A master thief has many hidden talents and this one was no exception. No one had ever seen The Jay in person and lived to speak of them again. Or so they all said despite it being rather untrue. In a land torn apart by greedy kingdoms demanding more and more of their people and their fellow rulers, it is no wonder that some royalties are long lost along the way. It is said that The Jay is a member of a fallen kingdom. That upon the destruction of their home, they retaliated by becoming a master thief of the riches of all the kingdoms. Some say The Jay is just a terrible vagrant who should be captured and put to death as soon as possible.
Despite what people may believe of the motives behind the Jay’s actions, one thing is certain. You know when the Jay visits for they leave their mark, a blue feather, in the place of what they have stolen or at every successful escape made. But what if the Jay steals something already stolen? What is the value of a life vs treasures immense? While usually thieves would steal gold, jewels, and precious heirlooms, this thief stumbles upon something more important. It would mark the first time that The Jay has stolen a human being from their kidnappers. But after you steal someone from someone else, what do you do with the person? Especially if they happen to be far from home and bear a royal crest.
You don't have permission to post in this thread.
His willingness to take over and run both horses if need be was something she had not expected, but came across as rather sweet, considering. She found herself with a small partial grin before reminding herself who was speaking and who she was. It had just come across as something someone else…would have said.
[b “I’m sure I can hold my own. Perhaps you won’t even be able to keep up with me, Jay. There’s nothing like riding with an arrow in your ass to make you realize you can ride no matter how injured you become. But..that is a story for another time for sure. You are correct though, these fellows are looking for a redheaded injured woman…I just hope the rouse of nobility will keep them at bay of questions.”]
Alabaster watched the city go about their day as they reached the gates, surprised to see no guards there, but figured that maybe the Jay had an idea of when the place was patrolled. They crossed into the countryside fairly easily, considering. Though his response to her question about the hatred he felt made her even more curious. Then again…many people had been hurt by the usurper king and his chosen group of nobles, some of which were unsavory before his rise to power.
[b “Jay it is. That works rather well, Sir Jay. Though it still sounds quite strange, it will make more sense. Neither of us can give the full reasons, then. But at least the drive you have to seek out this revenge will work in my current favor. But perhaps my own reasons are not as hidden as you believe. Revenge is a powerful motivator, even on behalf of someone else.”]
She figured she would play more on the idea that she knew Ally. At least for now. She was not lying really, the noble that Daxis knew was not the soldier Alabaster became that night..so many years ago. Seeing the field that the Jay pointed out, and yet again with his words on someone knowing him and not minding…it made her chuckle softly to herself. He was full of surprises, it seemed.
[b “I will follow you as far as our ride goes then, so as not to stray into any part of the field that may be in use. I would hate to mess up the lives of common folk, even if it would suite the lift of the current Breninneidre nobility quite accurately. I hear their common folk suffer badly under the new reign.”]
She patted the neck of the chestnut mare as they paused by the field, thinking a moment over naming the horse. It was uncommon was it? She wondered how much the beast had seen in her life. If maybe there was some great past haunting the horse that would never be told. For now, she would wait and judge for a good name. One that suited her.
[b “Right…I will see about a name as we travel. And I believe we are ready…as ready as I will ever manage to be, given the circumstances. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you if it is too much for me to handle. We’ll give them a good run, and then head to their warehouse.”]
Aldis caught the hesitation in Ruby's voice when she made her decision about running the horses. He knew she was worried about her injuries, and it would be highly uncomfortable to say the least. He hated having to do this, but it was necessary to pull off their ruse. Still, he would keep an eye on her while they were running the horses to make sure she was okay, and would stop them if needed. He decided to say something about her hesitation.
[b "I understand your hesitation. Unfortunately, it is necessary for us to pull this off. Your injuries are going to make riding uncomfortable. From my understanding though, you are a strong woman, a soldier. I know you've likely had worse injuries than this, and will fight through it. I will, however, keep an eye on things. If it gets too uncomfortable, I can run the horses while you rest. The last thing we want to do is aggravate the injuries so much that they become obvious to observers. Looking tired is fine. Looking injured, especially when they're looking for a woman that has injuries, is not a good idea."]
He continued to lead the way to the gates, continuing at the corner where he would have turned to go to the place that they had stored Ruby. It was still a short ride to the gate, but now they were on the path that lead directly to their destination. The field just outside of town would work quite well for running the horses. As Aldis had done this before, the town guard would not think anything of it. The man that farmed the field also didn't mind if he did not have anything planted .
He observed the people as they rode past them, some looking slightly surprised to see a fully armored soldier and a noble. Most, however, paid them no mind, instead hurrying about their day. They fortunately passed no town guards in their ride towards the gate, which meant that there was nobody to question them. Well, that worked out for the best. The guard would have prodded for details, and Aldis knew they'd not pass for who they said they were going out. Now if they passed guards on the way in, that was less of a problem.
Aldis sighed when Ruby asked him about his motivations for wanting revenge on Breninneidre. He knew it would come up eventually. He had to come up with something, because it was a valid question. Why would The Jay, a thief, be so willing to work with a soldier in order to accomplish his goals? That seemed like a sure way to get himself arrested, yet he was willing to risk it. He couldn't very well tell her the whole truth. That would not go over well, and she didn't need to know who he really was. He was doing this for Daxis, the man that he had failed. Well, he could tell a partial truth without giving too much away. That was the best he was going to be able to do.
