• Graded • To Water Street Marketplace

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To Water Street Marketplace
Day 5 of Culys Arc 717, In the shady tavern Blacksmith Arms in Andaris
The painter Yrmellyn Cole wanted to visit Water Street Marketplace this day in Culys 717. For while she had been looking to learn about the possibilities of alchemy and potions. A university professor named Doran Thetys had promised to tell her more about it, but when she had returned from a trip to another part of Rynmere, she had found that he had left Andaris.

Eventually she had decided to pursue her interest in alchemy on her own. However, Yrmellyn Cole’s first idea wasn't to look for knowledge in schools. She was a daughter of the Dust Quarters of Rharne. In her experience there were many things to learn that didn't without attending schools. For good and for bad there was knowledge to find outside of the established paradigms and the beaten tracks. This other knowledge was sometimes just fraud, but sometimes it could be way more potent than the conventional and well known knowledge one could gain from official scholars.

Growing up in the poor and criminality infested Dust Quarters in Rharne hadn't been a joke. Yrmellyn knew that it would be foolish to go to Water Street Marketplace alone. It was a dangerous place, even for someone who knew to step carefully and keep her eyes open. She would need a body guard, but not an obvious one.

As it happened, Yrmellyn and a female eídisi had ran into each other in a fight against shadows in Andaris lower city early in Vhalar 716. They knew each other by appearance, but not more. Sadly, Yrmellyn didn't know the name of the other, as there hadn't been time for introductions at the time. The eídisi had saved Yrmellyn’s life though, and for this reason Yrmellyn thought of the woman as somebody she could trust. In addition, Yrmellyn was an artist, and kind of a rebel against proper and conventional attitudes. Her attire nowadays was men’s wear (most of the time) and as the eídisi's style was somewhat similar it appealed to Yrmellyn. There was one more woman in town who didn't wear a dress, and the eídisi seemed to make a living as some kind of solider or similar.

The eídisi seemed ideal as company in the Water Street Marketplace.

First off, one could hope they would look like two women out shopping, somewhat dubious women of questionable standards, likely to try to pay in other ways than by money. This would hopefully make cutpurses judge them unprofitable and pass them by in favor of fatter prey. Yrmellyn didn't want to be robbed.

Second, she didn't want to be patronized by some overbearing male body guard who might try to hold her back from closer investigations of interesting things. She counted on the eídisi to be more flexible. Surely the eídisi would be a good choice. Yrmellyn was low on money though, so she didn't want to pay. She hoped the eídisi would have some reason of her own to go to Water Street, and could use company for some end or another.


Yrmellyn started to search and eventually she found the eídisi in the tavern Blacksmith Arms. In order to seem natural and not draw attention to them, she bought a mug of beer before she walked over to the table where the woman sat alone. After a smile and a greeting Yrmellyn discreetly used sign language to give the eídisi a reminder of the events in lower city in Vhalar. The eídisi, looking somewhat aloof but recognizing an incoming business proposal, made a gesture to the chair next to her own. Yrmellyn promptly sat down and started to speak.

"I've been looking to visit Water Street Marketplace, but I don't want to go alone. I was wondering if you have reason to go there. Perhaps we could go together? By the way, my name is Yrmellyn Cole. I'm not sure if I recall ...”

She took a swig of the beer and waited.
Last edited by Yrmellyn Cole on Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:44 pm, edited 3 times in total. word count: 700
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It was not every trial Yana found herself in the Blacksmith Arms, mostly because the seedy tavern in Lowtown wasn't nearly as quiet and civilized as she wanted it to be. It was a great place to find potential customers, if one was a mercenary looking for work. However, Yana was not there as her human persona Rayna. Instead, she had assumed the likeness of the Eídisi race.

Usually, she would not enter that tavern at all in that form –unless she had to go and quell a barfight while on duty-- but she'd not been in the mood to walk all the way to midtown. Also, her she had the chance to watch and observe people, lowtowners mostly, in their natural habitat. Were they interesting? Well... not really, no. They were pretty dull, actually, but that could be said of so many individuals. These people were just rowdy, but that did not make them any more fascinating than anyone else. They just entered, sat themselves down or gathered around the bar, drank beer, and played dice or cards. Some began to argue with each other for no apparent reason. From what the Yludih could hear, they just could not stand each other, and had decided that they should try to work the other out the door.

At least that was a little better in terms of entertainment, though not very much. The false Eídisi had hoped that perhaps she could study the movement the men made while brawling to improve upon her own technique in unarmed combat. Alas, it was not to be. First of all, they were not using the same style Yana was being taught, but that was fine. Some things were alike in just about any fighting style. Punching, for example, or grappling. The basics should be the same. That was the second part of disappointment; they were just moving on instinct, not muscle memory obtained through rigorous training. Their movements were sloppy, their stances were utter crap. Both were giving the other more opportunities to attack than one could count on their hands and toes combined, but neither of them realized. Thus, they did not even act on it. To top it all off, both were stupidly drunk. It was just one big mess.

It really did not evolve into anything more than a brief scuffle. Maybe for the best. Though the way in which it ended was distasteful. One just started puking his guts out when catching a punch full on in the stomach, and the other –spotting his chance to finish his opponent-- slipped over what appeared to be half-processed gruel. The man fell over backwards and hit his head on the edge of a table. There was no blood, luckily, but the man would not wake up without pain, that much was certain. The one left standing was as defeated as the other guy, only he was on hands and knees, groaning as his eyes and nose leaked fluids, and his abdomen kept pushing out more and more past meals with irregular intervals.

A big mess indeed.

