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» Mettle of Honor, JPG, NyteDaez, Dekkys, OPEN/YOU
@JPG (yours truly!)

SETTING: Ghero's Folly, Sud'rlund, Millirand


TIME: 75 days before Current

Wyatt (NyteDaez), Sedna (JPG), Elias Bishop (Dekkys)

Ghero's Folly. A little town where everyone knows everyone, but no one knows anyone. No questions are asked about pasts, and everyone's a mystery to each other. The perfect place for ne'er do wells who want to ditch their old life. Or to operate outside the view of the world at large.

It was in this small town on this snowy day that a well-dressed merchant in glitzy robes was accompanied by two figures: his aristocratically-dressed son complete with a horrendous bowl cut and an oddly sized minotaur female trailing behind them.

While the minotaur was a tall creature by human standards, she was a runt by minotaur standards, standing at a meager 5'10". On her back, she carried a seemingly ludicrous amount of supplies, seemingly belonging to the well-dressed merchant. Upon close inspection, her arms and legs, slightly under-dressed for the weather, were covered in old scars.

Normally, such an amount of supplies would probably be on the back of a mule in a caravan, but why pay for all that? Indebted servants were cheaper, and in Ghero's Folly, nobody would ever ask.

The merchant grumbled as he looked into the town square. "Lad, I'll be right back. Our customer is late." He looked at the minotaur. "Oy, Pitbull, grab the satchel with the papers."

The minotaur eyed the several satchels. A hint of annoyed bemusement crossed her face, which earned her the sharp slap from the son.

"Hurry it up!"

The minotaur snorted, but grabbed one of the satchels, handing it gently to the merchant in spite of the slap. The merchant snorted back. "Lad, keep an eye on the Pitbull. She'll work off the damages until she dies if it comes to that." With that, the portly fancy-robed figure left, leaving the snooty aristocrat manchild and the quietly boiling minotaur.

It wasn't long before the aristocrat fell asleep. In spite of this, the minotaur just stood there with the heavy burdens on her back, not daring put them down for fear that the merchant should return.

Ugh. If there was one thing to be hated in this world, even by those who couldn't possibly find it in their heart to hate at all, it was terribly cold weather. And this, this was some of the worst kind he'd come across in weeks. The gritty ground (normally marred by footprints, mud and whatever else stray creatures did on their way through the town) had been covered in a few inches deep of frozen water. The kind that brought an unsatisfactory crunch to every step one made, despite best efforts.

With the sky littered with the same falling frozen flecks of liquid, it was hard to gauge anything in regards to the time of day, but if one had to guess: it was pretty late in the day. And yet, for one such visitor to the fabled little town of the big and bad, it was little more then yet another obstacle on his lifelong journey. Perusing through the streets of Ghero's Folly (hero's folly, perhaps?), the young travellers gloved hands continued to move along the cooled skin of his arms in an attempt to preserve body heat: no luck. His teeth chattered erratically, his eyelids remained pressed shut and his legs shifting uncertain through the snow - clearly displaying his losing battle to all who might gaze upon him.

A heavy, throaty sneeze came with no warning, and with that his eyes cracked open for a split second to gaze upon something large and furry in the distance. It had been in direct contrast to the white of the snow blanketing all within the town, and so unconsciously he moved towards it. Surely the warmth associated with fur would invite him in and shelter him from such unforgiving sleet. There seemed to be two other shapes by the larger furred one not too far from where the rookie stepped, and he paused in his movements as two of them made swift movements.

A sharp, biting sound lashed through the air, and Wyatt's eyes opened wide. What was... These shapes were undoubtedly two human men and a larger, more intimidating figure most associated as being a Minotaur. Bringing his hands from his arms to then press tightly together, Wyatt rubbed them harshly for friction burn and blew into them with his (barely) heated breath. Meanwhile, one of the men said something, turned away and headed off in another direction.

Curiosity, and he supposed the drive to escape the ungodly weather, prompted the young man to step forth, reaching an acceptable verbal distance from the two remaining people. And...

"Hey, uh, either of you got a lamp or something? A torch? ... Fire potion?"
Character: Elias Bishop

Elias silently cursed whatever foul magics had beset the town of Ghero's Folly as he trudged through the town gates. The temperature was easily below the freezing temperature of his left butt cheek, much less water. He had hardly prepared well enough for such abysmal temperatures. Not even his Starry Cloak was enough to ward off the flesh-piercing cold.

