Abul al Andalus is angry.
Two weeks ago, everything was on track. After having fled from Castille five years ago due to the threat of the Inquisition, Abul found himself in the Highland Marches, where he quickly discovered that the climate and local flora provided the perfect combination of circumstances to allow him to develop a unique variation on Inish whiskey. He partnered with a local businessman named Ian MacHeath, and for the last five years, they worked closely together to create something entirely new: Scotch whiskey. All of that changed two weeks ago when the first batch was mature enough to taste, and The Mist of the Moor was declared a success.
The very next day Abul found himself locked out of the distillery, his notes and documentation gone, and MacHeath refused to answer any questions, telling him only that his services would no longer be required. MacHeath paid him a small amount of coin, apparently per the terms of the contract they’d signed five years previously. Abul examined the contract, and discovered that instead of defining an equal partnership as he’d believed, he was instead listed as a consultant, and only entitled to a small one-time payment for “services rendered.”
Abul went straight round to the local solicitor, Rupert Callister, who looked over the paperwork, and told him there was nothing to be done, as Abul had apparently signed the contract without reading the fine print. Abul immediately set about getting a second opinion. And a third, and a fourth, and a fifth. Finally, he’d found his way to the offices of Sir John Jacob Barret, the finest legal mind in all of Avalon, who told him that yes, he could take the case, and there was a possibility they could win. But it was a VERY slim one, and the entire affair would more than likely be so expensive as not be worth the time and energy.
Abul made his way to Vendel, to make one last appeal to the proprietors of the Odynsee Package Company, who was named in the contract as the primary investor and had exclusive shipping rights to the product. The reception he received there was as cold as the one from MacHeath.
Thus having exhausted all legal avenues of redress, Abul finds himself contemplating illegal ones. He heads down to the docks, and into the first pub he finds with the intent of asking around about pirates. And that’s when he sees the girl from the Odynsee offices, sitting at a table in the back corner…
Signe Tollefsdotr is angry.
Two weeks ago, everything was on track. She was set to graduate from the Vendel Naval Academy in six months, at which time she would assume a prominent management position in her parents’ company, the Odynsee Package Company. They had even shown her a glimpse of her graduation present: a fluyt of her own, to command or manage as she saw fit.
Then she came home for spring vacation, and one afternoon while helping out with the company books she noticed some discrepancies. She did some further digging, and discovered that the company was accepting an incredible amount of capital from outside investors. Further, she realized that the investments were structured in such a way that earlier investors were being paid not with legitimate profits from the company, but directly from contributions made by newer investors.
[And thus, Theah’s very first Ponzi scheme was born.]
Signe knew that her mother had the necessary knowledge of mathematics and finance to devise such a scheme, and that her father had the necessary salesmanship to ensure a steady influx of new investors to support it, as well as the ability to convince the existing investors to reinvest their dividends rather than accept the originally agreed-upon payouts. Furthermore, she found herself forced to admit that both of them possessed the necessary lack of moral character to enact such a scheme without reservations.
After some quick calculations, she realized that if the scheme was allowed to continue long enough, it had the potential to bankrupt the economies of every nation in Theah. Furthermore, when it eventually collapsed, all her parents had to do was leave town with all their earnings before the investors came demanding their shares.
Signe knew she couldn’t confront her parents about the scheme directly. At best, they would use their considerable influence to render her powerless; at worst, they might consider her a threat. Instead, she attempted to bring it to the attention of someone outside, someone who wasn’t connected to the family or the company.
Her first stop was the local Vaticine Church. Signe came from a long line of traditionalists, and even if her parents only gave lip service to the Old Gods, they had nothing to do with the Vaticines. She approached Father Anders Hoyer and attempted to explain the danger that the scheme represented, but the priest had no head for figures and could not make head nor tail of her explanation.
She went next to someone who would understand. Returning early to the university, she approached Olindo Filosa, Professor of Economics. However, it became clear while he certainly understood the principles of the scheme she outlined, he either mistakenly or deliberately underestimated the potential danger. From his polite dismissal of her concerns, it became clear to Signe that he either thought too highly of her parents to believe them capable of such a plot, or was too frightened of them to admit it was possible. Either way, another dead end.
