The dark corner of the tavern had been claimed by a woman who sat within the shadows. No few people glanced her way to find disturbing and cold mismatched eyes watching them in return. And no few people muttered terms like 'assassin' and 'thief' under their breaths, then shot glances her way.
Satheers knew that she certainly looked the part that evening. Dressed in her traditional blacks that generally caused raised brows and seated comfortably in the corner shadows. She didn't care that much though, let them whisper, they didn't miss their mark by too much, though any that dared name her either of those things to her face would have met the sharper side of her tongue, and probably the sharper side of a blade. She was a mercenary and a shadow runner, not a thief or assassin, though she often did their jobs. It left more than a little tension between runners and the other two.
Something stirred beneath the table and Satheers had a hand on the hilt of her sword, and the other moving to the back of her neck where she'd hidden one of many daggers before she realized that it was simply the black panther that she claimed the bond of. Mismatched eyes, the same as her own, looked up at her with more than a little amusement and the panther stood and stretched. With a shake of her head, Satheers reurned her hands to her lap and continued her survey of the tavern.
The panther sauntered out from beneath the table and seated herself beside the woman, her eyes half closed sleepily. The cat completed the ensemble. Between them, they made an interesting pair to say the least, and a dangerous looking one. That combination certainly tended to warn off some types of conversation, but it did attract some types. Satheers wasn't sure what type of conversation she wanted to attract that evening, or even if she really wanted to, but she was open to the workings of the fates. Maybe something interesting would pop up.
((posted as Dagen))
Dagen watched the woman for some time, listening to the words that floated around her as she sat ensconced in the shadows of the far corner. They weren't meant for her to hear, but Dagen was sure that her ear missed little of the whispers and suspicions that drifted about the room like a heavy smoke. Unlike the others, however, Dagen knew what she was. He took a heavy draw of ale and grimaced with the revelation. Shadow runner. Damned nuisance. He returned his tankard to the counter, staring into the dregs and exhaling in frustration. At least there'd be a reward for spotting her first.
He was about to leave, to rise from his stool and hurry back to the guild when the cat rose from its place of concealment beneath the table and sat beside its mistress. Its presence took Dagen by surprise. Shadow runners usually worked alone, unconnected to anyone, or anything. Intrigued, Dagen remained at the bar, ordered another ale, and began to consider new possibilities.
It took him the better part of that ale and another before he garnered the resolve to approach the woman and her strange companion, making sure to catch her attention as he wove a path through the crowded and scorn-filled room towards her table. It wouldn't do to surprise one like her, at least not given the subject he planned to discuss.
The panther yawned expansively, rather clearly expressing her opinion of the evening so far. Satheers shook her head and reached a hand down to scratch behind of the cat's ears. Great cat she might have been, but she had never turned down a good scratch before. She was just starting to get to enjoy it thoroughly, eyes half closed in pleasure, when the hand stopped moving.
Satheers missed the reproachful look shot her way by the panther, her eyes watched someone else. A man was approaching the table, and there was not much chance in mistaking the fact of where he was heading. Satheers frowned slightly, but resumed the scratching she'd left off, though not entirely for the benefit of the panther. She turned her attention to another corner of the inn, still watching the man out of the corner of her eye. She had no clue what he wanted, especially with her, but it could prove interesting...
((posted as Dagen))
Dagen studied the woman carefully as he approached, her lithe frame, dark hair, and faded scars, but nothing told so much about her as her eyes, cold and mismatched. Some might call them soulless, but Dagen had another word.
She was new in the city, of that much he was certain. Still, it didn't mean that she had no allegiances. Runners could work for anyone.....individuals, guilds.....he'd heard of a few monarchs who weren't above dealing in the shadows.
As he drew closer, her eyes briefly met his, and though she looked away, he knew that he still held her attention. Stopping before her table, he waited for her to face him again, then took his own feigned survey of the room, noting the dark and scornful stares fixed upon the woman and her companion. "For someone who hides in dark corners, you certainly attract your share of attention." He nodded toward the chair across from her, and when she made no objection, he spun it around in one smooth motion and sat down, propping his arms on the backrest. "Tell me," he asked with a roguish grin, "is it deserved?"
Satheers turned her head to watch the last few steps that he took to the table, then waited while he glanced over the room. As he turned back, she folded her hands in her lap, leaving off scratching the panther's ear. The cat stood and stretched, making an obvious show of the movement, claws fully extended and a wide yawn fully showing a powerful set of teeth. Perhaps it wouldn't intimidate teh man, but it had never hurt in the past.
"For someone who hides in dark corners, you certainly attract your share of attention. Tell me, is it deserved?"
