Spook was technically not breaking any rules at all. He was outside, yes, on the streets, where he’d lived most of his life. Not these streets in particular of course, but one alley was as good as the next when it came to a place to sleep. He’d grown up here, among children like him, who didn’t care to be bullied by adults who didn’t care to have children. They’d invented their own slang to be as confusing to the people who had been deemed enemies as they could, and it had worked, almost too well. They’d been outsiders, to the nobility, and to the Skaa. And, now and then, Spook missed the simplicity of never belonging anywhere. Not that he wasn’t grateful. He had food, now, and people would (probably) notice if he were to fade out of existence completely. He looked up to Kelsier, especially. But it was nice to be on the streets again. He walked quietly, keeping his footsteps light against the cobblestone streets. There were people who would rob and kill you faster than you could open your mouth to scream here, desperate people who would rather risk everything than die of need. But he was good at avoiding people of all sorts. He wasn’t any more worried than he was all the time, anyway.
Wylan had spent most of his life making himself smaller. He had thought when he was little that maybe if he was small enough, the tutors would leave him alone. If he hid, his father couldn’t be upset with him. He could hide from the wrath of Jan Van Eck, and he’d escape unscathed. Those tactics had never worked in his home, especially not after his mother had left, but… on the streets? The same things that had failed him over and over again were useful. Maybe he wasn’t as street-smart as some of the others. Maybe he didn’t always know what he was doing, but he was trying. And he hadn’t died yet, which was more than he expected. His father still knew where he was. The letters came to his crew, and he always pretended to be hurt when the others stole the letters and read them. It didn’t actually matter – he couldn’t read them anyway. Free time was few and far between. Between missions, mostly, when you were expected to go procure your own food and gather your own supplies. Wylan wasn’t going to waste his time on that. It was one of the few times when there was nobody monitoring him, so he slipped down the streets, greeting some of the street kids in the slang he had quickly become accustomed to using. He wasn’t perfect at it, but he had gotten better. It hid his accent, at least… and the fewer people who realized he was noble, the better.
Spook had never so much as been inside a noble house. He knew nothing about how they worked, sending him undercover would have been a death sentence and everyone knew it. That didn’t mean he was at all happy about that, of course. He wasn’t. But that had nothing to do with his actual abilities and everything to do with his desire to help. He wouldn’t mind if he actually knew how to be useful in other ways, but he never seemed to have much to give. He wanted to help, but he didn’t end up doing more than fetching wine for Breeze most of the time...he moved a little faster, ignoring the pang at that thought. He could do more than that, he knew he could. He scanned the streets, taking in the people he could see, all of whom were Skaa, and most of whom were older than him. He caught sight of a couple of kids...then paused, brown eyes catching on red curls and the flash of a blue eye as a boy turned, looking around him. He was being cautious, Spook, could tell, and he looked young, as young as Spook was, maybe younger. Spook caught bits of slang in a soft voice as he greeted one of the other kids...and realized he was staring at the stranger. He looked away, determined to mind his own business. He didn’t know the other boy. Maybe he was new here…?
Wylan had been slow to pick up on the feeling of people watching him. It had almost gotten him killed a few times, but kids were nice – they told him and helped him avoid anyone who might attack, and all Wylan had to do was show them where they could get a bite of food or two to eat where there were the fewest Inquisitors and Obligators crawling around. He knew the best sports – they were where he had gone when he tried to get away from his father, before he had left for good. Before his father had threatened his life. Nobody knew where Wylan got the information, but he figured most of them didn’t care. A bit of food for a bit of protection. Wylan had only needed it for a month or so before he had started to get the prickly feeling that everyone else described when they were being watched. He felt it now. Startled, Wylan looked up, blue eyes catching hazel for a long moment. A kid, it seemed. He breathed out, waiting to see what the other boy wanted. He didn’t have much. A little bit of coin, but not enough to live on. Still… if anyone here was armed, they could easily make Wylan give that up, so he was careful not to let it jingle where it lay in his pocket. “Hello,” he murmured softly, aware he was in earshot of the boy. The other kids he had been greeting were forgotten – they were swarming over something Wylan couldn’t quite see. He was more intrigued by the boy who seemingly hadn’t wanted to be caught looking.
Spook had grown up with the feeling of being watched, had learned very young to detect when he wasn’t alone. He’d had to learn almost every at double speed to stay alive, and that was no exception to that rule. It was always nice to have extra eyes watching his back, though. He didn’t believe in safety in numbers, but he did believe in having a few people you could think count on around. He didn’t have anyone like that here. Anyone he counted on, well…they were elsewhere. And he didn’t trust the kids, as much as he felt at home among them. They weren’t the same ones he’d learned slang from, and he didn’t know them nearly as well. He blinked, surprised as the other boy looked up and caught his eye. Oops...he hadn’t meant to call attention to himself. He froze, eyes wide as he stared back. His brain trying unsuccessfully to bring up some sort of thing to explain why he’d been looking at him. No such luck. “Hi,” he replied, voice just as soft as the other boy’s was. He hesitated a very long moment, but...but he really did feel at home on the streets. Maybe getting to know some knew kids wouldn’t be so hard after all? He tried to speak. His voice failed him. He tried again, and managed a soft murmur. “I’m Spook.”
