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Old May 13, 2019, 07:19 PM   #1
Hoskuld Coal-beard
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End Him Rightly! (Justinian)

Timestamp: Optia, Era XXVI Post Fractum

The ragged note read simply: “Spurius Gladius Mentor, Half-Charred House, Lampworkers’ Lane, Artedox.” The note, scribbled on a frayed scrap of parchment most likely harvested from a broken practice shield, lay on Justinian’s bunk in the barracks one afternoon upon his return from the brightenings’ duties. His inquiries, it seemed, had borne fruit.

What further inquiries would not bear, however, was any further information on this Spurius Gladius. He was a guardsman who had retired after the end of the Xet wars, who was reportedly willing to provide just the sort of training Justinian was looking for, at a price he could presumably afford. Anything beyond that, Justinian would simply have to go to Lampworkers’ Lane to discover for himself.
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Old May 13, 2019, 09:46 PM   #2
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Justinian was just removing his helmet from his head when his verdant eyes alighted on the parchment resting on his rack. He ran a hand through his sweaty and helm-formed hair, absent-mindedly sending the unruly brown hair shooting comically in all directions, but his focus remained on the discreet note. He picked it up and read it to himself, and could not contain the grin that began to grow across his youthful visage. Over the last few weeks, he had begun aggressively pursuing inquiries and avenues of possibilities that might lead to methods of increasing his skills at swordsmanship, and Gods be thanked that there were individuals in the capital city willing to sell their skill for the modest coin that he had scrounged away. The lad nearly giggled with barely contained glee and quickly began to strip away his uniform and armor, but a chuckle heard from across the room momentarily caught his attention.

"Whats her name, kid?" The deep and rumbling baritone voice belonged to a fellow guardsman named Kaymon, a rough and experienced veteran as both a city guardsman and a caravan guard before that (although some whispered that he'd been as much a bandit as a caravan guard, but none did so within his hearing), and he was certainly not one of Justinian's closest comrades in the barracks. The youth raised an eyebrow, momentarily confused by Kaymon's question. "Who's name? Who are you talking about?"

The burly guard laughed, a harsh and mocking sound. "Come off it, runt. We see you sneaking out at all hours lately; grinning like an idiot and practically skipping out the door. You've got some filly hole'd up somewhere? One that likes to leave you little love notes on your pillow, ha! Or..." The uncouth man squinted his eyes and gave Justinian a hard look, "should I be askin' what his name is? You seem pretty and delicate enough to be running with the minstrels. Wouldn't surprise me one bit."

Justinian grinned wryly, "Jealousy, is it Kaymon? Are you devastated that your rancid body odor and deplorable manner aren't enough to make me swoon into your arms? I'm certain if you search hard enough, you can find a pretty minstrel of your own who appreciates being woo'd by a troll such as yourself. Until then, don't worry about my personal business."

The large man's eyes darkened dangerously, "You insolent fething whelp! I ought to break your skinny arms off your body and beat you to death with them!"

The lad just turned again, half dressed and reaching for his tunic. The rampant lion tattoo over his heart stood out dramatically against his fair skin, as did the lines and contours of his musculature that was growing more distinct with each darkening's visit to the training dummies in the courtyard. The faint burn scars from his brush with death in a tenement fire could still be seen across the tops of his shoulders and along the top of his right wrist and forearm. All said, the young guard was beginning to look slightly more intimidating than the fresh-faced farm boy from Candaceburg that had taken up residence not so long ago. Justinian did not answer Kaymon's threat, he simply met his gaze and held it for a long moment, his bright green eyes glittering in the dancing torchlight of the barracks. A moment passed, and some of the air seemed to deflate out of Kaymon.

"Piss on you then, 'Lionheart'. Go nance around with your trollop. Hope she gives you the Jaedaxian Drip." With that, the large man spun around and angrily stalked back to his section of the barracks.

Justinian exhaled slowly and shook his head, stifling the acidic thoughts that came to mind about his fellow guardsman. He would not allow himself to become malicious or jaded like them; he would remember that, in their own way, they also served and protected the citizens of the Empire. Turning his mind back to the encounter at hand though, the lad quickly finished getting dressed and he grabbed his satchel, sword and shield from his personal chest and he practically jogged out of the barracks. A twinge of youthful mischief pushed it's way into his mind however, and making sure to catch Kaymon's eye on his way out the door, Justinian gave him a salacious wink and skipped the last few feet through the barracks' exit.

Lampworker's Lane. The youth hurried through the district to try and find the aforementioned destination, and presumably, the instructor he was going to find waiting for him.
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Old May 14, 2019, 09:39 PM   #3
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The Artedox was that part of the Scholar Quarter where dropouts and slackers of every sort went to fail at studies as well as life. Its denizens fussed endlessly over their brilliant and soon-to-be finished dissertations in their drafty garrets; or wedged their dubious apparatus into poorly ventilated kitchens to perform hopeless groundbreaking experiments; or expounded their paradigm-shifting theories in seedy taverns to any patron careless enough to show interest.

