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Trust Issues [P; Aey Char]
Topic Started: Thu Oct 5, 2017 8:17 am (505 Views)
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"And what were you doing?" Nikolaii Arkano inquired. Though his voice was calm, the vein practically popping out of his forehead betrayed him, revealing how livid he was.

"Healing myself." Bloodblade explained simply, idly spinning his knife in his hand, its tip pressed gently against the index finger on the opposite hand. He barely made eye contact with Nikolai, genuine boredom and impatience making his mind wander to thoughts of his new home. He did not like being out and about for too long, but work simply commanded that he adhere.

"From your coworkers." Nikolai breathed deeply, his fingers outstretched as he resisted the urge to do something with them.

"We were told not to harm the elf." The assassin explained for the third time in as many minutes, growing tired with it, himself. He had not done such a thing with Ashbah Alssahra, but he had cut down allies in joint operations when he thought they would prove more trouble to his own people than he cared for. It was purely incidental that he had a history of such a thing to keep too many questions from being asked. The Istani removed the blade from his fingertip to wave it around and accent his accompanying words, "First and foremost she is to-- and on and on and on."

Nikolai shook his head ever so slightly, took a deep, but quiet breath, and seemed to force himself to imitate relaxation, though that vein in his forehead still looked about ready to burst, "I suppose such is the natural result of leaving an impatient, bloodthirsty assassin to an incompetent pervert. For now, just. . . Guard. We'll get some proper work for a man of your talents, but we're not letting you go to waste, either."

"I still get paid?" The assassin stopped his fidgeting a moment with an expectant glare from his dark brown eyes, finding the actual salary to be a nice perk to his work.

"Only if you work." Strangely enough, that seemed to actually calm Nikolai down some. Perhaps he was more attuned to business than explanations of failed projects and dismantles pieces of whatever operation this was, "So. . . Southern entry. Stand there, make sure that anybody who approaches showed the right identification, turn away anybody who doesn't, and. . . Keep things quiet."

"Quiet, I can do that. Sometimes." The assassin resheathed his blood red blade and nodded to his current employer at the dockside warehouse. It was a simple matter to play guard, but it hardly told him anything about what they were doing at the warehouse. Then again, trust could be slow to earn, so for now he would just have to settle for what he could get and not be too pushy. People confided in those they believed could stay quiet, after all, and the sheer disinterest he showed tended to expedite the process somewhat.

For now, he complied, and leaned by the door to watch the occasional person hurriedly show the proper identification as they rushed to do whatever it was that was time-sensitive enough to require intense jogging.
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She stepped out of the boarding house, and took a deep breath of the crisp morning air. It had a certain...flavor to it, one that she had come to associate with cities in general. Home - or, what she considered her home in any case - had been filled with the musty smell of slow, frigid decay on all sides. Taras reeked of life, far too much of it confined to too small an area. Some days it was nauseating, others she could barely even mark its presence.

She stepped outside into a street, filled- not overly, mind - with people going about their daily business. As was she. A huge city, full of potential - the potential to overcome the damage she had already done to her reputation, fledgling though it was. A chance to not consort with enemies to the cause. Maranae shuddered at the memory, ruefully recalling that immortality brought with it certain consequences. Not being able to die (or at least, not by any normal means) did not mean one couldn't feel pain! No, far from it!

She shivered.

She wore a much more modest set of clothes this time, at least. Perhaps her choice of attire in the past had stirred in others certain presumptions, but it was unlikely that what she wore now would garner much comment. It was grey, of fine linen, with silver scrollwork at the hemm of her skirts and the edges of the bodies and sleeves, which were white and snug fitting. Maranae knew that she was an attractive woman, and she would use that to her advantage where she could - not that, as yet, it meant anything beyond pure vanity to no other purpose than said vanity.

She walked around the Foundation boarding house to the stable, wherein she kept her horse - a dun mare, spirited and with a fair turn of speed but otherwise unremarkable. After retrieving the animal and mounting it, she set off into the city.

Searching, while her thoughts drifted.

Why were they so concerned? It was a question that had been nagging at her since the return, after being set down so hard that she could still feel twinges of pain. What could that strange elf possibly have done that would have harmed me, or the Order? There was no doubt that was the general thrust of their argument, and it left her mystified.

