Vagabonds, artists by nature

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Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 8:56 am

(Author's note : this one started in 2013 by throwing small story snippets about Vagabonds together. Eventually the story about Esmeralda evolves. A few other writers have a snippet in this too. Esmeralda is a gipsy who had been forced by her parents to marry. She refused and ran away, and also has this strange coin with her. That is where this series of events starts. Spell checks will be performed somewhere in the future as also these have been hastily copied from the probably closing Dasaria forum).


*** Esmeralda Figura ***

A colorful dressed lady entered the Mistyvale Inn. Over her shoulder hung a longsword. so big was the weapon, compared to her figure, that it triggered more than a single frown. Her finely shaped tanned face had a somewhat mischievousness expression, answering any look in her direction with questioning eyes and a playful smile.

No sooner had the glancing faded and the attendees turned their heads back towards their own business, than the girl nonchalantly jumped on a barstool, as if she was light as feather.
With a flourish of the fingers, she dug a few coins out of her pocket and placed them with a clack on the bar.
After examining the place briefly, she gave the menu card an excessive look and ordered the finest wine. The inn looked clean, with just enough tables to keep it cosy and the people around didn’t seem too unfriendly.

Leaning back against the bar she raised her arm, studying briefly the document in her hand. It was a crumpled torn off flyer.
“To lighten up the city of Cear, to bring a smile on the face and joy in the life of every resident, merchant and traveler,
WANTED : Artists of all kinds.”

She sipped from her wine, placed the glass back on the bar and rubbed her smooth hands. Only a matter of time would be needed for her to find the writer and start making money.
Someone took place next to her, a young man with a too obvious goal.
“Greetings miss, the name’s Ronny. Can I offer ya something to drink?”
She looked sideways from under her dark hair before turning slowly to him, lifted her upperlip in a sweet smile and revealed a row of pearly white teeth.


Last edited by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:37 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:21 am

*** Estranged ***

(by Wild Dreams)

“Okay, I get it! You won’t have to put up with the stink of turpentine or paint stains everywhere! I’ll just tell you one thing… you’ll regret it!” said Melissa to her tutor as she slammed the door shut. She didn’t even care about whether she had gathered all her stuff or she was forgetting something important, for all she wanted was run away from that hellish house full of wicked people.

Even though she was still a teenager and did not certainly know how her life would unfold, Melissa perfectly knew what she didn’t want. Her childhood gave her the tools to grow up strong and fearless. As any gypsy family, hers was big enough to fill a small village. Dinner time was a whole banquet; her mother had to spend entire afternoons preparing meals for their offspring. However, life was delightful enough for Melissa to make the most of it.

There came hard times her family had to go through. Food was only available for the weakest and for the little children, and the leftovers for the rest. Travelling and trying new settlements was common currency, though it seemed impossible to make a living. Even though their father worked day and night and their mother took care of her children, Melissa and two of her older brothers had no choice but begin working from a very young age, otherwise, her five other little siblings would not survive poverty.

Under unhealthy conditions, relatives offered themselves to be in charge of the older kids until they were old enough, and so it happened. Melissa was made to leave her family for the sake of a better life. For all the promises about visiting them as many times as she wanted, she had never seen them again. Her new tutors, actually distant aunt and uncle, took her away from her own roots and went to live far away.

A couple of years went by; Melissa developed a knack for art, which became her means of expression… of channeling energy… of getting to know the person in her inner self. Nevertheless, even though her tutors knew quite well she was good at painting, more often than not, they made it impossible for her to develop her talent.

No sooner had Melissa reached a considerable age than she decided to leave and go back to her own roots… Lancon.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:21 am

*** Esmeralda, six months before hitting Cear ***

The flap, providing entrance to the brightly colored tent, was drawn back and a young girl, almost a woman now, stepped outside.
After stretching her legs and arms she deeply inhaled the fresh but bitterly cold air. Her sense of smell was more or less adapted to the pine scent by now, yet every time she left the tent after a good night sleep it was there, brief but there.
She clasped her hands together and started to blow on them in an attempt to warm them up before putting on her gloves.

Once more she observed the surroundings that merely formed one of the many places where they had made camp.
Last night the colorful tent city got covered with a knee high layer of snow, and many of her people were already outside freeing the entrances to their tents and campfires.
Esmeralda grinned as she was certain she wouldn’t have to do any laundry today. However, she also knew her parents would soon come up with an appropriate task if she stayed here too long.

She looked left and right before flipping a coin. With a lightning fast move of her left hand, she snatched the coin out of the air and slammed it on the back of her right. Slowly she lifted her hand, peeking at the outcome.
Carefully, making sure not to drop it in the powdery snow, she tucked her lucky coin in one of her upper pockets, close to her heart and searched for a path to her left side.

The girl was a lightweight, yet her feet sank deep in the loose snow. Muttering softly over the fact why the ‘Rom Baro’ and the ‘Phuri Dai’ didn’t choose a spot closer to a city, which Esmeralda would have preferred, she worked her way through the white freezing material.
Gulashir or even Morell would have looked attractive right now, but no... they had to pick this cold, in white covered forest next to a gigantic partly frozen inner sea to spend the winter. Which every day lead to additional work.

True, there were many helping hands as the families in their traveling community seemed to love having a lot of children. She giggled as she knew which actions resulted in getting babies.
Esmeralda sighed, why couldn’t they just have picked a warmer destination? She was not afraid from a bit of work, but in this cold, it was... paralyzing almost.
And all that huddling together against the numbing cold... well... it was the typical gypsy way of living.

People stood up for each other here, and if an outsider ever offended one of them, he would soon find himself surrounded by other members of their community, forcing him to take his words back.
No one was abandoned and everyone who needed care would notice people standing in line to help.
However ending up here was a direct consequence due the downside of this attitude.
The elder and weak ones needed to rest in time and required … attention.

Esmeralda sighed again, if she would only be free to do whatever she wants.
Without fully realizing it, she had taken her coin back and was playing with it between her fingers...

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:22 am

*** Tertia, Before Relocation ***

(By Rusalka)

There is a stone bridge between the Caer housing district and the Caer docks where the sound of guttering water sluicing down to either side masks the muted rumination of the outcast, the destitute and the mad. Its underside is difficult to access, the stair treacheous and slim, its denizens unpleasant, and the guards rarely bother to investigate unless feeling particularly zealous in their duties.

On this night the skies were clear, but a cold wind howled and moaned, blowing in from the ocean, and even the sleep of those in warmer beds was fitful.

A girl-shaped bundle of ragged blankets rolled over, kicking out one pale leg with a sleeping murmur. Another, considerably less girl-shaped bundle grunted and cursed, shifting further toward the wall. The wall, like most of the underside of the bridge and the hem of the girl's robe, was covered in an intricate map of occult symbols and arcane formula, scrawled in chalk. Some sections of it showed staggering complexity... other portions disintegrated into outright nonsense, made-up logic or unrecognizable and deeply disturbing heiroglyphics.

Even as the girl was slowly dragged from sleep she felt the rest of her mind already churning like a mill, grinding at it, forcing itself through the formula, the long problem, the riddle and ritual that was her whole life now. It wouldn't sit still, not even when she managed to sleep out there, driving her to complete it if it killed her. And it would kill her, because she couldn't sleep and barely ate and to be quite frankly perfectly honest living under a bridge sucked. But she couldn't let it go, couldn't tear it physically from her skull even if she'd wanted to.

You could never let go of a problem Tertia, she heard her father say.

"Shutup dad!" she muffled, face pressed into the cobblestone on which she slept. Someone nearby groaned, took a swig of something toxic with shaking hands and told her to go back to sleep or find another bridge or she'd get shanked. The wind sang, whistling chillingly through the open arch, and the rest of them curled up more tightly beneath what little shelter they had. Not her. She was standing, pacing, hand pressed against her head, her back aching from the bitterness of her slumber.

She would be so beautiful, pale and golden-haired, if she weren't streaked with dirt and dried sweat. At this point she still wore the rich gown of a student incantrix, now tattered and muddy from a transient's life, its vivid blue slowly turning to gray. Sometimes, between her endless calculation, she would look down at it, teasing the fine golden threads from its sleeves with wide eyes. Trying weakly to remember. Vaulted halls. Busy classrooms. Symbols on a blackboard. Star maps in the observatory.

She could still read the words on her bloodstained and crumpled identifying papers. DAATMOR, TERTIA ~ Incantrix, class F4, Divination ~ Special Distinction ~ Special assistant astronomy department.

Who was I? I know I was really smart. Really smart. I had a family and I was daddy's favorite and you can go to hell Secundus because you know I deserved that scholarship more than you.

Something had gone wrong and she didn't remember why. Too much of her brain was taken up with the problem now, and there wasn't enough left to do a whole lot of thinking or sleeping or remembering to put on pants. Something had gone horribly, terribly wrong with the universe.

