Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Milkman


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Neh’miah He’ron

Location: The Faded Lantern

Neh’miah found himself sitting on a throne on top of a mountain formed out of gold coins while rivers of wine seemed to flow out of the endless sky. Before him lay the endless green meadows filled with scantily dressed women chanting his name as the greatest thief that ever lived. Ofcourse dreams that are too good to be true lead to rude awakenings.

The sound of a heavy fist knocking on a door suddenly filled the pleasant imagery that was captivating the young thiefs mind. For a moment he was looking around for a door only to realize that it was a sound from beyond his drunken slumber. Slowly Neh’miah opened his eyes only to realize that he was back in the real world. A rather modest sleeping accommodation known as the Faded Lantern.

As he pulled himself out of the bed the room spinned around him. Clearly the wine from last night hasn’t left his system yet. Quickly he reached for the bucked in the corner of his room to empty what little contents his stomach still holded after a night of heavy drinking before making his way to the door barely dressed.

As the young thief reached for the doorknob he spoke a little agitated “What’s the ruckus this early in the morning” before staring at the rather large Tork chest at the other side of the door. As his eyes went up Neh’miah realized that Skarsat was standing there and he was supposed to wake up early.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Fetzen
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Quite a bit of a burden fell off Skarsat's heart as it turned out that he would neither have to grant himself access to Neh'miah's room by force nor carry the man around himself. It appeared that the thief was awake and able to walk on his own feet properly. Frankly speaking the Tork was looking forward to that actually happening as soon as possible just to get away from this room. That smell! There was more then just some residual wine to it. Had Neh'miah just emptied himself via his body's front door ?

For a brief moment, Skarsat couldn't help but think at Percival. Not only was the tavern's helping hand, janitor or maybe even darling called 'facility manager' being shoved around my his boss all the time as it seemed, but he'd probably also have to clean up what their party had left behind. The Tork certainly did not want to know how things looked like in some other rooms as there had been plenty more people who had taken a very deep look into the wine glass.

Yet there were more pressing issues at hand right now!

"If you're quick at getting yourself dressed up and ready to go, then would be a good time for a demonstration! There's some person from the city guard down there and he's asked for you specifically! And before you ask: he's not alone."

One could never know what kind of dumb idea people could come up with if they thought the threat was small and could maybe just be worked around by force.

"Is there a second way out you know of ?"

Hopefully it wouldn't be some kind of small-ish, high up window or involve some jumping action from roof to roof. While Skarsat definitely was familiar with physical exercise and such, he was not looking forward to some delicate acrobatics right this morning.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Arkitekt
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Percival had also made haste towards Ne'miah's room and was rounding the corner as Skarsat was bidding his plea for him to open the door. He had been making a parcel for him and the other party members who had not yet shown to breakfast when the sheriff had arrived. He was not known for how well he handled stressful situations and it was beginning to show. Sure, he could take a verbal lashing from Vargas just fine, but this sort of thing usually led to the gallows and he was absolutely terrified of Gerranti, and rightly so. The sheriff was indeed a bad and evil man, all the way down into the very bowels of his soul. He had tightened the noose on many nuisance and all of Guillan knew it because they all had bore witness to it. He was perhaps the most corrupt entity in the entire city, and that was definitely saying something... for there was much competition in rank and file, and that wasn't even counting the common folk either.

"You must hurry!.." he whispered exitedly as he rushed to Skarsat's side, thrusting the parcel into Skarsat's belly. "this is not the time for shenanigans, it is not safe here any longer!"

Percy fumbled for the keys to Ne'miah's room, shaking violently as he did. He finally managed to find the room key as he fished for the keyhole, which he eventually found, but not before making quite the racket. He turned the latch and opened the door to the room and immediately made his way to the window to pull back the curtains to let in some much needed light to help jostle the young thief from his slumber. He also took a moment to look down to the street for any other guards who might be lurking about. He could notice a few towards the left near the square but the alley looked clear, at least from what he could see...

"The entrance to the warehouse is just across the alley down there... you mustn't go through the tavern Ne'miah, if the sheriff spots you we'll all swing from the gallows." Percy said insistantly. "I'm certain of it. Skarsat please shut the door behind you."
He made his way over to the bedside and started digging for the warehouse key so that Ne'miah could get inside. He found it and began to pull it from the ring.

"You've got to get dressed and get out here immediately. Skarsat and I will come down and assist you but you mustn't be found here."

The sheriff nosed up at the mention of more coffee, especially from someone so easy on the eyes. He was indeed a man of simple desires. Unfortunately for Solange the sheriff was well aware of Solange's reputation, for many things. Talk traveled fast in Guillan, and so did praise, where it was due. Talks of wild pleasures circulated well, so did the tales of anguish, and Solange could be found entwined in both. If anything it was a testament to just how enticing she was, for only a fool would coddle the cobra...

"Ah, I could sit here all day..." Gerranti said, locking eyes with Solange directly. "especially in such graced company." Gerranti licked his lips as he looked her over, her supple bosom nearly spilling over dress, and most assuredly on purpose.

"However, I am a very busy man, with ever pressing matters to attend to, and you and I both know that Vargas will most not likely return so long as I sit here in this chair with my men roaming the tavern... no, we've all been patrons to this game many times over." he said as he wiped the corners of his mouth and stood from the booth. "I will take my leave now and not waste any more of anyone's time here, or before my plate gets any more full, as I have much on it already."

Gerranti moved right up onto Solange, practically breathing down her neck. Her perfume toyed with his nostrils, exciting him to no end. All the things he wished to do flooded his mind as it did, and he could almost taste her. He was much taller than she was and he was poised over her in an unsettling manner as he leaned in to whisper in her ear, yet he did not. He inhaled deeply as if to savor the smell of her sweet and succulent perfume mixed with fear... and then he pulled away.

"I would advise none of you to be around when I find this Ne'miah... it would be terrible if you were to get wrapped up in that trouble." he said loudly. His voice echoing through the main tavern floor and balconies.

"I'm not one to make empty threats, and i'm sure you all know it. Come lads, let's be off before I decide to make a mess of things." waving his hand to the other guards to follow him out. "We've made our point."

The guards who were aggravating the other patrons of the tavern stopped harrasing them and made their way to the front and walked out the main entrance to secure the street as Gerranti turned to speak once more before exiting himself.

"I'm sure we'll be seeing you all again... really soon."


Sheriff Gerranti nor his men take the bait on the coffee
1= No, 2= Sheriff takes, 3= Guards take

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Rapid Reader
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"Thomas," Nora said, catching the attention of the young serving boy that Vargas employed as she stroded through the hallways of the Faded Lantern. "Fetch a bucket...no two additional buckets of water. As cold as you can manage."

Nora steeled herself for the imiment confrontation she expected. She couldn't help but feel a small amount of satisfaction at the thought of teaching Y'Vanna yet another lesson. Y'Vanna was a talented enough theif when she was sober, which was seldom, and yet Nora had grown weary of her tirelless depravity.

She put the buckets she carried on the floor with a heavy thud. It would be a waste of water. Foolish were it not for the haste that Vargas and the situation demanded. With a deep sigh, Nora knocked on the door. She waited, frowned, and knocked again. The door creaked open with a slow gnash of wood and one of the establishments resident harlots stood in front of Nora, berfit of anything that could even generously be considered clothing. Nora frowned even more deeply and pushed past the woman without comment, sending the poor harlot stumpling backwards onto the floor.