Naturally, the parish teemed as well with businesses that catered to these academic pretensions whenever their bearers managed to scrape together enough coin. These included the lampworkers, who over dangerously intense fires made the alchemical glassware used to perform all those hopeless groundbreaking experiments. And it was their trade, along with its attendant hazards, that gave the abode of Sirius Gladius Mentor its character and name.

The “Half-Charred” House had previously been known as Causa Pertinacis, but a recent fire had gutted its upper floors; these had been demolished and replaced with half-timbered walls whose whiteness contrasted sharply with the blackened but intact brick walls of the ground floor. Justinian’s note had not mentioned which floor his teacher might be on, nor for that matter what he looked like; however, he probably wasn’t the scrawny ratta peering at him from the front door.

”Lookin’ for a room?” the ratta said in an unpleasantly raspy voice as the youth approached. ”Too bad, we’re full up here.”
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Old May 15, 2019, 06:38 AM   #4
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Though not entirely familiar with this district, for one could spend their entire lives in Aelyria Prime and not walk all her varied streets, the young guard was savvy enough with the ebb and flow of the city to eventually find his way toward the area in question. He did not draw many lingering looks; with his unruly hair, eager eyes and youthful appearance, he could easily pass for a half-frazzled young academic hot on the trail of some new discovery or pursuit. His sword and shield might have called the assumption into question, but his armaments were common enough and indistinguishable from a thousand others just like them. Thus, slipping easily through the energetic and remarkable neighborhood, Justinian finally found himself at his destination.

"Half-Charred House..." The lad thought to himself, "Truly, an example of accurate naming if there ever was one."

Stifling his small grin, Justinian approached the door and knocked loudly. Quick as a flash, an unpleasant ratta face whipped into the doorframe, beady eyes staring up at the young human and already telling him in no uncertain terms to get lost. The youth just grinned his crooked smile; he had danced to this tune before.

"Ho there, friend. It's not a room I'm looking for today, but possibly someone staying in one." With a dexteritous maneuver of his fingers, Justinian produced a shiny, newly minted silver piece and held it up. "Spurius Gladius Mentor; possibly someone who looks well acquainted with a blade. The coin for the room number, and of course, I never got my information from you."
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Old May 15, 2019, 06:53 PM   #5
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The rodenti’s eyes glittered as they regarded the coin in Justinian’s fingers. Yellowed incisors showed in an expression that could have been anything from a grin to a threat. Was this idiot really going to offer her a shield for Ol’ Spurgle’s whereabouts? Not that it mattered. She was happy to tell him for free: the more business Spurgle did, she reckoned, the more easily he would be able to pay his rent. ”Upstairs, back suite on the second floor,” the ratta answered, keeping her beady eyes hopefully on the coin. It would actually be of little matter whether Justinian decided to part with the shield or not; such a coin was an exorbitant bribe for such a trivial tip, anyway, and the rodenti half-expected it wasn’t even real.

The vestibule beyond the ratta was dark and grimy, and the stairs leading up to the second floor were narrow and poorly-lit. The steps were sturdy, however, having been part of the original house that survived the fire unscathed, and did not creak at all. The floorboards in the corridor leading to the back suite were a different story; Justinian might be forgiven for wondering if they would hold his weight. Fortunately, they did.

The door to the suite that supposedly housed Spurius Gladius Mentor stood open, as did a window directly opposite, which offered an excellent view of another window, this one shuttered, in a clapboard wall opposite the narrow alley that ran behind Half-Charred House. Obstructed though its view was, the sunslight admitted by the near window was the brightest light source on the entire floor.

The room looked to be about fifteen feet deep, but apart from that Justinian could see little to indicate how large the apartment was. Directly beneath the windowsill was a plain stool, currently vacant. Just to one side of the window, barely jutting into view from the doorway, was what looked to be the front edge of a desk or table. Apart from that, Justinian could not see anything in the room, nor could he hear any stir from within. Of whether Spurius Gladius was aware that he had a visitor, or indeed whether he was even in, there was no sign that the youth could glean from the dim corridor.
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Old May 16, 2019, 04:12 AM   #6
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Justinian smiled gratefully as the ratta quickly answered his question. "My thanks, friend." He remarked light-heartedly, gladly handing over the silver shield. The youth was a bit... recklessly open-handed with his generosity at times. However, he rarely spent much coin on himself. The barracks provided chow twice a day, put a roof over his head and provided supplies he might need in the pursuit of his official duties; all this while the city paid him an admittedly modest but dependable wage. This recent pursuit of hiring outside swordsmanship instructors was the first time he had spent his savings on anything beyond traveling essentials in over an era, since he had bought his sassy horse Fiasco from a merchant who was glad to be rid of the temperamental beast. If giving an exorbitant tip or bribe for a bit of information helped put a little extra wealth in a fellow citizen's pocket without them having to feel like a charity case, Justinian was glad to oblige.

