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Gildan Lodes

"I'll beat them at their own game."

0 · 578 views · located in Terradeth

a character in “Crows and Coins”, as played by Yonbibuns

Description

G I L D A N || L O D E S
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"Don’t you know, hunger turns men into beasts."
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P H Y S I C A L I T Y


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Appearance

Hair: Dark brown. In a mess of loose curls. Longer on top and cropped shorter on the sides.

Facial Hair: Scruff, mostly.

Eyes: Startlingly pale-blue.

Build: Rather muscular for someone who’s used to living on little.

Skin Tone: Pale

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 160lbs

Voice: His accent is quite breathy and floaty. Low and grumbly. Seductive, in others. It’s always teetering on the edge of insult. With his honeyed words, and sing-song tones, there lies the faintest remnant of a barbaric accent.

Handed: Right-handed

Scar Tissue: Various scars run along his spine, ranging from smaller stripes to obvious stab wounds. There’s one particularly large scar that stretches across his collarbone and ends just under his jawline. While they're generally covered, Gil has several scars on the underside of his forearms and wrists.

Body Markings: Perhaps most telling of his Wildland descent are his tattoos. Large segments of his shoulders, pectoral muscles, and arms have black-filled designs that tip down past his elbows on both sides. There’s one thick line that travels down his spine, as well. It means something specific, but it isn’t likely he’d tell you.

Name
Gildan Lodes

Nickname(s)
Gil, Lodes.

Titles
On the streets, there’s whispers of the, “Rat King” and “the Bleeder.”
To the King’s trying to trample on his neck… he’s simply, “The Lion’s Thorn.”
Friends tend to call him Gil, or Lodes. He minds neither.
Of course, he’s earned unflattering monikers, such as “Bastard of the Alleys,” and the “Mutt of Korrigan.”

Ethnicity
½ Free Folk and ½ Serket

Nationality
Free Folk

Visual Age
20-30

Factual Age
29

Gender
Male

Sexual Orientation
Bisexual



M E N T A L I T Y


"How far am I willing to go? As far as I need to."
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Personality
When devil’s are too busy to hear their worshiper’s calls, and death’s a bit much to call upon… there’s the Bleeder. He’s the shadows playing across the walls, and the monster’s that they become. A midnight strangler. A pseudo-robin hood that kills the rich for the sake of the poor. A nightmare, a hazy figure in the distance. His reputation spans across Korrigan, as well as the Free Folk: for very different reasons. Accursed, afflicted, damned. Monikers given to the people’s man-made monster. Wherever he goes—blood is sure to follow. That’s what they say, at least. But those are just stories, right? In any case, he’s certainly a thorn in the King’s arse.

A charming manipulator. A seductive, insatiable snake. Gregarious in his laughter, and a solid stone when need be. There’s many, many onion layers there to peel away. Some layers are harder to swallow. He’s a shark of a man—all bite. Words are empty things, meant for soothing minds and loosening tongues. He’s a man of action and lets his do the talking for him. He doesn’t operate in half-measures. Tying up loose ends is a necessity. Gil doesn’t like drawing himself lines, restrictions, limitations of any kind. He’s a jokester. Sometimes, it looks like he’s just putting on a show; glib, eccentric and showy. But he’s proven time and time again that there’s consequences when he’s not taken seriously.

Impulsive? No. His speech might come off as thoughtless, offhanded things, but Gil plans for the future, constantly. He sees the big picture. He behaves as if the world is a chess board. Strategy and ruthlessness are key pieces, moved with precision. This doesn’t mean he’s oblivious to improvement. No one took over a city by themselves. Over the years spent on Korrigan’s streets, under the King’s boots, he’s acquired quite a following and maintains his open-door policy. Everyone’s opinions are useful and valid. His table is their table. Everything he owns belongs to them, as well. His desires align with theirs. For everything he appears to be, he genuinely cares for the people he leads.

Aggressive, confident and governed by a persistence that knows no bounds. It’s a stark contrast to his lackadaisical attitude; his proneness to boredom and hedonistic tendencies. He’s somewhat inclined to violence, in any flavor. He’s apt to say that it runs in his veins: being of the Free Folk and all. But it might just be an excuse, because he’s not really sure why his blood boils when swords are pulled. His appetites are clamorous, insatiable things. For people, for power, for getting more of whatever he wants at the moment. Morality has never been a strong suit. Besides, he understands that it’s composed of grays: not black and white. Gil has never professed to being a “good man” but he’s willing to dirty his hands when no one else will.

Quirk(s)
Liar liar, pants on fire— Gil’s an awful liar. His poker face is a swarm of grins. There’s always a tell if someone knows where to look. Whether it’s tugging on his earlobe, or scratching the back of his neck. Laughing when he’s caught in a lie. To avoid all this, he’s as raw and blunt as can be. Better to get panties in a twist than have to explain himself.

Bandaged— Unless Gil’s in the middle of changing them, he always, always wears bandages wrapped around his forearms and wrists. He dislikes when they’re held. Toyed with. Touched at all. Though he’s always inclined to let things go if he’s in a place where touching is welcome: say, a brothel. Or back-alley liaisons.

Envy the dancers— While Gil’s never had the chance to attend any of the King’s glorious balls, he’s heard enough about them to be… intrigued. Dresses? Uniforms? Dancing across glistening marble? He wants to see it more than he lets on and has taken painstaking measures to appear at one of them. Someday.

Moral Alignment
Chaotic Neutral

Motivation
“Birds of a feather flock together, and so will pigs and swine; rats and mice will have their choice, and so will I have mine.” It’s something Gil’s always remembered. A cheeky nursery rhyme he’d heard on Korrigan’s streets when it was taken from them and given to iron-fisted rulers who didn’t care if they starved in the streets. With his uncle’s mercenaries gone from his side, and the Free Folk a distant memory in his mind’s eye, Gil supposes his motivations lie with the people who’ve been left to rot in the streets. Their wants have become his wants. However, he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t swayed by the ensuing chaos he’d have to wield in their favor.

Fears
  • What’s worse than irrelevance? Gil’s fear of simply fading away from people’s memories is conflicting to say the least. It drives the question as to why he’s doing things in the first place. Is it for the greater good of the people? Or is he afraid that his name, his legacy, his sense of self will disappear as soon as he’s succeeded in taking Korrigan back. Without the identity he’s built: who is he? Just another street-rat scrambling for scraps.
  • Even though he hasn’t seen them in years, Gil fears meeting his family again. Whether it’s his uncle, or his mother and father, there’s still a permeating feeling of shame riddled through his bones. He’s long made peace with the fact that he isn’t welcome in either of their worlds… but seeing them again, he’s not sure he could take it.
  • Accidentally harming someone he hadn’t intended to.

Likes
  • Comfort foods— like hearty stews and freshly baked breads. Dribbling cuts of meat? He’s over the moon. Nights spent on the streets in his youth have altered the way he sees food. Even though his circumstances are better than they used to be, he eats as if he’s never had a good meal in his life.
  • Animals— For someone perceived as a monster, Gil has a huge heart when it comes to animals. Specifically dogs and cats, as they’re plentiful in the back-alleys. Hungry-eyed and mangy. He shares whatever he has… which is saying a lot considering he loves food in equal measure. They’re quiet companions; never judging.
  • Intimacy— whether it’s rough-housing between friends, or something a little more sensual, Gil expresses himself by touch and prefers that others do the same. His preference for personal space: zero. Knocking elbows, kissing stranger’s, slapping backs or tugging on collars feels natural. So, he doesn’t adjust his behaviors.
  • Feistiness— it’s in Gil’s nature to be a little aggressive, a little pushy. When someone responds in kind? He likes it. Whether it’s a slap in the face, or someone showing some spirit and courage, it’s sure to get his attention.
  • Singing— Gil’s rather fond of music in all of it’s flavours. So, he loiters in taverns, listening to bard’s sing tales of grandeur. His voice isn’t too bad either.

Dislikes
  • Self-righteousness— if something could make his eyes roll harder, it’s the prats who tout that their moral standing is above all others. It’s hypocritical, stupid, and doesn’t fit into the world. Babbling about justice is a hard second.
  • Boredom & Dullness— Gil’s like a tornado, in constant movement. He doesn’t like staying in one spot for too long unless there’s something interesting happening. So, it’s likely that he’ll make his own fun (even if it’s unwelcome to those around him). He dislikes dull personalities, as well.
  • Disobedience— For all of his faults, Gil is a patient man. He’ll give chances. But once you’ve crossed the invisible line he’s drawn, there needs to be some sort of consequence. A learning edge, he calls it. If not, there’d be chaos.
  • Half-measures— People who are all talk and no action. People who only do the job and leave it half-done. He hates it.

