Author Topic: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon  (Read 2567 times)

bobith

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The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« on: December 08, 2021, 02:49:56 PM »
Sacha woke with a start. His breath came in ragged gasps, the thin bedsheet was drenched with sweat. For a moment he'd forgotten where he was. The dingy tenement walls seemed to be closing in on him, an armoire loomed menacing in its corner, standing vigil. A shaky breath, in and out. In and out. He rubbed his face.

It was early morning. The sky was a deep lonesome blue, the kind his street girls would greet after a long night's work. The kind honest folks don't often see, just before the sun pokes its head over the chimneypots but after the night's crowd has thinned. A candle on his bureau sputtered and burned low, wax ran down onto the floor. He cursed. She'd forgotten to snuff it again.

"One of these days yer gonna burn th' place down, Mel." A glance to his left where his beloved rested. Her chest rose and fell in a gentle rhythm, a shock of raven hair sprawled out across the pillow. He smiled and, careful not to wake her, climbed to his feet. "Jus' a dream."

But what a dream it had been. The same damn dream he'd been having these last six months. Seated in an all too familiar barroom, surrounded by his dear friends. Was he back at the Sailor? Guy. Simon. Felix. Even that no good half pint Lily-Rose, a happy meeting of everyone he'd ever let down. Talking, laughing, drinking their cheap whiskey. Guy would have his hand on her leg, no doubt. The dog. It wouldn't be such a nightmare, really, if Sacha hadn't seen this vision a dozen times over. Soon a tremor would shake the walls, the floor would buck and heave. No matter how long and hard he'd scream they all seemed glued to the seat, laughing, their ears closed to his warning. Then the dream would tear itself asunder and they'd all drop into the dark, leaving him alone at the head of the table.

This time Cat and Vani had joined them on the descent, he noted with a bitter grin. Typical. They'd left him too, hadn't they? They all do in the end. He scribbled this down in a journal, frowning at his chicken-scratch scrawl. At least his spelling was getting a bit better. Melody groaned and rolled over, no doubt caught in a terror of her own. The urchin shook his head. Right. The shopping. With a trembling hand he poured a dram of whiskey, downed it, and dragged himself out into the predawn light.

"Eggs, bread, an' uh, Ezra. Wot'd she want for dinner?" He mused aloud. Strange it was, the way life had settled into this routine. Wake up, wash up, shop, work, sleep. It wasn't so bad, he thought. A humble, easy life like he'd always wanted. Why then did he choose to stain the pastures of his future with blood from his past? Sacha couldn't say. Nor did he care, the dream was already beginning to fade as a work bell pealed out from the nearby docks. A crisp sea breeze rolled in and he felt a sort of grim content. Not yet happy, but hey, maybe in due time.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2022, 02:06:31 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2021, 08:50:23 PM »
"Feel that, Sach?" The aging man sat at the stern of their dinghy, a twinkle in his seafoam eyes. "That's th' tradewinds a-blowin'. We'll be back in th' bay afore nightfall."

Sacha rested his chin on the bulkhead and sighed, a tangled fishing net in listless hands. The surf whipped past his face, salt water slicked his sandy hair down flat against his head. His eyes were fixed on the distant horizon, where the sun was beginning to dip below the clouds. Brilliant oranges and violets streaked the sky and a flock of gulls circled in the distance.

"Pa, look, don't them seabirds mean-"

"Good eye, son. Should be mackerel shoaling over that way." His father ruffled the youth's hair and cut the rudder hard. "Keep yer 'ead down, th' boom's gonna swing."

Sacha ducked, as bidden. This, he recalled, was a gybe. Turning the aft end of the ship across the wind, and, if you weren't careful when the boom swung it'd catch you clean across your skull. Something every sailor learns the hard way. Wind filled the sail and they were off towards what was hopefully the night's meal. A weak smile played about his lips as his father launched into a shanty.

"Wives are waiting, by the pier 'ead,
Gazing seaward, from the 'eather;
Bring her 'round, boys, then we'll anchor
'ere the sun sets on Sainte Luciennes"

One of the kittens hocked up a hairball and shook him from his reverie. Back in the tenement, just after sundown. A puddle of piss sat in the corner. He scowled.

"Ezra, Mel-" Mel was working late. He reached for the rag that sat atop the cupboard with a sigh and set about the cleaning.

"Ships return now, 'eavy laden
Mothers holdin' babes a-cryin'
They'll return, yet, when the sun sets
Sailing 'omeward to Sainte Luciennes."

He finished the tune his father had started all those years ago in a warbling tenor, strained by half a lifetime of chain smoking and abuse of whiskey. How long had it been since he'd visited the grave? It was hard to say. At least a year. Sometimes it's easier not to think about these things, but a stormy night like this one had a way of dragging everything back to the surface like a dying wave over shallow seas.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2022, 04:13:47 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2022, 08:34:26 PM »
Mel was back on the poppy, Sacha reckoned. It was in way her movements languished, unsure of their direction, a certain tremor to her hands. The way her pupils caught the light. Staying out into the wee hours of the morning and slipping into bed beside him without so much as a word. She'd stare out their tiny window like some great, mournful songbird, a slur in her words nipping at the end of every sentence.

"Nothing's wrong, mon couer. I'm tired. Work's been killin' me."

He wasn't quite sure why it bothered him. After all, he indulged whatever vices reared their ugly head. Booze. Dice. Other women. Sure, he lied. It's always easier to lie, especially to somebody who loves you. What was it, then, that made these lies so hard to bear? Perhaps he'd always thought better of the woman he'd sought to wed, or he simply thought she deserved better for herself. Lies were his burden, his alone.

The last two leads on jobs had dried up just as winter set in over the Ouvrier, his coinpurse was rather light in his pocket as he trudged home from the barroom. Frost clung to the eaves and gables, the hem of his cloak. The sun's last rays cast shadows over each alley as he worked his way through the throngs of ragged men and women. Through the snow loomed the crumbling hulk of the tenement hall, aging and rotten. Sacha threw the door wide, climbing the stairs to his empty room. One of the cats twined its way between his legs and he bent down to scratch it.

"Jus' us tonight, eh Bijou?"

The cat mewled a quiet reply and skittered back under the bed as Sacha thumbed open his journal, to pen a letter he'd never send.

Dearest Rochelle,

I hope this find you well, as well as any letter can with you so close to Ezra's bosom. The season's change has once again brought you and your brother to mind, I miss you both sorely. This past week I ventured to Barovia, where I buried your bodies nearly a year ago. It was bittersweet, to say the least, paying my respects. When I lay roses on your unmarked grave I nearly wept. Nearly. All that I feel pales in comparison to your love, all laughter falls flat. A falling out over coin, was it? Or pride. If only I could tell you how sorry I am, running off into the night the way I did. Took the gold and all your maps with me like the bastard I've always been fated to be.