That said, the town of Ghero's Folly resembled the weather. Dreary and dilapidated. If it wasn't for the cold temperatures at that time of year, Elias was sure he could easily collect a few dozen species of mold from the lower levels of the buildings. On top of that, most buildings almost seemed to stand lopsided, perhaps held in place only by the frozen earth. Even the name of the town itself seemed to be designed exclusively to attract negative energy. Elias mused and wondered whether the name Ghero's Folly had been chosen before or after the town's founding and why anyone would have bothered to give their home such a depressing name.

The wizard debated whether or not he should bother figuring out that fact. Perhaps the town actually was a wellspring for dark forces and magics. If it was, Elias could probably spend a few weeks preparing some sort of totem or ritual that would disperse the powers a more broadly and perhaps take away from the sorry state the town was in.

The only response Elias got from himself was a sneeze induced by the freezing temperatures. He responded by pulling his silver-flecked midnight cloak a little closer in a vain attempt to keep warmer in the oppressive cold.

A loud crack echoed down the freezing roads of Ghero's Folly. A puzzled expression washed over Elias' face for a second. It was strange to consider that anyone would so much as bother to step out into the cold if they could help it. However, sheer curiosity tugged at Elias' legs and pulled him around the corner to view the source of the noise.

Around the corner stood a Minotaur female. The heavily muscled beast carried almost an entire wagon's worth of goods on her shoulder. Wooden crates and barrels laden across her entire back. On top of that, she seemed to be dressed in thin, common clothes rather than the thicker woolen coats that a manual laborer would typically wear on such a night. Though those were minute details compared to what really mattered. There were two men, most likely father and son, dressed in fine embroidered coats and caps which likely denoted them as merchants. On top of that, one of them had seemingly slapped the Minotaur with no heed to the consequences it might bring down upon the boy. Only there was barely so much as a snort as she grabbed some sort of satchel from off her back

Without another second's thought, Elias began striding down the snow-dusted street towards the merchant pair and their Minotaur slave. He had no idea what he was going to do yet. Perhaps it was to free her, or maybe to get the merchants to learn some respect for a beast that could easily beat them to a pulp in the middle of a town that seemed it wouldn't bother to save them.

A boy beat Elias to the merchants when he made it halfway down the street. He seemed to request a few items that would most likely help out with the cold, but Elias couldn't help but imagine that the boy standing there had some intention of freeing the clearly mistreated Minotaur.

"Excuse me, friends," Elias said as he approached the group, "I am also interested in purchasing something. I suggest we find an inn where we can more properly pay for some wares."

The aristocrat manchild had barely had a moment to nod off, having wrapped himself up in a warm-looking woolen-blanket when the two customers appeared. His eyes went wide. Customers? Kurainese bells, what was he to do?

"Er, yes, see, I'm just standing watch over our gear with the help, but I suppose we are open for business. Yes, yes! Yes we are open for business!" His grin was so bright, that a slap would surely knock a tooth or three loose.

He eyed the minotaur, his face screwing in brief, intense contemplation.

"Come on, you. Let's get in where it's warmer." If looks could kill, his eyes contained enough venom and malice to send a dragon to the grave.

The dark brown-furred bovine woman with the brick red braided mane merely nodded, her eyes boiling but being kept steady. She cast a look to the boy and the wizard, as if studying them. The eyes narrowed in cynical skepticism, as if to communicate "keep away."

This look earned her a swift, sharp kick from the merchant's son.

"Smile for the customers, you ignorant oaf of a buffoon," he whispered, nearly hissing his words.

The minotaur - with much more struggle than she handled the weight on her back, forced a small, sickly smile at the two, as they started their way down to the inn in the vague direction that the merchant had wandered.

Hadn't he been about to ask what that sharp sound from earlier was? Well, initially, he supposed he had. But once he'd managed to reach the two before him, all thoughts of an out-of-place sound went out the proverbial window in favour of, his current state of distress. He just... really needed something that could help him survive for the remainder of the day -and possibly through the night- and by the looks of things, they certainly had a lot of stuff to spare.

Shortly after speaking up, the small group was approached by another looking something similar, Wyatt supposed. The man looked to be of the human just like him, but in a world swarming with people of all kinds, looks could be decieving. Thoughts on what he had and hadn't seen before were soon placed aside as the young man who seemed over a foot taller than he seemed almost flustered. "Oh, sorry, we didn't mean any harm."

But then he mentioned them being 'open for business' which caused opposing feelings of dread and hope to well within his chest. Considering the weather and the possibility of them being sellers of some sort, possibly even merchants (despite lacking a stall of sorts) meant that he could very well have the chance to gain a lamp. And that, would be worth any amount of Jaden Wyatt currently had on his person.

