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Rose Colored Words (And Those Who Speak Them)

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Render Silent, art by Matt Stewart
Render Silent, art by Matt Stewart

Check. Scan. Dab. Sign. Check. Scan. Dab. Sign.

If Vireanin Cins, Azorius lesigstator, was to tell you his favorite aspect of working for the Senate, maybe he'd say having a hand in democracy to such a granular level; maybe he'd say the chance to meet the other legislators and advisors that made Ravnica tick. Hell, if he was having a rough day, maybe he'd tell you it was his bookstore discount and the free hot chocolate and coffee the Senators graciously provided in the winter,even if was a bit clumsy and tended to spill it on other coworkers.

Check. Scan. Dab. Sign. Check. Scan. Dab. Sign.

Anyone who knew Vireanin knew if he answered filing paperwork, he was likely some Dimir doppelganger or Izzet weird, because not even drunk would that be his answer. Maybe at gunpoint, but that sort of admission would never count. In his humble opinion, paperwork was grueling and bordered on inhumane, and it singlehandedly would've been a good incentive to defect to the Dimir if only because they'd just steal the memory of the paper rather than the paper itself.

Check. Scan. Dab. Sign. Check. Scan. Dab. Sign.

And yet, here he was. Check the pile size, scan the paper for any glaring faults, dab the quill, sign at the bottom, repeat. Doing it on loop, waiting for the damn pile to wear thin. And every guild, at least since the- Vireanin gave a small shudder. The War. Ever since the entirety of Ravnica found out life they knew it as was barely a fraction of all of there was, every since people were killed for glowing balls of power, ever since the Tenth Precinct had been leveled in some neighborhoods, the only worthwhile thing to come of it? Guild cooperation. Which would be good...

Check. Scan. Dab. Sign. Check. Scan. Dab. Sign.

But that was more paperwork on Vireanin's desk. Lovely. And every guild has something on his desk, and he imagined his coworkers were no different. Orzhov contracts on the living and tax returns that were blatant lies; Izzet licenses for experimentation and some funding reports that somehow got shuffled in despite the fact that we aren't a damn post office breathe Vireanin; Rakdos property taxes for some "interplanar attraction" that no one with all of their marbles was going to touch with a fifty-foot pole but who really isn't missing even one marble anymore?

Check. Scan. Dab. Sign. Check. Scan. Dab. Sign.

But of course. Some guild sent less than others. If it wasn't a Golgari death certificate, it wasn't on Veranin's desk. The Gruul occasionally sent stuff, but they seemed to horde paper for a year before sending it in bulk alongside all the blanks, which was a rather Gruul way to send paperwork if Vireanin was being honest. And there was the Dimir. Even still, the Dimir operated far too much in the shadows for most people's liking, although Vireanin could see the reasoning. After all, you had anonymity, you could keep other guilds from one-upping you, the whole 'aesthetic' of the thing...

Check. Scan. Dab. Sign. Check. Scan. Dab. Sign.

Check. Recognize. Iconography. Hide.

And it's not like they didn't send nothing, Vireanin thought, grabbing the last paper on the stack, and shoving it down his vest.

Walking towards the exit, Vireanin was admittedly panicking a little on the inside. His poker face was spot-on, it usually was, but he was worried the scrap of paper with Dimir iconography and code would slip out of his vest and he'd either be tried for corruption or 'dealt with' for leaking stuff. He wasn't even Dimir for nephilim's sake, is that how they spent every day? Worrying insistently for an event that he wasn't gonna get called out for? Because who would suspect him, he'd had been working here since he was sixteen, almost ten years.

He was so lost in thoughts he bumped right into another person, and they both were sent down to the ground, a stack of papers soaring up between them. Vireanin got up, and looked at the other senator. Aah, the new girl, Larrila Kos. Yep, that checked out.

"I apologize so much, ma'am." Vireanin said, offering a small hand to her. "I would help, but I really am running late for a... recreational meeting." Vireanin lied, and he immediately felt guilty. He leaned and scooped up a chunk of papers in a messy pile, before dumping it in Kos' hands.

