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Author Topic: Ride the Rushing Billows  (Read 6400 times)

  • Talia
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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #125 on: July 27, 2017, 12:48:56 AM »
"Maybe you should first take a seat." Bill Dean began his explanation of the situation back at Rob's manor, offering a seat to him before he would start. Rob had his arms wrapped around his chest, his ashwood hair unwaxed and askew, it took him a while to respond. Billy knew his boss had this 'Sellie' matter on his mind for a while, and it wasn't going to get better.

"Well? Get on it Billy," said Rob, settling into the leather bound seat.

The young man nodded, pacing the room slowly as he spoke. "Let me start with the good news. She isn't the victim of a kidnapping. She left Ebonhawke on her own volition about two and a half weeks ago."

"What? Then where is she?" Rob was seated upright, demanding an answer.

"The thing is that she left Ebonhawke... with a man," answered Billy, and waited for the news to sink in.

Narrowing an eye, Rob continued, "What are you telling me, Billy? Who is this man?"

"The name is Caden. I don't have a last name yet, but I'll seek him out if you want. The situation's changed from what we'd originally predicted, so I wanted to know how you'd like me to proceed."

Rob's grip on his armrests began to impress finger indents into the dark emerald hued leather. "How certain are you that she meant to elope?"

"Over the years, I've watched the Widowmakers deal on and off with cases that bear similarities to this one. The thing is women are a conniving lot; they pour their honey till their targets take the bait. They take what they can while their man is enthralled, then they bore quickly and move on to their next target. From what I gathered in Ebonhawke, Sellie Knox spent a large part of that time eyeing this man Caden, and vice versa - till the day she left the city, had him running desperately after her. If I had to guess, he's now taken her into his home and she will remain there till she's taken what she needs a bores of him as well. The same tactic she's used with you. A classic black widow case if I've ever heard one."

Grabbing a vase from the side table, Rob whisked the entire piece of pottery at a wall, causing it to shatter into a thousand shards. "Are you calling me a fool?!" He yelled, although it seemed to be rhethorical. Picking up a stack of papers on his desk, he began shredding them in odd angles with his bare hands, tossing the pieces on the floor.

"You couldn't have known, boss. The two of you have history," Billy remained calm but sympathethic.

"And do you know what she did then?" Rob held up the jagged ends of the shredded paper crushed in his hands, like thin pieces of white glass. "She was caught in a lie as well. Nearly got me executed by your father."

"I know the story," replied Billy. It was one of the many cases that his father had poorly handled, solely because he was too apathetic to launch a proper investigation to pick out the actual guilty party. He'd rather operate on fear rather than loyalty. Even as a child, Billy could see that Robert Brown had held a great amount of loyalty to the Widowmakers from the start, till that specific point in time where his passion for the gang began to wane, which of course ultimately led to actual betrayal. But Robert never got over Sellie, Billy always had to wonder if it was his father's intervention that caused him to be secretly obsessed. Robert was always certain of what he wanted - and his plan always involved building a successful business in Lion's Arch with a woman on his arm. If Sellie was that woman at the time, then he would reclaim whatever he'd lost, regardless of the part she'd played in the demise of the relationship. "It seems she hasn't changed. If she's still lying directly to your face, then you should do something about it. You are now, after all, a man of stature and coin - you don't live under my father's thumb any longer. This time you get to decide what happens to her."

Rob pressed his lips together. "This man, Caden... find out where he's living."

"Ah, there was another thing I meant to ask you about. My informant said that this man has a scar running across his face. Can you remember if Sellie mentioned anything about someone matching such a description?"

"A scar..." A memory popped into Rob's head. It was then that it all began to make sense. "The man who came right to my doorstep to fetch Sel to Aidan had a scar across his face. She said he was Aidan's friend, but I'm starting to think she had this all planned from the start."

"We can't know that, not till we speak directly to her," suggested Billy, thinking that Rob might be overreaching on that account. "Do you remember if the man with the scar told you where he'd come from? Any clues to who he's linked to?"

Rob searched his memory of the event. He'd thought often of Selina's departure, but not much of the man who'd been with her. Still... he could credit himself with a good memory. He'd never forget a name, and he didn't forget this one. "Siri... she's the person who handed the letter to Caden. If the letter was addressed to her by her brother, then we can assume that Siri is closely linked to Aidan."

"Great!" Billy rapped his fingers on his hips. "Divinity's Reach it is then." He gave it some thought, and continued, "Um... I hope you don't mind me asking, but what do you plan to do when you get to the home of this guy?"

Robert straightened his clothes and ran a hand over his hair. "I'm gonna hire some muscle. I plan to have myself some revenge."

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It'd taken her the entire night to hurry back to Ebonhawke. She'd made sure to dip her head in Divinity's Reach, even though she had the helmet and scarf on, both at the same time. She took short breaks to eat, but barely stopped moving. It was the next morning by the time she got to Vanguard headquarters. She was met with the guards out at the front. "Can I speak to Captain Diana?"

"Name?"

"Selina."

"Last name?"

"Just tell her Selina needs to see her, your captain will know what to do."

The gate guard looked at her oddly, then shrugged. He went into the building to fetch the capt while his comrade watched Selina at the gate. After a few moments, the gate guard who'd entered the building, came out and yelled. "Alright, Selina is clear to enter."

Selina quickly pushed past the other guard and hurried into the headquarters, accompanied by a third guard, one that she hadn't met yet. He insisted for her to remove her helmet and her scarf, then told her that he must stay in front of her no matter what, and for her not to look at or touch anything. Selina gladly complied. There was only one person she really wanted to interact with, and just one piece of information that she wanted. The guard stopped at a door down a long hallway, rapped on it, and opened it up for Selina to enter.

Peering into the small cubicled room with one open window, she saw Diana seated at her desk, two of her last fingers bandaged up thickly. "Please be seated, Selina Knox. I'm glad that the message got to you and that you've come."

Selina put down her helmet next to the door, and sat before Diana, her eye still on the half-norn's injury. "I'm so sorry for what happened," she said apologetically.

Diana smiled cordially. "I had to spend a couple of days at the hospital to get this fixed. But it also gave me some free time to catch up on my reading." She picked up a file. "Guess what I'm now all caught up on?"

It didn't take long for Selina to venture a guess. "Me?"

"Uh huh..." Diana nodded, and put the file down. "You've quite the history, Miss Knox. And quite the public one. Although one thing that wasn't mentioned - that Aidan Brennan is your brother?"

"Half-brother," she corrected her.

"Ah, that makes sense." Diana leaned forward, her elbows on her desk. "So, someone seems to be very desperate to find you."

"That's what I came here for. My brother received your message, and sent me another to inform me of this situation. What did your attacker say?"

"For starters, he knew of your association with Aidan Brennan. He also knew about our venture to capture Andrea Brennan. What surprised me most was that he knew details about the people in our team... at least for the early part. Sax and Aidan. Can you think of who would be privvy to all this information?"

At that point, Selina was dead certain that Rob was behind the entire fiasco. Who else would know the blood association between her and Aidan? But she didn't want to get the Vanguard involved. It was a private matter, and Diana, as helpful as she was, just wouldn't understand. "Diana, can I ask for an important favour?"

"Yes?" Diana wasn't glad that Selina was changing the subject, but she decided that she would be patient.

"Don't tell anyone that Aidan is my brother. It's alright for you to know, but not anyone else. Can you promise me that?"

"If you don't mind me saying so, it seems like the cat has already been let out of the bag, otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Selina clutched a fist. Diana was right, but she hoped it would be contained nonetheless. "I'll handle it. I just need your help for your aspect of it."

Diana raised a brow. "No you won't handle it. An officer of the Vanguard was assaulted, this is a Vanguard case now. I need you to tell me who knew about the investigation? And who leaked that information?"

"Diana..." Selina said pleadingly. "I know you need to bring your attacker to justice, but if he was able to get the jump over you, we're talking about professionals. They will know how to cover their tracks. As for the facts surrounding our case, was it known to other Vanguards?"

"Of course, we have to log..."

"There you go, there's your leak."

Diana raised her voice at this offense, "Are you trying to imply that we have a mole?"

"I'm not." Selina sighed. She wasn't doing a very good job at convincing Diana to trust her. "Look at how easily I was allowed entry into your headquarters. And I wasn't even trying to sneak in. Nobody tried to verify if I'm who I say I am, and I was allowed in without even needing to provide my last name. And now you tell me you have a written log of all your cases. Someone who intended to get that information would have easy access, that's all I'm saying."

Surprised at everything the woman had pointed out, Diana remembered the un-identified note on her desk, and how it'd baffled everyone in her staff in regards to how that person could've gained entry. It was then that she remembered that Selina Knox was no ordinary civilian. From that file, she'd seen the woman had been linked to multiple counts of theft and burglary, although most had been dismissed on the basis of lack of damning evidence. Perhaps she, of all people, would actually know what she was talking about. "You seem to know who this perpetrator is though. Help me bring him to justice."

"I would, except there are others that may be in danger now. That's why I had to hurry here to speak with you. If I make a move against him now, I'm afraid that other innocents will get the butt end of his wrath."

Diana let out a breath as she considered Selina's words. "What do you plan to do then?"

"Pacify him, and hope that he lets it go."

"And I suppose you expect me to let it go?"

Selina remained silent for a while, regretful for what she was about to say. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to."

"As an officer of the law, you're asking something of me that I cannot do. I still believe this should be handled in-house, but I want you to be a part of this investigation," answered Diana resolutely, and stood up at her desk. "Guards!" she shouted out the door.

Selina leapt up from her seat at Diana's sudden change of heart. "Please don't do this. People may die..."

"That's exactly why I have the duty to do something about it," insisted Diana. Footsteps and voices echoed down the hallway as they approached.

Knowing that she had no other option to get out of this, she muttered a, "I'm sorry" before she grabbed her helmet, leapt onto Diana's desk and sent a reeling foot into the soft patch under Diana's chin, causing the half norn to choke and gasp for air. Just as the door opened, she flew onto the window, crashed into it - and for a while, as she sailed through the air, she wrapped her arms around her face to brace for impact as she crashed into the opposite wall and slid to the ground. Taking a second to recover, the other Vanguards noticed the woman crouched on the ground and began to approach. "Hands up!" they said, lifting their weapons in her direction.

She rose slowly as she fit the helmet on her head.

"Put your hands up!" they yelled again. Diana began to recover, she stumbled to the broken window to witness the capture of Selina Knox.

Except that never happened. In a single moment, Selina slid underneath the many barrels aimed at her. They fired all at once, sending bullets burrowing holes into walls and barrels. Plunging towards the ground, she took a strong grip on the lower body of one of the guards and swung around. Slipping a dagger into her hand, she had it armed at the man's vertebra within a second and rose slowly behind him. "Don't shoot!" he yelled, dropping his own rifle as he felt the pinch of the blade at his back.

The other Vanguards looked at him helplessly, unsure of what to do next. "Don't shoot," echoed Diana from the room on the second floor. The situation had certainly escalated to a more critical place than she'd anticipated. She wondered if her manner of negotiation had been lacking - but no point to regret then. She wouldn't lose a Vanguard, not that day. "Let her go," she commanded.

Selina looked up intently at Diana, intending to be certain that she was being sincere. Diana nodded assuringly. "Please put down your weapons. Let the woman go."

Gradually all rifles came down to the ground, and so did her blade. Taking her arm off the guard she'd held hostage, she raised it in the air to signify she meant to do no more harm. Backing off slowly, she yelled back, "I'll try to get the man who hurt you, Diana. This, I promise you."

"It doesn't matter. Just don't get yourself killed," Diana replied. Then added a final word, "And your secret is safe with me."

Selina nodded gratefully before she slipped around the bend and disappeared down the street.

The Vanguards standing on the ground floor looked up at Diana, still confused by the entire exchange. "Beaten by a single woman.... really!" chided Diana together with the shaking of her head. "And we should take a more serious look into our protocol in the screening of visitors."

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Selina had made it to the portal to Divinity's Reach when she began to slow. There was a piercing sensation in her shoulder, and it only hurt worse when she pressed a palm on it. Removing the palm, she looked down at a blood-stained hand, a stream of blood from her shoulder down to her hip, and a single bullet hole in her flesh. She'd so much adrenaline pumping in her before, she'd barely noticed any pain at all. Slipping behind a pillar in a corner of town, she slid down to the ground, took off her jacket and tore off the sleeve next to the offended shoulder. She tied it under her arm to slow the flow of blood, and placed her jacket over the entirety of her injury. At some point she would have to remove that bullet, but not yet. There were matters to attend to first.

Rising from her hiding place, she pressed on towards Lion's Arch. One step at a time.

  • Talia
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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #126 on: July 30, 2017, 06:00:42 AM »
Siri had been slicing carrots in the kitchen to add into the roast, meant for the master's lunch when a knock came on the door. She put down her vegetable knife, wiped her hands on her apron and hurried to attend to the guest.

Opening the door, she found a young man standing outside. Flashing a set of pearly whites, he tipped his hat politely and asked if the master was in.

"I'm sorry, you have just missed him," said Siri. Aidan had been in his study the entire morning, as he had been for the past few days. It had been the guest's misfortune to be seeking him on the rare occasion the master did depart his home. It had been of a matter involving a letter that had arrived, Siri didn't know the details but secretly, she was glad that the master was getting a walk. Spending too much time indoors surely wouldn't do him any good. "Would you like to come in and wait?"

