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The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

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    Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

    "That would be me," replied the Elynsorian noble. He briefly scanned over Valtes' group, failing to give Rhea more than just a cursory glance, then resumed. "I imagine you lot are here about the job?"

    "Yeah," was all that Valtes said, shortly, already waiting for him to continue.

    "Ah, good. I hope these three aren't all you have? Though I suppose the task could still be done like this, perhaps, given good timing..."

    "No way," exclaimed Diggs. "There's a lot more of us! They're just uh... relaxing in the Stalls."

    "I see. Good, good. Certainly one of the places I would be, if I were of your stock," replied the noble. "At any rate, this is the job. You see, one of my... business rivals has started a new shop near the Royal Magic Academy. It's been oddly successful in such a short amount of time. Lately, I found out as to why. Let's just say that he hasn't exactly been playing by the rules. Undercutting prices, using slander to ruin the good reputation of my more well-established chains of fine sellers."

    "That's against the uh, 'rules'? Thought it was something lots of merchants did," said Thohn, which only earned a slight look of annoyance by the leader of the Thorns.

    "Shit if I know."

    "Well, yes, there are unwritten rules that many business owners in that district in particular abide by. This rival that I speak of apparently pays no respect for such regulations. Surely, I am not one to allow such blatant disregard of establishment, otherwise it may become a trend. Others would soon show the same disrespect for others. So, this clearly needs a proper sanction. Your task is simple. I want you to go into his shop, Ahlgren's Magical Goods, at night, and just smash it up. Can even steal some of the product if you want."

    "The fuck are we gonna do with magical stuff we don't even know how to use?" asked Diggs.

    "Then just destroy what you find, ruin it. Either way is fine by me. Whatever you do though, make it look like the work of random thugs--which you are, of course. I am not to be incriminated in this."

    "All I need to know," replied Valtes. "What about pay?"

    "Oh, don't worry about that. Provided you do a good enough job of discouraging them, it will save the rest of us business owners quite a good amount. As such, I can promise the lot of you 10,000 gold up front to divide amongst yourselves."

    Diggs and Thohn's eyes widened in astonishment. Valtes, on the other hand, didn't flinch. "15,000," said the physically imposing brute.

    "Hah, already bargaining! I'm tickled. 12,000 up front, the rest depending on what comes of this deal."

    "It will be a good job," assured Valtes. "That I can promise."

    "Good," replied the noble. "Then you'll have no complaints when you see the rest of your pay."

    Even as Rhea tried to sink into the background, and would successfully do so for the most part, she would still feel at least one set of eyes on her. It wasn't aimed at her legs, nor her chest or any other part of her womanly assets, but upon her face for once. Something told her that it wasn't the typical, lust-filled gaze of a Redclaw thug.

    A look for the source would reveal it without much trouble, one of the Brevnian's slaves--the Gremic girl who had been serving tea earlier. The servant said nothing while her gaze homed in on the thief's position at every given chance... and while Rhea could easily tell she was being examined, judged even, whether that was happening with curiosity, envy, contempt, or something else entirely, was difficult to discern.

    Her master seemed to pay more attention to his slave than to Rhea, and snapped his fingers.

    "Aeta... Aeta!"
    As if waking up from a daydream, the slave girl's body jolted upright, and for a moment her somewhat expressionless facade dropped and showed a look somewhere between surprise and terror... but only for a split second before the facade restored itself in an instant. She turned to acknowledge the voice.

    "Vhy are you so distracted? Vat silly sing has you shirking in your attentifness, hmm?"
    The Brevnian's tone was soft, even polite, but it had an odd bend to it. There was something predatory about it, as if challenging the slave to come up with a satisfying answer that would prevent later retribution behind closed doors.

    "Just now I was reminded to be grateful for my blessings and good fortune," answered the girl softly.

    "Ah, ja. As vahn should. Und zose in ze light of Erion should not grow accustomed to its varmth, else zey forget about zose subject to ze chill ov ze Void," pronounced the Brevnian master, in a quote that Rhea might have heard a priest say at one point or another.

