Manic & Bored Crossroad Presents: RJM! Random Jan Moments!

 
Manic & Bored Crossroad Presents: RJM! Random Jan Moments!

Push up.

Today's muscle exercise day. Not the most exciting of days. It just ended up lots of muscle aches and her feeling drop dead tired. She probably would just want to doze off when she touched the mattress later. But for now-

Lever down.

Jan strained to hold her back and legs straight, as she slowly bend her arms. When she finally reached the floor, she kissed the wooden floor boards, and tasted her own salty sweat that had seeped into the wood grain.

Push up.

A groan escaped her lips. Couldn't help it, she had already went past her limit. Her arms trembled as she pushed back up again. Drops of sweat slithered down her straight body towards her flushed face. Muscle days were awful.

Lever down.

There was a reason why she never went fat from her pigging out at the free dinners from the Kitten and from the breakfasts and lunches at the Rusty Dragon. Clad in just linen chest-bindings (people would assume she had breasts to bind just by wearing it) and a cotton undershorts, both now more than just wet from her exertions, she continued her training.

Puh- Puuuu~ush up.

"Uh'm gessin' yooh wuhnt uh roob-doon afder daht." Jan blinked away the sweat on her eyelids. She had known someone entered the attic room since a minute ago, but didn't think that it was Coleen. Her shift usually didn't finish until long past midnight. She craned her neck, trying to glance the Kellid girl with almost indecipherable accent to her Taldane.

"Nuh un coomin in." Ah, that explained her being back in the common sleeping room. Who would? After the goblin raid this afternoon?

Lever down.

Jan kissed the floor, lowered her legs, and flopped heavily on the floorboards. Feeling stiff all over, but it was not the time for her to stop though. She levered herself up to a kneeling position and started the cool down routine.

Coleen knew what Jan was doing, the whole Kitten knew what she was up to. During the first indecision after finding out she can't hide what she was doing easily, Jan had decided to stop wasting time and get on with training. The girls (and a few of the odder boys) appreciated the view. Jan was short, and though not quite that lean, had a smattering of muscle tones that a healthy layer of fat still couldn't hide. And when she was muscle training, the ones hidden jumped out in clear relief.

At first, she had a crowd every time. Then after a few weeks, it just became routine.

"Blargh." Jan commented on her regime of exercise after she finished her cooldown. Coleen answered as fluently and loquaciously with a snort as she handed over one of carafes of water Jan had always prepared beforehand. Carefully guzzling down the water and keeping from choking, she leaned back and rested on the side of a cabinet. Coleen just unrolled the blankets she used for massage and prepared the oils and balms she used as well.

Waiting for her to finish readying, Jan grabbed a spare towel and wiped off her sweat.

Goblins. In bright daylight. Didn't expect seeing that, she thought. And that last one... Jan blinked and rubbed her ribs. The potion did good work, and the acolytes finished the work after. She barely felt a thing from the now-healed wound. Just a slash of fine pinkish skin, the color of a newborn baby.

She had almost died there... And she had just barely started.

"Cohm." Jan blinked. Coleen had crouched beside her, and then used both hands to lead her back to the laid out blankets.

Was she a mind-reader or something? Coleen seemed to have the ability to sense frustration and moping, and went out to relieve or comfort them. Really, the Madame should have charged more for her massssaaaa~

Coleen chuckled. The little warrior girl was putty under her talented hands.

FEAR THE HANDS!

She was a blur. A quick surprise slash downwards intended to cripple ankles was followed with a lightning fast full-body spin, her eyes leaving the target only for a fraction of a second, and the bardiche followed the rotation into a dangerous roundhouse swing.

The build-up momentum would have made the weapon bite deep into the training post, leaving the the head deep into the wood, but for a quick jerk on Jan's wrists. The swift maneuver turned the horizontal chop into a slash, right as the wide edge of the weapon sliced onto the wood. Instead of having to pull her stuck weapon from the post, Jan turned to a second post as the completely sawed-off top of the first one flew to the side.

An overhead chop, no fancy tricks this time, split the top of the new post, and instead of pulling off the weapon, Jan dropped her arms from the haft and towards her hips. Both came up holding the smaller axes, fit for throwing. A pivot, and the girl used the extra bit of momentum to toss the first axe at the 'beheaded' first post, before pivoting a second time and added the other throwing axe to the second post.

Or tried to, at least.

Cursing vehemently, Jan watched as the second axe twirled around on air, a couple of feet off course from the training post she had aimed it at. It struck the short dirt cliff that was the backstop for her weapon training field and fell off along with a clump of dried earth.

