Streetkeeper Profession in Lapis of Nicodem | World Anvil


Without 'keepers, most chasers would never take the valuable stakes.  
~~Vaid of Jiy


After Dentheria invaded Jilvayna, they employed individuals called streetkeepers to sweep the streets of Jiy, find dead bodies, and dump them in the palace temple courtyard (now known at the Pit).   During the initial years of empire rule, the streetkeepers had no lack of work, and their numbers swelled as thousands were thrown over the palace bridge to their final resting place. For the poor, work had become a luxury, and while grim, sweeping paid well.   Once the puppet ruler settled into power, the need for streetkeepers dwindled as well, and those so employed sought other avenues of work. It was during this time, when Dentheria and its puppet king ignored the lawlessness running rampant in the poor districts of Jiy, that an enterprising few decided to work on behalf of those finding themselves on the wrong side of a criminal act. "Sweeping" became synonymous with rooting out the underground's petty thieves, bullies, and small ring bosses, and those who swept were referred to as streetsweepers.   Through the years, sweeping grew into a highly-regarded profession. The puppet kings and their knight superiors neglected law enforcement for the common folk, and streetsweepers became 'keepers of the law' for the non-wealthy. Their ranks grew and spread throughout Jilvayna, though most of those plying the trade remained in cities and larger towns.
All artwork by Shanda Nelson unless otherwise stated
orig. photo Sonika Agarwal from Pixabay
Vaid of JIy
  In 521 DE, a Grey Streets streetsweeper named Vaid decided to do something about how justice was handled in Jiy. After the Peasant's Rebellion in 513 DE, the crown became even more loathe to help the downtrodden, and crime became the profession--and the bane--of the desperate. Talk of rebellion and war filled the streets, especially after the puppet king filled the 514 DE worker shortage with immigrants rather than natives.   Concerned for his childhood friend Lesh, who had weaseled his way into the city guard, Vaid came up with the concept of stakes. Stakes would not only solve the lack of justice for the poor problem, it would help streetsweepers as well. People sometimes refused to pay for services rendered and the guards rarely got involved in the disagreements. Things tended to escalate quickly, to the point a few assaults had ended in death.   Vaid and Lesh created a form that wronged citizens could fill out at the Vines Street Guardhouse. This form would officially 'stake' a criminal and offer a reward for bringing them to justice. The citizen would pay the guard and wait for the fulfillment of the stake. The guard would tack the stakes to a board and streetsweepers could select the ones they wished to fulfill.   Once finished, the streetsweeper would return the stolen item/criminal to the Vines Street Guardhouse and receive the pay the citizen had already provided the guard. Then the guard would return the item, or cart the criminal before a judge, or do whatever needed to be done next.  
Considering the lack of literacy in the Jilvayna poor, Stake Placer Forms are simple. The Stake Completion forms are complicated because they are used to convict criminals. The most successful chasers/'keepers are those who can fill out the forms properly.
The stake became phenomenally popular with all involved. Streetsweepers did not need to worry about a fulfilled stake going wrong, citizens did not have to worry about finding a competent 'sweeper, the guard suddenly looked like they did care about the poor in Jiy. The concept spread to all Grey Streets guardhouses, then throughout the rest of the city.

Jiy Stake Form: Placee
While women have a difficult time being taken seriously as chasers, not so if they become 'keepers. The guard treats them differently than men when returning a stake, and are less apt to arrest them for bringing in tech, drugs, and dead bodies.
man by Mikhail Nilove from Pexels
binders Pexels from Pixabay
Underground Manager with Stake Binders