[b "You may call me Jay, that is acceptable. It's much shorter than saying 'The Jay' and much more pleasant than calling me 'That Thieving Bastard.' Your question is a valid one. I can understand wanting a little more information. I cannot give you my full reasons. That would reveal far too much about me, and I'm certain you don't want the same questions aimed at you. Just know that my stake in seeing Breninneidre suffer is personal. Nadine and Corone have caused far too much suffering and need to be taken down in any way necessary. I am more than willing to work with a soldier and risk arrest in order to do so."]
The two of them passed through the gate, again not encountering any guards. Aldis figured it was around the time they would be changing shifts, so they had somehow timed that just right. As they cleared the city wall, Aldis pointed to a field on a hill across from them.
[b "That is our destination. I know the one that farms that land. He will not mind us running the horses. He has not yet planted and the ground is clear of anything that could injure the horses. We will have plenty of space over there and can run the horses a few times to get them properly tired. Perhaps riding your horse will give you inspiration for her name. It's not often that Jude has a horse that he can't name. Aramis here was actually named by his previous owner."]
Of course, the previous owner of Aramis was also the current owner, but Ruby didn't need to know that. He had indeed named Aramis himself, and Jude had agreed that it suited him.
Aramis continued to lead the way to the field, stopping at the edge of it.
[b "Well, here we are. Are you ready for this?"]
Alabaster couldn’t help the chuckle at his further explanation of someone being stuck in a treasure room. It was a light chuckle, but there. The Jay had a point, as she could attest to it being true, what with the strangers she had kept for company.
[b “I can say, from experience, being a treasure in a room of treasures is a terrible experience. The lack of food and the disrespect…and the bruising. It really is a terrible way to get around, if I’m to be completely honest.”]
She looked down a moment, almost forgetting who she was. Where she was. Who she was with. For just a moment, she felt like she was comfortable with this stranger…but it soon went back as she remembered what was going on. With the hoses saddled and ready, she waited, hearing Jude’s departing words and preparing for the worst part of the journey thus far.
[b “Yes, thank you, sir. We will indeed return the horses. Take care…”]
Alabaster called after him, before turning the horse slowly to follow Aldis’ lead. Every motion sent a sharp pain straight to her ribs and her aching muscles. She bit down hard as she tried to keep up, giving her a sour expression that would suite them well when they caught up with the soldiers. Still, Aldis words made her groan just a little bit.
[b “We do need to run them, yes. They must look at least a little tired. If not ridden. However…”]
she hesitated, her words were cut short as she tried not to seethe too loudly under them. She was going to admit she didn’t know if she could stomach the run around. But it needed to happen. Much like a training exercise. Shaking her head, she pulled her horse alongside his.
[b “No…nevermind. We need to make sure they look out of breath. Much like we will be. Tired and disheveled”]
She admitted, not about to tell him how bad it hurt. Was she a damsel? Or a soldier. A soldier all the way. Alabaster would let him lead, as she didn’t know where they were headed. She watched the buildings pass. Some people taking note of them, but moving quickly.
[b “Jay….Do you mind if I call you ‘Jay’? ….You seem to have great interest in taking vengeance on Breninneidre. I know, it is not my place to ask for details…but your reasons must be pretty heavy if you feel safe teaming up with a Marvay soldier to see them suffer. That’s quite a bit of bravery…for a thief.”]
She knew inquiring may reflect on her own interests, but the silence was not helping her ribs hurt any less. She needed the distraction more than anything else as they made their way towards the gate.
Aldis shuddered when she mentioned a grandmother with a cast-iron skillet. Oh, he had been chased down when he first moved into town. The little old lady that lived next door had made sure that he would eat, and if he didn't, he would be in a world of trouble. When he was beating himself over Daxis' death, she threatened him with the skillet. He knew it wasn't an idle one. She very obviously knew how to use that thing.
He had to laugh at her response to his joke. A little banter was something he could never resist.
[b "Well, not where I'm from they don't. People tend to not like being kept in a room full of treasures, oddly enough. I've never quite understood why, as it seems an ideal place for one with plenty of pockets."]
Aldis noticed Ruby's face didn't seem to agree with his confidence when he mentioned it. Well, he had defied greater odds than this. It was a long shot, sure, but it was doable. He would keep his own optimism, as he had learned over many years that his instincts were usually quite good. The opposite was true for his instincts, as well. If he got a bad feeling about something, there was usually a good reason, and he would avoid that thing.
He watched as Ruby moved to the horse, inspecting it again and making sure everything was ready to go. He watched as she inspected the saddle. He had a small smile on his face when she complimented Jude. The man always did excellent work, which was why Aldis would have trusted Aramis to his care even if he hadn't been the man that he obtained the horse from in the first place.
[b "I do hope that I will see you both return here safely. Jay, I have saddled up Aramis for you as we discussed. I had a spare caparison that just so happens to be from Breninneidre from back when I sold horses to them. It will help with the ruse. Now, if both of you are satisfied, I will bid you safe travels,"] Jude said, turning to return to his living quarters.
