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Noctis

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Gran Voyage Type: Story
Gran Voyage Name: Taste of Freedom and Bloody Skies
Gran Voyage Location: Baltigo
Level: 2
NPCing: Moderate
Gran Voyage Description:
The date for a private demonstration of Noctis' abilities has been set by his owner, the fight promoter, Dane S. Coronus. The guest of honor is Dane's superior, one of the Nine Kingpins of the Red City, Garrolt Taylor, along with some of his associates. Going by the alias "The People's Prince", Taylor treats slave trafficking as a mastercraft, almost unparalleled in his business. It's said that over 90% of all slaves have gone through Taylor at one point in time or another, even those belonging to the nobles of the world.

Dane is no different, having worked underneath Taylor for most of his "career" as a promoter. The associates Taylor plans on bringing are much in the same position, an elder fishman shrouded in mystery, who goes by the alias Gil. It's been said that he is the main pipeline for fishmen brought into slavery, having been doing so since the days of Taylor's predecessors.

The final associate is a Skypeian woman, Valor, who too worked to sell her own kind into slavery, whose reasons for coming down to the sea seemed to be more than simple business, as she typically stays out of terrestrial affairs. Having been invited by Taylor himself, the two associates were to join him in this entertainment provided by Dane and his "property", whom he seemed to boast about quite often. This was no simple leisure meeting though, as Taylor plans to discuss business, a deal that will solidify his power in the Grand Line, beyond even the Nine Districts and the nobles. A backroom joint deal to sell slaves directly to the Navy for their free use.

No longer content with the cards he has been dealt, Noctis plots to use the performance to escape his enslavement, as well as send a strong message echoing through the Underworld and beyond. He will not only show them the value of a single life, he will take away theirs. He will kill the Kingpin. He will kill Gil and Valor. And he will kill Dane.

Unfortunately, Noctis would come to learn that even with his greatest intentions and aspirations, he was still only a small fish in an endless sea.
 
Doriki:
+5 Doriki to Speed & Agility from Blitzer Occupation
+5 Doriki to Strength when using legs from Longleg Race


  • Speed & Agility: Tertiary+1
  • Strength: Tertiary+1 (When using legs)

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Noctis

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~Volume One: Plans Lay Bare~

Warmth. Red began to saturate his vision, descending from above with a steady flow. Blood. His toes gripped the sand, as he lunged forward towards a figure he couldn't quite make out. Blurred and shadowed, it seemed ethereal. Just as he reached it, feeling certain he had pierced it clean through with his dagger, he stumbled. Gazing down at a tiled floor, he regained his bearings, before looking in front of him. There sat Dane, looking quite pleased with himself as usual. He opened up his arms wide, placed his palms out and spoke, "Are you ready to show your stuff? Taylor is going to be so impressed."

Noctis couldn't shake his haze, unable to understand what Taylor had just spoken to him. He opened his mouth to respond, but his voice couldn't be mustered forth. He struggled and strained, but it was just empty silence. He closed his eyes to scream, but as his chest and diaphragm ached, all that came was the silence. He opened his eyes, vision blurred from tears welling from his futile effort.

He rubbed them clear, to see the same shadowed and featureless figure, along with two others. Dane sat next to them, as they seemed to look quite expectantly at Noctis, a display of weapons laid out in front of him. "A private demonstration?" Noctis thought to himself. He wasn't scheduled for one, but it wasn't his decision to make. He reached out and gripped the familiar looking dagger, and immediately felt threatened by the figures. They distorted with malice, and Noctis' hand began to tremble for the first time in years.

The feeling only intensified, yet Noctis went on with his demonstration, showing off his techniques and superhuman speed. The malice of the figures seemed to fade with his act, as if they were satisfied. Dane clapped along, silently bragging and nudging at the figures, pointing at Noctis. Things seemed to go on normally, as Noctis wrapped up his demonstration. He went to place his dagger back on the table.

"Did we say you were done?" the center figured seemed to bellow, though Noctis couldn't understand how. It just seemed organic. Noctis' grip on his dagger instinctively tightened in fear. His adrenaline pumped furiously through his body. It was fight or flight. There was no time for indecision. He felt his toes grip the sand, as he lunged across the tiled floor at the figure. He thrust his dagger forward, as it struggled to make it's way through the air, as if it were syrup. A brilliant light flooded his eyes, as he lost consciousness.

The rays from the rising sun assaulted Noctis' eyes as they shot open, his only sheet and his mattress soaked in a cold sweat. Tonight. His plan was tonight. He got up from his bed and looked at himself in the mirror. His body was still glistening with sweat, and his whole body was covered with goosebumps, as he exposed his clammy skin to the chilly air of his room.

