Title: Last supper
Drake - April 4, 2012 01:32 PM (GMT)
In the busy marketplace of Dal'ib, gossip and feared milled round after the sudden revelation about Duke Eadgar Nast; who many still thought warily as a demon, despite his attempts to rule Aknatar according to his mainland standards, and his engagement to the daughter of a prominent family. The revelation that the man was not real, and was a disguise for someone worse. The general atmosphere was a tense one, but what was to be expected when the Aknatari discovered that their Duke was a mass murderer and regicide.
In the corner of a restaurant that was busier due to everyone wanting to congregate and talk about the inevitable, a man sat alone. In front of him was a bowl of stew and flat bread, and a large beaker of water. The man was mainly occupied by the food, but looked up occassionally to watch the people of Dal'ib with a certain disinterest. He hardly stood out, and most ignored him. He was dressed in a baggy tunic and trousers that would fit in anywhere, and a scarf that covered most of his head - although while he ate, it was pushed away from his face, revealing not the darker features of Aknatar, but a slightly sunburnt Targan. Not that anyone placed him as a Targan, most people that knew of him assumed he was from Tetel'ac.
The man continued to eat, caught up in his own thoughts on the matter of the Duke. Bloody Balaric de Jure. He wanted to kick himself. It explained so much. Why the Duke was such a fierce warrior, and why a certain mouse had access to the Duke's house.
Drake had thought to find work here. Indeed, he was still drawn by the electricity in the air, the promise of violence and turbulence that often meant lots of work for a man like him. But with Balaric de Jure as the Duke... Drake had wanted to see if the Duke required his skills, but had been put off by the mere hint of De Jure being in Aknatar. Now after this revelation, he was very well tempted to scurry back to the mainland and leave Aknatar and all it's problems well alone.
Drake was not a coward, not by a long shot. But he had a history hunting De Jure's, and he did not want to go up against this infamous warrior.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - April 25, 2012 04:55 PM (GMT)
Ghalib sat quietly amoung a few of his friends a brothers-in-crime. Two hands cupped a bowl-like vessel of broth as though he needed the warmth and his dark eyes beneath the keffiyeh he wore were settled dispiritedly upon the man sitting across from him. There were five at this round table meant for four, and as the men spoke, they leaned forward and their shoulders touched. Their topic, like everyone else's was the news - released only yesterday - of the duke.
"I knew it!" one swore, speaking the native language like they all did. "I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! I could have told you the day he marched in here - that man was just not right!"
"Quiet!" another said, laughing, "You were just as fooled as the rest of us. A foreigner, we knew! Sure! But no one would have guessed he was the Butcher!"
In fact, most of them hadn't even know that the Balaric de Jure was the Butcher. If it hadn't been for Ghalib enlightening them all of this correlation, the topic today might have only been why a duke would come under a false name in the first place. But no Raised with knowledge of the world around him Ghalib had been told of the neighboring Tetel'ac's version of war crimes and practices. It had been, in some ways, preparation for his legacy as a warrior - that he should now the tactics of the foreigners and the dishonor they engaged in. But those plans hadn't really panned out all that well for Ghalib.
All the information ended up being good for was to tell his buddies. And now that that was over, all he could do was sit and listen.
"Ah, the butcher in't so bad![i] someone said. "[i]I bet it is all just a load of talk. You know - that's how most of these warrior types are! Talk up a storm in hopes that you don't have to do damned thing when you get to the field. Look what he's done so far! A little skirmish outside the city. A few guards walking the streets. The people here [i]let him take Dal'ib![/i]"
"Yeah," another agreed, nodding his head thoughtfully. "I'd say doubtless the Mu'awiyah were raising up a rally - Oh, wait, no! That's a wedding party!"
Drake - April 25, 2012 05:27 PM (GMT)
More people entered the establishment, and Drake looked up as a couple came hopefully towards his table, smiles on their faces, and their Aknatari swift and polite as they asked to share. Drake thought about it for a moment. It would look less suspicious if he appeared to be part of a group. But truthfully he couldn't stand the idea of them attempting conversation, and there was surely no one in this place that he had to actually fear.
He scowled silently up at the couple, well practised at appearing hostile and unwelcoming. And his efforts paid off as the two people quickly muttered an apology and left. Drake shook his head and returned his attention to his sparse meal.
The next table over from him drifted in and out of his attention, as the gaggle of mean jostled to speak and be heard amongst his friends. They were talking loudly about the same topic as the rest of Dal'ib, with the same air of doubt about what this meant, Drake noted. He inwardly sighed. He knew what it meant, trouble. And for once he was going to head in the opposite direction.
'Ah, the butcher in't so bad!'
