After this, the group decides to head back to town. As usual, they stop at Mosswater Gate, to have their items inspected. The lead Hellknight at the gate, Maralictor Kiera Wirt, goes through their gear and sees that they have several magical items. She says as much and Iocob replies, “We didn’t know it was magical.” She looks at Iocob and says, “Come on guys. I know better.”
As she is unable to estimate the value of magical items, she sends another Hellknight off to retrieve their appraiser while she is checking the other items. While doing this, she sees that they also have a magical ring and a couple potions.
Iocob: “Man… really?”
Kiera: “I’m sorry guys.”
Losk: “You know what?” And he takes the potions and breaks them in front of her. “Now there are no vials of liquid.”
Kiera gives Losk a stony glare, but as he does and says nothing further, she does and says nothing further. Though she is not pleased with Losk’s attitude, as at any other gate they would have been arrested for that.
They leave the gate and go sell the loot that they don’t wish to keep. Azure asks to keep the horn, that was identified as a Horn of Fog, so she gets that. After they have done their shopping, the group figures out how much they will have to pay in taxes and realizes that, aside from keeping the horn, they are only keeping barely over 100 gold. So they decide that they are going to talk to the Lady Commander to renegotiate their taxes. They figure out what they are going to say and decide that Losk and Iocob will be the only two going to discuss this with her.
Iocob: “Do we talk to you about the taxes?”
Karn: “What do you mean ‘about the taxes’?”
Losk: “We would like to work out a deal.”
Iocob: " We’re in a situation where our trips to the Emerald Spire have become almost reverse profitable for us. We’re pulling in a negative because we can’t keep what we need to progress further. So do we need to talk to the Lady Commander or do we need to talk to you?"
Karn, somewhat uncomfortable with discussing a person’s request to pay less taxes: “Uh, yeah. That would be something for the Lady Commander.”
Karn: " You need to go down the hallway and see Erron Nythist. He’s the chamberlain. He handles all her appointments."
Losk: “Ok. Well we’ll go see him. Should we pay this giant bag of gold we have?”
Karn: “If you aren’t leaving town and you want to wait until after you talk to her, that’s fine.”
Losk picks up the bag of gold, slinging it over his shoulder with what appears to be great effort, though somewhat exaggerated.
They go down to the chamberlain’s office and re-explain their situation.
Erron: “Ok.” He opens a book. “It’s gonna take a couple of days for me to fit you in. Day after tomorrow at 11?”
Losk: “Yes sir, Mr. Nythist. Day after tomorrow at 11.”
Iocob: “Sounds good.”
They both leave and meet back up with the group. There is a short discussion about where they are going to stay the next couple of nights. Azure, Uzure and Theodule opt to stay in the dilapidated house that they are working on purchasing. Losk and Iocob go to an inn.
When they walk in, Azure and Theodule see movement out of the corner of their eye. They turn and look, but can’t tell what it was that they saw. They see whatever it was head downstairs, and think that it may be a medium humanoid, but even that they aren’t sure of.
Azure: “Well we have squatters in our house. We should probably go inform them that this house is now purchased and maybe make a deal with them to stay around if we pay them and they can like, help fix up the house and stuff. Instead of just trying to kick them out. I think that’s a good idea. But first we gotta go talk to them.”
Azure looks at the stairs down to see if any of them look like they have been used more, but can’t see that any of them have. She carefully makes her way down the creaky and shifty stairs, with Uzure and Theodule following behind.
Theodule: “Hey! We can try to sneak.”
Azure: “No, we’re not sneaking. We want them to know we’re coming. We’re not trying to scare them.” Then Azure starts speaking to whatever they saw, though she cannot see them. “I hate to inform you, but this house has been bought and is no longer vacant. If you still need a place to live though, you can come talk to us and maybe we can make you a deal, as we need a caretaker.”
There is no response.
