Muskego the Spy

After Hurley retired from adventuring, rather than returning to his adopted home of Troll’s Bridge, he decided to settle in Rebelton with a cute paramour he had romanced in his occasional trips there.  Hurley raised his family in Rebelton.  His son Cecil, grandson Bruce and great grandson Mukwonago each lived in Rebelton.

Then came Muskego, Hurley’s great-great-grandson and Manty’s great-great-great great-grandson.  Manty’s Heirloom dagger had been handed down from father to son, from Hurley to Cecil to Bruce and then to Mukwonago.  And so, like each of the Mantyson’s before him and after, Muskego became the proud bearer of the dagger.

  Muskego followed in his grandpa Manty’s footsteps, first learning to sneak through the village, then pilfering things to eat from the farmers market.  Eventually, he worked up the courage to lift a purse from a traveler.  Amazed at how easily he got away with it, he took to regularly relieving visitors of their unneeded possessions.

But, Rebelton was a small town and his actions seemed to make it even smaller.  Muskego soon decided it was time to try for a bigger pond.  He booked passage on the next caravan from Rebelton to Troll’s Bridge.  Muskego arrived in Troll’s Bridge some 200 years after its founding to find the fledgling city was bursting at the seams.  The citizens had filled all the spaces within the old walls the troll and his orcs had erected.  They were beginning to grow vertically adding 2nd and 3rd stories to the homes and shops that had sprung up soon after the town was founded.  It was just what he was looking for.

Muskego quickly settled in, staying at Tasha’s Ineffable Laughter.  He loved the big city and especially loved all the easy marks he found there.  There were always travelers coming through town whether by boat up and down the river or overland and over the bridge.  Unfortunately, Muskego’s profession soon warranted some unwanted attention.  He was taking in the evening show at Tasha’s, minding his own business, sitting in a dark booth drinking ale and eating his dinner.  The next thing he knows, he’s bleary eyed with a throbbing headache, lying on a dirty pallet in a damp, dark, stone cell.

After several hours of shivering in the darkness, Muskego hears keys rattling beyond the door and a loud thud.  A bright light shines through a barred window in the door blinding him.  “Welcome, my dear halfling to Troll’s Bridge. Of course, you seem to be making yourself quite at home already.  You have found that the city is home to all kinds of thieves, brigands and ruffians.  What you probably didn’t realize is that even the houses of power are touched by corruption.  I, however, am not so lucky.  I am but a humble merchant working my fingers to the bone for others profit and pleasure.  Today that ends and you are the instrument of my success.  You see I want my heirs and successors to dine at the trough of the cities largesse.  I want Artural, Quaid and Donamel, especially Donamel, to tremble at my name, to rue the day they admitted the Chicdell’s to the ruling council.  So, Master Muskego, yes, I know your name, will you join me?  Or do you prefer the hospitality of my home?  You are welcome to stay here as long as you like.  Though I must confess my cooking is worse than my house keeping.”  The faceless voice laughs at his own joke.

Muskego realizes he could spend the rest of a very short life locked away in this dungeon, or he could join this mad man in whatever plans he is making.  Who knows, it could bring some excitement to his life.  Besides, he doesn’t owe the other houses of Troll’s Bridge any loyalty.  They certainly didn’t protect him from this rough treatment.  And so, Muskego acquiesces.  The man outside the door shifts the light so that it no longer quite so blinding and unlocks the door.  Muskego gathers his belongings, especially the dagger with the large red gem in the hilt.  Together Muskego and the man behind the voice depart the cellar and begin making plans.

Muskego discovers that Angelo Chicdell is a small time merchant, with big plans.  Newly arrived in Troll’s Bridge with his family, Angelo is just a few ticks shy of megalomania.  He plans to take control of the city.  Muskego agrees to help him partly for the thrill of the ride, partly to keep his own hide unmolested.  He figures if he doesn’t help Angelo, somebody else will and Muskego just might be the first guest to depart the party.  Thankfully, Angelo is pretty realistic that his plans will take time, years, maybe even decades to develop.

Muskego’s first job is to begin gathering dirt on the other ruling houses.  Accustomed to sneaking about and liberating things, this isn’t a far stretch for Muskego.  He’s just stealing information instead of baubles.  Muskego discovers he is quite adept at gathering information. 

He takes a job down at the docks where he can see the comings and goings of the city.  Several of the council houses maintain their positions by trading goods up and down the river.  Muskego uses his special skills, honed through years of skulking about, to discover who’s trading what and when it’s on the books or not.  Sharing this information when Angelo, they are able to engage in a few choice trades that help his business to grow and prosper.  Angelo is careful not to grow too quickly, nor to make any enemies.  Rather, he works to be a friend of the Council Houses for “special” needs.  Items they have trouble buying or selling through the other merchants in town.

After a couple years of partnership, an emissary of the House Quaid approaches Angelo with an extra special request.  They are working on a deal, but are meeting resistance from one of the other houses.  They need a neutral party to discover who is working against them and smooth the way.  Angelo dispatches Muskego to the job.  Muskego has made many friends among the Harbor Rats.  With their help, he is quickly able to determine that House Random is feeling threatened by Quaid encroaching on their territory. 

Muskego and Angelo realize if they take this information directly to Quaid, it would set off a feud that would result in one of the houses being weakened and the other strengthened, but with little benefit for the Chicdell family.  Instead they go to the Artural’s and arrange to sell the information.  By allying themselves with the Artural’s, the Chicdells can create a champion to will one day bring them into the council.  With each new tidbit that Muskego gathers a house or two loses face, but the  Artural’s always seem to rise above the fray.

Politics of this nature take time, and it is never a straight road to one's desires.  Muskego and Angelo both become old men.  Their families grow and Angelo’s son takes over the business.  Eventually, he appoints a new major domo. 

Muskego decides to retire in peace.  He’s made enough waves, and not a few enemies, in Troll’s Bridge that it’s best that he doesn’t drop his guard in the city.  So he moves back to his clan home in Rebelton.  There to raise his family led by his eldest son Hayward.

Hayward doesn’t take after his father a bit.  Even though he was born and raised in Troll’s Bridge, he loves the country, the clean air, big skies, the sun on his face and earth in his toes.  With Muskego’s savings from years in Troll’s Bridge they are able to buy a farmstead on the edge of Rebelton and Hayward immediately sets to farming.  He grows crops and raises goats, chickens, swine and even a prize Guernsey for fresh milk.  And yet, like each member of the Mantyson’s clan, eventually Muskego passes along Manty’s heirloom dagger to his Hayward.

Muskego is happy to see his son prosper, but never loses the itch to meddle in other people’s business.  Many times in his semi-retirement he finds reasons to trek back to Troll’s Bridge or even some of the more distant cities to gather information.  Until one day, he leaves for a distant city and never returns.  It’s possible he was waylaid by bandits or giants or worse, but more likely he stuck his aged Halfling nose into a spot he just couldn’t pull it out of.

Angelo's dream actually takes about 800 years to be realized.  Subsequent generations lose sight of the goal for a while as they become filthy rich and then powerful guild masters.  The Chicdells only achieve nobility and join the Council of Houses when they finally relinquish the title of guild master around 827 PC.  Angelo's ultimate goal is attained by Hardun Chicdell in late 999 PC.