Ixion's Wheel logo

Inigo Carivelli – Turn 1

THERE WAS A breeze carrying dead leaves, scraps and dust up Stock Hill, and Inigo Carivelli had to shield his eyes with his hand as he descended into the centre of Sahela. There were few other travellers about at this hour of the morning, early in Nodele as it was, and those he passed were hunched up into their clothes as though preparing for an expedition to Chilaw. Inigo's heart was light, though, and he saw no reason to compress himself against the wind. What a fine thing it was to be alive! Finer yet to be young, handsome and talented. Finest of all to be a Third Circle Initiate of the Green Room, and in Sahela, the city where the arcane and the mundane were so felicitously married in the construction of edifices, mighty and modest alike, that in the majesty of their proportion and the awesomeness of their lineaments proclaimed to all Yes! Here is Man! What a Thing he has Wrought!

Stock Hill was out of his most direct way to the centre, but Inigo had chosen to take this detour so as to pass the mansion of the great Darkev, Sahela's leading architect. Darkev too had been a penniless journeyman once, yet now was one of the richest men in the city. Looking down the hill to where it met the Highway, Inigo could see Darkev's New Guildhall, only recently finished - sleek, powerful and massive, it lay beside its predecessor like a lion beside a house-puss. It was not in a style he himself would have chosen, but he could not deny that it had a certain force about it. And further down the Highway could be glimpsed the spires of the Carlyon Library, the tour-de-force that crowned the career and ended the life of Waring Clutch. Now there was a man more after Inigo's heart: he had set himself to build the tallest spires in the world, regardless of the fainthearts who deemed such extravagance unsuited to a scholarly institution, and he had driven himself to death to achieve it - but achieve it he had, and with that made his name immortal, and his vision glower down on every man, woman and child in Sahela, filling them with terror at the Library's majesty of form.

Whistling, Inigo continued to saunter down Stock Hill, nodding politely to left and right as he passed each hunched struggler.

HIS FIRST PORT of call was at the House of Trimble. Why not start at the top? Davril Trimble was said to be the wealthiest man on the Wheel, yet it was some years since he had commissioned any building of note. Was he not thinking of his posterity?

Inigo waited impatiently in the anteroom, together with half a dozen other petitioners, while a bored secretary filled in forms and kept an eye on them. This was a tedious room, no more than a tall rectangular space, with a perfunctory architrave all that broke up its regularity. There were some sententious portraits around the walls: Trimble himself, his mother Jord, the Charterers of Sahela {a copy of Pelisse's famous painting showing them erecting the standard on Hillas Point}. He drummed his fingers on his portfolio, surprised when the secretary tutted annoyedly at him.

'Master Carivelli?' A flunky had appeared at last. It had been nearly an hour! Did Trimble not realise what he might be missing?

Inigo leapt to his feet with alacrity, brandishing his drawings. 'I am ready! Lead on, lead on!'

He was conducted down a wood-panelled corridor towards a small office suite at the far end. He frowned: he'd expected Davril Trimble to keep larger state than this! But the destination was not Trimble at all, it seemed, but a middle-aged woman with her hair in a bun, smartly dressed, who leaned back in hr chair and regarded him slowly from behind a huge, cluttered oaken desk. 'Master Carivelli? Take a seat.' She indicated a bent-back chair drawn up to the desk. It seemed rather low.

'Hmm, there may have been some mistake. I specifically asked to see Master Trimble himself...'

'Master Trimble is a very busy man, sir. I am Natia Verrule, one of his assistants, and I have his full authority in matters of dealing with such as yourself.'

Was there a slight curl to her lip? Inigo opened his mouth briefly, and then closed it again. Best to make what he could of a bad job! 'Here, then, madam, perhaps you could cast your eye over these designs?' He opened the portfolio, and began spreading plans over the desk, laying his drawings carefully on the heaps of clutter.

Mistress Verrule looked at the drawings with some care, he had to give her credit for that. Her lips moved silently. 'What is this one? Some sort of band-stand?'

'No, indeed! That is my model for the Rotunda of the Palace of the Four Beauties I propose.'

'A large building, then? I had taken these figures to represent people.'

'Hmm... no, those are heroic statues. Each should be fifty feet tall.'

Her eyebrows shot up and she moved on to the next drawing.

QUARTER OF AN hour later, Natia Verrule sighed and pushed back her hair, which had fallen forward. 'Now, really, Master Carivelli, I can see you have a certain talent, but this really will not do, d'you see?'

'Why so?' Inigo was puzzled.

'All these proposals are on far too large a scale for the House of Trimble to contemplate. An unkind critic might even call them monstrosities.'

Inigo paled and his hand went instinctively to his sword. Had she not been a woman she would have apologised for that. Ignoring him, she continued.

'We have no wish at this time to imprint our image on the Sahelan skyline, sir, and do not foresee any such need.' She sighed. 'Look, young man, I'd like to be able to help you, but this is not the right time for such a proposal. How about this - we will consider commissioning you on a small project, the design and construction of an ornamental fountain in the gardens of this building, Where the staff take their mid-day meal: to brighten it up a little. This would be materials and labour no more than a thousand guilders, and a thousand guilders also the fee to yourself.'

