Clan of 1000 Fingers

It’s only a name. Strabo. And a face. A non-descript face; like so many in the crowd. You try to recall that face, to match it with a name you’ve remembered for years. But…it was all so long ago. He would have been little more than a boy then, as were you.

Young and cocky, with the self-assured step of a man of position, of power; you paid only the slightest of attentions to Stillichko’s (stuh-LICH-ko) boy when introduced. He had his father’s eyes you remember, framed in bushy brows above permanent stubble. The only feature that you can recall is his eyes; in them you saw the gleam, the same one that stares back at you in mirrored glass. The eyes of a man driven, to wealth, to power, to glory - the eyes of a champion.

But what need would you have to remember a merchant’s youngest son? True, Stillichko was your fence, but he wasn’t really part of your world; a part of your brotherhood. You had the Fingers. You had the skills you’d honed in nighttime combat across the roofs of town. You had the silent steps, faint enough to surprise the shadows. You moved as freely as a ghost and as silent as the grave. Most of all, you knew you had ability. That all came in handy enough when Stillichko needed help. And you were there, your knives flashing in the dark; the gurgle of blood in a slashed throat the only sign of a struggle that was quickly over. Yes, you saved Stillichko and the boy’s life that night. And a man like Stillichko always remembers a favor.

Stillichko would buy, or find, anything. Outside of the Fingers, he was the only one you trusted. After all, he had a hand in everything; at once on every side and yet fiercely loyal to no one. You could trust him because that was the nature of his business; he may have fenced goods, but deep beneath it all, he sold trust. He couldn’t afford not to. His son, Strabo, was a practical copy of his father, but with a less open face and a brooding nature. Same game; different men.

Now, all that is left in your memory is a name and the half-forgotten face of a young man. Strabo. Strabo. His name now rolls effortlessly off the tongue, practiced to the point of seeming natural. As if you are good friends. No one would suspect the way you spoke of him that you were not the closest of intimates. Strabo. And Freeport. You remember one other thing, not because of the the boy at first, but because of the uncanny nature of the prediction. You easily recall Stillichco’s words the day you met his son. “Freeport. That is the one place the Thousand cannot find you. They have no place there; under penalty of death. If ever you need to find yourself hidden from them, go there and see my son. See Strabo. He’ll be in Freeport fore the year is out.”

Hide? From the Fingers? Important lieutenants like yourself, multiple assassinations under your belt, did not sink from the sight of the brotherhood: you rose within its ranks like the star you were. It was your destiny.

But, of course, Stillichco was right. Now the only place you knew for sure some of the goods, swelling within the pouches of you new-found allies, could be turned over for maximum coin, and with minimum attention, was in Freeport. Strabo. It has been many years, but Strabo - a hard name, but an easy face, to forget.