01: Checking in at the Copper Penny

In a godless world where atheism is rampant, society is decadent, invention is the future, and where the secrets of arcana have been all but completely forgotten, MERCS follows the harsh but compelling lives of guild mercenaries.

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01: Checking in at the Copper Penny

Post by Gingerbread Guy » Thu January 10 08 ; 11 05 am

Summer in Sunset City is a magical experience for the senses. The main street winding up the enormous hill - all the way from the front gate up to the towering mansions and noble estates at the top - finds the Guilds District somewhere in the middle, resting on the steep cliffs on the west side. Tall buildings - most two or three stories high, some higher - give the impression that one hasn't climbed far, but glimpses through alleyways and over shorter structures reveal the open sea far below, stretching out into infinity. From certain vantage points a citizen can even see down the hill into the Lower Wares District, bustling as it is with merchants and shoppers numbering in the thousands; below that and reaching into the sea is the city's famous harbor where ships of all sizes tie off by the dozen to a complex network of docks. Larger vessels wait further out in the depths, barely sheltered by the stone breakwaters.

The city's narrow cobblestone streets are full of people and the sound of hawkers' cries, of haggling, gossiping, and other idle chatter sweeps up the hillside like a tide, bringing with it the distinct smell of sea air. Most newcomers to Sunset City report smelling the fish markets everywhere they go, but natives and long-term residents seem to get used to, and even grow to miss the distinct odor when away from home.

Where there is the smell of fish, there are the shrill calls of gulls heard from above where the birds circle lazily in the afternoon's updrafts. The pelicans are numerous as well, and though far quieter, their droppings are much larger. Indeed, poo-bombings are such a constant threat to citizens out in the open that they have led to the formation of an entire guild of craftspeople dedicated solely to the craft, maintenance and development awnings. Rock monkeys - small but meddlesome creatures - also share the city with the humanoids and are met with the same mix of frustration and adaptation as the gulls.

On their way down the hill and out the eastern gate, the mercenaries earn suspicious looks from three different patrols of the town watch. Traveling in teams of three or four, lightly armed and armored (clubs, staves and leather armor, typically) militiamen hired jointly by the Seven Houses[sup]1[/sup] are a common sight in the streets. White arm bands mark them as agents of the peace, and they frequently stop armed and armored suspicious folk, such as mercenaries (though, so long as a merc's paperwork is in order, these stops are nothing more than a waste of time for both parties).

Even worse than the town watch are the patrols of Hylean soldiers. Ever since Rymm and Hylea reached some sort of preemptive peace treaty several years ago, the Hyleans have maintained a constant presence in every major city across Rymm - Sunset City in particular. Dressed in black leather and armed with swords and muskets, the Hylean patrols are better trained, better armed, and far more serious than the town watch. Thankfully, this also means that they are far more expensive, and thus fewer in numbers.

[OOC: Continued below.

Footnotes:
1. The nation of Rymm is governed by a High Council of twenty one aristocrats, each chosen from one of seven noble houses. The political structure within these Seven Houses is complex and poorly understood by vast majority of the common people it is designed to govern. Various Knowledge skills (Nobility and Royalty, Local, History, for example) will yield more information. Gather Information rolls in high circles may also yield current gossip.]
Last edited by Gingerbread Guy on Sat March 01 08 ; 9 21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Gingerbread Guy » Thu January 10 08 ; 4 48 pm

The three mercenaries progress down the great hill. The road takes them through the residential areas in the eastern districts of town, though most buildings actually overlooking the road are taverns, inns and other businesses catering to travelers. Stone walls encircle the entire city, but they are mostly for show and are far less impressive than those around Veris or even Tildon; there is no toll to enter or exit Sunset City, and the few attacks in its history have all come from the sea, not the land.

Once through the gates, the main road becomes a slightly raised highway. The first two miles of the journey cut through unclaimed fields where wild grasses grow chest-high on a human. The first farm field (corn by the acre) appears half an hour later, and soon there is nothing to see that isn't fenced off. Not all the land can be used for agriculture, but Rymmish farmers make up for thin, rocky topsoil with ingenuity and perseverance.

The afternoon sun is brutal, but at least it is behind the mercenaries for now. The midsummer heat is certainly something to complain about, but it beats being caught out in the wastes. Having horses to ride makes the journey much more bearable. Not everyone is so fortunate: a handful of merchants and farmers pass by on their way in to town, and not all of them have the benefit of horse and cart to tow their stock. One poor farmer pulls a cart loaded with cabbage, struggling in the heat. Rich or poor, every one gives the mounted warriors a wide berth.

The sun sets notoriously late in the day with no significant town or village in sight. The trio will either have to press on in the deepening darkness or find somewhere to bed down.

