Who

Finn, Yansa, Malach, Yoshe + henchmen (NPC'd by Yansa)

What

The New Akzhan need smiths to mint their tokens. This hasn't worked out too well for the previous smiths in question. Malach asks Finn if he'd like to make it lucky number three.

Some profanity

When

It is evening of the tenth day of the sixth month of the second turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Igen caravan grounds, the New Akzhan house

OOC Date

 

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Igen caravan grounds

Deep grooves in the hard packed earth criss-cross a large patch of denuded ground, bearing mute testament to the caravans that frequent this area. Despite the midden holes set back a ways from the main center of traffic, the air is sweet, redolent with the sagebrush that forms a loose perimeter around the flattened expanse. In what is as close to its center as the vague boundaries suggest, a stone ringed fire pit has been dug and surrounded with the odd log or two, ash overflowing from its darkly blackened core.


Hot, hot, hot: the heat has been suffocating Igen all day and now that the sun has fallen behind the mountains it’s no different. A smouldering darkness has fallen over the Weyr, with biting insects finding their way in through windows left wide open to cool the stuffy rooms where tired Igenites try to sleep. Someone is not sleeping though: Yoshe, one of the Old Akzhan sons, is rapping on the door to Finn’s wagon with his knuckles. It’s not entirely out of the ordinary: the two are close in age and know each other from the Band. “Finn? Finn, it’s Yoshe.” He’s dressed like he’s ready to hit the Cantina for a late drink, and any still-up Reika are given a grin and a nod. Nothing out of the ordinary here, just one young man trying to get another one to go out drinking. No consideration is given apparently for whoever else might be in the wagon. It’s all well within Yoshe’s reputation for this to happen, which is of course exactly why he’s been told to do it.

One thing Finn has learned in his two decades of life… people so, so seldom simply look up. Finn has taken to sleeping on TOP of his wagon in the hot summer nights. Under, too many bugs and crawling things. Inside, too stifling. ON… well, he can watch the stars and keep company with his little gold who's claimed the rooftop as HER domain to which he is granted access by dint of the tasty snacks offered. Though the metal-clad shingles of the roof were hot until well after nightfall, they shed their heat quickly enough once the sun had gone and so it is that Finn has, as his bed, a thin blanket and a purloined bolster pillow. When Yoshe's call comes, Finn creeeeps to the edge of his roof, Trill muttering a sleepy warble in his ear as he the young smith peeks over the edge, eyes lit with mischief. Reaching back carefully, quietly, Finn gropes for the bolster pillow and… "'Stones Away!" WHOOSH, takes a swing at Yoshe, hopefully just as the Akzhan carouser looks up. "Whoops. Dropped my pillow." ‘Dropped.’ At your face. Mad grinning, "Mind handing that back up?"

Yoshe's "oi!" is stifled by a faceful of pillow, and if he were any less sure of his footing he would have been knocked down the steps. As it is the pillow is grabbed with a grin. Finn's getting it back all right - but not without an attempt at hitting him in the face first. Whether his revenge is successful or no Yoshe heads up after the pillow, gripping the edge of the roof and pulling himself up to brace his arms against the wood, legs dangling down. It's a pity there aren't any women around to see that beautiful pull up: Yoshe's always fond of giving the ladies an eyeful of his physical prowess. After a quick check to make sure Onari isn't here to witness his posturing - a man can dream - Yoshe grins at Finn. "You little fucker. I'm gonna get you back for that. But first you're coming for a drink." He's still smiling, but there's an unusual seriousness in his eyes for a jovial young man.

