|One or the Other
Author: GamberDragon PM
FE10:AUish/PlotTwister. The search for one of the Heron royals begins. Sothe made his choice - which is all the better for Volke. Protecting someone is difficult when they're not around, after all. Volke/Sothe. (DISCONTINUED)Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Romance - Sothe & Volke - Chapters: 10 - Words: 67,387 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 08-16-11 - Published: 11-15-09 - id: 5513451
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
One or the Other
Chapter One - To Do What is Necessary
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, plot, or anything else from Fire Emblem.
Though the streets of Nevassa were, as of yet, still covered in soot and debris from Begnion's terror - there was a certain freshness to be felt. It was as if the earth itself was breathing in a sigh of relief from the removal of Daein's former tormentor, in its joy, making a simple celebration in the form of fresh air to breath anew. As if to join its friend far below, the Sun peaked out of its place blocked behind fluffy white clouds, bathing workers and civilians in its warm glow.
Sothe took in a breath - lips momentarily quirking at the cleanliness of the air - before letting it out in a calming exhale. He had stared his search for Volke last night, and the rays from the molten orb in the sky was a welcome change from the cool-silvery light of the moon. Though the sister of the sun would be ideal for his mission soon (if he had any say about it) - it wasn't as of yet. His leads, in the form of people with knowledge and voices, would not be out when darkness cloaked the world. The moon would be his companion only when he had a soft clue as to where his lover was.
But, he didn't have a clue (yet), so - brushing a strand of green hair out of his face - he reveled in his opportunity to enjoy the heat of the sun. Sothe wrapped a few fingers around his shirt and adjusted it carefully before deeming himself presentable for Nevassa. Not that he needed to look even remotely great - what with the Capital trying to right itself from Begnion's occupation and having no opportunity to focus on hygiene - it just helped to charm people.
Even though it had the edge of vanity in it - the idea was necessary; he had an assassin to find, and he needed every advantage he could get. So, after smoothing down his shirt, adjusting his pack (received last night from Daein Castle), and making sure his dagger was in safe reach, Sothe stepped out of the mouth alley he had been standing in for the last few minutes.
The sounds of hammering and shouts were everywhere, making the streets of Nevassa the liveliest they had ever been. Or from what Sothe had seen; he had been living in Daein when King Ashnard had reigned, and that was hardly a 'lively' time. That had been when he was younger. For more recent times, just a few days ago, there had been no action in this town - not with Jarod and Numida creating havoc.
Sothe had to admit, this was the best he had ever seen of his hometown, and it was a definite bolster for his spirit. A new spring to his step, the rogue set off into the crowd, stopping to talk when a civilian recognized him as a hero of the war.
"Sir Sothe," a man garbed in simple, but sturdy brown clothes spoke to him eagerly, "It was such an honor to fight under you." Sothe stared at him, trying to spark some kind of memory in his mind of what the man's name was. His silence went a little to long, but the man just smiled good-naturedly, "You don't have to know my name, sir! You were under a lot of pressure in the war."
He paused for breath, "I was surprised many times during the conflict - we would win when the outcome seemed so far… Sir Sothe, you're someone I will look up to eternally."
The green-haired man shifted in discomfort, "Please, don't call me 'Sir Sothe', just 'Sothe' will do - please. Formality makes me uncomfortable." the man looked uncertain for a moment before nodding reluctantly, shuffling leather-covered feet.
"Thank you." Sothe offered the distressed man a barely noticeable smile - luckily, the man knew how he acted normally so he accepted it full-heartedly. The man beamed back, the grin so bright it made Sothe want to flinch.
"So, what is your name?" the rogue asked mostly out of courtesy, smile falling away (which wasn't uncommon for him, so the former-soldier took now notice).
The blonde haired man continued to smile happily, scratching at the back of his neck sheepishly all the while, "Terik Ormond, Sir- I mean…Sothe." he stumbled slightly with the 'sir' and said the rogues name with a long pause just prior.
"Nice to meet you face-to-face, Terik." the mint-haired man considered the possibilities of this man knowing anything about assassins momentarily. Probably not, but there was always the off-chance, and that was a strong enough reason for him. "Terik, may I ask you something?"
The man nodded quickly, jumping at the chance to help his idol, "What is it, Si-" he paused, rethinking his reply, "Sothe?"
"Do you know anything about the world of Assassins?" the rogue decided to phrase his question bluntly, no point beating around the bush. The man blinked and suddenly a wash of emotions flooded his face, the dominant one noticeably known as worried.
After a few moments of waiting for a reply from the honey-haired man, Sothe was about to apologize and tell him to forget about it. However, the man spoke up meekly before he could open his mouth, "If I answer that positively…Are you going to go there?"
