Now you have the look of a connoisseur, an educated appreciator of all things exquisite and dangerous.
And I, Cadiro, am one who provides such delights. Once a lord of influence and opulence, I am now but a humble peddler seeking to recover his lost fortunes. Gold coins of Perandus mintage, secreted away in gilded chests so as to escape the grasping digits of that puritanical usurper, Voll of Thebrus. Perhaps you have seen such chests on your travels?
If so, I could offer you antiquities of remarkable potency, paraphernalia of pernicious craftsmanship. All I would ask in return is the conveyance of the contents of said chests to my person.
As fortune would have it, I have such a wonder in stock even now. A relic of such formidable agency that I shudder to think what it could do in the hands of one predisposed to use it.
Yes, you are quite right to query my curious penchant for obsolete currency.
Once there was a time when my personal symphony was composed, quite completely, of the delightful tinklings of coinage. Nowadays, I'm dancing to someone else's tune.
I have a backer, you see, who generously supports my ongoing liquidity. Naturally, he expects a good return on his investment, and it transpires that only coinage of the golden variety will satiate that expectation.
Chitus was shaping up to be the greatest leader since Veruso. My nephew's gemling thaumatocracy would have made the Empire truly eternal, would have raised mankind up from the fragile muck of flesh and blood. And the wealth... oh the riches that could have flowed through the Empire's capitalist capillaries.
Then that idiot of a High Templar had to come along and ruin it all. Him and his 'God of Purity' and his army of fanatics and barbarians. A veritable horde of ignorance.
If Chitus had lived, the Empire would have lived, and oh what a wondrous and eternal life it would have had!
The same day that Veruso planted his banner in the soil of Sarn, the Perandus family built the first market stall. That one stall spawned so many others that the people came to call our venture Perandus Markets.
We were never vain enough to make the name official. Until Chitus took the throne, we were a most unassuming consortium.
Yes, we did occasionally employ the Silent Brotherhood to remove the more stubborn obstacles to our commercial endeavours, but for the most part we tended to solve our issues with coin and contract rather than bow and blade.
In hindsight, we should have taken the reins of power much earlier. If we had done so then perhaps I could now be speaking of Perandus in the plural rather than the singular.
When you're a fat purse such as I, you are wise to insure yourself against being slit and emptied. In the face of Voll's ridiculous crusade to Highgate, I thought it only prudent to bolster my insurance policies.
It was in our household god, Prospero, that I found my ideal underwriter. While my relations paid tithe and lip service to Prospero the symbol, Prospero the myth, I chose to dig a little deeper than that.
To my delight, it transpired that our god was not only real, but of a similar opinion regarding the near, uncertain future of the Empire.
We signed a contract, Prospero and I, and more than two centuries have borne witness to our successful partnership.
This was once the pride and joy of the Perandus name. A habitable monument to our mercantile potency. Balls and banquets filled these halls with music and intrigue. Counsels and contracts festooned our studies and boardrooms. Capital built our walls and profits polished our gleaming floors.
Alas, that which is shiny shall dull. That which is grand shall crumble. Such is the stark reality of materialism. Yet this place retains a certain 'decrepit opulence' that reminds me of the better times that were, and the better times that still could be.