19th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 1:49pm, 6th and Rose, Lockland.
“I worry about you brother” Shaheed murmured breaking Taaj al-Pour from his reverie. “You have not been the same since attaching to the items of power, we should seek the aid of our managers and stop these troubles at once” Taaj shook off the last vestiges of whatever had dominated his thoughts and turned to his half-brother with a winning smile.
“Shaheed, you worry too much, I am fine, more than fine, and we have never been closer to our goals… by my senses we are close to the culprits, as soon as I have confirmed that these powers do indeed work; then we can head over to a Manager, with profitable information that they can arrange the next phase of the plan. As now, we still only hypothesize, that will only delay us further.” Taaj placed a hand on his brothers should as he spoke. He could see the resistance in Shaheed’s face melt as he laid on his point “Go, relax and find us a tea shop to dine at later, I want to get my land legs back by walking a stretch. I will meet you back at the Avon Vale by the third hour.” Shaheed again seemed to wrestle with the idea, but Taaj, knew him far too well, Shaheed had been longing for a proper tea house for months, and at long last they were in a port large enough to sport several. At last his half-brother nodded
“Alright, I will secure us a place to dine, you get your stretch, then we discuss a plan to confirm the magiks and move forward with the grand endeavour… agreed?”
“Of course Shaheed… if the Tea House were also to support hukka…” Taaj let the thought trail has his brothers grin became even wider
“Blueberry is your flavour of choice” Shaheed finished for him, clapping him on the back. “I will see what I can do my dear brother” he said as he turned and headed for the city core, leaving Taaj alone at last. As he left Taaj let out a long slow sigh, this pained him deeply. He knew he should be going to the managers, should be telling them of the visions he had seen, of the feelings he was having, but he couldn’t some part of him felt that it would be wrong to speak to them… at least for now. He had rationalised it to himself with this story of confirming the magik, it seemed to make sense to know if he could rely on his sense or not, but deep down he felt there must be something more. Another reason why he would not speak to his brother and closest friend of what was ailing him. He turned and walked down Rose way for a distance, his mind’s eye searching his memory for keys to those who haunted his dreams, he could never remember faces or names clearly, just impressions and feelings, and some of the feelings did not make him super comfortable.
As he strolled down the street he heard a disturbance up ahead
“Hey watch it you big jerk!” Taaj glanced up at the commotion seeing a larger human male having pushed over a dolly filled with lumber that had been being pulled by a smaller women. The man appeared to have a coupled friends who jested at her. One kicked at the stack of lumber as the girl bent to pick it up. Taaj turned to continue his stroll when as the women searched the crowd for aid he happened to catch her eye. His heart skipped a beat as he was lost in the emerald orbs of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. She was human most assuredly perhaps eighteen or nineteen years of age, her hair was a luxurious red and even in anger she held the voice of an angel. The young women had jumped to her feet now and was pulling a hammer from her belt holding it up with two hands “I’m warning you, back off or you’ll regret it” she growled ferociously at the biggest of her assailants
“Widdle Guwl As Big Hamwer!” the oaf taunted as his imbecilic compatriots giggled inanely. Without realising it Taaj al-Pour found his feet moving unheeded and quickly found himself pushing through the crowd to stand at the young women’s side
“Excuse me my lady, it is beneath one of your great beauty to attempt to educate the filth that chooses to fester within the crevices of this great city, may I perhaps offer you aid?” the women turned to look at him over her shoulder, she blew air trying to dislodge the bangs from her eyes in a movement he was sure melted his heart. She seemed to have some sort of barb on her tongue for him, but when she turned and saw him, that seemed to change, as her cheeks flushed nearly as red as her hair and her green eyes locked with his hazel ones in an infinite loop of understanding.
“Does the widdle baby haf a boyfriend?” the oaf taunted “Does the widdle…”
In a flash Taaj had his scimitar free of its sheath and flying towards the oaf’s throat, how dare he ruin what had possible been the most perfect moment to have ever crested Argyle’s hills. It took all of his self-control not to slay the vagabond where he stood, but to do so would risk spraying the wonderful goddess with blood and he would not dream of such an action. So his blade stopped neatly at the man’s throat. By instinct more than anything else he felt one of the oafs companions, the one on his right move, he let out a high kick to the side without allowing his blade to falter… the fellow dropped his dagger and fell to the ground
Taaj let his eyes slip to the left as he heard the angel’s voice sing the words
“YOU BIG JERK!” Her hammer having just smashed into the knee of the final assailant causing him to drop his knife and fall to the ground in agony. Taaj turned his attention back to the oaf.