At hearing such a ludicrous comment, the semi-eavesdropping Drake snorted.
He muttered in common, quite confident that no one in this coarse place would be educated enough to understand, even if he was overheard.
He sighed and pushed his now empty bowl away, then relaxed back against the high back of his seat, drawing his mug of water to him. Water wasn't his regular accompaniment for a meal, ale was a much more popular drink when he was in Tetel'ac. But he had quickly learnt to treat anything Aknatar called alcohol with great wariness, it felt like a hot poker going down the throat, and did terrible things to his head.
Drake could not believe that any man could doubt the ability of the Butcher.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - April 25, 2012 10:18 PM (GMT)
Ghalib had no interest in coaching his peers through their private conversation. In a loud, impersonal food stall couldn't they speak as they pleased? The duke wasn't hiding somewhere here, after all, and as far as anyone knew the duke wasn't sending men out to spy and make an example of anyone in dissent. Men needed a place to bitch and moan. If they couldn't, they started uprising and burning things and, despite Ghalib's anti-Tetel'ac sentiments, he just didn't have all that much affinity for mass scale anarchy. It was great in small bits, sure - rob a little here, plunder a little there, speak out against the duke a bit... But not en masse. It was just too much.
He had noticed, after sitting down, that the people neighboring their table included, to his left, a man who sat alone. This was strange because, frankly, he was the only person in the little establishment all alone. No, not every table was possessed by entirely homogenous group of friends. In fact, many of the tables held the collective groups of men who had come alone or in a very small group and who had, in the conspiratorial atmosphere, willingly sprung together.
Except that man.
The fellow had caught Ghalibs attention because of this and through subtle, slow glances, Ghalib had begun to stitch together a picture of him. He wore simple dress and a headscarf, but the features revealed did not suggest that he was an Aknatari. In fact, he looked more like a man from Fexlund.
And then it occurred to Ghalib that perhaps this was exactly the sort of spy he had been thinking about earlier. The sort who would make a show of punishing an outspoken voice. He looked soldierly enough...
Still cupping the broth in his hands, the bowl in his palms on the table, he had been listening silent still to his comrades when the sOldier made a move and said something in common.
Well, not /something/. Ghalib had heard and understood perfectly well what the man had said, but found himself at a loss for what to make of it.
Shutting his men up might cause a problem. But continuing to speak like this around a de Jure sympathizer wouldn't go well either.
So Ghalib only turned his eyes the soldier's way, giving a steady and clear look. It was just fortunate that the men had come armed only with knives hidden in boots and sashes rather than scimitars one might mistaken as, you know, threatening.
Drake - April 26, 2012 06:47 AM (GMT)
Drake listened to dribs and drabs of different conversations that rose up around him. Most were repetitive and conveying disbelief. Some were brash and nearly offensive. But there was nothing worth hearing. Doubtless there was a spy in here that would report any real threat from this gathering, just as there was likely spies situated throughtout Dal'ib assessing the mood of the village after the little revelation. The Duke would be a fool to do otherwise - it was what Drake would do in his place.
Drake smirked at this final thought, Drake had often scorned what the nobles did, as he saw clearly and logically what they should do, from an aggressive, assasins view of things. But he had a grudging respect for the warrior once known as the Butcher, he was unlikely to be a fool. And Drake felt again the desire to test himself against him...
But that thread of pride had to be put aside, it was too much of a risk. He sighed and glanced about the room, trying to spot the spy in the particular establishment. There were a few candidates, one that remained quiet and still, busy taking in everything around them. A couple of guys sat in solitude like him. Plus one that sat silent in the midst of a noisy group. Drake wondered with a professional curiosity which it would be.
And then his eyes were caught by someone staring at him. Drake frowned, looking back at the man, assessing him professionally. Similar in age to himself, the dark skin of any Aknatari. But his features did not look common, they looked as though he'd been well-born, even if he stood now in plain clothes and in the company of men that were indeed common. Drake looked about the men quickly - none of them carried any similarity to the other one, so no relations then. His eyes returned to the man, despite the baggy and shapeless clothes, Drake saw the corded muscles a his collar, and predicted that the rest of him was in fighting condition. There was no sign of weaponry, but Drake would be surprised if there wasn't something hidden on him. Not a scimitar - that was impossible to hide, but definately a knife somewhere.
If Drake had to place him, it would be as a warrior from one of the tribes. But that did not seem to fit easily, the man appeared uninjured, despite the recent battle that had rallied most of Aknatar against the invading Duke. Humph. Drake would remain wary, but at the end of the day, what could this man do to him.
