The Dan

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Everything posted by The Dan

  1. ...and it made me frown

  2. Halloween

  3. Celebration Thread

  4. yo

    father mudkip standing by
  5. Triumphant Return

    what an exciting day for returns
  6. Hi, me llamo Phreshaer.

    phresh i like fajitas so we'll get along
  7. Hi Nervous I'm Dad

    hi i'm dan i like knives but contrary to abovestated, i don't usually love to befriend sixteen year olds, they kind of just follow me around most of the time i also know about the lights above the arby's
  8. Starry Sean Protest

    curious as to what my name is on brianna's list. like this post if you agree.
  9. Starry Sean Protest

    voted sean five stars. this is tragic. my prayers are with him and his family.
  10. You are a BUTTFACE.

  11. CLOSED The Firstborn of Lancaster

    I lamented my choice to come to the continent of Estrines, home to the Lancasters and their grand castle. I lamented that I had named Myr, and that I had named Myr after a dragon I had once been close to. I wanted to be gone from this place, but I now owned a dragon, and that meant I was responsible for that dragon. I was also responsible for my duties, though I did not look forward to fulfilling them. The "Firstborn of Lancaster", I had learned, had technically died some two decades ago, though the unborn child had not been named. In Thera, where a man's word held power, words and names were used carefully. In the days of Thera's founding, only the truest of blood could be allowed to take a royal throne, but when the truest of blood was no longer available, the people found sanctum in their elected officials and established nobility through the power of the commoners' respect. It was said, in Thera, that influence could be bought, and nobilty could be obtained, but respect must be earned. In Castle Lancaster, I had obtained the title of Lord, and wondered if it was always so easy to obtain nobility through nefarious promises. Regardless, the Firstborn of Lancaster had earned the respect that can only be earned by surviving to the age of ten. John, of Hunter's Corner, had earned the name John Sure-Shot before that age, and adopted it as his man's name. His Royal Highness, Stephen Augustus Lancaster IV, Prince of Estrines, had a much better name, so I thought. But, I also thought, the two boys would have enjoyed playing at jacks together, had things been different for my life. I hated royals, fiercely, as I bowed to them stiffly from the back of the court. Their glances were vicious. I was patient, and the horse I le was well-trained, even despite its youth. It was a beautiful thing, and would someday be a strong stallion. I thought it matched its owner well, in that aspect. The boy prince, who I was tasked to kill, barely glanced at my face, in his joy of seeing his gift horse. I did not hold this against him at all, and in fact, I smiled in unrepressed amusement when he ran towards to touch and pet the colt. The noblemen muttered, and I caught myself quickly, bowing, again stiffly, for the highborn boy. I had presented my gift, and fulfilled today's small task. I had taken the measure of Prince Stephen. I had decided, then, that I did not wish to kill him. Perhaps I would capture him, or hold him ransom. Perhaps, then, no man would be able to speak ill of my word, nor my success. For a dragon-rider to assassinate is not unheard of, but it is disgraceful to all dragon-riders. We are warriors of the sky, and proud masters of the proudest animals on the planet. We enslaved lizard and human alike, and controlled them. To an army, there is little more terrifying than a guild of riders darkening the sky; to a tavern wench, there are few men more interesting. Perhaps we were not the noble knights of castles, nor the fierce peasant barbarians who were paid in levy during wartimes. Perhaps we were not the sly snipers or rogues of the grand cities, but when farmers have nightmares of their daughters being seized by men, they dream of wyverns, and the cruel men on their backs. I was certain I would not be paid the large sum of gold promised me, if I took the route of capturing the boy. However, I soon began to realize that the games of these nobles went rather deep around me. My bones told me to be gone from this place, and not to return. I grew more certain as the days passed that, even if I should manage my secret job, I would find knives, and not gold, even if I sought ought Master Arin. It was in my duty to care for the horses, and I slept mainly in the small hut near the stables. It was comfortable and pleasant, but small, and the stench of horse-dung prevented me from sleeping