A Concentrated Effort

Title: A Concentrated Effort
Time Period: April 19, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Beisdean passes on more ominous warnings about the monster attacks to an antagonist of a more human sort.

The afternoon sun casts a warm glow over the marketplace. The hustle and bustle of midday has passed as shadows stretch longer with the sun’s journey to the west; some merchants have sold all of their wares for the day and pack up to go prepare for the next day, while others linger, hoping for some last minute buyers.

Beisdean’s eyes sweep the market, not in search of a particular merchant or product but instead for someone he usually tries to avoid. Not finding the man at first, he looks up to the gray-blue skies above to where Darklight, in raven form, soars somewhere among the clouds assist him in his task.

Not in the marketplace but on the docks, Jain is lifting crates onto one of the vessels. He doesn't notice the raven overhead, the black bird in the midst of a flock of white gulls is out of place. It is noticed by one of the sailors though, who points it out to his fellows. It's a bad omen.

Work slows, at least for them. The militia man, being paid by a different source, continues along at his usual pace.

You're being watched. The whispered warning from his familiar draws the work to a stop and Jain finally peers up at the sky. He isn't familiar with this particular familiar and reaches behind him to pull the revolver from the back of his belt.

Circling back away from the docks, the bird flies away and toward the market. MacCruimein’s at the docks, Darklight’s voice informs Beisdean just before the bird comes back into view in the patch of sky the mage watches. A moment later, the bird drops down to land on the tall young man’s shoulder, feathers turning to fur and black becoming brown and gold in an instant’s time.

It’s not an errand he’s looking forward to, so it takes him quite a while to reach the destination; Beisdean appears to be just strolling for pleasure’s sake, hands in pocket and his pace leisurely. His eyes fall upon the militia man as he approaches, a wariness in them that isn’t present in his languid posture.

Once the raven is out of sight, Jain goes back to work carrying crates and barrels into the ship. This is how Beisdean finds him, strolling down the gang plank to fetch yet another wooden box on its way to who knows where… Jain doesn't.

Beisdean's presence catches the raider off guard and the cargo is nearly dropped on the docks. After a timely recovery, Jain nods once and continues up to the ship at a faster pace that before. He lingers, a little too long, until it becomes obvious that he is actually avoiding the man that he once treated as a victim to whatever hostility suited him at the moment.

Beisdean isn’t there for Jain specifically, and he is all too happy to let the other man ignore him. However, a quick scan of the docks for any other militiamen comes up futile — whatever Jain is doing here, if he’s doing it for the militia, he’s doing it alone.

“MacCruimein,” he calls to the other man, a raise and fall of his chin in a jerky sort of greeting. “Got a minute?”

Be careful, brother, Darklight’s voice intones in Beisdean’s head, though he runs down the man’s back a moment later to charge at a few gulls feasting on a scrap of something he wants to investigate for himself. Whatever it is doesn’t seem too appetizing, because he scurries back toward Beisdean a moment later.

Inside the boat, Jain rolls his eyes up to stare at the planks of the deck above him. A long sigh is let loose and he lifts a hand up to wipe down his face, bringing it to a neutral expression. When he finally climbs on deck, it's not to join the other man on the dock. Rather, he leans against the side of the boat to stare down at the other man. He can't get to him if he's that far away.

"What is it?" He knows he's not making things easy for the other mage but he's far above caring. He's a raider, not a town's guard, therefore he's not paid to be nice to the civilians.

The wind from the water blows cold despite the warming temperatures of spring, and Beisdean’s scarf and hair are both blown offkilter from the breeze. Re-wrapping his scarf and pushing his hair out of his eyes while wishing for a hat, Beisdean peers up at the man on the boat. “It’s about the attacks. It’s nothing too useful, I’m afraid, but Wartooth seemed to think I should’ve told the militia last time, and I didn’t want to wait this time.”

Shouting up at the boat is not Beisdean’s style of doing things, and he shakes his head in a bit of exasperation. “I could tell someone else if you’re busy, I suppose,” he calls. “Just that it seems it’s some sort of … concentrated effort, is the feeling I got.”

"Always the pragmatic one that Wartooth, idn't he?" Jain's voice drifts down to the docks as his head disappears behind the wooden side of the ship. His large hand curls over the edge and a heartbeat later his body is arcing over the side to land heavily on the weathered planks. The soldier keeps a careful distance from the delivery boy, his eyes narrowed with suspicion at the reason for his searching the soldier out.

"And he's probably off guarding some whelp in bear form," is offered finally, nearly dismissive in its delivery. "If you're looking for him, that is, not often he's down here with the sailors."

It’s a subtle thing, the way Darklight places himself a couple of feet in front of Beisdean, looking like he’s examining a scrap of something on the dock. Beisdean himself hangs back, not moving forward to continue the conversation — this much closer, at least he doesn’t have to yell into the wind.

“I wasn’t looking for him. Last time, he seemed to think I should have told the militia immediately, so here I am.” You know. Telling the militia. Or at least Jain.

