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A Gilded Invitation [Closed]

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An invitation to the Gilded Knuckle is not one to be refused.


Few outside of the elite of various fields - the political, the criminal, the merchant class, the intelligence community, the notorious and those with cachet - were even aware of the Knuckle's existence.  Fewer still had the rights to attend whenever they wished; but that was likely a good thing, as there were very few more dangerous places in all of Eorzea.


And now, a liveried servant had brought one of the embossed invitations to Gogonji Gegenji, a.k.a. Tmesis Oan, though neither name graced the page.  The servant waited patiently outside of his residence after the invitation was delivered; he was expected even by the servant to go, of course, and immediately, also of course.


Sometimes those who attended were hooded and blindfolded enroute, likely if their attendance was gauged to be a one-time occurrence.  Gogonji, however, was spared that particular indignity, and he was whisked deep into the heart of Ul'dah, through the twisting inner allies and carpeted floors of the inner sanctum of the elite, through a discreet side door and another like it that seemed to be but one of many entrances.  The Gilded Knuckle was a bar of sorts, a gambling hall of others, richly appointed and highly discreet.  Many of the patrons wore masks, though likewise their identities seemed to be implicitly understood, their importance recognized by their very presence. 


All manner of debaucheries were being indulged, from strong drink to one well-known Lalafellian merchant prince being attended by multiple silk-clad girls, to another being attended by scantily clad boys, their muscles oiled.  Others seemed fixated only on business, their heads bent together, making a show of their importance and clandestinity.  Everyone was being watched, whether by ever-attentive serving girls, or muscled security.  To be a bartender alone at the Knuckle was to make more money than some merchants, but to put a single foot wrong in a place that was supposed to offer the most secure environment around for any sort of dealing was to lose more than your job.


Gogonji was whisked discreetly across the floor to a dark-paneled side room, of which there seemed to be many, looking out over the bloodsands for private viewing.  A large Roegadyn was seated in the room, which had several low, round tables and long couches, but this man was the only one present.  He was a Sea Wolf with skin more gray than green, and silver, square-cut hair and beard, with the undeniable bearing of a military man.  "Ah, Oan, glad to see you could make it."


He offered Gogonji a hand bigger than the Lalafell's torso.  "I hope you didn't mind my invitation all of a sudden, but it takes even me some time to arrange for the Knuckle to accommodate me.  Government salaries, you do understand."  He chuckled deeply, indicating that Gogonji should take a seat.  He settled back down into his chair with a tired groan, rubbing his knees as if they bothered him.


"You have indeed been a busy bee, Oan," he noted, a faint smile appearing then fading yet again.  "But it is not to threaten that I asked you here, merely to educate.  When a new piece is added to the game board, it is my job to figure out how they move.  I trust you are aware of who I am?"  He tilted his head, looking at Gogonji inquisitively.


A serving woman discreetly placed a cup of tea at Gogonji's elbow.  He did not need to order it, nor give his preference for it to be known already.  Of course, drinks in such a place are assured to be safe - but every action he takes is being noted closely as well.

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Gogonji adjusted his smoky goggles as he looked at his strange drinking partner, mostly giving the impression that he was looking the gentleman over in an attempt to place who he was. Not that he didn't know fairly well who it was - given his discrete tracking of Rosewater's old position and the organization as a whole ever since the Hyur's... removal... from his station. He had to be certain that there wouldn't be a round two, or at least make some assurances that he'd be well-informed on the matter should such things arise. But as Tmesis Oan, the rather bookish purveyor of knowledge who had been misappropriated by the mercenary group Khamja...?


"Hm, given the... demeanor and appearance - along with your mention of your government salary - I'd venture to assume one of the Sultansworn, perhaps?" he murmured thoughtfully as he took up the teacup and turned it about in his hands. "Perhaps the replacement of that Rosewater fellow Annunu was aiding? I did hear he was removed from his position for corruption. Dreadful thing, that."


