Forum Story: Chapter 1

polymorphikos

Scrofulous Fig-Merchant
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Haj thought in terms of tactics. right now he had one fit human female tin front of him, a potential threat all though an unlikely one. In the doorway was what appeared to be a swamp monster of some form. Haj may have lived amongst the civilised peoples for several years, but he still believed in swamp monsters.

This one had green eyes and an odd look about it. On closer inspection it was a human. A female human.

Two female humans, both unknowns. Probably easily taken. The muddy one looks tired.
Haj slid the dirk into his sleeve and smiled warmly. He was wondering if maybe something bad would happen. It generally did whenever he was accosted to by two women in a bedroom. So many bizzare memories.

"Who are you?" he asked politely, slapping the pink-haired one's hand as it made for his purse.

"Overly curious," said the muddy woman.

"What is going on?" said Alvis muggily, "and if it is what I hope it is can I join in? You can have the muddy one."

"Shut up," said Haj.
 

Hypes

Emperor!
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(I noticed - I am keeping both versions in the compiled edition for the time being)
 

polymorphikos

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The muddy woman presented herself as Vey, and muttered something uncertain about eels or eeling. That might go a way towards explaining why she was so muddy. Eeling could be tricky buisness.

"And what do you want?" asked Alvis, who was twiddling his sword unjustifiably. He had seated himself, and was eying the pink-haired woman with a great deal more than idle curiosity.

"I was simply coming to keep an eye on this one." She gesture at the pink-haired one. "Force of habit, I suppose. She seemed up to no good."

"What's your name?" Haj asked the thief.

"Judith."

"Judith?" said Haj. "What kind of a name is Judith?"

"It is a very old and auspicious one. Can I just - OWW!" She held her smarting hand and stopped trying to pick-pocket him.

"Anyway," said Haj, "If you're not here for any good reason then leave. There are things to be done and places to be and this is all a potential impediment."

"But I thought that we were going to - OWW!" Alvis held his smarting hand and stopped trying to pick-pocket Judith.

"I just wanted a few marks to tide me over,"

"That's nice. See me in the morning, then. And you -" Haj pointed at Vey. "Thankyou, and here's a mark for your troubles."

The two women were ushered out of the room, and both stood side by side listening to the sounds of a chair being hooked under the latch. Then a bed creaked, and a moment later someone began to snore.

"OWW, damnit!" came the voice of Alvis.

"Go to 'eep, 'ief," came a muffled voice.

Judith looked at Vey and smiled.

"Fancy a pint?"
 

Esioul

The weird one
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Vey wasn't really a drinker, but decided to have a pint anyway.
"Can you afford it?" she asked, dubiously.

Judith allowed herself a small smile. "Of course. I'm rich, now." She paid for three pints, deciding that she needed two, being a deserving cause.

"Well" Said Vey, "What are you here for?"
"What are you here for?"
"Nothing much."
Judith considered. "I'm looking for work- I thought their might be some here. I'd heard some rumours...."
Vey looked up. "What sot of rumours?"
Judith was now beginning to have difficulty in speaking clearly, which was a probpem, because she was lowering her voice and trying to look furtive. "Rumours about pebbles..."
 

polymorphikos

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Haj awoke to the sounds of air being cut. The atmosphere whistled and hummed and metal sang like a deadly bird. He opened one eye, and watched Alvis spin his scimitar through the air as though it were an extension of his body. It flew and twisted and parried ghosts and shadow, and sliced through the air mere inches above Haj’s midsection courtesy of the room’s cramped space.



Haj had to admit that Alvis could fight. Very well, at that. Himself, he was the muscle of the organisation. He imposed, where as Alvis charmed. The man had a mind as sharp as his sword.



Thinking along these lines, Haj began to wonder about the riddle. He hadn’t actually asked the answer yet. He cleared his throat cautiously, because surprising someone in sword practice was tantamount to suicide.



“Yes?” said Alvis, twirling the blade and flicking sweat from his eyes.



“I was wondering.”



“About the riddle.”



“Yes, the riddle.”



“Well, oddly enough, the pebble is nowhere near as <huff> important as we <huff> thought. Atleast, for the second bit. We still <huff> need it for the first bit.”



“Oh.” Haj began to feel somewhat useless. “Are you certain we still need it?”



“Certain.” And he continued practicing his murder skills.
 

Sirathiel

Spy with looks and guts
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Vey found out the hard way that sleeping at a table made for an unpleasant feeling afterwards. She tried stretching her cramped muscles. That lessened the pain a bit, but it didn't make it go away entirely. A look towards Judith told her that the other woman would have just the same problems when she woke up.

The tavern was less crowded at this time of the day and its patrons were mostly still sleeping, unaware of the hangovers they would have once they regained conciousness.

As if of their own volition, her thoughts wandered back to the events of the evening. Vey wondered if this situation might be useful for her. She had left her home in the far south to find a place where her healing abilities and she herself were appreciated.

