Shr Grogdahl the jorish huntsman had been sitting in the booth he and Prince Bortimer always occupied on the third floor of The First Decree. However, he was sitting there alone. Although he was enjoying the warmed beer as was his customary breakfast beverage and had devoured half a plate of bacon and folded eggs it just wasn’t the same by himself. Time ticked by and the hulking goblinoid began to ponder why his erstwhile lord was late for food. This was the first time that had ever happened.
As if sensing the discomfort of Grogdahl it was just then that Bortimer came striding into the tavern with his well-worn steel strongbox tucked under his arm. Sliding into the booth next to Grogdahl so that both men were facing the room just in case somebody tried to sneak up on them. Bortimer was after all an infamous thief and Grogdahl had a long-standing reputation for being an exceptionally efficient assassin. The two men had made more than their fair share of enemies and being ambushed in their favorite haunt may sound like an ideal ending to their lives and yet they were in no rush to reach that destination.
Bortimer set the strongbox down on the table between them and waved to get the attention of a barmaid. As he took some of the folded eggs, he said to Grogdahl, “How was your visit with your sisters? Are they doing well?”
Grogdahl shrugged while he set down his tankard. “I reckon they’re fine. As fine as one can expect a bunch of jorish broads to be who keep murdering their husbands and then complaining about being single again. What’s with the box? You don’t often take this thing anywhere.” To emphasize his point, he tapped the strongbox with his fork.
Bortimer chuckled and said, “We’re doing a little business today, old friend.” The barmaid arrived and set down two more tankards and took away the empty one Grogdahl had finished. Looking at Grogdahl Bortimer asked, “Has anyone been in yet looking for me?”
The huntsman side glanced at Bortimer and replied, “No, why would they be looking for you? What are you up to?”
Rubbing his hands, Bortimer said, “Just buying some opals. Been looking for opals.” He took a long drink of his warmed beer and wiped his mouth. “Yup, lots of opals. Whole bunch of opals.”
Grogdahl’s eyes narrowed, and he frowned more than he usually did. “You’re saying opals a lot and you’re saying it weirdly. The hell is going on?”
Before Bortimer could answer, a goblin approached their table and tipped his cap. He smiled a toothy sort of grin and said, “Morning, sirs. I was sent by the society to sell our opals to you. Is now a good time?”
With his usual smile, Bortimer replied, “Yes, it is, Slats. How are my friends among the Roshicairns?”
The goblin winked and said, “They’ll be doing better once they see how much you’re going to pay for these stones.” Slats set three bags on the table with a clunking sort of sound.
Pulling his jeweler’s loupe from his vest pocket and setting it in his right eye with a flourish, Bortimer opened the bags and with a deftness seldom seen he gave each and every gemstone a look. Most he placed in a pile in front of Grogdahl who still wasn’t entirely satisfied that he knew what was going on. The rest of the stones were placed on the table closest to the goblin that had brought them. As it was obvious these were not going to be considered for purchase, Slats took these rejected jewels and placed them in one of the now empty bags.
After having gone through them all, Bortimer removed his loupe and said, “A fine assortment, Slats. Tell your friends thank you. I’ll pay eight hundred gold coins per stone in this pile. There are a total of eighty-three opals that I think are worth my time. Is that amount agreeable?”
Slats gave the amount due consideration, and his facial expressions revealed that he had been hoping for more but was pleased to be getting as much as he was. “That is a lot of gold, boss. I can’t carry all of that on my own in one trip.”
Bortimer pulled a small notebook from another pocket inside his jacket. Withdrawing a wee pencil from inside the notebook he scribbled down a note and replied to Slats, “Take two bags of gold now, and come back with help to carry the rest. We’re here all day and probably tomorrow. I’ll keep a tally, if you trust me.”
Grogdahl snorted in his beer and foam flew across the table. Slats sort of shrugged and said, “Of course I don’t trust you, boss. I’m not an idiot. I’m guessing though that you are going to hold up your deal on these opals though. You’ve gone well out on a limb, haven’t you? You might try a double-cross on the society, but you’re not going to backstab all of the major players.” Nodding his head towards Grogdahl the goblin continued and said, “Even he can’t take on everyone you’ve got selling their opals.”
The huntsman looked over at Bortimer with a disapproving snarl. Knowing that he was going to say something, Bortimer chuckled and said quickly, “I’ve no intention of shortchanging anyone for these, and you can be sure that I’m looking for more than you’ve brought today.” With that the grandmaster thief set his hand on the strongbox and tapped it with his forefinger. He then pulled open the drawer in front of the box and took out three stacks of gold coins. He then closed the drawer and repeated the process until there was a great stack of gold coins on the table. “There is three thousand for your first installment. You’ve got sixty-three thousand and four hundred more to go. You’re going to be making a lot of trips.”
The goblin put the coins into the bags and with a little bow took his leave. Grogdahl turned in the booth and glared at Bortimer. “Just what are you playing at, ‘boss’?” he asked with a growl. “Why was that little cutpurse eyeing me like I was going to spring across the table and throttle him? And why this sudden obsession with opals?”
Bortimer held up a finger and whispered, “Easy, my friend. I’ll explain it all later. We have another customer to deal with first.” Bortimer nodded to a shadow elf that had just entered the room.
Grogdahl followed Bortimer’s gaze and spotted the same shadow elf who had brought three other shadow elves along for protection. As the quartet made their way smoothly yet uneasily towards their table, Grogdahl muttered, “There had better be a damned good explanation. This is no way to start a day, buddy old pal.”