Jump to content

Oathsworn [closed, probably]


Recommended Posts

The sky blazed red, casting Limsa Lominsa in a bloody haze. This was all well and good, really, for the man who pulled his sword free from a dying man. The dying man crumpled, gasping his last breaths. If he had last words to speak, they were lost to the three who stood over him; he had been dismissed. One final cruelty, one final blow to his dignity. That was how it was in Limsa Lominsa.


A delicate lalafel woman watched, arms primly folded: she stood well back from where the blood might touch her fine clothes. "See to it," she said, her voice curt and frosty, "that this doesn't happen again."


"Milady," another woman said. This one was tall and slender for a roegadyn. Her clothing proclaimed her a sailor of some sort, but her hands lacked the right callouses.


The swordsman wiped his sword off on the dying man, then put his boot to the man -- now little more than a corpse -- and pushed him over the edge of the boardwalk they stood upon. There was a splash.


The lalafel woman made a face.


"Of course not, Milady," the swordsman said.


She glared at the two of them, the roegadyn and the swordsman. "It had better not. I have enough filth getting under my fingernails without this tripe to add to it. Lark, with me. You will root out the rest of that one's little den. I expect a report tomorrow morning.


"Now come along, I tire of this farce." The latter was spoken to the woman, Lark, who smirked at the man. She and her mistress walked away, leaving the swordsman to sheathe his sword and stare down at the water. He spat down at the corpse before he, too, turned to leave.




Three days later


"Me nephew."


Zhi paused, tail going rigid behind her in surprise, as she looked up from the crate of rags she was digging through. "Scales, Keto'to, ye creep 'round worse'n a nightbird."


She straightened, eyebrows pulling close together as she looked over at the old miqo'te. Every time she saw him, there was a small part of her that felt surprise that he was still alive; such was his advanced age, at least in appearance. Yet, he was as much a fixture of lowtown in Limsa Lominsa as the buildings themselves. Though he only operated at night (Keeper born, was he, and he claimed old age had made him too sensitive to the light of the sun to tolerate it), he was as respected as anyone could be in the city. Few were those who thought to mess with him, and those were always sure to find out just how many championed the old man.


"Me nephew 'ain't come back."


Zhi eyed him, curious, and let her expression twist to annoyance. "So?"


"Ye've needuva job, dovey."


Zhi's expression fell into something more dour at the words. Rumors flew faster than seabirds in Limsa, and her own fall from what little grace she'd commanded was a constant thorn in her side. Damnable jacks. "So?"


"I'll back ye." He was serious, his rheumy eyes intent upon her. Keto'to rarely intervened in any circumstance, preferring to keep to his ragpicker's stall and his neutrality. All the same, his word carried weight among those Zhi trucked with. Weight that she desperately needed -- Flit's own aid nonwithstanding.


Her ears pricked forward. "Yeah? Fer what?"


"Find me lad."


"Why me?"


Keto'to hesitated, his own ears flicking sideways. His tail lashed behind him, and his mouth pulled down. "He was nosin' 'round wi' the Oaths. Few're willin' t' --"


"Th' Oaths? What d'ye take me fer, a gadabout? Ain't no way I --"


"Five hunnerd."


The words stopped Zhi cold, mouth open and ears back. She closed her mouth, then swore, then tipped her head back with a groan. She folded her arms, her mouth working, not liking the implications and disliking her own greed even less. She needed the money. She needed someone to bolster her sputtering reputation.


She needed work.


"Up front," she snapped.


He dug around in his trousers and came up with a small pouch.


Sonuvabitch, he'd waited for her.


"There's some what're new t'the city what might fill in yer own gaps."


She'd been out of the thick of things for awhile. He knew she'd be unable to be efficient on her own. It rankled.


"Yeah, I'll find 'em." She snatched the pouch from him, stuffed it down her shirt, and turned away. Her need of new clothes forgotten, she'd started walking when he called after her.




She looked back.


"If. . .if it's his body ye find. . .don't -- bring me back th'name o' them what took him from me afore y'tell me. Hear me?"


With a sinking feeling in her gut, Zhi nodded and went to go search the dives and hangouts where lowlifes collected.


She needed information.

Link to comment

Ludivine Goultard slowly moved one leg up and crossed it over the other. The sounds of violence and fury carried through the doors of the Bismark - locked while one of the chefs was detained (and equally beaten) by the Yellowjackets. 


