*Image property of Eksafael on Deviantart
Act 1, Scene 1: El Año Nuevo
Our story begins in northeastern Castille, in the area known as Rancho Soldano. Nestled within the far western cradle of La Selva de Fendes on the banks of the great River (the largest waterway on the continent) is the city of Altamira. It is the eve of the New Year - El Año Nuevo, as the Castillians call it - and every part of the city is celebrating in grand style.
The docks are filled with ships from almost every nation; from Avalon sloops to Vodacce caravels. As Altamira is a famous trade city, its population is always a diverse mix of local and international merchants and sailors. What makes tonight unique is the sheer number of visitors strolling around and adding to mix.
The district directly off the docks, El Paseo Largo - "The Long Walk" - is alive with activity. Parades have been the attraction here all day; closing the shops, merchant courtyards, and flea markets as people gather in throngs to participate in the fun. Tonight there is plenty of music, drinking, dancing, food, and fireworks along the city streets.
Giant bonfires can be found on almost every corner, symbolizing a fresh start for the year to come. This is especially true at La Vengaza - the local bullfighting arena - where two dozen fires have made things almost as bright as day. The daring (and beautiful) matadora, Alicia Zaneta de Lazaro, is performing here until sunrise, pitting her skills against some of the most dangerous bulls ever corralled. Fans and gamblers alike bought every seat in the stadium weeks ago, and their cheers echo for blocks around. Tonight, there is standing room only.
Gamblers and party-goers have also gathered at the Guild of San Marcos; the local branch of the Swordsman's Guild entrusted to handle matters in Castille, Montaigne, Vodacce, and Eisen. Tonight, Eduardo Montevada, the proprietor, is staging exhibitions and contests between swordsmen from all over Théah, promising an exquisite sword of Soldano steel to the winner.
And then there is the spectacle over at La Universidad de Arciniega. While having gained some notoriety since its founder and former headmaster, Alvara Arciniega, fled from the Inquisition as a heretic, it is still a place of ornate beauty. Never has this been truer than tonight. La Trinidad, the university's one hundred and fifty-foot tall cathedral, is adorned with lanterns, and each of its three separate bell towers softly tolls for the event going on below. Fortunado Alfonzo Cortez de Cordoba, a man whose commercial and money-lending interests have shaped modern Castille's economy, has spared no expense for the wedding of his only daughter to the only nephew of Master Red, head of the Moneylenders Guild and influential member of the Vendel League. The wedding is, without question, the social event of the season, and tonight reputations are being made and broken with the drop of a casual but well-placed word.
Yet, not all in the crowd are here to celebrate the New Year. The Inquisition stalks the streets in surprising force; watching for any signs of heresy. City guards too wander the streets, keeping an eye out for thieves - of which there are many - taking advantage of the crowd. A surprisingly large number of the revelers - perhaps aware of the thief threat - are armed.
Rosemonde stood in the throng in el Paseo Largo. Reyes had disappeared around an hour earlier, but she wasn't worried. He could take care of himself for a single night. Hopefully.
She had a glass of good Castillan red in her hand, strolling along the streets, musing. She heard a call go up, praying to Don Juan Kerenyi de Torres del Ussura, the patron saint of drinking and drunkards. She raised her glass, and called back, one voice among the crowd, as a great cheer went up to good Don Juan Kerenyi. She smiled, and thought of the last time she'd attended el Fiesta de los Borrachos. Good times, that. Castillans, despite their faults, knew how to drink. And make wine, she mentally added, taking another sip of her red. A vintner had been pouring glasses of his latest vintage, hoping to drum up business. She'd had to remember to drop by and snag a cask before they left.
She'd heard of the tourney at San Marcos, for a blade of Saldano steel. She decided she'd at least watch the fights, and consider entering. She began ambling that way, sipping her wine as she went. She wasn't as drunk as she'd hoped to be, yet.
Ah, well. The night is yet young. There's time to get plastered, still.
She arrived at the guildhall with another glass of wine, this one paid for. Eduardo Montevada was outside, enjoying a glass of wine himself. Apparently, the tourney had been his doing. She'd met him only once, the first time she came to Altamira. She'd gotten lost on the way to the Knight's guildhall, and settled for the Swordsman's Guild, instead.
"Hola, amiga. Lost again?" he called, spotting her. Three years prior. The man had a memory, for sure.
"Una pequeña." she giggled. The Castillan language always made her laugh, all trills and hollows. It was fun to speak. "But I'm mostly just tipsy. And how do you do, Don Montevada?" But he was already chatting with others. Ah, well. The man of the hour.
She wandered around, looking at those gathered here. Most were armed. Not unusual in Théah, but it worried her tonight, for whatever reason. She shook her worry off, and decided to check out the swordfighting matches.
"Land ho! Altamira, off the bow!"
The call from the crow's nest roused Renault from his slumber. His body protested as he heaved himself up, still sore from the last month's hard work earning his passage. But, despite its protests, he forced himself on his feet and stuck his head out of his cabin window. Indeed, Altamira's skyline was beginning to show itself as an outline against the rising sun, with many dancing lights interspersed. 'New Year's... it's been a long time since I've enjoyed myself.'
He shook his head, trying to center himself. He had to focus - now wasn't the time to get nostalgic. 'And it'll be a long time still.' Readying his few worldly possessions - a musket, two longswords, and some assorted odds and ends - Renault made his way to the ship's deck, where the rest of the crew was already hard at work preparing to dock. For his part, Renault helped with the various odds and ends necessary to docking, like getting the sails tucked away and the anchor ready to drop. Before long, just as the sun revealed itself in full over the horizon, the Kraken slipped into port, anchor aweigh.
