Why did I choose this?
The Head of His Majesty’s Inquisition asked himself for the thousandth time as he strode down the corridor. The walls were rendered and whitewashed, though none too recently. There was a seamy feel down here, and a smell of damp that could get into one’s clothes. There was little light, seeing as there were no windows for the hallway Thaddeus Am Dosht was walking through was deep beneath the ground. The lanterns cast flowing shadows on the whitened walls as he passed them.
Why would anyone choose this ungrateful vocation?
He knew most thought his chosen profession as vile and despicable, yet none would be so foolish to admit such a sentiment to his face. Fear was what kept the world in line, Dosht had learned. His walking made a steady rhythm on the grimy tiles of the floor. From time to time the dullness of the corridor would be broken by a heavy bolted door, bound and studded with pitted iron on sturdy wood.
It had taken him a while to weed out the sadists and butchers, but now he was quite confident he had re-assigned those crude tools where they were used best: in the penal colonies of Pan-Dessia. They belonged with their kind, criminals and savages. The measure had not been popular with most Inquisitors or Superiors, but as Inquisitor-General they could hardly refuse his orders. Dosht was well versed and practiced in getting things done. Done his way, that is.
Further down the hall he saw two tall Practicals shove a man inside one of the doors, a bag over his head and his hands tied behind his back. A fourth figure joined them inside, dressed in the black garments of His Majesty’s Inquisition.
As Inquisitor-General he knew the contents of the rooms behind these ominous doors in most cases. He looked up toward the arch over one of the doors. Room 146 - Mercer, Lewyn Dun, accused of embezzling stocks and fraud.
If the Inquisitor and his Practicals in charge of the case would do their job -and Dosht was convinced they would- then the Inquisition would be a good deal richer at the end of the trial, and the Mercer’s Guild a good deal poorer. He allowed himself a faint grin as he passed on in the shadows. Thaddeus Am Dosht made these kind of rounds in the underground complex of the House of Questions every so often, it was good to remember where he came from. Additionally it kept the army of Inquisitors and Practicals on their feet, not knowing where he might spring up next.
Thaddeus reached the light at the end of the tunnel: the end of the corridor, he knew. The entire passage was blocked by a series of thick steel bars, with a metal door in the center. Three lumbering Practicals were on duty, wearing the distinct masks of their profession, electro-batons on their hips. Dosht approached, the seal of his office coming into the light from the lantern hanging above their small wooden table littered with cards. He saw their eyes grow wide with surprise. “Practicals Dern, Sumner and Lorac.” He knew it was unsettling to others when he called them by their names, the ability was unnerving and he thanked his good memory for it was not an easy thing to do with masked men and women.
He left the underground lair for what it was: uncovering plots, dissecting truth from lie and laying bare conspiracies and intrigue. As the door closed behind him he imagined he could hear a faint screaming... Another grin crept on his stern face. Evidence of efficiency
, he thought.
Several flights of stairs and check-points manned by bulky Practicals later, Thaddeus opened the double doors to the office of the Inquisitor-General; his office. It was a large and richly appointed room on the highest floor in the House of Questions, a room in which everything was just carefully measured and tailored for Thaddeus Am Dosht was a man of refined taste. The upper floors of the House of Questions contrasted starkly with the man-made hell below ground. From his huge, intricate window in the centre of one of his wood-panelled walls he could look out across Abercrose Square, all the way to the Dome where the Open Council would be in session at this time of day. The other walls were adorned with tapestries, paintings and hunting trophies, among which a Nightcat’s skull from Pan-Dessia. The beast had been responsible for a series of kills. Others had blamed the native workers, but Thaddeus’ investigation had uncovered the true feral perpetrator.
Another door gave access to his study and personal salon. From there, on two additional doors opened into his boudoir and red marble bathroom with golden faucets he'd still need to get replaced. He didn't care much for shiny metal where nobody could see them. There was no purpose to having golden faucets, for gold existed to display wealth. Which only is the little brother of influence and power, yet people often confuse them...
In the centre of the room stood his ornate desk with surprisingly modest chair, which was not too big as if he were compensating for something. Two chairs were positioned in front of the mahogany desk, one was clearly a comfortable piece of furniture, while the other was evidently designed to make it’s occupant as uncomfortable and unpleasant as possible. Visitors would be seated in either of those two, depending on why one was in the Inquisitor-General’s office. The wall directly behind held a magnificent stone hearth where a small yet pleasant fire was burning. Above the hearth hung a live sized painting of the owner of the office, dressed in an elegant attire that positively brimmed with authority.
The Inquisitor-General gave nothing away and perhaps in this lay but one source of his authority. His green eyes flickered restless and intelligent, simultaneously mirrors and walls for the keen mind that had marked his life’s journey. His likeness had been painted by a master artist from the continent and commanded pride of place above the fireplace. It had indeed been a hand of genius that had managed to capture the agelessness and strength in Thaddeus’ portrait, for it was the proof of something fleeting, something beyond capture that unnerved many. His features were clear evidence of the Dosht blood that flowed in his veins, made apparent in the shape of the nose and the chiselled jaw, while as befitting his position, his eyes were locked under a brooding brow. Do I really look that arrogant?
Dosht moved over to take the seat at his mahogany desk, the wood shining as if newly oiled. Two neat stacks of filed paperwork rested at the right side, waiting for an assistant to collect them and file them in the proper cabinets or hand them down the proper channels. However, a big parchment was lying on the writing surface, a letter unfinished. Dipping his pen in the inkwell he moved the point over the piece of parchment. In his fluent, strict handwriting he wrote down the recipient, an old... an old... What, an old friend? Ludicrous notion. Do I even have friends? An old acquaintance will have to do...
He scribbled on. Hah, friends... they’re only people you bless with trust until they dig a knife-point into your back.