New Recruit (Archived)

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New Recruit (Archived)

New Recruit

"ANOTHER," the cry shouted, followed by a loud crack of a whip and a bout of shouting.

Sophia gave a grin at the sound, "Looks like that guard was dealt with, that'll teach him to keep his hands to himself."

She took a bite of the apple she was eating, tossing the fruit to a young man sitting on the back of a horse trolley. Catching it smoothly and taking a bite, grinning from ear to ear, Joek tilted his head at the girl. "Of course. Getting him drunk and putting him in the Magistrate's daughter's bed was childs play. A few lashes, and a well placed message later and he'll know he got hit by the Fox Army."

"Fox army?" Sophia chided at him, shaking her head. "I think we are better off without a name." He nodded his head, taking another bite. "The Troupe? Like a circus? I mean we are a big time circus act now."

"We are street performers Joek. For lunch money."

"Not for long." He cracked his knuckles, running his hand through his hair, tossing the apple toward the girl, the apple hit the ground and Joek slid off the trolley, taking a breath and looking over.

"Boss, who you talkin to? Is there someone else back der wicha?"
"No one Hickory. Now then. Lets go see what poor little fool got themselves latched up for the lashes."

He giggled to himself, walking down the street toward the screaming, his hands smoothing down his purple ascot in his black suit, his thin frame almost invisible in the night.


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Xala stood in the crowd, watching the public display of torture. She wanted a drink to dull the senses, but knew she could no longer trust her ability of self control when booze and torture were in the same arena. Other figures cheered and boo'ed at the poor guy. Xala started to sweat as the screeches filled her ears and the blood filled her nose. She needed to leave. Right now.

Her resolve had started to dissolve more and more since she left the guild. And lately she had become more paranoid. She saw cloaked figures out of the corner of her eye all the time, but they were never really there. Right? One obvious slip up and she'd be done for. She was sleep deprived, meat deprived, and joy deprived. How much longer could she last? Maybe if she crossed the ocean...probably not.

Xala turned and left down the street, the sounds of delightful shrieks still ringing in her ears. Distracted by the influx of intense sensory overload, she walked smack into a taller, well dressed man.

"Ugh, seriously? The street isn't yours, asshole." She blurted. Normally Xala stayed low-key and un-mouthy, but she was agitated with hunger and stress.




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Joek wasn't used to people not moving out of his way as he walked, and seeing this one girl run smack into him like this set him off balance. In an instant, Hickory was on the girl, standing over her, ready to throttle her.

"Ahem," Joek cleared his throat at the large man, pushing him to the side and looking the girl over. She was absolutely filthy. Perhaps some sort of orphan.

He gave the girl a grin, slipping a blade out of his jacket and flicking it between his fingers. "Well. They say that anything with your name on it is yours right?" He knelt down, and wrote it out in calligraphy for the girl to see, "J-o-e-k I suppose that makes this street mine." He stood up, walking toward the girl, the smile on his face again.

"So does that mean if I want to make you mine..." He trailed off, letting the blade slide off her shoulder as he walked by.

"Now, I do have to say. You look famished. Might I ask what it is that has brought you down on such hard times? Parents gone?" He was still circling the girl, sizing her up. She had a bit of an... evil... aura about her. Perhaps it was the way she was looking at him... hungrily.




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Xala flashed a quick glance at the behemoth that guarded the fancy man but returned her gaze when he called him off. Like a dog. Ugh...she used to be like that.

She watched him curiously as he spelled his name. Yo-ehk? Yoke? Jo-ehk? Joke? She supposed she wouldn't know it's proper pronunciation until she heard it. A low, boiling hiss came from her sinuses as his blade touched her. Oh she wished he would. She would bite him. And shut his organs down. Watch him froth at the mouth and twitch and choke to death on his own tongue as it swelled in his head--

Her thoughts were interrupted by his talking. Parents gone?

"Yeah you could say that...I guess." She locked eyes with Hickory as this Joek person circled her. She chomped her teeth at him quietly. Her eyes darted back to the green hair, then his face, "What do you care? Can I go find a corner to sleep in now?"