Hurrying across the galleyplank to the dock proper, Renault stopped as he heard a familiar voice call back from the ship. "You sure I can't convince you to stay on a bit longer, boy? It's not every day a greenhorn like you proves they're worth spit in this profession." Renault turned to see the imposing figure of Captain Arvanskr, the Vendel in charge of the ship. While he wasn't as ornately dressed as one normally expected from his kind, his clothing was still clean and proper, a rarity in his line of work. "Afraid not, Captain. I have important business in Altamira - work I suspect will keep me occupied longer than the Kraken's stay."
Arvanskr grunted in response, seeming to accept Renault's sentiment. "Aye. I suppose I can respect that. Well, if we ever meet again, the offer stands, just so you know." Renault gave a wave as he headed into the dock proper, with his head low and his eyes surveying the scenery. The first thing he noticed was an unusually well-armed populace. Good - it meant he could carry his weapons and still remain unnoticed. The second was the jubilant atmosphere - Altamira was famous for its parties, and the new year was the biggest party of them all. More importantly, however, the new year was considered a time of peace and brotherhood in Castille, a time to forget your troubles and have some fun.
In other words, the exact time a snake like l'Demont would strike.
Renault pulled his cloak over his head, emerging into the Long Walk and fading into the crowd. Time to get to work...
'La Trinidad... Truly a magnificent piece of the puzzle that is Théah.' Erasmo thought as he passed the grand structure. He had arrived in Altamira a day ago and took his place among those of his order. It wasn't easy, wandering aimlessly, but the yet-to-be-ordained priest was sure that the festival would be a good way to while away the time. The sound of the bells marked a wedding of some note, something lowly peasants like him could only watch from a distance. Because of that, he moved on to another corner of the city and found a boy beside one of the bonfires. He looked somewhat scruffy, and was tossing bits of dirt into the roaring flame. Erasmo kneeled down beside the boy and pressed a coin into his palm saying, "Do not look so sullen, it is El Año Nuevo." His soft voice butchered the Castillian phrase, "Your life may be hard, but puzzles are not known being easy." His work done, Erasmo got up and left the boy to his life. Now it was time to see another sight: the jovial district of El Paseo Largo...
"Ah, El Año Nuevo, such a pretty sounding phrase; I bet there will be lots of excitement to be had here tonight." Garrett said to himself as he strolled across the Long Walk, taking in the sights and sounds of the festival, enjoying a nice glass of wine as he did. Truth be told, he had actually been in Altamira for the past couple of days now, enjoying some well deserved time off after an arduous job along Castille's northern borders; which involved taking out a bandit encampment that was ambushing merchant caravans that were coming up along the Trade River.
As he walked, Garrett realised that there was much to see and do here. Rumor spread of a Soldano sword being the prize at a tourney being held at the local Swordsman's Guild branch; and whilst the thought tempted him, he saw no use for having a third sword in his ownership at the moment, perhaps he might go to watch, and possibly make a few bets. Then of course, there was the bullfighting at La Vengaza, but the sport never held much interest in him.
He could always sneak into the wedding at La Trinidad, passing himself off as a part of the entertainment, perhaps charm one of the many no doubt female guests there with tales of his adventures; but a part of him was saying that he'd likely get thrown out before he reached the front door. So for a while at least, he'd would continue to look around, and enjoy what was on offer.
The stories of how exuberant and decadent Castille was not exaggerated. The streets were filled with people from nearly all walks of life celebrating the night away and oblivious to the wars or politics that divided the nations. Surfan didn't see anything wrong with that. Altamaria was also nothing short of beautiful especially at night with numerous bonfires lighting the city. The architecture was nothing he had seen before and neither was the people. He had only just gotten to the West, taking a caravan to Vodacce from the Crescent then another north to Castille. On the way, people gave him looks either because of his exotic features or the two swords at his belt. Either way he paid little attention to them and just went on his path.
He could see why his father and Wassif would run away from the deserts of the Crescent. This place was different but in a good way. Surfan didn't have to be worried about getting lost in the scorching sun or running out of water here. What surrounded him now was a rich land with many features for survival but also for living off of for the rest of one's life.
Surfan's mind wandered some more as he did in Altamaria. He was tired from his travels. He had walked a large amount getting to the city and now he would have to find a place to stay and if not, then a place to sleep. He poked around the inns but apparently all of them were filled with visitors for tonight's festivities. Even the dingy ones on the far sides of town were filled with party-goers. Finally he arrived at an inn, not too far from a tourney from he could make out. Apparently whoever was throwing it was offering a fancy sword. Surfan already two, he didn't need another one even if it was some sort of fancy steel.
He entered the inn and the as soon as he did, the innkeeper drunkenly staggered out of a back room. The man had a large belly with a wide, smiling face. His face was as red as a tomato even with his tanned skin. He gave Surfan a look before he spoke, apparently judging him also.
"Do you have room, sir?" Surfan asked politely. The man laughed.
"I do have a room, sir but at a cost." The man said. "100 pieces. Its a deal y'know? Some inns charge over 500 especially for tonight!" The man yelled. Surfan sighed and checked his pouch, seeing a lack of what the man demanded.
"I'm sorry, I don't have that much, sir. Perhaps I can do some chores, work off the money?" Surfan said. The man laughed once more.
"How about those swords of yours? I used to be a swordsman myself... I was deadly with a rapier!" The man made motions with his hands as if he was holding a sword. "I'll give you a room for a sword. I lost mine somewhere... I don't have a damned idea anywhere!"
