Check out the start of the series.
Owin woke late in the morning. Debris filled the room around him and the odor held a sickly sweetness. As far as he could tell, no one else had entered the room in the abandoned building during the night. Eventually, it was a given that the Duke would be required to tear down the decaying buildings in this part of the town, but until then, Owin was willing to use them from time to time.
He rarely stayed in Elsin’s flat. Her place had two bedrooms, one that Elsin shared with Gwen, and the other her mother used. Sleeping on the floor in their front room did not provide a restful night’s sleep nor any privacy. Most nights, he stayed in his own rented room located in a workhouse willing to let the extra space. Most of the time the room was safe enough; however, after a job, he never went to either location until it was certain no one followed him.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he pushed himself into a sitting position. The bolt of cloth had provided a reasonable pillow, but nothing else about the night’s sleep had proven enjoyable. Noticing the cloth’s interesting shade of green he frowned. There were enough people wearing the color in Rhyl, but he really did not want to don clothing that would remind him of pea soup.
“Damn the loss of my rope,” he said, still irritated about leaving it behind. It also meant they would know someone had robbed them. He always tried to avoid an obvious signs that would indicate something had happened or more importantly, how it happened. But, nothing to be done now.
Putting that worry from his mind, he pulled his bag closer and opened the heavy sack. Careful to avoid spilling any of the pouches of spices, he took each one out until all that remained in the bag was the grappling hook and its rope. “At least I didn’t lose that.” Looking at the dozen pouches he grinned. “Though this might cover my costs.” He opened one of the pouches that had no aroma and sampled some of the white crystals. The sweet granules on his tongue brought images of coins to his mind. “Definitely worth the cost of a rope.”
Sorting the spices, he took a rough estimate of what he could get for the goods and he knew even with selling everything cheap, he could get at least two crowns for what he had. That much money would cover most decent sized families for a couple of months. At least their basics.
Feeling and hearing his stomach rumble, he gathered up the spices, putting them back into his bag. Using a worn fragment of a blanket from the floor, he concealed the bolt of cloth. The cloth would be the easiest to unload. He knew Gina would give him a reasonable price in the form of ointment. The other goods posed a little more trouble. There were a few bakers he knew that would not ask questions, but they would not take everything off his hands right away. Since he paid no obligation to any of the local gangs, any sales he made required a high degree of discretion, both for him and the buyer. That meant he would need to find a place to store the extra goods for a while.
With his gear secured, he slipped out the back of the building and headed across town to get rid of the bulky cloth. On the way, he tried to work out possible arguments to convince Elsin to let him store the goods with her, but never quite came up with something he suspected she would accept. I know I could get Gwen to hide it, but he hated to use her in the fashion.
He reached Gina’s around midday and once the customer in the shop left, he pulled out the cloth for her perusal. “Owin, this is excellent quality material. However, I need to discuss your taste in colors.”
“It was very dark. I took it by feel. I can’t help it that what felt good looked like that.”
She smiled at him and leaned back in her chair. “I will take it, only because it is you. However, next time, find me something that has some red in it.”
Owin nodded his head. In the back of his mind, he argued with himself about revealing the other things he saw in the warehouse. I don’t have anyone to sell the information to anyway, he finally decided. “Just a bit of a warning. I fear we might be looking at another war building. The Duke appears to have ordered a large number of swords. I saw crates of them in the warehouse last night.”
“Owin, you need to leave town. If that is true, they’ll conscript half the men again. You used to work for the Duke. You know what it was like.”
Owin’s breath caught despite the time since Gavin had died. “I’m not sure he’d want me back. But I was thinking about you as well.”
Gina shrugged. “I’m old enough not to care too much anymore.”
“Yeah, but you could take a boat to Pandaris and settle down nicely there.” He looked at the aging woman and knew she would never leave Rhyl. She grew up in this city and buried two husbands here. “Just make sure you keep a little hidden back in case they come to extort extra taxes again.”
“What else do you have in that heavy sack of yours?”
Owin shook his head. “I don’t want to get you involved with that.”
“Really? You bring me stolen silk so you can buy cheap ointment the priests would not take kindly to me selling and now you want to keep me out of it?”
“I’m more afraid you’d beat me over the head and steal it from me.” Setting the bag on the table, he reached inside and pulled out a pouch filled with sweet-smelling dried leaves.
“Oh, very nice,” Gina said, getting easily to feet, belying her apparent age. “Bergamot. I should get my tea-pot now.”
“No,” Owin said, picking up the pouch. “That’s what I want to avoid. I need to sell this to see if I can get enough money together to take care of Elsin.”
“Calm yourself. I’m only fooling with you.”
Owin noted her eyes had not left the pouch. “I can give you some if it will help cover the cost of the ointment. But there are a number of different things in here and I really need to find buyers that can pay me coin for them.”
She looked up to his eyes. “I think I could be agreeable to that trade. And if you want to store your extra here until you sell it, I would watch it for a modest fee.”
Owin chuckled. He knew she would take a sizable share, but that would avoid him having to store any at Elsin’s home. He could give up some profit in exchange for leaving them out of this business. “Okay, I’ll trust you, but only because I can.”