Glancing around the clearing, Jan didn't notice any audience, and with a snap of her wrist, a slim hardened wood stake came to her hand from its spring-loaded sheath, and--almost imperceptibly--the girl threw the hidden weapon with an underhand toss. Her aim was true this time, and the projectile pierced the wooden post right at its center mass.

Now less miffed with her own aim, she walked forward and started collecting her scattered weapons. Time to practice her shield arm, then she'd practice hand-to-hand. After that, throwing practice, and after that polearm, and after that-

Jan fumbled out of the Rusty Dragon's entrance, waving a half-empty bottle of ale back at the proprietor who was escorting her out of the establishment.

"Honest. I am not THAT drunk. Just a teeny-tiny bit of teepsy-tippy." The Cheliax woman giggled and hip-checked Ameiko's wandering hand away from her waist. Not that the other woman was aiming for a grope or anything, mind, she was just trying to give Jan the support that the girl looked like she might need.

"I'll head straight to the Kitten, Kaa-san. Don't be a nag." She quipped, to the other woman's exasperation.

They had been hitting the bottles rather hard, though only the cheap ones, after having dragged Sai the female elf around Sandpoint's market spots, and the theater for an impromptu lesson on make-up. After the elf's eyes practically bulged out when Jan and the theater director casually spoke about the price range of top quality make-ups and accessories, Jan had to give her some practical examples. Several simple costumes and one simple eyeliner later, the elf's eyes had bugged out for the fourth time that day, seeing Jan quickly shifted from a cackling hag, a dashing young MALE noble, and lastly, a demure and innocent elven maid.

The last wasn't that hard either, eyeliner to make her eyes look larger and angled, a touch here and there to give shadows of angular features where there were none, and a long straight wig and a hood to cover the ears.

Jan was expecting Sai to burst into gushes and squeals at her transformations, but it seemed like she was more daunted by the kit and the practice needed to get into the level she was practicing in. They parted when Sai went back to her room with little words exchanged, with a promise to see about a possible training tomorrow. Well, her loss, Jan supposed. And, no, she wasn't sulking, damn it. Ameiko had been poking fun at her over their drinking session about it. But now-

"Somehow I don't believe you." Ameiko deadpanned back to her words, bringing Jan back to the Rusty Dragon's porch from where ever her reminiscing had brought her. She jusy replied with giggles.

Ameiko knew that another attempt to hold up the girl might sour her mood, and a moody Jan was never a good idea to reach for. Who knew how many weapons she was lugging around on her at all times?

'Probably sleeps with them nearby', she thought as she waved off her patron away. Anyway, Jan wasn't that drunk. Despite their rather close acquaintance over the time the Cheliax had spent in Sandpoint, Ameiko only occasionally understand what made Jan do the things she did, but the girl acting like she was more debilitated than she actually was?

She'd probably found out what that was about when the morning came. Besides, she had other... Things to think about. With that in mind, the proprietor of the busy tavern went back inside, to handle the rest of her patrons.

Jan, on the other hand, hummed an out-of-tune ditty as she ambled her way NOT toward the Kitten.

So far, Sandpoint's new and reinforced patrols hadn't had anything came up. The town stayed quiet and safe. Whatever the elf Aegon had been worried about hadn't came to.

Yet.

It didn't pay to be cautious, but it only took one mistake to be ruined.

Anyway, she was not out on Sandpoint's seedier side to patrol. Jan was out to score- Okay, maybe the pot wasn't as big as what she had been getting these few days, but since she had been prepping this for some time, she might as well see it to the end. She had the dose ready anyway, ready inside a tiny packet of paper, well hidden between the lining of her vest.

As precaution, she had bought the ingredients separately, and often times she tried to buy them alongside other requirements the Kitten had been expecting, to cover her tracks. So many things done, only for pocket change...

Well, no, two fistful of silvers weren't really pocket change, and when she had prepared this particular scheme, money WAS an issue. But more importantly, even more than the money, was the practice.

Watching the road passing by her feet, she finally noticed the landmarks telling that the Hagfish was just around the corner. Surreptitiously, she swiped one hand across her face, pinching her nose and cheeks to turn them red, and transferring the tiny packet from her vest lining to he hand gripping the ale bottle. A twitch of her fingers, the paper slip's flap would open, and the dose would be transferred into the last mouthful remaining at the bottom or straight to her mouth.

A grin twitched up from her lips.

'Well, here goes nothing.' She thought as she knocked open the door and ambled in, hollering about drunk enough to take the fight against Norah the hagfish.

