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Beau

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Royal Prelude
« on: February 08, 2015, 01:33:14 am »
(Approximately one year before the first Royal adventure)

Cane was a thief.  He wasn’t proud of the label, but he’d learned the skill to survive and accepted the consequences that came with light fingers and little sound.  Tonight, as evening closed on the capital city, Cane sat on the sloped roof of the King’s castle, knees bent and arms crossed.  His brown and green clothing blended with his surroundings.  He knew that people rarely looked up so he felt no fear of discovery even though such would likely mean prison or death.  He was no stranger to flaunting authority – truth was he sort of liked the thrill. 

The height of the domed roof didn’t bother him either.  Cane inched closer to the edge, booted feet against the tile to hold his balance.  Not for the first time he wondered at the sleepy town below – New Carthage it was called.   There wasn’t an old Carthage, and there wasn’t much new about this place.  The tavern and cottages smelled of smoked peat, and the roads were worn with years of traders coming from the southern kingdom of Solast.  Even now he could see a caravan of horses and wagons making their way to the center of town to prepare for the next day’s market.  People would arrive at dawn to make their purchases, but by then Cane would be long gone.

He scouted the route below, and calculated the simple swing and leap required to access the balcony.  The wizard Perceval lived in this tower and Cane had occasion to visit in the past.  He knew the path and the layout of the rooms below.  But his objective wasn’t social.  He’d been told to fetch something, and already he was late on the return.  Trouble likely awaited him at the hands of his employer.

“Not that it would be the first time,” Cane mumbled as he executed the descent with an instinctive grace.  He wasn’t the tallest of men, and his body had the wiry agility of an acrobat. For all those tight spots you get in, he thought to himself with a smirk as his feet softly touched stone. 

He crouched and listened, hoping his presence wasn’t detected by those behind the window.  The room was dark which could mean the occupant was asleep.  The hour was early, but Perceval was old.  Cane had observed enough of the man’s habits to know that when the sun went down, Perceval often went down with it.

A black bird flew close and took a perch on the balcony rail.  Cane waved his hand to shoo the bird away, but the beast tipped its head to the side and admired him curiously.  Normally Cane liked animals but this particular bird had beady eyes and a perceptive gaze.  Cane had the feeling he couldn’t smile and convince the bird to do his bidding like he did most people.  And, for some odd reason that worried him.

As with most things he couldn’t control, Cane ignored the bird and went on about his business.  A few seconds later and Cane pressed his back to the wall.  He side-stepped towards the glass and with a flick of his hand, let himself inside.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 01:35:07 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2015, 07:49:39 pm »
The Royal Guard had not been having a busy week. That always meant something was going to happen. Desiree heard the rumors of a thief that was now wanted, despite having a lengthy history. At least, that was what it had seemed like when Captain Matthew Trill spoke of him with such frustration.

At least presently, Matthew wasn’t frustrated. He had even found the time to join some of the guards at one of the bars in New Carthage town. Ariel preferred them to the bars within the walled castle area—something about all of those being too snooty.


“Ariel, damn it!”


“Why do you even try to drink red wine anymore?”

The question was directed to Matthew, who had tried, and failed, to enjoy a glass of red wine once again, though the blame fell to Ariel. He had pounded his fist on the table when making a point, and it spilled all the drinks on the table—his own, Timothy’s, and Matthew’s. Both happened to land mostly in their laps, which had little effect on Ariel’s dark slacks, but it made Matthew look like he was bleeding profusely from his upper thigh. The man just had to be obsessed with white. 


“I don’t know,” only recently had he spilled a cup in the barracks, tarnishing Desiree’s couch. She wanted to keep it for the amusing memory. “Ariel, get me a new drink.”

“And me,” Timothy chimed in as he tried to brush the liquid off his lap. He finally got up, “I’ll be back,” he wasn’t dealing with this. He was changing pants so he didn’t reek of alcohol. 

Ariel was already getting up to get his own new drink. A glance at Matthew told him it would be a poor idea to argue with either of them.
“Yes, sir.” And he walked on to the counter and waved the tavern wench down.

Matthew glanced down again at the mess and sighed. He ought to go change as well, but chances were, the next glass of wine would just ruin the next pair of pants. He’d at least enjoy one glass without having an incident.


“At least the maids are used to this by now,”
she chuckled. The maids who tended to the laundry of the guard had it rough. Bloodstained clothing was fairly common.

“Yes,” Matthew agreed. “You could have warned me, Dominick.” He had seen Dominick snatch his cup up right before. Hindsight told him Dominick knew.

“There wouldn’t have been enough time even if I did,”
Dominick noted. “Besides, the day you actually get to enjoy a glass of red wine is going to be an earned day.”

Dominick spoke the truth, at least on that day. When Ariel returned with his own ale, Timothy’s drink, and Matthew’s red wine, a blackbird came flying into the bar and landed on the table, disturbing that fragile glass cup. Matthew managed to push himself backwards so that the cup’s contents just fell onto the ground.

He fixed the bird with a glare as the three around the table tried their best to stifle their laughter.

Matthew’s birds rarely disturbed them for frivolous things. How they delivered their messages was unknown to the three, for Matthew had no talent in understanding animals.
“Great,” Ariel was the one who had some uncanny ability with it. He rose, taking up his ale with him, a second before Matthew stood.

“Issue at the castle,” Matthew said. “You three can—”

“Are you kidding? We haven’t done anything in weeks.”


“Anyone bold enough to cause a problem in the castle can deal with being outnumbered,”
Desiree added, also rising.

The bird lifted itself from the table, and flew out the door. There was no time for Matthew to protest the company.


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2015, 10:57:18 pm »
He smelled the candle wax before his eyes fully adjusted to the dim glow and found the taper with its holder near the bed.  The tiny flame was the only light in the room and Cane hesitated just beyond the window ledge to get a feel for the space before venturing further into the shadows.  His first concern was occupancy.  He shuffled forward and confirmed the bed was unoccupied.  From behind an adjacent door on the far side of the room, he could hear the sound of water running.  This left him to presume that Perceval was taking a bath.   Cane shivered.  He could never understand why anyone wanted to soak in water for longer than necessary.  The thief had never learned how to swim, didn’t plan to, and tended to avoid the river unless it was knee deep. 

On the way here he’d cleaned the road dust off and changed his shirt.  A bit of care with his appearance went a long way.  He’d never pass for a noble, but he’d been known to use the moss green eyes and bright smile to talk his way out of the occasional situation with a woman.  His looks were his contingency plan in the event of trouble and even with his skill he still expected that he’d run into the wizard and have to explain himself. Perceval tended to appreciate when he didn’t look like a street ruffian.  Even now Cane could recall a particular lecture about dirt under his finger nails and how he’d ‘amount to nothing.’

Cane shook his head and whispered towards the bathroom door.  “Whatever makes you happy, Old Man.”

The room was much as he’d remembered.  Months had passed since he’d visited last, but the desk and workbench lined the wall as always.  The telescope lay propped against the window.  No potion was brewing, but Cane dismissed the inconsistency to the late hour.  Open flame and sleep were never a good thing.

As quietly as he could he approached the workbench.  He’d been given specific instructions  to find a particular crystal.  Cane knew the dimension and properties, although the item was unfamiliar.  He didn’t seek more light, but rather let his hands skim the table.  He’d know he'd found what he was looking for if he touched it.

