Korvosa, 4th Erastus 4711
This is the story of a city, collapsing under its own weight as it marches to the edge of anarchy, and the revolution that may yet save it. A disparate band of revolutionaries, brought together by fate and a destiny that none of them yet understand, might not only save the city, but redeem its soul as well. None of them (save one) set out to start a revolution, but their actions will change the city forever.
Korvosa is the greatest city of Varisia, the wild frontier on the northern shores of the Inner Sea. While the citizens of Absolom view it as a relative oasis of civilization in an uncivilized land and the citizens of Cheliax view their former holding as a backwater colony, the citizens of Korvosa view it as the greatest city of Golorian. The City of Black Marble, located at the mouth of the Jeggare River and Conquerer's Bay, is home to tens of thousands of proud citizens. Hidden behind this patriotism is a growing sense that the city is changing, and not for the better. Tensions between rich and poor have grown for decades. A life in the Heights is one of privilege, even decadence, while a life in Old Korvosa is one of crippling poverty. Few of the noble houses notice or care that many of Korvosa's citizens struggle to survive, engaging in their internal struggles for power and prestige. Nonhumans, especially tieflings, are treated with open disdain by the populace, while Varisians and Shoanti are viewed by the descendants of the Chelaxian conquerers as dangerous criminals. The citizens of the Heights look down upon the poor minorities as criminal and lazy, while the citizens of the slums look back at the nobility as exploitative and cruel. The city's tensions threaten to tear it into pieces. All the volatile tinder needs is a small flame to burn the entirety of Korvosa to the ground.
That flame is King Eodred II, or rather his imminent death. The aged monarch is respected by both the nobility and commoners, his just and fair rule long the only thing that keeps the city together. However, his age has shown for several years now. His obsession in recent years has been breaking the Curse of the Crimson Throne. No sitting monarch has conceived an heir while ruler of Korvosa, and Eodred has been no exception thus far. The last decade has seen him with younger and younger mistresses, each failing to give him an heir. The latest, the only one he married, is an ambitious and petty heiress from Cheliax. Queen Ileosa, widely unpopular with both the nobility and the masses, threatens to drain the coffers with her taste for the extravagant. Fortunately, much of the money goes towards improvements in the city, which keeps the distaste for her at a minimum. As Eodred withdraws deeper into age and his quest for an heir, the winds of discontent blow through the city. The nobles position themselves to use Ileosa as a puppet, or replace her altogether by challenging the legitimacy of her rule. The impoverished masses, struggling for survival and upset at the growing divide between the classes, engage in more criminal activity and unrest. The city's law enforcement, the Korvosan Guard and the Sable Company, crack down in response, further deepening the rift, while many in power advocate a harsh incursion by the Hellknights of the Order of the Nail to force submission from the poor.
Every Korvosan knows that Eodred's death, whenever it occurs, is something that will rock the city to its core. No one knows what will emerge from the city, not even the six revolutionaries who will be instrumental in determining its future course. From all different parts of the great city, they awaken to a bright shining morning, one that holds so much more possibility than they can imagine...
Up in the Heights, in the affluent ward of Citadel Crest, Lucadeno Jeggare sleeps soundly several hours past dawn. A servant, likely at the behest of Luca's father, tentatively steps into the room. Though Luca's room is not nearly as extravagant as that of his siblings and parents, the room is still expansive and comfortable. Entire families live in less space than his room down in other parts of the city, a fact that the young nobleman is quite aware of. The servant, an older woman long past childbearing years, strips open the blinds quickly. The sun shines into Luca's room, an unwelcome interruption for the few hours of sleep he is enjoying. Unbeknownst to his family, Luca was out most of the night, having slipped out of their family compound and out of his very identity. While outside of Citadel Crest, he slipped into the guise of Luca the Gull and continued making the contacts and connections that strengthen the family. He sits up in the bed, shielding his eyes. The matronly servant, a Varisian whose name is Garadina, patiently stands at the foot of his bed. "What shall I prepare for your breakfast, Master Lucadeno? Your father wishes your company downstairs."
Over in the military district of East Shore, Alejandro Endrin awakens alone in his modest apartment at the sound of the knocking. Almost by reflex, he rolls over and seizes the longsword that had passed from his grandfather to his father to Alejandro in the space of three short years, just to make sure it is still there. He props himself up on the bed, quietly stretching his solid frame. The tattoo on his upper back, the reminder of his family's crest, moves as he sits up and twists his muscular body. Another knock stirs him completely out of bed, striding across the room while still holding onto the longsword. His long black hair hangs freely down his shirtless body. He opens the door, still barely awake, and looks out the door with a single eye open. Standing in the doorway is his former partner, Ellerin Valez. The half-elf is immaculately dressed in his formal uniform, as always. He looks Alejandro up and down with a raised eyebrow, faintly bemused. "Retirement must be tough. Can I come in?"
Up in Northshore, Alistair Corinth has been awake for quite some time already. Having arrived at City Hall at the break of dawn, Alistair's indefatigability is being put to the test. No sooner had he put his head down after an evening preaching of Milani's ways that one of Morvius's young pages come knocking with an entire stack of papers and instructions to come in early to process them. Alistair knows that it was Morvius's work, as he had become quite adept at signing the man's name. He also has a sneaking suspicion that Morvius knew days ago that he would pawn the work off on Alistair, but waited until hours before it was due out of his own pettiness. Wardroxen had been born into money, but was not particularly good with it. He seems to detest that Alistair was the opposite. One of the other clerks, a Chelaxian named Harius who has always had a decent relationship with Alistair, comes into the office and offers him a waved greeting. "You're up early! What's he got you doing now?"
Down in South Shore, the elf Elrithrathiel enjoys the fine food and luxurious sheets of her gracious hosts, having padded down to the kitchen to fetch some delicious bread and fruit and returned to their bed to eat it. While she'll have to replace everything just as she found it, so as to not raise suspicions of the owners, it is nice to have the finer things in life. She sits amid a whole slew of pillows in the large bed, keeping her eyes intently focused on what sits across the street. Visible through the large window on the second floor, the enclave for the Mierani elves is easily within the distance of her bow. She had selected this house for this very reason (though her ability to enjoy its riches was also a determining factor). The enclave, a small forest within the walls of the city, gives her homesickness to even look at, but she cannot pull her gaze away. So intent is her focus that she almost doesn't notice the sound of a window opening downstairs. Knuckles, try as he might to sneak up an elf, is not a remarkably subtle burglar. The strangely handsome criminal creeps into the room, but is greeting by Elrith's bow pointing an arrow at him. He puts his hands up in mock defeat with a smile. "Whoa! Watch where you point that thing! Is that any way to greet a friend?"
