Fight:The Butcher and the Merchant - all that is guild does not glimmer
With his typical blunt approach Valentin sought the man out.
No stakes, unjudged duel: Muraski's entrance exam to the assassin's guild.
Post limit: 12m, Muraski to have first attack and final defense
Setting: Muraski's Seaside Pawn Shop
Solid granite meets the eyes as one looks upon the LeskoVac Pawn Shop. The massive two story building seems to have cost a fortune and to a lesser merchant, the expense might seem all the more unreasonable. The shop owner could on occasion be seen from the second floor balcony looking down upon all the others from Cenril that flocked to his store to purchase goods. Though the pompous bastard might be standing above, visitors may well be paying more attention to the minotaur guarding the stout sliding door. Large eyes carefully examine customers in search of any weaponry, the minotaur eager for a reason to do the job he was hired for. Assuming the inspection is passed, the door is opened long enough for the visitors to enter the shop itself.
Entrance into the building seems to change little as the first thing to greet the customers is yet another minotaur standing guard. Once past the two large men, visitors eyes would take a few moments to adjust. The orangish glowing room seemed to have but two sources of lighting, sparse torches along the walls and a fireplace in the back. When eyes finally adjust to the faintly lit room, the massive wares of the store owner are finally able to be seen. Books and tomes seem set upon large wooden shelves which are placed throughout the room. Jewelry seems to be set in displays nearest the employees. Weapons line the walls, though they're out of the reach of most humans hands. Armor and clothing sits upon stands yet is seemingly kept there by clamps that make them hard to remove without obscene strength. As with outside, the inside looks none the friendlier, the cashier being that of a troll, a man of impressive height and regardless how much one might barter with him, his fist always came down upon the price set on the tag. Little else was left to explore inside the walls of LeskoVac's shop, leaving buyers with their wares or without, and soon they would depart, once more under the scornful look of the large guards.
Muraski sat up upon the patio, his usual spot this time of night, staring out over Cenril once again. Longing gaze upon the city, it just seemed so dreary compared to the days of old. Fingers tapped upon the side of the granite building in a rather bored, rhythmic pattern, over and over again, one, two, three, the fingers to alternate which came down upon the stone.
Valentin had not really bothered with the subtle approach. Stealth was for folks who weren't Valentin. The burly butcher tromped up to the entrance, and scratched a shaggy muttonchop. It was a blimmin' nuisance, all in all, but business was business. Mouse had told him to test the Merchant, so test him he would. Still, rumours had it the man had survived facing Kuzial, so maybe Muraski had what it took to be in the organisation. Certainly, as the man was now a pair o'fangs, Valentin wouldn't necessarily have to hold back any, which was a blessing. Shrugging, Valentin ignored the fact that Muraski was at the balcony, and took a few steps to the door. The butcher then banged loudly on the front door of LeskoVac's pawn shop.
Muraski found himself distracted from the sight of Cenril as the butcher approached, an odd nod sent Valentin's way. Unfortunately, Valentin wasn't much for paying attention and rather then hopping off the second story Muraski decided to walk all the way around. Through the second story lobby, down the stairs, and out to the main door which was finally opened. "Hey Valentin, been a while, here to drop off the morning food?" Muraski himself hadn't heard about the test as of yet, just knew he would be contacted if he fit into their group.\
Valentin touches the brim of his hat in polite greeting "Guv. Aye, it's y'weekly delivery: seven pounds o'sausage, six steaks, an' today's bacon. It's all in the meatcart" The butcher jerked a thumb towards something little more than a wagon with a large metallic box instead of the normal open-topped wooden tray, the sides engraved with 'Valentin's Butcher Shop and Charcuterie'. Valentin then mentions, as if an afterthought "Oh, an' Mouse sent me. How's about we offload th'week's produce afore we get down t'business of th'more strenuous kind."
Valentin gave 6 rare steak to Muraski.
Muraski grinned momentarily as the man mentioned the weekly delivery of food had arrived. Just as he was about to motion to the minotaurs however, he paused, a momentary look to be sent back at the butcher, "Ahh, here on another sort of business then." He gave a small huff of distaste but nothing more mentioned. The guards were beckoned, their job a rather simple one in which they moved towards the cart, Mura to join them in the lifting. Once Valentin had pointed out which meats were to be carried in, the packages were all carried inside, set into the icey chest and then Mura returned back outside. "Alright, Valentin, anywhere in particular we're supposed to do this?"
