Home > Kieron > Kieron: Episode 0

Kieron: Episode 0

Over the weekend, at a GNO shindig there was some ridicule about the overwhelming length of my posts, as well as a comment made about how it had been over 24 hours since my last one. To this I replied, “Fine, I’ll post some of my Sailor Moon Fanfic.” This is not entirely true, but here is some Eberron fiction, it’s long, and there’s more where it came from.


“Okay, today I want you to bring me that man’s purse.”
“But he’s already half way down the street.”
“Better get going.”

I knew there were folks that wanted me. Not the kind of folks I wish, the kinds with large assets and tasks for me. No, the wrong kind of people want me. The god-fearing kind. The kind that could kill me at a tick and not flinch, because I’m evil, they’re good, and the Flame was all that mattered.

And I wanted people. Certain people. My mother, for purely sentimental value. And Jaddo, my father of sorts when the streets orphaned me; the Boromar Clan wasn’t kind to him, but he knew enough to teach me the ways of the thief and enough sense to swear no allegiance in the criminal underworld he’d lived in. I wanted Andra, my on-again-off-again girlfriend who I had to abandon when we left the city with no warning. I didn’t have any loyalty to her, but there are times when I sure miss her. I wanted Magda, too. She was my mother’s closest semblance to a friend and my closest semblance to a mother after …

Well, I did have Magda. And she had something for me; that look she was giving me told me as much. She had something she wanted from me that I probably didn’t have: a nice shirt, contacts with good quality meat, fresh vegetables. Motherly things. I caught my dagger from it’s midair flip and gave her a chance to talk.

“Kieron, you know that you and your friends are welcome as long as you like at my inn, but you’re at least going to have to pay for meals. I spent enough feeding you when you was a boy. You can make my fortune for me now, and I’ll be needing it.”

“Who’s that?” I said, flicking my eyes over to a halfling on the other side of the room, and flicking the knife into the air.

“What’s that?” Magda boomed. I caught the dagger and repeated.

“Who’s that?” I gestured towards a fellow by the door. He was Boromar, in his dress, in his actions, in his sneer.

“Oh, he’s just one of your type. Don’t know his name, but there’s bound to be a hundred of him around. Don’t you worry, he’s payed his bill.”

“I think I stole his purse once.”

“Now why would you do a stupid thing like that?”

“Well, I needed the money,” I shrugged. The Halfling’s eyes rested for a second on me, the lanky Human in the corner, who was asking to lose a finger by tossing around sharp blades. I doubt he liked me.
With a hearty laugh, Magda knew, “You didn’t need money. You needed the fun. It was always about the thrill for you. Now why don’t you make the thrilling trip upstairs and get me my due, eh boy?”

“You don’t get it, eh? I stole from a Boromar Clansman. That’s a no-no. They’re the biggest organized crime gang in the whole city. If my dumb twelve-year old ass had gotten caught, there wouldn’t have been a body to find. The Boromar work hard for their stealings and don’t take kindly to having it passed down the chain.”

“Wonderful. How’s about you pass it one link farther down into my meager coffer?”

“How’s it you’ve stayed in business this long? Bugging customers and serving extra portions withal. I’ve seen some magic in my days, but you’re the real sorceress.”

I stood up and let the knife land point down in the rough wood table. Magda frowned disapprovingly.

“I’ll be right back.”

I passed Gwent on my way up the stairs: the Gnome was just starting his day. The career soldier wasn’t a heavy sleeper – few veterans of the Last War are – but he managed to get his fair share of sleep in. Then again, it was still early.

The shadow of envy for my little friend flitted across my mind, to be unassociated with this place we were staying in, to think it a quaint slum instead of the relative paradise it was to a native of Fallen. Sharn’s poorest and most dangerous ward had raised a cautious eye, but also a restless soul. And now I was restless again.

The dreams robbed me of my sleep last night, as they did occasionally. More often than not they took me to that dark alley that had consumed my mother. But then other times, they took me to places I didn’t know, to lives I’m sure were real but as foreign to me as the “fish” I had eaten last night.

