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conador2
11-29-2009, 11:52 PM
Copypasta. Old fiction is old. Repost. Sage. Or possibly...


The Corvis Letters

?Aerdus, I have a favour to ask,? began Killeigh in a sultry and hypnotic tone that I recognized all too quickly. Her voice sounded softly from deep within her throat and without even looking up from my writing I knew that she would be leaning ever so slightly forward, pouting like a spoilt little girl and pushing the loose dirty blonde hair out of her face. She knew that presenting herself in such a manner would have no actual effect on any decision I was going to make but insisted on acting so every time she asked something of me out of some inexplicable desire people naturally felt to torment me.

I turned around to see that my suspicions had been correct. Her rumpled white blouse hung an inch too far open at the front as she leant over to talk directly into my ear, allowing the casual observer a tantalizing glimpse of the feminine mysteries that lay waiting underneath. Expecting such a wholly juvenile act however, I had already averted my gaze to meet her blue eyes, the obligatory lock of her hair dangling between me, and them. Killeigh laughed as I once again avoided her womanly wiles, as I would continue to do until she ceased to employ them in the war against my sheltered Morrowan sensibilities. She straightened up, swept her hair away with an inwardly turned palm and was once again the mild mannered university student that I usually associated with, instead of the wanton tart that she would bring out only to embarrass me or trick greedy and unpleasant men into thinking that she was not going to slit their throats.

?You are silly, Aerdus.? she said with a smile and patted me on the head as if I were an obedient animal, which was not too far from the truth. Since I had met Killeigh De?Fleur only half a year earlier, I had been her unwitting sidekick and accessory to any number of illegal and unethical acts. I was surprised to exit that brief period with my head, my sobriety and my virginity intact, as few of the people we encountered in our various nightly excursions had all three. Sadly, in the Undercity, keeping one of the three was considered admirable and people such as myself, both noble and virtuous in nature were few and far between, if their fabled existence could ever be truly agreed upon.

?I need you to do a little job for me that should include hardly anything illegal. I just need you to ask a few questions.?
The very fact that Killeigh had used the term ?hardly anything illegal? made me stop and dwell on how far I had fallen and whether or not my claims at being noble and virtuous were as lacking in stable foundations as Corvis, the city that I currently called my home.
?You see, my eighteenth winter is fast approaching, and I simply can?t abide surprises. As you are quite well aware, my parents are hardly ever home and to make up for their long and often unexplained absences they are quick to shower me with wealth and gifts. Since the coming birthday marks my step into adulthood, they are sure to be planning something spectacular for me and the thought of not knowing what it is keeps me up at night. Do you think you could put your ear to the ground and ask a few questions??

Her face was twisted in mock agony, her lip curled, her eyes down cast and her head hung. Believe me when I tell you that her request this time was out of the ordinary. Often she would ask things like ?I need you to go into the quad this afternoon and buy me some alchemicals.? Or worse, ?I need you to go down to the docks tonight and locate a burly looking man who is currently holding some alchemicals for me?? Sometimes she would need to know ?where the captain of the watch is likely to be tonight,? or ?who has been throwing around their cash in the gorax pits down in Five Fingers.? Tonight?s fairly mundane request was a pleasant surprise.
Normally I did not snoop around unless I knew that it would solve an imminent problem likely to threaten someone?s life, or if not snooping around would mean there was the imminent threat of adventure happening, something I tried to avoid at all costs even if it meant associating with what I considered to be ?the wrong people.?

Lately however, I had met a very interesting and useful person in the form of Samuel Martinet, an editor for the broadsheet that our beloved Corvis University produced on the sly against the edict that stated it was illegal to produce newsletters not sanctioned by the Cygnaran crown. He was different from most of the ?wrong people? I had met so far in that he found things out due to a genuine desire to know things and then tell them to other people, as opposed to knowing things to blackmail other people or to use them for personal gain or other less innocent criminal activities. While technically everything Samuel was doing was illegal, spreading the news wasn?t wrong as far as I could see, despite my often black and white views where the law is concerned.

