New heroes and stuff
|The mass of metal and leather walked forward at a slow pace. Steel grey eyes peered from behind the heart-shaped mask with the crossed lightning bolts on it. The group of working girls regarded it with interest and smiles. A couple exposed themselves, but Silverbolt didn't care.
"Are you sure about this?" The horned helmet asked. Wildhunt's slender body seemed to glide compared to Silverbolt's intense gait.
"Of course, why wouldn't I be?" They're mostly harmless.
"You seem awfully at ease with the situation."
"They're just people, Wildhunt. Showing a little respect can go a long way in a situation like this." Wildhunt needs to get over her prejudice.
The plan worked for the most part. Well, for Silverbolt. The working girls took one look at Wildhunt and immediately pushed her out of the conversation.
A blond seductively touched the mask, "You look like fun waiting to happen." She draped herself over his armored form. "Is the armor heavy? Maybe I could help you out of it..."
Wildhunt crossed her arms and scoffed, "Give me a break."
"I'm sorry, was I talking to you, horny girl?" The blonde said to Wildhunt.
"While the offer is flattering, and you seem like a nice girl. I'm engaged to Lady Constance Reynard. She is my first everything. I want to keep it that way."
The working girls respectfully backed off and went, "Awe. In unison. The blonde gave the hero a wistful glance. "Would you say the same if you were engaged to me?" She arched her eyebrow and thrust her chest out.
Wildhunt shook her head, "Shameless is what this whole situation is."
"I would, but I would expect you to quit this job," Silverbolt gently pushed the girls out to arm's length.
The blonde smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck. "For you, I would."
"Oh my Goddess," Wildhunt shoved her away and growled. "We need information. Have any of you seen someone more often than usual lately or had new people come looking for comfort?"
The blonde jerked her thumb in Wildhunts direction. "You female companion seems to have a jealous streak."
"She's new to the hero game. Can you be nice to her?" The masked he pried the blonde's arms off of him. "Do you have a name?"
"Eva." The blonde said. "We've had three new customers, two pay in silver, and the third pays in gold coins. I forget his name, but he's a well-known pickpocket. Look for Masheck Littlechild. He runs the thieves in the area. Check near the abandoned market. He usually holds court there."
Wildhunt raised her hands to the sky, "Finally, a straight answer."
Eva marched up to her and started to poke Wildhunt in the chest. "Listen, I didn't choose this profession. I tried to find work, but none would hire me or apprentice me. I didn't come into this world with a silver spoon in my mouth, like you noblewoman." She kissed Silverbolts mask on the cheek. "If things don't work out with your lady, come find me."
"If I need info, is it okay to call on you in the future?" The metal-clad figure asked.
"Of course." Eva did her most sultry walk into the refurbished building and looked back to make sure Silverbolt was still watching her.
"Where is the abandoned market?"
"Do women throw themselves at you often?" Wildhunt asked.
"You have to let it go. It's going to happen to you once you establish yourself. You're going to have friends you never knew you had. Everyone will think you can solve their problems with the snap of a finger. On the way to the market, we will practice, move in, take out, move on."
"I'm sorry. My father cheated on my mother with impunity. Next to being treated poorly, it's my greatest fear in a relationship."
Silverbolt pointed to the roof. "Come on. We'll talk about it on the way."
Constance stared at the items upon the stone altar. Her crystal blue eyes could not believe how much went into hunting spirits. She pointed to a slender crystal on the end of a long chain. "What is that?"
"It's called a dowsing crystal. Once we get it blessed by the god of divination, finding spirits will be a snap." Midgely said as he prepared the offering bowl.
"I know that symbol. Do you want to strike a deal with Andraste? As in the Goddess of the moon and divination Andraste? Haven't you learned anything from Clara? Making a deal with a god is costly." Constance tried to walk away. Ethan wouldn't walk away from a friend. If he couldn't stop his friend, he'd stick around to make sure everything worked out.
Midgely stared at Constance, and his fists shook at his sides. The sorrow in his eyes engulfed his face. "I learned my destiny is to be alone. It's foolish of me to believe someone like Clara could feel anything for me."
"Silverbolt felt the same way..."
"I am not Silverbolt. He was born with a face destined to excite maidens everywhere..."
A face he covers with his mask most of the time. "Are you jealous of him?" Constance asked in disbelief. She unsheathed and sheathed the parasol blade.
Midgely's face frowned down to his chin. "A little. Mom and dad talk about him like he's a second son..."
I had no idea they were doing that. Constance rubbed Midgely's shoulders. "How do they talk about him?"
Midgely's face filled with shame, and he looked at the ground. "The way a mother and father talk about a son. I hate my jealousy because Silverbolt treats me like a brother. When Clara pledged herself to the horned one, he came to comfort me."