I did return for you, for what it's worth, but what I found there has haunted me since. I'll never know how you met your end in those woods. In some ways that's a blessing. If there is an afterlife I hope we meet there, so that I may throw myself at your feet and beg for forgiveness.

Yours Eternally,
Sacha

« Last Edit: February 02, 2022, 04:41:11 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2022, 09:43:31 PM »
If there's one thing that never seemed to change, it was how damnably stupid love could make a man. Or a lass, in Connie's case. Poor Connie, she was always was one of Sacha's favorite girls, a plain old down to earth wisp of a woman with a voice like honey and eyes the same grey-blue of the midwinter Pernault. Eyes like those warranted a hand far better than the one she'd been delt, long nights on the docks and in the dimly lit barrooms of the Marchand, scraping out a meager living on her back. He'd always told her that, when she'd come knocking on his door late at night sobbing after a date gone sour. For a moment it seemed like she might just listen. She'd found herself a beau, a laborer down at one of Bellegarde's warehouses. Seemed like an honest sort. Held a job, at least. That was more than Sacha could say for himself. Procuring, for lack of a better word, hardly counted as a living. Neither did the extortion that came with it, nor burglary, smuggling, or any of the other innocent little ways he'd found to get by.

Sacha heard through the grapevine they were to be married. Proper domestic bliss, it was. Until her man got a couple drinks in him, or his clothes weren't folded the way he liked, or she brought home the wrong kind of fruit pie from a trip to market. Then all hell would break loose, and with it a flurry of excuses. Oh, she'd slipped on the stairs. They were awful narrow, you know. A bump on the head from helping her lover with the dockwork, a barrel had rolled off the shelf and, somehow, clean into her ribs. She was running out of lies and Sacha was running out of patience.

Melody had dropped by one night while he was nursing a bottle of cheap whiskey at the usual spot. The Diamond was empty save for a pair of gamblers in a far corner, enamored with their dice. In hushed tones she'd detailed Connie's plight.

"Th' problem is, Sach, she loves 'im. You know 'ow that goes."

He knew. It was the same reason he couldn't seem to stay away from the poppy loving troublemaker that shared his bed. That said, Sacha hardly cared. It was better the girl be heartbroken than six feet under. Besides, she'd never find out it was him, right? All his softness and care for Connie and the rest of his girls aside, he still owned them. Their lives and coin were his, and as such they were his to protect. Nobody was going to take a single one away, especially some halfwit hired hand who loved booze more than his woman. More important than any dim sense of right and wrong or even Connie's life was Sacha's pride, and it was on the line. Even when he'd had nothing, he'd clung to that pride. Unshakable. His mind was made up, quiet plans were laid out across the bar top. The only question that remained was who would pull the trigger.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2022, 03:16:50 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2022, 10:09:53 PM »
"I've been where you are, kid."

Guy was seated opposite Sacha at the conference table in the basement of the Mutinied Sailor, just before dawn. Brosse must've been on watch, perched by the door with musket in hand. Guy's tricorn hat was tipped to the side, his black suit stained with blood. The rag he'd used to hide his face during the night's excursion sat on the chair beside him.

"I knew Pauline, an' Fiona. Fought in th' revolution, th' civil war too. An' I'm tellin' ya, it went to 'ell every single time."

Sacha shifted in his seat, moody. He propped his chin up with his arm.

"That fire in yer belly, wantin' to jus-" Guy broke off, dragging from his cigarette. "Burn it all. Wipe th' slate clean. I've felt it. But a fire that rages uncontrolled won't get us nowhere. You gotta direct it."

Sacha reflected on this, sequestered away in some noblewoman's bedchamber months later. The pair had slipped into a comfortable silence, which had given him ample time to think. Alone. That fire had long since burned out. He remembered how ready he was, then, to die for the cause. To go to any lengths for his brothers in arms, to finally change this damned city. Things changed, even if the city didn't. It was but a few days ago that he'd given the order that a man should die. Was it an innocent man? No, but despite this something just wasn't sitting right within his heart. Perhaps his reasons for the decision didn't quite line up with the idealist he'd always fancied himself to be, perhaps it was simply that cold blooded murder had become a knee jerk response. Burn it all. Guy had said it best, as he so often did.

"Do you really wanna put a bullet in Vallaint's 'ead? Boucher's? Could you?" Sacha had dodged the question back at the Sailor, he evaded it even now.

If that boy he used to be, the one sweating in that basement, could see the future, what would he think? The youth would surely think he'd sold his soul. Or Guy, or his dear sister. What would they think? Sylvie had always been the practical one. Four years older and twice as smart, she'd found her way off the streets and out of the city years and years before. Last he heard she'd a husband and children of her own. Perhaps he treated her well. A rarity, it seemed, in Sacha's world. She was somewhere in Saint Luciennes, giving her progeny a childhood just as happy as theirs, back when Ma and Pa were alive. Working as a tailor, maybe. Sacha smiled at the thought, though it soon faded. He doubted she'd hold the man he'd become in high esteem.

It'd seem he'd lost a piece of himself somewhere along the way. It could've been when he blew that wagon driver's brains out onto the dirt road to Chateaufaux, or when he'd snatched that heiress with Felix. Maybe every person that came into his life and left without saying goodbye had taken a good chunk of his soul with them. When did the lines between "the cause" and "the solar" become so blurred?

Tonight, it seemed, wouldn't bring him any answers. Nor would he coax them from his bottle of cabernet. In any case, there was no going back now.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2022, 12:21:41 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2022, 11:26:13 AM »
Lounging on the pier as the sun dipped below the great city gates Sacha tied a series of increasingly complex knots in his line. The gulls circled overhead hoping for a taste of the minnows gasping in his bait bucket, the sea of sorrows lapped at the barnacle encrusted dock, singing out a gentle lullaby, keeping time with the shouts and grunts of laboring dockhands. He stared out towards the horizon between casts, watching the ships roll in and out of the bay. It was perfect. A numberless cigarette dangled from his thin lips, the smell of salt and damp and dying fish hung over the eastern quarters like some noxious cloud. He didn't mind. There was no sweeter perfume to be found clinging to some hussy in a west town bar, nor a more fragrant rose to be plucked from the soil of the eastern farmlands. With any luck, he'd be eating good tonight. Fishing had a way of soothing his raw nerves, shot from the day to day bustle of the city. Fish didn't talk. They didn't complain, or cut deals, or need anything at all from him but to be plucked from the water. They didn't protest when gutted for his dinner. Indeed, the seas were just as bountiful as in his father's and grandfather's time, ripe with good vittles and a bounty of solitude for any man willing to reel it in.