He heard the creek of a door opening.  Cane’s shoulders stiffened and his hands stilled.  Water was still running, but it seemed the bather had returned for something.

It was the scream that let him know it wasn’t Perceval looking for a sponge.

I should have stayed in Solast.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 11:04:26 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2015, 01:50:51 am »
Their place was behind Matthew, and the three guards did not question it as they let him lead. The blackbird that was Matthew’s image had flown off. A thousand times Desiree had meant to ask why Matthew was a blackbird and not a dove, but she suspected he didn’t know. Desiree did not know why she was a dog, and Dominick did not know why he was a deer. The only one that truly seemed to fit was Ariel as the lion.

Yet Ariel hung back with them, a cat following a bird.

They moved by the local guards and into the castle without trouble and without questions. Ariel flicked his wrist as they moved through the darkening halls to bring a light into his own hand. No one flinched. No one in the Guard could remain afraid of fire for very long with Ariel present. His obsession with his own magic was one of the reasons Matthew had paired him with an aquamancer recently.

There was a scream not far from them, and seemed to come from the direction they were headed in. Matthew took off running, and the other three followed.

Matthew, in the lead, arrived in the room first, flinging the door open. He noted the woman, and ambassador of Tyree, and quickly averted his eyes from her to the brunette thief in his midst. He didn’t bother hiding the smirk on his lips as his followers entered after him. Dominick was quick to speak to the woman,
“Go back into the washroom, we’ll deal with this.” With Perceval’s departure, the room had been turned into one that could house ambassadors, diplomats, and other esteemed guests of the palace.

Ariel greeted,
“Thief,” familiarly. The fire he held in his hands became a weapon almost instantly, as he hurled it right at Cane.

Desiree glanced between all in the room, then just flickered her eyelids to bring up her own sight so that she could be useful. The man before her seemed slightly familiar, though she couldn’t place him. Perhaps it was only because he fit the description of the wanted thief.


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2015, 06:00:24 am »
“Shhh,” Cane urged with a finger to his lips. 

The woman with the towel hesitated.  Her knuckles white as she stared at the intruder in her room.  She furrowed her brow, perhaps stumped by how calm he was.  Shouldn’t he be running away?

For some reason she touched her damp hair and ran fingers though it.  She blinked under the disarming smile. “How did you get in here?” She asked.

Cane pointed towards the window.  “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”  He went back to looking over the work desk.  “Where’s Perceval?”

“Who?”

He shook his head.  How like Millicent to send him with only partial information.  Perceval was probably sitting with his feet up in The Heights, and that’s why he’d been sent on the sneak mission.  The two magic users had a long standing feud and now he was caught in the middle again.

Cane picked up a stack of papers and put them down.  Opened a drawer.  “I’ll only be another moment, you can go back to…” He paused when he saw the wooden box about the size of a muffin.  He’d noticed it once before and been warned not to touch it.

What are the odds.

With only one way to find out Cane opened the box.  The air around him shifted and swirled.  Bright light blinded him.  There was a roaring in his ears that almost masked the latest scream of the woman with him. 

Hands shaking Cane managed to close the box.

“Bad idea,” he mumbled.

Cane looked to the window.  “I better be going.”  But the door flew open before he could execute the escape.  His “favorite” people seemed to crowd into the room, and as usual, he found some of his confident veneer slipping.

“Guard,” Cane couldn’t help the trite response.  Ariel didn’t like him.  No reason to pretend otherwise on either part.  He knew from experience that fire would be the come-back.  Ariel wasn’t known for witty words. 

Cane simply had to pick right or left and hope he picked the correct direction to dodge.  A quick sidestep away from the predictable escape path, and then a lunge to the window.  The air was warm, but his skin didn’t burn.  His clothes would likely need to be washed though, the familiar hint of smoke now clinging to them as Cane darted across the balcony and on to the roof.  He was practically flying as he jumped the gap between the railing and the tiles above.  His nibble footing held as he scrambled up towards the pointed peak, and then slid down the other side.

The woman in the room thought she was being helpful.  She danced forward towards Matthew.  “He took something!”  Only when the words were out did she realize how obvious that sounded.  So, she went on to add the equally helpful, “I don’t know what it was.”


Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2015, 04:32:45 pm »
It was Dominick who moved first when Ariel’s fire, predictably, failed. “See ya below, Des!” was Dominick’s comment as he followed the thief’s path. Dominick was the only three of the guards who would even dare to consider it, the only one with any experience on roofs and in trees. His footing was good and he gave pursuit. He didn’t need to see Cane right then. His sense of smell was good enough to follow the traces of smoke that now clung to the thief.

Dominick’s goal was simple: find Cane, and knock him to the ground somehow, be it dagger or through an unfriendly nudge.


“Don—” But Matthew didn’t get to complete the order as Desiree spun on her heel after Dominick’s words. A hand touched Matthew’s shoulder, before the swordswoman ran out and his attention was taken over by the woman in the towel. Matthew made sure not to glare, or even scowl, at the unhelpful woman.

He considered what room this had been, and deduced that Cane came here to locate something of its older resident.
“I doubt he took anything of yours, Lady,” Matthew said, “Ariel will remain with you to take a fuller account of the story, and to ensure nothing of yours was stolen.” Ariel’s eyes moved from the window to Matthew, clearly surprised by this.

“He’s right here in New Carthage! You can’t leave me here.”
Ariel protested.

“Can, and am.” Matthew said. Ariel might have a personal vendetta, but that would only get in the way right now. Matthew gave a slight bow to the woman, and then turned to exit as well. Following Dominick and Desiree would be a little difficult, since they had the time advantage, but he’d try.


Out of the castle, Desiree was able to follow Dominick a bit easier, though she was still behind him. Within the castle, she had to keep looking up to seek out Dominick’s lines. She’d grown quite familiar with them, since Dominick’s magic was always active, always alert, so she knew how to follow him. It was just a matter of distance. He had almost gotten out of her range in his pursuit of the thief, and the stone of the castle certainly didn’t help her ability to track him.

Now that she was outside, though, the only real interference was the New Carthage gate, which just spewed magical energy everywhere and distorted the field. Fortunately, she was already used to that. Nine years of honing this skill of sight had helped.
‘And they’re not out of the gate yet.’ So, she ran to follow Dominick, who was likely still up on roofs. Irksome.

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2015, 01:42:49 am »
Cane hadn’t expected to be followed, so his path across the roof was more strategic than speedy at first.  He made the initial great leap from the balcony and looked back, only to see Dominick emerge from the window.  Cane frowned, and shifted his focus towards escape over evasion.  He might have lingered on the roof if it had been Ariel in pursuit.  Fearless of the height, Cane would have walked the rim and dared the pyromancer to throw curses and fireballs while daylight remained.  The King would have reason to be angry then with the dark haired guard, and getting Ariel in trouble would have a fun side benefit to his afternoon plans.

Dominic was a different matter.  Cane knew of the man more from observation than history.  They’d spoken a few times, although he doubted the guard realized how often their paths crossed.  Cane tended to hide beneath costumes and circumstance.  A lost traveler, a woodsman.  He’d offered to sell Dominic a horse once.  Today, he doubted the man racing behind him would be bribed by the bauble in his pocket.