Drake snapped in Aknatari, having had enough of the childish staring.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - April 26, 2012 08:47 PM (GMT)
One man at Ghalibs table kept talking, but he, too, shut up when he realized that his audience's attention had been stolen away. The hostile, cutting tone of Drake's voice had made them tense, and they had looked first to Ghalib before following his line if sight to the stocky man nearby. Already the hum of suspense settled upon the table. One wrong word, one wrong gesture probably could have set the men on fire. It was just one of those days among those sorts if guys.
Ghalib could feel this, but rather than back down to avoid confrontation, he attempted to stay engaged with the foreigner the least threatening way he could present. Hardly moving his body, keeping his hands cupped under the cooling broth, Ghalib addressed the rude fellow in calm Aknatari.
"Enlighten us. What do you know of this 'Butcher?' What have you heard -" his eyes dropped momentarily as he remembered that the man might be from Fexlund, "- Or seen?" it was hard to judge the possible-spy's age. Anywhere from Ghalibs own age to quite a few years his senior seemed the best guess though. Maybe he hadn't seen the butcher himself...but maybe he'd seen some aftermath.
Whatever it was he'd seen or known, it had caused him to disagree with the sentiment that the Butcher was any less than he made himself out to be.
And while Ghalib wouldn't say it, he had many reasons for being concerned about this new dukes character.
Drake - April 27, 2012 09:27 PM (GMT)
((ooc: I apologise for Drake being so happy and chatty, you caught him on a good day. I promise he will be more surly next time!))
Drake glanced again about the table of men, noting the sudden tension that ran through them. He wondered what on earth pissed them all off so swiftly, and why most people he came across often had mood swings and got short-tempered. Obviously he wasn't the common factor.
As a matter of professional nature, he took in those that kept their cool, and those with hands twitching nearer their hidden knives. He looked over the soft points where one could kill or inflict pain enough to distract, and which of the group would be the hardest to take down.
Not that he actually planned on killing anyone tonight, despite his bloody job, Drake rarely killed unless he was paid handsomely for it. He left the innocents alone. But that did not stop him from assessing the worst case scenario repeatedly through every day and it was a sorry thing to admit that he had thought how he would kill every new person he met.
But back to the man that now calmly requested his insight. Drake raised a brow questioningly. Well if they didn't already think the Butcher dangerous, nothing he could say would change that. But the normally terse and silent Drake opened up on this one subject, his disbelief at their ignorance (or arrogance if they already knew the stories), fueling the words that poured out.
"What do I know? Have you not heard about the Butcher? That once he proved himself in combat and strategy and became one of the King's elite knights? That he is trained as a Blademaster? That I have heard three official counts of his death, and yet still he lives?"
His voice was rough from disuse, and by the end of his little grumbling outburst, his throat dry and coarse. Drake drank what was left of his water, putting the cup down on the table and looking again to these men that would think their Duke not dangerous.
"In battle and in brain this man defies powerful enemies - and has done so long before coming here. You'd have to be a bloody fool to cross him."
Drake's gaze unfocussed, as he thought again of his decision to be sensible and get out of Aknatar. It was still sorely tempting to test himself and be a fool.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - April 28, 2012 01:04 PM (GMT)
Ghalib's expression held some suspicion as the gruff-voiced man started talking about the man's myths. Blademaster, whatever exactly that meant - it wasn't an aknatari thing - a proven warrior and strategist, and the sort of guy who apparently just didn't die. But whoever had heard of the butcher had heard these tales before. It wasn't whether he had any good stories about him that the boys were wondering, it was whether they had any merit. Anyone could make up something about themselves, afterall.
"Yes, we have heard the stories." Ghalib said, bowing his head slightly to give the foreigner a more candid look. "But everyone has lore. We want truth! What has he done, really? What sort of man is he? Do you know? ... How long have you served under him?"
Ah, yes, the deadly suggestion that Drake was in fact a foreign soldier under the commission of the duke. It was said in a lowered voice so as to not yet stir up the entire establishment. But the subtle accusation was there, to be disputed or accepted.
Drake - April 30, 2012 09:48 PM (GMT)
Drake shrugged as the other guy dismissed his words as mere stories. Fine. Drake had already known that he wouldn't be very convincing if the men had already formed opinions. But it was still a little galling to think that anyone would assume Drake a peddlar of idle gossip.
He sighed as the man questioned him and pressed for "truth". What truth and proof did this man think Drake had hidden on him at this moment, he wasn't about to pull out a signed and sealed declaration of all the Butcher's sins and achievements.
But it was the last, quiet, question that made Drake snort.
He repeated, grim amusement in his barest of smiles.
"Never done that."
