Pryor was the southern most island of the Archipelago and it was also a place of great importance for trade throughout the world. The ports of Pryor saw trade from across the seas that stretched the world. Some said that the wealth of half the world traveled through, and past, Pryor and sometimes it was easy to believe it.
And other times it was clearly bullshit but whatever.
Alexios stood on the deck of a ship coming into port and took in the sights and sounds for a few moments before rolling his eyes at the "oooo" and "aaaaaah"s from the newcomers. Fucking tourists. Had they never seen a city with canals and plumbing that actually worked? Did they expect the city to stink of shit just because their hometowns did? Honestly, the fucking yokels were the worst part of coming here.
Stepping out onto the port, Alexios took a deep breath to appreciate the scents of spices and other trade goods before pushing his way through the crowds. He did still have an appointment, even if he was being a bit too rough. Pushing his way through, a woman toppled to the ground and her husband helped her up before deciding it was worth a fight.
"Hey! Hey asshole!"
Alexios turned round at the insult because hey, he was man enough to admit he really was an asshole. He didn't say anything, just raised an eyebrow so the husband continued.
"You pushed my wife over - what do you have to say for yourself?"
He glanced to the wife before back to the husband.
"Don't leave your garbage in the street."
If only she were here for sight seeing. Not that it would be much worth seeing anyways. She hated the water and there being canals of it everywhere gave her the heebie jeebies. Black nothingness, an empty void of an abyss that swallowed one whole once within it. Bath's were fine. Shallow as they were but anything bigger than a room sized pond and she would keep a safe distance. Funny how it was water to be her bane rather than the natural pain inducing burn of flames that fire would cause should she get too near it. A notion that had occurred to her as she stood near the fire roasted kabobs from a street vendor.
'Watching' the crowd as they passed by and mentally keeping tabs on one that would garner her passage off this spit of land. The thought of having to take another ship sent chills up through her spine but it was better than waiting for more trouble to find her. Not to mention, work was slow around here. The port might be all hustle and bustle but it was small and already carrying a sort of underbelly that she would prefer not to align with in it's small and tight knit nature. Or...at least for very long. Her target was of such scum but would no doubt provide some coin so she could pay her way off this island.
She strummed her lute absently, as if begging for coin when a woman stumbled and tripped in front of her. Oh, my. Something interesting to help pass the time. Quick assessment of the trash speaker was one of confidence and yes, assholery. Not her first thought to help him but. "It's alright dear, I'm fine... lets just move on okay?" the woman cowed and gave nervous glances from her angered husband to the other.
Her fingers plucked a different chord on the lute, empowering her spell to weave into her voice as she spoke to the angry husband. "I suggest you listen to your wife, there's no need to cause trouble is there?" Myst laced words strummed to the husbands ears, a suggestion to make him turn away and do as her words commanded. Not mind control but nudging the subconscious in the direction she wanted and what was already there in his mind to begin with. These two had other places to be and other people to pickpocket after all.
Alexios honestly didn't have time to be dealing with people who thought that they deserved an apology just because they got offended or inconvenienced. It wasn't his fucking problem if they decided to get a stick up their arse was it? So he had been preparing, mentally at least, the ways in which he could legally beat the man down to a pulp before leaving on his way again.
While he wasn't in a particular hurry, he was here on business so he wanted to make sure that he didn't have to waste any further time or coin to pay the city guards a fine for murdering the fool. A few extra coins would have ensured that it was seen as an act of self-defense by the courts.
Gods but this city was corrupt.
And then someone strummed a bloody lute and something twisted in the myst. The husband might have thought it soothing but the Magi in Alexios could feel it and it made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He turned his attention to the minstrel instead and he narrowed his eyes slightly.
"Nice tune." he remarked with a small smirk, "Got a bit of an undercurrent to it though I'd say - you playing for any big gigs in the near future?"
Her fingers gently twanged on the strings, an idle song that was low and quiet. Nothing to truly pay attention to unless you were gifted with the Myst. She could pick and choose her targets if she so wished but then there was the off chance of the current situation to which she now found herself in.
Her head tilted with a pert smile under her silver like mask, coy and mysterious. Inflection and tone, the hitch in lungs and the way pulse thudded loudly to her ears. Oops, seems she was found out. This one had sharp sense's and if she was reading him right... he was not one to mess with either. Not that she was concerned with stepping on toes.
She'd address Mr. Undercurrent here in a second. First...
