Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 02:11 AM (GMT)
It was around the dinner hour when Cuinn walked into the rickety tavern-- rickety because its floors creaked, its chairs splintered, and its tables wobbled. The place barely seemed to be standing at times, leaning heavily to the right, as one could easily see from the outside, but the food was good for refugees' food. The drink wasn't the sort to make a man sick. Better yet, the gambling there was good, and Cuinn Mason loved to gamble.
He was the first to arrive out of the group he was planning to meet. He had just finished his last bit of guard duty, but he had taken the time necessary to clothe himself in garments more appropriate for the quarter before heading to this place. He had also taken the time to gather a good bit of coin before departing for his destination- coin that he definitely hadn't earned by working for the military, but coin that belonged to him no less.
His entrance into the tavern resulted in a few hearty greetings and a couple waves from him to acquaintances whose eyes he immediately found in the growing crowds. As he entered, walking down an aisle in with tables on both sides, he stopped to say a more lengthy hello to someone nearby, a grisly fellow with a thick accent and a worn eye patch. Before long, though, he found his way to a table out of the way of the hurrying ladies with the aprons and spilling tankards and took a seat.
Leaning back into his chair, which threatened to snap under his not-all-that-impressive weight, he surveyed the room for interesting happenings, content to wait a bit for the arrival of his friends but not ruling out the option of finding something to do in the meantime.
"Hadley!" he soon called to a young lady over the crowd, "An ale for your good friend Cuinn, eh?"
She smiled and nodded before scurrying out of sight.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 02:21 AM (GMT)
She'd seen it from outside. It was hard not to see, when the very walls were bowing away from each other, spilling cracks of light on the ground clear across the street. For a while, she'd just sat outside and watched the shadowplay of people moving, hearing their laughter and their stories and the occasional bit of brawling. Then, when the last bit of sun had left and the stars had come out, she stuffed a piece of khar in her mouth, chewing it and pushing it under her tongue. Tiger licked her lips, and smiled.
The last of her coin was in the pockets of the tavernkeeper down the street, and she didn't dare bargain away the jewels entrusted to her by her employers. She might need that for the ride home.
And why bother getting swindled by a jeweler when money was so easy to make?
She entered casually, earning a few looks for the tattoos under her eyes and the pants, but in the hodgepodge of refugees, she wasn't special enough to garner much extra attention. After she'd joined one of the card games and ordered some spirits, the faint attention had faded away like a summer storm, and she was just one of the crowd.
That is, up until she'd won a bit too much money. She'd known it was greedy, and that they would catch on sooner or later, and she'd been torn between the need to stay anonymous and the itch for a fight.
The gambler across from her swept half the cards off the table, standing and digging out a dagger to point at her. "Yer a fucking thief, ya stupid bitch!" he slurred, knocking over a tankard of ale. He was swaying, and for once it wasn't the effect of the khar. Tiger smiled demurely, licking her lips and cocking her head to one side, nonverbally inviting him to further explain his accusations. Instead, he growled and dove across the table at her.
It wasn't a good move on his part. It was too simple to stand and take her drink with her, sidestepping the swipe of his blade and draining the cup.
Then she smashed the glass on his head.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 02:33 AM (GMT)
The sounds of a fight starting up were so familiar to Cuinn that they might as well have been a lullaby from his childhood. The thing was, Cuinn's bitch of a mother hadn't been one to sing lullabies, and the familiarity of fight sounds came with a sort of muscle memory that had him rising from his seat before he properly realized what was happening nearby.
Now, it is important not to think that Cuinn had a propensity for sticking his nose into other peoples' business. That wasn't what convinced him to step forward with such deliberate strides and approach the table at which the woman with her harsh looks and the frustrated gambler were having their little issue. The motivation behind his apparent decision to get involved in some capacity was the fact that he happened to know the owner of this tavern quite well and didn't want to allow anyone's rowdy behavior to reflect poorly on the sad excuse for an establishment.
. . . let's ignore the fact that Cuinn had broken his fair share of furniture belonging to this very tavern in drunken fights in the past.
As soon as he got close enough to get a good look at the bastard that fearsome lady-person had apparently broken a good drink's vessel on, he looked to her with no amount of humor in his expression and an unusual amount of composure and said firmly, "It's time for you t' go."