Samuel is ?in the know? about everything happening in Corvis and for a few shields or even an interesting article that he could put in his broadsheet he would be quite happy to direct me to somebody who was bound to know if he did not know himself. He delighted in my articles, because he was always fascinated by the obscure legends that I dug up in my research, and how I managed to transform them into riveting tales of fear and horror, adventure and excitement. Modest, aren?t I. At least my skill with tales would allow me a more conventionally pleasant route to take while looking into Killeigh?s latest curiosity driven question.

?If I couldn?t sympathize with the horridness of knowing that there was something that you were ignorant of, I would have sent you about your business no matter how low you had your blouse adjusted this morning.?

?That?s a lie and you know it, Aerdus. Besides, I brought you a cheese and bacon Skirov.?

My eyes twinkled as I beheld the succulent pastry treat that was waiting for me in her outstretched hand. ?Though you may not be a slave to your lusts like every other man, Aerdus, it still remains that the quickest way to a man?s heart is through his stomach.?
?Fine. I?ll see what I can do,? I said noncommittally as I took the Skirov from her hand and examined its golden brown crust and the bacon and cheese that hung out from the edges of the buttery indulgence. ?I can?t promise anything though. What am I looking at here??

?Fresh this morning from the Quad. Dune Prowler bacon and cheese straight from Llael.?

I didn?t answer, as I was already busy gorging myself. Had I tried to speak while in the process of consuming said Skirov, my reply would have sounded more like broken gobber than clear and well-spoken Cygnaran. ?Mrrrgghhnnns? and similar clich├ęs are much harder to understand than they have often been given credit for. Particularly so with myself because I ate so fast that many people would simply sit delighted, watching me tear into the unfortunate meal that I had put before me. It was only recently that some of my fellow classmates had begun to wager amongst themselves over how long it would take me to eat certain meals from the university cafeteria. Occasionally things like this embarrassed me, but as far as I was concerned the faster I ate, the more time I had to read, talk or do my work, the priority being in that distinct order.

?So what has been going on in the world of Aerdus lately?? Killeigh asked as she flopped back into my couch satisfied that I would do what she wanted me to, and curled herself up like a frightened hedgehog against the cold and the damp that haunted my musty little dormitory room.

?The usual. Procrastination. Reading, sleeping and occasionally working, then crawling into bed before I can get started on my assignments.?

?I have a paper on the history of Cygnaran Law due next week and one to hand in to Pendrake the week after. Make sure you don?t forget about that one, the Extraordinary Zoology elective has been your best subject this year??

?I know, I know.?

?And you?re not to write it on hullgrinders, he says, as he read the article you wrote about them for the Letters already and wants something fresh.?

?Fine, I?ll make sure it?s done, but I have more pressing concerns to worry about first.

conador2
11-30-2009, 12:01 AM
I have to read out one of my works to the population of the ?university pub? come the weeks end, and I have barely pieced together what I am going to say.? I rubbed my hands together trying to get some warmth back into them while deciding whether or not I should dash to the closet and fetch something warm to don, hopefully protecting me against the encroaching chill that threatened to set my teeth chattering. While I was deeply engaged in my own diminutive frozen world, I did not notice Killeigh leafing through a leather-bound book which had been previously sitting on my desk and had obviously been procured silently as I was enjoying the last remnants of the Skirov. I leaned back in the wooden chair that sat at my desk, the front two legs leaving the ground so that the chair?s back could fall against the wall, preventing me from falling, which had happened more frequently than I cared to admit. The realization that Killeigh was reading my book hit me just about then, balanced precariously as I was. I went to move forward, to disembark from my chair and snatch it from her but it was all I could do to return all four of the chairs legs to the ground without losing my balance and hurting myself for the second time that day. My vain efforts to rein the chair in were to be worth naught.

?You?ve been researching the murders, haven?t you.? Killeigh said without turning to face me. My expression quickly flipped over into a horrific death mask, the face of a man breathing his last rattling breaths. Hoping against hope that she would drop the subject, I said nothing.

?Everybody has been talking about them recently and I can?t for the life of me see why.?

?Neither can I.? I said quickly. ?We don?t want to be hypocritical and keep on doing exactly that do we?? She turned to me, looked at me carefully for a few seconds, then ignored my efforts to try and derail the conversation before it had reached full steam and continued on with her little speech, oblivious to my waving arms, distraught face and the twitch that had begun in my left eye.

