The Midnight Watch

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S'a hammerin'.

#1 2017-04-21 03:20:24

Tom
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Registered: 2013-05-25
Posts: 59

The Family Arkwright, Part I

“There goes the neighborhood...” Oliver huffed in annoyance. He stood atop a fourth story balcony on the edge of Cove’s wealthier district, watching newly arrived soldiers march through the town square. After taking a long and final inhale from his cigar, he tossed it disdainfully on the marching soldiers below.

“How many are there this time?” Joan asked from inside the open doorway. She opened a bottle of vintage wine to help usher her brother back inside and began to pour three glasses for those present.

“Too many. More than last time. Between mass-recruitment and recalling soldiers from every corner of the map, there are at least twice as many soldiers in the city as there were five years ago.” Oliver nearly slammed the balcony doors shut as he reentered the suite.

“Calm down, Oliver...” Solomon asked in a firm voice. He nodded briefly to Joan as she passed him his glass of wine, before turning back to Oliver. “The family has experienced many highs and lows over the years, but we’ve always survived.”

“This is different. The plague has all but spread to our doorsteps and now we’re trapped in here with an ever-growing population of uniformed pricks. Our businesses are being shut down left and right. Agents of the family are being arrested left and right. Nothing gets in or out of the harbor without flying military colors and our exports have been crippled as a result.”

“I’m not normally one to agree with Oliver’s temper tantrums...” Joan chimed in with an audible sigh. “But they executed Marcel, last night. Even a few years ago, when the plague was further away and the military was more relaxed… they never would have pulled something like that. It would have gone to trial and we would have bought his way out. They’ve never given the rope to someone so high in the family, before. Tensions are high and we’ve turned into glorified scape-goats in the eyes of the bureaucracy. ‘No shipment this week? Blame the Arkwrights. Soldiers turned up missing? Blame the Arkwrights. Crime rates are up? Blame the Arkwrights.”

“The price we pay for the business we chose,” Solomon replied sharply. “Half the things they blame us for are actually true, after all.”

“And the other half is due to their own incompetence, but you don’t see them stringing up Sergeants and Magistrates,” Oliver sneered as he grabbed his glass of wine and downed half of it before slumping into his seat. “Things need to change. We need to leave Cove.”

“I beg your pardon?” Solomon asked as he leaned forward, his voice taking a grave tone. “Your father would never approve of you uprooting the family.”

“He doesn’t really have a say in the matter, does he?” Oliver challenged, much to the dismay of both Joan and Solomon.

“Your father has helmed the family syndicate for thirty years, you can’t just-”

“Twenty-nine years,” Oliver corrected sharply. “For the last year my father has been so bed ridden we can barely prop him up long enough to finish his soup. I don’t like it better than anyone else here but the reality of the situation is that my father barely has the strength to speak, let alone lead the syndicate.”

“What exactly are you proposing?” Joan asked.

“Cove is overrun with military and overzealous bureaucrats…  They’re in a panic and they’ve pulled all of their resources from every outer territory. They’ve left a lot of their other cities to the wolves, so I say we take one of them for ourselves. I was thinking Altmere… The capital City of Altmere to be specific; named after the greater district it represents.”

“What makes you think you can hold it?” Solomon asked.

“The family has a small army under its command. An army gathering dust as we cower in the shadow of the Covian flag. We have the raw manpower to control the city abandoned by its protectors. We can establish foothold by taking over businesses, get people in debt to us with gambling and loan sharking… Once we have a presence we overthrow the local government outright and finally declare the Arkwright name one of nobility.” Oliver smirked triumphantly as he leaned back and finished his glass of wine.

“You can’t just con and back-stab your way to nobility, Oliver…” Solomon explained as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Who said you can’t? How do you think the current nobles got their titles? During a time of hardship, their ancestors took advantage of a bad situation and came out on top. Enough time passed, and now everyone just takes for granted that their spawn is better than everyone else. We take over Altmere, and everyone hates us for it for a few years. Eventually they accept it, and then later they take it for granted that that’s how it always was.”

“Cove won’t be happy about it… They won’t just let you walk in and claim their city,” Joan stated with concern.

Oliver perked a brow as he turned and motioned out the window. “Do you hear that marching? That’s the sound of Covian military hiking up their kilts and scurrying home. If they had the resources to protect Cove AND Altmere, they would. But they can’t and they’re not. For all they know Altmere will now be consumed by the undead horde. They’ll be pissed that we claimed Altmere but it will still be standing, and they’ll owe us for that. They’ll trade with us and tolerate the change in management out of necessity. Too many mainland nations have fallen for them to get picky about who they bargain with.”

“I’m not leaving Cove,” Joan stated firmly. “Things are hard right now, but this is where our roots are planted. We’ve invested too much to give it all up now.”

“The family is dying, Joan…. We can’t keep things going like they are now,” Oliver protested.

“Enough,” Solomon said as he lifted a hand. “We’re at a crossroads here… With your father out of commission, you both have equal control of the families interests. We need to find a solution you can both be happy with. Now, I was your fathers adviser for years… And if you’ll let me, I think I may have a compromise.”

The two siblings looked between each other briefly before turning back to Solomon.

“First of all…” Solomon said as he laced his fingers together on the table, his expression looked deep in thought. “Oliver is right, things cannot continue the way they have been. Cove has adopted a zero-tolerance for crime and we cannot continue the majority of our operations under this political climate. But uprooting the family in its entirety does not sound ideal to me, either… So… I propose that the two of you split the families assets. Oliver will take the majority of the families enforcers. Our numbers in Cove will be quite small as a result, but that will help us maintain a low profile. Joan will stay here, retaining the family businesses and this estate. We’ll be operating on a smaller scale, but we don’t have much choice at the moment.”

“What about the family vault?” Oliver asked eagerly. “I’ll need funding for this.”

“The vault’s contents stay where they are, here in Cove. Joan is going to need those funds to keep the family out from under the Baron’s boot heel. You’ll be given some start-up capital, and that’s all. Besides, if you’re going to be taking over an entire city; it’s for the best that you arrive hungry. You’ll be more eager to start staking claim, that way.”

Oliver scowled gently. “Fine… Joan gets ninety percent of the vault, but I get ninety percent of the enforcers.”

“I’d rather we each take eighty percent, respectively… That way neither of us is too crippled by the arrangement,” Joan suggested.

“Deal,” Oliver answered eagerly as he stood and shook his sisters hand. With a confident grin, he then walked across the room and began to browse the wine shelf. “Do we have any Altmere vintage? I should start getting a taste for it.”

Last edited by Tom (2017-04-21 03:28:34)

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