Farrin Innesmead (AKA Zhevran Highcollar)
Up by Another’s Bootstraps:
The Farrin Innesmead Story So Far
The center of the paths that passed for roads through the Bottoms of Tinsport had a trench dug in them, for the piss. Everyone brought it out every day and dumped it, and it flowed through the Bottoms to the sea. Farrin’s Ma was a short, broad woman not to be crossed. She made sure Farrin had to take out his and his convalescent neighbors’ buckets every morning. They sent the sick to the Bottoms, better to be done with them. “Remember the rules, Farrin, whats them rules?
“Don’t play by another man’s rules.”
“Tha’s right, boy. Go get us some supper, now.”
Farrin started out pocketing odd pieces of fruit, stale bread, fish from the unwatched corners of stalls. A great many beatings, switched hands, and close chases later, he decided to see how other folk got their dinner. The other boys who were sent to the fisherman’s wharf to get dinner didn’t all look like Farrin, and they got theirs in other ways. Most paid with gold, which Farrin and Ma didn’t have, but the few didn’t pay at all. They simply were given what they asked for, and usually more. Farrin noted the differences between them. They came from the Palisades, up on the hill. No helping that. They had fat purses of gold. No helping that. They were haughty, mean, they dressed in ridiculous finery. They were clean. Those were differences that could be helped. Farrin cut the purse off one’s belt and stashed it in the trench down the middle of the road. A well placed loaf of bread and the attention of an awful market stall master, and the boy was in hysterics, clearly he’d never been caught doing such a thing before, and he didn’t even think to deny it. He ran, and Farrin helped him right into an alley and his staff. He had learned to be good with a staff. It taught manners and saved bacon, he always knew where it was. It also relieved Palisades kids of their finery. Ma and Farrin ate very well soon after.
“What work’s to be done, Farrin?”
“None if it ain’t ours.”
Farrin worked his way up, first out of hunger, then out of sheer curiosity. The courts, balls, guild meetings, tavern fights, all of it fascinated him in an exasperating way. So many people, caring about so little, but he joined them anyway. He was known by many names. Gad Nortrup, Allis the Courier, Bereen. He was even known as the Duke of Ellington. Farrin thought that was funny, but he couldn’t figure out why, but others loved him. He spoke the language--flattery, balk, braggadocio, banter, flattery, gossip, flattery. Easy, and fun. Eventually he found his way into the royal soldiery. No fighting, of course. He weaved his way through multiple functions, whichever suited the moment, finding himself as often with the officers at dances, brothels, and card games as he found himself with the footmen at dances, brothels, and card games. It took him around the country, kept him busy. He sent his wages to Ma through every urchin he could hire, letting them all peel a silver off the pile as it made its way home. He was reasonably sure some made it home.
Soon enough he’d passed into adulthood, and a mote of responsibility that he partly earned himself lay on his shoulders. He coordinated quartermasters with supply lines, which, in his own unique situation, meant he wrote a large amount of letters to himself. No one could wrap their heads around how he kept in such great contact so quickly with his various suppliers, road wardens, etc. It was cozy, and little actual work was involved. It led him to an officers’ ball a few months ago.
After exhausting all the interesting and useful conversation in the room, Farrin retired to a separated dark room sparse with tall tables big enough for two. He’d been there before, and it was meant for couples to take a little conversation away from the rabble. It was never used. He stood with the dregs of a glass of acceptable wine, planning his next day.
He turned slowly, not giving away his terror at being called by his real name, and saw a woman standing in the archway. He’d not seen her before, he would have remembered. She never spoke his name again, and he tried desperately to remember every detail of her, just in case he might never see her again. The porters eventually asked them to leave, in the typical way of overly polite small talk that porters have. She didn’t want to end his company. He obliged. They walked, drank, danced, retired He promised her things she asked for, and he could not repeat them under oath, even if he would. In the morning, She was gone, and Farrin never got her name.
Over the next several days, Farrin could feel his attention being pulled to things he’d never usually give a second glance to. A caravan hauling barley and whiskey had a tear of paper stuck to the bottom of a barrel. It would have never been turned over, but he needed, somehow, to see it. He read it, a language he couldn’t even describe accurately as one, and it vanished. In dreams he would pour over old manuscripts in ancient libraries floating on seas of burning water, and he would learn things, and he would remember them upon waking. In the woods around camp, he found a deer drinking from a pool, looking up curiously across the water at him. He shot it down with a bolt of energy from his hand, and was terrified. He was suddenly filled with the essence of the thing he just murdered for no reason, and despite himself, it felt good.