the first night. Baena complained of the smell when I went back to her, saying I smelled of horse, and not man. She did not complain overmuch, but she did ask many questions about my plans for the princeling. I told her the castle was very secure, and that I had much thinking to do. I did not go to see her after that. I did see Myr every day, after the afternoon overseeing of the pages. It was my task to teach them about the various weapons and their uses on horseback. Pages, to my eye, are slaves for knights, even though they are boys. I wondered how many of my students would be sacrificed, should Lancaster ever decide to bring them to war. I did ask any of their names, but they asked many questions of me. I told them as little as I could, and was glad that they seemed intimidated by my short gruffness. However, they seemed to admire me, and when one of them followed me and discovered that I took care of a dragon just outside the castle, I realized that I had earned many more followers. At first, I was paranoid of them, thinking they were spies sent by their masters. But it became clear to me soon that they were just boys, young soldiers, who were amazed by the way I dealt with Myr. It was not long before I had to explain to one of them, a sandy-haired freckly lad, the oldest and bravest of the teenagers, that to try to sit on the horse would almost certainly be the last thing he would ever do. Indeed, during these first few days, Myr himself seemed agitated by all the attention, and required much firm treatment. But I was patient, and I was fond of the creature, for he always held himself proudly, and almost seemed to enjoy showing off. One day, I ran him through standard diving routines, and at the apex of one of the tight curves, he released a wild roar, the roar of an alpha male over a land. To me, this was extremely significant. It meant he was comfortable with me on his back, and would be willing to eat with me. To the boys below, it was a magnificent display of power. I was not unaware, thereafter, that I had other followers. Waifs from the kitchen, no doubt tracking my movements and relaying them to spies who paid them. Older girls, from the brothels, sometimes followed me as near as the castle gate itself, only to give me a flower or beg for my patronage. I was certain that at least half of those girls were being paid to do so. For the rest, I understood that I was a dragon-rider from Thera, the new Lord of Horse, the upjumped stableman. I was an exotic novelty. I hoped that the attention on me would dwindle before the month was over. On the days when it was necessary for me to be in the castle, I bathed carefully, and even purchased flower-and-spice oils similar to those that I had smelled in the castle before. Myr would not let me near him for the whole day when I had to wear them, so I only entered the castle when it was absolutely necessary. Twice a week I gave lessons to Prince Stephen, who I found a studious and avid learner. He was very interested in horses, but he seemed intimidated by me. I made certain to give him no reason to fear me, and focused mainly on the lessons. In truth, I was no master of horselore, but I had been a cavalry archer before I was a dragon-rider, and I knew plenty by experience. I taught him the basics that any lordling should know: the different breeds and types of horse, and what they were fore, the strengths and weaknesses of male and female, ideal diet within the area, and so on. I knew he would be expected to hunt, and under the guidance of Master Arin, showed him the hunting bow. In the archer's field we shot arrows for two hours. Him going as far as to applaud when I first showed him the proper technique. It would be many years before he could hit a bulls-eye on every shot, but he showed promise. He spoke often of knightly tales, and seemed to be attached to a story about an archer who had saved his sister. "I want to shoot like Able David!" he had said, in dismay, when his first arrow fell short of the target. "That is not the way of things," said Master Arin. Able David was a myth among commoners, a boy archer whose prowess with the bow had earned him much respect in his army. According to the story, he would challenge the general of opposing armies to a match, and impress them with his skills, thereby being able to find compromises with enemy groups. Able David was the hero of John of Hunter's Corner. "It is important for you to learn to hunt, but you are not a commoner boy. You must be able to face an army in the field, rather than try to wheedle out of it, like a coward." "Master Arin is wise," I said, patiently. "He is a great swordsmaster. Your Highness must