Salt, Gold, Steel and Ghosts (Spellbound Kingdoms)
The Rithaign Factors, Insurers and Beggars
The Rithaign Factors, Insurers and Beggars Guild is a legitimate city Guild popular amongst the lower classes, providing a small measure of health and livelihood insurance for its members, and a good interface between the middle classes (the Factors and Insurers) and the peasants (the Beggars.) Inasmuch as any Guild which is obliged to look after its own members first and foremost can be good for the general populace, the Factors, Insurers and Beggars Guild does more for the wellbeing of the citizenry of Rithaign than any other, with the possible exception of the Dockhandler’s Guild.
Of greater significance to the aspiring outlaw in Rithaign, the Factors, Insurers and Beggars Guild is a front for the Merchants Below, one of the two main thieves guilds in Rithaign. While by no means a friend to the common man, the association with their legitimate guild front has given the Merchants a more forgiving outlook towards their fellow commoners: they try and restrict their crimes to smuggling, robbery, forgery and other crimes which target the nobility and the middle classes – after all, peasants don’t have very much money to steal. It should be noted that this isn’t to say that they don’t break into people’s houses and mug them on the street, it’s just that those activities aren’t a cornerstone of their operations in the same way that they are for the Cutters.
Their choice of victim has made them a primary target for the Duke, the Watch and the other nobility. The Cutters tend to be at the forefront of gossip more often – what with all the murders – but there are very few nobles or wealthy traders who don’t harbour a grudge against the Merchants. They have a lot of friends amongst traders not based in Rithaign, however, who are happy to buy their black market and stolen goods at a steep discount, all the while happily doing business long, long away from the thieving hands of the Merchants’ heist crews.
The Merchants make their headquarters in Oparth’s End, although their many hideouts in the sewers are an open secret. They rely on a network of informants and lookouts to keep one step ahead of the Watch and the Militia, who frequently kick down the doors of houses in the Meander and Oparth’s End, looking for the Merchants.
The leader of the guild is Ginny ‘Wheellock’ Siddal, a native of Rithaign, a ferocious gunfighter, a fantastic thief and con artist and, secretly, spellbound. While most people in Rithaign’s underworld know that Ginny is a witch, even the Cutters don’t want that information spreading too far: nobody wants the Dryght thinking that Rithaign’s thieves guilds are a refuge for rogue spellbound. Being a target for the King’s ire herself, Ginny – and by extension the Merchants – are friendly to the Axemen’s cause. Not exactly allies, Ginny still shares information with the rebels and occasionally offers her services as a fence or for transport.
Below Ginny, the Merchants are more egalitarian than the Cutters. They mostly consist of small crews who govern themselves and answer to Ginny and her advisors. More recently, they have attempted to keep contact between the Merchant crews to a minimum and restrict it to crew leaders, in case of capture and interrogation. Ginny’s advisors act as gobetweens, messengers and couriers for the Guild, and keep the whole thing running smoothly.