The little gold firelizard squawps in surprise and vanishes with a pop as Yoshe's return fire lands, well-placed and expected. "Mffff," is Finn's astute rejoinder. That preening and posturing is noted. As is that hooded glance towards Onari's wagon. Protective of his sister and wise to Yoshe's ways, is young Finn. It may be 'bros before hos' for some folks, but it's 'blood before bud' with the Reika smith. BRAIN OFF. HANDS WAY OFF, and… "Eyes forward, boyo," bolster pillow leveled. The Reika checks the moonsrise, fingers against the horizon measuring the candlemarks. He's got an early call, but it's not like he can sleep all that well in the heat. He rolls off the rooftop and lands in a crouch, blanket flaring and pooling like a cape. DRAMATIC. Finn stands, be-blanket-wrapped. MYSTERIOUS. Spoiled by craning his head up, "Crap. Snag that pillow, eh?" He stows the linens and locks the wagon back up before he hops down the steps, dust whirling away in fascinating (to Finn) puffs. He looks up to catch the unusual serious cast to Yoshe's, "Where'd you wanna go?" Hip flask tossed to Yoshe. Think fast.

Yoshe grabs the pillow as instructed before dropping down, waiting for Finn to get everything tucked away neatly. His eyes shift across to Onari's wagon again before darting back to Finn with a grin, hipflask caught. "My intentions towards your sister are entirely honourable, mate. You tell your da that when he's looking for a husband for her I'm here — good family, money enough, can go all night…" A big grin and Yoshe ducks, perhaps not successfully, the payback that he assumes that merits. The idea isn't pushed though: he does like Onari, but who doesn't? Half the young — and old — men in the Bazaar fancy her for a wife. As to where there's a nod towards the bazaar proper, a direct line towards the Cantina through one of the darkest parts of the Bowl. "Let's go." There are people already down that way, two tall men directing a large cart pulled by a grumpy herdbeast. Nothing of note, right? Riiiight.

Finn squints sidelong at Yoshe. Honorable. Oh, wait. Yoshe is OLD Akzhan… honourable. His over-hard backclap follows that ducking dodge, a forge-strong arm going around Yoshe's shoulders, just an armsling, right? "You'd be a fine brother-in-law, Yoshe." A little tight for an armsling… released and Finn eases around. They're cool. Mmmhmm. Finn cocks his head. "This is a nice jacket, Yoshe." Collar plucked. A bit of fuzz picked from the breast pocket. Such interesting lapels. Both of them. In Finn's balled fists. Lemme see those closer. "If you do it. Do it right." Finn's the serious one now. No happy, fun Finn where his sister is concerned. As Jhael may learn if he continues sniffing around her skirts. He lets Yoshe down, smoothing the lapels. "I think this round's on me." After last time.

Yoshe pushes Finn off, but not until the other man is moving anyway, and his touch isn't rough. They're mates after all - that and you don't get between a good man and his sister. It's only natural to be protective. "Faranth's tits, you're going to turn into Yeshan." His older brother's name is said with wary respect. The older Akzhan boy once made another man swallow four teeth after an ill-advised comment about what he'd do to Yansa given the opportunity. There's no bitterness in Yoshe though: it's the right thing for Finn to do. Instead he falls into step again, a serious look back on his face. "I would, you know. Marry her. She's a good girl, Finn. I'd take care of her." He clearly means it; for all his jest he knows the difference between a girl you take to bed and a girl you marry. He's always had a soft spot for Onari, following her around like a puppy. That thought though passes instantly as they come even with the cart, a dilapidated mess of timber with a canvas drawn over the back. The two men who draw it look over, faces worn from too many fights, bodies great hulking masses of muscle. Yoshe is suddenly leaning close, face half lost in the darkness, his voice quick and urgent. "Finn. You need to get in the cart and under the canvas. Trust me." A nervous look at the bulky men. "Anderjan and Hok would rather just throw you in. I said it wasn't necessary."

Finn falls in step beside Yoshe eying the man sidelong, a tight, toothsome grin flashing in the moonslight, hand over his breast, "You flatter me." He walks along in silence after Yoshe's admission. "She's the best girl, Yoshe." Sorry, Onari, not a woman yet. He considers Yoshe, "Not that I have a lick of say in the matter, but… you'd do." He hadn't been joking about that brother-in-law business, though he wasn't thinking of an Akzhan marrying his sister. Yansa is stunning. Not that Finn's of a mind to marry. And he'd never voice anything like that about a married woman. "That is a nice jacket." Finn reaches over to fiddle with metal buttons. METAL. BUTTONS. The expense. He shakes his head, eyebrows going up and… staying up when Yoshe says what he says. He looks at the slab-muscled men. And back to Yoshe with a look of obvious confusion. "What?"

