Vel And Ateo.
As the talk of the big bad they were off to face went down Vel slipped into her 'working' mind. It was true the creatures here were much different than those back home and she could not claim having ever fought something not of her own more 'humanoid' races. Elves, dwarves and humans, even other drow but she'd not faced Goblins or giants before. Her ears weren't just ornaments but they listened to everything from the open window of the carriage and then when all was said and done Vel had come to a conclusion.
While the carriage ambled on she leaned out the door and offered a half bow to the two ladies inside. “Well Matron, miss. It would be terribly unfitting of me to not serve my purpose after a contract has been formed. Thus I must not leave the scouting to just one grizzled man and his donkey. De'Myr stay within the carriage, do not so much as poke your head from the window until I return. Matron, I shall not be gone long and my duties will be fulfilled.” With that Vel gave a rather dazzling but reckless smile and she jumped.
Swinging herself up onto the carriage roof she took a moment to gain her bearings and scan the surroundings while regaining her balance. “Mister Ateo.” Polite as she could be, “I'll accompany you scouting.” The very thought of the mule and it's, ugh. The whole thought made her feel nauseous. Looking to the rear of the carriage where the horse trotted behind she swallowed the bile in her throat. It was just an animal, a stupid, treacherous, evil, nasty, vile animal but still an animal. Positively mortified she made her way to the back of the caravan and with a groan she bit her teeth together and hopped down. As she slipped onto the evil mammal's back she severed it's tie to the carriage with a blade and immediately regretted her every move in life up until now.
She grabbed the reigns but the horse was not happy with the unfamiliar weight and she was likewise unhappy with the unfamiliar feel. It was not wide enough nor muscular enough compared to what she rode at home. It's gait was all wrong and it's arse seemed to sashay half a foot out to either side whenever it liked. It's neck was too thin and it's head was too long and it's intelligence while likely greater than the lizards, seemed to neglect to inform it that being ridden was what it was meant for. With a curse word she went pale, for a Drow, and had she not already withstood more humiliation than she could adequately bare she managed to gee the horse into movement in the right way.
There was after all more to lose here than just personal pride. Her family's name dirtied? Fuck no. Her Species tarnished (more)? Fuck no. The respect of her employers? DOUBLE TO THE FUCK NO! The determination that burned in the mortified Drow seemed to reach even the horse who began to behave itself and move as Vel wanted it to. “Damn right you ugly mammal you are my bitch.” She muttered to the horse, who flicked it's ears and understood nothing. With a conscious effort she made the creature move faster, so it might over take the carriage and those travelling in front of it and catch up with Ateo who rode out ahead with his donkey.
Fucking hate that man, donkey, horse. Fuck you that's what, fuck you Ateo. I'll teach you to look down on me you pile of horse shit. Oddly enough her mental ranting seemed to help her relax and grow accustomed to the awful movement of the horse and her utter lack of riding ability. Her feet for instance were not in the stirrups, she had no fucking idea what they were for. She was sat slightly far back on the saddle and the reigns in her hands looked clumsy, still, she didn't fall off so one point to Vel. [ “Ateo.” Uttered in a gentle whisper as she fought to get the horse to slow down again, fucking horse, when it was trotting she continued, “How much scouting have you done before? I am not doubting your abilities but since you are the leader here you lead and leave the scouting to me. I scout better than I ride horses.” An attempt at humour and even a small smile before the horse moved at slightly the wrong angle and she felt too nauseous to keep the grin up.
Ateo didn't race on ahead, so he was not far away at all when he noticed Vel getting out and mounting (if that's what you'd call what she was attempting to do) and gradually..not so much riding as much as staying ahorse and making her way over. "You're very out of your element," he stated ambiguously and offhandedly, no callousness to his tone. Was he talking about the surface, being on a horse, scouting, or her attempt to try and be polite and civil?
He studied her as she approached and continued to as she rode beside him. Boulder also looked towards the two and if donkeys could glare, Boulder was glaring at the horse. Both Ateo and Boulder were surefooted and headstrong, but their strongest bond was in that they both hated horses.
"I'm more of a ranger or scout by trade, I guess. Not the type to sneak into a stronghold and steal something without having anyone know I was there, but out in the wilderness, I can blend and watch and have a knack for reconnaissance. It would serve you well to take lessons on riding. You're a few steps from having it down, but the way your riding, your ass is going to be sore and in need of a good rubbing in a few hours. I am sure Fitch or Temer would oblige you if need comes about." He smirked at her as he teased, not meaning to insult but keep things light and casual. Ateo was a hard one to gauge, prone to angry outbursts one moment, then quiet and brooding the next, and then later still he'd talk to someone as if they were long time companions.
