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Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

To begin with, all he could do was look askance at her, confused by her manner of speaking. This had posed no obstacle before, although he had not asked about her before. He wondered at this, wondered the cause and meaning. To the ears of a Gothic knight, inherently direct and forthright, she was speaking in a most alien fashion.

Having his eyes stared into intently seemed to have no meaningful effect on him. All he did was return the gaze, compassionately and appraisingly, with eyes of bright gold. Sir Aorle always wondered if anyone saw the gold in his eyes and wondered what price it would fetch on the open market. What he was able to decipher from what she had told him suggested that she primarily dealt with unscrupulous characters, so honest conversation must be near lost to her.

He could not help but feel sorry for that.

And then, he returned his attention to what she wished to know more of. Not asked, she never asked a direct question, only hinted at her interest. Since she gave nothing further for him to go on, that hint would have to be all he needed. "Aye, 'tis an interest of mine. Why? Because any true warrior worthy of the name knows the difference between battle and butchery. Those who draw swords with no mind to the rightness of their cause are naught but glorified murderers."

One thing she had mentioned stood out to him. "We follow a Code because we care about consequences. They are not in opposition. Do you wish to hear more of this?" While he had no wish to presume, he was eager to speak of church teachings and the Codes he held sacred.

"What are your plans now, Frau Soubrette? What life is ahead of you?" This was a thought which troubled him. A life of secrets and lies and unscrupulous dealings seemed sad and hollow and painful. Most of all he wanted her to escape that for her own sake. "What life do you want ahead of you?"
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

When she eventually stopped talking and the knight simply stared at her for a few seconds, Quinn stifled a giggle. It was clear this was something of a language barrier here. What had happened was that Quinn had figured the guy for bright and generally being not-our-regular-mark and immediately slipped into her second natural recursive, questionably-grammatical, wildly indirect speech, with the assumption that he would pick up on it. The stilted (to her ears) formality she'd begun with seemed to be easier for him to read. That was fine, she could cope with that.

Of course, the double-talk had only emerged when he asked her about herself, so perhaps it was really more of a defense mechanism activated without her conscious knowledge. Hey, whatever the hell it was, it had worked. Of course, now it occurred to her, so would have saying she didn't want to talk about it, but that wasn't the Quinn way.

On the other hand, he could pick up on an indirect question, or rather read her intentions in what she was saying, and understand that she was interested in his ethical principles without her having to say it, so he obviously was smart - he just didn't stretch his tricksy muscles very often. Probably if it weren't for whatever principles he had, he could have made a good crook.

"Yeah... I mean, yes, Sir Aorle, I'd be interested to hear about your Code," she said, and gave a slightly sheepish look intended to reflect her knowledge of her own lack of knowledge in the area. "I just kind of do what's next, I've never understood the idea of living by rules, so I'd like to hear it." Now she thought about it, ethics had always been something of a closed but interesting book to Quinn, who made do with illiteracy in the matter. Rule-abiding knights were probably her polar opposite here.

And then of course he asked her about herself again. But this time it was the future. The future she could live with. Nobody expected you to know exactly what you were going to do in the future, and nobody was going to have a problem with you for something you hadn't done, so the future was a safe topic. You couldn't lie about the future, almost by definition. She culd say anything she wanted.

"I don't know," she said honestly, realising with a self-directed grin that she'd barely thought about it. "Don't know, I don't tend to do plans. I just deal with things when they happen, which they invariably do." Quinn shook her head, realised she was speaking Quinn again, and corrected herself, "I mean, my life tends to be pretty unpredictable. I don't have much use for plans that strecth much further than a week into the future. Mainly," and this was another thing that she only fully realised when she said it, "because I don't know what I want." I mean, yeah. I do all this stuff because I think I like excitement and danger and stuff, and it turns out it just scares me and makes me want to go home. I hang around, do shows, drink and bitch with the other luvvies, and I want to be out risking life and limb for the shiny stuff. I know what's good for me - mostly - but not what I want.

After a moment, she realised she was still in a conversation here and decided to ask the other question she'd been wondering about. "And well, how about you, Sir Aorle? You've got a well-put-together operation - I mean a fine stronghold and body of soldiers here. What's it for?"

Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Each false start drew a fresh smile of amusement from the templar, even a chuckle in places. Part of him considered stating he did not need quite so much help, although instead he let his pleasant grin speak for him as he began mentally compiling a knight-rogue dictionary, with possible sprinkles of guttersnipe. This turned out to be easier than expected, as the more 'enlightened' aristocrats of his homeland were known to say one thing and mean another.

