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Trigger Happy Jack

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21 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:53 pm

"You best not go forcing any of that crap down my throat!" I scold as I keep a suspicious eye on her. "I'm very allergic to some of the stuff in that crap."

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22 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:55 pm

"Are you really?" I frown, tensing as I uncross my legs and glance back at my bag. "What in it? I use the ingredients in other teas and salves, sometimes even the smokies - Which part?"

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23 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:03 pm

"I, uhm-," I cough lightly, trying to buy myself some time as I try to remember the names of some of the crap she puts in her stuff. Jean is looking at me now, and it's obvious he knows I'm full of shit. "I don't know what exactly... maybe that green stuff?"

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24 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:05 pm

"Green stuff..." I frown at the remark, my eyebrows pinching as I try to think of what it could be. "Uhm... The kava kava?"

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25 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:13 pm

"Yeah, that," I nod, no idea what it is, but it doesn't sound like something that would go in everything.

"That's the base of one of the teas you've been drinking," Jean comments dryly, shaking his head at me in amusement. "He's pulling your leg, Teag. He's not allergic to shit."

"Am so!" I argue, half pouting, half scowling as I glare at Jean. "That cologne, for instance... good god, no wonder Marn told me to toss it out first chance I got."

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26 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:28 pm

My brow furrows as I glare at Cael, crossing my arms like a scorned child. 

"You're a heathen. I'm glad I brought the sedative, I'll clearly need it since you're so keen on being a butthole." I say with as much annoyance as I can muster.

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27 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:37 pm

I can't help but laugh at that, my eyebrows pinching together in befuddlement.

"A butthole?" I laugh. "Gods, that's cute. I mean, it's not cute that you brought the Echo date-rape-slash-murder-slash-experiment drug with you, but butthole. That's cute."

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28 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:43 pm

"You're an echo!" I pout, "I'm just a little person with nothing but a few vials of stuff, I need ways to look out for myself.

"At least I didn't lie about it."

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29 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:46 pm

"I was kidding," I sigh. "Mostly, anyway. I knew it wouldn't stand up to scrutiny - I have no idea what's in that stuff. I just know I've had it and I don't like it."

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30 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:51 pm

"That's why it's not something I intend to use unless I need to." I say, shifting more comfortably between them as my demeanor softens. "I sort of wish I'd have had something more mild for Ljuba, but I didn't exactly have the time to make anything..."

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31 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:56 pm

"She'll need it," I sigh, glancing back at the woman sadly. "I know if it were me, I'd be freaking out, too. As it is, I've got the shakes just knowing that bastard probably has my friend. I can't imagine what he used to motivate Marn into leaving without saying anything."

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32 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:01 pm

"Who is he?" I frown, content that I can finally ask without the threat of Ljuba dissolving behind me. "Is he any relation to the Braddock's out east? He must be, right? You said he was in Orlais?"

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33 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:06 pm

"They are the Braddocks out east," I frown. "Marn and Richard both. Used to be their sister, too, though most people have forgotten they're siblings - or they wisely hold their tongues on the matter. Milly is dead now, though. That's what drove the wedge between Marn and Richard - as if Richard being Richard wasn't enough."

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34 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:16 pm

I stiffen with a tight frown, glancing at Jean uneasily. 

"I don't want to go there..." I say quietly, "He's a monster, my father warned me about traveling too near to Orlais because of the mad Braddock that ran the place."

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35 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:32 pm

"It's a shame, too," I sigh as I settle more comfortably in my seat, my hand resting on the steering wheel. "It's a beautiful country. Some of the estates there even rival the Capitols."

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36 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:44 pm

I frown a bit at that, sinking to lean against Jean's side as I stare out the front window. 

"Marnin seems too nice to be mixed up in all that," I say quietly, "Doesn't fit what I'd imagined the Braddock name to be at all."

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37 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:54 pm

"Yeah, what's that about anyway?" Jean asks as he shifts a bit so he can put an arm over Teagan's shoulders. "If he's a Braddock, what the hell is he doing all the way out here? I mean, I love Ljuba dearly, but - she's nobody. What's he doing hiding away with her?"

"That's not really for me to say," I frown a bit. "Suffice it to say, Marnin isn't a willing member of the family."

"What, so he's like... a slave?" Jean presses, the question forcing me to shake my head as I keep my mouth shut. "Hang on... isn't Richard Braddock's husband-" I only glance at him as he inhales sharply and shakes his head. "Fuck me. I knew his name sounded familiar."

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38 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:57 pm

"Wha-" I frown, picking my head up a bit to look at Jean before turning towards Cael. "You just said they were brothers?"

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39 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:36 pm

"I said most people have forgotten they're siblings or have wisely not mentioned it," I correct with a frown. "Now you know why."

