Deal 770: The Apothecary

As a proud graduate of The Verboom School, my successes are my greatest shame. The school motto “Honor before Triumph” laced our early years with a desire to win but not by dishonor. But in the later years, the students expected to be destined to be the movers and shakers were quietly inducted into the secret societies, where we we learned a deeper truth: loosing is worse than dishonor. Most of the societies had relatively benign public faces, but the activities taught and sanctioned by their inner circles were anything but benign.

As a member of the Verboom chapter of the Apothecary Society, I earned my eventual success in spite of carefully placed doses of poison. Certainly I was not the only one. Many of my class died of suspicious causes and I am one of the very few lucky to have survived a cruel system. I am not a monster, but I was raised in the company of monsters.

My progress through school is a matter of public record, and given my position has become a matter of public discussion.

Today, I step forward as a candidate for the succession. And today begins a new chapter. The skills taught in the inner sanctum of the secret society are no longer appropriate. The old system is out of hand and must end.

From this day forward, my vision is to put our fate in the hands of those pure of motive. And as a graduate and survivor of the old ways, I believe I am the best candidate to espouse that vision and end the old ways forever.

The old societies survive because of their secrecy. In its public face, the Apothecaries are a benevolent society of bartenders. What could be more typical of the University experience than an abundance of strong drink, and occasional companions of easy virtue. The secret is that the small sins of drunkenness and fornication provide an easy target, allowing any suspicious authorities an easy out without digging deeper. Dig deeper, and you find the extensive library of poison lore. A library filled not only with the opinions of science, but also the anecdotes and case studies of many applications of poisons under difficult field conditions.

The Society of Fletchers would seem to be an innocent club for aficionados of darts, especially played with an abundant supply of ale and stout near to hand, and often with barmaids of somewhat easy virtue as well. Again, the easy target distracts from an inner circle that trains some of the finest snipers. When silence is needed at closer ranges, they trade services with the Apothecaries for poisons to dip their darts.

Were the full truth to come out, many of high station would find themselves on shaky footing. By my reckoning, nearly two-thirds of those in charge of the business of government came from secret societies tainted at their core. Since none of those are speaking out today, I must assume that they did not survive their early years untainted. And I will go further than assume; I will investigate, and when appropriate, I will accuse.


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