Thursday, July 3, 2014

Crux: Urban Fantasy Campaign Seed (Part Seven S)


Sasazi Kohn, Factor of the Threaded Chamber
Clothing and clothing within Cascading Flowers Kingdom fall under the auspices of a single Guild Factor, Sasazi Kohn. Kohn himself came up from a large and notable family of pattern-makers. They had established their reputation through large-scale, exquisite and complicated patterns, in some cases making only a single bolt of cloth for special clients. Sasazi himself lacked certain skill necessary to follow in his family’s work. While he could see and appreciate the patterns, a certain degree of clumsiness with his hands prevented him from being able to maintain the control necessary. Instead, he looked to the business end of things, becoming close with the Guild members who dealt with his family and the other pattern-makers. Sasazi made his mark through a series of careful diplomatic moves during a crisis in which foreign imports of silk had by popular demand taken over the market. He spoke with the courtiers at Blossoming Pearl, pushed carefully cultivated specialty cottons, and moved the trend to those cloths and away from foreign silks. Even today, silk is seen as a cloth for accessories, snobs or the Dragon Blooded. Instead, the rich and varied cotton cloths of the land rose in popularity.

As a result, Sasazi earned a place as the head of the Threaded Chamber within Cascading Flowers. In this capacity, he oversees the weavers, seamstresses, dye-masters and patterners of the region. He takes his role seriously and to avoid certain accusations, he distanced himself from his family of patterners, a move which earned him some enmity from his relatives. This increased when Sasazi turned around a carefully acquired a number of noted seamstresses and tailors as his personal fold. Serving as patron for these artisans, he established the House of Ten Thousand Folds in the Lantern Courts district. A fabulous establishment, Sasazi has sunk a great deal of his wealth into the establishment to promote it as the center of fashion throughout the city and the region. Using his influence, he ensures that his company gains favored prices and goods from the other craftsmen under his watch. 

In recent times, however, this plan has not gone as well as hoped. Many nobles employ personal tailors, serving as their patrons in return for exclusivity. Sasazi’s influence at court has also declined due in part to his obvious grasping at power. His star tailor, Glimmering Stitch, recently left his service to serve under Hesaal Chain, leaving him Sasazi with unfilled contracts. Other merchants and even the other Factors in Crux have begun to court some of his artisans as well, forcing him to expend more money to keep them happy. Though rare, there may come an open contest between the nine Factors of the Guild Council in Crux. If so, Sasazi’s position might be in doubt. In particular, Cold Pather, who has friends within the weavers, might be set to try for Sasazi’s seat on the Council.

Seal of Faith River: Westward flowing branch of the Golden Floret River. (Place)

Sequester, Notable of Mud
On occasion, a situation arises from the depths of Crux, a representative arises from the Night Quarter to speak with the Magister. Various people live in the Night Quarter: those seeking to escape prosecution, desperate miners, broke adventurers, the homeless and the Night Tenders. These last take care of the machinery and musk that helps power the city: the turning of the Dusk Quarter, the great air bellows, the pumping of fresh water and the filtering of the wastes. In return, the Night Tenders receive a regular stipend, a steady portion of food, and gifts during the yearly post-Calibration ceremony. While they are essentially an untouchable caste, they stand above the other dregs who live in the down darkness. As such they keep to themselves, trading on occasion from the goods and bits they drag from the pumped wastes. In these cases, merchants usually negotiate in gestures, by common custom. It is said that while they are low, it does not behoove one to cross the Night Tenders.

Living in relative security next to the true dregs of the city can cause problems: thievery, murder, rape. In the case of such instances, Sequester comes to speak and request assistance. On the few times in the past when these matters were not handled with dispatch problems began to arise with the great water fonts and the septic systems of the Day Quarter. To handle such problems, the Magister either sends the Watch in or hire independent mercenaries to deal with the situations- depending on the complexity of the matter.

Sestain Fields-of-Holly
Sestain rarely comes to Crux, usually only for important meetings of the Council. Instead he spends his time in the far south, seeing to the various quarries near the mountains and hunting down rare stone. As the other representative of Artisans on the Council, Sestain clearly feels pressure. Most people find him eminently dislikable however as he rarely gives his respect or notice to anyone who does not practice a craft. Even his closest friend, Zanoc, is viewed with some suspicion, his skill perhaps drawn from supernatural sources rather than work or talent.

Sharl din-Sharl, City Administrator
Crux maintains a strange role within the Cascading Flowers Kingdom. It is certainly a part of it, yet at the same time it maintains a great deal of independence from the King. At times this has rankled relations, but the current king, Son of Wreaths, has never had a problem with it. He is known to prefer places and situations which handle themselves. This makes Sharl din-Sharl perhaps the perfect administrator of the city. While the office of the Magister of the City is hereditary one, the City Administrator is selected by the Magister. The office is a lifetime one, or until voluntary resignation. Sharl was chosen ten years ago in his mid-thirties, a man of sour temper even at that age. Time has not mellowed him. He keeps all of the offices of the city: taxation, guards, shipping, etc running smoothly but how is does this is unclear. Sharl enjoys his right to enter into any house, business or abode in the city for general inspection, something he does frequently. He often travels with the guards as they hunt down illegal operations. Because of this he is said to be one of the three people most informed of the index of small gods and spirits within Crux. However, Sharl is known for harsh and seemingly arbitrary decision making. A person who, having petitioned for a particular seller’s stall and been guaranteed it may return to find someone else setting up in his space. The trick however, to dealing with Sharl has slowly been learned by those who have had to deal with him over the years. Sharl enjoys parties and salons. Those who have managed to get him to attend one of their smallish events and have spoken with Sharl attentively and at length have found their later business dealings have gone smoothly. Some say that he needs to fix someone in his mind before he can deal reasonably with them.