Needless to say, both troublemakers were swiftly removed from the tavern, and the personnel quickly set out to clean the floor. They were almost done when a new face walked into the tavern, a rather tall woman in not so female clothing. She went to the barkeep first, getting a mug of beer, only to turn in Yana's direction and start signing at her. It was a surprise for sure, the Yludih did not recall meeting the woman at all... The quick string of sign language did jog her memory though, or rather, she remembered the events, but not the woman. Had it been this person? Possibly. Did it matter? No.

Nevertheless, it was not every trial she could use sign language, and since practice made perfect, Yana invited the woman over to her seat. While the false Eídisi had no idea what the woman wanted from her, she knew what she herself desired, and it was nothing more than an opportunity to gain something from this visit to the tavern. A practice session in Common Sign would do nicely.

The woman took her up on her offer, promptly coming over and plopping down in a chair, starting to inform Yana of the reason of her attempt at drawing the Yludih's attention. The meaning of her words was hidden between the lines, but it was there to see for those that cared to look deeper. The woman wanted a bodyguard, but she did not want to pay. The first part was obvious, seeing as this Yrmellin Cole had blatantly stated she did not want to go alone. The latter part was a bit more subtle. I was wondering if you had a reason to go there. Maybe we could go together. Not: I can pay. Yana wasn't sure why she would need the woman to venture into Waterstreet... well, apart from the fact that it wasn't exactly a good idea to go in alone if you weren't a 'regular'. It's dangerous to go alone, eh? Well, why not? It was a zone where the Hand barely came, if at all. A lawless bubble within Andaris. It might be favorable to have scouted the place, it might come in handy in the future.

Yana nodded twice, her hands moving to sign her answer. ”My name is Seari LaChasse. Very well. I will go with you.” It wasn't all that fast as fluent “speakers” were, and she had to think every so often to remember what sign meant what. Sometimes she forgot how to sign what she wanted to say, and had to work around it to craft a string of signs with the same general meaning, but worded differently. Just like one would in a spoken foreign language. Already this endeavor was proving to be worthwhile. ”When is it you want to go? Now? Later? Why do you want to go to Waterstreet?”

Last edited by Yanahalqah on Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:46 pm, edited 3 times in total. word count: 1017
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While the blue woman spoke, Yrmellyn watched her with an interest that went beyond the need of a companion and bodyguard. Ever since they had first met, early in Vhalar last arc, this blue face had fascinated the painter. The mercenary had joined forces with the brave but one handed young knight, Aeon, and this had saved their lives. Yrmellyn herself was a lousy fighter. Combat wasn't her forte and would likely never be, but she had no problems admitting it. Instead it made her put great value on those who were able to handle weapons and defend her (and themselves). In her childhood in Rharne she had always been dependent on others to keep her safe. It had been instilled in her that the only thing poor people had were other people, and mutual support was what made them all live another day. Services and favors were their currency. Yrmellyn had trusted many a dangerous fighter without investigating their morals. Life was important. Anybody who was able to keep her safe and alive was a good person, and she didn't look a gift horse in the mouth. The blue mercenary had impressed her. Perhaps this had added to the admiration Yrmellyn felt, but mostly it was due to art. The eídisi struck her as a particularly interesting object trouvé. There was a cold and alien beauty in that face, an otherness that enthralled the painter and made her creativity surge.

The eídisi sat among the rowdy people who frequented the tavern like a valuable a blue gem in dull gravel. The painter wasn't able to not notice. In her thoughts she promised herself that one day she would paint the mercenary, whether it would be with a live motive or based on her memory. But this wasn't the time and place to broach it, no matter how tempted she was.

"Saeri LaChasse" she repeated.

Yrmellyn moved her free hand in sign langauge again and answered the question as soundlessly as it had been asked. Her skill at common sign language wasn't impressive, but she compensated for this by keeping it simplistic and clear. She was far from a novice at activites and situations that required caution and the use of sign. In her experience very few signs were needed if in trouble. Sign wasn't the foremost language for philosophical discussions but it was really good for crisp and concise message like "come here", "watch out", "they're coming" or "run". Less was more, most of the times.

But right now it would have come in handy to be better at sign. She had to explain why she wanted to go to Water Street Marketplace. This was somewhat complex and her goal was amittedly shady. Yrmellyn was on the outlook for quick fixed knowledge about alchemy, which could be gained in an efficient way and without having to pay for boring lessons or so. If professor Doran hadn't disappeared she might have tried to learn from him. There was that. But as he seemed to be gone from Rynmere Yrmellyn was going to learn by herself. She quite liked to read and figure out thing on her own. One reason was that she had begun to read books relatively late. The university of the street was the only school she had went to as a child, and she had actually been bad at reading and writing until Arc 706 when Mariuz Arbin in Rharne had taken her on and made a well educated painter mage of the illiterate courtesan.

Yrmellyn had used sign a lot in the past, but only at urchin level. She wasn't good enought at sign to say anything about alchemy, so she signed to the mercenary that she was looking for special information about a certain kind of medicines. Rumor had it there was a couple of foreigners in Water Street who were knowledgeable about this. She wanted to find them and speak with them. Hopefully she would be able to acquire a tome or two at an affordable cost.

Anyways. Services and favors. It could be important to always remember to pay back.

"I owe you. For your help in Vhalar. Whatever your goal for a visit to Water Street may be, I will do what I can to support you in achieving it. I'm not a fighter, but I can be quite resourceful in other ways. And I always pay my debts."
Last edited by Yrmellyn Cole on Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:14 am, edited 2 times in total. word count: 749
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Yana nodded slowly, pondering the hesitant signing of the other woman. She wasn’t sure why Yrmellyn had decided to answer in sign, when it was obvious that her fluency was even less than Yana’s, though did not voice that question. Reading sign was just as important as “speaking” sign, so there really was no point in complaining about it. Besides, there were more pressing matters at hand, more interesting ones as well. The whole “certain kind of medicine” sounded extremely suspicious to her, as did the foreigners she had mentioned. The fact that they were talking about Water Street market possibly made it illegal too, at the least.