Ethan is far from perfect Midgely knows that. "Ethan is just starting to learn there is life beyond the battlefield. I'd prefer he be more like you, Gabe."
Gabe smiled and embraced the noblewoman. "Thank you. It means the world coming from you. However, I chose to leave home and find my way. I wish to rise above my cowardly reputation." He waved his hands and shouted. "Sgiath Altair." A barrier made from moonlight wrapped around the altar like a gossamer veil.
All I can do is watch now. Good luck, Gabe. Constance clasped her hands together and prayed to the All-Mother. The young noble began to chant. She spoke loud enough to drown out the incantation.
A pristine white hare found itself on the altar, and Midgely shouted, "With this offering, I invite you to speak with your servant."
A curious and opalescent ray of light shone through the window. The light writhed and started to shape a gown made of the whitest linens. A woman with the palest skin and eyes with quarter moon irises stared at Midgely. "You are not my servant, nor are you the servant of any of my kin." She saw Constance and nodded. "You tried to talk him out of it, didn't you?"
Constance knelt in deference to the celestial being. "I did, Lady of the night sky."
She pinched Gabe's cheek, "Your determination is charming, boy. I will hear your request, but promise nothing."
"I seek the power to hunt a spirit..."
The Goddess scoffed and waved her hand in a dismissive motion. "A single spirit is hardly worth my time, silly noble. Make me a real offer, and perhaps I will deal with you."
I should've known his plan would hit a snag. The gods are not interested in petty problems we can solve ourselves. I hope Midgely is a better negotiator than he is a planner. Constance almost left twice because of the crushing tension in the room.
Gabe took thirty seconds to contemplate the Goddess's words. "What do you want?" he asked.
"Are you sure about putting the ball in my court? Once I make my offer, all negotiations are over, and you will either choose to serve me or walk away." Andraste seemed amused by the audacity of Midgely.
Be careful, Gabe. Andraste is more mercurial than the Goddess. "Gabe, we can find a way to capture Idina..."
"No." Gabe's voice cracked, and he was on the verge of fainting. The cork popped off the vial. A single gulp came from Midgely. "Let's hear the offer."
Andraste clapped and giggled. "Wonderful." She walked around Midgely and grinned. "In exchange for the power to seal spirits away, divine their locations, you will become my priest, and erect a temple in my name."
"Will I be able to take a wife?"
Andraste giggled. "But, of course."
"Madness," Constance said before she could stop herself.
"Madness is not allowing people the freedom to choose, child of the All-Mother." She turned her attention back to Gabe. "Now, who's child do you wish to be?"
Wildhunt didn't do too bad for herself on the way to the market. She made the mistake of landing between two would-be thieves, a move that put her at a disadvantage. Silverbolt watched here the way a mother deer watches a fawn struggle to walk.
Wildhunt fought awkwardly and kept asking for his help. The heart-shaped mask with crossed lightning bolts was content to see his pupil stumble through the short fight. The young heroine was seething when she reached the roof.
"I was drowning, and you did nothing." She accused.
"Did you win?"
"What did you learn?"
"I don't know, I wanted to fight like you but couldn't."
Silverbolt laughed. "I geared my style towards my powers and abilities. You can't fight like me because you aren't me. I was half expecting you to summon the wolf to help you out, or did you think of that?"
Wildhunt growled and took a swing. Silver covered hands caught the lazy blow and twisted her slender arm painfully. The experienced hero's positioning made it impossible for Wildhunt to counter. "You're hurting me."
"Because you acted out of anger. Overconfidence, anger, and fear are your worst enemies. Respect your opponents because a fool can beat a hardened combat veteran having a bad day."
Wildhunt relaxed. "I thought being a hero was a relatively easy job."
"It's not. Let's get going."
Silverbolt expected the abandoned market to be empty. He estimated the dilapidated area became the black market of Ivorhaven. Stalls of shifty sellers and hucksters were eager to unload their stolen wares.
The metal-clad hero turned to his horned companion. "Can you summon the wolf again?"
A soft chant came from Wildhunt, but the magic fizzled and popped on the end of her fingertips. "Sorry. I need more time. Where do you think we will find Masheck? "
"Let's ask around." The heroes walked among the shifty, suspicious, and sticky-fingered. They didn't have to wait long before a group of well-armed brigands surrounded them. Their toothless leader guffawed, "Masheck is eager to meet you, Silverbolt."
Silverbolt turned to Wildhunt. "Listen up. Let them take you. If at any time they try to separate us, I'll break free and break you out."
"Understood," Wildhunt stood next to Silverbolt and held out her hands.
The toothless slob with the deteriorating leather armor and putrid breath chuckled softly. "A lady hero? Perhaps Masheck will give her to me when he has dispensed justice." The brigand went to touch Wildhunt and received a kick to the groin for his trouble. He fell to his knees and groaned.