A happy little sigh escaped his lips along with a puff of smoke. He'd splurged on a pack of imported cigarettes from down in Sourange. Any day could be a celebration if you made it one, and little luxuries like these were well deserved, he thought as he took another triumphant drag.

Sacha's mind wandered back to the night he and Melody had met. Purely by chance, in the abandoned warehouse that was her makeshift home. It had been his, once, during some of his hard out years best forgotten. He'd been fishing that day as well. Caught a few too many fluke to keep and eat. Rather than leave them to rot, or try and pawn them off to the fishmonger, he'd decided in a rare moment of kindness to return to his old haunt and see if he could rustle up some dinner for the locals. There was a lass with him too- what was her name? Whatever it was, it didn't exactly roll off the tongue. A Barovian, or something equally foreign. They'd stepped into the warehouse with their cargo of fish in tow and immediately Sacha wished he hadn't. All those long nights huddled on a straw pallet came rushing back. The same reeking air, the same filth-encrusted men and women. The same sores and rotten teeth. While the faces might have changed that tangible feeling of desperation sure hadn't. An old beggar approached, a man he'd recognized.

"You brought some coin for old Ezekiel?"

No, they'd brought dinner, and even if he did have a solar to his name Sacha wasn't about to fund anyone's less than savory habits. A glance to the woman he'd been gallivanting around with. She looked ill at ease but, in a moment of kind foolishness, slipped the old man a couple pieces of gold, if only to shut him up. So they cooked, burning the trash heap in the middle of the den for fuel, and gradually the street scamps began to relax, even warm to the pair. Save for one, tucked away in her corner with a bad case of the shakes. She might have been a real looker, if it wasn't for the dirt and the glazed over eyes of a fiend.

Trouble walked through the ruined door. It wasn't so much that Sacha saw them come in, but the way the beggars shied away to distant corners tipped him off soon enough. A Caliban, and two goons near as ugly as it was.

"Where's my cut?" It demanded, while the lackies made their rounds shaking down every single poor soul in the warehouse. It's beady eyes registered Sacha, then the Barovian girl on his arm.

"How much for your life?" The monster grunted at Sofi. Sofi, that was her name. Sacha roused himself from his daydream to toss out another cast, yawned, and slipped back into the past. Not a single solar, he'd thought, but he wasn't about to lose face in a room full of his countrymen.

"Seein' as she belongs to me, she don't got any coin. It's all in my purse. Let 'er go." Sacha tossed it at the monster's feet and moved his hand a touch closer to the gearling tucked in his trousers. It was a boldfaced lie. Twofold, the foreign lass was rich, didn't speak a lick of mordentish, and Sacha was hardly the sort of man to have girls working. Hell, he was scarcely more than a common cutpurse way back then. The bluff paid off. Satisfied, the Caliban scooped up Sacha's life savings and retreated back out into the night. Sofi made her escape a few moments later. Funny enough, that same Caliban was found some days later in an opium den with an acute case of lead poisoning. Died on the spot, the doctor had said. Completely unrelated to be sure.

The woman in the corner finally stirred.

"You don't seem so bad as th' Madame." Her nervous eyes darted about, her hands shook. "Got room fer another girl?"

He'd asked for her name, she'd asked for a smoke.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2022, 01:14:50 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2022, 10:45:15 AM »
Sacha dangled his legs off a bench in the Atelier while the young noblewoman scurried about, toying with bandages and all manner of herbs in an effort to patch up his broken nose, busted lip, and wounded pride. He leaned back against the piano that was serving as a makeshift operating table and contemplated the blank walls, once adorned with paintings. Blood stained the frock under his waistcoat, there were fresh rips at the seams of his silken trousers. His face was swollen and all things told he looked a proper mess.

"Par Ezra, this is my best damn suit." He groused. The girl paid him no mind as she smeared a poultice across a split in his eyebrow, eliciting a wince. "Y'know 'e started it, right? Right?" There was a long pause.

"Shut the hell up, Sacha." She'd substituted a certain guttural four letter verb for "hell." It was rather unladylike. Never in the short time they'd known each other had he ever seen the lass this upset, even an impending forced wedlock hadn't gotten her riled up the way one little fistfight seemed to. Something in her tone actually managed to make its way past his stubborn countenance and closed ears and for the first time in his life, Sacha did as he was told.

Content to sit and be fussed over, he soon turned to thinking of ways to get back at the one armed bastard who'd taken it upon himself to acquaint Sacha's head with a barstool. Beaten by a cripple. What a joke it was. His favorite pocket knife needed the pin reset, his nose needed the same treatment and to top it off he needed a brand new suit. He opened his mouth to complain but a smoldering anger in the girl's eyes closed it right away. Sacha sighed and lit a cigarette.

"I brought ya somethin'." He pulled a bouquet of roses from his battered coat. They'd been ruined by the night's fisticuffs. The highborn girl barely even smiled as she set them on the table, a halfhearted word of thanks was all he got.

Friendship is a funny thing. A few short hours ago he'd counted his attacker among his closest mates. To fall out over a woman, of all things. Money, that he could understand. But a lass? Some men just weren't quite right in the head.

"Priorities." Sacha muttered, getting only a dull glare as a response. Better to say nothing at all. He lapsed back into sullen silence, until the snap of his nose sliding back into place roused him. A pitiful little yelp was all he could muster, contorting his bruised face into a scowl. At least the girl was smiling now. Turnabout is fair play, after all.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2022, 10:38:15 AM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2022, 01:14:58 PM »
Mine own heartily beloved Sacha,

Mother wills, I hope my penning finds you safely, and in good health. I know of your work, and how busy it makes you, and yet the day of importance has come, and I am unable to find you to explain verbally where I shall be. I did not dare step into your housing, as I know you do not want me there, so this shall do.

I shall fix myself, and come home anew so we may be happy together. Proper, as we want, without fear of my keeling over. When this finds you, I shall be in Chateaufaux. I have done wrong, and lied about my absconding to those I care about, but I cannot lie to you, mon coeur. I am to see a physician with an experimental treatment for my ailing health. Hopefully, it will give us more time. All I want is more time.

Being apart does not change how I feel about you. Sure, I am far, and unable to speak with you often, but I want you to remember that I love you. Everything about you. That is what shall get me through this, every thought of you, and our future.

Gaining your love has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know that I love you and always will.

I will come back soon, I promise.

Nàdia


Just like that, she was gone. A whirlwind affair, a few whispered I-love-yous, and a trip out of town. Perhaps it was for the best, after all, he hadn't been entirely truthful with the poor girl. He was sure he'd let her down eventually, like all the others. Something deep in Sacha's gut told him they'd never see each other again. There was some small comfort in this, knowing that someone somewhere at least held him in positive regard, that he hadn't been given a chance to spoil it.

