So, I've read through 7th Sea 2nd Edition and even managed to try running a game of it... it's a very different system than I'm used to running, so it's taking me a little getting used to, but I've always loved Theah as a setting (played a lot of 1st Edition).
So to try and get better acquainted with the world and get a feel for better descriptive storytelling, I've been writing up little background story snippets for the characters my friends and family are making. I'm hoping that maybe anyone inclined here could lend a critical eye (preferrably the one without the patch over it) to the first story below and offer any pointers.
Salvador de Cortez - In the Shadow of the Cross
The smell of musty tomes hung in the air as Salvador flipped through old books in the library. He gingerly turned the pages to prevent damage to the old paper. He had long since lost track of time and had gone over an unknown number of the books, looking for a single piece of information in the whole of the building.
“Who are you?”
Salvador looked to the sound of the new voice to see the incredulous face of the librarian. “Ah, it's about time someone came around,” Salvador said, barely glancing up from his book. “I'm hoping you can help me find something specific.”
The librarian took in the sight of this intruder. He had the bearing and attire of a nobleman. His goatee well trimmed and his attire much more flamboyant than that of the peasantry, with his orange shirt, black embroidered vest and cloak draped over his shoulders. Yet his clothes showed signs of wear, having been mended by unskilled hands and the feather in his cap had seen better days. The sword at his hip, however had been meticulously cared for. “You're not supposed to be in here! This building is under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition. All of these books are confiscated and under the holy ordinance of the Church!”
“Well, that's good, because what I'm after is in the Church's custody,” Salvador said. “Do you have a master record of where things are kept? I'd rather not be sifting through all of this for the rest of the week...”
“Guards! Guards!” the librarian bellowed, breaking the relative silence of the library. “We have an intruder!”
“Honestly, was that necessary? This could have been resolved so simply…” Salvador said, reaching for the hilt of his blade.
On either side of the aisle he was in, guards turned to block him in and drew their weapons, the librarian slinking away behind them. “In the name of the Church, we order you to surrender.”
Salvador listened and heard more guards moving in other aisles, as they spread out to prevent his escape. “Thanks for the offer, but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
The guards moved toward Salvador and in a blink, the Castillian had his sword drawn and in hand. Springing upward, Salvador leapt toward the bookcase to his left and then launched himself atop the opposite shelf. As he stood atop the bookshelf, the rack of books he had launched himself from toppled over, taking down each shelf in turn like heavy dominoes. The brief cries of the guards in the adjacent aisles rose up as they were pinned under the avalanche of books and shelving.
The two guards that had tried to trap him looked at the toppled mess briefly before turning their gaze up to Salvador, who merely smirked and shrugged. Taking off at a run, he ran along the top of the bookcase as it rocked under his weight, leaping down to the floor as the guards pursued. Stepping into an open area with tables, stools and a railing overlooking the lower floor, Salvador turned to face his opponents. He lightly gripped his cloak in his left hand as he readied his blade.
The guards came to a sudden stop and pointed their swords at the Castillian swordsman when they saw that he had stopped to face them.
After a brief moment of stillness, the guards moved in unison, crossing the gap and swinging their weapons. Salvador whirled to his right, his cloak flashing up and away like a matador dodging a bull. The guard’s swords passed through the space where the intruder had been standing only a moment before, throwing them off balance. As they attempted to stabilize themselves, Salvador completed his spin, bringing the pommel of his sword down on the nearest guard’s face.
As the Inquisition soldier crumpled into a heap, his partner readied his weapon and studied his opponent. Rushing in had proved too risky a prospect and he no longer assumed the man would fall easily. Salvador leveled his sword at his opponent, occasionally flicking the tip of the weapon at the soldier to test his response. The soldier was jumpy the first couple times, but as Salvador continued to fake a thrust and circle around his opponent, the man’s expectations of an actual attack began to decrease.