Strengths
  • Persuasive— Thanks to being somewhat likable, Gil’s learned how to manipulate others while still convincing them it was originally their choice. Whether soothing them with a smile, or a clandestine promise, Gil knows how to get what he wants from others or talk them into doing things his way. If all else fails, he’s not adverse to shows of force.
  • Decisive— What’s that saying? Fortune favors the bold. So it does. Gil’s not in the habit of hesitating even if the outcome isn’t ideal. He’s not afraid of dirtying his hands for whatever “greater good” he’s envisioned.
  • Sense of humor— Gil’s seen some nasty shit in his life. Y’know, the sort of things that’d make you want to hermit yourself in the hills. It’s a part of life, and he’s learned to laugh at a lot of it. While his sense of humor tends to the darker side of things, he doesn’t take much seriously anymore.

Weaknesses
  • Unforgiving— While he can let petty actions slide on a personal level, as a leader he doesn't excuse the behavior or actions of those who step out of line. Nor does he forget any wrongs done to his people.
  • Self-Indulgent— Material objects are of no concern, but there's always one more of something he can be talked into. One more bite. One more drink. One more hour. More, more. Gil never wants to regret not enjoying the pleasures of life as they are offered to him.
  • Prone to anemia— Everything comes with a price. So do his unusual abilities. It’s uses are limited to the amount of blood he spills. If he pushes himself too far, he passes out until his body can recover itself.

Is your character literate? In what languages?
Gil can speak Free Folk, Darini and Serket fluently. Proper sentences? He’s likely to use whatever slang he’s picked up on his journeys. Words reserved for unsavory folk. Since his environment was filled with mercenaries, rough-robbers, criminals and wildlings, it isn’t all that surprising. He’s fairly well-read in Darini and Serket, though if you’d ask him to write anything down for you… it’s hard to tell if it’s illegible chicken-scratch, or if he’s actually illiterate.



C O M B A T || P R O W E S S


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"You can run. You can hide. You can pray. You can piss yourself. It won’t make much difference."


Rating System
[Perfect] - [Excellent] - [Good] - [Above Average] - [Average] - [Below Average] - [Poor] - [Very Poor]


Combativeness
Hand-to-Hand Combat: [Excellent] The best fighters are the one’s who don’t shy away from bloodying their hands. The one’s who aren’t afraid to go for the throat and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze their way to winning their battles. The one’s who thrive on some burden of violence shaking their hands into fists, gnashing their teeth like wolves going for a kill. The one’s willing to rip and tear and bite. Gil prefers close-quarter combat to any kind of combat. It’s intimate, it’s up close, it’s fair: in a sense. He has a fairly high-tolerance to pain seeing as he frequently bleeds, and it’s become a crutch he uses to fight harder. It borders on reckless, but gets the job done if he’s not knocked unconscious.

Melee Combat: [Above Average] Of course, Gil’s not stupid. He carries his blades on him at all times, and he’s fairly good at wielding them. They’re small enough to wield with finesse, so he uses what techniques he’s picked up over the years spent fighting under his uncle’s mercenaries. Go for the throat. Go for the eyes. Slice their palms, bellies, collarbones. Cut through tendons. He’s never learned how to fence or fight fairly. So, Gil operates strictly through instinct and reaction, leaving himself open to more experienced fighters.

Ranged Combat: [Poor] Could Gil shoot someone yards away? Probably not. His aim is laughable at best… and embarrassing when he actually tries. He doesn’t own a bow, anyhow, so it isn’t likely that he’d need to.

Magic Combat: [Good] Magic always comes at a price, or so they say. Perhaps, Gil’s is a steeper one to pay. In any case, he’s on a tightrope walk of barely being able to contain himself, and attacking with ruthless precision. He relies on this far more than he should. It’s earned him a black reputation throughout Korrigan.

Mounted Combat: [Poor] It’s damned hard trying to control his abilities while being tossed around like a sack of potatoes in a saddle. Have you ever tried stabbing someone with short blades while mounted? Neither has he. He prefers having both feet on the ground when he’s engaged in any type of physical confrontation. Either that or he’d simply try to trample the person with his horse.

Skills
Temptation & Persuasion [Good] — Not everything is carnal in nature, because if Gil’s learned anything throughout his travels’, it’s how people function. Their wants, their needs, their desires. It’s an easy thing to promise, but he’s a man of his word. His follow-through is what’s gained him so many followers in Korrigan. Empty words wouldn’t have drawn the gangs together. No, he keeps his promises. No matter the cost. Of course, if his body is something desired, he’s only too willing to accept the terms.

Strong Stomach [Excellent] — Violence, blood and guts have never turned Gil’s stomach. Whether it’s from his days spent in the hills, or with bawdy mercenaries, he doesn’t shy away from the dirtier, darker things in life. If it’s part of the process, it’s a necessary evil. His regrets are few and far in between.

A friend, indeed [Above Average] — His type of cunning comes from watching people. From afar, or up close. His interactions with people are remembered. Filed away for a later date. Even if he’s laughing and tossing back goblets of ale, he’s always watching. For what? He’d never say. People are peculiar creatures, and there’s much to be learned just by paying attention. He’s not exactly posing when he offers his help. He’s a friend, lover, ally, man-in-arms. People tend to go to him for advice, waggle their tongues about his enemies.

Spells/Powers

Possession— for brief periods of time, as in seconds, Gil can use blood to control the motor functions of others against their will as if they were a marionette. It works better if he injects them with his own blood; either by manipulating blood from his open wounds, and spraying it in their faces, or touching their open wounds with bloody hands. Spitting works too.

Red Ribbons— Gil can create, control and otherwise manipulate his own blood into hardened objects capable of doing damage. Whether it’s blood tempered into a sharpened state, used to stab and butcher, or something more delicate, like thin ribbons capable of strangulation.

Darts— Besides ribbons or shard-shapes, Gil’s able to mold his blood into darts and shoot them at people. Though it takes far more concentration, and it’s more of a work in progress since he’s using force, and more blood than he’d like to spill. Better at closer range.



E Q U I P M E N T


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"What say you that we grab a drink? It’s on me."

Items
Someone who doesn’t have many roots doesn’t really have much to his name. With no home, and no place to stay for longer than a night, Gil’s no exception to the rule. He carries a leather satchel with the essentials: a spare of clothes, for the times his are too dirty (or bloody) to wear, a roll of fresh bandages, a coin purse and a length of beads and bones bound to a small hempen rope. Aged and worn over the years. One last thing he has to remember his family.

Accessories
None, really.

Weapon(s)

Weapon Name:
Singer
Weapon Type:
Jambiya
Material:
Damascus Steel
Length:
8”
Weight:
3lbs
Weapon Description/Info:
Gil acquired this particular blade when he lived in Serket. There’s nothing spectacular about it—standard fare, for those who carry blades in the Wastes. It’s flattened horn hilt is mounted with customary brass discs and decorative nail heads. The scabbard is of the tuza type, made of wood clad with leather and decorated on the front with intricate designs in silver, ending in a silver end cap.

Weapon Name:
Bleeder
Weapon Type:
Ceremonial Dagger
Material:
Steel and Bone
Length:
4”
Weight:
1lbs
Weapon Description/Info:
Much smaller than it’s brother-blade, Gil uses this primarily to self-inflict wounds. It’s small enough to tuck into his sleeves: close at hand. The hilt of the dagger is constructed of heavy sections of gold over an iron core and its scabbard mounts are of solid gold. All the intricately engraved surfaces are set with gems and colored glass finely cut with floral forms. A pretty piece for what it’s actually used for.



B A C K G R O U N D


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Group Affiliation
The Nameless
Gangs of Korrigan

Marital Status
Single

Relatives
Rhyla – mother – living
Silos – father – living
Ramses – uncle – living

Origin
The Free Lands

Social Rank
Refugee Leader

Occupation
Sellsword / Vigilante

Bio/History
Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.