Not that he wouldn’t want to stop and talk to Dominick.  Overall he was a friendly sort.  Dominic had a good sense of humor.  It just always seemed like Cane was in the wrong place at the wrong time where they couldn't bond properly.  And here was another misunderstanding.

I’m not really stealing anything, he rationalized. I’m going to return it to Perceval…eventually.

Millicent might want the stone now, but typically she tired of her new playthings quickly.  He’d watch and make sure she didn’t do real harm.  Over confident as usual, he thought he might hold enough influence to convince the sorceress that mercy had its uses.

Cane’s feet were sure as he leapt to another steeple.  A quick glance behind showed that Dominick followed, even after he’d dropped out of sight more than once.  Not for the first time, Cane wondered what sort of magic the other held to track him so well, but the thought was fleeting as he slipped and skidded, ultimately to slide down the slick stone and dangle by one hand from the roof.  He had to inhale and focus all his energy on not falling and breaking his neck.  Like a monkey he managed to swing to a lower ledge, balance and regain his footing, before jumping to the ground.

The thief’s path had been strategic.  From this side of the castle he could easily access the stables.  Lingering in town and hiding while Matthew mobilized all twenty of the royal guard to find him would not be wise.  He needed the advantage of a head start and as much open country as possible at this point.  He’d learned the hard way that talking his way out of a situation with the parties involved was not an option.

He could be quick if he wanted.  Cane sprinted as fast as lightening towards the dark and dusty stables.  His horse, Buck, was waiting there, still saddled from their ride into town earlier in the day.  He couldn’t have left Buck out on the street, the horse was nearly as notorious as he was.  Besides, Buck liked to commune with other horses if he had the chance.  Right now he was ‘parked’ near Alexander, Desiree’s horse – sharing a stable.   Cane decided to take advantage of that situation.  As he gathered Buck’s reins in one hand, he took the boxed stone from his pocket with the other.  He shoved the booty in the saddle bag belonging to Desiree.  No point in getting caught with it.  And if she followed, well, then all the better.  It would save him the trip to reclaim it later.

To placate Alexander, Cane took the half second required to dig out a sugar cube.  “No peeking,” he whispered as he offered the treat to the horse.  He smiled as the trusting muzzle brushed his palm.  “And don’t keep me waiting.”

With that he made a clicking sound for Buck to follow, as he led the horse out of the stall.

« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 06:04:30 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2015, 05:54:51 pm »
Dominick never got close enough to nudge Cane, nor to throw a dagger at his ankle, but he was able to keep in pursuit of the thief all the same. Times like these, he was thankful for his heightened senses. It wasn't always a blessing--he'd been overwhelmed by sights and smells in the past. Fortunately, it looked like he was in the clear for the moment.

‘The stables?’
The scent of the horses almost masked Cane’s, but Dominick didn’t lose him. He dropped down from the roof path near the entrance, just as Cane was exiting with a rather familiar horse. He’d been in the market for a horse a few years back, before he found Belladonna.

Seeing the horse he’d bought and lost, caused him to recall the face of the seller and he put two-and-two together.

He laughed, a joyful sound,
“So you’re the thief,” he could be impressed by a good con artist, “Did you try to cheat Matthew before?” He had to ask. He wasn’t sure what, exactly, it was that Cane stole in the past that made him so wanted. He wasn’t sure what he’d stolen now, either. The noble in the room hadn’t been helpful at all.

Desiree and Matthew hadn’t yet caught up, and Dominick found he didn’t really feel all that threatened by the thief. He knew he should—if this was someone Matthew and Ariel both hated, then that meant he had talents enough to escape them. 

« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 05:49:52 am by Krystal Itzume »

Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2015, 06:39:38 am »
Cane didn’t start at the voice, or have the shame to look guilty as Dominick called to him.  He paused in the arched entrance of the stable and checked his own saddlebag, calmly pulling a rumpled hat from the leather pouch and slapping it against his leg to ease the crease.  The brim was adjusted and the hat placed on the short dark hair with a tug.  “I prefer the name Cane.”

There was no malice in the gaze, but the smile was twinged with sadness rather than mirth.  “Let’s just say I had a troubled youth.”  Matthew wasn’t one you spoke about out of turn.

Cane figured he had little time to converse, but he didn’t look over his shoulder or visibly gauge the whereabouts of the other guards.  He whispered something in Buck’s ear, then put one foot in the stirrup and mounted the house in a graceful movement of a man well accustomed to being on a horse.  He offered Dominic a nod.  “Good to see you Dom. You’ll understand if I don’t linger.  Places to go.  People to see.”

He nudged Buck with one leg so he’d dance backwards a few steps and evade any potential reach of the other man.  “Tell Desiree I said hello.”

Then with kick the horse leapt forward, nearly running Dominick down.   Cane made a clicking sound and the horse sidestepped just in time and then bolted like it had been shot from a canon, heading in a dead run towards the town gate.

« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 06:05:07 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2015, 07:17:44 pm »
Dominick smiled at the name given, supposed he could use it, but the smile faltered at Cane’s ‘excuse’. Or rather, his lack of one. Dominick never was a fan of one claiming their past as the reason for their present evils. He would have preferred Cane say he did steal from Matthew, or something of the sort.

When Cane got into the saddle, Dominick reached beneath his shirt to draw out a knife,
“I really can’t let you go.” But Buck moved backwards, and Dominick held for a moment.

Desiree cut into the scene just as Cane spoke his peace about greeting her, and then darted off. If Dominick couldn’t tell that the horse was going to fly right by him, he might have panicked. Fortunately, he could track its direction, and so he didn’t move until it went right by, when he turned his body and threw a dagger at the horse’s legs in an attempt to get it to stop.


“Tack the horses, I’ll be right back!” Desiree didn’t go into the stables, but ran into the barracks to grab her sword. She hadn’t brought it with her for the night out, hadn’t imagined she’d need it. Now, of course, she did.

Dominick only did a basic tack, quick as he could, so that when Desiree returned she found Alexander outside, waiting with saddle and reins. She climbed up into the saddle as Dominick led Belladonna out. Desiree raised an eyebrow at him, and he nodded. He no longer had the ‘scent’, as it were, but he imagined they could still get close enough to regain that.

Belladonna and Alexander left New Carthage at a gallop, but Dominick still had the gall to ask,
“So, you and Cane…?” His tone held the implications that a nudge and a wink would make too overt.

“I don’t know him.”
She didn’t know why the thief would care to leave her a greeting. Stalker or mind games crossed her mind. 
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 05:49:21 am by Krystal Itzume »

Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2015, 01:57:33 am »
It wasn’t hard to make it out of the castle area and onto the main road in town.  The cobblestones lead a straight and flat path. Cane glanced over his shoulder and saw that Dominick wasn’t running behind.  He’d heard the clink of metal on stone, but he’d been moving too fast to see what it was the guard threw.  Cane suspected a knife, but a horse moves out of range quickly.  Buck was skilled and well trained.  His rider patted the horse’s neck and reined in his pace as they approached the village proper.  No point in drawing undue attention to himself  by bolting through town, or running down a pedestrian.

Houses in the village were lit with lanterns and the sun was dipping lower on the horizon.  The air had a pinkish hue. Cane could smell food cooking. A man in dressed in white exited the tavern to his right. Cane’s shoulder’s stiffened and he pulled hard on Buck’s reins to turn the horse towards a side street and the shadows, rather than pass directly in front of the man.  Once again he looked behind, but didn’t see anyone in pursuit.  Another right turn, and he began a zig-zag pattern in the southern direction.