A measly thousand guilders! One could barely build a bird-bath for that money, at least in the style to which Inigo was accustomed. Not a bad fee, though: that would keep him in lodgings, clothed and fed for three months if he was careful. It seemed as though he was going to have to work hard to establish his name here in Sahela, given the number of talented architects here already. But why would Trimble not want a larger project? 'I will consider your proposal, and answer you by tomorrow, Mistress Verrule' he replied easily.

'Good! I look forward to doing business with you, Master Carivelli.' They shook hands, and Inigo swept his papers back together into his portfolio.

LEAVING THE HOUSE of Trimble, Inigo blinked in the bright chill air. Taking a deep breath, he headed off for the Chancel of the Sahelan Green Room. Here was where fellow-masons were to be found, both those of a mundane persuasion who sought little but the skill of hewing stone, and also those who like himself were eager to delve into the mysterious principles that underlay harmonious foundation. He had been initiated into the Green Room at his journeymanship, as was everyone, but had now progressed as far as the Third Circle: farther than many ever wished to reach, but he had no idea how many Circles there might be, or what terrific strands of learning they might serve to show.

The Chancel was an unassuming building set back from the trading thoroughfares of Old Sahela, as Chancels were the Wheel over: the dictum was that no member of the Unawakened should ever suspect the building's purpose, for all that she might walk past it every day. This dated back to the days when the Green Room had been persecuted by the Church authorities, in the old Duchy of Ribero in particular, and subsequently by the State as in Pangaturan. Here in Sibutan the Green Room had been there with the original settlers, those fleeing injustice and hatred, and had guided their hands as they constructed their new cities, so membership of it was nothing to be ashamed or secretive about: but the old habits persisted.

Inigo was surprised to see, as soon as he walked in the door, a fellow-Samarindan, Xavier Viron.

'Master Viron! What are you doing here?' He clasped the other's hand in the Green Room salute.

'Why, young Carivelli, I might ask the same of you - did I not know the answer already! Something of a matter of honour, was it not? I can tell you that Guildmaster Hartley Jarvis is still after your blood, boy, for killing his son, so don't think you can be going back home for a while yet!'

'Oh no, sir, I'm making my home here now - are you to join me?'

Viron sighed, pushing his hands through his close-cropped steel-grey hair as they took seats by the fire. 'Not so, alas, I've been here on work, just finishing the ornamentals on Darkev's new Guildhall.'

'I'd thought Carrie Flail was the master on that?'

'She broke her leg, poor woman, and... politics! Darkev didn't trust her deputy Walter Ruff - you know him? - so called me in, and the hoo-ha you can't imagine - "a foreigner topping out our Guildhall" and the like - nothing better to do than make trouble, some of these Guild Councillors!'

Inigo nodded sympathetically. He had come across Ruff, a cocky, swaggering man, good at controlling a team of workers but no visionary: and prone to quickness of temper, a bad attribute to have five hundred feet above the ground.

'And then there was a tremendous row over how the heraldic symbols of the four cities were to be arranged - Darkev had had the idea of honouring Sahela's allies, y'see - but which was to come above which, and what size they should be -' he shook his head. 'Anyway, it's all over now, and I'm back to Samarinda day after tomorrow. Well, what have you been up to since arriving here?'

Inigo opened his portfolio eagerly. Viron was an excellent practical mason, who had an eye for the Terrific - not as strong as his own, of course, though this was unsurprising in one from the previous generation, the generation of his master Elysion. Spreading out the drawings, he was surprised to see a page of parchment stamped with the city's crest among them - he must have picked it up by accident from Verrule's desk. He stuffed it into his pocket and spread his designs before Viron.

'WELL, THE OLD place certainly lost something when it lost you, young man - not quite sure what! But I reckon you'll surprise us all in the end.' Xavier Viron rubbed his eyes as Inigo paled under this praise. 'The old man still talks about you, you know.'


'Exactly. When he's drunk, he wishes you were with him so he could clout you round the ear with his square like he used to... happy days, eh? But seriously, young Inigo, if you ever do wish to make a name, you'll have to rebuild some of those bridges you've burnt. Pay off some of those debts, answer some of those charges. Look at me: I'm travelling between the cities all the time. Darkev's off down to Seoni Kuchinda for some work next month. Architecture's international now, boy, you can't hide in one place forever or you'll stay small. And once you do start getting business here, then folk back home'll start coming out after you if they think you've got money, you wait and see.' He yawned. 'I'm off. Any messages for anyone back in Samarinda, drop them off on me in the morning if you like - I'm at the Carter's Rest, taking the coach back at noon.'

Inigo rose politely as the older man left, then resumed packing away his drawings once more. Suddenly he remembered the document he had found, and fished it out of his pocket.

That was curious - the Council licensing a privateer in the international waters of the Morbific? Surely Pangaturan, which traded those routes most heavily, would protest? And who was this Mary Welch, anyway, and what had she to do with Trimble? Frowning, he put the parchment back out of sight, unsure of what to do with it.

Now, what would the next strategy be? Should he take Verrule's commission of the fountain, no matter how degrading it seemed? Apart from Trimble there was his great merchant rival Septimus Severin to consider, who might be in the market for a monumental edifice: and there was the Guild Council itself, although they of course were still paying for the New Guildhall. Perhaps a visit to The Mimer's Well might be in order, to find out other prospective clients. Tomorrow was another day!


Ixion's Wheel main page | Next turn