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[dead] Lessertown Antics

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THE DEAD MISTRESS

Alterion's Lessertown. I've always wondered what it feels like to live here.

The white-haired woman mused as she brought the cup of tea to her parched lips. She sat at a lone table, far away from the dregs that populate this place. Despite the inquisitive glances coming from the local patrons, the woman was mostly unperturbed. Just another stranger passing through their town, one they would never see again. Sadly for them, the woman, or perhaps her name will stay in this place.

One can say that she truly did not fit within such a setting, as she looked better dressed than most of the local patrons. Oddly enough, most of her garments are under her long coat, a habit she always had even before her resurrection. Was it actually worth investing in this shoddy place? Sooner or later she might regret it but she knew that she cannot build her economic empire alone. This is why she needed the help of a certain ginger boy.

She pursed her lips then, as her eyes drifted towards the entrance for the nth time now. Somehow she's both excited and nervous of her incoming visitor. They may have met a couple of times but there is always this feeling of fear and begrudging respect for her ginger visitor. However, she did have to wonder if he will actually appear in person or maybe send a representative.

@amenities

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Bentley Johnson had, in the last 10 years, inherited Catalyst Corp. He was a crude gentleman with slicked-back hair and a neverending ensemble of polo shirts; matching brown belts, watches and shoes; off-blue slacks. A strange fellow he was, but incredibly prudent. The thing wasn't that he was a criminal aficionado. He was, as far as he knew, simply a successful businessman with a couple skeletons in his closet, just like any other businessman. See, he had a wife and kids as far as the public knew. He played golf with the boy and demonstrated a little bit of unwarranted PDA with the wife; but these weren't his actual relatives. There were no rumors because, in fact, Bentley was so terrified for his loved ones that he never betrayed the truth: That his real wife and two children were being kept captive by a nefarious organization.

Bentley flew up in a private helicopter from his private estate managed by hired hands wearing expensive clothing and fine jewelry, but none of it was truly his. With only the venier of wealth, Bentley was happiest when absorbed in his work. His work? Building the Catalyst empire.

So Bentley came to Lessertown to meet with a well-dressed woman about building a new franchise. And there she was, standing before a gigantic lot with only a few decrepit buildings waiting to be knocked over for their uses. Bentley, wearing a tucked-in white polo and his all-browns, then some blue slacks, came to shake the lady's hand.

"Do you work with E?" That was Esben. Bentley never mentioned her full name, only the code he'd been given for his contact, Esben. Esben was the Catalyst's main contact with the Dead. 

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THE DEAD MISTRESS


The woman gave a coy smile. Whoever this "E" was, it surely must be connected to someone she knew. Perhaps knew too well. The only person that comes to mind would probably Esben.

My, my. My dear little Esben. What have you been up to this time?

While their organization had no idea of the history between the woman and Esben, the woman still regarded this Esben as a potential friend, or at the very least, an ally of sorts. They had this interesting relationship of helping one another, even way back in the past.

"Yes," the woman spoke as she took the man's offered hand. The shake was pretty firm and she had always liked firm men. "I know "E". I know him very well."

"You can call me Linda." She giggled then as she released the man's handshake. "So to who do I owe the pleasure of this business meeting?

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Bentley was an inherent businessman. An inherited businessman too. The Johnson family stretched as far back in time as well, successful white dudes did. They were known for such products as Johnson & Ronson baby wipes and baby goods, producing and sponsoring famous wrestler Wayne "The Doc" Johnson, and last but certainly not least, Catalyst Corporation. As such, the slick-haired Bentley had dealt with criminals, mafiosos, and maliciosos of all levels. At this point, he was capable of doing such without a dot of sweat beading his forehead. Things hadn't been so easy for him in the past, though.

To be far, they still weren't easy. How used to your family being locked in a cell buried within a mountain could you get? How used to being bribed with their very lives to do the deeds of an evil corporation could you get? Well, apparently Bentley had become so bent on the notion that he didn't even feign disrespect toward the self-proclaimed Linda.

No, as Linda questioned to whom her pleasure brought her on this sunny day, Bentley simply appraised the giant lot with the eyes of an entrepreneur. Had he stopped loving his family? No. But he had fully convinced himself that the means to liberating them were somehow through financial success; that somehow, if he fed the monster that had taken his wife and children enough, it would some day regurgitate them from its bowels. No, he wouldn't even tell Linda. He would, under the assumption that she knew all, conceal from her his every insecurity in hopes that the organization would see him as a consistently blossoming CEO and venture capitalist.

"So to who do I owe the pleasure of this business meeting?

