Birds of a Feather

Cass/Artemis

Verdant Row can be chaotic or peaceful to a fatigued adventurer. Managed by spirits, this town serves as a temporary stop for a person to rest and eat. If there is no trouble about, a stay here is lovely, due to the nearby picturesque scenery. Read more...
User avatar
Cassian Thander
Character
Streetrat
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Shapeshifter and Fae
Class: Rogue and Sorcerer
Posts: 6
Joined: October 1st, 2019, 6:12 am
Has thanked: 1 time

Birds of a Feather

Post by Cassian Thander »

Heavy boots hit the cobblestone like thunder. Rather, an earthquake to the young thief's ears. Perhaps it was the acoustic of the place, or perhaps it was the adrenaline but Cass could swear he felt the mercenary's footsteps reverberating through the ground. He didn't dare look back though, keeping a firm hand on his prize – a satchel of coins, as he ran.

Up ahead, his route opened into a bustling road near a market, people milling about their morning tasks. To a rogue, such a busy section would be a nightmare and a death-trap, but this was Verdant Row. Here, most people were ghosts, and thus incorporeal unless they had no choice but to interact with things. The key then, you see, is distinguishing them. Ahead, a ghost of a merchant's apprentice pushed a cart forth, his translucent face set in absolute concentration. And off to one side a lovely young ghost stood, fidgeting as she surveyed the crowd. There were others but the pair caught Cass' eye, both being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. He couldn't dodge them both, not without slowing. Not without getting caught.

Cass wasn't planning on that. The young man, working off his experience, veered to the side and rushed towards the girl.

And right on through her.

Cold couldn't describe the feeling. It was like splashing into a pool of frigid water, tenfold. Despite expecting the shock the thief yelped, his few following steps turning into a dance before he continued on with his fleeing. Behind him gruff laughter resounded, followed by a crash as the brute undoubtedly thought he could pass through just any ghost. Shouting and sulfurous cursing followed but the thump, thump, thump of those boots ceased.

Cass flew across the cobblestone, never looking back. He rounded one corner, then another and a third.

Where he came face to face with a wall. A tall thing, overgrown with vines and littered with crevices. Perfect for scaling, presuming the thug didn't have a crossbow handy. Cass grimaced, thinking how fun a bolt in his back would be. The youth stumbled a step forward, amber eyes looking up and up in search for the sky.

"Please..." The young man wheezed, running a nervous hand through his hair. "Please don't fail me now."

He tried gathering his focus, pooling that heart-drumming fear. Focusing on that desperate, trembling desire for freedom. As though he could leap and float from it all, free in the sky. Free from the ground and his pursuers. Free from-

"WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON YOU, I'LL..." That gruff voice, impossibly loud, bellowed from just around the corner.

Cass jumped at the sound, and everything in his vision swelled. The tall wall rose higher still, becoming an impossible cliff. The nearby boxes and barrels grew too, becoming mountains. Everything stretched, and the young man couldn't help reaching out to try to stop it.

Dark feathers appeared at the edges. Where once a young rogue shook a small, black starling now stood. Frozen for a few seconds before it twitched, gave a chirp of surprise and took to the sky. Bellow, the gruff mercenary turned the corner and paused, beady eyes squinting at the dead end the thief had just fled from.

While the starling flew on, finding an edge of a nearby roof where he could finally catch his breath.

@Artemis Black
Word count: 565

User avatar
Artemis Black
Character
Black of the Night
Level
02
24 / 24 HP
18 / 18 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 30c
Race: Human
Class: Rogue
Posts: 337
Joined: September 30th, 2019, 12:06 am
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Artemis Black »

Artemis could only describe Verdant Row as unsettling. He preferred to work with a sense of normality in his daily endeavors. The fact that the city was crawling with restless spirits was certainly odd, but it didn't hold a candle to the sense of unease he got from knowing there were magic-wielding folks all about the place. In Fellsgard, a man knew only the truly dangerous people could burn him to ash with a thought. Out here though, who knew what terrors might end him.