"That would be marvellous," said the guest, stepping through the doorway. He had on a fine suit, and nicely lined boots. Siri guessed that he must be one of the nobles from the Reach. Perhaps a business associate.

She ushered him to the sitting room, and offered to make him a cup of tea or coffee.

"Actually," he said, taking off his velvet top hat. "Perhaps there is something you might help me with instead."

"Me sir?" Siri was a little confused, this had never happened before.

"Yes you. You seem to be the helpful sort, and I'm in need of some direction."

"Where is it you would like to go sir? I will try my best to guide you."

"I'm sure you are aware that your master, Aidan Brennan, is in contact with a man named Caden?" He stopped to observe her reaction. She nodded slowly. "The thing is, Aidan told me to seek this man for some help. Initially I was a little hesitant, thinking I could handle the problem on my own. But it seems I might need that help after all. I regret that I did not accept his offer sooner, because now I'm in a bit of a fix... I need to seek out Caden at the soonest time, but I don't have his address because my pride had stopped me from getting all the details when I did have the time." He leaned towards her. "I'm thinking, perhaps you might know where he lives? If you do, then I won't have to bother your master, and I will get on my way to his place right this moment."

Siri considered the request, and wondered if it was her place to be giving away addresses. "I don't know if Master Brennan will be pleased with me giving away his friends' addresses, perhaps it's better if you wait for him to return and ask him yourself?"

The guest visibly frowned. "How long do you think he will be?"

"I'm not sure of that sir, but I'm sure he'll be back soon," she said optimistically.

There was an audible sigh. "Soon is a vague word. Isn't there anything you can do for me now? Aidan doesn't have to know that you've informed me of the whereabouts of Caden. But know that you will be doing a gentleman a huge favor."

Siri struggled with herself. The master had never specified if it would be alright if she gave away addresses to guests without him present, but the idea just didn't feel right to her. All she could think about was stalling time till Master Brennan returned from his walk. "Erm... sir, I never got your name?"

The guest smiled. There was a glint in his eye, dimples in his cheeks. She'd to admit that he was somewhat charming in a youthful way. "Lester Burns," he replied. "I'm Aidan's old chum. Have been away for sometime, perhaps that's why you can't recognize me. Trust me when I say your master and I are good friends, regardless."

Turning her head to a side, she searched her memory for a 'Lester Burns'. The name itself didn't ring a bell, but the more she stared at him, the more she could imagine that he might be one of Aidan's old friends. Certainly seemed to be the type to associate with him. She couldn't guess what business he would have with master Caden though... unless? "Are you seeking Master Caden for herbs?"

Lester pointed approvingly at her. "Exactly!" he said. "I need herbs urgently, that's why I'm in a hurry. Someone close to me is very ill."

"Oh my! I'm sorry to hear that."

Lester's expression suddenly twisted in sorrow. "I'm so worried... for my sister. She's all I have. Every second we waste, the closer she comes to..." he clutched at his heart as tears filled his eyes. "A fateful end. Oh, by the gods, I hope I'll be in time."

Siri's heart went out for the gentleman. She couldn't imagine having the great burden he had been carrying on his own. Again, she battled with herself internally, wanting with all her heart to help alleviate the man's situation.

The man looked at her through reddened eyes. "Please dear lady, I'm begging you. I'd wait for Aidan to return, but I need to hurry those herbs back home. I'm sure Aidan will be ever so pleased that you did what you could to help my sister. She's very dear to your master too."

His words of desperation broke through every ounce of restraint she had held. If a man's sister's life lay on the line, then she was sure Master Brennan would have no objections to her lending a hand. She was sure he would too. "Alright, stay here Master Lester. I'll go get the address for you immediately." She pulled off her apron and hurried towards Aidan's study to pick up the note that held Caden's address. She knew its location well because of all the dusting she did through the week. She didn't mean to spy, but that note in particular was in a rather prominent place.

After scribbling a copy of the same address, she hurried back down to the sitting room. Oddly, the gentleman had disappeared. "Master Lester?" she called aloud, wondering if he'd to make a trip to the washroom.

"I'm here," came her reply. It was from the kitchen. She followed the voice and found him standing next to her carrots. The smile had returned to his face. "I was just admiring your lovely knife here," he said, touching the handle of the vegetable knife. She stifled a chuckle. The knife was rather ordinary, even by ordinary standards. She wondered what exactly he saw in it.

"This is Master Caden's address sir," she said, lifting the note towards him.

"Ah," he responded delightedly as he snapped up the note. "I'm in your debt, Siri."

She froze - she hadn't told the gentleman her name. She wondered how he knew. "How did you know my name, sir?"

"You forget my association with your master, Siri. He's spoken of you on several occasions."

"He has?" She felt flattered by the thought.

"All good things," said Lester patting her on the shoulder. "One more thing, what is Caden's last name?"

"It's Mullins, sir. Did Master Brennan not tell you his full name?"

Lester shook his face as he walked to the door. "Our conversation was very brief, but I thank you for filling out the blanks for me."

"My pleasure sir!" said Siri, hurrying two steps in front of Lester to get the door for him.

"I'll be sure to tell Aidan what a help you've been."

"I appreciate it! Have a good day."

"You as well."

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #127 on: July 30, 2017, 07:04:04 AM »
It'd been the third time since Rob'd gone through some of the newer applications. He stopped to rub his eyes. The words were meshing over and over into a ball of nothingness as his mind strayed once again towards the thought of what had been going on behind his back without his knowledge. He felt the deep stab of betrayal, and wondered when the lies had begun and what she'd done to be so convincing.

"Mr Brown?" Mrs Priscott peered through a half opened door.

"Yes?" he mumbled as he put the applications away. He had finally decided that it was a waste of his time to go through them again if his mind was registering none of it.

"You'll never guess who just showed up at your doorstep," she said, her lips curved in a half smile.

He rose from his seat. "Who is it?"

"Selina Knox." She began walking towards the door, certain that her employer would be behind her at any moment. And predictably, he was.

"Billy found her?"

The middle aged woman shrugged. "Billy isn't with her." There was surprise on his face. Following the events of the past few weeks, Mrs Priscott could see that the man had become obsessed with this woman, first in an unnatural infatuation, then a raging hatred - she only prayed that he wouldn't be duped a second time. She couldn't wait for this saga to be over so that he'd be able to go back to the way things were before the woman arrived. They continued through the sitting room till they were at the entrance.

True enough, Selina stood on the street below as plain as day; dark leather coat all zipped up, ruffled hair under a hood, a couple of noticeable fresh new scratches on her face and a helmet tucked under an arm. "Rob... I'm sorry I took so long to get back to you," she said a matter-of-factly, as though such simple words could whisk away all the pain and anxiety he'd gone through the past few weeks.

"Get in here!" he growled and Selina did as she was told. Mrs Priscott shut the door behind the guest before departing the room herself. Taking a few moments to look about the room, Selina gently placed the helmet on his coffee table, and turned around to face him. There was a form of child-like naivety she had on that day - as though she did not expect to explain herself, and that just by her presence, things would fall back into place as they had been before. "Where have you been?" He asked even though he already knew. He wanted to know how far she would go in her attempt to deceive him.

"Ebonhawke." She stated the obvious.

"The entire time?"

"Most of it."

She was playing games with her words. He wouldn't have it. "The truth!" he demanded, taking a step closer to her. "Where did you go after resolving your brother's problem?"

"Around."

She probably thought she was being cute. But she wasn't. He swung a fist at her jaw. It made contact, threw off her hood and flung her face to a side. "You were with another man! Admit it!"

She put a hand to soothe her jaw and turned to face him again. "Tyria's full of 'men'. Perhaps you'd like to be more specific?"

He punched her across the face again, just under the eye. She retreated back a step. "How long have you been a lying wench? Has this entire relationship been a game to you?"

"You wanted it!" she cried, her expression twisted in anger. "I gave you what you wanted, and this is what I get in return."

"Don't give me that again. You led me to believe we were back to what we were before."

"We will NEVER be what we were before, Rob. Not after what you did to me. We are DONE, do you hear me? DONE!"

An enormous amount of energy exploded within him then. With a single powerful heave, he tossed her backwards so hard that she toppled over completely and slammed into a corner of his coffee table. It flipped over in a most dramatic fashion, its contents tossed into the air and raining all over her and the rest of the floor. She cried out in agony, clutching a shoulder that he guessed had made the main impact. Secretly, he was glad that she was finally hurting like he had been. "You used me. You used my wealth, my influence, my pits, had your way with my feelings. Once you've had your fill, you intend to leave me for another. Did you really think you could hide forever?"

She didn't look up nor did she respond. It looked like she was holding her breath and biting her lower lip as she bent over, her left hand protectively shielding her right shoulder.

"Crying crocodile tears, are you? I'll have no pity for the likes of you."

He paced the room, expecting her to respond with some snarky comeback - but still, she didn't speak.

"How dare you! After all I've done for you. And until now you still aren't keen on being straight with me. Tell me where exactly have you been?"

He waited again, but there came no answer. He was getting impatient with her. Grabbing her left arm, he pulled it aside roughly, and forced her to look at him. There was burning despise in her eyes. "You've been hiding somewhere secret, making out with a man named Caden, haven't you?"

That did the trick. Her expression melted from hatred to fear. Her jaw dropped, but she said nothing.

"I should've learned. My mother was a skank, just like you. Would be off with an assortment of other men the moment my father had to leave the city for business. She told me, as a child, to hold in that secret. It was a secret between two of us, that my father should never know. I always feared if I ever told, she would leave and never come back." He grit his teeth as he recalled his past. "Well, I never told. But the whore left us anyway. Said there was nothing left to keep her around. I wasn't good enough to keep her around. Her own son..."

"Rob, I'm not your mother..." Selina mumbled.

"You might as well be," he said sharply, grabbing a tuff of hair off the top of her head and pulling it backwards. "So who is this man Caden? Tell me Sel. Who is he?"

She shook her head defiantly regardless.

He slammed another fist into the lower part of her face. Her head flopped backwards like a ragdoll. "What does this man have that I don't? I practically live in a damn palace. What is it that you're looking for?"

Selina returned his gaze. There was blood on her lips from where his fist had split her flesh. The fire in her eyes had returned. She spit on the floor. "I'm looking for decency," she answered simply.

His eyes widened, and he wrapped a hand around her face, shaking it forcefully. "You say I'm not decent? Is this your complaint?"

She pulled away from him. "A decent man would not see fit to slap a woman around."

Rob began to laugh bitterly then. "I'd treat you like a woman if you acted more like one. Instead, you behave like a slut, throwing yourself at various men."

"You've said it yourself, you live in a damn palace. You could have any Tyrian woman if you wanted. Why harp on one?"

Rob took a huge breath as he considered her question. "Perhaps you were always the what-could-have-been. The future I had been stripped of. It's an injustice I just can't get over."

"Oh boo hoo," she responded numbly. "Everyone's been stripped of some future. Big deal. Just imagine if you'd stayed with the Widowmakers, you'd probably be in jail right this moment. Be grateful they did what they did, so you can go climb on all their gravestones to be the new prince of Lion's Arch."

"They had me at death's door. You want me to be grateful for that?" he spoke quietly, dangerously.

She looked at him sharply. "You've had a second chance at life, Rob. How many people can say that? And this is how you choose to spend it... you decide to be exactly like them."

He narrowed his eyes. "What are you saying, Sel?"

"Money laundering, slavery, gambling... Need I say more? You're as much a liar as you claim that I am. Maybe more."

For a while he stared at her, wondering how much she knew. Then he lifted her up threateningly by the front of her jacket - he could see that made her wince. "So Mrs Priscott was right, you really have been snooping in my business."

"I won't tell if you won't tell," she said through her teeth. In spite of the look of pain that she wore, there was a smug on her face that disgusted him. He finally began to understand why she'd led him on in the first place - she intended to get leverage over him.

"Blackmail..." he said.

"Et tu." She replied softly.

He dropped her, and rose to his feet. "So what's stopping me from finishing you off right now?"

Silence followed as the smug faded from her face. "If that's how you roll."

He raised a brow, he didn't believe it. Sellie Knox giving up this quickly? Surely she had something up her sleeve as she always did. A worrisome thought entered his head. "Who have you told?"

"No one."

"You've told your loverboy, haven't you?"

"No I haven't."

"Tell me Sellie, where does Caden live?"

"I haven't told him anything!" she spat. "I'm the only one who knows this. You pop me in the head, that's the end of your leak. All applause for you."

"You're a pathological liar. How do I believe anything you say?!"

They were interrupted by a series of knocks on the door. They echoed through the sitting room. Rob straightened himself out, turned around and opened the door.

'Lo and behold, it was Bill Dean, holding up the much awaited address. A wide grin spread over Rob's face as he snatched the slip of paper from Billy's hand and read it quickly. "Caden Mullins. And he lives in Claypool... hmm that's a trip we can easily make," he mused as he turned to Sel. It was his turn to be smug. On the reverse side, the color had drained out of her face, and she merely looked on in silence out of horrified eyes.

"Is this who I think it is?" Billy asked in wonderment. Selina Knox wasn't an easy target to find, and yet when it was completely unexpected, she was seated right in Robert's own home.

"It is," Rob replied. "She came in on her own accord. Trying hard to hide what she's done."

"Rob, let's talk it over," her words were desperate, plea-ful. "I promise that nobody knows. And it'll remain that way as long as we keep it within this room."

Rob couldn't believe that she was still trying to pull wool over his eyes. He pointed at her as he spoke to Billy. "This bitch actually expects us to believe her. After all she's done. She's admitted to looking through my files."