He admitted. Drake paused, looking down at his attire. Nope, it was still scruffy old him, no soldier in a clean and fitted uniform. Although Drake had dressed in such when the occassion called for it, and he supposed that once upon a time he had been a soldier in the Targan army. But too many years ago to matter anymore. And definately not enough to make him look like a soldier now.
Drake sighed, he was swiftly getting bored of these people. He'd eaten his meagre food and finished his drink. There was nothing more for him to gain, only to lose his patience talking with these Aknatari. What could he tell them? That Balaric de Jure was dangerous enough to make a respected assassin think twice?
Drake got to his feet and rumaged through his baggy tunic until he found his purse, pulling out a couple of coins and dropping them to the table. What could he advise them on what type of man De Jure was? Probably nothing. But then again, they could always ask his daughter. It was almost satisfying, the idea of giving these men the name and description of that little witch that had attacked and double-crossed him. But as quickly as the idea spawned, it faded; Drake still felt a sense of duty and protection to his healer.
Drake blinked out of his reverie, having stood there silently for all of ten seconds.
"Stay clear of him, and don't incite his anger."
Drake eventually said, knowing in his gut that these men wouldn't heed his advice. He'd not given them any proof. But maybe they were all cowards enough to be all mouth and no balls. They'd go home after this exciting day and get on with their lives.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 1, 2012 03:54 AM (GMT)
Not every soldier was well off and well accounted for. There were plenty of poor folks tramping along, filling out armies in their bare feet and tattered rags. As long as they could swing a weapon and obey commands they wee good enough. All Ghalib needed to see was that this guy was built broad and strong and had the face of a foreigner. Given the circumstances, "soldier" was as good a guess as any.
Besides, even if he had had doubts, at least now he had some sort f jumping off point. Yeah, anyone could deny being a soldier or a spy, but the fact that he seemed so eager to go - rather than stay and listen r further convince them of the Butcher's horror stories spoke something frank to Ghalib.
The men at Ghalib's table smirked and gave a small laugh, mumbling to themselves some more uncertainties about de Jure's formidable legend, but Ghalib kept his eyes on the man who had stood and begun to shell out the price for his meal.
Ghalib, to was quiet. A quiet that responded too and echoed Drake's own, following after his last scrap of advice. He was analyzing the guy, trying to think of some other reason and listing the possibilities in his head. Mercenary? Escaped slave? He didn't seem entirely peasant, but he certainly didn't seem noble...
...but then, look who was talking!
"So what are you, then?"
Best, after all, to start with just straight-up asking.
Drake - May 1, 2012 06:01 AM (GMT)
A boy dashed forward to claim the coins and clear away the empty bowl and mug, then hurried off. Drake remained still and silent as the miniature human did so - he had no patience for kids, and did nothing to encourage them.
After the serving boy had left, and it was Drake's turn to leave, the Aknatari spoke again, making him pause. Now what could he say to that? He could lie outright and claim to be a trader. But he didn't look or act like any trader he knew. He could be honest and say that he was a mercenary, or more accurately an assassin. But there were ears all round them - they may not be listening intently, but anyone's attention might be caught by the mention of an assassin. And that could only lead to trouble. Drake supposed that he could give his name - his calling card for those in the know. But looking at this group of Aknatari, they were of the warrior mould, but didn't look as if they'd particularly know a vague reference to a Targan assassin. No, but they were probably men who had heard stories, particularly those that manifested in their own country.
He finally said, repeating the title he had been given to him after a little scuffle in the desert months ago. Drake had been the nameless man in a story of one person with flashing knives appearing in a sandstorm to fend off a dozen raiders and save a travelling tribe, only to vanish as quickly. Drake hadn't meant to be a hero, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and got dragged into the trouble. He half wished he'd turned his back on that particular tribe, it had only led to a little blonde witch stealing his horse...
Drake broke out of his thoughts on the matter and without another word, walked out of the establishment, pulling his head scarf back up to obscure his foreign features.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 1, 2012 11:33 PM (GMT)
Now Aknatar was a pretty big place and a lot of it was empty. Yes, there were a lot of people, but not enough to avoid some rather blatant "bald spots" - great expanses of land where no one lived and very few travelled. That meant that sometimes, stories just didn't travel. At least, not quickly. Some people - many people - would probably not have known "Dune Stalker." But Ghalib had been there. He had been a few days behind that victimized tribe, planning on victimizing them, himself, when the news had travelled back to him on the tongues of spies. Their news had mentioned the man who had singlehandedly put up one helluva fight. Eventually he'd gotten a name. That name. Ghalib had forgotten all about that.
