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Author Topic: "Interview with the Privateer", mark two.  (Read 455 times)
Torvald_Faust
Zeppelin Admiral
******
Netherlands Netherlands


Persistent pilfering privateer


WWW
« on: June 10, 2010, 01:58:24 pm »

If you've got an exceptional memory, you may remember "Interview with the Privateer - Torvald Faust introduced". It is/was meant as an introduction to my Steampunk persona; Torvald Faust, the persistent, pilfering privateer, hailing from the grand city of Tarant. With that in mind, I basically tried to stuff all of his biography into the dialogue, admittedly resulting in a story that simply wasn't all that good.

With this new take, below, I've tried to redo all the 'damage' I've done; improving the story and making little changes, such as replacing Tarant, 'stolen' from Arcanum, by Gothar.

As such, enjoy!

I owe a large debt of gratitude to Nathreee, as she has given me some very solid critique to make this story as solid as it is.


Gaze, if you will, upon the City of Gothar.

If an enterprising entrepreneur with a penchant for eccentric experiments would take any decently sized congregation of ants, covered the anthill in soot, ash, filth and other dirt, topped it off with sulphur and other chemicals, added some children their steam toys and would, finally, introduce alien elements to the ant society, such as termites, you would have a fairly perfect 'model' of Gothar.

Because that was just what Gothar was: a very large congregation of human beings, living in an gargantuan city, that no city planner, constable or noble could have foreseen.

Gothar was built around a very old core, which had stood on the crossroads of several countries and, according to some deluded minds, even on the crossroads of several realities, for as long as anyone could remember - and even earlier than that.

The mages and their cabals, few and far between, whispered about a knot of 'ley lines' at the base of this core, twisting Gothar, and the beings in it, in eldritch ways. Few believed this, and fewer still cared, for even if that was the truth, this core got expanded upon and expanded upon by many people from many strata of society, until even that ancient seed was covered up beyond all recognition by a steam-powered chaos.

At the eastern edges of this sprawling dystopian metropolis, you had the soot, ash and filth emanating from the heaviest, darkest, dirtiest industry the brightest, most brilliant scientific minds of these harsh times could come up with. As if the district was a living animal, it easily and regularly gobbled up coal, water, brass, copper and even a large workforce, whole, like the omnivorous monster some mistook it for, when the great furnaces and massive machines roared at night.

The western edges of Gothar were literally topped off with sulphur and other chemicals; the smoke of the many alchemist ateliers and workshops had coloured the rooftops myriads of bright colours, the only colours in Gothar: rigor mortis blue, blood red, absinthe green and other colours beyond the sane spectrum. Where in the east the skies were polluted by smoke and smog, here the skies were polluted by the many flocks of flying vermin the inhabitants had conjured up over the years.

In the mean time, there was no greater concentration of steam-powered contraptions, than in the Wayland Docks, at the northern edge of Gothar. Both the airborne vessels and waterborne mechanical juggernauts of many nations and smaller enterprises had their berths there. Their crews, for as long as they were docked, stayed in the nigh-pandemonium sprawl of taverns, drinking halls and other sorts of lodgings.

Almost nowhere within the borders of the city was there more merriment to be found...or a faster response to an insult. The men and women that stayed in or near the Wayland Docks were not ill-mannered or ill-willed, if only because they were so quaintly fast with weeding out the criminal elements that were...An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Give your word, but do not change it; feel welcome to stay and have a good chat or feel welcome to help yourself to a mouthful of dirt, that was their creed.

Getting closer and more personal with the northern edge, smack dab in the middle of all that brick, steel, cast iron and glass-in-lead, stood Torvald Faust, in front of a building most men sooner or later found themselves standing in front of: the "At Fiddler's Green", a well-known pub ran by James McGail and a popular hangout for all kinds of people.

Reading the handwritten letter in his hands once more, the privateer thought about what it contained. Documents were not his forte, nor his weakness, he handled them regularly enough. But this letter was something special; an interesting proposition of a kind that was unknown to him. Before he entered the pub, Torvald smiled a smile that had been on many an adventurer's face: the smile the courageous few smile just before they take a leap of faith.