Wylan had needed to learn how to adjust quickly, but it wasn’t as easy for him as it was for some of the others. They had been doing this their whole life. He had been hiding for most of his, but he hadn’t needed to be aware of other people nearly as much. He could read expressions – he needed to be able to, for balls and functions among the nobility – but that didn’t mean he really knew how to keep himself alive. The skills weren’t as transferrable as he had hoped, but he had learned. There was a reason he hadn’t died yet, after all. Perhaps it was mostly because he was stubborn, but it was also because he was picking things up as quickly as he could. He wouldn’t die here because he didn’t know what he was doing. In truth, Wylan didn’t really care why Spook had been looking at him. As long as he wasn’t going to attack, he could watch for as long as he wanted. Wylan wasn’t doing anything illegal, for the moment. He couldn’t be turned in or anything. So there was no harm in Spook watching. The fact that Spook actually responded was a surprise. Wylan had gotten used to most of the kids being fairly unresponsive, even when he used slang. They really only talked once you got to know them – Wylan had reached that level with a few of the other kids, but none of them were here now. And he was surprised Spook had responded. “Wylan,” Wylan replied, managing a small smile. “Nice to meet you, Spook.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 14, 2021 10:07:14 GMT -5
If there was one good thing about the kids Spook knew on the streets, it was that they minded their business, and though they were tough, they weren’t cruel. It wasn’t in their best interest to exclude one of their own, after all, and it wasn’t like turning someone in was ever safe. They were free, in a way few people could claim to be. Except the nobility, of course, they were free from Spook’s perspective, but then...even they had responsibilities, didn’t they? Not like the kids. They were free because no one cared whether they lived or died, and no one bothered trying to control them. Which was why, standing here, Spook didn’t wonder where Wylan had come from, or how he’d gotten here. Spook was, at heart, still a street kid. He didn’t ask questions like what’s your story. He’d been surprised when Vin wanted to know his past, because he’d assumed she was a street kid too, but...well. She didn’t know slang, either. He was in between worlds. He still thought like a street kid, but he answered because he wasn’t one, not really. He didn’t live here anymore. He just visited now. “Nice to meet you, Wylan,” he said back, copying the phrase. It was more polite than he was used to kids being, but he didn’t mind it. He didn’t know Wylan, he should probably just keep walking and leave him to whatever he was doing. He didn’t want to. He tried to think of something else to say. “I was just...walking around,” he managed lamely. He cursed his awkwardness. “I haven’t seen you here before.”
Wylan had never considered his time in his father’s house as freedom. Perhaps he would have been given freedom if he had inherited his father’s business, but… he was too stupid for that. He wouldn’t be able to keep it afloat. He wasn’t a proper heir. Which meant that Jan Van Eck was doing everything he possibly could to procure a decent heir. If Wylan had been an Allomancer he may have been allowed to stay, but he wasn’t, so here he was. And the freedom he found on the streets was a breath of fresh air. Oh, there was danger to it, too. There were things he hadn’t thought he would ever need to be afraid of that were now constant challenges. He had to be on his toes at every second, or he could be hurt. But he felt that, in staying alive, he had accomplished something. That was more than he could say for his time at home, unless learning the flute counted. There were times when Wylan missed the ability to have casual conversation with strangers, though. The ability to say ‘hi’ and have the other person respond with kind words instead of a harsh glare or a threat. Those kind words were a lie, most of the time, but… Wylan shook the thought away. It wasn’t productive. He was here now, and he was having a conversation with someone he hadn’t met before just a few seconds ago. This was comfortable in a way the constant wariness wasn’t, not yet. “I… don’t tend to stay in one place for very long,” Wylan replied softly, gaze flicking up to meet Spook’s. The slang didn’t come as easy to him as it seemed to for the other boy, but it was safe. Safer than speaking normally, at least… and it felt a little bit like rebellion, too. It wasn’t a disguise, though. It wasn’t something he was putting on for a day that he could shed off and return to a posh lifestyle. In that way, at least, the slang belonged as much to him as it did to anyone else.