It started with the dreams. She was sure of that. Unnatural visions of impossible places and times. She could hear voices from an unbearable distance, an endless stream of whispers from beyond that she could almost never quite discern. Sometimes she was sure she'd recognized a word, and she felt she would nearly die of fear. She would see things, hear things, and sometimes she could convince herself they weren't there and she was just going crazy, but a few days ago she'd finally forced herself to admit that some of the hideous things she was seeing were not imaginary. And the stars, oh, how she'd loved the stars, beautiful, pristine and mysterious, twinkling lanterns in the sky.

Not so much anymore.

Now when she looked at the one everyone called Lucid Dream she felt it pulling at her, beckoning like the moon beckoned the tides. When she looked at the blue star on the horizon, she heard a hideous atonal cacophony that felt like it should be music if only she could bear to understand it. It was all she could do not to throw up when she thought she was getting close.

...She didn't look at the red one. She never wanted to look at the red one again.

She dared to peek her head out from under the bridge, to look up and steal a glimpse at the night sky.

It was a sickening whirlpool of maddening color. A great and terrible eye bore down on her from its center, seven pupils squirming beneath its lens, a thousand tendrils pulsing sickeningly from its core, tracing the links between the constellations. It was looking at her. Only her.

Her stomach heaved, her mind rocked to one side, forsaking the Problem with a shrill scream, and she awoke with a start, truly this time, huddled as the wind howled outside the meager shelter that had been her home for weeks now. She clutched the threadbare blankets around her neck and whispered to herself. "No more," is what she said, trembling, hugging herself in a dense circle of chalked rituals and occult mathematics. "No more. No more."

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:22 am

*** Esmeralda, three months before hitting Cear ***

It was at the break of dawn, early birds were sharing their first songs whilst remaining hidden in the vegetation and the morning fog. Small creeks would soon be visited by all sorts of feathered populations.
The marshy terrain was about reveal its recent beauty as spring had also found its way to the trees here, giving birth to fresh flower buds and coloring the once so desolate surroundings again.

Hidden in the green, peeking between long grasses, a young woman was observing the area. Her clothes started to get drenched of lying down on the wet soil.
Not that it mattered to her as warm sunbeams would dry them soon enough. No, … she was hungry... pretty starving actually. Within the peace of the scenery she could hear her stomach growling, with moments it even seemed to overrule the melodies of her prey.

In her right hand she was holding a bow made out of osage, in her left was a shorter version of her usual arrows, perfect for shooting conditions like this though it lacked range.
While scanning the area for any potential food that might pop up, Esmeralda thought back at how she had left her family. Not that she had doubts or regrets... no, not at all. This time she didn’t even had to flip her coin for it. She had just taken off.

Deep inside she felt anger rising again, she felt... betrayed.
How could they do that? They were her parents! Somehow she always had assumed there would come a time that they would talk about it... but not like this. Never like this!
They just... ‘ordered’ it, well certainly after she rebelled by kicking over the table, sending dinner on a visit with the soil.
“You will marry Danio, Esmeralda!” Her father had yelled. He dared, oh, how he dared.
She knew she was right... and besides, that chap was really, really ugly. Red hair, white skin, greenish eyes... a shiver ran over her back as she recalled Danio.
Esmeralda had been sent to her tent, but the next day... she was gone.

She shook up out of her thoughts when suddenly a bird swooped down, almost in front of her. Her arrow was quickly in place and she took the time to aim, even though her prey was within grasp.
But she took no risk, and for a moment she was glad her stomach and mind seemed to reconcile with each other.
That gave her time to study her prey... and to be amazed.
Never in her life had she seen a bird like this. Was it due the mixed colors of the daybreak or was she just tired. Every time the bird changed position its feathers seemed to spread a different color, and it weren’t just shades or variations. No, the color palette varied from ocean blue, lime green to even carmine red. Even a peacock couldn’t compete to that.

Well, peacock or not, she was hungry. And the feathers might come in handy later...
Suddenly the peaceful environment was shook up by the soft snap of a released arrow, less than a second later followed by high pitched squeal.
Birds all over the place flew up in flocks, evacuating their shelter between the leaves and grasses, except for one...


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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:24 am

*** Monad ***

(By Rusalka)

A moment later, Tertia Daatmor was dead.

For a fleeting moment she was dimly aware of a shrill halfling's voice screaming in her ear, of the blank, sightless gaze of another Vagabond at her back.... and then she was gone. Her pallid, wiry girl's body lay crumpled on the floor of the Two Tales Theater, staring vacantly at the base of the stage, blood running from her lips, staining the multicolored feather in her buttonhole a deep, ichorous black



...Wait. Scratch that.


The problem with time is that once you've seen outside of it, it's hard to fit it back in its metaphorical box. Events get out of sequence. You lose your foundation. You have no concept of which way is up and suddenly every direction becomes down and you are falling in all of them. Try to explain this problem to people in the street and they either laugh or knock you out and drag you to the cells for the night. wrote:The problem with time is that once you've seen outside of it, it's hard to fit it back in its metaphorical box. Events get out of sequence. You lose your foundation. You have no concept of which way is up and suddenly every direction becomes down and you are falling in all of them. Try to explain this problem to people in the street and they either laugh or knock you out and drag you to the cells for the night.



No. She wasn't dead yet. She was blinking half in shock from thinking she was; baking in the midday Caer sun, staring at the iridescent, rainbow-hued feather in her hand, the thing strangely pristine beside her dirt-caked nails and cut skin.

She looked up at the grinning gypsy runaway who had put it there.

"You want me to live with you?"

The gypsy girl was kind to her, unrealistically good-looking and made little to no sense. Tertia had clearly hallucinated her and thus could take the offer at face value.

"Okay, sure, whatever."




And that was more or less how Tertia came to live in a disreputable inn on the Caer dockside in a room with three other young women, instead of under a bridge or a stormwater drain. It's also how said inn came to be plagued by a carpet of dense wall-to-floor matricies and occult histograms scrawled frantically in chalk, reports of furniture stolen from other rooms and later found stacked methodically in various places, and complaints from assorted ladies of the night that the crazy girl was driving off their business.

Despite the difficulties, they had got on well, only invading Tertia's limited space in order to force her into a bathtub every couple of days or subject her to some sort of pointless fashion experience.

Yyyyeah.

The gypsy girl (whatsername) was pushy. She had one of those blinding smiles nobody could say no to and an apparently bottomless appetite for coin, and she knew both of those things. She was an "actrice". Tertia hadn't figured out what actrices did, exactly, but she was pretty sure it ought to be illegal. Her friend (oh come on you can't remember one little name?) was more demure, the quiet, smoldering type who got what she wanted by looking at you from across a dark room. She painted and kept trying to encourage Tertia to use different colored chalk. The other one (Seriously. One name. Just one!) was some sort of pious, quasi-intellectual prude that Tertia hadn't bothered to try and figure out yet. She wore more clothing than the other two girls put together. Sometimes they did their own thing. And sometimes they had adventures.

Tertia went on those adventures too, but she wasn't really paying attention. She was sifting through the Problem, the calculation, the only thing that mattered. The only thing that was real. All the rest of this stuff was just distract--

PAIN

She recoiled into the wall, hand over her left eye, suddenly showered in goblin's blood. "OW! ESME, WATCH THE FREAKING BACKSWING"

You remembered her name, she thought, a twinge of warmth flooding the back of her mind despite the frantic circumstances. More shadows skittered across the dark corners of the tunnel, shrieking and clanging makeshift weapons against the rock. Daatmor's daughter lifted her hand and tore the matter and life out of another of the wizened little pests as it charged them with a rusty butcher's knife. Sending it to a place even the Gods couldn't see, and into the mouth of darkness.

Her most salient thought was that when this crap was over with they were going to try and give her another bath.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:25 am

*** Esmeralda - Acting ***

The old miserable looking dark elf in front of Esmeralda reminded her of something that happened a few months ago, just before she had arrived at Cear... and it made her hesitate … and doubt about this elf.

----------

“Yes master, my sister is very very ill... I had to leave her in order to look for work and pay for her treatment.” Her puppy eyes were focused on the somewhat fat man in front of her.

Esmeralda was growing desperate, her parents had finally send someone after her. Well, she knew it for a while, but right now she was feeling like a mouse cornered by a cat. Her many talents had helped her this far...moving from village to village... disguising, acting, hiding and now... cheating... it all contributed into succesfully disappearing in the mass, each time fooling the one who was chasing her. Oooh, he was good... sure, but she... she was much better.

Nevertheless, right now the only thing she needed was money. There was a ship waiting to leave over less than an hour and this man in front of her could be her only and maybe even last hope. She had just given him a very detailed situation about her 'sister'... well an imaginary sister off course. This man also knew her a little as she had been working for him since a few weeks, cleaning his house, taking care of the garden, delivering messages and he had been really sweet to her. And so had his wife.

