Bortimer smiled and motioned for the huge bald man in the flowing orange robe with the black and gold trim to have a seat opposite he and Shr Grogdahl. “Master Scalici! Welcome, and have a seat. Would you like something to eat?” asked Bortimer warmly.
Ernesto Scalici took a seat with a flourish and folded his hands on the table. In his Forkanzan-accented voice he said, “Greetings to you, Prince Bortimer.” With a smile at Shr Grogdahl he added, “And to you as well, noble huntsman.” Returning his smiling gaze to Bortimer, Scalici asked, “I am led to understand that you are looking to buy the Fire of Betapsi?” It was crystal clear that this fat man had come to deal and not to eat.
Prince Bortimer nodded his head and said, “Yes, that is correct. How much would your people want for it?”
Ernesto smiled slyly and lowering his voice said, “The opal you are looking to acquire is a most unusual jewel, your majesty. It has the potential to be a potent magical item if handled properly. I alone control the fate of this stone. As a wizard this makes it more valuable to me than it ever could be to a thief.”
Bortimer’s smile wavered and the tone of his voice became more ominous. “You would be mistaken in that assumption, Master Scalici. The Fire of Betapsi is of tremendous value to me. I won’t lie and say otherwise. I’ve staked a great deal on acquiring it and I will do exactly that.”
The look in Bortimer’s yellow eyes was enough to give Scalici reason to reconsider, and it took a few moments for him to choose his words. “What reason could you have, Lord Bortimer? Why are these opals so important to you? Indulge my curiosity, please. Speak as one man to another.”
Bortimer gave a sideways glance to Grogdahl, and the jorish warrior said with a sneer, “What are you looking at me for? Want me to tell him?”
Looking back at the bald wizard across the table from him, Prince Bortimer said with a sigh, “It is for a woman. I am putting together a gift for an amazing lady in hopes it will help me win her heart.”
Master Scalici set back in his chair with visible surprise. Unable to hide his delight he exclaimed, “Amore! My lord has fallen in love!” clapping his hands in excited glee he looked at Grogdahl and asked, “Is this true? Has Prince Bortimer finally been felled by Cupid’s arrows?”
Grogdahl set down his tankard and wiped his mouth. “Yeah. It’s true. This jackass thinks he has a shot at a woman six stations above him in every conceivable category. I’m only along to murder anyone that stands in the way of this flaming carriage wreck because at this point watching him fail is my only motivation to continue living. You might want to sell him that opal, Ernesto. Your sorcery won’t save you and it sure won’t keep that opal secure.”
The wizard shook his head but kept chuckling. Finally, he wiped his brow with his sleeve and said to Bortimer, “I will sell you the opal for four thousand gold although it is worth more than that. I too would go to extraordinary lengths to appease the woman I love.” He opened his right hand and there in his palm was the bright orange opal known as the Fire of Betapsi. Carefully and with a deft motion of his hand he set the jewel in front of Bortimer.
Bortimer tapped the strongbox and opened the little drawer in front. Pulling out a stack of coins he set them on the table and repeated the process until a pile of gold coins had been made. The wizard scooped the coins into a large sack and as he stood up tossed it over his shoulder. With a nod to Grogdahl the sorcerer said to Bortimer, “Good luck to you in this most crucial endeavor, Prince Bortimer. I look forward to the news of your good fortune.”
Ernesto turned and continued chuckling as he left the room followed by his guards. Bortimer picked up the orange opal and looked at it admiringly. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” he said in a whisper.
Grogdahl shook his head. “You’re going to be flat broke by the time this day is over.” he said with a growl.
“A thief is never broke.” said Bortimer. “He is merely at a temporary loss for funds.”