The Iconoclast

  • The Iconoclast

    "An Account of the Life of Jessica Whyte"

    Eltaor Starym

    Here is a book written by Eltaor Starym, following his indentured service to the Whyte family, and his tutorship of Jessica Whyte.

    [OOC Note: Copies of this book are in circulation IG. It is feasible that your character can get their hands on one, and know the details in this book.]

    [OOC Note: To situate yourself, you may wish to refer to the Intrigue of Peltarch, beginning from "Labor Durus," and concluding with "Casus Belli".]

    [DM Xanatos Gambit]

    My preference for solitude has led me to penning my thoughts to paper. The debt I owe Chadwick Whyte for saving me from the clutches of the Daemonfey will be repaid, says he, in kind.

    A life, for a life.

    Accordingly I am to assist in the raising and keeping of his daughter.

    Once she perishes, my service will be complete. A life for a life indeed.

    I of course wish her no ills and the extent of my debt to the patriarch Whyte has me relatively satisfied with the method of payment.

    So begins my tutelage of the young Jessica Whyte.

    Chadwick Whyte has acquired, today, a controlling interest in the Seafarer Organization. This organization has brick and mortar all across Faerun, it seems, including in Chessenta, where we first met.

    One Vaster Ashald has apparently lost control of the guild following his exile in a faraway land called Narfell. The Whyte family, being the second highest interest in the guild, has assumed control.

    Chadwick tells me it is imperative that he run the guild differently than his predecessor. "More humanely," he said. I almost laughed, for the stories I hear about Vaster Ashald are nothing if not human.

    Chadwick's daughter is a bright girl, with an interest in the books I've chosen for her tutelage. All of them except the Elven books, of course, but it is not my place to push my culture upon her. The fifty or so years of her life will be a small payment in kind for the several hundred I will get to live thanks to her father.

    She gets along well with the other children. But, last week, I brought her out for a walk. She stopped to play with the orphans who were lingering in the Ashald Park. One of the orphans pushed her into the mud, it seems, and she claims he made her eat some, too. The boy, Jako, seemed mightily pleased with himself about it. I scolded him and took the young girl back home.

    I asked her to tell me about it. She explained that Jako had made fun of her hair. She seemed quite sensitive about this remark. I asked her if it made her feel bad. She denied it. She said, she didn't care about her hair. While she said so, she was very busily stroking and arranging stray strands of it.

    "Don't you?" I asked.

    Her eyes flickered. I could tell, by this flicker, that she was embarrassed. She was trying to tell me something.

    "Well?" I asked, very gently, and warmly.

    She silently nodded - admitting that she did, truly, care about her hair.

    "That's alright," I said. I gave her a hug and then we moved on to clean up.

    [Several years' worth of entries are simple accounts of the ordinary day to day.]

    [The ledger is marked at a certain point, several years later.]

    Chadwick's daughter is now seventeen years of age.

    I am not quite so sure whether she enjoys my company or not. On the one hand, she has asked me to conceal myself. To avoid showing others that I am present and accompanying her. On the other hand she frequently insists that I come with her to her various arrangements. Naturally I oblige though I am forced to go invisibly.

    The invisibility is not a problem for me, of course. In fact I don't even require it most of the time. I am slight enough, even for an elf, and quiet and discreet enough that most people don't notice me even if I should want them to. Going forward, it seems that I won't. Not until the debt is paid, anyway.

    I accompanied the young Miss Whyte to a meeting. In fact, we were both just shadows in the meeting. Observers.

    The meeting was between my lord Chadwick Whyte, and one Herald Damian Fisher.

    Fisher reminds me of a wrought out piece of leather that's been hung out to dry for a bit too long. His eyes are like beads, and it seems to me that he looks as though he constantly chews upon a lemon. His voice grates the ears, and it is clear, based on his tone, that he's lost all patience a decade or so ago.

    All the same, Damian Fisher appeared to set the agenda, set the tone, and indeed, set the terms of Chadwick Whyte's ascension to the Seafarer Organization. I don't recall the meeting verbatim but I do recall Fisher insisting "There will not be a repeat, Chadwick."

    Fisher's primary concern was getting the League of Guilds, which Chadwick Whyte chairs, to bend the knee and kneel to Damian Fisher's Brother, the new King George Fisher.

    My lord Whyte, of course, was eager to agree. Overall the meeting was unremarkable. Unremarkable, I suppose, except for the subtle indication of just how much more control this Damian Fisher appeared to have by comparison to Whyte, who conceded almost every point immediately.

    I suspect Damian Fisher could have pressed even further, and obtained even greater concessions out of Lord Whyte, but, the man strikes me as someone not prone to rapid changes or radical proposals.

    Later in the evening, I asked Chadwick's daughter what she thought of the meeting. She replied, with some frustration, that her father lacked a backbone.

    I have shadowed Chadwick Whyte to several meetings now, along with his daughter who, he says, is set to inherit the family business one day. The point of the shadowing is so she can learn how business is done.

    I asked her recently how much she has learned. "My father is correct," she told me. "I have learned an exceptional amount by observing his negotiations."

    Of course I suspect her remarks are only half-true.

    Quite frankly I am beginning to agree with Chadwick's daughter - that is to say, with Jessica - that the man lacks a certain sense of negotiation. He eagerly concedes points and generally just seems happy to be at the bargaining table at all, nevermind the actual bargaining.

    I suspect whatever Jessica learns from her father during these negotiations is, essentially, what not to do.

    [A few years' worth of entries are simple accounts of the ordinary day to day.]

    Today, Jessica has approached her father and indicated to him that the time has come for her to ascend to the post of Chief Operations Officer of the Seafarer's Organization.

    Chadwick Whyte could not have been more delighted to see his daughter take up the post.