She shook her head absently, and unconsciously hitched her skirts a bit. She should have worn something divided for riding - although she had seen plenty of women with far more scandalous wear than she had, it felt improper to show so much leg, astride a horse or not. The beast wickered softly beneath her, but that was it. It seemed to know her mind, and trotted along in the direction she desired without having to be given any commands. Not surprising, of course; the animal was trained extensively. It was a rather unfortunate necessity; most horses (other domestic animals for that matter) could not abide her presence. They could sense the monster lurking beneath her delicate exterior, and were not fooled in the slightest.

It has to be something to do with Celestia, she idly though as the animal took a turn down towards the harbor. There was nothing except docks and quayside warehouses down there, as well as blocks and blocks of further warehouses utilized by merchants, ships' captains, and others with the coin and need for such space. Once, they had held some rather unsavory individuals but, as with all things in Imythess, the damage had been mostly repaired. Mostly. But why? The High Planes present less of a threat than the Far Planes do...

Or did they? Sometimes Maranae felt incredibly frustrated; she knew so much of the world beyond Imythess in one hand, but that knowledge only served to illuminate how much she didn't know. Even more frustrating, she was forced to rely on others, whose knowledge was far greater than her own was. Sometimes it seemed like it was a system designed expressly to foster a certain neediness on the part of her, and others like her.

New. Informed, but lacking in experience. There was something there to be worried out, but she was at a loss as to what.

Suddenly, Maranae clicked her teeth, and the beast beneath her slowed, then stopped. Mentally telling herself she needed to name the animal, she shook her head. She had felt something just a moment ago...

With a start, she realized she was in the warehouse district. Wide, roughly paved streets ran straight as arrows, and on each side were massive buildings. Some of them looked to be in extremely poor repair, while others were less so. Regardless of how run down this part of the docks were, one thing was abundantly clear. There were few people around, and she the only one astride a horse, wearing if not fine clothing, then certainly not the garb of a commoner. The fact that she seemed completely at her ease here simply marked her out even more.

All of that was secondary, of course, to this other thing. She could feel it; rising from the streets, wafting along in soft waves. It was a kind of, well, wrongness to the world, as if something was warping the very fabric of the world around itself in some terrible way. She imagined it as the worlds' pain, and it was caused by a number of things: powerful magics, and extraplanar entities and objects were those that she was most familiar with.

It was the latter that she was concerned with. Clucking to the horse, she started down the street, noting that the few people that were here scurried on by without ever lifting their eyes to see who rode here. It was odd, furtive, and unusual in her eyes. What could they be concerned with? Well, there were plenty of things to be concerned with, truth to tell. For them not for her.

All there was to do was follow what she felt. It led to a warehouse along the strip, much closer to the harbor than where she had first felt it. There were a few more people here, but not many. Most unusually, there was a guard at the door of one of the larger warehouses, and that piqued her interest more than anything. She slowly trotted up to him and, drawing rein and dismounting, she approached him. She was not sure if she should smile - and use the charms of her appearnace do their work for her - or if she should approach with a serious cast to her face. At the last, she decided on business.
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Check the cards, let them pass, repeat. It was boring grunt work, and no wonder that the person who the Bloodblade relieved of duty genuinely seemed relieved. There was nothing to it, and so far nobody so much as looked twice at the warehouse who was not supposed to be there, or the guard lazily beside its Southern entry. The warehouses were mostly for storage and business, some for shadier things, but each and every one was being visited only by those with an actual purpose to be there. The Istani was growing so bored that he sometimes slipped into a haze, barely snapping himself from it to check that some people who were going by actually had a right to enter, then ultimately letting them go in without trouble.

It took a while for anything to break the monotony of lifters, movers, counters, and whatever else was needed at a warehouse that was most likely providing enchanted weapons to bandits. Some of those who entered, especially those who did so calmly, looked particularly suspicious, but there was nothing that the assassin would do about them any time soon.

The break in established routine came with the arrival of a woman who was quite admittedly very attractive. The assassin readjusted his posture against the wall as she approached, eyeing her simple attire up and down for a quick moment while she seemed to be deciding on what to do. To him, she seemed lost, too pretty to really be hanging out in the warehouse distinct.