Tainted Memories
"Air in your lung, is ki of world." His words was the focus of her attention.

"My... Breath? My breath is a key?" She was caught, reeled in, by his strong voice. By his stern gaze. By his belief and expectation of her.

"Yes. Ki. Of world. You use it, you control world."
"...really? That's it?"
"No! Just simpli-fy!"
"Eh. I don't get it."
"Ki of world many. Ki of mind. Ki of nothing. Ki of dark. Ki of noise. Ki of power. Ki of speed. Many ki! But ki of air you take in and and ki of air you take out are basic ki. With two ki you start, you build, you get more ki."

She cocked her head in confusion. Her master sighed and continued.

"Ki of- Ki of bu-ree-thu? Ki of breath? Yes, ki of breath, is impor-tant. Ki of breath teach timing of body. Ki of breath teach ki of body and ki of air. Ki of body teach lots ki. Ki of presence, ki of power, ki of speed. You learn ki of presence, you learn how to make presence bigger! Or smaller. I show you!"

Taking a basic stance, and encouraging her to do the same, he started an exercise of taking his breath in as he pulled his arms together. "In."

And expelling the air as he extended his arms. "Out."

She followed his lead. In. Out. In. Out. In-

She blinked. Wait. Where was he? Did he just?

She stopped, bewildered at the sudden vanishing act. Her head whipped left and right on the empty hall. It was too small for him to hide in and-

A flick of a finger on her forehead caught her by surprise. There he was, still in the stance right in front of her, with one arm extended.

"In. Out. Then stop. Stop everything." She blinked. Something is wrong.

"Ki of no presence has a different name." His malevolent eyes gazed sternly menacingly at her.

"Ki of empty. Ki of nothing. Ki. Of death." But then he gave her a small grin fang-filled leer.

"Use the- "Useless."

"Where is your vengeance, little one? You die so soon..."
She stared at the crimson-fleshed goblin-like demon, and then stared down at her suddenly painful torso.

Blood, red, the color flowed down from her the slice that ran from her ribs and past her sternum. The jagged and ugly blade was still embedded in her. Blood burst from between her lips.

Choking.

Falling.

"WHERE ARE YOU NOW, LITTLE ONE? WE WILL COME AND GET YOU..."
The trio of demons in front of her gazed out from behind the veil of flames and blood.

"WHERE ARE YOU, DEAR SISTER?" "LITTLE JAHAANE, COME OUT AND PLAY WITH ME~"
The demon with grotesque arm and the serpentine demoness flanked the goblin-like demon.

"WHERE ARE YOU~"


Jan jumped up straight from her cot. A small yelp from the side brought her and her weapon up. The spike of wood had almost left her hand when she finally recognized the owner of the voice who had fallen back on her rump because of the surprise.

Hannah. One of the less spoken for girl. She was as pale as a corpse. Jan quickly palmed back the sharpened and hardened stake.

"Gods! Jan! You almost gave me a heart attack!" The girl whined in a nasally voice. A small part of Jan piped up that it was partly why she couldn't get much of a repeat customer, unless they specifically asked her to keep her lips shut. Or they keep it occupied.

"Where'd you come from! I thought the attic was empty, and... Wow, you sleep like the dead. I didn't even know you were here- And, uh, did you have a nightmare? Or a fever? You're sweating buckets." Jan slipped away from the hand heading to her forehead, and stood up from her cot.

". . . It's nothing. Nothing important." With her back to the other girl, she watched the open window, into the starless sky. She glanced down, at her own hand. Her fist opened, and she gazed at it. Clenched it.

"Key of the world..."

Smugglers' tunnel. SMUGGLERS'. Thus, tunnels should lead to a point outside of Sandpoint and onto facilities owned by those same smugglers. Possibly on merchants' quarters or warehouses.
Thoughts, crack down on smugglers with Sheriff? Or offer amnesty for alliance?
Consider twice, potential power and economic base of criminal ring versus heroic reputation and legitimate contacts.

Burnt her father's remains -> Blind leap of logic -> The missing remains from Sandpoint -> Father Tobyn -> But Nuala is dead -> . . . -> Isn't she?
Tsuto at least has some artistic talent, if only stuck at making pin-ups of his crush.
. . . Note to self, get a copy of those pics made. Use the rice paper. Taunt someone with them, preferably the girl in question.
Try and get the clear mugshot discreetly circulated with those who are familiar with Nuala.

Malfeshnekor. Sounds like an Outsider. Get the clerics and oracles in on that trivia?
Check for myths about monsters or outsiders' den on the surrounding area.
Probably an entity related to Lamashtu.