If Orpheus had any other options, he would not be working for a nobleman. He had heard how servants were treated, knew that the penalty for making a mistake could be as serious as death. But he couldn’t make money doing what he wanted to do with his life, and he wasn’t particularly skilled at anything. He knew how to do housework, but there weren’t any Skaa families that would pay for that, at least not in Luthadel. Leaving Luthadel would mean leaving Mr. Hermes, and after everything the man had done for him… it was out of the question. So here was, heading for one of the grand Keeps like he belonged there. He had put on his nicest clothing, trying not to seem too dirty or run down. He had to make the best of impressions, had to show that he was willing to do hard work, and then… well, then the work would begin. Once that happened, he needed to be polite and keep out of the way. That wouldn’t guarantee survival, but it was the only strategy he had. Orpheus was stalling. If he was late, though… he would be killed and tossed aside. Life was, apparently, a strong enough motivator for him to knock three times, his breath catching in his throat with each sound. He didn’t know what to expect. All he knew was that his life was riding on whatever he said when the door opened. And… if he made it through… it depended on every action he took within those doors. No pressure.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 15, 2021 12:38:50 GMT -5
He didn’t know it, but Spook’s life mirrored Wylan’s, if only a little bit. They both wanted to be useful more than anything. They’d both nearly been killed for who they were, what they couldn’t help. They’d both found a home on the streets and among the outcasts, children like them who didn’t have a home anymore, or if they did, it didn’t count as one. The difference was that Wylan had been in danger because of what he couldn’t do, and Spook had been in danger from what he could. If Wylan had been an Allomancer, he could have stayed with his father and been useful. If Spook hadn’t been an Allomancer, his family would have let him stay and left him alone. Spook was hated for what he was, and Wylan because of what he wasn’t. He was far more used to the harshness of the streets than he was the kindness and trust of the crew. He was still on the lookout for betrayal and waiting for someone to decide he wasn’t good enough to stay. He didn’t know why they allowed him to live with them and eat their food, especially when they barely used him for anything a dog couldn’t accomplish as well. He was mostly ignored, still. Mostly treated as invisible. He stayed quiet for a long moment, his eyes meeting Wylan’s. He could tell slang wasn’t as natural for him as most of the kids, who spoke it practically as their first language and struggled to speak anything else. Spook knew he did - he sometimes had to try when the crew asked him a question - and he knew someone who wasn’t used to it when he heard them. “That’s common,” he admitted. “A lot of us do that. Safer.”
Wylan had a feeling a lot of the kids he ran into had similar stories. It was just that none of them had the same story as Wylan. Noble kids weren’t thrown out. They performed the way they should, or they were killed. It wasn’t that he thought life for the Skaa was better, just that they had more freedom. Freedom came at a cost that was too steep to pay, for most. That wasn’t fair, not in Wylan’s eyes. But he had lost his position of power. He couldn’t do anything about that now, and he hadn’t realized how unfair the whole thing was when he was living with his father. He had learned quickly, though. He hated it more than he had hated anything in his life, but there was nothing he could do. He had his hands full just trying to survive. Spook was surprising to Wylan. He had started getting used to the way the street kids interacted. They weren’t polite, they rarely made eye contact, and they took what they could without thinking about others, unless you somehow managed to gain their trust. Spook looked like a street kid. He spoke like a street kid, too, but he mirrored Wylan’s niceties and he was willing to meet his eyes. Perhaps that was what drove Wylan to want to trust him. Perhaps that was a terrible idea, but… he was tired of not trusting anyone. He was tired of looking over his shoulder, and he’d only had a year of it, not a lifetime. “Safer,” Wylan echoed, managing a small smile. “Is that why I’ve never seen you around, either?” Wylan had a pretty good eye for faces – he knew which kids tended to hang around which area, and though new faces weren’t entirely surprising, he knew for a fact that he had never seen Spook before.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 15, 2021 20:41:25 GMT -5
L was never sure about new faces coming to his home, even when they were servants and unlikely to interact with him much at all. He didn’t trust them, and he didn’t like his space being invaded. Even if they apparently ‘needed work done’. He didn’t see what work needed done...he was perfectly content with how things were now. Why did they need a servant? He was sort of hiding. Not very effectively, but he was staying out of the way and pretending no one was coming to invade his space and move his stuff. Not that he had any stuff really. But he had a little and he didn’t want it getting moved. Watari was aware that L wasn’t very happy about this, but he had gone through with it anyway. Probably because of whatever work he was seeing that L wasn’t..but L was still avoiding him for the moment. He wasn’t mad at him. He was just not in the mood to talk to him. His hiding spot, naturally, was directly over the downstairs. There was a trap door in the floor, thin enough to listen through, in case of an emergency that needed him to drop through the floor and protect Watari from the stranger.
Watari wasn’t trying to annoy L, but he thought he was succeeding. He sighed lightly, rocking gently in his chair and knitting a sock for himself (L didn’t wear socks) as he considered the person who was coming for the job. He would be paid, which was something Watari felt was a small act of rebellion in and of itself. It wasn’t much. It certainly wasn’t enough. But it was a far cry better than nothing. He wasn’t sure what to expect. He didn’t think all Skaa were the same, which was another small act of rebellion, and he planned to give Orpheus the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Hopefully it would go smoothly, Orpheus would get used to the work, and L would stop being annoyed and get used to having someone else around for some of the day. He looked up as the knock sounded, and put his work aside, standing up and heading for the door. L, he assumed, would be watching from some small corner of the house, ready to intervene should Orpheus prove to be a serial killer or the Survivor in disguise. Which, he supposed, was really the same fear, not two separate ones. He opened the door and gave a soft smile at the person on the other side. “Orpheus, I presume?”
