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Old May 11, 2019, 09:56 PM   #1
Bladewyn Imaire
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[AP] The Sharp Side Goes This Way (Justinian)

Spring XXVI


*
TRAINING AVAILABLE
in bladed weapons, especially shortsword and dagger
beginners and experienced fighters welcome
inquire at Twinwood, Lion Parish
*

The neatly lettered signs had been posted all around Aelyria Prime since last autumn. The ones that hadn't been covered up by other innumerable postings - 'lost dog', 'reward offered', 'assistant shopkeeper wanted', 'potions to cure baldness and gout' - had been blown away by the wind during the winter. Or torn down to make room for new ones. Or grabbed for a scholar to use the back to scribble down an idea for his research.

Of the many copies of this sign created and hung around the city, only one remained: in the Forum, the heart of the city where politicians wrote bills, argued over laws, and determined the fate of the Empire. The only existing copy of the sign now hung in a cool, shadowy corner where the sign's author had once sat for a mid-brightening cup of tea to take a break from paperwork. It hung there now, though the office was now occupied by another politician, someone to do with the tax rates of different types of imported fish, who had far too many tasks to busy himself with clearing away old bits of parchment tacked outside his door.

Still, someone might see it. Sometime.
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Old May 12, 2019, 12:25 AM   #2
Justinian
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It wasn't often that the young guardsman found himself on patrol duty in the Forum of Aelyria Prime, and if asked, he'd tell you that he much preferred the seedier, poverty stricken districts of Rynshaven or Durnside. There at least, he felt as though he had a semblance of connection with the poor and downtrodden citizens. He was their small measure of order and security in their otherwise tumultuous existence, the face that smiled and nodded in deference when the world seemed so full of scowls and scorn. But here... people were so important. Justinian would smile his crooked grin and nod to passers by... and watch as they turned their noses up in disdain at this overly familiar young guard. Shouldn't he be rousting some ne'er do wells in some horrid speak easy somewhere? The lad would stifle his indignation and continue his attempts at cordiality as he went about his rounds, refusing to let those that considered themselves apart from or above the common masses dilute his altruistic and engaging demeanor.

The lad paused in the shade of a nearby shadowed corner, removing his helmet and running a gloved hand through his short brown hair, sending it in all directions. He sighed lightly to himself as he watched the throng of self-important humanity flow past, but a small gust from a passing breeze caught the corner of an old and worn sign attached to the nearby wall, drawing Justinian's verdant gaze. Moving aside an advertisement from a local apothecary promising to make one's manhood "the envy of adamantine", the lad's eyes fell upon a parchment advertising training in the use of various bladed weapons. The guard's eyebrow rose and a grin slowly started to grace his youthful features. Well... wasn't this fortuitous. He had recently become fed up with the surliness of his comrades and barracks mates in regards to enlisting their aid in improving his martial prowess; they wanted to do their jobs, kick off their boots, open a bottle of dark ale and play cards until the drink urged them towards their racks. Undeterred, Justinian had begun seeking his training from outside sources, making it his personal mission to investigate any and all avenues of education he could find when it came to swordsmanship. One could hardly expect to aid and protect the defenseless if they couldn't first protect themselves, of course.

"Twinwood... Lion Parish." The young guard muttered to himself, rubbing his chin in thought. He glanced at the position of the suns in the sky, noting that he only had a couple candlemarks left in his shift, and nodded affirmatively to himself. Looks like he had found some plans for this darkening after all. He'd swing through his barracks once his shift was over, drop off his guardsman's livery and armor and splash a bit of water on his face, grab his beat up old leather satchel, his sword and his shield, and make his way toward Twinwood. It was worth investigating, at least.

For the rest of his shift, Justinian found it much easier to bestow a genuine smile upon even the most detached or dispassionate of the Forum's general denizens.
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Old May 12, 2019, 01:28 PM   #3
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Apart from a heated argument between two legal clerks that hovered on the brink of a fistfight, the rest of Justinian's shift would pass uneventfully. After a quick stop at the barracks, his path would lead him eastward into Old Prime.

