Author Topic: In The Company of Thieves  (Read 96 times)


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In The Company of Thieves
« on: May 15, 2019, 11:38:13 AM »
In a meagerly furnished inn room, at a dusty, wobbly table, with one leg, shorter than the three others, supported by an empty wooden cigarette box, Caitlin sat across from her friend; eager to show her how to play a card game from his home of Kartakass. If she were a somewhat honest girl, she would have told him that a variant of the game was played " 'Round Kellee way" and that she had played once or twice. If she were very honest, she'd have divulged that she was better at the game than her five sisters and had taught a few Nova Vaasan traders the ropes.  She looked up and nodded with a small neutral “Mmn” as Caelan explained the rules.

“Look don’t come running to me if you screw somethin’ up and get sliced by some knife happy knob. If you wanna play, then pay attention.”

“It ain’t my fault you’re callin’ shite backwards!” In this version of the game, discs were now ‘buttons’, curtains were ‘blinds’, the road was now the ‘river’. The only parts that remained the same were “Raise” and “Fold”. It was all very disorientating.

Caitlin eyed up the cards in the pen, the “Community cards”, and considered them against what she knew she had. She tried to suppress an upwards twitch of her mouth without coming off as too neutral. She looked across at Caelan, who's free left hand twitched upward towards his neck. “He’s nervous; he ain’t got nothin’” She thought. The girl always had an uncanny ability to know these things; her sister even joked that it was her ‘gift’ come late, but she knew better. Whatever it was. It wasn’t that. The problem was keeping her own face in check, but with what the two had in mind, that wouldn’t be an issue. Still. She had to learn the game on its own merit.

Caitlin had set the drinks at the table; a gift from a ‘passable’ lass, to the group of card players at one side of the dingy common room in an unremarkable roadside inn near Kresk. She took her seat within peripheral view of her friend and made quick work to the placinte on her plate with her hands.  The other players kept their cards close to their chest as she placed down the cheap ale, but she didn’t need to see them. The burly red head of equal part hair and muscle obviously thought he had the winning hand. It was written clear as a cantrip all over his face.  She licked her honey covered fingers, then, deliberately, picked up a fork and began to poke at her food, as if she did not want it at all.

Caelan shook his head with a customary smirk. “No blasted luck this round lad.” He said, as he laid his cards down without placing a bet.

Caitlin finished her snack and by the time the next hand was drawn, was moving about the room again, making small chat with the barmaid. With a customary glance behind, she walked by the table and went to scratch at her head.

Only to have her hand grabbed and twisted by the red head at the table. “Oi lass, why don’ you mind your own business”. The words were toned with an obvious intent. He did not release her hand, regardless of the tugging.

“Hey now fellas. There ain’t no need to be that way. What says you we play a game? I know, what about The Wandering Prince?”
The four wronged men, barely risen from their table were stunned into a momentary confusion by the Balok cries of “Yeah son, we know that ‘un!” from oblivious parties on the far side of the room. With that being all the provocation Caelan needed, his voice burst into jaunty, drawn out baritone.

The Prince Slayer Of Maidenheads
He Takes Them Where He Sees Them
And He drives His Spear, Right Into Their Tare
N’ He fills ‘em up with

Caitlin, momentarily enthralled by the incoming punchline, had just enough time to come to her senses, take a long swig from her fat, round bottle of cheap ale from the table in her other hand, pour the rest of the contents over the brute closest her, and slam the bottle down into the back of his head.

“Arrrgh!!” The rest of the Barovian’s obscenities were drowned in waterlogged shouts. The tiny hole of a bar had come to life. Punches were thrown and dodged, tables were turned, and many a boot found many an arse to lodge in.

“I tell you Cat! These Barovians!” Cael had both knives in his hands, merrily jerking his head to the right, so as to deny a black haired and wiry man from grabbing a hold of his hair. If Caitlin were thinking, it would have been very reminiscent of Ambrose with a ball of yarn, but she was not in a state of mind to ‘think’.

“No understanding of fine art!”

Caitlin had found herself with a stool in her hand, which she was using as a half shield , have caddle prod, keeping the angry men at bay.  “I jus’ don’ think they liked ya insultin’ their Mamas , boyo!”

It was as if Caitlin had fired a bolt from her Pa’s crossbow into a crowd of already preoccupied foes. At the mention of their Mothers, several smarter brutes who were able to piece together her insult, dropped their focus on Caelan and turned to face her with a single menacing expression.

“Time ta’ fly lads!” She exclaimed, and with a slight move of her hands and a whisper of words, her boots , more vibrant in their enchantment, almost sparked with her movement as she ducked left, then right around the tables and through the door of the inn. She and her friend, similarly affected  by a spell of his own design, were well along their ways down the road before they considered stopping. But when they did, both let out surely, boisterous laughs.

Such was the way with them.