[b "Thank you, Jude. We shall return the horses in the same condition that we received them,"] Aldis said.
[b "See that you do,"] Jude replied as he walked away.
Aldis watched as Ruby got herself into the saddle. He was going to offer to help, but he knew she would likely refuse. She seemed to proud to accept his help with getting on the horse, and the last thing he needed was another misunderstanding caused by his noble upbringing. They didn't have time to work another one of those out at the moment.
Once she had gotten herself onto the horse, Aldis mounted Aramis, patting the horses neck as he did so. Aramis was certainly eager to get moving, as he let out a snort that seemed to imply that he was getting impatient waiting for the humans.
[b "I'm sure our friends will be shocked to see us. Should we give the horses a bit of a run before we go? Remember, we do want it to seem as though we rode here from a long distance. If so, there is a field outside of the city gates that would be perfect for running the horses a few times. They would be properly winded, and would have some dirt kicked up as well."]
Aldis touched his heels to Aramis' side, and the horse started forward. Regardless of Ruby's decision on whether they should run the horses first, the gate and the warehouse were in the same direction. There would be a spot where they'd have to pick a direction, but it gave her a few minutes to decide what she wanted to do.
Alabaster tensed a bit when the Stable master shared that he was looking forward to Nadine going down a peg. Just how much had the thief told the man? Could he really be trusted? She had to believe that or else it could lead to trouble. Then again, she herself did not do the best job at hiding her true identity, as it were. No one would believe a noble woman checked the hooves of a horse, that was for sure.
[b “Oh, down a peg indeed.”]
She muttered the words under her breath. She was surprised the horse had no name yet. She would need to work with the beast to properly name her, for sure. To think that the stable master hadn't found one yet made the nature of the horse unpredictable. Probably for the best, actually. Alabaster was unpredictable herself.
Standing back with The Jay, she looked over the man, in his armor. She would be putting a lot of trust and faith in this complete stranger who she hadn't even known his face. How odd. Usually she worked with people she knew would die for her, and her for them. And they had. They had died for the mission she was trusting to a known criminal. Shaking her head slightly, she sighed.
Alabaster gave a half grin to his explanation of who was loyal to him and why. It reminded her of the common folk back home. How she could walk among them when her fellow guards could not. Being born and raised for many years in the slums, she knew how powerful the simple folk of a place could be. No one knew all the holes and cracks of a town better than it's beggars and miscreants.
[b “A horse is indeed a valuable asset. As is the love of the common folk. Sometimes there's nothing more frightening than a grandmother with a cast-iron skillet. Or an old man with a cart and donkey. Fearless, the hard working people are. And stubborn, as they have to be. Surviving life in those conditions is not easy. It isn't kind, like nobility.”]
She had trailed into memory, before realizing what she was saying and bit down on her lower lip with a chuckle. His joke had brought her back to the present.
[b “Really? And here I thought people often stored humans in their treasuries.”]
She poked back, with fake astonishment. She turned her attention to Jude, though noted the Jay's optimism with a raised brow. He was so sure. So sure that he and herself could pull off what her team of soldiers and a carriage could not. In a suit of armor and a dress…fake orders and a little luck. Sure…
Alabaster wasn't thinking about her actions as she moved slowly to her horse, checking the tightness of the saddle and bridle, making sure things were fastened right. She was more concerned about the job than about the look of the outfit, though once satisfied, she stepped back to take in how it would suite her needs. The saddle her horse had been seated with was clearly meant for a woman, being crossed over with two stirrups on one side instead of either to allow her to ride side-saddle. It would do. In her dress.
[b “Absolutely stunning work. Well done, sir. It will suite our purposes most appropriately. I hope to return her in the same condition, of course.”]
She was way too much a soldier, for sure. Still, Alabaster dreaded what would need to happen next. The riding part would not be painless even on a regular journey. Much less one with her middle all bruised like it was. Figuring nothing would make it any more enjoyable, Alabaster moved to mount the horse, taking a deep breath. The pull needed and the strength used to get herself atop the beast made a grunted noise and seething slip past her lips, trying to situate herself and wanting to scream from the agony of her body, but she tried to focus, as a soldier would, and regained emotional control.
[b “Right then….I guess we should go meet our….er….[I ‘friends'] at the place you and I crossed paths.”]
she meant the storehouse, needing him to lead the way as she had not been able to really see that night
Aldis could tell that Ruby had some knowledge of horses. That was to be expected of a soldier. He watched as she examined the beasts, very obviously making sure they were up to her standards. He knew they would be. Jude was the best at what he did. He had been the man that he had gotten Aramis from, after all.
He couldn't hear what was being said, as he was too far away with Aramis, but could read lips a little. Thus, he was able to piece together the conversation that was occurring between Ruby and Jude.
[b "It is no trouble at all, my lady. I owe The Jay a favor, and am simply paying him back. Let's say I am also a bit interested in seeing Nadine get taken down a peg. So if this is all I need to do to get out from my debt, I'll gladly do it."]
Jude watched as the woman looked over the horses, quite obviously inspecting them. He knew she would find everything in order. He only dealt with the finest horses, and took great pride in his work. It's why his horses had once been the choice of royalty, namely Daxis and his personal bodyguard, Aldis, the man that was now standing by his own horse.