Back in my room I was sharing with Gwent, I retrieved the coin we owed and enough for a few more days at least.

Down the stairs and into the common room, I found Gwent having a chat with the Boromar I had seen across the inn. I paused for a moment at the laughability of a Gnome and a Halfling, seated together and talking, even together not my height, weight, or skill.

“Looking to do some business?” I broke into the conversation with a quizzical look at the Boromar.

Gwent stepped in before the grey-and-black-clad man could answer. “Ah, good. You’re up. This fine fellow was just telling me of a proposition he has for us. It sounded like a fair deal to me.”

The Halfling piped up in a comically threatening voice that was a few scales too high to inspire fear. “As a matter of fact, I was. You see, we’ve got … a problem. One of my own has betrayed me. He’s decided to offer a little extra package with the normal Dreamlily reality-alteration experience. See, the Dreamlily messes up your senses, but he’s hit on this idea of adding in prostitutes. If this were a stroke of genius, he would be a hero. But it’s not. It’s killing people, driving them away, and generally making the Boromar Clan look bad.

“Now, it’s pretty contained. We’ve tried to stop him using our regular channels but nothing has worked so far. In fact, he’s gone rogue and stopped paying us our due. Plan was to starve him out by cutting off his supply of the stuff. But he’s still in business. That means someone big has a foothold. Probably Daask, maybe someone else.

“Whoever it is, we can’t put them out of business because that might start a turf war we can’t fight right now. So I hear that Kieron and his cronies are the men for the job.”

I sat there scowling at my tablemates for a few seconds. My hatred for all organized crime was coming into play twice, not wanting to help House Boromar, but wanting to hinder whoever else it was that was producing the Dreamlily. But I disliked Boromar too much. Things that caused them trouble was good, right? But things that killed relatively innocent people was likewise pretty crappy.

But in the end it all came down to one thing: I was restless.

“Okay.”

“Gather your men quickly. You better get going.”

“Organized crime is about two things: getting your money and making you forget. They’ll take your money, or give you some and want more back. But they’ll also sell you happiness, or at least ignorance. But that stuff just makes everything worse.”
“Then why would anyone work with them?”
I saw a twinge of regret.
“That’s anyone’s guess.”

I idly wondered whether the Halfling would try to recruit me into his House before or after the operation. I decided he would say something afterwards, because I would have shown I could survive, and the operation would have technically been done by an outsider.

He had given his name as Garret Boromar, although his bulbous nose showed his lack of actual blood relation to the actual Boromar family.

Damian Vryce D’Modani, my own personal Silver Flame chapter, idly fingered the argent arrowhead emblazoned on his chest. He found a spec of dirt in the Flame-shaped engraving and flicked it out. I was never sure what was going through his mind, but guessed it to be regretful longings for sleep. Church folks were always cranky when they were tired. Must be all that praying.

The Boromar tried along to brush away another inquiry from Heartwood: “No, I’ve never met another wooden Warforged. You’re definitely the first. Okay?”

The eager druid wasn’t placated by this, however. “Because, you know that the Ironwood body actually offers many extra features over the regular metal of the Warforged’s body. The iron ones were just made to be effective and disposable non-human soldiers but certain special ones were created for special purposes, like myself. For example, my derivation from the Ironwood actually imbues me with …”

I had heard the lecture before, and didn’t really get what he said any better this time than I had before. What difference did it make if the war machines were made out of rocks or trees? I chuckled as I remembered the old slight on the foot soldiers of the Last War: “Artificed intelligence isn’t.”

Sure seemed to hold true with Heartwood.

The four of us who were not filling the air with chatter sighed with relief when the doors of the lift opened and we were let off.

I broke off the Warforged mid-sentence. “Better to keep chatter to a minimum.”

Heartwood nodded like he was in on some secret. Garret muttered something about “some days”, to which I agreed resignedly.

The Halfling led without looking behind, not even watching his back. So he trusts us. Trusts me.