Like most of the capital city, Old Prime saw the union of the highest of the high and the lowest of the low. The governor's grand palace was within sight of the grim shipyards of Ostward; chic bistros and posh gentleman's clubs shared the streets with pawn shops, gambling dens, and tanner's yards.

Lion Parish was mostly devoted to government-related businesses: the Hall of Records and the Imperial Trade Embassy were the two dominant buildings, with those clerks and secretaries just now leaving their place of business and in search of a darkening meal. As Justinian proceeded past this part of the parish, the buildings would turn more residential. The grandest first - manors that dwarfed the Aedile's Office - giving way to smaller residences as he went along.

Some of the fancier establishments boasted burly iron gates which kept the common rabble out. There were no numbers on these streets, simply fanciful names. Wrexbury House. Gryphon's Roost. Bellevue Court.

This main road of houses ended in a fork. To the left was a wide, cobbled lane that led downhill to several sprawling estates on the waterfront. From here, the young guard could see carefully tended gardens and expansive walled courtyards. To the right was a narrower path, with thick bushes and trees growing on either side. As the suns lowered over the horizon, the light was fading, but it was still enough to see that a few smaller residences lay that way.

Which was more likely to house a swordfighter-for-hire and so-called Twinwood? These rich types certainly didn't make it easy for the bourgeoisie to find their houses, did they?
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Old May 13, 2019, 12:46 AM   #4
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With his guardsman's tabard safely tucked away in his small chest in his barracks, Justinian was immediately less notable as he wound through and amidst the masses of Aelyria Prime. With his youthful features, disorderly short brown hair and worn, roughspun clothing, he certainly didn't draw anyone's eye for very long. Even the sword hanging from his left hip and the shield strapped to his back were painfully commonplace; nothing that couldn't be purchased for a couple of clipped silver at any reputable smith's establishment. Among the affluent or wealthy citizenry of the Empire's capital, Justinian was easily dismissed or ignored.

Still, the young guard had somehow maintained his sense of awe for the wondrous city of Aelyria Prime, despite having lived and patrolled it's streets for some time now. Old Prime in particular caused his bright eyes to widen and his head turn from one fascinating sight to another. This ancient city, lifted into being by the Aelyrians themselves, had borne all of the cataclysmic events that the continent had endured in it's turbulent history. These stones had survived calamities that had seen even the Gods themselves weep, fall and die as surely as any mortal. As he continued through the majestic old district, Justinian silently prayed that he never lose his appreciation or admiration for the glories that others, unfortunately, seemed to take for granted so easily.

Figuring that he should be getting relatively near to his destination, hopefully, the lad wrenched his gaze from the sights around him and began focusing on the names he could see that indicated his location.

Twinwood... No. Twinwood... No. Twinwood... Feth.

The youth exhaled a sharp breath of air as each sign he read failed to have the name he was searching for upon it. He noted the fork in the road before him and frowned to himself slightly, brow drawing together in thought. The fork to the left was quite inviting; well tended, and leading into an obviously opulent area of the city. The young man then glanced at the right path; more narrow, lined with dense bushes and trees, and apparently leading into a more humble section of town. Which way was more likely to lead him to Twinwood? Well, the lad was a guardsman after all, so he decided to apply a bit of his investigative prowess. The advertisement he'd seen had been weathered and nearly covered by other parchments, possibly indicating that the person who posted it couldn't afford to regularly make fresh copies to keep at the fore of potential customer's vision. The advertisement had also specified that beginners, as well as experienced fighters, were welcome to inquire about furthering their education. An experienced fighter would possibly be well-paid enough to afford an aristocrat's time... but a beginner? Unless the beginner was independently wealthy, in which case he or she would probably be able to find a private tutor through more personal means, the novice presumably wouldn't be able to earn enough money with their humble skills yet to afford the services of a wealthy or affluent instructor. All things considered, the indications pointed to the poster of the advertisement living in the more plebeian section of the district.

