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O Brother where art thou? (Open)

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(( The following is a major plot happening in game on Balmaug. Many people are involved in it at this point, and anyone is welcome to join in as far as i know. Whats posted here will be from my character's perspective, and open to people joining in, here or in game. This is a long lasting arc, it wont be solved in a single night!))



The money was good. Who was he kidding? The money was great. One of the highest payoffs he had been offered in a long time. The dark skinned Wildwood leaned against the wall of the Quicksand, a hand idly pushing silver hair from his eyes as he watched his mark.


They sat near him, speaking openly of things that would be best kept hidden. Fools. Sure, they glossed over the important details, but he was more then capable of filling in much of what they skipped just from their reactions. The Miqo'te girl, K'lyhhia... his main target, seemed to lean heavily on the Highlander. There was something going on there. Perhaps something he could use to his advantage. The other, the Lancer, spent more time staring at the woman then listening to what either of them said. It was odd that the highlander didn't seem to notice. Or perhaps just didn't care.


His mark identified the men for him. The highlander, Gratus Stormbearer, appeared to be an old friend, and probably a current lover. She called him Warrior again and again, though he kept denying it. “I was a Sultansworn once, but not anymore. I'll help in any way I can Lyhhia, but I wont break my vow, I wont pick up a sword again.' There seemed to be some story there. The other, the Lancer, bore the name of Alexander, but he spoke little and not much else could be learned of him.


Skilled eyes took in the details. K'lyhhia... a short Miqo'te of about twenty years. She matched the description of his employer perfectly. Red Hair, pale skin, and hints of scars poking out of her clothing. He was fairly sure he know where she got them from. His client said she had 'escaped him' and was to be brought back alive, but not necessarily unharmed. He didn't seem to be the nice type.


Gratus, the highlander, was rather tall, even for his race. Tanned flesh of someone who works long hours in the sun and well built to boot. He could be trouble in a close fight. The Elezen smirked, good thing he wasn't much for close work. His mark had identified Gratus as a powerful warrior, and the assassin could see why, but that little nugget of gold, 'I will not break my vow, I wont pick up a sword.' His client had been clear, eliminate her friends, and in the end the man wouldn't be a problem.


That left the lancer. Alexander. Also a Miqo'te. He could be trouble, even for a skilled assassin. Powerful looking artifacts hung off the man, even his spear seemed more intimidating then your average weapon. He clearly wore the platemail of a battle hardened warrior. It was something the woman said that helped him solve this dilemma. 'Lyhhia want to see Jhinn again. Jhinn needs to come home soon. Lyhhia misses her brother.'


The story began to unfold before him, his ears perked as he listened in. Years ago, Gratus had been Sultansworn, a mid level officer of some type, and the woman's brother, Jhinn, worked under him. Jhinn left Gratus's company just before the company was slaughtered under Gratus's leadership, leaving the highlander to hang up his sword and take his vow. Jhinn had received a letter, stating that his sister had been taken by a ruthless but powerful member of their tribe. He left to save her.


What happened when Jhinn had gotten there was not clear, only that he could not save the girl alone, and had to leave, promising to return. He had not been seen since. His sister, on the other hand, had escaped her tormentor and came looking for her brother. When she could not find him, she sought out his old commander. He could guess what happened from there. The way the woman leaned on the highlander made that much clear.


It was the lancer who spoke up next ,solving his problem in one fell swoop. 'Well then... You have my help. I'll find your brother and bring him home.' This made the assassin smirk to himself. His client hadn't mentioned a brother, but a man who pays the kind of money he does, who used such care in setting up his dealings, would not leave something like that in the wind. He was sure this brother was long dead by now. The lancer would be to busy chasing ghosts to save either of them.

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The assassin glanced into the mirror one last time, ensuring his mask covered his face. He donned black leathers and his favorite quiver, loading several poisoned arrows into it. At last he picked up and shouldered his bow, heading to the balcony he had picked out the night before.


If they kept to a schedule, his marks would come down this alley in a few moments, alone and unarmed. The highlander would catch an arrow to the forehead and the woman would be tussled up and on her way back to his client in a few moments. That didn't make him particularly happy, but that was the job.


He heard the footsteps echoing down the cobbled alley long before he could see them. It took only a moment to notch the arrow and drawl the bowstring back to his chin. As soon as the man stepped into range, he would drop him. All he needed was a moment, a split second to change the young girl's entire world. The footsteps grew louder, and then there they were. He took a deep breath, steadying his aim... One..




