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There are many benefits to living in the city. Shops on every street corner. Water pumps every other. By the Nine, there are streets. For those who succeed in the city, it can be a paradise. Tubs lined with gold, grapes from vineyards far to the west, silken robes woven by elven hands far to the east, and power from the realms far above and far below. Yet, even for those who succeed, there is no rest in the city. Even the greatest among the citizens of Marid’s Fall are constantly on watch, and even now their schemes are in work.
In the Wildren District, in his gleaming mirror tower, the Guildmaster of the Masters of Avalon, the Ruin Chanter sits at his desk. Once, Marid’s Fall was his ruin. But mortals came, and rebuilt his home. And as they built it up, so they built him up. Now the Ruin Chanter was a being of the city, sure as any of the mortals who ran beneath his feet. A giant chessboard was laid out before him, and as the sun set beneath the horizon, the Ruin Chanter played a game with rules only he could comprehend.
Below the streets of the Smithy district, a council was being held. Nine dwarves, faces colder than iron, sat around a mighty stone table. At the head, a tenth figure, surrounded by a shroud of steam, pointed a single gauntleted finger at a newspaper which had been printed that morning by the gnomes of the Daily Gazette. Not a word was spoken, for no words were needed between these ancient beings of earth. They were almost as old as the Ruin Chanter, and twice as vindictive, and they would not take these offenses lightly. The traitor would be found, and the status quo would be enforced.
As the shadows of dusk lengthened, in the Butchers’ District, a man purchased a flank of beef. Coin was exchanged, as were pleasantries. A scene completely ordinary to an outsider, but anyone who knew the city well would note that the shop in question belonged to the Bloodletters’ Guild, who catered to the elven population of the city-who were restricted by religious law from eating the meat of plains animals. That, and the coins exchanged were certainly not gold.
In the center of the city, Portal Square, a solitary figure stood. Massive, encased in armor decorated with onyx and bronze but carrying no weapons, the gigantic man stared at the nearby clocktower. As the first bells began to toll, he stepped through an archway of bronze gears and brass pistons, but did not appear on the other side. Nearby, the man’s master nodded once, and returned to the simple quarters which housed the Ringwarden’s Guild.
This, as dusk fell over Marid’s Fall, the city.
Now enter Marid’s Fall, the prison.
For though a city has many benefits, there are costs that come with it as well. If you asked an average citizen of Marid’s Fall what their least favorite part of living there was, the answer one would inevitably receive over and over again is “How quickly things spread.”
In the depths of the Elven Quarter, a dimly lit room hold hosts to a strange sort of party. The men and women attending wore clothing of varying states of disrepair and wealth. Elves all, the one thing their dress had in common was the masks. For each wore a mask stylized to represent the Forest, an ancient elven deity. And commanding the subtle attention of each party-goer was the pair standing deep in conversation-one in a crisp, three-piece suit, the other in a gown woven of ancient leaves.
By the Southern Gates of the city, a place known for the high amount of fiend-touched who live there, the clinking of chains could be heard. A line of ragged and starved mortals, maybe fifty of varying origin and culture, were being led through the dusky streets by a group of men with red-tinged skin. Each carrying a chain which in the fading light almost seemed to writhe on its own accord, the men directed their charges into a cemetery, and down the stairs of a deep mausoleum. There, in a room lit by molten metal, ancient rites were being conducted, and unholy words spoken. A pact of cold, rusting iron was being made, and for these men, nothing was stronger.
Between the Butcher’s District and the Milltown, by a mortal-fashioned river of blood and dye run-off, two former enemies met in secret. Two madmen, by the dying light of the holy day, sealed their contract in blood, drug, and steam. Though no formal agreement had been reached, two Families were rapidly approaching the day when they would become one, and for his part, Crazy Bob was most pleased.
In a much nicer part of town, the Three Stars Theatre had just finished the final performance of an old favorite, The Desert King and the Raven. Sophia Wood, reprising her seminal role as the Raven, had given what many would agree was one of the best performances of her career. For a select few however, this night was not so much about what Sophia did, as what she didn’t do. The message received, the two Aasimar quickly departed the theatre. When Sophia returned to her dressing room, she knew her duty was complete, by the single phoenix feather upon her vanity.
And, finally, as Marid’s Fall’s clocktower struck the final peal to signal seven in the evening, five associates met in an abandoned warehouse by the common docks, to begin the most dangerous, and possibly most profitable, venture any had been a part of to date.