He turned the teacup about in his gloves hands, letting his hidden violet gaze seemingly drop down to its contents. Those mirrorlike orbs remained affixed on the Roegadyn, however, as he continued to seek to read and evaluate this man. Gogonji was well-aware of the Gilded Knuckle and its reputation, hence the robed garb he had taken up for his meeting here to provide at least some manner of anonymity. For one of the Sultana's black ops men to come here so openly and undisguised was either a sign of confidence in his own position or foolishness. Considering the massive thorn Rosewater had been, the Lalafell found himself leaning more towards the former.


"Considering our... developing relationship, I felt it... prudent to keep some manner of tabs on the gentleman tasked with overseeing her even as I recovered from that dreadful incident, you see," Tmesis continued idly, as if speaking of the weather. "I actually sought to have him invited to our little soiree at Costa Del Sol to formally announce our... joined venture, wherein I learned of his dismissal. Of course, his name was... removed from the guest list as soon as I learned such. Perhaps I should have had it forwarded to you instead?"


All truths, to some degree. Gogonji had purposely made a show of seeking to invite the troublesome Sultansworn, knowing full well that the invitation would never make it to its intended user. There obviously was no public bad feelings between Rosewater and An, his review merely being part of the judgment passed on the Cherry Blossom Socialite along with the hefty fine and the rest of the story left omitted and otherwise obscured. To further cement this "goodwill" facade, the Doman had drawn up the invitation and sent it out with the rest of them. Perhaps the Roegadyn already had it on his person, snatched up from Rosewater's mailbox or even intercepted en route to it.


"Though I must admit, I'm at a bit of a loss," Tmesis looked up from his tea more visibly now. "You know of my name, yet I do not know yours. You seem of Sea Wolf stock, so I apologize in advance if I... stumble a little over the pronunciation of your name."

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"Church," the Roegadyn provided, his deep voice maintaining an urbane, smooth gentility, as if they were two business acquaintances mouthing niceties prior to getting down to the haggling. Which, perhaps, they were. "Micah Church. A name as fictitious as your own, Oan, but in a place like this, it will serve as well as any other. I trust it suits the tongue more than Sea Wolf names conventionally do."


He leaned back in his chair, the wood freaking slightly with the shift in the great armored form's weight resting upon it. He turned his gaze thoughtfully back to the empty bloodsands, the blank rows of seats ringing the slice visible of the arena. "Yes, Rosewater was a nasty business, and dead now, I presume, either by your hand or someone else's. An instructive lesson, however, in what happens to poor players of the game you have joined."


His eyes returned to Gogonji, meeting the goggle-hidden state levelly. "Your act with the girl would be quite convincing if I hadn't found one of her financial cut outs, hiding more wealth than you ever will make in your lifetime. So if she doesn't need you for money - it's more likely you need her. And like the late Rosewater, I know enough to tell you both are capable. But this is no patter of mages run by a cocksure Ala Mhigan thug dressed up as a noble. This is the Great Game, where the blow that moves to decapitate you will not likely move against you directly, but against flank and rear."


He paused for a sip of the brown liquid over ice he has been enjoying. "Rosewater was convinced your little cherry blossom was an assassin known in the Knuckle as Diamond for the distinctive pattern on their mask. A Lalafell can't hide race, but Diamond conceals gender and age, as well as any other identifiable marks, in a full-body leather suit. Diamond does work for the Syndicate's henchmen primarily, and specializes in a discreet, natural-appearing death. At this point, Diamond's reputation is such that just the threat of sending someone like that after a business opponent tends to achieve the desired result.


"And if it's true that this person is your Annunu - it would connect nicely with your sudden interest in Ul'dahn politics and spycraft. Which means your little party stunt delivered the message I expect you intended - it announced your arrival on the scene as a player of the game."


He set his glass back down, smiling faintly. "And not all of the other players in the game are going to approach you in a friendly way, as I have. I seem to recall the instrument of Rosewater's downfall was Garlean entanglements. And they are even more fond of knives in the dark than the Syndicate."

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