“Who… is… Jack?”
The bustling of the packed tavern made it hard to make out all that was going on at once. Two figures sat at a table in the corner, illuminated by two lit candles resting between them. The figure in a black cloak maintained a low voice, glaring at the sloppily dressed drunkard across the table from him.
"You know 'is name, you’ve met ‘im ‘fore, what else ya need, Wrath? You technally know who ‘e is already." The drunk man took a long swig of his drink, glancing around. About a dozen or so people were spaced around the room. Some were talking, some were eating, but everyone was drinking. All except for the cloaked figure, who’s face remained completely hidden in his hood’s shadow. It was well past dusk, so the rest of the dining area was lit up with lanterns, but no amount of light was able to reveal what lay hiding beneath the hood.
"You know what I mean, Sloth. Having met him once and actually knowing who he is are two different things. Now, if your tongue is too busy to tell me what I want to know…” Wrath rested his right arm on the table, his black-steel gauntlet barely visible in the corner-table’s dim lighting. “I'll cut the damn thing out myself. See how much you enjoy your food and drink without it."
"Hey, hey hey! Hey, calm down now, Wrath. Don' go makin’ a scene. Hahah!" The bearded man didn't look much older than about thirty, but in his drunken stupor, he was acting very much like a child.
"I won't have to make one if you just answer my damn questions. I know you know who Jack is; his past, what he's looking for right now, and most importantly, why he’s after it.” He further lowered his voice, leaning over the table. “If you don't tell me, I can't promise that you’ll walk out of this crap bar unscathed."
"Sure, sure, whatever you say. Ah, thank ya miss. Don’ mind me friend, he’s all wound up over a book is all." Sloth winked at the waitress as she walked over and set a plate down in front of him.
“Sure, Henrickson. And I take it you’re planning on paying your tab for once?” She rolled her eyes and walked away, clearly uninterested in the balding man’s flirting.
“Henrickson, huh? Where’d you come up with that, a book that got you ‘wound up’?” The smell of fresh food didn’t even faze Wrath as he sat back in his chair, arms crossed. Sloth, on the other hand, didn’t give a second thought to the conversation he was having, as his mouth was instantly watering over the platter in front of him.
"Steak, ‘taters, bread, and a cold one to wash it down. It don' get much better than this, I tell ya." He glanced up and caught Wrath’s glowing green eyes boring into him. "Alright! I get it, Wrath. But first, what do you know, huh? You say you’ve met ‘im already, so I don' wanna have to repeat anything ya already know, ya know?" He scooted his chair forward and began to dig into his eggs. Wrath sighed, and glanced over his shoulder to make sure nobody else might be eavesdropping on their conversation.
"His name is Jack. No known last name. From ‘The Nether’, same as me. Small scar on the right of his face. He carries around two daggers, a ring on a loose necklace, and has a large burn mark on his right arm."
"Y'alright, anythin' else?" Henrickson asked, still stuffing his mouth.
"He's a sociopathic lunatic after a grimoire. Any grimoire, it seems; not any one in particular."
"Yeah, but some are off the list now, eh? Yours and mine, of course, as well as Greed's. So that narrows it down to..."
"Gluttony, Lust, Envy, and Pride, wherever they are. Yes, I get that. But I still don't know why he wants a grimoire, or what he would use it for."
"Do ya need to know 'why' if you at least know what he's doin? What does knowin 'why' change?"
"Urgency, for one. If it's nothing major, I might not even bother. But after meeting him just once... I'm sure it's something big, to say the least. And depending on how bad it is or how he plans to go about it, I might be able to decide which Grimoire I need to get to before him. I'd go after the bastard himself, but…"
"Slippery bugger, ain't he?" Henrickson asked, grinning. "Say, how old are ya, Wrath? I know ya ain't like anyone else ‘ere in the tavern. Physically speakin’ at least. And this is only the first time we've met, so’s I imagine ya can't have that many years on ya."
Wrath focused on the groggy eyes opposite him. They seemed somewhat clouded, or glazed, but he knew from experience that appearances were often deceiving. "Why? What's your game, ‘Henrickson’? What's your stake in all of this? Me, Jack, the other grimoires; if you were truly Sloth, wouldn't you be avoiding all of this?"
"Oi, you’re da one that came to me, ‘memba? If yous gonna doubt me," Henrickson said, leaning across the table, "then why ya still sittin' here? A being of pure wrath like yous supposed to be would've already lopped my head off and gone 'is way. Now if you are truly Wrath, why am I still yappin' with my tongue? Eh? Wanna tell me that? Mister self-proclaimed 'Wrath'." There was a short pause between the two, and the Tavern seemed to grow louder, with jeers and calls for more alcohol flying around them. "Tell ya what," Sloth declared, rubbing his hands together. "You tell me how you came to sit 'fore me 'ere bein’, well, whatever it is ya really are, I'll tell ya a lil somethin’ nobody knows about, I guarantee it."
"Pft, like what? The measurements on the tavern girl? Best place to get moonshine? Unless it's got to deal with Jack, it's not worth my time."
Henrickson stroked his beard for a second, glancing over at the waitress Wrath had just mentioned. A creepy smile crept across his face as he turned back around. "Well, I could tell ya 'bout her. But you couldn’t care less, I’m sure. And I don't want you anywhere near my boys with the moonshine. Nah, I'll tell ya 'bout how the grimoires came about, how an’ why the Southern Empire turned into the Nether, an’ how the rulers of 7 nations turned on their own God. Deal?" Wrath closed his eyes for a moment, as if he were mulling over whether it was worth his time or not.
“Fine. But it’d be better for Matthew to tell you about it, I suppose.”
Sloth almost spat out the food in his mouth. “Scuse me? I don’ think ya understand. I don’ wanna hear no hearsay or rumors, or conspiracy crap abou’ cha. If it ain’t passin’ your lips, it ain’t valid or got any value. Got it?” The hooded figure didn’t say anything for a moment, his eyes still closed. Then, with a twitch of his head, he looked back up. Sloth met the green eyes, but noticed immediately a drop in their sharpness and intimidation.
“Oh, they’re my lips alright, Henrickson. But I imagine Wrath will leave out some details, here and there.” His face was still hidden, but Sloth was certain that under the hood, the same yet completely different person sitting across from him was smiling. “Plus, it’s been a minute since I’ve gotten to talk with anyone, so I hope you don’t mind me stepping in. Now, if you want to hear our story, I’m going to start fresh with the kid that was known simply as Matthew.”