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Malintzin

The City of Thieves - Building Vinosea

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___Site 005

Tier’s Day, Month of the Heron, Year of the Raven

 

There was a peculiar interest from a peculiar crowd when it came to Vinosea’s construction. Many had come from Alethea proclaiming to be the S’jeena, the Shadow Regent; the true ruler of the Beast People deep in the bowels of Alethea. There were always rumors floating around that Raveena knew the criminal mastermind—who carefully controlled the underworld.

Still, with proclamations of being the Shadow Regent came supplies. Offerings and tidings of assisting with building Vinosea in exchange for letting them live and stay. At first, many were turned away—dismissed as troublemakers. But for every one that went, two more came. Again and again they came in waves, until Raveena began to believe this was no longer a coincidence. The Shadow Regent was moving and having an ally that close couldn’t be overlooked.

Mercenaries came in droves. They spoke about alleviating the task force at hand. It was a well-planned invasion, Raveena thought—for lack of better words. The Regent was proclaiming Vinosea and their own. It was not a time to push back. She knew the disaster that would come with it. Instead, it was time to watch and wait and see. They were a symbiosis—one that managed to survive this long.

Over the weeks, more and more crews of mercenaries came, all bearing the same black flame that belonged to the Shadow Regent. All paid and prepared to work. It was as though the Queen were given a small army or workers that she hadn’t even paid. There had been a delay in some of the equipment to arrive and so Raveena did the only foolish thing she could think of—stalled for time by touring the site with Kirena.

The Imperatrix would engage groups with tells of her time in Slaver’s Enclave, of her fateful meeting with the goddess Jamy and the Lord Father Sauriel. They adored her because of her beauty and her natural talent as a courtesan to entertain. Raveena felt disconnected at first. Many reproached her, but it was the man who mockingly bowed and greeted her that stopped her.

“What’s your name?” She asked him

“I’m Gylan, Your Grace.” He grinned as he spoke, eyeing her wolfishly.

“Do you like to wager, Gylan?” Raveena crossed her arms and sized him up. He equally sized the petite ruler, “When it seems fair. Are you looking to lose? Not that you have anything to lose but your pretty little dignity.” The earned several chuckles from the group of men around them.

“A table and chairs. I want to arm wrestle you.” Raveena began to roll up the sleeve of a gown. When no one moved, she eyed the closest man to her, “Well go on then!” Reluctantly two ran off and returned with a table and chairs.

“I wouldn’t want to be responsible for hurting you, Milady.” Gylan again with his charm and his smiles. “Sit,” The Queen instructed, and he did.

“Surely you have a husband, err—a King, an Emperor that would--.”

“My husband is deathly afraid of pissing me off,” Such course language stunned them. Some of then guffawed in approval. “My husband before him was a mercenary. Your hand, Master Gylan.” Elbows at the ready, The two locked stares. Another man gave a signal.

Raveena effortlessly overpowered him.

Gylan blushed sheepishly as he was laughed at. “Alright alright. Again.”

She beat him four more times.

By now they had drawn closer to the two, many of them cheering for the young Queen. Raveena smirked, a slender brow arched when she extended a hand in peace. Gylan reluctantly shook it, exhaling with some measure of exasperation, “You are unlike any royal I’ve ever met.” He clapped her on the shoulder with some manner of comradery. Raveena smiled sweetly, “I was a bodyguard once. I eventually landed in law enforcement. And then I met this man…”

She spent the early morning regaling them with tales of Andrew Clark, their wild adventures together in Sigil City. Some of them cried. Some of them hung on her ever word. What a remarkable life this noble little lady led! They had misjudged her indeed. She had neared the end when the first trucks of equipment arrived, and the workers scattered to get to work.

Kirena rejoined Raveena and the two linked arms, “Making friends with the locals?” The courtesan inquired slyly. Raveena looked back at the construction site and shrugged, “I should like to see what becomes of Vinosea. Come on, we’re on admin duty.”

The two left the main site as construction began.

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___Site 005

Friar’s Day, Month of the Goshawk, Year of the Raven

 

Vinosea was a strange place. A place that seemed to writhe and live despite knowing you had very little to do with it.

It had become a monster all on its own. They had worshiped the gods, and so the gods came. But two in particular, and that was all Vinosea needed. Temples of pleasure and brotherhoods of blood were made in their honor. Entire districts were built for the sole precipice of hedonism. To have a deity's blessing was to have power. There were no familial ties to many in Vinosea. Vinosea had become a place of illicit dealings and business. Prostitution would be the lifeblood on the city, among other seedy plans.

Brothels were quickly, shoddily built to appease travelers that came through needing a break from a weary night. By nightfall, the shadows moved and business rivals struck one another to keep the other from succeeding. Safe houses began to crop up over the weeks, stocked full with a dead man's trove of wealth. Vinosea's reputation seemed to blossom within the month. By day, its workers watched their backs. By night, they were slaved to hedoism and checked loyalty.

Vinosea's outer city was stone streets, crude stone buildings and sweeping roofs. The inner city was excess; all color and grand architecture to please the eye, the wallet, the living and the dead. Still, they worked and chipped away, fleshing their town and lauding it as being in the name of the Empress. She was always watching, and they made no show to hide who they were, who they really served. Still, when the Empress would pass through for inspection, that were uncharacteristically on their best behavior.

Raveena hated them, and Vinosea.

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