He wasn't looking to participate in the fight, and most people here knew better than to throw a punch at him even if he was. He meant only to do exactly what he was doing- encourage that lady to get the hell out, then deal with the idiot that had probably started this mess.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 02:40 AM (GMT)
The man's two gambling buddies had stood and were turning towards her threateningly, although they did not have the decisive movements of a warrior, and were more focused on looking at her menacingly than acting. She watched them with a distracted gaze, the khar sharpening her senses into the elsewhere of the world. She heard the sense of purpose behind her, and half-turned to see the man arrive.
She heard him tell her that it was time to go. She turned towards him fully, then, her black eyes haunted above those striking tattoos. Then she smiled, slow and wide, and if not for the animalistic spark in her gaze, she might have been beautiful instead of terrifying.
One of the gamblers cursed and dug his own dagger out. "Cuinn, you best do somethin' about her, lookit her, she's clearly crazy," he began.
He might have said something else if she hadn't kicked him in the throat. He fell mid-sentence, clutching at his neck and gasping for air. Tiger ran her tongue over her teeth with a grin, then turned to Cuinn with a laugh, her eyes lighting up like a child's on her birthday. The other gambler came from behind and wrapped his arm around her neck, and she grabbed his elbow and slammed her weight forward, flipping him over her shoulder and sending him straight into Cuinn.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 02:48 AM (GMT)
Well that was an invitation into a physical altercation if Cuinn had ever received one, and he most certainly had.
Cuinn was barely able to move before that guy came his way, and he wasn't able to get out of the way completely. His upper body leaned to the side, but his legs barely moved. The momentarily airborne body hit his shoulder before falling into his leg, throwing him off balance but failing to knock him down.
Then came the greater issue.
Cuinn was done trying to solve this in a vaguely civilized manner, but unfortunately he wasn't one for happily hitting women, even the vicious ones. Thankfully, he wasn't a complete idiot and had no intention of trying to restrain this lady from behind. While that might have worked on Little Ari, who was small and timid in a way, he gave this woman enough credit to make him think twice about attempting that with her. He knew how to get out of that kind of hold, and he knew how to do it by relocating a guy's nose to the side of his head in the process. He didn't want to be the guy with the relocated nose.
He came at her from the front, hoping she'd try to hit him as he reached to get a hold of her arms.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 02:50 AM (GMT)
He reached for her arms, and she looked up at him and held them out, allowing him to grip her wrists. Then she gripped his in return, and pulled him down hard so she could slam her head into his nose.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 02:57 AM (GMT)
It was that momentary hope of avoiding a busted nose from a moment ago that sparked an immediate reaction when he felt her pull on him. This move of hers wasn't any one he knew, but he knew to pull back on her enough to lessen the momentum and lean back.
Unable to shake her grip on him, he loosened his hold on her and raised a knee, aiming to get a good hit to her abdomen and knock a bit of wind out of her if he was lucky, being careful not to compromise his own balance.
That wasn't nice. That wasn't something to even consider doing to a woman, but this one was hardly a lady. This one would cripple him if she got the opportunity. It was becoming clearer by the second.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 03:00 AM (GMT)
She felt his balance shift through her grip on his arms, and released him, stepping back in time to avoid the knee to her abdomen. Being a merc for so many years hadn't left her soft, though. It had made her keen on every possible advantage in any fight. It had made her quite the opportunist.
And she was a Finder. That helped, when the thing she wanted most was a debilitating move for an opponent.
She gripped his leg behind the knee when it was high enough, and hauled upwards, trying to flip him onto his back. That was a good position for any man -- provided she was feeling generous.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 03:05 AM (GMT)
That was not something Cuinn expected from her. That was not something he would have thought a woman would be capable of, even with his progressive thoughts on the strength of the fairer sex.
His attempt to keep his weight forward didn't serve him too well. Her move sent him backward, falling into another man and eventually onto the floor.
That grisly fellow he had spoken to earlier was making his way over as Cuinn immediately started to rise, expecting the woman with the dark eyes to attempt to take advantage of his compromised state.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 03:06 AM (GMT)
She tackled him back to the ground, hands on his elbows and her her legs hooked over her thighs to keep him from kicking. Instead of bashing his face in, though, she leaned forward and stuck her nose against his jugular, inhaling deeply.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 03:30 AM (GMT)
Cuinn was really considering giving her a good headbutt, finding that her attempts at restraining him were thoroughly frustrating. He could have used his superior strength against her. He could have tried to break her even, but there was that thought of, "She's a woman," that acted like one hell of a pair of shackles in his mind. It made him hate himself as much as it made him hate her.
