But all things come to an end. Though history does not record the fall of its great civilisation, its repercussions are still being felt today. History became as myth, and the world was plunged into the Age of Darkness.
Now, in the Age of Discovery history is about to repeat itself.
(This RP takes place in the world of Altaea.)
- Typical forum rules apply. No Godmoding/explicit romance etc. You should know this by now.
- In the interests of progression and maintaining consistency as GM my word is law and all judgements are final.
- Character death is a possibility. If you don't want your character to die don't do stupid things.
- Magic is rare in Altaea. I will limit the amount of magic users in the RP according to my discretion.
- Feel free to introduce new NPCs, antagonists and side plots.
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These characters are currently marked as available. Why don't you consider viewing their profiles and making a decision on whether or not you can roleplay them accurately?
Music wrote:I would give this RP such a high rating even if I hadn't participated in it. You all have done a great job of both developing your characters spectacularly as well as portraying them in such a way. The plot is character-driven, but, at the same time, that makes it all the better. It allows characters to truly behave as they would in reality, rather than following a script. In addition, the options presented to the RPers in the OOC help move the story forward. The setting is well-developed and important to the characters and the overall experience. Meanwhile, posts are filled with interesting style and proper mechanics. The one piece of advice I could give is to break up longer paragraphs into shorter segments so that readers don't look at it and immediately stop trying to read under the 'tl;dr' mentality. All in all, an excellent RP, and I would highly encourage anyone who loves fantasy RPs to ask about application!
Tiko wrote:I found this RP to be quite well written. The posts were thoughtful, well done and assisted in furthering the story as a group. The characters themselves were well designed, providing insight into them as individuals, and they had distinct and identifiable personalities without dragging the story down. The plot is eye catching and serves to hook both the players and the readers in without revealing too much too early. The lack of full information leaves a reader or a player wanting to find out what happens next, and keeps the story moving forward. It creates depth and levels of information that you have to explore to discover. The included wiki provided plenty of background information into the world that was a nice added touch that assists readers in understanding what's going on, as well as provides information for players to build off from. The only thing I didn't give a max rating to was mechanics. While the posts very well done, and cleanly written, there were [i]many[/i] spelling errors that simply running posts through a spellchecker would have caught. Overall though, I found this RP to be very enjoyable to read through, even though I myself am not a player. It has a lot of promise, and I hope to see it continue to be a successful game for all involved.
View All »Available Characters
These poor, unfortunate souls were once a part of this great world, but have been abandoned. Why don't you consider viewing their profiles and making a decision on whether or not you can roleplay them accurately?
"I thank you, noble Orc." He said. "But I do not wish to seem rude by imposing on your company."
Vinsces studied the nimble young man curiously for a moment or two, and then let out a burly laugh.
"Bwahahaha! I don't understand fancy words, little one, but I do know you saved us a fight! We ought to be thankin' you! I agree with my humongous comrade here!" He slapped Osefi in the back once more. "I'm a spearman from Vorst, and we never forget to pay back debts owed!" He grinned at the young man again.
Highwind studied the giant for a moment, then bowed slightly.
"Very well." He agreed with a smile. "Provided none of your companions have any objections, I would be delighted to dine with your group tonight." He looked at the rest of the group. "By the looks of it, you have all seen battle recently. If you require treatment for your wounds, I have some humble knowledge of the healing arts."
"I'm fine!" Vinsces said, hitting his own chest heavily as if to prove his point. "It takes more than a couple of scratches to fell this giant. Bwahahahahaha!"
Jack Highwind nodded slightly.
"So I see." He agreed. "What say your comrades?"
"I think I've seen him somewhere before." He whispered, trying to place the man's face.
"Now you mention it I do recognise the name." Vincent added, stroking his beard in contemplation. "But he seems genuine enough. At the very least he hasn't attacked us yet!" He joked, nudging his armoured companion. At Jack's suggestion of a meal he threw open his arms. "I say that sounds like a fantastic idea! And I know just the place.." He waved his finger as he led the way down the wide paved avenue.
"That's what I'm worried about..." Caim sighed, following after the others.
On the ramparts above the city one of the guards slumped lazily against the wall, surveying the horizon with a bored expression. He raisedhis hand to stifle a yawn when a flutter of movement at the corner of his vision caught his eye. He turned his head to follow it but too slowly to catch Jade's flight over the wall. Seeing nothing the man was quick to brush off the sighting as the hallucinations of an exhausted mind. With a resigned sigh he returned to his patrol.
It was still early morning and the normally busy city of Northwall was oddly tranquil as merchants set out their wares along the wide streets. Vincent led the band through the tight, winding alleyways and down uneven steps that burrowed beneath the walkways and bridges of the labrynthine city. If one looked up one would see a skyline dominated by spindly and ramshackle looking towers and spires that seemed to lean over the streets precariously, threatening to collapse at the slightest wind. Many of the houses were skeletal, with rickety boards and wooden frameworks exposed to the elements. Evidently this was far from the most affluent quarter of the city.