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A low whistle came from Hickory. "Yo boss, I'm not sure this chick is all der."
"Shut up," Joek said monotonously, stopping his circling. He wasn't blind, he saw her flexing her jowls at him. Like an animal. He looked her over closely... scales? He reached from under his arm, pulling out a cane and set himself upon it, grinning at the girl ear to ear.

"You want a corner to sleep in? But I own that too. You see. I own this whole town, whether they know it or not. I take what I want, sell what I want, and help who I want." His voice was low, but not chilling or cold.

"Boss," Hickory said urgently, taking a step between him and an empty alley. "I seent something."

Joek rolled his eyes, turning toward the alley, only to suddenly lean back, a blade skimming over his cheek as he did so, his whole body leaning on the cane.

"Oh great," he snarled.
"Which wealthy prick in the castles sent this one?!" He grabbed the hilt of his cane, ripping a rapier out of it and began to step toward the alley.

"Come out Assassin boy, it's time you got your licks from a true killer."

A voice came from the darkness, seemingly from everywhere

"I come not for you green Devil, but the girl. Hand her over, Your protection will not hold."

Joek turned his head toward the girl, a raised eyebrow.

"Well now, look who just got interesting. I assume you'd like to live. If so, you are now under my protection apparently. How bout we have some real fun. OHhhhh Hickory! Please illuminate our guest."

Hickory, reached into his pocket and produced a bag. Tossing it heavily into the alley, a bright flash occurred,and suddenly Xala would feel the floor move from under her feet as she was dropped into the underground.

"Well, we have a slight walk to do now, welcome to town. What's your name girl?"




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Xala jumped to a defensive crouch when the knife flew through the air, ready to sprint to safety. She knew she wasn't crazy. They had found her. A small snarl crept over her face as Joek talked. He sure did talk a lot. Before she knew it she was dropped into a dark, cold abyss. She was suddenly taken back to a few months prior, to her escape through the cistern and tunnels beneath Kolshtak. Turns out, all cities smelled equally awful.

She looked to him, her eyes adjusting in an instant, preferring that low light atmosphere, "Xala. I'm from Kolshtak. Who are you exactly?"




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Joek gave a smile as he walked down the hall. "Oh you'll see. Come along Xala."
The tunnels stretched for a bout 2 miles before Joek said anything else, Hickory out front lighting the way, and checking corners before walking through them. Eventually the sounds of clattering and shouting could be heard, Joek's pace picked up slightly as he walked, his rapier resting comfortably on his shoulder.

At the final bend, Joek stopped on heel and turned, using his sword to stop the girl in her tracks.

"Well now we are at a critical moment in our history together Xala." With a slight flourish, he took a step back and gave a small sigh.

"Are you going to be a problem to my little community? Do you plan on killing who you like, when you like? Are you going to eat any of my people? Because I'll tell you something, I know monsters when I see them... It takes one to know one my dear.

Now, what I was trying to get at is that the whole homicidal maniac running through town bit is sooo overdone. I mean, you have one psychopath, and you've seen them all. No no... What it takes to run a city... To rule a city I should say, is a bit of finesse. Some class, and some smarts behind it."

He grinned at the girl, looking a little unhinged.

"I suppose I'll reword my question.

Do you intend to be a monster that the Assassins will eradicate at which you'll just take down as many as you can before they do?

Or would you rather have the world in your scaled little hands? If the second is what you want, then boy do I have a place for you in my little.... organization."

He stepped through the light, tapping a toe on a stone that was jutting out and waving an arm forward. "My family. Now yours if you so wish it."

It was a massive domed underground room, covered with beds and tables and crates. Lots and lots of crates. A few people stood up and looked at Joek, quickly scooting away from him when he drew near. Obviously terrified of being within his vicinity for too long.

"Xala, everyone. Become acquainted. I have some business to attend to. Did you bring him in?"