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40 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:37 pm

*********

It's an uneventful drive to the Capitol after Ljuba has been sedated. Even after the sedation wears off, the woman seems to revert to the way Marnin had described her to me when he'd first met her. Quiet. Closed off. Depressed... Jean and I try everything to comfort her and talk to her, but she remains stubbornly silent in the back of the van, Marnin's belongings clutched protectively to her chest. She only seems to move when it's time to plug his phone into the charger he had left behind. Otherwise it, too, remains clutched in her hand as she stubbornly refuses to look through the phone despite insistence from me that he might have left some kind of message for us on it.

The lack of calls to the phone confirms our theory that Richard is responsible for Marnin's disappearance, however. The man has never gone a day without checking on Marnin. Maybe that's the only message he needed to leave - a silent phone. Still, we all hold out hope that he left it with the intent to call as soon as he was able. A fact which leaves me a tiny bit peeved at Ljuba's refusal to let anyone but her touch the phone. I don't say anything, of course. He's my friend and I love him dearly, but I can only begin to imagine the anguish this is causing Ljuba.

Still... I feel like I could do something if I could just see the phone. But in reality, I know I couldn't. Not really. So I fall back on one of the many plans Marnin had constructed for just such an eventuality as this. And I'll admit that despite all this unpleasantness, I'm a little excited to finally be able to use one of his plans. Like so many others, I had underestimated Marnin when I first met him. So when he escaped Orlais and then sat me down a year later to tell me that he'd fallen in love - a fact that seemed more a terror to him than a delight - I was more than a little bit intrigued by the precise and greatly varied plans he had constructed to keep his new love safe above all else.

And she would be safe... because the alternatives are just too gruesome to imagine.

Following Marnin's instruction, we ditch the van outside the Capitol - a city which was at the very bottom of Marnin's list of safe havens, given its proximity to Orlais. In the current circumstances, though, it's the only viable option that won't send Ljuba into a fit of rage. She wasn't supposed to know about Richard in these scenarios. So I make do.

The van is cloaked in a complicated spell before we leave it, the magic required for it leaving me sapped. Teagan is quick to respond to the obvious drain with a cold brew tea that helps keep me going as we head into the Capitol via a route that doesn't technically exist. I can tell the others are beginning to question what's going on when we use more of my magic to slip through the thickly fortified wall of the great city rather than taking the main gate that is quite open to the public. Except for Teagan. Teagan is more fascinated by the mechanics of the dense, blackish mist that we have to walk through to get to the other side.

And that's how it goes. Jean suspiciously questioning every step in the arduous task of getting us - unseen - to the safehouse nestled in the very depths of the bustling city, and Teagan interrupting my processes to try to ascertain how it all works and what it takes for me to muster up the strength to pull off the magic. I admit, by the time the wards were up on the sparsely furnished house - many of the items obviously Marnin's, including a forgotten cane that sits on the kitchen table where he had last left it - I'm exhausted and more than a little snippy with my companions.

Companions... another anomaly in the well-laid out plans. It was only ever meant to be me and Ljuba. Though, I'll be honest, I'm grateful that it's played out this way. I've often laid awake at night wondering how I would get Ljuba to come with me - a stranger at the time - if Marnin ever disappeared before she knew me or Richard or any of this. And after a few days cooped up in the house, I'm even more grateful for the company of the other two.

Ljuba still won't speak - not even to Jean. And without Teagan, I think the magic required to pull all of this off would have very well killed me. At one time, I had had a stash of echostones to help me get through this eventuality. But Becca had stolen them and sold them when I was short on cash one trip. I'd never been able to keep any others after that - not with her around. She'd made a fortune on the stones I'd saved for Marnin's contingency plans. But now I have Teagan. Teagan who has me back on my feet and healthy again within a day and a half of using all of my magic. If it were Becca, I'd have languished for weeks, if not more.

And I'm maybe even a little grateful for Teagan's company, too...

That's all we do trapped inside these walls for the next few days - talk. And it feels good. There is no venom or malice in our conversations, just curiosity and getting to know one another. My respect for her continues to grow the more I learn of how she deals with people like me, and her innocent naivete never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I think she starts to realize what I'm up to after a while - teasing her just to experience that naivete so I can smile and marvel at the strange attraction I'm starting to feel for her. She starts to blush when it happens, her gaze avoiding mine after she's expressed how much of a heathen or a butthole I am. Maybe it's the way I stare at her... I don't know, but it's becoming obvious that I like her - even to her naive understanding of the world.