remember that a swordsman fights with honor, and honor is the measure of a man. The bow may kill a beast at fifty yards, and give you food to feed a family for a week. A sword can protect your honor." I adjusted his shooting posture as I spoke, and directed the angle of his pull. I gently stepped back, and when he released the string, the arrow his the blue ring around the bullseye. "Your Highness shoots well!" "Your Highness shoots well," echoed Master Arin, applauding gently. The princeling beamed at him, and lined up another shot. I was very aware of Master Arin's hand on his hilt for the session. I was very careful not to make any sudden movements. Prince Stephen talked as he shot, babbling about his colt, babbling about the stories his older sister had told him about Able David, sometimes asking questions about the bow. He was a young boy, but a good talker, and he asked complicated questions. Master Arin answered whenever possible, and I answered when he hesitated. It was clear that he was a swordsman, not an archer. I explained about the different sorts of feathering, and arrowheads, and the different types of bows. I told him that when he was old enough to shoot on horseback, he may like to learn the shortbow. When he expressed an interest in the greatbow, Master Arin laughed that the greatbow was a weapon for peasants. "I would like to try one someday," persisted the boy. "It takes a lot of strength to pull a greatbow," I said. "Indeed," said Master Arin, "it requires a commoner's strength. Even I am not able to do so." I turned to Master Arin, who had spoken too much. I wondered if he knew how I judged him. He did not look me in the eyes. I smiled. "Perhaps when Your Highness is a full man, with broad shoulders to swing a greatsword well, I will teach you the subtleties of the greatbow," I promised the persistant prince. He knew this was not the way of things, but I think that only made the prospect more exciting to him. Indeed, he giggled. I felt rather than saw Master Arin's sharp look, stepping forward again to adjust the prince's angle. On the next shot, his arrow pierced the bullseye, just to the left of my own shot. We both applauded him. Master Arin cornered me after the lesson. "How goes your preparations concerning the assassination?" he said, frankly. It was only then that I realized how alone we were, in the archer's field. Perhaps wisely, it had been reserved for the prince's use this evening. Master Arin smelled of sweat. He stood squarely in my path, and had drawn his sword more than an inch. I was unarmed, and looked askance at the bared steel. "You have my word that I will take the firstborn, at the end of this week, in the morning," I said quietly. I had given my word. He seemed satisfied. "I have much to think about yet," I explained, and did not look back as I walked past him. When I returned to the room, there was a greatbow sitting on my thin mattress, with a single sniper's arrow beside it. I knew who the arrow was intended for. I hid the weapons under my bed, where a Theran sword and buckler waited. The shield proudly bore the sigil of the guild of which I was a member: The Dragon-riders Without State, a guild which rarely protected outlaws and tended to only claim patronage to the just. Wearing the thick one-handed saber made me feel safer around pirates and cut-throats, and wearing the shield made me feel safer around the captains and merchants of the sea. It was perhaps thanks to them that I had had no trouble getting to Estrines by boat. I had also bought a short-bow and a matching quiver, which held about two dozen arrows. I slid the thin, silver arrow in amongst them, displeased by the way it stood out. It was taller, thinner and more expensive than my other arrows, which were broadly-angled and heavy cavalry arrows. These were meant to puncture the thick plate armor of a knight, but would likely not leave a fatal wound. The sniper's arrow had fine, sharp razors embedded down its length, which would help it fly true, and tear a vicious hole in any unarmored target. I wondered if I would ever use that arrow. I imagined it punching through the body of the child it was intended for. My stomach lurched. I lamented my decision to come to Estrines. * * * * * * * * It was halfway through this week that I came to understand the way things were. The prince would be seeing off his sister's retinue, as she was of age to be sent off as, essentially, a hostage of courts. Perhaps it would be later agreed that she would be married to the prince of the castle she would now live in. Perhaps she would be married to a lesser lord of the nearby lands. Perhaps she would return home in a month. Perhaps