An' 'o, sir, said tha' I was 'idin'? She lifted a brow, her expression bored, though she was far from it, curious and a bit uncertain, but that didn't show through in her expression. The kind o' attention I be gettin' be deserved, aye. If'n I 'ad wished ta nae recieve it, I would nae be 'ere. A smirk crossed her features. An wha' does it matter ta ye?
(posted as Dagen)
The cat's display of tooth and claw wasn't lost on Dagen, and though he was pleased that the creature deemed him worthy of such a show, he found it a bit preemptive. The woman's smirk, however, was a different matter, suggesting a casual confidence which Dagen thought well-suited her.
"An' 'o, sir, said tha' I was 'idin'? The kind o' attention I be gettin' be deserved, aye. If'n I 'ad wished ta nae receive it, I would nae be 'ere. An wha' does it matter ta ye?"
He let his smile fade until only the smallest trace of amusement was left, and spread his hands in a manner suggesting possibility, before bringing them together again to rest on the back of the chair with laced fingers. "Oh," he began, staring squarely into the woman's eyes, "just that I might be looking for someone with certain . . . skills . . . provided that those skills are sharp and that their owner is for hire."
Once more her hand returned to scratch the panther behind one ear, the movement more habit than anything else. The panther placed her head on one knee, eyes still on the man, though half closed in contentment.
"Oh, just that I might be looking for someone with certain . . . skills . . . provided that those skills are sharp and that their owner is for hire."
The bored expression slipped away and she leaned forward slightly, interest betrayed by the small movement. One hand brushed a bit of hair out of her face, then came to rest on the table top as she carefully considered the words. Which skills would ye be interested in, sir? She tipped her head to the side. I kin garuntee ye tha', should the price be right, they be nae dull.
(posted as Dagen)
He watched her slide a telltale hand down to stroke the panther at her side, surprised by the cat's response as it laid its head on her knee. The movement between the two wasn't dissimilar to that of a small child petting a kitten, but the overall effect was entirely different. The cat's eyes, though half-closed remained focused on him, and so did the woman's. She tried to feign boredom, but Dagen knew her kind. Their faces betrayed little of what worked in their minds, and often what passed as boredom disguised a keen wary. His suspicion was confirmed with her reaction to his introduction, and as she leaned forward, her eyes sharpened along with her tone.
Which skills would ye be interested in, sir? She tipped her head to the side. I kin garuntee ye tha', should the price be right, they be nae dull.
"Which skills?" he asked with a dry chuckle, bringing a hand to his mouth to conceal his growing amusement. "Oh, the ones that go along with all the stares and names that followed you to this corner. You see," he began, lowering his voice and shifting forward in his chair, bringing himself closer to her, "I've lost something. Something rather valuable, and I need help getting it back."
She had the distinct impression that the man was amused by her interest. It had been a long time since anyone she dealt with on the subject of her 'skills' had even thought to be amused by her. Then again, most of those that hired her were not the types that one found in a tavern such as this. The smirk was easily thrown out to listen, and just as easily replaced with a small frown.
"Which skills? Oh, the ones that go along with all the stares and names that followed you to this corner. You see, I've lost something. Something rather valuable, and I need help getting it back."
One brow lifted and the smirk was back, almost condesending, but not quite, she didn't want to make this one mad, he might prove more dangerous than most or perhaps no more than any other. Still, it didn't pay to scare off a possible employer if he was truly interesting. I vera much 'ope tha' ye do nae want me chasin' across the city after some trinket tha' ye've lost. There be other people tha' will do tha' fer less than I'd charge ye. She doubted very much that was it, what skill was required in that? Now, if'n ye 'ave somethin' a bit more on me level, then spill it, I do nae 'ave all night ta listen ta 'ints an' clues an' guess wha' it be tha' ye 'ave lost.
((posted as Dagen))
I vera much 'ope tha' ye do nae want me chasin' across the city after some trinket tha' ye've lost. There be other people tha' will do tha' fer less than I'd charge ye. Now, if'n ye 'ave somethin' a bit more on me level, then spill it, I do nae 'ave all night ta listen ta 'ints an' clues an' guess wha' it be tha' ye 'ave lost.
So she wanted to be direct. He liked that. Mind games were not his first choice. He found their subtleties both cumbersome and annoying, and, whether true or not, it pleased him to think that she was of a like mind.
"No, it's not simply a matter of a mislaid trinket, I'd hardly waste your time and skills on such an affair. I was in possession of a certain ..... item." He smiled as if to offer slight apology for his vagueness. Dagen may have believed in being direct, but even he wasn't foolish enough to reveal too much too soon. "But, as you may or may not be aware, Stormpoint is not the most secure of cities. Strangers arrive every day," he paused to give her a knowing look, "and even some of the residents are less than trustworthy. Well, be it stranger or citizen, someone with a skilled hand managed to make away with this item. I don't know who the thief was, but I know who hired him, or her," he added hastily over an impish grin , "and I know who has the item now. This person, however, has some degree of reputation within the city, so any public claim I might make would surely fail. So, what I'm looking for, is someone who can help me retrieve the item in a more .... surreptitious manner."
