In 4631 (SY), The God-Emperor Torval Waverider married Hali’s sister Celle, making her Empress and setting in motion events leading to the formation of the Fins, a guild with members possessing talents best suited for night work or back alleys.  Prior to Celle’s unfortunate marriage, she’d been seeing Kaphiri Fellstar, her brother’s best friend.  Knowing that Celle would be married off for political purposes, the two kept the affair a secret.  No one expected her to be a virgin – she was eighty-seven years old when she married Torval – but it was better that she and Kaphiri didn’t flaunt their affair. If no one knew of the relationship, then it couldn’t be used as a piece in some game of thrones.  As an added bonus, Kaphiri remained free to carry on with any woman he chose.  He loved Celle deeply, but monogamy was not in his nature.

Celle never guessed that her wedding reception would be in Gloryngael and that a miniature God-Emperor would adorn the top of her wedding cake.   She and Torval represented the two branches of Ataryl the First and tradition demanded that those houses remain separate, it was part of the checks and balances Ataryl had wisely installed, using the same foresight as your founding fathers when they invented the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.  Maelryn the Vizier had warned against the marriage, citing obscure prophecies that foretold doom should the wedding move forward, but the hillbilly God-Emperor had his heart set on making a baby with his cousin to reunite both sides of the family tree.  If the kid was born with six toes or four fingers, so what, he’d still have a nice pearl chair to sit in and the might of the greatest empire in the world at his back and call.  He’d survive just fine.

Celle’s wedding left Kaphiri heart broken.  Lesser men might have fallen into despair.  Not Fellstar.  He responded to his loss by falling into his bottle.  While binging, he crossed paths with Zerafina, a young woman from Old Town who walked on the wild side.  She talked Kaphiri into helping her steal a ham (spiral, with pineapple and cherry sauce) right off the table of a noble living in the Plaza.  Kaphiri found the experience exhilarating, doubly so because they’d taken it from a noble, most of whom he’d rather see floating face down in Belgrith Harbor.

Now that he’d shaken off his doldrums, Kaphiri introduced himself to Zerafina (Fina for short), as Blade and together they founded Fins.  The guild needed a base, so Kaphiri, while posing as Blade, posed as Forlini (this would prove to be a habit), bought a warehouse in Old Town, and set up Forlini & Sons as a front to hide guild activities.  It didn’t take long to attract others to the guild – the list of those with a grudge against those in power was a mile long.

The Fins specialized in performing tasks you couldn’t advertise for, at least not openly.  Marketing skills in their trade went opposite conventional wisdom.  Some jobs were guild sponsored, others were done for hire, but instead of seeking out business, the customers often found you.  It wasn’t at all difficult to find a Fin when you needed one – everybody knows someone who knows someone.  The Fins robbed, burgled and stole.  They conned, swindled and scammed.  They extorted, blackmailed and shook down.  They spied, fenced and smuggled.  Virtually everyone earning a living in defiance of the God-Emperor had some affiliation with the guild.  Street urchins looked to the guild for a roof and hot soup.  Streetwalkers expected protection, in exchange for a small cut.  Fences kept goods flowing in and out of the capitol and information brokers found it hard to keep up with demand.  Within two years, the Fins were at the heart of Sangrithar’s thriving black market economy.

Then the God-Emperor assassinated Cymara, Hali’s wife.  At Hali’s request, Kaphiri returned to the legions, cutting heavily into the time he had available for the guild, so Blade retired from active duty but retained a special emeritus status (very similar to the honor the University bestowed upon me when I gave up the department chair to take sabbatical in Pel Aesylle). Zerafina took over the day to day leadership.

Zerafina died in 4652, twenty years after she and Blade had formed the Fins.  She’d been running the show down at the warehouse for eighteen years by then and that arrangement had worked out exceedingly well, so Kaphiri decided to replace her.  He chose Demari, one of the original guild recruits.   When Demari came on board as guild second (that was the title Blade settled on), Blade did away with the identity of Forlini and replaced it with Rat, a new alter ego which allowed Blade to stay plugged into guild affairs without undermining Demari’s leadership.  This began a secret tradition in the guild.  Every time Blade introduced a new second, his current cover identity met with some tragic end and then the new second, who was in on the secret, would introduce a new cover identity to the guild members.

Below is a list of the guild seconds, from Zerafina to Tomello.

Year taking office Last Year in Office Name of Guild Second Blade’s Alias Notes
4632 4652 Zerafina Forlini With Blade, Zerafina co-founded the Fins and become second in 4634, after Kaphiri became adjutant to the Lord Warden.  She died while ambushing wagon trains loaded with silver from Thesselrod Barginali’s mines in the Hawkpeaks.
4652 4667 Demari Rat One of the original guild recruits, Demari knew Forlini’s secret identity before becoming second after Zerafina.  Demari was also special in that he retired, a guild rarity, and went to live out his remaining years in Cormane with his granddaughter.
4667 4671 Muldoon Blue The worst of Blade’s choices, Muldoon was very overwhelmed by the job.  Conventional wisdom holds that Muldoon was caught breaking into a villa by Averchai, though strange circumstances suggested to Blade that Muldoon might have faked his death and fled the capitol.
4671 4680 Bael Smoke Like Tomello, Bael was a child of the streets that Blue brought into the guild.  He was most famous for stealing the bell from the Temple of Umbar.  A known philanderer (which was not, contrary to popular opinion, a factor in his selection).  Bael died in a knife fight with a jealous husband.
4681 4686 Alanna The first female second after Zerafina, spunky Alanna reminded Blade of the guild co-founder.  Born in Jeheris on the far side of Fanar and trained as an houri, the rarest of sexual flowers, she arrived in the capitol as a slave, but escaped by fucking her master to death – he was old and his heart couldn’t take the strain.  She died accidentally when a Grush cart ran her over.
4686 4691 Kazinkas Patch Yet another foreigner, Kazinkas hailed from Endiron.  He was a very efficient administrator, not very inspirational as leaders go and died of the whooping cough.
4691 4699 Glory(f) Flame Also a woman, Glory was one the only seconds who came into the guild with a made reputation – as a teen, she’d won the Grush run.  She died in a storm at sea while on assignment.
4699 4708 Sindelar Hawk This second had Elvish blood in his family as evidenced by his pointy ears, which he kept hidden under a cap.  Think Spock in Star trek IV.  His Elven recuperative powers weren’t enough to stop him from bleeding out after getting stabbed in bar brawl.
4708 4723 Kaizal Marlin Kaizal enjoyed a long stint as guild second until Averchai captured him and brought him to Tintammil for the God-Emperor to question.  Kaizal had thought to talk his way out of trouble, but neither he or anybody else realized how tight the curse held Torval until he’d been reduced to a pile of blue ash, and by then, of course, it was too late.
4723 ???? Tomello Snake or Spider I suggest reading the stories Stripes and Snakes, to learn how Tomello came to power.

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