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Author Topic: Abstraction (M)  (Read 134 times)

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Offline Valtxr

Abstraction (M)
« on: August 05, 2017, 09:38:03 AM »
@HighLordMhoram

   The Tipped Hand. A ratty little tavern in a bad part of Reajh. A place of low standards. Nearly abandoned during the day, occasionally raucous at night.
   This morning was no different.  The bartender sat at one of the stools of the counter. Next to him, Lonergan, one of the Hand's usuals. And next to Lonergan, a fourteen-year-old girl, Aura. Only two others, sitting at one of the tavern's tables and drinking quietly.
   Dim, aside from the meager light from the fireplace and what little of the morning sun leaked in through the small window by the door.

   Aura lowered her hood. Straightened out her hair with a stroke of her hand. Looked over to Lonergan. Said, "Crystal."
   "Ah, geez." Lonergan started digging around in his pants pocket. "You know Cherno doesn't like you smokin' this stuff."
   A flat response. "So."
   "Well, he wouldn't punch you for it, but he'd sure as shit punch me."
   And again. "So."
   "He's a big guy."
   Aura shrugged.
   "I mean, a really big guy."
   Aura just stared at him.
   Lonergan found it. A small rolled cigarette of Crystal Vane. Bits of the bluish green plant sticking out of one end. "Look, just...hurry up and smoke that before he gets back in here, would ya?"
   Aura reached into her own pocket and pulled out two silver. Set the coins down on the counter. Lonergan nodded, and they made the exchange.
   Two times eight is sixteen.
   Aura stood up and walked over to the fireplace and lit the cigarette and sat back down at the counter next to Lonergan.
   And, just as soon as she put the cigarette to her lips, the tavern door opened and Cherno came in.

   Cherno "Ogre" Korchagin finished fastening his belt, walked from the outhouse to the front door of the tavern, and pushed it open.
   And what did he see? Aura, cigarette in hand, and Lonergan, with a face like a puppy about to be scolded. Goddammit. This girl. Never fucking listens. How the hell did he get stuck doing this babysitting bullshit? Fucking Ansgar, he missed the simple days of smuggling.
   Cherno stomped over to Aura and swiped the cigarette out of her hand. "Gimme that! How many times I gotta tell you not to smoke this shit?"
   Aura glanced up at him. "It calms me."
   "Yeah, well, we got a job to do today, so maybe you ought to be jittery." Cherno sat down on the stool next to her, then pointed straight at Lonergan. "And you—"
   "Wasn't me."
   "Horseshit." Cherno wagged his finger a couple times. "I catch you sellin' that shit to her, I break your nose. That's the best offer you're gonna get. Deal?"
   "Uh. Sure. Deal. But it still wasn't me."
   A moment of quiet. The bartender, jaded and aloof as always, sat drinking a mug of beer. Lonergan, that weaselly fuck, suddenly remembered he had somewhere to be and left the tavern. Aura folded her arms on the counter and rested her head on them, staring off at a random point in space.
   Thoughts intruded on Cherno. Shit. Maybe he ought to take up smokin' a little Vane. Or at least tobacco. Something to calm him down on the regular. He wasn't always this consistently angry. Wasn't that kind of guy. But lately, taking care of Aura...god damn. He was reminded again and again why he just wasn't cut out to be a father—even a surrogate one. He had no idea what Mr. Winters truly wanted with Aura, or how long this assignment would be, but hopefully it'd be behind him soon enough.
   The jobs on offer today from Ophelia were shit. Scout out The Pit and get a headcount of the men stationed there? No thanks. Investigate some murder? No thanks. Go to some farm and get the guy to pay up? No thanks.
   But Cherno had to take Aura out and do something. Get her experienced. Used to how things worked in the business. Couldn't just sit on his ass all day.

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2017, 03:07:22 PM »
Occasionally, Graven missed the ability to walk around Reajh regularly, without having to bother to disguise himself. That wish went away as soon as he actually arrived in the city. He always forgot how strong the stench of the city was, the reek of so many unwashed bodies, of piles of refuse in alleyways and the droppings of thousands of horses, cats, dogs, and gods knew what other animals. Thankfully, the meeting place was just up ahead. Flanked by two bodyguards, he walked up to the door of the tavern and made his way inside, passing a rat-faced man scurrying away as if the wrath of Ansgar were behind him.

