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    Homecoming

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    Homecoming

    Post by Admin on Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:28 pm

    It was raining, again, but that just made it feel more like a homecoming. Well, that and the smell of salty ocean air fighting against the wave of unwashed bodies and gutters of the docks. This was not big rain, although anyone who had spent a season on Ty-Coralis knew that it could really rain here when it wanted to; the Bittersweet sea blows in all kinds of menacing storms even in the best times of the year. This was not that kind of rain, this was like an old friend draping a coat over your shoulders as you walk home. The city had not changed, but it had, everything was a little different; the roads and ways stayed the same, with much of Ty-Coralis taken up with the docks and canals of trade. The details changed though, there were, even more, two storey buildings now, the shop fronts all had glass windows instead of wooden shutters, it was a little unnerving, like seeing someone you know but in place, you’d never expect them. A circuitous route to see Shim, just in case he had a tail- didn’t seem likely after so long away but careful is a hell of a habit to break.

        Further and further into the city and the details become more familiar again, the winding streets and numerous dead ends confound all but the most seasoned travellers, the main street and through fairs of the city may always be changing, but here in this corner of depravity, nothing changes. The waterside slums, or the Damp Slums, was the exact section of town the name describes, filling a horrid crevice between where the access to the docks stops becoming useful and the smell becomes over powering. A maze of dirty streets and Lean-tos, the Slums were the most organic part of the city, with seemingly new structures springing up overnight and old ones disappearing just as fast. The bedrock of the neighbourhood, the beating heart, is a series of building with stone foundations and sturdily built higher floors, all business worth doing in the Damp was done here. The entire place centred around Copper’s Bar, The Bent Penny, from there a myriad collection of stalls and services fanned out, as transient and organic as the homes around them.

        After being out the game for nearly a year, Carter wasn’t foolish enough to just walk around like everything was the same, He’d seen the face of the street change three times in an hour, let alone after all this time. A quick trip to Baldo’s Stall earned him a confused look, seemed Baldo had moved on, for better or for worse. The next stop was more permanent, Entri’s brothel, the rain early morning had the same old creaky sign swinging in the wind, the doors and windows were bolted shut but the light from inside escaped through enough cracks to show its open for business. The door still resisted the first three inches as he leant on it, it always had – the wood had swollen or something – Entri said he;d never change it if it meant an extra seconds notice of a Guard raid.
        Inside had changed as little as the outer, well built and easy repairable tables and chairs for the patrons, all made of the local dark wood from the Border Forest, too many lamps and torches decorated every nook and table in an effort to fight of the overcast gloom. The pale plaster walls had been refreshed since he had last been; he had made a game of how long the old crack above the door would be there before Entri paid. Hanging his coat by the door, rain pooling off it in tiny rivers. He checked himself in the Guests mirror before he went in, He’d guffawed at the ideas of checking your appearance before seeing the girls when he’d first seen it, but Entri insisted the guests wanted it and he hadn’t been wrong very often. He hadn’t changed much in a year away, a few new lines around his eyes, but they’d be ganging up on him for years, His broken nose looks straighter than it had been for a while, but that was probably just the sun tan from being west. His angular cheek bones and hooded brow seemed sharper with the darker tone of his skin, but overall, he was still Carter, and that’s what mattered.

        Sliding up to his usual spot at the bar, he could see the counter top was the same old tooth marked, scratched and burned piece of wood that had nestled his head countless times. Entri was energetically talking to a couple of dock workers while he poured them drinks. A quick scan of the room told him he had been noticed, but not by any one in particular, you can't walk anywhere in this part of town without a pair of eyes following you. The girls were all smiles and grace as usual but whether the smiles were because he’d come back or the smile of a working girl he could never tell, didn’t care to either. Entri pocked the coins with the speed of a street corner trickster and eeled his way down the counter. Eeled being the only correct way to refer to how Entri moved, all the grace –and pomp- of a cat. Jet black hair scraped back tightly with an immaculate gentleman’s small beard, just enough to colour the chin, not enough to notice without looking. His grinning mouth and pointed nose gave him the look of a predator falcon, which isn’t far from accurate when required.
    “Carter,” An accented voice of honey and wine said, Entri had once told him which back water he was from to talk like words were twice as long, He’d told him, and probably told him a few more times but he never seemed to remember. Nowhere Carter had been anyway.

    “Entri” Was all the response he got. 

    He smiled brightly seemingly satisfied with this and started pouring a tumbler of whisky with the ceremony of a high priest and holy water.

    “Been low?” he asks while he hands Carter the tiny glass. Now Carter wasn’t fussed what he drank or ate out of after all its not what he’s eating, is it? Nevertheless, when it came to whisky, he had to admit that the glass made the difference. He threw it back with practised ease, letting the amber liquid burn over his tongue like fire before swallowing.

    “Something like that, aye, Jus’ going Home t’see Yen – Anything I should know?” Carter’s voice scratches out, a combination of the whisky and a quiet disposition often led his gravel voice to become granite.