Yoshe looks forward, measuring the time until they’re in the next pool of light: a bundle of severely ineffective glows some upstanding citizen has affixed to the corner of a building at the edge of the bazaar, apparently in a desire to make the streets somewhat safer at night. It’s a valiant effort but about as much use as trying to hold back a rabid canine with a toothpick. “You’ve got about a minute to decide, ‘cause when we’re in that light and someone might see you it’s too late. My brother-in-law wants to talk.” Now there’s a thing: Malach knows the Reika, but he’s never shown much beyond his usual cold civility before — except for at his marriage party, and how a man behaves after downing enough beer to kill a herdbeast isn’t exactly representative.

“It’s not a request kid,” grunts one of the men, reaching out to throw back the canvas and reveal a bed of hay. “Get in.”

There are few things that bring out the normally amiable Yoshe’s sense of rank, but one of his brother-in-law’s henchmen speaking like that to the second son of a caravan — no matter how new — is one of them. “It is a fucking choice,” he spits back, shoulders suddenly tense as he bristles all over.

“The boss said —”

“Are you the boss? Are you the fucking boss, Hok?” This is seriously eating into Finn’s decision-making time, but luckily Hok relents at that, holding up a ham-sized fist in submission. “I didn’t think so,” Yoshe snarls. No more time to waste though: he grabs the edge of the cart and vaults in, reaching a hand down for the other young man. “Malach wants to make you an offer. It’s not safe if people know it’s you he’s talking to. Just come in the cart, have a chat. You don’t have to accept anything. Just hear him out.” Intense green eyes stay fixed on Finn, unwavering. “No one’s harming a hair on your head, Finn. I swear on my mother’s life.”

"Too late?" Finn's not processing too swiftly, this strange situation catching him off guard. He blinks, brow furrowed, peering into the hay, "Malach's in…" wha? The unvoiced question curves his lips. Ham-fisted and slab-muscled or not, Finn squares up at the threatening tone from the one Yoshe called Hok. "Not safe…?" This doesn't sound good. If Yoshe hadn't himself hopped in, Finn wouldn't have gone along with this. Safety in numbers? He grabs onto Yoshe's hand. "You better hope so. I come home with so much as a hangnail and Onari will feed you your balls." Not that Onari or anyone else knows the least of where Finn's headed… he hadn't checked in with anyone before leaving. Everything'll be FINE.

Finn couldn't be in safer hands: Yoshe was raised to honour a promise above everything. At this point he’s bound to keep Finn safe from harm – which is reassuring so long as the harm that might come to Finn is in any way preventable by Yoshe. No time for worrying about that though as Yoshe pulls Finn down into the bed of the cart, the canvas thrown over them by Hok. For a while there's only the creaking of the wood around them and the sweet smell of fresh hay. It's too dark to see Yoshe's face, but for once he's somber and withdrawn. Not a word is exchanged between the young men as they go, though Hok and Anderjan's voices are just audible. Too bad they're only discussing the current Pit rankings and who's got money on what.


New Akzhan House

What is the point of having money if people don't know you have it? The New Akzhan house is a monument to conspicuous consumption. The modest merchants' homes of ten turns ago have been replaced with what might just be the largest single residence in the bazaar, an elegant many-storied house that encircles a private courtyard. The entrances are guarded by stony-faced retainers with large chained canines, the hoi polloi kept firmly away. Those invited inside are ushered into a vision of riches, room after room decorated in the finest wares that Pern can provide. Towards the rear of the house the servants' quarters act as the beating heart of the house, loud with the noises of cooking and hot with the steam of laundry; the rest of the house is quiet as the grave, the very air muffled with the oppressive weight of well- and ill-gotten gains.


akzhanhouse

A pause, the sound of gates opening, movement again and the gates shutting behind them. Yoshe doesn't wait for confirmation that this is the New Akzhan's central courtyard before he stands up, throwing away the canvas to take a deep gulp of fresh bazaar air. The courtyard is empty, either because it's late or because the usual gaggle of drudges have been ordered away. Yoshe jumps down, gesturing Finn after him, raising one finger to his lips if Finn tries to talk. Leaving Hok and Anderjan outside Yoshe leads Finn into the trade entrance of the great house, past the kitchen and the laundry room, into the main hallway. The place drips with money as thick as the tapestries on the walls.