"Keep going down towards the sea, turn left before you go off the docks, then keep going until you find a sign that reads 'Splendor of the Sea.'" The Bloodblade explained simply, gesturing to make the directions easier to understand, "You have no business here, but there you can buy some drinks and food while you try to figure out what you are doing."
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Her features remained smooth, but inside she was rather alarmed. Am I so transparent? A worthwhile consideration, seeing as this fellow - whoever he was and whatever he was - had seen right through her. Only then did she really take in where she was, looking around her with trepidation. She finally grunted. Am I so transparent, she asked coolly, giving voice to her thoughts before with a fair degree more certainty than had been in her head. She considered quickly how best to continue, and it was with alacrity that she decided the high-handed snobbery that the well-born could muster would work well here.

As if you would find me in some dive by the docks, man. Her voice was no longer cool; it was downright frosty. As for business, I have plenty of business here.

It was a bluff, of course, but it was not a lie. She couldn't lie, in any case, and if pressed into a corner....well, she would find practice at this, and evasion could be something like a second skin for her, as it was for all other members of the Nameless by this point. She made a show of eyeing the few people on the street, who still didn't return her looks. Everyone seemed to keep to themselves here.

I happen to have business here, she replied, only a little haughtily. Mustn't lay it on too thick. Keep it cool. I will own a warehouse here shortly, and I have noticed a fair bit more activity here than would seem normal. I do not like my assets being put at risk needlessly. All truth. She would own a warehouse here - next door in fact - very soon, although in truth it would be the Foundation's property and not her own. Of course, the Foundation was little more than a front - a massive, multinational front that actually operated independently - but a front nonetheless. Well?
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He could not believe, no matter how hard he tried. She had no skill in deception, her face and her voice were easier to read for the assassin than genuine script. She was definitely giving it her all, and perhaps if the Istani had not been in the midst of working, he would give her some pointers on how to best make others actually believe anything she was saying, but such as it was he was working.

Should he shatter her attempt and leave her pride a bit bruised at how short her deception fell, or be a bit kinder and let her think that he was simply too stubborn to care. Perhaps the latter would be nicer. Besides, he did have appearances to keep up with, but there was no way he could go through with that without an air of intimidation.

Such was life.

"Well what? You have no business with this warehouse. If not the Splendor, then I do not care where you go, but if you hang around here then I will have to do my job as guard and get rid of you." His accented voice lowered to a sinister hush with those last three words, his posture completely straightening and his dark eyes settling unwavering, unblinking upon the woman. He brandished his blood-red blade low and by his side with a loose grip, prepared to switch to his proper stance though he had no expectation that it would come to that, "Now. Leave."

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She blinked at his...harshness. harshness? It was a damned threat, is what it was. All of her unease melted away in the face of that, though, and that was unexpected. Something stirred in the back of her mind, something far more sinister than this man could possibly known.

I do not have to take that! something purred in the back of her mind and, for a moment, Maranae - in her head - flinched back from it. But only a moment. She could feel the desire of Fae, then, and clearly - the beast within saw the sword, and wished nothing more than to draw her own, and ply it with all the skill and ferocity that she could muster. Which was a sight more than even Maranae was willing to countenance.

It took a solid effort, an effort given with a grimace on her face, to force the monster back. Now was not the time.

Threaten me, will you? If her voice had been cold before, it was cie now. There was no act of deception here, either - she was absolutely livid, her temper pushed beyond reason. Somehow she managed to avoid doing anything...precipitous. Very well, boy, but when my advocates come to speak with you and your employer about decorum... Letting her own threat hang in the air, she whirled away in swishing skirts, and - fighting the urge to stalk - glided back to the horse. She really wish she had thought to wear skirts divided for riding, but there was nothing for it. Let the bastard look.

Practically sawing the reins, she whirled about and trotted up to the next warehouse, all the while reaching into the saddlebag and withdrawing a metamana device. She fit it into her ear, and tapped the node on the side that would activate it, tapping into the Foundation network.

Yes. It is Maranae. I need my location fixed, and the warehoue in front of me purchased. I also require information on the owner and operations of the warehouse directly north of this establishment. She eyed the building - it was cheek-by-jowl next to the one that she had been rudely rebuffed from entering. No alleyway - the buildings shared walls/ Perfect. A string of chatter came across the line, and she offered her credentials - required for any communication on this level. I need the key immediately. I will also require...

