Uneasy Lies the Head
Personalities of the Bank
Three years out of date but no major changes
Personalities of the Bank:
Alberto Sevorra (62)
Known as a Banker’s Banker, Alberto Sevorra is one of the most respected Upright Men in the city.
It is known but not widely that he was not born in the bank. He is of middle class background and to this day there are Sevorras running small but prosperous hardware store in New City. Alberto, however, was drawn to the bank since childhood, idolized the knife fighters and suffered years of gentle and not so gentle ribbing as an outsider before being finally accepted as a true banker, one of the very few outsiders who ever managed the feat. He rose quickly among the gangs, acquiring reputation as meticulous organizer and the living example of the Banker’s Code of Honor. “To do a Sevorra” became a Bank expression for a perfectly planned bloodless heist without double-crosses or surprises.
While he is an excellent knife fighter, dancer and gang boss, Sevorra’s true skill lies in his impeccable memory and sense for people. Over his four decades in Neu Ungren underworld he has brought the “Just a Man for the Job” to the perfection, the skill to which most of the credit for his successful operations must be given.
By now comfortably rich (he never aspired to compete even with minor navigators or rich River Rats) Sevorra has retired from most of the criminal operations. Even though he is by far the most respected Upright Man in the bank he does not run it as a fief the way, for example, Pietro Tallantino runs the Cathedral or Bobby Friddle runs the Barrens. Instead he functions as a sort of final court of appeals to the many neighborhood gangs. Even though, or because, he has no gang of his own, his sensible “justice” is usually adhered to. He dislikes violence, except the formal knife-duels, and even those, when done under his auspices, tend to be “Consegnare” or, ‘until someone yields’. As most of the other Bankers he takes a great affront at any attempt to put a protection racket on the citizens of the Bank.
Michaello Rosa (41)
Self proclaimed Professional Duelist, Michaello Rosa has a reputation as an Assassin. He comes from the old Banker family that has carried the reputation for both style and violence for generations. In his black attire with a feathered hat, silken cloak, thin rapier, carefully styled mustache and a perennial smirk, Rosa can be easily dismissed as a fop – mistake that many did not live long enough to regret.
His avowed profession is a relic of a past generation when dueling was still very popular among the navigators and other well-to-do of the city. It was unimaginable that one would not accept the invitation to the duel. The duel had to be performed in person except for the old and the infirm who had a right to name a willing champion. Rosa the Elder was a man who would for a right recompense be such a champion. The less savory part of the dueling business was being paid by the enemies of a man to infiltrate his social circles and then take a slight at some minor injury, challenge and then kill or maim him.
Some say that it was this very practice that spelled the end of dueling in the city. Rosas, father and son, who by then functioned as a team, are rumored to have latter branched out into other kinds of Assassinations. With the death of the Ruggiero, Michaello is now a head of the family and is training his two sons and a daughter in the arts of dueling.
Besides the standard banker Code of Honor all Rosas are known to follow their own code of protecting children and helpless and, avowedly, never killing a man without giving him a chance.
Alessio Foyer (53)
Old, fat Alessio Foyer is Neu Ungern answer to a stereotype of the Jovial Inkeep. He is an owner of the “Bull and the Virgin” a sprawling tavern he inherited from his uncle and enlarged further himself. With its central location “Bull” was always one of the major drinking holes of the Bank. Its future was assured when Tratiarro Foyer, previous proprietor, bought the ramshackle hut across the Serpentine alley and built the bridge between the two making his inn the prime viewing spot for all activities in the famous alley. Alessio inherited his uncle’s business sense and continued expanding the inn. His main interest, however, lies in the rumor mongering and hearing gossip from four quarters of Neu Ungren. It is said that Alessio Foyer knows better who wore what dress on the Fiesta di Patrizzi then those who were actually there. To maintain his level of information he relies on the rumors heard in his inn but also on the web of paid informants, mostly urchins, servants and such. He is not beyond selling information to others, although he will not give the information on Bankers to outsiders, but he has made it clear that he is not in it for the money. A connoisseur of the intrigue, he was known to leak sensitive information in the right ears for no reason at all except creating the difficult and (for him) interesting situations.
