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eggsinabasket

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  1. On review, when the passengers talked between themselves later on or when they dreamed about it in the dead of night, it'd be difficult to pinpoint what actually made the sound. It could have been the horses. They were well trained but would they have been the first soldier to find their hands shaking in the thunder of battle and dropping their guard? It could have been the children, not just the two in front of Lupin and Shoko, but any of those scattered throughout the bus in attendance of family to their final destination. It could have just been a bird passing overhead, taking a kernel-filled shit on them or landing and pecking at something shiny on the roof. Whatever it was, the bears heard something which put them on a collision course with the bus. The first bear rammed into the bus and lifted it a few inches off the ground but the heavy vehicle settled back to the earth. Spooked, the horses took off at once. They were fleet but the two bears, unencumbered and hungry, weren't slowpokes themselves and were closing distance on them. One of the passengers, really the bus driver's assistant, let himself out through the bus's doors and pulled himself onto the top of the moving, shaking, omnibus. Not one to miss a party, Lupin did the same thing, pulling himself out of his window and onto the roof. The rest of the story gets a little vague here. The only person that, so far, has a direct line of sight is the bus driver's assistant, and he only likes to talk about his job when he's off the job and drinking (he and Lupin become fast friends). What the passengers on the bus can see is: A bag of meat thrown off the omnibus, which catches the attention of the bears. They both stop to investigate, their figures shrinking as the omninbus puts distance between them – then something that looks like a black bowling pin, with a blue band around its neck that glows as it hits the ground and wobbles to a stand, and releases a cloud of mist that turns to ice as it hits the ground, the meat, and the bears, and quickly scatters in a wind. This pisses one of the bears off, which renews its interest in chasing the bus down. The other bats the bowling pin away and feasts on the meat, mildly inconvenienced. "Do it again!" Lupin's voice, barely audible over the chopping wind. Another bag of meat, another bowling pin. This time when the freezing mist goes off it fills in cylinder rather than dispersing, an invisible container that keeps the bear and the mist penned in until the bear is an ice statue vanishing in the distance. It'll thaw eventually, but at least they got away.
  2. Lupin brought his knees to his chest and turned a reverse tuck into an effortless handstand. With supreme control of self and gymnastic flexibility he bent nearly in half, bringing his feet to the floor and erecting his upper body to a stand. Right off Lupin had to assure the omnibus driver that the whole affair was an accidental one and he had no intention of making a ruckus and spooking the horses. After paying their way, a silver piece for each of them because the carriage would be taking them across a short run of country, the two members of Crow company settled in. naturally the seats in the back, that is to say the seats furthest from all of the horse ass, were already occupied. The crows counted themselves lucky to claim a pair of seats in the middle section, with window access. Lupin was anyway. Elbows out like the scythes of an armed chariot, Lupin claimed the seat and immediately stuck ne arm out the window, broadcasting the message to anyone around him that he would have to be bodily pulled from his seat if someone wanted to take it away from him. If that someone was Shoko? Good luck! "Not bad." The journey was not a very long one. It would have taken them less than a day's march to cross the distance from Aurum's Promise into Caigh Ayrd, and from there into Oakenshield Town. The omnibus made that a matter of fairly comfortable hours. The only three things Lupin would have liked would be some kind of in-vehicle toilet, in-vehicle dining, and better scenery to spy through the window other than an endless parade of trees. But it was better than walking. Maybe halfway through their trip and whatever pleasant chat may have occupied them and the other patrons, Lupin leaned over the edge of the seat in front of him and tapped the shoulder of the person there. "Say, I been meaning to ask. What's this talk I've been hearing about magma bears?" As if on cosmic cue the omnibus rolled to a gentle stop. The mother of two he questioned addressed him with only a partial turn of her head over her shoulder. "Fella my guess is you're about to find out."