She studied his facial expressions while maintaining hers as much as she could. Esmeralda was certain she could convince him, even though this story about her sister came sudden and unexpected. It was the first time he ever heard about 'her' sister.
Somewhere in her chest it struck her, the lie she was selling to him... he was a good guy probably. But she needed this ‘advance’ pay on her wage... in order to disappear again. And she didn’t want to steal money in a more directly way, not that she couldn’t, but the risk was just too high.

The man, who had been her employer in the past weeks smiled a bit. “Okay, okay Christine, I will help you... how much was it you say?”

Esmeralda faked a sigh,” One hundred master... I know... it is very much.” There, she did it again, lying... the trip costed only half but a bit of extra cash could always come in handy.

He turned around towards her, holding out a big bag.

She stepped forward but as she reached out for it, he lifted it a bit and looked at her with a smile. “Come back with us after you took care of your business. I think you have a few other talents I could really use in my business.” He dropped the bag in her hand. “Be safe …. Christine.”

Esmeralda blinked, “T-thank you master...thank you...” She turned around and left the merchant house as quick as she could. Did he just say he knew she lied to him? Did he see through her mask? Did he knew she was acting?

She rushed through the streets in the direction of the docks, towards the ship that was about to leave. Not much time to think about what she just did... her next stop would be … Cear. And this time she would be very far away from her pursuer...

----------

She blinked, perhaps the others were right, perhaps this dark elf was evil like Lachdanon claimed. Perhaps this dark elf was acting? That day she listened to her friend Melissa and took a distance from the dark elf... for now.
On the other hand, his entire appearance also reminded her of that other room mate of hers, Tertia. Esmeralda started to wonder if she acted or not...

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:25 am

*** Esmeralda - I wanna be... ***

The sun was shining in a pure blue sky, yet it brought so much color to this new beginning... spring had begun and along with it... her new life.
Esmeralda grinned, a whole new place... yes sir, she thought to herself. She didn’t even look back at the ship while going ashore.
Yep, Cear already looked different from Gulashir and yet the same. Right, exploring starts as from now!


A young looking man with a hat entered the Vissen tavern and walked straight to the bartender, taking place on a barstool.
“Oy... can I renta room fo t’night?”

The bartender gave the youngster an uninterested glance. With a sigh he wiped off the glass he was currently cleaning with rather filty towel and placed it on the bar... ready for the next customer.
“Iz tenz coinz foza week, youz ave thaz?”

The youngster grinned and with a clack he placed a pile of coins stacked on each other on the wood.
“Ya ‘ave som food too?”

The bartender shrugged but the sight of yellow shiny gold made him a bit more talkative.
“Wev gotz some frez meatz, breadz... booz... anotherz tenz foza zame week.”

Another clack preceded the sight of a second pile, and this time it even seemed to conjure a faint smile on the face of the bartender. The youngster jumped of the barstool and walked over the side.
“Key? And ‘eeh... can I book a perm’nent table?”

Before the bartender could open his mouth, another pile of gold just seemed to have materialized on the bar in front of him. He looked up at the youngster who grinned wide. “Anotha ten I’d take’it?”

This time the bartender even answered the grin and handed over a key. “Youz getz tza beztz table suu.”


The youngster jumped up the stairs with light, swift movements and quickly unlocked the door before slipping into the bedroom where he started to chuckle.

In front of the mirror he cleaned up his face with a fresh rag, leaving some sand particles in it. He took off his hat and long dark curly hair uncoiled itself, revealing the true identity of this person who was watching himself, or rather... herself in the mirror.

Esmeralda burst into laughter,” I can be what I want!”


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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:26 am

*** B(l)ack ***

Esmeralda stepped out of the Vissen tavern and inhaled the fresh air. She stretched her arms and raised them above her head before letting an relaxed sigh escaping from her lips.

She looked over her shoulder at the inn, a bit sad. Today she had closed the "Feather suite". No one was left, except for her. She shrugged and knew she had to move on. The Buck inn seemed okay, and besides... she had been lying to that guy who had helped her at the local library... telling him she stayed there.

Hm, perhaps he had already come to see her there. Somehow she felt a bit sorry for him, as he seemed to be a nice guy. Xander, she smiled... it was a nice name too.
She shrugged, it didn't matter, she never stuck around long at one place. That was just the nature of a gypsie.

Esmeralda decided to take a shortcut, and walked into an alley. Suddenly she heard someone behind her and got just in time to turn around and recognise the face of the man, but too late to avoid the hit of a club on her head. He was back, was her last thought, next... everything turned black.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:27 am

*** Peter ***

Esmeralda was staring in the darkness at the ceiling. Slowly but finally her headache was fading. She was safe thanks to fate and two men... or was it just only fate? Fate like she liked to determine herself by flipping her coin? She chuckled soft and to herself.
The establishment where she was staying was the Spirit of the Song inn, an thus far not yet opened inn, owned by a man she had met earlier and who had escorted her to the library some weeks ago, … Xander.
He was also one of the men who had freed her from Peter’s claws. The other guy was a limping wizard listening to the name Artemis... he was perhaps a bit grumpy but seemed for the rest okay. For some reason he had seen her to safety first before leaving her, so he had to be okay!
She pondered if she would let her coin decide that but changed her mind and kept staring at the ceiling.

Peter... her past had finally caught up on her. It wasn’t hard to forget that man as he was part of the ‘family’, but above all was known for training the young gypsies, showing them all kinds of tricks and the art of surviving the jungle... the city jungle that is.
A memory flickered in a dark corner of her mind.


"Again!" A slap from a long thin stick on her fingers as the bells rinkled.
She was fifteen and trying to steal a purse from a dressed doll. Parts of the clothing seemed decorated with small little bells, but they were more than just a simple decoration. They were warning bells and rinkled everytime she made an error, approaching or opening the pockets in the wrong way.
They rinkled, "Again!" Another slap on her fingers.
She growled and looked at the man who had just introduced himself as Peter.


Esme never liked the guy and she had guessed damn right he was the one who was after her. Not only that, he had also hired help, which explained how fast he had caught up on her.
She was good... but he was... better. She growled, ... not for long, she promised herself.
For a moment she wondered if she could deal with the cause... the reason why he was after her.
Her parents... it seemed they wanted her back no matter the cost. She rubbed the side of her head, yea right, no matter the cost, her head felt as if she had been drinking for three damn straight days in a row.

Peter... she chuckled, softly this time in order to avoid pain in her head, when she recalled the story her two rescuers had told her. Right now he was probably still sleeping in a poor house somewhere near the docks where she had been held captive. It was pure coincidence the two men had found her... but she still had to hear their story why they had entered that building. It was also thanks to a letter Xander had found in the house, a letter with her name in it, that had made him more suspicious over the only locked door in the house, magically locked.
It turned out even more hilarious when she heard how Xander and Artemis, who both had been invisible, took over Peter’s mind and ordered him to open it.
She giggled, well, he hadn’t SEEN that one coming... the so called master of all tricks, poor bastard. She almost felt pity for what he would discover when he woke up. She was free!

Her mind shifted back to one of her rescuers, Xander. She had remembered he was looking for people to help at the inn. Well, she would repay him. He had also offered but not forced her to stick around, as this was for now the best place to hide.
And Artemis had a hell of an idea how to set Peter on the wrong foot and sending him away to … Ravenswatch. Xander would also help out, or one of his many friends.

Esme suddenly turned a bit sad... she hadn’t made many friends yet... and the few she had seemed to have left the Feather Suite and the city. She had been rather alone thus far. And she knew she did it on purpose, as an act of selfpreservation, like some animals did in the jungle... only... this was a city jungle and the rules were different from the ones outside the walls.

She glanced sideways, at her pink clothes in the dim light... and grinned just before she started to write on a short advertisement meant for the Cearian Star.



A few days later, a hooded lady in a bright pink clothes was seen near Thrall’s gate, heading in the direction of Two Bridges.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:27 am

*** Lucky coin ***

Holding it between two fingers, she studied her coin thoroughly. Right now with how her life around Cear had evolved, she was wondering if she without it would have met the people and seen the things she had seen thus far.
Her lips curved into a smile as she remembered how she had found this coin and how it had saved her life.

................................

The fourteen year old girl had taken off for a little "trip" on her own initiative. But not without a days supplies and her small sword. Right now the gypsy camp was located near Gulashir. A few hours before they had arrived at their current location, Esmeralda had spotted an old watchtower build on a rocky hill near the water.
For some unknown reason she had felt attracted to it and already had been making plans to visit that place some day. It was probably the view that she could get when on top of it, giving her clear overview of the surroundings, but especially the sea. Life on land was sometimes so boring, well at least if she couldn't do what she wanted.

Great, now only to find the way back. It wasn't light yet when she left her parent's tent. Some hours later and with the sun coming up from behind, she could finally perceive the contours of the tower standing in the dissolving morning fog.
She moved around its flanks, hidden behind the rocks, observing to make sure it was abandoned.
After an hour it was enough, Esmeralda climbed up the hill and made her way through the entrance.