Even for a hermit who spent most of his life in the mountains, the Tipped Hand was a dump. Graven tried to hide his distaste as he pushed back his hood and looked around, but he was certain it showed in his expression. One of his guards closed the door and leaned on it, while the second went to stand by the fireplace, his hand resting lightly on the flintlock pistol at his side. The only other people in that shit hole were the bartender and two people whom he presumed were his contacts, a brick wall of a man and a tiny young girl. Surely the kid wasn't going to participate in this? Then again, he wasn't sure how the Winters operated. Maybe this was par for the course.

In any case, he made his way up to the bar and took a seat beside the man. He had no idea what a drink cost around these parts, but he slapped a silver coin on the table and said, "Give me whatever passes for wine here. In a clean glass, if it's not too much trouble." Then he turned and fixed his near-colorless eyes on the man beside him. "I take it you're the one Winter set me up with? I didn't realize you had to babysit your little sister today."

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2017, 09:29:41 AM »
   Aura vaguely watched the men enter the tavern. Sideways glances at them. One by the door, another by the fireplace, the last on the other side of Cherno.
   Three times three is nine.
   She didn't care much about their presence. Kept the side of her head rested on her folded arms.
   But the blonde man on the other side of Cherno started talking.
   Good.
   A distraction. Then she could get her cigarette back.

   Cherno looked over at the man on the stool beside him. New guy, for sure. 'Cause wine around here? He should've brought his own grapes.
   The bartender stood up lazily, and said as he walked around the counter, "Don't got wine. We got beer, and we got ale." He started cleaning out a mug. "Suppose an ale'll do ya good, yeah?"
   "Might as well get me one while you're at it," Cherno said as he plinked a coin down on the counter.
   "Hardly fair," Aura said, not really looking at him.
   "Hey! We've been over this! Alcohol is socially acceptable. That's the difference!"
   The newcomer said something else, catching Cherno by surprise. Oh shit, was this one of the jobs Ophelia had offered for today? Or...fuck, did that happen a few days ago? Was this job already set up for today? Well, yeah, had to be, the contact was right there asking about it. Shit, did he forget? Ansgar's mercy, Cherno would've never forgotten any important details when he was solo smuggling. Looking after Aura had his brain all rattled up, that was for damn sure.
   "Yeah, I'm the guy." Cherno frowned at the last part, then messaged his forehead some. "She's not my—" Fuck it. "Yes! She's my little sister."
   "No, I'm not."
   "Quiet, you! You are today. It's just...fucking easier to explain that way." Back to the blonde man with the...eyes. Was there a word for that color? Or lack thereof? "Name's Cherno. That's Aura. Had I known you were a wine guy, I'd've picked a better bar. Only slightly better, but better."

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2017, 09:53:18 AM »
Graven sighed heavily. "Yes, I suppose an ale will 'do me'." Despite his years in the mountains, there was still a decidedly noble tinge to his accent. Let them think he was some snooty noble brat. It was probably safer for everyone involved that way.

Well, at the very least this day wouldn't be boring, judging by the way his two contacts bickered. "I'm Graven," he said simply. "And no offense to you, but if I wanted a good bar I wouldn't be within a quarter mile of this district." He took the ale when the bartender placed it before him, had a tentative sip, and grimaced.

"Orson, do you want this horse piss?" He said, extending the mug towards his bodyguard by the fireplace. "I'd hate to have it go to waste. Anymore than it already has, anyways." His once-dead captain gave him a look, but approached and took the mug from his hand. As he did, Cherno and Aura could catch a glimpse of the priest's robes he wore under his cloak, a relic from his past life. He raised the mug and downed the whole thing in one swallow. He paused, expression contemplative, and said, "Tastes like shit," before placing it gently back on the counter and returning to his place by the fire.

Graven smiled slightly and turned his attention back to Cherno. "I take it you're aware of the details of the contract? And don't bother trying to renegotiate. I already told your boss that I don't make compromises."

