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Optime | Drifter Bay --> The Waste | Morning | NPC: Foma

Sorry if this is not super stellar! I have a terrible headache, but I needed to get this pushed out today Dx

Grisha’s scent is disguised.

Edit 20220813: Related to this thread.
Another cool breeze raced across the open grasslands, and Grisha gladly welcomed it after the sweltering temperatures of the previous days. It likely helped, too, that the hour was still relatively early, and the sun was still in the midst of climbing its way into the sky. Dew still clung to various bits of undisturbed vegetation, showing distinct trails left behind by traffic that had moved in and around the areas that they passed through. The long, golden grasses themselves softly waved for miles upon miles around them as energetic birds and bugs alike zipped and flew about. Overhead, the sky was in the midst of turning into a pale blue, and had wispy clouds spread thinly across its endless plane.

The change in temperature had made for comfortable travel weather despite it foretelling of an approaching, summer storm. The land sorely needed the rain, and Grisha and his escort would be long out of the area before the storm would pass anyway.

When he’d turned in his latest mapping projects, the Emissary had made a proposal to him, mentioning areas further east of the Kingdom. She’d named a place called La Estrella Roja, and had mentioned a few buildings and ruined structures as well. It was not a part of the realm he had traveled to thus yet, and, when he’d approached her about her commission a second time, he’d hoped that she herself might accompany him as she had before with Mirko.

Kamari was busy with another matter that required her unique expertise though, and, had suggested for the Striker to go with him instead. Her husband was just as familiar with the area as she, and would help Grisha “better understand what it was he was looking at and for,” she’d explained. It was a pity, really, but, not one that Grisha had expressed out of politeness to the Shadow. It was, perhaps, better this way though. Striker Krios Revlis was head of the scouts, and a man in charge of reconnaissance work within the Kingdom. Grisha’s talents and interests aligned perfectly to fall under the command of such an individual.

They’d packed a day pack and ridden out earlier that morning on their horses to help cover the vast distance—as well as to help carry Grisha’s various tools and materials for his work. The Confidant had walked his gelding slightly behind the higher-ranking male’s mare, allowing them to lead but still maintain conversation.

“It seems like this is quite a ways out here this…Roja place,” Grisha commented, finally breaking their long, surveilling silence. There was no one around—not to be seen, not even on the breeze—and, so, he felt it safe to speak with the Striker about their task. “What interest is it to the Kingdom, if I may ask?”


Kamari's suggestion he accompany Argive's most recent ward had not been a terrible surprise considering the man's interests aligned neatly with his own. Though he was not the sort to go out of his way to demonstrate and teach a relative newcomer the things he looked for, the request coming from his wife meant that he was much more likely to do as she asked. Krios was, after all, barely better than an overeager puppy when it came to his wife.

The silence settled comfortably around him but he was used to the quiet of a tracking mission or a patrol. Seduction followed a well-worn game trail without much direction from him as he let his gaze rove and roam the landscape. The muffled sounds of Grisha's horse behind him was the only noticeable reminder that he was accompanied by another person. Even the disguised scent served as another reminder of his presence.

Krios felt at ease; the path was unremarkable and little stood out to cause any sort of alarm. Though he had his bow on him (as per usual), there hadn't been reason to draw it. As such, the venture would be a relatively uneventful trip, he figured, which suited him just fine. The last thing he really wanted was to test the Confidant's mettle in battle.

He turned his head slightly to the side to flick an ear toward Grisha. "The Estrella is a gambling den, whore house, and tavern rolled into one," he began with some amusement making the corners of his mouth twitch upward. "A place where heavy drinking loosens lips and information can flow as freely as ale? Of course it would be of great interest to us." Never mind that the land was old Inferni territory and once the site of war and violence.

"I know we've done scouting trips around here before, especially when Inferni left and the land was free to traverse, but the Estrella is a local hub of information and trade. It behooves us to be aware of what surrounds it." He figured Grisha would have come to his own conclusions about the value of the place, but he figured it was faster this way. "The game paths, the area around the hot springs. It would be good to know."
NPC: Foma

Sorry if the first part comes off as “why the hell did he ask then???” xD I had to backtrack a bit to fit info that Grisha should have known because of it being revealed in the pre-thread (…that I wrote after all this @___@)
The Striker’s version of the mysterious establishment was much more descriptive than the Emissary’s had been. She’d largely glossed over such details, focusing instead on the espionage aspect to be gleaned from it.

Perhaps there had been a reason for it though. His task had been to create a map of the area, after all, not sample the “amenities” that the place had to offer. Gambling, whores, and heavy drinking… Grisha had never had much of anything good to say about such places in his travels. From just the descriptors alone, La Estrella Roja seemed like a dirty, unsavory sort of establishment for a Salsolan to regularly go to. However, he supposed, if the intel was good enough, the place’s patrons would likely be easy targets, and such individuals would be unlikely to suspect a spy in their midst with such distractions readily available.

“I see,” the Confidant answered neutrally, slowly. Somewhere in the back of his mind though, part of him wondered if the high-ranking male had sampled any of the activities to be had at this La Estrella Roja. Did he play the part of a spy too? Did he willingly partake in sins of the flesh an effort to gain intel for the Kingdom? Did Kamari? No. Surely not. She didn’t seem the sort…

A tingle danced uncomfortably across his spine as his thoughts unwittingly went to darker places that they should not have at such a time.