"Oh, I can't give up these swords, sir." Surfan said. Then an idea came to his mind as he looked back outside to the cheering crowds of the exhibitions. "How about a Seldano sword, sir? Would that suffice?" The man's eyes widened with Surfan's proposal.
"Hell, I'll give you the damned inn! You got yourself a deal!" The man put out his hand. Surfan stared at his hand before awkwardly shaking it. In a way, Surfan secretly wanted to participate in the exhibitions to gauge his skill against other swordsmen but now he had a good reason to do it as well.
Surfan left the the inn and towards the cheering crowds. After asking around, someone pointed him to Eduardo Montevada the one in charge of the whole thing. Surfan approached the man.
"Sir, can I participate in your exhibitions?"
"Feliz Año Nuevo!" someone shouted down the street, only to be met with a loud cheer. She could hardly disagree with the sentiment. It was one of the few times people could relax as of late. Between the war and the Inquisition, things to celebrate were rare. But, for the moment at least, the war was on hold and even the Inquisition seemed to be cutting some slack. She supposed it made sense; while the Inquisition and the Montaigne as organizations were out for blood, their enforcers and soldiers were still human. Part of her wanted to see what l'Emperor's face looked like right now as he no doubt screamed at his commanders to attack, only to have every soldier respond with a drunken salute. And heaven help the Cardinals in charge of the Inquisition...
Adrianna walked El Paseo Largo, thinking these thoughts and mostly avoiding the crowds. That was the downside of the celebration: everyone was out in the streets drinking. Still, it was better than being stuck watching the multi-hour buildup to the start of the lead up to the wedding. You'd think they were Montaigne with all the formalities. But then, she supposed that was unkind. It was a wedding, a joyous celebration of the two things all Castillians hold dear: family and Theus.
Truthfully, she likely would have been enjoying herself up in the university herself a few years ago; back before...
Adrianna shook her head clear. It was El Año Nuevo and NOT the time to be thinking about such things. It was a time to cut free and relax... Despite saying that, she couldn't quite shake her troubles so easily. Instead, she cast her mind back to the book she'd been reading; back to fanciful stories of dashing pirates and evil empires in the sky. Fictional though it was, it was good to have something to think about.
Her thoughts were interrupted however when - outside the Guild of San Marcos - she walked into a person she'd not seen. "Perdóneme... she started to say sheepishly before halting in her tracks. The man standing before her was almost a foot taller than her. His hair was dark, his skin tanned, and his eyes violet; he even dressed like him. She couldn't help herself as she said "Aleister Corvus?" in her meek voice, more than a little shell shocked. He was frighteningly like the pirate out of the book.
In the end, Garrett had decided he would go and watch the fighting at the Guild of San Marcos; the sight of a duel always filled him with a little bit of warmth; reminding him of the days when he was practicing swordplay back home in Avalon, which reminded him to write a letter home soon. As he made his ways towards the Guild Hall, Garrett was almost tripped up by a woman who had walked into his left side.
"Perdóneme..." The lady said in a rather timid manner, as she was looking around for something. Garrett took a step back to see if he could spot whatever it was the lady was searching for, when he noticed the rather stunned expression on the woman's face.
She was at a least a foot shorter than Garrett, and no doubt a few years younger than he was. The lady wore a deep, dark red dress, with some sparse looking jewelry, and a elegant looking hair piece that complimented the black curly hair and hazel coloured eyes. Garrett noticed the golden cross of the Vaticine Church that hanged around her neck. For all intents and purposes, she was without a doubt, pretty.
However, only one thing escaped her lips.
"Aleister Corvus?" The lady asked in a soft spoken voice. Garrett instantly knew what she was talking about.
"Ah, another reader of 'The Aether Shanties' I take it? Whilst I would hate to disappoint such a elegant lady like yourself, I am afraid I am not the dashing pirate of the aforementioned fantasy adventure novel. I do admit that I have been mistaken for him in the past." Garrett said in a rather polite and friendly manner with a charming smile on top. He then looked around, and noticed a book on the cobbled streets. Picking it up, he saw that it was in fact a copy of 'The Aether Shanties'.
"I believe that this belongs to you Miss." Garrett said as he handed the book back.
"Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Garrett Ramirez. And who might you be Miss?" He then asked.
Altamiria was alive with laughter and celebration thanks to the New Year coming up, and Beatrice saw no reason why she should waste an opportunity to eat, drink, and otherwise be merry. And so, she stepped out of one of the many taverns on 'The Long Walk', as it was called, with every intention of popping into another and simply drinking the night away. She didn't so much as glance back at the leering men still in the tavern, simply waving vaguely back at them with her free hand, even as she took a drag from one of the many hand-rolled cigarettes she had in one of the pockets of her traveling pack.
Then she stopped, and stood right at the edge of the road that made up The Long Walk as she blew out a ring of smoke. If she was entirely honest, Castille wasn't really to her tastes, particularly since she had yet to get a grasp of the local tongue. But, the people were nice, the food was good, and they had plenty of drinks on hand when it counted, so even with her difficulty adjusting to their culture, she could at least enjoy herself.
But, the first thing she noticed was that most of the passersby were armed, like quite a few others she had spied earlier that day. In fact, one individual was so heavily armed with a pair of swords and a musket that she couldn't help but stride over to the mans side.
"Planning on going to war with all of those?", she asked, her voice low, smoky, and only lightly accented.
She looked at him with a quirked brow, even as she took another inhale from her cigarette, and blew a thin trail of smoke out of the corner of her mouth.
