Description: Or also known as Giving her Royal Highness a tour. Having conscripted the aid of Testament, Kotal prepares himself for his biggest challenge yet in konquering Earthrealm. Taking Princess Kitana shopping.
Things were shaping up quite well for the emissary of Outworld. Not only had he met with Princess Kitana, he had also run a Darkstalker, or Gear as Testament referred to himself, that was -very- willing to aid the invasion of Earthrealm. Just in the few days that it took for Princess Kitana to come back from Outworld too! Was it good fortune or was Kotal this good of a strategist? Either way, having Testament who was arguably a better local than both Kitana and Kotal combines would be instrumental for their little day out. At the very least it looked like Testament had spent a considerable amount of time in Metro City despite loathing it.
Standing on a clearing just on the outskirts of Metro City, an outskirt that just happens to not be surrounded by druggies and homeless people, is Kotal who is not sporting his usual turquoise skin and Aztec knight regalia. Testament would have been able to see him shape shift earlier. His skin had turned brown, his hair black, and his outfit that of cotton, jeans and sandals. Testament might recognize the outfit, it looks like what a modern Mexican man would wear.
As Kotal would have no doubt explained to Testament. They were awaiting the arrival of most elevated Princess Kitana, daughter of a God that surpassed even Kotal himself in terms of power. She would be arriving shortly to assist with the invasion, but also they were going to use the time to do some reconnaissance. Which in reality that's just Royalty code for going shopping.
Testament had indeed been living in the human world for a long time. He's about 80, after all. But he hates this whole 'blending in' bit. He isn't a human, and doesn't like pretending to be one. His eyes reveal his inhuman nature anyway-- not only are their irises red, the pupils are, too. That in mind, Testament has had to cover those, too. So he's wearing a black two-piece suit, white shirt, and black dress shoes. And he's got a pair of sunglasses on to hide his eyes. His ever-present raven is perched upon his shoulder, sporting her usual silver collar.
Where Testament got those clothes is anybody's guess. Though it's probably better not to ask. It is, however, REALLY OBVIOUS that Testament doesn't like having to do this. He's fairly radiating menace, though not specifically at Kotal. If there WERE any druggies or homeless around, they'd likely have fled the area anyway, thanks to that feeling of 'grrrrr i hate you...' radiating from Testament. Though aside from that, he waits quietly for the Princess Kotal mentioned.
When the portal finally does open once again to earthrealm, it does so as a twisting maw that swallows away a space in this reality and substitutes it with another. It provides a glimpse into one of the more secure spaces in Outworld. A dark corner tucked away below the very foundations of the palace, and a place where much of the greatest magical research in the realm takes place. Rugged stone walls lit by metal bracketed single torches and bowl shaped wall sconces. The ritualists surrounding the spots and chanting while the two purple robed shadow priests defy gravity and float on either side of the portal. The ultimate in trustworthy guardians, they were there to prevent trespass or unauthorized use of the portal.
The princess herself receives no special recognition or deference from the priests as between them with a confidant stride. The robed figure that emerges from the portal is once again heavily obscured but this time she has made an effort to find cloak of a lesser cut and quality. In a drab and worn grey rather than a royal blue, it was a harsh and scratching woollen one that felt rough on her skin. The fabric itched and irritated her despite it being clean and was not comfortable at all. Worn beneath the cloak, the raiment's of an assassin rather than a princess.
The portal closes at her back, guarded on one side by Shao Kahns personal sorcerers and on the other by a loyal daughter. 'Mariko' makes a show to turning to examine Testament. Already, this trip is interesting! Kotal may be showcasing the first of new allies and recruits he has scouted, since there was no obvious threat to her safety she continues as she would otherwise.
And his new friend? She waits for some form of introduction rather than risk a disaster with some kind of assumption or purpose and ranks. The man there did not fill her with a great deal of ease. To possess a great beauty surpassing that of most women, but also a threatening aura that keeps her from feeling at ease.
No doubt had Kotal explained to Testament earlier the Princess' idea to address each other by codenames. A sound plan too as mortals probably would be very alarmed if they heard names such as Huitzilopotchli being thrown around, even if most of them didn't know who that is! As such, Kotal was to be addressed as 'Cortez' in public and Princess Kitana as 'Mariko'.
When the portal finally opens, Kotal stands firm and in attention when the robbed figure that is the Emperor's daughter emerges from the rift leading to another dimension. Clearly, whoever this Princess Kitana is she is worthy of respect of even the God of War.
"Welcome back, Mariko." Greets back Kotal with a simple bow of his head to the princess. A simple show of deference, but meaning much considering who its coming from. "All preparations are in order as promised. We may proceed inspecting the city and its markets at your leisure."
Naturally, Kotal notices that Kitana is observing the new figure and the disguised Aztec takes a step to the side in order to not block the Princess' view. "My lady, this is our latest ally in our Konquest. He too shares a vested interest in seeing the utter demise of Earthrealm and its defenders."
Kotal keeps it simple though, letting Testament and the Princess make their own introductions. Wanting to get a feel first of how the Princess and the Gear might interact with one another without his interference.
Testament's shaded eyes turn to the princess as she arrives. That radiating of malice seems to ease somewhat in his curiosity. It's hard to meet the Princess's gaze with the sunglasses on, but he manages well enough, offering a nod of greeting to her.