    “Yen’s got a new lodger, Room 2-2 Y’know” Now it may have been Carter’s imagination but it seems that Entri’s voice had gained a small tremble. 
    “Ah – she thought I was gone then? Letting out my old room? I’ve been low much longer before…” Carter let the sentence trail off as the unspoken question filled the air between them.

    “Well… y’see… Word is she dint ‘ave much choice – From what I've ‘eard” Carter nodding somberly – Entri;s accent was slipping and he only did that when he was scared or his blood was up; which told Carter everything he needed to know. If Yen had a newcomer in the house, wasn't any business of his, but if someone thinks they can muscle Yen into lodging them, well seems only fair Carter remind ‘em otherwise.

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    Re: Homecoming

    Post by Blannon on Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:52 pm

    Jack shook his head slightly in amusement watching Carter stride through the rain like it owed him money. It may have been sluicing off his greatcoat in rivers, surely sparing him most of the torrent, but his broad shoulders were hunched ever so slightly all the same. He could almost see the grim expression of his somewhat willing partner in crime now, all stern jaw and furrowed brow. A few more seconds spent taking in the sights and listening to the sound of his home and then Jack was off into Tye-Coralis seemingly at whim. He knew where he was headed of course, but who's to say he didn't already have some wide-eyed little street rat on to him? And anyway, he'd been gone a while, so it didn't hurt to take the scenic route to Leather Dave's. He'd be just as cantankerous if he got there sooner as later so getting up to speed with the Slum Gossip, as he thought of it, was now on the cards.

    At the very instant this train of thought was playing out behind Jack's slate grey eyes, his rather deft hands were liberating a purse from an elaborately dressed man, almost certainly of high station. All frills and lace. Practically scandalous, if you asked him. Which no one ever did, now he thought about it.
    Not to be sidetracked, he made his way about the convoluted lanes and avenues, twists and turns of the Damp Slums. Mostly by way of other people's lodgings. Usually taking, but sometimes leaving little gifts as he went. After all, it was his homecoming. And so he proceeded, albeit rather circuitously, ever deeper into the warren. His warren.
    But damn, I don't welcome back that smell!He thought to himself in grim amusement. And it was true, the stench this deep into the Damp Slums was truly overpowering. Too great a mixture of both humanity with all it's trappings and the stench of the sea and it's likewise plentiful bounty. Enough to make many newcomers gag or lose their lunch. It was even joked about, often enough to make a man think, that guards were unable to use dogs to track by scent in this place.

    Back on street level momentarily, having given up a moderate string of larcenies now the urge had passed, Jack made his way casually from beggar to beggar. Always a kind word and a copper piece, always a little snippet of Slum Gossip in return. The shacks and shanties that comprised The Slums made for a myriad different places for a desperate person to seek meagre shelter. So it was these dark corners that Jack strolled past, without fear or alarm, and always there was a face, sometimes familiar, often not, with that same guarded expression. He'd come to know it well. The look of a soul fighting their fear or pride, building the courage to ask another person for charity. The idea had come to him years ago, marrying his innate empathy with a potential for mutual gain. You could never know too much about the comings and goings of the street. Now it was an old habit he'd fallen into unconsciously, alongside lifting a purse or two and perusing the odd piece of someone else's property. Old habits die hardest, and Jack had been stealing for longer than most people had been alive, despite his almost boyish visage. A side effect of the blessings bestowed upon a person by their god was a slowing of time's ravaging touch. An effect Jack was only now starting to suspect only grew as the blessings increased.

    Through all this the rain persisted, unceasing but not altogether terrible. Just an average day in Tye-Coralis. A blessed day certainly, he was back in familiar territory after more than a year almost completely out of his depth, but a regular day for all that. The rain had beaten down on him as he'd wandered the alleyways. It had lashed him as he'd slipped unseen and unheard into a merchants upstairs window. It was still soaking him with indifference as he finally made his weary way on to Leather Dave's porch, situated perfectly in so far as it bordered Copper's small staff entrance to The Bent Penny. As usual, in a chair older than Jack was, sat Dave. His weathered face put some sailors to shame. Mixed with inexplicable laughter lines permeating his whole face out from those shrewd brown eyes. As usual, Dave was trying very hard to pretend Jack wasn't there.

    "No welcome back? Not even a 'Where have you been?'" Jack was smiling as he said this, knowing perfectly well what was coming.

    "I didn't ask because I don't rightly care where in The Cat's name you've been. You've obviously survived alright, more's the pity." Jack didn't know anyone that Dave was nice to. Not even civil, for the most part. But they'd known each other a long time, and a history like that breeds a thick skin.
    Jack took in the look of Dave's place with a more business minded focus, noting that all the doors and shutters had been changed, looking sturdy and well maintained. The porch, little more than a stretch of planking four feet wide by ten feet long, was nonetheless well maintained and as sturdy as ever. Dave had been doing well in his absence. Good for him!

    "Heard you n' that Carter chap are tight now. More n' before, even. So with that in mind, and to get rid of you, I recommend you head over Yen's. Stop Carter doing anything he can't walk away from." There was a strange look to Dave's face for a moment and it puzzled Jack for a second. Concern. That wasn't his style. All the same, Jack got to his feet and smiled down at Dave once more before stalking back into the rain.