Giullio Leone (20)
Giullio Leone, or the Lion Cub as he is known in the Bank, is the greatest among the up and coming knife fighting youths of the neighborhood. Barely 20 years old, he is already bandied as the next Quintilliano or even as the natural heir to Alberto Sevorra. Extremely hot tempered and egotistical he has on a number of occasions tested the limits of the Bank Code. He despises “Consegnare” and has already killed more then a dozen men in knife duels and brawls. According to the rumor he has swam Tierz in order to sneak into the Cathedral district unnoticed and steal virginity of the Pietro Tallantino’s youngest daughter as well as some of her jewelry. He is also rumored to have killed a Guildsman and has a price on his head put by the Master of Works. While Sevora and other senior Bankers dislike the young hothead, he has almost fanatical following among the younger knife-boys as well as the adolescent girls as far away as New City. His gang, The Pride, composed mostly of the teenage bankers is considered one of the most dangerous in the neighborhood and has staked a claim and fought for a slice of the New City pie where they have developed reputation for brutality.
His young, “clean cut” appearance stands in stark contrast with his savage ways.
Heinrich Mancini (43)
After the retirement of Domenic Metastanos, his only true student and heir Heinrich became Senior Burglar of the Bank and probably one of the top five in the city at large. Having inherited his masters liking for meticulous preparation and risk averse ways, Heinrich performs relatively rarely, not more then four or five times a year. His well developed information network as well as well developed disposal contracts assure that these jobs keep him in very comfortable money year round. Heinrich hates to work in a team and will almost never take a job in which he does not have practically unlimited freedom of action. He has worked for Sevora in the past but generally prefers his own arrangements. The principal flaw in his otherwise cautious ways is his weakness for beautiful women which has already led him to danger number of times.
Vera Fabii (29)
One of the most famous courtesans of Neu Ungren, Vera Fabii is almost certainly one of the infamous Discreet Companions. Her origin is a mystery but given that she is fully accepted in the bank, she must have some connections there. Her house on the very northern edge of the Bank is one of the most tasteful examples of the “new city” style and generally one of the most pleasant buildings in the city.
She contracts for a variety of services but very rarely for periods shorter then a week or longer then two months. Being seen with Vera on a social occasion is a definite sign of status as she is careful in picking her clients. She is most famous for a week-long “retreat” in her house in the Bank which is often contracted by navigators returning from crossing or by rich, and liberal, fathers as the coming of age gift for their sons. Little is known of the retreat except that Vera subcontracts a number of beautiful assistants and that those coming out are loath to speak about it except to praise it as a “lifetime experience”.
Almost as tall as Magyr women, but more slender and with longer legs then most of them, and with her gold hair usually cut very short by Neu Ungren standards, Vera has unusual looks for both neighborhood and the city.
One of her many mysteries is whether she is actually related to the Fabii, once powerful navigatorial family that has been counted as extinct for over four generations.
Old Gobbo (70 ?)
The opinions are divided as to the true state of mind of the old, blind beggar who has been roaming Bank for almost half a century. Some say that he is feigning madness and is in fact an agent for Sevorra or Foyer or someone even more sinister. Other recall that once upon a time Gobbo was a regular Bank kid but that sometime happened over fifty years ago that made him lose his eyes and most of his sanity. On occasions he is capable of astonishing intelligence, even cunning. Most of the time, though he is wandering aimlessly up and down the bank, talking to himself, begging from strangers and scaring children with strangely twisted fairy tales. From time to time he scrapes the mud of the freshly arrived barges and makes beautiful if slightly disturbing sculptures that he leaves on the street corners to be destroyed by the next rain. In Bank he is considered “Loco” – the sacred madman and is considered to be under the general protection of all.
Thom Friedman (39)
One of the great knife fighters of the last decade is now rarely seen in the Bank. He has taken a place as a fixer to Mastelli family. However, Iron Thom is still occasionally seen in his old haunts and his old gang still assembles once a year, on Saint Galivinus to celebrate the old times. Now, however, there is a tension whenever Thom is back to the bank. His fame clings to him despite the fact that he had not entered a duel in nearly ten years, the fame that makes him a target for the young knife-fighters who want to make name for themselves by trying out on someone as good as Thom. More then anything, his friends dread the inevitable day when Lion Cub himself will come forward with the challenge. Several times already young Gullio has attempted to force older man into the duel but Thom (with some help from Alessio Foyer) dodged him. As with so many things Gullio took that as a personal affront and is now determined to face the old knife-fighter.