Inside an apartment nestled in the Midland district's High Bridge, Rica Hismar awakens from a dream with a start. In her dream, the creature that she had summoned and mastered, the beast she calls Acid, turned on her without warning and could not be controlled through her magic. She awoke just as it began to tear into her, the vividness of her dream shaking her horribly. She rubs her eyes, hurting as they always are, as she tries to forget the dream. She curses her own mind for stealing away the only moment in the morning that her eyes don't bother her. She looks around the room, only to be startled a second time when she notices Astin sitting in a chair. She covers herself, though she is wearing fine silk and lace sleeping clothes, surprised by the elven servant's presence. This earns a short chuckle from him. "Rica, not only did I change you as a child, I also changed your mother. There's little need to be bashful."
In Old Korvosa at the Endrin Military Academy, Senjin awakens at dawn when it is time to feed the hippogriffs. Fortunately, the hippogriffs at the training facility are not cycling in and out all day and night like they are in the Great Tower. This grants them some degree of regularity, something the animals have earned at the end of the long careers and in repayment for the unskilled riding techniques of the cadets. As he pours their feed and smooths their feathers, he gently pets the hippogriffs with quite a bit of affection. Conroy, Senjin's fellow stablehand, strolls in nearly half an hour after the sun's rise. The young noble, still bitter about being forced by his father to work in the stables rather than straight into the cadet program like his friends, is characteristically unfriendly. "Hey, savage! I know your people like to eat horses and hippogriffs. I think you're thinking right now about tearing into one of them. Probably won't even cook it first, just planning on having it raw!"
Elrith's bow never wavers by so much as an inch, its arrow aimed at his throat. "To greet a friend? Of course not, but I fail to see how that applies in this situation." She holds her aim steady for a few more seconds to drive her point home, then relaxes, the arrow disappearing into her quiver as smoothly as it left. She leans back on the mattress, resuming her longing gaze at the Enclave. "For the hundredth, and hopefully last, time, I am not going to sleep with you, so take that charcoal drawing I so foolishly let you have made of me, and enjoy yourself. Alone. I am busy today."
Scrubbing a hand roughly down his face, Alejandro grins, stepping back to allow the Half-Elf to step inside. "Oh yes and that cushy Watch position is such a bad one, is it?" Laughing softly he moves in to a small room, off of the bedroom. "All of that free time to spend with that adoring, young Varisian maiden you find yourself beholden to, must be horrific!" He returns, carrying two tin plates, both of which are stacked with fruit, bread and cheese. Setting them down on the small table, he picks up an apple and takes a bite, before moving towards the closet against the wall.
"I jest of course Brother. Never let it be said that Alejandro Endrin does not appreciate the Watch and all they do for him. But come now, enough about that... How can I help you today Ellerin?" He turns, dressed now in his usual attire. "I assume you are in need of my assistance yes?" Grinning, he moves back to the table and pours two goblets of watered wine, offering one to the Half-Elf.
"If I am unable to help you, I can at least find some one who can!"
Alistair looks up from his work to see Harius standing in the doorway. He rubs his eyes for a second, trying to blink away the sleep that seems to keep coming and stands up. Stifling a yawn, Alistair walks over to Harius and clasps hands with him. "Good morning, Harius." Alistair tries to hide the irritation in his voice, but doesn't manage to do a very good job of it. "Morvius wants me to have all of these bills delivered by noon. That means I have to have each one signed and addressed within the next hour or so and out to the courier shortly after. If I don't manage to find a quick courier, I'm sure Morvius will have some words for me by the evening."
Alistair walks back to his desk, head held high despite his fatigue. "Sometimes I wish I could just walk away from this job. Imagine what Morvius would do! He'd probably explode with rage. I can see the expression on his face, his veins ready to burst! Haha! But of course, then I'd be out of a job and wouldn't be able to pay my own bills."
Still chuckling about the thought of Morvius face contorted with rage, Alistair sits down and continues his work. He looks up only to ask how Harius is doing. "What brings you here this morning?" He continues his work while he keeps the conversation with Harius going.
Senjin's grip on the feed bucket tightens. The scars on his knuckles show white against his tanned skin. Conroy! Why didn't the lazy bastard just stay in bed.
Senjin loved his quiet mornings with the flying steeds. The marines depended on them...well, here, the students did. But then the hippogriffs depended on him. He liked that. He could imagine that this was his herd, and they lived out on the plains under the wide open skies...but then Convoy usually makes an appearance.
Senjin feels his hand come free of the bucket and convulse into a fist. Rich puke like him wouldn't last a day on the streets without his money and family to hide behind. A quick beatdown and Conroy would.. Something, large, warm, and wet brushes the side of his head, Saberwing's tongue. The old hippogriff had taken a shine to the scared lad, the day Senjin was first introduced to the stables. ..and fighting Conroy could take that all away. It wasn't worth it.
Senjin give Saberwing's feathers a good scratch around the eye, as he is prone to like. The hippogiff takes advantage of the moment to snake his tongue into the bucket.
Still looking fondly at his charge, Senjin replies over his shoulder. "You have it all wrong Conroy. My people see the value in a smart, brave steed, especially in a fight. But dumb, lazy beasts that only know how to eat and grow fat must be culled for the good of all, you know, like bison, elk, and Chellaxians."
"Bashful? Hardly," Rica retorts, still covering herself with the blankets. When she first began classes at the Academae, Rica remembers how various male students would stare at her with a look in their eyes. Rica later learned that that particular look was one of lust, and though it was an emotion she never quite understood, she grew to take their looks as just another sign of how different and special she was. Astin, however, never looked at her that way. What used to be completely normal behavior now unnerves her slightly. She knows better than to take his chuckle as a sign of derision, but the sound irritates her just the same. She frowns slightly and sits up, letting the covers fall away.