Azure: “We mean you no harm, but here soon, we’re going to have people come in here to rebuild the place. And if they did not know you were here, which we will not tell them unless you show your presence, then it could scare them and they might attack out of fear. I would rather this not happen. I think we can find a better way to deal with this situation.”
Uzure and Theodule are looking around the room as Azure is saying this, but they still don’t see anyone and there is no response.
Theodule: “There’s no one down here.”
Uzure: “I am not going to stay in this house if somebody ran down here and we can’t find them.”
They all search the floor for tracks in the dust and dirt and even search the walls for secret doors. They are taking their time and going over every inch of it, as Uzure is afraid that his sister will be attacked if he doesn’t, and they find a hidden door in the sewer access room, where all the piping from the house runs to the sewers.
Uzure: "Well, do you want to run to the hotel and get the others? Our do you just want us to handle this ourselves?
Theodule: “Uh, probably want to go get the others but I can stay here.”
Uzure: “You wanna stay here?”
Theodule: “Yeah. Or one of you…”
Azure: “You probably shouldn’t stay here. You’re a little bit… you’re a devil.”
Theodule: “Yeah, I also probably don’t need to be running through town either.”
Azure: “They’re used to you in town.”
Theodule: “Not really.”
Uzure: “Alright, I’ll go get the others.”
Theodule hides in the shadows of the dark laundry room.
Azure sits on the bottom of the steps and continues to try to coax them out while Uzure runs to get Losk and Iocob at the inn.
From beyond the wall, Azure hears in a whispery voice with a shifting tone. “What do you propose?”
Azure: “Well, sadly enough, although I do not care so much the people in this town do. So… what race of person am I speaking to? Cause that will change the deal.”
There is no response.
Azure: “If you are a type of people that need to hide from anyone else in this town then we won’t be able to send you out on errands. That’s why I ask. Thus, your job would be different. You couldn’t be a normal housecarl.”
From beyond the wall. “We don’t make ourselves known.”
Azure: “We need someone to take care of this place while we’re gone. And it could be very lucrative for that person.”
From beyond the wall: “Again, what do you propose?”
Azure: “They would have to guard the house. Keep it safe. And not draw more interest to the house than normally would be.”
From beyond the wall: “We haven’t so far.”
Azure: “Well, pretty much this would be a legitimate job. This would be a stop to all illegal business, if you do any. Not that I care, but it would draw attention to this place. But the legal business that you would get instead would probably be way more lucrative than anything you’re doing now.”
From beyond the wall: “We will consider it.”
Azure: “We plan to stay here tonight, as this is our house. You may come and talk to us if you wish, but otherwise, do not disturb us. The Hellknights of this town can be a very vicious people. To have a legitimate job like this would be very helpful in staying alive without drawing attention. And even though you’ve been good at not being seen so far, we did see you guys as soon as we came in this house. So you won’t be able to hide yourselves from everybody. And it’s better to show yourselves to us and make a deal with us, so that we can protect you, than accidentally be seen by them and face dire consequences.”
While that conversation is happening, Uzure gets to the inn and goes to Iocob’s room.
Uzure: “There’s something in our house. Some peoples. We found a secret door in the basement. We didn’t want to proceed without you guys.”
Iocob: “Uh, will you help me don armor?” Iocob also knocks on the wall, since Losk’s room is next door, and says: “Hey!”
Losk comes over: “What’s up? Ugh.”
Iocob: “There’s a tunnel underneath our house.”
Iocob: “I know right.”
Losk grabs his gear and they go. When they arrive Azure says, “I talked to them and they are considering to take care of the house, stopping any illegitimate businesses they may have and I’m just gonna let them be.”
Iocob: “Who is it?”
Azure: “They didn’t show themselves. I don’t believe they are human, as they sound non-human.”
Uzure: “But there’s a secret door down there.”
Azure: “Are you gonna barge in on them? You don’t have to stay here tonight but I still am.”