Turning his attention from the small group to check within his pouch on just how much he currently had, the youngster missed the subtle exchange of looks sent around the odd collective of people. Only to then return his gaze when the minotaur was smiling at them in an eerie fashion. The smile on his own face faltered for a moment, unsure on how a smile could possibly seem so... off. But maybe he was imagining it and that was just how the specie showed their happiness? Hard to say.

As they started their way along the snow-covered roads of the Folly, the child picked up his pace to fall in stride alongside the young merchant. Hands still occasionally rubbed together in his futile attempts to warm himself. "Thanks for seeing us at such short warning, ser. We're not pullin' you away from anything important, I hope." A momentary glance behind them to gaze at the man and Minotaur was made just to check how they were doing despite the weather.
Elias stifled an amused grin as he listened in on the child-merchant and his Minotaur employee. Why the minotaur kept working for one who was little more than a child escaped Elias' mind. Perhaps she was honor bound to serve the merchant, at least for a time. But certainly the abuse she was put through would justify realizing the merchant child as being far lower on the muscle pyramid.

Most of what the merchant had for sale seemed uninteresting at best. The only thing truly interesting about the pair was the Minotaur herself. Elias all but laughed when she let out the most mocking grin possible. As for the boy,

"I must say," Elias said with a smile, "your minotaur pet isn't doing much for your impression. I'm sure you pay her a fair wage, yes?" The musclebound beast wobbled for a second as the group began walking towards what Elias hoped would at least be a warm commons room. The wizard's brows furrowed a bit as he tossed around a few ideas in his head. He reached into his bag and pulled out a piece of cotton. Whispering a small incantation, the cotton all but appeared to evaporate with barely visible bits floating lazily into his and the adventurer boy's ears.

"Hey boy," Elias' words would echo inside the Wyatt's head, "Speak only in your mind and please, try not to look startled." The wizard waited for a moment so the boy could get his bearings with the newfound telepathy. "There's a nigh-invisible string of cotton connecting our minds like one of those cup phones. We move too far apart or let anything come in between us, the connection will be lost. Anyhow, I'm Elias, and I'm interested in ending this little sliver of unjust slavery in our midst. Perhaps tricking this merchant-boy with some illusory gold would help us free our new friend, yes?"

By now the group had reached the entrance to a pricier tavern. The sort a reasonably successful merchant would stay in. It was one of the few building in Ghero's Folly that stood completely upright on what appeared to be solid stone foundations and strong and expensive oaken supports. A swooping band of iron held a snow-splattered, but clearly well-painted sign which read 'The Dragon's Claw'. The name got a bit of a laugh out of Elias as he knocked the bits of snow off his boots and cloak and stepped inside. Elias held the door open for the boy and the merchant to step inside and resisted the itch to all but run towards the incredible waves of warmth and spiced meats.

The nobleman looked absolutely miserable at the interruption - how dare these customers show up so inconveniently! He wrapped his arms around himself in an attempt to keep warm as they trudged through the snow into the Dragon's Claw Tavern.

As Elias inquired about the minotaur pet, the manchild forced a grin himself. "O-oh you misunderstand, sir...see, she's a troublemaker who we're simply making repay a debt. Isn't that right, Pitbull?"

The minotaur nodded slowly, as if taking care not to reveal any more than she had to - maintaining that same sickly grin.

"That said, we try to make sure we give the BEST of the best of the best customer service." The sniveling manchild attempted to 'subtlely' elbow Sedna in the ribs. She tried ever so harder to smile, bless her behemothian heart. Ever so hard. Her eyes communicated curses and hatred at Elias, not quite catching on about any ideas going on in his head.

"Yes, yes," he continued. "We have many goods to warm the cockles of your heart and soul...! Y'see, father's right over there." He then ahemed and hollered at a bald, portly man wearing a cap that covered his barren cranium, discussing something with some other men who, judging from their dress, were of a similar socioeconomic status.

The merchant took notice of his son and the bull headed bovine help's presence as well as two other strangers he had yet to make the acquaintance of. "What is it, boy!" he barked annoyedly.

"Well you see, I, er, kept a sharp eye out and found us some customers! They seem very interested in some of your fine wares! Particularly that of the heating sort!"

The portly, bald merchant's eyes went wide - if they could glint like gold, they would've. "Interested, eh? Well, step right up, gents! Time is money, but I have plenty of both to spare for paying customers!"

Often not being the most perceptive person around did have it's notable short comings, especially when it came to critical points in time that called for such. There had been many occasions (most of which he couldn't quite so easily recall) where such skills would have been quite helpful on his journey across the land. Nonetheless, subtle cue's easily went over Wyatt's head for what was probably the umpteenth time where it came to the dynamics of the pair's relationship. Was the Minotaur a pet? A hired hand? A charge of sorts? It was difficult to gauge.

