Massacre in Margrave's Port

EVENTS NEWS #53
Date: 4/17/2014 at 2:21
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Massacre in Margrave's Port

Faint streaks of gray pierced the night sky as Vanessa slipped into Margrave's Port. In the hour just before dawn, the usually bustling port was quiet, at least this far from the docks. Vanessa crossed the street to avoid the glow coming from the window of a smithy, then moved down an alleyway to escape the attention of a guard snoozing at his post. While the chances of waking the guard were nearly nonexistent, caution was best.

Things had gone poorly. Not for the first time, Vanessa cursed Emmet for a fool. She had wanted to oversee the operation personally, from the beginning, but he had insisted that she stay close to him, and only move to Krondor to supervise the final assault. The louts he had sent to settle in and watch their prey had given away their presence, in spite of their confidence; their attack had been anticipated.

Vanessa felt equal parts amusement and disgust. When the ambush had sprung, she had tossed bombs in after her own men, to ensure their silence. The move had had the desirable effect of piquing the Prince's attention; he was not the sort to sit idly by while explosions ripped through his sewers. Still, it had been nothing more than an inconvenience for the Mockers, bought at the cost of most of Emmet's fighting men. Vanessa herself had barely slipped out of the city without being caught. Emmet would not be able to expand into Krondor after all, and the Quegan merchant Emmet had convinced to come negotiate a trade alliance would be displeased, perhaps displeased enough to renege entirely on whatever arrangements they had made under the assumption that Emmet would control the new Upright Man in Krondor.

Vanessa sighed. Emmet had been a fool, but the plan could have - should have! - worked. And if it had, she would have been running the underground of Krondor: first as his deputy, but in her own right once her power was secure enough to equalize their partnership.

As she neared Emmet's estate, Vanessa threw back her hood and walked with purpose. Blending with the crowd of sailors and customs officials preparing for the early tide, she idly considered her future. Emmet's grand ambitions were stifled, and his enemies were likely hunting him - not to mention Vanessa herself. Leaving seemed wise, but to where would she go?

Vanessa began weighing the possibilities, then stopped short as she came into view of the gated entrance to Emmet's estate. Luxurious and built to impress Emmet's wealthy contacts, it overlooked the Bitter Sea and much of Margrave Port's docks from a bluff hard up against the beach. But for the first time since Emmet took control of the estate, the gated entrance was without a guard.

Vanessa forced herself to calm as she mentally reviewed her trip through the town. She was confident she had not been followed, but enemies may lie ahead. She continued past the entrance, then vaulted the fence near the edge of the property. Taking advantage of the shadows provided by the pre-dawn darkness, she quietly advanced upon the estate and slipped in through a rear window.

Dagger in hand, Vanessa quietly moved through the estate. The halls were silent, but that was not surprising. Neither was Vanessa surprised as she came upon Jeeves, the butler, writing in a ledger at his desk near the grand entrance. Jeeves was an uptight sort who prided himself in being the first of the staff to wake every day.

"Good morning, Jeeves." The butler jumped in his seat; he had not detected Vanessa's approach. He turned his head to look at her, and in that instant Vanessa - always good at reading expressions - saw shock and fear play across his features. Vanessa realized with a start that Emmet was dead - and Jeeves had assumed or been told that she was dead, as well.

The butler opened his mouth to speak, then tumbled backward out of his chair as Vanessa's dagger entered his mouth and pierced the back of his throat. He lay still, his eyes open and sightless, as Vanessa crossed the distance between them and retrieved her dagger. Her mind racing, Vanessa quickly decided that any other servants in the estate must die as well, but not before one or more told her what had brought about their betrayal.

Sniffing softly, Vanessa detected the scent of the smoke wafting from the fireplace in the nearby lounge. Glancing around at the fine furniture and attractive curtains, Vanessa decided that the estate must go. She had no use for it now, and as certain as the fact that the sun was now rising, Emmet's gang was shattered. Better to see the estate burnt to the ground than in the hands of whoever had done this.

Turning toward the servants' quarters, Vanessa gritted her teeth. The path ahead was a dangerous one, whatever she chose...

-----

The madam gritted her teeth and shook her head as the group departed out into the streets of Margrave's Port. Something had happened to her previous employers, that was clear: the anonymous payments for her work as the manager of the Painted Pirate had stopped. The massive fire near the docks probably had something to do with it, but the madam made a point of not connecting any dots. People in this town died with alarming frequency, and after a long life laying on her back for sailors fresh from the sea, she was determined to stay alive long enough to enjoy sitting behind a desk for a change.

The men who had spoken with her had said that they had "purchased" the brothel. It made little difference to her how they had come to be in charge; they had done a suitable job of terrifying her into believing that they were in fact running the brothel now - with or without her. Fortunately, they had increased her pay, given her permission to pay the girls better, and allowed her to replenish the staff. The previous owners had been wary of strangers, but there were few girls left, after a rash of murders and disappearances over the last few nights.

Sighing once more and rising from her desk, the madam decided it was time to officially open the brothel for the evening's business.


Penned by my hand on the 21st of Wochem, in the year 59.