As he followed her into the high value asset area where the lumber would be kept he watched as she placed her hands over both of the globes and had him climb up and place them within the rafters.
If the thieves or burglars come, they will be caught if not by the plates, flare contacts, or the wires, at least the globes will make them known to us and the city watch.
Two of them returned to The Toasting Tankyard. Paul remained at the wagon shoppe to train Henricks on the system.
They worked quite hard. They need a break. Henricks arrived looking well rested and he appeared more chipper than their first meeting.
Perhaps we are putting him at ease or he was just tired at the end of yesterday? I will not ask.
“Good morning, Sir Henricks.”
“Morning, Paul.” He even spoke in a brighter tone than his somber words of yesterday.
“Everything is in place, Sir. If you’ll follow me I’ll take you to the component that you yourself will know how to use as it operates everything. Sound good?”
“It does, Paul.” Please lead the way. He gestured forward with an open hand and followed Paul. Even Henricks’s steps were quicker today as the pair meandered their way deep into the interior of Henricks’s facility past where the wagons were made and sold to Henricks’s office area where all was there was a desk, some quills with inkwells, and lastly the new addition: the control box.
Henricks face bore a grin after observing it.
“So this is what controls these devices of yours?” Again his bright words carried confidence instead of the defeat he was espousing yesterday.
“Indeed it does. I’ll tell you how this works first, if it pleases you?”
“It does, Paul. Pray continue.”
Paul opened the box and showed off the gears ranging in size from the head of a pin to the diameter of a baseball.
“How were those gears made, pray tell, witchcraft?”
“Estalwyn orders the parts, I just design. Besides they’re trade secrets. They’re the guts of the system and the brain. So, let’s talk about what these do in a nutshell, Sir Henricks.”
“Of course. I’m sorry for digressing you.”
Thanks, and thanks for yielding to me steering this conversation.
“This machine activates and deactivates the devices through warbling orchestrated by Estalwyn’s magic. These gears are all configured by her with various spells that arm or disarm, and the most important thing: alert you and the city watch if there’s trouble here. I’ll show you the individual devices next. For now, let me show you how to arm the system.”
Paul closed the front panel. He then produced a key from his belt pouch and pushed it into the keyhole on the left side of the panel. He turned it away from him. The gears clicked twice.
“Away is on. Towards is off. You’ll hear two clicks for arming it and four clicks for disarming it. Arm before you leave. Disarm during working hours. But you can arm it again and disarm it again with one of these.”
From the same belt pouch, Paul produced a red and green colored stone.
“Sir Henricks, this is what I call the alarm talisman. Press on the red and when the whole stone turns red the alarm is active. Press on the green side and when it all turns green the alarm is inactive. Understand?”
Henricks was amazed.
“Dear Paul, it is so well I am a free thinker. There are some who would call this devilry.”
Paul of Pinningdale smiled so proudly and held up the talisman.
“Henricks, to us this is the work of angels. To our enemies this is devilry and rightly so: it unleashes their consequences to them and in some case hastens their demise. Any question so far?”
“No. My memory is well.”
“Good. Follow me to the lumber.”
The two of them walked back over to the lumber.
Paul pointed to three spots.
“Is the system active or inactive right now?”
Henricks pulled out the stone and pressed on the green side. The stone turned green. And he then nodded affirmatively.
Good. He learned. Hopefully he never forgets.
“Glad you remembered. The only lethal traps in the system are here. Three plates are loaded with razor blades. If the system is armed and they’re tripped spring loaded blades will strike the person or beast who tripped them. The alarm is activated, but it is likely that the one who tripped the blades will die a slow death unless help arrives soon.”
“Why the lethal device? I don’t want to kill anyone.”
“Neither do we. But remember you have perimeter devices as well. Just be mindful of whether or not the system is on or off. Okay?’
“Yes, Paul.” He said this in a begrudging tone. He didn’t want to put too much faith in these people, but Henricks had realized that in this life at times one has to shake hands with the devil. And Paul of Pinningdale was a lesser devil whom he hoped would become an angel to him.
Paul pointed to the doors, up front.
“On each of your doors there are trip wires and contacts, you’ll know when every door has been opened as it has been recorded by the box. When the alarm is activiated, the box extends a tripwire which extends the width of the threshold. When the contact or the threshold is tripped after the alarm is on a flare will be launched and the alarm will sound just like if the razor plates are tripped. The perimeter is almost impenetrable, so this is rare that those alarms will ever matter. But that flare is so fearsome and terrific in it’s blast and horrific in it’s report. That the city watch will run to this place and storm it as if it were a military objective. It has been that way in Pinningdale and I’m sure it would be the same here.”
Henricks looked down in a somber matter.
I’m talking about his livelihood. He’s scared. But he knows he must protect it.
“I see, Paul. And what of this globe that Estalwyn spoke of?”
He doesn’t have to know.
“How does it work?”
“I do not sell snake oil or dragon’s dung, dear Henricks. It is a trade secret. My Estalwyn is a mage trained in the old arts, but also a scientist trained in what her people call the new methods. Friend, we aim to do business. I’m not a gambling man. Yet, I will say this. You shan’t pay a single of the King’s Passe if the system fails. I’ve built a castle out of a stable with these devices. And this castle shall not or ever fall.”
