Dahlah sat in the back of the carriage, they were somewhere in the south central area of the city, heading to an appointment with a jeweller. They had never been in this area of GreenBridge before, it was close to the university with expensive shops and cafes lining either side of the street. If all went well this meeting would secure a profitable cargo for the return journey. They were looking forward to putting GreensBridge behind them.
Dahlah had spent the last few days delivering the copies of the insurer’s letter to the aggrieved parties. One copy had also been sent downriver to Carskot, hopefully Lord Gambonti would be satisfied. Any trip back along the River Trade Road would be easier if Carskot could be used as a layover point.
Locally, most of the merchants had been begrudgingly accepting of the insurer’s promissory. There had been a couple of them that were delaying and Dahlah would have to visit them again before concluding business in GreensBridge.
The crew had mostly opted to return by airship, one of the gals though had fallen in love since arriving in the city, she intended to stay. Dahlah had paid out wages and bought most of the others passage on the next airship going to West Port. That had left the new teamster, hired on in the spring, Dunbar, and one of Gainsly’s teamsters, Dowmer, who had agreed to make the return trip via the River Trade Road. As well, oneof the cooks and the last surviving outrider had been convinced with some extra financial incentive. Dahlah was torn between hiring a few of the locals or risking the possibility that some of the other survivors would still be in Carskot or Cof.
Certainly either of those places would have wagons and horses available at fairly low prices. So many had been left behind by the caravan, a large number of the horses would be culled before the winter settled in. Though it would be a bit of a gamble, Dahlah had to consider that a barge back down the river to Carskot would make up for time lost here in GreensBridge. Otherwise, any delay on the return journey had a good chance of leaving them stranded, who knew where, for the winter.
There had also been some leads on worthwhile cargo for the return journey, a small amount of which had already been acquired. Herbs, spices and alchemical components from Swampdon weresome of the more promising investments and even though Roburns Trading Company handled most of the importing from the Swampdon area, there were plenty of local merchants doing wholesale exchanges. Dahlah had also been given a good tip about a jeweller who was selling off their business.
The carriage pulled up alongside the walkway in front of the jeweller’s shop. Dahlah hopped out, ignoring the driver as he once again called them miss, despite the fact that Dahlah had introduced themselves as mister when they had paid the man for the ride. Nothing new with that, but it still bothered them, every time it happened. The front door to the shop was locked, there was a small lever by the door that produced a pleasant chiming sound. The carriage clattered back into traffic. No one came to the door, Dahlah pulled the level again.
After a while someone on the other side of the door said, “Give me a moment.”
Sliding bolts and locks secured the brass bound door, Dahlah waited patiently. There was another moment of silence from within. Finally a scruffy looking man in dirty clothes opened the door. “Yes?”
“Hello, I’m here to see Miss Raven. I have an appointment.”
“Are you representing Mr Dahlah?”
“I am Mr Dahlah.”
“Oh, I see. Well, in that case come on in.” He swung the door open and stepped back.
The insides were in a shambles, the smells of vinegar and sawdust were strong. The drapes were shut and there were only a couple of lamps burning. The door was closed, locks and bolts secured, “Sorry about the mess, things are kind of chaotic right now. I’ll fetch Miss Raven for you.”
“Thank you.” He headed into the back of the shop.
Dahlah noted a couple small wooden boxes on one of the counters, full of jewellery. At least a few gold bars worth of product. They wondered why anyone would leave such a horde unattended. They decided to wait by the door. A long while later, almost to the point of rudeness, a young, well dressed, very attractive woman came into the front room. She took a moment to appraise her prospective buyer.
Dahlah stepped forward and offered a hand, “I’m Mr Dahlah.”
The woman smiled and shook hands, “Miss Raven. Charmed.”
“I was told you were getting out of the business?”
Miss Raven opened the drapes and curtains, “There, that’s better. Sorry for the mess, and yes, everything must go. Except the furniture.”
“I see. May I inquire as to why?”
“You certainly may. Simply put, my husband-to-be and I are moving east, he’s a woodworker of some renown and has been offered a job by Lord Jander Probancruq. Are you familiar with Jander?”
