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  #26  
Unread 3rd of May, 2006, 01:12
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Shade slips out of the room and back into the tavern proper, knowing that the man at the bar noticed her exit despite his seeming disinterest. The coin she had given him ought to keep him quiet where the lesser ranking members were concerned, and hopefully he wouldn't think her presence was anything to concern Skathros with. The night is thick and chill outside, low clouds obscuring the stars and an icy wind blowing from the East. She pulls her hood up, unsure of her couse.

Her curiousity ought to be satisfied, but it wasn't. She couldn't shake the nagging doubts about Arjuna. Why keep her locked up if she wasn't valuable?

A sudden clatter down an alley causes her to quicken her pace. This wasn't a safe area, no matter her connections. She turns the next corner, then slows and chooses her steps more carefully. Shadows were dark here and she felt better knowing she trod unnoticed.

Her feet ought to be taking her to the small, dingy flat she'd rented with money garnered from her travels. She found that instead they were winding steadily toward the noble's quarter. Toward Skathros.
  #27  
Unread 11th of May, 2006, 05:05
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The room was tilted at an odd angle. It took her a moment to realize she was sprawled across a sumptuous divan. Shade stood and righted herself, making the room spin crazily and forcing her to clutch at the wall for support. Something nearby crashed to the ground accompanied by the beautiful sound of expensive crystal shattering.

Laughter, with an almost hysterical edge, came from off to her right. She squinted her eyes in that direction, focused on Skathros. He was lounging in a leather chair, looking as dazzlingly handsome as ever if a bit rumpled. Memories came tumbling back to her like leaves blown in an autumn wind.

Bits and pieces flickered into something resembling clarity. She had found him at home but in the middle of a business meeting. There wasn't much to do but drink while she waited. During that interval she formed a plan to obtain more information about Arjuna, partially as a way to keep thinking about Ricard.

It hadn't taken long for him to dismiss his associates and join her, eyes full of malice and lust. She kept drinking and easily drew him into joining her. At first she matched him drink for drink, desparate to keep his suspicions at bay. Later, when she judged him sufficiently impaired, she slowed down but kept filling his glass at any opportunity. It didn't matter - his capacity was greater than hers, due to both his size and the life he led. In the end, she was possibly more drunk than he was. The rest was a blur, one that she told herself she didn't remember.

Her mind registered the fact that it was light out now. Her hand found a bottle and she took a drink, then sauntered over and filled his glass before standing behind him, one hand on his shoulder. Her grey eyes scanned the room for her cloak and weapons, noted them on the floor near the bed.

"I saw Veren last night, over at the The Stinging Serpent. Seemed jumpy about some girl he had squirreled away there; looked like a runaway - young, blond, scared."

He was facing away from her and if his shoulders went at all tense at this mention it was so mild her hand couldn't detect it. Still, the look he turned on her was less open and more calculating than she would have liked. She continued hoping to disarm him.

"You trust him?"

Skathros continued to regard her with hard eyes, but his mouth softened into a smile.

"No more than I trust any of my associates."

Shade shrugs, very aware that he was including her in that statement.

"Whatever. Just letting you know."

She turns away but he takes hold of her arm. Their eyes meet.

"She is wanted, by some very important people. Veren is under orders to keep her safe until I say otherwise. We are supposed to smuggle her out of the city."

"Supposed to?"

Now it is his turn to shrug.

"As I said, very important people. The kind of people that can help the organization move up in the world."

"She didn't look like much to me."

He smiles at the comment and she takes another drink despite her better judgement.

"Is there a place for me? I need to prove myself, you know, or your men will never accept me."

He leans back, eyes glittering.

"There might be room for you."

"Good. I'd like that."

Her hands slide from his shoulders and she moves to collect her things. Skathros doesn't comment, though his eyes never leave her as she dons her swords and cloak and opens the door, fingers awkward from too much alcohol. He stays silent until she is halfway out the door.

"I know of a better way to prove yourself."

The words freeze her in her tracks. He meant Ricard, of course. She doesn't respond, instead appeasing him with a steely eyed gaze and a quick loosening of the sword at her belt. Then she lets the door close and recklessly descends the winding stairs. The cold air outside is bracing but her numb body barely feels it.

