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2/03 "Fist for Hire"

JWaldman Feb 15th, 2020 86 Never
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  1. Dun would finally awaken from his fireside nap in the coziest chair in all of Theria, blinking lightly behind the mask before placing his trusty corncob pipe into his mouth. The clown was nothing without a good smoke most days, after all. He would take a long, thoughtful drag as he glanced across the crowd to gauge the new faces, humming to himself lightly in contemplations before blowing a cloud of smoke up towards the distant, wintry horizon.
  2.  
  3. Crossing his right, serpentine scarred arm over his left, the jester would fold the pair over the crimson, bell adorned cloth of his cloak and the black, scratched plate of his cuirass with a glance over to Attar, sizing the man up for a time before nodding conclusively.
  4.  
  5. "New face, must be a visitor. Welcome to Theria, the freest place in the land. I am Dun the Tower, of the Ardent Shields, professional clown and mercenary at your service. What's your story then stranger?"
  6. (Dun)
  7.  
  8.  
  9.  
  10. "Visitor? Not quite. Here as part of a diplomatic function."
  11.  
  12. His right hand lofts up and lazily indicates Cameo and El.
  13.  
  14. Attar, as an individual, seemed well-groomed and of affluent origins. His cheekbones are high-set and delicate, immaculately dressed from head to toes in alabaster silks that hug his skin tight, excepting the draping overcoat round his shoulders. A light smile occupies his face.
  15.  
  16. "I am Attar von Canaan, emissary of His Excellence - the Spider-King, hand to the Wolf-Prince, and Consular of the Atrellyan Expeditionary Forces." The statement is well trained, with a polish that could only be born from rehearsal a thousand times over. Both his hands settle on the clutches of his man-leather belt.
  17.  
  18. "Afraid I haven't much time for leisure. Such a busy few days, but at least it's all panned out." That smile seems intense and bright, face twisted with joy. Attar couldn't stop winning today- beit at politik or deft displays of swordsmanship.
  19.  
  20. "Ardent Shields, you said? A sword for hire?"
  21.  
  22. (Attar)
  23.  
  24.  
  25. "Oh? Would explain why I don't recognize you then. Diplomacy, while a talent, is not my specialty. I far prefer the other end of the spectrum, truth be told."
  26.  
  27. Dun would nod firmly as he glanced over the emissary with renewed thoughtfulness, no longer discounting their appearance as sheer chance. Whether the clown knew anything of the recent immigration was up to debate, though he at least appeared unphased in his appraisal of Attar.
  28.  
  29. "Now that is long name, and it doesn't even have that many titles. I fear to imagine your people's history books, they must weigh as much as boulders..."
  30.  
  31. The clown would rise from his seat, dusting himself off with an idle clank of his calloused knuckles against his black plate with a light nod to Attar, knowing the feeling of little leisure.
  32.  
  33. "Know the feeling of being busy in perpetuity, though I can't say I regretted such time consumers. A good ambition can entertain for a lifetime."
  34.  
  35. Dun would at last raise his fists to Attar, taking a deep breathe as they were enshrouded with ethereal, blue mana before beginning to blacken and harden, the raw emanation condensed to increase the sheer force of his blows far beyond common knuckles.
  36.  
  37. "Fist for hire, rather. I am a pugilist and energy magi by forte, interweaved as they are. It has served me well for a lifetime, and I find there's a sense of amusement in using nothing but your own hands to clown someone to bring a smile to my face."
  38. (Dun)
  39.  
  40.  
  41.  
  42.  
  43. Attar, in contrast, has only a plain spear with a jagged edge. It was hooked at the end, built to snare flesh and inhibit movement. He enjoyed such things, and more often than not found his hands turned to bloody deeds; of which he was currently clean, excepting a few dried splotches on his weapon.
  44.  
  45. "Attar for short is fine enough in informal circumstances. Consular for the adverse. So long as you can pronounce it correctly, we will have no issues getting along. For now."
  46.  
  47. His eyes turn towards El and company. The progress of the conversation was not of particular interest; he anticipated the result, though it was fairly apparent in the course of things. His teeth drag over his bottom lip, tempted for a moment to follow and watch their battle.
  48.  
  49. But he was in the middle of a conversation, and it seemed self-apparent that El would best the suited to display the physical capacity of demons. Now he looks back; the others are all gone. "A clown who does battle with his fists?"
  50.  
  51. "That sounds like quote the comedy routine. Tell me, Human; do you have some witty catchphrase about punchlines? I read of such things in the local libraries; and I've been considering some options, personally. So much good material to work with."