Out of her element? Of course she was she was on an evil mother fucking horse. "No shit." Was her very well thought out response, civil and polite, not her strongest point. Clearly nor was horse riding, they moved far too weird for her. The surface, well the only real difference was the day star despite how the humans liked to dramatise the underdark. At least Drow were honest and forthright when they disliked each other, humans were even sneakier than Drow!
Vel was actually somewhat surprised when he said he was a ranger and scout by trade, no fucking way! For a moment she was astounded and almost lost her balance on the horse -that would never have happened on a lizard, just saying-. "You? Seriously? Don't take this the wrong way but rangers and the like don't usually have such a stick up their ars---I mean. Really? That is surprising." A forced civil(ish) smile and slight nod of her head as she seemed to agree with herself. "So you're one of those annoying...I mean wonderful, people that can do pretty much everything? Jack of all trades, master of none, that about right? I'm not trying to be offensive I just--What? Oh hell fucking no, I'm only riding this ugly fucking thing for your benefit. You go out there and get shot to shit because you're too busy 'blending in' to notice the fucking goblin behind your back we're all screwed..." With a deep sigh and roll of her eyes she quickly added. "I mean thank you that would be delightful but i don't plan on riding for long. Not horses anyway."
At the comment of Fitch or Temer touching her rear end she shuddered visibly, just, ew. "If I hurt my rear you can kiss it better." Vel commented aloud, rolling her shoulders which were already stiff from the way she was trying to ride this stupid mammal. Clearing her throat before she finally got to the point, "So, what's the plan for this reconnaissance malarcky Boss?"
He was slightly thrown off by Vel being so…talkative. He hadn't met many drow, in fact, the three in the party were more than he'd met previously, but those before, and even the other two seemed more eager to talk to themselves and reserve comments to non-drow for when there was something derisive or derogatory to say. He couldn't help but grin at her comments and he shook his head, answering her after he initial question about being a jack of all trades. "Not a jack of all trades. Ranger best describes me, but I have my more…devoted skill set, but that is most likely not something that would be of use for what we're headed for."
He looked over his shoulder and made sure the others weren't leaving or killing each other even though he knew at this point, all would be well. "But I guess in some vague sense, I could be considered that. I'm no knight but I can fight mounted. I'm no archer, but I can shoot a bow. Nor am I a mage, but I can cast some spells. I always learned to fight to be able to kill and never really focused on what I'd describe myself as."
"And for the love of all that is holy woman, move forward on that beast. Loosen your legs, you're squeezing the damned thing to death. Relax. Don't try to move with the thing, or brace. My riding teacher said riding is easier for a woman. It's like being fucked. Open your legs, relax and enjoy it. You're riding like a seasick boy on his first boat. Anyway. My ranging has taken me to goblin camps and outlander strongholds, and some place I'll never speak of. I'll be fine if you feel the need to sit your pampered ass inside a cushioned carriage, I'd understand."
"Oh, and. If offered the choice, a mule would be a better decision next time. They're slow and methodical and they are smoother than a damned horse any day. But anyway, plan is to venture up ahead and keep my eyes open. I don't anticipate us even potentially even really needing to be on the look out for anything for a day or so. But as you mentioned, I don't seem very much a ranger, and truth be told, I've been a glorified houseguard for far too many years, I have to work some of the kinks out."
Nodded lightly, it made sense, it wasn't exactly the same that was for sure but it was very similar to their house. Degrassi rarely sat back and thought about what they've learned or amassed and when they do they usually came to the knowledge that they too, at least information wise, were jacks of all trades. They were still primarily stealthy fucking assholes though. "Ain't a thing wrong with that Ateo, it's good to be well rounded. Me, I have some inherited skills, don't loose them but don't mean I'm able to teach anyone it either. Stealthy as fuck when I want to be, no really, aside from that i can get information out of pretty much anyone if given enough time and incentive but that's about it. You got your bases covered." To that she seemed almost impressed, which was certainly saying something.
All of a sudden he was giving her horse advice, at his advice she moved forward in the saddle and it did feel, admittedly, quite a bit more comfortable already. Then he told her to loosen her legs, "Get to fuck, I'll fall off!" Clearly a little more scared than she wanted to admit and so cleared her throat for her second retort, glad her hood was covering her face and hiding the blush on dark skin. "Well Ateo no wonder I can't ride, I've never been fucked. Think many people wanna fuck an assassin?" She snorted, as if she had actually won something by making this point but in actuality she was embarrassed to admit it. Only one time had her job asked her to lay with someone and that... Not thinking of it, not thinking of it, not thinking of it.