    Jessica still insists that I follow her, and that I stay out of sight. Originally, I thought she might be embarrassed that she had a gold-elf for company. Now I suspect she is worried that someone else might strike an interest in me and that I might strike an interest in them. She confides to me regularly now, and I am beginning to think I am the only person she truly does confide in.

    She mistrusts almost everyone else, and presumes that they selfishly only care for themselves. Which I suspect might be true for most of us.

    She does not confide in her father not due to mistrust, I think, but more due to disappointment. The man lacks any sort of guile necessary to run a business. On that, Jessica and I agree.

    I digress.

    I suspect Jessica Whyte does not wish for me to befriend anyone else during the course of my arrangement with her father - that is, during the course of her life. She is a jealous guard of my time and ear.

    Jessica and I encountered a dockhand in the street today.

    Neither of us recognized him at first. He politely removed his cap and lowered his head. He was dirty, of course, as most dockhands are, thanks to the grime and salt of the sea and dirt of this district.

    But Jessica saw his familiar face. She ordered the Seafarer Guardsmen who were accompanying us to stop walking.

    She walked up to the dockhand and told him, "You there, labourer. Lift up your face so I can get a good look at you."

    When she lifted his face, I too, saw who it was.

    Jako, the orphan boy, from the park, so many years ago, had become a dockhand, and a day labourer. His face was scuffed with coal and salt. He looked skinny.

    "Poor boy," she said to Jako. "Time has not been kind to you, has it?" Her tone was oddly warm and kind. It was not a tone I was used to hearing from her. Usually she oscillates between nervous, tense, terse, and confident, but never so gentle and kind.

    "No mam, it hasn't," said the labourer. That is, said Jako.

    "Do you remember me?" asked Jessica.

    "No mam, I don't think I do," said the boy. I believe he meant it in earnest.

    "Are you hungry?" Jessica smiled.

    "Yes mam," replied Jako.

    At this juncture Jessica, without looking away from the boy, addressed her guards.

    "Feed him dirt," she said.

    The guards looked at one another, unsure what to do.

    "From the ground," she clarified. "Force him to eat it. I want to see him chew."

    The guards hesitated. They weren't sure, I think, whether she was joking. I wasn't sure either nor was, I suspect, Jako, whose eyes were widening with a mixture of fear and confusion.

    "Do it. Now, or you're fired," said Jessica.

    Then the guards complied.

    One stepped forward and held the boy still. The other took a fistfull of muck from the ground and pressed it against the boy's lips. The boy struggled, but the guards held him fast.

    "Hurt him," continued Jessica.

    The guards complied.

    One struck the boy in the stomach. That opened the boy's mouth. The other then forced muck through, and used his hands to make the boy's lips shut, and his teeth chew.

    The boy sputtered, coughed, and hacked the stuff out. He fell to the ground. Humans, to me, never quite looked so small as that quivering heap did on the ground that day.

    Poor boy.

    I've come to the conclusion that Miss Whyte's skin is thinner than she will ever admit. Not that I can ever tell her, of course.

    [Two years' worth of entries are simple accounts of the ordinary day to day.]

    With Jessica Whyte at the helm, the Seafarer Organization has profited immensely. I suspect that has much to do with her lack of scruples in business.

    Take, for example, the Wood Shiners Company. Whyte negotiated an agreement with the company, on its face, seemed quite generous and yet, put all together, was a carefully designed trap. The agreement held that should the Shiners Company ever fail to supply the Seafarers with the requisite wooden planks with which to build their new ships, then the Seafarer Organization could exercise, at its discretion, an option to acquire a controlling interest in the Shiners Company at a price calculated at fifty percent of those fees otherwise paid by the Seafarers to the Shiners. However, the payment calculations included in the fine print that all payments were to be calculated in such a way that if ever there were a lack of delivery, the total amount due would halve.

    A few months following the agreement with the Shiners, Whyte created several offshore guilds which then put in purchase orders for all the raw materials of logs sourced from any logger in the Narfellan region. Without logs, the Shiners couldn't saw planks, and thus couldn't supply planks to the Seafarers. This happened for a few months and Whyte "generously" forgave all late supplies, and graciously allowed the Shiners to amend the agreement such that no gold was owed by the Seafarers for the next 3 months, and in return, the Seafarers agreed not to terminate the ongoing contractual relationship.

    Of course that also meant that the amount actually paid by the Seafarers was now reduced to near coppers to the gold, and in turn, the buy-out option clause could be triggered for half of that amount yet.

    In brief, thanks to Whyte's carefully drafted agreement, the Seafarers acquired the Shiners' guild, its tools and machinery, its real estate, and all of its ongoing contractual arrangements with other companies, for an extremely low price.

    And this is but one example. Almost every agreement in which Jessica Whyte partook and negotiated herself involved a multitude of traps and loopholes she knew exactly how to exploit and press to her advantage.

    In two years since her appointment to Chief Operations Officer, the Seafarers Organization have acquired a controlling interest in seven major offshore companies, and two minor companies in Peltarch (Shiners and Vinters).

    I must say I am quite impressed.

    Her public success has taken a toll. Privately, Jessica Whyte paces nervously, and is constantly playing through hypothetical scenarios in which she might stumble, falter, or lose. It is, it seems, quite lonely at the top, and equally nerve-wracking. The higher one builds an empire, the more room there is below to fall.

    She has taken up smoking pipeweed, and tobacco, on the advice of a businessman from Baldur's Gate.

    "It relieves stress," the man said, smiling as he offered her a packette of the carefully dried and rolled leaves.

    Jessica, of course, was quite taken by the man whose reputation was that of a ruthless collector of debts.