After several wrong turns and a few heated words between Caim and Vincent the view opened out into a majestic view of the sea. The masts of vessels both large and small jutted upwards into the sky like a forest of bare trees in winter and gulls circled above, crying loudly with their shrill calls. A two storey inn that sat on the water's edge looking out over the harbour. A sign hanging over the street bore the name "The River of Beasts". Caim pressed open the door, which swung loosely on its hinges. Inside a few patrons slumped over the tables in a stupor, flaggons of stale ale still clutched in their hands from the night before. Any attempts by the serving girls to collect these mugs had been met with feral growls and much flailing by their owners. A few more sober individuals had taken to their bedrolls by the fireside for the night and a few of them stirred at the party's arrival.
"Greetings!" Came a slow drawl in smooth baritone. Behind the counter a powerfully built man with cropped grey hair and bandana was polishing glasses. He grinned at the group, revealing a set of silver teeth. The sleeves of his tunic had been rolled up to reveal heavily tattooed arms. "What can I do you for?"
Regardless of what she chose, the first step was finding some appropriate clothing: her flowing layers of desert garb were quite miserable in the humidity. With that thought in mind, she continued heading towards the port, since that's where the merchants were most likely to be. It took a while, navigating the maze of twisting streets and alleys, and she passed quite a few merchants along the way but it was apparently still too early for them to open up shop. Jade's stubbornly growling stomach reminded her that she couldn't remember when she had last had a solid meal, so she noted the location of the merchants to her mental map and left in search of food.
Jade wandered into an appropriately seedy place that had a sign saying... something (she couldn't read common) figuring that this would be the best test of the discriminating hatred that plagued her in the desert. Except for a few odd looks from the serving girls, nobody appeared to care about her appearance, which was a pleasant change, as was not being charged for the water she ordered while pretending to read the menu. Hopefully someone would come in and order something that sounded appetising. Her hopes were answered, though not in the way she had expected: just as she was feeling lucky, Vincent and his group, followed by Captain Highwind pushed their way inside. They had probably passed one another on the streets or in an alley and not realized it, and the only other table that wasn't occupied with a drunken or passed out patron was the one she was sitting at... which happened to have plenty of open seats surrounding it.
Jade muttered a few select curses in the Al Mayin desert tongue when she realized there probably wasn't a graceful way out of the situation, and instead tried to position the menu so it hid her face, but so she could still watch what the others were doing. Maybe they'd sit at the bar....
During the entry to the city, the guards eyed her carefully, but she was too tired to pay much attention to the negotiations with the guards or any newcomers. Instead, she focused on what her next move should be. After all, she was lost, crushed, cold and confused. Her guiding light - her mother and her troupe - was gone.
In addition, she was slowly coming to the realization that her leg was ruined. If the muscle hadn't been destroyed by the stab wound itself, then walking for an entire night on the wound, unbound for part of that time, had most certainly done it.
She could never be a dancer again.
Even her backup plans - whore herself out to the low men, or become a bar maid - were ruined. If she could barely walk, what man would want her? If she couldn't hold her own, what bar would hire her? These were her thoughts as she limped through Northwall, a little bit behind the group. There was something ominous about this city, something she couldn't place. The buildings, skeletal in appearance, closed in around the dark elf, and this frightened her.
Finally, they came to a stop. Viconia's heart sank when she realized that it was another bar. Another chance to be humiliated, and this time, she didn't even have the ability to defend herself adequately.
So she stopped at the door. She had no obligation to these men, and she needed to find another place. This was not the life for her. "I should be going," she said uncertainly. "Thank you all for your help; I would not forget it so soon."
And with that, the dark elf woman, beautiful and clad in a dark blue cloak, vanished into the early morning, limping away down the street.
"Excuse me for a few moments, gentlemen." He said to his new-found friends. "My eye was caught by an old friend. I should make arrangements for us to share table." With that, he approached the table, and bowed slightly to her.
"It's a surprise to find you here, Lady Tel'Hana." He greeted her politely. "Though I should have known a simple cage would not be sufficient to keep you secured. I do apologize about the rudeness we showed you on-board the Batavian. As it happens, we could not risk exposure should you have been an agent of the Law rather than a simple stowaway. I hope you can forgive me for mistreating you so." He bowed once more.
He held out his hands, and continued after her reply:
"As you can see, yours is the only free table on this beautiful morning. Would it be terribly bothersome if I and my new-found friends imposed on you with our presence? I would not let them suffer through eating by the bar among the drunkards. You may even enjoy their company. In exchange, and as an apology for the lack of hospitality and the mistreatment you received on-board the Batavian, let me pay for your food and drinks."
“Hell,” she sighed, letting the menu flop down on the table. “You didn’t bring me to Kishar to collect my bounty, so I suppose the least I could do is share a meal with you,” she said, managing a smile.
