RP:Uncertain Alliances

From HollowWiki

Part of the Questionable Honor Arc

Quick OOC Note

I'm trying to do my own spin on the gangs in Cenril. Most of the rp is happening in small parts of larger rps, little mentions and hints here and there. I'm trying to keep it uh. . .out of the way of the greater Cenril rp, because I don't want to step on any toes or mess with anyone else's rp. I'm just getting started on larger rps dealing with the gangs and dragging other characters into it.

If I do step on any toes or otherwise do something wrong, please let me know. I am only human.  :)


After infiltrating Thonmet's gang for a purpose important to Thistle, she found herself hung out to dry for bait. In retaliation she used Thonmet's name where she shouldn't have, maybe let slip a part of his deal. The result was that he put a hit out on her, and in the scramble to keep her head where it was Thistle found need to make herself useful to another powerful man, and maybe gain other allies in the process. . .

All Jerica wanted was a bath. Maybe though, maybe she'd get a whole lot more.


The baths were public. That'd never changed. There was no sign out front that said otherwise, no open guard set to watch or keep anyone out, no change in ownership or workers. And yet, despite the very open manner in which the baths' business was conducted, there was only one kind of clientele currently lounging in the pool, in the tubs: the tattooed, rough, bad sort. There were no visible weapons, but then there didn't need to be. They presented themselves as the weapons, stretched out, relaxed, eyes as sharp as eagles' keeping a cool watch on the surroundings, on the door, on the person whose presence necessitated theirs. On the person who crouched at the edge of the pool, stripped down to binder and tied loincloth, sweat sliding down her skin as she listened and spoke grimly to their present duty. She was as rough as they were, skinny like a boy and as wily. She was entirely unarmed; there wasn't much that could be hidden under that version of underwear; propriety demanding she not strip any further even if she put a towel on over it. She was a skinny runt compared to the man at the head of the pool, his arms as big around as her thighs, and he'd placed them over the rear lip -- the definition of relaxed. The lion, master of his pride. "I was told," Thistle was saying, damp hair clinging to the hard planes of her face, "that it was permitted for several of the Rats to go hunting on Vitus' territory."

Jerica needed a bath, that was all. Just a bath to wash the night's work from her skin. Grimy and dirty the assassin wandered into the changing room to strip down and shake her brown hair out from under the cap she had pushed it under. Voices caught her attention and she half turned her head to listen; cocking her head to catch the words out of habit. Blunt-nailed fingers went to the buttons of her slightly ratty and over sized shirt to free the buttons revealing the bindings beneath that squashed her chest flat. A bit of twine had been used to belt her pants around her waist so they wouldn't fall down. They too were crusted with dirt and torn. More dirt smudged Jerica's face and other exposed skin. She was almost holding her breath so her own breathing wouldn't interfere with the eavesdropping.

They were all listening to that one conversation, even the ones who were pretending to have other conversations. Besides their words, the water was the loudest thing in the room, rippling and dripping with movement and underwater currents. Thistle didn't even shift her position, too wary to draw more attention to the decidedly vulnerable parts of her body than was necessary. Her weight rested on the balls of her feet, arms slouched over her thighs like she was just as big a dog. It was almost funny, given their not insignificant size difference. Little dog with a complex. "You think they'd dare lie about that?" The man asked, sounded all shades of amused. "Nils," Thistle said, her voice rising just a hair in protest. He wasn't looking at her. His cronies were. She continued, voice milder but no less determined. "I gotta make a living, same as you. If the rules are changing, I gotta know. Thonmet's pissed, right? Well, he crossed me and I'm not gonna sit there bit and bleeding." Movement at the edge of her vision, and she turned her eyes towards it. One of the men in the tubs had turned so his arms were folded over the edge, chin on his forearms. He was watching her with a slow, easy grin. Care. Ever so careful. "I'm not anyone's pawn," she said, simple and true. Nils lolled his head back, sighing, eyes closed. "Thonmet's putting the word out that you're a bad partner," he said.

