The womanizer’s guide to Axiom is the result of a one on one texted based game between myself and Mark Bell. It takes place on the fantasy world of Axiom and follows a spoiled merchants son as he gets in over his head!
As if on cue, a woman much too good looking for this podunk island walked from the back and into the party.
She was a true beauty, piercing light blue eyes and dark brown hair with an islander’s tan.
“Don’t.” Artemis’s hand grasped Titus’s shoulder, “That is Gavin Detross’s wife, Gael.”
Artemis’s hand gave Titus a start. “Don’t what? I thought we were celebrating? Besides, I was just going to introduce myself – if we’re going to have a long term business relationship, we should get to know everyone, right?”
Titus’s mind was starting to liven up as his pulse quickened. He’d been coasting through the day until now, eager to get home. Now, he was awake, alert, and energized. “Maybe we should stay on a few days, just to make sure all the details are…. attended to.”
“That look in your eye makes me feel like we can’t leave fast enough!” Artemis countered but Titus had locked in.
Gavin turned as the two approached,”My new friends, I want you to meet my wife, Gael!”
Artemis again tugged On Titus’s sleeve trying to recover the situation,”It is a pleasure, but we are tired and have a long trip tomorrow, so we should be retiring…Right, Titus?”
Gael’s hand extended towards Titus. She wore a strapless corset and a long skirt with a heavy golden amulet around her neck,”Nonsense, the night is young, is it not?”
Titus smiled very warmly. “Ms. Detross, it is such a pleasure to meet you. I had thought that this island was lovely before, but Gavin here has apparently been keeping the loveliest flowers in his own garden.” He took her hand and gave it a firm shake. Titus had trained his eyes to be very circumspect, but she was making it difficult. “I am Titus Petronius, and the celebrations were just beginning.” Making direct eye contact, he continued. “I’d be delighted to stay.”
The long, exasperated sigh of defeat came from Artemis but Titus, from years of training, skillfully continued to ignore him.
“That is good,” she grinned, “I get to meet few of such… Stature”
“In the name of Mazant…” Artemis groaned at the obvious come on.
Titus would have been nervous too, such a line right in front of the husband was dangerous. He turned to Gavin to make sure there was no rage but Gavin’s eyes were somewhere else. Titus could gather that Gael was not new to this, and was well aware of how to slip things past her husband.
Titus let curiosity get the better of him and glanced at what had pulled Gavin’s attention. At the front door of the tavern, unnoticed by most, was a woman.The woman had jaw line length parted blond hair and an athletic build, and she was dressed to the nines like some kind of pirate marauder. A large maroon coat did almost nothing to hide a series of pistols holstered across her bodice. The feature that would burn her into Titus’s mind was a nasty scar from the scalp to her jawbone on the right side of her face. Whatever had made the terrible wound had taken the eye too as it was covered by a black patch.
Gavin turned back to his wife,”dear, make sure our guests have a good time, eh? I have one more spot of business to tend to.”
“My pleasure,” her smile deepened at Titus.
He could tell from the cadence and tone of Gavin that this new visitor was all business, not pleasure, and that he was looking to use the party to distract someone from the meeting, or show something off to this new person? He couldn’t be sure as he watched the woman and gavin move to a corner table and the two began to….
Gael’s sweet voice broke into Titus’s ear pulling him back from the intrigue, “Does the business man dance?”
“Business man? My lady, I assure you, I deal in as little business as possible.” His half smile was because it was the simple truth. “Why don’t we sample some more of your island’s fine vintages? I’ve had but a few sips, and what I’ve tasted has only increased my desire to try more.” With a grin, he moved to the bar.
On the way, he patted Artemis on the shoulder. “Come now, we all are enjoying ourselves! Even the esteemed Gavin has found himself in good company in celebrating!”
At the bar, he grabbed a bottle and two random glasses. With a toss of his head that resettled his hair into a less perfect coiffure (these village women could get a little intimidated by impeccable fashion), he headed back to a table a little out of the way but near Gavin and his mystery patron. “Come now, share with me while the musicians work through their tuning.” The trio might have passed in a dockside tavern in the mainland, but only barely.
Artemis watched him go then turned grabbing the nearest patrons glass before downing the drink unknown.
Wowed by Titus’s grace and quick mouth Gael followed his lead,”I’m never one to pass up a drink”
Titus could not help wondering what Gavin and his guest were talking about but the band was playing just a bit too loudly and all he could understand was a strange name, “Cogstania”
Titus tried to shake it off and focus on his wooing of the wife but another strange woman caught his eyes, for very different reasons. The band leader, a singer, with long black hair that fell absently over her shoulders and pale fair skin. She was dressed in pants and a tight tunic on top and had a beautiful voice. Titus could not help a sense of foreboding when locking eyes with her. She had been watching Gael very intently since the festivities had started, maybe that explained the dark feeling, whatever it was Titus did not care for it.
“I do hope you are not ignoring me,” Gael’s voice brought Titus back to the here and now and the task at hand,” because small though our island may be I will not be ignored by any man.”
Smiling again, Titus shook his head. “Gael, surely you realize no one could ignore a beautiful woman such as yourself.” Taking a sip of his wine, he let the natural desire he felt for her fill his face and eyes. “Yes, that is a lovely vintage.”
He gestured around the room, such as it was, with some people beginning to dance (poorly) and others singing along (poorly). As dreadful as it was, the dynamics of the room were beginning to trigger even his nose for politicking. “Have your musicians ever traveled to the mainland? I don’t think I’ve heard this particular take on ‘Wind that Shakes the Willows’.” He’d be damned if these 2-bit local politics would distract him from his goal tonight.
“The band is new,” Gael replied, “They got in on the same ship you arrived on a few days ago. I cannot say I hate them.”
The comment was thrown away, Titus could tell the woman could care less about the band, She was on the hunt as well… she just had no idea her prey was an apex predator in disguise.
The two continued to drink and the local drama seemed to phase out for some time.
“It is time to dance,” She said standing after some time, “consider it an…audition.”
There was more emphasis on that last word than was necessary.
“Then, let us dance.” Titus stood, leaving the half finished glass on the table. He had spent a good deal of time learning how to appear to drink while only taking infinitesimal sips. It had proven to be useful at times, and it was certainly no chore with the inferior vintages here.
Offering his hand (palm down, as had been proper for dozens of years), he led Gael to the dancing area. Humming under his breath, he began the courtly ritual of bowing, pausing, and beginning the dance. This dance, of course, was just the warm up. If the Mazant-forsaken band would just stick to a steady beat, of course, it would be simpler.
After four dances, they finished with a slow dance as the final notes ended she whispered into Titus’s ear,”I have to mingle with others now, but my husband gets very drunk at events such as these and takes advantage of the free board his office gives him…I however, will be home with nothing but the sea breeze to keep me company….Unless you feel the call to change that.”
With a grin she bowed and walked away.
Artemis, half drunk, came up behind Titus,” if I listed all the reasons not to, would it stop you?”
Titus grinned. “Come now, when have you ever known me to listen to reason?” He laughed, then grew slightly pensive. ” Heard of a ‘Cogstania’ or something?”
As little as he tried to care, his political instinct was still trying to keep his neck intact.
“Cogstania….” Artemis’s alcohol-ridden brain thought on it for a second attempting to dive through the ale and pull the obscure fact from memory…
It failed, “Sounds familiar, something from school I think…don’t change the subject and don’t sleep with her…”
Titus only grinned.
The Last Tea Shop. A solo TTRPG playthrough. Written by Ash Alder and narrated by Zachariah Van Sluyters
Chapter 3 drops next week!!!