I will not be able to visit you myself tonight due to prior engagements, so I will answer some of your questions here. Please destroy this message when you have comitted it to memory. If you forget, its ink is designed to fade within a day or two. You asked for descriptions of the major players in town, so here they are. The number following each name is an indication of power and influence. There are six townsmen who make most of the major decisions of the town. They hare labeled with a (6). Occasionally, a council of ten gets together to make a decision, and those last four are labeled with a (10). There are a total of about fourty people who can honenstly call themselves townsmen in some respect or other. The top thirty of those will be labeled with a (30), and the bottom ten with a (40). There are also a number of other players, some of whom have a minimal amount of political power, who will not be labeled. You may ask questions via proxy. -- Gal Silnquost (6) has been head of the textiles guild for the past ten years, since he was thirty five. His name is well-known by the people and towsmen alike. Silnquost is easily the most powerful person in town, with control over the largest number of guardsmen and influence over the most powerful townsmen. Harming him in any way or attempting to convert him would be a dangerous thing to do, so I will have you avoid even being seen by him. -- Reden Orfort (6) is one of the three most well-known townsmen, but he's probably fifth or sixth in terms of power. Unlike Silnquost, he does not lead a guild. His power comes from inheritted wealth, land holdings outside the town and private investments in other guilds. Someone on my side siezed Orfort from his home and imprisoned him a few days ago without informing me, and it took quite an extensive appology on my part to calm him down. His imprisonment is not common knowledge. Yesterday, on the seventeenth, a man I have not yet identified attacked Orfort in my name. and he has since become one of Silnquost's staunchest supporters. -- Raiborder (6) disappeared days ago and hasn't been heard from since. The considerable number of guardsmen he controlled have defaulted to Silnquost. He was one of the six most powerful townsmen. -- Cewethir (10) leads the coalminers' guild, making him one of the more powerful townsmen. He doesn't control much of the guard, but has large land-holdings and many connections outside of town. Connections to the outside is an unusual thing in Maelbourg, as you have no doubt already learned, due to the strict regulations against Morenthians leaving the town, and the general and understandable dislike of Morenthians throughout Rang. -- Aso Miscem (10) represents the shepherds' guild. Wool is one of the primary industries of Maelbourg, after textiles and coal, but Miscem is not a very influential townsman. There are only a small number of guild members, who are the wool distributors. The shepherds themselves are not part of the guild. Since Miscem depends on Silnquost's guild for almost all of his income, he sides with Silnquost on every issue. -- Hewlard (30) has little military power, but he is a charismatic man, and his abilities as an orator have just recently come into play. Like most townsmen, he was unknown to the people, but now some have heard of him. He has been uncomfortably effective in converting my townsmen to join Silnquost. Hewlard is a difficult person to approach, since even before the recent events, he never went anywhere without an enterage of five or six bodyguards. Hewlard leads the wainwright's guild, and gets most of his business from Silnquost, Cewethir and Miscem. -- Velirra Dufowl (30) has controlled the tailors' and seamstress' guild since the death of her husband three years ago. She is another townsman who owes most of her business to Silnquost. -- Batarel (30) is not a significant player, but he is worth mentioning since Sahlman's attack on him is what started the recent violence. Batarel seeks Silnquost's favor, and will do whatever the greater townsman tells him to do. -- There are two more of the top thirty, one of whom is in prison for blasphemy, who are suspected of siding with Silnquost. He also has a goodly number of other influential supporters, several of whom have been imprisoned for various reasons. On my side, there is a larger number of supporters among the townsmen, though of less influence on average, so that the balance remains frustratingly even. I also have the help of Ulan's former holdings, which include some land, liquid wealth, and a large percentage of the town guard. While Ulan was largely incompetant, he did manage to gather up some level of popular support through some of the lesser townsmen. Others on my side include: -- Jorran Kal (6) keeps to himself, so almost none of the population has heard of him. However, he controls a good share of the town guard, and in times of peace, he has a lot of influence over taxation and other monetary decisions in town meetings. -- Gerrit