Nova Liberdade

Faerie tales from beyond the veil to the streets of RhyDin

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The Regent In Red
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: The Stolen Ones Court of RhyDin City

Nova Liberdade

Post by The Regent In Red » Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:23 pm

July 8, 2020
Windmire Manor


“Excuse me...can you repeat that again?” The twin-toned, reverberating voice of the Regent in Red seemed to bounce around the old main bedroom of Windmire Manor, now stripped of most of its furniture save for the mahogany writing desk and ergonomic chair they now sat in. Just above them, the *thud-thud-thud* of contractors' hammers could be heard, fixing the hole blown into the mansion’s roof by the delinquents’ mortar two and a half weeks ago.

“Somewhere between 30 and 35 million...er, chefe.” Before the Regent stood a short woman with long brown hair past her shoulders, black eyes with no irises almost hidden behind Coke-bottle glasses, and two sets of arms. She clutched a massive sheaf of papers with her four hands, trying her best not to shiver in the presence of the new Stolen Ones Court leader.

“And that’s Rhydin silver nobles, right?”

“Correct, chefe.” She thrust the papers toward the Regent and tried to rush out the bedroom door, but he did not take the bait.

“Wait.” Though they put no additional emphasis or glamour on the word, it still stopped the woman in her tracks with an unexpected squeak. “Please, explain this to me again, because...honestly? I’m very confused right now. Here, take my seat.”

“If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather stand?” The Regent regarded her for a second, their masked head tilted to the side, before they nodded.

“Fair enough, Lasiodora. But, still, please, walk me through this again.”

She sucked in a deep breath, shook the papers in her hands a couple of times, and then her explanation came in a torrent of words. “So, you told me that you found out that Sandman had been embezzling money from the Stolen One Court here pretty much since he took power, and that he’s been in power since 1989 or so? Well obviously he got rich because he owned a place like this, but he was also smart enough to figure out a way to hide everything he had stolen and the fact that he had stolen it for most of that time. It’s probably how he kept power so long. He just paid all the people he needed to pay to keep him safe and to keep his money safe. Now the thing is, most of the Stolen Ones weren’t anywhere near rich, nor were the businesses they ran or the businesses the Court ran. So there were limits in how much was actually available to embezzle, how much they could take before people would notice, and the costs of laundering that money. It wasn’t like he was clearing a million silvers a year for 30 years. Now, you’re probably wondering, ‘How did he get so much money if he wasn’t?’”

“Yes, I am.” The Regent tried not to let their irritation show in their voice too much, but a startled “Eep!” still escaped from Lasiodora.

“Sorry, chefe! I’ll get to the point. Compound interest.”

“Compound...interest?”

“Correct, compound interest. Instead of just spending the money he stole haphazardly as it came in, he invested it. In a lot of different businesses in a lot of different countries, using a fair number of proxies to hide his actual involvement in it all.” She slapped at the back of her documentation, then set it down on the desk. “All right here if you want to take a look at it.”

“Perhaps later, but for now, I trust your judgement.” A smile could almost be heard in the Regent’s voice there. “Please, continue?”

“Right, so, compound interest, like I was saying...some of these businesses were publicly traded on various stock markets, gave out dividends to investors, the stocks split, and so on. Sandman kept putting his money back into the companies. Markets go up and go down in the short term, but in the long term, RhyDin’s a growing, profitable planet. Things just keep getting more and more valuable. And as they do, his investment grew and grew and grew at an almost exponential rate. Throw in some usurious loans, some timely blackmail and --”

“All right, all right, I think I get the point. He didn’t just blow the money on hookers and blow.” The Regent chuckled as Lasiodora’s face turned bright red. “So, if I heard you right, there’s not an exact figure?”

“Well, no. We know what this mansion was last assessed for but that was nearly a year ago -- New Haven property generally appreciates in value well, but who knows, some crazy Warlord could challenge for and win the Barony and decide that they want to burn the whole district down. Not to mention your friends--

“Friends and allies,” the Regent said in a tone that brooked no dispute.

“Right, right, friends and allies,” she repeated, mimicking their emphasis. “Well, they took more than a few spoils of war.”

“I can’t imagine there’s anything that would be a significant addition to the figure you already cited.”