Sothe blinked at the pure worry in the man's eyes before a wave of realization hit him - this man had a crush on him. He had a hero worshipper? How unexpected. The green haired man brushed those thoughts away, turning to the stricken-looking man - he had to probe Terik delicately if he wanted any information.
"Not particularly, Terik…I might," the man flinched in fear, but Sothe pressed on, "But not without a good sized group of people with me." Terik relaxed slightly, shoulders easing downwards, and Sothe mentally cheered himself on before continuing, "There might be someone who was kidnapped by someone else." Sothe lied easily and vaguely - figuring there was no harm done.
The man's blue eyes widened drastically, and he stuttered out, "I-I do know something, Sir Sothe!" he flushed and corrected himself hurriedly, "Sothe, I mean." he was nodding frantically and shaking almost enough to worry the rogue.
"Don't worry, Terik, we'll take care of the kidnapping." he assured the trembling man, in response the blonde stopped shuddering, his hero's words comforting his nerves. Sothe tried to picture this man in armor and on the field fighting, but was having a hard time conjuring the image. Oh well, this man was going to help him find Volke, "Terik, perhaps you could tell me what you know over something to drink?"
When the man's blue eyes lit up, Sothe immediately regretted his decision - but what could he do? He needed privacy to get this information. However - he couldn't just let the man hope for something, "Iced juice?" he added meaningfully.
Immediately, the man's shoulders slumped in disappointment - or maybe it was just Sothe's ability to read people. To other civilians and workers passing them, it wouldn't have been noticeable - especially not the way Terik's sky-blue eyes dulled.
Sothe blinked and for a moment, dark-red eyes flashed through his mind's eye - full of that same dullness, hidden much more carefully, hidden to the point that Sothe hadn't even realized that they were hurt until just then. Golden-eyes widened - staring at the blue in front of him, a stronger version of the same pain he had seen in Volke's red three years ago.
Volke - he had been more effected than he had let on, and Sothe had only just now realized? The green-haired youth suddenly felt uncertainty. Would the man ever accept Sothe back into his life? Though Terik showed more pain, it was because he wasn't used to hiding it, unlike Volke.
Sothe was silent for a moment, and slowly Terik pulled out of his sadness to notice the glazed look in his idol's eyes. Despite the fact that his idol had just rejected him, the blonde couldn't push away the concern he felt for him, "Sir Sothe?"
Golden eyes snapped back into awareness and focused back on the honey-haired man in front of him, "I'm sorry, what?" the man shook his head and Sothe shifted on his feet, "Do you still want to go for a drink?" at the forlorn expression on Terik's face, the rogue feared he had just blown his chance for information.
"Y-yes…Someone's been kidnapped, I will do everything to help." he quieted at the end, thinking to himself, and even though you don't want any romantic thing with me, I want to at a memory that I could pretend to call a date…
Suppressing the urge to sigh in relief, Sothe offered a gentle smile to the man who's hopes he crushed, "Shall we, then?" he offered an arm to the man, deciding to humor him. Terik broke into a smile, but he understood that this was merely kindness on his idol's part - a sort of understanding of his wishes.
This indeed would contribute to the dreams that he was on a date with Sir Sothe; the blue-eyed man took the offered arm, subtly admiring the smoothness but strength the bare skin offered. He had always thought that the man was handsome, and this idea was only increased by the closeness to his hero he was able to experience on this now memorable day.
As they walked down the busy, light-bathed street, their linked arms drew stares - and despite Sothe's worry that the populace might get the wrong idea, he thought back to those dull blue eyes…and then, to some extent, dull red eyes - he couldn't seem to find it within his heart to pull away.
There were various refreshment shops stationed around the rebuilding Daein city all serving at all times for the restoration of their beloved Capital. Sothe spotted one that was currently scarce of other civilians and set out for it, Terik in tow. The woman at the counter smiled brightly at them, asking in a laughing voice if they would like a large mug for two.
Sothe shook his head negatively, "Two small drinks - I'll have a cherry ice…" he turned to Terik standing beside him, "What would you like?"
He hummed in response before glancing at the simple sheet sitting on the vendor's table, "I'll have a strawberry ice…" Sothe turned to the woman who was already setting to work, the rogue watched in interest.
About two years ago, the mage-counsel of Begnion had come up with a spell that could freeze food no matter the location. Even though it was founded in one area, intelligent magic-wielders around the continent had picked up on it, touching every area but Goldoa with its use. Now, a year after that, the spell was well-developed enough that even common-folk could use it.
Though this had been happening, Sothe hadn't had a chance to observe it - being busy with the Dawn Brigade had its limiting factors. He took his chance now to watch as the woman made their iced-juices; she took two wooden tankards, filled one with dark-red ice and the other with light-red ice. After filling them to the brim, she set them down on a metal plate, the female brushed back a strand of black hair from her eyes and turned to Sothe, "It'll be ready in a few moments, if you would sit down, I'd be happy to bring it to you, Sir Sothe."
The green-haired man sighed inaudibly at the formal-title but nodded anyways, "Thank you, madam, that would be most welcome." he bowed shortly - if only to humor her - and turned away, hesitating when he finally noticed that Terik was no longer with him.
Under a canopy not too far away, the blonde man was already sitting, staring at the hustle-and-bustle around him, as if feeling Sothe's gaze, he turned to the rogue and indicated at him to come sit down. The mint-haired man nodded and joined him, sitting at the chair stiffly - he allowed his posture to relax when Terik looked at him oddly.
When his honey-haired companion failed to start any conversation, Sothe leaned his head back against the wood behind him, eyes closing. He wasn't letting down his guard, he was just cutting off his sight for better use of his hearing - right now, when information was needed, it was necessary to eavesdrop.
"I lost my bag, Marlin, I know I did! Why weren't you taking more care to watch my things?!"
"S-sweetheart, I'm sure you just left it at home…"
"I'm pretty sure I would've been aware of keeping my bag at home, idiot!"
Definitely not what he was looking for.
"Oh, darling, this is the happiest day of my life…We're free of Begnion and now this…"
"A rare, high-priced ruby? Where the hell are you going to get that?"
"It's in a cave…East of here, I believe."
"Well, I'm not going, that's too far!"
"You're so damn lazy…Fine, I'll get it myself. But I'm not sharing the prize with you."
"Waaitt, that's not fair, we're supposed to be friends!"
Though it piqued his interest as a thief, it wasn't what he was looking for, he was about to listen in further when Terik cleared his throat. Golden eyes snapped open and Sothe sat up in the chair, blinking at the blonde man across from him, and then down at the iced-cherry drink in front of him.
Clearing his throat (a longer chance to think up an excuse as to why he was not paying attention to his companion) before speaking, "Sorry, Terik, I haven't gotten much sleep since the conflict ended - I must of dozed off for a few minutes."
Blue eyes cleared of any possible hurt before filling again with concern, "You should be getting more sleep, Si-Sothe, you've done your part, it's time to rest!" he stopped and coughed in embarrassment, "S-sorry, it isn't really my place to say anything…"
Sothe shook his head, "It's fine. I'll keep that in mind, thanks, Terik." the blonde beamed before picking up his iced-juice and a spoon. "Ah, the check!"
The rogue's companion swallowed his strawberry-flavored ice hastily at reply, "I paid for it, I hope you aren't too upset, Sir - er, Sothe." he lowered his head, smiled softly, and gazed up at the mint-haired man to judge his reaction.
"It's alright…Though I wish we would've split the bill." Sothe reassured, frowning slightly down at his hands folded before him on the wooden table.
"No no, this was quite a treat for me - treating you to iced-juice, Sothe!" blue eyes practically twinkled, as if shouting their agreement with his words. "Honestly, don't be regretful."
Sothe's lips quirked, "If you put it that way - thank you, Terik, for the drink."
"You're welcome!" the beam sent his way almost blinded Sothe, but he hid his flinch, prompting to glance down at his drink and take a spoonful into his mouth. "I never knew this would be such a great day when I stepped into town…" when Sothe determined the words to be more spoken to himself, the green-haired man decided to bring up the topic he was eager for.
Clearing his throat to get the happy man's attention, he stared when he acquired it, "Terik, I was wondering if you could tell me about the world of the Assassins - everything you know." the man's eyes suddenly got a lot more sober at these words.
"Oh…Right. Well, I don't know much, but I know enough - my brother is an assassin, that's why I know anything about the world at all. Anyways, the world of the assassins aren't quite an organization - not enough people work together, there are some, but most are solo killers." he took a breath and lowered his spoon into his juice, when the instrument slid in effortlessly he blinked. Setting the spoon aside, he took a sip of the strawberry drink.
Lowering the cup once again, he started up again, "Sorry - the world of assassins is set underground - set up below a tavern in each Capital City. Nevassa, Melior - somewhere in Begnion as well, but it's too large for anyone but assassins to really know."
"They're even in Begnion?" Sothe asked, incredulity lacing his voice, not really asking for conformation, but voicing his opinion of that. The blonde across from him nodded anyways despite his understanding - he himself surprised by this.
The green-haired rogue apologized quickly for his interruption before quickly indicating with a hand at Terik to continue, "I'm not sure exactly where the tavern is that leads to the underground is, but I'm sure someone does…Once you find this tavern, you have to ask the barkeeper some type of question to get into the underground, anyways…" he inhaled harshly, "You can usually find merchants there at all times, and they know more about the whereabouts of some of the assassins." he paused, "But you wouldn't be interested by that…"
Sothe internally corrected that statement, you have no idea how much I appreciate this knowledge, Terik… Sorry for lying, but it's necessary.
"I don't know how long it will take for you to find a kidnapped person in there, but I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out, of all people." when Terik's eyes started to get large with his awe of his idol, Sothe knew it was time to leave.
What would be the best way…? Right. "About that - thank you for your help - but I really need to get down their with my allies to save the man." he scanned the blonde's face subtly for any disappointment, luckily, there was none.
"Right, you're right, Sothe! You have people to save even now, and I'm blocking your way!" Terik stood hastily and shuffled his feet nervously. Golden eyes filled with slight amusement at the man's frankness and eagerness.
It would probably be best to reassure him though, "It's fine Terik, I'm sure I still have time." he inclined a head towards the blue-eyed man, "It has been nice talking to you, perhaps we'll meet again someday." he was away before Terik could even question the meaning of his words.
Sothe let his feet swiftly carry him away, stopping when he was a few blocks away from the blonde haired worshipper. Barely winded, Sothe glanced around at his surroundings - many of these buildings were wearing away, and somehow, the burning sun didn't seem as warm in this area. There was also a decided lack of people around in this part. Rubbing his arms to rid himself of goose-bumps, the rogue slowly crept forward, keeping his eyes peeled for any shady characters.
He wouldn't put it past Nevassa to still house thugs or just plain blood-thirsty criminals - that's how long the capital had gone without any order. Then again, when Ashnard had ruled, it wasn't much better. In fact, with the man's promises of high rank in the army, all criminals and brawlers were trying to cause havoc.
A scuttling sound to the left of him, made the rogue tense, he continued walking but continuously kept glancing over his left shoulder. Not too obviously, but enough to watch his back. A splitting sound from somewhere in front of him made the rogue curse internally. Maybe it wasn't the best idea to come this way - but, somehow, something inside of him was telling his brain that this was the right way to go.
Of course, 'the world of assassins' being underground and somewhat shady sounding, this did seem like the ideal spot. However, just how much would he have to go through to reach his destination? A thud echoed through the empty streets, sounding much like a brick meeting with the ground.
Sothe calmly rubbed the hilt of his dagger, the movement looking like he was merely scratching his leg to the eyes of any possible enemies. The shatter of glass and a shadow falling over him made the knife ease its way out of its sheath - the movement was lightning quick and was enough to startle his stalker.
Fazed only for a moment, a man of tall stature and rank smell stumbled towards the rogue in front of him - the mint-haired man just stepped aside, watching with unimpressed eyes as the idiot fell to the ground. How intimidating. Right.
Sothe leapt forward, landing right on top of his clumsy foe - a clean cut to the throat silenced the man's drunken babble. Despite the exceedingly easy battle, the rogue was disappointed by himself, "What I want to know is how a drunk man snuck up on me…"
Shaking his head at himself, the green-haired man continued on a few more steps for pausing once again - wasn't there a noise from in front of him…? He whipped his head to the side just in time for a whistling noise to fly past his ear and Sothe cursed at himself vehemently - if that was another drunk (with luck aim), he was going to stop his mission an train non-stop for a few weeks!
Sothe spun around to the source of the flying knife and growled to see that it was a man dressed completely in black…An assassin. Ashera, that's the last thing I need at the moment! Nothing for it, though. Where could I run to? No sure-safe place to hide, I'm too far away from civilization to run - who knows how fast he is…
The rogue jumped backwards as the man suddenly was a blur - reappearing right in front of him, "Damn!" Sothe jumped backwards, throwing a knife at his aggressive attacker, the man dodged just in time, counterattacking with some knives of his own. The rogue dropped to the ground, pushing downwards to propel himself upwards again - landing right in front of the assassin. He ran his dagger down the man's shoulder before he could get away again.
After following him with his eyes, Sothe backed a few paces away from the black-clothed killer, taking a deep-calming breath. They stared at each other for a while, then - golden eyes caught a slight tensing of shoulders on the assassin and breathed in sharply. Lethality? Growling in frustration, Sothe sped towards his target with new-found power… I don't think so. The man had just barely feigned backwards when a dagger plunged smoothly through his heart.
Flipping backwards, Sothe shuddered in a few, harsh breaths, "That was a little to close." If the killer had pulled of Lethality, that would have been the end of everything, "I need to get myself a Nihil scroll…" after cleaning his blade, he kept it in hand and walked towards the corpse warily. Who knows what other skills the assassin could have?
After determining no breathing, Sothe crouched down and turned the body over - he pulled aside the cowl and took in the face of the man he had killed. Nothing special, normal features, except for the scar on his left cheek - no doubt a scar from battle. Or perhaps a bad childhood; one could never tell from just a quick glance at a corpse.
Sothe stared at the dead face for a moment, considering - would the under-ground let just anyone into their domain? He groaned and slowly stood up - next he took hold of the dead man's legs and pulled him towards a nearby empty stone hut. Black hair dragged through dirt and dust as Sothe struggled to bring the body into the house.