Sacha toyed with the grenade in his hand. He was seated at the bar that served as his desk in what was once the Penthouse Ouvrier. The decor was tasteful, too tasteful. Such finery was wasted on the likes of him. What was once the fight pit was now a library. Tapestries and ornamental rugs sprawled throughout, plush armchairs had replaced the rough hewn stools. The blood never quite did wash out of the floors. Savra would have hated it. Things were finally falling back into place, love aside, in a way they hadn't in nearly a year. They had a plan. Soldiers. Motivation. A place to sit and plot and drink. Soon, he thought, he'd get his revenge. Revenge had carried him forward through his darkest times, a promise he'd made to himself that someday the have-nots would rise to the level of their betters, to finally get that damn polished boot off their necks. They'd raze the Savant to ash and build something better, a place where every man could look each other in the eye as equals. He set the bomb back down and poured a glass of rye whiskey.

To think that damned elf would become one of his most treasured assets. She'd nearly sent him to the guillotine a few months before, not out of malice but of self preservation. Forgiveness wasn't an option, but she was useful indeed and while they remained allies he'd play nice. Was he doing Cat and Vani's memory a disservice? Most likely, but it served him little to dwell on bygone days. For the first time in his life there was nothing tying him to the past. The future was wide, uncertain, and terrifying, and he intended to greet it with raised muskets and a rain of hellfire the likes of which this city had never seen before. A smile played about his thin, scarred lips. D'Honaire would get what was coming. They all would. Someday soon he'd see Nadia again, wrapped in the warm arms of Ezra.

He crumpled up the third draft of his response, tossed it in a corner and took a long swig.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2022, 01:22:19 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2022, 01:20:23 PM »
The woman spoke with a light, musical accent. It was hard to place, and Sacha never did have an ear for these things. Zhersian? No, an outlander.

"The Bellevance girl was bold. Too bold. But you must not let your friendship with her sister cloud your judgement. She and the Gendarme have given us just the catalyst we need. For my aims and your own. Do not lose sight of that."

He nodded and tended to the coals on his hookah, settling back onto the chaise he was draped across.

"I won't leave 'er t'die. You should know that."

"You may not have a choice, Sacha. What will you do when the inevitable occurs?"

The same thing he'd always done. Whether he had any strength left to muster remained to be seen. He stayed quiet for a moment, taking in the artwork adorning the smoke stained walls. Emporer Leon rode his stallion across the mantle above the fireplace. How bitterly ironic.

"I won't rest. I'll tell ya that much." Loosely, he gestured to the painting. "Until we see 'is dream destroyed."

She smiled, if one could call it a smile. It was more a grimace, the cruel twisting of a face unaccustomed to mirth.

"As they say in your country, bien sûr, Monsieur Frelon." Her words carried a mocking lilt but Sacha paid them no mind. He stared up at the painting with open contempt as acrid, tarry smoke poured from both their lips.

"This is 'Azlani, no?" He ventured, changing the subject.

"The finest opium a woman could hope to import." Her heavy lidded eyes registered him coldly. "I trust it's to your liking."

"Always, ma chérie." Another long pull at the hose, his head began to swim. Sacha slipped down into the silent comfort of oblivion. "Always."
« Last Edit: April 01, 2022, 06:38:39 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2022, 11:40:11 AM »
The riot that had swept him up into the fervor of revolution was exactly a year ago. Sacha realized it while walking through the mighty gate that separated the Ouvrier and Savant. He stopped, looking up at its peak where a few crows perched. It was a crisp day, then, much like this one. Varteur had been found dead of a gunshot wound the night before, and Sacha had just left the warehouse that he'd made his home for a time. On the street he was greeted by a throng of men, women, and partisans. One woman, flanked by two burly, barrel chested specimens beckoned him along. Fiona Brassard was her name, but he wouldn't find that out until several weeks later. So he followed, borne along with the crowd. They gained momentum, picking up passing commoners.  Fiona called for justice, whipping the mob into a frenzy. One of her men stopped to mutter with Sacha.

"I don't like this. Gonna be a bloodbath, kid."

It was his friend Guy, the carpenter. Sacha stuck by his side until they reached the gate, blocked by a wall of blue clad guardsmen.

"Stand down and return to your homes." Called a stately lieutenant. "Disperse!"

No such luck. Fiona yelled over the noise of the mob.

"Murderers! You've gotten away with this for long enough. You killed Jacques Varteur in cold blood!"

The commoners lunged forward and the coats levelled their muskets. Sacha's breath caught in his throat but the crowd pushed him on. He was stuck, pressed in between angry bodies on all sides. The air already smelled of fear and gunpowder. This wasn't his fight, was it? They were all going to die here. His heart raced as the distance closed. Then a shot rang out and things went to hell.

"Open fire!" A hail of bullets shredded the front line. Men and women fell broken in the street, blood pooling on the cobblestones. He saw a youth about his age go down, clutching his waist and wailing. A stain was spreading across the boy's chemise, the same color as his sash. The partisans rushed in with weapons drawn, and somehow Sacha's pen knife made its way into his hand. Those who
were wounded were trampled underfoot and the second line of bluecoats let off a volley of their own.

Somehow, through the smoke, screams, and cracking muskets Sacha found his way to Guy's side, scrambling over the mangled bodies. The older man was locked in a struggle with a member of the guard, a tiny little halfling. A strong one, to be sure, she'd managed to wrestle away his musket and was giving him the beating of a lifetime. 

Sacha plunged his tiny knife into her flank, it bounced uselessly off her cuirass. He stumbled back, reaching for a musket that someone had dropped and aimed the bayonet at her. His hands shook. He didn't even know how to shoot the damn thing. Guy had managed to give his assailant the slip, heading for the back lines where Fiona and Felix stood.

That split second of hesitation on Sacha's part was all the Gendarme needed. She smacked him clean across the face with the butt of her pistol. A spray of crimson spittle shot from his open mouth and he fell unconscious at her feet.

It was but a few hours later that he awoke in chains under the Gendarmerie. The very same halfling was tending to him.

"You are either incredibly brave." She muttered as she wrapped a bandage around his arm, a musket ball had grazed him. "Or incredibly stupid."

He spat at her.

"In any case, your life is forfeit. Unless..." She trailed off.

"Unless?"

"My superiors want to bring in those responsible for this. Felix Toure and Guy Maurice. Perhaps you know where we can find them."

"They're 'eroes." Sacha's eyes filled with rage. "An' when you coats chop my 'ead off l'll be one too."

The woman simply shook her head and sighed, leaving him alone in his cell. Something had changed inside him. A fuse had been lit. He winced and lay back on the rattan mat that served as a bed. It was then that he knew he'd meet his end for this. He finally had something to live for, and in turn a reason to die.

