[Ashen Snow] What's the Price on Your Head? [Wi 7.7]

edited January 2013 in In-Game
Winter,

You and Easton make your way to the hold, heading back through the main entrance. Ik's there, he's working on welding some scrap metal frame to the gate to reinforce it. There's precious little fuel left for it, so he flips it off and flips up the mask, just falls in line behind you as you head for Norvell, no questions asked.

Within a few minutes, you're halfway through the hold and walking up to Norvell. He's up on a scaffolding, working with a kid named Kettle on the roof. He's about twenty feet up. He sees you and Easton and Ik and claps Kettle on the back, then calls down, "Hey Winner, Easton. S'goin on?"
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  • Winter doesn't slow down when Ik joins them, though having him nearby would probably help their cause. She jogs up to Norvell when she finally finds him up on that scaffolding, "Norvell, you're going to want to hear this! Can you spare us a minute down here?"

    Presuming that he's climbing down shortly thereafter, she brings the group into a huddle and lowers her voice to make sure nobody can listen in. "Norvell, I don't know how much you know about my business with Madame, but I used to do more clandestine jobs for her. Big jobs. As a result of all that, you can imagine that I've got a rather large group of contacts in the "clandestine" line of work... I've just learned that you're at the top of a hit-list of an old-colleague of mine. A very capable colleague. A crazy one. I don't know how quickly she's intending to move, but I just found out she's responsible for the death of Shazza; and considering how I found out, I imagine she expected me to tell you that."
  • When you share the details, Norvell is standing there, sort of wiping his hands with a grimy rag and seems a little dubious. But he doesn't call you on it. "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I folla. Can ya sorta spell it out fer me?"
  • Winter looks off to the side and sighs. She was really hoping she wouldn't have to spell it out for him; but she's resolved to help this man, and full disclosure would likely be necessary. She looks him in the eye, hoping to bridge a gap here, leans in close and whispers, "I used to kill people for Madame. The key word is used to — I've been with Easton ever since I came to the Element, and I'm looking to put that life behind me. I've since learned that one of my old associates, who incidentally didn't like my decision to leave that life behind, was given a list of names to kill — and after Shazza, whose name was just crossed off, you're next. I'd like to stop that."
  • This second time that you run this down for Norvell, he takes a breath and exhales sharply, then says, "Walk with me?" He doesn't wait, he assumes you follow. Each time you see him now, he's falling a bit more in line with a man who is in control. While he doesn't like it, he's refusing to squander the chance to do what he thinks should be done.

    As he's walking back towards The Garden, walking at your pace so you're walking beside him, he says just loud enough for you to hear, "Aint nobody tole me she's, ah, gone, Miss Winner." He walks into the Garden, looks around. Rum is there, talking with Fleece and Grip. You recognize Grip, right? The hold's own coroner/butcher/gravedigger. How did he help with your last kill?

    Norvell looks around for a bit, and not seeing Shazza, he heads between a pair of columns and opens up the floorboards to get down to her storage area. Sure enough, poor dead Shazza is there. It's not the best work. Her body is posed wrong, but it looks like Fitteen tried to make it look like a suicide. She wasn't lying, there is a shitload of blood. Knife on the mossy ground nearby, wrist cut, a deep gash. The angle is off, would be nearly impossible to be self-inflicted.

    "Shit. Norvell says. Then he shuts the door and turns to face you. He's flipped a switch and the man is angry, righteous fury level stuff. He doesn't yell, which is even more scary. He says through clenched teeth, "Ma'am, I need you ta tell me who tha hell put a hit on one a tha sweetest ladies I e'er met. Because I am gonna bring a shitload of pain on them an theirs."
  • Winter of course follows him — I presume Easton and Ik are following along as well. When they turn the corner into the Garden, she spots Grip chatting with Rum and Fleece and makes brief eye contact with him. Winter had the pleasure of killing a miserable fuck by the name of Jaundice — liked to get drunk and beat on his wife, a beautiful young lady by the name of III whose brother happened to think she was worth the jingle to save. The circumstances surrounding Jaundice's death were such that a lot of his low-life drinking buddies suspected III of killing him, and wanted to meet out justice on the poor girl. Winter had used her usual methodology on Jaundice — snapped his neck, and staged the scene — and wanted to make sure the explanation took, so she tried to hire Grip to doctor the method death publicly. The rumors around the camp of Jaundice's habits, along with a bottle of booze to sure up the deal, were enough to convince him. He didn't think very much of it, but Winter thinks it was kind of heroic — in an odd sort of way.