Modern 'Keepers

Sometime in the next few years, people who claimed a stake and fulfilled it began to go by chaser. They 'chased' their stake, rather than 'sweeping' them off the street. Chasers took more difficult and dangerous stakes, leaving regular 'sweepers in the dust. A few decided to partner with chasers, and they inevitably ended up carting the stake to the guardhouse when the chaser did not want to answer questions about who, what, when and where.   'Sweepers weathered the returns and demanded more and more pay for their services. During this time, their title reverted back to the original streetkeeper, shortened to 'keeper in common parlance, and it stuck.   Rings and syndicates, aggravated about how well it worked, employed it themselves. In larger cities such as Jiy, a central underground manager would accept stakes in the same way as the guard, giving an air of legitimacy to underhanded dealings. It became lucrative to 'keep for these underground chasers, and the official Jilvayna rebellion even had agents 'keep in certain situations, because the money and the contacts made were invaluable.   'Keepers serve everywhere chasers do in modern Jilvayna. Anyone can be a 'keeper, as long as they don't mind filling out the final paperwork at the guardhouse (it does mean 'keepers must be literate). Official 'keepers tend to work with one or two chasers and turn in their stakes for them, and receive a salary to do so (this is especially common with hunters). Many others are average citizens who offer to return a stolen necklace or some such to the local guardhouse, so the chaser does not have to bother with the trivial. They agree upon a place where the 'keeper can meet with the chaser, then return the stake.   'Keepers rarely cheat chasers, because it never ends well for them.
Types of 'Keepers
  • Common 'Keeper
    Common keepers are average citizens who offer to return a stolen item or cart an unconscious criminal to the nearest guardhouse for a bit of pay. Common 'keepers are found in the poorer sections of Jiy; no wealthy individual would ever lower themselves to such a degrading task.
  • 'Keeper
    A regular 'keeper that may not support themselves completely by 'keeping, but who come close. They tend to be friends with a couple of chasers as well as the guard.
  • House 'keeper
    A House 'keeper works for the rebellion. They work out of a single House, 'keeping for several rebel chasers.
  • Under 'keeper
    An under 'keeper is a guttershank who 'keeps for rings and syndicates. Depending on the stake, the pay is phenomenal.
  • Cleaner
    A cleaner is a 'keeper who cleans up after a chaser. Most often this means they search for the information the stake has designated, like the address of an underground meeting or the location of a tech shipment. Sometimes they clean up after a hunt. These 'keepers are paid well for their service.
  • Sweeper
    A reference to the older term, sweepers 'keep for hunters. Returning stakes to the guard can be problematic for said hunter, so they send someone not involved with the chase to claim the stake. If someone gets arrested, it usually ends up being the 'keeper, not the hunter.   Sweepers also tend to turn in other dangerous stakes, which normally involve taking a very wanted criminal to the guard or a syndicate. They are the most respected 'keeper due to it, and also the most feared.
Pay is always an issue for keepers. Rings, syndicates and the rebellion pay 'keepers as they would any employee. Chasers who work with a specific 'keeper normally consider them employees as well, though they, on a whim, can change who that is. Otherwise, 'keepers rely on the generosity of the chaser they are helping for a decent payout.
It is almost a rite of passage in the Grey and Stone Streets, to 'keep at least once. Nothing dangerous, nothing that would anger a neighbor, and the stake is typically something small, like delivering a letter in the chaser's stead or returning a stolen necklace to the guard.   The reality hardly stops individuals from padding the tales they tell afterwards. People laugh at their 'heroics' and return to their business, shaking their heads.
'Keeping Duties
  • Return Items to the Guard
    This is the most common task 'keepers complete. It is usually straightforward unless they must return extremely valuable items. Then they need a note from the chaser so the guard believes they are 'keeping, rather than returning what they stole for a profit.
  • Courier
    When chasers accept courier duties, oftentimes they will send a 'keeper in their stead. These tasks do not pay much, considering the time spent completing them, so only new 'keepers tend to take them.
  • Turn in Criminal
    When a chaser has apprehended a criminal, they typically employ a 'keeper to take the stake to a guardhouse. The 'keeper is the one who gets to slog through the paperwork and look through the stake binders. Often a chaser does not share the stake info, making it an annoying part of the job.
  • Clean Up
    'Keepers will clean up after chasers. This can be anything from searching for needed information to mopping up after a hunt.
  • Escort Kidnapped Victims to the Guard
    If a chaser has not cleaned up after the rescue, this can prove a dangerous undertaking for 'keepers, since kidnappers want their target back. There are 'keepers who specialize in this, and who know secret routes to get to guardhouses. They demand more compensation from chasers for their specialized work.
  • Turn in a Hunter Stake
    This is the most dangerous return for 'keepers because things can go wrong very quickly, and they may end up being charged for murder. Hunts returned to the guard are known criminals, but 80% are taken to an underground stake manager, who never question, just accept the stake.


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