As far as Orpheus was concerned, nobility was nobility. He was aware that some of the Skaa were better off than others, but he didn’t really expect the same hierarchy to exist with the nobility. If you were noble, you had the power to do whatever you wanted. He didn’t really think that came in tiers. He was, of course, aware that some of the Keeps were larger than others, and that House Wammy was on the smaller side. But they were well off enough to hire servants, and he assumed they attended just as many balls as the larger houses. He didn’t really know what to expect, just that the nobility seemed to hire servants and get rid of them at a… well… concerning rate. But he needed a job, and he didn’t have any important skills that would allow him to work somewhere else. So here he was, standing on a nobleman’s doorstep. The man who answered the door wasn’t what Orpheus expected. For one he smiled at him. Orpheus wasn’t the best at reading expressions, but he didn’t see any malice in the smile… he shook the thought away, instead giving a slight nod. Did noblemen answer their own doors? Orpheus figured that was probably the job of their servants, so the man in front of him… despite being very nicely dressed… must have been one of the staff. Orpheus looked down at his own clothes, suddenly aware that he was incredibly underdressed, even wearing the best garments he owned. “Yes,” he murmured after a moment, trying to keep his voice from shaking. He lowered himself into a bow, deciding that respect was in order even if this was just another servant. “I believe Lord Wammy is expecting me…?”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 15, 2021 22:22:46 GMT -5
It was likely that kids on both sides were envious of each other. Spook had certainly been envious of the noble kids for having enough to eat and a place out of the cold nights, away from the mists. He’s wished he could be born to noble parents who would love him for his Allomancy and protect him from people who wanted to hurt him, not be the ones trying. But he’d ended up with Kelsier instead, and really...he didn’t wish those things anymore. Now, he saw the appeal of the streets again. He was invisible regardless of where he was, why not embrace it? He knew he would never actually leave the crew, though. They were the closest thing he had to family, now. He didn’t trust Wylan. How could he? He told himself he was just talking because he wanted to, not because he wanted to talk to Wylan specifically. He told himself he didn’t trust him, but he was having a difficult time remembering it, it seemed. He hesitated, unsure he wanted to admit that, really, this wasn’t his home anymore. He wasn’t sure how to put it in such a way that he wouldn’t scare this nice boy away. “Sort of…” he tried, but he almost immediately closed his mouth. Lying tasted bitter, and he didn’t want to try it. “I actually...live nearby, but...well, I lived here first, I guess? Not...here, here, but here.” Which probably made no sense, even if you could understand slang. He hesitated again, blushing a little as he tried to collect his thoughts. Hopefully Wylan would understand what he was trying to say without him having to explain it too much. He wasn’t sure he could manage to do any better than that.
Wylan tilted his head, trying his best to understand what Spook meant. He didn’t really know – he had a feeling it meant that Spook didn’t live on the streets anymore (which made sense, given he’d been more open to talking than Wylan had expected), but he wasn’t sure what the other implications were. He knew that plenty of the Skaa saw themselves as better than the street kids (Wylan knew how that sort of thought process worked, too. If you were better than someone, then you weren’t at the absolute bottom of the ladder, and you could rest assured knowing that you were at least better than someone) but Spook didn’t seem to think of himself as better now that he had an at least somewhat stable home. Which just made Wylan like him more, even if he didn’t really know him. “You found a way off the streets,” he murmured, giving Spook a small smile. “That’s what a lot of us want, isn’t it? Congratulations, in that case.” Wylan knew that getting off the streets wasn’t a guaranteed happily ever after, it was just… different. Maybe it was better, maybe it was worse, but… it probably meant meals were a little bit more regular and securing that for yourself deserved a congratulations. Especially since it seemed Spook still had enough freedom to be able to come back and wander his old haunts. Wylan had no doubt that whatever situation Spook had found himself in was better than living off the streets. “Sorry,” he said after a moment, cheeks flushing bright red as he awkwardly scratched at the back of his neck. “I know… personal stories aren’t something people want to talk about. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. I mean… we’re strangers. You just seem… nice.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 16, 2021 17:57:50 GMT -5
Spook could never see himself as better just because he didn’t live on the streets anymore. It he couldn’t think of himself as more because Kelsier had decided he was a free tineye, a package deal with Clubs. He hadn’t actually accomplished anything to get himself off the street. He’d been rescued by his uncle, that was all. He did understand the appeal of wanting to see yourself as better, even if he couldn’t manage it himself. It was best not to feel like the worst, like everyone was better than you were. Spook...he felt useless, at times. Like he couldn’t help the crew, couldn’t help Kelsier with his plans. It was something he struggled not to let too close. But it was there, anyway. He blushed a little, giving a tiny nod as Wylan guessed what he’d meant correctly, more or less. He hadn’t found a way off the street so much as he’d ended up off them. Still, the point was that he wasn’t on them anymore. He was startled by the fact that Wylan seemed genuinely happy for him, in spite of the fact that it didn’t affect him positively at all. That seemed hard to believe, especially for a street kid, all of whom lived and breathed by looking only after themselves. They do anything to stay alive, and they were brought together only by desperation and safety in numbers. Even then, they were mostly solitary. He hesitated. “It’s..alright,” he managed after a moment, giving a tiny nod. “I’m just not used to anyone asking, is all.” He managed a tiny smile, noting the extreme blush creeping over Wylan’s face. “You seem nice, too. For...whatever that’s worth from a stranger.” He hesitated again. “I love with a crew, now,” he offered softly. “It’s different, I guess.”