Self disgust is foremost among her emotions as she staggers towards home. Instead of going to her apartment she parks herself in the common room of The Traveller's Wineskin, an inn located just down the street, and orders breakfast. She picks at the food, doing her best to think of nothing at all and almost succeeding.

Last edited by Gralhruk; 12th of May, 2006 at 03:34.
  #28  
Unread 11th of May, 2006, 05:27
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Time ticks away. Juni has much to occupy her thoughts as she waits for Veren and the other man to come back for her. She wonders about a lot of things - how will the Night Eyes smuggle her out of Tradeholm? what will the world be like outside of the city? - but for some reason her thoughts keep coming back to her father. What really happened to him? How did he die? What were his dealings with the Guild? It seems obvious to her now that she had known nothing about the man called Rynem Khalidar.

He'd been a rich man, an important man, but that was only recently Juni knew. Back when she was very young (although she doesn't remember this herself), she had lived with him on the same floor above the tailor's shop where Alex and his family had always lived. He was a busy man, as Mima used to tell her, and was so often away that Mima had finally just brought her to live with them. (Evidently, she'd been left to fend for herself quite a bit.) Juni does remember that her father stopped in to see her at Mima's sometimes, but the memories are vague and shadowy. It had seemed to her that Mima and Big Sid and Alex were her real family, and the man that came around once in a blue moon was just a visiting uncle or something.

Why had he decided to take her away with him so suddenly three years ago? She had gone from rags to riches over night, but had seen her father no more often then than she had in the old neighborhood. Servants and teachers took over for Mima, but why had her father bothered with her? Vywodor had hinted about a marriage being in the works, a marriage to some scion of an important family. He had seemed to think it a waste of her 'talent'.

Had Rynem only wanted to use her to secure a political ally for himself? There was more to it than that, Juni can't help believing, but by now her thoughts are starting to chase themselves around in her head. She yawns and struggles to keep her eyelids open. There's a writing desk in the corner of the room, and it's a simple task to move her chair over next to it. Wearily, she lays her head down on her folded arms, resting her upper body on the desk. Her last thoughts before drifting off to sleep, oddly, are Shade's words:

"Trust will get you killed."

Last edited by Kelemyn; 11th of May, 2006 at 07:01.
  #29  
Unread 16th of May, 2006, 04:34
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Staring at nothing across the half full common room, willing her mind to emptiness, Shade is suddenly jolted out of her reverie. A half orc had descended the stair and made his way outside a moment earlier, but at the time that had hardly registered with her. It was the man who was on his way out the door now - a slim, brown haired human. He was, in his way, as unremarkable as the half orc had been. Except his left arm was missing.

Nicos. And Blarth.

Had they tracked her here? Not likely. She squeezes her eyes shut and when they snap open again she nods to herself. She had mentioned Tradeholm to Blarth, and he had told the others.

She waits, wondering if any of the others will be appearing, but after a short while of inactivity she decides the answer is no. At least they hadn't seen her - she had no desire to meet either of them after the way she had left. Nicos in particular, as she had not been fair to him.

She slides from her table, has a surreptious word with the innkeeper, and then quickly departs. That chapter of her life was over. The door to the inn closes behind her and she loses herself on the busy street.

Last edited by Gralhruk; 16th of May, 2006 at 21:19.
  #30  
Unread 2nd of June, 2006, 01:21
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Many hours later she is still out on the streets. Her feet make no sound as she prowls the maze of alleys toward the meeting spot behind The Tinderbox - an appropriate name, as the place had a reputation for sudden, brutal bar fights. And it had been burned to the ground twice in recent history. No doubt the proprietors were cursing their unwitting foresight.

By now the moon had risen but it was on the wane and gave off only a cold, dim glow. Shade kept her eyes squinted and avoided looking directly at any lights to better keep her eyes accustomed to the dark. It would help some but she'd neeed to rely on her other senses. Not that she was likely to run into any trouble. They were just making an exchange - the girl for gold and (hopefully) the goodwill of a more powerful guild. She was supposed to shadow Veren, Arjuna and the others and only step in if things went bad. It was a good, solid job that displayed Skathros' trust and confidence in her and would build some credibility about her loyalty. If it went well it could be the first stepping stone towards signing on in a more permanent capacity.

