Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Roads of Bone, Chapter 4: Malachite

I am doing a little experiment.  I am going to write a series of chapters in a fantasy world of my creation and see if it goes anywhere.  Since I have not prewritten this story and have no outline, it will probably end up a convoluted mess.  I do not know how often I will be able to update this or if it will ever finish.  This is the link to CHAPTER 1.  (I have also found that I have to go back and clean up very broken sentences in previous chapters.  This is why I need an editor.  I understand what I am writing, but I need to make sure other people do too.)

Chapter 4: Malachite
            As a teen, Malachite had been part of trade caravans from his home city of Hasenburg, the oldest continuously held County in the region famed for pepper and steak; north across the Painted Plains, so named for the nomadic tribes that rode mottled horses and painted their faces and skin to match the pattern; and then winding thru the passes of the Bones of Giants, a mountain range filled with abandoned cliff side villages with choked out stepped planting areas the bones of a great mountain people now gone.  The ultimate destination was Solace, the free harbor.
            Solace was the only major trading city that was not under the control of the Maunder Empire, whose legions controlled the southern half of a continent hundreds of miles away, and most of the western part of this continent.  Solace was instead run by the Fingers, a syndicate of aristocrats who elected a council of five from the property owners of the city, but the rule of law was not so strong.
            The Fingers were rich, they made the city function to maintain their wealth, and they used the wealth to stay in power.  And they kept those who had the arms to change things fed and housed to a level that they felt the system worked.  Limited slavery, trade in drugs, and very few duties kept people coming into the city, kept money flowing thru the city (though the bribes one needed to utilize might have balanced that cost out).  Say what you will about the Maunder, the tax was the tax, and giving or accepting bribes meant the loss of literal fingers.  In Solace the Fingers were there to count bribes.
            But it made for a flexible market that could be worked by someone who had the mind to.  And Malachite's father wanted Malachite to have that mind.  The Dandy Knight was taken on trade mission after trade mission to hear the haggling, how to sell cows, how to buy horses, how to check purity of salt, what to smell for, what to listen for, and what people said with their eyes.  Malachite was known as a swordsman, because Malachite sold himself well as a swordsman.
            "How could I have survived as many battles as I have dressed like this if I were not amazing at what I do?"  "He told you I fought how many?  That is too many, I... Well, let me count, 1, 2, the man with the know, now that I think about it, I might have been too humble."  "You need to provide more than that, I slept on a bed of straw for three nights and have eaten nothing but meal and bacon, the way I see it whether or not your battle goes forward luxuries have been denied to me and compensation is only fair."
            And he took these things in Solace, but his penchant for haggling and self promotion took a backseat to his greatest skill, cutting his friends in on the deal.
            Malachite was a networker, keeping lists of names in his head with his own system of nicknames to keep them all straight, little rhymes to remember if they owed him favors or if he owed them, and he always kept those debts very well, and managed to pay people back by setting them up with other people who he owed favors to, always working to make everyone's interests grow to a bigger interest.  He fought, but he was always batter at getting people to fight.  And now he was being given a bottomless purse to finance as many friends as he needed to get the job done, he was going to be owed a lot of favors after this.  And in the process he would have the legitimacy of working with Pasgard the Wizard.

            And so the two of them were off, to find Pasgard's secret... Whatever.

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