Author Topic: Pepper and Lace: Chapter 6  (Read 2028 times)

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Offline MerchantDeryni

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Pepper and Lace: Chapter 6
« on: October 13, 2018, 10:48:37 PM »
Chapter 6: Pepper and Lace: Their ship has come in.

   Dhyrucc stared at the two women sitting in his father's study in a mix of shock and horror. He was frozen in place with the realization that several different aspects of his life had just crossed together in some way that was bound to be bad. He had no idea why, just that clearly, it had to be bad. He turned to his sister.
“Step one, No. Whatever you are about to say, just No.” He turned to Victoria. “Step two, How? And Why?”

   His sister answered. “She came in through the study. I was in the front parlour reading and she opened the door to the study and tried to sneak out the front door to ring the bell. I confronted her and she introduced herself. Then we were fast friends.”

   “Why would her name make you friends? You've never met have you?” snapped Dhyrucc.

“No, but I've read all her books, well, all that I can find. She is marvellously clear about Portals. Very easy to understand. And sounding so peevish.”

Dhyrucc looked at Alicia in amazement. “Where did you find books about portals?”

“Your room, and on the desk in father's study, and on the table in the front parlour. You really should clean up after yourself, but like all the boys in this house you leave that to your sister or the maid.”

“My books are kept under lock and key in my strongbox.”

“And your key is left in the inside button pocket of your vest coat more often than not when you leave the vest coat for laundry. The spare is hanging on a hook behind your dresser for when you lose your key and have to wait for the maid or myself to leave it back in the dish on the top of your dresser. Wherever did you get all that money? You make ever so much? Is it done with Portal's? Is that why Victoria is here?”

   Victoria laughed. “Alicia, you must slow down a moment. Your poor brother has not caught up to the fact that you know at least as much as he does. He needs a moment or two.” Victoria turned to Dhyrucc. “ My apologies for barging in. I needed to find you and did not know which road led to your house, and I wanted to speak with you. They said at Longwyn you'd left for the day. I had hoped to find you in the study, or at least pretend to knock on the door. I did not realize that you had not left Longwyn and they reported wrongly.”

Dhyrucc looked a little uncomfortable. His eyes flicked to her and away. She raised an eyebrow. “So, a private jaunt. Your pockets a little heavier? Or lighter? Were you picking up or dropping off?”

Alicia looked at the two of them. “What is she talking about Dhyrucc?”

   “Dropping off. I made a trip to the coast and dropped off some wine. All sanctioned. I am not smuggling. Getting stronger. I can do the major runs and still a couple of jaunts.” said Dhyrucc a little sourly. “So why are you talking to my sister about Portals? And how did you get this signature?”

“Because she asked me. I teach anyone about portals. I think it is one of the most important safeguards we can have as a people. It is why I wrote those books, and paid to have copies made. I learned the signature when we were improving your memory. As you locked the signature in place in your mind I learned it.”

“The books were very clear and very helpful. Have you read them all Dhyrucc?”  Ali said. She looked up at Dhyrucc still standing in the middle of the portal. “You should sit down and stop looming over us.”

“Surely this could have waited until I was back at Longwyn? Why not just leave a note for me Victoria? I would have come within a day or so.”

“Don't be rude Dhyrucc. Victoria came all this way to see you and father.” said Ali. He shot her a quelling glare but she smiled impishly at him, unaffected. She seemed to have aged more in the past 3 months than he had realized. She seemed to be less of an annoying little sister and more of a young woman. That bothered him on levels he had not realized yet.

“Would you please be quiet Ali. You have no idea what we are talking about.” Dhyrucc snapped. He sat in one of the other chairs in the corner of the study.

“You still sound peevish. Father, make Dhyrucc watch his tone. He is being most uncivil.” Alicia called out to her father as he stepped into the room. Daniel observed the trio in the corner.

“Shall I step out and leave you the room? Is this a private meeting?” he asked. He looked at Victoria questioningly. She rose and curtsied prettily.

“Good afternoon sir, my name is Victoria Abranel. We've corresponded. I work for the bank, and the network. I've come to see you and Dhyrucc. My apologies for the unorthodox entry. I was a little leary of riding here with my packages. May I have a moment of your time, and that of Dhyrucc? I have some good news for you both, for you all.” she said, glancing over at Alicia.