The Wildlands. The Free Lands. The Wastes and the Hills. They all have one thing in common. They're unforgiving places to grow up in. It is known. Among the Free Folk, traditions are as important as survival. They live, and die, beside their superstitions; their wariness of magic is not entirely unfounded. Witches and their ilk are said to boast nefarious spirits; bringer's of bad luck and foul fortune. Even if the Free Folk are known for their less-than-savoury battle-tactics, savage as they are, magic is inherently worse because it's not something they truly understand. It's not something malleable, manageable. They cannot touch it, cannot wield it. The stories passed down by soothsayers and elders alike warn of how magic can twist and bring ruin to their people. Gildan's clan was no different.

Gildan Lodes was born in the tribe lands nestled in the Hills, north of Korrigan. His mother, Rhyla Lodes, was a Serketian woman who's kindness was a refreshing bloom against the contrast of uncivilised brutes at her sides; all teeth and nails and pure instinct. She was a well-known herbalist among them--a respected asset, if not an unusual component. His father, Silo, had been born and raised in the clan. A hunter with a penchant for wandering too far. Seeing as their clan was nomadic in nature, and travelled across the plains for better hunting grounds, it wasn't all that unusual that they'd bumped into each other. Their union was regarded... cautiously, at first, though it was welcomed soon enough. In their culture, women chose their partners. Rhyla was free to do as she wished. After she'd fallen pregnant, she decided to live alongside him.

Life in the clan was fairly normal. Gil was an average boy; liked to run and jump and play with sticks. He was kind-hearted like his mother and as troublesome as his father. Running through the woods with the other children was a favoured pass time, as well as learning how to survive; fight, hunt and eat. It was only around his tenth birthday that he began exhibiting strange... abilities. Troubling ones; it raised their suspicions until they were finally confirmed. On one particular occasion in the woods, Gil had been playing with the older boys. A little roughly. Pretending sticks were swords, and they were in battle; one of the boys' had cracked Gil across the face, causing him to bleed. The blood, however, had danced from his temple and wrapped around the boy's neck: strangling. His mother heard the boys' cries and seen her son on the ground. Face scrunched up, angry.

She'd known immediately. Serket was a place of magic. This place was not.

Rhyla consulted her husband. Usually, if babes or toddlers presented early signs of magic-use, they'd be abandoned in the woods. Left to the wolves. Or at least given little chance to survive, if they did at all. Given to the woods to do as they wished. The whispwoods and Fair Folk were... unusually merciful at times, and would best know what to do with them. She did not think that was best. Instead, she decided to send a bird to her brother in Serket. A plea to take her son with him. To raise him as his own--because he deserved better, it was not his fault. Gil's uncle, Ramses Lodes, responded in kind. Yes, he would. They'd meet at the nearest shoreline. He would take him. And so he did. Gil doesn't remember much of their parting. He does, however, remember his mother crying into his hair, and his father pressing a braid of beads into his small hands. A promise, a momento, a bitter farewell.

Ramses Lodes was the leader of the Ironcloaks; a band of Serketian mercenaries that travelled Terradeth's seas, and lands. While they weren't below raiding and pillaging villages, they mainly operated by taking contracts; protected wealthy nobles, and their caravans and squashed their oppositions. For the coin--it was a mantra they lived by. Of course, there was honour among thieves. They became an impromptu family; a home away from home. Ramses raised Gildan as if he were his own; bundling him under black wings. He never had any children of his own, so he was glad to have something of a son aboard his ship. Life was easier with them than it'd been in the Hills, though no less brutal. He'd seen what the world did to its misfits. The poor, the bedraggled, the wretches who'd been left behind. It left a bitter taste in his mouth, and moulded the man he is today.

Nothing good lasts forever.

Lessons often came with their own sets of cuts and bruises; ego included. Ramses right-hand man, Sybil, taught him how to use a blade; daggers and shortswords, mostly. Gil had grown better and better through his teenage years. His anger, however, was explosive, and difficult to control. His uncle would always watch him. Was quick to reprimand him for sloppy movements. For letting his annoyance squander his technique. His footwork. His hand; too low. His face; unprotected. Too slow, too fast. Sometimes, Gil felt like it wasn't enough.
"Again. Again!"

It came as a near constant badgering whenever he fell back on his arse or skinned his knees. One day while they sparred, when they were anchored to a city's pier, with the other crewmembers spending their time at the local brothels or taverns, Sybil knocked Gil onto his back. Bloody-nosed and dripping. It was a reaction. A mistake. He'd snarled up to his feet and bristled. Blood sang in his veins, in his temples; loud as drums. He hadn't seen it rising from the decks. Dribbling off his nose. Forming shards; floating. Hadn't been able to stop it from vibrating and shooting through the man's leathers. Straight through his heart. When his uncle called his name and shook him out of his stupor, it was too late. Sybil died that day. A mistake, a mistake. But aboard their ship, mistakes were paid in blood. And it wasn't something his uncle could oblige. He disposed of Sybil's body. Dumped it overboard, and packed up some things for Gil. He couldn't stay any longer. Even then, he'd noted the resentment... the hate... quiet as a mouse, a bitter bloom, shuttered in those blue eyes of his. He supposed now, he couldn't blame him. So, he left through the gates and travelled back to the Northlands. He stopped in Korrigan. It'd been taken from the Free Folk's and given to the Five Kings.

Even then, it'd been bad. People were kicked to the streets; there was never enough to go around. Food was scarce. They needed a leader. Someone to fight for them. Someone to bleed for them. Gil learned at an early age; a man can have anything if he's willing to sacrifice, and so he did. No one's quite sure what shadows he crawled out from. But he'd been waiting there; always watching. He knocked elbows with his fellow man, and became someone they could count on. He became their monster; fought for their causes, and threw honour to the wayside. There he made friends, allies, acquaintances, as well as enemies. He's the Lion's Thorn in the eyes of the Kings. The Bleeder, The Rat King. To those he fights for, he's a saviour. He's long since thrown away his aversion to his abilities; blood magic. It's a curse and a gift. The people he fights for are willing to turn a blind eye to his methods. So does he.

If I stop now, nothing changes.

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So begins...

Gildan Lodes's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Charon Character Portrait: Gildan Lodes

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Charon, Son of Beira and Gildan Lodes
The Aviary Brothel
Evening




Charon could hear them. He could always hear them.

The Dark Ones stood in the corner of his room, obscured by unnatural shadows. Their whispers buzzed in Charon's ears, like the drone of locusts. Some days, he could hear kinder souls among them, typically one of his ancestors or some benevolent nature spirit. However, this night there were only the voices of an ancient evil. They had yet to harm him or even come too close, but they were always watching from a distance, whispering amongst themselves. However, in moments like this, the Seer found them rather easy to ignore.

Charon rested on his bare stomach, his feet bouncing to Serket bells, flutes, and guitars from beneath the floorboards. The performances would last until the sun rose. Then, the more respectable patrons would rush out of the Aviary's golden door, hiding their noble faces until they returned to their wives in Southeld. The Seer held Gil's hand as if he would a small bird, tenderly rubbing his thumb along a group of scars on the underside of his wrist. Although the flesh had mended itself, Charon could still feel a dark magic leaking from the wounds. He pressed his lips against them, saying a silent prayer of protection to the Great Ones and the Ancestors as he kissed the damaged skin.

Charon looked up at his lover with a clever smirk as he adjusted his naked body on the sweaty silk sheets."I hope you enjoyed the dance tonight." He purred as he placed his free hand on Gil's thigh, drawing aimless circles on his pale skin. His grey eyes studied Gil's body, running along his many scars with interest. They reminded him of his own, some of which, such as the nick across his nose, still stung every time he thought of them. "Huli thinks I could bring in more noblewomen if I stopped focusing on you every time you're in the crowd." He smiled mischievously. "But I doubt that I'd have nearly as much fun."

Of course, Gil had been there.

He always appeared in the most opportune times, milky-blue eyes searching. As a wolf might: hungry. Huli had the right of it when she’d warned that the Aviary had a nasty habit of attracting beasts and predators alike. Sitting in the thrumming throng of watchers in the crowd, he’d draped himself where he always sat. It was an awful habit. One that he wasn’t inclined to rid himself of. He’d been hunkered on lavish pillows, wrought with silks, with a mewling little mouse seated in his lap. Squirming into his arms when the savage drumbeats foreshadowed Charon’s appearance. His eyes, however, were ever trained on the circular stage in front of them.