"Yeah boss, Right after you dropped down, Skip and Fodder were able to grab the Assassin. Got him in the playroom for you."

"Great. Lets go say hello, shall we?"




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Xala walked in silence, her brain thinking of nothing coherent. Just hunger. She re-focused on Joek when he stopped and started to speak again. Taking a step back as he called her out she held her arms in each other, cursing her choice to bare her arms. How could she be so clueless?

She listened to his offer intently. A place of protection, a bed, food and water. But...another guild? How long would she last before being sent away for who she was again?

Xala said nothing to his never-ending questions, but instead just followed silently as they proceeded to the "playroom". He was observant, he would be able to tell by her body language she was not completely against the idea.

"Wow" she finally said, as they stepped inside. It was a playroom indeed...and it was exactly what she anticipated. Torture devices of all kinds. Yet the place was spotless. This Joek guy seemed to run a pretty tight ship. In one of the cells was her attacker, disrobed, dishonored through exposure. She blinked. For some reason...she expected someone else.

The boy stared back, frowning and glaring.

"I'm sorry...who are you?" she asked. He spat but kept staring. Xala scoffed in exchange.

"You really don't remember me?"

"Should I?"

"Albert, you disgraceful monster."

"Oh. Ok."

"Sam was my best friend." He was beginning to shake.

Xala shrugged, "I'm sorry I murdered and dismembered and ate part of your best friend. Now will you stop trying to kill me?" Albert pulled himself to his feet and approached the bars, "You are only so cocky thanks to your new friends. Remove this barri--"

She rushed to the bars quicker than a breath, her forehead leaning through it, her predatory gaze locked onto Albert's with hypnotizing intensity as he stumbled back a step. She whispered, "...and what?" Albert forced a small smile, like he had a deep dark secret, but said nothing. Xala stepped back, pleased with her dominance over the exchange.




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Xala walked in silence, her brain thinking of nothing coherent. Just hunger. She re-focused on Joek when he stopped and started to speak again. Taking a step back as he called her out she held her arms in each other, cursing her choice to bare her arms. How could she be so clueless?

She listened to his offer intently. A place of protection, a bed, food and water. But...another guild? How long would she last before being sent away for who she was again?

Xala said nothing to his never-ending questions, but instead just followed silently as they proceeded to the "playroom". He was observant, he would be able to tell by her body language she was not completely against the idea.

"Wow" she finally said, as they stepped inside. It was a playroom indeed...and it was exactly what she anticipated. Torture devices of all kinds. Yet the place was spotless. This Joek guy seemed to run a pretty tight ship. In one of the cells was her attacker, disrobed, dishonored through exposure. She blinked. For some reason...she expected someone else.

The boy stared back, frowning and glaring.

"I'm sorry...who are you?" she asked. He spat but kept staring. Xala scoffed in exchange.

"You really don't remember me?"

"Should I?"

"Albert, you disgraceful monster."

"Oh. Ok."

"Sam was my best friend." He was beginning to shake.

Xala shrugged, "I'm sorry I murdered and dismembered and ate part of your best friend. Now will you stop trying to kill me?" Albert pulled himself to his feet and approached the bars, "You are only so cocky thanks to your new friends. Remove this barri--"

She rushed to the bars quicker than a breath, her forehead leaning through it, her predatory gaze locked onto Albert's with hypnotizing intensity as he stumbled back a step. She whispered, "...and what?" Albert forced a small smile, like he had a deep dark secret, but said nothing. Xala stepped back, pleased with her dominance over the exchange.




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Joek watched what transpired between the two, getting exactly the information that he wanted from both of them. Clapping his hands together, he stepped forward, grinning his usual grin. "So. It seems the two of you have met before. You ate his friend, he wants revenge... Oh do get over it Al. These things happen. He stepped between the two in the room though, looking them over and nodding to himself.

"Well you see, I could have use for you Xala. Especially with your more... Eccentric qualities. I could absolutely see myself bringing you up right in this world. Nice and full of all desires and temptations.