Iron Thom is an unusually ugly man. At a first glance he lacks the grace and speed necessary for a knife-fighter. His flat wide face and massive hands would be much more adequate to a bruiser from Back of the Docks or the Cathedral. Yet, despite his bulk he is reasonably agile and remarkably strong, somehow capable of throwing his entire weight behind the crucial stab. As a fixer, he prefers intimidation and even blackmail to outright violence but is rumored to have killed at the orders of his Mastell masters.
He is known to nurse personal vendetta against Greggor Dunn but the fact that they both now hold “respectable” positions means that it is been put on hold.
Giacommo Ferr (57)
The principal entertainer of the Bank tried for a long time to find “the one real thing” that will finally make him rich and respected. Starting as a pimp of one of the lesser known brothels of the Bank he understood early that the young and rich who come to the neighborhood searching for entertainment can be milked for the large amounts of money. He just never figured how. His original idea, striptease club, fizzled as the type of the girls he wanted to attract preferred to work for Dragan in his out of the way Butterfly. While stripping act became a feature of the regular brothel entertainment it never achieved class and dignity of the competition. Lacking any artistic talent himself, Master Ferr went on to try to put up the show with a variety of performers, from knife jugglers and singers all the way to staged fights. The latter brought him in conflict with a number of prominent Bankers who thought it too “old city” for their neighborhood.
Years of failure have made Ferr a bitter man even though he is able to maintain a remarkably cheerful façade when called to. His brothel, “Marianne” has developed reputation as a grim place, employing largely girls, such as Donez refugees and those deeply in debt and charging significantly more for the kind of services that would more properly be available near the Rat’s market. This had opened another side business for Master Ferr, that of petty blackmail. All of this made him quite well off if largely despised.
Yet, he is a banker and has never openly violated the Code. This means that he is more or less safe in the Bank and “Marianne” is even occasionally patronized by some of the knife fighters.
Vilma van Hook (47)
While it is well known that the best cheap eats in the city are just off the Fisherman’s Market and that one can spend most money on the food in the dining salons of the Bernandino’s and Lady’s the simply best food in the city is served by the homely widow of an adventurer from the northernmost reaches of the Empire in a small restaurant in the Bank.
Albert van Hook came to Neu Ungren some fifteen years ago, ostensibly fleeing the vendetta and more likely fleeing the imperial authorities. He intended to book the passage south on one of the ships but caught dysentery while crossing the swamp and died barely week after arriving to the city. He was accompanied by the pregnant wife. Vilma did not intend to continue south without her husband. On the other hand she was not able or willing to go back to Oran. She staid in the city, using what little money was left from her husband to start a kitchen. She chose the Bank almost randomly, finding the lack of the good restaurants there. Vilma’s skill and the general appeal of the Oran cuisine with its pastries, cakes and tender meats made her successful and, even though she never put her prices above the reach of an average craftsman or small merchant, one of the richer people in the bank. “The Pheasant” is today one of the most visited in the bank and at meal time one can expect to line up for up to an hour to get a spot. Vilma has become a part of her neighborhood though and Bankers, and similar special guests are sometimes let in through the back-door.
Vilma’s daughter, Dorothea van Hook, is unfortunately much more like her roguish father then her sensible mother. With her sand-blond hair and full figure, she is already much more impressive sight then her mother ever was and, of lately she has started to notice the attentions of local bravos. Vilma keeps a firm discipline over the youngster but despairs of being able to keep her out of trouble indefinitely.
Rumor has it that Vilma is in love with Luca Santoni and that they have been lovers but, besides the fact that Luca is frequent customer at the Pheasant there is little to substantiate this.
Madam Magdalene (65 ?)
If one can not afford such as Vera Fabii, and does not wish to have anything to do with people like Giacommo Ferr, one goes to what some claim is the best brothel in the Western Empire, Madam Magdalene’s “Blue Place” in the dead centre of the Bank. At significant but not outrageous prices madam organizes most kinds of consensual entertainment by the crew of good looking, healthy, young and fit girls. What sets the Madam out from the number of other brothels in the city is her attention to detail. From the perfect beds (firm but not to hard), ever present refreshments, tasteful decorations to, most importantly, hand-picked, exceptionally motivated crew.
The strange thing about Madam is that contrary to the most in her profession she has never been a prostitute herself. She hails from minor nobility and is related to the Tepeses of Balaton. She came to the city some thirty years ago as a part of a religious mission. She was part of an all-female Cillite mission, invited from Balaton by the patriarch Khristhoff Uller to help the city poor and sinful women onto the right path. Mission worked with the prostitutes and beggars in the Old city attempting to train them as domestics, seamstresses and laborers. Magdalene did not take long to realize that the project was futile. Female workers are notoriously underpaid in Neu Ungren and the education did nothing to alleviate the poverty of the unmarried women. At the same time she was fascinated by the sums made by prostitutes and even more by the appalling conditions imposed on a great number of them and the scant percentages they get from their pimps. She abandoned the Mission and invested some of her own money into starting a Brothel. She started in the old city but after condemnation by the Church had to move into the Bank.