They were both beasts: he and Charon. In different manners, he supposed. Both hailing from the Tribelands, and both with veins that bled and wept with some sort of arcane energy they were loathe to admit they had. It would mean the death of them. Strung up: lynched in the streets. The Bastard Kings’, and their boot-licking Inquisitor’s, would make sure of that. Perhaps, it was there that the similarities ended. Charon was a much kinder soul. He was a charming tightrope-walk between a rawness he found appealing and a finger-kissing altruism he wasn’t sure what to do with. In comparison, he was… not. He couldn’t afford to stall his momentum.

It certainly didn’t stop him from finding himself in Charon’s arms. In the Crow’s lovely Aviary. Frequent customer’s who did not tread on the Queen of Crow’s feet were always[ welcome. He took care not to dance too close to her affairs, as long as they did not align with his own. It was the closest thing to a sanctuary he’d found since coming off Korrigan’s streets. A place, at least, he could recuperate, and breathe, without the threat of having a jewel-crusted blade stuck in his throat. Sinking his teeth into someone else' had always been his style. The Aviary had everything he needed. For a time. At least until his wounds healed.

Gil was laid out on his back with one of the silken sheets tangled across one leg and draped over his midsection. Softer sheets, they’d say, couldn’t be found anywhere. He could vouch for that. One of his hands was tucked under his head, beneath the pillow. The other he’d let rest at his side. Now scooped in Charon’s hands, pressed against his lips. He watched him between half-lidded eyes. An eyebrow raised and a small smile crooked at the corner of his lips. Though it was the moonlight creeping through the corner of heavy curtains that caught his attention. Late.It was late. While he’d never professed to following strict schedules, his rats had whispers of their own. A man had come. One he’d rather see strung up by his guts.

A sigh sifted past Gil’s lips as he sat up and hunched closer to grizzled man. He pulled his hand free from the man’s exploring fingers, and caught hold of his chin, tipping it up so that he could look at him properly. For a moment he allowed the silence to fill in the spaces, and broke it with a wolfish grin, “She’s probably right. But pretty hens… they can be boring. All bark and no teeth. You’d be too much for them to handle.” In a sense, he was much too good for them. For him, too. His own movements, his actions, were anything but soft. Even as his thumb tickled across the man’s lips, he fought the urge to grip and drag and tear. Gil laughed as he released Charon’s chin, flipping the silk sheet over his head. Shielding him from those impossibly blue eyes of his.

He swung his legs off the bed and slipped down to his bare feet. Crinkled his toes through the soft fibres of the furred mat. It only took him a moment to locate his trousers. Left in a messy pile. A line of clothes strewn across the room as if they’d been discarded in a hurry. The state of the chamber was hectic, almost as if there was a fight. Chairs tumbled over. Pillows and feathers in a sad, rumpled pile. They wouldn’t have been far from the mark. After tugging up his pants, Gil turned to plant both hands on the end of the bed, “This is the worst part, y’know.” He rolled his eyes, “I’ve got things to attend to.”

Charon groaned, crawling over to Gil. He draped his arms over his broad shoulders, loosely wrapping them around his neck. "I'm sure your rats can manage without their king for one more hour." A part of Charon wished that he could keep Gil there forever. He couldn't quite label his feelings for the Bleeder with a name as simple as love or lust. It was an animalistic sort of magnetism that drew the two together and Charon's affection for the other man grew with every drunken sweaty encounter they shared. "I could make it worth your while." The Seer nuzzled the crook of Gil's neck, his beard rubbing against him. He nibbled at Gil's skin, his flesh reddening slightly with each nip. Perhaps Gil reminded Charon of the home he was no longer welcomed in. There was an insatiable hunger that radiated off of his spirit and a wolfish gleam in his eye that Charon had seen too many times in the eyes of his brother, Fenrir. And, although it had been years since Gil had been to their homeland, Charon could feel the Free Folks blood that ran like wild horses in his veins.

He pulled his lips away from Gil's neck, only to whisper in his ear with a devilish grin. "I believe I'm having a vision." Charon nodded, closing his eyes and rubbing his temples, one arm still hooked around the Gil. "Yes, yes. You are in grave danger." With one rapid motion, Charon had swung around, straddling the smaller man. "You must stay in this room tonight, or disaster will fall upon your house." He giggled as he stared into the pale blue eyes of his bedmate, pushing aside the true visions invading his mind. A body thrown into a turbulent sea. A rat in the jaws of a hound. Blood spilling onto a pile of gold coins. Blood drowning the city. Blood drowning the world.

Blades might’ve been sharp, but Charon’s mind was sharper. He knew how boundless Gil’s appetites were. How insatiable his hunger had become over the years they’d known each other—it was never enough. Nothing was, in a sense. It was the reason he frequented the Aviary. Mind you, not always in his company. His fingers left traces in whatever pies were offered to him. Whether it involved bloody business in the streets or warm bodies, crooked under his arms.It wouldn’t have taken much to convince Gil to linger a little longer. Just a little longer. Did he love Charon? Did he love any of them? He did not know. Love was damning. Love was selfish. They could become vulnerabilities: easily exploited. No, they were transactions. Acquaintances. Allies, if anything at all. A listening ear. A shoulder. Someone to chew. It was easier to sort that way.

Gil’s ability to feel anything at all had dulled with time. He’d inflicted so much pain on himself that it became lackluster; a habit of sorts. When he wasn’t drowning in his own blood and leaving streaks through Aviary’s backrooms, he was a bottomless pit. Unfulfilled. Disastrously starved. When Charon draped his arm around his shoulders, he’d be sold on the idea of waiting til the sun rose above the buildings. Even if it meant seeking out his rats at a later time. Even if it meant missing the man he wanted to gut. “Mmhm?” a simple inquiry accompanied with a raised eyebrow. An invitation for action. Charon responded in kind. Leaning down as he was, he grated his teeth together and glanced over his shoulder, towards the doorway. He could almost imagine Huli staring a hole at the stairs, wondering why her prized stallion wasn’t entertaining other guests. The Tribesman was in high demand, garnering his own collection of followers; persistent patrons who called after him by name. He did not mind, especially as he was the only one of them to taste what Charon had to offer.

A laugh bubbled from his lips as Gil pulled back slightly to look at Charon’s face. Visions be damned, he was good talker. “I’m always in grave danger,” as soon as he got the words out, he had the Tribesman in his lap. Slippery as an eel. Quick as a foxhound. Had he the man on his side in a fight… he’d do better on the streets. Perhaps, come off them with less wounds. He tilted his head to the side and scoffed, “Lucky me, I’ve no house to doom.” It was the truth. Hardly any family to speak of. Where they were was anyone’s guess. Somewhere in the Hills, probably. Looking down at the damned in Korrigan. Laughing at their foolishness, and their weakness. They would never bend their knees. Better to die on a blade, like as not. A grin tugged at his lips as he leaned back against the sheets, “Fine then. You win.” Charon smiled, pleased with his victory.

It was only when sunlight peeked through the windows that Gil extracted himself from Charon’s arms and dressed himself fully. The Tribesman rested on his side, watching him through sleepy eyes. Charon always seemed disappointed when daylight came, but that was of no consequence to Gil. He could spare no more time, though it was likely that he’d skulk back through Huli’s doors soon enough. He always did. He snapped his buckle shut and adjusted his scabbards in the doorway. Goodbye’s never suited him. He’d always been the first to wake and leave; a phantom drifting through a bird’s nest. He rapped his knuckles on the door frame, signalling his retreat.

The jingling of coins attended his footfalls as he disappeared down the steps.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gildan Lodes Character Portrait: Xerxes Gaspari

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Xerxes, Max and Gil
Outside the Aviary



Gildan left the Aviary with a lighter pouch—perhaps, with lighter shoulders as well. Just for a time. It was enough. For now. He’d traded quips with the Mistress of the House, who’s shrewd eyes seemed to pierce straight through him. She had the uncomfortable habit of picking apart his intentions, and while she’d never outright forbade him from seeing Charon… there was it was, an unspoken warning that they had better things to do than serve a man who scrounged blood from his fingernails. A business woman through and through. He found that he still liked her. Out of anyone who sat on that accursed council, surrounded by vultures, it was only she and Makava that he didn’t mind.

He had no wishes to see their heads on pikes. The others, however, he had no love for.