By the time he came in sight of the main guard post, and the magical gate, Buck slowed to a trot.  Cane pulled the hat lower over his brow and inched his horse closer to the gathering merchants.  A handful had just come in with their wagons, ready to move to the town square to set up for market day tomorrow.  The way the roads met, Cane could just have easily entered with them as been moving to leave.

Perhaps I could double back and explain to the guard I forgot something…

A plan half formed in his mind, he turned Buck towards the gate.  He craned his neck to see who was on duty. Cane almost missed the man on the opposite side of the road, although his white clothing set him apart from the twilight. 

“Going somewhere?” The man asked.

By now the merchants had moved on.  It was obvious who the man spoke too.  Cane made a show of looking around, and then he smiled.  "Out."

The guard seemed to notice the two in his midst.  Reginald wasn't part of the royal guard or a magic user.  He called down.  "Is there trouble Lord Gemenis?"

« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 06:08:18 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2015, 06:39:36 am »
Eiji was not accustomed to Reginald bothering him. He had gotten used to the guards not questioning what he did, since Matthew had seen to it the majority wouldn’t mind him. It made doing business with less-than savory folk easier.

Eiji recognized this one as one of those less-than savories, but not one he had any inclination to do business with.
“Yes, Reginald,” he spoke without looking to the other. He raised his voice, knowing at least one royal guard tended to watch the gate itself. “This happens to be a thief Captain Trill wants arrested. I thought I recognized him.” Now that he saw clearly under the hat, he was certain of it. 

It wasn’t Reginald that moved, but Cassius, and not within sight. Eiji only recognized it was him by the magic that manifested—a sword stolen from the sheathe of a regular guard and lifted into the air by the telekinetic force.

Reginald’s hand went to his own sword, but it wasn’t he that spoke.


“Get off the horse, and put your hands up.”
Desiree’s sword wasn’t drawn, but Dominick’s knives were out in plain sight.

Eiji looked to see Desiree and Dominick, and Reginald visibly relaxed. Eiji moved back, wanting no part in any violence that was likely to come. His gaze moved between the parties, always finding Desiree’s talent a strange one. He no longer tried to mimic it; it blurred his vision whenever he did. Mael had better fortune with it, but neither were sure exactly what it was she could do. Matthew didn’t seem any wiser, either.


“Thanks, Eiji,” Dominick said, casting the noble a glance. It was usually best to stay on his good side. Dominick had dealings with Eiji before becoming a guard, and with Eiji’s father—he knew better than to slight them.

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2015, 10:55:03 pm »
He should have just bolted through the gate and been done with it.  Hindsight was twenty-twenty and the green eyes narrowed as they observed Eiji and contemplated the accusation.  He shook his head.  “More false charges? I haven’t done anything.”  He lifted his eyes to Reginald.  “Search me if you like.  I have nothing that wouldn’t belong to a common traveler.”

Cane did his best to evoke the right amount of respect and a sliver of fear.  Guilty men were arrogant, and if he played the innocent he might yet talk his way out of things.  The thought of more time in a small cell allowed the tremor in his voice to take on a breathy quality.  Years ago, Matthew had seen to it he developed an aversion to captivity.

He’d been studying charm speak with his friend Rowan in Solast, but Cane suspected his reputation and the hidden agenda's around him trumped his acting ability.  “You need to let me go.”

He could feel magic in the air around him, although Cane didn’t deem the source until he heard Desiree’s order behind him.  Buck too seemed to want to see the newest arrival.  The tan gelding took a side step, the better to arch his neck and see the speaker.  He offered a snort of greeting.

“Hey there, Dollface,” Cane said.  “Miss me?” His leg moved a half inch to signal Buck to straighten out.  If he was going to run it would be through the gate, not through the guards.  He did want to see her face though, some vain hope that she’d answer yes, perhaps?

Dominic offered Eiji a thank you.  Cane wanted to laugh.  “This is all just a miss—”  And with the half finished word, and broken sentence, Cane snapped the reins and Buck jumped towards the gate.  The horse was fast, moving from a stopped position to a full gallop, but one of the guards managed to toss a weapon.  A sword in flight knocked Cane’s hat off.  He would have seen the blade and hat impaled in a tree if he’d turned to look, but Cane’s focus was on freedom and the violet lit security gate.  Inches from impact, he closed his eyes, and exhaled his breath in a short burst.  Rider and horse passed through the magical barrier without consequence, and road on towards the forest and escape.

« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 11:06:03 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2015, 10:46:39 pm »
Dominick had to suck in a breath when he heard the term Cane used. There wasn’t much of a violent reaction from Desiree, but Dominick could see she’d heard him quite clearly from the way her eyes narrowed. “Desiree.” She corrected him, curt and cold. And no.” She didn’t even know him, even if there was something familiar about him.

Dollface, Baby, and all sorts of terms of endearment didn’t go over well with Desiree. There were a few she tolerated, but Ariel had been met with his fair share of violence for certain terms early on. Dominick had figured out the trend from watching Ariel—any word that suggested weakness was unacceptable.

When he started to protest, Alexander took a step forward, then surged right into a gallop when Buck did. Desiree hadn’t expect Cane to rush off mid-sentence, but she had been planning to  knock him out of his saddle for his pointless arguments and attempts to talk himself out of trouble. He’d been trespassing in the castle—that was enough of a reason to doubt everything he had to say.

If it was a misunderstanding, Philip could clear him.

Dominick bolted after Desiree, shouting an apology back to Eiji in case any dirt dared to offend his white attire. His main goal was to catch Desiree and draw her back. Following Cane at a gallop might let them catch him, but it would be more prudent to follow at a distance—and Dominick could track him. However, catching her was going to be a problem. Alexander was fast, and Desiree light, not exactly a good combination even if Dominick was no brute like Ariel.


Eiji just rolled his eyes at the apology and turned away to continue on towards home. He saw Matthew on the way, and actually laughed as Matthew asked,
“Did Cane come by here?”

“Yes,” Eiji answered, “With Desiree and Dominick on his heel. I’d suggest grabbing Mael if you want to catch them.” Though at this point, he doubted Mael would do much good. “Problem?”

Matthew’s expression indicated there was, in fact, one.
“Perhaps not,” though he did not sound confident. He should intervene and not let Desiree and Cane have much contact. At this point, though, Cane would likely outrun both Dominick and Desiree and they’d return empty handed. He’d have to lecture them for disobedience, and that would be the end of it. This wouldn’t happen again. “It may work itself out.”

“You’re being annoyingly cryptic again,”
Eiji pointed out, but he didn’t ask further. The public eye was never their friend, “I’ll see you anon. My business for the evening is done.” And Eiji headed on back to his home, leaving Matthew to sort out things at the gate, and yell at Cassius for not locking it down when he realized there was an issue.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 05:50:23 am by Krystal Itzume »

Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2015, 07:13:12 am »
Buck liked to run, and Cane tended to oblige the horse when possible.  At some point age would catch up with them both, but for now he was enjoying the wind in his hair and the hot breath on his back.