"Has she?" Billy walked over, and bent down to study her a little more closely. Beads of sweat were rolling down the side of her face, and her skin was pale and waxy - didn't look healthy in the least. He asked, "Hey boss, do you think she seems a little ill?"

"I'm sorry for lying to you Rob. This is all on me, Caden hasn't anything to do with it. Let's not bring him into this. Please," she pleaded again.

"Look at that. I bet she's feeling it right in the pit of her stomach," said Rob. "Unfortunately it's too late for apologies. This is now much larger than just you and I."

"Seriously..." said Billy, putting a palm on Selina's forehead. "She's burning up."

She pulled away from him as she desperately reached out in Robert's direction. "Rob... please. What must I do?"

"The truth burns away all lies," said Rob coldly, ignoring her pleas. All the love he'd once felt for Selina Knox had since shattered into pieces. The only thing he felt then was emptiness and a need to save what she sought to destroy. She had not only lied, but schemed against him. He could only hope that he wasn't too late. "Get her up. We're going on a trip to Claypool now. I'll get the carriage ready."

With that, Rob left his manor to fetch the muscle he had hired, leaving Billy alone with Selina.

Billy looked on at Selina. She was sprawled on the ground amidst the articles that had fallen from the coffee table, and she was sobbing. "Come along, let's get you up," he said after some time.

She wiped her tears away, though her right arm was suspiciously immobile. "How did you get the address?" she asked between sobs.

Billy thought about lying about how he'd come by the information, but there was something about lying to a woman in such a position that felt unsettling. "I got it from your brother's housekeeper."

A stake of fear went through Selina as she pondered the consequences. "Is she still alive?" she asked quietly.

He grinned in response. "Very much. Practically untouched."

She nodded in relief, taking his word for it. "Thank you," she said, and raised her left hand to him. "Will you help me to my feet?"

Billy responded immediately, taking that hand and giving it a hard pull, expecting her to do the rest of the work picking herself up. Instead, she cried out loud as she was lifted a foot above the ground before her knees buckled, and she went back down to the floor. It was then that Billy noticed the pool of blood that had collected under her. It was previously hard to pick apart from the dark leathers on her body. But the stark contrast of crimson against Robert's cream carpet told no lies. "Where are you bleeding from?" he asked. It was none of his business, but he had to wonder.

"My... my right shoulder is busted," she replied.

He bent down, put a hand on the zipper of her jacket and gave her a look to gain approval. She nodded slowly, and he dragged the zipper down midway. Pulling the leather away from the body armor below, he could quickly see that she was pierced about two inches or so above the more protected area of her body. It certainly looked like a gunshot. "You might think about full body armor in the future."

"Too heavy," she replied. "Can we try again?" She reached out her hand again, but it was weaker than before.

Billy zipped her back up, bent down, placed her arm around his shoulders, tucked an arm around her waist, and gently lifted her off the floor. It went a lot smoother this time. He held her there till she regained enough strength in her legs to lumber forward slowly beside him. "Does he know?" Billy asked, referring to Rob.

"I don't... I don't think so. Do you think he'd care?"

"Maybe?" suggested Billy. "Didn't he love you once?"

She didn't respond as they left the manor and were met with Robert's waiting carriage. The door to the carriage was wide open, and both Billy and Selina could see Rob seated in there with two burly men. All three were engaged in a conversation when they stopped at Billy and Selina's approach. "What's this?" Rob asked, sticking his head out of the carriage. "She can't walk on her own?"

"Shoulder's busted," Billy replied, half expecting to take Selina back into the house.

"Well? Get her in here," instructed Rob without a second thought, moving aside to make way for her to enter. Dismayed with the decision, Billy audibly let out a disapproving sigh, but he lifted her up nonetheless. After some struggle, they managed to get Selina into the carriage. Billy held out bloodied hands to Rob in the hope that it would move something in the man to bring Selina to a physician before pursuing his quest of revenge. But nothing was going to stop Rob in that moment. Not love, not sympathy and certainly not mercy. "Tell Mrs Priscott that I won't be back for dinner," he said. And with a swift tug, he shut the door on Billy and got the carriage moving speedily in the direction of Claypool.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #128 on: August 01, 2017, 08:30:56 AM »
Allen had filled his cart with a full load of steel. The yaks were making good pace, and the rifle was at his side. He was feeling rather confident of himself, knowing that he'd keep himself safe if trouble were to arrive. It was a good feeling. He thought about the two bandits he'd seen on the way to Kessex. How frightened they were of his rifle. He wondered if he really did seem that intimidating. He wondered what became of them. It would make a good tale for dinner - though getting the steel to Claypool would be step one in redeeming himself in the eyes of his father.

Ever since Selina had left Caden had been uneasy. He was quite convinced something bad would happen, but, Sel had ordered him to look after Allen and that's what he tried to stay focussed on. At least his time with the Shining Blade had brought him the ability to do as much. He'd been considering how to go about it for a while now and realized he had very few options. The bandits would most likely come for the lad again, and he was just one against several. With Sel's interference earlier chances were even more would show up now, expecting resistance. He considered meeting Allen in Kessex Hills and taking him the long way around, but it would cost them at least 2 days extra and take them right through the swamp.

Backup then... He thought, but who. Aside from the seraph not many people in Claypool were skilled in combat. Jer.. He could ask Jer he suddenly realized. Leaping to his feet he grabbed his bag, strapped on a pistol and a shortsword and tossed a disguise kit into his bag. He quickly made his way downstairs. "Mum, I'm out, I'll be back later!" He yelled into the shop before swinging open the backdoor, letting it fall shut with a bang behind him as he went.

He made his way over to the training fields to find his friend, where he eventually spotted him hanging against the fence of the rifle training grounds. "Hey" He said with a short wave. "Not working today?" He said, noticing at one glance that his friend wasn't wearing armor.

"Nah man, just hanging out" Was Jer's short reply. Infinitely pleased with the answer Caden grabbed his sleeve and pulled him a whiles away from the training grounds.

"Come with me" He said while he was dragging Jer along.

"Ho now, what's going on" Jer said when Caden stopped walking deciding they were far away enough, out of earshot.

"I need your help" Caden replied, after which he explained some of Allen's predicament.

"Ah that gang," Jer balled a fist. "I've been wanting to chase those rats out for months, but we're too thinly stretched to really go after them, especially since the attack on the Reach"

Caden looked at him, "We can't let them rob Allen a second time Jer, we have to do something."

Jer nodded, "Ok, I'll help you" He started to walk in the direction of his house, gesturing for Caden to follow him. "Do you have a plan?"

Caden shrugged, "Besides enlisting you? Not really, got any brilliant ideas?"

Jer frowned, "Well then, just walk up there and tell em to piss off? Do you even know how many will show up?"

"What if we go there now and place some traps, we'll just have Allen wait until those goons spring them, I doubt they'll be loitering around after being injured"

"Sounds like a plan if I ever heard one" Jer replied, slapping Caden on the back. "Lemme grab my rifle and some supplies" He said before running indoors. Several minutes later he emerged, carrying a rifle and a big sack on his back. Together they made their way out of the village, avoiding the center of town.

Kit had promised twenty men, but the boss sent five. The woman in the hood was becoming an annoyance - an itch that needed to be scratched. There was no guarantee that she'd be on the road for a second day though. They figured five would be enough to sniff her out, and if need be, follow her to her dwelling so they'd be able to set up an ambush. They also knew that Allen Murray would be returning with a second shipment of steel, so that would be advantageous to grab as well - to make up for what was lost. Armed with pistols and daggers, the five marched out through Altar Brook Vale, headed for the road to wait for either the woman or the boy to show.

Upon nearing the site where the bandits would most likely decide to ambush Allen Caden and Jeremy made a stop. Caden took out his disguise kit and made sure he was quite unrecognisable while Jeremy strapped on an old dented breastplate that came from the sack he was carrying and wrapped a scarf around his head. After that they set to work, laying traps around and on the road.

When they were done, Caden traveled ahead to meet up with Allen while Jeremy hid himself near the traps to keep a look out for the bandits, rifle at the ready.

Allen had an apple in his hand as the yaks moved off from Fort Salma. He had had a full lunch, and was ready to make the final leg of his journey when he noticed a peculiar man running towards him with something that looked like a disguise.

Caden waved and came to a halt in front of Allen, "Hello Allen" Caden said. "Your friend sent me out here to help"

"My friend..." Allen couldn't recall anyone who would... it occurred to him then. This was likely the friend of the vigilante. After all, he seemed to have an equal penchant for disguises. "She couldn't be here herself?"

"Alas no, she had other matters to attend to" Caden frowned lightly. "No matter though, we'll manage just fine. I have something planned for those bandits and I need you to hang back here and find a hiding spot until I come and fetch you again, can you do that?"

Allen took the rifle from around his shoulder. "Maybe I can come along. I managed to scare two away on my way to Kessex, set them on the right path."

"If they come, there will be more of them. I need you and your merchandise to stay safe, do you understand?"

Allen considered Caden's words. He returned the rifle to his shoulder and nodded. "I'll stay in Fort Salma then, thank you for helping."

Caden nodded "My pleasure, I'll come fetch you when I'm certain it's safe." He waited until he was sure Allen was on his way to the fort before returning to Jeremy.

The five were almost at the choke point when one of them started bouncing around, yelling at the top of his lungs. They all stopped and saw that he had stepped on some nasty caltrops. It had cut into his shoes and hurt his feet.

One bent down to pick up one of the caltrops. He looked around. The dirt nearby was suspiciously tampered with recently. One of his mates was walking in that direction. "Wait no!" he cried, but it was too late. His buddy stepped into the trap and a cloud of poisonous dust plumed into the air, causing him to choke and his eyes to water.

"Traps!" another yelled, backing up. Spikes began flying in all directions, sending the men into a panic.

"Back off!" said the one with the caltrop on his hand. "Slowly."

They did, surveying the ground as carefully as they could. It would seem that they wouldn't be able to carry out the mission to survey the exit to Kessex that day, not with all the traps laid all over the place. Someone knew that they were coming, someone had prepared.

Silently Jer and Caden observed them from their hiding spot, a rifle and a pistol aimed at the bandits.

"Who did this?" yelled the man who'd stepped into the poison trap, he was still rubbing his eyes, half blinded by the tears in his eyes.

All five looked around from where they stood, but weren't keen to go any further, should more traps be set off.

"Let's go back, we can't do this today," said the first. And slowly one by one, they left the scene to head back to their cave.

When they were out of sight Jer high fived Caden with a big grin. "You go fetch the kid, I'll clean up this mess to make sure no one else gets hurt," he said.

Caden nodded and started on his way to fort Salma to find Allen again.

Allen was found at the gate of Fort Salma, waiting to move off. "Is it done?" he asked.

Caden nodded. "They're gone, for now at least."

Allen smiled widely. "How can I thank you?"

"Stay safe" Caden told him. "I'll escort you to until Claypool is in sight. After that, I must leave you."

"I'll give you a lift to Claypool then." Allen offered a hand to Caden.

"Thanks," Caden said, accepting the help and pulling himself on top of the cart.

Just about that time, coming speedily down from the direction of Shaemoor was a dark carriage and its four passengers. It headed under the long canopy of trees, through falling leaves and into the town of Claypool. When it neared the Mullins' place, it came to a halt, and its passengers disembarked.

A thunderous knocking came at the door of the Mullins' place. A knocking that did not stop.

"Come in," Molly shouted from the back, wiping her hands as she made her way towards the front of the shop. Something really bad must've happened for someone to be in such a hurry, she thought alarmed.

Robert Brown entered, with two men behind him. Both of whom were armed with pistols. One of the men had Selina slung over his shoulder, dangling limply like a sack of flour. "Well hello there madam," said Rob stepping in front of Molly. He had a gentleman's suit on, and a huge gem on his finger. It was clear that he was a man of privilege.

"He-" Molly replied, returning the greeting to the gentleman until she noticed one of the men was carrying a clearly injured woman. "By the six what happened" She exclaimed, instantly making her way over to the man who was carrying the woman.

Rob put a hand in front of Molly to stop her from going over to Selina. "That's not what we're here for. We're looking for Caden Mullins. Would it be too forward of me to assume that he's your son?"

Clearly disturbed by Rob's behaviour she took a step back. "I'm afraid he's not here" Molly said, growing concern showing on her face. "He left a few hours ago."

"Then I'm afraid we're staying till he returns." Rob pushed past her, stood at the counter where the Mullins would serve their customers, lifted his arm to the table and with a wide sweep, knocked everything onto the ground. The clatter and smashing of glass jars made a most unnerving cacophony of noises.

Molly yelped in shock and staggered back, still unsure of who the men were or why they were here she stood frozen in place for a few minutes.

"Put her here," Rob told the guy carrying Selina. The man walked over, flopped her onto the counter. She landed with a low growling moan as she moved to shield her right shoulder with a bloodied hand.

Suddenly realizing who the woman was Molly sprung into action and rushed over to the counter. "Oh Selina, dear child" she cried out, completely forgetting about Rob's unsettling presence. "What happened to you?" She asked, placing a hand on Sel's forehead as she got to her.

Selina looked out of one eye, the other had swollen up, and so had her lower lip. There was fear on her face. "Molly," she said as calmly as she could. "Just do as he says. I promise everything will be alright."

"You're burning up" Molly replied, ignoring the comment about Rob for now. As a herbalist, her concern for Selina's health took precedence now. And she started to search Selina for other injuries, realizing the bruises on her face would not cause such a fever.

