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[Trickster Fanfic] The Velvet Curtain (2/10?) - Part 1

Posted 03-01-2009 at 01:18 AM by Catharsis
Updated 01-14-2010 at 06:30 PM by Catharsis
Old debts get settled, one way or another…

Part 2 of this post.

Read the rest HERE.

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart

Act 1: Swords of a Soldier
Chapter 2

Oops Wharf was, for all intents and purposes, a hellhole. The town was old and run-down, its low-rise establishments all peeling paint, rusting hinges, and perennially covered with grime. Tumbleweeds would have littered the streets has winds wandered this way, and the dusty road would have shone a blinding wheat-yellow had the sun bothered to shine without a shroud of clouds filtering light to gray. It turned out neither was happening in that god-forsaken territory anytime soon, and so the town, even with its relative proximity to the sea, remained dark, dank, and dirty. The only time it ever gleaned a touch of color was sunset.

Whenever the sun abandoned the town for the night, it burned a fiery red, and for a few precious minutes the world caught fire.

Shawn paused on the side of the road, indigo eyes misted over as she watched Oops Wharf come alive, if only in appearances. Even a few passers-by and riders with their horses paused to watch the sun sink in the west, the only point of interest in the relatively dreary town.

And then, much too quickly, dusk turned to night, and Oops Wharf became even darker than before. It was an appropriate look for the underworld.

Set in an unmarked area on the Caballa map, most people did not even know of its existence unless they had at one point in their lives found themselves escaping from the long arm of the law… Or searching for someone who did.

Shawn had no doubt that every person she had encountered since she came into town a couple of days ago had, at one point or another, murdered another person, sold drugs and weapons, or sold themselves. Inns and saloons were full of drunks and gamblers, and shoot-outs on the streets were normal occurrences. Every man bore the mark of guilt, and the few females in attendance were *****s.

She glanced at a prone man across the road, his face pale with death and his chest caked with coagulated blood. Soon, when the nearby saloon opened for business, someone would haul the corpse away not out of respect for the dead, but to clear the entrance for customers.

Shawn allowed herself to feel a tinge of pity, before washing it away with cold apathy. The cloak of self-righteousness ill-fitted the likes of her; she had, after all, probably sinned more than half the town’s population put together. Demons kept a very special place in hell for the likes of her.

It did not take long for her to reach her destination. Gingerly she fingered the glossy ivory card the Dragon had dropped upon her lap with a smirk and a provocatively breathy, “Crow’s at sunset, suite 215.”

Not one for procrastination, she marched up the dilapidated three-story inn and almost gasped when the contrasting posh interiors met her gaze. Despite the haggard appearance of rotting wood and peeling paint of its exteriors, the inn’s lobby was decorated with gleaming hardwood floors, antique lamps and coffee tables, and plush velvet couches edged in lacquered mahogany. A well-dressed receptionist sat primly behind a counter, and what she could only presume to be the manager stood in front of the front desk, the white of immaculate suite glowing in the lamplights.

Nothing is ever what it seems, she mused bitterly, ignoring the approaching innkeeper in favor of the carpeted stairs. She found suite 215 fairly easily, and before raising her hand to knock, muttered, “…nothing, not even him.”

The door swung open before her fist touched the wood, and too quickly the exotic scent of sandalwood and opium overwhelmed her senses. Yet, it was nothing compared to sight of Luong casually leaning against the door frame with his usual mysterious smirks and smoldering indigo eyes. Under the dim glow of antique gas lamps, the lithe line of his torso all glowing moonlight skin and artlessly draped jewels. A simple turquoise sheath draped low on his hips, and would probably fall off had his left hand not rested on one jutting hipbone.

“You’re wearing a skirt,” was the first thing that came out of Shawn’s mouth.

The smug Dragon’s smirk only widened. “Ah, but I make it look good.”

Luong lifted the hand on his hip and waved it nonchalantly, and Shawn was almost relieved when the cloth didn’t fall off.

“Whatever.” She shoved past the aristocrat and made herself comfortable on a velvet-upholstered arm chair, casting an appraising eye on the suite. The room was spacious, and decorated as whimsical and exotic as its occupant. Swaths of indigo-and-lilac batik swaths draped a large bed with bronze silk sheets, as well as several chairs and couches. Intricate, colorful knick-knacks covered every available surface, including lamps, incense and scented oil holders, perfume bottles, vials upon vials of various potions, and leather-bound books labeled with foreign scripts.

“Finished with your inspection of my humble abode?” Luong inquired politely as he lowered himself upon a loveseat and curled his legs on the cushions, one elbow casually propped on a pillow as he lounged back comfortably. His eyes, hawk-like and endlessly dark, watched her face with disconcerting raptness.

“Humble?” She scoffed. “Obviously you are a wealthy aristocrat, perhaps even royalty if your arrogance is anything to go by. A light dragon,” she ascertained, casting a glance at the vials and the spell books. “A high-level priest.” She smiled as Luong raised an eyebrow. “Which bring to mind this mystery…” Elbows resting on her knees, Shawn leaned forward, violet gaze sharp on her enigmatic companion. “…What the **** are you doing in this hellhole?”

* * *

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