M Grooming The Hound

Sandor Clegane

The Hound
Level 3
Sep 17, 2021
Mesa Roja
Click Here
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“You ain’t gotta be an asshole about everything, you know.”

The Hound took a drink. Blood red wine dribbled a rivulet over his cracked lower lip, then etched a swatch of rouge down the creases and folds of his scorched earth face thereafter.

He mopped the cuff of a sleeve across his chin.

“If you don’t want me to be an arsehole, you ought to learn how to use less words,” Sandor growled in response. “Say what you mean. I don’t need a speech.”

Pimordeus shook his head wearily.

They sat in the confines of a dimly lit pavilion, lamp light guttering between them.

Lord Clegane’s chair was an ornate affair, high-backed, and lined with velvet dyed yellow. The arms of the chair culminated in the intricately detailed likenesses of snarling hounds. Another hound, baring its teeth in fury, rose up at the peak of the chair’s back. The carved wood of the chair was onyx. The wood and the fabric together composed themselves in the colors of House Clegane.

Pimordeus sat on a wooden stool with one wobbly leg.

The burnt orange glow of the lantern cast the Hound’s frightening countenance in a grim topography. He was Jekyll and Hyde: half of his face’s ruination contrasted the handsome other flip-side. The left half of his face, a horror of burn scar, reached up into his scalp where the withered fingers left bald skin in their wake across an annexation of his hairline.

Pimordeus, frowning, wondered if he’d ever grow used to looking at that face everyday. Working for that face. Serving it.

Sandor Clegane was as drunk as, well, a Lord, which was fitting since that’s what they’d styled him.

His behavior, on the other hand, was not Lordly in the way Pi had hoped it would be. Rough around the edges, crude, and volatile; Sandor Clegane was not the first pole he may have chosen to hitch his flag to. He was, however, the only pole available, and now was not the time to lament the decision.

“Alright, go on, then,” The Hound commanded, waving his hand in a gesture that was frustratingly dismissive.

The Tiefling frowned again.

“Right. Well, I ain’t gonna say this twice, so…”

His eyes, luminously white and without pupils in the way of his race, searched Sandor’s face. He found mild disinterest coupled with mounting disdain. Pimordeus decided he would plow on regardless.

He planted a long, crimson finger on a blueprint rolled out across the wooden table. The blueprint shone in the flickering lamplight. He wondered if his Lord was seeing double of it, or triple.

“Vibroblade,” Pi stated, smiling and mantling the style of a man at a sales pitch. “Just like your normal blade, you know, but better. Way. Fuckin’. Better.”

He traced his finger along the white lines of the blade schematic: it was a hand-and-a-half sword, double-sided, vicious, and simply designed.

“Valyrian steel with a button on the hilt. When you press it, the blades vibrate at an ultra high-frequency that gives the sword the ability to cut using micro-explosions. It can carve through anything.”

“I like my own fucking blade,” the Hound grunted, infuriatingly reductive.

Pi’s eye twitched.

“It’ll feel exactly like a normal blade, but it’ll give you the power to rip right through reinforced plate - you could tear a gash in a tank’s armor with this bad boy. It ain’t anything to turn your nose up at, I’ll tell ya that.”

Seeing that his right hand man was not about to relent, The Hound grunted.

“Alright. Just do the fuckin’ thing. Vibroblade, eh? I’m trying to fight out there, not bugger myself in the arse.”

“You could do either with this thing,” Pimordeus japed with a smirk. One of his pointed canines poked out over his thin lips. “Now, let’s take a look at the next order of business.”

“Next order of business!?” Lord Clegane slammed his mug down, splashing wine, and scowled over it. “I thought you said we only had one order of business.”

“I did not say that,” Pimordeus said, standing his ground. That's what his position was in this relationship, after all, fine a line as it was to walk. “I did not say that even once.”

Sandor grumbled indistinctly, picked his mug back up, and leaned back in his chair. He kissed the lip of his tankard, sipping his wine, which was as close as the man ever got to a state of agreement.

