Patri charged Amberosin, swinging with rabid intent; one slash high, one slash low, a jab at the neck. His pattern was the same as ever and Amberosin swayed around each strike.
Her open palms slapped his wrists and threw off his balance before she rammed a double fist into his groin. The addled man drooled slightly into his beard as Patri fell to his shaken knees but still those eyes raged at her.
I can feel more, Amberosin’s could hear her mother singing.
Unable to contain her sudden fury Amberosin slammed a hard heel into Patri’s temple, sending him face-first into the marble with brutal force. Bleeding from his nose and forehead he rose and immediately started swinging with abandon again.
His pattern was the same, though much faster than before, blades nearly kissing her skin more than once.
It helps me focus, Amberosin's mother always had a reason.
Amberosin dropped low with her foot out and slammed Patri’s ankle as he struck empty air above her, reeling sideways and landing on his stomach. She caught his extended arm as he fell and held it high up above his shoulder, her knee placed on the man’s back to apply pressure.
She felt like snapping it, breaking his arm badly enough he would remember, always, what that poison had gotten him.
“You dare inject the same filth,” she pushed his arm up further, weighing down on her knee with more force, “ that killed my mother,” again she pressed and could hear his bones popping, at their limits, “ and demand my take?” Amberosin released Patri’s arm and slammed his head into the ground.
She turned and walked the other way for a few steps so he could not see her face scrunch as she fought back burning tears; fist shaking as she raised them to her chest. Patri spat blood from his mouth, smiling like a fool now.
Senfe remained seated on the ground nodding her head in agreement.
“ Waste of good coin, I told him so.”
Amberosin spun left and kicked out, her right foot slamming into the man’s knee with a gratifying pop just before he tackled her. Any other day and he would have buckled from the pain, tumbled to his side, and begged for her mercy but she was weak from lack of eating and had already begun feeling fatigued while Patri was amped up on ‘Synth-Es’, a petulant poison injection.
It helps you escape.
Her mother had died with a needle still in her arm. Amberosin had expected the sight for a long time, knew what was coming by what had been, not that it made it easier.
Though she’d never seen what it could do to an essence caster.
Patri, generally hot-headed but kind enough as thieves went, had become savage being. Essence shone through his skin, highlighting a labyrinth of veins with a soft golden light as the older man stomped full force on his dislocated knee, pivoted, and grabbed Amberosin by her throat.
Patri’s eyes were nearly devoid of a white haze, instead, they swam swimming with a sea of agitated red eels, pulsating in time with his heartbeat.
She swore there was a shadow around all that red.
Amberosin held her breath as his grip tightened and he lifted her to the sky and a mindless smile spread across Patri’s suddenly terrifying face. She imagined he was monologuing, congratulating himself on a victory long in the making. She could almost see his mind play the reel of every time she’d bested the four-decades-old guild lord.
As Patri’s smile faded in the face of his failures Amberosin gave a crazed grin of her own.
Her lungs seethed with fire, throat burned in pure agony as Patri’s shining hand tightened like a vice, her legs dangling above the ground, held by a man who was literally aglow with a vengeance for her.
Amberosin smiled even wider. No more holding back.
Senfe had stood upon seeing the smile on her reddening face but she was far too late. Amberosin swung her legs to one side before flinging them to the other, a sleek gripless blade fell from the back of her tunic and she grasped it instantly.
Patri was utterly blindsided when his wrist exploded into a gush of crimson rain, blurring his vision and causing his hand to go limp.
Amberosin slammed her elbow into his gut as she landed, letting out a horrid breath that scorched her lungs, and sucked in a gentle stream to cool them as she stabbed Patri in his thigh. The next breath out saw a quick gash on his wrist, breath in, stabbed deeply into his shoulder; breath out, a shallow cut on his neck.
She poked him full of holes and watched the essence drain with hefty trails of blood, pooling at the dazed thief's feet. If Patri was lucky, she’d bleed him dry of the filth he’d injected; too stunned to retaliate even in his frenzied state, he stood there bleeding out before finally falling to his knees without a sound. Before he could slam his face Senfe caught him and held Patri in her arms like a child, she smiled at Amberosin in a sincere warmth.
