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Breaking Ground (Wild Hearts)

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Jack had never been to Tellus Matter before, or at least not that he could remember at any rate. A place where islands floated in the sky, and cultures from all around the world blending together into something unique in all of Valucre. For the longest time he had aspired to go there, not just or business reasons, but to experience this amazing land firsthand. Part of him had feared that Port Sun would be a culture shock for him, but it didn't. Maybe that was because the Port was a territory of Taen, and was therefore similar to Lunaris, where he spent most of his time. 

Or maybe it was the thugs that tried to shake him and his employee down as they made their way down the street.

Somehow it was comforting to know that no matter where in the world one went, they could find the same kind of ambitious young criminals everywhere. He had asked his companion to hang back, and had then given them a sound beating; stopping just short of killing them so that he could interrogate them. Soon he had learned that the muggers were members of a fledgling gang known as the Rising Suns, and that they worked out of an old subway station. He had let them go afterwards, warning them to stay clear of the place from now on if they valued their lives.

He turned to Cerebri and grinned, "So, you ready to procure some real estate?"

@sorainvoked @Alexithymia @Aleksei

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The Helldriver watched on as his new boss continued to beat the living daylights out of the thugs who had the foresight to threaten a man superior to their talents with a certain amount of dispassion. The cretins weren't worth much to look at, but Cerebri had other plans. After the interrogation was done, the Helldriver pulled the group together. providing them with some medical coverage, which had earned him a little trust from them. There was, of course, a caveat to the coverage, which included spying on their current masters for him, in case there was any movement from them that would be detrimental to the arriving group's opening. He also needed minions, and where better to start looking than those already in the seedy underbelly of the area; those who already knew the ins and outs of the criminal going-ons of Tellus Matter. 

"Yep," he replied simply to his boss when the question fell upon him to to look for a space to set up their now expanding empire. He already had a small base of operations in Tellus Matter for his other jobs, but Cerebri did not want his other jobs to mix with the running of the newly minted crew's jobs, so he elected to bring them to a deceptively small house, one that was recently vacated by him when its occupant had failed to pay up the favour he was owed for completing a job for them. He was still going to claim his favour from them of course, but at the time he just felt that an empty house would be a good investment, and certainly enough it was. Opening the door, the house, while on the surface looked drab and dull with plenty of holes where upkeep was very much in need, actually boasted an incredibly luxurious and well furnished decor, filled with drapes of brilliant red, carpets of incredible green, and furniture fit for a king. "Ungh," he grunted, motioning for his companions to enter and make themselves at home. If anyone were to ask him how he got the place, he would just answer simply that he found it.

"Well, time to go to work," he muttered, after taking two long swigs from the nearby whiskey flask. Standing up, he took out a small goblin-made mirror, pictured the local barkeep in his head and tickled it. Slowly the image of Cerebri in the mirror started to swirl, eventually morphing itself into the image of the barkeep, holding three mugs of ale in his hand. "Hey! So good to see you," exclaimed the man. "What can I do you for?"

"I need information," muttered Cerebri. Digging through his pockets, the Helldriver produced a gold coin, which he then tossed into the mirror. The barkeep on the other end caught it, examined it quickly before placing it into his pocket with his free hand. 

"What do you wish to know?" the barkeep replied, smiling widely.

"Rising Sun," growled Cerebri simply.

Edited by sorainvoked

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ZpY6uTN.pngA small trickle of sweat carved its way down the length of her back, its trail having started at the base of her now craned neck. She has come to Renovatio many times on behalf of her master who had a solid contract with a rather unsavory bunch of men and women. Those times going between Kalopsia and Renovatio had planted the hopeful seeds of freedom. Those seconds she had tasted what it was like to be treated as someone and not something.

Here she stands as a freed slave, and she has peaked over her shoulder multiple times, eyed the shadows, hardly looked a passerbyer in the eye - fear, it was still embedded in her. The elf can still feel the weight of the shackles around her ankles and wrists, the biting edge of the collar that had left minor scars around her slender throat. Renovatio had been the peace because it did not agree with slavery; her actions and delegations are what made her, not the markings on her face. No slavers are hiding in the shadows she glared at and none in the crowds of people wandering about. The fears in her heart had no substance to them.

Eliza allowed herself to relax momentarily while Jack took care of the overzealous thugs. Fighting isn't outside her realm of skills, but the knowledge of how to throw a proper punch, how to hold a sword, those sorts of things make her a novice in comparison to the other two. Jack handled himself with envious ease, and Cerebri took charge of the situation to manipulate it in their favor better. 

There is so much she has to learn and be aware of. Eliza has done her fair share of getting people on her side, but it was never her coin and never her words that indeed persuaded them to stand by her. Now there is power in her freedom, and she must find her footing to make it proper. 