Codenames? Testament understands the need for them. He's never really needed to operate in secret, though, since a campaign of terror generally requires that one be visible and known well for it to succeed. He'd committed to memory the codenames they now use, so no worries of errors.
Kotal's lead-in draws a nod from Testament, and he steps forward. "I am Testament," he offers, bowing politely. Notably the bird on his shoulder shifts as he bows, to keep her balance. It's as if she knows how he's going to move before he does it. Speaking of the bird, he indicates the black creature with the thin silver collar. "This is Tset."
Looking back to Kitana, he notes, "You've chosen codenames. Like this, I am 'Schwarz'." German for 'black'. Maybe not surprising, since there's a Germanic accent to his words.
The princess returns the bow with a modest bob of her hooded cowl. The trick with his pet was worthy of a faint smile though doubly concealed behind mask and hood it amounted to little. The sweeping bow of his was elegant, the mannerisms refined but also masculine, her impression of the man were mostly positives. He had her approval near immediately since this was a far cry from the thuggish behaviour of citizens she had seen prowling Metro City by night.
"Testament. I bring you the greetings and best wishes of the Eternal Emperor. "
Acknowleding him by name felt important in that it was that which they were brokering some of the first new alliances. The pseudonym by which she must address him was filed away, the accent was foreign sounding but not unpronounceable.
A single gloved hand pierces the veil hiding her away and brushes the hood back, having to lift it gently so it doesn't catch on the hairpin tying her hair back in a tight bun. Crooking a finger she draws it down her cheek to also peel away the mask.
The revealed and striking Edenian woman she appears to be bear a more than passable resemblance in appearance to Earthrealms east asian populace. Large dark eyes still accented with a touch of silvery eyeshadow but wearing little else in terms of makeup. Her brows strikingly dark, well-formed or shaped and the faint smile still present on her lips is a natural accent to her features.
"I am Princess Kitana of Outworld."
Not to be mistaken for her sister. Though the similarities between the two twin girls was remarkable.
"Here, I am merely 'Mariko'. As I am told it is a fitting alias. I likewise shall accept your request to address you as Schwarz."
The name tasted odd on her lips as she affects some of the accent Testament used to pronounce it. The look of faint concern as she gives the impression that she is uncertain and wishing to make sure she is speaking it correctly or not in a strange manner.
Before she can get let it get to her howver shelifts a heavy drawstting purse form her robes and lightly tosses it to Cortez. Simple trinkets of gold and silver with inset with only the smallest stones alongside some truly valuable pieces form her own collection. She had no intention of cutting into the war funds being purposefully amassed OR AT Kotals expense. As a princess and assassin both she had her pride and desire to be useful and pay her way. What she lacked was the ability to turn some kind of knowledge that these were somewhat valauable into currency of the real. Bringing Koins and currency with her would have been next to useless, and at worst... dangerous and leaving a trail behind her.
"Cortez,I brought some small things with me to cover any expenses. I wish to not make your work more difficult by depriving you of funds."
If it came down to it the princess could certainly use her skills to secure some valuable items to pay her way if the purse were insufficient.
Excellent, that the Princess and the Gear did not immediately come to blows is a sound victory for the Outworld Commander. As a rule, beings of Outworld, royalty in particular, are very vocal in their likes and dislikes, and anything that they perceive as offensive is either quickly destroyed or at the very least put through the test of Mortal Kombat.
Though Kotal does not doubt that Testament will eventually be put through such tests, Princess Kitana's positive reactions towards the Gear meant at least that she views him as a being worthy of her presence. That much is a lot more he could say for the rest of Metro City wretches.
The Aztec watches the exchange with impassive eyes allowing himself a smile after the pleasantries and single clap of his mighty hands. "Well then, let us proceed. The sun waits for no one after all." And Kotal certainly doesn't feel like doing the trick where he stops the sun's movement. Last time he tried to do that he couldn't move for weeks.
Just as he's about to move he catches the purse that is gently chucked his way. "Ah, a tactically sound move, Mariko." Says the Aztec whilst he bounces the purse on his palm. "Earthrealm uses almost exclusively the monetary exchange system and has all but done away with the bartering system. However, there are still some places that can exchange goods for the local currency. We shall visit one of these exchange houses first before traveling to the stores proper, it will be a good experience of how to operate in Earthrealm before we are in full control."
As he moves to walk towards the city proper, Kotal chuckles softly and glances at 'Schwarz'. "Vexing is it not? It all used to be so much more simple back in my day. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to one such as you to live in Earthrealm."
"If our travels allow it, I should take you to visit Outworld. Things there are far more simple than the convoluted mess these humans have made of their world." Very simple indeed, the strong rule and the weak die or are kept as slaves.
Testament nods respectfully to her greetings from the Emperor. The name she's using is also filed away mentally. "It's good to meet you, Your Highness." As for her pseudonym being fitting? "It is," he agrees. "These people will easily mistake you for Japanese." The tone indicates that he doesn't share that assessment. And the emphasis on 'these people' makes it clear what he thinks of people from Earthrealm in general. If she's made any sort of impression that she's uncertain in speaking the strange name, he doesn't make any mention of it. He just nods when she speaks the name he'll use. He doesn't bother explaining what it means, though. It's not really important. If either of them asks, he'll explain it.
