Will you take my hand and make a shadow?

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Started by Zhihao Zhu, May 24, 2018, 01:17 PM



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Zhihao Zhu
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Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 24, 2018, 01:17 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:25 PM by Zozma
So. Here he was. The town center, the place where everybody mingled and met up, where business was created. Where Zhihao was hoping to find a mercenary guild or something of its ilk. He needed help, for one thing. While he wasn't incapable... per se, he was still just one young man. Plus, he'd found out the hard way that trying to work alone was most definitely not working for him. See, Zhihao was a nobly brought up young man and while he did know how to use a weapon--he knew which end was the pointy end and he knew where to stick it, in general--he sort of needed somebody that knew Dalmasca better than he did.

Also, somebody that might help out with his other problem.

He didn't know how to advertise that one, though. Asking random people to help him out with the whole turning into an animal thing was dangerous. The first person he'd boldly and foolishly asked had nearly killed him. If it hadn't been for the poison on the tip of his blade in that particular fight, Zhihao wouldn't be alive to be shuffling uncertainly into the town center right now.

Steeling himself, Zhihao let out an exhalation and he casually made his way over to the nearest back that faced him. Gently, he tapped on the shoulder of that back.

"Excuse me..."
Pallas
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Blood Fighter
23 Posts 21 Years Male 5' 8 Blood Fighter dragonborn is offline
It is neither hardship nor enemy that drive a man to evil; it is his own mind.
May 24, 2018, 05:13 PM
It was probably strange, that he was so attracted to and interested in the Nydeman town center. Half of the general din of voices chattering away, he understood, more than just comprehended the words, they were financial business, or perhaps political, and Tihaan understood it, in a way most blood fighters never really did. The other half, though, was all gossip. Some of that, he understood, too, and some of it was lost on him. Most of it, these days, were murmurs of the movements of House Essair, how House Lancaster would, most likely, fall soon, if their head of house didn't get his shit together, and quick, whispers of wondering how House Asheron were still standing, undefeated, in the arena. Some of the questions, Tihaan had answers to, but he'd long learned to keep his head down, and his commentary to himself.

Nobody cared what a slave thought, anyway, and many of those questions he had answers to, did not deserve answer, whatsoever. It was none of anyone else's business, or, perhaps the answer was rather obvious, if the Dalmascans bothered to think.

He'd chosen a place, out of the way, occasionally reaching up to rub his shirt collar against his skin. He was still getting used to clothing. Most blood fighters hardly wore anything at all, like most slaves around here, but he won the House jackpot, he guessed, and got clothing, made of rather breathable, comfortable fabric that was still somehow uncomfortable and too much, because he was no longer accustomed to the thick, decorated clothing he used to wear in Haradi. Some part of Tihaan, of course, wanted to go home, wanted to see his father and his brother again, run through the palace halls once more, sleep in his own room, his real one. If he told the right people, they could get him home, he was sure, because he was the missing Prince of Haradi, and his father had rewards out for him.

But he would not go home, on the back of his father's name and the promise of riches, when so, so many others, never would see their homes again. It wasn't fair. Little on Azaleon was fair, but Tihaan, he tried to be.

He jumped, slightly, whirled around, instinctively holding one arm up in defensive stance; he wore a set of gauntlets, designed to double as cesti, wild, somewhat long blue hair falling into his face, momentarily obscuring red eyes. Oh. His stance relaxed, a bit. After long enough in the arena, you started jumping at small, privileged looking young men, apparently. "Sorry," he murmured. "Yes?" Seemed lost, maybe. Tihaan had seen most of the major nobility at least once, either while in one house or another, and this one wasn't familiar in the least, so Tihaan just assumed he might be looking for something...? He couldn't think of any other reason this one would bother him. Then again, the vibrant cobalt hair, it was kind of hard to miss; Tihaan supposed if you were going to bother someone, you'd probably pick the first person to stick out a little.
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 24, 2018, 05:58 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:26 PM by Zozma
"Oh!"

His dark eyes widened at the appearance of the stranger's gauntlets and his clearly defensive stance. Those gauntlets looked like weapons in and of themselves and for about two seconds, Zhihao's entire life flittered before his eyes. This was it; this was how he was going to die. By the hands of a stranger in the middle of some Dalmascan town center by a pair of scary looking gauntlets. Why, oh why had he chosen this one to try and speak to?

