Dear readers, tonight with me are an acrobat turned burglar and a jaded former mercenary. They have been thrown together into an unexpected adventure involving deadly blades, subtle schemes, glittering treasures, dark sorceries and fell servants of forgotten gods. They are here to tell us about it, and of Fate’s sense of humour.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Trilisean: I grew up as a slave. I don’t know who my parents were, whether I was taken in a raid or sold as an infant or born to slaves. I have no idea what a normal childhood should have been. Eventually I learned I was being prepared to be sold as a concubine or to a brothel. So I escaped. I knew how to smile and put men at their ease, which was useful, and I knew dancing and etiquette, which would come in handy. I managed to join some traveling performers, learned to tumble and do sleight of hand and throw knives. When we made it to the big city, one of the leaders of the troupe got…presumptuous, so I ran away again. Knowing a bit about disguises and a lot about knives made it challenging for them to find me again. And made my living on the edges of polite society.
Conn: I grew up on a farm until the Jarvings invaded. I fought my first battle at thirteen. Then I spent a few years as a rebel until they finally beat us. I ran off to join a mercenary company, until I realized that I was just fighting for the glory and gain of the men at the top. Figured if we weren’t going back to liberate my homeland, I may as well fight for my own.
What do you do now?
Trilisean: I’m a thief. Don’t look at me like that. It’s true. I like the word “thief.” It’s honest. I’m a very good thief, and it’s hard to take pride in your profession if you won’t even say the word. Euphemisms make my eyes roll. “Acquisitions expert” sound like someone who works in a bank.
Conn: You’ve done some work in banks.
Trilisean: But never for banks. There are limits to my villainy.
Anyway, I can support myself picking pockets, but the bulk of my work is contract burglary. If somebody wants something stolen, word will come to me, and I’ll plan and execute the job. Quite a few come from a fence I know. People will talk to him about a thing they want, and he’ll pass that on to me, taking a cut for his services that he will lie to both me and the client about.
Conn: I’m along to carry heavy things, act as a lookout, and to deal with any guards she might have underestimated, including bloody demonic temple guardians that bleed fire. Just standard soldiering stuff, really.
Trilisean: That made us a lot of money, and you figured a way to defeat it. I had faith in you.
Conn: Aye, well, the prospect of a hideous death if I didn’t was quite the incentive to get creative.
Trilisean: You see? You get to expand your skills and challenge yourself an get paid for the privilege. I really think you should show a bit more gratitude for these experiences I’m opening for you.
Conn: I know I seldom lie awake in fear that I may die peacefully in my old age.
Trilisean: There you go.
Conn: And in between this one trying to get me killed, I run a fencing studio. Teaching swordsmanship and self defense in a city where that’s like to come in handy.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Conn: We did save the city.
Trilisean: Working at the request of the Watch.
Conn: Not the Watch officially. Just one sergeant.
Trilisean: But it’s still the law. And we didn’t get paid.
Conn: True enough. But at least we didn’t get any credit, either.
Trilisean: Well, that was a relief. And I got my lip split. I’m sure we agreed taking punches is your job.
Conn: But you did get to match wits with a criminal mastermind and come out on top. Expanding your skills and – what was it – challenging yourself and all.
Trilisean: That was nice.
Conn: And you managed to only give the good sergeant half of what he wanted and survived.
Trilisean: That was even nicer. What kind of criminal would I be if I let the Watch dictate terms? If I’m going to do that I may as well just get an honest job. That was just a lesson he had to learn. Still can’t buy much with gratitude. Even less with grudging gratitude.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
Conn: When I cut that blasted monster and it bled fire. Considering all I had to fight it with was a sword, that did cause me a moment of concern. If I were less courageous I’d say bladder emptying panic, but we heroes are only allowed moments of concern.
Trilisean: The thought that word we saved the city for free might get around and people would come to expect it. Seriously, I wake up in the middle of the night–
Conn: The day.
Trilisean: − in the middle of the day in a cold sweat at the memory.
What is the worst thing about the city of Laimrig?
Conn: The filth. The poverty. The fact that the powerful have let the place fall apart and done nothing but profit from it. Lots to pick from. Part of its charm, that is.
Trilisean: The people running it.
Trilisean: The slavers and crime lords and the nobility who aren’t any better. The powerful sit at the top and squeeze the poor for what little they have. There is far too much wealth concentrated in the hands of a few.
