13. A Fishy Job
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“How’s Aerelieth been treating you, Mr. Kiri?” The middle-aged man on the far side of the table asked, his hands slowly swirled his wine glass. “I certainly hope that this beloved city of ours was enough to satisfy your….explorative sense.”


‘Great….he is that type of man, huh….’ Gargan internally thought, as he set the fine tableware down, and wiped his beak clean with a provided silky handkerchief. “I must say, Aerelieth is the most wonderful settlement I have ever visited. If my opinion is of any value, the craftsmanship is of highest order! I was planning to settle down here, after I finish my little youthful adventure of mine, actually, whenever that may be.”


“Hahahaha! I’m glad to hear that!” Keeping up with his act, the man laughs wildly, yet his manners still that of a high nobility. Gargan does not know for sure if this man is of the aristocratic root. “We, from the baker around the corner, to the courageous city guard, to our esteemed Lord and his wonderful son, and the Mordred’s Company too, have worked very hard to turn this city into one of the best in the Sky Archipelago. We may not be as grand, or as beautiful as Sky Harbor, but I am confident that no other cities can measure up to ours!”


“....I’ll take your work on that then, Sir Mordred.” Gargan faked a little laugh, yet it sounded more like a chirp. “Anyway, If you do not mind my manners, I heard that you have a job for me, Sir Mordred?”


“Oh, I am sorry.” He apologies, “I almost forgot about the reason I invited you over. Yes, I do have a job for you….One that pays rather well too, if you wish to take it.”


“I am interested….” Gargan led on, as he leaned over the table, his brown arched back.


“I am certain that you are very curious about this….hm….private job, correct?” Mordred asks, his free hand stylishly combing his long, mahogany hair back and behind his ears, running his finger through them. “We could submit a commission for the guild, sure…..They would be more than happy to find someone as capable as you for it. Sure, it would be a lot cheaper too. But was not the point, Mr. Kiri.”


“May I?” Gargan asked for permission, as he took the bundle of paperwork laid on the table. Mordred nodded, as he continued his speech.


“As an Otherworlder, you may not know of this, but a lifeline for a transportation company like ours is, well, the security and secrecy of our shipping….It would do no good if words about our largest best vessel went missing, would it now?”


“That….certainly is true. But,” Flipping through the pages, Gargan marbled at the sear engineering of the vessel, Fae of the Sk. The vessel was small, but everything from its propulsion system to its defenses are only second to military vessels.  “Doesn't the guild have a policy about that? I believe you could certainly request for it to be kept as a secret and choose someone directly through the guild instead?”


Mordred frowned, not sure what to make of what the birdman had said ....”You can’t be serious….No. We cannot do that. You may not know, but every piece of information that the guild obtained, can be brought. I am certain that you could even buy information about the Queen’s Palace portgate….Or Duke Grogar latest meal.”


“....” Gargan was speechless. He only thought that those rumors about the Dark Guild were just that, rumors! It seems like the Guild isn’t as….legal as it look.


“We certainly could pay the guild to keep them a secret, but there is no way our competitor would sit tight and let it pass.” Mordred aggressively said, his vein popped on his head. “It is the reputation of the largest transport fleet that we are talking about! I have already spent thousands of Gold Pieces to keep everything related to the ship underwrap for just a week!”


“I….see.” Gargan nodded, as he could understand why now that the Head, Mordred de Fae, wanted to hire him directly….To him, this wasn’t about profit, nor even to look for the most effective hire, but it was about faces. “Certainly….Having someone who could fly, good at cartography and map making, as well as a seasoned explorer would aid this recovery process….”


“I’m glad to see that you understand my situation!” He smiled, and sat back down, plopping a piece of grape into his mouth. “For your effort, we would reward you handsomely, the faster you find it. What do you think about my offer?”


“Very well….I like it, Sir Mordred. Certainly, this is well within my expertise, and your hope was not misplaced….” Gargan was glad that this job isn’t as dangerous as he thought it was….It doesn’t seem too shady. Yet. “But….how is the pay, I must ask?”


“A serious man, I can respect that” The man put away his wine, and took out a small notebook from a drawer nearby, and began flipping through it. “As of now, the base rate will be 100 Golds, and the faster you can find her, the higher that number will be. As the cargo she carried included packages for some of the most powerful men and women of the Empire, as well as some of the finest masterpieces of art, I hope that you can find it fast. Preferably within a week.”


‘100 Gold! That is enough for me to pay back the guild!’ That was an astonishing amount of money, Gargan thought, and finally realized how heavy the situation was for the Head. “Wonderful! I did not expect it to be that much, Sir Mordred! You can consider that the ship will be back in just a week!” He chirped, and delivered the promise.


“Great! Hahahah!” Mordred cheered, the wine glass was back to his hand again, and offered Gargan a toast, of which he took. “I will awaiting your good news then, Mr. Kiri. Take those with you.” He pointed to the bundle of paper in Gargan hands, “They should have the general location of the Fae of The Sky last transmission, as well as a list of merchandise she was carrying.”


Gargan spent another hour at Mordred’s estate, discussing the jobs, and enjoyed his finely crafted meal. After that, he bid the mahogany haired man goodbye, and left in order to prepare for his job. Most of his EDC was adequip for the job already, but there is no harm to be overly prepared, and Gargan visited a smith, as he had left most of his equipment there for inspection and repair.


“Lark….Are you sure we can trust him?” Mordred asked, and the question lingered in the air for some time, before the wool curtain fell, revealing a dwarf.


“Yes, Master….I have checked on his reports from the guild, and his tracking skill was one of the best I could find. And, he doesn’t seem to have any connection to either the nobles, or those pesky Leonar….I believe we could trust him to not leak anything.”


“....Can we trust an Outlander?” Mordred rephased his question, as he wasn’t satisfied with Lark’s response.


“He has no relatives here, and he seems to be smart enough to keep his mouth quiet. If he stepped out of line, I believe no one would miss him, however .... That is why I recommended him.” The dwarf took Gargan's seat, and took a hearty drink from Gargan’s untouched glass. “Although I believe that is unnecessary.”


“...Very well then.” Mordred nodded, and called for a maid, who swiftly entered the dining room, and stood silently at the corner of the table, awaiting her master’s order. “Have either Digby or Ben on him, and tell them to report back to me if that bird even found out about those.”


The maind gracefully bowed and stepped out, and Lark gave Mordred a side eye, “You are as careful as alway, Master….”


“You have too, when you are in my position, Lark.” Mordred shrugged of the glance, and left for his office, as there are more urgent matters that need better attention. “When you finish with that glass, I need you to leave for Cimon….Or is it Sleepy Hollow now? Anyway, we need to calm our valuable clients down first.”


The dwarf grunted, mumbled about it to himself, and offered a tired affirmative. “Why is it alway me….”


As for Gargan, he was no fool, and a simple explanation as ‘we need to keep this operation a secret for our reputation’ didn’t quite add up. It did make perfect sense, yes, but it was too simple of a reason to go out if his way to hire him, a barely nobody without any noticeable achievement here.


Over the years of dealing with foxy and cunning aristocrates, Gargan has honed his instinct and sixth sense enough to sniff out something fishy. ‘This should be fun….’ He thought, and entered the smithy. ‘I wondered what they were hiding. Well, I shall discover it soon enough.’