His eyes veer off to watch the water, rather than Jain’s face. “You know what I can see. Who I can talk to,” he begins. “Some lass from down in England, she’s been following me around and seems interested in our troubles, likening them to her own. Earlier today, she asked if ‘they’ had ‘taken’ anyone yet, and called what happened in her town a creature ‘upheaval’ or something to that effect. She’s dead, you know, so she doesn’t know the details, but…”

Beisdean shivers as his eyes return to Jain’s face; the worry on his own is plain in the furrows and lines. “It feels planned, the way she worded it. Or at least not coincidental, all these things happening at once.”

Darklight is eyed with suspicion before Jain reaches behind him to pull the revolver from his belt. The barrel is flipped out to check for bullets before being spun back into place and aimed. A look to Beisdean, coupled with a smile, spells out that the soldier knows what would happen if he pulled the trigger. “Tell him to be on his way and no harm’ll come to no one.” Least of all Jain, which is who he’s worried about in the first place.

Soon, he’s focusing on the rest of the other mage’s story. Gun still pointed down at the dock between them, he stares impassively at Beisdean for a long moment after the tale is done. “Tell her, they haven’t, not to my knowledge.” Not that he might pay attention if they did… unless it was someone who owed him a particular sum. A few steps backward in retreat has Jain near the edge where plank meets ground, a ready escape for the more warlike of the two.

“I have to wonder, Skye, why it is that you came to me of all people with this? Hoping to keep yourself out of trouble and above suspicion?”

Tch, is what Darklight says to the gun, hackles rising as he glares at Jain, and Beisdean’s brows furrow as he takes a step back, then glances at the marten and back to Jain.

“Jesus, MacCruimein, what are you playing at?” the younger man hisses, but he gives a nod to Darklight. Just fly where he can’t see you. There’s nothing you could do if he chooses to shoot. May as well make him less nervous.

The marten turns toward the water to launch into flight, wings blooming where front legs were first, white and grey feathers where there was dark fur. In a second’s passage, the familiar becomes a sea gull to soar off into the distance.

“You’re the first member of the militia I’ve found today. There’s no ulterior motive, but aye, I’d appreciate not being suspected for any of this,” Beisdean says, looking to the sky to make sure Darklight’s far off and out of harm’s way, before nodding back to Jain. “I’ve been hurt, my familiar’s been hurt. I’ve a stake in seeing an end to it, haven’t I? I don’t see my luck improving with time in this town, and next attack could be my undoing, at the rate I’m going.”

The revolver is spun around a finger before being tucked back where it came from, still within easy reach should the other man decide to betray what little trust is between them. “I’m keeping the odds stacked in my favor, Skye,” Jain explains calmly, “I’d hate for your familiar to turn into something large and angry— “ like his own “— and try to run me down. Or perhaps he’d take the shape of a serpent and poison me, anything is possible.”

As far as the soldier is concerned, Beisdean is dangerous enough. “As for your involvement in all of this, it’s rather convenient that you’ve been present for some of the attacks. You won’t be discounted as a suspect, you are magic after all. Maybe those things you talk to do your bidding and incite all the monsters of the area to anger. I’m sure it’s a theory that Rowntree’s considering.”

Narrowing his eyes, the younger man shakes his head. “Darklight’s hardly violent. Nor am I. Unless provoked.”

The rest of Jain’s words deepen the scowl. “Aye, and so have you. So have others. And that is not at all how my magic works. I try not to talk to the spirits more than I have to. This is the first time I’ve deliberately tried to gather information from any of them in years.” Other times, they just share much too much information, as was the case in Jain’s Sarah, but he doesn’t bring that up.

After all, Jain has a gun.

One hand lifts to give a vague gesture, palm turned up toward the militia man. “I figured I’d pass on the warning, in case it helps, not that it’s much to go on. I can try to get the girl back with more specific questions if Rowntree or someone decides they need more information, but…” Beisdean shrugs and looks away, “it’s not something I like to do. And it may not work. It’s not that simple.”

“Do that, your well being may depend on it.” Jain’s advice regarding calling the ghost is fairly short and simple, along with his company. Deciding that the ‘visit’ is over, he turns on his heel and walks back up the gangplank to the ship. Probably just because it’s easier to ignore him when there’s an entire ship’s wall in the way. At the very least, it puts Beisdean out of sight and therefore mostly out of mind.

Should I find his familiar? The shrew whispers in his mind as it crawls up to the collar of his shirt and peeks its head out. We haven’t completely discounted him as a suspect, I might be able to squeeze a bit more information.

“No,” Jain’s tone is just as soft, even if spoken aloud, “we’ll let someone else deal with the beasts. If this town is overrun and destroyed, we’ll go on to the next.” He doesn’t seem disturbed by the thought, even though he’s settled in quite nicely and does fairly well for just a soldier.

“Right,” Beisdean murmurs as the other man turns and walks away. His eyes lift to scan the sky for his familiar, not knowing that Darklight is the topic of conversation between the shrew and the militia man.

“Let me know a list of questions you’d like, or send someone else to help query her; I’m no investigator and would hate to leave out something important,” the medium says a bit dryly to the retreating man’s back before turning to leave the docks.

Done. Watch my back for me? he sends to the bird above, counting on Darklight to warn him should that gun be pointed in his direction again.

Always, comes the reply — the bird is not visible, staying out of sight, but close, keeping guard as Beisdean heads back toward the market, his errand complete.