But he didn't have a lot of time to consider how badly he wanted to hurt her just so he wouldn't feel weak. Soon he found himself going still, feeling her skin pressing against the side of his neck of all places. As she inhaled the scent of him, he breathed heavily and tried to turn his head toward hers, curiosity taking him, delaying him.
What the hell was she doing?
Not liking the position, knowing people were around, he soon pushed one foot against the floor, bent his arms to grip hers and tried to get her with her back on the floor. . . without hurting her.
A challenge, for certain.
The grisly man reached the pair, his one visible eye looking angry, but he hesitated to interfere.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 03:32 AM (GMT)
She growled deep in her throat and gripped his elbows, then slammed them into the floor as a warning against what she knew he was planning to do. Simultaneously, her hips ground into his, and she leaned back up to survey him, tongue running over her teeth again.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 03:54 AM (GMT)
Woah-kay. . .
Cuinn's brows shot upward as he felt notable friction in an unexpected place. It made him struggle against the grip this crazy woman had on him, but he was hesitant. He didn't want to hurt her. He didn't want to fight too hard, especially because she wasn't really doing anything to him.
She was just . . . sitting on him and looking at him in a way that made him immensely uncomfortable.
He had to acknowledge in the safety of his mind that she might have been attractive, and this might have pleased him in a way, if it wasn't for that unsettling darkness beneath her eyes and the way she disarmed him without really doing anything he couldn't physically handle.
People were beginning to stare. They didn't seem to know what to do, but all Cuinn did for the time being was roughly order the woman to, "Get off."
He didn't think he could reconsider hurting her while she was just watching him.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 03:56 AM (GMT)
She cocked her head at his words. Her Escovan was rough, and her eyes narrowed a bit as she deciphered it. When she did, she laughed, and then leaned forward until she was more in his face. When she spoke, her accent was heavy, even as she whispered, "I'm trying."
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 03:58 AM (GMT)
Cuinn clenched his jaw, hating that he understood her accented words and their meaning. Then, without much warning, he pressed his hands against the floor and began to push himself up with a hell of a lot more force than he had used previously. He wasn't going to try to get her on her back, but as soon as he felt his right arm coming up a bit, he moved to push against her and get her off of himself.
That was the grisly man's cue to approach her from her left side and try to pull her off Cuinn.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:02 AM (GMT)
She let him rise, and let the other man pick her off of him, laughing. Tiger was aware that she made some men uncomfortable; it didn't really bother her these days. It was just another way to disarm a person, and she very much enjoyed disarming people.
Someone fumbled at her belt, trying to get the large blade slung from her hips away from her.
She twisted and aimed a kick at that rat's knee, looking satisfied when he howled with pain and dropped to the floor clutching his leg. Nobody took things off of her until she was dead.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:05 AM (GMT)
As soon as Cuinn found himself balanced on his feet, he moved to grab the woman's arm. Having had more than enough of his, he meant to pull her right out of this place and make sure she stayed out-- no more being gentle. No more trying not to muscle his way around with a woman. She had to go.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:07 AM (GMT)
And suddenly, she was little more than a pussycat, allowing herself to be led around by the wrist. As she was moved none-too-gently towards the door, she winked at a barmaid, who turned white as a sheet and stumbled back, away from her.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:09 AM (GMT)
Cuinn wasn't going to question the change. He wasn't going to ask himself if he should be concerned that the woman wasn't fighting back. Maybe she had just smartened up a little and realized whatever problem she'd caused wasn't enough to get into any real trouble for.
Still, he committed himself to being more assertive about his dealing with her. His grip on her was bruising, and it remained that way until he passed through the door with her and pushed her roughly out onto the street, following her out.
Having released her with his push, he stated bluntly, "Don't come back here."
He really didn't want to risk running into her again every time he had to drop by the place . . .
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:11 AM (GMT)
She was pushed into the night air, and she inhaled it deeply, looking up at the stars. The constellations were all wrong, here.
Slowly, she turned back to the man, a smug smile on her face.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:15 AM (GMT)
"What?" he barked.
She was really strange, and part of him wanted to know why. Part of him was intrigued, but a bigger part of him was starting to hate those eyes of hers-- those eyes that made her harsh instead of pretty. Those eyes that mocked him and his inability to think that a woman could be a monster.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:17 AM (GMT)
She held up a coin purse, and jangled it a bit. "Just wanted to -- oh, how do you say...?" She grinned. "Thank you. Yes." Then, confident in her own abilities to put this man flat on his ass if he chased her, she put the little bag in her pocket and turned to stroll away.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:20 AM (GMT)
No way had she earned that. No way did Cuinn want to let her have it.