Sitting at a small cafe that was sandwiched between two taverns on El Paseo Largo that she had discovered whilst being far more inebriated and far less coherent then she was at this current moment in time, Yvonne absent mindedly doodled in her note book as she sipped on a cup of coffee trying her best to sober up a bit. It had been a long, fun day. They whole city was alive for El Año Nuevo and she wanted back into the party. Perhaps if she was one of the those foppish aristocrats from Montaigne she might be ashamed of herself, but that was the problem with the nobles from her homeland, they didn't know how to have fun. Castillians on the other hand...
She rubbed the sides of her head at the thought. The dull throbbing at her temples were sure signs of tomorrows hangover which might just be stymied by the strong coffee was she currently drinking. An old hangover cure, well, according to the attractive barista, although she was sure that once she sobered up she would go back to partying.
Would that mean a double hangover?
Still it had been a fun day, the partying the celebrations, everything was just so exuberant it was hard not to join in and harder to stop once you did. Not that it would be hard to leap back in. El Paseo Largo was certainly the centre of attention, most of the crowd seemed to be moving in and out of it. Or staying to enjoy the delights there. Certainly many people, just like herself were armed, did they fear thieves? In this throng you wouldn't know what was missing until the thief was long. Yvonne chuckled, what an odd time to be reminiscing about the old days.
"Ah, another reader of 'The Aether Shanties' I take it? Whilst I would hate to disappoint such a elegant lady like yourself, I am afraid I am not the dashing pirate of the aforementioned fantasy adventure novel. I do admit that I have been mistaken for him in the past." The man said in friendly manner with a charming smile on top. A moment later he reached down and picked up her book from the street, adding "I believe that this belongs to you Miss." before handing the book back.
The whole thing left her embarrassed. Of course he wasn't the pirate; Corvus was fiction. In the end, her was just a person who happened to share a similarity with a character; nothing more. He was at least friendly about it.
"Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Garrett Ramirez. And who might you be Miss?" he asked, drawing her from her thoughts. She'd done it again; spacing out at the wrong moment. Rather timidly she replied "Adrianna..." she said, considering the rest. Did he really need to know the rest of the name? In the end, she remembered the book and how he'd returned it instead of yelling about "being careful" so she continued. "Adrianna y Eris Soldano du Riche... Oh, and thank you for grabbing my book" she said, holding it tightly. Say what people wanted about the book and its fanciful nature; she loved it dearly.
She opened her mouth to say more, but quickly closed it. She had briefly considered asking a question about where he was from or the swords at his belt or why he was so similar to a fictional character but decided against it. He was a kind stranger and shed taken enough of his time. "I'm sorry to have bothered you, señor." She said instead, as she started to back away.
Reyes smiled politely again, swilling his drink in his cup and trying not to stand out too much in the room. La Universidad de Arciniega was buzzing with activity and life, as was the rest of the city. It was kind of difficult sneaking in, and to be entirely honest, it was not worth it. He had to hide his face, so no talking to anyone important, or saying anything out of key. The wine was only marginally better than the rest of the stuff he could find elsewhere... but he wasn't a connoisseur.
He found himself looking for a window, an escape plan just in case, when more laughter from those around him. He broadened his smile, scratching the side of his nose and trying to not make a fuss. He figured the place would have interesting discussion, but in the end it was all politics and brown nosing. He'd likely find more intellect in that arena Rose spoke of earlier. And a fancy sword, if he had any sort of skill in that particular area...
Alas, his skills were in other areas. He detached himself from the group as the wiry, dignified speaker went into talking about something Reyes cared nor wished to care about. He moved towards the door to the place, looking to leave and start heading towards La Vengaza, to catch a bit of bull fighting. The Mist Dog was almost disappointed that no one really interrupted him, or drew blades and threatened his life. Something dramatic, to spice up life!
He sighed, pushing his way out the door and heading back through El Paseo Largo. He heard "Feliz Año Nuevo!" called from a few directions, and called back when he could. This was a good time to be a thief, and a poor time to act like one. He lost himself in the crowd a bit quickly, finishing his wine... He probably should've returned that.
"Adrianna..." The young lady said, finally giving a name for Garrett to associate a face with. She seemed to be thinking about something for a moment, before deciding to speak again. "Adrianna y Eris Soldano du Riche... Oh, and thank you for grabbing my book."
"My pleasure Miss; it is the least I can do for a lady like yourself. And my my, that is quite the lengthy name you have there Miss du Riche; would you mind if I simply called you Adrianna from now on?" Garrett asked as he noticed Adrianna slowly began to back away from him. "I'm sorry to have bothered you, señor."
"I wouldn't say you've bothered me at all Señorita du Riche; no doubt you were simply enthralled in your book reading and just the general atmosphere of the new years celebrations, and simply did not notice. I for one do not hold any ill will towards you."
The bustle of the Long Walk chattered about Renault as he made his way down. Altamira had certainly awoken in preparation for the new year - even considering this was the main thoroughfare for one of the busiest ports in the world, you couldn't take two steps without running into another vendor hawking his goods or some partygoer losing their lunch. Excellent cover for anybody with the know-how to exploit it, as even the Inquisition would have their hands full(or their minds drunk) with all this ruckus.
His fatigue starting to catch up with him, Renault decided to lean against a nearby wall to catch his breath. A month of hard work aboard a merchant vessel, coupled with his rather encumbering equipment, was starting to leave him rather short of energy. No matter - he needed to take stock of his situation.