It was good that he offered to pay, since her plan had been to skip out on the check. Jade decided that particular nugget of information wasn’t necessary to share with the others. She pulled her glasses and scarf off to ease the misery a little, and looked up at them with her gem-like, pupil-less emerald eyes and slid the menu she’d been hiding behind into the middle of the table.
“As far as I can figure, you did me a rare favor: my people don’t make it out of the desert very often. It’s humid and miserable here, but I walked down a main avenue in plain sight and nobody tried to kill me. It was a very refreshing change of pace. Come-on, sit down, no need to be formal with me: I spent more than one evening caged up in your hold, which practically makes us married!” Jade gave the captain a bit of a grin, then beckoned the rest of the group to come sit down.
"The River of Beasts" as the sign identified the borderline dilapidated bar, seemed a place their strange assortment wouldn't catch many second glances. At least not ones with ire or malice behind them. Besides, the massive orc still had yet to eat or drink anything since well before his initial arrival at the tavern which had started this whole adventure.His stomach roared angrily, easily audible to all those around him. So wrapped up was he in his hunger predicament that he scarcely noticed the dark elf make her exit leaving him as the primary "freak" of the group. As the orc dipped his head to enter he noticed that he was unlikely to catch any glaces at all, it seemed the party had ended less than an hour ago. Limp, alcohol addled bodies hung over tables, chairs, the bar itself, even the fireplace. In fact the only table both large enough for their party and free of drunkards was occupied by a sight Osefi had never dreamed he'd see here in Northwall. An Al Mayin.
It appeared their new companion Jack Highwind already knew of her, as he quickly sailed over to her, turning on the charm and once again smoothing any feathers that may have been ruffled. Upon the beckoning of the tall blonde woman Osefi approached, a wide broken grin on his features. He gave Highwind a quick glance before letting his coal colored eyes land on the woman. "In all my years of travel I have never heard of something so strange as an Al Mayin outside of the desert. I would think this humidity would make you feel as though you might drown." He reached out a single massive hand to the female in greeting "Osefi Meru. I spent much of my life in Kishar, nice to see a piece of home."
"And a bottle of unwatered wine." Vincent added casually as he followed behind.
The two of them were hardly shocked when Viconia made her exit. It had been obvious that she needed to be alone to collect her thoughts. She had been so quiet approaching the city that at times Vincent had wondered for her sanity. Little wonder, witnessing the loss of all she one held dear would be trying on the strongest of hearts. Still, she was gone before either of them had been able to utter a word of protest. Such a shame, Vincent mused somberly to himself.
"This round is on me everyone." The burly knight stated aloud. He was relieved to be in the relative safety of the city, even if one was more likely to get stabbed in the back here than in the wilderness, at the very least one could be relatively certain that the killer wouldn't be feasting on your carcass. Relatively certain. He slumped onto a stool which creaked loudly under the weight of his armour. He would remove it later, he thought wearily, after he'd hada drink to relax his aching muscles. He listened keenly to the conversation between heir new companion and his lady friend, though he made pains to appear to be minding his own business. He leaned over to Osefi.
"Did you hear that? Do you suppose he's some kind of slaver?" He asked suspiciously under his breath to the orc.
Still it was plain that his mind had not sagged with little sleep or other worries. There was the faintest air of apprehension directed towards their new companion Highwind. It wasn't hard to understand why one would be, especially as an honorable knight of the human order. The man was a pirate, that much was clear as the nose on his face, and he moved so seamlessly through obstacles it was easy to imagine a scary cunning mind hidden behind a friendly front. It was no surprise to the orc when Caim leaned to his ear.
"Did you hear that? Do you suppose he's some kind of slaver?" It was barely loud enough for Osefi to hear, he wasn't concerned of Highwind overhearing. Still it was something to consider. Beneath a sweat matted dred a single eyebrow cocked in the direction of the pirate. Dark eyes fell back to the desert girl, she didn't seem malnourished or parched of thirst. Quite the opposite. Though as Osefi knew, Al Mayin were known for their vigor and endurance.
Casually the orc leaned in, whispering a single word to the knight. "Ask."
"If we were married, my lady, I'm sure I would count myself very lucky." He replied. "That said, should you require passage back to Sarife, you need but ask. As it was the Batavian that brought you here, it would only be fair that she bring you back as well, should you wish for it. I shall arrange more comfortable quarters for you on the return voyage should you wish so." Soon, Jack's new-found companions arrived as well, and the knight declared the first round to be on him.
"That is very generous of you, Sir Knight." Jack Highwind said with a slight smile. "You do your Order honor by your generosity. As for me, I'd rather not drink this early in the morning, though the gesture is appreciated."