Sometime later the crew found themselves in a comfortable home that made her wrinkle her nose in disdain. It reminded her of a slimy old man who liked to live lavishly, to the point all his slaves wore gold chains and rings, their attire was always the best, and they smelled of honeysuckle and roses. The furnishings in the home would be right up his alley! Besides the obvious, the only things missing were the golden forks and spoons, and a large table surrounded by mages and their like. 

"That's amazing."

She peeked over Cerebri's shoulder; a grin spread across her face. These kinds of magical things have always perked her interest, seeing such a thing in action nearly tickled her to laughter. 

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The residence Cerebri led the trio to was shabby and unassuming on the outside, which made the opulence of its interior even more impressive upon entrance. Jack was duly impressed by his employee's hideout, even if his taste in interior decorating was a bit gaudy for him. At the Helldriver's bequest, he took a seat upon a plush red armchair, paired with a golden ottoman, which he put his feet on. Producing his own flask of whiskey as he watched the man consult some kind of mirror, and took a long pull from it. Figuring Cerebri wouldn't mind, he produced a cigarette case, plucked one out, and put it in his mouth before lighting up.

"Come now Eliza, leave him to it. Have a smoke, or a drink, or take a look at this."

He twirled the cane he had with him, and let the blade concealed within slide a few inches from its sheathe. With a thought, the blade began to crackle with electricity before bursting into flame.

 

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"Ohh, the Rising suns," cooed the barkeep in his signature singsong voice. "I'll tell you more about them in a minute, it won't do to talk about them so openly." Before Cerebri could protest, the barkeep called out to another patron to wait patiently for his beer as he needed to get another keg from the cellar, before heading down a trapdoor toward the alcoholic underground. Once he had stopped moving, the barkeep looked twice over his shoulder to make sure no one had followed him before pulling out the mirror once again. 

"From what I know there are three main leaders in the cult that is the Rising Sun. The first is Ra, a tall, handome young man who seems like he has eyes of a hawk. Apparently he's the man with all the information, the one they call spymaster. He has plenty of eyes and ears everywhere, so you coming into town is probably a known fact," the barkeep whispered. "I wouldn't mind getting my hands on that dark skinned boy, ooh what a handsome thing that would add to my collection." The barkeep shook in glee as his mind floated to other things. A quick throat clearing brought the man back down to earth.

"Then there's the second who is called Helios, and who is the one in direct competition with you. He's the one who is the deliverer; he gets shipments of all sorts of things from all over and transports them here to Tellus Mater. Also the bruiser of the three. More brawns than brain, unfortunately, so talking to him is like talking to a barrel of fish; no resposne, and all you get is wet for your efforts. Those pecs though, mmmm." The barkeep shivered once more, letting out a huge sigh. "Pity he won't be able to entertain me after all the physical fun is over." Cerebri rubbed his temple. 'This is going to be over', he kept thinking to himself, although he made a mental note to see what else Helios would have that would be of benefit to him.

"Then finally there's Sol Invictus." Cerebri perked up for a minute. He noticed that the bartender had become a little tense, and somehow fear clouded his eyes for a split moment, before continuing. "People call him Sol for short. Him I've had the pleasure of meeting. A brooding, middle aged man with a bit of a hunch, but don't let his supposedly frail looking body deceive you; beneath is a hardened man, capable of taking punishment as well as dishing out his own. He would have been the bruiser of the team if he did not have someone who was slightly better at that than he was, but still a scary sight to behold." The barkeep's eyes narrowed slightly. "It was he who started the whole gang to begin with, in my bar, just over a year ago. Damn near broke down the house, with all the bodies he threw against the rafters." 

As sudden as the barkeep became sullen, he perked up and went on. "The three of them are collectively known as 'the Belt'. And from what I know, they seem to have weekly meetings to discuss the state of their cult at ever changing locations. If you want to know more, I currently have two of their lieutenants in my bar having drinks. You can ask them if you please." The barkeep gave Cerebri a little wink. "Thank you," grunted Cerebri, before tossing another gold coin through the mirror. "You are welcome honey," the bartender chirped, before putting the coin in his pocket and the mirror down.

Cerebri turned back to the other guests in his house. "I know where more information can be found," he growled out to the two. "Let's go, I'll tell you more on the ride." Striding out of the house, he gave a whistle blast, which summoned his carriage to him. Clambering on, he waited for his guests before speeding away, telling them all what he had just learned.

Edited by sorainvoked

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ZpY6uTN.pngKind of hard not being nosey as all hell when you've lived a sheltered life, and every day Eliza finds herself slipping up here and there. Kalopsia has its wonders, but when you've seen them every day, you get more and more comfortable with griffons, dragons, and fairies. Something as exciting and unique like a communicating mirror trumps all those things when you've never seen such an item before. What makes it work? Is magic different here than it is anywhere else? Do these kinds of items just sprout from thin air or are there crafters?