Snapping back to the present, Sacha smiled. A pardon had come days later. He knew he wouldn't be so lucky twice.

"Bastards shoulda killed me when they 'ad th' chance." A whisper. He stepped through the gate and threw the men on duty a jaunty little salute.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2022, 06:33:42 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2022, 09:11:48 PM »
Two more friends passed quietly into the night, and Sacha had done nothing but watch. Maybe the smile he'd offered had been some consolation in Arielle's final moments but he doubted it. It wasn't cowardice that stayed his hand, no, it was despair. The great wheels of the Dementlieuese machine just kept on turning with or without him, and sometimes he could do little but sit and wait. It used to infuriate him, being so powerless. Used to.

"It never gets any easier, Zin." He'd muttered.

"If I ever get used to this, put a bullet in my skull."

Zinlys had stalked off to the bar after the guillotine had done its work. Sacha lingered, staring at the blood spilled out across the street, the water lapping at the stones and the gulls overhead. The air smelled of copper and fear. He'd lied to the gnome. By now he was thoroughly used to it. Maybe she was right and a bullet was the only cure. Just a few weeks prior they'd all been sitting in the library. Juliette stammering away, Arielle plotting fruitless schemes, dreaming of escaping the mess the sisters had wrought for themselves. If they sought to be martyred, they'd succeeded. It hardly felt like a victory. There was a yawning void where his heart used to be. Revenge couldn't fill it. Everything he built or would ever build this city would surely destroy. Every friend stolen. Every lover scorned, every plan foiled and every hope dashed. Such was the way of things. As usual, here he was. Left to pick up the pieces.

He found his way back to his drafty, dirty room. Sacha hadn't felt quite this alone in a long, long time. He crawled into bed and pulled up the blankets to block out the last vestiges of daylight, wishing he could cry. Wishing he could feel anything besides this cold resignation. One of the cats joined him in his misery.

"I know, Bijou. I'm a wreck. It's jus' - jus' th' way that lives come together, then fade apart. Over an' over again."

He thought of Melody for the first time in weeks. How she'd toss and turn in their bed, her arm moving from side to side in the grip of some nightmare, but never to him.

"Lives come together, then fade apart."

Then he wept until sleep took him.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2023, 09:52:39 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2022, 03:38:51 PM »
"We gotta get more of it."

The outlander coughed weakly into her fist, her near perfect low mordentish was a hoarse, sleepy drawl. She looked to be on the brink of death, more so than usual. Her pallorless skin was near as grey as her eyes, and her eyes were unfocused, their pupils narrowed into pinpricks. The unhappy pair sat on the Marchand docks, feet dangling above the calm water. Sacha dragged at his smoke, fingers trembling slightly. He squinted at the cherry, then his gaze slid down and focused on some point in the middle distance beneath the gentle waves.

"Yeah." The young man's voice was dull but his posture contained a certain tension. A tremor wracked him and he spat into the water in a vain attempt to dispel it. "What, uh, what'd ya see?"

His old friend looked aside. "I dunno. We can talk about it later."

As he adjusted his vest against the wind he swallowed hard. He knew exactly what he'd seen.

"Do ya reckon it meant somethin?" He asked. She merely nodded in response.

How could it? How could the faces of ghosts, conjured by a mind deprived of sleep and laughter, mean anything at all. Anything beyond the effects of some strange foreign drug. The bartender had become some great horse, its spotted neck stretching and coiling about the ceiling. The lady governor had kissed his cheek, gripping the severed head of a councilman by the hair.  Those Sacha slighted through his short, miserable life had applauded. Long deceased companions had joined them in levity as they celebrated the demise of the city's secret despot. A procession of the dead and dying made their merry way through his head. How could it be anything but a dream?

"Well, I don't think it meant a damn thing, Cethril."

The girl shrugged her narrow shoulders. "You know the coats are gonna be on us after having to save us like that. I coulda died." She paused, then added an afterthought. "Or you, I guess. Still I- I feel like I wanna go back. I failed him, I failed..." She broke off into disjointed mumbling, it seemed the last vestiges of the drug hadn't faded from their battered psyches.

Sacha licked his dry lips. It was a bitter twist of irony to be saved by the people he hated most. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind where his pride couldn't quite see it. He'd failed too.

"We'll 'ave t'get more."
« Last Edit: June 13, 2022, 05:44:59 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2022, 11:50:40 AM »
Even with the winter sun casting its cold light, the Barovian woodlands clung to the previous night's darkness. Things were older here, wilder. The gnarled oaks twisted up between the pines, clawing at the heavens above. Sacha adjusted his cowl and watched a lazy trail of his cigarette smoke waft into the trees. It'd been nearly two long years since he set foot in this backwards country. The bouquet of imported gloomflowers clenched in his sword hand was wilting in the chill air. He stepped into a clearing, where sat a lone windmill. A few stray crows brayed on its roof as he approached.

"Almost there." He muttered, more to reassure himself than anything. Just past this field, if his memory hadn't failed him, was the river and at a bend in that river was a grave. An unmarked grave, but he'd given them a proper burial all the same. Two dear friends he hadn't been able to return home with to Dementlieu. Mars had fought against the Falkovnians. Killed two hawks in his time, so he said. Not that he ever talked about his experiences as a conscript much once he'd returned to a life of petty crime. Sacha's mind wandered to his sister. Rochelle. A failed minstrel. Not for lack of talent or passion, but simply bad luck. She did, however, have the blessing of Ezra herself when it came to dreaming up ways to make coin.

They'd robbed a nobleman at the inn near Vallaki, a nobleman that Sacha had no idea would become one of his closest friends in time. He chuckled. Perhaps Alex would want to reunite with the woman too, or at least pay his respects. He had seemed awful sweet on Rochelle, up until she'd put a gun to his head. Poor sod. Sacha hadn't known that it would prove to be their last caper. They escaped the law, sure, but the beasts of the night were another story altogether.

His footsteps crunched on the day old snow. This was it. By the barren corpse of a dead conifer, stripped of bark, was where two of his oldest and most beloved friends lay. Unceremoniously, he tossed the dead flowers on their grave.

"Ey mates." Talking to ghosts. He'd gone mad, hadn't he? He almost laughed. "I uh, I wanted to come 'ere t'say I miss you. An' uh, that I made it. I made it out. I live like a king- or maybe a prince. Among thieves, at least. I reckon you'd both be proud of me."

A few errant flakes dusted the hem of his cloak, he looked up as a light snow started. "I'd've liked t'see who you woulda became." He nodded, turned on his heel, and headed for the grey city looming in the distance.

Two days later Sacha found himself naked in a cell, chained to the wall. No sooner had he arrived in Vallaki then he was nabbed by a particularly clever Garda over a choice piece of contraband. Turns out a little disappearing dust won't fool the count's men, nevermind their reputation for being stupid, inbred barbarians.