'Altamira, like any city of import, has a powerful criminal element. If there's anybody around here able and willing to give me the information I seek, it would be them.' He cast a brief look over to his musket, its ornate decorations glinting in the rising Castillian sun. 'Even if it must be... purchased.'
"Planning on going to war with all of those?"
His train of thought was interrupted by the sudden address of a woman to his right. Jumping a bit in surprise, he first took a moment to chastise himself for being so inattentive - there were thieves and spies about, after all! - then sized her up. She didn't appear to be armed, at least, and her dress pegged her as Vodacce. A woman from Vodacce. A witch, perhaps? In any case, it would be best to deflect her question. Attention from anybody, particularly a sorcerer, wasn't a problem he needed at present.
"I'm a mercenary. It'd be a little odd if I wasn't, wouldn't you agree?" Not technically a lie, but merely an omission of some inconvenient details.
Her eyebrows winged up at the mans reply.
"I'm a mercenary. It'd be a little odd if I wasn't, wouldn't you agree?".
So he was a man from Montaigne, since the heavy accent was unmistakable. And, while he certainly had a point about it being very odd if he wasn't a mercenary, being so heavily armed, she wasn't about to leave it at that.
"I find that rather hard to believe, unless you happen to be independent. You're alone, and have more weapons than most of the other 'mercenaries' around here. Besides, it's El Año Nuevo!", she said, butchering the Castillan before continuing, "What real reason would anyone have to cause trouble, besides the odd tavern brawl?".
As if on cue, the sounds of crashing, cursing, and splintering wood erupted from the tavern behind her, and as she glanced back, she chuckled softly to herself before jerking a thumb towards the scene. "As I said.", she told him, before taking another inhale of her cigarette.
"Besides, it's El Año Nuevo! What real reason would anyone have to cause trouble, besides the odd tavern brawl?"
Persistent, he'd give her that. And, while she had a good point, he couldn't yet afford to blow his cover. Another half-truth, perhaps? "You'd be surprised. Not everyone sees the New Year as a time to party, you know." As though to punctuate her point, however, the unmistakeable sounds of a bar fight broke out in the tavern behind them. "As I said."
"The point stands. As for my admittedly well-armed nature, well, I've just arrived in town. Simply leaving my weapons lying around while I find lodging seems ill-advised." He waved some of the cigarette smoke accumulating around his head, trying to suppress a cough - he'd always refused to touch the stuff. Had to keep his lungs and mind clear.
The deacon smiled as he strolled through the streets of El Paseo Largo.
The sight of revelry never ceased to raise his spirits, clearly, the celebrations were a sight to see. The whole city was overcome by happiness, the reason? El Año Nuevo of course! With that thought, Erasmo hoped that boy he met was as happy as the party-goers. The sea breeze blew the smell of cigarette smoke away and nudged Erasmo away from the spectacle, reminding him of quiet, windy nights and his... No. The past was irreverent. Only the present mattered to people like Erasmo, who chose to live in the moment. The robed man continued on his walk, not noticing the faces or the lines of taverns and alehouses and the like he passed by.
He was deep in thought, after all. However, as if to interrupt those thoughts, a ruckus of noise and fury erupted. Erasmo looking around and pinpointed the source of the interruption: yet another tavern brawl. The calm and happy priest transformed in a panic-ridden man. Erasmo tried to calm himself down and gave himself a clear objective, something to focus on, 'That means fighting, fighting means people hurt and people hurt are people in need.' Such was the work of The Order of St. Francesca of Gallilli. Wasting no time, he ran into the tavern, and the fight.
Erasmo announced his presence with, "Anyone in need of medical attention?" He had to duck and drive to avoid the various objects that were thrown at him, other than that, he was ignored. Seeing that approach wasn't working, Erasmo searched the establishment for injured people - people that needed him. The onslaught of debris still continued, he dropped to the floor and crawled towards a man, probably both a local and a regular with that tone of skin and a reddish nose, who appeared to be injured. On further inspection, it was a just a cut on the head, but it was deep enough to worry Erasmo.
As soon as Erasmo explained himself to the man, they both made a run for it, and emerged out of the chaos.
El Paseo Largo
The streets were alive with activity, particularly where the brawl was concerned. It didn't take long for the chaos to spill from the bar into the streets. There, more inebriated people were drawn into the chaos, making ti larger. Before long, the city guards were doing their best to contain it and break it up. Even the Inquisition was forced to help contain the madness in the hope it could be stopped before it became dangerous.
Unfortunately, the chaos couldn't be contained quickly enough. In a moment of inebriated courage, one of the many brawlers threw a broken bottle at one of the others, but missing as drunks are oft to do. Instead, the sharp glass sharp cut into the back of a nearby horse; part of one of the many parades. Startled, the Horses started to run into the crowd, promising a great deal of carnage should they not be stopped.
The Guild of San Marcos: Safan
"Sir, can I participate in your exhibitions?" the Crescent man asked. Turning, the presenter looked him over and smiled. "Only if you can fight." he said, before adding "You want in; you're in the next fight against... Eginardo Paretti." while pointing at a Vodacce man with a sword in his left hand. A moment later, the man directed him away from the stage for the current combatants - Ernesto Villones and "Big Bill" Davis - could fight. Ernesto looked particularly determined.
As he waited for his turn, a Vodacce man approached him. In surprisingly good Crescent, the man began to speak. "You know; you probably shouldn't fight Eginardo. He's gonna win this fight. Besides; it's a lot more profitable to lose these kinds of fights." he said, holding a small bag of coins in his hand. "Besides; you could get hurt." he added, smiling as a pair of large men took their places behind him.