Pi nodded graciously.

“Alright, then. Next up we have…the armor,” he pointed at the section of the blueprint detailing the concept, clear white lines against a blue backdrop. “This thing is a real piece of work. Valyrian steel chainmail for, uh…casual wear, as per your request…”

The Hound nodded, his expression placid, but teeming with the promise of explosive anger at any moment. The Tiefling subordinate felt a prickle of discomfort. The very air itself felt tense, the way it does when a man is waiting for the other shoe to drop.i

“The real piece de resistance is the plate. Take a look at this son of a bitch. The plate itself is woven with nano-tech that generates a fucking forcefield upon impact. The forcefield itself is like a lacquer, so you won’t be assed with accounting for it in your movements. We do know how you don’t like to be assed with such things.

“The shield is made up of much the same. Gone are the days when a man’s shield is constructed of wood over cloth over hide: this baby is nano-tech through and through. I bet this fucker could stop a .50 cal. Probably. …hopefully.

“Then there’s the helm, of course. Same ol’ snarling dog, the way you like it, teched out to keep that noggin fresh. Can’t have you getting scrambled like an egg. Where there was a gap for your face, before, now we’ve gotten a nano-weave. It feels and looks like nothing, but it’ll stop a bullet in its tracks. Or a sword. As long as it’s not a vibroblade, anyway.

Sandor’s face remained unchanged, fierce but melancholic all at once. That was good. It meant he wasn’t opposed.

“The joints of the armor are reinforced with hydraulics to prevent hindered movements, and those are also woven with reinforced nano-tech to prevent any strikes to your delicate areas. If there were any areas of you that might be considered delicate. I have my doubts.

“The only thing that’ll make it feel any differently than regular plate mail is that you won’t feel the drag of it when you move; since you already avoid wearing plate for that exact reason, this might give you some incentive to don it for the big fights. And, maybe, outside of them?”

Sandor’s mouth turned down, threatening to open up and spew a tirade of curses. There was only a moment to act. Pimordeus moved to cut him off.

“You are a Lord, after all, and if we’re going to host a Tourney, you’re going to have to look the part. That means keeping the temper in check and looking Lordly. I’ll make the speeches, but you’ll need to at least…” he looked Sandor over, drinking in the threat of violence that rolled off of him in intangible waves. “Stay docile. Play the host.”

“Fackin’ mummers’ farce,” spat The Hound, the unburnt half of his face flushing red. “How long is this buggered shite going to last?”

Pimordeus shook his head.

“Could be a couple of days. Might go as long as a week. We need to solidify your claim, potentially do some recruiting-”

The Hound groaned audibly, a guttural sound with a strangled quality to it.

“...and the joust needs to happen, as well as the melee. The attendees will want to celebrate before, after, and in between it all, as well. You know how these, er, festivities go. You’ve been a part of enough of them at this point.”

A silence fell between them, punctuated only by the frequent slurping report of Lord Clegane swilling his wine.

Finally, after a long and uncomfortable lapse, the massive knight waved a hand of dismissal.

“Fine. Do whatever the fuck you need, but take your leave of me. I care little and less for all of this, you know. I’d rather just take the fucking castle and be done with the whole bloody business,” he snarled, his eyes twinkling darkly. “Buy the sword, armor, whatever the fuck, and be done with it, but make sure you’ve put aside enough coin for the drink.”

“And the feast,” added Pi.

“Bugger the feast,” Sandor clapped back. After a moment he added. “...bah, bugger it all. Spend what you will. …fuckin’ devilry. Fuckin’ rogue devil. Grimy fuckin’ bastard.”

Pimordeus smirked, looking every bit the part of a devil, from his angled horns to his red skin to his long tail.

“As you say, m’lord.”

He bowed, turned, then took his leave of his Lord. There were coins to be counted, gear to be purchased, events to be arranged, mounts to be procured…a frightful amount left yet undone, and not a lot of time to do it. They’d be making their announcements soon.