"You lot could sure teach our Bluecoats a thing or two." He attempted to crack a joke with the man tending to his wounds. The guard didn't even pretend to smile and continued his work.

"You don't know when to shut up, do you." It wasn't a question but a statement. The Garda's voice was a low growl, Sacha judged him to be just a couple years older then himself. "Your woman will be worried about you, don't you think?"

An oddly sympathetic question. Sacha shrugged. In his infinite selfishness he hadn't considered the possibility that anyone ever worried about him at all. He and Nadia had a brief, awkward reunion on the outskirts of the city. In his predicament he'd almost forgotten that detail.

"I shoulda wrote 'er more often." He leaned back on the wooden slab that served as a bed. "Somethin' tells me I won't be seeing 'er again. At least not in this life." He'd said those words before, once or twice. Yet here she was, kept apart from him only by the four walls of this cell.

"We'll see," The grim faced Barovian replied as he took his leave. "We'll see."

Sacha's face went slack as the armoured footsteps faded up the hall. "Well, mes amies. Maybe they'll bury me next to th' both of you."
« Last Edit: August 25, 2022, 10:32:33 AM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2022, 10:45:29 PM »
He'd ran like he always did. A few short days after the Garda butchered him in the street he'd nicked a bit of jingle and scrounged up enough fang to leave that damned country and the woman he'd promised to wed behind. Sacha tried to recall his panicked flight from Barovia as he leaned heavy on a railing overlooking the bay. Fops and their hangers-on prattled about their latest ventures and conquests in the street around him, the glow of lamplight reflected off puddles and a cool mist hung in the air. It had rained hard most of the evening but now the clouds had begun to lift, the moon's pale face smiled down on the city of lights. Sacha breathed out a plume of smoke and shook his head. Something wasn't quite right with his conscience, ever irksome. All he knew back then is he had to leave. It was self preservation. She'd nursed him back to health, then up and left to go get loaded off that damn poppy. It goes without saying that she was furious that he'd been caught up in another scheme on the very day they were reunited. Or worse, she was let down. Disheartened, that's how she'd put it. It also goes without saying, he figured, that he'd been forced to leave. It had nothing to do with the prospect of for once in his life walking the line and settling down. He had to leave then and there without saying goodbye. Again.

A colorful throng of courtesans flitted by, draped in this season's best silks. All gossiping. Sacha ceased his ruminating just long enough to watch them wind through the rain soaked terrace, laughing their way to some penthouse party with like minded socialites. There wasn't a face in this crowd he knew. He'd only been away a few short months but it felt like a lifetime. He'd asked for a light just to talk to somebody for a moment, a foreign gentleman who clearly fancied himself the high society sort. It was hardly a conversation, more of a brush off. Sacha fumed. Here he was, stripped of his shooting hand and all his ill-gotten coin then tossed back into a city that cared little for the destitute. The scar at the end of what used to be his right arm throbbed, deep and angry.

He slipped back to his spot on the balcony to wallow in a bit more self pity, then headed to the tenements. He'd need a new room. Hell, Sacha hadn't been back to that sorry excuse of a building in four months, not since he and Melody had their little tiff and stopped speaking. No doubt that meant she'd stopped paying rent too. He lit yet another cigarette to calm his nerves and tried his hand at a bit of mental arithmetic. Two hundred solars for the month. That left only fifty for food and worse, drink. It was starting to seem as though he might have to find a job, and he doubted the dockmaster would be keen on taking on a cripple. Instead his hand found his pistol, tucked away in its new home on the left side of his belt. Sacha drummed his fingers on the hilt.

It was good to be home.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2022, 02:35:52 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2022, 12:01:24 PM »
Four masked figures made their way through a clearing, breath misting in the frigid midnight air. Their flintlocks were clenched in white knuckled fists, their footfalls scarcely made a sound in the frost dusted underbrush. Blood stained their cloaks and cuirasses, still wet thanks to the cold. Sacha's breath had condensed on the bandana around his face, creating a landscape of minute icicles. Firelight glimmered in the distance. Thanks to the magic augmenting his senses he could make out soldiers as they laughed and drank. Their horses were pastured to the left of camp, enough for a whole company of cavalry. All manner of languages floated through the woods. There were Borcans, Darkonians, Falks, even the voices of his own countrymen mingled with the din. The great ruin behind their camp reached up through the night, competing with the trees and mountains for a view of the sky.

Sacha raised a clenched fist. His three companions froze and crouched low as he unmasked and stepped forward into the firelight. A group of on-duty soldiers moved to encircle him as if this was entirely expected and as their commander approached he threw a salute. She was a severe looking woman, Darkonian born to be certain. Her grey hair was cropped close in a militaristic style and her eyes were completely devoid of warmth. Her uniform was unmistakable, this had to be the place.

"Bonsoir." He looked about nervously at the heavily armed men. "I'm a friend of a friend, and I'm 'ere-"

She raised a gauntlet and interrupted. "I don't give a damn if you're the Lady Governor. You got my guns?"

Despite the stress of the last two days Sacha couldn't help but to snort.

"Oui. Sorta. I'll spare you my excuses." He snapped his fingers at the brush behind him. "You three. Get the wagon."

His party revealed themselves and hurried off to attend their duties as the woman beckoned to someone within her ranks. Through the crowd waded a finely dressed man. A Borcan, Sacha reckoned. There was something about the way the stranger's smile languished across his face that was positively unnerving. It was eerily wide and as insincere as it gets. Silence hung over the forest for a beat.

"Your employer wants me to put holes in our enemy's chests." The man's tone was light and friendly. Sacha's crew grunted with effort as they set the cargo down before him. "And well, this? This a disappointment. Things happen, but tell our friend to get in touch, da? He, and all of Dementlieu, know where to find me."

Forty eight corona, forty nine, fifty. Fifty thousand. Four ne'er-do-wells sat in the Sailor on the following evening, now maskless. The mood was a bit tense as they counted out their cut. With a sigh Sacha leaned back and raised his glass in a toast.

"Well, that's sorted. Here's to the death of all 'ighborn men an' women."

The foreign girl seated opposite chuckled beneath her cowl, if one could call the rasping wheeze she made a laugh.

"I'll drink to that, Frelon. Nothing gets me goin' like a man wishin' death on his foes."

Her mastery of the low tongue was as flawless as her complexion. There was a pause. The creases in Sacha's forehead deepened.

"I'm sorry for whatever's to come, mes amies. Really."

A bearish hand clapped him on the back, nearly knocking the wind out of him. "Will you shut up?" The older man boomed, grinning. "We're alive, and we're in this together. Quit whining, kid."

Sacha smiled a little then, boyish and unsure.