He understood the reason for Aldis doing what he did, and approved of it. He was honing his skills, hoping to eventually get to Nadine and Corone. Aldis had asked Jude to keep his secret, and he certainly would. He had taken a quick liking to the boy when he had met him a few years ago, and had only grown more fond of him when he had arrived in Itcliffe. The two now called each other friends.
The woman traveling with Aldis was a mystery. She seemed familiar, somehow, but he couldn't place it. It was also quite obvious, based on her seeming knowledge of horses, that she was not just some noble woman, as they tended to just take whatever horse was the most expensive. Jude knew it was likely a disguise of some sort. Well, best not to ask for details. She had seemingly settled on a horse, a beautiful chestnut mare.
[b "Aye, she'll serve you well, that one. I haven't given her a name yet. I can come up with none that seem to suit her. Perhaps you will have better luck. I will take her and saddle her up, along with Aramis over there for Jay."]
Aldis moved as Jude approached him again in order to take Aramis and saddle him up. As the man took the horses off, Ruby returned to his side. He leaned up against the wall, waiting for her to speak.
[b "My connections can be quite useful. I usually am not the type to ask favors, but Jude was somebody that I knew I should have in my pocket. A horse when I need it is a valuable tool, and Aramis is certainly a fine beast. The beggars choose to be loyal to me of their own free will. I do not demand any sort of loyalty from them. As for saving people, you are the first. You'd be quite surprised at how rarely people store humans with their valuables."]
He couldn't resist a small quip. But what did she mean, friends? Well, that would be something he'd find out when they reached Dimault, apparently.
[b "If we do this right, we will certainly succeed. I admit, it's quite a large task, but I am confident we will be able to do this. I've got a good feeling, and I've learned over the years to trust my instincts. Ah, here's Jude with the horses."]
Aldis moved over to the newly saddled horses. Aramis had his caparison on along with the saddle, making him look once again like a bodyguard's horse. The horse seemed eager to get out and be ridden. He glanced over at Ruby to see what she thought of her new horse, which had been given a very fine saddle.
Alabaster heard a change in his tone that surprised her a little. She had expected a cheap shot at a joke to come from him at her stumble, but it did not. Instead, there was concern in his voice. It almost felt genuine, though she surmised it was probably all part of the act. Perhaps he was truthful in his ability to pretend.
[B “These injuries aren't going to make this easy, that is for sure.”] She muttered softly.
Alabaster watched the street as people went to pass by. She Had never visited this city before, and despite arriving in a bag, it wasn't so unpleasant. There was not the fear and sadness that consumed Breninneidre. Nor was there they respectful constraint that worked through Marvay. This was freedom, and she started to understand why Sir Aesop would have come here for shelter. Pulling the hood closer over her head, she tried not to draw much attention as The Jay worked over the owner of the stable.
Finally, the two men exited. The Stable owner did not hesitate to give The Jay a beautiful black stallion that did indeed hold a regal look to him. She wasn't too concerned with this, given the darkness thst no doubt the thief often traveled through. Perhaps he had worked with the horse before, as, when she glanced over her shoulder, he seemed well acquainted with it. Following the lead of the stable owner, Alabaster looked over the three he pointed out.
Though dressed as a noble, she was letting her guard tendencies slip, as she examined each horse. The eyes, the mouth, the legs, the sides, and the hooves. It was clear that these horses were very well maintained.
[b “You care for them really well, sir. I am impressed with the level you givee them. A man is only as good as his care for his animals. I am only sorry we must intrude on you like this, debt or not.”]
She thought a moment, before laying a hand gently on the nose of a chestnut mare. The horse nuzzled closer to her shoulder and she gave a gentle smile, running a hand down the beasts neck.
[b “This one will do, if it is alright by you. Does she have a name? She carries a regal air about her, for sure. I won't ask what debt lies between you and The Jay…but I appreciate your assistance. This will not be forgotten.”]
She watched the man take the horse she'd chosen as well as the one given to The Jay, going to saddle them up for sure. She returned to the thief's side, arms crossed, though managed her own two feet for a moment.
[b “You have handy connections, but I guess I should not be surprised. Between the wealth and the way you seem to like ‘saving' people, I have no doubt a lot of people owe you favors. When we make it to Dimault, you'll meet some friends of mine. Between the two of us, we just may be able to pull this stunt off.”]
Alabaster whispered the words beneath her breath. It was more than a statement. It was a prayer or maybe a wish? To be able to work everything according to plan and it all go smoothly would be a dream for sure
Aldis began to lead the way to the stables when Ruby tripped and grabbed his arm. He instinctively offered it to her properly, his noble upbringing immediately springing into action. It wasn't a slip he was ever going to be able to help. A lady tripping would certainly have him checking on her well-being.
[b "Are you okay, my lady?"] he asked, a note of concern in his voice.
He allowed her to keep her hand on his arm, something that would also help them look more like the roles they were playing. After all, an officer of his rank wouldn't allow a lady to walk unescorted. If she questioned it, he could just play it off that he was playing the part of the officer and escort, as well as claiming it to be Aesop's teaching.
The two continued their journey to the stables, with her hand on his arm. He found that he rather liked it there. Upon arrival, she let go and put her back against the wall. She motioned for him to go inside, which worked just fine for him. It allowed him to actually speak to the stable owner.