Although I suppose there are better ways to get breathed on…

He couldn’t help the smile at the thought, although he knew the possibility of Desiree actually pinning him in a lusty trance were slim to none.  He’d seen her face and noticed her displeasure as they stood together at the gate – not exactly a look of admiration.

Which is why I can’t stay away…

The farmland beyond the gate was dotted with houses and barns.  He didn’t have enough of a lead to dart into, or behind one structure and let the others pass.  A quick glance over his shoulder confirmed he was being followed with Desiree closer and Dominick farther behind.   Cane could lead them on a merry chase through the forest and on to another town – maybe buy them a drink if they made it that far.  He considered what they might discuss, and what his sense of humor could bear.  In the end though, he kept the pace swift and bolted for the trees.  Town visits were out of his way.  He’d be best to lose them here, and get on about his business. 

I’m late getting back to the mill as it is…

Then he remembered he had even less time for fun.  He didn’t even have the stone!  He’d need to retrieve it before journeying on to see his employer. 

One more look over his shoulder and a slow smile formed.  Well, you got what you asked for…she followed you.

The narrow path between the oak and pines of Huron Forest forced him to rein Buck back to a more reasonable canter.  Shadows swallowed him from view.  He knew  the secrets of the forest.  Lived here, although he doubted any knew exactly where.  Certain trees were marked with a triangle and line carving, which cued him to where shortcuts could be had.  He took one such signpost and made a right turn and leave the path.  The trees here were thicker, and the branches low.  He found one he liked and reached for the overhead branch, gripping it tight and pulling himself out of the saddle while Buck raced on. Another leap and he was in an adjacent tree, and further up, shielded by foliage.  Buck would return when called.  All he had to do now was wait and see what the guard did.

« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 10:16:20 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2015, 07:34:54 pm »
Alexander was not pleased as Cane made to rush for the forest. He attempted to hasten his own pace, knowing that the forest held dangers beyond the risk of running into a tree. The Guard of New Carthage tended to go into Huron forest quite a bit to locate the beasts of rumors, but they rarely came back with results.

That, or they never came back at all.

Belladonna caught them when they went into the forest, and Alexander’s own pace had to slow. He huffed in frustration as Cane was able to get out of sight.

Dominick had enough space at that point to bring Belladonna alongside Desiree. He whispered,
“Follow my lead.”

Desiree shot him a glare, clearly not interested in such, but Dominick held the look with one she was all too familiar with. It was the sane option to follow the lead of someone who could track as well as Dominick, and so, she allowed him to take the lead.

He did pause at one point. Dominick had sensed the separation of horse from man, and debated on the route to follow. Would the horse, or would the man, have the object stolen? Matthew clearly wanted Cane arrested, but the object was the thing that interested Dominick.
‘Split up, or…?’ How would he even direct Desiree? ‘And to who?’ She would probably bring Cane back in two pieces, if she could.

He decided it best not to split up, and continued in the direction of Cane.
“Dom?” And he’d stayed still for too long.

“Sorry, this way,” he put Belladonna off the path, since from where it seemed Cane was staying still, he was off path. “Probably going into a trap.” Cane was waiting. Not moving.

The area Dominick paused at wasn’t quite a clearing. It didn’t take him long to look up, considering they were in a forest, but the foliage did prevent him from seeing Cane.
“Are you sure he’s here?” Desiree asked.

“Yes!” Dominick’s insistence caused Belladonna to stamp as she started to circle the area with the guard atop her, still looking up, trying to get different angles that might reveal where, exactly, the thief was.

Desiree crossed her arms, and waited. Dominick was rarely wrong.
‘Matt should have named him Dog.’
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 05:51:08 am by Krystal Itzume »

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2015, 03:46:38 am »

click


Oh don't it hurt deep inside
To see someone do something to her

He’d been too late.  In many ways he’d always carry that burden although nothing that happened at Warston was his fault.

He’d done everything he could to help and the burns on his hands only mirrored the scars on his heart.

He’d searched in vain, and called Desiree’s name fearing the worst.  The charred remains of the house and the body of a little dog offered more clues, but less hope.

“Where did she go Destiny?” Cane had found no solace in Desiree’s sister’s theory.  He’d wrapped the remains of the favored pet in his own coat.  The shiver he gave wasn’t due to the cold.

Oh don't it pain to see someone cry
How especially if that someone is her

When he arrived at the mill he knew again his timing was poor.  Millicent was far too pleased, and a prized possession was gone.

“What did you do?”

The witch stirred a potion, the steam curling her dark hair around her face. “She offered me a trade.  An offer I could not refuse.”

Cane found that hard to believe.  “Where is she?”

“You know her heart’s desire.  She is following her dream.”

And leaving you behind.

The words didn’t need to be said.  He knew all the reasons he was unworthy and worthless. He’d been giving his marching orders months ago, but he still believed he could win her back.  He’d tried his best to be what she wanted, or what he hoped would be good enough, but forces in New Carthage conspired against him.

“Let her go, Cane.” The flicker of the flames bounced off Millicent’s beautiful and ageless face.  She watched as Cane paced.  “No point in following, my dear.  You have duties here which you’ve shirked for months.”

The pad of footsteps alerted Cane to the arrival of another.  Turning to the door, a young girl with blond ringlets launched herself at him.  Her arms wrapped around his leg.  “Cane!  I missed you.  Did you bring me a gift?”  Her hand went to the chain around her neck which she would never know was intended for another. “Something pretty.”

“I’m sorry, Neila.”  He offered an absent pat on her head, thinking how best to disengage himself from  the cloying grip.  He found he had little energy in defeat.

“You smell funny.”  The little girl wrinkled her nose.  “Like burn.”

Millicent’s eyes narrowed as she studied him through the steam of the brew.  “Maybe you should tell me what you did?”

Silence is golden, but my eyes still see

He’d found a way to get to New Carthage.  Her choice to follow in her father’s footsteps would make things difficult, but he didn’t think it impossible until their paths crossed.

And she didn’t recognize him. 

He’d been traveling with the carnival.  Honest work he’d been known to crave from time to time.  His acrobatic prowess was good and his balance superior.  He could walk a high-wire, and pretend to nearly fall without putting himself in danger.  High up he hadn’t expected her to call his name, or cheer, but he made a point of mingling with the audience after the show.

She’d been with Ariel and a few of the other guard.  Matthew’s absence made it easier to approach.  He stood right next to her and offered her some popcorn.  Any hope of a private moment was stolen by the other men there who closed ranks.  Duty took her away and Cane was too shocked by the blank look on her face to follow.

Talking is cheap people follow like sheep
Even though there is nowhere to go

He’d tried again a few months later.  This time he wasn’t intimidated by Matthew’s presence, and only later would reflect on how unconcerned the man was when he’d tried to engage Desiree in conversation.  She’d exchanged pleasantries, but the light in her eye seemed gone.  Matthew’s smirk would remain in his mind for some time.

How could she tell he deceived her so well
Pity she'll be the last one to know

Dominick on the other hand, was cut from a different cloth.  Cane had considered forging a casual friendship with Desiree’s partner in the hopes that proximity might yield interaction.  Oddly enough the few times their paths crossed Desiree was otherwise occupied.  Cane came to believe he would forever be in the wrong place at the wrong time and took to talking to himself on occasion with cursed muttering over his own bad luck.