If it went well.

She ducked into a tiny, abandoned building behind the tinderbox that looked like it was about to fall down. Veren was just inside along with two other guild thieves. Skathros was leaning against the far wall, inspecting a jeweled dagger. Her eyes narrow and she feels with sudden convinction that they had invited her here to kill her.

"Took your time getting here," Skathros said in an almost friendly tone.

"I'm early."

He grinned.

"So are we. Let's go."

The feeling dissipates and she is left somehow emptier for it. The five of them head out. The girl was holed up with two others; Skathros and his crew would swing by the bolt hole and pick them up on the way to the meeting. Shade and one of the others would peel off before then and ghost them to the meeting site.

The journey was made in silence, their numbers and demeanor more than enough to keep the locals scurrying out of their path. This deep in Night Eyes territory, there wasn't anything to worry about. They take a side street and cut through a dizzying array of alleys. The darkness is complete. Skathros gives a signal and Shade ducks into a recessed doorway. Unable to see, she imagines the other scout - Desrin - does the same. What little sound the other four make diminishes. Shade waits for a full two minutes before retracing her steps partway and then circling back to get a view of the main street. From her hidden position, she waits until Skathros and his group reappear. The bolt hole isn't too far now. She tails them until they reach it and watches as two figures approach the door, knock, and disappear inside.

She checks her swords with sure a hand, already knowing that they are loose in their scabbards. It dawns on her that her breathing is normal, her heartbeat slow and steady. None of the nervous energy or thrill of adrenalaine that ought to accompany her on this venture. Had she become that detached? Her mouth turns into a thin line, her eyes are chips of stone. This wasn't the time to be philosophical. Pushing that entire line of thought from her head, she focuses on doing her job. That was what mattered now.
  #31  
Unread 12th of June, 2006, 01:47
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They'd moved her once, waking her as she dozed with her head down on the old, worn desk. Two men had come in and hustled her out the back door of the tavern with hardly a word of explanation. They'd led her through the narrow streets at a brisk pace, one at each elbow, practically pulling her along between them. After much twisting and turning of the way, they'd finally ended up in a small, one-room apartment in another part of town that Juni doesn't recognize.

Here at least there is a cot for her to lie down on, and Juni throws herself upon it almost immediately and sleeps like a stone.

When she wakes up, she has no idea how much time has passed. The one window in the little apartment is dark, but it seems to be painted black anyway so it is impossible to tell if it is day or night by looking outside.

The first two men have been replaced by another two - brothers, it seems to Juni. They look almost exactly alike with dark skin, narrow slits for eyes, and identical, curling mustaches. One of them offers her a hunk of brown bread with a bit of something sweet and sticky like honey spread over it. She devours it hungrily, and is tempted to ask for more but both men seem to be doing their best to ignore her. One stands near the door as if listening for something outside, and the other sits precariously tilted on one of the rickety wooden chairs, cleaning his nails with a knife.

The cot is partly hidden by a little screen, and Juni takes this opportunity to take private stock of her meager possesions. First is Vywodor's sword which she still wears concealed beneath her former teacher's black cloak. Next, also concealed by the cloak, is a pack that holds a few small things: a leather coin pouch with a few coppers and silvers in it; two small vials filled with a dark green liquid; a silver ring shaped like a snake devouring its own tail and with a black stone in the place of its eye; and an odd collection of chalky-black sticks, lumpy stones, and broken shards of crystal hastily wrapped in a piece of torn cloth. All these things she had taken from Vywodor after she killed him.

But there is another small thing, all her own, that is most precious to her. Wrapped in a daintily embroidered handkerchief and hidden in the bosom of her blouse is a cut and faceted stone about the size of a flattened egg. It shimmers with a pale blue fire at its center. Her father had given it to her on her last name day, telling her that she would discover its purpose soon. She kept it with her always, and had felt almost from the first that there was something odd about it. Lately she had gotten the feeling that it had a mind of its own, and she had thought that she felt it whispering to her in her sleep or at odd moments throughout the day. She had especially felt something like that coming from the stone when she had escaped from Vywodor, but she'd had no time since then to think about what that might mean.