    I, of course, warned her against smoking the things, but she has refused to listen. I've lived long enough and met enough humans to see the toll such products take on the skin, teeth, eyes, and lungs.

    But, who am I to intervene? I am here to pay off my own debts, to Chadwick Whyte.

    Today, Jessica Whyte met the Crown Princess, Elizabeth Fisher, and the Princess' rather beautiful companion Isolde Garibaldi.

    In truth I cannot fathom how this Elizabeth Fisher could be considered a Princess. She acts anything but. Her vocabulary is foul and her countenance is rude. She is entirely unlike Damian Fisher, her supposed father, who is rude but in a far less loud and far more subtle fashion.

    That is, unlike Isolde Garibaldi, who is quite the sight to behold and, not only that, but considerate, kind, and pleasant to hear. It simply must be true that the Miss Garibaldi has elvish blood. Then again, perhaps she is aasimar, and has celestial blood. It is not possible for a mere human to invade my thoughts so easily and without knowledge.

    I should have very much liked to meet Miss Isolde personally but, you will recall that Jessica Whyte wants me unseen and unheard by both magical and mundane means, particularly during meetings.

    I hear Miss Garibaldi is a novelist. I shall have to pick up her book. "The Mystery of the Eye," I believe it is called. I am not sure if it is fact or fiction, but if it is anywhere near as pleasant as she, it will be worth the purchase.

    I was so distracted I can't even remember the purpose of the meeting, or its discussion. Only that it took place.

    The relationship between Jessica Whyte and Elizabeth Fisher is an irony spawned from both their fathers.

    My understanding of the relationship between the League of Guilds and the Crown is that former was never really impressed with the latter. The League of Guilds used to control those candidates that ran for Senate, so I am told, and when the General Frederic del'Rosa begun his personal pet project of searching for a King to rule Peltarch, the League of Guilds opted for a policy of waiting and seeing, given that the idea that a King would be so easily found seemed highly unlikely.

    Of course del'Rosa did find a King. He was living in an apartment, in the Bottlenecks of the Docks. A strange place to find a King but he was found there all the same.

    Rumors have it that Damian Fisher, the Herald to the Senate, and the King's brother, may have had a hand in this affair. The man is reputedly an astute administrator who spends his time building his family's influence in City Hall, and to have his brother become King is quite an influence indeed.

    My understanding is that the Guilds initially refused to kneel to the King, but Damian Fisher brokered an agreement with Chadwick Whyte and the Seafarers Organization. That agreement is such that the Seafarer Organization will be subject to a generous and secret tax rate similar in kind to the one it had under the Senate, and in return, the Seafarers will throw their support behind the new monarchy and naturally the other guilds will follow the strongest in toe.

    Imagine, then, my surprise to learn this gentleman's agreement between Damian Fisher and Chadwick Whyte, given that it appears Elizabeth Fisher - or Reyhenna Jorino, apparently her adventurer alias - has gotten into a feud with Jessica Whyte. The gentleman's agreement is made between the fathers of daughters who despise one another.

    Why do they despise one another?

    I ask, genuinely, considering that it is not entirely clear to me which one postured the other first.

    [One year's worth of entries are simple accounts of the ordinary day to day.]

    The King has died.

    His brother, the Regent Damian Fisher, has taken his place.

    I fear this may embolden Princess Jorino, whose father now sits on the throne.

    Following the King's death, the Crown has decided to expand the Royal Council to include two additional elected positions, that is, one for each district.

    Jessica has been paying careful attention, though she has informed me that the elections are not as important as the adventuring population thinks that they are.

    The seats, she has explained to me, are at the Crown's pleasure. That means that King George can dismiss them at any moment. Damian Fisher, who understands that the Crown sits where it does, and receives the bent knees of Guilds, because the Guilds allow it to.

    In the end, says Jessica Whyte, the Crown is the real lever of power in City Hall. And the Seafarers already have their hand on that lever. They do not need any more, especially when the new seats do not have any actual sticking power.

    She has decided to run Seafarer candidates in the districts merely for show. They are sacrificial lambs, she has told me, precisely to deflect attention away from the Seafarer's strings attached to the Crown.

    The newly elected Voices of Peltarch are Jonni Aelthasson, for the residential; Roslyn Underhill, for the Docks, and Scott Grimm, for the Commerce District.

    Grimm has indicated he is inclined to work with the Seafarers. Grimm is a pragmatist, says Jessica. His loyalty to Lucy Rhodes can be leveraged into loyalty to the Seafarers. His seat at the Royal Council will be just another finger on the Seafarer hand over the Crown, she has explained.

    Aelthasson and Underhill are a different story. They have dismissed the possibility of cooperation entirely.

    Aelthasson puts on a gentlemanly face but Jessica suspects that is only because he has a weakness for women. This weakness manifests only in their presence, she says. The man, says Jessica, is attracted in particular to dangerous and dominant women, such as the Lady Maurina or - indeed, says Jessica, herself. She says this without any sense of bragging or satisfaction, either. It is clear to me she has merely accurately self-reflected that she is that type of woman.

    Underhill rather actively campaigns and intends to sabotage the Seafarers, explains Jessica. Jessica tells me that Roslyn Underhill is relatively easy to comprehend. The halfling puts on a masquerade. She is a cheerful persona, on the outside. But she is a driven ideologue behind that mask. And, according to Jessica Whyte, Underhill has the eyes of someone willing to kill for their ideology.

  • The Princess Jorino has declared the Seafarer Guild an enemy of the Crown, in a public paper.

    This follows a lock-down of the Docks district, again through the Princess' Defender Regiment, and again the point of which was to disrupt Seafarer business.

    I asked Jessica Whyte how she intends on addressing the issue.

    "It's already being taken care of," she replied.

    I feel a bit unnerved by Jessica. She seems different.

