Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scaled Down (...or something) (2008?)

(Note: This story comes after a story I've already finished, it's kind of a side story to a plot that comes after. Jerald Dinian is a prominent character in most of my Ignolopi stories. If you look to the map included in the blog, Istoti is the red, Ignolopi the brown, Jarismel the black. Vrigle lies east and south of Istoti. Jarismel consists of a bunch of warring clans loosely ruled by a royal family.)

“My life wass polluted by a human scaled Jareld Dinian.”
I froze in my seat at that awful voice rising from directly behind me. I turned around slowly, dreading what I might see. The Wisle stared up at me from under a thick hood, and I shivered despite myself.
“I’ve been told you’ll pull in any job that iss offered to you,” it said in its slippery hissing voice.
I struggled with myself. Usually I do, but I also try to avoid taking jobs from part-fish-part-dog[-part-whatever-else] creatures. Wisles used to be extremely rare, residing only in the small mystical land of Vrigle, but during the last few years they’ve spread throughout the lakes and rivers of Istoti, consequently streaming into neighboring Ignolopi. It wouldn’t be long before they ebbed into Jarismel, and I shuddered as I wondered who would come off worse in the land of my mother’s people.
I opened my mouth with a sigh. “For how much?”
“60 trecavs.”
I almost couldn’t stop my grin from growing or my eyes glinting with sudden interest. “80 trecavs.”
The Wisles shook its head. “60 or nothing. There are more mercenaries in this bar alone.”
I nodded, then struggled some more. Servicing a variety of cliental had thus far put me well ahead of my competition. Finally I was decided. “All right. You want me to kill this guy?”
“Yess. I will give you 20 trecavs now, and the rest when he iss hooked. Undersstood?”
I held out my hand. “You have a — wait.” I pulled my hand away hastily. “Suddenly that name sounds awfully familiar.”
“You would never be able to carry this job out on your own. That iss why I will accompany you.”
I thought hard. “No,” I decided. “I’ve heard that this former Scribe is learned in magic, and he has many friends. In high places.”
“120 trecavs. I am learned in some magic myself.”
He knew from the beginning he’d be paying me more than 60, and there I almost fell for it. I really, really hate taking assassination jobs, I just as much hate having anything to do with important people, but this sum was giving me hallucinations of grandeur. “A job’s a job, I guess,” I said, holding out my hand.
We shook on it. For some clouded reason, I felt as though I had added a layer of danger to my life, a layer that was looking like it would leak. Now I’m not a superstitious person, but it was a prominent feeling of unease that rippled over me. The Wisle smiled, showing his many pointy teeth. That didn’t do anything to dispel my little pool of doom, and I very much wished I hadn’t ever gotten out of my bed that morning.
I took a swig of my ale, turning back to my table. The Wisle stood from its seat on the nearby table and sat again, this time by me. It only stood for a second, but that was all I needed to see it was easily 7 feet tall, a foot of that going towards its tall head. I felt very small. I don’t like feeling small.
“Ssince we are to be migrating together, we sshould exchange scales,” it said. The other patrons edged away from us.
“Yeah, I guess so,” I sighed, resigning myself to the fact I was stuck with it.
“I am Keyper.”
“Charmed,” I said tonelessly. “Call me Stheno. That’s my name. But I don’t think you’ll help my job. I can’t exactly travel inconspicuously when I’ve got a 7-foot fish with me.”
“That iss not a problem,” he said, and in a moment I was looking at a pale, dark-haired man; older than myself, but twice as ugly.
I wrinkled my nose. “No, take off the illusion, you’re less ugly that way.”
He looked surprised.
“Never mind,” I grumbled, “it was a joke. Just — stop staring at me.”
He looked away obediently. Suddenly my mood rose. I might have some fun with this. It wasn’t wildly known, but female Wisles are the ones who rule, even though their ‘king’ plays the part. As a result, it seemed being female gave me an unexpected influence.
“It must’ve taken a load of guts for you to work up the courage to get me for the job,” I said, grinning.
“It has been 9 yearss, 4 moonss, and 3 tidess since Jareld Dinian desstroyed my home and sspeared many of my comradess. I had time enough to think of revenge.”
Not exactly quick, are they. “This one guy took out a bunch of you guys?” I asked. “I’m impressed. He’s not supposed to be much of a warrior. More of a scholarly type.”
“He used a spell.”
I could tell Keyper wasn’t keen on giving me his life’s story, so I let it go.
“I’m ready to go with the glow,” I declared, standing up. “The sun isn’t up all the way yet. Let’s get an early start.”
He stood, too, this time coming only to my chin. Jarismelians tend to be tall, and everything felt right again.
“He was lasst sspotted in Isstoti, to my knowledge,” Keyper told me as I put my pack on my back.
“You don’t know where he is?” I asked, moaning inwardly. I wanted this to be a fast job, please.
“We will find him.” He sounded convinced, but I kept on moaning. Call me a hypocrite, but I hate working with monsters.

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