"So, what I'm looking for, is someone who can help me retrieve the item in a more .... surreptitious manner."
Satheers considered this, a small frown on her features. She disliked it greatly when people failed to give details that could very well determine whether or not she accepted. Some degree of reputation could mean just about anything from a minor shopkeeper to the queen. As for the item in question. That too could be just about anything. Still, it spoke well enough that he didn't blurt out details, irritating though that was. She let her silence stretch for a moment or two longer to give her time compose her questions.
I do 'ope tha' ye intend ta give a bit more infermation than tha' if'n I were ta be interested. One brow lifted slightly. I would 'owe'er need ta know more befer I could accept er decline. Understand, I do nae spread word o' those tha' be employers er spoke with me about work. That was one of her larger points of pride. She'd never told of someone else's business. MoonHunter blinked up at her and she felt the brush of the panther's mindvoice. Just ask him directly exactly what he wants you to do, Night. Make life simpler. Satheers glanced down at the panther and shook her head, forgetting for the moment that shaking her head at the panther might seem a bit odd since the man hadn't heard Moon and had no reason to believe that she was anything other than a large pet. I could always ask him, Night. He doesn't even have to be able to speak with his mind.
Satheers tightened her fingers on the scruff of the panther's neck. Much as she would have liked to take the panther's advice, she wasn't going to make herself a target by getting too much information if she had to decline, many didn't believe that she kept her mouth shut. Her eyes returned once more to the man across from her. So, kin I git anythin' a bit more specific than tha' bit?
((posted as Dagen))
"I do 'ope tha' ye intend ta give a bit more infermation than tha' if'n I were ta be interested," she answered, raising one brow slightly.
He waited patiently as she continued and tried not to raise a brow of his own when she shook her head at the large cat by her side and tightened her hold on its neck, suggesting a mind bond with the creature. It was nothing unusual for Stormpoint, for few things were unusual in a city where the dead ruled the living, but for a shadowrunner, he found it odd . . . odd, but promising. More than a few possibilities ran through his mind as he watched and waited for her to look up from the panther and continue their conversation. He had discarded most of them when she finally spoke again.
"So, kin I git anythin' a bit more specific than tha' bit?
She wanted more information. Fair enough, she'd need to know more to do the job. But Dagen would need to know more as well before he risked his own neck by sending her into a situation beyond her capabilities. He glanced about the room as he decided how much to tell her, and noticed that more than a few eyes darted away as his gaze fell across them. Turning back to her, he responded, "All right, but not here. It isn't safe." He tossed a few coins on the table, then rose from his chair without further explanation, extending his hand towards her in what appeared to be an uncharacteristic gesture of civility, "Care to join me for a walk?"
Satheers waited as his glance took in the room and she followed it, then back to the table quickly.
"All right, but not here. It isn't safe."
She nodded. O' course... She glanced back around the room and stood, the proffered hand studiously ignored. MoonHunter watched her with a cattish grin, then stretched lazily with an expansive yawn. Sath eyed the coins on the table, mentally tallying them, then she nodded to herself.
"Care to join me for a walk?"
If'n I care ta learn more, do I 'ave a choice? A brow lifted and she shrugged. O' course, lead on, my friend. MoonHunter had aready darted ahead and out through the slightly ajar door with the last comment thrown back to Satheers that she'd keep watch.
((posted as Dagen))
"All right," Dagen said at last, deciding to give her a bit more information, "but not here. It isn't safe." He tossed a few coins on the table, then rose from his chair without further explanation, extending his hand towards her in what appeared to be an uncharacteristic gesture of civility, "Care to join me for a walk?"
"If'n I care ta learn more, do I 'ave a choice? She shrugged and raised a brow, accepting his offer, but refusing his hand. O' course"
She rose from the table in a smooth, fluid motion, and followed the great cat as it padded through the common room. Her refusal was a source of great amusement to Dagen, and the smallest traces of a wicked smile flickered across what he believed to be cunning features. She missed the expression, however, heading toward the door without bothering to look back ........ a brave move. He followed quietly, after pocketing two of the coins he had dropped on the table, and met her outside the tavern, pleased to see that the cat was nowhere in sight.
