Somebody Told Me [Complete]

((OOC 3rd Draconis 9;50 Dragon, Denerim ))

The Townhouse was one of the most expensive in the city. It not only overlooked the cities merchant district and port, but it was a statement a statement of a young man made good. Well, fifteen years ago he was a young man, naive to the ways the big city really rolled, and in fifteen years he had gone from minor league to the undisputed crime lord of Denerim. Attending all the lavish parties and functions, thieves who came here did so as long as they played by his rules, and Scarlett's of course, he got a large cut of the profits, then Scarlett as head of the Thieves guild got her cut, and if they complained well, the Amaranthine Ocean had things swimming in it that made sure no bodies were ever found. All that changed when Callum Kennedy lost his family. Elements of the Merchant Guild in Amaranthine ended his family in a fire that killed everyone inside. No one was ever charged and Callum spent years finding those responsible and when he had, he did worse than kill them or bankrupt them. The ringleaders he captured then, made them watch as he loaded thier families onto Pirate ships, no amount of pleading on thier part worked, he sold thier wives and children or husbands into slavery, and he made it clear to the Pirates that they could do what they wanted when they wanted. Palms were greased of course and investigations conveniently came to a dead end. He took their business and when he was done with that he had them dropped into the Ocean far far from Fereldens shores. After that he never looked back and a ruthlessness he had never fully believed he possessed came to the fore, and slowly but surely he climbed his way to the top of the Denerim food chain. Nothing was off limits to him, sex, drugs and slavery, it all made him a wealthy man. 

Now he was sitting in his study looking at a strange artifact that had come his way. It was beautifully wrought and the fence that brought it to him knew it too. "Where did it come from?" He asked not touching it for the moment and keeping his face poker straight. 

"It came from an archaeologists home Mr Kennedy. I know you like pretty things for your own collection." The man was a Weasley looking man, thin nose, even thinner face. 

"I suppose it'll do." He reached into his draw and took a small pouch out and glanced at the object then at the fence and counted some gold into his hand "Doors that way

The fence looked at the gold was about to protest when he saw the guard Gregor Stand straighter He bowed his head quickly and hurried out. "What is it?" That was Annie the captain of his guard. 

Callum picked it up and moved it around in the light "It's a statue of one of the old gods of Tevinter." He looked at the artwork "I believe this is Lusacan the Dragon of night. Rare indeed." He whispered in awe.

"Worth much?" That was Gregor. 

"Priceless." Callum muttered "Ok time to go greet the masses i suppose, Why did i get roped into hosting the annual Merchants dinner?

"It was Scarlett's idea." Annie said smirking "There will be Orleasians present and Antivans." 

"Of course it was. Well, shall we go.

When the giant of a man walked into the ball held in his ballroom with all manners of food from across Thedas on offer, a place where business could be conducted the businessman mask rose up to the front. Callum might be the undisputed kingpin of Denerim but he preferred it when noone made the connection. "Welcome one and all, conduct your business within these walls, but most of all enjoy" He took the wine that was given him and went to stand in his place that he always stood. watching the room and seeing what business would come his way once more. He lit a cigar and remained where he was, these things bored him. 


The Annual Merchant's Dinner hosted by Callum Kennedy in Denerim was renowned throughout Ferelden - and even a few further afar countries. Something which puzzled James Terrell given that the man he had been tracking for the last two weeks had achieved direct entry into the Kennedy estate. There was no way that the man was anywhere near the calibre required to gain an invitation. So what was he doing there?

Pressing his lips together, James hummed his confusion beneath his breath, eyeing the exterior of the house. He knew nothing of guard rotation or other security measures; it was too dangerous to try and gain entry through subversive means. No, he was going to have to fake it.

Grinning widely, he spun away from the estate, racing through the streets. In each city across Ferelden and the Free Marches, he had some form of contact who could offer this assistance in his madcap schemes. Denerim was no different. Within an hour, James was dressed in the finery befitting the nobility which did actually run in his veins, son of the former-Bann-but-now-Arlessa of Amaranthine. Still, he wasn't attending as himself, preferring to take on the identity of a Free Marcher trader. Not entirely a lie; he did do a considerable amount of trade in the Marches, but not the type which could be scaled upwards into a business.

Returning to the estate, James was just in time to glimpse his mark. But he realised from the gait of the man that he had already passed off the figurine. So now James just had an entire estate and few hundred guests to scope out. Easy! He should be done by midnight and then he could head for Amaranthine City to visit his family. Perfect!

Buoyed by his endless optimism, James entered into the house just as he heard Callum Kennedy announce: "Welcome one and all, conduct your business within these walls, but most of all enjoy."

James had met Callum when he was only five years old. He had mistaken the tall man for a giant and had been utterly spell-bound as the merchant played along with his imaginings. Their acquaintance had fizzled out once Callum moved entirely from Amaranthine. Something to do with a tragic end to his family. Still, James had warm memories of the man, but that would only impede his current task. Instead, he had to find that figurine.

