A>Aldrik entered a dark interior smelling of gin, stale cigar smoke and rancid perfume. While his eyes adjusted to the darkness, a blasting trumpet and wailing saxophone built to a screaming crescendo. Well, he groused, if you can't play it good, play it loud. Spotting Dargon, he headed to him. D> A moment later, Dargon glanced up to see Aldrik brushing unseen lint from his attire (jade coat, snow white cravat, black breeches, stockings and evening shoes designed to meet the strictest standards for Diegan formal wear) with one hand and ivory walking stick in the other, a jeweled dagger with a pommel shaped like the wings of a bird represented his only visible weapon. Dargon asked, "What's up?" A>"Oh, about six thousand according to Random, " Aldrik said smiling as the server delivered the cognac ordered on the way over. He poured a glass, raised it to his lips, and said "To Amber, may she stand forever, whoever leads the fickle bitch." D>Dargon smirks at the drink ordered from Aldrik, his eyes going to the murky liquid in the chipped tankard in his hand. With the toast he does raise the container a little but says, "And to this tankard . . . may it never be empty." A few guzzles later he sets the cup down and winces saying, "Damn good stuff." Raising a hand he waves over the waitress with a smile that is not at all innocent to fill up his drink once again. After it's full he takes another long pull from it and leaning back in his chair watches Aldrik for a long moment, taking in his outfit with another small smirk, "Nice outfit. Take it then you were in one of those backwards shadows around here. Can't really stand places like that. Only good thing about them is that they have good drinks usually. But the music selection . . . " He smirks to the musician who is trying to mangle every song imaginable, "Don't see why they stick around here. Give me an ear splitting, bass pounding, speed metal band anytime." Shrugging to himself at the futileness of the thought of a band like that around here he raises up his glass and finishes up his drink, lowering it to the table so that the waitress can once again fill it up.>> A>Aldrik grinned. "Amber may as well be one of those backward shadows; it's not like an amplified band can be found in the city." As the two men size each other up, Aldrik works on the cognac, not matching Dargon, but making steady progress nonetheless. D>At your words Dargon grins back and takes another long drink from the glass saying afterwards, "It's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live here. Sorry." A>A half hour and two bottles of cognac later, and one cigar for Aldrik, the two notice that the band now directs its cacophony toward their table. The bandleader, a banty little rooster of a man, dressed in a wildly striped blazer, peg-top pants, and mustard yellow shoes, affects a broad smile and nods at them. "Great," Aldrik sighs, "this loser thinks that he plays for a member of the royal family." Shaking his head, he adds, "I can see their next flyer, ĆEnjoy the Music that Entertained a Prince of Amber. What say we get out of this dump and hit another bar?" D>Working on his umpteenth drink and with a couple of crumpled up cigarette packages around him, Dargon looks up at the bandleader and chuckles to himself with a shaking of his head. He takes a long drag from the cigarette that is in his hand before flipping it at the nearest musician who luckily was smart enough to wear something flame resistant. He stands up from the table and pulls the black leather of his jacket over his shoulders once again with a nod. "I would trash the place on principle but I don't think that I could mess up that fool's outfit anymore then it is already." Looking down at the table he notices that his drink isn't finished so quickly sees to the problem and drops it on the cracked table with a dull thud on the cup's side. A>"Yeah, let's walk over to the Death Masque, not the one that got burned out, the new place." With a last bemused glance at the band, Aldrik stepped into the night. D>Casting one last gaze at the band leader who is still smiling and directing the band towards Dargon and Aldrik's way, Dargon rubs at the gauntlet at his left hand and then turns away before doing something the band leader would regret. "Death Masque? Yeah, you're right. I'm probably thinking of the burned down place." Dargon chuckles softly and smirks at a thought, "So the place finally got torched. Thought something would happen after that little incident with Bleys and Caine. Gotta like those . . . accidents." Still chuckling to himself he heads after Aldrik when he exits from the place. A>They arrived at the Death Masque shortly before dawn. It would have been quicker, but Dargon insisted on a short stop at every open club č- and one closed, but that's another story (besides which, they can't prove anything). D>Also at one place, after another Unicorn Spit, Dargon gets into a slight misunderstanding over whether or not the music that was playing (an odd variation of big band sound) was any good. The patron seemed to like it a little too much for Dargon's taste. It ended up with the patron on the floor and Dargon walking out with a full tankard of Unicorn Spit that the bartender happily gave to him on the house. A>At some point, Aldrik switched from cognac to something called Panther Piss, which Dargon explained was quite similar to cognac. An enclosed patio decorated by marble statues set around a large fountain without water contained the Death Masque's entrance. A narrow curving staircase in the rear wound to the second floor. Even at this late hour, a dozen or so men filled the courtyard quietly talking. D>Upon making their arrival, Dargon frowns as there are no people of the female gender about which he comments to Aldrik before walking any further. A>Before entering the courtyard, Dargon paused to point out several shadowy figures that menaced from the balcony. "Lookouts," Aldrik said. "This bar has been technically illegal ever since they sentenced the owner to death." D>"Nice place . . . what'd the owner do that was wrong? Actually have some waitresses that were good looking?" While Dargon speaks he pulls from the holster on his side the metallic blaster and idly aims at each and every shadow figure that he notices. Luckily for the figures when Dargon pulls the trigger nothing happens. Dim, thick with smoke, the Death Masque was full of