Just as she is slipping the stone back inside her blouse, she hears a knock at the door. When she steps out from behind the screen, two more men have come into the little apartment. It is the man with the crooked smile and his shorter companion, the two men she had first met and who had taken her payment back at the Stinging Serpent.

"Well, Darlin', are you ready?" asks Crooked Smile, grinning as usual. "This is it, you'll be well on your way out o' town in an hour or so. Just one more stop and then the real experts'll take over." He makes a show of offering her his arm like a gentleman would do for a lady. But something about his manner seems forced or false to Juni now. His eyes don't reflect the smile on his lips.

"The real experts?" she asks uncertainly. "Aren't you the experts?" She looks around at her escort but the other three men seem to be avoiding any kind of eye contact with her. Shorty stands with his hand on the door latch, and the two brothers are getting ready to turn down the lamps.

"Ah now," Crooked Smile says softly near her ear, and his grip tightens slightly on her arm. "We're the experts at finding the experts. See? We found your experts for you, which you'd never a' found by yourself. Smugglers are like that - hard to find." He leads her toward the door, grinning even more broadly if possible. "And they don't like to be kept waiting, you can be sure o' that. Not even for a pretty lil thing like you."

The four men sweep her out the door into the dark street. It is night, Juni discovers, and few lamps are lit in this part of town. They haven't been walking long when a shadow disengages itself from the darkness of the looming buildings and joins them. Another man, handsome and finely attired, is suddenly walking beside her, on the opposite side of Crooked Smile. From the way the others defer to him Juni realizes that he must be important. He says nothing however.

The air begins to feel cooler and damper, and the buildings that line the street are larger, more solid. Juni is reminded of the building she found herself in when she woke from Vywodor's drug. This must be the warehouse district. The party finally stops in front of a tall doorway. Shorty opens the door, the two brothers duck inside first, and she and her flanking guards follow. They find a hallway with a high ceiling and several doors leading off from it. Their heels click and echo on the tile floor as they all walk past the doors to the end of the hall where a final doorway opens out into a wide space lit by yellow light.

They step through into the lamp-lit warehouse. It is mostly empty, but there are a few stacks of crates and barrels scattered around. Some men are working near one of the large doors at the back of the building, apparently loading a wagon. As Juni and her party move away from the doorway and her escort fans out around her, she sees that there are three men, obviously not warehouse workers, waiting for them along the near wall.

The well-dressed newcomer leads the way now, with Crooked Smile pulling Juni along after him. They approach the three waiting men, stopping when one of them, the apparent leader, steps forward.

"Greetings!" The man hails them, but his icy smile belies his cordial tone. "Skathros, how.. pleasant to see you again after all this time. Veren, is this the best work you can find?" he adds, with a nod in Crooked Smile's direction. "I keep telling you that there's plenty of room for you in our organization."

"Ah, Bajinok," Skathros replies, obviously making an effort to hold his anger in check. "I do so enjoy these little reunions. It is.. pleasant to see you too. But alas, this is not a social call. Let's move on to business. We've brought the girl."

"I can see that," Bajinok sneers. "And she is the one?"

Juni starts at that, but Skathros is quick to answer. "The one that wants to get out of Tradeholm, yes. You are to provide her with the means. She wishes to escape the notice of.. certain parties."

"Ah yes. Certain parties have an interest in her. I was expecting something more somehow. She hardly seems to be worth anyone's notice. Come here, girl," he orders, holding a hand out to Juni.

Veren walks with her part of the way, his crooked grin notably absent from his face. Then he releases her arm and steps back. Juni continues walking forward on her own. A greedy light glitters in Bajinok's eye as she comes slowly nearer, and she wonders at that - she hadn't paid that much money for his sevice. Was he perhaps expecting more?

Trust will get you killed.

Nothing feels right about this situation, but Juni can only keep going. Finally she stands before Bajinok. He reaches for her, drawing her close with a seemingly protective arm around her shoulder. "There now. We will take care of you." He signals, and one of his men breaks away and heads for Skathros and his party.

"You may go now, Skathros," Bajinok says in a commanding tone. "My man here has something for you, and then he will see that you and your associates find your way out."