First though, I need to see how well you stack up against the competition."

With a wave of his hand, the boy Sam had a bundle of clothes thrown at him, a similar set was then thrown to ward Xala.

"Try that on for size. I swiped it from someone who got a little too brave for his britches." He made a sweeping motion for her to exit the room. They walked through the hall, and made there way to a large chamber with a pit in the middle of it.

"We call this the hugging station. It's where all greivances are hugged out."

The bloodstains on the floor and walls told of the sarcasm in the name.

"You will battle it out with Sam, winner gets to choose their future. Loser doesn't get one at all."




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The demon smirked in a way only a demon would, upon seeing the bloodstained walls of the hugging station. She was liking this arrangement more and more as Joek continued unveiling all his tricks and surprises. Finally, a place she could flourish and grow. A place she could belong.

She and Albert were both in rags, reminiscent of their beginning student years, when they weren't yet graced with robes or uniforms of any kind. Xala said nothing when given her orders, nor did Albert. This wasn't their first rodeo. There would be no bickering or complaining, only obedience...for survival.

Xala stepped away from Albert and they faced off almost robotically. She grinned maliciously, "We are unarmed. I have the advantage. You know that. You know what I am is the truth." Albert swung his arms into a self-hug as he warmed up his shoulders and back, "Yes. I know you are real. But you do not have the advantage." Xala scoffed. Yeah he was significantly bigger than her, but size isn't everything. She just had to make sure she wouldn't strike first.

Albert remained steadfast. He knew her game. He also, wouldn't strike first.

Xala sighed and dipped her head a little as she spoke, "Albert. If you know what you 'know'...then you -know- you will be with Sam again." Albert stared, unamused, "What...in the afterlife? Because, you're going to win?"

She smiled sweetly, "No silly...what I do with you...you don't get an afterlife. You'll be with Sam again...in my shit."

Albert lunged in anger, his large frame hardly slowing him down. He was an assassin after all. Xala ducked slightly to the left but took the tackle so she could grapple on to his body, instantly locking her jaws around the collar-area of his neck, tearing a chunk out with a juicy ripping sound. Albert stumbled and grabbed at his neck, holding the blood in to no avail. It surged and pumped out of his neck and down his chest, soaking the dirty clothing. The fight had begun and ended in only a few seconds. Xala swallowed, savoring the taste of living flesh as it filled her soul. She rubbed her dislocated shoulder, "See? Pathetic." Albert laughed softly.

"Indeed."

Xala twisted her mouth in a grimace of disgust at his curious attitude before her stomach turned. What...was that. The demon rocked back and forth slightly, her skin growing ice cold and sweating profusely in mere seconds. Vomit erupted from her gore covered face. She held her mouth with her hand and shot her burning eyes back up at Albert, who had fallen to his knees from blood loss. He grinned, "You sick...sick abomination. You have no place in this world."

"What...have you do--" more bile.

"The priests in this town filled me with their blessings. Seems....seems even holy men want you dead, and they don't even know you. I drank and drank until their blessed water filled my system."

"Fuck you..."

Xala remembered Joek's rule. Winner chooses their future. Loser doesn't get one. She just had to live. Or rather....he had to die first. She was banking on the blood loss to kill him rather than venom, so kept her fangs retracted during the bite. Xala fell to her knees and crawled closer to him. He braced himself, ready for the pitiful race to salvation to begin. Her toxin was too slow. It would have to be blood. He would have to defend himself until she died of holy poisoning.

Like two crippled beggars fighting over a coin, they locked in violent embrace. Albert grabbed her slim wrist and she wailed as he snapped it with his remaining strength. In return, she bit down again, this time on the wrist that held her, ripped off the flesh and letting his blood fill her. She felt the rush before the fire. She had to keep going. They were both soiled with blood and vomit at this point. It was....dishonorable. Her vision was hazy and whiting over and she felt her joints starting to lock up. He didn't scream, only panted as shock begin to take his body. Xala collapsed slightly on him and bit his jugular, pulling weakly until the flesh opened and the veins burst.

