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DCH/Mab - The Clock is Ticking

 
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Mr. Howe
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:19 pm    Post subject: DCH/Mab - The Clock is Ticking Reply with quote

Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.
Louis L'Amour


Part I

Over his years in Rhy’Din Howe has developed a love-hate relationship with Dickie’s Dirk and Dagger, one of the town’s lesser drinking establishments located on the seedier side of the Dockside. The place attracts a distinct crowd, well, distinct one might say for the typical Rhy’Dinite. It caters to the lowest denominator of the city: thugs, hoodlums, and ruffians. It lacks charm, genteel décor and personal safety (most of Dickie’s customers would rather kill you than look at you). Indeed, it is more closely associated to a hole in the wall than any proper pub would care to be. Dark interior, no windows, beat-up tables and chairs, and if it’s dirty, one can’t tell in the bad lighting. About the only nice things are the barstools which were purchased within the last twenty years and the bar itself, hardwood polished over years of use to a rich burgundy grain. It is the epitome of a dive, a dump, and for any unwary, or untutored wanderer a seriously dangerous place. For Howe it offers the one thing that Rhy’Din is short on: Privacy.

None of the powers-that-be from the township bothers bugging Dickie’s. Hell, he doubts they even know it exists. Most of the people who frequent the dive would never cross the threshold of the Red Dragon Inn, where the more prominent of the powerful tend to congregate. Howe may not like the atmosphere of Dickie’s (as he prefers more cultured environments personally,) but it suits his other, more pressing needs well enough for him to overlook that one picky preference.

Howe stands a few feet from the entrance of the dive, nevertheless managing to lurk in shadow. He’s arrived early and has time to spare. He may as well finish his expensive, if smelly, cigar. His good mood is written all over him, from the hold of his burly body to the self-satisfied smirk on thin, cruel lips. Lately, everything has been eerily quiet, the other camps seem to have gone into some kind of hibernation and he’s had free roam of Rhy’Din for the last few months. Even his partners have been scarce. His plans are flowing flawlessly and he sees his own triumph dead ahead. Yes, Howe is in a grand mood and doesn’t mind letting it show. Besides, who would be there that would care anyway, he’s at Dickie’s. The home of reprobates, rejects and criminals, no good Rhy’Din citizen would be caught dead here!

Howe pulls in the foul smoke of the expensive cigar, letting it roll over his tongue before releasing it ever so slowly. My, but he does enjoy his cigars. He should, they cost him a small fortune. Truth told he also likes how offensive they are. Beady eyes gleam in the ember light as he takes another pull. He set his plans in motion months back and yet nary a soul has paid him heed. It tickles him at how easily his vile deeds pass unnoticed in a town such as this. Sure, the powerful people lament how they want only goodness for the townsfolk, but if they never see the townsfolk what good could they possibly be doing for them? Hell, he’s been packing off batches of the brats and bitches for four months and no one, not even a concerned friend, has inquired after a single one! That says a lot about the widows and orphans of Rhy’Din; he should have come up with his plan years ago! They are unwanted, unseen, and when gone not missed, the perfect commodities really.

Yet, what has surprised him is the distinct lack of interest from those he seeks to destroy. A smart tactician would at least have him watched. Hell, he’s got tails on all of them… when his men can find ‘em that is! Slippery, illusive eels the lot of them! The least they could do is return the favor. No, instead it seems they have all vanished from the realm, off chasing whatever pipe dreams have caught their attentions this week. They are all so freaking fickle. But not Howe, he is distinctly driven and hence he knows he will win. That brightens the smirk to a downright grin of glee on thin, cruel lips. Yes, soon, soon they will all understand the magnitude of his abilities. And boyo, will they be eating crow!

Howe tosses the butt of his cigar, (still smoldering), into the alleyway. If the entirety of the Dockside burns down, one less marker on the map works for his purposes, he grins at the thought. Rhy’Din’s rustic firehouse is more than laughable, nearly as ineffective as Rhy’Din’s Watch. Alas, he knows that one cigar butt isn’t going to make that happen, but maybe a more effective plan might? Howe files that idea away for another night as he steps inside the smoky haze of Dickie’s Dirk and Dagger.