    I can't help but wonder about her lanceboard scheme, and those pieces she knocked down. A symbol for death, surely. But then I remember she is no killer. She is cruel, yes, but not a killer. I know this, because I have known her since she was a small girl.

    Today I thought I heard Jessica speaking with someone in her office.

    I entered, silently, and I swear I saw someone - a small figure, cloaked in a rather regal, expensive, rare looking cloak, but...

    When I squinted to confirm my sight, there was nothing.

    And Whyte, of course, was silent. Staring at me.

    "What are you doing?" she asked.

    "Nothing," I replied, and left.

    I was sure she was was talking to someone...

    Reyhenna Jorino, it seems, has left the military. It happened so quickly I can't fathom how.

    She published her venom in the papers, this time directing it to the Bank of Peltarch. And then apparently a crowd of rioters attacked the bank.

    Following this, a military tribunal was held, in which a littany of Jorino's military misdeeds were conjured up. Apparently her regiment, which is far too large for the current General Sally Williams, is to be split up.

    Rather than let that split happen, Jorino decided instead to defect from the military and create her own mercenary company.

    I asked Whyte what she thinks of all of this. Surely, I suggested, she must be happy that her opponent Jorino has been defanged so.

    She smiled, and simply said: "Yes, it's a step in the right direction."

    The Magistrate Shannon d'Arneau has apparently convinced the Regent Damian Fisher to raise taxes in a manner that specifically targets the Seafarer Guild's generous rates. And apparently the Regent's daughter, along with the Royal Council - Roslyn Underhill, Jonni Aelthasson, Isolde Garibaldi, and others - support the maneuver.

    Naturally, Jessica Whyte is most displeased.

    Again I asked her what her plan was to settle the issue, or re-negotiate with the Crown.

    And again she replied, "It's being taken care of."

    Today, for the first day in a long time, Jessica Whyte was her old self again. At least, she felt the same way she did before, some several years ago. She even confided in me.

    She told me she was hesitant about her plans. A vaguery, to be certain, but I welcomed her approach, even though I had no idea what her plans might be.

    "Perhaps you should revisit your plans," I counselled her.

    "Perhaps," she conceded.

    "Perhaps I can help?" I suggested.

    "Let's go for a walk," she said.

    We walked then to the pathway to the East, leading to the Royal Estates.

    I heard Princess Jorino spent most of her time there these days. A curious destination, I thought. Surely she was not going to visit the Royals, let alone the Princess.

    Then of course we found Princess Jorino, walking along this path, with her companion, the beautiful Isolde Garibaldi. Again I am left breathless at the sight of this Bardess.

    We were luckily stuck in the rain together. All four of us (myself invisible), plus Whyte's assistants. Under a canopy from the walls nearing the pathway.

    I was distracted by the beautiful Isolde.

    When I finally regained my senses I noticed, and I believe, Jessica was trying to tell them something. She was turning around an issue and I could see, finally, when I looked Jessica's way, that her eyes flickered the manner they do when she tries to muster the courage to explain something embarrassing. I confess, however, I have not seen her this way since she was much younger.

    I remembered then that Jessica Whyte and Reyhenna Jorino used to cooperate, not so long ago. Prior to the Docks Union debacles, they were rather closely aligned on certain issues.

    It was at that point that the beautiful Isolde Garibaldi surprisingly remarked about Jessica's teeth. Isolde pointed out how yellow and ugly Jessica's teeth are. It is true that ever since she began to smoke tobacco and pipeweed, Miss Whyte's teeth have grown yellow and indeed it has not helped her complexion either.

    The contrast between the gorgeous Bardess Isolde Garibaldi, and the rather dishevelled Jessica Whyte was so glaringly obvious in the moment that I felt rather awkward. It certainly reminded me Miss Jessica is most physically unappealing. In particular, when compared to the miss Garibaldi. It is painfully clear.

    And the assistants all saw it, too. Many of them tried to hide smiles because it was amusing I suspect to see such a contrast between the hardened Jessica Whyte and the very pretty Isolde Garibaldi. I believe I heard one of them stifle a laugh.

    At that point Jessica's eyes stopped flickering. She had an assistant show her a mirror, to inspect her teeth. Then she shut her lips and fell quiet. She stared ahead, and waited. She waited for the rain to end. And when it did, we moved along in the opposite direction. Away from the Royal Estate. And away from the Princess, and Miss Garibaldi.

    "Where were we going, again?" I asked her.

    "Just for a walk. We're going back home," she replied.

    Since that day, I have not seen Jessica Whyte smile with her teeth again.

    Today, I saw Jessica pacing in her office.

    She seemed most reluctant to proceed with or talk about whatever it is she is concerned about.

    She fell silent for a time.

    I noticed, out the window (note that her office overlooks the docks), the Princess Jorino, standing alone by the pier.

    "There is the Princess," I remarked, candidly.

    "She's early," Jessica replied, to my surprise. Early for what, I wonder? Was Jessica even expecting her? I wondered, indeed.

    Not for long, though, for Jessica immediately reached for her coat and made her way out of the building to speak with the Princess.

    I followed her, stealthy and as invisible as always.

    When she finally met with the Princess, Jessica had the same look in her eyes as she did the few days before when we were stranded in the rain. Hesitation. I am convinced she wished to confide something to the Princess. Perhaps even ask for her assistance.

    Then the Princess remarked, "You are nothing to me, Jessica Whyte."

    "You are irrelevant. You are an absolute nobody, who will never do anything worthy of anyone's memory, anywhere," the Princess continued.

    "You are so far beneath me I cannot even see you," Princess Reyhenna Jorino concluded.

    I could see that Jessica's face was growing red at this. Out of embarrassment, surely, for I certainly felt embarrassed for her at the stark words.