The Guild of San Marcos: Others
As the match between Ernesto Villones and "Big Bill" Davis got underway, a drunken man in the audience hiccuped and said "I wouldn't want to be Davis *hiccup* right now; Villones is gonna *hiccup* kill'em." before turning back to the fight. For a moment, it seemed like nothing but bravado from an drunkard, until Ernesto's blade slammed into a wood beam beside the stage, narrowly missing the man's heart. It was supposed to be first to blood... not killing strokes. The judge however seemed to have missed the killing intent of the blade.
"Of... course. And I'm glad to... hear it." she said to Garrett's statements. Not sure what else to say, she started to make her way down to the docks thinking "Stupid stupid stupid."; berating herself for losing her tongue.
"Crap crap crap!" Reyes ducked a swing, moving quickly through the streets. He should've stayed at the fucking wedding, dead brain cells beat riots every day. He ducked through a few alleys, hid from Inquisition forces, and made his way to where the fighting seemed lesser. Most stopped around him when he threw up some lesser mist, making it harder for them to see.
In the end, he settled for the first building he came across, a cafe right inbetween two taverns. The fighting had spilled out, but not to that establishment quite yet. He shrugged, straightening out his jacket and dropping the spell. He chose to talk to a young woman who looked a foreigner, see if she knew what was going on.
"Excuse me, Senora, mind if I sit here for a second?" He gave an easy smile, which turned quizzical when he heard something. Turning around, his confusion was answered by more confusion! Horses, trampling into the crowd, neighing louder than the people were screaming.
"This night seemed more fun an hour ago."
Chaos erupted in the thoroughfare as the fight from the tavern spilled out into the city street. The drunken revelers soon joined the brawl, and it wasn't long before the guards and even the Inquisition joined the fray, attempting to quell the violence. Things became truly hectic, however, when a stable of eight horses were spooked by the nearby altercation and stampeded out into the crowd, their terrified cries rising above the ruckus of the crowd.
Renault, for his part, watched on with mild bewilderment as the scene went from bad to horrible in the space of a few seconds. If those horses kept rampaging, dozens of people could end up dead. And here he was, on the scene. 'Shit. So much for keeping a low profile...' He bolted over to the nearest such horse, a large black thing with its staddle and reins still mounted.
His reflexes forced him to take a step back, however, as a broken bottle barely whizzed past his head. Two drunks from the crowd had seemed to mark him as a target and were brandishing makeshift weapons, barring his way to the rampaging horse. His hands almost motioned to draw his swords before he quelled the reflex. 'Lethal force would attract too much attention. But, these are drunks, so this shouldn't be too hard...'
With one swift motion, Renault reached back and grabbed his musket by the barrel, while taking a deft step forward. In a single swipe, the stock struck the side of one brawler, and, with a twist of his legs, directed the momentum of the blow towards the other brawler. No less than a second after he had drawn, both laid in a crumpled heap on the ground. With is his path now clear, Renault lept onto the horse, pulling back on the reins has hard as he could. The stallion bucked in protest, but after a few authoritative tugs it eventually settled down.
Rosemonde saw the strike, even if the judge did not. She didn't know either of the men, but she did know she couldn't allow it.
She considered her options: leap into the ring, and try to protect Davis: terrible idea, but one many knights might jump to. Talk to the judge: if he overlooked such a strike, it was likely he'd been payed off. Talk to Don Montevada: chances of him simply believing her and not dismissing her as a bettor who was losing money on a match were pretty low, even if he did know her.
As Rosemonde moved through the crowd, she spotted yet another injustice: a young Cathay man, surrounded by three men. The Cathay was well armed, though the others were as well. She stepped up behind the Vodacce man, her hand on the hilt of her rapier.
"I dearly hope you aren't threatening this man. As you probably know, the vows of a Knight of the Rose and Cross would demand I kill you for such an action. And indeed, that young man appears to be a student of the Yael style of fighting. Between the two of us, I'm not sure there'd be enough left of you three to bury. As such, I would recommend you find someone else to attempt to intimidate, friend." she said precisely, her hazel eyes boring into those of the Vodacce swine.
"Excuse me, Senora, mind if I sit here for a second?"
Yvonne was surprised when she looked up from her doodling to see a Crescent man, she was certain the accent he spoke with was Castillian, but the copper skin and hooked nose betrayed his linage. On his face he wore a rather grandiose moustache and underneath that a rather bemused smile. She was confused as to why until she looked around her, pandemonium was breaking lose, she must have really been out of it. Inquisition forces were flooding the streets and horses were stampeding, so much for a quiet cup of coffee, that atmosphere had completely been ruined!
Yvonne nodded a yes so the man would sit down down.
"This night seemed more fun an hour ago."
"Then perhaps we should go and find somewhere more fun?" She replied. With the Inquisition running amok it would probably be best for her not to stick around.
Beatrice barely managed to catch the Montaigne man's reply, since her attention was drawn ever more to the steadily growing tavern brawl. It was starting to concern her, particularly after what looked like a priest rushed out with a hurt drunkard in tow. But, it was when a particularly dangerous throw caused the nearby horses, clearly part of an upcoming parade, to rear and stampede.
"Shit.", she murmured, clamping her cigarette between her teeth, and promptly grabbed both the priest and his charge before pulling them both into a nearby alley, even as the 'mercenary' dove into the chaos.
The alley itself was, thankfully, mostly deserted despite the single passed-out drunk that leaned back against the wall of what may have been either a shop, or one of the many cafe's that Altamira had. Once she was sure they weren't in any immediate danger, and were relatively out of sight, she let go of the two men she had dragged behind her before sitting on the damp paving stones of the alley itself.