"T-thank you?" Kos said, flummoxed, as Vireanin brushed off his front. Dust everywhere, and if this had happened four steps back, probably ink from that open inkwell which that is more certainly an office violation but I've really got to get going would've gotten all over him too. "Yeah, a lot of paper about the guilds, especially the, uh..." She cleared her throat, before looking at the stack. "The Dimir. Those deceptive sneaks."

Vireanin really hoped he wasn't actually pale now. Of course. The Dimir are brought up in this office like once a month and this happened to be that time.

"The only thing they're much good at is throwing wrenches in the works, aren't they?" Vireanin said, stepping a bit to the side, and Kos glared more.

"You shouldn't make such lighthearted 'jokes', Legislator Cins. You never know, they could be in the building. What would you do to a Dimir spy?" Kos said coldly, and Vireanin was certain he paled for real.

"Well, probably a simple trial. Now, if you don't mind...?" He said, openly ending the statement. Kos waved a hand, stepping aside for Vireanin, and he continued on his way, panicking, passing by Hussar Milera Barness and taking a quick turn as soon as he was outside to an alley between two buildings. Well lit, but not very used. Safe enough to grab the paper he was slipped and read what was on it-

Hmm. Wasn't it in his inner left pocket? Maybe ri- no, not right.

Was it down the front of his shirt, that would explain the jagged feel on his chest, although it smoothed out after he ran into Ko-

Ooh. He lost it, didn't he? That would explain a bit.

Larrila walked with an extra sprint in her step, until she got to what was her office for the short time being. She dropped the now messy stack of papers, and leaned back in the chair that belonged to her.

Papers about the guilds, especially the Dimir, do I want to get caught? She thought, taking slow breaths. It'll be fine, he seemed dull enough, too self-absorbed. Larrila started riffling through the papers, wishing she could more easily fix this stack. Surely legislators had hieromancy to make this easier, surely they didn't read every damn page. That'd be enough to defect, she figured, not that she wasn't planning on "defecting" anyway. Could you defect to the Dimir if you were Dimir already when you applied for the job?

Hmm. That was an interesting question.

She had just finished reading a small piece of paper with Dimir insignia (evidence maybe? She wasn't privy to every single order, although this one was recent, something about Tin Street tomorrow night? Addressed to a simple codename of Sinner) when she heard a knock on the door.

"Come in." Larrila said, tossing the Dimir stamped paper in one box, while grabbing the next to look productive. In walked... Cins. Lovely.

"Aah, Ms. Kos. I was actually wondering, might I see any documents you have related to the Dimir?" Cins asked, and Larrila tensed up. Lovely, first field mission and she was about to get caugh-


He just wanted papers. That was easy enough. She just handled something Dimir, so... She grabbed the paper, and passed it to him, internally annoyed with herself: she shouldn't just give the document so freely, but it would be suspicious if she didn't. No, no Dimir agent would so willingly give Dimir documents to a legislator.

"Thank you. I apologize, truly, for the interruption." Cins said, and Larrila nodded.

"Actually, may I see that real quick one last time?" Larrila said, thinking. Cins did so - rather nervously, maybe he just didn't trust her. She glanced at it, recognizing the code used. Something in Tin Street tomorrow night, some crossguild smuggling scheme. The rest wasn't important enough to remember. "Here you go, Legislator Cins."

Cins took the paper, and nodded amicably at Larrila, before turning and leaving the room.

Tin Street, huh? She was never told anything about that.

It's not like her cover expected her to still be here at nightfall anyway.

Vireanin was sat at the desk in his small apartment on Palisade Street across the road from that really annoying theatre thing the Izzet and the Rakdos has opened up, something about "planar vacation" which he really should go and shut down but he was busy and the Izzet and the Rakdos were not fun to interact with separately, let alone together. In his opinion.

