Dwarf in the Playground
Join Date: Dec 2006
The British Empire
Favour Bargain (Peach)
Favour Bargain [Special]
The first time it had happened, the terms had been simple. Puss had promised him riches, title and glory, asking only for his life in return. The miller's son had flourished by his aid, swift becoming the fabled Marquis de Carabas and favoured son in law of the king. He had promised Puss a grand funeral in return for his loyal service, yet when Puss feigned death to test his master's loyalty he found himself thrown into a heap of rubbish. Enraged at this betrayal, the cat left to wander at his own fortune. The young Marquis, however, failed to learn that one should never deceive a deceiver.
"A favour, good Marquis," Puss chimed over his flute of champagne, not a trace of anger or regret in his purr. If anything, his tone seemed playful as he picked at the sauteed mouse upon his plate.
"That is all you ask?" the young Marquis breathed with a hint of relief, mopping his brow and looking out over the manor gardens, resplendent with their carefully pruned hedges and the fountain of alabaster cherubs. The sun was high, casting brilliant daylight from a clear blue sky and making vibrant the floral displays in the courtyard below. The cat had done well for himself in the last few years. "A favour is nothing. Of course!" He paused, his teeth crawling over his lower lip in that way they always did when he felt concerned. "You are certain your potion will win her affections?"
"My dear Marquis," Puss purred, "when have I ever not kept to my word? If you so dearly crave this young maid's touch over the lady Marquess, then who am I to argue?" The butler arrived, a dour-faced man of later years. The young Marquis could not help but notice a strangeness to his expression, a sort of concealed pity. Puss gracefully lifted the vial of potion from the platter he presented and offered it to the nobleman before him. The young Marquis snatched it up quickly, a flicker of avaricious glee flashing across his features. He composed himself, smiling in that graceful courtly manner before proceeding with the lines of excuses that always worked so well for his father-in-law.
"Well, it has of course been a pleasure," he wheedled, standing up and moving towards the steps down from the balcony. "I am so very glad you're doing so well for yourself these days, dearest Puss, and you shall of course be welcome at the palace at any time," he lied through his teeth. If he never saw the cat again, he would count it as a blessing.
"Of course I am," Puss purred in that subtle, unnerving way he always did. The young Marquis faltered a moment before offering some last trivialities and rushing to the carriage due to speed him home, eager to play with his new toy.
"You just seem distant," she had said, her brow creasing ever-so-slightly like it did when she was worried. He remembered the way her hands had moved to her dress, passing themselves over the silk folds in that way he had found so endearing those years ago but at the time had just been yet another of her infuriating habits.
"I am not distant," he had retorted hotly, adjusting the necktie. That damned necktie. Sometimes he wondered if it had been to blame, the way it itched and chafed, one of the countless unspoken etiquettes of the court. It had enflamed a temper already waxing choleric. The cat had always known about these things. Ever since he had needed to take charge of his holdings himself, the Marquis had grown more and more impatient with the frivolities of those he came into contact with. "I have simply a great deal of work to do," he had then added after experiencing that momentary twinge of guilt that seemed a chronic factor of his conscience in the present day.
"I understand," she had murmured in that way that meant she never did. He saw her turn away in the mirror and noticed for the first time the letter in her hands, unstamped and unsealed. He struggled with that tie, wrestling it into a semblance of order before attending to his waistcoat.
"You will be visiting the opera again tonight?" he had asked casually, putting on his usual air of disinterest. He could have sworn she had flinched, then.
"I..." she had faltered, the letter creasing slightly in her fingers, "I... yes. Yes, my dear," she finished weakly. "You will not join me?" she pleaded hopefully.
"I have to deal with the accounts tonight," he had muttered dismissively, explaining away his absence.
"You never come to the opera any more," she had pointed out, a tinge of reproach in her voice. He had sighed, anticipating an argument.
"You know your father insists I keep the books up to date. He is not so forgiving as he once was." The Marquis turned around, bearing down upon his meek, dainty wife with that withering gaze normally reserved for courtiers and errant servants. She had recoiled, the letter in her hand crumpling. He recognised the writing on it as being his own. Suddenly she rushed forward, taking hold of her husband's waistcoat with tearful, desperate eyes.
"Come with me," she had begged him. "Hang the work, come with me tonight! I don't ask anything else, but I need a sign. It's been so long, and I just need this one thing. Say you'll come with me." She looked up at him with those beautiful jade eyes, welling with water and framed by errant strands of angelic blonde hair. He remembered noticing the dried-up tearstains already there. He should have realised their meaning, should have felt remorse, or at least pity. All he had felt was emptiness; emptiness and contempt.
"Honestly, woman," he had snarled, shrugging her off. "All this fuss for a bit of opera. We'll go next week if it means so much to you." She had balled up her fists then, her lips narrowing into a thin, bitter line before parting in that sudden sigh of defeat. Her shoulders had slumped in resignation and she had turned to leave. He remembered how she had paused at the threshold, one hand against the doorframe, and spoken those words.
"I will always love you."