Deny her, would they? Not today.

She cast dark looks back towards the other warehouse and its guard. She shouldn't allow emotion to cloud her judgment, and shouldn't let simple words get under her skin so - especially when it was nothing particularly offensive. There was a fair amount of activity, now, after the key to the warehouse had been handed over to her and employees of the Foundation had begun to move items into the rather large storage space within.

She directed the flow, but only to be seen doing something. There were others more proficient with this kind of work already inside, ensuring that stored dry goods and materials were properly put up. She didn't know how much the place cost, and scarcely cared; the Foundation's pockets were extremely deep, and storage space was something that could always be used. Emergency rations, medical supplies, and shelf-stable food stuffs were always in demand, when dealing with the tragedies of the world. A working front, it was to be said, and they maintained it efficiently.

She turned, and entered the warehouse she had just bought.

She made a gesture and a couple of workers in overalls approached her, respectfully. She was young, yess, but she was also known. Of course, most people within the Foundation had little idea who the Overseers they respected so much really were, but to them it made little difference if they were young or old. I need a Foundation magician over here, as quickly as you can bring one. An upper level one, for preference. They nodded, and bowed themselves out of her presence before hurrying off to do just that.

It had taken a little over an hour to achieve all that was taking place now. The guard had not moved from his post. Which was just as well; she intended to bypass him entirely. A gateway between the two buildings would prove...useful to her. The information she had been provided might be enough to allow her to fake it once within, but she had to get there first.
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Boy? How young did he look, or was she just some immortal with no sense for people? Still, the assassin shrugged it off as she left, threatening to tell his employer about decorum or something. By the time anybody would show up to scold him, he would be gone and his existence shrugged off as a temporary fill for the guard position. Pieces in places like this were always moving around, and papers would be made up that would explain away his existence and nothing more than that.

Perhaps out of some rich spite, it appeared that the woman had laid claim to the adjacent warehouse. Maybe he should have gone with the nicer approach, but then again there was the chance that no matter what he did, she would have ended up next door. People were moving in quickly with supplies, directed by her. Occasionally the assassin made glances towards them as they came and went from the warehouse, but that was nothing more than short breaks from checking to see if the occasional person had their identification or not. One time he had to turn away an actual employee, but that went smoother than with that noblewoman, or whoever she was.

After about an hour, or what felt like longer to the impatient Istani, he was relieved of duty and being summoned by the boss. At least he was finally freed from the shackles of proper work. He retreated inside and towards the smaller building within the warehouse where he had been summoned to. Honestly he was a bit surprised to get real work so quickly, but at the same time he was not going to question it. It got him going forward, and that was what he needed.

"What did you do this time?" Were the words that greeted the assassin as he entered, his eyes quickly settling on that popping vein once more, "That warehouse next to us remained wonderfully vacant, and in the course of almost two hours with you standing guard, it's become occupied."

"Noblewoman, I suppose." The Istani shrugged, "She came up to me, I told her to go away, she refused, then I made her go away."

His employer sighed, gripping the bridge of his nose as he tried to formulate the proper words to respond with, "We're gathering information on them, but we'll have enchanters coming in as soon as possible to reinforce the structure, starting with the adjoining one. Were you at least watching to see who was walking by?"

"A lot of different people. Only the noblewoman really stood out, though." The assassin explained.

"If you see any trespassers, or anybody without proper identification, remove them from the premises. If they resist, then treat them as hostile."
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She disliked this kind of magic.

I twas an abomination, far too akin to that which people used to hop from one world to another, leaving scars in reality until the fabric of everything that was had become little more than a patchwork quilt of scar tissue, crisscrossing unseen across everything. How long could a world endure such, before it began to buckle, and eventually collapse beneath its own weight? Maranae was no scholar. No, she was barely more than a girl, a girl tasked with a duty that had been picked up and carried by many before her, time out of mind.

And she very much wanted to perform this task with all the diligence it required, with all the care and determination that her predecessors had carried it. If there was anything to ease the burden, in her mind, it was that she was not alone. Oh, here she was...but there were others, a few dozen of them, across the world. All working toward the same goal.