  3. Shoko had some interesting and appropriate questions to ask about the magma bears. She even had one locked and loaded about the town and how to find it which made a lot of sense in terms of things worth wondering about. Lupin tapped his chin in thought while searching the skies for answers. Finding none he turned his attention to her in full with a yokel's vapid smile crawling across his lips. "Don't rightly know. Guess they're gonna be paying us to find out!" Shoko's next string of questions feel less like actual questions and more like rhetorical pathfinding. She wasn't looking to him for answers but mining them out of the fabric of reality with the pointed chisel tips of her words and the intangible thoughts those words represented. Lupin meanwhile was doing no talking at all. His mind grew as still as an untouched pond while predator's eyes sought breaks in the pattern. "That looks lik-" Shoko shouted over him a half-second later and was off. "I saw it first!" Lupin shot after her. Long strides brought him behind then alongside then in front of Shoko in short order. "I want you to know I saw it first! That's really important to me!" Lupin turned his head to shout at Shoko over his shoulder. The trip was inevitable. Honed reflexes turned the fall into a tumble and Lupin rolled back onto his feet with grace and aplomb before running into three and completely losing his balance. To his credit he almost turned this one into a proper roll too but lacked the momentum and fell flat on his back with a painful release of air. Right in front of the cart, perhaps a little too close to a pile of horse shit. Counting the imginary birds in the sky Lupin offered up: "Ask...the driver...about the...bears...the magma...bears"
  4. Salted winds scatter their minerals onto his face. When the waves rock the side of the ship and creep up the hull and spray against his face, the salt gets in his eyes; it makes his eyes sting; it makes Lupin curse and stomp and fog his body with a miasma of general ill will. Just once Lupin gets into a fist fight with another passenger, another man of annoyance equally baseless and directionless. Bloody noses and black eyes, the discharge of adrenaline flushing out anxiety's toxins, and the two become friends for the remainder of the trip, if not gambling or drinking or singing, then all three at once. At the end of their overseas journey to Caigh Ayrd, really throughout the whole damn thing, Shoko is plying her subtle trade, gathering information through the art of conversation and the power of the social network. She's so good and subtle at this Lupin sometimes wonders if she even knows what she's doing. It's difficult for him to imagine conversation for its own sake, absent of agenda, without aim or end. So he doesn't. Carting their luggage from their modest rooms across the deck so they can disembark, he catches Shoko again engaged, this time with some sort of walking antique. Makes sense. The woman was ancient. Who better to mine? An inland wind blows across the dock, bringing with it the sour scent of huddled peoples, the bracing smells of wood and earth further out, and a snippet of conversation. Lupin hears: "It's the ash in the air." He replies to no one in particular. "Gross." He comes to Shoko just as the old woman departs, slinging his pack over his shoulder and holding hers out. "Oakenshield Town. Actually first we're going to ask around for some sort of omnibus or horse rental or something because my friend tells me there's fucking magma bears running around out there. I didn't know about that when I took up the job but hey, live, learn, live some more, right? Ah it'll be fine!" Their conversation carries them down the passenger ramp and onto land proper.
  5. Crow's Nest tavern and inn located in Aligoria and is the main base for Crow Company Not far from the docks in Aligoria there is a tall building made of timber, painted in warm, inviting colors. A big sign on top of the front door reads "Crow’s Nest: Tavern & Inn". Weary travelers and curious tourists can find comfortable accommodation and excellent customer service here, in one the city’s newest taverns. "It’s cheaper than staying at The False Ship," you hear people say. "And lacks the spooky atmosphere, y’know?" Crow Company bought the deed in (598 WTA) and after a quick renovation the tavern opened its doors to the public. The new business came with new job opportunities for the people of Aligoria, and it’s known that the owners also hire people that come from other places from time to time. Furthermore, it’s a hub for more than innocent travelers – if you have a need for information, be it from legal sources or some a little bit more shady, or if you need a job well done, in Crow’s Nest you’ll find what you need. So, what are you waiting for? Everyone is welcome at Crow’s Nest! (But be careful what you ask for… and be sure you’ll be able to pay.) Note: This is a hub thread so you’re free to enter whenever and interact with a) Crow Company’s members as long as they’re available; b) NPC personnel; c) each other: use it like any other hub point to have meetings or a night out or a pit-stop to sleep as you try to complete your tiring quest. Floor plan First: Tavern with bar and tables. Drink and food. Second: Inn where people can rent rooms to sleep. Third: Floor dedicated to members of Crow Company only. Amenities: Locker storage, bath, small stable for mounts. credits: base skeleton created by eggsinabasket, heavily updated by reachforstars
  6. Short Summary Lupin and Shoko meet at a mountaintop while each is picking a pack of precious peppers which are worth their weight in rhodium, a very precious metal in Lagrimosa. The two negotiate enough peppers for each while leaving the patch enough to replenish but then they are attacked by bandits. Lupin and Shoko form a partnership to survive getting back to Chesterfield and succeed. Long Summary Lupin and Shoko meet at a mountaintop while each is picking a pack of precious peppers which are worth their weight in rhodium, a very precious metal in Lagrimosa. The two negotiate enough peppers for each while leaving the patch enough to replenish but then they are attacked by bandits. Lupin suffers an injury that would have killed him if Shoko wasn't there to reveal the fact that she has the arcane ability to heal. Even though at the level of Lupin's injury it drains her energy drastically, she has reasons not to let a man die next to her. This moment of compassion becomes an anchor for Lupin later on, when they encounter the bandits further down the mountain. He extends an offer to Shoko to join his Crow Company, a band of mercenary-types stationed in Aligoria, who have the favor of the local king. The bandits had gone ahead of Lupin and Shoko and setup an ambush but were attacked by bird-like, fire-breathing, man-sized creatures which devastated their group. Lupin and Shoko decide to help them out, tranquilizing one of the two remaining creatures, saving the lives of the bandit leader and the bandits who were still alive. Lupin felt that was plenty and wanted to keep going on. Shoko wanted to stay behind and help them so that's what they did, Lupin helping Shoko by taking a survey, helping the bandits by moving the tranquilized beast further away, and helping them dig a mass grave. The two of them leave in the middle of the night and make it back to Chesterfield, sell of the papers, and chart a course to Aligoria. Consequences and Opportunities C – 15000 USD (about four bags of peppers I'm estimating) for Crow Company from selling the peppers. Some of this gets used to replenish herbs and stocks, and pay for transportation to Aligoria. 10000 USD leftover, 4K to each, 2K to the company C – A local bandit group is broken up. Some break off to go join Crow Company in Aligoria and others remain behind to keep preying on travelers. O – Multiple people know the location of this particular patch and it should be easier for people to get more of this. Hopefully they won't pick it clean! O – Pyrolisk mount somewhere out there!