Inside the tower she looked around... ruinous, thats what one could call it, even more on the inside than on the outside. She pouted as she saw the stairs. Some parts had been made out of wood and by the burned looks of it she assumed it had been set on fire once. Black patches and spots on the inner walls confirmed that.
But it also meant she would have to make a few jumps, avoiding the wooden construction as good as she could.
Well... she was up for it.

All went well, until she made her thirth jump... about two, maybe even three storages high. The moment she had landed her foot had slipped and immediately found herself being pulled down by the ever-present gravity. Two hands had clasped on the edge of the broken stairs, the weight of her body putting the strength in her fingers and hands to proof. Falling down seemed inevitable.
Right now she was afraid, knowing that the fall would mean her death. Even when not breaking her neck, she could always break her legs and starve to death... since no one knew where she had gone.

There was no room for crying, it all had happened so fast. Her eyes were desperately looking up and down, searching for a way to avoid her terrible fate.
And there it was, behind her about five feet lower on a piece of debris sticking out of the black tattered wall. Shining, thanks to a ray of sunlight falling right on it. And if she wouldn't have seen that, she wouldn't have found the black rope hanging right under it, almost invisible against the black wall.

It only required guts now, perhaps this could be her final jump... if she missed. Well, right now it seemed better to determine the moment of falling herself instead of waiting until her fingers couldn't hold any longer.
She took a deep breath, and with one hand pushing herself off from the edge, she made her body twist in the air while falling... her arms and hands reaching out for the rope.

The smooth skin of her hands slipped over the rope, and it felt as if her hands were on fire, but she didn't give up... simultanously with a cry escaping from her lips, her body halted with a shock. She was no longer falling down.
Tears formed in her eyes as she bit her lip. She would survive as the rope ended only six feet about the ground.
Curiously she looked up and despite the wounds on her hands she decided to climb up and see what the shiny object could have been.

..........................................

Esmeralda smiled a bit as she tucked the "shiny object" safely away in one of her pockets. That day she had found her coin. And it had been such a lucky day she barely could remember her punishment.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:28 am

*** I don’t care ***


As Esmeralda stepped out of the Two Bridges inn, she took a deep breath. Staying out of Peter’s hands by any means necessary? Damn straight! With this guy she needed every trick in the book... and more if she didn’t want to end up as the bride of some redheaded pale whippersnapper!

Esmeralda remembered the first time AND immediately the last time her parents had talked about the deal they made. And how she had sent dinner over the floor...


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Her father and mother looked serious. “Es, we have some good news.”

“Oh, what’sup daddy?” the young girl said, now with a curious look and a smile just before taking a bite from her beef.

Her father smiled and nodded to her mother who started,” Es, we want to make sure you have a happy life, even when we are no longer around.”

“Mom, don start tal’kin like ya gonna die.” Esmeralda rolled her eyes and sighed, “ You’re not that old.”

Her father chuckled and her mother smiled,” No, I guess we are ok, still... things can happen and we’re not that young either.”

Esmeralda was only child and her mother had given birth to her at the age of almost fourty. Her father had been even older at the time of her birth.
She studied both her parents briefly. Her father’s hair and beard was fully grey and her mother was coloring her hair for quite some time now.
She sighed,” Okay, ’sup?”

Her mother glanced to her husband before looking back at Esmeralda,” We have made a decision for your marriage.”

Esmeralda blinked, her lips parting and closing. Among her people it was common that girls were married off but... she’d expected they would have consulted her first. That was the least...
She narrowed her eyes,” Decision?”

Her father immediately recognised his daughter’s expression. Storm was coming by the looks of it and knowing his child’s temperament... for it was the same as her mother’s...

Esme’s mother nodded, as if not noticing the signs,” His parents are well known and respected and this young man has much to offer to you.”

Esme’s tanned skin turned pale,” Not him!”

Her father rolled his eyes, there you had it. But before he could open his mouth, his wife already gave her answer.

“Yes, HIM. He’s the best choice.” Her voice had sounded fairly calm.

“But he’s … he’s...”

“He’s what, my dear Es?” Her mother asked, eyes narrowing now.

“He’s UGLY !” Esmeralda grimaced.

Her mother got up,” Young girl, you will take those words back, now!”

“No! And why didn’t you ask me first? There are other boys I may like!”

“Es, you knew this would be coming one day. Your father and I also love each other. When you and Danio...”

“THE HELL I WON’T,” Esmeralda practically growled.

This time her father got up too,” Es, calm down now.”

Her eyes widened in disbelief,” WHAT, YOU TOO?!”

“Es, you being angry doesn’t get us anywhere...”

“I DON’T CARE ! YOU BETRAYED ME !!”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


And so they had sent Peter after her, a cat and mouse game that was going on for quite some time now.
She glanced over her shoulder at the closing door of the inn. But she just may have lost an ‘ally’ in this matter.
Peter had returned from Ravenswatch faster than Esmeralda had expected. She had noticed him again, after she got rescued by Xander and Artemis. The first time after that was on the Masked Ball and later around Cear and Two Bridges.

Rhathir... just happened to be in the area... and had been her ticket out.
Esmeralda stared at the door, as surprisingly enough he had been... interesting. Interesting to such an extent she even returned to Thralls only a week later to “bump” into him on a trip to Aucklorn. She giggled, and where she had seen his nude butt, just before saving it from a greedy water nymph. But now... after... she shook her head.


Esmeralda realised Peter would never give up. It was hard to hoodwink a snake once it has its eyes locked onto its prey.
She giggled, though a bit nervously, as she was about to use his own talent against him, once more.
Keeping the snake occupied, she chuckled by this thought. Soon Peter would rather look like a donkey out for more carrots.

She still didn’t want to hurt him, well at least not too much. But she would have her fun as this was turning into a game, one with high stakes for her though, so wasn’t she at least entitled to some laughing? For some wicked reason, she practically started to love it.

She even came up with a main theme for this game... ‘Scandals’ !
Oh boy, Peter was about to have a hard time! He would at least catch some flak whilst snooping around looking for her.
Hiding? Esmeralda chuckled loud now. Not anymore, she would be visible, everywhere at once.

Whilst she started disguising herself, a disguise Peter would recognise from before... hopefully,... her thoughts went to someone special. Someone to whom she just had to tell what she was up to. And one of the few for who she actually cared...

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:29 am

*** Fox ***

Esme lifted up her head from the pillow once more, looking at the man in the corner of the darkened room, but where was just enough light to see a smile on his face. He would watch over her, guard her... safe... she felt safe.
She turned on her side, wrapping the blanket around her and closed her eyes. It wouldn’t take long to catch sleep as in the previous weeks she slept only with moments.


This game was starting to get very tiresome and nerve-racking, and not only that... it had prevented her from seeing her boyfriend... the courteous man who was right now sitting in the corner of the inn room.
Her mind quickly ran through their conversation of earlier. He had offered her to stand together against Peter.

Peter, that... … she grumbled. She knew he didn’t really want to hurt her, even though he gave her the feeling he hated her. But no, he was just working for her parents.

Her mind went back to something that happened last week... when he caught her, well... almost caught her.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


No disguise seemed perfect to mislead an expert, and certainly not when it was one she already used before.

A hooded woman dressed in the green-brown comfortable clothes of a ranger stood near the bar, facing the bartender and a half empty glass in front of her. Her outfit was rather common, certainly around these parts of land, not far from the woods.

The Ravenswatch inn was nearly deserted though since a few days, and perhaps that may have caused him to find her here more easily.

She could hear a pair of boots stopping on a creaky floorboard, not far behind her back. The voice sounded smooth and well-pleased,” Hello, Fox.”

Despite the fact her lips had just formed the words of what could be the new mother of all curses, Esmeralda slowly turned around and put on a face as if she was actually expecting him, as if it even was HER intention that he would find her here. To reinforce her expression even further, she said,” Finally, what took you so long... Snake?”
Meanwhile she glanced around only to decide there was a fat chance he came alone. His buddies probably blocked the exits on the outside.

Peter chuckled softly but coldly and lowered his hood, revealing several bruises in his face.

“Ow, now I see why you got hung up.” she said with a smirk.

“Funny... Fox, very funny.” His eyes cold on hers.

Nevertheless, she answered him with her sweetest and cutest smile,” What? You don’t like jokes now do you? For your information, I don’t like it being hunted all the time.” She leaned backwards against the bar, her elbows resting on the tablet, her fingers of her left hand not far from a few hidden surprises, and the ones of her right playing with a coin.

He took one step closer, the distance now between them nothing more but a huge jump. The woman in front of him didn’t move, well except for the fingers between which the ubiquitous coin was appearing and disappearing. “Seems your luck finally ran out on you” he said.

He was just ‘answering’ her bluff. Esmeralda kept her smile. “It seems to me you had less luck,” she says as she pointed at his face.

He grinned,” I wonder how you will react when you hear a few of your friends are not able to smile anymore like that.” He pointed at her face and laughed when he saw how she became a bit pale.

Esmeralda narrowed her eyes,” I don’t have friends here...”