Xala slipped off of him, her body starting to shut down. Through foggy eyes, she saw his chest slowing down, his eyes looking straight up. She could make it.

With every ounce of consciousness that remained, she called softly, "Joek. Please. Help me." She won. Right?




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Joek watched the carnage with a straight face. The assassin was definitely putting up his fight, but he found the demon’s performance… lacking. He had always assumed that a demon was far more proficient at killing by her age. Maybe she was still new to it for some reason.

Everywhere she bit, more blood came forward, missing small crucial spots that would have ended the fight much sooner… The holy water was a welcome twist as well. It was interesting to finally get a chance to see one of those pesky assassins in battle, since they were always so cloak and dagger. The key to their successes were being illuminated to him. Preparation. They spent their efforts not only in building their strength and stealth skills, but also prepared themselves for the fight depending on the opponent.

Joek had been dealing with a string of assassinations in his troupe, and a few even attempted on his own hide. So to see one of them attempting a fight head on was a little more than instructional.
His eyes darted back and forth between the two of them, keeping up with the coming and goings of things while his men cheered around them. It was not an elegant fight to the casual watcher, but he had read the boy’s lips as he mentioned the holy water. So that would be something to keep in mind.

As the boy rolled over and the girl lay on her back, he tapped his staff on the floor, sliding down the sloped wall into the pit, being mindful not to let his shoes touch the blood as he hopped through the spots the rivulets of crimson had trained itself through.

He looked at the girl that called out his name, using his shoe and pressing it onto her shoulder, lifting his cane and bringing it down sharply onto the girl’s diaphragm, a trick he learned to pull on his men that showed up to work drunk. It would make her spill out every drop of the holy blood she’d just ingested.
He stepped over her to the lad that was bleeding out. “He’s still breathing…” He shook his head, looking at her with raised eyebrow, lifting his cane again, he slipped a cap off the bottom of it, exposing the blade tip of his sword poking through.

“Go on and get this one to a recovery room. She’ll need to sleep this one off.”
He slammed the cane down once more, this time into the eyesocket of the assassin.
He stepped over the body, the men already picking her up.

“You lost your future there… I gave it back. You owe me now.”
With a quick nod, they began to drag her to a room to recoup her health.




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Xala woke with a start in a pool of sweat. She instinctively went to sit straight up but the pounding in her head told her to lay back down. It was like a hangover and a sledgehammer mixed together. The attendant in the room came to her side with a tankard of well water in an instant. Xala downed it, her dry mouth croaking out, "more" in a feeble tone. The attendant said nothing and left with the cup. Xala laid staring at the ceiling, recalling the previous events. Joek. He saved her.

He took her kill.

Xala shook her head. No. He must not have been aware of how he disgraced her by doing so. Perhaps he was just in a hurry, for whatever reasons. Xala had to let it go. This was not a place to respect honor. What mattered was that she was alive.

The attendant returned with a plate of red meat and another tankard. He sat by the bed, "Drink first, then eat." Xala stared at the plate and it turned her stomach a little. She knew she needed it to heal, but it made her sick just thinking of it. Still, she obeyed, as she has done her all her life. The attendant nodded, "Joek will see you when you are finished."

Xala was standing within an hour. Her vision and brain was a little fuzzy, but it wasn't horrible. She pulled on her clothes and prepared herself to speak with her new ma--...boss.




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When the girl had been taken out of view, he looked down at the boy that was left and knelt down beside his still corpse. He gazed him over, looking for any other information that he may have missed.

"Ah," he muttered, producing a handkerchief from his coat pocket and wiping away at one of the bites in the boy's neck. Some of the sigil was missing, but the brand was absolute. This was definitely from an assassin guild in the area. This was the mark that the initiates were given early in their career, perhaps after they had gained their master and began true training. Too bad it was damaged. He stood back up, tiling his head toward one of his nearby men and snapped "I want the girl looked over for any markings like this one. You there, draw this one down, I want every person in the troupe on the lookout for the marking on anyone that comes into the city. If their necks are purposefully covered, I want them checked."