  7. "Minus the expenses for what you spent outside the job to heal those poor saps. Plus a large bonus for saving the boss's life. I think in the final balance you come out something like a bandit." A wink, an easy smile as he took hold of the satchels bulging with luxury peppers by their drawstrings. The hours had treated Lupin well, despite the physical labor. Warmth, food, decent company by way of enemies turned tentative allies, all went a long way towards convalescence. The two of them returned to the injured group. Lupin was concise about their intentions and timeline. "We're going now. Like I said, look us up in Aligoria if you end up that way and are looking for some work." Then Lupin, however familiar and engaging Shoko may have been, focused on the task at hand of packing up. When they were done they went, simple as that. Offloading the peppers in Chesterfield was a breeze. The peppers required no provenance, were rare, were best consumed or dried as soon as possible so there was a time limit on negotiations. Paying out Shoko's salary, his own, putting aside tithes for Crow Company, still left them with enough to restock supplies and purchase an auto that could whisk them to Aligoria and keep them from tackling the Wilds on foot. When they got back to the Crow's Nest, Lupin introduced Shoko as "The Crow's lucky charm!"
  8. "Yeah." Lupin took a breath and heaved a sigh, large and dramatic and impossible to ignore. "Yeah sure. I already wasted three darts keeping them alive, may as well see my investment through to the end, yeah?" He made a big show of the inconvenience in the moment but didn't say another word on the subject. He did the rounds, took clear reports on who was hurt and the nature of their injuries. The first order of business was to haul off the sleeping creature so it would be somewhere distant when it woke. On his return Lupin placed himself on the frontlines to separate the living from the dead, then separate the dead from their weapons and provisions to fall back into the common pool for the remnants of their group, then to dig a ditch to act as mass grave for their fallen. He had to take breaks, a lot of them, but there were enough hands to share the work, thanks almost wholly to Shoko's efforts. This was over the course of hours, and the terminus of that course saw the lot of them placed in a vigilant circle around a roaring campfire. They breast, wing and leg from the slain creature, and some of its feathers went to fletch arrows or as small, decorative trophies of the event, a cause for triumph as much as a reason for mourning. "It's probably fine." Lupin spoke to Shoko, not quite in a whisper, but below the normal register of his speaking voice. When separating from the group Lupin made no secret of the fact that the intent was so that they could discuss their next steps in private; it was no one else's business and he had no shame in underscoring that fact. "But I'd rather not stick around. Let's leave them bandaged up, well fed, with a fire, and head out. We'll be tired when we get there but I'm about done with the Wilds."