Aldis entered the stables, finding the owner immediately. While seeming shocked to see a fully armored soldier, Jude Marshall didn't let that enter his voice.
[b "Greetings, how may I serve you?"] the man asked.
[b "No need for formalities, my friend. It's Aldis,"] Aldis said, putting the man at ease.
[b "Aldis? Why are you in your armor?"] Jude asked, approaching him.
[b "It's a long story. Suffice it to say, I may be getting my revenge on Nadine and Corone sooner than thought. I need Aramis saddled and his caparison put on. Then I'll need a second horse for my companion out there. Please do not tell her my identity. She cannot know who I am."]
[b "I will keep quiet about your true name. What's our alibi? I'd imagine you are here as The Jay, hence the face covering?"]
[b "You would be correct."]
[b "I owe you a favor then. Two horses to get out from your debt seems a fair trade, though we both know there's no actual debt, as Aramis is your horse and I want to see Nadine taken down just as much as you do."]
[b "Thank you, Jude. When I return, I will have to buy you a drink."]
[b "Aye. That you will. Now, let's go get your lady friend a horse, shall we?"]
The two of them exited the stables, approaching Ruby where she stood. Jude was the one to speak up.
[b "So, The Jay has told me what the situation is. I owe him a favor, so will loan you two horses of my finest breeding. The black one there is the one you'll be riding, Jay. Miss, do you have a horse here that catches your eye? You'll want one of the three over there."]
Aldis casually strolled over to Aramis while Jude was talking with Ruby, the horse meeting him halfway and lowering his head towards Aldis.
[b "Hello, old friend. I need your assistance again. We may finally get a chance to avenge Daxis to some extent."]
The horse snorted as Aldis put his hand on the side of his head to stroke him. He watched the interaction between Ruby and Jude as he petted Aramis. Jude would saddle him up after he helped Ruby decide on a horse that would suit her needs.
Alabaster had to think for a moment as he gave the suggested name. Betrothed ? Of Corone? Thepoor woman.
[B “Of course. The bastard would be betrothed to one woman while seeking another. More than likely, had Prince Dominic not won the Princess of Lloyd's effections, he would have made his current betrothed a concubine and married into royalty. The bastard.”]
She breathed out the last words before sighing softly. She straightened, off the doorframe to stand taller and winced several times while doing so. This mission was not going to be easy in any sense of the word.
[B “Lady Rothwell. It will do. I've not heard the name before now, but that just makes it more perfect. Especially if she is as near to Corone as you say. I wonder..sometimes..what makes women choose men like that. Slimy weasels with no sense of honor…rank, maybe? Or respect? Maybe money, I guess. She must have been desperate or stupid to tie herself with a wannabe royal. Corone would jump at any chance to raise his status to true royal blood.”]
Alabaster watched him go to leave, looking around he house once more as he stepped out first, followed by herself. How she wished she could stay. Despite her rank and her duties, it had been nice to reside in a home where she could breathe and relax. Se would have to return here, when her task was done.
The fact that he had a stable in mind was helpful. Trying to be mindful of where she was walking and how, alabaster snagged a cloak off the hook by the door. It would make their story look more real and she would have to come back to return it to Aesop later. A token of reunion maybe? She was sure he wouldn't mind.
[b “It would be odd for a Lady to ride without a cloak. I shall have to return it to Sir Aesop when this is all done. Don't worry, Jay. I Am not one to steal, that is your game. As for the horses…I hope you are right and we can get them from this person you know. It should not surprise me, I guess, that you would have many friends here. You could make a ton with the loot that you manage to bring back.”]
She watched him lock the door and pulled the hood of the cloak up over her head. There was no need to gather onlookers before they would spring their plan into action and her bruised and beaten face would get attention they did not need. Alabaster started to walk behind him, but after almost tripping on the edge of the gown, she reached out and took hold of his arm, almost instinctively. Her ribs hurt fierce and she clung to the Jay a moment before walking by his side instead.
Despite a growl of irritation, Alabaster kept a hand on his knight-looking arm as they made their way to the stable. Upon arriving, she let him go and moved to rest her back against the wall, motioning him inside to deal with needing the beasts as she wasn't about to follow him and draw unneeded attention. He had to retrieve them himself
As he was getting his armor on, Aldis could hear Ruby speaking at the top of the stairs. Yes, a run in with Montwin, if that's what one could call it. The man was a thorn in Aldis' side. Though if all went well, he would be removing the man from his station permanently at some point. After all, he had been one of the people that had been at the execution of the rightful rulers of Breninneidre. He had been the one to actually capture Aldis and Daxis.
He caught the near slip of information that she had given. He did not pry, but knew that she was hiding something. He had no idea what, but it sounded as though she had personally had a run-in with the man, herself, and held a personal grudge against him. Well, considering she was likely far more important than she let on, it shouldn't surprise him.
He headed up the stairs after donning the helm, running into Ruby near the top. She looked him over, quite obviously sizing him up and making sure he looked the part of a soldier. He knew he would, as it was who he was before all this. A royal guard, an officer of Breninneidre, personal bodyguard to Daxis.
