Erima was sitting in a Bedraze tavern with Alvithis Mordvill. He was drinking hard beer while she had a mug of cider in front of her. The Fallen Foe was the sort of place that served greasy stew with bad bread if you wanted to eat and where drinking the alcohol was safer than drinking the water. Erima had looked hard at the first black fly that had ventured onto the tacky-feeling table top after they’d sat down and that had been the only fly they’d seen, while around them other patrons were constantly brushing the things away.
“Not what you’re used to, eh kid?” Mordvill the architect was trying to be unpleasant.
“Of course not,” Erima agreed. “They let me drink cider,” and she suited her actions to her words, “although I believe I could get these tabletops cleaner than they are right now. Of course, it all depends on how many hands they have and what else there is to do – there are only so many hours in the day after all.”
Abruptly Mordvill asked, “Why did you agree to come here, really?”
“You recommended a man to transport the supplies we need,” replied Erima. “My father had the same name in his list. I don’t see that I had much choice.”
“So while we’re waiting, what is it like having this voice in your head, telling you what to do?” Mordvill took a long mouthful from his mug.
Erima smiled. “It’s not like that, really. Hang on, isn’t that the one we’re here to meet coming in the door? In the striped vest and with silver buttons on his coat.”
“Aye,” agreed Mordvill, and he made a small gesture that the man in the doorway acknowledged. They watched as the new arrival bought a drink at the bar and made his way to their table. “Erima, this is Temus Porter. Temus, this is Erima whose father has commissioned me to design him a temple.”
“Congratulations,” offered Porter. “So what’s that got to do with me?”
“We need someone to transport construction materials and spoil for us,” Erima’s hands indicated paths crossing in opposite directions. “My father says he’s heard good things about you and Master Mordvill recommends you. It’s legal work for appropriate pay and probably good for your reputation-.”
“Sweetheart, it doesn’t sound like it pays enough for my tastes and I don’t need no help with my reputation.” Porter started downing his drink in preparation for leaving.
Erima replied quietly, “My Father said to tell you that Blackwater still thinks he counted wrong.”
Porter almost choked in mid swig, recovered, put his mug down on the table and took a long, hard look at Erima. “Skin and whiskers! Why don’t you glow in the light like those other Gods’ born?”
Erima smiled back at him over her mug before sipping and replying, “I get to meet much more interesting people this way?”
“Your old man,” Porter pointed a finger at her, “has me by the short and curlies, and he knows it. What am I moving for you?” He sighed.
“Stone. Lots of stone,” replied Mordvill. “We’re not sure what kind of stone yet, so we’re not sure of the destination or the distance either.”
“And I’m getting paid?” Porter sounded sceptical.
“I’m not sure how he got it,” admitted Erima, “but my Father does have coin, legal tender, that he has made available for me to pay people with.”
“Where do you think he got it from?” That came from Mordvill.
Erima drank a mouthful of cider and said, “If I had to hazard a guess, and it’s only a guess mind you, I’d have to say from playing cards with his brothers, my uncles.”
“Tears and glory,” said Porter, “I’m glad I’m not a theologian.”
This now has a partial sequel at Hiring Commences.