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    [Crimson Sky Arc 1: A Red Dawn] Chapter One: Fates Collide


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    Post by Acrean on Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:23 pm

    Eldorne cast a glance back towards the tall man as he called out to him. He had arrived with some of the teenagers from outside, all surrounding him, and had apparently surrendered. Surrendering against a few kids? It seemed the man was all bark and no bite. Eldorne clicked his tongue. What a shame.

    But the man called out to him directly, and Eldorne turned slightly as he listened to his words. He got a better look at the man, and the group. There were quite a few kids in here now.

    Slowly, a plan began to form.

    The man bid him to surrender and swallow his pride, and the girl pressed that he needed to drop his weapons. Eldorne glanced around the tunnel, surveying his options one final time. And then, at last, he had his answer. He swallowed, and placed a hand on the pommel of his sword for comfort. He couldn't afford to show any weakness now.

    "Pride..." he muttered, loud enough for all to hear. "I suppose you might call it that. I don't like being made a fool of, nor do I particularly enjoy letting things go, when I know I have it in my power to do something about it. And I don't like giving up. That being said, it would appear I have no choice in the matter here."

    Eldorne grinned - a smug, devilish smile - as he glanced between the two sides in which he found himself surrounded. "But appearances can be deceiving. Forgive me for a moment, because I'm afraid I may be the only one here who understands the reality of the situation. So allow me to explain."

    He motioned to the door. "You've got guns in there, sure. I heard them. And let's assume, for a minute, none of them misfire. You've all loaded them properly, and they'll all do exactly what you expect. In fact, let's take it a step further and assume that every single shot hits its target - me, in this case. Let's assume, that were you to fire that barrage, you'd kill me."

    He turned back to the tall man, although he was continuing to speak to the rogues beyond the wall. "You'd have to kill him too, then, of course. He wouldn't be in a position to argue or debate anymore, and he knows it. Well - he does now, at any rate, because I just told him. And what do you think happens then? You think this guy can't bash a few skulls when he's so inclined? You think he won't take a hostage to save his own skin, when his life's on the line?"

    He spun around again to face the door. "If I don't co-operate, that's your absolutely-perfect scenario. Two deaths, from which you gain nothing - you robbed us already, after all - and a handful of kids who die for that nothing. But life's not perfect, my friends - if it was, we wouldn't be here now, in this situation.

    Eldorne took a deep breath and sighed. "You see, not every single one of those shots are going to hit their target. You think I'm just going to stand here and take it? No. Some will be too high, some too far to the left - you get the idea. And it doesn't matter how good you think you are, either, because it's not just you. With those little holes and the exceptionally slim margin for error you have right now, even if you hit your shot ... we both know at least one of your gang's going to miss. And you know what happens then?"

    He motioned back behind him. "Somebody else takes the hit. You far outnumber us here, so the odds its one of those kids far outweighs the odds of it being one of us. And then you know word's going to spread about what went down. The fact that you knew the odds, but took the shots anyway, and killed some of your own. And then maybe one kid out there gets tired of playing, and he - or she" he added, noting the girl that Hector had found reasonable, "they decide they've had enough. They slip into the city and call the marines down, and put an end to this whole gang. What do you make of that, huh? You like those odds? You want to take those odds?"

    A slight flush crept over him from the exhilaration of the situation. He was on a roll now, and caught up in the moment. "But it only gets worse!" he declared, loudly this time. "Because all of this assumes your first batch of shooting is enough to drop us. But there's a chance the wounds won't quite be enough to stop us, and there's even a chance you miss us entirely." Ever so slowly, he began to unsheathe his blade. "How many of these kids do you think I could kill in that time, huh? What about the big guy there? You can ask the bald man who led us here - I'm fast, and I hit pretty damn hard." He swept his gaze over the teenagers. "They won't be outrunning me now."

    Then one last time, as he unsheathed his blade fully, he turned back to the door. "And of course, between me and my unfortunate friend here, you'd better believe we're capable of breaking through a thin bit of wood like this and murdering every single one of you." He shrugged. "Do you understand now? The fallout of this situation, in which you attempt to kill two nameless nobodies, is disastrous for you. Fortunately, there is a better solution to all of this - one in which nobody gets hurt."