In the end, it all came back to money. The slimy merchant who did business here asked very few questions. When he'd finished making his sale, the runner had returned to the rooftops and walls. They let him feel a small sense of safety, even if they were strangely dispersed. It was there he observed an intriguing chase. Burly men sprinting after spry young thieves weren't particularly uncommon, especially here. Yet the pursuit rarely ended in someone turning into a bird.

Artemis followed the bird-man a short distance over the walls and roofs before coming to rest atop a gable. He settled in well out of arms reach and chanced talking to the bird to satisfy his curiosity. "That was some impressive running, but I don't think I've seen that particular escape before," he said, grinning openly.
Word count: 222
Image

User avatar
Cassian Thander
Character
Streetrat
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Shapeshifter and Fae
Class: Rogue and Sorcerer
Posts: 6
Joined: October 1st, 2019, 6:12 am
Has thanked: 1 time

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Cassian Thander »

Rooftops weren't a lively place. On occasion children - ghosts, played about. However, they were the least bit concerned with random birds. Hungry cats and circling hawks, on the other hand, were the most dangerous of roof visitors. Still, both were easy to spot if you had your wits about, and easy to evade if you were near some bushes.

Cass wasn't either. Call it negligence due to the thrill he'd had. Focused on the noisy ruffian below, he didn't detect the stranger. So when an unexpected voice filtered into his avian ear-holes, the bird took off with a startled chirp. He would've flown off too, never to return, if he didn't realize the stranger wasn't a hungry cat about to slash him dead.

Noting the other's lack of whiskers and fuzzy ears, Cass turned into a few sharp circles overhead and settled back down on a roof tile. The bird paused to cheep, tilting his head at the stranger. It was an inquisitive motion, one a bit too humanoid for the creature.

Well, he could tell little about the other boy. Cloaked, dressed finer than his old, stitched-to-death rags, and with a smile that seemed a touch too sharp to the half-fae. Paranoid, little Cass told himself. He was being paranoid.

The bird shook, feathers puffing up, and once more became himself in a shimmer of magic. It took him a moment to reorient, blinking, before he noticed he was actually taller than the other boy. Not by much but Cass didn't run into many folks shorter than he. Or perhaps it was just his imagination. People tended to look taller when one doesn't have much confidence.

The difference was something that should, but still didn't make him feel better in this little tete-a-tete. Despite himself, Cass fidgeted, hand clenching around the pouch full of coins he had liberated. The coins that he should secure before the other thought of snatching them. That garnered an "oh" from the lad, and then he hurriedly tied the bag to the thick rope around his waist. Just to be safe.

"I... uh. I guess you saw that." Cass began nervously, offering the other a sheepish smile. "You're shorter than I thought."
Word count: 369

User avatar
Artemis Black
Character
Black of the Night
Level
02
24 / 24 HP
18 / 18 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 30c
Race: Human
Class: Rogue
Posts: 337
Joined: September 30th, 2019, 12:06 am
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Artemis Black »

He watched the bird's panicked flight with interest. It wasn't like he could leap to the air and follow if they decided to fly off. When the bird became a man again, he nodded to himself and prepared to talk, laughing silently as the other thief remember his prize and hid it away. Then the man insulted him, and Artemis felt a frown tug at his lips. "Says the starling," he replied with a bit of bite to his words. He sighed and wiped his expression away before going on, "I've got eyes and ears, yes, and I imagine I'm not the only one to notice all the racket and think to look above." The thief offered his hand out, though he was well out of reach. "Names Artemis, and I'd like to talk to you about the whole bird thing. Perhaps we can get a drink somewhere?"

It wasn't like him to offer work to people at first glance. Perhaps it was the ghosts, or maybe he was stuck on the idea of a thief who could pilfer and then simply fly away. Whatever it was, he found himself offering a drink to a thief he'd just met, and he didn't even feel like stabbing the fellow. The trick now, finding a tavern that sold things in this twice-forsaken pile of chaos. Then, when this was done, getting the earliest ticket he could back home.
Word count: 236
Image

User avatar
Cassian Thander
Character
Streetrat
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Shapeshifter and Fae
Class: Rogue and Sorcerer
Posts: 6
Joined: October 1st, 2019, 6:12 am
Has thanked: 1 time

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Cassian Thander »

Cassian didn't miss the bite in the stranger's words. It sounded like a returning insult, he was certain, but what he did wrong was beyond him. The young thief blinked, opened his mouth to respond, then thought better of it and shut it again. His eyebrows furrowed, puzzled over the issue.