Finally, the sun set. The jewel of the Confederacy of Blades slept. Yet that night’s activity had barely begun…
ATTENTION ANYONE WHO I'M PLAYING WITH:
No news is good news.
Fresh from the Technists Vault, after a lively monthly meeting, he came to the warehouse. Not in anything fancy, but this simple looking human, for those who knows where to look, has a cog on a necklace, where the a rune is carved. Simmilar to the giants rune writing, yet with... diffrent infulnces.
And he sits down, waiting for the others to get here, and see what the boss is planing.
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A mass of dirty patched robes lean against a lichen covered wall. Passerbys would have thought it simply garbage, if not for the random weathered hand or blacken sole stuck out through its many folds. As the clock tower echoes in the night, the robes rise up on uneasy feet and with a shuffling uneven gait staggers into the night. The robes stumble into an alley of an abandoned warehouse, before a click of a lock and screech of unoiled hinges break the silence. On the inside of the structure, a well dressed man walks with a purposeful and swift gait. He joins the assembly, sitting quietly as his eyes scour each patron. Apparently satisfied, he simply sits back in his chair and is still.
Heavy metal footsteps killed off what silence remained. They were slow, and belonged to a tall, overbearing man who looked forward as he walked. Grabbing a crate, he dragged it behind him, its weight unable to slow the man's walk. He lets go of it, placing it in front of the other four, and sits on it, the wooden supports creaking under his weight. He looks up at the four of them, an expression of thought and aggressiveness displayed on it.
"If you are currently disguised, raise your hand. If you have any protective magic on you right now, giving you some sort of 'edge' in the discussion we are about to have, get rid of it. As much as I enjoy the company of each of you, if you won't be honest here and now, I'm afraid you have no place in this talk.
"You all know me. You all know I called you here, because I said I have something you want. Something you crave. You know what it is. I know what it is. That can wait until later.
"You may or may not know one another. We're going to fix that.
"Say your name, talents and profession.
"I am Oren Weaver, I'm very good at throwing my weight around and I'm the head of my family."
Avatar drawn by LostOne, many praises and prayers be to he.
Drat waits patiently as he listens to Oren. Matt and Hyacincth, technology and accidents. In the lull that followed Drat raised his hand and going against his philosophy he begins to say in rich voice, "Disguised implies a desire to mislead or obscure some truth. While my current appearance is a facade, it is not meant to deceive who are gathered. It is meant to ensure my profession is done to the best of my ability. Consider my faces to be a sheath, it protects the keen edge within. You may call me Lucien..." He hesitates a moment before saying, "But my birth name was Drat. My abilities encompass the arts of infiltration, subterfuge, espionage and information gathering. I'm also not opposed to dirtying my hands if the need arises. On a personal note I tend to be a tad long winded, but precise."
"Good. Glad to see you're being forward, Drat. The others'll open up in time." Oren says, leaning his head to the right, a sharp crack ringing out. And again on the left. "But that'll happen later on. As we start doing... business.
"I've lived in this city my entire life. There's good, there's bad, and they change whether they're one or the other constantly. If someone's dying, you can bet someone else finally fed their family. If someone's being robbed, you can bet he'll get poisoned. If someone finally achieved their dream, you can bet someone'll be there to put him back off of cloud nine, and take away his silver lining too.
"And frankly? I think the city could do better.
"Now, I'm not proposing we simply clean up the streets. And I'm not saying we should rule this city from the shadows.
"I'm saying we do both. And make a pretty coin off of doing so.
"My family has been more or less removed from the city for generations. Yes, we've had money, but we've also had reluctance and uncertainty. We've had doubts and no ambition whatsoever to keep people from screwing it over on a daily basis, regardless of how good or bad their deed is.
"But I plan on changing that.
"I plan on taking over this city, one building, one street, one block at a time, and keeping it from zealots and fools, making sure no one can worsen the city again without me knowing about it, without them thinking about what consequence lies in store.
"Now I know you all. Some longer than others. But I know for certain that if I'm going to do this, if I'm to pull this off, I'm going to need information. I'm going to need magic. I'm going to need eyes where many can't go. I'm going to need tech. And you all can provide that for me.
"And in return, I promise protection, coin and power.
"And possibly some bloodshed.
"We can iron out details later on, but the point remains now.
"Who is in?"
Avatar drawn by LostOne, many praises and prayers be to he.