“Well, no, but --”

“-- So, we have to have the mansion assessed, before we sell it. And then there’s his investments, his stocks, his shares of various business interests, his bank accounts, his retirement funds, things of that nature?”

“Correct. Because markets fluctuate day to day, week to week, and because he owned so much, we likely won’t know the final amount until we pull the trigger and cash everything out.”

“So...30 million silvers is a conservative estimate, yes?” Lasiodora nodded so enthusiastically that the Regent thought her head might snap off. They held a calming hand up, before drumming their knuckles on the documents. “All right. I’ll take a look at these and let you know if I see anything that piques my interest, but I think you’ve done a very good job on this, Lasiodora. Thank you.”

“Th-thank you, chefe!” Her face turned crimson at the praise, and she began hustling towards the door. Before she could exit the Regent called to her once more.

“Lasiodora?” It halted her progress at the worst possible time, as she stumbled and smashed her face against the door, knocking her glasses from her face. She knelt down and, after she accidentally pushed them a few times away from her, eventually grasped hold of them and donned them once more. “Desculpa. I just wanted to ask you to lock the door when you left.”

“Oh, right!” After nudging her glasses back up on the bridge of her nose, Lasiodora opened the door, pushed the button lock in, and shut it behind her. Only when they were confident they were alone did they shift their voice from that dual contralto/countertenor to one nasal and raspy tenor.

Jesus Christo, what are we supposed to do with 30 million silvers?”
“If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity — only a great man can stand prosperity.

Robert Ingersoll
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Bailey Raptis
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:25 pm
Location: Can be found many places, but resides in a row house in the Kabuki Street neighborhood

Return of the Snake

Post by Bailey Raptis » Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:17 pm

August 5, 2020
North Cadentia Safari Park


The name “North Cadentia Safari Park” was a slight misnomer. The compound was a little more east of the city of RhyDin than it was south, located well off the usual roads that travelers took to get to Cadentia proper. Visitors wouldn’t pass the Last Chance Saloon or the Cadentia Sunny Mart on their way to the park, but instead travel down a narrow two-lane highway where tumbleweeds outnumbered people by a substantial margin. Still, the safari’s owners were stubborn Cadentians, and clung to that name even if calling it the South RhyDin Safari Park made more sense from a geographic and marketing standpoint.

The Safari Park actually looked more like a zoo, just stretched out over a far larger expanse of land than a typical city-bound menagerie. It had many of the same sorts of enclosures and exhibits one would see in similar zoos in RhyDin’s bigger cities: a high-netted structure for sphinxes, an artificial mountain with a pair of bonded yetis, burrows filled with carbuncles and Mongolian death worms. But there were also large swathes of magically terraformed land, rain forests and rolling plains and frozen tundra to go along with the native desert. The owners offered several tiers of tickets to interested customers -- the cheapest option was enough to see just the enclosures within walking range of the parking lot, while upgrades allowed visitors to jump aboard open-air jeeps and tour the various biomes while getting up close and personal with their denizens. Business was hit or miss, but enough people were interested in seeing cryptids in the closest thing to their natural habitats on RhyDin that they managed to scrape by.

Ninguém pulled his rented Land Rover into a spot far from other vehicles and made the long walk across the parking lot to the ticket gate. Little about his appearance stood out, and that was by design. He wore a black RVCA t-shirt, khaki shorts, and white shoes, with a pair of Ray-Bans tucked neatly into the collar of his shirt. He stood just a hair under six feet tall, solidly muscled, with brown hair and eyes and a five o’clock shadow. He paid for his ticket with RhyDinian silver nobles, prompting the usual grumble from the cashier as he pushed through the safari park’s turnstiles and out onto the main concourse. He glanced at the paper map he’d been handed briefly, before tossing it onto the ground and turning left, heading past the skunk ape enclosure to the reptilian cryptid building. He passed a swampy pool filled with bunyips, a special shaded cage with basilisks inside, and an artificial river teeming with green-scaled, flame-covered boitatás. Ninguém walked past all these, towards a small fenced in area just outside of the building. Sand and a pair of stripped eucalyptus trees stood there, along with a plaque warning of drop bears. Ninguém took note of the sleeping creatures, shook his head, and looked for what had actually brought him here. Soon, he found it. A candy apple green snake slithered across branches, down the trunk of a tree, through the sand, and up onto that plaque near Ninguém.

