It’s not often that Psi-Stalkers are interested in high fashion. However a group of rather the rather rowdy psychic vampires has been carrying on in Varos’ shop for the better part of half an hour, trying to figure out exactly what fine silks or articles of ‘city wear’ to bring back as souvenirs of their trip to Vesper. The group is dressed in leathers and furs and armor, with various vicious and serrated knives hanging from sundry places on their person, not all of which look entirely practical. The way things have been going, either the tailor or his ‘assistants’ might be hoping and praying that something eventful happens just to save them from the general boisterousness of the group.
Aiden is here looking entirely bemused at the goings on. He’s familiar enough with Psi Stalkers being rather well traveled AND having come over the Appalachians some time ago. These are of a tribe that makes their tattoos out of some kind of blue pigment. Which one he’s rather forgotten. They tend to move around and change over time. It’s hardly important right now. One of them keeps sliding him glances like one might slide a juicy steak. And one of the women keeps sliding him glances of a different sort.
Slaine’s been back and forwards between Saren’s Rest and Vesper for the last few weeks. If she’s spoken to Gran about her problems, then no ones about it. One things for certain though, she hasn’t spoken to Aiden directly since they fought.
Which might be why she’s hesitated at the door of Clothier Z as she opens it. Of course, some might think it’s got something to do with the psi-stalkers.
The small, redheaded mystic, is dressed in leggings and a tunic – not her customary travelling leathers. Generally a sign that she’s got a ‘day off’ from the contracts that she takes.
Varos has a headache and it’s not simply because there are Psi-stalkers in his shop. In fact, the only thing keeping him sane right now is the mild amusement he gets from those sidelong glances towards the other psychic, and he’s only too happy to not be on the receiving end of being studied as a potential meal. But there’s a perfectly good reason why their materials are kept out of easy access from their patrons, walk-in or otherwise unless samples are required for ironing out commission details.
Anyn certainly wishes she’d taken the later ferry back to Vesper rather than be here, and it’s because of their current guests that she and Raksha are handling the shopfront. The Twin in frills and lace eyes the Psi-stalkers and tries not to twitch as they poke about the samples and the things they do have for ready sale on display. Raksha seems to be much more relaxed, or is simply better at hiding her own tension as she politely keeps an eye on them and asks if they need any assistance with anything, offering Aiden an apologetic look when she can as she’s caught those looks in his direction and doesn’t need to be seeing them through the eyes of the Psi-Stalkers themselves to figure what they might imply.
Looking towards the door, Raksha smiles at the red-haired mystic. “Ah, good day, Slaine,” she greets. Even Anyn looks relieved to have another regular in the shop. Yeah, she counts Aiden as one too- aren’t you lucky?
The twin in lace is getting bombarded by questions about her choice of attire, and how it might be modified to A) conceal less and B) Stand up to the rigors of hard outdoor use. Those two things might be mutually exclusive, not that the psi-stalkers seem to know that.
Aiden sees Slaine but doesn’t at the moment want to leave his relatively quiet and thus far unmolested corner, lest one of the two stalkers eyeing him take the opportunity to accost him. It seems like a stalemate until all of a sudden the one who has been eyeing Aiden like so much raptor roast suddenly directs his full attention to the front door.
Which slams open. A women with a cloth bound around her eyes stumbles in. She’s wounded, bleeding from a dozen cuts and burned down her right side. Varos didn’t see her coming, and he’ll instantly know why.
She’s blind. Just like he is. And unlike him… she doesn’t seem to have a way to borrow peoples eyes.
Aiden tenses. Slaine or Raksha, if they’re looking his way, might see his fist clench as it does before he calls his sword.
Aiden’s lack of response doesn’t make Slaine’s entrance any easier. The small mystic’s face tightens slightly as she looks at him. Raksha won’t miss that, the Mystic couldn’t hide it. She might also notice the simple metal band Slaine is wearing on her brow, the gem embedded in it, winking a lazy emerald green.
“Hello Raksha, perhaps I shoul’ come back later. When ye aren’ so busy…” the Mystic murmurs, eyes watching the psi-stalkers talking to and eyeing Aiden. The door slamming open causes her to jump, a lot and blue energy crackles across the back of her fingers. Which might be why she notices the grey-eyed psychics response first, and why she turns to look at the woman.
“What is it, Vargr?” she says loudly enough for him to hear her, even as she moves to assist the woman. She’s bleeding and burned – this can’t be good.
Anyn actually addresses the questions rather enthusiastically, suggesting that perhaps lingerie might be in their better interests despite a flat look shot over at her from Raksha. And one would be rather surprised how durable fabrics and materials can be, and lace made by nearly steel-grade threads from particular silk worms are very much a thing, especially if you’re slightly paranoid about being stabbed in the back when you’re walking out in the street in your Sunday best.