"Bwahahaha! I for one will hold you to that, brother!" The giant spearman said to the knight, slapping Caim heavily in the back as he immediately began to heave his first tankard. Highwind studied him curiously while, himself, only touching the food that was served, and confined himself to drinking water. Meanwhile, Vinsces threw a side-glance at Osefi and Caim, who were whispering in-between, though about what, the giant didn't over-hear. He placed his tankard in the air in front of them, and said: "This is a time for drinking, not talking! Bwahahaha! Cheers!"
Jack's attention was drawn from the burly giant human to the knight and the orc, who were whispering in-between. It didn't take a genius to figure out whom they were talking of. But the pirate was far too well mannered to interrupt or eavesdrop on their discussion, and so, it wasn't until the two looked at him as if to ask a question, that he turned his ears and eyes to the two.
Caim coughed into his hand, taking the moment to collect his thoughts.
"I've been wondering at something." He started, casting a glance between Highwind and the woman. "What is your relationship to this girl? From your comments to each other it sounds as though you are some kind of slaver and that this woman was one of your captives." Though slavery was far from uncommon in the world Caim found it unsavoury, something that was reflected by the distaste in his voice and sneer on his face as he mouthed the word 'slaver'. Slaves from Askara were a common sight on the streets of large cities and the houses of nobles in Ea, men and women who had been rounded up from their homes by conquerors and invaders from Ea or even by rival tribes and sold into captivity. And then there were the slaves of war, whose lands had been raided and pillaged in wars. Those unfortunate souls were often dragged back to their conqueror's homelands for cheap labour and god knows what else.
The accusation hung heavily in the air for a moment of uncomfortable silence. Vincent looked around at the bar and called to the serving girl.
"Could you hurry up with that wine please?"
“Slaver, most assuredly not, at least as far as I can tell. I was caught snooping amongst the crates in his hold looking for items of value to...” she paused, emerald eyes flicking from one member of the group to another with a suddenly suspicious gaze. She let the tunic flop heavily to the floor and sat back down, smoothing her hair with one hand and fanning herself with the one holding the pendant. “Inspect… “ she lied, rolling the pendant over her knuckles like an over-large coin and making it vanish with an open-handed gesture.
“For the tariff,” she continued, using the hem of the thin, white undershirt which left her taut belly exposed to blot the sweat from her brow with seemingly no concern for her modesty. “Anyway, since I wasn’t born with wings, I became trapped when his ship left without my knowledge. So rather than fight, I turned myself in and allowed them to put me in their ‘brig.’ When we landed, his crew graciously returned my belongings and set me free,” she lied again, unsure of the nature of the group. She knew Highwind was at least a smuggler, if not worse and it would have been unkind to just hand him to the authorities; honor among thieves and all.
“Had he brought me to Kishar, he would have collected the standard bounty and I would have been beheaded or worse, so I really am in his debt,” she finished, snatching up the tankard of ale that was left for her and draining the entire thing in one long draft and letting it thunk loudly back on the table while she wiped her mouth with her forearm. She let out a refreshed sigh and shook her head.
"You people must have gills, I can scarcely breathe."
"Oi, brother, that's not even funny..." He mumbled as he looked at Jack Highwind, and then back at Caim.
Highwind, however, didn't lose his posture.
"It's a fair question considering the circumstances." He said. "And I shall strive to answer it to the best of my abilities." He held out his hands calmly. "First of all, I am many things illegal - pirate, smuggler, bandit even, but slaver is not a word that holds place on my repertoire. I do not condone such actions, for they are unworthy of a gentleman. There is an exception, of course. In Sarife, many criminals are sold as slaves, as a form of sentence to repent for their crimes. I have, admittedly, been known to dabble in this in limited scale, by providing transport for such transactions." He lowered his head in a slightly apologetic nod.
"And as in regard to the lady, it is as she says." He added with a respectful nod to the beautiful woman. "She was a stowaway of sorts, and my men saw it necessary to lock her in the brig until we could confirm that she was no agent of the law, or an enemy searching to plot our undoing. There are many such people seeking to sneak on-board the Batavian to destroy us. As Her captain, I must do what it takes to safeguard Her, and Her crew." He added. "Even if it means behaving in such an un-gentlemanly fashion." He gave another apologetic lowering of his head towards the woman.
"I hope this have satisfied your curiosity, Sir Knight." He said to Caim. "It might not be an ideal answer, but then, what in this world is?" He studied the group, and then, after eying the orc, the giant human, and the knight in particular, said:
"I have answered your question, Sir Knight. I hope you will indulge me a question in return. You're a very interesting band of friends. A noble knight, a wizard if my eye does not lie to me, a deadly spearman from Vorst - I can tell, for I myself once called the region home - and a proud orc warrior from Sarife. What brings such an odd gathering of fine warriors together?"
"You see. I knew I'd heard that name before!" The magus piped up, wagging one finger excitedly. "His name must have been on a wanted poster somewhere." He leaned back in his seat with a self satisfied expression, apparently pleased that one particular mystery had been solved.