The smell that assailed her nostrils as she stepped into the room, sent her hands moving in a quick warding motion. The fading whisps of burnt incense could not mask the odor of sweat and alcohol. A cloud of smoke still lingered, a lazy haze that mercifully shielded the young serving boy from the worst of the scene. Discarded bottles and knocked over pitchers seemed to decorate every inch of the room. With a quick flick of her eyes, Nora counted nine debauched revelers tossed across the room like spilled dust. Weighed down with water and vice.
Naked, they lay scattered across the room in a string of sweat covered skin and tousled hair. Nora did not need to use a great deal of her imagination to perceive what had passed in the long, dark hours of the night. The sight and smell that greeted her was enough.

She found Y'Vanna slumped in a corner of the room, dust still covering her nose, and three strangers wrapped around her. Nora clucked her tongue with great disapproval, shaking her head critically from side to side as she guided the serving boy carrying the buckets of water into the room. He had seen worse, much worse, she knew, but still it did not feel completely right to subject a youth to the worst of Y'Vanna's many and uncountable list of sins.

Maréngo lay dead to the world apart from Y'Vanna, a small blessing in Nora's view, snoring on a bed beneath and between two women. It was a small comfort to Nora that he was wearing nothing save a ridiculously large leather hat trimmed with an equally preposterous ostrich feather. A bottle of rum, no doubt empty, was clutched in his left hand and Nora felt certain that she could smell the rum that coursed through his blood from across the room.

Fanning the smoke out of her way as she continued to quietly walk through the room, the desert bandit noted with some concern the fur covered camelid, an alpaca as Vargas had once called it, that stood politely near the window, munching happily on a bowl of vegetables that had been strewn across the floor. Nora could not help but notice that the creature was disinterestedly wearing a most shameful collection of intimate garments around its neck. To her greater sorrow, having long regretted how she had unwilling acquired the knowledge, the Zherpanian could furthermore not help but note that some of the undergarments belonged to Y'Vanna.

Her patience finally reached an end and Nora pointed towards Y'Vanna, nodding to the the serving boy, "Please wake Miss Y'Vanna and her dear friends up, Thomas."

The serving boy shrugged, grinned, and then tossed a bucket of ice cold water over the three dreamers. In the same moment, Nora threw the drapes open with a flash of her hands, her voice firm as she spoke, "Wake up, water drinkers! Wake up drunkards. Out with all of you harlots. Away with you vile beggars. I have water enough to drown all of you and I will not wait to drench you like the rat, Y'Vanna."
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Jarl Coolgruuf
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Jarl Coolgruuf The Mellower

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Maréngo woke with a start as the light slapped him across the face and the mercenary's voice filled his head. He sat bolt upright, disturbing the sleep of his bedfellows in the process, and brandished his empty bottle like a club ready to-- oh merciful gods above his head! He groaned from deep in his hair covered chest and dropped the bottle which rolled off the edge of the bed with a solid thunk that only served to hasten the stragglers. The sailor clutched his poor, throbbing skull with both hands and felt something on his head. His fingers brushed against leather and he took off a hat he'd never seen before in his life.
"What in the Nine Hells?" he asked the empty air, his voice hoarse from too much liquor and too little water.
He tossed the ridiculous thing aside where it hit a camelid he hadn't noticed on the rear. It gave an annoyed snort and moved away out of range of any more thrown objects. Maréngo paused and laughed at the absurdity of it all even as he felt invisible hammers use his forehead as an anvil. His companions from the night before rolled off the bed and onto unsteady legs to hunt for their clothes. The two women awkwardly tried to cover themselves and avoid looking at Nora as they collected their garments. By contrast, Maréngo was wholly unconcerned by wearing nothing more than what the gods had graced him with upon his birth as he tossed the sheets aside and clambered off the mattress.
"Where were you, Nora?" he asked flirtatiously, "I don't remember much but I know you'd have had much more fun with-"
His playful antics were cut short as nausea crashed over him like a rogue wave. There was nothing he could do to stop his dinner from make a reappearance on the floor as he stumbled back and sat down heavily at the edge of the bed. He groaned once more and rubbed his temples. Lord Leathe preserve his poor soul his head felt like a splitting log.

The Zherpanian bandit's lips pursed into a thin, unwelcoming line, and her features shifted into a deep scowl as she looked over the drunken sailor with a look that was at best deeply disappointed.
"I find little pleasure in the arms of drunkards, Maréngo," Nora said with a sneer, gracefully stepping around the food the sailor had freshly regurgitated onto the floor.
Listening to the sputtering sounds and cursing coming from Y'Vanna and her nightly companions, Nora felt a small, distinctly unwelcome urge to be kind. With a gentle wave of her hand, Nora signaled once more to the serving boy who brought a bucket of water to Maréngo without emptying it over him, instead holding it out in front of him. "Wash up, sailor, you stink, and we are late, thanks to you and Y'Vanna."

He mumbled something along the lines of a sarcastic "you're welcome" and took the bucket from Thomas. More than a few mouthfuls of water went down his throat before he dunked his entire head in the brisk water and came up for air a moment later with a gasp. He appeared to be at least somewhat more alert (even if he looked like a drowned rat with his dark hair plastering itself to his face) as he rubbed at his bloodshot eyes. The pounding in his head was still as agonizing as ever but he was with it enough to rinse down the essentials. He was nowhere near clean but now his smell was only mildly unpleasant. Just for good measure he dumped the rest of the water over himself and shivered as the water sucked the heat right out of him. He shielded his eyes from the light as he shook his hair out and set about looking for his pants. A snicker escaped him when he looked over and saw the state of Y'vanna. Oh, that was Y'vanna. He wasn't sure why it surprised him at first, they had similar tastes after all. He caught himself staring at her for more than a bit too long and tore himself away with some effort, trying his hardest not to let the image of her naked form brand itself on his mind.

