A tale of fish and wine Part 3

May
13

The hour was fast approaching ten o’clock as Captain Firecrest approached the tavern housed below the airship tower. His heavily garlic infused dinner had settled nicely. He hoped it would make his blood rather unappealing to any nocturnal followers he might have.

Rounding a corner, he saw the tavern where he was to meet his contact, a small establishment servicing travellers and dock workers with drink and company of an evening. He chuckled to himself at the name on the sign, The Wrong Elephant.

Russ stepped inside, taking in those present. There were several rough looking worker types, a few out of town travellers and at least one man in a dark formal looking robe. After a moment, he saw a man sitting at a table in the corner, monocled eye peering over a newspaper at him. The lapel of his expensive jacket was adorned with a blood red rose.

The man sat sipping a cup of tea. As he put down his newspaper, Russ took in his expensive, high class clothing and thin frame. His face was pale and seemingly gaunt, slightly sunken eyes seeming to glint with watchful intelligence.

Winston sat straight and proper, sitting primly and dabbing at his lips with a napkin. He looked the Captain over as he approached, "A new face from Babbage, hmm? I do hope our mutual friend has chosen a more reliable courier."

Russ strode over to the table and tipped his hat. "I do my best."

Winston tipped his own bowler hat in acknowledgement, "I do hope it's enough. Now, let's get to it, shall we?"

Captain Firecrest took a seat. "Righto." He looked around to ensure no one within earshot was paying attention. "I have a cargo hold full of something I believe might be of interest to you." He paused to wave a barmaid over and ordered himself an ale.

Winston nodded, his face not hinting at the slightest emotion, "I see..." He waited until the barmaid was out of sight once again before continuing, "We have a shipment of wine in exchange and payment as was agreed upon." He reached beneath the table and withdrew a pouch of coins. Setting it upon the table, he pushed it across to the Captain.

Setting his ale aside Russ weighed the pouch in his hand. Remembering the warning given to him by Mr Melnik, he decided to count the coins. Feeling a slight hint of worry and annoyance at the back of his mind as he discovered it was about ten percent short, the Captain took a sip of his ale, then looked up at the gentleman across from him. "I believe the agreed amount was somewhat higher."

Winston took a sip of his tea, watching the man count the money. He set the tea down again as Russ spoke, pulled his handkerchief loose and proceeded to clean his monocle, "Economy, you know. And really, is exchanging some foul fish for some of the world's most exclusive wine a fair trade? And a bit of coin, to boot? I think not."

Russ looked at the man through his purple tinted spectacles with a slight smile. "It may smell foul to your nose, but it is revered as a delicacy by many. I'm sure it will fetch you a tidy profit, especially given the difficulty of obtaining it this far from New Babbage." He paused to sip his ale. "Economy as it is, I'm sure you'll understand that a transporter must cover his expenses?"

Winston slowed the polishing of this eyeglass as he watched the captain, pausing for a moment before popping the monocle back into place. He picked up the tea with one hand and reached down for a smaller pouch, setting it on the table and pushing it across to the captain, "Very well, then. I shall take it up with our mutual friend directly. I'll have crates delivered to the docks immediately..." He shot a look to an unassuming man leaning against a post at the other end of the pub, performing a curt nod. The man returned the nod and slipped out the door, "We have eyes everywhere in Ravila, Captain. Rest assured we know precisely where you're docked and the cargo will be delivered shortly."

Russ smiled. "Excellent. Pleasure doing business with you." He took another sip of ale before continuing. "Yours didn't seem to be the only eyes observing goings on. I did notice several chaps in dark robes while I was toodling around. I take it things are still a little tense?"

Winston allowed a wry smile to pass his lips, "Tense, yes. But generation will come and go and we will still be here and they will have forgotten about us." He didn't bother to look at the two black clad builders near the bar, "And perhaps, Captain, if you prove capable of continuing transport on a timely manner, we will have need of your service to other areas. Good help is hard to find, you know." He finished his tea and slipped a coin onto the table, "Our business is concluded and I have much more to conduct before the evening is through. I shall verify that the cargo is transferred, personally, after I've concluded such."

Captain Firecrest nodded and finished his ale. "Very well then, I shall head back and get the cargo ready for transfer." He stood and headed for the door, pausing to tip his hat at the barmaid, who gave him a confused and annoyed look which he ignored with a oblivious smile.

Stepping out of the door, Russ walked towards the stairs to the dock where the Albatross sat waiting. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Winston striding purposefully away.

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4