His bandaged abdomen was sagging, loosened from his sweat. He gave his face two quick slaps to wake himself up, as he turned and reached underneath his mattress, grabbing a roll of bandages he took from the infirmary. He quickly unraveled the damp dressings, tossing them into the corner, where the bandages from his hands had been thrown the night before.

Walking to the drain in the center of his room, he grabbed a humble pitcher, as well as a cloth, his calloused feet tapping across the concrete. He quickly threw off what remained of his clothing before giving himself a quick wipe down. He looked at his small collection of 'luxuries' he had earned, spying an opened bar of soap. It wasn't often he got to clean himself up, but today was gonna be a special occasion. It was gonna be his last day here, after all.

After his makeshift shower, Noctis dried himself off and turned to the mirror. He unraveled the roll of bandages and began to wrap his abdomen tightly, making sure to cover his scar well. He finished up by double wrapping his arms and hands, almost cutting off his circulation. He shuffled over to his folded pile of clothes and pulled out his 'formal wear'. A pair of slightly small slacks that hugged his legs a bit tightly and a battered white t-shirt. A silvered collared button up tee to go over that having long lost it's buttons and a dirty black jacket to top it off. He put on his only pair of shoes and moved over to his barred window.

The sun now in full force, it seemed to angrily yell from behind the overcast; it's light, it's gift, being restrained. Noctis couldn't help but sympathize from behind the bars. He was like a prisoner here, and had been as long as he could remember. The benefits of being a slave. All he could do is watch and wait for morning call. He went over his plan in his head, running it like a film on repeat.

Today he was to give a private demonstration to three VIPs, a sort of mid meeting entertainment. This demonstration was stressed to be incredibly important, and mistakes or disappointment was certain to be met with harsh punishment. The VIPs today were of loftier status than any Noctis had done previously. Business associates of Dane's, as well as their superior, a man named Garrolt Taylor. The People's Prince.

Noctis didn't know a great deal about the associates, but he had heard much of Taylor. The kingpin of slave trafficking in Baltigo. Noctis didn't personally remember anything about Taylor, but he was assured by other slaves that they almost certainly had been involved at some point. Almost all slaves seemed to have gone through Taylor at some point in time, and some here have even encountered him. They described him as a massive, intimidating man, who's cruelty was unmatched. Noctis wasn't sure about the legitimacy of all these claims, but it's certain that he was a man of elevated status in the underworld.

During the private demonstrations, Noctis is taken to a vast viewing room, with space enough for him to move freely and openly. Inside is a table of weapons, from swords to maces, hammers to knives. Just beyond the table is where the guests and Dane usually sit and watch in cushioned arm chairs, making business and gossip. The room itself is quite formal, almost study-like, as books line the walls, and intricate busts and statues sit in the corners.

As Noctis has been given quite a bit more freedom from Dane, he isn't granted an escort, and is able to move freely with Dane present. To Dane, Noctis is like a trophy, a prized possession. Customarily, Dane has used Noctis as a bodyguard when working with other slaves, and on more than one occasion he has been ordered to put them down. With this freedom, Noctis plans to free the slaves discreetly before the demonstration. At the demonstration, his peers would let loose as the most powerful VIPs and Dane are taken out by Noctis, all at once. With sheer numbers, they should overpower any resistance. Ideally.

To Noctis, there wasn't much in the terms of countermeasures. It was all or nothing. If he were to be caught, death would be almost inevitable. Two loud hits echoed off the bars of the door heading to his room. Time for morning roll call. The slaves were to be gathered up and counted, and those who were dead or missing would be taken off the list. It's here Noctis would spread the word of his plan.



Last edited by Noctis on Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:26 am; edited 1 time in total


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Noctis

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~Volume One: Plans Lay Bare~

Noctis approached the barred entrance to his room, as two guards briefly glanced at a clipboard containing a list of all the slaves in the compound. "Six, you know the drill." the guards lectured. Noctis quickly raised his arms and gave a quick turn, letting the guards lazily scan over him with their eyes. A daily protocol to ensure the safety of the employees here. With a nod of confirmation, the guards unlocked the cell door, and Noctis walked rather leisurely to the front of the double-file line of slaves. The process continued on as normal, as the guards escorted the line of slaves to each celled room, bringing out four to five slaves each room. Noctis was rather fortunate in this regard, having earned his own room a number of years ago. A tap on the lower back broke his daze, as he turned to face the slave behind him. Number Three.