Still, it wasn’t a reason to turn it down. As a member of the Hand it was rare to visit the black market, and she knew there were many reports of people going missing there each trial. Not that any had been found. Not one soul during the few searches the Hand had done. No sign of illegal wares either, all hidden away nicely before the Knights arrived. Obviously they had informants and lookouts, making it pointless to even try and bring order to the lawless part of Low Town. Some guards even went as far as to pretend it did not exist. However, perhaps an undercover squire could get a good look… Though it might all be pointless in the end. Either way, it would be irresponsible for her to let Yrmellyn go alone. As a squire she should not let the woman go. Yana could not care less about the fate that awaited the woman if she ventured into the Market by herself, but she did care about her career. If someone did start an investigation regarding Ms. Cole’s disappearance, Yana might just be held responsible. Sure, she might not have sworn the Oath yet, but as a Knight in training it would be a blemish on her record. Maybe even one big enough to halt her ambitions.

”I will remember that,” she signed in response, turning in her chair to reach for the sword she’d placed against the wall. ”Do you have any weapons on you? First impressions are important.” With which Yana meant that to minimize the risk of being targeted by the crooks of Waterstreet, she’d need to look at least capable of defending herself. Preferably capable of kicking ass without breaking a sweat. Yana would have to fit that role though, having to act the part as her Eídisi form certainly did not look it without her uniform. Rayna though? With the eyepatch, the leather armor which was stained and slightly damaged from use, and the swagger in her step? Far better. Well, she’d need to act as Rayna then, though she could only guess at its effectiveness. It would certainly not be enough to keep the both of them safe though. If she let Yrmellyn out of her sight for a bit…

If the painter did not have any weaponry, Yana would give her the dagger she had on her hip and tell her to wear it somewhere visible. It was a simple trick of intimidation, but it usually did work well enough on amateur thieves. The professionals though, they would need more convincing to stay away.

”Can you use a dagger?” Yana then asked, fairly sure it was a redundant question. If she didn’t own a blade, chances she could use one were fairly low. ”I can show you the basics,” she offered, though it was less of a suggestion than it was a condition for tagging along. ”Preparation is necessary before we can go.” Speaking of which… ”If you have finished your drink, we leave. We can’t prepare properly here.” In the barracks however, there was some privacy to be had, as well as Yana’s stuff. There should be a knife or so among her belongings, one she could give the painter instead of her dagger. Now that she thought about it, she’d rather have an extra weapon on hand, just in case.

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"I guess I would be able to use a dagger, but it could be good to test it first..." Yrmellyn agreed that it was best to prepare. She naturally expected the mercenary to act as body guard and protect them both in case they were going to be attacked by some scum in Water Street, but she supposed it wouldn’t hurt to be equipped with a weapon or two herself. It could come in handy. She had no illusions about the kind of place they were going to. Her view on Water Street Market wasn’t romantic at all. It was only the chance at finding a way to learn about alchemy that made her take the risk of going there.

“We will prepare as you find fit,” she said. “You are the expert.”

They left the tavern and headed to the barracks. Yrmellyn had never been there before, but Saeri easily found the way there naturally. Yrmellyn was maybe overly cautious, but she hadn’t wanted to say too much in the tavern, and it was the same now when they were out on the streets. Where there were other people, there were ears. Yrmellyn had often been tasked with being one of those ears in her street urchin days, and the risk for being overheard by the wrong people was real to her. Some would maybe say the criminality in Rynmere was limited to just Water Street, but Yrmellyn took it for granted that there could be information brokers around in all parts of Andaris. People needed money and some were prepared to sell information to criminals. It was possible that she and Saeri and their planned visit in Water Street was completely uninteresting information, but you could never know. For all she knew there could be people who were simply interested in robbery and so would pay a few copper nels for information about potential victims, just get to them before other robbers.

She would tell the eídisi more about her plans when they were alone for real. During the walk to the barracks she took the opportunity to speak about other things: She was a painter, and if it was possible she would like to paint Saeri. (This would be at another occasion of course.) As usual when Yrmellyn spoke about art and painting she went enthusiastic. She hoped Saeri would be pulled in and want to be painted. If it wasn’t so, Yrmellyn would come back another day and try to persuade her.

After a while they arrived at the barracks and soon they were in the room of Saeri LaChasse. As it was in the barracks it was a typical soldier room, and very well organized. When Yrmellyn hastily looked around she could see that there were nothing laying around at random. Efficient order. The hallmark of military people who needed to be ready to go into action at once and so didn’t have time to waste on looking for the things they needed. Oddly it reminded her a bit about the office of professor Thetys which she had visited in Vhalar last arc, but it was less sinister.

The door fell shut.

“I didn’t want to take the risk to be overheard in the tavern or on the street,” she told Saeri. I'm afraid I grew up on the streets in Rharne’s less fashionable parts. At the age when children become scrawny urchins they aren’t so good at begging anymore, because people don’t find them as cute as the smaller ones. The way to make money at that age was to listen around the city for information that might be worth something to somebody, then sell it. I don’t know how it is in Andaris, but perhaps there people who pick up and sell all sorts of information here too. I prefer to be cautious. Anyways ...”

While the eídisi got the things they needed, Yrmellyn explained to Saeri that she was looking for books about a special kind of chemistry. In order to explain her interest in chemistry, she said she hoped to use the knowledge in order to create new kinds of colors for her paintings, which could make her more successful in art and business. It would boost her career. She hoped this would make sense to Saeri and seem like a sufficiently logical reason for why Yrmellyn was prepared to take risks.

