The sky above Capital was the colour of the smoke the day the orphanage burned.

Xarn lifted his head from the bar and motioned for another drink. Shears poured the drunk 2 fingers of a clear liquid into a glass. Xarn just stared.

“Did you forget who I am?”

Shears filled the glass and tossed it down.

“That’s a shame,” Xarn called to the back of the retreating barman. “I had hoped it was contagious.” He knocked back half the drink and waited for the burn to fade.

The Rusty Blade was his current home, his office, his hideout. Behind him, a table of taciturn dwarves reminisced about a bygone war in a bygone age none were old enough to remember. In a corner sat a group of fresh faced adventurers. Shears like to fleece them while promising a “wise old man” would come with tails of a map leading to an ancient treasure. Toward the end of a bar two figures, conspicuously free of dirt, sat – no, huddled together.

Xarn tried to focus. It was the likes of these two that allowed him his slow descent into a drunken death. They wanted to access one of the Blade’s many pocket dimensions – cut off from this plane completely. Secure and silent – the best business room in Capital.

***

Xarn was a Shaper. He had belonged to a religious order who could access other planes of existence, walk amongst them, and tame the creatures found there. The good ones could form small pockets of space in these planes. They were Melders. The best ones could create these spaces anywhere. These were the Shapers.

And Xarn was one of the best.

He had worked with kings, securing secrets, protecting visiting dignitaries. He was tipped to become the leader of order in Capital. And then the winds of power changed, a political coup, bought and sold by the merchant classes. They bought the army, the city guard, and moved quietly and decisively. No blood was spilt, but the power of the monarchy was over. And smuggling whores to the princess became a moral offense of the highest order.

Xarn was excommunicated and left with in an awkward position, he couldn’t unlearn what he knew, and he was too powerful to be left alive.

So he called on his contacts in the underbelly of Capital and became one of them – working on becoming indispensable. If you needed something hidden, he was your man. Something protected? Again. Xarn could do it. And in return, on top of the cash, he was protected.

The  Rusty Blade was a prime example of Xarn’s work. Complete spirit protection – from weapons checks on the door, to anti-listening spirits. At the first sign of any trouble, a group of very angry djinn phase in and ensure that it stops.

One way or another.

That type of security paid for his drinks, but it was just a matter of time.

***

Shears walked back up the bar.

“They were looking for you.” He murmured, his head nodding back at the two huddlers as they left. “They didn’t look like they wanted you best interests at heart, and how could I throw them my best customer?”

And this the reason Xarn was drank – for free – every night…afterno…day…waking moment.

He downed the rest of his drink and made his way to a secure room.

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