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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Uvuriel » Thu January 10 08 ; 5 01 pm

With yet another yawn sized for a giant, Kaelie finally speaks up.

"Alright, guys, I'm pretty much useless. I need to sleep. I vote we camp out for the night. We can get up nice and early tomorrow to press on, but today has been a long, slightly painful day for ha--two thirds of us." She guides her mount to stop in front of her companions' own.

"What say you?"
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Post by Genghis » Thu January 10 08 ; 9 24 pm

"I'm always up for sleep," Morin confesses, "and I believe my rump is bleeding; no offense to my fine steed here."
Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Hypo Luxa » Fri January 11 08 ; 7 52 am

Dragen concedes I can use a little rest too. My shoulder is throbbing. Maybe we should consider taking turns at a watch so nothing surprises us in the middle of the night.
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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Genghis » Fri January 11 08 ; 10 00 am

"Sure," Morin agrees, "I admit that I'm mostly worthless in the great outdoors so the least I can do is take the middle shift. I may be able to rig up some noise-making traps if you guys feel it's necessary, but I think we're more likely to see something coming anyways." Morin guides his horse (as yet unnamed) to the edge of the road, and looks for an area where the ground is dry and that affords a place to hobble the mounts.
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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Gingerbread Guy » Fri January 11 08 ; 5 08 pm

Morin has some difficulty finding a good place in which to settle down for the night. He finds ditches on either side of the road, then about twenty or thirty feet of grass before he reaches short wooden fences marking private property beyond. Hardly a scrap of land is wasted. At least the grassy ground at the side of the road is dry and rather soft.

From what he remembers of local laws, sleeping within sight of the highways carries a small fine - perhaps worse if the highway patrol mistakes you for bandits. Fortunately, he also knows that the patrols typically don't travel by night.

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Post by Genghis » Sun January 13 08 ; 2 05 pm

Morin looks about, "Well, I'm not risking...uh...'Horse's' ankle on a midnight misstep. This place works for me if you guys don't mind breaking the law."
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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Uvuriel » Sun January 13 08 ; 5 00 pm

"We kill people for a living," Kaelie comments with a slight laugh. "We're allowed to break the law. At least in that case. And I think we can probably weasel our way out of a skiff with any night patrols, or use brute force if it comes to it... I would hate to outright kill a guard though."
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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Hypo Luxa » Mon January 14 08 ; 8 00 am

Chuckling at Kaelie's joke My, we are direct. This works for me. You two get some rest, I'll hang out a little closer to the road and keep a look out. I have excellent night vision so I'll see someone before they get close enough to realize we are here. Who wants to take next watch?
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Post by Genghis » Mon January 14 08 ; 2 16 pm

Morin raises his hand, "That's me."
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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Gingerbread Guy » Mon January 14 08 ; 8 46 pm

The mercenaries put their trust in each other to the test as each gets the opportunity to watch over their companions as they sleep. Dragen takes the first watch, followed by Morin, and lastly Kaelie. If danger lurks in the darkness this night, it wants no piece of three guild mercenaries.

Dawn arrives, painting the eastern horizon with a warm golden tint. The air feels cool, and in those early moments of the day the inevitably sweltering heat of the coming afternoon somehow seems highly unlikely.

When the sun finally creeps into view in the distant east, it silhouettes a group of riders far down the road. The highway patrol, perhaps? At a distance of several hundred feet it is difficult to tell right away whether the riders are advancing or receeding. The mercenaries have only just broken their camp, but are ready to travel.

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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Uvuriel » Mon January 14 08 ; 8 57 pm

"Heh," Kaelie laughs as she sees the silhouettes. "Just in time, right? Let's get moving. Not too quick, though. If anything, we could just say that my horse got a rock in its shoe or something so we had to stop off on the side of the road." She adjusts her gear, making sure that her swords were readily available, as per usual. She links her fingers together behind her back and pulls hard, causing several *pop*s to come from her spine. She freezes, releases her hands from one another, and slowly lets her arms come forward.

"Aaaah. That... is MUCH better now."
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Post by Genghis » Tue January 15 08 ; 4 58 pm

Morin frowns at the approaching riders. "Could be bandits. If you can fight while mounted, go ahead. But I think we should wait for them, rather than turn our backs. If it's actual guards, I can make a plausible enough excuse for our delay."
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Re: 00: The New Leather

Post by Uvuriel » Tue January 15 08 ; 5 05 pm

Kaelie laughs softly and shakes her head as she saddles up. She lifts herself into her saddle with the grace and ease of many years of practice.

*chk chk!!* "C'mon, Soutenu. We'll be fine, won't we?"
[font=Century Gothic]That is it!! Roll for initiative.
I hope you like pain.[/font]
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