Right or wrong, Justinian had made his decision and the young man began striding down the right fork, his verdant eyes carefully scanning for any hint as to this strange Twinwood that he searched for.
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Old May 16, 2019, 09:17 AM   #5
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Walking through the residential district of Old Prime, a careless eye might not be able to tell that the city had been catastrophically flooded in the disastrous floods of seven eras ago. With the old tenement buildings gone, the subsidized Common Housing gave the lower and middle classes a safe place to lay their heads. The aristocrats had simply thrown gold at their own reconstruction projects, sourcing stone from Portshire, Abestat, and even further afield to rebuild their sprawling estates. Streets were paved and fresh water flowed through the canals, allowing boats to bear huge loads of cargo without disrupting the foot traffic of the city's one and a half million residents. Not bad for a ragtag team of one man, a dorin, and a half-elf.

Justinian would make his way past the old buildings and new, the humble and magnificent, and when the time came to choose, he chose the narrow, darker path.

Up a little slope and past a few more named and annoyingly-not-numbered residences (Acacia Cottage, Baxendale Park) he would smell a wood fire and hear some the low, friendly chatter of people at work. Around a curve, there came into view a house smaller than its neighbors, set back from the road and flanked by two enormous groves of overgrown cedar trees. A couple of men and women were trimming down one of the clumps of wood so that there was a lopsided effect. Surely they would have to stop work soon, as it was getting rather dark out.

A young boy with light blond hair was scraping at a stone pillar set right by the road. It had been overgrown with ivy and he was doing his best to cut the clinging growth away with a dull knife, with not much success. At Justinian's approach, he glanced up, gave a brief, "Serale," and went back to his project.

Beneath the ivy, one might just be able to make out the letters: TWINW.
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Old May 16, 2019, 10:17 PM   #6
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The comfortingly aromatic scent of a wood fire, replete with the low chatter of people socializing in the last candlemarks of the day drew Justinian further down the path that he had chosen. Upon rounding a curve, he came upon a scene of several people working to trim back some abundant ceder growth that threatened to obscure a small, rather humble looking home. The young guard paused in his stride for a moment and cocked his head slightly to the side, looking curiously at the abode. Flanked on either side by prominent groves of trees...

"Could this be Twinwood? Aptly named, if so." He pondered to himself.

Figuring it was worth taking a closer look, as he had still yet to find much information of value besides the gilded names of various estates, the young man neared a boy struggling to clear some ivy from a stone pillar. As the child turned and greeted him, Justinian smiled and responded in kind.

"Serale." He said amiably, glancing at the youth's task. The ivy was thick on the pillar and it appeared that the boy's knife lacked the edge it required to easily slash through the vines. Narrowing his verdant eyes, the young guard spied the letters 'TWINW' beneath the boy's efforts. Nodding to himself, Justinian popped a squat beside the child and gave him a mischievous crooked grin.

"Say friend, looks like you could use a slightly better tool for that job there. I just so happen to have something that might make your job a little easier." The guardsman tapped a finger on the pommel of his sword, but before the boy could get excited or respond, Justinian raised a finger of warning. "You'd have to promise me to be extra careful with it. Can't have you hurt yourself, you know. If you can promise me that you'll be responsible and careful, I'll let you borrow it for your job. What do you say?"

Justinian knew that clearing ivy from a stone pillar wouldn't exactly be kind on his sword's edge, but he was becoming more adept at sharpening and polishing the blade and figured it was an excuse to get some more practice in. In that same vein; the sword was a tool to be used, not a delicate piece of art to be set on a mantle and admired from afar. If it could make the boy's life a little easier, then by all means, scrape away. Of course it goes without saying that Justinian would be supervising all the while and making sure that the boy did nothing to hurt himself. The young guard could remember how excited he was the first time he was allowed to hold a real sword, and maybe, if the child was of a like temperament, it would be a thrill that he would remember fondly later in his life as well.
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