It was a warm night, thick with a moist fog that slickened the streets and threatened the steps of the unwary. "Follow me," he said brusquely, and headed off into one of the denser patches of grey. He led her past the more populated portion of the city until the sounds of the inns and taverns were gone, replaced by the lapping sound of the waves as they beat against the docks and the steady peals of the buoys. The fog was heavier here, and it carried the pungent smell of salt and sea.
The setting was almost peaceful except for the mounting tension that hung in the air, thick as the fog. The former was soon broken, however, as two men stepped from the latter and barred their path. They didn't attack, but advanced slowly. The attack came from their three comrades who had stepped up behind the pair in swift silence. One dealt Dagen a crushing blow to the back of the head, and he fell limply to the ground where he stood, blood running from the open wound onto the street in a steadily growing pool. With one of their targets down, the attackers turned on the remaining quarry, and closed in on Satheers.
Satheers paused once outside the tavern to look back and wait for the other to emerge. MoonHunter had disappeared into the shadows with a single, jovial remark that she ought to enjoy herself, the panther would keep watch. One of these days, the cat was going to get herself into trouble.
She shrugged slightly and followed, choosing where her feet landed carefully on the slick streets, though she moved at an easy pace. Mismatched eyes absently scanned the fog, more out of habit than an actual fear. Most theives tended to prefer to attack people who were unarmed. A vague frown crossed her features as they started moving out of the more populated area, though it shouldn't have surprised her, and it didn't too much, but it did bother her for some reason that she was unsure of.
As they approached the docks, she felt the familiar itch between her shoulder blades that had the rather fortunate tendency to warn her of danger. This once, she ignored it, placing the blame on her companion's presence rather than an ouside source. Her right hand, nevertheless, drifted to tap the hilt of her sword, just to assure herself that it was there befre the hand dropped back to her side.
Then two men stepped in front of them and Satheers very nearly cursed herself for being stupid. Her hand slipped to the hilt of her blade and she raised a brow at the pair. they hadn't bothered to attack, though, but she was carefully setting up a shield around her mind that would prevent MoonHunter from realizing what was happening if an attack came. Let the panther scout the area and keep anyone else from slipping up.
The process took no time at all, but as she finished, she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye and spun in time to see Dagen crumple from a blow dealt his head. This time she did curse. At least they hadn't struck her... Why hadn't they? Later... She shoved the thought from her mind and turned her full attention to the attackers. Too bloody many of them.
First, even the odds... She jerked her hand away from the hilt of her blade and flicked both hands, dropping a dagger into each. Old trick, but a good one. The first dagger left her hand without thought and the second one followed almost immediately. She didn't wait to see if they landed, the aim was true, she couldn't do anything about it if they moved. Her fingers closed around the hilt of her sword and the blade rasped free of its sheath, moving smoothly into a lunge for another of the attackers.
The first dagger struck slightly off-target, but embedded itself to the hilt in the attacker's chest. The blow was so sudden he didn't realize he had been hit at first, and he advanced another step before the searing pain in his chest reached his mind and he fell to his knees and began to sputter a steady stream of blood.
The second victim wasn't so lucky, for the second dagger struck true, lodging itself in its the attacker's throat. Wide-eyed with fear he clawed at the blade, managing at last to reach the steel with a blood-soaked hand. It was too late, however, and as he fell lifeless to the fog-slickened street a terror-filled gurgling rasp was all that marked his passing.
Three still remained and their feral eyes burned with vengeful hate for the woman who had felled two of their number and for her companion who still lay bleeding on the street below. One broke from the others and moved to stand over Dagen, spitting once on the motionless form before driving a steel-toed boot into his side. Satisfied when the crumpled form neither moved nor groaned, the man stood over Dagen and waited for his two companions to deal with the woman.
The fallen bodies of their companions should have served as warning, but the two advanced with steady overconfidence, taking long and even strides as the torch light glinted off drawn blades and narrowed eyes. They struck together, having little need or care for such ephemeralities as honor, and their blades fell at a blinding speed. The woman parried them both, her own blade long and merciless, and she caught them off guard, allowing her to send one stumbling to the ground as his legs buckled beneath the force of a sweeping kick to his knees. She dispatched the other as the first lay stunned on the street, her sword slicing cleanly through muscle and sinew and nearly cleaving the man's arm from his side. Bested and in shock, he stumbled from the fight and fled into the fog engulfed shadows. A thick trail of blood followed him as he left, a trail that would doubtless draw some of the city's darker inhabitants.
The final two were either less foolish or less brave than the rest and they scuttled away from the dark-clad woman, leaving her alone in the alley with her unlikely companion who still laid unconscious and bleeding at her feet.
She watched the last two flee and didn't move for a long moment after they disappeared to make sure they weren't coming back immediatly. As she bent to wipe her blade clean on the shirt of one of the fallen men, she opened her mind to MoonHunter once more. It took less than a second to convey what had happened and the panther started heading back. Sath straightened and sheathed her blade, only then moving to kneel beside her fallen companion.