“You would assail a lady in broad daylight? My how far the ideals of Lockland have fallen” he proclaimed more to the crowd then the oaf.
“Was only some fun, she’s just a smithy wench running a cart… didn’t mean nuttin by it” the oaf pleaded. Anger rose in Taaj al-Pour, for a moment he found it very hard to keep his scimitar from cutting open the man who would sully the good name of such a stunning young women.
“You will collect the ladies things and stack them back on the dolly” he said in a voice that bespoke a calm hidden in the centre of the greatest of world shattering storms
“I… I think my knee is broken?” the one laying at the women’s feet moaned
“You will collect the ladies things and stack them back on the dolly, or I will take your right hands, left feet, right eyes and left testicles” still the calm, but each of the vagabonds knew he meant the words, knew that this was truth, and the oaf recognised the punishment as the ones that the OMAR stores gave out to shoplifters”
“OK OK, we’re going” the big one said, starting to move as Taaj pulled his scimitar back from his throat.
“Are you alright my lady?” Taaj asked, turning his attention back to young women. Her eyes were on the ground, her brows furrowed in anger.
“They spilt my paint… I’m supposed to repaint our ship name… and they spilt it” she growled annoyed at seeing the fresh ink leach away into the sewers. The scimitar flashed out towards the oaf again, this time cutting his belt near his purse. Using the point he hooked the tatter of rope and flicked it up catching it deftly in his left hand. Weighing the pouch a moment Taaj presented it to the lady
“This should more than compensate you for the lost paint, and your trouble in replacing it” Taaj said, grinning as the women blushed, looking at her feet once more as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. The oaf who was picking up the boards and restacking them looked like he was about to complain, but then noted the ease at which that scimitar seemed to fly and rethought his action.
“My Hero” the women said, speaking perhaps the two most special words he Taaj had ever heard. Before this day he had thought the tales of Grim were foolish when he bespoke of ‘love at first sight’ that one could not simply make eye contact and fall in love. Now he knew Grim to be the pioneer he truly was, for here he was having known this women for all of a minute and ready to profess his undying love for her.
“The Lady had things well in hand, I am pleased you granted me the privilege to provide aid” the women’s toe kicked at the ground a little
“Maybe, but I am happy you came anyways” she looked up from under her bangs and the two locked eyes again, their souls danced as they shared a bond “How, can I repay you?” she asked, her voice dropping down to a whisper. His head leaned in closer as he responded softly
“Would it be to forward to beseech the lady for a… kiss?” he asked, the last word little more than a breath. The women leaned forward, tilting her head slightly and parting her lips. As if time itself slowed down his eyes closed as he inclined his head, their lips were millimetres apart he could smell her sweet breath, the anticipation was ecstasy.
“So… uh… we’re done” the oaf interrupted. Taaj turned giving him a glare that would turn men to stone. The oaf did not understand so he pointed to the dolly “see, all picked up” he said trying to sound chipper.
“So it is…” Taaj said in resignation. He turned back to the young women, and was pleased to see the annoyance at the oaf on her features as well. “May I walk you back to your ship?” he said offering an arm. She smiled taking it. Taaj turned to the oaf and his goons “bring the dolly, follow at a respectful distance” he said as he sheathed his scimitar. The trio did as they were bade, following the two young persons the four or so blocks back to the port district, it wasn’t until they arrived at the pier and Taaj looked up to see the young women’s ship that he realised what trouble he was in.
“This… is your ship?” Taaj asked of the women. She smiled a grin that almost eased his panic
“yup, this is the Champions Fist… you can see over on the bridge that’s our First Mate… Mr. Fargazer” Taaj’s heart sundered in two, he didn’t know what to do, what to think… he had to get out of there
“Uhhh… it is a lovely ship… but… uh… I must be going now” he said taking a step back
“wait… you can’t go” the women said turning and taking another step towards him, I want you to meet the crew…” her tone turned a little more playful “you saved me after all” Taaj instinctively took another step back
“Ah… That would be impossible right now… ummm… I really must go, I am sorry to have to run” he said taking another step
“Can I see you again?” the girl asked and Taaj knew at that moment that he could deny her nothing in the universe.
“Yes… Tomorrow night, at the Withered Bat Inn… at the 9th hour… I will be there” he said taking another couple steps back, he turned to leave, when a thought occurred to him and he turned once more “Wait… What it your name?” he asked. The women smiled at him
“Mandy, Mandy Doyle… and yours?”
“The Lady may call me Taaj… until tomorrow Lady Doyle” he said with a flourishing bow… then turned and sprinted off down the street taking his first right that would lead him town. He had to figure this out, figure out what he was doing… what would he tell Shaheed?