"Astin, you could have knocked. At least then I would have-," she starts, before wincing as she finishes the sentence in her head, "Not had to deal with the embarrassment of being startled by you of all people." She pauses for a moment before thinking of something better to say. "Wouldn't have to wake up surprised. What if I'd had Acid summoned? What if he thought you were a burglar? I mean, of -course- he wouldn't, but you didn't know that...," she replies with a hint of irritation in her voice. However, she trails off her sentence as the mention of Acid brings her dream back to the forefront of her mind. She lifts her hands up to her eyes and rubs them once more before swinging her legs out of the bed.
"How are things?" she asks, her expression softening. Despite her embarrassment, she is glad to see Astin again.
@Elrith in South Shore
Knuckles smiles at Elrith's hostility, still utterly convinced that they are playing a game of romantic cat-and-mouse. "Too busy for an excellent business opportunity?" He sits on the bed, making himself comfortable and putting his dusty shoes up on the blanket. Elrith scoots backwards, away from her pursuer, but he appears not to notice. "I've heard some rumblings on the street. There's supposed to be some sort of meeting out in the West Dock district tonight, a gathering of some folks who aren't happy with the way things are here in Korvosa." He grins and half-jokingly adjusts his collar. "I have been invited to hear them out, as my skills would be in demand for such an endeavor. Naturally, I'm willing to cut you in. Your talents would be more than appreciated there. I've heard they've got big money backers. This is more than just a few bored students from the University looking to 'make a difference'."
@Alejandro in East Shore
Ellerin gladly takes Alejandro's offered meal, sitting down with him at the table. He is quiet for a moment as he takes a bite, then looks somewhat pleadingly at Alejandro. "I'm worried about the Guard. Things have been looking pretty grim since you left. With the King's health failing, we're just... worried. What are we going to do if he dies? The Queen can't hold the city together. She'll probably send us all out to guard a trade caravan to Magnimar, just so she can get the latest fashion! Commander Kroft is a honorable woman and will follow the law, but there are practicalities that we have to worry about. We have families. Once the Queen has dried up the treasury, who is going to feed them?" He slumps down, obviously suffering from low morale. "I haven't even seen Sergeant Grau for weeks. I heard he's been drinking heavily at Bailer's Retreat. Things are bad, Alejandro. A lot of the Guardsmen are talking about finding private work with the noble houses if things fall apart up here. I'm not asking you for anything from your family. I wouldn't ask something like that of you. I just want you to keep your ears open with some of your contacts, to make sure we don't end up on the wrong side."
"Big money backers, huh? Well..." she trails off as she sees his dirty shoes on the coverlet. "You fool! Lint-brained worthless sow of a donkey! Get your damned feet off the bed! This arrangement I have only works because the good owners of this house have no idea I use it in their absence!" She frantically brushes at the footprints, trying to get the marks off. "Clumsy, brainless, oaf! I don't know what skills you sold these big money backers on, but they should ask for a refund!" She slaps away the hand that had been making its way towards her thigh, then gets up and begins pacing about the room, the view of the Enclave forgotten for the moment.
"Still, it could be possible that you, in your idiocy, have stumbled upon exactly what I've been looking for. Where exactly is this meeting?"
@Alistair in North Point
Harius holds up a stack of contracts, thick and probably still dripping with ink. "You know this city, always producing paperwork! Too bad the Academae won't send down some wizards. I'm sure they could just cast a few spells here and there and be done with it. Considering the volume of paperwork, I'd even let a Cleric of Asmodeus do it!" He grimaces and turns around, hoping no one heard him. He looks to the floor and loudly speaks to it. "I did not mean that to be any sort of offer or contract!" He grins sheepishly before turning to the next topic.
Harius's voice fades into the background as Alistair comes over one of the papers in the unbelievably large stack. At first glance, it seems like the regular sort of financial transfer that would barely raise a glance. It likely didn't from Morvius, if he even took the time to look at it. However, Alistair is not your average clerk, and is neither lazy nor incompetent. He notices a few things that raise suspicion. The transfer in question is from an unnamed account in the Bank of Abadar (the first unusual point, as rarely do the Clerics of Abadar allow anonymity of the sort) for a piece of property long condemned by the Korvosan government. The property is a warehouse out in the West Dock, hardly a prime candidate for economic revival by a private buyer. It is several blocks away from the docks, which is probably why it was vacated in the first place. The most unusual point in the contract, though, is the price. 10,000 gold crowns is not a large sum by standard of Korvosan real estate, even in the relatively depressed West Dock area. There is no way that any business would receive such a low price without collusion from someone in the government. He looks over it up and down, back and forth, to make sure he is reading correctly. He folds it up neatly and puts it under the stack to later decide what to do about it. There is something very unusual about the transaction, and the list of people he might be comfortable talking to about the issue is very short. As he thinks to himself, Harius raps on his desk. "Are you all right? What have you got there?"
@Senjin in Old Korvosa
The young nobleman's son spits in anger. "You barbarian swine! You're just lucky that we didn't slaughter your ancestors when we brought some civilization to this ugly land. Shoanti are a drain on Korvosa and always have been! You're just as bad as the Varisians. All you do is sleep late into the day, then break into some hard-working people's homes to get the money to drink booze and do shivers! Why don't you head back out to the Cinderlands where you belong?" Conroy sneers at Senjin, the very image of an arrogant colonial master.
@Rica in Midland
Astin serenely sits in his chair with his fingers together in a bridge. The elf is, as always, inscrutable. "You have not visited home in a while. Your parents do worry about you, you know. You should see them sometime." He stands, a graceful movement that seems otherwordly. "I have a task for you. You need structure and guidance in your life. I have watched you since you left the Academae as you've floundered for something to do." Astin's voice is placating and calm, while his words are meant as sage advice from her oldest friend. "There is a meeting that I cannot attend, one that I wish for you to attend in my place. I believe that you will find something there that you can believe in, something greater than yourself."
