2021-08-08, 02:12 AM (ISO 8601)
Barbarian in the Playground
Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress
Trixie rolled a gold coin in her hand as she surveyed her bar. Both were a reflex, as natural as breathing. She contemplated a few of her current schemes, trying to plan additional levels of redundancy to ensure she came out ahead.
It was slightly busier night than normal at the Thirsty Fish, due to the unexpected ship coming to Ridgeport. Six sailors from that ship were taking up the long table, and all of the regulars came in at once. Should be a good night for the books.
Trixie had sent her newest hire, Lita, to wait on the sailors. She wanted to see how she'd handle a group of men that likely hadn't seen a woman in a while.
She returned after the third round of drinks, and began sorting the coins when Trixie noticed something odd.
"Wait a moment, honey."
She pocketed her coin, and walked towards the drawer. She pulled out a Dwarven Silver, rolling it a few times across her fingers.
It was genuine.
She motioned for Lita to dump the rest behind the counter, and pulled the Dwarven Coins from the drawer. 23 Dwarven Silver, in all. "What have they ordered so far?"
The young girl spoke quietly, shy with the thought that she had done something wrong. "Three mugs of ale each, 4 wanted beef, 2 wanted chicken."
Trixie looked back over at the sailors. They weren't flaunting their wealth, like some of the power players would. They're acting like they have coin to spare, to be sure.
They don't know what the coins are worth, any more than Lita would.
How did they get these coins? If they were paid by Dwarves, they would know what they were worth. Otherwise, they would either have thought they were underpaid, or whatever job they had in Dowafukoku landed them wealth they don't even realize.
"Keep these coins separate from the rest, and mind the bar for a while." She smiled at the young girl. "Don't worry, darling. You're doing good."
Trixie pulled two gold coins from the drawer and began rolling them in her hand. She subtly enchanted them as she walked towards the long table.
The conversation between the sailors was the standard lewd & crude you'd expect, but it grew silent as she stepped up to the table.
Trixie turned on her charm as she put on a smile, though she took a confident stance to make sure they knew she wasn't a pushover. "Evening, boys. I just wanted to welcome you to my port."
She waited a moment to see how they'd respond. One of them returned a handsome smile. The other five looked her up and down, all too obviously.
"Mind your manners, boys." She said it in a tone that made it clear she wasn't on the menu.
"Your port?" Mr Smiles spoke respectfully, but with a bit of confidence that suggested he was in charge of this lot. He offered his callused hand to her, politely and with the proper etiquette for a lady. Trixie reflexively began to reach for it, before realizing the coins were in that hand, then reaching and taking his hand with the wrong one.
He didn't acknowledge she took it incorrectly. This guy was a bit of a charmer himself. "Captain Jack. And your name, milady?"
"Trixie, owner and proprietor of the Thirsty Fish." She made a slight curtsy before taking her hand back. "So tell me, Captain Jack, what brings you through to my port.
Jack reached and took a quick gulp of his ale. The rest of his crew seemed to lose interest, now that the captain had Trixie's attention. They went back to their drinks, though 2 started looking towards Lita.
"Passing through. We had a supply run into Dowafukoku, and are now on our way back to the Barony."
"Supply run? I can always use another supply runner. What type of cargo do you ship?"
The crew started looking at Trixie & Jack, and he took a strange pause while he took another sip of ale, then his smile returned. "Produce, mostly. Grains, fruits and vegetables. Those dwarves, they don't really have the same kinds of farmland that we have in the Commons."
Trixie could feel the tension from the crew, and the overly descriptive explanation. The lack of farmland was fairly common knowledge. Captain Jack was being deliberately misleading, and the question alone made the crew nervous.
"Well, I hope you boys enjoy the meal." With that, Trixie put a hand on the table and bowed towards them, subtly sliding an enchanted coin under a coaster she was annoyed wasn't being used.
With that, she returned to the bar, sending Lita back to the tables. Casually, she rolled the other coin in her hand, near her ear.
Though slightly muffled, she could hear Captain Jacks words clearly. "Oi, you boys need to be more clever. Ya got nervous with the mention of the job. Yer gonna raise suspicion from someone like that. Don't worry, keep yer traps shut, and trust Captain Jack."
