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Stormrend - Chapter 2


Kpnut

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Still not quite happy with the translation of the formatting from my word document to the blog entry but it's better than in chapter 1 (which you can find here) so here's the second chapter as with chapter 1 any critiques are very much welcome, I've got issues with this chapter as well (it's too short for my liking but I couldn't figure out how to extend it short of rolling it into chapter 1.)

 

Spoiler

2

Cris

Trium, the holy city (purely by virtue of the Gods' bickering,) but also a popular tourist destination due to its sapphire blue seas and pristine white sand beaches. But even this holy city, with its beautiful vistas, has its seedy underbelly where the criminals, the thieves, assassins and prostitutes ply their respective trades

CRASH a man goes flying into a table in one of the many bars in the city, upending it and spilling the drinks all over the place. Standing in front of the man, with icy blue eyes narrowed in anger, is a beautiful woman with an athletic build and shoulder length sable hair streaked with scarlet. The man gets up and charges the woman whilst drawing a knife only for a blade of light to scythe through his knees, severing his lower legs from the upper and causing him to sprawl on the floor a few feet from her. The woman crouches in front of him

Now that was technically self defence since you were charging me with a knife, so my oath to the Guild will still hold.” says the woman but before giving the man an opportunity to answer she gets back up and addresses the crowd

So, with the exception of the dumbass bleeding out on the ground here, who has the information I want.”

Who's asking?” cries a voice from the crowd, no one wanting to get near the clearly angry young woman even though with her magic she could probably kill the lot of them without any effort required on her part

I'm Cris and I have a delivery from Crow's Tavern, so if one of you could get someone in charge that would be just splendid” Cris promptly rights a turned over barstool and sits on it while the crowd scrambles to find someone in charge and clear out the corpse of the man she had thrown, who had bled out, while the terrified bartender gets her a drink.

Two hours pass and Cris is on one drink of many when two men enter the bar and approach her table, one sits in front of her while the other, larger, man takes a place behind her. Cris just raises one eyebrow over this example of such cliched behaviour

So gentlemen, how can I help you?” she asks, hiding her smirk with her glass as she takes another sip of her drink “however if you're after a good time you'll need to move one, I'll do many things for money but just not that”

The two men bristle with anger at this, as if she had impugned their honour,

We heard you wanted to talk to the Guild, we're hear to 'facilitate' that” replies the man seated in front of her this statement causes Cris to burst out in laughter, startling both men

You're here to facilitate me getting thrown in a cell under one of those big fancy churches more like, so which one do you serve? Probably one of the prudish gods considering your reaction to my joke earlier” Cris sets her drink down, eyes suddenly glinting with a dangerous light as the big man behind her tenses as if getting ready for violence, the other man notices this

Dominic, calm down we're not here to cause any harm” before addressing Cris “and how do you know we're not the people you want to meet, miss?” causing her to laugh again

I've been around long enough and doing this for long enough to be able to tell the choirboys from the bad boys, and the pair of you are definitely choirboys. I can practically smell the holy water and paedophilia on you” this last statement causes the big man at her shoulder to growl like some rabid animal

We're not those priests, since it seems there's no point in hiding it, no vows of celibacy on our parts. And since we can't seem to deceive you I'll cut straight to the point Miss Antares; what are you after?” The other priest, the one sitting across from her, finally stops his deception realising that it wasn't getting him anywhere

See, how hard was it to just ask me that straight up? I'm not here for anything nefarious I can assure you” replies Cris “now if you'd kindly piss off so I can talk to the actual thieves of Trium that would be smashing” she turns to the bartender to order another drink only to feel a strong hand on her shoulder as Dominic stops her

We're not done yet, thief” he growls “you haven't properly answered father Patrick's question” the hand on her shoulder is like a vice, the ensuing pain causing Cris to narrow her eyes slightly before giving her warning

You might want to stop there, if you want to keep your hand” a dagger finds its way into her other hand “As long as I don't kill you my oath to the Guild still holds and the two of you are REALLY starting to piss me off”

Dominic that's quite enough, if Miss Antares has no plans to do anything immoral in our fair city I have no further questions. Miss Antares if you'll excuse us, we'll let you get back to meeting with the rogues of this city.” Father Patrick says as he gets up and gives Cris a bow before motioning to Dominic to leave with him, the big man gives Cris one more glare before following the priest out

I think I may have pissed one of them off, don'tcha think?” Cris says to a hooded man who suddenly appeared next to her

how long have you known I was there? I'm pretty good at remaining unnoticed” Cris gives the man a confident smirk

Oh I knew you were there the whole time, I've had more then enough experience at this. I take it you enjoyed that little show then?” Cris orders another drink from the bartender, giving the hooded man an enquiring look only for him to shake his head in refusal.