If one was to believe that the Dune Stalker would call himself by his celebrity name, then the information Ghalib had just gotten about the Butcher had been delivered by a man who had quite a reputation of his own. So did that make it more believable or less?
It didn't matter, he obviously had no idea of staying around. So what was the question now?
To follow? Or not to follow?
Ghalib's eyes followed the man as far as he could see before turning his eyes to the bowl in his hands. He rocked his palms slowly, letting the liquid swirl slowly as he thought. He was interested in the man. He wanted to know more - to know if he really was the dune stalker and if so, why he, a foreigner, had fought so intensely for a tribe that deserved plundering. Why he had been with them in the first place.
"Stay. Talk. " he ordered his companions before standing slowly, his bowl staying in one hand, balanced as he stood and headed slowly I'm the direction the foreigner had. If he was out there, he told himself, he would pursue his curiosities. But if the guy was lost, that would be the end of it.
Aalaam's will be done.
Drake - May 8, 2012 09:03 AM (GMT)
Drake wasn't a boastful guy, not really. He didn't spare enough words to be so. But he was very proud of his skills, and his reputation that had taken years to build. It made it so much easier to acquire jobs and negotiate good prices if he only had to mention his name (or in this case one of the stories assigned to him).
But right now, he privately wondered why he had even bothered impressing those Aknatari. They were mere strangers that would have no play in his life. Bah, maybe he was just riled by their stupidity concerning the Butcher.
Drake walked out into the quietening village. Dusk was starting to fall, but the heat of the day still clung to the air. But the temperature would soon drop, he should get to his accomodation and get some rest before his long journey back to the mainland. He was not looking forward to the weeks in the saddle, but it would be a relief to get out of this harsh land that burnt in the day and froze in the night.
Drake took a step in the direction of his rooms, but stopped, his old paranoia rearing up again. He wondered if he had ever travelled a direct route in his life, and if he ever would. Wary of those that might tail him, he drifted into the shadows of an alley and took a few minutes to watch for anything suspicious, working out the alternate routes through the village, where the Duke's soldiers might congregate and where there were no eyes.
Drake narrowed his eyes as the man that had spoken to him emerged, looking around. Drake had a strong suspicion who he was looking for. Calmly he drew a small knife, the blade turned to hide beneath the long sleeve that hung loose at his wrist. On silent feet he moved fowards again, keeping the alley to his back for a quick escape.
"Following me is dangerous."
He stated simply.
"What do you want?"
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 15, 2012 02:35 PM (GMT)
The shadows to Ghslib's right rippled like the disturbed surface of cool water and slowly, rising from their depths, a face emerged, it's body in tow. This was, indeed, the man Ghslib's had been hoping to find, but the fact that he had emerged exactly just now and from avdarkened alley, no less, made Ghalib wary. He hadn't come out here to follow the guy or do him harm, he had just stepped outside to see if by some grace the enigmatic fellow was in shouting distance. He hadn't seen him when he'd first stepped out the door, which had seemed weird seeing as Ghalib had only been a few seconds behind, so he'd taken a few steps this direction, head held high as he searched the sparse crowds.
And that's when he heard the voice and turned, thinking of the knife sheathed in his boot, to see the supposed Dune Stalker emerge.
Raising his hands a little, and briefly, to show he meant peace, before putting them at his sides. "I'm not following, I was just hoping you were still out here. It's not every day a story just walks through town - and one so personal, too."
Ghalib tilted his head. This fellow had wrecked a surprise attack from another tribe or band of raiders on the tribe he was supposedly visiting. That he was there for ill of his own and fought off the offensive to save his own skin was unknown, and to many Aknatari, the Dune Stalker was sort of a vigilante figure, a man of the people, following the duke's purposes in eliminating those "terrorists."
Ghalib, a "terrorist" then, himself, couldn't exactly let this guy know he was a raider, could he?
"I am eternally grateful, but - you are a foreigner. Why did you help protect my people?"
Drake - May 15, 2012 09:06 PM (GMT)
Drake noticed that the guy had come alone, leaving the rest of his gang behind inside. Which was a good thing. It probably meant this stranger wanted his attention only briefly and would return to his friends - or so Drake could hope. And of course the obvious advantage of Drake not being outnumbered if things became violent.
The man raised his hands as a sign of innocence, a sign Drake ignored. Pah, anyone could play the peaceful part then draw a knife just as fast. Even Drake had played that game before.
The assassin half sighed, half groaned as the man went on to speak of the story Drake had alluded to (it had seemed a good idea at the time). Was every blasted Aknatari related to each other? Was the inbreeding here worse than Fallan for god's sake?!
