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Arkin huffed, the air exploding from his mouth sending bits of his hair flying and bells tinkling as they went for the ride. It had been a few days since his last bender, but his head still felt like he’d just woken up after drinking the tavern dry. Whether it was staring into the sun all day, or having to make conversation with such impressively dull people as the groundsmen and guards of Lord Finney, he had no idea. That and the fact that he hadn’t been able to sneak even a touch of a drink to help ease him through the experience. He smiled at the guard next to him as he looked over at the tinkling of bells. Arkin couldn’t quite be bothered to talk to him, so instead, he decided he was done here and sent him a lazy nod, ready to leave. The guard vaguely nodded back, his eyes still glazed with boredom. No-one was likely to attack the homestead of Lord Finney. He didn’t really have anything worth stealing. A few nice jewels and a lovely daughter, but that wasn’t enough to pose an issue. There were a few places near enough to the Citadel for them to need to know about. The Band had made a business of checking them once to make sure no-one was going to try and steal from them and start a territory war, and once again to make sure that they weren’t hiding any darkfriends that the Band really ought to know about. Arkin had disguised himself and vanished off to scope them out nearly a week ago, starting far out to the east and working his way back in. He’d sent others in other directions. There weren’t too many of them who were good enough to hide in plain sight long enough to get decent information out of the houses, but there were enough. That didn’t mean checking the houses was fun. Oh no, it was some of the most boring undercover work there was. Most of the time, nothing was out of sorts and you spent a day carting around some lordlings dirty washing. Some of them had taken a frustratingly long time, long enough that Arkin had nearly been making up threats just to keep his days from blurring into one another, but he was done now. This was his final house, and it was squeaky clean. Well, he thought, scanning the guard next to him. Maybe that was the wrong euphemism. The guard barely noticed Arkin leaving. The Citadel was half a day away walking at a decent speed, and Arkin had ditched his horse two days ago at the last house. The scouts kept a few rented horses at the citadel that they wouldn’t mind losing or trading away away. As much as he enjoyed the speed of traveling mounted, Arkin had never particularly enjoyed the actual act of riding, so walking home was no hardship for him. Double checking that he had all his supplies, Arkin faded into obscurity and moved through the homestead to the road that split this man’s land and the forest surrounding the Band’s. It was a big forest; impossible to get through unless you knew the way. And Arkin did. And another seven ways on top of that. As soon as he was a safe distance away, Arkin let out a happy verse of a drinking song and freed a flask from his coat, taking a healthy swallow and pausing, scrunching his face and enjoying the burn as it scorched his throat. Finally. He loved finishing jobs. Making his way down the road, Arkin didn’t bother to transition to his scout stealth and costuming until he decided to enter the forest. Maybe he could check up on the scouts on his way through. It was always a fun game seeing how long it took for them to notice him. Occasionally he stole something from the particularly unwary ones to add to his stash at camp-a tradition started by the scout leader and trainer, who told them it was worse to miss someone stealing your things than it was for someone to steal them. Arkin liked that logic. His mind clicked immediately into silence, his senses straining at the faint hint of boots and metal far to his left. He kept walking normally, his body automatically acting as though he hadn’t noticed anything even as his mind whirred into action, taking every scrap his senses were sending him and bolting them together into a coherent picture. He wasn’t alone on the road. There were armed men yp ahead. He was still too far away for them to be from the Band. Lord Finney was the only noble rich enough to have guards out here and he hadn’t sent any patrols out. He heard another impatient weight shift and the hint of a whisper, the vague impression of bodies up ahead. Bandits. There was no other explanation. Arkin didn’t exactly look like he had much to steal, but he was wearing the usual wear from Lord Finney’s, and he had very lovely boots. Bandits rarely needed much more of a reason. He stopped his body, still short of the ambush. Now that he knew what was up ahead, he had no intention of walking into it. He cursed. Should have taken the back route, he