@Elrith in South Shore
Knuckles begrudgingly take his feet off the bed. "If you wanted me to start taking my clothes off, you just had to ask." He chuckles for a moment until one of her arrows inches out of its quiver in her long elven fingers. "I'm just kidding! Anyway, I know better than to just tell you the address. You'll ditch me and secure the entire contract for yourself. No, we are going together. Meet me where Eodred Street meets Field Marshal Avenue and Harborview South. It's about time I took you on a proper date." He grins again and makes his way back to the door.
"Wait a minute," she says sternly.
As Knuckles turns around, he sees Elrith lay her bow down against the side of the bed and walk over to him, allowing her hips to sway in a willowy fashion. The heat rises to his cheeks slightly as she leans over as if to kiss him, then the air rushes out of his lungs as she fists him in the short ribs with one hand, while extracting a diamond bracelet belonging to the lady of the house from Knuckles' pocket with the other.
"I've told you before, I never take anything I can't replace." She walks back to the window, all trace of sultriness gone. "Now go. I'll meet you at your street corner. If this pans out like you say it should, you might even get a kiss for your troubles."
She resumes her gaze of the Enclave, her mood only slightly soured by the dusty bootprint on the coverlet. "This was such a nice house, too," she says to the empty room.
Alejandro listens intently to his friends worries, slowly making his way through his meal. He was making some very good points. Everyone knew the King was not long for this world, Alejandro himself feared what was to come next. The Queen was a good woman, but she had no head for politics. No, that had always been the Kings job.
Sighing softly, Alejandro sat back as the man finished, becoming lost in his thoughts. 'He raises some great points... But what can we do? First off we need to isolate the problems, face them one at a time. Yes, that is what my Grandfather would do!' Alejandro pushed away from the table before standing and moving towards the window. He stared out in to the street, frowning softly as his brain tried to work through everything.
'First off... The Treasury. Is there a way we could maybe liberate it from the Queens control? Maybe set in place a person to control it, to insure that everything was spent wisely? This could work... It could be messy though. Perhaps I could visit one of Fathers contacts in the Accounting houses... Later. This is not yet pressing!' Nodding softly, he began to pace.
'Second order of business... The Guards defecting. We can not have that, not in the slightest. The Guard are independent of the Noble Houses. We can not become their lapdogs. But... Should the economy collapse, where then do we turn? No... There has to be another way. Perhaps I... No. I can not fund a venture such of that. Also... If I did, I would still be privatizing the Guard, or at least that is how the Houses would see it. Maybe things will not get that bad. This is, after all, only if the Treasury runs dry!' Nodding softly he stopped, staring down at his boots.
'And lastly... Grau. Drinking again? I thought he had that under control. No. Of course not. Once an addict always an addict. Fine. Well as to that, it is his choice. But not now. Not when the Guard needs him!' Turning to his friend, Alejandro nodded softly, making up his mind.
"I will help in any way I can old friend, this I promise you. We will come up with something for the Treasury and to stop the Guard defecting, but for now, let us see if we can do something about our old Sergeant hey? After that, you can accompany me to see some of my Fathers contacts, if you have the time. And perhaps it is time I called on an old friend..."
Nodding softly, Alejandro hurried about the room, collecting a few items he would need; coinpurse, a few documents of import, his longsword and shield and finally his armor. Slipping in to the finely polished breastplate, he cinched the straps tightly, before slipping in to his dark black longcoat, leaving it open. Pulling a length of leather cord from behind his belt, he bound his hair up in to a high ponytail, before pulling on a set of black leather gloves.
"Now... Let us see about drying out a full grown man who should know a damn sight better!" Clapping the Half-Elf on the shoulder, Alejandro steered the man from the room, turning back to lock up, before heading out in to the early morning sun. "Lead on brother and I shall follow!"
10,000 gold crowns? That's more than a bargain! And since when has the Bank of Abadar dealt anonymously?
Realizing Harius had asked him a question, Alistair looks up. "Oh, it was nothing. I think there's a mistake on the paperwork, which means I'll have to go through some extra effort before I can send it out. Look, Harius, I would love to talk, but I really need to finish going over this stack of papers." Alistair stands up to walk Harius from the room. "Tell you what. We can have dinner later. We'll talk then." Harius is a good friend, but he talks too much. Alistair decides to play it safe and not mention the transfer to him, at least not yet.
Once Harius has been ushered out of the room, Alistair walks back and pulls out the suspicious financial transfer. He looks it over once more and makes a mental note of where the warehouse is located. Not entirely sure why, Alistair has the urge to investigate this himself. Something tells me there's more to this than I know just yet. I better check on it before I report, lest I cross someone I shouldn't. Last thing I want to do is bring attention to myself.
Alistair gets back to work, but his mind remains on the odd transfer.
@Alejandro in East Shore
Ellerin leads the way as asked, heading to find their old sergeant. Soldado Grau was the Watch Sergeant of the Korvosan Guard, in charge of supervising the Guard during the night in the East Short district. He had supervised both of them during their deployment in the often rough-and-tumble neighborhoods that border the Thief's Camp outside the eastern walls. Ellerin speaks as they walk towards the bridge that separates East Shore from Midland. "Before you got on, when I was a rookie, I went on a raid on some pesh dealers. I got separated from the others and ended up in a back alley, fighting two of them. I was the only thing that stood between them and freedom, and they knew it. They would have killed me if not for Grau. I held them off for what seemed like an hour, but it was probably just a minute. I could tell that I couldn't keep it up, though. Finally, just when I knew that it was almost over, Grau came up from behind them. Disarmed them both in a matter of seconds, then hamstrung them so that they couldn't run. He told me later that he had trained under Vencarlo Orisini out in Old Korvosa, but I didn't press on as to why he wasn't still with him. I always figured it had something to do with why he had a drinking problem. You were there, you know how we always covered for him. We all hoped that he would beat whatever demons he was drinking to escape, but it looks like they're winning right now. It's up to us to help him out." They arrive at High Bridge, currently covered in people walking to work from their homes in East Shore.
Alejandro pushes slowly through the street, behind the Half-Elf, keeping pace, listening intently as he began to speak.
