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Poor Life Decisions

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1 Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:39 am

The chill in the evening air sends a bit of a shiver down my back as I linger outside of the Crow's Perch. The sun's just begun to be lost to the horizon, and I'm beginning to wonder if Solas is planning on taking up residence at whatever beer soaked crevice he's in or if he'll be returning to whatever home he'd been to earlier in the day. 

As soon as I'd seen the fucker's horse outside of Yvla's earlier, I hung back and watched. Watched as she exchanged pleasantries with the hunter before bidding him good bye, watched the too-comfortable way he said farewell to Evander and Raefiya before the door finally shut behind him. A quiet exchange, subdued, but too familiar for my own tastes. He was a hunter, and Yvla had no business letting him back into our home. 

There were several points in the day where I'd worried I'd lost him as I meandered through the city, careful to keep just enough of an eye on him or his horse that he wouldn't be lost to the crowds. I'd almost abandoned the task of confronting him entirely when he headed out of the city towards an area known for farms and secluded residences, my better judgement getting the better of me as I let him go. As curious as I am about him, I know better than to wander too close to a hunter's home. 

The sun was just threatening to dip in the sky when I caught sight of the silver haired man riding back into town from the shop I'd busied myself in. From there, it was a simple trip to the Crow's Perch, where he's been now for nearly an hour with no signs of leaving yet.

Growing tired of waiting, I brush my hands through my hair before turning to push into the door of the bustling bar, a smile creeping across my face as I scan the room for the man I'm looking for.

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2 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:59 am

The usual crowd of wily companions that I tend to keep company with has not yet arrived for the evening, a fact that I'm honestly grateful for as I enjoy the relative quiet of a smaller table. With Elwinel busy with her studies, Varna has taken the afternoon away from his shop to join me. His quiet company is a welcome reprieve, the man's presence always able to calm even my most restless and troubled spirits.

"I'm just not sure what to make of this whole situation," I finally sigh as I watch him reshuffle the cards, his lined features thoughtful as he nods quietly. "I may have pushed it this time. Between Emhyr and the witches... I don't know. Am I being foolish, worrying like this?"

"I can't answer that for you, Solas," Varna frowns up at me as he deals out the cards, his gaze flickering over toward the door. I find myself huffing at his lack of helpfulness as I run a hand through my hair and rest my elbow on the table, my other hand looking at the cards he'd dealt me with a gruff frown pulling at the edge of my lips.

"Speaking of witches," Varna clears his throat, his tone drawing my attention quickly as I look up to see him nodding toward the door. "That one's been eyeballing you since she walked in the front door."

"Damn it," I hiss after stealing a glance over my shoulder, my weight shifting forward as I drop my voice. "That's the one I was talking about! Nell or - something."

"Nell, huh?" Varna asks, the lines deepening around his eyes as he smiles at me in a mischievous sort of way. "Well, let's just deal with this right now then, shall we?" he says roughly before waving toward the woman, beckoning her to join us as my eyes grow wide.

"What the hell are you doing?!" I demand as the smug old bastard starts to deal out another hand for our 'guest.'

"I'm finding out if the girl can play gwent, what does it look like?" he scoffs as he splits what's left of the deck into three and places a stack neck to each of our hands.

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3 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:07 am

Pulling my coat off, I make my way across the bar as I take a quick survey of it's occupants. No familiar faces stand out, friendly or otherwise, as I approach the table to drop my coat on the back of the offered chair. 

"Gentlemen," I greet them fondly, "I take it that hand's for me?"

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4 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:14 am

"If you promise to go easy on an old man," Varna replies with a warm smile as he leans back into his chair and gestures for one of the barmaids to bring another drink. Somehow, I manage not to roll my eyes at his friendliness, the woman's intrusion into this otherwise safe place setting me back on my heels a little more than I care to admit.

"To what do I owe the pleasure?" I finally ask, avoiding the exasperated sigh as I stick instead to aggravating politeness. "I'd be willing to believe this is wild coincidence if I had ever seen your face on this side of town before today, but since I haven't, I can only assume you're here to talk to me specifically?"

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5 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:21 am

I take the seat and offer the older man a gracious smile as I take the cards laid out for me, glancing through them before I play with them absently.

“Well, you’ve been to my home three times now, can you blame a girl for being a bit curious about who’s sniffing around her family?” I reply sweetly, raising an eyebrow towards him.

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6 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:26 am

"No sniffing going on here," I respond as I sort through my cards absently. Varna, it seems, has forgotten his own hand as he drinks and watches us silently, the froth from his mug clinging to his greying whiskers.

"My partner made some regrettable choices, and I merely sought to rectify them," I say blandly as I lay out the first card on the table before gesturing for her to make the next move.

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7 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:32 am

I hardly glance at the card I pull and lay down, instead keeping the majority of my focus on the hunter.

“Of course, last night perhaps.” I quip, “But playing house today doesn’t quite fit into that, does it?”

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8 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:37 am

"Do you imagine many minds were left at ease with how things concluded last night?" I ask with a raised eyebrow. "I didn't. Hence my inclination to visit and bring further apologies and reassurances that Yvla could expect no further trouble from my partner. To do any less would only be further torture."

