Christopher "The Knife" Latchkey, AKA Marcus Wilbur, 26th Baron Mordaunt

From Brass Goggles

Name: Christopher “The Knife” Latchkey, AKA Marcus Wilbur, 26th Baron Mordaunt

Age: 33

Origin:Life in the working class slums of London docklands was never easy. Even those fortunate enough to have steady employment among the mass of ships, sailors and cargo that passed through found the work backbreaking and all too often were at the mercy of moneylenders to scrape by or those who didn't find steady employment, the pimps and the pushers, the dippers and the bludgers, the screwsmen and the snakesmen, the demanders and the toffers, the sharps and the scurfs. While the development of steam had made life better for many, for those scurrying in the shadows of Millwall dock it was a curse. Who needed a dozen hauliers to carry cargo when a single steam engine could transport a ship's whole load? Who needed skilled craftsmen when factories, smoke belching from their chimneys, could mass-produce once complicated goods. Worse of all, who needed the docks themselves when airships ruled the skies, not bound by the perils of the ocean? The docks were dying, a slow, cloying death, shrouded in a mist of alcohol, criminality and despair.

It was in this world that Christopher Latchkey found himself thrust, a poor, mewling innocent baby in grim Millwall. His mother was a whore, his father a nameless grunting sailor, the only family he ever knew the other whores, pimps and associated ruffians. It was no surprise that he grew up a villain... his first robbery at age six, the simple act of divesting a drunken client of his purse as he rutted with his mother, his first assault at age eight as he and a gang of youths set about a storekeeper who refused to pay protection money to one of the local slum lords, his first murder at age 10, drawing his knife across the throat of a man who had assaulted one of the prostitutes.

One does not operate in a vacuum in such a place and Christopher fell under the wing of the man who owned the brothel, a slum lord of some repute and power. A quick wit, fast tongue and willingness to do wrong meant Christopher rose quickly through the ranks, quickly becoming a trusted man. A keen fighter he participated in a number of London Prize Ring Rules bout, some of which were even fairly contested, and did well, managing to escape with few of the scars and broken bones that normally afflicted participants. As he grew into his mid-20s Christopher was sharp, deadly with a blade (hence his name), as subtle or obvious as the job required, fast of foot and mind and able to talk himself into or out of most situations; one of the few wrong-uns who could make something of himself among the squalor and filth.

A rare shipment of jewels has been “procured” by one of the many roving gangs of thugs that called the docklands their home. As was the way with such things you could not simply hawk them on the street and approached the slum lord to facilitate the deal. Christopher, as befitting the man who had rose to become his bloody right hand of the crime lord, stood at the slum lord's side as the meet took place. Something went wrong...

When the rozzers entered the warehouse they found a dozen bodies, some shot, some stabbed, some beaten.

But of the jewels and Christopher there was no sign. Just another poor young man consigned to the gutter of history by the evils of London Docklands.

Marcus Wilbur, Baron Mordaunt has been a relatively recent addition to the high powered circles within which he now spends much of his time. Many had thought the Baron Mordaunt title extinguished but who could refuse this charming young man and his tales of a youth spent travelling across the world, of journeys into the dark heart of Africa, of escapades in Indian hill forts, of following the silk road? He was an entertaining addition to any social event and a near perfect host himself, able to carry or follow a conversation and add an amusing anecdote as necessary. He was dashing and adventurous but rarely reckless, something that carried through to his sporting prowess, a solid all-rounder at cricket, with a deceptive leg spin and beautiful cover drive to his game, a keen rugby player, a skilful fencer and marksman while also being one of the first to take up the once exotic sport of Polo.

More, he rarely remained in one place for long enough to outstay his welcome and despite what one countess described as “a look that could make nuns flock from the Abbey” left remarkably little scandal behind him. He could be found in the private members clubs of London one week (a particular favourite was Boodle's, although he was known to rarely gamble) and at the gateway to the Dukeries in Worksop the next, then off on a jaunt around Europe or even further afield. When people questioned his movements he would idly wave a hand and proclaim “business.”

What the business consisted of was never made particularly clear. In this age of commerce the aristocracy could no longer rely on that which had once made them wealthy. As a minor-baron Marcus certainly held the appearance of a gentlemen-trader, with exotic goods brought in from across the world but for anyone with the willingness and ability to deeply study the figures it would appear that much of this was a smokescreen, items brought in as more for conversation or as an excuse for him to travel as for their profit.