    Eldorne motioned with his blade towards the door. "You either give us our bags back now and let us be on our way ... or you let us in, armed as we are, and we have ourselves a good, proper little chat about what comes next."

    He paused and cleared his throat. "And you fetch me a drink of water," he added.

    Eldorne Lock • Captain, Swordsman • Weapon Specialist [Swords] / Thief • Crimson Sky PiratesBounty: 0 • SD Earned: 30 • Beli:  Currency 350,000 • Location: Notice (North Blue)
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    Post by Salad Paladin on Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:02 pm

    Oh boy, here we go. He's definitely not going to surrender and go the peaceful route. I knew this guy was the type that was a little more ego than the norm.

    Hector sighed as he listened to the swordsman go on what he thought would be an ego-trip but instead become a rather lengthy monologue. Instead of giving the swordsman all the focus like he clearly wanted, Hector moved right next to the burly teenager who led the group.

    "You know, you've got some training under your belt. Self-taught or have a mentor? Your posture was way too good to be a regular person at this."

    At his question, the girl turned around sharply and just looked confused at Hector.

    "Yer not gonna distract me from listenin. Besides... what's it matter to you? This guy's talking."

    "Eh, I'm pretty sure he's practiced in front of a mirror for this. Plus you're smarter than the others, so I figure it best to chat while he does this monologue. I'm going to assume self-taught... which I'm impressed by. If you add some martial arts or boxing into your repertoire, you'd become quite the force. Just some friendly advice." Hector shrugged, uncaring of whatever Eldorne decided to monologue about.

    He was listening in, but didn't really care much. The swordsman was ruining his plan to get a friend out of their group and have someone on their side. At the mention of hostages, Hector glared at the swordsman. The man was making him sound more dishonorable than he would be, and Hector did not like that.

    Hector highly doubted the marines would give a rat's ass about coming to this place, but decided not to call the bluff that the swordsman seemed to be placing. Once Eldorne finally stopped talking, Hector decided to chime in.

    "I mean, it's true, I can easily just break that wood with a solid punch. Plus all we wanted was our bags back, and your bald guy broke the thief code. I'm perfectly willing to be reasonable unlike this fellow here, and I'd prefer not to fight. I won't take any hostages though, but I admit I'm a little annoyed at the whole thing and do feel like breaking some bones. Could you all just uh, let us in nicely and we can finally resolve this without any further issue or risk?"

    Hector grinned, before he put a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Plus this one's growing on me a bit, and I'm thirsty. Besides, I really don't want to have to listen to another long monologue from this guy again, or have him say he was right if you all attack us. Just... yeah, don't stroke his ego further." Hector grinned.

    He winked at the teenager as she glared at his action, though he changed his expression to a serious one at her.

    "Listen... run if he attacks, you're skilled enough to survive long enough if you get better and practice. Or if you have enough clout, can you just get us in there? I promise I'll keep an eye on this narcissist if that's the case." He said quietly so that only the teenage girl heard.

    She stared at Hector for a few moments before eyeing Eldorne, and gave a grumbling sigh. "Just let 'em in, Bart. This guy's annoying, and they're not worth the hassle. Let boss talk to 'em instead." She called out to the door.

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    Post by Acrean on Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:47 pm

    The rogues beyond the door muttered to one another as Eldorne came to the end of his speech. They quieted down when Hector spoke, and Eldorne also turned his attention to him. He'd ignored the glares he received while talking - it didn't matter if the man liked his plan, so long as he saw the truth of the situation and how much better off they'd be if he went with it.

    The tall guy had moved closer to the burly girl, and had been muttering to her while Eldorne spoke, although Eldorne was too wrapped up in his speech to hear what they were saying, and by the end he was so confident in what he'd said that he'd forgotten all about it. But as the tall man spoke, he remembered. And then he began to grow unsettled.