Jerica wrapped a towel around her body and slung another over her shoulder and with her head held high, walked into the baths. She was much less covered beneath the towel than Thistle was crouched there. That was the first thing that Jerica noticed when she walked into the steam cloudy room. Sweat already dripped through the dirt smeared on her face as a disguise clearing paths through it to give her a slightly striped appearance. Pretending she didn't feel the rise in tensions Jerica kept the wall looking for an empty place in the bathing pools to slip in. From the corner of her eye Jerica took note of how many where there and where they were. Thistle was an interesting person, one that the tiny assassin would hate to see get hurt. She had spunk though, Jerica would give the other woman that. Reminded her sort of, of her sister.

Immediately the attention in the room shifted to Jerica. Even Thistle's eyes slipped away from the men on the walls, in the tubs, in the pool, to Jerica. Recognition there, that she shunted away. The men weren't interested in denying people entrance; they simply looked intimidating and threatening and most people left before getting into the water, or shortly after. Thistle found herself wishing she hadn't met Jerica before, didn't feel some measure of responsibility if things went south, but there it was. Nils hadn't opened his eyes. He had his men there for a reason, all twelve of them. They didn't fill the room up, weren't clustered, but they had the favorable positions were there to be an attack. Thistle threw a desperate, clutching prayer up to the Souls, even though she knew they'd their backs to her, and shifted so her legs dangled into the pool next to Nils. Attention split, most of it going back to her. She was closer. Skinny as she was, the men were trained to be ready for anything. "To him, I am. He crossed me first. He thinks I'm trash." She tilted her head, smiled a little. "And I guess if he was stupid enough to think that, that's his own problem. I've got problems with some of the bigger groups, but I also have my own worth. I'm dealing with words, not knives in the backs of my colleagues." Her eyes lifted, briefly, to Jerica. Then, with a tip of her head forward, to the door. Back to Jerica. Back to Nils. "Thonmet's ambitious. Did you know that?" Her voice went low, encouraging. Nils grunted.

Jerica slipped into the water as though she hadn't any idea that something was going on. She didn't really have an idea what it was, but it was something if all these men were any indication. Twelve was a lot and she did a few calculations of her own while dropping the towel to the edge of the pool and dropping neck deep in the water. Oh yeah, Jerica caught that nod to the door but her lips only twitched as she kept quiet, unobtrusive, none threatening. Just a woman looking to get clean. Good thing she kept at least a stiletto wrapped in the second towel out of habit. For all anyone but Thistle knew Jerica could be mute and deaf for all the attention she paid the conversation regarding the known but secretive under ground prevalent in Cenril. Besides, what could she add to the mix? For now it seemed as though Thistle was holding her own well enough.

Thistle might have frowned. Might have glared, too. Might have been trying to make herself look a little more tough, a little more capable. But that was laughable, really, and she knew it all the way down to the hidden depths of her bones. Conversations were as dangerous as weapons, when you held them with the wrong people, and listening to them could be as bad as saying the wrong thing. Bodies were found off the docks all the time. Facedown in the streets. In other, more obvious, more telling places. Thistle gave her attention to the sweet-faced bruiser with his arms crossed on the tub, tilted her head the other way. "He's looking to expand. Start taking the smaller dens up. The slums have always been piecemeal in the east half of the city. No real power. But with enough people, enough choke on trade. . ." she rubbed her thumb and fingers together, showed her teeth to the muscle looking at her like she was meat. She gave her attention back to Nils, whose eyes were slitted carefully open. "People talk around a runt like me. I listen. I might give it back out, for the right price." Not something she especially wanted others to know, others outside the rough and bloody world of dirty streets. Not something she cared for Jerica to know, either for the woman's safety or her own. "You going independent, rogue contractor?" Nils' voice was milky-sweet, dangerous as poison. "People don't last long like that. Even Petra got snapped up by Craven, and she was the best in the city." Danger. Oh, danger.