He turns his cold smile on Juni. "This way, my dear..."

Last edited by Kelemyn; 13th of June, 2006 at 02:15.
  #32  
Unread 13th of June, 2006, 01:39
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Shade followed as they took the woman deep into the docks. Everyone knew that the real power in this area belonged to organized crime. Things always looked like they were on the level - there was even the occasional guard patrol passing through. Of course, should one ever actually need a guard they would be conveniently absent; they were all on somebody's payroll. Nobody did anything down here without involving the underworld.

Shade kept to the shadows as Skathros took the group into the warehouse. Her eyes are on the workers, noting the way they moved, the surreptious glances passing between them. Doubtless they were muscle hired by Bajinok - insurance against things going bad.

Getting past them would be difficult but Shade wanted to be inside the warehouse. She wouldn't be much use if she had to fight her way through them to get to Skathros. Her lithe form slides from one shadow to the next, her eyes fixed on her target. Inside, Skathros was still stalling - part of the plan, designed to give her time to get into position. There was cover up until she reached the doors. The wagon had been parked half in and half out of the doorway, probably to help block an escape. She didn't have to wait long before the two guards she could see had their eyes fixed on the group surrounding Arjuna. All she needed was that moment to slip along the far side of the wagon and into the warehouse. She crept along behind stacks of crates and groups of barrels until she could hear the final words of the exchange.

So far, so good - nothing seemed amiss, and Skathros hadn't given any of the signals indicating trouble. He spent a moment reviewing Bajinok's gift and talking to the agent, then he waved his hand through the all clear sign as he rounded up his men and they sauntered from the warehouse. It was over, and without a hitch. Outside, the other scout would be following them back until they made it to Night Eyes territory. Shade herself ought to go but she doesn't. Her grey eyes refuse to move away from Arjuna.

The girl had just walked unknowingly into the hands of her own death. Not that it made much difference - without any survival skills, she would likely have died on the road anyway. And there were people after her, seeking vengeance for the man she'd killed. No, Arjuna had been a dead woman long before Shade got involved. Besides, there wasn't anything Shade could do about it anyway. She was in a warehouse full of Bajinok's men - they'd both be killed or worse. Even if they escaped, the entire underworld would be looking for them. The guild had no use for traitors.

It was horrible and unfair, but that was life. Nobody had ever helped her out. The thought doesn't quite ring true, though, and instead of departing she sinks deeper into shadow, watching. She can feel her heart pounding in her chest now, the cool tingle of adrenalaine at her fingertips. It would be foolishness of the worst kind to interfere. If this was her life, then she had to accept it for what it was, had to steel herself against the misery of others. She needed to stare those things in the eye and not blink or she would end up dead herself.

Last edited by Gralhruk; 13th of June, 2006 at 01:48.
  #33  
Unread 13th of June, 2006, 04:29
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Juni walks with Bajinok but looks back over her shoulder at Skathros and the others as they depart. What did Bajinok say? His man had something to give to Skathros? She can see that something had been handed over. What was it? It was almost as if Bajinok had paid for her. But it was supposed to be the other way around, wasn't it?

Bajinok is looking at her in an altogether unpleasant way, as if she were some kind of prize that is about to pay off in a big way. Or no, it's more like the prize is inside of her and he has only to get it out of her somehow. She pulls slightly away from him and the hand on her shoulder grasps at her, clutching at her cloak.

Truly alarmed now, Juni looks around. Skathros and his men are gone. Bajinok and another man are leading her toward a small door in the wall at the other end of the warehouse from where she came in. The other of Bajinok's men is hurrying to catch up with them after escorting Skathros out. Besides these three, there are several warehousemen working near the back wall loading up the wagon.

"H-how are you going to smuggle me out of the city?" Juni asks, mainly to buy herself some time.

"You needn't concern yourself with the details right now," Bajinok replies evasively.

"When will we be going? Am I to go in that wagon over there?" Juni raises her arm to point across the warehouse, and at the same time she reaches out with her psychic sense toward the the three men around her. She doubts that any of them notice the slight smell of smoke that accompanies the use of her power. With a quick movement she steps toward the wagon, purposefully out of reach, feeling Bajinok's fingers lose their grasp on her cloak as she does so.

