Estalwyn stayed silent as they traveled down cobblestone paved paths to the tavern in question called the Toasting Tavern.
Looks charming and discreet enough. The prospective clients generally never steer us towards unsavory places where the thieves’ guilds and burglar unions stay the night and slake their thirsts and hunger at. We’re likely in good company, Rilles’s cloak should keep him concealed amongst this crowd without difficulty.
Paul turned to Rilles.
“I don’t need to remind you to watch yourself, right?”
“Of course not. I don’t want to get into any fights.”
“At least not yet.”
One of these days he’ll get us all into trouble.
Paul opened the door widely and crossed the threshold into the tavern. Estalwyn followed behind him, her gray lizard-skin boots barely made a noise as she crossed into the warmer building that was the tavern. Rilles followed last. Although his boots were more like trunk hose to cover his claw-like toenails, Rilles like, Estalwyn barely made a noise. Paul’s leather boots were commonplace compared to their more complex footwear.
Once inside the aroma of roast meat and woody ales could be detected by their nose. Rilles’s snout made much noise.
“OY! You’re a thirsty one, aren’t ya. I heard you sniffin. Got a cold have we? We’ve got some of the best ale around. I finish it in in cedar barrels and only use the finest hops and malt from just outside the city walls. I call it Red Spire Blonde. Named for the city we live in and for the color of this wood elf’s hair your with, Mr.?”
“Paul of Pinningdale. Yes, she does have blonde hair. And yes, he’s thirsty. We’ll have three pints and a table in the back if you have one. We’ve matters to discuss. Business of ours that is quite timely.”
“No problem at all. I’ve rooms too if you’re interested. Thirty of the King’s Passe and you can have the best one, since you are so well-mannered.”
I guess she won’t rebuke me later then. I could have sworn I was going to get a talking to for being rude to the innkeeper.
“Thank you, dear Sir. What is your name?”
The barman filled their tankers from the kegs with his beer engine. As a blonde colored liquid was dispensed from the firkins he spoke to them.
“I am Simon Redmalt, barman, brewmaster, and publican. The Toasting Tavern has been mine for thirty years. It was my father’s for twenty-five, and my granddad built this place, and he had it for fifteen. It was my idea to brew our own ale, and so far it has been a success.”
“No. That’s just hard work.” He handed the three of them beers. “This is good.”
Paul took a sip of the ale.
Delicious, balanced, and above all a bite is at the end.
“I will call both good, Simon. Yes, your ale is excellent. You brew it well.”
“Thank you, Paul. Follow me to your table.”
Rilles’s paws were exposed now as he sipped the beer like his human compatriots.
He’ll expose himself to all of them. He mustn’t betray himself.
“We’re going to the back. Relax.”
Simon turned and smiled back.
“Enjoying your beer, Houndsman?”
“You know my kind?”
Rilles’s inquiry was met with a wider grin.
“Aye. Traded some grain with one of the clans. Forgot their names, it wasn’t yours. These folk were taller, had longer legs, and furthermore they weren’t as well-mannered.”
“They weren’t Peat Woad?”
“Nay. As I said I cannot remember their names. I will happily serve you though. I bear no prejudice towards your folk. And many people who come in here wouldn’t know the difference they’re so drunk.”
We’d better stay vigilant though.
Simon tipped his cap.
“Let me know if you need more ale.”
Paul nodded and handed Simon a purse of coin.
“That’s likely five-hundred of the King’s Passe. Make this chamber private and have our supply wagon be brought from the hitching posts to your own secure stables. We’ll be working tonight and we need privacy to do it in.”
“Of course. Thank you, Paul.”
“You are welcome, Simon.”
“I’ll see that your rooms are clean and ready.”
Simon departed. As he left their presence, Estalwyn unrolled parchment scrolls and retrieved quills from her pouch. She handed a quill and an inkwell to Rilles. Rilles quickly began drawing a floor plan of the wagon shop they had just been at before coming to this tavern.
Never thought I’d be working with a large dog that can draw.
The whole of the parchment was transformed from a blank sheet to a floor plan that detailed ever ingress and egress route, and it also highlighted the area where the lumber was stored as the critical area.
“You amaze me with your sketches, Rilles.”
“Thanks, Estalwyn. You taught me, remember.”
“You surpass the master, pupil.”
Paul’s last comment had Estalwyn’s tongue out sticking right at him. She then turned back into her ‘working mode’ in an instant.
“What do you think their budget is, Paul.”
She said this in a blunt tone.
Serves me right this time. She can be a cutie when she’s angry.
“I would say Mr. Henricks could spend probably 20,000 of the King’s Passe.”
“I disagree, Paul.”
Rilles said this as he placed his paws over the inkwell dropping the quill back in. His kind had opposable thumbs unlike the wild wolf and unlike the domesticated dogs. He could draw beautiful sketches and reliefs. He was handy with the floor plans, but he could swing a deadly sword as well as have a vicious bite.
He’s full of surprises.
“What then, Rilles?”
The dog-man pointed to the high-value asset area.
“We should focus on that as our pinnacle. The budget must not even be above the halfway point to 20,000 of this King’s Passe. This man is already hurting already. If we almost bankrupt him before he even has a chance to protect his business, what is our use to him? Nothing at all, Paul. Hide your chase for gold and riches for once and look outside that mercenary heart of yours.”
He’s always been a spitfire. It’s Estalwyn’s influence on him.
“You see, Paul. The answer is simple. Instead of a large and complex ‘merchant’ system we give him a compact, tailor-made system.” He pointed to the high-value asset area. “That’s it. That’s what we need to protect.”
“We still need a perimeter.”
“Of course, Paul.”
Estalwyn marked where the doors were to and from the barns to the streets and the courtyard ones. “They’ll be a total of four contacts, Paul to alert the city watch right away with a flare if there’s a break in.”
Estalwyn then pointed her finger to the lumber storage area.
“Paul, here and here will be two of my globes. I’ll have the receptacle with me for safe keeping until we can get Henricks trained with it. They’ll be at least one control box by Henricks’s office and ledger area by the high-value asset area. That breaks it down to a total of nine thousand of the King’s Passe when we figure in our labor.”
Why isn’t she marking it up?
“Where and what’s the markup?”
“There’s no need for that.”
Is she nuts?
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“She isn’t, Paul.” Rilles took a sip of his ale then finished his thought. “Just let her explain. Okay, Squire?”
“Paul, this is a sales pipeline waiting to be opened here. If we mark it up to our usual three percent, we won’t get a sale, he can’t afford it, and our trip to Red Spire will be all for naught. Let’s worry about markups here when we build our business here. Okay?”
She has a point. Not the first time. Women!
“You’ve got a point.”
That came out slower than I wanted it too. Ha! She’ll know that I’ve conceded. Oh well!
“Go ahead and write up the quote, one of you.”
I used to think I was in charge of this company.
In five minutes the quote was finished. It looked like it would be a steal of a deal to give Henricks. That’s what Estalwyn thought at least. Paul was now in a silent disagreement. Rilles was eager to see what Henricks would say. Simply to show Paul that this time, he was in fact wrong. Paul now read through the finished quote.
Paul of Pinningdale & Associates Security Consultants:
Objective: To secure the lumber supplies of George Henricks, wagon wright
2 x Telaspi Globes
4 x Trip Flare Contacts
3 x Razor Plates
1 x Master Control Box
See attached drawing for all prospected positions. Installation to be conducted as soon as possible: approximate time needed; twelve hours. Training fee included in estimate.
Total Cost: 9,000 KPs
Looks better than I thought it would.