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Rivalries Don't Necessarily Have to be Bitter (Read Only)

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Rivalries Don't Necessarily Have to be Bitter (Read Only)

Post by Svadilfare on Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:43 am

Nari Taloe strode across the darkened tavern to the cloaked figure sitting near the back. In her left hand was a sack, the bottom of which was seeped in blood. She left a trail of it behind her, not that anyone seemed to care; she was in Kakos, after all. The sack was dropped unceremoniously onto the table of the cloaked figure, knocking over a cup of ale. The tavern became silent for a moment. Nari always thought it odd that only a cup of spilled ale could grab the attention of everyone in a tavern. Why was it that practically everything else went ignored? Was it sinful to spill ale? Did doing so break some sort of unwritten law? If it was, it apparently only mattered if the ale spilled belonged to someone important, because soon everyone was minding their own business again. Noise filled the tavern once more and Nari turned her attention back to the figure. "After all the trouble I went through, I'd tell you to buy another if it bothers you so much. But since you're payment is so generous, I wouldn't mind paying for someone else's ale this one time."

A thin, bony hand emerged from the blackness of the cloak and grasped the bloody sack on the table. Ale and blood mixed together as it was dragged closer to the hidden being. A second hand reached inside and pulled the source of the red from within: a severed head. "The ale is of no concern," came a voice as thin as the fingers. It was raspy and easily drowned out by even the whispers of the nearest patron, clearly belonging to an elderly person. Removal of the hood of the dark cloak revealed the elderly to be a woman. Her hair was grey and thinner than her voice. Hey brown eyes, vibrant and clear once, were now muddied and sunken in. Her skin was cracked and stretched taught over her frail bones. "It wasn't mine, anyway. I would have preferred... the heart.. but this will do. I will have the rest of your payment... once you have done one more thing for me, of course."

Nari frowned. "One more thing? You said that the last time. The only reason I agreed then was because you agreed to pay me double. I assume you're going to triple it now?"

"No. I do not require your trade again. I simply need help with something... and since you're here..."

The Gynaikes assassin drew a blade from her hip. Just like the trail of blood she left behind on her way in, this too went unnoticed. "I don't do anything for free, you old bag of bones. And I don't do anything but kill. If you require anything else, find someone with a heart. Now I want the coin you owe me."

The elderly woman seemed unfazed by the assassin's reaction. This certainly wasn't the first time she had had a blade drawn and pointed at her. "I don't have it... That's what I wanted your help with. You see, I--" her sentence was never finished. In a movement too quick for such old eyes to catch, Nari's blade glided across the sagged skin of the older woman. It took a second or two longer than normal, for the skin was old and a victim of gravity, folded and drooping. But nevertheless, the blade did its job and soon the old woman fell forward onto the table, adding to the pool of ale that already lay beneath her. Now, the patrons of the tavern took notice of Nari once again. There were a few looks of approval--it wasn't every day that even the most hardened criminals had the guts to kill in a tavern. The tavern, after all--especially in Kakos--was the main base of operations for assassins, thieves, plain old criminals, etc. However, the regular crowd wouldn't enter if they knew these people who depended on their coin didn't hesitate to turn on them. So Nari was subject to more looks of disapproval. But she could care less. No one cheated Nari Taloe.

The Gynaikes assassin wiped her blade off on one of the patrons as she walked by. Once outside, she turned right and made her way to the inn she typically stayed at whenever she was in Kakos. Though she stayed at the inn, Nari actually lived here. There was something about living among the most dangerous people in the world that appealed to her. Maybe because she was one herself. Still, she made a point of only going to her house when she'd been away from the city for a long time. She lived in a city crawling with thieves and other assassins; being the latter herself, she didn't want everyone knowing where she lived. She wondered for a moment if everyone else who lived here slept in inns even though they had houses.

The inn Nari stayed at was nearly empty tonight. It usually was a couple days a week. Why? She didn't know and didn't care. The innkeeper was asleep when she walked in but promptly awoke at the sound of Nari's knife too close to his ear and pretended to be very busy cleaning mugs. A dark chuckle left Nari's lips as she continued on to her room. She enjoyed giving the innkeeper a mini heart attack every night. It kept him on his toes, she told him the one time he summoned up the courage to ask why she awoke him in such a manner. Having an alert innkeeper meant she would be alerted to any potential threats. So the fact that her room's door was slightly ajar was an unpleasant surprise. The innkeeper knew better than to go into Nari's room. He had done so once, just to tidy it up as he did all the other rooms, and she almost cut off his fingers when she discovered him. It took an hour of begging to convince her not to do so. So who had gone into her room? And why hadn't he told her about it?