The problem, she told Saeri, was that crafters like to keep their secrets in order to get a competitive edge, so it can be very hard to make them share the knowledge except for trusted apprentices, often family members. Sometimes it could be possible to find books or old letters or diaries tough. Yrmellyn wanted to investigate what was available in Water Street Market. Perhaps she will would want to buy something there, perhaps not. So ... she figured they would find an urchin or some other useful person who knew where to go, pay a few copper nels for being shown the way, then make sure to keep the guide in their company so they didn’t rush away to sell information about them and their errands.

The mercenary seemed ready to teach Yrmellyn thing or two about weapons, so the painter stopped speaking and waited for instructions.
Last edited by Yrmellyn Cole on Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 891
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On the way to the barracks, the woman broke into conversation again, telling Yana all about her job, and art, and paint and stuff. The Yludih barely listened, tuning out after a while as soon as she decided it wasn’t all that important. She got the gist of it; the woman was an overly enthusiastic painter. All the other rambling was completely unnecessary and thus subsequently ignored. Nevertheless, Yana did hear Yrmellyn ask to paint her, nearly raising an eyebrow at the request. Wasn’t this supposed to be the other way around? Perhaps the painter had fallen on hard times, not enough vain nobles around wanting their portrait immortalized on canvas. Or maybe she simply wasn’t all that skilled. Maybe both. Yana gave a vague “I’ll think about it” kind of reply, hoping it would be good enough to appease the painter and get her to shut up.

Unfortunately, she didn’t stop speaking. While the subject did stray from art once the both of them had stepped into Yana’s room, the painter then basically rambled off her life story. Granted, the idea of child spies was fascinating and useful, but she really did not need to include all those pointless details. And she had to venture into Waterstreet with this talkative woman? Aelig help her.

Either way, when the woman finally got to the point, Yana went through her weapons stash, frowning slightly as she pondered what to take with her and what to leave. The shield would make her look as if she was expecting to be attacked, which some crooks took as a challenge. It was also quite ornate, and undamaged despite frequent use. It might be targeted by thieves… Her bow she couldn’t take either, because it might make her appear expecting a fight. Nervous too. It wouldn’t be too useful in close quarters either. The special changing sword—

“Special chemistry?” Why did that sound so patronizing? Probably because it was, even if it was not necessarily intended to be. Yana might not have any experience with what the painter was talking about, but she did know that there was chemistry –science—and alchemy –which was more of a magical take on the subject. Alchemy was usually what the laymen pictured when one spoke about chemistry; beakers and tubes, with dangerous fluids with which one thing could be turned into something else. Lead into gold, that sort of thing. Not that it was an entirely accurate description of alchemy either, but still. Special chemistry though? There was no such thing. “I assume you mean alchemy.”

The explanation as to why did make sense. It seemed the painter really had fallen on hard times. That or she was just so absolutely awful at her chosen art that she needed special colors to make her paintings look nice. Maybe she just needed to quit portraits and head into a more… abstract direction. Even if it was bad no one would be able to tell.

All the painter’s blabbering ceased when she noticed Yana was ready to tutor a little, a survival knife in her hand. Turned out she only had one dagger, which she’d rather keep herself. The knife was sharp though, and sturdy, making for a fairly decent makeshift weapon.

“Alright,” she said, handing Yrmellyn the weapon, “I will run you through the basics. This serves two purposes. One is to show hostiles you know your way around a blade. Intimidation. The second is to make sure you can actually wield it, should the need arise.” She waited for a moment before she continued, attaching the sheath of the blade onto Yrmellyn’s hip. “Intimidation is also why you will wear it openly.” This again might attract thieves, but the leather of the sheath was damaged, and the hilt of the knife was old and worn. It wasn’t new in the slightest, which was a good thing. “And keep in mind that if it comes to a fight, you should not show you are afraid. Do your best to keep your face in check. If anything, it will show focus and concentration, which is good.” A focused expression combined with a decent stance would probably be able to fool most people.

“Now, the stance itself.” Yana unsheathed her dagger, assuming a battle stance. Her feet were slightly apart, one before the other, with the weight evenly distributed over both feet. Her knees were slightly bent, and the back foot’s heel was slightly raised off the ground.
“See this?” she spoke, her hand gesturing to her legs. The false Eídisi then realized she’d stopped using sign a while ago, simply out of habit. It didn’t really matter much, seeing as she could express herself better with her voice. For teaching it was crucial to have the student understand what the tutor was saying after all.
“This is a basic stance for movement. Fast movement. Dodging, closing distances,… Your back leg is always ready, like a coiled spring. Ready to launch you wherever you want to.” She paused for a moment, letting the woman mimic her, then swiftly though gently altering Yrmellyn’s stance so it was not just a cheap copy, but a good, solid stance.

“Next is the torso,” she continued, once more taking the stance, now adding her arms to the mix. The empty hand was held at head height, fingers relaxed. The one clutching the dagger was close to her stomach, ready to strike. “Now your empty hand is to defend yourself. You use it to grab the enemy, or to push their knife arm away from your body.” She demonstrated briefly, letting Yrmellyn experience what she meant. “This way the knife of the enemy is past your body, and you are within range. Then you attack.” She made a swift stabbing motion, poking the painter with the hilt of her blade. “In the stomach. Painful. Slow death if lethal. But it is best to go for the neck if you want to kill them outright. Or if that is too drastic, stab them in their shoulder. Render them unable to fight. ”

With that, the little demonstration was over, and Yana took her distance again.
“Since you are a novice, I think it is best you stick to defending. Let them make the first move. If you try to, they will capitalize on your mistakes and you will be done for.” She made it sound almost casual, trivial even. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time someone had been given a confidence boost by the weapon in their hand, and paid for it. She adjusted the painter’s arms as well, and then told her they were going to practice for a bit. It would allow the painter to get the hang of it, or at least give her the feel of how it was supposed to.