Drake muttered, when the man expressed his gratefulness. He'd had enough of that nonsense at the actual time, when the tribe he had saved tried to show their appreciation when all he'd wanted was to barter something to eat and drink. And instead he had to be regalled as some sort of hero, surrounded by noisy women and curious children by the most part. Ugh, an episode he'd happily forget.
"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Of course he was saving his own bloody skin, he'd seen his opportunity when that sandstorm rose and took it, beating back those bandits to secure his own safety. If he'd left them, how long before they crossed paths with him again, under less favourable conditions. At least, that's what Drake told himself, he'd be damned if he admitted that he didn't like to see innocent people killed.
But if he knew who stood in front of him, a slightly annoyed raider, rather than a grateful peasant, Drake's attitude would have been the same. How could an assassin that had taken countless lives over the years judge a man that took what was not his. No, Drake would treat him with the same contempt he did everyone else. The only way this man could be thought even less of, was if he had noble blood in his veins. Now those people Drake especially could not stand.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 19, 2012 04:01 PM (GMT)
"The right place at the right time, some would say." Ghalib said conversationally, despite that he could tell the man was not particularly garrulous. Traditions of friendly speech and amicable guises were hard to break - however, maybe he could snake his way through this still and keep the man interested long enough to fulfill Ghalib's curiosities.
Even he wasn't entirely sure why this man captured him so. Perhaps, in these days, any foreigner was a strange one, and especially those with pro-Aknatar sentiments.
"You sound so reluctant!" he laughed politely, "A man of your obvious prowess should be proud of yourself! I won't ask you to come back and drink with me, but at least tell me where you are from - what business puts you in command of such talents...if you are...willing to share them?"
It was a dangerous question, one Ghalib wouldn't have asked under a different circumstance. But hey, asking once never hurt, did it?
Drake - May 19, 2012 09:14 PM (GMT)
Drake ignored the other man as he corrected his comment. Well he meant what he said, or he wouldn't have bloody said it!
The assassin glared at the Aknatari with all the natural warmth and amiability he possessed. Drake was very much aware of how people disliked him on their first impression (and most people's first impressions were accurate), so how could so many try to encourage him to speak and spend more time in their company? Who the hell deserved that kind of punishment?
Drake grimaced as the Aknatari continued to speak. Of course he was reluctant, most antisocial people were. And proud? Drake was incredibly proud, to the point of arrogant about what he could do, but he preferred not to boast, letting his skills talk for themselves.
"I'm from Targa."
He replied blandly, quite sure there was little interaction of interest between his original home and Aknatar. Not that he'd considered Targa home for years, not since Rose had died, and he'd sought to make his reputation stronger in Tetel'ac.
As for the dangerous question... Drake sighed, he preferred not to lie - they were far too hard to uphold. All it would take would be for him to say that he was a soldier hired to protect caravans from bandits for a living and it would bring up other questions that he couldn't be arsed to come up with an answer for. No, so much better to tell the truth and see if the man failed to believe him; got scared off; or defensive.
"I'm a highly trained assassin, killing is my career."
He said in a calm and quiet voice, his eyes trained on the other man for any rash move, his hand gripping tighter the hidden blade.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 20, 2012 02:22 PM (GMT)
Ironically enough it was the answer Deake didnt say that would have had Ghalib fast giving up on his conversation, and perhaps even the bar he and his men recuperated at. He wanted nothing to do with authorities of any sort, snd especially the ones who had made it their personal mission to squash raiders out like bugs. Why did everyone hate them, huh? They had to make a living, too! There were mouths to feed! And besides, figure it this way: they were helping to stimulate the economy! if it weren't for raiders, thousands upon thousands of guards and mercenaries would have no more jobs! They were the good guys! They just had to write out their own paychecks because no one else was going to.
He was from Targa, apparently, which explained all that foreign-ness. Ghalib had heard of it and seen it on a map, but never been there. Not a desert place, he had heard, so the man wasn't here out of sheer familiarity - this land was something he'd had to learn. Chances were, he was here on business.
What sort of business exactly was expressed moments later.
Ghalib was both silent and still as he regarded the man, trying to decide if the foreigner had told him that because he was lying through his teeth, or because he was dead serious. Everything about Drake screamed to back up his claim, and after a short time, Ghalib accepted it. Okay, assassin.
"Well, I guess that accounts for it, then." he said in a lowered, but still friendly tone. "You are staying then, until the duke's wedding?"
Drake - May 20, 2012 08:18 PM (GMT)
Drake was somewhat stumped by the man's reaction - or lack thereof. There was no look of amusement and disbelief. There was no hurrying to back out of range. Only a mild acceptance and continuation of the conversation, as though Drake had merely commented on the weather.
"You are not afraid?"