The other's next words however, made him want to fidget more. He thought he was nigh invisible as a bird. Most people, especially the spectral residents of Verdant Row, scarcely notice him or his shape-shifting. So the thought of being that easy to spot was, well, unsettling. Cass' amber gaze flicked to the edge of the roof, then back to the stranger while he inched away from anyone potentially looking up.

"The bird thing?" Cass echoed, eyeing the offered hand as though it might bite him. "Um, there's the Heartbroken Socks Inn." He provided, head twitching in the direction of a tall, chaotic-looking building a few blocks from them. "They have good drink and I often spend the night there. As a bird, I mean."

Cass would've kept talking, if the offered hand wasn't hanging there, left rather rudely by yours truly. As though afraid his confidence might fail him altogether, the young man took a sudden, jerky step towards the stranger in order to grip the greeting hand.

Hard, with a smile as fragile as glass that he convinced himself looked friendly.

"Cassian. Er, my name." The smile faltered with an uneasy cough. "I'm not in some kind of trouble, am I?"
Word count: 254

User avatar
Artemis Black
Character
Black of the Night
Level
02
24 / 24 HP
18 / 18 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 30c
Race: Human
Class: Rogue
Posts: 337
Joined: September 30th, 2019, 12:06 am
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Artemis Black »

Artemis held back a small wince when Cassian lurched forward and took a firmer than necessary grip. When the other thief tried to release his hand, Artemis yanked his arm and stepped inward. Grasping Cassian's shoulder, he gripped the thief's forearm in the greeting of warriors. The distinct clink of his sheathed dagger colliding with the same made Artemis smile. "Relax, Cassian. If I wanted to gut you, I'd've done so while you gawped like a fish," he said as he released the man and stepped out of reach in one smooth motion. "You're also certainly not in trouble with me. Now lead on starling. I'll tell you about myself and my offer as we move. Then perhaps we can catch the morning's airship and be away from your troubles.

As the pair moved across the rooftops, Artemis explained a general outline of his plan. He was collecting associates with the intent to form a working team of sorts. The kind of team that could succeed but once or twice and then retire into luxury. He had a hideout and even the rough inkling of their first score. Now all he needed were competent folk who were willing to get their hands dirty. "You seem like the sort of fellow who could work his way around certain difficulties others might balk at," Artemis said as he reached the end of his overview. "If you'd like, you can share your thoughts over the drinks, rather than trying to yell over your back while we move."
Word count: 254
Image

User avatar
Cassian Thander
Character
Streetrat
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Shapeshifter and Fae
Class: Rogue and Sorcerer
Posts: 6
Joined: October 1st, 2019, 6:12 am
Has thanked: 1 time

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Cassian Thander »

Cass hadn't expected to be yanked forward by the other thief. In fact, he was too busy worrying over his own handshake to consider the other's intention. That, however, came into startling focus at Artemis' sudden motion. Cass froze in the moment, like a deer facing a wolf, only providing a flinch as the blades clinked together.

It took him a moment to remember how to speak. Or to breathe, for that matter.

"Ah. R-Right." The young thief choked out, a visceral scene of Artemis gutting him like a fish playing in his mind. An eternity later the other thief stepped away, much to Cass' relief. The young man's posture sagged a little. Then he jerked, remembering last minute showing weakness was unwise. Never mind that he had displayed it in a thousand different ways already. One of them being his complexion losing what little color it had over the bit of panic.

Cass corralled his courage as best he could and gave a jerky nod. He half-turned to do as he was ordered, before a doubt made him pause to look Artemis over again. Just to check if the man would stab him in the back if he gave him the chance.

