Doesn't seem like it was only a single dosenwan since I got here. Well we survived our first dungeon, just. Got enough money to rent a small room in Fawnwater and drown a few ales, I'll write about the hero we saw in action later because, despite my stinking hangover I feel it more urgent to recount the events of last night during our victory ales. I'll see what I can remember.
The pub was overspilling with customers. People adorned every surface and the ones that couldn't find a chair, bench or barrel sat on each other. Music from at least five instruments Greiip had never seen drifted around the place mixing with the spirited conversation and revelry. The two had staked out a place early and defended it since then by taking it in turns to go to the bar or outhouse.
“I tell you whast” said Karndal with a slur, “If that brigand behind be nudges be again, Ima make him eat hish own teeth”
The ale was giving him a newfound courage. It didn't suit him.
“That Brishgand, looks like he could east bricksh, let alone teesh” managed Greiip eventually.
“Well maybeeh Ima just run him throosh with that, with that, wassaname, nice sword that dead solsher gave me”
“No, no, we losht that, you made me take it off memember”.
“Oh yesh, solly,” Karndal puffed his cheeks out for a moment, wobbling slightly “but we hash those other ones, from the bansids, the dead bansids”.
“No, no no no, we solds those, howdya think were getting shish fashed?”
“I'm not shish fashed, am I?”
Greiip laughed “You're serioushly shish fashed”
Wait wait no wrong memory, what am I forgetting, it was earlier, much earlier, ugh it's all so fractal now, damned northern mead, much stronger than back home. Of course, that twerp Kringle. What did he tell me though. I'm going into town to buy some lahta beans, I'll think on the way.
The pub was quiet but the way the barkeep and what Greiip presumed was his daughter busied themselves you could see they were making ready for a busy night. So strange thought Greiip, back home Roorksday night was a sacred family time, after prayers and the village roast. No one got drunk on a Roorksday night because they all knew they were up at the crack on Lowesday morn to start working the fields. Here it seemed they sped up in their drinking as the dosenwan progressed. An endless seven day cycle of living life to the full. It made him a little angry that so much of his life had been wasted digging up potatoes when he could have been doing this instead. Kringle tapped his quill on the page of his ledger in an attempt to snap Greiip out of contemplation. Being a feather it didn't really have the desired effect so he cleared his throat instead.
“Sorry, you were saying” said Greiip
“I was saying, you owe me twenty grains still for the contract”
He had a smaller ledger than the vast tome that had adorned his desk back at the guild house. It had a leather strap through the spine to allow it to be carried like a satchel and even a little hinged and stoppered compartment for ink. Greiip decided right away he wanted one. Not the business sort, all lined and ruled and tabled, no, he wanted a blank one. Then he could go anywhere he wanted and draw or write about what he saw. They must make blank ones, he popped it into his mental to do list to find out and looked up at Kringle with a smile.
“Explain to me how that works” he said amicably “we entered into a business arrangement whereby you presented us with a means to make money for both parties at a moderate outlay of risk to both parties, that was how it was worded at the bottom of the scroll”.
“Yes I know but,”
“The risk being mortal on our part and financial on yours” pressed Greiip
“Indeed however I,”
“You sold us the contract at the embassy established rate of one tenth of the contracts overall value to be held as a guarantee”.
“I KNOW” shouted Kringle. The few grumpy looking patrons that pubs attract during this early hour were too self interested to notice the outburst but either way Greiip saw a red flush of embarrassment spread up from behind Kringle's beard.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to shout but,” he dropped to a whisper “I've done something a little bit, well, sort of illegal”.
Karndal had been sitting back with his hands behind his head watching the barkeep's daughter but this caught his attention. He leant in.
“What?” he said sharply “If you've got us in any trouble”.