Sovereignty of our own world, without the yolk of those who stride between them upon our backs. Oh, yes. So much to bear.

The portal was little more than a shimmering patch in front of her, maintained by a Foundation magician, and not one of middling strength, either. She could feel the raw power this man held in his hands...and was unimpressed by it. Something about that should have disquieted her. She was, for all intents and purposes, a novice still. And even so inexperienced, she could feel everything this man had done - the gate between one place and another, shielded and warded to prevent detection. He hadn't even asked her why. That wasn't surprising, though; she was who she was, what she was. It might still fill her with dread some nights, but the people high enough in the Foundation to know of her were well aware, and accustomed, to such as she.

Am I a monster? A worthless question. She was Nameless. She was an arbiter of peace at the point of a sword, as had every Nameless been for a thousand years.

Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, to slip into the required persona, she stepped forward, nodding in acknowledgement of the mage - nameless, himself, but not Nameless. It was like stepping through a sheet of cold water, one foot entering...and exiting elsewhere.

A corridor among crates. Not a speck of dust marred the supplies stored here, the wares bound for who knew where. This was an active place, a place with many people all busy about their work. Her senses were aflame, now, that she had stepped into the building. What had simply been a nagging sensation was now fire writ in her mind, bold large letters that pointed toward a wrongness that did not belong here, in this world. It was potent enough she almost felt that she could taste it. Somewhere, in this warehouse, was something that did not belong here. Here, on Chaon. What it was doing in the hands of Ergo Distribution was beyond her to guess, but it had to be taken from them and destroyed, or returned to the Foundation for study before being destroyed.

An idle thought, unwelcome, was whether or not this place would need to be 'cleansed' after finding...whatever it was. She was familiar with the process only through study, and not by actual deed. When she had been taught about it, she had questioned then whether she could bring herself to shed such blood, the blood of innocents, were it called for. Of the guilty, well, there was really no moral issue there. They could die, if it was required.

Adjusting her skirts a little, brushing errant dust from the warehouse the Foundation had just purchased, she glided forward. The only way was to put forth a certain feeling of belonging, a manner and air that suggested that she was supposed to be here. A method that could forestall questions, and allow her the short time it would take to find and identify what these Ergo employees held that they should not. Even as she moved, she tapped into the wellspring of power that ly within her own flesh and blood, her soul. Crafting a spell in silence was a little harder for her, but she managed it. The alterations she was making to herself via sorcery were slight; a slightly darker shade of red to her hair, slightly more prominent cheekbones, a little narrower nose. Details of that sort, so small individually that they did not account for much, but taken altogether, made her look like an entirely different person. She did not know if anyone had seen her when she was out front, or not.

Even if they had, they would not easily recognize her, regardless fo the fact she wore the same clothes now as before.

She began to search. She could feel the wrongness, and if she did not know precisely what the source was, she could eventually blunder into it. And if she was confronted, why, she could claim to have gotten lost. She had enough strength as a magician to pass off as one of the ones they were seeking, of recent. About identification...well, that was a bridge to cross when she got to it.

Determination was the key, and she clutched it in her mind as she moved serenely through the warehouse. Searching.
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"Hostile. So I can do what I do best." The assassin mused, his fingers rapping lightly on the handle of his knife. Despite his precision, he was known for being more of a hammer than a scalpel. Wasting him on supporting roles was just a matter of talent recognition after a while. The more he could flaunt his talents, the more trust he could gain and the lest interference he would have as he worked.

"A bit of hunting. Finally a good use for your skillset, rather than having you fail at things you're not suited for." The man attached to the vein stood as it receded somewhat, a semblance of control easing the strain on his blood pressure, "First, an announcement and a change of operating procedure to make your job a little easier. Come with me."

The man took to outside so that he could ply his magic with as little hindrance as possible. It was a simple use of some illusory magic to protect his voice throughout the warehouse, simple enough to get the update to policy taken care of.

"As of this moment, all employees most wear their identification somewhere on the front of their upper torso. Chest or shoulders, whatever feels more comfortable and will hinder you the least in your work. If you see anybody not wearing identification, report them to me or a member of the security detail immediately. That is all; carry on."