Valentin scratches the stubble on his jaw "Well, guv, if precedent holds, I'm meant t'bail you up in y'shop an' be an absolute inconvenient prat." A whispering sussuration starts to build up in the air around them as Valentin quietly calls upon his talent for the hidden whispers, a psionic manifestation of sound. "But, frankly, I reckon that's bad business, an' poor form an' all." As the whispers start to build up, Valentin shrugs "Lucky for you, guv, I ain't no blimmin' ill-mannered revenant with a silver spoon shoved up his Xalious Pass what gives no thought for impactin' 'pon a man's day-to-day business. So I'll see you at the arena, innit. Oh, an' from me own experience with the revenant, I'd recommend you try t'do me real harm. It seems t'be the way this lot want to do business." With a sudden crescendo of writhing sibillants wafting through the air, the cantatus of shadow-shifting is completed, and Valentin becomes a shadow of his former self - one which tips its shadowy bowler, elongates across the ground, and in moments vanishes into the distance.
Setting: Grand Cenrili Arena
This grand Arena appears to be the focal point of the recent restoration work. Marble Columns and arches awe and amaze your eyes as you enter through one of the two large archways, metallic gates are swung open on either side permitting entry. Your eyes fall on some of the ancient stone seats that have been lined with material in specially sealed off areas for the well off. The Arena appears to be better off than it was a month or so ago, the god of light that had descended and announced his protection from those that may spread chaos reassuring the people of Cenril so that they may return to the fights, one their favorite pastimes.
Muraski followed the butchers shadowy self all the way to the arena, a rather smug look on his face from the thought of the revenant, his assumption being Kasyr, bursting into the butchery. When finally they reached the arena, Muraski spoke once more, "So, you're telling me that you had a revenant come bursting through your door and beat you up in your shop for your test? Got to say, i'm pleased to have you for my test rather then something like that." As the talking commended he proceed towards the center of the arena. "Alright then, Valentin, you think out fight should commense already?"
Valentin was a creature of habit in some regards - especially when those habits were beneficial to one's ends. And so as he left, the butcher summoned a seperate shadow, and took a personal detour to find himself some fresh meat, leaving Muraski following a different shadow for a time. To Valentin's annoyance, it seemed his predations on one particular slum area had resulted in a decrease in the number of squatters - and those still there had made a habit of hiding themselves. The upshot of all of this was that Valentin took longer to find himself some poor wretch to use as a mana supply. The faint echo of Muraski's words to his second shadow reach Valentin as he tromps into the Arena entrance, and moments later Muraski will find the shadow he followed disappears, leaving him in the centre of the Arena where there is the hint of a wide circular scorchmark from Valentin's own battle with Kasyr. Standing near the entrance with an unconscious man in his left hand, and his cleaver in his right, Valentin speaks "Actually guv, I led the revenant here. You're standin' right where I taught th'banker not to underestimate th'workin' class, innit." Unlike last time, the delay in finding fresh meat meant Valentin wouldn't have a ritual circle already prepared, but at the same time, he wasn't facing Kasyr. "I recommend, guv, that now's the time y'start tryin' t'kill me, so's I can see if y'got what it takes to murder a man for nothin' more than a bag o' coin." As if to encourage Muraski to do just that, shadows start to dance on the ground around Valentin as the butcher rests his cleaver on his shoulder. "Hop to it, guv. I ain't got all day."
The Butcher and the Merchant: a dangerous business transaction
Muraski turned about much to his surprise to spot Valentin behind him, his chipper mood soon to fade as he listened to the words the man had to speak. His sabre was drawn, left hand without weapon gripped. He charged at Valentin, no hesitation or waiting except to allow the man to finish the spoken words. The vambrace upon said Mura's left limb pointed upwards, the grappling hook fired and latched onto the top of the flag of Cenril, spinning around it several times before the hook latched onto the pole. With a sudden surge, the merchant pressed down upon earth and forced his body through the air. A tarzan like swing aimed directly at Valentin, feet out in front of him, aimed to plant themselves upon the center of the butchers ribcage. Whether or not that attack went through, the contraption was to close, the wire severed from the vambrace, and Muraski to fly forward. When near landing, the sword was thrust downwards in an impaling notion, all hopes to be placed in the thought that Valentin might be underneath the blade when it forced it's way into the earth.