“Sorry,” Yoshe murmurs, giving Finn a rueful smile and a grip on the arm. “You'll understand. We can't risk –” and then his face brightens, Finn unhanded so Yoshe can spread his arms wide. “Yansa!”

Yoshe might be going for a hug but Yansa is caught off-footed, apparently surprised to find two creeping young men in her hallway. Her hand stays on the door behind her, eyes wide with shock. Below the neck she's dressed as formally as ever but her hair is uncovered, falling to her waist in curls and braids. On an Oldtimer it would be unremarkable, but Yansa hasn't been outside without a headscarf since she reached puberty. It's natural enough for an Akzhan wife to go unveiled at home with her husband or sharing an evening meal with family and trusted friends, but is Finn that? Would Malach think Finn is that? Not that Yansa can think much anyway because she's too busy instantly blushing, dropping her eyes to the floor and giving a polite curtsy, the depth of which is perfectly calibrated to Finn's precise place in the world. Her mother taught her well. “Finn, welcome.”

Yoshe apparently doesn't care for Finn's greeting: he picks his baby sister up to give her a twirl, pressing a kiss to her cheek. Yansa doesn't mind since it means she can hide her face against Yoshe's shoulder, desperately willing her cheeks to stop burning. Four turns older than her, a friend of her brothers, with a smile that makes all the girls melt: Finn is in the perfect window for a sheltered teenage girl to crush over, husband or no.

“Finn,” Yoshe says as he deposits his sister with a last twirl, “you remember Yansa from the wedding.” Though truthfully he’s not entirely sure Finn was there; Yoshe has at best fleeting memories of the entire sevenday around his sister’s marriage.

"I love this smell," Finn is grinning in the dusty darkness, despite the fact that Yoshe can't see him. HATCHOOOO! Finn: Master of Sureptitiousness. HATCHOO! HAAAATCHOO! Eyes watering, Finn eventually buries his face in the crook of his elbow, smothering further sneezes. "Agh," wheezing, "S'why I took up smithing." It is a be-hay-festooned and red-eyed Finn that tumbles out of the wagon. He whistles low, soundlessly, looking around the Malach's compound as hands absentmindedly pat his clothes. Itchy. He opens his mouth to ask Yoshe abo- The Shush Finger. If the courtyard was impressive, the house itself is… The Shush Finger is unnecessary. Finn is speechless, mouth hanging open. Can't risk…? Yansa. Thoughts and questions fly right outta Finn's head (a feeble cage on a good day) at coming upon Yansa unawares. Yoshe's greeting to his sister has the smith grinning, his pale eyes alight. He nods, "Of course." Not that anyone actually really saw much of her, but the woman is stunning. "Good evening." He casts his mind back, trying to recall fancy greetings and bows, uncalibrated. A brother's greeting? A servant's? A lover's? Finn's got no idea. Uh. "You've," he looks around, "Uh, a lovely home." That rug costs as much as my wagon! Second-son of a Caravan or no… the wealth that surrounds folk in Igen… it's mindboggling. Even after two turns.

Yansa smiles as Finn at least pretends to remember her (it would be hard to forget a girl whose wedding outfit must have cost a lord holder's ransome.) “Thank you. I know that Malach likes Nabol weaves, so I tried —”

“Sweetheart, I don't think the men are actually interested in your decorating,” says a cool voice from behind Yoshe and Finn, the endearment as sharp as mountain water. How the shards does Malach do that? The man moves as silently as a wraith and Faranth knows where he's sprung from. His smile though is warmer than usual, at least for the men: Yoshe is given an Akzhan handshake, hands gripping each other's forearms, before Malach nods to Finn. No handshake yet apparently. The man gives a kiss to his wife's head for Yoshe's benefit rather than hers, nodding towards the stairs. “We're going to talk business. Nothing that you need to worry your pretty little head about.” He doesn’t need to say ‘you’re dismissed’ for it to be clear.