He knew of people that made pacts with things from the other worlds, and he knew that they were insane. He wasn’t one of them, he didn’t even know her name. What had he promised? Survival in a slum grants certain benefits, and first among them is clear thinking under threat. He couldn’t be the only warlock for a hundred miles, he’d die in a fortnight by hanging, if it took that long. Warlock? Was that really what he was now? The only place he knew of that had more than any Warlocks was the City Above and Below, Moonthrone, a place he’d rather not go. But a tree standing alone in a field eventually gets cut for firewood, better to be one amongst many. His only protection had always been to blend in, it was what he was good at.
Situations always seem to find ways of complicating themselves, though. To enter Moonthrone as a warlock, you need lots of pesky information, like your Patron’s name. Some they won’t let in. Some, they say, are killed on sight, or worse. Under his newfound strategem of staying low, Farrin quickly found himself embroiled in a much greater game than he’d ever enter willingly. It was someone else’s game, with their own rules.
Farrin sleeps fitfully in Moonthrone, with dreams where the Woman seems to be constantly walking out of his vision. He wakes with a name on his lips. Mok’ram.
Lifted from prior facebook communications to keep track of stuff
After the events of the Heartspire Event
Farrin Innesmead, armed with a map, a list of names, a diary, and a dangerous ring on a rotting hand that would surely help him and his fellow adventurers get to the bottom of the cult that brought the tentacle maw to the city, knows exactly what he needs to do. He ignores them and their clues entirely, instead focusing on much more pressing matters.
In order to safeguard his identity as a warlock, he begins using his charlatan nature to create a second identity that would allow him to operate safely within Moonthrone. Something subtle would probably be best, something beneath the notice of the meanest guard. Instead, he begins carousing and acting as Zhevran Highcollar, a garrulous fop of a wizard and a high end clothier, hailing from the land of high fashion to bring enlightenment to the poorly dressed masses. He uses the fine merchant clothes and jewelry pilfered from his adventuring to look the part, and sets out attempting to find magic user registration documents to forge, and easily manipulated guards and bureaucrats that might help him cement his second identity. In the meantime, he seeks out gossipy members of high society and sets out demeaning all of their rivals’ fashion choices, attempting to make allies through exclusion and flattery. If he can, he'll drop a few names on his list, and see where the known cult members stand in the ranks of Moonthrone’s society.
He reluctantly comes clean about his identity and his plans to his adventuring comrades.
He has 14 downtime days to spend on these activities. He is proficient in deception, disguise kit, and forgery kit.
You find a few leads on licensed magic users. There is a clothier who operates a shop in the Bazaar Quarter, Thalomious Almsmartyr, who has a reputation as a high-end artificer and transmuter. He is rumored to actually transmute regular cloth into cloth of gold and silver, and do decent trade to the Nobility above, as well as to the Merchant Lords of Midspire. His shop is actually in Midspire (among terraced walkways built along the spires, so the nobility don’t have to stoop so low as to mix with the City Below), but he also leases a location on ground level directly underneath his shop to a more mundane tailor who cashes in on the association with the shop above. Supposedly the two shops are connected through a back room staircase, or possibly a pulley system, so Thalomious can send or receive shipments from ground level. You find out about some wealthy and fashionable Merchant Lords and Nobility by hanging around his shop long enough, and that he likely keeps his license somewhere in a desk in his back office, but after 3 days of being out and about as Zhevran, word gets to Thalomious and you find you are promptly turned away at the door (as Zhevran; presumably you could get in under another disguise, but a fancy dressed one). Apparently Thalomious does not like competition, and those fashions you were disparaging were largely his.
There are plenty of alchemists in the Bazaar Quarter who have arcane documentation. You can find shops selling potions of various kinds and quality, with the quality tending to rise with the elevation of the shop. You can also find a few knick knack and novelty sellers who may have documentation, though the cheapest of them are clearly lying about the magical nature of their goods, and some of the better ones may be relying on rudimentary clockwork or other technology and trying to pass them off as magic. Most shops claiming to sell magical goods have licenses framed and on display in shop windows or above stalls, so you can get an idea of what a license looks like. You can tell the licensing for shops is a little different than an individual magic-user’s license, but presumably each craftsman should have his own personal papers if he is fact a magic-user.
You also hear of some possibly wizard-types operating out of the Hospitality Quarter. One brothel in particular, the Spectral Oyster, is said to use licensed enchanters and even sorcerers to provide one-of-a-kind experiences.
With 5 downtime days of carousing and gossiping you get the above info, and are beginning to get Zhevran’s name out there. With 2 more days of searching for sketchy administrators, you hear of a city inspector (a dogman) who has been known to frequent the aforementioned Spectral Oyster. Supposedly he gets his palms greased to help them keep their licensing going, as it is a little more involved keeping a license for a sorcerer up to date. You don’t get the sense that they’re hiding warlocks per se, but as sorcerous powers often come from exposure to otherworldly forces, sorcerers have to have inspections every three months to make sure they haven’t become corrupted or been contacted by extra-planar entities, and this guard supposedly helps those go smoothly.