Signe questions the harbormaster about the authority of the Inquisitors. The harbormaster is noticeably uncomfortable discussing the matter in public, or even being witness to someone else discussing it.
Enzo advises Josiah that Pacatezza in the Vestini region is where he wants to set up shop, as the larger city will bring more business.
Enzo notes that they have arrived on Market Day, which he considers a very good omen, but also means that they will have to move quickly to sell their cargo, or risk having to wait another week. To this end, Signe orders everything to be unloaded right onto the dock, despite the protests of the harbormaster. She also tasks Enzo with spreading the word that she’s prepared to offer a 10% discount for anyone who’s willing to cart off the iron after buying. Enzo asks about the beer, and Signe says she has other plans for that.
Enzo goes to his contact Norberto to talk about unloading the cargo. He makes Signe’s offer known, and Norberto says he’ll take care of it.
Signe brings Eric and Christof to every pub along the waterfront, ordering a beer at each one, to see which is the most watered down. She and Christof are able to determine that a tavern on the waterfront called The Castle has this dubious distinction. Confronting the owner, a man named Federico, in heavily accented and broken Vodacce, Signe berates him for the poor quality of his stock. He is embarrassed enough to entreat her to speak in private.
Once behind closed doors, Signe changes her demeanor instantly, offering him 10 kegs at what she believes to be a reasonable price. Federico, however, is crestfallen, and says he would be able to purchase only a couple of kegs at the price she quoted. She questions him, and he informs her that Prince Mondavi’s guards came by the night before and confiscated the majority of his stock for a private party at the Palazzo, leaving him with little to sell in Market Day, and no coin ro show for it. Signe determines that he is telling the truth, and tells him to follow her lead.
Back in the common room, she makes a big show of being friendly with Federico, calling him “cousin”. He plays along and marvels at the joke she played on him. She tells him that she has 20 kegs for him at the dock, and his boys had better come pick it up quickly. Federico is taken aback, and thanks her profusely. She responds that she expects to drink for free whenever she returns.
Trust No One, Part 4
Abul goes shopping. It’s not a difficult task, as all the streets of the city are lined with stalls on Market Day. He finds a young woman named Teresa selling portraits that have been painted on flat wooden boards. He asks her about them, and she says they’re no one in particular, just the people she sees in her dreams. He commissions her to paint something more abstract, and she begins working on a painting of a clock, with no hands or numbers on the face.
Abul then locates a woodworker named Anselmo, who is selling carved wooden toy horses, ships, and soldiers. Abul commissions from him a set of clock numbers with small pegs on the back, as well as a set of clock hands.
A few hours later, he collects the completed numbers and hands, and finds them to be an adequate match for the completed painting, which has now had holes drilled in the face in the appropriate places. He finds that while the numbers and the hands fit snugly in place, they can easily be rearranged at will. Teresa is duly impressed.
He then follows the directions given by Professor Colmer to locate the house where Dr. Domenzio Sartore is hiding out. The door is answered by an older man with a very guarded demeanor. However, upon hearing Professor Colmer’s name, and giving Abul a look up and down, the man decides that it is unlikely that Abul is not likely to be a threat, and so he quickly ushers him inside.
Once the door is closed, the man apologizes for his paranoia, and introduces himself as Dr. Sartore. When Abul gives his own name, Dr. Sartore informs him that he has read some of Abul’s published work, and was very impressed. Abul explains that he was sent to deliver a parcel. Dr. Sartore opens it and briefly peruses the papers inside, but declines from giving them a thorough examination.
Abul presents the painting of the clock as a gift, which Dr. Sartore receives with much enthusiasm. In fact, inspiration strikes him then and there, and he and Abul end up spending the next several hours devising a new cipher based on the position of the numbers and the hands. During that time, Abul gets to know the man a bit better, and learns that he was Senior Professor of Mathematics at the University of Vestini, until the Inquisition drove him into hiding.
Signe returns to the docks with Federico’s nephews in tow, and finds Enzo there already. She questions him about the task she set him, and he says he has it covered. Sure enough, over the next half hour there’s a steady stream of buyers for the iron. Negotiations are spirited, and Signe finds herself tested by the haggling skills of native Vodacce merchants. In the end, however, she still manages to make a tidy profit. This goes a long way toward offsetting the loss she took on the alcohol she gave away to Federico. In just over an hour, they manage to clear the docks of their entire cargo, much to the amazement of the harbormaster (and to the amusement of the representative from the bank). Signe takes her officers to celebrate at one of the restaurants recommended by the harbormaster.
The crew receives a less than warm welcome at the rather upscale restaurant, but Signe is able to smooth things out with generous application of coin. Securing a table, she discusses the day’s events with Enzo. They speculate on the tavern owner being shaken down by the Prince’s men. From what Enzo knows of Prince Mondavi, he guesses it’s likely that the guards were ordered to purchase beer, but decided to throw their weight around a bit, and keep the coin. Signe says that if any of Uncle Ulfgar’s men were to attempt something like that, he would likely kill them for stealing from him (but then again, Ulfgar very likely knows his men a lot better than Prince Mondavi does).
After a long leisurely lunch, followed by lots of wine, Signe and co are still at the table (and considering ordering dinner) when Abul arrives, following the directions given by the crew standing watch at the docks.# NotPirates