"Thank you. Thank you all. May Ezra guide us." His companions laughed. Sacha's smile broadened, and the largest of the four spoke again in his booming growl.

"Or may Ezra stay the hell out of our way."


« Last Edit: December 20, 2022, 10:53:11 AM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2022, 12:24:07 PM »
“Every king, every empire, every tribe thinks they’ll endure th’ march of ages.” The grizzled old man took a puff of his pipe, the smell of good tobacco filling the salty air. “Or at least fade out wif some decency. Thing is, boy, it’s grapeshot, blood, an’ screams every single time.”

The lad of no more than nineteen nodded vigorously. No scars, two hands, and a rather determined gleam in his eye. It was Sacha, sure, but not the one he’d see in the mirror today. The pair sat under a strip of cloth hung on a frame of stout branches, a makeshift awning providing meager protection from the midsummer sun. Sacha sat on the floor, his legs crossed as he practiced his knotwork. The old man half watched with a fatherly eye when he wasn’t ogling the dock girls from his perch on a nearby stool.

“Again wif the figure eight- Sacha, come now. You’ll never make a decent sailor if ya can’t tie an overhand stopper. ‘Ere.” He grabbed the rope roughly from the boy and looped it twice around the palm of his hand. “Now, watch close.” As soon as the leading end passed through the two loops, he slipped his palm out and pulled it tight. “See, boy? Now that’s a knot.” The man tossed the rope aside and continued his lecture.

“As I was saying 'fore you ruined my day with your subpar technique. While the gentry exist as a social class- did Varteur tell ya what that is boy? A social class?” Sacha nodded, not that his friend was paying any attention.

“While they exist there cannot be any meaningful change in the lives of the working people. We tend to disagree on that detail, Jacques an’ I. The highborn must either willingly give up the mantle of power, or their bloodlines must end.” A rather pointed look towards Sacha. “This means your friends the Vaillant’s, too. The Dame. All of ‘em.”

Sacha took reprieve from the burden of his memories with a sip of wine. As painful as it was to admit, his old mentor was right. He’d fought against that truth for a long, long time, clinging to hope that things could change, that maybe there didn’t have to be any blood spilled, common or noble. What a naïve fantasy it all was. The haves would never relinquish their share to the have nots. No matter how many food drives or performances of charity they carried out, while there was this distinction of ‘us’ and ‘them’, rich and poor, master and serf, nothing would ever improve. Not one bit.

“Solange, forgive me.” Sacha called to the ghosts in his empty room. “We were wrong about everything.”
« Last Edit: April 27, 2024, 07:43:49 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2022, 08:46:12 AM »
"Sacha my boy!” The conseiller slapped him on the back as if they were old mates in some seedy bar, leaning in and leering. Sacha could smell the man's musky cologne, his heartbeat raced. “Are your friends coming? You used to have so many friends."

Sacha grimaced. Palascu's taunts still rang in his ears hours after the wake. He’d made an appearance. Shook the many hands, so to speak, as best he could in his condition. It did get tiresome, making up little white lies about the nature of his injury. Oh, he’d been a soldier, a hawk took it. It was a workplace injury, an infected dog bite, anything but the justly metered punishment of Barovia's regime. He spat off the dock, swinging his feet. His suit was rumpled from the day’s travel, a cigarette dangled from his lips. The foreign girl reached over and stole it. He watched it disappear into the supernatural blackness beneath her hood. Only the cherry showed in the inky night, though it failed to illuminate her face. Thankfully she’d tagged along that evening, a sort of security blanket. It’d been strange to hear how perfectly she mimicked the polished airs and idle babble of his city’s wealthiest. It's taken a lifetime, Sacha thought, to get half that good. She blended seamlessly into a crowd, so long as no one saw her up close. Such was her gift.

The two made their way across town, dodging cutpurses and caliban alike. Silent, they padded deep into the tunnels snaking through the Ouvrier, where paupers sleep in condemned homes and beneath the leaking roofs of abandoned warehouses. It was in one such room, a space of former industrial glory, that the pair had made their den. Most of it still belonged to the rats, but what was once the supervisors office was now a cozy little hideaway, littered with cushions and couches. A hand painted map of the nation was pinned to the far wall, the air was thick with the acrid reek of opium. They were alone tonight, no doubt the others were at the tavern. Stumbling over a keg in the dark Sacha cursed and lit a candle. The gloom receded though the stale smoke did not. With a yawn the girl flopped onto a luxurious divan, stolen of course, and put her feet up. Her hookah’s hose was already in hand by the time her head hit the velvet.

“I can barely see in this damn place.” Sacha grumbled, sitting at his cluttered desk. Cethril pushed back her cowl and fixed her colorless on him, their lids heavy with poppy. There was something inhuman behind them, something that hadn’t always been there in the years they’d known each other. A smile, or was it a sneer, curled across her lips.

“You’re still weak.”

He paused. Even the red of her hair, once vivid as wildfire, had faded with time. But hey, he’d changed too. A boy, to a pawn, to a killer. Before the self loathing really had a chance to dig its wretched claws in, Daidriann entered, a bruise on his cheek and flecks of blood on his piecemail. Sacha didn’t spend much time in it himself but they’d set up a horrible, rusted cage in one of the rooms. The floor was already stained with viscera and it’d only been a week. Likely he'd been having a bit of fun, the savage.

“You two playin’ them drinkin’ games again?” Sacha spoke with a grin, lapsing in the low cant reflexively in his good friend’s company. “I dunno why ya can’t just settle for a dartboard.”

“If you could fight, Frelon, you’d understand.” The man boomed, the girl laughed. Sacha just raised his hands in defeat. His smile was genuine, his mind at ease for the briefest of moments. The Conseiller was right, he thought, he used to have so many friends. He always found them, time and time again. Sacha’s smile faltered, though the two didn’t catch it. In his heart he knew that he’d look back on days like this with the same burning regret as the time he’d spent with the congress, or his little gang on the street, or any fireside night with his parents and Sylvie. Another home to build and lose.

“Ah, shut it you ol' windbag. Pass me that hookah.”
« Last Edit: December 19, 2022, 03:11:22 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2023, 02:21:09 PM »
"It was bad enough when we just 'ad the coats to worry about." Sacha packed another charge into his flintlock, holding the butt as steady as he could between his knees as he tipped the powder in. A bit spilled, dusting his boots. He let out an irritated huff. Shooting with only his off hand was proving to be more of a challenge then he'd anticipated.

"Now? Everyone from the church to these damn foreigners are snooping around the highway."

He lined up his shot with the target on the wall, a piece of platesteel with a crude likeness of a Gendarme painted on it. Like he'd been taught so long ago, he stopped breathing for a beat and squeezed the trigger. His Gearling's report echoed through the tunnels underneath the Ouvrier. It impacted wide to the right. Again. Disappointed, he spat into the sewage.

