The Old Crew pt. 2

Leaving Traps to hold down the fort, Tarmen journeyed through the slums he called home. Even to call them slums was generous, as that implied there was an area of better living.
Among the choking vines and roots of the jungle, wealth didn’t change much when it came to living quarters. Usually it just meant you had an intact floor and roof.
Being one of the few that had such a luxury, Tarmen had long ago gotten used to the hidden glares and spying eyes around him. Few would try, but many hoped for a chance to take his place and it was a jealousy that he enjoyed. Let them wish, for none of them had the nerve to fight for it.
He enjoyed a few more minutes of gloating before making it to his destination. The shop he entered enjoyed a bit more space among its neighbors, though it still felt more crowded than his quarters. Trinkets and artifacts lined its walls, more so to advertise itself as a delivery service for local groups instead of selling to them. Tarmen himself had sold to this shrewd man behind the simple wood counter plenty of times before, as well as hearing other groups gossip.

“Mathias. You look well fed today, people still buyin’ your shit?”

His wiry frame jittered as Mathias chuckled at the jest, though his eyes never left the ruin diver.

“Can’t be that bad, unless you consider yourself a shit shoveler. Not sure that would bring many cheers at the bar.”

Leaning against the counter, Tarmen joined the thin layer of cheer being presented with his own chuckle. The loud creak of his weight atop the ramshackle wood helped him establish his presence as he got to the point.

“So, what’s the talk around town?”

Mathias looked at him with the best poker face he had seen yet.

“Nothing today Tarmen. Sorry. The others have been pretty slow as of late.”

A moment passed between their stares, more of a formality than any true tactic to intimidate. For Tarmen, it was a final warning to come clean, one that went ignored.
His eyes narrowed at the fence, making an obvious show of looking him over. This was the first time he would have to force information from him, which told him that it was worth it.

“Been sellin’ to you how long? A good year or so?”

The unblinking eyes held their ground, Mathias gaining a small smirk in the hopes this was just simple talk.

“Eleven months, by last week. Have to say your lot pull some odd-“

Tarmen had leaned back, bringing a sturdy mace onto the counter with a thud as he folded his arms. He still held a face of calm, returning the smirk with one of his own.

“Such a long time deserves some trust, eh? Some people can even feel like family after all that.”

To his credit, Mathias didn’t even look at the mace or even show the smallest bit of discomfort. If anything, Tarmen could see some anger coming out.

“Not sure what you’re getting at, Ta-“

“You ever hear of the last man who lived here?”

Tarmen waved off any response as he continued.

“Cheery chap, a skinner in trade if I remember. He’d give all us runts bits of leather for clothes and such, just had to run the odd errand for him in return. You know how he died?”

Tarmen leaned back onto the counter, still jovial as Mathias himself looked ready to strike him.

“I don’t care and I don’t care for this little show of yours. I told you, there aren’t any jobs. If you have an issue, go-“

“He was a snitch.”

Tarmen’s grin widened as all bravado left his informant.

“You wouldn’t. They would tear you apart with me! Run your crew out of the Burgh, if any of them survived.”

“Then how about we help each other live a bit longer? From what I’ve heard, Ol’ Sandtrel still has a penchant for cruelty. One that has been seasoned with his age. Who knows what would happen to us if he knew you had lost him some of his best jobs just for some extra pay?”

Tarmen knew the look of hatred brewing behind Mathias’s eyes, one that showed the debate going on. Call his bluff or give.
He had made a point to butter up the man early on, treat him nicer than the other bosses and make sure he would never think that Tarmen would do something like this. He had hoped the man wouldn’t have grown so comfy though, keep this interaction in his pocket a bit longer.
Either way, he walked out of the shop with a new lead and a crew that hadn’t seen any decent action in a bit.
Walking back to his crew’s main base, he also figured he had one more ruin run in him before he decided what his path would be.

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