A lazy grin crept across Ludivine's face. Her position at one of the tables just outside the establishment afforded her the pleasure of hearing the chaos that stirred within. What a waste of a man. Always lauded over for his cooking, which to Ludivine tasted no better than a corpse of one of the fishbacks his father was with. That was his mistake: The pitiful little confession he made to his love one night on the docks, of a father who abandoned him for the Serpent Reavers, but oh! How he struggled to make a name for himself, and how he loved her dearly no matter what whispers were made around him.


That was his mistake. Thinking that life might hold any more promise than a drop in the ocean. What a pain it was, having to hear that boring little tirade to his sweetheart. Ludivine wasn't the kind of person to pass up such an opportunity.


It only took a short few days to knock up a quick fake of a letter from the chef's father. Her Sahagin writing had been immaculate, and contained enough fake details about the father and son's correspondence and plotting that even that annoying Baderion would rush off some fresh faced loser to give his report to Coral Tower. And hey, who's to say it wasn't true anyway? Maybe the chef was plotting to poison the Admiral after proving himself at next week's big gala. Maybe there was more poison around the storeroom than Ludivine had slipped in one day in the past week.


A sadistic chuckle escaped her lips and she shook her head. All it took was a bit of information, and you could twist the world however you wanted. 


She relaxed her face and her softly curved duskwright ears perked up slightly at the sound of doors opening from the rear of the restaurant. A shame. She wouldn't get to see the man being dragged past her in shackles, his face bloodied and broken. Oh well. What a pain.


She slowly rolled herself off her chair and stood up, rubbing the back of her neck. The day was still young, and maybe the city had more to exploit. 


A gentle smile masked her dark pleasure as she strode in the direction of the parts of town where whispers were business.

Link to comment

Since Zhavi had returned to the more obvious streets of Limsa, this was the first time in several days she'd been out and about during the day. Two bad leads had convinced her to commit herself to the daytrippers' world, sunburn and heatstroke be damned.


Digging out informants was a tricky business. While some kept regular hours and regular reputations, plenty more skulked around the outskirts doing what they pleased and talking only to those they deemed approach; Zhi's problem was that the regulars didn't want to be seen speaking to her. She was barred, and had to rely on rumors and gossip to find those who could tickle her ear with something a little more substantial than old cobwebs. Or tales from last night's drinking.


She'd stumbled across her fair share of those.


It was on lowtown's Beggar's Walk -- an old boardwalk connecting two old and decrepit docks -- that she first heard a few scraps about a duskwight woman with some peculiar habits. She dismissed it at first, until she heard it again from an old gossip of a fishwife near South Walk Dock. Third time was the charm, this time from a man selling collected baubles spat up from the sea; notorious for some outrageous falsehoods, the man had been right enough times for Zhi to not discount him.


Walking back east, she crossed a few bridges to spires more central to the city, not optimistic at her chances of finding the woman where it was said she tended to roam. A few bells passed, by which time Zhi was sweating and likely more than a little sunburned, complete with bad attitude, when she passed an alley that opened up into a wider street, and caught sight of a duskwight woman matching the description she'd been given.


It was a longshot, but a better lead than her thus far fruitless wandering.


Zhi followed the elezen, hands shoved in her pockets and a scowl on her face.

Link to comment

The light of daytime provided little interest for Ludivine. Her latest fun had just ended, so now she had to rely on people coming to her, and come they did. People with small problems like forgetting the time, or where the docks were, or who to see to order some herbs.  She didn't quite relish in it, but she never passed up her chances for small answers. She never drew attention to herself, her ponderous gait and relaxed demeanor giving off the impression of someone quietly enjoying life. So she gave advice, short words of help, and always kept her ears open.


So it was that as she wandered she found herself being followed, just as the sun was beginning its descent in the sky. 


She made no attempt to change her walking pace, or spring to fear. A few slight glances at the reflection of the woman behind her - as she passed the occasional window or crystal, revealed her as neither a guard nor an official, looking far too lazily garbed to be either.


Ludivine just raised an eyebrow to herself and continued walking, leading around to near the Aftcastle, before slowing her walking just enough for her to be intentionally approached.

Link to comment

Zhi wanted to be seen. She was by no means a threatening figure; she was scrawny, and looked the part of a guttersnipe, all dirty and ragged. She was underslept, as usual, and it showed.


She took the opportunity Goultard gave her without questioning it, ambling up alongside the woman as if she hadn't a care in the world. Zhi stank, as usual, the depth of that stink mitigated only by the overpowering odor of saltwater and fish; she'd spent a fair amount of time with fishermen, given that smell.