The door creaked as the woman opened it further. In each hand she held a dagger, ready to do battle if the intruder were still around. The moment she put her head close to the door as she prepared to peer around it, however, a blade struck it. Nari hissed as the edge of the blade had just grazed her cheek, enough to leave a small cut. She looked in the direction the blade had come from and saw an undeniably male figure in the center of her room, just to the left of the door where he would have been hidden by the door itself until Nari had looked around it or opened it all the way. The room was dark, but Nari didn't need to see to know who stood in her room. She smiled. "Leo. How nice of you to drop by."

"Didn't I tell you not to call me that?" Svadilfare asked, knowing Nari would ignore the question. "Unfortunately, I'm not here for leisure."

"I doubt you even know what leisure means, Leo." Nari replied, ignoring Svadilfare's disdain for her nickname, as she always did. "So what business brings you to Kakos and to me, of all people?" Nari yanked his knife from her door and threw it back at him with no less intent than to strike a lethal blow, then wiped the blood she could feel beginning to dry on her right cheek.

Svadilfare, with no intention of giving Nari what she wanted, instead caught the blade in his right hand. He didn't seem aware of the pain that doing so caused. "I've been hired for an assassin that regretfully requires two to succeed," he answered as he returned his knife to its sheath. "I am not opposed to working with another," he added, "I regret only that this means I must work with you."

Nari seemed almost to pout when Svad didn't side step the dagger like she'd wanted him to. She laughed at his answer. "Oh? And why I of all the assassins in Kakos? Have you missed me after all? Did you finally admit to yourself that I am the best there is?"

The Pride of Kyro smirked, but not in amusement. "Because you were specifically requested." He held out a piece of parchment, which she took. As she unfolded it, he conjured a small fireball in his left hand so she would have light to read with. Nari blinked at this and was genuinely surprised.

"Since when do you dabble in the black arts?" she asked as she began reading, not expecting to receive an answer. When she finished, she looked up at Svad. "The payment?"

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't an amount you would deem worthy enough to have to work with another in order to get."

Now Nari was interested. "And the target?"

"Unknown. I'm to return with you before any more details are shared. I've had a long journey, so we'll set out in the morning." Svad pushed past Nari and made his way out of her room to his own, which was right across the hall.

"Where are we going?" Nari called after him as she turned to make sure he left her room.

"Do you really care?" his answer came before he closed the door to his own room. She didn't. Shrugging, Nari made a mental note to punish the innkeeper tomorrow before closing her door and preparing to sleep.


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Re: Rivalries Don't Necessarily Have to be Bitter (Read Only)

Post by Svadilfare on Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:19 am

Kakos became just another murky thing in the distance as the two assassins made their way through the swamps. The going was slow because Svadilfare insisted on not using horses until they left the small settlement near the edge of NightWing--he had learned from Cele that the dragons who lived here were called that--territory. As a result, it would take Svadilfare and Nari a whole day and an hour or so of the next to get to the neighboring Dragon territory--the FireWings. The duo were on their way to Brysur, a trip that was long enough on horseback; having to spend a whole day on foot would only make it longer and this annoyed the assassin from Gynaikes.

"I don't see why we have to walk," the woman named Nari Taloe complained as she followed a few paces behind the Pride of Kryo. "I rode my horse here and she did just fine."

"That's because you were lucky not to guide your horse into deeper areas that hide creatures and devouring mud. But even if you avoid those things, traveling through this swamp is tiring. It's better we go through it ourselves; we'll have to stop for the night anyway, it doesn't have to be because our mounts tired too soon." Svadilfare glanced over his left shoulder at Nari with a somewhat impatient look in his eye. "I prefer you walk beside me."

"I think you just like taking forever to get from one point to the next. It's ridiculous. And what's the matter, afraid I might try something back here? If I wanted to kill you, Leo, I'd let you see my face while I did it."

"Hm. You'd stand a better chance of me helping you out of whatever mess you get yourself into if you're up here. And please, if I must be killed by the likes of you, Nari, spare me having to see your face. And... please... stop calling me Leo."