So, where to begin? "When I think of the perfect knight, I envision a man who loves his land and people. A man mighty and fierce on the battlefield and yet so gentle that children swing from his beard without fear of punishment. That ideal inspired me to strive towards knighthood, as well as to shave regularly." Of course, his touch of humour was not entirely accurate - he had not yet needed to shave. Part of Aorle - probably his face - wondered how he would look with a beard, but at so young an age the mystery would remain unsolved.

In a strange way, knowing that Soubrette was a criminal gave him more respect for her. In his mind, a criminal was one who ignored their conscience, yet she had risked her life to protect another and in coming to him with these questions was taking responsibility for the welfare of her own soul. This impressed him. "More seriously, my lady, the Code is based on there being two types of fighter or nobleman. Those who believe that people exist to defend their position. And those who believe our position exists to defend the people."

"A Temple Knight follows two basic codes. The Code of Piety and Code of Chivalry. There will be much to hear." Sir Aorle warned gently with a smile. "No dozing." Then he began, reciting his tenets with clear passion and reverence in his voice. "The Code of Piety. This is what my church bids of me, so that my sword and faith serves both Heaven and earth fairly... Be generous to those in need. Be humble and respect the helpless. Defend the church, the faithful and the ideals they stand for. Live in accord with the Teachings of Angels. Love both land and nation. Make war upon the Infernal and do battle with the unholy. Permit no evil within thy power to oppose. Be honest and fair in all dealings. Never yield before the wicked. Be faithful to worldly duties after those of Heaven." The look in his eyes as he spoke those tenets was nothing less than adoration.

Once again, his attention seemed only partially fixed on Soubrette, and his mind focused on the second Code he lived by. "Now, for the Code of Chivalry and Knighthood, the duties of office... Administer justice. Face death with honour. Defend the weak and innocent. Destroy evil in all of its monsterous forms. Demonstrate courage in word and deed. Do not be blinded by anger. Exhibit manners. Fight with honour and trust. Never abandon friend, ally or noble cause. Never betray a confidence or comrade. Serve thy liege and people. Show respect to authority. To speak only truth and remain faithful to thy pledged word. To uphold mercy, justice and all that is good."

"And finally, the Paladin Credo. Better to do right and die than to do wrong and prosper." The core tenet of his belief, the basis of everything he stood for. "All this is my vow, taken before the angel Amaranda." For most knights of his order, the ceremony was conducted by a priest or elder knight within the temples. To be knighted directly by an angel was a rare and noteworthy event.

This was a long answer to her interest, but this was a matter well worth the detail. Her own answers intrigued him on one level, and what he expected on another. From what he saw, the criminal lifestyle was unrewarding and meaningless. Perhaps fun, but overall only done in the pursuit of nothing greater than mere chips of coloured glass.

Nearing the rampart, he turned and sat against it, leaning against the upwards slope as though it were the back to an earthen chair. Perhaps this was a vulnerable position and a signal of trust. Or perhaps he knew something she did not. "How do you feel right now? I mean knowing Kira is safe, seeing her with a new home and family. Well done for your part in that." From his position, he touched his fist to his chest in salute.

There were so many levels to Soubrette's next question that Aorle struggled with where to begin. Why they started? His plans for the Lightswords? The compound? He chose to answer on the most basic level. "This well-put-together operation is for making good use of my exile." He chose to speak rogue partly because the consistant rephrasing entertained him and partly to show Soubrette that he was not offended by her own choice of wording. Thinking of what to say next, he made an offer. "We will be fighting Free Companies, mercenaries, who have taken over many of the homes in Shim. Are there any homes or families you wish us to take special care in protecting?"
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

As the conversation continued, Quinn picked up from the smile on the knight's face that he didn't really need a running translation, but it obviously amused both of them to pretend that he did.

Despite his spirited attempt to pepper the explanation with humour, which he could obviously tell she appreciated, what he was saying still sounded intensely alien to her. I mean, loving people she could understand; they were depressingly stupid sometimes, but she could see the attraction. Probably where she fell down was the idea of loving a people, and a land as well. To be devoted to the idea of a particular geographically-determined bunch of people and a particular bit of rock seemed bizzare. On the other hand, Quinn did love Marn, in a depreciating, that-old-bastard kind of way, but she couldn't imagine going to fight for it. She responded with the appropiate grin and waited for him to elaborate.

What she suspected but did not say was that 'land and people' was a platitude and Aorle was no more devoted to any one land or people than another - or why wasn't he back home serving and protecting the Kreuzlanders?

His second description of the Code made more sense to her - both as a poetic piece of word-turning-around and an explanation of his opinion - not to mention a catty knock at noblemen in the first category.