Instinctively, Zhihao flinched but waited to bear the brunt of the coming blow. The blow didn't come and after a few seconds of his heart beating erratically against his chest, Zhihao opened one eye to find that the blue-haired stranger was apologizing. Ah. Well. Zhihao stood a little straighter, more confident. Well, maybe not so much as more confident but playing at it. Fake it until you make it. He was far too accustomed to doing that.

Pulling on his coat to straighten it, Zhihao smiled at the stranger.

"Ah, well... actually, I was hoping you could point me to a mercenary's guild or somewhere to hire a bodyguard. I'm not that familiar with this..." He gestured with this hand hopelessly.
Pallas
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Blood Fighter
23 Posts 21 Years Male 5' 8 Blood Fighter dragonborn is offline
It is neither hardship nor enemy that drive a man to evil; it is his own mind.
May 24, 2018, 07:20 PM
Tihaan couldn't help the amused snort, which escaped somewhere between the other flinching, and standing up straighter. He'd watched nobles do that, back at Haradi. Rarely were they as confident as they seemed to be, but it was rather amusing, he guessed. He didn't say anything about it. Tihaan was fairly good at pretending, too, a trait he'd picked up when he still had dabblings in the royal court of Haradi. Ah, almost every thought path brought him back to Haradi. He wanted to go home.

"You would perhaps have better luck buying a blood fighter," Tihaan answered, one eyebrow arched upward. "... actually, don't do that, stupid idea, that was a stupid idea." This one didn't look like had any idea what he'd be looking for in one, how to tell which ones were more likely to try killing him than defending him. There were always tells; you just had to know what they were. Tihaan was getting the hang of them, but, he wasn't good enough just yet at it, to be confident in guiding the guy through it.

Livia would be better at it, than he was. Kassandros would, too. "I do know people that'd know better than I would. If you'd like, I can introduce you to them, instead." Shit, even Gannicus would be better at it than he, and if anyone knew where the mercenaries were around Nydema, it'd be Essair, really. It seemed odd to be asking something of-well, no. He was just the escort, not the one actually doing the asking. That'd be this guy's role. He seemed capable of speaking for himself, he could probably deal with it on his own, Tihaan just had to show him the way, that was all.
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 24, 2018, 07:32 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:26 PM by Zozma
Buying a blood fighter? Zhihao tilted his head but his eyes brightened. He knew about blood fighters, although it wasn't something anybody he knew indulged in. A blood fighter... Buy one for a bodyguard? It seemed like such a GREAT idea--that when the other person suddenly turned the suggestion around, Zhihao actually pounced a step forward.

"But wait... why?"

He put up his hand, more questions rushing through his mind but his words were too soft and they melted away. Stupid idea. All right. Okay. He could live with that and all but now the idea was in his head. So who were these other people? And what would they know better? How to find a bodyguard? Zhihao perked up at that. Maybe that was it? He knew people who worked in a guild, maybe? He knew people that had bodyguards, ergo, they knew where to find bodyguards.

"Yes!" He reached out and grasped the man's arm in excitement. Finally! He was getting somewhere! "Please, introduce me to them! Are they here, too? Is there a guild I'm missing?" He paused a beat. "Are you a bodyguard?"

He was armed, after all. And very openly, at that.
Pallas
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Blood Fighter
23 Posts 21 Years Male 5' 8 Blood Fighter dragonborn is offline
It is neither hardship nor enemy that drive a man to evil; it is his own mind.
May 24, 2018, 07:54 PM
Oh, oops.

... well, Tihaan supposed certain kinds of nobility would be pretty interested in the idea of blood fighters. There was, of course, never any question about whether or not they could control one-essentially one didn't control their fighters, so much as their fighters decided to control themselves-but for some, that was the draw. He wondered if this one just hadn't thought about it, or had decided that was part of the fun.

He supposed it didn't matter.

Tihaan jumped again, just slightly; he didn't like people touching him, but, most slaves in Dalmasca didn't. He didn't go into defensive mode again, at least, just looked perhaps a hair uncomfortable, for a moment, and then it was gone. He did shift his arm a bit, fiddling with the armband around his upper arm; made of leather, with the Essair cobra on it in metal, Tihaan hadn't gotten used to it, just yet, and sometimes it itched. "I'm-not really," Tihaan answered. "In a sense but also not, it's complicated, but I am a blood fighter, at least. They're a bit further outside the town center, up there," he explained, jerking his head toward the noble residential district; it was just barely visible beyond the bustling city center, large estates looming in the background on the hillside. The one in front was Cassimer's estate, the largest of the bunch.