"You two had better keep quiet about this.", she told them in a surprisingly calm voice, even as she pulled a semi-intact wood crate in front of her.
Reaching into her traveling coat, she pulled out an unusual deck of cards. Then she started her ritual to perform Sorte. With several flourishes, she cascaded the cards in mid-air, and then shuffled them several times, even as she turned and focused on the horses in the street nearby, and could see the Strands that connected them.
The Strands were what made up fate, and depending on the connections they made, were dyed a different color. The Strands that connected the horses were red, symbolizing the Sword, and the conflict they were in the middle of. And above them floated an inverted Fool, Strength, and Fortune.
And even as she physically laid out the cards in her hands, she reached out magically and cut the Strands that connected them, in the hopes of calming them down and stopping their rampage.
Once she was finished, she blinked, then promptly gathered up her cards and stood, turning back to the two men that accompanied her. With a small, sly smile, she took a long drag on her cigarette and tucked her Sorte Deck back into her coat.
"Lets keep what I just did between us, shall we?", she asked sweetly, giving them a wink even as she blew out a thin trail of smoke.
As the last bucks from his horse subsided, Renault cast a look about - a pack of three horses now stampeded to his immediate right, their riders tossed from their backs and terrified whinnies on their lips. Renault considered jumping off his horse to placate the others as well, but at the rate they were rampaging they would hurt at least a dozen people before he was finished. Before he could act any further, however, he could feel a strange shift in the behavior of his horse. All at once, it seemed more composed, like it had taken a full minute to calm down in the space of several seconds. Indeed, the other horses seemed to react in much the same way, their bucks becoming more subdued and more cognizant of their surroundings, though still quite dangerous.
Deciding not to let this turn of events go to waste, he pulled on his horses' reins, directing it towards the rampaging pack. "Clear way, unless you want to get trampled!" he cried, sending the revelers about him scattered as he maneuvered to intercede between the stampeding horses and the rest of the crowd. Pacing back and forth on horseback, he acted as a living barrier between them and the crowd, rushing forth to intercept when they scrambled forward and pulling back when they did so.
"Then perhaps we should go and find somewhere more fun?"
"A bit close to a proposition, isn't it?" Reyes said with a wink, turning his attention back outside, leaning on the back of the chair and tapping a quick rhythm to help him think. Things were being done about the horses, at least, by a man with a musket. He did want to see if there was anything he could do to help, the inner good trying to break to surface.
When was the last time he rode a horse? Probably could get the hang of it again.
"Well, you've got a sword, I'll assume you can fight. Wanna go be heroic?" He asked, now grinning.
He had emerged out of chaos, only to be beset by chaos.
Erasmo and the injured were dragged away as the priest-in-training spied some of the carnage that had broken out. All he saw and heard and smelt was blood, cries of pain and blood, but it was enough to guess at what was going in: people were being hurt, or even dying. Tears trickled down his face, his mind burdened with the dreadful knowledge that the incident could have been prevented. His body fell limp, defeated yet again, making it all the more easier for the woman dragging him.
Nevertheless, when the mysterious woman let him go, there were no tears. Still, the hazel of eyes were surround by a raw red, it wouldn't be hard to guess that the grown man had been crying. Erasmo didn't care; he had quickly fallen back into the old habit of chanting prayers, "Oh Prophets, share your wisdom with me. Oh Prophets, share your wisdom with me. Oh Prophets, share your wisdom with me..." With chanting, he tried to ignore the worst of old memories.
As he did so, he tended to the drunkard's injuries. Erasmo's hands fumbled about with bandages as he tried to stop the bleeding. Soon enough, the man had a bandage wrapped around his head tightly, but that did not stop the bleeding. Blood trickled out of his ear. It was worse than Erasmo expected: concussion. The man needed to go to The Order's shelter for more help, but how to get him there? The streets had been consumed by chaos and Erasmo felt too weak to carry him.
"You two had better keep quiet about this."
Erasmo turned to the source of the voice. Of course! What about the lady there? She was just playing with cards anyway... Wait, those cards... Sorte! An sudden wave of unease came over Erasmo, what was this witch doing? Erasmo coughed, was she the source of that smell of cigarette smoke as well? Erasmo chose to sigh instead of swear, such language wasn't befitting of a servant of the Church anyway. Nevertheless, he pulled himself and up addressed the Sorte Witch.
"Lets keep what I just did between us, shall we?"
He coughed again as smoke met his face, and patted himself down before saying, "I am not the Inquisition, but I am not an Objectionist. Regardless, I thank you for dragging me and him out of there." Erasmo nodded his head towards the injured drunkard and continued, "You have done me a favour, and you now ask me to do yourself a favour... I admit this will be hard for a person like myself. Still, I think co-operation is not out of the question."
Erasmo cleared his thoart and carried on, "So, in return for my silence, will you help me save this poor man?"
"Besides; you could get hurt."
"If it happens, it happens. I know what I am doing." Surfan said to the man who spoke Crescent to him. Very few occasions did he meet someone who spoke to him directly let alone in Crescent. The Crescent made a whole lot of enemies which didn't make it easy for Surfan to traverse West of it. He grabbed the hilt of his sword in anticipation but he kept calm for the most part. He needed the focus for when he would fight and judging by the competition, he needed a lot of it.
"Where did you learn your Crescent? It's quite good..." Surfan curiously asked while he watched the fight unfold.
