My family called me Lucre. Named after what a merchant family lusted after (And often got): profit, of nearly any provenance. It became something of a joke as I grew and my interest in history, politics, and magical theory dominated my time and attentions. Though I contributed little to the family business, and mother frequently commented on my neglected physique, few could argue with my command over numbers, or growing knowledge of the world and arcane arts.
The townsfolk call me Demon. Named after what I can occasionally appear reminiscent of, this too is something of a joke, at least to me. It is true: my eyes can glow orange, my palm can appear engulfed in flame, and the spectre of wings have been known to appear behind me from time to time. However, these are merely the byproducts of meeting a demon. Or at least I think it was a demon. Or angel. Or warlock. Or eldritch… being.
Whatever it was, it apparently stumbled across my kneeling form before my mother's then-freshly desecrated body. Taking an interest, it grasped my arm and hand, pulled me to my feet, and it spoke. Of what, I do not know.
But some truths are clear to me now that were not before then. Mostly, that of Power. That all reality is governed by the relationship between the powerful and those with less power. Few rules seem important in the face of this knowledge, except for the respect owed to those more powerful than oneself, and the duty all have to maintain a balance - to ensure some are more powerful. For, what is free will without the exertion of power over reality and others, to enact it?
Truly, I look little like a demon. Lithe, 5'10", more pale than seems natural (And probably is- thanks demon friend), with a shock of tangled brow hair, I normally look more the type to read and write about demons. And, actually, I do both. The joke, however, is that they probably should call me demon-- just not because of my appearance. Between my involvement in some less than virtuous dealings between leading families, and a tendency to conduct what one might call rather one sided business transactions, I have probably earned a reputation as one with whom to bargain only in dire or ethically ambiguous circumstances. Yet all they seem to remember are the eyes. A joke, I say.
I tend to rely heavily on magic for all things. I see this as just another way to gather and exert power- you either have magic, or you lack that power. I want to explore the arcane arts, especially anything of eldritch origin, in order to secure land holdings and a trade empire-- the seeds of a duchy, and, one day, a kingdom. To start, however, I will need to secure some political backing, a bit of starting capital, and a way to corner and capture a market of some kind.
I also intend on pursuing this mystery benefactor(?) Who saw fit to intervene in my life, and instruct me in the ways of power and hierarchy. What power might they have? What purpose did they see in intervening?
Thus, with a glowing eye to winds of political fortune and Mercantile whimsy, I set off on my quest for power. 'Why?' You might ask. Why indeed. I prefer my heart to remain firmly and healthfully where it belongs.
At an ungodly hour, in a dank and dirty alley, four men found themselves at an impass, though one was unknown to the others.
Two, in the garb of city guards, stood with torch and sword in hand not ten feet from the third, who knelt beside a corpse.
As he dispassionately searched the dead man's clothes, he argued, in an even tone:
"He robbed me, and drew a knife. It was justified."
"His bloody face is burned clean off!", the first guard exclaimed.
"And look at his arm! Charred to a crisp!", the second guard added, helpfully.
"You didnt need to kill him. This here, it's murder."
"He. Drew. A. Knife."
"I caught the thief, confronted him, and he drew a knife against me".
"Just look at the poor sod. Sleeve's burned through all the way to the bone. Not what I'd call a… peaceful confrontation… "
Unfortunately, the guard was right. The still-smouldering corpse sported two nasty burns- one on the arm, where he had been first grabbed, and a second, smoking handprint on what remained of the face.
With a click and a slight sigh, the clasp of a cloak was undone. Black, roughspun cloth fell to the ground as a tall, lithe figure stepped into the meager light of handheld torches. Aged, tired, and far too well dressed for the squalid alley and gruesome scene before him, he seemed to find himself wondering, not for the first time: what, exactly, he stood to gain from this little side project. An enforcer? An assassin? Or perhaps A leader in need of a firm, guiding hand? Lucre could hope, anyways.
The three men who could now see Caen reacted in wildly different ways to his sudden and mostly unwelcome appearance. The first guard stiffened, standing as to attention, and awkwardly saluted, though Caen held no official rank or title. The second let out a poorly stifled moan, with the presence of mind to, at least, to explain himself.
"Sir, we caught this man, who admits to murder. You don't want to be around these parts at this hour."
"Odd", Caen said, "It looks to me as if the city guard is accosting a citizen guilty of nothing more than self-defense".
Staring at Caen in disbelief - probably at the magnitude of his possible misfortune - the guard replied "Of course, I'm sure you have the right of it".
"Maybe we could leave this… " he waived his sword in the direction of Lucre and the body "in your capable hands".
"And let us go continue uh, our, uh, patrol?" the other guard stammered.
"Yes, I'm sure you have more important things to attend to." Caen said, as the guards scampered, more than walked, in the opposite direction.
"I was wondering when we'd finally meet." Lucre said, without turning to face the person who he could now identify as the mysterious figure who had wahimed him for nearly a year. Quietly, Lucre slid a dagger into his sleeve, though he doubted he would need it.
"Yes, clearly we have much to discuss. I assure you, however, I mean you no harm. In fact, I have a proposition for you… "...
And in this manner, Lucre came to meet Caen, the wily, slick, connected, and - some would say- iron fisted politician.
At this first meeting, Lucre had many questions, but, as was his way, he probed for opportunity. Having surveilled targets of his own, he understood there were many motivations for doing so, though few were altruistic. This man had commanded the respect, and fear, of the city guard. Perhaps he was connected enough to help Lucre find and "secure" a Barony, or at least some real power. Or papers to make legal his import business. Or perhaps he was about to be conned. Only one way to find out, really.
For his part, Caen appeared and, indeed was, quite relieved. 'How refreshing', Lucre imagined him saying: to have proof this man was willing and able to enforce the law, regardless of how harsh the judgement was. And clever enough to run a middling smuggling operation, as well. Perhaps he could fashion a lordling to suit his needs, after all.
Of course, only time would tell what Caen really had planned.