thought, reaching behind his back to loosen the knives resting there. He had been posing as a groundsman, not a guard, so he was in Finney’s colours and basically unarmed. Or so they thought. He had a plethora of throwing knives, his usual knives concealed behind his back, and a blowdart with a few choice poisons. It was going to have to be enough. He crossed everything he had that he had just encountered an advance party, or very disorganised bandits. He was still half a day away from the Citadel. If he ran into trouble, he wasn’t getting any help from home. He had come about level with the source of the shuffling noises. This was as good a place as any to have the fight that was sure to come. He wasn’t yet sure if it was inevitable or avoidable, so he started with words. He’d work up to knives if he had to. Cross that bridge when he came to it. “Any chance of you gents letting me pass? I assure you I have nothing worth taking,” Arkin called. Drawing one of his knives, he spun it around his hand. Just because he was being polite was no reason to be taken for vulnerable. He wanted them to know full well that he just wasn’t worth stealing from. Too few valuables, too much skill. “Honestly, if you’re going to ambush a man, at least don’t whisper about it on the roadside,” he added. There was a moment of conspicuous silence that confirmed his ideas of numbers-losing the noise from certain locations let him pinpoint the location of three men in the surrounding trees and hills. Three. He might be able to handle three if they didn’t all come at him at once. And they weren’t very good. He spun his knife again. “Not bloody likely,” a gruff voice called back. Arkin heard footsteps moving closer. “Now hand over your coat and boots and any money, or we take them off your corpse.” The two men from the left of the road came into view, and Arkin nodded. Right, there was going to be a fight. He slipped a throwing knife from his sleeve and whipped it to the right in one fluid movement, never breaking the spin of his other knife. There was a wet thud and a grunt as his knife slid between the ribs of the man on the right of the road. He wasn’t going to make it far out of those trees if he wanted to keep from bleeding out onto the road. “I can understand why you might want a new outfit,” Arkin told the two thickset men who had crunched onto the road a few feet away from him. He used their moment of surprise at their companion’s fall and the distraction of his words to work another throwing knife to his hand. He doubted it would work the second time, but it was worth a shot. He’d really like his numbers to be cut down to a one on one fight. That, he could probably win. These two looked like they had seen fights and come out on top, losing only often enough to earn themselves scars to match the sort of intimidating aesthetic they appeared to be going for. Arkin was more intimidated by the bloody great axe swinging off the larger one’s belt. The other man, smaller, but still solid, had a sword. Arkin really didn’t want to deal with either of them. “But I’m afraid I’m rather attached to mine.” He sprang forward, releasing another blade towards the swordsman. He hadn’t given them enough time to process his knife throwing skills, and they hadn’t backed away yet, so the man didn’t have enough time to deflect it. He did manage to dodge it a little-where it had been aimed for his throat, it hit his shoulder. Arkin hadn’t expected it to kill him, and any contact was better than none. Arkin heard it impact, but he didn’t have time to spare a glance for where it had landed while he rushed the axeman. He was hoping to get in and under his defence before he could pick up his weapon. It nearly worked. As Arkin ran in under his arm and aimed a slash at the big man’s stomach, he started to draw his axe. He spun just enough to catch the blow in the wood. Arkin spun out of his reach, leaving his knife embedded in the wood, and glancing quickly at the swordsman to see where his knife had landed. Shoulder. Good. Not his sword-arm, but still enough to slow him down. He still had a second to deal with the axeman. He completed his spin with his other knife slashing at his other side. This time it contacted, grazing across the man’s ribs. He hissed, but he’d had enough time to draw his weapon. Arkin danced out of reach his reach again, releasing another throwing knife at the swordsman, determined to keep his whirlwind momentum going. His speed was his biggest advantage. He needed to keep the pair from working together, from getting him into a position where either one of them could use their strength to defeat them. That meant constantly flitting in and out of their reach, hopefully staying too far inside it for them to touch him. The axe wouldn’t be much use in close quarters with his friend so close, and Arkin