He wondered what she was thinking, as it seemed as though a thought occurred to her, but was brushed off. Her comment about him looking decent enough did get a chuckle out of him though.
[b "Decent enough? The armor does fit me quite well, doesn't it? Strange how that works, really."]
Her question about name suggestions made him pause. Could that really work? He had one come to mind, and if he was right, which he knew he was, it would work very well, and also justify why she had such a high ranking officer with her rather than a standard guard. As much as he loathed the name at this point, it would serve their purpose.
[b "I have one name that I believe would work well. Catherine Rothwell, betrothed of Corone, the 'prince,'"] he said, venom dripping from the last word. [b "She is almost never seen in public, as Corone prefers to keep his trophy hidden away. You're the right age, and almost nobody knows what she actually looks like. It would also justify you having such a high ranking officer with you rather than a normal bodyguard. The odds that these men have ever seen her are zero, but they have certainly heard of her. That'll terrify them."]
He began moving towards the door of the house, doing a mental check of his person for things that he wouldn't want to lose if his house were to be lost. He had everything. It was time for them to move out.
[b "Right. Horses. Luckily, I actually know of a place that we can get a couple. The owner of the stables owes me a favor. He'll gladly part with two of them to be out of my debt. Fine beasts, the horses he raises. They'll suit our purposes well."]
What he was not saying was that one of the horses was actually his from Breninneidre. Aramis was the same horse he had ridden from the city after the uprising. The owner of the stables knew of Aldis' true identity, and had agreed to keep the horse for him. Aldis made sure to visit every couple of days to spend time with Aramis and ride him. Aramis' saddle and royal caparison were also kept at the stables. That would be hard to explain away, but he would think of something.
Aramis himself was a fine horse indeed. From the best breeding, he stood at 16 hands tall. The horse was entirely black, which made Aldis in his light colored armor stand out, even from a distance. Aramis was incredibly intelligent, with a bond to Aldis that sometimes bordered on supernatural. The horse seemed to know what Aldis wanted him to do without Aldis needing to do anything. Their connection was not supernatural, but it wouldn't hurt to let people believe that. Aldis had taken a lot of time to form a strong bond with Aramis.
Leading the way out the door, he locked it behind Ruby after she exited. This could well be the last time he saw the house. Still, it would be worth it if he could get revenge for Daxis.
Staying at close to the top of the stairs, she spoke out loud, calling down to him without turning her head much. She was a stranger, after all. Soldier or not. He knew of Montwin…he even spoke as though he had met the man. The joke he told made her chuckle softly.
[b “You sound as though you’ve run into Montwin before, yourself. You describe him very well indeed. You know he had the nerve to…Ah….He came to Marvay to see the king even after the…uprising.”]
Her words froze in her throat and changed, suddenly very aware that she had started a sentence she should not be saying. Just trying to think of a way to explain Montwin coming to Marvay and having the nerve to ask for her to join him on a stroll….The very memory sickened her, and The Jay had no reason to know of it. .
Alabaster returned to mulling over the names of different nobles. She had to find one people would know, but not well enough to have run into. It was difficult….The Jay had stolen from many a noble. Perhaps he had some idea. Without looking down the stairs, she continued to speak loud enough to be heard. Though she had leaned on the wall beside the door to the basement itself.
[b “Tell me, Thief, in your travels, have you come across a noble with a name I could steal for the night? You seem to have had a lot of victims….and a lot of them seem to have been Breninneidre Nobles. It would need to be one of the King’s court, though lesser known. Someone he’d trust with a mission like this.”]
She heard footsteps, heavy ones, coming up the stairs before The Jay appeared. Her eyes scanned over the armor as she pushed herself, with a wince, off the wall to move forward and slowly circle the man, inspecting every detail. It surprised her, how well everything seemed to fit. As though it was made for him. But…then as she looked over it again, The Jay was about the same height as Sir Aesop…maybe a half inch taller… She was sure of it.
[b “You look decent enough. We should get going. We can mull around with names while finding horses to suit our tastes. They will need a good ride around before we come up on the soldiers as to make it believable that we just arrived at the fastest of paces.”]
Despite her words, her footing was unstable and it made her curse..which would have probably been deemed unladylike in the most horrid of fashions. It made her sigh slightly. The pain would make this difficult if anything went wrong.
Aldis knew that Ruby had found his knowledge of Ally strange, but it was also obvious that she was refraining from asking questions, as it would lead to him asking his own questions of her. He did want to know how she knew Ally, but would not ask. Instead, he chose to focus on her comment about the dagger that she had found in the crate.
[b "Gaudy it may be, but a blade is better than none at all. It also belonged to a noble, so it will fit right in should it happen to show."]
He paused when he saw her hitch up the skirt and place the dagger on her thigh. He couldn't help but focus on her exposed leg. He wasn't sure why it caught his eye, but after a few moments he managed to pull his eyes away.
[b "Though with the dagger there, it's not likely that anybody would ever find it. Unless of course you plan on lifting your skirt for any reason. It would create a reasonable distraction though in a pinch."]
Aldis was not surprised that Ruby knew of Robert Montwin. The man's reputation stretched far and wide. A horrible person, with manners that made even beggars cringe. The man thought he could demand loyalty from everybody he came across, and had been that way even when he was of a lower rank than Aldis. He despised the fact that Aldis had disciplined him several times for being insubordinate. It seemed as though he was enjoying actually having some form of authority, even if it was entirely undeserved. Aldis felt the need to make a joke, even if it did get her questioning him a bit more.