A fit woman, several feet shorter than Noctis, stared adamantly at him, her large grin proudly shining forth in contrast to her status in life. Her straight onyx hair extended well beyond her waist, and displayed signs of extensive care. On her upper arm was a brand with the number three, followed by a short series of letters indicating her grouping. She had belonged to the same generation of slaves as Noctis, and the two had briefly shared a room along with several others. In that time, the two had become quite close, her tending to Noctis' wounds far more delicately than the infirmary often would.

Noctis walked backwards at the head of the pack, to allow himself a face to face conversation with his dear friend. The guards seemed to ignore Noctis entirely, likely at the direct order of Dane. "Fancy seeing you here, bigshot number six." Three teased, giving Noctis a quick jab just below the knee, "Unlike you to join the common folk for role call." Noctis responded with a sarcastic, dejected pout. "Hey now, sometimes you gotta take care of business." he retorted, "Speaking of which, today's gonna be quite the day..." Noctis intentionally trailed off, knowing that Three's curiosity would get the best of her.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she questioned predictably, her eyes narrowing in suspicion and intrigue.

"We're gonna do it tonight." Noctis uttered rather seriously, locking his stare with hers.

"W-what?!" Three stuttered out, her face instantly becoming flustered and beet red.

"No, not that. Damn, you think I'd really be that bold? I mean tonight is the night we and everyone else gets their freedom. I have a plan and I'll need your help." Noctis maintained his iron clad gaze, silently pleading with his eyes alone. Three's face quickly returned to normal coloration, as she contemplated for a moment, the gears in her head turning almost visibly. "Alright, what's the plan?" she relented.

"Tonight, I have another private demonstration with Dane and a few patrons of great importance. Before then, you'll need to spread the word to the others, and get them all on board. While I have the top rungs occupied, you and everyone else will overwhelm the staff here with numbers and get free. Hopefully, by that time, I'll have Dane and his guests taken care of." Noctis spouted off as Three listened intently. "Alright..." she wondered aloud, "But how exactly do you propose we get free? We can't exactly break chains with our bare hands. On top of that, what makes tonight's demonstration different than any other demonstration? Why now?"

Noctis shot back a face mixed with pride and worry. "Taylor. The People's Prince is one of the guests of honor. If we take him out, we not only can earn our freedom, but cripple the system of slavery entirely." Noctis orated in a hushed tone, the guards still obliviously going through roll, "Dane himself has a personal device that controls the entire facility. No one is chained up while in their cells. Once I open all the doors at once, that'll be the signal. You just need to get everyone on the same page."

Three immediately perked up, as if the tone were never that serious to begin with. "If that's all it takes, then I'm all for it." she responded cheerfully, as the guards finished up the roll call. Noctis nodded, the plan now set in motion. Group by group, the slaves were returned to their cells, until Noctis was to enter his cell. However, as they approached, he spotted Dane, who looked rather nervous. There was 8 hours until the demonstration.


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Dane S. Coronus is in a tizzy over the upcoming events this evening. Colleagues in the slave trade are coming to witness his prized position and organize some upcoming business deals, but among them is a certain individual ranked far above him. Garrolt Taylor is a dangerous man, even to Dane, so he can only hope that his best performer can put on a show that entertains, especially if it means that Taylor becomes a potential future business partner. All of this goes through his mind as he blankly watches his assortment of slaves move to and from their cells, scanning over them in a haze. However, when his eyes come across Noctis, the man snaps back to reality and motions for his slave to make his way over to.

The man walks forward to meet the prized fighter, cupping his hand over the chin and guiding his face so that Noctis and he are looking directly at each other. "Bring your A game, boy. No funny business." Dane pats the slave on the chin, powerful enough to be considered a slap rather than a pat. The intent wasn't to hurt his possession so much as solidify his position of authority before the big night, something he had been severely lenient on in recent years considering the performance of the long-legged man.

Continuing with this show of power, Dane signaled to the guards that had been escorting the slaves. They perked up, moving to Noctis and reaching for his upper arms. They intended to forcefully escort him back to his cell just to prove that it was Dane's decision, not his own.

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Noctis

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~Volume Two: Fate~

Noctis approached his owner, coming to a kneel to allow Dane to look him directly in the eyes. Noctis' appearance seemed to snap the busy man out of his haze, as if his worries were alleviated by the prize fighter's presence. Not content to simply allow Noctis free reign, he took hold of the slave's face, before giving him a stern slap. It didn't much hurt or bother Noctis, but it was a clear demonstration of dominance and superiority. Dane even in business was a showman in his methods, as he gestured for the guards to take hold of Noctis and escort him to his room.