Instead, he was busy crossreferencing Dimir documents he had recieved to figure out heads and tails of the coded document he was given. Tomorrow night - no, a quick glance at the time revealed much later today, it was minutes after midnight - there was supposed to be two guilds, some sort of illegal endeavor trading goods. Considering Tin Street was only about a six minute walk from Palisade, he assumed it wasn't the Izzet and Rakdos: neither were particularly careful, so why wouldn't they just trade in the loud theatre that seems like they are trying to bring the street down for love of-

"Tin Street, huh?" He said out loud, leaning back.

Admittedly, most of his work for the Dimir to this point was pretty mundane. Document smuggling - which he managed to do in the most obvious way, he could legally request copies to take home, not bringing them back or them being noticed was not a concern; the occasional bout of surveillance - which, for all of Guildmaster Dovin's flaws (and oh boy was there a considerable amount of them), he set up a good surveillance system and it wasn't too hard to issue a warrant for observation; but never had the Dimir asked him to personally intervene.

He could get back up, he supposed, but that would lead to questions of how he knew it would happen. So, no, he was on his own.

Hmm. Twenty hours until he needed to be there.

Maybe some sleep could help...

Or perhaps some planning...

Larrila Kos sighed internally, but kept her calm composure. Waiting in line to get clocked out for the day, each person meticulously reporting what they had done, when they had arrived, when they leave, why they leave, to the same women... The Azorius put the 'slow, dull, irritating work' into paperwork, clearly.

"Registered legal name, cause of departure?" Some legislator - a tag reading Mirela Barness, apparently - asked Larrila deadpan, and she gave a small sigh.

"Lerrilin Kos, end of work shift." Larrila said, as respectfully as she could.

"Completed works?"

"A.S.C. laws in relations to trial in relation to jury selection, section 4, paragraph 140 to 148." Larrila said, and she waited as Barness the Deadpan verified the claim. She did in fact do it, if only to give herself this alibi. That said, it was nice to gum up the Azorius works a little.

"Impressive work, Ms. Kos, I can see you getting a just promotion once you have been employed with the Senate long enough." Barness said, somehow still with zero intonation, and he waved Larrila through.

In time too, she had around an hour to get from New Prahv to Tin Street, which is her humble opinion was not enough time for not enough reward, at least confirmed reward, but hey. It'd be interesting at least. She bolted through the streets, hopping through darken alleyways when in private and respecting the Azorius garbs she wore when not, managing to even stop by for a quick break near a restaurant she knew would be fast with orders.

Gridlock, art by Yeong-Hao Han
Gridlock, art by Yeong-Hao Han

She took one step to turn onto Tin Street, the cleanest she ever remembered seeing it, near the end before bumping into someone.

"Legislator Kos?" Said Legislator Cins, because of course it was him.

Larrila, in full honesty, had quite enough of this particular legislator. He had derailed nearly her entire day - cover or not - with coffee orders, and yesterday he rambled and wasted time asking for paper.

Larrila had really tried to be patient, but she reached down and slipped out a glistening, almost transparent dagger, and tossed it a notch, catching it in the air. She held it up-

How the hell did Cins have one?

Kos had the same glass blade he had? Wasn't this Dimir-made? Did she acqui-

Ooh. Or she could be Dimir as well.

Ooh. That would suddenly... explain the new girl.

"Where in Nephilim's name did you get that?" Kos asked sharply, and faster than Vireanin could really answer, she had the clear dagger against his neck.

"I'm... new to the Dimir. Like you." He said out loud, and suddenly realized how foolish that was. Kos looked at him with a glare, before grabbing his arm a little and pushing him to the ground.

"And you blurt it out to anyone who asks?" Kos said, clearly annoyed. "How long have been Dimir, a month?"

Vireanin realized no answer at all was in fact an answer, and Kos groaned.

"Dear gods, fine. Just, why are you here?" She asked, twirling the dagger with elegance that Vireanin couldn't even imagine the risks of.


