Sunday, March 30, 2014

Excerpts from a Worn Journal

Written in Darnassian.

I continue trying to produce reasons to remain here, and I continue to come up with nothing. I've wanted had to do this for some time. No longer can I remain here while I know that some distance away our work has made little progress. I wonder on how Adren may respond, but I've found that such a thought is not enough to keep me here. He may worry, but in the end, I would like to think he can respect and understand why, even if I do not inform him.

They invited those of us that remain to some sort of anniversary “reunion” to remember the “tragedy” that befell us. I do not believe I've ever heard such an insult in my entire life, long as it has been. The resources should be used elsewhere. On the effort. But no. They wish to “respect their veterans”...

...This is the first time in some time where I have actually had a goal, an objective. It's a series of steps, and I can follow them, and I have a purpose again. It's an odd feeling. Yet wonderful. I must go through that goblin town. My 'supplier' of sorts is there. An illusionist by trade, or so he's told me via post when I've attempted to contact him. From there I have to work towards the Blasted Lands. We told each other we would never dig that thing up. That it was not worth it for our intentions, good as they may be. But I will, because I must. I see that now. I see what she was getting at. I know what she was getting at.

…I feel disgusting for even having to take the guise of one of those Scourged creatures, but I feel it necessary. Perhaps I've decided on something far too complicated, but there shall be no questions, and there shall be no direct trail. They may search for a Death Knight, and find no one. Beyond that, should they even be seeking an elf, than they will have difficulty finding myself. The goblin's potions are at least good enough for that, as much as I despised having to pay him so much for such. I will need someone to lead me back to the area, though. Which means a witness.

There can be no witnesses. Such is a depressing fact. But such is the way of this.

…It was brutal. But it was swift. Painful, I'm sure, but his pain did not last. If anything, I am the one that had to suffer. I had to cut him into pieces. Like some animal. But I will not break the impression I am trying to convey. They will find him, and they will blame me, and they will look, yes. But it is better than said dwarf returning and saying anything about the item I came to recover.

…I suppose one can now say I've killed art. Or at least an artist. It's quite terrible that I attempt to make jokes for such a thing, but it's to... Cope. There is some bloodshed on my hands now, and I despise myself for it, but there will only be more in the future. That in the future though, is deserving of it. Very deserving.

It strikes me as almost a good thing that I am using the dead girl as a sort of disguise. For the time that I must use her as such(and it is worth saying that I remain impressed by the goblin's work), I shall be forced to remember such. My removal of a flame of life shall not be for not. That must be seen to without a doubt.

Goddess help me down the dark road I've chosen.

…I've heard some word that death knights were investigating the dwarf's demise. Why death knights of all creatures? Is it out of fear that they may be being wrongly accused? Some chasing of a potential rogue member? It makes no sense. Mercenaries, perhaps? I cannot even imagine who would hire such things for any work involving investigation. Adren certainly would not.

For whatever reason they may be doing so, they shall not be finding me. My path is clear for now. I must head north again. Duskwood shall provide a decent route. I already had to pass through there to arm myself to be able to match up with the impression of such knights, not that there is any proof of such. I passed on the weapon to a man in the woods. I would hope that he would be able to defend himself with such. He did not seem in his right mind, though.

...These people at Raven's Hill have given me the opportunity to remain here for a time. I have decided to take said chance, and shall use it. They seem kind enough. It is good to see. I pray that I do not need to commit any more violence for the time being. There should be enough to keep any investigating in the Blasted Lands. Of course, what may go wrong, likely will. When the need arises, I shall continue west into Westfall, and then towards Stormwind. From there, it shall be time to return west.

It's been some times since I've returned to Darnassus. I cannot imagine that any of these death knights shall pursue...

...The things I continued to hear were correct. At least one death knight has been following me, trailing me. She did not identify as to why. I had to resort to using those damned magics that I was hoping to reserve for a later time, but I do not regret such. It was too confined a space to use my bow. I expected more from her. She was rather easy to slam around. If I were to guess, where there is one there are at least other involved parties, death knight or otherwise.

She shall regret doing so. That much I can say. She was close enough for me to make use of the goblin's concoctions. And those around Westfall will find that “she' is very generous. Once she pursues, it should create a decent enough distraction.

…I should not be as pleased as I am with the fact that I wasted so much time conning and playing with them. I was correct. There is yet another knight, a companion of the prior woman. The poor fool questioned and threatened me, and I led him on a merry chase before moving onto Stormwind. I shall acquire passage to Darnassus soon enough. That should be more than enough distance.