To be continued...
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Mr. Howe
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Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:31 pm    Post subject: DCH/Mab - The Clock is Ticking Part II Reply with quote

Part II

Dickie’s Dirk and Dagger is owned by a short Jamaican fellow named Dickie. Dickie’s age is indeterminate; he appears older than Moses, with silvered dreads and yellowing teeth, but he’s looked the same for many long years. He has a kind face, an easy smile and a heavy Jamaican accent. However, it’s his eyes that grab one’s attention; they are the warmest brown eyes you’ve ever seen. They fairly invite you to share your tales with him, and Dickie always loves a good story or three. But as with all things in Rhy’Din, appearances can be deceiving. Dickie has a bad reputation; he’s known for having one hell of a temper. It is an unspoken rule amongst his customers that it’s best not to cross Dickie. Or, as rumors go, that kind, sensitive visage is likely to turn ugly and gobble you right up! A few have even claimed to have witnessed the transformation first hand, they’ve lamented on the horror of it all. Howe has never seen Dickie in any other mood than happy-go-lucky, but then he’s never felt compelled to push the man either. What Howe does know is that Dickie isn’t what meets the eye; there is a lot more going on there. So, unless he has a reason and wants a fight, Howe isn’t going to get caught looking too close.

As Howe steps inside, the first thing he bothers to notice is that Physhra Pink, that nosy bitch of an actress-***-reporter isn’t at her typical spot at the bar. She must have found somewhere else to get tanked tonight which suits him splendidly. No need to have her nosing around in his current business ventures even if she is a drunk. He ignores the other customers for they hold no interest for him, instead he moves to the bar; placing a beefy hand grudgingly on the sticky surface before starting an impatient drum of fingers. Surprisingly, it is Dickie who answers the call.

“Mister Howe! So good to be seein’ ya, mon! Been too long. You be wantin’ da key to the backroom.” The key slides over the bar towards him. “Drinkin’ t’night?”

“Dickie. Good to see you too, sir, and no. I won’t be drinking tonight, but my company may. Put it on my tab, would ya?” They seem like two regular Joes, monsters hidden in plain sight really. Howe smiles his most friendly, it somehow never reaches those beady eyes. He takes up the key Dickie slipped him.

“It be empty mon, ‘cept for da’ rats.” Dickie laughs.

“Ah? Yes, you still haven’t dealt with that rodent problem, sir? You know, with my connections I could help you with that…”

“Oh, no, mon. Live and let live is my motto d’ese days. But if d’ey annoy you too much, I’m ok with ya handlin’ it fer yourself.”

“Why…” Howe feels the tug of his own temper. He pays the man good money for use of that dusty, unkempt, rat-infested, hole of a backroom. Is it asking too much for it to be pest free?! Live and let live my ass, Howe seethes silently. Outwardly he retains that oh-so-friendly veneer. “Thank you Dickie. I think it is quite kind of you to give me such freedoms in your ever so lively establishment.” Howe manages not to sound sarcastic, which is a boon for him really.

Dickie smiles and waves him on. “You have a fine night t’night, Mister Howe!” Whether he is aware of the undercurrents or not, Howe can’t tell. Obviously there will be no bonding of the monsters any time soon. Howe would really like it if just once Dickie would play some part of his hand so that Howe could begin to puzzle him out. In the meantime, Howe will keep things light. No need to make an enemy; until you know how to take them out.

He moves through the bar to the backroom, using the key to unlock the flimsy door. It isn’t much of a door really, more like a board on hinges with a knob that doesn’t turn. Howe eyes the room suspiciously and finds signs of recent rodent activity. He silently moans in disgust. He doesn’t hate rats, but there is no fondness for them either. He makes plenty of noise as he moves towards one of the four chairs in the room. Howe picks for himself the sturdiest of course and leaves the others for his company to choose from. If someone is going to fall on their asses tonight because of Dickie’s chairs, it isn’t going to be Howe! He hopes.

Tonight he has three meetings and he needs to be careful they don’t overlap. Tristan J Thomas, who insists on being called ‘TJ’, has to be treated with kid gloves. The guy is hungry, for money, for power. But he’s not the kind of guy who would willingly go along with Howe’s current tactics, at least not without some kind of compensation, some kind of incentive. Money and souls will make for a perfect barter. Howe plans to use TJ and his crew to influence the populace.

Propaganda, gotta love it!

TJ and his crew run their business on the streets. All Howe has to do is convince TJ to exchange the malfunctioning weapons for ones that work; all the while making sure they inform the people where the bad merchandise is coming from. Yes, it will be quite the coup and neither the Bloods nor DeMuer will see it coming.

Of course, Howe knows who’s really behind the bad merchandise hitting the town and he has no intention of sharing. Best if he keeps that information to himself. The less they know the better for Howe.

His second meeting is with a new slaver organization: another off-world group. Rumor has it they are willing to pay top dollar for the merchandise Howe currently specializes in. If the price is high enough, Howe may even consider undercutting his current clients. Howe can’t keep the grin from moving over thin, cruel lips. In his circles money can equal power if you know who you’re dealing with. He could buy a lot of power for the coin this group may be willing to pour in to his pockets.