Senhor Serpente,” he said, one arm folded across his chest in a quick bow.

“No need for formalities, Ninguém. The Snake or just Snake will be fine.” If there had been any eavesdroppers, they might have been surprised that the Snake’s speech was less sibilant than one might expect, closer to a cat’s purr in that moment. But Ninguém and the Snake had found a quiet corner of the park to speak in, with no other creatures or visitors or staff around to hear them.

“Snake, then. Thanks for meeting me on short notice.”

“But of course. What news do you bring me?”

Ninguém pulled a smartphone out of his pocket and, after a few quick taps on the screen, pulled up The RhyDin Times’ web site.

“Ninguém, you’re going to need to make the letters bigger. I can barely read it with these eyes.”

“Well, maybe --”

“-- No.” A single, sharp syllable cut off whatever question Ninguém had planned to ask. “Make it bigger.” Ninguém grumbled a little, but obliged the Snake and expanded the display, though it meant he had to run his finger over the glassy surface repeatedly to scroll through the article.

“Bailey challenged for a Barony and failed, but --”

“But this does not really interest me.” A red forked tongue darted out of his mouth.

“ -- but look at this.” Ninguém pulled the screen away from the Snake, briefly, and, after a few taps, pulled up the image attached to the sports section's news story. Bailey stood in a dueling ring in the Arena, shirtless, with a message painted across his bare chest in black paint:

RIP
FLETCHER RAPTIS
LYEORN REMAKKA
KASS VULPIN
BORIS DE ZACHTE


“Hmm…” The Snake’s head moved closer to the phone. “Interesting. Why do you think he’s bringing this up again, Ninguém?” There was genuine curiosity in the question.

“Glad you asked.” Once more, Ninguém pulled the phone away, working his magic with the tech to navigate away from The RhyDin Times to a different sort of newspaper -- The RhyDin Tattler. He enlarged a front page that had run recently in the paper: People Behaving Strangely Around RhyDin? Who’s Our Mystery Sculptor?

“...Tattler? Is this a tabloid?”

“Possibly, but who cares? Gossip always has a bit of truth in it. People believe what they want to believe. It’s already forced the new Stolen Ones Court leader to take a more aggressive stance than Sandman had on Bailey. If there’s pressure on him, perhaps…?” He trailed off, hopeful the Snake would fill the blank he left with the answer he wanted to hear.

“If you’re asking to go after Bailey again, on our own, answer’s no. We have seen the end result of that folly with Glesni and Sandman: one in exile, one dethroned. But…” The Snake wriggled away, back onto the tree where Ninguém first found him. “We can use this to our advantage. This Regent in Red is new. He’s likely consolidating his power, rooting out the old loyalists, assuaging the fears of those who have never known a day without Sandman in charge.” Now the Snake began punctuating each ‘s’ with a sharp hiss. “With his attention split, we can slip through the cracks, steal away some of his subjects, and sell them back to Faerie. Then, when his reign seems to be on shaky ground, we offer him a deal.”

“What sort of deal?” Ninguém turned off the screen and placed the phone back in his pocket.

“He gives us Bailey Raptis, and we leave the rest of his people alone, or he finds out what it’s like to rule a kingdom with no subjects.”
It's the disease of the age
It's the disease that we crave
Alone at the end of the rave
We catch the last bus home

Protect me from what I want

The Regent In Red
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: The Stolen Ones Court of RhyDin City

A Chase in Cadentia

Post by The Regent In Red » Sun Sep 06, 2020 10:46 pm

August 22, 2020
Back Roads of Cadentia


The trio of dirt bikes whined angrily as they careened down a bumpy, dusty Cadentian back road that led through a particularly sparse section of the desert. A couple of car-lengths ahead of them, a double-cab jeep with a truck bed tried to keep ahead of the pesky two-wheeled vehicles chasing it. It was helped in this task by a .50 cal machine gun resting on a tripod in said truck bed. The high speed and the jostling kept them from landing a shot on the motorcycles, but it also kept their foes from gaining ground.

“Can’t these things go any faster?” The Regent in Red shouted above the scream of their motorcycle’s engine.

“You want to get shot?” The driver of the Regent’s motorcycle didn’t look behind, but a note of irritation did creep into his voice as he shouted back. He matched the Regent’s preferred colors with his motocross jersey, pants, gloves, boots, helmet, and chest protector, the bright crimson accented by hints of dark blue.

