Damned to the Depths
A Pirate Roleplay
He was simply glad it hadn't rained tonight.
A cat scurried out of the way, trampling across a forgotten corpse that Markus avoided, not wishing to catch disease in this Gods forsaken alleyway. Flies buzzed and a few bumped into him, continually flying as if he never was. Markus swatted at them and kept moving. He usually enjoyed watching the sunset at the docks, taking a small measure of comfort that despite his poverty, he at least had a good view of something most people on the continent couldn't appreciate with the lush forests and mountains in their way. But tonight, he was nowhere near the docks. The smoke billowing out of Calaverd had already blotted out much of the setting sun, and his growling stomach compelled him to go see if there was any possibility of snatching food or coin from some of the more esteemed members of society this night.
The streets were dimly lit by the occasional torch or lantern, but they were empty save for stray animals and wandering fools. He didn't know which category he would put himself in. The steep and beautifully carved cobblestone streets had once been something to marvel at, as would be the warm colored architecture of the buildings, if not for the recent months of duress in the city, the streets and buildings now caked in burns and grime. He had only been here for part of it, but the Lady Calliope had certainly made a mess of things from what he had heard dockside. It wasn't his business, his only real concern looking for work. He had managed to scrounge some coins dueling in the streets, but quickly his funds had left him.
Now he followed the scent of sweat and smoke, making his way down the lesser known paths only criminals used. He should have guessed that he would not be the only one traversing the back alleys, turning a corner to come face to face with two burly men who were standing over a bloodied corpse. He did not need to guess what had happened. One of the men held a dripping knife, and both had the look of killers. They both turned as soon as they saw Markus shadow.
"Oi, what do we got ourselves here?" One of them said, grinning. He had merely half of his teeth left, judging by the look of it. The other turned as well, speaking up. "You look like a lad of means. Want to share some o' that love, eh?"
"I'm going to the Palace, same as you." Markus replied, hand on his sword hilt.
"Fancy blade ye got there. Mind if we takes a looks at it?" The first one offered, stepping forward. Markus should have guessed. Even with the idle threat of his blade being drawn, these men were far too cruel as desperate to care. One drew a shoddy looking arming sword, and the other with the knife reached into his back pocket and produced an long knife. Markus stepped back and drew his blade, warily backing up until he had the room to maneuver. Meanwhile the thugs got on either side of them. They didn't even need to signal one another. Markus guessed they had been killing together for a long time. They only needed their eyes to mark their attack.
The first thug attacked Markus with a thrust of his arming sword. The privateer parried the blow, and sidestepped the attack he knew to be coming from his flank, turning, sword leading. The man with the daggers, so confident in victory, was suddenly slashed across the face, cold steel biting into his eyes and the bridge of his nose as his visage was split in half. He stumbled into his partner, suddenly dropping the daggers.
"My eyes! My eyes!" he screamed in horror. His hamstrings were cut next, and he fell to the ground. The one that had been tackled by his comrade had stumbled and nearly tripped. Markus didn't give him time to react, stepping on the fallen man for support and taking the remaining man in the stomach, spilling entrails. It occurred to Markus that guts on the street did not even lower the usual quality of the back alleys.
"Please!" the eyeless man begged, unable to see what was happening but hearing the death groans of his friend. "Please. W-we was just funnin'!"
Markus shoved his backsword into the man's neck, silencing his pleas in a gurgle of blood and pulling the blade out slowly so as not to scratch the edge on any jutting bone. In the distance he heard shouts, though it was from the mob no doubt. He didn't feel as if he would be accused of a crime unless there was someone with a vendetta against him. Still, he shouldn't linger. With a swift cleaning of his blade one of the men's shirts, he sheathed it and moved on, making it to the edge of the alley and peering out into the street, where a crowd of torch wielders stood. Many also carried cutlasses, axes, and boarding pikes. They raved up at the palace and tore at the meager walls with a Godless fury. He would find no riches that way.
He stopped for a moment, recalling something he'd found in his wanderings. A sewer he had seen and even gone into a fortnight ago, where criminals sometimes congregated. He has forgotten how close they were to the Palace. Perhaps...
He moved swiftly, black hair whipping as he turned and gauged his current location more than once, making his way past the crowd twice and a feral looking hound gnawing on what he believed to be a human bone, before finding the sewers. It was a low inlet that fed into a hole just big enough to duck into. Grabbing the ledge that dropped down, he hopped into the ankle deep water, and then gazed into the hole.
"What?" he mouthed, as he suddenly saw...light within. He had never been here at the dead of night, he realized. He would not have seen it any other time of day. Gingerly, he began to move, climbing down the hole, the sewage along the metal sticking to his hands, but he had gotten used to such grime years ago. He plopped into the water, still quite shallow, and moved slowly, his dark features and ruddy clothing keeping him concealed in the darkness.
He began to hear noises. A woman speaking and men laughing, until screams and yells were heard, along with the hooting of multiple voices that he saw to be criminals when he turned the corner, and a...woman being strangled. It had to be a woman, as he could see her figure even under the thick clothing. There were torn bodies beside her, and strong hands gripping her neck as she feebly grasped, trying to ply the fingers off.
Something in him began to tear at his mind. Some long ago remnant of his life on the mainland. An old call to chivalry perhaps? Maybe he wished to wash some of the blood off of his ledger. Or maybe he simply wanted to maim the criminal behind the bars. But he uttered a single word, and in a flick of an instant, he was out of the water and on solid ground, a mere few paces away from the woman who seemed to be weakening in her struggles.
The criminal inside the cell didn't see Markus until his backsword was already cleaving through his forearms, hacking them to the bone and soaking the stone floor in his blood. He screamed bloodily, his cries echoing off the dungeon walls, cries that turned to wrathful whimpers. Markus kept the woman from hitting the floor with her nose, her hat falling off to reveal a beautiful face and long dark hair. She gasped for air audibly.
"Are you ok?" He asked, her, patting her back. He kept a hand on his rondel dagger, as he had seen many woman play the damsel in distress before attacking unexpectedly. "Why are you here?"
"You!" a strong voice intoned. It sounded to Markus like a portcullis shutting...
The Blademage turned and saw a warrior clad in mail, hair golden with silver streaks, and a throng of peasants with murderous eyes spilling down the stairway. The warrior pointed his sword at Markus and the woman. "We have found Calliope! Kill her and filthy protector!"
Time seemed to slow, and Markus looked down to the woman, and his throat tightened. He did recognize her. He had seen her from afar weeks ago, as she lounged on her balcony and taunted protesters in the streets. He would have perhaps killed her in other circumstances, or at least kidnapped the noble despot and sold her to the highest bidder if he found her alone. But instead he had saved her.
"Blood and guts." he cursed. He cursed himself and this entire city, and realized he had little choice in what to do. He grabbed her hand and pulled her up, yanking her away from the mob that were now hot on their heels. "Come with me if you want to keep breathing!" he shouted at her.