As for the Codes of Piety and Chivalry, they both sounded, well, good, if a little abstract. She took careful mental note of them anyway, as she always did in situations like this for research purposes if nothing else, but while every word Aorle had spoken was one she understood, and the sentences he put them into were sentences she understood, she wasn't sure she truly understood the Codes. To her, they sounded ike abstract platitudes. To him, they informed a practical, pragmatically good way of life. However, she doubted that there was anything more to be learned on that front simply from asking more questions. It was something you had to observe.

She was pondering all this was they approached the rampart, and Soubrette appeared deep in thought, not having spoken for some time besides 'yes,' 'mm-hmm' and 'right' type noises to show she was listening. That was the trouble when she acted herself; her speech had two settings; talking all the time or not at all, which sometimes startled people who weren't used to it.

He chose to sit against the rampart, taking a lower position, which she half-heartedly analysed in terms of body language and status - only half-heartedly, because she was fairly sure that he did so knowing she would do that, and therefore the most likely explanation was that he did it just to mess with her.

Yeah, Soubrette Quinn, that annoying little self-referential voice of hers goaded, how do you feel? Whoever you are...

"I don't know," was her honest reply. "I really don't know." She gave him a slightly wry smile with the knowledge that just as he had revealed something very personal to him in the form of the Codes, she was about to reveal an idiosyncratic mind-function of her own; "I mean, it was pretty much down to my taking a job for Panterras that she got out in the first place. Score one for me. Only, I didn't go in and rescue her - I just chose to let her escape. Score a quarter, maybe. And then, on the very same job, I come here and masquerade as a refugee - I'm not sure how much of this you've heard - with the intention of finding out Uluki's secrets for her enemy. Minus one, at least. I manipulate Uluki and Rollick into going to Panterras house, which for all I knew could have been a trap if it weren't for the fact that he wasn't really smart enough - minus another one. Then I accept the job of killing Kira and actually conspire to save her - score one. Then I use the same manipulation to bring Panterras into a death trap. Don't ask me how to score that."

It was only as she'd actually been saying it that she realised Aorle might not have known the full extent of her dodgy dealings here, but at the same time she realised she wanted to tell him. It was kind of a relief after how Uluki and Julen had been so polite about the whole thing to hear it in her voice and be sure that it happened. "So the way I see it," she concluded, "I'm still on minus three quarters."

Quinn smiled to hear the words 'well-put-together operation' coming out of this knight's mouth. Exile, as well? This guy just got more interesting. Of course, she had heard about Shim, but had tried to put it out of her mind, because the only person back there was Brighella and she didn't know what to think about him, so tried not to. She swallowed.

"There's a jeweller called Brighella," she began, and had no idea how to finish. She let a fond smile cross her face, and said, "Don't let him rip you off. That guy takes doing wrong and prospering to a whole new level."

She paused, still mulling over the Credo, and come out with, "Does it have to be an either or?" A pause for her mind to catch up, and she explained, "The Paladin's Credo. I mean, I've done pretty well out of this situation, financially. I ain't dead. Does that mean I'm doing wrong?" The question was only half a joke.

Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

So those were her doubts? One of the reasons people could be wary of faith, they expected faith and codes and honour to be all about sacrifice. And yes, for a Knight of Holy Order of the Sundered Wing, sacrifice was a major aspect of their teachings... and as such was given the regard it deserved. To do otherwise would be failure by design. Demanding needless sacrifices in the name of faith was self-defeating, and far from the way of good.

"Not so, my lady." Sir Aorle replied in answer to her doubts. "Sacrifice without purpose is self-flagellation, which we oppose rather fiercely. When we all help each other, everyone prospers. When we act with cruelty, all suffer. Most of us here have done well for our actions. My armsmen have new weapons and armour, supplies and loot from battle. I have earned a knighthood in the Holy Order of the Sundered Wing. All here have gained from doing good. There is no wrong in that."

When she mentioned the jeweller Brighella, he was unable to share the joke. The choice to do right or wrong was a serious matter for the Shining One. By how Soubrette spoke of him, he expected no worse than a merchant prone to dishonest dealings, and so resolved within the privacy of his own soul to defend the jeweller and his family. No one ever 'deserved' the ravages of brigands.

"You were very brave, my lady, when you first confessed to us. You risked our wrath and that of Panterras for the sake of a child in need of your aid. When you discovered harm that would come of your assignment, you took steps to correct the situation. There is no more we could ask."