Jerica dunked under the water and came back up dripping and mostly clean. The atmosphere gathering momentum in the baths was making her skin prickle so that she swam closer to the towels. Carefully she eased the non-weapon hiding towel from the edge of the bath and wrapped it again around herself as she rose out of the water. The other was draped casually over her arm rather than used to dry her hair as some would have done. Beneath that innocent piece of cloth Jerica's fingers found the handle of the knife and wrapped lightly around it. The blade itself was sharp that wasn't the part of it that did the killing. It was meant only to scratch or nick so that the poison coating the entire blade could enter the bloodstream of her mark. Whatever she knew now of Thistle was filed for later consideration and discussion. For now the assassin was as clean as she was going to get and instinct was telling the petite and seemingly defenseless woman it was time to go. If nothing hindered her on the way; in passing Thistle she wouldn't look at the scantily clad but decently covered street girl but something would give that she'd want to talk later. Maybe the twitch of a finger or the turn of an ankle, the angle of her head. A silent signal that might take some time to work out. Either way, Jerica would get a message to Thistle. All of that, of course, only if something didn't bar her departure.

No one moved to bar Jerica. Thistle watched her as she left, mouth closing into a flat line before she replied to Nils. "Petra can take care of herself. Has taken care of herself, what I heard. But see, I think maybe Vitus has been wondering where his vodyanoi-spit silk contracts have been wandering off to, and I think maybe we can deal. I think maybe I can be beneficial to you, if I get paid properly." Thistle was playing the game. Playing it along the edge, flirting with her own destruction as easily as if she had nothing to lose. You had to game it, because if you had something you were going to be bloated up stinking somewhere, left for the flies to fight over. It went on like that, after Jerica left, the dance tentative and rife with sweetly voiced threats, underhanded insults and the testing to see who had the bigger balls. In the end, Thistle left with a heavy sack of gold for the things she knew about Thonmet, and an unspoken warning that if she wasn't careful she'd find one of Vitus' boys at her back with a knife settled clean in it. She left, determined to find Jerica and get the measure of the woman. Threats were only threatening if you didn't know they were coming. After that, it was all posturing and talk. And she knew how to play.

Jerica waited as long as it took for Thistle to finish her business outside the bath house. For all the lights that shined on the street at night and the wealth of sunlight filtering down now, she managed to somehow conceal herself along the side of a building. Actually, the disguise was pretty close to the one she had used the night before and was the cause of her recent bath. She wore oversized clothes mostly sewn in patches and a ragged cap to tuck her hair in. For all that she looked girlish; there was reason to think her nothing more than a young boy panhandling on a street corner. "Hey, mister! Got a bit of coin t' help wif me mum? She's sick, yeah? an' my sister needs shoes. C'mon, you c'n spare a little can't ya, yeah?" She dipped her voice only an octave lower than her natural tones just enough to seem natural and not forced; that would draw attention. The haggard and harried mark for the panhandler sneered down at the 'boy' and spat at his feet. Jerica didn't really notice nor care as her brown eyes searched towards the bath house. Oh! There she was! Giving the miser a rude gesture and sneering right back this 'boy' hopped and jogged over towards Thistle, giving the same schpiel only without the rest of the act, practically dancing and bobbing around Thistle, "Hey, ye got some spare coin for me mum? She's sick an' my sister needs shoes. C'mon, just a copper or two would set is good for the week, maybe a month!" Jerica touched Thistles unladen arm to direct her towards a narrow alley that she'd scoped out earlier as a good place for a private chat.

