"Gentlemen, you are idiots. And because you are idiots, I am going to explain this next part very carefully. I, gentlemen, have personally committed every crime in the book except three. I have never had carnal knowledge of an animal, because, quite frankly, the idea sickens me. I've never committed barratry - not to my knowledge, anyhow - because I have no idea what barratry is. And I've never committed treason. Do you know why I have never committed treason?"
"It would be hard for anyone in your guild to survive what happened next, I am guessing."
"Yes, but not because of any official response. It is because treason destabilises a country. Some people - short-sighted, thoughtless people, people much like yourselves - might think that a destabilised political situation is good for thieves and murderers. Such people would be wrong. It's good for about two weeks, and then there's nothing left to steal. No, as thieves, we want a stable political situation. We want a city that merchants can get rich in, so that when we rob them, we can get something worth our while. And now you gentlemen tell me that someone is going around summoning demons, and that the Queen was affected, not by the falling-sickness which took her father, but by a rare and powerful poison that you might be able to find an antidote to. Demons, gentlemen, are bad for business. And the Primate is bad for business. The Queen had her flaws, but she sharply discouraged bribery and encouraged policies which gave merchants a fair playing field. Neither of which the Primate does. Therefore, gentlemen, I am minded to be sympathetic to your request, because if the Queen recovers, then it is to my benefit as well. So, this is what we will do, gentlemen. There is not a single speck of Darestim to be had in the entire city of Cimmura - lack of demand, you understand. So, you will go to Rendor. I will provide for you a representative, who will know where to go to find Darestim, and how much to pay for it. You will take my representative with you, to the city of Jiroch in Rendor, and from there follow his directions. You will obtain your sample, and you will return my representative to me unharmed. If my representative is harmed in any permanent manner or killed, you will receive the same treatment. Should you succeed in your quest and save the Queen, then you will arrange for me a brief audience with her - half an hour will be sufficient - at which time the Queen and I will discuss the matter of a suitable quid pro quo for my services to the Crown. Is this sufficiently clear, or do you require it in smaller words?"
"I am sure Her Majesty will be finding the conversation enlightening. And you would be finding barratry is rarely worth the time and effort needed. Simony is much more cost effective. So where and when will your representative be joining us? Here and now, or outside the city later?"
"Right now, you'd be able to find him at Harga's House of Ribs, where he's waiting to meet you and bring you here. Go deliver this to young Talen, would you?"
"That will be all, gentlemen. You are dismissed."
"Very well; your representative can bring the other poisons on the list with him."
(In English:) "We should probably be going; there are kittens to play with and apples to eat back in the chapter house."
"Just the ones that don't have easily available antidotes, or do you want those too?"
"Antidotes aside, a poison can easily be a medicine for an illness or disease if one finds the right method of refinement or the proper angle for application. It's why I wanted to get a whole bunch of samples at once."
"You'll pay cash on delivery, then. Now go."
"They're gone, boss."
"They went into a tea shop with old Lenda."
"So, what're we going to do about them, boss?"
"Hmph. Tell me, do any of you know your ancient legends?"
"...how do you mean, boss?"
"Ever heard of elves?"
"Ain't they just a kid's story, boss?"
"Hmph. Education today. And yes, Jimothy, they are a kid's story. Like vampires or the Shining Ones -"
"Don't be an idiot, Thumper, Northern Thalesia is just crawling with trolls. Anyway, I never thought there was any truth in it before, but now... in all the stories, elves live in a shining, beautiful city that appears out of nowhere, usually once every hundred years or so, and they have magic fr beyond even the most learned of Styrics. They send some of their people out of the city, usually outwit but occasionally are outwitted by the local people, head back into their city, and vanish for the next hundred years - along with anyone greedy or stupid enough to be in the city when it goes."
"...you think these are elves, boss?"
"Well, they certainly live in a city that appeared out of nowhere, and they certainly have magic far beyond any Styric I've ever met..."
"So what do we do, boss?"
"For the moment, we're cooperative. Young Talen's the perfect contact point, all the stories say that the elves won't harm small children, and often give them some sort of magical artefact before vanishing. But we try to learn more about them."
"...and we have all this stuff Talen took off them checked for signs of magic."
CCC wrote:"And unfortunately, neither are going to be much use around here for... oh, long time. The only computer issue that David can't solve is who keeps waking people up - any luck finding out, by the way? - and everyone here speaks English. You can work on the translation program equally well from anywhere, and being out there you'll get exposed to the other local languages; so it'll be better to have you with them than stuck here fetching and carrying for -"
CCC wrote:*Radio Chatter*
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