It wasn't much longer before he was somewhat presentable, if disheveled as can be and looking a bit waterlogged. He feared it would be a permanent look as long as he stayed in this city. There was a series of pops along his spine as he stretched to banish the last of the sleep from his limbs. He made sure his sword belt was tight and patted his cutlass and his rigging knife as if to make sure they wouldn't run off on him.
"Let's be off then. Wouldn't want any of you land larkies drowin' when I had me back turned."
His eyes drifted back over to the camelid which had resumed grazing on the scattered vegetables. He chuckled for a moment and turned to Nora.
"Do you think Vargas would mind if he found our friend here after we leave?" His chuckling gave way to laughter. "Don't worry, I'm sure he has some coin left to pay!"
Speaking of coin, he emptied his coin pouch into his hand and counted three gold coins. He stood perplexed for a moment until it dawned on him that he must have done some gambling he didn't quite remember. Back into the pouch they went and he tied it securely around his belt. For better or worse he was ready to go.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 29 days ago Post by Arkitekt
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A flood of cold water splashed violently over Y'Vanna's face and and body as she lay entwined with several other degenerates on the floor. The sight was to the serving boy's wild amusement, a twisted knot of savory baren flesh, all mangled and now soaked and sopping wet. Then he grinned and gave no warning as he doused them. Oh what dreams were made of, he thought to himself... and what a story for the other lads. He would surely waste no time in boasting about this one, and why not. After all, Y'Vanna was definitely not bad on the eyes to start with. It had always been easy to see that she was quite in shape, her leathers were taut and clinged close to her body, but to see her in the nude was altogether different. Aside from a bit of scarring here and there she was absolutely stunning, and nobody could deny that...
She gasped for air as if she had been drowning, the cold water was quite the rush to the senses. Her body tensed up as she slowly raised her arms in shock of what had just transpired. The other girls shrieked as if they had been hit in the ass with hot pokers and scurried like rats to find shelter. Nora gave them little reason to do much else either, scorning them all the way out the door. Young Thomas couldn't hold his adolescence any longer and gave a good chuckle as they fumbled to find their things, all the while trying to avoid a good thwarting from the sand walker. It was quite the spectacle. Streams of water beaded down Y'Vanna's head and trickled down her barren chest swaying this way or that around the curves of her body, taking the path of least resistance as it found its way to the floor. Unable to speak momentarily, she sat gasping for air in short bursts as the cool water sent shivers along her arms and back causing tiny bumps to form. Then the pain in her forehead began...

"What.. in the actual.. feck... you little shite!" she said as her head yearned to meet the planks below, "gods be damned."

She leaned down for a moment letting the coolness of the floor soothe her forehead for a second before rising back up into a sitting position. It was apparent that she hardly even knew where she was at yet, but it was swiftly coming into focus. Her eyes opened slightly and she could begin to make out the details of the room. Oh, wow... she thought to herself as her eyes scanned the room turned brothel. Must've been some night, if only she could remember any of it. Garments were all over the place, seemingly belonging to no one... the room was wrecked, bottles and amphoras lay discarded everywhere. The air was thick and stifling with the smell of stale alcohol and steamy sweat. Her eyes roamed about until they found the alpaca, which prompted her to snort with wild laughter. Nora was less than pleased.

"Are we going to need another bucket?" Nora said, standing firmly and clearly vexed. She moved to the window and thrust open the drapes, letting a sea of light flood into the room. The rays lit brightly in the smoke filled room. Y'Vanna winced as the light was unbearably bright but she cackled still, unable to control herself. She let out a hearty laugh and fell back on her palms in the floor, her balanced still wavering. Nora was not amused.

"Thomas!" Nora clamored over her shoulder.

"Alright, alright.. calm yerself woman." Y'Vanna thrust an arm out to display her submission. "I'm up."

Y'Vanna took a moment to steady herself as she stood from the floor, her bare body out for everyone to see without a strand of modesty. That had been taken from her a very long time ago, stripped away and never to return. It was of no concern, and why should it be? She was well beyond attractive, despite her attitude... It was at this moment that she noticed Marengo, also bare as a babe and washing up. Her eyes widened and her demeanor changed for a moment. This was embarrassing, which was a relatively new experience for her. She couldn't pull her eyes from him though, he was quite the sailor after all.

"V!" Nora barked again.

Y'Vanna shook herself out of it and turned to find her leathers on the sill, she grabbed them up underneath her arm, her silhouette outlined vibrantly in the morning sun. She raised a brow, realizing that her undergarments were nowhere to be found. She looked about the small bench nook there in the sill with no luck. She turned looked around confusedly.

"Anyone seen my-" Y'Vanna said looking daft.

Nora clears her throat and flicks her wrist, pointing in the general direction of the alpaca and tilting her head in visible disgust. Y'Vanna's lips pursed as her head fell forward in disappointment.

"Right.." she said, throwing her scabbard and belts across her shoulder.

She then walked across the room with as much swagger as she could muster, hips swaying in pure confidence and only stopping briefly to relieve the poor animal of her undergarments before making her way to the door, still very naked. She made sure to make eye contact with Nora on the way out.

"Don't look so grimaced, we'll invite you to the next one." Y'Vanna said as she passed by the now fuming Zherpian. "I'll be down directly, I've got to hit the pisser..." her voice dwindling as she rounded the exit.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Milkman


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Neh’miah He’ron

Location: The Faded Lantern

For a brief moment Neh’miah stared at Skarsat before he realized what was going on. Skarsats words were enough and the rather nervous Percival were just icing on the cake. A great oppertunity had just presented itself.

“so, my buddy Gerranti is in the tavern? That is excellent. That means he’s not out on the street.” Spoke Neh’miah as a rather mischievous smile came around his face.

The young thief was remarkably quick with getting dressed for someone who had just woken up from his drunken slumber and he was also in surprisingly high spirits considering his hangover from last night and the severity of the situation. Maybe it was the adrenaline of getting chased on Neh’miah just enjoyed the danger. But one thing he was certain of, the young thief was going to enjoy getting away from right under Gerranti’s nose.

Quickly Neh’miah grabbed his belongings and made his way to the window. He scanned the allyway for any guards. Apart from the far left the ally was clear. “So down there is the warehouse?” Spoke Neh’miah as he grabbed the key from Percival. “This is going to be a piece of cake” said Neh’miah as he opened the window softly.

Once more he looked around to see if any guards were near or were looking into his direction. When the young thief noticed that the coast was clear, he quickly climbed out of the window and made his way to the ground unnoticed.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Atrophy
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Atrophy Meddlesome Kid

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Solange - The Faded Lantern Tavern & Inn

For fruit to grow, a flowers pollen must be spread.

Solange maintained a polite smile as the Sheriff refused her offer, even though she had already begun to pour the poisoned coffee. It was a shame to have wasted such a special blend, but at least the man was leaving. She thought about making a smart comment about offering the man something more appetizing and a larger plate just to see if she could get him to sit down and drink her brew, but the last man she’d done that to had hit her. Solange ran her tongue along the inside of her cheek where she had bit it and tasted the iron. Sometimes, it was better to let the game end early before a playmate got fussy.

It was difficult not to take a reflexive step back as the Sheriff pulled into her, but working for Fontaine had made her used to overly enthusiastic gentlemen failing to understand boundaries. Yet something told her that the Sheriff would delight in finding her afraid of him. Only two kinds of men would willingly throw away their dignity to represent something as broken as the law in this town: absolute imbeciles and complete monsters. The Sheriff didn’t seem like a total idiot. So Solange fought the urge to stick a blade into the bit of scruff he’d missed near his jugular as the Sheriff sniffed at her like she was a freshly baked blackberry pie. Instead, she took that step back, sharply drew in her breath as he leaned down to her, and put her hand to her chest as if she were in shock while using it to act like a bustier. To top it all off, she turned her head sharply and looked away, stammering out like his patheticness was any bit of a surprise, “S-S-Sheriff!"

The performance was enough to make her own skin crawl, but Solange wondered if the bait would land as he pulled away and started pretending like he was a professional again. If he would be seeing her again real soon, she hoped he’d think that she was afraid of him, that she couldn’t do anything to stop him, and that he’d feel empowered to get close enough for a shave he didn’t want nor wouldn’t see coming but certainly deserved. Still she had to respect him for not trying to make the law sound like anything more than threats. She curtsied as the Sheriff turned and made his exit, watching him navigate the tavern from the balcony, tiny splinters from the bannister pricking under her nails as they bit into the wood, relaxing only once she saw him leave.