'Grau saved your life did he? The old warrior still had his wits about him back then though. What will we find when we go searching for him? A shell I hazard, empty of all that made the man great, full of spirits and nothing else. It is a sad thing to see one such as him fall. Perhaps... Maybe we can stop it. So is that what we are at now? Questing to save an old Sergeant? Is there anything more worthy we could be doing? Truth be told... No. So this is it. "The biggest changes happen with the smallest steps!" Yeah yeah... I get it now. Didn't back then Father. But I do now!' He nodded softly as they reached High Bridge, pausing for a moment to stare out over it.
"We may not find much to save Ellerin. it may be that we are too late. I hope not however. Grau is a good man, he deserves a good death, not one wasted on alcohol. Covering for Grau was easy back then, when all we had to do was walk soft and make sure the Criminals whispered!" Alejandro grinned at his friend sadly. "Alas... Now we have bigger demons to silence. If we can not get Grau on to the right path soon Brother, he will die. And the Guard will be worse off without him. Hell... All of Korvosa will be worse off without him. We need to drag him out of this place and tie him up somewhere, wring the alcohol out of him. It is the only way. A couple days detoxing should wake him up to his problem. I hope..."
@Alistair in North Point
The day drags on as Alistair rushes through endless piles of paperwork, trying to get enough of it done so that he can investigate the unusual sale in the evening. He rushes a lot of the work, though he tries to maintain a semblance of his normal standard. It's not like Morvius would be able to tell the difference. Around high noon, the Epochal Tower in Castle Korvosa rings loudly over the city, signalling the hour across the town. As clocks are relatively rare, most of the citizens rely upon the Epochal to alert them as to when it is six hours past midnight, high noon, six hours past noon, and a much quieter ringing to tell them when it is midnight. Alistair looks around to make sure that Morvius hadn't suspended lunch. So far, it doesn't even appear that his employer bothered to show up at all for the morning shift. Alistair silently thanks the gods, as any time without that dreadful man is a blessing. He considers whether or not he has enough time to make it to the West Dock and back, but discounts the idea. Morvius will probably stroll in after the lunch hour and demand an accounting for the morning's activity. Forty minutes for lunch is all Alistair gets, and today it may well be used in its intended manner.
@Elrith at South Shore
After cleaning up Knuckles' mess and restoring the house to its pristine state, Elrith slips out of the house unnoticed. She sidles through the streets, looking for something to amuse her until it is time to meet up with Knuckles again. She heads towards the intersection that he specified, at least to get an idea of the flow of foot traffic and possible escape routes. It certainly has paid in the past for her to be prepared. The stroll to Eodred's Walk is an uneventful one, though the city is buzzing with activity as always. It never ceases to amaze Elrith at how persistently busy the humans were, never taking even a moment to stop and breathe and simply enjoy themselves. These Korvosans always seem to act as if they were amidst some emergency that requires their immediate attention, though the Taldans and Keleshites and every other set of humans she has seen act the same way. She arrives at the intersection to find more than a dozen shops of various types, including a tavern, a bookstore, a closed Varisian Harrow reader, a barding store, and much more. The two that hold the most interest for her are a clock store named The Time Stop and an archery store called Trapper's Hole. The Gold Market is just a stone's throw west, practically alive with its open-air stalls and tents that change daily.
@Alejandro at the High Bridge
Alejandro and Valez cross the High Bridge, though it is a fairly tight squeeze with the morning traffic. Most of them are likely headed to the Gold Market, the largest seller's fair in all of Korvosa. Only Kaer Maga likely has a larger market in all of Varisia, though any Korvosan would say that this is likely because they lack the critical infrastructure for permanent vendors. Stepping off of High Bridge, they make their way to Eodred's Square, the plaza just to the west. From there, they take an immediate right and head north towards Citadel Volshyenek. The Citadel, as the home base for the Korvosan Guard, is the most secure location in the city save Castle Korvosa. It is a home away from home for many guardsmen, and a literal home for the permanent garrison. Unlike many of the other buildings built in the Chelaxian colonial period, it is made of gray slate instead of the black Janderhoff marble that covers most of the others. According to history (and possibly legend), the walls were strong enough to withstand a direct blast from the ancient red wyrm Glarataxus, allowing the defenders the chance to ward off the dragon. As the impressive fortress begins looming over them from its vantage point overlooking the widest part of the Jeggare River, Valez turns to his former partner. "Do you miss it? Being in the Guard, I mean, not the Citadel. I'm pretty sure that you can see the Citadel from your apartment."
Elrith spends a few minutes staring into the front window of the Time Stop, marvelling, as if she were a small girl looking in a candy store window, at all the devices with the whirling gears and moving parts. There is peace to be found in the perfect and pristine order of clockworks, unlike the rigid societies some human cultures attempt to create where there is only oppression in the name of order. In a clock, a perfect microcosm functions, totally contained within itself, in perfect harmony within itself. Elrith closes her eyes, allowing the faint ticking her elven ears perceive through the thick windowpane to wash over her. Someday, she will own a clock of her own. She had stayed in a house once where the owners had a clock - at least, until that fool Knuckles knocked it off the mantlepiece. She feels at her backpack, searching for the impression of that single gear she had taken from the ruined clock, but it's buried too deeply among her belongings.
Shaking herself our of her reverie, she curses herself for losing track of her surroundings. She looks about, but sees no trouble. She makes her way to the Trapper's Hole and plunks four copper pieces down for use of the practice yard out back. She grimaces as she sees the narrow, fifty-foot room, but drops her pack, paces off thirty-five feet from the target, and spends an hour lost in the smooth motions of drawing, knocking, and releasing, trying to align her inner workings to match the clocks she had seen.
With her practice concluded, she drops another few coppers on a meal at a food vendor. Knuckles had better come through with this meeting, or she'd have to find herself another mark for the month...
As they turn on to the road that will lead them to the Citadel, Alejandro found himself standing straighter, holding himself higher. Did he miss the Guard? Yes. More than anything. He had spent only a short time in their ranks, buy by the Gods he wished he could have gone back. It had suited him. To the ground. He had had a way to interact with the low born, a way to make a real difference. It had been, truth be told, the perfect place for him.
'Not that I mind resigning my commission of course, it is, after all, what a man should do, when his Family has fallen to a hard spot. It is just... I do not know... Can I admit it to myself? I hated having to leave the Guard. I really did. I had felt at home, truly at home. Yes I love my family and aspire to be just like my Father and Grandfather, one day, but... I could have done that in the Guard, couldn't I? He frowned thoughtfully, chewing on his lip.