Argol (10) is head of the money-lenders' guild. Both his legs were broken in an attack by one of Silnquost's men, as a retaliation for Sahlman's attack on Batarel. Dispite his injury, he is one of my most valuable allies, due to his monetary ties to almost all the townsmen. -- Eiselon Makierrei (10) controls much of the trade with other towns. Unlike the other townsmen, he is an Andrithan, so he can freely travel in and out of Maelbourg. Contrary to ordinary Maelbourg logic, his religion, rather than hindering him, was the primary reason for his rapid rise in power. Being an Andrithan, however, he has to go to special efforts to remain distant from the population and the other townsmen. -- Leve Herelg (30) was injured by Silnquosts' men yesterday. -- Age Luben (30) leads the cobblers' guild. -- There are six more of the top thirty and three of the bottom ten who support me. Three, Fillien, Per and Vumeshel, have been imprisoned for various nonsensical reasons by Silnquost's. Other influential people have also sided with me, many merely to disrupt Silnquost's business. Only a few of these last know that Balban is involved. A few potentially major players have not yet come into play. They are: -- Jackol Worsen (6) is well-known for being a very religious man. He is often seen in the House or Purification Rooms. He has a good deal of influence over the people, but not very much over the townsmen. He is precisely the type of person Balban would be looking for, to supplement political power with popular support. -- Jerrakken (40) is known by the people, but not as a townsman. Jerrakken is a religious man with close ties to the Morenthian priests. -- Duddan (40) is captain of the guard. He's tried very hard to remain unaffiliated. He is paid jointly by all the townsmen, and he himself participates in town meetings, making him somewhat of a lesser townsman in his own right. -- Forgolon is not a townsman, but his popularity and his association with Ulan gives him some political influence. Ulan believed he was a useful person to have around, but I don't think he is very significant. -- The House of Morenth has remained aloof of the situation. While they have no official political power, they seem to have some influence over the people.
Attached to the end of the letter was a couple sheets illustrated with the seals and guild-symbols of the townsmen, a map of the town marked with each townsman's residence, the townhouse, the various guild-controlled buildings, the prisons and other points of interest.
Just as Ziedon finished reading the letter for the second time, Menathal returned, carrying a sack over his shoulder. “I did the best I could with your list, but I'm not sure about all of these.” He set the sack down and took out a pint-sized smoked bottle. “You asked for 'old red wine.' They tell me this is a ten-year vintage. Some of the herbs were difficult to find, and some won't arrive until morning. A couple of the more unusual requests…” He looked at the sheet Ziedon had handed him. “Three live spiders,” he took a vial containing them out of the sack, “bear fur I took from a rug… hummingbird eggs,” he took a tiny, elaborately decorated box from the sack. “These have been preserved and specially hardened. I couldn't find them fresh.” This went on for five minutes or so, at the end of which the table was strewn with unusual objects. Most of the ingredients for the ritual Ziedon wanted to perform were there, though some, like the eggs, would be stretching the limits of the rite. The less exotic materials required to prime paper for spell-scribing were there as well.
Ziedon looked over the items with a smile. “These will work nicely; fresh would have been better but you do what you can. The morning for the rest of the items? Excellent. You did quite well.”
Ziedon turned to Tilluri. “I need for you to ask Galgewe what is my operating time-line. Do I have weeks? Months? Please make sure he understands that what he asks will take time, and I would prefer to know whether I am working under a specific time limit.”
“I was told that you would be guarded for several days. If that does not answer your question, I will send Menathal out to ask.
Ziedon nodded his head. “Yes, please send Menathal out. I would like something more exact. A month would be ideal.”
Ziedon took care to put away all of the components and then sat down to a nice dinner. After dinner, he returned to the letter and started muttering to himself, a pot of basic ink in front of him and a quill in his hand. He took notes from the letter, writing down names and associations in the Old Tongue. He stayed at this until he was told the healer had arrived. Continuing to mutter, he worked in the words to his favorite enchantment.
Getting to his feet, Ziedon greeted the Morenthian healer and his two acolytes. “Ah, excuse me, I get wrapped up in paperwork and forget everything. I had a slight accident,” he said, beginning to disrobe. “I was hoping you could help me get back on the mend.”