"Let's hope you don't find anybody without their identification." The man spoke to Istani before returning to his office, leaving the Bloodblade to his new patrol.

This was something that he could handle, especially if his superior's fears proved justified. Even better, it provided him with some free reign to see what he could find. The maze-like setup of supplies reminded him of Istan City. It seemed more chaotic than it was, a secret order to everything and hidden paths strewn about for those with the eyes to see them. Fortunately this warehouse was filled with sturdy things, and so it only took the assassin a moment to begin climbing upon them and skulking silently above the heads of the people below, his dark eyes catching sight of badges here and there.

Everything seemed fairly normal, but there had to be something amiss somewhere.
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{i]Wrongness[/i] What was it? Did she dare even contemplate what could be within this warehouse, by design or accident? She was having a hard time understanding how a simple shipping and storage company could possible have any need for some forbidden artifact. It was even less plausible that some interplanar monstrosity would have any need or desire for a...for a shipping company, of all things!

Why, then, did she feel this thing, here?

She moved along in absolute silence, her sense wired and on fire. She could track this thing down, after a fashion and given enough time. Time was the problem, though; for some reason, this place had an overwhelming level of security. Trade secrets maybe? Cargo that had been hidden from the customs officers of Taras or elsewhere, smuggled in? She couldn't ascribe ill desire to it, or good, either. It didn't seem to make much sense. In fact, if she would ascribe such reality to anything...

The magic rolled, softly through the warehouse. Maranae stopped, and listened. A spike of ice stabbed through her guts, and for a long moment she stood there, staring. Had she been found out, so soon? But, no, the management would likely have set everyone to the task of finding an intruder if one was believed to be there. Still, the question: why?

It complicated things, and greatly. She could no longer just walk about, using her intinctive, unnatural talent for sniffing out whatever it was that had caught her nose. There was too much risk of being spotted, and where before she would have simply passed it off as being lost and new - the success of which was dubious at best - she would have to skulk. She let the minor illusory magic entwined across her body evaporate, showing her own face once more. The effort of maintaining it was not worth it, now.

She continued to move, towards a goal she did not know or understand, but now she did so with extreme care, relying on much underused skills of stealth. Wearing a dress was going to make creeping almost impossible...but simply being alert would help.

She hoped.
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Inside or outside, the world was always so different from up above, for the Istani it was not because of the apparent scale of the people below, but rather because of just how much could be seen at a glance when looking down. Nobody ever looked up, nobody saw him skulking about, catching glimpses of white rectangles of subtly enchanted paper in lines with the new warehouse rule. Even simple fake identification would not be enough to get past the few wandering guards with the ability to see magic, whether through lenses or through their eyes. The assassin did not have such a sensitivity to magic, but he could still tell if somebody was meant to be there or not.

He glided easily between the gaps of supplies, adjusting his weight carefully to keep the goods from being damaged too much by his landings. His steps were quiet, his breaths minimal, but his eyes were sharp as they hunted the ground for anybody who simply did not belong. He saw the tops of many heads, some demons strong enough to move heavy crates with ease, some simple workers checking inventory and marking what needed to get moved and prepared for carts or teleportation. It was a simple operation, a legitimate business to distract onlookers from whatever secrets it was hiding, secrets perhaps hidden even from the majority of workers who came and went. The Bloodblade only had knowledge that it was not, not any specifics, but his apparent lack of interest made his superiors feel better about his presence. He would not ask, but he would hunt for clues.

What he found, instead, was somebody not quite fitting the mold of employee. The identification was not readily apparent on their person and she seemed both lost and intent. An infiltrator, which brought about a new question to the Istani's mind. Which job should he adhere to? He carefully and quietly followed her, moving faster and slower to get better views at her. He kept at an angle that would make hiding easy enough by simply leaning away from the edges of the stacks. She was attractive yet familiar, sneaking around like a child used to leaving their home just carefully enough that their parents never noticed.

Oh, so that was an act, through and through. The noblewoman with the big mouth. He knew he could not believe it, but it had not been his job to probe too deeply into why. Now, however, he was far more curious.

From a pocket he drew not his knife, but a card. These were still a bit unfamiliar to him, but he had their purposes worked out well enough. Could this be an ally, or was it simply an enemy of everything? He flicked the spy card downwards past the intruder and in front of her, making sure that she could see it, but hiding quickly enough that she would not learn who threw it.