"There is information I would ask of you, my lady. You may know of our victory against the crime syndicate controlled by Dominic Snyde." As far as Sir Aorle was concerned, Dominic Snyde was only a bandit who happened to dwell within the city. "He lost fifty-three ruffians that day, and much of his business. I need to know what danger remains to these people when I march for Shim. What know you of his gang?" Suddenly, his composure dropped and his voice turned oddly thick, anyone could tell the thought troubled him. "I will not bid you go near his organisation. I would never expose any woman to such horrors as would be at their hands." With deep, ragged breath his demeanor eased. "Only what accessable information there is on his previous numbers and holdings so we know the effect of our strike."
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Despite her having slipped back into an indirect, half-joking way of phrasing things, Sir Aorle didn't treat Quinn's question as a joke. She was grateful for that and relieved that she wouldn't have to try and rephrase it. She wasn't asking such questions, she told herself, because she was interested in adopting any kind of a moral code - she just wanted to see where she stood, exactly.

When Aorle spoke about the rewards of doing good, with the exception of the knighthood it sounded very much like he was talking about plunder - battle spoils, a concept Quinn had a visceral reaction to. She didn't prise her rewards out of anybody's cold, dead hands - she talked their warm, live hands into handing it over, and what was more said hands were still warm and live when she'd done with them. That is, with the exception of Panterras, who she'd led into a fatal ambush, which was maybe why his money currently felt like it was burning a hole in her pockets.

As if he was reading her mind, this was the next subject Aorle touched upon. Quinn was surprised to find his approval comforting, to some extent. The 50-Bishani coins she was carrying certainly felt a little lighter. Suddenly she resolved not to bury this job's taking, as she tended to on other jobs after food, drink, lodgings, transport and costume had been attended to. After all, she basically had a Holy Knight's word that it was rightfully hers; burying it like some little thief would practically be disrespectful.

"That was you?" she gasped when he started talking about Snyde. "I heard somebody gave that fu - gave that nasty piece of work a little of what he deserved, but I didn't know it was you. I guess his remaining boys aren't talking."

Despite the grim subject matter at hand, Quinn allowed herself a small mental grin when Aorle said 'ruffians' - I mean, who says that? She made herself look serious when the knight gave his warning, and she agreed with him. She wouldn't have touched Snyde and his mostly late gang with a bargepole, and her sense of self-preservation still wouldn't have allowed her to go near them, despite the decreased numbers - well, unless Zaryel was with her. This made her picture Zaryel in a dress trying to get Snyde to take him on - mainly because humour was her brain's natural defence against the horror of thinking about what Snyde actually did. I mean, there were always prostitutes around the theatre. Quinn, or more often Zanni and Columbina, had known plenty in their time. But they were the kind who were self-employed, or working for a Madam - they didn't have some man who practically owned them. Even to the moderately amoral, Snyde was a bastard.

Quinn pushed all that out of her mind and focused on the question, tapping into her vast repository of tavern hearsay and information from Ears on the criminal workings of Marn. "The last thing I heard - this was pretty recent, not long before you hit him - Snyde had sixty-something people; this source of mine was telling another guy that he knew of about fifty and believed that there were ten or fifteen more, so sixty-five, at the outside." She let the corner of her mouth turn up in a kind of righteous mental gloating. "...Which means you've crippled him. I mean, what's the most he could have left, a dozen or so people?" She sobered when she remembered the reason he'd asked. I mean, she would still never have tried to take the guy on alone, and if the warriors were all gone to Shim, she was probably the measure of the kind of physical force and weapons expertise that would be protecting the base while he was gone, which is to say, none of either.

"I could ask that guy - my source in Marn - for fresh figures, if you like." She suggested, then added, "At no danger to myself - I wouldn't have to get near the gang." The idea of Ears working for a Paladin, even indirectly, was an interesting one to say the least, but of course all sorts of people descended the stars to the Hat Celler to ask his advice, lots of them in disguise. If she could conceive of another Paladin as shrewd as this man, there was no reason to assume they wouldn't make use of his services.

"I suppose the threat to the people you leave behind depends on exactly who it is stays behind. If they have my physique and lack of arms training, what remains of the gang would still be a threat if they decide to make a grudge attack." Who am I kidding, when they decide to make a grudge attack. "I mean, I wouldn't face them down unless I had a friend with a big sword beside me. I hope that helps."

Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

When she caught herself swearing, the knight laughed out loud. The description fit, and he was far from offended. While himself prone to courtly language, his distaste for profanity was as an instrument for degredation or intimidation of the defenceless, and this was neither of those.

In response to her gasp, he merely nodded. To elaborate further would be to brag pointlessly.

"Perhaps your source could pass information out?" Sir Aorle commented thoughtfully. "In particular of Snyde's defeat, that his gang is crippled and he is now vulnerable. The right word perhaps could bring him further troubles. As you are the expert in these matters, the right word would be left to you." Climbing to his feet again, he gave a half-bow in acknowledgement of her expertise.