Caim however seemed less than pleased at this turn of events.
"How can you be so blase as to announce yourself as a pirate and outlaw in the company of strangers, much less without any sense of shame?" His voice tightened with apparent anger and he beat his fist against the table. Vincent now moved to intervene, fairly jumping between his friedn and their new acquaintance.
"Allow me to explain." He leaned forward over the table, leaving Caim fuming in indignation. "We were, all of us enjoying a pleasent evening in a tavern just outside the city limits when a young woman in distress appeared..." He began, at great length to recount the tale of how the group had raided the bandit camp and thwarted the evildoers and their nefarious plans, greatly exagerating his own part in the proceedings, of course. "And thus we have arrived here, to resume our drinking." Vincent concluded. "And on that note..." He lifted his mug to his lips and swallowed a mouthful of the wine. "Cheers!"
"Aah, it sounds as if you've had quite an adventure then, Gentlemen." Jack said. "My condolensces to your dead comrades. It is a difficult life to walk the path of heroes, and one that I would not dare tread myself. It can indeed come with a heavy price. Those of us left behind owes it to our fallen comrades to honor them in deeds as well as in words." When Vincent then raised his mug of ale, Highwind raised his own mug containing water, and said: "To those of your brave comrades who fell in battle tonight. May their spirits never grow short of glory and adventure where they now walk."
He sipped his water, and then added with a frown:
"It is strange, though, that bandits would organize and work in such a manner, and excel in such fanaticism as you describe. One such as myself might organize my crew and fellow pirates, but a sky ship is far different from bandits of the land below the clouds. On a ship, be it on land or in the skies, discipline and a certain degree of military rank is a necessity. Among bandits and highwaymen, such things are commodities, and rare ones at that. Far be it from me to assume knowledge of things I have not myself witnessed, but it seems to me that these men might have tried to appear as bandits, but might be something different altogether in actuality... Which, of course, begs the question - for what purpose?"
His eyes glimmered slightly with intrigue, and he added:
"Forgive me, friends. I suffer from a great weakness, an undeniable flaw in my character; I'm a lover of many things, and mysteries are one of those." Then he changed the subject, after eating some of his food, and receiving a sudden glimmer in his eyes, as if an idea had struck him suddenly. He spoke once more, with his slight accent edging his tone as he did: "Tell me, friends, what are your intentions in this beautiful city of Northwall? If you are as it seems, adventurers and searchers of glory, travelers if you will - would it be wrong of me to assume you are destined for the harsh land of Ignir?"
He thought for a moment, then added:
"Allow me to explain, gentlemen. My skyship, the beautiful Batavian whom I love dearly, requires fuel to sail the skies. What she requires is something called tinderstone, which is excessively difficult to acquire, even for a man of my own means. Unfortunately, my supply is running low, and I will soon find myself stranded, a curse that no captain should throw at his crew needlessly. This is why I came to Northwall, for one of the most reliable sources of tinderstone lies beyond this city, in the land of Ignir. It's a cold, harsh, and unforgiving land, but I have found the people there to be honorable, though admittedly, as unforgiving as the land they walk. And so I intend to venture into these harsh lands. I will ride on my Batavian for a while yet, before leaving her safe and travel alone by foot on this ragged patch of Earth."
He held out his hands.
"I would welcome company into such a lonely and frostbitten land, and what better than fascinating and brave men such as yourselves. That is, of course, should you not be too put off by my presence." He looked around at the group, and Caim in particular, who had already expressed his dislike for the man's profession, and then his eyes fell on the al-Mayin, and he added: "Naturally, my lady, you will be welcome on-board as well - and I shall personally make certain that your journey be more comfortable than the last time you blessed the Batavian's deck with your presence."
Jade tested every dish, trying to calculate how long each thing would keep on the road before she came to a realization: the familiar dunes of the desert were likely hundreds of miles across an ocean. Even if she decided to go back to Sarife, what would she do there? Would she continue to scuttle about the desert like a frightened rat, scavenging and stealing to survive while she was hunted by bandits, raiders, and bounty hunters? Assuming she could find passage, any self respecting boat captain familiar with the laws and customs of the desert lands weren’t likely to allow her on their boat, at least not as a free woman. She balanced a half-eaten roll on her fingertips with a neutral expression while listening to the group talk. It was the second time today that she came to the conclusion that this was not her home, and that her home had nothing to offer her. Jade felt like a fish foundering on the beach, and not just because of the humidity.
“I’ll go,” she said at the latest lull in the conversation. “Sarife has nothing to offer me but poverty and constant fear. However, I don’t know the land here so striking out on my own isn’t the intelligent decision; I could wander around for weeks and still not find another settlement,” she continued, dunking her bread roll into the broth of her soup and taking a bite from it.