“Welcome Miss Abranel. Come sit by the desk and speak about your business.” Daniel went and moved an extra chair by the desk. There was a moment of silence as the trio went and sorted themselves out at the new sitting area. Victoria hefted two satchels from beside the chair she had been sitting on and put them up on the desk. One thumped heavily, and with a clink of coin.

   She opened the other satchel up and removed two leather document cases. The leather cases were well made and embossed with the seal of the bank. She placed one in front of Daniel and the other in front of Dhyrucc and gestured for the ment to open them. Daniel and Dhyrucc each opened their respective cases and withdrew several folios from their case. Alicia perched on the edge of her chair as  Victoria took a sheaf of paper and read from the first page of notes.

“The first folio is a copy of the loan document you made with the bank. Your 1 pound of gold secured the loan, as well as signing away, on paper at least, a portion of your lands. The existing debts on the land are noted and accepted by the bank.”

   The two men flipped through the pages of the folio and nodded. They had signed the contract shortly after Dhyrucc started carrying goods. Vidtoria continued;

 “The second folio is the contract securing the bank to find a merchant house to fund and back a mercantile venture to the spice lands of the East. The bank, oddly enough, backed a venture by Longwyn Merchant House. The third folio is the papers backing the venture and your percentage of the profits once the materials have been brought back and sold. Rates, percentages, fees and deductions for costs and penalties are all listed. A list of goods purchased here for trade in the East is also included.
   The fourth folio is a list of the goods the venture purchased as it travelled to and from the Spice Bazaar. Luckily there was a shipment of silks available from the fabled land of  Chan available and their purchase is also noted. All other items are listed. Pepper, nutmeg, saffron, all listed.
   The fifth folio is the manifest as the merchants travelled west back home, costs for transport, lodging etc. Some sales along the way were made, profits noted. The last section of the folio is the paperwork for the importation of the goods into Gwynedd. Customs stamps, taxes paid, licenses received, and so on. The last section is the listing of prices paid for the sale of the material. Much of it was sold wholesale to expedite the transactions. There were some individual sales. All fees and taxes paid of course. The rear of the folio is your profit from the overall venture. Please note that the loan has been repaid in full and there are no further claims from the bank for any of the funds indicated.”

   The two men had been skimming along the folios as she recited from her list. When they reached the last page they both froze, looked at each other, and then at Victoria. She continued. “In the heavy bag is a percentage of the amount owing you, in cash. Some in gold, some silver. The remainder is in the letter of credit in the bank's name. Payable in cash at any time of course.”

Alicia could keep quiet no longer and asked;  “What are you talking about? Father never said anything about a venture. Was it successful? Were there pirates like the last one?”

“No my dear, no pirates. It seems my ship came in.” Murmured Daniel.

Victoria nodded. “Indeed, a pleasant little ship out of Coroth. According to the Journals of the venture the expedition headed south to the Southern Sea, East to Coroth. From there an overland journey east to the spice bazaar of Byzantyum. The return voyage was simply reversed and north up the river to Rhemuth. In all a very profitable journey.” She smiled.

“So you are simply handing all this money to us? I signed the contract, knowing what the true nature of the venture was. The daily rate of pay, and the weekly bonus I am allowed to invest in was reward enough? What is this all about? You've made us rich. The bag has enough money in it to cover three years income on this entire estate. And that is only a fraction.”

“My dear Mr. Imbrael. You invested in us. Kept out secret, sold wine and other spices at parties. Dhyrucc has literally carried several tons of material between cities over the course of the last few months. The profit on spices is insanity itself. We deduct to cover all our costs, and bribes, and taxes and still your share is multiplying your investment by a factor of twelve. There is risk in this venture. If the network is ever discovered and traced to your family you are all likely doomed, or will be forced into exile. We pay well and enjoy life while we can. ”

“Well you have altered all out lives, and I thank you for the aid you have given my self and my family. I am in your debt.” Daniel said.

“You are now free to do something good for yourselves, and for others should you be so inclined. The financial strain is gone. Gone forever should you still wish to do business with us.”

Dhyrucc grinned. “I will still carry goods for you. And I may well be inclined to walk the world myself, now that the threat to my family is gone.”

Alicia spoke up. “I want to work on the network as well. Father, I am going to work for Longwyn merchants, or the bank. Whichever organization will have me.”

And that, thought Dhyrucc, was why this was going to be a very bad.


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