One thing that no one ever mentioned about Mercenary work was that it was a bit of a meat-grinder. Sometimes you could go an entire campaign and see barely any action and you all came home and got paid for your time and your trouble. And then other times you were throwing yourself against walls that the employer didn't want to send their own people to die taking and you could be the only man out of fifty to survive.
Meant you got paid more but it did mean that life expectancy wasn't great and more meat was needed for the grinder.
The campaign in Noria wasn't going too badly but even on such a smaller campaign. There hadn't been any large scale field battles to chew up the men but taking forts was a bloody business even with the best tactics in the world. So here he was, searching for good mercenaries, bored adventurers and idiots in equal measure.
The good mercs would be good shock troops and a great hammer to smash the enemy against and the adventurers usually made for good scouts. Idiots? Well sometimes you just needed bodies to clog up holes in walls and idiots were better than cement when it came to plugging holes.
As he and his men were canvassing the main square of the Cathwa town however he paused when he caught sight of some fire being manipulated. He felt compelled to see the show as he was something of a fire mage himself but he was surprised to find that it was a dancer.
Using fire magics?
Curious... she was pretty hot too so that was a plus. He looked around for a moment as he stood in front of her as she performed, far enough back to not get burned. As she was coming to the end of one of her dances he spoke up.
"You, dancer." he called out to her, "Why do you dance when you have fire?"
The slave had been sent into town to perform, acquire goods, and bring them back to her caravan. This was something Nova had gotten used to. Another thing that was becoming normal was the attention paid to her when she danced. First, it had been for her masters, then for the elf that had taken her in. Now, at the command of her master, she went into towns and performed. Usually, she did them in the main square or market where more traffic was. Today was no different.
As she finished her routine, several coins were tossed her direction and voice called out to her. Bending over to pick up the money, she looked up at the man that had spoken to her. He was several inches taller than she was and about her age. From him look, he was probably a mercenary of some kind and worked for the highest bidder. Standing up, she made no attempt to cover herself now that her dance was done.
She did not notice his men walking through the market and her attention was on him. Tilting her head to the side slightly, it seemed as if he question might have confused her.
"Why wouldn't I dance using fire?"
Nova didn't feel it was odd to dance with fire. It was just part of the life she had always known.
She had fire magics, one of the most immediately destructive forms of magic in existence, and she thought nothing of using it to help improve the visual appeal of her dancing and nothing more. Her lack of respect for the power she had control over might have offended some but to Alexios it was just confusing.
Frowning, he reached out and grabbed her by the chin, holding it in his hand so that she was forced to meet his eyes as he spoke to her. He couldn't stand talking to someone who didn't have the grace to look him fully in the eyes, unashamed and unbowed.
"You're using a magic that kills people everyday to make your dancing look better." he pressed the issue, releasing her physically, "With fire magics you could burn your enemies to cinders or blow entire buildings from the face of the earth so why are you content with being a dancer?"
He eyed her trappings for a moment before something clicked inside. Alexios chuckled darkly.
"Wait... I see it now... you're a slave, aren't you?" he tilted his head to the side slightly, "Where is your Master, dancing girl?"
Being forced to meet him in the eyes made the slave rather uncomfortable and maybe even a little fearful. This would be seen in her eyes, but she remained silent at his verbal assault and nodded at he pointed out. Yes, fire could be very destructive, but it was also helpful. Not just to her dancing, but in other areas.
When he let go of her chin, Nova looked to the area of his chest again and did not meet him in the eyes. That is until he pointed out she was a slave.
Brushing away at some of the dirt on her outfit, her eyes narrowed just slightly before she spoke.
"Servant. I am a servant."
However, Alexios had hit the nail with his hammer and while she did not want to admit it, he was right. The woman could not bring herself to agree though. Wrapping her arms around herself, she rubbed her hands across her arms, stood up straight, and made a brave face to look at him by her own choice.
"He sent me here to pick up supplies and coin."
Shutting her mouth, she did not answer his question.
If she was a servant that was like him saying that he was an Imperial Centurion. Just because he fought in battles, didn't mean that he was anything even remotely close to being one. Which was why her saying she was a servant because she served was grossly incorrect; she didn't have a choice in serving after all.
He eyed her for a few moments.
"Why are you still a slave?" he asked her in his typical blunt fashion, "You have fire. You could burn out your master's heart within seconds and yet you let this become who you are. You are a thing, a possession."
Alexios once again grabbed her by the chin, forcing her to meet his eyes.
"... so what's to stop me from deciding that I'm going to take you? That you'll belong to me from now on?"