"Stop," he barked, low and tense as he began to follow her, expecting her not to stop.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:21 AM (GMT)
"No," she said, flatly and with a slight shrug of her shoulders.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:22 AM (GMT)
Cuinn reached out to take one of her arms again and pull her around to face him.
If she wouldn't stop on her own, he'd just have to make her.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:22 AM (GMT)
She let him, and with that momentum, she slammed her fist into his face.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:28 AM (GMT)
He expected it. He did because it was so damn predictable and easy, but he didn't prepare for it. Her fist hit him a lot harder than he would have expected, though he had survived much worse. The hit was enough to knock him back a little and threaten his balance, but he didn't let her go.
Instead, with his eyes barely managing to open as pain flooded his entire face, he twisted her arm to get it behind her and used both hands to adjust his grip and try to push upward enough to pain her.
"Ugh, you bitch," he growled as he started to feel a trickle of blood in his nose.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:30 AM (GMT)
She gasped softly in delight at the pain. Pain always mingled with khar so pleasantly. "Yes," she breathed. "More."
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:35 AM (GMT)
Keeping her arm pinned to her back with one hand, he tried his best to ignore what she was saying and grabbed her other arm, pulling it back to mirror the other's position. Once he felt pretty good about his control on her arms, he gave a solid kick to the back of her left knee, hoping to get her off her feet. . .
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:37 AM (GMT)
She sagged, gasping with pain and arousal when her shoulders protested carrying all her weight in such a manner.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:40 AM (GMT)
He had to get a lot closer than he would have liked as he leaned forward and reached for the coin purse she had showed him. Trying to be somewhat cautious, he made sure he didn't put his face anywhere near her head, which she apparently liked to use to hurt people. Unfortunately, he didn't trust that would keep him safe. The blood that started trickling slowly out of his nose as his face throbbed angrily was a solid reminder that he needed not to take her sudden lack of hostility as too much of a gift.
Not liking what he was hearing from her, he didn't say a word.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:42 AM (GMT)
He had to know better than to think he could hold both of her arms with one hand. Smiling serenely, she wrenched both her hands outwards to break his grip, falling to her knees and trying to jam an elbow into his junk.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:45 AM (GMT)
Now that Cuinn was almost always ready to protect.
He quickly jumped backward, having failed to get a good hold on that coin purse.
"What kind of crazy are you?" he asked angrily and loudly not making an immediate move to get after her again. He even took a second to wipe away the rivulet of blood above his lip.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:46 AM (GMT)
She chuckled, tossing her hair over her shoulder and looking at him. "You're the one who expects to subdue me one-handed," she said, her accent making each word harsh, almost a curse. "I would say that, that is pretty crazy."
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:48 AM (GMT)
"What, you want me t' hit you like you're some big drunkard?" he asked, seemingly offended. "Ain't happening."
. . . maybe that made him stupid, but it wasn't happening. He could beat a man half to death for a simple reason, but he wouldn't do that to her unless he had no other choice. He definitely wouldn't do it on a whim in a street like this.
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:50 AM (GMT)
She stood, stretching her shoulders lazily. "You would, if you cared enough about this coin purse you helped me walk out of there with." If he hadn't taken her and escorted her to the door with that mean look of his, someone would have surely tried to say something.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:52 AM (GMT)
"Well I'd hate for you t' enjoy the beating too much," he explained with a huff, shrugging. "I don't much like putting my hands all over girls like you."
He really wasn't sure what to do. . .
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:53 AM (GMT)
"Mm. You are very pretty, and almost good enough when angry," she murmured, a bit regretfully. "It is too bad your mind is weak, or you might be worth my time." She pursed her lips and blew him a kiss, then turned away to leave again.
Cuinn Mason - August 8, 2011 04:57 AM (GMT)
He couldn't just let it go. As he started to walk after her, he insisted, "I'd have t' be twenty kinds of stupid t' beat the hell out've you in front of a bunch of people. That's a fact. I'd have a weak mind if I figured that was a good idea!"
Dumb, crazy broad . . .
Tiger - August 8, 2011 04:57 AM (GMT)
She wasn't really that interested, but she managed a lazy, "Why?"