She turned and snatched two tainted horns from where she’d left it on the table and stormed down to the common room of the Faded Lantern, the clouds around her parting as her feet touched the landing as she reset her composure. She helped herself behind the bar, one glance shutting down the protest from the morning bartender, and fished out a funnel. Solange found a stool, searched through the secret pockets of her dress for carefully wrapped package of empty vials, and began to undo the padding. She was happy to see that her confrontation with Skartsat left the vials uncracked; he would’ve found glass in his next breakfast otherwise.

Her back to a corner so that she could see the rest of the room, the front door especially, Solange set the funnel in the vial. She began to carefully pour herself a coffee to go, the other horn sitting on the edge of the counter close to her. Steam still rose from the rim, offering a tantalizing aroma of hazelnuts and cinnamon, begging to be consumed before Solange recycled it.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Jarl Coolgruuf
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The pirate made his way downstairs rubbing his head all the while, trying in vain to soothe the pounding ache. What he wouldn't give for a--
"Coffee?" he said like he was seeing a long lost friend for th first time in years.
The delightful scent of spiced coffee drew him in immediately. He made a beeline straight toward Solange and went to grab the source of that welcoming aroma. Some caffeine would surely help him perk up a bit until he could find time to nap off this acursed hangover. If not, at least it would make him feel like he was doing something to reach that goal.

Solange's eyebrows perked up as Maréngo reached for the tainted coffee, her own hand moving to snatch it away.  The schemer inside said that it'd be foolish to let the man drink the coffee for number of reasons, but that bitch never let her have any fun. Besides, it wouldn't kill him, at least according to the notes she read and she was fairly certain she had the ingredients for a remedy if need be. She smiled like a fiend and her eyes shined with delight. Her hand slowed, pushing the drink closer to Maréngo.
"Ms. Sheri brewed this herself, love. It's quite good, actually. I was surprised how the flowery notes cut through the acid. Hopefully it holds well," she said, shaking her own vial. Despite Maréngo's efforts she could still smell the alcohol and last night's company clinging to him. She shifted on her stool and rested her chin in her hand, giving him a winking side eye. "Looks like you had an eventful night. I always heard hangovers on the seas are almost as lethal as a wife who found her husband in bed with her own sister. Hopefully your stomach holds well too, darling."
Her devilish smile gave Maréngo pause as he lifted the horn to his lips. He may not be a learned man but he knew a schemer when he saw one. Clearly she thought honeyed words and a pretty face would win him over. Maybe it would, but he'd be sure to keep an eye on her.

The small talk distracted him from his beverage and he lowered the horn and returned her smile with a smirk of his own.
"Only for the unprepared and I'm more than prepared."
"For hangovers, surely," she said, her eyes glancing down at his untouched drink. "Although I imagine being a man of the sea you're vastly more prepared for this voyage than the rest of us. I've only ever been on a ship once before." She twisted a lock of hair around her finger. "If I ever needed a shoulder to lean on while I secure my sea legs, could I count on yours? I fear the others would not be so kind."
Maréngo hid a frown behind the horn of coffee as he let the pleadently smooth poison wash over his tongue and into his belly.
"Aye, you can but I'm warnin' you now that I'm not just another sap like poor Percy. I was born at night but not last night, understand?"
He took another long sip of coffee and sighed with content. This was just the thing he needed after last night. Perhaps he could pick up some beans to brew on their voyage. Something to warm his belly and warm the crew up to him. As a seaman himself, he knew how far simple luxuries went with men who might spend weeks away from the comforts on dry land.

Solange pretended to be distracted and turned her head as Maréngo took a drink. Her grin was under control when she looked back, as if she was amused by his statement rather than his misfortune. "Clearly, although I got to say that there's more to poor Percy than meets the eye. Who knows, if we make it back from this journey in one piece and you stick around you might find out that the two of you have quite a bit in common." She nodded to the coffee. "It tastes good doesn't it , love? I must find out where Sheri gets her beans."
Maréngo couldn't deny how good the brew was if he wanted to. He nodded and happily sipped his drink really wanting to savor the taste before he committed himself to this voyage. It's the simple pleasure that make life worth living, also the big pleasures. Those were the real reasons he carried on the way he did
"I'll be sure to look for a good batch of beans if we get a chance to stop by the market."
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Rapid Reader
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Swords on her hip, musket slung over back, and with a bag of supplies in hand, Nora appeared in the common room of the Faded Lantern with silent steps. She had been delayed. They had been delayed, but there was still time, and she did not doubt that Vargas had expected some trouble. Y'Vanna was already infamous in the Faded Lantern for her debauchery and no one, least of all Nora, held much hope for the moral fortitude of a roving sailor. Men who spent years on the sea were no doubt poisoned by the salt tinged water and seemed to inevitably fall to all of the many vices offered for a price in the Faded Lantern. Ne'miah's fresh infamy presented new problems, chiefly with the corrupt servants to of the law, still, dealing with the Sheriff was always part of the endless chess game that Vargas said he played.

Approaching the bar, Nora waved a hand dismissively as the bartender reached for a flagon, it was too early to drink, and she had already had her morning coffee in her private quarters. Casting a watchful eye over the room, she spotted Solange and Maréngo. Suspiciously they seemed to be deep in conversation and even getting along. Polite discussion, worrisome as it was, was better than insults, Nora thought, remembering the unfortunate incidents of violence and debauchery that had spoiled the past evening.

"You look restored, sailor," Nora said catching the end of their conversation. She nodded in greeting to her two companions and offered a subtle wave of her hand in the way of the desert people.

"The merchant Salman, is known for the quality of his coffee beans, but I warn you, his prices are not cheap, and the man knows how to haggle. Still, what price is not a good cup of coffee worth?" Nora generously added, deciding that scowling for once was not necessary.
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Fetzen
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Neh'miah's words caused a chill feeling to erupt somewhere down on Skarsat's big spine and to surge upwards right into his head. Spontaneously trying to find someone who might share the same feeling, the Tork turned his head towards Percival and looked the man into the face. Was he really the only one who had an extremely bad feeling about the thief's happy announcement about Gerranti not being on the street being 'excellent' ?

Skarsat's worries would most likely have been tremendously much more intense had either he or Vargas' left hand known that, at this point, the whole assumption of this statement was no longer true in the first place. The sheriff had left the building already and Neh'miah was right about to jump out of it and into the streets below...

However, without that kind of updated knowledge, Skarsat saw little alternative to Neh'miah's route. In fact it did appear not so unappealing to himself for it would spare him from having to walk through the main hall and past the sheriff and his guards with both the key and, more importantly, that small package Percy had just given him. How many 'helping hands' of a busy tavern had nothing more important to do than to move around some small parcels that definitely and obviously did not contain any cooking ingrediends, except for maybe exquisite spices ? That thing was an open invitation for some sort of inspection that would hold things up and pose a danger in itself for sure.

So the Tork followed the thief's route towards the window and lifted his legs and butt onto the opening's frame with surprising ease after having moved his head through to the other side first. Yet as he already prepared for the jump there was a grinding noise and Skarsat's attempt to lean forwards further came to a rather abrupt stop. His shoulders were too broad!