They were getting closer. That was all Nico seemed to be aware of as the cart pulled over the unfamiliar rocky landscape. House Venture’s property, technically. If they knew Nico was ending up here… he shook his head, pulling his arms closer around himself. He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to die, not like this. Nico had already gotten rid of his cravat, but there wasn’t much else he could do to disguise where he was coming from, at least not without stripping himself entirely. The fine fabrics were dirtied and torn, but they were unmistakably noble. The others in the cart looked at him with hungry eyes, and Nico knew they were moments away from tearing into him. There were guards to stop them, but Nico couldn’t help but wonder if the guards even cared. He was just a kid, and Nico knew a little too well what happened to Skaa children who misbehaved. Although… death would be preferable to Hathsin. The cart stopped, suddenly, and Nico felt his heart stop with it. The door opened, and Nico found himself frozen in place, staring with wide eyes at the ground with pits descending far below. No. No…. rough hands grabbed him and though he fought, he didn’t allow himself to cry out. He wouldn’t let himself be that weak. They shoved him out of the cart and forced him to his feet, and the manacles around his hands were nearly heavy enough to pull him off balance. He stayed standing, dark eyes staring straight ahead. And so it began. The final descent into Hathsin. There would be no light at the end of this tunnel.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 16, 2021 18:17:53 GMT -5
You didn’t get used to Hathsin. That wasn’t quite true. There were people there, the luckiest ones, who had been there much longer than he and Mare had, who had no light to their eyes anymore and never looked at the sky anymore. The ones who seemed dead already, who had forgotten the world outside hell. Not Kelsier. He did his work, he searched for the geodes and fought to survive, but he hadn’t forgotten, and he wasn’t used to this life. His eyes still burned when he looked at the guards, something that was almost as dangerous as not finding a geode at all. He was under no impression that escape would be easy, but he hadn’t given up, and he promised himself he never would. He was used to seeing people younger than himself at the pits. It was yet another thing he hated, seeing people the age he’d been when he’d married Mare, or pulled off his first solo heist, or met Dox. He couldn’t save these people, he knew that. He couldn’t even save himself. Didn’t stop him from feeling it. Mare felt it as deeply as he did, but they didn’t talk about it. They didn’t talk about much, anymore, actually…betrayal had a way of ruining a perfectly good conversation. He missed the ease they’d had almost more than he missed freedom. He looked up sharply as the cart rolled in. Newcomers...he watched, knowing full well he wasn’t supposed to show any sort of interest at all. He wasn’t supposed to be able to feel interest, anymore. Then the kid stepped out and he went still. “Dammit…” he muttered, gritting his teeth against the stab of fury and sorrow at the small, frightened face as the boy fought. He couldn’t have been older than twelve, if that. He was wearing nobleman’s clothes, torn and dirty though they were, but he was chained and alone and looked scared to death.
A sharp jab to Nico’s stomach was all it took to bring him to his knees, and though he looked at the guards with fury sparking in his eyes, the fear was enough to overpower even that. There was no getting out. He knew that, going in. He knew that this was a death sentence, and far from a kind one. He knew Hades saw it as a waste to just kill him. Nico wouldn’t have been surprised if Hades had worked out some sort of arrangement that guaranteed him access to any geodes Nico found. Looking around, Nico found what little hope he’d had dying, even as the manacles were removed from his hands. The people here looked dead already. Not like the Skaa on the streets of Luthadel. Those people looked tired and beaten down, but they didn’t look dead. The people here… Nico averted his eyes, trying not to catch anyone’s attention. Plenty of people ignored him. Plenty more were looking at him with a mixture of hatred and pity. Nico found he hated both reactions. “Get up,” a voice hissed beside him, and when his body refused to respond, a sharp force hit the side of his head and he fell forward, gasping as he managed to catch himself on his elbows. “Get. Up,” the voice said again, and this time Nico managed to oblige, shuffling after the others who had been in the cart. The guards were already watching him, sneers of contempt obvious on their faces. If he were in their position, he would be making bets on how quickly he would die. He would prove them wrong. He would prove them all wrong… he would survive as long as he needed to. He heard the cart start to roll away, but he didn’t dare look back. He didn’t dare do anything but stand up straight and listen for someone to come tell him what he was supposed to do. He could start rebelling when he figured out the rules of this place. For now… he would keep his head low and just try to make it through the day.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 16, 2021 18:51:43 GMT -5
Fury burned white hot as the boy fell, the guards clearly enjoying the power they had over him. The fact that he seemed to be nobility made no apparent difference, which didn’t surprise him as much as it might have, once. He knew better now. He knew that, given the chance, a nobleman would kill a nobleman as fast as a Skaa. They tore each other apart as fast as they did others, they weren’t interested in anything other than their own sick achievements and their bloodlines and their status. He watched carefully as the boy managed to stand. He was supposed to be ignoring the boy, the newcomers, he was supposed to be going back to work, and he wasn’t. How could he? He refused, he refused to break that easily. But standing there staring wasn’t going to do anyone any good, was it? He couldn’t give the boy his freedom back. If he’d ever had it at all. He’d been noble, he reminded himself, and he tried to believe it, but somehow, all he could see was a Skaa boy dressed in noble clothes. Kel himself had worn them often enough. He was half noble. He couldn’t bring any hatred, couldn’t manage to make it manifest. He moved as a guard caught sight of him, anger sparking in their eye as they saw the way Kelsier was standing tall and still. He moved away, heading for the newcomers as though to join them on the way forward. It was risky, but then, so was everything else he’d ever thought worth doing. He didn’t speak yet. He knew the guards were too close. He didn’t dare so much as look up, until they moved away.
