|Series||Crossfire by Pixichi|
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Reaver watched as the last of his party guests left the mansion, sipping contentedly from his glass of wine. While most of his lovely party goers had decided to leave, a handful had decided to stay the night, and it was a sleepover that Reaver was very much looking forward to. How he wished that Connie hadn't been so disliking of him, he would have traded all of his lovely birthday guests for even one passionate evening with her. The thought of Connie being carried off by Mr. Dowells earlier that eve, how she had yelled and cursed all the way out sent a small sinister grin to Reaver's lips. She is quite cute when she's angry isn't she? He thought with another sip of wine. As the last guest swayed and rocked his way off the lawn, another man came rushing up to the door. Reaver recognized him instantly. The old sailor was nearly out of breath from running.
"You need not come in such a hurry Claude, it's not as if I'm going to die of old age." Reaver commented.
"Naw, it's just that I had ta get outta thar fast! That young lass ye got yer eye on, she tried ta follow me."
"Well she'll never guess in a million years that a scruffy old peasant like you is working for me, so don't worry about it."
"Thanks a lot!" Claude looked up at Reaver slightly annoyed by the insult. Reaver waved him off.
"Just stating the obvious. Besides, your dirty rags and uncivilized disposition have their uses, like tonight. Do you think that I could really send one of my more proper agents to go and give her that letter? My darling Connie is too smart for that." Reaver replied, trying to lighten the mood. Claude looked around, still worried that he had been followed, but all he saw were empty bottles and confetti all over Reaver's front lawn. He looked up to his old chum and grinned a mouthful of rotten teeth.
"So, how was yer birthday eh?"
"It was alright I suppose, it's not everyday that one turns 300. But not as exciting as I would have liked."
"Oh aye, yer a hard man the keep happy that's fer sure."
"I guess I am." Reaver chuckled lightly. He stepped aside, allowing Claude to enter the enormous mansion. Reaver sat down in one of the red couches in his living area and refilled his goblet with wine. Claude sat himself down in a nearby chair.
"You know she was here earlier. Did she mention that?" Reaver asked whilst staring at the dark red wine he was swirling about in his goblet. Claude looked up towards him.
"Connie ye mean? Aye. The lass didn't seem exactly pleased about it either. Said ye burned her house down or somethin' like that." Reaver chuckled at the memory of Connie's rant that nearly crashed his party.
"I'm all too flattered that she mentioned it." Reaver mused, still lazily eyeing the blood-red wine as it licked and twirled around the inside of his goblet. "Help yourself to some of that whisky if you like Claude, its not exactly my beverage of choice. Consider it your reward for being my messenger boy." Reaver pointed towards the half-drank bottle of alcohol atop the desk nearest his mate. Clammy Claude graciously reached over and pulled the bottle towards him. He inhaled a deep whiff of the strong ale before bringing the bottle to his lips.
"That's some good stuff! Ye sure that ye don't want any Reaves?"
"Your kidding right? It's not even mine to begin with. One of my servants brought it for the party." Claude looked back to the cheap ale, shrugged and took another long chug. Reaver made a disgusted face as he watched. How had he ever come to be best mates with such an unsavory character? The he remembered. Reaver had met Clammy Claude on a voyage to Knothole Island thirty years earlier. Claude was still a young man, with reddish hair and a tanned complexion. He boasted the prowess of a young strong sailor, and was extremely clever and crafty. It was his talent for forgery which perked Reaver's inital interest in him. After being added to his crew, Claude became an irreplaceable con man and later, invaluable friend. He alone out of every other person Reaver had met on his travels knew the truth. Reaver's dark secret. Who he really was. Reaver never thought he would have ever found any who would belive yet alone understand the reason for his overly long life. But Claude was a simple man, he worried only about matters relating to him and passed judgement on no one. As far as the old sea dog was concerned, it was none of his business, and he never spoke of Reaver's past. Even though the inevitable truth was that Claude had no such immortality and that he would die probably sooner than later, Reaver secretly was glad for the simple companionship of a friend, however short it would be. The sudden sound of a loud belch shook Reaver from his private thoughts. He cast an annoyed look at Claude, whom in turn smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry, I did have a wee bit ta drink back at the tavern as well, I think it's catching up ta me." Reaver shook his head and then rested it on the back of the couch.
"Such are the formal manners I have come to expect from you." Reaver ran the evening though his head again. When was the last time he had so many people in his home? It must have been that eve before I met her. Reaver's thoughts surprised him. No matter what he thought about, that young heroine never ceased to cross his mind. Why did she fascinate and enchant him so? He had seen so many women in his life, at least one hundred like her, what made Connie so substantial? He could have any woman he wanted, and yet he had chosen to pursue the one woman who wasn't head over heels in love with him at first sight. Reaver sat there, lost in deep thought, whilst Claude took no time in finishing the half-drank bottle of whisky he'd been working on. After a while, Reaver got up and stretched, remembering all his charming guests still upstairs and no doubt waiting for him.