"Shouldn't you two be going?" She strummed another chord which had the husband take several steps back, shaking his head. Confusion settling over features before he nearly bumped into her and mumbled something of an apology before gathering his 'wife' to skedaddle off. Both of them blinking as if having stepped into sunlight for the first time. There, now with that done.
It was here her attention went fully to the purveyor of music. "Oh, you know this one too? It's one many dance to but hardly have the stomach to lead through." her speech much like that of a sort of thieves cant. Placing words and mincing them to convey a meaning. Unless he was truly daft not to catch her meaning or ..didn't care to play the game.
It was a general common curtsy not to out a swindler such as herself, especially out on the street but seeing as he started the hidden speak first, she guessed he wouldn't reveal too much. Shrugging, she continue to play, a gentle tune that was soft and carrying a warmth to it. "Big and small if the coin is right but seeing as you ask, I have yet to find a large enough event to sing my way into." It was subtle, but if one looked carefully, those that were standing still that could hear the music were swaying as if lulled by the tune. In perfect synchronization even.
With smile still on her lips, she stopped playing and placed her hands on her lap over the lute. "You like this song? If you want to hear more I'd be happy to oblige unless you have another tune in mind."
As much fun as it was to play sleuths and cutthroats with the woman, Alexios was a bit of a blunt man to say the least and he had not been blessed with an over-abundance of patience. Weighing up the pros and cons of going in alone, he decided that maybe going in with the minstrel was actually the lesser of two evils.
And by lesser of two evils he meant it was the least fucking stupid option; both options were morally as black as tar after all.
"How would you like a big job right now?" he asked her with a grin, "Big gig, big payout."
Usually he wouldn't recruit on the job like this but needs must - especially since this wasn't a contract so was on his own time. And his own time cut into the time he could spend on the current contract so it needed to be used wisely.
"You come with me, you help me... show reason to a young business owner and I'll make sure to pay you for your time and express my gratitude for your show. Interested?"
There was a time when Ara'elle would have called herself an honorable person. Perhaps the only time she had was within the Holy Swords and even then it was false, cheap and highly overrated. What little code she followed now was her own and it suited her just fine. She tried not to kill the innocent, although that also depended on who was paying her. Coin mattered for lodging and paying off officials. She wasn't scum, but she wasn't a saint either. Being a good person was ...circumstantial.
It was why she didn't much bat an eyelash to the comment tossed to the husband, not that he could see her eyes behind the silver mask but the notion was there.
Her head canted to the side as she waited for the gears to stop whirring in his brain the smoke to simmer. Thinking he was and thankfully he was quick at it. Either he was smart or just as conniving as a fox in a hen house. Possibly both. Yes both.
"Oh now you're speaking my language Sir. I am most certainly interested, although a number of such grand amounts would be appreciated in some part of this transaction." her smile was sweet at his directness. Very well, she could adapt. How much money though was a factor. She supposed so long as it was enough to possibly replace her belongings from that first Port she nearly got lynched at, then it was enough.
"Your gratitude can be more coin or another form... So long as it's not a knife in my person or other maliciousness towards then we have a deal." Unless he was lying through his teeth to drag her into some ambush and sell her off, well... that risk was always there. At least it would be interesting if he tried.
Standing, she shouldered her lute and folded her hand in front of her. "Lead the way, my support and his change of heart is yours." No name given. Purposely done mind you but then she doubted he much cared.
When money was someone's language he was fluent. It was his mother tongue after all; everything he had learned since birth was to do with obtaining more reputation and, from that, money. The end result of all of his lessons with his father had been getting paid. Reaching into one of his pouches, he touched some coins with his fingertips.
"Depends; what's your rate for a single gig?" he asked with a raised eyebrow and a smirk, "I can offer you two hundred pieces of gold for your performance."
He was happy to put a number on it even if he would end up adjusting that number in the near future. Alexios could do that. Smirking a little bit, he tossed a wink at her.
"I'm sure we can think of other ways for me to show you my gratitude..."
A job was a job, but even she knew to be careful assuming such a quick to offer role to play in what was clearly a scheme. Those that knew too much suddenly went missing after such a task was completed and she intended be around for many more years. She didn't trust him one bit but she had tipped her own hand just a little and this was on her. Oh well, might as well make the most of it.
"Small gig? You said this was a big one." The smile remained, thin lipped and coy. The coins bringing corners of that smile higher. The tinkling of money couldn't tell her the exact amount he had on him, but it was enough and two hundred would get her on a boat... unless she could get more. Although being greedy was not in her nature, being manipulative... was. "The two hundred starting and if you deem my performance worthy of more then I will gratefully accept that in additive."