she would be lost to bandits on the road. It was a game of kings and queens, of females. The prince and his mother would be seeing off his aunt's retinue, as her visitation celebrating the Prince's nameday had come to an end. They would be taking with them Princess Ophelia, His Highness's older sister, and it would be a proper royal affair. During the pomp of the Royal Family's leave of the castle, excepting of course the King himself, the front of the castle would be on high guard. There would be a great number of knights and spearmen, with noblemen wearing their little swords, applauding their own attendance of the meaningless affair. The archers would be manning the walls around the castle, leaving the front of the keep, itself, devoid. Nobody would expect someone within the castle to shoot at the back of the royal family. The ballistae atop the keep towers, of course, would be well-active, with crossbowmen at the ready. Should they become under attack, it was the job of those men to raise the cry, and protect the Royal Family with supporting fire until they had retreated into the safety of the Keep. I would be able to make an easy shot with the sniper's arrow from one of the Keep's many arrow slits, intended for the defense of the castle. I would be able to blend in with the noblemen bustling about during the madness of it all, discarding the bow anywhere to maintain my innocence. I would be able to escape suspicion during the hustle, as very few within the castle would have assumed that the Lord of Horses would be a master of the greatbow. Indeed, even those who believed the gossip that I was John the dragon-rider, Master of Myr, knew that such a man was skilled with the bow. I would escape suspicion, receive what was due to me, and that would be the end of that. That would be the way of things. During one of my walks of the towers, I came unexpectedly across the High Steward, Lord Albelin. He greeted me dryly, and I bowed my head. "How are the horses?" asked he. "They are as well as can be expected, my Lord." "What brings you to the North Tower?" I shrugged. "On clear nights like this, I like to sit quietly beneath the stars," I recited. This was not the first time I had been questioned. "In the town below, there are lights of candle fire, and noise of content folk. At the top of these towers, there are only quiet archers, and the moon and stars above." "I see," he said furtively. "It would do you well to stay away from the ballista tonight. It is undergoing routine maintenance." I shrugged again. I knew that that was a lie; I had done a bit of work on the ballista with my belt knife, the past three nights. I was grateful that I did not wear it openly. "That is unfortunate. I suppose I will return to the stables." This time, the smaller man shrugged. He did it with the hint of a smile. "The South Tower is understaffed tonight. Perhaps you would find it accomodating. I bid you good-night." I bowed, and made my way to the South Tower. I was sweating. Did he suspect me? Was he aware I had done it? I frayed one of the ropes with my knife, such that it would snap upon being pulled, rendering the ballista useless for at least five minutes. This was necessary to my plot. I had already done the same in the South Tower, last week. It was fortunate for me that Castle Lancaster was infrequently under attack by dragons. In the South Tower, I played my part, watching the skies for at least an hour, and having minimal discussion with the soldier on duty. He asked me badly-veiled questions about archery, and I answered noncommittally. He was whittling a branch into a rod to be used as an arrow, and frequently complained of a dull knife. He asked me, more than once, if I had a knife on my person that he could borrow. I was certain that to admit I was carrying the knife would result in my capture, so I explained that a stableman did not have much need of knives, and a man with a beard certainly had no need for a razor-sharp one. The man was not able to extract any damning confessions from me, but I learned a good many things. For one, nobody seemed to notice the pebbles that I had wedged in the mechanisms of the southern ballista, behind the guards' backs. They only seemed aware of the knife-frayed ropes. This was good news for me. For two, the northern ballista, which I could barely see, had been completely dissassembled. It would be in perfect working order, come the end of the week. This was bad news for me. Third, because my mind was flying in a wild panic, I had noticed what I had missed before. Lancaster was so far from the forest mountains of the northeast, and the drakes that preferred such ranges, that dragons infrequently appeared in the castle at all, let alone feral ones attacking it. These soldiers were not well-versed in combat against dragons. I realized, then, the significance of Myr's alpha roar. Here, we were the hunters. I smiled on the way back to my hut. I knew the true the way of things.