  52.  
  53. "But what's it like? Fighting, when your body is so small and feeble?"
  54.  
  55. Ironic, considering the Demon's Human form is a petite young adult who looks like he's practically made of porcelain.
  56.  
  57. (Attar)
  58.  
  59.  
  60. Despite his hodunk origins as a child of poverty in the city, had a decade and change of civic service under his belt that had forced correct pronunciations of various titles. The clown was a careful orator if anything, each word precisely chosen.
  61.  
  62. "Mister Attar it is. And yes, I have delivered literal and metaphorical punchlines on the regular, as comes importantly with the mantle of the clown. Many magi use a staff or weapon as a catalyst for sorcerous intent, but a pugilist turns their whole body into an instrument of physicality and magic."
  63.  
  64. The clown would nod thoughtfully as he recalled his younger days, an eager and two eyed fool that had tried to throw his fists at all sorts of opponents. But now his style of combat had been far more refined, he'd perfected his defense to a level few on the continent could equal.
  65.  
  66. "Size can at times be quite deceiving, small men often swathe great shadows upon the world. Yet, I would not know of being feeble. I'd be a terrible mercenary if I didn't have my tricks, but I can tell you know that I'm one of the sturdiest clowns and magi out there. Using each muscle as a conduit for magic....it can allow one to use their own physicality offensively and defensively. The latter is my forte."
  67. (Dun)
  68.  
  69.  
  70.  
  71.  
  72.  
  73.  
  74. "Excellent."
  75.  
  76. He was content with that. It sounded incredibly amusing.
  77.  
  78. Attar shifted to his right, taking a glance at the snowbacks leading up to the gates of Theria. He almost anticipated a sudden arrival of Knights, or some other danger. The evening had been relatively peaceful, near-murder of Reed put aside. It invokes a vague paranoia in the back of his mind.
  79.  
  80. "Perhaps. I have encountered relatively small spiders who have been able to topple giants with their poison. But as far as I can see, you have no fangs of your own. Only fists. Perhaps they serve you just as well."
  81.  
  82. "I, personally, prefer my arms and the tip of my spear. There is nothing more gratuitously enchanting than to run a mans belly through and wrap his innards around the point of my weapon like a shiskebab. Makes for a wonderful campfire treat."
  83.  
  84. Depictions of not-quite-cannibalism aside, he seems to find the topic perfectly normal. Small feet shift inthe snow, producing a number of soft crunches from powder being pounded beneath the heel of fancy shoes.
  85.  
  86. "I'd offer to show you what it's like - being a born warrior. I've came to the realization your poor kith might have something valuable to learn from me."
  87.  
  88. (Attar)
  89.  
  90.  
  91. "I can see the appeal in a weapon, thought of being a swordsman myself once upon a time. But then, there is a novelty in blowing a man's brains out with a finger gun. Also like to harden my finger, poke holes in people just like a little dagger. My kicks are what make me trouble though, I'd reckon. Put all my weight into them, harden my sabatons with mana and use my natural stature to help in the matter."
  92.  
  93. The clown would nod to Attar as he hummed to himself for a time, shrugging lightly at the offer without much in ways of complaint. There was only one way, after all, to seal what he was truly dealing with. A show of power from a born warrior sounded quite entertaining to him.
  94.  
  95. "By all means, I look forward to being humbled by a warrior of renown. Perks of being a clown, no one is surprised when you lose. Adds to the show."
  96. (Dun)
  97.  
  98.  
  99.  
  100. "If you so please. I've nothing better to do besides setting sail for Red Mountain; and otherwise working my claws into this beautiful city of yours."
  101.  
  102. His coat's straightened. There's a faint jingle of mithril chainmail beneath, like wind-chimes in the breeze. He awaits Dun's answer, but is fully prepared to move about and otherwise do as pleased.
  103.  
  104. (Attar)
  105.  
  106.  
  107. Dun says, "With certainty. There is a fine place for such things right down by the cliffside. I shall show you."
  108.  Rumble, rumble...
  109.  
  110. Something was approaching, too confident for its own good. Something that clearly cared little for the population, and didn't seem to care about hiding its horns.
  111.  
  112. But upon her appearance, it's nothing too special. Tall, with four wood arms that act as her limbs. Two wooden hands rising up to cover up her maw, while the other two rest just above her waist.
  113.  