“If that doesn’t teach him I don’t know what will.”
“Thought you’d be a bit.. Upset I went so far. Considering you love him so much.” She smirked at Senfe as she wiped her small blade clean on the pant of her leg.
“Honey,” she grunted as she hoisted the man up higher and turned to leave, “I fuck him. Loving is something different. You take care now Amberosin; always a pleasure.”
She saluted the duo lazily and stumbled inside the empty building, fell with her back against the wall, and let a dizzy spell pass her by. It was just getting to be dark out and she had work to do. The young woman drank as much water as she could manage without feeling sick, checked her blades, and left.
A simple mark on the inside of the door frame marked the spot as hers; it would deter most who knew its owner.
Being a newcomer to the city made the merchant an easier mark for her; the merchant was less likely to expect a quick theft his first few days in the fabled Marble City.
His specializing in food made the take all the more appealing. Amberosin had enough of the trash and scraps she survived on, too afraid to light a fire to cook for herself in the Wilders, too civilized to eat raw critters from the forest floor. Someone could always be watching the edge of her eternal forest, waiting for a chance to prove themselves to The White with the head of the last Nomad.
Making her all the more cautious.
She had made her way into an abandoned building near the incomplete shop and waited until the port markets were ablaze with life. As Solas began her descent Blancanan shops and stalls exploded into being. Nobles, peasants, travelers, thieves, and far too many guards, littered the port streets.
All coming or going in search of their next meal or treasure from afar. Nowhere else did one see such a vast array of people, a horde of variety and color.
Trallens from far north wore their thick leather and fur even in the tepid warmness of the Blancanan night. Bones and teeth lining their garments, trophies from their fiercest kills.
Native citizens wore their thin, colorful garbs or lavish dress wear adorned in gold. Most sporting some piece of white clothing or aesthetic as an homage to the Grand Councilor.
New Matria, officially sector three in the White’s Noctra, had few representatives out in heavily guarded areas. Grand Councilor White had decimated Matrius, more out of spite for the Al’ Matri than anything else if word was to be true. None of the original citizens survived.
Still, some women in blue robes with quaint hats of the same color could be spotted in small groups.
Uma’ guards had become more common since The Fracturing and people had simply accepted it. They were the White’s ally and that’s what mattered; an ally of The White was an ally of Blancana.
Their red paints, large piercings, and fur gauntlets made them look like the badland savages they were rumored to be despite, years of captivity and, supposed, domestication. White armbands were all that showed their allegiance.
Amberosin had scouted for hours on end, soaking in the patterns of movement, pinpointing the groups and loners in her mind. Using all the weeks in the month she had left to prepare the best route, the best method to steal her daily bread.
Etching guard locations into the very front of her tired brain, she’d set out with hopes of a massive, easy score.
She had often wondered if stealing the key had been worth it over those two weeks she spent starving at the edge of the Wilders.
Amberosin had thought herself clever for openly stealing fruit from a nearby vendor to draw attention away from her actual mark. She had become brazen and excited.
Amberosin had planned on looping back from the east to the shop late that night after shaking the patrols and pursuers; instead, her adrenaline gave her false courage. With a pack of raving port guards well behind her and more than a few merchants shouting as she sped by, Amberosin ended up going straight through the main street towards the Southern district, towards what she had left of home.
She’d underestimated the veracity, and quality, of Port security.
Mere seconds after she had sprinted away from the fruit carts, ducked guards, and sidestepped many colorful citizens, chuckling to herself all the while, a platoon of White’s soldiers came marching down the street.
She knew the Southern patrols by heart and knew they traveled in groups no larger than twelve, never with a captain or masked Legend. The port itself usually saw groups of fifteen, sometimes a captain, sometimes not, according to her prior scouting at least.
Nearly thirty stood before her as she rounded that first corner in her grandiose escape; her planning and impeccable timing be damned.
The man leading the mass of guards sent crippling chills down her spine, for Amberosin recognized his large, smooth mask, shaped like a teardrop atop his shoulders, pure white with gold lines running along the side. Staring her down from not three quick strides away was a once loving man, the bastard son of Councillor White.
Mezir De Blancana.