  12. Astride a dragon, no man is bound to the earth. No man can claim himself shackled by riches, women, honor, or even gravity, when looking down upon the bustling commons of even the grandest of cities. No, such a man has an aloof mind, and such a man is truly happy. It is said by some that a man finds himself, truly, in the throes of love. Others claim that a man feels the full brunt of the responsibility of existence, crowned in a throne, heeding his subjects. Yet others argue that no man who has ever seen the open sea may die happily, except on the sea itself. But John the Scarred is a dragon-rider, and he does not intend to die on the open sea. I had had other names before. John of Hunter's Corner was my child name, and John Sure-Shot was my man's name. The Accused, too, I had gone by, but I found The Scarred to be much more fitting. The Accused implied that I had stood before the courts pleading innocence, which was not the case. The Scarred implied only that I had been marked by the past, that I had been maimed, and I did not mind if those aspects defined me. But, in the skies, I was not John the Scarred, and I was not even John. I was just a dragon-rider. In Hunter's Corner, wyverns were a dangerous part of the night. They were something to be dealt with, like bandits, and traveling merchants, and slavers. The town would offer their price, and should it match the requirements of the newcomer, the town would find their children spared, or their interests furthered. John of Hunter's Corner had had a sister, who was killed by a wyvern. He did not frequently think of her, but he did frequently remember that he hated dragons. He remembered this, very frequently, almost as frequently as he remembered that he hated bandits, slavers, and traveling merchants. I hate many things, really. I hate war, and combat. I hate the sounds of dying men, horses and dragons. I hate slaves, and the way they submit to anyone, just because they are weaker. I hate the sounds they make when being whipped or used. I hate slavers, and bandits, and traveling merchants, because they are all essentially the same thing. But most of all, I hate royals. The soft, useless, unblooded royals, their women worthless trophies, their men thin-bearded children. I hate the wars they fight against each other, the way they turn blind eyes to slavers, and the way they buy and sell dragons and dragon-riders like mere product. I hate the way they buy men, train them as battle slaves, and call them Soldiers and Heroes, Knights and Cavaliers. I hate soldiers, who bow to anyone with a crown, all for money or glory or honor. John Sure-Shot had been proud of his strength and his honor. He had never shirked his duties. But John the Scarred, with the pale hempen pattern across the skin of his upper neck, hated his strength and his honor. John the Scarred hated his duties. But, John the Scarred did not hate flying, and he especially did not hate flying with alacrity. This wyvern, though young, was the swiftest I had ever flown. I was sure I could escape from Lancaster for good, presently, on the back of this beast. We could cross the gleaming seas and return home to Thera in just one night and one day. I fantasized about stealing the dragon for the rest of my time in flight. When I landed him, it was no small affair. A commotion had gathered, pointing, and the people aground had applauded Lord John's graceful command of the fanged monster. This was a wyvern that Lancaster soldiers had captured with iron and chains, a young male, untrained, wild and feral. And this man was the mysterious new Lord Horsemaster of Lancaster, even if no true lord except in name, resplendent in the pristine uniform of one befitting his station and title. Today was the second day that I had spent with the dragon, and I already knew the beast trusted me to fly him. Most men were not able to handle a wyvern. Most men were not talented at racing them, either. Most men were not dragon-riders. When I dismounted, I kept a firm grip on the leather rope that was attached to the creature's jaws. As the crowd gasped, I turned to face the wyvern, pulling on the rope, until its reptilian head was level with my own. Deeply in focus, we stared at each other for a long time, as the crowd whispered foolish warnings at me. They called that I would die, they pleaded with me to be careful, to stop, to run. Some children