    With that, the slave bowed her head in acknowledgement and and continued with her apparent duties. For the moment at least, Rhea would be free from any more of her examinations.

    Between Valtes and Liberham, the negotiations had ended.

    "I expect this to be done within the week," said Liberham, pushing forward a hefty sack of coin, which the gang leader picked up with one hand.

    "It'll be done in a day," replied Valtes firmly.

    The trio took their leave from the rather lavish room, back towards the Stalls.

    "So all we gotta do is smash up a place? Easy money," said Diggs.
    Last edited by Takimaru; 17th March 2016, 03:58.
    Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


      Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

      Rhea remained silent as the job was being explained and the price negotiated. She had learned to let Valtes handle this sort of work on his own, he didn't need her cutting in. In fact, as much as it grated against her pride, she knew that it would be better for these sorts of negotiations if she kept quiet. She'd already seen enough in this place to understand what these people thought of her, so despite her actual position within the Thorns it seemed best not to try to act like she had any authority.

      One look at the obvious slaves these men had brought with them told her all she needed to know about how she'd be viewed, and it wasn't worth the effort or the risk of hurting their relationship with their employer to correct those assumptions. Not only that, but she wasn't sure how easy it would be to offend them, or what lengths they'd go to if she did. It would likely be a relatively simple matter for them to do whatever they wanted with her here, the Thorns weren't nearly strong or influential enough to protect her from men like these, if they'd even be willing to stick their necks out for her in the first place.

      The job itself was simple enough, though not particularly well suited to Rhea's particular talents. She was a thief, one who relied on getting in and out quietly, or quickly swiping something without being noticed. This job was far too noisy and obvious for her tastes. Still the pay was more than good, and most of the rest of the Thorns were better suited to this sort of work anyway. And it would get her out of this place for a while, which was welcome.

      The fact that the shop sold items of a magical nature immediately caused a plan to begin to form in her mind as well. She still needed to resolve this situation with Blue, and the memory crystal that even now she was checking was still safely in her pocket. He'd mentioned how expensive it was as a reason he couldn't just let her take it, but they were being given free reign to loot the place. If she could get a replacement she'd be in a better position to negotiate, and hopefully weasel her way out of repeat visits. She wouldn't mind taking a few more for herself either, if they had a decent stock. If she could figure out how to make them work they'd certainly be useful.

      It was at that moment that she noticed a pair of eyes on her. Oddly, it was none of the men in the room, as she briefly met the gaze of one of the slave girls. She gave a questioning look in return, not quite understanding what interest the girl had in her to stare so intently, but it seemed that her master had also noticed her distraction, if not the source. Rhea frowned at the girl's fearful reaction when he called for her attention, and even deeper at the exchange that followed.

      It was a reminder of the narrow line she was walking simply by being here. The exchange reminded her more of someone reprimanding an unruly pet than words spoken between humans. Part of that came with the wealth or status the man obviously held, those sorts always seeming to patronize those beneath him, but there was something more too, and it made her uncomfortable. She seemed... too passive, too docile, and Rhea couldn't help but wonder what had been done to her to make her that way. Even worse, she couldn't tell if the man was simply acting superior—as his type always seemed to do—or if what she vaguely recalled as religious scripture he'd recited meant that he truly believed he had done her a favour in treating her like this.

      Luckily she would be spared needing to remain much longer, as Valtes and their employer quickly concluded their business. She quickly fell in line behind their leader as he left the room, breathing an audible, if quite sigh of relief as soon as they were away. The atmosphere of the place had made it simply impossible to relax, especially with her confusion regarding the girl's attention.

      "Don't get too overconfident." Rhea quickly fell back into her usual role among the Thorns as they began the walk back to the Stalls, with some comfort in the familiarity. She'd been a thief for a long time, and had worked alone for years before joining Valtes. She'd never have made it as long as she did if she hadn't learned to think things through, to expect and prepare for danger around every corner. Something many of the more thuggish Thorns never seemed to consider. She didn't really understand magic, but that only made her more wary about this particular location. "It's a shop that sells to mages, and right near the Academy. Who knows if the owner's set up some kind of magic traps to protect the place from looters? That stuff is expensive, and besides that there's bound to be more guards around that close to the Academy."


        Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

        Diggs rolled his eyes. He paused, as if considering something. Would he rat her out right then and there for putting out to Blue, in response to a mere warning that annoyed him?

        Instead, he gave the girl a knowing grin and shook his head.
        "Aw, c'mon, Rhea. You seriously think some magic shop owner is gonna lace every part of their little store with traps that could seriously kill somebody? Besides, it's in Elynsor's inner circle--like, one of the safest districts as far as these rich folk are concerned!"

        "But... even we can get in there, if it's at night," Thohn chimed in.

        "Yeah, so long as we duck the guards. That's prolly the main thing we gotta worry about," replied Diggs. "But we've done this before, ya know? I just don't think this shop is gonna be any different. And hell, if it does, we can always send the rookie Sammon in first? Hah."

        Valtes made an annoyed grunt, as if telling them to 'shut up', and the others fell silent. The group made their way back through the bar, and back down into the Chambers, where many of the Thorns were sitting outside the Stalls, smoking and exchanging stories amongst themselves. The hulking leader of the gang stopped in front of them, and motioned with his head for them to leave.

        "Penadin's not quite done yet," said Coinall, a long-standing member of the Thorns. "You know how he gets with mage girls..."

        "Then tell him to hurry the fuck up," said Valtes.

        Coinall nodded twice and spared his leader the trouble of hurrying a frustrated Penadin up, yelling a few choice words into the stalls. Minutes later, the second-in-command emerged, frowning and fastening the front of his trousers.

        "What? What's so damn urgent that we can't hang around here for a few more hours or so?"

        "We have a job," said Valtes flatly, yet loudly.

        "Oh. Well, shit, great."

        "And some new rooms," added the alpha male.

        "Thanks to Rhea," said Diggs, his gently grinning expression hinting that he knew more than he was putting on.

        "Ohhh, put that little pussy of yours to work for once, did ya?" teased Penadin with a grin--he may or may not have picked up Diggs' face as a suggestive tell. "Alright, lead us to them!"

        Valtes looked towards Rhea. "Where are these rooms? Let's all see them first. Then, tonight, we do the job."
        Last edited by Takimaru; 13th April 2016, 19:36.
        Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


          Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

          "Shut it, Penadin." Rhea shot the man a glare, hand instinctively checking the crystal in her pocket again. She needed to find some time—privately—to just destroy the thing, but she hadn't had that chance yet. Maybe she could just smash it up along with some others in the shop, once they got there, and nobody would know the difference. Sighing, she motioned for everyone to follow her as she started walking "Come on, they're this way."

          Once they had made it to the rooms again, once Valtes had a chance to look around the place, Rhea pulled him off into one of the side rooms for a moment. She'd been putting this off since the morning, and now thanks to Blue it was even more important that she do something about it before they left.

          "So, um, sorry to bring this up now, but after what we did this morning... I'd really like to get ahold of something to make sure I'm not going to get pregnant." She shifted a little awkwardly, eyes quickly scanning the doorway to make sure nobody else was listening in. "I know they've got something for that around here, but after that incident with the military division guys earlier, I'm not sure it's a good idea for me to be walking around alone down here."

          Rhea didn't like feeling like some helpless damsel, needing to ask Valtes to escort her everywhere, but she really was afraid of what might happen if she went anywhere alone down here. Even if she wasn't one of the slaves, nobody here seemed to think any better of her, and that probably wouldn't stop them. It wasn't that she wasn't confident in her abilities, she was pretty sure she could handle herself in a one on one fight against most of the random thugs that seemed to populate this place, but she doubted it would be that simple. Everyone seemed to roam in groups, and she wasn't confident in her chances if a group of these thugs decided they wanted to do something with her.


            Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

            "Oh. Uh... yeah," Valtes murmured in response, his eyes wandering down somewhere below Rhea's neckline for a second. "They've got an apothecary. Let's go."

            He threw his chin in the direction of the hallway, and gave Penadin a look before leaving. "Hold the place down. We're going out for a few."

