Chapter 2 - Family Business

Note: This installment was written by the player of Saris.

Duxsil’s teleport spell went off in a flash and Saris, Viselys, and Duxsil immediately found themselves on the teeming noisy streets of Sasserine. The three adventurers agreed to go their separate ways, each on his own errand, and to meet back at a designated spot the following morning.

Saris wandered the streets of the Merchant District before making his way to the Noble District, and his ultimate destination; Van Sky Manor. He was apprehensive as he rapped on the large brass knocker on the doorway threshold, having not been home in many months. Memories of his last meeting with his father still haunted him. His thoughts were interrupted by the creak of the iron door being opened. Saris recognized the face, "greetings Oswell, it's been a long time." The aged servant who had served the Van Sky family for forty years gave him a measured look, "I will inform your father you are here." There was no warmth in the voice, ‘But had the old man ever been warm?' Saris thought to himself. Saris couldn't remember a single smile or kind word the old man had ever said. Before he could utter a reply, the door was shut in his face. Saris bit down hard on his anger, "Who is HE to refuse to admit me like a beggar at the door?" Oswell soon returned, and Saris gave him a nasty glare, "Well did my Father say I could enter my own house?"

"It is not your house but your father's, as I recall,” said Oswell quietly. But the man did beckon Saris to follow him into the foyer and directed him to his father's solar, "He awaits you in there. I shall bring food and drink for you both." Saris strode inside the large study where he found his father sitting at his desk. He did not get up, nor did he smile. "So it would seem my prodigal son has returned at last." Montag Van Sky gave his youngest son an icy glare.

"Why father, don't overstrain yourself with joy, " Saris snapped, "Your son is returned, and I have become a success, and without your help I might add."

"So you have returned to brag of you exploits?" his father asked, "You might have stayed here and helped your older brother run the family business, but no, you wanted to make a name for yourself as an adventurer; a swaggering swordsman - as a fool!"

"You never asked me what I wanted! Only for me to be a twin to my older brother! Seth could never do wrong in your eyes, and he has always been your favorite, not I," Saris said angrily, "He isn't half the sailor I am - half the man I am - yet you wanted me to be his lackey!"

"Seth is the eldest and my heir. It was your duty to assist in the family trade. You simply do not know your place." The father glared at his son, "So why have you come back and what do you want of me?"

Saris , calming down, got down to business, "I have come with a rich investment opportunity for you, for our family business. I have traveled far south on the Wyn Myr, past the great Sargasso, past the Sea of Mist, past the Pirate Isles, to the fabled Isle of Dread. While there I and my companions discovered a small human colony called Farshore; a virgin trade opportunity that could be ours exclusively!" Saris beamed with pride.

"You went to the Isle of Dread? Where no man from Sasserine has ever gone, and yet returned alive and unharmed?! My pardons if I don't believe you; you always were fond of telling tall tales about yourself." Montag said warily.

"But I can prove it, here look at this," Saris pulled an ancient Olman artifact from his bag, "Find the best sage in this city and have him verify this is authentic, it is from the lost Olman city on the Isle of Dread. I many be many things, Father, but I am no liar, and despite the way you have treated me, I offer you and our family wealth and success greater than the Van Sky Trading Cartel has ever known. Once you decide, you'll know where to find me." With that Saris turned and left his home, out into the dark streets of Sasserine, hoping for vindication and finally some respect from his father. He set out for the Painted Vixen, his favorite hangout in Shadowshore.

Within a few hours, a small thin man walked into the Vixen. He was timid, wary, and seemed nervous to be in such a rough establishment. He warily eyed the customers who glared at his fancy foppish clothes, his gaudy jewelry and his large money-purse. Then he heard his name called from across the crowded tavern, "Seth, come over here before someone robs you!" Saris beckoned his older brother to a table where he sat in front of a large tankard of ale, a comely young girl astride his lap.

"I see your taste for whores and cheap drinks remains the same," Seth said with a look of utter disgust, "Why do you, a noble, associate yourself with this filth", Seth saw the look the girl gave him, "No offense, m’lady."

"Be gone", Saris smacked the girl across her ample rear end, and she gave Seth one final disgusted look and sauntered away. "So, father must have verified the artifact, otherwise he wouldn't have sent you."