Now the two were together, or at least he believed so based on his limited ability to track the sound of approaching horses.  He deduced two veering from the path. Cane held his breath in the tree where he crouched in the upper limbs.  Not once did he long for the crossbow in his pack.  He wasn’t a killer.  The thief moniker he could wear, but if he couldn’t eat it, Cane didn’t shoot at it.

He heard her voice.  Had he been a fox his ears would have rotated to better distinguish the sound, but he held his body still.  Two riders in single file passed close to his tree.  Buck was far ahead, and Cane could no longer discern his own horse from the other woodland sounds.  His breathing was almost non-existent, a skill designed for stealth.

As the riders paused he considered a distraction.  A stone thrown to the west might  lead them away – but the truth was he didn’t want them to leave, or at least not completely. Dominick insisted Cane was close.  One side of the thief’s mouth twitched in amusement. 

Desiree did not seem as sure.  He figured he had about two minutes before she took the lead and ordered them back to New Carthage. That of course would never do.  As soundlessly as he could, Cane jumped out of the tree, landing nimbly on the ground not far from the duo.  He stood and raised his hands over his head. 

“I surrender,” he said.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 07:10:50 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2015, 05:31:17 am »
Neither of them were expecting what happened next. Criminals didn’t exactly drop from the sky and give themselves up, but Cane had done just that. He could have remained high above. Odds were in his favor that he’d escape notice. Dominick was capable of climbing, but the second he suggested it, Desiree would have ordered them away.

With his hands raised up, Desiree moved to get off the horse,
“I got the rope,” Dominick said as he reached down into the saddlebags of Belladonna. Rope was something Dominick always tried to keep handy. It was useful in so many situations. “He can ride with me, since his horse seems to be gone.”

Desiree paused, that detail coming back into her mind. This already felt a bit like a set-up. That reminder didn’t make the situation seem any less like one.
“There’s no one else around, is there?”

“No,” Dominick shook his head, “Cane doesn’t seem to have a posse.” He tossed the coiled rope to Desiree, who caught it, “Don’t be rough.” He could tell she was still a bit miffed, likely would be until she could properly exercise that anger out. A spar with Ariel or Matthew would probably suffice.

“Hands behind your back, thief,”
Desiree directed, clearly not feeling like being on a first-name basis with the man.

Dominick continued in that vein, though,
“Where is that horse, Cane?” The horse probably had whatever Cane stole. Except, that didn’t seem right. Cane had wanted to encounter them, must have.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 07:21:22 pm by Krystal Itzume »

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2015, 07:02:13 pm »
Cane would wait to lower his arms until directed.  Dominick suggested some rope.  “That’s not really necessary…”  He wasn’t planning escape, yet, and frankly he’d just get out of the bonds.  It seemed though that tradition would be followed, so he put his hands behind his back and awaited the ‘rough stuff’.  He debated about a flirtatious comment, but opted for silence.  He hadn’t seen Desiree this close in ages.  It amazed him that his heart still did a back-flip.  There had been other women of course, nine years is a long time to deal with rejection, but he suspected his eyes betrayed his longing as he watched her move about.  He couldn’t control the shiver when she touched him.

“Must be the hair,” he mumbled.  Ariel had always loved the hair. 

He looked back at Dominick and tried not to grumble too much while Desiree fastened the ropes.  “I tend to work alone,” he explained.  “As for Buck, well he got his name for a reason.”  Although there was no tell tale dirt on his clothing he’d let the guard assume he’d been thrown. The smirk on his face implied a dare. “He’s probably not too far if you want to try and catch him.”

He eyed Desiree and offered her a wink.  “I’d rather ride with Doll, anyway.  Unless of course Alexander can’t handle it.  He is getting up there in years.”

Alexander snorted, which only made Cane’s smile grow wider.  He needed to get to that saddle bag before they got back to the gate.

Desiree seemed to be in a bad mood.  He figured he had something to do with that, so he decided to continue needling her.  “You look grumpy.  Have you eaten today?”

« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 07:13:05 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2015, 07:20:14 pm »
From this vantage point, Dominick had the advantage if Cane wanted to try anything. He was quick with the knives, after all, but he didn’t really think it would be necessary. Of course, from here, he also got a good indication that Cane likely had a death wish, or else that stupidly optimistic. In nine years, Dominick hadn’t seen Desiree pay much attention to any advances, not from respectable individuals or from the less than respectable.

He stifled a laugh, but the smile came to his lips, as he heard Cane’s comment.

Desiree, fortunately, didn’t. She was preoccupied with trying to make the bonds tight enough that he wouldn’t get out of them. She did hear Dominick when he said,
“I’m good. We don’t need to arrest the horse, as well. I don’t think they count as accomplices. Yet, anyway. Haven’t been able to prove they’re capable of that kind of thought,” though the Beastmasters certainly tried, when they had nothing better to do and a few too many drinks in them. They tried to get truly thoughtful sentences out of the horses.

Ropes done, Desiree put a hand to Cane’s back. He looked her over, winked, and offered a comment. She swallowed down hot rage and with her hand on his back, made to shove him to the ground at Belladonna’s hooves. Whether or not she’d eaten was none of his concern, though Dominick followed it up with a,
“I’ve really only seen you drink today….” He sounded appropriately concerned.

“Get him on the damn horse before I decide to pull him behind Alexander.”


The way Dom's eyes widened let her know that was a bit extreme, but she didn't apologize for it. Maybe it was lack of food, but the thief bothered her more than most, and she couldn't place why. Matthew probably wouldn’t approve of dragging him behind the horse, either, but Matthew be damned. She’d spent enough time the first couple of years dealing with handsy and insulting criminals, she was not about to spare a thought for another in a long line of demeaning jerks. That was how she chose to think of it.

Dominick descended from Belladonna, seeing he wouldn’t be getting Desiree’s help in the task of getting the bound man up on a horse.

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2015, 07:42:34 pm »
"I could cook you something," he offered, the helpmate tone evident.  "Cozy campfire.  Conversation. Nice meal..."

She pushed, and he wasn’t expecting it.  Cane stumbled, sank to his knees and unable to catch himself wound up face down on the dirt.  He sat up slowly and spit out the leaf.  With one shoulder he brushed his mouth.  The air around him seemed to still, but he figured that was more perception than reality.  He rarely got mad, but he was actually rather close to the emotion, although it was likely frustration that purged the smile from his face.

“One of these days,” he said, getting himself to his feet rather than allowing Dominick to help him, “I’m going to blow my way through that armor of yours.”

The words were deliberately chosen, but he doubted she noticed.  A haze a red rimmed his vision and he wasn’t paying much attention to the impact of his phrasing. 

He let out a whistle to summon Buck.

“This is stupid.”  With a flick of his wrists the bonds fell off.  He could pick up the rope and hand it to Dominick, but instead he marched over to Alexander.  He was on the opposite side of the horse to Desiree, but he wasn’t thinking about the consequences as he pulled out the box with the stone.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 07:50:45 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2015, 07:53:20 pm »
Desiree did indeed catch what Cane said, but didn’t understand the choice. Had he said ‘shield’, she might have. The magic she had naturally was not all that powerful. It was also difficult to work with, so she tended to just use it as quick shields or barriers that were often destroyed anyway. She assumed he meant the chains she usually wore underneath her blouses.