    Then, however, after a minute or so of this, Whyte seemed ... almost relieved, in my eyes.

    She grew quiet, and unnaturally calm.

    Eventually, Whyte simply replied: "Thank you."

    Then we left.

    Today it was announced that Triloquist was the real culprit behind Lorrin Wilkes' murder.

    I remembered Whyte's lanceboard, in which she used the "T" piece to knock over Lorrin Wilkes.


    The same letter which begins the name "Triloquist."

    The name of the one behind Wilkes' death.

    I am gravely unsettled. I must speak with Jessica about this.

    I was on my way to ask Jessica about Triloquist and Lorrin Wilkes' murder. That was when I saw Jessica meet with a strange man.

    The man was unknown to me. And yet, he seemed to know the entire layout of the Seafarer Headquarters.

    He walked in and appeared to treat the place as though it were a quaint cottage on a riverbank that he used to visit when he was an infant.

    He had a small, gray beard, and wore a businessman's clothes. He was quite adept at conversation, given his interactions with the clerks and staff.

    When the staff asked for his name, he didn't give one. No one seemed to recognize him and this appeared to amuse the man, as though he recognized them.

    Whyte, however, did know him. Indeed she appears to be the one who invited him in.

    This time, I decided to not only be invisible, but also to avoid Jessica Whyte's notice. I made sure that, even though she quaffed a potion of invisible sight, I nevertheless used my natural stealth to avoid detection.

    I dropped eaves on the conversation.

    The man told her that he escaped from another realm, and only recently returned. The man seemed to know all it was that Whyte had been up to in recent times.

    The man then congratulated her on what he called her "successes."

    The man asked her about Lorrin Wilkes, and asked whether she was the one who set the events leading to his death in motion.

    Whyte seemed almost proud that the man was even asking.

    She did not deny it.

    Then the man indicated that he admired Jessica's tenacity, and in particular, her plan involving a one Mister Elias Frogmouth. He asked her to confirm that she was indeed the one behind Mister Frogmouth.

    Again, she did not deny it.

    The name Elias Frogmouth immediately brought me back to the lanceboard. The lanceboard, which Whyte used to explain her plan. Her plan which, when stripped to its bare minimum, was a plan for murder and for war.

    It dawned on me, as I listened to the two speak, that Whyte has been and continues to be cooperating with Triloquist. I realized, then, that she must have used Triloquist - convinced him somehow to act against Wilkes and, indeed, to act against her other enemies. It further dawned on me that Wilkes was dead, and that Whyte is the main beneficiary of that death.

    It dawned on me also that the lanceboard was a plan to plunge Peltarch into war. I remembered all of those pieces, organized and cajoled by Elias Frogmouth. All those pieces, coming to Peltarch and then Jessica Whyte knocking over those pieces that represented the royal family.

    All those pieces, knocked over. And the "J.W." piece standing in the center.

    I immediately snuck out of the room. I was on my way out of the Seafarer Headquarters. I was on my way to the Magistracy, to the Crown, to anyone - to let anyone know - when I suddenly froze.

    I could not move.

    Though I willed my muscles to obey and run, they could only rebel. And stand perfectly still.

    At that point, a -different- man, an elderly man, far older than the one Jessica was in the other room speaking to, approached me. This elderly, different man had blue eyes, and wrinkled skin, wearing a black hood and cowl. It was as though no one else in the Seafarer Headquarters could see him but me. He was very obviously a spellcaster of some sort. He wore around his neck a small horned symbol on a simple string that I could not quite make out.

    I recognized him. From before. I had seen this man here a year ago at least.

    He smiled at me so indifferently that I knew he meant me harm.

    And yet I could not shout, or yell. Or even run.

    This different man then walked into the room in which both Jessica Whyte and the other man were speaking.

    Shortly after, Whyte exited the room, alone, and ordered the Seafarer Guards to take me away.

    I have been placed in a prison capable of containing a mage.

    I tried to escape, but the prison nullifies my magic completely. And I never was one for brute strength. Nor was I ever one for picking locks.

    She came to visit me only once, since.

    "Did you think I wasn't having you watched?" Jessica asked me.

    I didn't know what to say. Then I remembered her lanceboard scheme, Triloquist, and Elias Frogmouth.

    "I didn't think you were capable of mass murder," I remarked, bitterly.

    "Then after all these years, even you don't know me," she replied, her tone so cold I shivered.

    Before she left, she had the mercy of leaving me with my book and a quill with ink.

    "To write in, so you don't get bored," she said. "It isn't as though anyone will read it."

    Old, odd men and women in black robes and cowls whisper to the elite and the powerful. Strangers that I have never before met appear to know more about this city than people who have lived here all their lives.

    I re-read this book, and the pages I have documented and I know that something is amiss.

    Yet my disappointment in Jessica Whyte has overcome my fear for the future.

    I don't feel like writing, anymore.

    I don't feel like much of anything.

    [DM Xanatos Gambit]

    [Plot Finale - The Iconoclast.]

  • Jessica has expressed concern over Underhill's recent alliance with a man named Lorin Wilkes.

    Wilkes, she has explained, was the former leader of the Human Union. The Human Union was a band of human labourers that threw figurative and literal wrenches into Seafarer operations all in the name of higher salaries and better working conditions. Reasonable claims to me, of course, and something tells me it would have been to Jessica as well were it not for the fact that the man saw fit to "demand" such things rather than politely request them - her words, not mine.

    So, Jessica dealt with him accordingly. In fact I recall those events as I was there when she handled the affair. She met with several labourers willing to turn their backs on Wilkes, and nominate a new leader of the Human Union. They spread false rumors about the man, and slipped poison into his drinks so he would miss key union meetings or be late and, when he would show up, be so disoriented as to appear ineffective and weak.

