Closing a deal, part one

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A large part of the fields surrounding the road leading out of Belgera had been turned into a temporary town with wagons instead of houses, and that town was soon becoming the major market in the capital.

At first Harbend had been afraid local merchants would turn sour, but it was all too evident that resuming trade was something all had longed for. He received almost no complaints at all, and the few reaching him were mostly about traders celebrating their stay here too lively. A couple of fights over girls were inevitable, but as the reveling men brought more money to empty coffers the innkeepers only sighed, cleaned up the broken furniture and happily counted the money Harbend paid for the damage.

As furniture, cloth and instruments found their way into the capital a steady stream of metal bars, sharp blades, horse shoes and a multitude of farming tools, all metal, went in the opposite direction. The mechanical devices Harbend bought in Verd paid off handsomely, as did the brandy and the furniture from Erkateren. With the wares he bought in exchange he was certain to make enough profit selling it back home to pay one full years rent in advance and still have his wagons and horses. One more caravan and he'd be able to pay back the money he borrowed from Arthur and keep a modest fortune enough to buy goods for a third.

The traders from Ri Khi would be better off. Many of them had brought their own wagons and goods they had produced themselves, as was the case with those from Erkateren who dared the journey. The thought didn't bring any dismay to Harbend. He still needed each caravan at least a hundred wagons strong to be economically sound, and the best way to keep numbers up was to have traders returning a lot wealthier than when they departed.

Right now he needed to make sure they had everything they needed for their safe return to Erkateren and Keen. And safe meant increasing their escort. He'd already paid Captain Trindai and Nakora several eightdays in advance. Armed soldiers were better at guarding money than he was.

His mind wandered to a picture of Nakora and laughing children. Wishful thinking to say the least. It didn't matter. He wanted to show her Verd and Hasselden, and he longed for an opportunity to settle down somewhere with her at his side. She returned his feelings, and if he didn't anger her too much, well maybe, some day.

Harbend walked through Downtown in search for the traders he'd assigned command during his hunt for Arthur. They retained some of that role even after he returned, and he wanted to plan the journey back with them. With some luck they'd all be on their way home within an eightday.

He hoped for a short meeting with the traders. Arthur was expecting him for some kind of meeting planned at late afternoon or early evening. Harbend wasn't about to miss that. It probably had something to do with Arthur's spending time with Karia, and Harbend was curious what it was all about. One thing was certain with Arthur. There were few boring moments when he got an idea and decided to carry it off.

Harbend grinned and a woman made a surprised face as if he'd addressed her. Harbend twisted his grin into a smile and bowed, but his mind was elsewhere. There were few boring moments whenever Arthur was involved. The man had a way of getting involved in interesting events even if he didn't intend to. Outworld must be an exciting place to produce men like Arthur. Maybe one day Harbend would be able to visit it himself. He smiled at the thought and made himself ready for his meeting.

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