“I want to get my people back.” A barrage of gunfire from the machine gun deafened them, before a couple of rounds -- either by ricochet or sheer dumb luck -- struck the tires of one of the other bikes. The motorcycle flipped end over end, while the riders just launched straight into a sand dune. “Keep going!” the Regent yelled, even as they looked back to check on the crash victims. Both of them were standing over the smoking remains of their bike, heads down in what seemed like a forlorn gesture even though their helmets hid their faces.

“That’s why I’m not pushing it, chefe. We wreck our bikes, we lose ‘em.” Just then, their remaining partner struck an unseen stone in the road. The bike swung 90 degrees to the right, its momentum stopped on a dime, slingshotting the riders into a nearby cactus. The Regent was glad the engines drowned out all other nearby noise.

“No pressure,” the Regent said, briefly resting their hand on the driver’s shoulder. The lone remaining motorcycle weaved a zig-zag pattern across the dirt road, trying to keep that .50 cal from lining up a clean shot on them. “Hold on. Keep it straight and steady.”

“Oh my Gods, you do want to get shot.”

“That’s an order.” The driver grumbled, but did as he was told, moving the bike into a straight path lined up directly with the back of the jeep. The Regent could see the gunner’s eyes light up, as his target fell into line. Perhaps that’s how he missed the Regent’s hands, both spinning clock-wise circles at their side. When the rotations were complete, they pulled back with their left hand and punched forward with the right. The gun boomed, right as a crimson portal opened in front of the bike…

...and transported them in front of the wrecked jeep. A massive chunk of marble sat in the road, where the vehicle had crashed into it, crumpling the hood and spider-webbing the windshield. The gunner was a full car-length away, flung out the back from the impact and lying motionless in the sand. The motorcycle skidded to a stop.

“Go check on the back seat, I’ll--” *CRACK* The whistle of a whip interrupted the Regent’s words. The two remaining pursuers looked toward the cab of the jeep, where a humanoid figure with red and yellow scales for skin had somehow shifted their right arm into a long, leathery whip.

“Fuck you, changelings,” the driver’s sibilant voice snarled. “These two -- “ he pointed at the back of the double-cab, “ -- are mine, and there ain’t a damn thing you can do to stop me.”

The Regent strode forward while their companion ran towards the back seat. The wind sliced through their ever-present red silk jacket, though they wore khaki colored trousers out in the desert in place of their usual white. “I’m the Regent in Red, ruler of the Court of Stolen Ones. The two people you’ve got in the back of your vehicle are my citizens and under my protection. Release them, or face the consequences.”

“Well, I’m the fucking King of France, and I say they stay. Now, go run off to your motocross boy-toy and keep your nose out of the Snake’s business, or we’ll find you next.”

The Regent glanced over at their driver, who was currently dragging a pair of unconscious women out of the jeep. “I did warn him, right?”

“Little busy here…” he grunted.

“Oh, fine.” The Regent shrugged their shoulders, then charged at the so-called “King.”

“Oh, you’re a stupid son of a--” *CRACK* The whip-arm lashed out towards the Regent, who just narrowly dodged it as he stepped into fighting range with the King.

“Son? Daughter? If it’s all the same to you…” The Regent watched the King’s eyes carefully, trying to guess what angle that whip might come from next. They watched as he reared back, coiled, and swung…

The crack this time was duller, as the whip struck the side of the Regent’s masked face, both cracking the disguise and knocking it off simultaneously. A trickle of blood leaked out from a thin cut on their cheek. Instinctively, they lifted a white gloved hand up to touch the wound, staining the fabric. They watched as the King dragged his weapon back towards his body, wide-eyed.

“You’re-you’re B-” Before he could finish the sentence, the Regent kicked a large amount of sand into his face, sending him stumbling backwards sputtering and coughing. The advantage only lasted a split-second, but that was all they needed. They rushed forward and threw a hard right-handed jab, missing but putting the King off-balance, and then hopped backwards, seemingly letting him regain his stance and composure. He readied the whip once again, but the Regent was ready this time. When the leathery cord arced through the air, the Regent threw up an arm in a classic Duel of Fists-style arm block. The business end wrapped around their wrist several times, snugly, and the Regent smiled. Then, they yanked *hard* on the weapon, pulling the King face-first into the sand. He got as far as raising to his hands and knees before one of the Regent’s boots came crashing down on his skull in a curb stomp. They left nothing to chance, stomping three more times until the cuff of his trousers was stained red. With the King dispatched, the Regent waved a hand in front of their face, throwing an unnatural, obscuring gray shade over their features. Then, they looked over and fired off a thumbs-up to their driver.
“If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity — only a great man can stand prosperity.

