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: 4
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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Posts: 406
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: 4
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
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Posts: 406
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: 4
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
The Regent In Red
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: The Stolen Ones Court of RhyDin City

The Taken, Part 3

Post by The Regent In Red » Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:42 pm

Midnight, September 9, 2020
The Old Empire Hotel, Old Market
Rhy’Din City


It was hard to tell if The Old Empire Hotel was built to imitate old New York City architecture, or if it had just been transported over from the city into RhyDin brick by brick. The metal and plywood scaffolding currently covering up the sidewalk in front of it suggested that, whatever the answer to that question might be, the current owners and managers were intent on making improvements to the building. A small synagogue flanked it on one side, and a taller brownstone apartment building sat on the other. Across the street, another u-shaped apartment complex seemed to have had a series of typical urban businesses pasted onto its bottom section: an urgent care clinic, a cell phone accessories store, a barber shop, and a deli boasting of “RhyDin’s best reubens.” It seemed much newer than the apartments above and behind it, and perhaps that’s what Old Empire’s scaffolding promised: more modern and gentrified businesses for the 19th-century style hotel.

It had seen better days, but one could argue that was true of much of Old Market in recent memory. Two of the four e’s were burnt out in the neon sign out front, rendering it as “Th Old Empir Hotel” in bright orange. But at least the wrought iron flower balconies were all intact, and none of the brick seemed to be crumbling, even if the street was eerily quiet and empty.

The Regent in Red came alone, unarmed, dressed as always in that red silk jacket and mask, paired with white trousers, gloves, and dress shoes. A few Rhydinians might have found their attire slightly strange, but most were unlikely to pay it more than passing attention. A city like Rhy’Din attracted its fair share of eccentrics, and the odd ones often proved to be its most dangerous citizens.

Tonight, though, in that section of Old Market, no one walked the streets. The Regent stepped around puddles of water in the street as they crossed, walked under the scaffolding, and approached the revolving door that led to the hotel’s lobby. It wasn’t moving, and even after they pushed on the bar in the middle of the glass, it stayed stationary. They stepped back outside, saw the comm box with a big red button beside it, and pushed it. Static crackled over the speaker momentarily, and then a snooty voice answered.

“Mmmm-yes?”

“Would you mind letting me in? There’s folks in 220 expecting me.”

“Are you staying here this evening?”

“No, but --”

“Sorry, after midnight, only confirmed guests of the Old Empire Hotel are allowed in. You understand how it is.”

The Regent took a step back, glancing over their shoulder, and then pressed the button again.

“Begone!” Now the voice was snotty, but it didn’t bother the Regent. They cleared their throat, focused on the speaker, and hoped their glamour-soaked words would travel through the wires.

“I think you misunderstood me earlier. Let me in.” The comm hummed and almost whined for a second, before the Regent looked over to see and hear the revolving doors *thoom* *thoom* *thoom* as they slowly gathered speed to full rotation. The Regent waited for an opening and slipped inside.

Time or neglect had diminished the lobby as well. The walls were painted white, but a careful eye could see rectangular discolorations where something -- most likely picture frames, by the size and shape -- had once hung. Only one well-worn sofa and a pair of armchairs in similar shape provided any seating for waiting hotel guests, and a strangely off-putting sculpture dominated the remainder of the interior: a throne, made of what looked like swords, lances and axes welded together, with a giant toilet seat where the cushion should have been. The wooden panels on the hotel’s front desk were heavily scuffed, as were the mail cubbies behind it. Behind the desk, a man in an ill-fitting uniform and a Van Dyke beard sent the Regent a puzzled look as they approached the desk.

“Where is Room 220?”

“Uh…” The clerk narrowed their eyes, like there was something about the Regent -- the whole situation in fact -- that wasn’t quite right, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Instead, he leaned out and pointed to his right. “Grand staircase is over there. Up a flight, at the end of the hall. A suite.”

“Thank you.” Without any further words, the Regent spun away and left the man with a furrowed brow, muttering to himself.

Much like the balconies outside the Old Empire Hotel, the railings on the grand staircase were also made of wrought iron. The Regent looked up from the bottom floor briefly, as each flight zigged and zagged further and further upward, then set foot on the metal steps grimacing. Luckily, they only had one flight to climb.

