Arcanum 1780: A New World
Tales - The Silent War
The Silent War
Luis de Unzaga struggled to light the damp wick of the candle sitting on the table in front of him. Whomever the barman had rented the meeting room out to had both a cruel streak and a distinct hatred of ale – at least of the kind that was served here. Luis had to agree with his taste, particularly after sampling the brew during his negotiation to secure the room and the barman’s silence, but could not fathom the mindset of the man who would extinguish a candle by upending it into a mug and leaving it to float. He sighed and gave up, settling in to wait in the darkness, wishing to sip on the harsh rum of his home, but instead wrinkling his nose as he sucked down more of the watered down English Ale.
It wasn’t long before the small meeting room was packed with newcomers – to the best of his recollection, he could only truly place the Spanish beauty with the ruined teeth, and even she had brought a strange hulk of a man who found himself more comfortable leaning against the wall than sitting in the creaky narrow seats at the table. Luis allowed himself a small sigh. His niece always did ingratiate herself with the strangest of people, but she was in some ways one of his best agents. We do what we must with the tools available…
He purposefully kept his voice conspiratorially low – spycraft, after all, was a form of conspiracy, and he hardly wanted to make his opponent’s work easier than he had to. The very fact that he was having this meeting in the heart of New England rather than directing things from afar was a necessary concession to the efficacy of whoever was directing the other end of their silent war.
His directions were only as specific as they needed to be to get the message across. To the poor and unfortunate, he gave the desire to sow the seeds of dissent among their like, to reap the grains of information from the manservants and milkmaids. To the wealthy and beautiful, he gave the greed and lust to seek power, to play their own games of intrigue, appealing to their vanity even as he perverted their own plans to his own ends. At the end of prompting them, he gave them all a well groomed smile. There is nothing easier to do than to goad the vain into looking at their own reflection.
To the strong and foolhardy, he gave permission. They were his arms, his hands, and his fists here in New England, while he was away performing harrowing acts of bravery in his governor’s mansion. They were his boots on the ground, to serve at his pleasure and the pleasure of those likewise gathered here. He fed their passion for violence and vengeance, promised them coin and glory in return for the one thing that even the best manipulator rarely had – muscle. The ability to break past a locked door, or kidnap an unwilling mark, all for the purpose of gaining an upper hand in the greater game – they never would be the planners or plotters, but everyone needed pieces to move. For Luis, his pieces were the nations and the players within them, who in turn had their own little games they played for much lower stakes.
To the upper lower-class, the working man, he gave patience. He told them they were back backbone of New England, and were they to creak and moan, to slow the unwieldy beast, they could help affect the world in a way they never thought possible. After all, when a horse throws a shoe, the rider must stop. If a wagon has an axle which is crafted with less than the usual love and attention, it might break, sending important supplies into the mud, delaying the travel of news. They, the powerless, held much power in being able to muffle the ears and mouths of those who considered them their lessers, for what does a noble know of repairing a cart or shoeing a horse?
He said much in that meeting, and the many more he hosted throughout the week he spent in the city, culturing and bolstering the ranks of his agency, promising coin and more to untold numbers of people willing to betray their homeland. He said that he never felt more proud of the men he was getting into business with, even though he was lying through his smile. Of all the things he said while he was away from Spain, he never said his name.