Nodding in blind compliance, the guards mindlessly reached up towards Noctis' arms as they did to all slaves, only to find they were far too short to reach the Longleg's upper arms. Quickly thinking, Noctis sighed before putting his hands behind his back, crossed and low enough for the escort to reach. "No sense in causing a scene here..." Noctis mused to himself, unable to resist feeling just a bit embarrassed for the guards on duty.

The men quickly took a firm hold of Noctis' wrists, just as eager to assert their authority as Dane, before pushing the fighter forward and into his cell with a slam. Stumbling and stuggling, Noctis managed to keep his balance before righting himself. He couldn't help but chuckle at how frail the pride of free men could be. "I can only hope that I'll be different." He reflected aloud, making his way onto his bed. The morning festivities complete, Noctis relaxed, waiting to be called for preparations. Just as Dane demanded, he had to bring his A-game. Minutes turned to hours of patient waiting, with Noctis managing to nap somewhere in between.
_____________________________

Meanwhile...

Three entered her cell along with her roommates, unable to completely hide the eagerness from her face. She quickly called her roommates over, ready to tell them the news, but before she could speak, she was cut off.

"What's up with you? You're normally not so..." the elderly man asked curiously and cautiously, afraid to know the answer, but more so to be left in the dark.

"Expressive?" the young teen concluded, just as intrigued as her grandfather.

"It's that obvious? I was trying so hard too..." Three moped for a moment, before recollecting herself quite rapidly, "Anyway, that doesn't matter. I need you to spread the word during labor today."

"And what's that exactly?" the teen inquired hesitantly.

"Tonight, just after our labor shifts are finished, our cells are going to open. We're all going to break out at once." Three elaborated confidently, sure of Noctis' success, "But for that to succeed, everyone needs to know. Can you handle that?"

"Of course! We'd want nothing less!" the teen excitedly agreed.

Silently, the elderly man's doubt crept into the atmosphere, causing everyone to feel uneasy. Without a word spoken, it was clear to Three what this meant. Not everyone wanted to risk their lives on a gamble. Not everyone wants to face change head on, even if they're a slave. Not everyone wants to fight their fate. It must seem even more difficult if you've come to terms with it, akin to denying everything you've lived for.

Rather than explain, Three decided to leave her young roommate in the dark. Creating conflict between each other would only make things worse at this stage. The old man seemed to be of similar mind, as he neglected to speak up. Even if he was set in his ways, he had no right to change his grandchild's path. Deep down, he still believed that fate could be changed, but not his own.

The melancholy air set the tone, as loud chimes came from outside the room; it was time for labor. With a tepid disposition, the three roommates left their cell, as they were escorted to their daily duties. 7 hours remained until the demonstration.


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Noctis

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~Volume Two: Fate~

"So that young upstart is finally showing some balls, huh?" A towering behemoth of a man thundered in response to Three, his body more scar than skin at this point. "Took him long enough. Was getting bored here."

"Yeah yeah, don't act like Noctis hasn't been kicking your ass for years now." Three shot back, nudging for the man to return to raking the sands for tonight's matches. "Anyway, make sure you spread the word Doce, otherwise the plan's bust."

"I heard you the fifth time, damn. Besides, if Six can't pull this off, I doubt anyone will. I haven't seen anyone this close to the big boss ever." Doce relented, aggressively sliding his rake into the sand, cutting deep grooves into the floor. "Plus the only reason he hasn't been squashed flat is no one can catch him. You know that. He's not even that strong, slippery bastard."

"Bet no one has said that to his face, you included. Wonder why...?" Three teased, quickly sweeping in sand to cover the damage Doce just made.

"Total mystery." Doce countered, unaware of his own destructive behavior.

Two loud clangs from metal on metal broke the conversation, as guards scurried into the arena, carelessly trampling on the finely raked sand, setting the workers back hours. The pair turned their heads to witness guards mercilessly wailing on a figure they couldn't quite make out, tucked into the ground. This wasn't overly uncommon, guards beating on slaves for mistakes or for fun, but the furiosity and relentlessness was. It seemed like an eternity of dull, almost rhythmic beating, before the men dragged away the bloodied corpse of a small slave. They were left unidentifiable, but couldn't have been more than twelve years old. The sound of a whistle broke the monotony, as more slaves were brought in to clean up the viscera paste that was made in the dirt. It was clear that something had security especially on edge, but it was a mystery to most. "Is the People's Prince really that important..?" Three pondered to herself.

"What'd you say? Did you just say 'The People's Prince'?" Doce interrogated angrily. "Don't tell me the demonstration is for that motherfucker!? I swear to god I'll kill that son of a bitch!"