And yet the other customer found no trouble in referring to it as such? Wasn't there a rule of thumb you were supposed to follow for these sorts of things?

The sudden voice of another interfering with his thoughts jolted the youngster to attention, and he misplaced one of his steps ever so slightly. Almost halting in place for what was more than a second, but he was able to write such an odd occurrence off as quickly as it he'd expected. The voice had told him to remain inconspicuous as possible, so he had no other option but to follow it's lead.

"In that case ser, you can call me Wyatt." Although speaking within the mind wasn't too difficult for a youngster such as he, the very concept itself felt immeasurably foreign to him. He knew there were countless kinds of magic out there, and that mind-speak was one of the most common practices among communication magic, but... he'd never been privy to the craft. "Slavery, ser? Are you certain? If this relation is justified, won't we end up the wrong-doers?" It was best to be sure of such cases, particularly since they knew nothing of the Minotaur and Merchant's background or history. It would be best to play things by ear a little while longer, that is, until they were completely certain that they were justified.

Also, he wanted to make sure his wares would be secure before trying anything drastic by intervening.

Trudging along through the snow, the youngster considered what Elias had told him and resigned to keeping an ever watchful eye upon the man and Minotaur pair. Though before his own innocent glossy eyes, he could see no ill between them. Perhaps that would change once they were indoors?

It wasn't long until they stepped foot inside the local tavern, full of patrons of many sizes and many of which took no notice of their little group. Wyatt was certain most would direct their gaze at the stock the Minotaur possessed, but the lack thereof was probably due to them being regulars. if that was any indication. Stepping inside the bar had seen a welcome change in temperature for the rookie, enough for him to breathe a sigh of relief and hurriedly run his fingers through his hair to rid it of frozen water.

The youngster avidly watched the exchange between the merchant and -what he soon discovered was- his father. And while at first, the other man seemed intimidating enough, thanks to the snappy response, his mood suddenly switched once he realised that Wyatt and Elias were possibly customers. Giving a slightly uneasy smile, Wyatt turned his eyes onto Elias for a moment, just now catching on that something certainly wasn't... normal in this particular picture.

"Looks like you might have a point after all, ser Elias. This man doesn't seem much acquainted with the side of justice." He mentally directed to Elias (hopefully with the connection still standing). Forcing a smile of politeness to this newfound stranger, Wyatt gave him a nod and patted his pouch of Jaden hanging at his side. "Mind if I see your lamps, torches and gems, ser? This bitter cold is biting through my boots as we speak." Choosing a nearby vacated table, the young rookie would hope onto a stool and gaze curiously around at the men in question.
Elias noted that the Minotaur continued it's sickly grin as he and Wyatt continued to 'barter' with the child-merchant, or rather, followed him to his father, the real merchant of the bunch in a corner of the toasty and warmly lit tavern. Clearly, he was pleased in having some form of customers, even impromptu ones in the form of two cold-bitten travelers. Elias figured it was a factor of not having much to do and potentially poor work. Ironic, how few people seemed to be wanting to buy supplies for the cold. Perhaps he wasn't very reputable, or maybe the the townspeople's Folly had left them with little change to spare for a few necessities to brave the recent weather. Though it did seem that Wyatt was genuinely interested in some supplies and, to be entirely fair, Elias ought to keep up the act too despite his far greater interest in the Minotaur.

"Let's drop this communication lest we slip up and let our dear merchant friends know of our plan," Elias said telepathically through the all-but-invisible cord of cotton, just after Wyatt stated his interests. He swiped a hand between him and the boy, cutting the connection off.

Elias followed Wyatt to a particularly large table in the corner of the tavern. The temperature had dropped so far away from the hearth, but building's stone walls stood strong and the drifting warmth of fire and ale was certainly a vast improvement from the slicing winds outside. He waved a few silver coins and ordered a round of ale for him and the merchant and mugs of non-alcoholic hot cider for the children. Though he wasn't entirely sure about the age of the merchant's child, he was feeling a little petty. No one should expect to enslave a Minotaur, after all.

Once the drinks had arrived and Wyatt had made his requests, Elias took his turn to speak.

"I'm looking for a small supply of pipeweed, a pinch of coal dust, and perhaps a bag of Cherry Quartz," He said, "I may be able to create some spells to keep ourselves warm for our journeys beyond." He placed one elbow on the table and rested his hand on his palm. "Though I don't suppose that Minotaur is for sale, it hardy seems like you're putting her to her strengths. I've got five thousand Jaden on the table for her, if you want to take it." He whispered an incantation and pulled a fat-looking bag of gold from his satchel.