As his attention failed, Salvador flicked his weapon toward the guard, slashing and weakening their sword arm. The guard attempted to counter-strike with a clumsy thrust, but Salvador deflected the blade to side and with a sharp blow to the man’s wrist, the guard’s blade fell over the railing to the lower level of the library before Salvador struck the man with his shoulder, shoving him back over a nearby table.
As his opponent toppled backwards, several more guards rushed in and readied themselves. Salvador sighed, as he adopted a combat stance. “Ladies and gentlemen, can’t we talk about this like civilized people?” The Inquisitorial soldiers spread out to try and surround him. Salvador flicked his eyes behind him and saw his back was to the railing. “No?”
Wheeling around, he sprung toward the railing, bounding off the rail and grabbing the chandelier with his free hand, slowing his descent enough to swing down onto a table in the common area. The soldiers that had rushed in to try and stop him, only piled into the railing and watch as Salvador safely touched down on the ground floor.
“Go around! Get after him!” The guards broke rank and dispersed from the railing as they moved toward the nearest stairs to the lower level.
Salvador smirked and turned to leave when he saw a new soldier before him, wearing a burgundy tabard adorned with the Vatacine Cross, his sword pointed at the Castillian’s face.
“That’s far enough, Duelist. I don’t know why you’re here, but your trespass cannot go unanswered. Surrender now and your life shall be spared.”
“I appreciate the offer,” Salvador said, but shrugged and smiled, “however, I still haven’t got what I came for. Perhaps, if you would be willing to share…” His words were cut off by a slash from the captain, which was quickly parried and Salvador stepped away, further down the table’s length.
Stepping up onto a chair and then the table, the captain squared off against Salvador, having now removed the advantage of elevation. The two swordsmen sized each other up briefly, before Salvador motioned with his hand under his cloak. Expecting an off-hand weapon, the Inquisitor raised his weapon in defence for the decoy and Salvador’s blade raked the back of the Inquisitor’s left arm.
Recoiling, the captain glanced at his wound and grunted in realization. “Student of Torres, are we?”
“But of course,” Salvador said, “Is it truly wise for a practitioner of Aldana to be fighting in such tight quarters?”
“I have just the song for such an occasion…” The Inquisitor said, tucking his wounded arm behind his back and adopting a dueling stance, “Let’s begin.”
The clash of metal filled the room, as the two skilled swordsmen dueled, matching attacks with defence, moving around the library, leaping from table to table and knocking books and papers alike to the floor to ensure even footing. The Inquisitor controlled the direction, as his dance maneuvered Salvador around the room, while the Torres Duelist’s cloak and sword repeatedly moved to deflect incoming strikes, only for him to swing towards his opponent, attempting to throw him off balance and create an opening.
The space suddenly erupted in noise, as the guards Salvador had eluded earlier had completed the trip downstairs and rejoined the fight. Leaping backwards, his cloak flared out, deflecting a couple blades as he spun. When he landed, his blade flashed out and landed crippling blows on several guards as they lunged into the fray.
Exploiting the distraction, the Inquisitor landed a blow on the back of Salvador’s shoulder, causing him to recoil and re-adopt his defensive posture. As the guards moved in for the attack, Salvador kept moving, deflecting blows and answering with strikes of his own. The Inquisitor reached into his boot and pulled out a slim, silver dagger, gingerly gripping the blade between his fingers. As Salvador defeated the last of the guards, the Inquisitor hurled the dagger and it passed just below the Castillian’s right armpit, pinning his cloak to a nearby bookshelf.
Salvador pulled at the cloak but found himself solidly secured and when he looked up, the Inquisitor was on him. Unable to raise his sword in time, the captain’s sword buried itself into Salvador’s shoulder. Salvador let out a cry of pain before gritting his teeth and sneering at his attacker.
“So tell me…” the Inquisitor said, applying pressure to his weapon, “How does a student of Torres deal with his greatest defense being bound?”