Truth be told, the Gear is pretty vocal about his likes and dislikes too. But, having seen Kitana come through a portal from elsewhere-- and likely sensing the distinct air of 'not of this world' from her-- he's content that she's not human, even if she looks like one. The first trial has been overcome, that of FRIENDSHIP! Kombat will come later... and will reveal his other side. But for now, he shows his more sane side. Even if he does rather have that unpleasant feel of death about him, and the sense that Something Is Very Wrong With This Guy.
Kotal's words of the sun get a nod. And he makes to follow the war god. The mention of the currency gets a tilted head. "A pawn shop wouldn't give you top value for it. They'd be trying to give you as little for the whole lot as possible. If these are old, you could take them to an antique dealer. Or if they're very valuable, a jeweler would be best," he suggests. "The jeweler might still be best. An antique dealer will want to know exactly where you got the items."
Kotal's words of how vexing it is to live in Earthrealm gets a half-smirk. "It is. The forests are my home now. I can't abide being in these cities for too long. The /stench/ is overpowering." Once gets the notion that it's not the city itself that stinks, but the denizen thereof. As for going to Outworld? "I think I'd like that. A simpler existence is what this world needs," he states. A frown here, as he says the next. "I've seen what these human beings do with their 'technological brilliance'. A story for another time, though... not when we're about to be neck-deep in humans. I'll say this-- what these people have done to me assures my loyalty to the cause the both of you champion." The raven at his shoulder CRAWS loudly, flaring her wings up briefly, fluffing up like a black puffball. Clearly she agrees with this. Testament pauses, to reach up and pet her, calming her.
The princess falls into formation with the clap of those mighty hands, normally in precession as the princess she might be expected to take lead. As Mariko however her status would be much lower, she would have to remind herself of it continuously. It also didn't hurt that she had no idea in which direction or by which route they would be travelling.
"No more than a thousand years or so, I spent some time searching for suitable and plain, If that information aides in the most suitable decision."
Perhaps some of the pieces were older. As old as 1500 years at the very oldest, but was that just when she'd received them maybe? Her memory for how long ago she'd been gifted those particular -- or were they just similar trinkets she was misremembering? Her recall was quite weak in her trying to draw on any specifics. They were objects of little importance! Edenians were most long lived.
She listens patiently through the exchange between her travelling companions. Paying heed to the venom in the inflection against humans and noting that Schwarz must be something other than the common inhabitants she had seen thus far. One of these 'Darkstalkers' perhaps? Her opinion on the behaviour of the bird was shifting as well. It seemingly responded too well to its masters moods or was voicing its own opinions, more likely a familiar of some kind. Winged creatures of such a small size were usually small brained and occasionally quite tasty, not capable of following a conversation. Her gaze fixed on the bird and her revaluation of it as being something to be mindful of speaking around.
"I do not know that you will find existence to be 'simple' in Outworld. There are many places that few would dare ever venture, if what you seek was solitude and you possess strength enough to survive them. Such places exist."
There was no real evidence of overcrowding in Outworld. The constant struggle for life, social advancement and power tended to have overwhelming numbers of casualties. Those who survived were the stronger for it, but it could be pitiable to witness such squabbling.
When Outworlds influence finally extended and came to this realm, most would perish. The strong would endure and those who were smart enough to choose the winning side would prosper rather than be ground away to dust beneath the millstone.
"Pawn shops will indeed offer little income in return." Kotal continues with Earthrealm 101 as he leads the group back into the polluted Metro City, the wilderness yielding to garbage covered streets and broken down buildings. "But jewelers ask too many questions and are all too willing to have their values inspected by the defenders of Earthrealm. Although we of Outworld are accustomed to dealing with our foes in open Kombat or a dagger in the night, assassinating, stealing and, indeed, even threatening would draw too much attention. As Schwarz can no doubt attest, these whelps do tend to pile on and they are notoriously efficient at taking down large threats by outnumbering them. Not too long ago an ancient Darkstalker lord was brought low by naught but a scant few mortals who decided to overwhelm him."
"For now, we must play the game of the Earthrealmers and make full use of their eagerness to back stab each other. We can sell these items at the local Black Market ran by the Mad Gear gang. They do not ask questions and give hearthy rewards." He scoffs after said comment. "Though do not mistake such as me having some manner of fondness for these louts. They are lower than vermin and they all shall be purged when the invasion begins." Kotal chuckles at the over eagerness of both Testament and his raven to commence with the reaping. "Ye indeed, very soon."
The disguised Azted deity acts almost unnervingly well with a Gear such as Testament, a being who's very nature should be abhorrent to even Outworld itself. Although Testament himself might not realize it the reason for that is very simple.
Once you've stared into the eyes of the Emperor Shao Kahn there is very little left in the universe that can possibly phase you. Even Vega was naught but a candle in the storm in comparison to the Immortal Emperor.
Kotal is pulled away from his thoughts of Outworld by Princess Kitana, who asks the obvious question of why Kotal would consider Outworld simple when it is indeed Hell by any other name. "Schwarz would not be judged there for what he is." Answers the Aztec simply. "He would be judged by his strength and willpower, not by his nature. The fact that Earthrealmers still practice such judgments is reason alone to purge it."
