Collecting Souls
Summary: Nitrim escapes the tourney to mingle among the downtrodden.
Date: 03 June 2012
Related: Takes place during Melee On Foot Event

May 24, 3013 — Just outside of the tourney grounds on Landing

The tourney at Landing roared in the distance as Nitrim made his way along the cobbled roads. Everything, everywhere, smelled of spilled beer and sweat as he passed hundreds of citizens ordering drinks from the concession stands. The human wall itself was a maze to be traversed, requiring Nitrim to side-step young children and entire clumps of bodies standing in place in the center of a perfectly good walkway.

Back on Volkan, they would turn out of his way and give him the room to move, but this was Landing. A locally unknown face to many of them, he was merely another tourist in expensive clothes, and they would never notice the black-skinned shadow that loomed twenty feet behind that traced Nitrim's every move. Though many paces behind, none of them would lay a hand on the young nobleman without his bodyguard's personal attention. All Nitrim had to do was move quickly enough through the crowd to avoid being stopped in one place too long and they would never know someone vastly more important to the social hierarchy had passed.

Taking one of the side exits, he hopped down the stairs and out into the main thoroughfare just as his Lord Brother, Michram, was being announced in the foot melee. He frowned at the mental image of his father glancing down the row to see that he had disappeared for the second time during the tourney. Nitrim had made a promise that he would attend the feast, and was expected to put on more of a show, but he was the lesser son, wasn't he?

Sometimes it felt as if his Father expected him to do this. Nitrim was happy to oblige. Perhaps it would stab deep enough one of these times to force a conversation that had been years in the making.

"Yes!" A youthful boy shrieked as he ran past Nitrim's hip carrying a small red-and-white checked container of food. The child had unkempt brown hair and was covered in mud from splashing in the streets. Nitrim could barely make out the violet facepaint of House Saveur through the cracked mud on his face as he raced towards a girl that could have been his younger sister. The girl hopped in place, which sent her equally dirty blue dress swishing about as she clapped her hands in excitement. Sweets.

"Ekor, you got one? How did you get one? Those are like five dollars!" She called out to him as the boy scurried closer to her. He triumphantly thrust a plastic spork towards her, which she took and quickly took the first bite. In a practiced gesture, she handed the spork back to her brother.

"SSSHHH! Stop. It's okay I got it taken care of. Just don't talk too loudl—"

"Oh." The girl blinked, suddenly realizing that this meal had been stolen. "W-well…then you get two bites and I'll get the next one. Mama said she was off trying to find dinner for us so we have to finish it quick. She said that restaurant is dumping food like crazy."

Nitrim frowned, but something on the inside of him twisted with joy. They couldn't have been any older than eight years old, and they were choosing to steal their next meal and had chosen sweets. They were surviving on the streets, and still took the time to be children and lavish in the tourney.

He brought the camera to his eye and crouched down over one knee, taking a snapshot of the two of them. They were too engrossed in their bounty to even notice. The camera whirred in his hands three times, capturing a trio of images before he rose and started to move down the sidewalk. As he passed them, he reached into his pocket and dropped a fifty dollar bill behind him that he was sure would float into their path.

The children suddenly grew silent. Nitrim smiled. When he turned to look back over his shoulder five seconds later they were nowhere to be found. Nitrim smiled again.

The young Khournas Lord continued to walk for nearly a half hour until he came to stop at the sound of yelling somewhere deep within a filthy alleyway. Garbage littered the concrete, and from his vantage point he could make out used syringes and Red Eye droppers scattered haphazardly around a clutch of moldy food containers. He could make out a swell of vagrants in the center of the alley standing around in a circle.

"—in't no way facking Larent's taking this. That big Thalo fucker is on the field! Ain't no girl ever faced down something that size and lived through it"

"Clearly you never met my ex-wife."

The group roared in laughter, and Nitrim turned down the alleyway. Walking into the devil's den itself, he brought the camera to his eye again and began to take a few snapshots of the group as they loomed around a cracked video screen that played a local feed of the event. A jury-rigged twist of cables ran from the back of the screen to a high power wire, and Nitrim understood just how they were getting a free feed of the event.

He had to admire it. He would carry their image forward in his camera and in his heart.

Before they could turn around to see him taking pictures of them he turned his back and made his way to the mouth of the alleyway and disappeared back into the throng of tourists.

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