  114. "What a comfortable little city, nice and cold..." She hums, rubies taking a moment to glance around at each person present in the area. "With so much more to offer than Moonfall, I am sure I could find some interesting things here~."
  115. (Ame'Vel)
  116.  
  117.  
  118.  
  119. Attar's spear clashes against flesh like steel.
  120.  
  121. Due to technical difficulties, his strikes are marginally slower: his strikes glide against the skin, deflected by an iron body and tough muscle. It dulls the edge of his weapon. But Attar is not particularly disheartened, continuing more than once: occasionally pushed to the edge, or otherwise winded.
  122.  
  123. But he gets right back up.
  124.  
  125. Dark mana tries to manifest around his weapon. It doesn't work, for some reason. He assumes it has to do with the connection to Helheim in this area, but frankly... Attar isn't sure just why he can no longer access the Dark Lord's art.
  126.  
  127. Oh well. He's strong enough on his own.
  128.  
  129. "Better than anticipated. You remind me of Sicks: not in spells, but of being next-to-impossible to beat down with any swiftness. Can't outrace you, because you barely feel pain."
  130.  
  131. "Need to whittle, like a carver. Or a whetting stone."
  132.  
  133. (Attar)
  134.  
  135.  
  136. Dun would test the might of a demon's swordsmanship the only way he knows how, through taking it upon his flesh as a pugilist is like to do. This was his way, after all, to make his very muscles the perfect offense and defense. He'd only mastered the latter so far, but the clown mercenary was clearly going places.
  137.  
  138. He'd only become more proficient given time, truly a dangerous trickster.
  139.  
  140.  
  141. The first few bouts, his shroud was concentrated with foremost resolve and determination, the steady fluctuation of ethereal mana manifested in concentrated pockets within his muscle fibers bringing him to the peak level of physicality his body could tolerate. The closer he got to succumbing to wounds, the more determined and vengefully the clown would pursue Attar across the cliffside to deliver him ruthless blows. As blood dripped idly down his frame, he seemed only more invigored in the spirit of brutal, close quarter combat to proceed forth with the full extent of his willpower’s manifestation. Three fights, he defeated the demon back to back with practiced pugilism and willful determination.
  142.  
  143. At last defeated with a hard, shadowy right from Attar, the clown would tumble back to the ground with a steady chuckle, shaking his head in amusement as he rose to dust himself off as if he hadn't been shrugging blows off his bare skin just moments prior.
  144.  
  145. "The reason is twofold. One, I'm a pugilist, so I need to hone my body to its absolute peak to use my abilities to the best of their potential. If a bone breaks or muscle tears during a particularly nasty kick, I lose half my arsenal after all. Gotta have strong legs and arms for my kind of fighting."
  146.  
  147. The clown would offer a decorous bow, his right, serpentine scarred arm still blackened from hardening at the late defense from the claw. This was the way of things after all, the closer defense came to instinct, the better it was.
  148.  
  149. "Secondly, I've learned as an energy magi to enhance my musculature further with condensed mana, forcing each of my fibers beyond their limit and hardening even my skin to the point of steel through focus and will. Together, they make my style of fighting, though I throw in a few tricks here and there from experimentation. If you felt any of your own blows nick you, that was my doing."
  150.  
  151. Dun would smile at last, clearly amused by the bout.
  152.  
  153. "Is that a good enough interview as a mercenary? Or must I do a song and dance routine as well?"
  154. (Dun)
  155.  
  156.  
  157.  
  158. "It's like a dance. Each partner has their own pacing: the ideal methods of approach are as varied as they are fascinating. Against you, it's a slow waltz. Against El, it's a feverish flurry; a cha-cha, perhaps, or some form of magitech slide."
  159.  
  160. "The rest are not so interesting. Except for Ice Mages, with whom I must play a very particular game I have dubbed 'Mine Sweeper'. Perhaps more opportunities to experiment will present themselves."
  161.  
  162. The butt of his spear rests against the ground. In as much as it was a dangerous weapon, so too were the shadow-mage's ethereal claws. There is no blood when it strikes: but a dull, throbbing pain that stiffens up muscles and renders a mild paralytic effect with it's excess force. Attar was still recovering from his bruises when it all ended.
  163.  
  164. And now he had to shake off the dust.
  165.  
  166. Despite the fact the fight was over, his mind stillprocessed it's details in the ever-consumptive quest to invent new strategies against similar targets. Owing to that, the Demon's thoughts are drawn out and delayed. He doesn't speak; nor does he seem to breathe, with his chest still and his bright red eyes focused.
  167.  