"Yes, dear," he had murmured as she passed beyond the threshold, glancing into the mirror. That damned tie had come undone again.
"I will always love you!" she had cried in that girlish little way. Perhaps it had been those words that had done it, he would later reflect. That childish naivete, the same sweetness he had sought so hungrily now turned sour from over-consumption. The girl never left him be, even tried to approach him during the day, once even within earshot of the Marquess. It was growing troublesome and rumours were beginning to surface regarding their indiscretions. Her proclaiming her love for him had not helped in the slightest.
"Don't be silly," he had snapped. "Love never lasts forever." He had been in a foul mood all evening, ever since his wife had left for the opera. Even the sweet scent of the roses that wove their way through their secret place had brought him little comfort. The roses were wild, a pale golden hue but with a rich perfume the cultivated flowers in the estate gardens could never capture. He cursed them thickly, those roses and their intoxicating fragrance.
"But our love will!" she had insisted, looking up at him with those wide doe eyes. She clung to him needfully and he shrugged her off in distaste.
"Stop that, you stupid girl. What do you want from me, anyhow? You're always bothering me." He remembered the way she had looked at him then, that blank confusion in her simple face.
"But all I want is your love," she had protested, her brow furrowing in a way far too reminiscent of the Marquess for his taste. That twinge of guilt again. He cringed momentarily at the sensation before it was washed away by the strange, burdening malice welling up inside his heart. "Don't you love me?" she had asked. He didn't know why he had responded in the way he had then.
"No." The effect of that one syllable was so profound. Pleasure turned to pain, devotion to despair at its uttering. He had watched as her features changed, as the horror spread throughout her being. A part of him almost revelled in the power of the word, urging him on. "How could I? How could I love one so weak and miserable, so infatuated with childish things? Our time has been pleasurable, but now it is at an end. I tire of you, my dear." He had stood up then, gathering his things and stepping out into the night, the accompaniment of tearful wailing falling upon deaf ears.
The Marquis stared blankly at the ill-lit room, his reveries reaching the present. Twilight leached through the tattered drapes, casting the ravaged furnishings of the chamber in sicky illumination. The letter, that cursed letter, fell limply from his fingers as he gazed at the ruin. He did not remember much of it, but he knew that he had done it. Flown into rage and torn so much apart in fury. His eye caught upon a piece of ragged silk on the shattered remnants of a chair, fluttering in a half-breeze from the open windows. He recalled it coming from one of her dresses. Not the last dress though. He remembered the way that, too, had fluttered in the breeze when they had found her. The vision brought a sickness to him, that recollection of the way she had swung, half-circles back and forth, suspended by that god-damned tie. The girl had been found not long after, her own dress billowing and fluttering before they had dragged her from the river.
The drapes rustled again, a chill wind draughting from the balcony into the room, causing him to shiver and look up. A cold sweat ran down his neck as he caught sight of the silhouette, framed in shadow against the grey twilight beyond. That plumed hat, that gilted sword and those inescapable, fateful boots.
"I have come to collect."
The Marquis laughed amiably with his guest over the soup and wine. The balcony had such a charming view of the palace gardens, his pride and joy. His majesty was, of course, impressed with them and had more than willingly accepted his invitation to luncheon. The serving maids came to take away the bowls as the butler laid down a fresh vase of those fragrant yellow roses. The Marquis remarked to the king that they had always been the favourite of his collection, ever since he had planted them in the palace gardens all those years ago. The maids brought forth the main course, a dish of braised mouse in honey mustard with a delicate side of steamed truffles.
The Marquis, of course, never hunted mice any more. He would, however, sometimes play them for sport.
Prerequisites: Level 9, Cha 17+
Benefits: If you make a bargain with someone, you can request a favour of a certain size from them in payment. Should they accept of their own free will (they cannot be charmed or compelled into acceptance), they will thereafter suffer a compulsion to carry out the favour you ask of them, provided you hold to your own end of the bargain. This compulsion takes effect only when you request the favour, there is no time limit with regard to how long you can wait before requesting the favour and any attempts to ask a favour that would be obviously suicidal ('jump off a bridge', 'stab yourself in the heart') automatically fail. The subject must make a Will save with a DC depending on the size of the favour requested and on a failed save suffers the compulsion. On a successful save, they are no longer bound by the requirement to fulfill the contract. In addition, should you default on your end of the bargain the compulsion will fail automatically.
DCs for favours are listed by size, the size of which must be agreed on by the other party. Minor favour (DC 10), small favour (DC 14), favour (DC 18), large favour (DC 22), very large favour (DC 26), exceptionally large favour (DC 30).
Normal: If you make a deal with someone, you have only their word and their fear of you to back up their compliance.
Special: This is a supernatural, mind-affecting ability (use the character level as caster level for the purpose of overcoming spell resistance).
Strong influence from the Marquis de Carabas, of Neverwhere fame! I'm not sure how balanced this is, so if you folks could give it a look-over and offer some suggestions, please do!
: Why not check it out? You're unlikely to be disappointed.
Last edited by Iituem : 01-02-2007 at 07:50 AM.