“I’ll leave the decision to you, Slaine, but you’re never a bother,” Raksha starts to say. She gasps as the door opens not long after Slaine’s stepped inside, and Anyn’s slipped her hand to one of the pistols she’s got holstered just beneath the fluffy black hem of her skirt.
Varos may not have seen their latest visitor’s intent for the shop, but if anyone had been outside and caught a glimpse, that would have worked just as well. All the same it’s still a surprise to see as all eyes within the storefront alight upon the woman who’s come in, and in the back room, the visored clothier’s gotten to his feet, starting towards the curtained doorway with a frown.
Raksha glances at the others, as much for her benefit as Varos to get an idea of what’s going on before she looks back towards the bloodied woman. “Miss? Are you all right? If you’re in need of assistance, perhaps we should get someone from the Restorium,” she suggests, her voice steady as she follows Slaine.
“Altaran…” Aiden half growls to Slaine. “Splugorth warrior-slaves.”
Aiden is not fond of the Splugorth or their minions and the Blind Altaran Warrior Women rank high among the most dangerous ones. The woman heard him even over the din of the psi stalkers and turns her head in his direction.
“Please, I mean you no harm. I’m being hunted by a being that calls itself Baron Von Nasher. I dare not go to the Restorium right now.” That will answer Raksha’s question fairly well.
Varos or his assistants may… well want to clear the room.
Though that won’t happen before Anyn’s interrogators brighten up. “That sounds perfect. How long would it take you to make twelve sets?”
Slaine has heard the term and she peers at the woman carefully “These are the ones that direct the slaves when they’re taken, aren’t they?” She actually steps back from the woman, not quite sure how to respond. The mention of Von Nasher has her frowning though.
“Why?” she asks bluntly. Why is she being hunted?
Normally she’d snicker about the lingerie, but her attention is directed to the woman.
Shamelessly eyeing the small contingent of Psi-Stalkers as to take estimates of measurements, Anyn smiles even as she steps closer towards the curtain. “End of the week, should nothing unforeseen happen,” she replies. Her gun remains holstered, but she still has a hand resting upon it. Both she and Raksha are familiar with the term that Aiden mentions, if only because of recent findings from Varos.
Raksha’s eyes narrow as she looks at the blind woman in a new light, ceasing her approach.
Behind the curtain Varos pauses, his hand raised but an inch from the heavy material, his teeth gritting. Von Nasher again. But why is she here?
“What brings you here,” Raksha asks, her tone dropping a few degrees, her question chasing the tail of Slaine’s.
“Was the closest place. I was ambushed… by my sisters… not far away.”
Sisters. She’ll mean other Altarans. In the Employ of Nasher? Or is she a runaway, one of the rare Altarans who defies the Splugorth.
The Psi-Stalkers start to file out. They’re not too worried about the conversation going on right now. Heavens only know how much of it they heard anyway.
“I… do not know why I am being hunted. Only that he has put a price on my head. He wants my heart.”
Another part for some kind of ghoulish construct, no doubt the same one that Varos’ eyes are wanted for. This may or may not make Slaine more sympathetic.
It hasn’t made Aiden any more sympathetic.
Do you have one… That’s the question on the tip of the Mystic’s tongue when the Altaran speaks of why the Baron wants her.
“There are Altarans close to Vesper, or in Vesper?” That’s what she does ask. Does that mean there may not be slavers too far away? She steps out of the way, letting the psi-stalkers pass though she glares daggers at the woman who’d been looking at Aiden. “Your sisters ambushed you? Are they minions of this Von Nasher?” She’s sure the Twins or Varos will have more to add.
She looks at Aiden. “We should tell Sanka’a.” That’s … more words than she’s spoken to him in a couple of weeks.
Just as well the Psi-Stalkers leave. Anyn’s the only one waving as they depart, being an obnoxiously pleasant shopkeep until they’ve cleared. Somehow the door locks as soon as they’ve all stepped out, although the Twins know full well who’s responsible for that.
Varos steps out then, brushing past Anyn, hand resting gently upon her shoulder as he guides her aside. He smiles thinly, although it’s obvious he has no care for the news that’s been dropped upon them. “Hunted by your own. And somehow you’ve ended up here,” he says, head turning in Aiden’s direction, then Slaine’s.
“It seems the Baron’s in the market for interesting parts.” His smile’s faded almost as soon as he’d started to speak, his apparent attention drifting back towards the Altaran as he’d like to hear what her answer is to Slaine’s question, but he’s pushed his senses outwards, monitoring the area outside of the shop and as far beyond as his limits will allow.
“There… are…” She seems reluctant to admit that. “I did not think there would be but there are. I assumed that they had come here on behalf of my former masters, but I think perhaps they were… already here. Working for this Baron.”
