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Intimidation Tactics [Quest: Nanezgani]

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#1Booker 

on Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:59 am

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Almost to spite Autumn, or to spite Booker himself, the day was sweltering, and the man was eager to get to his quest's rendezvous, if just to escape the heat. He was still a bit green to Oak Town, and was constantly craning his neck back and forth, looking for the bar in which he was supposed to meet his client for the day, another contact worth knowing for the future.

“Wow!” A child’s voice yelled behind Booker’s stride, “that’s a cool dog you’ve got there!”

A familiar mewling met the boy’s compliment, and Booker turned to see his snow vulpix bending down to receive some gentle petting from an eager young kid, with another keen to butt in and scratch behind the animal’s ears.

Well, his contact could wait. Booker squatted down, meeting the eyeline of the two young kids. They were dressed a bit ragged, clearly they’d spent much of their day playing around in mud and grass. “Thanks, that’s a snow vulpix, she’s a pretty girl, ain’t she?”

The first kid nodded, “What’s her name?”

“Doesn’t exactly have one,”
Booker said. “Maybe you could help me decide?” In truth, there was no name because it wasn’t the Beastmaster’s policy to just give his animals names. Most didn’t tend to stick around long enough to warrant something like that. But, there was no reason two innocent kids needed to be in on that secret.

“Oh! How about Snowy?!”

“That’s lame!” his friend accused, “She needs a cool name, like Avalauncher!”

“What?”

Booker grinned a bit at their little debate. Little moments like these were useful. They helped him remember why he did what he did. It was his life’s work to protect the next generation, the youths like these. But, if they knew how he was going about his work, Booker wondered what their reaction might be.

“Where’d you get her, mister?”

The question broke him out of his thoughts. “Truth is, I’m a guild wizard, she helps me with my important missions.”

The pair gasped in admiration. “What guild?!”

“I wanna join a guild when I get older!”

“As if!”

Booker tugged on his cloak, drawing it down from his neck to reveal the Phantom Lord mark on his chest.

This stunned the two into silence. Clearly, they recognized the logo, but Booker answered the question all the same. “I’m in Phantom Lord.”

“You’re a criminal!”

“Ah,” Booker replied, doing his best to sound disappointed. He stood up straight, towering over the pair, who looked a mix of fear and determination. “I thought I had you kids pegged as a bit smarter than that.”

“Just what’s that supposed to mean?!”


“Who says I’m a criminal? Who says I’m bad? Huh? I certainly think I’m a pretty good guy, so does Snowy here,” he gestured to the beast, trying to distract from the animal’s faint flinch at his hand moving towards her. “I joined Phantom Lord because I want to change this country.

“Don’t you kids think it’s lame that people have to buy protection? That they have to trade in their work to be safe? It’s not right,”
he resolutely announced. “People should rely on themselves for protection. They should be all that’s counted on. Because, in the end, you’re the only one that matters.

“I want to change this nation. I can’t do that by being a part of its endless cogs and old farts on the council. Because sometimes, to do the right thing, you have to walk in the dark just a bit. I wanna shake up this nation, fix it from the ground up.”

“I don’t really get it…” one of the kids admitted.

Booker smiled, hiding his disappointment, “It’s alright, kid. Just think about my words the next time somebody tells you what’s right and what’s wrong, and try to remember you can decide things for yourself. Alright?”

The kids nodded. There was still some pretty clear fear present on their expressions. But, instead of absolute resentment, there was a kind of reflection and deep thought playing out as well.

They were about to walk off, but Booker stopped them again, remembering why he was subjecting himself to the afternoon heat at all. “You wouldn’t happen to know where the Auditorium Pub is, would you?”

Dim and refreshingly cool. Booker Nanezgani walked into the bar, receiving a couple of stares at the entrance. Most of them returned to whatever drink or conversation or game they’d been trained on before, but one stayed focused on Booker, waving the man over.

“A little tardy, you know?”

“I’m new to Oak,” Booker admitted, setting Snowy down on the wooden counter they were meeting in front of. “So, where is your troublesome little delinquent?”

Frankie Marino appreciated the wizard’s straightforward business. Maybe it would be worth it to deal with these spellslingers. “He runs a shop called West Avenue Trinkets. All I need is a promise that he’ll pay up by Friday.”

“And you’re fine if things get a little violent?” Booker had heard of the guy a bit before meeting him. Second in command of a big underworld family, loyal, and he liked being treated with respect. It was pretty easy to find the guy’s sweet spots, just keep asking questions and make him feel like he’s in charge of the situation at all times. It puts a guy like this Frankie at ease.

