Life in Saren’s Rest tends to be a cycle of dangerous work in Vanished Point and hard play in the town. As such, it’s pretty common for the ‘prospectors’ to party hard once they return from their daily defiance of death. Places like Rousseau’s fill up nicely every evening, the Bazaar does brisk business and various entertainments of all kinds about if you know where to look.
Hunter is doing none of that. He’s found a quiet alley in a sublevel and has set up a shooting course. A human of the golden age would recognize the kind of timed shooting course that competition shooters used to hone their skills. This kind of thing isn’t really entertainment anymore. And it’s practice and training well above and beyond what most people do… but here he is.
Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack.
The shoots ring out with a regular cadence.
It’s a different buzz of life than that of Vesper, but despite its being the first place he’d ever really gotten a chance to explore, Yaren had not nearly done so enough. Things on the mainland had kept him preoccupied and distracted, but with such business regarding pirates for the time being, resolved, he was glad to have some time to pursue his own curiosities, having at least the means to pay for travel at his leisure.
Saren’s Rest is just as he recalls it, the vague familiarity somewhat comforting. Or perhaps it’s the way the Bazaar reminds him of Market Town, and in general all sorts gather and carouse. Ah, yes. He’s become familiar with this atmosphere as well.
It’s that strange sound that catches his attention, out of place amongst the casual cacophony. So sharp, crisp… intentional. So naturally Yaren must find out what it is.
It does take some effort to home in on the exact location, but he is patient and his curiosity knows no bounds. His quiet steps bring him into the alley, his tricorn tilting as he tries to discern what it is he’s come upon.
Sometimes the cadence of this crisp, clean cracking noises is slow. Sometimes fast. And sometimes there’s seemingly just one… with a long pause.
When Yaren does finally trace it to it’s source, one level down amid the sleek black, white and chrome finishings of the abandoned mega city, he finds the wolfen in his duster with his weapon holstered.
And then just like a flash he draws and fires at a target about 50 feet away. There’s a single CRACK that echoes through the place.
The wolfen raises his weapon, opens the cylinder and dumps all six casings. He had fired all six… fast enough that it sounded like one shot.
Quietly observing is something Yaren excels at, and such is what he does once he finds the wolfen. As pleased as he is to see Hunter again, Yaren does not disrupt him, especially not when he seems to be in the middle of something.
And so he watches. He’s familiar with the wolfen’s weapon, although this is the first time he’s actually watched him make use of it. While he doesn’t flinch at the sound that shatters the stillness that had settled, his glowing eyes narrow as he watches Hunter empty his weapon. If he’s understanding the function of the weapon correctly, then that result is rather amazing.
Hunter reloads with practiced skill and flicks the cylinder shut. His ears flick ever so slightly and he glances behind him. He hadn’t heard Yaren coming up, no. Call it a sixth sense.
Though, not a literal one, he’s not psychic.
“Yaren. Hello. I’m not used to creatures that don’t have a scent.” And so far as he can tell, Yaren doesn’t. He just smells like clothes. His clothes all smell like things yes… but none of them are ‘him’. “What brings you on down?”
Walking piles of clothes usually don’t make much noise. Yaren nods at Hunter once the wolfen notices he’s no longer alone, moving closer.
“Greetings, Hunter,” he replies, looking just a touch apologetic. But having no real scent of your own does have its advantages, especially when you used to spend most of your time studying wildlife. In general Yaren preferred to be unobtrusive, but here he has learned that there are times when one must engage others. Being amongst pirates will especially do that to you.
“This one followed the sound of your shots.” He glances in the direction of that last target. It never stood a chance. “Practicing?”
Ah. That explains it quite well. “Yes. Gotta keep ones skills sharp. Never know when you might need them.” That’s a pretty standard mercenary thing to say but Hunter has other reasons for it. For him, being a mercenary is just something he does to pay the bills and keep his bot running. The reason he’s really out here…
… well, there’s a story behind that.
The wolfen goes over to a table and lays his weapons down. “Enjoying Saren’s Rest? Are you here for work or just looking around?”
Yaren considers those words, nodding again. Before, such would have been a foreign concept to him, but then many things had been simpler then. He almost looks troubled for a moment at that thought, but it’s difficult to tell when even the brim of his hat shadows the only details of his face.
It’s gone, a fleeting moment like the beat of a butterfly’s wing. “I am. It has been some time since I’ve come to wander,” he says as he looks back at Hunter.
“There’s a lot of places to wander. Come on. I’ll show you one I found a while ago.”
The wolfen picks up his weapon again – no reason to leave it laying around – and starts to walk. He spins the pistol almost absently and holsters it as he triggers a door and heads down what looks like a set of maintenance corridors.
“What we consider to be the streets of Saren’s Rest and Vanished point were at one time considered level… two or three. Thirty meters into the air, the first modern section of the city built above the old one as a test bed for the later, larger high platform.” Interesting history lesson? “Do your people build, Yaren?”
He starts after Hunter, picturing the things the wolfen speaks of. Saren’s Rest itself was fascinating in its design, intentional or not, and the fact that things were purposely built up is but another door opened to things Yaren had previously not really thought about. Outstretching a hand, he lets the spindly fingers of his glove run across the surface of the wall beside him, his head following the line of the corridor.
Emitting a quiet, thoughtful sound, his violet eyes vanish completely for a moment, closed in consideration. “…we are not,” he finally says, resuming his walk. “We roam. We watch. We experience.” Each word is like the strike of a flint with the hope that it might catch, that something more of those days would ignite and flare in his memories.