Thistle knew she'd be tailed. She'd be insulted if she wasn't, given what she'd just traded for enough coin to buy herself something shiny and sharp. If she was lucky, it'd be enough for a new bow less crap than the other one. But that wasn't her aim. Her aim was Jerica, and getting past Vitus' idea of hospitality. She supposed she'd amused Nils, that the man hadn't had her softened up a little for her impertinence and the lip she'd given, but it was the only choice she had. If she started crumbling before she had enough contacts she'd find herself floating facedown under the docks with only bug eggs and hungry fish for company. If even the fish would have her. She frowned at the boy, hands shoved into her sash, deel still not repaired. Her arms and upper back were free to the air, and given the heat of the bathhouse it made her skin prickle something awful. She needed to get her belongings. She needed to make sure Jerica kept her mouth shut. She moved into the alley, muttering, "I got nothing for you that you can't get for yourself, seeing as how you've got real big ears, yeah? Lead pair of balls, yeah? Tendency to get yourself killed?" Not exactly the nicest way to start a conversation, but Thistle wasn't in a nice mood. Rarely was since Leaf had gotten dead.

Jerica glanced back once they were within the alley keeping up the pretense only until she was sure no prying eyes or ears would hear. Then she gave Thistle a slight grin. "I really hadn't meant to walk in just then. I needed a bath. I'll need another one soon. But what I did hear didn't sound so good for your health, Nas." Interest and curiosity sparked in brown eyes easily concealed by the shadows of the narrow way. "I've never been accused of being overly cautious, I suppose. If that means it gets me killed someday I'll probably have earned it." Nodding back towards the entrance to the alley, Jerica said quite bluntly, "You're gonna need someone to watch your back if you're dealing with the likes of them."

In an alley, between the stone buildings and not entirely out of sight, he hunched on his knees. On his knees, pants down, trying to piss and hoping to hell it wasn't blood this time. But it was. He didn't have to look to know. The pain lit through him like fire and all at once he broke out in a cold sweat. Aware that he was still pissing blood only by the feel and the coppery smell of it on the air, Deaglan allowed himself to squeeze out a few tears and pawed them away with the back of a gnarled hand. The mess of his beard, the dark whirls of facial hair that sprouted from his face, would all do well to hide the agony of it all. It was something he was well-familiar with. Familiar voices should have, but didn't hurry them. He lingered even as they became near. A shift of movement as he finished, shook himself, and began to button up the fasten of his pants would announce his presence. And, were it not for pissing blood on his knees, he'd have looked more or less his usual self.

Thistle's mouth had opened, and then stayed that way, expression going from determined to confused. She inhaled, ready to say something in all likelihood cutting when the sound of liquid hitting stone stopped her. Deaglan stopped her. Not for long though, given the way her mouth had decided it no longer needed her mind to function. "What, you knew who that was?" Fully sarcastic, doubtful, those few single words deeming Jerica clueless. Thistle eyed Jerica's disguise as she kept walking right up to Deaglan to prod him in the calf with her toes. "You dead?" she'd ask quietly before turning to square at Jerica. "Even if you do, can't say I like strange blades at my back. Especially when they've nothing to gain, I reckon." Cold, chill words.

Jerica is the one to clam up now as she too heard the distinctive sound of someone relieving himself on the wall. And she had even scouted this spot before. Maybe she was losing her touch. But, it seems that Nas knew this person who was, if she wasn't mistaken, pissing blood on the wall. Blood of course had a very distinct smell when it was warm and Jerica had had plenty of opportunity to become acquainted with it. Finally, she spoke in regards to Nas' last statement, "I have my reasons and not all of them are altruistic."

Thistle left Deaglan where he was, though he hadn't responded. The few times she'd cause to piss blood she hadn't been real keen on conversation either, but she put herself in front of him, blocked the majority of him from Jerica's view. Gave him his time to recover, pass out, go to sleep in his own filth, whatever. She'd words with him later if need be. But Jerica's words, oh, music to her ears. "Yeah?" Hadn't stopped posturing since the baths, had she? Just a different sort now, the evaluating kind. "What's your aim here? Experience?"