We all wrinkled our noses in revulsion at what was wafting down the street. In all my days as a street thief, I had smelled many things, but this was a new scent. It was a combination of a brothel, funeral, and drug den.

“Lovely, ain’t it? Now you know what’s been scaring people off so much,” commented Garret like some wise-man. He pointed two houses down and we all saw what was unmistakably a place of business: the thugs outside, the occasional ill-clad bliss-seeker coming in or out, usually stumbling more going in than emerging.

I realized I didn’t actually know what I was doing. “So we just go in and stop them? Does it matter if it’s permanent or not?”

“These guys are crazy. They’re not stopping unless they’re dead. The House has very specific rules about going independent. And they involve your body independent of your head.”

“Hm.” I didn’t like the rules, but I liked these guys about as much. I was making money, whether I enjoyed it or not.

“So are we going to just go buy some of the stuff or is there some master plan?” Gwent asked, prodding me for ideas.

“Well, remember the last Dreamlily parlor we busted up? It’s probably going to go something like that, but bigger and with more innocents. They’ve got call girls in there extending the experience, so we’re going to have to watch out for those. And I think we all learned our lesson about taking animate trees into drug dens after that last screw-up.

“Heartwood, stay in front of the goons while we go up to the door. Keep them looking at you, we’ll get ‘em from behind. Then, in the door, down the hall and get the door closed. Can’t let anyone out, and can’t let folk on the street know what’s happening when it’s happening. Just, you know, think on your feet.”

Shooing the Halfling away, we made our approach to the house.

We let the guards see us, jingled our coin purses to show we had money and were up the stairs. Then, turning around suddenly, we took them down as quietly as we could manage. So far so good.

“Gwent, the honor is all yours.” I gestured at the door and made way for the Gnome. Whatever was on the other side of that door was going to have to try pretty hard if it wanted to stop Gwent from getting in. After all, he didn’t wear full plate armor because it was comfortable.

And then the door was open, and we were all in. Closing it again, I whirled around to take in the scene. The Dreamlilly dealer in a room on the right, at his desk surrounded by passed out forms on various couches. The dealer did not look pleased to see us. A strong smell of human musk from the left: a curtained off room for obvious purposes. Hallway ahead, with stairs. At the top of the stairs … Gnolls.

Great.

We were relatively used to this, and all just reacted. Gwent threw his shield up and started up the stairs, while Damian turned to the dealer. The Templar of the Flame was going to take that guy apart. Oh well. I ducked through the curtain on the left with a final glance at Heartwood standing and trying to find something to do.

Immediately, I knew it to be a mistake. I tried to clear the more horrific mental images out of my head and scanned the room for exits or Boromar. Neither, as it happened. Back to the hallway.

Gwent and Heartwood were on the stairs, with Damian taking his weapon out of the dealer’s body. Not much to help, so I darted down the hallway away from the door. On my right was a door. With a glance over my shoulder, I eased it open to see beds, one of which was occupied. This was one of the guys that worked the joint. I snuck over to him, grabbed him by the collar, waking him, and then knocked him out cold with a punch across the jaw. He’d be good to run and tell what had happened.

Stepping outside and shutting the door, and back down the hall, I found the other three had handled the Gnolls admirably. Gwent was a little hurt, but Damian saw to that.

Something was wrong. Only four guys on duty?

“What’s up there?” I asked of Gwent from the bottom of the stairs.

“A door.”

“Let’s see what it’s got for us.”

Once up the stairs, we all gathered around and entered. But it was empty. Two beds, matching the two dead Gnolls, and all their crap.

“Why can’t they stockpile anything of value?” I idly wondered.

Damian, astute as always, announced, “This was too easy. Where are the rest of them?”

“No idea. The real question is, what’s with Daask being here? I mean, those Gnolls sure didn’t work for Boromar, and the only crime ring here in Sharn that’ll pay gnolls is Daask. But why would anyone work with them?”

“That’s anyone’s guess.”