Foolish, he thought, and finally took off across the rooftops. Now, Verdant Row wasn't a thickly woven city, making navigation over roofs a challenge. That and Cass was no roof-runner. After all, why run when you can fly? Still, despite all that the thief decided to stay aloft, for two reasons. Firstly, his transformation trick was a taxing thing, growing unreliable with frequent usage. Secondly, the brute was still down there somewhere and Cass didn't feel like running into him again. Ever.

So across the roofs they went, Cass focusing intently on picking along a path, and Artemis following suit. Rather easily, the thief noticed, so much so the man could talk whilst scaling and jumping. The bird-man felt a pang of jealousy at that, but to his chagrin, listening was the most focus he could give their conversation. With an occasional grunt or "uh-huh" thrown in.

He had time to think, though. What Artemis was offering had an allure in many ways. It hinted he could prove himself, both as a thief and in his mind, something more. He could be in a group that didn't criticize him over thieving. Not in a disgraceful way anyway. And then there was the prospect of living like a king when all is done. This, he decided, could be the opportunity he'd been waiting for all his life. A dream come true wrapped in a neat bundle and tied with a bow.

It all swirled in his head. The thief hardly noticed when they arrived at the Heartbroken Socks Inn. Which is saying something, for it was a peculiar one, much like the townsfolk. It was a towering, gangly structure, with staircases oft unfinished and rooms furnished rather oddly. One of the rooms was nothing but open floor space with a window built into the bottom corner. Said window was often open, especially during more turbulent weather. Which suited this starling quite well.

Thankfully, the ghosts made the ground floor more conventional.

The sight of his favorite watering hole, coupled with Artemis' prospect, returned some spring into the young thief's step. He all but sauntered through the place to a secluded table, giving the gambling ones a wide berth as though they were beneath him this day. The young man settled in, ordering whiskey for himself and letting Artemis choose on his own.

Cass downed the first shot without hesitation, smiling. "Wow." He breathed. "That sound very... well, organized. I'm not sure how I can help." Cass said, then blinked, realizing what he'd blurted. "I mean you already saw the... uh..." He made a gesture vaguely describing flapping wings. "...is that all you need? I can pick locks as well."

The young man shifted in his seat and poured himself another drink, to focus on something other than blurting stupidity. It didn't stop his mouth. "I mean I'd love to join you, of course. As long as it's not too dangerous or anything."

"So, we're catching the morning airship, huh? Things must be moving pretty quickly then."
Word count: 708

User avatar
Artemis Black
Character
Black of the Night
Level
02
24 / 24 HP
18 / 18 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 30c
Race: Human
Class: Rogue
Posts: 337
Joined: September 30th, 2019, 12:06 am
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Artemis Black »

Artemis liked the boy, he was nervous and flighty, just like the bird's form he took. He reminded him so much of himself several years prior; confident in his skills but without the strength of heart to back it up in a casual setting. Cass was clearly not used to much fighting either, given how many opportunities Artemis had been given before they even started across the roofs.

Once they’d settled into the inn Artemis decided to get a better measure of the man’s mettle. He asked for the same drink as Cass, figuring it was a good place to start on judging him. The whiskey wasn’t awful and Artemis actually took a pleasant sip of the drink rather than tossing it back. When Cass used his hands to describe his bird form Artemis chuckled.

“It’s been in progress for a while now. No sense it has to start too suddenly. I can teach you any of the skills you might lack before we kick things off,” he said as he twirled the liquid in his drink. Cass likely needed some experience to slow his tongue, but as long as he wasn’t caught it wouldn’t be an issue. “I can’t promise a complete lack of danger, but we’ll keep you out of shackles at the least. Shouldn’t even be too many folks in our way, particularly not ones we’d want to knife.” Artemis seemed to consider what he’d said for a moment before nodding.

“You needn’t come along so quick if you have things to finish, but I’m itching to get back to the densely packed streets and rooftops of Fellsgard,” Artemis added before taking another long sip of his drink while his fingers tapped a soft tune on the table.

“You wouldn’t happen to know birdsong would you?” he asked Cass before whistling out a short sentence. {Easy. Fast. Hide. See.} He wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the boy did, but it was something that could be taught as well if Cass showed interest. Artemis tossed back the remainder of his drink, enjoying the sharp burn as it went down his throat.

