Posts : 59
Join date : 2010-03-22
Age : 32
Location : San Antonio Tx
HFS Name: Shaheena
Class: Assassin, Bard, Warrior, Druid, NonFighter
|Subject: Desperate Times Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:16 am|| |
Rank wasn't even close to describing things down in the caverns of the island. Solitary confinement prisoners were sent down below to serve their time. The cells were little more then small alcoves along the main tunnel, with the bars being magically crafted from the very stone itself. He had to give Ripley Chance credit, when he didn't want someone going anywhere, he made sure of it. The tattered rags of his traveling clothes had long since become threadbare, doing nothing to keep out the cold and wet air that was a constant down below. He felt weak and tired from near starvation; the food given to those in the Hole was so foul, even the rats and bugs refused to eat the remains. Even when he was not asleep, he did not even bother to open his eyes as the shadows cast by the torches far up the tunnel played tricks on the one viewing them. He had heard the other's maddening screams as they pleaded for salvation from the creatures in the shadows. His keen senses would have noticed if anything had been near, and he had sensed nothing more than the despair and futility from his fellow occupants with his empathy. It was that particular facet of his extended stay that was wearing him down more than any of the physical trials. The constant emotional pain and torture that the other occupants of the Hole were enduring were like rapids bearing down on his meager mental shielding. That is why he slept as often as he could. He knew it was only delaying the inevitable, but at least in his sleep, there was no need to constantly be on guard from the emotional onslaught that was every waking moment here. The price of his reprieve was twisted and dark dreams; his comrades falling before him in battle, the hills of his land burning. There was no escaping the nightmares. After his initial futile attempts to escape and he realized the mental danger he was in, he tried his best to work himself into exhaustion and to keep himself physically in shape. After several months of the horrendous food, it becomes difficult to continue such a habit when hunger causes the body to begin consuming itself. He was just tired, in both body and spirit.
Try as he might, he had not discovered any weakness in his cell. He had only seen it once when the guards of the island threw him into the cell, and since then had been forced to study his cell by touch alone. The bars were seamless, not a single crack in the stony pillars to wear away at. The bowls that the food was served in were made from some woven plant that did a poor job at keeping the mostly liquid food inside of it, which were useless at trying to use as a method of escape. All of his weapons and armor had been stripped from him long before he arrived at the island, the only possessions he had were the rags on his back. Escape seemed like a far off dream, with no hope of realization. He would not let his mind wander, however. He had to keep his thoughts on escape, lest he think of his wife and children. He had to fight back the hopelessness that had already threatened to consume him several times when he thought of them, and he knew that such forlorn thoughts would ensure his extended stay.
This was no place for a man dedicated to his land and his people who's only crime was lending aid to a Kingdom that had asked for it. Now here he was, destined to live out his rapidly diminishing years as a prisoner here in this cave below the island. He dared to open his eyes for a moment, a small part of him desperate to see something other than the darkness of his cell. It was a futile hope, but he allowed a small part of him to dare against fate. It was no surprise to him when his vision was just as dark with his eyes opened as they were closed. He drew in a deep breath, and felt a little more of himself depart as he exhaled. Time was not his friend down here.
"Ah, there you are!" Whispered a voice off to his left from the back of his cell. Had he not been so tired and weak, he would have been on his feet and crouched in a fighting stance before the interloper could have finished his sentence. As it was, he had just enough energy to turn his head toward the far side of his cell to face the voice he had heard. At first he had almost convinced himself that he had finally lost the battle for his sanity, and he was starting to hear voices that were not really there. But as his eyes adjusted, he could make out a vague silhouette of a head and shoulders against the gloom of his cell. The area directly surrounding the partly humanoid shape was made from pure darkness, darker than anything he had ever seen before. Anger welled up within him as he realized who his visitor was. There was only one person he could think of who was brazen and crazy enough to attempt to sneak into the prison island, much less the Hole. Furthermore, there was only one person who he knew of who teleported through holes of purest darkness. The name escaped from his dried and cracked lips as a growl, both from the disuse of his voice, as well as from the animosity towards the thief that had eluded him time and time again.
"Excellent! You do remember me. Now I don't mean to be rude, but this is hardly the place to discuss a proposition. Care to join me, Baron?"
He was going to hate himself for this for the rest of his life, but given his options, he hardly had a choice. He reached out for the hand that the thief had offered him, and let himself be pulled through the darkness
The leathers were uncomfortably loose on him, but then again, given how much weight he had lost while at the island, it should not have surprised him how difficult it was to find a suitable fitting set of armor. He tried to ignore what appeared to be blood stains as the many compromises he had made to get to this point threatened to invade his thoughts again. To win his freedom, he had to make a deal with the slippery devil that sat across from him in the weathered wagon.
The wagon cover was tattered and riddled with holes which allowed a good chunk of the downpour outside to find it's way in. Of course the orchestrator of the entire scenario reserved the driest spot for himself. He claimed delicacy, not of himself, but in his rather expensive attire which he swore would be near impossible to replace if it got damaged. Marcus wondered to himself how this self-proclaimed master thief managed to get anything accomplished if he dressed such as this regularly.
The former merc adjusted his armor again. He was certain he was going spending many nights ahead covered in ointments when this was through.
The plan was simple enough. After having made good the escape offered by Daemon, the thief had arranged for him to be transported back to the mainland via ship stashed away with the cargo. The 8 hours spent between being packed in with the rest of the cargo and finally delivered to an otherwise unmarked warehouse was not anymore taxing than the last few months spent in solitary confinement on Ripley's prison island. When the crate was opened again, the one-eyed visage of the thief stared down at him.
"Enjoy the trip? I hope those deckhands weren't too rough with you. As far as they knew, you were a box full of damp mushrooms used for various purposes."
"Mushrooms?" With the jovial face Daemon put on, it was difficult to tell even with his empathy when the thief was being serious.
"Of course, we had to tell them something to explain the smell," he said as he raised a handkerchief to his nose. "I didn't exactly have time or opportunity to have you properly bathed for transport. Not to mention, it was a good deterrent to keep those deckhands from being nosy. You should thank me for having such foresight."
Several of his associates reached into the crate and heaved him out not quite ever-so-gently. The thugs were easily twice the Baron's new size. In his current state, he doubted he would have put up much of a fight regardless. Once he was on his feet, a stale roll and strip of dried meat were shoved into his hands by those same thugs. While suspicious, his hunger quickly overtook any caution as he devoured the first solid meal he had seen in many moons. The thief turned and looked back as the noble attacked his food with not an ounce of propriety. He tried to leer in distaste, but the keen senses of the former merc caught the slightest hint of a smirk before the facade had fallen.
His mind began putting pieces together, this had all been carefully planned and scripted. The timing of the escape to coincide with a transport ship leaving the island, the way the thugs had lifted him out of the crate and subsequently provided him with food. All of it had been done with minimal visible effort and little to no prompting. Either fate had decided he had had enough, or Daemon was more thorough then even he had imagined. Either way, he realized he had best be on his guard.
"Once you've had the chance to correct that oversight of cleanliness, then we can talk business, and we can make arrangements for what you owe me for freeing you."
He must have been much deeper in thought than he realized, for the clipped tone of the thief brought him back to the present.
"Do you understand your instructions, Baron?" he asked again, annoyance dripping off of every word.
"I'm sorry, I was lost in thought. Go over them again." The thief grunted with distaste as his response, and drew in a long breath like sibling does when repeating the instructions of their parent.
"It is simple. From here, you will make your way on foot to Shadowmist Keep. Once there, you will gather your allies and act quickly to bring the Queenie to, ahem, justice." He nearly had to croak out the last word, as if it had gotten stuck in his throat and refused to vacate it's lodgings. After taking a quick drink from his waterskien, he continued on. "Stay off the main roads and away from the more often used waymeets. If you are seen before it is time to act, you'd most likely end up right where I found you, and that wouldn't do either of us any good. It's a long walk from where we are leaving you, but I don't exactly have a horse under my cloak, and you need to keep a low profile. I have other business to attend to in the area, so I must take my leave of you soon."
"What a pity. And here I was thinking we were just warming up to eachother..." the driver outside must have heard the comment from the sound of his chortle. Marcus was under no illusions that he did owe his rival, and that working with him was the best chance he had to win back his freedom, but he was going to make sure that the thief did not enjoy the association. He wanted to know what Daemon was planning, and what part he had in it. "Why now? What do you care about justice, much less bringing someone else to it?"
"That is the fun of it all, isn't it?" he smirked. The smile made Marcus want to lunge across the wagon and throttle the man where he sat, but he knew such actions would ultimately be counter-productive to his cause. That, and Daemon had wisely not armed him yet, likely for that very reason. "If you want to know more, the read this after we have parted ways," he said as with a flick of his wrist he produced a parchment sealed with a magic emblem, "and all will become clear. Don't bother trying to open it before hand, it won't, and I'm told that the magics that protect it can be rather painful when activated."
Marcus reached for the parchment and tucked it away under his armor. He had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't as cut and dry as the thief made it out to be, but he had learned over the years that Daemon's sense of the dramatic lent itself to more questions then answers. And the few answers that one could find had little rhyme or reason.
"Well then," Daemon stretched out lazily, "this should be your stop. Whatever you do, do not let yourself be seen if you can at all help it. Every face you see may be the one that lets Danyica know where you are. And if that happens, I wouldn't put good odds on your survival." He nodded to the rear of the wagon as it came to a stop. Marcus stood, raised the hood of his mantle, and stepped out of the wagon. He turned to see the rogue standing at the rear of the wagon wearing that same rage inducing smile.
"How in the nine hells do you expect me to make it across half of the known Kingdom with no food, no coin, and no weapons?" For a moment, the only response to his question was the pattering of the early summer storm. Daemon reached back into the wagon and threw a sheathed longsword in the mud at his feet. "Thank you for your generosity, such as it is."
"Finally some gratitude for all the work and risk I've exposed myself to for a longtime adversary," Daemon shook his head, "What are we teaching our younglings these days? Ah well. Good luck, Baron. I hope we get the chance to cross swords, and wits, again soon."
With a sweeping bow and some unseen signal, the wagon began to pull away at a brisk pace. Marcus refused to move until he was certain the wagon was out of sight. Once all traces of the wagon, including the muddy tracks in the road, were gone, he reached down and picked up the sword. It was serviceable, the handle would have to be re-wrapped and it was overdue for a good whetstone, but otherwise it was a fairly made weapon. He dashed from the road to the tree line, trying to find some modicum of shelter to wait the storm out. After several minutes of searching, he managed to find a section of felled trees that was slightly less miserable then standing under the canopy. Tucking himself away there, he attached the scabbard to his borrowed belt, and produced the parchment from under his armor. The seal had faded to the point where it was barely visible. Marcus waited a few breaths longer for the seal to completely disappear before opening the letter. As he suspected, the information on it left more questions then answers. All that was written on it was a location in Outer Shadowmist, and a specific door within that building. tied to the bottom of the letter was a key, and emblazoned on it's face was the crossed arrow, dagger, and quill. The emblem of the Mistwalkers Thieves Guild.