"Hear ye like gossip," Zhi said, some small edge creeping into her voice. The Aftcastle was home to the Maelstrom's HQ, and she was not particularly keen to stay anywhere near there for long.

Link to comment

She smell of the woman - or...maybe girl? - gave her away more than anything. Not that Ludivine reacted much to it. She had lived in much worse horror and stench, until it cloyed her very senses; though she still took it into account as the girl rounded on her.


Her lips parted very slightly as she studied the figure. Her mind ticking slowly as she took it all in and considered what approach to take to the situation. It didn't take her long to decide, and her lips closed in a gentle smile, her incredibly blue and piercing eyes showing no hint of malice, only the vaguely distant look somewhere between interest and boredom.


"Is that what people say now, huh?" Her voice was soft and calming, almost sounding unassuming. It was the voice that always won the trust of people around her. "I suppose I do, though I won't say I make a trade of it." She did her best to look sheepish, rubbing the back of her neck with a hand.


The Miqo'te's slight unease meant Ludivine had control of the conversation, which she liked. She liked being needed for something. It meant you had power. It meant you could manipulate what people gave you in return. She grin she was suppressing never even displayed a hint on her face.

Link to comment

Zhi shrugged. "People like t'talk." She looked past Goultard in short glances, keeping tabs on the crowd. In particular, who was in the crowd. It was discreetly done, though she didn't take any pains to keep it from the elezen.


"'Specially when there's trouble afoot. Ye like trouble?"

Link to comment

Ludivine laughed slightly, a hint of acted shyness in her voice. "Not so much? Aren't there guards for that sort of thing?"


She thumbed in the direction of the Maelstrom HQ, watching to see how the girl would react. There was no way she wanted things to actually go to the guards though...unless that made things more...interesting.


Of course this all depended on what the Miqo'te wanted. Ludivine loved chaos, but she wasn't about to let that slip, especially not to some brat who looked like she couldn't even spell the word "fun", let alone have any idea of what Ludivine's version of it was. The fact she seemed to know something about her tendencies put her slightly on guard.

Link to comment

Zhi cocked an eyebrow. "No? Then mebbe I've been listenin' t'the wrong waggin' tongues. Me own mistake; I'll jes have t'find one what does."


Or, find the woman again later, perhaps, if she didn't take the bait. Zhi couldn't afford getting caught, and she couldn't afford staying near red-and-yellow central any longer than necessary. She winked at Goultard, and turned to leave.

Link to comment

The Elezan ran her tongue along her teeth as the girl turned away, watching as she put some distance between them both. After a short few moments of thought, she started walking in the same direction as the girl, following her along.


"Well, suppose I ended up letting you wander into this trouble alone, I guess it wouldn't be very kind of me." She rubbed her neck while walking - not so close to the Miqo'te as to make them seem together, but close enough that she could lower her voice just enough for the few people around not to be alerted to them. "Maybe somebody said something. Though it's probably best I don't get involved." She laughed shyly again, patting her empty sides. Ludivine never carried weapons - she wasn't a thug or a killer, and certainly not a wanna-be hero.


She did her best to match strides with the girl, which probably wasn't hard due to their difference in height. A few sharp rays of red sun cut through the banners and fauna around the Aftcastle, dancing brief moments of light across the two as darkness began to rise over Limsa.

Link to comment

Ludivine raised an eyebrow. "I didn't take you as either of those. Oh." She laughs again, the same way as usual. "You mean someone's in trouble? But really, that's not something I'm good at, you know? So why'd you come find me? You seemed to know about me."


Her questions had a sharp bite to them, each one verbally punctuated, expecting an answer.


She paid little attention to where the Miqo'te was leading them. If it was a trap, it wouldn't bother her. She was a nobody. Being mugged was something you could recover from. And nobody knew about the machinations and chaos she had seeded through the world in her years.


Ludivine sighed. She didn't like boring stuff like this. If she had to go pick up some drunkard old uncle from the gutters...Goddess, what a pain that would be. She'd make sure to remember the girl if she turned out to be some bright-eyed little upstart.

Link to comment

Tension seemed to bleed out of Zhi the further away they walked from the Aftcastle. And they did walk; though there were any number of places she could have stopped at, she bypassed all of them. "If it ain't, no use followin' me. Can't keep meself out o' it, I can't. An' if ye ain't. . .kind, then mebbe I've been on after th'wrong waggin' tongues."


She looked askance at Goultard, gauging the woman's expression. She smiled, and shrugged.


"It'd jes be too much work fer a lass like yerself. I wouldn't want t'strain yer good graces."