“Anything else besides the bird thing? Fellsgard isn’t magic friendly, but as long as you’re not doing it in the market square that’ll be no trouble,” he said, clinking his cup down onto the table and giving a contented sigh.
Word count: 411
Image

User avatar
Cassian Thander
Character
Streetrat
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Shapeshifter and Fae
Class: Rogue and Sorcerer
Posts: 6
Joined: October 1st, 2019, 6:12 am
Has thanked: 1 time

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Cassian Thander »

Cass paused, Artemis' chuckling catching him by surprise. There was no sense in starting too suddenly, he said. The young man's train of hopeful thought stumbled at that.

"Oh..." He breathed, deflating.

He'd been too eager to get on board. Mother always told him he lacked patience. Wait and see, she'd say. Don't jump at the first opportunity or you'll get swindled. Yet, no matter how many times he had faced such a situation, that particular lesson never sank in. He would've been terrible at cards if he didn't know how to cheat.

The prospect of learning from Artemis still drew him in, despite himself. He could imagine soaring across rooftops with ease, or simply having the kind of confidence the other boy seemed to have in spades.

"Ah... yeah, uh..." He began, glancing down at his drink. Who was he kidding. He couldn't wait to get going, but he couldn't afford Artemis to know that. He mustn't seem too eager to go. To that, the starling offered a smile – a fidgety thing, really.

"I'd definitely need to wrap some important stuff up, but... I think I might make it. To the... uh.... morning airship, I mean."

Thankfully, Artemis drew his focus away from the topic with a question and a peculiar set of whistles. Cass couldn't help but stare again. Was he mocking him? Perhaps, but a single glance towards the other boy's sleeve, where the hidden blade rested, changed Cass' mind on speaking up about it. Instead, he smiled sheepishly.

"Oh, haha. I guess I do."

It was fragile, the young man's laugh, and it died rather quickly. As the silence settled, the whistles kept nagging at him. They sounded organized, less like a song and more like a sequence. Or...

"Wait..." Cass sat up straighter, amber eyes widening. "That's a language? There's actually a... whistle language?" The boy almost gaped like a fish for a few seconds before blurting. "What does it mean? The uh... uh..." He scrambled for it, and repeated the series of whistles, the tone as sharp as if he was in his bird form. Cass possessed few talents, but being a bird was definitely among them.

The elation was almost enough to carry him right through Artemis' next words. Almost. The young man blinked as they sank in. Trying not to squirm, he grabbed his drink once more. He actually had to down it as well, just to gain some time.

"I... I mean I can pick pockets... and open locks..." He raked more for answers, but his mind kept drawing a blank. "But uh... I can learn! I'm a quick learner!"
Word count: 439

User avatar
Artemis Black
Character
Black of the Night
Level
02
24 / 24 HP
18 / 18 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 30c
Race: Human
Class: Rogue
Posts: 337
Joined: September 30th, 2019, 12:06 am
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: Birds of a Feather

Post by Artemis Black »

Artemis watched Cassian, the constant shift in emotions fading into the background even after a few minutes. He’d worked with many folks with odd ticks, patterns of speech, damaged bodies, to ignore a feature and cut to the heart of the words was one of the things that had kept him alive.

He nodded congenially when Cass spoke of needing to tie up ends, he’d have been surprised if there wasn’t something to resolve, and it fit his timeline well enough. When Cass responded to the bird song with an affirmative he felt a rush of joy.

One look at the other man’s features made him confused instead, and then they questions came in a flood. He grinned at Cass, patting the boy on the shoulder and nodding. “It is, one from the Kerasokan Rangers, I said ‘Easy. Fast. Hide. See.’ The words are brief, but can be strung together to create ideas quickly.”

He repeated the quick sentence, whistling deftly as the burn of the whiskey loosened his lips. “And you’ll have a lot to learn, but that’s a good start. Meet me at the ship landing an hour before departure?” he asked, sliding a small wooden token onto the table. It carried a stylized image of a blackbird in flight. “Bring this, you’ll need it.”
Word count: 224
Image

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest