Dawn came quickly, and Andrei was prepared. Checking and double-checking the cache of weapons hidden on his person was something of an automatic process for him. He had done it enough times.
Everything seemed to be in the proper place, except for a single dagger. A grim souvenir, he twirled the thing in the dawn light. Nothing special, but deadly enough in the right hands. Which it obviously had not been, just last night.
It had a strange weight in his hands; there was a lot of potential in this dagger. Too bad it was wasted.
A strong wind was developing, even this early in the morning. The clouds seemed to be busy, racing across the sky, as if they were trying their hardest to get away. The blot stood, unmoved; it didn't seem to share the same concerns as it's sky-brothers.
"A candlemark after dawn..."; Andrei remembers his promise from last night, as well as the promise of his pay. That was more than enough to start his feet moving.
Leaving his apartment, Andrei spins the dagger around on the palm of his hand, catching it by the hilt every time. His senses constantly aware, Andrei finds the Blot in the sky to be an oppressive thing, a portent of doom. Not a particularly superstitious man, he nonetheless finds its presence disturbing.
Andrei moves through the streets on light feet, causing minimal disturbance at his passing. He thinks back to the attack the night before as he toys with the dagger that could have ended him. Why was she there to kill his employer? He wondered to himself.
Most of the time, when someone hired a guard, they were just being paranoid - but this one was different. Maybe he should ask his employer that question.
Nodding to himself that it was a good thought, Andrei stops in front of the door he had guarded last night, and knocks purposefully twice. Who would want to kill a merchant? Perhaps today, he'd find out.
A small slit opens in the door, and the merchant's gaze meets Andrei's.
"Your back. Come to get your pay? It's here."
A latch is heard unlocking, and the door creaks open a bit.
By the time Andrei can push it open all the way and step inside, Hazrim the merchant is already seated at his desk, sequestered behind a large stack of papers. Hazrim does his best to maintain his aloof quality, despite the presence of a little paranoia.
"Your money's on the table, there.", he says, pointing lazily to a small wooden box on the desk. "You don't look hurt either, so don't be expecting any danger pay. I don't play those games. We agreed on a price. Guards like you are a dime a dozen. You should be lucky I paid you that much."
Hazrim looks up at Andrei impatiently; "Don't look at me like that. I've got no work for you. I'm headed out of town for a little while, starting tonight. I've got business to attend to, and I won't be needing you here. When I get back, we can chat about some more guard work. If you're still alive, that is."
Andrei sighs inwardly at the rudeness of his employer - this was why he didn't take petty contracts, he reminded himself.
"That's fine sir." He replied in response to Hazrim's comment on danger pay. "Keep in mind though, that if I have Gendarmes knocking on my door, I won't be sending them to you - I'll come myself." He said, the neutral tone of his voice seeming cold all of a sudden.
"When you get back, assuming I haven't found a better offer, you know how to get word to me." He told the man, as he collected his pay.
"I'll bid you good day then." And so saying, Andrei left the miserly merchant to his papers.
Wandering aimlessly for a short while, Andrei began to head in the direction of Calistria's temple - his mother should have some answers about why in the hells one of her call girls would be fixing to kill a merchant.
Even one as annoying as Hazrim.
Andrei cruised over to the familiar marble pyramid temple. The House of the Silken Veil's grey, stained, and pitted walls looked even more bleak today, dark clouds coalescing above the town.
Andrei had been here enough times before to be able to traverse quickly and efficiently to his destination without getting distracted by the myriad of people hawking goods and services of every kind.
|Fortunata 'Fortune' Maddela|
As Andrei strides up to the temple portion of the House, a familiar lithe figure begins to make her way down the stairs toward him, her whip coiled around her waist. It wags back and forth with every movement of her hips.
"Come for some fun, Andrei? To pay your respects to Calistria perhaps? Or just to visit your mother. Hmm?"
Her voice is soft and purring.
At Fortune's words, Andrei laughs softly. "Lady, for you, I'd take up all three options. For now, lets stick to the last two, eh? I'll pay my respects first, if you could let my mother know I'm here?" He said, his voice one of careful respect.
"Had any 'interesting' clients lately?" He asked casually, never loosing his slight smile. Interesting clients always meant someone that Andrei needed to go visit. And 'chat' to about manners and the like.
|Fortunata 'Fortune' Maddela|
Andrei nodded his agreement, and went into the chapel to pay his respects. Kneeling before an altar, Andrei spoke quietly. "Lady, I know we don't always see eye-to-eye on stuff, but, uh, thanks for keeping me alive last night - I appreciate that." He said, his head bowed. "I feel bad that it led to me killing one of yours though." He said, almost as an afterthought.
"In payment, I'm giving you the dagger that almost ended me. It's not much, but maybe another one of your servants will find a use for it. Preferably a use that has nothing to do with ending my life." As he spoke, Andrei placed the plain dagger into one of the nearby collection plates, knowing one of the Lady's followers would take the blade eventually.
"Here's hoping you keep bringing me good fortune." He said, ending his 'prayer'. All that was left to do was wait for his mother to arrive. As he waited, he looked around the chapel, examining the other supplicants.
The chapel was dim and comfortable, with red candles producing the only (crimson) light. Strong incense wafts all around the room, filling Andrei's nostrils with their thick smoke.
A few girls kneel in prayer in front of large books. A single Tiefling girl offers the only movement in the room, attending to the candles and the incense. She flicks her tail as she walks, and her short, curly, black hair bobs. Why she's wearing high-heeled shoes, Andrei will never know. She shyly makes eye-contact with him a few times, but eventually leaves the room, as if a little startled.
Out of nowhere, Andrei feels a hand on the back of his neck. It is not menacing in the least, and it's warmth is comforting.
Andrei looks up into the eyes of his mother.
"So good to see you, my boy. I trust that you are keeping well, and are busy paying your respects to Calistria. I did not mean to interrupt you, but Fortunata told me of your coming. What can this old lady do for you?"
Old is hardly accurate. Though most of her face is obscured by an ornate mask, what is visible is firm and supple. The woman looks like she hasn't aged in twenty years.
Andrei flashes a winning grin at the Tiefling girl as she leaves the room, before standing and embracing his mother when she announces her presence.
"You are beautiful as always mother. Calistria hasn't stopped smiling on you, I see." He said, complimenting his mother on her looks as he always did. "But I came here because of that." He said, stressing the word as he gestures to the now-donated dagger.
"It's not one of mine. One of your girls tried to kill my employer last night - and it was a pure waste of potential." He said, locking eyes with his mother, his voice betraying no hint of emotion.
"Now why would one of your girls be fixing to kill one of my clients?" He asked, his gaze steady.
Fierensa closes her eyes, in thought, for just a moment, before whispering "Oh, Carissa. Sweet, sweet, stupid girl."
Fierensa leads Andrei to her chamber, whispering with him on the way.
"Can you tell me more about your employer? A merchant, maybe? I'd rather it not be true, but this complicates everything. Tell me more."
"Carissa?" He asks, as his mother recognizes the name. "I'm sorry I had to kill her, for what it's worth." He says, most likely failing miserably at consoling his mother. "For anyone else, they wouldn't get a name - but he's not employing me right now, so I will. Hazrim is his name - middle aged, paranoid, and tight-fisted. Sound like anyone you know?" He asked, already knowing the answer that was coming.
Andrei hated days like this, when things became complex.
Sometimes it just didn't pay to get out of bed.
Pulling Andrei into her private room, Fierensa shuts the door saying; "That sounds exactly like the man who hired us. To kill you."
She wraps her arms around her son, "But I didn't know it was you! There's no way I could have. The instructions were simply to murder the guard posted outside, and make it look like there was a struggle inside, but not to harm the man."
A single tear rolls down her cheek. "But sweetie, you have to trust me. I had no intention of hurting you. He didn't give any more information. In this line of work, you don't ask, either. I'm sure you understand. He wanted you dead for a reason. Do you have any idea why?"
Andrei sighed inwardly. Of course she'd been hired to kill him! It was the kind of thing Calistria like to throw his way.
"It's alright." He said, placating her. "She didn't kill me, although I wonder why someone wants me dead - I don't remember irritating anyone lately." He continued, as he began to pace the room. "So why would Hazrim want to kill me then?" He mused.
"I guess the fastest way to find out is go and talk to the man." He said, his voice firm with determination. "Would you care to come along and inquire also? I don't want you getting caught in the crossfire though."
"I'd rather not get right into it. I hope you understand. I'll follow you, discreetly, but I won't intervene unless I sense trouble."
Fierensa takes off her mask, and begins to prepare a different outfit; stepping behind a paper screen, she changes from her clergy robes, to something more discrete. Her hair pulled back, and her whip knotted around her waist, she does a lot to change her appearance. But her presence, one of commanding authority and respect, is not subdued in any way.
"However, this changes things. Calling a hit against one of our own is absolute blasphemy. While you are not a true priest, you are my son, and an honourary member of Calistria's clergy. That's more than enough to invoke this clause against him. His life is now forfeit. Not only will you receive the payment given to us for your murder, I should be able to scrounge up some additional coin for it. Consider yourself contracted out, officially, by the Church of Calistria. I am contracting you out to take revenge against Hazrim, on behalf of Calistria and all of her family. Should you want it of course."
Fierensa's eyes flash briefly. "But what is sweeter than revenge?"
At his mother's words, Andrei inclined his head at her offer. "Hells, knowing what I know now, I'd do him in for free - but if you'll pay me to do it, so much the better." He said, habitually making sure his rapier was free in it's sheath.
A course of action decided, Andrei begins to move purposefully towards the exit, knowing his mother will follow. "Oh yes, he is going to taste my displeasure very keenly." He said, as he began to walk back to the place where it had begun last night...
Assuming nothing goes wrong on the way...
Arriving at the door of his newest target, Andrei pounded on the door a few times, and drew his rapier, preparing himself to strike his would-be murderer down hard.
"Stay clear, mother." He said, as he waited for a response, making sure she wasn't in danger.
Andrei can join into the games at the Gold Goblin at any point. Your merchant employer has obviously left in a hurry. Make your way over there, if you intend to, when you can.