***

When Yana was finally somewhat satisfied with Yrmellyn’s progress, the pair of them left the room again, with the Yludih giving the painter some more advice. Don’t look around nervously, don’t show fear. Act confident, as if you walked through streets like these every trial. Act as if you were supposed to be here. However, don’t act too confident, or people would think you arrogant and would come pick a fight. Also don’t put extra swagger in your walk, it would just look ridiculous. Don’t try to talk in their lingo, if they even had a lingo, etc… There were quite a few things to be honest, and Yana felt she was just going on and on and on… She did shut up though, when someone crossed their path, eying them with slight suspicion. Had they heard what they were talking about? Did it matter? They did look friendly enough, but that did not mean anything, even in the barracks.

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Yrmellyn noticed that Saeri LaChasse seemed like a taciturn personality. The eídisi barely answered. Conversation didn't seem to be her strong suit, or perhaps she was one of those people who even disliked to speak with others. This didn't bother Yrmellyn. When Saeri said she would think about getting her portrait painted Yrmellyn nodded and made a mental note to come back about it later.

She watched Saeri go through her weapons stash and pondered which weapons to choose. There was an ornate shield Yrmellyn found interesting from an artistic point of view and in her opinion it would have added greatly to the visual impression of their attire, but Seari didn't pick it. There were more weapons but, Yrmellyn stopped thinking of them when Saeri mentioned alchemy.

"I suppose so" she admitted. "Although I have been told that alchemy is a special branch of the science of chemistry."

Yrmellyn was on the verge of asking Saeri what she knew about alchemy, but postponed the question as Saeri was now ready, and held a knife in her hand. The knife looked sharp, sturdy and dangerous. The painter focused her attention on the lesson and made sure to learn as much as she could. She learnt that the knife served two purposes. The first purpose was to show potential attackers that she knew how to use a blade, in order to intimidate them and deter them from attacking. She learnt that this was the reason she was going to wear the knife openly, and that the battered sheath and the worn hilt of the knife would give add to the impression of knowing how to use it. This seemed like sound reasoning and was easy to accept. The second purpose was to use the knife if needed ... this seemed more complicated. She stood still while the sheath of the blade was attached onto her hip. She learnt that this too was partly about acting. She mustn't show fear, and she must keep her face in check and allow it to show focus and concentration.

"So, I wear the knife openly in order to make hostile people believe that I'm dangerous to attack, and the old and damaged looks of the weapon can make it look like I have used it many times before and come out as the winner. And if it comes to a fight I act fearless and focused. It's partly about acting and making people believe."

She did as Saeri told her and took the stance she was showed, her feet slightly apart, one before the other, and with the weight evenly distributed over both feet. She followed the instruction to bend her knees slightly and raised the back foot's heel slightly off the ground. It was new to her that this was the basic stance for movement in combat, but well, she learnt it now. The stance made for fast movement, as the back leg was always ready to be used similar to a coiled string that could launch her in whichever direction she wanted to move, dodge, close the distance to an adversary.

Yrmellyn repeated the instructions aloud in order to make sure she had understood them right. Then she mimicked Saeri LaChasse as well as she was able, and gratefully accepted the mercenary’s support to get it right. At the end of this part of the training, Yrmellyn felt the memory of the right stance and the movements had started to settle in her body. She thought she would be able to remember and repeat it in case it would be needed, though she feared she might botch up...but she would at least be able to try to defend herself against attackers who weren’t too skilled.

They weren’t done! Instead it became more complicated. Saeri showed Yrmellyn how to use her torso and her arms in coordination with the basic stance. The painter repeated all instructions aloud, and mimicked the mercenary again. She held her empty hand at head height, and relaxed her fingers like she was told to do. Her right hand, in which she held the knife, she held close to her stomach, ready to strike. Saeri told her to use the empty left hand to defend herself, and Yrmellyn learnt that the trick was to grab the enemy and try to push their knife arm away from her own body. Saeri let her try it, and Yrmellyn got an experience of what it meant in practice.

The end of the lesson wasn’t pleasant, because this was about how to kill. Yrmellyn learnt that while keeping the knife of the enemy past her own body, she was meant to get within range and attack. When Saeri showed what she meant and made a swift stabbing motion, poking Yrmellyn with the hilt of her blade she nearly screamed, but managed to suppress the reaction. The painter wanted to cope in Water Street, but she hope to avoid needing to kill people, to be honest. She didn’t say so to Saeri, but just repeated that hitting people in the stomach would cause great pain and a slow potential death, but for a quick kill if was best to go for the neck. She liked the last part of the instructions best. “Or I can stab them in their shoulder and render them unable to fight.” She was relieve to be told it was best for her to stick to defending. No doubt Seari was right in her belief that the painter would just make mistakes if she would attack.

They practiced for a while and repeated everything, until Yrmellyn was as “experienced” as it was possible for an absolute beginner to become after one first lesson in fighting with a knife. She seemed to have a good teacher in Saeri though. She followed the mercenary out from the room, still listening and learning a few more essential things. She memorized the advice so she would now how to behave. Not look around nervously, not show fear and act confident, as if she walked through streets like these every trial. Act as if she was supposed to be here. However, don’t act too confident, or people would think her arrogant and would come and pick a fight. Also, no extra swagger in her walk, as it would just look ridiculous. In addition, don’t try to talk in their lingo, if they even had a lingo.
Yrmellyn repeated everything and confirmed that it was understood.