He began moving between the guests but something odd caught his eye. Here and there he caught glimpses of... people who were less than savoury. Oh, they put up a good front, but he knew from his own wheeling and dealing that they were all crooks. He had experienced a number of close encounters with a handful. Abruptly, he retreated towards a quieter corner, lingering on the outside of a group who were listening intently to some pretend adventurer who was definitely embellishing his achievements. James had visited the very same place and did not recall a twin-headed fire breathing dragon. But it helped to obscure him from notice while he figured out his next move.
The thing about being rich and influential is that everyone wanted to be your friend. Everyone from Teryns to Arls to Bann's and some had suggested that he should romance the Queen, the person that gave him that suggestion had been the previous crime lord. They still hadn't found the body, only he and Scarlett knew where that body lay it was insurance for both of them. They didn't like each other but they respected each other, sometimes that was enough. It also meant there would be repercussions if anything were to happen to the other by eithers hand. Callum had quite an eye for the ladies and he certainly was not going to be the toy boy for woman who had been as barren as the blightlands, if rumours were to be believed. 

He turned as some woman giggled near his ear and bending his head, he listened to her, somewhat interesting proposition but he declined. He had plans for tonight and it didn't involve some down on thier luck Bann's daughter, really the ladies at the Pearl had more class, at least they were honest about what they did for a living. Excusing himself he took the drink the waiter offered him, made just for him and began to walk around the hall. There were those who tried to get his attention but his attention was not on them. 

It was on a well dressed young man trying to look inconspicuous which by the very nature of it, made him stand out like a virgin at a Pirates party. Callum made his way to a chair and sat himself down, listening to the banter around him. The boy...no young man, looked familiar something about him tingled something in the back of his mind. A memory maybe? he wasn't sure. He turned his dark soulless green eyes on the young man and made no secret of the fact he was watching him. There was something....he ran his gaze over him and after a while he got up and left the hall. He would have to return but for the moment he wanted to see if his thoughts were correct. Walking into his study he took the figurine and carried down to his own private collection. Opened a glass case and set it inside before closing it again. 

Years ago, his training as it were was in this very act He made himself comfortable in a darkened Alcove and waited. 

If that was who he thought it was, then A: the boy had indeed come a long way from climbing rooftops, and B: he was after something in the house.  "Come on James," he muttered to himself "Lets see how clever you are."  years ago, 15 to be exact he had attended a merchants dinner in Amaranthine, and befriended the Bann...no the Arlessa now, the Arlessa's son. 

The lad had thought he was a giant and Callum had happily played along even became a bit of a hero when he saved a guard from a kicking.  Of course things changed and when Callum was next in Amaranthine, it was to lay his family to rest and, start dealing with those that were responsible. He rarely did business in that city anymore, the business there was overseen by someone who had proved thier loyalty to him, he just didn't go there anymore. Then again after that he had gained control of a number of business's in Amaranthines Merchant District, a deal worked out with Micah and the rest as they say was a pouring gold mine. Still, the memory of a young boy believing him to be a Giant called...what was it now? oh yes Usmir Fire Hair, did cause a rare smile to cross the now 40 year old Callums face.  it vanished as soon as it had appeared. Now he waited.  
Win some, lose some. It soon became apparent to James that his efforts to conceal himself had, in fact, done precisely the opposite. Even though he made no acknowledgement of the attention, he knew that Callum was watching him closely, even going so far as to literally sit down nearby and try to stare him out. Please, had Callum never met Delilah Terrell? If James could (just) withstand a staring down from his mother, he was not going to crumple under the frankly amateur-by-comparison merchant!

Something was strange, though. Although it had been many years since James had met Callum, he did not remember feeling as he did now in the other man's presence. Something deep inside, the instincts on which he depended, told him that he was in danger. Added to the fact that there was definite crooks amongst the guest list, James could guess that there had been as many changes for Callum Kennedy as there had been for himself.

All of which pointed to the very likely scenario that it was Callum himself who had received the figurine. Brilliant, James thought to himself, swallowing a groan. Obviously the Maker had decided that his recent jobs had been far too easy. Still, hanging around in the ballroom wasn't going to achieve anything.

Abandoning the party, James snuck through the house, using his sharp eye and clever wits to work out the layout of the house. The figurine had only just been handed off so must still be in the house. Given Callum's reputation, he would not receive someone casually, which meant that James had to locate the study. Easy!... were it not for the sheer size of this town house. Regardless, he moved swiftly enough, amending his mental map, until he... almost ran into Callum himself.

Holding his breath, James froze behind a large cabinet, watching as Callum departed from his study (ha, he had been right!) and walked through the hallways to elsewhere. He glimpsed the figurine in the other man's hands. Cursing his too-slow search, James followed at a distance, but stopped when Callum entered a new room. He waited but it became obvious that the man wasn't coming back out. 

"Oh great, a trap," James muttered to himself, trying not to sigh. What had he done to upset his usual good luck? Regardless, he had no option: he needed that figurine.

What was the best way to evade a trap? An idea struck him. Whether it would work or not, he had no idea, but the pair of them could hardly sit around waiting the other out all night. 

So, with all the confidence he had ever possessed, James sauntered straight into the room. "Good evening, Mr Kennedy," he greeted his opponent, taking a moment before catching the silhouette of the man sitting in a darkened alcove. "Party's downstairs, you know."
"Good evening, Mr Kennedy, Party's downstairs, you know."