Rob walked around the shop casually, occasionally picking up items to study them. "Nice little shop you have here," he complimented. Then he stopped to look at Molly, "Say madam, would there be anyone else in the house at this moment?"

"Everyone is out right now" Molly replied , still finding the man unnerving. She did not take her gaze off Selina however, and once she spotted the dried up blood on Selina's shoulder she started to undo her armor with nimble fingers.

Selina groaned as Molly meddled near the wound. She put a hand on Molly's wrist to have her slow down. "I've been shot," she said through clenched teeth. "The bullet's still in there."

Rob didn't believe the woman. He signaled one of the men to go into the house to check for inhabitants. The man did as he was told. As soon as he went out of view, they could hear the sounds of chairs being upturned, doors roughly swung open, and sounds of smashing.

As Selina spoke Molly's eyes grew and she nodded, taking her hands away from the armor she moved around the counter and opened one of the drawers behind it, taking out a small vial and pulled out the cork before handing it to Selina. She cringed every time a bang or a crash sounded in the background. "For the pain." She mouthed at Selina, afraid that Rob might interfere if she drew his attention.

Selina nodded discreetly. Rob was still touching items on the shelves, and his other man was looking out the window. She quickly downed the contents of the vial and handed it back to Molly.

Rob sighed loudly and turned around. "How long is this man going to take to get here?" he grumbled, sweeping another glass jar onto the ground. It smashed to pieces at his feet.

Deciding an answer would probably not appease the man anyway Molly wisely kept quiet. Instead she grabbed a mortar and pestle from one of the shelves and started to take several herbs from large jars. She added a small amount of water from a lidded jug and started to mix until it reached the consistency of a thick paste. Every so often she'd glance at Rob and his goon.

Selina was watching Rob as well. The moment he looked away, she touched Molly's hand to get her attention, and urged her to come closer.

As soon as she did, Molly leaned in closer.

Selina whispered. "There's a blade hidden in the sole of my boot. You have to tap on the side to get it out. Can you hand it to me?"

Too shocked to even consider it strange Molly nodded and glanced at Rob again, making sure his back was still turned. When she was certain she moved quickly and tapped be side of Selina's boot like she'd said. As soon as she did a knife slid out. After another glance at Rob she let the blade slide into the pocket of her apron before moving back to her previous position.

The man who had been ransacking the rest of the house returned, and Rob turned to him. "Nobody in the home," the man said, and walked over to where Selina and Molly were.

Rob swung his arm idly for a moment, then decidedly looked at Molly. "If your son isn't here, then maybe you, madam, can answer a few questions." He walked over, and looked at her squarely in the eyes. "How long has this skank been living at your home?" he said, referring to Selina.

Fearful Molly glanced at Selina. "She hasn't lived here sir." Molly replied after gathering her courage for a few seconds.

"But you've talked, haven't you?" asked Rob, even while he didn't wait to hear her response. "What has she told you? Did she tell you what she was up to before she got here?"

"We've only spoke a couple of times," Molly told him. "Mainly of Divinity's Reach and Claypool."

Seeing the apprehension in Molly's face, Selina protested, "She knows nothing. Leave her out of it, Rob."

"Be quiet Sel," Rob snapped back. "You talk when I say you talk, not before or after."

Just as she said that, the backdoor opened and Caden stood frozen in place when he discovered a ransacked kitchen.

Molly paled when she spotted Caden standing in the doorway. So far she had managed to get by, but the fear for her son was overwhelming. These men clearly had come for him and they obviously had nothing good in mind either, considering the state Selina was in.

Rob heard the back door open. Immediately he signaled his men to check it out. The two men headed towards the kitchen.

When the men were distracted by the door opening Molly stealthily slipped the blade from her pocket into Selina's hand, before looking towards the backdoor herself.

As soon as the men noticed Caden at the door, they dashed towards him. As two strange men entered the kitchen Caden immediately pulled the pistol that was still hanging from his belt, taking aim at the nearest one. The men saw him take aim, and the nearest one took a lunge forward, grabbing the front of pistol, turning it towards the ceiling. The other one took a hold of him from behind.

Cursing loudly Caden kicked back hard, hitting the one holding him in the shins.

Selina had the blade neatly tucked under her palm when all the commotion only led her to believe that Caden had returned. "Caden!" she yelled.

The one who was hit loosened his grip for a moment, while the one in front took a firmer grip of the pistol and snatched it completely out of his hand. Robert walked over then, witnessing Caden struggle to get away from the two men. A grin spread over his face. "So the elusive Caden Mullins is finally here," he said.

Hearing Selina yell only caused Caden to fight harder and in one smooth motion he drew his sword, taking a swing at the hand that was holding his pistol. When he heard Rob talking he realized instantly what was going on, it did not cause him to pause however.

The man who was holding his pistol dropped it as soon as the blade cut into his flesh. The one behind recovered and swung a fist at Caden's lower back. Rob watched on with disdain. He pulled out his own pistol.

Caden stumbled forward and swung his sword backward, aiming for the man behind him now as he made a half turn. The man dodged the blow by just inches.

Rob took two steps backward, aimed the pistol towards Selina and said, "If you don't wish to have your lover's brains blown all over this counter, I suggest you stop fighting, and take a seat. Let's talk like men."

Upon Rob's threat Caden instantly froze. In his mind he went through the possibilities, but he failed to find one with guaranteed result and in the end he re-sheathed his sword.

"Good boy," said Rob, pointing at the kitchen table. "Now take a seat."
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 10:10:24 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #129 on: August 03, 2017, 01:32:47 PM »
The moment Caden sat down, Robert asked his two men to bring rope and to remove Caden's weapons. The man with the cut hand looked at Caden gruffly as he bandaged up his wound with cloth, before picking up the rope meant for Caden.

Caden paid very little attention to Rob's goons, instead he gave Rob an angry stare. Molly meanwhile picked up her mortar and pestle again and with shaking hands she continued working on the paste while continuously glancing into the kitchen.

Rob sat himself down opposite Caden and glared smugly at him as his sword was unshealthed and removed, while his arms were tugged, a little more roughly than required to get them tied behind the chair he was seated on. "So... she went with a boy..." commented Rob, studying him closely. "In a more shabby environment than I would've guessed."

Selina struggled to see what was going on, but all that was visible to her was a sliver of the scene between the two men. Molly's painkiller was beginning to take effect, and she was feeling well enough to lift herself up a little bit to get a better view of things.

Caden made no effort to reply, though behind his back he carefully tested the rope that secured his arms

The goon made one final tug on the rope before leaving Caden's side.

"One of you, patrol the area. Make sure no one comes in undetected," Rob instructed the one with the injured hand. "The other one, stay with me. Make sure this one doesn't run." The other man took his position next to Rob, removing his pistol and pointing it at Caden. When all had been settled, Rob leaned forward. "Listen, Caden Mullins. I want you to be entirely honest with me. I can sniff a lie, and if I think that you're lying, then any of your two sweethearts is going to suffer the repercussions. Are we clear?"

He nodded grudgingly.

"How long have you known Sellie?"

"Probably a year now? I'm not entirely sure"

"And through that time, what has she said about me?"

"She told me you two have history together. Before she went to Lion's Arch to find you after you visited Aidan she said she had to because you knew she was alive."

Rob nodded. "And she was with me for about two weeks. Did she tell you what happened during that time?"

"We spoke very little after I came to fetch her in Lion's Arch. Her activities there were not discussed'

"Speaking of your collection of her... didn't she tell you that she would be returning to my place after whatever she needed to do for her brother? How has she been in Claypool all this time?"

"After her brother left I invited her over."

Anger swept over his face. "So you knew she had to return, and yet you intentionally lured her in a different direction."

"I invited her to visit.  The choice was up to her. I do not make a habit of pressuring people to do one thing or another."

Rob gestured to the man next to him. "Another glib tongue, you know what we do to people who think they're being smart." The man nodded and walked over to Caden, then put a hand around the back of his neck. "Let's try that again, because it sounds like the two of you were trying to disappear - and perhaps you were the motivator. Why did you get Selina Knox to come to Claypool?"

He did not even flinch when the man put a hand around his neck. "We'd spoken of my childhood and the place I grew up. She seemed out of sorts and I invited her because I thought visiting here might cheer her up a little."

Rob drummed his fingers on the table and turned to the man standing behind Caden. "Go fetch her here."

The man took his hand off Caden's neck and went instead into the shop. Instinctively, Selina attempted to back off from the man, but with a large scoop, he lifted her up easily, carried her into the kitchen, pulled out a seat between Rob and Caden with the ball of his foot, and set her down there.

While Selina was being moved, she took extra care to hide the blade in her sleeve. And when she was placed on the seat, she put her hand on her lap and turned to Caden with tearful eyes. "I'm sorry," she said, over and over again.

For the first time able to see Selina properly he was shocked to learn the extent of her injuries. Feeling very protective of her he desperately wanted to sooth her, and tell her it didn't matter, that things would turn out alright. But Rob seemed too unpredictable to risk it. It would probably anger him further and he kept quiet.

Rob turned to Selina. "Maybe you can furnish this a little bit more. Whose idea was it to leave me in the lurch, while the two of you went gallivanting away?"

"It was me, all me," Selina said desperately. "Caden had nothing to do with it."

Rob leaned over and grabbed a bunch of her hair, pulling her head towards him. "Tell me why?!" he demanded angrily.

"I have no good answer for you," she replied honestly. "I was just following my heart."

Caden did his best to remain calm, but witnessing Rob's treatment of Selina slowly started to nibble at his resolve. He shifted in his chair, testing his restraints again with anger in his eyes.

"Was it your heart that told you to spy on me?" With a firm swing, he slammed her face onto the table. "Did you think you could betray me so deeply and still get away with it?" He lifted her face up briefly then slammed it onto the table again.

That was more than Caden could take and as soon as Selina was sitting up again he shoved his chair back a bit, kicking as hard into the side of the table as he could, causing it crash into Rob hard.

Having never witnessed such violence Molly yelped and sank to her knees, her hands covering her mouth

Taken by surprise, Rob let go of his grip, glaring at Caden in anger.

"Caden..." Selina said drowsily, reaching over towards him with one arm.

Unable to reach out to her Caden only gave Selina a sad look before turning his attention back on Rob.

Rob motioned for his man to ruffle Caden up a bit. The man nodded, and began putting on his copper knucklebands.

"Caden..." Selina called to him again, her gaze beginning to refocus. "Please lean over and let me give you a hug."

Shoving his chair in Selina's direction he leaned over before Rob's man was done with his knucklebands.

As soon as he was within reach, she quickly slipped her hand over his head, dislodged the blade and sent it down the back of his shirt. "I love you..." she whispered.

Rob's man was already walking over when Selina turned around, and with all the strength left in her body, left her seat and threw herself at the goon. He caught her, and stumbled backwards. A little unsure of what to do with her, he turned to Rob.

"She's just trying to slow you down," he stood up too. "Give her to me. I want her to watch this."

Catching the blade with his hand Caden took a tight grip and used it to cut away at the ropes. The angle was awkward though, and he ended up cutting into his arm a couple of times while rushing to get rid of his ropes . Meanwhile he got up from his chair keeping his back to Rob and his goon, slowly backing up while he worked on the ropes.

The man flipped her around and put her on Rob's chair as Rob got behind her and put his arms on her shoulders. "You won't want to miss a thing," Rob said gleefully, whispering into her ear.

"You make me regret the day I ever cared enough to save your life," she said spitefully.

"Well, you make me regret the day I ever took you in. We can say that we're even," he replied.

The goon came in close, and plummeted a fist into Caden's middle.

Caden gasped for air and focused on holding on to the knife. He backed away a bit further to recover before kicking the man in the knees hard while pulling at the ropes that remained on his arms to get rid of them. As soon as they fell to the floor he brought his arms forward, switching the blade to his other hand he leapt at the goon, attempting to plunge the blade into his unprotected neck.

Meanwhile Molly forced herself back on her feet and snuck to the front of the shop.

The goon was not expecting Caden to have his hands freed, he grasped at Caden, attempting to push him away.

Rob straightened out. This wasn't how he'd expected the fight to go.

The goon's grasping pushed off Caden's aim, causing the blade to slice into his shoulder. Not letting up Caden swung the dagger for another attempt.

Careful as she could Molly peered through the window in the front of the shop to see if she could spot the second goon.

Desperate, the goon fighting with Caden swung a fist at his chin as he began backing off.

The second man was patrolling the exterior, watching the lane that led towards the front of the house, unaware of the fight that was going on within.

While Rob and the goon was distracted by the fight, Selina noticed that Rob had a medal of some sort, pinned to his trousers, just beneath his belt. The medal piece had a sharp edge.

Hit hard in the chin Caden backed away a while, creating some distance between him and the goon. His eyes searched the room to spot his gun.

The goon had a hand on his injured shoulder as he circled Caden, his other hand raised at the height of his eye, ready to strike. With a jab, he sent a fist towards Caden's face.

Caden ducked under the man's arm and stepped forward, avoiding the fist while slicing his knife at the man's ribs as he passed. Immediately turning to face the man again from his new position.

The man yelled in surprise as the blade sliced into his ribs. He backed off completely as Rob moved to grab his pistol. Selina took the opportunity to snatch the medal from Rob, and with a hard stab, cut through his trousers into his upper thigh and drew blood. Rob flashed his attention on Selina and the medal, sticking out of his leg. Infuriated, he grabbed the medal and tossed it on the ground. Then looked at her with fuming eyes. She stared back with equal fierceness, unafraid of him. "Slut!" he yelled as he wrapped his hands around her throat.