"If there are guilds here in this city, they'd know them. Master Essair knows everything." Tihaan was starting to get that impression. "If nothing else, Gannicus can help you pick out an appropriate fighter for the job. Most fighters are fighters for a reason, of course. Not so simple as just going and getting one. That's why it's a bad idea. I don't know what I'm looking for, and I don't imagine you do, either." Those familiar with blood fighters, probably would've just, gone and gotten one.
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 24, 2018, 08:46 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:27 PM by Zozma
He'd done it again--made the other person uncomfortable. Back home, it was also frowned upon to simply touch people, strangers or not. But Zhihao had been raised by a warm-hearted wet-nurse, the kind who were too affectionate, really, for their own good. It made Zhihao the same; he was a cuddly baby and a touchy-feely kid. Which had grown him into a man that inappropriately touched strangers when they clearly had boundaries. Quickly, he snatched his hand away and placed it behind his back.

"I'm sorry."

Zhihao's gaze roved over the armband on the man's arm, curiosity lighting his eyes. That insignia... very familiar. He must have seen it around before but his unfamiliarity with the populace here were really coming back to bite him in the ass. All he wanted to do was appear worldly and clever and able to work by himself... but at the same time, he knew that he couldn't. He needed somebody he could count on. Oh, how he wished he'd been able to bring along somebody from back home but in truth, Zhihao felt distant from all of them--except perhaps his sisters.

They had more sense than Zhihao did. They would never agree to this. (Would they...? Perhaps he should have asked. But then he might have been held back, his perfect opportunity stolen from him.)

"Hold, a moment." Zhihao lifted a hand but he didn't touch the other person this time. "If you're a blood fighter yourself... could I not..." He trailed off even as he said it to his face, "...buy you?"
Pallas
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Blood Fighter
23 Posts 21 Years Male 5' 8 Blood Fighter dragonborn is offline
It is neither hardship nor enemy that drive a man to evil; it is his own mind.
May 24, 2018, 08:58 PM
Tihaan shrugged, lightly. He was used to it. Dalmascans never asked anything, they just did whatever they wanted. Lady Asheron had been rather the trip. Master Essair was even worse. See, Lady Asheron was female, and certainly more accustomed to being undermined and having to earn what she had than a male Dalmascan would be. It was a fact of Dalmascan society. Jihon was even worse, if he recalled. She made sense, albeit only just. Master Essair? Not only was he male, the firstborn, eldest son of a powerful house, but he was also young, so very young, for all that he seemed so ancient, at the same time. And he did not once touch anyone without asking. Not even his brothers, from what Tihaan could tell.

Someone had hurt him. Someone had really hurt him, that was all Tihaan could figure.

... technically, he supposed. Tihaan arched his eyebrow, again, half bemused, half perhaps a bit incredulous. "Theoretically," he answered. "But you'd still have to talk to Master Essair about that." And where Tihaan went, Gannicus was determined to follow. Gannicus was not cheap, and Kassandros had done a lot of work, from the house rumors, to reunite him with his family. He wouldn't separate them so easily. It wasn't as if Tihaan minded being separated from them, albeit there was... Kassandros was difficult to put to words. He never demanded it, but somehow he inspired loyalty, or at least a desire to help him. He'd reunited not one family, but three, now. Tihaan had already decided, that was enough to want to help him.

Already talking about that. The guy didn't even know his name, yet. Well, some things didn't change. Asheron and Essair had just momentarily let him forget it, was all. "The Essair estate isn't far," he mentioned, turning to head that way, waiting to see if the guy was going to follow, before he actually went.
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 24, 2018, 09:16 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:27 PM by Zozma
"Oh." He forgot. If one were to buy a blood fighter, they would have to buy that fighter from somebody else. Like this Master Essair that he was talking about. Feeling a flush rise to his cheeks, he lowered his head and then turned his gaze away. "Oh, right. Of course."

I knew that. Except that I didn't.

Slaves were a thing in Jihon. They were just a matter of course. It was this blood fighter business that had him a little tangled up. Those, too, were present in Jihon but Zhihao never bought one himself. His family tended towards a different type of fighter and those were the kind that weren't easily spotted by armbands and gauntlets. Truthfully, slaves just appeared at home. Zhihao had never gone with his family to purchase one; they were just given to him.

Bodyguards, however... They needed to be vetted so he could understand this man's incredulity. Zhihao bit his lower lip for a few seconds. I'm being an idiot. He's still a slave--of a kind--he said so himself. I should be treating him like one.