Peter chuckled,” Still, don’t you feel responsible for the fate of others, that things happened to them as a result of your actions? Esmeee, Esmeeee .. tsk tsk...”

“You are bluffing...” she only said.

He smirked,“ So are you, my pretty Fox.”

Esmeralda only glanced at her nails, as if the dirt under them was more important than the man in front of her.

He continued,” I really like your attitude and expressions... you play our game really good.”

She glanced up, “It seems you love it since you keep playing it... didn’t you have enough bad luck already?”

Another step closer, but only a small one. Peter was uncertain and cautious. Good.
“Careful now, see that you don’t step on that wire...” she started with a serious expression.

He glanced down, and more than that she didn’t needed. When he looked up, only a second later, he could only see her fall back into the shadows.
Peter grinned,” Disappear all you want, but you won’t get out of here, little Fox.”

He turned around, walked over to a round table and took a seat, leaning backwards with his hands behind his neck, whistling a happy tune.

Esme saw and heard it. Boy, she was eager to wipe of that smile off his face. She looked over her shoulders and saw two men blocking the hall towards the stairs and side exit. The other exits were probably guarded on the outside.
Peter wasn’t bluffing, but she was. Right now she also started wondering why her parents bothered so much... this operation of catching her had become rather expensive. At some point she had always believed they would give up due money issues... but Peter worked for free.

She shook her head, enough of all that thinking, she needed a way out. Esmeralda glanced back at Peter who was cheering himself up while leaning backwards.
She narrowed her eyes at him... her plan would be soooo easy.

Suddenly one of the legs of the chair on which Peter was sitting, got kicked making him fall on his back.
“You’re getting sloppy, Snake,” she said as she appeared kneeling next to him, with her dagger on his throat.
Right, and that alarmed the innkeeper who duck behind his bar. The few other guests still hadn’t fully realised what happened and already were looking away again when they saw how the young girl helped the man up.

The dagger’s tip had moved from his throat to his back, Esme pressed it gently but enough to let him feel its sharpness.
“You think I wouldn’t dare? Now move,” she hissed while pushing him in the direction of the stairs.

“Stand down men,” was all what Peter said, making the two men to step aside.

“Up you go,” she said near his ear, her arm around him as if they were a couple.

After they moved up the stairs, Esmeralda unlocked her room. For a moment she pondered but decided that nothing of interest would be left behind. She kicked him in and slammed the door behind him, quickly locking it.

Peter immediately banged on the door with his fists, his voice barely muffled through the thick wooden door. “You’re making a big mistake, Fox !! I’ll have you personally for this one!!”

Esmeralda glanced to her right, just in time to see the two men who were earlier blocking the way up, running towards her.

Without any further thoughts she ran to the left, passed an open door and threw herself out of a window, her atletic body practically diving, making a roll in the air and ending on the streets in perfection.

She glanced up at the window where two faces appeared and mumbled to herself,” Close one...,” just before disappearing in the night.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Two days she had been busy setting out a fake trail and spreading wrong information, in an attempt to make Peter believe she had traveled to Morell.


She glanced over her shoulder in his direction, he may perhaps have a questioning look when he saw her looking at him, but only offered her a smile.

Three days ago she had left notes at several places for him and yesterday he had finally found her. It had been weeks... Esme gave him a warm smile before turning her head again and closing her eyes... almost falling asleep... but not before picturing him once more, in her mind this time.

The dark hair, the blue eyes... his person displaying remarkable sangfroid when others were panicking during a crisis, while wielding those two blades of him with a high degree of efficiency.

His smile and the way he laughed only added to her feelings for him.


She softly whispered his name in her sleep,” Maliker.”


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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:31 am

*** Versus ***

(older story)

For one evening no hiding, no running... just a wonderful night but which ended way too soon. Esmeralda sighed, her heart was still going a bit crazy, although she couldn’t come up with a specific reason for that. Well, it was one of the first times she wore a dress... and partially designed by herself.

A surpise for two men...

Along with her boyfriend she had visited 'The Spirit of Song Inn' at the Empress Court, … Xander’s place.


After introducing Maliker to her boss, they had a drink while she was freshing up.
Back in the bedroom she was allowed to use once in a while, she couldn’t help it but to compare them with each other. They were so different and yet she liked them both. Her dark-haired boyfriend was more the silent type, while Xander was rather talkative. Maliker had a thrilling shady but also, when poked, a passionate side, while she suspected Xander could be really romantic and open. Maliker seemed to love laughing, while Xander seemed not too shy to do something funny. She still had to giggle when she recalled how Xander had acted a few days before at Thralls gate.

But they also shared some similarities. Both were courteous in their own way. For instance, Xander didn’t even glance when she took a bath, while her boyfriend, Maliker, wouldn’t touch her unless she started to tease him a bit. A form of respect towards women, towards her? She didn’t know but she liked and appreciated it.
... up to some point ...

Walking in the direction of Two Bridges, she suddenly stopped. “Stop Esmeralda, stop right now.” she said to herself.
For a moment she wondered why she was comparing them... well probably because... because she liked them both... because they were her only friends? She shook her head and continued on the path towards Thralls, a smile starting to decorate her face when she recalled how she and Maliker had been dancing on a rooftop. Now that had been exciting!
A chuckle escaped from her lips,” And he said he couldn’t dance!” she said to herself.

For a moment she wondered how good Xander was, just before slapping her cheek softly,” Stop it Es!” her other cheek for some mysterious reason also turning red.

She grinned... while recalling a nice fragment of her past... she must have been thirteen or fourteen...


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The party was about to begin, music had started to play and the place would look awesome with all the colorful lights once it was dark. More and more people in motley clothing started to show up, the smell of grilled meat in the air...

She was nervous, it was only a matter of time...

-
An hour later she stood close to where the bards were performing, enjoying the music and clapping in her hands.

She smiled at one of the singers before turning around and spotting someone who had approached her, a flower in his hand.

“Care for a dance, milady?” the boy in front of her said while bowing.

She giggled behind her hand, just before offering him her left. “It would be my pleasure, David...,” she started but stopped when she noticed the other boy behind her who had simultanously tapped on her shoulder.
Esmeralda blinked first but then answered the grin of the one standing behind her,” … Ow hey Jason...” she said a bit shy while her hand was taken by David’s.

Jason casted a smile at her but it faded when his eyes shifted to David. “Hey Es,” he said while his eyes remained locked on David.
Esmeralda noticed now Jason was also holding a flower...

Both boys were sons of an adjacent gypsy camp. For this summer both communities had agreed to travel together through these wild lands, the greater group now discouraging any passers who considered a career as road robbers.

David was a tall and rather slender boy of fifteen, with long brown hair and a friendly face with warm dark eyes, while Jason, about the same age, was like a blond god, a bit shorter, lightly muscled and a charming smile.
David seemed a boy with who she could talk well, while Jason was fun all over when she wanted to do something so.

And now she had the feeling she had to pick, as both boys were asking for her attention.
Which one to pick, which one to pick...

Esmeralda giggled, took a hand of each of them and said,” I guess we’ll just have to dance with the three of us together...”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


A faint grin appeared on her face as she recalled how the boys had reacted to that... suddenly they were so courteous towards each other and they even seemed to stumble over each other to let the other one have the first dance.

She stopped walking again for a moment as she realised something about that time. If she would have made a choice back then it could have been from that point something... ‘permanent’ for one boy... and devastating for the other...

Es shivered. She didn’t care for a number of things but this...
She quickly shook her head, why was she thinking about this now... it was something completely different... right?

She shrugged and quickly moved on, not fully able putting a stop to her mind.
“... When did life suddenly grew so serious?” she half mumbled under her breath.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:32 am

*** Eighteen ***

In the eternal darkness of the Cearian sewage systeem, with only here and there a beam of light with the thickness of a slender finger, piercing through the miasma of relatively warm wastewater, a woman crouched, leaning with her back and head against the wall.

Image

The clothes she was wearing made her almost invisible, even though she also had the ability to ‘play with the shadows’. Her eyes were closed while a few fingers were absently playing with a dark curly tress, twisting it from time to time around her forefinger.

Every sane person knows that the circumstances in the sewer can be foul and deadly, with offal, sometimes a body, and vermin constant companions, but also the madness of the darkness which can become almost too much to bear if one were too long in it.

She was just finished with charting this section of the sewers. Next time Peter popped up, she would lead him in here and serve him a few surprises. To him it would look like she really had no choice but to run in here and since she was really good in the acting stuff… yes... the Fox would beat the Snake.

Esmeralda nodded a bit to herself.

She glanced at the water in the darkness. Of course there was a reason to all this… and perhaps with it also another way to get rid of these unremitting and tiresome chases.

Xander…

It was because of him she wanted to stay in Cear, needless to say why…, and since he owned an inn here, this city was more or less the reason they would stay here, and so she.

It also entailed a few other things...

