his hands up in defense. The dagger in his hand swiped with a vicious self-preserving hatred. The boy's knife gouged into his arm, he felt the pain blossom. It raked across the top of his forearm, blood welling out. The blood seemed to be the thing that saved him. The dark stuff made the knife slip and fall from the boy's hands. Neronin's mind was on fire. He moaned as he stared up at the ceiling, unseeing. He had dropped his own dagger and had no idea if the Marrow was even still fighting, still tied to his will. Neronin did the only thing he could. He gathered his energy and struggled to lay hands upon the boy.

As he pulled the energy from his soul Neronin felt an icy chill come over him. It was as though he was pulling his own essence from him, in a more corrosive way than normal. It sapped his energy and he felt his head reeling. The mage could only feel blindly around for the boy, depending on his sense of touch. His fingers found the soft skin of a jaw and he clenched down hard. Neronin let his energy out in a hateful torrent. It clung to the boy greedily. He clenched his eyes closed, not wanting to see his wound. The arm radiated a depth of pain he had not experienced before. Neronin felt his chest heaving as if there was a bird inside trying to escape.

All the mage could think about was pouring more energy into the Sap. He struggled to crush the jaw in his hand and seep his corrosive energy into the boy. He felt the boy's struggles wane and his weigh slump over Neronin.

"What....are...you?" He heard a fearful voice ask.

Neronin struggled to grasp the bloodied knife with his free hand, his arm screaming in protest. He cried out as he found it, the blade slicing a cut along the inside of his second finger. It was hardly a concern in the present situation. He picked it up and sunk it into the boy's neck without a second thought. He spluttered and made to gasp for air as blood flew in a soft spout from the wound. Oddly, none of it sprayed Neronin. He spent just enough strength to throw the boy from him, hoping he would die soon. "I...I'm a..." But he could not finish. He felt the cold and disorientation sweeping over him. His arm was a nexus of wild burning pain that radiated through his joints. All Neronin could do was curl up and whimper. He barely felt himself vomit.
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Neronin
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The Price of Arrogance

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The mage fell into unconsciousness, his last mental focus being the wild thrill of throbbing in his arm. The black of oblivion was welcome against the onslaught of pain and tremendous exhaustion. The room grew still as Neronin succumbed to the blackness. He had no idea how long he lay there. It could have been nearly a Trial for all he was aware of it. But when he woke it was to a pulsing ache in his arm. The necromancer blinked against the pain, momentarily at a loss to where he was and why he hurt. But the events came back to him, hitting his with a weight that made him gasp and his heart start racing again.

What had he done? This had been a foolish, prideful move. He had nearly died, stepping around the final moment with only dumb luck as his guide. Neronin simply blinked at the ceiling for a long time, trying to force some other thought besides the horror at his situation into his head. Eventually the necromancer regained enough energy to sit up. He surveyed the grisly scene around him, eyes blinking fiercely. The fire was still smoldering. It gave off a soft light that silhouetted the bodies that had not moved. The boy with the neck wound stared vacantly directly at where Neronin sat. The inadvertent eye contact made Neronin gasp. But the boy was dead. The fear and hate that was etched there was old and gone. All that remained of him was the physical. The same for the boy next to him which the Marrow had attacked. This one stared aimlessly at the ceiling.

The room was motionless, Neronin like a beacon of life amid the ruin of death. He glanced over to where the Marrow, now nothing more than scattered bones, had ravaged the youngest boy. He was a bloody mess with little resembling a face. The necromancer struggled to his feet, the swaying of his head causing him to stumble and fall over one of the corpses.

Neronin hit the floor again, his arm felt like it had exploded with pain. The necromancer screamed weakly and felt spittle against his face as he impacted the floor with a dull thud. He watched the flames as he tried to stop his mind from reeling. It was a long time before he could pull himself up. The Etzosi crawled his way into one of the chairs, a task not easily completed. He slumped over the table and sighed with relief.

He pulled a stale loaf of bread towards himself and broke a piece off. He consumed the bread with a single-minded determination, letting it soak and soften in his mouth before swallowing. The chunk of nutrients seemed to ground him, pouring a small but vital bit of strength back into his body. He repeated the slow process until the loaf was gone. Neronin wasted no time in working his way through the bag of food they had stolen. Neronin felt some small bit of energy returning to him. The necromancer worked his way through a wooden cup of water as well, still leaning heavily over the table. His strength was not enough to clean himself up yet, but it was enough to at least begin thinking of a plan to get out of there.

He couldn't clean all this up. It was too bloody, too messy. The necromancer eventually regained enough energy to stand. He stared around at his handiwork with faint horror written across his features. Neronin steadied himself and clenched his jaw, the muscles tightening visibly. He rummaged amongst the dead for his own dagger and sheathed it as his waist. He turned to set about the task of collecting the Marrow's bones. He could not yet bring himself to practice any more magic, no matter how convenient it may be. His head ached at the thought of pulling any more Ether from him. So over the next break he dropped bones into the sack he had brought. It was now half stained with a dark black, but it did not break with the sack's already dirty darkness. He could wait until dark and get home alright he surmised.