"I've changed my mind. I don't want to do this."

Instantly, she can feel their hostility toward her. Suspicion and aggression roll off Bajinok in waves although Juni can see that he is trying to keep his face friendly.

"My dear, I'm afraid it's too late to back out now. The arrangements have been made." He takes a step toward her, but Juni backs even further away.

And now she can feel something behind her, more hostility. The warehouse workers! A quick glance over her shoulder shows her the four men who had been loading crates on the wagon are now standing and watching her warily.

But there is another presence over there by the wagon. A bit closer, hiding behind a stack of barrels, someone is watching. Juni can feel a certain amount of hostility emanating from this person also, but at the same time she senses an ambivalence there, as if the person were trying to decide whose side he ought to take in this.

What to do? It is clear now that Bajinok means her harm. She will not go willingly with him. But how to get away?

Run! It is the only thing Juni can think of to do. She can't fight all seven of them at once, but if she can get close to the door before one of two of them catch her, she just might stand a chance.

Juni makes a dash for the back door, the one that is partially blocked by the wagon. As she runs, she fumbles for the sword at her side but she can't pull it free from its scabbard without slowing down. She hears Bajinok shouting something behind her, and sees a couple of the men by the wagon move to intercept her. The other two hang back to block her exit. She veers a little to her right, heading for the stacked barrels and the watcher in hiding. Is it possible to make an ally of this unknown person? At the least, revealing the spy might confuse things for Bajinok.

"Help me!" she cries as she closes on the barrels.
  #34  
Unread 13th of June, 2006, 05:02
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The whole thing happens as though she is watching through a crystal ball - able to see everything yet unable to interfere. The girl is smart - her increasing nervousness is clear - and Shade finds some part of herself wishing desparately for the girl to run, to escape, even though she knows that it is fruitless. Her fingers whiten on her sword hilt as Arjuna backs free of Bajinok. He had botched it, given away his intent. Shade knew it and so did everyone else in that dusty warehouse.

Her gut twists, knowing what is about to happen: the girl would be captured, dragged away to whatever fate they had planned. They start after her but somehow she manages to evade the first clutching fingers. Shade's heart jumps, wild with the hope that the girl can somehow do the impossible, knowing all the while that it won't happen. She can already see them spreading out, blocking the exits. The girl would never make it out.

Seeing her escape route cut off, Arjuna alters her course. Instead of looking for another exit or simply giving up the lost cause, she heads right for Shade, calling for help, with two of Bajinok's rogues right on her heels. In that single instant, every possible emotion runs through the hidden rogue's body. Fear, anger, and despair are prominent but unexpectedly she also feels a surge of relief. It all washes away a fraction of a second later as she commits herself to an act that she herself had called suicidal.

She slides backwards a pace and times her forward rush to coincide with the arrival of the trio, vaulting over the barrels and flipping her legs around to land behind the trailing man. In the moment it takes his brain to register the event, she drives her sword through his unprotected neck and twists the blade sharply before yanking it out. She skitters sideways between Arjuna and the second man, torchlight shining off her steel.
  #35  
Unread 13th of June, 2006, 20:22
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Juni's eyes widen in surprise and shock, first at the dramatic appearance of the wished-for ally; then at the sudden spill of crimson that courses down the neck and shoulder of her unfortunate pursuer. The man collapses, the ally stands between her and the second pursuer, but Juni can't tear her eyes from the steadily spreading pool of blood. She stands transfixed and slightly sickened by the sight, when suddenly another pair of hands grabs her from the side.

One of the false warehousemen has reached her. Juni turns to look at him, her eyes flashing silver as he holds her arms pinned firmly to her sides. She concentrates briefly and suddenly the man staggers away from her. His entire body seems to be coated with a shimmering, slick substance, and everyone near Juni hears a strange, nearly imperceptible ringing in their minds. The man doubles over as if he is about to get sick.

The other three fake warehousemen stop and stare at the two women. The last pursuer faces Shade warily, drawing his own blade. Bajinok shouts from across the warehouse, "Get them!"