Someone crossed their path all of a sudden. A soldier ... unsurprisingly, as this was the barracks.

Saeri stopped talking, like she didn’t want her colleague to overhear them. The soldier looked friendly enough though. He was just a guy who had bought a new weapon and was selling a used pistol crossbow, somewhat battered, but fully functional and reliable. Yrmellyn looked that the small weapon, and was immediately told that it was very easy to use, even for a beginner, and she could test it if she liked. The price was only 7 gold and five silver, as it wasn’t a new weapon. Well ... if Saeri objected, Yrmellyn didn’t notice it. She quite liked the idea of a ranged weapon that was easy to use, so she went ahead and tested the pistol crossbow. After having been shown how to do, she put the arrow - the small bolt, actually - in position. Then she aimed at wooden doorframe with a small damaged spot the soldier told her to shoot at.

Yrmellyn Cole was an absolute beginner at crossbows. She was far from a beginner at aiming though. As a painter she watched and aimed all the time. She was experienced in how to visualize a detail and put the brush down on the exactly right spot on the canvas. Now she used her painter’s gaze to focus on that spot on the doorframe. In addition she even attuned to the spot, cautiously, getting in touch with it mentally, as much as it was possible to get in touch with a doorframe. She did like this sometimes when she painted, and established what she thought of as an invisible “line” between her gaze and target, and trusted in her hand to follow. It was a quick and easy thing for a competent painter like her to do.

Then she shot.

Bull’s eye.

The easiness to use pistol crossbow, in combination with Yrmellyn’s ability to aim, was a surprisingly effective combination. Content with the result she turned to the soldier and said she would buy the weapon, but she was met by protestations about how it wasn’t for sale after all, not for somebody as skilled as herself, it was an insult and ... the solider babbled, but Yrmellyn took it as just playacting in order to try to up the price. She shook her head and smiled, and handed over the 7 gold and 5 silver nels. Then she tucked the small crossbow and the remaining bolts inside her jacket. The seller shrugged and went away, saying something about being in a hurry. Yrmellyn walked over to the doorframe, pulled out the bolt she had used for the test and added it to the others.

This done, Yrmellyn and Saeri went out from the barracks and headed to Water Street Market.

Ledger: Pistol Crossbow - 7gn 5sn
Last edited by Yrmellyn Cole on Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:23 pm, edited 4 times in total. word count: 1574
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The soldier was short, dark of skin and full of beard. The whites of his eyes and the gleaming teeth he showed when he smiled stood out against his otherwise colored complexion. He said nothing of what Yana and Yrmellyn had been discussing, but it was obvious he had overheard part of what they had been saying. Why else was he trying to sell them a weapon? Perhaps he asked everyone that crossed his path, but the Yludih found it unlikely. Besides, she found his smiles too easy, and his voice too smooth. A merchant in soldier’s hauberk. Yana waved off his offer instantly, not needing another weapon, but the painter did not. The false Eídisi did not object though, as she could not care less what the painter spent her money on. The weapon was small enough to be concealed too, so it wouldn’t be too conspicuous.

Perhaps it was a good buy too; the painter certainly did seem able to use it. The Yludih had no idea if this was a fluke or not, but Yrmellyn seemed to be fairly content with her ability, and bought the weapon along with some bolts. Well, it was good to know that she could defend herself with it. It meant Yana wouldn’t have to keep her in her sight the whole time. In the meantime, the knight walked off after making some excuse, gleefully tucking his coin away. The Yludih hoped the man had just been a conman, and not something else; there was something about him that made her alarm bells ring out. Still, it was probably just her imagination, and soon enough the two of them were headed for the Waterstreet Market.

***

The exact location of the market was no mystery. Children in Andaris were taught and warned not to go there, with tall tales about slavers, abductors, and rape to make sure they listened. There was a classic tale about a young boy who hadn’t though, and who was turned into a donkey by an alchemical concoction, and sold back to his unknowing family to plow their farmland. While the urban legend probably wasn’t true, the other often used tales unfortunately were. Everyone knew where it was, but no-one in their right mind dared to enter. Unless they belonged to the underworld society, or were a painter and soldier duo. Admittedly though, the latter two possibly weren’t provided with a healthy dose of common sense.

The duo descended down into the earth, using the tunnel that functioned as the entranceway to the infamous marketplace. It was shrouded in near darkness, only every so often a lamp on the wall casted a bright circle of light. What Yana found the most remarkable, except for the surprising cleanness of the tunnel. There were no beggars sitting around, unlike in Lowtown, and the floor wasn’t a road made out of sand and gravel. It wasn’t a long walk though, and soon enough the duo found themselves in a larger space; the Waterstreet Market.

It was dimly lit, with lanterns hanging on the walls and from the ceiling. It was oddly crowded, all kinds of dodgy looking individuals traversing the cluttered underground street. It had been a water duct once, which explained the thin layer of water covering the stone floor, as well as the never-ending splashing noise created by walking around. There were shacks crammed against the walls, appearing to have been made out of spare materials. They reached towards the ceiling, looking unstable and unsafe. The ground floors apparently housed shops, and many more market stalls were strewn across the available space of the Market itself.

“This is it, Waterstreet. The most wretched place of scum and villainy to be found in Rynmere.” She nearly added “except for the meeting rooms of nobility”, but decided that, no, those people weren’t as bad as these crooks. They were scum, yes, greedy, pompous scum, but not wretched. Quite the opposite in fact. This place though… it was even worse than she had imagined. However, she could not deny that it did have a rough kind of charm. And that made it dangerous.
“You still want to go?” She sought merely confirmation, not really thinking the painter would change her mind. “Right then. Remember what I told you. Do not allow yourself to be separated from me. I will sign you if I feel like we should move on.” With which she meant unsavory types might be preying on them for whatever reason. “Lead the way.”
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Yrmellyn nodded. She hadn’t changed her mind.

