Delivery Fee

Title: Delivery Fee
Time Period: July 30, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Torra is charged a protection fee for making a simple delivery.

The back alleyways of the poorer parts of Dornie settlement aren't the prettiest of places, generally. Aisles filled with the sludge of pails, gathered from bedrooms overnight, finds its way to the paths here, after being thrown from a side window. Ratty plastic bins that have survived an era long past are filled to overflowing with refuse and changed only when the smell gets bad enough that people in the street begin to complain. No one really travels through them unless they have no choice.

Sometimes though, they're oh so handy to get from one place to another.

From one courier to another, it's rather odd for a valuable package to be dropped off in the rookery but the man who hired Torra had strict instructions that are a bit difficult to follow. First, he wanted his package hidden from sight. Being about the size of the average baby, the soft but heavy packet is a little unwieldy to try to make inconspicuous. Second, get it there before sunset. The sun is already low on the horizon. Third, the destination is in the rookery and the rookery is not the sort of place for a young girl after dark. Bad things happen.

She's almost home free, last alleyway to cut through before she can run home.

Scottish-born and Dornie-raised Torra Laing is not unfamiliar with the rule of thumb when a young woman even if in a professional role. You do not traverse where the trouble is liable to happen around dark, but there are just some jobs that you do not pass up if the money is right. In this case, it was more than acceptable for the risk. And, on most days, she would be stealthy enough to pull it off, but even still: you still do not press your luck. As such, she is hurrying with her shoulders hunched, muttering something—Gaelic—under her breath.

The way in front of Torra suddenly grows quite dark as the mouth of the alley finds itself host to a very large man. Behind her, a garbage pail is spilled over with a clunk and a rattle, the refuse inside crawling with maggots and rats (both dead and alive). She's alerted to the men that committed the senseless act of vandalism by their voices as they banter back and forth about her.

"She's quite ripe, eh? Look'it that ass, meant for squeazin' like ripe melons."

"Turn 'round lovey, show us some tits."

"I'm goin'teh make you scream my name 'til morn…"

The banter is bounced between them as they approach her from the rear. Neither man is the prettiest of sorts. Scraggly hair and beards, blackened teeth (the ones left after rot), and hands so sullied that no amount of washing could ever get them clean again. They might be factory workers, they might just be unemployed, or worst of all… they might be the men she'd call to for help.

Eyes first drawn to the pail behind her as she spins around from the noise, then to the local thugs (or worse), Torra is of course immediately looking for her exit. "Ah guid, just what I…" she stammers out, already eyeballing anything within range that can be used to scrap eyes out. There is nothing, and so she simply relies on her feet to jolt in the direction of what she thinks might give her a foothold to clamber over a fence blocking a side of an open section of the alley. Problem is, most things are falling apart—and her damn foot snaps a part even before she gets too far. "Shite!"

The most imposing of the three men, the one that appeared ahead of her leans against a nearby wall, not moving from the mouth of the alley. The other two are like hungry dogs on a piece of meat when they see Torra trying to escape. Breaking into a run themselves, they are quick to catch up with her and each grab a hold of one of her arms. Wrestling the poor girl between themselves, they don't take much notice when the package she was delivering drops onto the smelly cobblestone and breaks apart revealing a mess of tightly packed leaves. Narcotics.

"Let'er go, I saw 'er first, I get'er first." The first man growls, yanking Torra toward him. His breath smells strongly of tobacco and spirits, the rest of him smells like he hasn't had a bath in nearly a month.

Instantly, she's pulled back toward the other in a wrenching movement that causes her to fall against his chest, his free arm gropes at her back, trying to reach for parts she might want to keep clean. "I'll have her first, then you can keep her the rest of the night. All's I want is a taste o' the sweet."

The man watching it all doesn't seem to be in any hurry to help Torra, in fact, it's the opposite. Pushing himself off the wall, he saunters toward her, his swagger suggesting he might be one of the men she should call to for help. If he was any sort of charitable soul, he might have already stepped in, which suggests the he's not.

It only takes him a few strides to reach the trio, where he kicks the package out from the vicinity of Torra's feet and stoops to pick it up. "What do have we here…" His mere presence gives the two men holding onto the female trophy a moment of pause, but they don't let her go.