Seeing his opportunity Caden flipped the knife around in his hand, throwing it aimed at the goons chest before diving towards Rob's pistol while he was distracted by Selina.

The goon took it to the chest, collapsing into the ground with a loud cry. The other goon was alerted to the scuffle, and began running back to the house. Rob's hands closed in on Selina's throat as she gripped onto one of his hands, pulling as hard as she could. He turned her back to the table, and she slid off her seat, kicking her feet in futility.

Caden grabbed the gun with both hands and raised it, aiming at Rob. However with him holding Selina he was not confident enough to fire straight away. "Let her go." He growled at Rob.

Seeing the goon run back towards the house Molly hid in a corner, hoping they had forgotten about her.

Rob was so engrossed in venting his anger on Selina that when he heard Caden speak, he snapped out of his dark thoughts and looked up. His eyes also drifted to where the other goon was, collapsed and dying if not dead. His fingers were still around Selina's throat, reluctant to leave till the deed had been done. The second goon burst into the house, didn't see Molly and instead, ran to where Rob was. Realising Rob had a gun to him, the goon froze, especially when he realised what had happened to the other man who'd been in the room.

As soon as the second goon entered the kitchen Molly dashed from her spot and started to run straight in the direction of the Seraph training grounds.

"Don't you dare move a muscle" Caden yelled at the new arrival while continuing to aim at Rob.

After some hesitance, Rob finally let go of Selina's throat. She gasped for air and slipped to the ground. He looked down to gauge the damage on his thigh. It wasn't a wide cut but it seemed moderately deep. Taking in a breath, he collected saliva in his mouth and spit at Selina. "Fine. You want to play it this way," he said, turning to Caden. "You can keep the skank. But if anything ever is set loose that endangers my business, and everything else that I've worked so hard to build, then remember this..." He pointed a finger threateningly at Caden, a smug smile forming on his face. "I know where you and your family live. And... heh... accidents happen every day. You'll never know what can happen here." As he backed up to a rack of shelves, picked up a vial, held it in front of his face and casually dropped it, causing it to smash like so many of the other items he had broken. "Oops!" he said with a shrug, though he'd meant that as a threat.

Too angry to just let Rob leave Caden fired the pistol, his aim having never left Rob.

Halfway on her way to the Seraph Molly ran into Jeremy, grabbing his arm with both hands. "Jer, it's Caden and Selina" She cried out. "They're being held by men with guns in the kitchen" Just as she finished they both heard a gunshot coming from the direction of the Mullinses house.

Rob staggered back a few steps, having taken the shot to the chest. Selina's eyes widened as she watched the scene. But after a few moments, Rob straightened up again - apparently unhurt. He laughed. "That's the difference between a pathetic pauper like yourself, and someone of station like myself. Oh the amazing things that gold can buy." With two quick raps on his chest, they resounded in a shell-like metallic fashion. He turned to Selina. "And that's precisely what you have lost." Without another word, he waved the one remaining goon to head out the door, and in no time, both departed, shutting the door behind them.

Jer wasted no time and started to run towards the house immediately, Molly not far behind him, though more hesitant.

Rumbling down the path was a dark carriage and two passengers. By the speed it was at, it nearly mowed down Jer and Molly.

"That's them" Molly shouted at Jeremy, who only dodged out of the way of the carriage and kept running towards the house.

Realising that the danger was then over, Selina slid back to the ground. Her body was crying in pain at so many parts she didn't even know where to start. She was just glad that it was over.

Inside the house Caden dropped the pistol on the table and rushed over to Selina. He knelt next to her and carefully took her hand. "Sel?" He asked his heart beating in this throat still.

She nodded to show him that she was alright, but her bruised throat prevented her from speaking. She just squeezed his hand to show him how glad she was that he had survived the ordeal.

"Shhh" He said, carefully stroking her hair. "Ma?" He called into the shop, unsure of where she was." When no answer came he started to become concerned, though he had no reason to believe Rob's man touched her. Keeping his focus on Selina he got back on his feet. "I'm taking you upstairs so we can see to your injuries. I'm sorry Sel, this is probably going to hurt" He said, before picking her up as gently as he could.

She winced but clung tightly to him, trusting that he would take care of her.

Making sure he had a proper hold of her he carefully lifted her up. Just as he was about to take her upstairs Jeremy burst in through the backdoor, Molly following behind him.

Selina's heart sank as she recalled what Molly had to go through. The Mullinses' place was trashed, with bits of glass and clay littered all over the ground. All this just wouldn't have happened had she not been there at all.

"A-are they gone?" Molly asked, while Jeremy moved inside, turning over the goon still lying on the floor.

Caden nodded. "Mum I'm taking Sel upstairs, would you please look after her, she's doing very poorly" Molly nodded slowly overcoming her shock.

"Fetch your father and gran, I'll need them. Meri is at the market, I presume your father is too, he said something about replacing some tools"

Nodding again Caden started to walk upstairs to his room, where he carefully placed Selina down on the bed. Molly was right behind him, already carrying some supplies. "I'll be back as soon as I can" He told Selina, stroking her hair once more.

When he arrived back downstairs Jer got back to his feet and looked at Caden. "This one is dead" He stated. "What in Grenth's name did you get yourself mixed up in, man?"

"Later" Caden said, before rushing out the door to find Meri and Ethan.

The more Selina thought about the devastation that Rob and his goons had brought to the Mullins, the more she began to reconsider her place in Claypool. Like a whirlwind leaving chaos in its wake, she wasn't much different. Her dreams of living a simple, peaceful life with Caden were shattered like the shards littered all over the store. She had always known that, but for a while, she'd let herself dream. And she had gotten lost in the dream. Her heart broke, and it hurt worse than the wounds on her body.

"Jer, get me a bowl of clean, cold water" Molly called downstairs. When no immediately answer came she called again. "Quickly lad, get a move on"

"Ah yes, sorry Mrs Mullins" Jeremy replied and stopped staring at the dead man. He took a clean bowl off a shelf and filled it with water, carefully taking it upstairs.

Selina turned to Molly. She was glad the lady wasn't physically hurt, but she was sure that the shock would take a while to fade off.

When Jeremy placed the bowl next to her Molly dunked in several clean pieces of cloth to let them soak. Taking one out she wrung out most of the water and folded it over a couple of times, placing it on one of the bruises on Selina's face. She continued with the rest of the pieces, hoping the cold water would bring Selina some immediate relief. "There's a mortar and pestle on the counter, I'll need that too" She told Jeremy.

When most of Sel's face was covered with cold cloths she moved to carefully remove the armor covering her shoulder to expose the wound there. She was very worried for the girl who indeed looked very poorly. But at least helping her was something she knew how to do and she put her shock aside, focusing on the task at hand.

She carefully inspected the gunshot wound, it seemed to be older than the bruises and would need treatment as soon as possible. She set about starting to clean the wound, she'd need Meri's help to remove the bullet however.

The painkillers helped with the pain as Molly cleaned the wound, but there were moments when the pain still cut through and Selina shuddered. She was still very thankful to be in good hands. After a whole day of running around with that wound, someone was finally attending to it.

It was not long before Jeremy returned with the mortar and pestle, with the paste that Molly had already prepared. "Thank you" Molly told him. "Please go and tell your captain about the dead body in the kitchen and make sure everything is handled properly." Jeremy frowned "I don't even know what happened Mrs Mullins what am I to say." Molly gave him a stern look. "Questions can wait, I want that body out of my house, now." She said.

Selina touched the cloths on her face and moved them away from her eyes and mouth. "This is all my fault," she croaked regretfully. "I'm so sorry for everything Molly."

"Hush child, only concern yourself with getting better. The rest will be dealt with. Jars and herbs can be replaced and fear can be overcome. You're more important right now" She told Selina while she finished cleaning the gunshot wound. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to wrap up most of your face girl, but the paste I made should help a lot with the swelling." She started to take off the cloths on Selina's face one by one, placing a gauze with some of the herb paste on each bruise. The paste felt cooling, and numbing to a degree while Molly did her best to apply it carefully.

Selina let herself relax, and soon, she faded off to sleep.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #130 on: August 12, 2017, 12:55:14 PM »
Word of the attack had gotten around quickly around Claypool. Medicha shut her business for three days in order to spend time with Mrs Mullins. Several friends had popped by once on the first day, shocked to see Caden's bandaged up hands, and even more to hear of what had happened. While they were there, they also asked to see Selina, but Caden wouldn't have it, not at least till she was better. The Murrays baked a pie, but didn't stay for long. Other friends of Ethan's, Molly and Meri's came at staggered hours of the day to check on their well being, although Ethan and Meri had mercifully been spared the entire ordeal. Some helped with the clean up, and a handful left coins behind to contribute to the restoration of the shop. The herbs and portions though... would all have to be re-gathered.

In spite of his own injuries, Caden had meticulously fed Selina every meal and wiped off every bead of sweat till the fever broke, leaving her side only once to speak to the Seraphs in regards to the case. He'd intended to continue doing as he had, but there were things that the family needed help with about the house. And Trish, who'd been the only one aside from Medicha to be at the Mullins household each day since the accident, had been badgering him to let her see Selina. At the same time, Selina had insisted she was well enough to meet her. He knew he couldn't keep the two women apart - even though it worried him that Trish would upset Selina as before. But he found himself with little choice then but to let Trish in and depart himself.

"Oh Selina..." gasped Trish the moment she laid her eyes on Selina's discolored face, and arm wrapped in a sling. Since the day she'd witnessed Selina perform those amazing feats against the bandits in her home, she'd been certain that there wasn't anything this woman couldn't do - and that perhaps there could be no one in Tyria, capable of harming her. But seeing her then, as broken as she was, she realised that Selina was indeed as mortal as the rest of them.

Seeing the fear on her face, Selina reached out a hand to her. "Don't be frightened Trish. I swear it looks worse than it feels." She motioned to the seat next to the bed. "Come sit here with me. Having you seated will make me feel better," she coaxed.

Slowly, Trish moved to the bedside and took the seat. "I feel terrible that this happened to you, Selina," she said softly.

Selina smiled and shook her head. "You've had nothing to do with it."

"But you've been kind to my family, and to Allen's. You're a hero in our eyes," she gushed. "It couldn't have happened to a better person."

Selina laughed quietly. She'd never been described by such pretty words, it all felt alien to her. "Trish, trust me when I say I'm far from being a hero. This..." she motioned towards the black circle encapsulating the flesh around her reddened eye. "Came from doing something very selfish. And it almost cost the Mullinses everything."

Trish shook her face, certain of her opinion of Selina. "I've heard a different story. You're very brave to go through what you did."

The expression on Selina's face shifted to curiosity. "Trish, do you mind repeating to me what you've been told?"

Trish rattled on, unaware that Selina was getting uneasy. "An abusive ex of yours tried to take you back by force. He's upset that you're now with Caden."

"Caden told you this?"

"Well... sorta. I overheard what he said to the Seraph captain."

"Were any names mentioned?"

"I heard mention of someone named Rob? My guess is that's the name of the man who attacked you." There was concern on Selina's face, enough for Trish to worry. "What's wrong, Selina?"

"I've spent too much time in bed," she declared.

"But it's just two days after.." Trish said. Selina was already attempting to shift her weight off the bed with the strength in just one arm, however the injury in her shoulder had not entirely healed, and the pain prevented her from getting more than one leg off the bed. "If there's a message you'd like me to pass to Caden, I'd be pleased to," Trish suggested.

"It's too late..." mumbled Selina regretfully, her face pressed against the pillow. She was already beginning to perspire.

Gently, Trish moved her back onto the bed, and pulled up the sheets. "What is too late?"

Selina looked at her. "Trish, you don't know much about me, but trust me when I say that I have a lot of darkness in my background."

The rancher reflected on the fight that had taken place in her home, and that made her unsurprised by Selina's confession. "I figured that. Regular towns-girls wouldn't be able to do what you do."

She nodded. "That's why I didn't want to get involved in Allen's business... nor yours, for that matter. Because I don't want to get my old life mixed up with the new one that I've been spending here. I just fear that the two sides will collide, and people will be hurt."

"I was wrong to point Allen out to you," Trish said after a while, bowing her face.

Selina put a hand on her arm. And the moment Trish looked up, she flashed a smile at her. "I'm kinda glad that you did so anyway. I didn't realise how much trouble Allen was in, and it felt really rewarding to help the Murrays."

Trish returned a sheepish smile. "I figured you were the one who returned the steel to their home."

Selina squeezed her arm. "I think it worked out well. Beyond that though, there are dangers outside of this town that are quite beyond my capability to contain," she said as she rubbed the bruises still clearly visible, wrapped in discolored lines around her throat. "I've been trying my best to keep a low profile in Claypool, and I need your help to do so and to pass word to the rest of your family about this."

"Trust me, I've learnt my lesson. Dad and Trinity know what you've been through. I doubt they'd think to say anything to anyone," Trish gave pause, then a worry line creased her forehead. "There's just one thing you should probably know. Four days ago, I bumped into Jake - he used to be one of Caden's closest friends."

The one that ran away with the bandits. Selina remembered his name well. She nodded and prompted Trish to continue.

"Perhaps the word 'bumped' isn't right here. I'm pretty sure he was intentionally looking for both me and my sister. He certainly wasn't there for friendship or business - instead, he warned me to 'give up the scarfed woman or something bad would happen to us'."

