Created On Tuesday, 08 January 2019 17:50By Kim Powers
Character's Name: Antonia Claudia Thonnius
Title of Adventure:Little Brother
Despite the opinions of her friends, Antonia made her way through the streets of Selixus. In the rain, she had been forced to put on a cloak and hat. Most of the time rain didn’t bother her, but tonight it felt oddly colder than usual. Maybe it was the weight of what she was about to do that made it feel so.
Antonia approached the large stone home on one of the nicer streets in the city. She’d been there only once or twice in her lifetime. Its cool exterior didn’t help her mood. It looked unfriendly, and she knew it was unwelcoming. She told herself that this could have been her house not so long ago if she’d have been a good girl — a nice, well mannered respectable woman of society. But that just wasn’t her. As she walked along the street heading for the main entrance, she saw firelight that illuminated the windows — the comforting glow of candlelight meant warmth for those inside. She told herself that while she and Justus had been at odds since his trickery, she held nothing against his family. Nothing against his wife or children. So she couldn’t allow the Lia Kavair to endanger his family. Her only worry that Justus wanted to work with them.
Antonia knew the stories; the Lia Kavair was a necessary evil. Trying to wipe them out simply wasn’t something that was going to happen. But she wanted them to leave her family alone. That’s what she told herself anyway as she knocked on the door to her brother’s home. Antonia wasn’t even sure he’d see her.
When the door opened, the staff was surprised to see her. “Ms. Antonia.” the tall, thin manservant said. “To what do we owe the… pleasure?” He asked after hesitating for a moment.
The hesitation made her smile. Pleasure, sure. “I wish to see my brother Justus.”
He was again hesitant to invite her inside, but with the rain pouring down around her he did. “Wait here please,” he said letting her stand in the dry entryway of the house. It was built very much like her grandfather’s house. An entryway, which opened to a large garden, and then onto the main house. There were hallways that connected the entryways and the rest of the house so that you could avoid the open garden in the wet seasons if you wanted to.
Antonia stood there, not prepared to remove her hat or cloak just in case her brother refused to see her. Which if she was truthful with herself she expected. But much to her surprise, Justus agreed to see her, and after taking off her wet cloak and hat, Antonia was escorted inside. The walk through the house took her past some of Justus’ prize possessions. A painting of the family, his family of course. She noticed that many of the ornate trappings that had been in the house months ago were now missing from their places. A beautiful candle holder made of silver that once sat on a table in the hall was gone. Moved perhaps but not likely given what Antonia new. Tapestries that hung from the walls missing from their places.
“Come to apologize for insulting me, sister?” Justus' voice was like a dagger through the thoughts that rolled through Antonia’s mind. Her head turned to see him standing in his library — a very smug look about his narrow face.
“Something like that.” She admitted, nodding to the servant as she walked towards the library without an escort.
Justus blinked his surprise. “Really?” He watched her walk past him and into the library.
Antonia nodded her head. “Shut the door; I don’t want your whole family hearing our conversation. It wouldn’t look well for either of us.”
“I will not.” He insisted. “If you’re going to apologize for being a pirate and trying to humiliate me in front of my family I want them all to hear it.” He said a little louder.
Antonia tucked her chin to keep her temperament in check. “We both know I’m no pirate.”
“The brand on your arm says otherwise.” He pointed out the scar.
Antonia didn’t bother to cover it with her hand as she would have months ago. “Do you want to hear what I have to say or should we trade insults again as we did at dinner?” She offered. “Let me say my peace and I will leave you and bother you no more.”
Justus came into the library as he watched her lean against the wall between bookshelves. The room was small for a library, but Justus had never been a reader. There were a few sitting chairs, a table with a chess set out. Antonia folded her arms across her chest, already on a defensive with her brother's comments. She wasn’t armed that he could see. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t armed and he knew that. “Bother me no more… now you have my curiosity, sister. Do tell.” He moved towards a small table with liquor glasses on it — a small decanter with half filled with a golden honey colored nectar inside. He poured himself a glass but didn’t offer her any.
Antonia took in a deep breath. “I know about the Lia Kavair, Justus.” Her eyes intently focused on him. “I know about the gambling, and I know about your debt.”
Justus’ smug smirk which had been about his face the whole conversation was suddenly gone. “I don’t know what you’re….” He shook his head his drink barely to his lips.
“Don’t.” Antonia snapped. “Don’t lie to me about it. They were in grandfather’s house last night. Threatening his life and mine over things you’ve been smuggling into the city for them. So don’t lie to me!” Antonia’s voice raised with her flared anger.
Justus went to the door to the library and closed it quickly. He turned to look at her. Antonia had always been smart. A quick study their father had called her. “How did you… I mean. How do you know this?”
Antonia explained to some detail that she’d followed him. That their grandfather had told hinted to her when she arrived in town that he thought something was wrong. “I’ve become very good at learning the truth about people,” Antonia promised him. “The port master hired my friends and me. My reputation as a sailor and as a bodyguard nearly outweigh the reputation you’ve dealt me.”
