Author Topic: The Dagger and The Coin  (Read 463 times)

Shalooonsh

  • Storyteller
  • Posts: 1531
The Dagger and The Coin
« on: January 05, 2020, 03:24:31 PM »
   The old thuja door gave a long, hollow groan as it swung open the final few inches on the gloaming sick chamber beyond.  A trio of squat, grey wax candles cast a dying ambiance over the daybed at the far side of the chamber, near the tall windows shielded with thick lengths of dyed canvas shading.  Sharlo, the cage-kept jozhal that the Senior Agent had kept at his side since he was an Overseer, slumbered fitfully in the corner near a hearth which held only the faintest of struggling embers.  I gave a trio of knuckle-knocks to the door before is gently screamed closed behind me, the hinges again protesting at the abuse of performing their very simple task.
   A cough greeted me as I pushed through that murky chamber, tall pitcher of sweetened, cool water in my hand.  The reek of chest rot was an almost physical thing, a grim companion that loomed just out of sight, hovering over the sick bed and its single occupant.  I pulled up a padded stool next to the bed and set the pitcher down next to the other on the nearby table, my eyes skipping and then skidding off of the small basket of bloody rags left next to one leg.  Good thing I didn't bring the ledgers, not that the numbers within would have lifted spirits even if I could have read them.  Profits were falling, not horribly so, but definitely enough to be noticed.
   A tomb grey hand swept up a chunk of soft grey cotton from the table.  The explosive, wet coughs that followed are a sound I may never forget, and I shudder to think of the pain enforced on those old ribs and lungs.  I knew better than to interrupt, or to offer sorrow or condolence... the old sword would not react well to any implication of weakness.  Like a Ruk-quake, I just weathered it, and eventually it passed, the final punctuating mark being the tossing of another bloody rag onto the heaps already deposited in the bin.
   Several moments of rasping filed away at the grim silence, a rough ward against the ever encroaching presence of Drov that suffused the room.  Candlelight struggled onto lips of old, red-speckled parchment as they parted to be wettened by a tongue that had slit many throats, and after another slow breath came the words that I had heard so many times before, and had helped sharpen me into the Salarri I was today.  "Do you come to me today in victory or failure?"  I steeled myself for the response, but before I could, the rasping voice continued.
   "I will not let you waste my time with excuses or reasons, I can see all I need from the set of your shoulders.  Your ledgers are light, and fear rides you like a parasite.  That fear is something you bear, but it is also a key."  A few ragged, hollow rasping breaths gave me time to stew and wonder about the meaning of that, but I knew when to stay silent. 
   Finally, more words cut through the darkness as he rasped, "Do you know why your profits are falling?  Do you know the root cause?"
   The reasons spilled from my lips like so many drops of blood from a well used dagger.  The Arm had what it needed, there were independents undercutting our business in the north, the gith have mostly been rebuffed, and on went my litany of reasons, and though I struggled to stop, the words simply kept gushing onward.  Eventually, his hand slid a touch closer to the edge of the sickbed, and a single finger crept upward less than an inch, raising like an executioner's axe, plunging me into silence.
   "More lies.  Have you had so much Oashi wine that it's changed your blood?  Are lies the lubricant to the grinding sense of loss you feel for failing your family?  You see all these," more coughing, more rasping, another blood-trickled rag in the trash, "all these numbers dancing in ragged lines, but you fail to look -past- them.  You understand them, but you fail to see what they're saying.  The reason...."
   What followed was the most grim succession of sounds I have ever heard in all my years.  I've watched gladiators gut-cut and bleeding on the sands, I've watched members of my staff garrote employees who have stolen from us, and I've even held a cousin's head face down in a barrel of wine until they stopped struggling... but never until now have I heard something more horrifying than those pitiful, gasping breaths from a Senior Agent who had never portrayed anything but pure strength and a mind so sharp it could cut glass.  Several bloody rags fell one at a time through the explosive coughing, and the last cup of water was drawn from the pitcher that was here when I arrived.  A new cup drawn from the pitcher I brought, swallowed with painful sounding, greedy sips, and then some merciful silence.
   As the ragged breathing went slowly back to a semblance of the regular, that tomb grey claw reached to the end table and plucked a small candy out of a dish, the sounds of sucking soon followed before more words.  "The reason, my dear girl, that your profits are falling is because no one is killing each other with as much passion as they should.  They're all..." a digusting hawking sound as phlegm was drawn up, and spat down into a rag, "they're all getting along.  They're all cuddling, and rejoicing in this... grotesque sense of friendship and peace.  We need to stop that.  Go to the bureau near the window.  Third drawer down.  Small jade box."
   Rising, I did so, opening up a drawer in which lay more gemstones inlaid in delicate knives, daggers, and other devices of death than a Kadian could comfortably work in a year.  My eyes snagged on an ancient looking stiletto, the blade holding the tell tale bright reflectiveness of actual steel, but I retrieved the jade box and brought it back to the bedside.
   Gasping words slipped forth, thick with effort.  "A gift.  Pen... a letter to the Templarate.  Pick one.  Doesn't matter, they're all the same.  Pick one who you see has the same fear as you, and in the note, state that this personal gift to them is given in hopes that they will find the throat of the one who spoke about the contract taken on them.  When you read it to them...." more bloody coughing, "you'll need to throw in enough vague details to sell them that it could be one of many people.  They will ask for more, but... but do not be too specific.  Do not fuck it up.  Practice in a mirror f-first."
   I opened my mouth and was silenced by another upward twitch of that hard finger, so I sat and listened to several painful, long breaths before the voice rasped out once again.  "Next, there is a crate... corner of the warehouse.  Red palm-print painted on the lid.  Take... take it to Red Storm.  Find a dwarf.  One eye, one ear... missing several fingers... goes by the name Lucky.  Tell her... tell her they're to help keep the rats out of the fields.  They've already paid, so don't ask for anything in return.  Once... once these are done... give it a month.  And you'll..." the coughing exploded again on to the scene, and I waited.  And waited.  More coughing, more bloody rags, more cups of sweetened water from the pitcher.  I knew I wouldn't hear much more.
   Slowly, the coughing quieted, then the breathing quieted to a regular, slightly gurgling rasp.  He sounded asleep, so I rose.  I crossed on soft footfalls to the thuja door, which betrayed me again with another long, hollow groan as I pulled it open.
   "Girl," I froze at the note of grim amusement in the voice, "next time... and there will be a next time... remember that grishen has a cloying taste that doesn't mix well with the marilla you used to sweeten the water.  You've still...." painful coughing, and then a rasped laugh, "you've still got so much to learn.  But your ambition is... adorable."
   I closed the door after failing again... but maybe I could yet edge some proud words out of the old rantarri before he passed on.