Ljuba, meanwhile, grows increasingly agitated those first few days - a sentiment shared by everyone - until eventually, she cracks and gives into looking through Marnin's phone. I admit a bit of anxiety at that. Despite the general hatred Marnin feels for Richard, I know that's not all there is to it. And I know Ljuba will find those troublingly tender moments on that phone - might even find their more passionate ones, too. And it's obvious when she comes across something troubling. Her brow pinches a certain way, and sometimes she'll cry. But for the most part, it seems to become a soothing experience for her. She'll curl up on the end of the couch, one of Marnin's old blankets pulled over her lap, as she rests against the arm of the couch where the phone can continue to charge while she reads through old texts and looks at pictures - many of which I know are ones Marnin has stolen of her, though I'm not sure why other than to show them to me. He's always had an odd fascination with photos, given his disability...

With the phone in her hand at all times, I'm not really sure how she manages not to wet herself when it finally does ring...

*****

*Richard*

There are white lights blinding me when I wake up. It takes a moment to recognize the austere room I've found myself in - the white and blue tiles and the curtain drawn around my bed only confusing me further as vague memories of visiting Marnin here bubbles to the surface.

The hospital wing... So where is Marnin then?

I lift my head to look for him, and the room very nearly blacks out around me, the pain that shoots through my skull is so intense. I must have made some kind of noise when I dropped my head back to the pillow because suddenly I'm surrounded by concerned nurses and frantic bodyguards. Confusion still clouds everything, muffling out their voices as I take stock of everything that hurts. And it all fucking hurts.

The nurses are quick to push something into my IV, the pain slowly blurring into a pleasant high. The high does nothing for my memory, though.

"What happened?" I groan, trying again to lift my head.

"We were hoping you could shed some light on that, sir," one of the guards responds. I look at him witheringly, my hand coming to my head to touch the bandages there. "You met with the Lady Gatz and her brother, Master Marnin at your side... and when we found you, they were gone, and you were... well..."

Marnin. Fury swells in my broken chest, any pain that I was suffering vanishing as I sit up, much to everyone's alarm. I'm quick to lash out as they try to force me back into the bed, their fearful responses only igniting the lustful monster in me as I feel myself becoming giddy with the thought of what I'll do to him once I've found him.

"My phone," I snap the order, my words laced with the potent but infrequently used magic I possess to make them scramble to fulfill my wishes. The moment it's in my hand, the back of my hand whips out to slap the one who had given it to me for taking so long to find it. "Not get out, all of you!"

I can't even take satisfaction in the way they scramble to leave me, my attention turning to the phone immediately. There's nothing from Marnin. Anger burns through my veins at that, a tiny touch of fear as I wonder what's happened to him tainting that anger. The unwanted - and indeed, unfamiliar - emotion only angers me further as I hit the call button next to his name.

No answer.

I call again. I've slipped out of the bed at this point, a dangerous decision given the dizziness and instability of my footing, but I'm too focused on the ringing of the phone to care. Again, no answer. My IV line tugs at my hand as I pace further away from the bed, the minor inconvenience enraging me further as I rip it from my hand violently. I don't care about the blood the spills forth from the torn vein, my focus remaining on reaching Marnin as I pull up his text window.

Why aren't you answering? I demand, waiting a fraction of a second before I send another. Answer the phone. I call again, the phone coming to my ear again as I wait. Pick up the phone! I send once more before calling again.

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41 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:52 pm

The rush of vibrations and buzzes and sounds coming from the phone have left me in a stunned shock, staring at the device with wide eyes. Richard plasters across the screen before the pictures change, small bars coming up across the top with a flurry of words before the phone reads them off in a mechanical voice.

The others in the room are staring at me in shocked silence, offering me nothing more than their own confused faces when I look to them for guidance. I nearly drop it when it starts ringing again, looking it over at a loss as I try to figure out how to answer it.

And answer it, I do. The ringing stops as I lift it to my ear, listening intently for any sign of who's on the other end before I swallow past my unused tongue, licking my lips to ease the strain of speaking. 

"M-" I start, my voice catching before I push on, "Mar- Marnin?"

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42 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:56 pm

I still at the female voice on the other end of the phone, a sharp breath hissing past my teeth. Marnin doesn't have his phone on him. He gave it to her - and by her worried greeting, I can only conclude that he hasn't returned to her. Not yet.

"Ljuba," I breathe, drawing the word out in a sing-song. "What a pleasant surprise. How are you? Lonely, I imagine."

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43 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:01 pm

The sound of the foreign voice purring my name immediately brings tears to my eyes, my legs drawing up to the couch as I hug my knees to my front.

"Where is he?" I cry into the phone, my voice soft and defeated as I try to shrink out of view of the others.

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44 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:08 pm

"He's out riding, of course," I respond sweetly. "He's always loved riding. It reminds him of Milly - we still have her horse, you know. You should have seen the way he wept when he saw her - he was so happy to have a piece of her back. Not much of those happy memories out west with you, are there?"

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45 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:12 pm

A sharp sob shakes through me as I shake my head, my hands moving to hide my face and the phone as I inhale raggedly.

"He loves me," I say weakly, wiping at my face.

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