    When she goes down into the storage area, she can't help but appraise Fitteen's work... It was messy, but that she tried to cover it up means Cherry was indeed walking her through it. Nobody thinks that far ahead on their first kill, and Cherry loved staging suicides. It was her little way at teasing Winter. She lets Norvell close the door, and appraises him as he stares her down. The rage he's feeling would only make him careless... She looks back over to Shazza one more time, unable to get the name Jackabacka out of her head. It was bullshit, but it was the only name she had... Other than Cherry's.

    "The girl with the contract's name is Cherry, and she's very dangerous. She studies people, and finds ways into your head so she can mess with you. Usually by messing with people who are important to you... She dropped a name, but I'd bet a lot of money she's trying to frame that person. I've got one of my girls trying to find her right now."
  • Norvell is still and rightly pissed. "Ma'am, I need ta have my folks on this. What's this Cherry girl like? I know bout all the folks that come in here."

    He heads up and calls over Grip, tells him to keep it quiet, but to keep folks out of Shazza's stuff until he says otherwise. Then Norvell asks you to follow him, he's going to find Amiette.
  • Norvell wanting his men to deal with Cherry sends up warning flags in Winter's brain... Cherry was not a graceful woman when backed into a corner, and Winter was certain she'd start spewing names and contracts left and right in an attempt to bring any and everyone down with her in the process. That's the least of her worries though, because Winter draws a blank when asked to describe Cherry. "Well, she's uh... You know, my age, thin, long curly red hair, slightly taller than me, pale with freckles... Unusually clean, considering how much skulking about she does." She follows Norvell out of Shazza's place and to find Amiette, "Shy of being a manipulative and conniving bitch these past few years, I don't really know her as well as I used to... We had a pretty big falling out. Norvell, you guys have a lot on your plate right now, and I don't know if diverting your efforts to find Cherry is the way to go forward. Let Easton and I find her for you. I made the mistake of thinking she'd go do her own thing if I quit the business; but with the people she's targeting, the lives she's ruining, it's clear this is as much an attack on me as it is on anyone else."

    She stops him a moment as the round a corner into an empty hallway. She looks up at the man firmly, with purpose in her eyes, "This needs to be done, and I don't shy away from that kind of work. We can go talk to Amiette, but I guarantee you that whatever you learn about the situation won't help. Cherry is the eye of the storm; and until she's gone, it won't matter who you punish for this — she'll just find new people. People you care about. Let me do it."
  • Well, this sounds like a Manipulate to me as long as you keep Nrovell in the loop and updated. Roll them bones.
  • OOC: Manipulating Norvell, with Easy to Trust. Roll+Cool*, +1XP Rolling highlighted
    #DiceRoller( 2d6+3 )
  • Norvell looks you over, "Ma'am, I need you to keep me in tha loop, daily. I can give ya a couple days."

    Where to?
  • edited January 2013
    Winter nods, a bit of relief washing over her. Norvell's idea to poke Amiette on this was a pretty good idea — before Norvell can leave, she stops him and asks, "do you know if Ami is at her place? Or is she out and about?"

    ETA: Winter will go seek out Amiette, wherever she happens to be...
  • Norvell directs you to The Gym, so you and Easton head that way, right?

    You come down to The Gym, which has Pryers in a couple groups, several of them armed and armored, ready for travel. The place feels very active and you see a few older men directing traffic, runners bringing info, men walking in buckets of spring water and supplies moving in and out. A woman named Pretzel, a Pryer who has eyes for Easton, offers to help your search for Amiette, "The Bride is takin a bath with Grekkor and the Prophet. You'll need to wait." She walks you over to the entrance to the Baths, there's a couple young men there on guard.

    Pretzel asks, "How are things, Easty?" She's all smiles, keeping a distance, but there's some history there.

    Easton glances down at you, then replies to her, "Good. Hey, you've met Winter, right?"

    Has she met you? What were the circumstances of that?
  • Winter's not sure what to make of Pretzel. She thinks she might remember her from a bar in Mesovin at some point; but there was a lot of liquor flowing that night, and it's hard to tell for sure. There may have been a gig that night... Or possibly two...