For whole her life she has been a vagabond, traveling around and never trusted many people… well except her own people and considering even that after what her parents did… she simply didn’t make any real friends. Like she didn’t allow it. With Xander that more or less changed. Friend, boss and now even lover, heck..., the man even has no idea what he has opened within her. Considerations...

Reina for instance. Esme even left her coin behind when she approached her last time, and for once acted normal, or at least how she really is.
And when she heard Reina’s story, she even felt a bit sorry for her, but there was more. She even found a purpose, cheering this person up and discovered a hint of friendship. They even talked a bit about their past… not an easy thing for herself as she never did trust many people thus far.

Another was to end Peter’s hunt permanently. A few days ago she had suggested Xander to travel back to her parents… with him at her side and show them she would only be happy with him. The things Xander said to that were just heartwarming. About what he would do once they got there. It was more than just support, he had shown her his love for her.

She would settle down...

In the darkness just below the streets of Cear, while listening to the sound of what could go through for a flowing stream, with now and then wastewater coming out of the pipes, and without anyone knowing it, a girl turned eighteen.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:32 am

*** The inn ***

She stared in the darkness of her room… a certain guilt and sadness had taken place in her heart. Not… something that happened a lot to her.
Perhaps it was now there because someone who she really loved was involved. She couldn’t be there for him and it struck her deep… she who rather cared less in life, or at least had managed to take things lightly most of the times.

Games, tricks, playing, acting… all her middle name. Even the fact she was hunted had been fun and interesting on occassions. What else did she had to do, go sit crying and whining?
No, except now the hunting thing prevented her from being there for him. Peter had found her near Cear and like all other times, she got away.
But she knew he would be around for a while, and until this thing with her parents wasn’t cleared out, she had no choice but to hide.

She would let Xander know though. Her hands brushed over her face as if it could help her to come with ways how to tell him. She imagined how he then would look at her with slightly sad eyes, telling her it was alright. She imagined how he would offer her a safe place, and a kiss on the forehead...

...she tried not to imagine how it would be here, without her… but oh well, ... who the hell would care...,
she wrapped her arms around her knees as the answer struck her,
... she would.

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:33 am

*** Damn ***

Esmeralda entered their room at the inn in Ravenswatch. Empty...

She turned around to Daenir and pulled him close in a hug. They stood there in silence for a while, both with probably one thought on their mind.

Xander...

Then she held Daenir at arm's length and spoke a few reassuring words before tucking him in for the night. She left the room quietly and went downstairs again for a drink, her eyes and ears open for Xander's return from Reina’s and Garet's place.

Damn you...

It still echoed in her mind.
He was going away after the inn opened, and he was leaving her behind.


She shook her head. No Esme, he is not... and he counts on you to take care of Daenir and the inn. He's very skilled for that mission and therefore needed. Just like you are for Daenir now.


But he promised after last time he disappeared! He would take me on his next 'trip'!! Besides I am skilled too! And I don't care how many pretty girls will accompany him on it, I trust him... but I just want to be at his side... just in case things go wro...


Get a grip on yourself girl, nothing will go wrong and Xander is at Phelan's side. He's safe. And your earlier behavior was almost if not pathetic! What will he think of you now... psshhh, ...saying you want to give yourself to him. Esme, Esme... patience like always, girl. He told you he would come with you to see your parents at the gypsy camp near Morell. But right now, his mission and the time you have left with him is more important.


She sighed, was she really a selfish little girl? She grinned a bit. Wel, she sure could act like one. And even silly girls in love should keep it together. Besides, her nickname was Fox and that was not without reason… perhaps she would come up with something by the time he left.

At least she would be close when Xander’s inn opened, albeit ‘hidden’ in the kitchen next to the new cook Fiona and her son Garet.

The door of the inn opened and Esmeralda glanced at the entrace… it wasn’t him.

Damn you, Xander...

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:35 am

*** Plans ***

After another inspection, she placed the dark leather backpack in the secret compartment, directly under the lowest shelf of the old bookcase.
There was no sign of regret, not the slightest hesitation in her actions while the shelf was closed with a firm click and books were set back in the same order.

She had played it well. Right now people thought she changed her mind about following Xander. The show with her coin had been perfect, yet she was surprised to see how that side of her coin favored her personal choice.

She had lied yes, lied about the outcome of the coin… and lied about staying home. But she hadn’t lied about her feelings, and the coin was with her.
Esmeralda left their bedroom.

Now she only had to find someone to watch over Daenir… and the first person that came up in her mind lived in Ravenswatch.
With the opening of the inn cancelled, it was uncertain how much time she had left. Preparing another bag she decided to travel to Ravens and back very quickly, since as of now… her eyes would be on Xander all the time.

After all, the postphoning could mean other plans might be rescheduled as well.

And she would be there, waiting patiently in the shadows, without disturbing him, letting him do his work while being close. Should he ever find out, he couldn’t blame her for doing so, he couldn’t blame her for the fact she wanted to be close to what was important for her.
With all do respect, but this inn… this place, it all meant nothing if he wasn’t around anymore.

He might leave you for that…

Esmeralda shook her head, and turned the coin in her hand to its other side,” That would mean he doesn’t know what love is… and believe me, he knows.”

But Daenir is important too…

She sighed,” Daenir will be safe and yes, he will miss me and Xander… but we will make it back, both of us...”

Xander trusts you…

A bit irritated the dark haired girl shook her head,” And I trust him, it’s not because I am selfish or anything. Blast, I mean well!” With her thumb she kept flipping the coin in the palm of her hand, a bit agitated. “He too did things behind my back! And he did it for the same bloody reasons as I am doing now, so SHUT UP and leave me alone!”

She looked down at the coin in her hand. Everything turned silent.

Then she flipped it...



Last edited by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:42 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:36 am

*** Deceived ***

Esmeralda just felt it, someone was following her, someone who didn’t want to be seen. The road in front of her towards Two Bridges was empty, the sun slowy descending and about to disappear behind the hill.
She could slip into the shadows, or even make herself invisible, but she was curious and would attempt to lead her chaser into some situation that would reveal him... or her.

All that looking over her shoulder made her miss what suddenly happened in front of her. Four men dressed in dark clothes stepped out of the bushes, the tallest of them walking towards the middle of the road and awaiting the dark haired woman with his arms crossed.

Trapped…. that is all what she could think. And all part of some plan too probably, one hunting her and driving her into the arms of fellow ambushers. She could perfectly imagine they were up to no good.
Good thing she wasn’t a scared little girl and!... she had enough tricks up her sleeve.

“Ait boyz, we got ourselvez a beauty thiz time,” the tall guy said glancing over his shoulder at his grinning comrades,” Whoz turn waz it to go fuuzt?”

Esmeralda stopped, a coin as if by magic, appeared between the fingers of her right hand. She rolled it across her knuckles and said,” Ya feel lucky … ‘boyz’ ?”
There was simply no trace of fear on her small beautiful face.

The spokesman smirked,” Yar one of thoze eey?” With a snap of his fingers, three more men stepped out of the bushes at the side of the road.

Right, that was less fortunate. Seven men plus the ones that have been tailing her since Tristan.
Time to flip her coin.

The tall man chuckled and said,” Are ya deciding who goez fuuzt eey?” His comment was immediately followed by laughter.

Esmeralda, all actress now, giggled as they laughed,” Noooo…. I’m ‘deciding’ who I will kill first.”

The group of thugs fell silent and several guys looked at each other. Their leader raised a brow and then shrugged before he said,” Ya know we’ll kill ya too. But if ya come with uz, ya juzt will ave a good time, aye?”

Suddenly a calm and familiar voice sounded behind her,” Leave her alone.”

Esmeralda turned around, just to confirm… and saw him… Peter.

The ‘Snake’ was standing not far behind her with two small crossbows, one in each hand, the points of the bolts aimed at the leader of the group,” How about you die first?”

Esmeralda blinked and then glanced at the bandit leader who said,” Eey, whatz thiz, tha girlie haz a boyfrind?”

Peter replied,” No, she has a husband-to-be, and I’m protecting her from getting… damaged,” he said it while his eyes shifted to Esme,” Right… Fox?”

For a moment all kinds of thoughts raced through her mind.. Would she pick a side, go along with one of the parties and see from there what would be next she could do? Or would she act independently from the start? She assessed several possible situations and outcomes only in a matter of seconds while she looked between Peter and the leader of the gang.
She could flip her coin again too, but that was too soon, she didn’t want her luck to run out. And besides, her coin already had decided before Peter showed up.

Standing with her back to the leader, she offered Peter a smile while she drew a dagger,” I could ‘damage’ myself, Peter. As you know I’m eighteen now and perfectly capable of making decisions on my own. Of course, I could decide to…” and suddenly, almost as quickly as lighting she turned around,”... damage someone else!”

Before anyone, even Peter realised, the dagger was in the leader’s chest and made him drop on his knees.

Using the element of suprise, Esmeralda leaped forward drawing her sword and striking another man in the stummick. She didn’t stop though and ran off in the direction of Two Bridges.