The reality was that Marcus did trade but not in goods. He traded in secrets, in promises, in words and negotiations... and occasionally more unpleasant work. The world was a changing place and for individuals of a certain standing and position, be they merchants or aristocrats, bankers or barons, merchants or marquesses, change was a dangerous proposition. These men could not rely on the official (or even unofficial) state methods to protect themselves; after all, the state protected the state. So they relied on Marcus Wilbur, dashing and adventurous but discreet and subtle as required. From simply passing messages to conducting negotiations to setting plans in motion for those who looked likely to cause trouble to no longer be of concern Marcus covers the globe making sure the current balance is maintained.

Occupation:Thief, ruffian, boxer, general thug.

“Problem solver” for the elite.

Cover Occupation: Aristocratic traveller/gentleman merchant.

Skills: 1. Thief. Marcus spent much of his youth as a neer-do-well in the rough streets of Millwall. As a child he excelled at all aspects of thievery and while he skills may no longer be as honed as they once were his nimble fingers can still cut a purse, spring a lock or cheat at cards with great skill and speed.

2. Combatant. While not a soldier in a traditional sense, Marcus is a fine fighter, an excellent fencer (although preferring the foil to the sabre or epee) and a good shot with his duelling pistols. His experiences on his travels have given him a basic grounding in many of the more esoteric martial arts although he is far from an expert.

His villainous youth has also served him well in this regard. He is a good boxer under the distinctly ungentlemanly and brutal London Prize Ring rules, a vicious street fighter, deadly with a short knife and generally a nasty piece of work when the moment calls for it.

3. Effective speaker. Marcus has made his name through his ability to speak. An engaging and often humorous speaker, he can make a room wait on a single word. Engaging and open he displays little of the haughty nature still found in some nobles (unless he deliberately wishes to).

4. A man of two worlds. Marcus has not forgotten his youth, nor is he ashamed of it. While much of his time may be spent with the great and the good he is equally comfortable dealing with the scum he grew up with. This comes through in his speaking, able to drop the cut glass accent and return to his rolling cockney brogue at will. Occasionally this will shine through of moment of great stress (although these moments are generally rare) and his tone can slip between the two.

5. Physical Specimen. Marcus engages in regular intensive physical exercise and is in near peak shape for someone of his age and lifestyle. Lean rather than heavily muscled his is incredibly fast with his hands, feet and reactions, explosive in his actions and has vast stamina. While strong compared to many he is nothing particularly special in this regard.

6. Contacts. Less a skill then a part of his history and career, Marcus has extensive contacts across all strata's of society and across the world. From the rich and powerful he routinely dines with to those he buys and sells information with to thugs who he has engaged the services of for less-gentlemanly reasons there will be very few major settlements (and not a vast number of minor settlements) he does not know someone who could be useful to him.

While not advertising his past he has also kept in touch with the leading criminals in the East-End of London. None suspect the gentlemen with twinkling eyes of being the notorious "Chris the Knife" but Marcus has used his previous experiences to work his way through the notoriously secretive criminal underworld to the level where can find out almost anything about what is occurring in east London... and engage the right people as necessary.

Weaponry (2 to 3 only, please): A pair of Purdey duelling pistols, upgraded with the latest in speed-loaders and a sword-stick hidden within a heavy black ornamental walking cane, released with a twist on the head.

Equipment: A practical but clearly expensive gentleman-explorers set of equipment, consisting of a three-piece Henry Poole & Co dark suit, an additional pair of trousers for combination with a brown leather waistcoat and tailcoat for more adventurous activities, a number of spare white shirts and cravats, three Arnold and Dent pocket watches which also double as compasses, a selection of formal shoes and less formal footwear and all the general items a travelling baron would be expected to have on his personal being (handkerchiefs, washing and shaving equipment etc). Spare ammo for his pistols as well as a pair holsters for them (designed to fall beautifully under his jacket leaving little evidence of their existence) which can also hold additional ammo. An ornamental walking cane, thick and black with a heavy brass head in the shape of a rearing lion, which contains his sword-stick, a snuff box/tinder box combination and a number of cigarillos. As much as possible of this is generally held within a leather travelling bag, again practical but clearly expensive.

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