He chuckled at her comment. "Assassin or not, the only people who fuck for something other than pleasure are whores. So unless what is between your legs is your method of assassination, you should try it. Many people do it, and there's a good reason for that. And occupation is not always discussed when bedding a woman." Then he quickly added, "unless she IS a whore I guess…"
With a breath she added, more quietly and perhaps a little humbly, "Besides, I'm a lot of things but I ain't pampered. Never have been, life down there doesn't give you much chance to be. Even for them I guess, it's hard and it's ruthless and it's dangerous. Down there if you get too comfortable you get killed. Usually by us because someone wants your house or something. Same as up here just, more open."
"Well, I can understand that. The merchants, they are a untrustworthy, awful lot. Always plotting and scheming and while straight out assassinations are not the commonplace, attempts are not unheard of. Mostly, plays are made via blackmail or extortion or sabatoge. I loathe merchants."
She seemed to almost grow contemplative and then she shook it off and grinned at the mule and him "Mule, got it. Prefer ore lizards though, big bloody things with enormous teeth, not an advantage down there, everyone's got some really but up here, if nothing else they look scary. You should try riding one at some point."
"If they are anything like a horse, you can keep them," he snapped quickly. He wasn't angry, but for when Ateo thought of riding a horse, he pictured a scene more like what she described. Ateo hated horses…
Vel grinned, "Nah, they're a lot like your mule, well, I suppose any mule, just...bigger."
Glancing out at the horizon as it appeared before them she nodded lightly, "I'll admit, my first time doing something like this, usually it's in city jobs you know? Go spy on this person, go kill this person's second aunt, go steal this. However, if it's one thing my kind has it's a freaking amazing survival instinct. So why you're shaking off the cobwebs just keep an eye on me, if I leg it you better be following." She was teasing clearly, she never ran from a job no matter how dangerous, no matter how much... More...fucking...wine!
"The larger the city, the larger the corruption," he said softly, almost to himself. "If you run, there isn't a hole deep enough to hide." He was smirking and joking, but there was definitely a truth to his words. His mouth hung open as if he'd say more but snapped it shut suddenly. Truth be told, he hadn't really talked with anyone, besides his men, this long in years. The vast majority of his talks with anyone was business, and even when talking openly with his men, they didn't care or pry about pasts. They talked about fighting and whoring and drinking. He needed to be more guarded with his words.
Nodded to the man's wise words, "I'd drink to that but then I'd most certainly fall off this beast. Still, we're not working for one of them cocks we're working for a guy you clearly think something of. So fuck the rest in my opinion." Glancing briefly to Ateo she was tempted to ask about his past, the information might be worth something, however for now the contract made him an extension of her employer and by her own morals she didn't snoop on an employer. Once it was over she was going to go open season on his history mind you, if they lived. "I don't run. I might be a Drow but I have a code, see this scroll?" She tapped the second of three in her corset and had she removed it he would see it was the Merchants one. Ateo only nodded in response. "I didn't have it drawn up just so your boss didn't screw me over. If I put my name to a contract the job gets done, I don't welch on it. It's part of my moral code. Only way I don't finish a job will be if I die doing it." Vel seemed pretty serious on that too, it might have been weird for a Drow to think about moral and honor but everyone needed something to cling to and this was what she did.
"I find that very…interesting. I hope you don't take offense to that."
Vel only shrugged, understanding completely how one would think that of a drow. "As for sex, well I'll take your word for it on it's uses. Never had interest in it if I'm honest. All that gyrating and sweating, rather embarrassing I think. Besides he..." She stopped but before she could say anything, he simply added "it's like eating. You don't eat to look good doing it. You eat for the end result. But, I've only been with one woman myself, for what that's worth." She shook the softness from her tone and changed the subject again completely. "So, this girl, don't take offence that I've forgotten her name but I don't like getting attached to things, or people, makes my job harder. What does she look like? Not saying we will but if we get separated it might be an idea if we know what we're looking for. I'm not a good Samaritan so I won't be saving any stray girl I see in the hopes that it's his daughter."
It was his turn not to take offense, he simply scanned the horizon absent mindedly as he spoke. "Dahlaholtrah. Quite a mouthful. Try Dahla. She's a girl of almost 9. She's not bigger or smaller than most girls her age. Brown eyes, blonde hair. She has a slightly visible scar on her hairline from fighting one of her cousins, and she recently cut her hair to a boys length, just to spite her mother, who wanted it to be long and flowing. She's mouthy and too smart for her age. In fact, when we get back to the group, I have an illusion based spell that will show you all her exactly as I last remember her."