Uzure: “Well then I have to stay here tonight and I’ll be awake the whole damn night.”
Azure: “That’s your choice.”
Losk: “So you brought me over here for nothin?”
Uzure: “Well, you know, I didn’t know she was gonna keep talkin.”
Azure: “We didn’t know they were gonna talk. They hadn’t up to this point.”
Theodule: “They could’ve came out and attacked.”
Nothing further is said on the subject so they head back to the ground floor. There, it is easily seen that others have been living there. Now that they have time to look, there are bedrolls and lots of cloths, some weapons, etc. Azure moves all of this stuff downstairs by the door and goes back upstairs. The rest of the night is uneventful, though the stuff left by the secret door is gone when they wake up.
The next day, Azure goes to speak to Zoldor about fixing up the house. Zoldor tells her that it is going to cost 1,700 gold to fix up the house. Azure says, “Ok.” And she leaves, going back to the inn to tell Losk and Iocob how much it’s going to be to fix the house. After she leaves there, she goes to the gate market and buys some flowers to put in the house windows. She grabs what she wants, hands the woman running the stall 2 gold, and starts to walk off. The woman, Ilyana Stonde, calls out to her. “Wait! That’s too much.” And she hands Azure 1 gold back.
Azure: “Oh. I didn’t know. I’ll make sure to come to you for all my flowery needs.”
There isn’t anything else that the group really does that day, though Uzure does buy fresh produce for them to eat, and they leave some by the secret door as well. But the next day, they have an appointment with the Lady Commander. Losk and Iocob arrive at the Citadel by 11 and are escorted to her office. She motions for them to take a seat, which they do.
Losk: "On our last adventure into the dungeon, in search for the “Crowned Skull”, we brought back goods totaling in excess of 3,400 gold. And our tax liability on that gold and other items we found was 1,111 gold, bringing the total taxes that we paid in the 8 days we’ve been going into the dungeon to over 3,000 gold. We were thinking that perhaps we could work a better deal."
Iocob: “We provide more than enough economic boost to the city, where we’re trying to buy the house, of course it hinders us greatly that we have to pay a 30 percent tax rate. But we’ve already made slight improvements to the inside, I’m assured. We also are having problems as we traverse lower into the Spire with simply how powerful the creatures there are. Which becomes even more of a problem when we have to give up any enchanted items to the city because we can’t afford our tax levee. So, Lady Commander Drovust, we would like to renegotiate a special tax rate for us so we may be able to perform the contracts that you have given us and be prepared for any forth going activities. We had discussed lowering the rate to 15 percent.”
Losk: "Or in addition to that, or alternatively, we could… any items that we are going to be using, not pay tax on until such time as we sell them.
The Lady Commander sat and listened to their request without saying a word. Several times there were openings for her to speak, but she was thinking, so they continued, out of nervousness she assumed. She continues to stay silent for several long moments, thinking and watching them.
She finally speaks, slowly and deliberately: “First, for clarity, was your request to lower to 15 percent or to keep items that you haven’t sold or both?”
Iocob: “15 percent.” Pause. “I think we’re in agreement that keeping the items that we need will be better, without paying taxes on them. But in the long run we would like to look at the opportunity to have both.”
Losk: “But if we have to choose, keeping the items.”
Again there is a long pause. So one said 15 percent and one said keeping the items. Sure, that clarifies things. She spends some time thinking.
Drovust: “Ok.” Pause. “I’m willing to lower to 15 percent.” Pause. “And let you keep items you’re using.” Pause. “However, there may sometimes be… jobs that either Hellknights don’t have time to do or are not appropriate to complete.”
Drovust: “In this, no one is to know that you are doing these jobs for the Hellknights.”
Iocob: “That’s fine. Discretion is something that we can do.”
Drovust: “Then we’re in agreement.” She hands him a sealed envelope. “Take this to Karn when you go to pay your taxes.”
The deal is struck and they exit the office.