Callum took a moment to appreciate the sneakiness of the kid, before he tossed the cat and mouse game aside for now. He sat forward and let James see his face, whilst taking in the young mans appearance. He had certainly grown into a handsome man and, despite his own reputation, Callum had never moved in on Albert Terrell's business. these days he didn't give a nugs ass about titles but he had respected Delilah and he had a fondness for James. The boy may have looked like his father but he was a Howe alright. 

Callum arched an eyebrow he wasn't going to let the boy think he had got away with something, after all, he was trespassing after a fashion and he could, if he so choose have him thrown in Drakkons. 

"I know where the party is Lord Terrell." He began and rose from his seat. he motioned to the guard that was patrolling the corridors and the poor man looked like he was about to drop dead of a heart attack.  "You want to tell me why a trespasser managed to walk around my house without one of you seeing him?

"I - I ...." The guard blustered but fell silent under his masters withering gaze. 

Callums look told the guard he was in a world of trouble and the poor man resigned himself to the fact he was probably going to be meeting the Maker sooner than he thought. Leaving the poor man standing there Callum returned his attention to the young man. 

"So the Maker it seems has a sense of humour, not only do i find i have a gatecrasher in my home, but one who who is also skulking around my home. Give me one good reason why i shouldn't call the city watch and have you thrown in the cells for a night My Lord?" Callum saw where James's gaze flickered and rolled his eyes, if that little shit of a fence had sold him something stolen from Delilah Howes residence he was going to do more than make him swim with the fishes. "Well?" he asked "What do are you after James?

it was pretty obvious what James was after, but what interested Callum more, was why the boy would want it, it wasn't as if he could display it anywhere that would not have him carry the wrath of the chantry on his head, or his esteemed mother's. 
Leaning forward from his obscured position in the alcove, Callum eyed James in a manner not terribly different to a wyvern eyeing a tasty nug who had wandered into its den. The older man raised a brow in response to James' (rather witty) remark.

"I know where the party is Lord Terrell."

"James," James helpfully corrected, regardless of the current circumstances. "Sometimes Jim, but never in my mother's hearing. Never Jimmy, at least not in my hearing. Probably best to just leave it at 'James', to be honest."

Ignoring him, Callum gestured to the guard who James had ably evaded through his search of the house. Upon hearing that the poor guard was going to bare the brunt of James' sneakiness, he spoke up to defend the man. "It's not his fault," he argued, though Callum continued to ignore him. "I'm good at what I do. You wouldn't chastise an assassin for being outplayed by..." He searched for a suitable comparison, aware any leniency depended on it. "The Left Hand of the Divine!" Sometimes, people were just outclassed. No one needed to die over it.

If Callum was going to change his mind, it wasn't going to be in front of James. With the guard summarily dismissed, the older man turned around to face James, looking about as happy as... well, a man who had caught a thief red-handed. Of course, James wasn't a thief; he was a 'redistributor of goods', namely those that had been stolen from people who could pay vast fortunes for them to be returned.

"So the Maker it seems has a sense of humour, not only do i find i have a gatecrasher in my home, but one who who is also skulking around my home. Give me one good reason why i shouldn't call the city watch and have you thrown in the cells for a night My Lord?"

"James," he corrected, again. Really, was it so hard? Maybe Callum had bumped his head one too many times. As to why he was here, the young man allowed his gaze to drift towards the figurine, now beautifully displayed in an expensive glass case.

"Well?" Callum pressed, amidst another roll of his eyes. "What do are you after James?"

"James; exactly!" He beamed, pleased to have finally cleared up that little misunderstanding. "But please, summon the City Guard if you prefer. I have papers which will fully outline my purpose here." He moved across to a nearby chair and sat down, leaning forward slightly with his forearms resting against his knees, hands loosely clasped between his legs. He looked for all the world as an eager young man, totally oblivious to the circumstances. Only one of those was true.

"Or." He leant back and clicked his fingers, as though the thought has just drifted through his very handsome head. "Or we could dispense with the posturing and threats and," he dazzled Callum with another smile, "discuss the immediate issue: our contrary intentions for that," he pointed towards the specific figurine to prevent any opportunities for misunderstanding, "priceless artwork depicting Lusacan, Dragon of Night." Angling his head, he regarded Callum, a bright intelligent spark in his eyes. "Supposedly due to rise with the Sixth Blight. Unless you're one of those who consider Razikale to be the next." He shook his head, chuckling beneath his breath. "But really, who actually believes Razzy will be next?"
Callum ignored any and all references to his junior Lordship being called anything but James, until the end, and, what a surprise, the boy seemed to have lost none of that adventurous, or cheeky, exterior. Hidden by the slight shadow across his face, Callum allowed a rare, genuine smile half turn his lip, before it faded once more. Once James outlined what he was after. Only two other people ever saw Callum genuinely smile, and they were not here. One was his lover of ten years, a Rivani Pirate Queen and thier six year old daughter, who stayed with her mother most the time when she was at sea.  Callum was very protective over his family, and he didn't want to chance the arm that someone he had wronged would take it out on them, not that his lover couldn't take care of herself but his daughter, well she was a different kettle of fish, if anything happened to them, well he would burn the entire city to the ground if he had to. 

