Grayell casually walked up to Marlena's newly acquired manor, carrying a large rucksack and in his civvies. It was a nice enough day, a cool breeze rolled through the town and the walk through was uneventful.
It was almost strange, seeing children so young that knew him not, next to other, older citizens that offered him a smile, some staring as he passed. He was nought but a story to many these days, a memory to some; a fond friend to others he'd helped since he first arrived here and set Wistvale on the path to prosperity.
But today he was in town on a private matter and his latest acquaintance was just the person he intended to chat about it with.
Marlena was still exploring the manor. Everything had been left behind and she was working her way from room to room, discovering things that littered the place. She'd not been in Wistvale more than a week and now she had no need to do what she had spent the last few years of her life doing. She had a place of her own, an entire manor.
She knew there would be something she would have to do, she wouldn't have expected it for free. Her mind worked to think of what it would be as her feet took her to one of the windows of the study she had just finished rifling through, the few moments there telling her that she would know soon enough. Turning on her heel, she ran down the stairs, making for the front door, her hands pulling it open as she smiled.
Grayell steps in, wipes his feet and then looks about as he wanders through parlour and into the next room as offered. He nods again in thanks and finds a seat to settle in, placing the back at his feet. He waits for her to get comfortable and then chuckles a little.
"Well. I'm not much for small talk so how about I cut to the quick? I want you to run what amounts to the thieves guild here in Wistvale."
Marlena had been sat upright at first, but quickly fell back into upholstery as what he said sunk in. The man was most foolish. He was throwing such responsibility at her feet without a second thought it seemed. Not to mention, she was a stranger. He was far too trusting.
You wish me to run a thieves' guild?
That is why you let me have the manor... Really? That is the funniest thing I have heard since stepping into Wistvale.
Grayell, you have been far too generous, and you seem to think me far better than I am. I don't have the ability to run a guild...
Grayell shrugged and seemed entirely dismissive in his expression. He reached down and pulled a handful of papers and books from the rucksack, then a large bag, heavy with what sounded like coin. He placed them on the table between them and then lifted his ankle to rest on his other knee, leaning back in his chair.
"They're known as The Ebon Tryst and they are what's considered organized crime here in Wistvale. They pay their dues, they don't commit any crimes that are inexcusably unsavoury and they help keep the place growing. More than half the goods you see imported over the sea into this town are of questionable origin and no one bats an eyelid, so long as it keeps coming.
I would love to tell you all crimes are victimless. But they don't truly victimize the people that cannot afford it as there's no money to be made. Show me an honest, tax paying; considerate noble and maybe I would give them a second look.
In fact I have. But the reality is that good and evil aren't quiet the same thing as right and wrong. A man that steals to feed his family is doing something wrong, not something evil. My organization tries to keep that in mind when safeguarding the natural order of things.
Now, that said... the Tryst are in a real state. They have no effective leadership and truth be told, they never will. But they do need organization and quite frankly, I would rather be associated... privately... with such a person than left wondering.
You have the talent, the looks and the guile and I know one thing. You are a good person. You might not be the lawful type so to speak, but you have heart. You also like gold and if I can assure you of any one thing...
Marlena watched him place the papers, books and bag on the table, biting her bottom lip as she listened and thought about what he was telling her. She understood it all and it made more sense the more he told her. She still had her doubts, huge doubts.
She pushed herself out of the chair and knelt on the floor by the table, her fingers moving to the papers, spreading them out on the surface to get a better look.
Ok... And if I agree, what makes you think they will listen to me? A young stranger walking in, taking over a manor and declaring herself as some sort of leader. I doubt they would be impressed, Grayell...
Grayell slid off his chair and folded his legs, sitting with her by the table and sorting through the papers to illustrate his words.
"The men you... took care of last night, were of no small notoriety. They had large stakes in the Tryst but it drove a wedge between those associated due to their human trafficking and whoring of young girls. They won't be missed. These papers are of great importance because they list countless contacts, contracts and details on back room deals that keep the Tryst profitable for all. You now own this information and that makes you powerful. That's not all."
Grayell opens the pouch and pours out strange coins onto the table, each with the same emblem upon them.
"Tryst currency. They are used as credit and are only viable within the underground. But it's more than that. These identify you. They are also your most prized possession, because the more you have, the more notoriety and respect you garner. What sounds like a silly game is actually quite effective in that others will want what you have. Woe befall the thief that has his coins lifted by someone else. The sneakier you are, the more you accumulate and they don't just make more of these.
You have a sizeable sum. You earned them honestly... well honestly enough by their standards and whilst it might be old fashioned, that sky rockets you into a position of much interest in their society.
So, you have the weight, the information and the skills. You also have this property. The rest is simple. You also have the muscle and the allies. There are many people in seeing you succeed at this and given that you're perfect for hiding in plain sight... well I am sure you can as well. Hiding behind some silly blue cowl is all well and good when you need to keep your identity under wraps, but being able to hide in plain view of the public is incredibly useful.