“I’m familiar with the Probancruq name.”
“Well, this is one of the sons of the present Warden of the Western March. He has raised a great city of stone near the Kaffern Hills to the east, he is a powerful mage and it is said the city will soon rival GreensBridge.”
“I see. I had not heard of this.”
“It is well known locally, ask around. The point being, he is a powerful earth mage and while he might be able to raise a city of stone, the area where he has built this city is scarce on trees, wood workers and furniture.”
“Seriously?” Dahlah was having a hard time believing what the woman was saying.
“Oh, yes. As I said, it is well known. I’m sure you could find any number of reliable people to verify this.”
“Very well, what exactly are you selling? Those two boxes?”
“Yes, and there is another box in back, mostly with work done by apprentices. As well, my tools.”
“I know it seems strange, but an earth mage as powerful as Lord Jander can make me tools of a much higher quality than what I have here. Also an earth mage can easily provide me with all the raw materials I need.”
“Well, I think I might want to verify this before investing, but that might depend on just how much of a bargain you are offering.”
“Keep in mind that my best pieces have already been sold, as well most of the raw materials I had. This is just what is left.”
“Alright. Do you want to name a price?”
“Well, if you could take it today, I’d sell it all to you for three gold bars.”
Dahlah was sure this woman was pulling their leg and was beginning to suspect that what could be seen here might just be illusion. “Tell you what, if I can verify this as simply as you say, I will be back before sunset.”
Oddly enough Miss Raven’s claims had been verifiable. Not only had a number of woodworkers told similar stories, but one of them was also in the process of handing off his local business to his younger brother, he was intent on going to this mage’s city as quickly as possible. Additionally it seemed the local mage’s guild was very upset with Jander Probancruq.
Unfortunately an assayer had been unavailable on such short notice, but Dahlah had been able to hire a young mage who could verify if illusion magic was being used to fool potential customers. After gathering Dowmer, they had returned to the jeweller’s shop close to sunset. Miss Raven had been happy to see them and had already gathered everything into the front room for inspection.
The mage had waved his hands around and muttered some arcane sounding words and after a few moments was able to verify that no illusion magic was being used. Something still seemed off, but Dahlah could easily double their money from this exchange, maybe triple it and there would still be more room for other cargo. It was too good a deal to pass on. The transaction took place and Dowmer and Dahlah had spent most of the evening redistributing the treasures. It turned out that some of the pieces were silver and there was other rare metals used in the crafting of some of it. A small amount of the jewellery had been inset with gem stones of various sorts. Even the tools had been of excellent quality. Dahlah would easily triple their investment.
After swearing Dowmer to secrecy and offering a generous percentages off any profits from the jewellery, they had taken it to Dahlah’s wagon. The wagon had been enchanted so that a mage would be unable to scry it, though it was not burglar proof, so they decided that one or the other of them would stay with the wagon until they departed.
Over the next few days Dahlah secured passage on a barge bound for Carskot. Other transactions were dealt with and Dahlah was able to finish the local business on behalf of the insurers. More letters were sent out through Roburns Trading Company, mostly to the insurers but they had included a letter to the Gainsly’s and Rasken’s families, informing them of their intended departure date. They also decided that it was worth the extra cost, considerable cost, to divert the airship to Cof Crossroads with a message for Lord Gainsly or any other member of the caravan who may still be there.
On the day before their departure Dahlah took the time to visit the library, something they had been meaning to do for a couple of years now. As they were unsure of returning to the city next year it seemed like a good time to do so. It had been very impressive, just the numbers of books and scrolls had been a bit overwhelming. The building itself had been a marvel, it was the first time they had entered one of the Eldra structures, it was hard to believe that it had been standing for twenty thousand years. Most amazing was the main entry and the various displays of artifacts from across the freeholds, they had not realized that the Andellean people had come from such diverse stock.
Perhaps next year they would consider trading in another freehold city, maybe Janderton.
The following morning they were underway shortly after sunrise, if all went well, perhaps they would be met by Lord Gainsly in Carskot. Either way Dahlah was looking forward to being on the road again.