"Dahla, I will try and remember it, long blooming names. Can't say Dro--Wait...what? Not... but the way..." Vel, rendered speechless, it wasn't the revelation itself but the sudden understanding of all the things prior to this moment. Ateo's rage at her unprofessional attitude, the Merchant's utter despair, the awkward looks of those that had helped interview them. Nine. Human's were nothing to most Drow, amusing toys at best but someone had to be incredibly broken to think a Nine year old ought to have her fate be sealed in such a way. Besides from what it sounded like, "Me and her are going to get on like a house on fire. I like spirited kids." Then again this wasn't to say she was a 'kid' person, in fact for the right money she'd kill anyone, even kids. It seems though no one had the kind of money required for that kind of job, Vel was a cold-hearted bitch yes but children.
"I admire ya even more I think. If it were a friend of mines kid...well it...nevermind. Don't have friends, they're liabilities, still, I would not be able to sit here and be a collected as you are. The way she was spoken of i assumed she was at least of age but this? This...no wonder your'e so protective of this job." Vel wasn't about to make empty promises about getting her back in one piece and reuniting her with her father and all the rainbows and unicorn, fairy poop that went with it. They both knew the likelihood of that was slim and Vel was not even going to suggest he possibility of her demise. No, Vel wasn't attached to this, it wasn't her family, it wasn't his and she had to be professional. "If somebody is holding Dahla though, I'm going to really enjoy making them let go."
“I appreciate the admiration, but it’s not necessary. I want to get her back, simple as that. And as far as being collected, or calm...” He looked over his shoulder, back at the group for some reason, as if he was a kid about to tell a secret or something. “I’m burning with a rage inside that hasn’t been there in years.” How long had it been? 50 years? 70? “But. Anger is a gift. And the gift of my anger and my rage,” he smirked, shaking his head as his eyes glazed over for a few moments, “they are something to behold.” He blinked a few times and turned back to Vel. “Whoever has done this is already dead. Just a matter of me, of us, getting there.”
He turned away from her and asked…or said, out of nowhere, “you are curious about me. Probably more so than any of the others."
His almost secretive whisper made her feel momentarily special, then incredibly nosy. She wanted to behold his anger, she really did, preferably not directed at her as that would seem to be a rather unwise idea. Fitch, that Cassandra woman and the Merchant all seemed to hold Ateo in high regards. To look at he appeared to be just another human, though perhaps that was racial prejudice rather than physical attributes. Yet there was something that, even if she wouldn't admit it, made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end and when he had shouted at her, she'd been just a little bit afraid for the first time in years. Still, surely it would reveal itself, hopefully the man was right and whoever had taken Dahla was now being picked out from between a giants toe. Then hopefully Dahla had the good sense and street savvy to stay hidden and out of sight until they got to her. She had a feeling anything, giant or other wise, that got between Ateo and Dahla was going to regret it.
"Oh gods am I that easy to read?" She replied when Ateo confessed to having noticed her curiosity. "I am yes, information is sort of what my family does, among other things, so whenever there's something interesting we tend to prick up our ears. You're an interesting man Ateo, even at the interview I thought that and now more so. God breaker has nothing to do with a monk or a priest or any kind of clergy from any kind of bar. The respect you command in those two back there is not the kind from a simple ranger or even warrior, you hide yourself better than most as well, throwing up walls so people can't see. The others, they're easy enough to read despite their attempts not to be but you? Only a man with secrets would be that careful with his words and the words others say about him." She paused then, a small smile at her lips, indeed Ateo was an interesting enigma. "However, it is in my code not to pry into an employer's secrets while I am contracted to him. You are the physical extension of my employer so I won't ask and I won't pry...until our contract is complete and then you're fair game Ateo." Her tone light and surprisingly playful for a Drow.
“Not that easy to read, no. It’s just…the common place. Ever since coming in to Arbich, everyone has wanted to know about me. More so after the Riots. Notoriety only increased people wanting to know about me. Some have spent money trying to find out about me, lots of steel. The Detlran’s have given up only but recently. To a large extent, my survival depends on no one of this realm knowing my past. I value my life very much. But you. I can see you looking, even when you're not, and the need or desire to know is almost palpable...”
He took out a water skin and drank heavily of it before putting it back to his side. “And pry if it entertains you, it will just end as it always has,” he grinned almost daringly, but didn’t look at her as he spoke. “Anyway, who said I was in charge? I know Marcurio didn’t, or if he did he failed to tell me.”