Dominick stopped early when Cane got to his feet. A whistle, and when Dominick reached to grab Cane, all he grabbed was rope.
“Des!” Warning, since Cane had turned her way. Alexander was there to shield, but Dominick knew the horse wouldn’t be much use. Not good armor—not for someone who tended to shirk armor in favor of speed and offensive strategies. 

Dominick heard the sound as the sword was unsheathed, proving his own thoughts right. Dominick dropped the rope, not certain what he should do. Cane was likely dead if he did nothing, but he didn’t want to cause undo harm to Desiree, either. In his hesitation, he chose to wait.

Alexander ran the second it heard the sword, but it wasn’t fast enough to escape before Cane grabbed what he sought. It was fast enough to be out of the way when Desiree swung, aiming for Cane’s wrist. She assumed the box was her own in the moment, and that the thief was daring to steal from her. 


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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2015, 08:29:54 pm »
He opened the box.  His caution to take only what he thought to be his likely saved his life.  The magic wind pushed him backwards, but not before Desiree’s blade caught him across the side.  The fabric ripped and his flesh was pierced but he wasn’t sliced in half. Propelled by magic he landed on his rump, slammed into the nearby tree.  Cane wasn’t stunned enough to miss the damage.  His hand went to his side. Wind swirled around him like a tornado, picking up leaves and branches alike.  The barrier bought him a few precious seconds to stumble to his feet. His fingers shook as he closed the box, a smear of blood now dirtying the metal frame. 

For the second time he spit out a leaf.  Years of pent up emotion poured out. “I wouldn’t steal from you!”

Not that it matters.The air churned and swirled again even though the box remained closed. He exhaled sharply. You won’t remember any of this tomorrow.

Cane’s eyes shimmered with unshed tears and he did his best to pull himself together and use words to talk his way clear.  Such was his only hope. A glance at Dom instead of the woman with the blade managed to clear his vision.  “Like I said, this is all a misunderstanding.” 

He took a step back, pride straightening his spine although he was afraid one of them would strike anyway.  He was quick, but he wasn’t sure he could evade thrown knives if he sprinted and ran. The guard wasn’t known to ask questions.  “I’m just a messenger, fetching something for Perceval.”

He knew now that was where he was going.  He couldn’t take this thing to Millicent no matter how much she threatened.  He bit his lip.  Riding was going to be hell.  If he went to the mill, Neila could heal him.  Perceval might not show the same mercy, but it was the right thing to do.

“I’ll be going now,” he croaked out.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 08:37:27 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2015, 09:12:09 pm »
Desiree paused in pursuit at the sight of magic, even as her sword drew blood. Eyelids flickered to bring up the lines, and the source revealed itself as whatever object was in the box. Not hers, then, but still….

Cane shouted out his declaration, but Desiree didn’t believe him. She imagined with such certainty that he would, that perhaps he already had.
“That’s not the point!” He had stolen from Philip, he had stolen from her country, and if that object was it then he was stealing something that not just anyone should have.

She approached, but Dominick put himself in the way, an arm reaching out not to touch, but to bar her path. The name ‘Perceval’ had inspired the movement. Perceval was someone Dominick had immense respect for, and the wizard was a bit…unconventional. He could see Perceval sending a thief to get something he wanted, if he didn’t even want Philip to know it existed.

Besides, those tears weren’t really tears of physical pain. Not that Desiree would see that—not now, probably not later.
“If he’s right, we’ll get in trouble. Let’s go back and tell Matt.” The use of the nickname disrupted Desiree’s single-minded focus, and she turned her head to fix Dominick in her gaze, rather than the thief. The rest of his sentence came into focus, then.

She could ask questions about why Dominick was trusting this liar, but instead, she flicked the blood from her blade and put it back into its sheathe. He had a point. If for some reason Perceval had decided to send this thief, they would be in trouble regardless of their lack of knowledge.
“Fine.” She spat the word and turned on her heel, more annoyed she’d be letting the thief get away than anything.

Well, that, and Alexander wasn’t in sight, so she had to go track down her horse. Sure, she could call out to him, but she didn’t think to do so right then.

Dominick took Belladonna by the reins and walked after Desiree, rather than flaunt the fact his horse was still there.


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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2015, 09:40:14 pm »
He didn’t wait for permission.  Hand clenched against his side, Cane ran off into the trees.  He didn’t waste his breath on muttering the swear words caught in his throat, or the grateful gasp when he saw a Buck.  He simply moved until he was in the saddle and then he let Buck take over.

“Perceval,” he commanded in the horse’s ear as he gathered the reins.  He leaned on the animal’s neck and did his best to stay conscious but knew the battle would be lost.  Before blackness overwhelmed him he slipped the box with the stone under his shirt.  It was probably his imagination that he felt warmth and a pulsing that matched his heartbeat.

The next morning, or was it two mornings later, he awoke in a narrow bed, blinking over the bright sunlight streaming in through the window.  He put a hand to his head and moaned softly.

“Had to stitch your insides back in,” came the rumble of a voice in the chair beside the bed.  “Gonna have a scar.”

Cane chuckled, but it hurt and he moaned before answering.  “Nobody’s perfect.”

“What you doing messing with swordsman?”

“Sword woman.”

“Oh.”  The pause was long before the scrape of a chair seemed to punctuate the word. 

Cane could hear Perceval walking towards the door.  He said, “Millicent wanted the box.”

“You mean the stone?” The wizard liked to be precise. Correcting Cane tended to be a game. “I told you never to touch that.  You got to leave well enough alone.”

Behind closed eyes Cane shook his head.  “I didn’t know what she was after."  He didn't ask for it back.  "What is that thing anyway?”

“Never you mind, Boy.”  Perceval pretended not to notice how Cane clenched his fingers under the nickname.  He’d done the right thing by bringing the stone here, but Perceval struggled with the validation.  Cane would forever be caught in the middle.  Too many secrets to clear the air now.

Perceval hobbled towards the door.  He’d go and fix something up for him to take so Cane wouldn’t be in trouble.  The boy had his uses.  He wouldn’t see him dead.  “Sleep now.  You’ll need to leave when it’s dark.”

Cane sighed.  He let his head roll to the side and he pressed his cheek against the soft pillow and wondered, not for the first time, just where he was supposed to go.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 09:50:02 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2015, 10:17:35 pm »
Six Months Later...

“Weren’t you the one crying out to be paired with Ariel, Dom?”


Dominick was eating his words now, as Desiree was off on some adventure with Matthew, Mael, and Alyssa. Something about pirates, and thus Alyssa was crucial. That left Dominick with the unenviable task of babysitting Ariel, who was set on guard duty on a port town where Matthew expected the pirates would try to run off to.

It was exactly what Dominick expected of the place, and one that was too familiar for Dominick’s liking. He’d met clients here. He could still see the table he used to carve into with his knife, odd designs that came out rather than words.


“More water,”
Dominick said as he sat at the bar, watching Ariel play at arm wrestling with another. He was staying out of trouble, at least. Ariel was good at this sort of gambling, feats of strength and the like—ever since Desiree had joined the guard, he’d gotten much stronger. It was the card and dice games that worried Dominick, and there were plenty of those going on.

“Ha!” Ariel laughed as he pinned his opponent’s hand to the table, “Twenty gold. Pay up.”

The disgruntled man threw the coins on the table with quite a bit of force as he rose, scattering them. Fire threatened to spill from Ariel’s hands when he rose and someone going after one of the coins, but Dominick was quicker. He snapped the coin up and smiled at the would-be thief,
“Sorry, my friend’s,” he said, and held it out to Ariel when the pyromancer approached him.