Robert Ingersoll
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Bailey Raptis
Seasoned Adventurer
Seasoned Adventurer
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:25 pm
Location: Can be found many places, but resides in a row house in the Kabuki Street neighborhood

The Taken, Part 1

Post by Bailey Raptis » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:55 pm

September 8, 2020
The former Our Lady of Aparecida Church
Old Temple


One of the first things the Regent in Red did after overthrowing Sandman as the ruler of the Stolen Ones court was rebuild the former Our Lady of Aparecida Church that the São Amadorians had used as their base of operations. When they first squatted in the building, it had been long abandoned and half-collapsed -- a perfect meeting place for a group of rebels looking to overthrow a corrupt court, but less appropriate now that they had taken the reins of things. They hauled the ruined stones and furniture out of the nave, rebuilt the walls, cleaned up the dust and mold and other debris, and removed out what remained from its days as a minor basilica -- the moth-eaten vestments, moldy sacramental bread and vinegary wine, sacred artwork and stained glass windows and several crosses of varying shapes and sizes and materials. Once they cleaned up the old church, they brought a local priest in to deconsecrate the building. When it came to God or gods, it was always better safe than sorry.

Even with all the iconography stripped, the structure still made for a fine meeting place for the Stolen Ones. The large, open central room that used to hold pews could fit many more folding chairs, enough that the bulk of the court could sit and attend any meetings that the Regent might wish to hold. The smaller rooms attached to the main section provided plenty of meeting space and offices for the various committees the Regent had set up to assist his transition into leadership -- the cry rooms, the ushers’ room, the vesting room, the wake room, the confessionals were all converted to serve a new purpose for the court. And the former sacristy, towards the back of the building, near where the altar used to be, made a perfect office for the Regent themselves.

Of course, they painted the walls red. They did resist the urge to replace the worn brown carpeting with red as well, instead going for dark maple laminate wood flooring. A reclaimed peroba wood desk (finished with a walnut stain and lacquer) with black welded steel legs and four pull-out drawers dominated most of the room, along with a burgundy leather desk chair. The usual office trappings sat on the desk’s surface: desktop computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, in and out mail boxes, a thin red-and-orange glass desk lamp with a marbled shade, and a lot of loose notebooks, calendars, and paper. A small three shelf bookcase held a range of books on Fae lore, running a small business and balancing one’s accounts, and inspirational self-help.The closet door, currently shut, had full-length mirrors, and a high window let sunshine in even though the Regent had to stand on tip-toes or break out a stool to see outside.

Perhaps the Regent’s favorite feature of their office, though, were the locks on the door. The door knob, yes, but there was a deadbolt a little bit above that, and a sliding bolt towards the top of the door. There were additional runes etched into the wood of the door on both sides, but fortunately, they had yet to be triggered by snoops, spies, or the overly curious. Though that might have been because there was a sign asking folks to knock first before trying to enter.

The extra security allowed the Regent to shed their skin, metaphorically speaking, and to remove the mask they wore in public around the Stolen Ones and just be Bailey Raptis. He probably spent as much time in the office napping as he did taking care of the Court’s business, but that was the nice thing about being the ruler. The position of regent functioned like the CEO of a business. He could delegate the day-to-day operation of the Court to those in a better position to, say, plan excursions into the Hedge to rescue newly escaped Taken, or forge cold iron swords, or handle the accounting. He was the visionary, the plotter, the schemer, the one who laid the path that would take the Stolen Ones forward into a new era of prosperity.

First though, he had to protect his own people. He desperately wanted to sleep, but there were a series of reports filed by the Reclaimers he needed to go through, detailing the number of missing Stolen Ones in the Court and those they had managed to find or rescue. They also included missing persons reports from the Guard, photocopied pictures and posters hung on neighborhood message boards, even the backs of milk cartoons. In a city as capricious as RhyDin, where people appeared and disappeared with little rhyme or reason, it was easy for Os Abduzidos to slip through the cracks.