“Until then, I suppose regular installments are in order.”
“When do you expect the first payment.”
“A fortnight from today. Send it to the Toasting Tankard in care of Estalwyn Galatheadrea of Pinningdale. Understood?”
“Indeed. You may take your leave of here, Paul. I shall call upon ye if the alarm is triggered.”
“Good. Let us hope we catch the foul thief, burglar, or traitor to you that hopes to take what is yours. And may your business prosper once more.”
“Thank you. Good day.”
Paul left in silence and returned to the Toasting Tankyard where a pint of Blonde Ale and his friends awaited him. After a little nap of course. It had been an exhausting set of hours and frankly he had lost his patience with Henricks. The man had called upon him and his two partners with ample faith. And now that he had seen the bill, doubt had filled his heart. It was an unfortunate bit of business. But if there was one lesson he had learned from being a merchant it was simply this.
“The worst and best part of the business is the client’s needs.”
He said this aloud as he was entering the premises of the alehouse and inn known as the Toasting Tankyard. Should he have said this?
Probably not. Yet, I doubt any of these people in this bar could be my clients. We only alarm merchants or castles. We’ve never alarmed any dwellings. I doubt that will change anytime soon.
Paul approached the bar and ordered a pint for himself from the bar maid. Redmalt was not present. Paul liked him, he was a good publican it seemed. And from the crispness and refreshing power of his blonde ale, he was a fine brewmaster. He had every right to be proud of his beer.
It is as blonde as Estalwyn’s locks
After finishing half of his pint, Paul ascended the steps to the quarters where the rooms were. Paul, Rilles, and Estalwyn were staying in a large chamber at the end of the hall. Paul knocked on the door with the handle provided for it.
“That you, Paul?”
The door opened.
Estalwyn was in one of the three beds provided. Rilles was staying in the center one and Paul’s was closest to the door. Estalwyn had removed her boots, cloak, and jerkin. She was comfortable in her shirt and trunkhose. Rilles was without his cloak. He was bare chested and he kept his breeches on. He had a jug of water he was sipping on and Estalwyn was nursing a larger tankyard of the blonde ale. Paul studied the room. It was a sparse room, save for a single tapestry present to keep out the draft. On the far side of the room closest to Estalwyn’s bed. A washbasin was in the corner and a chamber pot was visible in the corner closest to the door.
Thankfully, Redmalt takes out the refuse.
Estalwyn rose from the bed she was lying on and approached Paul with purpose.
“Well, how do you think it went?”
“Fine. He understood the talisman and the nature of the devices and the importance of safety while using that system. I think he’ll be all right along with being protected.”
“Good. Now let’s talk about the rest of our time here.”
Okay. I don’t like where this is going.
“Sure.” Paul said this in a neutral manner. He didn’t want Estalwyn to know he really wasn’t interested in going on a contract.
“Rilles and I are going to go on some ventures while we wait on Henricks. I know you like to stay behind while we wait on our reputation to build in a new place.”
Paul couldn’t help but smile at Estalwyn’s understanding tone. This was a change of pace. The swordplay of mercenary work along with working for lousy captains who cared more about fulfilling the client’s desires no matter what instead of doing it effectively bothered him. And he found himself too often tired of it. Rilles was different. He was oftentimes hired by mercenary captains who were more tolerant than most after learning his race. Estalwyn was a spellsword who was easily employable. Her skills with engineering a solution to any problem to a marching army were valuable and proven. Her skills with a sword were just as noteworthy. Paul was just sick of fighting. He preferred this life he was building under the trade of consultant as he called it.
“How long will you both be gone?”
“We’re going to the market tomorrow to put ourselves for hire. Not sure yet. We’ll try not to be gone for no more than a week. We’ll keep the jobs local. How does that sound?” Estalwyn replied quickly at that.
“That’s just fine. If our reputation grows around here though, we’ll want to have you back soon to be ready for the next installs. Okay?”
Rilles nodded. “Of course, Paul. Don’t worry we aren’t joining a group of privateers as a cutting out party. Have no fears, please.” He spoke in a firm tone.
“I understand. I’m just trying to keep the money flowing. I’ll write to our current customers from here and see if we can get some referrals.”
Rilles grunted. Estalwyn nodded.
“We understand that you want to stay behind and basically make this chamber our office. But if we start losing money from being here more than three weeks and only having one sale, you either need to start cold calling. Which I hate you doing, or pick up a sword or spear and join us in mercenary work. Otherwise, there’s not much really for us to be doing in Red Spire to make money. All right?”
Estalwyn’s words were said in a soft tone, but the conclusion was firm. He understood.
She’s right. We cannot deny reality.
“I am fine with that. Write to me from where you both are at and as for me, I’ll stay here and see to our accounts in Pinningdale and Western Piwight. Until then I’ll see you both rested and myself. I’m taking a nap.”
“We shall too. We’ll rise early and we’ll tell you where will be going with the mercenary companies.”
They all retired for the evening.