  9. After one dart the winged, flame-breathing creature wobbled. After two it looked like it was moving through molasses, and furious about this fact. Lupin put a third one into it and watched it slump to the ground, then waited with a fourth in hand in case it stirred. It did not. Satisfied that it had no more stamina and anger than a rhino, which three darts would deal with, Lupin turned his attention to Shoko and the nameless others. Lupin put a hand on Shoko's shoulder as she opened the mouth of her pouch, hoping to still her. The night was quick upon them, the heat of the earth quickly seeping into the air, the stars were claiming their portions of sky alongside distant, sparkling scintilla of planets and the white beam of a strong moon. The cold that would soon come would not be unbearable, but neither would it be ignored. "I wouldn't worry about healing them. Their mess. We already did them a favor. That's what it's called when you don't charge someone a cent for saving their lives, right? Not even materials, and I make all my stuff by hand. That's my gift to you. You try and steal from me, I don't stab you in the fucking kidney when I get a chance. That's the kind of guy I am. Sometimes." What had once been his opponent, indeed the leader of a group of men and women who were only hours ago like reapers in his mind, were now human beings on the very verge of their own mortality, reapers of their own harvest, shearers of their own threads as they had been for others. There was death all around them. Here on the ground, not just the people but the creature as well, it had lost a mother or a brother or a lover or a child. Also in their past, at least in Lupin's past, and undoubtedly in Lupin's future. There was so much of it done and looming that Lupin felt he could afford taking a break from it now and then. "I tell you what though. If you make it through the night and back into town, you can find me in Aligoria, at the Crow's Nest. I got work for whoever stays alive enough to need it." Lupin turned to go and stopped part of the way through, remembering a most critical detail. "Actually that's just me. I've done all I'm good for." He motioned to the beast. "Shoko, it's you they need so it's your call. However you want to play it, I'm there with you."
  10. Lupin nods, as if the answer Shoko gave was the only answer she could have given. He finishes his tea and stokes the fire a little while working through what he wants to say in response, stretching his legs out before him and his arms up above as the words finally left their resting place. "The main outfit is in Aligoria. Like I was saying we got a business over there. We sell food and drink, rent most of the rooms for the scratch and that goes to keeping the whole lot of us clothed, fed, in good repair. We got a whole fleet of rooms that's just ours to put up our boots when needed. Aligoria is squat on the Day River and near the western coast so you can do a lot worse in terms of sitting down at a place with more than one way out." Lupin eases himself into motion when he notices Shoko getting her things together, following suit though slower and more delicate; his body is sore and he's mindful of its continuous, dull warnings against overexertion. "Ain't no problem with you traveling round. The uncanny gods know it better than I do that I can't stay cooped up in one place for long. So long as you 'write home', you know? I mean I'll put it this way. If you're always at the dinner table but no one ever sees you tending the field, that's the sort of thing that stands out. Family, sure, but business too. If you see one of us living off someone else's sweat, they ain't one of us, and I'd appreciate you letting me know." By all accounts Shoko should have heard the symphony of battle before Lupin. She had the keener senses, of that there could be no question. Still his body managed to tense at nearly the same time as hers, and he brought himself low, immersing himself into the brush with predatory ease. It was this slow, strained going for many minutes, then the woods fell away to a clearing and revealed the players. Winged creatures, taller than a man, with feathers and scales both, the keen eyes of a hawk and the sharp talons of a raptor – several of them dead, corpses cooling in the young night, and around those dead several more dead, the recently familiar forms of the bandits they had met in the pepper patch. The creature arched its back and spat out a gout of fire and its target, the man they had spoken to before, the leader of those who had charged at them with murderous intent, just barely made the dodge. He stumbled to a stand and held a sword between him and the creature, exhausted, one eye swollen shut and bleeding from a cut in the brow. "Hah." Lupin chuckled. "Can you believe the luck? We would have run into the fire-breathing bastards ourselves, if the other bastards didn't try to cut us off and meet them first. I'm going to commission a bard to make a song out of this one I think." Without another word Lupin raised a blowgun to his lips and shot a tranquilizer dart at the beast.
  11. "What do you do?" "I do whatever it takes, is what I do." Lupin said it fast, almost snapping at her, almost as if offended, but crucially lacking any trace of venom; whatever bitter spite had bubbled up in him in that instant was not directed at Shoko, or at anyone in particular, but vented in all directions. "We, I should get used to saying. There's more than just me, a lot more. Strangers who became friends over in Aligoria, who became brothers and sisters, as near enough to a brother and sister as I can guess at anyway. Bunch of people all rowing in one direction, committed to the welfare of the group. That's a family, right?" Lupin looked stronger. Maybe the tea, maybe the waning, darkening night of day, maybe the power of his own constitution. He still winced when he inched from his support closer to the fire, but the fact that he felt good enough to make the move was a positive sign. "I'll tell you about just me if you want, but that should be a separate talk. I don't want what I've done on my own to reflect on the rest of them you know? What we've done I can tell you in full honesty, is we helped the Aligorian guard stop a rebel band from doing things rebels do. We did a good enough job of it that the king gave us a tavern when I asked for it." "A lot of our people just work out of there. It's a real business. We need cooks, and dish washers, and things like that. But those are soldiers I'm talking about, you know? So a lot of them will do different kinds of work as suits them to help the company out. I'm here damn near dying over a pack of peppers for example." A healthier Lupin would have laughed, but his smile looked hearty enough. "If you want a simple job, fair pay, lodgings, we got all three. What I'd like you for gets you a much bigger slice of the pie but it takes more to get too. You're a healer. Can't tell you how much of a difference that could make for a big job."