Jack interrupted her long line of thinking by introducing a weapon that sparkled and then flamed. Where were they getting these things at, a corner store? What weapons she has hidden on her person are suitably mundane in comparison, making her feel somewhat ill-prepared for this whole ordeal. Looks like she will just have to pull out all the stops; thoughtfully, she cracks her knuckles while still eyeing Jack's flaming cane. When this whole thing is done and over with, she'll have to do a little shopping. 

"How useful is that in combat? Do you just give someone a shock before making them burn to death or?"

One ear waited for the answer while the other was attached to the conversation happening between Cerebri and his friend. Elves have fantastic hearing; she was able to hear most of the discussion without really putting a whole lot of effort into eavesdropping. 

"I'm behind in this whole weapon department."

She opened up her jacket for Jack to take a peek in; he would see some of your usual daggers and a few vials of things, at her hip she had a stiletto that's been used more times than she can count. Her fingers were wrapped in a somewhat professional manner, showing that she's ready to tussle whenever the time comes. There was a fancy knife in the toe of one of her boots that at least makes her feel a little updated. 

Then, in apparently the only fashion he operates in, Cerebri abruptly moves and beckons them to follow. Eliza had already gotten the gist of the conversation, but she will be patient and allow him to go over it, especially if it involved some sort of plan of attack. So, on command, she entered the carriage and listened patiently. 

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Jack laughed, "If I shocked someone with this, I wouldn't need to burn them to death. The flames it creates are showy, but the heat they create help the blade cut through most materials like butter. I can also make it heavier, but that doesn't have any easily demonstrable visual effect."

Sheathing the blade, he looked at the weapon contemplatively, "Three great beasts had to die to forge this blade. I think you will find that all the best weapons won't be found on a shelf in some store. No... you have to work for them. Not that your equipment isn't lovely my dear."

As Cerebri beckoned them into the carriage, Jack moved aside to let Eliza board before doing so himself. He listened to the quiet man explain everything he had learned and grinned widely when he was done.

"Excellent work. I shall let you take point when we arrive. Show me what you can do."

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Cerebri had a plan. He intended to walk into the bar, sit, and have a drink. After a few drinks, he had intended to act drunk, stir a ruckus, disturb the peace there in order to judge the reaction of the two lieutenants while hoping that someone would be able to sneak in and spike their drinks. After telling the two occupants of his plans, he motioned to Eliza to come over to him, where he asked gruffly if she would play his date for the evening. Depending on the answer, he would have to tweak his story, but the basic one was in place: either he would go in as a man who was spurned by someone he liked, thus giving him an excuse to drink, or he would go in with a fine lady, but make a fool of himself. This would too allow him to get to know the Elf lady more, and it was something he quietly hoped she would agree to. He did not want to seem eager to get to know her better, but every chance he got to get closer, he would try.

Whipping his horses into a frenzy, he turned several corners, each with surprising accuracy so that his passengers would feel nothing but a slight bump, and soon came to the front of the bar. Jumping off the driver's seat, he led his horses to the nearby trough and whistled low. The magitech horses lowered their heads and began refueling, taking in water quickly and letting off the steam as the cold water rapidly cooled the creatures. Depending on the elf's answer, he would either open the carriage door to let the lady out gracefully, or he would stomp off, banging the door of the bar as loudly as he could. 

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ZpY6uTN.pngEliza was delighted to speak with her companion in secret; there is just something mischievously fun about talking in lowered voices. Plus, she got to hold a minor conversation with Cerebri, something she has wanted to do since they had their interview. You quickly get the feeling that he is a unique man with secrets and quirks that's not everyone's cup of tea, making him more interesting than what's necessary. The elf was tickled to the point it was difficult to pay attention to his proposed plan. 

"I am up to playing the part!"

That left Jack to do the poisoning if everything goes right, and her to ensure that things remain distracting enough to get the overall job done. Not her first time doing something this shady, Eliza felt comfortably confident to put up with this charade. On the flipside, this is the first time she's genuinely mingled with the other associates, and that made her a bit nervous the closer they got to their destination. When Cerebri helped her out of the carriage, she bundled up her nervousness and grabbed his hand to be led into the bar. 

To play the part, she wove her arm around his and pulled him close. She would be playing the enthusiastic woman that laughs a bit too loud and speaks a little too low. Playing coy isn't her forte, so she will rely on entertaining her company with stories of home and her life there while leaving out a few pieces. Their employer is the only one who knows about her time in slavery, and it is only because he is not the person she should be lying to. Jack and Cerebri are soon-to-be friends, but first and foremost they are just workers like herself. There are just some secrets meant to stay as such.