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2017, 09:34:27 AM »
   Aura sat up slowly as Graven, Cherno, and the other man, Orson, were talking. She pretended to pay attention, eyes moving from one to the other. Unheeded words among them.
   Cherno had placed the cigarette in his right pants pocket. She imagined it there. Focused on it.
   She felt the paper of the cigarette on her fingertips. A ghostly sensation, as her mind made contact with it.
   And she waited for the right moment to pull it out of Cherno's pocket.

   Cherno shrugged in reaction to the 'good bar' comment. "Fair enough."
   The contact, Graven, sounded like one of the those guys. High class sort. Shit. How much money was riding on this? Couldn't be all that much right? Well, wasn't really the money that Cherno needed to worry about, it was the reputation of the business. Wouldn't do to fuck up and make Mr. Winters look bad.
   And Graven had a priest with him? Hell, Cherno had been meaning to go to Church for a while. Get a little more Ansgar in his life. It'd be nice if he could go and have Aura not wreck the place, for fuck's sake.
   Ah, just get through the job and—
   I take it you're aware of the details of the contract?
   Well, talk about fuckin' up the reputation of the business and there ya go. There ya fuckin' go.
   Cherno cleared his throat. "Look, I'm gonna be honest with you, Graven. I...drank a lot last night. Like, a lot, a lot." Without looking back at her, he pre-emptively moved his hand to make a shush gesture back at Aura. "And, I don't know if you've ever been blackout drunk on wine, but ale sure as fuck does the job. So, uh..." Cherno cleared his throat again, "gonna need a little refresher on the job details."

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2017, 09:48:04 AM »
Graven stared at Cherno for a long moment. Finally, he said, "So this is what I spent my money on. Lovely." Still, it wasn't like he had many other options at this point. "Well, hopefully you have enough short term memory retention that I won't have to repeat myself a second time." He shifted his position on thee stool so that he was fully facing the two thieves.

"What we're looking for is a possession of mine that was...misappropriat ed recently. A very special ceremonial dagger of incalculable value to me. You'll know it when you see it. It has a very precise geometric pattern etched into the blade. Looking at it for too long might give you a headache, presuming that all that alcohol hasn't killed your nerve endings. The dagger is currently being held in the church on Ashton street, and will likely be guarded by soldiers, mordecai, and god-forbid, perhaps a Knight of the White Lily. I require your assistance in retrieving that dagger by any means possible before the priests figure out how to destroy it." He cocked his head slightly. "I trust you don't have any moral objections to robbing the church?"

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2017, 10:26:51 AM »
   At least Graven didn't seem too mad about it. Cherno needed to come up with some excuse for this whole debacle, and a boozy night was as good as any. Maybe Graven himself had a few blackouts of his own and could relate.
   Okay. Dagger. Check. That was the target. Got some pattern on it, yup. Headache for lookin' at it? Jeez, what the fuck was this thing made out of? And it was held in a....Ahhh, fuck. A church? Every time Cherno felt like gettin' right with the Big Man upstairs, he had to go and do some shit like this. Well, that's what forgiveness was for, right? Ansgar would understand. He's a real God of the people. Gotta do what ya gotta do, you know?
   But Cherno heard Aura, perking up as soon as Graven had mentioned the church. He glanced over at her. Oh, would ya fuckin' look at that, she was actually payin' attention, eyes locked on Graven and all.
   "We'll kill them," she said.
   Cherno clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "Alright, first of all, is there anything you give a shit about, or are you just dead inside?"
   Aura thought for a second. "Yes."
   "Which...? Nevermind. Second, can you even...you know...do your thing against a Mordecai or a Knight? Hmm?"
   "Yes."
   "Are you lyin'?"
   "No."
   "'Cause it sounds like you're lyin'."
   "No. I'm not."
   Cherno looked back to Graven. "Sorry about that. We're in, Graven. We'll help you get your dagger back—"
   "By any means necessary," Aura said, still looking directly at Graven.
   Cherno held up his hand at her. "I heard him the first time." Back to Graven, an annoyed look on his face from having to constantly deal with Aura. "Is stealth your preferred method? 'Cause I can think of a few things—"
   "Or we can just kill them all," Aura said.
   Cherno brought a hand up to his forehead. Massaged it. This girl was a fuckin' handful and a half, alright.

