The Enclave > Known Roads > Port > Organizations

The Unseen Hands

The thieves of Port are, in the main, common thugs and tricksters. They share much more with the Taxmen, or the dregs of the Seafarers' Guild, militia and worst noble retinues, than with the masterful rogues of Ammand legend. Indeed, there is some overlap between these organizations; the ruffian of today is spearman, seafarer or hired guard of tomorrow. An honest coin buys just as many friends.

Some treat the old stories with respect, however. While they are still thugs and tricksters, they are thugs and tricksters of a higher class and more ambitious nature. They call themselves Unseen Hands.

The society of thieves is an open secret in Port. Common folk know to avoid the rowdiest safehouses and waterfront taverns. The Seafarers' Guild and competent militia captains know who to lean on when the normal rough and tumble gets out of hand. Merchants and nobles know when and how to pay - or hire. As for the Taxmen ... well, no thief in Port openly crosses the Taxmen.

The Unseen Hands have little regard for the limits and conventions of common thievery. They have been blamed for stolen wizardry, outlandish acts under cover of darkness, misdirected rarities, the release of secrets long thought safe, impossible thefts committed simply to show they could be accomplished - and much more over the years. Few know who the Unseen Hands are, how much influence they exert over common thieves, or whether they are involved at all with their lesser brethren.

[ Posted by Reason on January 8, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Red Iron Guild

There are many smiths in Port, but few Red Iron smiths. The "secrets" of working red-veined Enclave iron are in fact far from secret, but the Red Iron Guild has long enforced a monopoly on its use. Red-veined iron is mined in only a few locations and the Guild strives to ensure it is used to make the finest weapons and armor - and nothing else. The real Guild secrets lie in weaponsmithing, in the use of old techniques brought from the Ammand.

Smiths of the Red Iron guild work hard to ensure that "common, unworthy blades, weak armor and the misuse of our iron" are rare in Port; disputes with the Trade Guild (and, by extension, the smiths of Three Stones and lesser Enclave towns) are loud and commonplace. Disagreements with Guild smiths are an intimidating affair; they and their supporters have not held back from displays of force in the past.

Red Iron Guild smiths are the strongest, finest metalworkers in the Enclave. The Guildmaster, Natramun, is a hard man who, like his predecessors, enforces exacting standards. Despite the great expense of red-veined weapons, the Red Iron Guild is popular with those who rely on sword, spear and shield to make a living; this fact, alongside the yearly presentation of taxes and gifts to the Council, ensures the Guild's continuing relevance in Port.

[ Posted by Reason on January 15, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Crossing the Taxmen

"Strong," he says, "does what he's told," he says , "do well, he will," he says. I should've just jumped off the cliffs and saved myself a whole purse of trouble. When I said keep a look out and keep folk away, I didn't mean go throwing down with Taxmen! I don't care what they said - they can all swim the streets like the lord of sharks, because that's what they are so far as you're concerned. You're lucky they didn't leave a blade in you.

They all wore the black sash, are you blind? With my luck you were rousting with Trenar's lot; there he'll be tonight at the safehouse, polite as you like and twenty knives behind his back. Or worse, that old eelsucker with the brain-stabbed Neth on a chain. They're all as bad as each other - taxes, the prison hulks, or worse for them, and you can wager they're smart enough to keep a good thing going. All the knives you'd never want watching your back while you're lightening a purse; fawning with the rich folk, stabbing the poor, keeping coins in the councillor's estates ... isn't that always the way?

You know what will happen if Taxmen decide to gut you and throw you to the crawcrabs? Nothing, that's what. Think the spears in the militia care a bad coin one way or another? No high and mighty councillor's going to shed tears over a commoner thief from the villages crossed by their pet eels. No, you've got to be respectable, a pretty woman or a pile of coins before you can cause them trouble. All the fancy council nobles care about is counting what they steal by the law they made, mark my words.

This'll cost us all good, you'll see, and you'd better expect that every last coin is coming from your hide, I don't care how many seasons it takes!

[ Posted by Reason on February 9, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Order of the Glass Eye

Blood, don't touch the Lady Moonlit - the Glass Eyes don't like that. It doesn't matter about the spiders and the webs behind; not for a Weaver like you to question their whys and wherefores. Nor a spearman for that matter. They may not hang tapestries or sweep the stones, but they don't let anyone else near the statues in the main Hall.

It's easy coin, girl, and a good set of arms besides; you think I'd be carrying red iron otherwise? It's the Glass Eyes who want spears watching the Guild Halls and their workrooms. I can't see why, but it's more coin than I'd be taking from the militia or Seafarer's Guild. Blood! Are thieves going to steal hot glass and a furnace from behind triple-locked doors? Not bottles nor window-glass neither, but I won't be saying that when it's time to take the next purse.

Those high and mighty eels act as though glass is the biggest secret in Port, slinking in and out of their workrooms, wearing their guild signs, whispering and writing fit to be sages - but I'll wager any fool can fire up a furnace to make a bottle. How hard can it be?

[ Posted by Reason on February 21, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Petitioning the Council

I am quite aware of the urgency with which you approach your charge, you have made that more than clear. I sympathise; any similar theft from my estate or interests would be dealt with quite harshly, I assure you. Simply put, however, you have no standing - this is not Three Stones and I am neither a Verden nor a Talmur to be pulled hither and thither by the whims of priests. You would do well to remember that.