Should these knights become a problem, I shall have to make sure that they are one no longer before proceeding with the rest of my work. If the rest are on par with the first, this should be easy. If they are not, then I shall need to prepare for such a conflict.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Innocent Introductions

    The Last Shot was buzzing with activity, as was the usual come the evening. Positioned near the edge of Stormwind, its crowd consisted of workers coming in from the fields, as well as those that worked within the city, creating a strange melting pot of personalities and people.

     At some point in the establishment's history, people became regulars. Even as its appearance declined over time, for the most part they didn't stop being regulars. Some preferred the Lamb, others the Pig and Whistle, and there were those that enjoyed the Recluse, just as the Shot's regulars wanted to spend their evenings there.

     It was far from impressive. The outside consisted of worn wood that was lucky that it hadn't caught aflame when Deathwing had passed through the city. Even though it was stationed in an alley, it was still visible come the night, a torch placed outside its door as to illuminate the aging sign that rested above the door, “The Last Shot” carved into the wood accompanied by the image of an empty shot glass.

     The interior matched the exterior to a degree. The newest looking items within appeared to be the bottles lining the back walls. The room had a darkness to it that came natural to a building lacking windows and was amplified by the darkened wood that made up the furniture and walls. What light there was came from candles around the place, which the owner liked to claim added “atmosphere”.

     It was spacious enough to allow a number of tables and chairs in, as well as other amenities. A decent sized bar was stationed at the north end of the room, and the corner to the left of the door space was reserved for a few musicians wanting to earn a bit of extra coin. The place was known well enough for a few performers. Some even argued that when no one was there to play, a bit of music could still be heard.

     Aside from the entrance, there was one other door in the entire room, and it stood behind the bar. This back room received steady use as the night went on, with the bartender having to retrieve something from it here and there, but more commonly for a few patrons who entered the Shot and went straight for the door. Others might exit from it, with those who arrived later in the night having never seen them enter. For those who might have wandered in for the first time it was a primary point of interest, but for those who had been there before their interest was much more subtle. Occasionally someone was brave enough to creep up to towards the door and take a peek into the room beyond, but they were only greeted with a pantry stuffed with food stuffs and a few bottles of harder liquor.

     When the turned into the alley, she found herself alone, save for the flicker of the torch in front of the door. She had a small bag hanging on her belt, leather armor covering the rest of her. A small smirk played on her face as she approached the door, anticipating the conversation she might leave in her wake. Pulling the door open, she entered the tavern, not giving anyone among the crowd a passing glance. Her destination was the door in the back. Once she had opened, gone through, and closed it, the smirk broadened. Just another spark of conversation on it.

     The pantry was dark with the door closed. It took only a moment for her hands to find the small latch on the trapdoor, pulling it upward. Shifting forward, she dangled her legs into empty air until her feet found the rungs of a ladder. As she began to descend, she made sure to close the door above her. Below her a few more torches offered a faint flicker. Her feet found the floor, and she released the ladder, turning around to face yet another door.

     She stepped into the next room, eyes scanning it slowly. It looked much like the room above, save for the door in the rear. There were a few tables scattered here and there, a bar at the end opposite the door, and a man in the corner plucking at a few strings on an aging instrument. The crowd her was smaller, being made up of a small group in the corner who all glanced up at her for a short moment, before going back to their hushed conversation, the bartender, and a lone man at the bar. Of those choices, she went with the bar.

     The bartender stood, silently scrubbing a glass. At her approach, he glanced up, an eyebrow silently raising. She kept her smirk, resting forward against the wood, a knowing sense of amusement in her voice, “Business seems a bit slow tonight.”

     The eyebrow didn't move, and neither did his mouth. The tender offered no response, simply continuing with his scrubbing. “So talkative,” she said, smirk widening.

     To her right, the original occupant of the bar snorted, his voice low and rough, “Still thinkin' you're clever?”

     She turned, resting her left side against the bar as she crossed her arms, the smirk not waivering once. He was a tall human, with dark skin, and his hair was cut short, a trimmed beard on his face. She recognized him in an instant. “Corvo,” she said, “Still drinking?”

     “Not nearly enough,” he grumbled, bringing his mug to his lips. Returning the mug to its previous resting place, he turned his head to the side slightly, shooting her a glance, “I'll take that as a 'yes', then.”

     “A yes to what?” she asked, head tilting a tad.

     Grunting, he shook his head yet again, leaning forward against the bar, “'Yes' it is.” Corvo almost sounded amused, for once in his life, like he wasn't trying too hard to fit in with copper novel detectives, “Swear one of these days someone will walk in here who ain't a damn smart ass.”