Unaware that she had thought out loud, Three could only recoil in silence at Doce's rage. Obviously Taylor had done something to most people here, but she was never truly keen of the scope of brutality. Anxiety began to grip her. Surely Noctis would be fine, right?
_______________

2 Hours Until the Demonstration


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Devroux

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Dane S. Coronus
The hours passed by excrutiatingly slowly for Dane as he rushed around his estate trying to get everything ready for his get together that evening. The staff that he had spent years training and trusting were very worth the trust he put in them, including the slaves that he had loosened his grip on, but with Taylor coming, now was the time to tighten that grip rather than let these people run free. Everything had to be perfect. Every waiter needed their tie tied, every chef needed their own cookware, every table needed to be topped with a bouquet with the right amount of flowers.

Even the slaves, those people he had put through the ringer their entire lives, needed to be in top form. Every one needed bathing and to be clothed in atire that would make them worthy of being purchased. His combat slaves needed to be fed, so that they'd have enough strength to put on a show worth of the man powerful enough to be a Batligo Kingpin.

For all of the effort that Dane S. Coronus was putting in, it was being returned in spades. His staff saw his desperation and desire to step down and do some of the dirty work for himself, so they returned that effort in kind. Every preparation was made perfectly, yet even as guests arrived, Dane couldn't shake the feeling that something was off. Was it misaligned silverware? Was the tablecloth not on evenly? Did he have enough cigars to satisfy his important guests?

Whatever it may be, he kept giving a smile to those that walked in, shaking hands and waiting for the guest of honor himself to show up.

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Noctis

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~Volume Three: Arrivals and Departures~

A massive man stood at the docks within the ninth district, tapping his foot impatiently, practically shaking the ground as he did so. His white three-piece suit acting in sharp contrast to his rather run down surroundings. He was important, he was wealthy, and most importantly, he was powerful. Why in the hell did he have to wait? Before his temper caught him off guard, a ship rolled into the port, a gold ornate trim lining the well kept wooden hull. It'd be easy to think that the vessel hadn't sailed a day in it's life, but that'd be a mistake. This wasn't just your average boat. This was the boat of the kingpin. Having sent it out to collect his associates, the people's prince perked up with an enthusiasm that betrayed his rugged and intimidating appearance. Two additional figures hopped off the starboard bow of the ship before it could officially dock.

"Well well, there's my guests! Come come, we're late and there's business and entertainment to be had!" The People's Prince, Garrolt Taylor said to his concealed associates, not even waiting for a response before turning and making his way towards Dane's venue.
____________________

Noctis stirred in his sleep, the stress of tonight's operation finally taking it's toll on him. His eyes shot open to the sounds of aggressive shuffling outside his door. Fighting through the fugue state of awakening, Noctis sprung out of his bed, still in his performance attire. Making his way to the bar door, he saw several non-desirable slaves being escorted back to their rooms hastily. Among them was Doce, a veteran of the arena here. He had been forcibly put into retirement some months ago due to 'age', though Doce couldn't have been a day over 40. More likely, it was due to his enormous accumulation of injuries finally taking what they were owed. His body was so heavily scarred, it was hard to distinguish any individual wound, even those Noctis had placed on him personally.

Doce turned to Noctis' door, spotting him with surprise on his face. Slow, but not dumb, Doce maintained his silence and instead elected to give Noctis a knowing nod before being pushed out of view by a team of several guards. "Damn, even Doce's on board? Three really put in work while I was out." Noctis reflected to himself, analyzing the scenery from outside his cell. In the few hours he was asleep, the facility had become almost unrecognizable. Elegant red banners draped from almost every notable elevated surface, warm yellow artificial lights were introduced to make the prison they called home feel more inviting. The only slaves out and working were physically attractive or had some sort of novelty to them. Everyone else, Doce included, were put away and hidden. Guards had swapped their traditional uniforms for psuedo-suits, giving them a butler-like appearance. The mess hall had been completely converted into a diner party with hardwood round tables, complete with embroidery. Wealthy looking guests snacked on appetizers and sipped away at wine served atop the backs of slave women, who were so barely clothed that anywhere or anyone else would be taken away immediately.

"God almighty Dane, talk about extravagant and egregious..." Noctis involuntarily uttered, unaware that Dane was already there to escort Noctis to greet the guests of honor as they arrived. There was only 45 minutes until the private demonstration.


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Devroux

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"You could say that," Dane said, coming up behind his prized fighter with a scowl on his face. "I would just call it being a proper host. Taylor deserves this type of treatment, and who am I to deny a man such as that?" He gave his comment a short laugh, smiling up at Noctis before taking something out of his pocket.

