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Old 12-16-2010
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Jai_V Jai_V is offline
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Back on the Streets: A Cazen Yarn

There I lay, surrounded by darkness. How long had I been here? Hours? Days? Years? The old heads often spoke of what this place would do to a man. The indignities you suffered among the other convicts were nothing compared to the maddening sameness of being segregated into solitary confinement. Swallowed by the absence of light, huddled on the cold floor, you keep expecting your eyes to adjust. They never do. You talk to yourself, sing songs from your childhood, touch yourself, search the floor for the hole and pray to whatever God's listen that you don't sink arm-deep in it, in the process of finding it.

I fumbled with the coin I had manage to conceal and sneak in. Coins were contraband, as you could hone them to a fine edge and use them as shivs. This coin, however, was precious to me. It bore the likeness of Lady Luck, Tymora, and served as a reminder that dame fortuna favors persistence, skill, and daring.

[Quick Prison Lesson: A shiv, usually made with a razor, coin, or similarly thin piece of metal, does slashing damage. A shank, usually made with a nail, utensil, or similarly stout piece of metal, does piercing damage.]

In that time, I spent so long thinking of the past. The real past. The past I didn't share with...anyone. I remembered being a bastard whore-son in the blighted district of Neverwinter known as Beggar's Nest. I remembered when mum met Roman, the caravan driver. A smuggler, really, who would become my da, and a friend. I remember the day Roman introduced mum to his boss, and he hired her on, making books for his legit front. I always wondered how mum, an educated woman, ended up a whore in the Nest. Roman said she'd got in deep with some serious types and had to vanish. So she chose the tramps life in a place they'd never think to look.

Piss on them, whoever they were.

I could hear the clack-clack-clack of boots approaching and then the jingle-jangle of an over-burdened key-ring. The tumblers of the lock fell and parted and then, there was nothing but whiteness. The darkness abated before the light, but my eyes could not tolerate it. Clinched shut, I never saw the guards who grabbed me. I didn't care. They were my heroes at the present moment. "Up, you nerveless cur!" Two of them, at least. One at each arm. They slammed me into the filth-caked wall, my wrists bent, and wrenched my arms behind my back to manacle. A hand hooped through each arm, they escorted me (nearly drug me, really) out of the building appropriately named "the abaddon."

In this time, I tentatively began to crack my eyelids and squint out into the light. Outside of the abaddon, it was so bright and loud. I could hear the other convicts nearby busily constructing some project or another, chattering among themselves as they worked before being ordered quiet by a suddenly alert overseer. The trustees greet the guards kindly as we passed, which could only mean one thing: I was going to see the warden. My vision was improving, albeit nerve-wrackingly slow, about the time passed through the cramped enclosure known as the sally-port. Before I knew it, I was inside and going to the gassers.

The gassers serve two functions; a easy-to-clean place for an execution, or a delousing tank. Thankfully, I was there for the latter, else wise this story would continue no further. I could remember a time, not long ago, when I was praying to Dame Fortuna that they would just bump me off and get it over with. The rags that served as my clothes were practically ripped from me and I was immediately doused buckets of soapy water. The guards scrubbed me with long-handled, stiff-bristled brushes. I could now tell that one of them was a dwarf and he seemed to be garnering some sadistic pleasure in his treatment of me.

"Enjoy it while it lasts, half-sized twit."

I couldn't say it, aloud. They looked for any excuse to beat a man around here, and distracting a guard by insulting him was as good as any. So I suffered in silence for another quarter-bell until they took me, naked, to the back. The manacles were removed and I was allowed a decent towel to dry myself. Next, they returned the original clothes I had confiscated upon my arrival. That could mean only one thing: my sentence was up. Had I really spent all that time in the abaddon? It seemed almost impossible, but there was no other reason for this treatment. I exited the room, fully dressed.

I was forced into a careful search before being manacled again and seated in a chair outside the warden's office. "We'll be right out 'ere, cur. Ye jes' sit ye'self right 'ere an' wait fo' the Warden." The dwarf got closer then necessary to tell me, his breath stunk of cheap spirits and pickled eggs. And they left. When they did, I'm not ashamed to say I cried. My nerves were shot and my senses still dulled by the time in isolation and darkness. I used to pride myself on being very willful, but that day, I lacked the will to even offer the impertinence the fight-hungry dwarf was hoping for. I just wanted to sleep.

And it happened. I nodded off for a short time, having nothing to offer distraction. I was awoke by the gentle clearing of a throat to see a stately and well-appointed gnomish lady. "Cazen, I believe?" she spoke sternly, in a tone more befitting a school marm then the warden of a prison. "Come into my office, son." I entered the small room behind her, which was all very neat and tidy, with the exception of the large oak desk. Cluttered by a menagerie of documents and time-saving (or time-keeping) mechanisms, it looked as though secretarial golem had been felled there. The matronly gnome sat in a chair that rose, slowly.