     “Considering you're already down here, and you still don't believe a person fitting that description has yet to enter, that doesn't speak highly of your self-esteem.”

     “Don't get paid to have a high self-esteem,” he grunted, taking another pull from his mug.

     She rested more against the bar, “So then tell us, mister Booker, what grand payday has brought you to this establishment of 'smart asses'? Because I can't imagine you coming down here for pleasure. That would imply you could smile.

     “Think that's my business, not your,” he said, shaking his head. “Go around poking everybody with questions like that? 'Cause eventually they'll get to poking back.”

     She put a hand to her chest, eyes widening, “You wound me, Booker. As if I'm so unprofessional as to go digging into another's affairs.”

     He snorted yet again, but said nothing in response, “Then why the hell do you even come down here if not to pry into other people's stuff? 'Cause that's all I ever see you doin'.”

     She blinked, “Are you accusing me of something? Because I assure you that I'm perfectly i-...”

     Booker put a hand up, “Say what I know what you're about to say and I'm gonna have a hard time resisting the urge to come over there and shove a cork in your mouth.”

     “My aren't we rude tonight,” she said, amusement leaving her voice to be replaced by a heavy dose of sarcasm and annoyance.

     He shrugged, “Maybe if you got a new joke, people wouldn't be tired of it.”

     “One, it is not a joke, and two, it is far from overused.”

     He cocked an eyebrow, “You're kiddin' me.” The man held up a single finger, “One, it's a joke. A pun. Maybe it was clever the first time I heard that, but it sure as ain't funny now, and I have no clue what Light-forsaken urge a person'd ever have to use it on a regular basis.” A second finger rose to join the first, “Second, like hell if it isn't overused. You pull the whole 'I'm innocent' schtick every single time you get the chance. I don't even think that's an overstatement in the slightest.” He looked to the bartender, “Ain't I right?”

     The bartender glanced up from his glass, looking at Corvo for a short moment, before his gaze drifted back downward, not a single noise escaping him. She smirked, “Does that mean he's taking my side?”

     “Doubt it,” Booker said, sliding his glass towards the bartender, partially for a refill, and partially to provoke some sort of response. A silence set in for a moment, before he lifted it, “I'm waitin' on somebody. What's your excuse?”

     She produced a small bag from her belt, tossing it over towards the bartender who caught it. Offering him a shrug, she inched away from the bar, “Delivery.”

     “And the whole standing here was just to terrorize me.”

     She shook her head, smirking yet again. Her back to the door, she began to inch closer to it, attention focused on him, “I'm afraid not.”

     “Nope. Not walkin' into that one,” he said, shaking his head, looking away from her. “Innocent”, at least that's what she called herself in such a place, bit her lip, having to resist to say anymore. Instead, she turned, exiting the room. Soon enough she would find her way back out onto the street, before slipping off into the night.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Closed Doors (Part 2)

This is a continuation of something I dredged up while searching through a few word docs. The first part of it can be found here.

The initial inspiration for the concept of this story and its world goes to hearing tales from Eve Online and its insane double crossings, trickery, and player-driven scams.


     As one might guess, it was of course not that simple. Those in the shipping field could take a glance at a bulletin board if they needed work, and colonists could easily be recruited in large groups, but those in the field of recovery had to dig deeper for theirs. Those who needed them weren't going to simply put it out in the open air that they had been robbed. That ruined reputation.

     At times, it would be best to put one's ear to the ground, and listen for a good rumor flying around. During others, one might consult a few who kept track of such things. In desperate times, one simply went straight to the source. For Alan Everett, this was growing close to a desperate time, but had yet to reach that point just yet. It was at this point where Frank Coban again became useful again.

Fanning out a number of pages across the table, he looked up at Alan with a decent sized smile, “This is what I could pull up.”

     Flipping through each page one by one, Alan made sure to add his commentary to each, “Didn't Ruby Mendez try to shoot you?”

     “It was an odd night for me, what can I say?”

     “More like an odd morning for you, but hey,” Alan replied with a smirk, “Anton's out of the question."

     “He pays good,” Frank rebutted.

     “He also has something against me for some ungodly reason,” Alan said, tossing the paper down on the growing pile of rejections, “I think I looked at him funny at a party or something.”

     “That'd do it with him. What about Chris Matthews? You look at him funny too?” Frank said, noticing how small the remaining options were getting.

