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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Fantasy · #2203168
A dragonborn mercenary goes to see his recruiter about a job offer that came up.
(Note: This scene is part of my daily writing practice.)

Rivaan strode into the Dirty Tankard Tavern, his warhammer secured to his back. He barely glanced as the barkeep waved to him. “Hail, Rivaan. What will you be drinking today?”

“Nothing now. I’m on business.”

“Ah yes, I should have known, Forcas has had a few visitors already this morning. He’s set up in his usual spot.” The barkeep picked up his dishcloth and resumed washing the array of mugs and glasses in front of him.

“Thanks,” Rivaan nodded, always pleased to see that the name of this establishment didn’t actually indicate the quality of service. He headed for the back room. There in one corner, a tiefling man sat shuffling through papers. As the dragonborn’s shadow fell across his field of vision, he looked up. “Good. The city messenger found you, I take it?”

“Yes, and this one seemed to have more courage than most. He barely flinched when I opened the door to greet him.”

“I suppose I should remember to forewarn them of who they are carrying my messages to. It could save you some trouble.”

“Yeah, I’d appreciate it. I hate when I have to chase after the flighty ones. Which doesn’t do much to allay their fears. Anyway, you have a job for me?”

“Indeed. In fact, you were requested by name. It seems that our friend, Turi, is rather fond of you.”

“You mean he’s fond of the fact that most people he deals with are afraid of me,” Rivaan groused. He hated working with the human. Most of the jobs he asked for Rivaan’s assistance with were ethically hazy at best.

“Yes, I know,” Forcas placated. “Look on the bright side.If people are afraid of you, it may discourage them from engaging in a physical confrontation, preventing you from actually having to hurt or kill anyone while working with him.”

“I suppose. I don’t like being the menacing threat, either.”

“Well, that’s what Turi wants right now. And he’s willing to throw in some extra coin to get it. I can give it to someone else and Tursi will pay less. It’s your call.” The tiefling put down his papers, rested his elbows on the table, and steepled his fingers as he waited for Rivaan to reply.

“Let me guess, though. It’s the only job you have for me. So I take it or I go without pay for even longer.”

“I’ve already given out the handful of assignments to other associates. I saved this one for you because you were requested by name. And because giving it to you meant higher pay, which means a bigger commission for me. I am a businessman after all.”

Rivaan cursed in his people’s language. “Fine. I need the work if I’m going to pay off my landlord’s rent. Rent which is hiked up because of my race, I might add.”

“Every blessing is also a curse. You just have to learn to make the best of it,” Forcas said, disinterest dripping from his tongue. “It’s a pretty simple job though. He wants you and a small crew of his own men to intercept a caravan and retrieve a particular piece of cargo.

“Who does the caravan belong to?”

“He didn’t say.”

“Bullshit. We both know you would never let him withhold that information when it might give you leverage to negotiate a higher payout. As you said, you’re a businessman.”

“Fine. It’s one of the minor courier caravans.” The tiefling shuffled through his papers until he finds the right one.He skimmed it. “Packages and Love Letters. That’s run by Kithri Swiftwhistle. The caravan is likely to have one or two trained guards and a half dozen untrained men wearing weapons and armor mostly for show. Not much opportunity for price negotiation there.”

“Turi is probably hoping the untrained fake guards will run the first time I scowl.”

“Which again, means less fighting, maiming, and killing for you.Though I thought your kind were proud warriors.”

“When we fight for something we consider noble, sure. This isn’t sounding very noble though.”

“It’s still not too late for me tor replace you.” The irritation in Forcas’s voice was palpable.

“No, I’m committed. What exactly will we be looking for?”

“Not sure. Though it’s headed for the wizard Alkeides here in Baldur’s Gate.”

“Why would a wizard ship something via such a cheap and poorly protected way?”

“That’s a good question. In fact, I wish I would’ve thought of it. I could have argued with Turi that the wizard might have his own men hidden in the caravan, which could make the work more dangerous.”

“Too late to scratch out a little more pay. Maybe you should start hiring me to help with contract negotiation.”

“When I need hired muscle to help negotiate jobs, I’ll retire,” Forcas snapped. Rivaan shrugged, silently gloating over touching a nerve. “Anyway, that wizard has a pretty shady reputation. So look on the bright side. Maybe you’ll be stopping him from getting an artifact that would enable him to unleash some eldritch horror into the world.”

“Maybe. Or maybe it’s just cookies from his mother.”

“Doubtful. Alkeides himself is in his eighties. Or so the rumors go. Surely his parents are dead.”

“Anyway. So the caravan is headed here. Where’s it coming from?”

The tiefling scanned the paper again. “Fort Morninglord. That’s why you’re supposed to leave today. So you can catch them before they get too close to the city. One more thing might make you happy. Turi has made it clear that he doesn’t care what happens to the rest of the caravan. Once you have that package, you can let them continue their journey if you like. Assuming you can get the other men Turi sends to agree with that, of course.”

“That shouldn’t be too difficult. Turi’s men are incompetent oafs themselves. They’ll go along with me for their own...comfort.”

“Which is why he keeps hiring you and the others I work with. But I have to say, I’m impressed. It’s almost like Turi knew you don’t like working with him and was looking way to sweeten the deal for you by mentioning that.”

“Yeah, it’s no wonder he knows how I feel about him. I threatened to tear off one of his arms last time I did a job for him.”

“You know, that could’ve hurt my business relationship with him. I oughta increase my commision for your jobs for that.”

“But you won’t.”

“You sound pretty confident about that.”

“Let’s be honest. As much as I need the work you provide me, you need my skills and...stunning personality to bring you more business. I bet you get more requests for me by name than all your other mercenaries put together. And I’m pretty sure most of them come with that ‘extra bonus pay’ if I accept and don’t force you to give the job to someone else.”

“I wish you were less savvy, like some of the others,” the tiefling lamented. “It’d make you easier to control.”

“That’s the problem. You’re always trying to control me. Anyway, I think I know what I need to. Am I meeting Turi in person or meeting the rest of the crew outside the city?”
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