To Kitana who has always been the prized daughter of the Emperor -though perhaps not the favorite one- judgments of such nature may be completely alien. That however might change when the trio enter the city proper and encounter their first real Earthrealm challenge.
Running through the rooftops as they tended to do would draw too much attention to themselves, and there were no buses that would take them anywhere close to the Mad Gear black market. Therefore, Kotal had the brilliant idea to hail a taxi.
A task that would prove very problematic to someone of his aesthetics.
Kotal raised a hand to a speeding taxi who totally blew him off. A second time and another failed attempt. A third and still no response.
The Aztec ended up sighing. "Blast it all. Really?" Seems that Metro City taxis aren't too eager to pick up a 7 feet tall dark skinned man, an obvious hit man with a raven perched on his shoulder and a robbed Japanese woman. They all looked rather sketchy even for Metro City standards.
Testament's eyes go a bit wide at Kitana's words of how old the trinkets are. "A pity," he notes. "If you COULD get full value for them, just one would set get you set for life here. To have a handful of thousand year-old gems would be exponentially greater." As for simpler in Outworld or not? "Maybe not simpler, Mariko-sama. But more honest. I would prefer one who wished to kill me say so and be done with it, rather than put on elaborate airs trying to pretend he didn't." 'Mariko' being a Japanese-sounding name, Testament chose a Japanese honorific to go with it.
Kotal's words on the pawn shops and the jewelers get a nod. "That's true," he notes. "I thought the items would be a few hundred years at most. At a thousand years, a jeweler would likely call in an antique dealer, research would be done... and madcap hijinks would ensue." He smirks. The mention of ganging up gets a nod. His eyes narrow. "They do that. Like ants on a grasshopper," he comments. "The ability of humans to band together is their greatest strength. It's also bloody annoying."
The mention of 'fondness' for the Mad Gears gets a smirk. "As I said. More honest," he notes. "It's ironic how those who would be called the lowest of the low in human society are the ones that often are the easiest to deal with. Better the enemy you know and all." After all, one expects to be backstabbed by a thug, so it's not too hard to avoid it. When it's someone not so low on the social ladder, who migh have a reason to NOT stab one in the back, it's a bit more difficult to see coming.
The Gear is mostly quiet while they walk, listening to the conversation. Though when Kotal tries to hail a taxi... Testament pauses. Three taxis zoom past. But as the fourth tries to... Testament acts. He raises a hand to his mouth, and bites into the pad of his index finger with one sharp fang. He tries to keep the motion casual, as if he were merely biting a fingernail. Then he points the finger at the ground, letting the blood drip to the ground in front of him.
The sense of power increases around him, and his hair begins to sway, as if in a gentle wind. He closes his eyes and begins to murmur under his breath. One standing close enough might be able to hear it. "Karyotse ne tera... Kakato la hera... Para to jyathima kurufe tse kakado thiya..." The words layer over themselves in the air, as if they don't want to disappear immediately. And as he does, the blood begins to run down into the gutter, as if a thing alive, of its own volition. Once on the street, it makes a spill of itself. And as a fourth taxi begins to pass by, Testament speaks again, his voice layering in the air again. "Jya farero tseryone..." And as he speaks, the blood makes to grab the tires and slow or stop it. It's not a fanged creature though. Popping the tires wouldn't achieve their goal. It grabs at the tires with a soft mouth, to avoid that.
The courts of Outworld were a sea of backstabbing and wretched plotting, but all that happened under the very nose of the emperor himself. Some, like the Emperor's daughters had built careers thousands of years long solely based on extermination of those threats and traitors who grew too loud or bold. In that setting however at least there was the not the immersion in this smell, the smell of poor areas in her world and this new one, still smelled in part the same. The familiar yet disgusting stink of urine and rubbish from the alleyways; unpleasant scents of unwashed bodies and the sharp scent of alcohol. The fumes surrounding this roadway however were awful, some by-product of the vehicles themselves? Belching smoke coming some of these vehicles making them appear ready to burst into flames themselves.
Kitana remains quiet throughout. Carefully noting the information about the baubles and trinkets being suspicious because of their age, perhaps that would mena they were worth more if the right buyers could be found. Otherwise, she would adapt and find another way to support herself. Being mobbed to death by enemies to her was an ending where you had already made too many missteps to be caught in such a situation. Well to be avoided. In that vein however! She was seemingly still attracting more attention than she had wanted, because of her style of dress probably; people stared at her rather than Testament or Cortez, meanwhile the vehicles were not stopping for Cortez. Was it because he blended in too well or there was some stigma to his appearance? It was fortunate many of the eyes on the street were on her, She cranes her head around to watch out of the corner of her hood, the display of obvious magical talent is pleasantly surprising, more so when the vehicle seemingly is slowed to a halt for them. It confirms her suspicion he might be a sorcerer of some description which lined up well with the thoughts the bird may be his familiar.
She isn't at ease by any means, maintaining her calm and entering the vehicle when an entry is opened for her. She just hopes it doesn't smell as bad on the inside as it does on the outside.