wanted to keep it that way. The swordsman cursed and batted the knife away with his sword, leaving him open for Arkin to slam a fist into his bad shoulder. That time the man yelled his curse. Arkin needed his other knife back. They were starting to get their feet back under them. The axeman aimed a heavy blow at Arkin’s right flank, and Arkin just spun out of the way, staying close to the swordsman, who leveled a blow at him. Arkin caught some of the momentum on his one dagger, enough for him to duck underneath it. For a few moments, he was ducking and weaving between blows, his body reacting on instinct before his brain had time to make any real decisions. There were a few very near misses resulting in a few shallow cuts, instant bruises from vicious punches and kicks that he sometimes had to field in order to avoid blades and an axe blow that sheared one of his armbands in two as it trailed behind his retreating form. He needed to end this, now. Slipping behind the swordsman, he slipped dangerously close and shadowed his every move for a moment, eyes fixed on the axeman, who was watching them, trying to find an opening into which he could shove his bloody monster of a weapon. Arkin earned an elbow to the stomach dodging a more vicious kick to the kneecap from the swordsman, but he let its momentum spin him away just in time to wrench his knife from the haft of the axe as it swung, using the new weapon that the axeman had forgotten he could use to slash at his throat. The man wrenched his head backwards to avoid the blow, but Arkin’s second knife slammed upwards into his gut, and he brought the first knife back down to slash a viciously deep cut into the man’s wrist as he grunted at the blood starting to stream from his stomach. He dropped his axe instantly, the hand falling limp for a moment. Arkin forgot him as incapacitated, and whipped around to dodge the blow he sensed coming from behind him. The swordsman hadn’t been idle, but Arkin had needed to end the fight. He nearly made it, but the blow destined for his neck still made contact. He’d moved back far enough for it not to be lethal, but the tip of the sword fell in the follow through and slashed through the front of his thigh. Arkin bellowed a curse, but threw himself forward as the swordsman recovered and buried a knife between his ribs, slamming his newly recovered second knife into his back as his momentum carried him by and shoved the man towards the ground. He stayed down. He wasn’t dead, but he was sure bleeding a lot. But so was Arkin. He let out a filthy stream of curses and spun around to face the two men on the ground. The axeman was coughing up blood. “If you flaming pieces of raken-bait live, and I sincerely hope you don’t, get your flaming, holey caracasses off Finney territory.” He stabbed a blood-soaked knife at the edge of the trees, where the first man he’d downed was hanging onto a branch. The man flinched. Arkin hissed at the movement, which pulled several cuts on his arm. He looked down at his arm. His sleeve was splotchy with red. He didn’t want to look at his thigh yet. “You. If you don’t want them to die, then get over here and do something, or run away like the chicken-hearted milksop you are and lick your bloody wounds in a whorehouse.” Stalking over to the two men on the ground, Arkin let his mouth reel off curses on automatic as he took back his throwing knives and retreated into the forest. They wouldn’t be following him. Cursing somewhat more emphatically, he grabbed at his leg and bit out a few choice as he leaned against a tree. He had no clue about anything medical, but he knew enough to take a shredded part of his fake Finney uniform and tie it tightly over the deep cut on his thigh to try and stop the bleeding. It wasn’t bleeding too badly, but it still didn’t look great, and he was losing blood from the myriad of other cuts on his arms. That had been a terribly difficult fight, and while he had won, he hadn’t come out of it well. But at least he had come out alive. Brightening somewhat at the return of his usual optimism, Arkin took a deep breath, calming his heart rate, and drained a flask. The walk home was long, and he didn’t bother hiding from the scouts as he passed through, though he had found his humour again by that point. The cuts hurt, sweat stinging them as he walked, his clothes stained with blood, but there wasn’t a great deal he could do about it, and it certainly wasn’t as bad as Tanchico. There was always that. He passed straight by the scouts, waving off attempts at help with a quip and a grin. The bleeding had all but stopped, and while it wasn’t comfortable, he didn’t think he was in danger of permanent injury. He certainly hoped not. He really needed to get some field training in medicine. Medics. That was definitely where he should be headed. Changing the