Last night, she had come to like Judith and had listened attentively to all she had said. These rumours of pebbles intrigued her and she thought that she might have seen just such a pebble in Haj's and Arvis' room. Right before a searing pain in her right arm had warned her of danger.

Her heritage as a halfblood did have advantages from time to time, she thought with a little smile. Then I groan from Judith's direction told her that the other woman was finally waking up.

With a sympathetic hand on Judith's shoulder, Vey asked: "Now that you've slept over everything, what is it you're planning to do?"
 

Esioul

The weird one
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Judith woke up feeling rather stiff and headachey. Her first thought on waking was, where am I? The second thought was, damn, I didn't get that pebble.

There was a slightly muddy red-haired healer beside her. Vey, Judith remembered somewhat hazily. Drink did often have that effect on her.

"What are you going to do?" Vey asked again. She stood up, scraping her chair across the floor, and Judith winced.
"Sleep... Oh, all right. We're going to follow those idiots with the pebble when we leave, and I'm going to steal it. Don't look at me like that- I need it. Are you coming?" She dragged herself up and then dragged Vey into a dim corner, behind a pillar.

Vey sighed. "What are we doing now?"
"Waiting for them. Oh, look- there they are."

Alvis and Haj were noisily exiting the pub, complaining of the cold as they opened the door. They were too busy arguing for quite some time as they pushed and shoved their way through Falle to notice a muddy woman in a cloak and a taller woman with her face hidden by her hat.
 

Hypes

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“We’re being followed.” Haj whispered.

The predicament of Falle had not changed much over the course of the night, despite the relief of weather. The full moon had stood guard in a sky for once devoid of rain clouds, its coterie of stars in close attendance. Still muddy, the road grasped at boots, and covered travellers in thick layers of muck and dirt.

Low, two-storey houses lined the streets, the Sunday wash hanging out to dry on low cords stretched between houses. Behind them was the tavern, its two signs swaying gently in the breeze, despite the proprietor’s best efforts to nail them down. ‘The Sickly Green Dragon’ announced the top sign in large, red letters. ‘No Poncy Elves!!’ added the lower sign helpfully.

“That, my friend has to be the oldest one in the book.” Came the flippant reply from his companion.

“Oh, shut up,” Haj said. “Those two characters from the tavern.”

“Which ones? There were quite a few of those ‘characters’ in that tavern. I daresay the entire patronage- present company excluded, cor- is made up of nothing but, ah, curious characters?”

Haj groaned. “Whatever did I do to have to put up with this fellow?” he lamented. “You know perfectly well who I’m talking about, you dolt- and don’t turn, for Belal’s sake. Muddy one, and the quick-fingered wench.”

“Ah, yes, those. Well, what do they want?”

“I don’t know! They’re the ones following us.”

“Yes, there’s that.” Alvis said, risking a quick glance over his shoulder. “She’s cute when she’s all clean, you know.”

“I’m sure. If you could stop your ogling, we have work to do. I have my doubts they’re adamant enough to follow us all the way to the mountains, in any case.”

“You’re right.” Alvis said.

“Did your little epiphany last night include a location?”

“Well. Depends on how you look at it, really.”

“What? Yes or no.”

“No need to be cross,” sulked Alvis.

“Stop being an idiot, then.” Said Haj.

“Fine, fine. You’re no fun, you know that, don’t see why I put up with your grumpy demeanour. Anyway, I reckon it’s thattaway,” he said, and pointed east.

“Good.”

“Pity there’s no sunset to walk into.”

“Oh, shut up, will you.”
 

Esioul

The weird one
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Vey was sure that the men they were following knew they were there- it was the quick, nervous glances that gave it away.
"They know we're following them!"
Judith just smiled. "I know. That's the whole point. Now, wait- they'll try to lose us."

Haj knew Falle rather well, so he and Alvis found it surprisingly easy to slip through narrow alleys and struggle through crowded markets, full of mud and theives and dangerous people. They had reached a quiet, disreputable courtyard, and seemed to have lost Judith and Vey some time ago.
"Now, that wasn't hard, was it?" said Haj, sitting down on a filthy crate.
"Yes, and it look all day- we really will have to walk off into the sunset" said Alvis. They noticed a small, ragged child staring at them.
"What do you want?" Alvis asked, annoyed.
"Dinner" she said, breifly, approaching them. Haj patted her on the head kindly and tossed her a penny, and she ran off.
"Waste of money, if you ask me" he said.
"You always waste your money" said Alvis.

Judith and Vey waited at the corner for the little girl. She approached them with a wistful, frightened expression.
"I couldn't get it" she said.
"Come on, come on, I know you've got it; and what do you need with an old pebble anyway? I'll give you a gold coin" Judith said firmly. The little girl grinned and held out her hand; a gold coin was exchanged for a pebble, Judith grinned, and Vey tutted. Before long they had purchased two horses with the rest of Haj's money, and were some way out of the town.