Gold signet ring. Wasn't that similar with what Ameiko had? Or is that Ameiko's? Maybe it was Tsuto's? Or Lonjiku?
Better ask.

Shovel? Why shovel? Is it a deity's symbol? A toy?

What the heck is that pendant?

Poison. Squeee!
It's been hard to get poisons. They aren't cheap and hard to come by.
Bloodroot hits the body's immunity glands and nerve clusters, making the victims' bodies weaker and their senses unbalanced. Lucky Tsuto didn't waste them.
Too bad for the smeared ones, guess have to use them soon before the dose went flat. Aim for the squishy ones.

Get someone to bring Shalelu back to interrogate the goblins? Is it worth it?
The head honcho probably knows something, keep him.
How about the minions? Torture? Or... Considering their cruel nature, perhaps tell them that if they spill their guts (not literally, better use different phrasing with goblins), they would be later in the turn of being gutted and filled with molten glass. They can watch while the first ones are getting done. Hopefully that'd work?
Never tortured goblins before, need practice. Maybe the surviving glassworkers and families of the victims would want to give a hand?

Katriah is being silent. Uncharacteristic. Or maybe she mellowed out after we found Ameiko and rescued her? Maybe she is actually a silent type of girl?
Moaner or screamer?
. . .
Damn it, the girls have finally corrupted me.

Veritas was also out of sorts at the end of it. Looked hurt because of Ameiko waking up screaming at the sight of his face.
+snickers+
I shouldn't gloat, but that felt great.
Damned demon summoners...

Sai and Aegon are still in denial.
Well, maybe not, but it was great to needle them. And when they are needled about that, they don't fight between themselves. Bonus.

Mister Tom turned to be a great help, for someone who spent his time singing for coins. But he has the Voice. Consider him priority if I have to kill them.

Mister Gozzik Redknife is cute.
Heh. I want to keep him in my pocket and just muss his hair every other second.
Also, the half-pint is not that bad with those big blades he tend to gravitate to, another bonus.

Ameiko needs some tender love and care right now.
Send a runner to Kitten to hire Coleen for a day and a night. Foot rubs all around the clock and one of her special full-body oiled massage before getting the poor gal into bed.
Dip into the Dragon's cellar for Ameiko's choice of alcoholic anti-depressants.
Where can I get choco powder at this season? Maybe Ameiko has some stash.

In the soft predawn light, before the sun truly broke the horizon, a body danced in near silence. With slow cadence, an arm unfolded, wrist turned, fingers flexed. A silent step forward, toes firmly clenching upon wooden slats, limbs twisted and swayed. One leg blurred upwards, and stopped, held for a moment, before slowly lowered.

Drenched in sweat, muscle burning with fatigue, Jan watched the darkness across Sandpoint from the top of the Kitten's rooftops.

It was time.

Deep breath.
The moving air chilled her lips, her throat, and her lungs, as she felt her ribcage expand, and expand, and expand.

Hold.
Arms folded in, fists tightened, Jan could feel the trapped air heating up inside her, taking and exchanging her body heat with it. She could feel a chill in the pit of her stomach starting as she felt her ribs creaking under the pressure.

Exhale.
She let the air out in a prolonged breeze across her lips.

Deep breath.
Another intake.

Hold.
The chill coiled and twisted, spreading lower into her.

Exhale.
Her breath was a visible mist.

Deep breath. Hold. Exhale.
Another set. It was close. She could feel it.

Deep breath. Hold. TWIST.
The chill in her stomach turned on its back, roiled like a furious snake, and rose up to a full burn almost immediately.

This was it. The key of the world.
Eyes open, Jan could just feel it, see it, hear it, taste it. The key, just within her grasp.

She 'grasped' the key, a formless thing that had spread all over her body, permeating her mind, coalescing deep within her soul. Key 'in hand', she turned her 'attention' to the locks.

There were many locks, some graced her own body, on her feet, on her arms, inside her eyes; some more distant. She could 'see' some of the locks, on the steps she could trace with limbs, on the evershifting path of the 'future', in her weapons, in her enemies.

She could take the key in her 'grasp' and open those locks, grabbing hold of those things and gain control. Run faster, jump higher, strike harder, rip asunder her enemies...

But she was still weak, her key was not perfect. She could only use the key so many times before it broke.

Not enough.
The sun finally broke past the skyline. Its warm rays touched her face. Jan exhaled, expelling the pent-up air, white like fog. Her body steamed in the morning air, her sweat evaporating from her body heat.


Not yet enough.





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