Water Street was new to her, but due to her childhood in the slum of Rharne she wasn’t new to the kind of dangerous city areas where criminals can seem to rule supreme like in a realm of their own. She knew it was essential to step carefully, speak carefully, and be cautious. It was no place for rash action.

A young boy was leaning against the wall nearby. His uninterested gaze skipped over them like they were of no interest to him, and his facial expression was a mix of indifference and innocence. Yrmellyn wasn’t fooled. She found it probable that the boy was a “whistleblower”. A “whistleblower” would typically hang around near the entrance of a shady district, and study the newcomers who entered. Yrmellyn knew she and Saeri LaChasse was right now being assessed in terms of how profitable it could be to cheat them or rob them, their potential value as slaves, perhaps also their potential combat prowess of the kid knew how to assess it. As soon as the two women continue into the market area, the boy would run to whoever he thought would pay best for his information, if he wasn’t permanently working for someone special.

She also knew that the loyalties of a “whistleblower” is as unstable as the weather in early Ashan and the best way to avoid getting tattled on was to employ the boy herself, and keep him by her side with money and promises. It would be easier for the kid to profit directly on herself and Saeri, as there was no guarantee for getting paid if he went to others and they didn’t find the prospect interesting enough. It was better to be a “guide” than to be a “whistleblower”. And as a visitor in Water Street it could be better to speak with only one single “helper” in order to keep things secret. The fewer who knew what she was looking for, the better. She was going to make good use of that boy.

Yrmellyn didn’t say anything about her plan to Saeri LaChasse. Water Street wasn’t a place where it was smart to babble. She just pulled out a silver from the pocket of her cloak and “dropped” it discreetly when they passed by the boy. In the corner of her eye she saw him lean off of the wall and squat, like he was drop dead tired, and standing up was too much to demand of him. Yrmellyn knew he was discreetly picking up the coin, and waiting for them to leave so he could run and tell on them. This was when she shook her head and mumbled something about “wrong direction”, turned half around and “dropped” one more silver, right in front of the boy. No reaction. She “dropped” third silver. The kid met her gaze. Yrmellyn let a smile show in her eyes, but only in her eyes, as she “dropped” a fourth silver. Next, she put the tip of her boot on the coins in order to conceal them so nobody else would see anything. She looked at Saeri LaChasse like she hadn’t noticed the boy.

“I wish we could find a guide.”

She spoke in casual tone and in so low voice that it was unlikely that anybody else than the three of them heard it.

“Maybe I can help you, lady.” The boys voice was low too, not much more than a whisper.

“Oh ...” Yrmellyn acted surprised, and turned her head slightly like she was searching for the one who had spoken to her, and then she turned her gaze downwards again, moved her boot away from the coins and discreetly dropped a fifth silver. “Well, that would be nice of you, my boy” she said.

Back in Rharne she had always liked when they called her “my girl”, because she had been nobody’s girl, and even a false feeling of belonging with a stranger for the duration of a guiding was better than to not belong at all. They had played her, the people who paid her, and now she played the boy the same way. There was more than coin that could buy the temporary loyalty of a child. She couldn’t know if he was a stray or not, but it was worth a try.

The boy managed to gather the silver nels without being obvious. He got to his feet, and looked at her, waiting for her to tell him what she wanted. Yrmellyn let the smile show in her eyes again. It wasn’t hard. He reminded her of her past self, and it made her like him. He was a scrawny being, looked eleven, and his voice was still light.

“I’m looking to buy some interesting books. Books about science. Can you guide us to somebody who has this kind of books for sale?”

“Books?”

For a moment the kid looked nonplussed, but then he told her that it could be possible to find books in various places around the market. There were for example books about the stars and rumor had it those could be used to foretell the future, but it demanded complicated calculations. The star books were sold at Granny Anne’s, and there were a lot of other really odd books for sale too, some of them illustrated with wondrous pictures in many colors ... though Granny Anne didn’t like when people browsed her books just to look at the pictures. Speaking of which, there were also books about how to make pictures.

For now this seemed to be the only information she had, so Yrmellyn decided that some information is better than no information. She would go to “Granny Anne’s” and find out what they had to offer.

“I make pictures sometimes” she told the boy. She hadn’t missed the wistful tone in the boy’s voice when he spoke about the illuminated books. “We will go to ... grannies, was it ... if you guide us and stay with us you will get fair pay my boy, because I was once a guide, like you. I know what it means. Stay loyal if you can. Think twice. Don’t sell us out too cheaply, and so miss out on a bigger profit.” She made a small movement with her head, indicating that it was time to move on. “Let’s go.”

The boy’s eyes widened a bit, but he said nothing more. Silently he guided them to the chaos of books named “Granny Anne’s Antiquarian Bookshop”, in the ground floor of a shabby shack. Books were crammed in everywhere in the available space. There was a smell of dust, old paper, mildew and wine in the air. When Yrmellyn saw the totally stuffed and overloaded shelves and the many piles of books rising like small towers from the low stools they were placed on, her feelings were mixed. There was a lot of books here, for sure, but were they the right kind of books? She was looking for books about the science of alchemy, but she couldn’t know if there were any, and even if there were, finding them in this anthill of books could be like searching for a needle in hay.