It was about this stage that Haj decided to check his pocket for the pebble.
 

polymorphikos

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The carriage rolled eastward, down out of the mountains and in the vague direction of the sea. Four bay mares were pulling it, and an old man sat at the board with a whip and an odd look about him. He kept glancing nervously down at the crossbow where it lay hidden beneath him, and then out into the unassuming forest. The day was bright, the sky blue, and the trees were well-spaced and glittering emerald with the morning dew. He thought about the crossbow nonetheless.

The road was in a poor condition, and the cart rumbled as it turned a corner and began down a straight towards the river, and a bridge. The bridge was extremely decrepit, but it had solid foundations that belied its appearance and would carry a laden wagon.

That was why the carriage-man was suprised when it collapsed. There was a long, crackling noise, a groan, and the entire bridge fell by one end into the water and was swept away. The sounds of the wood being shredded on the rocks could be heard for quite some time.

"Driver," said a very lady-like voice from inside the carriage, "Driver, why have we stopped?"

"The bridge, madam. It just collapsed."

There was some very unlady-like cursing and a head emerged from the window.

"Why did you take us to a bridge that was apt to fall down."

"It's never collapsed before, madam."

The carriage gave a jerk forward and then the horses ran away. The carriage did not follow them.

"Bandits!" said the carriage-man. He grabbed his crossbow eagerly and looked around with an unpleasant expression. The woman vanished back inside the carriage and there were the sounds of low talking. The carriage-man looked around at the base of the carriage, waiting for whoever had cut the reins to appear.

A suspicious-looking staff hit him in the face, and the crossbow fired as it his the ground. Somewhere nearby a fox yelped, leapt in the air, and died.

"Hello, milady," said the large man who happened to be holding the staff, "I was wondering if you could help us. We've been recieving reports of stolen artifacts being smuggled via this route, and we were wondering if you knew anthing about it?"

The opposite door of the carriage was pushed opened and the two women stepped out and faced a very sharp sword.

"Yes, you see, it appears that the thieves have a very unique way of operating. First they "case" the victim, to employ a vulgar term, then they gain their confidence. Once the item is stolen, it is an easy matter to organise a trade with the owner, and in the process steal further items and make away with the entire sum of booty before being detected." This man was also large, and certainly not very friendly.

"Really?" said the taller of the two women. "I don't know what you could mean."
 

Sirathiel

Spy with looks and guts
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"I checked my pocket regularly. Just to make sure with all these thieves around!" exclaimed a very agitated Haj while searching through all his pockets for the tenth time.

Alvis tried valiantly to stay calm and rational and asked Haj:"And when was the last time you did check if you still had the pebble?"

Haj froze and stared at Alvis incredously. "Just before that little girl came to get something to eat.", he said. "You don't think it could have been her...", he trailed off, going pale.

"Those two characters!" Alvis ground out in a dangerously icy voice, referring to Judith and Vey.

***

Vey threw another look back towards the city. A habit that was slowly but surely grinding on Judith's nerves.

"They're not following us. So quit worrying and quit. looking. back!", Judith hissed.

That earned her a slightly remorseful and apologetic look from Vey. But the redhead couldn't stay silent for very long. "Judith, now that we've got that pebble. What are we going to do with it?"

Judith answered her with a cold glare. "One, it is my pebble and two, that is none of your business!"

Now, Vey's temper started rising: "Listen, if you want it or not, we're in this together. And to be of any use to you, and believe me, I've got many talents, I need to know what all of this is about!"
 

Esioul

The weird one
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(Um, Poly, are we ignoring your last bit here? Sorry, I'm utterly confused now, and most of is my fault for not noticing everything in Andreas' post earlier, I didn't realise where all the characters were supposed to be).

Judith shrugged, and nudged her horse on, but the horse was tired and cross so she found herself level with Vey.
"I've heard the pebble is useful, for certain things. Have you heard of Holofernes?"
"Isn't he that new king in the south?" Vey said, wondering what was going on.
"Yes. I want his head on a plate, but I can't get anywere near him without this pebble. Come on, I want to reach somewhere relatively civilised before night."

Juidth and Vey, now that it was getting dark, where following the road as quickly as they could; Haj and Alvis were following Juidth and Vey as quickly as they could. Alvis had decided it was not worth speaking to Haj, who had not only lost the pebble, but had been beaten by a child. Haj, for his part, was in the process of deciding whether it might be better to sit down and cry in the middle of the road than to pursue the women, who had better horses.


(Sorry, couldn't resist calling him Holofernes, it seemed the obvious name, really!)
 

mac1

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
Nov 28, 2002
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561
wow I am really enjoying this, just read it all up to date, I might join in at some point along the line.
 

Esioul

The weird one
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Mar 25, 2004
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982
Ok, end here then. Anyone want to set up the thread for the next chapter?
 

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