Samuel - Chapter 3

"There has got to be something wrong with these numbers", Skivah muttered to herself over piles of yellowed parchment. Those grubby merchants on the quay know better than to short us, or, rather, they should since she had sent Sammy to go chat with 'em. No, no, one of her people must be taking a cut they aren't meant to. Of course, the line between meant to and can was pretty blurry in this line of work. The protection racket certainly was profitable, but it didn't attract the type of scum that's happy with what their given. It attracted her type of scum.

Not that protection was the only business that the Freeperson's Association Guild of the great city of Zantiko engaged in. They also had interests in smuggling sparbek into the city from the fields of Masia, as well as extra-judicial acquisitions, and, of course, the occasional kidnapping. To be honest, protection was a fairly new endeavour for the Guild since not even three years prior had the viceroy's guard made such practices...unprofitable. But since the invasion, and subsequent breakdown of basic law and order, the situation had changed dramatically.

Skivah was interrupted from her musings by a knock on the door followed by "Someone to see ya boss" coming from the muscle on the other side.

"If it's Bartolli, tell him I don't care how many bales of hay he's got, I don't take payment in the form of animal feed."

"Naw boss, its Sammy and Will, back from that job"

"Well about time, send 'em in."

Moments later, Will pushed open the door and maneuvered his large frame around the cramped office to settle himself in one of the shabby ladder-back chairs across from Skivah. Samuel followed and sat himself next to Will.

"Greetings, Skivah.", Will said, his masian accented words seeming to originate from deep in his jowls. "You'll be pleased to hear that the job went off without a hitch. Why don't you show 'er Sammy!"

"Without a hitch may be painting a sunnier picture than the reality," said Samuel as he pulled the amulet from out of his coat pocket. "Our informant screwed us. The jeweler hired extra guards that weren't there when we cased the place. I barely made it out, even with", gesturing to Will, "all of Will's fancy gadgets. Speaking of which, seeing as they were expended on Guild business..."

"Naw naw, sonny," Will cut in, "we all got our rackets, and there's no bloody refunds on Guild equipment."

"Surely you can settle this another time," Skivah said. She was an imposing figure, with long mahogany braids laid around broad shoulders and framing a face composed of features as sharp as they were alluring. This was all, of course, complemented by the fact that she was a dwarf, and some of those braids originated from that face. Glistening green eyes stared across the desk and pinned each of them in their seat. "The fact is the job was done and we get to deliver to the client, we can settle other scores later. Now, Samuel give me the amulet and see Bornhold for your cut."

Samuel's arm moved to hand the amulet over, but he hesitated. After all, he had done all of the legwork for this contract. He found the informant to locate where the amulet was sold. He scouted the location. He planned and executed the operation. He did the job, but he had to settle for just a cut of the contract. He deserved better. But that would have to wait. He reached his arm over the desk and laid the trinket in front of Skivah. "See that makes it to the client, won't you. I'm sure they paid a kings ransom for it."

"We always do," Skivah replied, and gestured for them to leave.

Later, Bouncing in one hand the pittance left in his pouch after collecting his cut and settling with Will, and cradling a pipe in the other, Samuel looked over the Zantiken skyline at the sun just beginning to crest over the ships in the harbor. While taking a long drag off his pipe, a thought occurred to him. Perhaps he had been looking at this all wrong. Perhaps the problem was not that his cut was too small. Quickly, he tapped out his pipe and stomped off towards the nearest tavern. He had some planning to do.