“Most be an interesting world you live in. Or on. Or however it works.” The wolfen takes a left. The passage gets winder. Perhaps they’re back onto the main walkways again. Up ahead there’s an open door and a lot of blackness. “How’d you get here anyway? My people came through rifts hundreds of years ago… more than once.”
Wolfen are actually quite common across the Multiverse. So common no one quite knows what their homeworld actually is.
Memories do come, but they’re made up of scents, of colors and sounds. Borrowed experiences, watched through the eyes of something else. “…so far as this one knows, there were no great cities like that of Vesper, or even places such as this. But there were people, although we did not interact with them until more recent times.” How recent that was, he can’t say for certain. Yaren had never bothered to measure time as people did, not before here.
There doesn’t seem to be much to look at along these passageways, but he trusts Hunter knows where to go. “This one walked. Through one of those rifts, as you call them, although this one did not know at the time what had happened exactly.” The landscape had not changed so drastically, save for when he thought to look back. Still, for all that he’s probably stuck here, Yaren doesn’t sound terribly disturbed by the notion.
“Were you born here, in this world?” he asks.
“Yes. Fifth generation…” Hunter steps into that darkened room and turns to hit a switch. The whole room lights up. It looks like it had at one time been a garden or atrium. The plant life has run a little bit rampant but it’s still fairly well kept. The entire far end of the room – which goes down a story to it’s floor via catwalks and ramps – is a window looking into the sea. Fish are floating by it and in the distance, from the exterior lights, ruins far older than this place (well the same age but appearing older) can be seen.
“This place used to be about twenty meters in the air. It’s below water level now. Not a bad view, all the same.”
It’s like an interesting trick of magic, getting something to light up like that. It never ceased to amaze Yaren whenever the lights would come on in Vesper to herald the busy nightlife. This isn’t as dramatic, or at least, not in quite the same way, but it has its own suspense and awe to elicit once the light reveals what had been hidden in darkness.
He does not breathe, but he has somewhere learned the emphasis of a gasp, and so employs it here as his violet eyes widen. “…beautiful…” he murmurs, stepping past the doorway and Hunter to stare openly at the lush, overgrown gardens, and perhaps more intently, towards the far literal window to the sea.
“Thought you might like it.” Hunter grins. He recalls that Yaren is something of a… wanderer. A seeker seeking nothing in particular but what’s over the next horizon. He’s heard the word ‘rambler’ used before but he never got that one. Yaren seems pretty quiet in any case.
“There’s dozens, maybe hundreds of little gems tucked away in the under levels. Some of them are under the bedrock…” He points down, below the floor.
“So long as you’re on this side of the ward stone line, you’re pretty safe provided they’re not flooded. Sea monsters don’t respect Saren’s truce.”
Sealife isn’t something that Yaren’s had exclusive experience with. Maybe some of his kind had ventured far enough that they came across an ocean, but Yaren had spent much of his time dwelling across the land. In any case, it would have been tricky to interact with creatures of the water, and there would have been no such place as this in his world.
It almost seems like he’s hesitant to venture downwards, if only because he wonders if he needs permission. Certainly the eagerness to do so is there, but he doesn’t go too far, his gaze sweeping the gardens and walkways that would lead down.
“Ward stone line…?” He looks back at Hunter then. “Are sea monsters common in this area?” Because he kind of wants to see one now.
“Common? Yes and no. The big ones are thankfully rare. But we get our share of nasties coming off the Demon Sea near Atlantis…” The wolfen realises after a moment that might not make any sense, so he turns and breathes on the chomework near him and draws a triangle in the condensation.
“Ley line triangles at sea. They tend to dump a lot of nasties off. Some of them make their way here. The smaller sort of sea nasty is common enough but also more easily avoided or defeated.”
At the question of the ward stone line, Hunter chuckles. “Have you seen those big standing stones at the southern edge of the city? They mark the limits of Saren’s truce. Beyond that the demons have free reign. They can’t cross onto this side or attack anyone on this side. If they do, the dragon can extract a price from them.”
It’s actually what makes Saren’s Rest even possible. There’s a //lot// of demons in Vanished Point. “Anyway it also covers the underground passages on this side. Some people live down here too. The ones that like to be left alone. But mostly it’s empty. This place is huge, even this little corner of it.”
Turning, Yaren watches as Hunter traces out a triangle, nodding as he takes in this information. That makes a bit more sense. He thinks a moment before nodding again as he recalls what the wolfen speaks of next. “Ah…” Oh, and does he remember that demon encounter. That had been a most interesting and eventful excursion, that one time he had gone to Vanished Point.
His gaze drifting back towards the water-walled window, he finds himself wondering how it would be like for those who chose to live alone in such places. Maybe they weren’t all like this, but he can understand how some might prefer solitude, and this place alone could practically be one’s own private sanctuary.
“So this one sees…”
“Well I’m gonna head back to my practice. Sharp skills, sharp claws as we say in Lazlo.” The wolfen gives a fangy smile. “You’re welcome to join me if you like. Or go exploring. I doubt anyone will mind so long as you don’t go knocking walls down.”
Which would be difficult in any case. The wolfen heads out of the room just as a large squid like creature floats by, glowing red eye staring in the window and barbed tentacles trailing behind it.
That serves as much as permission as anything else. Yaren’s eyes seem to smile as he looks back towards Hunter, bowing his head briefly. “This one will at least know where to find you,” he says, his attention already drifting back towards the window. “But perhaps for now, this one shall watch. And maybe explore a little more.”
Unless of course, something like that appears within the limited range of the window. The hat-wearing wanderer drifts towards the catwalks. Given what he’d just caught a glimpse of in the waters beyond the glass, he might be here a while.