"An' to top it off, I'm prolly gonna owe Pieter another favor."

His companion lay down a perfect shot, right through the Gendarme's hat. The clash of lead on steel rang out like a bell.

"Chin up, Sach." The man's smile was wide, his outlander accent thick.  "The price on their heads is enough consolation. No one important got hurt. You're a free man with almost all your limbs intact."

"It's about respect, mon ami. Were it noble bodies between those idiots and their quarry there wouldn't've been a drop of blood spilled. You know it." Sacha fired and missed yet again. "They almost killed Odette. Odette! The bleedin' painter!"

"Sure, but this'll get people angry. Especially when it's swept under the rug. Might be a blessing in disguise." The man pulled from his cigarette, the smell of pipeweed mixing with the reeking water flowing past. "I won't have to muck around in the sewer whenever I come to visit. You can start wearing that sash out in public instead of just to bed."

This managed to elicit a dull chuckle. "That'll be the day."

The foreigner shrugged, both stowed their weapons and slunk off through the maze of pitch black tunnels. Sacha lit a cigarette of his own, in part to fight the stink. "We oughta write Lorenzo. I got a feeling we'll be needin' an excess of powder this spring."

"It'll take all the shot in Lamordia just to get you back in fighting shape, old friend." The man's grin was infectious. Sacha laughed and chucked a rock at his back.

"Oi! C'mere you little bellend!" The two broke into a run. For a moment he was a boy of eight sprinting around down in the tunnels with his gang. Things were moving above them in the city of lights, deals were being cut and pieces were falling into place but tonight they were just two lads with guns. They laughed the night away, oblivious to it all as they played their game of coats and crooks in the world below.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2023, 08:12:12 PM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2023, 10:37:34 AM »
Sacha regarded the painting on his mantle with a frigid glare. It was good likeness of himself, seated at his desk and clad in a set of old fatigues. Red sashed wraiths formed a gloomy cavalcade about his figure, their arms reaching out to touch him. Indistinct. Odette was truly a master, she'd captured the likeness of men she'd never seen. Men he'd never mentioned, for that matter. He shuddered and looked over his shoulder. As usual he was alone in his study save for the cobwebs and soft glow of his opium pipe. The others were away at war, where he no longer belonged. Where he no longer had a use.

Sacha stared at the raw stump of his arm. "Do I look like a soldier?" He'd asked Raphael. The young Borcan's sympathy had only served to infuriate him.

"You look like you used to be."

Of a sort, he imagined. Did he really care whether it was the bitter flame or the plucky conglomerate of sovereign nations who came out on top? Absolutely not. He'd found allies and friends on both sides of this little struggle. What irked him most, besides his own uselessness, was that his best mates were more than willing to fight and die where he wasn't. He could have been a scout. A cook. Anything at all besides a coward. Sacha spat on the floor as he so often did when at a loss. Surely they were all insane. There were, he knew, far easier ways to make coin than bleeding for another's glory.

The fact remained that he wasn't there. If anyone came home in a box, as his friends so often seemed to, he'd have only himself to blame. He banished the thought with a hit of poppy, listening to the arrhythmic tap of Wynnie's wooden leg across the floor in the next room. He'd asked her to tidy up just to make the girl feel useful, and she was making a damned mess. The ploy to distract himself failed and his eyes narrowed. No. It was alright. If they perished he'd simply start again. It only takes a moment to move things along and that was, quite simply, all he'd ever known.

He muttered a quiet prayer, rolled over on his flank and fell asleep.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2023, 11:38:57 AM by bobith »

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2023, 06:17:41 PM »
Sylvie.

I've entrusted this letter to a friend within the ranks of the Gendarme. By the time you read it I fear I will be gone. You'll know of what I did soon enough. It was an evil thing I wrought, regardless of what my reasons were, and I'm not afraid to pay for it. I always knew I would not live to see my works complete. Guy knew it, Felix knew it. Pa knew it, and you and me both know that's why I've never been able to back down. I can almost hear you now, chiding me as you always have. How father pursued his ideals at the cost of our childhoods, of mother's wits. How it's a waste to go out the same way. You might say no one has a right to make a martyr of another, no matter the cause. I suppose in some ways that's what I did to the Dame. Yet innocents die in the street every day while her kind thrive off our sweat and tears. Every starving child is a martyr. What makes the blood the gentry spill through their inaction, their sin, any less righteous then what I sacrifice? Though it matters little, after seeing who was behind the curtain. I thought my ends were just. In truth, I just threw my lot in with the wrong people. This might erase my work in the eyes of the common man, but you know better. At least, I hope. I'm so sorry I failed you. I failed our father's memory.

You, your husband and little Georges deserve better than breaking your backs for scraps. Regardless of what the papers might say, don't you forget what I die for. Please ensure I aim laid to rest next to our parents, in the graveyard outside the city we both once called home. I understand why you don't visit, or write more, and I love you. I love you and my nephew and your pig of a husband. I hate to beg, but speak well of me to your son, if you can. This blood won't wash off our name, it's good that you took another.

I am so proud of you.

Love,
Sacha
« Last Edit: February 15, 2023, 03:06:37 PM by bobith »

bobith

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Re: The Crown Prince of Thieves - Sacha Frelon
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2023, 10:28:48 AM »
Sacha's father walked hand in hand with his progeny. The gate between their little quarter and the mighty Savant towered over the coffeehouses and shantys alike. Seabirds perched on its peak, a calm hung over Port-a-Lucine. Sylvie giggled, breaking the spell.

"I'm gonna be a Gendarme when I'm all growed up just like Marcel's dad." The child tittered as she pointed to the guards, her cherubic features alight with joy and wonder. Her father simply regarded the gate, a frown on his weathered face.

"Sacha. Sylvie. I want you both to know I love you very much." This went without saying, to Sacha and his sister. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this spring day. "Run home to Ma now, alright?" The man adjusted the sash under his coat, Sacha caught a glimpse of the crimson silk before it was tucked away. Then his father let go of the young boy's hand and walked through that great, terrible gate. A portal, in truth, that separated two worlds. It was the last time he'd ever see the man. Sacha smiled. If there was an afterlife, Pa was going to be proud.

His cell door squealed and shocked him back to his senses. A pair of brilliant blue eyes fixed themselves on Sacha, an austere, triumphant smile floated across his most hated enemy's face.

"Conseiller d'Honaire. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

The axe fell in that dungeon hours before the council's justice sent him from this world. The wheel continues to turn. Men plot and whisper in smokey bars, politicians pontificate. They bleed and die upon the city of light's grand stage, and the Serene Republic marches on.

Fin.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2023, 01:44:08 PM by bobith »