She raked her fingers back through her hair, lips pursed into a thin line. The thought of just leaving him occured to her when she considered the fact that any city authorities might not be pleased with the fact that there were three bodies on the ground and another unconcious. With a mild shrug she turned her attention onto her companion. MoonHunter stepped up alongside of her, eyes half lidded. You, Night, need to learn that I can help you.
Satheers glanced at her and shrugged again. Keep watch, cat, I'll see if'n I kin nae git 'im ta wake up, aye? MoonHunter stretched lazily, then sauntered off, as bidden. Now, ye I do nae know wha' ta do with... Her eyes rested on her companion. She didn't have anything on her for tending wounds, she didn't normally expect to need them.
She reached behind her and pulled a small vial out of one of the pockets sewn into her cloak. She eased the top off of it and waved it under her nose long enough to catch the faintest whiff and jerked her head away. Well, if it was possible, then smell of that ought to wake him up enough to get him somewhere where his head could be looked at. With a muttered prayer to any god that might be listening for luck, she held the vial under his nose. She hoped he wasn't too far gone.
((posted as Dagen))
He coughed and snorted simultaneously, opening his eyes enough to see the woman standing above him with the foul smelling vial and gathering enough strength to push her hand away. Groaning in both pain and now nausea, he touched a hand to the back of his head and winced when his fingers met the wet sticky tangle of hair and blood. It was a nasty crack, but Dagen had thick skull......both a blessing and curse, though he'd never admit to the latter.
Raising himself to a sitting position, he tried to stand, but was forced to fall back to the ground, jarring his head and causing the already mind-numbing throbbing to increase in both intensity and speed. Blinded by another thick blanket of pain, he sat motionless on the street with his head buried in one hand, vaguely aware of the small rivulet of blood that ran down his brow and mingled through his fingers as he waited for the throbbing to stop or at least subside long enough for him to get to his feet.
After a few moments the pain faded to the point of mere excruciation and he garnered the strength to open his eyes once more and survey the damage his companion had obviously wrought during his incapacitation. The scene which greeted his eyes was impressive, but it also meant that they couldn't stay long. The watch would be by soon and though they weren't the instigators their story might not be that convincing given that the only ones who could oppose it were either gone or lying dead and bloodied on the street.
Forcing himself to his feet and leaning quickly against one of the warehouses that littered docks, Dagen looked back at the woman who stood with arms folded in silent suspicion. He took a deep breath and let it out in a heavy sigh, blinking twice to clear his eyes and resisting the urge to shake his head. "That cat of yours picked a fine time to disappear." Nodding towards the two men lying lifeless on the ground and instantly regretting his decision, he added, "Grab your daggers and let's go. I know a place where we'll be safe, but I may need some help getting there."
Her look clearly showed that she didn't trust him and he would have thought less of her if she did. But she'd come this far and she was apparently willing to go a bit further before she washed her hands of the matter for she helped him from the wall and followed his directions, shouldering part of his weight as they weaved through a series of alleys and stopped at last before a small shop. The lanterns had burned low and the shop was closed, but Dagen opened the door with ease and stumbled across the threshold. The interior of the shop was near pitch, but the thick aromas hanging heavily in the air marked it as a tobacconist shop. Dagen led her through the darkened room without the aid of either light or touch and paused briefly before an unseen door against the back wall. He opened it with a steadier hand, having regained much of his strength now that the flow of blood from his head had finally stopped, and stepped into the complete darkness that awaited, only then striking a match against the roughhewn wall and setting it to the wick of a candle which he knew rested atop a high shelf.
The candle sputtered to life, chasing back the pitch of the room and filling it with vaguely shifting shadows as he removed the candle from its perch and carried it to a wobbly but serviceable table that rested against a side wall. Taking a seat at the table he gestured for her to do the same. She was clearly displeased by the situation, and he saw that she made careful note of her surroundings, particularly the exits, before crossing the floor with careful step, the cat treading silently at her side.
When she had seated herself across from her unchosen cohort, Dagen's lips curled in what might have been an attempt at pleasantly, but appeared somewhat ominous in the red-glow of the candle's flame as it rose from beneath his chin. "I don't think we'll be bothered here, and there aren't any prying eyes or straining ears to worry about. As I said, I have a job. There's an 'object' that used to belong to me and I want it back. A man named Digerian has it now and he's no easy target. His home will be well-guarded, I assure you. I think a know a way in," he paused meaningfully, "but it requires two people."