That means there probably aren’t Splugorth agents in the city. Well, strike that, there likely are but those are probably not them.
“We probably should.” Aiden mutters to Slaine before saying a bit louder. “Why does he want YOUR heart in particular?”
“I do not know…” The woman says shaking her head. “I know only that he has a seer of some kind who has shown him a way to… some form of immortality. But to do that he must harvest the most perfect ingredients. The sight of a blind man. The heart of the loveless. There are others. I’ve heard the list… my assailants were quite… chatty.”
Aiden makes a face and looks to Slaine. How much is she buying any of this?
Slaine isn’t buying much of this and she’ll go with Aiden to see Sanka’a. “Can we get the whole list?” Maybe it will help them work out what the Baron is really doing and where to find him.
“What do you want to do, Varos?”
“By former masters, are you implying that you renounce your allegiance with them?” Varos asks, pulling his psyvision back slightly. He doesn’t like that there are such people about, wondering if the Nighthand is aware of it. Then again that might be how the Marquis has gotten his information, but Varos can only guess.
“I’d like to hear the rest of the list as well,” Raksha says, glancing at Slaine and Aiden before she looks back towards the blind woman.
Varos fingers his chin, thinking before he tilts his head in Slaine’s direction. “If the Baron and others are after her, we should see that she is placed somewhere that they will not be able to get to her. And if this woman can further provide what information she knows, then more the advantage for us. …I suppose we could start with a name?” At the last he directs the question towards the Altaran.
“Also, are either of you familiar with what a’Rift Herald’ is?” That he asks of Slaine and Aiden, and his tone is curious because quite frankly, he hadn’t particularly gotten an explanation but he’s been given information that he can at least guess.
“The eyes of a blind man, the heart of the loveless, the strength of the riven, the grace of a cripple and the brilliance of a fool.” The woman recites.
Aiden shakes his head. “Magic, of course. But couched in riddles. This Baron thinks he has the answer to them, or his seer does. I wonder who or what he is using.”
“They say a Grey Seer gone bad…”
Slaine might know the term. The Grey Seers are some of the most powerful psychic prophets on Rifts Earth.
“Oh, sorry. And the fire of the gods-blooded.”
Aiden looks very slowly over to Slaine now. That’s… bad.
“The Rift Herald?” Slaine looks to Varos, her brow furrowing again. “I … think that’s a demon. Not a nice one if I remember the tales Gran used to tell.”
The list when it comes gets a startled look and the redhead returns Aiden’s look. “I don’ like the sound of those.” Though she’s not sure where they’re targeting the others.
Anyn takes some quick notes, frowning as she looks from the blind woman to Varos. Raksha keeps her eyes on the other three in general, but she starts towards the shop window to turn the sign from ‘open’ to ‘closed.’ Varos has already taken care of locking the door earlier, at least, but better to ward off anyone who might happen by before they even try entering.
“For someone that might be wanting to gain a body, that’s a very abstract list,” he murmurs, frowning. “Of course, that just makes it even worse I suppose.” His head tilts in Slaine’s direction as the Altaran adds on, catching Aiden’s attention shift there. Well then.
“A demon? Wonderful. Well, I suppose if he’s got an archdemon in his employ, then why not more demons?” He looks slightly annoyed although inwardly this is all quite a troubling matter. His fingers tap at his lips anxiously as he turns over the information that’s just been mentioned, Raksha stepping back towards him, resting a hand upon his shoulder.
“A void demon yes.” The woman says. She ‘glances’ back at Aiden. “You… have been rather quiet.”
“I’m not overly fond of Atlanteans or those who serve them.” The edge in the psychics voice makes the blind woman wince. She’s probably… heard it before.
“And what does the Baron get out of this again?”
“Some… kind of immortality. I’m not clear on it. I don’t really want to be.”
“Do ye know where to find him? This Rift Herald?” Slaine asks quietly, playing the list through in her head. Unconsciously her hand raises to her hair, toying with it slightly … she’s not a Grey Seer and she’s not sure of that list.
“I don’t know, Varos. Maybe he does and maybe they just haven’t shown themselves yet. Ye should look for some protections from them. Up at the Academy migh’ be able to help.” She doesn’t sound sure though.
“It doesn’ matter what type of immortality, it’s bad. ”
“Be that as it may, Mister Vargr, she’s provided some vital information. Of course, I might still question the coincidence of it all,” Varos says, shrugging. “But given I’ve had assassins, a walking fungus and possessed crates to deal with, I’m sure my paranoia is to be expected.”
Anyn rolls her eyes as she sets her pen down. “Didn’t you say you were about to hop into the dumb crate to be done with all this?”