Not too broad in the sense that even some simple wiggling and squeezing wouldn't be able to do the trick, but the otherwise smooth surface of his leather shoulder pieces was disrupted where two leather patches had been stitched together with some necessary overlap. The edge of the window's wooden frame now was pushing against the leading edge of said overlap and threatening to lift the upper piece up and tear the seam apart if he'd just try to force his way through.

He could easily have decided to just revert the process and get back in, but why should he do that if there was a helping hand just behind him that could fix this minor issue ?

"Erm... Percy ?" the Tork addressed him with some apparent embarrassment. "Can you help with this ?"

"You mean whether I can lend a helping foot to my very first guest who wants to be kicked out of the tavern ? No problem!"

"No! I meant can you just push these sea..."

Skarsat's words, as far as he could get them out, already mixed up with the noise of Percy picking up momentum inside. The latter could kick surprisingly hard, though absolutely not to his excuse one might add that he was exceptionally motivated and probably slightly impaired in his thinking by some serious hyper-nervosity!

The Tork now found himself following the fixed laws of gravity in a less than controlled descent which, given the falling height, would hardly last for a second. Also, since Percy had added some considerable horizontal momentum to the whole equation, Skarsat would land further out on the street than he had intended to do himself. Now there were obstacles down below he had definitely neither anticipated nor silenty hoped for.

He had already opened his mouth to shout out a warning towards ground zero that much more than the legendary Newtonian apple was going to hit when he realized that doing so would also trigger the attention of the guards in and outside the inn which probably was even worse than what was inevitably going to happen next. Skarsat moved knees, feet, shoulders and everything else he could that was not an as-flat-and-smooth-as-possible surface out of the way so hopefully it wouldn't turn out that bad.

The parcel! That damn small packet! What if it contained glass that would be crushed, shatter and pierce both his chest and Neh'miah's back ? He needed to get rid of that, too! The Tork tossed it away at the last moment so he had his hands free for intercepting the impact.

On the good side of things it was quite a bit softer than it might have been had he hit the ground beneath directly! On the other hand though it was clear that a certain, poor thief had to take the brunt of it. Still Skarsat's face hit some piece of cobblestone pretty hard and some piece of broken glass lying around caused a modest cut on it that started to bleed.

As Skarsat rolled to a dead stop he could already feel the anger surge in him. That... Percival! No matter where this blithering idiot would try to hide, he'd get him even if he had to just tear the whole place down! The Tork looked up the window he had just been kicked out of, but nobody was to be seen. Apparently Vargas' helping hand had already realized that he both had done something wrong and that he was dealing with a very angry person capable of handling a bow at this point!
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Arkitekt
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Arkitekt Weaver of Webs, Collector of Souls

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"Good luck to you both, and Godspeed on your travels!" Percy said, his muffled voice echoed in the alleyway from the window above. Both Skarsat and Neh'miah looked to one another and then upwards, witnessing Percy's tiny little arms protruding as he hastily slammed them shut without delay, and the alley was silent once again. A servant working in the warehouse heard the resounding thud as the pair had met with the cobbles and hurriedly rushed them inside to avoid any prying eyes...

Y'Vanna made her way back downstairs after hitting the lavatory to alleviate some of the pressure from her over worked bladder, and to powder her nose for a bit of motivation. She seemed bright eyed and eager to get a move on. She grabbed a small biscuit and a piece of sausage cramming them into her mouth with little resistance and made her way to join the rest of the party, which seemed to be a bit distraught, but she paid little attention over the growling in her belly.
It was no more than a moment or two before Percy came scrambling down the stairs, only to lose his footing on the last flight, causing him to slide down the last few into a crashing heap at the bottom. The mishap was extremely noisy and the sheer terror on Percy's face as he rose was more than humorous. He took a moment to straighten himself up and scanned the room, with no sight of the sheriff he began to panic even more. Nora gives a sigh of disbelief, what had she gotten herself into with this lot?

"Where.. where's the sheriff?" he said, his voice shaking notably as he did.

"Why, sweetheart? Are you finally ready to come clean about you-know-what?" asked Solange, pretending she knew about some dark secret that he was hiding when really she was just trying to make poor Percy panic. She leaned forward, stroked her chin, and studied him as she continued, "He left. The Sheriff must've heard the jangling of coins in a crooked merchant's hand and went off to feed a hunger that your breakfast couldn't fulfill."

Percy's eyes widened trying to pinpoint exactly what she was referring to, and then scowled as he realized that she was toying with him, as was her nature. Then he immediately perked up, remembering the two that were now in the alleyway.

"Make haste, much of it!" he said, making his way behind the front desk to retrieve everyone's parcels. he began to toss the small coin purses onto the bar as everyone came to claim theirs. "These are your parcels, one-hundred gold each for the journey, and a special token from Vargas to use at the market, good for one item. Make sure you use it here because it is only good here in the city of Guillan. You will know it by the V. There is a cart by the front of the warehouse with some last minute goods for the ship, please try not to waste too much time on the way. Lord Vargas is a man who appreciates punctuality from his constituents." he then did his best to shepherd them pout the door as quickly as he could manage.

Skarsat was just shoving Neh'miah into an empty barrel as they approached, much to his refusal but also much to Skarsat's amusement. Skarsat then loaded the barrel onto the cart as they all prepared to leave. Neh'miah could be heard through the boards in protest, to which Skarsat gave the planks a hefty slap.

"Quiet, unless you favor the gallows over this." he said quietly, leaning in as he did.

The slap gave the mule tethered to the cart all it needed to lurch forward, and they began heading off for the market. It was only a few blocks from the tavern, a very short walk with little incident along the way. The party was mostly quiet along the way, and they all seemed to be glad that they were finally on their way. It was a few minutes into the walk that Maréngo began to feel a slight discomfort growing in his bowels, which seemed to bloat and fall much like an extra lung. His gait shifted slightly and it was apparent that he hoped that no one in the party was the wiser...

The market, or the black market, as it was, had been well established here in Guillan, as there were many patrons and suppliers to keep it going, and the demand was and had always been high. Lord Vargas, and a few others like him, had all built and bolstered this over time, and had made substantial wealth from it. It's existence was well known to the crown and well documented, but payoffs and corrupted guardsmen, and sheriffs like Gerranti, all made it possible. It was a complex and elaborate entity altogether. The market was also never set in one place, but moved around all the time. It's next location only given to those in the know to ensure it's secrecy. Like a hydra, if one head was caught another head would spring forth without any hesitation. Items from all over the world could be found here. Scarcity, rarity, and variety were all subject to fluctuate constantly. One never knew what one could find there.
On this day, the market was above ground and not too far from the docks, which worked out well for the party. It was inside a small enclosed courtyard adjacent to a fountain shrine to Leathe, in behind a regular shop for most common items, Mast's General Goods and Wares, and could only be accessed by someone with the proper credentials. Nora makes her way to the shopkeep and leans in, whispering something to them. They had obviously been expecting them, they gesture and nod. The shopkeep then shuffled the party through a door in the back, locking and bolting it behind them. From there the party finds itself in a small fenced off enclosure, where a man ensures their credentials before letting them enter into the market.