The sterile smell of cleaning solvents in the lobby gave way to mustiness as they went up and crossed the hallway, painted a rather sickly green with similar discolorations like in the lobby. The Regent silently counted off the room numbers as they passed by each one. 202, 204, 206… They eventually reached the end of the hallway, Room 220, and when they got there, they wasted no time in knocking.

No one answered. They knocked again, a little louder. Still nothing. Only after pounding both fists on the door until it shook on its hinges did someone gruffly retort from the other side.

“Fuck off, we didn’t order room service.”

“I’m not room service.”

“I don’t give a fuck who you are, go away, or we’ll make you go away.”

“I don’t think you want to do that. I think you want to let me in.” The Regent paused, listened as the deadbolt and the chain were undone, and the suite door swung open. A squat man in a sleeveless white undershirt, jeans, and no socks swung the door open even as his confused expression fixated on the masked figure he saw. The Regent took one step forward, towards the room, and the man found himself stepping aside, almost automatically, before shutting the door behind him.

The men inside had already wrecked the room, even beyond the usual wear and tear of the Old Empire Hotel. Emptied beer and whiskey bottles littered the floor, along with pizza boxes, Chinese takeout containers, and a silver tray from room service. The duvet, some of the pillows, and the top and bottom sheets had been ripped off of both the King beds in the room -- based on the smell, the Regent guessed somebody had gotten drunk and pissed the beds at some point. There were two men sleeping on the beds in their street clothes, while a third one sat in a black leather desk chair with a pistol across his lap. This man whipped around and glared angrily when he spotted the Regent and the guard at the door.

“I told you not to let anyone in, Alec!” Alec scratched his head, the fingernails on balding black hair making a *skritch skritch* sound. He wandered toward the windows where the black-out blinds had been drawn shut.

“I dunno why I let him in, Georgie.”

Alec responded to that with a quiet sigh, then a sharp shout towards the bed. “Victor, Steve, get up! We’ve got company.” The two sleeping men snapped awake, reached over to their nightstands where their guns were resting, and leveled them at the red-jacketed person.

“Easy, easy, boys, we’re all friends here, right?” The Regent held up their white-gloved hands, their twinned voice mild in the face of two pistols and a submachine gun (courtesy of Victor) pointed right at them. The Regent focused not on those three men, and the still addled Alec, but instead glanced off to the side. Sitting side-by-side on a sofa, their feet and wrists bound and mouths taped with duct tape, were Madeline, Yacob, and Elissa. Andre’s wife had dark hair and dark eyes, and wore what was clearly meant to be sleepwear: thin pink shorts and a cami top. Yacob, who looked to be a toddler, and Elissa, who might have been five or six years old, wore kids pajamas with characters from their favorite television shows on them: Aerie the airship, a bright blue dirigible with a slightly unsettling face on his front, and Fluffy Wuffington, the teddy bear with a (literal!) heart of gold.The Regent turned back toward the kidnappers.

“No, you’re not.” Georgie tipped his gun sideways in response, brushing surfer blond hair out of his eyes. Victor with the submachine and Steve with the pistol followed suit, though their much shorter brown locks made the effortless toss that Georgie did hard to imitate.

“Andre sent me.”

“Then he fucked up.” Georgie aimed at the family on the couch, and muffled screams and crying could be heard. Victor and Steve copied him again. “Idiots, one of you keep a gun on him!” Victor and Steve both returned to aiming at the Regent.

“I...don’t think so. First, let’s let cooler heads prevail and put our guns down. There are four of you, and one of me. I could not possibly hope to beat all of you in a fight, could I?” The Regent watched as, reluctantly, the men lowered their weapons. “Good, good. Now, I know Andre broke the rules, but can you blame him? You took his wife, his kids, and insinuating you were going to kill them if he didn’t obey? Can you blame him for retaining the services of someone like me?”

“Who are you?”

My name is not fit for your mouths.” The Regent poured acid into the glamour, watching the four of them wince as if struck with migraines. “Apologies. Andre is...a friend of mine. And I protect my friends. Você me entende?