He didn’t realize he was near a poker table. He didn’t realize who was also sitting there, until Ariel snatched the coin from him and let his eyes rest on the competition.

He smirked and took an empty seat, and laid that coin down on the table.
“Got room for one more?”

Dominick’s nose wrinkled as he turned to view who was at the table Ariel chose to sit at. It took a doubletake, his mind catching hold of the memory of Cane’s face only after he looked over it. Then it settled there.

He gave an intrigued smile, and went to go get his cup of water, though he decided he’d sit much closer to the poker table as Ariel lost all of his ill-gotten gains, and his paycheck.

Ariel didn’t have a poker face.


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2015, 11:20:14 pm »
The ship was late.  Cane wouldn’t have minded so much, except that he’d foregone sleep the night before to make it to town by the designated hour.  He’d needed some food and something to keep him awake while he waited, which was why he’d chosen the inn and its poker game to keep him company.   Ten hands and two bowls of stew later, he had a tidy pile of coins in front of him.

“I’m out.” One of the men said as he pushed his cards towards the center of the table and stood.  “Can’t seem to beat that lucky bastard.”

Cane raked in the coins and tipped his hat to the departing guest.  “Can’t say it hasn’t been a pleasure.”

One of the waitresses came by and collected his empty bowl.  She took orders for another round of drinks and smiled at the half dozen men seated at the table but it was Cane’s shoulders she let feel the trace of her fingers as she walked away.  Cane was watching the sway of her hips as she sashayed to the bar.  He missed the fact that a newcomer took the empty seat at the table.  He’d passed off the cards to shuffle to his neighbor. As such he wasn’t the host of the table.  He might have blinked at Ariel.  Maybe opened his mouth to object, but he closed it again just as fast.

I can behave if you can behave.

The cards were dealt, two down and one up.  Cane didn’t look at the ones that were face down before he placed his bet.  “Twenty.” 

Coins clinked into the middle of the table.  As nonchalantly as he could, Cane let his eyes roam the rest of the bar. He couldn’t help the small frown that crossed his face when he noticed Dominick, but no Desiree.

That was probably just as well when the waitress came back and whispered something in his ear.  A splotch of red lipstick was left on his cheek as another round of cards was dealt.  "What do you think, should we raise or call?"  He smiled at the waitress, knowing full well he wasn't going to take her up on her proposition.  Rowan would be here soon and his hands were already full with that complication.

"I say raise."

"How much?" Cane asked.  He watched while she pushed half his bundle of coins into the table.  But only lifted an eyebrow.  "Confident I see."


« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 11:34:46 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #27 on: March 25, 2015, 06:24:23 am »
Cane had a way with women, besides Desiree. Dominick observed the interaction between Cane and the waitress. It was common for women to flirt for better tips, but this was definitely not just for that purpose.

Ariel looked smug at Cane’s reaction to his arrival, thinking that meant things would go his way. Cane’s lucky streak would be over. The cards were dealt, and Ariel matched Cane’s bet just as confidently, not looking at the down cards either. The waitress brought a round of drinks to the table, and Ariel accepted his new cup of ale to see Dominick roll his eyes.
‘Light weight.’

Already on water. Actually, he wasn’t sure if Dominick had drunk at all that night.

The waitress lingered at Cane. The red of her lipstick stained his cheek, and Ariel lost what bit of humor he might have had at Dominick’s inability to drink. He narrowed his eyes as the waitress made the decision for Cane, and looked down at his own cards. The waitress had walked around him, but couldn’t possibly know what he had, right? He had a decent hand…could Cane have a better one?

Seeing how much Cane chose to raise, one of the men dropped his cards on the table and raised his hands, indicating non-verbally that he was out.

Ariel, of course, matched Cane.
“I’ll take you up on that.” There was still one more round of cards to be dealt to make a hand of five. Ariel was confident, too, and it showed. No need to bluff.

Dominick just put his head in his hand.
‘For god’s sake, Ariel.’ Cane had a larger pile than Ariel to start with. Ariel’s attempt to match Cane was not going to leave him well-off if, in fact, Cane won. Every lucky streak ended, but Dom was certain Cane had an immense amount of luck.

After all, for some reason neither he nor Ariel were arresting him on the spot, when Dominick knew it was their duty to do so. Matthew wanted the thief brought in, alive. 


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #28 on: March 25, 2015, 08:54:22 pm »
“I always get what I want,” the waitress said.  She touched a finger to Cane’s nose in a flirtatious manner.

He almost hated to disappoint her.  She was pretty after all.  He liked blonds with assets, and like most bar wenches in search of tips hers were well displayed.

Ariel took the bet and the next card was dealt.  Cane didn’t much care for the money, but he knew the pot was rather rich.  He broke down and took a look at the hidden cards but kept his face carefully blank.  What was here was found money, earned this day rather than hard saved.  He considered it expendable and wouldn’t mind losing.  Seeing too it was Ariel sitting across the table with a prime view, he considered throwing the game, but a certain amount of pride wouldn’t allow that.  He refused to be afraid of Ariel, though point blank range would make all this rather complicated.

The waitress asked, “Can I bring you a drink, Sugar?”

Cane wished he remembered her name.  “Maybe some coffee.”  She sauntered off, and he hoped she’d find another place to sit when she got back.

His eyes sought out Dominick again.  He wondered if the other man remembered him.  So far he hadn’t run forward to arrest him which was good.  Cane never knew when his reputation could become an issue.  In this town he had some allies.  If pressed he could hide out a couple of places, but he doubted Rowan would want to sleep in a barn.

Cane wished someone was playing music.  The bar had its mellow conversation, but he would have preferred something that buzzed less in his ears.  A band might have distracted the crowd that seemed to gather around the table as the stake of the game rose.  The other players folded, finding the pot a bit too much.  In the end it was just Cane and Ariel.

He chose to look at his cards again, even though the hidden pair of aces was tough to forget, considering he had another showing.  He tapped his finger on the table.

“Check,” he said.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 08:57:53 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #29 on: March 25, 2015, 09:40:33 pm »
Cane at last checked whatever cards he had. There was one Ace up, which was certainly a good card to have, but Ariel was feeling lucky. Two kings were revealed, and if nothing else, that was a good pair. He didn’t care to look at his own face down cards when Cane chose to call out ‘check’, and consider if he might raise or not.

He wasn’t about to fold.
“Check,” he repeated, deciding not to add more to the pot right then. It was already quite substantial, and if on the off chance he lost, he’d have a little more for a second round to win it all back.

It was just the two of them, so there was no one else to raise or fold.
“Show’em, thief.” Ariel purred, clearly content with his assumed victory over the brunette.


Dominick canted his head as he observed all of this. When Cane gave him another look over, he flashed a bright, too-cheery smile at that frown. It was tempting to tell Cane if he wanted him caught, his drink would be poisoned, but then Cane probably wouldn’t drink his coffee…and Dom wasn’t going to poison it. Not right now, anyway. Ariel was probably the one he’d have to poison, and doing it via drink would be a miracle.

By the time he needed to poison Ariel, the man would be beyond drinking. There’d be fire in the air.

Ariel really needed to learn what ‘middle ground’ was.