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9 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:44 am

“Hunter with a heart of gold, this one.” I chortle, looking amusedly at the older man before cutting Solas an annoyed look.

“Yvvy doesn’t need some hunter lingering ‘round her house whenever he feels like clearing his conscience. She’s naive, she doesn’t bother with what others might be seeing or piecing together because she believes in the good nature of their souls, but people are rotten fucking heathens, as you well know. Someone thinks she’s tied up with some Temple rat, a whole lot worse than your friend could come knocking on her door.”

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10 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:53 am

"Funny," I reply dryly as I lie down another card, not bothering to look at her. "I was just having this very same discussion with Varna before you arrived regarding someone seeing me with a Witch. You think your kin are quick to think the worst; you've never seen what the Temple does to hunters they believe have turned deviant.

"Though, if you've ever been warmed by the pyres in Novigrad, I'm sure your imagination can fill in the blanks," I say flatly as I lean back in my chair to look her over. "You needn't worry about your friend," I say more resolutely. "I have no desire to cause any trouble - for myself or her. You won't be seeing me 'sniffing around' again."

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11 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:59 am

“Good,” I remark coolly, dropping another card on the table. “And relay a message to your friend, if another hunter so much as breathes near my niece or nephew-“ I pause slightly, leaning in as I lower my voice, “I’ll personally torch their fucking homes and build a pyre of my own.

Sitting back, I smile back at the other man before glancing towards his forgotten hand. “Playing?”

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12 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:12 am

"And interrupt the show?" Varna asks with a smirk as I cut him an annoyed glare. "I think not."

"I'm not telling Emhyr a thing," I say, ignoring Varna as he watches the game - more likely protecting his damned cards in case he loses to the hot headed woman. "And while I appreciate your candidness, that's not the wisest threat to share with a hunter. Men not unlike Emhyr would take that as a challenge, and come after not just you, but your niece and nephew, as well - just to spite you for your audacity. Escalation is not always the best tactic to deter a threat - at least not one like the Temple."

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13 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:17 am

“I know what I said,” I retort, looking at Solas seriously. “Don’t think I need lessons on dealing with threats to my kind from a betrayer to his.”

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14 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:34 am

I raise an eyebrow at that, my expression carrying just enough confusion to leave the accusation unconfirmed as I look her over coldly. Varna's confusion is more genuine as he lets out a questioning grunt, his spiced chicken sitting forgotten as his hand rests on the plate hesitantly.

"I really have no idea what you're talking about," I frown as I pause to take a drink of my ale. "But you remind me of Emhyr."

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15 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:37 am

“He sounds like an asshole,” I shrug before grinning, something about Solas’s posture feeling forced. Still, my grab for information yielded little reward and I turn to my cards boredly as the barmaid brings me a drink.

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16 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:44 am

"Your words, not mine," I shrug as I adjust my cards, catching Varna's gaze as his brow pinches together. I shrug my shoulders at him, my jaw clenching in warning for him to leave it before I commit to playing another card.

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17 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:06 am


The tension of Nell's unexpected appearance had not faded as our game carried on. It wasn't until Hylda and a couple others joined us that she eventually left, her departure unnoticed by the boisterous group. Varna kept his silence after the fact, his weathered eyes carrying all the words he had to say as he kept a watchful eye over me the next few days. It isn't until Elwinel has gone to spend a night working with Hylda that I finally crack.

"Solas," Varna's sharp tone catches me off-guard as I make my way downstairs, hurrying toward the front door. I hadn't realized anyone was home, and the old man sitting in the study startles me as he catches me at the threshold. I feel momentarily panicked as he comes out into the foyer, looking me over with a faint frown. My appearance is almost unrecognizable, my hair nearly white with the pale skin to match, and not a line of age nor sorrow in sight. It's an appearance I only ever wear when I'm about to do something stupid - or so Varna says.

"What??" I ask defensively, trying not to look too guilty.

"Don't let the witch goad you into doing something foolish," he frowns, his tone infuriatingly worried. "Remember what happened the last time you got tangled in the affairs of a witch."

"I'm fine," I respond more curtly than I'd intended before I correct my tone with a sigh. "Thank you. I'll be careful, I promise. Just - go back to your book. I may not return tonight. If I get bored, I may look into a barghest near Novigrad. I'll let you know."

Varna's whiskers bristle as he exhales heavily, his lips pursing as he nods and turns back to the study.  I can't decide if I'm grateful or bothered by his concern. Either way, it's not a thought I linger on for long as I pull my hood up over my head and go to the stable to fetch one of the stallions that I don't often ride. Etrielle huffs at my passing, my unfamiliar visage no doubt conflicting with my otherwise familiar scent. If a horse could express emotion, I'd reckon hers would be one of relief when I pass her by to take her more ornery mate.

My horse outfitted with a worn saddle, I set out toward town. My passing so early in the morning draws a few eyes, but once I make my way into the more occult part of the city, the curiosity dies and people avoid staring for too long. Normal as most witches are, the common people of the city still have the good sense not to press too far into the affairs of anyone who could hex or curse them with naught but a thought. And my attire leaves little doubt as to my belonging in this part of the city - even if my face is relatively unfamiliar.