Sharpened Thought, Sorcerous Savant
While all Aspects are welcome in the Heptagram, it is clear that those of Air have the most common natural aptitude for the arts of magic. On the other hand, it is commonly agreed that those of Fire have the most difficultly with the spells of the Terrestrial Circle. The truth of this remains uncertain, but popular belief bends it so. It may be that belief is fueled by the dangers that a particularly potent Fire Anima banner can pose not only to bystanders, but to their very homes. Thus powerful Sorcerers who come from Fire may suffer the taunts of their peers and be monitored closely. Such was the case of Sharpened Thought, originally Cathak Sharps, during his time in the Heptagram. Sharps came from a particularly minor branch of the family at a time when there existed political tension between family Cathak and the masters of the arts. Thought managed through this, exhibiting extraordinary skill, though in some cases to the dismay of his masters. He learned early on to follow the lessons on paper but to pay less attention to the cautions of his instructors. Still he graduated well and eventually found a position working with the development of Manses in the Realm.

The creation of a Manse is a delicate art, combining sophisticated geomancy, understanding of the elemental patterns, architecture and a mastery of sorcery. Each manse is unique, drawing power from a particular element and those who possess them often make extravagant demands on their builders. It was in this situation, with a particularly offensive Sessus client, that Thought made a grave error. The error itself is said to have been small, a minor miscalculation of a slight degree of a fraction in setting the center point of the manse- this after months of careful building, redirecting the flows and reshaping the landscape itself. But when that energy was released it shattered the manse itself, destroyed the pleasure dome the Sessus had asked for, killed scores of workers, disabled the demesne for years to come, and worst of all humiliated the client.

Thought, as so many manse architects who had erred (but perhaps not on so grand a scale), fled to the Threshold. He is said to have spent many years in the far West, using his talents, avoiding pursuit and developing his skills. Eventually he came to Crux when word reached him of the death of his pursuer. While he could not return to the Blessed Isle, he could establish himself here: crafting, researching, teaching spells to Dragon Blooded sorcerers in the Threshold and developing an order of mortals to whom he could teach the Arts and Sciences of Thaumatology. He found he enjoyed this role as guru and learned sage to the isolated community here. His group came to call themselves the Court of Long Thoughts and Sharpened Thought began to enjoy the play of accepting petitioners, forcing obedience, carrying out apparently capricious expulsions and all those things that came with his role.

However, within a few years, Oaksaint Vross arrived in Crux, an Outcaste Dragon Blooded of Air. He had been trained in the Threshold by various masters and had built a solid reputation for himself. Thought sent word to Oaksaint, inviting him to come and attend at his Court. The message came back with Thought’s pupil and servant badly beaten about the head and shoulders. A message came with the servant, expressing Vross’ intention to establish his fortunes here and force Thought back onto the road where he belonged. Needless to say, since that time, the two have been bitter rivals, sending agents against one another, sabotaging projects and stealing promising students. Each has a host of pupils and associates loyal to their cause. In Thought’s case, his followers look at him as a figure of wisdom and deep knowledge. In the case of Oaksaint, they see him as an independent and daring thinker. The personalities of the two men are, however, fairly close making the problem even deeper.

Sift: Town in Carta Mallus (Place)

Soldala Hush, Mistress of Messengers
While those with important and confidential business carry their communications through private channels, many simply need orders, messages and news carried from one place to another. Soldala specializes in arranging for that transport through her many contacts with riders, caravans and ship Captains. By paying a little bit more, she ensures that her packets are given first priority when their bearer arrives at the final destination. Soldala makes no claims for the security or privacy of the messages carried. Clients are welcome to seal or encode their messages or even place them in small scroll cases. In no case will she take a message that has been magically sealed or otherwise tampered with by magic. Soldala herself travels a few times a year on horseback to neighboring areas to renew contacts and make sure her associates remain pleased. Though only perhaps in her thirties, Soldala has done quite well for herself amassing significant wealth. Some say that this is perhaps a bit out of proportion to her actual business and suspect that she may also have side dealings to supplement her income.

Son of Wreaths, King of Cascading Flowers. (Person)

Song of Sorrows, Captain of Fate’s Talons
Younger appearing than even his youngish age of thirty-something, Song of Sorrows is said to have joined the Company in his tenth year. He is widely believed to be a Lunar Half-Caste, with strange arched features and a lithe grace that suggests strange blood in his veins. Unlike most Half-Caste of this type, his bestial nature seems to be submerged and no one would compare him to the degenerate Beastmen. Sorrows is among the youngest to command this company, having been given leadership during a failed assault in the service of Gem that left most of the command staff dead or horribly wounded by potent sorcery. He has commanded the company for less than three years, aided by Harken, an amputee veteran of the group and Chiasa Din, a former Guild Factor who handles the organization of the group. Personally, Sorrows is said to be implacably faithful and driven to give honor to local gods and spirits. In combat, he's reputed to be a deadly, raging foe, able to cut through ordinary warriors and skilled swordsmen alike. There is some rumor that Sorrows desires to expand the Talons, to give them a greater role in the time of crisis looming over the Threshold. Whether he will make himself beholden to outside groups to achieve this end is uncertain.

Stonespoke: Center district of Dusk (Place)

Syndic Weld
One of the two highest Tax officials in the Cascading Flowers Kingdoms. A patrician, he looks to the interests of the satrapy and has the advantage of receiving his money from the top levels of this.