  12. "It's the 'almost' that has me chipper. Air's a little sweeter, color's a little brighter, all that life affirming crap." He's smiling as Shoko seizes onto the word and works it over and over until it yields a little insight. When she's cracked it Lupin nods, his smile bubbles into laughter, and then a lightning bolt of pain strikes across his face, bending him over at the waist – hands on knees, Lupin heaves and empties his stomach onto the floor. He heaves again and this time it's bile. A third time and he's empty, spitting to clear the bitter acid taste from his mouth. Shoko poses her question, a response to his own, a continuation of a conversation he had a clear interest in, but Lupin doesn't bite. It seems at first as if maybe he didn't hear her, but on asking the question again Lupin remained silent, and if asked anything else, he merely responded with, "Hold on" and kept walking. By the waxy look to his skin, the pallor, the sheen of sweat, the occasional flash of gritted teeth and the sound of labored breathing, Lupin was not in a good spot. He refused to say anything else but also refused to stop or even slow down. Until, maybe 20 minutes out from the spot Shoko had saved his life and 19 minutes from where Lupin puked, he put a hand against a tree and leaned heavy on it, panting. "I need to rest. I need to eat. I lost more blood than I thought, must have been riding adrenaline. Maybe we're far enough out . . . you know how to make a smokeless campfire? I can tell you how I just can't do much right now. Sorry. 'Fore too long I guess I'll be asking you to carry me on your back." "You asked me something before." Even if not needed Lupin walked her through the steps of setting up the firepit with good, dry wood and a backstop to channel the smoke; even if not needed, because Lupin had to feel useful somehow. They were now around the small fire, which he used to warm his dry provisions as well as spare water for Shoko's tea. He sipped at it now, feeling stronger and more complete by the second. "Matter of fact, yeah. I am hiring. The worst thing about a healer is that you don't know how good they are until you really need them. Some folk can cut a frog up paper thin right in front of your eyes, but freeze up when they're getting shot at. What just happened was as good as trial by fire. I'd be dumb to just, let that go."
  13. Lupin allowed himself to be led, to be placed on the ground, to have the shirt cut off his back. His only protests were those made from necessity, wrenched out of his throat by sharp, shooting pains and dull aches, but managed to suppress even these because he knew that too much noise would give their position away. True, the enemy had to take the long way down, and that meant a healthy buffer of time separated one party from the other . . . but even an hour had a way of dwindling to nothing when you were running for your life. Doubt, mixed with a little paranoia, mixed with a little self-awareness that the paranoia was unfounded, shaded Lupin's face in rapid succession. Before he could finish parsing his feelings Shoko pressed one of the bottles to his lips. Lupin could have knocked it away from his mouth, could have brought his sword up and giving her underarm a stiletto poke, but he had by then already accepted the fact that Shoko held all the cards. If she wanted him dead, she could have just left him, and he'd be dead from blood loss or from fending off the pepper bandits all on his own. So Lupin let the fluid make its way down his gullet and contended himself with an uneasy trust. "That's not that bad." He said, smacking his lips. "Tastes a little like, cherry? What was that anyway?" Aimless, distracting questions which broke to pieces when they crashed against the stony shores of Shoko's concentration. It dawned on Lupin that he was watching a professional in her element, if not someone who had once made a living then someone on whom fate had forced an undue and unwelcome experience. Lupin was thankful for that. "Hey, just want to say –" "Brace yourself" "Tha – AAH FUCK." And the shaft of wood was pulled free. Even during his pained scream Lupin had presence of mind to stop her from throwing the bloodied section of wood away. He took it and let it stick awkwardly out of the mouth of his pack; he'd nearly paid with his life for that little trinket, and Lupin intended to make good use of that fact. Five minutes later Lupin was getting to his feet on his own. "A week? That's not bad at all! I've had smaller wounds put me up for longer. Thank the gods for small miracles huh? Or rather thank the doc." He winked, the expression on his face a combination smile and wince. Lupin was no mage but he had come across healing magic before, had had occasion to make use of healing potions and the like. What he felt course through his body at Shoko's command was different. The end result the same, clotting wounds and knitting sinew, but the process to get there felt different. That was as far as someone like Lupin, uneducated in the arcane as he was, could take it. But it had him curious, and curiosity was a powerful engine. "You know," Lupin ventured after counting his peppers, his provisions, checking off the small list of weapons at his disposal and then making his way off the beaten path, leading them both back to civilization but ever mindful of the fact that there was a small handful of people lurking the landscape who were looking to commit murder. "You could make a mint with abilities like that. Ever thought about a business?"