Once indoors, he dropped the man's legs with a thud and spun around to check for any more enemies, seeing none he turned back to his latest kill. Crouching down to his knees once again, the rogue scolded himself for what he was about to do, but - as usual - it was necessary. Biting his lip, he slowly rid the man of his clothes until he was in nothing but his undergarments.
Who knows where these clothes have been…And I'm wearing them - Ashera this is messed up. Sothe pulled the mass of black into his arms and stepped a good few feet away from the robbed man. He ran his hands along the fabric, searching for any remaining belongings. Fingers caught on something and the rogue nimbly reached into the shirt, finding pockets hidden along the fabric.
He blinked at the feel of a well carved item, he pulled it out curiously and stared at the smooth, stone sigil resting on his palm. It was a black cat, a trail of dark blue flame on one side of it… What the…I wonder what it is? Sothe shrugged after a moment and pocketed it, perhaps it would be useful, I feel dirty for doing this, stealing from the dead. He sighed and pushed the thoughts away, going back to his search of the mans belongings.
Knives, a vulnerary, two daggers - one well used - , and a scroll. Once again curious, Sothe stared at the parchment, examining the markings visible from the outside. He read the words as well as he could and deemed it safe to open, however, the paper remained sealed closed. Curious…I'll just keep it for now.
He glanced down at the stolen clothes, sighed, and stood up - this was all just a safety precaution…Even so, it felt so wrong. Sothe tugged at his shirt, pulling it over his head and dropping it onto the ground, he pulled at his gloves, flexing his hand afterwards. After setting the gauntlets down, he unbuckled his belt, training his ears for any noise outside of the hut. Gently he laid his belt pouch right next to his feet, mindful of any possible delicate items he might have inside.
After undoing the laces of his boots, he pulled them off and let his pants slid off his hips - the fabric making a slight thudding noise. Sothe let the various hidden weapon holsters stay where they were; taking a deep breath, clearing his mind of any negative thoughts on what he was about to do - he reached for the dead assassin's black pants… This is for another chance at seeing Volke…It's worth it. It was a reason. A good enough one for Sothe.
After pulling on the man's clothes, he shivered away any disturbed feelings - now was not the time, and this gave him a better chance of entering the underground. Shifting from foot to foot, he tested how the garments fit - loose, baggy, roomy. He hoped he wouldn't trip over the pant legs…There was also the matter of it being very obvious he was not the same assassin who had originally wore these clothes. Would the tavern keeper actually notice the small details? Did he even need to wear this outfit in the first place?
He was going into the world of assassins, it was highly unlikely that they would just let anyone in…Nor would they not notice the tiny details. Goddess, what have I gotten myself into? Shaking his head at himself, Sothe snapped back into reality to face the situation at hand.
He stared down at his clothes still on the floor, he couldn't leave them, but he didn't have a large bag that he could use. Staring a moment longer at the discarded clothes, an idea popped into his mind. They could fit into the loose folds of his clothes with a little manipulation. It might actually make him look like he was wearing the right sized garments.
He neatly layered the assassin's clothes with his own, tying it tighter together with his belt - it wouldn't do to have a random green shirt slip out of his black one in the middle of trying to find information. After his clothes were tied to his person, the mint-haired man let the black shirt of his victim fall down over the mass of fabric.
Staring down at himself, Sothe nodded at his work - he did indeed look more like his clothes fit…Bulkier, a muscled assassin, not like the lithe rogue he really was. This could work if I play my part right. Sothe rolled his eyes at the fact, Yeah, that'll be easy, if we pretend I actually know the man's mannerisms.
The rogue rolled his eyes before reaching down for his belt pouch and the cowl the dead man had worn earlier. Strapping on the pouch - now slightly heavier with the loot he had taken of the assassin - Sothe pushed away any second thoughts and slowly pulled on the black cover for his face.
Despite outward appearances, it was easy to see through the black material hiding his features from sight - Sothe tested walking in the new clothes… He stumbled, yelping slightly as he almost landed cowl-first onto the ground. Damn pants, he'd have to fix them before he went anywhere, bending down, Sothe rolled them upwards…Hopefully that would do, but it wasn't promised that they would actually stay up for the course of this little adventure.
A quick glance outside told Sothe that he had been taking quite a while, the sun was now starting to set - but, this probably wasn't a problem for where he was going. The rogue moved forward, but a scraping feeling against his skin made him pause - oh, right, the knife wound. I'm wearing a dead man's outfit that still has his blood on it…This is so wrong.
As the rogue continued towards the exit of the hut, it struck him that he had been thinking that a lot lately - the things we do for a person we love… When the cool, evening air brushed across his hand through the fabric of his glove, Sothe let his eyes scan the area for any possible hints that would tell him where to go. Nothing…Except perhaps the area he had first seen the assassin - he might have been heading towards the tavern before Sothe had shown up.