James's voice broke into his thoughts, did the boy never shut up? oh yeah right he did ask. 

"James; exactly" There was that beam that Callum remembered "But please, summon the City Guard if you prefer. I have papers which will fully outline my purpose here."


Callum watched as James made use of a chair and sat rather casually for one who had just been caught skulking through someone else'e home, the boy had balls he'd give him that. 


"Or." Ah, there was the cocky streak, the snap of the fingers as if he had just thought of something no one else had. "Or we could dispense with the posturing and threats and," Callum remained poker faced, he hadn't threatened him, yet...so the dazzling smile was better of directed at someone else, like his mother if had been caught in some young maidens arms. Had to admit though, the boy would go far with a grin like that.  "discuss the immediate issue: our contrary intentions for that, priceless artwork depicting Lusacan, Dragon of Night." 

Callum followed his gaze once more and lent against the pillar, still regarding the kid with eyes that a Phoenix might regard them with, before it spat on them and ate them and still saying nothing. Now he knew what James was definatly here for, 

"Supposedly due to rise with the Sixth Blight. Unless you're one of those who consider Razikale to be the next." James  shook his head, chuckling beneath his breath. "But really, who actually believes Razzy will be next?" James concluded. 

"That would depend on which old god you worshipped i suppose." Callum finally said and stood straighter "It's not for sale," Callum lit a cigar and let the thick smoke go through his nose.  The crime lord rolled one of his shoulders. he had no intentions of letting this out of his hands. He had a vast collection of Old God artifacts, all he needed now was something of Razikale and something of Dumat and he would have a complete collection.  An ex Tevinter lover of his got him interested in these sort of artifacts, things didn't got as she planned when he not only caught her in bed with the merchant he was doing business with but trying to steal some business holdings of his. The same could be said of him he supposed, accumulating the wealth he had in the way he had, but that didn't come into it.

They said the Assassins and the Thieves heard the screams well into the night and it wasn't anything that would give them dirty grins on thier faces. More like terror and walking very quickly in the opposite direction. There was another reason Callum did not go into Amaranthine, the Magistrate that had been charged with handling the murder of his family was, on the take from said merchants. The last time Callum went into Amaranthine he had the magistrate and his wife and daughter taken to a wharf between the Vigil and West Hill. there he sold the daughter into slavery and locked the magistrate and his wife into the cabin, and had a mage in his employ, burn the place to the ground with them in it. Whatever good had been in him died that night.  He recalled the words the Arlessa had said to him at his families funerals and it was those words that stopped him breaking the kids neck there and then. 

"Out of respect for your mother, and for the Fun night at the merchants dinner so many years ago, you can leave." Callum told him "If i were you I'd take this offer James, its the only one you are going to get." Callum opened the door and yelled for the hapless guard "Escort his Lordship out of my home, see if you can do that properly!" Callum held the door open "Goodnight Your Lordship.



"That would depend on which old god you worshipped i suppose," Callum observed, deadpan. He lit something which smelled foul and James made a face, turning away from the drifting smoke. Callum, however, was unperturbed. He shrugged and added, "It's not for sale."

That was handy since James had no intention of exchanging coin for it. In fact, at no point had he suggested that he intended to purchase the figurine, but that was a merchant for you. Always trying to eke out a profit even when no sale was suggested.

"Out of respect for your mother," surprising given that James had not traded on his mother's title or connections for, oh, at least six years, "and for the fun night at the merchants dinner so many years ago, you can leave." How gracious. James inclined his head in a polite nod, acknowledging the favour which Callum thought he was bestowing. Just because James did not view it as a favour did not mean he had to be rude about it. "If i were you I'd take this offer James, its the only one you are going to get."

Again, merchants and trying to imply a deal was time-sensitive or exclusive. As if James not the son of a merchant himself! True, Albert Terrell kept his business nice and legal, most definitely not how Callum evidently traded, but that didn't mean Albert was any less clever about his approach than Callum. What mattered was creating the sense of urgency that required an immediate answer; it was designed to put the buyer under pressure.

Moving to the door, Callum pulled it open and called for the guard. Now, were James that same guard, he would have skedaddled out of here and into the sunset about ten minutes ago, but the big oaf was still lumbering around waiting to be sentenced to an unfair death. Clearly Callum did not pay enough to secure brains in his guards. That was helpful... for James, at least.

"Escort his Lordship--"

"James," he interrupted with a sigh. Really, was it so difficult? Anyway, he no longer lived with his mother and held no title of his own, so technically it was incorrect to address him as such. Abigail was the one likely to inherit their mother's governance of Amaranthine.

"--out of my home, see if you can do that properly!" Turning, Callum held the door open for James. "Goodnight Your Lordship."

"James." This was going to become a point of contention between them. It was sheer stubbornness on the older man's part to insist on not using his name. Still, James rose from his chair and strode from the room, joining the side of the still-quaking guard. "A pleasure to reacquaint ourselves, Mr Kennedy. Maker's blessings on your future endeavours." He gave a small salute before following after the guard.