  14. "I went and got myself peppered up real nicely, that's what I did." He said it with a playful tone but the strain in it was unmistakable, the periodic gritting of his teeth from the pain tensed his words. He turned, delicately, and touched his tender left side. Blood soaked his shirt and dripped down to his hip from that light touch – a shank of wood, like the head and shaft of an arrow or like a small spear, stuck clean through his side. "I'd say pretty soon the shock is going to wear off and I'm not going to be able to stop myself from hollering like a dog. I want to pull it out but it's probably plugging up the wound and I'll bleed out faster if I do that. So I'll just break it off here." He reached out, held the wood in place with one hand, broke the end off with the other in a clean motion that still jiggled the shaft and made him wince and yelp. But at least it wasn't sticking out so much. "I dunno. I want to make a fire, heat up my sword, cauterize it. I can make it town like that. Probably. But the light and smoke… any chance you got a needle and thread?" Lupin's eyes were glassy, his face pale, his breath grew increasingly more rapid and shallow. He hated being in the grip of someone else's attention and skill. But something about Shoko made him feel alright leaning on her like he was trying to do, and made him feel like he wasn't an absolute rube for asking. What he kept to himself for the time being is that he had other options, and that if she refused to help or wanted to but didn't have the means, Lupin still had a way out. "Don't have much time either way."
  15. "What?" Shoko whispered something just a hair above the audible register. He almost missed it but was able to fall into line when he saw the steps of her masquerade. For the most part his role was keeping quiet and staying ready, so that's what he did. When the time came to act Lupin snapped into action. He ran too. Towards the bandit, rather than away. "Hah!" Wry amusement exploded from him the same as he exploded from a standing position into a full tilt sprint; there, stumbling back and sputtering with a needle in his throat, that could have been Lupin if he didn't have the grace to be a touch more paranoid about everyone he met. He covered the distance in no time. The attack was simple in practice, a straight rush forward and then a straight rush back to join Shoko in the thickening woods, where they could use the trees as cover to obscure their retreat and make remote attacks more difficult. But it was in the communion of these two moments where his artistry lay, because it was in the moment which separated the two motions that Lupin stabbed his sword through the man's leg and withdrew without wasted motion. There was blood and screaming. The attack had been a suicide run, and looked the part as crossbow bolts started showering on Lupin from the shadows, but Lupin managed to retreat without taking a single bolt. It was a truly surreal level of charm, and one might have thought Lupin gifted by the gods themselves, except that as he joined Shoko's side and as bandits came out from cover and took steady aim at Lupin's back only to find their bolts continuing to miss, everyone in earshot could hear his secret betrayed: "The bastard's using a ward! Get the caster bolts!" Fifteen seconds, maybe twenty, of uninterrupted, desperate running, then a tree to their right exploded in a flash of fire and a shower of bark and branches. The shrapnel came from all sorts of different angles, the concussive blast and loud noise painful and disorienting. Lupin, shaking his head to clear it as if that made any sense at all, grabbed Shoko by the wrist, pulled them both sharply to the left, and then jumped off a cliff edge. They fell, but not forever. After ten feet Lupin shaped a barrier which turned their freefall into a directed descent back towards the cliff and then held them in place. His hope was that they saw the jump, wouldn't see the bodies, and would route around to find them at the base.
  16. Lupin could hear the gears turning in Shoko's head. It was a matter of mathematics, the answer that you got when you added everything up. The chances she was out here for the sport of if were virtually nil, and he had just revealed that something she had her hands on was valuable; who in their right mind wouldn't start adding up past debts or looking ahead to lucrative lifestyle changes? The fact that Shoko angled for more of the peppers came as no surprise at all to Lupin. He was a mercenary, a vocation whose nature was predicated on the notion that nearly all aspects of life could be bought, sold, or traded. What surprised Lupin was how little she wanted considering all that. His consideration was brief, but not without depth. Lupin took one of the peppers he already plucked, dropped it on the ground, and crushed it beneath his heel, moistening the ground with a miniature explosion of pepper juice and seeds. "Yeah okay. I think between your two and my three, we should both start packing it up. I want to make sure we leave enough that these lovely little ladies reach their full bloom, and we can pick up a few more next season or next year or whatever, however long it takes these bastards to grow. What do you…" Lupin trailed off. His brow furrowed with concern, then the furrows deepened with anger, his gaze settling on Shoko as if she had betrayed him. He turned his body 90 degrees, so that his left side faced Shoko and his right side faced towards a separate section of mountain. From that side: Source "Well well. Ain't that darlin'. Two folk comin' 'round, stumbling upon a treasure trove and thinkin', why since there ain't no one else in sight I'll just plant my little flag down here and claim this spot in the name of my mother and father. Something like that right?" Lupin, fairly convinced by the man's demeanor towards both of them that he was not in league with Shoko, turned a little more his way, presenting part of his back to the pepper-picking woman. "Something like that, sure. At least I didn't see anyone's name on it. You…got a deed or something?" "Something like that. I have a few friends, and something about takers-keepers. What about you? You got friends too or just that little girl?"