Cortez gets a malicious grin about him when his senses warn him that his companion is calling upon the dark arts to aid their cause. At this point, the Aztec deity might not have entirely minded if Testament had unleashed a deadly barrage against those blasted cab drivers, even if it did blow their cover. Kotal himself was on the verge of unleashing holy retribution upon those judgmental mortals. Incredible, naught but a few hours in the city and he was already victim of prejudice! How on earth has Testament managed to live in this realm for so long is beyond him!
Thankfully, Kotal is nothing if not methodical in his action, the very reason why he's one of the strongest Outworld Generals. He nods to Testament and his taxi snatching abilities to complement him. "Well done, Schwarz." Indeed, the Gear was already proving to be a worthwhile ally, Kotal had been very fortunate to run into him so early into the invasion plans.
Now that the taxi was immobilized and on the mercy of angry Mesoamerican God of War, Kotal moves towards the driver seat and motions for the terrified driver to lower his window. Having no choice but to comply, the driver trembling does as Kotal gestures and looks up at the muscle bound Hispanic with the piercing hazel eyes. "Greetings good sir. To the corner of fourth street and Morrison avenue please." The driver seems to calm down at Kotal's good manners. Clearly he was expecting some kind of Mad Gear thug that was gonna rough him off, the gentle and sophisticated accent is unexpected and comforting. Nodding, the taxi unlocks the doors for the group to enter and Kotal ambles around the taxi to open the door for Princess Kitana so that she can ride shotgun. He joins Schwars in the back of the taxi.
METRO CITY BLACKMARKET
After an uneventful car ride which Cortez graciously paid for, the group enter a back alley that may look surprisingly familiar to those who have visit Outworld. Its a bazaar of sorts with several merchant posts carrying odd valuables. At first glance it looks as there's no illegal business going on there, though a quick look further inside the buildings alludes that there are several gang members trying out guns, drugs, and other artifacts that public doesn't know anything about. Even more striking, there are Darkstalkers here, some are huddled in corners begging for alms, others are vendors, and others are even buyers, but their presence here alludes to the group that this is an area of the city which isn't frequented by normal civilians. At the very least it doesn't smell as awful as the outskirts of the city, some of the merchants had the good decency of putting up incense to cover the smell of urine, vomit, dried blood and gun powder.
"Lovely isn't it?" Chuckles Kotal. "Almost reminds me of Outworld."
Testament seems to be immune to the smell, or at least has grown accustomed enough to it not to be terribly affected by it. Though his mention of the 'stench' from earlier may be part of it. His senses may be sharper than normal, due to what he is. He offers a smile to 'Mariko' and indicates she should board the taxi first. With Kotal holding the door for her, it should give her some room instead of having to be squashed in the back of a taxis with two guys. It probably wouldn't have worked anyway-- Testament is unhealthily thin, yes, but Kotal is massive. Which was probably one of the reasons the taxi driver thought there would be violence if he stopped. More like there would be if he hadn't!
But yes. Testament nods to Kotal's praise, a gracious acceptance. "Thank you." He shifts Zio to his hand as he slides into the car, and then to his lap as he sits. And just to head off fears in that direction, he notes to the driver, "Don't worry. She is trained." In other words, she's not going to poop all over the back seat. Though the silver collar around the bird's neck is a good giveaway too. He is quiet for the ride to the location, occasionally running a hand down the bird's back or scritching at the top of her head.
Once they reach the black market, Testament has transferred the bird to his shoulder again as they head down the alley. Zio gives an inquisitive 'awk?' and tilts her head at the place. Oh yes, this is much nicer. The incense at least takes the edge of the human stench. It's notable, too, that as soon as Testament sees someone who's obviously not human? He smiles. It's not one of those horrible mad grins, or an evil smirk that promises foulness. It's an honest smile. The question of Outworld gets a raised brow in Kotal's direction. "Outdoor markets?" he asks. "These are... familiar, somehow." That was a long time ago, though. His father had said...
Suddenly Testament freezes. His eyes go misty. His father. Kliff. Forty years. It's been forty years. He didn't remember much. But meeting his father... it seemed like forever ago... that shook things loose. So he can remember a little now...
A concerned 'awk' and a beak-nudge wakes him up. He blinks, and then shakes his head, as if clearing it. "...It was a long time ago," he supplies. Perhaps that doesn't tell anyone much, but it's an explanation for his behavior, anyway.
The ride in the vehicle is not entirely unpleasant. The odour of the driver and the vehicle appears to be at least somewhat alleviated by the presence of a small scented ornament or object of religious devotion. It smelt overpoweringly of forests, like a cheap perfume scented version of them. I covered up the smell of vomit among other things, and the seats were at least comfortable. Why her seat was covered in a wrapping of wooden beads she had no idea.
The fact the bird was also coming in the vehicle was a pleasant surprise. Well trained and somewhat acceptable by the- ...no. the nervousness of the driver was palpable so it was best to assume this was rather abnormal a situation.
Eventually leaving the vehicle behind them it on arriving at the market it takes Kitana some time to cast her eyes over the marketplace, it's small and not particularly impressive. Eye roving over the guns and drugs without the slightest interest, she would be much more fascinated by foods, pungent spices or fabrics. The same artificial smells of perfumes and oils to cover up the natural smells here perhaps to improve their business.