Diligently, James allowed the guard to escort him out of the estate, even allowing the man to forcibly shove him out of the gate. With the clang of the gate ringing out in the night, James carried on his way down the street, hands in his pocket as he strutted away. Once out of line of sight, he abruptly turned and scaled one of the buildings on the opposite side of the street, taking a perch on the roof to observe the exterior of the townhouse. It was now a point of honour - and decidedly not his mother's - that James retrieve the figurine. Void, he might even offer a refund on the fee he had charged. Satisfaction was its own reward, after all.

***

A week later and James was far better prepared. He had been diligent in his plans: obtaining reports, floor plans, guard rotations, food deliveries. There could not be anyone in Callum Kennedy's household who had a better overview of the comings and goings of the household. Maybe James should give up all this adventuring and hire himself out as a seneschal. 

Nah, he would get too bored too easily.

For now though, the challenge of securing the figurine was sufficient to capture James' attention. It had become evident within two days that the Callum Kennedy he recalled from his childhood was no more. This new Callum Kennedy was involved in all manner of illegal circles but had the reputation and reach to ensure no one acted on it. Well, that wasn't really any of James' business; he only wanted the figurine. Why it was important, however, was to emphasise how carefully he had to plan. He did not imagine he would be politely escorted from the townhouse a second time. So, that meant either not getting caught or having several fool-proof escape plans. James opted to do both: not get caught and have Plans B, C, D through to Z.

Step one was to gain entry to the house. Not entrusting anyone else, James ambushed the regular food delivery driver early in the morning, binding and gagging him before rolling him into an abandoned house. He took up the pony and trap, encouraging the creature to move on as he adopted the role of the man. It worked: he gained entry into the townhouse with only a cursory glance, the fact that the delivery was expected and in itself containing no surprising additions meaning that the guard's suspicions were not raised. 

Hefting a half-sack of grain over his shoulders, James made for the kitchens. Step one: complete. Onto step two!
Many merchants would have been satisfied that queries into thier "not for sale" goods, had been dealt with. However most merchants were not like Callum, and Callum had not been idle. He had checked out through various contacts about what James had been upto, and, the very brief encounter, with him had actually told him more than he let on. The hapless guard had been demoted down to patrolling the warehouse, and he had dealt with, other areas of interest including a pipeweed distribution that had a few sailors in the whore houses along the waterfront so off thier faces it was easy for the cut purses to do thier work and the whores to do theirs.

Callum however knew that James would not give up, according to  his information, he was a tenacious little Sonofabitch who never gave up. Which meant, he would try to get his hands on the statute again, question was when? and more importantly how? After the dinner party he had left and gone to a small village between Denerim and what remained of Lothering. That cursed village had gone boom during the mage uprising and the old site was still uninhabitable. The Blight had a horrible way of lingering even when it was over and Callum had lost count over the years of the horror stories of livestock there born with two heads or mutated births of babies. But, this village Couslands Hope, had been named for the Hero of Ferelden in the months following the Blight. Why they would want to name a village after the conceited bastard was anyone's guess but, there was metalworker here that Callum used on occassions. He had gone to see this crafter and presented him with the priceless artifact. 

"I want you to make an exact copy of that." He had said and paid a hefty amount for it, "Then i want that," he pointed to the statue "melted down and set as a necklace with the jewels around a dragon carving, think you can do that?

The artisan almost balked when the merchant lord made his request, it seemed to be a sin to melt down such a beautiful piece of work, but his was not to wonder why. and whilst the lord made himself comfy in the village inn, he set to work. Now back at home Callum looked over the copy, it was a remarkable piece of work, exact in every detail, he had been so impressed that he had paid extra on top. He set the statue back in its case and walked to his room. it was a good job he knew everyone that came and went to the house he had too really. There were elements of Thedas's criminal fraternity that would love to have his head on a pike, none succeeded but he was not without his scars from such encounters. So when he noticed one of the delievery boys looked a little different to the usual he drummed his fingers against the window frame. 

"Clever boy!" he murmured. "Alright Master Terrell, lets see how far you go with this shall we?" he turned to the master of his vessel Moira's Tears and handed him the box with the necklace in it "You know where to take this?" he asked. 

"Yes Lord she will be waiting in the usual place." 

"Good,"

"Any message Ser?

"None that i care to relay verbally." The Captain left and Callum began to make plans for catching the mouse in his house. 

He knew that everything had to be as normal and no doubt the lad had scooped the house out while he had been away. So, he made no changes to the guard rotations, he made no changes at all, just kept everything as he would normally have it. except for one thing. He had two of Scarlett's best thieves, Peaky and Blinder infiltrate the staff, told them what he suspected and told them to do nothing until he was ready for them.  Now with the "statue" in its case he flipped the lights off and went to his meetings. However, he did have the gates and doors locked and bolted. If James was going to get out...it was a long drop down. 

Having gained unchallenged entry into the townhouse, James swiftly slipped from the similar clothing of the delivery driver, revealing the non-descript plain clothes of serving staff beneath. There was no way that Callum and his temper - as proven by his behaviour towards the guard - did not have a frequent turn-over of staff. It should help to buy James a little time.