The estimation was accurate, and Frankie appreciated being asked, especially by a third party employee. “Nothing too visible. You’re scaring the guy, not putting him out of business.”

Booker nodded politely, just a businessman hammering out the details. “I’ll be back by the end of the day with your promise.”

Returning Snowy to his shoulder and re-emerging into the sunshine, the day’s work had officially begun. All Booker had to do now was figure out where West Avenue was. Maybe there were more kids who had the information?

Not finding any other adolescent informants, Booker was forced to explore Oak Town for almost an hour until he finally came upon the shop. Irate and tired, he harshly swung open the door, immediately looking for his target. Luckily, the guy found him first.

“Can I help you?”

“Let’s hope so,” Booker replied, locking the door behind him. “I’ve heard you owe some money to Mr. Tessio. He’d like to know you’ll be making good on your payments.”

The middle-aged shopkeeper flew into a rage at Tessio’s name. “I won’t pay those sharks a thing! Their rates are ludicrous.”

“I understand,” Booker replied. “And, I think it’s ridiculous people fly off the handle for just a bit of Jewel. You guys are all nuts to go foaming at the mouth over this crap,” he let Snowy down onto the store counter between Booker and the shopkeep.

“But, this is another page in my story, guy. Do you want to be an antagonist today? Wouldn’t you rather help out the hero?”

“What the hell are you talking about?! Get out of my shop! Tell that Tessio to talk to me himself if he wants his money!”

“Mister?”

That voice came from behind Booker for the second time that day. He looked around to see that ragged kid from earlier, cleaned up a bit and wearing an apron to match the shopkeeper’s.

“Oh, geez.”


“What? Your business has nothing to do with him! Roland, you walk away, right now.”

“No. No, Roland, I think you should see this.”

The shopkeeper lost his nerve at the boy being bossed around, throwing a haphazard fist over the counter. Booker managed to stop it, overpowering the guy to pin his hand to the counter. “This is what I was talking about, Roland! This guy’s been brainwashed by our Magic Council. By our government! It’s money that’s pushing this guy to attack another man without provocation!

“Now, tell me, Roland, does your boss write with his left hand? Or his right?”


Roland was beyond scared, and through the protests of the shopkeep, he answered the dark wizard’s question, “R-right hand.”

Booker looked down at the left palm he’d pinned onto the counter. “Perfect. Icy Wind!”

Like a machine, Snowy responded, breathing a steady stream of cold wind onto the man’s perfectly still hand, earning a guttural scream from the shopkeeper.

“Amputation would be one son of a bitch here, mister! Give me your word, and my girl lets up!”


Roland watched on in horror as the man and animal he’d admired only earlier that afternoon were putting his uncle through this kind of punishment. Was this what the wizard was talking about? What was right about what he was doing here? He wished for the screaming to stop, clamping down onto his ears to drown out the noise.

“Okay! Okay! I’ll pay him! I will!”


“Stop, Snowy, stop!”

The snow vulpix concluded her spell. The shopkeeper’s hand was wrapped in frost and trembled as the man tried to pick it off the counter, tears in his eyes. Roland calmed down, breathing heavily, but relieved to see everybody was okay.

“Now,” Booker said, “If I could just get that in writing.”

Finding the Auditorium Pub was far quicker the second time around. Again, a collection of eyeballs spotted him and returned with one exception. It didn’t look like this Frankie guy had budged an inch since Booker had left. Was this shopkeeper really so important?

“How’d it go?” Frankie asked, straight to business with him again.

Booker pulled the note out, handing over the shopkeeper’s hastily drawn contract. “He agreed to pay up by Friday, I doubt he’ll be tardy again.”

“That’s what I like to hear!”
Frankie clapped the mage on his back. “I’ll admit, I was nervous about some hermit taking up the job, but that’s not bad at all. You want a drink? You’re not going anywhere, right?”

The last thing Booker wanted was a night of acting friendly with a gangster. But, to keep the integrity of this contact afloat, it seemed that was the only option. “Sure, why not? As long as you’re buying!”

Frankie laughed at the joke, clapping the mage on his back again. Booker was disgusted with himself for even having to pretend to say something like that, but it was all for the sake of his story. Even the little things like this. A glass of something strong was passed his way, and while one job had finished, it seemed like the day was far from over.


WC: 1743 / 1000

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