"Do I miss the Guard? All the time Brother. More than you could know. It suited me, the Guard. It was my way of trying to bring about change. I would have fought hard, maybe made Captain in a few years and I would have done something. I would have spoken out against the monopoly the Noble houses have here in the city. I would have damned even my own House, if it meant I could have helped the Common man. Perhaps it is for the best then, that I had to resign. But... I will tell you this for nothing. Seeing that Citadel, every damned day from my window, I wish for nothing more than to run back to the Guard. I dream of getting my resignation revoked, of turning up one day in uniform to stand by you and my other Brothers once again. By all the Gods in this world I do!"
Shaking himself softly, he forced himself to slouch slightly. 'No point in pretending I am something I am not, any more!'
@Elrith at Eodred's Walk
As Elrith enjoys a surprisingly tasty bit of meat from the vendor, an older man comes out of the Trapper's Hole and walks towards her. He walks with a stride that is almost military in bearing, though his salt-and-pepper hair suggests that he is a bit too old for service. He flags her down, intent on having a word with her. "Excuse me, miss! I'm Jope Chantsmo, owner of the Trapper's Hole. I was watching you as you practiced. You're good, though I have yet to meet an elf who isn't at least decent at shooting a bow. You, though, have a great eye for it. I've been looking for a good bow tutor since my last one got drafted. Make your own hours, liveable wages."
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
As the friendly shopkeeper makes his offer, Elrith's first reaction is the usual: suspicion. She's about to start grilling this guy about his true motives, when she catches sight of a small face outside the clock shop. Quickly pitting two and two together, she allows herself a small, bemused smile and instead replies, "Well, that's very kind of you to offer, Mr. Chantsmo, very kind indeed. My own hours, you say?"
An honest to goodness job! That would be a new one! Might be kind of nice to not have to worry about the law while trying to earn her meals - best to save that worry for when she's working on her real passion.
"I am very tempted indeed to take you upon your offer. May I return tomorrow with an answer for you?"
@Alejandro at Citadel Volshyenek
Valez chuckles darkly at Alejandro's comment. "It may be a possibility soon if the draft rumors are true. I haven't heard anyone confirming it, but it's what we think might come down if the Guard falls apart." He leads on silently, passing through the throngs of people as they enter the West Dock. It's a shady area, one frequently patrolled by Guardsmen but never quelled of its criminal element. Warehouses line the street to one side, with the docks and dockhouses on the other. Rough characters wheel items from the docks to the warehouses, frequently giving the pair of them nasty looks. As Ellerin is in uniform, they are not really a welcome pair in the neighborhood. His hand rests easily on his sword, not grasping it but making sure it is close if necessary. They arrive at Bailer's Retreat, hoping that the ratio of Guardsmen to former prisoners is a favorable one.
Ellerin leads them in, striding into the bar as if he owns the place. At the very least, he hopes to confidently preempt any action of the drunken bar patrons who were quite recently released from the jail in Citadel Volyshyenek. In a corner booth, nursing a half-empty mug of booze, sits their friend Grau. As they sit next to him, he looks up with red, glassy eyes and growls at them in a slurred voice, "What do you pair want?"
@Elrith at Eodred's Walk
Jope smiles at her, a friendly gesture. "Take your time. I've only got a handful of students, but I'm getting a little too old and grumpy to deal with the novices. I find that I enjoy the piece and quiet of repairing bows and arrows, and occasionally ordering new pieces. I got enough excitement for an elf's lifetime in the Sable Company." He is a handsome man, though his age is beginning to show. Elrith finds it difficult to estimate the age of humans, placing him somewhere between 40 and 60. It's always been difficult for her to make that guess, as elves age in a dramatically different manner with little outward appearance changes after reaching maturity. "The pay is five silver shields per appointment. It's not great, but decent for a part-time gig and enough to live on. Have you got a name so I know who I might be paying soon?"
"Well I can not make any promises for anyone else Brother but... If that should happen, I am sure I can persuade my Mother to take you on as the Guard Captain of the House!" he smiled, clapping the man on the shoulder as they wound there way through to the docks.
The West Docks were a scum pool just waiting to explode. They had always sat too close to the Citadel for his liking. It was not the excess of the Common man, that bothered him, nor the criminal activity. It was the area itself. An area like this bred contempt and fear of the Guards, as much as it bred hate and malice. It was not an area to be messed with, not in the slightest, but the Guard did there part. Sighing, Alejandro shook his coat back over his sword, giving himself an easier reach to the hilt. His hand hovered over the grip, ready to draw at the first sign of trouble. He did not need to look over at Ellerin to know that the mans stance matched his own.
"This place is getting worse I see. I am afraid I do not really make my way down here much, now that I am retired!" He threw the Half-Elf a crooked grin, before following him in to the tavern.
As they moved though the grimy interior, Alejandro scanned the tables around him, curious as to whether he knew anyone. They reached the table and all else dropped off. Taking a seat, at the opposite side of the Sergeant, Alejandro leaned forward, his elbows resting on the table.
"Sergeant Grau, what in the name of the Gods are you doing man? You stink of piss and you look like an ogres sweaty nutbag!" He threw the man a grin, to show he was joking, before speaking again. "Sergeant... We are here to take you home. You have spent too much time here. You need to be sharp and sober for the morning. The Guard needs you man. Who is going to scare the hells out of the new recruits if you are not there?"'Please Gods let this work!'
Senjin laughs roughly. "That's a laugh coming from you. The sunrise could be purple every morning and you would be the last to know."
Senjin ignores the bucket that slams the stall door next to him, but it does startle the mare within. "Shh..Shh..Myra its fine." Senjin opens her stall and gently calms her.
He fits a lead on her, and then Saberwing in the neighboring stall before leading the pair out to the yard. He calls back over his shoulder, "Conroy, you got shovel duty today. Shovel is by the door."