Somewhere, there is a mage familiar she should have brought with her on the run. With any luck, it'll come find her—

"Git your grubby hands offa me," spits out the young blonde in a mixture of alarm and anger. "I swear, I'll kick them out!" she promises with all the ardor she can muster, but it ends in a muffled (but equally vengeful) 'errf!' as she gets a face full of stinky clothing fabric. Torra does not notice the other man at first, but does after she pulls away enough that she can see two things:

The bag. The other person.

Seeing what the package held is a shock, not that this would be apparent with her eyes already widened. She sucks in air (lungs deprived of it mere seconds ago) and grunts, "You can have it! It's…"

Her gaze falls. To uniform boots.

She ceases struggling for an instant, her expression replaced with one of faint hope, and blurts, "It's nae mine! Please, do somethin'!"

Jain glances at the woman in front of him with a combination of disinterest and calm. He's not worried about the two men holding onto her, it's something of a lucky strike for him. Slowly, the package is unpacked and a portion taken and placed into various pockets around his person and a bit tucked inside his boots. When nearly half is gone, he wraps it back up and drops it back on the ground in front of Torra.

She can feel the grip on both of her arms tighten. From the vibration in one of her arms, her first attacker the one who was offered the entire night, seems to be afraid of the soldier in front of them. The other man is more stable and slips his free hand down over her buttocks to take advantage of the lull in conversation.

The militia man's eyes dart to his arm first and there's a twitch upward of one of his eyebrows. Now he seems interested in what's happening in front of him. "You can let'er go lads and run along back to your wives or dogs, what have you." He says, gruff and unkind. His hand reaches out to grab Torra by the front of her shirt and once again she is yanked in a direction. This time it's toward Jain, not to collide with, but swing around behind him.

Torra goes from hopeful to frowning in the moment he starts to pocket the narcotics. The color drains from her face even as the chance of assistance becomes even more unlikely. She glares once behind her, but it's less assured of anything before the command is issued to let her go, and then it's a disbelieving stare that returns to Jain. Just before she is pulling forward again, but this time managed not to get shoved into smelly shirt and instead is pushed behind. Away from the damnable cretins, however unexpected it was seconds earlier. She does not reach down to take the package wrapped up again, and regards her former captors with a temporary look of relief before, in an act of obvious mistrust for the situation yet, crouches to pick up something from the ground. A stick. In case she still needs it.

For the first few moment when they find themselves without a prize, the two men just stand dumbfounded. Then, as the events sink in, one frowns and balls his hands into fists. The other seems a bit uncertain as to what to do and takes a step or two backward. It's a liquid movement that sees Jain's shoulders rolling back before one of his hands also tightens. In contrast, he's got a grin on his face. The hand not readied raises and he flicks two fingers toward himself, inviting him to step forward.

In Dornie, Jain MacCruimein is known for quite a few things. The dirt under his fingernails, his presence at the Dovetail, his notable absence from the same establishment, and his prowess when it comes to bare knuckle fighting. In this spirit, the man so quick to frown at the loss of a woman falters, then he turns to flee.

Jain lets them both go before turning toward Torra— and her stick. "You won't be needing that lass, I'll take yeh to where you need and then back to wherever it is you lay your head."

Torra now has her tool to scrap with, and if anyone so much as touches her again, they may yet have that eye poked out. Her body language says as much. Still, she gives him the courtesy of lowering it slightly. "Ay…?" she asks almost doubtfully. After all, while he did save her, there is much to be said still for the manner and delivery of said rescue. "So yer militia?" she asks, adding, "I got friends there, somewhat. I'll know if yer lyin'." She hesitates to move until receiving confirmation.

Green irises flick toward the stick and the grin leftover from the two thugs turns crooked with amusement. "Aye, I'm militia— Jain MacCruimein," his hand relaxes and he holds it out in a small effort to walk the civilized course. If she does know anyone in the militia, she'd know that it's not a path he often walks. "And if you've any friends in Dornie, then you might've heard my name." Whether in good or bad capacity, he doesn't go into detail.