“So you want to turn me in and take over the family business, is that it?” Justus’ looked at her. “I’ll fight you, you know. My reputation against yours. The family business…”
Antonia shook her head. “I don’t want the business.”
“Of course you do!” He scoffed. “It’s money and stability; it’s everything!”
She shook her head again. “Not to me, it isn’t.” She offered as she watched him sit down in a chair. “Besides, what’s money done for you? You’re up to your eyeballs in debt with the Lia Kavair. What happens when you mess up? A shipment sinks or…” She smirked. “Pirates attack?”
“You wouldn’t.” Justus’ lips curled.
“No, I wouldn’t.” She sighed. “Justus I need to know the truth. I don’t think you’d willingly put your family in harm's way, but I need to know. Are you being forced to do this or are you willingly helping them?”
“No one forces me to do something I don’t want to do.” Justus snapped at her quickly.
Antonia lifted an eyebrow. “So you’re willingly smuggling goods for the Lia Kavair, then.”
“No!” Justus retorted.
“Well, which is it?!” Antonia walked towards him. She could read his body language well enough to know that he was nervous and the conversation made him uncomfortable. And yet part of him was relieved someone finally knew.
He frowned, wringing his hands nervously as he did. “I don’t want your help, Antonia.” He said a little unsure of himself. His voice was softer. “You can’t help.”
Antonia stopped in front of him. “You don’t know what I can do. If you don’t want my help, Justus that’s fine. But I came here prepared to help you out of this mess. Save face, save your family. All I want in return is for you to tell father the truth. That I’m not what you accused me of and that you lied about me.”
Justus’ head shot up, his eyes connected with hers. “I can’t do that!”
Antonia sighed. “Ok, well. I guess good luck with the Lia Kavair then.” She said. “I told grandfather about them too. He knows you’re in trouble. It’s only a matter of time Justus before he makes good on his threat to take it all away from you. Then they will come for him, and they’ll make him smuggle their goods until your debt is paid off. And then they’ll make him do it to keep you and your family safe. And when he passes away, and it falls to dad then he’ll know the truth anyway, while he’s trying to keep the family name out of the mud. And save your lives. And keep you all out of prison.” She reminded him of all of it — everything that was at stake. Then Antonia started for the library door.
Justus sat there, having it all put in front of him like that made it seem more terrifying than it was. He motioned to one of the chairs as he sank into his chair. “I have been gambling for a long time. It wasn’t a problem until the last year or so. I ended up borrowing money from The Bank.” (see Audumnia Family) “And it was fine until they insisted on my providing collateral. At that point, I owed them 75 bricks of gold.” (10 GP per brick; 10 SP per GP)
Justus continued “Well I couldn’t put up any collateral because then the entire family or the bookkeepers would figure it out, so I turned to the Lia Kavair. Now I owe them 150 bricks of gold. Until recently they were willing to let me have revolving credit as long as I let them bring small shipments into and out of the city past the guard. But about a month ago they told me I had to start paying interest at 20% a week. I have to take money from the family businesses to just pay the interest. I also have a couple of the ship captains helping me with smuggling a crate or two of items every week or so.”
Antonia stood there just within arms reach of the door. She listened to him, understood where he was coming from. It was hard for him to admit it to her, she was sure of that. “That’s what they do, Justus.” She wanted to know how much. How many crates? What sizes? One everything ship or just a few? Grandfather had reminded her of their subcontracted ships. There were dozens of possible shipments being moved into the city regularly. She wanted to know, but she knew this wasn’t the time to ask. It was just the person she was becoming through her adventures.
“I’m trapped, Antonia.” He said. “They’re just going to keep using the ships to smuggle in goods and never let me out.” Justus knew that much too.
Good, you’re not as stupid as you look, little brother. Antonia didn’t dare say it, but she thought it. “I’ll help you get out from under them, but you have to tell dad the truth.”
“How? How are you going to help me?” He asked. “Pay off my debt?”
Antonia chuckled. “Just because I’m labeled a pirate doesn’t mean I have a ship full of booty somewhere.” She said as she walked back over to him. “I will cover as much of it as I can. As for the smuggling part. Well, that’s something the Lia Kavair, and I are going to have to come to an arrangement on.”
“How?” He asked.
“I don’t know just yet. I have to talk to some friends and see how we can handle this.” She admitted. She’d talk to Captain Karlson and the rest of the group about the Lia Kavair. Hopefully, they’d have some ideas. She didn’t want to handle this alone. “For now, do what you normally do. Just like we never spoke about it. I’ll come to you when it’s taken care of, and we’ll go to dad together.”
Justus nodded his head.
He had to think so when she said she was going to show herself out he didn’t object. Antonia nodded her head as she saw Justus’ wife and daughters in the sitting room. She had never met her nieces, knew absolutely nothing about them. Hopefully, that would change in time. Her hat and cloak were still damp when she put them back on, but the fire had at least helped make the wet warmer. When she stepped outside the rain had stopped. Maybe it was a good sign, she told herself.
Last Updated On Tuesday, 08 January 2019 21:12By David Tannen