“No, it's a fault on my end, the sub-contractor isn't liable for bookkeeping crimes” he pulled his fur coat tighter and looked around. “Do you know why we have to take a guarantee of one tenth of every contracts value? because that's exactly what the embassy tax is every crest. That way if every one of your sub-contractors dies, or if you have a few bad dungeons in a row you can still pay the embassy tax. We're only required to show earnings up to the sale value of every contract we issue combined for each crest, if we strike lucky and make more than they're worth it's ours to keep, untaxed. That's known as the adventurer's windfall because they normally get it. Kind of like an incentive. Of course filling out forms at the end of every crest for a figure that can be decided on easily by buying your contracts in bulk at the start of the crest is pointless so all we have to do is register our bulk contract value at the start of every crest, then every time we take a contract to get counter stamped the embassy house checks it off their list. That way they can check your sub-contractors aren't sub-sub-contracting your contracts out to a fourth party and the guild isn't giving out more contracts than it should own in the first place. What's more if you don't manage to issue every contract your guild bought that crest the embassy has a record of the deficit and can check that against any figures you submit. At the end of each crest you take what you think you owe to the embassy and they check it against what they think you owe. If there's a problem, they interview you. If the problem is your fault, they fine you”.
Karndal looked at Greiip “did you get any of that?”
“Every word, so what did you do Kringle?”
“Well, the contract I issued you was worth six hundred grains so I should have taken sixty from you, I even put into the ledger I did”.
“So, just pay the extra twenty grains out of your own pocket, it's hardly penance for breaking the law”
“I can't, I'm flat broke”.
“You're joking right? You don't have twenty grains to your name?”
“Not exactly no, not for a dosenwan or two, I have a few, ah, investments that should be maturing soon but until then, not a drop of gold or silver to be had. That's why I need the loot you got, even if it wasn't worth five hundred and forty grains. If I can sell that it will all be okay”.
Greiip folded his hands “why is it such a worry, the crest is young, there's time before the end of her to get twenty grains together”.
“Yes, indeed” said Kringle “but the deposit, once the contract it embarked on, has to be held in escrow, er, by a third party that is. My depositor doesn't count the grain purses you give him, his old eyes, he doesn't like to do it. Why I chose him, but I was just planning on running over there this afternoon with the extra twenty and saying I'd miscounted or something. The longer I leave it the harder it's going to be to bluff that. It's technical misconduct and a hard nosed depositor would fine me for an indiscretion like that so I can't leave that unfixed”.
“So, just to get this straight” said Greiip “you have a missing twenty grains that will be noticed at the end of the crest unless you can get it together really soon and trick some old bloke into thinking you made a slight clerical error”.
“pretty much exactly” said Kringle.
“Could you not have just said that ages ago?”
“I suppose so”.
“You suppose so good, listen Kringle” Greiip sat forwards “this sounds like it's your problem, I'm unsure what you expect us to do”.
“I expect you to honour your end of the contract and split the value of the loot. You can't just walk out on a contract, there's repercussions”.
Greiip smiled sourly “Well you see, there was no loot, at least not enough to give you twenty grains if split three ways”.
“No loot?” said Kringle “What happened?”
“We got a few old swords that a smith offered us the value of their weight in iron for, and a broken crossbow he threw in five grains for because he thought his son might enjoy fixing it. All told we got thirty two grains out of the whole trip”
“That dungeon was estimated at two thousand grains loot minimum”.
“Well there was competition, someone else turned up with a contract”.
“So, that's at least a thousand grains, dungeon rights aren't exclusive. You shouldn't have let him walk off with the lot, there's established rules for a dual encounter”.
“Not when our contract is wrong” Greiip threw the scroll across the table. Kringle unrolled it and groaned instantly.
“Oh I forgot to get it counter stamped, oh that's more fines, no way to avoid that one either the deposit has been, hang on, there may actually be a way around this for all of us”.
He closed the ledger and stood up slinging it over his shoulder.
“Come by tomorrow, I might have a solution that could actually make us a few grains. Oh, I almost forgot” he patted his coat down and reached into an inside pocket “a chap came by earlier asking about you two, seemed to know you, didn't say a name, left this”.
He handed them a small folded piece of parchment. Inside was drawn a picture of a closed eye. No words or anything else just an eye. Greiip passed it to Karndal who just shrugged.
“I don't know” said Greiip “I've never seen this symbol. Very curious”.
“Well he said he'd be back later so I suppose you can find out what he wanted then”.
Kringle stopped and leaned closer to Karndal “She might look like his daughter but it's actually his wife, and he keeps a claymore behind the bar for anyone who looks too long”.