Curse of the Crimson Throne

Fifth Recollection

Spiders and Eels, Dragons and Knives

Did I ever tell you about time I met Devargo Barvasi? Rather an unpleasant fellow, but then again, unpleasant fellows are often the most interesting. There’s inevitably something wrong with their insides. This one thought he was a king. Well, King of Spiders at least.

It started off like any other day. I was minding my own business, conducting research on the kitchen table, when Sav came bursting in with news that Field Marshall Kroft was looking for us. We had done some work for her before, you may remember, and it seemed she was looking to keep us on her retainer as semi-unofficial problem fixers. The prospect of a little excitement and a nice payout thrilled me more than I cared to admit. I had been hard at work with my little chemist business, trading my goods for more favors and promises than gold, so the thought of some real coinage in my pocket was most welcome.

Alas, Kroft had only favors to ask as well. She and a noble, one Vencarlo Orisini, were concerned over—oh, I take it you’ve heard of Orsini? So had Sav, who began fawning over the man before he could even get a word out. He seemed pleasant enough, a swordsman with flair and a preference for nimbleness over brute strength—qualities I can appreciate in a fighter. I came to appreciate his magnanimity and the depth of pockets more.

He and Kroft were concerned over another noble, Darvayne Gios Amprei, who was the usual sort of Chellish bastard. Had a plot to drive the city’s economy into ruin and buy up all his favorite parcels of property for himself, unless we could find evidence to render him illegitimate. As the usual sort of Chellish bastard, Amprei had a long list of vices which he usually satisfied at Eel’s End, a moldy little wharf on the wrong side of North Point where several ships moored together formed a den of sin. I had seen it from the shore before. That place sometimes proved an end for more than just eels, and the narrow, nasty, undisturbed beaches in the vicinity yielded a wonderful variety of specimens ripe for collection.

We were tasked with infiltrating the vice house and bargaining with the self appointed ruler, the King of Spiders, for evidence on Amprei’s misdeeds. She gave us a bag of gold, promising the leftovers of whatever Devargo didn’t take—hah—and sent us on our way. Fortunately, Lord Orsini was better prepared to motivate us and, after leaving the Citadel, he payed us a hefty sum from his own coin purse. Coincidentally, it was then that I decided I truly liked the man.

After loitering about the casinos, taverns, and drug dens of the End, we finally decided to knock on the front door. The two guardsmen allowed us entrance when they realized we meant business, though Sav and Shakro had their arms predictably confiscated. Why they insist on such bulky, attention-drawing weapons is beyond me. Inside Devargo’s throne room, which turned out to be little more than the main cabin of a moldering ship populated with lick-spittle lackeys and festooned with webs, we met the King of Spiders himself. A tall, sallow man, he was predictably megalomaniacal and bloodthirstly, though I’ll give him that he really knew how to stick with a theme. Spiders on his throne, spiders on his armor, spiders on him. Beside him he kept a pet pseudodragon in a cage. Poor thing looked like it would rather be trapped in an imp’s nest.

Sav did the talking and promptly gave up all of the bargaining money. Devargo of course agreed to the arrangement on the condition that he got a little entertainment in the form of a Knivesies game between Shakro and his personal champion. It was almost boring watching Shakro predictably beat the other orc bloody, up until the pseudodragon began whispering to me. While everyone else was distracted, the dragon me begged to be released. Yes, yes, I know pseudodragons can’t talk, but it seemed nobody had informed this one about it. The lock on the cage was far to complex for me to pick without the proper tools and no key was in sight, so after Shakro had his fun I propositioned Devargo for a higher stakes game with the dragon on the line. Alas, I am no negotiator, and I got nothing out of the King of Spiders but suspicious looks. As we left Eels End with the bought and earned evidence in hand, I gave one last look back to the pitiful prisoner and made a vow. It’s not everyday one gets to study a dragon, after all. Even a small one.

The others were skeptical of me, though they agreed to lend their aid. I was still getting used to having others who would take my word for what it was. The Field Marshall was most pleased with our work, though she seemed almost disappointed that the King of Spiders was still living. It was like she was expecting the whole endeavor to devolve into a bloodbath! Rude, I say. I’d like to think that the work we that day made her realize our capacity for more—delicate—operations in the future. I made arrangements to appear as a witness for the Lamm trial, then we went off with Orsini to chat the finer points of swordplay. Though he preferred the large blade of a rapier his words on the importance of swiftness and precision in each strike, how not a step or a swing of the arm must be wasted, stuck with me even to this day, and I consider myself a better fighter for even the briefest of lessons under that master swordsman.


Shimon Shimon