The darkstalkers were interesting, she daren't be caught staring but could sneak glances now and then. When testament falters and fails to keep up she half turns to likewise look back at him similarly, that same analysing stare while he has that look on his face. When he spoke, market held some significance to him? She supposed all children tended to enjoy markets at some point in their lives.
"The best way to sell goods people are not aware they would like to own."
Coming from a world without television and advertising. This was the norm, how businesses operated and tried to sell new and innovative goods that had yet to catch on. Were they thinking to find clothes for her in this?! Her sister would probably laugh herself sick at seeing her wearing clothing from a grubby little unknown market.
Is that sentimentality he senses from Testament? Kotal looks over his shoulder and gazes at the young looking Gear with a concerned expression. Could it be that there is still something that he holds dear even in such a despicable place like Earthrealm? The Aztec God will have to look into that later, such may become a liability, or perhaps an advantage. Kotal himself still thinks fondly of Earthrealm and many of its cultures even if he aims to destroy it. Only then, as he said, will it arise from the ashes a new and pure. As it was meant to be. Only then will it return to the days of glory, of swords, axes, fists and legends. Not this.. weakness that it has come over everyone like a plague. Not this fighting for the sake of entertainment.
But he digresses, Kotal makes no mention to Testament about his admission of visiting a place like this before. Ultimately, it does not serve their purpose yet.
Mariko's comment about what is it that people want to buy on the other hand, does. "Exactly." Says Kotal as he leads the way past makeshift tents with trinkets and shady corridors with suspicious trails of blood pouring down the entrance. "These mortals are far too focused on material possessions to pass an opportunity such as this." For a second, Kotal almost adds that they are 'worse than the royals at the palace' but he thinks better of it considering present company. "It matters not its usefulness. Only that their neighbors do not have what they do." Kotal knows the vices of men quite well it seems.
The trio finally arrive what appears to be their destination. A red tent at the very end of the alley with mountains of what seem to be scrap and other refuse stored at the back. There's a few gatherings of people there trying to peddle their wares for money to a most intriguing vendor. Its hard to tell if its a human or a darkstalker considering he seems to be wearing a respirator mask that covers almost all of his face. He seems feeble enough, though the presence of a few Mad Gear thugs ensure that people trying to assault him think better about it.
The disguised Aztec moves past the line of peddlers and approaches the vendor with confidence. "Greetings, sir. What do you think this is worth?" Straight to business as always, Kotal procures one of the artifacts that Kitana procured from Outworld and shows it to the vendor.
He says nothing at first though trembling hands begin to adjust the lenses of his respirator mask to inspect the item. A moment passes and all three will notice that he's making a very subtle gesture to the guards.
Kotal smiles despite keeping his gaze upon the vendor. It seems there's two thugs now trying to sneak behind Testament and Kitana, clearly thinking that they can clubber the two fighters on the back of the head and do away with their items.
To be fair, Testament has more or less gotten over the moment. BUT! The fact that it was there might indeed be a cause for concern. Kotal will know once he speaks to the Gear that it's not so much a liability as a 'things gone past'. There are things that are long gone, but he knows he can't get them back. It's too late now. Regardless. That's neither here nor there.
What IS here and now, is this dealer. Shady as he is, Testament's already set on edge. Ultimately it's the raven that draws Testament's attention to the circling thugs, specifically to the one that is sidling up behind him, with a loud 'CAW!' At the moment this is the one that has the Gear's attention; he hasn't registered the one after Kitana just yet.
Testament smiles at the respirator-wearing merchant from behind his curtain of long hair. "This is ill-advised," he notes quietly. Just before he demonstrates why. He doesn't even bother turning to face the thug. He doesn't need to. Suddenly his hair and clothes are ruffled by a strong gust of wind that seems to come from nowhere, and he raises a hand into the air. "EXE BEAST!" he calls. And something answers.
A mass of... something, the same dark pinkish color of tissue, rises up from the ground near the feet of the thug attempting to accost Testament, forming into a blob with a large, toothy maw big enough to swallow a child and a horn on its 'snoot'. This thing is about waist high to the thug. The blobby mass lurches forward with a roar, that mouth full of massive, palm-sized teeth makes to clam down on the thug's legs. Unless he's fast? That thug is going to be a double amputee.
This situation was not one Kitana had a good read on, inside this red tent: That the merchant would obscure their face immediately made her distrust the man. A merchant covering their face was as suspicious as a thin cook or baker trying to impress on you the quality of their goods, something hiding or conveying or a lack of enjoyment or skill in their craft.
That hand signal could mean any number of things, the figure of some muscle brained lout moving up behind her however translated out just fine. She brushes the front of the cloak aside; her turn on her heel sends it sweeping wide anyway which suited her since it didn't impede her strike. The grisly meat slap and faint ring of metal as these daggers spear into the man's face and upper chest and she continues with enough momentum to stop with her back once again to him. Her royal highness, exposed to the light showing a tantalizing amount of skin in the outfit, the low V-neck of her costume bound together by laced cord and wearing gloves and thigh his boots she opens her hands wide, held to either side as if an appeal.
The thunk of a cleaver delivering enough force to cleave meat and her attacker pauses unnaturally still, a pattering as objects fall at his feet. With a fait whooshing hum two open fans faintly aglow, circle around Kitana's body and fly into her waiting hands where they're closed back into a blade state and withdrawn. The cloak falling closed once again simply due to gravity and the fact she was standing still.