Thank Faranth Yansa has her blush more or less under control: her eyes drop to the floor like they're lead-weighted. “Of course. Goodnight Finn. Goodnight Yoshe.” And then she's gone, skirts artfully held up at the exact height that lets her climb the stairs while showing nothing of her ankles. At the top she turns for a moment, a wide-eyed glance for Finn as if she's about to say something – and then she's gone, leaving Malach to indicate the next door along. “Please, make yourself comfortable. Apologies for the unusual greeting, Finn. Did Hok and Anderjan treat you acceptably?”

The room Malach leads them to is the men's smoking room, and it's obvious that a woman has never been inside, much less decorated it. Various comfortable chairs dot the space, decanters line several surfaces, side tables are dotted with ashtrays and all of the furniture either belonged to someone else once or was bought with the profits of the Merry Marksman.

Finn straightens as Malach enters. He commands the room, that Akzhan. Comfortable here, ensconced in his home, surrounded by wealth and position. So she tried… WHAT!? What did she try?! Finn is about to ask, but Yansa's withdrawal is so complete and swift, the trader's is left blinking, mouth pursed in a query unvoiced as he watches her climb the stairs those pale eyes catching his momentarily. Hopefully all the men are watching her withdraw… otherwise Finn might be seen to be staring. Finn looks at the aforementioned rug, Nabolese, apparently. Hmmm. "Who?" Hok and Anderjan. "Oh." A beat, "What?" Quite the conversationalist. He scratches at his jaw retiring with the men into the cavernous smoking parlor. All the rooms are cavernous. He's paused in the door, hopefully no one's behind him trying to get in as he gawps. He gets moving again and finds himself drawn to some very fine metalwork, an embossed and engraved tray of silvery metal. Metal. A tray. Who makes trays out of metal? What a waste. "They were… Um." He looks at Yoshe and decides to skirt the strange matter of his arrival. The surreality is set aside and 'strange' accepted as the word of the day. "What's this about, Sir?" Finn's eyes narrow and he turns on a heel to look at Malach closely.

Malach doesn't seem to notice Finn's look after Yansa, which is for the best: he enjoys lording his young wife's beauty over other men as much as showing off any other very expensive purchase, but those who enjoy too much tend to lose their teeth. In the room Yoshe drapes himself in a sprawl over a high-backed armchair, Malach moving over to the decanters. Three glasses are selected, equal amounts of honey-gold whiskey poured into each. Yoshe is given one before Malach moves to hold one out for Finn, inclining his head towards the chairs. “Malach, please. We're all friends here. Take a seat.” Is that ominous? It's hard to say. Malach himself settles in the largest chair in the room, managing at once to sit neatly and with absolute dominance. Finn's cutting to the chase is appreciated; Malach didn't grow up with enough money to stand on formality. It's his wife who brings that, along with her breeding and ability to bear children. Putative ability. “Did you know Tarato and Nahesk?” Smiths both, and both dead in the last half turn.

My, what pretty teeth Finn has, too. The better to melt girls with, dear Malach. Wonder of wonders, folk like it when smiles mean something. A clandestine meeting in the seat of Malach's vast wealth. Over drinks. With the names of dead smiths shivering in the now-stuffy air. A sense of unease bewteen Finn's shoulderblades. Some instinct has him turn back towards the masculine 'decorations' scattered about, declining the offer to sit. After accepting the drink, of course, with a polite nod and thanks. "Not personally, no, sir." Unease with the situation has the normally amiable smith falling back on formality. Belatedly, "Malach." By his expression, clearly he knows that the aforementioned are dead. He makes a gesture of pouring, a gift for the dead.

Malach shakes his head, a genuine regret on his face — though not half as much of that emotion as anger. They just keep falling on their own knives in dark alleys or tripping down flights of stairs. Will these smiths never learn? "There are people in the bazaar who'll stop at nothing to get what they want." Present company excluded, of course. "Those people will pay for what they did."

