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Dmitry

A Gathering of Beasts

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In the city of Mezthaluan, located in the Midlands of Genesaris, a young man was sprinting at full speed. He wasn't all that imposing, standing at about five feet and three inches and wearing a plain attire consisting of a brown vest over a white, long sleeved shirt, black trousers, and dark brown shoes. The wind blew through his short-black hair and his dull, grey eyes were wide in panic as he bobbed and weaved in an effort to avoid knocking over random pedestrians.

'Late, late, late!' The sixteen year-old thought as he dashed through the Northern district of the city. It was the third time this week that he'd failed to wake up in time and he was close to losing the job he'd recently gotten, the fifth job he would have lost that year. In the span of about five minutes, the young man finally made it to the antique shop where he was currently employed. Before entering, he stopped outside the door and tried to catch his breath, panting heavily with his hands on his legs. He had never been very athletic and such a long run had taken the breath out of him, not that such a thing took much.

"Nikko!" A shout came to the boy's left, causing him to turn and face the man who hired him in the first place. "You're late again, damnit!" Nikko shrunk a bit as his employer stated the obvious, stammering a bit during his response. "Um, uh...y-yes sir, um, sorry sir!" Confidence was also not a strength the youth possessed, along with punctuality and stamina. "Oh, save it, just get to work in the shop already. I have to go meet an appraiser for that armor I just got. I'm not sure exactly what its worth, but I think I got it for a lot less than it was worth." The meek employee simply nodded his head over and over as the store owner turned and left, scurrying into the establishment when he was gone and walking to the back room for a broom.

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The longer he looked at it, the more Tal Corric was certain the vase was a fake.

It figured. The nobleman had elected to pay him with the antique rather than coin, presumably as a show of appreciation for conducting Absolution. Defrauding a sin-eater wasn't a crime, really. Not one that would ever be pursued.

But the irony was borderline hilarious.

Of course, now that he had to pay for food, the humor was wearing off, and thus did Tal Corric find himself walking into an antique store in Mezthaluan. His ragged brown beard and dusty armor made him look more like a bandit than a collector of antiquities, and he hoped that no one assumed he was here to rob the plae.

His armor was mostly leather, much easier to travel in, and was adorned with numerous feathers, bone talismans, and other knicknacks. For the most part, they were items he had received as payment, but was unable to sell for a price worth mentioning. The one item that did have value was slung across his back: an aged claymore, fully five feet long. The handle was rough leather, and tied into place with a bright white ribbon: a peace tie for his time in the city.

Tal rolled his shoulders as he stepped through the door, praying the greatsword didn't hit any of the delicate antiquities on the shelves around him. He caught sight of the only other soul in the store: a boy stepping out of the back room with a broom in hand. Tal had been hoping for a wizened old man with a glass device strapped to his eye, but beggars could not be choosers. And even 'public servants' needed to eat.

"I need to, ah..." He gave half a wave to get the boy's attention, and tried to find some way to phrase this so he didn't come across as a con artist or a loon. "If you do appraisals, then...."

He sighed, and simply lifted the gold-etched porcelain with one hand.

"Can I ask you if this is fake?"

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How long?  He always faded in and out of conciousness. He grew weak when he was in pieces.  Everyone said his armor was haunted making it awful hard for him to find a place. And it was pretty hard keeping pieces tighter when people tried to price the pieces differently. But here he was in a display case. His parts separated and labled.

 

bur he was close enough to resemble himself with energy and to keep sight a constant.  He watched strangers come and go into the shop.  Someone had walked in with an antique plate. It was cute. Such a thing would’ve been idled to the traveler. It was barely worth the hundred he needed to any one who wasn’t an antiquer or  a collector, or a gulliable rich idiot.

 

 The armor, didn’t look old. It hasn’t rusted and was still much stronger than most suits of knight armor even without modern standard.  It had an elegant design that protected as much as possible and was cushioned for protection against the hard knocks needed to kill an armored man.  It looked beautiful. But was still practical. It reflected heat and was light. A modern marvel. That would’ve protected even the most idiotic of adventurer from dying to all but the most intentioned assassin or most excellent Combatier. 

 

The He sheild was large and imperssive just as ornate  but the beauty concealed its masterful purposes that turned it into an excellent sheild able to stop most any blow. And hold off the wind.  This suit if armor was meant for a juggernaught of the highest order in the royal court. 

 

A beautiful slogan was painted to the glass with an extrodant price. 

“ May the Gods be on your side should you face this.” It was intended to sell. But came across as Hoki and elitist form an antique shop meant to sell old relics.

