Opal-Palooza (Part 4)

Prince Bortimer and Shr Grogdahl sat quietly eating. Bortimer was considered by some people to be a handsome fellow, perhaps a bit stocky and possessed of a magnificent head of thick black hair. His moustache was almost comically thick and luxurious, but he was otherwise clean shaven all of the time. His eyes betrayed his jorish heritage because while he otherwise appeared to be a tanned human or one from a southern climate such as Slothjemia enjoyed, his eyes were an almost shocking yellow. It afforded him infravision like all goblinoids, and whereas he didn’t have the familiar tusks of his kinfolk his teeth were nonetheless strong and powerful. He knew because in more than one fight he had used them to gruesome effect.

Shr Grogdahl was more noticeable in any setting that they appeared in together. Grogdahl was taller than Bortimer, far more heavily muscled, and with his jorish features he was perhaps a whisker this side of terrifying. While orcs tended to be stooped, almost hunched creatures with somewhat slack-jawed faces, jors, also known as swamp orcs, stood tall and proud. They squinted a lot due to their hatred of sunlight, but this only served to make them look even more menacing. Grogdahl’s skin was a dark green with even darker mottles. His tusks jutted up from the edges of his mouth and were intricately engraved with tribal markings, and his canine teeth on the top were quite pronounced. Grogdahl had killed enemies in combat with his powerful bite. Usually the huntsman carried a wicked looking longsword, but even unarmed Shr Grogdahl was known to be almost impossible to defeat in hand-to-hand combat. Everything he touched could be used as a weapon and his opponents knew it well enough to give him a wide berth.

The two of them were a regular sight on the third floor of the famous Slothenburg tavern The First Decree whenever they happened to be in this part of the empire. Even so the third floor was something of a showground today. One after another the most powerful criminal organizations in Slothjemia had sent representatives here to meet with Bortimer on a matter of urgent business. The constabulary had been alerted and were visibly present and on alert outside of the tavern and plainclothes investigators were milling about on all levels of the tavern taking furious mental notes of who was coming and going. As heightened as their senses were to something nefarious going on there wasn’t a possibility of the constabulary taking action because Prince Bortimer’s involvement was a major complicating factor. None of the investigators wanted to be the one that had to explain to their superiors why they had arrested the Queen’s youngest son.

A large number of interested parties were watching as a fair skinned woman with long white hair and wearing a dark red eye patch walked into The First Decree while holding a small rucksack over her shoulder. She was followed by two sinister men, one a dwarf and the other a human, who were clearly making sure that nobody got close to that bag or the woman carrying it. They gave her the space that she needed to do whatever she set about to do, and yet remained close enough at hand to step in should the need arise. The white-haired woman made her way without pausing directly to the table she knew Bortimer would be at. There sat Bortimer and Grogdahl side by side in a booth-style seat at a table with two regular chairs on the other side. Typical of rogues and thugs, they wanted to keep an eye on who was coming and going especially in a busy place like this tavern. With a thin smile the woman set the rucksack down on the table and then took a seat while her escorts stood guard just inside the doorway.

Bortimer smiled and nodded to the woman and said, “Good morning, Miss Judith. I wasn’t expecting anyone from the League of Velvet today. How might I be of assistance?”

Judith said in a heavy Geldenspeak accent, “I was a little disappointed not to be invited to your little gathering yesterday, your majesty. As if only those selected had opals they might like to sell.” Without invitation she began picking at the gravy covered potatoes on the platter on the table while Bortimer looked on in bemusement and Grogdahl watched in disgust.

Doing his best to not skip a beat, Bortimer asked, “Have you some opals that you wish to sell?”

Judith pushed the rucksack across the table. “Have a look.” she said while she ate somebody else’s food.

Bortimer opened the bag and peered inside. He grinned as he reached in and pulled out a fistful of gemstones. Placing them on the table he placed his jeweler’s loupe in his eye and began going over them one by one. While he did, Grogdahl asked Judith grumpily, “You want something of your own to eat?”

Judith shook her head. “I’m not hungry.” she said as she took another handful of food and ate it.

Grogdahl scowled at her and said, “I’m not covetous of what’s mine.”

The woman stopped chewing and fixed her eye on Grogdahl’s gaze. She chewed a bit slower than she had and wiped her hand on her pants leg. That would be her last bit of food pilfering from this platter.

Bortimer was making two piles of stones while his companions sat eyeing each other warily. The pile he was going to keep wasn’t as large as the ones he would reject, but it still represented a tidy sum to be paid out in gold coins. After going through all of the stones he pocketed his loupe and looked at Judith. “I’ll pay six hundred gold each for the opals in this pile. The ones in this pile I am not interested in. There are a few that aren’t even opals.”

Judith sat thinking for a moment and then asked, “How much in total?”

Bortimer said, “There are one hundred and twenty-seven that interest me. At six hundred gold each that makes seventy-six thousand two hundred gold coins.”

Judith smirked and said, “Then I tell you what the League of Velvet would like, your majesty. We will take the two hundred gold coins and put the rest towards your good will at a later date should we need it. Is that acceptable?”

Bortimer sat back in his seat and let out a low whistle. “That is a hefty amount of good will, Miss Judith. That would place me quite deeply in your debt.”

Judith raised an eyebrow and asked, “Is it a deal?”

Tapping the top of the strongbox on the table, Bortimer replied, “Yes, it is a deal. Here are your coins.” He opened the small drawer in the side of the strongbox and took out a small stack of coins, and set them in front of Judith.

The woman took the coins and started to put them and the rejected gemstones into the rucksack. Grogdahl reached over and grabbed her hand. “You owe me for the handfuls of food, lady. Gimme a rock of my own.”

Judith swallowed hard and took a small stone from her collection and pressed it into Grogdahl’s open hand.

Bortimer continued smiling as he said, “Usually the grim reaper trades in silver coins, so this is a new development.”

With a nod to Bortimer and a hostile smirk at Grogdahl, Judith took her bag and left the room. Her guards let her pass and then followed after her. Almost immediately a large bald man in a flowing orange robe with black and gold trim poured into the room, followed by eight lightly armored guards with sheathed longswords on their belts.

Shr Grogdahl let out a groan and said, “Oh come on. Now it’s these guys?”

“Opals are opals, my friend!” said Bortimer happily. “Want to guess what they came with?”

Grogdahl muttered under his breath, “A great sack of screw you, I hope. I’m in the mood to murder.”