How cute. He thinks he's a good liar.
An hour and a half later, the sailors were still celebrating, mostly concerned about how to spend their extra cash. Mostly concerned about prostitutes, and when Captain Jack encouraged them to dream bigger, the best they could do was double the amount of prostitutes they wanted.
Trixie had passed the word through her organization, trying to get immediate word on the activities of their ship since it came into port. They were reloading, produce and goods, enough to show they left Dowafukoku with an empty hold.
Their previous stop must not have been a port, otherwise they would have resupplied there, especially since the Dwarven goods they picked up in town would have been cheaper if the story was true.
They also were overpaying everywhere they went, which upset some of the Dwarven merchants. They took it as compliment as a rule, though some saw it as an insult. That their coin was only as good as the metal it was made of. Since not every Dwarf in town was part of her organization, she was somewhat concerned about what the others would do.
Whatever job they had, it paid big enough that the sailors didn't question things, and whomever paid valued it a lot more than that crew. Clandestine, to be sure, but there weren't many jobs that would fit those facts Trixie would approve of.
She decided she had enough info that she had to get to the root of it. She called her brother Norm to get behind the bar, and headed over to the table.
"Captain Jack, " she said with a smile. "I have a free moment, I was hoping you could join me in the back room for a moment or two."
The other sailors cheered a bit before the Captain shut them down, and he confidently followed her through the doors across the tavern floor.
As the door closed, the Captain lost a bit of his swagger. Benny, Trixie's cook, moved to stand close to her. He was a big, intimidating man, that held a skillet with the menace of a Northman with a broadsword. Trixie paced about while the Captain got his bearings, waving her hands about as she talked.
"So, Captain Jack, if you wouldn't mind, tell me what your last job was."
He was obviously more nervous, and drew his hand back as though ready to draw a hidden weapon, probably a dagger or something. Trixie wasn't worried, as she was deliberately pacing outside of lunging range, and if he did pull a knife, Benny would probably be amused.
"I already told ya." His words were less formal, so his confidence was obviously gone.
"Yes, but that doesn't quite fit the facts. You see, this IS my port. So I'm quite aware of the amount of goods that your crew have been loading since you got here. Your holds are empty, and no self-respecting sailor would leave a port without stocking up first. Wouldn't be worth the run. At least not a produce run."
She gestured towards him again, staring him directly in the eyes. "Tell me what your last job was."
His fingers flexed, as though he was still considering drawing a blade. From the look on Captain Jack's face, Benny must have smiled at that little motion. "Well, we weren't delivering at a port."
"And likely, weren't delivering foodstuffs. See, here's the thing. You boys have made a lot of purchases in town." With a flourish, she produced a gold coin into her empty hand, a very basic hand manipulation. "Which normally, I'd think nothing of. I'd be happy for my people, making their money and what not. The thing is", she started as she produced a Dwarven Silver in her other hand in the same way, enjoying the theatrical presentation, "you have been spending a LOT of Dwarven coin, as though its worth one from the Commons or the Gnoman Republic."
She saw the confusion on Captain Jacks face, so she stopped pacing, and held each one in front of him. "Dwarves don't mint their coins, they hand-craft them. They are careful, perfect little works of art. This little silver coin is worth ten-times this gold coin."
She rolled them both in her hands, and with a quick motion vanished them both. "And you boys have been over-spending them all over town, including in my bar. I'd like to thank you for that. Lita's new, and she's going to have an amazing first night on the job. Its a good tip for your server."
Captain Jack alternated between shocked and angry, as though he couldn't decide which was the right choice. "The job paid big, so big you and yours didn't realize how well it paid. And it was obviously more valuable to your client than it was to you."
There was a lot more force in her voice this time. "Tell me what your last job was."
Captain Jack blurted it out. "Mercs. We were taking mercs from the Barony." It was simple thing, though there seemed to be a look of shame on him.
Trixie didn't really care for mercenaries, and those from the Barony were exceptionally brutish. Unsophisticated thugs, often causing more trouble than they solved. Must be something political going on with the Dwarves, she'd have to figure out that part later.
