Breathing Room.

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Breathing Room.

Post by The Steel Ministry on Mon Feb 23, 2015 6:13 pm

Quiet lay like a mantle over the city of Urteau. Heavy quiet, thick and sticky like the ever present mists. These, the latest hours of the night were always like that. Too late for all but the most gregarious of Nobles to still be out, and yet too early for even the poor wretches working the Plantations and mines to be up and about. But these are the normal working hours for a small group of people, none of them with any desire to be seen about their work.

Here, the panicked footfalls of a street urchin clutching his prize as he flees a closed shop. If you listen you can catch the sound of blood pattering to the cobblestones, his life bleeding out through the cut in his arm. The armful of flatbread was already soaked with it. He didn't realize it, but he would bleed out before he could try to choke down the soggy red mess. Another unmissed and unasked for mess to be cleaned up by the morning corpse crews.

There, a street or two over, we hear a loud laugh. Inside the whore house a young Nobleman finishes straightening his tie, smirking to himself. Quiet and broken beneath her flawless skin, the whore pulls her dress up. The Noble tosses her a copper clip with another laugh, then leaves. She cherishes the moment of solitude, clutching the coin to her chest with desperate despair. After too short a moment, the toughs come in, taking the coin before she can hide it away. She reaches for it, but the iron shod club strikes her down before she can cry out. Twice, three times it strikes her skull with a wet crack. Even here in a den of inequity, the law must be followed. No chances can be taken when it comes to appeasing the Ministry. She at least would be gathered together with the other older whores who had outlived their short leases on life and were deemed liabilities to the sacred Noble bloodlines.

Glittering lights swing overhead, and we now see a young couple in their finest formal attire. She, a simmering vision in velvet and pearls, and he a stately statue all in black with scarlet trim. Though the dancing had stopped hours ago, the two of them had wasted the night away, whispering into each other's ears and sharing the secret things of new lovers. The next night, he will lay dying at her feet as she wipes a glass dagger on his coat. Love is a paltry thing, and a poor defense against House politics.

Now just a street over yet a world away from Courtly Splendor a tenement holds a huddled mass of humanity. Skaa lay on a cold bare floor, curled up together like a litter of dogs for warmth. Alone and awake, a young man lay awake, stroking the hair of the woman beside him. His shoulder pulsed from the beatings he'd recieved in the previous day but that was nothing new. No, the new sensation was the warm thing growing inside him as he lay beside her, holding the woman who would bear his child. Despite his own hardship, despite the sheer impossibility of any kind of happiness, he felt treacherous joy welling up inside him. Maybe, just maybe things could be different...

Dat Greeshal looked out through the broken window, into a broken city nestled in a broken world. His rough tunic blew in the wind. He was young, yet his face was aged before his time. Lines ringed his eyes and his hair was receding at a rate he found alarming. Apparently he was a vain man after all, though it took the loss of his hair to finally bring it out. He smiled at the irony of a vain Skaa rebel, then turned to his companion.

"I don't see any other way of it, Get. We need a break, but Venture are proving themselves to be as merciless to the Skaa as they are with the other Noble houses."

His companion stood like a hawk ready to spring into flight. Even at rest, Get Tarrish had the look of a man ready to fight. He had short cropped black hair, and under his worker's tunic bore scars from too many battles to count. He shook his head at the younger man, shifting his quarter staff to his other hand.

"You know you can't play it halfway, Dat. We do that and we're dead. I agree we need to do something, but it ain't enough to redirect them. We need to fight."

Dat shook his head, sighing and running a hand through his vanishing hair for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time wondering if that was what caused the malady in the first place. He paced, not nervous, but still new to command and lacking some confidence.

"That's not what we're doing here! Every violent Rebellion has failed without exception. We have a real chance here, Get! With Sanctuary backing us up we can make a real difference here!"

He stomped right up to the larger, older man, jabbing a finger into his chest.

"You shared this vision with me once! I know I've only been in charge for a short time, but we have a real chance to not only change the lives of the Skaa in Urteau, but to make the whole Final Empire a better place! We can't waste this on a method that's proven to fail!"

Get met his eye, seeming to take measure of the younger man. After a moment he nodded.

"Alright. You make the calls, boss. I'm just here to crack heads."

The fire died from Dat's eyes as quickly as it'd kindled, and he gave a loud bark of laughter.

"Oh don't worry, Get. I'm sure you and yours will have plenty of opportunity to... crack heads coming up."

He couldn't suppress a shiver.

"But with any luck not for some time yet. Now, I need you to get messages out. I've got a few people in mind, but they're rather hard to track down."

He produced a list from a shirt pocket and handed it to Get, who glanced it over. One eyebrow slowly migrated uprwards, his only reaction to what he saw on the list.

"Very well. What shall I tell them?"

Dat grabbed his friend's shoulders firmly, fire again burning behind his eyes.

"Tell them change is coming. I mean to shake the Final Empire to its foundation, and it all starts in Urteau..."
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