    Once that was done, she arranged for men secretly on her payroll to assume control of the Human Union. These men would pretend, in public, to be on the side of the labourers, but would curtail any real efforts and take bribes on the side rather than actually organize strikes or lobby for higher salaries.

    There remained, of course, the problem of the other unions. The Halfling Union, the Elf Union, and the Dwarf Union, in particular.

    Wilkes would very frequently and loudly claim for the need for all the unions in the docks to unite, regardless of race, in order to countervail what he expressed was Seafarer and other Guild abuse of their labour.

    Whyte, of course, saw fit to put an end to that as well.

    To that end she recruited halflings, elves, and dwarves - each known for their greed (though less so, I maintain, elves, though in the end it "was" a moon elf...) ... she recruited these specific persons and had them stage public denunciations of the other races in the docks. Elves would decry dwarves, who would decry halflings who would express vitriol at the other two and several brawls and riots later, the unions became staunchly divided across racial lines.

    I believe the human expression is "divide and conquer." Jessica Whyte was quite fond of this tactic, and used it almost perfectly.


    Roslyn Underhill, it appears, has decided to assist Lorin Wilkes in recovering his position as leader of the Human Union. Whyte did not predict that Underhill, a detective, would ally with someone so surrounded by whiffs of criminality as Lorin Wilkes, who is accused of having ties with thieves and smugglers. Now, once again, Wilkes - this time, accompanied by a halfling City Councillor - is calling for unity in docks labour.

    When he was the leader of the Human Union (some time ago), Wilkes placed powderkegs in several Seafarer warehouses prior to a negotiation with the Seafarer representative. He claimed to have men ready to light the fuses and watch the buildings go up in flames if the Seafarers were not ready to increase wages. When pressed, Wilkes told the representative that the Seafarers "play dirty," and so it is "only fair" that he play just as dirty if not dirtier.

    The Seafarer representative apparently gave Wilkes' union the raises he wanted. This, at the time, was the only concession ever made by a Seafarer representative during Whyte's tenure as chief operations officer of the guild. When Jessica discovered this concession, she was quietly furious. I suggested she call the guard. Ah, but the guard in the docks district need not be involved, because the guilds police their own.

    Jessica further explained to me that she would not confront Wilkes directly. No. She had read him the same way she read each of her antagonists. Wilkes, she explained, is a man that is comfortable with and indeed, invites and relishes upon direct, public confrontation. The man believes he is in the right, and that he has the right words and indeed the favour of the Gods behind him. Every time someone attempts to debate the man in public, he only grows in popularity. "Like a preacher," she explained, with displeasure.

    No. You will recall that rather than directly confront Wilkes - through the law, the guard, or otherwise - Whyte instead had Wilkes poisoned, sabotaged, and discredited through well-placed rumors and intrigue. I have documented this much in an earlier entry of this log.

    But that was before.

    Several years ago.

    Now, it seems, the damage has been undone.

    Now, it seems that Wilkes' reputation has been restored. Thanks to Roslyn Underhill.

    I believe Jessica Whyte is afraid of Lorin Wilkes.

    Wilkes has already rooted out Whyte's carefully placed allies in the unions. Again, thanks to Roslyn Underhill, whose experience as a detective has proven devastating to Whyte's web of puppets in the unions.

    Every moment of our private discussions is to do with this man, and Underhill. And in each, she contemplates the ways in which they can undermine her and the Seafarers, and the ways in which she can destroy them as quickly as possible.

    Elizabeth Fisher and Jessica Whyte have begun a feud between the two families.

    The Fisher Princess illegally stationed her Defender army in the Docks District, to lock down the Seafarer Guild's businesses. It is not entirely clear why she did this. Jessica Whyte has expressed to me that the Princess is comparable to a mad-woman.

    Naturally, Whyte referred the matter to the Crown Council as well as the Magistracy. However, the referral, she tells me, runs deeper than a simple immediate solution.

    Elizabeth Fisher - that is, Reyhenna Jorino - is a blunt instrument, says Jessica Whyte. Somewhat comparable to Wilkes, Jorino is not someone to truly face head-on. She appears to relish in confrontation and besides, she wields her military forces well enough to stomp down any direct opposition.

    Rather, says Jessica Whyte, Reyhenna Jorino is someone to pick apart carefully, meticulously, and slowly, over time. Whyte tells me she will begin with Jorino's reputation, particularly in the eyes of other adventurers. Then she will move on to her beloved Defenders. And once those are cracked, she will proceed to remove Jorino's family and friends, and place enough wedges between enough powerful political actors and Reyhenna Jorino that the latter will inevitably be doomed to fail at any endeavour that is to do with anything material in Peltarch.

    Shannon d'Arneau is an obvious contender, for the man's love of law and order will undoubtedly clash with Reyhenna Jorino's disdain for anything procedural and the law in general which she has frequently and publicly belittled. As a powerful Magistrate and Cleric, d'Arneau will be a useful enemy of Reyhenna Jorino. Certainly he will not ally with Whyte, but that will be irrelevant, for his position against Jorino will be sufficient. It will be easy to pit d'Arneau against Jorino by funding legal claims and wrapping the Defender Princess up in court battles, which she so despises. It will create enough friction and frequent contact between her and d'Arneau that enmity is sure to ensue.

    Guard General Velhar is another contender, for the same reasons. The woman is obsessed with orderly process and the flagrant disregard for the jurisdiction of the guards gives Whyte an easy in to create an alliance with the Guard General against the Princess.

    Defender Captain Lucy Rhodes is a rival military official who, like Jorino, seeks to accumulate power over time. Supporting Rhodes is yet another way to collaterally attack Jorino's influence. Rhodes is already loyal to the Seafarers, regardless.