He was glad to make it out to the yard. Conroy could only guess how close he hit with his barb. But Conroy also never knew what it meant to be really hungry. Senjin felt a little guilty himself at the amount of food he was allowed here at the barracks. A days worth of food here could have lasted him a week on the streets. In fact, there was so much food here, Senjin even had the thought of trying to get food out for the little ones back at his old home. But he knew what going home would mean.
A tug on the leads brings Senjin back. The hippogriffs were eager to get a stretch and an inattentive stablehand was not making this happen. Dwelling on those thoughts allows Senjin to fully appreciate Saberwing and Myra. So quickly finding new friends who needed him, truly made him feel that this was a new family.
@Alejandro in Bailer's Retreat
Sergeant Grau dejectedly returns to his drink. "They should be scared about how this town's going to the dogs. There's nothing worth fighting for anymore. When the King kicks the bucket, the whole thing's gonna unravel. They're gonna fight over the scraps of Korvosa, even if it means tearing apart the city like a pack of wild dogs." He slams his mug against the table and starts raising his voice. "Just you watch, the criminals are going to be out of control! Scum like these otyughs," he says while gesturing to a few shady-looking characters at the bar, "are going to be free to rape and murder whoever they want!"
One of the shady-looking characters stands up from his bar stool. He is a giant of a man, easily six and a half feet tall, all muscle and anger. There may even be a faint green tint to his skin. It wouldn't surprise anyone if his grandfather is an orc. "What did you call me?"
@Elrith at Eodred's Walk
Jope offers a polite bow and a smile, then returns to his establishment. It seems a fair enough offer, and she does have enough skill with the bow to be able to teach some kids looking to join the Sable Company or the Korvosan Guard. She sits back to consider it, lost in the flurry of movement and activity in the Gold Market and the shops of Eodred's Walk. She is likely an odd sight, sitting still for hours on end, but it is the way of elves to have no sense of time passing. Until the Epochal Tower rings in the noon hour, she barely realizes how long she has been out. Nearly as soon as the Tower's ringing fades, the number of people in the Market doubles with laborers looking for a meal and a quick shopping trip.
@Senjin in Old Korvosa
Conroy doesn't follow Senjin into the courtyard. The Shoanti man is wise not to rise to the spoiled noble's bait, knowing that money means more in Korvosa than being in the right. With the pair of hippogriffs in good spirits, it doesn't take long for Senjin to get into a better mood. By the time Sergeant Fristwell arrives to take them out for their flight practice, the conversation is all but forgotten. The gruff soldier, a veteran Sable Company Marine, takes the reins of Saberwing from Senjin and climbs on. "Care to take a ride around the island? Myra's been acting up lately and I don't trust her not to fly off chasing some imp without a rider. It's not that hard, not much different really than riding a horse. The only difference is that screwing up means you fall to your death." He lets out a dark chuckle, his black humor belying the scope of the favor he is showing Senjin by allowing him to ride even for a short period.
Elrith notes the passed time and lets out another curse at her inattentiveness, this time loud enough and crude enough to cause a pair of passing wagon drivers to jump and blush and a mother to claps her hands over the ears of her two small children and lead them across the street. She ignores them as she makes her way into the Time Stop.
Once inside, she peers about for either Laya or Myra Undermountain. "Must be in the back," she mutters softly to herself. She finds herself an advantageous position to watch the door to the back and stands there with her arms crossed in what she hopes is a stern look. So intent is she on the door that she fails to notice Laya quietly move up behind her...
Luca's eyes jolt open and the sun invades them, scouring his fitful dreams from his mind. He winces and buries his head for a moment, before looking up with a charming if sickly smile. 'Just something quick. Roast some bread and maybe fetch me a strip of bacon with some water. I have been rather tardy this morning.'
Luca was famed for his tardiness in the household, always rising late, a constant source of annoyance for his father. The boy doesn't even carouse, he just bloody sleeps. Luca's activites had givent he man little sleep over the last few months, and his eyes were growing increasingly dark circles, which coupled with his limp only made him seem that much more sickly and frail.
After the woman leaves Luca steps out of bed and goes through his excercises, his bady actually quite fit and leanly muscled despite his slender frame and injured leg. After doing his stretches and push ups, he rubs at his old wound fitfully, before dressing himself in fitting pants, though looser than was fashionable to accomadate his leg, a white shirt, and a fine scrollworked long coat in a dark blue. He ties his hair back, and neglects to shave his slight stubble before taking his finely made cane, engraved with seagulls and linnorms and limping to the door before affecting the more pained, frail hobble of Lucadeno Jeggare. His life, or at least one of them.
After breakfast he hurries up to his fathers study, knocking politely and standing at the ready, leaning on his cane in truth as his exahustion momentarily resurfaces.
Senjin's face lights up. "Yes Sir...I mean Sarge." Senjin rushes off to get two saddles. He reprimands himself for addressing the Sergeant incorrectly, saluting and rank are all so new to him. Sergeant Fistwell has been with the Marines forever, yet he is a rank below brand new officers like Conroy will likely be some day. And yet he knows everyone respects his wisdom and inherent authority. That is something Senjin can definitely appreciate. I don't want a rank, but to have the respect Sarge gets ...to walk the city without worry. No one would dare bother a Marine Sergeant.
Senjin races out of the tack room. And quickly has the saddles in place and starts in on the straps, eager to show Sergeant how efficiently he can get the saddles in place....
Fistwell chuckles at his enthusiasm, "Slow down there, Senjin. Take your time, double check. Your saddle is your lifeline out there." But he is satisfied as he checks Senjin's work, he finds the saddles fit and tightened properly.
Seeing the Sergeant's nods of approval, "Don't worry Sarge, I slept on the streets enough to know I don't want end up back on them."
Fistwell cocks his head, he knew he took a risk taking in this kid who grew up out there in the slums, but he has performed well. Much like he did when he got his chance to escape his fate. Then the joke hits him. The Sergeant laughs as he mounts. "Aye..Keeping off the streets has worked for me all these years. That is lesson number one."
Senjin mounts and feels the rush as Myra lifts off with a grace that belies her size. Oh Yes. After this, there is no going back to the streets.