Pimordeus searched the tents, a veritable city of them, it felt, for Celipa. He’d need a steady hand at his side for this, and a trustworthy face. He was possessed of one, certainly, but lacked the other.

Sandor Clegane

The Hound
Level 3
Sep 17, 2021
Mesa Roja
Click Here
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“Pi! Yo, Pi! Have you seen this thing!?”

Pimordeus stood at the lip of an enormous pit. It was a giant concave experiment in architecture: it stretched the length and width of a football field but with none of the trappings that made a football field extravagant. There were no markings on its floor of hard-packed Earth, and its walls were paneled in the simplest wooden frame. The stands were yet to be erected, which reminded the Tiefling of how much work was left to do.

It was, however, remarkably even. At all sides the walls stood ten feet if they were an inch.

It was a delightful bit of architecture steeped in human suffering. His guild’s suffering, specifically. Pimordeus’ men had spent an immense amount of time putting this together.

Within the depths of the pit stood a woman. Pi was a figure on one end of the structure gazing in, while Celipa stood at what would’ve otherwise been the fifty yard line, were it a structure of a different sort.

“I’ve seen it,” Pi called back, throwing his gravel-on-gravel voice for all it was worth to cover the gap in distance.

“WHAT!?” she called back, cupping her hands over her mouth.

“I said…you know what? JUST COME OVER HERE!”

The woman, a speck, suddenly flared. An aura of vibrant crimson erupted from her feet, swept the length of her body, and licked out at the air around her. In an instant she surged through the air and grew in his sight: an ant, to a beetle, to a cat, to a dog, to a human in perspective. It all happened in a second and a half. She was fast. Very fast.

The aura of Celipa’s Kaioken died off. She floated, upside-down and cross-legged as if in zero gravity, nearly nose to nose with Pimordeus.

She was a short woman, but she had shoulders like a bull-dog, and a good natured ferrety face with a small upturned nose. Her hair, hanging straight up from her inverted position, was a deep brown that wanted to be black, which she kept short in the way of a warrior. One part of it was done up into a thin braid that decorated an otherwise unkempt shock, while the other side of her scalp was shaved along the side. She wore a device over the ear of the shaved side, which wrapped a small metal arm around her face, planting a rose tinted glass lens over one of her beatle black eyes.

Celipa wore navy blue tights that found their way into a pair of white combat boots. Over her torso she wore tank-top style Saiyan armor underneath which only a sleeveless shirt, also navy blue, separated her skin from the reinforced plating. A monkey’s tail sprouted from a little knockout around her tailbone, which wrapped its way around her waist like a belt.

She poked Pimordeus on the nose.

“This thing is rad,” she informed him, grinning. “I’m going to crush some butts in that bad boy.”

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Pi grimaced, reeling back from her. “It’s…pretty damn unsettling.”

“Do what?”

“That-” he gestured at her, floating there upside-down. “-that whole thing that you do. With the aura, and the flying…it…it ain’t normal.”

She flipped around and landed softly on the ground in front of him. She stood a head and shoulders shorter than the Tiefling.

“It's normal where I come from,” the Saiyaness stated matter-of-factly.

“Wherever the fuck that is,” growled Pi. “Listen. I need you to quit fooling around. His Lordship’s got a lot of business what wants doing, and I’m gonna need your help. Need some muscle.”

He looked her over. She had muscle, sure, but she was small; he knew, however, that her power did not lie in her size. Wherever Celipa had come from, she was another breed of power. That aura of hers, the Kaioken, could grant her outrageous speed and strength in bursts, and her talent in a fist fight was unrivaled. …not to mention the weird-ass energy blasts and shit she could do. He was wary of her, but her demeanor was off-puttingly endearing, so it was like dealing with a hedgehog or something.

“Muscle, eh?” she winked at him from behind the pink lens of her scouter. “Little Pi needs a some extra manpower? …yeah, alright. I’m your gal. Let’s fucking do it.”

She shifted her weight back and forth restlessly.

“I’m down. Let’s go. What do you need to do?”