Selina was startled by the news. "How does he think that you know who I am? You were as shocked to see me on the day I appeared."

"That's what I told him; that we weren't expecting a scarfed woman, wearing our stolen items no less, swooping in from nowhere to save us. I told him we hadn't a clue who you were."

"Did he believe you?"

"I think he did. Even though he did say that if they found out we knew something and didn't tell, we'd be in deep trouble. Honestly though, I don't think Jake has a clue."

Selina let out a breath she'd been holding. For a while, the two women sat in silence till Selina finally said, "I've come to really like Claypool, but perhaps I've worn out its welcome."

"Don't say that Selina," Trish exclaimed. "We're just getting to know you, and we think Caden and you would make a terrific addition to the town. Perhaps the bandits will back off if they don't find anything - and if we don't keep asking you for help, they won't be finding anything."

"That's my hope. Tho Caden's family is here..."

"They are! All the more reason for the both of you to stay."

"Actually, I see it as it being one more reason not to stay. It would've killed me if Molly had gotten hurt. And thank the gods that Meri and Ethan weren't around at all."

"You'd leave to protect them," Trish concluded.

"I'd do that in a heartbeat. They are important to Caden, so they are important to me. I'd do anything to keep them safe."

"As long as they understand the reasons for your leaving. They'd been so keen on having Caden stay for good this time."

A frown pressed onto Selina's lips. "Caden knew them first," she muttered to herself.

"What did you say Sel..."

"Trish, thank you so much for visiting," Selina cut in. "And for hanging around. But I am getting a little tired right now. Would you mind giving me a little privacy?"

Trish stood up, suddenly bashful about having taken up Selina's time. "Of course not! I don't want to intrude. Have a nice rest Selina." The rancher quickly backed her way out of the room, and shut the door quietly behind her.

For the next few days, Caden noticed that Selina was sleeping more than before, and that she was behaving colder and colder towards him. Intially he'd attributed it to her still hurting and needing time to recover - but it soon became apparent that a wall had come down between them, and he couldn't understand why.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #131 on: August 12, 2017, 12:59:43 PM »
It had taken a few more days of recovery before Selina was finally strong enough to get up on her own. Unfortunately, that also meant having to deal with something she'd been dreading. Alone in Caden's room, she pressed her ear to the door, trying to discern the voices outside.

"Let me go in first," Caden said to Jeremy's captain. "I'll see if she's awake and well enough to see you." The captain gave him a curt nod as Selina hurried back to the bed, pretending that she hadn't bothered to move at all. Caden opened the door to enter the room and made sure to close it behind him before walking over to her bed. "You're up" He said softly, taking her hand as he sat down on the chair next to her bed.

She looked away the moment he touched her hand, and she retracted her own hand as she nodded. "The Seraph are out there, aren't they?"

"Sel," He moved his hand to her face and cupped the side of it. "Don't look away from me. No matter what happened, I love you and I always will," He looked at her intently.

She reached up and took his hand away, turning to look into his eyes. "I know that you do," she said softly.

"Then don't shut me out" He said, taking her hand again.

She squeezed his hand and looked down in resignation. "I'm ready to speak to the Seraphs, please send them in."

He nodded. "I only told them Rob was your ex and came here out of revenge" He whispered before getting up from his chair, regretfully letting go of her hand.

"They will ask more questions," she said. "Questions I can't answer."

"You'll do fine, love," He told her, before walking to the door, looking at her for final confirmation before he opened it.

She looked at him, and nodded.

The captain thanked Caden and walked into the room, finding a somber Selina seated in it. "Hello, Miss Knox." She didn't respond. He pulled a chair and sat down beside her.

Jeremy followed the captain into the room, giving Caden a quick glance.

Hoping he'd be allowed to stay Caden loitered by the door.

"It is good to see you doing much better," the captain said, attempting to break the ice. "From what I've heard, that assault you endured was violently shocking, we can only be thankful that you survived. I hope then you will be motivated to help us put away the people who hurt you."

Selina looked up at the seraph captain for the first time. There was a fight in her eyes. "You've heard that I'd been shot."

"Yes, we are studying the bullet right now."

"You'll find that it belongs to the Vanguard," she said.

The captain was shocked at the revelation. Till that point in time, all he'd heard of was an assault driven by Selina Knox's ex-boyfriend, who clearly was not Vanguard. "I'm sorry?" he said.

"It was the Vanguard that shot me," she repeated.

The captain continued, "I'm surprised to hear the Vanguard was involved. Can I ask why they shot you?"

"I met with Capt Diana of the Vanguard. When she intended to hold me for questioning, I smashed her window to get away. One of her men shot at me. If this seems far-fetched, send a bird. They will confirm my story."

Casting a quick glance at Caden to see if he looked like he knew anything about this, the captain continued, "Perhaps I should be asking what was the case that Capt Diana was working on that started this whole... mishap."

"Capt Diana was searching for the person who had damaged two of her fingers. She called me in for questioning, and after a series of interrogations, realised that I was the culprit. Therefore she attempted to hold me in Ebonhawke to prove my crimes, but I wouldn't have it."

"Sel.." Caden stared at her.

"So you're claiming to be a fugitive of the Vanguard then?" asked the capt, not really buying the story.

"I am a fugitive. And that dead man you found in the kitchen, he was my accomplice. I paid him to threaten and frighten the Mullinses."

"May I ask why?" The tale was getting more and more outlandish.

"Because they wanted me to stay in Claypool. And when I say that, I mean obsessively. But I don't belong here, nor do I want to be. I intended to scare them so they would be more guarded against taking in strangers, and they would let me go."

Caden felt the blood drain from his face. "Sel, you can't do this, please" He said.

She glanced at him, and quickly looked away. "Don't be fooling yourself Caden. What we had was a fling. You can't keep clinging to me. I will continue to hurt your family if you don't give me up."

"Then leave, if you must, but don't put yourself in more trouble than you are by telling lies. None of this was your fault and you know it damned well." He snapped before leaving the room, letting the door slam shut behind him.

She flinched at the slamming of the door, her expression contorted in a mixture of agony and resolution.

"You're not making sense Miss Knox," insisted the captain, still not buying any of her story. "How do you explain the swellings on your face and around your neck, consistent with violent abuse?"

"I had my accomplice do all that to me before Mr Mullins stabbed him in the ribs. I wanted to give the appearance of assault, so I would seem innocent of my crimes."

"And yet you're telling us all this now..."

"Because my conscience has finally prodded me to come forth with the truth, and I want to shed myself of the guilt of my crimes,"  she said. There was a distant look in her eyes.

Once in the hallway Caden slammed his fist into the wall hard as he cursed loudly.

The captain mumbled to himself, took out his notepad and looked it over. "Robert Brown, is that name familiar to you?"

"Yes, he's an old friend of mine."

"Was he in Claypool on the day you were attacked?"

"No. He wouldn't come here, it's beneath him."

The captain ran his fingers through his hair. He'd never encountered a case as odd as this before, and he wasn't quite sure what he'd do with the account of this witness. After sometime, he pointed to Jeremy. "My associate and Mrs Mullins were witness to a dark carriage, racing off from this very house. Mrs Mullins places Robert Brown in that carriage, and in this house where she claims he smashed many of her jars and hurt both you and Caden. Is that true?"

"She's lying," Selina replied.

"And you're not?"

"I am not."

After cooling down for a several moments Caden pulled open the door again and gave Selina a piercing look. "You will not take the fall for Rob, you will explain exactly what he's done instead of lying or you will hurt both of us. Because if you don't I swear to Grenth's name, I'll go after him myself. You hear me Sel? You have all of five minutes before I'm out of the house." He said, grabbing his bag and shooting her a dark look again.

Her expression changed suddenly. Her eyes opened wide and she stood up from the bed. "Will you come in here, please?"

"One more lie and I'm out" He said, stepping into the room but leaving the door open and keeping the pack on his back.

Selina quickly crossed the room to the door and shut it, standing with her back against the door so he wouldn't be able to move it without carrying her away first. "You'll endanger your entire family with your loose tongue," she chided, though it sounded like more of a plea than something that came out of anger.

He looked at her intently but said nothing.

"You mustn't leave...." She had the appearance of a frightened child, looking desperately into his eyes.

"You know it's up to you." He said, refusing to give in to her pleas.

"What's going on here?" asked the captain, a little confused as to the back and forth exchange.

"I shan't say more then," Selina replied, reluctant to retract what she'd said before. "But do send a bird to Capt Diana of the Vanguard. You will see the bullet is a perfect match."

"I'm sure Captain Diana will be perfectly happy to oblige with an explanation about what happened exactly." Caden said, not taking his eyes off Selina.

Selina frowned, still unwilling to leave the door should Caden run out. She didn't know what he was trying to accomplish. Surely he'd heard Rob's threat, and yet had taken it so lightly. She wasn't sure if he was intentionally trying to start a war, or if he was that ignorant of the troubles that might follow.

She turned to the capt. "I'm sorry, can I have just a moment alone to speak to Caden?"

The captain cleared his throat, realising that his jaw had fallen open in his attempt to figure out why their stories did not gel. Typically, he would not give a suspect any time alone, but he wasn't sure what to classify Selina Knox as. Instead, he shrugged and said, "Sure. Come Jeremy, let's give them some time alone."

"Aye captn" Jer said, hopping to attention and opening the door. Once both had left the room Jeremy closed the door behind them.

Selina moved aside just long enough for the capt and Jeremy to leave before moving back to seal the exit with her body. She looked at Caden intently, before she finally spoke. "You have to let me do this, Caden. The seraph will drop the case, and your family will be safe. If they find nothing on me, it'll be a wild goose chase and I will be let out as well."

"I refuse to let you implicate yourself in any way Sel" He answered quietly.

"And I'm not letting you march to your death. So where does this leave us?" she asked.

"We'll have to work that out" He said, "But we'll work that out together, you're not in this alone, Sel."

"The captain is just outside..." she said, taking a step towards him. "He's looking for a story."

"You should've just gone along with what he thought was true."

"You shouldn't have gotten the capt to write down Rob's name. If you find a way for him to remove it, then I'll go along with whatever you want."

"What if we just tell them Rob was after you, things got violent but we do not wish them to pursue Rob?"

"Get them to drop a case? Would that actually work?"

"I might be able to persuade them if you convince them that you came up with the outlandish tales for fear of retaliation from Rob. The Seraph are thin spread as it is. They may drop the case if they realize one criminal is already dealt with. If need be we'll call on Diana to back us up."

She took another step towards him and nodded. "You scared me," she said softly.

He carefully embraced her, trying to avoid touching her arm or hurt shoulder, and kissed her brow. "I'm sorry" he whispered. "I did not know how else to get you to stop."

"I didn't mean what I said about.. you... and me," she said, wrapping an arm around him.

He gently cupped her face with one hand while still holding her against him and kissed her lips. "I know," he said as he pulled away and looked at her.

She leaned in and kissed him on her own, then stopped to whisper. "Now I don't want the captain to come back." She grinned naughtily.

"They'll leave again" he said, brushing the hair out of her face and stealing another kiss before letting go of her. "Now, let's get this over with shall we?"

"Alright," she replied, patting him on his chest. "If anything goes awry, you're to blame." She smiled in spite of her threat.

"Aye, I'll take full responsibility" he said finding some of his humor back and producing a crooked grin. "I'll subject myself to any punishment you see fit after they leave"

She grinned widely as she moved towards the door. "I might punish you regardless then..." Turning the knob, she found the captain and Jeremy in the hallway. They took the cue and returned to the room.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #132 on: August 12, 2017, 01:00:27 PM »
"So," said the captain. "Are we a little more certain what the story is?"

Selina looked at Caden. "Erm... yeah. I'd like to apologise for my untruths. See... the thing is we're being threatened. If the investigation goes any deeper, Caden's family might be in danger. So I thought to protect the names of those who assaulted us in order to keep the Mullinses safe. I hope you understand."

The captain turned to Caden, "Is this true?"

Caden nodded. "Rob threatened to come after me and my family if Selina stayed here. I've discussed it with my parents though, we don't want to press charges. He seemed to mainly be out to coerce Selina to return. He'll probably cool down once he's realized what he's done."

"By the degree of damages caused, it seems to be a rather extreme way of coercing someone to return." The capt looked at Selina, "Has he done this before?"

"He's been abusive in the past," she admitted. "Sometimes he's very nice, and sometimes he's completely unhinged. It's hard to tell with him."

The capt wrote all this down on his notepad. "Seems like someone we should be paying a visit to. We don't know if he's going to turn his aggression onto some other poor soul."

"You can't," Selina snapped. The capt looked at her. "That is to say... he's in Lion's Arch and that's not within seraph jurisdiction. Surely there'll be too much red tape to be worth the effort? After all, if we aren't pressing charges."

"So you're just going to let him off? After what he's done to the both of you." He spoke directly to Selina, "And if he's done this to you before..."

"We'd rather just leave this behind us as soon as possible and rebuild our lives than see him to justice." Caden said, wrapping an arm around Selina. "She's been through enough already."

The capt nodded, but there was one more thing he wanted to know. "So if her story now aligns with yours, where does the Vanguard come in? Or was that an untruth too?"

"That was actually the truth," said Selina. "But I don't know if I'm a fugitive. I did smash a window on my way out."

"Then who was the one who attacked Capt Diana?"

"Someone that I know. For the same reasons, I'm not going to provide any names because I don't want any repercussions on this family."