"Cazen, what is your sequencing number?" she slid on a pair of spectacles and expertly picked through the documents, finding several tacked together that I was sure had all of my information, including the number she just asked for. I thought about saying as much, but I still felt too tired to argue. "017599." She read through something before asking, "And you're from?" "Neverwinter." I smartly replied. "The City of Skilled Hands, huh?" she looked over the spectacles at me, eyes sharp, "Appropriate." She thumbed through the next page. "And where will you be going after you leave us?"

Even though I waited to speak, I didn't have to think on it, at all. I had dreamed of going back there since this whole nightmare started. It was the one place that felt safe, the one place that felt right, the one place I ever felt like I was more then just a cog in some cyclopean machine. "Sundren, ma'am." Her brows furrowed and she looked a bit puzzled. "Beg your pardon?" "It's to the north, other side of Icewind Dale. Kind've a frontier municipality, if you will." he smirked at the gnomish warden, "Good place for an ex-con to get a fresh start." She nodded in return, looked down at her papers and reached for her quill.

A few practiced strokes later, she looked up at me and removed the spectacles. "Cazen, I know your type. You've been in and out of entanglements with the Law since before you were old enough to properly snatch a coin-purse. If you're truly making for this Sundren, I don't suspect we'll meet again." "No, ma'am." I said, somehow managing not to smile. "However," she continued, "I don't need to remind you that the local authorities in these frontier areas are often not nearly as scrutinized or subject to the same jurisprudence as the one's your used to dealing with. The next time you decide to play grave-robber--"

"Treasure Hunter." I corrected her. She frowned at me, soon becoming an open scowl. "Whatever you consider it, the next time you're found hocking property that belongs to a dead man, I suggest you make sure one of the buyers isn't one of their descendants. Are we clear on all matters pertaining to your restored autonomy?"

"Yes, ma'am." I said, plainly.

She signed several of the documents that had been tacked together and I did the same. She placed some form of arcane mark upon the document and had most of the possessions I had taken from me upon my incarceration returned, save for the weapons and illicit goods. And with that, I was escorted to the front gates and officially became a free man, again.
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Cazen - A guy who "knows a guy..."
- Nights in Neverwinter (Cazen History)
- Back on the Street

Thrice-Cursed Ruslan - An outcast among outcasts
- Tales of a Foolish Brother (Ruslan History)

Last edited by Jai_V; 12-16-2010 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 12-22-2010
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Dumb Luck: A Cazen Yarn

The sewer. Great. This place smells just as bad as the abaddon and is likely to get me killed. I sure hope my hunch is right. The night air is sticky and humid, as usual. Doesn't help that my hood's drawn and my cloaks practically clinging to me. This must appear very covert. Oh, hi good people of Sundren...pay no attention to the cloaked and cowled man creeping toward the sewer. I could only assume the Legion has their hands full with the wave of "rampant criminality" that's probably following this blockade. When business grinds to a halt, demands that could easily be satisfied before-hand go up. And that's where people like me come in. We acquire what you desire and see to it you're due it...for a price. Guess I'm better at that pitching then I ever thought I was. Or not. Don't lose focus, Cazen.

Lacking any real metal lubricant, it was easy to smear ointment into the hinges and works of the door. So when I opened the dampened wood sewer door, the tell-tale creak was not present. I didn't close the door completely behind me. When business started, it wouldn't matter who came knocking. Legionnaires? Hey officers, I heard these thieves were planted out here and decided to bring them in. Nobody else that could possibly show up mattered to me. I kept to the shadows, which put me uncomfortably close to the walls and their abundance of matter that either used to be food or used to be alive. The smell was even worse on the inside...enough to gag a maggot, as Roman used to say. It was dark, almost to the point that I couldn't see and then I inched to a corner and noticed a dim glow. Torches. A quick peep around showed three of them, chattering among themselves in soft murmurs. Jack-pot!

I stepped from the shadows and was greeted immediately by drawn steel. "Alright fellas, let's talk biz." They advanced slowly. "You wanna work the streets of Sundren, there's whatcha might call an administrative fee--" I dodged the first mad swipe by less then a hand-breadth. Lady's Favor, but these amateurs were fast. No finesse, but they made up for it in desire. My blade finally drawn, I managed to parry a strike from the two obvious lackeys when the boss' blade managed a good knick at my shoulder. "Alright, then!" I went on the offense, practiced strokes from my long blade, dancing at the thief on the left. Young fella, scars for weeks, bad hair cut. His short blade had a distinct disadvantage in distance and when my long blade found his gut, it bit deeply. The arching of the swing brought me right around into the one to the right. Older fella, stank like dog piss, bad teeth. The blade caught him in the neck, his head shuffling back like a chest top, and an arterial spray filled the air.