    The man put a hand on the girl's shoulder. Eldorne raised his eyebrows for a moment, assuming that it was part of the threat of breaking bones. But then the man kept talking, and the truth, apparently, involved a bone of a different sort.

    "Plus this one's growing on me a bit, and I'm thirsty."

    This was followed with some attacks on Eldorne's character, and then, of course, a wink at the girl. Eldorne stood there, dumbfounded, as he processed this revelation. Suddenly, it seemed, the real villain had been behind him all along.

    Holy shit, Eldorne thought, staring at the man in disbelief, annoyance, and thinly-veiled outrage, this guy's a sexual predator. Thirsty? Wrong kind of thirst, man! She's way too young for you! He glanced over at the girl for a second, then back to the door. If we weren't in this situation, I'd cut him down right here. True, it didn't directly concern him ... but even with that policy, even he had his limits.

    I've got to save these kids, Eldorne realized. At the very least, whatever happens here, I've got to get them away from him.

    And perhaps the man knew that he knew, for his expression had changed, and he was whispering to the girl now, too softly to be heard. What was it? A threat? Was he trying to blackmail her? He still had his hand on her, the creep. You'd better watch where that hand goes, Eldorne thought.

    The girl looked over at Eldorne, then sighed and called out to the door. There was a click on the other side of the door, and the sound of a gun being readied. This was followed by a swift smack. "My kid's out there," somebody growled. The muttering picked up a bit, and Eldorne smiled. Whatever the other man had to say about him, his gambit was working.

    A bit of relief washed over him, and with it, clarity. He sheathed his blade and put his hands inside his pockets for a moment to hide the trembling of his nerves, as the reality of how close he'd just come to death began to sink in. But this wasn't the time to be afraid, and he had to keep it together.

    That wasn't the only bit of clarity he experienced either, as Eldorne reflected on the idea that the tall man probably wasn't trying to ... prey on the teenager in that way. There were plenty of other explanations - perhaps she reminded him of his younger sister. Hell, perhaps she was his younger sister. Or, perhaps, he was doing his best to comfort her after Eldorne's words.

    He thought back to his interactions so far with the man, looking for the most reasonable explanation. On their initial meeting, the tall man had threatened him, pulling out a weapon and toying with the idea of throwing him to the marines. At least he'd given Eldorne the chance to explain himself first, but nonetheless, that had left a bad taste in his mouth.

    On their second meeting, Eldorne had knocked the culprit into the man, and returned the taunt back in kind. A taunt that had been pretty much ignored, aside from a curt thanks. It felt like the man was looking down on him.

    Not a great start, Eldorne mused.

    They'd walked in silence, more or less, from there on out. When they got to Toybox the man had said ... well, something. But none of it had been addressed to Eldorne, so Eldorne had more or less just ignored it all.

    Then the man had brought the kids into the tunnel. Only when he arrived, he'd urged Eldorne to swallow his pride and cast away his sword. Like I'd ever let go of this blade again, Eldorne thought bitterly. He shook his head. This wasn't the time for that memory.

    And then, after Eldorne had thought up this brilliant bluff to turn the situation into their favor - after this desperate ploy to save their lives - the man had mocked him. Mocked his speech, his plan, and his ego of which he knew nothing. He'd mocked him openly, in front of everybody, completely undercutting the threat of them working properly together. And, of course, pissing Eldorne off immensely. He was going to thank the man for providing the opportunity in the first place. Not any more.

    All that being said, he had to admit ... none of that indicated he was a child predator.

    My opinion of him may be coloring the reality of the situation, Eldorne relented. The man's either a complete jerk, an idiot, or both. But I suppose he's probably not quite THAT bad.

    The door opened. Six gunmen stood on the other side. Eldorne, being closest, moved in first. There was only room for one person to pass at a time, so he had a chance before anybody else could get in to beckon the two nearest gun-men closer.

    "Listen," he whispered, too softly for anybody behind him to hear, "keep those kids out of this. They didn't do anything wrong, yet. You letting them in with us will just cause a repeat of the situation." He didn't wait for their reply, but merely left them to think on his words as he moved forward, past the next door, into the room beyond.