Undercutting his other clients might be a bit tricky but Howe isn’t really concerned. If he makes a few enemies, what of it?! As long as he meets his goals, he’s in the black. He’ll nurture the ones that can aid him the most in his ambitions. But dead weight is simply a pocketbook liner until something better comes a long. Howe considers most of his current clients the latter: the money’s good, but he can’t count on them when the *** hits the fan. If he’s to build an arsenal worthy of taking down his nemesis’ he’s going to need a lot more clout. This new group may well be the means to that end.

His third meeting needed privacy for far more nefarious of reasons. Howe likes to keep his aces up his sleeves. No need to show one’s hand until its time to collect the pot. Those that work the closest with him are the ones he keeps in the darkest shadows. Mister Babbles is one such as this; a mystery meant to be kept. The information Mr. Babbles has collected already has proven invaluable, Howe is looking forward to finding out what else his minion has learned. But keeping this secret is imperative as Mr. Babbles can go where Mr. Howe cannot.

Howe extracts an expensive cigar from his suit jacket while glancing at his wristwatch. He’s got a few minutes more before TJ is to arrive. His movement is automatic in his preparation of the cigar; snipping off one end, while placing the other to his mouth. Clenching his teeth to hold the stogy in place he uses the tip of one finger to light it. (No one here to witness the feat, why not use what comes natural?) He takes in a mouthful of the smelly smoke, letting it roll over his tongue and nearly chokes when a voice from out of nowhere fills the small, dingy room.

“Mister Howe” it hisses in a low, cold, genderless whisper. “My Mistress has sent me.” The words hold an ominous note.

To be continued...
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:25 pm    Post subject: DCH/Mab - The Clock is Ticking Part III Reply with quote

Part III

When Howe decided to take this current path, he knew from the onset that the odds were stacked against him. He, as well as his partners, Cheetham and Dewey, had been left nearly powerless after DeMuer destroyed their soul reservoir and Corwyn severed their unholy triumvirate. If Howe were to win this game he would need to extend his resources. He would have to go beyond what his kind would typically consider wise. Howe, being the inventive mind that he is, carefully chose potential allies with the hope of exploiting their own needs and desires against them.

Mab had been easy. He understood her drive for vengeance; he knows how to feed that monster and how to twist it to his profit. But Mab wasn’t the only god he’d been busy courting. Nor is she the only one he’s made a deal or two with.

Primordial Gods and Goddesses may not hold the influence (or level of power) they once did. That doesn’t mean they are weaklings by any stretch of the imagination. They are plenty powerful even without the hordes of worshipers. They can prove more than a little useful to his endeavors. He also suspects they will be easy to manipulate given one has the right bait. Who would be more desperate than a fading god relegated to mythos? Wouldn’t they just jump at the chance to gain recognition, or rather any attention that will give them a glimmer of their past glory?

Yes, very exploitable indeed!

The darker the god or goddess added appeal for Mr. Howe. The dark gods are less inclined towards strict moral codes or hero complexes. They are less likely to want to hinder him in his goals especially if he can link his success to their benefits. It hadn’t been easy to sniff them out but Howe’s persistence won him the honor of introductions. His words bought him opportunities. He’s been feeling smug about his successes for weeks… that is until tonight.

Howe is not a fan of unexpected intrusions! Gods or otherwise!

“Go on home, child, and tell your mistress to make a goddamn appointment! I’m a busy fellow and you are an uninvited interruption!” he snaps at the disembodied voice. “Be gone before my proper appointment arrives.”

“Mr. Howe…” The voice is a hiss of sound surrounding him. “My Mistress could masticate you like a cow does its grass for eons. I suggest we get down to business to avoid any further disruptions to your schedule.”

From out of the shadows in front of Howe a figure sheathed in a black robe glides. It pauses before the dirty little table, ignoring the rickety chairs as eyes the color of fresh blood gleam at Howe with an unearthly light of their own. Not demon, but something else entirely. The kind of creature Howe would typically have avoided.

“Rumor has reached our ears that you have been approached by C.O.P.E. My Mistress’ hunger is insatiable and she wishes to double her current standing order. She has authorized me to triple the fee we pay as well. There is no reason for you to deal with C.O.P.E. as we shall offer you more.”

Howe stares at the figure with the hissing voice coldly. It was only a matter of time before his dealings reached the ears of the unsavory company he’s been nurturing. However, it disturbs him how quickly this particular information has leaked.