Walking into the welcoming warmth of the far-from-posh pub, Torvald gazed around him. Being cautious, bordering on needlessly paranoid, was a second nature to him after so many years of adventure. The man was having his own little adventure; it had been a while since he had been in an urban centre the size of Gothar and even longer ago that he had walked into a place less dangerous than the rural wilds beyond the city limits.

Though there was no more marble on the floors, than the marble dust that had been walked in, no expensive teak on the walls and no Lizardmen-head decorations, it immediately felt like home. The man that greeted him was no-one else than James himself. A very polite and elderly gentleman, the bartender and proprietor had no qualms about taking up arms if he was sufficiently hard pressed, not unlike the rest of the people dwelling in the Docks. And unlike the rest of the people dwelling in the Wayland area, he had no qualms about newcomers.

"Greetings, Ser! What can I get you?"

Torvald had virtually locked eyes with the bartender since the privateer had entered the pub and had decided to saunter into the beckoning bar itself. The whole time, James had been carefully cleaning shot glasses, but still, inexplicably, by the time Torvald sat himself down on a baroque barstool in front of the man, there was a fine selection of liquors, standing in glass bottles between them, put there unnoticed to the eyes of the barkeep's new attendee.

The privateer swiftly glanced James over a few times, apprehension altering the man his behaviour ever so slightly, before answering in the vehement voice of a man used to addressing an unruly airship crew.

"Nothing much. My name is Faust. I was told to meet one mister Molloy, by asking you for him...?"

Nodding in a way one would surely assume the bartender was of the knowing kind, James pointed at one of the tables in one of the corners at the far end of the main room of the pub.

"He's over there, Ser. Your whisky will be with you shortly."

Unfurling an briefly furrowed brow, Torvald, without further ado, walked over to the table, through the otherwise undisturbed gathering of guests and sat himself down silently. The man across from him had ash blonde hair, violet eyes and a smile that reminded Torvald of a predator on the prowl. Someone not too dangerous, something like a crafty fox. Nothing the privateer could not handle. The smile waned and the man started to speak.

"Torvald Faust...I am glad you have gotten my invitation. Seems you have accepted it, eh? I have heard a few things about you and even if the half of it is true, this shall be interesting. Come, here, have a drink."

As if moved there by arcane energies, a whisky appeared upon the table. The fact they were in the Wayland Docks rudely ruled out the quaint possibility of a factual magic trick, and quickly looking up, Faust caught a glance of the voluptuous waitress sauntering off. It surely had seemed like a trick had been sneaked into the pub right under Faust's eyes, but that was not today.

Another sleigh of hand later and the reporter produced pen and paper from, presumably, his pockets. Thusly ready for jotting down the rest of the interview, he did not stop to wait until Torvald took but even one sip of the whisky to ask his first question.

"First, the basics...Name, age, occupation...?"

The very first response of the privateer was merely a slow blink or two, followed by a steel cold gaze, a scolding stare, boring into Molloy's eyes.

"Wait. Hold it right there, sir. Are you serious? You are going to conduct an interview with me, state that it'll be interesting, and you still need to ask me for my name, age and occupation? What kind of journalist are you, sir? You'll have to work for this, earn the sweat of your brow."

For the first time since the conversation, the ash blonde hair was trembling ever so slightly, the eyelids covering the violet eyes blinking rapidly, as if they were battling basking in too bright sunlight. Mister Molloy was nearly nervous enough to erratically erupt into erroneous behaviour. That, or he was more of a very fine actor than Torvald gave him credit for.

"Okay, okay...Let us cut to the part that intrigues me the most, mister Faust. You are a privateer. Why?"

"Why not?"

A brief pause. The roles of predator and prey were being tossed around frantically as they stared each other down, in a silence the sort of which contained one certainty: uncertainty. It seemed it would be unbroken, until Torvald sighed briefly.