He doesn't wait for a shake, instead he reaches out and grips her by the hand at the same time stooping to scoop up the remains of the package. It's tossed to her as soon as they exit the alley and get onto the street. "Lead on," he says in a jovial tone as he lets loose her wrist, "I'll wait in the street as you make your delivery. If they ask why it's so light, tell'em I'm waitin' outside."

Torra studies him at the name as if trying to remember if she has heard it before. She fails in this, and she mumbles in simple response, "Alright." Even if she isn't familiar with him, does she want to run the risk of running into her two 'friends' again sans the company? No. Even with the stick, which she reasons to put down on the ground if only to free up her hand to take the package she still must deliver to collect after all her trouble. The jerk of her arm, and pulling her out onto the street again, makes her lose it. But being back on the street and with the prospect of finishing the damnable job, she relents. One is less trouble to handle than two anyhow. "Ay… okay, thanks, I guess." She'll wait. If he tries anything, then she'll know to kick his parts and hightail it in the much more open space.

The tenement house addressed on the package seems about as clean as the alley from where they made their exit. As promised, Jain waits outside for Torra to enter and make the delivery. As predicted, there is some fuss made about the state of the package. Until a flick of window covering reveals Jain across the street, offering a waggle of fingers. Then Torra receives the full payment promised, a few slabs of meat wrapped in brown packaging. It's enough to feed a family of eight if kept fresh, which (judging from the smell) it hasn't been. Right now, it's barely fit for the dogs.

As she exits the building again, richer only by a lump of rotting meat under her arm, the militia man falls into step just behind her. It's a position many of them take when guarding local folk, this much she knows.

The wealth of a meal is removed from the crook of her arm. The blonde is not as thrilled as she might have been otherwise; so much for the acceptable fee. "Guid god, the last I deal with trade," she avows before stealing an obvious glance behind her. "So yeh know, the walk isn't far. I go to the lower houses an' you don't have to go much farther than you want."

By this point, she is less on her guard, but not exactly one hundred percent sure still she shouldn't be. "They gave me this. Sairy, I'd offer some, but it's bad, and memory serving, ye already helped yourself to some of what they wanted, anyhow."

He might not be paying attention to her talking. A few seconds after she stops, Jain turns his head to give her a sidelong glance, "Hmm? Oh.. Aye… 'round these parts we call it a delivery fee. I delivered you safely from the hands of two savage looking men and then back to the safety of your own comfortable home." Which might be the reason why he's so insistent on following her until she's indoors.

The package of meat receives a wrinkle of his nose, he doesn't have to be close to smell that something about it is a bit off. "I wouldn't feed that to a rat," he spits with a grimace, promptly turning his head back toward the direction they're walking. "It's a wonder why you e'en bothered takin' such a job in the first place. If I were a pretty young thing like yourself, I'd stay far away from the rookery."

She leaves him to his following, but is, quite plainly, in a talking mood now. Her normal mood. "I normally do," she says. "Still, man offers you a meal like that, and good quality no less, I guess sometimes you just figure it will be a good run. He did offer it decent before." There was just no mention of it being fresh. She grimaces. "I should've known! He seemed such a little liar dropping by all of a sudden. Next time, trust the gut." This is more said to herself before she continues walking.

She sighs and does ditch the meat after a moment without stopping. Better not to carry any longer. Better left to the garbage.

"Delivery fee," she repeats under her breath. "So had I not had that, would ye still have stepped in, sir?" she asks. "Are ye a hero or nae?" she asks then, and it's blunt, but she's nearing her home, and for whatever reason, feels it's something she can confidently ask now. "What shall I tell folks?"

He doesn't say anything until they pause at her door. Then, it's a shrug of indifference. "Tell 'em what you want, lass," the gentle tone isn't like the careless one before. Then again, he's not looking at her like he did before either. In her neighbourhood, he seems to take on a completely different personality. A nice(ish) one.

Instead of leading her to the door by the hand or saying anything else that might be construed as suggestive, he turns on his heel and begins to walk away. No goodbye.

He is watched with speculation. Torra reaches for the doorknob, and is already forming the summons for her furry companion, to recap what was missed, and probably speak on the encounter with her family later. Chances are she'll wonder more later, but for now she simply calls after, "Guid evenin' then."

And what she'll tell? She'll figure that out later, too.