"I'm Bentley," he said, shielding his eyes to look over the lot. "Where's E, busy? Ah oh well, no biggie. I've actually got this whole shebang covered! C'mon, let me show you where everything will be."

Bentley began walking around the outside of the lot, gesturing to squares of different colored dirt meant to section off different areas.

"Here we'll keep the kid's store. Over here we'll make a shopping mall of all the local businesses in town." Then, walking around to a giant warehouse, he stopped and looked back to Linda. "This is where we'll produce and capsule medicine, then ship it off to Terrenus along with toys, perfume, and local goods."

The streets had been dead in the morning daylight, but as time progressed more and more of Lessertown's denizens could be seen moving around the streets, sleep in their eyes. Eventually, men in steeltoed boots and hardhats, wearing reflective vests, approached the duo.

"Boss," said one, tipping his hat. "Where d'we start?"

"I think we'll knock down the warehouse today and start fresh as soon as the debris is cleared," said Bentley to the half-dwarf, who gestured for his smattering of other ethnicities— golem, human, a couple elves for smaller areas— to follow through the gate and make their way to the decrepit warehouse. Turning back to Linda as the others walked off, Bentley turned back to Linda. "So, let's talk percentages. What cut do you want from this operation?"

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"Well met, Bentley," the woman who calls herself Linda replied, "I'm glad to see that everything's almost covered."

She trailed after the man, her dainty hands hidden within her coat's pockets. She's barely keeping up with all these business shit riffraff but it is her duty to do the organization's so called 'dirty work.' She'd prefer to be knee-deep in blood and gore than deal with all these corporate talk. Unfortunately for her, duty calls. Lest her ginger friend give her a not so welcome and slightly lethal visit.

She nodded to the man with every word he says as if she particularly understood everything. While they walked, she had given herself the opportunity to produce on roll of her favorite cigar off her coat's inner pockets, and even went further as to light said cigar, and placing the lit roll within her full lips. As usual, it is customary for a woman like her to indulge in her feminine necessities. 

When the man asked for their percentages, the woman had to look him in the eye. She was silent at first, talking the time to drew in more cigar smoke into her lungs and concurrently letting it all out into the city air.

"You seem to be quite the capable man," the woman spoke at last, "How about we split half? For friendship's sake."

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As the contractors and construction workers parted around the businessman, his retinue retreating into the city to secure their various business partnership and zoning contracts, Bentley turned back to face the one who called herself Linda. Linda had lagged in a way that, the entire time, waxed Mr. Johnson with an abstract unease. Finally it boiled over, just a little, in the first indication that something was amiss with Bentley since they began their correspondence, Bentley wrung his hands together. Just once. Then he let them fall to his sides, relaxed. 

"That's ah, that's acceptable! Of course I secure profits from our centers in Terrenus, Genesaris, and Kalopsia as well. I can certainly, ah, swallow the slightly lower percentages here." His hand rose, as if he were going to pull on his collar, but he stifled the gesture quickly.

Lessertown was a budding prospect in and of itself, Catalyst Corp a long lasting business empire who, many said, it was bound would crawl the world over with its monopolizing ventures. But this square of plowed down dust, in its vast capital overtake of Lessertown's center, was as desolate as Bentley's insides. Was as desolate as the center of his iris as his eyes met with somebody whose own depth was something akin to the demon in the night he'd encountered a decade and a half ago, when he lost his family. There was a reason somebody like "E" met with Bentley; a reason that the farther depths of the beast's belly never exposed itself to him. The fact of the matter was that the heart of this organization was as pitch black, as gutwrenchingly evil as they came; constant exposure to the true devils would dissolve his sanity in no time at all.

"Barry's Bears for Boys and Girls will be relocating here from Tia, as well as Priscilla's Perfumes, Girdy's Girders Contractors, and whatever local business we secure today." said Bentley, turning eagerly away from Linda and sweeping his hand over the dirt lot. Even in the daylight, he felt haunted. Then, suddenly, something occurred to him. While geomancers and psychics certainly made building much easier, this was a mammoth venture. It would take roughly 2 weeks to nail down Lessertown Shop & Ship. 

"Where will you be, ah, staying for the next couple weeks?" Johnson was as courteous as he was afraid, so he couldn't help but follow up with, "there are extra quarters at my estate, if you need."

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[Five Months Ago]

 

Esben had reached Lessertown as he had become a part of the organization known as the Dead. He had managed to bring a bunch of equipment with him but didn't need to bring it all as he still had his mansion in Athentha. So he brought the essentials. 

 

He had done a mission here and there as he decided what he wanted to do once joining the organization. And the elf with his shady reputation and past knew his research skills would come in handy. Well mostly for him as he desire to improve on his creations of shards, runes, ores and anything else. 