    It's weird to see her talk up Easton like he's an old fling or something. There's a weird mixture of jealousy and propriety bubbling up in her at the moment, but she manages to keep the professional face on and she smiles with a wave as Easton "introduces" them. She knows Easton's going to have to put up with a lot of shit from some of her more possessive clients, so she's trying to cut him some slack with his past too. "You look familiar, so it's always possible," she answers cautiously, addressing Pretzel directly. She steps up next to Easton, and rubs his arm as she returns his gaze lovingly, "Easton and I go way back. How do you two know each other?"
  • Easton smirks at your touch, but he's still a bit nervous in this situation. He's not meeting your gaze really.

    Pretzel answers you with a sly grin, "Oh Easty and I have had some good times, on and off. When I could drag him away from G-String or Chibi, that is. You're a lucky gal, he's one hot prospect. You two are cute together." She ducks into the Baths, leaving you behind.

    Easton looks down, meets your eyes and says, "Yes, we had sex. Quite a bit. No, I don't love her. And you're the only one I want. Cool?"
  • Winter's approach to sex is very utilitarian. It's business with some people, pleasure with others; and until recently, the question of sex being exclusive between two people was a foreign concept to her. Now that doesn't mean she particularly desires to have sex with a bunch of people; she spent her life charging dozens of people for sex, with a select few she ever actually fucked for pleasure — it was necessary. Why should she treat him any differently? Why would it mean he loved her? It may sting a bit to hear her talk so casually about what she shared with Easton, and hint that they're "on again, off again" like it's a matter of time before somebody gives, and they'll end up rolling around in the hay... but this is different, right? They share something deeper. Even though they've only recently decided to settle down together, this was something that started back when they were kids... They were meant for each other, and she really felt that.

    "Sure," she shrugs, only showing mild discomfort, "I mean it's not like I don't have old clients, or anything — but it's like you said: that was then, and this is now. I'm yours, Sweetie — and I trust you..." If he's lying, she's either naive enough to buy it, or unwilling to challenge the thought. That word is bugging her though... Love... Why would he say he doesn't love her? Does he love somebody else? Is that somebody else Winter? Most people don't have the benefit of settling down with the person they love — often you're stuck with the chick you knocked up by accident, a coincidence that wasn't lost on Winter — so the question of whether she actually made Easton happy was still weighing heavily on her mind. Especially since Winter's self worth was often derived from how happy she made her clients... Now that rested squarely on Easton's shoulders.

    Perhaps unintentionally, she's looking at Easton expectantly — a genuine smile and big, admiring eyes staring back at him. She doesn't want to be a complication, she wants to be a solution — but she can't bring herself to ask if he actually loves her.
  • As you're waiting, there's a lull before he responds. Easton admits, "If I'd known you were coming back, that we still had a chance. I would have waited." He gives you a tight smile, then adds, "I'm yours, too, Winnie." He puts a big meaty arm around you and waits with you.
  • Easton's admission makes Winter smile... She wraps her arms around his waist as he takes her under his arm, and whispers, "I should have stayed." They hold each other as they wait for people to emerge.
  • Easton leans his head down to talk low into your ear, "With this whole thing coming down on us, Harridan and his army, trying to stay neutral, all that. You think we can pull it off?" he sounds a little dubious. Not scared, but not sure about things.
  • "The way I see it," Winter responds with a shrug, "I've got a lot to lose, so I don't intend on messing this up. We can stay as neutral as we can to help protect the people in our care, but I don't intend to roll over if people start threatening us. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, like Dad always said."
  • Pretzel comes back out, smiles at Easton hugging you, like it's adorable. Then she says, still smiling, "She's inside taking a bath. It's a private affair, could take an hour or so. Sorry." She's not sorry.
  • Winter understands the value of a good bath, but it couldn't hurt to set the scene a little. She tries to rectify the misunderstanding by underscoring the importance of the visit, "It's not like we're here to see if she's hungry — there's a murder involved, and we could really use her help. What kind of Bath is that important?" She asks, half curious, half dubious.
  • Pretzel gives you a look that sort of says, 'I think you're a dumbass', but she covers it quick with a smile. She answers, "The Baths are a miracle. It's what we're fighting for. There's an actual goddess of the earth, a spirit here. Of pure light and energy. Do you see the grass over there? Have you seen grass anywhere around here? And the Spring, she opened up a spring of the freshest water. Here, come with me,"