?People die in the back alleys of this city every day, as we are very well aware and nobody thinks twice about them,? she sighed and turned towards me again, her face displaying a mixture of dismay and discontent. ?But leave a little eulogy beside your victim on a scrip of magical paper that bursts into flames after it has been read, and then suddenly the entire city is afraid that they might be next.?

?When did the public become aware of the arcane notes?? I had only heard of them a few days ago from the watchman who had discovered the first such note and it was clear that the watch wanted to keep the knowledge under wraps.

?Last night, or so I have been told. Some local berks tried to make flaming notes of their own and ended up losing their eyebrows and 5 crowns apiece when the watch arrived. Captain Helstrom of course, was furious. He does tend to get furious very liberally though, doesn?t he?.?

?If somebody started conjuring fire in the streets, I figure the good Captain has a right to be angry. They are lucky they only had to deal with the Captain. If one of the Illuminated had found them, I doubt they would have gotten off with a fine. Nonetheless, the notes weren?t the worst of it. It?s what they contained. Though I know the truth of it, I?ve heard many a different story from various urchins and drunken watchmen over the past week and a half, all blaming the murders on either the Dark Twin, Kell Bailoch or the whispered vigilante killer of Corvis, the Deadly Flower.?

?Well, as I was staying at my parent?s estate tucked safely in my bed on the night of said murder, we can assume that it wasn?t the latter. I think I would remember slaughtering people and leaving inflammable obituaries lying around.? Killeigh smiled and her hands smoothed down her dress, trying to obscure the Magelock pistol that was braced against her thigh.

?But Kell Bailoch?. I wouldn?t put it past him, were he not only interested in quick and easy coin. Thamarites though, would likely do such a thing in their mistresses? name.?

?The guard who found the original note told me that it wasn?t anything quite as exciting, simply a brief eulogy and a cryptic message. From what he could recall, for the note burst into magical flames in his hands, it read ?Any berks who sides with ?em rutting foreign devils ?ll be struck down proper, make ye no mistake.? The watch believe that the note was from an overly patriotic citizen who believes he is eliminating Khadoran spies.?

?Whose grasp of written Cygnaran seems to be lacking. As much as you enjoy researching this sick bastard and writing his exploits down into a neat and concise format, maybe we should find out who this mucker is for ourselves instead of letting him roam the streets, committing dastardly acts right under our very noses.? Killeigh?s eyebrow raised subtly as she asked me, letting me know that were she serious I would have little choice in the matter.

?As much as I would love to abandon the greasy cesspool of vermin where I work, alas, I cannot, otherwise I would no longer have the funds to be your neighbour here in the illustrious Corvis University Dorms.? This was technically a lie. I didn?t so much as pay for accommodation as I did bribe the researchers to let me take one of the better rooms in the attic. Before I had moved in, this room had been used to produce reagents from parts of the giant swamp squids for experiments. It had taken weeks to get the smell out. ?So tonight I work, and any search you make for the Devil?s Bane shall be your own.?



***



Work that night was abysmal. In fact, calling it abysmal would have made those poor sods whose fate it was to dwell in the abyss cringe at the thought of something that was possibly worse than the excruciating existence they were suffering deep within the gut of the Devourer. The boss went home early as she had been running on adrenalin over the past few days with family troubles. That left us to fend for ourselves which at the best of times is a dangerous proposal, as it means I had to cook things. ?Us?, being the junior employees, tried valiantly to keep the chips flowing, though without the leadership of our boss, the line failed and things started to get junked very quickly. Fryers were lit with loose stogies, orders were tossed haphazardly at the clientele and the old ice machine was slowly leaking its arcane charge out through a faulty conductor coil. It seemed that not everybody could fix something by tossing a hammer at it, a fact that meant I had a lot of explaining to do come the next time I crossed paths with my employer.

I came home from work that evening, after several burns, arguments with co-workers and a fight with some precariously placed pots, thinking that it might have been safer to go patrolling the streets with The Deadly Flower. At least until three burly men waded out of the mist and began a beeline to intercept me. In a city as big and densely populated as Corvis, burly men peeling away from the slime on the walls was an all too common occurrence, as there weren?t enough jobs to support every citizen, thus others turned increasingly to robbery, mugging and other various forms of petty theft.

They obviously hadn?t plied their trade in this part of town recently, else they would have been covering there behinds by now, running back to Filcher?s or wherever else it was that this sort of scum would bubble up from. I quickened my pace. If I didn?t act a bit suspicious, they could decide that I was armed. The last mob that decided I might have been carrying a weapon made a big fuss about it and I ended up in a lot of trouble. Of course, this ?mob? had been the Corvis City Watch, so the big fuss was probably justified. These three men were not from the Corvis City Watch, even though one of them was picking his teeth with a copper badge. He probably hadn?t actually killed a copper; from the look of him I guessed he had probably lifted it from an off duty guardsman drowning their sorrows, or simply found it lying about.

They were now so close that I could practically count every hair that protruded from the collective?s noses. Considering a thugs level of cleanliness, this was quite a high number and I had quickened my pace further and was once again out of hair-range before I could finish my counting. Normal people would be running by now and technically regardless of how strange I was, I should have also been running, normal or no. I certainly felt like running because the last three men who caught me in an alley gave me a fright and quite a beating and it was only thanks to the timely intervention of an Elf I am acquainted with that I could sit down the next day. I knew so much about these sorts of people because I had been luring them into back alleys for the past few months, just like this. I must admit, I did seem like the perfect target.

Since they were still unaware of my actual intentions for them, I continued to peer at them with backward glances as we engaged in the power walk back to the university. Through the mist, which was thick here and thin there, it was hard to make out exacts in either direction, both my pursuers and the path ahead of me were obscured at various levels. Things were shadowed, dim and generally hard to see at the best of times in Corvis, though when night fell, it became worse. The swirling grey that clung to the ground like an ethereal city-fungus made patterns as we hurried through it. Now that they had built up steam to meet my speed, I could start my observations of them properly. Though I was not planning to take them by myself, it was always handy to know whether they were likely to put up much of a fight. The largest one with the tie was obviously the leader.

conador2
11-30-2009, 12:05 AM
He was using the badge as a makeshift toothpick but apart from the miniature metal shield he was unarmed. The flabby one carried a southern style knife with a curved blade. probably looted from a protectorate soldier in any of the numerous border skirmishes down that way. The one carrying the brown paper bag with grog in it did not look armed, but I knew from several bad experiences that sometimes a broken bottle could be the only thing between you and your trachea. I liked my trachea.

They were only a few paces behind me now and I knew what was coming next. The man in the lead would hail me in a seemingly innocent manner, possibly with a question and as I turned round to answer his associates would try to grab either side of me. Thankfully, I knew that this was coming, so I could avoid this step of the proceedings entirely and move directly on to the next step which involves running and then a brief combat in which my pursuers are picked off one by one.

?Er? me mucker? you do realize that man bag o? yours is dripping ink or summin onto the ground?? I grabbed my bag so it was ready for inspection and turned around before I fully realized what I was doing. My journal was in that bag! What would I do if it were somehow destroyed or taken by burly men?

?Where?? I asked, only to find two men waiting to grab either side of me, the leader striking up a cigarillo and puffing it into my face. ?Just joshin?, but we gonna be takin? that baggy o? yours off your hands quick smart, so you? won? be a worrying ?bout ink stains again.? My tote bag was taken, my belt pouch removed from my belt, my boots requisitioned and I cursed my inability to do anything correctly, inside my head, of course as I did not swear aloud on principle. These fine fellows had no compunction against it, as one of them promptly piped up with : ?This little puke look to be in the crowns, mayhaps we should slice the bugger, see if he bleeds gold??

Most muggers in Corvis don?t kill people, because said people can?t be mugged again if they are dead. Other people might be mobsters, the killing of whom is frowned upon unless you enjoy swimming in the Dragon?s Tongue while tied to a barrel of broken ?jack parts. People wandering about town late at night were not always good citizens. Jumping them sometimes proved to be painful. I was a good citizen, yet as it turned out jumping me was possibly the most hazardous occupation you could currently work at in this good city.

I smiled as soon as I heard the click of a gun being ****ed. Not a moment too soon either. My grin broadened as I heard heavy footsteps, iron against the cobbled streets. The two men holding me shifted from side to side, looking edgy.

?Who?ssat then?? Silence was the stern reply.

The leader simply put out his cigarillo against his arm (an act that made me wince to watch) and stepped back into a fighting position. I knew for a fact that this would not help.