“Son of a !!” the men behind her yelled and she knew they came behind her. She only wondered if some would stay behind to deal with Peter.


The road below her blurred as she felt a surge of adrenaline. Forcing her legs to push even harder, she kept her sprint. Esmeralda rounded another turn in the road and realised that despite her efforts, the men were catching up on her. After a few more minutes her breathing hitched in her throat, making her already screaming lungs just about to burst. A bit longer and she wouldn’t even have the energy to defend herself when it came to that.
And she was convinced it would happen…

The cool evening air clearing her head, Esmeralda decided it was time to use one of her melodies. But first she needed a second to catch her breath.

In the middle of the road, the young girl stopped and turned around to await her pursuers. Less than thirty seconds later two men appeared, slowing down when they saw her. Ten seconds later the remaining three showed up.

She frowned, no sign of Peter. Was there a chance they… ? Then she shook her head as that was something she could find out later.

A soft melody escaped her lips and a few of the bandits tilted their heads, listening. Esmeralda’s music was soft, yet crystal clear, and it compelled the men to lower their swords. She witnessed how her song affected each and everyone of them.

Right, this would give her a minute, maybe two before they would realise and come after her. There was also a chance they would doubt the direction she had chosen.
Two Bridges wasn’t far anymore and she could hide in the temple of Peralia if necessary.




Ten minutes later she could see the first bridge, and no sign of her pursuers. Right, perhaps…

“Esme?”

The former gypsy girl froze, Peter… She stopped and turned around.

“You alright?”

Her hand was near her blade and she scanned the area behind him,” Where are they?”

He grinned,” Dead of course, it was easy to kill them.”

“Euhm… and you left their bodies on the road?”

Peter glanced over his shoulder,” Hm, you are right… ,” his intelligent eyes shifted back to her,” If someone recognized you, or perhaps later on… its better they disappear.”

Esme frowned, there was always a chance, and dead people were hard to interrogate. But she wasn’t a criminal, they were.

“I’ll help you out, lets go back and gimme a hand. And perhaps we can talk a bit while we are at it.”

Alarm bells started ringing in her head. Of course she didn’t trust Peter. But this situation was odd. The way he talked…

“Esme! Wake up girl, or have you forgotten everything I learned you? Don’t disappointment me now. Let’s go clean up there.”

“Heh, you trained me well, and I don’t trust you even if my coin would say so.”

Peter nodded with his head, almost unnoticed… but she saw it and she was just in time to see movement in the bush next to her. Two men… and she recognised them.

“You son of a... !!!” she yelled, but she also didn’t hesitate to turn her voice in some scream that made even Peter wince.
Esmeralda jumped forward and knocked the two men out with the flat side of her sword.

No idea where the rest of the gang was, she performed a string of backflips, leaping back out of combat… only to… almost end in Peter’s hands, almost.
The moment she felt his arms going around her waist, she countered his attack with a backward headbutt. The sound of his nose breaking was satisfying.

Only one problem though, it wasn’t the first time Peter broke his nose and he recovered quickly. As soon as she escaped his grasp he came after her and slowly caught up on her.

Thrall’s gate came in sight, but she knew she wouldn’t make it with Peter right behind her. She stopped and turned around with her blade ready to defend herself. Her other hand reached for a dagger.

“Alright, son of a bitch! Come and get me! Let’s see what you teached me and what I have learned myself. You sniffer, you…,” she switched to Cuhannan and lashed out with her tongue, losing all control over it,” … you overrated semen bollock, you inbred llama testicle plonker,...”
Esmeralda was all anger, her nostrils flaring, her eyes were flashing and closing into slits. More slurring words that were unintelligible came spewing into space like a volcano releasing its pent up emotions into the sky.

“ESMERALDA !!” Peter clenched his fist around his weapon,” THAT IS ENOUGH !! You worthless low-life bitch ! Your ‘kind’ words won’t hurt me, you keep forgetting I thaught you most of those and you know why ! But you are not taunting me, stupid whore !”

“Oh yea?” the girl bravely replied,” Perhaps I can teach you a new one… go suck your mother.”

And that was probably the worst thing she could say, striking the man in his gypsy honor. Therefore, his attack was not entirely unexpected, and she was able to defend herself.

“I’ll teach you, you ungrateful wench !”

His words were followed by a series of blows and Esme knew Peter was better than her, but at some point she got unfortunate and lucky at the same time.
When he closed in on her she could feel how his blade sliced over her belly. The pain came only a moment later, -after- she disarmed Peter by sticking her dagger in his hand.
Next he found her knee in his manhood and went down.

Esmeralda used the few seconds to steal his blade and made herself invisible.




What happened next all turned vague. She recalled stealing a horse near Thralls and escaping to Cear where Xander found her and healed her wounds with his magic before putting her in bed.

The next morning she could recall some of it though. Xander would go see her parents and would be preparing for a possible confrontation with the other gypsy clan.
Esme turned over to her side, she was scared. Something that rarely happened to her. But it was more because of him than for herself.

After all, yesterday he kinda had asked her officially and she only had had one answer to that. And that was yes. Bounded mates… and they would marry at the Grove, one of the most beautiful places she has ever seen.

Her belly did hurt less now...

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:36 am

*** Showtime ***

Xander had found Esme hours ago somewhere in a dark corner of the backroom, and right now she was in his arms, her head on his chest. He was sleeping after a long night of hard work, but she wasn’t. Not after everything that had happened.
She felt guilty, guilty because Peter and his gang had disturbed Xander’s great opening of the inn, and who knows… perhaps even giving it a bad name from the start as a brawl broke out on their first night open.

She glanced up at her blonde lover, he didn’t deserve that, not after longing so long for this opening and after so many preparations and a huge amount of coin, just to get things started. For a moment she thought about running away, so that he didn’t had anymore trouble with her … but she knew better. Xander wasn’t like that, he would come after her since he cared more for her than for his broken furniture… furniture for which she would pay of course. Tomorrow morning she would go to the bank, as it was time for an even more active support. After all, he would soon be her husband, and even after Peter’s “intrusion”, she still had faith in that.

Then it struck her… Xander had told her Peter and his companions were now in jail… but for how long? She would have to start hiding again, certainly now since Peter just knew where she lived. The patrons yesterday all had her butt covered, saying they didn’t know an Esmeralda, but she knew how Peter was… he had the nose of a bear.
He wouldn’t give up…
Perhaps now that the opening of the inn had passed, it was time to focus on her parents… time to face them.

For a moment she wondered what had made Peter so boldly and daring lately. He took more risks than she’s used from him. It was almost as if her earlier mentor was promised an immense amount of coin, but she also knew that didn’t matter to him, since he was very loyal to the clan. Perhaps it was because of her parents? They missed her terribly maybe? Or it was Danio who just couldn’t stop whining about his lost… “love”.
She sighed, worries worries worries… yesterday was supposed to be fun, for once!
Esmeralda pouted softly and muffled against Xander’s chest. She hadn’t even been able to finish her performance yesterday!

But who knows,... perhaps she would soon have her biggest performance ever… both Xander and Peter had had their great moment, but she would play the last card.

Suddenly, she could feel the cold metal of her coin rolling between her fingers.

... Flip me ...

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:38 am

*** Cuhanna ***

Esmeralda woke up and as she tried to sit, she noticed three things right away.
Her head was hurting, her hands were chained, and through her butt she sensed that the floor was slightly moving up and down.
She slitted her eyes just before squeezing them shut again as a severe headache overwhelmed her, despite the fact all around her was dark. She laid down again and noticed she was laying on bags spreading an odor of grain.
And just when she wanted to focus on her hearing when she noticed footsteps on the wooden floor above her, a hatch in the ceiling was opened, sending a fresh salty smell that reached her nostrills right away. She was on a ship!
A crouched person silhouetted against the square light source, probably the sky.

Esmeralda tried to shield her eyes from the light and blinked several times.


“I see you are up, my future love,” a familiar voice sounded.

A voice she hadn’t heard for a year… or was it longer? Suddenly something was dropped next to her and Esmeralda turned her head to see what it was. A thin round object reflected the light coming through her hatch on her face.
Her coin…

“For luck, when we marry,” the man said.

Esme’s head snapped back and she narrowed her eyes,”Danio? Damn you! Let me go!” She rattled with her chains.

He chuckled,” Oh I will let you go. When we are in the middle of the High Desert, with my people.”

“Screw you, you were adopted! You have no people!!” she hurled at him.

Danio jumped down through the hatch and spit in her face just before raising his hand,” I’ll teach you some manners, woman! And something about honor! You have the blood of the tribes in you… and what do you do? You dishonored your clan!” He lowered his hand and started to untie his belt.

Esmeralda’s eyes turned big,” Whatcha think you are doing?!”

Danio grinned at her,” Making you my obedient wife. And I am warning you. If you don’t change, perhaps a life as a slave will make you think twice.”
He drew the belt out of his pants and started to wrap it around his hand.