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2017, 10:54:09 AM »
Graven watched the interplay between the two with some amusement. This girl certainly was bloodthirsty, but judging by the way Cherno spoke, she had to have some kind of power to back it up. "I wouldn't be too confident in any abilities you might have working against the mordecai," he said. "Unless, of course, you've somehow managed to make the breakthrough of the millennia and figure out how to circumvent a nullifier's field. Which I, for one, highly doubt."

Turning his attention to Cherno, he said, "We go by stealth if we can, but be prepared for some bloody work. My men will come along, but being within a Knight's field makes them queasy, so don't expect them to handle the guards one on one. All we need to do is find out where the dagger is being held, collect it, and run off."

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2017, 10:11:38 AM »
   Aura didn't respond to Graven. She merely tilted her head, as if she either didn't understand what he was saying, or viewed it as a challenge.
   Huh. Makes his men queasy? Shit. Cherno had never been in a Knight's field before. Never met one for that matter. Would it make him queasy? He was pretty sure he'd done some things that surely must've pissed off Ansgar—had yet to get forgiveness for 'em too. And Knights were his fuckin' champions, right? So...well, damn, hopefully he wouldn't get queasy too.
   Cherno glanced back at Aura when Graven finished his briefing. "See that? Stealth. That means rein it in until I tell you to do something. Got it?"
   She flicked her eyes at him. Didn't reply for a few seconds until, "Fine."
   "Good enough."
   The bartender caught his attention. Held up the mug of ale. "Still want this, Cherno?"
   He waved it away. "On second thought, better wait until I get back."
   "Suit yourself." The bartender sat back down on one of the stools and started sipping from the mug.
   Cherno stood up. Yanked his pants up by the belt and straightened out his tunic. Said to Graven, "Alright. Never been to the church on Ashton street myself, so I don't know what the area's like. Suppose we ought to get going, get a lay of the land, headcount in and around the church, all that. Come up with a serviceable plan there."

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2017, 10:38:31 AM »
"That seems reasonable enough." Graven stood, and his men moved over to his side. "I'll take the lead. Try not to fall behind." With that, he strode out into the busy streets.
--------------------------------------------------
The Church was locked up tight. It was a small building, probably only big enough to hold a few dozen parishioners, but it was a formidable construction of stone with a solid tiled roof and few windows. Two men stood guard at the entrance, turning away anyone who wished to enter and pray with a polite but firm denial. Their garb made it clear what they were; mordecai.

A casual glance through the windows while passing by revealed that the inside held at least three times as many of the elite soldiers, along with a tall woman in immaculate silver armor, her red hair falling down to her shoulders. There was a back entrance, but that was also likely guarded. Two ways in, one big open room with at least ten guards. It wasn't going to be an easy job.

"What do you think?" Graven asked once the two thieves were done staking out the place. "Can we do it?"

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2017, 12:58:52 PM »
   After a couple passes of the church, walking with the other passersby on the street and looking busy, Cherno came to one conclusion:
   Fuck!
   First of all, broad daylight. Not even a nice foggy rainstorm to help cover their tracks. Sure, there were some commoners going here and there on the street, but it certainly wasn't jam-packed today either. An awful start.
   Then came the little issue that there were, actually, Mordecai present. And one of them was a woman, in the most expensive looking armor Cherno had ever seen apart from his encounter with Major Kilandre; likely a damn Adhara. Well...shame on Cherno for thinking that Graven was vastly overestimating the level of resistance. Today was turning out to be a shitstorm of forgetfulness and wishful thinking.
   Cherno sighed as he made his way back to where Graven and Aura were waiting: a little alleyway across and down the street from the church with a decent view. Maybe he ought to just bail. Get out of this mess while he still could. The job itself seemed daunting enough, but add on to it Mr. Winters' rule about Reajh authorities...shit. Winters probably wouldn't have Aura killed—he obviously had some grand plan for her. But Cherno? If he was seen even hurting one of these Mordecai...lights out.
   Cherno stopped when he was close to Graven and Aura. He hooked his thumbs into his pants pockets, clicked his tongue, and replied to the former, "It ain't lookin' good, friend. Real long shot here." He snapped a look to Aura as soon as she opened her mouth. "And, no, we can't kill them. As a matter of fact, you in particular need to calm your shit for this."
   "I am calm," she said.
   "Yeah? Well that's probably one of the things wrong with you. Shit ain't natural."
   "Maybe you should be calm."
   Cherno shook his head quickly, and looked back to Graven. "So here's what I got, and both are gonna require a far amount of luck. First option: classic distraction. Aura here is no stranger to wrecking some havoc. Or maybe one of your boys can do it. Whatever generates enough commotion so some of those damn guards have to respond. Got two doors on the church, so all but one of us feint an attack through one, and the last guy slips in the other door, grabs the dagger, and then we all leg it as fast as we fucking can in the chaos."
   Cherno scratched his chin. "Second option. I didn't happen to see any of the priests you said would be there, so maybe...just maybe...they haven't arrived yet. Fashionably late or some shit. If that's the case, we could intercept them. Stall them. Whatever to buy time. Just need your man there," he pointed at Orson, "to hand over those priest robes he's wearing. You know, to one of us who isn't gonna get all queasy and shit around that Adhara. Our 'priest' goes in, puts on a believable act, then spouts some shit about needing to take the dagger elsewhere. Yeah, they might want to escort our guy, but...fuckin' armor is heavy. They'll get tired of chasing him sooner or later."
   That was that. Best spur of the moment plans he had. "You got any other bright ideas, I'm all ears."

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2017, 08:18:16 AM »
Graven raised an eyebrow at Aura. Once again this girl talked about killing mordecai as casually as if they were ants to be stepped on. Either she was insane, or he would have to be very careful about not provoking her.
Cherno's plans were good, for an on-the-fly situation. To be honest, Graven hadn't even considered using Orson's priestly robes to sneak in. This thief was smarter than Graven gave him credit for. "It's probably best to leave your first idea as plan B," he said dryly. "A direct assault would be dangerous, and we would only get one shot. In which case, sneaking in is the best option. As for the candidate to do the sneaking, well..." Graven shrugged. "The priests are all male. My men are out, as you say, and they have ways of detecting mages, so..." he and his men all turned to Cherno, the implication in his words clear; the thief was the only good option.

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 10:26:02 AM »
   The realization slowly dawned on him as Graven and his men all looked at him.
   "Hey, uh, you know, well...fuck it does have to be me, doesn't it?"
   Smooth talking his way past a couple regular guards? That was Cherno's element. Shit, that was practically the definition of smuggling to him. But this again? This going straight into the hornet's nest thing? Goddamn it, how did he keep ending up in these situations?
   He glanced down at Aura. Hmm. Funny enough, these situations never started happening until little miss pasty-face showed up. Go figure.
   But that hardly mattered now. He was already knee-deep, so he might as well get it over with.
   Cherno laid his hands on her shoulders. "Okay. Aura. Listen to me. You need to be ready to cause a distraction if something goes bad inside the church. I need you to do whatever Graven says, alright?"
   She flicked her eyes up at Graven, then back to Cherno. "I will."
   Thank fucking Ansgar. Cherno breathed a sigh of relief, then waved for Orson to follow him. He walked a bit further into the alley, saying, "Come on, friend. Let's do this quick."

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2017, 12:25:17 PM »
Great. Now Graven got to play babysitter with the pale child. He rolled his eyes, but nodded his assent at the suggestion. He met Aura's eyes, wondering exactly how much trouble this little girl would be. She certainly didn't seem to have a problem with back talking her companion. "So, aura," he said, leaning against the wall. "How exactly does a girl like you end up in the criminal underworld?"

Orson made his way back into the alley with Cherno, out of sight of the main road. Stripping off his cloak, he removed his robes, leaving him in an undershirt and pants, and held out the disguise to the thief. This close to the man, Cherno might notice the slight glaze over the priest's eyes, and the complete lack of emotion on his face.