?Look sharp boinkers, I think we found some bloke whos taken it ?pon ?imself to ?lighten us of our ill gotten gains. Gee lad, seems you are the popular one tonight.?

A pistol butt came out of nowhere and caught him in the side of his head. One hand went to the wound, the other swiped into the mist. The attacker had ducked away before being targeted. The big man was obviously in pain, clasping at his head and cursing unmercifully. I have heard cursing before, and honestly I did not understand half of the things that he uttered, a fact I am particularly glad of. Beside me, a slightly less colourful conversation was being held.

?This was the house best!?

?I don?t care you nuthead, break it and steel yourself to cut the boy and run with his stuff.?

?I paid three crowns for this. That was a weeks worth of pickings!?

?This lad?s stuff is worth at least that, but if the bastard in the mist gets us like he sconned the boss one, we won?t be spending it, now will we??

?Fine, donkeyrutter, but you never appreciated a good vintage.?

?If it ain?t made of rotten potatoes, I don?t give an infernal?s arse.?

There was then a crash, followed shortly by a splash, followed by a slightly sharp pressure under my jaw. I decided not to ask whether they planned on damaging my trachea, staying silent seemed to be the best policy.

Then the combat was joined proper. There was a bang and a woosh. Shards of glass flew past my face as something sped through the air above my shoulder into the man behind me, splintering the neck of the bottle and hurtling into his hand. He had scarcely let out a cry and began to curse (?Thamar?s teats! You rutting bastard, you shot me inna hand!?) when the other man was attacked, a hobnailed boot smashing into his stomach and a pistol barrel sliding along his blade, turning it away from the unseen combatant then finally flinging it to the ground, where it cracked, the two pieces clinking to a resting place in the mist. The three, all of them now without weapons, picked themselves up and began to circle shouting and moaning as they did.

?? shot me inna hand! Rutting Inferno!?

?? paid a crown for tha? blade? ?ole crown!?

?Right in me ear, cor that smarts summin..?

I stood very still in the middle and watched, knowing that later I would probably want to write this down. The leader dodged to the side, trying to avoid the butt of the pistol once again. This did not work, because there was also a boot searching for his chest, studded with dirty nails. They tore into his jacket, ripped his tie and sent him sprawling onto the ground. All of them were spooked by now, for apart from the billowing black coat, the painfully cobbled boots and the wooden end of a pistol, none of them had seen who was attacking them. One of the two who had been holding me, the connoisseur, went to his boss?s aide. The other reluctantly followed. It wasn?t really the best idea, as they soon learned that the gunman was standing directly between them and the downed man. Mist swirling every whichway now, they were given a glimpse of who had been beating them down so badly. One of the men was running before he had taken the entire view in and the other had his mouth open so wide that I could hear his jaw pop when he finally closed it. Even though they had not been expecting her, the Deadly Flower?s reputation had preceded her.

She was not tall, though when you had all the effects you really didn?t need to be. The greatcoat, studded along the shoulders and with little plates of armour protruding from various places along the front, was completely black except for the metal bits, which were green, the colour of quenched serricsteel. Under it were row after row of bandoliers, filled with pistol shot, all of which were wrapped in purple silk and marked with brilliant yellow runes. Thick black leather greaves giving way to leather trousers, also studded with the swirly green of serricsteel, were occasionally visible under the cloak when it was blown away from the legs. A black and green patterned ****ler with various floral insignia across it prevented anybody from recognizing who it was under the impressive array of armour and weaponry. On top of the foe was perched a tricorne hat, also black, pulled down tight. Unless you spent hours studying with the person every week, it would be impossible to tell who it was by appearance alone. To the front, a pistol was extended. You would have to look closely to tell that it was also made of another Rhulic metal as it was covered in faintly luminescent runes, that flickered yellow in the mist.
?Dear sweet morrow!? came an echoing cry from the one who ran first. The leader, who now had his head planted firmly under a boot said nothing due to his unconsciousness. When he finally closed his mouth, the last remaining thug said nothing, due to the pain that had shot through his jaw. This was due to opening his mouth for too long, not because I punched him. I did that too, but I think it hurt me more than it hurt him.

As quickly as it had began it was over. The Deadly Flower stalked off into the mist, pausing only to wink at me and shake her head. I was left to collect my boots.