Wander as you will; neither I nor my fellow Councillors have any intention of throwing good coin away by putting spearmen at your disposal. Do you think we empty our coffers for each new Visitor and petitioner to arrive in Port? Let your Temple protect its own interests with its own purse - you will find spearmen and strong hands in good number at the Guild Bridge or Seafarers' Guildhall on the cliffs. I very much doubt your thief is in Port, however; it sounds as though your fellow priests should be searching closer to home, quite frankly. Turn the City Without upside-down and I'm sure you'll find your statuette or figurine or whatever it was.

No, no, this petition is at an end. Not another word! Magister, the doors if you would be so kind?

My, my, my. I wonder just how much gold is in this latest Face of Burning Truth so carelessly lost by the good priests of Three Stones? It would be a terrible shame were it to be melted down for coin before being recognized, wouldn't it now? Still, it would have to be found first; while priests from Three Stones may carry the certainty of the Powers, I am far from sure. Anything a thief would care to steal can be found by the Unending Sea - why travel to Three Stones and risk a quick death from Watch blades? If one or two of my retainers became motivated to join this fishers' boat, they would be looking for someone other than a dockside rat ... assuming that the trinket itself isn't simply Lost to the Farthest.

[ Posted by Reason on February 25, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

A Council of Lords and Guildmasters

A priest from Three Stones shown the door by Lady Dalun, eh? I'm surprised the oh-so-honored Magisters and lowly clerks deigned to grant you an audience at all. The noble Councilors don't like your Temple, and the Trade Guild likes your gate taxes and lead coins even less, I'll wager. You've spent good coin on spearmen though, and that's a wiser act than petitioning the Council - a covy of spined eels behind you counts for more than a Lord's word on the low dockside.

No, the Council isn't like your netted glowfish in Three Stones; you'd need a dozen Watch blades at your side to impress them at all. Look at it this way: Lord Onn and the Seafarers' Guildmaster, they're upright enough, but think they have the deed to all the dockside, signed and sealed. Cerel and Saan - the Master Trader and one who might as well be - can't stand the sight of each other, but hate the thought of a single coin going to the nobles even more. Lady Dalun, she's a harsh one; cross her and she'll pay you in kind, aye, whether you're Gray Folk or King of all the Ammand. The other Guildmasters, the high priest of the Temple of Three, old Lord Lundarn, they don't matter so much - but they all look after their own first and foremost ... when they're not too busy sticking the knife in or squirming to be top eel in the barrel. Without a Council, there'd be spearmen in the streets - and not just lazy militia, mark my words. It was bad enough afore The Locked Heart took the Coin Press for her own, or when the Red Iron eels pointed spears at the traders. Better to let the high born and Guilds spit and fight behind closed doors.

It's fortunate for you that we met; there aren't many at the Guild Bridge who'll stay honest after stolen gold is mentioned. Give coin to any of those young eelsuckers and you'll be left on the cobbles by tonight ... or worse. I'm a forthright one - you'll not find better. I'll guide you and your hired spears true, low streets or high, so long as you have the coin to pay.

[ Posted by Reason on March 2, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Making Work for the Militia

Here we are then. Spines and claws, boy, don't just stand there! Take some coin and find out how long we're to be waiting. Talk to the spearmen, talk to the folk inside, I don't care.

I don't know why Harand has us paying precious coin to the Magisters for this moon-faced fool. As though he was Lord of the Docks ransoming his own! I don't see him throwing so much as a lead coin from Three Stones after any of our heads; we'd be rotting in the Prison Hulks, mark my words. You heard about the Taxmen at the safehouse last season? Laugh as you will, but that was this one's doing. He may have muscle enough for any three of you, but he's bad luck, sure as a coin stolen from Salin.

Hah! That's like as not; myself, I'll wager the fool's mother has a pretty face and willing ways - and that Harand knows more than most about that.

Half a broiled crawcrab could have done the job! Rough up that red-painted blade from the Wayward Visitor; a little payback for Deval's friend. Can't be letting those eels up the hillside carry on like Lords and Ladies. I explained it all carefully and slowly, told him what to do, pointed out the mark - I may as well have pulled his arm back for the first blow. What does he do? Only runs the blade all the way past the old wall and through the door of the Silvered Horn, that's all. Those militia eels should have speared him and hung him over the fire pit! Blood!

[ Posted by Reason on March 8, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

In the Magister's Chambers

Lord Onn put you here to learn, young lady, and learn you shall. The very first lesson is that a hundred coins on the Magister's table before you is a fine, whether it came from the most honest fisher, the blackest of dockside vermin, Trespassers from the Farthest or fell from the ceiling beams. A fine it shall be, and entered as such into the ledger. The second lesson to learn is that a hundred coins on my Magister's table is fifty to the Council and in the record; the rest we'll find a use for, eh?

The militia spearmen cast a poor net, Seafarers' Guildsmen little better. There are no waves without wind, but each unsavory character who stands before my Magister's table protests innocence and honesty. Hah! Such fine and upstanding cityfolk should have no qualms in paying a little additional coin in taxes. If not, then a time in the cells usually changes their mind.

Come, young lady, finish up quickly now. Guards will bring the first ruffians from the cellars soon, and all must be in order for the day.

[ Posted by Reason on March 8, 2005 | Permanent Link ]