The air was heavy. The sea breeze was absent today, and the
humidity was oppressive but that didn’t stop Devry LeChar from whistling as he
walked to work.
“GOOD MORNING DECRY!” screamed an old woman as she sat in a
rocking chair petting a chicken.
“GOOD MORNING MRS. ULOK!” Devry screamed back at her with a
“If that woman’s hearing gets worse, I’m going to go
deaf!” He chuckled to himself.
Devry loved his town. These were his people. Born
and raised here, Devry knew most everyone in Pearle deMagie and often stopped
to chat with folks on his way to work. It was not uncommon for him to spend
two hours on his journey each way to and from home, which wouldn’t have been
significant if he didn’t work a hundred feet from his house!
It was a lot of responsibility being the mayor of the largest
port on the Niwaega Sea and the economic focal point for eastern half of
Gorainne but Devry knew and vowed never to forget that the people of Pearle
deMagie were its greatest treasure.
Walking along, he saw Lucas Schott talking to one of his
drivers. Both men were clearly agitated. As he approached, he could overhear
“…someone’s gonna pay! They broke his arm!” The driver
“You’re gonna do nothing! Not a damn thing.” Lucas
commanded. “Your gonna do your job and I’ll handle…”
“Good day mayor!” the driver interrupted as he noticed
“It’s a fine morning gentlemen!” Devry said with a smile.
“Off you go now, and remember what I said.” Lucas said as
the driver snapped the reigns.
“Is everything alright Lucas?” Devry asked.
“Oh, sure mayor, everything’s fine.”
“Mayor? Didn’t we go to school together Lucas?” Devry
demanded. “Now call me Devry or I swear I’ll tell Adelene Porian you write
poems about her!”
Lucas was speechless then took a deep breath as it dawned on
him what his old friend trying to do.
“Relax!” Devry said with a grin. Then seriously “I heard
there was a little trouble last night outside the Anchor Point.” Little
happened in Pearle deMagie without Devry knowing about it.
“Well Devry, some of the boys got into a bit of a scrap at
the tavern.” Lucas said, running his fingers through his hair nervously.
“Well the way I hear it, that Terreault boy who works in
your warehouse got the tar beat out of him.” Devry put his hand on Lucas’s
shoulder. “I assume it was…”
“Of course it was. The boys want to head down to the Anchor
Point but hell, someone’s gonna get killed before it ends.” Lucas sighed “I
can’t stop them if it happens again.”
“I’ll think of something.” Devry promised. “I’ll think of
Devry arrived at the office to find Louiginald Bago waiting
for him. “Come on in Mr. Bago.”
Bago was an imposing man, nearly six and a half feet tall,
and with no neck to speak of. He looked even taller standing next to the
“Mayor, have you come to a decision regarding the
transportation contracts?” he asked calmly while cleaning the dirt from under
his nails with his dagger.
“Mr. Bago, I have no precedent for granting any such
monopoly. The Schott brothers are legitimate competitors and I have no reason
or right to interfere with their business. You’re just going to have to
compete. Have you thought of lowering your fees?” Devry said, trying not to
smile. “They are quite a bit higher than the Schotts.”
Bago kept his composure, but the throbbing vein in his
forehead betrayed him. “The Schotts are nothing! Rank amateurs. Look mayor,
someone is gonna get hurt if things don’t change. I’d hate for that to
happen. I really would. It would be tragic.” His face red, Bago had a
reputation for losing his temper but he was usually smart enough to have others
do his dirty work for him. Starting life as nothing more than a street thug,
Bago now controlled most of the overland shipping three quarters of all wagon
transportation. If it shipped, it shipped with Bago’s wagons and more
importantly, Bago’s security. Many a highway bandit met his end at the hands
of Bago’s expert transportation security.