Welcome to another role call!  Welcome to your chance at an opening in the Dealers of Death, the Purveyors of Pain, the Merchants of Mangled Limbs.... House Salarr!

We are looking for a bright, forward thinking, self driven, plot inducing player to take up the role as a House Salarr Family Member and help get all these glorious blades and armors into the hands of those who think they need them.... are you up to the task??

Requirements:
Regular Reporting Capability... I enjoy long walks on the beach, and twice-a-month reports at a minimum.
An Awesome App... you guys know how to do these.  I seent it!
An Interest in Portraying Merchant Life properly... you'll live partially out of a wagon, partially out of a sumptuous estate, and always surrounded by awesome employees and perks!
A solid amount of playtime... I'd like to see at least 10 to 20 hours a week playtime, I need someone who's available and willing to Get Things Done.

Role Call is open until January 11th, in this critical year of 2020.

Looking forward to seeing all your awesome apps!!
I seduced the daughters of men
And made the death of them.
I demanded human sacrifices
From the rest of them.
I became the spirit that haunted
And protected them.
And I lived in the tower of flame
But death collected them.
-War is my Destiny, Ill Bill

Shalooonsh

  • Storyteller
  • Posts: 1531
Re: The Dagger and The Coin
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2020, 05:15:33 PM »
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 10:14:26 PM by Shalooonsh »
I seduced the daughters of men
And made the death of them.
I demanded human sacrifices
From the rest of them.
I became the spirit that haunted
And protected them.
And I lived in the tower of flame
But death collected them.
-War is my Destiny, Ill Bill