Didn't all add up, though. "Can't be all of it. Passengers aren't worth that much, even if you do manage to keep it secret."
Captain Jack couldn't look at either of them. "Mercs ain't sailors. They get too rowdy on ship after a while. Unless they have...something to entertain them."
It all came together in Trixie's mind. The most desperate prostitute would avoid taking the coin of a Barony Mercenary. Finding enough women & boys to keep even a small unit of them occupied for that long a voyage would be impossible, assuming they needed them to be willing.
Trafficking people was the line that broke Trixie's Rules.
She started pacing again. "OK. That makes more sense. And there's probably someone back at the Barony waiting for a good amount of the coin you boys didn't spend. I don't want to know which one, probably one of my 'friends' is behind it all."
The Captain looked up, the surprise obvious on his face.
"Oh, you didn't recognize me by name. I'm Trixie, and Ridgeport is my port. I handle most work that passes through here, and I broker a lot of deals outside of it. Most of the big players know to deal with me. Lord Capone, Lord Hoffa, Mister Montana...even the Baron from time to time."
She gestured casually as she paced, deliberately avoiding a look at him. She didn't want to give away her disgust.
"Its a long list. The point is, the big players know they have to deal with me, and that they need to stay on my good side. In return, I broker a lot of deals, I provide the right goods or the right services at the right place at the right time. I deal with everybody, and they all deal with me. I deal with everyone because I know how to make a deal, and I always come out ahead. And they make the deals, and they stick to the deals. They stick to them, because they know if they stick to the deals they come out ahead, and if they don't stick to the deals they don't come out ahead."
She was talking faster, and the anger was doing some of the talking. She fought to rein it in.
"But, even when they don't stick to the deal, I'm never worried, because I still come out ahead. Friends in high and low places. That's why everyone makes deals with me. Human, Dwarf, Gnome, Northman..."
She paused for dramatic effect, mumbling something arcane. Then she turned to look at the Captain. "...Devil."
Emerging from the shadows behind her, a shape the size of a Minotaur. The horns were more sinister, more wicked, and the slight stench of burnt sulfur wafted through the air. Leathery wings curled around Trixie and Benny, and there were red eyes glowing in the shadows.
"Point is, if someone offers me a deal, or I offer someone a deal, and we agree to it, it always works best for all parties involved keep their word. I'd like to offer you a deal, Captain Jack."
"Here's what's going to happen. You going to go back out there, and send your crew back to your ship. You are going to have them set sail for the Barony right now, with whatever supplies they have on board, and finish the job with whomever you were working for. I take deals very seriously, so your crew are going to complete it."
"You also are going to tell them they won't do another job like this. Stick to produce. Its decent, honorable work that pays fair, they can make a good living doing it. But they aren't going to ever come back to my port."
"You," she said with a smile, "You are going to go to see them off, and then you are going to go to the Guard Office, find a guy name Svend. He's the Captain. Much better person than I am. He'll take care of you."
"You are going to tell him Trixie says hello, and then you are going to tell him everything you did, especially all the details you aren't going to share with me, because I know enough and don't want to know more."
"And here's the important thing, and you should do your very best to make sure your crew understands this part as well. You are going to do all of this simply because I asked you to."
There was a look of disbelief on his face. She was sure he was thinking of ways he could get out of this.
"Now, for my part of the deal that I'm proposing, I'm going to do my very best to make sure nothing happens to you or your crew. But most specifically you," she said while nodding her head back, towards the Pit Lord, "because I have deals with things that would cause you terrible, terrible harm. In ways I don't want to know either."
She put out her hand, like a proper Lady. "A deal with Trixie is always the best deal you will get. I'd suggest you take it."
He took her hand. She winked, and with a gesture she returned the Devil back to its realm. "Remember to tell Svend that I said hello."
She released his hand, and walked past the Captain towards the door. "Benny, the stew is great tonight. Send a bowl out for me with Norm, next time he comes back."
[This needs to be cleaned up, too much of a rough draft]
Last edited by Adamantrue; 2021-08-10 at 05:20 PM.