“On’risa”

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On’risa hated having to come to this place. The stench, debauchery and lack of discipline of these lowlifes disgusted her. The smell of stale drink and the after effects of too much consumption of them assailed her senses, even through the Fa’twee mask she wore. Her adornment mask was necessary for one of her stature. She had earned every bit of that stature having risen from one of the “unwanted” who served their Philanthian masters to that of ships captain in the Philanthian Royal Fleet.

The fact that she now resembled those that she had not long ago murdered, escaped her judgmental thoughts.

“Well, look here me boy’os! A grand black falcon or some such shite!” the drunk shouted out in the dim torchlight of the streets as he pointed towards On’risa and her two escorts.

On’risa quickly assessed those that he was preening for and saw that they were outnumbered by more than three-to-one. Even if they were drunks, swords from an unsteady hand were still just as deadly if they became lucky.

“Loudmouth” as she would come to call him, made his way towards her while stumbling the fifteen paces in the early evening darkness.  His friends hung back, issuing each another that sickly, frightened grin that always accompanied the foolish brave, and the drunk.

She silently signaled her guard to stand down but remain ready, with the hand signals that they had learned under her guidance. That allowed them to forego the need to alert their enemies to what would come next.

“Are you a mister or a missus, under that black mask?” he slurred at her with a sarcasm that would have otherwise earned him a quick death.

Falk Isle was her new home and she had no place else to go, so she kept silent, for the moment. She kept staring at him from under the feathers that draped down over her face, covering it as her stature required.  She tensed, readying herself as he reached for his belt, but instead of the sword he should have drawn, he untied his coin purse from his wide leather belt that held up a pair of ragged red and white striped canvas pants. He counted out several copper coins into the palm of his hand. She watched his actions calmly wondering what foolish choice he would make with them.

It didn’t take long. He grinned as he leaned towards her, his foul breath filling her with disgust, even through the black silk that covered her face under the black feathers. “Loudmouth” tipped his palm, letting the coins fall to the cobblestones while he cupped his ear with his other hand and tilted his head towards the ground, listening as the coins rang out in the darkness.

“Sounds to me, like your name be tangle, ring, ting tang!” he said with a raucous laugh towards his friends.

“I’m sorry, she said in perfect common, it’s actually On’risa,” she said with a glare that he was unable to see.

“Oh… you’d be sayin’ I should ‘ave dropped me some wooden coins, eh?” he laughed.

“It’s very simple, sir. Can you say “on”, or has that escaped your abilities?” she asked.

Sensing danger, but much too drunk to actually place where this was going, and proud of the fact that he was apparently able to pronounce a word in the Philanthian tongue he nearly shouted his disrespectful response.

“On!”

“Very nice,” On’risa cooed soothingly, “Now, when you hear a Philanthian name, the syllables are of utmost importance, if you say them wrong, we possibly could become offended. We break them up like this…can you say “ah” just as well, I wonder?”

“Arrrrgh me mateys! Ain’t that what she asked?” he asked them while grinning foolishly, turning to see their reaction.

Seeing their large grin and listening to their laughter he turned back to look at the Philanthian ships captain, just in time to feel the sharp sting of a dagger enter his throat. A low-pitched rush of pain escaped his lips as he reached up and grabbed her wrist, trying to extract the blade from his flesh.

“Nooooo…you’re short on the pitch actually,” On’risa said calmly as she reached up and grabbed the drunk by his hair, tilting his head to her left, away from the blade.

Another quick gasp of pain. It was followed by a very high pitched, but brief, sound of a vowel escaping from his lips as his pain quickly increased.  On’risa tilted her mask towards his lips as she looked over his shoulder to see what his friends were going to do.

“Nooo…still not quite correct,” she said to him coldly as she tilted his head back further over his shoulders.

“Loudmouth” dropped to his knees in agony, holding onto her wrist, trying to still her hand with the blade.

“That is then followed with what sounds like ree suh…” she said calmly as she sliced the blade across his throat, “…but, that is close enough, for a Da’inch.”

On’risas escorts drew their weapons as his friends reached for theirs, then quickly changed their minds and began scattering into the darkness.  On’risa wiped her blade clean on “Loudmouths” shoulder and stepped around him, leaving him to die kneeling on the street.

“Remember that lesson, “boy’os” the next time you see me coming down the street!” she shouted threateningly after them.

Her two escorts sheathed their swords and bowed towards her as she looked back, ensuring they were ready to proceed towards her meeting.

The two men looked at one another as she began making her way towards her destiny. A destiny that they would gladly see her achieve, or die trying in their efforts for their Captain. And with a pride they had not felt in their lifetimes.

 

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