  17. "Ugh." Lupin took a step back when the woman bared her teeth, then curiosity overtook repulsion and Lupin took a step forward and then another and another, until he could bend at the waist and be a few inches from her face. He studied her, openly intrigued and fully unashamed. In a way it was an insult, this was not the way that people looked at one another. In another way it was probably a little refreshing to meet someone who was guileless and seemed to make an effort to do the opposite of hiding his feelings. "Okay. You take care of yourself. I'll take care of myself. We'll just happen to be taking care of ourselves next to one another, and the gods pity whoever happens to get in the way yeah? Name's Lupin by the way." Lupin was surprised by the sound of his own name, said in his own voice. It wasn't his deepest secret. The name by itself couldn't narrow him down and he changed appearances the way people changed cheap shirts. But he still made it a habit, a strong and steady habit, to cycle through useless names with people he was sure he'd never see again. So what was he doing just throwing his real name out like that? "Actually, you know what? You seem pretty alright. I like making my way in the world and I won't let anyone stop that mind you but hey, if I can help my fellow brother, or fellow sister rather, then why not? I mean, am I ambitious or am I just some kinda punk loser asshole? You're better off selling that stuff than eating it. An ounce of these you could get something near enough an ounce of rhodium (500 dollars) for. I got bills to pay, you know?"
  18. "Hey now, stay back." Lupin called out to Shoko the moment she made herself known. Someone who had a much cooler hand and head than Lupin would have reached for his weapon without being so obvious, but Lupin jumped back and made a show of bringing his short sword out – he wanted whoever addressed him to know he was as willing as he was armed. Of course, a closer look revealed his mighty opponent to be a kid. And not a very large one at that, not one of those beefy folk that lead the pack in municipal sports. She was tiny, which invited a certain attitude from Lupin, but he knew from firsthand experience that getting this high up the mountain was no cakewalk. That meant there was something more to this one than the eye could appreciate at first glance. "A handful's what you're after? That seems just about right to me." He had no more claim to this mountain and to this patch of peppers than she did, but the girl had fallen for the trap of social honesty. See, by letting him know what she was after, what she was willing to do and how much she was willing to part with, Lupin knew just how much to give her, and no more. "So long as I get what I came here to get, I don't really care about what you do or what happens to you. But, since you're here and since I'm here, may as well pass a kind word between strangers and make the day go by a little faster, right? You can get your handful from that patch right over there, I'll be working on my section right here. Hell, when you're full up, I'll even escort you down the mountain, no charge. How's that sound missy?"
  19. What Lupin had to continually remind himself of was the fact that as clever as he was, and boy was he clever, that didn't make other people fools by default. There were people just as clever as him in the world trying to get one over on the next guy, and if you weren't careful then the next guy was you. When a deal is too good to be true and you show up expecting it, who's the sucker? These peppers could fetch a really hefty price but Lupin didn't know he was going to have to hike through a forest to get to the mountain they grew on. And when he got to the mountain they grew on, he didn't think he'd have to scale the damn thing and get up to a certain elevation. And when he got to the elevation, he thought they'd at least be growing by the handful, overabundance spilling color on the gray crags. Nope. He had to go foraging for them. "Well well well. After all that work..." Lupin reached out and plucked a single yellow-orange charapita pepper. He held it up, inspecting it in the bar of sunlight that peeked over the peak and filled the mountain pass. "I finally got you you bastard." Against the drab colors of the mountain, Lupin's dark attire made him difficult to distinguish from a shadow. Against the brightly colored patches of peppers however, he stood out exactly in the way you'd expect. He plucked the peppers one at a time because, looking around, it seemed to him if he didn't make too much of a mess with the patch, he'd be able to return to these parts regularly and net himself a few thousand bucks for glorified gardening. "Not bad at all." He said to himself, wearing the face of a greedy man but his hand calm and restrained. "Just don't cook your goose and its aces for you Lu."
  20. yeahh but like why specifically? what is it that crow company can offer a group like vcf that would make them interested? like what exactly would we be getting ourselves into in a deal like that?