            "Whatever you say, boss," uttered the former mage with a sly grin, his gaze shifting to Rhea momentarily. "Don't get too busy now."

            Then, it was just Rhea and Valtes, making their way through increasingly familiar corridors back towards the west... or what the thief girl might guess to be such a bearing. The streets of Elynsor's capital were not strange to her in the least, but the labyrinth still was. At times it was difficult to tell where one section ended and another began. Walks like these, however, at least helped familiarize her with the main avenues.

            Luckily, the apothecary wasn't too far. Only a few branched routes from where the bar was, the initial area was rather small, with a wide wooden counter that most shops claimed, though the rows of shelves beyond hinted that it was a much larger area in the back. Attending was a lanky, balding old man with a devious look almost permanently stuck to his face. If anyone would be a regular visitor of the Stalls, he may very well be, given his apparent unattractiveness and glee in working here.

            "Birth control," said Valtes flatly, placing his new emblem--that of the Redclaw Syndicate--on the counter for the shopkeeper to see.

            "Oh?" replied the man with a knowing smirk. "Morning after, or daily?"

            "Both. A week's supply of the daily."

            "Hohoh. New slave then, I see? Got to make sure they don't lose their value too fast, indeed. Get some good use out of her, huh? A moment, please." He retreated to the back with a wooden box under one arm, knowing exactly where to find what Valtes sought. The shopkeep returned with one large vial and seven smaller ones.

            "Here you are," said the attendant, placing the goods on the counter. "Thorns, right? Heheh... yes, you'll find that the benefits here are quite nice."

            "Yeah," was all that Valtes said before scooping up the vials and walking out of the room. He placed them in Rhea's hands once they were out of the lecherous shopkeeper's sight.

            "We don't gotta worry about that for a while," quipped the gang leader. Not that he ever seemed too concerned with it in the past, as nothing really stopped him from letting it all out inside of Rhea whenever he pleased.

            The pair returned to the new rooms that Rhea had helped earn with her body, and the series of looks that she received from her own teammates certainly didn't help any insecurities that may have been lingering in the back of her mind about such a fact. Had Diggs told everyone else? Chuckles and murmurs seemed to travel back and forth through the room like a tide.

            Valtes raised a brow and looked to Rhea. "Somethin' wrong? We only got a few more hours to kill 'til the job."
            Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


              Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

              "Thanks." Rhea nodded gratefully as she followed Valtes out. She couldn't shake the nervousness she was feeling though, even as they left the rest of the gang behind. She'd been hoping being alone with Valtes would help, but she wasn't feeling any better. It wasn't a case of love, despite their relationship she'd never really loved Valted. She liked him well enough, certainly, and he had saved her from an awful fate when she'd been caught. He had always made her feel safe, but now it simply wasn't enough. This place, the knowledge of what she was hiding from him... it all kept her on edge.

              She barely even reacted when the man behind the counter called her a slave, but the fact that Valtes didn't deny it left her feeling a little insecure. She knew it was most likely just for the sake of expediency, there was no need to correct him, but it made her think about how vulnerable she was, how much power Valtes actually had over her. If he decided he wanted her to be a slave, nobody would raise a hand to stop him, despite the value of her other talents. Management of the Thorns themselves was left to Valtes despite them now being under the employ of the syndicate, so if he suddenly decided he wanted to declare her his slave he could do it, and there was nothing she could do about it.

              She willed herself to relax, there was no sign Valtes was even considering that. She still didn't know exactly what Valtes thought of her, whether he was only in this relationship with her for the sex of if he cared for her beyond that. That was why she was so afraid of how he'd take the knowledge of what she'd done with Blue.

              That was something she was regretting more and more with each passing moment. No matter what she got out of it, it wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth all the worry it was causing her, and it wasn't worth... selling herself like that. She'd never done that, never taken that route. She could have, she knew full well that she was seen as quite attractive. She'd never had any luck finding honest work, but it had always been an alternative, and she'd never considered it. Even with Valtes, while it wasn't a relationship of love, it was still far more than that. So why now? Why had she given that up so easily?