… thr-”Hello there.” The voice was female, echoing rather near him, and at first he thought he had been caught. But no, it came from beneath him, on the street. A woman in blue plate, approaching the couple slowly. A memory flashed through the assassins mind... He knew her... Yes. Yes he did. His target was getting closer, and would soon be out of sight, but if he struck now, he'd have to deal with her.


She was Ser Crofte's friend. The midlander, Sadowyn. He hesitated a moment. Why did he hesitate.The string of the bow started to loosen. No. Just do it. Two shots, two bodies, nothing else changes.But something already had. Every time he tried to re-tighten his grip on the bow, Ser Crofte's face would enter his head, and his grip would slip that much more.


Ser Crofte.... The Sultansworn who didn't even know he existed. How many times had she foiled one of his jobs without knowing it. How many times had she investigated one of his kills without finding trace of him. It was almost a game between them, only she didn't know she was playing. A game he had long ago begun to lose. He had fallen for her. An odd thing, the assassin falling for a guard that would no doubt hang him without a thought.


He was a skilled assassin. He had a reputation, he had demand and prestige among his peers. Yet he grew weak in the knees at the thought of the very person who was meant to stop him. Here it was again, another well paying job that would surely spread his name among the Syndicate bosses once more, prove his metal as an arrow for hire, and all he had to do was end Ser Crofte's friend. The woman would never see the poisoned arrow coming and she surely couldn't hit him with a sword from this distance.


He just couldn't do it. No matter how much his mind screamed at him, the picture of Ser Crofte mourning Ser Sadowyn kept filling his head. Without even realizing it, Anelia Sadowyn had just saved two lives.


Ayell of rage filled the alley, but when those bellow looked around, he was long gone, the only sign he had been there was an arrow jammed into the stone mortar of a balcony, broken off at the halfway point. An arrow that matched many others currently in Sultansworn evidence rooms.


As he fled, his mind raced. It was to late now, not only had he missed his chance, but his yell would have alerted his target. They were sure not to walk that alley alone again. This was bad. He had been paid, and paid well. Failing a job wasn't an option unless you died. The client would make sure of that, and with one this wealthy... He needed help. But who... who can I turn to when a crime boss wants my head? The answer came immediately of course. No.. I can't go to her.. but..perhaps...


He smirked and stopped, motioning to a Miqo'te street urchin... 'Go to the Quicksand and ask for Ser Sadowyn. Tell her, I know of a plot to kidnap and kill several Ul'dah citizens. If she wants to know more, meet me above the Coffin and Cotter. Complete this job and you'll earn enough Gil to eat for a week.'


The urchin jumped to her feet and ran off towards the Quicksand as the assassin faded into the night. Perhaps this can work for me after all...

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“That is far enough, Lady.” Her sword sprung into her hand almost as if by magic. He was rather impressed with how quickly she drew it. Her voice carried with power and authority, enough that he was sure a common street thug might have wet themselves to hear her speak. 'Step out where I can see you!”


The masked archer took a single step into the light, but no closer. “I'm here to help you Lady.. to save lives. My story is important, so I suggest you listen carefully...”


In the end, it had gone as he imagined it would. After much arguing over trust and evidence, she finally put away her blade and let him speak. He left out his involvement of course, and the part of how close he came to loosing an arrow at her... but she knew enough. She would investigate. She'd find enough of his tale was true that she'd need help. The Sultansworn would do his work for him, taking care of this client before he could come after the assassin, and in return, they would save the lives of several citizens. It seemed a fair trade to him.


He was sure Ser Sadowyn would be pissed If she knew she was helping a killer, still, he had warned her.. “Don't trust anyone, with a man this wealthy, anyone can be bought. Trust no one, not even me.” Besides, she got something out of the deal.


She would not leave his identity alone though. Like a dog with a bone, over and over again, 'If your being truthful, take off your mask.' and 'If your here to help, there's no need to hide.' In the end he had finally gotten frustrated with her, 'Your going to make me create some idiotic nickname aren’t you. Call myself the 'Ashen Archer' or 'Darkbow' or something ridiculous like that..” That finally got her to drop it.


He was careful returning home, taking several detours and sticking to the shadows as much as he could. At last he bolted the door and and went to his desk. He had promised her more details in writing, and so he penned them, and with a smirk, signed the letter, 'The Ashen Archer, or something'


Another urchin would deliver it for him later. For now, he needed to rest. He moves into the bathroom and finally takes off his mask, tossing it on the counter before splashing cool water across his face.


“Come on Taedrinnar... get it together. Your nothing to her, she doesn’t even know you exist. What kind of assassin falls for a guard anyway?”