"Tin Street?" Kos cut him off, smirking. "Perhaps from a Dimir coded paper you retrieved from me yesterday?"

"Yes. Perhaps we could work together." Vireanin said with confidence, and Kos laughed. Genuinely laughed, and it took a second.

"Oh this is great, let's see how wel- Sure, yeah. Larrila, but you knew that, legislator." Kos- no, Larrila - said, "But that said, I'd advise just called me Broker." She said, smirking a little.

"Wait, as in-" Vireanin started, before quieting. Yep, it was her. That damn rogue the Azorius had been chasing since before The Missing - er, The Living Guildpact came along.

Bane Alley Broker, art by Clint Cearley
Bane Alley Broker, art by Clint Cearley

"Fine. Any clue what will be happening here?" Vireanin started, and Larrila shook her head.

"Know just as well as you, Legislator." Legislator was his nickname now. Good to establish. "That said, could it be related to the Izzet and the Rakdos' ne-"

"Already covered that, Broker." He said, looking around cautiously. This was chilling. The road was disturbingly clean and empty. Not even garbage cast aside by the less-compassionate citizens. "If they wanted to trade deals, they would do it in the comfort of their loud attraction. I live upstairs from it."

Larrila winced. "Can't be pleasant. But the dismisses that. Not the guilds separately, but together."

Perhaps... Wait, no.

"Broker." Vireanin said, squinting down the street. "Any good Dimir spells to detect magic?"

Larrila thought for a second. "Nah, hieromancy has thief magic beat on that front any day, why, legislator?"

Vireanin was silent for a second. He gave a short pulse outwards. That's why the streets were clean and closed.

"Broker. We've been primed."


What the hell does primed mean, Larrila thought, shaking her hand. Azorius terminlogy really flew over her hea-

"Er, sting." Vireanin Cins - Legislator, as she had nicknamed him - said, his voice rapidly getting more tense and worried. "Sting operation. It was a setup."

What? A setu-

Two bright floodlights seem to shine down, and Larrila fought the urge to cover her eyes.

"The streets were clean enough for an Azorius stakeout."

Larrila saw two guards in front of her, and she wouldn't be surprised if Vireanin was in the same step.

"Who are you two?" One guard said, the one of Larrila's left, as golden bands of light formed around his hands. "Confess your crimes now, and the Senate's full force may not be utilized."

"They'd utilize it." Vireanin muttered just loud enough for her to hear.

"Have that dagger?" She murmured back, and he gave one tap on her outstretched arm. She somehow knew the meaning, and knew he understood.

She cocked her hand, and threw one dagger at the guard to her left, and she could feel the breeze as Vireanin did the same to his. The right guards seemed shocked, and started to make a move.

She gave a sharp move, and she jumped towards the other guard she could see, twisting around to his back and pressing her hand against his lips.

Never Happened, art by Aaron Miller
Never Happened, art by Aaron Miller

She felt his body go limp, and she looked up to see golden chains wrapped around both guards, holding them in place to the brick storefront they had ambushed from.

Vireanin turned around and looked at her. He rushed to the middle of the road where she met up - oops, yeah, maybe Mr. Right-Side-Guard had a hard drop but he's unconscious as he so he doesn't mind -, and she looked at Vireanin.

"You know where I live?" Vireanin asked, and she nodded. Above that loud Rakdos thing, he said so himself.

"Meet me there in... an hour?" She nodded again, and smirked.

"And then," She murmured, gripping the front of the legislator's blue robes. "I'll teach not to walk into a sting operation."

"You walked into it too, Broker."

Oh, she was gonna break something alright if he didn't stop talking.

She knew she didn't mean it.

She gave a dive to the alleyway, as Vireanin calmly walked into the road and took a left turn why?

The guards went after her, because of course they did, but the really could keep up with the speed and bounce of storefront awnings and the soft fabric, nor the platforms that rooftops gave her. It wasn't hard to lose them.

Time to find a legislator. Where was Palisade...