***


I opened the door of my room to find a pistol pointed at me. Sadly, this was not an abnormal occurrence. I looked around my room which was very dark, as it was most of the time. I always kept the shutters closed so that the rising sun would not wake me in the morning, sleep being a commodity I could no longer afford to jeopardize. The furniture in the room was mostly made of sturdy wood and covered with papers. An ornately decorated writing desk sat in the corner, a darkly stained wooden chair leaning on it at an angle and a large single seater couch, upholstered with dark blue material, sat in the middle of the room, facing it. An unmade bed lay against the north wall; a bed stand covered with used cups and scrawled notes beside it and a heavy trunk sitting at the bed?s end. A large wardrobe separated it from the wall, which was decorated by peeling wallpaper. The floors had not been polished for a very long time and the places that were not obscured by dirty clothing or loose paper were covered in marks from the many and varied pairs of boots that had traipsed through the room within the last few years, long before I became a tenant. It wasn?t much, but it was mine and I would be very wet and cold without it.

conador2
11-30-2009, 12:08 AM
?Had you been a second later??

?But I wasn?t, was I ??

I huffed in discontent, rubbing my throat as I did. ?This is my room you know.? I said to the figure who was slouching in my comfortable chair, her heavy greatcoat, thick and black, reinforced with leather and occasional groups of green studs, hanging onto the floor. Her tricorne hat sat on her head in such a way as to obscure her face which when mixed with her heavy ****ler, not only stopped people from recognizing the unforgettable beauty underneath, but stopped the light getting in if she needed to sleep.

She slipped the pistol back into its holster; a leather apparatus attached to the right thigh of her dark leather trousers, then stretched and pushed the hat up off her face.

?But your couch is so much more comfortable than my bed.?

?I hardly think that?s an excuse.? I said, as I hung my going out greatcoat on a peg behind my door and crossed the room to sit on my bed so I could remove by boots.

?Maybe not, though I had thought you might be interested in some things I heard while I was out and about, this cold and dreary eve.?

?What, you mean ?Stupid youth saved from thugs by masked person?? go on.?

?While you were up to your elbows in fish guts, I was sitting comfortably down at the Screecher?s Nest with my coat and leathers all rolled up in my kit ready to metamorphose into somebody completely different. Before I could escape into the privy and bloom into the Deadly Flower, a fight broke out between some customers and the expatriate Ord who owned the place. Punches were thrown, bottles broken against the bar, gobbers used as makeshift projectiles and finally heated words were exchanged and a threat was issued that lead me to believe that one of the fellows might know something about your pet project.?

?So while I worked, you sat back in a tavern and enjoyed a good brawl and only happened to stumble upon something interesting by chance??

?This displeases you? Should I stop?? Killeigh asked with one of those wry grins of hers, knowing as we both knew, that were she to not continue her little story, I would worry about it until dawn broke the next day, tossing and turning, hardly sleeping with the wonderment of what the ending could possibly have been.

?Of course it does, but go on anyway, or give me my chair back.?

Killeigh snorted, and clutched defensively at my couch, writhing in it until she was as firmly positioned in its seat as possible. ?Then on I go. One can hardly fight against the threat of withdrawal of a couch as soft as this one. As it turned out, he was just far too drunk for his own good and bluffing through his freshly junked teeth. Nothing a little stock to the back of the head couldn?t fix.? Killeigh, while having few qualms about killing, preferred to disable her foes in the least harmful way possible, for the sake of efficiency. Most of the time, this involved hitting them over the back of the head with the grip of her pistol. I had seen it done, though knew from trying it once myself that it was not as easy as it looked.

?As I was pushing his unconscious form into an alley however I was gifted with a glance of a man with an oversized coat and a grim stride, who to my eye looked as if he were coming back from some fell deed.?

?You turned around and decided to victimize a man walking along the street at night based soley on a hunch??

?I?m far from perfect Mr Cautious. Curiosity got the better of me. I pushed him up against a wall and asked him what his business was wandering the backstreets this late at night in a tone that told him lying was not going to be an option during this conversation. I was surprised by the calm tone in which he answered, for it seems he was the one who thought me up to no good, not because I had just dumped an unconscious man into an alleyway but because I was wearing a uniform that he had been on the lookout for. In fact, somehow the entire watch seems to know what?s fashionable in vigilante crime fighting circles. ?It was the ****ler that gave you away.? he said. ?He? being Arad Ephram a watchman on his way home from a late night at the morgue.?