As soon as fresh air hit his face, and he heard the door slam shut behind him, Gildan set out towards the backstreets. Cutting through them as easily as any street-urchin would. He was one, after all. Once upon a time when he had no title to his name. When he’d be little more than a nobody scraping up scraps, licking at the bottom of whatever barrel he could find. How far he’d come after all these years. It was a testament to his goals, his ambitions. He hummed low in his throat and elbowed his way into the marketplace; the mouth leading to the Aviary and all of the seedier parts of the city.

It took him a moment to realize who he’d walked beside. He turned on his heels, a grin already widening across his scruffy features. “Xerxes! Fancy seeing you around these parts,” his gaze flicked towards the alleyway for a moment before raking back towards the swordsman. He arched an eyebrow and made a face—as if the man were simply traipsing his way towards the Aviary for a good time. He wasn’t sure if that was the case, but he still enjoyed teasing him. “And the little sparrow,” he greeted Max and inclined his head to the side, inquisitive to fault, “Are you finally bringing the boy to paradise? There were some… ravishing creature’s there today.”

He snorted.

Xerxes laughed merrily both at Gil's words and Max's reaction to the words. The boy's stance screamed excitement, but he was trying to effect a look of disinterest as if the female sex hadn't suddenly become a source of fascination for him. He resisted the urge to ruffle the boy's head while he remembered what the occasion would have been like back in Anulandean. Their people were far from conservative and when he was in his mid teens, accompanied quite a lot of young squires and nobles on a trip to one of the fancier brothels in the capital just so one of them could lose their virginity. The rules for princes were most likely different he noted and in any case, Max was still too young.

"Perhaps in a few years, my friend. I fear he would not possess the necessary stamina for a memorable time."

"I do to!"

"Relax lad. I didn't partake in the glories of the flesh until I was a little older," he told the young prince with a laugh. He shook his head, "No, Gil, my friend, we are off to see the madame on business."

"And no pleasure at all?" Maximim snarked. Xerxes grinned.

"Well, I might trust you to mill around with Gil for a bit while I had my wounds kissed and more..." He stated, looking like he was really thinking of it, "But we must both speak to the madame and I fear she will not have Gil loiter in front of her business waiting for her."

He eyed his friend curiously.

"Are you retiring for the night or is there some trouble still to be had tonight?"

A laugh left Gildan’s lips as he watched the two—honestly, he’d never met a stranger pair. He liked them though. When Xerxes hadn’t ruffled Maximim’s hair, he’d stepped up and settled a hand across the crown of his head. He gave him a gentle ruffle and arched his eyebrows, “You’re a man grown already. Besides, even if Xerxes had that sort’ve business, I’m sure the girls would love to entertain you.”

This was true. Young boys and girls were unusual fancies at the Aviary. Not for any nefarious purpose, mind you. Seeing how people usually went there for business… they tended to flock to those who were simply there to wait on their masters, their mentors and teachers. Settled on an array of pillows, surrounded by giggling girls didn’t sound so bad. To a growing boy like Max, it may have even sounded like paradise. Even at his age. Perhaps, especially so.

He tilted his head and grinned wide, “You’re right. She’s starting to look at me like I’m a stray dog who keeps wandering in. Can’t say I blame her.”

There was a moment of silence as he considered his words. Trouble was brewing—that much was true. He glanced down at Max and finally retracted his hand. “Unfortunately, trouble.” A sigh sifted out as he glanced down the street, making sure no extra ears were listening. “We’ve an unwelcome guest who’s come to cause it. I intend to take care of it.”

"Well, I will leave him in your capable hands," Xerxes told him brightly as Maximim blushed at Gil's suggestion. Perhaps he will leave the boy to be tended to by the bored prostitutes. There might even be one or two that would love to be the young man's first. He grasped his friend's arm.

"Tell me about it later, I think it's time that I see the Madame," he told him. He tried not to think about what was happening unseen in this moment. There was no point in dwelling on how close Korrigan was to falling into chaos and what the war outside could bring. Not when he couldn't do anything about it.

Gil winked at the younger lad. Of course, he wouldn’t have minded—doubted that any of the women would’ve either. Sometimes, he thought that Xerxes needed to let loose. As if his shoulders were too damn tense, carrying the world on them all the time. While he’d never been one to pry into other people’s business, unless it suited his purpose, he wondered what kind of secrets Xerxes kept. Where he came from and where he was going. Questions best left when he was drunk and able to blame his inquisitiveness on a proprietary blend of booze, rather than nosy inclinations.

He didn’t doubt that if pushed too far, or questioned too closely… he might find himself on the end of Xerxes blade. Perhaps, he was reading too closely into things. His intuition, however, wasn’t often wrong. Another smile tipped across his face as he nodded his head, “Of course, I will. I'll send one of my rats to find you. Later.”

There was a pause before he stepped to Xerxes side, eyebrows raised a fraction.

“Best not to keep her waiting if you’ve an appointment. She’s not known for her patience.” He tapped at the side of his temple, “I should know.”

A small part of him wanted to ask what exactly his business was with her, though he quickly thought better of it. It certainly didn’t appear as if it was pleasure.

"Of course. Thank you, Gil. We will have drinks later," Xerxes promised. He found that he liked the scoundrel. There weren't many people he could let his guard down around and Gil was one of those people. It may be that he could trust him with his and Max's secrets one day. He had strongly considered it in the past, but he always decide they were all better off with him still in the dark. Still, if there was one man in this land he could trust, it was him. “I’ll see you later then,” Gil waved at them both and stalked back down the way he’d been walking. He did, however, quickly turn back on his heels to call back over his shoulder, “Good luck!” For their sake, he hoped that she was in a good mood.

"Come Max. We have a beautiful older woman to attend to," he said lightly as he stepped into the brothel. He took in the sight of all the beautiful women standing around in fine silks and perfume and he regretted he was not here for pleasure. He quickly spotted one he thought would be of higher rank and gave her a short bow.

"I have an appointment with Madame Huli."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gildan Lodes Character Portrait: Makava

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Gildan Lodes and Makava





Korrigan's marketplace was often a bustle of activity, regardless of the time of day. The only thing that changed between the sun coming up and going down was the wares you could expect to find. During the day, it was a gleaming jewel of trade between several nations, bringing everything from fine silks and honed weapons to sturdy slaves and amazing food. During the night was where the more pleasurable items could be procured. Drugs, illegal liquor, prostitutes and even assassins were known to display their talents for sale if you knew where to look. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you viewed it, it was early morning and all the legitimate traders were out hocking their wares with all the fervor of a blood crazed berserker. Among them was an actual berserker, as Makava stood over a table with dozens of parchments laid over it, some covering others and most looking as if someone had been part way through ripping them.

Beside her, Brock pointed to some of the words, speaking slowly so that Makava could clearly understand what was being said even as she appeared to either be extremely bored or extremely agitated. It was sometimes hard to tell with the woman. Behind her stood ten slaves, all male, and all of them in peak physical condition. They were naked save for a loin cloth that left nothing to the imagination and a rather prominent collar around their neck that identified them as Makava's property. Unlike the other slavers in the market though, Makava's merchandise had a distinct lack of chains or other restrictive items that would prevent them from running off. Yet none of them showed the slightest inkling of darting for the nearest crowd and escaping into the throng of potential customers. Makava rubbed a hand down her face, grabbing her jaw and yanking open her mouth before finally dropping her limb to her side once again.

"This one wants to give us 300 gold pieces to train several of his slaves in gladiatorial combat." Brock stated, tracing the words on the paper with his finger more for Makava's benefit than anything else. He spoke in the Free Tongue, it was simply easier this way most days. Makava rose an eyebrow before picking up the parchment and ripping it to shreds, throwing the bits into the air and watching the wind send them scattering all over the market place.

"Train them? I don't train slaves that aren't mine! Idiot." Makava stated, her free tongue speech coming out guttural and almost barbarian like. Brock gave a nod moving onto the next piece of paper detailing yet another deal as Makava took a step back, grabbed a chair and spun it around into a sitting position. She sat down in it, leaned back and just as it was starting to fall over, one of the slaves behind her caught it and held it up. She must have planned for that because she didn't move through the entire thing. Instead her arms hung limply at her sides as she stared up at the sky. Brock continued reading the parchments, and it took him several moments to realize that Makava was no longer paying attention. He glanced back at her, seeing her posture and noticing that her eyes were closed.

"Do you wish to do something else for the moment ma'am?" Brock stated, his voice respectful and light, almost soft. Makava raised her arms, flailing them slightly as the slave behind her didn't move from his position, holding up her chair as if that was his sole job in life.