His eyes fluttered open and her hand was pushed away very shortly after the vial was placed under his nose. With anod of approval she recorked the vial and tucked it away again. He was awake at least. Pity, isn't it? The panther's mind voice held more than a trace of sarcasm as she once more slid into view and sat alongside Satheers. They exchanged glances, then Satheers settled her weight back on her heels and waited while the man recovered his senses enough to sit, then stand a moment later.
"That cat of yours picked a fine time to disappear. Grab your daggers and let's go. I know a place where we'll be safe, but I may need some help getting there."
After a moment's hesitation Satheers retrieved the daggers. Let's see, whose fault was it that the cat disappeared? Satheers glanced at the panther and shrugged one shoulder. There be only one mind reader, 'ere, cat. She rose, the daggers tucked away carefully, then moved to offer the support of a shoulder to her companion. If nothing else, she wasn't going to have one more body on her hands to explain when the pair that had fled identified her as the death of their companions.
She followed his directions through the series of alleys, lips pursed in a thin line with each command, but she followed the direction because she really didn't have much choice. Once those bodies were found, she needed to be well hidden, she doubted much that anyone would much care that she had killed what appeared to be thugs as soon as it became clear what she was. MoonHunter obeyed with even less grace, arguing strenuously against continuing and for leaving their companion to die. Satheers ignored it and eventually the panther quieted.
They finally stopped in front of a small shop and Satheers lifted a brow as the man stepped forward and opened the door, then stepped within as though he belonged there. Well, she'd seen odder things, like five thugs assaulting a pair on the streets without even stopping to demand money. It was a night for odd occurences. She paused before the threshold of the door, arms crossed as she waited for some sort of light. She had no intention of walking into some sort of trap.
She stepped within slowly, MoonHunter moving silently at her side like an odd shadow. She sat as bidden, one foot positioned just under the chair, resting on the ball of her foot and the other to the side, both to allow her to rise quickly if she needed to. If you don't mind, I think his foot looks like a good pillow. It ought to remind him who would win if he tried to turn on us. MoonHunter followed through with her words perfectly, waiting until he'd spoken before sauntering to his side and resting her chin on his foot.
"I don't think we'll be bothered here, and there aren't any prying eyes or straining ears to worry about. As I said, I have a job. There's an 'object' that used to belong to me and I want it back. A man named Digerian has it now and he's no easy target. His home will be well-guarded, I assure you. I think a know a way in," he paused meaningfully, "but it requires two people."
MoonHunter pointedly ignored, she nodded thoughtfully. 'O be this Digerian an' wha' kind o' trouble kin 'e git me inta? She paused, a frown forming on her lips. I do 'ope ye do nae intend ta make yerself tha' second person. I rarely work with anyone else, an' I ne'er do so when they be injured. The words accompanied by a pointed but unnecessary look at his bloodied head.
((posted as Dagen))
Dagen looked down to the cat as she rested her head upon his foot, and then back up at her owner, twisting one corner of his mouth in what was either amusement or annoyance. There was something unseen between the woman and the cat, though he couldn't say for sure what is was. One thing he knew though ...... the cat certainly wasn't subtle. Neither was its owner.
'O be this Digerian an' wha' kind o' trouble kin 'e git me inta? She paused, a frown forming on her lips. I do 'ope ye do nae intend ta make yerself tha' second person. I rarely work with anyone else, an' I ne'er do so when they be injured. The words accompanied by a pointed but unnecessary look at his bloodied head.
"Oh this?" He asked with oozing sarcasm as he raised a hand to his temple, "I've had nastier cracks than this, and I know a good healer. I'll be fine by tomorrow, in plenty of time. And yes, I am that second person. I know where the object is, and I don't trust anyone enough not to go in myself. As for getting into trouble, well, that only happens if we get caught, and that's not part of the plan."
He slid the candle to the table's edge and pulled a piece of parchment from an unseen pocket. His eyes never left her as he slowly unfolded the parchment and placed it on the table, smoothing its creases flat upon the hard surface. It was a map of Digerian's house and it included a description of the exterior and interior obstacles. He allowed her a chance to study it, then added, "As I said, I know a way in, but it takes two people. You look to be a likely candidate, but I want some assurance of your interest, and an idea of a price."
She nodded slowly, mismatched eyes dark. If'n ye look at all like ye still be sufferin' any ill effects, I will nae go in. The statement was, quite simply, redundant, like saying she wouldn't go in if she was injured, but it did need to be said to some. As fer gettin' caught, tha' ne'er be part o' the plan, but it 'appens, an' since I do nae know 'ow ye work, I do want ta know 'ow much o' me neck be at risk 'ere. She turned her attention to the map for a long moment, commiting the more important parts to memory, there would be time later to get the rest.