Jerica follows Nas' lead and ignores the blood-pisser. "Knowledge. I like to know things. Knowing things keeps a person alive longer. You must have realized that, too. But what's even better is if you know just enough to make all parties a little bit nervous about you. Not too much, mind. That's when you start watching your back a little closer. Just enough to make people sweat that you may know a little more about them than what they are comfortable with. Selling it isn't my goal, keeping it and getting paid to is. We have the same goals just different plans on attaining them." Jerica remained calm, she didn't fidget no matter that she thought she could feel bugs crawling on her skin from the clothes. She had needed to make the look authentic. How better to get authentic than to buy them off one of the many vagrants.

Thistle didn't fold her arms, though she wanted to. She kept them loose at her sides, looked Jerica up and down. She didn't know north Cenril as well as the crumbling squalor south-west and east, the ones to either side of where she'd lived for two years in the middle, under the oppressive presence of a man who sat atop his pile like a fat, cunning pig. Like a boar, tusks and all. North Cenril tended to be where the religious men played, and most times the gangs kept out of their way. Most especially the smaller ones Thistle was entrenching herself in to reach her goal. Her bare toes curled into the dubious filth of the street. "You want a payroll? Hm? What were you doing before today? Why that getup?" Thistle was oh-so-intimate with lice and fleas.

Jerica tilted her head and eyed Nas (as she knew her) slowly from head to foot then back up, "That's knowledge you want of me. What do I get?"

Thistle lifted her left hand to push her still damp hair back from her face. Casual move, because she didn't want it crowding her peripheral vision. She tucked it behind her ears, felt the ticklish slide of hair over her missing third knuckle of the ring finger, and dropped the hand to her sash where she tucked it there. Dealing. "You've already gotten plenty today, haven't you. But see, here's the thing," she lowered her voice as if she was sharing dirty secrets, the type of sharing meant to make the other party feel like an idiot, "You walked into that bathhouse like you weren't afraid. That doesn't happen often. And I have a thought that maybe you're playing your own game with some pals who don't like me. Coincidence? Or a convenient knife placed real tight to keep track of me. If I hire, I do it with the probability of getting stabbed. Not the certainty."

Jerica was aware of every gesture that Nas made even if her eyes didn't track them. She wondered what was in that sash the street girl kept putting her hand into and was quite content to know she wasn't exactly unarmed herself. In this getup she couldn't exactly take her cross bow but twisted into her hair and easily accessible was an unassuming stick that quickly became a miniature blow gun complete with poison darts. None of that is important. What's important is making sure that Nas understands that Jerica can be trusted, to some extent. "I wasn't afraid. Why should I be? I was just some random woman who needed a bath. And in fact, that's just what I was up until I saw you in there." Brown eyes glittered with humor at the strange turn of events. "I really did just want a bath. Imagine my good fortune to come across you and one of the gang bosses having a little tea time chat. Nas, I'm not out to try stabbing you in the back or anyone else. I wasn't hired to tail you and make sure you don't talk. In fact, it's in my best interest if you do talk. To me. Not them." Jerica tilted her head the other direction and absently scratched at a patch of drying dirt on her chin. The mud flaked off to her relief. "We could profit nicely, you and I."

Thistle wasn't convinced. Wouldn't be so easily for awhile; it was always easier to seek someone out than be approached. "You saw how empty the bathhouse was," she said, but quietly. "Your information is wrong. He's not a boss, just a representative. What're your qualifications? How could I benefit from having you on?" Somewhere down another alley a dog was barking, the sound of childrens' giggles rising up over it. Down the street outside the alley came the rattle and creak of a heavily laden wagon, complete with irritated voice of a driver impatient with his oxen. The city was pulsing around them, hundreds of stories interweaving together, forming patterns and opportunities for people like them. Or, at the least, people like Thistle who had one thing left that really mattered. If anything could be said to matter at all. A thought crossed her mind then, wondering if the tail had followed them into the street. Wondering if, maybe, she could use that tail to her benefit. Lines were being walked oh so carefully, and rumors had their uses. It'd been a long time since Thistle had played political games, and the last time she'd mucked it up pretty bad, gotten burned hard enough that she'd been determined to play out the rest of her life as nothing more than a crappy beggar. Things changed. Things always changed.