A slight bow of her head denoted her acceptance of this little bargain and through it would reveal more of his own nature. "Sounds like you have something mind for that, color me intrigued to unwrap more of that little secret later. Business before pleasure and all that." She gives a soft devious chuckle in understanding his innuendo. She was dead but not incapable of what life had given in ways of a libido.
"Now-" She turned to note the crowded street, not a place to discuss details after all. "Shall walk and talk? Business or pleasure, your choice but seeing as I know more about the latter and less about the former, perhaps some shared details will help me gain both your gratitude and worthy of a standing ovation." her words sweet and alluring as she offered her arm to take.
He wasn't mistaken; he was classifying what they were about to do as a big job for him because it was. But he was classing it as a small job for her because it equally was. All she needed to do, hopefully, was convince one guy to do what he said and he would pay her. She would leave richer and without knowing why it was a big job to him.
She didn't need to know and, in his experience, people often got suspicious you might try and shank them if they knew too much. If she knew literally next to nothing then she could rest easy knowing she did NOT know too much to live. On saying that, he was a little bit amused by her bargaining.
"You want a bonus if you do well enough?" he hummed a little bit, "Sure, if you impress me you get a bonus."
Why the hell not after all. He winked at her when she responded to his innuendo. He wasn't married to the idea of fucking the sexy weirdo in the skin-tight clothing... but he could definitely see how his life would be worse off if he didn't. Simply because he wouldn't have slept with her! That was as great a good as he was willing to work with on the small scale.
He chuckled a little bit.
"I'll keep the business talk to a minimum; we're going to see a rather well-respected businessman and we're going to convince him to give me his secret set of books." he clicked his tongue, "See he's well respected because he hides his shit well. You're going to make sure he feels so incredibly eager to give me what I want."
And if she could get him to commit suicide that would be great; much easier than staging a suicide.
He readily agreed to the bonus, either he really wanted this to happen or he had no intention of paying up to begin with. Either way, she was going to be cautious of this one, keeping a sharp ear out for any sort of betrayal. She had a means to escape if she would rather not have to leave empty handed or even fall into crossing blades with him. It was bad for business on both their parts; thus logically speaking it was in their best interests to remain civil. "Agreed then, I shall strive to exceed your expectations."
She fell in step with him, her chin dipping in acknowledgement of listening. She could convince people on any given day, but this was different than her usual scheme's for money. A delicate finger rose to curve around her chin. "Hmm, secret you say."
Tsking, she gave disquieting sigh. "The thing with convincing is that there is a difference from 'forcing' what will not be given..." Secrets were meant to be secrets and most certainly aren't told to just anyone. Guarded zealously and quite apparent that this one they were going to talk to was such a guarded person. Her magics were mostly a suggestion or a gentle nudge of the mind that that already had the idea in their head but not so acted upon it. Giving up secret books that could ultimately get him into trouble would certainly never cross one's mind.
Mulling it over, she lifts her head as if looking straight ahead and upon her next exhale their words quieted to a murmur. Only when she was certain their conversation was muted to those passing by did she continue.
"Forcing to give up what is hidden is much harder to do than to coerce what desire is already there to give it up." Producing a false pout as if understanding the tribulations of carrying such a heavy burden. "That is not to say I cannot draw out such a desire as he must have a terrible guilt underlying it all, but it is far more difficult and I do so love a challenge. I'll need to speak or at least be heard if that is possible." She tilts her head as if side eying him.
Alexios wasn't sure how much, if anything, about what she was saying about her powers was true because he hadn't studied other forms of Myst arts aside from the destructive ones. He hadn't care and he, honestly, barely had the time to complete tasks near and dear to his heart - he certainly didn't have the time to mess around with the other schools of Myst magics when the level of reward would be meagre to begin with.
Humming a little bit, Alexios noticed how people seemed to give them an odd look, as though there was something wrong that they couldn't really grasp. Putting it out of his mind as likely more slippery magics, he nodded.
"I can get you in with me to speak with him; you'll be my assistant." he told her before glancing at her, "With my reputation my whore would also work but... you're wearing too many clothes. Pity really."
Smirking slightly, he continued.
"If it's a case of increasing his desire to tell you I can help with that." he flicked his wrist and his dagger appeared in hand before he sheathed it again, "A man enduring my steely questioning tends to want anything to stop it after all... that doesn't make you squeamish does it?"