A somewhat disheveled woman of uncertain age sat among the books. She was dressed in what looked like it at least partly had been scholar clothes, and held a cup of wine in her left hand. The right hand held a bottle. The woman, if she was “Granny Anne” didn’t look like she was anybody’s granny, not any more than her own “Auntie Vilda” had been anybody’s aunt. Well. With this kind of name, in a district like Water Street, what else could one expect? The signs were bad. Yrmellyn didn’t doubt that the proprietor could be as hard to deal with as her disorganized mountain of written knowledge. She sighed inwardly, but they were here now, and Yrmellyn wouldn’t leave without giving it a try.

Oh, if just the serious professor Doran Thetys had still been in Rynmere she would never have embarked on this expedition to what looked like a librarian's worst nightmare! She didn’t blame the man for it of course, as she was well aware that she had been away too, and missed out on the alchemy he had said he would show her. But she couldn’t help thinking of the contrast between the well organized and elegant professor and the chaotic and shabby business owner who was staring at her over the rim of a cup of cheap wine.

“Come, my boy. You can help me hold the books” she told the guide boy. It would hopefully keep him under control and prevent him from sneaking away.

“I’m going to check out the wares” she said to Saeri LaChasse. She waited for the eídisi's approval though. It was best to make sure the body guard found it okay.
Last edited by Yrmellyn Cole on Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:39 pm, edited 3 times in total. word count: 1522
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The painter nodded, determined to see her goal fulfilled. Yana did not argue, the other woman knew the risks. She had been warned, been given advice as well as a brief combat lesson; they were prepared as well as they could be in one trial. The painter entered the louche street, and the false Eídisi followed in her wake for a couple steps before falling in stride alongside the woman.

Waterstreet was not a pleasant surprise in any terms, but especially on the aesthetic and odor front there was room for enormous improvements. It reeked of sweaty, unwashed people –which she was quite used to—mixed with rotting excrements. If she had to make a guess, she would say that all waste was gathered in one spot in a secluded area of the waterway, though where was unclear. Her face twisted for a moment as she turned her nose up at the smell, but that was the extent of her reaction. Still, she couldn’t fathom how one could live in such conditions. Sure, she could imagine people got used to the smell, but surely an odor as toe-curling as this could not be blocked out completely?

Yana heard something splatter down in the layer of dirty water they were walking in, but did not pay too much attention to it. Yrmellyn would react if it was something of importance. The Eídisi had positioned the painter on her blind side, so she could take the role of her dead eye. Not only that, but if things got worse, the woman would also be a meat shield. Should anything happen outside her sight, the painter occupying her blind spot would give her a few extra moments to react. Perhaps it was not a very nice thing to do, but the Yludih wasn’t a very nice person overall. Besides, she wasn’t getting paid for this, and her own life always was the top priority.

The painter’s position also meant that the false Eídisi could scan the left side without having to worry about the right, which would mean she’d miss less of what happened in her field of vision. It was necessary too, as she did not want to come off as nervous or on edge by turning her head to stare in all directions. That her white eyes did not allow anyone to see what she was focusing on was a huge boon as well.

It gave her a bit of a chill when the painter mumbled something and turned around for a moment, mostly because her extra pair of eyes was now gone, even for just a moment. She did not show it though, instead giving a very nondescript nod, and proceed to wait for a brief while with a something that could be taken as a blank or bored expression on her face. It wasn’t hard to act the part, as it was very much her standard expression. It was now fairly obvious to her what the painter was attempting to do; this boy had to be one of the informants the painter had mentioned. Having one such as those as their guide would indeed help their cause a great deal, but the Yludih found he was being heavily overpaid. Yana wasn’t too sure if the boy really would be given such an amount of money for selling them out, or if he was just waiting to see just how much the painter was willing to pay him. She guessed the latter. The false Eídisi would never have paid a mere child more than a couple coppers if she were one of the crooks in this place. A few coppers were plenty for such a replaceable urchin. Plenty of those around, she assumed. Which was the root of what was worrying her; if there was one such child, there ought to be more. And no-one was preventing those from running to their benefactors to report on the strangers that had entered the market.

Which meant they would have to move quickly, or put on an act the Theatre would be drooling over. Neither were without flaw, but Yana doubted they would be able to find anything if they rushed along.

The guide proved his worth already within a thrill after having been bought, giving them a lead on questionable bookshops with even more questionable owners. The boy blabbered a bit too much for the Yludih’s tastes, and thus could not approve more when the painter attempted to forge a bond by sharing her history as a urchin lookout with the child. Their history was not the only thing they had in common; both liked pictures, and both babbled way too much. Truly the two of them were cut from the same cloth.
“I think the boy already knows how to swindle people out of their money,” Yana muttered as the painter gave the boy some life lessons. “Also, it is not ‘don’t sell us out cheaply’, it is ‘do not sell us out, period’.” She knew what the painter was doing though, thinking that some contrast might help him to like the painter a lot more.

They trio arrived at Granny Anne’s soon enough, and if Yana was appalled at the sight of such a ramshackle hut housing valuable books, which were just everywhere, she did not show it. But she was nonetheless. Not one book seemed to be in better state than “stubbornly refusing to fall apart”. By Yvithia’s reading glasses, this was no place for tomes! Her father would have had a heart attack if he’d been here in Yana’s stead. Nearly all books had dog ears, some looked as if they’d been drowned, and others had binding that was about to snap. These tomes, Yana decided, were not getting any love here.

“I will browse as well,” the Yludih said. Near the window which gave a view of the market. She sighed deeply as she opened a red leather cover, finding the pages within crumpled at the top and bottom due to the paper drying after having been wet. Some pages had ink that had smudged due to the damage, rendering it unreadable in spots. It might have only been a collection of poems, but not even such books deserved a fate like this. "I would be surprised if we found anything here that is in semi-decent shape," she murmured under her breath, running her fingers gently over the red leather as she returned the book back to its spot.
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