    The area he had entered into was like a large cavern - it was spacious and round, with a tall ledge on the other side that had a rope ladder leading up to it. A few bedrolls were scattered about here and there, as well as some rusty cages. Atop one of these cages sat a man in a marine uniform, while sitting on a bench nearby was the bald man, his wound being bandaged by a short woman. Another woman seemed to be cooking counting something within a large supply crate off to the left. Atop the ledge, an older man in cloth robes and covered in leather belts stood, leaning casually against a walking-stick, and watched as Eldorne approached.

    "Welcome," the man in the robes declared, eyeing Eldorne curiously. "I understand you're in the mood to talk."

    "Alright, you lot," one of the gun-men declared back at the door, addressing the kids. "Back to your post outside. We can't have anybody else stumbling upon us here. Off you go. All of you," he added, glancing down at the girl in Hector's grasp. "We need you at the front."

    Some of the kids nodded and began to move back slowly, while a couple of others hesitated, some afraid of Hector and some just eager to see what would happen inside. Another one of the gunmen brushed past. "Go on Joji," he urged, almost desperate. "Get out of here. Now." He glared fiercely at Hector, and his grip on his gun tightened.

    Eldorne Lock • Captain, Swordsman • Weapon Specialist [Swords] / Thief • Crimson Sky PiratesBounty: 0 • SD Earned: 30 • Beli:  Currency 350,000 • Location: Notice (North Blue)
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    Post by Salad Paladin on Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:16 pm

    At least there was someone on the other side of the door who was capable of reason. With that, he let go of the girl's shoulder. Unknown to the others, Hector was actually prepared to use her as a shield worst case. It would have been a stain on his honor, but that was his reason for the physical contact. He likely would have been shot at enough times to likely lose, but he might have been lucky and gained a shield.

    Thankfully he did not have to do that. Hector stared at the swordsman ahead of him, and frowned. That swordsman had been a right pain since the beginning. While he did do a half-hearted threat at the man when they first met, he was unable to pick up that he had no plans to actually do anything other than idle curiosity.

    That was where Hector first noted the man's ego. The younger man was definitely skilled, but Hector couldn't tell if the hubris he seemed to exude was due to youth or the fact he was above a normal person in skill. He even refused to surrender when it would have likely saved them time and he wouldn't have to do a bluff that was clearly a shot in the dark.

    Hector knew that he had to salvage the situation a bit - while it was possible that had he gone along with it, it might have worked. But what kind of position would that leave them? No, Hector had seen these types of people. Play along with them, and they would let their guard down. But no, this young swordsman's stubborn ego refused the idea of giving up his sword.

    Just like Jowan.

    He held back a pained grimace at the memory of the mercenary band's youngest member. Jowan had been a skilled young man with a sword, and Hector had seen a bright future for him. But that one time when they were surrounded by hostile forces in one battle, Jowan refused to surrender. He took a hostage and made a similar threat like this swordsman did. Hector and Roy, who had been the two left in that group with Jowan had swallowed their pride and surrendered. It pained Hector to do so, but it saved him and Roy.

    Unlike this group... they shot Jowan, even with his hostage. All because of a foolish young man's pride and unwillingness to give up his weapon. Maybe that was why he reacted so strongly to this young man, he saw Jowan in him. Knowing the kid, he likely thought Hector was poking fun at him and making him look foolish, but he never realized Hector in a way he could not fathom, tried to help him.

    It was fine to be proud of yourself... but sometimes, you had to cast aside your ego and your weapon in order to survive. If this swordsman really did not want his advice, Hector would understand but pity him. Those with the largest amount of pride tended to die young in this world.

    Hector eyed the swordsman curiously as he moved ahead quickly, but he waited his turn to move in.

    "Go on. Just remember what I said about mixing in some martial arts." Hector urged the girl as the gunman told her to go back.

    The large man eyed the gunman that seemed to look at him with hatred, and Hector stared back.

    "Thank you for being willing to listen to reason. I wanted to settle this peacefully. Your... Joji... was it? She's skilled, and if she mixes in some martial arts to her repertoire... I can forsee a future where she's strong."