whispered prayers to the dragon that it did not kill me. Indeed, the wyvern's wings twitched in irritation. Indeed, the leather straps across its jaw would not stop it from tearing me to pieces. But I knew that this eye contact would stop it, would force it to consider me. Some lordlings in the crowd jeered that I must be seeking to earn a new scar by dragonclaw. Others laughed uncomfortably. The dragon blinked, and I blinked, and then we put our skulls together. I patted its neck roughly, with a smile. The wyvern responded by bumping its snout into my temple, gently, dazing me. I was very glad I was wearing a rider's helmet, shaped like a dragon's crown, or that might have been the end of Lord John, Horsemaster of Lancaster. I gave the dragon an appreciative look, and removed the helmet. I loosened the rein, and offered it over to the dragon's keeper, the man that I personally considered to be the bravest Knight in all of Lancaster. "I will accept the price," I said to the Knight, who had captured the dragon from its roost. The Knight ignored the ritual offer of the rein, for he was not a dragon-rider, but he did offer a handshake to confirm the transaction. I am certain that the dragon had noticed all of this. "Then it is done, and I am happy for it," laughed the grey-haired Knight. I was not sure if he meant he was happy for the promise of the gold, or happy to be rid of the wyvern. The beast was a young male, very territorial, and very hungry. It was no small feat to contain a dragon, and required special holding pens, of which there were few in Lancaster. Furthermore, it was no small cost to feed a young dragon, as they usually required much living meat. They were very picky, and refused to eat anything they had not personally killed. I had been told that the dragon - now, my dragon - was used to a diet that was about two pigs per day, or two deer, or one cow, or occasionally one boar, when a live one could be found. I was glad to hear that it was no longer accustomed to human flesh, as that had likely been much of its diet when it lived free. "Will you name him?" asked the ignorant Knight. A dragon-rider is like to use many dragons in his lifetime, and must be willing to sacrifice or even kill his own dragon. Even outside of combat, a dragon may turn wild and demand an honorable fight to the death with his master, usually by means of immediately tearing his head off. I had never named a dragon before. I had ridden named dragons, to be sure, especially while racing. Most of those dragons, though swift, were very weak, almost tame. They had trainers and feeders and fans, who all loved it, and so they were bestowed names. "Myr," I said, without thinking, and then I blinked. The dragon, of course, did not react. "That is a good name," said the Knight, still in a good mood. He was eager to be done with the transaction, and now, so was I. That night, I did not return to the castle. The nobles did not expect me to, I was certain, as I had allowed rumors to start that I liked to spend my nights in common taverns. I did wear a modest brown cloak, but under it, I wore my gleaming uniform, brocaded in scarlet with silver linings. My outfit and station required that I wear a rapier, one of the strange dueling swords of noblemen. I decided that it was an utterly useless weapon, a trinket for rich men to display their virility, like the ruby-studded steel codpiece of the Head Knight of Lancaster. But, tonight, I was not hiding, so I wore my full uniform, but I wanted to be perceived as though I intended to hide, so I also wore a humble traveler's cloak. Indeed, the tavern wenches did not seem to notice that I sat below my station, for one of them jested so fiercely about my beard that, on another night, I would have had her by the wrist and rented a room for the night in an instant. But I was here on business, tonight, so she earned a compliment by way of the flat of my palm. Like many of the wenches, she pretended to hide a dagger in her bosom, but unlike the others, hers was actually strapped to her corset. If she did choose to draw it, she would not cut herself, and I had the feeling she knew how to use it. I did not think she desired to use it on people like me, though. In my cups, as I waited, I thought of Myr, the riding-dragon. Myr was a dragon that I had not named, but who it was my job to ride. She was a mare, but kept alone and unbred, and so even in her maturity Myr was a vicious rider while in heat. I had not felt close to her, as a dragon-rider does not feel closely to a dragon, but she had acted as tame as any wyvern could pretend to be. In fact, she would kneel her head, on its long neck, as I mounted