Because the Present Mimics the Past

Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby Rance » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:22 pm

Unsigned, the letter arrives for Agnieszka Kazmerrik just after dawn--

Even without a signature, the hand is dreadfully familiar.

Agnieszka,

One and one-half day from this dellifery at high sun meet me at the end of Drover's Way under the shaddow of the town's wall,

please, it is very importent.

come ALONE.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby channe » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:19 am

One and one-half day passes; there is no need, really, to check into who sent the delivery. She knows who sent it. With the rest of the town turned against her and she and Alexsei moved out to the farmstead near the new church, there are only a few people who would need her, or want her. The family, of course. Maybe Calomel, but she hasn't seen him in ages. Glenn Burnie, certainly not; the man's taken up with the Lady Warden she hates. And --

-- Gloria.

For a little while, she considers not going. Gloria was among the voices that hated her, that turned against her, that destroyed her life's work.

But she goes.

And she stands, cloaked, exactly where she is expected to be, her back against the wall and her arms crossed. She is very, very armed.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby Rance » Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:46 am

She's there a few minutes later.

She's olive, decked in a wide array of skirts whose green had already started to brown from the slush and the filth of the streets. She could have been any young woman in the commons, cast out by a mother or a father to busy herself with gathering from the Market on a snow-sodden day. Flecks of snow pepper her dark bonnet and stick stubbornly in the occasional twist of rebellious black hair. A sleeve has been knotted at the end of her left arm's stump, and her right hand hangs against her skirts, bound thickly in a mass of bandages.

"You're not going to believe a word I say," Gloria says as she approaches the wall and, several feet away from Agnieszka, rests her spine against it. "It's going to be your -- your first instinct to think I am deceiving you. So for these few minutes, for this conversation--" her words have gotten harder, quicker, more confident since last they spoke, "--I implore you to be smart, be civil, and -- and listen."

People, all moving like dim shadows of brown and gray through the day, cross in front of them.

The topography of the girl's face was altered by abuse. A gash gleams wetly on the bridge of her nose. Eyes are haloed by purpling bruises. She stares at Agnieszka, never blinks, never looks away.

"Aleksei River is going to kill me," she says, "for finding out about the secrets he's been hiding from you."
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby channe » Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:01 am

Agnie is different, somehow, as well -- if anything, she's fallen into the shrug on the side of the wall like any dusk-draped criminal, and she's tapping out an impatient rhythm on her leg as Gloria speaks. But she does wait until the girl finishes, if anything, and waits a few seconds beyond that, and takes a breath.

"Number one: Aleksei hides nothing from me. Number two: He will not kill you." A pause. "Although you seem like you've been doing a good enough job of that yourself, Gloria."
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby Rance » Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:25 am

"And if he hides nothing from you," Gloria retorts, "you'd know that this--" as she indicates her battered visage, "--was his doing." Caution tempers her voice; she never attacks with it, nor lets it raise in volume. Broken, her nose rounds out her consonants into muted, nasally ventures. "That it was only this much was because several others interfered. A man's actions are portents of his intent, Agnieszka. He did this with a barstool; he would have done it with worse."

Anyone who passes them might have thought the two women were sharing but a minor disagreement: scarcely did the attention of those occasionally shuffling by ever flit in their direction.

"And if he hides nothing from you," Gloria reiterated, leaning closer toward the older woman, "wouldn't he have told you that I took his sword from him?"

She lifts her wrapped hand. The exposed fingertips, yellow with blisters, speak about lessons of heat.

Wards she'd refused to obey.

"If a man tries to -- to kill you with a thing, you do not let him have it back, no matter what pain it costs."
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby channe » Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:59 am

Agnieszka examines Gloria's face dispassionately. and then grimaces. She leans down, takes a look, and then crosses her arms again, leaning against the wall. "You're leaving things out, Gloria. There's more to the story here, and I don't appreciate you trying to turn me against the one person in this entire universe who still has my back."

She tilts her head, examining the woman. "Let me have the sword back."
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby Rance » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:37 am

"How do you do it, Agnieszka?"

The question materializes out of nothing; Agnieszka angles herself to examine the younger girl's visage, but Gloria turns her face away. She locks her eyes upon a point in the distance along Drover's Way, distracting herself by staring upon something else entirely, giving some focus for her attention. "How," she asks again, "do you float on day to day, so blind and -- and shackled by ignorance? There is indeed more to the story, but I won't waste my breath on a deaf woman.

"Ask N'vek. Ask Cat. Ask Mekarie. Ask Zilliah. They saw what he became; they saw what wears Aleksei River's skin."

She swallows. Her throat clicks wetly, a noise of revulsion that accompanies a blank, occupied stare--

Let me have the sword back.

"No. Because eventually, he'll turn it on you, too."