"I'm tired of listening to this...I want to go to the fighting pits." Brock looked down at the ground for a moment.

"With what happened yesterday, the Oskannan pit is off limits to you until you pay them recompense for interrupting a fight." Makava's head shot up, a glare very evident on her face. Brock looked over at the table, sorting through a few papers before pulling up a smaller one. Brock gave a quick cough and was about to read it when Makava shot up, grabbing the piece of paper from his hand and reading it as fast as her nearly illiterate mind would allow her. It took a few minutes longer than it would have if Brock had just read it, but when she was done she placed it on the table, drew an axe and drove it clear through the wooden surface. Brock didn't respond, preferring to stand still with his hands clasped behind his back. Makava gave a frustrated yell, wandering over and tossing the chair off to the side.

"Gildan Lodes, a pleasure to see you again." Brock stated in Free Tongue.

“As always, Brock,” Gil reflected back in the Free Tongue, swaggering through the throes of hockers and slaves alike. His pale eyes reflected the baubles and chains hanging from the nearby wagons, as if he were sparing them the briefest of glances. Old habits died hard. His eyes traveled to the toppled chair, and the axe jutting out of the table like Makava had meant to cleave the damned thing in half, “Little bear seems agitated. Who pissed her off this time?” Even if he’d acclimatized to Korrigan’s bastardized way of living… his accent certainly hadn’t lost any of its guttural edge, rolling over his tongue as if he’d come fresh off the plains.

He already knew the answer. Everyone—probably. There was no end to the things that pissed her off. Usually it teetered between tossing furniture around, destroying things, and drawing blood and toppling heads from shoulders; there wasn’t much of an in-between. Her lack of hesitation to do anything was admirable, if he tilted his head just right and stayed on the sidelines. Much like the Madame of the Aviary, if he didn’t tread on her toes, and avoided her business in the pits, they had no problems.

Friends, almost. Bastards who tossed back ale like they needed it to breathe.

Comrades in booze, more like. Makava had a way of looking straight through you, reading your intentions clear as day and while he doubted she knew the extent of his night-time business, he didn't think she’d even care. They both washed their hands clean of blood at the end of the day. Frequently. Neither of them regretted their choices, either. Not from what he could tell, anyhow. He rubbed at the scruff on his chin and rocked back on his heels, watching Maka’s retreating form with interest.

A shame, really. She’d cut his balls off before he had the chance to lavish her with sweet words. Gil had known that the first time he’d met her. Luckily enough for him, it was a lesson he’d learned quickly before facing any real consequences. She bore scars he didn’t understand. Perhaps, never would. Loose-lipped? Hardly. Even when drunk, she hadn’t shed light on anything to do with her past. In retrospect, neither had he.

He waggled his eyebrows, and frowned at the pinned paperwork. All work and no play obviously didn’t suit Makava very well, "Business. Paperwork. No fun at all."

"It would seem that way." Brock stated, peering down at a couple papers and making it quite evident he was trying to see if there was anything sensitive that Gil shouldn't see, but after a moment seemed to give up his search. Brock stared back at Makava, who at this point had literally destroyed the chair with her own bare hands in a blind rage over what Brock would consider a minor inconvenience. "Makava, you have company." Makava whipped around, her eyes frantic and a piece of wood torn from the chair hefted in her hand like a club. When she saw Gil, it was like a switch was flipped as a broad smile covered her face and she threw the makeshift weapon into the crowd of would be buyers. There was a loud thunk followed by a couple of quiet gasps and even a bit of laughter as the beam found its mark on someone's head. She strode forward, slamming her hands on the table and revealing that her smile was more of the predatory nature.

"Gil face!" She stated, her eyes looking him over for a moment before narrowing her eyes. "I'm noticing a distinct lack of booze on your person."

"The sun has barely risen Makava." Brock stated, which earned a hearty rip as Makava tore the axe from the table and replaced it on her belt, a large chunk of the surface now missing.

"I'm awake, which means I can get drunk, and I'm better at making deals when I'm drunk."

"Well, better at not lopping a man's arm off anyways." Brock stated quietly, earning a sharp glare from Makava.

"I need another chair and table, make it happen!" Makava took a coin purse and tossed it to Brock. "And make it sturdy! The last one crumpled like that slave merchant yesterday."

"Because you tore it apart." Brock stated, the resignation heavy in his face. Makava grabbed him by the collar and dragged him down to eye level.

"Sturdy." She seethed through her teeth, which earned a slight nod as Brock disappeared into the throng of people to find some new furniture for her stall. With that business out of the way, she looked back to Gil, the same predatory smile seeping onto her face. "Now, Gil face, what brings you here? You want to buy a slave? I brought out my prime stock this morning."

Bad luck for anyone who did—seeing how vicious Makava could be with inanimate objects, Gil imagined that the only reason she was this pissed off was because she couldn’t let loose on the person who’d inflicted her ire. Probably something to do with her business in the pits; try to tear her away from that and… it was best not to think of the consequences, though he wouldn’t mind seeing someone else at the receiving end of her anger. It reminded him of his days in the Wastes. On the plains, where feats of strength and flaring nostrils were as common as hocking oysters and fish at the docks. A way of life that Makava had taken with her, more like than not.

A grin broke out across his face, as he dropped his hand away from his chin. Quick as a whip, she was. Or as brutal as a storm, sweeping across poor Korrigan with the force of an axe, cleaved into its wooden heart. He often wondered what she thought of all this—the politics, and the fact that the council treated her people like shit. Did she seethe at the bit? Froth at the idea of slitting their throats? He did. At night, during the day. Whenever he shuttered his eyes closed. It was enough to get his blood boiling. He held out his hands, palms facing upward, and shrugged his shoulders, “Had a bit of business at the Aviary. Didn’t need any at the time.”

Business, indeed.

Better deals. Gil wasn’t sure about that. Maka had the habit of scaring someone so badly into accepting a deal… that booze was entirely unrequired. Unless it was for the potential customer’s sake—grow enough balls on them to stare down the sharp end of an axe, and the wild eyes that spun on the woman’s predatory face. Houndish as he was, coupled with his unquenchable appetite, Makava was the only one who seemed capable of toppling him. Sometimes, he felt more like a rat being chased by beast in her presence. He didn’t mind at all.

How Brock mouthed off to her without being on the receiving end of her annoyance was anyone’s guess. Their history must’ve ran deeper than he thought. A curious relationship that he often wondered about. Though he’d never wondered aloud. Big man serving a small, big woman.

“Never for that,” he allowed his hawkish gaze to sweep across the mostly nude slaves, standing solidly behind them. There was a look to his eye that spoke volumes, though his words always read between the lines, “they’d be wasted on me.” Unless he was buying them for unrelated… purposes, he’d never have any need for them. His rats fought for the freedom of Korrigan. Nothing more, nothing less. He never owned anyone or anything. He wanted to keep it that way.

“I would like to buy information, little bear. Some that only you’d know. Care for a drink? Several?”

Makava's eyes narrowed at Gil, his familiar tone and smile a welcome sight as far as Makava was concerned but she had learned to be careful around this man. She kept him in her sights at all times, like an eagle hunting a mouse even if she didn't mind sharing a drink with her kinsmen. With a quick dash of speed, she slid across the table to stand in front of Gil. Papers were sent flying in every which direction, but a quick snap of the fingers had three of the slaves behind her quickly moving to gather them up. "Information? You always want information. You never once come see me just to see me anymore." Makava gave a slight pouty face, or at least the best one she could muster. To be honest it came across more as a snarl than anything, but she thought the point was made. Almost as quickly as the expression formed, it was replaced with a hearty 'Hah!' before she slapped both of Gil's shoulders. "Good, I ain't one for sob shit. You want info, I want booze, money and violence, not necessarily in that order! Where's the bottle?"

Gil’s grin hadn’t faltered even as she vaulted over the table, standing in front of him as if she were ready to tear him down. A weaker man would’ve been shaking in his boots. Someone not of the Free Folk would’ve faltered under her gaze, let alone her dominating presence. If the circumstances would’ve been different, he wouldn’t have minded the tussle. She was not, however, one for warm brushes, and poetic dissertations. He spared no sweet words for her—no lies, no deceits. Nearly all Free Folk operated under the motto of no bullshit. She was no exception. Nobles, and the easily offended would’ve wanted his head immediately for the things he said. Though, he was sure, if she’d wanted him dead, he would’ve been rotting in the gutter ages ago.

