8th of Ophus, 2718
DOWN BY THE DOCKS | EARLY MORNING
"That's mine, ye chen." Quiet words became a thick cloud of hot breath while two men walked in the dull light that came before dawn. Tristaan was dressed more for movement than against the bone-chilling cold that had clawed its way into the Harbor, feeling the ache of regret for not putting on more layers in his bones and sore muscles. Grey eyes drifted over the gloved hands of the blond galdor next to him which held the six-chamber pistol he'd bought from the masked stranger in Vienda.
"Is it now?" Corwynn didn't look over at the dark-haired passive, his own firearm slung comfortably on his hip, cheeks and nose already red from the frigid temperatures. They walked carefully through the ice-crusted alleyways leading toward the docks in order to take their places, the older gunman unfortunately given the task of keeping an eye on Yulina's favorite odd-job man. He'd yet to see the value in Tristaan other than the scrap could take a hell of a beating and still stay conscious long enough to win one of Boriand's fights in the Rose Arena. Perhaps there was some secret in his diablerie or his worth really was measured in the weight of his indomitable will.
"Oes. Bought 't fairly." Grunted the passive, tilting his head to meet the sharp-blue gaze of the Taxman, shoving numb hands with knuckles still bruised and scabbed from a fight just the night before into the pockets of his threadbare wool coat and burying more of his face into the thin knit scarf he wore.
"Had it taken fairly, too, if I recall."
"Havakda. That's a matter 'f opinion."
"True. I will admit I'm biased." Chuckled Corwynn, smug and quite aware of where both of their loyalties truly lay.
"Y' gonna jus' play with it 'r give it up already? I ent proved m'self reformed 'nough yet?" It was Tristaan's turn to smirk, but the expression was sour instead of amused.
"Don't talk to me about playing with things, Mister Greymoore. You're only trustworthy because that stolen bird of a witch you claim is yours too happens to be clocking heavy with child." The Bad Brother sneered, his voice almost breaking the hissed whispers the unlikely pair spoke in despite the bubble of Quiet the galdor had surrounded them in and continued to upkeep while they snuck their way through the forgotten, dirty warehouses.
"Ne, ersehole, I'm only trustworthy 'cause Yulina's alive."
"Did you just—" The blond gunman barely contained laughter, crystalline gaze hardening like the frozen, salty ground beneath their feet. With a bit of flair, Corwynn offered the butt of the six-chambered weapon to the passive, waiting for the curious creature to take the pistol before reaching into his coat and producing the dark-haired man's holster, belt, and the hard leather case he'd kept bullets in, "—gods, you may be alright after all. Just remember who to clocking aim at, Mister Greymoore."
"Oes. I know what side I'm playin' for today, Cor." Just today? Not that he had a choice, after all.
The threat in the Taxman's field was oppressively tangible, but Tristaan had grown used to being around galdor fields in the presence of Master Boriand. He was allowed a moment to hike up his coat and replace his firearm to it's proper place, wincing at the painful cold that raked over skin marked with fading yellow bruises and a few fresh scabs—signs that he hadn't won his last fight in the Rose Arena, much to everyone's surprise. If Corwynn's gaze wandered over the other man—who, despite the weighty bit of ego he hid beneath his tekaa-colored, tarnished exterior, was far from unattractive, appealing in his own way, honestly—while he waited in the shadows between two dilapidated warehouses, well, he certainly wasn't ashamed of himself.
The older gunman didn't really have any shame, after all.
They continued in the darkness, falling quiet again as they approached the docks themselves, the layout of the entire heart of the Rose familiar to both men because they'd lived enough of their lives on the brined wood in one way or another.
"Up there's our spot." He added, glance lingering with a slow exhale of heated breath, tugging up the hood of his coat to hide his rather unmistakable blond, "Rooftop view for us. You first."
Tristaan said nothing, a familiar pre-combat nervousness settling like smoldering charcoal in the cavity of his chest still not hot enough to warm him against the chill. It crawled up his spine anyway, tingling through his nerves like a match lit and set to kindling, aware that it was no longer himself he was responsible for looking out for. He was living for lives other than his own and therefore couldn't afford to make reckless mistakes. Fingerless gloves were hardly enough barrier, either, and he winced and hissed his way up the frozen, painfully cold metal ladder toward the third story roof of the abandoned row of shops that once stood so close to the docks. Corwynn remembered the shops well—a fishmonger and a little pub, both run by the same family, both loyal taxpayers until their eldest child fell sick. The penalty for backtaxes had been far too much for them to pay, and what was left of the fishmonger and his wife probably was nothing but sand by now at the bottom of the Harbor.
The pair of very different men silently found their places on the roof, tucked behind the lip of it where a tattered awning flapped loudly in the wind, able to see through the holes in the faded canvas. Just far enough away that he couldn't feel the other man's ramscott old field, the dark-haired passive set about loading his pistol, ignoring how his face stung and his fingers wanted to shake in the cold.
The Bad Brother let go of their Quiet spell, mentally freeing himself of the concentration while he, too, set about finding his position against the low half-wall that rose near the front of the building. Peeling paint barely read the family's name and business—Knockles and Sons, Fish and Beer—but the spot gave an almost unrivaled view of the ship and the wagon and the three narrow streets that spilled out onto the docks, allowing Tristaan and Corwynn an opportunity to open fire as quickly as possible.
Dawn was just starting to creep over the horizon, reluctant in the chest-crushing cold. Whatever the Drain had planned, it wasn't just the older galdor who worried they'd already been made even before they arrived—even Tristaan knew a trap when he heard one. Not that either of them were about to admit that to each other, however. Not yet.