Last edited by Kelemyn; 13th of June, 2006 at 20:25.
  #36  
Unread 14th of June, 2006, 00:19
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Peripherally, Shade notes the horror on the girl's face at the widening pool of crimson spreading from the man she had just killed. What sort of help had she expected? Suddenly her teeth vibrate with a low pitched noise that seems to emanate from her skull and she sees the man who had grabbed Arjuna stagger back. She doesn't need Bajinok's shout to warn her that the others will be on them in a moment.

"This way!" she calls as she spins away from her attacker, using the barrels as cover and sprinting for the small door. The thieves near Bajinok halt and move to block them. Good. She judged them more dangerous than the hired thugs that had been guarding the wagon. She keeps her course until they believe she is committed, then she abruptly switches and heads for the large door and the wagon.

Shade slams a tall stack of barrels hard enough to bruise her shoulder, but her pain is rewarded as she starts a mini-avalanche behind them. Hopefully it would buy them enough time to make it to the door.
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Unread 14th of June, 2006, 04:03
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This time Juni draws her sword before she starts to run. She is happy to let Shade lead the way because she has no idea what she ought to do next. (She hasn't yet registered the surprise of discovering that it is the woman she met back at the Stinging Serpent who was hiding among the barrels and spying on the meeting.)

Juni falls behind a bit since her fancy high-fashion shoes were not made for this type of wear. With her psychic sense, she feels the ill will of the man hard on her heels, and yelps as one of Shade's falling barrels nearly clips her in the shins. She manages to dance around it but the man behind her is not so lucky, and it takes him down.

The three men nearest the wagon are just now snapping out of their reluctance to move against the two women. They seem to be avoiding Shade for the moment, no doubt because she is the one with the fresh blood on her sword. Instead they focus on Juni, one of the men signalling to the others to cut her off from the door and to surround her.

Juni sees that one man will easily reach the door before she can, and he too has now drawn a sword. He gives Shade a wide berth, waiting for her to pass by. A sudden fear siezes Juni - will her new-found ally decide she has done enough to help a stranger, and will she now make her escape and leave Juni to fend for herself?

Juni slows and begins to concentrate on reaching the thug's mind. Again her eyes flash silver, and again she does not bother to try hide her use of her power. The man by the door is slammed backward, as if he had been struck a severe blow to the head. Shade and the men nearby hear a sharp crack like the sound of a whip, and then the man screams in pain.
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Unread 15th of June, 2006, 03:30
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What had seemed impossible only moments before now suddenly seemed within reach. They had only to scoot past the two remaining men - who were now giving Arjuna a wide berth - and out the door. Shade gives the girl a shove in the proper direction and immediately follows, slicing through the ropes that bind the heavy boxes to the wagon as she goes by. They come crashing down, giving them a few more precious seconds to escape.

They dash for the shadows but before they make it an arrow snaps into Shade's back. She stumbles forward and resists the urge to roll, which might drive the arrow deeper. Instead she hits the ground hard on her hands and knees. The black tide of unconsciouness sweeps toward her; she grinds her teeth against pain and nausea and wills it back. Her ears are ringing as she climbs to her feet and catches up to Arjuna, once more taking the lead.

She turns them down two alleys, trying her best to ignore the shaft jutting from behind right shoulder blade. When she starts moving west, Arjuna stops her.

"N-not that way," she says, ignoring the question in Shade's pain filled eyes, "it isn't safe."

They backtrack, still moving quickly, and wind their way as quickly as possible for another few minutes. The shouts and sounds of pursuit have died away, leaving only the harsh sound of their own breathing. Shade slumps down and sits on the ground, her face white behind the veil and slick with sweat.
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Unread 18th of June, 2006, 21:52
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"I think we're safe here.. for the moment," Juni says, struggling to catch her breath. She peers wide-eyed into the darkness, fearing to catch a glimpse of moonlight glinting off steel back the way they came. She almost doesn't trust the sixth sense that tells her that no one is near who wishes her harm.

Her knees feel weak and her head light. Too much running, too much... everything else. She sits down suddenly, before her legs give out on their own. And before she can stop herself she is sobbing with her face in her hands.

If only things would stop happening so fast. Her life keeps changing quicker than she can cope with it. First she is kidnapped and finds out her father is dead. Next she discovers that the most powerful criminal organization in Tradeholm is after her and she must leave the city. Then she is betrayed and ends up running for her life.