The capt shut his notebook. "You should probably go and explain though. You can dismiss crimes against yourselves, but if this was done to a Vanguard, and a captain of the Vanguard no doubt, then they should deserve an explanation at least."

"That will be no problem, after she's healed, Selina will go and explain herself," Caden said.

"Tell me again why the Vanguard shot at you?"

"Capt Diana wanted me to help her with the case involving her own assault, but I needed to leave quickly to settle Rob. At the time I had not known that he'd derived information about Caden and... that we were having a relationship outside of the one I had with Rob. I thought I could fool him into thinking that I'd just loitered around."

"So you were two-timing him?"

Selina sighed. "I guess you can call it that. It's complicated."

The capt cast a sly half smile at Sel.  "I hope that teaches you never to mess with the feelings of a man."

She glanced at Caden. "I don't think I ever will again."

"She made up her mind before we got together," Caden said, giving her a reassuring smile. "She just failed to tell him, and well, given his explosive nature, I think you can understand. Neither of us expected him to set up a search for her."

Selina smiled shyly. "At least my heart knew what my head did not. Rob showed his very gentle, affectionate side. I didn't love him, but I thought I'd be safe with him. I know better now."

Caden gently pulled her against him, holding her there. "You're safe now, that's all that matters."

She blushed, knowing that the capt and Jeremy were still there and watching.

The capt pulled a face at Jeremy, signifying their time for the questioning had probably come to an end. He stood up. "Alright... I think we have enough. We'll drop the case if that's what you really want. And I expect to hear from the Vanguard about how their case with you is settled as well. Am I clear?"

"I'll visit Diana soon," Selina replied.

"You may be sure of it captain." Caden said, letting go of Selina and offering him a hand. "Thank you, for all you've done, and I'm sorry about any confusion we've caused."

The capt shook Caden's hand. "I have to say that that story Miss Knox laid on me was really throwing me for a spin. I'm so glad that none of that was true, otherwise I'm not sure where I would've started."

"You'd throw me in a holding cell till you figured out that none of what I'd said was real. You'd demand the truth from me, one that I wouldn't give, and because of that, your case would be tainted because one of your witnesses had lied. But you'd have to let me off with a slap on the wrist because of the time I'd made you waste," said Selina.

The capt raised his brow. "You've really thought this through, haven't you?"

She nodded. "I've had a lot of time to think about this while I was recovering."

The capt leaned towards Caden and whispered. "Don't let your lady have too much free time on her hands." Then he grinned.

Caden grinned as well, glad everything seemed to have turned out well in the end.

"Let's go Jeremy," said the captain, opening the door. They departed, as they had before, with Jeremy shutting the door behind them.

Selina stood next to the door and listened to them go down the stairs.

Caden looked at Sel, but said nothing.

As soon as the footsteps departed, she quietly locked the door. Once she was done, she turned back to Caden, taking one of his hands and pulling him towards her. "Do you think your parents still like me? I mean... after what happened. What they now know."

"They know you did not ask for any of that to happen, love." He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. "They're just glad you're safe and recovering. " He kissed her brow once more and sighed. "I cannot come to Ebonhawke with you." He said softly.

She leaned her face on his shoulder and pouted. "Why?"

"Rob smashed up too much of our stored herbs, it'll all have to be replaced. I don't want to leave it to my family to do all the work. Do you mind terribly?"

"Nah..." She said, holding tightly to him. "You do what you need to. If you'll tell me what herbs to look for and what they look like, maybe I can go hunting around the Fields of Ruin so I can help add to your collection."

"I'd like it better if you returned as soon as able." He tangled his fingers through her hair. "We'll go out together and I'll teach you what to look for."

She chuckled to herself. "Never in a million years would I imagine myself running out there, gathering herbs."

He smiled until he suddenly remembered something. "Sel, I forgot to tell you, Aidan's coming over." He said carefully, hoping she would not be too upset with him.

She took her face off Caden's shoulder. "What? When?"

"He should be here today I think. I sent him word to inform him of what happened. He replied not a day later saying he was on his way."

Selina stepped away from Caden. She looked like a deer in headlights, ever ready to flee.

"Calm down Sel," Caden said, taking her hand. "I think it's time you two talked things over. You've been avoiding him ever since Ebonhawke and he doesn't even seem to realize something is wrong."

"I'm done with worrying about him, running his missions, trying my best to make him happy - when he's like a black hole. He asks and asks... and it's never enough. It's too draining to be with him, Caden. I can't do it."

"He's been through a lot Sel. Think back on all the things that happened to him, I don't think he realizes how selfish his behaviour has been." Caden said soothingly.

She bent her head down. And even though she still hesitated to meet Aidan, finally nodded. "Stay with me?" she asked.

"Of course" he answered.

She fell back into his arms and began to kiss him deeply, wrapping a hand around the back of his neck, letting her fingers slip around his collar.

Holding her tightly he responded to her kisses with more of his own, finally letting go of some of the tension that had been building up out of fear of losing her.

Her hand came free from his collar, and it went down his back instead, worming its way under Caden's shirt till she was touching the bare skin under his arm. "How much time do you think we have till my brother comes?" She said between heavy kisses.

"I don't care, he can wait," Caden answered before leaning in for another kiss. Holding the back of her neck with one hand, his fingers tangling into her hair.

She giggled as she backed off onto Caden's bed and dragged him along. Grinning Caden followed after her without hesitation.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The following morning found Aidan rushing into Claypool a day later than planned. Concerned as he was about Selina he knew she'd be in safe hands with the Mullinses and he'd had several pressing matters that needed to be looked into before he could leave the city. He'd barely given himself a nights rest after and left the city hours before dawn. By the time he reached the Mullinses house they had just left the breakfast table. Ethan and Meri had gone into the forest to gather herbs while Molly had heated a bucket of water to start washing the windows. In the aftermath of Robs coming she seemed to have decided to clean every square inch of the house. She just opened the front door of the shop when Aidan got off his horse and tied it to the fence. "Oh, hello sir, can I help you with anything? She asked as she put the bucket down.

"Ah, Mrs Mullins?" Aidan asked? Bowing politely. "My name is Aidan Brennan, I'm here to see Selina and Caden, if she's well enough to receive guests that is."

"Mr Brennan, yes of course, Caden said you'd be coming, though we expected you yesterday." Molly said, putting her bucket away from the path to the door. "Please, come in sir." She opened the door for him.

"Ah yes, I'm terribly sorry," Aidan said, "I'm afraid I was delayed." Aidan waited for Molly to go inside before following her in and closing the door behind him. "They're in the kitchen still, I think" Molly said, leading him to the kitchen where Caden was doing dishes while Sel sat at the table. "You have a guest," She announced cheerfully.

Sel was having a laugh with Caden when Aidan walked into the room. She quietened down immediately. "Hi Aidan," she said stoically.

Molly smiled at the cheerful pair, completely missing Sel's stoic greeting. "I'll leave you young 'uns to it" She said, before returning to the front of the shop to start on her windows.

"Hello Aidan" Caden said, a lot more friendly. He took the nearest towel and dried his hands before walking over to Aidan and extending a hand.

Aidan shook it, though his attention was mostly on Selina. "I'm pleased to see you're well enough to be up and about" He told her. "I confess I was really worried about you."

"I heal quickly," she said, meaning two things at once.

Confused by Sel's curt behaviour Aidan only nodded.

"Aidan, sit down" Caden said with a smile. "May I offer you a drink?"

"Uh.. ah yes, thank you, tea would be nice" Aidan said, sitting down at the table awkwardly.

"You too Sel?" Caden asked, looking at her.

She shrugged. "Anything will do."

He nodded and went about brewing a pot of tea.

When Caden left the table, Selina looked at Aidan. And for a while, they stared at each other in silence. "So..." she said, after a while, "Andrea behind bars?"

"She is. Her trial was two days ago, which is why I arrived later than I planned. " Aidan gave her an apologetic smile. "She'll be spending the rest of her life in prison."

"But....?" Selina said in anticipation, expecting her brother to have yet another problem for her to solve.

"But what?" He asked, not understanding her at all.

Selina sighed. "There's always something else in your life that's not right, and you can't be happy till... dot dot dot happens, but even when that does, there'll be something else."

"I'm not sure I understand you Selina," Aidan said, still confused.

She put an elbow on the table and leaned on it. "Nevermind..." she said.

"Have I upset you somehow?" Aidan asked, just as Caden placed a large teapot on the table.

"You won't understand." She said, looking dully at a random spot on the table.

Caden shortly let his hand rest on Selina's good shoulder, squeezing it ever so gently in support before turning to take 3 teacups from a shelf.

Aidan frowned and seemed to not even notice Caden's gesture. "Selina, I really don't understand." He said, completely unsure of what was going on.

Caden returned with the cups and poured the tea, placing a cup in front of Aidan and Selina first before taking his own cup and sitting down next to Selina.

"I just feel like lately our relationship has changed," Selina said while not taking her eyes off that spot on the table. "You're Mr Troubled, I'm Miss Errand Girl. We have nothing else to talk about except what's troubling you and what I have to do next to solve your new problem. It's just... I guess it's not what I expected. Even the time you were mad at me and dragging me back to Divinity's Reach to send me to jail, at least you noticed me then."

Aidan sighed and let his shoulders hang. He was quiet for a long time.

Caden took Selina's hand in his own, proud of her for finally speaking up. He gently squeezed it as he smiled at her.

"I guess I did do that." Aidan said softly. "I'm sorry Selina." He gave her a deflated look before staring at the table. "It was wrong of me to treat you like that."

She shrugged idly, taking Caden's hand in hers but not responding otherwise. "I offer skills, you need them. That's all it is to it. Not much more to say."

"If that was true you wouldn't be upset with me now," Aidan said, looking up from the table.

"Having never had a sibling before, I suppose I set the wrong expectations of what a brother-sister relationship should be like. I'm trying to adjust them now."

"Selina, don't be like that please. It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I was too preoccupied with my own problems." Aidan pleaded.

Selina began to cry softly.

Moving his chair closer to Selina, Caden gently wrapped an arm around her and pulled her against his chest.  He gave Aidan a warning look. "You should've stopped and taken her feelings into consideration somewhere along the way" He told him.

"I buried the bracelet!" she said shamefully. "I dug a hole and threw it in."

Aidan simply sat in his chair and stared, unsure of what confused him more, Selina's tears, or the way Caden acted around her. "I-.... you-... " He shut his mouth again, not even knowing what to say. "W-what?" He stammered in the end.

"I was angry," Selina explained. "That bracelet was the only thing I took with me that reminded me of you. I dug a hole, and I threw it in. I buried you."

He gave her a sad look, still not quite sure what to make of the apparent familiarity between Caden and Selina. "I'm sorry Selina, honestly I am. I know it's no excuse, but after all that had happened, I think I forgot how to feel, and the feelings of others weren't on my mind either. It never once occurred to me that I might've done you wrong"

She stopped crying and dried her tears. "Is it over now?"

"I don't know" He said truthfully. "I don't think I"m happy, but it seems I am slowly getting my life in order again."

"I'm sorry I can't help you Aidan. Not anymore. I was feeling so drained while I was helping you, I can't let myself go back to that."

"I'm not asking you to" he said softly. "I'll manage somehow. I came here because I was worried for you."

For a few moments, she stayed silent, letting his words sink in. "How much have you been told?" she finally asked.

"Not much, only that you'd been shot and gravely injured." Aidan said giving Caden a long look. Caden shrugged slightly, still holding Selina close to him.

"It was mainly Rob. Not the gunshot, but he beat me up, then came here to kill Caden. Turns out, he got Caden's address from your house. From Siri. I was worried then that something had happened to her, but if even you didn't know anything about it, then I take it she's fine."

"She told me nothing." Aidan said with a frown. "I'm sorry you had to go through that Sel-" He fell silent. "Why did he come here?" He asked after several minutes.

"Because he was angry that Caden and I are together," she said simply, reflecting on how little her brother knew about what was going on in her life.

"You what?" Aidan's jaw dropped as the information processed in his head.

"We're in love, Aidan" Caden replied in Selina's stead. Snickering slightly at how slow Aidan apparently was at comprehending the situation.

She leaned forward. "What did you expect? When you ran off, I had no one. Thank the gods that Caden had enough sympathy to hang around. I think I grew very attached to his company, and that's probably what started it."

After some time Aidan realized he was staring and closed his mouth, composing himself. "Congratulations, I'm happy for you" He said, managing a smile while mentally kicking himself for not putting the dots together sooner.

"Thank you," Selina replied. "I was thinking about moving to Claypool to be with Caden permanently, but after the recent events. I'm not sure if that's at all practical."

"We can live somewhere else," Caden said. "I don't care where, as long as I'm with you."

She smiled and gave him a kiss on the lips. Caden smiled at her happily. She turned back to Aidan, suddenly aware of how tragic his own love life had been. "I'm sorry Aidan, I hope this doesn't upset you."

"I'm happy for you" Aidan told her, smiling slightly. "If you want, you're welcome to use my home until you manage to find your own place. I'm mostly at my father's house anyway"

"Has Henry Brennan taken you back?" she asked.

He nodded.

She smiled. "That's good to hear. So you're a noble again."

"I suppose"

"I thank you for the invitation, but I will probably not take you up on that offer. Divinity's Reach is fine for a day trip, but some of the community is still hostile towards me. Claypool was ideal until..." she turned to Caden. "Is that alright with you? I mean about Divinity's Reach"

"I'll go where you go, love" Caden said.

Aidan nodded. "I understand."