I be interested, an' e'en if'n I do nae do the job, I kin an' will keep me mouth shut about it, period. And that was the point that she built her reputation around when she'd started working. As ta price, tha' depends mostly on ye. Her attention shifted back to him, lips pursed in a thin line. I do nae like ta work with any but the cat, an' e'en she does nae usually work with me, I need ta know wha' it be tha' we be retrievin,' I need ta know exactly wha' be involved, an' I need ta know 'ow much ye be willin' ta offer. She leaned back in her chair and glanced down at the panther who seemed quite contently asleep.
One of the panther's eyes opened slowly. Comfortable foot. I like yours better, though. The corners of Sath's lips twitched upward slightly and she beckoned to the panther. MoonHunter rose slowly and stretched before sauntering the few paces that seperated them and restingher head on Sath's knee. Satheers looked up. An' the cat comes.
((posted as Dagen))
I be interested, an' e'en if'n I do nae do the job, I kin an' will keep me mouth shut about it, period. And that was the point that she built her reputation around when she'd started working. As ta price, tha' depends mostly on ye. Her attention shifted back to him, lips pursed in a thin line. I do nae like ta work with any but the cat, an' e'en she does nae usually work with me, I need ta know wha' it be tha' we be retrievin,' I need ta know exactly wha' be involved, an' I need ta know 'ow much ye be willin' ta offer.
The woman was beginning to annoy him and he half considered ending the arrangement then and there and making sure that she kept her mouth closed ..... permanently. True, he was injured, but he knew a few things about the room she didn't, and injured or not he knew he had the upper hand. But the cat .... the cat was another matter. And then there was the greed, the jealousy and the other overwhelming desires that burned like fire in the pit of his stomach and hungered in his coal brown eyes. Whatever he was after, he wanted it badly .... badly enough to continue with this woman despite his better judgment.
He leaned back in his chair and curled his lip in frustration then tried, belatedly, to make it appear a small grin. It didn't work. Dagen was clever in his own way, but he was far from polished and was not accustomed to dealing with others in a civil manner. "Well," he answered gruffly, "whether the cat comes or not is up to you so long as you can keep it out of trouble. As for what's involved," he leaned forward into the red glow of the candle, "you can see the defenses from the map. They'll be patrols here, here, and here," he gestured with a blood-encrusted finger, "and possibly here and here." He looked up and smiled mockingly at her expression. "I never said it was gonna be easy."
He took a few seconds to enjoy the look she returned. "What we want is here." He added, pounding his finger down on another portion of the map and sending small flecks of dried blood onto the parchment. He didn't appear to notice and, having made his point, he swept the map from the table and stuffed it back into his pocket after refolding it. "There's a new moon in two nights. That's when we'll go. I'll pay you 200 now, and 300 upon completion. Meet me by the graveyard at dusk. Anyone can tell you where it is. Oh," he added, as if an afterthought, "As for what we're after, it's a book," his face twisted into a smile, one that in the heavy shadows and the red glow of the candle took on a sinister quality, "a book of . . . ghost stories." Before she could react he blew out the candle and the room went pitch with the sudden scent of smoke. Instantly she reached for her blade, knowing that even as she did so, he was already gone.
She nodded slowly and almost absently to his words, storing the information away carefully in a corner of her mind to be retrieved at need. His annoyance was clear and she very nearly chuckled. It was the general reaction she got when someone worked alongside her.
"There's a new moon in two nights. That's when we'll go. I'll pay you 200 now, and 300 upon completion. Meet me by the graveyard at dusk. Anyone can tell you where it is. Oh," he added, as if an afterthought, "As for what we're after, it's a book," his face twisted into a smile, one that in the heavy shadows and the red glow of the candle took on a sinister quality, "a book of . . . ghost stories."
She started to nod, then the candle went out. Bloody... The curse died unfinished and she shoved herself to her feet, knocking the chiar backwards, her hand gripping the hilt of her blade. Even as she moved she knew that he was gone, Moon's quiet affirmation in the back of her mind didn't calm her much though. She released the hilt of her blade slowly, mismatched eyes scanning the darkness carefully as she eased a hand into a pouch. The found two vial by touch and mixed the contents into one of them. A soft glow formed and she shook it and the light increased as the contents mixed.
MoonHunter prowled the edge of the room, a low growl in the back of her throat. Satheers set the vial on the table and looked to the panther. Jist one run with 'im, Moon, tha' be all. The panther looked up at her, then padded towards her. I think we simply ought to kill him when we go. I don't like him. Satheers smiled slightly and set a hand on the panther's head. Neither do I, but I be curious as ta wha' this place be like an' wha' 'e wants with a book o' ghost stories. The panther's tail flicked. He was lying. Satheers lifted a brow and the panther added grudgingly. I think Sath shook her head and scooped up the vial, using her hand to block all but the tiniest bit of light as she crossed the shop.