Having stood, he now took one of Soubrette's hands. "You will be helping a great many people by doing this. For that I thank you." He kissed her hand again and then touched it to his forehead. Then a thought occured to him. "I understand that information is your trade. One event you may wish to know of is that the demonhag is no more. Speak to Cherie for confirmation, although be easy with the matter to her." While perhaps unknowing in how such matters worked, he surmised that few people would come near enough the lair of their own free will to discover the fact for themselves. Everyone who knew that the creature had perished were now inside the compound and not spreading the tale to the outside world. Presumably people would be interested in knowing that the infernal crone was vanquished.

As for fresh figures, the holy warrior's opinion was mixed on the matter. He was very thorough by nature, and confirmation was always worthwhile. However, any growth in Snyde's numbers big enough to matter for this would likely be already known to them, and they would need to give something up in exchange for information that they probably already have. "Very well, so long as neither you or I will be indebted for these figures." Bluntly, the last thing a knight of the church could afford would be to owe a favour to a figure of the underworld.

"My retinue will go with me. Rollick & Uluki have allies of their own remaining here." For a moment, he considered mentioning the vestigal militia, but thought better of it. While he mostly trusted Soubrette, he decided that he did not want the existance of a volunteer militia becoming known until they were ready. At worst, it was a tactical liability, at best it created unwanted expectations. This was also part of why he gave no details as to their nomad allies. "What form Snyde's attempt at vengeance takes will involve more than a direct assault upon the compound. We need to keep him on the defensive. To that end, do you have friends with big swords elsewhere who would be grateful to you for finding them a contract?" The elsewhere was meaningful, although not emphasised in his tone.

Once again, he was intending a favour towards Soubrette. By having her make the introductions, he was providing a way for her to earn credit with her more battle-ready friends.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Ears had actually been fishing for who had dealt with Snyde ever since it happened, so she was sure he would appreciate the info. Any numbers he had on the gang would come free in exchange.

"I'm sure he could." Quinn was, undeniably, impressed with this Paladin. "And you're right - he could end up being finished off without you needing to go near him again. It's nice when the people whose expertise lies more in the weapons side of things acknowledge the danger words can pose. Well, I say nice. My livelihood relies on people not realising." It came out like another of her half-jokes, but she was beginning to realise they were falling sort of flat.

She couldn't deny that his noble gestures fazed her a little, but she tried not to show it and just replied to what he was doing, which was basically giving away bargaining chips of information for free.

"Thank you," she said, and in an attempt to explain her deal with Ears, she added, "There will be no debts. I mean, you're right to assume that information is currency, but he will consider himself paid in full if I tell him what you said about Snyde. Whether or not the information serves a purpose for the information-giver doesn't matter to him as long as it's true."

The implication of Aorle's 'elsewhere' was not lost to Quinn and once again she felt a little guilty; she hadn't exactly come by their friendship in the most orthodox of ways and was unsure what to think about it. So don't, she thought, as usual. She suspected however that as soon as she got a quiet moment her mind would be making tracks back to this topic.

"As it happens, I do," she said; despite the way she phrased her answer, there was a smile on her face to suggest that Aorle's good intentions were not misplaced - although it might just have been a smile at the very idea of Zaryel or similar working for Aorle. "In Marn, I have the aqauaintance of a good few mercenaries, in particular a very close friend of mine... they're, er, well, he's no Knight Templar," she said, at a loss to explain Zaryel to a Holy Knight without making him sound like some sort of an abomination.

"I mean, he would definitely be more than willing to work for you if you'd have him." For a moment Quinn thought back to the many, many times she'd seen Zaryel slumped over a table at the back of an theatre audience, using his working education in swordsmanship for little more than critiqueing the fight scenes on stage. "Zaryel Ranzenagin," she said, suddenly realising that she was referring obliquely to 'he' as if he was some shady underworld contact like Ears, "could probably use something worthwhile to do with his life."

She sighed, having no idea at all what sort of a picture the knight was taking from all this.

Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Was no knight templar? Well, that was to be expected. Consecrated Knights of the Sundered Wing had proven rare in these parts. All other holy orders were absent as well. The closest thing this region had were the Lightswords, a small personal retinue of a nobleman modelled on a schwertbroderorden. Few governments welcomed such rivals to their power as religious bodies served by their own military forces. None of this bothered Sir Aorle, as the son of a feudal landowner he recognised the necessities of government.

Of course, Aorle knew what Soubrette meant; that her friend came from an unscrupulous background. "Worry not, my friend." A warm hand clasped her shoulder with the intent to reassure, however strong his hands were from the rigours of training, there was also a gentleness and natural care in his touch, so his clasp on her shoulder would feel more like a paused massage than anything else. "Most professional fighters have a need for a worthy cause." Then the trace of a smile as he began removing his hand. "That is how I do most of my recruiting. What will matter to me is that there is no Corruption in their hearts, that they will not harm innocents nor permit they come to harm, that this contract and our cause here meets with their respect."