The mint-haired youth walked warily towards that part of the street, keeping his eyes open for any other possible attackers. At the same time he kept his focus up, straining his ears for any possible human sounds that would announce the closeness of his destination.
He only heard a faint noise after darkness had finally fallen across Nevassa, cloaking it in shadows - it almost sounded like laughter…Sothe scurried across the empty, gray streets of the city, golden eyes tracing every building still intact. The sound of a door squeaking made him stop in his tracks, he glanced to his left and saw a small flicker of light. Then it was gone, its departure made with the noise of a door closing - Sothe swallowed his apprehension and crept towards the medium-sized building.
The windows he saw offered no light, but only because they were blocked by heavy, black drapes - aiming for secrecy of the building. This was his destination, and suddenly, Sothe felt a little doubt. There was a chance he could be killed, and that would defeat the purpose of him coming this far. But if he left now just because of his nerves, he'd never get a better chance to find Volke.
This risk…It's worth it.
Sothe swallowed and reached for the surprisingly untarnished door handle, he eased away his nervousness with a breath and pushed the door open. The room was quiet except for a few murmurs from one assassin to another. No one spared him a glance and Sothe breathed a sigh of relief, after a quick glance he spotted the bar-keeper. The man was graying, but had a certain air about him that shouted 'experience' and not to mess with him - he wore plain clothes, but it was obvious that the baggy fabric was hiding his true build. It was a good disguise - it gave him the appearance of a weak old man to the foolish, and that was disarming.
Sothe had good enough sense to see these details however, Volke had been a good teacher - despite the fact that some thought that they had just fooled around during their training sessions. The mint-haired youth approached the deceiving man and was glad to see he had his attention.
"Shadow-Dancer…" wise eyes seemed to read him through his cowl and Sothe immediately knew that the man wasn't fooled. What will he do? "Or the new Shadow-Dancer at any rate." when the rogue blinked in confusion the man smirked, "You know little about the assassins, don't you, boy?"
Cover blown, the rogue nodded, "Yes, indeed I don't."
The man sighed wearily, "The names Revan - that's all you need to know about me. Here's what I mean about you being the new Shadow-Dancer. Whenever a person kills a previous assassin, they immediately receive the rights to come forward to the underground and take the killer's rank. For when you kill an assassin, you prove yourself to be stronger." Revan cleared his throat.
"However, someone coming to receive their new title is uncommon - not many people know about the assassin underground. But it does happen." he glanced at Sothe again, making the rogue suppress the urge to flinch. "Since you're here, there's no backing out now…You'll take Landon's place and become the new Shadow-Dancer."
Sothe couldn't speak, this wasn't part of the plan…Me, an assassin? That's ridiculous! "I'm afraid I can't become an assassin, I'm not on the right path." knowledgeable eyes seemed to see right through him again, this time the rogue stood tall.
"Rogues have the potential to become assassins; the fighting style is close enough, just not as skillful. But - you killed Shadow-Dancer, you obviously have skill enough for an assassin." Revan shot back.
Was Shadow-Dancer a famous killer or something? Sounds like it. "I see." Though I never planned for this to happen, this could help my situation…I could gain some respect and get information on Volke more easily. "I have no choice, I suppose, so I'll accept this …Raise. What do I need to do?"
Revan's lips twitched and slowly he smirked, a gleam in his eye, "You'll need a contract, a scroll that works like a master seal, only it's specifically for Assassins." he sighed, "However, getting one in current times is a bit tricky…"
Sothe blinked, that sounded like… "I think I might have one." the older man stopped and raised a brow, 'hmming' in question. The rogue reached into his belt-pouch and felt around for the rolled up piece of paper that he had gotten off of …Landon, was it? He pulled it out and showed it to the bar-keeper in front of him.
If the man was curious about how he had gotten it, he didn't show it, "Well, that makes things less complicated." he grunted, "Alright, take that into the room across the way…To open it you need a drop of your blood, and then you'll need another to sign it."
Simple enough, "Right, will do." the younger man replied before turning on his heel and walking towards the indicated room. He pulled on the brass knob and stepped through the doorway, shutting the wood behind him - after he determined there was no trap waiting for him, Sothe glanced down at the scroll clutched in his hand.
No turning back now. He took knife out of one of the holsters on his legs and pulled off his finger-less black gloves. He made a small, clean slice on the hand not used dominantly - then he held out the contract, letting a droplet of blood drop onto it. The scroll opened easily, he breathed through his nose before reading the contents of the document. It was definitely what the old man had said it was - a contract that would bind him to the work of an assassin. Sothe hesitated, hand held turned upwards - wound away from the parchment - in a frozen motion. This will get me closer to Volke…It's worth it. Yet he still hesitated, Micaiah…I still want to protect you. Will this contract stop me from doing that? No… I will grow stronger if I do this, and then, I can truly watch out for you.