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Re: In The Company of Thieves
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2019, 02:22:53 PM »
Caitlin had been raised like any good, Tepestani girl, as her mother intended. She gave penance to the Lord of Light for his role in her creation, and the creation of all of Summer’s Children. She offered prayer to the Siblings; prayed for a good catch for the fishers, a good harvest for the farmers, and to keep the malice of the fey at bay. She participated in yearly festivals, laughed at weddings and childbirths, and cried at funerals. Still, often did the young girl without the gift so prominent in her line often called to question the meaning of it all, and most of all, her place in the world.

She knew from a young age that the Church of Wyan’s Inquisition would hold no answers for her. It was not as if she could very easily ask where a girl with no innate talent for magic in a family of Weavers fit into the tapestry. She would thereby with a sentence have her whole family, mother, father, sisters, and all, incarcerated into the flame of local hysteria. No.

For a long while, well into her early adolescence, Caitlin found all of the affirmation she needed from the books left to her by what she, even then, could only assume to be her true father, and the small pamphlets, scattered papers, and bound copies obtained by her sisters from the Nova Vaasan traders twice or thrice yearly. It was a meager library, consisting more of scraps of paper then anything else, but it was something she owned. It was something that only she in the household garnished command over. It was something uniquely hers. 

   And still, as year came and went, the cycle of Spring to Summer to Autumn to Winter and ‘round again continued; The Planting, The Birthing, The Harvest, The Reflecting. The four festival days turned and lapsed upon one another in a meaningless haze. Caitlin wandered the streets of Kellee at one or another, purchasing from the butcher, or the fisher, or the tanner all the while. Occasionally, she would frequent the inn, and share a drink and a tale with the local folk. A young girl alone was not the most usual sight, nor was it completely strange, especially after a long day’s buying and selling. Though it was this night, in the Autumn of her fifteenth year that she noticed something she did not before. A couple of an age just past that of raising a family of many children, dressed in robes of white and green, speaking in quiet whispers to a table of men and women hardly older than she, before leading them up to their chambers. Caitlin tugged upon a young man’s sleeve, and beckoned him question in the lilted tongue of her people.

   “Where y’lot goin’ then?”
   “We goes t’listen to the Preachers give service, goodmaid.” Caitlin was left with a curiosity more insatiable than before. In a moments blink, she had decided that she too would listen to these mysterious ‘Preachers’ in their robes of white and green, if nothing than to see what it was they had to say.

The message was naught like anything Caitlin had ever heard before. Where Belenus spoke of birth by light and trial by fire, and the Siblings two their simple message of good by others, and plenty by harvest, these “Preachers” and spoke of something else entirely. They spoke of a Goddess who looked into the Mist and saw the suffering of man. Of a human woman who became more by beseeching the Mists of Death to Part and allow her entry. They spoke of a woman turned Goddess who pleaded with the very land itself to allow her save the hearts of the human folk within its world from the Monsters, and yes , the duplicitous fey. They preached of the existence of a human ‘soul’, and of salvation and peace after death. They spoke of mercy for the pure of heart and justice for ‘legion’  They spoke of a “Grand Scheme”, a sort of worldly fate that all must play a part in, of a human centric faith where the individual was ripe for saving, and the path would be made clear. The spoke of Ezra, Guardian In The Mist.

It was all of this and more that Caitlin thought of as she sat in the staunch, uncomfortable wooden pew of the Refuge of the Fifth Light in Vallaki so many years later. Speaking with the Ezrites of the Grey City; standing by their side in times of hardship. One could almost consider them companions. Nothing compared to the companionship of her newfound brother in arms, but a type of trustworthiness and friendship existed there none the less. She watched a man she barely knew become baptized. She watched the Lance Corporal sign herself with the pennant of the five sided symbol of the Lady in the Mists. She watched marriage between Preacher and City. She watched Creek in his apocryphal ruminations. She watched the men and women renounce all other gods in praise to Ezra.

And so too did she.

She had decided, at some point in her own mind, that she would fight for their cause and with their cause; that she would use the truth in the teachings of the Church and bring the truth back to her. That there existed someone that could protect against the taint of magic brought forth by the fey, without the taint of the magic itself. That Witchcraft was not inherently feylike, and thereby, not inherently evil.  That practitioners be judged not by their circumstance, but by their actions. She, the Church, and her gift of wisdom and Truth, would defend the public. She would oppose the Inquisition itself if need be.

But for that, she needed to know more.

Her mother had sealed her fate in stone with words many years ago. “Cait Will y’stop askin’ why n’ just do as yer Pa says. I swears it, y’d question The Inquisition as y’were burnin just t’get the last word, you would!”

And she would, and she would die, in the fires of Belenus, or the Gaze of Ezra all the same, knowing that she had perused truth.

Truth was her faith, and she would bring it back to the people of Tepest.
If Ezra was truth, then she too , would save or be saved.
Truth , would save them.