"Of... course. And I'm glad to... hear it." Adrianna spoke in a timid voice again, before turning away to walk down towards the docks.
"Have a safe and enjoyable evening Señorita." Garrett said happily with a wave, and soon went into the Guild Hall after hearing the sounds of swords clashing against one another. He of course had to surrender to the questioning of the bouncers to see why he wanted in, and he replied that he simply wished to watch the displays of skill and cunning that were no doubt on display.
It was now a little bit later, Garrett was sitting in the stands as a fight waged on, he cast his thoughts back to earlier.
"*sigh* Why didn't I just ask her out? Simple, given her rather timid nature, it would have no doubt scared her. Hell, I could have asked if she wanted some company to enjoy the celebrations with, or to act as a bodyguard for her; after all, there are all sorts of strange people come out at night, even during a festival such as El Año Nuevo. However, I have a strange feeling that it won't be the last time I see her this evening, after all, things haven't got exciting yet." Garrett thought to himself, as a smile brought himself out of the doom and gloom he was feeling.
"Well, you've got a sword, I'll assume you can fight. Wanna go be heroic?" The Crescent man asked, now grinning.
She grinned back in response, "A mysterious man from the east is propositioning me to go on a adventure. My, how I can I say no." Ending with a wink.
She shot up from the chair she was sitting on and hastily gathered her belongings.
Beatrice took a moment before the Priest actually replied to look at him and the drunkard more clearly, and she fought against a grimace. The boy, and what could she think of him as if not a boy at that age, looked like he was near tears, while his charge was unconscious, and bleeding badly. When the priest finally spoke, her eyes flashed back to his, but her expression was carefully blank as she pulled the spent cigarette from her mouth and crushed it idly under her boot.
"I am not the Inquisition, but I am not an Objectionist. Regardless, I thank you for dragging me and him out of there. You have done me a favour, and you now ask me to do yourself a favour... I admit this will be hard for a person like myself. Still, I think co-operation is not out of the question.".
He took a breath before he continued, and Beatrice took that time to swear just under her breath.
"So, in return for my silence, will you help me save this poor man?".
She took a moment to sigh, then look rather sadly at the unfortunate drunk. Then, looking back at the young priest, she nodded.
"Alright. What do you want me to do with him, since I don't know a thing about healing.", she said, walking over and deciding and pick him up.
Between her and the priest, she had the feeling she was the stronger of the two, and he would need help with carrying the rather portly drunk as it was.
"Alright. What do you want me to do with him, since I don't know a thing about healing."
The robed man stood fully recovered, he could do this! The witch's acceptance almost brought a tiny smile to his face, but the fact that he was now consorting with a user of Sorcery stopped the smile in its tracks. And so, his face stayed solemn. He had to go to Confession afterwards, surely? But Erasmo had promised her his silence. Reluctantly, he accepted the fact that he would have to sort that out at a later date, possibly when both servant of Theus and servant of Legion would be separated by vast distances. Erasmo simply added the incident to the mental list of what he had to confess, it was growing at a steady pace - never a good sign for one who wished to become a fully-fledged priest.
"Just please help me carry him to a shelter, I know the way, just help me carry him..." Erasmo replied.
"Just please help me carry him to a shelter, I know the way, just help me carry him...".
She had to heft the unconscious man a little to really be in a good position to carry him properly, but once he was securely in her arms, she sighed and nodded to the priest, who she noticed had started to smile, only to go back to looking solemn. She merely chuckled darkly and looked at him with a quirked brow.
"Have a problem with having a Witch help you?", she asked, clearly amused at the fact that he seemed troubled by the fact that he needed her assistance.
Or maybe it was the fact she asked him to keep quiet about what she was.
"Trust me, I'm not very comfortable with this either. He's a smelly one, and I'm not too fond of the Vaticine Church, since they'd probably love to see me killed for what I am. But, such is life.", she said easily, just before following him out of the alley.
"My name is Beatrice Fausti, by the way.", she told him, introducing herself with an inclined head, since she couldn't exactly bow with the drunkard in her arms.
"...My name is Beatrice Fausti, by the way."
At least she had some manners, but beside her easy charm, Erasmo would not ignore the fact that she was a practitioner of Sorte and there an enemy of the Vaticine Church. Nevertheless, for an uneasy alliance, things were rather cordial in contrast to the remnants of the stampede outside the alley. A few people in the crowd recognised his robes, and noticed that he was being followed by a woman who carried a wounded man. It wasn't hard for them to put two and two together. Even fewer asked for his help, but, as they say, he had his hands full. Still, that didn't mean that he couldn't introduce himself to the Sorte Witch, and reply to her teasing. 'If only the stampede hadn't happened...' Erasmo thought. It seemed that his lists of regrets was growing as well.
"Erasmo Esposito, of the Francescan Order." He responded, "We are doing some good here, and that is enough for me."
Even with her amusement at their current predicament, Beatrice had to admire the fact that the priests robes were enough to part the way through the dregs of the brawl and the stampede that remained in the street. She would have surveyed the damage that was caused with the hope that her little spell earlier had minimized what could have happened, but with the drunkard she was carrying, and the fact she was relying on the priest for directions, she had her hands full and her attention taken up.
"Erasmo Esposito, of the Francescan Order. We are doing some good here, and that is enough for me.".
She had to give the man credit: As obviously uncomfortable as he was, he was certainly polite. But his last name caused her to perk up a little, and she narrowed her eyes as she looked him over again.
"Esposito? Would you happen to be related at all to a former Merchant Prince by the name of Antonio Esposito?", she asked.