He was easily—and gratefully—distracted from his inner turmoil when Krios continued, mentioning a name that Grisha vaguely remembered seeing on some of the older maps made and in one of the history books made before his arrival in Salsola. Inferni was…a pack that used to be friendly with the Kingdom. Yes, he remembered now, the painted skull in the War Room was from them, now that he recalled.

“I’ll be sure to mark them and anything else you feel important to note. The Emissary made it seem like your expertise and experience with the area would aide in crafting an invaluable and accurate depiction for future use.” The memory was enough to bring him to pause before letting his apple green eyes train on Krios.

“How long have you two known each other?” He asked, curious, before quickly tacking on so as to not make his superior feel the need to be defensive, “If you don’t mind me asking?”


There was only a wall of professionalism when Krios cautiously prodded at Grisha. The man was definitely the right sort of person to fit in with Salsola's more insidious nobles. Grisha would likely be able to climb the ranks with no issues if he was so capable of keeping his head about him with decidedly interesting topics of discussion.

Most other people would likely have expressed greater interest in what the Estrella offered, but the man seemed unmoved in either direction about it. What he really thought was up for debate and Kamari would have been quite pleased about such a display. If the man chose to slip under her wing and become a spy, he would have quite the talent for it.

Krios felt a little annoyed that there was so little reaction to glean, but he was not a spy, he was a scout, he was the Striker. He didn't need to hide his emotions and thoughts to the same level that an undercover Salsolan might have. Grisha may have been wary of the rank disparity, but Krios certainly hoped he would have relaxed a bit more than he had. A pity, since it would have been nice to know the man more.

Grisha's question should have raised a flag, especially after how disinterested the man seemed moments prior. The shift in tone only encouraged the Striker since it seemed like he was finally relaxing, even just a little.

"She's making it sound like I go there all the time," he countered with a laugh. "She's been plenty herself, and the Ladies there have quite the wealth of random goodies for trading that don't involve a private room." Krios had certainly never strayed from his wife, even when she was as cold and distant as an iron statue. Though the two ladies of the night were pretty things, he had only ever wanted them for their gossip (information) and trading goods or non-sexual skills.

And they probably were very talented in their sexual skills.

"But Kamari and I have known each other for a very long time. Since before we were even a year old." He remembered quite fondly how prickly they both were with each other and how it took such a long time for it change. "I'd say she was my first real friend in Salsola." He smiled warmly, unable to contain himself.

They were slowly approaching the Estrella and Krios noted the strange quiet that surrounded the place, even at a distance, that wiped the grin off his face. Despite the time of day, there should have been more to notice. Where was the scent of fresh visitors and the odor of smoke and stale alcohol? It seemed a little faint and that was unusual.

"Something isn't right. Let's skirt to the south a little and see if we smell anything off." He nudged Seduction slightly off the beaten path, her ears flicking back being the only sign of response beyond the change in direction.
NPC: Foma
His attempt to compliment the Striker based off of his wife’s praises seemed to have been interpreted differently than he had intended. Grisha had merely meant that the scout knew the area well, though, it appeared that Krios had saw need to defend himself instead. A guilty mind, perhaps? Particularly when he only sought to mention the establishment’s women in his case? No, perhaps it was just a product of their culture. Salsola was ripe with rumors and other whispers, after all. No doubt, the Striker only meant to set the record straight to ensure nothing was wrongfully spread behind his back.

“The Lady Kaiser made it seem like the place was a treasure trove for intel,” Grisha hummed instead, agreeing with the information Krios had revealed to him regarding the whores. He didn’t want Krios to feel the continued need to defend his own honor. It would have made the rest of their trek rather tedious and uncomfortable.

From there, their conversation moved onto a topic that the Confidant was—guiltily—much more interested in. “You two have known each other since childhood?” He asked, quietly astounded to learn that the Emissary and Striker had known each other for so long. Kamari didn’t speak much on her past in his presence. Most of what he’d learned about her history had come from the mouth of others; like the important fact that she had been betrothed to the man beside him rather than having chosen him out of choice.

“That’s quite a feat,” Grisha remarked neutrally, “Especially in this day and age where the world is constantly in motion.” The Scholar couldn’t recall having many friends his age during his own childhood, much less, being able to claim that he still had contact with any of them. In a static, pack environment though, he supposed it was easier.

With the way Krios smiled when reminiscing about his past with Kamari though, it could have meant a number of things; from a cherished, platonic bond, to something decidedly more. It made Grisha wonder about the complexity of Krios’ relationship with Kamari, and how it had turned out as it was now. From childhood friends to betrothed to married; they were nearly the same age as he, and, yet, they had not a pup between them. They didn’t act overly romantic with one another either, or, at least, not in public, and not in the way Grisha was used to seeing for lovers.

Was their marriage and relationship strictly because of politics, perhaps? Did Kamari actually…lo—!

The Stricker’s demeanor suddenly changed, causing Grisha to quickly sober from his idle thoughts. He needed to stay focused on the mission lest he wished to disappoint the Emissary and make a fool of himself at the same time.

Grisha could only assume that the building in the far distance was their target, and, apparently, something was off about it. With no prior experience with the place, the Confidant had little choice but to trust Krios’ judgement. He steered his gelding to follow the mare’s lead, though, even as they altered their path, his apple green gaze lingered on what was undoubtedly La Estrella Roja.

“What’s considered ‘normal’ for this place?” Grisha asked, keeping his voice down. His ears remained erect and vigilant as his nose twitched to smell anything on the passing wind. His eyes scrutinized the distance and passing scenery, however, alert as he might have been, he had no idea what he was looking for to be wary of.