  168. "If you're looking for a job, I might have something for you."
  169.  
  170. "My Demons are useful. Very. But they are obvious and lack the faintest degree of subtlety or wit in most circumstances."
  171.  
  172. (Attar)
  173.  
  174.  
  175.  "Indeed, I've always in truth preferred close quarters combat, it's a far more lively way of dealing damage to your enemies. When I feel my foot connect with someone's jaw, when my knuckle digs into the back of their head with the force of a falling tower, it feels like a true performance.
  176.  
  177. Needless to say, my style of fighting evolved much the same as how you describe. Different ways to fight different people as it were. My perfect defense is most useful against those with great ability to exchange mighty blows with me, it's not so convenient against cowardly healers. But, there are tricks for everything, a long career of scuffles has given me a wide arsenal of experience."
  178.  
  179. The clown mercenary would offer a bow, puffing away steadily at his corncob pipe before blowing a cloud of minty smoke up towards the distant horizon with a nod. He was always ready to engage in some good fun if there was the promise of coin.
  180.  
  181. "If you're looking for subtlety and wit, you need look no farther. Once, I was commander of the constabulary in the largest city on the continent, and yet I was able to deceive many as a clown here in Theria, out in Moonfall, at the same time. Of course, I've retired from that work, I prefer the mercenary life."
  182.  
  183. The clown would nod firmly. Being a constable with an order of knights superceding everything he did made him one to use his own finger pistol.
  184.  
  185. "As it happens, I'm also well informed on the local politics of the cities, perks of old connections and ears where necessary. Assets I can offer to an employer, naturally."
  186. (Dun)
  187.  
  188.  
  189.  
  190. "I think I'd like to paint this city red,"
  191.  
  192. Attar's remark is cheerful and warm, to sharp juxtaposition with it's contents. Both his hands settle behind his back, dainty fingers strung through one another. "It's such a beautiful place. I enjoy the fine details of it's construction and it's vantage over the heavens and earth below."
  193.  
  194. "And we're getting close, now. It's leaders have bent the knee, excepting the one soon to die. Tick-tock," his fingers trace over the little pocket-watch, lifting it's gold-banded from a pocket. Instead of any functional method to tell time, it appeared to be no more than a black sun with four wickedly long arms.
  195.  
  196. Time flows different in Helheim, perhaps.
  197.  
  198. "And I have money. But who wants that? It's tacky. Temporary. The greatest currency has forever been power," he muses, turning away from Dun to look over the sights from the city's cliff face. "I could give you so much more than that, if you prove yourself to be useful enough."
  199.  
  200. "Eyes to pierce the veil; spells to break men into a thousand-and-one pieces. Perhaps even sharing in my immortality, come the day we collect the last of the shards required to exact our miracles."
  201.  
  202. He walks forward, coming to stand just at the cusp of the edge. Sheer wind blows strong here, free of the rock cover that shielded them in the back-crooks behind the great old towers. It runs through his hair, billowing it back.
  203.  
  204. For a moment, he understands why they came to this world.
  205.  
  206. "But one thing at a time. I need information. Allies, here and now."
  207.  
  208. (Attar)
  209.  
  210.  
  211. "Sanguine red is a jolly thing, bloody and joyful in equal turns. I've always considered it a clown's calling card, the two sided coin of the menace I laden forth. "
  212.  
  213. The clown would approach the edge of the cliff to look down towards Osrona in the distance, his remaining eye staring with the greatest depths of hatred at the city that had made a fool of him. That had taken his earnest desire for justice and made it a mockery for the amusement of the knights.
  214.  
  215. They thought him a clown, then. He would show them a clown.
  216.  
  217. "As for the matter of leaders, I quite agree. Tanya is my superior in the shields, but I'm stronger than her, and possess influence over her decisions. I can further my machinations from the shadows before having to be in charge of a paramilitary organization again, I quite like the vacation."
  218.  
  219. Dun would nod, taking a long, thoughtful drag from his pipe as his eye glanced towards the heavens. The mercenary had been hardened by over a decade and a half of civl service, and though his ideals had long been tarnished by reality, the skills and resolve he'd manifested did not.
  220.  
  221. He could still do work.
  222.  
  223. "Coin never hurts, but I see your meaning. You offer power beyond my greatest imaginations to aid you in your rise. I couldn't complain about growing more powerful, more wealthy, or both really. I have long since accepted the monster I will need to become to achieve my aims, I have no more second thoughts."
  224.  