The Inquisitor drew back his weapon with the intent to plunge it forward again into Salvador’s chest, but the Castillian moved quickly, unclasping his cloak and rolling away before the sword found its mark.
As the Inquisitor stabbed the wood of the bookshelf, Salvador sprang to his feet, tossing his hat aside and readying his blade. “If you think that my cloak was my greatest defense, then you haven’t been paying attention.”
The Inquisitor resumed his attack and Salvador matched each attack with a quick defense and landed several quick blows that were more inconvenience than crippling. Salvador was herding his opponent back towards the tables, despite his weakened arm.
“If not the flamboyance of the cloak, what do you believe is your greatest defense then?” The Inquisitor asked, frustrated by the renewed vigor of his opponent’s attack.
Salvador parried the most recent attack and pressed inward, pinning his foe’s hip to the nearest table edge using his own and stepping in close. “I know what song you’re using…”
The Inquisitor’s eyes widened briefly just as Salvador drove the pommel of his sword into the Inquisitor’s face, knocking him back onto the table. As the man fell backwards, Salvador thrust his sword into the sleeve of the captain’s uniform, pinning his sword hand to the table before reaching to the small of his back and drawing his flintlock pistol.
The captain went to free himself from Salvador’s blade as he noticed the gun barrel leveled at his head. “You cheat! The Duelist Guild will hear of this!”
“I don’t recall you challenging me to a duel… and given the lack of a Duelist’s Pin on your tabard, I’m guessing you’re not close to the Guild in any case. Drop your sword.”
Releasing his grip, the Inquisitor’s sword fell from his fingers onto the floor and his face adopted a scowl as Salvador stood over him victorious.
“Good man. Now, perhaps you can save us both a lot of time and trouble and tell me where the land titles are kept in here.”
“Land titles? No such thing is stored here. This is merely a collection of heretical writings confiscated during the Montaignian War.”
Salvador studied the man at his mercy, recognized the sincerity there and cursed under his breath. “The man who told me…” he let out a sigh. “Perhaps you might know who might hold the lands in Torres province?”
“Why should I tell a heretic anything?”
“Heretic? I am a devout Vatacine. How else I would know you were using the Prophet’s Hymn for the fight? However, my family’s lands were seized by the Inquisition after the war. I lost my father and brothers. My mother has been enslaved by the holder of my family’s deed. Of all the lessons the Prophets taught me is that you cannot steal from your fellow man, not even in the name of the Church, nor mistreat your fellow man. So tell me, which sounds more heretical?”
The Inquisitor broke his gaze and remained silent. Salvador grunted his disapproval and holstered his flintlock pistol. He walked away to pull the knife from his cloak before securing it around his neck. As he turned back toward the Inquisitor, the man had propped himself up on the table with a puzzled look.
“You aren’t going to kill me?”
“Are you going to force me to?” Salvador asked. “I’m a gentleman. I don’t make it a habit of killing unarmed people.” Scooping his hat off the floor, he perched it back on his head. “I think enough blood has been spilled for nothing, don’t you?”
Crossing the room, Salvador gripped the hilt of his sword and pulled it free of the table. As he slid the weapon back into the scabbard, he turned away and walked toward the door. Halfway to the exit, he heard a voice call from within the library.
“Mauricio de Garza.”
Salvador paused and looked back to see the Inquisitor Captain perched on the edge of the table, looking haggard.
“Many of the Inquisition’s men in the Northwest have taken it upon themselves to take drastic actions in the name of the Church… most of them without the Hierophant knowing. They think that by justifying the actions as divine, they can make themselves into Lords. Mauricio de Garza is one of those men. Whether he holds your family’s lands are not, I can’t be sure… but he can point you in the right direction.”
Tipping the brim of his hat, Salvador smiled. “Gracias. You are a good man, trying to do the Prophet’s work. I harbor you no ill will. May the glory of Prophets follow you.” Turning away, Salvador walked to the door and slipped into the city to begin the next stage of his journey.