Cris sits sipping her drink while the hooded man takes the seat across from her, his features are indistinct allowing him to perform his job easier than someone like her whose beauty tends to make people look twice and pay more attention to her, something that had caused her no end of grief and, like with Zack and his rage, got her thrown in jail for assault on a number of occasions. Of course she always got let out when it turned out to be self defence. Banishing these thoughts from her head she turns to the man as he clears his throat

What do you want? It's rare that one of Crow's thieves deigns to visit us lessers stuck plying the trade in this fairest and holiest of cities”

Oh it's nothing major, just two things that should be well within your ability to grant. I have no plans on actually stealing anything or organising a heist” replies Cris, taking another sip of her drink

and those two things would be? I know your reputation Scarlet Wolf, things you ask for tend to come and bite organisations like mine in the arse”

Cris winces slightly at the use of her title (something granted to anyone who was deemed worthy enough to attain a totem animal cum familiar) something she find uncomfortable to be called even if it's not as grandiose as Zack's is (who prefers to be referred to by either his name or his military rank.)

First off I need permission to use the Highway, I'm not so gauche as to use another Guild's Highway without their permission”

The man nods at this as granting her permission is merely a formality that needs to be sorted out with the rest of the guild and is unlikely to be rejected

What's the second thing? I've been in this game long enough to know that a reasonable request is always followed by the less reasonable one”

I just need some information and access to your network, that's all” replied Cris

and what information is it that you need? As you know there's a price to pay for both the information and access to our networks” the man crosses his arms and fixes Cris with a stern look before asking

can you pay?” to which Cris just sighs exaggeratedly and shakes her head

you and I both know that that only applies to outsiders, as a member of the Guild I don't need to pay you with money. If you don't want to give me what I ask for I can always do a favour for you” with eyes twinkling with mischief she adds “but nothing sexual, I'm a thief not a whore” the man pinches the bridge of his nose as if he has a headache

do you ever stop with the crassness? How do Crow and Zack put up with you?” asks the man, but before giving Cris a chance to answer he continues “however I will meet with the rest of the Guild to find a task that's suitable of your abilities and in equal value to what information you are looking for. As for your other request that's easy enough to grant and I just need to notify the rest. So what information is it that you need?”

Oh nothing major, I just heard that there was a Godslayer held in one of the temples here and I need to get my hands on it” Cris takes a final sip of her drink before continuing “not for myself of course, I don't do enough fighting for that sort of thing to be useful to me”

Ah, that is somewhat difficult. I'll need to have a meeting with the guild about that one, I don't think there's currently any jobs that would have an equal value to that information going I'm afraid. Meet me here in two days and we'll hash things out.” replies the man before getting up “with our business here done I bid you goodnight” he says and promptly leaves.

Prick” mutters Cris to herself before leaving the bar herself and heading back to her hotel.

Upon returning to her hotel room Cris strips down to her underwear and sets up a canvas on which to paint the cityscape (she always felt she painted better when nude or near nude) a ritual she performs whenever she comes to a new city and even if she's in a previously visited one. Cris allows her mind to wonder as she paints, allowing her Gift to take over completely knowing that it would allow her to create something truly beautiful. As it always does her mind turns to how lucky she is to have the Gift she does, Zack's Gift is ephemeral once whatever he's produced has been consumed it's gone whereas her paintings (provided they're preserved properly) are eternal, such is the popularity of her artwork that Crow (the immortal thief in charge of the Guild) has stated that he has no need to steal paintings when he can just ask her to paint a masterpiece and her gallery makes her money hand over fist (far more money than she ever earned while still an active thief) from people from all over coming to view her paintings, which range from the landscapes of areas she has visited to portraits of people she has met.

After some hours of painting, and one instance of scaring away a crimson faced caterer who had brought her room service stuff, Cris begins to feel tired and decides to leave her painting for the day feeling a quick spark of envy that Zack's magics can quicken his Gift's processes whereas hers don't. Thankfully she's already ready for bed after thanks to her habit and soon enough she's fast asleep all her travelling and the fight (if you can call it that) earlier in the night having utterly exhausted her.

 

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