[b "The man has always been that way. I am of the opinion that he was raised by farm animals, but I think I have seen swine with better manners than him. Though as you said, it is unlikely the men have ever seen Montwin, and therefore should not question it."]
Aldis listened to her trying to pick out a name. He recognized the name that she gave, but it wasn't one that would work anymore. It would draw too much attention. He was about to offer her a name when she glanced at the armor, then him. She left him to change after that.
He gave the armor one more check before he began putting on the padded clothing that went under the armor. The uniform wouldn't be needed, as the armor wouldn't be coming off. If it did, he would have to take off his helm, and he did not want to do that. His face needed to stay hidden.
The heavy plate armor was put over the top of the padding. The armor itself was a polished silver, almost white, with intricate gold designs. At the shoulders, he attached a cape that would trail behind him and denoted his rank. The man he was impersonating had taken his old rank, conveniently enough. It was still the appropriate look.
The sword was placed into the belt, it's polished black scabbard making the gold accents stand out even more. With that, the armor was fully in place. He stood for a moment at the bottom of the stairs, helm under his arm. He ascended the stairs, donning the helm as he did so. It fully covered his face, except for a slit near the eyes and a narrow slit going down from that to the bottom of the helm to allow him to breathe. It was enough that he knew Ruby wouldn't be able to get a good view of his face.
He paused in thought for a couple of moments. He had never expected to wear this armor again. He had to again shake of the thought that he had failed his best friend.
[b "Don't worry, Daxis. I will get revenge on that bastard Nadine,"] Aldis said quietly.
His knowledge of Ally…was personal? How could that be when she had never met him? So many questions she could not ask, as she would not be able to answer the ones offered to her. It was clear that, no matter how ‘personal’ his business with Ally was, he had never met the girl. Never met Alabaster. Herself. Or he would have seen through her reuse right from the start.
She refrained from commenting more on the Noble….the Noble that didn’t exist. How did a common thief know of her? Of the pin and it’s meaning? How did he know Daxis? Trying to put it aside for now, needing to keep up her secrets, she listened to his words on the Crate that would hold the dagger she needed. Looking and sifting through the contents, she found it.
[b “It’s a little gawdy for my taste, but will suffice until I retrieve my own back from those soldiers.”]
She looked through the many pieces in the crate until finding a leather strap. Lifting her foot to the crate, with difficulty, she hitched the skirt up with a grunt, not minding the stranger in the room as her leg was bared, and tied the dagger to her upper thigh. It was where the other usually stayed.
Hearing his reassurance of his ability to play the role made her sigh slightly. Their roles should be reversed. She should be the guard and he would play a noble. Hah. A thief as a noble…that would be the day. His arrogance and sarcasm would have him beheaded quickly.
[b “As long as you’re sure. I’ve been a co….I’ve been around the commanding officers for a while. If you need any pointers, I could give you some tips.”]
Another almost slip left her lips. She lowered her leg, with a loud grunt and let the skirt slide down into place, feeling the leather strap hold and stay in place as she moved slowly back and forth. It felt better to have something there again. Though the thing were bound in painted leather and had an emerald on the gold twisted hilt. It was no doubt not supposed to be used for fighting.
The consideration turned to their aliases….another alias on top of the one she already had. Hearing his decision, it made her look up and blink at him a moment. She tilted her head just slightly, looking over him from head to foot before scowling a little and shrugging.
[b “It’ll do. You’re a little shorter than that piece of scum, but I doubt any of the soldiers have actually seen the man before. He doesn’t like to perform much, unless trying to flaunt the power he has to the kingdoms across the land. Montwin….thinking he can just waltz into Marvay and demand loyalty. Tsh…That man has the gall of a Seagull and the manners of a pig.”]
It occurred to her then, as to why he would know the name. Perhaps he’d stolen from the man before? Maybe he had taken something precious..it would serve that rat right. She didn’t ask him, thinking the answer would be the same no matter what..and he had asked her not to ask. Finally, stretching her own mind back to the Nobles of Breninneidre. It was useless as she had met so many and paid them no mind. If only Dom were there….or maybe Sir Aesop would have known.
[b “I believe I remember there being a Noble house of Breninneidre with the surname of Peregrine…But I met the nobles only before the fall of the Royal House. I am not sure if the name still holds any value. Perhaps we can avoid using a name that would stand out to them for me…I did not spend much time in the way of The Ladies of the court as it were.”]
She looked at the armor, then at him…was he waiting for her to leave? Naturally…of course. She walked towards the doorway, though more so hobbled, as she tried to force herself to look more natural in her walk. She wouldn’t be allowed to show that she was injured in front of the soldiers or they would know something was wrong.
[b “I will leave you to prepare…and then we will need to see to horses. Ones we can run a bit to make them look winded before we confront the soldiers.”]
Alabaster did not wait for his approval, making her way up the stairs that were a challenge, having to stop now and then to breathe and let the pain subside before continuing. This was going to be a difficult mission to complete indeed.