“Do you miss me that much?” The grin wobbled into a wolfish expression, though it tempered itself into an innocent smile just as quickly. True enough. He didn’t mind wasting his time if Makava was around. She was good fun. Had a strong stomach, and no manners to speak of. Just the type of person he liked having around. It was a shame that she was on the council, representing something he wanted utterly destroyed. If she wasn’t all about her business; the pits, her slaves… she would’ve made a fine ally against his many enemies. He faltered back a step when she slapped both his arms, clearly not expecting it. A bark of laughter still snaked its way out.

“Fair price. That, I can do,” he glanced over her shoulder, deeper into the marketplace, and looked back down at Makava, “The Pig’s Head is nearby. Sinder owes me a bottle of dragon’s piss.” He paused briefly and grinned again, “Y’know what they say about the walls having ears. I’d rather not lop any more off than’s needed.”

"If anyone bothers us, or tries to listen in on our dealings, heads will roll." Whenever someone said that, it usually translated to 'someone will be getting into a lot of trouble'. Whenever Makava said it, it was to be taken as literally as possible. Makava held up a singular finger, walking over to the table and grabbing one of the quills that had miraculously managed to stay on the table despite everything happening to the piece of furniture. She read as quickly as she could through a couple of sheets before finding one that was unimportant enough to not miss. She flipped it over, and in the worst writing one has probably ever seen, spelled 'WAIT' on it in Darini. She then walked around the table, grabbing the closest slave by the arm and shoving the written article into his hands. She guided them into a position so that the paper was visible to everyone who wandered nearby before she stared into the slave's eyes. "I'm grabbing a drink. What do you do in the meantime?"

"We wait ma'am." The slaves replied in unison in a mix of Free Speech and Darini. Makava gave a nod.

"And if anyone gives you any trouble?"

"We kill them ma'am." Once again in unison, resulting in yet another predatory grin from Makava before she backhanded the slave in front of her on the stomach.

"Good, Brock will be back soon, don't do anything else until then." Makava turned back to Gil, her steps almost prancing at the thought of getting more liquor into her system. Makava grabbed Gil, flipping him around and giving him a slight push as she reached him. "What are you waiting for, drinks won't be drunk by themselves!"

That was something Gil had no doubt of. Heads would roll. Several, if necessary. Makava’s smile was anything but innocent when she made statements like that. She’d have no qualms bloodying the streets if he were to say that they’d heard something they shouldn’t have. In many cases, he was no different. Killing his own people, however? No. He’d do anything in his power to avoid that. If they stepped on his toes, and betrayed his cause—they were his people no longer. Fair game, in a sense. Even so, he didn’t like the idea of striking anyone on his side. Who’d willingly grovel at the council’s feet? Who’d accept the hand they were given? Fuck that.

He watched as Makava stalked back towards the table. A predator on a mission; even more, a domineering presence that towered above them all, even if she physically did not. His lidded eyes watched her snatch up a quill and turn back towards the remaining parchments still on the table. He hadn’t seen what she’d written down but assumed it was important. Orders, maybe. He rocked back on his heels and swallowed down the laughter blooming in his chest. Seeing a quill in her hands was possibly the strangest thing he’d seen all day. An axe, a sword… a scalp might’ve been better suited. A small, tempered smile tugged up the corner of his lips as he watched the slaves’ well-rehearsed reactions. Yes ma'am. No ma'am.

Well-trained. Well-mannered. Good fighters. A stack of wolves in a marketplace of sheep.

A hum sounded in the back of his throat as he allowed her to spin him around in the opposite direction. Gil leaned back slightly against her hand, and laughed. “Time waits for no one,” he mused and stepped into the push, hands held up in front of him, “When’s the last time you had any fun? Seems like it’s been awhile. All business lately, eh?” The answer he received was a grunt that was somewhere along the lines of 'yep' and 'fuck off'. He led them through the throng of merchant’s, and other, less successful slave-owners tapping striped backs and peeling lips back to reveal teeth to potential buyers. He ignored them and weaved between people, occasionally tipping his head into a nod when passing some of his eyes, his rats.

It didn’t take them long to reach the Pig’s Head. A grungy tavern with no door to speak of, full of piss and vinegar if you asked anyone in Korrigan. Renown for rough-housing mercenaries and an unsavory crowd of individuals. Perfect company, in his opinion. From the looks of it, there were already drunkards seated outside, slobbering all over themselves or grappling onto their companions, voices risen to drunken babbles. Gil inclined his head and swept a hand ahead of him. Not that Makava ever needed an invitation. She’d probably push ahead of him, anyway.

Makava didn't really need the gesture from Gil in order to continue into the inebriating heaven that was the Pig's Head. She pushed through the door, and was greeted first with the smell of piss, liquor, sweat, and possibly some kind of spice. Honestly, she had never figured that last one out, and to some degree it bothered her but ultimately the entire combination spelled 'home' far more than any merchant's stall or hovel. A few of the patrons stopped to stare at the newcomers as they strode through the bar, but there was no need to even register their presence as Makava led them to a table off to the side and less populated than the other sections of the bar. She grabbed one of the chairs, and oddly enough pressed down on the seat with her hand first. She had had a couple of these dive bar chairs collapse under her weight, and she would be damned if she went through that embarrassment again. With the chair passing her made up inspection, she finally sat and stared at Gil as he took the opposing seat from her. For a moment, nothing was said as she took a brief few moments to size him up once more, this time trying to glean any inward knowledge as to what kind of information he would want. Normally she would just assume something on the Merchant Council since he had asked a couple times about them, but she doubted that was the case this time. He was a sly one, a man who constantly tried and sometimes succeeded at keeping Makava on her toes despite them never actually crossing blades.

Within a minute, a lowly wench with more dirt and grime on her features than colors on her dress stopped at their table. A simple round pan was held flat against her waist as she looked the two over. "What can I get you?" She asked in Darini, either not cluing in to the nationality of the people she was serving or simply not being able to speak Free Tongue. Makava looked up at the woman, her mind taking a moment to grasp the words as it always seemed to do whenever it came to a language that wasn't her native one.

"Strong." Was all Makava answered back in Darini, and even then the accent was incredibly thick. The woman raised an eyebrow at her.

"I'm sorry...Strong?"

"Don't care drink. Strong." Makava sputtered. The woman just gave a brief nod before looking to Gil.

"And for you?"

“Tell Growley the rats are in. He’ll know what to give you. Two cups.” A wry wink accompanied Gil’s words, as he nodded his head towards Makava. Her piss-poor attempt at speaking Darini only widened the grin on his face. His own came out smoothly. As if he’d lived on the streets his whole life. The notion wasn’t completely wrong. The grungy barmaid only rolled her eyes, swaggering away back towards the bar.

He tapped two fingers across one of the knots gnarled into the table, and waited until their cups and bottles were placed in front of them before speaking again. Who’d willingly talk without swill warming their bellies? Not many. Especially not with the subject at hand. There was a good chance that Makava would keep tight-lipped about what he was planning to ask—he’d planned around that too. Planned around everything. Usually. It was what kept him alive for so long. He’d cut straight to the heart of things, as usual.

After pouring himself, and Makava, a glassful of amber liquid, Gil set it to his lips and took a long dredge. It immediately warmed his gullet. Felt more like fire than anything else, which was why he liked it. Reminded him of his homeland. Of the hunting brew they made from whatever it was they used in the Hills. “Heard Doran came back through the gates. Looked like shit too,” a sigh sifted past his lips as he studied Makava’s face, “I lost track of him.” His rats had, at least. Where he’d gone was anyone’s guess, but if he was dragging his haunches like a wounded dog… it was a perfect opportunity.

“Thought you might know where he is, if he was planning to come back. Maybe there was one of your fancy meetings planned.” Honestly, he wasn’t even sure if Makava ever bothered with them. Though, it was worth a shot. She wouldn’t help him directly, but any information at this point was valuable.

Makava stared at the liquid filling her cup, giving it a good long sniff, almost as if she planned to snort the alcohol instead of drink it like any normal person would. It reminded her of her homeland, a bittersweet aroma that filled her with memories both happy and miserable. She took a sip of it, a jarring view against her otherwise 'jump first' personality and mentality, before she downed the entire cup in one go. She let loose a long sigh of contentment after it was done, followed by a small burp that she only partially tried to cover up before grabbing the bottle and pouring herself another cup. She was so concerned with getting her early morning buzz on that she almost didn't register Gil's statement and followup non-question. He was prying, although his goal was unknown. She looked up, a smirk on her face as she did so. She wasn't one for hiding anything, even when it came to giving indications of when she knew when she was trying to be used. She didn't mind it from Gil though, mainly because this wasn't always the case and she rarely found someone who could keep up to her tolerance levels.

