Skyspire, jewel of the Triumvirate. What had once begun as a humble mining town, was now one of the greatest marvels of industrial, scientific, and architectural innovation in all the civilized world. It was the largest skyport in all of the fourteen nations, boasting a full twenty-three mountainside skydocks, each capable to receive, repair, load and unload airships of any shape and size. Cultures far and wide came through the great skyport. And it had all risen from the corpse of a war-torn empire. In 1678, the Straste Empire came crashing down at the hands of a coup orchestrated by a conclave consisting of disgruntled armsmen, peasants, and merchants who could no longer live under the grinding oppression of the royals. Secret meetings were held in the caves, and drug-dens of Skyspire, as the would-be assassins pulled strings and made long preparations for the day that the Great Oak would be felled. The coup took all of four years to plan, and arrange. And when it was carried out, it went off without a hitch. The bloodline of the Straste family was torn out, all the way to the roots. Every man, woman and child of the bloodline had been quietly put to the sword, turned on by the guardsmen that had been sworn to their service, with few exceptions. Unwilling to stand on the leavings of the royal line, the conclave revealed themselves to the people and were praised as heroes. The people wouldn't stand for another monarchy, so in it's stead a three-winged council was born. The military, the merchant, and the political wings. Each was meant to keep the other in check. For a time, it worked. But the wars started, and the military branch was pushed to the head of the council. Through a series of poor and sometimes desperate conditions, the militant wing of the Triumvirate seized power in the form of martial law. For all of it however, Skyspire continued to flourish. _____________________________________________________________ A tall man walked briskly down the broad, natural stone streets of the Inner City. There was nearly no natural light in the caverns. Instead, gas lamps lined the streets, illuminating the manmade caverns and the people that walked them. He was a dapper looking fellow, with short, deep brown hair that seemed to be contrasting with the rest of his finely tailored appearance. A broad-brimmed hat sat firmly upon his head, pulled low to hide his eyes. Those were blue, big and bright. Despite the perpetual chill in the city within the mountain, the man had foregone a coat. Rather, he wore a simple vest of dark slate pinstripe, over a neatly creased undershirt. A tie was snugged neatly at his throat, to disappear beneath the vest. His build was neither thick nor scrawny, but landed somewhere in the middle. He didn't have the pallor of the miners who rarely saw the light of day, but neither did he have the darker skin of an outlander. His shoulders were broad, and his hands were stuffed into the pockets of his slacks. His shoes shone, the leather looking fresh and unscuffed. It wasn't at all uncommon for a man or woman of means to wander through the broad-way of the inner-city where the working class lived on their way to the skydocks. But the well-dressed man didn't appear to be heading to the skydocks. As a matter of fact, he didn't seem to have a definite destination at all, meandering as he was up and down the broad streets of the Inner City. After an hour of wandering the streets that bisected the Broad Way, he came to a stall he must have passed at least three times before. He stopped before it, and scanned the trinkets with those merry blue eyes of his, before flicking them up to give the face of the stall's owner a similar appraisal. He canted his hat backwards with a knuckle to reveal his face. He was handsome in a roguish sort of way, and had a glimmer of mischief to his eye. When he spoke, his voice was a smooth baritone. "What are you charging for these lovelies?"