 

Esben had bought himself a nice little seaside cottage to stow away himself and his equipment. It had been furnished with everything that tuned to his satisifaction. Now as he settled in, he knew that he had to tend to his main objectives. 

 

Stepping out of the cottage, he had a meeting with an important man he had already forgotten the name of. It was and wasn't all his fault but he knew it had to be done despite wanting to just stay in his cottage and research. 

 

Walking down to the main part of the city, Esben sighed. He didn't know why it was tasked with him meeting Bentley but he decided it would or could be fun to see what people were like around Lessertown. Eyeing the man, he whisked himself to Bentley as casual as an elf could be. He grabbed the man's arm, tugging gently. 

 

You must be Bentley. I am Esben. A pleasure to meet you and you're little city of Lessertown. Esben replied after letting go of his arm. His heterchroma red and orange eyes glancing him over. Of course there can be lots to learn while I am here, along with the cashflow one like me can comtribute. 

 

Esben shook his head then as he felt like he was being a bit too overhyped. But the elf wasn't, as no one ever saw his true self or intentions. And the elf never wanted that to happen. 

 

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The Mistress made Bentley more squeamish than her older counterpart, his last associate, did. Esben had always purveyed the aura that, at any moment, he could kill Bentley; just, Johnson never had the feeling Esben might actually DO it. The detached Mistress made him feel different, somehow. As if she might grow bored with him at any moment and kill him in broad daylight just to stir things up.

Over the next week, the Lessertown Square rose from the earth and shaped the Lessertown skyline with its four-spired marketsquare. Within it were Priscilla's, a perfume and fashion store. Barry's Bears for Boys and Girls, a toy and children's store. Girdy's Girders Steel, a metals refinery that makes custom steelwork and weaponry. Guat's, Hardware, a furniture and carpentry hardware outlet, as well as a contractor. Lessertown Hospital, a hospital/producer and shipper of pharmaceuticals. In the center was a two-mile-wide square featuring ever coming and going swaths of local businesses. Every first Thursday of the month there would be a local fair for shopping cheap goods, acquiring jobs for the less fortunate, and eventually facilitating and supporting performances by street artists.

~Five Months Earlier~

When Esben reported to Cain, it was using the small black adhesive pad that all Dead officers did to communicate. When Cain came, whether at a bar or in a library, he led the elf through a doorway. The door may have led to a kitchen or a bathroom, a hallway or even outside before Cain came, but when he guided Esben through it was always inevitably into the same office. Three walls of glasslike oak, and the fourth wall spilling out through the stream of a waterfall onto a grassy valley bisected by a river, the ceiling a gentle tone of tan light that illuminated the room dimly. Cain's desk was the same as his walls. Behind it was a lit-up rectangular recess into the wall with glass shelves donning thick crystal beakers full of alcohol and various other potions. In the corner away from the fourth wall, was a three-step set of risers. A choir of teenage boys and girls wearing black robes hummed a haunting, subdued tune.

Cain grabbed a tulip-shaped beaker of purple liquid and taking the stopper out, set it on his desk with perfect silence. Cain, leaning beside rectangular recess, looked darker by comparison to the light he stood directly beside. One thing that remained a sharp point of light was his eye as it focused on Esben.

"Bentley can never know my name. He can never even know the organization's name. All he has to know is that, as long as he keeps being a capitalist force of expansion, his family will be safe." Cain took a deep swig of the purple liquid, his shoulders jittering with the cruelty of its taste. The silence, the physical pressure one felt when they were around Cain, mounted with the seconds as he appraised Esben.

"And how are you doing? How has adjusting into our little group gone for you so far?"

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Esben said nothing as he sat there. Listening to Cain speak, he tilted his head. Seems someone finding out the organization's name wouldn't be good. But it was interesting nonetheless. 

Placing his hands in his lap, the elf pondered about the situation at hand. So, how should I approach things then if I shouldn't bring up the organization?

It was a good question. Cain then offered a question of his own. It seemed he wanted to know more about the elf. Esben shook his head as he learned one thing, never to reveal too much about oneself, it could be used against you. 

It's much more drafty than my own home. Esben replied with a bit of a chuckle. But I guess it will do. Not enough subjects around either. I can however agree, the weather here is much more suitable than home.

The elf shrugged as he sat there. He always wondered why the group took in a criminal but he allowed it. A nice new place to hide out in and make a higher bounty. Plus no one knew him here so it'd be easier to gather research subjects. 

Though still not sure why you let me in your organization. Though probably a better place to hide and do criminal stuff. Esben chuckled. I mean you really don't know me or I know you. Probably better that way. So why can't they know of the organization?

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