her, which I found both amusing and comforting. It was, apparently, a sign that she considered me worthy of mounting her, as it was the same gesture a mare-dragon would make to a virile stallion-dragon, were she in heat and considered him suitable. Of course, our relations were not of that nature. Our record was a good one, and when she died of scalerot, I was one of many in the room. In Thera, the city of the greatest dragon races in the world, she was well-loved, and when she died, I was the one who the masses held responsible for her spectacular winning record. The most vivacious fans of the sport, especially in Thera, would sometimes recognize me and hail me as John, Master of Myr. I wondered if my new Myr would be offended to have the name of a female. I wondered if he would be honored to be the first dragon I named, and moreso to hold such an important name. I wondered if dragons ever learned that their names were their names, and not one of the many meaningless, strange mouth-noises that we strange hominids would scream at them. The same serving wench I had appreciatively clapped on the behind was again at my table, and I looked up. Now she carried two goblets, and placed them both down. There was a man at my table. He had been watching from below, even from the start, when I had flown today. "For the hairy master, and the old master," the maid chirped, and turned carefully. "She turns well," admired the stranger. He took a drink. "That is true," I said. "She walks beautifully, as well. I should hope to return here again." I lifted the goblet to my lips, but did not drink. "I think she would be relieved to hear that," said he. I eyed him freely now, as he admired her still. He openly wore silver buttons with rubies inlaid, and I might have recognized him sooner if not for the hood he wore. Unlike me, this man actually concealed his identity, but now that he sat, I saw the fantastic hilt of his own rapier. I had seen him use it, and I would allow that in his hands, the sword was not a useless weapon. He was the Master at Arms, whom I was subordinate to in my new position. "Baena is a sly girl, gentle as silk, but she likes to be treated roughly. And she likes hairy men, I have been told. She has worked with me for many years." He eyed my goblet. This time, I did drink. When I put the goblet back down, it was empty. "You are the one who contacted me in Thera," I said, quietly. With a look that silenced me, he nodded. "Baena! More drinks, girl!" When she returned, she stayed, with her hand on my shoulder. I remembered the dagger in her bosom, and thought much of it. However, since her hand was on my shoulder, I let my own hand stray to her bottom. She did not seem to mind, but I still kept my other hand in plain view, on the table. It would not do well for Master Arin to think I was after his life. We drank in silence, but played a game that any soldier knew well. We both leaned forward slightly, stiffened, waiting for the other to make a move. Of course, neither of us would make a move. But the other patrons, wary that a fight might start, perhaps over the wench, moved away from the corner. "Would you like a room, Hairy Master?" Baena purred, backing away from my touch. Having found the staring contest going in my favor, I had taken a bold, victorious grope. It was a meaningless gesture, and his eyes flicked to her questioningly as she shifted. "That might do us well," I said, not breaking eye contact with Master Arin. I thought that now that we were relatively alone in the corner of the tavern, he might be willing to speak to me more, but he remained silent. I put two gold pieces on the table. Baena snatched them up, in a moment, disbelievingly. "I know these are Thera coins, but I believe they should be sufficient," I explained. Arin smiled, and we broke eye contact. He nodded to Baena, and scribbled a note to me on a piece of scrap paper. I memorized the allotted time and place, and immediately placed it into the candle. The date was set as almost a month from now, which I found curious. Baena gave me other things to think about, though, tugging me upstairs. She gave me other things to think about for more than an hour. I was comfortable while naked, and so was Baena. While Master Arin's entrance startled us both, towards the end of that hour, neither of us were surprised. The girl, her duty fulfilled, clothed herself swiftly and left. As for myself, I knew I was not allowed to clothe myself, but I did at least settle the blanket across my manhood. I continued to lounge, watching Baena as she changed, trading with her promises of 'next time,' all the while keeping the corner of my eye on the lithe old man, her