Pi’s already thin lips drew thinner.

“Calm down, would you? I ain’t got the energy to deal with all of that. We’re just taking the crew into town with a couple of wagons, picking up some ale, some grog, and some wine. I guess we ought to work on some catering, too. Lord knows he won’t appreciate it, but a certain degree of decorum is expected for this sort of thing. Capon, pease porridge for the commonfolk, some extravagancies…”

Pi trailed off, noticing that Celipa’s eyes were focused on a point to the right of his head. A classic technique, if a person isn’t paying attention. As someone well versed in the social graces, the Tiefling picked up on the tell immediately.

“You’re not listening.”

Her eyes snapped back to him rapt at attention.

“He’s gonna let me into the melee, right? I can’t wait to crack some skulls. I’ve been working on this thing-”

Pi gave a harsh clear of his throat.

“Seriously. Calm down. This is for them, alright? Not for you. If you step into the melee, you’re going to have to show some restraint.”

She did her best to show some restraint, she really did, but she was practically vibrating in place.

“...maybe it’s best if you don’t.”

“WHAT!?” Celipa exploded, flinging her hands to the side. “If I can’t stretch my legs then what do you-”

“Calm. Down,” Pi commanded. “...I’ll put in a word. If you can keep yourself under control, maybe we’ll let you bash a skull or two during the melee.”

She brightened, flipping her braid back.

“I should say so,” the Saiyaness remarked flippantly. “After all I’ve done for you.”

She pivoted, and looked out over the arena dramatically.

“Wonder what this thing will be like full of people. What do you think we’ll get? Five? Ten? Twenty? ONE HUNDRED?”

Pi stepped up beside her and looked at the arena.

“I ‘onno. If we get a dozen folks who are serious about it, we can fill in the rest with thugs, I think. We’ll see.”
Jun 20, 2022
Erde Nona
Bubba and Quinnie sat on their horses within the middle of the forest of dead trees.

"They're even working by night to get this thing started, you can hear them." Said the smaller figure, pulling back her traveling cloak from her head for a better listen. Her flaxen, braided mohawk visible in the moonlight.

"I just can't believe the nerve of this fucking bastard. Using the coin he has brought in from terrorizing the countryside and inviting us all to rub it in our faces? I just say we get close without even entering, then cut off the head of the snake- or mountain, or whatever that freak of nature styles his rapist ass as…" the voice of the woman's companion and brother came out in a twangy and bassy voice, but it was soothing and calm enough to not disturb whatever wretched and dead place they found themselves.

"We could, but the darndest thing is, I would like to go home after this. I signed on to watch your back, little brother. Just a few days of getting your ass kicked around as we figure out what is actually even happening here. Ok?" Quinn said, in that stern but agreeable tone she could always muster that always worked to make people at the very least, very much consider.

"Yeah, you're not wrong." Bubba said distractedly and sighed, looking around the half broken or stark white and barren trees. It had been good to come up through the forest, and even seeing the works happening from the edge of the forest line this afternoon still did not quell their disbelief.

The works they had seen being erected were coming along, but the big shock was the number of workers. A sea of small tents and canvas pavilions were closest to the house seat and all worked seemingly without end to get it completed in time. That was some serious coffers, and Clegane was not known to care too much about the coin when marauding.

They siblings listened to the silence of the forest and the vespertine workers doing their jobs in moonlight and flame in the distance.

"Probably about time to go meet Twilight by the pond…” Bubba said, looking at the moon rising ever so slightly in the sky, "...it's almost the hour of the owl".

"He's been here for a bit now. He thinks he is clever, or worse…sneaky. But you aren't either, are you, Twilight "? Quinn laughed at the last part as she turned her mare towards her left.

From the right came the familiar swaggering voice of their scout, Twilight.

A sauntering large panther-like Tabaxi came out from hiding behind a broken trunk, long frozen in death. "Lady Quinn, you have got some ears on you, damn. You were close though, Arbiter's truth. You two wanna see. The abso-LUTE biggest pond you have seen in a minute? It is a damn sight to behold. We seem to be the first one's here, so you know, old Twilight wouldn't mind some comfort for once with you two."