"Their families are being looked after," Yoshe interjects, eyes fixed on Finn. "Those children won't want for anything." Except fathers, but Tarato and Nahesk knew what they signed up for. Well, at least Nahesk did. As Tarato came first perhaps he was less forewarned; his predecessor died in his sleep at a ripe old age.

Malach shifts, pulling something from his pocket before flicking it to Finn with a sharp gesture of his thumb. The runnerbit rotates quickly through the air. "Those men minted our bits. It's regular work, but nothing too time-consuming. We provide materials, space if you need it. And we pay very generously." Finn is given an intense look, free of condescension or guile. If Yoshe vouches for the boy, Malach trusts him. Family before anything. "There’s risk, of course, which is why you're here in secret. We’ve learnt from what happened. The fewer people who know you, the safer you are. We’re not losing another one of our people." ‘Our people’, now expanded to include Finn apparently. There are so few men they can trust.

Finn listens, eyes flicking back and forth between the two Akzhan, Old and New. Though Yoshe was clearly in his brother-in-law's pocket. No help there. "Those men. Those dead men." The tone makes it a sort of inquiry. Finn puts the tumbler down, buying time with careful placement of the- whoa, uh. He totally didn't just spill. Nope. No one'd notice, right? "I can't say this is appealing." However much the pay. All the warning flags are flying. He scratches at an elbow. "I make a point of working above board." It's part of his trustworthiness. "And keeping good records." And not springing surprise leaks. Yoshe is tendered a tight-lipped look.

Yoshe certainly notices the spill, and despite the gravity of the situation he cracks a grin. He's always been a lighthearted boy. Malach thankfully seems not to notice, just nursing his own drink with the same intense look fixed on Finn. He likes wariness. Wariness implies that he might not have to lose another minter in the next quarter turn. “All of our business is above board,” he says, using the words lightly while somehow also conveying force. And yes, technically the Merry Marksman is a legitimate business – it's their enforcement methods that are shady as all get out. “You could tell the guards what you were doing and they would support it.” Though Malach would rather let someone murder his own brother and go free than get the authorities involved.

Yoshe leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees, looking up at Finn and speaking in a tone of quiet reassurance. “You can do it out in the open if you want. There's nothing shameful in it. We just don't want you getting hurt. We can give you a man to cover you, we can keep the tools away from you when you're not minting.” It's the tools after all that hold the value. “You want to do this, and you want to do it out in the open, then we'll support you in that. You don't want to do it and that's fine. Just please – sit down, have a drink. Relax. We don't bite.” Or at least they don't bite friends. Not unless friends bite first.

Glass set down, Finn examines the bit reflexively caught. He, or any smith worth a damn, could crank them out with one hand tied behind their backs. "Why the secrecy? If you keep the tools and the space to work these in, anyone could do this. Why would I be in danger?" He flips the token between thumb and forefinger, seeming to learn as much by the heft and feel of it as by looking at it.

Malach's expression hasn't overtly changed, but there's a growing respect in his eyes as he watches Finn with the bit. Young, yes, but Malach likes questions. A bit of initiative never hurt anyone. Yoshe is given a passing look of approval before Malach's eyes move on to Finn again. "Tarato kept the tools with him. We didn't expect that anyone would be willing to kill an innocent man to be able to counterfeit a bit. We assume that whoever Nahesk met on the stairs also thought he had possession of our tools." A frown. "Or that he could be pressured into making copies."

Finn nods, tonguing the inside of his cheek, eyes falling to the little bit of metal in his hands. The young smith's senses fan out. The sweet and acrid smell of old smoke sunken into fabric and wood, the rich scent of wood polish. Malach's precise posture and command, the assurance of his desires being met writ in every line. Yoshe's forward leaning regard, pressure urging Finn to accept. Thick tapestries dampening the quiet creaking of the house as wind howls around hollows outside. The gleam of low light across the turning surface of the disk in his hands, smooth, now warmed by the heat of his blood. Depending on what Malach had in mind, this connection could make the Reika. Finn looks up, eyes going straight to Malach's, "Make your offer." Finn keeps his feet, Yoshe's entreaty for him to sit down ignored. His mate's not the one with the say so here.