"Here, put this on," he said, handing the item to Noctis. What he handed his slave was an embroidered collar, meant more to look good than to be functional. It was part of Dane's showmanship that he had taken up for the occasion. "It doesn't do anything, but it makes you look restricted. Garrolt Taylor just needs to be convinced that I have my household under wraps."

Turning away from Noctis and with a short wave of his hand, he commanded the long-legged slave to follow pace with his short strides. Together, they walked towards the entrance of Dane's manor that was now flooded with people. Noctis towered above most of them, making a perfect statement piece for Dane in the crowd. The two came to the entrance just in time for the door to open and reveal Garrolt Taylor and his associates. Taylor's white suit showing his drastic status difference between him and the other party attenders.

"Well hello, Dane," the man said. "It's good to see you again." Garrolt Taylor's voice was deep and powerful, commanding respect from those within earshot. Upon realizing who it was, those in the immediate area spread out to give the man more room.

"Yes, sir, Mr. Taylor." Dane, on the other hand, was showing his emotion on his sleeve. He was obviously nervous and his voice was shaking heavily; none of which had been problems until Garrolt Taylor had walked in.

"Let's sit down and talk."

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Noctis

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~Volume Three: Arrivals and Departures~

Noctis inspected the collar briefly before placing it around his neck loosely, not securing it overly tight, simply for comfort. Walking slowly to match Dane's pace, Noctis came to a stop abruptly as the door in front of them opened to reveal a large man, smaller than Noctis, but imposing for a regular human. Everyone around treated him with reverence, indicating to Noctis the man's identity long before he spoke. Dane seemed to fold and crumble like a paper bag, as Garrolt Taylor's voice asserted his authority. Even Noctis hesitated in awe before bowing his head quickly.

The two associates removed their hoods, revealing themselves. A taller elderly fishman, face a pale blue and wrinkled from age, he seemed to stand with a large pronounced hunchback, and he elected to keep his cloak on. He smiled and extended his hand to Dane, introducing himself. "Gil. I'm sure you've heard of me just as I've heard of you."

His grip was firm and swift, as if it were a technique refined over years of practice. Behind him was a figure in a simple steel mask, only piercing blue eyes visible from the slots it contained. Long blonde hair flowed back from beneath the mask, all the way down to the figure's hips. Carefully, they removed their cloak entirely, handing it off to a waiting servant, revealing their slender and curvaceous figure. It was instantly clear that this was in fact a woman, and a skypiean no less. She wore a tight fitting sleeveless sweater, off white to match her angel like wings, as well as a matching skirt that extended down to her ankles.

Contrary to Gil, she remained cold, refusing to introduce herself to Dane. Picking up the slack, Taylor interrupted the tension seamlessly. "This is Valor, she's a representative for my Skypeian clientele. Come now, let's do business."

Taylor seemed to naturally take the lead as the group made their way to a lift leading to Dane's personal level where the private demonstration room resided, half lounge, half stage. The room itself was lined partially with books, with one wall containing it's own self-serve bar. 4 comfortable armchairs were already set out facing the stage where Noctis would perform. A multitude of weapons and tools were laid atop a table between the stage and the men. An end table was placed between the armchairs, which held a communal ashtray for cigars, and 4 glasses of fine aged liquor over ice were already waiting, condensation having formed from the time they were poured.

Several slaves marked for future execution waited, chained, gagged and head covered for use as participants in the demonstration. The stage itself was coated in some sort of wax or hydrophobic material for easy cleanup. It was all fairly standard to Noctis, but for outsiders, it might seem overwhelming. Noctis took his place in front of the stage and weapons, waiting for his command to begin.


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Devroux

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As the group moved away from the door and into the foyer, all eyes were locked on the newcome trio. The crowd of people that had arrived before Garrolt Taylor and his entourage were far above them in social casque, but well below them in social standing. Everyone in the room knew that regardless of where they stood on the social ladder or how recognized they were by the World Government, Garrolt Taylor, and those that followed him, would always remain safely above them - all above reproach unless Taylor said so himself. Dane's party tonight was comprised of nobles and other individuals that wanted to get into the slave game, but only those that wished to purchase slaves for their own use, rather than those like Taylor and his group that traded them for profit and show.

Dane walked swiftly, leading the group towards the lift they'd use to reach the second level and their private room. He was leading the group as a good host does, but Garrolt Taylor kept pace with him the entire way, with Gil and Valor keeping up two steps behind him, and Noctis following up the rear, as a slave does. The group rode the lift in silence and upon reaching the floor they'd be staying on, Noctis broke off from the group silently, opting to get into position as he had been coached to do.