Vendors List:
all items are not represented below, inquire for more options or item availability...

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Hidden 22 days ago 22 days ago Post by Fetzen
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As the donkey made the cart trundle through the wide and more narrow streets of Guillan, Skarsat spent little attention on the one barrel that had a not so harmless content, but was much more on the lookout for irregularities in the cobblestones beneath. If there was any pothole, any stone that protruded from its neighbours or any gap one of the wheel's could get stuck in suddenly, there could be trouble. He was not worried about provding as much of a comfortable ride as possible towards Neh'miah, but much more about the man banging his head against the barrel and crying out in pain. Such an unusual noise could end not only the thief's but also his very own journey much sooner than acceptable.

Skarsat felt his will to get over with this whole endeavour as efficiently as possible quite renewed given the prospect of returning to Guillan afterwards. Returning to this city meant paying the tavern another visit. Paying the tavern another visit meant quite probably bumping into a certain man. Bumping into that certain man offered the opportunity to rip him apart.

There were a few guards he and the cart passed by unharmed on their way towards the market. It seemed the barrel trick was working out nicely. If only Neh'miah would be able to hold out until the Tork had finished his business which he planned to do. If this market was as big as the whole city, then it was bound to include some goods he could use, too! Skarsat gave the donkey a gentle nudge to move just that bit further that was necessary to get the cart's cargo into the shadow cast by one of the adjacent buildings. Neh'miah moaning due to excessive heat induced by sunlight into an unventilated space was not something Skarsat was looking forward to, either.

Speaking of an unventilated space... Maybe he should have taken the time to just bash a small hole into the barrel while still at the warehouse and to turn the whole thing until it was hidden by the other barrels ? If something was built to hold a liquid, it was not only not ventilated, but outright airtight. That in turn meant he'd have to make a bit of a hurry out of his shopping tour or otherwise their ship would have a corpse on board even before departure...

Therefore, Skarsat decided to make his decision more based on his very first impression. Given this strategy there was one stand that attracted his attention more than any other... It was the large arrangement of bows and even more arrows with not only one, but two people behind the counter who, given that even the female one was rather towering over their average customer, likely were Tork. This initial characterization found confirmation as Skarsat came closer and could make out more details about their faces. Clearly Tork. What a surprise to see a couple of his countrymen and -women here!

The joy was not entirely mutual though, at least if one considered the looks on the male owner's face who darted a not so friendly look towards Skarsat. Was this guy disappointed that he was no longer the biggest bloke around here ? The woman quickly compensated for this by identifying herself as "Aniska" while presenting a big smile.

"Hello! What can we do for you ?" she asked before putting down the arrow tip she had been working on with the grinding wheel.

"Do you have any good bows. For me, I mean ?" Of course they had good bows... even they actually weren't good they'd still claim so because they were merchants who wanted to sell things. Tork were not above bantering, Skarsat knew that. He aimed his view onto the goods hanging from the ceiling and being stacked on the floor as far as he could see it, but also had to divert some observation time towards the cart. It still stood there with all barrels on board. Good...

Aniska looked at Skarsat up and down and then back up from his tremendous thighs to his more than just 'broad' shoulders, then could keep herself from grinning. She leaned against the counter with one hand and let the fist of the other one rest on her hip. "Lark ?" she said in an almost teasing manner. "Do we still have that one thing around you did once ? That bow you couldn't sell to anyone so far?"

"There are many things we couldn't sell so far! Look at the goddamn cart!" it came back from the small workbench in a quite annoyed tone and with a fingerpointing gesture towards the vehicle in question. "I told you more than once already that we shouldn't go back to this fart of a city. There are no good bowmen here!"

Aniska sighed slightly, but only so loud that Skarsat could barely hear it. This time less teasing and more demanding she restated her request: "Not now, Lark! Please! Just give me the one bow this 'fart' of a city's guard was interested in as a makeshift replacement part for one of their stationary installations. We do still have that one around, don't we ?"

A pair of prongoues and a big knife were dumped onto the workbench a little harder than would have been necessary, then Lark proceeded towards the cart while also exhaling a lot louder than necessary. There indeed were still plenty of goods laying around there and that made Lark's task not easier as the item in question appeared to be at the very bottom of the mess. The ruckus he made even made some of the passer-bys turn their heads. Then he returned with... something. Skarsat's eyes widened a bit.

Aniska however had long gotten over her initial concerns about wasting precious resources on something far too oversized for there to ever be any potential users. It had been Lark's idea and luckily he had only instantiated his madness in this way once so far, so the bow he was bringing back to her was one of a kind right now. At least as far as two humble merchants and bowmakers could say that. Having received it from her colleague, she handed it over towards Skarsat. "Draw it. If you can do that, it is yours. 13g and no shittalk around it. You will get a fresh bowstring and some basic care for the wooden parts because the thing is not new anymore, okay ?"

And Skarsat started pulling, and pulling harder,... and pulling even harder until the bowstring started to feel very, very uncomfortable in his hand without thick leather gloves protecting it. As he slowly worked his way towards success even Lark took a brief moment to watch, along with a few other people.

"Well, erm... I'd say give me the coin and the city guard will have to look for spare parts elsewhere. You wouldn't like to see this beauty being abused and slowly rotting away in some crude ballista on a high tower either, woud you ?"

Skarsat put the thing down and eased up his shoulders before reaching into the depths of his pockets. "Does this work for payment too ?" and he pulled out the weird token he had been given from Vargas. The man had said it would work on the market, so hopefully that had been the truth.

"Erm... a crumpled piece of parchment ?" Aniska asked, arching an eyebrow. She shifted her upper body left and right to try and look past the small document that was hiding the actual token from sight. Only then Skarsat realized that he had forgotten to remove and maybe even read that right away when he had received the whole thing. It probably was some less important thing!

"Oh, now I can see! So it appears you're a special one in more than one way. Consider the bow to be yours. Give me a minute or two to make sure it's in proper order. Anything else you need ? Maybe a few arrows that don't limit the drawing weight of your new weapon by being too short ?"

Lark saw the token, too, and the moment he did his mood dramatically worsened up to the point that he took the token they had received from Skarsat and smashed it so hard onto the cobblestone beneath that it actually shattered. Skarsat started reconsidering whether he should just try and revert his decision and to just pay the coin for the Champion's bow ? Maybe Vargas was not paying the local merchants here, but only put pressure on them. Or there was outright blackmailing going on ? Unfortunately there was more than one reason why he did not have the time to dig deeper now. Not only he needed to get onto the boat quickly! And, of course, Lark's decision to break the token instead of just storing it somewhere had made any attempt to revert decisions doomed from the start.

Therefore the Tork's attempts to talk down the price his country people would take for a decent bunch of heavy arrows and a high tensile bow string as a replacement, just should the need arise, were only half-hearted. Needless to mention that while Aniska was much more understanding, Lark was not.

Hidden 18 days ago 11 days ago Post by Jarl Coolgruuf
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Jarl Coolgruuf The Mellower

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The discomfort in Maréngo's stomach grew as they neared the market but he dismissed it as after effects of his night of drunken debauchery. After all, he was still trying his damndest to ignore his splitting headache. He made his way to the market with the rest of the merry band and couldn't help but snicker every time he glanced at the barrel. It took considerable effort to not ask Neh'miah how he was doing out loud. Best not to give any indication the wanted thief was around and with them. Even still, he noticed an occasional side eye directed at their motley crew but no one had the nerve to ask them their business given the sheer amount of weaponry and muscle they had to bear.