“Wh-what?” Steve stuttered, earning himself a dirty look from Georgie.

Do you understand me?” The Regent’s doubled voice whined and screamed like feedback through an amplifier, and this time, the men clapped their hands over the ears at the sound of it, even the dazed Alec, who had been staring out the window. The Regent glanced over at the three on the sofa, who were grimacing too, and muttered an apology for them.

“Yes!” Georgie and Victor said in unison.

“Good. Give me a moment to talk to my friends.” They nodded, then stood dumbly in place while the Regent hustled over and took a knee beside them. When the Regent spoke again, it was quiet, and in a singular, nasal tenor -- Bailey’s own natural voice. “I am going to get you out of here, I swear it. But I need you to do something for me. This is very taxing on my abilities, and if you scream or cry or do anything to pull their focus away from me, we might not make it out of here. Can you do that for me?” Madeline nodded. “And I apologize for how much this is going to hurt.” He reached up for the duct tape on her mouth and ripped. True to her promise, she did not scream. “Tell your children what I just told you, quietly.” She leaned over and whispered to the two of them, and though Yacob seemed too young to understand, Elissa nodded. “Thank you. I am sorry I hurt your ears earlier.” He patted her shoulder, friendly, then stood up and straightened his back as he regarded the four men. “You!” He switched back to they, as the echoing countenor and contralto returned to his tone. Once more playing the Regent, they pointed at Alec, who spun around and pointed at himself.

“Me?”

“Yes, you. Come over here.” Seemingly more susceptible to the glamour than the other three, he shuffled over and stood by the couch, while Georgie, Steve, and Victor watched dumbfounded.

“What the hell are you doing,” Georgie sputtered, “taking orders from-”

Shut up.” The Regent heard his teeth snapping in his mouth, and swore he must have cracked them. “Here’s how this is going to go.” As they spoke, their right hand spun a clockwise circle by their side, opening up a blood-red portal through which they reached. “I’m paying the ransom with this. One thousand silvers. That’s all you’re getting. These three are walking out with me unharmed. You--” They thumbed at Alec, who practically stood at attention. “--Undo their bonds. Gently, or I’ll feed you your liver.” Alec sweated as he tried to pull the tape off slowly and carefully. The Regent pulled his hand out of the gateway, and tossed a jingling Crown Royal bag towards Georgie. “Don’t spend it all in one place. Like I said, that’s all you’re getting, we’re leaving unarmed, and for the next 72 hours, anytime you hear the words ‘kidnap’, ‘abduct’, ‘ransom’, or their various permutations, you will grow incredibly nauseous. Got it?

“Got it!” All four men said in unison. After another agonizing minute or so, Alec finished. Madeline wobbled as she stood, but eventually found her footing and picked up Yacob. The Regent gestured toward Elissa, an unspoken question there, and Madeline nodded back to them. The Regent crouched. “Get on my shoulders, Elissa.” For a brief moment, The Regent went away again, replaced again with Bailey’s low, concerned tone.

“Why?”

“I am bringing you home to your father.”

Elissa studied Bailey, masked and jacketed, with an impassive expression. “Okay.” Once she was secured, Bailey went back into Regent mode, though they moved like the weight on their shoulders was twice what it was. Reverb drenched their words as they spoke their final farewell to the kidnappers. “A pleasure doing business with you.”

Out the door, across the hallway, down the grand staircase, and through the revolving doors they went, Madeline glancing over her shoulders every few seconds as if expecting them to change their minds on letting them go so easily. The Regent lumbered, barely able to keep pace ahead of Andre’s wife, and as soon as they were outside, they set Elissa down on her own two feet.

“I need…” They sounded tired, the voices even more out of sync than usual.

“You need what?” Madeline asked, clutching Yacob tightly.

“I need you to trust me one more time.”

“Of course.”

“We’re taking the long way home.” With that, The Regent punched at the air in front of them, ripping open a portal that, without their usual preparations, was purplish-black in color. They stepped through it first, then stuck their hand through the Veil’s energy, beckoning the family to come. They did so without any hesitation.
“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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