Garrolt Taylor walked by the table of liquor and cigars, grabbing a handful of Dane's high-quality stash before continuing on to the table that was set up for them. He had been there before, knew what he was doing, and even if he didn't, no one was going to tell him otherwise. However, while Taylor was silent and confident in his movements, the two that came with him reacted in different ways.

"I didn't realize that we were here for rigged games," Gil said, casting a look down at Dane. The condescending remark forced knots into Dane's stomach as he held his tongue before returning fire. In a fight, even Dane was aware that he'd be the one losing, so he opted to give the fishman a warm smile. Gil, however, picked up on the ill intent that Dane couldn't completely mask, and both had daggers in their eyes as they watched each other.

"Play nice, kids," Garrolt Taylor said, his booming voice ripping apart the tension in the air. While Gil managed to hold tight to his condescending personality, Taylor's words carried an air of superiority given the same type of remark. His voice was deep, trailing into a light draw at the end of each word to slow it down and force people to pay attention longer. Each word was powerful, creating fact from pure force of conviction.

Gil and Dane snapped their eyes away from each other, facing the kingpin with sheepish looks on both of their faces. Valor silently pushed between the two of them, joining Garrolt Taylor at the group's table without touching any of the party supplies put out by Dane. The other two, casting another sideways glance toward each other, followed behind the Skypeian woman and took their places at the table.

"So," Taylor spoke, getting everyone's attention back on him. "Dane can have his shows, but I'm a man of business, so let's get down to it." Taylor paused briefly, waiting for the group to all nod in understanding. "As you all should be well aware, I've been in this business since before I could remember. There's nothing outside of this life, and there's no better feeling than droves of merchandise and massive hauls. However," the word drew, making it longer and ending in another brief pause. Garrolt Taylor may have not been a showman, but he spoke for attention. "I want more."

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Noctis

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~Volume Three: Arrivals and Departures~

It became immediately clear to Noctis how each member stood in comparison to each other in terms of strength, even through such a brief exchange. Dane was nothing compared to his three guests. His authority was not earned on any of his own physical merit, but rather his intelligence. However, in situations like these, intelligence could do him little good. Next up on the totem pole was Valor, who seemed to maintain silence, either out of respect, fear, or disinterest. Yet even she seemed to regard Dane as 'lesser'. Then came the fishman, Gil. He was far more powerful than Noctis had initially anticipated. It was clear that his influence was sizable, even in comparison to Taylor's. Whether this was through experience or talent mattered little. He had enough strength to allow his own opinions and disagreements come forth in front of Taylor without fear of severe repercussions.

Yet, even his voice was eventually silenced by the Kingpin.

Noctis had to actively suppress his nervousness and fear, lest it slip out involuntarily and alert them. Despite their relative abilities, Dane had to be taken out first, as he alone had the ability to free everyone at the touch of a button. But the absolute highest priority after was that of the People's Prince. Noctis had a huge confidence in his speed, reasoning that killing a normal man such as Dane would be swift and take only a moment, but one shot kills on targets was not his forte, and getting into a brawl with Taylor and the three others was a surefire way to get killed outright.

"I've only got one shot at this. There's no time for error or hesitation. I'll wait for my opportunity, and strike." Noctis reassured himself, taking hold of a knife on the table, tossing it and catching it in one hand, getting a good feel for it's weight and proportions. It was simple, but well made. Perfect for bulk crafting. Noctis then grabbed a short sword, a thin blade made for dueling, and hopped onto the stage in a smooth motion. Noctis removed one of the men's chains and hood, grabbing him by the back of the neck as a show of force, causing his slave opponent to remain composed in such a delicate situation.

It was just going through the motions, something that Noctis had done for Dane countless times for innumerable guests. He released his hold of the man, who seemed to now realize what was happening. Many slaves had heard of what happened in the demonstrations, but rumors were often dismissed. Yet, there was nothing but harsh reality for the unlucky men who had been chosen for execution in this manner. Noctis had resigned himself to this and come to terms with it long ago. Coldly, he tossed the dueling saber at the feet of the slave, the blade burring itself into the floor, standing upright to be grabbed by the man. If the guests wanted a 'real' fight and real bloodshed, Noctis was more than happy to comply.

The condemned man was scrawny and weak from what had to have been months of imprisonment and malnourished. Physically, even Dane would have little trouble beating the man in a fight. In terms of raw excitement, there was none to be had from watching this one-sided slaughter, but it was for show, nothing more. Noctis kept his mind alert, waiting for his chance. Something that would leave Dane in shock or recoil, some news or otherwise, would be the perfect scenario. Their guards would be down and Dane would be easy pickings, Noctis thought. Not only that, but Noctis couldn't help but be curious at what exactly Taylor's aspirations were. Perhaps that revelation would be the opportunity he needed.