"Alright, sir. I'll give you this one for free. Well. Let's see. Part of the 'why' of why I am a privateer is because my father was one. His father was one. The father of my father's father was one. Sir, I say to you, the Faust family is basically a long line of privateers, back to the beginning. Even some of the spouses participated in one way or another. And I basically inherited all of that adventurer's spirit. The older I got, the more that spirit tried to assert itself. After I finished my schooling, private, for the business of me and my family certainly has it's financial benefits, I was done sitting in an expensive mansion. I basically did what all of the Faust men have done posthaste after their allotted time studying: I got my privateer's license."

All that the reporter replied with was the first cautious smile since it all had started right there, at "The Fiddler's Green", and the scratching of his pen. Mister Malloy, masking meekness, mounted an verbal offence and actually started asking inquisitive inquiries.

"According to my sources, you have been a privateer since you were eighteen, then. Is that not a tad young to start?"

"No, not at all. Granted, I had some set backs in the beginning, but the last few years everything has gone just swimmingly. I've been from London, to Istanbul, to New Amsterdam, back to Gothar, Dorado and virtually every other grand city on this fair earth. All to sell the goods I've acquired for my clients."

"Clients...?"

"Yes, sir! Though I am a privateer and have sworn some oaths and fealty here and there, I'm still allowed to some business for myself. So, I've specialized myself in acquiring exotic and extraordinary items and more specifically, weaponry."

A few more scratchy noises permeated the smoke-stained air between the two men. Darkness was gathering outside, verily, knocking at the door, and the crowd was getting more crowded.

"Weaponry. Is that a civil thing to specialize in? Why weaponry?"

"Ahah. Well, my specialization and, indeed, my Degree, is Weapons Engineering, so I've little choice, sir. Can't do much else and many great men have done similar things, actually. Also, I like the practical side; tinkering, prodding in the machinations of those technical marvels...I have developed my own weapons, fixed weapons...Creativity is a part of the job, as well."

"I can hardly imagine that. How can that be true?"

"Ever heard of the Kraken? Air Kraken? Lizardmen? Wraiths, Ghosts, Vampires, Ghouls, Sirens? Demons, even?"

"Yes...?"

"To you, sir, I'm sure they're myths, legends. Stories to frighten little children with. For me, they're not. I have seen too much of the darkness of this world, to claim anything else. There is more to this world than meets the eye, sir. Maybe you would accuse me of being a madman when I would tell all about what I've seen. But, trust me, even at my age I've already been through a lot...I have fought with the shadows on the edge of Man's vision. I have heard the silent voices that make spines tingle with dread."

As if the sneaky shadows had heard Torvald mentioning their hidden names, there suddenly was a chill in the air, and a certain silence was there where the scratching of pen on paper was before. The privateer his eyes glazed over and one did not have to be an efficient expert to see he submerged himself in mysterious memories of a adventurous past.

"I've entered the realms between worlds where there is no time or place, the Aether itself...I have clashed with creatures the sight of which could sear one's soul to the core. I have faced death eye to eye and raygun to talon. I would dare anyone to accuse me of being a madman, they, who have never had their sanity tested so sorely."

The short intake of air was not unlike loading a fresh, pristine clip into a readied gun.

"Do not think that what which I have seen is only to be seen in the darkest and dankest regions of Africa. Recently, I've seen a horrid Vampire, right here in Gothar. I need quite...exotic and extraordinary weaponry to deal with such things and I need to be creative to acquire or create them. And, sir, as it happens, I'll pick up such a piece in a few hours."

"You do not say..."

More tense silence ensued, the atmosphere reaching a dangerous mass where a mere knife would not be enough to cut it. Both men knew that one thought of the other as a raving lunatic, at least to some degree.

"Oh, I do. Shall we keep it civil, mister Molloy?"

"I do not know what you mean."

Torvald merely smiled.

"Try the garlic bread, Molloy. I hear it's quite good. Just be careful with the toothpicks, sir."

Not doubting a single second, the privateer stood up from the sturdy table and turned away from the pale, violet-eyed Malloy. Walking out of the door with yet another smile on his face, Torvald Faust, persistent pilfering privateer, thunder in his blood and fire in his stare, was away before mister Molloy could blink, away to yet another exciting adventure.
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