The Sentinel won't bother you any, I'll be sure of that and everything; and I mean everything that you now have in your possession is legitimate. The guard don't have the authority or the want to act across the waters, they want the town to prosper and stay safe. Which is another thing.
The right person being the overseer of the Tryst will keep this town safe. Will keep it profitable. It's an investment that way and anyone with half an ounce of business sense will recognize that. Your forerunner? He obviously didn't. He got reckless, greedy and won't see daylight for a very long time."
Marlena was rather overwhelmed by the idea that he would trust her with all of this, and her mind was running at speed. She kept her eyes on the papers, reading names and details, committing them to memory. This would give her something to work for, a place to stay without the worry of moving on, without the worry of finding another man to steal money from. It gave her a level of responsibility she had never know before, and she found herself wanting to take it on.
She was nervous though. Extremely so. He may have told her she had the back up to do all of this, but she dreaded the thought of what would happen should she fail.
Taking a deep breath she looked up and watched the man opposite her for a moment. He seemed to have the faith she could do it and do it well. She didn't want to let him down. A feeling she'd not had before.
Grayell smiled of course and studied her for a time. He had a very reassuring 'aura' about him, his smile was sincere, his eyes were kind and there was nothing in his demeanour that hinted at anything but complete reassurance.
"I know this is a big ask. I know you're worried about the people you will be involved with. As I have said, most of them are willing to back this move. The others won't be so quick to act against it. Things don't work that way and they have little to gain by simply doing away with you. It would lead to a right mess of a power struggle.
They will however, try to manipulate you. As I'm doing after a fashion.
You see, I've been very careful in making sure this is a lucrative offer for you. And it is. I don't know you well enough to trust you just yet so I need my own assurance.
There's also the question of just what it is you're going to do for me, to be sure that our arrangement continues in an agreeable fashion."
He laughed a little then, chuckles and shook his head.
"Gee I'm not nice when I talk business. I like you plenty Marlena but really, this is a two way deal."
Marlena fussed slightly with the papers, a slight case obsessive neatness leading her to create tidy piles, before placing the coins back in the bag. She had been waiting for this part and was unsure of what he would ask from her. She couldn't say no, not after what he'd handed her.
She stood slowly, arms crossed as she moved to her seat again.
Business is business, Grayell. It's not meant to be nice.
So. What is it you want from me in return for all of this?
Last Edit: Jun 10, 2012 10:17:31 GMT -5 by Marlena
Grayell managed to keep a straight face until he too sat in his seat and then laughed, stretching his arms.
"Yeah.... no. I need to keep an eye on things. I have taken what I need from all the records and will see to what needs to be seen to soon enough. But you will hear a lot more than I might and anything you consider unsavoury.... I want to know about. If you don't want to get your hands dirty with it, let me. I think we might see eye to eye on what that might entail.
I also need a fence. My organization operates in a rather... secretive manner as you might have gathered. We do need funding as any society does and moving what we acquire can often lead to unwanted attention. I need someone connected to move it for me, their bonus being a hefty cut of the profits of course.
I need someone with their head on straight. With generally good intentions. Someone who can keep out of prison. I need to know that if you don't want to do this, or won't; you simply tell me. Any issues you have, I can resolve if they prove too much for you.
Oh, and Kiga needs somewhere to stay. You happen to have this large property with plenty of room."
Marlena winced with that original statement. She knew he must have been joking, but but it wouldn't have been the first mutually beneficial marriage offered to her.
She relaxed though as he began to explain properly, though she couldn't help the thought that marriage may be easier than running a criminal organization. All that he proposed was reasonable and yet again, it appealed to her. He was good. He seemed to know exactly how to make her want something. Or at least willing to do something. She wondered only briefly how badly that could end up if he decided to truly use it against her. But only briefly.
Let me see if I have this all correct.
I run Wistvale's criminal populace, with the backing of your organization, working to keep it in check and help the town grow in our own way. I keep track of what happens and who does it. In return, I tell you of anything... Not acceptable, which you then deal with, whilst also moving goods for you and gaining a cut of the profit.
I assume you trust this Kiga... So I have no problem with him being here.
Grayell chuckled a little and seemed to iron out whatever sliver or anticipation remained. He nodded, a grin in play and folded his arms behind his head.
"Well, you two seemed to work well enough together. I see it like this. He keeps an eye on you both ways. He makes sure you don't get into trouble with me or with anyone else. You see, Kiga is more than capable of handling the criminal element in town. There's likely not a thief within fifty miles that can match his talent and he's entirely capable of... coercing people to cooperate. You might just find him invaluable.
He works for me but is more than willing to help you out as you like. He's a funny sort like that. You work for me too of course... but only in the loosest sense. I am willing to give you free reign with the Tryst and more than that, am willing to help you whip it into shape.
That brings us to one more thing to consider. The Sentinels."