Link to comment

She kept following without responding at first, just mulling things over. This wasn't like her. Besides, she could only work with a plan, improvisation was tough, and never as fun. The best part about hurting people was waiting for the moment to come when their heart broke - when you could see their poor souls be crushed by your words. Haha...damn, what was the fun if you couldn't see that moment coming.


Ludivine stopped and scowled. This brat was ruining her mood. It was enough that the Miqo'te was almost taunting her with her words. It was pissing her off.


"So how come you decided to come to me?"

Link to comment

Zhi's grin was sudden, wide, and showed most of her teeth. "Ran out o' options, heard some fishwife gabblin' on 'bout some elezen walkin' all th' wrong circles."


She paused, grin dimming, and tapped a finger against her chin. She slowed. "'R all th'right ones. Plenty o'faces in th'city, so why's yer face comin' up now, after I've been up an' down? Either yer sunk an' ain't worth me time, or. . ." she stopped, "folk ain't seen 'nuff o' yerself t'put no pieces t'gether, an' yer more interestin' then ye seem t'be."


Zhi thumbed her nose. "What do I know, noways? I'm jes some lowly streetrunner." She started walking again.

Link to comment

Ludivine grinned and started following again. "Haha. That's a nice lie. And I'm just another informant with a smile. So how can this informant help a lowly streetrunner like yourself on this night?"


This girl at least had more smarts than a good proportion of this wide city, and Ludivine wasn't that slow that she didn't start to work out that most of the stuff the girl was telling her was a lie. It was all about her attitude. 


Though maybe she was stupider than she thought she was. Most people who needs things at least make a bit of a pretense at being desperate - leaving the helper in control of things - but this was a rope, to entice Ludivine. Nobody who was really desperate would suggest that they could go elsewhere, which suggested this Miqo'te had something Ludivine could enjoy...maybe.

Link to comment

"Missin' Keeper." Zhi shoved her hands back into her pockets. "Normally ain't worth me time, 'cept he was runnin' 'round wi' the Oaths. No one wants nothin' t'do wi' it -- so his uncle called in a favor wi' me."


Her right ear flicked towards Goultard. "That too much trouble fer a kind lass like yerself?"

Link to comment

The Elezan couldn't suppress her mad grin. Yes...this was something fun, indeed.


"No trouble at all. Call it helping a girl in need, right?"


She moved closer to the Miqo'te, not worrying about being seen with her now as they strode through the streets of Limsa Lominsa. Her mind flooded with ideas and plans. She wasn't even sure if she was planning on actually helping the girl, but she knew she had a way to solve the situation.


"You can cut the ill-fitting names. I'm Ludivine." She smiled down at the girl as they walked side-by-side, her eyes fierce and calculating. "Maybe we should share what we know."


Shadows fell on the city-state as night began its rule of the sky.

Link to comment

Zhi's return smile was genuine in its mirth, though it only flashed for a few seconds before it dimmed. Still, her demeanor was one of amusement. "Kink," she said, her return sally to the introductions. She turned them south, towards Fisherman's Bottom, and one of her favorite dives: Her Highness. It was a small ship, cozied up behind the Fisherman's Guild: neutral territory and loud, with a strict prohibition on violence upheld by all its regulars.


She walked slowly.


"Jahi'a is th'lad's name. Goes by Scuzz. Young adult. Dab hand wi' alchemy, from what I hear. Likely why he's been rumored t'be hangin' round Oath. Supposedly." She spat. "Can't convince me they ain't more'n some wives' tale -- contract killers what kill fer pleasure o'er gil. Ain't make much sense t'me, nor them bein' so secretive." She rolled her eyes. "But people get spooked, an' no use botherin' wi' somethin' might get ye killed. I wouldn't've, not 'cept his uncle bribin' me wi' favors. Keto'to, calls hisself Guttersnipe. Old Keeper. He's th'lad's uncle. Heard o' him?"

Link to comment

"The names aren't much to me, but I've heard a thing or two about the Oathsworn. Pretty tasteless if you ask me. Can't teach someone a lesson if they're dead, or so I see it." Ludivine shrugged and scanned her eyes over the ship as they approached.


So the Miqo'te was afraid. Interesting. Still, what was more interesting was the thought of someone actually bothering to go after her. Sure, she was a brat who couldn't keep smart words pouring out of her mouth if you sowed her shut, but there wasn't much else in her worth killing for. At least not by first impressions.


It pissed Ludivine off that she couldn't read Zhi well, though she figured it wouldn't matter much. Maybe she resented Ludivine for needing to come to her for information, but she could feel however she damned pleased - Ludivine wasn't about to waste her time on soothing some loser kitty's conscience.