    Besides these three obvious candidates, Whyte tells me there is another. A more clandestine figure. An enemy of the Princess and indeed, of the Crown, and someone who worked for the Far Scouts before defecting. Whyte is quite secretive about this figure, even when I ask her directly about it. It is clear she plans to use the many talents of this mystery individual to manipulate public opinion and orchestrate disaster for the Princess. Apparently, Whyte has already met with this particular figure, and given him or her detailed instructions on the Princess' whims and impulses and how to exploit them.

    The final stroke of Jessica Whyte's plan is that she intends to present herself vis-a-vis the Princess as an impulsive, short-sighted woman. "It is imperative," Jessica Whyte has told me, "that the Princess see me as bullheadedly stubborn and foolish, and an irrelevant threat, rather than anything else." If the Princess considers Whyte to be nothing more than a childish, greedy guild-member, then the Princess is more likely to underestimate Whyte, and point the finger elsewhere as the source of her troubles.

    I have further warned Jessica Whyte that should the Princess Jorino ally with Whyte's other enemy, Lorin Wilkes, that would spell trouble. But, apparently, Jorino and Wilkes have already begun feuding over other matters, and so Whyte's intervention on that front will not be necessary.

    Jessica Whyte is, indeed, afraid of Lorin Wilkes. His coordination with Docks Councillor Roslyn Underhill is extremely dangerous.

    The two have organized strikes involving almost all labour in the docks. Not only that, but Wilkes, true to form, has planted powderkegs and threatened Seafarer establishments unless Jessica Whyte steps down as chief operations officer, and unless the Seafarers Guild - and Every Guild - negotiate directly through him, as representative of all such labour in the docks. All labour, including elven, dwarven, and hinnish, as well as human.

    "All labour." Those words are the ones Jessica Whyte has repeated throughout her panic tonight as she confessed to me her fears.

    Wilkes and Underhill have, in effect, created a "Labour Guild," and so all supply of labour goes through them. By sheer material fact, they are now the largest guild, and perhaps even the most powerful. Should people begin to think of labour as a guild-supplied and guild-controlled resource, every other guild will lose an immeasurable amount of income and resources, and this one labour guild, this one "Big Union," or the "Docks Union," as Mr. Wilkes has taken to calling it, will almost certainly take over the docks and perhaps even the city.

    Whyte of course could not have it.

    But Whyte understands that the strikes cannot last forever; the strikers will run out of food, of resources, and of willpower. The Guilds can afford to eat the losses in the short run, if they can simply weather the strikes and pick apart the unions one by one. Yes, one by one they will return to work, desperate for even any payment, to pay for food and indeed to make sure they pay for shelter, lest they be legally evicted by the owners of the properties - that is, the Seafarers and other Guilds themselves.

    Whyte has taken a hard stance against the labour unions, she says, to ensure the future survival of the guild system and indeed of Peltarch "as we know it."

    But not all her colleagues in the Seafarers and indeed in the League of Guilds agree with her. In fact, there is mounting pressure from her father and from Accounts Officer Hughes, a man who claims that the extra labour costs could very well be affordable and reasonable provided that the Docks Union can be reasoned with. "A compromise is surely possible," Officer Hughes has told Whyte.

    Whyte has since demoted Hughes from Accounts Officer to a floor management position.

    A strange man came to visit Jessica Whyte today.

    The man wore black robes, and a black hood, and I could barely see his face. He was an elderly man, with unremarkable features, gray hair, and blue eyes.

    The man's eyes did not strike me as a normal human pair. Too much time, behind them.

    He did not say a word. But I could tell he knew I was present, despite my invisibility and my natural skill for stealth.

    Jessica Whyte asked me to depart, and leave her alone with the man. She desired a private meeting.

    I must confess I am surprised. I nonetheless obliged.

    What the two spoke of, I do not know.

    A menace named Triloquist is terrorizing the city. Apparently, this individual is a vampire, and a child at that.

    "A vampire child is unpredictable," I told her, lamenting the issue.

    "I disagree," she explained. "A boy like that is entirely predictable."

    "Is he?" I questioned.

    "Yes. He wants to feel in control."

    "He also lost his source of approval. He will also likely act in ways that garner the approval of his dead father figure." She continued, and then pointed to a newsparchment. The parchment indicated that the boy was loyal to the Far Scout Commander Smoke, before this one was ousted as a traitor to the city.

    "I suspect a boy like that can be easily predicted," she concluded.

    "I don't understand," I replied.

    "Tell me who it is, exactly, that robbed the boy of his source of approval, and his sense of control?" I questioned.

    "I believe the Princess Jorino is the one who purged the rebel Far Scout Smoke," I replied.

    "Correct," smiled Jessica.

    It is clear she was concocting something, though what, I cannot say at this present time.

    Today I asked Jessica: "What is the greatest thing someone can accomplish?"

    I was curious what she might say.

    "To rip apart that which stands in her way," she replied.

    "Even cherished institutions and beliefs?" I questioned, deciding to challenge her.

    "Especially those," she replied, boldly. She put on a strong facade but I could tell that behind her bold posture she was nervous. Nervous, about recent events concerning the Docks and Lorrin Wilkes. I know the woman well enough.

    I said, by way of encouragement: "You, my dear, are an iconoclast."

    Jessica Whyte has been removed from her position as Chief Operations Officer of the Seafarers Guild.

    Her father, Chadwick Whyte, has given in to the Docks Union's demands. The League of Guilds will now negotiate through Lorin Wilkes and the Docks Union for the wages and salaries of all skilled and unskilled labour in the docks.

    Lorin Wilkes and Roslyn Underhill have won against Jessica Whyte.