However, despite the fact that his face was 'new', he noticed one man in particular take keen interest in him as he passed by. Oh, so there were spies within the serving staff themselves? Well, that was problematic but not unexpected.

Judging that his presence was swiftly being reported throughout Callum's spy and security network, James jumped from Plan A to Plan L: he ditched any ideas to gain slow access to the private showroom, and instead focused on getting there as quickly (but discreetly) as possible. He soon gained access to the very door he sought, using his skills to disable the lock.

Once inside the room, everything looked exactly as it had a week ago. That in itself was suspicious. There was no way that James being caught would not have prompted some response from Callum, no matter how confident he might feel in his influence and power. All of which told James to be wary of the figurine itself. Picking another lock on the glass cabinet, he reached out and picked it up, taking precious moments to examine it closely. The weight of it, the look of it... all appeared to be as it should. But something niggled.

He brought the figurine to his mouth and licked it. Yeurgh. Yup, that was not the original artefact. Ancient Tevinter metal had a distinctive taste that could not be replicated. Carefully, he replaced the fake figurine, no longer interested in taking it. What he was interested in, however, was where in the Void was the original? Great, he'd skipped ahead to Plan X. There weren't many plans after this one!

Huffing beneath his breath, James retreated to the door. Yet when he opened it, it was to reveal not only the man whom he had observed paying close attention, but he had brought a friend. Maker's breath, Plan Y! 

"Morning, gents," James tipped his non-existent hat. "Best take me to Mr Kennedy straight away. Looks like he's won again." As if, but James needed to buy himself time, not to mention some answers. He had a horrible sense that the original figurine might... not be a figurine anymore. A genuine wave of anguish washed over him. Who would do that to a beautiful piece of history? 
"Morning, gents. Best take me to Mr Kennedy straight away. Looks like he's won again."

Peaky and Blinder, not thier real named but nicknames that the boss lady had given them years ago, stepped to one side, Peaky swept his hand out in front of him in a mockery of a bow and both men walked either side of James. Not to the office as one might expect but to an ornately decorated lounge where a butler inclined his head and offered James, Tea or Coffee. Once that was decided he was led to a large dining room where he was shown to a seat and asked what he would like for breakfast? Shortly after Callum came in and took his seat. 

"Master Callum?" 

"Ham and Eggs and some tomatoes i think, thankyou Hudson." Callum waited until his breakfast was set before him  "Well, eat up young Master Terrell," he gave James a quick smile "Must be hungry work finding out ways and means to get into my house without anyone seeing you. if it had been anyone else you would have succeeded, but i did a little homework after our last encounter." Cal cut some ham and egg, put some tomato on it and put them in his mouth. He sniffed a little "You remind me of that man in a boys adventure stories Tomb Rimmerstone or something, always going where no man has gone before and coming out with the prize." Cal picked his cup up and sipped his tea. "Well this is one you won't win. I will of course reimburse you for all your wasted effort and energy."  Cal ate some more ham and egg and looked at his butler "Tell Mrs Hedges she has surpassed herself this time


Callum set his knife and fork down and sat back in his seat, he had been whispered at to dispose of the young man, apparently his meddling in affairs of those in Orlais and the Marches had left many out of pocket, especially when the statue or art they had brought had mysteriously found its way back to thier owners. Callum had told them to piss off, he could have had James murdered but two things stayed his hand and his order. One this was the son of the Arlessa of Amranthine. the only daughter of former disgraced Rendon Howe, and no one screwed with her or her family, her reach was far and wide, and even Micah who ran Amaranthine knew better then to cross swords with that woman, if the Orleasians or Antivans thought they could take her out, well even Callum would be there avenging her he liked Delilah, and two....he actually liked the lad. it took gumption and guts to do what he did. "Now, obviously what you seek is no longer here, else you would have probably been long gone by now, clever man like you." Callum acknowledged the lads bright nature "Anything you want to know?
With the two goons actually acting like gentlemen, James was escorted through the townhouse to a completely different room than before. This was a well-decorated room, filled with tasteful furniture and clearly intended for comfort. A manservant greeted James' entry, offering a beverage. He politely declined. Then on through to a second room, this one intended for dining, and he was asked about breakfast. Again, he politely declined.

Callum arrived shortly afterwards. "Ham and Eggs and some tomatoes i think, thankyou Hudson." He gave his breakfast order and then they waited. Despite his refusal, James found a plate of food set before him. He had no intention of eating it and sat back in his chair, hands folded lightly in his lap.

"Well, eat up young Master Terrell," Callum encouraged, all friendly-like. James offered a third polite refusal. "Must be hungry work finding out ways and means to get into my house without anyone seeing you." Not hungry enough work to eat from the very house he had scoped out for a week. "If it had been anyone else you would have succeeded, but i did a little homework after our last encounter." Well, that was to be expected. "You remind me of that man in a boys adventure stories Tomb Rimmerstone or something, always going where no man has gone before and coming out with the prize." That did sound rather like him, didn't it?

Callum took a sip from his cup. "Well this is one you won't win. I will of course reimburse you for all your wasted effort and energy." He took another bite before addressing the manservant. "Tell Mrs Hedges she has surpassed herself this time."