    "Don't feel the need to rush back, either." The old man tossed over his shoulder, lost on Jack. His mind was already racing, his body matching the pace. Not even reported in yet. Not even had a meal yet and already, things were probably going sideways.
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    Re: Homecoming

    Post by Admin on Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:12 pm

    Carter stalked down the streets, no longer the languid lion surveying his domain but the wolf, silent in his hunt. The hint from Entri was all it had taken, the mildest word that the order wasn't right in his house and he'd felt the initial wave of rage begin to boil in his mind only to slide away as dust leaving him honed. The continued to pound the floor relentlessly, the wood board walkways becoming slush and the paved roads flowed like rivers. He stalked the streets single mindedly passing houses familiar and new that were ignored. Down the alley next to the old anchor pub-now closed it seemed, between the two huge sheds that filled the void between businesses and around outside the back entrance of Yenna's and not a soul in sight.

    Yenna's place hadn't changed much since he;d been gone - that said it hadn't changed much when he'd been here. Looks like the roof finally got mended, The back window on the far right was lit up like a temple on a festival day but the other rooms were dark, this time of day should have seen all kinds of comings and goings, especially when Yenna's girls were working. Just as he was about to let himself in the back way he caught a shadow coming over from one of the out houses, instinctively and silently his Cleaver was in his hands the dark leather wrap feeling like an extension of his own hands. Low and close he stalked the figure his blade turned low so as not to catch the dancing lights of the city. 

    Before he could pounce however the walk and posture stopped him.

    "Yen..."

    She spun before the word had died, hands coming up and eyes narrowed. He couldn't help but smile, she had some fight in her. She cut an amusing figure in the mottled light, silver hair tied back in a bun so severe as to make him cringe, his cracked and cragged face showing more laughter lines that anyone else he;d ever met. Her eyes though, she had a steely gaze that would stop a king and make him apologise. 

    "Delv?..." Realisation lit her eyes "Where have you been?!" she half screamed and half whispered, then sobbed "where ha...."

    It was only then, in the twilight he saw the shade of purple around her eyes and the way her lip swelled. He spun away from her towards the house, his rage leaving him as his blood rose.

    "Don't!" Yen barked with tears still on her face. "No killing anyone in my house Carter! even him!"

    Carter stopped and looked over his shoulder at her confused, but a lot of people confused him. Then he looked down at the Cleaver still in his hand.

    "You take it then - I won't need it" He turned toward the door again "And if a single one of them comes out that door on their own power - send 'em back in"

    "Ee's got friends! Don't ya want t'know who he is?" Yen called as he reached the door.

    "I don't care" Carter called back and with a heave kicked the back door open.

    "Girls! Time to go! Carter's Home!" He roared pulling himself in the doorway, disappointed to find an empty room - not that it mattered the whole house had heard him, then as if on cue he heard the patter and clatter of people trying leave somewhere very quickly. His heart began thumping in his chest and he could feel the pounding in his ears but as rage rose it was like the sea, it crested and fell upon him but washed away with no effect.

    He stalked through the back room to the kitchen and the back stairway, a few girls saw him and went another direction, excellent choice. Up the stairs with a grace that belied his shape, he came to the top,  nearly meeting a blade to the eye, only reflex saved him as he ducked and pushed himself onward, the blade flying over his head, as his shoulder collided with the assailant, then both hit the floor, Carter on top, rearing up and grabbing his entire face with one hand as his other grasped for the wrist of his knife blade, Carter moved his weight as they grappled and stopped pinning his head, and brought it crashing down against the hard wood floor - twice, stopping his struggle. Carter brought himself up and checked no one had come running, but even though the house was going quiet again he couldn't sense anyone coming.

    He moved past the two middle rooms to find the door to his shut, not surprised Carter once again kicks it fully in the centre, flinging it wide open as it crashed against its own hinges. Before entering Carter could already see the entire room, it wasn't big, One well dressed git in his chair and three larger shabbier gits standing in his room.

    "Who the..." Well dressed began but Carter was already moving; Large and shabby number one didn't even have his weapon drawn as Carter closed the distance his foot lashed out at the side of his knee, a crack and a cry and he was on the floor, large and shabby number two swings a cudgel with the grace of a lumber jack, Carter steps close and turns his back robbing the blow of impact and lashes out taking hold of his wrist and snapping it with a twist, dragging the cudgel from his broken grip, he brought it back around and sent him sprawling.

    Larger and shabby number three had come around behind and lunged out with a blade, Carter barely moved in time, as the second hand lashed out with another blade, he was forced a step back but he found his balance, he swung his cudgel out clumsily, to feint and as number three tried to intercept Carters boot lashed out and caught him centre of body, Three recovered his feet quickly to find Carter inside his reach and grabbing for his collar, before he could bring his blades inwards Carters forehead smashed into Three's nose, once, twice and a third time, letting him slump to the floor.

    Carter seeing well-dressed hadn't moved, took this moment to retrieve a handkerchief from his pocket and wipe the blood from his face and hands, well most of it anyway. Throwing it on top of number two... or was it three? He turned back to well dressed. 

    "I'd like a chat..."

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