              This place was getting to her, that was the only answer she could come up with. She'd been too afraid to say no, and now she was stuck.

              She took the vials wordlessly, tucking the set of smaller ones away in one of the pouches on her belt. They were padded enough that they should protect the vials from any softer impacts at least, having been designed or stashing delicate trinkets while on the job. Cringing ahead of time at what was likely to be an unpleasant taste, the downed the 'morning after' concoction right there, around the corner from the shop. She needed something to set her mind at ease, if only about one of many concerns.

              "I just haven't got used to this place yet," Rhea responded simply to Valtes' question once they made it back to the rest of the gang, doing her best to ignore the others. She didn't want to know what they were talking and laughing about. Didn't want to think about it. "Still puts me on edge, makes it hard to relax."


                Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

                The potion that Rhea quaffed proved itself undeniably and perhaps expectedly bitter, slightly sour, and with a hint of saltiness. Anything but sweet, of course, as if to remind her of the consequences from the choices she had made with both Valtes and Blue. Whatever momentary pleasures she had felt earlier that day, she made up for them in that moment with the foul taste of the morning after potion.

                "Yeah? Huh," replied Valtes gruffly. "I get ya. No turf lines here... or less of 'em. Gotta mix it up with guys we woulda killed on the streets," he added, sharing the sentiment somewhat. The massive man walked into the bedroom that Rhea had worked so hard to secure for the two and then waited for his woman to follow him in, shutting the door behind them and leaving the other Thorns to their lively and animated banter.

                He sat down on the bed cushion, testing its firmness with a few testing taps of his fist. "Well, I'm still here. So relax," he said simply, as if commanding the girl to put her worries to rest that very moment. As if to show that he had already done so, he would lay back upon the mattress, causing it to creak slightly as he reclined with an arm behind his head.

                He then looked directly at Rhea and crooked a large, beckoning finger towards himself, directing for her to join him. After all, they still had a few hours to kill before the upcoming job...
                Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


                  Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

                  Rhea didn't bother to correct Valtes on his interpretation of her worries. In truth, she hadn't even thought too hard about that outside of their encounter with the Scarmarked, too busy with everything else that put her on edge about this place. Could she really live in a place like this? It didn't seem too bad like this as she looked around the bedroom Valtes had led her to, even with the unpleasant memories regarding how they got it. That would all change once they stepped back out into the halls though, when she once again had to see all those other women and what the people here did to them.

                  Did Valtes truly not see how that would bother her? He would thrive in a place like this, he was good at what he did and intimidating enough to keep people from messing with him. Rhea was good at what she did too, but that wasn't what these people saw when they looked at her. Only a few hours after arriving she'd already had someone wanting to buy her, thinking she was just another one of the slaves. Could she ever relax in this place?

                  Valtes said he would protect her of course, and she believed him, but how long would that last? It couldn't last forever, surely, that just wasn't the sort of relationship they had. Would he still be so willing to protect her if this ever ended? Did he value her other skills enough? She hated the fact that she'd never been able to answer that question.

                  "Right..." She righted, taking a seat next to him. She could already guess what it was he was after, and normally she wouldn't have minded. As much as his sex drive was certainly much stronger than her own, by no means did Rhea dislike it. She really wasn't in the mood right now though, not after everything that had happened so far today, and her dejected expression would likely be enough to suggest that fact to Valtes if he looked.

                  Rhea just wasn't sure what to do with herself anymore. It said a lot about how uncomfortable she was with this situation that she was even considering the possibility of simply disappearing on this job. It was something she'd done before, and she knew that nobody in the Thorns would be able to track her down if she really did it. She'd have to move on, find somewhere else. The Syndicate had too many eyes around here for her to ever be safe if they thought she knew anything dangerous or simply held a grudge. There were plenty of places to go though, especially if she took her share of loot from this job with her. Could she really do that though? Could she really leave behind the only companionship she'd had for so long? As much as she disliked some of the other Thorns, some weren't so bad. She didn't want to lose the safety such a group provided yet again, but she was still left wondering if she was really safe here at all.