true master, with his hand tightly on his hilt. Only when she was gone did he lock the door, and finally relax. I took that as a queue to clothe myself, and did so. He did not seem to mind. It was thus that he explained to me the actual details of the reason I had been offered this job in Lancaster. I knew, of course, that some sort of assassination would be involved. I did not think for a second that, as the story claimed, Lancaster sought to gain more influence with the Dragon's Guild by hiring a dragon-rider as their Head Cavalry Tutor. In essence, naming me Lord John, Horsemaster of Lancaster, was a joke for the noblemen, as a Horsemaster is nothing more than an upjumped stableman, albeit one suited to hold lessons on riding and care of horses. For a dragon-rider to be so named was, I had assumed correctly, a test of my patience and willingness to live with the royals. I expressed gratitude, and while acknowledging my patience, I did not allow him to sense the deep hatred I had for the courtly games of the lordlings and ladies. To him, I was a talented warrior, a respectably cunning master of the bow and dragon, and therefore a sufficient assassin. To me, I was John the Scarred, seeking a worthwhile investment temporarily in the shining, cruel castle of Lancaster. Master Arin did not name himself or me, but he spoke directly and simply. I was grateful that he chose to speak to me as a common warrior, rather than another player of his court games, in their innuendos and implications. I could understand the orders he lined out. I would tutor the royal family starting the day after tomorrow, and I must always remain inside the castle, unless I was in this room to see Baena. I would patiently mind the patterns of the guards, and the rotations of the battlements, such as the deadly collection of ballistae. "You will slay the target at the time and place previously mentioned," he finished, "and you will return to this room to collect the second part of your payment." I nodded, and began to ask questions about my supposed back-story. He filled them in for me, gracefully. I said that I would need my Theran monies exchanged for the less-conspicuous Lancaster coins. He tossed a large sack of money to my feet. I whistled. I supposed that I might make mistakes and offend some noblemen. He shrugged, gesturing to my rapier, hanging beside the bed. That made me smile, which in turn made him smile. I asked about the nature of my lessons, for I was no expert with horses, and I asked about who I would be teaching. I was not surprised when he informed me I would teach even the Firstborn Family of Lancaster itself. I did not ask any details about court intrigue, or his part in this ploy, or his motivations. As such, he found me comfortable to talk to, and as such I asked him about perhaps having Baena moved into my quarters, and I asked for a commendation for a dragon-armorer, such that I could fit out my new dragon, Myr, with the royal Scarlet and Silver of Lancaster. Altogether, I believe Master Arin found me an amiable assassin. He pretended to prepare to leave. That is when I chose to say, "You have not marked my target." He had been waiting for this. From his pocket, he took a silver piece of Lancaster coin. While the Gold pieces had printed upon them the sword, balanced upon which the scales of justice, the Silver piece proudly displayed the crown of Lancaster, showing off its modest glory. "The Firstborn claimant to the blessed Lancaster throne," said he, with pride. "Hail Glorious Lancaster." And he left. "Hail Lancaster," I murmured respectfully, tossing the coin into the sack. My scar twitched with the muscles on my neck. All the way home, I gripped the hilt of my tiny sword intensely. I did hate royals so.
  13. I know who you are.

  14. Surreality's Role Play Carnival is coming!

    I know who ??? is.
  15. Herro Thar.

    That is not true. I behave exactly as I was programmed to. Excepting the years of degradation of neural circuitry resulting in senility-like symptoms, obviously. Some would say it only makes me more human, though. Or, more loveable.
  16. Herro Thar.

    Hello, I am a fun nutjob. Welcome to the board. I am the senile old robot who frequents the board. You are new. Welcome.
  17. Back, but not as some know me.

    wow what are YOU doing here, OLD BEAN?
  18. Glasses and Astigmatism

    I too, have the astigmatism glasses ordeal. You'll get used to it in a couple days, though. It's worth it! :D
  19. Psychedelic Space Lounge

  20. if i prefer girly butts and i have a girly butt is that good or bad

  21. Sean

    dont worry about assassinations, sempai
  22. Sean

    senpai please acknowledge me