She nodded and turned back to Aidan, "If you are interested in keeping track of me, I'll try to send you a note about where I am so you'll always know."

"I would like to stay in touch with you" he said with a smile.

"Great," Selina said with a smile, and reached out to take Aidan's hand in hers. It wasn't quite like before, but the half-siblings were reconciled and finding their place in their new relationship. Aidan wasn't her sponsor anymore, and deep inside Selina still hoped for them to have a relationship that extended a purely professional one.  Perhaps someday they would find it in each other...

Aidan smiled at Selina, gently squeezing the hand she extended. "I really am glad for you sister."  He said softly.

  • Talia
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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #133 on: August 14, 2017, 10:31:00 AM »
"Talk to Diana and head straight back." That was the instruction that given to Selina by Caden before he left with his folks to re-gather the herbs that had been damaged in the struggle. She sighed as she faced an empty house, feeling the guilt of not being able to help them get everything restored. She'd considered skipping out on going back to Ebonhawke, but Caden didn't want her to get in trouble with the Seraphs.

Reaching into her coin pouch with her one good hand, she turned it over and let its contents spill onto the shop counter. Right there was everything she had remained from her time with Aidan, and what she'd earned from repairing stuff around town. Using two fingers to move the coins systematically into a corner as she kept track of what she had in total, she was a tad dismayed to find only thirty-eight gold coins, aside from some coppers and silvers. With a sweep of her hand, she moved them closer to her, and counted again. She wasn't wrong the first time. Stacking the coins carefully in four neat piles, she put the silvers and coppers back into her pouch, and just one of the thirty-eight gold. Pulling out a blank sheet of paper and a pen, she scribbed a quick message to the Mullinses: "Edd dis gold towerds the rasstoration of your shorp. Luv Selina." Propping it up on the stacks of gold, she weighed the note down with a glass bottle. After securing her pouch around her waist and pulling the hood over her head, left the shop and headed down the road.

The walk back to Ebonhawke wasn't as easy as it was before. She found herself short of breath when she got to Divinity's Reach, and naturally drifted into the nearest pub. She made sure to keep her head low, and kept to the corner to remain as unnoticeable as possible. She would've had her scarf on as well, but she found it quite impossible to get it on with just one working arm. The hood would have to do.

"What will it be?" asked the barkeep. His voice was gruff and aged - a familiar voice in a familiar bar. Not that there was a bar in Divinity's Reach that remained foreign to her.

She placed her one gold coin on the counter, and slid it towards him slowly as she kept her face pointed down. "A glass of whiskey, please."

The barkeep didn't take the coin. Instead he leaned forward, trying his best to identify her. "I know that voice," he said.

That reaction made her nervous, and she turned away completely. "Just take the coin."

The barkeep straightened out, and picked up the coin. "Hey, I don't want to scare you. Everyone is welcome at the Ballard Loft. If you're in any kind of trouble, this coin pays for old man Larry's confidentiality too. If you want whiskey, I'll get you some." Planting a glass cup in front of her, he began pouring.

"You're not old, Lar," she said, turning back to collect her glass.

But Larry still had a grip on the cup. He'd frozen in place. "It can't be..." he said in shock, leaning towards her again. "Sel.."

"Shhhh..." she snapped at him quickly, pulling the cup away from him.

He lowered his tone, whispering harshly. "Word on the street is that you died at the hand of a seraph."

"And I'd like to stay dead, thank you," she said softly.

He let out a chuckle. "I should've known that Sliptail Sel would be the one to slip away from the greatest obstacle ever... death itself."

She tilted up her face towards him, and the light caught the corner of her smile. "I'll be needing that confidence you were preaching about."

"Of course... of course," he slid her coin back. "In fact, have this drink on me. You deserve it."

"Really?"

"Why not? You've certainly made my day. So are you hiding from the seraphs... again?"

"Well... I do have kinda a roll-of-the-dice roster of enemies. I'll say it keeps life exciting."

Larry laughed out loud. "I'm glad to see that you haven't lost your sense of humor."

"Death tends to have that effect. Even the mundane becomes just that bit funnier."

"You would know. The bright side is that you're not like one of those creepy undeads from Orr." He had his eyes fixed on that little bit of human flesh exposed between her glove and sleeve.

She snorted. "If I was an undead I wouldn't need a sling. I'd be taking bullets like a real boss."

Larry rubbed his chin. "Bullet huh?" He was still trying to piece together what exactly had happened to her, but didn't want to sound too nosy.

"Don't ask." She instructed. Then, "By the way, how's Divinity's Reach faring after the attack on the city?"

"The attack's just about ended I think. The seraphs have reclaimed the majority of Lake Doric, and they're just going about picking up the pieces now." He paused for a second, realising that she had probably not heard. "Speaking of pieces... on the seizing of Fort Evennia, the Mantle stronghold, the seraphs discovered barrels upon barrels full of bloodstone crystals."

"Bloodstone?"

"Glowing scarlet red crystals, about the height of a man's elbow up to his shoulder. It is said that the crystals emit some sort of mysterious unbound energy. It took the Pact a while to learn how to extract the powers in the crystal and apply them to other objects. The White Mantle seems to be a little ahead of the curve in this aspect - they figured it out eons ago. Since then, blacksmiths attached to the Pact have begun crafting these crystals into the armors of their soldiers to enhance the properties. Other groups caught wind of this and asked for crystals to enhance armor back home as well, but the Pact hasn't really been generous in that respect. Lucky for us, Fort Evennia's given the seraphs quite a bump in that department, moreso than the others."

Larry's words sparked a memory she had of her time with Auberon in the White Mantle camp. She recalled specifically that he'd worn a glowing scarlet crystal around his neck and would rub it often. Could it be that he'd used its energy to fuel that mental attack on her? "Larry, how do these crystals work?" she asked.

"I'm not exactly sure," he replied. "But since the Pact has started implementing them large scale, it's exploded as a massively hot commodity on the market. Both with the authority-type-groups and... you know, the other side. Everyone wants an upgrade. Even though the seraphs have seized all the bloodstones they were able to get their hands on, it's said that the White Mantle's managed to smuggle a lot more of it into the human territories together with their secret agents. But since a large portion of the agents have been arrested, and no one knows exactly where these agents have hid their crystals, it's become a huge game of treasure hunt in Divinity's Reach now. In fact, I get various individuals coming into my pub, looking under tables and chairs, as if no one would've spotted a brightly glowing red crystal right under their seat and sold it for themselves. It's widely known that anyone who hits the motherlode will be truly a rich bugger. I'd be out there right now searching too, but the Ballard Loft needs managing."

"Probably a lost cause if you ask me. Aside from the exercise," Selina quipped.

Larry smiled. "In any case, if you bump into some bloodstone, remember the guy who paid for your drink will ya?"

"That's pretty sneaky of you to be suggesting to ride on someone else's efforts," she teased.

"I'm riding nothing," he complained with a pout. "I'm just asking to be remembered."

She grinned. "Let me disappoint you further then, Lar. I don't have the time to embark on some wild goose chase around Divinity's Reach, no less. I'm headed out of town on urgent business. I just popped in here to get a drink before I hit the road again."

"Sellie, always in a hurry..." Larry clicked his tongue in disappointment.

She finished her drink, and handed the glass back to the barkeep. "I will remember the guy who offered me a free drink though. Not that I've ever forgotten you, Lar."

He nodded, accepting her decision. "It was lovely seeing you again though. Do come back to visit."

Selina stood up as she adjusted her pack. "Perhaps."

  • Talia
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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #134 on: August 15, 2017, 10:37:48 PM »
It was evening by the time she stood before the Vanguard Headquarters, and a gentle breeze blew dry leaves across her path as she requested to see Capt Diana. The guards recognized her then, and as surprised as they were to witness her return, said that Capt Diana was told to expect her. As before, she was told to remove her hood upon entry, except this time they also asked for a surrender of the weapons on her.

"Selina Knox," said Capt Diana, gesturing towards the seat in front of her. It felt like dejavu, sitting on opposite sides from the Vanguard Captain, having a chat like before. Selina spotted a letter on her desk, it looked to be stamped by the Seraph. "I'm impressed that you didn't flout the Seraph's request to settle things here. I know it couldn't have been easy to return."

Selina glanced over at the window behind Diana. The pane of glass had already been replaced. "I was in a hurry the last time. You deserve an explanation, and an apology."

The captain pressed her elbows onto the desk that sat between them. "You hit me pretty hard."

"I'm sorry. I didn't see any other way out."

Diana paused as she studied Selina's fading bruises and arm hung in a sling. "You should've let us handle whoever it was that did this to you."

"As I've said before, there were other lives at stake. I made a rash decision, yes. But I'd do it again if it meant protecting them."

"How do you know the result wouldn't have been as favorable or more so if the Vanguard had been involved? We are many, you are one."

"I understand that. But I also know the man responsible for this. He's always one step ahead of others, and I'm certain would already have had an alternate plan of attack should law enforcement get involved. You can't stop him without inflicting some kind of casualty on yourself or someone you know. Sometimes it's better just to let sleeping dogs lie."

"If everyone had that mentality, you would not need the Vanguard, or the Seraph. The enemy would always win, because there would be no one daring enough to oppose."

Selina grimaced. "I'm not a coward."

"No." Diana said, pointing to her injuries. "But you'd rather be a victim than to expose evil for what it is. It's people like you that embolden those who would commit crimes."

"You don't understand..."

"Give me the name of this man," the Captain demanded.

Selina let out a sigh and leaned back in her chair. Perhaps it was a mistake to come. Weren't they just in a verbal deadlock, so much that she had to escape through the window? And she'd willingly put herself into the same position. "I'm sorry but, no."

"Didn't you promise that you would get the man who caused me harm?"

"I did," replied Selina. "And I will. I'm not exactly in the place to do something about it now, but I will soon."

Diana thumped a hand on the table. "You know that I've never supported civilians taking matters into their own hands. All I want is a name, or an address at least. You've got to give me something. Let the law be the hand of justice."

Selina hesitated, and shook her face. "Let's not do this again Captain Diana. I understand where you're coming from, but you and I live in different worlds. This man is from my world, we settle matters in ways that differ from yours."

"I'd almost be inclined to believe you. But on hindsight, I can't say that your methods have been very successful," Diana pointed to the note on her desk. "The Captain in Claypool clearly stated that you were the victim of severe battery and would have not survived without the help of others. I count that alone as a failure on your part. I can't see how you still insist that you were right."

Selina shrugged. "I guess I just see the situation a little differently. I can heal from my injuries, but someone who is dead - a little harder to walk back from that."

"That's the problem. You have too little faith in the law. I'm confident if given the proper information, the Vanguard would've handled this without any casualties, and perhaps without any injury at all. There are proper ways to handle such situations, and we rarely fail."

The ex-bandit laughed bitterly. "Talk about overconfidence..."

"I was about to say the same of you," replied Diana, glaring at Selina in frustration. "Why did you even come here, Miss Knox? I thought you'd finally decided to cooperate with us, but you're still lugging along the same amount of stubbornness as before."

"Didn't want to be rude," Selina said calmly.

"You do realise that while you're determined to share nothing, that you're wasting time for the both of us?"

"That did occur to me. But I figured you'd appreciate the visit nonetheless."

Diana rose from her seat. "Guards!"

Perplexed, Selina asked, "Are we really doing this again?"

"I don't think you're seeing the situation right, Miss Knox. I hope a night spent in the holding area will put things into better perspective for you."

The footsteps stopped at the door, and it swung open. Selina didn't dash out the window this time - it wasn't just that she wasn't in a hurry this time, but she didn't exactly want to get shot again. "So excuse me if any of this sounds offensive, but isn't it a bit simplistic to think that your answer to the problem lies in my arrest? What even gives you the right to do that?"

"Aside from the fact that you yourself assaulted an officer of the Vanguard, smashed property and escaped the grounds without permission, withholding information in an investigation is cause for arrest too," stated Diana. "So the answer to your question is yes. And don't try running again, that new pane of window is triple the thickness of what it was before, plus you're completely unarmed this time."

Selina smirked to herself at the thought of the blades still hidden in her boots. But she wouldn't use them, at least not yet. Two guards picked her up from the seat she was on, wedging her one good hand behind her back. That in itself wouldn't hold her, but she wouldn't fight them, at least not yet. "Great, this is the thanks I get for walking myself in here."

"Is there anyone I should contact in regards to your arrest? Someone in Claypool perhaps?"

"Tell that damn Seraph captain I did as he said and you can explain to him what you did anyway."

Diana nodded, "I will explain the situation to him. I apologise Miss Knox, but you've made this unfavorable outcome quite unavoidable. I was willing to overlook all the offenses if you'd only choose to work with us."

"Well, that will never happen!"

"If you remain intent on fighting us, we'll have no choice but to hold you in that cell as a security risk. Make a decision Miss Knox, make the right one."

"I won't have what you're having," spat Selina rebelliously.

Diana shook her head and did a dismissive wave to the guards that surrounded her. "Take her downstairs." They nodded.

"What a sorry-excuse-for-a-captain! Pathetic dumb institution..." she yelled as the guards towed her out the door, and her curses faded down the hall.

For a while Diana stared blankly at the now empty doorway. She couldn't understand how Selina could be so intent on withholding the identities of the people who clearly had no regard for the law or for the lives of others. If it really was as she had implied, that these were potential murderers no less, there was even more reason to name them and let the law put them behind bars where they belong. How was she deceived into thinking she was doing a righteous act by protecting them? Or could it be that she held sympathy towards the enemy? What madness...