  21. @Sanonymous uh hmmm. what is it that the VCF can offer and what is it that they hope to get? like what's a multinational outfit want with us? @Houndy Poochykins oh yeah that's totally fine. i would basically just need your character to have enough skill in that area in this case magic, to be able to count on them for that, for things that need magic. whatever skills they have outside of that are totally fine. for instance my character is the fighter in crow company but he has a rogues set of skills
  22. My crow company is up and coming and growing all the while. We've got a permanent hedquarters in Aligoria and just added an expert rogue into the mix, well a nother one that is. Basically right now I'm looking to fill up the other core roles for the company which are either a healer or a mage. I can recruit you through a quest in Aligoria so we can keep getting big there
  23. Short summary: Crow Company is a mercenary outfit that is making a name for itself in Aligoria. They complete their first successful job in penning in escaping Frost rebels during a raid by the Shadow Guard. Long summary: + the above. It's a simple job but the Crows manage to catch a high value target which gets a favorable eye from the Shadow King. The Crows build the Crow's Nest tavern and inn with an extra building to double as their member quarters, giving them a permanent residence and a source of legitimate income, however small and unsteady for the time being. Jiv'undus is a unrelated to Crow Company at first but serves alongside them during this mission. After Crow Company gets their own business who goes to see them again and is invited to join and offered a job by Crow Company to see if he has what it takes. Consequences: 1. A final unit of Frost rebels is defeated. 2. Crow Company builds the Crow's Nest, tavern and inn. 3. Jiv'undus takes a job from Crow Company to heist an expensive ration of rare tea from a local collector. Opportunities: 1. Join Jiv'undus on the heist (if he's interested) for personal benefit or to join Crow Company 2. Join Crow Company 3. Get revenge on Crow Company for their participation against the Frost agent (just remember that they're on the side of the Shadow King and have his favor) 4. Work a regular job at the Crow's Nest
  24. Lupin didn't know the specifics about the man sitting across from him. He knew Malek was hiding something. Even if he couldn't pull that from the telltale signs of one old hand coming across another, it was a common enough experience in the circles each man frequented that it would have been foolish of Lupin to expect candor from a fellow rogue. However he knew well enough the man was capable of something. For all the gruff he gave Malek earlier about their job for the shadow guard, Lupin smelled the blood on him that day and saw that Malek didn't so much as have a thread out of place. That was a guy who knew his way around a blade better than a politician knew the red-light district. The tea was a test, and the test was a litmus, something of a formality to double-check his own biases and confirm the guy had at least as much steak as he did sizzle, but Lupin could already tell that Malek was going to make it back with treasure in hand and that the Crows were on their way up, as crows were wont to be. "I'm willing to share everything I know. After all, your success is mine. From this day on, all I'll ever want for you is to win as much as possible. Anyway we'll deal with all that stuff tomorrow. The whole night I planned around celebrating our victory, and I guess for now at least, that involves you too. You eat pork right?" (OOC: We're closing the thread off here. I'm going to put up the canon post and Jiv'undus is going to do an actual heist in an actual other thread!)
  25. Lupin joined in on the laughter. Just a smile at first but as Malek dove into his amusement Lupin followed and bubbled up a few chuckles. Malek then ended the laugh so suddenly it caught Lupin off guard. "Oh we're done laughing." He said it to himself, but only because Malek was already somehow at the bar, putting his hands on a bottle of wine. The discrepancy brought Lupin to his feet. Some of the others stopped working, and some kept on. Lupin glanced at a nearby candle, took notice of how much of it was spent, confirmed he hadn't lost time. It wasn't a charm at least. Whatever Malek did Lupin was pretty sure it wasn't a trick. Malek was back and tossing a bottle of wine at him. Lupin had every intention to catch it but had the reflexes to wait until it was further along its arc. Malek bet him to the punch and caught it himself midair with a hand made of smoke. So far as Lupin was concerned there was no point hiding the fact he was impressed. Malek knew what he was doing and Lupin had no issue showing his appreciation, even going so far as to clap, prompting others around them to join in. There was even a small ripple of cheers and whistles before they got back to working or drinking, per the dictates of their shift. "Cheers." Lupin took his drink and sipped at it the way he should, then knocked a gulp back the way he wanted. He left the rest of the wine to breathe while he got back into it with Malek. "That's the kind of fire I like to see. Now I tell you what I don't mind killing people but the kind of shop I want to run, we only assassinate when there's a premium attached. We don't do nothing without money at hand, and killing someone always draws the most heat and the stickiest charges. There's easier ways to get rich. What you get up to in your spare time is your business." "How's about we put some of that hopping around to a theft? Aligoria is known for its tea, and in this tea crazy place there's a guy known for his tea. I hear he's got this special collector's blend that's like, well let's just say it'd let us hire some contractors and sort out this construction in no time. It'd be a great christening for you. Maybe a permanent room in the Nest?"
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