James waited for the real discussions to begin. He was not interested in breaking contracts; he had negotiated an agreement with his employers and he would complete it to the best of his ability. If his hunch that the genuine figurine no longer existed in its rightful form, he would report back with that news and accept the hit to his pocket. He was not a common thug available to the highest bidder; this was his business.

"Now, obviously what you seek is no longer here, else you would have probably been long gone by now, clever man like you." Clever enough to know when he was being seized up. James lifted a questioning brow, inviting whatever further remark Callum wished to make. "Anything you want to know?"

"Not especially," James shook his head, shining another dazzling smile at the older man. "Although your blacksmith might want to know that Tevinter metals can't be convincingly replicated in south Thedas. None of our mines have the same kind of rock composition as in the Imperium." He rolled his shoulders in a light shrug. "Not a problem for most run-of-the-mill collectors, but a definite problem for the circles we," he inclined his head towards Callum, "operate in."

His mind raced with possible next steps. He still had Plan Y and Z to execute if necessary, but perhaps he could rehash Plans L through X. All had elements which might be useful depending on how Callum proceeded. And, after all, unless James had somehow uncovered the very handy trick of transporting between places, there was only a limited set of options available to him.

"Although I am curious why you would defile your collection like that. The figurine was unique; your collection will always be one short."
"Not especially, Although your blacksmith might want to know that Tevinter metals can't be convincingly replicated in south Thedas. None of our mines have the same kind of rock composition as in the Imperium." He rolled his shoulders in a light shrug. "Not a problem for most run-of-the-mill collectors, but a definite problem for the circles we," he inclined his head towards Callum, "operate in."

"And, what, pray tell Master Terrell," Callum slowly asked "are those circle that you think we operate in?

Maybe Callum had slightly underestimated the young man, even so, even if he hadn't it was unsettling to think he might have garnered enough information that might cause him to have, some slight problems. Even so, he kept his face, poker straight, an slightly arched eyebrow the only indication that he was remotely interested in what James had to say. 

"Although I am curious why you would defile your collection like that. The figurine was unique; your collection will always be one short."

"Who said i only had one?" Callum grimly spoke and sat back in his seat, "A true collector always gets two of each, and both of them are, far out of your reach." Callum held the young mans gaze for a moment. 

It was true enough, he had owned two figurines of the lord of night, one he had wanted for his own collection that he had also acquired through..nefarious means, the second would soon be around his lovers neck. The silence stretched for a moment and Callum began to laugh a little "Don't worry young sir. i am sure whomever your client was will soon forget about it, there are relics all over from the ancient years, if you know where to look." and Callum knew where to look. 

Callum respected the young man tenacity though, but he was also going to have to decide what to do with him.  Rising from his seat he pulled his shirt down a little and moved into the lounge, beckoning James to follow him "As for why i did it, well you don't need to know the ins and outs. just know that a happy wife means a happy life.and if my wife is happy so is my daughter. he thought more to himself.  He would give anything to his wife and child, but his child could be a spoilt brat when so disposed. 

He took a key from his pocket and unlocked a desk draw and removed some scrolls. reading the side he put the others back and closed the draw locking it. then crossed to the table and rolled out the map he had selected setting paperweights in the corner. "I believe this was an old slave community in the Dragons Peak Mountain's. Mines so vast and deep noone has excavated them yet, darkspawn and all that, but this was from a time before that. I expect there will be goods a plenty for those who seek such rare relics." He glanced at James "yours if you want it, but cease your search for that which you will not find. I have much respect for you James, but even that will eventually grow bothersome. and that i do not want to happen. " He crossed to his window and looked out "Or, if you intend on becoming a pain in my arse, you could work for me.
"Who said i only had one?" Callum challenged, leaning back in his chair. "A true collector always gets two of each, and both of them are, far out of your reach."

A true collector prized each possession as priceless and did not wantonly destroy said possession. However, it was clear to James that he and Callum were not about to agree on the definition of 'true collector', so he merely sat and waited for what was to happen next. It was Callum who had the advantage here - at least for the moment. Why should James struggle against the impossible? Better to conserve his energy and wits for an opportunity that might, Maker willing, actually pay off.

Suddenly discovering some element of humour in the situation, Callum let loose a guffaw. "Don't worry young sir. i am sure whomever your client was will soon forget about it, there are relics all over from the ancient years, if you know where to look."

It took quite a significant amount of James' will-power not to rise to the obvious condescension in Callum's voice. Young, he might be, but he was hardly an amateur, scuffling around randomly in the hopes of uncovering some treasure. He had spent much of his teenage years honing his knowledge of the many different histories and cultures across Thedas, in no small part to his father's own interests. Moreover, he had been investigating sites for a handful of years; again, his father having had a hand in his education.

Seemingly unperturbed by James' silence, Callum rose from the table and indicated that James should follow him into a lounge. Given that James had precious alternative, he obeyed but kept close observation on his surroundings, still waiting for the opportunity for escape to present itself. 

"As for why i did it, well you don't need to know the ins and outs. just know that a happy wife means a happy life."

That was still no excuse for destroying something unique and precious. Another example of how their definitions of 'true collector' differed.