A gushing and still trembling pile of meat slumps to the ground behind her in several pieces. She considered it an elegant solution to execute the man as quickly as possible, there was faint hope business might yet be concluded. He had not time to really scream or call attention to his demise was simply professionalism on her part.
With the distraction the beast that Testament had summoned was causing she was likewise dismissing the guard behind him as a threat. Likely he would die noisily and horribly which did not suit her delicate sensibilities. If handling such a situation as that were Testament's wishes she at least respects them enough to not interfere. She had some questions as to his stability and temperament now but not the powers. Outworld was full of eccentrically strong people who had given up important things in their quest for power, he seemed not too dissimilar.
"If this one has not the money for payment there are others?"
Outright asking about how much value the fool had left. They could kill this trafficker and move on. This attack on a royal personage was already worthy of a death sentence and he of a low enough position she would probably not even need to pronounce judgement.
The Mad Gear thugs die beautifully. A sight worthy of Outworld indeed. Kitana's assailant is skewered both on his head and chest gurgling out blood as he meets his fate with a mute scream of horror and pain. Only the sound of his body parts crumbling to the ground in a bloody heap announce his passing.
The one attacking Testament on the other hand.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! MY LEEEEEEGS!!!!"
He's not fast. A sickening sound of bone and flesh and muscle being torn apart by teeth is heard quickly followed by the agonizing cries of the Mad Gear thug falling on his back holding the bloody stumps that were once his legs. Blood gushes out of his peroneal arteries spraying walls and onlookers alike.
Kotal never once turned back to look at the thugs attacking his companions.
"As I was saying--"
Finding it difficult to conduct business with the lovely background music that is the thug still screaming, Kotal lifts a finger and a ray of sun falls from the heavens to disintegrate the screaming man. In an instant, nothing but smoldering ashes remain where the thug once lay squirming and screaming.
"As I was saying, sir." The gall of Kotal still being polite even after all that is happening. "I presume that this artifact is worth our troubles?"
The masked mad nods nervously having witnessed how brutally the trio slaughtered his thugs. He had no doubt that they would present a challenge but he never imagined that they would straight up kill his Mad Gear mercenaries. If Testament and Kitana are observant enough they might see that there are other thugs hiding that suddenly decide to not make themselves visible anymore. The two thugs were just the vanguard, they were supposed to soften them up before more Mad Gear gang members swarmed them. Now though, after seeing that the trio are not messing around, the thugs get wise and decide to not engage.
"Ah, yes, yes." Nods the dealer now sounding far more eager to negotiate. "Quite indeed, sir. I know just the right buyer would be willing to purchase such an item. Sadly, I do not have quite the sufficient funds for it at the moment." He stammers, terribly afraid to further displease these crazed blood thirsty fighters. "Ah-ah, might you perhaps take a down payment?" He quickly procures two suit cases. "Two million dollars up front for the piece and I'll pay double for it soon. I j-just need a day to collect the rest. Naturally, if you have more pieces such as that I can offer you a lot more. Yes, yes?"
Kotal considers and though he seems willing to part with the artifact he turns to his companions first to see what they think.
Testament has a bit to learn about efficiency and getting the job done over making an example of others. He could have merely drawn a tiny amount of his own blood, shaped it into a bladed weapon, and disposed of his own opponent as quickly and silently as Kitana did. Or, failing that, just open a portal to God only knows where and drop the thug in it. But no, he chose the violent, messy, loud method. Though maybe there's a reason... like, perhaps, the cawing of the raven on his shoulder, her crowing sounding much like laughter?
Well, on the one hand, Testament isn't worried about being sprayed with blood. Wouldn't be the first time, and it probably won't be the last, either. But he's in a fancy suit! That's going to absolutely ruin it, isn't it?! No, as it turns out... it isn't. Testament pauses, looking down at the suit as if only just realizing he got stuff on it. It oddly looks like a child who didn't realize his play session was going to be quite so messy. He raises a hand up, palm pointing at the ground, and the blood from his suit just seems drawn to it, wicking away without leaving a drop on his clothes. He sort of 'drops' it on the ground.
Kotal's vaporizing of the screaming thug gets another fit of cawing laughter from the raven on Testament's shoulder. The Gear smirks in response, and reaches up to stroke the bird's feathers. As Kotal makes the deal with the man, Testament looks to 'Mariko'. "I could see that was hardly a challenge for you, but I ask for politeness-- are you still OK?" And then he realizes that Kotal is looking at them both. Ultimately he defers to Kitana here, turning his gaze back to her in question. Though he does offer his opinion on the matter, "That's a pretty fair sum for this area. A good place to start, if nothing else."
"And I get the feeling the good sir is reluctant to pull any more shenanigans...?" Slooooooowly he turns to look at the man with the mask, removing his sunglasses so those red-pupiled eyes can be seen. Just to let the man know that no, he's not normal. He has the eyes of a hunter. And the mad smile he pulls does not help that look AT ALL
Kitana is grateful at last for the thug being released from his torment. More because the noise preyed on and damaged her calm and it was difficult to focus on what was being said. With the general executing the last intruder himself and restoring some semblance of quiet and order she is actually relieved.