And then it dawned on him. The insignia. Essair.

"Essair?" He blinked. And he'd tried to nonchalantly buy this guy off the street! He had to really fight the urge to bow his head and apologize again. He followed the other man with both excitement and trepidation, part of him half afraid he'd just gotten himself into trouble.

"Do they just sell their blood fighters away to random nobles on the street?" Of course not. But they had to know a good market. He shook his head. "Never mind. That was a dumb question. But they'll really know a good bodyguard? I need somebody loyal. I'm willing to pay for that. For loyalty."
Pallas
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Blood Fighter
23 Posts 21 Years Male 5' 8 Blood Fighter dragonborn is offline
It is neither hardship nor enemy that drive a man to evil; it is his own mind.
May 24, 2018, 09:29 PM
Tihaan drew his eyebrows together, for a moment, watching the guy scramble after him. Seemed the weight of the name finally hit. That was the point, of the armbands. They weren't to signal to everyone else that they were slaves. They were to signal that these were Essair's, and it was enough to scare most trouble off. Leon, one of the ilim the house, mentioned he'd never gotten randomly propositioned on the street again, after Kassandros had made his armband. And over half the street security wore the same insignia, signalling to them that these were Kassandros', and to be assisted if they had need of it. Kassandros marked them to protect them, not to claim them.

But most others wouldn't understand. Tihaan didn't expect them to. Even he didn't truly fathom Master Essair.

Red eyes narrowed, somewhat, but he tried to make it look thoughtful, before just turning away to face the noble houses. He knew where he was going, and they should be fine, with his Essair cobra shimmering like that in the light. "Loyalty that is bought, young master, is not loyalty, for that which is bought can be sold again. True loyalty is earned. Some fighters will not give you the opportunity to earn it. It's telling the difference that's the important part. That's all. Master Essair has a large personal guard himself. He'll know the difference." But he always knew, really. It was more of a toss-up whether he'd be willing to help or not. From what Tihaan heard, he almost didn't help the Tachibanas, and did only because Thetis' life hung in the balance.

But then, Master Essair didn't tend to like the stereotypical Jihonese. As an ex-ujal, Haku was rather the stereotypical Jihonese man. He was getting better. He hadn't commented on Livia having boobs again.
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 25, 2018, 01:34 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:28 PM by Zozma
Wow. Essair. Honestly, Zhihao was currently rethinking his options. Why was he still following this guy?! Could he even afford any price given by an Essair? And why would an Essair let go of any of their slaves when they had such a fine number of them? And for good reasons? There were such a variety of uses for them... Zhihao hated to think what the Essairs would think if they knew he was from Zhu. They weren't exactly known for being kind on their slaves. Zhihao side-eyed the man he walked aside.

He didn't act like much of a slave. It was so strange to think that he even was one. Zhihao had actually expected him to know where to find a bodyguard. He didn't look like a noble the way he was dressed, per se, but he definitely looked... not like a slave. Zhihaou's mind ran a thousand words a minute, trying to catch up to what was happening around him.

Loyalty...

Deep down, Zhihao felt that what the Essair slave said was true. Bought loyalty was easy to turn on a person. Shouldn't he know that by now? Zhihao suspected that what drove him from Jihon was an assassination attempt, although he didn't like ruminating on the possibility that somebody amongst their house wanted him dead so badly.

"...you're right," he conceded after a moment of silence. His father would have given him that sour lemon face for saying that a slave was right... in front of the slave's face, no less. But it didn't matter. His father wasn't even here now, although it was certain that if he didn't believe Zhihao was dead, he had people looking for him. Which did he want? Even Zhihao didn't know at the moment.

What he did know was that he could use a loyal friend and this man was right... he couldn't just buy that.

"I'm..." He hesitated, not wanting to use his true name. "Zeze." Oh, it was such a foolish sounding name but... maybe the slave didn't know that.
Pallas
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Blood Fighter
23 Posts 21 Years Male 5' 8 Blood Fighter dragonborn is offline
It is neither hardship nor enemy that drive a man to evil; it is his own mind.
May 25, 2018, 02:33 PM Last Edit: May 25, 2018, 02:36 PM by dragonborn
Probably, the other hadn't thought about it. In some way, Tihaan sort of felt bad, for shattering what naiveties were apparently left. Few had those, anymore, where he came from. Every damn one of House Essair's slaves, and those they sheltered, had been broken and ruined by Dalmasca in some manner or another. Maybe that was why. Why Kassandros never seemed to have any trouble getting them to fall in line behind him. They chose to, of their own will, because he gave them choices, and stopped the cycle of Dalmasca's hurt, even for just the time he had them, it was... a kind enough gesture. He meant well.