“You see, if we kill that guy, no one cares. Someone knows him, but no one will do anything about it. But that guy there, in the gray and black, if we killed him, the House would have me dead and you either the same or worse. It’s not who you are, it’s who you know.”

We searched through the room for anything to take with us.

“Nothing.” Damian came up empty-handed.

Gwent found the same: “Nothin’.”

Finding what looked like a document case, Heartwood was somewhat intrigued. “The craftsmanship of this box is like nothing I’ve ever seen before! Too bad it’s empty.” He took the slim case and slipped it in his satchel.

Damian offered a useful tip. “Let’s get out of here.”

We all filed out the door, but stopped before starting down the stairs.

“Who are you guys?” One of the whores shrieked from the hallway below.

Leading us down the stairs, the Gnome stepped forward and announced, “Gwent Hammertoe and company, at your service!”

I pushed my way up behind him and said, “This is the work of Kieron and his associates. We are affiliated with no one and are putting an end to this threat to the people. You are free to go, your owners will not stop you.”

The girl stuttered, “K-K-Kieron? Jaddo’s little friend?”

This knocked the wind out of me. She knew me. She knew him.

“Yes. You… were friends?”

“You could say that,” she giggled. Right then I wished she was anyone else. “Boy, he sure loved you. Too bad he never got to see you as some big damn hero.”

“Do you know where he is? He never came back after that Cannith job.”

“Got made one with the his god, no doubt. He got pinched by the Cannith and dealt with privately.”

I was deflated. I thought I should say something, but what else could I care about? Gwent nudged me out the door and we left. The air outside instantly brought me back to my senses, and I started scanning around, viewing the street through eyes Jaddo had taught me to use. I had known that he had disappeared on the job, but no one had ever actually told me he was dead. Maybe he had to leave the city, maybe he had to change his identity and sever ties, maybe… Maybe he wasn’t dead.

Those that wanted to kill me should have struck then. The one person I trusted to be there and help and take care had been taken by the job. A job for the Boromars to whom he had apparently sworn his allegiance. Right now, I felt like storming the City Council building and taking apart the whole House from the top down.

But, no, that would just earn me a fate similar to his.

The Halfling that had hired us – he was paying for this, right? – came strolling up.

“Nice piece of work. Everyone dead?”

If he hadn’t been paying us, I would have taken out my frustration straight on him. Just grab him by that gray tunic and lift him up even with … No. He didn’t kill Jaddo. He couldn’t have. But…

“The price has changed. First, pay us our coin. Then, tell me something.”

Garret looked at me dubiously, but removed the coin purse from his belt and handed it to me. I passed it off to Damian. God-fearing folk just can’t steal. It’s dead useful some times.

“Now, tell me what you know about the operation against House Cannith that got Jaddo killed.”

He winked at me slyly. He knew who I meant. I could probably have a blade out and at his… not now. “Nothing to say. Well, plenty to say, but not to you. Now, if you’d like to join our ranks among the Clan, we might be able to accommodate you a bit more. As it is, however, I can only tell you that he had a good death. No rotting in prison for him.”

I knew this was coming, but hated the little wretch for saying it. I had half a mind to show him what I really thought of the Boromar Clan. I got down on the Halfling’s level and spat in his face, “No thanks. I don’t want to get killed on some pointless mission. Maybe if you can come up with a good reason you can try again. Until then, good day.”

I knocked him square in the chest with my forearm, causing him to take a step back.

Whirling around, I beckoned my three fellows along.

It wasn’t until we were in the lift back home that anyone said anything.

Heartwood cluelessly tried to cheer me up, “I didn’t think he was that bad. An honest job proposal. We could do worse.”

“How do you figure? Because a job likely to get us killed for some stupid heist isn’t very good in my book. Anyone can die in Sharn. What matters is who you leave behind and what they do about it. Because if the only people who know you’re gone are those people, then precisely nothing is what they’ll do about it. It’s not who you are, it’s who you know.”

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Categories: Kieron
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  1. June 18, 2007 at 9:49 am
  2. June 22, 2007 at 3:49 am

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