Jump to content
Dredge

A Dangerous Game [Port Caelum Beaches]

Recommended Posts

Shi’s appearance on the beach isn’t marked with any spectacular display. There is no drifting ill intent that swallows his prey, nor a vicious aura that brings people to their knees. Rather, there is emptiness. It is his very lack of imprint on the world that is uncanny. In fact, even as his booted feet land in the sand, the sand is shiftless, as if it is unaware of the burden of his weight.

Still dressed in white, a steady stream of water pours from around his body, suggesting that maybe he’d just walked from the sea itself.  This, is of course the most logical choice. Dredge’s presence, his every essence, his and his wyvern’s stench were all wonderful masks. However, the saltwater was an even better mask to hide within.

Now, with Dredge out of the picture, Akako might be privileged to the faintest hint of Shi’s scent, which is thoroughly entwined and subdued by the natural aroma of the sea.

Ending his trek toward her, about a dozen feet away, Shi clasps his hands around his wrists and secures them firmly in the small of his back. “I’m not partial to killing women.” The comment is made as he actuates a silver and gold latticed tungsten stiletto, causing it to unsheathe itself from its forearm mount. “But monsters like yourself aren’t really women, now are you?” His head cants to the left, sending brown bangs swaying off to the side.

She’ll be too prideful to retreat. Too self-assured to back down. Too confident to grasp the situation.

“I’m fair though. How would you like to die?” As he finishes the questions, he begins to meander toward her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They were little more than a blot on the sky when the vixen's attention diverted towards the sound of water, unlike the rhythmic sound of the waves. It was enough of a difference that the demoness caught the anomaly, the pair of fuzzy ears perched on her head twitching before her gaze slid in that direction. A vaguely familiar individual, but the demoness couldn't quite place him. Her nose twitched to try to identify him, and she belatedly realized that his scent was masked, which made her the tiniest bit irritated. 

He was approaching, casually, seemingly unafraid. Akako stood her ground, not bothering to fully face him as she watched. When he stopped and spoke, the daiyokai tested the air again and caught a better sample of his aroma. The puzzle pieces came together swiftly in her mind, and she realized this was the same individual from the Town Hall. A single brow lifted as a devastatingly slow smile curled her lips as she realized that he was likely hired to assassinate her. 

Akako turned to face him then, her tails sweeping across the sand as she considered him for a long moment.

"How much?", her voice carried across the space between them, smoky and modulated. Her head tilted in curiosity as her eyes narrowed on him with mild interest. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The assassin pauses for a moment, his head canting every so slightly to the side. "I'm not a prostitute." The words are spit out, laden with existential disgust. It's about a half second after he says it, that he realizes the larger implication of her question. With a quickness that is normally reserved exclusively for combat, Shi simultaneously realizes that he can't put an immediate figure on her execution and then calculates out the sum total of what his betrayal would cost him. This illusion of his false face crumples with contemplation before he finally provides a sensical answer. "A lifetime of regular payments, a place to live, endless supplies, solid healthcare, a good gym membership. I dunno, taking into account my probable life expectancy, I'd say a few million."

Although Akako falsely assumed that there is a fixed monetary value attached, and maybe someone did put a bounty on her, Shi is roughly able to guesstimate the value of his fixed monthly payment and assign a less than arbitrary value to the other benefits of employment. 

Righting his head, his arms swing out from behind him, his left hand clasping his right bicep as he places the silver stiletto against the side of his face. "Why, how much do you think you are worth?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Akako's amused smile was unintentional, but it curled her rouged lips all the same. Did he think she was stupid enough to conceive a prostitute would walk out of the ocean brandishing a weapon? How comical. Either this assassin was serious, or he was teasing her. It was hard to say with his scent muted by the tang of salt that surrounded him, but she hoped it was the latter. If there was one thing she was not fond of, it was stupidity. At least her would-be killer could be intelligent, which she wanted to assume he was. 

His response was not exactly what she'd expected and so she laughed. Her laughter, while brief, was like birdsong and bells. Akako quelled her amusement and cocked her hip her right-hand settling of the jutted perch. 

"So much more," she responded with a fox-smile on her lips and a wildfire burning in her eyes. 

"Do you have a name, assassin?" 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Shi’s hand falls from his face, the stiletto popping out of view as it slides back into the housing along his forearm. With his head righted and his gaze focused on Akako, he starts his trek toward her again. “My name?” The question rolls from lips that seem to mouth something other than what he is actually saying. “It’s Yonjukyu. Curious question. All things considered; don’t you think there are better questions to be asked?”

Shi’s advance once again ends, this time only about four feet from the Yokai Queen. “So, what’s the price that you put on your life? I’m asking for a friend.” Although four feet is more than enough distance for acceptable social distancing, and certainly far enough away that there is no reason to not feel comfortable, Akako is comfortably within the assassin’s striking range.