“Aren’t you glad I didn’t?” Varos counters, grinning. “Turns out there’s more to this mess. Not sure what sort of protections can be afforded against such things, Miss McClellan, but I suppose it can’t hurt to try.”
“Why were you going to jump into a box?” Aiden is a bit confused. Then again he’s also confused as to why Anyn was actually going to sell a bunch of psi-stalkers knife-resistant bedroom wear. That probably has applications though it does occur to him to wonder why Anyn and Raksha can MAKE knife resistant bedroom wear.
“The Rift Herald? Found in the Void between things? You don’t want to find it where it lives, trust me. It’ll be too powerful. Better to go for the seer. She spends some of her time at ley line nexuses in Richmond.”
Aiden grunts. Richmond. Great.
“Getting in a crate isn’ likely to solve anythin’, Varos.” Slaine says, rather seriously. “Didn’ ye say that’s how he tried to get ye?” she nods though “Ye never know and maybe Ingerhast has more information on the Baron. She seems to know a lot.”
“The Seers up in Richmond? Well that’s somethin’. Unlikely that the Justicars or the Armsmen will provide aid. If ye wan’ someone to go with ye, I’ll do that…” Maybe it’s time to try her powers out for real.
She avoids Aiden gaze. Maybe he’ll offer but for now, she’s not asking. She’s no right to.
“Remember when the cash register tried to eat you? That thing was with that Host fellow…thing. When I met with it to try to work things out-” Varos ignores the sharp look Raksha gives him then, waving a hand as he continues, “-they wanted me to get into a crate, which was at the time possessed by that thing that haunted the back room and every receptacle in its range. I suppose it would have taken me to Von Nasher.”
That’s when he thought that he might just be able to stab the guy in the face directly. Well, he’d hoped, at least. Now things are certainly more complicated.
“Going after the Seer sounds the more accessible of the two when you put it that way,” he says as he steps towards the Altaran then. His head lifts towards Aiden, cocking a bit in Slaine’s direction as he notes her care in not looking directly towards the other psychic. “So, does that mean we’re up for a field trip at some point?”
“Richmond of ‘still hosts the College of Free Thought’ fame?” Aiden snorts at Varos and looks over to Slaine who is pointedly not looking at him.
“I could… probably be persuaded. But I’m going to want to do some prep work before I go. Richmond is not, as I’m sure you are aware, for the faint of heart or the ill prepared.”
Also the College of Free thought probably hasn’t forgotten him and most certainly will take the opportunity to make life difficult if he’s foolish enough to offer it to them.
The trick is to not be that foolish.
“After I have a chat with a certain feline woman about why there are Altarans about.”
The sharp look that Raksha shoots Varos gets an amused smirk and not for the first time he wonders who, really, is in charge here.
“Oh. Right. I remember. Getting in the crate wouldn’ be such a good idea, Varos.” Slaine murmurs, finally looking towards Aiden as she hears his voice turn to her. “The College isn’t very happy with any of us but it is what it is. I’ll be ready to go when ye are, Varos. Jus’ say the word.”
She’ll go with Aiden, as uncomfortable as it may be, to see Sanka’a – she said she would. Preparation for Slaine is getting her leathers on.
Who’s truly in charge here indeed…
The College of… Varos pauses as he drums his fingers against his arm before it seems he recalls whatever he was trying to work out; hadn’t it been matters concerning the College that had first introduced him to these two? That crooked smile of his tugs at his lips again. My, but how long ago that seemed now.
“Mm, preparations are definitely in order,” he agrees, nodding at Aiden. “It might be better if you two let me know when you’re ready instead. Although I have a delivery due in Dogwood soon, so perhaps I can meet up with you two on the return.”
He turns to face the Altaran. “And what shall we do about you? Perhaps you should go with Mister Vargr to help explain your case? Ah, what should we call you?” There really hadn’t been any introductions for her abrupt entry.
“I… if someone could escort me to some medical care that isn’t the Restorium I would appreciate that.”
Aiden half glares at the women but finally relents. “I know a clinic. Come on. If you’re coming too Half Pint we should go see Sanka’a after.”
He turns, waving to the twins and to Varos. “See you three soon and… good luck with those psi-stalkers.”
The look Varos offers in Aiden’s direction might suggest ‘be nice,’ but then he’s grinning so it’s difficult to say, really. He nods as the man turns to depart, Anyn waving from the counter, Raksha offering a nod to him and Slaine as both Twins continue to watch the odd entourage on their way out.
“Could make you a pair of briefs to match~” Anyn calls after with a wink, with both her sister and Varos shooting her a look. She only looks back at them with a shrug as though to ask ‘what?’ Regardless, they do have quite the week ahead of them.
Usual business hours at Clothier Z are interrupted by an unusual arrival bearing troubling news regarding the infamous Baron Von Nasher.
April 17, 2411
Clothier Z, Vesper