Across town, the Schott brothers kept Bago on his toes. A
smaller company, the Schotts ran an honest concern, and were easily able to
offer better prices than Bago. A virtual gutter war between the two competitors
had existed for nearly five years. Occasional acts of vandalism, theft and the
occasional beating forced the rivals to spend almost as much on security as
they do on actual wagons and horses.
Devry locked eyes with Bago. “Mr. Bago, are you threatening
me?” The law was very clear on these matters.
Suppressing the desire to carve the Halfling up like a fish,
he sheathed his dagger and stood up. “Mr. Mayor, I’m not threatening anyone.
I’m simply saying that it’s dangerous world out there. Bad things happen every
Bago had been pressuring Mayor Devry LeChar to assign
exclusive transportation rights to his company, and of course, Devry had to
refuse. Bribe attempts were rebuffed and Devry threatened Bago with arrest if
he didn’t back off. Devry knew that arresting Bago on a minor charge would be
useless though and likely result in retribution against civil authority and potentially
ignite a turf war, risking the good people of Pearle deMagie.
As a child, he’d seen firsthand the terrible results as criminals
brought untold suffering to those he loved the most. For that reason, above
all others, Devry honored the law for it was the order borne of law that
allowed civilized society to flourish.
Devry had just arrived home from work. Blood streaked the
door of the mayor’s residence. He spotted a torn piece of silk. Was that from
Alexia’s dress? On the porch, he grabbed the broom and burst through the front
door. The room was empty. It was quiet except for the pounding of Devry’s
heart. He dropped the broom and grabbed his rapier from the mantle. He wheeled
quickly as he heard footsteps on the stairs behind him. His knees nearly gave
out at the vision that greeted him.
“Devry, whatever are you doing?” she smiled as she descended
the stairs gracefully.
Alexia LeChar was a vision. Fair skin and golden hair, she
looked more like a fairie than the half elf, half Halfling that she was.
The smile left her lips as she realized something was
wrong. Devry slumped into the chair and she rushed to him. Kneeling by his
side, she put her hands on his arm. His heart was racing.
“Devry, what is it? What’s wrong?” She asked.
He dropped to his knees and they held each other. Devry
kept nothing from his wife as he explained the situation to her and left
nothing out. She took it well but paled when her husband related the veiled
threat Bago made. Devry refused to let her look at the front door but Alexia
insisted. She understood why her husband had been shaken so as nausea
overwhelmed her. Devry sent for the city guards. Posting six at the mansion
and four as Alexia’s personal detail, Devry knew for the first time he’d do
whatever it took to rid himself of Bago. But maybe there was another way.
That night he wrote a letter to Otis Swatternick, the
regional governor for the southern territories, based in Ft. Ste. Anne.
Bago had a man always watching the mayor’s residence. His
job was to record who went in, who went out and how long they were in there and
if certain people went in to notify Bago immediately. The next day, the Schott
brothers visited the mayor’s house. They were there for nearly an hour and
they were in a piss of a mood when they left. Bago was elated over the news.
That afternoon, Devry sent for Bago. He offered the
contracts and both men signed. The terms included a provision that the Schotts
and their men were to be given jobs and no one would be harmed. Bago would
have given them free ale for life in exchange for the papers he held in his
hand. Besides, he would need more workers now that he was the only game in
town. The money was nice but the power was what Bago wanted. Now at last it
would be his!
Now while this was going on, a minor problem seemed to be
growing into a significant concern. Several ships due into port never
arrived. The seas are a treacherous place. Sea monsters, pirates and the
elements make sailing a career choice for the stout hearted. But the loss of
four ships in two weeks was unusual and the timing was couldn’t be worse. The
Schott’s men were less than thrilled about the new arrangement working for
Bago. Devry needed an overwhelming force of guards throughout the city to
prevent violence from breaking out. Anything less and the powder keg Devry
created could explode into all out war, and that wouldn’t do. No, that
wouldn’t do at all.