As he guided them to their seats, she turned and laughed into his arm - a soft sound that echoed about the establishment. Taking some charge, the elf grabbed him by the hand and dragged him over to the bartop, all the while saying encouraging words that further imply the two are relationship status. She's never been in a relationship, let alone date, but she has been surrounded by women who've done more than just date and laugh at men's jokes. 

"Let's sit here! You can order the drinks."

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John was in no way blind to the fact that Cerebri was smitten with their elven coworker, and he found it equal parts amusing and endearing. He certainly wasn't going to stop the man from pursuing the relationship; so long as Eliza was alright with it. Life was too short not to try to seize happiness where one might find it. The crime lord felt a surge of happiness for his subordinate when the elf said yes to his plan. With that settled, John left to take up a position near the lieutenants; close enough to be able to move swiftly once the distraction started, but not close enough to be noticeable. 

He ordered a drink and waited for Cerebri to make his move.

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Cerebri was surprised how at ease his female companion was around him, seeing how he was always cold and rather aloof to the whole group to begin with. A companion to many men in the past? Someone with a lot of prior experience in such circumstances? Cerebri did not care at this time. He was with a beautiful lady, and all was right. After his companion had asked him to go get some drinks, Cerebri gave Eliza a small smile and walked off to the barkeep. "Give me two cups of your finest ale," he growled, before leaning on the tabletop. 

"Just a moment!"

Breaking out two large tankards filled to the brim, the barkeep nodded to Cerebri, smiling a wide grin. "Pretty lass," piped the barkeep, continuing his silly little grin. "Where'd you find such a fine one?" 

"None of your damn business," growled the Helldriver. Glancing back at the elf, Cerebri could not help but stare for a little bit. A rush of heat hit his cheeks and painted his visage rouge for a second. Realising this, Cerebri quickly asked for some ice, which he quickly rubbed on his cheeks to force the blood away. Once satisfied, he brought the tray of drink to their seats, where he placed them in front of the lady. "To you," he said in a gentler tone, though it still came out as somewhat rather gruff, and drained some of the golden liquid.

As the charade continued, Cerebri constantly scanned the room, looking out for the two lieutenants. They seemed to sit apart from each other, probably to discourage the notion that they knew each other, while being close enough to each other to assist should the need call for it. "Come on, let's find a more private area." Taking up both mugs, he strayed toward the two lieutanents, before tripping on purpose and sending his two tankards flying expertly at the two lieutanents. Immediately they shot up, avoiding the liquids with precision. 'Good reflexes,' Cerebri thought to himself, hoping that his other two companiions had noticed their movement. Quickly getting up, Cerebri apologised to the two men, offering to buy them drinks and insisting on doing so. Signalling to the barkeep to prepare two tankards of ale, he signalled to Eliza and Jack: it was time to move.

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ZpY6uTN.pngOutwardly the two painted a lovely little story of two individuals still exploring the wonders of their relationship. They made for a unique pair, but they quickly encompassed all those cheesy love stories you find tucked away in someone's library. They are a bit of a guilty pleasure for a few onlookers; a delicate bit of an elf attached to a brooding looking man who was just the right amount of 'rough around the edges.' As the few looked at the pair and then Eliza, who was left alone while Cerebri went to grab them drinks. 

She felt their eyes on her and only thought they looked at her because of the marks on her face, or the strange pointedness of her ears. A woman blind to infatuation and love to follow, the elf was left to wonder what exactly snagged their interests. During his departure, she looked around with a sort of giddy excitement, using the airs of an excited lover elated to have a public moment with her better half. What she saw was a simple little hole in the wall where the patrons knew each other by name, and the bartender knew all their drinks. It was terribly easy for her and the other two to blend in with terrible ease.

When he returned and offered a toast in her name, she laughed, but this round was a bit more shy in response. There was a little too much sincerity behind his declaration; it had caught her completely off guard.

"You can't be slipping that kind of charm into the conversation unexpectedly, you know."

Her response was slightly hidden behind the rim of her drink, which she sipped slowly, using the pause to recollect her composure. Then it was time to move; they moved, he acted, and the ball rolled from there with some relative ease. Eliza took the initiative to grab the drinks for the gentleman who looked somewhat disgruntled, but otherwise excellent as their drinks are replaced with apologies from herself and Cerebri. Such a show they didn't seem to be too bothered by the slight kerfuffle, but out of courtesy, Eliza suggested that perhaps they move to another table while the mess was cleaned. 

Saying this, she placed the new drinks to a table just behind them unattended for a second or two. 

"You'll have to excuse our giddiness," she leaned close to one of the lieutenants, "we're newly engaged!"

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