The siblings looked at each other, then both to their scout who was packing a pipe that lit up their tiny circle amidst the sprawling showing their features to each other with every puff he took to get the tobacco going.

Twilight could know exactly what both were thinking just by their countenance. He read their faces in that brief red glow, even though his eyes and the moon were well enough for the task.

Lady Quinn had her brows furrowed at him with the coy smile she always played with at the corner of her mouth. She was more of a rogue than he could ever hope to be, and she knew he knew it.

Ser William Charles Bentley III 'The Knight of Smiles' had a variety and he was showing his impish side and raising an eyebrow as only one corner of his mouth flexed his large lips showing the half of big white teeth.

"Sounds like I might have a chance, let me show you two on, then. Come on, ya'll." Twilight led them through an old horse path with his keener sight in the dark. Through the trees was easy enough to navigate as all the brush and undergrowth had left long ago, and only packed and cracked earth remained behind.

After a short ride, they came out of the treeline and beheld a shockingly lush and fertile area, in complete juxtaposition to what lay just behind them. The sprawling vegetation of bushes and trees filled with berries and fruits, that lead the small way to the massive pond that shone its brilliant clear blue waters, still and calm against the light of the moon.

"This is where the big dogs gonna be setting up, no doubt about that. Look at this place…I doubt you'll find any hedge knights here, or even anyone from a smaller house…" Twilight looked at his two charges who were scanning the area immediately and taking it all in just as Twilight had done hours before. "Here, over this way, come on now, let's get on getting…" and he took them a short distance away to a spot on the other end of the shoreline, where the rocks of the beach gave way more and more to soft earth and lush moss. It looked like a sieve, the way the widow’s peak of dead trees came to a point that started the beginning of the point of very much living trees and overgrowth that led to the water. "Best seat in the house it seems. It'll let me sneak in and out into the forest, and nobody can move past our backs, everyone will have to go back around the long way if they come round here. Only have to worry about one set of neighbors…eh? Not too bad if I do say so myself. Thank the Arbiters you two are from an old house with a rich history, and we have 'The Knight of Smiles' with us to boot! Hoo hoo, Twilight has outdone himself this time, amIright?" The Tabaxi finally finished and put a hand on his hip, looking at the pre-selected area and puffing on his pipe, looking very proud of himself.

It was an amazing location but Lady Quinn still seemed nervous. "We aren't the flashy types, Twilight. If the larger houses are here, I am sure they will want everyone to look the part of wasted wealth for the sake of vanity…"

"Yeah, so you're not out of the woods yet, Twilight. I saw a lot of great places within the forest and away from prying eyes that we could set up camp. Nobody would dare stop us from using this water source once they saw our sigil would they"? Bubba added, getting down from his horse and going to the water's edge to get a closer look. He peered in the clear waters, and laughed his hearty infectious laugh when a small fish broke the surface in front of him with a jump.

"Listen here you two, we don't do tournaments. It's a big deal. Regardless of our own reasons behind it, it would do well when we are in public arenas so to speak, to actually look the fucking part of a Lord and Lady. You come from a very respected house and I won't have you camping in the fucking woods like some damn hedge knights…"

"Nothing wrong with a hedge knight…some of our best friends are hedge knights." Bubba retorted.

"Yeah, and they'd give their left nut or tit for this spot, and for what old Twilight setup for you two ingrates…" The walking panther-like man said, taking off his black short rimmed farmer's hat and squatting near a bush to inspect some berries.

"Oh no, what did you do you cat-bastard…" Quinn groaned as her younger brother only laughed again as he listened and splashed fresh water onto his head.

"Well, first and foremost we won't be the only ones here for long. Word has gotten out. You saw how many workers they have here…here's the kicker…all thieves guild. Damn near almost three hundred of them. I recognized damn near half of them and the other half probably owe me money. Any guess who's leading them"?