A smile formed on the stern face of the healer. “That's why I am here.” He approached and looked closely at Ziedon's wounds. After a few moments of examination, he put two cold hands on Ziedon's uncovered flesh, thumbs pointed inward, and pushed, stretching the skin and causing it to bleed again. The pain sent Ziedon reeling back. “I can't help you if you don't stand still,” the healer said. “The wound must be fresh for our salve to work its magic, and the blood helps wash away infection. As does this.” He took a pitcher from one of the acolytes, and had Ziedon lie down on the floor. When he poured the contents of the pitcher over the bleeding wound, Ziedon cried out in pain. “You were more cooperative when you were asleep.” A second acolyte handed the healer a pair of jars. He opened one. “The oil will help your skin absorb the salve.” While the oil didn't make the wound feel any better, Ziedon found that his wince in anticipation of more pain hadn't been necesarry. The healer opened the second jar and set it down on the floor. The acolytes sat cross-legged on either side of Ziedon. “Now Anso and Fero will administer the salve. I have others to attend to.” Anso dipped a rag into the jar of salve, and applied it to the wound and the surrounding areas. The cool paste allowed Ziedon to relax a bit, and some of the pain subsided. Fero had a pile of stained towels, which he used to wipe away the blood and any stray salve.
After a few minutes, Ziedon noticed that the healer had not left. The acolytes seemed very uncomfortable with this, though they continued to work silently. Eventually, the Healer sat down. This state persisted for over an hour before they brought out the bandages.
Ziedon let the acolytes bandage his wound and then had them help him to his feet. Turning to the Healer, he said, “I know a bit about herbs and salves, definately not in the same class as yourself though, but I thought I detected a bit of arkasu and galingale in that salve.” Ziedon gave his best impression of a warm smile. “Was I close?”
“There is something along the same lines as arkasu, but I avoid the use of galingale when possible. While it deadens the flesh and reduces pain, it also seals the wound, preventing it from breathing. What you were probably smelling was herjenesi, a chalky paste known for its ability to soften flesh and make it more receptive to healing.”
“If you have some time, I would love to talk with you about herbs and salves. I am bound to learn a lot from one as august as yourself.”
“Certainly. I have time now.” The acolytes were trying very hard not to show any surprise. “I must warn you, though. There are many secrets of healing that can only be revealed to a Morenthian priest.” The healer stood and gestured to his acolytes. “You may return to the House.”
Ziedon made a similar suggestion to his guards. “You can wait outside; this doesn't concern you”. Gelefer looked at Tilluri, who nodded, and both left the room.
Ziedon started out, “I would in no way ask you to violate any secrets, so please feel free to let me know if I touch on any such topic.” Ziedon then spent some time talking about herbology with the healer. He made it plain that he was quite knowledgable, and tried to teach the healer as much as he learned from him. However, he soon realized that the healer had far more experience in the field than he, and he could do little more than listen.
After a time exchanging knowledge and putting the Healer more at ease, Ziedon said, “I just recently arrived in town, I hadn't really planned on staying but was waylaid and placed in such a condition,” Ziedon swept a hand over his freshly bandaged wound, “that placed any traveling in the near future out of the question.” He frowned slightly and continued. “I didn't realize that this city was under such conditions. It seems like a confrontation on a low heat that is approaching the boiling point of civil war. What is your impression of the going-ons? I have heard that the Church, and probably quite wisely, is staying out of the fray.”
“It's an interesting situation, to be sure, the likes of which hasn't been seen for a long time. It is not a local matter, either, which makes this the first time Maelbourg has been involved in baronial politics for almost two centuries. It's dangerous for Maelbourg to take an outward view.”
Ziedon's interest was piqued. “This expands beyond Maelbourg? I haven't noticed any sort of troubles in any other cities I have recently visited. If you would be so kind as to explain, I don't quite understand, why is it dangerous for Maelbourg specifically to be involved in this… situation?”
“You don't know? Ever since the Scorn of Andritha – you may have heard it called the Plague of Morenth, but that's little more than propaganda. No? You should learn more history. It's the only way to avoid repeating past mistakes. The Scorn was when, in the late six hundreds, the Andrithans took it upon themselves to interrupt a private war between Morenthians and Polinakas, and purge Morenth from their society. Morenthians used to number in the hundreds of thousands. Now there are just the populations of Maelbourg and Haelbourg, perhaps ten thousand total. Ever since the Scorn of Andritha, it has been dangerous for any Morenthian to be caught outside of these two towns. It would not take much for the Scorn to start anew.”
Ziedon's brow furled in thought and then he asked, “if I could be so bold, from my visits here it would seem that the Church has supremacy. Why haven't the priests stepped in and defused the situation, you know, bring things back to a more even keel?”
“The House. We call it a House, not a church like an Andrithan. Morenth dwells among us. I don't know where you Andrithans think your distant goddess lives.”