Following the ratta's directions, the young guard made his way through the dim interior of the building and ascended the stairway that led to the second floor. At the sight of the ramshackle floorboards that led to the rear suite, Justinian raised a tentative eyebrow and frowned in uncertainty. Still, he hadn't come all this way to be turned back by rickety flooring! The lad stepped light as he could and crossed swiftly, glad that he hadn't worn his chaimail hauberk or eaten a heavy meal before coming to the Half-Charred House. Once passed the harrowing floorboards, the lad quickly spied the room he'd been searching for and made his way to the threshold. The door stood ajar, without anybody visible inside the modest dwelling nor any sound issuing forth as well. Had he missed his chance with the potential instructor? Justinian set his satchel down against the wall outside the room, then unslung his round shield from his back and leaned it in the same place. He then riased his right hand and gave a quick, but loud series of knocks on the open door to announce his presence.

"Serale?", He called out into the apparently empty abode. The youth wouldn't violate the man's privacy by entering the room without permission however, and if needs be, Justinian would wait patiently in the hall for Spurius' return. "My name is Justinian, and I believe I received a note from you in Rynshaven Parish regarding some potential business. Is this the home of Spurius?"
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Old May 18, 2019, 05:36 PM   #7
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”Hold where ye are a flicker,” a deep, gruff voice called out from inside the room, followed by some heavy muffled sounds. A large form emerged into view from the side opposite the table to stand silhouetted against the open window. Apart from a meaty build, Justinian could make out a blunt head topped with close-cropped hair and a pair of prominent ears, one of which looked like it had once been some mastiff’s favorite chew toy.

The hulking silhouette emitted a grunt. ”Rynshaven Parish?” the deep voice repeated. ”Wasn’t my note, but I got a good idea who wrote it. If that’s the case, then I got a good idea what you’re here for. Young guardsman looking for some side work, eh? And/or some extra sword training? That right? Turns out I got both. In fact, at the moment, they’re something of a package deal. Why don’t you come on in; I’ll explain.”

The silhouette stepped aside from the window, in the direction of the desk, so that light fell on its face to reveal more features. Those features were heavy and coarse, the sort one wouldn’t credit with much intelligence were it not for the bright, alert eyes in their midst. The human looked to be just short of sixty eras old, and the close-cut stubble atop his head was mostly white. He was clean shaven; the rough skin on his heavy jowls looked as if he sanded them regularly with emery.

”To answer your question,” the man said, as he gestured for Justinian to come in, ”yes, this is the ‘home of Spurius’.” His tone suggested that that choice of words amused him. ”And, to anticipate your *next* question, yes, that’s me.” Spurius’ hand indicated the stool under the window, while he himself moved around the table to sit at a chair behind it. ”Take a seat,” he said in what might either have been a command or just a gruff invitation.

With the preliminaries out of the way, Spurius Gladius settled in to examine his youthful visitor. He regarded Justinian with a non-committal, dissatisfied-on-general-principle expression that the young guardsman had encountered from many a sergeant before. ”So…Justinian, is it? Why don’t you tell me just what it is you’re looking for from Spurius Gladius today, then I can tell you what if anything Spurius Gladius can do for you.”
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Old Yesterday, 03:54 AM   #8
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The young guard dropped his hand to his side as a voice called out in response to his inquiry, and he waited quietly while the figure inside the abode slowly came into view. He seemed quite large, which began to stir Justinian's excitement. He liked to challenge himself by pushing his comfort zone; a bout against an opponent far stronger or more agile than himself was bound to teach him more than squaring off against an evenly matched counterpart.

The man then denied that he'd personally paid a visit to Rynshaven, which caused Justinian's eyebrow to raise slightly but was easily explainable, he was sure. Perhaps the man had a friend, or a proxy of some kind, who had gotten wind of the lad's hunt for a swordsmanship instructor and left the note to point him in the right direction. Seemed reasonable enough, if slighty cloak and dagger. Never the less, the man that Justinian presumed to be Spurius very accurately guessed the young guard's situation and intentions, then invited the youth to enter the abode. Justinian nodded his assent to the man's accuracy and picked up his belongings before entering the domicile itself. As he neared the larger man and the figure stepped into better lighting, Justinian could see that he was well-weathered and roughened by life's oft rocky road, but, the lad thought to himself, who would trust a swordsmanship instructor that looked as though they had been indoors most of their life?

At the man's offer of a seat, Justinan sat upon the proffered stool and subdued the small grin that threatened to grow at the man's expression. The youth knew full well how he appeared to most seasoned veterans, but he took no umbrage to the disdain. Again, challenges to be overcome; bring them on one and all. Justinian met the older man's gaze with his own and gave him a warm, genuine smile.

"You are a very perceptive man Spurius, consider me well and truly impressed. Either that, or I'm not the first guard to darken your doorway looking for a little more experience. Regardless, you've hit the nail on the head good sir. I am indeed hoping to find some tutoring in swordsmanship. I'm hoping to gain some more familiarity with using a sword and shield in tandum, something perhaps akin to the 'defend and counter' techniques of the Legion's swordsmen." The guard gave a small nod in the direction of his round shield as he spoke, "If you think you can facilitate that type of instruction, then I will gladly hear about what sort of work you have to offer in conjunction with the training."
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