    When the man tightened his grip, Hector looked him in the eye and frowned. "I was not intending to harm her, or use her as a hostage. Make what you will of that." He stated before he walked inside.

    Once he went inside, he noticed how the area changed. Not a bad hideout, but Hector wondered where their water supply was. A good hideout needed a water supply, and an exit route. He couldn't see either right away... and that worried him.

    Hector opted to not say anything and let the young swordsman do the talking this time. Instead, he focused his energy on looking to see if there was an exit route somewhere. He would speak up if spoken to, though he hoped the young swordsman would hold back with his cocky attitude a bit.

    Plus he made up his mind on one thing - when he got a chance, he would try to talk to the young man privately and express his concern. He didn't hate the swordsman, but he really hoped the young man would try to learn some humility before it made him do a massive mistake. His silence would be the first step to see if he could trust the young man to not do anything reckless... without him chiming in.

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    Post by Acrean on Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:46 pm

    "Ah, and here's your friend," the man on the ledge declared as he looked past Eldorne towards the door. Eldorne gave a brief glance over his shoulder to see the tall man from before enter the room, before returning his gaze to the other man. A couple of gun-men had followed them in as well, blocking the exit ... but at least there weren't any kids coming in this time around. Of course, that meant no easy hostages either - he'd have to play this carefully if he wanted to get out alive.

    "That's right," Eldorne replied. "As you said - I am in the mood to talk. You lot stole something from me, and I want it back." He cast another quick glance towards the tall man. "Same with him," he muttered.

    "I have to admit, I'm surprised you made it all the way here," the man replied calmly. Eldorne couldn't tell if he was being ignored. "We normally just shoot anybody who makes it into the tunnel. But Satchel here tells me you were fast enough to capture him." He motioned towards the bald man before continuing. "As it happens, we have need of people who are quick." He eyed Eldorne intently. "And for people who are strong," he added, as his eyes moved to look at Hector.

    "And I have need of my money," Eldorne replied curtly.

    "Then perhaps we can come to some sort of an arrangement with both of you?" The man smiled. "Your money for your service."

    "Hardly a fair trade," Eldorne retorted. He moved his hands to the cloth bundle strapped to his side, loosening the ropes and fabric and pulling free the book. "But as it happens, I did bring something to negotiate with: the harbormaster's ledger." He held the book up higher. "Detailed information on the people who have docked in Streamside, along with their ships, their cargo, and the amount they paid. A nice bit of light reading, for those with the right skills to put the knowledge to use."

    The man on the ledge frowned. "Yes ... Satchel mentioned you would have it." Both he and Eldorne glanced to Eldorne's left, where a lit torch burned in its sconce on the wall. Eldorne tilted his head slightly and waited for a response.

    "A moment, if you would," the man replied at last. He whistled.

    At once, the others got up and began moving towards the ledge. Eldorne tensed even further at their initial movements, but his posture eased up slightly when he saw them moving away. When each member of the gang had gathered upon the ledge, the group began a hushed discussion. Aside from the two gun-men behind them, this left Eldorne and Hector more or less alone in the open center of the cavern.

    Eldorne cast one last glance at the tall man, before clamping his jaw shut and focusing his gaze on the enemies gathered upon the ledge.

    Eldorne Lock • Captain, Swordsman • Weapon Specialist [Swords] / Thief • Crimson Sky PiratesBounty: 0 • SD Earned: 30 • Beli:  Currency 350,000 • Location: Notice (North Blue)
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    Post by Salad Paladin on Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:41 pm

    Hector gave a brief nod at the younger swordsman's words about wanting his items back. He held back a frown at hearing about his strength. As much as Hector knew he was slightly above average, that was just it. He was above a normal human, but he wasn't even close to becoming superhuman by any means. Weapons could still easily injure him... though Hector kept silent as the two men spoke.

    Had he been alone, Hector would likely have agreed on an arrangement. It was basically like mercenary work, though Hector would have tried to add in a clause that if it was something extremely dangerous, he would decline. At least the swordsman still had the ledger, it gave them a slight step above their prior disadvantaged spot for negotiation.

