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 Last supper
Drake
Posted: Apr 4 2012, 08:32 AM


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Joined: 21-April 11



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.


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Ghalib Mu'awiyah
Posted: Apr 25 2012, 11:55 AM


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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!"


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Drake
Posted: Apr 25 2012, 12:27 PM


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Joined: 21-April 11



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.
"Stupid Aknatari."
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.


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Ghalib Mu'awiyah
Posted: Apr 25 2012, 05:18 PM


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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.


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Drake
Posted: Apr 26 2012, 01:47 AM


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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.
"What?"
Drake snapped in Aknatari, having had enough of the childish staring.


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Ghalib Mu'awiyah
Posted: Apr 26 2012, 03:47 PM


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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.


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Drake
Posted: Apr 27 2012, 04:27 PM


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((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.


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Ghalib Mu'awiyah
Posted: Apr 28 2012, 08:04 AM


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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.


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Drake
Posted: Apr 30 2012, 04:48 PM


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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.
"Serve him?"
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.


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Ghalib Mu'awiyah
Posted: Apr 30 2012, 10:54 PM


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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.


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Drake
Posted: May 1 2012, 01:01 AM


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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.
"Dune Stalker."
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.


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Ghalib Mu'awiyah
Posted: May 1 2012, 06:33 PM


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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.


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Drake
Posted: May 8 2012, 04:03 AM


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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?"


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Ghalib Mu'awiyah
Posted: May 15 2012, 09:35 AM


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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?"


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Drake
Posted: May 15 2012, 04:06 PM


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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?!
"Don't bother."
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.


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A Medieval/Renaissance Roleplay
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This is Tetel’ac, where the women are capricious, the ale is usually tepid, and life is hard. Prince or pauper, the world is a dangerous place to play and the game of politics is far from voluntary. Whether you live in the gentle tropics, lush forests, harsh mountains, or expansive desert, every day is sure to spell adventure for those who live under the intruding thumb of the king, or amoung the hidden eyes of oh so many spies. With a kingdom on the brink of yet a second revolution, the future is a fragile thing indeed.

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Feb. 17, 2014

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