Link to comment

Zhi shrugged; she could appreciate having someone be dead, had contracted such services for her own needs in the past when she could afford it. Problem with such services was that you got what you paid for, and she could never quite pay enough.


The walk-up to the ship was damp, and smelled strongly of fish, vomit and alcohol. Typical for a dive bar, typical for lowtown. All the same, there was a hint of something delicious marinating under the nastiness, and it mixed with the other scents to form something truly nauseating. Smelled like home.


She paused with her foot on the plank that served as entrance to the ship, and turned to Goultard. "So then, mate, ye ripe t'help me in me search, or am I drinkin' by me lonesome t'night?"


Zhi had no need for Goultard if they weren't dealing, and she'd no intention of social niceties with the other woman if there wasn't anything in it for her.

Link to comment

Ludivine sighed and rubbed her neck. "I told you I was, didn't I?" She scratched an ear idly and glanced sideways at Zhi. "Out of curiosity, though, what were you planning on doing if I didn't have what you needed to know?"


She wasn't a fan of the smell of fish. In spite of everything, she never got used to it. She found it funny how no matter what hell you go through, a new sensation can often be cruelly sharp; then again, when you spend too much time in the darkness, stepping into the light burned.


Clicking her tongue, she glanced up at the gangplank and where it led.

Link to comment

"Did ye?" Zhi's smirk was nasty. Her ears flicked to the sides and then back as she walked up the plank and onto the ship. She shrugged again, taking the narrow stairs down into the refitted lower deck that served as bar and general hangout of ne'er-do-wells. "I'd've found me a lass wi' a prettier face."


The bar was crowded as it ever was at night. The lighting had been done with care; taverns were usually powder kegs, but being on the water added new, funner dangers. The 'keep was behind his well-worn and oiled bar, filling orders and keeping a weather eye on his clientele when possible. He was tough, old hand, and an ugly fuck to boot. He'd been through the grinder, and was near impossible to make flinch. He'd seen all matter of toughs, and had all number of toughs kicked out for causing problems.


The rest of the clientele was scarce better: a smelly, raucous, jovial crowd as apt to drink as game as deal. Though newcomers were noticed and noted, most of them kept to their own business, though there were plenty who wouldn't mind eavesdropping should they be able to over the din. Thing was, the din made it particularly difficult; it was why it was one of Zhi's favored spots to meet folk.


Well, had been. Now that she had a bounty on her head she was shy of making any public appearances, but since she was going to be edging out into the open to find the gadabout lad, she might as well prove she hadn't gone totally craven. The disinterest that was shown her entrance was almost insulting, but she swallowed it with what good grace she had and picked her way over to a small table in the middle of the room. Not ideal seating, but the place was almost full. It couldn't be helped.


Service was slow, what with the crowd, so Zhi started talking. A wench would come over eventually, and she wasn't about to fight her way through the press at the bar. "Th'lad was visitin' from out o'town. Been here fer a moon afore he vanished, spent most his time off th'docks 'round th'south spire. Easiest place t'start askin' questions, seems t'me."

Link to comment

Bumbling and apologising her way through the throngs of people laughing, drinking, and generally throwing up on the floor, Ludivine followed Zhi to the table that was somewhat empty, if certainly not clear or clean. She brushed some...something off the seat and sat down, disliking the immediate sticky feeling that touched her body even through her clothes.


The sudden pride that Zhi seemed to bustle with bothered Ludivine; she ignored it for now and just made a mental note of it, along with the rest of the things she seemed to display. It would be slow, but the Elezen had a vague sense that she was close to figuring out the Miqo'te.


"Here's a hypothetical." She said slowly. "Suppose you managed to find someone who knew where the guy was. And then suppose you were told the hard part wasn't finding him so much as finding and keeping in one piece." She played with a bang of her hair, twisting it idly around a finger. Overall, this hadn't been very fun so far, but it had the potential to be. Ludivine liked potential - it made the build up to the ending all that much sweeter.

Link to comment

Zhi rolled her eyes. "Me job's t'find him. If Keto'to wants t'pay fer keepin' him in one piece, then we'll gab a bit further. But 'less ye got some wicked contacts up yer sleeves, seems t'me findin' him's gonna be th'pretty trick."


She wasn't sure she liked the idea of a long, extended contract. Those always seemed to end up on the messy side of how-screwed-can-Zhi-be . . . but money was money, and she always needed more of it.

Link to comment
  • Create New...