Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
I was up with the first hint of dawn and dressed before going next door. Men were already moving around and some headed towards the gates to catch farmers heading into the city. I caught a few of the older boys, “find a boat and go to the down river wall. I have been thinking and merchants sometimes just throw empty barrels in the river. The city guards only clear the bars once a month and I don’t think they have done it for a long time.”
They looked at each other and I cuffed one, “Think boys, what do merchants always need? They buy new barrels all the time. What if we provide a few to them?”
They went from frowning to grins. I nodded, “pay attention while near the river and watch for snakes.”
They sobered and nodded and I gestured, “One of you go look to see how many barrels there are and one of you see if we have an empty wagon to use to haul the barrels back here.”
I let them work it out and went to check on the tannery. Everything was going smoothly so I went into the city. I was shopping for fresh bread when I almost ran into Duke Edwards. I turned and crouched while bending my neck as I finished buying a couple of large sacks full of bread rolls. He was arrogant, rude and stuffy as always. He was also one of the few that might recognize me.
When he stomped off I paid the baker and left, I was thinking the whole way back. The warehouse seemed happy and full of barrels when I got there. I had to smile at the huge supply the boys had brought back. I clapped one on the back, “Now you get some of the boys and girls to go around to the shops and ask if they need barrels.”
He grinned and nodded as he started yelling names. I helped here or there as men moved wagons and carts around. All day I was thinking about Duke Edwards, he was a powerful noble. He was also out of favor with my brother because he took care of the people in his duchy. It was right before dinner that a large group of families arrived.
Jacob was next to me and murmured that they were from the far side of the city. They were homeless and everyone just shifted around and we made room. I slipped through the streets that night, it was after midnight as I silently made my to the bridge. I slipped in and climbed up to cross above the guards. I slipped away from the bridge quietly on the other side.
The large estate I went to was close to the river fork and the king’s keep. I used a small side gate to enter. I watched the guards before crossing to the manor and climbing the wooden trellis. I quietly slipped onto the second floor balcony and crossed to the door. It was unlocked and I slipped in before standing still to let my eyes adjust.
“It took you long enough.”
I looked towards the fireplace to see the faint outline of the duke sitting in front of it. I looked at the bed and he snorted, “You know she has always slept soundly.”
I crossed to the other chair and sat beside him, “You saw me.”
He chuckled, “I would have had to be blind not to.”
I hesitated, “Have you told my brother?”
He snorted again, “As if he would even consent to see me.”
I looked at him, “what are you going to do?”
The duke smiled, “Besides watch you rob the rich snobs trying to destroy the country?”
I smiled, “You know about that too.”
He nodded and shifted, “Duke Brasalow is close to your brother now. He whispers in his ear and most of the laws or decrees come from him.”
I frowned, “I thought Brasalow was a baron?”
The duke snorted again, “He was until your brother removed Duke Patrick and put Brasalow in his place.”
I thought about that, “What happened to Patrick and his family?”
He sighed and finally shifted, “he was supposed to be hung and his family turned out.”
I looked at him and then grinned, “their here?”
He nodded and I sat back, “any chance you can get them out and to the warehouse I am using?”
The duke looked at me, “Why?”
I smiled, “Well, it isn’t as nice as here but I could use him.”
He smiled and then laughed, “more schemes for the poor?”
I nodded, “For the people.”
The Duke grinned and sat back, “I’ll send a list with him.”
I stood, “don’t make to many waves uncle.”
He grinned and nodded to the window, “those guards may be mine but they report everything to your brother.”
I slipped out of the manor and then the estate. I hesitated before moving towards the king’s keep and a large estate next to it. It was fairly simple to slip in and across to the manor. I was able to use a side door and shook my head at the lack of guards. I found the study and unlocked the door before going in. Another door was locked and I opened it to see several large chests. Each one was filled with gold and silver coins.
I closed and locked the door before locking the study door behind me. By the time I crawled into bed it was almost time to get up. The morning was as busy as every morning with finding food for everyone. I glanced up when a cloaked man and woman walked up to the fire with two young children. I smiled, “welcome uncle.”
Duke Patrick smiled, “hello William, how was your adventuring?”
I grinned, “enlightening.”
I smiled at his wife, “I’m glade you are safe.”
She smiled and glanced around, “nice place.”
I looked around, “it’s growing.”
I sighed and looked at Patrick, “will you join me?’
He nodded, “What else can I do?”
I glanced around again, “I started a business to give them hope. I need someone that knows business. Those that are struggling inside the city can use a good money lender. I think if they have... uncounted funds they may fair better.”
Patrick grinned, “and be in your debt?”
I shrugged, “our debt. My brother might not always be in power.”
He nodded, “True, most of the loyal nobles are keeping their heads down but that may change.”
I looked around, “can you make a list of those that are still here in the city?”
Patrick nodded, “easily.”
I snagged an older boy walking by, “I need two of you and one of the older girls that knows her numbers.”
He grinned, “sure, we were just going after a nest of snakes that was reported by a guard.”
Patrick hissed and his wife paled, I sighed, “Tell them to use the long sticks and remove the heads a few inches...”
He grinned, “we know.”
I nodded and let him go before looking at Patrick, “One of the things I learned while traveling.”
I smiled as I thought and looked at him, “Check out the old tannery for space for you and your family. Start with the smaller merchants like the bakers, blacksmiths and butchers, also any farmer that need help let... Jacob or my scribe know if they just need helpers.”
Patrick nodded and looked around, “Who do I see about the money to lend them?”
I raised an eyebrow and he nodded before turning away. I went to see the scribe to tell her about the new man named Patrick and what he was doing. After that I went walking around inside the city. I listened to the rumors and gossip as well as complaints. There was a lot that had been sent to the king and gone unanswered. I was returning when a new proclamation was posted.
It was a new tax the king was imposing on the shopkeepers and merchants. When I reached the warehouse men and women were arguing and I pushed my way to the center, “Quiet!”
I looked around, “the tax is for the merchants and shopkeepers. I am the listed merchant here.”
I looked around at everyone and smiled, “We don’t have to tell the tax collector the profits don’t come to me.”
It was a moment before they laughed and things lightened up. A couple of farmers stopped on their way out of the city to sell some of their food to us. Patrick and his family seemed to blend in with the others as everyone pitched in to get things done. His wife and daughters slipped away with the other women. When he looked around and ask where the women had gone all the men chuckled.
After it got dark everyone slipped away to their beds. I made sure Patrick and his family had someplace to sleep before going to my room. I slipped through the wall and moved through the shadowy streets. Tonight was going to be busy. I slipped into the gatehouse and crossed over to the nobles retreat. I moved more carefully now. When I reached the estate that Brasalow had taken I waited and watched.
Like before there wasn’t any guards, I slipped into the estate and into the manor. I picked the locks again as I heard laughing in the great hall. I lifted the first chest and silently carried it out and across to the wall. I went back for another chest and then another, there were four chests altogether. I had to keep using relays to move the chest through the retreat.
I knew that if Brasalow had influence with my brother every house would be searched. I moved the chests all the way up to the old half sunken boathouse. I had to move a few snakes away before sinking them in the river. I went back to the bridge and slipped across before moving through the city. I took extra time to move old hay in front of the door into the granary before slipping through.
I went to sleep and woke to the tap at my door.
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