Two hundred twenty-nine. There were 229 Stolen Ones in the Court currently. Two hundred twenty-nine souls not just under his rule, but under his protection. If he thought being the governor would have required tough choices, being the regent was on a whole other level. No wonder he’d started smoking again.

Bailey made it about halfway through the reports before he heard a muted argument through the walls of his office. He recognized one of the voices as his accountant’s, Lasiodora, meek and mousy as a louder male voice seemed to berate her. Then, there was a knocking on his door.
It's the disease of the age
It's the disease that we crave
Alone at the end of the rave
We catch the last bus home

Protect me from what I want

The Regent In Red
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: The Stolen Ones Court of RhyDin City

The Taken, Part 2

Post by The Regent In Red » Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:09 pm

Chefe?” Lasiodora’s muffled voice just barely passed through the wooden door, giving the Regent in Red enough time to don their mask and work their glamour to alter their voice. “Sorry about the disturbance. Should I call for Starkud?”

“No need, Lasiodora.” The Regent’s doubled, reverberating voice replied quickly to the question. “If he wanted to hurt me, he would’ve tried to knock down the door, and that would’ve ended poorly for him. I’ll go ahead and let him in, okay?”

“Okay…” she trailed off, unsure if the Regent’s decision was wise, but not in a position to argue with them. He could hear her light footsteps receding, and once he couldn’t hear them anymore, he flipped the locks and opened the door, taking a step back to let the man who had disrupted his work step inside.

At first glance, he looked like one of the lumberjack hipsters who drank seven silver pour-over coffee in Old Market and careened between cars and carriages on their fixed-gear bike in Dockside. He wore a red and green checked flannel shirt, faded blue jeans with rolled cuffs, muddy brown hiking boots, and a beige beanie despite the warm weather. The man’s unkempt beard and the locks of hair that spilled out from underneath that cap were both copper colored. The man’s Stolen One nature became clearer, however, once the Regent took a closer look at them. Around the cuffs of his jeans and shirt and peeking out from the space where his flannel’s hem met the waistband of his denim were several pieces of straw, sticking out like a scarecrow. That, combined with his dark, almost glassy eyes, marked him as not quite human anymore.

“Mister Regent, sir, ye gotta help me, please!” The words tumbled from the man’s mouth, and the Regent tried not to appear too annoyed at the gendering -- a task helped by the mask they always wore.

“Just Regent is fine. No sir or ma’am or mister or miss needed. What’s your name?”

“Andre.” Something rustled underneath his shirt as he tugged at the collar.

“Andre. Now, tell me, what was so important that you had to risk life and limb knocking on my door? Without making an appointment with my secretary?”

“I tried, Regent, really I did. Ye see, they took my wife. My kids, they -- “

The Regent held up a hand, both to interrupt Andre and to slow him down. “Back up. Who’s they?”

“The McCawley Boys, over in Old Market. They grabbed my wife, Madeline, and our kids, Yacob and Elissa.”

“You’ve got kids?”

“Adopted, ah--”

“Say no more,” the Regent jumped in again, their voice softening with the discussion of family, then sharpening once more when discussing the kidnappers. “Are they privateering?”

“No, they’re just -- look, I run produce stands at farmer’s markets across the city. With all the chaos in Old Market this year, these guys stepped in and started running protection. But why should I need protection? I grow corn and soybeans, fer God’s sakes! So I told them no, and they must’ve grabbed them while I was at the Seaside Farmers’ Market this morning. One of their messengers came by with a ransom note on my lunch, and then I came here.”

“What do they want?”

“Fifty thousand silver nobles by midnight tonight. I gotta come alone with it. They-they hafta know I don’t have that kinda money. What- I-I didn’t know what to do, so I came here. I’m sorry.”

The Regent sat quietly at their desk, thinking. Any clues about their reaction to Andre’s predicament were hidden behind their mask. After what felt like an eternity to the scarecrow man, the Regent’s head dipped just slightly. A nod? It was hard to say. Another agonizing beat passed, and then…

“I’ll get them back for you. Midnight, right? Where are you supposed to make the drop?

“The Old Empire Hotel, in Old Market. Room 220.”
“If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity — only a great man can stand prosperity.

Robert Ingersoll
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