    In hindsight I cannot see either of them winning on their own. It was due entirely to their cooperation and trust. Whyte underestimated Underhill, it appears. She was under the impression that in the end Underhill would somehow betray Wilkes - perhaps for Jorino, who despised the man.

    But in the end, no. No, the two, that clever Miss Underhill and that bold Mr. Wilkes have deposed Jessica Whyte.

    She has grown sullen and introspective, now. She remains alone in her quarters, and does not speak to me. She simply stares at a spot on the floor on the ground, in silence. She barely eats and has taken to sleeping the majority of the day.

    She refuses to show her face in public. Due to shame and embarrassment, by my understanding.

    Last evening, she did not notice me. I spied her pacing in her room, before she collapsed on the bed. She wept into the pillowcase to make sure no one heard.

    Seeing her this way I almost pity her.

    [Half a year's worth of entries are entered, each describing the ordinary day to day of a woman in self-imposed isolation.]

    Today is different.

    Today, I entered Miss Whyte's room, and she did not send me away.

    She beckoned me closer.

    Before her was a very neat and organized map of the city. Upon it were several lanceboard pieces.

    "What is this?" I asked her.

    "My future," she replied.

    She told me the steps forward for her. She would secure a position as treasurer of the Crown. This, she explained, would allow her access to sensitive files and information under the pretense of Crown Councillor's privelege. The Royal Council will view it as an attempt to co-opt her and thus control her, she explained, but this would be a false hope.

    She then placed a small lanceboard piece chiseled into the likeness of a young boy labelled "T.", and a piece of a hooded woman labelled "Meadow" together in an attacking position against the piece she had labelled Lorin Wilkes.

    She then tipped over Wilkes' piece.

    "Oh," I said.

    "Yes," she replied.

    Following this, she pointed to another piece she labelled Elias Frogmouth. This piece was surrounded by many, many pawns, each of different colour. She pointed this piece in the general direction of the City of Peltarch as it was depicted on the map.

    "Who is that?" I asked.

    "That is the second most useful tool that will soon be at my disposal," she replied.

    "And the first?" I inquired.

    She pointed then to a set of pieces. They were black pieces. She did not chisel faces into these. Indeed she did not even have a label for them.

    "Who are they?" I pressed, indicating these strange, faceless pieces.

    "You've met one before," she replied. At that moment I realized she must have been referring to the elderly man in the black cloak and hood, whom she met almost a year ago.

    I looked then at the pieces labelled Reyhenna Jorino, Damian Fisher, Adrian Fisher, Lady Maurina, Aino, Prince Thalaman and Prince Kasimir.

    Adjacent to them was another set. This one contained those pieces labelled Isolde Garibaldi, Roslyn Underhill, Oscar Halbrook, Berlinne Toews, Arch Weyland, and a few more.

    Finally there was a last set, with pieces labelled Jonni Aelthasson, Ogre Mage, near a marker on the map for "Pocket Plane Device."

    "Peculiar," I murmured. I didn't quite understand it all.

    "Watch," explained Jessica. She hovered her fingers above those pieces accompanying Reyhenna Jorino, before plucking the Princess' labelled piece from the bunch. She then gently set it down atop the "Pocket Plane Device" marker on the map. She then reached for the Isolde Garibaldi, Roslyn Underhill, and Jonni Aelthasson pieces, and also placed them atop the Pocket Plane Device indicator.

    She reached for three of the unlabelled, black, faceless pieces, and surrounded the Jorino, Garibaldi, Underhill, and Aelthasson pieces and the Pocket Plane Device. Then she knocked over the Ogre Mage piece.

    "Oh," I said again.

    "And then..." she murmured, and moved the piece labelled "T." to Oscar Halbrook, Berlinne Toews, and Arch Weyland.

    "What will that do?" I inquired.

    "A diversion," she replied.

    Thereafter, she reached for the piece labelled Elias Frogmouth, and all the pawns with him to surround Peltarch on the map. She took one of the pawns, and used it to tip over Damian Fisher, Adrian Fisher, Lady Maurina, Lady Aino, and Princes Thalaman and Kasimir.

    Then she took three more of the faceless, black pieces, and placed them inside the city.

    "What will that do?" I inquired of this last move.

    "What it must," she replied.

    She reached for a box of orange pawns, and placed them all around the city.

    "What are those?" I asked.

    "Saviours," she replied. She took the largest of these orange pawns and labelled it "Seafarer privateer."

    "And where are you?" I questioned.

    She took a new piece, that was hitherto not on the board, and marked it "J.W." for her own name. She used this piece to replace the Elias Frogmouth one. The many pawns that accompanied Elias Frogmouth then split in two: some were simply removed from the board, and others lingered inside the City along with the orange pawns.

    She slowly moved the J.W. piece to the center of Peltarch in the map, at the indicator for City Hall.

    I am still not so sure I completely understand Miss Whyte's intentions but I am glad she is at least smiling as she plays with her lanceboard pieces.

    I trust that she is indeed only playing.

    [Several months pass.]

    I was surprsed to learn that Jessica Whyte became treasurer.

    Apparently, the Princess Jorino attempted to co-opt Jessica into becoming an ally.

    She refused.

    I asked Jessica if she intended on using her position as treasurer to enhance the Seafarer Guild's economic prospects.

    "No," she told me. "It isn't about the money," she explained.

    "It's about pride."

    [Several months pass.]

    The reason I have not written much lately is because Jessica rarely speaks to me.

    However, yesterday, Lorrin Wilkes was assassinated.

    Today, Jessica Whyte was re-appointed as Chief Operations Officer of the Seafarers Guild.

    I can't help but think of that lanceboard scheme she showed me so many months ago.

    Surely, it is a coincidence. And yet I find myself wondering.