There was a certain surprise he had noticed before, particularly in his plans. That surprise was familiar to him, the kind of surprise he often encounter when strangers discovered he was both a warrior and the proud owner of a fully functioning brain between his ears. "There is more to being a warrior than killing with a sword, or we would need to spend much time idle lest mathematics be most unkind to the population. Battles are oft won before the first blade is drawn, so the key to a successful warrior is being able to create advantages." He could go on further, but did not wish to prattle unless she expressed an interest.

Back to business. "For the contract, my offer is thus. Seven bishan a day per mercenary, with three days paid in advance, the rest when my own tasks are complete." This much could easily be covered from the profit made after sharing the loot acquired from the series of skirmishes against the gang, enough to cover five hirelings for a week. "Bonuses will be awarded for results, special efforts beyond expected by contract, anything which impresses me or the chance of future association. Rewards may include twenty bishan in coin and goods or equipment valued from fifty as far as two-hundred bishan." While plunder from the gang added much jewellery and trinkets to the treasury, what he had in mind were the several civilian swords captured as new additions to the armoury. As any knight knew, swords were expensive, even civilian swords.

"My terms. They work from outside the base, while the City will not mourn the loss of Snyde's gang repeated raids launched from this compound are sure to annoy the authorities. No innocent is to be harmed or exploited. All loot gained must be declared, most if not all can be kept by the mercenaries but I reserve the right to claim anything I deem important for this compound or my retinue."

"Tomorrow I will be wearing a shiny metal outfit, so do not be alarmed that I am wearing full battle gear." While partially intended as a joke, he understood that civilians felt understandably wary of people dressed for combat. "And I have a request of you, Soubrette. When I return... I would like to see you again." He was not sure why, but he was really enjoying speaking with her.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Quinn bit her tongue and refrained from saying 'define corruption', or rather 'Corruption'; you could in actual fact hear the capital letters Aorle assigned to various abstract concepts. That was one thing he did have in common with the comedia image of a self-righteous Holy Knight. As much as the young knight had gained her respect and despite the occaisional hint of devious genius beneath that lily-white pure and noble front of his, Quinn suspected that biting her tongue was something she would just have to get used to all over again until she worked out exactly where this warrior's fight-buttons lay.

So, were the boys corrupted? Well, yes, obviously, like everything else in the City, but they were, she felt sure, only corrupted with a small 'c'. Much like Quinn herself, or at least Quinn as she had envisaged herself until today. Now, given on the one hand that she was pretty sure ambushing and other such cowardly measures were bad in a way that slaying people left and right in fair combat wasn't, and given on the other hand the apparently universal approval of the most textbook dogooders Quinn had ever met, she wasn't sure if she had been Corrupted or Redeemed. Capital letters and all.

She might as well spread it around, she supposed.

The terms of contract were noted in Quinn's selective encyclopaedia of a memory. Not too high a base rate, but you could really clean up on extras in a job like this. One of Zaryel's least principaled friends had explained to Quinn that working for idealists beat working for amoralists like themselves any time, because other amoralists would be in it for the loot too, but idealists may well let you keep it as long as their principles were upheld.

"That is a generous offer, Sir Aorle," said Soubrette, running through merceneries she knew in her head to try and work out which ones had the brains to paint within the lines here, "and I think I can definitely think of some people who would be appropiate." Her mind whirred for another second. Luki would do, yeah. Her and Zaryel, along with Chiron and that big foreign guy... they should be able to cope easily.

She glanced up when he warned her about his armour, but her smile at his request was a little distracted. "I think that's a request I can grant," she said, still grinning, and reflected that not an hour ago she had been highly reluctant to make the same promise to Julen. Well, an hour was a long time in her business.

"But wait... you leave tomorrow? You don't want to - " scrutinize " - meet the merceneries you hire? Or, ah," she cleared her throat, and gave him a look that was at least 40% playful challenge, the rest amazement, "are you just gonna trust me?"

You can trust me, she was thinking. You'd have to be an idiot or very, very smart indeed, but you can if you want. Amazingly enough, I actually have no desire at all to let you down.

Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Extras were exactly what Sir Aorle had in mind. While a high base pay was sure to welcome among the mercenaries, he would rather provide incentives. Should they show loyalty, or face adversity, then that would reflect in their bonuses. Although he had not offered to pay expenses, meeting those costs themselves would certainly earn a reward. Most of all, what he was able to offer was an honest contract in which the mercenaries would be dealt with fairly.

On the most basic level, someone good to work for. The opportunity for a good deed, working with good people, for a good result. Action and example as the best ways to preach.