Nothing more. She hoists her hems and begins to trudge away from Agnieszka Kazmerrik.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby channe » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:47 am

She expels a breath, shaking her head, watching Gloria go. After a moment --

"I know what wears Aleksei River's skin. And I don't care. He'll never turn on me. Never. And if he attacked you, you must have done something to provoke him."
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby Rance » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:12 am

She hesitates. Her heel strikes a cobble but never slips off. A passing man in frock and hat readjusts his direction to avoid the seamstress as she halts in the middle of Drover's Way.

I know what wears Aleksei River's skin. And I don't care.

"I provoked him," she cedes. "I provoked a demon."

She never turns to look behind her. The flaring bill of her bonnet angles itself just enough that her bulbous cheek is visible, but nothing else. The girl's shoulders tighten into a fleshy wall that strains the stitches of her matted cloak.

"What you are, Agnieszka River, is a fool who never learns. You're a piece of dust, and the thing you call husband has turned you into a child's toy. I don't blame you; for all you've been forced to destroy what you love in the past, you've reached your limit. I hope, for your sake, that when he kills you, the blow is quick, and -- and that when they burn your body, Myrken Wood remembers you as a champion, and not as a fool. Not as a scared little farm girl."

The bustle of Drover's Way consumes her quickly.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby channe » Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:18 am

"Give me back the sword, Gloria -- it's all I had when he was taken -- when I thought he was dead --"

She follows, and if Gloria doesn't stop, she'll call out -- "Give it back to me, you thief!" So that other people can hear.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby Serrus » Sat Mar 07, 2015 11:04 pm

"God knows how long this drought'll last for," the farrier says. "Been hard enough this winter getting supplies and stocks from just about anywhere, and now we got some beast in this woods eating anyone and anything, and nobody's doin' anything about it." He's hammering away upon a beaten down horseshoe, brown red from the bellow fires, the anvil ringing its usual song while the air is hot with the tang of wrought iron. He owned little pocket shelter right at the point of Mill Pond St and Drover St, a smaller set up than many of the smithy's on the eastern side of town, but it served well enough, a small makeshift stable of wood and thatched roofs, with a smoke hole in the middle for the flue of the bellows.

His apprentice is hammering tacks on a familiar looking saddle of leather and black horn, working tirelessly. "I heard they said the monster ate a whole giant," the youth comments, turning the saddle aside, checking threading before working on more tacks. "A huge forest giant. Gobbled him down, head to toe." He hushed when the farrier looked his way with a glare that spoke volumes of improper behaviour and impertinence. "A giant, yeah, that's what they're saying now," the farrier echoes.

"A giant? A whole bloody one?" says Serrus Belcaw, sprawled out in a lazy slouch against fence post and barrel, in a position that looks like he was ready to sleep the entire day off. He reflects this behaviour by taking a huge bite of an equally huge pear that seems big enough to feed a horse, and this is also reflected by the impatient nicker of his ever-present blue-roan stallion, the rouncey making an temperamental stamp of its hoof, all ignored by its master.

"That's what them folks out near the lakes been saying," replies the farrier, turning the horseshoe over and hammering again.

The male rouncey makes another irritated nicker, and lowers its head to butt hard against Serrus' shoulder, sniffing at the pear. "Piss off," Serrus replies to the equine in rebuke. "This ere's mine." He stabs a finger to a nearby pile of hay. "That's there's yours." The rouncey turns to eye the food trough, and it looks like another horse has already shat in it. It's silver head turns back , ears swivelling as black pools regard the master again, and it rebukes the sellsword in turn with a nicker and a whipcrack of its ebony tail.

Dark brown eyes from the man inspect the hay before the sellsword shrugs, nonchalant. "Don't s'pose I'd eat that stuff, neither. Still don't change t' fact that I'm eatin' this whole bloody thing, and you're jus' gonna have t' stand there and watch."

The rouncey looks set to snatch the said item, though another sound, far beyond the reach of its master or fellow humans, catches it's ears. The head raises up, ears swivelling and nostrils flaring. A familiar sound and scent, though the sellsword pays it little mind, taking another bite and chewing noisily. But then sound approaches, carried in the wind and along the street, a sound that garners the attentions of the sellsword and those surrounding him.

"Give it back to me, you thief!"

The apprentice stops working the tacks, the farrier stops hammering, the rouncey's ears prick upwards with a raising of it's head and curious cough of a nicker, while the sellsword rolls his eyes, grunting to stand to his feet, dressed for work during work hours, in the usual brigandine, hauberk, gambeson, kriegsmesser and dirk. Riding boots scuff along hay and mud, and the apprentice drops his hammer and peeks out over the top of the farrier's stable.

Thief! Theif?! Thieeef!!

The words ring among the labourers, echoing along like little birds in the trees, all the way along Drover's lane and Baker St. People start to gawk, looking for an interloper, a running scoundrel. Serrus peers about a great wooden pylon, arms folded, and he squints, looking to see the fuss. A couple of people are standing to the sides, others run to hide their precious wares. They are a ways down the road, but the pace between them easily sets them apart. The long head of the stallion snakes it's way around the pylon above the sellsword like an odd four-legged peeping tom. It sniffs the air, ears swivelling to the varying sounds.

