The Green Man
Amongst the street dwellers of Pappenheim, gripped as they are with a hunger they will never sate in their lifetimes, tales are still passed about how the Grand Duke’s tables are set each night, the cooks still trying to outdo themselves with feats of culinary prowess for guests that will never arrive. The banquet hall is set alight, the six fireplaces roaring as the food is placed in piles on the rows of tables. Thirty butlers and assorted footmen (the number changes depending on who is telling the story) stand at attention, silent and waiting, once the presentation is complete.
As the fires burn low and the chill of the hall sets in, the great platters heaped with delicacies are taken away and thrown down into one of the fortress’ many cisterns. For to eat the Grand Duke’s food before he has tasted it is death, just as to fall asleep at one’s post, or to slander the Grand Duke’s name, is certain death as well. The Brass Clock see to that, or so it is said. For they are vigilant in his absence and will not see the strength of the Grand Duchy of Wimarc wane in the face of its many enemies.
And yet a Grand Duke has not sat in residence at his fortress in Pappenheim for at least two hundred years. The rule of the Brass Clock is all that most in Wimarc have known. Though there are a few who chafe at the command of these self-styled Merchant Princes and their Houses, there are many more who have come to rely on the Clock for its steady, efficient, and always ruthless presence in their lives. A known danger can be comforting when so many unknown ones beckon at the door.
You four are representatives of the Brass Clock, each bound to a separate House of the sprawling organization that has come to dominate life in the Grand Duchy of Wimarc:
The Tinkers Union (“The Union”) Deacon’s Bane Company (“The Deacons”) The Arcanaeum (“The Magisters” and ”The Sworn”) The Council of Pappenheim (“The Council”)
Having proven yourselves through rigorous training and testing, you have grown in reputation in the cutthroat environment of the capital city. Despite the relative freedom and trust you each enjoy, however, you know that you are still being watched, judged, and weighed. For you are investments made by your houses and they shall expect constant, and increasing, returns.
You have crossed paths with your fellows on various missions and jobs about the city, but today all of you have been called together for an audience with one of the High Clerks. The Clerks are the administrators of Wimarc, central cogs in the smoothly running machine that is the Brass Clock.
Hurry along now, good bondsmen, lest you be late…