Revan turned his head to focus on the proceedings at the register. 

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images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQtNhsn2SvIVo97X0z_vesBhL_GNMLor4GKEYpd3q2Sh05cWMwDFirst, there was the boy that ran into the shop.

Followed by the rugged looking man.

Then there was the woman. She was petite, short even, her height better suited for children than an adult woman. Her hair was a healthy mix of white and blonde, the aged color making a stark contrast to her childish figure. The heavy coat that burdened her small frame was black and on its back was the faded symbol of a woman being pierced by a spear from behind. Thankfully no one from these parts recognized the symbol or else she would have trouble appearing public.

She pursed her lips then, her recently yellow eyes darting back and forth between the nearby liquor store and the antique shop. She does have some relative in each establishment but the liquor shop is more of a personal one. The woman patted her breastpocket and sure enough there was her ever present flask of spirits but it's getting rather low and the woman didn't have time for a short refill. She was in quite the dilemma. Such was the life of a alcoholic.

Gritting her teeth in grim determination, the woman tore her longing gaze from the liquor store and headed towards the other establishment. Inside her heart she was already crying in grief and despair for what she had done. She traded her love (booze) for her work and that in itself is a tragedy she did not deserve.

With painful chests she entered the establishment just in time to see the man wave that plate around. Huh, are dining items the trend these days? She shrugged at the thought. She's only here to sell some of the antiques she plundered from Castle Blackspear and hoped she'd get a decent amount of coin in exchange. With the cartel gone, there's no one to pay for her living expenses. Even worse she didn't have a house either. She was after all one of the agents of the late Mistress Blackheas and her cartel. And is still the wanted terrorist known as Khakina Khatun.

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Nikko sighed as he grabbed the broom from the room in the back, little there other than a few items yet to be put on sale and some supplies. He'd have liked to sock his boss in the jaw, except he typically agreed: the boy seemed to fail at everything he did. There wasn't a clear reason why, he was more or less as physically able as the next person his age. It was as though something was dragging him down, holding him back. Like there was something missing, as though he were incomplete. 

Shrugging off his personal woes, the boy walked back into the store with the broom only to find one more person there then was in the room before, a rather intimidating one at that. "I, um, uh..." The boy stammered once more, not expecting customers to appear before the owner returned. He wasn't actually allowed to make purchases on any items, for obvious reasons as far as he was concerned. Had his boss forgotten to put up the 'closed' sign? Of course he had...

"Uh, e-excuse me, I, um...I don't...I don't r-really make the, uh..." He wasn't always in such a panic when speaking to others, but he was left in a very unpleasant position for someone like him. Not only had he no idea what to tell the person in front of him, the boy would also get a tongue lashing at best if he drove away potential merchandise, unemployed at worst. Before he could say another word, a girl walked in. When speaking to them, he generally was in a panic. What was worse, she seemed to be close to him in age, just at a glance. And of course, a glance was all he took before his eyes began to dart all around the room, trying to figure out what to do now. Should he run out and try to find the owner? No, that would take too long and involve leaving people in the store unsupervised, not to mention he didn't know where this appraiser was. Should he negotiate a price on whatever they were selling? He didn't have the first clue what they might be worth or even what they could be sold for; that's why he swept the place. 

His panic now in full swing, Nikko turned to go behind the front counter, hoping there was a book or a ledger or a note or something that would help him. However, almost as soon as he began to dash over to his place of refuge, he tripped on his own feet and fell flat on his face. Blood splashed the ground where his nose collided with the floor, the boy slowly attempting to lift himself up in both pain and embarrassment.

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Tal half-turned as the white-haired girl walked in, only to wince noticeably as the boy from the back room took an immediate fall. The girl's gait didn't match her appearance, but he couldn't put his finger on what was strange about her. Not that it mattered at the moment: the faint smell of copper in the air signaled that the boy had hit the floor harder than expected.

"Easy, lad." He turned and set the potentially counterfeit vase on the nearest shelf: next to a beautiful metal suit of armor, arranged artfully behind a sheet of hopefully thief-resistant glass. It was a magnificent set, and the classic sin of envy crawled up his spine like a serpent. His eye caught the intricate etching and designs covering its surface, and came to rest on the inscription: May the Gods be on your side should you face this

"It'd be a first, wouldn't it? Gods on your side for a change."

He shook away the thought, tucking his sword closer to his back out of reflex as he turned away from the armor display and hoping the weapon wouldn't accidentally take something off the shelf. Carefully, he walked towards the counter, glancing around for whatever the boy tripped on, before coming to the conclusion that it was probably the boy himself.

"Are you alright?"