Vireanin sat back, changed out of his Azorius robes and wearing a simple bland brown and grey outfit, paranoia setting in as he checked the kettle for the sixth time in sixty seconds.

Where was Larrila?

As he expected, the Azorius went after her, but he knew for a fact she escaped because he saw the guards loop around in all the wrong direction. And they didn't deal with him because he was a slow moving target, so they presumed they could handle him second.

But so if Larrila wasn't captured... where was she?

Knock Knock Knock

Vireanin bolted up, nearly dropping the kettle, quickly heading to the door. Opening it was-

"Legislator Cins, hello."

Oh dear. Mirela.

"Hello, Hussar Barness." Vireanin said, calmly.

"Hello, Cins. By any chance have you had any contact with ex-legislator Lerrilin 'Larrila' Kos recently?" Barness asked, and Vireanin internally smirked. He sucked at lying, but half-truths?

"Yes, actually. Me and her actually ran into each other yesterday and she ended up with my paperwork that I had to take back. Then she did some coffee runs for me today. Bit obnoxious, wouldn't you say?"

Mirela kept the stoic expression. "She is under arrest and suspicion as a member of the Dimir infiltrating the Azorius. Her amendments to A.S.C. laws in relations to trial in relation to jury selection, section 4, paragraph 140 to 148 have been undone," She said, reading from a clipboard, "she is as of immediately removed from payroll, she is prohibited from interaction with Azorius Senate members such as yourself, you are prohibited from her, and she is under an arrest warrant."

"Oh dear, Dimir? That might be my fault, I dropped papers related to the Dimir yesterday near her."

Mirela glared. "And you are receiving a pay dock for ruining a planned sting operation on a possible Dimir implant within the Senate. We actually had our suspicions on you, Legislator Cins, as you were the only person not to report it, but given Kos' blatant exposure and the aforementioned paperwork mishap, I can assume you simply never saw the document proper?"

"Exactly, you've known me ten years, Mirela." Vireanin said, "It's a miracle I haven't spilled coffee on the guildmaster somehow."

"It's Hussar Barness, but understood. Have a pleasant night, Cins."

"You too, Mirela." Vireanin said, closing the door, and taking a deep breath of relief. That could've been close.

Minutes later, he heard a light tap on the window glass. Turning, he saw Larrila, sat upon his window sill. He reached over and slid it open, allowing Larrila to slide in.

"Hey, legislator." Larrila said, glancing at the kettle. "That tea?"

Vireanin chuckled, "Nah, it's a kettle. I can make tea though, want some?"

Larrila gave a short laugh, sitting down.

"Say, you know, perhaps... we could..." She started, stammering a little.

Vireanin turned to face her. "Hmm?"

"Wanna be a team? I've got the crime, you've got the law. We can cover each other's failings." Larrila said, a bit red in the face.

Vireanin gave a lopsided smile, nodding. "Sounds good, Broker." He said, pouring some tea for both of them.

He felt like this going to be the start of something special. Horribly illegal, but special.

In the years that were to come, Larrila Kos would go on to be one of the most feared criminals in the Tenth Precinct, right after her shadowy agent. All the suspects had airtight alibis, but it was widely believed she had an insider to the Azorius who was responsible for helping her evade capture. This is, until 10,079ZC.

Two identical markings, later analyzed to have been Azorius legislator Vireanin Cins' custom seal on Azorius memos since 10,078ZC, were etched onto New Prahv and the Ismeri Library, and proved nearly impossible to remove for several days. At this time, Vireanin Cins went missing and Larrila Kos was no longer heard from. Vireanin Cins left no possessions, and he was deemed a long-time accomplice to Larrila Kos.

The two of them were rumored to have been romantically involved, but no records exist. 

As of current, the location of both individuals, now deemed guildless and highly dangerous, is unknown. Wanted dead or alive, bounty at six million and rising.

Greatest Ravnican Criminals, published by Ariran Zedken in 10,086ZC