The Memoirs of a Crimelord
By Baron Tristane Kingston, Former Kingpin of the Iliac Bay
The days creep slowly beneath this ground and behind these bars. I am stranger to all except the rats who are kind enough to keep me company except when they should become my supper. They are kind like that. They have not abandoned me as the others have. They are the only ones who have stood beside me after what came to pass that fateful day when it was decided I was no longer fit to lead our organization. But my successor will soon discover what I did—this guild doesn’t steal from the targets, it steals from those who are a part of it. But now let me tell you the story of how I learned this tragic lesson.
People believe a lot of things about Iliac Bay. They talk about how the sunsets are some of the best in the world and how it’s some of the most beautiful country across Tamriel, but these people have never lived in the region. Perhaps they have visited or been here on business, but they have never been exposed to it in the way that most of us are. I was born in Daggerfall City and I grew up knowing that there were few things I could count on:
I. I would never have new clothes.
II. There was never enough food.
III. We never had money and my mother never had time.
These were just simple truths which I had come to accept. It was by no means my mother’s fault, Arkay rest her soul, but she was not a wealthy woman and I was the child she hadn’t planned on. She did her best, but her best meant neither of us ever had a full belly and that clothes were few and far between. I don’t blame my mother for any of this; she did the best she could with a ne’er-do-well son like me and I hope she made peace in the next life with the truth about the man I have become.
Because my mother never had the time and we lived in the poorer parts of the city, I was exposed to a lot of things a child shouldn’t be. Everyone in the Guild knew my mother and they knew me because of it. My mother, you see, was a good woman and had a bigger heart than an Orc and for a woman who stood just over five foot, that’s a mighty impressive feat. She knew the boys at the Guild real well, because they’d spend a lot of time talking and drinking at the tavern where she would sling drinks. They knew her. They loved her. And because I was her kid, they loved me. That actually caused a lot of problems when my best friend, Andane, became the new sugar runner for the Guild.
Thing with Andane is he wasn’t the brightest kid, but he could run like a gazelle. Every watchman in Daggerfall knew he was a runner and every one of them would try to get him, but they just couldn’t keep up. I ended up going to Vincent, the guildrat in charge of distribution here in the city, and asked him why Andane was a runner and I wasn’t. Well, turns out, the Guild didn’t want me because of my mother. She always talked a lot about her sweet little boy who she knew was going to do something like become a printer or maybe a smith. That’s the thing about my mother, she always saw the best in people and she couldn’t for a second consider the thought of me becoming a guildrat.
Well Andane turned out to be sniffing a bit of the sugar which is why he was so fast. I had no idea until one day he was just gone and then I asked someone and they told me he’d been black-bagged. Like I said, he was a fast kid, but not the brightest. Everyone across the Bay knew you didn’t cross the Guild without repercussions and here Andane had been this whole time. But, I talked to Vincent after Andane was gone and he told me he needed a new runner and that I could do it, but my mother could never find out—she’d never forgive him if she found out he got me into this life.
Before you know it, I was making runs as often as they came in and they didn’t just see me as Elara’s kid anymore. I wasn’t quite in the guild, but I was an associate. You see, the Guild near the Bay didn’t function like a lot of these offshoots you see now-a-days. The bosses at the Bay ran things tight—real tight—those who did jobs for the Guild were just associates. The thing with associates is they had no real connection to the Guild and the local bosses would just throw them to the wolves if it came down to it, because they weren’t one of us. Vincent would’ve never done that with me, but I was a special case.
Before long, I wasn’t just running sugar anymore. I didn’t even have my hands in our drug trade anymore, because I had caught the attention of one of the bosses out in Wayrest. I’ll never forget my mother’s face when I gave her the papers from the Wayrest Printing Academy. She was so proud of me, but I lost a lot of sleep over that. Sure, forging the papers was easy, but she cried when she hugged me and told me she was so proud of her baby boy for making something of himself unlike her. Sometimes I still sit down here with just the rats and whisper out into the darkness: “I’m sorry, Mom.” She probably can’t hear me, but it helps to think that maybe if I say it enough, it’ll count for something.
Daggerfall was simple, but everything changed in Wayrest. I wasn’t just running sugar anymore; I was doing jobs that really shook me up. There’s nothing quite like the first time you black-bag someone whose been skimming profits. He was our accountant and he’d been falsely reporting our interest statements from the bank to us so that he could collect a bit extra. Boss didn’t like that and I got told if I wanted to be a full member of the Guild, this was my chance. Make us whole, he said. Let him know what happens to those who cross us.
I remember it well. I remember looking into his window as he was asleep under a blanket in an old rocking chair by the fire. His white cat, Snowball, who he’d talk about at length (it was really the only thing he talked about) asleep on his lap. I don’t know how long I sat on a rooftop near his home looking in at him, but I do remember that the twenty or so feet to get from that rooftop to his door was the hardest twenty feet I’ve ever walked. I say that as a man who has walked with broken ribs and a punctured spleen—that twenty feet was harder than anything I’ve ever done in my life.
I slipped into that house like a shadow and did it. Right then. Right there. I did not emerge from that house with a triumphant strut. I emerged with tears in my eyes as I walked away from the body of a man I barely knew whose life I had taken. There are few points in my career where I really questioned if this was right for me and that was one of them. I even wrote my mother telling her that I wasn’t sure if I was meant to be a printer. She wrote me back telling me that I just had to keep at it and that she was so proud of me for making something of myself. That letter didn’t help.