A slow smile spread across his face when she agreed to see him again. He did not know what to make of her distraction, but chose not to question it. "My thanks, Frau Soubrette, I look forward to the day." Stepping back on one foot, he delivered a courtly bow with one leg sweeping back as he tilted forwards, then smoothly resumed his usual straight-backed posture.

Were she anyone else, Sir Aorle would have noticed that Soubrette stopped herself from speaking slightly earlier. Professional fighters were experts at body-language, as the next attack or opening could by anticipated through subtle shifts in posture or expression. Regardless, against a talented charlatan, this was one arena in which Sir Aorle would have to concede defeat.

"Trust aside, my preparations will not be finished by then. I shall be able to meet these mercenaries." Another smile formed at the playful challenge. Then he shrugged, the thick-shouldered movement a contrast against how he was standing. "Besides, I much prefer hands-on leadership." This was a matter he had been very conscious of recently, events in the compound had been spiralling out of his hands, as though what he was doing was not so much delegating so much as detatching from the running of the compound.

After today, matters were much improved. A successful adjustment to this aspect of leadership.

While that was a good result, that did not give him much guidance as to the here and now. "Is there ought else you can think of, my lady? I am unsure of what to speak of, but am in no hurry for you to leave."
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Soubrette returned the knight's bow - a tad theatrically, but without the heavy sarcasm she had reserved for Panterras, who she could count on not to spot it. She bowed rather than curtseyed because that was the manner of the theatre, and she felt like she was being more true to herself if she did so; curtseying was somethig one of Quinn's characters might do, but not Quinn herself. Oh dear, was she ascribing heartfelt meaning to routine social gestures now? She better get back to Marn before it was too late.

The mention of 'hands-on leadership' could not have failed to get a smile out of Quinn, if only in her head. She couldn't help it; among her friends it would be considered a dreadful oversight and a display of utmost doziness for one to hear someone unintentionally make a double entendre and not point it out.

"That's great," she said, honestly a little relieved, and added, in the same spirit of playfulness, "I'll just have to see if they're willing to meet you."

"I can't think of anything either, Sir Aorle... shall we speak when I return with the merceneries?"

Again, much as she was having a shall we say interesting time at the compound, Marn was calling a little bit too. It would be different, she supposed, if she brought a little of Marn, in the person of these slick city merceneries, back here.

Ooh. "Just one thing, Sir Aorle, if you don't mind - could you tell Julen, Uluki and Rollick that I'm coming back? I'd rather not speak to them in person before I go because Julen left with a lady and disturbing them might be awkward, and frankly, there's a little awkwardness all round with Uluki... I just don't want to give the appearance of just disappearing, like a crook with no right to be here, the way I turned up."

There were practicalities to this as well as social niceties, or they were kind of the same thing, or Soubrette didn't even know any more. The point was, liking them aside, she was going to have to deal with all these people again and she wanted to present a relatively respectable face. That would do until she grilled herself for motives a little more. She hoped the knight would do the tactful thing and not probe into what exactly she meant regarding Uluki, and to someone as smart as him, the correct explanation should already suggest itself from the information he had. Quinn detected an air of - well, nothing like resentment, more like hurt - from Uluki, and it had to do with her having manipulated her sympathies as a fake refugee when she first arrived here.

Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

"Understood." The nod of acknowledgement was both courteous and business-like, lasting for a moment before the formal manner was discarded. Stooping down, he reached for her hands yet again and brought them to his lips, kissed each hand in turn and then took a long step back... and momentarily adjusted his balance while stood on the uneven slope of the rampart.

A crookedly embarrassed grin showed he saw the event with some humour, before he regained his usual composure. "Meeting you has been a pleasure, Frau Soubrette." Then he was conscious of how late the hour, and his natural protective instinct came out. "Shall I see you home safely? 'Twould be no trouble to do so." One chivalrous gesture which could not go unoffered.

As she had hoped, the knight asked no questions and simply agreed to her request. Were Julen & Rosemary in the process of making-up that was something definitely best not disturbed, and the awkwardness with Uluki he understood - he had known some of the same awkwardness at times. Her kindness and compassion made her very easy to like and to trust, and worthy of the utmost respect, but the sheer extent of her sensitivity was an issue which Aorle struggled with.

The theatrical bow was appreciated as further playfulness of the moment. Yet one more reason he was enjoying her company, although unless she accepted his offer to walk her home, this was the time for them to part company for now.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Amusing as it was, Soubrette didn't have the heart to laugh at Aorle's almost-stumble, because adorable beat out funny hands-down in this situation; she just saw his grin and raised him a toothy one of her own, showing appreciation for the gesture as well as the impromptu slapstick comedy section.