Jerica was pretty sure her guess had been more correct than Nas was letting on. No mere lackey had twelve bodyguards with them and the conversation she had played dumb hearing did not at all seem like the type you have with an underling. "In the two times we've met, Nas, have I given you any reason at all to think I might be a threat to you? At the Inn; I helped you out. In the bath, I didn't do anything to jeopardize the deal you were working. I listened in, sure, but I didn't do anything that would have put you or myself into danger. I'm pretty good and not being seen and blending in when I want to. You'll benefit because when push comes to shove, no one sees me coming."

Krice ventured along Beloy Street from the west in his usual black clothing, passing quietly under the arch of the gate. He paused there briefly and supported himself on the concrete wall with his right hand, the left one pressed into his side around his floating ribs. There was discomfort in his body, as told by the subtle grimace that passed over his features, but it was forced beneath his stoic exterior before he emerged from the shadow of the wall and proceeded east. For all intents and purposes, he was relatively oblivious to Thistle and Jerica... until the latter spoke. Her voice pervaded his pain-numbed mind like an echo in reverse, suctioned through his ears until his receptors deciphered her words and he comprehended them. He blinked, glancing toward the two women as he made his way along the street. Krice did not change his trajectory to approach them but he did slow his gait, squinting at Jerica indifferently before his eyes settled on Thistle. Never mind the dog up ahead, or the noisy children, or the unlucky vendor with oxen that wouldn't cooperate; Krice's attention was on these two women. Whenever they noticed him, perhaps they'd sense that he was moving more stiffly than usual, but with his hands down in the pockets of his pants, his stride was as casual as he could make it.

Thistle was on high alert. She'd been waiting for the tail to make itself apparent, make a mistake. To prove to her that her little dealing would show up later, make the rounds and make her out to be more than what she was. Nils had spoken of Petra. Thistle intended to be more than Petra ever had, because she'd have to be. Had to. No other choice. "Weapons skills? How about playing a -- " Krice. They were tucked back into an alley, out of the way of common passersby, and Thistle was keeping an eye up and down it, waiting, watching. There was something off about him, something she couldn't quite put a finger on, but fresh from her meeting with Nils her mind was still working along those slick pathways. She thought of the tail. The dog's barking grew more frantic, more aggressive, and a child squealed. Whether in pain or delight, it was always hard to tell. In Cenril, it was likely to be one as the other. Not her problem. "Hey," she called out past Jerica. "Wall. A word." Her body language was shifting into something a little more cocky, a little more confidant. What wounds she had were halfway covered; a trick, that. A teasing show of vulnerability, and weakness. A means for her to be assumed fragile, helpless, and easy to take advantage of. Though, considering her bad ways, it was a little more true than she was strictly comfortable with.

Jerica wouldn't have an opportunity to answer Nas's questions about her skill set. Maybe another time. A prickling tickled the back of her neck; the sort of feeling one gets when they're being watched. Dirt streaked face turned towards the entrance of the alley, and she almost swore on seeing Krice. A step back put her futher in shadow. While it seemed that Nas's attention was on the warrior, and she had to laugh at least to herself because 'wall' was the perfect way to describe him, Jerica began moving away. As quiet, quieter even, than a mouse Jerica made her way to the other end of the alley. Always have an escape route was lesson number one for the assassin and she did have one, of course. Crates and barrells hadn't been haphazardly stacked against one of the side walls midway down for no reason. They lead up to the roofs of Cenril and made for an easy escape. She'd just have to find a hotspring somewhere for a dip to clean the filth off again. Jerica just really didn't want Krice to see her right this second. Knowing what she did and seeing her, while she hadn't killed anyone this sort of thing did happen to go along with the job, doing it were two different beasts entirely.