But someday he'd die, like all men do.

Unless you were Gannicus, Tihaan supposed. Gannicus had guessed, once, how old he might be, how long he'd been in chains in Dalmasca. Three thousand, roughly, and three hundred or so of that as a slave. That was just fucking sad, is what that was.

"It is difficult to remember, sometimes," Tihaan mentioned, gently. When you were used to the world bending to you because you had money, you overestimated money's value, and forgot, or perhaps never learned, that the most valuable things in the world weren't something you could just buy. Because everything was for sale, wasn't it? But in the slave nations, there were few things slaves had. Their integrity was one; it was the very last inch of them, and in that inch, they were free. Expecting someone to sell that... hah.

Zeze? Well, he had a name now. "Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Master Zeze." He almost offered his name, but the other hadn't asked for it. You didn't offer what wasn't asked for. "This is House Cassimer, by the way," he mentioned, jerking his head at the large estate as they passed by. Several stories tall, impeccable lawn, beige stone walls higher than Tihaan stood, probably taller than Sandalio, too. Not that this Zeze had met Sandalio, just yet.

"Over there is House Lancaster," he went on, gesturing at the large grounds, multiple buildings on the land, farthest in the back. It sat on a cliff. "Asheron is here," another gesture, this time to the estate just beyond Cassimer. They were passing by it, now, also holding multiple buildings, a high stone wall, and a gate that was perpetually open. Visibly, varying people wandered across the grounds, all of them armed and in most cases, armored. It sat on several acres of land. "Greyson has not moved up here. We're after that one," which sat between Lancaster and Asheron. House Essair had a fair amount of land to it, but not as much as the rest, the estate itself the smallest of them, vines climbing up the walls. It had a homey charm to it. Tihaan liked it.

Why Cassimer was in front, who knew. He supposed it had started with Asheron closest to the city center, but then Cassimer split off from them. There were smaller estates, some still larger than Essair, others not, scattered around here and there, the minor vassal houses that served under the majors, most of them behind the house they served, a few empty fields between one house and another. House Kenleigh, which used to stand across from Cassimer and Asheron, was now charred rubble. No one had worked up the nerve to buy the land, yet.

"You're new to Dalmasca, then?" It seemed so. If he wasn't familiar with this, vague gesture here, it made the most sense.
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 25, 2018, 03:55 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:28 PM by Zozma
Yes, it was difficult to remember sometimes and it was a hard truth that Zhihao loathed to hear. Loyalty--true loyalty... What he wouldn't give for it. He said he was willing to pay for it but maybe it couldn't be bought with all the money in the world. His father commanded such loyalty that it was easy to forget when Zhihao left his side that there would be doubtless and countless dogs waiting to tear out his throat.

He wished he could trust again. Everything in him said that he wanted to trust this man here, slave or not. He couldn't give into such foolish notions--in this case, his instincts were likely steering him wrong. To trust just anyone... Oh, he was such a fool. Taking in a deep breath through his nose, Zhihao nodded and followed, his gaze roving from the slave to the buildings they passed and back again. Master Zeze, he said. Zhihao almost snorted a laugh at the name; if not from such a serious face, he would have thought it was a jaunty tease.

Why didn't he give his name in return, he wondered in curiosity. While he had given his name to receive a name, no name was given in return. Zhihao nodded at each introduction of each house, still wondering if the slave's name would slip. Still nothing? His gaze snapped from the shocking view of rubble back to the slave.

"Yes," he said, before he thought over his words with more care. But... well, it was obvious he was new or the slave wouldn't have asked. Hazarding his next question, he asked, "Where do you think I'm from?"
Pallas
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Blood Fighter
23 Posts 21 Years Male 5' 8 Blood Fighter dragonborn is offline
It is neither hardship nor enemy that drive a man to evil; it is his own mind.
May 25, 2018, 04:23 PM
Interesting question. Tihaan gave a short shrug. "You're not a commoner, at least. You've the manner of nobility, rather privileged nobility, at that. Rules out the Free Cities, despite two of them having nobility." If he was Haradian, Tihaan would know him, and Saqqara's nobility were not above their commoners, not to the extent that'd cause this level of naivety. "Macenia does not have nobility, rules that out. Galace does, but the concept of slavery is apparently not revolting to you, as it would be to a Galacese noble. Must be Jihonese." That was the only one that made sense.