"You mean the Inquisi-fucker thing? Yeah, people been talking about him coming through the gates, not really common knowledge yet though." Makava stated in a surprising amount of clarity to her words, considering she didn't really pay much attention to anything that was outside her particular bubble of the world. What she was failing to tell him was the fact that the Merchant Council had known about his appearance for nearly a week ahead of time. The rest of the council had been running scared, plans upon plans being implemented to make sure their fortunes would be safe. The only reason Makava remembered that meeting is because she told at least three of the other merchants to shove her axe up their asses blade first. They were annoying to deal with normally, with the added stress it was making her itch to kill something. Makava stopped for a second, glancing over at Gil between taking swigs of the liquor to weigh her options. As stated previously, she didn't know his end goal, but she didn't think that him knowing the Inquisitor's current location was going to do anything that would annoy her way of life. If it did, he would answer to her, and by all that was unholy he would answer in broken bones if she got a hold of him in a bad mood.

"Last I heard, he was at the Top of the Hill." A slang term for Lady Marinne's castle. A bit of information passed down from one of the other merchant council members just the other day, the meeting where Makava had snored halfway through the discussion. Once again, what she was failing to tell him were the details surrounding his appearance and his path that was taken from the gate to the castle, something he would undoubtedly be interested in if he was searching for the man in the first place. "Why so concerned with the Inquisi Gil face? You a witch or somethin'?" She joked, leaning across the table slightly with yet another one of her sharp toothed smiles.

Gil finished his own cup in one, swift gulp. He paused for a moment and cocked his head to the side. Though his attention quickly pulled away from her face and back towards the bottle. As if he were mulling her words through his head, which he was. He tumbled them around like dice, weighed them against whatever information he did know. This game, however, wasn’t one of chance. It never was. No, she didn’t operate like that. She’d share only what he wanted to share, when she wanted to share it. He poured himself another glass. He’d pace himself.

“Yeah. The Inquisi-fucker.” If someone asked him what was wrong with that bloody religion… he could’ve gone on for days—years, almost. Bloody awful, it was. Given the chance, he’d tear the whole thing sect down. Set it on fire, chew them up and spit them out. How much damage had they already caused in Korrigan? Too much. They poisoned everything they touched. His smirk was all teeth; bared against something that left a bitter taste in his mouth. He tapped the side of his temple, and shrugged his shoulders, “I’ve got eyes. Though apparently, not enough.”

Top of the Hill. With that she-devil of a woman. Sitting pretty in her fancy estate, no doubt lounging on a throne. He didn’t know much about her. From all the whispers on the streets, he’d heard that the women on the council were three times as frightening as the men. If they were anything like Makava and the Madame, he supposed it was probably true. If he was there, he was out of reach. On the streets? That was a different matter. He owned them. The slums, and the grimier parts, at least.

“I’d like to see ‘em dead,” the statement was said with a stern face, though it wobbled away into a grin and broke out into laughter. He snickered into his glass and tipped it back to his lips, choosing to take a longer swig this time. The word witch earned little more than an incredulous eyebrow, as if it were a ridiculous comment to make, “Got business with him, is all. Slew-eyed bastard wouldn’t dirty his pretty boots in the slums. What’s a man to do when the council’s too good to hear its people out?” A pause, and a heartbeat late, “No offense.”

A lie wasn’t exactly a lie if it was dressed up in truths; however casual they appeared.

"Stop bullshitting me." Makava almost immediately responded, taking another swig. "You want to kill the fucker, no need to dress it up and make it look pretty. Corpses tend to not look that way." She seemed to blow past the half-way insult from Gil about the Merchant council, mainly because he wasn't wrong. The council was formed to help the people who were actually in it, not the common folk or other would be traders. Makava had been asked to join awhile ago because she took the slave trade by storm, or to put it a bit more specifically, she cornered the gladiatorial market with her slaves and by extension started pushing other slavers out of the area. When they had first approached her, she had come very close to caving their skulls in and getting rid of the problem, luckily or unluckily, she had Brock by that point who had warned her against such actions and given her the upside to actually joining them. She would be the first to admit that she wasn't an advocate of the people, they were a bonus on her road to better her own way of life and those of her slaves. Free trade released her from the shackles that the council had arbitrarily placed on her, if it benefited other people in the long run, all the power to them but that wasn't her goal.

Makava gave a small smirk. She wasn't one for playing the 'game' as some were, but her intuition had gotten her this far and so long as she relied on it she seemed to get by just fine. "Going to be pretty hard to get to him for that Gil Face, especially with what's following in his wake." Makava gave a small laugh, she loved it when she knew something that Gil didn't if only because it gave her a small sense of victory that usually only came with blood.

Gil’s snort was far more honest this time. As expected, Makava had read straight through him. He didn’t particularly mind. Not with her, at least. It wasn’t likely that she’d try severing his head from his shoulders for… heretical, blasphemous notions. Sometimes, just saying so in Korrigan, in front of the wrong people, would send you straight to the block or ropes; neither options he fancied. He’d rather die bleeding in the streets, where he belonged. “Fine, fine. You’re right,” his smile only wavered a fraction, “I do want him dead.” This, however, was stated with a straight face; an expression tempered with countless sacrifices, those already made, and those to come.

“Don’t suppose you’d be willing to part with any information for free,” his eyebrows raised inquiringly. He’d come into this with low expectations—though they were there all the same, idling in the background like a hound feverishly pulling at its reigns. He wanted it. Badly. Makava was as flighty as she was violent. If she didn’t feel like giving him anything… she simply wouldn’t. “Didn’t think you liked the bastard either. Wouldn’t I be doing you a favor? Maybe someone better will take his place. Maybe, it wouldn’t need filling at all.”

"Don't pretend to know my intentions Gil Face, you're better than that." Makava stated, her smile gone and her eyes piercing through his for a moment before she waved the bar wench over, who did so with somewhat of an eye roll. Something that Makava had to physically hold herself back from decking her in the face for. As she approached the table, she pointed at the bottle. "One more." she stated in Darini before pointing at Gil. "His tab." The wench gave a nod before walking away. Makave returned her full attention to the man in front of her, placing her chin in her hand as if she was completely bored of the conversation already.

"Killing him doesn't affect me in the slightest, unless I started praising some blasphemous god or shooting fire out of my hands." Makava traced a circle in the table surface. "Really, he just doesn't concern me... nor does his small army he'll be bringing in a week's time." Makava let the info slip pretty easily, her reasons for doing so having been stated pretty clearly. Alive or dead, the Inquisitor wasn't her problem and she couldn't care less about what happened to him or his dogs. "Rumor has it that he's going to be performing some sort of operation here in Korrigan, the likes of which haven't been touched upon by anyone I talk to, but chances are it won't be nice for anyone of the magical persuasion." The wench came back, placing another bottle on the table before leaving to help some other customers. Makava grabbed both bottles, what was left of the first one anyways, before standing from her position.

"End of the day, what you do with this information is your own choice, but you'll have a week before you have the full force of the Inquisition present in the city. So good luck with that Gil Face." Makava wandered around the table, holding both bottles in one hand as she stood before him. "Do your best to not die, I don't often get free booze without some drunk assholes hitting on me... Dumb fucks." Makava took the last drink out of the previously opened bottle before tossing it carelessly onto the table and watching it roll onto the floor on the opposite side. She gave a shrug, before leaving with a simple wave and exiting the bar. She had been away from the stall for long enough, plus she had a bottle of liquor. She could make it through the rest of the day now... maybe... probably not.

Gil watched her swagger out the door without so much as a goodbye, as if telling him not to die was something of the same fashion. He lifted his hand in a small wave, even if she was gone by the time he'd done so. A small smile twisted on his lips, pulling back to bear his teeth. That was enough to go on. It wouldn't elude his rats if he was planning something in Korrigan. These things always happened in public. Why do something in secret when it was far more effective to strike fear in their wretched, corrupted hearts? No. He'd see him soon enough. Like Makava said, he'd do his best not to die.