High Seas and Fallen Stars
Octavian di Raperazzi
"Westgate", a human, ex-lordling from Westgate turned swashbucker
- Young, tall, sinewy-built human with courtier’s clothing, brown hair, green eyes, and a Chondathan complexion.
Signor Octavian de Raperazzi tipped back his favorite chair at the Rosebud tavern and reached out to grope the passing tavern wench. “More wine,” he said, nimbly dodging the expected slap.
The wench, Bartella, shot him a glare and turned on her heel, but Octavian knew nothing would come of it. The de Raperazzis were a family very much in the ascendant, with links to the powerful Guldar trading house; no-one, least of all a lowly barmaid, wanted to get on their bad side. As the second son of Tomas de Raperazzi, Octavian was not expected to inherit his father’s successful import and trade business; that would go to his brother Andre, freeing Octavian to lead a dissolute life of a Westgate nobleman, which was fine by him. Not that Andre was exactly worked to death either, since most of the “import and trade” side of the business was simply the purchase and resale of stolen goods, handled by street-level fences that paid tribute to de Raperazzi enforcers.
Glancing around the nearly empty tavern, Octavian frowned. Usually the Rosebud would be full of men like him, scions of powerful houses with too much time and too much coin on their hands, but today was different. Even now, the fat slug at the next table had slapped down a handful of silver and was wobbling out the door. Octavian didn’t know the man, but a glimpse of a yellow-eye medallion around marked him as a member of House Urdo. Odd, they don’t usually come here, thought Octavian, and more odd that this place is now so empty.
Something was wrong. The tavern was deserted, and Bartella was taking too long with the wine. Even the land-lord, old Baristan, had vanished from the common room. Despite the several drinks he had consumed, Octavian felt sobriety setting in rapidly, accompanied by the first tingling sensations of fear. Pushing his chair back, Octavian began to stand up from the table when he heard a familiar voice screaming his name, followed by someone bursting through the tavern door.
Andre! His brother was covered in blood, and more ran from his mouth and nose as he collapsed, skidding across the floor with half a dozen crossbow quarrels in his back. “Run!” he burbled, choking on his own blood, as two men filed into the tavern, aiming heavy crossbows at Octavian. Reacting immediately, Octavian flipped his table up as an impromptu shield, intercepting the missiles as he pulled free his fine rapier, silently thanking his father for insisting that a de Raperazzi never went anywhere unarmed. Then he vaulted the table and engaged the two assassins, who dropped their crossbows in favor of blades. A fierce melee ensued between the three combatants, but the street toughs were poor swordsmen and fell in quick succession to Octavian’s superior fencing skills.
Looking back at his brother, Octavian realized that Andre was dead. Quickly rifling through the assassins’ belongings, he discovered a pair of small silver medallions with a stylized domino mask crest. Night Masks! Why were the city’s infamous crime lords after him? There was no time to ponder the question, for surely more assassins would be on the way. Castle Guldar was not far away; for now, he had to get to safety, and his father’s allies could help him. Dashing out of the tavern onto the Harbor Loop, Octavian ran south onto Woodside Way, the long street where many prominent families had built their sprawling estates. But there was no help to be had from this quarter, for the gates of Castle Guldar were barred fast, and a severed head was thrown over the wall when he called out for aid – his father’s head.
Octavian was now alone, in the city of his birth that had suddenly, inexplicably become hostile. Plainly his father had fallen foul of one of the city’s crime lords; no doubt fencing some stolen bauble. The scale of retribution was highly unusual, but sadly not unheard-of in the crime-ridden city. Quickly fleeing north-east along Market Street, hiding in the crowds, Octavian took stock of his situation. He had a few coins, his weapons, and his light chain vest. Escaping by land was out of the question; he had no supplies for a land journey and the gates would doubtless be watched. Possibly he could find passage on one of the privateers in port, for even the Night Masks were hesitant to openly attack a foreign vessel. The Bent Mermaid Inn (so named after the obscene sculpture in front of it) was a regular haunt of foreign sailors. Out of options, Octavian set a course for Tidetown and, he hoped, salvation.