automatic course his feet had set towards the tavern, Arkin reported his findings and his scuffle, and approached the medic’s tent, brushing away memories of Jehryn as he walked into the tent. “I’m feeling like someone in here probably has a good chance of sewing me back together?” he asked as walked in. His leg was definitely his main concern, but he knew there was a long cut on his arm that needed tending to, and a sword that had nicked his collarbone had dug into his chest a little on the way down. Nothing life-threatening. Hopefully nothing that would keep him from training. He felt exhausted, but only as exhausted as he would expect after having a fight and walking for half a day. It was only just coming on evening. He’d made good time, considering. He folded his hands behind his back and tried to bounce on the balls of his feet as he waited for someone to call for him, but winced as it shot pain through his thigh. Maybe standing still was the best call for a little while. (OoC: Sorry this took so long, and sorry that it's so long haha, I didn't know where I was going when I started it, and then that happened XD)
OOC: so this is light retro to the days after the DOTNM RP, so not retro retro but light retro...yeah ok nm you get it or not _____ Arya yawned, she had seen to Silver Arrow. The mare was still skittish after what they had seen. She was still just glad she had managed to keep the mare quiet when the flying beasts had passed overhead. Oh they had mainly been focused in the city and the lights had taken care of it, she hadn't seen the details, but a couple had managed to fly rounds out and around before circling back. She had been on duty to watch one of the gates along with some other spies and soldiers. Luckily they been well hidden in the trees, the thought had made her belly ache. She would not want to face one of those up close. It was then she heard the soldiers passing by mentioning Mehrin. She walked over and asked what was going on but there was not much they could tell her. Apparently he had been there alone. But then where was Drea? Had she been there? Had something happened to her? It was rumored Mehrin had not looked the best. Her tired mind was spinning. She tried to look for someone who would know more, but realised soon enough it was a dead end, and anyone who might know was busy. She went back to her cot and lay down, but couldn't sleep. She tossed and turned, until she suddnely sat up on bed with a silent scream from a bad dream. No, she rinsed out her eyes, she was just fantasising she told herself, but she had not been sleeping well these last few days. Maybe a walk would help. She looked out. It was dark, but she wandered until she found some fires where people were eating, sharing stories and drinking. She didn't feel like she fitted in though. She never liked it, when she was younger, that Drea drank. It made you do silly things, lose your head, but she knew many slept solid after it too. Before she knew it she had a flask in her hand going inside her vest and had walked off. She sat down alone in a glen and took it out. Should she? Her head leaned back against the stone she sat against and she looked up at the moon. Visions of flying beasts passing as shadows across it had her lifting the bottle to her mouth. The smell made her stop a moment, but how bad could it be? She closed her eyes and took a sip, swallowing before she could regret it and then started coughing. The stuff burned down her throat. She wasn't sure what it was. It wasn't in its original container but a field flask, but it smelled somewhat like some of the brown stuff she'd seen others drinking. She poured some out in her hand. Yes, it had a golden color to it. So this was scotch. Oh how she wished Drea was around! She missed talking to the woman. She'd always been someone to throw ideas off with and she was honest; she said it like it was and never treated her like a toddler. Arya looked at the bottle. Well she had said a she might as well say b, she closed her eyes and emptied her mind into the void then took a long swig of the bottle. She coughed once more, but less this time. At least she wouldn't be cold this way. She focused on breathing until the burning in her throat stopped, then lifted the bottle again taking four or five more swigs. She knew Drea used to take quite a bit before she went overboard and drowsy so she figured it would take a bit to get enough to sleep. Her head was spinning though, and everything felt blurry. She took off her jacket and lay down in the moss looking up at the stars. She looked at the bottle and giggled, "You really are evil you know that." Why was she talking to the bottle? Never mind, it was getting colder. She took another sip and felt the warmth spread down her throat and out through her body. A.D. Not knowing what she is doing