“Your group has no lack of fine warriors, as I can see,” she noted, wagging the remains of her roll at the two hulking knights and the orc. “I’m no slouch with a blade, and I have other skills to offer: the quickest and safest path to the treasure isn’t always to smash through the door and slaughter everything on the other side.”
Jade left the fact that she was a telekinetic out, and that there were other, hidden, conditions to her coming along. Being the one able to unlock doors, disarm traps, and open mysterious chests meant she often got first pick at any valuable objects that were found. It was a natural benefit of having such skills, but she’d found that her intentions were often misunderstood as dishonest thievery… which wasn’t necessarily untrue. What the party didn’t know might leave them a little poorer, but wouldn’t hurt them.
Once they were out of earshot Caim muttered angrily to Vincent. "Are you seriously going to let that unrepentant scoundrel remain free?" He was gritting his teeth with frustration.
"Now Caim, You of all people should know that being an outlaw is no indicator of character." Veincent corrected the larger man, who seemed to shrink back from his indignant anger. It was certainly true that he had needed to put aside more... 'conventional' definitions of virtue when dealing with their comrades. Many of their acquaintences were to some degree involved in the criminal underworld.
"I suppose. I just don't like him." Caim snarled. "Men who try to talk smoothly are often up to no good. He reeks of falsehood." He shook his head as though to banish the memories of the pirate.
Back in the tavern those who had heard Jack's confession eyed the man warily. It was not a wise move to admit to a bounty on one's head when in Northwall, a place where bounty hunters and mercenaries congregated en masse. And while many of them were criminals themselves, the mercenary profession lent itself particularly well to hypocrisy. Several of the men seemed to be attempting to make estimations of the man's strength and skill based on his appearance and behaviour. Others were shifting the hilts of their weapons nervously in their hands, fondling pommels and scabbards between gnarled and calloused fingers.
A grey cloaked woman burst through the door of the tavern, knocking past Jack and the others on her way into the back of the room.
"Until the day we meet again, then, friends." He lowered his head in a farewell to the two. Afterwards, he began to notice a slight anxiety in the rest of the patrons in the tavern, some of whom were waking up from their stupor-induced slumber, and others who had arrived after they had. It didn't take many looks to realize what kind of men they were, and even less what they were thinking. Mercenaries, murderers, bounty hunters and other scum. The usually so emotionless Jack Highwind allowed himself a slight sigh.
"It seems I have attracted some un-wanted attention from morons and fools. My apologies, my lady and gentlemen." He apologized to the three. Vinsces, blissfully unaware of the glances the other patrons were giving the group, laughed burlily from across the table, as he emptied his first mug of ale.
"Bwahahaha! Don't you worry, little one! You're with Vinsces and Osefi the Giant now! Anyone bothers you, we'll smash 'em into the ground for ya! Bwahahahaha!" With that, he sent a playfully threatening glance around the room. Jack Highwind allowed himself a slight chuckle, and a smile.
"Well, I certainly thank you for this, my enormous friend. But, I think that shall be quite unnecessary. If my eyes and instincts do not fail me quite terribly, these gentlemen we share a tavern with are indeed not just morons and fools, but cowards and amateurs as well. For only an amateur and a fool would wet his lips in front of his prey. Such level of ineptitude is no threat to anyone who knows basic fencing." His hand casually touched the marvelously decorated hilt of his saber, shaped like the half-open maws of a dragon. Then, he shook his head with a smile, relaxed, and ordered in another mug of water.
"Tell me, gentlemen, what are your plans, now that your company have been divided?"
As Jack asked, the door to the tavern burst open, and a woman ran inside. Even the observant Jack Highwind only caught sight of her grey cloak before she ran past them, bumping into Jack on her way into the back of the room. The pirate looked after her curiously, but decided not to make an issue of the rudeness she had shown.
"Trouble, perhaps?" He mumbled to himself, his hand unconsciously remaining close to the hilt of his saber, as he followed her with his eyes. Things were quickly taking a turn for the worse, and although Jack Highwind feared no man in the tavern, he could feel in the air that they were coming closer and closer to a fight, despite the cowardice of the other patrons, who were, by all accounts, little more than street dregs and insects in the sky pirate's eyes. In the end it all depended on what the grey-cloaked woman did, and had to say while in the tavern, though. But as much of morons and cowards as the patrons were, they were quickly gathering the courage to start a fight. All they needed was the right incentive.
He looked at Jade, and spoke with a low voice:
"My lady, if I might be so bold, I suggest that you stay close to us. I am suddenly assaulted by a bad feeling, and I suspect that we will soon have to make a hasty exit, in no small part because of my carelessness and miscalculation. My apologies."
A moment passed and there was a loud slam as the doors of the inn burst open. Five men in dark red cloaks and robes stepped into the room, rapiers drawn and at the ready. They scoured the room with their gazes, glaring threateningly at the patrons who dared meet their eyes.