The party quickly began to disperse once they reached the market and the pirate took that as his cue to break away. There were a few things he'd like to do with that hefty bag of coin. He couldn't help the giddy smile on his face at the thought of being able to buy just about anything he wanted at the market. His first stop was a series of ox carts manned by a dwarf. The plethora of items and weaponry drew his attention as soon as saw the displays. Of all the items for sale, it was an ornate dagger that caught his eye and his curiosity. It was a thing of beauty (if a tad rusted) with brass accents and mahogany furniture and to his amazement, a flintlock barrel fixed to the cross guard. He pondered for a moment about the applications of such a device. The idea of a one stab blade in such a small package was more than a bit attractive. With a little love it would be quite the ace up his sleeve if he didn't have room to swing a sword.

It was then his perusing was noticed by the dwarf who scowled as he watched this stranger loiter by his goods.
"Well? Are you gonna buy it or just stand there gawking?"
Maréngo gave him a good natured smile and gestured to the dagger.
"She's beautiful. How much?"
"Seven gold. Take it or leave it."
The finality of his tone made him certain there would be little room for bargaining. Still, it couldn't hurt to try.
"How about tossin' in a cleaning kit with oil and brush for say... an extra 30 bits?"
"50 bits."
Maréngo reached into the coin purse at his belt and the dwarf seemed to soften just a bit as the coin dropped into his hand.
"Hmm. Since you didn't bust my chops about haggling, and I can tell by the look of you you'll need it, have some shot and patches on the house."
"You guessed correctly. Never know what could be waiting in a place like Gnok."
The dwarf pocketed the coin and retrieved the extra ammunition from a crate on the back of a cart. Maréngo smiled and affixed the dagger to his belt, giving it a small pat. It felt good. like it truly belonged to him. He couldn't wait to restore it to its former glory. It was then the dwarf returned with a small cloth bag tied neatly with twine.
"Now don't go telling everyone and their mother about this. But nevermind that, what are you doing out by Gnok?"
"I'd be happy to tell you, but the boss would probably have stiff words with me if I said. Even sayin' the where might've been too much."
"Alright, alright I won't pry. Anything else for you?"
"No, this is plenty. Thank you and be sure to buy yourself something to fill your belly and warm your throat."
The dwarf smirked and patted his coin pouch.
"Already ahead of you."


Maréngo made a quick stop by the apothecary to grab himself a serviceable pipe and some tobacco and a tinder box to go with it. He was pleasantly surprised at how cheap he got the tobacco for. Though he had quite a bit of gold left, the pirate found himself captivated by a display of exotic animals he passed on his way to the ship. Reptiles and birds and small mammals he didn't recognize despite his travels sat in cages arranged on tables. Parrots and birds of prey and even some type of hairless cat paced in their cages or made a ruckus out of sheer boredom. One animal in particular drew his attention like a moth to flame. A small monkey hung from the bars of its cage and hooted at him with its furry hand outstretched. It made a grabbing motion at him and Maréngo grinned. The idea that he could simply buy a pet was too enticing to pass up. He reached to gently grasp the primate's hand when a Jin-Zho man wearing a courtly robe stopped him.
"Careful, he bites." As if to prove his point, the monkey screeched at him and spit on his robe. "And spits."
The man wiped his clothes somewhat dry and bowed gracefully.
"Welcome, friend. My name is Po and this is my collection of wondrous, exotic creatures and this little bastard for sale. If you'll take him off my hands I'll give you a discount and even throw in some food to keep him busy."
Maréngo had already decided he'd pay whatever amount the man wanted, but pretended to mull it over.
"What sort of discount?" he asked, thoughtfully stroking his chin scruff.
"45 gold and a sack of food for free."
"Would you take 38?"
"I'll take 40."
Po grinned and vigorously shook the pirate's hand with both of his.
"Congratulations, friend! Now take this and this and get that hell creature away from me!"
He shoved a sack of fruit into his hands along with a leash and collar, positively ecstatic to be rid of the animal. Turning the collar over he saw a name engraved into the leather.
The monkey only seemed to grow more excited at the mention of her name. Maréngo took a plantain out of the bag and held it out in front of him.
"You want some treats? Are you hungry?"

Po breathed a sigh of relief at having closed the deal and reached into his robe for a keyring. Hesitantly, he unlocked the cage after a silent three count and immediately jumped back as Pyka sprang at his new owner, latching onto his arm. He snatched the fruit up and climbed onto his shoulder where she quickly peeled the skin away, throwing it to the ground at Po's feet, before tearing into her snack.
"Keep the leash," Maréngo said and placed it, along with the gold on the table by the open cage, "He won't need it any more."
Po gave him a look bordering on concern but it quickly faded as he gathered the coins into a pouch.
"Thank you, friend! And good luck!"
"Too you as well."

Maréngo turned and headed for the docks. He'd wasted enough time already and it was about time he earned his keep. Although, was it truly wasted time if he had such a fun little companion to show for it?
"Come, Pyka. There's some people I want you to meet."

Hidden 16 days ago Post by Milkman


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Neh’miah He’ron

Location: Outside

Silent and gracefull, like a true thief Neh’miah had made his way out of the window. A perfect landing without having anyone notice it. As he looked down the alleyway the sound of ripping clothes drew his attention. Quickly the young thief looked up to notice a large looming figure falling out of the window above him. It was the last thing he remembered before waking up in a pitchblack, cramped wooden environment.

He let his hands touch the walls and noticed the curvature and that they were made of wood. Judging from the smell inside this was certainly a barrel, a barrel on the move that was. For a moment Neh’miah just listened. It was clear that he was on a cart but who was driving it to where? Was it Skarsat? He could not remember what happened after that big dumbass of a Tork jumped out of the window on top of him. Why did he take the window in the first place? He could just walk out of the front door, the sheriff wasn’t looking for him.

He could feel his heart bounce around as the cart stopped. Judging from the noise around it sounded like they were on the market. For a moment he weighed his options. Should he leave the barrel and see what was going on? Or should he stay put. As he thought about it he could feel his tension ease when he heard Skarsats voice asking for a bow. So the Tork had put him in a barrel and was now driving around town. So for now the best option was to stay put, an airhole would be nice though.
Hidden 11 days ago Post by Atrophy
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Atrophy Meddlesome Kid

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Solange - The Black Market

Money isn't the root; it's the nutrients in the soil that let beauty grow.

The walk to the market was brief but still gave Solange plenty of time to fantasize about the axle of the wagon splintering, the barrel hiding Neh’miah tumbling out of the cart, and it cascading into the bay where it would be swept out into the sea. In her fantasy, a marooned mariner desperate for food and drink would see a barrel wash ashore on their island prison, crack open the cask, and succumb to despair as the remains of the molding barrel thief leaked out. The thought amused her enough to fight off the urge to walk up next to the barrel and rock it herself, an action she was sure would be intercepted by one of Vargas’s thugs. It was even enough to keep her taunting tongue tied as she glanced over at Maréngo. She was almost impressed by his ability to stomach the irritant. Had she oversaturated it with coffee?