I like to think we’re doing our poor best to remedy that.
What is the best thing about it?
Trilisean: The freedom. The crowds. The fact that you can hear a dozen languages and eat food from a dozen nations and drink wine from half a world away. That you can vanish into the background and have your secrets. In a city of a hundred thousand perhaps a dozen people will know you by sight if you want to keep it that way. Fewer will know you well. In a town of a hundred people, ninety nine will know what you ate for breakfast before you’ve cleaned the plate.
Conn: Must make it difficult to earn a dishonest living out in the country.
Trilisean: Only to earn it by skill and cunning. You can always earn a dishonest living by brute force, or unscrupulous politics. Some of the world’s biggest criminals are rural gentry and small town officials.
Conn: Ah but sure they’ve not got your style.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Trilisean: Fayl is a fence. Well, to the world at large, he’s a pawnbroker, but he’s been known to clean stolen goods. And he’s the kind of man people will go to when looking for specific items. And he will sometimes pass along a tip to a skilled thief. He’s crooked as a tenement crossbeam, but he’s discreet and he knows that keeping his clients’ secrets is the backbone of his business. He’ll skim on the fee, and he’ll overstate his expenses, but he won’t sell you out. Eolas is a loremaster with a library of obscure knowledge. And there are a legion of urchins and streetrats who will carry messages or tail somebody for a few pennies.
Conn: Some of them can steal the currents out of a pastry while you’re eating it.
Trilisean: I know. Makes me proud to see such initiative from young people these days.
Conn: I have an apprentice at my fencing studio whose a good lad, so long as I can keep him from running off and joining a mercenary company. And Sergeant Niath of the Watch is… well, an ally of convenience at times. He’s honest by Watch standards. Can’t be bribed and can look the other way at a small crime if it helps him stop a big one.
I won’t call him a friend, but we share a level professional respect.
Any romantic involvement?
Trilisean: Nothing serious.
Conn: What happened to that minstrel?
Trilisean: He proved less than faithful. Pity really. Man had a silver tongue.
Conn: Knew he played the lute. Didn’t know he sang.
Trilisean: Never said he did. You still seeing that barmaid?
Conn: Depends. Which barmaid do you remember?
Trilisean: So, no. Nothing serious. Anyone who could be a real romantic partner would have to be someone I could trust.
Conn: Somebody who would have your back. But who could still make your heart beat faster.
Trilisean: Who really understands you.
Conn: Can finish your sentences.
Trilisean: So no luck so far.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Trilisean: I have a particular hatred for the slavers. For obvious reasons. But for anyone who wants to control people. To use wealth or power or position for that.
Conn: For me it’s the Jarvings. When I joined the Free Companies, I did it with the hope we’d go back and drive them out of my island, but it wasn’t to be. Part of the reason I left.
Trilisean: We did foil their plot to retrieve an ancient talisman that they could have used to expand their conquests.
Conn: Aye. True enough. And my thanks for helping me out on that one.
Trilisean: It’s not like I didn’t owe you one
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Trilisean: Good, full bodied red wine. Good food. The feel of a new pair of soft leather boots. Seeing the latest play. I prefer dark colors. Deep purples and blues mostly. Good for blending into the night. Black is too stark.
Conn: A good dark ale. After so long in the infantry, I’m happy with any meat that’s not salted and dried, any bread that isn’t hard tack. I like green since it reminds me of my home island, unlike all the gray in this city, and I enjoy sparring. The excitement of swordplay without anybody getting cut. That and anything you can do in a pub.
What does the future hold for you?
Trilisean: More and bigger scores.
Conn: I’d still like to own a pub someday.
Trilisean: Just don’t let yourself drink on credit.
Patrick LeClerc makes good use of his history degree by working as a paramedic for an ever-changing parade of ambulance companies in the Northern suburbs of Boston. When not writing he enjoys cooking, fencing and making witty, insightful remarks with career-limiting candor. In the lulls between runs on the ambulance — and sometimes the lulls between employment at various ambulance companies — he writes fiction.
You can find Trilisean Conn on the pages of Broken Crossroads.
Keep an eye out for further mid-week SPFBO fantasy specials! Join us this Friday to meet an ancient goddess, because ancient myths are true and the gods are getting ready for war. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.