“Hey you there! Want some work? I need strong bodies. Theosius is my name. You look brave. Do you want to earn money?”
At these words, Nicolai almost turns round from his beer, but relaxes and stares even more intently at the table. But he is now solely concentrating on the conversation at the table behind him.
* * * * *
Saeth bristled. This was not how you went about hiring men-at-arms. You didn’t do it loudly, you didn’t do it publicly, and by all the immortals, you did not do it drunkenly! She glanced left at the dwarf Feldard, then right toward the priest. “You know how this works. You want to hire a man, you put your money on the table, and make your plea.” No, that wasn’t how it was supposed to work at all. In more refined parts, he’d be stabbed even for thinking about it. But if the boy across from her had half a head, he’d nick a few coins as the table rejected him roundly. The balding fellow looked drunk enough that he probably wouldn’t notice.
Maruc glanced at Saeth she must be making assumptions about the nature of the work this chap wants, how can she tell? Or is all of her type of work, that type of work? Maruc wondered whether it would be such a wise idea to go long with someone like this elf. But Elves live a long time and there is no telling exactly how old she is. Or how much experience she has of the world. Maybe life is much cheaper beyond the confinds of the cloister. Perhaps she has placed herself in the position that everyone will make the same assumption as myself – namely that she is some sort of assassin or thief. It was also brash to assume that because someone needs to be ‘brave’ or ‘strong’ does not immediately mean that the job is in anyway underhanded and therefore require secrecy. In fact it very much denotes the opposite. Before we make any decision we must first be aware of all the facts.
“Master Theosuis, please be seated. Have an ale,” Maruc offers, jumping in. “Please forgive Mistress Saeth’s somewhat forthright manner. Not only are we new to the city we are new to each others company. So we ask for your forbearance and understanding.” Maruc continued. “Firstly, I know not what significance the green liveried men have within the city. Do you perchance know of these men and what loyalties they hold?”
“Secondly, what are the details of the service you require of us? Will you cover remuneration, out of pocket expenses and guarantee there is nothing in the task that requires me to go beyond the teachings of the church?” Maruc turns to his comrades, “Otherwise, I for one am available to help folk in need.”
Theosius raises his eye at the cleric’s question. “I see we have some newcomers to the Mirror City,” he chuckles as he gratefully accepts Maruc’s pint offering. “The men of which you speak are well known throughout the city. The green livery is the uniform of those who serve the Vorloi family. They’ve done a proud job of managing these unruly Traladarans today. Maintaining order between the Torenescu and Radu seems to be keeping them quite busy of late.”
“Now, onto business,” continues the loud-mouthed Thyatian, “I have need of trustworthy souls who can perform occasional duties for me. I assure you that I will ask nothing illegal of you. You can ask around, and you will find my reputation is that of an honorable craftsman. As an honest man, I must be clear that there is an element of risk in these endeavors. This is why I’d like to offer you 3 royals each as a retainer for your future services.”
Miklos sat gazing at his partially sipped pint. He wondered if opening his mouth while these obviously more worldly individuals negotiated some sort of business contract. He felt he’d missed out on the business side of his family’s dealings and wasn’t at all confident at broaching his own thoughts on striking deals. Everything had happen so quickly this morning he felt out of his depth. He’d mastered the finer intricacies of nature of the arcane and come from one of the most foresighted families in the country, yet it had prepared him very little for a situation such as this, this market trading. He needed to learn about this and he was a very capable learner according to his old Master, but as his Master said, “’Tis better to be thought a fool than to speak and put it beyond doubt.” So he’d kept quiet and observant.
He looked around the table, Feldard and Saeth where both so far beyond his experience it was impossible to evaluate them from a human perspective. They were strange and alien to human culture, no matter how integrated into human society demi-humans became – they where always a race apart. The Halavist was almost as much a mystery, but at least he was trying to hold some kind of sanity over the group, but Halavists are not renown for their sanity and he wondered what agenda drove the cleric on. It might be worth researching it for his own safety. What had driven this strange group together? Perhaps it was fate, perhaps it was the Immortals? Not the Miklos trusted the Immortals, he trusted in knowledge written in ancient books and proven theories that worked. He did not rely on luck, or hope.
But part of the reason that he hadn’t just drained his pint and walked away was his strange fascination with co-incidence, and his somewhat morbid drive to see things that he started through to its conclusion. Now there was this open proposition of work. Coincidence again?