The sight of the market snuffed all thoughts of misery-making out of her head. Her eyes grew wide with greed as they consumed the stalls stocked with supplies and trinkets. Normally when she was in a market she was limited to shopping with her eyes and whatever discount she could swipe with her fingers. The parcel of gold grew heavy in her hand, the weight too much to bear. It needed to be spent. She ripped it open and an audible gasp was followed by a shuffling of hands as she stashed the money in a hidden pocket, well aware of the stickiness of the fingers of those around her. After Fontaine’s cut and the various expenses to maintain her botanical practices, it had taken Solange months of work to save up a tenth of what Vargas had just given. The stale performances weren’t even the worst of it—the amount of time spent in grueling, mind numbing conversations, so bad that she barely held back all of her urges to slash out their tongue or cut off her ears, compared to the price she was paid was pathetic.

Crunching how much time she’d have to spend listening to a sailor squawk about his shipmates to make the amount of money in that envelope made Solange’s stomach turn, her cheeks burn, and her fist tighten. Her face darkened as she glanced around the market, trying to spot her companions. When Vargas had talked about the money for the ship and the gear it seemed so abstract that she hadn’t even registered it. Now that she had a fraction of the number he’d mentioned for his price, she was bewildered. Were these thieves and killers always being paid so well while women in her profession got the scraps and the sneers? She shook and spied a jeweler across the way, the morning sun glinting off of the silver and gold. The knock-offs she wore didn’t even glimmer. Her breath caught in her throat. She deserved a treat, didn’t she? She started towards the stand.

Then she turned sharply. She would treat herself to fancy jewelry upon her return. Until then, she had to make sure she stayed alive, and the best way to do that was to prove to the others that she was of value. Ideally they would all come to their senses and see that she was worth dying for, but until then she’d settle for them at least wanting to keep her alive. She knew well enough that the best way to get someone to care about you was to seem to care about them.

Solange found herself at Ziva’s Apothecary Supplies. She knew Ziva well enough, having tracked down her stall whenever it was convenient to find remedies for Fontaine’s girls. Generally the fellow running the stall did most of the sales while Ziva prepped the packages, yet he always shied away when Solange started speaking of the girl’s unsanitary symptoms. He seemed to recognize her, because Solange didn’t even have to say a word to catch a scowl from him as he tapped Ziva on the shoulder and turned away. Solange saw Ziva as a sort of herbalism contemporary. Ziva, well…

“You do not learn? I would ask why you are here, but a blindman could see the amount of paint around your mouth. So, whose dirty little pecker did you put your pretty lips too close to this time?” asked Ziva, squinting at Solange with one eye.

“Darling, you know I do not kiss and tell. Although in regards to the blind, I am less concerned with the blemishes as I am with the fragrance of my flower. You see, this morning I thought someone had hidden murdered animal in my bed because…”

“Should really see to that delivery,” said the man as he hurried away from the stall empty handed. Solange and Ziva watched as he disappeared into the market.

“Has there ever been a better way to keep a man from infidelity?” asked Ziva, smirking. Ever since Ziva promised to share the occasional secret with her, Solange had accepted the role as the world’s most diseased harlot. All of it was to convince Ziva’s man that any working girl was a sickly, infested cesspit that was as likely to cause it to rot off as it was to get off. Solange did not know why Ziva didn’t trust the fellow. He didn’t seem like the whoring type, but watching him winge was enough to sell her on the premise.

“Castration, but that’s only fun once,” said Solange with a dark chuckle.

“So, are you here for one of the girls today?” asked Ziva.

“Myself, actually,” said Solange. She caught Ziva’s glance and stepped back with a mock hostility. “Please, love, don’t give me that look like I’m an idiot, you know I can spot a social disease even before the belt is unbuckled.”

“I know you say that. So, what are you looking for then?”

Solange explained the situation of her trip without giving Ziva any ruinous details, and the woman presented several items to prepare for the most unfortunate of circumstances. A bit of back and forth later and Ziva was bundling up a package of inexpensive but proven medical supplies. She was about to tie it up with a ribbon when she looked up at Solange and said, “You do have something to ward off the sailors, correct?”

“If raising my prices aren’t enough, I have also begun to win the affection of a very big and very violent Tork.”

“I am not speaking of your virtue. I am speaking about the drowned. Ghosts of dead sailors. Sunken ships rising out of the depths, sailed by skeletons and spirits, seeking souls to consume before the night’s end. To go sailing without the proper equipment is suicide.”

“R-ridiculous,” said Solange, feeling a chill run down her spine. “If such things exist why have I never heard about it?”

“Sailors know not to speak of it; it is bad luck. Serves as a signal to the dead. Helps them find their ships. Even knowing it is dangerous.”

“Then why tell me?” barked Solange, her fingers rubbing at her throat as she felt it start to close. Did Maréngo know of such things? Why hadn’t Vargas been informed?

Ziva shrugged. “I thought you knew. But now you can prepare. Listen, I’ll tell you how…”

Solange leaned in, listening intently as Ziva explained the necessary rituals to perform and items to prepare to fend off the spirits of the sea. By the time her explanation was done, Solange’s bundle had doubled in size as it was packed with water blessed by holy disciples of Leathe and pounds of purified salt to ward and protect. The thank yous pouring from Solange’s mouth were the most earnest words she had spoken in months, and the way her eyes looked as if they were about to pop out of her head as Ziva said that even these precautions might not be enough told the apothecary that she could fleece Solange for anything right about now. Ziva pulled a talisman out of her pocket, a black rope fastened around a piece of jade to make a bracelet. She held it out to Solange.

“Wear this on your wrist. If you ever find yourself confronted by a spirit of the dead, extend your hand forward. The jade will do the rest. Here.” Solange reached forward as Ziva snapped the bracelet back. “This is a one of a kind spirit stone that protects the living from the dead. It’s incredible rare, worth over fifty gold, b—”

“Here!” Solange didn’t even wait to hear the price drop Ziva was going to give her. Already, Vargas’s coin had swapped places with the coin and the bracelet was hanging from her left wrist.

“You are a smart girl,” said Ziva, wide-eyed. She didn’t even bother to protest. The gem wasn’t even true jade, but serpentine stone. The rope tied around it was worth more. Ziva quickly wrapped up the rest of the transaction before Solange could give it a second thought, not that she would. Solange stared at the stone with awe as she shifted the bundle under her arm and found her next stop, purchasing a black leather cloak to keep her dry if she was even needed above deck during a storm.

Her final stop took her out of the black market and back to the legitimate storefront to stock up on general goods. She had also intended to seek out a book about the island of Gnok, either of some historical value or information on local flora. Solange instead found her nose in a book of maritime folklore and sea creatures called Faithless Fathoms: Living Below Leathe’s Light. She paid for the book, returned to the cart, and sat with her back to Neh’miah’s barrel and the book opened on her lap to a chapter about the Sumek. She reached back and tapped the barrel.

“You still breathing, love? Tap once if you’re alive, twice if you’re suffocating, and three times if—” Her words pitched up into a question and grew louder as she saw Maréngo and sat up with a curious face.“—you bought a monkey?”

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