Even though there is nothing about his demeanor that suggests that he is about to attack, the truth is that Akako’s next answer would largely determine the outcome of this interaction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had he no manners? It was common courtesy to introduce one's self at the start of a conversation, but their meeting wasn't a typical one assuming that he was here for her head. His name was a fascinating one. She wondered if it was a coincidence that his name sounded like a number, one that was unlucky at that. What was more impressive was the meaning of the numbers on their own — fitting for an assassin, if her presumptions were accurate because he had yet to confirm her claim or refute it. 

The amusement on the vixen's face never lessened as he approached her. While she appeared unperturbed by his advance, Akako remained on high alert watching with vigilant eyes and listening to the cadence of his breath and heartbeat. He didn't seem to be of the mind to attack at the moment, but she wasn't stupid enough to believe that. Her senses weren't foolproof. 

"Of course there are, but This One follows a certain decorum when allowed. Seeing as you've yet to attack, we can abide by standard etiquette," the demoness responded as the assassin came to a stop notably within reach. 

A slender brow lifted at the question that followed and her fox-smile widened. "What would your friend want?" 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Oh you know, all the normal stuff." There is a near singsong quality to Shi's response. "A beautiful studio apartment overlooking the bay. Healthcare, dental, and retirement plan. Solid and consistent work with comp time, and a very comfortable wage. Sales tax exemptions?" He pauses, maybe in thought or perhaps for effect. "Never been put on the spot like this before. It is kind of hard to come up with an exhaustive list." His left hand rises up, the lightly cupped fist moving to brace against his lips. However, the first and second knuckle pass through the illusionary flesh, before finally resting on the mask proper. 

"I guess my friend would probably be willing to settle for a steady stream of income at one and a half times current employers rates with the ability to net bonuses for heads delivered." His voice remains unmuffled despite the hand clearly obstructing his mouth. "You know, being a merchant of death and what not." His gaze, which appears to be focused on Akako's feet, breaks upward to align with her face. "Of course, it would be a mighty big leap of faith on your part to hire some rando without having any proof of their worth. Don't you think? In fact, I think that'd make you a terrible investor." 

Shi's hand falls from his face to aimlessly dangle at his side. In fact, both arms seem to be conveniently located as to leave him completely open. Perhaps it is an intentional act of good faith, or maybe a mark of arrogance, or mayhaps a ploy. All the same, with the exception of his muted approach, there really is very little to suggest that the assassin is an assassin or even a competent one at that. In fact, truth be told, there is more to suggest his incompetence at this point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This would-be assassin merely expected what she afforded her familiars; however, he had not proven himself loyal yet. Depending on where he came from could she determine if he was worth investing in. Not only that but would he honestly be trustworthy given the fact that he was considering turning on whoever it was that had hired him? All of which would be considered before allowing him specific privileges if he was at all capable. 

While Akako's mind turned over several items, she saw something incredibly odd. Had his fingers just... phased through his flesh?

What was that?

The expression of bemusement never faltered despite whatever it was the vixen just witnessed. An illusion, no doubt. Akako tilted her head a fraction, her nose sifting through the scents hoping to catch anything of interest. While she did so, her yoki unraveled within her but remained concealed. If there was anything the trickster knew, was that her senses weren't always a reliable source of information. Right now, that seemed to be the case. 

"Your friend, he is quite an expensive investment. This One wonders how much worth he would be to the cause... and if he would be loyal to This One." While Akako spoke, the shadows at her feet churned for a moment as if a drop had disturbed a still water's surface. "Betrayal is not tolerated, and surely you understand why. Now, who sent you, Yonjukyu?" 

Edited by Akako Akari

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shi’s hand slips from his face, his fingers parting as he runs them through his hair. “Yon’s fine. That’s what all of my nonexistent friends call me. Seems like we are on the path to quick friendship, so ‘This One’ might as well call me Yon.” The hand drops from his head, both of his palms ended up on his waist. His next statement is accompanied with a shrug. “Anyway, I doubt you’ve ever heard of any of my associates. My boss, is an asshole whose name I can’t remember. His boss, the head of Shokan, is named Eiji. He’s kind of old. His boss, well I don’t actually know who his boss is. I’m sure he reports to someone insignificant.”

He pauses for a second, his gaze breaking from Akako as he seemingly looks around. “But my boss’, boss’, boss’, boss is some guy you’ve probably never heard of named Koji.” His left hand rises up from his hip as he flippantly waves. “He thinks he’s an emperor of something. Never met him personally, but he seems like a tool. Plus, how can you be an emperor when all you have is a city? Don’t emperor’s need empires?”

An exasperated sigh escapes his lips as he reflects on his companions. “They’ll probably all end up dead in the near future, anyway. They’re not particularly good at being subversive. Very flashy people. Standout like a…. like a dragon chilling on a beach.”