"She looks right stupid in them skirts," Belcaw says with a sneer. "Right bloody dandy. Like some bint from t' sand isles and a nun from Sullibon jus' had 'emselves a baby." He takes another bite of the fruit, the stallion snapping teeth to lean in close. "Don't even bloody think about it," he growls, and the horse leans back with another impertinent stamp, before the pair of them glance back toward Gloria and her yet to be revealed pursuer. From monster-laying riffraff to street filcher. This is sure to be a good show.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby highawaywoman » Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:14 am

Gloria was not stupid. The stocky girl had made sure she was accompanied when she met with the wife of Aleksei River. Ailova had been leaning against a hitching post, idly scratching the ears of a donkey as she kept eyes on the two women. An idle hand dropped to the hilt of her rapier, but otherwise she was rather bored. A long yawn came from both jackass and bandit. It was a long day and Ailova wished for a bottle and a nap.

Suddenly, there was Gloria in the middle of Drover's Way, speaking out to the River woman. It looked as if Gloria assumed the conversation was over, but that didn't stop the other from following the girl. The highwaywoman straightened at her post. This dinnae look good. A few steps and Ailova was at Gloria's flank , putting herself between the girl and the woman.

"Give it back to me, you thief!"

"Easy noow. Cannae I 'help ye?" If Gloria chose? She'd soon be lost in the swarm of bustling humanity. "Yer the wife to the one-eye. I'm Ailova. I was with 'im at the pit." The bandit didn't draw arms or act aggressively. A wide grin was splashed across her thin face, gold-teeth lightening a ready smile.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby Rance » Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:29 pm

She's almost gone, almost--

Agnieszka's cry spreads like a disease: on Drover's Way, other voices join, raising together in an accusatory tumult that commoners toss about with eager excitement. "Thief," gasps one woman, and "Thief!" shouts a man, jabbing his finger at an innocent bystander. This was a corner of Myrkentown where work and toil ruled -- a man's worth was in the sweat that dampened his brow, a woman's talents with the churn and the needle were her greatest value. Here, production dictated living; living, life, wholly predicated itself upon ever-desired coin. That there might be a thief among them brought them together as a single mass.

A fishwife's flat palm strikes Gloria's shoulder, and however tall, however broad of body the seamstress is, the motion stops her. "You," the fishwife accuses, but the seamstress spins on her heel and promptly throws her single arm high to show that she holds nothing, nothing--

Her eyes cut across the curious crowd. A familiar figure on a horse draws her attention -- Belcaw? she wonders, though the low-lying fog and the smoke that blackens the street keeps her from confirming -- before, in a whirl of soot-caked skirts, she doubles back and wedges her way through the mass.

...was with 'im at the pit.

And there's Ailova.

While the brigand speaks, Gloria wrenches her oil-canvas satchel from off her shoulder and tosses it disdainfully upon the ground in front of Agnieszka. A number of simplicities fall out: a half-eaten lump of bread, a tin of mint preserves, a battered folio and a nib of charcoal. A display for the slowly-gathering crowd.

An accused thief, after all, would be carrying proof of her misdemeanor.
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby channe » Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:28 am

She looks at Ailova, looks at Gloria, and sneers, raising her hand, pointing. This is not the Agnieszka of before, the bright and shining rising councilor; no, this is Agnieszka as Myrken has made her -- dark, and angry, and seething inside.

"You took my husband's sword. It was all I had of him when I thought he was dead," she returns. "I'm sure he's very sorry about what happened at the pit. But here's the thing. You can't take a man's sword. Not that sword. You cannot have it. You must return it."
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Re: Because the Present Mimics the Past

Postby highawaywoman » Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:32 am

"Sure. Rioght, then. Ye want 'is sword. We want wot yer husband took from yon bein's shitepile. Afore he decided 'o rearrange me friend's face he had collected this 'o study."

The taller woman stood in front of Gloria; Ailova's shrewd eyes took in the hardened features of the River woman. It was easy to recognize hardness, anger, and a mind bent on it's own purpose.

"As ye can see. Gloria 'ere 'as no sword on 'er person. And, I might add that the blade was taken after yer husband decided 'o beat a young gel. Some mayhap would argue that 'er actions were prompted by self-preservation." The bandit's words were loud, she shouted them to afford the gathering crowd a better listen. Ailova spat to the ground in between herself and the River woman, she couldn't stand women-beaters.

"Noow. There be no sword 'ere. Ye can go on 'ome 'o yer man and relay our friendly request. A sword foor a pile o' shite. Seems reasonable enoof 'o me, considerin' the circumstances." Ailova chanced a charming smile to the crowd about the three women, "Wouldn't ye all agree? A heap o' shite fer a sword? Sounds more than reasonable."

The highwaywoman bowed to the other, but edged Gloria back behind herself.

"Can ye be reasonable?"
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