Malach smiles, revealing a hint of teeth. One of his canines is chipped from an old fight. “Very good.” He takes his time explaining his offer, pausing to sip at his whiskey as if he has all the time in the world. A probation period, the first mint paid at a reduced price. If both parties agree with the arrangement a more formal agreement with regular terms, a sum paid half in advance, half in receipt of each new consignment of bits. The numbers named are fair – which is to say extremely lucrative – though a youth as a merchant means that Malach always leaves some space for bargaining. “It's enough,” he says finally. “Enough to marry your sister to whoever she wants. Enough to make a substantial difference to your caravan.” That's the key to motivating people: knowing what they want.

Each shift in the currency will require a re-design of the bit. New dyes. New materials. Of all the pieces important to this venture, making the bits difficult to copy is the most key element. Finn's proclivity for invention makes this a fascinating challenge and it's on this that Finn leverages his worth. Onari's dowry is assured. But he works to make it so that if Kalfor ever took the notion to don a kirtle, his dowry would be well-established as well. YOU NEVER KNOW.

Arguing over price is the best thing that Finn could have done. Malach likes men that he can respect. Terms are bargained over, debated, and though Yoshe might have an older name than Finn he stays quiet and lets the other two men talk. Malach is the boss here, and Finn is his guest. Finally they arrive at a figure from which Malach won't budge, the iron revealed under the velvet. "Do we have an agreement?" He feels this is fair, both of them equally unhappy with the result. That's the sign of a good bartering. "It can be a secret or public as you wish. We can send a man with you if you'd like. Our guards are loyal."

Finn's position on negotiations is that they're not adversarial so much as finding the spot that best suits both parties. The meeting point: a sacred middle ground. Though, perhaps this is simply a matter of perspective. At some point this sacred middle ground had required that Finn take a seat. The young smith thinks hard a moment, pondering the outcomes and implications now that terms have been reached and sealing the deal is only a handshake away. He takes a breath. "I will give you my agreement now. I'll be running this by the Wagonmaster for final approval. Sums this large," and families this powerful, "I'm sure he'll want assurances." Finn coughs, scratching at his jaw and looking away, "Written assurances." As much as Finn's a trusting sort, he does know how things like this can go. "And he may just say 'no' given the fate of, uh…" Tarato and Nahesk. He's about to offer his hand to Malach when he offers Finn a guard. "Yoshe should suffice." The two had been in a fair amount of scrapes. What? No. Uh. I mean, nothing. No scrapes. There were no scrapes. Except a fe… what? Finn's light eyes flip from a satisfied look at Yoshe to a narrowed consideration of Malach. "Right?" Surely there wasn't anything Malach hadn't shared yet…

Half of Malach's mouth quirks into a smirk, the other remaining entirely still. “Of course. I wouldn't expect you to agree to anything without a written agreement.”

Yoshe meanwhile is grinning from ear to ear, leaning over to grip Finn's shoulder. “Fantastic. No one'll get through me.” And it might just be true – for all Yoshe is a cheerful young man he's more deft than you would expect with an arrow or a knife. He twists to look back at his brother-in-law, now-empty whiskey glass used to gesture expressively as he speaks. “You keep the tools here. I'll stay with Finn whenever he has them. Just make it known that Finn's always accompanied while he works. No way for the tools to be copied, no threat to Finn.”

Malach sets his own glass down with a little click, looking from one to the other. “If it suits.” He shifts forward in his seat, hand outstretched to Finn. “I'm sure it will be a pleasure doing business with you.” His hand waits outstretched.

"Done." The smith's strong, scarred hand reaches for Malach's, squeezing briefly as light eyes set home on darker, the impact of eyes meeting eyes with the force of wills behind the reverberant as flesh meets flesh to seal their shared intent. The smith springs to his feet to recover his tumbler and returns to the cluster of chairs, clearing his throat, a bright array of teeth flashing in the soft light, "To my health!"

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