Valentin had started chanting the moment he had stopped speaking to Muraski. The shadows dancing around him lengthen and writhe as Muraski starts moving, forming in chiaroscuro'd relief upon the ground the ritual circle Valentin, a Scleratus of the Necromancer's Guild, held firmly in his mind's eye. It was draining work, but the benefits of this early drain on his mana reserves would be paid fivefold. The cadence of his chanting leaps in timbre and pitch, clashing and crackling from his larynx and racing into the air as Valentin binds the pyrumbral tides to his shadow, causing the shadowy circle to infuse with intense heat, burning its form into the arena floor around Valentin as Muraski fires his grappling hook. The butcher is then swift to bring a light slash across the wrists of the homeless man with his cleaver, the spattering of blood scattering across the circle as the runic pattern takes on a dark glow of reddish brown. As the circle activates, a flare of crimson appears around the homeless man's wrists, and the variant of Vandon LeRouge's ritual circle for his Crimson Shackles takes effect, starting to feed the man's life energy into the ritual circle, converting it arcanely into mana. As Muraski completes his final swing and hooks the grapple around the flagpole, leaping to gain the momentum needed to fly at the butcher feetfirst, Valentin slices open the palm of his left hand then, splashes a few drops into the circle, and the ritual is completed - the butcher becoming the conduit for the mana drained from the dying man. As Muraski's feet connect, Valentin is knocked completely over, his bowler hat flying from his crimson mop of shaggy hair. The butcher grates out a sequence of dissonent syllables as Muraski brings his sword down, shifting so that the sword plunges into the same left shoulder Kasyr had wounded the week before. As the blade penetrates and lodges in his undead flesh, Valentin bellows out the final canta, and the black blood released by Muraski's blade are bound By Valentin with the cryumbral tides, and wrap around the sword like twin snakes, whipping around to entangle the weapon even as two icy spears of frozen blood strike from either side of the sword's hilt to target Muraski's swordarm and face. Without waiting to see if they strike true, Valentin shifts into a new chant.
Muraski was suddenly pained as magical energy coursed through his arm, his hand to release it's hold upon hilt and body to roll just in time to avoid the second strike from the energy. With his arm bitten into by the icy blood a sigh of reluctance could be heard, he hated using his left. The miniature repeater was drawn from it's holster upon his hip and fired, two shots hastily aimed at Valentin's frame from where Merchant lay. With perhaps time to spare from the distraction, his body coiled up quickly and sprung backwards to place the thief upon his feet. The coming attacks were made to keep Valentin upon the ground and at a disadvantage. LeskoVac's leg swung towards Butcher's neck in an arc which if landed and forced advesary to ground, would find a fancy shoe to press into throat. His crossbow aimed towards Valentin's head this time, hopefully with foe stuck by Mura's, and fired once more in an execution style manner, one aimed directly at the forehead.
Valentin realised swiftly that the close range was problematic for particular spells, and the new chant set the runes and sigils scarred into his arms pulsing with umbral tides beneath the coarse material of his shirt sleeves as Muraski rolled away to avoid one of the spears of icy blood. With a sabre lodged in his shoulder, Valentin didn't feel particularly comfortable despite being undead, and he grinds out the canta of shadowbinding between clenched teeth. Shadows wreathe around the butcher, swiftly bound into physical form through the cryumbral tides. As the repeating crossbow is drawn, Valentin brings his cleaver flatbladed across to cover his face, neck, and heart even as he chants. As one bolt glances from his cleaver to lodge in his chest, and one lodges in his ribcage, Valentin roars out his canta in enraged pain, and seven shadowice tentacles form around the butcher as the homeless man gurgles, nearly drained of his life by Valentin's sorceries. As Muraski kips up to his feet, Valentin keeps his cleaver covering head and neck, and the butcher focuses, his chant shifting cadence to a smooth sussuration of necromantic syllables: one tentacle draws the sabre out of Valentin's shoulder, three whip around to intercept Muraski's kick and preserve Valentin's balance, and the final three tentacles - flattened into icy blades - slash out to target Muraski's groin, crossbow, and neck with brutal intent. Without stopping to see the efficacy of this assault, Valentin once again shifts into a different canta.