?As much as I am wanting you to continue I have a deep seated fear of where this could be going. The only other time you have ever mentioned a morgue signalled the start of one of my least favourite excursions to date. My heart is filled with trepidation as I await the meat of your account.?

?Rightly so, comrade. This is hardly something for the weak of heart or unsound of mind. Detective Ephram is the one who is in charge of cutting up bodies to see how they died when no priest wants to waste his precious prayers. Not a pleasant job, though an important one if the watch is going to investigate odd killings without having to waste the time and effort of the Order of Illumination every time someone dies without a suitably empirical explanation.?

?Is he a coroner, or simply the man who does the autopsy??

?It appears he is both. I imagine he was given such a horridly morbid position because he is a Menite and although for the most part they are law abiding citizens like the rest of us, there are fanatics amongst their number who give the rest a bad name. Not Arad though, despite his own views on crime and punishment he wholeheartedly adheres to Corvis? own legal system. He believes that law is very important, so important in fact that he is willing to stay in a hive of heathens to help them enforce it. He was more than happy to discuss it with someone as proactive as the Deadly Flower who he seems to hold in an almost prophetic regard. He also believes that those who break the law should be publicly burned, but we all have our little quirks. After talking to him for a while, he revealed to me that the three men presumed to have been killed by your Devil?s Bane all showed signs of unnatural and often horrific disfigurement, though he refused to talk any louder than a whisper as if the shadows themselves were prepared to strangle him were he to verbalize these horrors any louder. All three, he stated quite clearly, were killed by the arcane as well as by a very potent firearm.?
?Wait. Three? There have only been two murders.?

?Only two murders in Corvis my good friend. It seems the murderer has migrated here from down the Dragon?s Tongue, as at least one body bearing the same hallmarks was found in Five Fingers. In fact, across the border in Ord several other disappearances relating to that murder took place at around that time, which even in Five Fingers is more than coincidental. It seems he simply did not start leaving the grim little notes until three corpses ago.?
?That is not a reassuring thought.?

?If that makes you shudder, just you wait until you hear the rest. The first man was burned from the inside his organs all charred and blackened, ash seeping out all his open orifices. His blood had boiled and his eye***** had exploded, leaving a sickening sight awaiting Arad when he got to work that morning. The second had one of his limbs melted away as if by some potent alchemical. All the flesh along his right arm had dissolved to the joint at his shoulder, leaving the clean white expanses of his arm bones jutting out from the flesh and across the slab the body was presented on. There were signs of more scarring and acidic burning all along his right side, patches of bone showing through his chest where his rib cage could clearly be seen amongst the swollen flesh. The third, though Arad was lucky enough not to see it first hand was only quickly checked over. The underpaid watchmen in Fiver Fingers, without a skilled autopsy specialist, sent word that he had his insides crushed, as if by some constricting force, with no other grisly details mentioned in the report, assuming that any more would be needed to make the average street goer soil himself in fright. Yet all of them were struck by at least one projectile, something the Detective thought of as strange, though we know to be par for the course. It seems that I am much better at disposing of my dead criminals than I had ever imagined, as obviously he has never discovered the oddities present in any of mine.?

Fear was by now pressing hard against the inside of my eyelids and filling my stomach. The watchman?s testimony had just proved that the murders I was documenting were not committed simply by a man with a spark of The Gift, but an experienced and potent threat, like Killeigh herself. Although I knew, deep inside that those were all very minor powers as far as The Gift was concerned, for a young man who could not sleep without his own pillows and wrote a letter home to his mother every week, this was far, far too much to worry about.

?So this person? they are? like you?? I could barely bring myself to ask the question, as for the first few weeks after our meeting I was deathly afraid that Killeigh was going to kill me to keep her secret. The thought of someone like her, though with less mental stability and forethought, chilled me deep down inside.
?No, they aren?t like me. I?m not bloody stupid enough to leave notes if I have to kill someone.?