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Revan could scream all he wanted. It was painful and consumed energy but pointless. Without  his helmet he had no voice. What a precarious position. He watched the boy fall flat with a heavy heart. Every plate of his new body wanted to move and help him up.  But he couldn’t. The armor was still held up by wood.

 Tal with his keen sense of detail could probably sense something had moved. Or maybe not. Intense staring down at the shorter people. He wanted to will his Body to move. 

  The poor retail boy clearly needed help.  And while he wasn’t a fan of people being inside his armor. He clearly would need to to hide the shame and heart break, in his opinion, for him. 

 

  Such bumbling foolishness usually illictied laughs. It was kind that so far no one had luaghed and hopefully wouldn’t.  Again he tried to move his body. With the fingers not even slightly moving. 

  Ughh! How he yearned for freedom and to help the welp. The agony of being so close yet so far away being agonizing. If only the blasted key to the cabinet was on the counter. He just needed to be priced togither. 

 

All this just to get to get worked up and frustrated. They’d propbably end up leaving being blissfully unaware that he’d stared at them and even locked eyes with the man  who’d enviously looked him over. He just wanted to scream BUY ME. At this point. Why did he have to be trapped here? In this word in a aftekfe of imprisonment.

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His panic now in full swing, Nikko turned to go behind the front counter, hoping there was a book or a ledger or a note or something that would help him. However, almost as soon as he began to dash over to his place of refuge, he tripped on his own feet and fell flat on his face. Blood splashed the ground where his nose collided with the floor, the boy slowly attempting to lift himself up in both pain and embarrassment.

Khakina sighed as she watched the boy's antics. Must she always tolerate such pathetic behavior? Surely this boy has a brain, right? Or perhaps he's just slow? Whatever his problem is, Khaki should straighten him out.

She leaned then on a nearby wall, crossing her arms across her ample chest. "HURRY UP WILL YA?" she chided at the boy. "WHAT ARE YOU? Hourly?"

That kid better do his job quick or Khaki would have to burn this place to the ground. She won't be have second thoughts after all as this won't be the first time. Better yet, she could drag him out of this shop and take him to her dungeon where she can whip him until he becomes a man. That should probably work.

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Nikko wasn't sure whether to hold his nose or not, quite sure it would hurt. Well, more than it already did. "Um...I'm, uh, I'm okay...I..." He said as he shakily got to his feet, less out of physical difficulty and more out of humiliation. Before he could mumble any further, the girl shouted him to attention, causing him to scramble around the front desk and grab a rag for his nose. Surely the owner wouldn't mind him making just one or two purchases, so long as they were simple enough. And he felt quite sure that this girl might kill him if he didn't, which would make it pretty difficult to continue working here. 

"C-can you bring the vase over here, please?" He asked, holding the cloth to his face, grimacing a bit as he did so. When he got a look at the object, he felt a bit relieved to see it was familiar. "Oh, I can actually help you with that one." He said with a bit more energy in his voice, pointing to a shelf in the corner with several similar pots. "We actually get quite a few of those, so I think I can give you about two kites for it." Nikko paused for a bit, realizing that it wasn't much money. "I'm sorry its not more.'

After the deal was concluded, he turned to the girl in the room. "S-so, what can I help you with?"

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Tal frowned at the vase, entirely forgetting any semblance of cover for his emotions. "Right. Two kites." It was at least a meal or two, a bit of an unfair payment for adopting the noble's sins into his soul. But chronic adultery and embezzlement were rather tame compared to some of his other absolutions, so he decided not to complain. Pocketing the two kites, he strode to the shelf in the corner and gently set the vase in position. With a deep sigh, he narrowed his eyes at it, imagining for a moment that it was the noble who had cheated him. He briefly considered smashing it to pieces, but he needed to eat. Which meant he needed coin.

Movement caught his eye through the glass window behind the shelf: a sudden rush of motion through the milling crowds. Flashes of silver: blades of various lengths and effectiveness. A blossom of yellow and red: fire, though he couldn't see if it was a torch or a burning bottle. Anger: aimed at someone in the shop. He hoped it wasn't him.

"In here! In here!"

Tal spun around, his eyes jumping from one object to the next, looking for anything to bar the door. He needed something heavy, solid, unyielding. His eyes closed and he groaned.Of course, the whole place was full of antiques. Fragile, expensive, with one notable exception.

"Get away from the windows." He strode towards the armor on display with great steps, unclasping his cloak as the first fist hit the front door. "And, uh, sorry about the case."

His boot kicked out the front of the glass. Screams echoed from outside as the attackers converged on the front door.

 

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