Wylan didn’t know if he would ever fully adjust to the ‘every man for himself’ version of life the street kids led. He hadn’t liked it very much when it had been taught to him by his father… it had been worse, then, when the lesson for how to get ahead was just by screwing someone else over. At least on the streets there were tangible things you could do to stay alive that didn’t necessarily mean hurting someone else. But there were limited resources and Wylan couldn’t afford to share everything he found, no matter how much he wanted to. He had to look out for himself, even if he didn’t want to leave everyone else behind in doing that. If the only thing he could give was his excitement that someone had managed to find somewhere safe off the streets, then he would give that whole-heartedly, even if he couldn’t offer coin or food himself. Sometimes, Wylan wondered if his naïve wish to help the people around him was born from a place of feeling better than them. He had wanted to help the Skaa children even before he had been forced to flee, because he had the means to do so. Now, though… he didn’t. And he didn’t think he felt better than them… he just thought they were all people, and everyone deserved a chance to thrive. Or, at the very least, to survive. He was thinking himself into knots, he realized, blinking a little as he looked at Spook. “Nobody ever asks,” Wylan murmured after a moment, managing a small smile. “It’s thoughtful of them, I think. But I guess it’s also… for safety. Like you said. But… thank you.” A crew. Somehow, in Wylan’s experience, that wasn’t much safer than being on your own. “I’m… sort of part of a crew. I run for them and… stuff. And they have somewhere a bit safer to stay than… out here… but being part of a real crew must be exciting.”
Nico tensed as the group started moving, and he found his feet moving before he had given them the command. Already falling under control, it seemed… perhaps that was the only way to survive here. Perhaps the best way to move forward was to give up yourself and let your body take their orders. Maybe that was why so many of the people Nico saw looked dead. There was one man who didn’t… he grit his teeth, ignoring the sight of the man standing tall, looking like he might just be stupid enough to think he could take every guard here on his own. Maybe he could… Nico didn’t know, he just knew that many of the guards were probably Allomancers, and the ones that weren’t were well fed and well trained. Even the people who managed to keep a spark in their eyes here looked like little more than skeletons, their faces sunken, their ribs showing through their clothes. How any of them managed to have enough energy to do the work was a mystery to Nico, but he supposed he’d be finding out soon. Nico forced his gaze forward, trying to remind himself to breathe. Trying to stop from looking back at the man who was… who was moving to join them? That didn’t make sense, he hadn’t been part of their cart. Couldn’t he get in trouble for that? Maybe whatever he was doing seemed worth it to him. But what could possibly be worth that? A chance to wring a nobleman’s neck, perhaps? Nico tensed, keeping his gaze firmly forward. His attire would mark him as a target. A scapegoat for the crimes of the noblemen. The best he could do was lay low as best he could.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 16, 2021 19:34:29 GMT -5
Kelsier didn’t believe for a second that giving in and letting yourself die was the way to survive this. He refused to believe that was his only option, or anyone’s only option. How could he, when he’d never given up at anything before? Unless you counted being defeated. He wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been defeated, but that wasn’t the same thing as giving up. Giving up was a choice he refused to make, and he didn’t want to watch anyone else do it, either. More and more people slipped into living death every day. They still fought, technically - they searched for geodes - but deep down, they were gone. He had to wonder if even escape would have been enough to bring them back. The boy could have been a scapegoat for the noblemen, he knew. The boy would have made an excellent method of getting rage out. But Kelsier had no such intention or even desire. He couldn’t want that, not when the kid was...well. A kid. He joined the others quietly, and somehow, no one seemed to notice him. Or maybe they did and they were just waiting from him to try anything so the punishment could be more severe, but either way, he didn’t much care. Let her try. What could they do that they hadn’t already done to him? “Don’t panic. I’m not going to hurt you,” he murmured when he was close enough for do it almost silently. “My name is Kelsier. I’ve been here a while, now, and I know how to stay out of the guard’s way.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 16, 2021 19:58:31 GMT -5
Every man for himself was how Spook had grown up. He hadn’t been taught it, not precisely like that, but he’d learned it the hard way more than once, until it had stuck and he’d had a hard time accepting that not everyone operated that way. The crew didn’t see to...somehow they seemed to operate on trust. A dangerous way to live, he thought, but it seemed to have worked for them so far. People didn’t really share. Street kids didn’t, anyway. He didn’t see the point in pretending the world worked that way, when it would only get you stabbed in the back faster than you could blink. He hadn’t had the chance to wonder whether he felt better than others, because he’d lived at the bottom of the food chain for so long. He didn’t think he’d ever been further up on it, either...this was as high as he’d ever been, working for the Survivor’s crew and pretending he had something to offer. Wylan seemed different, somehow. Spook wasn’t one to question other kid’s backstories, he wasn’t one to wonder where they’d come from, but he had to wonder about Wylan. He was polite, he met Spook’s eyes, he spoke of them not us. He seemed...far too calm about this conversation to be a street kid. He was actually willing to have a real conversation. That and slang didn’t seem to come quite as naturally to him as it did to the other kids. The thank you made it clear. Street kids wouldn’t thank you for a compliment, no matter how genuine it was. “I guess it is exciting, sometimes,” he murmured, giving a tiny smile in spite of himself. “I don’t do a lot, really. Mostly just help out here and there...do you help with plans and stuff in your crew?”