                    Re: The Razor's Edge (Knephi) GMed by Takimaru

                    Either Valtes didn't notice his subordinate's dejected expression, or he didn't care, as when she took a seat beside him, he wasted no time in wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close, so that she might lay her head on his broad chest or shoulder. But his hands didn't wander any further than that, which was likely a good sign. The brutish leader of the Thorns wasn't much for subtlety, and if he really wanted to have Rhea, he'd likely have her in a far more compromising position by now. Instead, he seemed content to lay there with Rhea in relative relaxation, leaving the two not terribly unlike that of lovers in their arrangement if a total stranger were to gaze upon them.

                    But there was no such witness this time, luckily, leaving Rhea to unwind with Valtes in peace. It was the first time the Thorns' sole female had also been this physically close to their leader without sex being expected of her immediately afterwards (or perhaps beforehand). He idly ran one of his massive hands through her hair, giving her as close as he could possibly make to a few comforting strokes upon her back afterwards. Lately, he had been treating her far less like a glorified relief device and more like a lover, and this behavior certainly helped in hinting that some degree of romantic feelings might be budding beneath the man's rough exterior.

                    Valtes lightly held Rhea to his warm, firm body, feeling no need to feed her any words--not that he did much anyway--but instead looked content to simply be. This continued until Rhea would glance up at him, eventually finding the massive gangster with his eyes closed. Fast asleep. If she didn't have to go through the other Thorns on the way out, she could simply leave him here... or perhaps attempt worse, if she were so inclined. If anything, it was quite the show of trust at this point. From there, Rhea could wait it out or join Valtes in his slumber until the time came.


                    If she chose to fall asleep, Rhea would wake to find Valtes sitting on the edge of the bed in quiet contemplation, perhaps just a few hours later. It was difficult to track just how much time had passed, but it was likely not more than two or three hours.

                    "Alright... time to head out. Let's get moving," said the leader of the Thorns, tilting his head to one side then the other to cause a few cricking noises. With a toss of his chin, he motioned for Rhea to follow him, and a brief wave of the hand towards the rest of the gang once the pair entered the larger room would command them to follow his lead.

                    The group strode through the halls of the Rogues' Division, and while it certainly felt like they owned the place, at least with the way Penadin and some of the others were strutting, Rhea already knew that was far from the truth. They had much to do in order to even earn their spot as mainstays in such an organization, and this first mission was only the start of what would be a large series of criminal tasks.

                    Eventually, they came to a corridor with steps going upwards at its very end, and once they ascended the staircase, Valtes would raise open a cellar door, continuing through it. The Thorns found themselves in the back room of some tavern, which at the time seemed empty, until they continued on to the front. The barkeep, an inexplicably well-dressed man who proved still awake at this time of night, gave them a slight nod. A glance through the windows to the outside would show Rhea that it was pitch black out--the perfect time for breaking and entering.

                    The female rogue could tell from the lacquered, polished tables and chairs that this was no low-class establishment; if anything, it was the opposite. This restaurant was within Elynsor's capital's 'inner circle', which the city's nobles, knights and mages called home. Only shops for the society's elites could be set up here, showing that even the lowly Rogues' Division had avenues into its more protected parts. The Thorns moved out into the streets with relative haste, and Valtes pointed a finger to the right, nodding towards Rhea, who was sent forward to scout for any night watch guards.

                    Their immediate street, lined by one side with a wall beyond which the Royal Magic Academy stood, and with numerous blocks of shops on the other, had were no sentries in sight. However, a bit further down, looking across an alley to her right, Rhea could spot one watchman with a lantern in hand. Luckily, the figure didn't notice her, and kept walking past, further and further away from the Thorns' current position. Their best bet was to move forward, which Rhea could signal however she liked.

                    Only a few blocks down, Ahlgren's Magical Goods could be found. It was a smaller a relatively humble shop compared to the many storefronts that Rhea saw on the way there. Still, orders were orders, and the other Thorns were already looking for ways in. The glass window didn't appear to have any iron bars behind it, and so Diggs took it upon himself to locate a sizeable rock, the size of a fist, in order to break through...
                    Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.