He asked warily, his brow knitting. Normal people showed fear, it was the natural reaction and instinct that kept them safe.
This stranger's coolness probably meant that Drake wasn't the first assassin he had met. Either that or he was confident and infamous enough to not fear him.
"What are you?"
He returned rudely.
Drake stood in silence, but finally gave a half-shrug in answer.
"Thought I'd hang around."
He replied non-commitedly. The last thing Drake wanted to do was confirm or deny his presence here, or his return to Keylea. And he definately did not want to admit that he had planned on sticking around to see if any promising work arose from the situation with the Tetel'ac Duke and the Aknatari sheiks. That is until he found out that the Duke was Balaric De Jure, which made him quickly think that it was wiser to be in Keylea. (Heaven forbid he be thought a coward by anyone, even by this stranger)
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 22, 2012 06:31 AM (GMT)
His question was not immediately answered. Rather, Ghalib found himself judging the Dune Stalker's suddenly rather confused expression. Afraid? No. No, of course he wasn't afraid - the assassin wasn't there to kill him, right? Would you fear for your goat's life because the butcher came for a friendly visit? Everyone had a job - some more detestable than others, but they were just jobs. It's when people started killing without compensation, that 's where you had to get worried. That's where the crazy started.
And yes, I'm sure it helped that Ghalib had one or two acquaintance who didn't mind some well-paid bloodshed. Ghalib himself had personally never killed a man outside of a fight. He tried to talk his way out of things when he could, and send those moral-less ones in when he could not. But when push came to shove, that scimitar came out and the blow was dealt.
Ghalib shrugged and smiled playfully in response to Drake's question, as though to say that he simply was what he was - whatever the assassin saw standing before him. And in return the man seemed to shrug back, rushing on, finally, to the answer Ghalib had been waiting on. Yes, yes he said, he would "hang around."
Important event. Important people. Who knew who this assassin was waiting on.
There was this idea that Ghalib had been having in his head now, and although it was half-cooked and thus far barely-planned, the moment Drake had stated his profession, Ghalib had felt like a gift from Aalaam had been dropped into his lap. Looking a little over his shoulder, as though t0o be certain that he knew where the farthest person away was, Ghalib looked back to Drake.
This time he spoke in common. "Would you be willing to "hang around" a little longer than that?"
Drake - May 23, 2012 08:03 AM (GMT)
Ok, at this point Drake was pretty sure that this guy was more than an average guard or soldier loyal to some sheik. He seemed too calm and confident in the presence of a murderer. And it was hardly a comfort that the man merely shrugged rather than express who he was.
Normally Drake would be relieved to find another person as taciturn as himself, but for once the lack of reply was frustrating, he wanted to know who he was dealing with. Bah, but surely it didn't matter in the end. Drake would return to Keylea, the only home he knew, and this strange man would be left far behind.
But it seemed that was not the way things were to play out. Drake's attention was caught when the man switched easily to the common tongue. Of course, he knew the man must have had some handle of the language, because he had been offended by Drake's comment earlier. But Drake had not thought him educated enough to speak his brief sentence fluently. Ah damn, he was probably some noble or Sheik's son or nephew. That would explain the refined features and the speech. Drake inwardly grimaced, he had very little patience for those stuck up pricks.
But the man's question stopped him from just plain leaving. It was the opening line that led to work. And if this guy was well-born, he was probably well-monied enough to afford Drake's services.
"What did you have in mind?"
Drake asked, joining him in the common tongue, but keeping his voice low. The only thing more suspicious that two men talking of killers in Aknatari, was two men hiding their conversation via language from the majority of those around them.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 23, 2012 04:32 PM (GMT)
Ghalib's voice also dropped, following the natural suit of the man he was in conversation with. few around them, in this very common part of Dal'ib, would understand their tongue, but indeed just the fact that they were speaking in the unnatural language was suspicious enough. But then again, who was stupid enough to hang around? They were dressed normal enough, but Drake certainly had that dangerous look about him, and one could feel it in their soul when they were near to him - there was something wrong.
As for Ghalib, well, he couldn't speak for himself on that matter. Personally he always went for the nonthreatening, local, family-friendly raider look.
Shifting, Ghalib began to move his body slightly, turning his angle so that he was less standing directly in front of the assassin, and more standing a little to Drake's right, his back turned slightly to the corner of that wall which made up the alley. The two stood now at roughly a forty-five degree angle, holding both a view of the street and looking, to all the world...a little less business-like.
"A month, maybe. Or two."
He tilted his head down as he offered what he was sure was going to be the most difficult part of hiring someone on - the delay.