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Garrolt Taylor wasn't the kind of man to gamble on hopes and dreams. Every move was methodical, carefully calculated to bring him success, both in combat and in business. The utterance of the words "I want more" sent shivers down the spines of his comrades, who knew that when those words came from Garrolt Taylor, they didn't mean a business deal... It just meant business.

Before Taylor continued with his speech, his eyes flickered. The movement was so quick that it wasn't noticeable to anyone in the room aside from him and Gil, but for a brief moment his eyes were drawn to the slave, Noctis, on the other side of the room tossing a knife about as if he were there for a job. He glanced at Gil, who shook his head in acknowledgement, then the kingpin turned a smile on Dane. Dane, in his own special brand of naivete, took the smile in confidence and put on a serious air, trying to act tough in front of his special guests.

"I want more," Taylor continued. "The business deal of all business deals... I want to be the lord."

A chill was sent through the air as everyone within earshot understood how serious Garrolt Taylor was in the statement. All eyes were on him. Not even Dane was able to keep his eyes on the slave he'd brought here specifically for entertainment.

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Noctis

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~Volume Three: Arrivals and Departures~

Unaware of Taylor and Gil's revelation, Noctis readied himself to kill the slave in front of him, flipping a sort of mental switch to allow himself freedom from guilt and remorse. It was no longer an active choice for Noctis, having spent most of his life in the arena, killing for other's sport, but it was necessary for him regardless. The ability to no longer see those in front of him as people when it came down to it, more than anything else, was what allowed him to survive this long.

Noctis took a single step forward, asserting his presence and superiority over the man he was ready to kill. Simple intimidation was often a method to win a fight before it truly began, breaking down the opponent's will to resist before the chance to actually do so arose. Yet before this assertion could take hold of the man who was marked for death, an even greater shock gripped the men in the room, as the People's Prince made his ambitions known. Even being ignorant of the gravity of that statement, the slave to be executed physically recoiled.

Noctis eyes shot to Taylor, entranced by the man's determination, and it appeared he wasn't the only one. Noctis forced himself to avert his gaze, his eyes gradually shifting towards Dane, who also seemed locked on the Kingpin. Noctis' steeled his will, fortifying his own internal determination to rival that of even Taylor's, even if just for a moment. Another opportunity such as this wasn't going to present itself. Not ever.

Noctis loosened his grip on the knife ever so slightly, before whipping the knife at Dane at full force, the dagger slicing through the air with a whistle at the promoter's neck. It was Noctis' only hope that those who were transfixed would remain so just long enough for the blade to reach it's mark. Still, there was no time to idle, as Noctis pressed himself off the stage from a standstill, using all of his speed and strength in his legs to accelerate rapidly towards Dane, aiming to reach him just after the blade did in order to seize the control of the cells holding his comrades. With a brief pop, Noctis' traveled through the air, the brief sound of wind overlapping with the whine of the blade.

In order to be successful, Noctis had to not only act with speed, but confidence. As after his transgressions were realized, he needed to take control of the situation and set the pace of the coming battle, something not so easily done three on one, especially with a man such as Taylor, whose words alone had broken Noctis' concentration several times already. Surely the challenge ahead would be monumental.


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When Noctis chose his opportune moment to aggress, everyone in the room was aware of the action. Garrot Taylor, Gil, and Valor saw the movement first, with the slaves marked for death becoming aware only when Noctis was already almost upon his target. Out of all the people in the room, there was only one person without the ability to see the attack coming, and that was Dane himself. Dane, with all the wrong that he was involved in being part of the slave trade, was still naive in how he experienced his relationships with all of his merchandise. The idea that Noctis, his prized fighter who had roamed freely around the estate for years, could betray him wasn't even an option.

Garrot Taylor, Gil, and Valor could see the knife flying through the air, with each and every one of them holding the physical ability to stop it if they chose, but neither of them moving until it was already too late. The knife entered Dane's throat, but it wasn't a perfect kill. The wound was fatal, that was for sure, but Dane wouldn't die until he bled out through the wound. The pain ripped the slave trader out of his trance having been focused on Taylor's words, and the only thing he could see turning in the direction the knife came from were three people entering into a quick exchange.

Gil and Valor had leaped soon after the knife, allowing it to pierce Dane's throat, but reaching the position just as fast as Noctis. Their speed was higher than the slave, but only barely. They reached for his arms before he could put his hands on Dane, attempting to grab him and force him to the floor.

All the while, Garrolt Taylor sat unfazed in his chair. His icy gaze locked on the action, but his facial expression giving off no hint of tangible interest.

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