"I know what you are trying to do," Seth glared at his brother, "You want back in Father's good graces, so you try to outshine me with this idea of 'new trade routes' and fabled riches. Well, I am on to you. I will not allow it."

"My dear brother, it's not up to you. Father is not dead yet - sorry to disappoint you - so he will make the decision, and unlike you, he is a shrewd businessman; he knows a virgin trade route means a monopoly, which means instead of seven ships we could have twice that number in a year, which means his wallet grows fat and his position on the Dawn Council grows in stature, maybe someday as high as House Meravanchi, House Arabani, or even House Lidu. That is why he will agree - not for me; not for my sake." Saris spat out the last words bitterly.

"But you forget one thing: Father listens to me, and I will crush this deal if it pleases me. You know he does whatever I say." Seth gave his brother a sharp look.

"I always knew you were a rat, and if you were not my brother, I would open your throat. But Father loves you best, and will do as you say, so name your price to make this deal happen.” Saris said quietly with his eyes narrowed.

"You will give up your share of the profits and they shall be mine, alone, and you shall never return to our house again." Seth smirked wickedly.

Saris glared at his brother for a long time, seething with resentment, "It shall be as you say." He said quietly.

With that the two brothers got up and headed back to the Van Sky manor, where they found a grizzled old Sage and their father waiting for them. As soon as they entered, Seth broke in, "Father, the sage you hired verified it! The artifact is real, and this means a great opportunity for the family, with the riches and prestige from this new route, we will double our fleet and your position on the Dawn Council will rise dramatically." Saris glared at his brother, but before he could utter a word, his father interrupted. "I agree with Seth, he is correct as always, this is an excellent opportunity for the family. How shrewd of you to think of it, Seth." Seth turned to his brother grinning, "You know I always put our family first, Father." Then he continued, giving a sideways look at his brother, "I suppose Saris will want all the credit and all the profits from my hard work,"

Saris made a sharp gesture, "No, I require only one thing," he gave his father a cold stare, "I will give you the route map if you agree in writing to hire on Amella Venkalli as lead captain on the route should she choose it - not one of your other captains."

"Why should I give a stranger preference over my other employees?" his father thundered, "What is she to you? Another skirt to diddle?"

"Don't you EVER say anything about her like that again," Saris shouted. His father and brother jumped back from the sound of his voice, and Oswell came rushing into the chamber with a dagger. "You will do this for me, and in return I will give you what both exactly what you want; more money than you can spend and more prestige than you deserve." Saris turned and looked angrily at his brother who was visibly trembling in fear, "I am not interested in money. What I want is for Farshore to succeed. The people I have known there and my traveling companions have treated me far better than this family ever did, and I do this for them. Just remember that."

Montag Van Sky gave his youngest son a hard look, "If she is that important to you, I will make the arrangements and my scribe will draft the offer for this Amella, but you will forego ANY share of the profits! They shall go to your brother. Those are my terms, do you agree?"

Saris walked toward the door, "Father, Seth has already got more than any man could want; his father's love, his father's respect, and more gold than he can spend in ten lifetimes. I'm sure a little more of each will do him soooo much good." Saris opened the door, "Until next time," and he walked off in the gathering darkness to meet his companions, the only true friends he had ever really known.

Upon their return to Farshore, Lavinia came up to Saris, "Were you able to secure a trade route?" Saris replied, "Yes, Father will send a ship here in a fortnight, and it will carry both trade goods and contracts for the Farshore representative to sign - that would be you, I guess. Farshore will do very well. My Father knows a good opportunity when he sees one, and both the Van Sky Cartel and Farshore will profit nicely from this situation"

"Your father must be so proud of you" Lavinia smiled warmly.

"Well who wouldn't be proud of me, I am the greatest swashbuckler on Corwyn," Saris boasted, but his grin faltered. "Tell Amella that my Father wants to hire her on as route Captain; it’s a great opportunity for her and her crew."

Lavinia smiled again, "I don't believe you are the self-centered buffoon you usually pretend to be."

"Just don't tell anyone my secret. It would ruin my reputation." With that, Saris walked off shouting for ale, women, and generally making a fool of himself….

Continue to Chapter 3...

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