That was all he needed; he turned his palm downwards and watched as another drop of blood slowly started to tremble from its place on his cut. Finally, it was pulled by gravity and met with the gray paper of the assassin's contract. Without warning, the paper burst into flame and Sothe dropped it with a small yelp - startled. A flash of light blinded him and the rogue vaguely noted that this room was without any windows - as to not draw attention from the outside. Then thought was pushed away and a feeling of strength coursed through his veins - a blinding golden light surrounded him like a cocoon and he let himself get swept away.
The clothes he had felt so dirty in seemed to cease to exist and a new, cooler cloth encased him snugly…The power flowing through his body like a wave slowed to a steady trickle. Sothe finally let himself breath as the light dispersed, golden eyes opened and once again he was in a dark, windowless room.
He blinked when he twitched his mouth - feeling cloth move with it …A mask? Curious about the other changes in his clothing, Sothe picked up his hands so that they were in front of his face. Dark green, almost black, fingerless gloves stretched across his skin. Not much of a change there except for the color change…The black boots on his feet were much the same as well.
Pants were no longer beige, but colors that would blend into the night easier - they were the same fabric type except for the inside, which was smoother and made much less noise when he moved. The holsters on his leg were not brown anymore, but pure black. His belt pouch (still filled with the same items he had started with) was now forest green. His shirt was snugger, black and dark green themed and still cut off to show his stomach - it was held together at the front with dark laces. He was pleased to find that the new sleeves did nothing to impair his movements.
The mask stretched across his face connected to an undershirt and was dark-green like the vest part of his shirt. Despite there being three layers on his chest, it was surprisingly cooler in this outfit than in his normal rogue attire.
Sothe had to admit, this was actually very gratifying - he felt like he could just melt into the shadows with the colors, and move easily with the new fabric. Nodding to himself, after seeing that nothing was missing in his pack except for the contract, Sothe stepped outside again. He noticed eyes on him and this time the quiet chatter did talk.
…What? He walked once again towards Revan, "Er, is something odd about my appearance?" the man was also staring at him though.
"To think…Shadow-Dancer getting killed by …A boy!" the older man seemed to be speaking to himself, but Sothe took in the words. Ah, so he probably was well known…And skilled. …How did I kill him then? Did I get lucky? Did he get careless or overconfident?
When the man failed to say anything more - instead staring at Sothe as if he had grown three heads, the newly-made assassin spoke up, "About the underground…?"
Revan jumped and his eyes snapped out of their faraway look, "Right…I need your mark of identity." at Sothe's puzzled gaze, he added -surprisingly lacking any exasperation, "Shadow-Dancer had a small cat figurine." he paused, "Or the previous Shadow-Dancer did…"
The mint-haired man nodded, reaching once again into his belt pouch, this time searching for the statue of the flame marked feline. He pulled it out and showed it to Revan, the man merely nodded distantly, "In here…" he moved aside the a box on the floor of his bar, Sothe blinked at the tiny space revealed. That was how assassins got into the underground?
An image of Volke getting onto his hands and knees and crawling through a small space like a child flashed through his mind and Sothe stifled a small laugh. Well, if his lover had done it, he could as well. Nodding to Revan, the former rogue approached the entrance and crouched down, crawling through the space… A thud from behind him announced that the box as back in place. He glanced around his surroundings and was surprised to see that the crawl space opened up into a tunnel.
Sothe stood, wiping himself off of dust accumulated from the gray stone walls and floors. The assassin began the trek down the tunnel - judging by the feel of things, the word of assassins was going to be rather deep underground.
There was a waterway underneath the tavern, luckily not connected to the sewers - and Sothe marveled at how it looked like a river in this underground world. There were buildings everywhere, stuck close together, making tiny alleyways in between. Sothe's eyes widened to see laundry hanging from one side of a building to another - where there people actually living here? There were vendors everywhere, making the place look not too much different from Nevassa. It was like another city beneath a city…And there were more around the continent?
Sothe shook his head, only a box is in the way of this place from Nevassa… But, it was protected. Assassins called this place their base, someone would be hard pressed to infiltrate it for negative purposes. I can't believe this has been here all this time…For longer than I've been alive as well, I mean, Volke's been a part of this world for quite a while. Huh - Volke…You never told me about this before. But Sothe understood why, You were waiting until you could take me on as an apprentice. Like we had agreed, before I…Left. I'm sorry, Volke. I hope I get a chance to say that to you personally soon.
Shaking of his thoughts, the mint-haired youth continued his trek down the cool-underground city streets, searching out a vendor to find. There was one, selling what looked like malleable leather, "You there, how about buying something today?" the brown-bearded man called out to him.