MoonHunter followed behind her to the door and out into the night. Satheers closed off the rest of the light and led the way back to their inn. They had a lot of information to find out in the next two days.
((posted as Dagen))
Dagen was back by the docks. The smell of salt mingled with a host of other less pleasant odors in the thick fog that covered this portion of the city, but the twisted expression of anger on Dagen's face and the heavy step that carried him through the dank streets wasn't due to the assault on his senses. He had business to take care of. He stopped before one of the smaller warehouses and placed his ear against a door. The paint had been heavily eroded by the sea air and peeled off with his touch, sticking to his face in the dampness. Frowning in further disgust, he wiped the grime and pigment from his face and pressed his ear to the door again. It took him a few seconds to tune out the sound of the water as it hit against the docks below, but finally, he was able to discern two voices, two familiar voices, behind the door.
Sneering once again, he kicked the failing door open and took a step inside the building. To say it was a rats' nest would be insulting to rats. The building had long stood abandoned and parts of the tattered roof had fallen to the floor. Parts of the floor had likewise rotted though, leaving open holes and splintered floorboards as obstacles to any who attempted to cross. Refuse of unspeakable sorts and shattered glass from the windows also littered the sagging floor, and the later installed iron grates which covered the splintering window frames completed the ambiance of squalor and decay that permeated the structure. The only things that didn't look like they would fall apart with the next storm were a solid wooden table flanked by a handful of crates, ostensibly serving as chairs. Two men were sitting at this unlikely table, and with Dagen's entrance they immediately leapt to their feet. Their swords rang out through the silence that followed the sound of the breaking door, but they didn't advance, holding their ground against the intruder.
"Nice place ya got here." Dagen called out from the door. "Charming. I can see why you chose it. No one with half a brain would come here without a reason. Even the rats are too smart stay."
The two men glowered at Dagen's comments, but still didn't advance. Finally one of them resheathed his sword and walked to stand toe to toe with their visitor. "What in the bloody 'ell was that about, Dagen? The deal was fer you to bring by marks, not bloody assassins. She killed two men. Two. An' we still don't know where Tobin is. All we found was a great pool of blood at the end of the alley."
"Your concern for your comrades is touching," Dagen replied with a twisted lip and voice thick with sarcasm. "I can tell you're deeply pained by their loss. Want to cry for them a bit longer or shall we get down to business?"
The man turned away and led Dagen back to the table, but not before scowling at Dagen's smugness and spitting at his feet. Dagen choked back his response and followed him without a word, allowing his hand to slip slowly to hilt of his sword as he walked. The two men resumed their places at the table and waited for Dagen to do the same, but Dagen only placed on foot atop a crate and leaned against his knee, looking down at them. They were pathetic, but they had served their purpose and he dropped a leather pouch on the table between them. The pouch made a faint jingling sound as it landed and one of the men reached out and spilled the contents onto the surface of the table. His brow furrowed for a few seconds in concentration, then he looked back up to Dagen.
"Dagen this ain't bloody Fool's Day. Where's the rest of it?"
"The rest of it? The rest of it went to the healer to fix the crack your friend gave me."
"Ohh, poor thing? Got a headache? Two men are dead thanks to yer little friend and . . ."
"Look," Dagen interrupted, taking a step forward and leaning down until his face was mere inches from that of speaker, "how was I supposed to know you'd picked up two extras? If there were only three of you, like there were supposed to be, she might not have aimed to kill. I've paid you what I always have, less the healer's cost. Take it and be quiet."
"Ya know Dagen," the second man began in a tone that carried the cool confidence of a threat, "it seems to me that Striker might be interested in learnin' what you've been up to."
Dagen fell silent with the words and the color drained slowly from his face as he turned to look squarely at the weasel-faced man to his left. He simply stared at him for a moment as if he hadn't heard him correctly, as if he couldn't possibly have heard him correctly, and his face, though blanched became hard once more as the words flew from his lips in an incredulous tone. "If you go running to Striker, do you really think any of us are going to walk out of that room? You don't know the man like I do. You don't know what he's capable of. If he finds out we've been running an outside racket . . . " He paused, and the fear in his eyes was quite real as he continued with increased pace, "Do you know what happened to the last group that acted without his approval?" Neither man answered. "Well, neither do I! No one does! The last anyone saw of them they were walking back into the guild and headed for their rooms. The next morning they were gone! Vanished without a trace. Well, according to some stories, that is. According to others a few fingers were found in each of their rooms, but personally I tend to discount those. So if you know what's good for you, you'll take the money and keep your bloody mouths shut!!"
© 1999 Stormpoint Writers Guild
All rights reserved