Neronin rubbed at his face, massaging the flesh around his eyes. The necromancer glanced at where the fire still smoldered. Perhaps he would not have to clean anything up. Neronin pulled a chair over to the fire and kicked it over into the flames. He found the smallest boy, and with a great deal of effort, pulled the corpse closer to the fire. He could make this work for him. The necromancer took a long while to find a bottle of liquor the boys hadn't completely consumed. Once he found it he returned to the fire and poured the cheap stuff over the chair and the boy. He watched the embers fizzle and ignite, the orange flame streaming along like some wrathful river to the chair. He poured the rest of the bottle out over the chair and the thing erupted in flame.

That should do the trick. Neronin glanced around the room once again, checking that he had not forgotten anything. The necromancer slid through the door, moving quickly to get some distance from the home. As he left he pulled the hood of his cloak up tightly around his head and ducked down. He didn't want to be seen leaving such a wretched scene. He made his way to the shadows across the street. He was lucky that it was a dark and overcast night by the time he left. But it started raining again as he slid down the alley far enough away from the one he had come through so as to avoid the two bodies of the victims. Neronin hoped the fire would still be able to destroy the horrors of the house before the rain doused it...
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The Price of Arrogance

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"I don't know, Dooley..." the investigating alchemist said, his mind more on what he was thinking than what he was saying. He was at the burnt-out adobe unit, following up on what was figured to be some sort of thug challenge gone too far. "These boys are not unknown to me. They've probably done the first constructive thing in their lives, by getting killed. And no, I don't think they killed themselves. I DO think their deaths can lead us to a killer though."

He squatted beside one of the burned corpses, motioning his assistant to join him. The man reluctantly obeyed, his face showing effort not to gag. The alchemist smirked slightly and continued, "Note how this one has far more damage to the edges of the nasal bone cavity than those others? I've seen this before. I believe he had his nose bit off. The fire, which I figure was meant to cover up these sorts of details, actually reveals it instead. The others still have a good deal of melted cartilage around the cavity. But the fire did not have to burn through the nose first on this one; going straight to the bone."

He stood up and waved to the other two bodies, "Now, I suppose one of them may have done it. They were fairly savage little bastards. But if so, it's either been spit aside or swallowed. Not only do I NOT believe we will find a nose in either of their stomachs, I don't believe we will find any of the food that was in those sacks. Which, incidentally, match the ones stolen from Maude and her son on the way back from the Market. Whoever did this was either in too big a hurry to be more thorough, or simply lacks the experience. I'm inclined to think the latter, since I'm banking on him having eaten the food."

He went to the door and waved an additional pair of men inside, instructing them to take samples from several spots on the floor and walls, and to mark them so they wouldn't get mixed up. "I think we may find FOUR different blood sources with our attunement filter. And I could swear I smell vomit. That too may reveal something regarding who ate what, and the presence of a fourth individual. I believe we have a necromancer that was after some new bodies; got more than he bargained for; won the fight, but was hurt and overspent on his power, which I'm given to understand makes them extremely hungry. Thus the food gone, but not eaten by these three, no bodies animated because he was too taxed. And probably a beginner, since he hasn't learned to cover his tracks too well yet."

He was still holding his hands in the position of counting off factors, when he nodded. "This one will not stop. He's just getting started. Send for Grin, from the SSC in Foster's Landing. Tell him we've got a mage problem."
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Come and get your Loot!

(There's plenty more where that came from)


NERONIN:
Rewards:

  • Story: +5
  • Collaboration: +0 (solo)
  • Structure: +5

These points CAN be used for magic!

Knowledges:

  • Blades: Blood on the Hilt is Slippery
  • Deception: Knock Like a Guard
  • Detection: The Signs of a "Pirated" Holdout
  • Endurance: Hard Times Make One Stronger
  • Field Craft: Liquor as a Fire Starter
  • Necromancy: Too Overstepped to Create a Minion
  • Psychology: Arrogance: Receiving a Lesson You Meant to Teach
  • Psychology: Loathing Villains and Victims Equally
  • Psychology: The Reassurance of a Rattling Bag of Bones
  • Staves: Watching a Coordinated Attack
  • Surgery: Anatomy: The Weak Points that Thugs Attack
  • Unarmed Combat: Each Thug Deals With Different Targets

Loot:

Too overstepped to take anything


Loss:

Nothing to speak of


Injuries:

Lightly Overstepped, Slash on the arm


Fame: -5 (you may not want it...lol)

Act of magic (-2)
General bad deed (-1)
Break city law (-2)


Devotion:

only to the grave ;)


Comments:

Well written. Wonderfully vivid and horrific.
I love that your character is believably able to make mistakes and do something stupid.
You don't try to make him out to be a Master at Competent level.
PM me with any comments or concerns :)
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