Devry sent a small squad to reconnoiter the Serpent’s Eye
lighthouse. He hoped the caretaker might be able to shed some light on the
missing ships. Five days later, the still hadn’t returned. Devry sent a dozen
men, including Sacha Perrin, Captain of the Guard. Devry was in terrible
distress when they didn’t return after five days. His town, his people were in
jeopardy. He prayed for an answer.
Devry went to his office. On a day like any other, when the
morning dew sparkled in the sunlight like so many astral diamonds, something
was out of place. A scroll sat on his desk. As he handled the scroll, afraid
to read it, a faint ringing could be heard. It seemed to come from all around
him. This was followed by a slight vibration. The scroll, they began to
glow. The scroll became as a wisp of bright smoke, and drifted towards the
room center. As the smoke began to coalesce, an image of his mother appeared
before him. “Travel to the woods north of Perle de Magie, to the shrine of
Ceates. There you will meet the oddest assortment of characters. Hire them
and send them to the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse. They are your best hope and a
light shines among them.” With the last word, the apparition faded into darkness.
What manner of sorcery was this? Devry felt strangely
calm. He did as instructed. Though the apparition did little to prepare him
for just what characters he would meet. He’d heard of the Yuan-ti. They were
legend. Folk tales passed from generation to generation, often used to produce
a scare. This was the first time he’d met one. He wouldn’t mind if it was the
last. Devry was really in too much of a rush to dwell on the adventurers. He
quickly offered them a reward and they barely haggled. He gave the necessary
instructions and a wagon and dismissed them. “Great” he mused “discount
adventurers. I certainly hope for the all our sakes they’re more competent
than they look.”
The next morning, Otis Swatternick and six squads of Fort
St. Anne soldiers rode into town and went straight for the mayor’s residence.
“Devry LeChar! By order of the King, you are under
arrest!” Swatternick bellowed.
“On what charge?” Devry asked.
“Embezzlement for starters. I’m sure there will be more
once the investigation is concluded. Take him away.” He sneered. Four
soldiers marched up to flank the Halfling. Devry was marched down the street
to the jailhouse and handed over to the stunned warden. Devry had appointed
the man and they were close friends.
“It’s alright my friend. “ Devry calmly told his friend.
“Please honor me by doing your duty.”
His friend straightened and took custody. Devry was locked
in the largest cell. He was alone with Swatternick’s four soldiers stationed
outside the cell. Clean blankets were delivered promptly and fresh water
Swatternick plopped himself down into Devry’s chair. Alexia
remained in her room. Her part in the ruse was simple.
As evening fell, and while the adventurers were struggling
to wrest control of the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse from the pirate brigands,
Devry looked at the stars through the window of his jail cell. Across town,
Bago lay awake wondering what Devry’s arrest would mean to his contracts.
Certainly Swatternick would have to honor them.
Two mornings later, Perrin arrived at the north gate with
the survivors from the lighthouse. Upon hearing of Devry’s arrest, he
confronted the governor.
“This is outrageous!” The captain fumed. “You, of all men
know there’s no way these charges have any basis in fact! I wish to review the
evidence at once!”
“You will be permitted to review the evidence in due time
captain. If LeChar is innocent as you believe, he’ll be acquitted of the
charges.” Swatternick declared. “Now sit down and deliver your report.”
Perrin started with the assignment and the missing squad.
“We noticed right away the light was not working. We approached the lighthouse
cautiously from the front and the south along the beach. I led the men in the
frontal approach. Three men approached the door but there’s no cover so
nonchalance was the plan. Dressed as poor travelers, the plan was to see if
anything was out of sorts. The boy answering the door seemed nervous and it
wasn’t likely that his parents and grandfather would all be away, so the three
barged in. We rushed to follow. We were outnumbered. Hoping the others had
successfully entered the lighthouse from the dock door, we let out a war cry.