It was then that she began to hatch a plot of her own. If the scheme relied on new investors, she would directly attacked investor confidence in the company, and cause the scheme to collapse sooner rather than later. After all, there was a ship waiting for her, all she needed was a crew.
To that end, Signe finds herself in a pub on the docks in Vendel. She has just run into Eric and Christof, a couple of her former classmates that happened to be in town visiting their mothers’ families. She has attempted to explain the problem, and while they don’t understand the particulars, they believe her when she says it’s a dire threat to all of Theah, and they stand ready to assist in whatever capacity they can.
They’re discussing their next move when a curious gentleman enters the pub. Signe recognizes him from earlier in the day at her parents’ offices. He complained loudly about having been cheated, and was forcibly ejected from the premises with threats of calling the bailiffs if he did not desist. He moves directly to the bar, but Christof notices a look of recognition on the man’s face when he sees Signe, and he moves to intercept…
Abul decides to avoid the girl from the Odynsee offices and heads toward the bar instead. He asks the bartender where he can find some pirates, and is told that there are only honest sailors and merchants to be found here, and that asking about pirates is a dangerous business. The larger of the two men from the back table approaches the bar and gruffly invites Abul to sit with them. His tone makes it clear that he’s not asking. Abul reluctantly accompanies him to the back corner.
Christof comes back with the gentleman, who still looks angry, but at least is being quiet now. Introductions are made, and Signe asks about the business in the office. Abul reluctantly explains his situation, and Signe says it sounds like he signed a contract that he didn’t properly examine first.
As a test of his intelligence, Signe presents her notes on her parents’ scheme to Abul, and asks him what he makes of it. He goes over the numbers, and is not only able understand it, but also convince her that he understands, and he comes to the same conclusions she did about the implications of the scheme.
In return, he presents her with his copy of the contract he signed with MacHeath. She examines it, and upon holding it up to the light, discovers that a section of it was indeed altered at some point, though it’s impossible to tell whether it was before or after Abul signed it.
Signe and Abul concur that their interests align, and Abul agrees to sign on with Signe’s plan to hurt Odynsee’s business interests, as long as it provides him an opportunity to retrieve the first shipment of his whiskey, which is ready to be picked up by one of Odynsee’s ships.
Eric and Christof simultaneously suggest they pick up their friend Enzo, however there’s one slight problem…
Enzo De Santo is angry.
Two weeks ago, everything was on track. After graduating from the Vendel Naval Academy with his friends Erc and Christof last year, he found himself working for one of Vodacce’s Merchant Princes on a ship called Il Passero (The Sparrow), under the command of a Captain Edmondo Santulli. Over the next few months, he’d managed to develop something of a side business skimming some of each voyage’s cargo, and he always made sure the captain received a fair cut of the profits. Everything was going fine until the ship took on new crew at the last port. Among the new recruits was a shifty fellow named Gustavo Zarella, who worked quickly to insinuate himself into the captain’s inner circle. Before Enzo knew it, he’d been ousted from the very scheme he’d initiated.
Shortly after their arrival at the dock in Vendel, Enzo was carrying a crate down the gangplank when he found himself confronted by half a dozen of the city watch. None of the rest of the crew was to be seen, except for the captain up on deck, slowly turning away…
The sergeant informed Enzo that he was wanted for questioning regarding some contraband that was to be found in the ship’s hold, and advised him to come quietly. Enzo assumed this was a shakedown, and attempted to ask what tariffs he owed. However, with his poor grasp of the Vesten language, he ended up explicitly offering the sergeant a bribe, and the bailiffs moved in to take him by force. Enzo gave as good as he got, but in the end they hauled him in to the station house and threw him into the holding cell to await trial.
Eric explains that he has heard that Enzo was arrested earlier in the day, and is being held at a nearby station house. Signe leads the rest of the group there, and she inquires after Enzo. She throws her family’s name around, and it has the desired effect. With a properly worded offer of a charitable contribution to the City Watch’s Widows & Orphans Fund, the sergeant concedes it was all likely just an unfortunate misunderstanding. Enzo is released to Signe’s custody with the promise that he will behave himself from now on.
The group retires to a local hotel and rents a suite, where Enzo’s scrapes and bruises are tended to, and he is brought up to speed on current events. He readily agrees to sign on with Signe’s crew, and they all get some much needed rest.# NotPirates