Aldis breathed an internal sigh of relief when she didn't question his attachment to the pin or his desire to meet Ally too much. That would have led to some questions that he didn't want to answer yet. She really did not need to know his true identity.
[b "I thank you for not pressing the matter. My knowledge of Ally is rather a personal matter. And with all that she has been through, I am not surprised that she would have changed."]
As he eyed the blade, making sure it was still in good condition, he noticed that she had managed to find herself some jewelry to wear. She was quite obviously uncomfortable with wearing such things, but it was a necessity. He refrained from making a comment on it. There was no need to start an argument. He did catch her comment about wanting a dagger.
[b "If you look in the crate to your left, there should be one in there. It's sheathed, so you won't hurt yourself on it. I do not need it back, as it is one that I took from somebody else. If it suits your needs, feel free to keep it."]
His own dagger, the one his father had given him, was not something he would ever give up. That would be on his person even while in the armor. It could easily be hidden well enough to not draw attention.
Aldis could feel her eyes on him as he continued to look over the blade. He had allowed himself to get lost in thought for a few moments. When she began questioning his ability to come across as a commanding officer, he felt that he had to give just a little more.
[b "I can easily fill the role that I will need to fill. That is all you need to know. Nobody will have any idea who I actually am, nor will I give us away."]
He knew that if he went too much further, she might be able to figure something out. As it is, that little bit may be enough to get questions forming in her head. He knew he was slipping a lot, but in a lot of cases it seemed to be necessary, as she needed to be convinced that she could trust him to do the job.
He put the blade back in its scabbard, then turned to the armor again. He knew he'd have to put it on, but he would not do that in front of Ruby, as he would have to remove the cowl. That would mean she might see his face, and he certainly couldn't have that. He didn't care about her seeing anything else, just that there was a risk of her seeing his face.
He paused for a moment when she mentioned names. He hadn't decided on one, but it was something he would need to do. He could likely pick just about any, as the odds of these men knowing who any of the royal guards were was slim. They would just know that he outranked them by a long shot and likely would not question it.
[b "Names will be something that need to be thought of, I agree. We could not give them our own names. Though I will not need to come up with a first name, as they will merely know me as my rank and surname. The surname I use will be Montwin. I know for a fact they will likely have heard the name, but not actually met the man. Reputation would hopefully be enough to convince them to not question this. Don't ask how I know the names of one of their officers."]
Robert Montwin had been a soldier even when Aldis was an officer. Though Aldis outranked him, the stubborn man was always ignoring his direct orders, saying that somebody of Aldis' age didn't have the experience to be in such a position, even though he was only a few years older than Aldis. The man had been promoted when Nadine and Corone had taken over, and was known to be a no-nonsense type of officer.
His aloof tone stayed dormant as he spoke. It was strange, this side of The Jay…almost familiar. The growl at her accusation…and then he asked her a question she did not expect. It changed her view of pain to one of silent shock. He knew of her…Of her by a name she was only called by one person. Questions started to form. She wanted to know why he had the pin. How he knew who it belonged to. Why he wanted to come with her to meet….well, her? Who was The Jay anyway? She hesitated, trying not to ask him too many questions as it would all go back to herself.
[b “…A thief…wanting to return an object of such beauty…and to be there when it is returned? How strange…. Your reasons are unknown to me, Jay. How you know of her and where this came from. However, it is not my place to pry. Alright…. I will take you with me into Marvay to meet her. A lot has changed her…A bit cold. And stubborn.”]
She almost, almost smiled, but did not. Watching this part of The Jay fall with a single clap of the hands made her jump herself. Ah…yes…she had a job to do and he was still the arrogant and intolerable thief. No matter his ties to the pin. Keeping the box close, she started to browse more of the collection. Finding a set of pearls, an emerald pendent with earings, and a couple large and flashy rings that would call attention to her status. Three slim gold bracelets for her wrist completed the look, though as she put them on, it made her cringe.
[b “Damn nobles and their fineries. I will never understand why they decorate themselves so pompously. It’s all annoying and gets in the way.”]
Alabaster was muttering to herself, shaking her head slightly, and trying to ignore the man who she was sure was watching her like a hawk. At the suggestion that The Jay had, in getting her a dagger she could hide, it made her gaze meet his. Interest there that could not be seen during her hunt through the jewels.
[b “A blade? I could use one. I will be giving it back once I can reclaim my own from those soldiers. They did strip me down to the underarmor, thus I lost the hidden blades I usually carry. It would be good to have in case things go south real fast. I may not be able to move as quickly without pain, but I can hold my own if I have to.”]
Alabaster watched him draw the blade from the armor set and felt the shiver follow down her spine. The blade sounded like it had not been drawn much, if nothing else for a while. Trying not to look as interested as she felt, she watched him handle it. A smirk slid onto her face as she spoke, crossing her arms.
[b “You sure you have what it takes to come across as a Commanding Officer? It’s not all sarcasm and quick wit, you know. They won’t respect you for that, for sure. I hope you have some idea of how to act and carry yourself. Now…we need to work on names. Something that will work for a Noble of Breninneidre.”]
Falling into thought again, she started to pace. Muttering to herself over different names that they could use when the guards asked them who they actually thought they were.Unfortunately, she was unaware of what names were tossed around in that country nowadays.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.