The C.O.P.E. or the Consortium of Pure Essence is a company from an alternate dimension Earth. There are plenty of dark rumors surrounding the corporation, but no hard evidence. Fact is, they have grown quite powerful over multiple dimensions in a relatively short amount of time and have been busy cultivating a fanatical following. Howe would be a fool to turn his back on such an up-and-coming powerhouse. Not only do they have money to burn for the product he offers, but from all he could discern they are human. Easy for him to control or destroy. As if that weren’t enough, as lagniappe they have offered to give him the might he needs to gain his victory over Rhy’Din - an army, so to speak.

The way he sees it, two birds in his grubby fist are better than a bunch in the damn bush.

Thin, cruel lips twist into a semblance of a smile. “Who I do business with is for me to decide. Tell your Mistress to go *** herself. If C.O.P.E. is such a threat to her, why doesn’t she masticate them rather than threaten me?” He can’t help the smirk that twitches across thin lips. Howe believes he holds the upper hand here. He’s got what she wants; he’s in control. “Look, li'l lady,” Not that the figure before him has proven to be either male or female; Howe simply assigns a gender on his own. “I don’t much care where the merchandise goes, as long as my pocketbook is being lined. Your mistress or C.O.P.E.?” Howe shrugs as he draws off his cigar. He blows the foul smelling smoke in the direction of the figure’s face before continuing. “I don’t rightly care which as long as I get what I need outta the bargain. Capich?”

“Yes, Mr. Howe, we understand.” No outward indication of anger at his overt disrespect. Howe doesn’t seem to notice, he’s too caught up in his own self-importance. “My Mistress is willing to negotiate. We will at least match whatever offer C.O.P.E. is willing to make. Will that satisfy?”

“Hmmm.” Howe pretends to contemplate the offer. He has every intention of using them both and giving up nothing. “We’ll have to see what they are willing to put on the table… I make no promises.”

“Will you double our current standing order?”

“I have a limited supply, li'l lady. Very limited. There are only so many orphans and widows in Rhy’Din, after all.”

“Will you double our order, Mr. Howe, or not?” A hint of impatience slips into the hissing voice.

Howe shrugs again, oh-so-nonchalantly. “Look, let me be frank with ya, li'l lady. I don’t care who takes the brats and bitches off my hands. But my supply is limited. Now… if your Mistress really wants more, then she needs to help me take over this backwoods, piece of *** town. Then she can have as much of the cattle as she wants. Let me know if we’ve got a deal. Now, if you would please excuse me? My first appointment of the evening should be here any second!” He waves his hand at her dismissively.

“You’re right; your youngling is approaching the door now. Best be careful, Mr. Howe. My Mistress will be watching.” The figure faded as it had arrived, back into the shadows, just as a sharp rapping comes at the board that serves as a door.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: DCH/Mab - The Clock is Ticking Part IV Reply with quote

Part IV

Hours later…

Howe slides the key over the bar towards Dickie. His typical scowl has been replaced by a merry smile. Something about that smile would bring a shiver to the hearts of most humans: there is evil in the twist of those lips and in the twinkle of those eyes. Dickie grants Howe a crooked grin.

“Ehh, mon, you got the look of da cat dat ate da canary.” Dickie teases.

“It was a productive night, sir.” Howe fairly crows as he lays a hefty tip to the bar before tucking his wallet back into the inner sanctum of his expensive suit jacket. “Thanks for the use of your backroom. Maybe next time you’ll have in an exterminator? Happy to send one of my men over to take care of that for you…”

“Naw, mon, it’s cool. I don’t mind da rats an’ dey don’t seem to mind me.” Dickie laughs jovially. “Ya be havin’ a good night, Mr. Howe.” Dickie waves before turning back to the chore of tending to his other customers.

Howe’s mood couldn’t be better. He doesn’t want to go home yet. No, he would rather enjoy his high for a little bit longer. Beady eyes dart over the patrons gathered tonight at Dickie’s. The place had filled up since he’d been closeted in the backroom. Still… Not a single one of interest to him, not even Physhra Pink the annoying reporter bitch. He’s going to have to look elsewhere for entertainment and where better than the Red Dragon Inn, where the powerful people like to play? They never seem to disappoint in their moral outrage. He simply basks in all that tasty energy! Yes, to the inn he is bound. It will be the perfect cap off for the perfect evening thus far.

Howe adjusts his suit, buttoning up his jacket against the cold outside, (merely for show as nothing could be colder than Howe’s own heart). His smile never falters as he pulls his cane out of thin air. Placing the tip to the ground he jauntily tap-tap-taps his way to the exit, humming a tune under his breath his mood so high. Howe doesn’t notice the funny-looking man at the bar whose large eyes have been following him since he’d come out of the backroom. Nor does he see the hulking silhouette lingering in the dark alleyway across the street from Dickie’s as he steps outside. For someone who prides themselves on being astute, Howe is oblivious to the many eyes following him.

Far, far, far from the end…
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