To this day, “Blue Place” is run as a charitable project. The most beautiful and young among the women who come to it are recruited as the prostitutes a significant number of others is given jobs as cooks, maids, musicians, hair-dressers ad so on. All are subject to severe Cillite-like discipline (although order, ofcourse, has nothing to do with the organization) and a regiment of daily physical and mental exercises. However, all the profits are divided among the employees except for the small percentage that goes towards the dowries for those of the employees that find the decent husband to marry (all of which have to be approved by the Madam).
Working in a Bank proved to be a exceptionally fortuitous for the Madam Magdalene, in practically every other part of the city, such an establishment would be a target of the fairly steep protection racket. Even here, “special rates” are arranged for the important Bankers but at least the safety of the women is insured. A firm friendship between Madam and Alberto Sevorra is another tie between the “House” and the Bank.
Madam Magdalene has been ailing recently; she has problems walking and has spells of fainting. Even though she still subjects herself to the Cillite regimen it is clear that her health is abandoning her. Whether this remarkable experiment will survive its creator remains to be seen.
Basillino Romani (26)
One of the younger knife-fighters that side against the Lion Cub, Basillino Romani is one of the Bank’s braver characters. Arguably faster then Giullio and just a tad less strong he would have a decent chance when the duel finally comes except for the one crucial weakness: he will probably be drunk of hung-over. When sober, he is a second in command of “the Reds” one of the older gangs in the neighborhood and its virtual day-to-day chief, however, what is common Banker’s weakness for drink has over the last few years developed in the severe addiction in the young fighter. So far he had to fight challenges from within his own gang for his position and have successfully dispatched three of those challengers even while rather severely inebriated, unfortunately having to maim the last one due to dulled reflexes instead of just teaching him a lesson. Faced with someone of Giullio’s caliber however will be difficult.
His death, inevitable as it may seem, will be a great, unacknowledged, loss for the city of Neu Ungren as the young man is, as can be testified by a very few connoisseurs in the know – including Luca Santoni and Isaac Chervez-Tervellie, probably the greatest native-born poet the city has ever had. In the few waking hours left to him between drunken stupor and the demands of the gang leadership he penned some of, if not the, best Triolets ever written in Oran Language. He improvised a few one night half drunk to a pair of whores at Blue and one of them later tried to impress Luca Santoni with them.
Santoni traced the author and got hold of a slim collection of manuscripts already written, knowing fragile Bankers’ pride he did not try to impress their quality or his own talent on the young man, for Banker will never be a performing lap-dog for the rich. So Santoni and a few others hope that the young poet will produce more before he inevitably gets killed.
Bruno Vallardi (57)
It is often said that Alberto Sevorra puts the lie to the old saying that there are no old Knife Fighters. While Sevorra did use to knife-fight, and while he is unmistakenably old, this is not entirely true. Even though Sevorra as a youth worshiped the great knife-fighters and even though he became good at that sport as he did in anything that he bent his mind on, it was not fighting that made him great. Sevorra became great Banker but he was not born on the Bank, Knife-Fighting was not in his blood. It was in the blood of Bruno Vallardi. Just a few years younger then Sevorra, Bruno was of that same generation, too young to actually remember Quintilliano but old enough to know people who knew him and for the myth of his times to be vivid for them. Just like Sevorra, Bruno lived and breathed this myth, just like Sevorra, he wanted to be Quintilliano of their generation. But Bruno had one advantage over Sevorra: he was born Banker. On one of the oldest houses on the very Bank, there is a stone with “Vall.” inscribed on it. This means that the Vallardi were one of the original families to settle on the land Guild claimed around the old reef on the West Bank. Bruno’s father was a respected gang lieutenant under Quintilliano and was building a flourishing gang of his own. Bruno and his younger brother, Stephano trained daily to become Knife-Fighters and take their rightful place in their father’s gang. Hound and a Terrier, jealous friends called them after the despised Cathedral Dogs but they kept the names with pride and it was under those names that they won themselves fame as the Best in the Bank. When their father got killed they dispatched the killer, one of his lieutenants, and assumed the leadership themselves.