From what Elias may have seen of the town, Ghero's Folly was not known for its immense wealth. Judging from the paperwork between the merchant and his associates, it would seem this was for property. Er, of the land and building variety. One glance at one of the papers would let him know just how well his offer of 5000 jaden was going to end up being.

"The name's Morgan Roth, owner of Golden Sail Tavern and Associated Properties. You may have seen our establishments in port towns." Indeed, the Golden Sail Taverns were some of the finer establishments where diplomats, mediators, aristocracy, and nobility would stay. They were reknowned for their extravagance, and if Elias had been in Millirand for any notable amount of time, he may have seen one or a few. He flashed a knowing smile to Elias and Wyatt.

It was then he gestured to the manchild. "This is my son, Richard Roth. He'll be running the local Golden Sail Tavern!" Richard Roth nodded rapidly, grinning sheepishly, hands fidgeting all the while.

Sedna assisted with breaking out the various goods as Elias mentioned them, aided (and fussed at) by Richard, who seemed to do more nagging than actual help. Morgan listened to the list, his smile everpresent throughout the entire deal, making it hard to read his thoughts. His eyebrow twitched when he heard the Minotaur.

"For the other goods, that'll come out to be 500 jaden for you, Sir, and 200 jaden for the young adventurer's goods. Oh, and have the boy..." He gestured to Richard again. "Have him show you the gems, while I discuss...matters of interest with you..."

He looked to Elias. And raised an eyebrow. "She's working off a tab. You're going to have to pay a little more than that. Say in the ballpark of...25000 jaden. ...you seem like a nice guy, so I'll lower the price a little to 20 thou. How about it? Push a few more of those bags?" He grinned cockily, knowing he was winning no matter how little Elias paid. Or so he thought.

As expected, a lot of what the merchant said went way over the young warriors head. It wasn't that he was stupid or too young to understand matters of estate. It was simply that he tuned such talk out automatically. It was second-nature to one such as he, a boy brimming with confidence and plans for adventure. Freedom was what he valued most, and no such gains could be found minding stalls or purchasing houses. Still, he reasoned, theirs was a profession which certainly had its fair share of uses, particularly when it came to wanderers like himself needing a few choice luxuries that couldn't be found so easily on the lone road.

With a curt nod as the connection between himself and Elias was cut off, he put his own role of distraction into motion. Keeping himself ever a beacon of light which might blind the younger merchant to the trickery which would soon take place nearby. "Richard, right? Awesome name, by the by - got any magic-based gems? I'm jus' an ordinary swordsmen in training and I'd jolly like to defend myself proper when blades and the like no longer work out." Taking a swig of his non-alcoholic beverage upon the table, the youngster proceeded to count up his Jaden until he had procured an amount up to 200 coins in worth. Laying them upon the table before him as the older of the pair in turn procured a lanturn-like object of impressive quality. How could he possibly turn down an item as fine as this so easily?

"You'd be hard pressed to complain about this one, young'un. Even those not familiar with material can tell it's a fine make, eh?" Wyatt could only nod in response at that before breaking into a smile. And didn't hesitate to bring out an extra 100 just to seal the deal and put his seller in a good mood. Clearly their side of negotiation was going well enough, hopefully the same could be said for the other half...

"It's a pleasure, young'un. Now since you're such a generous little guy, I'm gonna how you a gem my father an' I have been holding onto for special occasions." Now that piqued the boy's interest, and he leaned forward in his seat to gaze into the depths of a bright yellow gemstone which seemed almost as bright as the stars in the night sky. Even Wyatt had to admit - something like that in his possession could only do him a world of good, magically-inclined or otherwise. "I gotta have that stone, ser. What's your price?"

The younger merchant's grin spread even wider than before - both in an overly cocky manner, but also in pride. This little gem must not have been easy enough to acquire. "You're looking at a gem that cost 5K, at least. It ain't no cheap little rock, young'un." Wyatt's face fell in that moment and his eyes narrowed. There was no way he could afford to purchase such an gem unless he was prepared to sleep in forests, deserts swamps without shelter and no food for little more than a week. Was he prepared to make that sacrifice for a gem that just looked pretty? "Well, what's it do...?"

The man looked a little thoughtful in that moment, as if debating on telling the truth or not. But even if he didn't, he reasoned, there was nothing to gain from a gemstone that had no use for him or his father. "Said to save it's user from certain death or something of the like - only once though. Sort of hard to believe though when it's still glitterin' like mad."

And that was all the youngster needed to hear.

It's come to our attention that a member of this group thread has fallen inactive and has not posted for two or more weeks! They have been poked, and if they do not respond within three days then you are free to skip them!

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"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
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