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2017, 06:48:13 PM »
   Nine times eight is seventy-two.
   Aura studied the man. Graven. Quick flicks of her eyes. To his feet. Hands. Waist. Hairline. Finally cared to take notice of the details since the tavern. He talked like one of them. Acted like one of them. The rich. The noble. Like Pritchard.
   The men she despised.
   Strange, then, that he would be here. Doing this. With them. Noble, in a sense. And yet not. Like he once was. Didn't look it anymore. Something gone now. Maybe.
   A question. From him.
   Six times ten is sixty.
   Aura tilted her head. Just looked at him.
   Then said, "Cause and effect."

   Cherno pulled his tunic off over his head.
   Damn, this Orson fellow looked dead. Graven didn't seem like that bad of a boss. How soul-crushing was this guy's job anyway?
   "No offense, but you look like shit. Maybe you and your boys oughta take a vacation after we get Graven's dagger back. Dump some of that stress, man. It works wonders."
   Cherno exchanged his tunic with the man, and said as he started to put on the robe, "Shit, I hope this isn't too tight on me."
   Fortunately, they weren't trading skin-tight thief's outfits, and the loose robes fit well enough. Maybe don't move the shoulders too much. Just to be safe.

   Cherno walked back up to Graven. Couldn't help but to crack a slight smile as he eyed him and Aura. Now she'd be his problem for the next thirty minutes or so. Guess everything had an upshot to it if you looked hard enough.
   "What do you think?" Cherno said to the man, holding his arms up to his sides. "Passable?"

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2017, 06:59:17 PM »
Graven raised an eyebrow at the girl. "I see. Well, I'm not one to pry into another;s business. Keep your secrets if they;re so important to you." He turned his attention to the thoroughfare, making sure that no one lingered near them for too long. His second bodyguard mostly kept an eye on Aura, one hand resting casually on the pommel of his flintlock.

Orson fixed Cherno with a stare as he made his remark. "Don't think that the fact that you're working for Graven for the moment exempts you from suspicion, thief," he said. "If you betray us, it doesn't matter how many mordecai surround you. I will kill you." Apparently the bodyguards weren't above mother-henning their employer.

When Cherno emerged, Graven nodded. "It'll get you past the door, at least," he said. "I hope your boss offers hazard pay for this kind of thing." He glanced at the church and pursed his lips. "You probably don't know much about how the clergy act. It might be best if you've taken a vow of silence. Extra holy and everything, right? And you don;t have to worry about messing up."

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2017, 10:38:02 AM »
   "Awful," Aura said.
   Cherno pointed to Graven. "I was asking him!"
   And the man gave his opinion. Well, at least Cherno didn't look too goofy or out of place. He personally hadn't seen any priests his size before; they were usually an average or short-sized lot. Ah, he ought to be fine. Hopefully. Just stick to the rules of blending in: look the part, and act like you belong there.
   "Hazard pay? I fuckin' wish."
   "He'll pay me extra," Aura said flatly.
   Cherno glared at her. "You tryin' to get a rise outta me?"
   A second passed. "No."
   Then Graven had an excellent idea, and Cherno brightened up again. "Hey, now that's not half bad there, friend. Good thinkin'. Truth be told, I don't go to Church as much as I should, so I probably would've fucked something up if they started hammering me with questions in there. Yeah, good to have that worry off my shoulders."
   Cherno took in a deep breath. Let it out. "Alright. Here goes nothin'." Then he snapped a quick glance to Aura. "Do what he fuckin' says. Got it?"
   "Yes."
   "You better. It's my ass on the line in there."

   Cherno approached the church from the street. Frankly, he was a little glad to be the one going in. Got a few minutes free from Aura, and some distance between him and Orson. That guy was something else, alright. More like a pet alligator than a servant to Graven. Just something real creepy about him too. His whole demeanor. Like Aura, but worse somehow.
   Right. Act the part.
   So, vow of silence. Extra holy. Monk-like? How did monks act? He'd seen some. Once. Passing by a remote monastery out in Sirantil. Oh yeah, they did this thing with their sleeves.
   Cherno put in his hands inside his sleeves, hiding them. He lowered his head some. As if in some kind of contemplation while walking.
   He saw the two guards—why'd it have to be Mordecai?—standing by the front doors of the church out of the corner of his eyes.
   Cherno walked up to them, and stopped. Looked at them both. Took his right hand out of his left sleeve and ran his pointer finger across his mouth. It felt more like an awkward 'shush' motion than conveying a vow of silence. Hopefully it didn't look too dumb to the guards.
   Then he pointed at the door. Waited with bated breath.