And somewhere in the midst of all of this, she had been forced to use the mysterious mind power that she had so carefully suppressed for most of her life. She'd only done it to defend herself! But she had hurt that last man badly, she knows. With the power of her mind.

Juni squeezes her eyes shut, closing her mind, turning off even the benign sense that would alert her to the presence of her enemies. Is she an evil person? Why must she be different from everyone else? No, not everyone. She is like her father. Is that why the Guild wants her?

This is stupid, she tells herself. She has no time for these tears or these questions. She has to keep going, figure out what to do.

And suddenly she remembers her companion. The woman, Shade, had led the way. Juni would've been lost in the maze of streets if left on her own. She turns to where Shade is sitting with her back to her, uncomfortably aware of how foolish she must seem, sitting here crying like a baby.

"I'm sorry," she says, wiping at her eyes. "You helped me, and I- I thank you." It is very dark in the street, but even in the darkness Juni can see that Shade is not well. "What is it?" she asks, moving closer. Then she sees the blood drenching the back of Shade's cloak, and the arrow sticking out of her back.

"They've shot you! Shade! Shade, are you all right?"
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Unread 19th of June, 2006, 22:17
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Shade doesn't bother answering the obvious, reserving her energy for fending off the pain and shock of the wound. There is a dull roaring in her ears, making it hard to focus on what ArJuna is saying. She doesn't bother trying, aware that lying here wounded and hunted is dangerous.

"It has to come out. The cloak is silk; the barbs won't bind. But you have to pull straight. And do it quick."

Lorrus had shown her the benefits of silk. It wouldn't stop an arrow from penetrating, but it wouldn't rip either. The silk would get pushed into the wound making it much easier to remove the arrow. And it would lessen the chance of being poisoned, should your foe happen to be a poisoner.
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Unread 20th of June, 2006, 00:08
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She is relieved to hear that Shade is able to answer. But Juni can't quite believe what she tells her.

"It has to-- what? The arrow has to.. has to come out? I have to pull it out?" Juni snaps her mouth shut before her next words can come out. I can't do it!!

But she has to, doesn't she? There's no use dwelling on it or stalling. She stares at Shade's back, at the arrow that seems to quiver with the rise and fall of each ragged breath Shade takes. Juni tries to ignore all the blood, and stops her racing mind from picturing what will happen if she does this badly. Just grab the arrow and pull it straight out. She wills her hands to stop shaking as her fingers grasp the shaft. Shade moans softly at even that slightest touch.

Half afraid of what she'll see, Juni reaches out with her mind for a quick glimpse of the future. Even though what she sees (and feels) causes her to grimace, the 'view' of herself removing the arrow in the future will allow her to adjust her technique enough to do it cleaner and better in the here and now.

"Try to be still," she tells Shade, feeling a little more confident. Then with a quick motion, she pulls the arrow free.
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Unread 20th of June, 2006, 00:36
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Everything is a white agony as the broadhead pulls free with a sharp jerk. Shade's cry is muffled but still loud enough to make Arjuna flinch. For a moment, neither moves, both recovering from the shock of the event. When her vision clears, Shade rises even though all she wants to do is collapse. With Arjuna's help, she binds a piece of cloth over the wound, staunching the blood flow.

They set out again, more slowly this time, Shade spending long moments peering into any larger or lit street they approached before leading them across. Arjuna can't tell how badly the wound might be bothering her, but she notes that Shade seems to lean heavily on any convenient object during her pauses. Instead of leading them out of the city, though, they seem to be going deeper in. Arjuna is beginning to grow suspicious when Shade stops them across the street from an inn.

"The gates are no good for us, not now. They'll have paid off the guards to stop us. I need to get back and try to act like I had nothing to do with this. You need to hide. I have friends staying here; stick with them for a bit and you'll be fine."

She wonders how much of that last statement is true, given the circumstances when she'd last seen Nicos and Blarth. It might be they wouldn't want to even talk to her, let alone help her. There wasn't much choice: she needed help, badly. Shade scans the street one more time, then leads Arjuna across the street to The Traveller's Wineskin.
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