Unlocking a drawer in his desk, Callum retrieved a scroll and rolled it out across a table, using weights to prevent it from curling up again. "I believe this was an old slave community in the Dragons Peak Mountain's. Mines so vast and deep noone has excavated them yet, darkspawn and all that, but this was from a time before that. I expect there will be goods a plenty for those who seek such rare relics." He threw a glance towards James. "Yours if you want it, but cease your search for that which you will not find. I have much respect for you James, but even that will eventually grow bothersome. and that i do not want to happen." Moving across to the window, Callum surveyed the view for a moment. "Or, if you intend on becoming a pain in my arse, you could work for me."

Any respect that James had held for the man withered away. He regarded the man with open disgust, his usual happy-go-lucky demeanour dashed away for the moment. Now, he had a good idea of what Callum Kennedy was about, but he had always reminded himself that there was key gaps in his knowledge. He was beginning to see a little of what might be found in those gaps: common thuggery, and more if he were to guess.

"You think you can buy me off?" He demanded, making no movement towards the map. There were any number of mines throughout Ferelden but the Blight back in '30 meant that many of the shafts were dangerous beyond the usual complications of excavating. "Be it the map or the job, I would owe you something. At least, given your general attitude and actions, that's how it seems you would view the deal. I bet people who owe you something don't ever settle their debt." No, that was very clear to James now. Callum was the spider in a very large web and everyone else was a fly stuck on the sticky strands.

Squaring his shoulders, James realised that all his plans had come to nothing. There was no amount of planning which account for the situation he had found himself in. What else to do but force a resolution, one way or another?

"Keep your respect of me," he spoke firmly, sure of himself and his decision. "I have none for you. I won't play these games," he jerked his head towards the map, "any longer. I'm starting to realise that you can make me disappear without a trace so either do it or let me go.
"You think you can buy me off?"

And there is was, Callum arched an eyebrow at the demanding tone, IF he had wanted to buy the brat off, he would have done in a whole different manner. he thought of saying something but James, evidently had not finished yet.  "Be it the map or the job, I would owe you something. At least, given your general attitude and actions, that's how it seems you would view the deal. I bet people who owe you something don't ever settle their debt." 

His face turned to stone as he realised the boy knew more than Callum thought he did. Scarlett would break his balls over this. lapse of judgement. Come to think of it, if the roles were reversed he'd probably have cut her knife fingers off, so all's fair. 

"Keep your respect of me, I have none for you. I won't play these games," he jerked his head towards the map, "any longer. I'm starting to realise that you can make me disappear without a trace so either do it or let me go."

"When your mother was Bann of Amaranthine. she had the opportunity to. deal, with the murder of my parents, my brother his wife and child." Callum suddenly said "She told me to leave it to the guard, they would find them, but the guard were corrupt, brought with the petty coin the merchants that perpetrated that act gave them. So." Callum stood in front of James, towered over him a little "i did what they were unwilling to do, Oh it took me a few years but eventually i found them all, including the magistrate. So in part i have your mother to thank for this life. If she had listened when i tried to tell her how corrupt her guard was, i might have been something else. A Grey Warden perhaps."  He looked to his two men "Take him to the room, leave him there and leave me for now." He looked at James "Now i get the chance to show your mother, all respect and pretence of respect what happens to those who were complacent about the fate of my family, one last string to cut and its over.

He watched as the defiant looking James was led away. He sat at his desk, took a quill and began to write.

"Dear Hope, i don't know if this will be my last words. I have taken great pains to keep you and Alexa safe from this this life of mine so much so that not many know who you are to me. However what i am about to do will have repercussions, and not just for me. If it is found out who you and Alexa are, it may well come back on you too. Take your crew and go far away from Amaranthines Ocean. even your beloved Rivain. Take that voyage into uncharted waters you were always going on about. Be safe and if the worst comes to past, i shall see you in the void.

He rolled it up and slipped it into a case. tied it to a ravens leg and stroked it for a moment "Go to your mistress" he whispered "and do not return." 

He took his jacket off and rolled his sleeves up as he walked down to the room. Thoughts ran through his head as he looked at James. A young boy who thought he was a red headed giant called Usmir something or other. My the boy has grown though, just like his mother defiant and jaw held high. Callum had been wary of Delilah but not anymore. Of course she was not to blame for the actions of the Merchants guild, but as Bann she did not do what should have been done. His parents were wealthy and were in some aspects valued members of the guild, but some of those cretins were jealous and thier poison was insidious. 

"You should never have come back James" he told him "You should have left and carried on your adventures elsewhere, now you don't get to leave.

It would be hours before Callum left the room and when he did his shirt was covered in blood, blood from a boys broken face, blood from a sliced chest and finally a slit throat. He ordered the body taken to a ship in the dock. He himself would oversee this. he couldn't trust that someone somewhere would take pity and return the body to Amaranthine. It was very likely the sea might do that but the sea held many hungry things sharks for one and other creatures that would feast on a corpse. 

He ordered the boat to the deepest part of the ocean. far from land of any kind and lifting the body he tossed it into the ocean and watched it float away then sink as something grabbed it from below, blood welled around the ocean where the body had been but it dispersed. "Goodbye James." he muttered and ordered the vessel back to Dock.