Trouble in Elbeyn

I’m toying with the idea of the presenting as much as possible of the game setting in the form of short fiction, in which a lot of the game background is implied rather than stated explicitly in dry info-dumps.

This one actually doubles up as both setting flavour and adventure seed, which is precisely the sort of thing I’m aiming for.

Dartheyn d’n Eruinar was not having a good day.

Heading the Administration Division of the Academy of Knowledge in the city of Elbeyn was never going to be one of Kalyr’s easiest jobs, he reflected. Endless meetings with his opposite numbers in the city’s other guilds was no way to spend a morning. And today it was nothing but nit-picking discussions about contracts and services rendered and payments by people who liked the sounds of their own voices but didn’t really have a clue what they were talking about. Life would be easier if all other guilds were as meritocratic as his, rather than using the senior ranks as dumping grounds for the idiot sons and daughters of the noble clans. Who always thought their noble rank made them superior to him, when everybody knows how much they depended on competent freemen below them to get anything done.

And with the glorious ruler of the city absent most of the time, too busy playing games of intrigue in the imperial court in the capital, this shower of idiots effectively formed the government of the city. We don’t stand a chance, he thought. One day, the humans from the wilds will take over, just as in the apocalyptic predictions of the Guardianspeaker of Kardak the Defender. And what’s more, we kandar will deserve it, for being so hopeless. Either that, or the brutally disciplined kandar legions of the Koniac Empire will just roll over us like a man stepping on an ant.

He is not sure which fate is worse. Dead or enslaved is dead or enslaved, regardless of whether it’s by the hand of humans, or fellow kandar.

His communicator pings, snapping him out of such morbid thoughts. Through the device he hears the disembodied voice of the chief of the Security Division, Usalu Blerynthar. Yes, she’s a noble, from that notoriously feuding and murderous clan, but she’s more than competent at the job. Simply surviving growing up in that clan gives the skills to make a good security operative, and by The Guardians, she’s good.

“Bad news, Dartheyn”, she says.

“What’s the problem”, he asks. The tone of her voice was enough to tell him an already bad day was just about to get worse.

“We’ve found Vargeyn”, she says, “The bad news is that he’s very very dead. Guild of Construction work gang found the body this morning, in the storm drain, clearing the blockages after yesterday’s rain.

“Guardians!”, he said, “How did he die?”

“Stab wounds, it appears”, she replies, “Think we need backup from the Academy of the Mind here – some psychometry on the body and the scene is going to help”.

“That will be done”, he says, “The mind-benders owe us enough favours. Contact them right now, and tell them we need one of their best”.

He silently curses to himself. Vargeyn was one of his best auditors. He’d been working on irregularities with the usage agreements for equipment supplied to the Academy of Life, who had been getting more evasive and more slippery with each passing moment. He was convinced those power generators and refrigeration units were not being used for the purposes that had been stipulated in the many pages of agreements the Academy of Life had signed. Vargeyn turning up dead like that seemed to much of a coincidence.

Somebody is going to pay for this.

Those of you who have read this far, what does this tell you of the world? Does it make you want to know more?

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2 Responses to Trouble in Elbeyn

  1. Sean says:

    I really like this passage, many good things from the fact that you talk about one guild being meritocratic and others not. I would choose a different word in the last paragraph for moment. It works, but I think from the context the narrator/writer is talking of the irregularities over a longer period. Each passing hour, each passing day, what ever suits what you want to say. Nice one.

  2. TimHall says:

    You’re probably right, but it is a first draft – only wrote it this afternoon.

    Thinking of changing the murder weapon from a blade to some kind of beam weapon.

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