  225. The clown would blow a cloud of smoke into the distant horizon, gritting his teeth as he chose his next words with care.
  226.  
  227. "But in exchange, I ask only one promise. If I serve you, aid in your machinations, I request one favor. That your aims include bringing the Order of the First Light, the knights of the city of Osrona, to ruin."
  228. (Dun)
  229.  
  230.  
  231.  
  232. Attar chuckles.
  233.  
  234. "Their annihilation is an inevitability."
  235.  
  236. His eyes wander the vast horizons of Esshar. To him, the landscape was alien and beautiful; Attar had been born in the bellies of Helheim, a once-permanent resident of the underworld. Born, raised, and once slated to die without having seen the gem of creation: with all it's verdant greens, great oaks, and sweeping valleys.
  237.  
  238. It would have been unfortunate to die having never know it.
  239.  
  240. "Atrellya's armies already march. There are dozens of us, and each is more powerful than the last. Many rival me, if not supercede me; even when I'm at full parity, with the Dark Lord's Blessing upon my blade like a second edge."
  241.  
  242. There were a handful that had bested him, but results were positive enough. Sicks, El... He knew he could learn enough to pose a legitimate threat to them; but for the time being, they were his allies. El doubly so, with how the last few days had proceeded. He leans down, pressing a knee to craggy stone and the precipice overhanging the water.
  243.  
  244. "As far as coin, you'll have more than enough to fulfill all your earthly desires; regardless of if my people win or lose. Consider what we're doing here to be primarily unrelated to the eastern front and the war against Esshar."
  245.  
  246. "And as for your connections: make use of them. If I wish to secure my power in this city, there will have to be others like you. Those vulnerable and willing to indulge themselves in the power I could offer the, should they suit my interests."
  247.  
  248. (Attar)
  249.  
  250.  
  251. Dun would remain silent for a time, before slowly, steadily he'd begin to applaud at a growing pace with his calloused palms. The clown was outright applauding at this point, as if the determined vote of confidence and action was the first he'd received from a threat to the order in a long time.
  252.  
  253. This would be an interesting time.
  254.  
  255. "I can detail the abilities and specialties of the greatest knights in the order from personal experience and observation. I was once their friend, known them for decades. But now, I will ensure their demise. All the information I possess from fifteen years in the city watch will be offered."
  256.  
  257. The clown's fist would rise, hardening black with burning resolve as his body continued to flow with a shroud of mana.
  258.  
  259. "My connections are also yours. I know of another pugilist who is a master of the shadows like yourself, also an aspiring occultist. One of the last bearers of the kageken, the murderous fist.She'd certainly find interest in your machinations if they serve to bring doom to the order. Beyond that, my organization in Theria...the one that isn't the Ardent Shields, are also at hand. Mister Water and Mister Glass in particular are my top operators."
  260.  
  261. The mercenary would nod firmly, crossing his right, serpentine scarred arm over his left, folding the pair tightly over the black plate of his cuirass.
  262.  
  263. "In return, power to achieve my vengeance. The finest armor and trinkets that the continent can offer, I will see the heights of what a people like yours can truly offer. And of course, when Theria at last achieves its new order, a crumb of political power as well. Constable work and the like."
  264. (Dun)
  265.  
  266.  
  267. "My coven will be able to produce you something most special, I'm sure. Perhaps we shall use the corpse of the dissident Felbloods to make a potion that will give you some of our more potent properties," he muses, fingers running under his jawline. It was worth some investigation.
  268.  
  269. "I believe I've met Mister Glass already. Quite the fierce man."
  270.  
  271. Otherwise, things seemed to have wrapped themselves up quite nicely.
  272.  
  273. "Shall I escort you to Red Mountain? You may have an opportunity to walk amongst our kind freely. Rare, altogether; not even the Witches may move freely amongst the Demons." And he checks his pocket watch. Two of the four arms now matched up in the eleven-o'-clock position.
  274.  
  275. "I have some business to handle there. Some rebels to deal with before they get too strong, should everything go well."
  276.  
  277. And he turns towards the road.
  278.  
  279. "You'll introduce me to the others before long. It will be of interest to see what Humans had the mental capacity to learn shadow manipulation on their own."
  280.  
  281. (Attar)
  282.  
  283.  
  284. Dun says, "I have some business to attend to in Theria first, but I will not keep you. I accept that invitation at a later time, you will have to show me about naturally."
  285. Attar says, "Very well. Try to survive until my next visit."
  286. Dun says, "I am quite difficult to kill, if you've noticed."
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