@Elrith in The Time Stop
Laya comes up quietly behind Elrith, as halflings are generally sneaky and difficult to notice. She sneaks up behind the elf before waylaying her with a stream of bubbly talk. "Oh, Myra's going to be so excited when you start working here! You'll really be part of the community here! I'm so excited myself! Jope is a great man to work for, and marriageable too! Well, if you're willing to be a stepmother to his kids, that is. You see, he's a widower. Lost his wife to consumption a few years back. It's a shame that the clerics couldn't heal her. He tried a few times, but it didn't stick. He had to give up his pension with the Sable Company, but I'm sure he didn't mind. Oh, well. What can I help you with? Do you need some more clockwork pieces? I can make you a fine timepiece if that's what you're interested in. If you want some simple gears and pulleys, I've got that too!" Surprisingly, or perhaps not for anyone who has met the diminutive shopkeeper, that was said with a single breath.
@Lucadeno in the Heights
Luca's knock is answered by a gruff, deep voice. This voice has frequently spoken words of expectations, disappointment, and mild annoyance, but rarely of affection or pride towards Luca. "Yes, Lucadeno, come in." Luca walks into the study, seeing his father behind his large oak desk. Lord Jeggare is a shrewd businessman and an able politician, but treats even his family relationships like business. Having invested quite a bit in Lucadeno's education and upbringing, the return on investment has been rather disappointing thus far. Luca's father's grey, steely eyes bear down on the young man, as they always do. "I have a task for you, son. Well, more accurately, I have a task for your brother Leonardo, but I need to keep it within the family. Go to him down at the West Dock. Assist him in any way he sees necessary, but remember to be discreet. There is a property manner that has come to my attention involving a piece of property not far from our holdings, long held by the Crown as a condemned warehouse. It was sold for far less than market value, but no one knows to whom. Tell Leonardo that it is his responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure that one of our competitors is not attempting to commandeer our territory and contracts, and to handle it if this is what it turns out to be. The sale suggests that someone knows something is going to happen and wants to be prepared for it." He returns to writing, his lack of a farewell a pointed but common omission.
@Senjin in Old Korvsoa
As they give the hippogriffs their morning exercise, Senjin and Sergeant Fristwell enjoy each other's company quietly. They can't really speak over the wind, not while maintaining the proper wingspan difference between their mounts. Fristwell has always liked Senjin, from when the young Shoanti arrived at his doorstep looking for a job. The grizzled veteran saw quite a bit of himself in Senjin and offered him a stable job on the spot. Seeing his skill with the hippogriffs, he regrets that Senjin doesn't have the financial backing to train as a cadet in the Sable Company Marines. The hereditary focus on the recruits is not a matter of class issues, but rather one of practicality: hippogriffs are expensive animals to breed and rear. Since the beginning of Korvosa, the moneyed classes have been responsible for the aerial cavalry, treating it as their right and responsibility. A culture of gentleman warriors existed around the Sable Company, at least at first. These days, a good number of the noble families shirk their duty to Korvosa, sending proxies in their stead. These proxies are usually promising young men of middle-class families, not street urchins like Senjin, but Fristwell would rather fight alongside warriors with stout hearts and good work ethics than some of the spoiled dandies he has to mold into some semblance of warriors. After one good flight around Endrin Isle, upon which Old Korvosa is situated, he gracefully lands in the training field with Senjin behind him. "Good job, Senjin. You could teach some of these cadets a thing or two about riding a 'griff."
Floundered? Rica would hardly describe anything she did as floundering. She opened her mouth to object as he spoke, but then thought better of it as the idea of her parents actually worrying about her sunk in. She knew, on some level, that they worried, but given the complexity of their relationship, it was often better to pretend they didn't care at all. "Last time I visited, father was out, and all that was waiting for me was...well, you know how mother gets when father goes out," Rica grumbles, rubbing her eyes again. She really should get a wet rag for them, but it could wait until Astin was gone.
"What manner of meeting?" she asks, suddenly interested. "Should I drag out the old...fineries, or will my normal attire do?" There isn't even a question of whether she'll go or not, she was as good as there the moment Astin requested her presence. At this point, she's just worried about whether or not she'll be forced to wear her old dresses or not.
As the Epochal Tower rings loudly that it is high noon, Alistair stands up and stretches. Might as well grab some lunch. Morvius is sure to be here shortly after... Alistair sticks the financial transfer for the warehouse under a few folders where it is unlikely to be found while he is out. That last thing he wants right now is to have to talk about it with Morvius.
On his way out of the office, Alistair spots Harius in the hallway. "Harius! Come join me for lunch, eh?" He walks over to Harius so that he doesn't have to shout. "Sorry for blowing you off earlier, but I really needed to get as much work done as possible. Let me make it up to you. I'll buy your lunch today!"
Harius laughs. "You'll buy my lunch for me today because you owe me from last week!"
Alistair and Harius head out to their favorite spot, a small local shop that specializes in stews. The meals are relatively inexpensive and surprisingly filling. They joke about work and women, and all around have a good time. The two are just finishing up as the hour nears its end.
Not sure how much a meal for two would be. Let me know and I'll subtract it from my total.
@Rica in Midland
Astin cocks his head in that unusual way of his at her question. "You should wear whatever you are comfortable in. This is not a meeting in which formality will play a great role, but rather a collection of individuals whose point of view I believe it is important that you understand." He hands her a scrap of paper with an address written on the back in his flowing handwriting. "I appreciate your presence there, and I suggest that you listen to what is said." He stands to leave, giving her a quick bow. For all of his years, Astin's sense of chivalry is not the least bit dulled. "Try to find the opportunity to visit your parents. They do miss you greatly."
@Alistair in North Point
The lunch hour sees many of the city's bureaucrats out for their meals, flooding the streets near City Hall and the Longacre Building. Out at Jeggare Circle, a number of students from the University are protesting the name of Dead Shoanti Way, claiming that it is unnecessarily hostile to the indigenous population. Most of the government employees ignore the young protestors, largely the teenage children of the city's merchant class, and go on about their business. Harius is good company, if a little bit uninteresting. As they watch the protestors go about their business and prepare to head back to City Hall, he turns to Alistair. "It looks like they've been smoking too much flayleaf and listening to that crazy Amycus. They should head out to Abken with the druids, grow their hair long, and talk about the power of the moon!" He laughs a bit at his own joke.