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A beautiful metallic note rings across the plaza, joining others still hanging in the the air. Like clockwork the next one joins them, a measured beat, as if someone were conducting an orchestra inside the tiny shop on the corner. The sounds of a smith hard at work filled the morning as Gratus raised his hammer and brought it down again and again. Shaping the metal gave him purpose. It gave him peace.


In metalwork he could drowned out his own thoughts and fears, letting the song of his craft take over and clear his mind. An angled blow would curve the metal ever so slightly, and that in itself would produce a slightly different tone then an overhead swing. The tap of his hammer could correct a minor dent and produce a longer, higher pitched note. The breath of the bellows and the hiss of hot steel cooling in the troth would add percussion and character to the music, and all together the sounds would carry him away from his troubles.


At least that is how it normally went. Today, however, didn't seem like normal. So much had changed in his peaceful, simple life, and in such a short period of time. Jhinn's sister had returned. He found out the man had been missing for years, and he never knew it. That still stung deep inside. Once more someone under his command suffered because of his failures. Yet another member of his company, perhaps the last one still living, might pass from this life without his aide. And where was Gratus when he was needed?


Beating metal at the forge. Crafting weapons and armor for greater men then himself. Men who could charge into the heat of battle and come out the other side unscathed. Men who could bring their soldiers home alive.


Who was he kidding, Jhinn was safer if Gratus just stayed in the forge. Let Alexander save him, at least then the Highlander wouldn't be responsible for his death.


That thought caused a growl of fury, and without thought, his hammer came down once more. Far to much power was in that blow. Heated metal was malleable, but brittle. It needed just the right touch to be shaped and molded, and his rage had exceeded that need. The blade he was forging snapped in half, hot metal falling to the floor of the shop where it smoldered and smoked in the dirt.


He sent the hammer skidding across the anvil with a cry of frustration. Here lay the proof of his efforts. The fruits of his endeavor, a husk of a sword, broken and useless. Was this Jhinn's fate as well?

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Lyhhia had never had much luck, although recently it seemed that had changed. Although since leaving her tribe, and giving up everything she had known it was not like Lady Luck had exactly smiled on her. Jhinn was still no where to be found, and after spending days asking around the city for her brother and getting less then no where, she decided to set her goal instead on finding one of the men her brother had often spoke about. Gratus Stormbearer, he was someone that would help - and could help. A warrior that could stand next to Jhinn on the battlefield - a man that would do anything for the men that were under his care. He would find Jhinn easily. This one, was much easier to find. 


Soon Lyhhia found herself taken in and cared for by Gratus, and getting the promise from him that they would find Jhinn and soon. Jhinn was forever on her lips, as she spoke to merchants, travelers, adventurers - basically anyone that would listen would hear the tale of her missing brother. It seemed to get her into trouble as well. Especially yesterday when she approached one of the dancers, as they took their break. 


Lyhhia in all her innocently annoying ways approached the Miqo'te, the woman small like her with silver colored hair and copper skin. She was quite lovely, and someone that Lyhhia could have seen Jhinn trying to sweet talk. Taking a deep breath to steel herself as Lyhhia stepped forward, her hand reaching out to touch lightly to the other woman's arm. "Excuse me..."


The dancer turned, a sultry smile tracing her painted red lips as she turned her emerald eyes to Lyhhia. "Can I help you?" Even her voice was husky and beautiful, Jhinn really would have liked her. 


"Lyhhia....Lyhhia looking for brother, Jhinn, Lyhhia thought maybe...maybe you....know where?" She asked offering the best smile she could, attempting to mimic the dancer's own. 


"Jhinn?" The other woman's brows perked, lips curling into a half smirk as her hand moved to her hips. "Can't say I've heard of him, your brother hm?" 


Immediately Lyhhia nodded, perhaps far too many times. "Yes, Jhinn brother. Missing...missing for a long time now. Lyhhia looking...going to find. Please?" 


"Oh I'm sure....run along now." Dismissing the woman and her issues the dancer turned back, her eyes scanning the crowd, the younger woman all but forgotten already. 


Lyhhia sighed, her eyes turning towards the stone walk way as she soon shuffled down the street. It seemed as if Jhinn was nothing but a ghost, a figment of her imagination and yet - he was real and he was there he had walked these streets, he had fought and defended these people. His laughter had rung loudly in the tavern and his jokes fell on the suspecting ears of any who would listen to them. Jhinn had been here, he had. Lyhhia just could find his steps no matter where she looked or who she approached. But then, nor did she notice the dark haired Hyur man that followed her every step, spoke softly in hushed words to each she spoke with.

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