"My apologies, friends, but I'm afraid I shall have to make a bit of noise this morning. My sense of duty, as shallow and weak as it may be, would not allow me to see five experienced swordsmen shamelessly abduct a lone woman, without mustering the courage to interfere. Naturally, I would not ask any of you to follow me. Looking for trouble is something I excel at, but I shall best do so alone, lest I burden my new friends with my egotistical whims. And that, I shall not do."
With a slight bow, he turned his back to the table, and approached the woman. Once more he bowed, this time at her, and spoke:
"I would bring shame over every gentleman in this country if I did not approach a woman in need, and offer my sword as protection, my lady. My name is Jack Highwind, pirate, sailor and gentleman of fortune. Tell me, will you accept the help I offer?" He held out the side of his green coat, revealing the dragon saber hanging underneath it, and offering the slightest of smiles. "Before that, however, might I know the name of the lady for whom I shall gladly risk my life?"
Suddenly, Vinsces stood up, grinned at his orcish friend and Jade, and said:
"I didn't understand a word of what he said. His talk is too complicated for me - but I know one thing! I'm not backing down from a fight. Bwahahahaha!" He slapped the giant on the shoulder, and added: "Come, brother! I'm not about to let that little one impress the beautiful girls all by himself! BWahahaha!" With that, he stomped over towards Highwind and the woman, and when he got there, looked down at the pirate, and poked him in the side. "Oi, who are you, trying to look cool alone in front of the women? No go, little one! I'm helping you, whether you like it or not! BWahahahahaha!" He laughed burlily once more.
Jack Highwind looked up at him, first surprised, and then smiling softly and letting out a light, appreciative sigh.
"My apologies for forcing my egotistical whims on you, friend." He said to the giant. "And thank you for humoring me." He bowed at Vinsces, who scratched his neck, blushing and laughing out loud to hide his embarrasment over the pirate's politeness.
"Bwahahaha! Well, not to worry, my little brother. I like you - and I never abandon a friend in a fight! Bwahahaha!"
Highwind looked at the lady, and smiled warmly again.
"As you see, my lady. You are not alone in this seedy tavern. Will you accept our help?"
"So you think yourself a hero, eh?" He sneered, tilting his head so that the wide brim of his feathered hat covered his eyes. "That woman is wanted by the Borgia family." Indeed, their maroon clothing with its' gold trim identified them as servants of the Borgia, a powerful and influential dynasty of businessmen from central Salis with well known connections to the criminal underworld. "Step aside..." The man's lips curled in a cruel sneer. "or I shall have to kill you." He pointed his rapier at Highwind, tilting the narrow blade so that it was aimed at the other's throat.
A large clearing had formed around the group in the centre of the tavern floor as the other patrons made to avoid the inevitable confrontation. Noone present would be willing to stick their neck out without good reason. The other men in red pushed their way through throngs of onlookers and skirted the edge of the makeshift ring, closing in slowly like a tightening noose.
"So you're nothing more than common thugs, then." He declared loudly, seemingly disappointed. "A hero? You must be joking." He snorted in disgust. With a quick move of his hand, he unsheathed, almost lashing out with his saber with a sharp metallic woosh. The gentle glimmer in his eyes was quickly replaced by a cold, hard sheen as he let the point of his saber hover in front of the man's throat, similar to the blade at his own throat.
"I am Sky Pirate Jack Highwind of the Highwind Merchant Family of Meridian, the Scurge of the Skies, and Captain of the Batavian skyship. You will address me as such, or I shall have your tongue cut out from behind your teeth, worm! I have spilt more blood in my days than any insect like you of the Borgia Dynasty could ever hope to spill. I am not proud of it. I curse myself with every day that passes for it, and I am forever haunted by the memories of the lives I have taken." The tip of his saber caressed the other man's rapier almost playfully, running up and down the blade for a moment, as he added:
"But it is an ugly, crude art which I daresay, I have mastered."
Vinsces stepped forward as well, when the circle around them grew larger. He left the leader to his new-found friend to deal with, and looked around at the other Borgias, clenching his fist in his characteristic manner as he growled at them:
"Oi, you bastards! Don't hide among the guests! Come out here and fight me, you cowards!" With a look at Osefi and Jade still sitting over by the table, he grinned and made a thumbs up, to signal they had things under control, before tossing his spear aside, hitting his fists together knuckles to knuckles in an aggressive move, as if saying he didn't need a spear to tackle the men. Of course, the truth of it was, it was too confined a space for him to efficiently use his spear. In such a case, it was better to rely on his innate strength, size, and muscles. That he was more than a head taller than most of the men would serve him far better in this fight than his loyal spear would have.
Jack Highwind had one more ace up his sleeves. Satisfied that Vinsces had the other men covered, he looked around at the patrons, and smiled coldly as he reached inside his coat, pulling out a leather pouch ringing heavy with coins. It was a small fortune in gold and jewels, a fair part of his treasure that had been brought from the Batavian intended as payment for supplies in the city before the skyship's voyage to Ignir. Without hesitation, he tossed it on the bar, where it landed with a heavy, ringing thud.
