Smuggler's Relent

Welcome to Veryon City, the capital of crime. I may be known as a liar, but I can say that without boast. Everywhere you turn, there's bound to be someone who seeks to line their pockets with whatever's in yours. If you came here expecting a paradise, then you found one - one made for crime lords. And if you change your mind, heh... Best do it before you even think of visiting. Once you're in, the city keeps you. And it will bend you, much how it bent me. My name is Arcanix and this is my home.

Chapter 1

Born Today, Branded Tomorrow

by: Firreus
2020

Where to start... How about from the very beginning? I was born in the heart of Veryon City, in the middle of all the crossfire between gangs. Why I didn't die there, I don't know. I suppose, I got lucky. I wouldn't dare say that the one who took me in took pity on me because if I know the crime lords, and I do, then they are all heartless men who will not stop to think before taking all you have, even if it's the dust on your clothes or the bugs in your hair.

I don't know who my parents were. I can't even remember their faces. That's how quickly I was abducted. The moment I came out, a group of thugs came in. They forcibly took me from the hands of my mother. She had a gentle touch and a warm feeling to her skin. After that, one of them took me outside the house while my parents... I could only hear the screams. The sounds of shrilling cries, the crashing of furniture, the crackling of embers... I still recall inhaling the smoke. It kept a suffocating grip on me, the richness of the concentration entering my lungs. The memory of that day will never fade.

Don't know where I was taken. Can't recall what happened to me. Unable to think of who or what took me in. Everything after my abduction was a blur. All I know for sure is that I was branded with a strange mark on my left hand. I don't remember receiving it, neither do I have an idea of what it is or what it could mean. That's how mysterious my past is. Throughout my life, I've been searching for links, clues that could lead to me the answers I so desperately crave. But after 17 years, nothing. Not one trace, not a single mystery shed to light. The truth remains hidden in darkness. But maybe it's better that way. Perhaps I'm better off not knowing. But if there's one principle I've come to obey over the years, it's that knowledge is power. And so, I continue to search, even if I am damned to do this until the day I die.

2026

I was young. Around six years of age. Life was brutal, but I shouldn't have expected less. I was taught how to steal things, distract and deceive people, even fighting was a requirement. I don't know how I made it through those years, but somehow, I did. I remember seeing a lot of my blood, usually mixed in with that of others, and having to sleep in the dirt every night - I slept without warmth or protection of any kind. In all the heists I was brought along on, all I felt was fear, the sweat dripping down my forehead. Above that was a cool exterior, my excuse for perspiration in desperation being the hot sun baking me to a crisp. If I showed weakness or if I failed a mission, I would be punished; the whip was often brought out, but the branding iron served as more severe consequences. I was a snotty nosed little brat when that happened. At the time, you could expect a lot of crying. Nowadays, I laugh it off - and with pleasure too. Had none of that happened, I doubt I'd be alive right now.

2033

Jump ahead, start of my teenage years. I was a rebellious young soul, without a care in the world. I had a knack for getting into trouble, but I always got out of it. I couldn't say that I was the best, because there were others far better than me at what we did. Despite that, I was so cocky, so sure of myself that I got reckless. And it was that trait that got me abandoned, expelled, whatever you want to call it. One day, I got challenged by a mate that I couldn't down eight drinks. He offered a pretty generous sum, so naturally, being the carefree spirit I was, how could I refuse? I won alright, I got my money. But also at the time, I held something against the boss, what it was I can't remember. Blame it on my drunken state. So in a foolish act, I strutted straight into his private quarters and proceeded to give him the rant of my life. Apparently, the foulness of my speech was so infuriating to him, he ran me out of there and threatened to kill me if I ever came back.

From that point on, I was on my own. Fortunately, I had made a few friends within the guild, the Faithless Flyers, so that I could always fall back on them if I ran into trouble. And over the course of the next four years, I came into a lot of trouble. Half of the time, they'd come running. The other half... They were all drunk and I was left to fend for myself. Haha, I wouldn't expect less. Anyways, I gained a reputation as a freelance thief, taking whatever job was sent my way.

Typical jobs. Burglary, pickpocketing, forgery, name it. I never excelled in any particular field, wasn't entirely successful, even got hunted down a few times. But hey, I'm here today, right? However, there was always one job which I never seemed to fail. Smuggling. Deal was simple, get paid to deliver something to a client. Often, it wasn't all that simple. Lots of complex processes, which involves manipulating and handling people. I suppose that my social skills were just too good.

April 17 2037
Veryon City
Beggar's Quarter
Streets of Veryon
10:20 AM

Bring us to the present day. My name holds some infamy in Veryon and life is profitable enough. I get by, but there isn't a day where someone isn't in need of my skills. Today, bribery and corruption. Persuade a high-ranking official into doing the underworld favours. It isn't all that hard really. Drop a pouch of money into someone's hand, whisper in their ear and presto. One corrupt representative of the law. If they even stand for it anymore, ha.

As I make my way through the streets, an old woman sitting near a wall and a sign that read "Ams Pleze" started breaking down into tears. I wasn't formally educated in my youth, but I could understand that she was asking for money. The entire city is like an impoverished slum, with certain sweet spots holding fortune, but definitely not fame or glory. I walked past her, but stopped in response to her plea.

"Sir, please, I'm begging you! I haven't eaten in days and..." She breathed in heavily. "I don't want to die! I've lived in this city all my life and every hour of every day, it's been like this! Mercy..." She was wretched. Her teeth were rotten, hair was falling out, skin all wrinkled. I didn't know what to make of her attempt on my heartstrings. Do I simply leave her to rot or help her, despite her doomed fate?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Voting is Closed

A: Give her $5. The loss isn't too severe.
B: Openly mock her for being so senile and pathetic. Self-preservation is the way of life here.
C: Walk away and do nothing. This doesn't concern me.
D: Give her $50. The job'll definitely take longer, but it shouldn't be too much effort to simply pick a few pockets.

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