"I think I saw you outside, harassing the guard, earlier." A lighter and softer Istani voice came through the card, just loud enough for her to hear, but different enough from the guard's as to sound like a different person, "Who are you, infiltrating this place so poorly?"
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There was a trick she had learned while she was studying. And now it was proving to be exceptionally useful. The problem with acute senses was that she could feel everything that was out of the ordinary. Even the Order agreed that it was not possible to scrub Chaon clean of the poison of the other worlds from which so many of her inhabitants had visited and brought back...trinkets from. The corruption was, more or less, everywhere, and impossible to cleanse. But that background corruption was minute, lacking enough power to spread, to twist those around it.

No, it was specific sources she looked for. The demons that walked the warehouse were momentary distractions, shoved aside other than to mark their location relative to her own. No, what she wanted was...

...down. The girl paused for a moment amid a corridor made of boxes, and stared down, perplexed. The city here, according to her instruction, was honeycombed with old passages - possibly even older iterations of the city itself. And flooded. The water level had risen, perhaps, over the years. All the old cellars, rooms, streets and passages beneath the city so close to the harbor were flooded by dark, chilly, murky water and mud.

And, having come closer, she could sense something more of what it was she seeked. It was...painful. A raw wound in reality, a fresh and bleeding gash in the fabric of the world. Somewhere, beneath her, a portal was opened. If that had been all of it, well, what could she do against someone like that? Quite a lot, probably. It was the feeling that there was more to this story.

The rise to prominence of this shipping company was suspect. She had noted that right off. Was it possible they had acquired something they shouldn't have, and were usi-

The words came from nowhere, breaking her from her internal monologue. She looked up, around, and saw nothing. She felt nothing, either. For a long moment, she said nothing, hand dropping to the handle of the knife thrust into the waist of her dress.

I... she began, uncertainly, in a low voice. And then she firmed her resolve. Any uncertainty faded away as though cut. Who I am is none of your concern. Normally people try to hide their sins more carefully, but it appears you and yours choose to flaunt it. The words were flat, and delivered in a no nonsense manner that she felt slightly proud of, given the circumstances.

She drew herself up to her full, impressive height. If you want nothing to do with the corruption your betters have brought here, then leave. If you mean to keep this for yourself, however... She let the unspoken threat hang on the air. She wasn't certain she could carry out any threat, given she had no idea who or what she faced. It was best to bluff, for now, though. If things went sour...

I am immortal, am I not? Except....that warning from the Prelate. Many do not survive their first few years... She chose to ignore the ball of ice in her gut.
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The girl who infiltrated, who pretended to be somebody of importance, had a strong spirit about her. She spoke like a paladin, a self-proclaimed bringer of justice, and rather than try and talk her way out of whatever came she would instead face it head-on, even if she had no idea what it was.

Did she understand at all that she was in one of the bellies of the beast? She came in so strong, just short of kicking down the front door and counting heads of whoever stood against her. She must have believed that her stealth would be more than sufficient for any guards she encountered. Perhaps she would be right, if she was not also right. A place holding secrets like this warehouse would not be protected by the average fair of mercenaries or street-hires. They needed to make sure that their product, and whatever else that had, was well-defended. Hiring convicted criminals under good faith was just a clever guise.

The assassin smiled to himself and sat down, the girl seeming like she would not be going anywhere any time soon.

"Quite rude and fighty for an infiltrator who made things more difficult around here with her impatience. These are not my sins and those are not my betters." Came the voice through the card on the floor in front of her, still soft and light, and now a bit jovial in the delivery of the words, "I suppose if who you are is none of my concern, then neither is what happens to you when a guard or the assassin skulking about finds you without a sign that you are supposed to be here. Well, if you want nothing from anybody else, then I wish you luck with the assassin, but I will not be leaving on the gamble of another."

That said, he listened patiently from atop a stack of crates labeled for metals with no line of sight between him and her. Through the card he tossed below and another paired to it in his hand, he could watch her, to see what she did, if she moved on, but she would not be able to see him through the card near her.
Edited by Ah'Har, Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:28 am.
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She located where the voice was coming from. Cards, laying on the ground. It made little srense to her at all, but then, there were plenty of magics in the world that she did not understand. Yet. Time, experience, these were the things she needed..and swiftly, if she were to survive.

