289 A Badge of Brutality
*Eldovian Era 1714, 24th day of the 1st month*
To Tigin and Rima's surprise, Aegin had shown up with lunch for the next four days. At first they'd been cautious and confused about his presence, but after the first couple of visits, it became pretty clear that Aegin was not seeking them out with ill intentions.
He encouraged them to talk a lot about the West. About it's cultures and its development. He even coaxed them to talk about their own lives, though it became clear fairly quickly that all three of them were particularly forth coming about their origins. A few sentences each seemed to sum up their experiences.
"I was born to an exiled tribesman and a slave woman," Tigin had offered, "Neither of them were great parents so when I was old enough I just started looking after myself".
"My mother ran from an arranged marriage in her tribe. She had me under unwilling circumstances but she cared for me until she passed from illness when I was seven. I've been here ever since," Rima explained.
"I was born into servitude, freed myself and traveled a bit only to get forced into slavery, die, and was then reborn as a Vampire," Aegin said, "And I've been traveling ever since".
That term, Vampire. It had rung a bell in Rima's mind, "Ah, then you are a pilgrim of the Chaos God".
"The Chaos God," Rima said, "Admittedly I know little about him other than the fact that there were seven paths that his pilgrims could take. Vampires were one of the more prevalent I think".
Aegin raised an eyebrow, "There is no Chaos God".
Rima had scoffed at this, "Of course there is! The Tribes aren't like that cowardly Holy Order. They didn't erase a god because it scared them".
"There are seven gods?" asked Aegin.
Rima had just nodded. Admittedly it wasn't Tigin's area of expertise. He'd known there were seven gods, and that the Holy Order only worshiped six of them. It was why most people in the West didn't except their teachings. But the Triad cities weren't a place where one had the luxury to concern themselves with gods. Rima's knowledge wasn't all that much better. She knew the basics, but could not offer more than what she'd learned in passing from her mother.
"Then, will the Tribes know more?" asked Aegin.
Rima nodded, "Certainly. They actively worship the Seven Great Gods".
"Which Tribe was your mother from?" asked Aegin.
"The Blue Suns," said Rima.
Aegin turned to Tigin, "And yours".
Tigin shrugged, "Part of the exile was his punishment to never speak his Tribe's name. I have no idea where my bloodlines come from".
Aegin didn't appear all that disappointed though as he began to discuss with them the idea of finding the Blue Suns. Tigin didn't really care one way or the other, but Rima...he could tell that she longed to know where her mother was from the more Aegin spoke of it.
And he did speak of it. Often. In fact, it sounded as if he'd already made the decision for them. If it was anyone else, Tigin probably would have been annoyed, but Aegin's whims were certainly not meant to be harmful. He genuinely seemed to like Tigin and Rima, and seemed to wish for them to travel with him.
"Do you think we should go if he asks?" asked Tigin one night as they lay on their sleeping mats.
Rima was silent for a moment before she replied, "I want to know, Tigin. I'm sick of being stuck here with no where to go. Like I have no place. Maybe, if I find out what she left, I'll find a purpose other than just surviving".
She had a point. The life they had here in Rene was no life. Honestly, Tigin would call it a stretch to even say they were surviving.
It was on the afternoon of the fifth day of Aegin's visits that the two decided to tell him that if he went, that they wanted to come as well. Aegin, despite all his bravado and menace, smiled a genuine smile, then insisted that they'd need supplies for the journey and herded them out the door and down to the market.
First stop, new clothes. Tigin and Rima were immediately uncomfortable with Aegin paying for it all, but he'd just shrugged and asked them what else he was supposed to spend his money on if he had no need for food. They then reluctantly admitted that just this once, they didn't mind getting clothes that weren't full of holes and shoes that actually fit.
Once they had clothes, Aegin sent the two of them off to get food enough for the journey to Havena, seeing as they would need to stop there to pass through the Lapis Harengi. When they met up again, Aegin had secured two horses and a cart, upon which Rima finally caved and asked when they were actually leaving.
"Tomorrow," Aegin had replied with a grin, "I need to get the pay from tonight first".
Tigin and Rima found themselves a little surprised, but not unhappy. Their dingy apart was hardly something to miss, and they had no friends or family except for each other.
It was on their way back to the apartment in question, cart in tow, that they came across the tax collectors.
They were collecting on the street from a fruit vendor. The woman was quite distressed as she tried to hand over silver, "Please, sir. I beg you, this is all I can spare. I have four children, I need the money to-"
She was backhanded, and the coins scattered.
"Insolence!" the tax collector snarled, "The tax you are to pay is two gold, yet you offer me 30 silver? How is this supposed to reassure Reishin Irons that you are grateful for his protection".
At the movement of the second man, Tigin's eyes focused on his dark figure. He stood tall, a hood over his head, and a gold chain hanging from his hip. A rather familiar gold chain.
"Please, sir," the woman said, then turned to the second man, "Please Great Warrior Bloodthorn, I will not disappoint you, give me three days and I will gather the coin-"
From beside him, Tigin heard a dark growl. His and Rima's gazes snapped to Aegin, also hooded, but with a far more menacing aura as he handed off the reins of the horses to Tigin then approached the tax collector and his companion.
The tax collector turned at the approaching figure, "Official Business of the Reishin, this is not for you to inter-"
Aegin grabbed him around the neck and the tax collector began chocking and scratching at Aegin's forearm immediately.
"Th-This is an insult against the Reishin! I shall immediately dispose of-"
The second man, the impostor, stopped his righteous speech as a throwing dagger severed the tendons in the wrist that was about to draw a blade. He screamed bloody murder as he nursed his arm and collapsed to his knees.
"You, you will pay!"
Aegin snarled as he continued to chock the Tax Collector, then he promptly snapped the man's neck and let him drop to the ground dead. He turned back to the impostor, who looked quite terrified even with his hood still up.
"I don't take kindly to my name being sullied so," Aegin stated, "I am no brute. And my Warrior Abilities have never been used to threaten innocents. So give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you too".
"I...I...I meant no offence, Great Warrior-"
"On second thought, I think I'll just kill you anyway," said Aegin, "Your not innocent, after all".
Aegin leaned down and ripped the throwing dagger from the man's wrist then cut off his pained scream.
Aegin huffed as he looked up at Tigin and Rima, "Get whatever you left at your apartment. I'll meet you at the western gates".
"What are you going to do?" asked Rima.
Aegin wiped his knife on the clothes of the fallen impostor, then flicked a couple of gold coins at the woman who had bore witness, "I'm going to show Reishin Irons the consequences for crossing the line with the wrong person. His Shin is not the only person he should fear".