Initially we were encouraged to hear the response, but then alarmed and
frightened when we heard the screams of terror as the men were savagely
murdered. The bastards had a Cyclops chained in the anteroom. Six men were
torn to pieces. Good men.” Perrin continued “Three of us were tied up, and
they were torturing the lighthouse keeper’s son. The sorcerer in charge was
definitely looking for something but I’ve no idea what.”
Swatternick listened intently “Go on captain.”
“When a knock was heard at the door, the villains put a
knife to the throat of the boy and had him answer the door. I couldn’t hear
everything but a fight broke out. The boy went down and I feared he was dead.
I’ve seen a lot in my years, but the characters that saved our lives that day
were a sight!”
Perrin went on to describe the defeat of the brigands and
the rescue of the survivors.
The following morning, the alarm was sounded at the northern
gate of the city. A group of refugees had arrived, exhausted and frightened.
As Perrin had his me fetch food and water for the survivors, they related the
horror of the attack. They also told Perrin of the adventures they met.
Swatternick had no choice. He immediately dispatched Perrin
and six squads to La Rose Noir with general orders to eliminate the threat,
secure the town, assist survivors and establish a temporary garrison until a
permanent presence could be established.
Perrin departed that afternoon, vowing to carry out his
orders quickly and return to stand by his leader.
The delicate silence just before daybreak was shattered by the
screams. The screaming drew a crowd to the mayor’s residence. A grisly sight
lay on the walkway to the porch. Many recognized Alexia’s favorite yellow
dress, torn to shreds lay in a pool of fresh blood. On the blood-stained
stones, twisted bone and gore presented a terrifying image. When word reached
Devry LeChar that his dear Alexia had been brutally murdered, all self control
left the man. “Bring Bago here now!” he demanded. “I must see him
By now everyone in Pearle deMagie had heard of the hideous
slaughter of Alexia, including Bago. He had no idea who killed her. Worried
about what this might mean to his business dealings, Bago made his way to the
“Bago, you bastard!” Devry spit, trying to reach the man
through the bars. “You said you wouldn’t harm her if I gave you the contracts!
I did and now you killed her? Why?” Tears streamed down Devry’s cheeks.
Bago didn’t know who killed her. The only reason he cared
at all was that he didn’t want to be implicated in any scheme now. He needed
Swatternick to honor those contracts. “I didn’t kill her! I was straight with
you. I said I wouldn’t harm Alexia if you signed the contracts and I didn’t.”
A strange smile crossed Devry’s lips. Bago was confused.
Swatternick walked into the room. “Thank you Mr. Bago for admitting your
extortion. Guards, open the cell. Let the mayor out and install Mr. Bago
Bago, realizing that he’d been set up, was furious. He
wheeled to Devry. “I’ll kill you LeChar! I’ll kill you and I’ll kill your
wife!” He lunged for Devry, wrapping his hands around the halfling’s throat.
Devry threw his hands up, breaking the larger man’s grip. Bago quickly
regained his balance and as he delivered a punch to Devry’s face, Devry drove
his knee into Bago’s groin and swung around clockwise, driving his left fist
into the Bago’s chin. By now the guards had jumped into the fray, shoving Bago
into the cell.
“Swatternick, this isn’t over!” He ranted. “I swear you’ll
all regret this!”
“Mr. LeChar” the governor asked “What’s the penalty for
attempted murder of a duly appointed representative of the King and threatening
a regional governor?
“Death by hanging, I believe.” Devry announced.
Bago was finally silent as the blood drained from his face
and the seriousness of his situation became clear.
Alexia was waiting outside the jail as her husband rushed
out to meet her. Word travels fast in a town like Pearle deMagie, and by the
time Alexia made the short trip from the residence to the jail, most of the
town learned of the charade and the crowd travelled with her. Upon seeing
Devry they erupted in applause for their favorite son had fought for them and
won. Lucas Schott and his brother were there.
“I can’t believe that worked” Lucas said, shaking his head
as he embraced his friend.
“It wouldn’t have worked without you!” Devry said “And we
must also thank Governor Swatternick for supporting the plan.”