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2017, 11:03:38 AM »
The mordecai tensed slightly as Cherno approached, although they bowed their heads respectfully. "Father," one of them said. "Have you come for the artifact?" At Cherno's strange gesture, he frowned slightly, brow furrowed with confusion. For a moment it seemed that his ruse was going to fail. Then the other mordecai cuffed his partner on the shoulder. "He's taken a vow of silence, idiot," he said. "Please, father, go right in. Ansgar be with you." Apparently that mordecai was a better churchgoer than his compatriot. The two men stood aside and allowed him to enter the church.

Graven crossed his arms and watched Cherno make his way over. It was a relief when the ruse seemed to work, and Cherno was allowed inside. "Looks like your friend isn't going to be hanged for impersonating a holy man quite yet," he said in an offhand remark to Aura.

Offline Valtxr

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2017, 09:12:08 AM »
   Holy shit, it actually worked.
   And Cherno could feel those exact words dancing around on his tongue, begging to be said aloud. He pursed his lips, kept them tight and shut. Less than a minute in, and this vow of silence thing was already proving to be tougher than he thought. Hell, Aura could've done it no problem, but Cherno...now he was realizing that he ran his mouth too much.
   He pulled open the door. Entered the church.
   Certainly wasn't bigger on the inside like some of the other churches around Reajh. Small community place. Those other Mordecai were standing around the pews, the windows. Ansgar's mercy, being a guard had to be so incredibly boring. Like traveling from one city to another for a smuggling job, but you had to stand in a one spot instead. Not even the slowly changing scenery to keep you entertained. What a life.
   Cherno walked up the middle aisle, his head bowed and hands in his sleeves. Holy-like. Hopefully.
   The redhead knight with the expensive armor had to be the leader. Stood out too much not to be. Unless she was just another Mordecai who happened to have a rich mommy and daddy, but what were the chances of that?
   Cherno approached her. Stopped. Lifted his head some, as if returning from deep contemplation in his mind. Smooth move.
   Damn, she was actually really tall up close. Especially for a woman.
   Quiet. Quiet. Keep it to yourself. Vow of silence, remember?

   "He won't be," Aura replied.
   Cherno disappeared for a moment inside the church. Hard to see him in there through the windows. Bad angles. Short glimpses.
   She lifted her hood up over her head. Straightened out her hair.
   Eleven times five is fifty-five.
   An urge. To just march forward and crush the hearts of those holy men. To feel it in the palm of her hand. The quick release of life. Frail mortality. Worthless men. Deserving.
   But Cherno had said no. Not yet.
   She glanced up at Graven. Then at the church.
   Had to listen to this man. With the eyes.

Offline HighLordMhoram

Re: Abstraction (M)
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2017, 11:01:12 AM »
Helena turned from the altar as she heard a new set of footsteps enter the small church. A priest approached down the center aisle, his hands tucked into his sleeves, his head bowed as if in contemplation. At last, she thought. She and her men had been kept waiting for more than an hour past the appointed time, and she was eager to hand the thing over so that they could get back to their work. Still, she waited respectfully as the priest approached, her hand resting casually, almost unconsciously on the pommel of her basket-hilted broadsword. "Greetings, father," she said, bowing her head as he lifted his own. They were of a height, which must have been unnerving given how massive the priest was. He probably wasn't used to meeting people, especially women, who didn't have to look up to meet his gaze. "We have been waiting for you. The artifact is this way, behind the altar. Allow me to show you." Turning on her heel, she went behind the altar and lifted up a small box. Handling it gingerly, she released the clasps on the side and opened it up.

Graven hadn't been lying about the blade's pattern. It was a blur of bizarre geometry that shouldn't logically have been able to connect, yet did so seamlessly. Within the chaotic pattern etched onto the blade were snatches of an order so profound that it was difficult to grasp. This was an object of strange and powerful magic, not meant for mundane hands. Helena looked at the thing with distaste. "How shall you handle this demonic tool, father? Would you like an escort back to the palace?"

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