    She walks over towards the bucket brigade. Easton follows her along, I assume you go, too? She takes a cup from a nearby supply pile and scoops up a cup of clean water from one of the buckets, hands it to Easton. He takes a swig, then makes a pleasant face, handing it to you. What do you do?
  • Winter smiles confidently — bordering on deviously — when Pretzel reveals her feelings about Winter being ignorant. It meant she was being under-estimated. She listens to Pretzel's religious pitch, feigning interest as she waxes philosophical about the origin of the grass growing here. She follows Easton over to the bucket brigade, and accepts the water Easton handed her. She tastes it. It tastes like some of the higher-end filtered water she's bought in her day, and she's seen rich people with potted plants before... She doesn't know whether it was true the water from the spring was brought by some goddess, but it sure sounded pretty crazy... Lots of people formed cults around clean sources of water, and the Pryers were starting to sound pretty similar.

    "You've seen this Goddess then? You saw her raise the plants, and open the spring? Any why doesn't the presence of a spring shed light onto the question of why grass grows here? Don't mistake my skepticism for a lack of wonder at what's going on here; but given the fact that the Earth just tried to swallow up all life on the planet, I'd say we're standing in one of the last sanctuaries for life, rather than a temple to the spirit of the Earth." Pissing off the Pryers in their home was probably not the brightest thing to do, but something about Pretzel's answer stunk, and it was avoiding Winter's point that someone had died. She decides to ask one last time, "But for the sake of argument, let's assume there is a goddess down there, and she's looking out for us, and Amiette's bath really is a matter of life and death... Wouldn't Ami be the only one who knows whether my issue can wait?"

    Read incoming
  • OOC: Read Pretzel, Roll+Sharp, +1XP for rolling highlighted.
    #DiceRoller( 2d6+1 )
  • Holding 3, spend 1: How can Winter get Pretzel to take them down to the baths?
  • edited January 2013
    Easton seems to agree with you, he wasn't a big fan of fighting Harridan over a damn bath in the first place. The questions seem to irk Pretzel. She isn't one to question things like that, she's also got a limited scope of the world, unlike you. She answers you flatly, "Grekkor said no. He is the Hand. The Bride is just some psychic girl in a gown who fucks anything that moves if they let her. So back off."

    Threaten her with something worse than death, seduce her, maybe.
  • Winter narrows her eyes to a squint and purses her lips when Pretzel insults Ami — it was clear to her that Ami was not among friends, and she instinctively goes on the defensive. "Don't insult her like that — it's unbecoming of you," she answers, implying Pretzel's forgotten who she's talking about. "It's not like she's down there trash talking you, is it? And Grekkor obviously thinks highly enough of her if they're down there doing something too important to kick her out." ... Wait... Are they fucking? She plays with the thought for a moment, considering that it might be jealousy rolling off Pretzel's tongue; but she dismisses the thought as non of her business. This "Hand" thing, however, seems to be the crux of her argument... It looks like she's convinced he's earned a title of monumental importance among the Pryers, while Ami is somehow just riffraff off the street. If it looks like a cult, and sounds like a cult...

    "What do you mean he's "the hand" — like he's second in charge of something?" She asks, legitimately curious — but cautious about her wording, and still highly skeptical of all this.
  • Pretzel shrugs, "I've been here a while, Winter. Amiette is some crazy chick who'll drop 'em for anybody who is crazy enough to let her in their heads. Hell, even Lala fucked her. But if Grekkor needs her for something, that's for him to worry about."

    She takes another drink of water, "He's the Hand, the old man is the Prophet. Tar Pit used to be in charge, but now Grekkor handles things. It happened right after the grass grew and the Spring came. Big stuff. For believers. For you, who knows?"

    Grekkor comes out of The Baths now, inspecting a couple groups of Pryers, one has a dog.

    If you want to chat with him, go here.
  • Winter sees Grekkor and her stomach turns... The thought of talking to him now, after he expressly turned her away, doesn't sit well with her. Heck, all she wanted was some help making sense of Cherry... This is ridiculous. She should get back and just wait for word from Fitteen. ... Speaking of that, she asks, "Fitteen is one of you guys, right? What's the deal if she wants to leave the Pryers? Can you do that, or is this a life-long bond or something?"
  • Pretzel smirks again, shakes her head a little, "Once you take the oath, you don't leave. Unless you die. She could swear an oath to another master, but the Pryers will always have their hooks in her. The Death Ritual is the only way completely out. Why do you ask? The little runt decide she likes you better?"
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