“No, no, no. Get out. I’m not doing this again.” He moved from back behind the bar toward me to try and push me out the door. The last few patrons of the night turned to watch the scene.
I stood my ground. “You’re not going to want to do that.” I sidestepped him and started to quickly move between the tables with upturned chairs placed lazily on them. “You probably should hear me out.”
“No.” He gritted his teeth at me. “You came in here asking those stupid questions about a guy, then you cause a problem for my customers, then you start a card game, then you accuse a guy of cheating, then you start a fight. None of that it kosher here, so get the hell out.” He went toward the communications terminal on the wall behind the bar.
“You should have told me,” I said pointedly to get his attention, “That you worked for Lorick Weaver. It would have saved you a headache.”
He stopped at the bar and turned. “I don’t know anything about–“
“Cut the crap. I got the phone records, I know he’s called you two or three times a night. I know he’s paid enough money to keep this place running three times over about once a week. I know you’ve gambled it all away.”
The patrons of the bar looked at each other and then started to slowly move toward the door. The barkeep started to sweat. “Look, I don’t care what you want anymore. Either get out of the bar or I call the guards. End of.”
“Ah, right.” I held up a finger. “I should probably mention one more thing.” I reached into my bag and produced a single document, the ink spiraling fancily across the gold paper. “This is my bar, now. I bought it from Weaver as part of our negotiations. It’s a shame everything here was in his name.” I took a confident step forward and watched the color drain from the bartender’s eyes. “And I’m sorry, but the ownership has decided to let you go. Have a nice night.”
I looked over at the patrons who were near to the exit. “Drinks on the house!”
The Root of All Evil
Money. The backbone of any society is its economy, and here the guardians of coin themselves, Wyler Hoffein Lao, make their mark.
A powerful guild of merchants, tradesman, businessmen, bankers, and economists, the Gold Men run the economy of the span themselves. Even the basic unit of currency–the Lao–is backed by the enormous Ancient Vault, guarded since time immemorial by the firm and filled with untold riches. The Vault, a massive, highly-secured inhabitable floating city deep within the gaseous clouds of one of the middle planets, is regularly maintained and audited securely by the Vault Computer, and the totals of the wealth within shared only with the most upper members of the Guild.
Wyler Hoffein Lao also provides the trade and mercantile needs of the Span. Their ability to get anything needed is well-known and respected; they also maintain a large pricing database that collects and quantifies the price of literally anything in the span. Absolutely anything.
Members of the Wyler-Hoffein Lao are known for their extravagant tastes and master of social etiquette, often traveling in luxurious, extravagant vehicles and with unquestionably expensive clothes and equipment. Where there is a massive spending of funds, there is a Gold guildmember not far.
The Structure of the Gold Men
The Capital city of San Shazza is a major city in the Span for those with too much money or a penchance for vice. Gambing, whoring, drugs, and other such things are completely legal within the city limits, as are most financial schemes and cons. Run by the illustrious “Platinum Prince” Landring, the city is a place where there is debauchery and sin around every corner. As such, it is both a home to crime and untold fortune that draws a diverse population. Some go to San Shazza with the intent of never returning—this is so common that the phrase “leaving for Shazza” is a common euphemism for someone who was murdered or kidnapped and never seen again.
King Lao maintains a circle of Princes (a title which remains the same regardless of gender), who each maintain one of the supporting duties of the guild. Among them:
Name: The Bazaar
Leader: Prince Wyler
Handling the mercantile efforts of the guild, this faction is known for setting up shops and acquiring items of any kind. They are often considered the backbone of the economy, providing for the wants and needs of the entire population of the Span.
Name: The Black Market
Leader: Prince Hoffein
The Span has a need for things that are sometimes, either due to local law or regional decree, illegal. In those instances, the Black market makes its name by acquiring and providing those things to those who can afford to pay for them.
Name: The Cultured
Leader: Prince Hope
Those members of the firm who believe in funding the arts are the philanthropists known as the Cultured. This hedonistic faction indulges in arts from the classy to the obscene, and often manage art galleries of many different types. They are often the height of fashion.
Name: The Vault Keepers
Leader: Prince Frankreich
The Gold Men have a large amount of physical wealth inside their massive vault. This faction maintains that vault and other assets owned by the firm, and also acts as the “Muscle” of the Guild whensoever needed.
Name: The Peers
Leader: Prince Landring
Among the merchants of Wyler Hoffein Lao, there are those who have amassed major amounts of funds. This faction, often called the “idle rich”, is inherently lineage-based: the funds are inherited and passed on to the eldest child. This can lead to sibling rivalry and even murder for the subsequent children who wish to take over these massive fortunes.