"Claude, I'm off to bed now, I suggest you be on your way." He addressed the drunken brigand in the chair across from him. Claude tried to stand, but swerved and took a tumble down onto the crimson carpets. Reaver sighed and walked over to his mate.
"Here Claude, let me help you to the door." He muttered as he helped the old man to his feet. The stench of strong ale was enough to encourage Reaver to get it over with quick. Once Claude was just outside the door to his mansion, Reaver slammed the door on him. He made his way back towards his half-finished goblet of wine and then stopped. There on the floor, something gold and sparkling caught his eye. Reaver reached for the odd trinket and picked it up. His eyes widened as he did so. It was a circular golden pendent, with the initials CR carved carefully into the face of the plate. The gold loop for fastening it to a belt or article of clothing had been broken. Reaver recognized instantly what it was.
"Connie's charm. The dear girl must have lost it when Mr. Dowells drug her away. How unfortunate." He said to himself, toying with the small accesory with his long fingers. He flipped it up in the air before catching it like a coin, then he smiled and stuffed it into his coat pocket.
"It looks as if I'll be getting a visit from you sooner that I thought." He twidled the trinket once more before ascending the stairs up to his bedchambers. His bitter femme fatale was never seen without her dark green dress, black boots and belt and that lovely little charm. He knew that Connie would figure out sooner or later where she had lost it. And Reaver was more than looking forward to seeing just how badly she wanted it back. As Connie made her way back from the docks, a wet and happy Lance by her side, she felt restless. She couldn't shake her hatred for The Hero of Skill and her destroyed home. It brought back those frightened and hopeless feelings that she had felt living with Rose back in the cold Bowerstone streets. Even though she knew that Gregory, her boss would be more than happy to let her live in one of the tavern rooms for as long as she wished, she still felt that cold rush of fear, and a longing for the security which she had never had. She was a hero, she could kill monsters and save the world, but sometimes Connie felt like the most vulnerable creature on earth. It was a hero's job to save and protect their people, but who was there when the hero themself needed protected? When they were lonely, or sad, or just needed a friend to sit back and share a pint with? In all her life, Connie had been very reclusive. She did what she had to do in order to serve vengeance for her sister, and to keep her beloved homeland out of the clutches of a delusional maniac. Though it all, about the only one who stayed by her side was Lance. Fans and potential love interests came and went, the people's opinion of her changed often, and friends were few and far between. Save Hammer. The giant of a woman was the only true friend Connie had ever had. They had much in common and she had known Hammer since she was 16. But now even Hammer was gone, away in the North, training with the warrior monks and meditating on some deep personal issues. Once again, it was just Connie and her white furry friend tackling Albion all on their own. The tavern was in sight now, and Connie trudged in through the door. It was nearly dawn, and after the events of the evening, she hadn't been able to get any sleep. Her shift at the bar would begin in a few hours now, and Connie decided to go upstairs and catch what little sleep she could.
"Come on boy." She called tiredly to an ever-energized Lance, who had run back towards the docks to chase some unwary seabirds. The happy creature gave a triumphant howl as the birds scattered to the sky before dashing back to his mistresses side. Connie smiled and the two made their way into the tavern and ascended the flight of stairs up to their room. She plopped down exhausted onto the soft warm bed, not even bothering to undress. Lance turned around in the corner thrice before lying down with a contented huff. Connie watched his body rise and fall as he slept, before she too drifted off. She awoke to the loud sound of knocking on her door. Connie rose up in the bed, bleary eyed.
"Connie! Get down here, your shifts about to start!" It was Gregory.
"Coming!" She called through the door. She heard footsteps heading down the stairs and shook off her remaining drowsiness. Lance had perked up at the knocks too, and was staring warily at the door, a low but deep growl welling up in his throat. Connie brushed her long auburn locks and smiled down at him.
"Its alright, it was just my boss. I gotta go to work now, but I'll be back this evening ok? Here." She put her hairbrush back onto the nearby dresser and reached into her satchel. Connie pulled out the remaining strips of beef jerky she had and threw it down on the floor for Lance.
"I have to go to the food stalls today, and if that pet supplies trader comes through again, maybe I can get you a new dog bowl." She patted him and cooed. Lance's reply was to greedily rip and swallow the tough piece of jerky that he held between his paws. Connie laughed as she watched him eat. When he was finished, she bent down and kissed him on his soft muzzle, and received a faceful of wet sloppy kisses in return. She turned and reached for the wooden doorknob.
"See you later boy, I love you!" Connie locked the door behind her and headed downstairs. Her job consisted of cleaning the bar and surrounding areas, and serving drinks to the customers. Not the best job in the world, but it was one that she could stand, and one that she was good at. Gregory was waiting for her, an impatient glare on his face.
"Your late Connie!"
"I know Gregory, I'm sorry."
"Just get started." The gruff man replied before walking over towards the stairs again. "I have to go through inventory, don't let it happen again!" Connie rolled her eyes and reached up under the bar to the small shelves below. She fetched out a rag and began to wipe the bar clean. It was going to be a long day.