Drake - May 26, 2012 06:52 PM (GMT)
Drake never went for the friendly appearance. If he scared the shit out of everyone he met, all the better, the fewer idiots to annoy him. But he didn't seem to phase this stranger, who now appeared to join him, standing at his side as though they were comrades. Drake tried to ignore the temptation to tense and shift away, and told himself that at leat the man was standing to his right, the side he carried the knife in his belt.
A month, maybe. Or two. Well, what was a mere eight weeks out of Drake's life? He had nothing else on the table, nothing calling him back to Tetel'ac. Except for Cora. Damn, he missed her already, had left her alone again with no explanation and no firm day of return. He'd been planning to head back to Hanalei tomorrow morning, and could have been there by her side again within a week or two. Would it truly be so bad adding another six to eight weeks onto that?
"What's the deal?"
He asked, cutting straight to the point. His time was anyone's - for a price.
Drake kept his gaze vaguely focussed down the street, flicking up to one passer-by, or another, as the street quietened down for the evening.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 27, 2012 04:21 AM (GMT)
Ghalib was happy to hear the man ask after the deal, as though he was actually interested. He had to be honest, he was a little skeptical still about the whole "I'm an assassin" thing. It had just seemed a little silly to think that a real assassin would so blatantly and so...casually, reveal himself.
But then, if one really wanted to be suspicious - and these were indeed suspicious times, were they not? - one just might wonder if Drake wasn't just curious who a aman like Ghalib could be after. Was it possible? Would someone pretend to be an assassin for the pure purpose of gaining such information?
Oh, that in itself was a ridiculous question; of course they would - especially if they were, as Ghalib first thought, a spy.
Ghalib raised his chin, looking out into the street as he chose his words.
"Payment is...not an issue." he began. "But I need to know that -" he swept his eyes suddenly to Drake's. "- you can be trusted with my request. Is there a place I can find you, another time, to give you the details?" Knowing this sounded less than desirable to Drake, most likely, Ghalib rushed on, lifting a hand conversationally to explain, "There is an advance in it for you if...you meet me again."
Drake - May 30, 2012 07:32 PM (GMT)
Drake was always wary when announcing he was an assassin, for previously stated reasons of being annoyed or stabbed. But sometimes it was just the best thing to do at the time. He'd never think that anyone would lie about being one though! Oh, sure, he'd lied about being a knight, a soldier, a farmer even once. But saying that you were an assassin of all occupations was just downright stupid and dangerous if it wasn't true. You would have to be an idiot to pretend to be a big bad and invoke all the darker people in the area.
Drake nodded as the man said that payment was not an issue. Well, Drake would be the judge of that, his prices were above average. And after doing this job for ten years now, he had amassed a small fortune of his own and could be picky about the jobs he took on - he didn't care about the price if it was merely bopping off a love rival or a minor warrior. He was a slave to his pride.
Drake looked at the other man, as he suddenly requested a second meeting. Ugh, giving up more of his precious solitude?
He took a moment to consider the request. There was no chance in hell that Drake would offer his own accommodation, that was just asking for trouble. He supposed there was the witch's house - but they were currently on a fall-out. He sighed, thinking of somewhere neutral, with good vantage points for him.
"Fine, tomorrow at dawn, the empty apartment above the weavers shop on the south side of Dal'ib."
Without waiting for an agreement or the promised advance, Drake turned and walked away down the alley, having had enough of this conversation with the threat of having another one tomorrow. If the other man turned up.
Ghalib Mu'awiyah - May 31, 2012 03:39 PM (GMT)
[I'm pushing this back because otherwise we would have to cram in a whole 'nother thread b4 the Faris one and...i don't think either of us can afford that, mkay?]
The assassin was silent a moment as he seemed to weigh his decision, before he snapped up suddenly and rattled off his meeting place. Some abandoned apartment somewhere in South Dal'ib. He didn't know where that was yet, but he would find it. Above a weaver's shop, he said...yes, Ghalib would find it.
The too-brief, too-soon meeting was not what he'd had in mind, and without considering whether he needed Drake more or Drake needed him, Ghalib spoke up to alter the situation. As it was, he had to rush - that man was already slithering away.
"I am not here tomorrow, Stalker! - I will meet you there after the wedding, five days' time. Dawn."
He felt as though he was yelling after a shadow, as though he might even have been talking to himself in the dark of the night. But he was sure the fellow could hear him...he couldn't get that far that fast, right?
Turning away from the alley, Ghalib rested his back against the wall a moment, sighing as he crossed his arms. So! That had been quite the spur-of-the-moment decision, hadn't it? But let's be honest, these assassins were slippery sorts. If you wanted one, you had to grab 'em with two hands once you found 'em.