Her sidelong glance at the earthrealmer who was seemly cooing or adoring the bird on his shoulder who had also be loudly cawing and animated during the deaths but seemingly uninterested in the presence of carrion as food. Detestable little thing in that death appealed to it but not as food or sustenance. Unless it were somehow related to that mouth which had been consuming the thug. She only knew enough to be cautious, not enough to make value judgements.
The negotiations proceeding well she also seemingly can make no sense of the value in kurrency they were discussing. How much and what could a 'million' purchase and was the little puissant here worth leaving alive AND trusting enough that this 'down payment' was an acceptable term.
She must defer for lack of her own experience.
"Unharmed - but irritated by pointless hold ups."
The words are crisp and icy yet sail in the direction of the merchant. In Outworld, She may simply have killed all concerned and taken only the koin she needed in proper payment. She had no interest in being a common or petty thief or risked damaging her reputation with a quick and easy betrayal. Payment for what goods were worth! If a pretender playing at being a merchant couldn't even do that?
For all her noble thoughts, blood droplets fall around her feet from the concealed blades while the spreading pool behind her finally reaches her heels.
Kotal seems satisfied with the response from his fellows. Truth be told, he is proficient enough with Earthrealm currency in comparison to that of Outworld Koin to know that two million dollars plus insolence for assaulting a royal tax was more than enough for the Edenian artifact. However, the implication here was that should they accept the dealer's money and return later for what was promised to them meant that they would have to deal with the trader again. Kotal wanted to make sure that his companions were willing to walk this road with him. These will be the first steps for Earthrealm domination after all.
"Acceptable." Says the Outworld General who then turns to the vendor to take the suitcase and slide the artifact towards him. "We shall return tomorrow for what was promised to us. And as my associate here wisely wishes to remind you.." Kotal motions towards the grinning Testament. "No more tricks now." Yes, always do legit business when dealing with Outworlders. Their retribution for even attempting at being double crossed is always swift and almost certainly absurdly brutal. One only needs to see the remains of the two Mad Gear thugs to remind themselves of that.
With trembling nod and a stutter, the dealer agrees with the transaction letting Kotal and his entourage be off if they so wish it.
Cortez then turns to the two with a satisfied whilst carrying the suitcases. "Aah, I do love shopping sometimes."
"Now then, I do believe we have more than what we need to find Mariko some suitable attires."
"I'm thinking.. the mall will serve our purposes well."
"Indeed." This to the mention of being irritated. Testament offers a nod to Kitana, one of agreement to her words. With the death calmed down the bird calms as well, and sits quietly on Testament's shoulder. the Gear, too, remains quiet for the time being, now that he's contributed his two cents to the business dealings. However, when Kotal indicates him, that grin comes back, and he focuses it on the masked merchant. His smile is one of barely restrained madness, as if he's just WAITING for Kotal to say the word and let him tear the man in the mask apart, feed him to those creatures he summoned.
The transaction goes off without a hitch, and Testament has the audacity to BOW to the masked merchant, as if he's just concludes a perfectly normal business deal and hadn't just summoned a demon from God only knows where to bite off one the legs of one of the merchant's minions. "Pleasure doing business with you," he even adds. The GALL! But yes. He follows along with Kotal, noting the suggestion for some clothing for 'Mariko'. He nods. "There are quite a few ladies' clothiers in the mall. Though I suggest comfort over style. They don't make ladies' clothing for fighting in under most circumstances.
So that was how it was. This fool would escape with his life in exchange for further payment. There was relief that the man still had some utility. Unlike her sister she makes no further display of force or aggression to incentivise holding to arrangement. If people chose to remember these events relating to this time and place or her actions would remain fuzzier or less distinct. They would instead probably choose to remember her companions, or roughly what was said.
Blending into and becoming a part of the background was something she practiced. In the courts surrounded by contrasts which facilitated it, silks and leathers, beauty and ugliness. The Princess Kitana was quiet and still, like were a fixture or piece of art there to be appreciated. A stance that if she held long enough people high or low usually did not note well enough to commit to memory.
How she moved and where she was when things were spoken of. On a very long timescale it was a measured approach to applying camouflage. Use everything going on around her to draw attention away.
The business was done, Kotal taking the cases that were offered as payment while 'Schwarz' offers them a mad grin and mocking bow. It's reminiscent of how Mileena might choose to act, though picturing her own face smiling as Testament did right now might settle the question of why her sister never removed her mask. Seeing such a look on the face they shared would have unsettled her no end. The mannerism was just familiar enough to remind her of her sister; that was all. Her sister was twisted but surely not actually mad.
'Mariko' takes lead position to escort them out, with a demon summoning mage carefully watching the pacified crowd there was little chance of trouble inside. 'Cortez' carrying bags of indeterminate weight that probably wouldn't affect his ability to fight but would affect his ability to react at first its she who takes the initiative to leave first.
Her first few steps leaving bloody spots where the heels of her boots set down as she makes her way outside and scouts the exterior for any new or further threats that were awaiting them. There's no dangers she can initially see, but perhaps that pained screaming of Testaments victim had encouraged others to look away. Waiting for the others she asks a simple question as they take their leave.
"What is a Mall?"
Log created on 20:24:07 08/08/2016 by Kotal, and last modified on 22:43:59 08/17/2016.