She did, however, let out a good-natured chuckle at Aorle's offer. Hopefully, chivalry aside, he too would see the absurdity; firstly she was about to procure him some ruffians so it would basically have been like keeping an outfit out of the rain when you were only going to swim in it, and secondly, she was the sort of thing young ladies were walked home to keep them out of the way of.

"Thank you, Sir Aorle," she said, "but no thank you. I'm going back down town to catch up with some friends, some other friends, and their big swords. While I'm well aware that the night is full of dangers... well. I'm a fish in water. You... would raise comment, to say the least." She gave a sheepish smile, trying to say it's not you, it's them. "They might think you were a police escort," she half-joked; in actual fact their first thought might well be that she had got caught and this guy was guarding her, although it was probably only on equal footing with him being some rich mark.

"Well, thanks for speaking with me," she said, in a kind of epilogue summing-up mode, wondering if she could actually summon up the chutzpah to try one of her vanishing acts just for effect, "You've been very..." She trailed off, still holding eye contact as hers crinkled into a smile, at a complete loss for words. Time for a resort to obscure and meaningless slang, then. She took a deep breath and bullshitted, "It's been real."

Where was this sudden impulse for impressive theatricality from? Was she just trying to match his chivalric antics measure for measure? The fact of the matter was, there was no dramatic exit in sight. The thing to do was a simple slow walk off, played absolutely cool as cool, and it would be even better.

She reached out - the first time, she realised, that it was her reaching out - took his hand, and kissed it. Because, y'know, there wasn't a lady equivalent she knew of, and she didn't take chivalry without giving as good as she got. Plus she'd read somewhere guys did that to their boss, or their King or something. Basically, it was a gesture, but not of anything besides Quinn's entirely non-malicious desire to mess with Aorle.

Soubrette winked, and attempted the whole walking-off-into-the-sunset routine.

Re: Bargains

Post by Sir Karsimir on

It worked.

As far as such a man can be messed with at least. The rest of the night went smoothly from there. Sir Aorle stood akin to attention as Soubrette left, saluting with his fist to his chest and head bowed as she walked away, then... returned to the others without a pause.

During that evening, he made sure to perform one act of compassion which may have been surprising. He had made some extra food, including meat and cheese and vegetables, and shared it with Tam and Sasha. Both received it with their usual level of gratitude; pleasant appreciation from Tam and all-round miserableness from Sasha. Still, he made sure not to let her attitude dissuade him from a kind act. Training so hard could be potentially unhealthy without a sufficiently robust diet, so after providing them both with extra food, a tankard with one fill of very necessary ale for energy, and enough litres of water, he wished them luck and bid them goodnight.

Gathered with a group of refugees, he shared a church parable, to which most seemed to listen.

Apologies were made to Thetta. He owed her that much. He had handled the situation badly at the time, letting the chain-of-command blind him. Now he saw how to better deal with such an event in future.

During the day, he had resumed his training in armsmanship, having been somewhat falling behind due to recent chaos. Much of the drills paired him with Sigvard, the Lightsword with the most similar fighting style to Sir Aorle himself. Wolf's Tooth was a longsword, the hand-and-a-half design suitable for every technique rehearsed by the knight. Most of the military grappling techniques covered as well built upon Sigvard's skill at wrestling as a sport.

Very interesting were the addition of his countrymen. A number of pikemen and cavalry. This would probably require reorganisation. Still, this was a welcome surprise in such a foreign land.

That night, he came home and was soon prepared a hot meal by the kitchen staff, even though he had missed the main feast. A surprise, but a welcome, thoughtful one. Their kindness was not lost in him.

Next morning, he awoke later than usual, missing his daily prayers at the dawn. Messing with him had worked. Even so, he prepared himself for the day, washing and breakfast and such, and made no delays. The best form of prayer was right action, and he could complete his private devotions after duties at the compound were attended to. Not that this stopped him from feeling edgy.

On his arrival to the compound on horseback, he cast a suitably dramatic figure. Sleek, form-fitting armour of rippled and fluted steel. Fan-like patterns of ridges covered his large shoulder-pauldrons, which needed to be so large to cover the man's own shoulders. Covering his torso was an azure surcoat laced up tightly on the sides and bearing the image of a silver chevron. Raising his hands in greeting would show the palms of his gauntlets to be azure canvas, with the ridged steel over his fist and the backs of fingers, extending over the wrist. A steel mesh covered beneath his arms and draped over his thighs in a dagged skirt, with quilted layers of royal blue canvas beneath. By his side as he knelt was a rounded steel helm resembling a shell, much like those of the City Guard save for the longer visor.

With all seeming in order, he made his prayers in the sun until his new allies were to arrive.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.


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