The Machinations of Idea Men

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The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Sun Mar 08, 2015 1:54 pm

A quiet stillness hung over the city with the nighttime mist, the one seeming to compliment the other. Like a veritable river, the silent grayness ebbed and flowed through the streets and over them, passing around structures and obstructions with little trouble. Yet, like a thing alive, it clung to them what braved the rumor of its horror and fear. It was almost as though the mist sought for its own unknown propose the life its behavior mocked.

The warehouse stood like a failing lighthouse within the vast obtuse sea of gray, offering a guide post and a sanctuary to those who knew its purpose. One such figure stepped out from the mist into the building, his imposing figure revealing his race before even his features were clear. The Terrisman closed the door behind him, shutting out the night, and turned to observe the emptiness inside.

"Master Epps? Master Get? Are either of you here?"

His deep voice rumbled quietly, hushed in a mixture of respect and wariness. The darkness smothered everything, and even the bit of candlelight Dorlin thought he saw did not provide sufficient illumination to reveal any who might be inside.
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by The Steel Ministry on Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:30 pm

"What might I do for you friend Terrisman?"

A full rainbarrel stands in the near corner, drains cunningly set up to fill with fresh water. Epps removes the ash screen from the top and splashes some on his face, washing away some of the days sweat, his hair clinging desperately to the little scalp it could yet call home.

"I do hope all is well?"
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:54 pm

"Indeed."

At the sound of his employer's voice, the stress and wariness he'd felt as he'd entered the warehouse eased out of the Steward in the form of a deep sigh. Carefully, so as to avoid shaking any ash off, Dorlin pulled his hood back from his head and unclasped his cloak. He gave it a hardy shake to clear the soot from its folds and placed it upon a nearby crate for later retrieval. As he approached the direction from which Epps had been speaking, the Terrisman pulled a candlestick from his robe and lit it, thereby giving more focused light for his intention. And so it did, making the skaa fully visible to him, though the weak light illuminated little else within the abandoned building. Finally Dorlin stopped, not five feet from Epps. He did not bow.

"Yes, all is as well as can be expected. I guess the plans are coming along successfully, though three nights of execution is hardly a reasonable allotment of time to judge that by.

"But I digress." As one hand held the candle unwaveringly, the other hid behind his back, as if the stance was the Steward's normal state of rest. "I come to know more of your intention. This plan we have is good and should stir the nobles up well, regardless of the finer details of that agitation. No matter what happens, Venture is discredited. The question is, what then? It's well to have our immediate goal in mind, but it seems to me prudent to be planning also our next step. 'The ash may fall with little regard for tomorrow, but the skaa must plan and regulate his energy to clear many roads.'"
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by The Steel Ministry on Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:58 am

Epps nods along, but looks slightly uneasy.

"Yes, I suppose it makes sense to know what our long term goals are. And of course you want to know what sort of men you're working for."

He had no hood or cloak to shield him from the gentle ashfall, and the water had left dirty streaks on his lined face. He takes the ladle up, taking a long drink before answering. In the half light of the candle the lines on his face seemed graven deeper than they had on the night of their previous meeting.

"Let me start by saying what I am not. I am no scholar. I've only learned to read and write over the last couple of years because Get has been teaching me. Nor am I a soldier. I've never killed a man in my life and I have no intention of starting. Finally, I am no leader. I inherited this position when the last man was killed and there was nobody else willing to take it."

He has a hard time meeting Dorlin's eye as he speaks, and his voice is quiet and hesitant. Then he holds up a finger, maintaining eye contact with Dorlin; a sudden fire burning behind his eyes.

"What I am is an idealist. I say that knowing all the stereotypes that go along with the word. I believe in things. I believe in the Skaa. I believe there's a better way for us to live; for everyone in the Final Empire. My plans are for the Skaa to become their own masters and for the Nobles to see that beatings and rape are no way to manage a workforce."

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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:54 am

"'Idealist'. The word has a harsher connotation than it ought. Is it bad for an individual to have ideas, to wish for better? Not at all. If you can be labeled as such, you are not alone, Master Epps; I share that label, though perhaps in a different manner."

Dorlin did not elaborate. Instead he nodded, continuing. His earlobes shook as he did, and his multiple earrings jingled melodically.

"It is a worthy goal, if perhaps a nigh unobtainable one. However, I speak more to our immediate goal of harming House Venture. Once the ball has been disrupted and Lord Abelond shamed, do you have a next step? The farther ahead we can see, the better we can plan; the better we plan, the quicker the plan can be executed."
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by The Steel Ministry on Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:53 pm

Epps mouth almost slips into a smile when Dorlin says how impossible his dream is.

"Don't count us out just yet. I've got a couple of surprises up my sleeve."

He blows out a frustrated sigh all the same.

"Venture are a real problem. Beyond the ball, I have no specific plans. I was toying with letting you lot... off the chain as it were. See what you can come up with to put a stone in their boots. Get wants to take a more direct approach and try to start a House War, but that's the last thing I want. We don't know what Venture's goals are, even for the short term really. We know Brallough counter their moves sometimes, but not at every opportunity. We're fighting blind, and I don't need to be a soldier to know that's a very bad thing. It rather puts a damper on planning for the future..."
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:25 pm

"I've no doubt that has been the case in the past. But surely you've determined that having a sympathetic noblewoman in your ranks is no bad thing. I doubt you'll have to fight blind much longer."

Grumbling uncharacteristically as a bit of hot wax dripped down onto his fingers, Dorlin walked over a nearby table to set the candle down.

"I'm afraid, Master Epps, that killing may become necessary. History has shown us time and again that power only changes hands or is dispersed through the spilling of blood. Even the Steel Ministry, for all its ambivalence censoring of information about the time before the Lord Ruler's unification, admits that.