Muraski watched as three blades had plotted courses towards him, a trek in which he didn't particularly enjoy the out come of. Sacrificing the footing he had made, the merchant drops from his feet, the blade aimed for crossbow and head to miss, yet the one aimed for groin to impale between ribs and through the right side of his chest. An exceedingly pained look came over Leskovac as he fired the remaining grappling hook, the utility aimed a nearby wall. As the hook met it's mark upon the left side of him, a large tug was made and Muraski was wrenched free from the tentacle. A clean slice was left behind upon his right side, inbetween two of the ribs. With limp in step, the thief set upon a more tactical course of attack. His crossbow was dropped and kicked off to the side for later retrieval. The left to withdraw several vials of blood that were commonly used to drink from and smashed them around the room. Hoping that the fluid might distract his foe, LeskoVac once more withdraw a trick common to those of shadowy background as a cloud of smoke arose around him from the final container that was smashed. With surprise upon his side once more, Merchant moved around in the grayish fog, the parrying dagger withdrawn and slowly he crept up behind his foe. One quick downward thrust from Mura's left was made, the dagger to hopefully bury itself into the butchers spine and sever him from any future movements he wished to make.
Valentin did not follow Muraski as he escaped by grapple to the outer edge of the Arena, instead continuing his own chant. When the Merchant caused smoke to pour out around the grounds, the butcher's chant shifts cadence a moment and a shadowy outline of eyes form on the back of Valentin's bowler hat and then fade. As Valentin focuses carefully, shadows condense in and around the butcher, seeping over him until he resembles nothing more than an upright creature of shadow himself. Valentin waits then, maintaining the spell in readiness as Muraski sneaks through the smoke unaware of Valentin's shadowy eyes marking his final approach. The moment Muraski appears and swings that dagger down, Valentin dives to the side, barking out the final canta of the spell as Muraski's blade grazes his flesh in passing. Valentin's dive causes him to leave the circle, and the homeless man expires as Valentin's spell drains the last of his essence, fuelling an eruption of the pyrumbral tides within the ritual circle Muraski had stepped into to strike at Valentin. Black flames would erupt around Muraski's position, with the potential to cause an unpleasant amount of searing damage. Valentin comments "Lesson's over, guv. Hope you survive this one."
Muraski hated this one attack above all other attacks, as it happened to be a fan favorite to use against him. First Zondo, now Valentin, and it wasn't something he was particularly good at escaping. As the fire began it's eruption, Muraski's body reacted the only way one might. He dropped to the ground, clothes pull tight to his frame and rolled for the closest spot that might have readily spelt freedom. His nose was the key, for the blood that hadn't been fried in the eruption was clearly smelt and he tumbled through the magic towards the fluids. Upon exiting the pillar of flames, the man's clothes and armor were significantly worse for ware, no longer even able to pass as actual garb. His body seemingly burnt upon several pieces across his torso, some along his face, others on his leg. The attack left him to be none the better then the clothes, in shambles, something that would be unable to walk back to it's household and rather limp or perhaps roll, there instead.
Valentin releases his shadowbindings before they started draining too much into his own reserves of mana, and starts pulling out the bolts lodged into him with a grimace. "Got some new tricks I see, guv. Can y'stand?"
Muraski crawled, or drug himself, by the left arm to the wall. Once there, he pulled himself to a standing posistion and gave a nod towards the butcher. Obviously upon wobbly legs, the arrogant man refused to admit defeat entirely. "Yes, I can walk." He leaned his entire body against the wall, slow steps to be made, one at a time, as he headed for the exit.. It would take time to reocver from this.
Valentin nods "Good. Guess I'll tell Mouse y'pass the grade. I'll see y'tomorrow with th'daily delivery of bacon for y'guards, innit." The butcher then chants again, the sibillant verses of the cantatus of shadowshifting filling the air. Sinking into a pool of shadow, Valentin departs the Arena, leaving Muraski to enjoy the ashen taste of success. A fitting metaphor for the line of work he'd just joined.