     “Didn't he try to shoot you too? Was that an odd night too?” Alan said, flipping to the last page, holding up the picture to where Frank could see it.

     “Al, no,” Frank said, voice growing incredibly wary, “Please for the love of everything you hold dear in your life, no.”

     “Frank, she's probably the only person in this pile who doesn't want us dead,” Alan said bluntly.

     “Yeah, and there's still a good chance she'll try to off you,” Frank replied, snatching the photo from him and reading the description he had managed, “They don't call her a black widow for nothing, Al.”

     “She's got work, it looks like it pays well, and you know me. I'm one of the most charming people here.”

     Frank looked around the empty cafe, “In here maybe, Al.”

     Without any kind of warning Alan stood up, plucking his hat off the table and headed for the door, “I'll be back.”

     “You ain't sure of that!” Frank shouted as he exited the cafe, muttering to himself once he was gone “We seriously need to get off of this damn planet.”

     The tall metallic building gleamed in the bright noon sunlight. Alan had to cover his eyes as he approached as to keep the bright red metal from blinding him. Myers' Shipping Yard's main office was a tall building, standing high above the lifts and machines that surrounded it. The land around it was made up of warehouses, loading docks, and more, with people rushing here and there, items being moved, coming and going in one constant wave of movement. Most knew the business by another, simpler name, that being Myers' Movers. It was shorter, and more to the point. The company was a rather well known name by the area's standards, and held a fairly decent reputation, save for one thing. Its owner.

     Allison Myers was known to many as 'the Widow'. As with some nicknames, it wasn't undeserved. You'd never catch anyone referring to her as the Widow to her face, of course, unless you liked the long trip down before you crashed onto the road below her office window. The name had been earned as one might expect, through the sheer number of men who had been at her side one day, and headfirst in a dumpster whistling through a hole in their skulls the next.

     Of course no one ever noticed. In the Imports District if Lee didn't own it, Allison Myers likely did. Those who did notice tended to keep their mouths shut. Most enjoyed living, despite whatever meager existence they might have lived in. One look explained why some continued to try to woo her despite said past results. She was a pretty woman, short cut hair, short stature, but pretty. Her brown eyes never left Alan Everett from the minute he entered her office to the minute he left.

     “Oh Alan, I was hoping you'd be the one to show up,” she said, leaning forward against her desk, voice sweet and noticeable.

     Taking his hat off when he reached her, Alan eyed her over, every single one of his motions oozing caution, “That so?”

     “Oh yes!” she exclaimed, resting a bit farther forward, her dress forcing him to make sure he kept his eyes towards the north. The fact that he did so seemed to only feed her. “You're just so much better than anyone else. Everyone else is just so stiff and professional, but not you.”

     He frowned slightly, “Not sure if that's a good thing or not, considering I like to think I'm pretty professional.” He was trying to make it sound like he wasn't getting annoyed by the small talk, somewhat succeeding.

     “Well. I think it's a good thing, and the customer is always right, right Alan?” she asked, sounding overly amused by what she was saying. Why was beyond him, but he wasn't about to ask. The flirting act wouldn't buy him, it never had before.

     “Can we focus a bit here?” he asked, trying not to roll his eyes.

     “Focus on what exactly?” she asked, feigning ignorance, “Should we focus on you, or maybe me? Or somebody else.”

     “Work, lady. You got work. What is it?”

     Her head tilted forward a bit as she pouted, “That's not a very nice Alan,” she said, puffing her lower lip out even more. With a sigh, she slide a small screen over to him, “Fine, fine...Yes. It's always got to be work work work with you. I don't get it. Don't you ever take out some time for fun?”

     “Not with folks who I'm afraid'll kill me, no,” was what Alan wanted to say. Instead he bit his tongue, looking over the screen, letting out a short whistle, “Crate of off-worlds. That's a nice haul for somebody. Rare minerals to boot. Boys dropped the ball, huh?”

     She frowned, voice growing colder, “That's none of your business, now is it Alan?” Allowing herself to rest back in her chair, she smiled, the cold tone of her voice filtering out through her expression.

     “Guess it isn't,” he said, motioning to her with the screen in his hand, “I'll get back with you when I got it.”

     Allison steepled her fingers, watching him for a moment, “I'm sure you will.” Her gaze lingered for a moment, before her smile turned into a mischievous grin, “Not even going to offer me a time?”

     He shook his head, turning his back on her as he headed back for the elevator, “Nope.”

     Even though he wasn't able to see her expression, he was more than certain that she was pouting again. She was welcome to, of course. He was past caring.