I spend much of the morning poking around from shop to shop, doing a little shopping, but mostly making myself familiar with the area. That is, more familiar than I already am. By the time lunch rolls around, I can feel my stomach growling, but it's a desire I ignore as I keep watch for Nell. I'm close enough to her house that should she venture out today, I should be able to spot her. And eventually, I do.

I make a point to busy myself with a small grimoire as I linger outside of a shop, jotting down notes and glancing up to watch her from under the cover of my hood. With practiced effortlessness, I fall into step several paces behind her, still halfway focused on my grimoire as I follow her for a ways. To an onlooker (or Nell), it would appear only as though we just happened to be heading in the same direction.

Thankfully, that direction leads us to a pub and not some private home where I would be hard pressed trying to follow her. My stomach growls again as I follow her inside, the smell of spiced potatoes and sizzling meats hitting me across the face as we leave the bright noon sun behind us. I take a seat at the bar a few stools down from her, nodding toward the bartender as he acknowledges me. For a moment, I'm a little startled by the man's odd appearance; he's tall. Very tall. But more alarming is the almost unnatural color of his skin. It isn't until he smacks a large mug of cider down in front of me that I can see the stone-like protrusions on his arms and neck.

"It's not often one sees a stone troll working in a human pub," I say mildly, my comment earning me a dubious glare which I'm quick to meet with a casual toast. "I'm pleased to see they've accepted you here."

His posture relaxes a little, though my greeting only receives a gravelly grunt as a response before he moves off to retrieve a menu for me. I flinch as he returns to toss it down in front of me, the wood framed parchment hitting the edge of my mug just as I'm picking it up to take a drink. I frown at the sloshed cider for only a moment before taking the drink anyway, and then setting it aside to pick up the soaked menu. The troll doesn't offer so much as a second glance as I give him a tight-lipped look, my eyebrow raising at his back before I flick the menu to rid it of some of its moisture.

"Charming one, you are," I comment dryly as he tosses a damp rag my way, leaving me to clean up the mess myself. I make no bigger deal of it than that as I sop up the spilled cider, and then hand the rag and the menu back to the troll. "I'll just have the duck and potatoes, thank you."

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18 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:21 pm

The pale man several stools down had caught my attention, my gaze lingering almost too long before I'm snapped back to the present as a menu hits the bar in front of me. 

"Hey, Art." I say with a heavy sigh as I grab the menu, sitting up so I can dig into my pockets as I look up at him with a feigned smile. "I got that stuff you wanted, by the way."

Art's gruff "Oh?" is so deep I can almost feel it in my chest as I manage to find the small parcel of bottled potions. 

"Same as last time, no doublin' up. You get sick again, don't come crawling to me." I continue quietly, setting the parcel on the bar as I glance back at the menu. "Bread, whatever's freshest and some of your lady's berry jam. Oh, and a room."

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19 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:39 pm

Her request for a room piques my curiosity as my mug hesitates at my lips. Taking a sip, I place the mug back on the counter and run my hand over the surface of the wood to make sure it isn't sticky.

"Have you been traveling long?" I ask as I pull the small grimoire from inside my vest pocket before opening it to my previous page and flattening it out in front of me - far from the dangerous mug of cider.

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20 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:49 pm

My eyebrows raise as I glance at the pale man, his question leaving a bit confused before it clicks and I shake my head.

“No, no,” I laugh vaguely, nodding my head to Art as he hands me my own mug of ale before turning in my order. “I’m not a traveler. You?”

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21 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:13 pm

"By trade, yeah," I nod as I look her over. She looks sallow and unkempt, as though exhaustion has long since taken root inside her bones. "If you aren't traveling, why rent a room?" I ask with a raised eyebrow.

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22 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:24 pm

"That is none of your business, is it?" I respond sharply, my eyebrows pinched as I look at him at a loss. My posture softens a bit as I shrug, shaking my head. 

"Just need some time away, s'all. Don't feel like being at home. Surely, everyone's felt like that before."

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23 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:39 pm

"My apologies for prying," I say less evenly than I normally would as I bring my mug to my lips. "I had thought perhaps you provide some healing services here during the day or something, since you just gave him a potion." I nod toward Art as I put my mug back down.

"My mistake," I add as I return my attention to the book in front of me. "But yes, I can certainly relate with the need to escape."

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24 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:28 pm

"Wow, you're nosy." I scoff as I shake my head, shifting on my bar stool so I can turn and face him curiously. "Art's an old friend of the family, we do little favors sometimes. Ya know, I don't think I've seen you in here before, where are you from?"

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25 Re: Poor Life Decisions on Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:42 am

"No where local," I respond, hesitating for a moment as I debate lying or telling her the truth. I cover my stall with another swig of ale before I glance at her, opting for some version of honesty. "I move around a lot, but I'm from Skellige originally. Trade there has suffered of late, though, with the war going on. Between the ice and the pirates, merchants don't often dare take a ship too close to the islands if they care to keep their lives. It's better just to travel here on the mainland, and sell my skills where they're needed.

"And you?" I ask.

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