Tihaan raised a hand, waving at one of the guards in House Asheron; his blue hair stuck out, and some recognized him. "Master Essair will be one of two things: either your greatest ally, or your most horrible enemy. It is up to you which he becomes. Don't hurt anyone, or purposely put anyone in danger because of your choices, and you'll be fine." At least, as far as Tihaan could tell, that was about how that went.

"Oh," he went on, "and don't lie to him. It doesn't work, and it makes him distrust you. You don't want him distrusting you. It won't end well. He is one of the kindest men I know, one of the most compassionate. I am honored to be of use to him. But don't mistake his kindness for weakness." That, of course, wouldn't end well, either. "He's the blond one. The darker-haired ones that look like him are his twin brothers." Icarus was slightly taller than them, too, but he'd figure that out, or he wouldn't, it wasn't noticeable unless they were standing in a row, anyway.

Gannicus, as usual when Tihaan went somewhere, was standing at the gate, this time. Tihaan gave him a nod. "Where've you been?"
"Just at market," Tihaan answered. "This one wants a guard. I figured Master Essair would have a better idea of how to find one that's not liable to take his money and then slit his throat."
The taller fighter snorted. "Probably. He's upstairs."
Well, Master Essair was always upstairs. "Where's the annoying one?"
"In the bath," Gannicus answered.
Good. "Right this way, then," Tihaan said, shuffling for the door as Gannicus opened the gate. "How many assassins today, anyway?"
"Just one," Gannicus replied. "He's hanging from a wall post in the back. Slipped and broke his own neck."
Tihaan snorted. "They're getting better, I see."

Strangely, though, Gannicus followed their guest, leaving his post at the gate. Quiet, he murmured, "fox," as he trailed behind. "Aventus, watch the gate," he barked, louder.
"Yessir!" came an answer, and a moment later, someone new took over his post.
"Kid'll go places," Gannicus said, snorting. "Maybe not good places, but places."
"Ah, you're Gannicus," Tihaan answered. Everyone knew that name, even the Jihonese. "Of course they jump when you say to."
Zhihao Zhu
No title
Ujalin
35 Posts 24 Years Male 5'9 Ujalin Zozma is offline
I am on the edge of clarity
It's the same fight everyday
Chasing demons and ghosts away
May 25, 2018, 04:38 PM Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 10:28 PM by Zozma
Right, not a commoner. That probably went without saying, since Zhihao was running around talking about paying for the services of a bodyguard without regard to money. His clothes probably helped, too. And his mannerisms. And... and... probably everything about him. Inwardly, he cursed his apparent inability to disguise himself properly.

Ah... Zhihao paled slightly. It was as if the slave could read his mind. Maybe he could? Zhihao scrutinized him, trying to decide if he could but there was not much in the way of divining that from simply looking at him. But it was as if he knew that Zeze was but a silly nickname and... and he seemed to suss out why Zhihao asked the question of where he appeared to be from. Maybe he knew Zhihao was going to use his observation to cover up for the fact that he was from Jihon. If so, he threw it back into Zhihao's face. He knew. He knew.

"...I am."

He might as well admit that much. He was from Jihon. And a noble. Everything felt slippery now. Did the master of Essair read minds? He'll know if I'm lying. He must. This was a warning, if he wanted to keep his head, was it not? Zhihao swallowed hard. Then they were there and somebody else was there, too--and there was talking and Zhihao kept his mouth shut, deciding to simply take it in and observe. He smiled slightly and bowed his head briefly in greeting when he was mentioned. That was it, though. It was strange, simply being mentioned and then bypassed almost as if he wasn't standing there at all. Zhihao was more accustomed to attention but at the moment, this was working in his favor so he wasn't about to complain.

The mention of assassins... That got him sharply back to attention. Not that he was here to assassinate anybody. He darted his gaze around the area, suddenly feeling ill at ease as the gate closed behind them. He might have been better off finding a guild on his own. Might have. Might not have, though.

And then... and then he swore he heard the word fox slip from the gatekeeper's mouth. Zhihao froze momentarily, heart in his throat. The urge to run was powerful but he kept a level head and pretended somehow that he hadn't heard anything. Instead, he smiled benevolently and looked away as he walked between the two, aware that he was in a position to be trapped and not liking it.

Gannicus? It took everything in Zhihao not to spin around and stare. Instead, he kept his gaze steady onward, only stumbling a single step. What did I get myself into now?
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