With both palms open, and facing the air, he shrugs again. “It’s really kind of hard to be loyal to people that are going to end up getting you killed, because they’re idiots that are too busy being prideful arrogant morons that would rather measure their dicks than be tactful.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Yon," she murmured more to herself than to him. The vixen turned the name over on her tongue before refreshing her disarming smile. 

It was probable that he was mocking her, but the daiyokai didn't decide to comment on it. Had he been yokai, then maybe she would have chastised him, but to him, her style of speech was likely foreign. Akako thought to cut in, provide him an adequate name for him to call her, but he didn't allow a break in his speech.

The topic shifted from name to his employer, and that piqued the kitsune's interest. Her expression sobered as she listed with ardent curiosity while he spoke of Shokan and someone named Eiji. None that she knew. For a moment, disappointment simmered beneath the surface while Yon took a brief pause. Perhaps a nobody was concerned about her ambition, or maybe she'd unintentionally stepped on someone's toes. 

When he uttered Koji's name, Akako did well to conceal any outward facial expressions; however, her eyes brightened with malicious intent. Yon continued, while Akako considered the new information which wasn't a surprise. Then, slowly, the facade cracked and her rouged lips curled into wide fox-smile. The arrogance of that child would get him killed, and Akako had the mind to be there to watch as he fell. 

"Too true. It is a wonder how your 'friend' managed to be employed by such incompetence. That is, if all that you say is true, of course." 

Even as she alluded to not entirely buying his story, Akako knew that there was a high likelihood that this assassin was being entirely honest. Koji had something of a God-complex or the early stages of one. She could recall his sharp tongue when she trained him within the Void, and how he seemed fearless as if death nor harm could ever find him.

A brief pause filled the space between them, the crashing of waves and call of birds the only sounds. The demoness did finally look away from the assassin, a seemingly foolish move. The daiyokai's expression was contemplative as she looked at the waves before returning her attention to Yon. 

"I suppose formalities are unnecessary, now that we are friends. What do you know about me? What are the rumors floating around these days... " 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Akako’s question catches Shi off guard. The mask’s expression remains stalwart, the illusion failing to render the change in his visage. Although rumors are often invaluable bits of intel that can be used to make powerful inferences, Shi is admittedly shorthanded in this regard.

Of course, before any noticeable moment of hesitation could be measured, his quick wit produces a series of generic statements that are probable sounding enough to be rumors.

“Rumors huh? Can’t say I’ve heard much, other than you’re some kind of filicide committing demoness, that commands a contingency of spirits. Oh, and I do believe someone once said something to the effect of, ‘she regularly partakes in incest with her siblings and demonspawn’ but I mean, who doesn’t have that rumor flying around about them?” He initiates a brief pause as he prepares to segue. “Of course, any rumor that I might have heard about you being an imperialist breeding civil unrest, well at this point those really aren’t rumors anymore… huh? And that, at the end of day is what’s important.”

“Beyond the fact that I’m really good at penetrating people, I’m also excellent at fitting into tight spots.” The statement is painfully deadpan. “Believe it or not, I usually prefer to shove my shaft –” halfway through the statement the silver stiletto pops out from along his forearm. “into people’s throats before they know I’m there.” The spike retracts once more, and he pauses long enough for her to look past the double entendre to see the full meaning of the statement. “While I don’t pack the girth of some, the unassuming size makes me particularly well endowed for reconnaissance as much as assassination.”

Despite the vaguely veiled speech, there is little doubt that he never intended to make an earnest attempt at her life. But what is a better resume for an assassin than to prove that they can get close enough to carry out a hit, short of actually killing their potential benefactor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Filicide? That little tidbit was not something well known about her. She could count on one hand the individuals that knew about her first set of twins and their fate. That being the case, Akako struggled with keeping her expression neutral while those terrible memories were brought to the surface. Who could have let that secret slip? Had she mentioned it in public and forgotten? Leonardo, Red, Snake, and Xartia knew. Only two of those individuals were in Valucre now, but the other two, could they have told someone that was here now? Paranoia clawed at her. 

The paranoia distracted her from the mention of incest which was untrue. When Yon brought up civil unrest, that was when Akako's focus honed in on his words once more. 

The vixen wasn't at all prepared for what he said next, and her carefully crafted mask shattered, and her brows rose in incredulous surprise. When the glint of the blade appeared, she realized what exactly he was talking about. He was committed to it, though; she could give him that much.  Whether the double entendre was intentional or not, Akako assumed it was purposeful, but she couldn't seem to fathom why. He was a fascinating individual, but could she trust him. 

It was unlikely, but perhaps he could serve a purpose for now. 

She hummed then turned to head back towards her estate, then paused to glance at the masked figure again. "Would you like to come with me, Yon?" 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...