Nico thought he had a chance at surviving longer than people here expected. He had survived on the streets as a toddler, and though that was very different… his instincts were still sharper than a noble boy’s would be Perhaps sharper still, given the way Hades had treated him, at times. He pursed his lips, fighting back the thought. Hathsin was known to be hard because of the labor involved. Nico knew he had to face more than just the labor. He had to face people who saw him as an easy target, and people who still saw him as a nobleman. In some of these people’s minds… Nico was the reason they were here. Or, at the very least, he represented the system that had gotten them there. It was an awful lot of weight to carry on one very small set of shoulders. Nico would carry it for as long as he had to. For as long as he could possibly survive for… he didn’t want to die. It was that simple. Of course… having idiots try to talk to him would make him a target of not only the others trapped here, but the guards as well. He tensed, eyes narrowing as he glanced to the side just enough to see Kelsier. While talking was technically better than being attacked, Nico would take an attack any day. At least in that case he would know how the other person felt about him. This… he wasn’t sure what to make of this. “Good for you,” Nico muttered almost silently, trying to sound bigger and more confident than he felt.
Wylan wasn’t really sure how to navigate the world. It was tougher than he wanted it to be, and though he thought the most important thing to focus on immediately was surviving, there was still a part of him that believed that one day he might be powerful enough to help others. He felt pretty useless now, barely able to keep himself alive, but if he kept working hard… maybe he could help others. He knew by now, though, that it wasn’t about working hard. You could work harder than any nobleman had worked in his life and all it would guarantee you was a lifetime of work you couldn’t even claim as your own. Wylan hadn’t been able to see that when he’d been in his father’s house. Sometimes he thought the world would be very different if every nobleman was forced to live like the Skaa for a few days when they were young. It had certainly changed his perspective, and he’d always had unusual opinions when it came to the Skaa. Spook seemed to be caught in between as well, though perhaps in a different way than Wylan. Spook seemed to have found someplace safe, someplace where he could speak and share his thoughts without that being dangerous. Coming back here… it must have been tough, even if it was a little bit comforting at the same time. If Wylan were just a little bit bolder, he would have told Spook that he was impressed he came back to visit. “You get to help plan stuff?” Wylan asked, eyes widening a little bit in surprise. “I don’t get to do that. They just… give me assignments and stuff, and if I do it right, I have a chance at getting dinner that night. Nothing quite as exciting as actually helping out with planning and things. Your crew sounds… really nice, even if I probably.... shouldn’t say that. Our crews might be rivals.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 19, 2021 23:19:11 GMT -5
Spook hadn’t given much thought to what he would do if he were powerful. Not until he’d gotten off the streets, at least. It was hard not to dream a little when Kelsier was your crew leader, though, and Spook had wanted to be more useful almost as soon as he’d met him. He radiated confidence and power, he wasn’t afraid of anything, and he planned to free the Skaa and kill the Lord Ruler…of course it was enough to make Spook doubt his place among them, like he couldn’t quite compare with the rest, and it seemed they felt the same, since they didn’t let him do much. He wished he could do more but he knew it had to be earned. Maybe with time they’d let him be more useful to them. The streets weren’t easier, not really. It’s was very easy to be killed on them, out on the mists at night and looking as weak as he and Wylan did. It wasn’t easy, being on the streets again, but it was simpler in a lot of ways. He didn’t need to make sure he was being useful or think about how to best present himself when the only people watching just wanted to take advantage of you anyway. “Oh, no, I…” he stammered, blushing. “I mean, I sit in on the meetings, but I don’t really talk...I just serve drinks mostly. But I’m gonna do more. I just need...to convince them that I can, first.” He hesitated again. “I don’t think my crew has rivals, in that way,” he replied thoughtfully. “It’s not like other crews at all. The leader is the Survivor.” He knew he shouldn’t have said it the moment it was out of his mouth. He blushed bright red, scrambling to fix it as best he could. “Sorry. I mean, your crew sounds nice,” he added quickly, hands in his pockets.