He stood fully, heading outward, pondering more unknown thoughts.

2 days went by and Joek was finally given the heads up that his new pet was awake. He grinned his grin, stepping hurriedly toward her room. The two guards by her door nodded as he walked passed, averting their eyes from him.

"Janet," he said opening the door to the attendant.
"I'm going to need you to cancel the meeting this afternoon. Tell him his son is safe for another day until I can reschedule."

The attendant nodded, heading out the door.

"Oh and you'll need this." He snapped his fingers to stop the attendant, producing a cloth from his inner pocket, white with red stains. "A few fingers to remind him what's at stake."

He turned his attention to the girl, still smiling.

"So did we rest well? I tried to feed a rat to my snake and I was forced to use a proverbial wrench to stop the predator from becoming prey."




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Xala snapped to attention when he entered. Her eyes followed his hands as he spoke, watching as he handed the bloody tissue to the attendant. She wondered where the meat she ate had come from.

Her gazed shifted to his when he addressed her and narrowed in agitation, "Yes. We rested quite well." She turned her head in shame for a second before turning back to him, "What's next?"




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Joek looked the girl over, noting at the rather ragged look of her. "Well for starters, it's time you got to know the city like I do. Though I'd rather we not do so... with your presence being such a... well.."

He sniffed at the girl, jerking his head toward the door. "Lets get you some duds kiddo. If you are going to be my new player, you are going to look like you belong to society."

He ran a hand through his hair turning toward the door fully to see a crowd had started to mull around the door. Everyone wanted a look at the new demon pet that Joek had procured. They all wanted to see what the taming process was going to be.

With a grin, he leaned back toward her. "Well lets go then."

They walked their way back up to the surface, walking down the street toward the market. Joek used a gloved hand to look up toward the sun. "Noon... you slept in deary. We have a few hours still though before nightfall and the fun. We will kill the time by getting you your new look... and new weapon."

The road ahead was filled with vendors, and Joek held out a hand. "Go ahead kid. Get all you need."




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Xala grimaced at his unmentioned comment on her appearance. The last few weeks on the run had not been kind to her and she knew she looked like a bum...she kind of was one...yet it still hurt to hear. Her gaze shifted to the doorway and the onlookers. A small snarl crept across her face. She did NOT like to be seen and she was face to face with so many eyes. Ugh.

- - - - -

Recoiling with an audible hiss at the sunlight, Xala shielded her eyes from the burning noon sun. Though she was typically a creature of the night, she never shied away from the warmth above. Today, however, it felt like acid on her face. The darkness of the underground had spoiled her. Xala's sour mood was instantly cured when her brain comprehended Joek's words.

"...anything?"

In an instant she was at the weapons stalls, silently oo'ing and aah'ing at the potential devices. Her eyes fell on a sparkling and sinister set of steel bladed talon gloves. Her head filled with heat as she recalled being a child and whispering her desires for such a weapon. "Too savage", "Too messy", "Not our ways". BAH! Xala pointed at the gloves, "I want these." The heat in her head moved to her belly as she instinctively imagined the sensation of tearing someone apart with her bare hands.

Like an excited teenager, she pranced among the stalls, pointing excitedly at the vicious contraptions that spoke to her. A whip, edged in sharp blades. A thick wooden stick studded with iron nails. Xala had never experienced a "shopping spree" before, and was truly relishing in the freedom. Her fingers continued pointing at all her desires, new clothes, armor pieces, books and maps. Xala slowed down as the weapons stalls did. Her eyes fell upon a stall surrounded by drunk men and lovely ladies. She paused before turning to Joek, "I think I need a haircut."

The amount sliced off would be enough to create a dog. Xala fondled her head, delirious by the lightweight sensation. Short and tight to the scalp on the edges with a bit up top. She felt....kind of badass.

She snapped her gaze to Joek upon bounding out of the shack, feeling 15 lbs lighter, "How do I look?"