Sothe shook his head, "I'm not buying today, I'm afraid, I was wondering if I could ask you about an assassin?" the man blinked and looked slightly crestfallen.
"Er, sorry, young assassin, I don't know much about the assassins that come and go." he shrugged, "I can't help you." Sothe nodded before turning to walk away. Something caught in the corner of his eye, however - he paused and stared at it fully.
There was a white leather pouch, heavy duty - and one of the few leather items already made into something, "Excuse me, how much for that?" the man, who had been scanning the city for any possible customers turned back to him.
"You want to buy something?" he glanced down to what Sothe was pointing at, "Ah, yes - 100 gold for that belt pouch, young assassin."
Golden eyes stared at it, mind focused on Micaiah, he thought to his money - he had enough… From what he had taken from the former Shadow-Dancer, and what he had been received for his services to Daein, more than enough. "I'll buy it."
The man brightened, "Thank you, young sir, come again!" Sothe nodded at him before turning away, "Ah, young sir, if you want information, I'd suggest on that part of the city." he indicated across the canals with his hand.
"Thank you." Sothe headed towards the bridge that would take him towards the other side of the city, as the vendor had suggested. He found another shopkeeper - this time selling blades - he absently felt his current stock.
The big-chested woman smirked at him, "Interested in something, boy?" she seemed to push out her considerable bust towards him. Sothe smoothly avoided it, genuinely uninterested in her advances - he smirked back at her.
"Some weapons would be the idea." she pouted, but pulled back away from him - shifting her shirt so that her breasts were decently covered.
After crossing her arms she spoke in a more businesslike tone than the one she had used earlier (seductive she had been aiming for, probably.) "Alright, what'll it be?" he pointed at three of the finely made steel daggers and two sets of iron knives. "Right then." she bundled them up properly before exchanging his gold with her weapons.
Sothe nodded, "I need the whereabouts of an assassin?"
She shook her head, "Sorry, can't help you there, little assassin - you should go to Jormand Leviens, he usually keeps track of that kind of stuff more than anyone. …For a price." she rolled her eyes, "Good luck, assassin." she pointed towards a building, "He lives in there."
A price…? "Thanks." he passed her a coin which she caught with surprising skill, she winked and smirked her thanks. He walked away, slightly amused by the woman. The building loomed ahead of him, and Sothe picked up his pace, beginning to get eager.
He opened the door only to come face-to-face with a greasy old man, "What do we have here?" the man rasped out, smiling toothily - showing of rotting gums and canines. His breath blew right into Sothe's nose and he fought the urge to gag. Please don't be Jormand…
"Jormand Leviens?" he asked slowly.
The man grinned wider, laughing as if to purposely breath onto Sothe's face, he backed up a step and flourished his hands, "The one and only, young sir." he straightened (as much as possible) and ran a hand through oily gray hair. Thanks, Ashera, Sothe growled internally.
"Good," not, "I heard you keep track of assassins." are you going to do that to me too? Oh goddess, please don't.
Jormand cackled merrily and stepped back into the building, ushering Sothe after him, who reluctantly followed, "Why, that's my hobby, young sire." he replied. Disturbing hobby, but if it helps me find Volke, I'll deal.
Sothe sighed, "Could I ask you the location of," Sothe searched his memory quickly before coming up with what he needed, "…The Fireman?" the man stopped and was silent for a moment before turning around to face the green-haired assassin with a grin.
"For a price."
Of course… "What do you ask of me?" the former rogue's voice was tired, but willing.
Another cackle and… "There is a rare ruby that I want. Bring it to me and I'll tell you about Volke - or the Fireman." he smiled, this time more soberly. "Need more information on this ruby I ask for?" Sothe looked at the man warily. What's the catch, you old lunatic?
"What would that cost?"
A giggle - A wince, "Why, 5,000 gold will do nicely for a clue." Sothe growled almost inaudibly, fortunately enough for the old man to miss it.
The smile faltered but was back up in a few seconds, "If you insist, young sire." he shrugged, "I'll be here waiting for that ruby, young sir." he turned on his heel with a grace that shouldn't have been possible from a man of that caliber.
Sothe watched him go; now he was on his own, trying to look for a ruby. Do the troubles never end… Thoughts trailed off and suddenly it struck Sothe like a sniper's arrow - those two men he had listened in on earlier…
'"A rare, high-priced ruby? Where the hell are you going to get that?"
"It's in a cave…East of here, I believe."
"Well, I'm not going, that's too far!"
"You're so damn lazy…Fine, I'll get it myself. But I'm not sharing the prize with you."
"Waaitt, that's not fair, we're supposed to be friends!"'
A cave east of Nevassa, that was his next destination - and another step closer to Volke… He'd do it for his old lover - it was worth it.
Word Count if you're curious: 8,105.