"Ah, but speaking of the Ministry," the Steward pulled a piece of parchment and a charcoal pencil from his sleeve, "I had an idea for a next step that I wanted to get your opinion on. But it's not a pressing matter, should you have affairs to attend to. We can discuss this later; it isn't pressing."

He paused, awaiting the skaa's approval.
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by The Steel Ministry on Tue Mar 10, 2015 6:10 pm

"Heheh, I'm sure lady Voira would be a welcome addition, though I'd be surprised if she really vomited to our cause. It's almost too much to hope for."

He looks distracted for a moment the splashes some water on his face before rejoining Dorlin.

"But tell me Terrisman, as a man of knowlege, how many violent rebellions have succeeded? A complete coup is quite impossible and would be enthusiastically put down by the inquisitors. So when violence fails, why continue using it?"
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:16 pm

"Ah, but I never said 'rebellion', did I?"

Smiling, the Terrisman stepped to the table. Carefully placing the parchment near the candle to better see his work space, Dorlin began writing and sketching, articulating and describing as he did his train of thought.

"You're right, of course, Master Epps: when the skaa take up arms they fail. If the nobles themselves cannot put them back into their place, then the Koloss or Inquisitors do. Violence is met with violence, the few free thinking skaa are killed or returned to servitude, and the circle spins on."

He glanced up, checking to see whether the skaa miner was following him. Apparently satisfied, the Steward looked back down.

"But what happens if the skaa and their rebellion are removed as a factor altogether? What if, instead, we create another House War? Moreover, what happens if that conflict is because of the way a particular House treats its skaa? The skaa are property of the Lord Ruler, after all. If other Houses could be convinced that a particular House was mishandling the property it was lent, they might rise in strength against that House to prevent supposed or rumored retribution from the Lord Ruler? The Sliver of Infinity might not actually care, but gossip in the courts and among the skaa is a powerful thing."

Satisfied with his diatribe, he stood up and looked expectantly at Epps.

"What do you think?"
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by The Steel Ministry on Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:12 pm

Epps actually breaks into a wide grin as Dorlin goes on.

"Master Terrisman, I think you and I are two men of a similar mind. But I propose to take it a step further. House Wars only beget a pile of corpses, invariably most of them Skaa."

He sits at the table, leaning in towards the candle and whispering intensely, his words tripping over each other.

"What if we could secure a Noble patron? What if we had real, physical evidence that there is a better way to manage a plantation? What if instead of killing each other over who has the right to kill us, we showed them that letting the Skaa work under their own management yields better profits? Let's hit them where they pay attention: their purses! We could change the Rebellion from being a liability to an asset for the Noble Houses!"

He looks up at Dorlin, passion radiating from his hopeful face.
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:27 am

As Epps spoke, Dorlin stood straight from bending over the table. Hands behind his back, he watched and listened respectfully. Finally he nodded.

"It's a noble goal, to be sure. But I'm not sure how practical it is, though indeed any scheme involving manipulating the nobles could be consisted impractical. How are we to find a noble patron? They'd have to be the Lord of the House, or perhaps the Heir. That all will be a monumental task, finding a sympathetic lord. The other will be harder. Even at their most kind, I've never heard a substantiated rumor of nobles allowing their skaa to manage their own affairs. How will you manage this?"

His tone was questioning but not cynical, as if he genuinely sought answers.
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by The Steel Ministry on Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:21 pm

Epps nods along.

"I never said it would be easy. That's part of why we need to weaken venture. We know little about the nobility aside from the major battles, but right now venture are too strong to be open to offers this radical. I hope that we will either weaken them to the point of being desperate for innovation, or set someone else up to seize the opportunity. Maybe Brannaugh, maybe someone else."

His smile widens.

"As for proof... you'll just have to wait and see. We have something in the works I think you'll all be rather impressed by."
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:40 pm

"Hm. Terrismen might be known for their patience, but I'm afraid I may be a bad cross section of my people."

Dorlin paused a moment, as if considering the ramifications of all his companion had told him. Nodding, he began gathering the papers and carefully setting each to burn by the candle's flame. He eyed the skaa as he did. "Can't be too careful.

"Well, impatient though I may be, I shall wait to see your surprise. And I will aid in your plans for Venture, though I still believe a House War of some degree will be necessary before the end. Just do not include House Elariel without my Mistress' approval or indeed her desire." He chuckled. "You know, you're a sneaky one. You feign concern for a next step and claim that you've no defined plan, and yet you hint at things yet in the works. You are crafty, Master Epps. I find myself admiring that in my own way."
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by The Steel Ministry on Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:30 pm

Epps smiles broadly.

"Well as they say in Shelldry dens, no plan survives first contact with the players. So I figure why bother?"

He chuckles.

"I'm afraid you will have more control than myself over elariels involvement in our plans. That's more or less why we hired you. But I would hate to cause lady Voira discomfort at any rate."
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Re: The Machinations of Idea Men

Post by Dorlin on Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:12 am

"So would I."

The fire had rapidly consumed each piece of parchment it had been set to, eliminating visual evidence of their machinations. As the final section turned to ash, Dorlin straightened back up and looked at Epps with a slightly bemused expression on her face.

"But she is not one to bear discomfort for no purpose. She is very strong willed indeed, though perhaps everyone saw her at her least prepared the other night. Happening across an unexpected meeting of conspirators will do that to anyone, I think."

The Terrisman bowed his head.

"You have set my mind at ease a little with this meeting, impromptu though it was, and I thank you for it. I didn't expect to find one of similar mind within the skaa, and it gladdens me. I thank you for your time, Master Epps."
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