Ziedon assumed a penitent mien. “I am not an Andrithan, they are just the only religious group that I am remotely familiar with, I did not mean any offense.”
“We'll step in when we have to. Whatever the townsmen think, the people follow Morenth, not some arbitrary secular power.”
“Well, the townsmen certainly don't seem to think much of Morenth; instead they think of their own egos and money-purses. From my travels I have heard of how one such upshot is trying to sieze control of several cities, perhaps to create his own barony or the like. Baboon, Balan….” Ziedon's eyebrows furled with thought. “Balban, I think that's his name. You ever heard of this fellow?”
“We priests aren't ignorant of events in southern Huerten.”
Ziedon ruefully shook his head. “I've heard he had the temples in one of his seized towns torn to the ground, to the point where no two stones still laid together. It is such a brutal time. It almost makes me want to enter politics again, but I like my traveling lifestyle. Beside, I would have to have a lot of strong support to eradicate Balban's snakes and weeds that have taken root in this fair town.”
“Your information is incorrect. This Balban is no fool – he knows that to destroy a temple is to lose support of the people. Were the world a different place, he might be a refreshing change, but as I said, it is dangerous for Maelbourg to get involved in baronial politics.”
“Why is that?”
“The Scorn. You should listen more carefully. This Andrithan kingdom is far more powerful than the ten thousand Morenthans who reside in it. If Maelbourg is seen as a threat to the peace of the barony, that will be the excuse the Andrithans have been waiting for to eradicate us.”
Ziedon shook his head. “Yes, I can understand that if you were to try to exert your influence beyond the borders of your town but in this case it would be to maintain order in your own city. Surely the Andrithans would not fault you if you were trying to keep your house, so to speak, in order. Otherwise, you have anarchy. Look at your city today. Armed thugs marching the streets, haphazardly grabbing citizens and throwing them into prisons, people 'disappearing,' attacks on citzens, murders… How can this be good for the House? How can you not act?”
The priest smiled. “You need not concern yourself with these matters. Balban will not rule here.” He stood up and looked around the room, making sure the apprentices had taken everything with them. “That is valuable ink,” he said, laying eyes on the vial in the corner of Ziedon's desk. “You should not leave it out.” He looked back at Ziedon. “It was good talking with you. We should speak of more sacred matters some time. You would be welcome in the House of Morenth.”
Ziedon gave a bow and said, “I have greatly appreciated your time. I will make a point of stopping by the House to talk with you more. Thank you again for your wisdom.”
The priest left the room, and Tilluri came back in. “I've arranged a meeting for you with the seal-maker, but we must leave now. He is a very busy man.”
Ziedon shook his head. “No, I am too tired. I will speak to him in the morning. I will rest now.”
Gelefer glanced nervously at Tilluri, but Tilluri didn't seem to notice. “It could be several days before we can arrange another meeting.”
Ziedon waved a hand. “So be it. I am exhausted.”
“Are you –” Gelefer began, before he was interrupted by Tilluri.
“It will be difficult to explain the missed appointment. We may not be able to meet with him again at all.”
Ziedon waved his had again in dismissal. “I do not have to explain anything. If I can't meet him again then so be it. I am not disposed to seeing him now. The meeting with the Healer was overly long and I am exhausted.” Ziedon added offhandedly, “you can meet with him yourself if you so desire to keep up appearances.”
“Then sleep well,” Tilluri said, and turned to leave. “There will be guards posted outside your room throughout the night, if you need anything. Gelefer looked distressed, but left behind Tilluri without saying anything.
Ziedon prepared the components for his magical spell of conjuration. Once the mixture was complete excepting the few items the guards would be bringing in the morning, Ziedon got ready for bed thinking about his plans for the next day. Once in bed, he closed his eyes and let his mind wander over the facts and information he had, knowing that he would have a better idea on how to proceed after his mind had had a night to work over the details. It would be good to place Gelefer under his thrall. He definately knew something and was acting quite peculiar. It would be too easy to find out if Ziedon tried to magic Tilluri. Besides, Tilluri might have one of the damned magic-blockers. Yes, things would be much clearer in the morning.
Your bill, sir:
35at average lock
15at Two sets of townsman garb – cheaper because of textiles business
5ag Warm cloak.
+15at payment from Galgewe
Ziedon still has two skill points to distribute.