"I am Silverbolts apprentice and servant of Cernunnos. If you so much as try anything, I will hunt you until your death." Her eyes glowed a soft green.
"I'd clap if my hands weren't tied." Silverbolt felt a certain amount of pride for his student. I think Wildhunt might make it after all.
"Just take him to Masheck," the toothless bandit said through clenched teeth.
Masheck endeavored to be well-groomed and well dressed. He looked more like a hero than he did a ruler of the underworld. He sat behind a table covered in coin purses and counted his ill-gotten gains. His bright oaken eyes twinkled at the sight of Silverbolt and Wildhunt.
"Oh-ho, The Silverbolt in person, and his sidekick?"
"Wildhunt is a hero in training," Silverbolt corrected the rogue.
The jovial thief adjusted his jeweled rapier. "One of you is bad enough for business. How am I took make my daily bread with you and this horned thing in the way?"
"Careful, or you may find yourself on the end of them," Wildhunt growled.
Masheck laughed and rubbed his neatly trimmed goatee. "Have you no control over your student. I wouldn't let any of my trainees speak to the competition that way."
Silverbolt was already bored with the swashbuckler. "Ask yourself, how many men are you prepared to lose trying to hang on to me?" He has to know my powers can't be locked down.
"I have no interest in controlling you and your young friend. I find it more productive to have you owe me a favor and one that won't break the precious code of ethics you hold in high regard."
Wildhunt struggled against the ropes. "Why would we work for you?"
Masheck sauntered up to Wildhunt, hands behind his back, and caressed the young noblewoman's face. "Do you know why the city watch allows me to operate in this city?"
I already know why. Let's see if Wildhunt can figure it out. Silverbolt watched wildhunt spit on the freshly pressed tunic of Masheck. I guess she'll learn the hard way.
"Now look what you did. No matter, I have a hundred more just like it." Masheck walked around Wildhunt. "You see, my horned friend, I am the lesser of evils vying for control of the underworld in this city. Despite my criminal and roguish ways, I am loyal to the crown."
Silverbolt laughed. "I'll be sure to get a statue erected in your name."
"The shiny one is droll. Your student lacks humor in tense situations." Masheck chuckled as he continued to walk around Wildhunt. "Every so often, people more unsavory than myself attempt to set up shop and muck with the order of things. My merry band of brigands and I keep them from ruining the good thing we have going."
Here's a great place to redirect the conversation. "How do you feel about Lord Tuxley?" Silverbolt asked.
Masheck stopped and stared at Silverbolt. "The man is a pox on my existence. Are you in opposition to him?"
Wildhunt scoffed and struggled against her restraints. "He's the reason why we are here. He absconded with the Old One, using a golden bridle. Silverbolt bested the beast in fair combat. We came here to find information on a pickpocket we believe is working for him."
"Release them. We have some business to discuss." The handsome rogue waved his hands at a pair of leather armored goons. "Get the guest chairs ready."
Two minutes later, the guards returned with velvet-lined seats and set them across from Mashecks counting area. The luxurious chair almost seemed to hug Silverbolt's body. "That's some quality chair."
A frustrated growl came from Wildhunt. "These are from Schaefer estate. You profit off of their tragedy."
A silver hand yanked Wildhunt into her seat, "Keep your eye on the prize Wildhunt. I know our host is a bit of a showman and huckster, but he has something we need. Remember, a little respect goes a long way." No wonder Hexfist was so hard on me. I acted the same way when I first started.
"It is nice to be in the presence of a gentleman capable of seeing the bigger picture." Masheck poured himself a goblet full of wine. "Now, about your pickpocket. I banned one from the market because he stole from a family struggling to make ends meet."
"How noble," Wildhunt spat.
"You have rules about that?" Silverbolt asked. I kind of like this guy.
"Of course. I came from the dregs of society." Masheck down the contents of the goblet and smacked his lips. "Ahh, tasty to the last drop. Stealing from the common folk makes them angry. The nobles get nervous about the angered masses, guard their valuables, put extra men on the street, and everyone loses."
Wildhunt glared at the thief. "It doesn't change what you are."
"Nor does it change who you are." He sighed wearily, "Silverbolt, next time you need information, leave your apprentice behind. She has a long way to go." He scratched something on a piece of parchment. "Here is the name of the man you seek and places he frequently visits. If you need further help taking Tuxley down, do stop by."
The guards escorted the heroes out of the warehouse and marched them out of the abandoned market.
Silverbolt looked at the paper. "Do you know where Hegan Side is?"
Wildhunt nodded, "Yes." She saw the look in Silverbolts eyes, "We are going to have another long talk, aren't we?"
"About a little respect going a long way? Yes."
Once more, the heroes took to the rooftops in search of their prey.