Suddenly the place Reina’s husband had offered her in the Cathedral didn’t look so bad after all.......

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:38 am

*** Hoping ***

Never ever in her whole life had she felt so defenceless and vulnerable, her upper body and scarred back still fully exposed and kissed by the cool breeze caused by the hatch closing above her. When all turned dark again, Esmeralda let out a scream of frustration and frantically tored on the fetters and chains holding her in place against the ship’s wall, forcing her either to stand or hang…


Her anger and increasing hatred for Danio seemed to override the pain temporarily. She now knew what it was like to be a battered woman, what it was like to be assaulted by the very man who considers himself a partner. How could Danio possibly even think that she would ever marry him? How could he even consider being the better man… better than Xander. Heck… no one was better than Xander! She stifled a sob and suppressed the tears pooling in her eyes, tiny lights of resistance and defiance flickering deep within them.


Insane. For a brief moment she wondered if she had been lucky. The fact he hadn’t sexually abused her showed there was still at least some decency left in him. He hadn’t crossed that line probably because of his honor.

Quit it Esmeralda, he is just holding off to take your virginity during the ‘wedding night’. But he won’t… we will kill him before he gets to that…

Esmeralda helplessly peeked down at her lucky coin left from her chained bare foot, not being able to pick it up... let alone to flip it.


Instead she looked up again at the wooden wall, as if trying to look right through it, to see where she was and what was going on out there in the outside world. Would Xander ever know? Would he be able to find her?
She knew he cared a lot and that he had a wide asset of skills and tricks at his disposal and she knew he was more than just a bard and innkeeper. She and him were… alike.


The thoughts of her boyfriend strangely enough seemed to calm her down. She would stay rational, she would stay strong. She wouldn’t panic, she wouldn’t start repeating things she already knew that didn’t work, like pulling on these chains for instance, or screaming, or crying.
No, the Fox would remain cool and calm, and she would lash out the moment she had an opening. Who knows, perhaps she would even find help from the outside.

She uttered his name very softly,” … oh Xander…”. And for a moment she worried about him, if he tracked her down and came after her... what they might do to him...

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:40 am

*** Rescued, or not? ***

Peter was glad it was over. He had Esmeralda directly delivered to Danio’s clan.
She had been such a pain in the butt. What was it, for over more than a year that he had been hunting her on her parent’s and his clan’s request?
Several encounters had occured between them and pain in the butt or not, he respected her as each encounter had ended in his former pupil’s favor. He had trained her well, too well. Then again, gypsies just had to be prepared for anything during their travels, ready to face any encounter, by either their men, women and even children.


The thing they hadn’t been prepared for was Esmeralda running off after she found out she had been promised to Danio, son of the clanleader of the Bihari. It was actually a pact made to finally stop the decades of bloodshed going on between them and his own clan, the Sanchari, and to establish an alliance. Something that was really important, especially these days in order to survive. In Peter’s opinion gypsies should always stick together, as they were rarely welcome near the cities. Often they were regarded by the population as rabble and a source of diseases and criminal activities.


Esmeralda really was a tricky one and for a minute Peter wondered if she would escape.
But that wouldn’t be his problem anymore as from now the Bihari were responsible for her, and to look after her. Catching her had been merely his job, even though things between him and Esmeralda sometimes got personal.
In the end he had been successful and brought honor to both clans. Peter now was a very respected man and whatever he had done to reach his goal, he had done for his clan in order to survive and to secure their further existence.
After all, he too had a family consisting of two wives and five children living among the Sanchari, and he had seen to it no harm would be done to them either.


For a moment he wondered how Esmeralda was, now a few days after he had delivered her to Danio. Would she come round, realizing that it was for the better? Would he and his people see her again before the wedding took place? Well, he assumed that at least Esmeralda’s parents would be invited over to wherever the ceremony would take place.
He had reported back to her parents and even though they hadn’t seen their daughter yet, they were both relieved when they heard Esmeralda was well and alive.


The Bihari had already moved on from Morell towards the forest not far from Ravenswatch, and the Sanchari were about follow. Meanwhile he had to travel back to Sheppard’s landing and pick up a shipment that was about to arrive and had to be transported back to his clan. If he was fast enough, he might even catch up on his people.
Him and two of his most trusted companions would be soon on their way now…


----------

Captain Beatrix Flittermoon may have looked up strangely when suddenly a familiar, well-built man entered the Fleethouse. Not because of who the man was, but of what looked like a prisoner wrapped up in a carpet which the man carried like dockworker carrying a heavy sack of grain.


Ungentle Garet placed his ‘load’ down on the floor in front of other Fleet members gathered and he saluted to the Captain,” Ma’am…”


The Captain nods to Garet and then looks to the man, constrained by the rolled up carpet, at the Falcon's feet.


“Perhaps you may recognize this man, and if not you may want to consult the archives, as he, Peter, is a former ‘customer’,” Garet didn’t smile though as he leaned over to unwrap the carpet and making the man roll over the floor. Beatrix could see Peter’s hands and legs were tied up.

“To be brief. About a month or two ago this man entered the inn of Xander Lightwood, owner of the Spirit of Song Inn and my former boss. During the opening, together with a small gang this man entered to claim miss Esmeralda Figura and said she had been promised to another man. This turns out to be a part of a contract and pact made between two clans called the Bihari and Sanchari. However, this was against the will of miss Figura. Anyways, during that moment we were able to prevent miss Figura being taken and my former boss getting killed. I believe miss Galatea attended for the Fleet back then.”


By now Beatrix had moved around in front of her desk to take a closer look at the captive, and to give Garet her full attention.


Garet paused a moment and then continued his story,” It turns out that miss Figura now disappeared and this man being responsible for it. He kidnapped miss Figura and delivered her directly to the Bihari clan, to the man who she was ‘promised’ to. Xander and me have a witness about this.” Garet however didn’t mention the name of Esme’s old gypsie friend Vix in the presence of Peter, and assumed he could always later.

“You have my word as a Falcon that this all is truth.”
Garet glanced over his shoulder at the wizardress he had hired to teleport him here. Then he looked back at Beatrix,” However, I need to get back to Morell and assist Xander in retrieving his lady. If you would be so kind for the time being to lock up this man. A more detailed report with more people and witnesses will follow. A warning though. This man tried to kill himself as soon as he heard that I would hand him over to the Fleet, despite the fact he seems to have a family among the Sanchari clan.”


"Thank you for bringing this man in. I'll have him placed in the stockades under armed guard. Should your search bring you back to Cear and you are in need of further assistance you know where to find me."

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Re: Vagabonds, artists by nature

Post by Admin on Thu May 18, 2017 9:41 am

*** Beyond rescue ***

Weddding dress or not, she was harshly tossed back in the tent right after the so called ‘bonding ceremony’. With a thud she landed in the sand on her cheek. After spitting out some of the desert substance, Esmeralda wiped off her mouth with the back of her hand and while on all fours -with fierce eyes- she turned to face the tent opening.

Her ‘husband’ loomed in the opening, his masculine form lining against darkening purple tinged sky.

“You are mine now, bitch! And the next time you try to steal a knife from my belt… think again!”

Esmeralda rubbed her burning cheek, but it was a pain she gladly accepted for the opportunity she had had. Almost…

She decided not to push her luck… or rather misfortune and instead moved to sit, her back facing to Dario, showing she was not afraid of him. When she noticed she was absently dusting off her dress, she immediately stopped. Why bother? She sure didn’t had to look good for him, did she now?

With a cold heart she heard him snarl behind her,” You better make sure you are ready when I get back. And woe betide if it turns out you aren’t a virgin anymore.”

She closed her eyes as the tent flap fell back in place. Preferably she would love to jump up and tear the dress from her body. But that would leave her nude form at a display and lead to more undesirable situations. She growled deep, her teeth gnashing. Dario had no idea that she was still a virgin, and he also had no idea she had been saving herself up for someone else… wanting it to be something special.

She blinked a tear away and her eye caught sight of her coin on the desert sand, only half sunk. It must have slipped out of her pocket when she was thrown on the loose surface.

She growled again. I am not picking you up again, damn thing. If you really bring luck, how could you let things like this happen? Did you forget I found you and saved you from turning into an antique and oxidized future?

The round metal object only gleamed in the twilight.

I take it then this is your idea of having luck huh? But I tell you, I rather die than allowing him to touch me.

And with that she got up and searched the tent for things that could assist her in any of the choices she would make.

Good luck starts with good preparations… only idots and shallow people take it on blind faith.

Esmeralda narrowed her eyes and looked at the coin down at her foot. She grumbled.

Fine, I’ll give you one last chance. Now show me…

As she bend over to pick up the coin she noticed the small empty wooden box at the side of the tent. It had about the size of her head.

As her finger brushed over the edge of the coin and her eyes pensive on the box, her razor sharp mind weighed her options. You always had more choices, as long as you kept creating a few extra. Especially when your middle name was… trickery.


(Author's note : TBC, one day !! )

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