?But they can ?. magic? their shooting irons. Like you.? Magic was a topic I did not particularly like to discuss when used for purposes like burning a man from the inside out. Even though Killeigh never used her ability in such a flagrantly evil and disgusting way there were still grave similarities that were making me feel more than a little uncomfortable with the task that Killeigh had ahead of her, the task that I was likely to be somehow involved in as it progressed.

?We may have the same gift, but we sure as inferno aren?t the next set of divine twins. This ****** is a showman, a patriot and possibly a madman. I like to think I am better than that.?

conador2
11-30-2009, 12:15 AM
?Yes, seeing as you are only mad. At least you?re not a patriot. Can?t sleep at night knowing that those bastards are out there?.?

Killeigh smiled with the full force of her white teeth behind her ruby lips. ?Not that it matters. I?ll catch the bastard no matter who he is or what he does. Though this town is plenty big enough for the both of us, I?m not going to have another masked man lashing out with the long arm of the law.?

?I?m glad one of us is happy about all of this.?

?Come now Aerdus, hearken to that sense of adventure of yours.?

Killeigh said jumping up from the couch, and pulling me up from off my bed. She was clearly revelling in the challenges she suspected were going to lie ahead. I must admit, that though I am deathly afraid of adventuring and general spontaneity I still get a rush from dashing through the streets with dark clothing and a sap, praying to morrow and his sister that nobody will stop me and ask questions. She dragged me swiftly into a jig, leading me about the room and turning round and round, avoiding piles of paper, dirty clothing and half empty plates that sat unattended due to my suddenly busy schedule.

?Think of all the fun we could have, traipsing about the undercity, whispering into important ears, pushing people up against walls and staring into their eyes, smiling with such a malignant grin that they know we would kill them in the blink of an eye.?

?I hardly think that any of those are good reasons to be out late.? As I finished my sentence, quickly delivered between twirls, her eyes narrowed and I could tell that she had realized that this was doing nothing to convince me of the splendour that she obviously saw coating our midnight runs into the seedier parts of Corvis. So she changed her tone and lowered her voice to barely a whisper as she swept me about once again. Finally, she looked me in the eye and breathed ?Think of the tales that you could weave?? and deep inside, I felt something click and I knew that I had lost, again.

There was always a reason why I should accompany Killeigh. The first time, when we barely knew each other, this was the threat of death, as who the Deadly Flower was during the day was a secret that I soon found I had to keep if I wanted to continue breathing. On other occasions, the various reasons had included ?I can?t carry him by myself.?, ?Women aren?t allowed into Gentlemen?s clubs.? and on one occasion ?I need somebody to hide in the folds of my dress.? As you can imagine, each of those adventures produced embarrassment, anxiety and absolutely marvellous headlines in The Corvis Letters. I must have sighed and probably slumped my shoulders in resignation, as Killeigh stopped twirling me, unclasped her hand from mine and fell backwards onto the unmade expanse of my bed.

?You are so very easy to read Aerdus.? She said, looking up at my ceiling, her hands atop one another, resting on her exposed stomach, the space between where her black leather breeches and her similarly leather jerkin met. Her greatcoat lay spread out behind her, falling from her shoulders.

?I still don?t know how you have managed to keep my secret all this time.?

?The fact that I have scarcely any friends and no social life to speak of could very well be the reason that you are still free to roam the streets at night.?

?You have me!? she exclaimed and with a swift hook of her leg, she unbalanced me, toppling me backwards so that I landed next to her, flailing wildly.

?I hardly think you count.?

?If anything I count as TWO friends.? Killeigh said indignantly as she forcibly tried to make me smile by pulling on my cheeks. After a short while of trying with no success she collapsed backwards, exhausted.

?I suppose life would certainly be a lot more boring without you.?
?And I would have to carry a lot more without you.? she replied, wincing as I pushed my elbow into her side.

The suggestion that I was merely a packhorse was one I found absolutely unforgivable. Though my talents were particularly unsuited for adventuring or general mischief, it still upset me if they were overlooked.

?I shouldn?t think that should provoke such a violent response. You are a mule Aerdus, through and through! You are stubborn, anxious and won?t accept a mount!?

I tried not to react but as Killeigh was often quick to point out, I am very easy to read. My face split quickly into a massive grin and the giggles were soon able to escape. We both laughed for some time, until eventually after our busy day, we fell asleep.

razor.powell
06-20-2010, 12:12 PM
this = win