I was feeling very proud of myself until I felt the shot-caller's blade taste the flesh of my left, upper flank. Sneaky bastard. It was a good shot, too, and it might be my last to take. The next strike from him caught my buckler, numbing my left arm even more. I couldn't keep fighting him like this, and he knew it. He pressed the attack, furious stabs with the short blade keeping me on my guard. Was this how I was to meet my end? Cut down by a rank upstart in a Sundren City shit-hole? As luck would have it, he stepped in something particularly fetid and grimy. His strong-side foot almost went out from under him, but he managed to retain his balance. Mainly because the blade of my long-sword caught him just above the belly, probably managing to slide through some ribs and clean out the other side. His eyes went wide as kenku nuts as he looked down at the blade and back to me. Shock killed him before he ever slid off the blade and down to join with the other detritus.

I whistled a merry little tune as I snagged a few baubles from the fallen chumps and turned to the very dead leader. A soft sigh escaped my lips. "I didn't want to kill you, god's damn it. You could've earned twice what you filched a week workin' for the Alliance, at least!" I kicked out one of his arms and took a swipe with my long blade. The hand was cleanly severed, and I wrapped it in sack cloth before using the fabric of one of the fellas to clean my blade. I was a powerful mess after that. Vomited a couple of times, from a combination of exertion, the sewers, and the bloody deeds I'd just done. I took the hand to the seamstress as proof that our protection is the better protection. And then it was off to return the take to it's rightful place. I remembered a time when I would've rather died then stood with the likes of the very people I was about to curry favor with. Still, times, they are a-changin', no? The deed done and payment delivered, I found myself made whole again. The streets of Neverwinter, Athkala, or Sundren City, it doesn't matter.

The game never changes.
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Cazen - A guy who "knows a guy..."
- Nights in Neverwinter (Cazen History)
- Back on the Street

Thrice-Cursed Ruslan - An outcast among outcasts
- Tales of a Foolish Brother (Ruslan History)

Last edited by Jai_V; 04-02-2011 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 01-02-2011
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Everybody Plays the Fool: A Cazen Yarn

The glamour worked like a charm, if you'll pardon the poor pun. As I passed by a mirror in the Sundren Comfort, I almost didn't recognize my own reflection...for a split second. The rules were loosely defined, and all I knew was I'd decided to play a very dangerous game. If any of the others managed to make me leaving this place, you could lay stags to steins that this mouse would be thought a rat. But after the other evening, I just felt so damned useless...

A sigh escaped my lips as I mentally chided myself. "Desperate times, Cazen."

I needed a contact, and I arranged for one. Emiliana Blackwell was exactly what I expected her to be: lazy, spoiled, impatient, and self-centered. Of course, I love those qualities in a woman, because it all equals out to one thing: easily maneuverable. I tried to keep the business as tidy as possible, but the worst that could come of it is the wench betrays me and I end up in shackles, waiting for some brother or sister to come for a special visit.

"Acceptable risk."

I hadn't accounted for the possibility of Johanna being there. Of course, this worked out to my benefit. Blackwell trusts her and Johanna trusts me. That shot-caller would have to understand, biz is biz. I upheld my word to avoid the plucky wench whenever possible. I might bend knee to Lady Luck, but even I know she favors the skilled and prepared more then the fool-hearty. Besides, maybe I could work a little side-action for my trouble...if I'm lucky.

A trust-worthy, ranking Legionnaire...I grinned at the possibilities, despite myself. Given the right circumstances, I could slide her some notes on the competition. She gets accolades for doing her work and it clears up avenues for other opportunistic types to push the family business. I worked to regain focus, trying to keep a frame on the smaller picture and accomplish the necessary goals to acquire the necessary assets. I still had a long way to go.

Johanna.

Hells. What was I going to do about that girl? She knows entirely too much, and could end up vanishing if she's not very careful. And that's the problem: she's stupid-fearless. In the time between biz, I'd have to find some way to make her an asset instead of a liability. That would, at the very least, buy her some time to realize how in over her head she actually is. How do you manage to show up in Sundren and, in such a short time, piss off so many big-shots?

I grit my teeth in frustration, audibly, as I made my way to a safe place in the Entertainment Ward. A quick, sharp whistle and the glamour that made me a bearded man with long blond hair faded away like a pond's morning mist. I peek at a particularly reflective window pane and see that handsome face staring back at me. I smile, but it looks a bit incongruous. Haven't done much smiling, lately. I made a mental note to make an effort to smile more.

Everyone loves a smile.
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Cazen - A guy who "knows a guy..."
- Nights in Neverwinter (Cazen History)
- Back on the Street

Thrice-Cursed Ruslan - An outcast among outcasts
- Tales of a Foolish Brother (Ruslan History)
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