"I offer the contents of this leather purse to be shared by any men in here who claim the heads of these troublemakers." His eyes met with the leader's, and he added, with a slightly lower, almost bloodthirsty voice: "I'll double it, if it's the head of this insect."
"Enough of your prattle, whelp!" The red swordsman snarled, knocking aside Jack's sword. "Have at you!" He dropped low into a traditional fencing guard, his legs braced to spring forward at a moment's notice. The razor tip of his rapier still trained on his opponent. Reaching into his cloak he produced a small knife with a slender, spike like blade. It had no edge but it's tip had been sharpened to needle like point. A stilleto. Slowly, and with careful steps the man circled the pirate.
The other men flashed their blades at Vinsces, advancing with grim caution from all sides. As mighty as he was, the odds were against him.
"And these cowards thought they could claim the bounty on my head. How disappointing... Courage seem to be a commodity among the men of Northwall. I guess it's up to us then, my giant friend." He looked up at Vinsces with a tired smile. The giant replied by giving him a thumb up and a broad grin.
"Let's get at it then, little brother! Bwahahaha!" The giant exclaimed eagerly.
"By all means, let's." Jack smiled. He turned his eyes at the Borgia, the eyes returning to their steel-like shine: "As for you, insect... I warned you. I shall take pleasure in cutting your rude tongue from your mouth when you lie dying on the point of my blade."
He joined the Borgia in the circle walking, watching his opponent's every move calmly, every muscle in his body ready to react at a moment's notice. The appearance of the stiletto didn't bother him. On the contrary, he gave a cold smile, and returned the favor by reaching inside his coat. He brought out a small vial, which he tossed on the ground in front of the Borgia, where it smashed instantly, spreading a foul odour that came in company with thick, grey smoke. Jack Highwind waited only for a second, long enough for the smoke to obstruct the view between the two.
Then, he slapped away the rapier, and launched a sudden, straight kick with the entire sole of his foot, towards the solar plexus of his opponent, ready to follow it up with a sideway slash at his opponent's hopefully exposed throat - a quick end to the fight, if it hit, it would result in two cut arteries, and the bleeding to death of the scarlet-clad thug.
Vinsces looked down at the men approaching him. Odds were never something that bothered the less than sharp-minded giant. But only a fool would face his opponents unarmed when they were carrying swords. His spear too clumsy for a bar fight, the half-drunk giant looked around for a moment for a better weapon. Then, he suddenly kicked over a table, and readily, as if snapping twigs, pulled off two of the table's legs, one for each hand. As he did, he turned to face the men, and with a sudden kick, launched a chair flying straight towards the face of one of them, before following it up with a downward strike towards his head with both table legs, the nails stuck in the wood turned downwards.
Osefi paid his farewells as the knight and Vincent departed, his thoughts turning inward as the others squabbled. The events of the night still plagued him, their connotations far-reaching and earth shaking. So wrapped up was he that their sudden entrance of the cloaked female scarcely drew his attention, his gaze drawn only by her pursuers, garbed in red.
With mild amusement he watched as Highwind played hero, Vinsces unwilling and unable to turn down a brawl following in his wake. It seemed Osefi would allow events to transpire, a most unusual choice for an orc. A gruff chortle erupted from the orc as the frightened mercenaries and cowardly treasure hunters ignored Jack’s offer of gold and jewels. Clearly these fellows were well known in Northwall, and their interest in this woman was peculiar indeed.
Osefi continued to make no indication of his involvement. That was until the smoke of Jack’s obscured a portion of the bar.
A tremendous roar shook the foundation of the tavern, and from the murky smoke hazed depths the full weight of a heavy wooden table came hurdling out towards the five Borgia.
Most recent OOC posts in Altaea Saga: Song of the Ancients
Farewell. It was fun while it lasted and I wish you all the best.
On top of work and training we still don't have internet here, so I'm hard pushed to find time to post. Once that's sorted though I should be able to post at least a little more regularly since I have a bit of free time in the evenings.
I was going to be ducking out anyway, Im just making that much much sooner than later. I have enjoyed running with all of you and will look forward to future runs in the Altaea universe or elsewhere.
I've been waiting for Xian to post in the meantime. But I might have to just jump in when I get back from work.
I have been away for a while and honestly Erdu as a character is a bit of a mystery to me. But I am determined to relearn him and get to where I can reinsert myself into this.
I imagine I will be jumping back into the followon RP as well, but one thing at a time.
Also, I'm finally able to clear the character list of all the redundant profiles. I've eliminated all our absent members. If somehow you feel your profile was deleted unfairly then PM me and we can discuss it, but given how I only deleted profiles for players who haven't posted in the last few weeks I think we should be fine.