She started to turn away, to ignore the voice and continue on without any further interruption. Something stirred in her mind, something ugly and uncivilized. It uncruled, stretched out like a cat in a sunbeam. Unseen, unknowable eyes opened, yellow and filled with violence. So, you are just going to leave this creature alone, and continue on? Maranae froze midstep, then slowly settled back onto her feet. I do not have time to deal with him. Or you, for that matter. Go back to sleep.

The feral...thing...in her head seemed amused by this. Sleep? Is that what you....aaah! You avoid me, always. Why? Maranae was silent, and shook her head slowly in negation. Because you are a voice of madness. You are the monster within... The derisive laughter that followed stung her. Of course, she could hear her thoughts! There was no privacy between them. Except...

Thats right, you cannot hear my thoughts, child. I am a resource to you. You should use me.

But she did not want to. There was a reason she avoided calling upon the beast within. Reliance upon that tool, it was said, would drive someone to the depths of madness. It happened, from time to time, with others of the Order - there didn't seem to be a limit to how old one could be before they slipped off the razor's edge and descended into madness. Usually requiring several of her sisters and brothers to put down.

What would you have me do? Scour this place looking for the owner of the voice? Hunt down the assassin? Her words were awfully...dry. She started forward a few steps, and then stopped again when the monster answered.

Kill them all. The innocents among them...well, it is a shame, is it not. There are always innocent bystanders caught up in any war. The others though...

I will do no such thing. It is not what the Order does. More derisive laughter, then, gales of laughter....that slowly faded into silence. The beast was still there, watching through her eyes. But, suddenly, it was disconnected, distant from her.

She took a slow, deliberate breath, and then turned back to the cards on the floor. She mistrusted someone who would speak to her without showing their face, mistrusted their intentions and their trustworthiness. But she had a job to do, and sometimes risks needed to be taken.

Fine, then, she began hesitantly, a touch cold. What would you have me do, then, nameless stranger? Her words were as hard as she could make them. Which, sadly, might not have been hard enough.
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Hesitation and then agreement. For a moment the Istani had worried that she might not go along with the strange voice from the card, but then again her gamble was a lot more dangerous than his. If she did not accept, all he needed was to be able to strike her before she knew he was there, but he also had the comfort of knowing that she came from outside. She did not know who he was, where he was, or what his intentions were. Granted, he did not know what hers were, either, but at the same time he felt fairly confident that theirs would align.

"Quickly, pick up the card, display it on your person. He's going to be overhead soon." The voice came through the card, hushed but urgent, leaving no room or indication of time for questions. Of course, to keep up appearances, there could be none of those things with the hesitation she had just shown. If she did as he said, the face of the card would change into a quick but fairly convincing identification card. The size was a bit off, but at a glance even a true guard would find it difficult to tell it from a real one.

She looked at the card on the ground, clearly uneasy with the demand. regardless, she bent down low, and picked it up, doing as asked with an unreadable expression on her face.

With that, the assassin needed to move. He lifted himself up silently and launched himself from one stack to another, landing gently but firmly and still quietly as he threw down a piercing glare towards the infiltrator before moving on. Another good look of her could only help everything, anyway. With her identity displayed, he could move on and pretend like she was meant to be there.

"Since I was here first and just saved you the trouble of the Bloodblade, how about you share your name, then I'll give mine?" Came the soft voice through the card once more.

She was silent for a moment. "Maranae. I would tell you more if I had more to tell." She took a deep breath, calming her nerves. "And yours?"

"Ah'Har." The Istani replied coolly, happy to have a name to put to that face. He might tip his hand just a bit if she had the resources to get in her so quickly, but perhaps that would play in his favor, "I will tell you this for free. That man is a bad man from Istan City. The Bloodblade, a ruthless and messy assassin who is more of an exterminator, leaving few alive from collateral damage. Bad luck that he would be here, but good luck for you that I am here.

"These people, Ergo, they are supplying bandits with equipment, but they are just another stop on the line I am hunting. I need to find the head or else all I can do is delay the shipments. So, why are you here, then?"

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