odd angles that seemed to wind off in peculiar directions. Dark wood paneled its eighty-foot long main room. Crimson damask draperies closed thickly over tall windows, and what might be thick red rubber covered its floor. From either end of the room, men with crossbows watched the floor from high platforms lacquered Chinese red. D>Dargon mutters to himself looking about the place, "Reminds me of a trip I had. Made me lay off of any stuff with an X in the title for awhile." A>The crowd was thin. Several men and one six hundred- pound gorilla-type, clearly female, played cards in a side room, and from the amount of chips, the stakes looked high. Two blowsy women occupied a table, apparently on a break, after a long night's work. Laughter emanated from a private room. Walking by, they saw a dozen or so sailors and half as many prostitutes engaged in a down and dirty party. D>The band, according to the sign direct from shadow earth, had finished their last set an hour ago. Dargon spotted them, four men and a red-haired woman, drinking at the bar. Hair long and unruly, the men wore black leather jackets without shirts. The woman, about twenty, wore black stockings with shorts and a tied-off man's shirt. All five looked exhausted. A>Aldrik, relaxed, though not drunk, said, "Damn. This band was supposed to be good. It's a shame, although I admit that they're not exactly what you wanted. They play what I would describe as Baton Rouge Blues. Of course, that stuff about being from shadow is crap. They're just local talent trying to get a shadow-earth-style-thing going." D>Dargon, leaning up against the wall watches the band with another chuckle, the tankard from the previous bar still in his hand. "And they actually look good. Well . . . better than most even though without any juice the sound just isn't there." Craning his head over his shoulder to find a waitress or someone to fill up his empty glass he asks, "So . . . what now? A>"We flip a coin," Aldrik said. "Heads, I get the band-babe, tails you get the monkey chick." D>"Naaah . . . I have a better idea," Dargon says while checking out the girl and then looking to the sailors. "How about this. Heads we find out how long it'll take us to whip that scum over there in the corner. I'm thinking five minutes for all of them. Tails we flip for the band-babe. I'm up for either one at this point." Taking out an odd looking shadow coin from his pocket he flips it with one hand and then catches it with the other. Dargon peers down at the coin in his palm and chuckles, "Heads . . . Guess some adrenaline is what we need tonight." A>"Six to me, half a dozen to you, five minutes sounds about right, unless we try and go easy on them." Aldrik said as he stood up. "For some reason, it always takes longer when I'm trying not to kill someone." As Aldrik approached, laughter broke out from the men. One sailor, who from his hog-nosed looks had lost more than his share of bar fights, called out with malicious delight, "Looky looky, a little lordling dressed in daddy's long pants wants to play." One lanky sailor--who a moment ago was engaged in a game of mumblety-peg--flashed a knowing smile, and waived away the men of Amber, saying, "Not me lads, I'm a civilian as far as this skirmish goes." With that, despite dirty looks from his former companions, he moved away. The hog-nosed loud mouth opened the battle by rushing the object of his spite. In response, Aldrik shifted his weight from the hip and brought his wheeling shoulder up with a surprisingly powerful fist springing out, crashing, stunning, and dropping the drunk like a pole-axed steer. D>4.5 minutes later and a couple of shattered tables as well as broken noses the sailors are all on the ground in various states of pain. Nothing too serious just mostly the usual bar fight bruises. During the fight Dargon moves from one sailor to the other with a grin and a chuckle at times, looking at ease in this situation but is a little disturbed when a bottle of some liquid is broken over his jacket. The one who did that has the honor of flying across the room with a broken hand and a puped nose. A>Grimacing slightly, Aldrik feared that he had twisted his little finger in the fight. "Damn, that smarts," he groaned, half-mockingly, to himself. Not bad, he thought, considering how much liquor he had polished off. He had accounted for four of eleven combatants, while Dargon took care of the rest. D>After the dust has settled Dargon pulls over a chair that surprisingly enough hasn't been damaged and leans back with a grin, "Now that's something I've been missing for a bit." Waving over a waitress he orders another Unicorn Spit and downs it all in a couple of seconds. With a large gasp of breath afterwards he looks to Aldrik, "Never heard your story . . . What brought you here?" A>"I was born in shadow Diega," Aldrik said. "After mom died, I was fifteen, I came to Amber where Gerard fostered me." He paused, then added, "I stayed until I walked the Pattern. This is my first visit back in awhile. Frankly, I can't stand the head trips and power games everyone here so much enjoys. I'll do my best for Amber in the next few days, but after we put this latest threat to rest, I leave. D>Finishing off yet another drink and just tossing the tankard in his hand at the bar where it thumps against the wood Dargon nods with a chuckle, "About my story too. Except I never had any parents so to speak. Grew up in a shadow called Wyrd. Random found me over there and dragged me here for a bit. Walked the Pattern and then took off again before I got mixed up in any more schemes. I owe Random for showing me the scope of this universe of ours but these constant power trips that happen around here are ridiculous. Whatever. After this battle I'm outta here and back to hitting the bar scene on Wyrd." Standing up from the chair he steps over a moaning in pain sailor and pulls out some coin from his leather jacket which he tosses to the nearest waitress. Dargon turns back to Aldrik and with a small glance at a watch that doesn't work he nods again, "Guess it's time to head back. Busy days ahead of us dontcha know." Brushing a hand through his hair he starts to head for the door with Aldrik, taking care to step over any bodies that block his path. A>And so ends a night of drunken debauchery and mayhem, with perhaps more of the latter than the former.
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