With time, I became more and more accustomed to the darker sides of my profession and I came to enjoy the privileges that went with it as well. It wasn’t long before I was going with the boss to meetings with King Eadwyre and Queen Barenziah and believe me, that gets you noticed. Women flocked to me. I had money. I had power. And believe me, I had fun. I developed a bit of a sugar habit, but I didn’t care, because hell, I could afford it. Who the hell can afford a sugar habit? Not many, but I was one of them—I was a made man in the Guild and that meant I passed up on things most people only dreamed of. Sure, I had to handle unsavory business, but it was still a pretty great life.
My mother sent word to me that she was getting married and asked me to attend. I talked to the boss and he agreed to let me go, but he also wanted me to handle some of that same business while I was out there. Turns out Vincent had been running his own little side operation without notifying the boss out here in Wayrest. I was supposed to attend my mother’s wedding, black-bag him, and then come back for more business as usual. Simple enough on paper.
I come back to Daggerfall City and I’m some kind of legend it feels like. Everyone I grew up with wants to talk to me, because they know who I am and who I work for—let me tell you—I’ve never wanted to be invisible as bad as I did when I went back, but fortunately, they were smart enough to keep their mouths shut around my mother.
It never hit me how long it’d been since I was here until I saw my mother. The years hadn’t been as good to her as they had been to me. Her auburn hair had turned an ashy grey and here skin had started to wrinkle, but she was still that amazing woman who always made sure I had something to eat—even if it wasn’t much. I told her that she looked like the most beautiful woman in all of Daggerfall and that I was so glad to see her again. She just smiled and told me that if I kept telling lies, my tongue would fall out. I can confirm that is not true, as it has not fallen out yet.
I started to ask her about who she was marrying and when she told me who, I am fairly certain I almost fainted. Vincent. The man my mother was going to marry was the son of an orc who was stealing from the Guild. I couldn’t believe it, but I did my best to smile at her and tell her how happy I was. I was not happy. I was anything but happy.
I remember watching that wedding. I remember how beautiful she looked in that white dress as she walked towards the man I was going to kill later that night. I remember her tears as they exchanged vows and I remember the talk he and I had right after they finished dancing. I told him that I wanted to talk business with him later tonight after my mother was asleep. He went and we talked and I black-bagged him right then and there.
I went to visit my mother one more time before I left and it was actually the last time we ever spoke. She was worried about Vincent and justifiably so, but I told her that she didn’t need to worry about him. The Guild looked after its own and that he’d be fine. She told me she was so grateful for me and that she loved me. I really didn’t deserve to have such a loving mother but I was blessed.
I went back to Wayrest and business continued as usual. A heist here. Kidnapping there. Black-baggings as needed. Time passed and word came through the grapevine that the Guildmaster himself was looking at me. Didn’t take long before I was given a barony in Wayrest from Queen Barenziah at the behest of the Guildmaster. It was made clear to me that this was “but a taste of the rewards to come”.
I ended up running the operations within my barony and before long, my branch was moving more Sugar (and Skooma) than anywhere else in the Bay. A few years later, I was running our drug trade all throughout the Bay and that’s when I met the Guildmaster in person. He wasn’t what I expected, but let me say that I will not go into detail about him, but he was far from anything I anticipated. He told me that I was going to replace him in the organization and that he had political business in Morrowind to address and I did so eagerly.
I thought I had made it. I was the Guildmaster of the Iliac Bay Thieves’ Guild and the richest man west of the White-Gold Tower (and second only to Canctunian Ponius, the Factor-in-Chief of the East Empire Company, east of it). I had made something of myself and become someone I was finally proud of. I sent word to my mother that I wanted her to come visit me in Wayrest (although she had no idea of the fact that she would be visiting my barony), but no response came. When some time passed, I sent one of my agents to check on her and he reported that she had passed a couple years ago—during the time when I was single-mindedly devoted to succeeding the Guildmaster.
I wasn’t sure how to feel after I received that news. I’d say I broke. I cracked. I was a man with grey in my hair from a life dedicated to this organization and yes, I was rich. I was the second-richest man in Tamriel (discounting the Emperor of course) and yet I did not care for all the riches I had amassed. I did not care for any of it, because it was then that it finally hit me. I had sold out my entire life to the Guild and now I was rich beyond measure, but I was alone.
Operations gradually declined and it was one fateful night when my estate was stormed by Legionaries. Barenziah had not left yet, but the others within my organization convinced her not to favor me any longer, and thus, my invulnerability vanished. I did not put up much a fight that night. They pinned me to the ground and put me in shackles and rejoiced that they had caught the infamous Kingpin of Iliac Bay, but I just shook my head in disappointment at these men. There will always be a man like me at the head of the Guild, because the Guild is a machine much like a clock and it will tick and it will tock and it will keep on going until time has stopped, because dear reader, it is not you who is preyed upon by the Guild, but we who are preyed upon by it. And so long as we continue to feed it by swearing ourselves into its service, the cogs and clockwork will continue to tick and tock and the cycle will begin anew.
Dear reader, learn from my mistakes and do not do as I did. Do not run for the Guild, do not steal for the Guild, do nothing for the Guild, because it all starts with just one job.