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An Empty Confessional (Hafnium) GMed by Takimaru

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    Re: An Empty Confessional (Hafnium) GMed by Takimaru

    "Fertian tarts? Very well, I'll be back with some soon, so be good and be safe." the nun assured the child with a gentle smile. Afterward, she would gather her coins and leave through the back door. She chose to remain in her habit, assuming that it would be safer for that time of day. She was hopeful that wearing the countenance of a cleric of Erion in the daylight would grant her some protection from the snooping mercenaries, even in such a pagan place.

    Attempting to deflect their attention seemed to prove wise, as Trinaldo's offered reward apparently had them highly motivated and practically tearing apart the town. She had no intention of allowing them to wring anything from her even if they did approach her, but it was still best to go under the radar if she could, even if their treatment of the merchants did leave a bad taste in Tessa's mouth. Not that she'd have ever entrusted her own safety to the town guard regardless, but it was shocking to see just how ineffectual they were in preventing such wide scale harassment. To think that a banker who survived on the suffering of the weakest had such power. It made her blood boil.

    All the more reason to try to get Ayna and Cael out of the city as quickly as possible. Though with the current level of mercenary activity and the way they were actively harassing the merchants, even hiding the mother and her child in a cart and trying to slip it past the gates probably wouldn't be safe for a few more days. Beyond that, Tessa would need to find either a righteous person or a stupid one to do the work when the time was right, because there was no way she'd be able to come up with enough coins to counter the reward Trinaldo was offering.

    All that together meant that she needed to shop for several day's worth of food. While normally such a number of coins would've meant her shopping for legumes or maybe even some meat and then the usual quantity of vegetables and grain, any amount of cooking at the church would draw attention. Plus she needed options which would keep for a few days without a larder.

    With that in mind, she decided that fruit, vegetables, and bread were probably her best options for now. Bread was relatively cheap while vegetables and fruit were a bit pricier, but all three were ready to eat with minimal preparation. If she kept her budget down to six or seven coins, she might even still have enough left over to convince a merchant caravan unaware of Trinaldo's reward to take two people a few miles out of town.

    As fate would have it, however, she would find the sweets she was looking for first. The price made her wince, but she would keep her word for Cael, especially if the sugary bribe was enough to make him less of a handful. Tessa eyed the selection, even as the peddler went into her sales pitch, glancing over it for the requested tarts. Before she could make her purchase, however, the mercenary would interrupt by snatching up a pastry and beginning to eat it. It seemed harassing the merchants wasn't enough, now they were plainly stealing from them, and that had Tessa grinding her teeth.

    She wanted to chastise him, as a cleric of Erion rightly ought to chastise a thief who was likely being paid as well as Urstan, but she couldn't afford to draw too much attention from someone who was likely one of Trinaldo's mercenaries. The safety of Ayna and Cael were more important than her righteous anger, and she had long ago become skilled in swallowing her rage and her words. What she could do, however, was to ensure that the old woman was paid for her troubles.

    "I will give you the coin if you'll give me the other strudel, and I'll pay you another coin for fertian tarts." The nun would produce two coins from her purse and offer them to the woman. "My sweet tooth wasn't quite so insatiable, but Erion doubtless put this opportunity in front of me for a reason. Perhaps I'll come across another sufferer with an uncontrollable pastry craving." She couldn't help but make a quip at the man's expense, nor the chance to inform him that she'd take the second strudel and donate it to someone else rather than offering it to him. Even if she wanted to avoid drawing his ire, the opportunity was too therapeutic to pass up.


      Re: An Empty Confessional (Hafnium) GMed by Takimaru

      The man finished chewing his dessert, his expression gradually drooping, only to turn an eye to Tessa. He raised a brow at her unexpected act of charity, and shook his head with the beginning breath of a chuckle, though it never quite turned into an actual laugh. "Hah. A cleric of Erion, huh... so, what, yer payin' fer me now? Do ye 'e'en know wot kind ov man oi am?"

      He would allow a brief silence to pass, unless the nun made it a point to interject, before continuing. "If ye buy one fer me, ye might joost end oop havin' ta buy one fer e'ery sellsword here. An' dere are a lot ov us, damn. Business is good," explained the stranger. "We don't need yer money here. Ye moight be from de north, but dat doesn't matter out here. Erion doesn't gife a fook about wot goes on in Cerawal, oi'd say dat's obvious enoof." Producing a grip of coins from his pocket, he allowed them to trickle like sand onto the woman's stand until a small pile had formed, as if to show his wealth. "Dis. Dis is de god dat rules here."

      "I'm tellin' ye now, yer too damn kind--er just naive--fer a place like dis. Peeple here don't deserve shit--dey gotta take it. Better leafe while ye can. 'Specially seeing as yer a woman... ye know we're near da souddern border, roight? De slafe trade is strong in deese parts. Cleric er not, dere are fates worse den death awehitin' someone loik you if ye stick yer nose in da wrong business," said the mercenary firmly. He proceeded to walk away without another word, perhaps feeling that he had served Tessa up a hard dose of reality.

      "T... thank you..." the old woman said awkwardly as he began to walk off, failing to elicit any kind of response from the dismissive merc. She then looked to Tessa and shrugged. "I guess you can have the tarts and the strudel. I suppose I should pass your kindness along now, even if his didn't seem... sincere." She didn't hesitate to scoop the pile into her own purse, but did so with an awkward smile in response to the somewhat bittersweet moment.

      Out of the corner of her eye, near the main road, Tessa spotted a familiar face--it was Trinaldo, surrounded by a sizable posse of his men as per usual. He did not look particularly pleased, given that his men were not showing their most competent side during this search.

      Naturally, most of the citizens knew better than to get in his way... save for one. There was a man who intentionally stumbled into Trinaldo's path. His clothes, of fairly nice make, were covered in dirt and visibly worn, as if he had just been dragged behind a horse. There were bruises upon his face, and a crooked line of dried blood trailing from his hairline to his cheek.

      "Please, good sir! Have you any coin to spare? My name is Yethan, a traveling merchant. I was robbed by bandits on the road, but only barely managed to escape here. I only need enough to get a ride back north, and I'll be sure to remember your kindness!"

      Trinaldo looked at him flatly. The banker had a way of being frightening enough when he was in a good or patronizing mood, but it was clear that this was not one of his better days. He rolled his eyes and put forth an ironic grin, though his fist remained clenched at his side.

      "Hahahaha... aaaaah, man. Now we've got a new beggar in town, huh? Say, 'Yethan', if that even is your real name. Do you even know how many fuckin' people here owe me money?"

      His question earned him a confused look from the merchant, but he continued nonetheless. "You give a handout, and suddenly everyone's reaching at you, begging for more! It's almost like everyone here is a low-life, irresponsible PIECE OF SHIT who doesn't keep their word, and I'm the only one who bothers to pay back what is owed! How fuckin' hard is that, huh? Why don't you go ahead and tell me!"

      Yethan could produce no answer. Trinaldo then proceeded to walk straight forward, as if through him, but the tattered one lightly grabbed his coat. In response, the banker struck him across the face, and pointed to a nearby alley. Three of his six bodyguards quickly grabbed the hapless merchant and seemed to be escorting him in the direction that Trinaldo had ordered.
      Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.