It was the time of tumult and violence, the old order of Quintilliano died with a man and the new one of Sevorra was still to be born. Gangs fought Nav’s enforcers and fought each other. One of the main enemies of the Vallardi brothers was a man called Fazzini, half southron who was just feeling his way into the Bank underworld. The quarrel started when younger Vallardi slept with Fazzini’s girlfriend, and was careless enough to publicly announce it. Fazzini came out, demanding a duel. Not willing to send his brother to possible death against relative nobody, Hound approved the duel but only Consegnare. Feeling that his slight was thus demeaned Fazzini rejected it and instead claimed Vendetta against the brothers.
For a man with little means going against the old bank blood he did remarkably well for a while. He stopped Vallardi business for a while, scared some of their staunchest supporters and threatened their respectability. Hound and Terrier decided he needed to be put into his place. It was known that ever after the scandal that originally set him at odds with Vallardis, Fazzini did not trust the Bank girls. He was seeing a southern girl named Olla, his relative on his mother side. Barely 16 and raised in strict southern household she was a safe bet for a man who’s dignity could not take another cuckolding. Therefore when she was see in the Bull, half drunk and more then a half naked, hanging of the arm of the younger Vallardi as one of the three girls in similar state, Farzinni was finally and terminally humiliated in the Bank. Forgetting all the rules, Farzinni struck back.
His target was Vallardi sister, beautiful 14 year-old who was living with her aunt and was adored by her brothers. He tried to approach and seduce her, but whatever magic or skill Stephano used on his women, Farzinni did not have it. Lola Vallardi laughed him of much as her brothers did. It was then that he realized that he will never be a Banker and it was then when he broke the Bankers Code – he raped Lola Vallardi and sent her running naked through the Bank for her brothers. Bruno was out of the city that night, hiding from the Santoni goons after burning down one of their warehouses. Terrier saw her sister and as soon as he knew what happened he was after Farzinni with the knife. The two fought in the Serpentine. Whether it was that the rage has blinded Stephano or that Bruno’s fears that Farzinni was a better fighter were true, the case is the outsider won. There was no mercy for young Vallardi, he was left to bleed to death, both of his brachial arteries cut for prolonged suffering.
By the time Bruno has returned his brother was dead and his sister has committed suicide. Farzinni has fled the Bank and was seen in the neighborhood of Rat’s Market. Bruno was honor bound to follow him. Nobody knows what happened the night Bruno went into the old city. When he set out cold rage flared in his eyes and curse and terrible oath were on his lips. When he returned he was relatively unharmed, yet unarmed and defeated. His eyes were dull, his hands trembling and he reeked of urine. Farzinni was still alive (he will be killed nearly a decade later by no lesser man then Greggor Dunn for an unrelated reason).
Bruno was as good as dead on the bank. He fought the murderer of his brother and rapist of his sister yet both of them still lived. The rumor quickly spread that he had lost and begged Farzinni for mercy. Bruno did nothing to stop it. He still lives, thirty three years later, alone in the old Vallardi house on the Bank. Thirty three years later Bankers who recognize him turn their eyes away as he passes by. He eats at the sufferance of Alessio Foyer and a couple of others who would not see the last Vallardi beg or starve, but even those will not talk or see the man. He has not become drunk or a tramp but can be seen about sunset walking the Bank, shameful example of a Fighter who chickened out.
Philip Staub (29)
Altough officially a Knife Fighter, Philip Staub is as close as there is to a Banker for Hire. He has a reputation as a mercenary who does many jobs for the Navigators and other outsiders, yet his loyalty to the Bank and to the Code is unquestionable. Jobs that he gets hired for are of the type that family enforcers are either incapable of or too exposed to be implicated. Those are largely covert operations, trailing and information gathering, specialized burglaries, exposing the dirt; but can also be acting as a secret bodyguard or even, it is rumored, assassin.
Known for his curly, girl-like blondish hair and for a slight limp, the most disconcerting quality about Master Staub is the silence of his movement, even under the most ordinary circumstances. Second one is that he is probably the only true lone wolf of the Bank underground. He declines to join any band and acts on his own impulse, sometimes helping and sometime hindering the others. He has not declared either friend or foe of the Lion Cub, but even more surprisingly Gullio Leone has not attempted to challenge him either.
He is rumored to be gay but as he has no known lovers of either sex it remains a point of speculation.