    When the man who seemed to be the spokesperson for the group started to confer with his group, Hector decided to take that opportunity to speak with Eldorne. He eyed the two men behind them and decided to keep his voice low when Eldorne glanced at him.

    Hector paused as he stood next to Eldorne, before speaking softly. "I once knew a young man like you who thought he was invincible and could never give up his weapon. I still remember the day that he died because of it, and you have been so similar in your actions and words like he was. I and another swallowed our pride, surrendered in that situation and we lived. He did not."

    The larger man did not face Eldorne, but instead eyed the group that were having their own discussion.

    "I was a mercenary... I know what it's like to fight to live, and just how important you realize that pride is worthless when it comes to survival. That's just what I learned, and as much as I realize you probably dislike me for what I said, I was trying to help you there. I don't want to see another promising young person waste their life all due to their inability to swallow their pride and rely on last-minute wit."

    He chuckled softly for a moment, then resumed. "Well, I'm not one for on the fly tactics, though you have to understand I didn't go along with your bluff in order to optimize my odds of survival. You probably were rather insulted, but I learned that sometimes it's best to distance one just in case people get... trigger happy. I don't like my odds against bullets after all. Just figured you were owed an explanation for why I've treated you like such so far."

    Hector shrugged before he turned to stare at Eldorne.

    "However... now that we're in here... the game's changed. I like our odds better if we actively work together now. Temporary truce so we can get out of this safely and without having to do anything too crazy? If you've got any plans, I'm all ears. I can't exactly see an escape route from here for the worst case scenario... what do you think?"

    If Eldorne agreed to the truce/temporary alliance, Hector would finally say his name.

    "The name's Hector."

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    Post by Acrean on Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:58 pm

    In the hushed atmosphere of the cavern, to Eldorne's great surprise, the man beside him began to speak. From the man's words and actions, Eldorne had assumed his disdain for Eldorne as about as equal as Eldorne's disdain for him. But as the man spoke softly of his past, and some young guy who had died, Eldorne wondered if he was mistaken.

    He glanced over at the tall man, who was not facing him, but instead staring up at the group huddled away on the ledge. Yet he was speaking clearly to him. Was he ashamed, perhaps, and didn't want to look him in the eye? Or was he just being cautious, and monitoring the situation? Judging by his words, he seemed aware of Eldorne's current disposition towards him, at the very least.

    As the man finished explaining his actions, he also turned towards Eldorne at last. At the proposition of working together, Eldorne tilted his head slightly, narrowing his gaze and pursing his lips. That's what I was trying to do before. So the guy had finally come around to his way of thinking. That was something, at least.

    He let the silence linger for a moment, contemplating if he really wanted to work with this guy. A quick glance around the cavern didn't present any other attractive options, however. If things turned south, having another person at his side doubled his chances of survival.

    And yet, he just couldn't quite let the whole matter slide.

    Pretending to be surprised at the silence, Eldorne opened his eyes wide and met the man's gaze. "Oh, I'm sorry, were waiting for a response? I know how sick you are of my voice, after all."

    He paused, closing his eyes for a second, before opening them again. "Sorry," he muttered. "Hector, yeah? I'm Eldorne. For the sake of getting out of here, I'll accept that temporary truce. For now, let's put all that just happened behind us." He gestured towards the men and women gathered on the ledge. "You want to hear my thoughts on how we deal with this?" He then glanced towards those guarding the exit, before returning his gaze back to Hector. "We either say we'll join them and slip away when we're not being watched, or we act now, taking out those guards, and try to make a break for it. Though that's probably more risky."

    He shrugged. "If you have any better ideas, let's have 'em." Just as he finished speaking, the four gathered on the ledge suddenly stopped talking and began moving back towards them. "And quick," Eldorne added in a hushed whisper.

    Eldorne Lock • Captain, Swordsman • Weapon Specialist [Swords] / Thief • Crimson Sky PiratesBounty: 0 • SD Earned: 30 • Beli:  Currency 350,000 • Location: Notice (North Blue)

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