“I will tell you this, as it is of no real consequence to anything. The village we are headed to, Small Haven. I spent lots of time there growing up, was raised a few miles out of town. I am not looking forward to seeing it in ruins.”[/QUOTE]
The jack-of-all seemed to have her pinned and she could not help a small chuckle that slipped from her lips, "To pay for information, well I had never honestly thought of that before. Money can lie after all." She paused as he continued, his existence relied on his secret being kept? "If we survive this, buy me a diamond, they are a delicacy back home. Do this and your name will never leave my lips to my people, for all I am Ateo I am not a cold-hearted murderer. Besides, for a human, you're rather palatable." Her jest was as light and gentle as her laughter, though there was a large portion of truth to her words. She was not in the habit for freely ignoring secrets but if Ateo purchased her a diamond that in itself constituted a contract, under said contract she would not be able to break the terms but for obvious reasons this would have to be her exception in the written rule. For if his name was on parchment, people would pry.
"You are the most trusted to the Detlran's, a seasoned warrior if only minor, clearly a tactician. Who better to lead us? Fitch perhaps? Zakein? Tremer? Perhaps I? No, of all the gathered, perhaps minus Zakein, I am sure you would find that they agree such a position is yours. Sorry about that but leadership, never been my style personally." A little bravely she released the reigns with one hand and flapped the air as if to rid a bad smell, quickly catching the reigns once more and gripping for her life. As Ateo continued to speak she paid attention, quiet and unresponsive even though he dropped such a beautiful nugget.
Of no consequence perhaps but records and people would exist somewhere, they could speak, they would with the right influence, then it was all about following the trail, chasing it and once catching a corner not releasing it. It perhaps, was like a blood hound with a scent, a tiger with her kill, the chase, the thrill, it bubbled inside Vel. If ever a chase would be satisfying and fulfilling she felt this one would be it, the once in a lifetime white whale. It was almost enough to salivate on, a good informant, a good spy, why any crumb was enough to begin the hunt. Shaking her head she dismissed such thoughts, at the very least until the contract terminated, "Besides." Half whispered to herself, "This way I won't betray you." The Drow had no intention of betraying but ah did the lure of a hunt seem tempting, the last great hunt had been him and such a burden was both euphoric and soul destroying. The thought of a new hunt like him, perhaps better, perhaps a hunt that would finally wipe that cursed man from her minds eye, it was almost too much to bare and Drow could be awfully single minded.
Clearing her throat she spoke once more for his ears, "Small Haven? A pretty name and sufficiently descriptive no doubt. Is it certain that it is already in ruins? I will admit my home towns name left much to be desired, though no one can deny the beauty of the crystal mountains. The walls sparkle like an endless night sky and when the moon beams hit it just right at the peak of the season's they sparkle with the most radiant of lights." If only to keep Ateo's mind off his town and her off the scent of her trail she would ramble like this.
“Fitch, despite my thoughts of him in general would make a good leader. He is not as people generally think. Benjamin, Cassandra. I’d almost say Temer, but he is not familiar with the area. All have potential. We will see. Maybe a leader will not be necessary and no crucial decisions will be made.”
He watched her wave her hand at the horse and sympathized. He loathed the beasts, plain and simple. After she spoke briefly of his past, diamonds and Small Haven, he said flatly. “I can see your wheels spinning and while it’s amusing understand that a great many know of my upbringing in Small Haven, except maybe the people who live—who once lived in Small Haven. Anyone seeking my past would look there first, there is simply nothing there to learn." One thing that no living being knew was that he was actually half human, half elf, and while he inhireted the majority of his human blood's traits, age was one of the those that the elven side of him was expressed. "And I’m not so sure the term “ruins” would be something the town was capable of becoming. It was by no means large, most structures were wood or straw or mud. There is no militia or guard, no walls. I’m sure a goblin attack would have left it laid to waste. It’s sad, but the cities and countries cannot protect its people, not always. And the hordes know this. But they’ve never been this brazen or united. It almost makes me think something more is happening, something I really don’t want to be a part of.”
He listened to her describe the city and took it in. He was unable to really picture it mentally. Ateo was a somewhat traveled, but he’d never seen anything like that, deep down, Ateo was an extremely simple man. At the end of the day, he’d like to have been spending his life with family, perhaps working and watching his kids grow. He was never one to go off and seek exotic places and sights.
“Sounds. Memorable. I myself was mainly raised in shacks and hovels.”
Once again Vel snickered lightly and uttered a short but not completely honest apology. It wasn't he fault he was so damn interesting! For a while they continued to ride and chat casually, about nothing of any real significance at all.