Wylan had learned the hard way that freedom came with a price. He didn’t mind paying it, though. Didn’t mind going hungry some nights, didn’t mind not knowing where his next meal would come from, didn’t mind having to learn when someone had it out for you for reasons you didn’t understand. He had never imagined the streets to be peaceful, but they were… different… from what he imagined. He didn’t think he had the words to describe it. There was more solidarity among the street kids than he had expected, but the danger was more omnipresent, as well. Perhaps one was a consequence of the other. The one thing Wylan missed from his posh life was his flute. He was able to live more on the streets, but he couldn’t bring his flute with him. He had stashed it somewhere he thought safe, but knowing how shrewd the other kids were… he doubted it was still there. Somehow, he didn’t think it mattered if it was or not. He still couldn’t play it on the streets. “Oh,” Wylan murmured, brow raising a little bit as he considered that. So… Spook was a glorified servant? That didn’t sound very nice, but he supposed for someone who had grown up on the street… “It still seems pretty cool that they let you in on meetings at all. Have you tried talking? You might have ideas that they haven’t thought about before!” he blushed, realizing how optimistic that sounded. He knew it wasn’t quite that easy, for anyone. For children growing up in noble houses, or for children drafted into crews. They had to earn respect before their voice was heard, and respect was a commodity that wasn’t easy to come by. “Good luck, I mean. I hope you get to do the something more, you want. Even if I think it’s stupid that you need to prove yourself.” He was being… perhaps a little too brash, but he liked Spook. And Spook didn’t seem to mind. “The Survivor?” Wylan asked, unable to stop the flicker of fear that passed across his expression. “That’s… wow… I mean… that’s a really impressive crew. I’m… happy for you.” It was hard to step out of his mindset as a noble. The Survivor was bad news, for them. But… for the skaa… he was hope. And Wylan might as well be skaa, at that point. Old habits were just hard to break. “My crew is awful,” he corrected after a moment, shaking his head. “But money’s money, and you can’t really survive out here long without it. And I’ve never been good at picking pockets.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 23, 2021 17:53:09 GMT -5
Freedom was complicated for Spook. He wasn’t sure whether he had it, really...he wasn’t sure it counted as being free when you technically belonged to a crew that kept you alive. When you knew you couldn’t actually leave, even if you decided you wanted to. He wouldn’t leave, not really, he cared for the crew more than he admitted sometimes, but still...the simplicity of the streets had their appeal. He couldn’t help missing it, just a little bit. He didn’t know Wylan’s past. He didn’t know how he’d come to be on the streets, and he didn’t ask, because that wasn’t what you did. Because you lived on the streets in privacy and anonymity for a reason, and Spook knew better than to question it. He wouldn’t have liked it if he’d known what Wylan was thinking. He wasn’t a servant...he was free, he decided, even if he wasn’t free in the way he’d been for most of his life. “I haven’t...really tried that, no,” he admitted, ducking his head a little at the idea. Wylan was actually speaking his mind, it seemed, something that he hadn’t expected from a kid on the streets. They usually said whatever they thought you wanted to hear and left it at that. He didn’t think he’d earned respect yet. Kelsier...he was a hard man to impress, being so impressive himself. Spook was just a boy, barely old enough to convince anyone he was fine alone. What could he do? “Thanks,” he added, looking up again. Wylan was being friendly, after all. It wasn’t something that was easy or free to do, it was hard to be kind, and here was Wylan, doing it apparently without a second thought. He froze as Wylan replied and cursed his lack of a verbal filter. Not everyone was okay with the Survivor’s existence. Skaa and nobility alike wanted him dead. He was trouble, and trouble was something no one had any time or patience for. “Oh...sorry,” he added, moving on from the idea of being in the Survivor’s crew as fast as he could. “Maybe...maybe you could...never mind.” He didn’t want to give unsolicited advice to someone he’d just met, after all. Someone who might not even want anything to do with him if he was in the Survivor’s crew.
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Cloudy Sky: Seeing the name gave me flashbacks to certain events that happened about two weeks ago.
Jun 22, 2021 4:51:35 GMT -5
Violetsky: Her name is Tika. She's a Cymric, or long-haired Manx.
Jun 22, 2021 6:27:08 GMT -5
Violetsky: I left the gel pack in the freezer overnight and now it's a solid thick sheet of ice.
Jun 22, 2021 6:32:05 GMT -5
Violetsky: Cymric is the technical term for a Manx cat that has long hair.
Jun 22, 2021 13:48:50 GMT -5
Violetsky: Technically they are Manx's as well; they are not a separate breed but an alternative variety of traditional Manx's, which are short-haired. They're also called longhair Manx's.
Jun 22, 2021 13:50:11 GMT -5
Violetsky: It's okay, I thought she was a traditional Manx for a while
Jun 22, 2021 14:02:13 GMT -5
Violetsky: Well, she is. It's like if brown bears that lived further up North had thicker and longer fur than their southern counterparts. If that was true, then they would be the same species and "breed", they just have different adaptations.
Jun 22, 2021 14:02:52 GMT -5