“And you’re sure it will be safe?” the young orc demanded.
“Yes - Druj” she snarled “It will be perfectly safe. The Bourse certificates are guaranteed by the word of the Empire.” Isobel Hoop had joined the civil service with dreams of becoming an advocate or similar. It hadn’t worked out - but a life operating a civil service warehouse had never given her cause to question her choice - until today.
“The word of your Empire? That is not worth so much in these days I hear? The Grendel claim they trust us more than you these days!”
He was laughing at her. Not subtly mocking her with his words as before - now he was just laughing. In her face. Really - it was too much. She considered trying to stab him with the letter opener she carried. Probably best not to… the best possible outcome she would be up for murder of a “foreigner”. More likely the bloody creature would probably eat her.
“If you would like your Mithril back - perhaps you would prefer to ship it to the Grendel?” She smiled sweetly trying to inject every ounce of bile into her facial expression.
The druj “trader” (why would a trader be armed to the teeth she wondered) shook his head. “We have a treaty with your Empire - mithril for white granite. An excellent rate, very profitable. Very profitable. Even the most simple-minded Grendel would never give us such an easy profit.”
And there it was again… Pride! You were definitely allowed to murder people if you did it out of Pride. She was sure she’d read that in school - something to do with clemency.
“Our Bourse certificates are valid anywhere in the Empire - and in any civilized land beyond it.” Oh that was fun - any more emphasis on civilized and she’d had spat the word in his face.
“Huh - you think your Empire is better than ours eh?” the orc snarled, clearly annoyed.
“Only while the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.” Isobel Hoop, who had once dreamed of being an advocate, smiled sweetly and gave thanks to the paragons for giving her that moment as she thrust the certificates into the ungrateful Druj’s hands and walked away.
The last boggart hung lifeless, the fine silver chains holding the limp body over the table. Yacasta felt a slight pang of sympathy for the creature, this was bloody work and she was no butcher. Boggarts were a terrible threat to any Spire, but it was a cruel way to end one of the little creatures lives in this way. Cruel but useful - as the black ichor ran down the chain it was collected in the vial below. Soon it would be full and then she would be able to send the vials to Prascylla and finally clear her debt.
And who knows maybe more Night boggarts would appear? There had been none near the spire for centuries - there wasn’t so much as a weak night regio within a days march of here, so why they should suddenly have appeared in the Spire’s cellars at this time she had no idea. If only they had not killed the first dozen so quickly before one of her colleagues had though to check the remainder for traces of magic. Whatever strange magic had brought the boggarts to this world had also left them filled with potent night magic, and it was then just a matter of careful excision to acquire it.
A careful excision - hah! She wished it had been as clean as that made it sound - the bloody things bit hard and never stopped struggling. Well… not until the deed was done. And now it was done - time to write to House Cudo, and then she could return to her studies
“Well? Is it genuine?” She stared at the magister, trying to sound more confident than she felt.
The magician put his wand and the relic back on the table with exacting care. “Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. Where did you say you found it again?”
“I didn’t. Now I’ve paid you for the ritual… so how old is it?” The magister was holding out on her - that was a good sign.
“Well it’s definitely pre-Imperial - but I can’t be certain exactly when - I’d need to check some details with a colleague in the Necropolis. Realistically it’s probably not worth that much - but I’d be prepared to offer you two thrones and three crowns for it?”
She smiled as placed a defensive hand over the relic. “I don’t need the sales pitch magister… just the results of your ritual will do. Now what else did you see?”
“How much for that sausage?”
The old woman pointed to the large sausage, surface covered in spice and seasonings, prepared in the classic Temeschwari style. It sat impundently atop a pile of similar sausages, jutting proudly. The pile was just one of many on the stall - furs, carved whalebones, trinkets, Varushkan dolls, pickled cabbages, even some wood carvings which was distinctly Imperial Orc in style. Behind it, a man stood, well-dressed and with a wide smile on his face.
“Well, ordinarily, it’d be five rings, but to you, Good Lizzy, I’ll sell you it for three - and I’ll throw in this fetching pair of gloves.” The man picked up a pair of fur gloves that could - optimistically - be described as fetching.
“Three rings? I could get two just like it for the same price down the street, and it’d be Marcher pig too.”
“It’s the fact this isn’t Marcher pig that makes it costly, Liz. Look, I enjoy a plate of nice sausages and good vegetables as much as the next Marcher, but this is special stuff. They do some wonderful things with spices up north. And you know it’s getting harder to get sausages made round 'ere, so much going to the war effort.”
“…Fine.” Grumbling, Lizzy counted out her coins. “I has to try it, I think. I was hoping to get summat for the wife, too. Been saving special and it’s her birthday soon. Gloves’ll be nice…”
She looked around at the stall, and pointed to something hung up at the very back. “Although that’d be nicer. Looks like it’d keep the rains off. How much for it? I’ll pay a bit more instead of the gloves.”
Walter looked round, and smiled his big smile.
“Ah, Lizzy. You couldn’t afford that in a thousand seasons, I’m afraid, not with what your bakery makes. And anyways… it’s got a buyer. But can I interest you in these socks instead? Made of seal skin too, you know, very waterproof - it’ll be just the ticket for your missus…”
Emris Oakhaven sat on the ground, exhausted. The last few months travelling along the Paths of Lan Thuven were ones that he would never forget. Although many of his striding had been slain by the Jotun over the last year, Emris and his elder sister, Catrin, had stayed together and stayed healthy. He was not the warrior she was and he remembered proudly the day she sworn her thorn oath. A solitary tear ran down his cheek. He wiped it off his brow with the sleave of his shirt. She would not want him to grieve for her, she had died a thorn, proudly standing fighting the creatures of the Vallorn as part of the rear guard as the army walked through the vallorn-filled Westwood.
Emris, looked at the road ahead. Across the trods that wove across the Marches, and then to Miaren to start a new life. He had finished his term of military service two seasons ago but stayed with his sister who had sworn to serve the Black Thorns until she fell. In his hand was a small pouch of rings, a small leaf shaped pendant and small knife wrapped in cloth. He slowly unwrapped the knife and looked at the blade, old and covered in dirt and moss where it had rested in the ground for many years. He had found the knife half buried in the ground by Catrin’s fallen body. As one of the vates had spoken the words to turn the circle, Emris remembered looking around at the many bones that seemed to be in the undergrowth, small scraps of metal too and then he had seen the knife. He had performed the incantation and knew that there was history and power in this knife. If he could get to Anvil and get a good price. then he could find his place in the Great Dance as a broker. He was determined to get a fair price, this was for Catrin.
Since we killed the private auction, we’ve focused our efforts instead on providing auctions and chances to buy things on the field instead. You can learn about some of this events plutomantic plots here → https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/In_the_tents_of_prosperity
They include: Druj traders visiting Anvil as “foreign guests”; some bottles of what appears to be processed Night Boggart; a pre-Imperial relic from a small Highborn village; some peculiar fur; and a relic found on the Paths of Lan Thuven.
In addition to these items offered by private inividuals the public auctions will be taking place as normal - if you want to find out more about them talk to Marta Vaskovich Kovar (Elinor Kershaw) - any civil servant should be able to point you in her direction.
#somethingaboutcapitalism, #thisbelongsinamuseum, #wedidbusinessofcorruptionlasttimeDruj!