"Who"? Both House Bentley heirs asked in unison, offhandedly and without giving their old friend the satisfaction of being eager for the secrets he held.

"Fucking Pi. Yeah, yeah, I see that look on your faces, that beautiful Tiefling bastard has the whole damn guild out here breaking their backs putting this shindig together. They have the melee pit near complete and I saw them erecting a giant tent for what must be the feast…they are even already setting up the early parts for the jousting…how about that eh?" And Twilight's eyes twinkled as he searched their faces by moonlight for validation.

They gave none, because that was funny to them.

Quinnie broke the purposeful awkward silence.

"Why would Pi be in cahoots with a piece of shit like Clegane? It doesn't make any sense…I can't figure it out. We are missing something, Bubba. Something big."

"Yeah, I think that too." Bubba said, letting out a chuckle, "But by the way he's over there smiling at us, I don't think he's done with what else he knows…" Bubba finished and sat on a log, smiling at his companions and took out a beautiful leather tobacco pouch and packed his own pipe after smelling Twilight's aromatic smoke downwind.

"Well, regardless I still think setting up here is a bad idea. What if we need a quick getaway? What if Bubba gets close to Clegane and does something dumb? In the woods we can have everything broken down and moved out on a moment's notice." Quinn said, tossing her braided ponytail off her shoulder back to between the blades of her slender but strong built shoulders. She took out her own pipe, and started to pack it, joining the other two.

"Well, I didn't want to bury the lead…but the best part…it's not Clegane!" Twilight said, letting his shit eating grin sparkle against the light of the pale moon above. "Well it is, but it isn't The Mountain- it's The Hound! The Hound is throwing this!" And Twilight let out a hearty laugh "Ooh hoo, babies I bet you didn't see that coming. Now I don't feel bad planning so far ahead."

"What do you mean?" Both siblings said in unison, Quinn with her furrowed brow, and Bubba with the smile of curiosity on his lips.

"Well I got our weavers union to cook up something really beautiful. I may have also taken the liberty to ask for volunteers from some other unions to come and help set up. We got carpenters, weavers, blacksmiths, farriers…the whole lot. A righteous fucking retinue. Everyone was very eager to show the greatness of our River kingdom and to help out the pride of House Bentley.

Both siblings stared in shock as Twilight continued. "Everyone is staged about two miles south of here, waiting for the signal to come and get set up. I would let my daggers turn to rust before I would let the two of you come unprepared, and faded into the background. Not our house! Not you two. Your parents would never ask the unions to do something so frivolous but it's my mètier. Bubba, you just worry about your own specialty and kick some ass." Twilight spoke with a firmness of pride that Quinn and Bubba both shared for the honor of their house. As did every person within their community.

"So why the Hound? Isn't he a mercenary? What's he doing? What could possibly be the reason?" Quinn asked, always the thinker, the planner, the strategist.

"Who knows, but now I have a reason of my own now to do well in the lists…get myself known. Integrate and ingratiate myself enough to find out what we need to know and why The Mountain is away while the Hound plays." Bubba said smirking, and went to his horse, patting the long and finely wrapped item that was strapped to his mount.

"First thing is first, I'll double-time it to the crew waiting- you go and announce yourselves. Ask permission to get set up, and by the time you get back here, I can assure you…our unions can put together something a lot faster than Pi's thieves guild. It'll be a nice surprise, for all of us. Been too long since House Bentley got to show Mesa Roja what we are made of in a tournament for the ages." Twilight did not wait for a response, just tapped out his pipe on his boot and made off the way they had come.

The siblings stood in silence for a moment before Bubba spoke.

"...He could have at least shown us the way back out of the forest…"

"Eh. We will be alright, just follow the sounds of construction." Quinnie replied as they both hoisted themselves up into their saddles from their stirrups.

"Well, sweet Quinnie bear…let's go announce ourselves, for the glory of our house…and honor?" Bubba said, laughing and rolling his eyes. "That fucking cat didn't get us all dressed up for nothing."

And they made their way towards the seat of House Clegane.