"Oh, Leo, you do care," Nari said with mock admiration. "I always knew you did." Svadilfare rolled his eyes and was quite tempted to use the knife his right hand currently rested on. Though she couldn't see his face, Nari seemed to know that he'd rolled his eyes--just as Svad seemed to feel the smirk that crossed Nari's lips at the same time. For the next several hours, the two shadow murderers trekked the swamp in silence. Wanting to cover as much distance as possible before nightfall, they didn't stop for rest or sustenance.

The mists that sat atop the water of the swamp grew thicker as the day drew to a close. The air seemed to be even warmer. It wasn't to a degree that encouraged one to perspire, but it was by no means comfortable. It encouraged insects to swarm in the thousands, to fill the evening with their songs. The moon rose, if only to add to the eerieness the swamps took on at night, and was immediately obscured by clouds. But it was not so concealed that it couldn't show the assassins a place where they might rest for a while.

The small island the moonlight shone upon was covered in long, wilted grass. Naught but perhaps some small rodents and insects lived on it. Svadilfare and Nari decided to make their camp here. The Gynaikes woman to the west side of the small island, while the Kryoan male took the east. They ate little and spoke even less before turning in. The insects and water lapping at the edges of the island lulled the assassins to sleep.

Svadilfare's sleep was void of dreams. Nari Taloe on the other hand, dreamed of a life that was lived ages ago. Nari sat on the ground in front of her family's hut. Her brown hair was braided in two long strands that came down to her lower back. She wore a green dress, though it was stained with dust and mud. In her hands, she held a crude toy--a doll--she had made herself with sticks and some cloth. She was quite proud of it and always had it with her. In front of her, though she paid little attention to anything other than her toy, her older brother and sister were training...

The mist was made aware of its fast-approaching demise as the sky began to change color. It changed from black as pitch to ocean blue. As the last of the stars retreated, the sun climbed above the horizon. It was a brilliant orange, cool enough to be viewed with locked eyes. Svadilfare was awake already and eating. Nari still slept... for the moment. The Kryoan conjured a small fire ball and set the grass around Nari alight. With the smoke filling her nostrils, it didn't take long for the Gynaikes woman to wake. She jumped up as if she herself were on fire and stared hard at Svadilfare who, intentionally, still had a ball of fire floating above his palm. "What was that?!"

A humorless smile crossed the Kryoan's face. Well, mostly humorless. "That was a warning for you not to sleep so soundly. You're an assassin, you shouldn't even be sleeping."

"Ha! Said the one who sleeps himself."

"Well there's a difference between us, Nari. I am a master of our craft."

"If you want me to kill you, Leo, you just have to ask." Nari stepped over the ring of fire and picked up her weapons. "Let's go. I'm tired of this swamp."

"You're not going to eat?" Svad asked as Nari slid down the island and into the cold swamp water. The woman kept walking. Svadilfare remained until he had finished then gathered his things and followed. By midday, the duo arrived at the small settlement at the edge of the border. They stayed only long enough to get horses and spoke only to the owners of those horses.

The land of the NightWings was paradise compared to the sweltering heat of the volcano-riddled land of the FireWings. They stopped often for the sake of the horses and--though they wouldn't admit it--themselves. Nari had grown up here, lived here until she was old enough to kill an adult. Still, after years of living in more hospitable environments, she needed time to readjust. Svadilfare, on the other hand, was like to die here. He had removed his fur clothing and adopted the attire of the natives; still he sweated more than he ever had in his life and faster than he could replace it.

Nari and Svadilfare rose from another break and guided their horses on foot. Around them volcanic mud and gases bubbled up from superheated pools. Lava flowed, cooled, hardened. It created rivers that couldn't be crossed, hills that could only be admired. The air took breath instead of giving it, gripping the throat with heated fingers and burning the lungs. At times the ground shook and the assassins looked to the nearest volcano. Smoke might rise from it, from its crater or simply from the gases and lava around it, but never was that particular mountain of fire the one ready to erupt.

As much as Nari had hated the first leg of their journey, she was beginning to hate this even more. Their constant stopping meant their trek through the heart of FireWing lands would take at least four days.


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Re: Rivalries Don't Necessarily Have to be Bitter (Read Only)

Post by Baldirak Sapiens Draco on Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:15 am

(Note to self to finish the next post.)

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